Saturday, May 31, 2008

I believe the poles are shifting . . .

We saw R.E.M. on Thursday night, and it was awesome -- they put on a great show, as always. But we can't believe that on this tour, in 2008, they're not playing "I Believe".

I mean, Obama's campaign slogan, "Change we can believe in", is practically a lyric from the song! Michael Stipe is (to the surprise of no one) supporting Obama! This would be the most obvious song to play to get people riled up and excited about voting, but instead they're playing "Ignoreland" (which admittedly is pretty good live).

Maybe no one can play the banjo intro anymore.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Waving the white flag

This basketball postseason has seen a wave of home teams surrendering home-court advantage by waving the white flag. The "white-out" tradition of having all the fans wear white apparently started back in time immemorial by the Winnipeg Jets (I hate Winnipeg). And I guess it works in hockey...the Penguins have had three white-outs this post-season, and have won all three games (including tonight against the Red Wings!).

In the NBA the Miami Heat used the white-out to great advantage during their 2006 championship run (apparently the white t-shirts blinded the refs and caused them to give Dwyane Wade every call). But this season? Not so successful.

The New Orleans Hornets used yellow t-shirts to great effect in games 1 and 5 against the game 1 the crowd was rockin', and the yellow looked good on TV. But in game 7 the sponsors must have gotten cheap and switched to white t-shirts which weren't nearly as impressive, and they were killed by the Spurs.

Lakers @ Spurs, game 4? White-out, Spurs were beaten. (Thank you white t-shirts!)
Boston @ Detroit, game 3? White-out, Detroit was killed.
Cleveland @ Washington, game 3? White-out, success!

That makes the white-out 1-3 at home in this post-season, when home teams are overall a ridiculous 58-20 (as of May 28th).

I hope this unimpressive "tradition" of surrender dies a quick death. (Unless the Spurs or Celtics want to try it against the Lakers. I'd be happy with that).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tandoori or don't we?

Tonight Becky and I made Mark Bittman's Twice Cooked Mock Tandoori Chicken. We've previously tried Madhur Jaffrey's Tandoori Chicken from An Invitation to Indian Cooking (a classic from 1973 with the world's longest subtitle).

What's new and interesting about Bittman's version is the cooking method: baking the chicken in the sauce first, and then grilling it to finish. We think this worked well, but (a) the baking time was waaaay too long (b) there was about 3x too large yogurt to spice ratio and (c) it didn't actually taste like tandoori chicken (it must be noted that we never got the Jaffrey recipe to taste like tandoori chicken either!). One of the problems was that the chicken was still too wet when we put it on the grill. When Bittman says to scrape away the excess sauce before grilling, he means it!

We had it with fresh-baked naan which came out very tasty, which we finished on the grill.

Solving the world's problems with satire!

I never thought I'd be excited about an Adam Sandler movie, but I have been looking forward to You Don't Mess with the Zohan. And now, after reading this article about the conception and evolution of the movie, I'm totally sold.

Perhaps we're reading too much into it, but we were both charmed by this:
“Adam Sandler, in the Arab and Muslim communities, is not having a good reputation,” said Sayed Badreya, an Egyptian-born actor who plays one of Zohan’s adversaries in New York. “When it came to working with Adam, I was like, ‘Eh, well, I don’t know.’ My prejudice was bigger than me.” Mr. Badreya said he had been persuaded to reconsider, in part, by his teenage daughter, a huge fan of Mr. Sandler’s films.

Hooray for teenaged fans of Adam Sandler -- breaking barriers and making the world a better place!

Meanwhile, we suspect that the success of West Bank Story also helped in making the Zohan possible. You can buy it on iTunes, and it is definitely worth the $2 and twenty minutes of your time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Presenting Mr. and Mr. Sulu

Among the many gay couples that can now legally marry in California are George Takei and his long-term partner! Congrats to everyone!

I've never seen an episode of Star Trek, so my only exposure to Takei has been from one of my favorite Daily Show clips ever:

Now I know why he sounds so startled when Samantha Bee asks him about "Young Wet Bitches".

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No, let me tip my 20-gallon hat to you!

The city of Santa Barbara is promoting a 20 Gallon Challenge, listing ways to reduce your water consumption by 20 gal/day. I find the list frustrating, however, because many of the suggestions are either bleedingly obvious, or only helpful for owners, not renters.

So the things on the list that we already do to save water:
  • Turn off water when brushing teeth.
  • Take short showers (At 2 gal/min on a good day, there's a limit to how much shorter they can get).
  • Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket (who does that?).
  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
  • Wash outdoor furniture by hand instead of just hosing down.

The things that are not applicable to us:
  • Leaky faucets and toilets.
  • Flow restrictors on faucets (definitely not needed on days when we're only getting 0.7 gal/min).
  • Replacing the washing machine
  • Dishwasher usage
  • All the landscaping suggestions. I love the landscaping suggestions -- I just wish we had the power to implement them.

That leaves one suggestion that we probably could use, which is to be more careful about running water when washing dishes.

(I don't want to think about how much water is wasted in watering our front yard. If it were up to me, our front yard would consist of palm trees, lemon trees, aloe plants, and gravel. Instead, like every other yard in our neighborhood, it has grass. Not exactly native to southern California. But I'm pretty sure our landlord is not about to re-landscape the front yard.)

I'm not saying these suggestions aren't a good place to start -- they're fine. But if you're going to talk about reducing water, you can't ignore the vast quantities of water involved in agriculture or ethanol production. Saving water doesn't stop at your front gate, and I just wish that people talked about this more.

On the bright side, this means that if you're reducing your gasoline usage or high-fructose corn syrup intake for other reasons, you're probably already reducing your water usage, too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

La-Zed Spaghetti

One of our favorite easy dishes is Marcella Hazan's "Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter". It highlights the flavor of fresh tomatoes and is easy to boot. There's no garlic, no oregano, no basil, no gimmicks. Just a simple, delicious tomato sauce.

2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
5 tablespoons butter3/4 pounds pasta

We usually do this with spaghetti, but Marcella recommends Potato Gnocchi.

Core tomatoes and blanch them in boiling water for 30-60s. Put them in cold water to cool, and then the peels should fall right off. Chop the peeled tomatoes into coarse pieces and put them in a large saucepan with the butter, onion, and a couple pinches of salt. Cook uncovered at a slow simmer for 45-60 minutes. After 30-45 minutes put the pasta water on to boil with lots of salt. Before the pasta is ready, remove a few tablespoons of cooking water.

When the pasta is ready, remove the onion from the tomato sauce and discard. Taste and correct for salt. Mix the drained pasta with the sauce and a little of the pasta water. Serve with grated parmesan.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Worst Beer Ever!

I've had a lot of beer in my life, but which is the worst?

Is it the Sam Adams Triple Bock, which Eli described in two words: soy sauce?

Is it the Trader Joe's Hefeweizen, which promises flavors of "banana, bubble gum, and clove", and more than lives up to the threat?

Is it the Arbor Brewing Company's Smoked Lager, which tasted like bacon? I can tell you all right now, that beer and bacon are not two great tastes that go together.

Or is it some other beer that I've been fortunate enough to avoid so far?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This blog is green!

We are pleased to announce that our new blog is "green." Because that is the template that Becky chose.

Last month's electricity bill was about 20% higher than the previous month. I realized this is because Becky has been working at the desk in the bedroom...and because the light switch in the bedroom is on a dimmer, we couldn't use CFLs. So today I bought a pair of CFLs and a new light switch ($12 total) and did some low budget electrical work. I figure we should make that back in about 4 months.


I finally convinced Eli to start blogging with me, so here we are! Content to follow soon, I promise.