Monday, May 30, 2011

My Memories Day

Memorial Day usually translates to Memories Day for me. Not taking anything away from the veterans, I've known none personally that would illicit memorializing so I think of loved ones in my past who are now just memories.

In this spirit, I visited my sister-in-law's Facebook page and noticed new photos of her and her sons, my nephews. I've included one below. She looks still very much the same but her boys...I last saw the oldest (who now, as you can see, towers above his mother) when he was 2, and the younger one, I never met.

Funny how a decade can pass when you're middle-aged and nothing much seems to change. I look somewhat the same (like Kim in the photo) as I did ten years ago (albeit fatter) and everyone I associate on a regular basis is either newer in my life or, like Ric, also relatively unchanged.

When you have kids though, the years make their mark more obviously. In one decade a toddler becomes a post-pubescent teenager soon about to enter into adulthood.

Kinda explains the phenomenon I've noticed time and time again. People my age who have had kids tend to act more "adult" and "mature", whereas, those like me staying single and childless seem more "childlike" and "immature" themselves. I'm not making any judgement as to which is the most appropriate way to be for ones my age, but I personally don't feel the need to shy away from my life of few responsibilities, playing video games and living carefree.

Though they don't know it, I'm proud of my nephews and wish them the best. Perhaps someday we shall meet. Though it may have to be once they're fully grown since I have no freakin' idea how to talk to children.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SCRAPBOOK: Library Lost

I recently stumbled across a web page on a book club site maintained by my old friend, part-time business partner and, briefly, former roommate John C. from Providence. In it, he has a catalogue of the thousands of books in his personal collection. Among these are many of the volumes I left for him when I moved from RI to Florida in 1997.

I'm glad I gave these books to him. By now they surely would have been lost or sold during the past decade and a half what with the many moves and crisises I've undergone. I hate knowingly leaving a book to a likely disastrous fate, especially in our electronic age where books actually made of paper are becoming more and more rare. With him they are safe.

Here are the ones I recognized. Almost all purchased new by myself between the late '70s to mid '90s.

Friday, May 27, 2011

We Built This City

The Grand Canal is finished (but it has navigation problems due to bad currents and rampant wild squid infestation). There's a little fishing village in-between the south canal entrance and the harbor-master tower. It's quaint, but, sadly, quite crime ridden. Be careful if you wander there. Be very careful.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You Want Drama! We Got It!

Because of a pre-scheduled mandatory in service at work, I wasn't able to stay tuned to the TV throughout today's proceedings but I have been able to stay tuned via AM radio while driving to work and TV recaps later on.

OMG! It's just what I was looking for! High drama with a capital D!

The defense says it was an accidental drowning death in the home pool and a cover-up initiated by Casey's father.

Why the cover-up? The defense says it's because Casey's father suggested it and it could be related to the possibility that the kid was actually his.

WHAT! yes, they say Casey's father has molested Casey since the age of eight. And, they hinted that he was the father of Caylee.


Let The Freak Show Begin!

So it has started.

The media frenzy descends on our fair city. It's a hot and hazy afternoon here in Orlando and the Casey Anthony trial is FINALLY underway!

Let's remember what this is all about. A little girl. Innocent. Sweet. Angel. Cue the sad music. Cue the tears. Hand out the Kleenex. Boo hoo.

Well that's important, yes, but it's not what I want. Our time of mourning for this poor child has come and gone. It is indeed sad, but now we want to see the high DRAMA! We want it ALL exposed.

Let's hear about the Google searches for "chloroform" "death" and "shovel".

Let's hear and see the evidence about the duct tape, Winnie the Poo blanket and garbage bag Caylee's little rotting skeleton was found in.

Let's see photos and hear testimony about Casey's partying ways while the rest of Orlando wondered where her "missing" baby was.

Let's see the tattoo she got after her child went missing that said "The Good Life".

Let's remember the outrageous behavior of every member of this messed up family, including the supposedly innocent brother and parents of Casey.

Let's see and hear it all!

Yes dearies...let the freak show begin!

Metairie Chicken Review

Restaurant: China Jade Mongolian Buffet
Location: Herndon Avenue, Orlando

Movie: "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (in Disney Digital 3-D)
Location: Premier 14 Cinema, Fashion Square Mall, Orlando

    My original plan was to check out a restaurant on Colonial Drive (also close to the theater) called Chan's. My secret hope was that it'd be like the Chan's back in Woonsocket but I didn't set my hopes up. From the pictures I found of the exterior of it, I would be happy if the food were edible.

    When I got there though, I found only a husk of a building. It looks like it had been closed for years. Thanks review sites...someone coulda updated one of them, eh?

    I passed a place on Colonial a few minutes prior to arriving at this vacant building that I last went to many years ago, back in the bus riding days. It was an old skool Chinese restaurant that was decorated in deep, dark real-looking lacquer, vinyl-covered booths you can get lost in and still served stuff in those metal serving dishes. No "new fangled" cattle call buffet here. You ordered from a big. vinyl-bound menu, son!

    I attempted to head back that way but I stupidly made the decision to take a short cut to avoid noon-time traffic in one of the most congested traffic areas of the city. Bad idea, of course. I ended up in Winter Park and found myself somewhat lost. I made my way back south but suddenly I was in Baldwin Park and the Stepford Wives were coming to take me away, ahhh! By the time I got back on Colonial, it was getting awfully close to just a half hour before showtime and I hate to rush. I knew my old skool place took an eon to bring out your food so when I saw I was at China Jade and it was practically across the street from the theater, I said 'fuck it' and drove in.

    China Jade Mongolian Buffets are somewhat of a chain in Central Florida (if not elsewhere as well) and the few I'd been to were not usually good experiences. There was one in Clermont that Ric, Gary and I went to and it sucked. And one on OBT I went to when I first moved to Orlando in the late '90s. It was really bad. This one near the Fashion Square Mall was okay, from what I remember, the last time I was here. It was many years ago as well, though.

    This time round it was pretty good and the price was great!

    The Lunch:

    The selection was very diverse, usually a sign the tab will be over the $10 mark, even for lunch, but with hot tea it was only $7 and change. 

    Pros: Selections were plentiful, fresh and actually hot (rare for steam table buffets). Mongolian BBQ available (where they prepare your personally chosen morsels on a big griddle). Nice dark and flavorful genuine Chinese tea. Cheap!

    Cons: Tacky and old furnishings. Carpeting and air-conditioning vents looks like they hadn't been cleaned in years. Lo Mein was just okay. No General Tso's. No potstickers. Ancient old man waiter slow with the check. C'mon, I got a movie to catch. Chop, chop!

    Overall, I'd come back, but then again, maybe not. You see, there are so many buffet places that unless I get my socks knocked off, I have plenty more to go and explore.

    The Movie:

    Last time I was in Fashion Square Mall, the decor was decidedly dated, all mauve and turquoise fake-Calder mobiles. Very '90s. Well, it may have been the '90s when I was last here... Now it's very Bombay Company-ish, all mahogany wood accents, off-white columns and lots of sunlight! Oh the sunlight...(hisssssss).

    I don't remember these theaters at all, but I must have been to them before, why else would I be at a mall. They aren't the usual Regal or AMC so they have a somewhat more mom-and-pop feel, but you can tell they try to be like the big guys. 

    No collector cups. Bummer. I'm getting bored of my TRON Legacy one.

    The Film Itself:

    Pros: It was better than "The King's Speech". I stayed awake.

    Cons: Actors phoning it in. Every scene on a sound stage (cutting corners, Disney?). Why bother having "3-D", could hardly tell at all. No Orlando Bloom. Penelope Cruz. Did a 10-year-old write this script? I mean the plot was totally cliche and boring. 1. Good guys and bad guys race to get to treasure (in this case the fuckin' way overused Fountain of Youth) 2. They fight with cutlasses and muskets. 3. Good guys prevail in the end. Ho fuckin' hum.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Less Than Three Hours To Go

    Fab Five Freddie told me everybody's high
    DJ's spinnin' are savin' my mind
    Flash is fast, Flash is cool
    Francois sez fas, Flashe' no do
    And you don't stop, sure shot
    Go out to the parking lot
    And you get in your car and you drive real far
    And you drive all night and then you see a light
    And it comes right down and lands on the ground
    And out comes a man from Mars
    And you try to run but he's got a gun
    And he shoots you dead and he eats your head
    And then you're in the man from Mars
    You go out at night, eatin' cars
    You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too
    Mercuries and Subarus
    And you don't stop, you keep on eatin' cars
    Then, when there's no more cars
    You go out at night and eat up bars where the people meet
    Face to face, dance cheek to cheek
    One to one, man to man
    Dance toe to toe
    Don't move too slow, 'cause the man from Mars
    Is through with cars, he's eatin' bars
    Yeah, wall to wall, door to door, hall to hall
    He's gonna eat 'em all
    Rapture, be pure
    Take a tour, through the sewer
    Don't strain your brain, paint a train
    You'll be singin' in the rain
    I said don't stop, do punk rock

    Rapture - Blondie

    Stunningly Stable

    I noticed I had only posted once so far this month and I tried to think of why that was. The answer is simple...I have nothing to talk about.

    Don't get me wrong, after the past few years especially, a run of stability in my life is very much welcomed. But it does make for rather mundane reporting. I mean, look at the last post prior to this. I'm talking about failed quick bread baking? Ugh! Snoozeville!

    Work is great, love my home, money is sufficient, friends non-existent but that isn't so bad. Nice, peaceful and quiet.

    BTW, homelife is so nice right now. I just finished furnishing my apartment. The kitchen and bathroom are pretty much the same as the last set of photos, but here is the final (for now) look for the bedroom/living room area:

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    PRO AT COOKING: Morrocan Orange Spice Cake

    Alright, maybe not technically "PRO" at cooking but not so shabby. But at baking? Well, let's just say I have some maverick ideas about how to prepare baked goods. I treat it like regular cooking. Take a basic recipe, add a little something here, take away a little something there, and basically everything is subject to substitution.

    What? Oh, you can't treat baking like that? Baking is a precise science and requires stringent adherence to the recipe for it to come out right?

    Well bullocks to that, I say!

    Here's the basic "starter" recipe I found on the web somewhere:

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    2/3 cup butter, melted
    2/3 cup white sugar
    3 eggs
    1/3 cup milk
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    1/2 cup orange marmalade

    1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch Bundt pan.
    2.Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, melted butter, eggs, milk and lemon juice. Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture, mix until well blended. Finally, stir in the walnuts and marmalade. Pour batter into the prepared Bundt cake pan.
    3.Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    Well, I pooled all the ingredients I had and some others I had that were, ehem, similar. The ones I didn't have were omitted since it's 6:30 in the morning and I don't feel like going out shopping. Screw it.

    So take away the nutmeg, the butter, the sugar, and the walnuts. And the milk, too.

    Oh brother, you say, a cake with no butter or sugar. How wonderful.

    Well, you'll see! I made substitutions.

    I replaced the butter with canola oil and the sugar with Equal artificial sweetener.

    What!? It'll be fine I tell you....FINE! It's still baking now as I write this but it looked good going into the loaf pan. What? No I didn't have the Bundt pan it calls for in the recipe, does it matter?

    Also, I had some molasses and a fresh orange so I juiced the orange, added that and threw in half a cup of the molasses. I reduced the oil to 1/2 cup rather than the 2/3 cup of melted butter the recipe called for. Seemed like enough. Plus I needed to make room for the additional liquids. I reduced the cloves to just a pinch since I know how potent a spice it is. I wanted a smooth cake (barring the orange peel bits from the marmalade) anyway so I won't miss the walnuts. I'm nuts enough already. (Cue rim shot)

    The batter looked and smelled rich and tasty when I poured it in the pan. When it's done, I'll take a picture, post it, then I'll let it cool. Once I've had a taste, I'll add whether it was a success or not.

    Ding! It's done. Let's see here...

    Um. It didn't rise much did it? Er, it looks like it kinda shrank, actually. Gulp. Well we'll see once it's cooled what it tastes like.

    TASTE TEST: Smells great. Looks nicely golden brown, from the outside. But, slicing into it revealed a dense greyish, somewhat gelatinous mass. Nibble. A waft of mold. MOLD? Are you shitting me? Raw in the middle, unrisen hot, wet dough. Not very sweet. The smell, but no taste of cinnamon or orange. Inedible. Tossed it in the trash.

    Epic fail.

    Time to hang up my baker's apron.:(