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Special captions are available for the humor-impaired.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Another Reason for Me Not to Buy Apple Products

 From the NYT:

About 30,000 of the 43,000 Apple employees in this country work in Apple Stores, as members of the service economy, and many of them earn about $25,000 a year. They work inside the world’s fastest growing industry, for the most valuable company, run by one of the country’s most richly compensated chief executives, Tim Cook. Last year, he received stock grants, which vest over a 10-year period, that at today’s share price would be worth more than $570 million.

How can this arrogant prick sleep at night knowing that the vast majority of American Apple employees will never reach middle class status? And forget about the slaves in China who actually make Apple products.  100 years ago, before the citizenry fought for their rights, we called these people robber barons.  .  The creepy Apple CEO could give all 30,000 of his sales staff a $10,000 raise out of his pocket and he’d still walk home with $270 million, but that would be communism or socialism or atheism.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the Kitchen: Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

I spend way too much time looking at cooking videos of every stripe, from complete amateurs on Youtube to polished professionals on television.  If there is one thing that I have learned about cooking is that there is no substitute for practice, lots of practice. There is a big difference between a TV chef/model preparing a dish and a seasoned veteran of a professional kitchen who has made the dish a thousand times over the course of their busy life in a restaurant.  Someone who has only cooked for their own household or in front of a TV camera can gain a bit of skill in the kitchen but they will never attain the level of understanding for a single dish as someone who cooks this same thing perhaps dozens of times a day, every day. 

I can usually spot the dilettante very quickly by the awkwardness they may have around certain aspects of their kitchen.  A professional chef who has made a career of making certain dishes projects a very obvious confidence around the stove. I see a lot of TV cooks who look like a fish out of water when preparing certain foods. I think that if you are going to make a living in the world of food you should spend some time working in a busy professional kitchen.  I think that this should be mandatory for restaurant critics who generally don’t know much about food and even less about what goes on in the kitchen of a restaurant.

Another thing that drives me crazy is any cooking show that stretches a recipe out to a full half hour or more.  I realize that she was from a different era but Julia Child’s programs are completely unwatchable in my book. Besides that horrible squawking voice, her show was just too damn long. I’m sorry, but in this day and age you can make a great video of even the most complicated recipes that are under five minutes in duration.  I am not interested in watching someone slice a carrot so just keep the video to the important steps in the process.  When I am searching out videos for a new recipe I will often avoid videos over six minutes just because they are probably filled with wasted detail.  I suggested as much in the comments to a Julia Child video and from the vitriol directed at me from one of her acolytes you would have thought I had asked someone to shorten a Mozart sonata.

I also notice the basic skills of TV cooks which fall one of several categories. First you have those who have terrible skills, especially regarding knives. Next you have the old school folks who scare the crap out of me with how they cut vegetables. I suppose this method works for a lot of people but I’m always surprised that they have kept all their fingers (in most cases). Then you have people who do things the right way, or at least sort of the right way.More and more home cooks are learning these basic skills from tutorials on Youtube. As I have said before, Youtube is the Italian grandmother some of us never had.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What is Humor?

Had the blender been switched to "off" this picture wouldn't have been funny, but in the "on" position it's positively hilarious. Why is this so? Can humor be defined? Is it one of those things that you just know it when you see it, like a cat in a blender? Not to veer too far off the subject but when it comes to a death struggle between a cat and a mouse the safe money usually takes the cat but this cat pretty much takes it on the chin 100% of the time. Would the humor value be diminished if just once the cat were to smash the mouse with a shovel or put him in the microwave? Sometimes I just like to reflect on the big issues in life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Paella Valenciana

El mejor video de una paella valenciana hecha en la manera más tradicional con buenísimos ingredientes. Los caracoles y las alcachofas son un toque maestro.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Rules for Football

As I sit on my butt watching Sweden and Ukraine fight it out I thought I’d kill two birds and scribble down a few thoughts on what I think would improve this great game.

1)      Eliminate Diving. 

Basically a form of cheating that has crept so far into the sport that reasonable people shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s part of the game.” Part of the fucking game? That’s like saying cancer is a part of your body. If you want to ruin a perfectly beautiful game then sit back and continue to allow this horrible behavior that has become—for some—a team strategy. Faking an injury should be punished with immediate expulsion.

2)       Keep Time.

The clock in football has become an absolute joke. If you aren’t going to respect the fact that the game is divided into two, 45 minute halves then why bother with a watch? I propose that there be not a second of injury time. When the clock hits the 45 minute mark the game should be over unless the ball is sailing towards the goal. If a player is injured then he should either walk it off like an athlete or they should haul his sorry ass of the pitch. The game should never stop except for penalties.

3)      Off-Sides and Goals Should Be Monitored Electronically.

       Period. I doubt that I have ever watched a match that didn’t have at least one shitty off-sides call. Denying a team a goal because a referee was asleep at the wheel is completely unacceptable. The human eye is incapable of watching two separate points simultaneously. On television they already accurately call off-sides electronically so it would be easy enough to implement during games. Ukraine was denied a clear goal against England and Croatia will always believe that Spain’s goal that ousted them from the tournament was off-sides.

4)    Stop Enabling the Defense
If there is one thing that football desperately needs it is more goals. The last thing the sport needs to do is to continue enabling the defenders by allowing them to grab a fistful of the attacker’s jersey on every play. Make it an automatic red card offense and it would end.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mostly Rehashed Shit From Other Essays

Just when you thought there was nothing good on television Hollywood officials report that vast reserves of shitty TV shows have been discovered several hundred meters below the lowest common denominator. Look for these new programs this fall:

 1)      Mike Evans, Dolphin Hunter
2)      So You Think You Can Watch Paint Dry
3)      America’s Top Plumber: The Toilet Whisperer
4)      Celebrity Interviews: Kevin Spacey’s Personal Assistant’s Dog Walker
5)      CSI: Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood
6)      America’s Funniest Home Fatalities
7)      The Rush Limbaugh Gospel Hour
8)    Cyber-Bullying Secrets from the Pros
9)    Interviews with Interviewers: A Talk Show for Talk Show Hosts
10)   Mirror Image: People Watching People Watching TV Watching People Watching TV…

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tapa-Free Valencia

Tapear is a verb we don’t get a chance to use all that much in Valencia.  Tapear means to go out for tapas. I sometimes think that Americans are more familiar with tapas than Valencianos. Unfortunately, tapas aren’t a big deal in Valencia and Cataluña. Too bad for those of us living here because tapas are probably Spain’s greatest contribution to humankind. Tapas may be the biggest contribution to humanity; it’s either tapas or wine.

Of course there are bars that serve tapas here in Valencia but it’s not like in other parts of Spain where every drink you order at a bar comes with a tapa. And I’m not talking about a piece of cheese on a cracker; I mean that after three glasses of wine you’re completely full.  I’m saying that you should cancel your reservations for dinner because sitting down in a restaurant in some parts of Andalucía is when you want to take a break from stuffing your face.

If the tapas is sitting on a piece of bread it’s usually called a montadito or the diminutive of the participle for montar, to mount or place. Today I am going to walk you through how to make a proper tapa, or montadito. Tapas are also one of the most creative aspects of modern Spanish cuisine, and that’s saying a lot. It’s a perfect venue for using your imagination. Look through your shelves and I’ll wager than you already have something that would make a great tapa.

You’ll need a baguette. Although you can’t see it, the one I am using still has both ends intact because I’m not an animal who needs to break off an end and eat it on the way home from the bakery that’s only a half block away like some people I know and I think we know how we are.  I also have some fresh basil grown on my balcony, further proof that I’m not living like an animal.

Some fresh mozzarella although I’m probably being a little generous with that word fresh. By fresh I mean the “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” kind of fresh. Speaking of the polar opposite of fresh, I just threw out something in my fridge that was pretty freaking ghastly, and I’m not exaggerating with the word “ghastly.” I had some sardines and some pickled tomatoes from the market and I meant to pitch the unused sardines and instead threw out the tomatoes.  A week later the sardines were absolutely toxic, even inside two plastic bags and a cheap plastic container that I also threw out. Are you still hungry or should we talk about tapas later?

Now we just need some tomato. Tomato and salt. Tomato and salt and olive oil.  Cut a piece of the bread and stack on some mozzarella, a slice of tomato, some basil and finish with salt and olive oil and you have a montadito of a Caprese salad.  We are sort of mixing Italian with Spanish but anything goes with tapas.