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Monday, August 31, 2009

Movies people should know...

It has become painfully obvious to me that the television and movie viewing habits of those more than around five years my junior are sorely lacking.

I blame the parents.

To begin with, I had a girl who, in her twenties (no lie) turned to me with a look of blank puzzlement on her face and asked, "What is Labyrinth?" It was absolutely all I could do to keep myself from bitch slapping her into next week. What is Labyrinth... Are you fucking kidding me?

First of all, you ought to at lease know the word and by the look of puzzlement on your face it appears that every vocabulary teacher you ever had needs to be fired or retrained or maybe shot. Secondly, HOLY SHIT! David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly and, most importantly, JIM HENSON! I mean... Muppet Show? Heard of it? How about Sesame Street. Thats the show with Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird... What?... Yes, Elmo too... Fucking Elmo. Remember when he was just in the background and occasionally annoying?

"I will regret this," I think to myself as I fearlessly plunge onward. "Tell me that you at LEAST know The Dark Crystal."

The look on her face makes a few of my own brain cells commit suicide. I'm not even able to hear the puzzled response, thank god, due to my ears shutting themselves down in self preservation.

By now, of course, there are several others who have joined in on the conversation.

My aching heart begs me to turn to some slightly more main stream titles. Ok, perhaps not exactly main stream, but movies that more or less anyone who breathes should be aware of.

Legend is put forth and greeted with something along the lines of, "That's the one with Will Smith, right?"

This is around when I start to cry. I point out that it has Tom Cruise, Tim Curry ("Who?) and that chick from Ferris Bueller. (Mia Sara for those keeping track. Legend was the only role she played priar to Sloane.) And still the look of stunned disbelief I receive pains me.

"Princess Bride!" I say, truly believing that every person alive needs to have, at the very least, a passing familiarity with the movie. Personally, I think I know just about every line from every character in the film.

Finally I get a hit! At least this one is still known by some of the younger folks. Not known well, mind you, but the awareness of it still floats around somewhere in the back of the collective consiousness. They seem to have no idea who Andre the Giant was outside of the confines or Fezzic and, it pains me greatly to say, are at a complete loss when I mention Mandy Patinkin. But I will accept the win in as much as at least the movie is still known.

Which is more than I can say for such other greats as The Never Ending Story. (The book is rubbish by the way. Keep away from it if you value your love of the film.)

The animated classic, The Last Unicorn. (I mean come on... What child, full of wide eyed wonder, doesn't want to see the magical majesty of animated unicorns?!)

Even movies such as the classically adapted The Three Musketeers barely register with people under around the age of 22!

I mean, that is some of the best written witty humor ever! I like to think that it was writing like this that gave birth to films like The Pirates of the Caribbean! And who doesn't need to know that a chase is properly refreshed by serving a Cabernet and not champagne?!

Revisited classics aren't exempt either! Hook, the re-visitation of Peter Pan, starring the truly genius Robin Williams is rapidly fading from memory!

Now, I don't mean to disparage the newer tales and movies. The majestically forged Lord of the Rings trilogy brought forth a new epoch in fantasy films. Harry Potter disappointed me in the theaters but, hell! It created a complete generation of new readers! The Twilight series doesn't really do much of anything for me but it has done wonders for book sales around the world and has helped maintain the literacy of children across the globe!

What I am saying is this:

Show your kids the new generation of fantasy and fancy films! By all means, watch them yourself! But for the sake of all that is good in film, PLEASE go back and share the stories that began it all! These films are far too wonderful to be lost in antiquity.

You will be glad you did. More importantly, (to me anyway) I will be glad you did. And I won't feel quite so powerful an urge to belt you one when you have no reference to what I am discussing with you. And that is something you will be as thankful for as I am.

Once long ago, before there was such a thing as time, the world was shrouded in darkness.

Then came the splendor of light, bringing life and love into the Universe, and the Lord of Darkness retreated deep into the shadows of the earth, plotting his return to power... Banishing light forever.

But precious light is protected, harbored in the souls of Unicorns, the most mystical of all creatures.

Unicorns are safe from the Lord of Darkness, they can only be found by the purest of mortals... Such a mortal is Jack, who lives in solitude with the animals of the forest.

A beautiful girl named Lily loves Jack with all her heart. In their innocence, they believe only goodness exists in the world.

Together they will learn there can be no good without evil... No love without hate... No heaven without hell... No light without darkness.

The harmony of the Universe depends upon an eternal balance. Out of the struggle to maintain this balance comes the birth of Legends.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

And for tonights dinner...

We have Venison Sauce and Pasta!

This sauce came out differently from my usual sauce. Which I suppose makes a degree of sense when you consider I didn't make it anything like the sauce I generally make.

Tonight we started at around 11am my slowly torturing myself. No wait! I mean slowly caramelizing 3 medium onions. The torture was merely a by-product of being unallowed to eat the onions while having to smell them cook. (In case it isn't abundantly clear, I have a great love for onions done this way.)

From there we add the freshly thawed venison. For those of you who have never had venison you are missing out. For those of you who want to talk to me about Bambi, FUCK YOU! I mean, uh, you are missing out too and I would appreciate it if you keep your silly ass, Disney fanatic comments to yourself.

Venison cooks up like beef but has its own unique flavor. It should be said that venison does NOT taste "gamey". The gamey taste come when an animal is shot but not taken down right away. The adrenaline floods the animals blood flow and thereby winds up suffusing the meat. When an animal, in this case a deer, is taken down cleanly, the adrenaline never has a chance to sour the meat. What you wind up with is a very fresh tasting red meat that can be handled similarly to beef but imparts a slightly different taste that is a pleasure to the taste buds.

Sorry... Couldn't stop the tirade there.

Moving right along...

The venison was added to the newly caramelized onions and allowed to cook thoroughly before being drained of most of the grease that had cooked out of it.

After that we started adding tomatoes.

Now, by all accounts, I make some pretty damned amazing tomato sauces but i was working with a different meat here and therefore a different flavor. Not having used venison in this capacity before I had no idea where we were going to wind up, but I did have a pretty clear idea of the direction I wanted to take it in.

After adding a can of diced tomatoes (drained... I didn't want all that juice in there at this point), I started with seasoning things up.

I added some lemon pepper to give things a nice round tang.

Garlic to give it some garlic.

Garlic powder because I ran out of garlic.

A blend of red and black pepper to give things some kick because I was upset at having just polished off the garlic powder as well.

Cayenne pepper, because the red and black hadn't quite done enough to mollify me.

Then I rounded things off with a generous helping of parsley flakes, oregano and dill.

I am sure there were some other things in there too but off the top of my head, that is as complete a list as I can come up with.

I stirred it up and let all that simmer for a little while before moving forward with more tomatoes.

This time I added some more drained diced tomatoes and some dice tomatoes with chilies that I left the juice in. (Partially because I was at the point where i wanted some more moisture and partially because I didn't want to loose any of that chili infused flavor!)

Once again, we let that come to a simmer and basked in the slightly acidic aroma of a project well under way.

After a good fifteen minutes or so (and after watching Julia Roberts portray a character trying to impersonate Julia Roberts... My brain melted a little bit in there somewhere) we added a little bit of brown sugar to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and to kill off a little bit of the acidity. Generally I use a bit more than I did this time but, as I said before, this time we were aiming for something different so I didn't want to over sweeten it.

We let the sugar cook into what we had for a while then we added a good sized can of crushed tomatoes.

Finally our sauce was about to become more recognizable as sauce and no longer just a bunch of crap in a pan with meat.

Around now was also when I said to myself, "Oh shit! Bay leaves!" and dashed off to the pantry to get several to add hastily lest I be made fun of for forgetting. Again.

Here comes the slow part. Once things came to a simmer I had to back the heat down as far as I could while keeping it bubbling. Several hours like this and the flavors had begun to marry into something very much like the final goal I had outlined for myself.

Finally, around 4pm (5 hours after we have started, lest we forget) I added in two small cans of tomato paste to start pulling things together.

Around 4:30 we added in some cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Now, for those who don't know me or who are unfamiliar with my cooking... Just about EVERYTHING needs to touch cheese at some point in its life or it can't be considered done. Much like the way that anything that has ever lived near a pig can be added to and considered part of sausage.

5 o'clock rolls around and we throw on some pasta to cook and at 5:30 dinner is served.

Now, as I look back at this post and read it over, it occurs to me that many of you will be trying to duplicate this and will assume that I forgot to mention salt and therefore will be adding some yourself at some point along the way...


Salt isn't something I just conveniently forgot to mention. I honestly didn't use any. All the flavors combined into something that carried itself just fine without it. If it is a concern for you, I suggest putting a shaker or mill at the tabe and allowing everyone to salt to taste. It is already pretty close to where most people are going to want it to be.

Now, because I feel it deserves to be mentioned (and if you don't then to hell with you), I served this dish on plates with some shredded mozzarella on top and some chopped green onions to garnish. I like to serve food that looks as good as I hope it tastes so I generally try to make things at least moderately pretty.

So, that is more or less what my day today consisted of. I share this with you all because, well, I want to and since you are still reading I am hoping you aren't too terribly pissed off at me for doing so.

I am going to leave you with a prayer. (Insert maniacal and infectious laughter here from anyone who knows me.)

Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with Give us pasta with a hundred fillings.
-Robert Farrar Capon-

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Allergies and why they suck...

... A lot!

Well, as it turns out I did in fact have some pretty bad allergies when I was a child. At least, that is, according to my father.

In his version of events I had horrible allergies every year right around Halloween. I think he is full of shit. Halloween has always been just about my favorite holiday and I don't remember ever not being able to go out because of something like allergies. Of course, being that it is my favorite holiday, I may very well have blocked such a traumatic event out.

Moving along with the point of this blog...

When I moved to Tennessee a few years ago, I wound up sick and layed up for a couple weeks. Now it turns out that it may have been allergies.

And when I moved to Texas two and a half years ago... All doubt went out the window.

For those of you who don't know, Austin is nicknamed the allergy capitol of the world. Please... Let me be the first to tell you that it is very very VERY true.

Seasons don't exist here as they do anywhere else in the world. The seasons here, as I have observed, are as follows;

Grey (only lasts about two weeks)
and Summer again

Please, don't make the mistake of assuming that these seasons line up with regular seasons elsewhere either. The first year I was here we had 4 Cedars and 2 Crickets... I am assured that the year before I got here Grey included something called An Ice. (Yes, it warrants the capitalization. Supposedly it is where "Gawd" or some-such being takes "like a tablecloth of ice and snaps it out there, see, and it settles on the whole danged city and ain't no one movin' till it melts, right? 'Cause if gawd put it there he's gonna pick it up again, soon as 'is friends is finished with dinner") I have not yet witnessed the mythical Ice but I am assured by those who have that it is, indeed, impressive.


I have asthma. (Which of course means that any time something goes wrong with me my breathing is affected.) And so every time I get used to the allergens in the air and find myself able to breathe again... The freaking wind changes and I have to start over from square one!

Case in point...

Austin is in the middle of a drought. We have had a succession of 100+ degree days (enough to make a new record from what I have been told) and if you think the weather sucks wherever you happen to be then BITE YOUR TONGUE AND BE THANKFUL!!!!... I'm just sayin' is all.

So the other day it rained. Finally!

For about four and a half minutes.

Just enough to bring back the wonderful mold allergens that kick everyone's ass and makes it damned near impossible for me to draw breath without hacking up a quarter of a lung.

All of you here, reading this, are hereby named witness.

The day I am pronounced dead by way of blunt force trauma to the head it was NOT my roommate that killed me. That's right. It was NOT her despite the blood spatters from my room to hers and the still-wet blood on the hammer beneath her bed.

What killed me was the gods damned allergens.

Whether she finally gave in to my begging and pleading to be put out of my misery or if she just finally snapped and decided I needed to be stopped so she could sleep makes no difference at all. It was Austin and the allergens it produces that killed me.

So sayeth the me and so shall the truth be known!


"The difference between an itch and an allergy is about a hundred bucks"

Friday, August 28, 2009

It is a beautiful night...

I just got home from my weekly gaming night and it is an absolutely beautiful evening. It is around 71 degrees (I know because I checked on my way home) and windy as hell. There is a lightning storm happening that is stunning to behold. It would be nice if it would actually rain but I am not complaining.


So I got home and decided to meditate outside for a bit and then blog.

Thats about as far as I have gotten. I haven't got much profound to say to anyone right now but I am trying to keep myself from letting this blogging thing fall to the wayside.

Blog complete.

If anyone hasn't seen it yet, check out the video for "Do You Want to Date My Avatar"... Worth a looksee.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In Which I am Introduced...

Alright then! I have been here for around a week and I have posted various blogs already. I figure that I may as well introduce myself now that I have made an impression. (I hope... I mean, you are still reading right?)

That being the case... My name is Franklin. (Frank to those who know me and a variety of other names to those who know me best.) I am 30 years old and currently living in Austin, Texas. Previously, I lived a year in Tennessee (more than that if you include when I was there for college), and most of my life in Connecticut. I was born breach in Germany to American parents. (Breach means backwards or butt first. What can I say? I guess I have always been slightly unconventional.)

I have 4 cats, the best roommate I could ever hope for, 3 siblings, 3 step-siblings, some parents and grand-parents back home and friends from everywhere I have been that I try to keep in touch with and fail more than I like to admit. (This is for all of you guys too... Call me :P)

I have a very strong personalty that I try to keep in check. I am strong willed, tenacious, occasionally gruff and often funny.

I am, contrary to popular belief, a fairly optimistic person. I don't necessarily think that things will turn out for the best, but I know that things right now are never as bad as most people want to believe and I am always willing to allow for the fact that things are going to improve.

My Personal Mission Statement:

I value creativity and ingenuity because they are two of the most important skills I have observed in people who are happy with where their lives are leading them. Accordingly, I will strive to appreciate and enjoy beauty, humor and unconventionalism in an effort to gain new perspective on my life as I work toward moving into a new direction.

My Personal Professional Bio:

Franklin is a customer service professional who has set himself apart time and again by successfully leading teams through challenges and emerging at the top of his game. His strong example is supported by a hard-working, trustworthy personality that is always ready to embrace any change or challenge. These days, Franklin is working diligently at establishing himself as a free-thinking web presence with a new and keen outlook on many of the challenges facing the tech-savvy entertainment consumer.

Why am I here and what do I think I'm doing?

Well, since I am asking this question of myself, I suppose I have to consider that a fair question. I am here in an effort to establish myself in the web community. My goals are to grow and mature in a new atmosphere where my thoughts and creativity can set me apart. Ultimately, I hope to leverage my presence here, in this series of tubes invented by Al Gore, to find a position with a company that will allow and encourage my creative juices to flow. (cough gaming!-industry! cough)

This blog... You know, the one you are reading right now... will be a place for me to share my thoughts and my points-of-view with anyone interested in reading them. Obviously, those thoughts tend to run over a plethora of topics so this is where you can turn for pretty much anything. If you have questions for me I encourage you to ask them; topics, I encourage you to share them. If you disagree with an observation I make, I encourage you to share your point of view. All I ask is that if you are going to offer a differing opinion, please don't be confrontational about it. Remember you are here by your own choice and if you feel the need to get belligerent, please take it elsewhere.

Obviously I am willing to accept constructive criticism. By constructive I mean tell me what you think I can do better. Not just things like "this sucks" or "that is stupid". Those kinds of criticism do nothing to help me make things better and are therefore pretty much useless to me. If you want to tell me I am doing something right I will happily take that feedback as well. Like anyone, I need encouragement as much or more than I need criticism.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dumbest Thing EVAR...

So I was leaving work today after a fairly rough day when I happened to glance to my left and beheld the dumbest thing I have seen in my life.

I work at Starbucks and we are located in a rather "meh" plaza. We are actually fairly busy but we are one of the few who are and there seem to be more and more empty shops each week.

Well, as I mentioned I glanced to my left as I was leaving work and there was a white piece of paper stuck to a door.

Being a naturally inquisitive person, I allowed my truck to drift closer to read the paper.

What it said was something along the lines of:

"Attention Locksmith.
Do not unlock this door for anyone unless in the presence of the property manager."

Now, as I understand these things, this is what is commonly known as a lock-out notice. They are generally posted on the inside of a door when the locks are changed after the business has failed to pay its rent. Basically, it is an eviction notice for a business entity.

Well, this isn't the first time I have seen one of these notices recently and it will probably not be the last. The reason this one was so damned funny was that it was posted on the door to a LOCKSMITH SHOP!!!

I found myself imagining all kinds of wonderful scenarios here. I mean, first of all... Changing the lock is certainly not going to do much to slow down a person who changes locks for a living.

But then I wonder how they went about it... I imagine the phone call, "Hello, Locksmith? Where are your offices located?... Oh, I see... Well I am afraid I will have to find someone else. have a good day!"

Or even better... The wonderfully brilliant young lady who goes into the office itself "I have a commission for you. I need a tenant locked out of the building. ::leads the locksmith outside and turns around smiling brightly:: Here it is! If you would just change the locks please?"

I mean when push comes to shove... When you have to "lock-out" a locksmith, you may as well just post a sign saying "Look, Bob... We know we can't really do much to stop you from using your shop but we would all really appreciate it if maybe you could send in a check every now and then and at least make it appear that we have some say in this.... Thank you for your consideration"

Anyway, this is probably not nearly as funny as I think it is right now. I'm way over tired and need a nap and maybe something to eat. But after the day from hell, this is the very definition of hilarity.

“A zealous locksmith died of late,
And did arrive at heaven gate,
He stood without and would not knock,
Because he meant to pick the lock.”

-William Camden

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adventures in Salmon...

So, for most of my life, I have avoided eating fish because I either didn't like the smell or, when I tried it, I couldn't STAND the texture.

Then I moved to Austin.

I live with an outstanding woman and friend, Manda, who one day twisted my arm (and you would be amazed at just how hard she had to twist... I swear, I think there were tears) and made me go with her to have sushi.




Sushi is wonderful! Never in my life have I been so shocked! (until much more recently anyway) Not only is this fish tasty... It doesn't make me want to run to the bathroom to heave the moment I feel it on my mouth!

Well, needless to say, I was hooked and thus began my obsession with learning to handle fish.

Now, it has come to my attention that when most people become obsessed and want to learn something, they study it... You know... Google... Cookbooks... Maybe talk to a friend or two and see what they can learn...

Apparently I use osmosis and force of will.

I spoke to Manda about cooking fish and watched her do it once then I just gave up on the idea of research and started experimenting.

My first couple of experiments were not so great. I mean, they were edible and all but that is about all I can say for them.

I even tried making Sushi once and it wasn't a total failure. (At least according to other sources... I was painfully disappointed but that, I am told, is because I put unreasonable expectations on myself)

More Sushi experiments will be forthcoming but it will have to wait for me to have a moderately less restrictive budget.

But I digress...

More experimenting happened and then things took a turn.

Flash forward through a few months of monotony and minutia.

I have become fairly adept at cooking fish these days. My efforts routinely come out flaky and flavorful.

I have even gone so far as to allow myself to cook fish for guests and had it go over well... Even when one of my guests pointedly said she didn't like fish! (I laughed at her and told her I had been the same way then made her try it... She eats fish all the time now. ::swells with pride::)


So what happened tonight was another new experiment.

-I started out with potatoes.
Four small potatoes thinly sliced and layered in a casserole dish.

-In the middle of the potatoes was a seasoning layer.
Some pats of butter, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, a dash of paprika (which has more uses than I ever realized... may have to blog about that someday) and thinly sliced radishes. (If you have never cooked radishes, I am here to tell you that they cook up amazingly and in unexpected ways. Try it!)

-On TOP of the potatoes I placed the vegetables.
A good little bit of broccoli and a mixed vegetable medley I found in my freezer. (Random veggie mixes ROCK btw.)

-I poured a little bit of water and goat milk down through everything to make sure it all cooked thoroughly and to get my texture and moisture content to around where I wanted it.

-Top with cheese... Frankly, there are very few things that I don't believe cheese belongs on and this was no exception. Specifically I used some freshly shredded sharp cheddar and a smattering of fresh Parmesan.

-I cooked all this in a covered casserole dish at around 375-400 degrees until everything was bubbly and the cheese had melted down through. No idea how long it actually took. Timers are for people with no sense of adventure.

-Then I made my magic happen...

-I took my fresh, raw salmon that I had already seasoned up, (Combination of a bunch of things from my cupboard... Couldnt tell you specifically what was included other than I am dead certain that I used some Tony's) and placed in on TOP of what I already had cooking. I garnished with some onion and some slivers of green onion and put it back into the oven to finish cooking.

When it was done, I carefully separated it out onto plates and made it look all pretty and such. (What can I say, I am a little bit of a stickler for presentation when I cook.)

Served at the table almost immediately with salt and pepper on the side and it was pretty damned delicious!

This meal was a HUGE win for me in a number of ways... First off, I have never been adept at "one pot meals". Secondly, I had been a little bit apprehensive about serving fish with potatoes. (Couldn't give you a good reason why... Just the way it is.) And thirdly, I usually make my salmon in a pan on the stove!... This baking fish business is a foray into relatively unexplored waters for me. (Sorry about the pun... been doing that all day)


Well, having said all that, I feel like I have achieved yet another goal by posting a new blog. Yay for having good life progress happening and getting my writing back in gear.

I don't have an applicable quote to end this one with. I will try to do better next time.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The importance of having a role model...

So... For no particular reason, it occurred to me today that when people grow up they tend to base themselves off of a role-model.

And then I followed that thought through to "Well then, who was my role model?"... Sadly enough it turns out that I dont think that I ever really had one.

I know most people tend to look up to their parents. Boys will grow up to be like their fathers and marry girls like their mothers... Girls will look for boys who can compare to daddy and copy all of moms recipes...

As it turns out that isn't at all what happened with me.

I mean, I do tend to call my mother on occasion for a recipe but in no way do I want a girl like mom... As for my father... Well, I found more instances of "Gods, I hope I can keep myself from ever becoming like that!" than anything else.

So who have I looked up to all my life?...

No one in particular.

I have met many people I admired though and I have tried to emulate the characteristics I found admirable in each of them. Not always with the success I hoped for but the effort and intent was there.

And so I am a hodgepodge of characteristics i found in other people. I took this from this friend or that from the other... Sometimes even just little things from that guy I met the other night who really seemed to have his shit in order in regards to some particular thing...

I think now that I am lacking in some ways because of this.

I was taught manners as a child but never etiquette.

I know everything about performing or working on stage... But I never have really learned to dance.

I know how to think and Im pretty bloody good at it but I have never had anyone there as a constant for long enough to have learned which things to think about.

I am a damned fine friend to those I hold dear and learning how to do that was a long and tiresome process filled with pitfalls and some rather large mistakes.

Frankly, Im pretty good at a lot of things... Outstanding at some and passable at others but, all in all, I can do pretty much what needs to be done.

I think part of where I have made mistakes is that... Not only are certain things in my personal education lacking... But some of the things I have seen in others and thought "I definitely do NOT want that to be me" have never grown into anything but that... There are things that I know beyond doubt that I do not want to be but that doesn't mean that I want to be the opposite. There are just some things I have never found the right answer to.

And that's why people should probably have a role model or two... Someone or someones to look at as a complete individual rather than just collecting parts of a whole.

So, I suppose what it comes down to is that I spent the day sitting in the back of my mind and examining my flaws.

I am not saying that I do not like who I am ... Only that I have realized that there are still parts of me waiting to be created.

Maybe it is time for me to get on that.

You know... Now that I know.


In closing... A quote that I have been fixated on for the past little bit...

"Where do I belong?
Where do I fit?
Who are my people?
Where do my loyalties lie?

We all choose our tribe.
Its that need to belong... To live within boundaries... Because its scary on the outside... On the fringes.

Some labels are forced on us.
They mark us... Set us apart until we are like ghosts... Just... drifting through other peoples lives.

But only if we let the labels hold.

You can piss your whole life away trying out who you might be.

It's when you've worked out who you ARE... That you can really start to live."

-From Being Human