Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years - New Title

Every year, I make a resolution and for the past few years I have actually been good at following them up. My resolution for 2009 was to read more. I now have participated in one book club and am in the process of starting one myself. The year before that I resolved to run more, did that. The year before that cook, ditto. So for new years 2010, I am resolving to write more. I think that there is a good writer in here somewhere, and I will use this blog as the vehicle. My ideal thing would be to write 5-6 days out of the week for 30 minutes at a time. An exercise that I did at UW writing and thoroughly enjoyed it

I am unsatisfied with the title of the blog currently. AMQA UK, Jr. is too long and convoluted. I once saw Norman Mailer on 60 Minutes or some such program and he said that he started each day by doing the NYTimes crossword, he said it was an exercise and called it "combing his brain". I liked that "combing my brain", I thought it not only brings to mind an amazing image of a Goody(R) passing through the gray matter, but an apt description of a mental exercise.

So maybe as a new name I can call the blog:
"Combing my Brain"; or
"Brain Combing"; or
"Literary calisthenics"; or
"calisthenics with commas"
"Shawn's Syllables" or

Any suggestion from my vast and loyal readership on this topic would be great.
A Safe, Happy and prosperious New Year to all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Avatar and District 9 -

Seen a lot of movies in the last couple of days with the wife home from work, and the networks running nothing but “year end” and holidays specials and prempting new broadcasts of any of our shows.

This afternoon I saw Avatar, and last night I saw District 9. Both are science fiction films, and both have similar themes of oppression of the other, whether through segregation in ghettos (District 9) or genocidal land grabs (Avatar).
In Avatar humans go to another planet that is rich in valuable mineral Unobtainium (stupid name Cameron, Lucas help you with that one?). But finds that there is an aboriginal race (the Nav’i) on the planet that is similar to all aboriginals throughout human history. All of the actors playing the Nav’I are African Americans. They ride 6 legged horses and use bows and arrows like American Indians, and are so in tune with nature and their environment that they can actually link into it like a network.

In District 9, the aliens (the Prawns) come to Johannesberg, South Africa (of all places). Where they are placed into temporary camps that become and massive permanent slums.

In both movies humans cannot get along with the aliens, we either isolate and oppress at home, or try to systematically eliminate them abroad. Hmm…

Avatar was an amazing movie to see, and if you are going to see it, see in the theaters and with the 3-D glasses it is utterly amazing and thrilling visually. Avatar is more spectacle than movie, and should probably be seen with as many bells and whistles as possible, because the story itself is lacking, all the major points of the plot are telegraphed before hand. Yet I found myself so wrapped up in the movie, despite these flaws, archetypal characters.

In District 9, there was real tension, the finale and the conclusion are legitimately up in the doubt throughout. D9 employs the documentary style which is the cliché of the 00’s film and television, yet it does work. The fact that the setting is South Africa makes the Prawn ghetto allegory that much more powerful, and the documentary style makes it that much more hard hitting and thought provoking.

Both movies have similar protagonists both undergo a transformation, one willingly the other unwillingly, but yet each end up at opposite ends of the fortune spectrum too. Both are fighting against giant evil corporations with military power, whom they each once worked for. The military leaders in both films are the primary villains.

Ultimately District 9 is the better movie, but Avatar is something that absolutely needs to be seen on the big screen. I am beginning to wonder if this 3D thing maybe the thing to keep the theatres afloat for the next few decades because there is no real way to replicate the 3D experience at home, at least for now.

Lots of identity in both of these films, this person has a pretty good take on it:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Restaurant Bores

Well I am completely behind on the TC Blog this week. It seems to have gotten off to a rather rocky start, I don’t know if anyone is paying attention or even reading this thing.
It doesn’t help that I am behind a flipping week on this thing. For that I apologize to all of my loyal readers. Today I was told that there is a difference between being lazy and being busy. Busy people are busy, while lazy people are lazy but insist that they are busy, so saying that on with last weeks recap that was so memoribal that I had to run to the Mac to memorilaze it on the blog.

The most memoriable thing about this episode was the quickfire. Teams were chosen by knive block. Jen-bot and Michael V. were the captains. Jen-Bot could’ve really messed things up by picking the other more boring Voltaggio brother. But instead she choose the Kevin and his beard with her first pick. It was the beginnig of very long episode for the cookbot 3000. In the quickfire each member of each time had to cook one dish in 30 minutes, relay style without talking to one another or seeing what happened before them. Jen bot called here dish “trout” when it was very obviously “black fish”. Her mentor Eric Ripert, would’ve Ripert’ed her a new one for that blunder. But “black fish” or no – Jenbot and Kevin from My Morning Jacket’s team did win. The winning team was offered 10 grand for the team, but turned it down for 10 grand a-piece with an elimination win, again another big mistake.

Onto the elimination Revolt and their bad name won. Jennbot screwed the pooch and broke her trout (this time it was trout) sauce. So this week’s episode is on.

Hot: Voltaggio Brothers

Strugg-el-lean: Jenbot, is her circuitry shorting out because of a love of Beard?

On Notice: Robin, it is over, enough already get packing.

1. Anne and David: Bryan V. (5), Robin(2): 7
2. Marni and Heath: Kevin (5), Laurine: 5
3. Josh and Heather: Jennifer (4): 3
3. Shawn and Jessica: Michael V.(3), Michael I. :3
3. Brandy and Julia: Eli(3): 3

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here comes Wrangler, he's one tough customer...

Last night I watched the ESPN documentary on the USFL “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?” I really enjoyed it, as I am one of the few people I know who has any real memory of the league, and the only person I have ever met who has been to a USFL game.
I lived in Phoenix for only one school year (1982-83), but for being such a long time ago, and being so young I still have lots of memories of it.
One of them was attending a USFL game at Sun Devil Stadium between the Boston Breakers and the Arizona Wranglers. The Breakers were a good team and the Wranglers were not. The stadium was half full, but the Wranglers were still popular since Phoenix was just burgeoning as a major metropolitian area, and were sports crazy. The only other sports team in the area was the NBA’s Suns, so getting a pro football, any team meant that the town was going places.
One of my classmates, JV invited to go with him and his family to a game. JV’s family was little odd, I remember being at his house and the only thing that was allowed to be on their tv was Christan Evangelicals. I would go over there and his mom, who was pretty and nice and her boyfriend, who was quiet and weird, would be sitting in front of it, as if they were enjoying it, if that is possible.
I remember one time being at JV’s house after school and we had just finished playing Intellivision and were watching Mtv, a new channels that was super-awesome. Intellivison was probably the only thing that JV and I had in common and probably the only reason we were friends since we were the only two kids who had the system rather than the dominant Atari. When JV heard his mom’s car pull he quickly changed the channel from the Mtv to the 24/7 Evangelical channel, before hustling us off to his room to go with play with Star Wars guys or something. This was before the Jim and Tammy Baker scandal hit, so this kind of thing on cable was dominant. I remember thinking that was weird. JV would also take me to an Awana meeting, which freaked me out, and to which I never returned but that is another story.
Part of the appeal of the USFL was that it was the “fun” league, it was the league without strikes and without penalties for spiking the ball. The league prided itself on being fan-friendly at the Wranglers game there was a rock band behind one of the endzones who would crank up middle of the road hits during time outs and breaks in the action. “Rockin’ Robin” must have been played three or four times, and that is the first time that I had ever become aware of the tune. I liked it. The game wasn’t very good, as Boston was a good team and Arizona was not. The Wranglers were just getting dominated all game and in the first half were down 24-0. Apparently at all Wranglers game a new car was given away at halftime to “some lucky Wranglers fan”. At our game the lucky winnere was introduced at half to the crowd, near the Wrnagler band and given the keys to her new car, when the MC asked the winner where she was from she replied sheepishly “Boston, Massachusetts”. Boos rained down from the stands.
We left the game early, which I didn't like, and the Wranglers went on to lose 44-23.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Football, Dog Fighting, People Fighting

I tend not to read the New Yorker. Maybe I am not intellectual enough, or maybe I just hate all of those annoying cartoons, or maybe it is my personal West Coast bias, which is simply a reaction to the East coast bias,that I couldn’t bring myself to read a magazine with such a title. But apparently there is a lot of good writing in it, I know my boy David Sedaris routinely publishes in there so maybe I should look at it more often.

However I do watch ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, damn near everyday. The guest this Friday was author Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell has a couple of books on my ever increasing, rarely diminishing “Books I Want to Read” list. In his appearance Gladwell talked his New Yorker piece about the increasingly troubling incidents of brain damage, Alzheimer’s and dementia in former football players. Host Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser seemed to be a little shaken by a good piece of writing, that indicts the football machine and as well as it’s fans.

Gladwell likens football to dog fighting an analogy that Wilbon and Kornheiser avoided, and for good reason. After the Vick episode, it has been universal accepted that dog fighting is cruel, and its participants (handlers and breeders) as well as its spectators are culpable in this inhumane criminal activity. Since this appeared on “world wide leader”, likening the football fan audience to red-necks, mouth-breathing yokels at a dog fight, would kill completely overshadow the evidence Gladwell presents which is disturbing.

There maybe a kernel of truth in the analogy though. I often compare football to Gladiatorial games. Stating that I like to eat chicken wings because "eating meat off the bone while watching football makes it extra Roman”. Watching a decadent game in a dying empire is one thing, but watching two dumb animals tear themselves apart is quite another. But I think that the appeal of both “sports” rests in a part of the brain that we are uncomfortable with embracing, and probably for good reason.

Is this the end of football? Unlikely, but is it the beginning of the end? Possibly, as the camera panned out, Wilbon turned to his co-host and said “I tell who isn’t going to play football, Matthew Wilbon” (his 2 year old son). If more and more people like Wilbon, a man who has made his living writing about athletes, then the fewer kids will be going out for football, and the game could wither, maybe becoming like boxing, an analogy that was also made on the show. But while boxing has withered, the more brutal Mixed Martial Arts seems to have taken its place. Boxing withered because the sport was seen as corrupt, crooked, and exploitive, not because people were concerned about brain injuries, Mohammed Ali is a cautionary tale though. But even the “Greatest of All Time” hasn’t stopped the rising popularity of people fighting one another in steel cages. I don’t think have steel cages in dog fighting, do they?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Football, dogfighting, and brain damage:

Amazing piece in the New Yorker about concussions and football by the writer du jour Malcom Gladwell.
I will blog on this later.
Football, dogfighting, and brain damage:

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Top Chef - Wine Pigs

Our episode begins as Michael V. doesn't want to talk about being on the bottom. Not only is Eli short, fat, wears glasses and is balding, but apparently he is also a virgin who lives with his mom. That way he doesn't "have to pay rent and shit" or talk to girls. Robin on the other hand does her yoga, and "lives in the moment".

On to the QUICKFIRE with Charlie Palmer, an American hero, who singlehandedly with his mustache saved American cuisine from fast food junk food culture abyss. So for the quickfire our heroes were to pair a dish with delicious gourmet Alexia Chips, available in the organic snack food isle at your local overpriced fancy pants grocery boutique.

Eli was the big winner, who paired delicious chips a clammy celery chowda.


Onto the Pig and Pinot Challenge. Knives were drawn to determine the cut of the pig. So lots of Butts, Shoulders, Cheeks, Bellies and Ribs to go around. Then it was off to the find the wine.

The cookster went to the spot with the wine angels at the Mandala. The wine angles are these ladies who travel up and down vertical wine cellar with ropes. This way one doesn't feel so bad about paying $100 for a $15 bottle of wine. I don't know how the order was devised but wines from New Zealand, France, Napa, Oregon, were selected but no Washington yah, wah, Kevin took the Oregon wine, saying he used to live in Portland, really dude, you could never tell.Laurine seemed a bit stumped from the onset, invoking the old Pork Industry slogan that pig is "the other white meat". Look lady, as a matter of fact it is not, it's a red blooded mammal, not some cold blooded chicken like some of your fellow cheftestants.

Then came the drama, back at the house. This is the first time since Maurcel got his hair cut way back in Season 2, that I can remember any drama at the house on this show. Usually it all takes place in the kitchen, stew room, or judges table. But Eli told Robin, what for and got all huffy when Robin gave him the ol "oh don't bother I cleaned this up". Eli went off and said "Your not my mom" because if you were I would move into your house and never ever leave. This left Robin all alone to say to the camera "I am glad I am not your mother because I would've raised you better". Somewhere Eli's mother is crying. Robin then gave my all time favorite reality show cliches "this is a competition I didn't come here to blah blah blah"

Off to the Pig and Pork feast which looked like it was held on an old pitch and putt course outside Vegas, but hey "it was the first event of the show, that wasn't just a challenge." They even had their own "Food & Wine" banner, the true sign of an "event". Kevin, aka Yukon Cornelius, was bound and determined to justify the pig he had tattooed on his ample arm. Mr. Palmer and his mustache was impressed. The other top cooksters were the Brothers Grim, and Jen-Cook-Bot 3000. Can we just pencil these four in now please?

On the bottom side was Ash, with his bland piece of meat, that even looked bland so you can imagine how it tasted. Robin who just can't get any love, even from people her own age. She didn't cut her pork thick enough, okay I'll say it "it wasn't porky enough" and Laurine who turned her cut of "the other white meat" into Fancy Feast, and any distinguished cat'll tell ya it is hard to pair Pinot with Friskies. But as I am sure Morris will atest Meow Mix has some flavor, something Ash's grub was severly lacking. So he was told to pack up and go. He said that he planned on inviting Mr. Mustache, Tom, and Toby but not Padma to his restraunt to try the dish he should've made. Ash has a personal thing against Padma (she's mean), and Toby expressed an appreciation for hairy armpits. No the limey has not grown on me. Where's Gail?...Gail!?


1. Marni and Heath: Kevin (5), Laurine: 5
2. Josh and Heather: Jennifer (4): 3
3. Anne and David: Bryan V. (2), Robin(-1): 1
4. Shawn and Jessica: Michael V., Michael I.:0
5. Brandy and Julia: Eli: 0

Hot: Kevin, good cook, and seems like a good guy. Good guys tend not to do well on reality tv in general and this show in particular.

Strugg-El-Lean: Robin, lady I am rooting for you, but you have got to bring the product, tenacity, age, experience and "living in the moment" only gonna take you so far.

On Notice: Laurine, you should've gone this time, really, Cat Food-yikes.

It is all so unsurprising

Limbaugh lashes out after Rams bid debacle

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By far the biggest story of the sports week, was something that happened, or in this didn’t happen “outside the lines” The potential sale of the St. Louise Rams to a group of business people one of whom was conservative talk show host, and radio giant (in more was than one) Rush Limbaugh.

The fact that this story has dominated ESPN, Sportsblogs, and sports talk radio this week is UNSURPRISING, considering that baseball has gone out of it’s way to make it and its postseason irrelevant to the American sports fan. (See last few blog posts) Selig’s MLB should be embarrassed that his “fall classic” has been overshadowed by Limbaugh’s considerable girth. This week baseball in its wisdom decided to take the week off, as it was unwilling or unable to reschedule after three of its four-playoff series mercifully ended in sweeps. Maybe Selig thought the week off would be a good idea, so that the World Series could become an even bigger afterthought.

UNSURPRISINGLY NFL Commissioner denied giving Limbaugh’s group his blessing. The NFL hates controversy, and Limbaugh makes his stock and trade in the stuff. The only kind of controversy the NFL likes are “quarterback controversies”, or real hard hitting social issues like should Brett Favre retire or not. Real issues makes the shield squirm, see all the hand wringing about whether or not Michael Vick should play this year. The NFL is in the business of selling family friendly violence, it doesn’t need any politics mudding up the waters, especially racial politics. It is bad enough that every draft time Mel Kipper evaluates the abilities, strength and size of young black men daily for hours at a time.

Had the sale gone through Limbaugh would've eventually said something (sooner rather than later) that the league would've had to apologize for, and shield doesn't want to apologize to anyone for anything ever - see Earl Campbell. It only took Rush four weeks to say something race baiting and stupid when he was a football analyst on ESPN in 2003. The guy can't help himself. This guy doesn’t flirt with controversy he slips it a roofie and bends it over the back of his Buick. The shield know this, these are smart guys, despite the fact that they haven't figured out a way to get a team into LA.

Because of these reasons this sale would've been denied by the league, even if the POTUS was someone Limbaugh approved of. But UNSURPRISINGLY he blamed Obama for his failure, and said that it was “an illustration of "Obama's America on full display."” What “Obama’s America” means to Limbaugh “is the black man is now keeping the white man down”, yes it is just as idiotic as it sounds. In a remarkable evidence it is Rush's world and we’re all just living in it. Limbaugh insisted that this weeks debacle was all a part of the NFL Player’s Association attempt to gain leverage in the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations. (The current deal ends at the end of this year, and it has been over 20 years since the NFL had a work stoppage). All of this jives with Limbaugh and the right’s current narrative that black men (NFLPA) are using underhanded methods to take power from it’s rightful holder, white men (NFL owners). This theme is repeated in many some (non) stories, FOX likes to tell: ACORN, Sotomayor's "reverse racism" and “Obama has no birth certificate” flap are all easy examples.

Got a new follower today, Brandy Elliott, glad to see ya. I know what a huge football fan she is.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Phillies-Rockies Game 3 Postponed - ESPN Video

Like I was saying.
"Mother Nature apparently not a baseball fan" beginst the video, sorry about the ad. I disagree, I think she is a fan, when the game is played at the right time of year. Expanding and expanding the postseason until the season streaks past Halloween and into November creates situtations like this one, good chance the game gets called again today. The owners and union expanded the season out of greed, but the result has been counterintitutive, as sports fans have now moved on to football, a game not negatively effected and maybe even enhanced (for the spectator anyway) by adverse weather.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

LDS (long division series)

I posted this on one of my fantasy football sites on a thread about a possible all LA World Series (Angels v. Dodgers). It was probably too long for there, so I'll post it here instead.

Another good thing about a Southern California World Series is no issue with the weather. The World Series used to start this time of year, now it is weeks off. It used to be that the 162 game season meant something, now it is rendered more and more meaningless. There used to be only two divisions per league. Division winners would face off in best of 5 game League Championship Series to determine World Series participants. Now there are three divisions per league and add the wildcard (which I begrudgingly accept) and the expanded playoffs plus the 162 game season and you're playing baseball into November. Snow is predicted tomorrow (Oct. 11) for the Phillies and Rockies game. Snow in baseball! If the Wildcard stays, which it will because baseball appears unable to make a difficult decision ever (see DH), then the season needs to be shortened about a month. End the regular season at the end of August, and start the baseball postseason when the NFL regular season begins. Have playoffs through September and start WS October 1. This week is the first time I have watched baseball in about 5-6 weeks, and I love baseball. Shame, baseball has become less national and more regional under Selig watch. The pastime deserves better.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Which Ash?

Alright kiddies, it has been so long since we have done one of these let’s do a recap on the scoring because it is ultimately so important to the final outcome (not at all).

A Quickfire Win is one (1) point.
An Elimination Win is three (3) points.
Being in the Elimination Top Three/Four or member of Winning Team in a “team challenge” before Judge’s Table is worth one (1) point.
Being in the Bottom Three/Four before Judges’ Table is minus one (-1) point.
And out is just out, no (0) points, just gone, any previous points won remain.

So on to the show. In this week’s quickfire the constestants had to spin a slot machine and get descriptions to make a dish. Apparently these descriptions are pull-down options on I went to and look who greeted me on the homepage. Really, is there anything this lady or this show won't do to promote synergy. And speaking of Padma, how about the Jolly Green Giant look this week. What was that, certainly unflattering pants. I don't think Michael Corrs would think that "any modern woman would want to wear that". But he is on Lifetime now and really, what modern woman wants to watch that channel. Speaking of the other show which we were not doing this season because it was taped years and years ago, back when Lindsay (my girl) Lohan was still relevant. I was at the book store the other day and saw this little gem on the new hard back table. I had to take a look so I opened it up and saw the words "Fierce, Fabulous, and Hot Tyranny Mess" repeated over and over again from the top of the page to the bottom, for 250 pages. Oprah Book Club look out.

Anyhow for the Quickfire, which was won by Kevin, who cooked Vietnamese food after drawing Spicy, Hairy and Asian from the Top Chef SlotMachine of Death. What makes Kevin's victory that much more amazing is that previous to today. Kevin had never eaten or worked with Vietnamese food, and didn't even know that Vietnam was a country in the South Pacific, (sigh) oh youth. So Hurrah for him. He was given the option of $15K or immunity, and of course took the money, taking it he said "who do i look like Robin? gimme that chip"

For the Elimination Challenge where cookstrs were to prepare a dinner party at their house for the judges and celeb-Chefs who are involved with the charity of feeding a million people a year. Apparently from their advertising they are starting by feeding Usher, the Trumpster (at the kid's table (ha! humor)), and Jessica Simpson on the floor of their department stores. And thank god, someone is doing the lord's work and helping that Jessica Simpson out. Between the breakup with Tony Romo, her sister's lip-synching trainwreck of a singing career, and that Dukes of Hazzard movie, that girl is lucky she hasn't starved to death already.

Each Cookstr got a bag of goodies from a celeb-Chefstr and teams were formed via knife block. Michael I. got Robin, whom he thinks talks too much, and isn't dying fast enough from Cancer. Ash got paired up with Michael V., who he thinks is just such a "talented chef", and "so tough and cool", and "good looking" that he could just eat 'im up. Kevin and the incredible cook-bot Jennifer were teamed together. Jennifer was faking a cold earlier, so that everyone would think that she was human and not a cyborg cook-bot from planet Spatula. This amazing team of man and machine won the elimination easily, with JenBot 3000 winning the big prize of $15K giftcard from Macy, that's gonna buy alot of B-U-M Equipment, Enjoy.

On the other end Michael V. got sent to the chopping block. Which prompted his brother Bryan to get (can you believe it?) even more uptight, when people started talking about Michael's dish. "Did you try his dish? No! Then Shut Up?" But the dye had already been cast as Eli and Ashely had been tossing pinches of salt into their gnocchi all night, and then under cooking the Spot Prawns, which everyone knows are the "most exquiste, delicate, precious, gorgeous, and perfect ingredient on this or any other planet." And these two basically undercooked them so poorly, that they might as well have shoved them under thier armpits for half an hour and then put them on a plate with their salty gnocchi. So sadly Ashley was told to pack up her knives, load up that dark horse of hers and ride it back to Seattle's Branzino. Looks likes she's there already.


1. Marni and Heath: Kevin (2), Laurine(1): 3
2. Josh and Heather: Jennifer (3), Ash (-1): 2
3. Anne and David: Bryan V. (1), Robin: 1
4. Shawn and Jessica: Michael V. (-1), Michael I.:-1
5. Brandy and Julia: Eli (-1): -1

Hot: Kevin, such as much the lead-pipe cinch as Richard Blais, and Bald Stefan, and things worked out so good for them.

Strugg-El-Lean: Eli, could of and maybe should of gone home this one. Something tells me you were only kept around to "make good television" because you love cancer and hate puppies.

On Notice: Ash, here's some advice when you are participating in a contest with completely subjective judges don't go telling them that you're not as good as the next guy, no matter "how awesome" you think he is.

The Transformed Media Environment

This is one of the most interesting things that I have seen on the Web recently. I came across it while researching a paper I wrote about political blogs and their effects on political discourse for POLS 41o - Politics and Technology at the University of Washington Summer 2009.
Shirky states that moment we are "living through is the greatest growth of communication in human history". Since we are living through such a moment, we are almost obliged to participate in it, hence this blog, and my sister-in-law constant pestering me to get a facebook page.

Shirky's lecture was given at the US. State Department in Washington, DC this June. It is over 17 minutes long, but definitely worth watching.

Link is here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Top Chef - Las Vegas - Draft

Alright kiddies it is time for Top Cookie –Las Vegas. I tried to mess it up but pulled it together at the last moment. The draft order was arranged by our friends at Research Randomizer ( the place to go for all your research randomization needs.

We will be drafting in traditional fantasy draft serpentine order (1-5, 5-1).
Top Pick went to Anne and David, Two to Marni and Heath, Three: Josh and Heather, Four: Shawn and Jessica and Five: Brandy and Julia.
So let the drafting begin:
1. Anne and David: Bryan V.
2. Marni and Heath: Kevin
3. Josh and Heather: Jennifer
4. Shawn and Jessica: Michael V.
5. Brandy and Julia: Ashley
6. Brandy and Julia: Eli
7. Shawn and Jessica: Michael I.
8. Josh and Heather: Ash
9. Marni and Heath: Laurine
10. Anne and David: Robin

Fun Fact : Kevin (Beard Award Winner and Wearer) was the number one on everyone’s list except Anne’s. So he slips to number two overall.

So the teams are:
Anne and David: Bryan V., Robin
Marni and Heath: Kevin, Laurine
Josh and Heather: Jennifer, Ash
Shawn and Jessica: Michael V., Michael I.
Brandy and Julia: Ashley, Eli
Best of luck to all.

So to recap the season so far. This season’s cheftestants are heavy on cooking chops but light on personality, and if they do have personality it tends to be bad. Eli who looks like the missing member of Death Cab for Flabby, likes to hate on people with cancer – nice one dude. Ashley, the Uptight-Seattle-Dyke nearly hyperventilated when she had to participate in the marriage challenge. Politics were conveniently missing from all when the top-cookies had to serve up some hash for the USAF Thunderbirds Flight team the following episode. Jennifer really shined in this episode as she transformed to the into the amazing unfeeling humanoid, expediting executive chef-bot. Michael I. is just the kind of arrogant east coast a-hole, that this show loves and the profession seems to attract, kind of like roaches to the five star kitchen on county health inspection day. The Voltaggio Bros. are great cookies, but boring as can be. There is the older uptight one Bryan, and the younger rebel Michael, (you know he is rebel because he has tattoos), sure he has real edgy stuff on the iPod, like Seether and Nickelback. You know he’s alternative. So Captain Ron got tossed overboard last episode, because he couldn’t deconstruct a paella. Which brings the question what sort of places over deconstructed dishes, and if you were at a place and it was offered would you order one? Because if there is anything I love it is paying a lot of money for a large plate with little food on it, that I have to put together myself.

Hot: Kevin, Beardy winning a lot, and avoid any stray facial hairs in his food. He really is talented.

Strugg-el-lean: Ash, this guy still here. I hardly noticed.

On Notice: Robin, chick has got a target on her ass. But she can toss a simply salad and make an apple crisp with the best of them.

Monday, October 5, 2009

that sinking feeling.

I have watched football, for about as long as I can remember. I love the game. Really like it. Like the strategy of it, love the machismo of it. Love everything about it. Well almost everything. Somethings I have a hard time intellectually compensating for. There is the college sports, and the myth of the student athlete. and then there is the almost Roman quality to the game. It being the very literal translation of our society throwing Christians to the Lions. Us watching young men sacrifice their bodies for our entertainment. Its kind of gross, yet I still willingly and eagerly anticipate it each week. I listen to sports talk radio for hours at a time hype up the game, participate in fantasy leagues where I place wagers on which individual player will perform well, and then spend hours of the day on weekend, not doing yard work or playing with my kids but watching tv. It is a down right sickness. I remember being a kid and watching both games on Sunday and then seeing the "Alcoa can't Wait" and the "American Airlines" ads that closed football coverage and being kind of sad about I had spent the last weekend day of the week doing nothing. But did that stop me for watching week after week. Did that stop me from talking to my friends in grade school about the games, did that stop me from obsessing about something to which I had no stake in, no. And here I am years later, still watching, still obsessing. But there are moments when I watch football, that make me think maybe what I am doing is wrong. Not just wrong for me by wasting a day but wrong for society and wrong for my soul. One of them game this Saturday. When I watched the Washington - Notre Dame game. I had watched the game on tape delay, and had avoided my cell phone and anyone who had any interest in the game, as my daughter who is three was having a rough time, and wanted the tv, so instead of provoking a scene with her, I just hit record and let it be. So anyhow the last play of the game played out like this on NBC, the national broadcaster of all Notre Dame Irish Football games.

What was shocking was how little attention was paid to the Washington player, who obviously got his bell rung, and who looked like he had just been killed.
The scene seemed a little different from the view from the stands.

But still dudes jumping around, happy our team won, dude might be dead or have severe brain damage our whatever, but atleast we get to go out and party tonight. Hurrah for our team. Kind of sickenning, but just like that sinking feeling of seeing the American Airlines jet, careen right signifying the end of another wasted Sunday, I'm not gonna change my ways, just feel guilty about it for abit, and then move on. There are next weeks game to think about.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dinosaurs drowning in Tar: Music Videos from the Mtv

Well if Oasis more "officially" dead than they have ever been, I think it is safe to crown Arctic Monkeys, the Kings of British Rock music. This is a good tune, quick and catchy. The Davey Jones Locker imagery works well with the song. They will never be the throw-your arm around your mate and swing your pint sing-along anthem-ieers that Oasis was, but they are on their third record and still sounding good, something most Brit act's can't muster even the aforementioned Gallagher Brothers.

The current alternative music scene's obsession with 80's maybe coming to an end. As here's the first hint of 90's nostalgiato bubble to the service. Cage the Elephant's "Back Against the Wall" has all the markers of the grunge era: cut off shorts, flannel shirts, a blond singer with a gravelly voice, only thing missing is a black t-shirt with the word "Loser" written on the front. The video is even reminiscent of Nirvana's "Heart Shape Box", with it's hyper color, bright greens and pinks. The sound isn't so much Nirvana. I wanted to say it's more "pre-major label Soul Asylum but with more of snarl". But upon listening to "Sometime to Return", that's not quite right either. Anyhow it's a good tune, I like it - Catchy.

I saw these videos from DVRing the "Subterranean" show on MTV2. Much like the people over 45 who still read newspapers. I still get new music from MTV, and yes I feel like the Brontosaurus wearing grey and black checkered Vans drowning in the Tar Pits of Southern California.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"They roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth"

Well I have been obsessed with this movie since I saw the 30 second ad on "Community" last night. The fact that it Arcade Fire's "Wake Up", one of the best songs of the decade from the best album of the decade, is the soundtrack for the spot only beefs up the obsession. On top of the fact that the film is based upon the the best children's book of all time. Or at least one that people of my generation have a great attachment to. It is understandable that I obsessed on this topic for a couple hours this morning.
It seems like an especially Gen X sort of fixation for this story. It was first published in the sixties so it was right in the wheel house for those of use born in the early 70's. I have met more than one hipster who had a Max tattoo, and only one of them happened to be named Max themselves. I knew a hipster couple who had a kid in the late 1990s, and they named their boy "Max". I am sure that the boy in the wolf suit was no small inspiration.
It was one of the last books, I ever remember an adult reading to me. I was in 3rd or 4th grade, and too big to have an adult read me a bed-time story. I was still living in Billings Montana, so I must have been 9, 10 tops. And I was spending the night at a boy's house who was the only child to a single mother, and who's name I cannot remember, but we'll call him Cam. Cam's mom was really mothering to him, you know bed time stories in the third grade, and all. I remember some of the other boys picking on him calling him a "momma's boy" apparently they had spent the night at Cam's house and got the bedtime story bit too, and also thought it was weird, and having the social graces of a 3rd grader decided to use it as a weapon of ostraciation. This is really the age when the negative parts of the animal begins to emerge in boys. Anyway this kid lived in a nice big house at the foot of the Rims in Billings.
The Rims are these huge Sandstone walls that surround one end of the city, it is a pretty cool spot for a 10 year old boy and his buddy to spend the day running around, digging, exploring, building forts, and havind dirt clod fights. And we had spent the day doing just that. That night after we had a fun dinner, probably hamburgers his mom cooked and watched "3-2-1 Contact" that was on location at a Kiss concert. Cam asked me if I liked Kiss, and I shrugged my shoulders because I had no real opinion on music then, that was still a couple years off, but he told me that he didn't like them because they were "a bunch of Satan Worshippers" which probably would've been my answer too.
That night as we were being tucked his mom came in and said I have three stories one of them was "Where the Wild Things Are". We were both very excited for the Wild Things even though we were like 10, and it was a "kiddie book". It was the most popular choice, and was read last. I remember not really getting into the beginning and the end, but always being really transformed and engrossed when Max reaches the island of the Wild Things, I could almost smell the vines of the jungle, it seemed kind of real. I wasn't really aware of the rest of the story till I became a parent myself I got a copy of the Wild Things to read to my daughter, even though it is a bit of a boy book.
Which leads me to the question what is it about Max, his mischief, his private boat, and the Wild Rumpus - that holds such an attraction and fascination? Since it is a picture book, of 20 or fewer pages and less than one paragraph of prose. It must be the artwork, which is awesome. Or is it something about Max, the hero, who is a bit of an anti-hero. He makes mischief and then threats: "I'll Eat You Up". As he is banished to his room he transforms it to land of terrible creatures who he tames and becomes their king, only to become unhappy and return to the land which banished him to find his supper waiting for him, and that it is still hot. Now is there some obvious metaphor about living with and conquering personal demons, and then returning to the world knowing you are king of the Wild Things, and could return there, if you wanted too, kind of like Ash from the Evil Dead Movies.
It's all a bunch of navel gazing, isn't it? Especially based on a movie, that probably should've never been made, from a beloved book, that is un-filmable. Last time I look forward to an adaptation like this I was severely disappointed. Looking at you Watchmen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Glenn Beck released a new book today. IQ's dropping fast.

My buddy JT was getting on me Sunday, about my hatred of the FOX talking heads (O'Rielly, Beck) while giving a free pass to MSNBC's (Olbermann, Madow).

I jotted off this email to him, but embeded the videos here.

You kept dinging me on Sunday for be too hard on the Glenn Becks’ of the world while giving the Olbermann’s and Madow’s a pass. Sure my own political bias comes in on that, sure. But I think that Olbermann and Madow both actually believes what they are spewing, while Beck is just doing “his Master’s bidding”.

Take a look at this link and you’ll see what I mean.

So not only I disagree with Beck’s politics, and I believe that his language (calling the President “a racist” and a “radical” almost daily on TV) is VERY dangerous, but I think that he is a complete tool. seems to agree as well:

tool /tul/ –noun
1. an implement ... for performing or facilitating mechanical operations.

6. a person manipulated by another for the latter's own ends.

And not to put too fine a point on it

- Sweet satin Phoenix Suns jacket on Beck’s “buddy", for real.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kids Today / They're all the same.

This video has been getting a lot of play over the past couple of days, and apparently for good reason. The father's reaction to his little girl after she throws his foul ball back is really cute, and if I was a lady I may even go so far as to call it "precious". But it reminds me of a story that happened to me and my buddy JT when we were at a Mariners game four or five years ago. I am going to guess 2004, because the Bartman thing was still in everyone's mind.

So it was early in the season, a Sunday in April versus Texas, I believe, and if my memory serves me well it was the same day that Tiger Woods chipped in at the Masters and won the tournament. I remember the shot was so amazing that it was put up on the big screen at the game. So anyone who wants to can Sherlock Holmes the exact date out from there.

Our seats for the game are really sexy, thanks to the fact that we know people, who know people, who know people. But these are primo seats, outside the basepaths, but front row on the first base side right in the middle of the tarp. Yes a stadium with a retractable roof has a rain tarp, just in case, you know. Which makes me wonder if the Safeco Field Ground's Crew would actually know how to use the tarp in the event that it was actually needed. You know like a retractable-roof machination malfunction, or some giant windstorm blowing itlike a sail onto the I-5 on ramp directly behind the ballpark.

So anyhow there we are in the front row. And anyhow a foul ball comes sailing right over our heads, and as we look up to the see the ball coming down right on top of us, a large brown baseball mitt glides into view which the ball harmless bounces off the edge of, then bounces off the tarp and into my buddy JT's hand. We look at each other and then directly at Richie Sexson, who's glove was unable to make the play. Typical Richie, he turned and trotted his overpaid self back to first.

So there is this kid, a boy 3 or 4 years old top who has been playing in the aisle for several innings now. I tell JT to "give the kid the ball", which JT, being the a lover of the game of baseball dutifully does, in the hopes that this moment will spark a lifetime love of the game in the youngster, and inspire him to become the next Hal McRae, or something.

So the kid takes the ball from JT, takes one look at it, and throws it right onto the field. JT looks at me with a look of shock, horror and surprise on his face. They have to call time in the game and everything, and even stop Ryan Franklin in mid-motion . All I can do is laugh and say "sh**, what can you do?" When JT asked the little boy why he threw the ball back, the kid said it was because he already had one, and held up a plastic painted blue and teal ball with a M's logo on it.

What was shocking then, is less shocking now. Since both JT and I have toddlers our our own. But none the less it saddens me that toddlers of this era have no reverence for the game of baseball, and the artifacts of foul balls that are bestowed upon lucky fans throughout the course of each and every game. Commisioner Bud Selig should organize a task force to look in on the matter, maybe after he thinks about shortening the regular season about a month or so.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Big Fan

Looks like a good movie, except I wonder if the trailer shows the whole thing.

Cyberball 2009

For the record I consume a lot of sports information . I watch SportsCenter regularly, DVR "PTI", and listen to about two to three hours of Sports talk radio daily.

Something came across the airwaves today that I found quite interesting, and tapped into something I've been thinking about lately --> The effect of technology on people, systems and society. And I have also been thinking a lot about football, since it is the beginning of the professional and college football seasons. These things go hand and hand.

George Carlin in his famous bit called called football a "20th century technological struggle". And then went to make the very easy analogy that football is a metaphor for war, full charging into enemy territory, through the use of a "sustained ground attack" and "precision aerial assaults".
In football the players do not look human, more like superhuman. You cannot see their faces because of the helmets, and the pads and equipment the players wear make them look larger than life. The game, much like war, dehumanizes them, and maybe the people watching. The NFL is certainly aware of this, and they use it as a marketing tool. It is the team that matters, the logo on the helmet, not the person inside that matters. The players cannot take off their helmets while on the field. Lest to destroy the illusion that these are not super humans engaged in hand to hand combat for the pleasure of the cheering plebeians and treasures of sponsors and riches of owners, but just human beings like the rest of us. Quarterbacks are the only position that is really recognizable, and in most cases (aside from your Favre, Vick, Mannings and Bradys) only recognizable in their in hometown. Do you really think that any one is going to bother Trent Edwards if he was walking the streets of Seattle?

So the game is dehumanizing. So why is it so popular? Is it possible that we are becoming dehumanized too? Today's technology has allowed people to communicate with millions and millions of people instantly without seeing another person face to face, or leaving your house. So is the connection that the modern age provides us, does it really connect at all, really? People act a different way when they think no one is looking. How many pick-nose bugger eaters are their sitting in their cars compared to how many are walking on the sidewalk? This easily translates to how people interact with each other online compared to how they interact in person. A former classmate of mine when discussing this phenomenon told me a story of being on a blog comment page or something like that and disagreeing with someone there. She said "only online is responding to someone with whom you disagree with, with a picture of a cat's butt acceptable". Well it may not be acceptable, but it is funny, but I do see her point. Another classmate drew a connection between the online "Flaming" and the Town hall shenanigans that took place this August. People go to political blogs oget all enraged with the fiery rhetoric common on such sites and think that that is a way to behave in public.

Now back to football , on KJR AM this morning Sports Illustrated football editor Peter King was asked about former Seahawk quarterback, my childhood hero, and current Redskins Head Coach Jim Zorn and the possibility of him remaining at the helm of the Washington club after this season. Peter King said that he didn't stand much of a chance of retaining the job after the year because his team is most definitely the fourth best team of the NFC East. King said that it was too bad, because Mr. Zorn "is a real human being in a business that isn't filled with very many." No surprise there, not a lot of human beings in football. Because technology really has no need for humanity, and Carlin said "The technological struggle must go on." Maybe football is the most popular sport in America because not only does it reflects the ethic of capitalism (social darwinism, and advancing by exploiting opponnets weakness), but our increasingly dehumanized day to day life.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Welcome to my blog. The Apple Maggot Quarantine UK, Jr.

The name comes from signs off of the freeway in Washington state, warning of the invasive species and prohibiting the transport of home grown fruit. There is a sign right off of my freeway exit in Shoreline, WA (the first northern suburb of Seattle).

This is not a blog for agricultural issues for the state of Washington, because I don't know anything about that or about a punk rock band from Puyallup,WA with a similar name ( I have no connection to the band, but wish them nothing but the best, coming from a punk rock-new wave-art rock-alternative background myself.

So to avoid confusion - I considered adding the "UK" and/or "Jr." to the ending of my blog title. Just like numerous bands of the 80's and 90's most notably The Charlatans UK who I still like, and the The Mission UK who are kind of embarrassing. (Mommas don't let your babies grow up to Goth-rockers, it will only embarass them later.) The Jr. comes from Dinosaur Jr. who added their suffix after being sued by some '60s hippie band of the same name. Dinosaur Jr. gained popularity in the early 90's and were the best "grunge" band not from Seattle.

I will do my best to post something up here once a week, adding my voice to the other millions shouting off of the cliff into cyberspace.