fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
This is my front page. If you want me to add you, drop me a line here. Or, add me. Either way, I'll check you out. You can also drop me a line here if, for instance, you don't have my email address. All comments here are screened.

This post also includes every tag I have -- this is because my current LJ style doesn't include a tag index. (At least half of my participation on LJ is on my phone. I chose this style because, as bare-bones as it is, it loads quickly and it's still readable on a small screen.)

I'd tell you more about myself, but that's what my profile -- and the rest of my LJ -- is for.
fierynotes: Picture of a B diminished 7th chord (B, D, F, A flat) followed by an inversion, in flames. (Bdim7)
Yesterday, I went to a concert at the Oakland Metro Operahouse, a nice little dive in downtown Oakland. Really, it's a dive. And the sound is not that great there. And the men's bathrooms have big-ass spikes in the stalls, and toilet paper rolls are hanging off them because no one actually puts toilet paper rolls on the dispensers.

Oddly, I liked the place a lot. Anyway, here's who I heard...

Necronomicon: I looked them up on YouTube before the show, and expected a German 90s-era thrash band. Instead, we got a Canadian death-or-black metal band that was completely indistinguishable from a million other death-or-black metal bands. It's not my fault that there are like five bands named Necronomicon. Anyway, this one has been around for twenty-five years. I've never heard of them before now.

Hour of Penance... didn't make it. Visa problems. I was joking with friends about how they ended up on a US terrorist watchlist because their most recent album was titled "Regicide." Instead, we got...

Back Crown Initiate: really good stuff, and rewards repeated listens. It's complex and chewy, and they have a pretty wide variety of feels and textures in their music. This was my first exposure to them. I plan on hearing more. They need a much better venue for their music -- the sound in this place worked against them.

Fleshgod Apocalypse: the show I cracked a rib at last year. This time, I got off easy: a few bruises, and if I must touch my nose at all, I do it gingerly. (It's not broken or anything.) As before, the band hired a very vocally gifted lady to handle the soprano lines, because their bass guitarist can only go up to about G5 in a slightly cartoonish falsetto, but there are lines that require vocals reaching up past C6. She was wearing a mask and a black billowy dress. The rest of the band looked like they had once been wearing tuxes at an opera, but the opera house burned down.

At the end of their set, after looking all menacing and evil, they came back on stage, all the house lights came on... and it turned out that under her own layer of menace and without the mask, the soprano was clearly tickled pink to be there. It was a startling transformation, from "scary ghostly operatic phantom" to "freaking adorable." (The other band members were also clearly happy to be there at the end, but it wasn't such a huge change in character.)

Septic Flesh... well, they have certain technical challenges, owing to the fact that they didn't bring an orchestra with them, and at this point, their music can't really be played without it, without eing horribly diminished. So, all the orchestral stuff isn't live, and the musicians are playing along with it. The way I think that works is that the drummer is either triggering the playback, or he's got a click-track going off in his ear or as a visual cue. This doesn't quite work if the song starts off with bare guitars and the rest of the band (and orchestra) pipes in several measures later (the song "Anubis," for instance), so I suspect that in moments like this, the first few guitar lines are also prerecorded. (Both guitarists started many of their songs with their backs to the audience, turning around once the song really got started, which doesn't exactly prove me wrong.)

Let me make it clear that this does not diminish my respect for the band. You don't go to a Septic Flesh show expecting instrumental mastery; indeed, any second-year guitar student can play their stuff. (Their drumlines are a different matter entirely.) That's not the point. The point is that their music is very well-written, and a hell of a lot of fun to get into a moshpit with.

It would have been nice if there were more people there. This was the saddest crowd I've seen in some time. Not that I blame them: I managed an extra-long July 4th weekend only by submitting my vacation request over a month ahead of time. Still, it was a great show. And I have two souvenirs. Gods help me, for the first time in years, I actually have T-shirts announcing to the world that I listen to earsplitting noise for fun...
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Dear Bible-pounding jerkoffs hanging out outside train stations,

Just as your faith is clearly an important part of your life, fitness is an important part of mine. Lemme tell you a few things about it.

I live it every day. I practice it every day. It has improved my life in a dozen obvious and less-obvious ways. I am a happier and better person for having it. Lifting weights has taught me lessons about working toward goals with non-immediate results -- lessons I've applied elsewhere in my life. Because I'm now a little bigger and scarier, and because I also more closely match our culture's body standards, the world treats me better... and I've found that as a result, I am much nicer to the world now than I was when I was skinny. And hey, confidence is a good thing, right?

And yet, I do not judge non-believers. I certainly don't look for opportunities to tell non-believers about the horrible fates awaiting them if they don't start living as I do.

This isn't to say I never preach. Obviously, I talk about it in my journal online, but it's my journal, it's about my life, and fitness is an important part of it. (A few people I know talk about their relationship with God in their journals. Same thing. It's part of their lives.) Sometimes, I preach in the real world, too... but usually only when asked. Occasionally, people in my life ask me questions. I do my best to answer them. Sometimes, people take the first steps on the road I'm currently walking. I do my best to encourage them. While most of the people who've noticed that I'm a different person now don't feel like emulating my life choices, a few people -- just a few! -- have been inspired to make changes for themselves. Where you have only managed to alienate people, I've actually had a positive effect.

There's a lesson in this, if you look closely.


[personal profile] fierynotes

Dear Judgmental asshole,

I apologize for my response to your missive. While hysterical laughter (preceded by choking noises) was certainly an appropriate response, it wasn't exactly as well-argued or well-thought-out as I would have liked. So, in the spirit of the staircase (that sounds much better in French), I'd like to say a few things I really wish I'd thought to say to you. It's not like I think I'll actually have a chance to say this to your face, but what the hell -- I'll have them ready for the next judgmental asshole.

One: thank you. I knew that one day, people would be making cracks about me going to the gym to compensate for certain... ahem, shortcomings, but I figured that I was still too skinny for anyone to think that, and a few more years of hard work stood between me and that day. Apparently, I'm not the best judge of my own progress. So... again, thank you.

Two: If you actually believe that male gymrats build themselves up to compensate for undersized penises... there's this thing called gay porn. You should look into it. You'll find plenty of counterexamples. I'd guess that doing a google image search for "muscular hung naked" or suchlike would also find you plenty of counterexamples, but I've typed enough interesting things into Google for one day (here on LJ, here on DW), so you'll have to look for yourself.

Three, and perhaps most importantly: making assumptions about a person's character flaws from their body shape makes you a judgmental asshole. In your case, it probably also makes you a hypocrite, since I'm sure at least one judgmental asshole has looked at your belly and made some unfair and unflattering assumptions about you. In my case, it also makes you wrong, but I don't expect you to believe that, and I wouldn't show it to you any more than I would show my pale-but-well-shaped ass to this asshole... for all the same reasons.


[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Discord. (discord)
One of my colleagues at work found a really good deal on Diet Dew, and picked up a bunch of it for me. Isn't he nice?

In related news... does this arrangement of bottles give you any ideas?

I bounced this idea off a few friends (one of whom has a couple of bowling balls he might be willing to lend for this endeavor), and they want to replace the Diet Dew with Diet Coke, and somehow incorporate Mentos. The scary fun part is it took me less than five seconds to devise a way to make that happen, and make the bottles not go gush unless they get knocked over. Granted, drilling a bunch of Mentos and feeding dental floss through them will take a while, but no one said this would be easy. Just FUN!

Naturally, this will go on YouTube if we ever do it for real.
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Among gymrats, there are these two words: bulking and cutting. The reason is that while some guys at the gym are aiming for big muscles and a six-pack, this is a single goal that is best treated as two separate goals. Most of the time, any serious gains in muscle will be accompanied by some gains in fat; likewise, any serious loss of fat will be accompanied by losing some muscle. So, people who are trying to achieve both often alternate between the two, because aiming for both at once takes much effort for relatively little payoff.

I mention this because I've started cutting, and if I speak of cutting in future posts, I want it to be clear just what I mean by that... especially since I've spoken of depression occasionally.

Now, as for why I'm doing it? Last I checked, I'm 208 pounds. Most of that extra weight, I'm proud of. The rest? I'm not going to say I've gotten fat, because any fat person would be fully justified in decking me if I said that... but I have gotten soft. Well, soft for me, at least. Hence, the change in emphasis in my routine. I'll probably write about this here and there, just as I've written about weights, and I'll do it under my "health" tag, just as I always have.

That said, because my list includes people with mental issues on this subject, I'll probably hide some of these thoughts on this subject under clearly-marked LJ-cuts. Anyone who cares to offer opinions on that is welcome to do so.

One last thing: this is just a change in how I'm treating my body, and a temporary one at that. (Eventually, I'll end up with a six-pack but want to be bigger, and I'll switch back to bulking. That's how the cycle goes.) My attitude towards fat people is still one of acceptance. This is not a new stance: my first comments on the subject in this forum date back to early 2006 (here on LJ, here on DW), and those of you who know me in meatspace know I've been accepting longer than that. If you are a fat person, rest assured that your fat does not lessen my opinion of you, and I respect whatever agreements exist between you and your body. If you have no such agreements, I'll support you as best I can in making those agreements. None of this will change just because I'm trying to burn off a little fat on my own body.

By the same token, I ask you to respect the fact that I'm speaking of my body here. It belongs to me, and it is mine to beat into shape as I see fit.
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Dear District Manager,

You rotten son of a bitch. It was very nice of you to bring that very large tin of chocolate-covered cookies. They were excellent cookies, too, that's the worst part.

[personal profile] fierynotes

Dear Senior colleague,

You rotten, evil son of a bitch. It was very nice of you to bring that very large pack of brownie bites, that pack of madeleines, and enough dim sum to feed a small army. It was all excellent, too, that's the worst part.

[personal profile] fierynotes

Dear surplus body-fat residing in other people,

Please know that I do not judge you, nor anyone in whom you reside. I know that our current culture is kinda assholish about you, but rest assured that you will never make me respect anyone any less for your presence. Granted, there are people in whom you reside for whom I have so shortage of hostility (Rush Limbaugh comes to mind), but realize that you are not a factor in that hostility.

[personal profile] fierynotes

Dear bit of surplus body-fat residing in me,

Treasure every moment you have. When the holidays are over... I WILL FUCKING END YOU.

Hugs and kisses!
[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of a B diminished 7th chord (B, D, F, A flat) followed by an inversion, in flames. (Bdim7)
So, I haven't yet been initiated by a vampire coven. This means I'm still in retail, and I'm now getting exposed to the constant background radiation of bad Christmas music. My coping mechanism for this, aside from ranting and raving and bitching and moaning, is to filk said Christmas music. I've been doing this for a while, and have typed up many posts of badly-tortured carols (here on LJ, here on DW), so most of you won't exactly be surprised, but there are a few new faces here, so... you have been warned.
fierynotes: Picture of Discord. (discord)
Halloween was fun, but we didn't do as good a job as we usually do. One of my co-conspirators is working now (he wasn't last year), so he had much less time to put in. I was only able to get two days off, as opposed to using a whole week of vacation time, so I had much less time to put in. One person came with proper carving tools last year, but didn't make it this year (she was missed). And so on. So, by the time kids were coming in, we had less than a half-dozen jack-o-lanterns carved. On the other hand, one of them had a roll of toilet paper inside that had been soaking in diesel and lit, which always goes over well. Some year, we should do a whole row of those...

As always, there were a few kids who were total fucking brats. They were annoyed that I gave them Brussels sprouts (which is what you get when you're a thirteen-year-old without a costume if you come trick-or-treating to this house). Then, they decided not only to throw their Brussels sprouts at us, but quite a bit of their candy as well. From across the street, the little chickenshits. None of the candy actually hit any of us, but the little fucking brats made their point: they want us to keep supersoakers on hand as well as Brussels sprouts next year.

This year, one of the other guys judged costumes. He gave out lots more Brussels sprouts than I did last year, which means no leftovers -- if I want to have Brussels sprouts with my dinner tonight, I'll need to buy more. Oh, well.

And of course, I ate too much candy. I brought snap peas, two apples, and a chicken artichoke sandwich, all of which helped keep me out of the candy to a limited extent, but not entirely. Lots of cardio in my immediate future.


Oct. 4th, 2012 09:05 am
fierynotes: Picture of a B diminished 7th chord (B, D, F, A flat) followed by an inversion, in flames. (Bdim7)
So, a friend took me to see Nightwish last night. Complete with a few seconds to meet the bandmembers.

The mood was... interesting. Tuomas was made of stone with a brittle smiling mask. Jukka was on autopilot. Emppu and Marco... were still there to have fun, and if I met them at a convention, I'd be wary of annoying them by wanting to hang around with them nonstop. Floor was pretty clearly scared -- despite making an effort to go easy on my voice (I'm still a little sick, and I've just recently gotten my voice back), I made a point of telling her that I'd been a fan since After Forever, and that I knew she'd be great.

Short version: Anette got sick on tour, and shortly afterward, she and Nightwish "parted ways." Floor was flown in on very short notice to finish the tour -- the show I attended was her third time on stage with the band. It was handled very privately, and the mood aimed for was mutual and amicable... but rumors spread like crabs at a frathouse, especially since people were bringing up how Tarja (the vocalish Anette replaced) was fired very publicly, and that the positive mood of Anette's parting ways may have been genuine... or may have just proved that one can learn from mistakes.

For my part, I still suspect I've heard correctly, and Tuomas is a drama queen. A gifted musician and songwriter, but still a drama queen. If VH1 still does that show "Behind the Music," and Nightwish ever ends up on it, no doubt it will be very interesting.

(I have no photos of me with the band -- I'm horribly camera-shy. But, I took several photos of my friend with them.)

But the show! First was Kamelot, whom I'd never heard before, and I must fix this very soon. Then, Nightwish, who absolutely delivered on stage. I spent most of the time Nightwish was onstage in the most pit, and if you think 38 is too old for someone to enjoy moshing, I pity you. Yesterday, I wore the sweat of two women and a dozen men (and likely at least two people's beers), and today I'm a little sore, but I regret nothing! And for those of you who didn't see enough gay subtext in that... during this song, all the guys in the pit switched from slam-dancing to slow-dancing. Yes, with each other. Marco noticed this from the stage, and commented on it after the song. He was very clearly delighted.

I have one complaint -- Floor is a terrific vocalist, and should have been higher in the mix. The friend who took me had other complaints -- the "meet the band" that happened before the show was seriously behind schedule, and considering how much the tickets cost for including it, this bordered on insulting (but may well have been beyond the band's control) -- but at the end of the night, we'd both enjoyed ourselves.
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
This is a really simple one. Gather the following:

1. ¼ cup sugar
2. ¼ cup water + OJ (half-and-half)
3. ½ lb cherries
4. ¼ cup brandy
5. 6 scoops vanilla ice cream

Slice each of the cherries in half, and remove the pits. Then, in a small saucepan, combine ingredients 1-2 and bring to a boil briefly, then add cherries. Allow to simmer for ten minutes, add brandy, and set on fire. Let the fire go out (I got ten seconds of flames out of this one), and pour over ice cream. Serves three.

fierynotes: Picture of a B diminished 7th chord (B, D, F, A flat) followed by an inversion, in flames. (Bdim7)
As a belated birthday gift, an old friend took me to see Dream Theater. Well, almost. I met him there.

Since I got to San Francisco early, I decided to visit the Westfield, which is a sort of vertical shopping mall. The place itself is gorgeous; I've been there twice, but never got a chance to stay long, since I usually only had time to pick up gifts of chocolate. (Note to local people -- these guys are scandalously expensive. They're also absolutely worth it.) The salescritters are aggressive here. Someone actually tried to push something like a shakeweight on me, and it was all I could do not to laugh at him.

The Warfield was about two blocks away, and the neighborhood changed very abruptly. Say goodbye to beautiful historic buildings, and say hello to panhandlers who appear not to be trying to get money but goad people into a fight. Waiting in line was fun, even with the occasional assholes, and the wildlife...

...and before long, I was in the balcony... and my friend hadn't made it yet. Real life got in the way of him making it on time, as real life sometimes does. Still, his timing was nearly perfect. He got to see nearly all of Dream Theater, and missed all of Crimson Projekct. Not that there weren't some amazing musicians on stage for Crimson Projekct -- there absolutely were -- but if they ever tour with Dream Theater again, I plan to arrive fashionably late. Not that I'm averse to musicians jerking off -- I am a prog nerd, after all -- but there's a fine line between prog and wankery, and these guys took a flying leap over it. Also, their sound was terrible -- the drums would have been too high in the mix even if they only had one drummer, and these guys had two.

This was the stage. Those three giant cubes are screens. And Dream Theater live was as they always are: amazing. (I'd have taken pictures of the performance, but I was transfixed, and the thought that I could be taking pictures never crossed my mind.) All of the members are phenomenal musicians, but I do have to single out Jordan Rudess, who is possibly the only person on the planet who could make a keytar cool, and Mike Mangini, who had some ginormous shoes to fill, and did so admirably.

It was an absolutely amazing show, but how could it not be?
fierynotes: Picture of a B diminished 7th chord (B, D, F, A flat) followed by an inversion, in flames. (Bdim7)
Dear [Octavia],

I haven't thought of you for a while, because it's been a while since we've gone our separate ways. If I still had the means to contact you, I'd want you to know that I bear you no ill will, remember you pretty fondly, and understand why you had to end things between us -- just as I'm not cut out for monogamy, you weren't cut out for the alternatives. Still, it was one of my better breakups. You gave me mushrooms (I've since cleaned up), and I gave you an ahem-toy that resembled me as much as was possible given relatively short notice.

The reason I'm thinking of you lately? One of my friends bought an electric cello.

Way back when, you taught me a few things on your own cello, and if you were still in my life, you'd be surprised at how much I retained for having only touched the instrument at your place, and then not touched on for several years. My fingering could use work, but I'm a guitarist at heart -- I'm used to having frets. My bowing is actually not bad. There isn't any of that horrible beginner scratchiness in my technique, though I still have to be careful not to end up with octave overtones overpowering the primary note. I'm sure you'd know exactly what I'm doing wrong, and if I get one of these things for myself and play it regularly, I'll no doubt remember it myself.

My friend was very impressed, enough that he asked me to try to explain bowing to him. He's not going to become Rostropovich any time soon -- he's starting at least twenty years too late to have any chance at that. But then, the same could've been said about me, and you thought me worth teaching.

Thank you.

[ profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
So, I just did Peach Melba. I basically followed Nigella Lawson's lead, with a couple of minor variations, and gathered the following:

1. 2 cups water
2. 1 cup granulated sugar
3. ½ tbsp vanilla extract
4. 4 peaches
5. 12 oz raspberries
6. ½ lemon (just the juice)
7. 3-4 tbsp powdered sugar
8. 8 scoops vanilla ice cream

Combine ingredients 1-3 in a small pan, and boil until you have syrup. I used a fairly tall pan that was just barely big enough around to accommodate two peaches -- this meant that I could only poach two peach halves at a time, but I could get away with not making a whole bunch of syrup that I was probably going to throw away after I was done poaching peaches in it.

One you have boiling syrup, turn the heat down to medium low. As tempting as it may be to bring your nose close to the syrup (and hell yes, it smells amazing), don't -- sugar burns really fucking hurt. Anyway, slice a peach in half, remove the pit, and put the halves in cut-side down. Leave there for four minutes, then flip, then leave there for two, then remove. Allow to cool, then peel.

While waiting for the first peach to poach (and repeating these steps for the other three peaches), combine ingredients 5-7 in a blender and puree the everloving shit out of them. Then, try to push it through a strainer, and fail, but hey, physics! You can fill the strainer with raspberry puree and tap it on the side of a bowl, and inertia will pull everything but the seeds through the strainer. Awesome! Oh, crap, you were just tapping the strainer downward -- how the fuck did you get raspberry sauce on the ceiling?

Swear a little. Swear a little more when you realize that even after you've strained out all the seeds, you have way too damned much raspberry sauce. Oh, well. Next time, half as much. Hey, you've finished the peaches! So, put two peach halves in each of four bowls, and add two scoops of ice cream to each, and cover liberally with raspberry sauce.

Hand out bowls. Watch as about a half-hour of work is devoured in less than two minutes. Bask. Bask a lot. Bask and bask, and bask some more, because you earned it. Holy crap, this was good! (Though maybe you should chill the peaches next time before adding the ice cream. If you end up making this for more patient eaters later, they may notice that the ice cream is melting because the peaches are still kinda hot.)

I did this as a spur-of-the-moment thing. Sometime, when I'm feeling more ambitious, I may attempt Bananas Foster or Crêpe Suzette. Those are also supposed to be amazing, but since they both involve igniting alcohol, I'll want to plan ahead, and include a friend with a fire extinguisher on hand.
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
Dear big black dude,

I couldn't help noticing your hair as you sat down in front of me. Face it, you kinda stand out. You've obviously been growing it out for at least five years, and since you've just tied it back rather than arranged it into rows or dreads, it kinda resembled a cross between a ponytail and a sunburst.

That is freaking awesome!

Seriously, your hair is fabulous, and I hope members of your preferred sex compliment you on it regularly. I would have, but I couldn't figure out how to make sure you wouldn't take it the wrong way.

That other guy with the hair, who was sitting behind you

Dear older black couple,

I couldn't help noticing you talking about that one black kid with the hair as we got off the train. Having not said anything to you at the time, I'd like to take this moment to say, unto you, "fuck you both, and fuck your preconceived notions on gender presentation." We're not in the fifties anymore. Long hair does not a girly-man make. (And even if it did, what's wrong with girly-men?)

And as for your belief that girls don't like men with longer hair than they have... did you even look at the rest of him? Seriously, unless the guy's personality is either absent or awful, I don't think he's lacking for attention.

Get over it.

That other kid with the hair, who also isn't lacking for attention
fierynotes: Picture of Arsenal, from DC comics, looking very pissed off. (angry)
So, it's that day. And on just about every channel on TV, we'll be seeing the media milk it for all it's worth. I have a few harsh things to say about that, and just in case you think I'm likely to offend you, I'll be hiding it behind a cut.

Rude observations about 9/11 here. )

If I had thought to ask for the day off, I'd be hiding out for the day. As it is, I'm going to work, and all the TVs will be on. Fuck our media, and fuck the vultures that run it. I'm putting on Cartoon Network or something when I get to work.
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
Remember the cookies I made? They went over really well, so I'm posting the recipe if anyone's interested.

1. 4 tbsp melted butter
2. 4 tbsp canola oil
3. 1 cup sugar
4. 2 eggs
5. One of the following combinations of flavoring and food coloring:
      5a. 3 tsp vanilla extract, no food coloring
      5b. 3 tsp mint extract, 20 drops green
      5c. 4 tsp cardamom powder, 20 drops blue
      5d. 3 tsp orange extract, 10 drops red, 10 drops yellow
      5e. 4 tsp cinnamon powder, 20 drops red
      5f. 3 tsp raspberry flavoring, 10 drops red, 10 drops blue
      5g. 3 tsp rum extract, 8 grams instant coffee powder, 10 drops red, 20 drops black
            (For this one, also add ΒΌ cup cocoa powder to the dry ingredients.)
6. 3 cups flour
7. 2 tsp baking powder
8. ½ tsp salt

Combine and beat ingredients 1-5 in one bowl. Mix ingredients 6-8 in another. Gently fold the flour mix into the wet mix until you have cookie dough -- and stop right there, because you remember Tako the Octopus explaining that if you overmix cookie dough, your end product will resemble beef jerky. Put this ball of dough in the freezer for ten minutes, then flatten it into a ¼" thick sheet, and slice into rectangles because you don't have a cookie cutter and round cookies are overrated anyway, and hey, do you really want to take all the dough that was in between all those circles and pound it flat all over again?

Cover a baking sheet with foil, grease the foil, and arrange slices on it. Bake at 350° for eight minutes... fuck. Preheat oven to 350°, and twiddle your thumbs for about ten minutes because you fail at thinking ahead, then pop the cookies in. Eight minutes in, check the cookies. Ignore the explicit directions in the original recipe that said that the cookies will be soft, because surely epicurious can't be trusted -- leave cookies in for two more minutes, and discover for yourself that while they feel "done" when you take them out of the oven, you'll be able to tile your bathroom floor with them by the time they're cooled.

Swear a lot. Alternate between variations of "fuck" and "shit" with unlikely prefixes and suffixes. "Fucking shit fuckity mcshittingfuck!" is one of my favorites. When I'm a bit less angry, I like "fuckadoodle" and "fuckadilly," but those are a little too cutesy for when you're pissed off about having screwed the pooch on a batch.

Think of all your friends who've been putting off visits to the dentist, swear some more, toss out one batch of miniature floor tiles, and start over. This time, remember to preheat the goddamned oven, and bake the cookies for eight minutes -- not one second more, not one second less. Let cool, taste one, and mentally apologize for having doubted epicurious in the first place. After all, you only bake cookies once a year because you want to have a six-pack some day (you vain bastard) -- these people are probably much better at baking than you. Besides, this is epi-fucking-curious, you idiot.

Continue making cookies until you've exhausted a five-pound bag of flour. Then, raid your existing reserves. Congratulate yourself for having had flour on hand in an airtight container that you didn't remember having, and continue making cookies. Get a little ambitious, and place an orange layer of dough on top of a vanilla layer, roll it into a tube, slice into ¼" slices, and bake. Ooh, pretty pinwheels! Aren't you clever! Make more pinwheels with a layer of cinnamon and cardamom. Snicker at how these pinwheels look like little turds before they're baked, then marvel at how good they taste after the cool off. Scarf a few more -- after all, you have to test them and ensure quality, right?

Exhaust the container of flour you've just today remembered, and find another... and feel hope turn to dismay, then disgust, as you find living things in it. Take this as the universe's way of telling you you've baked enough for one day.

Believe me, I had a lot more fun baking these than the above would suggest. Next year, I'm thinking of something a little more challenging. Picture a cream filling sandwich-type cookie like an oreo, but replace the top cookie with a soft chocolate-flavored one, replace the bottom cookie with a soft coffee-and-rum-flavored one, and replace the cream filling with sugar whipped into mascarpone. That will take planning, as I'm sure the shelf-life of these cookies will be measurable in hours, but the idea sounds like it could be amazing if I can pull it off.

Edited to add: I've since done the tiramisu cookies. I've added two extra lines to the recipe to indicate how.
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)

From left to right: cinnamon, orange, cardamom, and mint. These are just betas, I'm going to need to play with the colors a bit. Forgive the photo quality, I took the pic with my phone, and it's over four years old.
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (creative)
Carved a bunch of pumpkins with friends. I still have pumpkin goosh under my nails, but it was fun. Also, just because it seemed like a fun idea at the time, I bought a watermelon, hollowed it out, and carved a face into it. I was a little disappointed -- at night, it looked no different from the other jack-o-lanterns. Ah, well. At least it was much easier to carve. Must remember that. Hey, people will actually eat watermelon. No one I know actually eats pumpkin. (Actually, I tell a lie. I've had a pumpkin tart made by someone who started with actual pumpkins -- the thing is, she started with much smaller pumpkins, and (last I heard) she was a professional chef.)

Anyway, the day was fun, but I've already started making plans for next year. In particular, there are three things I look forward to saying next Halloween:

"What a terrific costume! You get one of the big candy bars!"

"You clearly put no effort into your 'costume' at all. You get a box of raisins."

"Are you really texting someone while you're trick-or-treating? Really? You get a radish."

Good night, guys. I'm going to bed.

(Just as soon as this damned sugar high wears off.)
fierynotes: Picture of Arsenal, from DC comics, who clearly sees something he likes. (leers)
Friday night, I went to visit some friends. One of them had a shitload of tomatoes she'd picked from her family's garden, and she was giving lots of them away because she had more than she could use. After I made it clear that I would cheerfully and greedily accept all she'd give me, she gave me a huge bag of them.

The following morning, I got to work in the kitchen.

Every time I make tomato sauce from scratch, I start out excited, but start to get discouraged partway through the process. First, I get annoyed at just how damned long it takes to blanch, peel, and chop all these tomatoes. Then, it dawns on me that I need to use more tomatoes, because a tomato is mostly water and I'm boiling a lot of the water off, which means there isn't much left and I need to compensate by adding yet more. Then, I get annoyed that I have to interrupt whatever I'm doing every five minutes to stir the pot, so that nothing burns.

It's not that I'm not competent in the kitchen -- I am. But most of the stuff I do, while reasonably tasty and nutritious, isn't anywhere near this time and labor intensive. Sure, marinades take a long time, but making a marinade is easy, and once you put your meat in the marinade, you just ignore it for a while. Reducing a sauce always gives me that constant fear that it's going to burn if I'm not watching it every five minutes, and after an hour of this, I begin to wonder why the fuck I'm bothering. Normally, I don't bother -- if it weren't for the fact that I had the day off and didn't go out because I'm still fighting a mild bout of depression and lacked the energy, I wouldn't have bothered this time, either. I'd have found some other use for all these tomatoes. Dicing tomatoes and a cucumber, and adding basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, for instance? Also really damned tasty, and takes no time at all. (In fact, a few of the tomatoes met this fate.)

Then, after several fucking hours of grumbling, wondering why I'm wasting so much fucking time reducing this fucking sauce when I could just use some fucking tomato paste or something, it's done (fucking finally!) and I pour it over pasta shells with parmesan and eat the first bite. Then a light pops on. "Oh, yeah! THIS is why I went to so much trouble!"

Still, as delighted (and full of pasta sauce) as I now am, there really has to be a more efficient way to do all this. I know that whoever puts tomato sauce in cans or jars does it efficiently, but too much gets lost.

Hmm. Must ask about that some time. I have several friends who are much better cooks than me. Maybe they have some ideas...?
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
I was in the checkout line at the store, taking a quick glance at the who-gives-a-shit section (impulse magazines), and I saw something that made me laugh. Well, sorta. Laughing is usually better than crying, right? And really, if you're claiming that Obama is living a lie and isn't a real 'murkin and has a false Social Security number on the cover of a tabloid, you deserve to be laughed at.

So, the clerk asked me what I found amusing, and I told her I was amused by the Birthers.

"What's a birther?"

"Those people who think Obama was born in Kenya and is lying about being a natural-born citizen."

"Oh. Has he proven it?"

"Yeah pretty exhaustively."

"Well, he lies about a lot of things, he could be lying about that. No one ever calls him on it though. But people certainly liked calling Bush a liar..." which point, I found myself think, "holy crap, you're one of them!" I felt a little like David Attenborough, there. "We are privileged to see the red-faced birther in its natural habitat: La-la Land. What an amazing creature! As I'm sure you all know, the red-faced birther is usually a pack animal, and this one appears to be alone, so we aren't likely to witness any mating behavior..."

I left without saying another word. After all, David Attenborough would have done the same. Besides, there was no point in arguing with her. Disagreeing with Obama is one thing, but if you seriously think there's a conspiracy around hiding his place of birth, you're too stupid to be worth the effort of arguing with.

But then, I'm still amused by that birth certificate the Birthers produced a while back. It reminds me of a certain Monty Python sketch: "This is an Australian birth certificate with the word 'Australia' crossed out and the word 'Kenya' written in in crayon!"


fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)


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