Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tim Conway , Harvey Korman, Liar's Club, Star Wars Holiday Special

Wherein Harvey Korman is dead. Not too surprising, he was old

We thought Harvey was in this one. He isn't, but it's too good to pass up:

Harvey Korman and Danny Kaye:

Liar's Club:

Star Wars Holiday Special

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Top Chef 4.12

Wherein Final Four Baybee!

It's been a long and eventful week and I'm still bitter about the ousting of Dale. Not that he didn't give the judges enough reason to dump him...but....Common on, people! Lisa train-wrecked that big time! Screwed up her dishes so badly that intensive care by Dale and Spike couldn't rescue them. Oh yeah, nice of Spike to take time off from hanging Buddhas to poke his head in the kitchen. What was interesting was hearing Dale mention that he, Richard, and Stephanie had discussed strategy for Restaurant Wars and were prepared, if able, to form a Super Team. If Richard and Stephanie enjoy working with Dale, I really don't care what Spike and Lisa have to say.

Let's look back at episode 4.7, the first controversial deknifing when Jennifer went home instead of Lisa. This was also the first week I rolled out the cumulative scoring and Lisa was a solid 4th place, with Antonia completely undistinguished in the bottom half. Adding in Jennifer's scores, here's how week 7 ended:
  1. Richard Blais, 6
  2. Dale Talde , -1
  3. Stephanie Izard, -4
  4. Lisa, -6
  5. Andrew, -7
  6. Jennifer -9
  7. Antonia, -10
  8. Mark, -11
  9. Nikki, -14
  10. Spike, -16

Since then, let's just isolate the performance of Lisa and Antonia for weeks 8-11. At the beginning of week 8 after 14 competitions, Lisa had a 4 point lead over Antonia. Since then, Lisa has been the 2007 NY Mets and Antonia is chasing the 1916 New York Giants:


Now let's chart the final 5 through the last eight competitions. Despite her not plating anything that excites me, Antonia is cheffing a solid game and it's hard to argue with the results (for comparison, Dale would be at -2):
  1. Antonia, 9
  2. Richard, 0
  3. Stephanie, -1
  4. Spike, -9
  5. Lisa, -13

That's where we are going into week twelve and the selection of the final 4. From what Bravo has shown us, these are the chefs I'd be interesting in dining with: Richard, Stephanie, Dale, Andrew, Mark.


...waiting for the show


Whew, that was stressful. Richard and Stephanie take the bottom in the quick fire, then give us solid performances in the elimination round. At this point, that's all I really care about.

Antonia is her usual competent self, while Lisa and Spike battle it out for top of the bottom of the heap.

I'll probably come back later and add some more. Until then bask in the gloriousness of my charts.
Chart 1

Chart 2

  • We kept waiting for the judges to reveal that they purposely placed crappy frozen scallops in the freezer just to see if anyone was stupid enough to take them. Update: Chicagoist >> Hungrymag: "Spoke with Tramonto and Cenitare Group PR guru Jeffrey Ward tonight. He says of the rogue scallops that brought Spike down. '…that was Top Chef's product, not ours, for sure…'"

  • Anthony Bourdain comments

  • Curious to see/here about any preparation/training they were doing before the finals.

    I've read rumors that Stephanie was cooking/catering dinner parties all over Chicago to train. Richard was consulting on one restaurant that opened in December, then about 6 weeks ago took over a more upscale, kitchen and redesigned the menu. Antonia opened a restaurant just as the show was starting. Lisa, I have no clue what she's been doing.

  • Paraphrasing here, need to review the tape for the actual quotes:

    Stephanie & Richard: Totally new dishes that I rocked out because I rule the kitchen like a T-Rex mainlining testosterone.

    Lisa: I memorized a recipe from the last restaurant I worked at.

  • The Child picked Spike to go home and named Stephanie and Antonia, along with Richard (obviously!) as her favorites. She doesn't like Dale because he punched a locker.

  • STORK REPORT: It's a girl!

    Home executive chef and "Top Chef" contestant Richard Blais and his wife Jazmin Zepeda welcomed little Riley Maddox Thursday. We hear Riley weighed in at 7.9 pounds and was 21 inches. The Atlanta couple got engaged after Zepeda trained Blais for and he completed the Peachtree Road Race in 2005.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Point Counterpoint

Wherein facts and viewpoints

Reel Fanatic
But, Spike being Spike, he wasn't finished yet, and saved his most savage (and accurate!) critique for Mr. Eastwood. Here goes:

"Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total and there was not one Negro actor on the screen. If you reporters had any balls you'd ask him why. There's no way I know why he did that -- that was his vision, not mine. But I know it was pointed out to him and that he could have changed it. It's not like he didn't know."

Amen, brother. I really had no time at all beyond the performance of Adam Beach for Clint's "Flags of Our Fathers," but I really liked "Letters from Iwo Jima" quite a bit. That said, Spike is right, and I'm happy someone has the huevos to point it out in such a significant forum.

Immodest Proposals:
My father's father (again, if I was a DEM, I'd probably mention he was my 'black' grandfather) already was a policeman here in Santa Monica (mostly did just traffic cop duties before the war), and was sent to the Pacific. Black troops weren't frontline troops, for the most part, which is one reason why Spike Lee's complaints about Flags of Our Fathers was kind of silly. But, my grandfather was at Iwo Jima, to clean up, identify the dead, bury the bodies, and type the notification letters. An unimaginably crappy duty, but according to my father, my grandfather preferred that to the frontline. Better to deal with the dead, then risk being one of them. One reason why I'll never question Truman's decision to drop the A-Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan was prepared to fight a war of attrition to the last man, woman, and child,


Wherein now with cartoon characters

1. queensbury (berry?)
2. purple. 1985 had two purple movies. The second being my favorite Woody Allen movie.
3. Red Baron (Correct answer?)
4. After looking up the definition for "Asterism" and discarding the printing explanation in favor of the astronomy route, I note to myself that plough looks close enough to what we call the big dipper.
5. I'll skip this one and let Donald Duck answer
6. no idea
7. The Czech Republic is only 15 years old, so that should help. Still drawing a blank.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday Ballet: Bolshoi Swan Lake - Pas de Quatre Small Swans

Wherein a few weeks ago The Child's ballet school held their recitals. We went back to the evening show to see the older students and one of the apprentice classes performed this Pas de Quatre. There's some pretty amazing footwork that's best seen close up and these 14 and 15-year olds danced the crap out of it. Good stuff.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I'll learn you some lessons

Wherein a previous quote from the same book

Two posts on education:

Reminds me of a section from one of my favorite books. Mark Helprin, Memoir from Antproof Case. At fourteen, after murdering a man in self-defense, our narrator is sentenced to an asylum in the German mountains. Run by Jesuits, they can't afford to train the children under their care; but they've worked out something:
"We have designed our own educational system, and it works. I though of it myself after I visited the United States in 1910 and watched a game of baseball.

"What you call the pitchers were practicing along the sidelines. Well, being a man of science, I leaned over the rail and asked, 'Do you always practice with the same-sized ball?' In fact, they did, or at least they said they did. 'Why?' I inquired. 'Why not?' they inquired back.

"I then told them that it was obvious in regard to physics and physiology that they would enormously improve their performance if they practiced with balls of radically different sizes -- a pea-sized pebble on the one hand, and a soccer ball on the other . The difficulties and exertions of doing so would make them champions with a ball tailored for the fist and of the proper weight and density for throwing.

"I don't know if they followed my system, but we do, as you shall see."

The lessons begin:

My first task, dictated by Father Bromeus for reasons that he would not disclose but that later appeared quite obvious, was to memorize the telephone directory of Zurich. To this day I can recall names and numbers that are no longer associated and that are forever lost, but that once made the hearts of boys and girls race as they saw on the page a code that would bring them, by voice and ear, to the houses of their overlords.

The object of Father Bromeus was to train my mind to take in information. This was the French half of the education I received at Chateau Parfilage. I can still tell you that the atomic weight of cobalt is 58.93, that the altitude of the railroad station at Neuchatel is 482 meters, that Shakespeare used the word glory 94 times, that the Italian word for dipthong is dittongo, that (though I cannot tell you who invented the pickle) Johann Georg Pickel invented the gas lamp in 1786, and that Roberts captured Bloemfontein on March 13, 1900, though Bloemfontein was never able to capture Roberts.

Father Bromeus presented me with so many tables, lists, texts, photographs, paintings, and musical compositions to memorize that I spent hours and hours a day on it. Soon I had mastered rapid apprehension and assimilation of virtually any material, never to be forgotten unless I deliberately banished it. Only later would the next test come, which was just as shocking as suddenly being presented with the Zurich telephone book. This was the task of analysis, which, with Jesuitical discipline, Father Bromeus divided up into interpolation, extrapolation, induction, reduction, and deduction.

When I had started upon these things, I was examined. "I have learned from Father Bromeus," the rector said, "that you have at your command the information necessary to tell me how you would, from this location, kill all the grasshoppers in Paris."

"I beg your pardon, sir"? I asked, never having been forced to this kind of thought.

Because I was not allowed to employ anyone in Paris or use the railroads to ship tens of thousands of birds and bats to the City of Light, I had to design and manufacture a huge cannon. This involved everything I had learned about physics, metallurgy, chemistry, geometry, and geology (I had to mine my own metals, make my own tools, build my own buildings). Unfortunately, to get the grasshoppers, I had to destroy the whole city. My answer was only hypothetical. How was I to know that it would be the underlying logic of the rest of the twentieth century?

Every day, the rector would present such a problem -- sometimes purely scientific, sometimes technological, poetic, historical, political, or aesthetic, and often a combination of several of these. His queries were always interesting and often ingenious. Even when they were fruitless, the many frustrating approaches that we followed toward their unobtainable solution made such problems immensely entertaining. He might say, "You are to write a sonnet after Shakespeare, in French, using the rules of Italian prosody," or he might drop me into the forests of northern Canada and instruct me (all in theory, of course) to survive the winter and construct a coliseum of snow and walrus bones.

Where I erred, he corrected; when I was lost, he showed me the beginning of the way. My favorite problems were the short imperatives: "Solve the problems of Revolutionary France." (First I had to figure out what they were.) "Design an electrical machine for the flawless generation of music." This I did, in theory, and many years later in Brazil I encountered what are called synthesizers, and I smiled. "Develop the economy of Egypt." I had a good plan: they didn;t follow it. "Tell me what this is," he would say, handing me a flask of goo. Having committed to memory many of the techniques of qualitative and quantitative analysis, I would return in a few days with a list of components in their absolute and proportionate quantities.

All this while doing hard labor in fields, rising at five, climbing ice-clad peaks, and cutting and hauling firewood. As if to confirm that life is the academy of fate, the only question he asked more than once was, as usual, in the form of a command. In fact, he presented me with the same challenge four or five times, and each time I took a few days to make an intricate plan. His exhortation was, "Rob the Bank of England."

"Montgomery's most serious weakness...stemmed from a refusal to...defer to the overwhelming dominance of the United States"

Wherein Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 wasn't at the library so I got this one

Max Hastings, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945 :
American and British historians have expended immense energy in recent years arguing the issue of whether the German soldier was superior to his Allied counterpart. To all save the most dogged nationalists, it must be plain that Hitler's armies performed far more professionally and fought with much greater determination than Eisenhower's men. Allied generals were constantly hampered by the fact that, even when they advanced bold and imaginative plans, these were often incapable of execution by conscientious but never fanatical civilian soldiers, opposed by the most professionally skilful army of modern times. Yet it seems wrong to leave the matter there. There is a vital corollary. If American and British soldiers had been imbued with the ethos which enabled Hitler's soldiers to do what they did, the purpose for which the war was being fought would have been set at naught. All soldiers are in some measure brutalized by the experience of conflict. Some lapses and breaches of humanity on the part of Allied soldiers are recorded in these pages. To an impressive degree, however, the American and British armies preserved in battle the values and decencies, the civilized inhibitions of their societies. It seems appropriate for an historian to offer military judgements upon the failures and shortcomings of the Allies in 1944-45, which were many and various. But there is every reason to cherish and to respect the values that prevaded Eisenhower's armies.

Many individual German soldiers were likewise unwilling warriors, men born and raised with the same instinctive humanity as their Allied counterparts. But they fought within the framework of an army which was institutionally brutalized. Hitler and his generals demanded of Germany's soldiers, on pain of savage punishment, far more than the Western allies expected from their men. American and British officers knew that their citizen soldiers were attempting to fulfil tasks which ran profoundly against the grain of their societies' culture. The Germans and Russians in the Second World War showed themselves better warriors, but worse human beings. This is not a cultural conceit, but a moral truth of the utmost importance to understanding what took place on the battlefield.

Such observations lead in turn, however, to a consideration which might dissuade the democracies from celebrating their own humanity too extravagantly. Western allied scruples made the Americans and British dependent upon the ferocity of their Soviet allies to do the main business of destroying Hitler's armies. If the Russians had not accepted the casualties necessary to inflict a war-winning level of attrition on the Werhmacht, the Western allies would have had to pay a far higher price, and the struggle would have continued for much longer.

Of the French he writes:
The French military contribution was small, and almost entirely symbolic. Their formations suffered chronic problems of indiscipline -- indeed, French colonial units in Italy and later Germany were sometimes responsible for mass rapes on a Russian scale.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Top Chef 11: The Cheffening

Wherein the word for the day is Supracondylar

Chart 1

Chart 2

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'll take my 5 and cash in for the night

Wherein just in case I don't get around to it, I ate corn meal-crusted pork ears and tails with bbq sauce. Holman & Finch Public House -- excellent

  1. MC Hawking: I explode like a bomb. No one is spared. / My power is my mass times the speed of light squared.
  2. The Simpsons
  3. The rulers of the universe, more commonly referred to as the Knights Templar.
  4. Was Warhol still alive in 1986? That's the obvious answer, so I'll go with it. Or Andy Rooney, I'm always getting them confused.
  5. Houston. Wrong
  6. Dustbowl novel, moving to California..."The Grapes of Wrath."
  7. N.o. I.d.e.a.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday ballet: Joffrey does Prince

Wherein not all of this works -- I'm talking about you, scary clown -- but enough works and works well -- I'm thinking of you, bikini-wearing women in mesh body stockings -- to make this worth while

From around 1994.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Max Hastings: Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45

Wherein as seen on Book TV

Interview at the Pritzker Military Library

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Top Chef word clouds

Wherein blame it on the insomnia and not enough alcohol + Tylenol PM

At the TWOP Top Chef forums, there are individual forums for each chef. It approaches interesting to see who creates the most activity. Spike looks like a lightening rod and despite being one of the final 6, Antonia can only garner the 11th most comments.

Taking the newst three pages of comments, I've created Tag Clouds for the six chefs. Too time consuming to do the rest.

  1. Spike 234
  2. Richard 189
  3. Dale 174
  4. Mark 138
  5. Andrew 135
  6. Stephanie 97
  7. Lisa 90
  8. Ryan 85
  9. Nikki 81
  10. Jennifer 67
  11. Antonia 50
  12. Erik 47
  13. Zoi 37
  14. Nimma 34
  15. Manuel 26
  16. Valerie 16


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Friday, May 16, 2008

Knock Knock

Wherein who's there?

Interrupting cow with amnesia.

Interrupting cow with am--


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another unfortunate URL

Wherein I can't make these up

First there was Tobias Funke: Okay, Lindsay, are you forgetting that I was a professional twice over — an analyst and a therapist. The world’s first analrapist.

Now there's Water The Rapists. I haven't clicked the link so I can only guess why they need to be watered.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Top Chef 4.10: the vote for Blais edition

Wherein today's email contained this request: Hello Everyone!

The time has come for the FAN FAVORITE vote on Top Chef. Voting starts at 9pm TOMORROW (Weds.). You can vote (for BLAIS) up to 40 times per week on the bravo website until May 27th. ( ). Remember to vote for your favorite Cheftestant (hopefully Blais!) early and often!

Forward this message along to anyone who is a fan!

There is more detailed information below if you are interested. Thanks for the support!


Rather than write 10,000 words like last week, I'll probably just put up my charts. Though, rewatching last week's episode, I gotta say one of the funniest things I've seen on TV this year is the bug-eyed look of frustration Dale gives as his team is freaking out over mayonnaise. That's a moment 30 Rock or The Office would be proud of.

Ok, show is over and Andrew should not be going home. Not fair at all. Looking at the numbers, this was only Andrew's third finish in the bottom group. As opposed to Lisa and Spike who have 9 bottom group finishes; with Lisa in the bottom group for 7 consecutive challenges.

Spike and Lisa are at Nikki levels of ineptitude and their continued dishonorable play is unpleasant to watch. Final four should now be written in stone: Richard, Dale, Antonia, Stephanie. Spike or Lisa making the finals wouldn't be an upset, it would be a Hindenburg sized disaster.

Chart 1:

Chart 2:

  1. Richard 6
  2. Dale -2
  3. Antonia -4
  4. Stephanie -6
  5. Andrew -8
  6. Lisa -18
  7. Nikki -18
  8. Spike -22

A big problem I have with the show is that in order to create viewing drama, they hide a lot of what goes into the judges decisions. And since the judges are able to create any excuse they want to get rid of someone, it doesn't do me/us/viewers any favors in trying to discern who are the better cooks. I forget who was who went, but Dale said "She scared me she was so good." Really? Because we never saw that.

What we've seen of Andrew is a quirky combativeness centered on preparing quality food. He wasn't always successful, but he never stopped working, proved to be an able teammate and for the most part received criticism gracefully. I think his argument last night was that after being challenged to create a healthy box lunch, the judges then altered the requirements to meet their preconceived notions of what would be filling for Chicago policeman -- falling into their own trap of dumbing down the food. Based on his past success, Andrew should have gotten a little credit for more faithfully following the original requirements even if his food didn't taste that good. His small portions made more sense than what looked like Stephanie serving half a gallon of soup per person. I bet that was more filling than a tiny sushi roll.

What we've seen of Spike's cooking is one soul satisfying taco, two bowls of soup, and a salad. What we've seen of his noncooking side is a general laziness and contempt as he excuses his dumbed-down food as being for the masses. Add in lack of skill and imagination in cutting up sausages and cheese for a "charcuterie plate" and a crappy chicken salad. More interested in playing the game of "Top Chef" than being top chef, he was previously called out by the judges for not pulling his wait and they again dinged him for lack of effort. Screwing up a chicken salad when your choices deny those ingredients to your competitors should've been much worse than Andrew's misstep.

With seven consecutive bottom group finishes, other than the cake, I can't remember the last thing Lisa did that was successful. Her calling out Andrew looked like an act of tired desperation.

Has the show done anything to portray her in a nonnegative light? Andrew gets the twitchy edit, Dale gets the asshole edit, Spike is the closest to a villain edit, and Lisa is just complaining and making excuses.

In basic skills and ability to work with others, losing Andrew is a bit of a blow. Assigning Richard and Dale automatic bids, it would have been a close battle between Andrew, Antonia, and Stephanie for the final two slots.

My personal rankings have Richard at the top and I'm back to having Stephanie and Dale in a dead heat for second. If they had restaurants next to each other, I'd probably walk into Stephanie's first; ask me again tomorrow and my answer might change. Antonia defaults to fourth as I'm still not a believer and I no longer think Lisa can compete.

From April 24, 2006

Wherein originally written for They've since gone to a forum only format and I recovered this using the Wayback machine

...with a couple of small edits.

Pink is Good

Posted by Bill
Let's start this off with the most divisive issue I can think of. No, not politics or religion or even why Family Guy sucks so bad. Nope, let's do barbeque.

"Crap, I'm going to North Carolina and I forgot about barbeque," I yelled to myself about 10pm on a Thursday night. I was leaving at 6am to drive to Raleigh and needed some sleep, and that didn't leave me a lot of time for research. When it comes to barbeque, I'm more a fan than an aficionado, but I know what I like and I'm partial to big slabs of ribs - beef or pork. Texas style or Kansas City, smoked and slathered in sauce. Southern-style ribs are usually to sickly sweet for my taste, but what really threw me the first time I ordered barbeque in Georgia was receiving a plate of dry, chopped pork. Barely smoked, with no sauce, I took it back and suggested I had been given the wrong order. "No honey, and the sauce is on the table." And it was, not that it helped. This is the norm and if you find yourself in Atlanta I recommend avoiding the insult to pig flesh that is Williamson Brothers. I have not made a survey of bbq joints in town, but I can recommend Fatt Matt's Rib Shack and Swallow at the Hollow. But I don't mean to argue about the appropriate barbeque styles. [since this was written, I have discovered Sam and Dave's, quite possibly the best bbq --nonEastern NC variety -- I've ever had.] I like smoked, dry rubs, wet rubs, and any combination there of. I'm also quite fond of Vietnamese barbeque.

But going to North Carolina was something different.

This was an opportunity to hunt down the elusive Eastern Carolina bbq. Rarely seen outside its native habitat, this style has not much in common with other regional barbeque. It's smoked pig, chopped, and further cooked in a vinegary sauce with a more than passing acquaintance with hot pepper. The best way to eat it is in a sandwich topped with cole slaw?a cool sweet slaw is a perfect counterpoint to a hot and spicy bbq. Living in Charlotte, NC through early middle school, this was a staple of dinner out and school fundraisers. Now driving to Raleigh for a function and driving right back, I'd have very little time for barbeque sampling.

I found a couple lists for the Triangle area and on one Allen & Son was mentioned as having Eastern Carolina style. Checking Google, the address (6203 Millhouse Rd) was just off I-40. Not too far from the exit and I could hit it in time for lunch and get back on the road without missing a beat. No time to scope out any reviews -- it said East Carolina and I can find it. Go.

Luckily, it was tremendous. Everything I remembered this style being. Maybe a little spicier, but wonderful moist chunks of pork with enough vinegar to almost take your breath away. Service was nonexistant, so after sitting at a table for 10 minutes I went to the counter to get it go and ate it in my car. After checking into the hotel I realized I had enough time to go back; so I did, and bought another quart to take home. Yum. Now, if someone would like to make other recommendations for the area, feel free. You know, in case I ever go back.

Once I got home I did some searching on Allen & Son. Oddly, I found not a lot of middle ground in the opinions. Reviews tended towards them being among the best in the state or the worst. Hey, it's barbeque, one of the last refuges of the fanatical. Also discovered that it technically isn't authentic Eastern style. Eastern should smoke the whole pig, while Allen & Son just do shoulders; and Allen & Son add butter to the sauce (butter=fat=flavor, so I'm not complaining). I'd consider these minor points, but depending on your level of fanaticism it might be worth knowing. For a completely different take I offer a vegan who porked out at Allen & Son.

Which brings me to H. Kent Craig. Researching North Carolina barbeque is a hobby many have taken up and you'll find many who have travelled the state. H. Kent has an impressive list of reviews, but his review of Allen & Son is so mean-spirited that either he has a personal feud with the restaurant or knows nothing about food. While the latter is a possibility, it seems odd for someone who has devoted as much time and space as he has to reviewing restaurants. Let's look at what he has to say:
...because all three times I could see pink meat where it was woefully undercooked, a severe health risk (parasites in pig flesh) as well as flat-out cosmetically grossing one out. Going there a Tuesday night, a Thursday night, and a Saturday afternoon late over a period of months, each time we were served undercooked BBQ that had pink in it, and was so full of huge unchewable pieces of undercooked fat globules that it made it even further impossible to eat.

Obviously, he didn't like it, but you can't please everyone, so no big deal. I didn't see any fat, but it's possible, and he also was unhappy, as I was, with the service. What I do have a problem with is his claim that pink meat means undercooked meat and that eating at Allen & Son puts you at parasitical risk. This is so wrong that I have to seriously wonder about his intentions and knowledge.

Has he never had a ham sandwich? It's pink. Why is it pink? Because it is smoked; pork often retains a pinkish color when smoked. But even a pork chop can be pink and still be perfectly safe. The problem is most pork is labeled to cook to a minimum internal temperature of 160F. Even the USDA recommends cooking pork past the point of practicality. Governmental nannyism is erring too much on the side of precaution and is ruining many a taste bud and dinner. Just so there's no misunderstanding, let's take a look at what safely cooking pork entails. Whipping out the bedside copy of On Food and Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee tells us:
Uncooked garbage was banned as pork feed in 1980, and since then the incidence of trichinosis in the United States has declined to fewer than ten cases annually. Most of these are not from pork, but from such game meats as bear, boar, and walrus.

For many years it was recommended that pork be cooked past well done to ensure the elimination of trichnae. It's now known that a temperature of 137F/58C a medium doneness, is sufficient to kill the parasite in meat; aiming for 150F/65C gives reasonable safety margin. Trichinae can also be eliminated by frozen storage for a period of at least 20 days at or lower than 5F/-15C.

And concerning barbeque:
...barbeques meat, stew meat, a pot roast, or a confit can be surprisingly pink or read inside -- if it was heated very gradually and gently....Meats cooked over wood, charcoal, or gas flames -- barbecued pork or beef, for example, or even poultry cooked in a gas oven -- often develop "pink ring..."

Another problem with following the USDA recommendations, is that people often forget about carryover heat. If you cook a pork roast until the internal thermometer read 160F -- and you are using a probe thermometer aren't you? Cooking by time is very imprecise -- it will continue cooking to 160F-168F while sitting on your counter. If you're particularly paranoid, cook until the low 150Fs and carryover should get you past 160F. Me, I'm cooking to around 145F, so if you're at my house for dinner, expect a very pink pork roast. If you've been cooking to 160F, try the lower temperature and see how much more flavor your meat has. You wouldn't ruin a ribeye or a beef tenderloin by ordering it well-done, so why do the same to the pig?

Where was I? Oh yeah:

  • Barbeque good
  • Eastern Carolina barbeque better
  • Pink is good; stop overcooking your pork
  • Allen & Son - eat there or not, just don't listen to H. Kent Craig

12:39 PM | Link | Food and Recipes | Comments (4)

I just drooled all over myself

Wherein which is preferable to drooling all over someone else

Chris DeBarr:
I also stole some time to finally make our foie gras bonbons again. I made a fig, bourbon, and foie gras mousse; let it chill overnight; roll the mousse into little balls and briefly freeze 'em; take some of our Port caramel sauce (that we use for our chocolate moltens) and dip the frozen foie mousse balls in the caramel, setting them on foil; refrigerate that so the caramel starts to harden -- 20-30 minutes; temper evil dark chocolate -- this time the Extreme 85% from Chatelain's; dip the caramel-coated foie balls in the chocolate using the tines of a fork to gently roll 'em around to cover. As you can see, it's a bit of an undertaking -- nothing too difficult, but each step takes careful planning and fairly exact temperature manipulations. The result is something that's quite decadent, and the good news is I can make one more batch sometime this weekend!

When I presented the bonbons as the amuse bouche for our 7 course foie dinner in Oct-Nov 2006, I had a single black truffle that I zested on my microplaner and blended with cocoa powder to turn 'em into literal truffled truffles. The bonbons are best at room temperature because the foie gras mouse softens inside and gets silky and creamy as the butter in the mousse relaxes. The flavors melt off in layers as you eat it, and it's pure sensual overload without apology.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I think I have 4

Wherein Typo, Typoer, Typoest

1. Dude, even with my ASSHAT rating and lack of respect for royalty, I'm not answering that question. Though this just might confirm those rumors she was in Sturgis in 1966. Yes, Frank Sinatra was involved.
2. Something by Dickens, how about Oliver Twist for Fagin.
3. French Open clay courts
4. Four = guess. Research = 60 cents in the vending machine confirms my guess; that is, if the vending machine package is considered normal.
5. The Oscar Madison/forensic scientist guy, married to Bret from the top row center on Match Game. Oh, upon Googling, not even close
6. Saddam Hussein
7. Changed their theme songs? I know the Drew Carey show did this three or four times -- "Moon Over Parma" was my favorite, though I appreciated the dance opening that had 2.5 seconds of Flip Wilson sitting on the couch -- and I think China Beach swapped out songs. Except I'm also fairly certain that "Fresh Prince" did not change.

Greatest movie I've seen once

Wherein it's a Mandy Patinkin festival

Scenes from Music of Chance.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Great headline or greatest?

Wherein roll your on


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Not good at all

Wherein he's suckatastic

A week ago, ALOTT5MA wrote of "Hairspray, The Musical". Which is fine. It's ok, it's just a far, far inferior copy of the original. Two things made the John Waters' movie a classic: Divine and the music. So what does the broadway version give us? Harvey Fierstein in the Divine role singing. This can never be a good thing. But others disagreed:
  • but my biggest concern has always been if it can hold up without Fierstein's spin on Edna
  • You can't compare any Edna's to Fierstein's.

I stepped in and tried to put a halt to the insanity: I think I'm confused on the side issue. Y'all aren't seriously advocating a position of support for Harvey Fierstein's singing, are you? Only to have Matt respond with Harvey's singing and voice isn't "pretty," but it works perfectly for this character.

If "isn't pretty" is analogous to an autopsy being performed at a preschool recital as "slightly inappropriate," then I agree. But when compared to the originator, Divine, no, it does not work perfectly. Fierstein is a horrid actor and a wretched singer. To prove my point I have compiled Harvey Fierstein's vocal highlights from the Hairspray Cast Album. Don't worry, it's only 54 seconds and I had to stretch for that.


This song from the original Hairspray should have made it to the musical. This is I like to call "great music."

UR 2 Cool 2B 4got10

Profile in the New York Times about Lynda Barry and her writing workshop. Interesting person and even though I haven't read her books and wasn't the greatest fan of her Ernie Pook’s Comeek -- well, I thought it was borderline brilliant but it usually depressed the hell out of me to read it too frequently -- I think she's a decent storyteller. In fact, I bought a CD of her reading some of her stories. These are my two favorite. Doesn't Mike Beck sound exactly like how you imagine the musician Beck to have been in high school?

NY Times, How to Think Like a Surreal Cartoonist.
Taking the workshop, which Ms. Barry teaches several times a year, is a bit like witnessing an endurance-performance piece. Aided by her assistant, Betty Bong (in reality, Kelly Hogan, a torch singer who lives in Chicago), Ms. Barry sings, tells jokes, acts out characters and even dances a creditably sensual hula, all while keeping up an apparently extemporaneous patter on subjects like brain science, her early boy-craziness, her admiration for Jimmy Carter and the joys of menopause.

But this is just camouflage for the workshop’s true purpose: to pass on an art-making method that Ms. Barry learned from Marilyn Frasca, her junior- and senior-year art teacher at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

It involves using a random word, like “cars” or “breasts,” to summon a memory in unexpected, filmic detail; writing about it by hand for a set time period (as she says, “Limitation creates structure!”); and then not reading it or talking about it for at least a week. Within the workshop it also involves positive feedback. As students read aloud, Ms. Barry kneels before them, head bowed, listening intently, and says: “Good! Good!” (“I was a kid who was never read to,” she explains.)

This is essentially the method that Ms. Barry has always used, not just for “Ernie Pook” but also her novels: “The Good Times Are Killing Me” from 1988, about biracial childhood friends, and “Cruddy” (1999), whose 16-year-old narrator recounts a long-ago murder rampage. She also deployed it for “One! Hundred! Demons!,” a soulful 2002 graphic memoir that she describes as “autobifictionalography.”

“What It Is,” which outlines the method in detail, could be considered a picture book for grown-ups. Using ink brush, pen and pencil drawings as well as collages and luminous watercolors, many of them on lined yellow legal paper, it explores deep philosophical questions like “What Is an Image?” (The answer, Ms. Barry says, is something “at the center of everything we call the arts.”) It also includes an activity book, instructions, assignments and several passages of purely autobiographical writing and drawing in which Ms. Barry recounts her own journey to making art.

Let's not forget the supremely talented Kelly Hogan. Unfortunately, I don't have much of her music, other than her showing up on Jesus Christ Super-Star: a Resurrection as Pilate. Here she is in a duet with John Wesley Harding from his Awake album:

I'm so sleepy

Wherein since 2am local stations have interrupted their infomercials for live weather broadcasts

Images from Weather Underground.

2:30 AM

3:45 AM

4:30 AM

5:10 AM

I will accept your apology

Wherein I don't think RionRustleRevue and I will be Friending each other

See comment at the bottom

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Wherein great song, great video, great album

Angela's Baby

Wherein pickin and grinnin

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lost = Neverland

Wherein some quotes

I don't know whether you have ever seen a map of a person's
mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and
your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them
trying to draw a map of a child's mind, which is not only
confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag
lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are
probably roads in the island, for the Neverland is always more or
less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and
there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing,
and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors,
and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder
brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old
lady with a hooked nose. It would be an easy map if that were
all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers,
the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take
the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say
ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and
so on, and either these are part of the island or they are
another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing,
especially as nothing will stand still.

Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal.


While she slept she had a dream. She dreamt that the Neverland
had come too near and that a strange boy had broken through from
it. He did not alarm her, for she thought she had seen him
before in the faces of many women who have no children. Perhaps
he is to be found in the faces of some mothers also. But in her
dream he had rent the film that obscures the Neverland, and she
saw Wendy and John and Michael peeping through the gap.


"Second to the right, and straight on till morning."

That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to the Neverland; but
even birds, carrying maps and consulting them at windy corners,
could not have sighted it with these instructions. Peter, you
see, just said anything that came into his head.


So with occasional tiffs, but on the whole rollicking, they drew near the Neverland; for after many moons they did reach it, and, what is more, they had been going pretty straight all the time, not perhaps so much owing to the guidance of Peter or Tink as because the island was looking for them. It is only thus that any one may sight those magic shores.

Doesn't this sound like Ben?

But of course he cared very much; and he was so full of wrath
against grown-ups, who, as usual, were spoiling everything, that
as soon as he got inside his tree he breathed intentionally quick
short breaths at the rate of about five to a second. He did this
because there is a saying in the Neverland that, every time you
breathe, a grown-up dies; and Peter was killing them off
vindictively as fast as possible.


"What is it?" he cried again.

She had to tell him.

"I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew
up long ago."

"You promised not to!"

"I couldn't help it. I am a married woman, Peter."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, and the little girl in the bed is my baby."

"No, she's not."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Top Chef 4.9

Wherein overanalysis

Before tonight's wedding fiasco episode begins, I thought I'd take another look at the remaining chefs and my impressions. Note: For even-handed analysis, I'd recommend reading the power rankings at Skillet Doux. Two things have become clear watching this show: 1.) When in doubt, cook with bacon. 2.) Miso is replacing truffle oil as the foodie's ketchup. If the show forbade the use of bacon and miso, half the chefs would be at a complete loss for ideas.

As a reminder, last week's accumulative chart ranked them as:
  1. Richard, 6
  2. Dale, -1
  3. Antonia, -6
  4. Andrew, -7
  5. Stephanie, -8
  6. Lisa, -10
  7. Nikki, -14
  8. Spike, -18

This differs from how I'd personally rank them, based on who I'd most like to cook me a meal.

My personal top 4: Richard, Dale, Stephanie, Andrew.
Richard Blais. Previously mentioned many times, I'm a Richard Blais fan. The rested of the soquoted household are Richard Blais fans. The only reason we're watching the show in the first place is because of Richard Blais. And it's been fun watching him turn out food that mystifies and delights. Other than a minor misstep with the eucalyptus and a major misstep with the fish scales, he's been amazingly consistentin landing in the top group in ten out of the sixteen challenges. He's taken the lead, worked in support, worked a variety of styles, comes across as enthusiastic about the food and looks to have the respect of the other chefs and the judges. He's the obvious and consensus frontrunner and based on frequently Bravo uses him in the talking head segments I fear they're setting him up to be upset. I fully expect Colicchio to say "This is good, but we expect better from you," while Nikki escapes with another bland pasta dish.

Dale Talde. He's fought his way up the rankings. Again, reading around the various boards and sites, Richard and Dale are seen as the predominant favorites. Off to a slow start, Dale has put together a great run of inventive food that looks great. He's worked a variety of skills and cooking styles and is shown to be a good teammate. He's had a few outbursts, but they've occurred backstage. I always want to see how he'll approach a challenge.

Stephanie. Oh, Stephanie, what's wrong? One of my early favorites, she's landed solidly in the bottom group for three straight challenges. I still think she's one of the strongest chefs here, though I'm beginning to feel the competition just doesn't match her talents. I expect her food to look good and taste good, so when it doesn't I am shocked.

Andrew. While Andrew has dropped a bit in my personal rankings, I've come to like him more as a person. Despite the editing highlighting his twitchy McTwitchiness, he's also been shown as a valued teammate and very respectful of criticism. Though he's solidly in the middle of the pack, he's also the most inventive of that pack. He's capable of crashing and burning in the most spectacular way possible and of being good enough to snipe one of the other frontrunners if they falter.

One of those four SHOULD win. The others may be competent cooks, but after eight weeks have been shown to be lesser talents.
Antonia. She's gone from sixth to third on the misfires of Lisa and Stephanie. Last week's double win in no way demontrated she's one of the top chefs on the show. I can't think of a single thing she's done that's impressed me. Also has a bad attitude and a case od the snobs.

Lisa. She has a three week slide that equals Stephanie's. While I think Stephanie's is an aberration, Lisa's is a more accurate reflection. She's hung around with so-so dishes and her one win is completely due to the judges not knowing how little she actually contributed. Less impressive than Antonia with a worse attitude. Guaranteed to throw anyone else under the bus if given the opportunity.

These last two should be sent home right now. Anyone going home before these two would be a travesty. Absolutely no shot of winning. I said a TRAVESTY!
Nikki. She has an impressive resume, but in recent years she's more of a FOH person than a kitchen person and it shows. She's had some major malfunctions and even her best dishes haven't impressed that much; other than week 1's home-made pasta. On the Bravo site, there's an extra video clip from the Movie Challenge episode that showed Nikki complaining no one wanted to cook with her. I felt a little sorry for her. If this was "Top Hotdish" I'd be pulling for her casserole to win. Since it isn't, she's outclassed.

Spike. Nice hat, looks good on you. I' Go home.

Top Chef has aired eight episodes, let's split this into two halves and see how the remaining contestants are doing. see data. At the end of the first half (episodes 1-4):
  1. Richard +5
  2. Stephanie -2
  3. Andrew -2
  4. Dale -4
  5. Lisa -4
  6. Antonia -6
  7. Nikki -6
  8. Spike -10

Nothing surprising, there. Ranking the second half (episodes 5-8):
  1. Dale +3
  2. Richard +1
  3. Antonia 0
  4. Stephanie -4
  5. Andrew -5
  6. Lisa -6
  7. Nikki -8
  8. Spike -8

I find this to be interesting. While I'm beginning to like Andrew and think he's consistently putting out interesting dishes, he's had the 5th worst run in the second half. Despite that, he's still in the top 4. He happened to hit a run of dishes that were good, just not quite good enough to make it to the top group. The only bottom group he was in was the Episode 5, Element challenge. Somewhat interestingly, half the remaining chefs were in the bottom groups that episode (Richard, Andrew, Antonia, Spike).

Let's take a closer look at the three women who still have a chance to win (sorry, Nikki). Stephanie and Lisa are -6 for the last three challenges and Antonia is +2. That's a huge shift. In fact, after the Quickfire, Ep6, Stephanie (-2) was in second, closely followed by Dale (-3) and Lisa (-4); Antonia was a faltering -8. I'm still having a hard time giving any credence to Antonia's ascendance. She won the tasting quickfire and the $10 family meal challenge. While nice, these are not the type of credentials that lead me to believe she has what it takes to win.

Richard, Dale, and Stephanie are the only ones in the top 4 in both halves. Richard and Dale are the only to improve their scores in the second half. They should be safe until the final. It's up to the middle four -- Antonia, Stephanie, Andrew, and Lisa -- to make a move and show some cheffing assertiveness.

And Tonight's Episode.......

Loving Dale:
  • "We don't have the strongest cooks..."
  • "Why are you still here."

Still, the relay race was closer than I thought it might be. If Antonia hadn't been so slow, the relay race could have been a blowout. Nikki again demonstrates she's spent too much time out of the kitchen.

Nooo! I want restaurant wars! Top Chef, you suck! Ha, Spike, you just exposed yourself as total chickenshit. Too scared to take the bride.

Not loving Dale. Now he's being the whiney bitch. Yeah, you're the strongest part of your team, now shut up and cook. Do your job well and Nikki goes home.

What I hate about shopping at Whole Foods is that they only bag in plastic. Buy 10 items and you somehow walk out with 12 bags. I usually shop at Publix and end up dumping everything out so I can rebag in paper bags, because I swear to god even if you specify paper they're only putting three things in a bag. Yeah, I'm that dick.

Oh, the show. Excellent, they're actually showing kitchen time. Team Loser so far looks disorganized and disgruntled, meaning they'll probably win. Preview of Andrew and Richard conflict. Though if it's anything like episode 1 it'll be Andrew whining to the camera and not doing anything in person. Yeah, what I thought. I got a $1 that says Nikki starts crying. Even money that Dale and Lisa yell at each other.

C. Spike

First impression is that Team Loser is getting their ass kicked. I preferred the look of the Bride's side.

Time for the cake. Both look good.

Ooh, maybe Spike will pull a knife on Dale. We've seen how good Dale's knife skills are, Spike would be filleted.

Awww! Richard takes the blame for screwing up the spinach, then gives the win to Stephanie. What a guy. I'm giving both of them 2 points. Sounds like a solid victory.

Here's comes Team Loser with a heaping dose of grumpypuss. Time for the bullet points:
  • Nikki running from responsibility. You can run, but you cannot hide!
  • Good Cake.
  • Dale burning bridges. He's right, so he should have done something about it.
  • Main problem is no one took the lead. As long as Dale is fine with acting the asshole, he should have taken control.
  • Still, this a big kittenball thrown right at Nikki's sweet spot. Time to cut her loose and set her free.
  • Keep Dale around to answer for his actions.

Yes! Nikki goes home. I didn't dislike her, she was just out of her league on this show.

Chart 1 -- In the screenshot below, I screwed up the Week 9 colors for top group and challenge winner. They are correct if you click the Chart 1 link.

Chart 2
Blais with a commanding, almost stunning, lead. Basically a four person tie for second. Dale and Andrew were monsters in the kitchen, though Andrew clearly shined tonight. I'll need to watch again to see if Antonia did anything of note, or if she was carried by the team. Lisa is done and Spike is the walking dead.

  1. Richard +9. Trying to think of something not completely positive to say about the guy. Ok, he's a little quick to always assume the executive chef role and push everyone else into a subservient role. Then again, it usually works and no has stepped up to challenge him. The problem in trying to identify someone to compete against Richard is that he's the only one shown actively choosing a leadership role. While Stephanie has been a decent collaborator, most everyone else is sitting back and sniping.

  2. Antonia -4. Still not impressing me. Very weak link for the relay race and she contributed pizza. A great pizza, but still a pizza. Biggest problem for me is her admitting that Andrew making breaded chicken was a bad idea and she couldn't be bothered to say something. Richard and Stephanie should also be dinged for not challenging this, but this is not the first time Antonia has been prepared to watch a teammate get run over. As far as the show is concerned, I don't trust and her food isn't interesting. She's a slightly less annoying version of Spike -- more interested in playing the game than plating winning food. Though if you can't do one....

  3. Andrew -5. Dude busted serious ass in the kitchen and kept it together, unlike Dale. Of course Andrew had the luxury of not having to worry about lame teammates. For all his bluster, Andrew has consistently worked well with others. Two things. First, skipping the relay race, this is the third consecutive challenge he's basically made chicken fingers. Like his earlier faux caviar tapioca pearls, he's in a major rut. Next, after Richard took the bullet for the spinach it was a bit ungrateful to then admit it didn't like the taste. Let it go -- why did you want to draw attention to the fact that you let another chef take over your dish? If they'd been the losing team, this should've been enough to get Andrew sent home.

  4. Dale -5. Dale, Dale, Dale, Dale, Dale. This is where he could've stepped forward and provided some much needed leadership and focus to the group. Dale has shown himself to be a hard worker and an asset when working with chefs he respects; however, with this challenge he forfeited the opportunity to be considered a top chef rather than a top cook.

  5. Stephanie -5. I'll just copy what reader_iam left in the comments: Amazing how Stephanie managed to do so well--to stretch and perform beyond expectations--in an area that's unfamiliar. It's as if it set her free, or something--which is not all that great a thing, given her consistent underperforming in context of the talent and skill she possessed. That's her flaw, Bill. She's a consistent underperformer vis a vis potential and ability, and we're far enough along in the competition for that not to be fluke.

    She won't go out on a limb enough to show her stuff in her actual areas of strength.. How can she possibly be enough of a manager of risk & talent (and the weighing of each/both) to truly be a "Top Chef"?

    She's no Richard. She's not even a Dale (on his game). What a shame. But that--unlike talent--is within her control, so I can only feel just so sorry.

  6. Lisa -14. Wasn't Lisa the one who earlier said she had no intention of doing a dessert? And here she is cranking out a great tasting cake. Good for her. What did Dale call it - situational negativity? Yeah she's got that, but I'm also thinking she's probably gotten the least sympathetic editing highlighting her bitchiness. We've seen bits and pieces of a very good cook and the attitude to fight for her position. But like Dale, this was an episode where she squandered an opportunity to take control and earn some major points for initiative.

  7. Nikki -18. I've had some sympathy since that video clip two weeks ago when she complained no one wanted to cook with her; and she tries really hard to be nice to everyone and promote a "can't we all just get along" attitude. But this episode she was nothing but bad. Freaking out over making mayonnaise, then her total abdication of any responsibility for the wedding menu. That was sad. You can't, on one hand, promote yourself as the Italian event expert, then on the other hand when asked for an opinion on an Italian menu item just give give up and say "I dunno." Then at the judge's table when asked who was in charge shout out "I have no idea but it definitely wasn't me, wasn't me, not me, please pick someone else." It isn't like the judges needed to look very hard for a reason to send Nikki home, so when she hands them an engraved invitation requesting to be booted off the show, it would have been rude of the judges to decline. Bye.

  8. Spike -22. While I think Lisa is getting an unfair unsympathetic edit, Spike is probably as loathsome as portrayed. His goal is to do slightly better than the worst person. Unfortunately, for him, looks like the judges have seen through his me-first slacker game plan and have put him on notice. I was kinda surprised he did so well with the fish considering he wasn't able to turn it into an orange-colored soup. Should be the next to go home.

Added: In addition to Skillet Doux, I also enjoy the recaps at Addition by Subtraction. Saw that the same asshole I deleted from my comments has also comment spammed there.