Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Menu for Wednesday

Baked a cake today. A sheet cake. Standard triple chocolate cake mix, frosted by melted chocolate chips. Then it was on to dinner: pounded chicken breasts, fresh corn on the cob, and curry green beans.

Nothing remarkable, but it was all my doing. Yes, I am…a husband who cooks! Hoo-ah!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Talkin' Movies 1

Way, way, waaaay back, I saw a movie called Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I was barely more than a toddler, and I loved it! I was completely unaware that it was to earn lasting fame as one of the worst movies ever made.

I have not seen the movie since then, and I've decided to keep it that way. Why add to the pile of backhanded accolades? Some memories should remain evergreen…and perhaps, for good measure, very, very dim.

On the other end of the spectrum, I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was ten. The film had just come out, and being a space enthusiast all fired up by the Apollo program I was keen to see a movie that looked like it was really taking place in outer space. After that first viewing I had one unequivocal reaction: what a stupid movie! It was slow, boring, disconnected, and made no sense! And that blasted "trip" through the stargate went on forever, with no payoff!

Another candidate for permanent avoidance, right? Right. But I couldn't forget the sheer visual splendor of the thing, and already being a reader of Arthur C. Clarke I decided to give the novel a try. It was good Clarke, if not quite "Childhood's End", and by reading it I realized the movie did make sense – just not the sort of sense you expect out of flicks like The Mysterians or an episode of "Fireball XL5". So, armed with the literary insights thus gleaned, I took in a second viewing and…became a complete convert to Kubrick's unparalleled cinematic vision of man's future beyond the bounds of Earth. I saw it five more times in the theaters, and who knows how man times via VHS (still mulling over getting a DVD edition).

I've rarely given any other movie that much of a chance to change my initially poor reaction, but that was one case where I'm glad I did. As for Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, I've a feeling that a lack of a second viewing qualifies as neglect of the most benign variety.

Flapper Food

Chicken wings. Baked, microwaved, fried…they make life worthwhile. But if you're serious about chicken wings, you can't just cook 'em, you have to be ready to do some serious seasoning and/or saucing. Home cooked is best, as it allows you to flavor them to your taste. And when you bake or microwave, you get a rich dripping that is truly culinary gold. This dripping provides the basis for a sauce that turns a side of rice – preferably with plenty of fresh veggies mixed in – into a taste of heaven. It goes nicely on potatoes too, but rice is best.

Restaurants and saloons just don't have quite the requisite touch, though some do a decent job on good nights. (The local brew pub gets closest, and for the best price.) And you don't get the side benefits of the dripping and, for me personally, the unalloyed joy of munching on the wingtips. 

Chicken wings. Nature's most perfect food.

Naval Gazing

So how's the Navy?

Odd question, perhaps, but that's what a Naval buff like me sometimes asks. And if even the Navy's own highly sanitized (if rather casually updated) site is any indication, it's not in very great shape. Which is a pity, 'cause them big ol' ships are darn purty!

I'm a fan of the ships, I really am. I've got books and books on them, from the Civil War to recent times, and I find them all fascinating (even the support vessels). I am not, however, all that keen on the organization which, like the other sectors of the defense establishment, seems intent on maintaining inadequate force-in-depth. Sure, it mostly has to do with money and politics, but it would be nice if more than lip service was paid to actual military need once in a while.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Dawn of All-You-Can-Eat Asian

I love buffets, especially chinese buffets. My first chinese buffet experience was at the Golden Coin, in Tempe, AZ, back during Christmas of 1973. It was housed in a defunct burger joint of unknown provenance, and had a single small serving line that featured fried rice, chow mein noodles, sweet and sour port, a couple of entrees, egg foo yung, and fried wonton chips. My life changed forever.

Fast forward to May of 1977, when I moved from Missouri to Arizona, and started going to the Golden Coin as often as I could manage. Friday was the best, when they had their fried fish. But the place was busy, being the one chinese buffet in the town that also featured ASU and the Sun Devils footfall team. Many a night, while I tucked into my own heaping plateful, I'd espy several college footballers piling small mountains of fried rice and noodles onto their plates and then going back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. It was an amazing sight, and I rather envied their ability to get the most bang for their bucks.

Much has changed in the intervening years. That particular Golden Coin is gone, though one still exists in Phoenix, and chinese buffets have evolved into far more elaborate establishments with many islands and various asian cuisines. I enjoy these a lot, but they'll never quite match the experience that Golden Coin offered.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gopo Gossum

I'm now getting very close to completing a reading collection of classic Pogo books. These are the ones that Walt Kelly himself edited, more or less, from his famous comic strip. I used to read my grandmother's (yes, my grandmother's!) collection of these avidly when I was a kid, and I'm happy to say that they hold up magnificently today. Many of these volumes contain material that never appeared in the strips, from linking illustrations to bits of poetry to various Cold War and fairytale satires. For a true Pogophile, they're must-haves.

A new series of hardback volumes that are intended to present a comprehensive collection of all Pogo comic strips is in the offing, and that's something I keenly anticipate. But that otherwise worthy goal means they won't have the charming eccentricities that Kelly put into his own compilations. Have no fear, though, the material they will contain is the stuff that made Pogo a legend in his medium.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Waiting For a Download

While I wait for a major download to finish, which will allow me to complete a professional obligation, I suppose I could write a mission statement for Bull Darts. Then again, that would just tie me down unnecessarily, since I sure as heck don't know what I'll likely be blathering about as time goes on. Nothing from nothing, as Billy Preston used to sing back in the day.

I know, I'll start with a haiku I wrote in high school:

Boiled liverwurst
Tastes terrible in sandwiches
Tastes worse with celery

Little has improved since then, as I will no doubt demonstrate, so stay tuned!