Cry Me A River

November 29, 2007

I gotta say, I just read the funniest thing on some Greensboro, right-wing blogs. Evidently CNN’s broadcast of the Republican debate was a total farce, some might even say a “setup”, and now CNN should be boycotted. It was so funny, I almost did a spit-take. You know the kind when you’re drinking something and you hear or see something so funny that you literally spit your drink out with that “ppppfffffttt!” sound? Yeah, that.

I never get tired of hearing cries from the right about how the MSM (that’s the main stream media for you less informed out there) is liberally biased. According to those in the know, every major media outlet is slanted left these days. This CNN/YouTube thing is just the latest in a long line of hippy drenched, pot-smoking, birkenstock wearing propaganda all designed to make even more of us hate George W. Bush than the 73% of us that do now.

So ignore the over 250 newspapers published daily by right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the highest rated news network on the planet, Fox News, the most listened to neo-cons on talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Neil Boortz and just remember that CNN can’t ask legitimate questions about Giuliani, an adulterer that spent tax payer’s money to have his love trysts paid for, all the while overlooking the hole in the ground that used to be the World Trade Center. Cause that would be biased.

P.S. – CNN does it to the left too. So as Taylor says “Deal with it!”

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a googolplex, right? Yesterday Panic & The Iconfactory released CandyBar 3 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and it has been greeted with open arms by Mac users and icon enthusiasts alike. There’s a great deal of new stuff packed into this release, not the least of which is the blending of CandyBar 2 and Pixadex 2 into a single, unified whole. I thought an easy way to show some of these cool new features was to make a quick guided tour. Video artifacts and nervous jabber aside, I think you’ll find it helpful.

To get the complete skinny and download a free trial version, point your favorite web browser to the CandyBar Home page over at Panic.com. Then surf on over to the Iconfactory and download tons of great, free icon sets and their accompanying Leopard dock styles. Have fun and thanks for watching!

UPDATE: The guys over at MacMost have put together their own screencast of CandyBar 3 and it’s pretty nice. They show how you can manually drop in dock images instead of using just iContainers, which is something I didn’t cover in my overview. Check it out.

Regular visitors to my blog know that I occasionally dabble in submarine sandwich reviews. I’ve not reviewed a new sub place in a while, so this should serve as a stopgap until the next write-up. In all of my reviews, I use a “Yummie Scale” to rate the overall taste, appearance and value of the sub. At the bottom of this scale is Subway which rates a 1. At the opposite end of the extreme is Dibella’s Old Fashion Subs based in New York and Ohio which rates a 9. I grew addicted to Dibella’s when I went to school at R.I.T. and have never found anything that comes even close to them anywhere else. My friend Talos recently went up north for Thanksgiving and was kind enough to bring back Dibella’s subs for all of us at the Iconfactory, which gave me a chance to do this detailed guide explaining just what makes Dibella’s so good.

With my Dibella’s Godfather sub in hand (thanks to Talos), I made the rounds to some of the sub shops I frequent around Greensboro. The three that I chose were Giacomo’s Italian Market on New Garden Road, Subway (does it matter where?) and Jimmy John’s at the Quaker Village Shopping Plaza. I ordered the same basic Italian sub at each location to try and level the playing field as much as possible. The first tell-tale sign of a good sub is the cross section. Click the thumbnail image here to get a detailed look at the four subs by cross section as well as how they stack up by price.

Everyone from students to working folk appreciate the value of a buck. How that buck stretches when it comes to subs varies from place to place. This photo shows the dramatic difference of just what six bucks will get you around the Triad and how that compares to Dibella’s. If anyone knows a place in Greensboro or Winston that has 14″ subs for $7.50, please write and let me know.

The key to any good submarine sandwich is the bread. In my opinion, as your humble sub reviewer, sub rolls should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Some places like Subway have what amounts to pathetic excuses for bread and it’s important that you know the difference. The sub places around the Triad seem to all use similar bread recipes and it’s starting to tick me off. If you own a deli, for the love of the sub, look here and study well. Our stomachs will thank you later.

So there you have it. The next time I get a chance to write up a Triad Sub Review, you can refer back to this handy comparison chart to get a better sense of all those things I’ll be talking about. Of course, you may not even enjoy submarine sandwiches, in which case you probably didn’t even read this far in the first place. What do I look like a mind reader?

Australians Wake Up

November 24, 2007

From Think Progress:

“Conservative Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who has been “one of President Bush’s staunchest allies,” suffered “a humiliating defeat” in national elections Saturday when the oppositional Labor Party wrested majority control of parliament away from Howard’s coalition by a 53% to 46.7% margin. Labor Party head Kevin Rudd, who is likely to replace Howard as prime minister, “has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdraw Australia’s troops from Iraq.”

Looks like the nation Bush and company have been clinging to as an excuse for a number of failed policies is about to abandon him. It’s about frickin’ time. Well done Australia, well done.

Giving Thanks

November 21, 2007

As families across this nation sit down with each other and give thanks for all they have, it seemed like a good time to put together a little list of some of the things I’ll be giving a nod to the big guy upstairs for. Maybe this will catch on. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I’m thankful for…

• my loving wife, my wonderful home and my crazy, adorable animals.

• the most kick-ass parents a guy could ever have.

• the return of Futurama on DVD.

• the small amount of rain we’ve gotten in the Triad these last few months.

• my health.

• the people who invented TiVo.

• all the wonderful people I hear from every day on Twitter.

• the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

• the talented, creative people I work with.

and

• the brave men and women fighting abroad this holiday season.

After having forced my wife to watch Spiderman 3 tonight, I was painfully reminded of why I didn’t really like this flick in the first place. Evidently, over the last 6 months my brain must have taken a vacation. I remember standing in Best Buy when the DVD hit the shelves and saying to myself “It wasn’t that bad, was it?” As it turns out, yeah it was.

I figured it might be a good idea for other geeks not to force their wifes to watch it either, so I’ve gone and put together a list of just some of the things Sam Raimi must have been telling himself as he made this disastrous third installment. It’s the only possible explanation. Oh yeah, this list contains spoilers, as if that matters.

• Spider sense is great for avoiding goblin gliders in the first movie, but not in the third. It evidently also doesn’t help to warn you that meteorites have struck nearby or that alien symbiotes are about to crawl all over you.

• When you are a man made of sand, it’s helpful that you can find a large truck with the words “Sand” on the side to hide in. Must be all that Manhattan beach erosion we keep hearing about.

• Police chiefs apparently keep detailed records of every single car jacking that happens in the New York City metro area. They also tend to hold that information secret until a seemingly crucial moment in the life of no-named student/freelance photographers.

• If you are planning on proposing to the woman you love, make sure the beautiful lab partner you kissed as Spiderman earlier in the day, just happens to dine at the restaurant you are proposing in.

• If you’re a struggling actress down on her luck, who’s being blackmailed into breaking up with the love of her life, what ever you do, don’t whisper to him “It’s a trap, Peter!”. Oh, and remember not to tell him why you broke his heart later on.

• Goblin grenades are powerful enough to completely vaporize Venom and turn large chunks of the Sandman’s arm to glass, but not deadly enough to kill Harry at point blank range.

• Forget a career playing virtuoso jazz piano! Who needs that when you can scrape and scrounge getting paid $50 a pop for pictures of Spiderman?

• When weening yourself of a violent alien symbiote, be sure to find the one church in all of New York City with the guy who absolutely hates your guts waiting in the wings.

• Butlers who clean the wounds of dead people tend to reveal crucial plot information months after they first discover it, and just at the proper moment.

• Lastly, whenever you introduce a story line about a poor, sick daughter, what ever you do, don’t follow it up or offer closure. Just remember that resolution is highly overrated.

Of course, this has all been said before by people brighter than me. I just wonder if I can get my money back from Best Buy…

Let’s Talk Turkey

November 17, 2007

When I think of my brief, yet humble career as an amateur chef, I divide my life into two parts: BB and AB. That is to say my life ‘Before Brining’ and my life ‘After Brining’. What is brining? To put it quite simply, brining it is a cheap, and relatively easy technique to help ensure that your Thanksgiving turkey turns out as delicious and juicy as it possibly can. It is essentially a marinade that delivers both flavor to the meat and helps lock in juices when the turkey is exposed to the high temperatures of cooking. I first learned the tip from Alton Brown and his awesome cooking show, Good Eats and have been using it every year since without fail. No matter if you plan to roast, fry or spin your turkey on a giant rotisserie, brining your bird is the first step on the road to culinary fullfillment.

There are many ways to accomplish the brining, but I’ve stuck with Alton’s method and recipe. You’ve heard of the expression “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Yeah, well that applies here so I’m going to give you the low down on just how I go about working the turkey magic.

The easiest container I’ve found to brine in is one of those big 5 gallon paint buckets from Home Depot. Go pick up a brand new one, and then give it a good hand washing before you get ready to brine. For a 14-16 pound bird you’ll want to brine for a good 12-24 hours, so plan ahead. Rinse the turkey completely inside and out and remove any packets of giblets and the neck that may be hiding in the body cavity. I almost forgot to to this one year believe it or not, so it’s always best to double check.

Turkey Brine Recipie:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring it to a boil. Stir to dissolve all the solids and then remove from the heat. Cool the mixture to room temp. and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. The chilling part is important since you don’t want your turkey to go into a hot or even warm solution (can you say bacteria people?). Early on the day of cooking, (or better on the night before) combine the brine and ice water in your clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area like a basement or a garage. Turn the turkey over once half way through.

When it’s time to cook, remove the bird from the brine and rinse thoroughly. You may see that the color of the skin and meat has darkened slightly, that is a good thing. It just means that the brine did its work and the flavorings have penetrated into the turkey. A few minutes before roasting, heat your oven to 500 degrees. I use Alton’s method of filling the turkey’s cavity with fresh aromatics instead of bread stuffing. Stuffing dries out the meat and prolongs cooking time and I’ve found it’s best to avoid it.

Turkey Aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Place your bird on roasting rack inside a wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to the cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing the temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 min. before carving.

Trust me when I say that you will never have un-brined turkey ever again. I’ve heard people say that frying your turkey is the only way to lock in juices and ensure your bird doesn’t get dried out. To those people I say “Ha!” you don’t know jack. A brined and roasted bird is just as flavorful and juicy as any fried turkey could ever hope to be. Give it a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.