Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dinner at UsAndCats Week of August 29

For those of you who have visited us, and we all know how lucky those blessed few are to enter these hallowed halls, know that Wife and I may not be anal retentive about cleaning but when it comes to planning our meals in advance we have few rivals.

In an effort to help you all drink deeply from the depths of our awesomeness, and to force us to actually eat what we plan and not just skip meals and go out to eat we're going to start posting our weekly menus along with links to the cookbooks from whence we got the recipes (Amazon should seriously pay us for the traffic). We will at the end of the week post the feedback on each recipe. That said this experiment will probably last two posts before we get sick of it. So with out further ado here's our schedule.
    29 August --We're eating out at Phoenicians of Albany. Yeah that's a heck of a way to start but for those of you in the greater Capitol District we highly recommend this place. It's my favorite Lebanese food around here. If you are going let us know though and we'll go with you and introduce you to the owner. Fantastic food.

    30 August--Chicken Parm from "Starting with Ingredients" p. 265. Accompanied with Pesto Pasta Salad from "Food Network Favorites" and Grilled Asparagus. Of Course we're having husband's family recipe of Mississippi Mud for desert.

    31 August--Pork Enchiladas in a Green Chili Sauce from "Mexican: Healthy Ways With a Favorite Cuisine" p 134. Yes our Mexican is probably better but we haven't tried this green chili sauce.

    1 September--Stir Fried Sesame Chicken & Leeks from "The Essential Wok Cookbook" p 166.

    2 September--Moorish Chicken & Nut Pie from "The New Spanish Table" p 172. This by the way is an awesome cookbook and well worth the $9 it's going for right now on Amazon.

    3 September--Grilled Cheese and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

Since you've been patient here's a classic Pinky and the Brain:

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lost in Translation

There are certain experiences in life that are common to all humanity. Perhaps the moment that's most common to us all is that moment when you suddenly realize, that your finger nails have crossed the line into weaponry. I'm not sure how this happens but it seems to me that one day my nails will be a perfectly acceptable length, the next day a TSA agent will have me forcibly subdued while another clips them off with hedge trimmers.

For readers outside the US the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is an American governmental organization created in response to the 9/11 attacks. So far as I can tell its job is to increase sales of ridiculously small hygiene products like mini toothpaste, and to see how many people they can arrest for public nudity by making them take their belts off when passing through security checkpoints. They also ridiculously make you take your shoes off every time you pass through their screening. This makes American airports the only places in the country where you officially can't be "serviced" with your shoes on, at least outside Nevada.

Besides the inevitability of gross fingernails, we all have those moments in our lives where we have out of body experiences and can see as if in hi-def slow-mo ourselves making complete idiots of ourselves. That I have more of these experiences than most, is not a surprise to any of you I'm sure.

Let me share my most recent foot-in-mouth moment with you.

Our summer vacation this year consisted of three day stay in Utah, followed by one day of travel, a week on a house boat in California, and three days in Arizona with the grandparents. Of course on none of these trips did we bring our camera, or if we did I didn't take any photos. Fortunately Coop always takes many photos so check out his favorites here.

So on to my story. The first night on vacation, our buddy Dan, aka Big Dan T, aka Hoss, aka the Prince of Darkness hosted a reunion of our old friends from the apartment complex where Wife and I met. It was a wonderful evening filled with reminiscence and renewing of old friendships. That is until the train wreck that is Me decided to open my mouth.

Now there are many professions that yield themselves to simply adding an -ing to the end of the profession to describe it. This is called in grammar inging. You think of a dancer, it would be perfectly natural to ask a dancer if they are still dancing, a painter if they are still painting, a firefighter if they're still firefighting. Some professions don't lend themselves to this. For example it would be pure madness to ask a professional cowboy if he's still cowboying, a baseballer if he's baseballing or a pimp if he's still pimping. Okay the last one works but hopefully I don't have too many conversations with pimps.

In any case you can see the dilemma I faced in regards to one of Wife's former roommates at the aforementioned event. Now if she was a doctor holding her newborn and I had asked if she was still doctoring, that would be strange. The fact that she's a nurse and I don't know when to shut up made it a comedy of errors that I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Honestly who would think I was interrogating her about her lactation practices? Oh right anyone who's spent time with me.

And yet I still tried to talk my way out of it. Until finally I gave way under the weight of my own idiocy.
Good to see old friends again though. We really should do it more than once a decade.

(If you're viewing this on Facebook or through an RSS feed, well you're missing out on the awesomeness of the photos and videos on our blog. Further, your lack of comments on our blog makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs in hopes that pain lessons the emotional trauma you've caused.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Top 12 Albums of All Time

My friend Ryan just started a music review blog. Go visit it minions, it's fantastic.

In honor of his latest post of the eleven greatest albums of all time I will now one up him and do my

Twelve Greatest Albums of all Time: IN 3D
Someone needs to do the 13 greatest now, Tyler/Chiapelli I'm looking in your general direction

These are in no particular order.

R.E.M. --Document
This was my first introduction to R.E.M. before they got strange. The impressive part of this album is its balance. The most recognizable songs are in the middle with "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and "The One I Love", but this is a well paced album that starts strong with "Finest Worksong" and ends with the very eclectic "Oddfellows Local 151". Easily their finest effort.
Best song-- Finest Worksong

Metallica--The Black Album

Yeah I know, but hear me out. While Metallica's greatest song, One, is not on this album, it is filled with fantastically solid songs. It's one of those cds where each track puts you back to the specific time and place when you first heard it. As our token "hard rock" group in this list, it's worth noting that it just barely beat out Soundgarden's "Superunknown" which is another great album.
Best song-- Wherever I may roam

The Jayhawks--Tomorrow the Green Grass
Any album that opens with the line "Where have all my friends gone, they've all disappeared" just fits the angst of teenage me. And while this may seem to be a purely nostalgia pick for that reason, this is an album filled with wonderful music that defies genre labels. It is for lack of a better description, pure Americana.
Best song-- Blue

U2--Joshua Tree
I went back and forth on this album truthfully. This is one of those albums like Dave Matthews' Under the Table and Dreaming, Bob Marley's Legend, or the Doors Greatest Hits which is unquestionably brilliant but that I can only listen to periodically. That said everyone knows it and it represents the apogee of U2's artistic production and to a large degree has defined their subsequent career.
Best song-- Bullet the Blue Sky

Bob Dylan--Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits
Yes a greatest hits album is a cop out. I know that and you know that, but Dylan is an all time great and this collection is amazing. Look at the track list if you don't believe me. Rainy Day Woman is one of the greatest pro-weed songs ever, Mr. Tambourine man should be learned by every American, and The Times They Are a Changin defined a generation. For my money I'll always take Johnny in the basement mixing up the medecine.
Best song-- Subterranean Homesick Blues

Black Crowes--Shake Your Moneymaker
Yeah I've already had one Americana style band on this list but comparing the Black Crowes to the Jayhawks is a bit like comparing Alice and Chains to Nirvana. Yeah they hit their peaks around the same time, and yeah were loosely in the same "genre" but they're worlds apart in style and content. Alice in Chains was way better than Nirvana by the way but I digress. This album does not have a bad song and has more than you'd think which are toe tappingly fantastic. I rediscovered it not too long ago and was blown away by just how good it still is.
Best song-- Jealous Again

Flogging Molly--Swagger
Now just as I have a love Americana I have a love Celtic Punk. Yes this ranks right next to French rap, and Hindi reggae in the average person's iPod playlist, but I find great satisfaction in the almost desperate optimism of these artists. Flogging Molly is the best of the lot in my humble opinion, and this album is my personal favorite (although the Real McKensies and the Dropkick Murphys are also worth a look).
Best song-- The Worst Day Since Yesterday


There are some songs that you hear and you think, yes I could seduce a woman with this song. This is one of those albums and Guitarra is one of those songs. Picture it, a coastal restaurant in Portugal. You're dressed up in the absolute finest clothing. The food is fresh from the sea. The sun is setting over the Atlantic while the moon rises on the eastern horizon. The restaurant is deserted except you and your lover and this band who plays haunting traditional music with a soprano whose vocals blend beautifully with the sound of the sea lapping against the I need to go to Portugal.
Best song-- Guitarra

Patty Griffin
--1000 Kisses
Okay this was a tough one. This is a great album, but it falls into a difficult category for me to like. That category is of course "stuff that can be played at Lilith Fair". Still, Patty Griffin is much more of an artist than many girl power acts and her musical sensibilities range from country to blues to folk. Tomorrow Night exemplifies this diversity.
Best song-- Tomorrow Night

The Shins--Oh Inverted World

What do you get when you have a band who's lyrics you can't understand but who sound like they would be wicked cool if you could? The Shins of course. I have no idea what the guy is singing. I do know that whatever it is, sounds awesome.
Best song-- Caring is Creepy

Weezer-- Weezer (Blue Album)

If the Shins are incomprehensible, Weezer is best comprehended by D&D playing, Ivy league attending, Linux loving, uber-nerds. Which might be why In the Garage, with references to 20-sided dice, is my favorite of their songs off this album.
Best song-- In the Garage

Fleet Foxes--Fleet Foxes
I had to come up with one more album to beat Ryan and so this was my throwaway. I'm not convinced in ten years which of emo-laden fat bearded artists I'll still remember. But since Fleet Foxes was the first that I really grew to love, they're the ones that make the list. Also they have some of the wildest videos. Check this one out...
Best song-- White Winter Hymnal

(If you're viewing this on Facebook or through an RSS feed, well you're missing out on the awesomeness of the photos and videos on our blog. Further, your lack of comments on our blog makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs in hopes that pain lessons the emotional one you've caused.)