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Sunday, November 28, 2004  

Just when I was feeling beat-down and drained by the daily grind, along comes the sweetest of confections for the working stiff: the 4-day weekend. I made the decision to use the time to fully re-charge my batteries, and shrugged off all invitations to Thanksgiving meals, opting instead to cook a simple meal with julie for the two of us and my mom. The best laid plans...

I'm sure I don't have to tell most of you that Thanksgiving (or Turkey Day as I prefer to call it) is my very favorite of holidays. What can I say, I'm a glutton. And to a glutton, a day spend celebrating FOOD is a magical time. I don't exaggerate when I say that I spend the week leading up to Tday in training for the meal. I was excited to cook the meal, and having only 3 mouths at the table took away a lot of the stress that normally comes with helming the most celebrated meal of the year. The challenge, as I saw it, was to respect the traditional elements of the holiday feast, but put enough of a new spin on things to make the meal stand-out. With that in mind I poured over cookbooks and recipe sites, arming myself, not with recipes for the meal, but with ideas and techniques for the cooking. Julie stepped-up with a pair of 5-star pumpkin pies and quickly took charge of the potatoes and green beans. The final menu was a citrus and cilantro roasted Turkey (12Lbs), roasted garlic mashed potatoes, Italian sausage and wild-rice stuffing, green beans with shallots and mushrooms, and a gravy/jus from red wine and homemade turkey stock (and, or course, the aforementioned stellar pies w/ fresh whipped cream)

The meal ended up being one of those creations where everything goes right. Even our accidents turned out to be happy; in the chaos of the final moments before sitting down, we left the green-beans on the fire a little too long and JUST saved them from burning. But the extra time on the fire caramelized the shallots and reduced the wine to a syrupy glaze which the mushrooms the soaked up. The resulting dish was easily the best green beans I've had since my Grandemere passed away (taking so many culinary secretes from this world.)

I've been subsisting on a steady diet of turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie for the past 3 days and it is fucking great! I'll return to work tomorrow rested and re-centered, with a turkey-fueled energy reserve that will last me until the new year!

posted by JMV | 11/28/2004 02:11:00 PM

Thursday, November 18, 2004  

OK Then
So I guess most people don't care as much about PVR Politics as I do...
This Saturday is the wedding of two great friends, Andrew and Jodi, and Jules and I will be driving up to the (other) Valley at the crack of dawn tomorrow. It has been entirely too long since we have traveled to Julie's childhood homeland adn I've very excited to see all the friends and family that we abandoned when we left for LA. I'm also looking forward to getting to spend 6 uninterrupted hours in the car w/ my wife (with whom I haven't spent a whole lot of time with thanks to conflicting work schedules.) Nothing like a roadtrip to wash the grit from the daily grind out of your brain. Tomorrow will also mark the day that we get to (FINALLY) meet Colin! Unfortunately he is still a little young for "Uncle John" to bring him fireworks or other contraband, but I'll make up for it by telling him salacious stories about how his parents met.

posted by JMV | 11/18/2004 10:52:00 AM

Wednesday, November 17, 2004  

Quit Yelling "Fire!"
If you are 1/2 as tech-geeky as I am then you have no-doubt heard the news that TiVo will soon run banner-ads when you fast-forward through shows on your DVR. Predictably there has been a huge uproar (also see here on the 'net. To these people I say "Chill." It is naive to think that TiVo (as a company) would be abel to stand against the combined might of the Studios, the Broadcasters, the government, and the dominant paradigm without adapting TiVo (the hardware) to fit into a hostile marketplace. The traditional model of television advertising has been around for a LONG time and if the entertainment industry is anything it is resistant to change. Unfortunately, TiVo represents a threat to this model and from day one it has been a target of industry pressure and litigation. The new advertising concept is actually a hell of a lot better than the old model, and if we have to be saddled with advertisements on out TV then I wuld MUCH rather have TiVo's version than the Network's.

And Advertisements are not all-bad. Firstly we wouldn't HAVE the content that we all love to suck from the glass-teat with out the ad-time. Television exists for 2 reasons: to sell ad-time to toothpaste makers, and to pacify/control the world populace (but that is another post.) Plus, I'm a good little consumer and with-out ads I wouldn't know what the fuck to BUY! And then where would I be? Now if TiVo can use the copious amounts of data that it has collected about me to deliver ads for stuff that I actually might CARE about then I'm all for it. Especially if it will keep TiVo afloat and supporting my box.

I love, love, love TiVo. It is a really elegant solution to a nasty problem and I prefer it to all the alternatives (TelCo branded boxes, Microsoft's Mediacenter PC, or god forbid regular TV.) I happily shell-out the $13/month for the "bloop-bloops" and the "fire and forget" nature of the technology. I WANT the company to succeed where others (ReplayTV) have failed, and I would MUCH rather see TiVo implement a creative advertising solution than up my monthly fees by a couple of hundred percent. Instead of the torch-burning attitude that a lot of people have towards this announcement, I'm taking a "wait and see" position. At least TiVo is continuing to innovate and try and stay one-step ahead in its cut-throat industry. If you really want to get worked up about SOMETHING today, I suggest the the news about the Senate bill that would, among other things, make it illegal to allow fast-forward though pre-menu trailers and ads on DVDs.

posted by JMV | 11/17/2004 01:36:00 PM

Thursday, November 11, 2004  

Some Scary Shit
Scrapped of /. is a Story by the wife of an Electronics Arts software engineer. She lays bare the abhorrent working conditions that the Video game giant levels on its employees, included 85+ hour work weeks with-out the legally mandated compensation in the form on comp-time or OT pay. Stories like this make me sick. The video game industry is one of the biggest money-makers in the world, and, like all other aspects of the entertainment industry, has built its moguls bank-rolls on the broken backs of its workers. Why the fuck is it OK for these modern-day robber barons to regularly rape its workers to fill the company coffers? Why is the entertainment industry as a whole so notorious for exploitative working practices?

UPDATE: Looks like that post stirred up quite the nest of litigious hornets as a class action suite has been filed.

posted by JMV | 11/11/2004 04:48:00 PM

Monday, November 08, 2004  

El Conejo!

Good Eats in the OC
Located just off the freeway, nestled in an unassuming strip-mall behind a flower shop, stands one of my all-time favorite restaurants: El Conejo. This little dive-Mexican joint has been family owned and operated for 25 years, and has spawned several other locations through south Orange County. The atmosphere is all dark-wood and kitschy Mexican folk-art over-laid with beer posters and crape-paper streamers, all of it covered in a fine patina of age and grease. The menu hasn't changed in the 12-odd years I've been eating there and you can still get a pair of cheese enchiladas with rice and beans for under five bucks. Their burritos are the size of small pillows, and when served wet are unforgettable.

Throughout high school, Conejo was the place to meet up w/ friends before an afternoon spent gaming in the garage, or the place to eat for CHEEP after a movie, or the place to eat when you didn't know what to eat. And when I abandoned the OC for dorm-life El Conejo was one of the things about home that I missed the most. Thankfully Tacqueria Vallarta filled that void (I might mention that that post is one of my all-time favorite posts here at OH.)

I estimate that I've eaten some 37 metric tons of enchiladas over the 4.2 billion times that I've dinned within the adobe walls, and on Saturday I got the chance to eat dinner their for the first time in well over a year. It was a perfect meal shared with some of my best friends, and there are few things in the world that make me more happy than being in a car full of friends driving northbound on Walnut with a belly-full of Conejo's authentic Mexican grub.

If there was a Mexican joint HALF as good as El Conejo in my current neighborhood, then I would surely die an early death and require an XXXL coffin.

posted by JMV | 11/08/2004 05:45:00 PM

Friday, November 05, 2004  

Fan, Meet Shit
News is beginning to break that "coalition" forces are poised to begin the assault on the "insurgent" held stronghold of Fallujah. We all knew that the battle was inevitable if bush was elected, and now it looks to be happening sooner rather than later. I don't think that I'm going out on a limb when I say this will be the bloodiest battle yet seen in the Iraq war, and it wouldn't surprise me if the carnage reached Vietnam-era proportions. My thoughts and best wishes go out to the men and women who will risk all in service to their country, and even though I don't support the war or the administration I whole-heartedly support our troops over seas. They are willing to do the job that so few of us are, and I commend that.

posted by JMV | 11/05/2004 06:42:00 PM

Thursday, November 04, 2004  

This is a test...

posted by JMV | 11/04/2004 11:27:00 AM

Wednesday, November 03, 2004  

Fell On Black Days
It's over. We lost. Life moves on.
Or should it? If the tables were turned would those who cast their vote for RED just lie down and take it for 4-more-years? I firmly believe that the Democrats lost because they are incapable of mounting an effective campaign in the modern political environment. Things have fucking CHANGED since Clinton beat out Dole in '96 and unless the Asses adapt to this new climate then we (not to mention our civil liberties and constitution) will be left under the boot-heels of the Christian Right.
We've given the powers-that-be 4-more-years worth of rope, and now it is our DUTY to make sure they tie the knot and hang.

posted by JMV | 11/03/2004 03:46:00 PM

Tuesday, November 02, 2004  

Phil Drinkin'

Originally uploaded by OctopusHat.

I get to test-out the post-to-blog function of Flickr AND get to show off my bad-ass costume from Saturday night. You see, I went as Phil Collins from "No Jacket Required." It turned out REALLY great, and was a huge hit with everybody who wasn't extremely freaked out by it! Check out more pics from Halloween on my new Flickr account.

posted by JMV | 11/02/2004 01:20:00 AM
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