April 30, 2011

Saturday...in the park...

I think it was the thirtieth of April...

    April 29, 2011

    Who's covering whom?

    Today we look at my favorite combination cover/original versions.

    They'll play back to back the first time you listen through but not after that.

    April 28, 2011

    1937 Flood Home Movies

    Cincinnati Re-Adventure posted a YouTube home video of the 1937 flood.

    I've been dwelling on thoughts of the 1937 flood lately after hearing that we've just passed into the record books as the rainiest month in Cincinnati history. The Ohio River is close to 53 feet (it crested at fifty-six feet late last week), a foot or two above flood stage. Back in January, 1937, the Ohio River crested at nearly 80 feet.

    Eighty feet...I can't even comprehend that.

    Epic Meal Parody

    Time is tight...more content coming another day...

    Thanks, DailyWh.at

    April 26, 2011

    Frustratingly imperfect

    Here's today's challenge: win the tennis tournament without losing a point.

    Not a single point in the four matches.

    I can consistently win the tournament with any of the players, but I can't seem to make it through all four matches cleanly. I keep trying at Graf and Navratilova - Graf because her forehand is just awesome, Navratilova because she has the wheels to get to just about anything hit her way.

    My personal best is getting through the first three matches cleanly then losing two points in the final match.

    There is, of course, absolutely no way to prove that you've done it, so I'll just have to take your word for it if you make it, but let's keep it above board here, folks.

    April 25, 2011

    Streaming Beasties

    Katydid points out that the Beasties have decided to go ahead and stream the full edition of their album since the clean version got leaked over the weekend.

    Seriously? Just when I'd pretty much decided that in the name of being frugal/cheap/economical, I was gonna just borrow the cd from PLCH and grab all the tracks? They go ahead and decide to give it to me for free?

    Dangit, now I'm gonna have to buy the stupid thing just because I like their style.

    Go ahead...check the album on their website...

    Oh, and I miss the original cover for the unreleased part one...

    You can also still check a rebroadcast of the live stream from Saturday...it's kinda freaky...

    Watch live streaming video from beastieboys at livestream.com

    I'll admit that I didn't notice the gorilla suit the first time through. That's what I get for playing the stream in a hidden window once I realized what it was.

    What one little kid can teach us

    There are parts of that video that I very much enjoy.

    First off, there's Brian Wilson's beard. It's pretty awesome. I'm actually thinking about growing my beard out like that and dying it a jet black like the man does.(To see what kind of weird freak he is, go searching out his appearance on the George Lopez Show.)

    Secondly, there's the Giants' Seal or whatever. His dancing's pretty cool.

    Third, there's the...um...the...and...ur...

    The rest is pretty much atrocious.

    It's atrocious enough that I went hunting down the kid with the Giants. Apparently he's Keenan Cahill, a sixteen-year old who suffers from MPS Type VI, a rare disease. I don't know what's up with the kid. I'm sure he's had a tough life and all, but I don't care about him.

    All I know is that he's a weird looking kid who lip synchs really badly. I'm guessing that his disease might have something to do with it. Maybe that's why his head is oddly shaped and why his mouth moves so oddly (and probably why we don't actually hear him speaking.)

    Yeah, I get it: I'm mean. I'm heartless. I'm cruel.

    But, c'mon, most of us aren't interesting. Most of us don't have a hell of a lot of talent. Most of us aren't interesting.

    Most of us have absolutely no reason to be filming ourselves and posting the video on the website...NONE AT ALL.

    We're boring.

    This kid is boring. His videos are generally pretty poorly produced. There is no reason for any of us to know that he exists.

    We are all famous to a very small circle of people.

    Let's focus on those people and ignore the poorly produced, stupid videos of the world.

    April 24, 2011

    Good new...

    Good news, folks.

    The Paul Reiser Show is officially off the air.

    I watched both of the two aired episodes, and they were atrocious.

    Feel free to join my pain by watching the two episodes.

    April 23, 2011

    Well, that's disappointing...

    Looks like Princeton will be on the lookout for a new head boys basketball coach as Middletown announced that Josh Andrews will be their new coach.

    See, the thing is...

    ...I'm two days into a four-day weekend. So I don't know what I'm going to be doing tonight.

    Tomorrow, though, I'll be celebrating Easter with the fam.

      April 22, 2011

      April 21, 2011

      Geek Merit Badges

      The outstanding and Windy City-based Katydid mentioned last week that she was hanging at a Neil Gaiman reading sitting behind a couple of guys arguing about Primer. Geek heaven right there, folks.

      Her tweet naturally lead to geek merit badges.

      I swear there's a connection there somewhere.

      It was a connection made.

      Here's what I have for the initial listing of the geek merit badges, broken down by vague categories...Add your suggestions in the comments, please...

      Sci-fi/comic geek
      • Attending a comic/gaming convention *
      • Knowing the rules for a Magic-the-Gathering-style card game *
      • Having a personal Magic-the-Gathering-style card game deck
      • Cosplaying in public
      • Arguing who would win: Batman or Superman (Hulk/Thor/Wolverine acceptable Marvel substitutes)
      • Arguing which is better: Star Wars or Star Trek
      • Owning a comic published by company other than DC & Marvel *
      • Owning a comic published by company other than DC / Marvel / Dark Horse / Archie / Image *
      • Having a standing pull list at a comic book store
      • Owning an entire series run (4+ season) on DVD *
      • Owning an entire series run (2+ season) on VHS
      • Owning an entire series run (1+ season) on any format for a series not commercially available
      • Owning every book by a sci-fi/fantasy author
      • Owning a long box full of comics (must be bagged, not necessarily all boarded) *
      • Wearing a comic t-shirt ironically
      • Playing an RPG (e.g. D&D) *
      • Attending ComicCon
      • Owning a piece of original comic artwork
      Tech geek
      • Getting roped into providing IT support for family *
      • Being an official beta tester
      • Being the first adopter of a new technology (real world) among your circle of friends
      • Being the last to abandon an old technology (real world) among your circle of friends
      • Being the first adopter of a new technology (virtual world) among your circle of friends
      • Being the last to abandon an old technology (virtual world) among your circle of friends
      • Buying your first Apple product *
      • Building a case mod for a computer
      • Jailbreaking a phone/iPad/iPod
      • Buying a part from Radio Shack *
      • Reading xkcd *
      • Choosing open-source software when you can afford not to
      Music geek
      • Standing in line to buy concert tickets at least 4hours before the ticket booth opens *
      • Attending multiple days of a multi-day music festival
      • Seeing consecutive shows by an artist in different cities
      • Making a mix-tape (or modern equivalent) for someone as a romantic advance (whether overtly stated or not) *
      • Having 10,000+ songs on iTunes/Zune/etc *
      • Buying a concert shirt at the concert *
      • Seeing an artist who is now dead *
      • Buying an album on vinyl (after ~1995)
      • Taping a concert for bootlegging purposes
      • Buying a bootleg of a concert (cd / cassette / vinyl) *
      • Downloading a bootleg of a concert *
      • Owning a bootleg of a concert you attended (digital / cd / cassette / vinyl) *
      • Forming a band
      Movie geek
      • Seeing a movie at midnight on its first day of release *
      • Seeing a movie in theater before its first day of release *
      • Attending a movie premier (where actors in the movie are in attendance)
      • Dressing up in character to see a movie in the theater
      • Hosting a movie-themed dinner *
      • Attending an Oscar watching party (and actually watching the ceremony)
      • Being accepted by friends as a suitable imdb replacement when necessary
      • Buying a DVD of a movie you've never seen
      • Writing movie reviews on a regular basis (2 per month for at least a year) *
      • Watched at least 3 movies in a theater in one day (may stretch past midnight)
      • Attending ComicCon
      • Getting an actor's autograph in person
      • Getting a director's autograph in person
      • Seeing every best picture nominee for a given year before nominations are announced
      • Driving 30+ miles to see a movie in the theater
      Food geek merit badges
      • Owning an autographed cook book
      • Traveling to a city (1+ hr drive/flight) just to eat at a restaurant
      • Eating at a restaurant with a five diamonds (Mobil Travel Guide)
      • Eating at a restaurant with three stars (Michelin Guide)
      • Owning a one-use kitchen utensil / small appliance *
      • Actually reading On Food and Cooking (I haven't completed it yet.)
      • Seeing a chef/cookbook author in a non-restaurant setting *
      • Attending a cooking class
      • Eating in more than one restaurant from a single chef in a day *
      • Ordering spices
      • Subscribing to a food/cooking magazine *
      • Making all the recipes in an magazine issue/cookbook
      • Taking & posting food/restaurant photos online (in a non-vacation format) *

        Other possible categories
        • DIY/Maker geek merit badges
          • Subscribing to Maker magazine
          • Soldering
        • Business geek merit badges
          • Getting inbox to zero (more than six months after opening account)
          • Having a job where ties are dress code for men
        • Band geek merit badges
          • Attending band camp
          • Buying an instrument because of a previous owner's fame/respect/renown

          April 20, 2011

          More new Beasties

          To quote from TheDailyWh.at...
          Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”

          The visual component of the first single off the trio’s eighth effort Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is actually a five-minute snippet from their Sundance-screened short Fight For Your Right Revisited, starring everybody who’s anybody.

          Incidentally (or not), Fight For Your Right Revisited will have its television debut tonight at midnight on VH1, followed by an airing of the uncensored version on Comedy Central at 3AM (all times EST).
          Clearly, I need friends with DVR's.

          Anybody wanna step up and hit that Comedy Central time for me so I can come over this weekend and watch it?

          Today in history...

          2010 – Deepwater Horizon has a big s’susplosion

          1999 – Columbine High School massacre

          1986 – Jordan’s 63-pt playoff game
          1980 – Castro announced Cuban boatlift
          1972 – Carmen Electra born
          1939 – Billie Holiday records the first Civil Rights song "Strange Fruit".


          1937 – George Takei born
          1923 – Tito Puente born

          1916 – The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (currently Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 in 11 innings
          1912 – Opening day for Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
          1906 – San Fran firefighters stop San Fran fire (from the earthquake)
          1902 – Curie isolates radium
          1889 – Adolf Hitler born

          1871 – The Civil Rights Act of 1871 becomes law
          1862 – Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard complete the first pasteurization tests.
          1861 – Lee resigns from Union army

          April 19, 2011

          Lonnieburger Baskets: Wildflower Cafe

          Let's get back on this horse, ladies and gentleburgerfiends.

          The best burger in the town is - according to Cincinnati Magazine - the Wildflower Cafe's eponymously named Wildflower Burger with their pretzel bunned masterpiece. Here's what the Magazine had to say about the Wildflower Cafe...
          1 The World's Best Burger
          Wildflower Cafe
          > This perfect architectural specimen of exceptionally thick and juicy grass-fed beef (from 100-percent pasture-raised cows) is seasons and cooked with steakhouse skill and tucked into a glossy toasted pretzel bun that's neither too dense nor too soft and handles the meat juices without disintegrating. No tomatoes were harmed before their time - the cozy cafe follows the seasonal intentions of chef/owner Todd Hudson. It came with oily sun dried tomatoes, crackling strips of double smoked bacon, perfectly melted provolone, and a smear of mayonnaise spiked with herbs from Wildflower's garden. Holy cow! 207 E. Main St., Mason, (513) 492-7514
          Take a look at that spectacular burger that Cincinnati Magazine reviewed back a day or so ago...

          That's not actually the one the Magazine reviewed. It's the one that WineMe,DineMe reviewed before the Magazine did.

          The Magazine's burger was closer to being like this. At least that's what I'm assuming because it's the one on the cover of their burger issue of the Magazine.

          Look at that crown and pretzel bun lid, both perched ever so rakishly on top of the burger.

          It would be an absolute crime to have to eat this burger without such an outstanding bun, wouldn't it?

          Wouldn't it?

          So, The Girl and I first went to the Wildflower Cafe almost a year ago, just a week or so after the Cincinnati Magazine issue came out, and we were told that the demand for their burgers had been so drastically up since the Magazine's release that they couldn't serve us our hamburger on the pretzel bun back then. We had the burger in its bastardized fashion then and didn't feel like we should review the burger in such a bastardized fashion.

          No worries.

          I went back over Christmas Break with Calen and managed to get a pretzel-bun-topped burger but was without my camera. So The Girl and I headed to the Wildflower Cafe with a couple of friends to again try for a Wildflower Burger...with the pretzel bun of course.

          'Cause without that pretzel bun, it'd just be a crime.

          Keep that in mind as we head toward the numbers.

          • Well, dang. There may just be something to this whole grass-fed thing, because this burger is phenomenal. There's some spice in there but nothing that overpowers the strong, almost gamey beef taste of the patty. The spices are just enough to bring out the flavor. This is a phenomenally well flavored burger. The outside could be a little crisper, but that's sort of like pointing out that the Mona Lisa has a pimple, it's just picking nits. This is a brilliant burger with juicy, flavorful wonderfulness. Burger - 9 

          • I went for the cheddar cheese which you can see is nicely melted across the burger itself. The rest is topped with thinly sliced onions, herb aioli, various field greens, two slices of hearty bacon, and sun dried tomatoes. I don't groove to the sun dried tomatoes, so I would probably order the burger without them if we go again, but the aioli is to die for, rich, creamy, perfect on top of the burger. The greens are fresh and provide a nice crunch.

            But we have an issue.

            I was clearly stupid in not taking a photo with the burger once it was all together, instead taking my snapshots with the bun top sitting upside down on the plate. But we definitely have an issue.

            There's no pretzel bun

            It's been replaced with an English muffin even though the online menu still says it's on pretzel bread. The muffin is nice enough, and it's tasty and all, but it just can't stand up to the juicy goodness of the burger. Maybe if the muffin was toasted it could do a little better, but it wasn't toasted.

            When I was lucky enough to get a burger on the pretzel bun, I found myself wanting to set the bottom of the bun aside so that I would have a tasty, juice-soaked snack after eating the burger itself. Not so much with the muffin.

            We asked our waitress what had happened to the pretzel bun, and she said she knew that the chef wanted to be as local as possible (something that's all over the menu, admittedly) and that the pretzel buns were from Germany (something I'm throwing the bullpucky flag on). She also admitted that the chef/owner is the kind of artist guy who just might have changed away from the pretzel bun because everybody was talking about how much they loved the pretzel bun. He's just a weirdo artist like that.

            Either way, the change away was a mistake. Toppings - 7
          • And now to problem number two: they don't have fries. They have a house salad, potato salad, a cup of soup, and chips. The first three will cost you an extra buck. The last option comes free with the burger.

            I don't know exactly how to rate those things. They definitely aren't fries, but fries doesn't really fit into the crunch nuts and berries vibe of the Wildflower Cafe, either, so maybe that's a positive. They're all about the local, the environmentally friendly, the sustainable, so maybe it's a bonus for being consistent.

            Then again, they don't have fries.

            The Girl said she liked the fries, thought they had a nice flavor. Neither of us could tell, however, whether they were made in-house. I thought they tasted like an decently high-end kettle chip that I could buy at the store. Fries - incomplete 

          • I mentioned the crunchy-nuts-and-berries vibe of the Wildflower Cafe. It's definitely a dirty hippie kind of place (not that it's at all dirty, it's just very much on the environmental tip). The restaurant is in a converted old house without a whole lot of converting. The dining rooms are the same sizes as each of the house's original rooms, one of which has a large chalkboard with the current menu (it changes with the shift in seasonal vegetables). Upstairs is a nice bar seating area where Calen and I had that one burger with the actual pretzel bun. The whole place has a very much lived in feeling with the floorboard's paint pleasantly worn, the windows hung with a burlap curtain from what I assume is a fair trade coffee bean sack. The only serious rehabbing that was done was to the kitchen and the large freezer that you pass if you come in through the restaurant's back door. I prefer all this to the typical sports bar thing that most of the burger places have, but it can be a bit much. They aren't pushy with the hippie vibe, but there's nothing else for them to push.

            There's a small seating area around a grill out back, and I'm assuming that'll be open this summer. It wasn't open on our rainy Friday evening visit.

            The Wildflower Cafe is the kind of place that can serve you an awesome burger but also has a curry chicken salad with kiwis, crackers, blueberries, and blue cheese on the menu. They have an eclectic menu. Ambiance - 8

            Photo credits from the top...365Cincinnati.com...CeliacsInTheHouse.com...CincinnatiMagazine.com... WineMeDineMeCincinnati
          • You're paying for your environmentally friendly ways, folks. The burger is $12. They don't offer any soda products (other than bottled IBC root beer). They don't offer fries. That's a $12 burger with chips. In The Girl's words, "I don't think it's a $12 burger." Without the option of fries - something that's important to my burger experience - I'm inclined to agree.

            I'm going to have to be a little creative here. Let's assume $2 for the Diet Coke that I couldn't get. If potato salad is a $1 upcharge, the fries certainly would be, too. So, that's $15 for the mythical burger/fries/Diet Coke combo. Cost - 1 
          Other Stuff 
          • No fries. -1 
          • No pretzel bun. -1
          • Environmentally friendly place. +2
          So, where do the numbers take us? The Wildflower Cafe comes in at 25 out of a possible 40. Everything else is being scored out of 50, so I'll scale this one up to that 25/40*50 would be a 31.25.

          The problems with the Wildflower Cafe's burger experience are significant:
          • It's expensive.
          • The bun is a disappointment.
          • There are no fries.
          The strengths, however, are pretty solid, though:
          • The burger patty is outstanding.
          • The Cafe is part of a growing trend in locavore restaurants.

          I don't know that I'll be going back to the Wildflower unless they reinstate the pretzel bun (seriously, it makes a huge difference), but it's a place that I'm glad is around.

          • Terry's Turf Club - 45
          • Cafe de Wheels - 44
          • Senate - 43
          • Five Guys Burgers and Fries - 36 
          • Roxy's - 36
          • VanZandt - 34
          • Gabby's - 34 
          • Oakley Pub & Grill - 34 
          • Quatman's - 32 / 34.5
          • Troy's - 32 
          • Wildflower Cafe - 31.25 (scaled from 26/40) 
          • The Pub at Rookwood Mews - 28
          • Habits Cafe - 28
          • Graffiti Burger - 27
          • Arthur's - 26
          • Sammy's - 25
          Wildflower's burger deserves to be higher on the list. It's an outstanding experience that doesn't score well in my ranking system - primarily because of it's higher price (partially understandable because of the local sourcing and assumedly high quality of the beef) and total lack of fries (again, a product of the restaurant's style more than a knock against it).

          I would recommend the Wildflower well above the other places in its score range, but know that you're not wandering in for a typical pub/sports bar burger and fries experience.

          April 18, 2011

          I love Dennis Kucinich

          He's a weird little dwarf, but I love the man.


          This is a serious project...

          Let's meet Liz...
          Hello. My name is Liz and I know nothing about music.

          You steal my Ipod right now and you've got enough music to last you...well...let's say you could get about halfway through a flight across the country.

          67 songs.

          What's on there? Well let's see. I have five songs I downloaded from the American Idol performances. I do love me some Adam Lambert but we're hardly talking the classics yet. We've got a series of Backstreet Boys and NSync.

          Shut up. BSB is awesome.

          And despite the fact I just wowed you with my awesome taste in music, I'm here to discuss my mission. There's a book out there that I've had on my shelf for years but never really touched. It's the "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". They start with Frank Sinatra's "In The Wee Small Hours" from 1955 and go all the way up to 2007. (List is over here!)

          So here's the plan. 1001 Albums. 1001 Days. I'll listen to the whole album, start to finish, no skipping. I'll write about how I feel about the album, my thoughts about the music, my life, etc. We'll see how this goes..

          On May 6, 2012, I'll have listened to the best thousand albums in history. Hopefully by the end of all this, I'll be 26 (wow...that's weird to write), and I'll have more on my Ipod than Danny Gokey and Justin Timberlake.

          So tomorrow I listen to "In The Wee Small Hours" by Frank Sinatra (1955). See you then!
          I admire Liz's dedication and stick-to-it-iveness. She's currently 522 days into the project.

          Admittedly, her writing style isn't all that polished, but I can't imagine how hard it must be to fit in listening to and then commenting upon a full album every single day without fail.

          She makes my burger quest seems lame.

          April 17, 2011

          One hot Aussie mama...

          She dingoed m'baby...to see more of the episode, click through...

          Update: Got the embed corrected.

          April 16, 2011

          My Lou

          Skipping a Saturday was just what the weekly links needed...
          Worst of all, this is a vision that says even though America can’t afford to invest in education or clean energy; even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.”
          President Obama

          April 13, 2011

          Alternative assessment

          In education we occasionally talk about alternative ways to allow our students to prove that they understand a concept. Sure, there's the ever-familiar test/quiz/lab report method, but there has to be something different for those students who are intelligent but just march to a different drummer. Not everybody likes to explain things while sitting still in a perfectly quiet room.

          Some folks like to dance...

          I've watched this video and the other three (all after the jump), and I hate to say that I really understand the sorting methods way better for them. I may be lightly mocking here, but I think it's a frickin' genius way to explain the various types of sorting.

          Thank you to AlgoRyhtmics...

          April 12, 2011

          Today in History

          Today couldn't have gotten much more awesome...

          30 years since the first space shuttle flight...

          50 years since the first manned space flight...

          150 years since the first shots fired on Ft Sumter setting off the Civil War...

          How cool is all that?

          A little small talk

          Small talk, man.

          It's just small talk.

          It's not rocket science. It's just a way to pass the time when we see each other in the hallway, when we bump into each other at the library, when we happen to be at the same restaurant at the same time.

          The ability to make small talk is a pretty strong middle class skill. It's something that puts everybody at ease, and the lack of it makes you seem creepy. (See the cartoon up top.) If you can't make small talk, you're gonna make other people not want to be around you.

          Sure, it's great to have great friends with whom you can share the most intimate details of your life, with whom you can talk through the great problems that you're dealing with. Those people will probably be more important to you in the long run than will all the of the casual acquaintances that you'll have through work in your entire lifetime. But you'll probably spend more time with those casual acquaintances, and you might as well put them at ease while you do.

          So, let's get the basics out of the way.

          Acceptable topics for small talk with example openers:
          • weekend plans
            • What do you have planned for this weekend?
          • sporting events
            • How 'bout those Bengals?
          • pointless news/entertainment stories
            • What the heck with with Charlie Sheen?
          • television shows
            • Did you happen to catch The Office last night?
          • weather
            • Man, we need the rain, but c'mon...
          • movies
            • Have you heard if Transformers VII is any good?
          • your own tiredness
            • Dude, I am whupped. I'm totally looking forward to three o'clock.
          • family
            • What do you have planned with the kids this weekend?
          Those are generally pretty safe. You're not going to learn a whole lot about the other person, you're not going to make a deep friendship connection there, but you're going to pass the time. You're going to be acknowledged as a decent enough person. Those are the two goals of making small talk: pass the time and seem like a person who cares about other people. Notice, I didn't say you have to care; you just have to seem like you care.

          There are, of course, topics to totally avoid:
          • politics
            • So, whatta ya think about Obama's health care bill?
          • money
            • Are you doing okay since your husband lost his job?
          • the boss
            • Can you believe what we're supposed to do now?
          • controversial news
            • Do you think we should have invaded Egypt?
          • religion
            • Are you Catholic?
          • death
            • How're you taking your mom's death last week? You doing okay?
          All of those are going to give you better insight into you small talk partner - if they happen to want to discuss them, but they're far more likely to be way too familiar, way too invasive for what you're looking for.

          Of course, there's another side to the whole small talk back and forth. Even if you have the opening questions down pat, you're going to have to practice the other side - the answering and the getting out. You need to provide answers that keep the conversation going but don't really push things to go any deeper. Try to keep everything on a pretty superficial level here.

          When asked about the weather, don't come back by saying how the rain could ruin the big plans you have for today. The other person doesn't really care. Just mention that you're frustrated or happy with it and give the other person an opening to say pretty much the same thing.

          Good - "I know, it's gorgeous out. Here's to hoping it stays through the weekend."

          Bad - "Isn't it awful? I've been planning my son's briss for months, and we're counting on using the backyard for the picnic. If it keeps pouring tomorrow, I'm out a few thousand dollars in tent rentals."

          Worse - "Could be worse, my son's in Iraq dealing with the heat and improvised explosive devices."

          Horrible - "Yeah, it's nice out, but all I can think of on days like this is how my mom died on a day just like this." (By the way, the love interest in The Town dropped a line just like that. I swear.)

          See, the good one keeps things going and leaves the other person something to talk about. The bad one went to money, a topic to avoid. The worse one took thins into a far too serious place. The horrible one took a lighthearted topic and turned it into a conversation ender - death. Death - as a topic or an event - is to be avoided.

          You also need to have a few flippant, joking answers and a couple of conversational outs. Outs can be as simple as "Don't I know it. Well, I'm running late for an appointment." or "Yeah, I was wondering about that, myself. Hopefully we're not the only ones." It doesn't matter what it or that is, really. You're not presenting any honest opinion here. It's just small talk. You're just passing the time and trying not to look like some kind of weirdo.

          If things start to get a little too serious, like if the other person mentions they're frustration with something at work, give it a light-hearted "Yeah, but there's nothing to do but to keep banging away at it." or "But that's why they pay us the big bucks, right?"

          So, how's the weather with you folks?

          April 11, 2011

          Lonnieburger Baskets: Habits

          Wait, there are other people wandering the Queen City trying to find the best burgers around and blogging about their quest?

          Why, yes, there are, and it turns out that one of them works with The Girl, so this most recent Lonnieburger Baskets excursion became a double date with Ryan and Meghan.

          I warn you in advance that some of the photos from our excursion will be augmented by those taken by Meghan and posted on her above-linked blog as well as by 5chw4r7z who took this photo of Habits's extremities.

          Habits is a place that The Girl and I had been to a looong time ago, back when The Best Man lived in town the first time and was living a solid but walkable distance from Habits. That's been back before I found Princeton, so it's been at least a decade since our last visit. I remember that one fondly as we had a solid Sunday morning brunch to help The Best Man clear his head from a revelous Saturday night.

          We're a lot more adultish now, though, so we headed to Habits on a Saturday night before hitting another of our haunts from back in those days: RP McMurphy's where Waiting on Wally (we know the bass player) was playing.

          According to Cincinnati Magazine, Habits's Godzilla Burger ranks as the #22 best burger in the city. I, of course, won't be trying to take down Godzirra, but The Girl was willing to give it a try.

          Let's turn to the numbers.

          • That's my burger right there. I need to get back into the swing of taking more photos when I'm going to be reviewing a burger joint. There's supposed to be a shot of the burger patty itself so I can show you just how pink this one came out. I did, admittedly, order the thing medium, but this one was at least medium rare. It wasn't the scary pink that I'd gotten at The Pub a while back, but it was certainly on the rare side of medium. The patty had a nice flavor, a little spice, a little blackened crust from the grill, but it's nothing revelatory. Burger - 6 

          • I'm relying on Meghan's photos for this one because she took photos of the four burgers around our table, and I only got mine and The Girl's. Mine starts things off and is a standard bacon cheeseburger that I get all over the place.

            Wait, where's the bacon?

            I know I ordered bacon. C'mon, folks, if I'm ordering bacon, I'm expecting my burger to come out with bacon. Throwing two slices of bacon on a side plate and bringing it out apologetically after the fact isn't going to cut it when we're going for Best Burger in Cincinnati. That'll be a point deduction further down the line.

            Let's try this again.

          • Bacon, cheddar, tomato, lettuce, chopped onions - that's what I got. At least, that's what I eventually got on my burger. I know that I certainly didn't expect to get chopped onions on my burger, and it seems odd to me to get large chopped, raw, white onions on a burger at a burger place. The rest of the crew went with the more daring burgers: black and blue, Godzilla (hold the spicy mayo), and the White Hot Burger. Everybody enjoyed the toppings, but nobody raved about any of them. The Girl's Godzilla supposedly came with 'spicy onion straws' which suggested thin, crispy onion things, but they turned out to be undercooked but tasty onion rings. The undercooked was a problem because The Girl only likes onions if they've been cooked past recognition, almost to the brown paste stage. She wasn't happy with the toppings (ironically). Toppings - 5
          A few more photos (thanks to Meghan) of the various toppings...

          • In a nice touch, Habits offers fries a few different ways: regular, Texas, cajun, and sweet potato. The Texas, which I got, just meant salt and pepper on regular fries. The cajun got some spices, and the sweet potato were...um...made of sweet potatoes. The Texas fries weren't anything to write home about. I don't normally pepper my fries, but the pepper they used didn't do much other than put a couple of black spots on the fries. The cajun didn't, honestly, look much different either (the last photo just above shows cajun fries.) The sweet potato fries weren't dark enough and still had a chewy texture that is, admittedly, hard to get rid of in sweet potato fries. The Girl reports that they had a slight breading and didn't taste of being freshly-cut.

            The fries on our side of the table were also served just barely above room temperature. This clearly wasn't Habits's best night out. Fries - 5

          • Top photo is from Hello Cincinnati...bottom from 5chw4r7z.

            Habits is a neighborhood bar, split in half for a bar side and a restaurant side. We sat in the bar side almost all the way to the front. The restaurant side is certainly quieter and has a better view of the street with Habits's corner location and full run of windows rounding that corner. The bar side had a decent selection of televisions, something I usually loath but appreciated this night as we got to watch Butler beat Pittsburgh as dinner was winding down. I like the neighborhood bar feel of the place, but it's the same neighborhood bar feel that you can find somewhere in pretty much every neighborhood around the country. Ambiance - 7 
          • $7 for the burger and fries + $0.75 for cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato + $0.75 for bacon + $1.50 for a diet coke = $10 total...right in the sweet spot of middle ground Cost - 5
          Other stuff
          • The fries were served cold. -1 
          • The bacon was forgotten. -1 
          • They do have a full bar with an excellent beer selection at decently cheap prices. +1 
          • Most of the folks in the bar were with me in cheering Go Butler! +1
          Where does that put us for Habits? They've earned 28 points for Habits.

          I think the place is overrated at 22nd in the city, but they might've just had a bad night. Without the two screw-ups (fries, bacon), they still would only have been at 30.

          • Terry's Turf Club - 45
          • Cafe de Wheels - 44
          • Senate - 43
          • Five Guys Burgers and Fries - 36 
          • Roxy's - 36
          • VanZandt - 34
          • Gabby's - 34 
          • Oakley Pub & Grill - 34 
          • Quatman's - 32 / 34.5
          • Troy's - 32 
          • The Pub at Rookwood Mews - 28
          • Habits Cafe - 28
          • Graffiti Burger - 27
          • Arthur's - 26
          • Sammy's - 25
          That's a lot of places grouped there in the bottom, but I would say it's about right. Habits and The Pub are about equal with both being slightly better than Arthur's and Graffiti. Sammy's should be lowered some, but I'm not going back to re-review it.

          All in all, if I've made it all the way to Oakley to go to Habits, I'm crossing the street to the Oakley Pub & Grill instead - or just rolling a little further down toward the river to Terry's.

          Next up, The Girl and I head to the Wildflower Cafe in a couple of weeks.

          In doing my typical research for these posts, I came upon somebody else who's rating the best burgers in the Queen City and providing feedback for the blogosphere. Check 'em out, why doncha?

          April 8, 2011

          Your cheatin' 8tracks

          Two playlists today because the songs I had grabbed wouldn't all fit in one playlist.

          So, there's Your cheatin' 8tracks...

          ...and More from your cheatin' 8tracks...

          Big thanks to a bunch of different sources...

          April 7, 2011

          Pardon our ramblings: New Jack City (part The Last)

          In which we close out the classic...at this point, I'm fed up with this film...

          Remember, all clips are . You have been warned.

          White cop just dropped stammerer three stories or so. Stammerer didn't, of course, die and is about to gun down Ice T until White cop shoots Stammerer from above.

          Ice T smirks his approval.

          'Cause he's like dat.


          Nino did say that if Ice T's character turned out not to be genuine, he would kill G-Money.

          He did say that.

          He did warn us.


          When Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell have a confrontation like Nino and G-Money are having on the riverside, there was four seasons of weight behind it. We had been through the wars with these characters. They had held each other up and betrayed each other in equal fashion.

          When G-Money and Nino have the same conversation, there's a whole eighty-minutes of weight behind it.

          I'll shut up about The Wire now.


          Wesley Snipes kissed G-Money.

          I'm glad I don't kiss guys because clearly I would have to kill them if I did. That's what the movies have taught me.


          The shot that kills G-Money...

          Oh, spoiler alert...

          The shot that kills G-Money is the worst faked shot in the world. No recoil...no flash...no puff of smoke...no bullet wound...no recoil...no blood...just a sound effect and G-Money falling over saying 'doh'...


          Nino's still watching Scarface with the "never come between us" girl kissing around on him. Why can't he figure out that she's trouble?


          White Cop just climbed down from the roof and got the attention of the black bodyguard by saying, "Yo, Buckwheat."

          I swear I am not making that up. Apparently Mario van Peebles thinks white people are all outwardly racist because every white character (there's White Cop and...um...) is outwardly racist but inwardly down with his bruthahs.


          Ice T swung into the window of Nino's apartment carrying the body of a different bodyguard as a human shield. That's brutal, man.

          And strong...


          I want Nino's haircut - flat-top with a wide front-to-back ridge on top. It's like a stubby shark fin.


          Nino just got thrown out of the window onto the fire escape where it's dark. At least it's dark from inside the apartment. Outside, however, it's the middle of the day.


          Wise Old Black Man appears for the third time, watching Ice T beat the snot out of Nino.


          Ice T: "Man, that teacher you kill[ed]. That was my mother!"

          I told you that was going to come back.


          Ice T's about to shoot Nino. He's clearly wigged out because he's making his whole face shake. It's kind of creepy (7:03 into the above clip).


          I can't quote Ice T's line at 7:10 because this blog is linked from my school page, but it's the best line in the whole movie.


          Suddenly Nino's deposed girlfriend is on the scene saying that she'll testify. Nice timing, chicka.


          White Cop reaches past Ice T to help Ice T take back the gun that's pointed at Nino.

          White Cop is wearing bedazzled, fringed, black leather biker gloves. Clearly he and Ice T have an interesting relationship.


          Fifteen degree angles are back for the wrap-up. I'd really missed them.


          Why would Ice T show up to testify in court wearing sneakers, his Kangol hat, sunglasses, and a velour track suit?


          Nino's final soliloquy: "I'm not guilty; you're the one who's guilty: the lawmakers, the politicians, the Colombian drug lords...all you who lobby against making drugs legal....just like you did with alcohol during the prohibition. You're the one who is guilty. I mean, c'mon, let's kick [?] the ballistics here. Ain't no uzi's made in Harlem. I mean, not one of us in here owns a poppy field. This thing is bigger than Nino Brown. This is big business. This is the American way."

          I'm still not quite clear how van Peebles feels about drugs.

          Nino continues after being asked if he was the head of the CMB: "Yes. Yes, I was a member, but I was forced into this way of life. Hey look, I've been dealing drugs ever since I was twelve years old. See, I didn't have the chances that you had, Ms. Hawkins. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, Ms. Hawkins. I wanted to get out, but they threatened to kill my mother."


          Nice...Nino is claiming that smart, middle-class black guy (the computer guy, the one who recognized Ice T) was the brains behind the CMB.


          Wise Old Black Man makes his final appearance, calling Nino an idolater.

          See, he's bringing it full circle.

          ...and pulling otu a gun to shoot Nino...who then falls - theatrically - three stories while White Cop smiles and laughs and Ice T puts on his sunglasses.


          O'Jays, sing us out..."For the love of money..."

          Nevermind, it's another remix with somebody rapping about how money ruings things.


          Words on the screen to make sure Van Peebles makes his point in case you missed it...

          "Although this is a fictional story, there are Nino Browns in ever major city in America. If we don't confront the problem realistically -- without empty slogans and promises -- then drugs with continue to destroy our country.


          So, that's New Jack City. It's a spectacular time capsule of the early 1990's and an example of how to eschew all pretenses of subtlety in a movie.


          April 6, 2011

          New Beasties

          Thank you, The DailyWh.at

          Eatin' meatless on the cheap

          I've mentioned to The Girl that I would like to occasionally eat a meatless meal, something that's more environmentally friendly than partaking of the awesomness of a thick, juicy, large-carbon-footprint strip steak. She's good to me, so she tries to accommodate my meal requests in as much as she feels like it. So, Monday and Tuesday were meatless meals.

          Turns out that the economic footprint of the meals was already pretty frickin' small - about $1.50 for eight of these pupusas which made for two meals for each of us. We added a salad for a pretty healthy, cheap, meatless meal.

          The source of the recipe is from Vegetarian Times's April/May, 2011 issue. I would link to the recipe, but their website stinks like tofu-fish...

          Serves 8
          •  4 cups masa harina, such as Maseca
          • 2 tsp. ground cumin
          • 1 tsp. baking powder
          • 2 tsp. salt
          • 1/2 cup vegetarian refried black beans
          • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
          • 8 tsp. vegetable oil
          1. Combine masa harina, cumin, baking powder, and salt in bowl.
          2. Stir in 2 cups warm water, adding more, if needed, to form soft dough.
          3. Cover, and let stand 30 minutes.
          4. Line baking sheet with wax paper. Roll dough into 16 balls. Make indentations in centers; fill 8 balls with 1 Tbs. refried beans. Fill remaining 8 balls with 1 Tbs. cheese. Fold edges over fillings and roll into balls once more. Press into 4-inch disks. Place on prepared baking sheet.
          5. Heat 2 tsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 pupusas at a time to skillet; cook 5-6 minutes, turning once.
          The Girl does cotton to refried beans, so she just mashed up some black beans that she'd made earlier in the day. She also didn't do some with cheese and some with beans. They just got mixed into one filling and used in every pupusa.

          The beans, themselves, are also dirt cheap and phenomenally tasty.

          Black beans
          makes a crapload
          • ~8 cups water
          • 2 lbs black beans
          • onion, finely diced
          • 2 jalapenos
          • dried chili peppers
          • 2 tsp. salt
          1. Add all ingredients but salt to pot. Bring to boil; simmer for 1 hour. Do not stir.
          2. Add in salt; stir gently. Simmer 1 hour.
          The beans make for a great side dish (especially with a little sour cream and salsa stirred in) or as an ingredient in burritos or enchiladas or whatever.

           Neither of the photos today are mine. The first is from Fat-Free Vegan, and the second is from The Wahsingtonian.

          April 5, 2011

          Getting Airborne

          It's a fine film, I tell you...a fine film...

          And it's set in Cincinnati.

          It's Airborne.

          Feel free to click through and check out the scenes shot in Covintgton on the riverfront boats, at the Krohn Conservatory, along the streets of Mount Adams, at a restaurant in (I think) Covington, in the halls of Western Hills High School, in the Longworth Hall parking lot, under Cinergy Field, and along the river.

          April 4, 2011

          Enjoy the Symphony of Science

          Today I present you with the Symphony of Science...
          "The goal of the project is to bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the public, in a novel way, through the medium of music. Science and music are two passions of mine that I aim to combine, in a way that is intended to bring a meaningful message to listeners, while simultaneously providing an enjoyable musical experience. "
          I say that the project is successful in that goal.

          Take a listen to my favorite couple of their nine compositions - all of which are available on their website.

          The first composition, "A Glorious Dawn"...

          Their newest composition, "Ode to the Brain!"...

          April 3, 2011

          It could be worse...

          With about thirty-plus RIFs at PHS being announced over Spring Break (by phone, just to make things that much more personal doncha know)...

          With more than one hundred RIFs system-wide to be voted upon at Monday's PCSD School Board meeting...

          With pending Board-Union negotiations needing to be wrapped up hopefully by the end of the school year...

          With SB 5 having just become law on Thursday evening...

          I'm expecting the attitude at PHS to be nothing but chipper for the rest of the year.

          Could be worse, though. At least my district didn't put this video together...

          April 2, 2011

          Senate Bill 5...bad for education...bad for Ohio

          To quote a Cincinnati.com article...
          “Shouldn’t it be the employer who decides what’s safe and what’s not safe?” said state Rep. Joseph Uecker, R-Loveland, who was a police officer in the Cincinnati area for 15 years. “Don’t you think they are the ones who should decide whether they should have one or two or three people in a car? That’s what we call management rights.”
          Um, I'm thinking that it's not always the best idea to let the employer decide what's safe and what's not safe.

          One historic example...and a couple of more recent examples...

          Spring break's over already?

          Say it ain't so, Joe...say it ain't so...

          April 1, 2011

          A reminder...

          I hate April Fools Day.

          I hate practical jokes.

          We sing the songs of Amerikay

          I didn't actually include "Coming to America" (today!), but I do have eight songs about America...