Friday Music

A bit late in the day, but I figured I’d mark a week of regular blog updates with a Friday Music entry. Didn’t post earlier because I had a lunch appointment downtown (much discussion of creative endeavors — podcasts, webseries, etc. — but more on that as it develops), so the theme of today’s entry is the music that came up on my iPod as I walked there and back:

First up, the lead single from the Beastie Boys’ new album, Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2. I love this — they’re back after Adam Yauch’s successful fight against Cancer, and jump right back in with some serious booty-shakin’ old-school NYC hip-hop: The Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise.”

Trip-tastic sub-Zeppelin cosmic rock from an almost-was of the 1980s: Zebra – “Who’s Behind The Door.”

As I listened to this one, I thought Dotta Numba Two would really like this — not just to listen, but maybe to perform, as it sits pretty well within both her vocal range and her post-punk style: The Primitives – “Crash.”

My all-time favorite track from the former lead singer of Roxy Music, often overlooked in favor of his sappier ballads like “Slave to Love.” Bryan Ferry – “Sensation.”

You know when you’re walking, and you start to unconsciously match your stride to the beat? This song is a bit difficult for someone my size to walk to — I found myself almost breaking into a jog. :) Prince – “Delirious.”

The ballad “single” from the fake 80s metal band that featured in Mark Wahlberg’s film “Rock Star” — Steel Dragon – “We All Die Young.”

Still remains the best thing that Latifah ever did — and features the absolutely amazing Monie Love, who I wanted to hear much, much more from. Queen Latifah – “Ladies’ First (feat. Monie Love).”

So there you go. Enjoy!

This Week’s Cooking Triumphs

So yeah, bloggery-cliché time again — the dreaded recipe post.

Hit the ball out the park twice this week, culinarily speaking. A few people saw my various Twitter mentions and asked for recipes, so here goes.

First, earlier this week, I tried my hand at making a White Castle -style burger at home. The results were pretty friggin’ good:

Beige Fortress Burgers

The ingredients:

  • 1/2 or so of cup dried onion flakes
  • 2 pounds ground chuck- (80/20)
  • teaspoon-ish of seasoned salt
  • 6 slices cheddar cheese
  • 24 small party rolls – Sarah Lee or other
  • 24 dill pickle slices

Take a 9 x 13 baking dish, and coat the bottom with dried onion flakes. Carefully spread the ground chuck over top, and then sprinkle the top of the meat with season salt.
Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Take it out of the oven, and using paper towels, de-grease the top of the meat. Then, cover the meat with 6 slices of cheddar cheese. Put it back in the oven for 2 minutes.

Slice the party rolls into tops and bottoms. Cut the meat into 24 tiny squares (6 across, 4 down). Using a spatula, lift the squares (along with the onion layer at the bottom, which has been rehydrated by meat juice — and fat, to be honest –) and place onto each bun. Top with a single dill pickle slice, and the upper bun. Serve with condiments of your choice. The taste on these is spot-on (the onions do the job), yet richer and meatier than the usual WC slider. Good stuff.

Then yesterday, I tried my hand at Tacos Al Pastor — not the easiest thing in the world, since I have no vertical rotisserie. But it totally worked.

Tacos Al Pastor

The ingredients:

4lb Pork Butt


  • 3 ancho chiles
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 Chipotle chile (in adobo sauce)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs adobo sauce
  • 1 Tbs vinegar
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Take the pork, fat side up, and cut it so that it’s like a book — 3/4″ thick slices as “pages” going to a “spine” along the left side, with the fat as the front cover.

Then, put a pot of water on the boil — add the anchos and bay leaf, boil for a few minutes and then take off the heat and let the chiles re-hydrate. Remove the stems and seeds, and put the chiles (not the bay leaf or water) in a food processor along with all of the other marinade ingredients and puree.

Note — you need fresh pineapple for this. Fresh pineapple has an enzyme which breaks down proteins. This enzyme is largely killed in the canning process.

Slather the marinade all over the pork, getting in between every “page” that you’ve cut, as well as all over the outsides. Place the pork in the fridge for no more than a hour (otherwise the pineapple will turn this into meat goo). If you have only canned pineapple, you can marinade overnight as an approximation.

Drop the pork into a roasting pan, with a bit of water at the bottom (to prevent the drippings from smoking too much). Crank your oven up to 450 and cook for 30 minutes.

Take the pork out of the oven (be sure to burn your hand, like I did, at this point) and lay fresh pineapple slices over the top of the meat (baked-ham style), here or there in the pages, etc. Lower the oven to 300 degrees, put the now-pineapple-y pork back in, and cook for at least 3 hours.

When done, rip that pork into chunks, along with chunks of the carmelized pineapple. Serve on CORN tortillas (not flour), with diced onion, cilantro, salsa verde and lime wedges for squeezing. (Laura and Maggie also busted out the sour cream, but I was a purist) NOM (as the kids say) NOM de friggin’ NOM.

Sorry — no pics this time around. I was too busy stuffing my face. I guess I lose foodie points for that.

What about you guys? What are some of your favorite recipes?

Dear Star Wars: It’s Not You, It’s Me.

Dear Star Wars;

“May the 4th Be With You” — my various social media feeds today are filled with my fellow geeks marking the occasion of “Star Wars Day,” and so I find you in my thoughts again.

It’s not a new feeling, of course. Upon our first meeting — the occasion of my eighth birthday in June of 1977 — the course of my life was irrevocably altered. For the next 6 years, you filled my every waking moment, and a fair few of my dreams as well. My imagination was filled with thoughts of a Galaxy Far, Far Away. You shaped my tastes, and even what I wanted to do with my life. I’m not alone in this, of course — my whole generation was deeply affected.

Through my adolescence, my college years — we never entirely drifted apart. Even as my attentions were drawn to other things — other geek interests or the concerns of an adult life — you were never really far from heart. There were always new ways for us to connect: the RPG from West End Games, the Thrawn trilogy, the NPR radio show, etc.

The relationship, however, soured in the late 1990s. The story is well-known at this point — it’s been echoed by others in my generation many, many times, to the point where it’s bordering on cliché: It starts with Shadows of the Empire — new Star Wars material, inserted into the narrative of the original trilogy. Originally, I was excited by this possibility. Unfortunately, it was disappointing.

This was followed by the Special Edition releases. Initially, I was thrilled by this prospect as well, and, to be honest, the memory of taking my eight-year-old daughter to the re-release of Star Wars (repeating the trip made by my father and I) is wonderful. But the experience was tempered by the changes that George Lucas had made to what many (myself included) had considered an inviolate part of the fabric of their childhood. Honestly, I hadn’t considered that, going in, but it ended up bothering me far more than I ever expected.

The final break-up, of course, came with the release of the prequel trilogy — another set of disappointments so constantly repeated at this point that I won’t bother enumerating them here. A generation came to the position that Star Wars had become a marketing machine devoid of any soul — a tool for Lucas to sell another generation of kids a never-ending stream of product — which, of course, made us also question whether or not that was true of our Star Wars as well. Whether we were dupes because the Star Wars that existed in our imaginations was deeper and richer than Lucas’ own ideas.

I have a confession, Star Wars.

It’s not you, it’s me. (Or us, collectively — the Star Wars generation.)

Your effect was undeniable. But my disappointment? I think it’s a textbook case of transference. I think I’m really disappointed in myself, and my generation in general.

You’d think that a generation that was literally shaped by the release of Star Wars would’ve been inspired… to do more than just consume more of it. Where is our Star Wars? With as many creative professionals that were given their initial impetus from the original films (myself included), you’d think that somebody would’ve made an effort to create a successor… but instead we’ve been seemingly content to sit back and consume more of the previous generations’ work, long into our own adulthood.

My disappointment in the the later efforts is my disappointment in myself. Disappointment that I never did what I swore to myself I would do, sitting in that theatre as an 8-year-old. Overwhelmed by the spectacle on the screen, I told myself “I’m going to do THAT.”

…and I haven’t.