Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Smells worse than a wet wookie – spoiler alert

Just got back from The Force Awakens. We’d waited a bit to see the movie since we don’t like crowds. Alas, that didn’t help in this instance, the theatre was near full on a Monday afternoon (a US holiday).   I do wish I had waited longer. It stunk like a dianoga. Spoilers are below. Yes, many of these criticisms have been mentioned before by others. They bear repeating since people keep saying that this is a good movie and it is not, by any stretch of the imagination.

It was pretty as a movie, and the actors did a mostly decent job. But I should have known, that like anything else J.J. Abrams has done, it’s tediously derivative and goes nowhere. I shouldn’t be looking at my watch during a Star Wars movie.

The movie watches like the writers, J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan just took the script of the first movie and sat around “oooh, we’ll add this twist and this pointless laugh line”.   Kasdan did finish the existing script for Empire Strikes Back and wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, so I’m guessing he was brought in as a name and little else. Considering he wrote Return of the Jedi, one can guess he has no more ideas than having ONE MORE spherical planet destroyer that one can destroy by accessing mysteriously accessible uber important parts. This is incompetent screenwriting write large.

We also have the most whiny and pointless family in the galaxy, the Skywalkers, at least the males. Whiny Anakin who pouts his way through the “prequels”, Luke who almost got it right, and then runs away to pout, and then Kylo Ren, the most pouty of all. If you are going to have a kid kill his father, you need some pretty good backstory, not just a spotty-faced brat. One also has to wonder why Han and Leia let their murderous little boy still exist. “light in him” or not, he’s a killer. If I were Rey, I’d hand over that light saber and say “Good, found you. Now, don’t leave here ever. Because you and your family have caused untold misery in the universe.”

Then we get Finn. The actor is good, what he has to say, isn’t. The character is a Stormtrooper trained from birth to be a killer who also was a janitor on the Not Death Star.   Finn seems to be there to be the funny black guy (amazing that he wasn’t killed per the trope). He does take on Kilo Ren in a light sabre duel, a guy who has no training in hand to hand combat at all, and not attuned to the Force. Which makes Finn the luckiest bastard ever or Kilo Ren completely incompetent (which he is, no doubt).  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Smells worse than a wet wookie – spoiler alert”

What the Boss Likes – Update, GenCon 2

Well, we’re home from GenCon. A very nice vacation and I’m exhausted.   Here are some more photos of what we saw and did out in Indianapolis. If anyone sees a photo that they would like a copy of, I do still have the original digital files. I’ll probably keep those around for a few weeks. The following are my cleaned up versions of what I took. (part one of this series can be found here)

More photos from the zoo

 

Continue reading “What the Boss Likes – Update, GenCon 2”

From the Bar – three more wines and a cocktail of our own

Just having returned from visiting my folks, I have more wines and drinks to review.  My folks are very nice folks, ordinary but nicer than most. And I find going to visit them ridiculously stressful.

So, on to the new wines.  My folks live in very very rural Pennsylvania.  We were going to take a growler from Otto’s (their Ottonator is excellent), but it would have been a little pricy. So we waited until we got closer to home and grabbed a couple of random bottles from the local state store.

Deadbolt red blend – This got picked up because of a cool font on the bottle.   I’ve seen that another reviewer compared it to Apothic Red and it is very similar, so  Lorie nails the review in my opinion.  I do love my Califorina red blends.

Snoqualmie Riesling – A sweet Riesling and yep, it’s very much like pears drenched in honey.  Most excellent and I think would be great blended with a drier sparkling wine.   It’d also make a great base for a white sangria.

Be Flirty Pink Moscato – this was drunk the day before we went up to visit.  And we drank it with “pigs in a blanket”, hot dogs with cheese slices wrapped in refrigerated crescent roll dough and baked.  Yep, pretty much the comfort food of the poor at one time or other in the US.  Being a moscato, it was sweet but not as much as you’d think. Very much for a very déclassé, but tasty dinner.

Pink Mist
Pink Mist

And a cocktail!  My husband came up with the name “Pink Mist” for this since in much of science fiction, people are being threatened to be turned into a pink mist. (blasters, hard vac, etc tend to do this in SF, though not quite in reality).

1 oz Lunazul tequila reposado (our favorite tequila by far! Amazing quality for the price.)

2 oz. guanabana (soursop) nectar (we can usually only get Goya)

¼ tsp grenadine (Rose’s. the fake stuff but the real stuff should work well)

1/8 tsp lime juice (reconstituted but likely much better fresh)

Shake the above with ice in a shaker.  Pour into favored glass. Top off with bitter lemon soda (Schweppes brand. this is a lemon soda with quinine as a bittering agent).

Be back soon with more posts about atheism and theism. The usual Billy Graham column and our very own TrueChristian, KD, have provided most excellent source material recently.  In case you haven’t seen it, please do chime in on this post to tell me why one theist’s claim of intervention by their god should be taking as more valid than another’s. Or why it shouldn’t.

Drink well!

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When it’s right to stand up, even if no one stood up before

wecandoitThere is much ado in the media and the interwebs lately about saying “This goes no further.”  where one challenges the status quo and demands a change and where one gets resistance by those who say “there’s no real problem”.

I’m involved, tangentially or directly, in several aspects of this declaration that essentially says “no matter if there was supposedly “no problem” before, there is the recognition of a problem now”.  I’m an atheist (no kidding, eh?), I’m loud about equal rights for everyone, I’m a woman, I’m a gamer and I’m a costumer.   That combination will get anyone into trouble with those who want to claim special privileges for themselves, that they have a “right” to harm/control others.   What’s sad is that some of the folks who were different, who were bullied in school, who never fit in, haven’t realized that they shouldn’t do such things to others.   Many humans act like the worst theists, always declaring what is “pure” and “right”, abusing power and generally acting like jerks.

I’ve done costumes for science fiction conventions before and am looking forward to doing it again which brings this topic up to the forefront of my thoughts and now to my blog.  I won’t call myself a cosplayer because that has the connotation to me of someone who is *vastly* more devoted to the art than I am.

ororoBeing middle aged, a bit softer than I’d like to be, etc, there are some costumes I’d never consider.  I’d love to do Storm from the X=Men in her Mohawk phase, or Wonder Woman in tribute to the awesome Lynda Carter.  That ain’t going to happen, because I’m too self-conscious (Inara from Firefly is something I’d be happy doing).  But other people have no problem with that and they should be able to dress as whom (or what) they please (same as someone should have no problem with dressing up as a character and *not* knowing the entire history of the character verbatim. If they do, great, if not, so the* fuck* what?).  I do occasionally feel sympathy for people who don’t quite hit the mark and who might get ridiculed, sympathy most likely misplaced and unwanted.  The fear of being made fun of is still my one big issue left over from being a nerdy girl and I get really uncomfortable when I think of someone else suffering that. But if they are happy, then that’s what is important.

Thank you, John Z.
Thank you, John Z.

This also applies to women and men who want to wear sexy costumes, or dress sexy.  If they want to show skin and feel comfortable doing it, good for them.  Some folks get plastic surgery done to make themselves feel better.  Bigger breasts: if you like it, then go for it (and guys, they usually aren’t enlarged *for* you, so you don’t own them). I went the opposite direction, smaller breasts made me like myself better (and in my experience, big natural breasts *hurt*).  If they like the attention, that is their prerogative. It is also their prerogative to reject attention if they wish.  They are doing this to have fun, it is no one’s “right” to take that fun away from them by assuming that they want to be touched, hit on, treated as a thing, etc.   That is selfish, stupid harassment, and makes the aggressor seems like a twit with no self-control.   This also applies to gaming, where some idiot thinks that since it’s “just imaginary” this allows for any they want to do.  No, it doesn’t.  It’s a shared world and it’s not just your little playpen (again also why I counter theocratic nonsense, keep your god fantasies in your head, not on my body).  That I’m playing a female character does not mean that this character is yours in anyway.   I experienced pure sexist stupidity in my very first D&D game, let’s strip the female thief to see if she’s stealing from the party.  Yes, it was from a guy, but another guy stepped in.  Guess which one happens to have become my best friend and one true love?  And he’s the reason that I still play, not repulsed off by the twits, since no, they aren’t all “like” that.

Nonsense should not be permitted to go any further, no matter the source.    Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When it’s right to stand up, even if no one stood up before”

From the Kitchen and bar plus a movie – Schnitzel with panko is like jaegers with kaiju… trust me on this one

cat no cure for case of stupidThe movie for this week is Sharknado!  No, no, I can’t even joke about that.  What a purely stupid movie (yes, we watched about 15 minutes of it).  Ah, if someone would have told my teen-age self that there will be a channel called the Science Fiction Channel and that I would hate it with a passion, I would never have believed them.  The Syphy Channel is just that, a diseased thing, a graveyard of washed up 80’s pop stars who have not aged gracefully.

Okay, after this there will be spoilers. So consider yourself warned!

What we saw was “Pacific Rim”(IMDB about it) and it was AWESOME!  Kaiju, giant mechs (they’re called jaegers but I grew up with calling all giant robots “mechs”), what else could a smart savvy nerdy girl want?  And a strong female character who wasn’t a love interest.  Hurrah for Mako!  I have to say, it takes a moron to give a movie like this a single star just because it wasn’t Shakespeare or some gawdawful “meaningful” chick flick.  It’s a freakin’ monster movie that has appealing characters, no slow spots and delivers *exactly* what it is supposed to. So, screw the supposed “reviewers”.  Go see it, it’s FUN!  I spent many a Sunday morning watching kaiju movies on the local TV station.  It was always a lot of whining when I wanted to stay and watch Godzilla or Gamera and my parents thought I should go to church. (hmmm, Word recognizes Godzilla but not Gamera   🙂   )   Added:  Incidentally, this movie is LOUD.  I’m a bit deaf in both ears from old ear infections and I still stuffed tissue in my ears to reduce the noise to bearable levels.

Ron Perlman has a great bit part and I sniffled through the very well done and still manly 🙂   goodbye scenes.  They did a fabulous job at making the jaegers and kaiju seem huge and heavy.  I did love how they did not make them fly but had to have heavy lift copters lift and fly them to the battle.  The movie even treated scientists well.  The fish flopping scene at the end is one of those good “wait for it….wait for it” scenes. Continue reading “From the Kitchen and bar plus a movie – Schnitzel with panko is like jaegers with kaiju… trust me on this one”

What the Boss Likes – Dungeons and Dragons….and Pat Robertson making a fool of himself again

dark-dungeons

 Good ol’ Pat is beating the drum about Dungeons and Dragons again and how this game has “literally destroyed people’s lives”.   Ah, Pat, we can always count on you for a good lie for Jesus! I’m sure that Pat is feverishly pawing at his Chick tracts (absolutely ludicrous Christian tracts that tell a number of pitiable lies about anyone Jack Chick doesn’t like. He’s a KJV-onlyist TrueChristian who really really hates Catholics). Chick is sure that D&D tells people how to cast “real” spells.  Damn, for playing it for over 20 years, where’s my fireball?!   You can read the histrionics in the tract here. For shame, Jack and Pat. All of that false witnessing, because anyone who has actually played D&D knows that you never have.  Tsk, putting your supposed eternal souls on the line to lie about a game.   By the way, Dungeons and Dragons is now owned by Hasbro through their subsidiary Wizards of the Coast. So, you know, ooooooh scary!  🙂  

For those not of the nerdish persuasion, Dungeons and Dragons is a role-playing game; you create a character and then it’s a game of make-believe. And not like the video game version of RPG.  In pen and paper D&D, you can create just about anything as a character, not limited to whatever the game designer put in.  You are limited by what the “Dungeonmaster” says can fit into his world.  He’s the author of the story line and often the author of the entire gaming world. (D&D isn’t limited to classic medieval fantasy a la Lord of the Rings) .  The DM is any other characters yours might meet, he’s the weather, the monsters, etc.  Essentially the DM is the creator of conflict in the narrative: man versus man, man versus nature, man versus society, and if he’s good, places your character into situations where it’ll be man versus himself.  My husband, an excellent DM if I do say so myself, loves to do those last two.  It’s nice, and a right pain in the ass sometimes, to have an English Lit major creating stories. His games aren’t “Open door, kill monster, take treasure.”  Oh no, we have to deal with moral ramifications, like if orcs have souls, can a half-demon be good, is it better to do the good thing or the lawful thing……  My theist audience should be amused to know that I occasionally play priests.  It’s one thing to believe in a god that actually (in the gaming world) does something.   Continue reading “What the Boss Likes – Dungeons and Dragons….and Pat Robertson making a fool of himself again”

What the Boss Likes – Some time killers for a Friday

While I’m sitting here listening to the soundtrack of Rocky Horror Picture Show (my husband introduced me to this when we first were dating), let me show you some cool links.

Awesome photos of the tunnel projects in New York City: http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/news-nyctunnels/?cid=hero_media

Planetary romance webcomic of the same genre as “A Princess of Mars: http://www.perilsonplanetx.com/archives/comic/coming-soon

Hard-boiled noir webcomic: http://www.gravediggercomic.com/?comic=welcome-to-gravedigger

Steamfantasy webcomic: http://www.ineffableaether.com/2011/07/11/ch01s01-2/

Crowd sourced research: https://www.zooniverse.org/  (alas my computer at work is too old to do this anymore)

How to drink like a gentleman – H.L. Mencken

And as a reminder, always lovely pictures here.

 

 

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – The illegible post, part 2 – on aliens and things

Invader Zim

   “You know there are probably no “rocks” on Alpha Centauri since it’s a star, but  maybe it has a planetary system. No aliens in the Biblical perspective because God made the earth to be inhabited and the heavens above it for His glory, not for life. Fine the extraterrestrial critter and prove that it’s not a demon or a crystal and you’ll have a choke hold on most Christians that know their Bible. Boy, isn’t that a nice hope for you and yours. Nothing’s come forward yet, though. Better get in that next light speed travelling shuttle.”- from the Illegible Post

Alpha Centauri is actually a binary system, with two stars and one more that is likely gravitationally influenced by the first two, Promixa Centauri which is the one technically closest to earth other than our own Sol.  It also seems to have at least one planet.   Now, I have my own questions about the slew of planets found but the science is sound on how the discovery process works.  Gravity works, as mostly everyone knows, and planets tug on stars, this makes them wobble and their light changes in frequency, like how sounds changes frequency when the train is approaching an observer and then when receding from that observer. (some links on how we find extrasolar planets: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=670  http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/exoplanet-exploration/

The Christian’s comments on Alpha Centauri are based on something I said in a prior post: “If there is no evidence for a magical flood, then there is no reason to think that there was one. If there is no evidence for a God, or Santa Clause, then there is no reason to think there is one.  Could there be a probability of something undefined hiding under a rock on Alpha Centauri and that be the Christian god?  No, not if the Christian god is as claimed by the bible and Christians.” 

Unsurprisingly, in his haste to tease me about saying that there was a rock on a star, the basic point of this quote was missed.  We have Christians claiming that their god, as defined in the Bible, exists. We have no evidence to support that this particular god exists or that any exist. So to believe in such a thing has little to recommend it. Could we redefine “god” as something living under a rock on Alpha Centauri Bb (the planet)? Yes, but it would not be the god as claimed in the Bible.  The religion would be demonstrated to be built on false information.  Theists often ask atheists what would it take to believe in their claims; in this instance evidence of the being you insist exists. I’d insist on the same evidence for my alien beastie cowering under a rock.  

Now onto the aliens.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – The illegible post, part 2 – on aliens and things”

From the Kitchen and Back Room – Did she really make fresh bao? (and beer and wine?)

bao 012113Being a foodie, I love to try new things. Husband and I have been talking about going on vacation to a city with a good selection of dim sum restaurants.  Being a Firefly fan, I like to try things I see on that dearly departed show.  Now, I’ve a lot of experience with fresh strawberries and “fresh” wine (albeit not from Caylee’s inter-engine fermentation system. For Vel’s fermentation system, see recipe below), but not so much with creating anything but a stir-fry from the Orient.  So, being bored and having some pulled pork in the freezer from a recent meal (this recipe here; very tasty), I decided that making bao could be entertaining. Understand that I’ve never had bao before so we’re working with expectations created by the interwebs.

The recipe for the bao dough comes from here.  The dough is amazingly cooperative, and is not the usual tarbaby I work with.  I cut the dough into the pieces indicated on the blog entry and rolled them out with my regular sized rolling pin, thinning out the edges with my fingers. For the filling, I took my pulled pork, moistened it with hoisin sauce, tamarind concentrate and a squirt of sriracha.  Sorry, no strict amounts, just make it moist. The pork is cooked so you can taste as you go.  Warning, if the filling is too moist, it’ll simply squirt everywhere when you go to seal up the bao.

Note:  (added a bit later on 1/21)  I used my old metal steamer, the one that looks like a radar dish when spread out.  I put it in a large pot (the stewpot from a standard set) so it was mostly flat.  I then put a sheet of baking parchment paper under each bao.  Worked like a charm.  But watch, the “radar dish” likes to tip, so put the bao on across from each other to balance.

Now for the results, they are very, very good. At least, I think so again with nothing to compare it to.  The steaming leaves a lacquered shine on the bao, and the dough becomes slightly chewy, but still spongy and fluffy.  The flavor of the dough is very clean and fresh, and I think that’s because it has no salt in it.  Most folks from the western cultures aren’t used to having no salt in their bread-type products.  As the Stresscake blog entry says, they keep nicely in the freezer.  They also microwave well after cooked, if nuked for about 10 seconds.  They worked so well, I am definitely getting the cookbook they came from: Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen.

This weekend we’ve also made another Brewer’s Best kit, Belgian Golden Ale.  Don’t see it on their website anymore, so I don’t know if they may have ceased production of it.  There will be a post about it when it finishes up.

And now for Vel’s “fresh” wine.  I had thought I had posted about this, but the search function on the blog isn’t bringing it up.  For quick and dirty “fresh” wine, use grape juice that has no preservatives; frozen is your best bet.  We use Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast since it’s damn near impossible to kill.  Basic recipe is below.  We don’t bother using the acid blend, pectic enzyme or yeast nutrient.  Juice, water, yeast and sugar will get you on your way.  You’ll need a fermentation lock and a gallon jug.  I *much* prefer the three piece which you can see here (no association with merchant, they just have a great picture of the things.)

2 cans (11.5 oz) 100% frozen grape concentrate (check label for no preservatives)
1-1/4 lbs granulated sugar
2 tsp acid blend
1 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp yeast nutrient
water to make 1 gallon
wine yeast

Bring 1 quart water to boil and dissolve the sugar in the water. Remove from heat and add frozen concentrate. Add additional water to make one gallon and pour into jug. Add remaining ingredients. Fit airlock. When clear, rack (pour or siphon off what’s clear into another bottle), top up and refit airlock. After additional 30 days, stabilize (Campden tablets are a preservative and are found at home brewing places) sweeten if desired and rack into bottles. My suggestion is just be ready to drink it.  It’s fresh, you know.

What the Boss Likes – Un-named White House employee who wrote reply to Death Star Petition

To you, un-named employee who wrote the reply for the Death Star petition,

You are AWESOME!  Obama is pretty cool too, alway great to have a presidential nerd.

Read the wonderfully nerdy, well-informed and funny response to the petition here

Favorite part?

Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

And let me guess, the religious wingnuts will now be sure that Obama is a Jedi, not a Christian.  😀