Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review: Top Five Beverages



This was a good year to pour beverages down my face.  Let’s review, shall we?







Hendricks Martini at Mortons / Barb’s Hendricks Martini

Having just be turned onto Hendricks Gin, I surprised Ryan the bartender at Mortons after he asked if I wanted my usual Saphire martini.  After my first he suggested that it would be good with muddled cucumber and a salt and pepper rim.  “I’ll have one of those then.” I said.  And then had another.  And maybe had another.  Now Barb makes a delicious version.  But don’t drink one if you’re trying to sober up.
4 La Chouffe

This was my go to Belgian Rally Ale during the base playoffs.  And it worked right up until game seven.  Yes I had neglected to have any on hand for game six.  Oh, and they gave me that nice hat during their happy hour at the Belgian Beer Fest.
3 The Mèdoc at Le Perraudin

This was easily the best wine I had in Euroland in 2011.  I wish I had taken a picture of the board so I could tell you exactly what it was.
2 Fedefweisser at Hotel Villa Melsheimer in Reil 
I’m not sure if it was the intoxicating view of the Mosel Valley, the intoxicatingly delicious Zweibelkuchen, the intoxicatingly leisurely bike ride along the Mosel or our intoxicatingly cute waitress Amy, but this young, cloudy sweet wine hit the schpott.
1 Westvleteren Trappist Ale 

They only sold it twice a day during the Belgian Beer Fest.  And I just happened to be in line returning my glass.  JT had poopooed it.  But he lies with his lying mouth.  It was real and spectacular.

2011 in Review: Top Five Worst Deaths

As noted in a previous blog entry, this was a year in which some truly horrible and death-worthy people died.  But it was also a year in which some great and visionary people died.

I’m not going to apologize for their being the significant college band of my college days.  Yes, they are mostly a parody of themselves now.  But back before MTV would show them, they were greatness.  RIP World Leader Pretend.
4 Peter Falk
Columbo is one of my all-time favorite shows of all time forever, always.  And that would not be the case without the greatest of Peter Falk.  And try to find a funnier movie in the 70s than The InLaws.
3 Christopher Hitchens
One of the great thinkers of the last half century.  His writings in The Nation, Slate and The Atlantic were go to articles for me the past decade.  I wish I was 1/10th as literate as he.
2 Steven Jobs
There were personal computers before the Mac, There were MP3 players before the iPod.  There were smart phones before the iPhone.  There were tablet computers before the iPad.  But, through his leadership and guidance, the gold standard for all of those products were set.  If only more tech companies would follow his ethic of “we’re not going to sell crap that’s barely usable”.
1 Valcav Havel
There certainly is something romantic about a writer leading his country against socialist totalitarians and into freedom and democracy.  It doesn’t hurt that I’ve personally seen the greatest that is the modern Czech Republic.   Mmmmmm beer and pork knuckle.   What???

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Review: Top 5 Worst Moments

As years go, 2011 barely makes it into the top 10 of 21st Century years – thank you 2005.  While there was some incredible travel and food and wine and beer, there was also the hottest summer ever, and not in the fun way.

5 Landing in Gander, Newfoundland 

There are few worse words you can hear while flying over the north Atlantic than “We’re having to turn back and land in Gander Canada.”  It’s even worse auf Deutsch.  A mysterious smell and a lack of Airbus 340 mechanics at this remote “international” airport delayed my trip to Europe by a day but added an additional country to my three country trip.  But the fuckers at Canadian customs didn’t even stamp my brand new passport.
4 Landing in Frankfurt Flughafen 

After 24 of practically no sleep, I finally was in Frankfurt.  The problem, however, was that the original plan was to acclimate for a day in the ‘dorf.  But now there was no time to acclimate and didn’t even know what the new plan was.  Eventually JT talked me off the panic limb and I made my way to Brussels.
3 Signing Up for AT&T Uverse

This was largely chronicled in this blog posting.  But I want to reiterate and make it perfectly clear – FUCK YOU AT&T!!!

2 Wallet Stolen in Paris 

To be fair, if you’re going to get your wallet stolen, doing so in Paris makes a far better story than Pleasant Grove.  But try not to do it with less than €150 and your pre-paid train ticket home from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt.
1 David Fucking Freese

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 in Review: Top Five Best Deaths

This was a great year for horrible people to die. Or for great characters to die horribly.  As morbid as it may seem, this is a list of my favorite deaths of 2011.



5 Muammar Quadafi – Sirte, Libya 
Finally our long national struggle to spell his name the same way twice is over.
4 Osama bin Laden – Abbotabad, Pakistan
My Tea Party friends tell me killing bin Laden is the only good thing Barack Hussein Obama has ever done. OK, I don’t have any friends in the Tea Party. And by “friends in the Tea Party”, I mean “friends”.
3 Kim Jong-Il – Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Truly one of the most horrible humans in a family of horrible humans.  He let his people starve as he ate and drank and fucked like a king.  But I hear it was an excellent golfer.  And he was most certainly a snazzy dresser.
Gustavo Fring and Uncle Tio – Santa Fe, NM
*Spoiler Alert*

But really, this happened months ago.  And if you’re not on board with Breaking Bad by now, then too bad*.

They essentially died together.  Although Gus lasted a few glorious seconds longer.  And I included Uncle Tio because I was having a hard time coming up with a fifth great death.

And this is as good of a time as any to go off on my Gus Fring rant.  While Breaking Bad is the greatest TV show ever (sorry about that. The Wire, you’ve been usurped), the character of Gus Fring, no matter how great he was, was simply unbelievable.  One becomes a drug lord for the money, the glamor the women and the power.  Not to pretend to be a manager of a chicken joint.

* But if this has persuaded you to try Breaking Bad and you wish to order the first season on Blu-Ray, may I recommend this link -- Breaking Bad: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 in Review: Top Five Worst Meals

Well it’s that time of year again when spirit of Christmas possesses me to start compiling lists of the good and bad thing that happened the previous 12 or so months.

Let’s start at the bottom with the worsts and work our way up to the good.  After all, the first rule in blogging is end on a high.  That and bring the hate. 

5 Remmington’s, Addison TX
Thanks to an ill-advised Groupon purchase (not by me) I got to experience the horror that is Remmington’s.  If you ever want to go to see a restaurant that has given up and is content to serve frozen crap, Remmington’s is the place.
4 Lowell’s, Seattle WA

Sure, the last meal on a trip to Seattle will be the worst because of all the sadness from leaving the greatest city in the USA from all your tears over salting your eggs.   Plus it gave both Lidia and I food poisoning.
3 Sonny Bryan’s BBQ, Irving TX

In researching my probably never to completed survey of the chain BBQ joints of Dallas, I eventually made my way to the highly touted Sonny Bryan’s. It’s almost always at the top of D Magazine or the Dallas Observers list of best BBQ place (reader’s choice).

BBQ is a quick and easy paleo lunch.  So knowing which chains I could stand is important.  I can’t always make it to Meshack’s, Hard 8 or Pecan Lodge.  And while the sausage was ok, the brisket had zero smoke flavor.  In fact, it had zero flavor.
2 Art’s Crab Shak, Hayward CA

Sometimes after a long plane ride and another long car ride to the final destination – Yosemite – you can’t always be too picky where you eat.  Add to that my foodie instinct to try local joints and  dive joints and one is sometimes presented with a toxic mix of dumb locals going to a cheap-ass restaurant.  After all, Freud did say, “Sometimes a dive is just a dive.”  The food was obviously frozen sometime in the 90s.  And is margarine really that much cheaper than butter?
1 Random Indian Restaurant, Paris France

Admittedly, the food wasn’t that bad.  Some of it was pretty good, in fact.  But considering that it cost JT a toenail, me my wallet and both of us about 20 minutes on a very crowded Paris bus, it just wasn’t worth it.

Merry Christmas from the Late, Great Marvin Sease

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Freedom of Speech Infiltrates Texas

SatyrCongratulations to the Jester King Brewery for beating back the Jackbooted Thugs known as TABC by now being abled to call their beers “beer” and their ales “ale”.







As of result of yesterday’s ruling, beer in Texas may now be labeled as “beer” and ale may now be labeled as “ale”, regardless of alcohol content. Breweries and distributors are also no longer prohibited from independently telling consumers where their products may be purchased, or from communicating truthful and accurate information about their alcohol content. That means Jester King will now be able to add a “Where to Buy” section to our website, as will all other breweries selling beer in Texas.

“In a remarkable (though logically dubious) demonstration of circular reasoning” Judge Sparks writes in his ruling, “TABC attempts to defend the constitutional legitimacy of the Code through an appeal to the statutory authority of the Code itself.” Referring to the required use of the terms “beer”, “ale”, and “malt liquor”, he writes “TABC’s argument, combined with artful legislative drafting, could be used to justify any restrictions on commercial speech. For instance, Texas would likely face no (legal) obstacle if it wished to pass a law defining the word ‘milk’ to mean ‘a nocturnal flying mammal that eats insects and employs echolocation.’ Under TABC’s logic, Texas would then be authorized to prohibit use of the word ‘milk’ by producers of a certain liquid dairy product, but also to require Austin promoters to advertise the famous annual ‘Milk Festival’ on the Congress Avenue Bridge.’”

I still can’t get an Oregon winery to ship to me and breweries still can’t sell their wares at their breweries (unlike Texas wineries and every other state’s breweries).  So more work needs to be done to rid ourselves of these tea-totalling despots.

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best Anus to Mouth Ever

I come out of semi-blogretirement to share the most epic of Epic Meal Times ever.

Warning!! This video is NSFV (Not Safe for Vegans).  But then, what in real life is?

Filthy facelookers can enjoy the fun here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walkabout 2011: Day 12—Last Full Day in Euroland


They let you sleep anywhere in Paris.



One last Bröchten at Schweine Janes.


And the Schmutziger Führer is born.  (a joke for one).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Walkabout 2011: Day 7—Aachen und Köln

My hipster frames and stern demeanor must make me look German. I had two people ask me a question while waiting for my train. Although one was a beggar. It's amazing how the beggars are multilingual here. Couldn't they get a job at the UN??

Awesome! Someone is clipping his nails on the train. No point of doing that at home when you can do it on a train where everyone can enjoy it.

Fuck You AT&T


In case you’ve wondered where my daily Walkabout post-trip blogging has gone (yes that’s a confusing sentence), it all started a long time ago in an AT&T store far far away (if 75 and Park is far far away).

My iPhone 3gs had gone tits up (#firstworldpain) so I had to go buy a new one.  In doing so I was coaxed into signing up for Uverse with promises of free HBO, Showtime, hot and cold running angel tears, and eternal contentment.  So, it was essentially the ‘08 Obama campaign all over again, and I bought every word.

Since I would be out of town for much of the following month, I opted to have my Uverse install performed when I got back from Germany. So, this past Tuesday a technician came out but couldn’t get a strong enough signal.  He couldn’t get it to work and would send another technician in the afternoon.  Smash-cut to three technicians and an apprentice later and I’m told that they have done everything they could do, but there is no way for the Uverse modem to synch, the signal just isn’t strong enough.

“OK”, I said, “But I’m going to need my DSL turned back on.”  (With all the dicking around with lines and boxes and wires and whatnot [emphasis on the whatnot], I had lost my DSL.)

“Sure thing.  Give me 30 minutes and I’ll have your DSL up and running.”, the technician replied.

After about a two hour wait, I called AT&T.

Let me now ask the people of AT&T and any other phone support system, if the robot that answers my call knows my phone number why the fuck does the actual human that finally takes my call ask me for my phone number???  At this point I’m not in any condition to be polite and when asked for my phone number I began to get chippy.

“Don’t you already know my number.  The robot that answered the call knew my number.  Why are you asking this.  It just doesn’t seem efficient.  I was on hold for quite a while.  Maybe if you skipped this step you could service more customers more quickly.”

The unamused “Customer Support Representative” relied, “Sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m still going to need your number.

After retelling my story of Uverse angst, the “CSR” assured me that someone would be out that afternoon to turn on my DSL.  I made the mistake of believing him and went about the rest of my day.  The next day I performed the same drama and by the end of the day still had no DSL or any phone call telling me what’s going on.

Mysteriously, I got a phone call from AT&T on Saturday telling me that they would be unable to install Uverse (DUH!) and did I have any more questions.  I offered up that I still needed my DSL turned back on.  A bit confused, the AT&T representative apologized and assured me that she would have someone look into it.  I didn’t believe her but gave her a “Thank you.” anyways.

And now we get to “My Sunday on the Phone with AT&T” or “The Hour I Will Never Get Back”.

Since this entry is closing in on the record for my longest blog post, I’ll skip my first two calls to AT&T and subsequent hang-ups while being transferred to 2nd level support.

Finally I called and go to DSL support directly.  After explaining my problem, the DSL tech tried some things to get it to start working but failed.  She then finally relented and agreed that a service technician would be sent out.  She then had the balls to tell me that “if the problem was with the line inside my house I would be charged $115 for the repair.”

That’s when I lost it the first time.

“You will not charge me anything.  I did not screw this up.  You guys screwed this up.  Please make a note on my ticket that I will not be charged for this.  My DSL has worked perfectly for the seven years I’ve lived in my house.  If there is a problem, you guys did it.”  I so wanted to say “Fucked” but I was trying to keep a tiny bit of civility.

After consulting with a manager, she relented and said I would not be charged for any line repair.  She then informed me that she could have technician out to my house between 8am and 8pm tomorrow.

That’s when I lost it a second time.

“No.  We’re not doing this again.  I’ve wasted a whole week with you guys.  You are [fucking] AT&T you can do whatever [the fuck] you want.  You’re one of the largest companies in world.  I know this because you’ve been [ass raping] for a week now over this.  If you wanted to send a technician to my house in three minutes you could.  So, give me a specific time.  Either first thing in the morning or first thing after lunch.”  Parenthetical cussing was all in my head.

After much such arguing, I finally got her manager to relent and say she would at least try to get me a technician first thing after lunch.  I don’t believe her.  But, honestly, what threats did I have left?

So here I am writing this blog entry, watching the Cowboy game on a rogue Japanese website through one of my neighbor’s open WiFi.  But as least I got to see a highlarryass Japanese ShamWOW commercial.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Walkabout 2011: Day 1–What Could Go Wrong?


Everything looks ok out there.


And inside as well.  OOOoooh Duty Free smokes!!


WTF.  Canada.  Oh great.


Well, at least the bar is open.


I’m sure we’ll only be here a few more hours.  It’s not even 3am local.  And what’s with the whacky time zone??


The least comfortable international terminal in all of North America.  Although the Socialist Workers Mural was fantastic.

In Case You Were Worried, I Did Make It to the Belgian Beer Festival


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Live Blogging Flying to Germany

• Thanks, mom for the ride to the airport

• For a quick paleo meal at the airport, you could do a lot worse than Cousins BBQ. Brisket is good, the sausage is meh.

• 20€ for in flight internets. Expensive but I'm not dropping out streaming The Hardline unlike Virgin America.

• Upon getting served a red wine, one or two sips later and the steward was going down the aisle to top off wine. So of course, I slammed mine to get a refill.

• Euro travel is fantastic. After dinner question, "Bailey's or cognac?". Cognac, of course.

• Sonofabitch. Netflix thinks I'm already in Germany and won't stream to me.

• Turning around over the Atlantic for "emergency" landing in Canada. The emergency is a strong chemical smell in the crew quarters. Great, some cut a nocturnal fart and we have to turn around.

• In Gander Newfoundland until the find out who fährted.

• Eavesdropping on people wondering why the clock in the terminal appears to be off by 30 minutes. Geegle. Stupid Americans.

• Been here three hours. No word as to when (if) we are going to leave. Luckily Netflix is allowed in Canada.

• The pilot just announced that per regulation, a lufthansa mechanic must sign off that there is no problem. It will take at least 12 hours to get a mechanic here. We are being put up in hotels and best case scenario we will land in Frankfurt at 4 am.
• The funniest moment of the night (now early morning) came when an older Jewish sounding complaining to one of the local workers helping us who doubted that nothing else could be done about our situation said, “This sounds very German.  We’re just following orders.”
• Finally made it to a hotel around 10am local crazy Newfie time.  Time to nap.
• Woke up around 2pm.  Not the best nap ever.  Best case scenario, we leave before 8pm.  In the mean time I’ve got a $140 food voucher to burn through.
• Was going to get room service at 4pm but they don’t serve between 2 and 5.  So, I hope the restaurant has a pants optional policy, cause i was looking forward to eating prime rib pantless
• Buses to pick us up at the hotel and take us back to the airport at 6:30. 

• 11pm. Have been at the airport since 730. The crew showed up at 945. No word as to when we will start queuing up.

• Midnight. We should start boarding within the next 30 minutes. But I'm not holding my breath.

• I blogged too soon. As soon as I posted the previous entry, they announced pre-boarding.

-- Post From My iPhone

Location:Lufthansa Flight 439

Walkabout 2011 Starts Today


And don’t tell me what I can’t do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Winter Pic of the Day



This will be your last Winter Pic of the Day for 2011.  Thank you to everyone who participated and made this all happen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Winter Pic of the Day


Scientists Find Bagged Lunch Could Lead to Food Poisoning. Still No Cure for Cancer.

ScienceI read this article on HuffingtonPost and couldn’t help but bang my face against my laptop in exasperation.








The key graph:

According to the University of Texas, a whopping 99% of the 700 box lunches belonging to preschoolers contained foods that were kept at unsafe temperatures. These significant results revealed an accommodating environment for bacteria to grow, ultimately the cause of food poisoning and other bacterial infection.

First of all, it’s no surprise that bullshit like this is coming out of t.u.

Well I guess this explains all the dead preschoolers stacked up like cordwood at my neighborhood nursery school.  As a nation, have we run out of things to worry about?  We now have to hired bored “scientist” to find new things to worry about.  And haven’t kids been taking lunch to school since the dawn of time?  And what exactly is the point of this research?  And what would these researchers have the parents do? Turn their kids over to the “healthy” foods served at schools – fish sticks, mac & cheese, a pudding cup and skim milk?

And the study does not find that the lunches had bacterial growth.  This could have easily been done by swabbing the lunches to see what nasty pathogens were growing in young Aiden’s lunch box.  But I guess we weren’t really interested in finding something bad.  Speculating about catastrophe is far more fun.

Stay tuned for an upcoming headline:

Going Outside Could Lead to Death

Soon to be followed up,of course, with:

Staying Home Could Lead to Death

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Winter Pic of the Day


Accuweather Continues to Tease


Although I’m sure this will come true since I’ll be in California for most of this.

And when did 95°F become the Maginot line of climatic comfortablitinessitude?

The Canyons of Tietze Park

The recent heat wave/dry spell has taken its toll on my neighborhood park.