Sunday, April 29, 2007

I thought I'd never feel like this again

What can I say? I'm in love...

...WITH MOTHERFUCKING "SUPER PAPER MARIO"! Holy shit! I just got it today and I only played about 2 hours or so, but it is sweet!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Kimchi Jjigae

Earlier this week I was looking through my fridge and noticed a very forlorn and suspicious looking object wrapped in a white plastic bag sitting in the corner of the fridge. At first it filled with me with foreboding since I had no idea what the hell it was. I almost asked myself, "Holy shit, is that a decapitated head?"

But then it dawned on me.

That's my kimchi.

According to the Food Lover's Companion, kimchi is:

"kimchee; kim chee; kimch'i [KIHM-chee] This spicy-hot, extraordinarily pungent CONDIMENT is served at almost every Korean meal. It's made of feremented vegetables—such as cabbage of turnips—that have been pickled before being stored in tightly sealed pots or jars to ferment. Many Korean families bury kimchee in the ground to better preserve it and dig it up to use as needed. Commercial kimchi can be purchased in Korean markets. It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator."

--The New Food Lover's Companion, Third Edition; 2001

I'm not even going to go into the "WTF, condiment??" part (I guess it kind of is, but still), and I won't even go into how old school the whole jar in the ground business is when most people who live in the cities don't have access to a plot of diggable ground and the proliferation of kimchi refridgerators, but let us focus on that last sentence: "It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator."

Even though people do keep their kimchi for months on end, I opened the jar up anyway just to make sure. Always make sure. I used to be cavalier about stuff like this until the one time I cooked and ate "The Chicken That Turned." I'm still more cavalier than others about what I eat, but stuff going bad I don't mess with.

The last time I remember opening this jar of kimchi was about 5 months ago. You heard me right. Opened it. Not bought it. I can't even remember when that took place. I gave it a taste to see how far it had gone in fermentation. I don't know how many kimchi eating folks read this, but there's new kimchi, then sour kimchi...then there's kimchi that is no longer, "Hey, I'll eat this with my ramen." It's more, "Yea...this needs to go into soup, or fried rice or something because it's taken on that alcoholic, slightly corn-like Frito-Lay aftertaste." I actually don't mind it when it's at this state (some people can't stand it), but it's absolutely perfect for soup.

So I was determined to make myself some kimchi jjigae (kimchi soup/stew) for myself. Luckily, Friday turned out to be quite dreary so it was great weather for something like this.

Kimchi jjigae requires fermented (sour) kimchi. You can't use new kimchi for it. And I don't even mean the slightly turned half-sour kimchi. I mean it needs to be sour for the best flavor. The quality of your kimchi will also determine how good the soup is. You can try to doctor it while making the soup, but terrible kimchi will yield not so great soup. But always, as with any cooking, taste what you're making while you make it. If you know what kind of kimchi you have you'll know whether or not you need to salt it or whatnot. For example, some people want it spicier and will add powdered red chile peppers to it. Usually though, you shouldn't need to salt or flavor it that much, but upping the heat is your preference.

First off, I like to punch up the jjigae with additions like scallions, onions and garlic. Actually, I think it's a bit necessary or else it'll just taste like...boiled kimchi and not really soup. While kimchi contains the above ingredients, you gotta realize it's been sitting in there getting soft and sour for a bit of time. It's just a ghost of its previous flavor, so a fresh infusion is necessary. I personally didn't have scallions on hand, but at least try to have some garlic.

I'm also adding a bit of pork I had in the freezer left over from when I made jjajang myun. Pork is the usual meat addition. It's not really, really necessary, but pork and sour kimchi just go so well together. Canned tuna also works and is a frequent secondary choice. I've seen spam or hotdog or weenies added before, but that's dangerously treading budae jjigae territory. You could make it without any meat obviously, if that's what you prefer.

Oh, in case you're curious, the "pot" I'm using here is a ddukbaegi.

I get the ingredients started with some sesame oil. Sesame oil has a low smoke point quite honestly, and is better used as flavoring, but I'm not trying to cook these ingredients, so it's ok here.

After a quick couple of turns, add kimchi. I also like to cook the kimchi a little before adding water because it draws out the juices and it'll be a good consistency without too much boiling.

Now, we need to add some water. How soupy you want it is personal preference. Some people like having a lot of soup, I personally like having it a bit more "casserole-y."

I've also added kimchi juice. Yes, I said kimchi juice. It's what keeps it from becoming just boiled kimchi as well. Now more juice means more stewy than soupy. Also, it adds more sourness to the soup too, so if you're not a fan of sour things adjust accordingly.

Cover and cook.

Now tofu is necessary. You may have kimchi jjigae without meat, but no tofu is heresy. I prefer silken tofu in mine, but nothing wrong with firmer varieties. Just stay away from the kind meant for frying/grilling. That's a little too hardcore. Now tofu is not meant to be "cooked." There's no such thing as raw tofu. I mean it might be unprepared, but overcooking tofu is a sin. That is why this goes in last. You just want it warmed.

And voila!

Man, I could live off of this stuff. I once went through a whole week where I had only kimchi jjigae for dinner.

Friday, April 27, 2007

125th stop

Whenever I come to the 125th stop on the 1 line it reminds me of Chicago and I kind of wish I was there. When I step off at this stop I also half expect to step onto the Howard L stop. When I pass the stop the feeling goes away with it. It's almost like the Doppler effect but with memories and emotions. Did I mention that it's kind of weird as well?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Why it is no use to try and culture me

On the 19th I got a chance to go see A Moon for the Misbegotten. A play I'm not particularly familiar with but it was free thanks to a friend who snagged two free tickets, Kevin Spacey was in it, and I'm always game for any last minute invitation to things.

(check out the "comp" and "$0.00," bitches!)

As I flipped through the playbill looking at the cast members and info before the play started, my brain went, "Hmm, yep, Kevin Spacey...yea, that's cool...he's always fun to watch...and...hmm, well I'm not familiar with the Old Vic Theatre troupe...and...and...OMG!!!!!"

All thoughts of how cool it was to watch Spacey act on stage disappeared the moment I saw the fact that Colm Meaney was part of the productions. Why? Because in that moment my brain screamed, "OMFG, IT'S FUCKING CHIEF PETTY OFFICER O'BRIEN!!!!!"

Yes, everyone, I totally forgot the existence of Kevin Spacey, the possibility of Bill Clinton being in the audience, and everything else because I was so goddamned excited that O'Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation was in the play.

He was one of my favorite characters on ST:TNG as a kid. I don't know, he was just likeable to me. On top of that, he marries a Japanese lady later in the series and has a kid, and to me, we had that hapa connection. You know? Like it was cool cause it was kinda like how me and my friend's family situation was with the whole half-asian (former) GI dad type of thing.

I was very tempted to stay behind in hopes of seeing him come out after the play so he could sign my playbill as, "From Miles O'Brien..."

I'm sure he gets enough of that crap from hardcore Trekkies and it must be ridiculously annoying to have your entire body of work reduced to Star Trek. I mean, I thought he was good in "Intermission." He was good in this play too.

Oh yea, the play. Anyhow, I enjoyed it. I actually do enjoy watching plays despite my joshing about my philistine ways. I dont know, I heard some people didn't like it, but Kevin Spacey was good in this as well in my opinion. The only problem I had is, while he had the mannerism I'm not sure if he looked or carried himself as best as he could've as the alcoholic-will-probably-soon-die-from-his-drinking Jim Tyrone.

Eve Best was great as Josie as well. And she looked the part too. The thing is, Josie's breasts are mentioned quite a bit in this play and, well, I don't mean to sound crude, but whoever was in charge of costumes certainly picked the right costumes as well as foundational undergarment. It's not lewd, I'm just saying, they did it well. That's all. OK, I'll shut up.

I told my friend afterwards, "Hey, that was fun," but then paused because no, it wasn't fun, the play was depressing. So I recovered with a, "I mean...not fun, know...I mean like, I enjoyed myself and it was, edifying and..."

"You mean it was good?" She offered.

I said, "Yea! That's more like it."

It really was a depressing play though. Jim and Josie finally cut through all the bullshit to let each other know they love each other, but for what? Just to realize that as much as they love each other they can't be with each other anyway. Plays that are depressing are always even more depressing to me because it's a weird combination of the already depressing words and that uncomfortable embarassment I always feel for someone acting their heart out onstage. And I don't mean if an actor's bad, but just that inward cringe I feel for someone onstage due to whatever imagined stagefright I feel for them. Anyhow, that's exactly what I was feeling for Jim and Josie on their moonlit date. But yes, it was fun...I mean good.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's a little sad

I think I may be just a little bit too excited that the Borders near my job suddenly got a bunch of "Hellblazer" trade paperbacks. There's something wrong when you're almost 24, and spending your lunch hours in whatever business acceptable attire you happen to be in (which is just barely so in my case and accented by very inappropriate Vans or Chuck Taylors), sitting on the floor in the comic section of a Borders and reading comic books.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New drawing: Rough Girl

And yes, I do realize leotard pockets are one of the weirder things I've drawn, but it's an outfit inspired by watching too many 90s music videos. I'm also taking the 90s comic book character design philosophy of ridiculosity...not as bad as the 80s but close enough.

In addendum to the previous post

I probably can count on one hand the people I've met in my life who know what I'm talking about when I mention the Kid and Play dance. And out of that, I only know two who can dance it with me. And even then it was a very simplified version because we weren't that fly. So as a tribute. The Kid and Play dance (it starts specifically at 1:16, but obviously watch this clip in all its 90s House Party glory).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Marques Houston - "Circle"

Originally I was going to be a post about how one of the clear signs that you are now too old to go to shows is when you feel like the oldest person in the room. There's a corollary to this theorem in which you really REALLY know you are old when people who are performing on stage are around your age or, Jesus Christ, younger than you are.

It's something I've been joking about a while saying. Instead I'm going to point out one of my video obsessions at the moment. The video for Marques Houston's "Circle."

Why this video you ask? Well for one thing, I really like the incorporation of the piano into the video's concept. The chereography for the lady piano playing brigade also piqued my interest.

The real reason behind this video? Marques Houston. Seriously, dude, remember when homeboy used to be called BATMAN? Running around with Immature? Remember? They were Kid's bratty cousins in House Party 3? Like they were the hip hop Huey, Duey and Louie? Voice for one of Bebe's Kids? ROGER from "Sister, Sister"???



It's all so weird watching in this video because it just makes you think, "Damn, Marques Houston is a grownass man." Yet at the same time, seeing him time warps me musically. Take a little trip with me, won't you?

I remember I couldn't get enough of Janet Jackson crooning "Again" (which was on the soundtrack for Poetic Justice. Remember that?).

Oh hell yes, I am totally break out the Tony Toni Tone with "Let's Get Down."

Here's some En Vogue.

OMG I love Brian McKnight's "One Last Cry" like no one's business. And it's soooo the epitome of this sound I'm talking about. That heartbreaking almost saccharine sentimentality with the TOTALLY YOU CAN TELL IT'S AN ELECTRIC KEYBOARD sounding keyboard. Also easily one of the top ten songs to be performed by someone going on Amateur Night at the Apollo.

Soul for Real, "Candy Rain"!

And come on, you can't forget Boyz II Men. They get two entries for me just for releasing the album II. That album is AWESOME. "On Bended Knee" and "I'll Make Love to You" (Is that Bill Bellamy in the video???)

You know, I must say, I didn't stray that far from my original premise since remembering all this crap is still making me feel pretty old oddly enough. Back to the original video I was talking about. So without further ado, here's Marques Houston's "Circle." OH! And at about 3:25 watch the dude that is to the left of Marques. He is putting his ALL into the chereography. Actually, you can notice him being super into it at other points of the video, but it was the moment at 3:25 that totally made me notice him and go back and watch the whole thing again. I honestly think that 75% of my love for this video comes from watching the guy who's super into it. I've heard people call the chorus dance the "Freak Nasty." I'm so learning it so when I go to the clubs I can pull it out and I'll do it EXACTLY like the into it dude with the SAME look on his face too. Hell, I already taught myself Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" dance, I might as well do this too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Note to self

OK, I'm writing this down so I don't push it off and forget it.

OK. Listen to yourself. Recently, while cleaning your house, you found your watercolors again. Now, you had a flash of inspiration to do a drawing around that time too. Work on that drawing. Yes, do it. You know how long it's been since you've drawn anything last? How embarassing? Also, those watercolors will just go to waste. OK. Got it? Work on drawing. And finish it within the next couple of days. You don't want it to end up like that celestial bit you were working on that's sitting over there in the corner judging you because you didn't finish inking it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I'm a junky friend

So I managed to let Helen's birthday pass and feeling like a total dickwad I wanted to make up for that by making her dinner. What she didn't know was that I was also building her a cake.

Helen like polka dots, so I decided this cake would have polka dots. She also likes camo (and I make fun of her for that), but there was no way I was going to whip up a camo cake on a Thursday night. Maybe next year.

After dinner I told Helen I had made dessert as well and brought out the cake.


I keep telling myself that's what I was going for. And yes, the cake does indeed say "Happy Belated -_-; Birthday Helen." Yes, there's an emoticon in there.

Anyhow it was plain vanilla icing with polka dot frosting and lettering. So you think, "Cool, so did you go with chocolate or something for the cake itself?"

Well, cut open the cake.


That's right, I've continued with the polka dot theme on the inside too. If I do build Helen another cake next year I might create balls of cake or fudge to insert in the cake and make it really look like ginormous polka dots. Either that, or I have to kind of start planning now on how to create a camo cake.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tonight's a relaxing evening

I have the window slightly open and there's a slight breeze coming through. I'm listening to some music while I bake and flip through a new cookbook. I wish I had mixed myself a cocktail, but this is good enough.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Full weekend

Ed. Note: I'm sticking with the royal we for most of this because introducing and explaining all the players might be confusing, but as a quick break down, Friday's show was attended by Kelly, Alex and myself. Saturday's was me and Kelly. Finally, Sunday's show was attended by Kelly, Ciaran and myself.

March 30, 2007 - Bloc Party, United Palace Theatre

I had weekend guests over this week. It was an exercise in the interesting considering my apartment might be considered just right for one person.

For those of you unfamiliar with the United Palace Theater, it is a seated, assigned by the seat, type of venue. Something we were pretty glum about.

Sebastien Grainger's (of Death From Above 1979, which was actually a pretty funky little outfit) band, who introduced themselves as The Beautiful Denzel Washingtons or some such, were not my cup of tea. I later on described my impression of their sound to Kelly as "premature ejaculation music," because I'd find myself starting to get into a song at certain points, but then maybe 5 seconds later I'd be all out of it. The whole set was full of those moments where I'd be all "Oooh..this is...this is...kinda...oh wait, I'm done." Yea, yea, and don't tell me it happens to everyone.

Albert Hammond Jr. on the other hand was damn good. That's all I'll say. The set was fantastic. Check his stuff out if you have not already.

As soon as Bloc Party began playing, the crowd stood up. After the second or third song, the general consensus was "Fuck this." and the stage was bumrushed. The usher/security type people sort of forced us back to our seats the first time, but we soon ran to the front again and after that and the staff gave up.

Throughout the show, Kele would look up because pieces of the theater itself seemed to be falling onto the stage and at one point he was pulled into the crowd. The house staff freaked the fuck out at this and they were trying to reel him back onto the stage, but since they couldn't get to him physically without the risk of being pulled into the crowd themselves they tried to do this with the mic chord. Yea, not the smartest thing I've seen done, but it seemed like they were working in panic mode.

Not that the crowd wasn't encouraged to be enthusiastic. At one point Kele declared that this was a rock show and "not a Snow Patrol show."

March 31, 2007 - Bloc Party, United Palace Theater

There were more people selling tickets at this show. The crowd was decidedly different, it was skewed a bit more towards the older crowd and it even looked like there were less out of towners. We witnessed one older looking guy in a fringed cowboy jacket excitedly related to two younger girls behind him how he didn't even really like Bloc Party. When he turned back around, the two girls looked at each other with a "WTF?" look on their faces.

I saw that there were some burly house staff looking types posted in front of the stage and it worried me that this would put a damper on any plans to bum rush the stage. We wanted to get a bit more to the front than yesterday so we formulated several plans based on how things went down last night. All that planning was unnecessary in the end, however, because it seemed like they were just posted there for precaution and no one was stopping anyone from bumrushing the stage tonight.

Kele told the crowd that on Friday night things got so hectic that the show was almost stopped, but that shouldn't stop us from having fun tonight. Nonetheless, it was noticeable he was being a bit more cautious yesterday. While he allowed himself to be pulled into the crowd on Friday, Saturday night he was careful to just barely hang himself over the crowd then back off before he got sucked in.

He commented how this was the New York crowd he expected to see, and even brought up Matt Tong's wife to dance with him onstage.

After the show we hung around to see if we could get anything and a stagehand handed out some picks.

"Whose is it?" we asked.

"Bloc Party," he answered.

"Yea, but who??"

"Bloc Party!" he answered in a bewildered manner. It was almost like an Abbott and Costello skit.

He eventually gave up and said, "The guy in the middle!" So I'm assuming I have in my possession Kele Okereke's pick.

We talked with the house manager who asked us if we liked the venue. We answered that it was nice, but quite honestly, we were more used to general admission.

"Yea, this was the first time we had a crowd that did not want to stay in their seats," he said almost in disbelief and awe.

April 1, 2007 - Les Savy Fav, Bowery Ballroom

The opening bands rocked. Call Me Lightning wowed me with a five-string bass and a bassist who could play it very well. The Big Sleep had a lady bass player and I almost swooned. Bass, bass, bass.

Anyhow, Les Savy Fav went off after the first song. Thanking the crowd for coming to listen to them. The house lights came on and music played. However, a couple of minutes later they were back. Oh, those jokesters.

Tim Harrington was resplendent in a Native American getup. And not the good kind, the kind that goes for 20 bucks at a bad costume shop.

Intense moshing, headbanging, and dancing ensued. Among the outrageous acts perpetrated by Tim:

- Called forward a member of the audience and made him get on his hands and knees. He suggestively rode the guy like a horse and even made him suck on his fingers.

- Popped open a bottle of Corona and shook it. He then simulated ejaculation with the bottle and beer foam. People gathered under for some beer bukkake action.

- He digged into his bellybutton then sucked on said finger.

- He borrowed Sharpies from the crowd and made audience members sign his belly. And yes, I got in on that action.

- He kissed the bass player.

At the end of the show my friend received a setlist. As we idled about watching everyone leave, Tim came out and thanked us for our awesome energy. I give all the credit to Kelly. I was still recovering from a migraine from the previous day, so I don't know how energetic I was, but nonetheless it was kind of cool he actually wanted to thank us personally. He signed Kelly's setlist and took a picture with her. I wanted Tim to sign my ticket stub, but not having a pen he bit into the ticket. When he finally did get a pen he signed the stub and circled the bite mark and wrote, "My mouth."

I mentioned that Ciaran was all the way from Dublin (I don't know why, it seemed like the thing to say) and Tim mentioned that Les Savy Fav had played there twice before. He also mentioned something about Leo Burdock's, and I remember we all agreed that Leo Burdock's was the bomb (It truly is).

A good weekend, and I have the bruises to prove it. Bonus: Vice TV (I know, Vice TV? I thought "Wtf?" when I heard that too) was filming the show so there's a chance that there will be video floating around the internet of me actin' the fool.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

There's an update coming up, I promise

Here's a preview/summary: Bloc Party, Bloc Party, Les Savy Fav. Bruises.