Wednesday, November 26, 2014

7 essential Thanksgiving foods

America is truly a melting pot but there are some dishes -- especially for a day set aside to celebrate
the one time when the pilgrims got along with the native Americans before killing them with weapons and disease -- that are essential to your Thanksgiving Day feast.

1.) Pumpkin Pie.
This is a necessity. Without having at least one (preferably more) Pumpkin Pie at your Thanksgiving Day feast, you obviously hate America and all of the awesomeness which it stands for.

2.) Mashed Potatoes.
Forget adding shit like cheese and bacon bits to them. Thanksgiving is about celebrating with the most basic foods in the largest quantities available. Cheese has no fucking place on your mashed potatoes and if you are having Au Grautin Potatoes, then you're obviously a terrorist. Heap that pile of mashed potatoes high and be sure to go back for seconds because on Thanksgiving, your belt gets the day off.

3.) Cranberry Sauce.
The Pilgrims probably had the luxury of fresh cranberries picked by the hands of the native Americans whom they would later conquer and kill so as modern Americans we shall at least have the same food. Of course we should do so with a modern twist. Take that can opener out of the kitchen drawer and crank open a couple cans of Jellied Cranberry Sauce. Brand has no place, I prefer the cheapest I can find, and slice off discs of jellied Cranberry goodness. If your relatives don't like the Jellied Cranberry Sauce that simply leaves more for you. If they begin to taunt you for liking something so weird, tell them how you truly feel about them. Don't hold anything back. They are now DEAD to you.

4.) Stuffing.
Don't call it "dressing" because what the fuck is it actually dressing. This stuffing comes out of your turkey's ass like it ought to. And it needs to have plump, juicy raisins in it. Not giant chunks of onions but raisins because that's just the way it is. If your spouse says this is gross, it is grounds for divorce. Seriously, consult a lawyer.

5.) Gravy.
This is the only accessory which is acceptable for your mountain of mashed potatoes. Put a healthy drizzle of gravy -- hopefully from a can, jar or a bag which came stuffed up the turkey's ass -- on those potatoes. Then put more on. Dump it on your stuffing and turkey. They lick the rest out of the gravy boat. Laugh maniacally at the person who would have received the gravy next, pound your fist on the table and proclaim yourself "king of the gravy" as you leave no gravy for anyone else. Maybe they'll think twice about making only three gallons of gravy next year.

6.) Candied Sweet Potatoes.
They are healthy because they're orange. They're delicious because they are glazed with butter, brown sugar and milk. Notice how I didn't mention marshmallows. That's because marshmallows have one purpose -- s'mores. Marshmallows are NOT a Thanksgiving food. Leave my house, hippie.

7.) Turkey.
Cook it breast down after seasoning it. DOn't just throw the headless bird in a pan and shove it in the oven. Take some pride in this genetically modified turkey and at least make an attempt at seasoning the poor bird. Use some Kosher salt, Paprika, hell, maybe ever some freshly ground pepper. Shoved a few sticks of butter under its skin. A few more up its cavernous ass. Rub butter on the outside, too. Eat half a stick of butter then, and only then, can you shove it in the oven and routinely baste it.

There you have it. The seven essential Thanksgiving foods necessary for a proper Thanksgiving feast complete with the best way to prepare each one. Eat until you feel sick because that's the American way!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The best pop music song this century?

In the late 1990s there was a Swedish pop star who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and had a big hit or two. Her stage name was Robyn and after trying to replicate the success of her initial couple hits here in the states she faded into relative obscurity.

It took over a decade for her to regain a sort of foothold in the UnitedStates music scene and her small bit of success should shave been much larger with hits like Dancing on My Own and the even better Call Your Girlfriend. She performed both of those hits on the venerable SNL but that never translated to radio airplay.

No matter what happened, those two songs -- especially Call Your Girlfriend -- are pop music gems. They are high energy, ultra danceable and have an infectious beat. The video for Call Your Girlfriend is a classic continuous-shot video but as fascinating and odd as Robyn's dancing is, the making of the video is even better. I, for one, love seeing the work it takes behind the scenes to produce a perfect four minute music video.

Here is the finished music video...


Here is the making of the video feature...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Standalone HBO streaming is a good thing

HBO announced yesterday that their streaming service, HBOGo, would be available as an a la carte service for anyone who wants to pony up the subscription fee (estimated to be around $20/month) could do so without having any cable television subscription. That is the first step in cable television channels giving viewers the power to choose the most important channels and paying for only what they want to watch.

The bad part is that most of the people who would want to subscribe to a standalone HBOGo service would still need to be strapped to a cable television company to receive streaming content because cable internet is the norm for a large percentage of internet customers.

In the end the cable companies still get your money and you are still dependent on them because people have few, if any, options. The only other viable option is to sever all ties to cable companies. I did this just over a year ago and went with DSL (just a fast and actually cheaper) but opted to subscribe to DISH TV service because my cable company (Mediacom) moved to metered internet service and my Netflix habits would have burned through that data cap in no time at all.

And it's those very data caps / metered internet access that cable companies will impose on their customers to keep them from cutting the cord to television service completely. This borderline monopoly is the kind of practice that keeps the cable companies insanely profitable and keeps customers tied to their television service.

The only hope is municipal fiber internet service or for a company like Google to become ultra aggressive in their deployment of fiber internet service. True competition is the only thing which will force cable television companies to be competitive -- both in price and speed -- with their internet service.

Monday, October 06, 2014

I watched Mulaney last night

I went out of my way to set my DVR to record the newest FOX sitcom, "Mulaney" last night and  I still am unsure what to think of the new multi-camera series starring comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney.

The series got off to an admittedly rough start. I may have cracked a smile or two early on but the series premiere was well over half finished before I laughed for the first time. Given John Mulaney's history -- hell, he wrote and created the hysterical SNL character "Stefon" -- I still have hopes that this show finds its footings and starts to become a consistent performer and generator of laughs.

In terms of what "Mulaney" is all about, the series is drawing a lot of comparisons to "Seinfeld". Both comedies star a stand-up comedian who appears to have absolutely no acting chops. Both show feature roughly the same number of supporting cast members including a man who could be compared to "Seinfeld" arch nemesis Newman, an Elane character portrayed by former SNL player Nasim Pedrad and John Mulaney's best friend who is also a comedian and appears to be the George Costanza of the cast.

The biggest problem with John Mulaney is that his acting is stiff. No, scratch that, his acting is as stiff as setting concrete. His on-camera presence is lifeless while what I have seen of his stand-up performances, while still somewhat stiff, has sings of life. Somewhere, buried deep beneath the fact that "Mulaney" appears to be about, wait for it, NOTHING again like its on-paper cousin "Seinfeld", there is a decent sitcom hiding.

After reading numerous reviews about "Mulaney" from those privy to seeing screeners of future episodes, the FOX sitcom does manage to find the funny and shore up its shaky footings by, at the latest, the sixth episode. With this being a desperate network and that the executives had enough faith before this series even aired a single episode to hand it a whopping sixteen episode commitment means that  the suits at FOX will either ride out the 16 ordered episodes and see how things pan out or unceremoniously ax this show over the extended Christmas break. All signs, though, point to "Mulaney" airing its 16 episodes in their entirety and maybe more if ratings and reviews improve.

I, for one, want this show to succeed even though it has the often maligned laugh track and is a blatant "Seinfeld" rip-off. Be sure to get in on the ground floor of "Mulaney" and watch as it improves. It airs Sunday evenings at 8:30 PM C/T on FOX.

Monday, September 22, 2014

How bad is Minnesota Renaissance Festival parking?

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is an annual sign that summer is drawing to a close and autumn is here. The celebration of wine, humor and food, though, has seen better days. With the main parking lot (the King's lot) utterly decimated by a frac sand mining operation, the traffic situation seems to have his a bit of a breaking point this year. It was painfully obvious on Saturday, September 20th as the day was perfect. Attendance was estimated by many as being in excess of 30,000 and it all began with people waiting upwards of two hours to park. The day was bookended by severe storms and a torrential downpour. That, along with the record attendance and poor planning by parking lot attendees created somewhat of a public relations shitstorm for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Even though I was not in attendance at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival this past weekend, I was lucky enough to see the traffic nightmare firsthand. Passing by the grounds form the south after the rain had passed, traffic was virtually stopped from a mile south of the King's parking lot entrance/exit to Interstate 494 on 169 north. Take into account that there were still thousands of cars in the overflow parking lot adjacent to U.S. highway 169 and I can only imagine the hell that was happening further away from the highway.

But why use your imagination when you can check out the litany of not-so-glowing Facebook reviews that center around the parking and traffic nightmares at the 2014 Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Keith Mattke
6 hours at the fest. 4 hours of misery trying to get out of the parking lot. Never returning to go through that bullshit again.

Lisa Jo Lampi
Waiting in a THREE MILE line to park for the last hour!! Come on you guys. You CAN do better than this!
Roger Thibodo
Had a great day until we left spent 2 1/2 hours trying to get out HIRE SOME TRAFFIC CONTROL
Krissy Karsseboom Odendahl
Parking sucks! I would not come if I had known it would take me all day just to get in!
 
Tom LeTourneauAbsolutely horrible parking!!! Over 3.5 hours trying to get out of the parking lot.
 
Joe Klanderspend 6 hours at the festival and almost 4 hours in the parking lot. People had to use the bathroom but the port-o potties were overflowing. No order was taken at all to get people out of there. I love the fest, but I'm not going to idle for hours to get out. I'm glad I didn't bring my kids yesterday and I had enough gas to get out of that place. I was very soured by the experience.
 
Stefanie Oberts BergI have been here for many years and always enjoyed it...until tonight. We have been sitting in the parking lot trying to get out of here for about 4 hours now. NO ONE directing traffic, no explanation. This is beyond ridiculous!! I don't think I will be back. This is beyond horrible. The staff and Scott County have done a horrible job. Sorry, but I think you have lost my future business...
 
Shannon Ivory LawsonSo the day was great with the kids- loved all of it until we got to the car at 5:37 and got out of the lot at 8:52!! Three hours in the car driving about 1 mile really dampened the day. We will not go back until the drilling is over or the festival moves. What scares me is if there was a real emergency- no one could get in or out from what I could tell. I hope everyone gets home safely. 
 
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The fact is that the Minnesota Renaissance Festival sits on leased land which the lease ends in 2016. That gives the festival two more years until the land on which the festival grounds sit are likely mined and turned into a deep pit. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival's owners, Mid-America Festivals, do own land north and west of the current grounds which would make for a viable relocation should that be necessary if they lose their current location due to continued frac sand mining. The sticking point in my eyes, though, continues to be parking situation and even if the festival grounds do relocate, the parking will continue to become more of a hassle.
 
The logical suggestion is to either accept the fact that parking will continue to get worse and that the customer base will begin to erode or move the whole experience somewhere else.