December 31, 2012

Happy New Year.

Update:  the whole White Christmas thing was a big, fat FAIL.  We got a DUSTING.  A goddamn dusting of snow after all that excitement and ominous build-up.  And even that didn't happen until probably midnight, which technically made it not even Christmas anymore.  Doesn't matter anyway, because in my book of rules, a White Christmas does not a dusting make.  There at least has to be coverage, which means at least a couple of inches.  I should've never gotten my hopes up.  I my defense, it was Christmas and I therefore felt that Christmas magic might come into play.  When will I learn??

So, fast forward to today, ye ole New Years Eve.  Yep, it's snowing.  Of course, the night I have somewhere I'd like to be, the night it already sucks to be out on the roads.  Nope, it couldn't snow on New Year's Day when I typically lounge around and don't leave the house.  Don't get me wrong, I am pleased it's snowing, it just figures it would have to be today.  Kinda ruins the fun a bit, because now it becomes an inconvenience.  At least I'm just getting together with friends nearby and not doing anything fancy where I have to get dressed up.  Those days are long gone.  And at least I get to wear my black rubber all-weather boots that are faux biker boots and kick ass.  I've had the damn things a year and have only wore them twice thanks to global warming and the now rare snowfalls that warrant wearing cool biker-looking snow boots.

All bitching aside, happy 2013 to you.  Not sure why I have an odd feeling of apprehension about this coming year, but I shall march forward and hope for the best.  Celebrate safely!  Here's a little Jimi to start your new year off right:

December 25, 2012

White Christmas!!!

WOO HOO!  I think the apocalypse has truly begun folks, because I'm going to get a white Christmas!  Where we got completely screwed out of winter last year with some of the warmest temps on record and virtually no snow.  Where we've had the warmest YEAR on record.  Ever.  Where the past 3 summers were each progressively the hottest on record, ending with this year's blistering inferno that I almost didn't survive.  No, I don't live on the sun.  Just the Midwest. 

IT'S GONNA SNOW!  I am so excited I can barely contain myself!  In fact, late last week I was talking to a client at work, and on the TV in the background I suddenly heard the first utterance of possible snow on Christmas.  Within .25 of a second and demonstrating zero impulse control, I screamed "YEAH! SNOW!" while flailing my arms in the air, followed by clapping.  Couldn't help it.  My client was entertained by it, even though I scared him with my yelp.  Oh, it's been so long since I've experienced a nice, solid snowstorm.   Please don't disappoint me, Winter Storm Euclid, or you and I are gonna have problems.  Big ones, because it's Christmas and because of that I am allowing myself to get my hopes up for once.  This should work out to be the perfect kind of Christmas snow, too, as it won't start until this evening, which is very convenient for me because I will be done with gatherings and can choose to hunker down at home if so I choose.  Woo Hoo! White Christmas comin'!

With all that aside...Merry Christmas to all.  I hope you fine reader(s) enjoy some time off work, some scrumptious feasting and drinking, and some good presents thrown into the mix.  Be safe out there (*said in Hill Street Blues voice*).

December 22, 2012

Xmas Prep.

I opted not to put my Christmas tree up this year.  Wasn't in the mood.  That's not to say I'm feeling all bah humbug, I just didn't feel like making the effort.  And thanks to the fact that 3 out of my 4 nieces and nephews want cash for a present, I don't have to do much shopping either.  I did suck it up and do some baking, though.  I think that tradition will always happen no matter what.  And I don't know why, because all that standing in the kitchen is killer on my back.  And because I always time things poorly and then find myself frantically trying to dip 200 Chocolate Salty Balls and about 300 caramels in chocolate in the week leading up to the holiday so they are done in time to give out.  Which is time consuming and gets real old real quick-like.  Anyway, here's what I've been up to in preparation for the holidays.  In pictures.

Went to a light display at the zoo.  This tree was my favorite. 

Took advantage of my new fisheye lens to grab a shot of the antique carousel.

Stopped to wish the penguins a happy holiday.
Ate Korean food 3 times in the past 2 weeks.  Look at my Dak Galbi!  (spicy chicken to you and me)
These are Banchan, various extras served at every meal.  And some dumplings in the back.

A delicious "seafood pancake".  With octopus!

The leftover half of my dinner last night.  A pulled pork bulgogi sandwich with a spicy gochujang sauce
and caramlized onions.  I loved it so much I went back to the kitchen to tell the chef.

Korean-style chicken wings I made a few weeks ago.  Did I mention I'm on a Korean kick lately?

Homemade vanilla caramels, in process.  It's a very precise and stressful activity.

I'm still trying to master and fine-tune things to achieve the perfect caramel,
but for only my 2nd annual attempt, they turned out pretty dang well.

Covered in dark chocolate.  Really good dark chocolate.  And sea salt.

It's not Xmas at my house without Chocolate Salty balls. 
I realized recently I've been making these nearly 20 years.  God I'm old.

Another must-have at Xmas for me:  Alfajores.  My favorite cookie of all time.

I'm surprised I haven't already gained some holiday weight, but somehow I managed to lose a few pounds in the last week or so.  I think it could be all that Korean food.  It's so goddamn hot that I think it revved up my metabolism.  Bonus!  Anywho, I hope you're finally ready for the holidays as I am.  It sure is nice to be done with shit and just hang back and relax from here on out.  BRING IT.


December 15, 2012

End of the World.

Well folks, we're a less than a week away from the supposed big day - the End of the World.  Although the Mayans were clearly an astute group, I was never convinced that what they left behind signifies that the world will cease to exist come next Friday.  And I think it goes without saying that I don't buy all that Bible apocalypse crap.  I will say, though, that the events that are happening around the world are at least making it interesting as we approach this date.  Earthquakes have picked up as of late, and some sizeable ones to boot - including one centered right around Fukushima.  Volcanoes that have sat quiet for decades are coming to life.  There have been deadly cyclones, frankenstorms, immense snowstorms, and continued droughts.  Unexplained mystery sounds, hums, and big booms heard around the world have gradually increased as the year has gone on.  A giant Louisiana sinkhole continues to get bigger as it sits on top of propane and butane pipelines.  Other random sinkholes have showed up all over the U.S. and the world.  There have been a huge number of animal and marine life kills throughout the year. I could go on, but you get my drift.

Despite all that craziness, I still don't believe the world is coming to an end.  But I do believe something is happening.  At the very least the Earth is clearly changing, seemingly due to things us humans are doing to it, and I don't like the looks of where things are headed.  I often feel like we are one gigantic disaster away from complete chaos and financial ruin in this country.  If that Louisiana sinkhole would happen to blow, it would be devastating and have enormous repercussions.  If the New Madrid would see the Big One, it would be catastrophic destruction that would impact the entire U.S.  If Japan would get another giant quake, that could be the end of Fukushima and all that radiation will float right on over to California.  In fact, it could be the end of Japan altogether, which I worry might simply fall into the water and disappear.

Anyway, I worry.  Not about the End of the World, which frankly, would be much easier to accept.  I worry about being around to witness whatever is yet to happen.  The Earth changes, the economic woes, the increasing lack of regard humans have for one another.  It all adds up to bad news.  I read a very interesting article in Rolling Stone the other day that has some relation to all of this babble, if you have any time on your hands.  It's very interesting.

Despite the grim reality of the state of things, it has been sorta fun having this impending 12/21/12 doomsday theory lingering, and I will miss it.  No more mildly humorous End of the World references. No more fun to be had forcing correlations between the seemingly increasing number of weird events with the end of our existence.  And thank goodness, no more ridiculous reality TV shows about people who are prepping for the end.  At least it's been interesting, thanks to the Earth/world's cooperation.  This was much more fun than Y2K.

December 1, 2012

What Could've Been.

Jimi Hendrix would've turn 70 years old this week.  All week I've been wondering what more Jimi might've given us if he hadn't died at 27.  It's something I've pondered many times in my life.  You see, I have somewhat of an obsession with Jimi Hendrix.  Not sure if I've shared that before.  Hold onto your hats for a moment because this is probably going to sound weird...but...I feel a sort of connection to Jimi.  As if I knew him.  As if he knew me.  It's hard to explain.  I've wondered if maybe I knew him in some capacity in another life (yes, I believe in multiple lives but that is another conversation I guess I will now have to have with you all another day).  That's the only theory I've come up with to potentially explain this craziness.
In grade school I took my brother's Jimi Hendrix Experience album so many times he finally bought me my own for Christmas one year.  I fully immersed myself in his music in high school, though, and it was at that point that I realized the weird connection I felt that had begun many years before.  I've read countless books on Jimi.  I've watched just about every performance there is to watch, listened to just about every interview, and have seen all the various documentaries.  I can't get enough.  Sometime in the late 1990's I had a dream that I went to see Jimi perform live.  It was a really vivid dream at the time, although the details are starting to fade enough that I'm a bit sad about it.  Unlike most dreams, there was nothing strange or out of place in this dream at all, except that the venue was unfamiliar and the fact that a dead guy was playing.  But in my dream he wasn't dead, he was still alive so it didn't seem weird even though it took place in present time, and he sounded fucking incredible and I literally witnessed an entire concert from beginning to end.  Complete with a packed house, people grooving to the music, colored stage lights, fog machine, etc.  It was so real.  It was like any other concert I go to today.  I remember how much I was enjoying myself and recognizing that I was a lucky sonofabitch to be watching Jimi Hendrix perform.  I remember making a point to be fully present, absorbing every sight and sound that I could, knowing it was special.  When the concert was over, so was my dream.  I awoke immediately, and I wanted to think that what just occurred was more than a dream.  It felt prophetic in a way, like Jimi visited me.  Strangely, about 10 years later I was chatting with a good friend who is a musician and very much appreciates Hendrix.  We were listening to Jimi and chatting about him, when my friend revealed that he once had a dream that he saw a complete Jimi Hendrix concert.  I about shit my pants.  It was pretty much the exact same dream.  And we both felt like we were there.  Like it was real.  It was a weird moment of bonding for us, because we understood and believed each other, even though we both knew it sounded crazy.  To this day, every so often one of us will randomly high-five the other and say, "We saw Jimi!".  That's all that needs to be said.  It was fucking awesome, and I would give anything to have a repeat performance, but I know it will never happen.  That's ok, I knew how lucky I was at the time, which I think is why there was such a conscious effort to make sure I soaked in everything.

Jimi is the epitome of a Cool Cat.  That guy just exuded coolness all over the fucking place, but not because he was trying to, because he just WAS.  Who else could've gotten away with those crazy outfits of his?  No one but Jimi.  He was insanely talented and so unique there will never be another like him, but it's the overall package that really sets him apart.  And when I say package I'm not talking about his peen, despite rumors that it was HUGE and that he "broke the mold".  I'm talking about the person Jimi was.  The cool cat, the gentle soul, the fashionable-by-accident trend setter, the peacemonger, the reluctant introvert, the humble genius.  As hard as I try, I cannot fathom what he might've accomplished musically if he lived to 70.  It would've blown our minds.  We were robbed, but what we were left with is nothing to sneeze at, as my granny would say.

Following is an interview Jimi gave in September 1969, almost a year before he died.  Even his voice is cool.  So soothing it just sucks you right in and makes you want to hear what he's saying.  And boy, did he have things to say.  So many words of wisdom.  His descriptions of his music are almost poetic at times.  His vision for music festivals are the norm today.  He never holds back from stating his opinion, but in such an eloquent, delicate manner without a hint of anger.  Cool, I say.  There is no better way to describe the guy.  I just love his reasoning behind his version of "The Star-Spangled Banner".