Sunday, March 31, 2019

it's pronounced "Buddha-jedge"

If you haven't gotten to know Democrat Pete Buttigieg (pronounced "Buddha-jedge" ˈbuːtɪdʒɛdʒ), there's a Wikipedia writeup on him here. In a field of over twenty Democrats who are all looking to take on Donald Trump during next year's election, Buttigieg is trying his best to make a name for himself. Salient facts: he's 37, has served in intelligence in the US Navy Reserve, and was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. He served two terms as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and is now throwing his hat in the ring to run for US president in 2020. He is gay and married, and he's multilingual, apparently possessing competence in Norwegian, French, Spanish Italian, Maltese, Arabic, and Dari. His policy proposals are in line with most of the usual Democrat platform: universal health care, background checks for guns, environmental protection, and even marijuana legalization. All in all, I'd say there's little there to distinguish him from the crowd, and the fact that he looks like Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory" doesn't help. Neither does his campaign poster, which features a lone red star.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

"Creed 2": review

I wasn't sure what to think when the marketing for 2018's "Creed II" began. I saw that the movie was going to be about the return of Rocky's old nemesis, Ivan Drago, and this looked interesting because Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Drago (Dolph Lundgren) are old men now, so we probably wouldn't be seeing a geezer fight à la "Grudge Match." The preview trailers told us that Drago has a bruiser of a son named Viktor (Florian Munteanu), who is gunning for Rocky's protégé Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), so "Creed II" was shaping up to be a recapitulation of, or at least a spiritual successor to, "Rocky IV."

Well, it was and it wasn't. The new film follows the karmic path of the repercussions of "Rocky IV," with Viktor having been raised to be aggressive and hateful thanks to the bitterness he inherited from his debased father Ivan. Adonis is also mindful that Ivan is the man who killed his father in the ring, and of course, Rocky still feels echoes from the death of his best friend, and from his own boxing match with Ivan. As Rocky tells Adonis at one point in reference to the massive Russian, "He broke things in me that ain't never been fixed."

But "Creed II" is more than a mere recap of the story arc of "Rocky IV." It's a movie that is very much about family. Adonis is still wrestling with the burden of his legacy as the son of a world-champion fighter. He's also at a shaky point in his relationship with Rocky, whom he views as a father figure and mentor, but also as someone who may be holding him back from something bigger (in this case, that "something bigger" is a fight against young Viktor Drago). Adonis also feels the pull of family: his lady love Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson) is pregnant and wants to move from Philly to Los Angeles for reasons of both career and family.

When the movie opens, Adonis has recovered from his loss in the previous film to become the new WBC World Heavyweight champion. He and Bianca toy with the idea of moving west to L.A., but it's only when Rocky decides not to help Adonis train for a fight against Viktor that Adonis commits to moving west, leaving Rocky and Philadelphia behind. Now bereft of Rocky's help, Adonis preps for a fight against Viktor and, predictably, gets his ass handed to him, suffering multiple fractures and organ damage. The only thing that saves Adonis from losing his champion status is an illegal punch by Viktor, delivered while Adonis is still down. Adonis is recovering in the hospital, a literally broken man, when his adoptive mother Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) asks Rocky to come west and see Adonis.

"Creed II" is a very good movie, but its story arc is very predictable. By the time we get to the point in the narrative described above, you can guess that the movie will switch to "redemption/comeback" mode, which is indeed what happens. It's not all predictable, though: one of the best touches in "Creed II"—and it's quietly done—is how both Rocky and Rocky's rival from the first movie, trainer Tony "Little Duke" Evers, put aside their differences and work together to get Adonis back into shape. There is, as you can imagine, the standard training montage, but the stress is on getting Adonis to approach this fight more the way Rocky approached his own fights. Let's talk about that for a sec.

Rocky's method, in pretty much every sequel to the 1976 original, is essentially the rope-a-dope method popularized by the savvy Muhammad Ali: take a massive pounding for the first two-thirds of the fight, convince your opponent of your weakness, then unleash the beast and come out swinging with titanic body blows, followed eventually by head blows, in the final third of the fight. Adonis, despite being classed as a heavyweight (actor Michael B. Jordan is surely muscular enough to have some mass on him), has a smaller stature than Rocky, so asking Adonis to fight like Rocky places a heavy demand on the young man. The movie is smart enough to show that Adonis can't quite take the punishment that Rocky, in his heyday, could: in the rematch between Adonis and Viktor, Viktor breaks several of Adonis' ribs. But Adonis, channeling Muhammad Ali, is relying on the notion that Viktor is channeling Mike Tyson—a boxer who wasn't known for his technique but was known, instead, for his speed, his brutal strength, and his quick victories before getting close to the tenth round. To beat Viktor Drago, you have to outlast the initial storm, and once the storm blows itself out, you summon your own hurricane and call up the reserves of your own brute strength.

I won't give away the ending, here, although you can doubtless guess it. I will say that, overall, "Creed II" was a fine, watchable film that stepped away from a relentless focus on boxing to give us dimensional characters who all spent much of the movie exploring the bonds of family. While the movie was mostly predictable, it had heart, so I give it credit for doing a better job than many sequels do when it comes to depth of feeling. I can't, however, imagine where the Creed series might go from here, so along with other movie critics, I'd have to beg the studios not to make a third Creed movie. Two movies are enough. No need to jump the shark.

One last remark: I did think about how I'd have approached this story had I been a screenwriter and/or the director. I think I would have portrayed Ivan Drago differently: the Drago we meet in "Creed II" is bitter and hardened, but not truly humbled. He's spent years looking for some sort of comeback, some way to regain his original fame and honor. I think I'd have written a different story—one in which Drago has been humbled by his loss, perhaps even disillusioned about life in post-Soviet Russia. He still loves boxing and still possesses his original rigid self-discipline, but he doesn't train his son to be a vengeful extension of himself: he trains him to love boxing as much as he, Ivan, always has. In my version of the story, there'd be the possibility of a tentative friendship, or at least of a stoic reconciliation, between Rocky and Ivan Drago. There might even be a moment in which Drago acknowledges to Adonis that Apollo Creed was a great fighter, and that Drago is now sorry for having killed Apollo. Adonis would then have the choice of either forgiving Ivan or hating him, and Adonis' own bitterness might lead to enmity between Adonis and Viktor, maybe during a moment in which Adonis tries to take a swing at Ivan, with both Rocky and Viktor trying to stop him. I guess I'm thinking along these lines because "Creed II" does provide a moment in which Ivan Drago finds Rocky in Rocky's restaurant, and the two sit down for a tense talk after years of being apart. It's actually a well-done scene by director Steven Caple, Jr., but it left me wanting more. There was some lost potential, there.

good video essay on the badness of modern Chinese cinema

Tim Pool re: radicalization via YouTube

A liberal colleague at work recently went on a tear about how YouTube is a cesspit for rightward radicalization. I intuitively understood this to be bullshit, but since I haven't done the research, I had no argument to make. Along comes Tim Pool with actual data:

To my surprise, this liberal colleague turned out to have a journalism background. You'd think that he'd have done some research before voicing his conspiracy theory, but no. Come to think of it, it's not that surprising that journalists don't do research.

food pics, 3/29/19

The first four images below are of the Guksu Jeonmun restaurant that I visited for lunch on Friday. Good atmosphere, friendly service, decent—if not spectacular—food, and a menu with enough variety to make me want to come back and explore it. The final two images—also not spectacular—are of my chocolate tapioca pudding.

Up first: a wide shot of my meal. I took the simple path and ordered a straightforward bibim guksu as well as something modestly billed as "gogi mandu," which turned out to be gigantic. Sides were kept simple, and in the spirit of the sides you'd find at a Japanese-ish donggaseu-jip. While this gives the place a limited feel, I also think it shows a focused devotion to a few menu items done well.

A closeup of the bibim guksu (spicy noodles):

And now, the gogi mandu (meat dumplings):

My final in-restaurant shot, below, is of the menu. If you read Korean, you can see why I'm interested in coming back a few more times: there's plenty here to try. In the upper-left sector, with prices ranging from W9500 to W8500, you've got the various gukbap dishes. Guk means "soup," and bap means "rice." That's not as boring as it sounds because it's not simply a matter of dumping rice into soup and calling it gukbap. The actual soup is cooked in the manner of a stew, and the rice is added early. As the rice cooks, it evolves into an almost-porridge, and it's this confluence of turning-into-stew and turning-into-porridge that gives gukbap its particular charm. The three menu items on offer are a sirloin (deungshim) gukbap, a marbled-beef (chadolbagi) gukbap, and what I assume is a beef-belly cut (u sangyeop gukbap is literally "beef 3-layer soup-rice") gukbap.

The menu's lower-left sector, with items ranging in price from W9000 to W13000, is mostly about jeon (rhymes with "one," not with "peon"), which are savory Korean-style pancakes. The one jeon that caught my eye was the potato-vegetable pancake; I'll definitely have to come back for that one.

The menu's lower-right sector also has a couple items I'm keen to try. First up, for W15000, is the chadol dubu kimchi, or marbled-beef tofu kimchi, which sounds absolutely delightful. Next up, for W18000, is the golbaengi muchim, which is fat snails* mixed with vegetables and a somewhat sweet, somewhat spicy sauce. This, as my friend Charles noted four years ago, normally goes with fried chicken and beer.

The menu's upper-right sector, with only three items, showcases the three guksu (noodle) options available to you. Bibim guksu (the first item) is what I ordered. The word bibim simply means "mixed," but in the culinary context, it strongly implies "spicy" because a peppery sauce is mixed with other ingredients. I do find it a bit ironic that the restaurant is called Guksu Jeonmun (Noodle Specialty), but the guksu turns out to be in the minority on the actual bill of fare—only three of seventeen items.

And here's that bill of fare:

Next up: a deep dive into chocolate tapioca. It tasted fantastic, but it didn't look like anything more than a brown form of white tapioca pudding. I was bizarrely proud of having followed the instructions better this time around. It was nice not to have a pudding that stared at me.

And an even closer view:

Next week, I'll be visiting the Vietnamese place in our building's basement. For such a tucked-away restaurant, that place looked rather high-class. We'll soon see whether it is. Stay tuned.

*Google Translate renders golbaengi as "whelk," which makes my brow furrow in confusion. I normally think of whelks as huge—certainly much bigger than the snails you get in a can, which are about the size of jumbo shrimp—but when I did a Google search just now, I discovered that whelks come in all sorts of sizes, so maybe golbaengi really does mean "whelk." Hm. It's just that, when I was a kid and wanted to be a marine biologist, my first-ever encounter with whelks was in a British encyclopedia of living things (the Funk & Wagnalls Wildlife Encyclopedia), and one of the entries in that encyclopedia was for the so-called "left-handed whelk." Here—see for yourself why I ended up thinking whelks were huge. Anyway, I thought golbaengi was a generic term for "sea snail." Turns out that the word whelk is also a generic term applied to a diverse range of sea snails, so maybe I wasn't so wrong to think what I thought, and maybe "whelk" isn't a bad translation after all.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Tim Pool on the Green New Deal fiasco

The level of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's retardation is high.


My title means I'm tired, not that I defecated.

We made the big move to our new office. As you can imagine, most of the move went smoothly, and it was tiring, but there were some kinks that will have to be dealt with over the coming days. Chief among these kinks is the fact that the rickety laser printer that we're sharing isn't connecting to our computers properly (we've never used this printer before). A new printer is coming, as well as—we think—the giant photocopier from our now-previous office in the Cheongshil Building. For the moment, whenever we send a document to the printer to be printed, we have to walk over to the printer and hit the "OK" button for our job to go through. It's dumb and a waste of time, but that's where things stand for the moment. The situation will improve soon, I'm sure.

The new layout in our much smaller office gives us no privacy: our desks are all rotated towards the room's walls, so a simple swivel of the head is enough to spy on what a coworker is doing. Not that I'm the least bit interested in what a coworker might be doing, but my inner introvert is rebelling against the current configuration. Until today, I've enjoyed blissful privacy behind the walls of my cubicle; now, by contrast, I feel naked.

But there are perks to being one building over. Our new building, called the Classia, has a huge and sparkling grocery in its basement, at the B1 level. The place is magnificent; it even serves fried food like donggaseu (fried pork cutlet) and whole fried chicken. The grocery will be my go-to place from now on; it makes for convenient shopping. That same floor also has a couple restaurants, including a nice Vietnamese place and a down-home Korean-style noodle eatery with the generic name Guksu Jeonmun (roughly, "noodle specialty"). I'll be trying those places out over the following week for sure.

So the news isn't all bad, but things aren't perfect, either. For myself, my work station is good to go; I don't actually need to print anything out for my current project, which is being done entirely on Google Docs. Life can continue as before, just in a different setting. And this, Dear Reader, is my new normal.

I'm dead tired, and I'm heading back to my place now.

a tale of two food processors

I got the brand name of my shitty Korean food processor wrong the last time I wrote about it. I think I called it "HiBrand," but in fact, it's "HiMade." The thing is a piece of garbage; that's what you get when you shell out $130 for an unknown brand of food processor that comes with no special features and is, in fact, a pain in the ass to use. One problem: removal of the blade isn't simple; there's actually a screw involved. You unscrew the screw, then pull the blade out, and the screw represents yet another thing you need to wash. Second annoyance: the processor's bowl is made of metal, with only a sliver of transparent plastic providing the home cook with a grudging view of what's happening while the blade spins. Final annoyance, which I wrote about before: the motor heats up after only three minutes of use. The unpleasant, acrid smell of burning circuitry was almost nauseating, so there's no way I'm regifting this machine for some other, unsuspecting victim. No: to the trash it goes, and let that be a lesson to me—never buy food processors from brand names I don't recognize.

So what I did was search around for a Cuisinart since that's what I used to have in the States. Found a nice one on GMarket and tried to order it... but I received a cancellation notification because someone forgot to update the website to note the machine wasn't in stock. So I went to Amazon and ordered one from the States. With shipping costing about $110, I knew this would be an expensive investment, but also a worthwhile one. The Cuisinart arrived three days ago, and it came with an array of accessories, unlike my Korean abortion. There was the standard blade, plus the slicer blade, and the grater blade, not to mention the dough blade... and with this particular model, there was also a heavy, mean-looking dicer blade, which I'm now itching to try out.

Here's a look at both of my machines, with the ironically named HiMade on the left:

Guess which one is going downstairs to the garbage area. With appliances, furniture, and other unwieldy items, we residents have to pay the B1-level security guard a small trash-disposal fee because special items get taken out by a special truck. For my device, this fee will probably be around $5, but once the low-born HiMade is gone, that'll free up storage space for the Cuisinart. A closer look at the turd:

Next, a look inside. Note the star-shaped screw on top of the blade. Unscrewing it requires turning it clockwise (it's "righty-loosey" instead of "lefty-loosey" for whatever reason), which is also annoying. The screw is long, and it looks as if it might rust easily. Screwing and unscrewing the blade feels like a waste of time, not to mention a bit primitive. Give me a plain ol' snap-tight blade, and I'm good to go. Here's the inside:

A look at the entire Cuisinart set:

The cost, on Amazon, for the above set—not including shipping—was $170. Just a few dollars more than what I'd paid for the HiMade machine, and I got a complete set of accessories along with the machine itself. Had it not been for shipping costs, the Cuisinart would easily have been a much more economical purchase. Given the Cuisinart's quality, though, I still think I've done well by getting this machine. I keep wondering what moved me to buy an unknown Korean brand; God knows I've had bad luck with doing that in the past. This isn't to say that all Korean products are shite: on the contrary, well-known Korean brands are usually associated with great products, like my Samsung cell phone, which I've owned since 2013, and which still works almost perfectly. But going out on a limb and buying something from a no-name company is probably a bad idea. I should've listened to the angel on my shoulder.

Below: my Cuisinart's user manual and a scraper spatula for dealing with flung food. Inside the plastic container is the dicer blade I referred to earlier (it's pictured on the manual):

A closeup of the main Cuisinart, with a mixing bowl that contains a mini-bowl within it, plus an adjustable-width feeder that includes modules you can fill with oil. Pour the oil in, and the tiny hole at the bottom allows the oil to trickle out at a slow rate, which gives you slow, steady mixing. Here's that closeup:

Finally, a shot of the accessories that come with the machine, plus the container into which they can be organized. I used to have almost exactly this machine back home, and I can't wait to try this one out. Bye bye, HiMade and your smoking innards! Fie! Begone!

ADDENDUM: the only hitch, with the Cuisinart, is that it's American, so it's got a 110-volt plug—the wrong shape for my European-style 220-volt plugs here in Seoul. Not to worry: I have a "down" transformer that converts 220 to 110 and also has US-style sockets on its face. So we're good... as long as I'm okay with dragging the processor over to my computer desk. Yeah, I might end up buying a second transformer to put in the kitchenette.

tapioca: improved

You'll recall the previous batch of tapioca pudding, which came out looking like a thousand-eyed horror erupting out of Satan's pants. This time around, I soaked the tapioca pearls for thirty minutes in warm water, per the instructions listed on the bag of tapioca. Last time around, I didn't do any soaking because the recipe called for "quick cooking" tapioca. I assumed the pearls—which weren't of the quick-cooking variety—would soften during the regular cooking time. They did, but only sort of, and the result was a mass of whiteheads.

This time was different. Behold:

No whiteheads. Nothing but blessed translucence.

Pre-soaking made all the difference in the world, and the resulting pudding actually tasted better, along with having a better, perfectly non-gritty texture. I've learned my lesson.

I made this second batch of tapioca because I had wanted to make chocolate tapioca. I did make the dessert, but not according to any recipe: instead, I simply used the Force and dumped in some Nutella and a whole 74% cacao bar of dark chocolate. (I had wanted to use Lindt truffles, but I couldn't find them in time.) The combination proved marvelous, and it was a hit at the office. I'll provide you with a pic of the chocolate tapioca soon.

Tim Pool on Avi Yemini and Jim Jefferies

A measured take from Tim Pool re: the whole Avi Yemini/Jim Jefferies mess:

I agree with Pool's point that this isn't a question of whether Jim Jefferies was too offensive. It is, rather, about Jefferies's hypocrisy in posing as pro-Muslim while being virulently anti-Muslim when he thinks the cameras aren't rolling. Hypocrisy, and a lack of balls: the guy is a yellow-bellied coward. I don't seriously wish death upon Jefferies, but I do think it would be funny if a pissed-off imam decided to issue a fatwa calling for Jefferies's head. The Aussie comic would get a real taste of what it's like to be Salman Rushdie.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Orangina vs. Coke: a flabbergasting discovery

Sometimes, it pays to run the numbers.

Orangina, per 10 fl. oz. (283.495 g)
      Carbohydrate: 32 g
      Sugar: 31 g
      Calories: 130

Coca Cola, per 100 g
      Total Carbohydrate: 10 g
      Sugar: 9 g
      Calories: 38

Orangina, per 100 g (converted from above)
      Carbohydrate: 11.3 g
      Sugar: 10.9 g
      Calories: 45.86
Believe it or not, even though France's Orangina is nowhere near as sweet as the United States' Coca Cola, Orangina beats Coke when it comes to overall carbs, amount of sugar, and calories per 100 grams. Incroyable! It's actually better for you (or slightly less worse) to drink Coke!

Jussie Smollett escapes(?) justice

Tim Pool gives us the Jussie Smollett update. Pool notes that all charges were dropped against Smollett, which the actor is spinning as an exoneration. But the dropping of charges was in exchange for community service, i.e., in reality, an oblique admission of guilt. Smollett, of course, maintains his innocence despite mounds of evidence that he's been lying (and still is). The Chicago police, who are incensed by the way affairs have turned, say they have more evidence of Smollett's guilt to offer in court... but it looks as if that's not going to happen. Not locally, anyway, but Pool says that there's still a federal investigation going on, so Smollett's not out of the woods yet.

I just saw that Pool has put out another Smollett-related video. The vid's title isn't very promising: "How Did Jussie Smollett Get ALL Charges Dropped??! Did Police BOTCH this Case?!" I haven't watched the video yet, but I'm embedding it all the same:

I find it funny that corrupt Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling the charge-dropping "a whitewash of justice." I call it Chicago politics, which has been dirty since at least the time of Al Capone. Tim Pool's theory is that Smollett's former lawyer is currently tied to the Michael Avenatti case, so someone tapped someone on the shoulder.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

how not to perform a scientific experiment

My #3 Ajumma just linked me to this video, which purports to test the effectiveness of several face masks that are on the market. I was mentally comparing this video to how the Mythbusters would test the same scenario, and as a result, I weighed this video and found it very, very much wanting. I can easily write up a list of at least twenty flaws with the TV segment's "methodology," if that term even applies here. I'm sure you can come up with your own lists, so have at it in the comments section if you wish.

the hits just keep on coming

Michael Avenatti, who gained fame/infamy as the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, is now in jail—another victim of the Trump Effect or, as Tim Pool is calling it, the Trump Curse:

And this may be one of my favorite Jon Miller videos yet. Watch him gloat, but hear his words because he offers an excellent summary of all the malfeasance from the left:

PJW chimes in

Paul Joseph Watson offers his take on the Russian-collusion conspiracy theory:

Styx and Tim Pool on the Mueller report

Monday, March 25, 2019

the memes keep rolling in

More memes via Bill Keezer!

I disagree, though, with the following meme's contention that the first cookie contains "too much butter." No, that cookie looks just right to me: a perfect chocolate chip cookie is thin and not cake-y. It's got a crunchy outer edge and a soft, gooey middle. That's perfection.

Below, I question the grammar. "Why is" should be "Why are" because the sentence is basically saying, "Why are X and Y...?" Some people just don't get subject-verb agreement.

I laughed at the following meme more than I should have.

It's recently come out that HRC & Co. put forth the false Russia narrative within days of losing the 2016 election as a way for HRC to avoid taking responsibility for her loss. And half the country got suckered into believing this horseshit. Now, of course, the believers have dug themselves in too deep to do anything other than double down. There won't be any admissions of a mistake, nor any signs of contrition. There will simply be the same mad hatred we've seen for two damn years. Two years and 30 million taxpayer dollars—all for a fucking nothingburger. This is Everest-scale twattage. And it's not done, either: as I posted earlier, the Democrats plan to subpoena Mueller, and probably anyone else with links to the probe. I can guess the Dems' strategy: get people to re-testify, then check their new testimony against whatever's in the report to see whether any inconsistencies can be found. Suck up more taxpayer money in the process. The only salutary effect I can see is: more and more people are becoming aware that this is how the Dems plan to conduct themselves until the 2020 election, which pretty much ensures that Trump will win a second term by a significantly larger electoral-vote margin than he won the first time around. So, yeah: go to it, guys. Let me cheer you on as you continue the witch hunt.

and on a more life-affirming note...

It's not all gloom and doom and political conflict here at the Hairy Chasms. Here are some videos that might make you go "Wow!" and even restore, just a little, your faith in humanity.

First up: a young dude with big plans to rid our oceans of waste plastic:

Next: a video about animals reacting to music. My only bone to pick is when they show Paul McCartney's concert: I don't think the insects there are reacting to music so much as to light. Otherwise, enjoy... especially the final scene in which the bird reacts to Céline Dion:

Traditional Irish dancing is simultaneously thrilling and a bit awkward, what with the insistence on keeping one's upper body rigid. (This is what got Michael "Lord of the Dance" Flatley in trouble with traditionalists: he allowed his troupe to move their arms.) This group, however, begins with an American country hoe-down style of foot-stomping and clapping before switching to more traditional moves. You'll also notice that the ladies seem, overall, better than the gents at keeping their arms straight.

Lastly, we've got Michelle Steilen, who's bringing back roller skating to a 70s beat. There used to be a blogger who went by the moniker "Skippy Stalin," and whenever he wrote one of his randier posts, he'd say things like, "Her ass spoke to me in a language only I could understand." That's about how I felt while watching this video. I'd follow that ass anywhere.

swimming in the Pool

I'm really liking this guy, Tim Pool. Here are two more of his vids regarding the Mueller report and leftie denial:

His points about reasonable leftists and insane leftists are well taken.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

sigh... I've lost all respect for Jim Jefferies

I already knew that Aussie comedian Jim Jefferies, who has had his own humorous talk show for a while, tilted significantly leftward in his politics. I don't begrudge him his point of view, even if I don't agree with much that he says. Alas, the video below by Avi Yemini—a Jewish online personality, former soldier (sniper), fitness coach, and krav maga trainer—shows how Jim Jefferies edited his interview with Yemini in such a way as to twist Yemini's words and assassinate his character. Yemini's video also exposes Jefferies's pious hypocrisy: the comedian seems to be very pro-Islam in front of the camera, but when he thinks the cameras are off, he has no trouble speaking insultingly about Islam. I used to like Jefferies a lot, despite his political point of view, because I admired his seeming truthfulness and sincerity. Either fame has gotten to his head and curdled his heart, or he was always a hypocritical bastard from the beginning. Neither alternative is pleasant to contemplate. What a disappointment ol' Jim turned out to be.

doing what must be done

With our team moving to the next building over, and into a much smaller office, I have no choice but to start shipping most of my kitchen-related gear at the office to my apartment, where it will simply have to wait in stasis until, at some undetermined point in the future, I find myself back in a large office and once again able to serve large-scale meals to a horde of hungry people.

So that's how I'm spending my afternoon and evening today: shuttling back and forth from my place to my office, ferrying out the bulk of my possessions so as to make the actual move less difficult. When I stop sometime tonight (there'll be more to do tomorrow), I'll chow down on leftover baked beans, leftover cole slaw... and maybe some fresh-made mashed potatoes.

taking some advice

My buddy Charles read my bellyaching about my failed potatoes, and he recommended turning them into a mash, which is a brilliant solution. I currently have a ton of butter, a full container of heavy cream, and enough herbs, spices, and seasonings to flavor up a whole cauldron of dead babies, so I might be doing mashed potatoes tonight. Or smashed potatoes. Or some distant cousin of bubble and squeak.

Styx's "I told you so" re: the Mueller probe


Tim Pool also chimes in:

Jon Miller reads his hate mail again

One of the best things about hate-mail videos is how they expose the psychology of the haters. In the video below, conservative commentator Jon Miller once again reads off some of his hate mail, which is presumably from angry lefties who can't stand him... yet who seem to watch him, anyway. These haters merely add evidence to the argument that the left has its own racism and homophobia (and grammar/spelling/mechanics) problem.

in the aftermath

I slept a long, long time on Saturday. Didn't get out of bed until around 3 p.m. Had myself a late lunch. I've got enough leftovers to last me a few meals, i.e., a few days. This is good.

I started off by slaughtering the remains of the brisket. Cut everything up Korean-style, reheated the meat, then served it to myself, Korean-style, with a bit of chimichurri as my dipping sauce. Most excellent, and a meal that would have made Dr. Atkins proud.

Slept again for a couple hours, from about 8 to 10 p.m. Got up, went downstairs to the building's grocery, and bought myself several sweet drinks and snacks that would have made Dr. Atkins very sad. On impulse, I chose a weird-looking drink that had caught my eye months ago, but which I had tried to ignore up to now:

Despite the word "basil" being prominently displayed on the drink's front, the basil seeds had no taste whatsoever: I could only guess they were there purely for texture, floating in suspension in part because each seed was surrounded by a clear, bouncy, gelatinous layer. This wasn't so much about tasting the seeds as it was about feeling them—the sort of experience Koreans apparently delight in: Koreans seem to love drinks that you can chew, i.e., drinks with chewable elements in them. This explains the popularity of bubble tea in Korea—a fad that I assume has played itself out in the States by now. Other chewable drinks found in Korea include aloe juice with chunks of aloe; orange-pulp juice with inflated, blister-like bits of orange pulp; yuja-cha, a citron-marmalade "tea" with sugary rind in it; the CocoPalm drinks with gelatinous bits of something that's supposed to be coconut but isn't, etc.

The drink was labeled as grape-flavored, but it turned out to be generically bland. I'm not sure a person would instantly think "grape!" upon drinking this drink. It was okay, as drinks go, but nothing spectacular. The way the drink looks is, sadly, its only true gimmick.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

the Last Supper

The following pics of yesterday's Friday meal represent the end of an era. Our R&D team got word that, because of construction happening in our office, we're going to have to move one building over to a new, much smaller office. I had a chance to check out the new office, and its size reminds me of the space we had back in the 2015-17 period, when only three of us worked in the Mido Building. Our staff now has four people thanks to the recent addition of a team member, and installing four work stations in the new place is going to be a bitch. It'll be a tight squeeze, but we'll manage.

Anyway, for me, the upshot is that this spells the end of an era: I won't be hosting any huge luncheons anymore. The new place supposedly has a faux kitchenette reminiscent of the one we currently have: it's "faux" because it's got a counter, cabinets, a fridge, a water dispenser, and a garbage can, but it lacks that most crucial of elements: a damn sink in which to wash dishes. (We do the dishes in the men's room, which just feels unsanitary.) But would this be enough for even small-scale luncheons? I doubt it. So that's pretty much the end of my monthly, large-scale cooking projects. This doesn't signal the end of all cooking, per se: back when we were in the Mido Building, I used to bring food semi-routinely to the office; you may have seen the pictures from that epoch.

For now, though, the major cooking comes to an end, and while I'm generally sad about that, my wallet and bank account are breathing sighs of relief. If ever there was a year in which I shouldn't be making extravagant expenditures, this would be it because I'm trying to pay down my final debt by this November or December (just a reminder: I've gone from being almost $80,000 in debt to having only a final $20-something-thousand to pay off). So perhaps this move to a smaller place is a blessing in disguise. If I do cook anything, I'll be cooking only for four (or maybe for five, if our department's new boss randomly shows up). If I add dieting to that, i.e., a cutting-back on the sheer volume of food I eat, plus a return to walking to work instead of cabbing to work, as I've done lately, I can save hundreds more dollars per month. I haven't done the math yet, but I think the financial picture is about to improve radically.

Back to the meal. Friday's luncheon was meant as a goodbye to two native-speaker staffers, both of whom have been at the Golden Goose for several years. One, an Aussie, will eventually be returning to expat life in China after spending a month just kicking around in Korea and Japan. The other, a South African, will be heading home to South Africa for a bit, then will start a new life in Qatar, a country with air quality just as bad as Seoul's. The South African guy also loves to cook, so for the past couple months, he and I have been talking shop, swapping food photos, and learning from each other.

The meal was basically two meals done in parallel: on one side, we had brisket sandwiches on butter-toasted ciabatta rolls with a chimichurri dip, plus two sides: sweet, smoky baked beans and no-mayo cole slaw. On the other side, Greek-ish gyros with a plethora of toppings: tzatziki, crumbled feta, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and roasted potatoes. The latter turned out horrible (see below), but everyone loved the gyros in general. I got particular praise for the gyro meat, which I had spiced up rather aggressively, and some people even complimented my beginner's naan. In the end, though, people voted the brisket sandwiches the winner of the day. I voted that way, too, despite my love of the gyros, but that was because brisket sandwiches are something I haven't prepared often: this meal was only the second time that I had done them. The chimichurri was essential to the brisket experience, and that turned out perfectly, garnering high praise from all the diners.

This wasn't the largest meal I've ever prepped, but it was one of the most ambitious—a true labor of love. What follows are photos from the prep, plus some pics of the actual service, and some belatedly taken pics of complete sandwiches. Apologies in advance for the pics that came out blurred; I tried to delete blurred pics whenever I saw them, but on occasion, I either forgot to delete or I couldn't tell the level of blurriness because it was hard to judge picture quality in the office's weird lighting. That said, shall we begin?

First pic, below: one kilo of brisket on a rack, in a pan, rubbed with Carolina dry rub, and about to be covered and placed in the oven for a 3.5-hour adventure. I had been racking my brains (pun intended), trying to figure out some sort of rack system to keep the brisket off the bottom of the pan when I realized I had these metal, grid-shaped "hot pads" that I could tuck into the pan. The metal hot pads were slightly too large to sit side by side, but when I made them overlap, the result wasn't tragic at all. Being made of metal themselves, the hot pads had no trouble surviving the raging furnace of the oven.

Beef goes in (with chicken broth on the bottom):

While the brisket was busily metamorphosing in the oven, I turned my attention to the frozen loaves of gyro meat I had made. With the help of a miraculously sharp cleaver given to me by my ex-boss, I was able to slice two kilos of gyro meat into pieces that looked, more or less, like the slices of meat that would come off a restaurant rotisserie. Despite the cleaver's sharpness, the task took a while. Here's a mostly whole loaf before major cutting begins:

Here's a pile of gyro-meat slices:

Here's a wide shot of the completed task:

I decided to use my large griddle (that thing is a godsend for big-scale cooking projects) to fry up the gyro meat. The original intention was to fry some of the meat until crispy, some of the meat until juicy, and to mix the whole—again, so as to simulate the various textures of shaved gyro meat in a real Greek restaurant. My plan didn't work as well as I'd wanted it to, though: I initially overcrowded the pan, which produced lots of water and steam and no real searing. From then on, though, I kept wide spaces between each piece of meat, and results were better. But the pieces varied in size and thickness, so I had to stay on my toes and watch each individual piece as it cooked. If a given piece got burned, I didn't mind: that piece simply became a crispiness-enhancer. Here's the carnage:

Below, the first brisket is done and out of the oven. It doesn't look that pretty, but damn, did it slice well the following day. I cooked one brisket on Thursday night and the other on Friday morning. Reason: the oven was too small to accept two briskets at once. Cooking the two separately meant nearly eight hours of oven time, which is another reason why I divided the work up as I did. Had I cooked both briskets at night, I'd have been up all night, with no time for sleep at all.


The roasted potatoes, which I made thanks to a recipe by Serious Eats founder Kenji López-Alt, were actually pretty good when they first came out of the oven. Here's how they looked before time and tragedy took over:

Next up: butter-fried ciabatta, which I let cool before packing:

It's Friday morning. Here's the second brisket:

We're at the office, now, and I've laid out the gyro toppings:

My slaw, now nicely pickled after sitting in the fridge a few days:

About half of my baked beans, microwaved on site:

I broke out a folding table to set up a bread-and-meat station. The idea was that people would come here first, select their option—brisket sandwich or gyro—grab their meat, then head over to the other table for toppings and sides.

Friday evening. The orgy of eating is done. People have been groaning about how full and tired they are, how they don't want to teach and just want to sleep, etc. Music to my ears. Here's a shot of some lonely slices of brisket:

A shot of the leftover gyro meat:

The last two naan flatbreads:

The last two ciabattas (which actually disappeared before I went home):

A belatedly made second brisket sandwich, done up for photographic purposes because I'd forgotten to take pics of my food during the actual meal (my South African colleague sheepishly admitted the same; he, too, had intended to take pics). At a coworker's suggestion, I had left off the BBQ sauce for meal service but kept it on the side as an option. I did this because I agreed that the chimichurri's strong flavor would dominate the sandwich, possibly making the BBQ sauce irrelevant. In the end, though, I added sauce to my own sandwich as a sort of tribute to the brisket slider I had made while at Manimal. The carefully prepared (and very tasty) brisket sarnie:

I went for a food-porn shot:

The day is over, I'm exhausted, and I'm back at my apartment for these remaining shots. What follows is a step-by-step portrayal of how I build a gyro. Start with the naan:

Add tzatziki. I don't like putting tzatziki and feta on top of the gyro because of how it all has a tendency to fall off/out of the sandwich when the piled veggies begin to fall off. Instead, I use gravity as my ally and spread the tzatziki on the bread, then add the feta on top such that the feta becomes "glued" to the sauce. With the meat placed on top of the feta, the problem of runaway cheese is solved. Behold the tzatziki:

And now, the feta:

Meat comes next:

A few hunks of tomato:

A scattering of olives:

And finally, the lettuce:

The about-to-be-bitten shot:

The post-bite shot, which isn't very good:

...and we end this photo essay with the note that I, in my shame, left on top of the potato container, which held those limp, sad potatoes:

It's been fun. I've enjoyed prepping large meals, despite the hard work, the long hours, and the hellish expense. Now, I have to re-paradigm my mind and learn to appreciate how much money I'll be saving by not cooking like this for the foreseeable future. Ah, yes—that was one thing I'd asked about regarding our future: was this move to another building supposed to be temporary or permanent? Thus far, there's been no clear answer. Living without clear answers is par for the course at my company; it's hard to find people who are clearly responsible for the decisions being made about our futures. But maybe that, too, is part of the fun of living in Korea, a most non-linear country if ever there was one.