Friday, October 29, 2010


So T-Rex totally reads my blog. I don't think there's any other way to put it. I emailed the group at Machine of Death to say, 'hey, I want the Kindle version, I bought the book now send me the Kindle version!'.

And Ryan, T-Rex's manager, actually replied and two days later what is T-Rex talking about? Pasta sauce. What was I talking about two days ago? Pizza sauce. So yeah. Obviously I'm a muse by proxy. See, Ryan saw me talkin' about The Sauce and it got in his brain and then he mentioned it to T and, well, done & done. Wow...I'm a muse. Holy shit! I'm T-Rex's muse. I can probably die happy now. Like, right now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In the kitchen

Welcome back to Cooking With The Lights Off, the only show to freely admit that following the recipe isn't really that important and measuring instruments are a waste of money. Today we'll be attempting a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Thinking about visiting the city for A Very Mayer Christmas got my mouth salivating and I didn't want to shell out $65 for the real thing, but how can I let my mouth water for two months, my appetite unsatiated? Conundrum.

Solution: Gather up a thing of flour, some warm water, a little oil (EVOO in this case), approximately some yeast, and a bit of salt. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, add the oil & salt, and start stirring in the flour until it is no longer sticky (TS hint: keep flour on your hands to keep dough from sticking!) Once you've kneaded in enough flour to keep the dough from stealing your wedding ring, cover it with a nostalgic, and in no way sexist, 50's era towel and let rise until it has roughly doubled in size (~45 minutes). While the dough rises you can work on the next part...

The Sauce. Unfortunately we're not talking about the good, top-shelf stuff, we're talking about marinara. Gather up your ingredients, we'll be using tomatoes, onions, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, sugar, black pepper, and garlic powder. You may elect to use different spices and seasonings as long as you have the first three items you'll probably be alright. Probably. Anyway, stir it all together in a sauce pan over some heat, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until you think it's done. (TS hint: 2 medium/smallish tomatoes is probably 1/2 a tomato too much and a little extra sugar wouldn't hurt the congealing process.)

Oh, hey, our dough looks like it's done rising! Pat it down and knead it a few times because playing with our food is the fun part! Grab a smallish handful and toss it back in the bowl - we'll use that as the top - the rest needs to be flattened out to whatever thickness you'd like your crust to be. Grab your lightly oiled cast iron pan and gently press the crust in. (TS hint: Moving a large, flat piece of dough can be a PAIN, roll it once around the rolling pin, and unroll it over the pan to reduce headaches and expletives.)

Now it's time for the fillings. Today we'll be stuffing our pie with Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and an obscene amount of cheese. I'll likely receive a fine from the FCC for showing all that cheese. I probably just earned my blog an 'adult content' tag. Sorry younger readers, you'll have to grow up a little before you can handle this site. So yeah. Throw all those fillings in then grab that piece of dough we left out, flatten it out and place it on top. Now tuck the dough that was hanging over the edge into the edge of the pizza, poke some holes in the top crust to release steam (or don't), slather on some sauce and extra cheese then bake it in the oven until the cheese on top is nice and melty and brown. Let it cool for as long as you can (I lasted about 25 seconds) and enjoy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Post - oh my!

This is going to be a two-parter with the important and time-sensitive stuff in the first part. And the more wistful, dreamy, written-like-three-weeks-ago stuff afterwards.

First of all, there is a book

that you should purchase

but not until October 26th

Sorry, I don't really have a picture for what October 26th looks like. Plus, you guys! I turned October 26th into a link to Amazon where you can purchase the book. I know, I'm a swell guy, you don't owe me anything. Unless you don't buy the book. Then you owe me an explanation. The authors are trying to make it the best-selling book for one day (guess which one!) You can read more from the authors about this little experiment here and here, too! You can also read the comic that inspired it all here.

So that's the first part. Pretty straight forward, but let's recap anyway.
1.) There is a book
2.) People all over the world should buy this book
3.) You are one of those people
4.) You should not buy this book until October 26th
5.) You should still buy this book even if you can't afford it until after October 26th
6.) You should set a reminder on the wall of your cave to buy this book on October 26th

Hey, we made it through the first part! This second part is going to be old hat for most of you apathetic, hipster, news junkies, and yet, I post...

I've finally found something, besides more stuff, to spend my money on this holiday season, and of course, it's probably too expensive. Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity is set for October 30th in Washington D.C..
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity Announcement
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
Unfortunately plane tickets and hotel would run somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 for one person (and ~$750 for two) and I don't have that kind of coin just sitting around nor do I plan on spending that much TOTAL on christmas gifts. So here I sit, refreshing hotwire, kayak, and expedia every 5 minutes. Santa, if you find yourself reading this post before the last Saturday in October, you know what to do. I have been a VERY good boy for the past several years.

Maybe I'll dress like I went to the rally as my halloween costume this year - sorry, authentic Pamplona running with the bulls outfit, you've been replaced.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Reckoning

The day dawned dark and dreary (and with an apparent affinity for alliteration). It was cold and windy and already I was glad I had unearthed my winter coat for this trip - and I was barely above sea level. It was unclear what genius was behind the scheduling of this early AM flight, but I had to give them credit, they were truly diabolical. I was fortunate enough to have enlisted the assistance of my lovely...assistant for a ride to the airport. Without my assistant's...assistance, an alarm of at least an hour and a half earlier would have been necessary, and getting up that early has been shown to cause cancer. I made my way through ticketing and security to my departure gate and warmly greeted my traveling companion. Eagerly we laid out plans for our forty-six hour trip to the Rockies. It would later occur to me, as we waited for my companion's checked luggage, that he did not quite grasp the significance of having ONLY FORTY-SIX HOURS, NO, WE CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!

We were met at the airport by two local gypsies that we counted amongst our friends. I calmly relayed to them how much I was looking forward to the weekend and how well the flight had gone. I should have known they would be in no mood for MY stories as the vicious harpies glowered at me and threatened untold torturous deeds. I cowered in the backseat as their magic caused my seat belt to lock and tighten around my terrified torso. Soon we arrived in the western suburbs of the Mile High city and loaded up on drinks and party snacks (for Super Sunday) and Good Times burgers (for immediate consumption). Little did I know this was simply a ruse to lure me into a false sense of security.

Barely had we arrived at our housing destination than the girls began to discuss, touch, and even comb my hair. This activity should've piqued my suspicion, but my new hobby was pretending to be completely color blind and ignoring any and all red flags (ominous clouds, glowing red, harpy eyes, then niceness and burgers, then feigned interest in the hair). The attention to hairstyle continued and it was combed, pulled, photographed, and even done up into braids under the auspices that it would be "fun". Then it was decided it would be more fun out in the garage. It sounded like a good idea at the time and I obliged. There were cameras and beer and I was drunk on attention.

In my inebriation I was vaguely aware of the danger that lurked on the counter, a primitive pair of needle-nose pliers whose sides had, for whatever reason, been sharpened to form a cutting edge. Again, my new hobby kicked in and I conveniently ignored yet another warning. Shortly thereafter disaster struck:

The massacre continued. There was no hope. The monsters even took pictures.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


January 2010 saw an unusual rash of blizzards across the entire continental U.S., whether it was Snowmaggedon, Snopacolypse, or Snowtorious B.I.G., if you were a fan of winter weather you called it one thing: sweet. Arizona was no exception. Granted what was three feet of snow everywhere else turned into 3 inches of rain in Phoenix, but in Flagstaff it was anywhere between 3 and 6 feet of snow over the second to last week of the month. NAU closed its campus on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I-17 was closed W-F and most of Saturday morning. Snowbowl closed its slopes Friday morning and wouldn't open again until Saturday afternoon and even then only the lower runs. FOX News reported that roughly ten million had died in the storm and at least half of those went out Donner Party style. It was the most snow Arizona had received in a three day span in several decades and a plan was hatched.

The Kahn Man called with a crazy idea; we could spend the night in Flag with friends, rent skis, and hope they opened the rest of the mountain on Sunday. The thought process being that even if they didn't open the rest of the mountain, we'd at least get in some solid skiing and have an entertaining Saturday night in Flagstaff. The call went out to all winter enthusiasts, but only the Spartan decided to join us. This turned out to be an ideal mix as topics of discussion ranged from merkins to education to ejaculate to foreign languages, and why the UP wishes it was actually part of Wisconsin. The group arrived an hour before the rental location closed its doors and were greeted by a friendly operator happy to have someone to talk to as he described his Friday morning skiing in fresh powder up to his armpits. An hour later sees our troupe exit the rental location loaded with skis, boots, poles, helmets, and freshly purchased snow pants and gloves. Another half hour (and several wrong turns later) we were tracking snow into the house on whose couches we would be spending the night. Then we promptly headed for the bars. 2 am sounds the closing bell and finds our heroes in the street walking home, determined to be up by 7 and at the mountain by 8:30 (it opens at 9).

The incessant sound of a cell phone alarm rippled through dreamworld and created enough of a disturbance to pull at least one person off the couch. The time: 7:30. A little late, but there was still time for oatmeal...after cleaning a few mugs out (seriously, there were no bowls to be found - at least, no bowls out of which you could eat cereal, soup, or oatmeal). There also wasn't time to completely heat the water which caused at least two of the campers to complain and stick their breakfast in the microwave thereby allowing radiation to warm their food! We received a call from one of the housemates that had to work on the hill that day around 7:50 and in his words, "we're getting fucking slammed today. We're a mile from the mountain and the road is a parking lot." A flurry of activity and we were out of the house by 8:15. To get to the slopes we would have to take the highway to a small, barely paved road and 8 miles later we would be in the parking lot.

We made it to the highway and - promptly made a wrong turn. Not a big deal, we got GPS! After a few minutes we (no fewer than 4 degrees mind you) figured this out and turned around, total detour time: 15 minutes, maybe. At 9:15 we turned off the highway to a confusing site, cars were going towards Flagstaff with skis and boards on their roofs. Denial began to set in. Maybe they had spent the night in the resort and had to return their gear this morning or had long drives home or were flying out. Or maybe they heard their house was on fire. We turned off the highway, the passenger caught a glimpse of an electronic roadside about a quarter of the mile up the road and since traffic was crawling, the passenger leaned their torso out the window, read the sign, and sat back down, speechless. A few minutes later the trio would arrive at the sign: "Mountain at capacity. Parking lot full." And two employees kindly telling everyone to "GO HOME."

And that, ladies and gentlemens, is Fail Skiing

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2 (per)cents

So the Phoenix City Council has approved (6-3) a 2% sales tax on grocery items (Story). These are items like milk, bread, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. The council indicates that the tax will be used to prevent layoffs of first responders (police and firefighters) and other city workers AND that the tax will sunset after 5 years. The mayor cites a Census study to say the tax will cost a family of four ~$240/year. Food that is purchased with food stamps will NOT be taxed. The tax goes into effect April 1st (are they joking?), but the Council will be holding 15 public budget hearings over the next month to "gather input".

Obviously my knee-jerk reaction is similar to those in the 'comments' section of the article, if not a little less vitriolic. I understand the need to fund the police and fire departments and that this tax will raise roughly 60 million of the necessary $140 million shortfall the city is facing through FY 2011. So in the end, cuts will still have to be made, just not as severe. If I were to attend any of these hearings I would have one two-part question a.) Obviously you're concerned that fewer police on the streets will have a negative impact on the crime rate, how much of a spike in crime do you expect to see if this tax is not enacted and the police department is forced to make sweeping cuts? b.) How much of a spike in crime do you expect to see if this tax IS enacted and makes it harder for people to buy milk, bread, and eggs?

Judging by the comments section of the article other citizens will bring up some equally relevant points like, "Where the hell did all that money from the photo radar zones go" (I'm betting a significant chunk of that goes to the state). And the ever popular "ZOMG. Tax and spend libera-faci-zis! We's gonna vote yallz out!!1one".

Personally I don't have a problem spending an extra 2% on groceries. I do; however, worry about the number of families that ARE out there living on meager wages and not on food stamps (think illegals). For these people an extra $240/yr might well be 2% of their entire income, and I'm never in favor of making it harder to buy daily essentials like milk and bread (and cheese, yes, it IS essential). It just doesn't feel like the City Council has really thought of all the options available to them before approving this tax - but I suppose that's also why it doesn't go into effect until April 1st (seriously?)

I think the only truly ridiculous part of this is the idea that the tax will "sunset" after 5 years. Yeah. Right. The Council argues that they're trying to reduce the $140M they have to cut by the end of FY 2011 (June 30th, 2011), and if that's the case then the tax should sunset after TWO years, not FIVE. If it were truly meant to be a temporary relief then it should expire once it has served it's purpose, and if it turns out the city is still in dire straights in 2012, then re-up the tax for another year. Five years. HA. Ha. ha.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pointless Analysis

First of all - Hello and welcome to the new year at TS! We hope you had a great 2009 and are looking forward to all the neat stuff that is sure to happen in 2010; two trips to Denver in February, a trip to Portugal, continuing to learn fun languages like French, Hungarian, Portuguese, and English, and hopefully a new job on a new continent (or at least a new state, with mountains, and skiing, and a bunch of friends that are already there...) Anyway, on with the show!

As promised, be prepared for the most in-depth look at my grocery spending that you never wanted.

A couple notes:
1.) This is my grocery spending only. It does not include restaurants, convenience stores, bars, or the ten bucks the mall charged to let me sit on Santa's lap. Basically this is all the money I spent at Safeway and AJ's in 2009 (Safeway ~95%, AJ's <5%). Yes, I still have all the receipts. No, I'm not going to scan each of the in individually. You are welcome by anytime to peruse them.

2.) Some people have expressed surprise that I spend <$200 a month. Partially, I imagine, due to my reputation to spend that much a week on beer. That might have been true of 2007 or 2008 me, but 2009 me bought beer from the store on perhaps 4 occasions. '09 Me opted for the $7 bottle of Vitali vodka and whatever chaser/mixer might be lying around the apartment (mustard, relish, and mayo qualify as chasers; soy sauce, cottage cheese, and Girl Scout cookies-Thin Mints count as mixers). What can I say, it was a fun year? I finished grad school?

So, onto the numbers and summaries! (raw data here)

On the year I spent $1,902.73 and saved $919.22. May and December were the only months I spent more than $200 (see graph below). Sunday was far and away the busiest day with 20 visits and $530 spent followed by Friday at 11/$331 and Saturday 10/$280. Woah, cue suspenseful music - I do my shopping on the weekend. Something interesting though, the most expensive average trip was Thursday when I spent an average of $32 compared to the cheapest average trip day, Tuesday, which usually cost $18. On the year I made 4 trips on Tuesday and 7 on Thursday. On average I save 33% of the total bill, but on Wednesdays that number jumps to 40% and on Thursdays it falls to 21%. Why? I have NO IDEA. The weekly sales at Safeway roll over on Wednesday, so it would make sense that I would save MORE on Wednesday and Thursday because I'm going for some sweet deals. The only reason I can think of the disparity is that when I shop on Wednesday it's to take advantage of some great deals the first day being offered (and likely stocking up again on Sunday), but shopping on Thursday is necessity shopping, getting items I HAVE to have (milk, flour, crackers, fruits, and veggies) whether they're on sale or not, so the savings takes a hit.

How about a sweet table and sweetier graphs? (*edit - is there a giant gap here? I can't seem to get rid of it...)

# of Shopping TripsAvg Monthly SpendingAvg Monthly SavingAvg Spent/tripAvg Saved/trip