A Cubic Yard Of Red

Construction began last night on Super Bowl Chili X. Sitting in a 240 degree oven since 9pm last night is a cauldron containing:

  • Two gallons diced tomatoes
  • One gallon whole peeled tomatoes
  • Two pounds pinto beans
  • Two pounds black beans
  • Two pounds dark red kidney beans
  • 1/2 jar – a big jar – chopped garlic
  • Five large red onions, roughly chopped
  • One 3.5 pound chuck steak, cubed and seared
  • Three pounds beef stew meat, seared
  • Two pounds ground beef, browned
  • One seven-pound pork shoulder, roasted long enough to remove skin and bones
  • One bag ancho chiles, chopped and toasted. (Do not toast ancho chiles indoors. Trust me on this.)
  • Four habanero peppers
  • Three poblano peppers
  • One pint chile powder
  • One jar dried Mexican oregano
  • One jar ground cumin
  • One bottle El Presidente Diablo taco sauce

    Once the meat has cooked for a day or two, I can really start seasoning.

  • Reservations

    *ring*

    “This is Al’s, may I help you? Let me see. Ooh, I’m sorry, 2005 is full. Yes, all of it. No, sir, no more breeding or marrying. None. No, no babies, no weddings. We’re full. Right. Yes, I’m sorry, but that’s our policy. No, we’re totally booked up. I can waitlist you if you like. Well, you’re welcome to call back and see if we have a cancellation, but I’m afraid I can’t promise anything. No, you need to call a year ahead at this point. Even for lunch. Like the chef’s table at Trotter’s, yes, though that’s comparatively inexpensive. March 2006? Yes, that’s fine. Party of two? Three? Certainly. I understand, sir, I know how difficult it is. No, I’m sorry. <laughs> I wish a gratuity would ‘grease’ things. Yes, sir. Thanks for being a good sport. Thank you. You too. Bye!”

    Recalibrating

    This has been a really rare day:

  • Another one has gone over the wall, reducing the list of co-workers I would miss were I to quit or they to die to three.
  • The monkey has gone 8-2 in the playoff bracket, and is the only entrant in two pools to correctly predict the Super Bowl matchup.
  • Which, by the way, is composed of two teams whose fans I generally find especially worthy of a good solid cockpunching.
  • I forgot my lunch, and had to eat a piece of untested chocolate-colored chalk in lieu of my usual slimming-if-monotonous tuna salad, and on the day I was going to use the last survivor of the box of 48 plastic forks in my desk no less.
  • I spilled a full 32-ounce cup of water all over my desk, which mockingly ruined nothing of productive value, required a great deal of cleanup time, and saturated the lower half of my pants when I inadvertently knelt in it.
  • One manager I want dead has gone to Florida for a week, leaving the other manager I want dead in a frenzy of power-consolidation and self-promotion.
  • The first of the friends I always thought of as being about exactly my age turned thirty-one yesterday. That itself is bad enough, but it also serves as a reminder that the clock is ticking on Operation Alligator.
  • Tomorrow I have to go to the dentist. They have told me to expect to be there for two hours. I’ve been in and out of major surgery in less than two hours, so I’m not feeling good about this.
  • Since Radio Margaritaville played it yesterday, my brain has been singing “Viva Las Vegas” and asking me when we can go, just to be mean.
  • Two Piña Coladas

    I was feelin’ the blues
    I was watching the news
    When this fella came on the TV

    He said I’m tellin’ you
    That science has proven
    That heartaches are healed by the sea

    That got me goin’
    Without even knowin’
    I packed right up and drove down

    Now I’m on a roll
    And I swear to my soul
    Tonight I’m gonna paint this town

    So bring me two piña coladas
    One for each hand
    Let’s set sail with Captain Morgan
    And never leave dry land

    Troubles I forgot ’em
    I buried ’em in the sand
    So bring me two piña coladas
    She said good-bye to her good timin’ man

    Oh now I’ve gotta say
    That the wind and the waves
    And the moon winkin’ down at me

    Eases my mind
    By leavin’ behind
    The heartaches that love often brings

    Now I’ve got a smile
    That goes on for miles
    With no inclination to roam

    I’ve gotta say
    That I think I’ve gotta stay
    ‘Cause this is feelin’ more and more like home

    So bring me two piña coladas
    One for each hand
    Let’s set sail with Captain Morgan
    And never leave dry land

    Hey troubles I forgot ’em
    I buried ’em in the sand
    So bring me two piña coladas
    She said good-bye to her good timin’ man

    Written by Shawn Camp, Benita Hill, & Sandy Mason
    Performed by Garth Brooks

    The Real Clay Henry

    Current Playoff Pool Standings:

    Stimpy the Control Monkey: 18
    Beav: 16
    Honey: 12
    bondgirl: 12
    j.ko: 12
    Al: 8

    I wish I could stomp on my own skull. (If there was money on this, I would have found a way. Blessedly, the money was on the Jets, who were inexplicably getting eight.)

    Join me in my depression, y’all: The Monkey is the only one of us who has New England winning it all.


    Two gifts for you on a boring Wednesday:

    Strip Poker (All major genders represented.)
    The Ride Pimper


    Were I not set on moving to Florida, I would be, right now, packing my things to move to Lajitas, Texas. Here’s why:

    Clay Henry III is the elected mayor of Lajitas. His father was his immediate predecessor in office. His grandfather died in office after losing a fight over a younger woman. Mayor Henry has three kids, including Clay Henry IV, who is being groomed for the post. His “office” is in a bar, and his policy is to take a meeting with anyone who buys him a Lone Star longneck. He survived an assassination attempt two years ago in which he was castrated by a jealous neighbor. And he is a goat.

    I Don't Get It Either

    Mid-last week, Pete brought to my attention this excellent contest. Ordinarily, this isn’t my kind of thing, but a story popped into my head in more or less complete form when I saw the picture. (Which you have to see, to make the following story make a tiny bit of sense, instead of none.)

    The judges were wise enough to award the prize to someone else, but they didn’t tell me not to post my entry here. (They cannot be expected to think of everything.) Scope the picture, and have a read. Tomorrow: Playoff pool scoring updates, two fine new game links, and why I am moving to a small town in Texas as soon as logistics permit.


    Photo-story contest entry:

    “Okay, the diversion is covered, and the cinematography is tabled while we wait on weather conditions. What’s next on the agenda, Jensen?”

    “PR department update, boss.”

    “Fine. Ed?”

    “Yes, sir. I have here –please take one and pass it — the photo we’ve settled on for release.”

    “Ed.”

    “Yes?”

    “Ed.”

    “Sir?”

    “Is this a joke?”

    “N..uh…”

    “Because I don’t find it funny, Ed.”

    “It’s what you asked for, sir. ‘Take his picture. Make him look crazy.’
    That’s what you asked for, sir. In my opinion, he does look crazy.”

    “I wanted dangerous-crazy, not goofball-crazy. The picture needs to
    intimidate people, not make them feel sorry for him, and you posed him
    wearing a necktie and holding his kitty cat!”

    “Sir, with all due respect, you’re not getting the message. He’s
    obviously going to cook and eat the cat. See how the eye is drawn through
    the photographic ele…”

    “He’s going to eat the cat.”

    “Yessir. We all thought it was obvious.”

    “‘We all’?”

    “Well, me, and Ralph, and the rest of…”

    “You all thought it was obvious he was going to eat the cat? I ask you
    for a photo of a dangerous, crazy man, and you snap a guy in an Army
    uniform who looks like a blonde Elvis and tell me that, if I study the
    photo long enough, I’ll realize he’s going to eat the cat?”

    “Yes, sir! Exactly!

    “Ed.”

    “Sir, I think that you’re not…”

    “ED! Here is what I want you to do: I want you to go back, and take
    another picture of this guy. I want him wearing black. I want him
    unshaven. I want him in less flattering light. And I want him holding at
    least two guns. One of them should be a goddamn BIG gun.”

    “What about the cat? Because I think…”

    “NO CAT! FUCK THE CAT! Give him a Russian flag or a couple of Commie
    leaflets or a plate of fucking borscht for all I care, but get that
    fucking cat OUT OF THIS GODDAMN PICTURE. Are we clear?”

    “Yes, sir. When do you want the final print?”

    “We’ll need it in the press kit and ready to go on the twenty-second, so
    let’s say no later than Wednesday the twentieth.”

    “Yes, sir. I’ll call Lee immediately and book another shoot.”

    “Good, you’re dism?was that a joke, Ed?”

    “No, sir. Not on purpose.”

    “Good. This is no laughing matter. There’s a lot at stake. Dismissed.”


    (In retrospect, I should have been clearer about the second version of the picture.)

    Roll Call

    In September of 1988, as an incoming high-school freshman, I weighed one hundred and seventy pounds. In January of 2004, I weighed somewhere slightly north of 315. That’s a gain of 145. As a way to a) observe rededication to Operation Eighty Pounds after a long holiday layoff; b) celebrate the three-quarter mark of OEP; and c) use one of my very favorite phrases; I would like to explain how it came to pass that I got fat:

    Pounds 1-3: Freshman year lunch: Pizza, chocolate milk, and a grease cookie in the cafeteria. Every day.

    Pounds 4 & 5: Constant access to vending machines featuring chocolate milk

    Pounds 6-10: Discovery of ability to occasionally order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself

    Pounds 11-13: Mandatory summertime Tasty Dog lunch. Nachos, cheese fries, XL Pepsi

    Pound 14: Taco salads, Fridays in the North Cafeteria.

    Pounds 15-18: Sophomore year, for making-out reasons, I spend several months with two lunch periods.

    Pounds 19 & 20: I discover that coming home after everyone has gone to sleep means that I can have a snack unpestered.

    Pounds 21 & 22: Tasty Dog begins carrying deep-fried cheese.

    Pounds 23-50: Driver’s license obtained. Walking and bicycling are immediately cut by 80%. Regular errand runs for maternal parent are broken up by lavish snacking.

    Pounds 51-56: Especially the $1.99 two-slices-and-a-pop deal at Little Caesar’s.

    Pounds 57-59: Months of testing and negotiation result in finalization of a twelve-year standing order at Mickey’s Gyros — “Gimme a one skirt steak sandwich, cup of cheese on the side, plain, gimme an order a mozzarella sticks, and an extra-large Dr. Pepper for me to stay here” — which ended only last year.

    Pounds 60-62: Granny’s restaurant begins carrying eclairs.

    Pounds 63-65: Theatrical obligations force me to eat dinner after nine p.m. on a fairly regular basis. As of this writing, I have not shaken this habit. It is probably radically underestimated as a fat factor.

    Pounds 65-68: 24-hour dining establishments discovered. A fourth meal is added to Friday and Saturday.

    Pounds 69 & 70: Employment at a summer camp two hours north of home leads to the discovery that a large pizza is a perfect way to pass the drive time.

    Pounds 71-73: Burritoville discovered.

    Pounds 74-79: NIU dorm cafeterias are all-you-can-eat. I am, in retrospect, amazed this didn’t go worse for me.

    Pounds 79-81: Extensive scientific research results in identification and domestication of the beer nugget.

    Pounds 82-90: Burritoville “Delivery ’til 3am” policy discovered.

    Pounds 91-100: Pagliai’s Pizza has a standing special: “All You Can Eat Pizza & Pop, $3.95” Pagliai’s no longer exists. Yes, it was us.

    Pound 101: Effort lauched to eradicate Leona’s giant cheese sticks from the face of the Earth, personally, by mouth.

    Pounds 102 & 103: Now entirely responsible for feeding self. Budget measures include frozen pizza, Tater Tots, and lots and lots of Pillsbury canned biscuits.

    Pounds 104-106: Discovery of ability to regularly order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself

    Pound 107: Ben & Jerry’s Mint Cookie Orgy (or whatever) located forty yards from residential entrance.

    Pounds 108-111: Leona’s delivers to Lincoln Park

    Pounds 112-114: As does Philly’s Best

    Pounds 115 & 116: Finances improve, allowing for the purchase of real groceries.

    Pounds 117-121: And the Pitmaster.

    Pound 122: Fried pork chop sandwich from neighborhood hole-in-the-wall hot dog joint found, praised.

    Pounds 123-125: Personal pasta sauce recipe and garlic bread construction perfected in same weekend

    Pounds 126-128: Discovery of ability to constantly order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself

    Pounds 129 & 130: Realization strikes that I can eat Pillsbury “Orange Danish Rolls” any damn time I want. I do.

    Pounds 131-134: With the addition of fresh garlic, the last piece falls in place for stuffed pizza’s takeover from thin crust in the Pizza Pantheon

    Pounds 135-137: I discover that I can order food components from the Internet.

    Pounds 138-140: In a romantic gesture gone horribly awry, I finally perfect the Mashed Potato Club’s formula for potatoes and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse’s formula for Cajun-style shrimp with bacon and combine them. Fabulously delicious but lethal to pants.

    Pounds 140-141: Commercial availability of “Heath Bar Crunch” triples in response to calls from the Big & Tall Industry

    Pounds 142-145: During a trip to Paris Las Vegas, I am introduced to real pain au chocolat.


    The above was completed at 5:08pm CST, 1/12/05. Here was my thought process at 3:42pm CST, 1/12/05:

    Let’s see, what can I write today? Hm. I know! I’ll write out a list of all the foods I have loved too well in the last fourteen years. There won’t be any harm in that. It might even be fun — a little trip down memory lane. I surely won’t finish it up both depressed at the way time flies and so hungry I could eat my leather jacket, right?

    God, I’m an idiot.

    Norm!

    Sometimes your life changes in a minute, and the way you see the world changes forever.

    Last Friday afternoon passed in a frenzy of wagering, as I was putting the finishing touches on two separate office playoff pools. Both of them are run bracket-style, and as the NFL playoff system requires elaborate explanation, I spent about four hours detailing to entrants what would happen to the brackets in the extremely unlikely event that, say, the imploding Minnesota Vikings were to somehow knock off the surging Packers at Lambeau, ha-ha. (Bonus essay question: How can fans of the team that invented the Lambeau Leap justify complaining about opposing teams taunting them after scores?) When I got off the phone at about 5:10pm and returned my attention to my PC, I had an IM from Dave with a proposal: Did I wish to drink a pre-train cocktail with him?

    Well, of course. We opened negotiations: I advocated 5:35, as I had to be home by 6:40 for a prior engagement. Dave counterproposed 5:50, as he had something he had to feign doing until 5:45 lest his company realize that he doesn’t do anything besides ogle the HR temp’s rack and forward employee questions to Microsoft tech support. We agreed on 5:50 — I am openly contemptuous of the management tasked with monitoring me, but Dave has a family to support — and on Monday’s Pub, conveniently adjacent to the Clark & Lake Green Line station.

    (Reading this now, I feel like the first guy to whom it occurred to roll mozzarella in some breading and toss it in the deep-fryer: I’m torn between elation at our discovery and embarassed disbelief that this did not occur to me sooner.)

    I put the finishing touches on my own bracket (“San Diego will upset Pittsburgh in the divisional round”) before departing for Monday’s. I arrived at 5:48pm, and Dave a moment later. I reminded him I was pressed for time, and we swept through the revolving door and up to the bar.

    We each obtained a cocktail, inspected the staff appreciatively, knocked down the beverages, made just enough small talk to cover the basics — Dave was fine, as was I — paid, and scampered next door to the station. Swiped the cards, weaved up the escalator, hopped straight onto a Green Line train, and staggered in unison as we were smacked square in the faces by the realization that we had just pulled off a perfect surgical strike, the Happy Hour equivalent of the Entebbe raid!

    Think of it: Armed only with a meeting time, without even bothering to learn the Green Line pickup schedule for the Clark & Lake station, we had a cocktail, a leer, and a chat in the time we were going to have wasted standing upstairs on the platform in cold, windy sobriety.

    We have invented the Instant Happy Hour. I am proud and awed. The full implications of this could take weeks to sort out completely, though. Further study is needed. Who’s in?

    One For The Road

    By the politely masked yet clearly firm request of Gambling Diseased Person bondgirl*, Playoff Brackets. Wild-card round games are worth two points each, Divisionals are worth four, Conference championships are worth eight, and the Super Bowl is worth twelve. If there is the potential for a tie after the Super Bowl matchup is determined, the potentially-tied players will submit tiebreaking final scores.

    *Yes, I wept with pride.


    Al:

    Week 1: Wild Cards

    Game 1 – St. Louis @ Seattle
    Winner: St. Louis

    Game 2 – Minnesota @ Green Bay
    Winner: Packers

    Game 3 – Denver @ Indianapolis
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Game 4 – NY Jets @ San Diego
    Winner: San Diego

    Week 2: Divisionals

    Game 5 – St. Louis @ Philly
    Winner: St. Louis

    Game 6 – Packers @ Atlanta
    Winner: Atlanta

    Game 7 – San Diego @ Pittsburgh
    Winner: San Diego

    Game 8 – Indianapolis @ New England
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Week 3: Conference Finals

    Game 9 – St. Louis @ Falcons
    Winner: Falcons

    Game 10 – San Diego @ Indianapolis
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Week 4:

    Super Bowl XXXIX – Falcons vs Indianapolis
    Winner: Indianapolis


    j.ko:

    Week 1: Wild Cards

    Game 1 – St. Louis @ Seattle
    Winner: St. Louis

    Game 2 – Minnesota @ Green Bay
    Winner: Packers

    Game 3 – Denver @ Indianapolis
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Game 4 – NY Jets @ San Diego
    Winner: San Diego

    Week 2: Divisionals

    Game 5 – St. Louis @ Philly
    Winner: Eagles

    Game 6 – Packers @ Atlanta
    Winner: Packers

    Game 7 – San Diego @ Pittsburgh
    Winner: Steelers

    Game 8 – Indianapolis @ New England
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Week 3: Conference Finals

    Game 9 – Packers @ Eagles
    Winner: Eagles

    Game 10 – Indianapolis @ Steelers
    Winner: Steelers

    Week 4:

    Super Bowl XXXIX – Eagles vs Steelers
    Winner: Eagles


    Honey:

    Week 1: Wild Cards

    Game 1 – St. Louis @ Seattle
    Winner: St. Louis

    Game 2 – Minnesota @ Green Bay
    Winner: Packers

    Game 3 – Denver @ Indianapolis
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Game 4 – NY Jets @ San Diego
    Winner: San Diego

    Week 2: Divisionals

    Game 5 – St. Louis @ Philly
    Winner: Eagles

    Game 6 – Packers @ Atlanta
    Winner: Packers

    Game 7 – San Diego @ Pittsburgh
    Winner: Steelers

    Game 8 – Indianapolis @ New England
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Week 3: Conference Finals

    Game 9 – Indianapolis @ Steelers
    Winner: Steelers

    Game 10 – Packers @ Eagles
    Winner: Packers

    Week 4:

    Super Bowl XXXIX – Steelers vs Packers
    Winner: Steelers


    bondgirl:

    Week 1: Wild Cards

    Game 1 – St. Louis @ Seattle
    Winner: Les Mouflons

    Game 2 – Minnesota @ Green Bay
    Winner: Packers

    Game 3 – Denver @ Indianapolis
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Game 4 – NY Jets @ San Diego
    Winner: San Diego

    Week 2: Divisionals

    Game 5 – Les Mouflons @ Philly
    Winner: Eagles

    Game 6 – Packers @ Atlanta
    Winner: Packers

    Game 7 – San Diego @ Pittsburgh
    Winner: Steelers

    Game 8 – Indianapolis @ New England
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Week 3: Conference Finals

    Game 9 – Indianapolis @ Steelers
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Game 10 – Packers @ Eagles
    Winner: Eagles

    Week 4:

    Super Bowl XXXIX – Indianapolis vs Eagles
    Winner: Indianapolis


    Stimpy:

    Week 1: Wild Cards

    Game 1 – St. Louis @ Seattle
    Winner: St. Louis

    Game 2 – Minnesota @ Green Bay
    Winner: Vikings

    Game 3 – Denver @ Indianapolis
    Winner: Denver

    Game 4 – NY Jets @ San Diego
    Winner: Jets

    Week 2: Divisionals

    Game 5 – Vikings @ Eagles
    Winner: Eagles

    Game 6 – St. Louis @ Falcons
    Winner: St. Louis

    Game 7 – Denver @ Steelers
    Winner: Steelers

    Game 8 – Jets @ Patriots
    Winner: Patriots

    Week 3: Conference Finals

    Game 9 – Patriots @ Steelers
    Winner: Patriots

    Game 10 – St. Louis @ Eagles
    Winner: Eagles

    Week 4:

    Super Bowl XXXIX – Patriots vs Eagles
    Winner: Patriots


    Beav:

    Week 1: Wild Cards

    Game 1 – St. Louis @ Seattle
    Winner: St. Louis

    Game 2 – Minnesota @ Green Bay
    Winner: Packers

    Game 3 – Denver @ Indianapolis
    Winner: Indianapolis

    Game 4 – NY Jets @ San Diego
    Winner: San Diego

    Week 2: Divisionals

    Game 5 – St. Louis @ Philly
    Winner: Philly

    Game 6 – Packers @ Atlanta
    Winner: Packers

    Game 7 – San Diego @ Pittsburgh
    Winner: Pittsburgh

    Game 8 – Indianapolis @ New England
    Winner: New England

    Week 3: Conference Finals

    Game 9 – Green Bay @ Philadelphia
    Winner: Green Bay

    Game 10 – New England @ Pittsburgh
    Winner: New England

    Week 4:

    Super Bowl XXXIX – New England vs Green Bay
    Winner: Green Bay

    DO NOT DELETE THIS

    So I tried snowboarding. I was told by reliable expert Megan The Cutie-Pie Snowboarding Instructor that it went well. Here is the scorecard that MTCPSI felt was a reliable gauge of something that went well:

    Possible cracked rib
    Strained right forearm
    Strained right tricep
    Strained right shoulder
    Partial right pectoral tear
    Bruised left knee
    Modestly blackened right eye
    Still-tender occipital bone

    I spent the next three days feeling as though I’d slept a night in the tank of an operating cement truck. Apparently it’s normal to have an impossible first (and second, and third) outing. I was told that it’s only after the third try that people really start to get it. I have no idea how anyone gets to a third try. I’m sure I’ll never do it again, after next time. (I will not be beaten by a snowboard.)


    Three More Quick Observations On Stupidity

    How could a person who knows they have a reputation for forwarding unusually pointless and inane e-mail novelties honestly believe that adding DO NOT DELETE THIS to the existing subject line will make a difference?

    How could a person who knows they have a reputation for forwarding unusually pointless and inane e-mail novelties to the point of adding DO NOT DELETE THIS to the existing subject line not recognize that perhaps there is another, less humiliating solution?

    Nothing on Earth, including Roadrunner cartoons, is funnier than the bits of infomercials for products designed to make one’s life easier where they demonstrate how difficult it is to do what the product pimped purportedly does the way every other person in America does it now. (Next time you see an infomercial, the previous sentence will become perfectly clear.)


    Aaron and I were having a conversation today that I feel needs your input:

    In the event that GameStop has to install an ‘Adult’ section for videogames politicians deem unsuitable for minors, isn’t it only fair that that section have honest-to-God adult video games? Discuss. Cite examples of those theoretical adult games.