the compliment of talking about questionable charms

Here are some quick highlights for each category to keep you in the loop.

life: wake up, go to work, go home, eat my one good meal for the weekday with Mare, stay up ’til it’s time to go to sleep, sleep, repeat until the weekend, then the weekend flies by in two days and the cycle begins again.

comics: (new this week on the reading list of Sig & Mare) Cable #6, Hulk #5, Wolverine: Killing Made Simple, Echo #5, The Amory Wars (volume 2) #3

computers: c0rey is back up and running. ASUS is giving me a bad time for not getting a tracking number for my RMA, so I purchased an ABIT mobo compatible with my Phenom and it’s performing better than ever minus the strange start/restart ritual it likes to go through when loading Ubuntu. k0rma & 1nertia are scheduled to move offsite which will either happen tomorrow or some time over the weekend. Diode has been upgraded with a Maxtor 750GB SATA II/300 internal hard drive with 32MB cache for a total of 1TB disk space. w00t!

DVDs: One of the August project is to back up K$’s collection.

food and recipes: I tried Dan’s Hamburgers for the first time a couple weeks ago, and they are so much better than Mighty Fine and cost so much less, too! Dan’s has made my Top 5 burgers in Austin. I’m still finalizing that list, but off the top of my head in no particular order: Dirty Martin’s, Burger Tex, The Crown and Anchor Pub, Bagpipes, and now Dan’s. Suggestions are welcome.

movies: The last one I saw in the theater was The Dark Knight at Alamo. Joe finished his short film, but I can’t indulge you with the details ’til after it’s official screening.

music: Delay the Inevitable (DxTxI) is an amazing band.

work: Same ol’ gig that pays the bills. I have a review and a raise pending, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

That’s what I have for now. I really want to update this more often, but we’ll see. Peace out.

the mighty fine burgers in austin

Mare returned to Austin from her Canada/North Carolina trip yesterday. We had lunch at Mighty Fine which is pretty fine but I wouldn’t say mighty fine. They are owned by the same people that own Rudy’s which is their gimmicky barbecue place. My only beef with Mighty Fine is that their prices are too damn high, but I’m sure it’s based in figuring out how much they can squeeze (capitalize) from the earners in that area which is a fairly nice area. That place is always packed when I go, and for what? Burgers, fries, and shakes.

The burgers are very homemade genuine-tasting, but again, I don’t think you’d normally pay someone five bucks to make you the same-quality half-pound burger and a couple bucks for a soda in a bottle. I love their half-pound burgers and their fries are good, but I’m gonna give the rest the two thumbs down. They have these chili dogs where they slice up the hot dog, so I guess they could charge more for it. Most chili from burger places are recycled burgers. You’re paying for yesterday’s leftovers.

I’m not saying I won’t go back to Mighty Fine, because I’d rank their half-pound burger in the top five in Austin, but they sure know how to overcharge for what I can get for a couple bucks less almost anywhere else and I’m not talking fast food chain burgers. I’m talking about the Crown and Anchor, Burger Tex, Bagpipes on Tuesdays, Hut’s, Dan’s, etc.

the ‘zas of may

Since it’s the last day of the month and I haven’t posting much lately, this will be the post that covers all of the homemade pizzas Mare and I made and enjoyed in May.

May 8th
Pepperoni & Canadian Bacon
A huge bubble formed in the middle and sent the toppings
sliding to the edges like lava flowing down a volcano.

May 15th
Canadian Bacon & Red Onion
This one turned out excellent.

May 24th
Canadian Bacon & Red Onion
A repeat of the previous week.

May 29th
Thick-sliced Pepperoni & Diced Portobello Mushroom
Very hearty and greasy delicious.

Unmentioned ingredients in descriptions and comments above:

  • Pizza dough
  • Homemade marinara
  • Shredded mozzarella and Italian cheese blends
  • Parmesan cheese to soak up any excess moisture and for sog prevention
  • Olive oil (extra virgin, both garlic-infused and plain) to grease the baking sheet

Baking directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place pizza on middle rack to bake for ten minutes.
  3. About five to six minutes into baking, rotate the pie 180° to help bake evenly. During the rotation, you can monitor any bubbles that may be forming. Simply poke them with a fork.
  4. After ten minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. A cooling rack will help the steam leave and make the crust firmer.
  5. Slice and enjoy!

the tired and uninspired

[ [ [ Countdown to 3hirty Posts in April: THREE! ] ] ]

April has come and gone.

I’m hoping that May is more productive in my realm of creativity. I would like to do more writing that doesn’t involve spending more time on what you’re reading here than I should. Then again, I offered up the thirty-post challenge that I surely can’t allow to defeat me.

I’m hoping to be in the process of churning out something involving comics next month or at least be very close to making something happen. I also have a small video-like project that will be put together next month that you should be seeing posting here.

I’d also like to get caught up on my comic-reading, but it seems like I buy more than I should and create a huge backlog that will take me a very long time to work through. It’s the collector in me.

I haven’t been watching a whole lot of movies lately. Sleepytime involves putting on some classic cartoons and fading out to them. They bring back memories of my childhood. I thought I’d never get to see some of them, but fortunately the dollar DVD industry has picked them up and released a bunch of them.

Rock Band would definitely consume my time if it was here at the apartment.

Mare had a test that went on ’til 9PM, and Neil and the gang went to a Spurs game. Pluckers was canceled this week. I hope it resumes next week. We had that terrible waiter last time. He was so bad that I wrote a review about it (see: the pluckin’ good time 4/15). I also had the nerve to fill out their comment card online and refer the post to them. Surprisingly, the general manager of the location we went to responded and also hooked me up with a gift card. Bonus!

Work is going well. Our mainframe was upgraded and going faster than ever. This is helping production and making my job much easier. We also got a new director of operations, and he’s a cool guy. He listens and offers solutions. Our last boss seemed like he was going along for the ride and only lasted something like six months. Then again, that particular position seems to have a tremendous turnaround considering that it’s had the most people fill in the place since I’ve been there and it’ll only be two years this July.

I’ve done my rant for the night. Today’s the last day of the month. I have two posts left to go. Peace out.

the ‘za of the week (apr 13 – apr 19) + pizza recipe

This week’s ‘za was a Hawaiian-style pie topped with Canadian bacon and pineapple. This simple couple creates a unique flavor that Mare & I both enjoy.

Nothing complex went into this pizza, but I’ll go into a step-by-step process on making this pizza to beef up this post and because I have to constantly remind myself how to make ’em!

Modern Soapbox ‘Za of the Week Recipe

1. Brush a thin layer of garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil on a rectangular baking sheet.

2. Stretch the dough evenly to fit the baking sheet. Stretch it a little larger the baking sheet and push the edges up the inner sides of the sheet. The pie will shrink a little when it’s baked, so this will make it fit snug.

3. Spread about seven tablespoons of pizza sauce evenly on the crust.

4. Sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan on the pizza sauce to help soak up any extra moisture created by the sauce, cheese, and toppings.

5. Spread about a cup and a half of low-moisture part-skim mozzarella evenly over the pizza sauce.

6. Evenly spread your toppings. For this pie, the Canadian bacon and pineapple were the toppings. When using canned toppings such as the pineapple, make sure to drain them very well. This will keep the crust from getting soggy.

7. Sprinkle about half to three-fourths of a cup more of mozzarella over the pizza to seal those toppings in.

8. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

9. Once the oven is preheated, place the pizza in the middle rack and bake for ten minutes. Rotate the pie 180° about halfway through the baking time to bake the crust evenly.

10. After ten minutes, remove the pizza and allow it to sit for about a minute. Then, transport it off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack to let the pie to crisp as it cools.

11. Move the pie onto a cutting board, slice it, and enjoy!

This pie had some extra dark spots, but I think it was caused by thin cheese spots. Remember to spread that cheese evenly and sprinkle it on thick to prevent those extra dark spots!

We also warmed up some focaccia like we did last time. All we did was brush some garlic-infused olive oil on both sides of the bread, sprinkled some parmesan and a blend of Italian seasonings, and baked it right after the ‘Za of the Week for four minutes.

The after photo doesn’t look much different, but you’ll notice the bread became more golden and the parmesan baked up as well.

We served this and the ‘za with a romaine and feta salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. This was a deluxe meal that Mare & I always enjoy.

the pluckin’ good time

This month has been good to me. Tonight was one of the two scheduled Pluckers nights. I went for five Fire in the Hole wings like I did the last time. Five is not so bad. Any more is death. They’re hott, but they’re tolerable in smaller increments.

The posse included K$, Neil, Gunner, Rhino, Mare & me. We made an awesome bone pile as we ate and made it more awesome when we finished.

The waiter tonight was terrible. He just wasn’t doing his job. You have to keep the glasses filled for people eating Fire in the Hole wings. He also missed putting in the order for our side of waffle fries. He just wasn’t paying enough attention to us and taking too long to get things done.

On top of the waiter’s bad service, he had the nerve to hit us with a 17% gratuity on the bill. I understand that parties over five are prone to this charge, but it is the choice of the server whether to hit us with a grat or not.

I’ve been to Pluckers on the corner of Research and Burnet multiple times, and this is the first time we’ve been hit with it when I was with the group. The other servers don’t do it, and they’re really nice to us. They actually do their jobs, and see around a 20% tip from us. I’m sure he knew he wasn’t doing his job, so he had to snake us for the tip rather than earn it.

Apart from the lack of good service, this was a good visit to Pluckers. The food is great, the environment is fun, and being in the company of friends is pure gold.

the celebration trifecta

This weekend was a success. I’d like to thank K$, Mare, and Neil for orchestrating the events so well, and the memories will stay embedded in my mind.

Friday night was the kick-off for the birthday celebration. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Trudy’s and some quality drinks. I had my complimentary Mexican martini as well as a Cuban martini. It started out with Neil, K$, Mare & me. Dirty Fingers joined us a little later, then Rhino showed up. Later in the night, J-Bone and Justin joined us. We stayed ’til close enjoying each other’s company.

When we first arrived, the parking lot was packed. Unfortunately, the spot I located was underneath a tree. The parking lot that Trudy’s shares with the shopping center next door seems to be a place where all of the birds in Austin love to spend all day and all night up in the trees. We only spent about four hours at Trudy’s. By the time I made it back to the car, it must have been hit twenty times by birds caring less.

Driving around a car with white-accented bird feces is kind of embarrassing. I hand-washed my car for the first time in two or three years the next day at my brother’s before the party.

The party was great. Neil has a big grill, and we made a bunch of burgers and bratwurst. We also had a keg of Ziegen Bock, and ROCK BAND! I’ve never played Rock Band before, but I found it quite entertaining. The drums are difficult, because I’m not a drummer but it sure was fun. I scored a few presents that I really enjoy. K$ got me four graphic novels. Score! Erin got me a humorous coloring book about ’90s pop culture. J-Bone got me a device that plays Name That Tune using an MP3 player. My sister gave me a Buddy Christ bobblehead. I wasn’t really expecting presents, but I got some indeed.

We killed the keg before midnight, but we had other beer floating around the place plus some liquor. I felt everyone had a good time. I hope we have more barbecues in the near future. Maybe not with a keg and too many people but definitely with the core of us.

After recovering for the most part the next day, Neil, K$, Gunner, Mare & I made a trek down to the Salt Lick in Driftwood to complete the celebration trifecta. We all had the all-you-can-eat family meal and stuffed ourselves ’til we couldn’t stuff anymore. I absolutely love their ribs. We also had brisket and sausage. The sides included: coleslaw, mashed potatoes, bread, pickles, and onions. Everyone else loved the bread, but I know it’s just filler.

The best part after we were about to burst was that they let us take the leftovers home. Buffets normally don’t let you do that, but you know they were just going to throw it out anyway. Another bonus for the Salt Lick is that it’s BYOB, so I picked up a twelve-pack of Dos Equis for us to enjoy while we ate. We didn’t drink them all, but I figured it was ’cause we were so full plus we had been drinking a lot the day before. I scored that twelve-pack for twelve bucks at the convenient store. The grocery store normally sells it for fourteen. Dos Equis twelve-packs were less than Shiner Bock twelve-packs surprisingly.

Afterwards, I just went home and spent the rest of the day recovering from my awesome weekend. I read some of Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1, watched some Aeon Flux, then put on TMNT: The Animated Series Volume 5 Disc 2 to finally fall asleep. The Case of the Mondays would return when the sun rose again.