Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tabasco Sweet and Spicy Pepper Sauce - Review.

I picked up a bottle of Tabasco Sweet and Spicy Pepper Sauce yesterday and tried it out this morning on my eggs.  It's very mild but has enough flavor to be interesting.  It's primarily billed as a dipping sauce and it comes out thick from the bottle - I had to fight with it a little bit. 

Yup, not bad and I will probably use it as a glaze for when more delicate palates come to visit.  I actually want to use it as a dipping sauce for apples.

Truth be told's just a Tabasco over priced version of Banana Ketchup, like Jufran or UFC (I prefer UFC - it's got more kick to it).  If you're near an Asian grocery store or live in near a Wal-Mart that serves a large Asian demographic just pick up Banana Ketchup for about a buck.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grace (2009) Dir. Paul Solet

This movie should be titled Grace: or What Not to Watch While Your Expecting

I had heard good things about GraceCreepy, gross, bizarre, and warped were common adjectives.  I had put off watching it for some reason but finally got around to watching it the other day.  Truth be told I was a little disappointed.  The reason Grace didn't really get to me is because I'm not a pregnant woman nor am I directly involved with pregnant women or babies.  Another issue I had was that Grace plays like a prequel for an established horror movie - the birth of the monster.  Finally, there's a psycho-sexual aspect to the film that seems like it would have worked better in an Asian horror film or perhaps a Cronenberg movie.

Those minor problems aside Grace is indeed creepy and has some gory moments (I looked away at one point but only because I don't like close-ups of cutting).  Jordan Ladd's portrayal of protagonist Madeline Matheson's descent into madness is pretty unnerving at times.  The supporting cast are all strong - particularly her mother-in-law Vivian (Gabrielle Rose).  Vivian is a WASP ice-bitch and her own madness is compelling to watch as well. 

Despite my lacklustre response to Grace - it is a solid piece of horror that takes the genre in a direction well away from the schlock and remakes being churned out.  Additionally the production quality was excellent and the effects were pretty effective.  There's nothing worse than attempting to watch a horror movie and it looks like it was made with an iPhone and edited by an AV hack.

Abuelita Joshua's Blackened Shrimp and Sausage Po'Boys.

Here in Nacogdoches there's a restaurant I frequent, Delacroix's.  It's a solid Soul/Cajun seafood joint that has some of the best damned fried chicken I've ever had.  After eating there with much frequency over the past two years and getting to know the people who work there and all that good stuff I figured I could throw them a curve ball and they'd make it.

My curve ball was a variation on the standard po'boy.  The po'boy normally features battered and fried seafood on a delicious roll, or traditionally roast beef on a delicious piece of french bread, there's even some places that'll do a fried & bbq sauced on a po'boy. 

Now I couldn't figure out the sense of battered and fried seafood going on a sandwich.  I love fried seafood - I'll eat anything from the ocean fried even creepy bioluminesent fishies - but the connect didn't work for me.  A sausage po'boy is good but seems to be lacking (especially when I begin to think of sausage and pepper grinders).  So my mind got to workin' and the next time I went to Delacroix's I ordered a blackened shrimp and sausage sandwich.  The waiter looked at me weird but said sure, why not.  It came out and I devoured it.  It works folks and over time I have made some variations on the one I order.  Now that I have some good rolls (and 26/30 shrimp were on sale) I have decided to make them at home and pass the results on to you fine readers.
  • As always my recipes are only suggestions, if you don't like onions don't use onions, etc.  I know that sounds silly but I've heard of people not trying dishes because they don't like an ingredient.
This is only for one sandwich - 12" roll/baguette.  Granted this is an Abuelita Joshua sized sandwich, you daintier folks could make two 6" sandwiches or just halve the recipe and buy smaller rolls.

  • 12 Extra Large Shrimp 26/30 - frozen or fresh...whatever...I prefer uncooked and shell on.
  • Sausage - eye ball the quanity you want.  I usually go for links of smoked sausage and cut off a quite a few good sized chunks.  I loves the sausage.
  • 1/2 an onion.  Sliced thin.
  • 1/2 a red pepper.
  • 2 tbsp butter unsalted
  • 1 jalapeno (or the like) sliced thin.
  • A punch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp of Abuelita Joshua's Favorite Spice Mix
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic or shallots
Get all your prep work done.  Start heating your cast iron skillet on the range.  If you don't have a cast iron skillet then go buy one, they are cheap (Lodge skillets are awesome and less than $25).  Heat your cast iron skillet and remember to put on an oven mitt or some such thing before touch the handle.  If you forget, you'll never do that again.

Melt the butter in the pan, add minced garlic (or shallots), add sausage.  Brown the sausage, remove sausage from pan and place on a paper towel to remove excess grease.  Now sautee your onions and peppers, add Spice Mix, when the veggies are just starting to sweat toss in the shrimp (shells removed).  Return sausage to the mix.  Stir.  The shrimp should be almost done after about two minutes so take the pan off the heat and let the residual heat from the cast iron finish the job for you.  Prep your bread, put contents of pan on bread, consume.

You could also and are encouraged to toast the bread in the oven.  As far as condiments go I really don't think the sandwich needs any but I do like a remoulade now and then. 

Additionally, if you really wanted to be a bad ass you could grill the shrimp and the sausage but alas all I have is a cast iron skillet.

And there we have it.  Good cooking to you fine folks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Red Dead Redemption: Tips and assorted fun.

Okay, I found a super simple solution to polishing off the final task of the Sharpshooter Challenge - that is disarm six opponents without switching weapons or reloading.  Activating Dead Eye automatically reloads your weapon, which is a pain in the ass. So, here are my suggestions:
  1. Buy the Mauser pistol.  It has a fifteen round clip.
  2. Use all of your ammo except for one clip (15 rounds).  This way there is no extra ammo to reload your weapon.
  3. Go to the town of Chuparosa.  Enter the main building/jail and make your way up all the floors, in the last room you will see a ladder up to the attic.  Before you climb the ladder, open a dresser or armoire - this will get the cops on your tail.  Get up the ladder and back away so you have a clear shot/view of the top of the ladder.  Be patient the cops will chase you up to the attic.  Wait for the Federale to ascend and activate Dead Eye.  Put one round in their weapon hand and one in their noggin'.  They will keep charging up the ladder after you.  If you lose your wanted level you can run back downstairs and open another cabinet to reinstall your wanted level.  Wash rinse repeat. 
  4. After almost a full gaming session of attempting this challenge using this method I completed it in about five minutes.  Tada.
Tip #2: When trying to kill a bear with a knife.  Shoot the bastard in the legs two or three times, then equip your knife and make sure you are quick with your healing tonics.

Tip #3: Buy the Buffalo Rifle as soon as you can.  It's one shot one kill capability on cougars, bears, and assorted baddies is a life saver.

Tip #4:  When being pursued by...people pursuing you...might I suggest, leave off the horse controls and focus on the shooting.  The horse keeps moving at a good clip for about as long as it takes to make work of the enemies.

Tip #4b:  Alternately, if you're a mean bastard just shoot their horse.

Other tips will follow and a "final" review of the Single Player adventure is pending.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Down on the Upside" (1996) Soundgarden

I'm a pretty hardcore Soundgarden fan and when the weather gets warmer I tend to listen to them more often (the same with Stone Temple Pilots).  While Badmotorfinger will always have a place in my top 100 albums of the 90s, their final album Down On the Upside is the one I always return to (even when the weather is inclement).  Certainly Louder Than Love (1990) is a monster album and Superunknown is solid from Let Me Drown to Like Suicide but for my money Down is just awesome.  In some ways it reminds me of Helmet's Betty (1994) and Ministry's Filth Pig (1995) because the band departed from the regularly scheduled program.

At first listen Down is a random mix of video hits, crunch harkening back to the early days, and oddly introspective and syrupy (thanks to Ben Shepard's bass work) bong hits.  However, if you sit down or, in my case, are cooking and can play Down  at a respectable rock level - this self produced (co-produced by Adam Kasper) album works so fucking well.  There are tracks I prefer over others - I'm not a huge of Rhinosaur - but the second half is just stunning.  Kim Thayll knocks it out of the park out on his penned Never the Machine Forever (in my opinion the second track on the second side of the album).  It's a classic crunch track with lines like, "Never means forever brings everything."  Do I know what it means?  No but it makes fucking sense and sounds awesome.

I listen to Down  and think of it as a farewell, almost nostaligic, album.  I wince when I hear Audioslave or some half-assed Soundgarden knock off.  It's like seeing an old dog with rotting gums that stays near its food bowl because it's too sick and old to walk.

If you missed Down On the Upside when it came out or dismissed it when it came out, I suggest giving it a listen if only for the brilliance of Switch Opens & Overfloater.

Coming soon on HYR:  Why Filth Pig is the best Ministry album.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rampage (2009) dir. Uwe Boll

I'm not sure what compelled me to watch Rampage.  I supposed a box cover of a heavily armored and armed man with the tagline "Vengeance is Ruthless" had a lot to do with it.  Then I saw it was directed by Uwe Boll (who I kind of love and can't understand why he gets such a bad rap from people who will sing the praises of Roger Corman, Lloyd Kaufman, and Russ Meyer).  I figured, what the hell and watched it.

If I had seen this movie when I was in my teens or early twenties I would have loved it.  My morbid fascination with the evil that men do was at its highest then.  I was a black trenchcoat wearing, borderline nutcase, totally ignorant of the garbage that was spewing out of my mouth.  Rampage would have been in my top ten favorites.  Perhaps that's the reason why I have a problem enjoying Rampage.  Then again it's not really a movie to be enjoyed.

The story revolves around Bill Williamson, a twenty-three year old loser who lives at home and his life pretty much sucks.  People treat him like shit all the time and his only friend is a fingerless glove wearing counterculturalist.  Bill goes on to commit a mass murder of insane proportions.  This is not a loveable loser.

Rampage is bloody, tough to watch, and a pretty solid movie throughout.  The best scene in the movie takes places in a Bingo hall and is so damned surreal that it borders on brilliant.  However, I have to admit that my impression of Rampage is that it is an irresponsible movie.  I know that I firmly believe that media directly causing violence is nonsense and if someone is predisposed to psychotic anti-social behavior then that person is already screwed up.  No, Rampage is irresponsible because I know nineteen year old Joshua would have taken the rants and message of the movie very seriously.  Would I have gone out and shot people?  Certainly not.  Could some nutcase take Rampage as gospel - hell some of the talk between Bill and his buddy sound like conversations I've had - and have the movie playing while he reads The Turner Diaries and loads ammo into magazines?  Yeah.

That being said, Uwe Boll made a really dark and at times extremely sharp movie.  If you have the stomach for high levels of violence and are not prone to nutcase behavior then I strongly recommend it.  If you are a nutcase then maybe you should leave the bunker and go have a Slushie.  Go to the pound and play with puppies and kittens.  Go to the park and feed the ducks.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Red Dead Redemption (2010) Rockstar San Diego. First Impressions...

Zero is being kind to Red Dead Redumption.  This game sucks.  It asinine, more repetitive than fuck all WoW step'n'fetch missions, and worst of all...boring.  The graphics are on par with Halo.  The character models look like fucktards who spent most of their fucktarded childhoods eating wall candy.  The score is supposed to be haunting yet thrilling but ends up being a half-assed Morricone farted through a harmonica and across the strings of a steel guitar.  Even a Tarantino soundtrack is more original.  While suffering through the opening sequences I just wished I was able to watch Season I of Deadwood, maybe then I might be impressed by gore and profanity.  Rockstar-whores unite!  It's another Houser piece of shit, formulaic and trite with cheap thrills and misogyny, fumbling to stand on the shoulders of brilliant pop culture.  Oh look!  In this bizarro version of Back to the Future III I can pistol whip a whore!

Wait, what?

Apologies, I was briefly afflicted with teh stoopid.

RDD is pretty darned awesome.  I'm sure I'll change my tune once the bloom is off the rose but for now I'm really enjoying my time in Rockstar San Diego's bizarro-early Twentieth Century Western.  RDD takes place roughly in the first decade of the 1900s and watching the encroachment of technology on the Old West trope is awesome (it reminds me of The Wild Bunch quite a bit).  Here's a brief rundown of my thoughts in the first ten hours of game play:

The Good:
  • This may sound insane but I haven't seen empty vistas look so damn gorgeous.  Whatever shaolin programming Rockstar San Diego pulled off, well color me impressed.  The simple fact that the landscape rolls on uninterrupted in some cases is impressed.  Last night I came down from riding the high country as the sun was setting in the West.  As I headed in the direction of town I realized that, although the town of Armadillo was still a great distance away I could see lights coming on, the thick plume of smoke of the train rolling into town, and very faintly I could hear the train's whistle on the air.  I really wanted to do a screen capture just because it was so damn pretty.
  • RDD rewards exploration quite a bit (though there is touch of...well I'll get to it in a bit) and I unlocked some treasure hunter missions last night.  As we all know - I love treasure hunting and exploration (it might be one of my favortie aspects of gaming) - and attempting to hunt across the wilderness trying to match land formations to a treasure map makes me happy.  Now I just need to find that tree with the cow skull nailed to it.
  • Oddly enough I spent a few hours yesterday playing Texas Hold 'Em and horseshoes.  I was caught cheating and fought some duels.
  • The score is now on my must buy list.  Sure it's sparse harmonica and steel guitar and when action kicks in there's some gripping bass but I happen to like Western music.
  • Rockstar quality writing as apr for course but for some reason, I'm actually worried about what's gonna happen to the characters.  I have an impending sense of doom.
  • Leaping from a horse to a moving train is awesome.
  • I had a very upsetting moment last night when roaming.  I hear a man crying and went to investigate.  He was kneeling next to the corpse of a woman and sobbing, then he shot himself.  I wish I had been quick enough to save him.
  • Other weird and creepy moments involved: returning a wife to her husband (I had the choice of either letting her leave, talking to her, or simply hogtying her.  I hogtied her and carried her back), dealing with cannibals, and assorted lunatics out in the wilderness.
  • Hilarious moments: some drunk staggers out of the back of the saloon and proceeds to piss on the side of the outhouse, after beating a verbally abusive shit kicker at horse shoes I walk away only to hear him say "Hey friend, can I interest you in a game of horseshoes?", driving a four horse team stagecoach cross country through the desert and nose diving into an arroyo, shooting a bandit in the leg only to hear him exclaim "What the Hell didja do that fer?!?", and while trying to lasso a horse I was yanked ass over tea kettle into a fence post.
The Bad:
  • Even with the tutorials on I have been unable (or am still am confused) about how to do some things in game.  I realize practice makes perfect but I think I need to check some online tutorials - especially concerning duelling.
  • Cougars, mountain lions, whatever the hell they are called, are dicks.  They kill the shit out of me on a regular basis.  Even when I'm trying to pay attention to my surroundings sometimes the bastards just fly out of the ground, knock me off my horse, kill the horse and whale the tar out of me before I can do anything.  Once I was hunting boar and not only did the boar charge me but two freaking mountain lions came tearing out of the brush.  Jerks.
  • Repetition of non-story based dialogue is a problem in all video games and RDD is no exception.  While playing poker I wanted to shoot the other players not for winning but saying the same six lines over and over again.
  • While I am playing a "good" guy, doing the honorable thing and helpin folks, these lazy NPCs come out of the woodwork sometimes.  I don't mind and in fact I enjoy it however when I'm about to fight a duel don't ask me to save your x,y,z.  "Can't you people see that there are guns here?"  Other times I am amazed at how many people are wandering around the emptiness either being mauled by animals (and need saving) and getting their shit stolen. 
  • Zero Punctuation is correct about the stupid WoW-ish step'n'fetch missions - particularly while hunting.  "Get me six boar tusks."  Stupid game, get your own damn boar tusks.  Or...if you want me to get boar tusks then at least have them show up with a frequency that mirrors the hordes of wolves and cougars roaming the country side.
  • C'mon Rockstar!  I can't swim?!?  Are you kidding me?
  • There's no way to skip the skinning cut scene.  Boo.
  • While attempting to rescue someone from bandits:  I untied the victim, who promptly brandished iron and charged into the teeth of the enemy and got shot to pieces.  Hey moron, don't warn me about the danger then charge into it.  Leroy Jenkins rides again.
The Ugly (and forgivable):
  • Yes, there are some twitches in the physics and some bugs.  Are they game breakers?  Not in the least.  Sure, it's confusing to see the top of a horse floating in the middle of the street but it's not my horse so screw it.
  • Speaking of horses I like the horses in RDD...however "summoning" your horse with a sharp whistle sometimes is frustrating.  Once I was out hunting and needed to go back to town so I whistled for the horse.  I don't know where that damnable critter wandered off to but by the time it showed up I was busy becoming cougar chow.
  • Like I said before, I'm playing a good guy but every so often a malevolent urge will come over me.  I really want to figure how to lasso and drag someone behind my horse.  While attempting to rescue a citizen being mauled by coyotes I accidently shot him first...oops...then I looted his corpse.  A woman had her wagon stolen so I took off after the thief.  In order to slow him down I shot one of the horses drawing the wagon.  I "accidentally" set a room and its occupants on fire by shooting the oil lamp.  My bad!  Also, walking into the vault of a bank makes people angry.  Cry babies.
I am looking forward to getting back to the game.  I need to collect up my Spaghetti Western scores although I might just turn off the music and see what the game is like with just ambient noise.

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