Friday, December 16, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
I think a lot of these things are tied to the fact I just turned 24, and I am not quite settled in that fact yet. I think I know where I should be, but I am not there currently. Strangely though, I have found I have become much more meditative. I don't get angry as much as I used to, nor as quickly. This change has really surprised me. I used to be the stereotypical "angry young man," more or less rebounding through life, latching onto whatever cause fueled my rage at the time.
Something is different now. I am no longer as angry as I once was. I've even tried to get that angry, and it seems to have burned itself out. It isn't a matter of being less involved about politics, indeed, I am more so now than I was before, but it seems like the last reserve of my anger has dissipated.
I'm actually not complaining. I could get used to this feeling, about being much more at peace with things. I guess this is just a part of maturing.
Until next time,
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Personally, I do not have much hope the movement will actually change anything. Yes, the 99% does exist, but it is such an amalgum of special interest groups, I do not think they will be able to form a cohesive platform. I think this is largely more about issuing a wake-up call to politicians, to let them know th general populace is not pleased with the way things are being done, and will not hesitate to use that power on the next election day to bring into office the people we think will help us achieve the goals that we seek.
Until Next Time,
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Having decided to go somewhere more upscale for my girlfriend's birthday, she decided upon Mallorca, a Continental Spanish restaurant in the South Side of Pittsburgh. From the moment you walk in the door, it is apparent that the restaurant is popular, and that they have no problem at all capitalizing on this by trying to jam as many tables as possible into each room. The net result of this, shall we gently refer to it as "close-knit," arrangement of tables is an ambient noise just slightly louder than a commercial airliner taking off, as a sudden feeling of companionship with your fellow humans as you find yourself practically sitting on a stranger's lap. (Side note: This is particularly intriguing in a situation where something is served en fuego. My companion had to check himself to ensure that he wasn't singed after the next table was served.)
But I digress slightly. Our little dining party that evening consisted of myself, my girlfriend: Alzea, her friend, Anastasia, and Anastatia's boyfriend: D' arth Vadaar. (Yes, those are not their real names, and yes, I let them choose their pseudonyms.) Now, at this point in time, we were the youngest party in the restaurant by what appeared to be a good fifteen years. Part of me feels that this had a lot to do with what transpired that evening.
After ordering a pitcher of sangria and an appetizer of calamari, which I must say is among the best I have had (So there, I can be fair when I want to!), we ordered the main course, my three dining companions all ordered the paella, while I ordered the lobster ravioli. The ravioli were good, not much to write home about, but acceptable. The flavors were all a bit muddled, and I found the presentation rather lacking. The debacle of the evening began when Alzea asked me to sample the paella, as something did not seem quite right. The mussels were good, as was the rice, but the issue came down to two types of seafood; the clams, and the lobster.
To begin with, I have had fresh clams before, practically as soon as they were dug up. As a result of their habitat, some grit (a fancy culinary term for sand) is to be expected. These clams, however, has a veritable playground of sand in each shell, leaving the meat so gritty it was practically inedible.
The lobster, however was worse. A good lobster tail is light, soft, and utterly delicious, with a crisp sea flavor. Lobster is one of those amazing foods that just make you feel good (unless you are allergic to shellfish, and then you can feel rather, well, dead. But you all know what I am talking about. It is a luxury food.) This lobster, however, would have been better served as an inedible garnish. Having been rather disappointed in these dishes, the manager then entered the scene.
In most good restaurants, it is considered good practice for the manager to make the rounds of the tables, inquiring after the meal. In this situation, the manager serves as the representative of the chef, and to a greater extent, of the restaurant itself. This night was the first time in my life where I actually spoke up rather than merely nodding in assent. The rather smarmy manager listened as I politely pointed out what was wrong, and then condescendingly asked, "Forgive me, but have you ever had paella before, and what did you expect?" I truly do not believe he would have taken such a superior tone if we had been older.
Now, I am not saying that I know everything about food, but I have a passion for knowing about it, and my three companions that night were all international travellers, so we have all had paella before. I still remained respectful, despite his tone, and politely declined his offer to have something else prepared, as that seafood had quite spoiled our appetites.
He was, however, a rather confrontational fellow, and that I believe that this where what I will henceforth refer to as the Incident began. Instead of merely noting our request and moving on, the manager became so energetic in his manner that he began to create a scene, and was impressing so much upon my girlfriend that he began to upset the entire table, and especially her. I finally put a stop to the matter, by firmly stating, " She. Said. She would not. Like. Anything Else." in a rather aggrieved tone, as dealing with him was becoming truly maddening.
Upon hearing my now confrontational tone, he began to back away. I was then confronted about a minute or two later by the owner of the restaurant, who insisted that the lobster could not be dry because "that is how we have done it for 20 years." (I still maintain to that statement, just because something is done the same way over and over again, it doesn't necessarily make it the right way, but I digress.)
At this point, I surmised that Mallorca is not used to being criticized, judging from the scene they
were making over one flawed dish. They could have merely taken it away at any time, and the problem would have been solved. Instead, the restaurant escalated into a scene.
By this time, I had lost most of my charitable feelings towards the restaurant, and I maintained to the owner that the dish was overdone. Granted, my temper got the better of me at that moment, and I referred to the lobster as being "massacred," but I at least censored myself from telling him the finished product had the texture of a hard rubber ball.
Before this goes on further, I think I need to explain what the sticking point for me is. We were asked how the food was, and we responded with how we felt it was, only to be told that we were wrong, not once, but three times, by two managers and the owner. To ask someone a question, and then respond that they are incorrect, especially in matters of opinion, is just simply being rude. We did not complain to get anything, as we made it clear several times that all we wanted was the situation to be over, and instead of that, we were then made the subject of a giant scene caused by the restaurant trying to prove us wrong. (In a room with wall-to-wall tables, to be visited by almost every member of the staff qualifies as an impressive scene.) When I go out to dine, I don't like to be made a fool of, and I especially don't like it when the restaurant tries to shame me because they do not like an honest opinion of their dish. That is nothing but an abuse of power.
To be fair, they did offer us desert and after dinner drinks, which we did accept, as an apology. And the creme brulee is quite excellent, as were the drinks from the bar. This gesture, however, was suddenly hit be a sour note, as when we were presented with desert, one of my companions overheard the original manager making the remark "It doesn't matter what they want, they won't like it anyway."
My final assessment of the place. I look at things practically. I can go elsewhere, and be insulted for much less money. Our dinner party was on our very best behavior (indeed, better than several of the older parties at surrounding tables,) and we were treated poorly because we are young. Just because we are young does not immediately mean that we do not have likes or dislikes, or opinions on what we eat and drink. It just rude to be asked an opinion, and be told you are wrong for it. It then only makes things worse when a restaurant tries to bully you into it's viewpoint, no matter how right or wrong they are. If I am going to be bullied and insulted, I intend to at least enjoy myself in the process, and there is no way that can happen here. In short, my final thought: Go to Mallorca, if you really want, the drinks and desert are quite good, but I can virtually guarantee you will not find me there ever again.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
The reason this garment is considered a paragon of toughness is predominately due to the long history and the traditional purpose of the kilt. The original design of the kilt was that it was intended from the very beginning as a travelling garment. As Highlanders were a tribal people, the garment was designed to be worn on the move. Therefore, the Kilt served several purposes, as a garment, as a shelter, and as an identifying badge.
The garment aspect of the kilt should be rather self explanatory. It serves incredibly well as a lower body garment. From first hand experience, I have worn my kilt on both the hottest and coldest days of the year, and it was comfortable on both days, as it is cool in summer, and warm in winter.
The shelter aspect of the garment deals predominately with the construction of a full kilt. Originally, a kilt was little more than a belted piece of wool, approximately a yard and a half by four yards. The idea behind this was that as a tribal people, you would have to carry everything with you as you moved place to place. As a result of this, the more you would carry, the less territory you would be able to cover. The kilt helped to provide an answer to this, as after a long day marching or travelling, the individual could just remove his kilt, shake out the pleats, wrap himself in the garment and go to sleep. This saved him the need of carrying his own bedding, and as any backpacker (or someone who had to carry a suitcase from the East Village to the Upper West Side) can tell you, every pound counts when you have to journey long distances.
The badge aspect, however, might be one of the most important aspects of the kilt. In a tribal society, being able to identify your own people can literally make the difference between life and death. This is where the very material of the kilt came into play. The kilt is not made with any ordinary wool, but a specially pattered one called the Tartan. Each individual clan had their own pattern, and that would be the only pattern they would wear. The traveller of clansman with a well trained eye would therefore be able to tell instantly if another man was a friend or foe.
These are all manly aspects of the garment, but what truly adds to the masculinity is the people who designed it. The standard equipment of a Highlander says much about the warlike aspects of the people. In the heyday of the kilt (16Th-18Th centuries) a knife or dagger would be something no man would leave the house without. Indeed, most men still carry a pocket knife as part of their daily gear. What separates the Highlander from other men is the choice of knives. While most daggers from the time period were approximately 5 to 7 inches long, the typical Highlander would be carrying his dirk, with a length of 9 to 14 inches. Two inches in a blade during combat can make the difference between a wounded enemy and a dead one. In battle, the dead enemy is preferable as he cannot stab you back.
In addition to the dirk, the well dressed Highlander would also be carrying a sgian dubh, or "black knife," tucked into his right sock. This was a small knife, about 3 to 4 inches in length, but its placement allowed it to be easily reached at all times, including if things became rather heated at the dinner table. In addition to those weapons as part of their daily gear, it was known that some Highlanders would also strap one more additional blade to their thigh, underneath the kilt.
The British were so afraid of the Highlanders that following the end of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1746, the kilt was outlawed along with the bagpipes as weapons of war, alongside swords, shields, and muskets. The kilt is therefore the garment of choice for some of the toughest men in history.
Finally, I know from my own experience the feeling you have when you wear the kilt. When you are kilted, you have a connection to the past, and in most cases, your family history. And it gives you a sense of power, as in modern society, when men get manicures and trade tips on exfoliating, the kilt in a giant "FUCK YOU" thrown directly in the face of conformity. It serves as a badge once again, except this time in reverse, as a proclamation in your rights as an individual, declaring that you aren't going to go quietly with the rest of the herd. What could be more masculine than that?
Until next time,
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Let's start right at the top, this is a show that touches on humanity's greatest hits; animal sacrifice, brutality, sex, violence, and lust. And I will never be able to look at a stuffed mushroom quite the same way again. And if you let that deter you, I'll be brutally honest, you're an idiot. It has been a long time since a show has affected me on such a visceral level. It's unsettling on all the right levels, and is really a perfect date play, as most will find it very stimulating, ready to generate further interaction.
I know I can't really offer much in the way of plot, and that isn't because I'm anti-spoiler, it's due to the fact that so much takes place, it's difficult to offer a synopsis. (And I can practically guarantee that you'll never guess the twists.)
With so much going on, it's hard to determine a star of the production. Is it Steve Tolin's jaw dropping special effects, Jeffrey Carpenter's razor sharp direction, or the perfectly nuanced performances of Michael Fuller, Tressa Glover, Amy Landis, and Johnathan Viser? I honestly couldn't tell you. The perfection of the recipe is in it's ingredients, which come together to make perfect whole. And this production is a perfect example of this theory.
Now, for the little special desert of this review. I have a pair of tickets to give away to see this show. Leave a comment, and I'll enter you in a drawing to win. Oh, and the website, by the way, http://www.webbricolage.org/
Until Next time, Andrew
Friday, March 25, 2011
A good place to begin would be last Saturday, after waking up early to make sure I made it to the audition in Shadyside, I headed out for the day. After a decent audition (I didn't get cast, by the way, but I honestly wasn't expecting it) I realized it was a beautiful day, and wandered down to Oakland. Following a quick stop at an antique book store (books being right alongside food and women among my weaknesses), I went to a delicious lunch. The review of the restaurant will be posted later. After lunch, I then headed to Schenley Plaza, and after a quick nap on the green, fell into a combination philosophical debate/ musical jam session with a group from Ohio State. A beautiful day always brings out the adventurous side in people. In the late afternoon, a brief but thoroughly enjoyable rehearsal was then followed by an absolutely delightful cast gathering. For a cast of 6 (7 with the director), 6 bottles of wine and a bottle of whiskey led to a really fun, yet sociable night overall.
The next day being Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, I was really excited to participate. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time. For those of you who don't know what happens at Holi, among the music and dancing, there is much throwing of colored powder and spraying of colored water. It's simple, joyous fun. After being completely covered in dye by the end of the day, and eating my fill of delicious Indian food, I ended up finishing the day by hanging out with my friends from Slackline Pittsburgh, and Food Not Bombs.
It was fortunate that the weekend was so great, as this week was full of important decisions that needed to be made, both personal and profession. (Invariably, it always seem as if the two are intertwined.) I hate to be extremely vague, but in this case I need to be until I can see where things start to land.
Until next time,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Until the next time,
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
To start off with, a night bus is always an...interesting place to meet some new people. Usually, it's my preferred method of travel, but due to the lateness of the hour, I usually prefer to pop a sleeping pill or two, pass out, and wake up in my destination, fully rested. Unfortunately, or in this case, fortunately, the fates conspired a bit by having the bus packed to the gills, my own forgetfulness forgeting my medication, so I was wide awake.
As fresh as it gets.
After the audition, a few of us (Steve and Ally) decided to celebrate and grab a beer at the Smiling Moose। Granted, I ended up with cider (which is manly in its own way) and some poutine (Ally's Canadian, so that's why we had to get an order.) As usual, and after the hilarity of Steve and myself trying to teach Ally to play pool (neither of us are very good to begin with, so a perfect example of the blind leading the blind.) We parted our separate ways, hopefully to meet again (if we get cast) and went back to our separate lives. That's one of the reasons I love to travel, even when you're in a strange city, you're never actually alone.
Until next time,
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Hot Dog salvation may be found through this door.
A well-balanced (?) meal.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
As a native Pittsburgher, no matter what your ethnic background, you are familiar with pierogies (or pyrohi, pirogy, etc. it all depends on who you ask.) These Eastern European pockets of carb-happy goodness are one of the major facets of Pittsburgh cuisine. A pasta shell, wrapped around a mashed potato filling, then boiled, then topped with melted butter and caramelized onions, there is no way that they are healthy. But, that is neither here nor there, it's all about flavor and tradition.
Here's the first part of the admission: Background wise, I'm mostly English, Scottish and Irish. Most people would say that then gives me no right to discuss ethnic food of another culture That is why I went to the source, first generation Ukrainians who know their food the best.
And once again, I was surprised to find that the food takes a backseat to the company. I met some amazing people today, such as Katherine, a grandmother, who constantly referred to me as "Strong Young Man" Other notables there were Andrew, who left his family behind in the Ukraine, and Gene, a former member of the Secret Service, who protected President Nixon.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Mary, a brassy grandmother who, when I was warned to stay away from her, responded with "Don't worry, he's a man, he likes the abuse"
Another thing I learned, is that I have nothing on a grandmother when it comes to cooking. I can try, with elaborate measurements and difficult techniques, but nothing is quite as surprising as after having cut out 120 or so pierogi shells, to turn around and have them ask where the next batch is. I was run ragged in a really good way by a bunch of sprightly grandmothers.
Of course, pierogies were not the only ethnic food I was exposed to today. I had my first experience with braunschwieger when it was offered to me. It is a very interestingly textured sausage, comprised of mostly pork liver and jowl meat. I appreciated the offer, but the texture and liver flavor together were just a little too much together.
The most surprising thing for me though, is what happened after the cooking. My friends know that I'm not a religious man by any stretch of the imagination. And if you read this, you know that I've been having some rough going. I stopped by the sanctuary today, because I've been feeling so lost, sat down, and started weeping, for a solid 20 minutes. I realized that I've been holding on to a lot of pain for a long while, and I was able to let it go. This is the best I've felt in a long time.
So, in the words of the philosopher Jagger: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try some times, you might find, you get what you need." Sometimes, the universe does take care of it's own.
By the way, for some amazing pierogies, visit http://www.stjohnspittsburgh.com/pirohi.htm and follow the directions to order. I guarantee they are some of the best pierogies in Pittsburgh.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Fun fact: That little bit of green in the up left corner is about 20X hotter than the vegetation on the bottom of the photo.
Mmmmm...delicious Maillard reaction.
Next, take about half of the cut up jalapeno, and the onions, and give them a quick sweat in a small saute pan. This will add even more flavor. Once the onions are lightly caramelized, add them with the remainder of the jalapeno to the chili. Finally, and here is the family secret (don't knock it until you've tried it) add 1 heaping tablespoon of creamy peanut butter to cut the acid a little bit. Stir to combine, and allow to heat through. It can be eaten immediately, or allow to simmer for a few hours, and it will be even better.
Delicious, and absolutely worth the work.
Thus ends the ode to man-food.