Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rick’s Best Things from 2015


iZombie is a Television program that debuted in March of 2015.  It is loosely based on a comic book series from Vertigo Comics by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred. It is the story of a Doctor becoming a zombie. In order for her to function she needs brains. This leads her to become a coroner to have access to these brains. One side effect of brain consumption is she is able to see the memories of the deceased as visions. She uses these to solve crimes that the decedents witnessed. One drawback is while the brains are in her system she exhibits personality traits of the decedents. This is almost a crime procedural version of the original concept. However, it works. They are doing a similar treatment to the Sandman version of Lucifer which I have a bad feeling will not work. The original source material was definitely not the crime procedural this show is, the main character does not have the same name either. This show is a fresh spin on zombies and the crime procedural. As of December 2015, the first season is available on Netflix.

Mad Max: Fury Road

2015 has seen several films returning to old film franchises: Terminator, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and James Bond. Surprisingly Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the most successful in terms of character development and story. Unlike the other film franchises, all of the entries in this series were directed by the same director, George Miller. I loved this film. Even in the quieter parts of it, it did not feel like it was dragging. Miller kept the momentum and pace at of good level. He also knows these characters and this world. With all the controversy about decent female leads in Action films, this proves it is very possible. Even though Mad Max is the title character, it is Furiosa’s tale. It also melded practical effects with CGI in a seamless and spectacular manner.

Muse Drones

Muse is one of my favorite bands. In 2015, they released the album Drones. I have listened to it multiple times. I loved it. Psycho and Dead Inside were the first two songs I became acquainted with. With those, Mercy, the Globalist, and Aftermath are among my favorites on this album. My favorite Muse albums are still Black Holes & Revelations, and Resistance, however this is still a decent album, and my favorite of the year.

Big-Ass Sandwiches Brick and Mortar Location

In 2015, Big-Ass Sandwiches in Portland Oregon made the transition from food cart to brick and mortar restaurant. Their signature sandwich is a sandwich with the French fries in the sandwich. By going to brick and mortar, they were able to expand they menu. Now they offer Regular-Ass Sandwiches (sandwiches with the fries on the side) and Cold-Ass Sandwiches (sandwiches using all refrigerated or room temperature ingredients).  They offer two non-sandwich items, Brian’s Meaty Balls (their meat balls with pasta) and Homemade Mac and Cheese. I have been to the location a few times since its opening in June. The food is still amazing. They have vinegar based coleslaw that inspired me to do the same. I have always suggested people go with the weekly special that has not changed. With the menu expansion the special are no longer limited to sandwiches. I loved this place back in the food cart days and still love it in the brick and mortar.

Bitch Planet

Technically the first issue came out in 2014. It came out in December, I rarely think something is the best just based on the first issue. I did not read it till after January 1st, 2015. For me, it is new for the year. A tale set in the future where all the progress in equal rights for women has been reversed to worse than it was before. Women who refuse to follow society’s demands of inequality are sent to prison for being non-compliant. It is written in the vein of the women in prison films and shows from the 1970’s. Kelly Sue DeConnick has written an angry treatise about the anti-women attitude in geek/nerd culture and in our society at large. She uses a dystopian future similar to the one seen in A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It is a wonderful look at where we could go if we are not careful.

Raven and the Writing Desk

I have been a fan of Chris Lester’s Metamor City Podcast. It was full cast audio dramas of his work all set in his Metamor City setting. That went on indefinite hiatus in 2011. He returned with a new Podcast Raven and the Writing Desk. This time it is his narrations of his stories including a few in non-Metamor City settings. Metamor City is what if a fantasy setting evolved into a world similar to ours. That is what you have with Metamor City. Chris Lester’s podcast also includes updates on his writing progress, public appearances, interviews with those in the Podcast fiction and self publishing world, and so on. I am glad he is back and he is even publishing his works again in E-Book format. It is well worth the time.

Best-Ever Cookbook by Bay Books (2007)

This book was published in 2007 and I have owned it for over 5 years. I never cooked from it till 2015, hence why it is here. So far there is not a single dud in the recipes.  Every dish I make I put in my culinary repertoire. These are also simplified version of classic recipes found throughout the world.  I have found more traditional versions of the dishes and I am more the likely to try those, now that I have found the versions in this cookbook. The top two I have enjoyed are the Sweet Pork and the Madras Beef.  I also made Lemongrass Beef and the Asparagus & Mushroom Salad. Will I make all 500 in this cookbook? Probably not.

In Ashes Born by Nathan Lowell

I have not hidden my love of Nathan Lowell’s writing. I was introduced to his work through Podiobooks, in which the author read his own work. The first series was Trader’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series. The series followed Ishmael Wang (pronounced with the long A sound, like Wong) a young man who found himself without family or a planet to live on. He became a merchant spacer on a merchant space freighter. The series followed Ishmael from mess attendant to the Owner of his own space ship and hauling company. This book is the first in the Seeker’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. It follows Ishmael on his new journey. I loved it. Characters we had not seen since the earliest books of the first series return. The first series is leaving Podiobooks, find it and download it if you can. All of the books are available on Amazon in their Kindle store.

Heroes: Reborn

I am and have been a big fan of the Television program Heroes. I know that the later seasons were not as strong as the earlier ones, and they had some serious dropped plot threads. I still enjoyed the show, heck I still own it. When I heard they were going to air a sequel min-series, I was seriously intrigued. Personally I have not been disappointed by the new series. Certain characters have not returned, but the new story is engaging and a fun ride. HRG (Horned Rimmed Glasses) is back and so are many of the favorites. This new series had done some interesting things with the concepts of time travel and constructs. If you enjoyed the original, give the new one a try.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I liked the new Star Trek Movies, but they did not feel like Star Trek to me. This film felt like the original Star Wars trilogy. I loved it, but I do think the Director, did his usual shtick. That is in a derivate work he harkened back too much to the source material. It was wonder to see those touches, but it did seem like blatant fan service to me. Despite this, I still think it is a wonderful movie. It was dissimilar to Star Wars: The New Hope enough to make it enjoyable. There were twists and turns, expected laughs and thrills as well as the unexpected. It was great and definitely and infinitely superior to the prequels, which in and of itself is satisfying. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Milepost 4 on the Road to Wellness

In November I saw my doctor I weight 367, I regained 7 lbs. I was disappointed, but I had been eating too much potato chips and other junk food. The next week I saw the dietician and lost 2 more lbs getting to 365 lbs. I worked in November and December to cut my fast and junk food consumption again. I weighed myself on December 22, 2015 and I weighed 357. I may reach my goal a month or two late. I still have been walking three days in a row and one day off. I had a few bumps in early November but I got back onto the regimen. The plan is four days in a row of walking then one day off starting in January.

                                  Chile relleno casserole

I have been having abdominal pain since June. I started to worry about the abdominal pain. I thought it could be a groin pull, but the pain was too high for that. My potassium was seen as low back in August, because of my new blood pressure meds. I had increased my potassium intake in October and continued it through the present. I had some tests, because I had a hernia as an infant. Those tests showed no new issues in that field. The soreness is overworking muscles, so I need to learn when to rest.

                                      Rick's chili con carne

In October and November, I really worked on eating more vegetarian and vegan dishes. My cholesterol was high. I went to two to three red meat dishes to only four meat dishes period. That does not include my two or three nights out. I had previously converted ground beef dishes to ground turkey. Otherwise I am following an Ovo-Lacto-Pesco Vegetarian diet, so that means I am following a semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet. The term reducetarian fits more that I am working to reduce the consumption of meat. I am not being rigid, but doing my best to get healthier.

                                      Rick's veggie pizza

A result of the lowering of my intake of meats and starches is all of my size 56 waist pants are too loose. I seriously need a new belt. This is a good problem to have. My long term goal is 200 lbs. I may or may not get to 350 lbs by January, but the plan for 2016 is a 50 lbs goal for the whole year. I have to do this slow and steady. If I lose more next year I will be happy, but I am going to do everything in my power for 50 pounds a year. I hope to be at 300 lbs by next January.

                  Rice noodles in Thai peanut sauce

I am working on my dental issues too. I have a broken tooth and two wisdom teeth causing issues. At the first dental appointment, my blood pressure was too high due to a migraine. I am scheduled for January 6th for the broken tooth. It is currently broken below the gum line and there is swelling.

I have been also working to get more consistent care in counseling and mental health services. Since I started my new life I have been battling with serious bouts of depression. I have suspected for years I may have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I found a program that is more clinical, that last service provider was a University counseling center. That program I had to get renewed every 2 or 3 months. There was no guarantee I would have the same counselor, and after a year I would get a new one. This was not conducive to consistency of care.   

                                           10 layer salad

I am scheduled to get more tests, including calcium, kidney and liver function tests. I am doing my best to improve my health. I sometimes have to rest my regimen due to migraines, injuries, or illness. I have to just get back on the horse after these road bumps. I got to remember to keep moving and do let myself become stagnant. This is a marathon not a sprint. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Snark Attack

Why do internet nerds and geek have to tear down and attack with snark things they have only seen in previews? Are they so afraid that the thing they are looking forward too is going to be bad that they might as well assume it will be? This all started with reactions to the Superman V. Batman and Suicide Squad Trailers, and one pop culture commenter’s impressions of the upcoming DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

It all started with the reveals of some of the DC characters that will make cameos in Superman V. Batman: Dawn of Justice. The cinematic version of Aquaman is no longer the blonde haired and blue eyed, he appears to look more like a Pacific Islander. The actor portraying this character is of Pacific Islander descent. The commenters on the internet had a conniption fit. I like the idea of more diversity. Since I am a fan of Alternate Reality fiction I enjoy twists on old concepts. This is that, but instead of going with the flow the internet trolls gathered to be unmitigated pain.

They said the film will suck, some said that when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. When Jared Leto’s version of the Joker leaked on the internet, the trolls and fanboys said Suicide Squad would stink. These movies have not even been released yet. One was still in production when this all started. I understand having your opinion, but having an opinion before something even is released is uninformed and ridiculous. This is not new when Michael Keaton was announced as Batman fanboys were not happy, they were not happy when Heath Ledger was cast as Joker either. Both performances shut them the heck up.

Similar snarkiness was abound, before the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. They thought it would fail due to its obscurity. I mentioned in a previous article that Marvel seems to do well with obscure properties, especially true with the successes of Blade, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Big Hero 6. Judgments and assumptions were being made before the finished product was released.

Another possibility is now that their obsession has become popular with the mainstream, with the success of Superhero and other comic book based films and television, they do not feel like they belong to an exclusive club anymore. That is why some of their misbehavior to the newer fans. They now feel they have to be too cool and bash anything that deviates from their precious obsessions.

I read an article about the upcoming DC's Legends of Tomorrow. The writer spewed out late Bronze Age fanboy snark. He referred to the Silver Age Atom, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, and Firestorm as obscure. Obscure to the Mainstream audience maybe, and many late 80's to 90's comics book fans. Atom, Hawkman, Firestorm, and Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman were members of the Justice League. Mind you the version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl they are using in the Flash and DC's Legends of Tomorrow are more in line with the Golden Age versions. The Golden Age Hawks were members of the Justice Society of America.

These characters in one form or another have had the own headlining titles. In my opinion that is not obscure, to me Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are more obscure than the Atom, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Firestorm. With their appearances in Super Friends, both of the Justice League animated shows, and Batman: the Brave and the Bold, many folks are more familiar with the characters than previously. Rip Hunter, the Master of Time, and White Canary, I agree are obscure. Once again this is before the show’s premiere date, and the assumptions being made are based on the writer’s personal taste and experience. It ignores historical context. What is obscure to one generation is a huge pop culture franchise for another.

Here is an example, Captain Marvel (now referred to as Shazam) was so popular in the 1940’s that National Periodicals (DC Comics’ company name in the 1930’s to 1950’s) sued the parent company, Fawcett Publications, for copying Superman’s powers. Fawcett settled for fear of a prolonged legal battle. No one today would know of that popularity. Captain Marvel’s sales were over twice the amount of Superman’s. The settlement led to Fawcett getting out of comics. This also led to Marvel comics taking over the trademark of the name Captain Marvel. This is why his titles and more recently the character himself have used Shazam in the last 30 years.

It seems like these internet troll types and fanboys are unwilling to learn the history of their beloved obsessions. It is like they do not care that their ignorance shows. This problem seems to be rearing its head in many arenas in today’s society. Ignoring the past means you lack perspective. Also we seem to be in this weird era of celebrating and encouraging ignorance, which is sad.

There is a prevailing attitude of attack it in case it stinks, also is a lousy trend. I try not to make assumptions till the show, movie, or other media is released. Plus I do not care what others think, I like anything unironically. I like the Green Lantern film, but I was very clear to its shortcomings. I like both Ghost Rider films. I like the cheesy movie that is Billy Zane’s Phantom.

Overall I wait till something is out in public before making my decision. Bootlegs of stuff in post-production could be missing parts of it. Sometimes unfinished works get leaked, wait until is has been released properly. There have been films that were improved, because the director was unable to produce the film he wished and released it with his original vision at a later date. There are also a few cases where the studio was right and the later released Director’s cut was less than the original release. Remember Pop Culture is a personal preference.

It also seems that the level of discourse since the advent of the internet has seriously deteriorated. I believe this is due to the perceived anonymity. If they had to use their real names they would be afraid of repercussion to their snark and rudeness. However there are some with public identities that still spew venom and snark. Free Speech is not an excuse to be an ass and being told you are being a jerk is not an attack on your Freedom of Speech either. This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kitchen Comeback Update 2

In September, I continued my path in increasing the heat to my food. When I mean heat I mean as in spicy or piquant. The Mexican enchiladas Suizas had a wonderful kick to them. This started in June when I made the first batch of a Pace picante sauce copycat recipe.  This was hotter than I had planned. I did not stop using the salsa. Since, I have made a few things spicer than I used to do things.  I even have experimented with heat with Thai, Indian and other cuisines. I made coleslaw with Serrano chiles; I did not put enough in the batch, next time I have to use more. One issue I am noticing is that certain peppers have a large range of heat. Something that would be spicy in one batch could be milder next time. One batch of Carroll Shelby’s chili I added Hungarian hot paprika, ancho chili powder and all of the cayenne that came with the kit. It gave it some good heat.

                           Quinoa spaghetti in tonnato sauce

I am also working to use less pre-prepared foods. I found a copycat Carroll Shelby’s chili con carne recipe. That will lead to my own personal chili con carne recipe. I made the mistake in September of using a pre-made marinara sauce for my vegetarian lasagna.  I later discovered how loaded with sugar it was. In October, I have made my own homemade marinara and froze it for future use. I froze some of my homemade salsa for future use too. The vegetarian tacos I made in November called for Old El Paso taco seasoning.  I found a copycat recipe and made my own, so as to avoid sugars. All the pre-packaged taco seasonings have sugar (and/or corn syrup) and MSG in them.

                           Thai chicken and lemongrass soup

I am doing more improvising. I had leftover marinara, zucchini, and summer squash.  I added roasted garlic, onions and topped it off with parmesan cheese.  I referred to it as my low rent ratatouille, for true ratatouille I was missing eggplant, bell peppers and some of the herbs. It is funny how this improvisation came out of an experiment. Next time I make lemongrass beef or Thai chicken and lemongrass soup, the plan is to use the food chopper to make the lemon grass edible. It was too fibrous otherwise.

                                          Shoyu Chicken

In November I changed my quesadilla recipe. Since October I have been using my toaster oven to make quesadillas. My recipe was simple cheese, flour tortillas, and Valentina hot sauce. In November, I replaced the hot sauce with chipotle powder, or chipotle powder and ancho powder. The smokiness of the chili pepper powder really gives it a kick and flavor with out the biting sourness of the vinegar found in the hot sauce. I have been adding the chipotle powder to many dishes to enhance flavor as opposed to salt.

Hungarian pan fried pork steak with Hungarian paprika gravy and mashed cauliflower

Then after researching Mexican cheeses, I discovered that traditionally quesadillas are made with corn tortillas and without oil. Previously I was frying them in olive oil, but I found them too greasy. I tried them without the oil and using the cheese with the chipotle and ancho powders. They were not as crispy as I tend to like them, but I still loved them.

Spinach pizza with pesto, feta, sun dried tomatoes, and shaved parmesan 

I experimented with more vegetarian and vegan dishes. This was due to the advice of my doctor.  I am working to eat healthier. I have a Veggetti device that turns vegetables into spaghetti or fettuccine shapes. I have a few ideas there like cucumber noodles with a dill yogurt sauce (tzatziki salad), cucumber noodles with a spicy pickle dressing (Thai cucumber condiment inspired salad), zucchini or cucumber noodles in tonnato sauce, zucchini noodles in pesto, zucchini noodles in marinara sauce, and a cucumber noodle salad based on bread & butter pickles. I was making more egg dishes as well.   
                          Asparagus and mushroom salad

There are few dishes I really want to try out. They are noodles in Thai Peanut sauce from scratch, Mexican pipián sauce (a pumpkin seed sauce), Indian Saag (either lamb or paneer cheese), Puerto Rican tostones (twice fried mashed plantains), Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), Thai massaman curry, and homemade pesto. I also found a German delicatessen that makes their own sausages including Hungarian, and Polska kielbasa. I am thinking of picking a few up for a meal.

                            Spaghetti squash enchilada boats

September 2015

Mexican enchiladas Suizas, Indonesian lemongrass beef with rice, Yucatan sopa de lima, Rick’s vegetarian lasagna (zucchini noodles with garlic and onion marinara, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and mushrooms), turkey Polska kielbasa scramble (turkey Polska kielbasa, eggs, hash browns, and onions), Rick’s low rent ratatouille (zucchini, summer squash, onions, garlic, leftover marinara sauce, and topped with shaved parmesan cheese), Vegetable medley (asparagus, carrots and potatoes) with eggs, and honey mustard chicken with rice.

                          Vegetarian tacos with spicy crema

October 2015

Pizza with homemade marinara (turkey pepperoni and skim milk mozzarella), chilled tangy avocado soup, turkey bratwursts with mashed potatoes, ground turkey tacos with Serrano vinegar base coleslaw, homemade salsa, Denver scramble (eggs, ham, green bell pepper, onions, Cheddar cheese, and hash browns), quinoa spaghetti in tonnato sauce (tuna, anchovies, lemon juice, capers and olive oil) garnished with parmesan cheese, parsley, and black pepper, Turkey ham with mashed potatoes, California scramble (Spanish chorizo, hash browns, onions, olives, Ortega mild green chiles garnished with avocado and salsa), Thai chicken and lemongrass soup with jasmine rice, Madras beef curry with jasmine rice, quesadillas with Valentina hot sauce, Carroll Shelby’s Chili con Carne with ground turkey (added garlic, corn, Ortega mild green chiles, diced tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, and onions), and Shoyu chicken with jasmine rice.

                                      Gazpacho Mexicano

November 2015

Country link sausage with mashed potatoes, quesadillas with chipotle powder, Hungarian pan fried steak with Hungarian paprika gravy and garlic mashed cauliflower, spinach pesto pizza (pesto, spinach, sun dried tomato, feta and shaved parmesan), black bean and cheese burritos, turkey cheddar bratwursts with mashed potatoes, asparagus and mushroom salad (with red bell pepper, arugula, and a citrus dressing), corn quesadillas with chipotle and ancho powder, spaghetti squash enchilada boats, gazpacho Mexicano (Mexican gazpacho, the difference is jalapeño, lime, cilantro, and spicy tomato juice), vegetarian tacos with spicy crema, chile relleno casserole, homemade taco seasoning, and Rick’s ground turkey chili con carne (diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, mild green chiles, corn, black beans, and small red beans).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Not Acting My Age

Based on the Television, Films (mostly reruns on Television), and music I grew up with, people would think I was 10 to 20 years older than I am. I watched a lot of films on TV from the 30's to the 60's. Since I spent a lot of time in my youth in the Greater Los Angeles area which had 4 independent TV stations that means they did not belong to a network.  That also meant quite a good deal of reruns and films from before 1980. Fox launched in 1986, when I was in college. I was in my mid twenties for WB (1995) and UPN (1995). WB and UPN merged to become the CW in 2006. We did not get Cable till I was 14 or 15. In those days there were a lot of reruns on Cable too.  It was cheap programming.

Growing up in the seventies radio still played a good deal of music from the previous decade. Music had a longer shelf life. Pop stations in the early 80's still played music from the late 70's. I also got into music very young, at 7 or 8. This was partly due to my uncle who was 8 years older. He was also a musician.  Many of his tastes wore off on me (hard rock, classic rock, early metal, psychedelic rock, Southern rock, country rock, progressive rock, blues rock, jazz rock fusion and so on). I got into other music but 60's and 70's rock is my comfort zone. This is why the Soundtracks for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Animated Series speak to me. It is mostly late 60's, 70's and early 80's music.

All those old movies I watched led to an appreciation of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Golden Age of Television. Many of the Legends from that era have left us in the last decade. As a kid I watched Tom Hatten on KTLA; he had a show called Family Film Festival on from 1978 to 1992. That is where my love of Danny Kaye, Hope & Crosby, Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis, Gene Kelly, and more started. That show was a precursor to what AMC did in the 80’s till 2003 and what Turner Classic Movies does.

I previously discussed the shelf life of media being longer in the 70’s and 80’s. This period was the early years of video rental. With the advent of the internet, access to this has increased but there is so much to occupy our time. The classics get lost in the mix. In regards to music, many music video games like Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, the classics are reaching younger audiences. Films like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy help as well.

I have friends involved in the Classic Horror culture and Disney fandom. They too are about preserving the classics like I am. What spurred this particular introspection were two things, the release of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Animated Series’ Soundtrack and the passing of movie legend Maureen O’Hara on October 24, 2015. The songs on the Soundtrack hit my musical tastes head on. Ms. O’Hara was one of my few Hollywood movie crushes.

I am not saying my film, television or musical tastes stop there, but these are my foundations. I will always have the themes of I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, or Batman ’66, stuck in my head. All of those and many others started and ended before I was born. Today, except for TV Land, rarely do you see shows on TV that are older than a decade, except maybe the Simpsons, which is still producing new episodes. CBS’s online streaming service includes many classic television shows. Hulu also includes many classic shows, and so does Netflix. With there being so many choices they as I have stated earlier get lost in the deluge of options.

Back in the 80’s I used to have exhausting discussions with people my age about the colorization of Black and White films. Let’s just say I was a film purist. Especially many films made in the 50’s and 60’s, that decided to be in Black and White for artistic reasons. This was especially the case with film noir. 30 years later that turned out to be an abysmal fad, however there are a few classics that are only available in the colorized version. A few films have purposely made black and white versions of the films, for example the Mist. It works, if done right and the right subject matter. Colorization still happens, but not to the degree it did in the 80’s and early 90’s.

I have noticed certain fandoms have been known to go back to the originals. Star Trek and Doctor Who fans are known for going back to discover the originals. Not all of those fans, but more than the average TV watcher today under 30. In my experience Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Disney, Horror, and Superhero fans are more likely to watch older, classic works. Some classics are kept alive by the Television Networks. The Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, and the Rankin-Bass TV specials are still shown, available streaming, or accessible on DVD and/or Blu-ray today.

We need to keep the classics alive, to do that we need to expose younger generations to these works, regardless of format. When a remake is made, we need to point folks to the original and start the dialogue. Back in the mid to late 90’s when I heard a group of kids lauding the talent of Marilyn Manson, I pointed them to the acts I thought he was borrowing from, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Ozzy Osbourne. In the early 2000’s I pointed kids into Hip Hop to Funk, specifically George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic collective. Don’t be condescending or talk down to the kids.

This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Thing About Substances

People, who know me, know I am a bit of a teetotaler.  I do drink, but it is very rare. My history with me taking illicit or illegal drugs or recreational drugs is limited too. Let’s get one thing out of the way; I am an adult child of an alcoholic. My father went into recovery for alcoholism when I was three. Both of my blood uncles and my brother have struggled with alcohol and/or alcoholism. Several members of my family including some of those mentioned have struggled with drug dependence to illegal and/or legal.  My ex, Barbara, had issues with substance abuse too. Part of that was I did not want to know, the other was like many who substance abuse, she was a pathological liar. 

I know I have an addictive personality. I have been known to spend too much with blind collectibles trying to get the one or ones I desired. It is a big reason I try to avoid games like HeroClix or collectible card games. Due to those reasons I am very wary of intoxicants and gambling. I have seen the damage those things can do to people at their worst. I know I have what could be considered an obsessive personality, even though that has been toned down in the last 10 years. Many of my pop culture obsessions have gone to the wayside.

As I have said before, due to my medical conditions I spent my childhood in and out of surgery. I was under the influence of pharmaceutical drugs, all legal. I did not like the way they made me feel. When I got to be old enough to possibly experience drugs, I was not interested. First I had experience the pharmaceutical versions of many opiates, barbiturates, and cocaine derivatives. Second I knew that the street versions had risks due to cutting the drug with another substance and those substances could be toxic on their own. Thirdly I did not like they way the pharmaceutical versions made me feel, so why would I like the street version any better? 

In many ways due to my medical history I had little control as a kid, so I exerted it where I could. And staying away from drugs was a way to do that. In University I drank one to three in a sitting, maybe once or twice a month at the most. I had more important things in my mind to spend my money on (movies, comic books, recreational books, table tope RPGs, and food). In High School I loved going to Theme/Amusement parks for the thrill rides.  Once I moved to Oregon full time that was not as possible and I did not trust the attractions at carnivals and fairs for safety reasons.

It is not that I don’t like alcohol, but I drive a large amount and do not wish to get a DUI.  Even when I do drink 3 to 4 is my maximum, 1 to 2 is my norm. This rule did start back when I was only 150 lbs. I have not adjusted things since I have gained all this weight in the last 30 years. The cost of alcohol at bars seems ridiculous. Last time I drank Rum and Cola with Captain Morgan’s Bite (lime flavored rum) it cost me $8.

Tobacco, I never got into because of my breathing issues due to my medical conditions. I had grown up with two smokers and my brother smoked for years, all three have since quit. When I got into Shamanism, I tried to use it ceremonially, which means once a month or one a quarter. That stalled out, I eventually stopped altogether. However my former partner was a chain smoker. I saw that as a useless and expensive habit. I have been in a smoke free household for almost 4 years. That has been great. I have friends who smoke. That is their choice, I do not judge.

As I have said I never did any street drugs, as being afraid of it being tainted as well as my aversion to their pharmaceutical versions. Marijuana on the other hand I did try at the tender age of 25. Since, I have used it a total of 4 or 5 times. I was not impressed with that either. Many of my jobs had UA tests so I did not want to fail those and possibly lose my job. I lived with someone on medical marijuana, so was already afraid I would fail due to contact high.

Overall, I do not want to follow down the same road as many of my male relatives. After living with someone who was a substance abuser, I am more sensitive about it than I was before. I tend to limit my drinks to two in the rare times I do drink. I do not expect others to live like I do. This is my personal choice. All I wish is that people respect it. My friends tend to do that. If they did not, then why keep them as friends? 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Milepost 3 on the Road to Wellness

In August, September, and October I continued with using more turkey and limiting red meat to two or three dishes a month. Ground beef has been replaced with ground turkey. I made pizza with turkey pepperoni and skim milk mozzarella. Ground turkey has been used in dirty rice, chili con carne, and taco meat. I have used turkey bratwursts, turkey Polska kielbasas, and turkey ham as well as the turkey pepperoni.

Rick's vegetarian lasagna

I continued with increasing vegetarian dishes, which included spanakopita and a vegetarian lasagna, mushroom instead of meat and zucchini instead of pasta. Speaking of the vegetarian lasagna, I made a mistake and used pre-made canned/jarred marinara. I learned later that it had too much sodium and corn syrup/sugar. When I made the pizza, I made my own homemade marinara for the first time. Instead of pita bread for hummus and tzatziki, I started using raw cauliflower, carrots, and celery.

Indonesian lemongrass beef

On September 18, 2015, I had another muscle pull this time the abdominal muscle. This was after I helped the landscaper pull out a 6 by 20 foot hedge. Since then I have upped my dietary amount of potassium. My new blood pressure medication can lead to low potassium. I am increasing my banana and yogurt consumption since both are high in potassium. The muscle pulls could be cramps or strains. Then I caught a cold, so the walking regimen has been suffered as a result.

Honey mustard chicken

In October I decided to make more seafood choices, I went out and had squid and shrimp. I made pasta with tonatto sauce (tuna, anchovies, capers, olive oil, and lemon juice). This plus my monthly sushi will help increase my seafood intake. However I dropped the amount of my monthly sushi to save money. Instead of three items, I lowered it to two. At the end of July, my doctor recommended more seafood. I am working to find inexpensive ways to do that. Frozen and canned options seem to be the cheapest at this point.

Turkey pepperoni pizza with homemade marinara

In early October I weighed myself at 357 lbs. My mother bought a new scale for both of us. I was seven pounds from my goal weight. Since I have had a cold and my activity went down, that has caused some weight gain. I gained back 6 lbs, but I lost 3 lbs a few days later. I am currently as of October 14th at 360 lbs. Now, I am 10 lbs short of my goal.  I will work to get back into losing again.

Chilled tangy avocado soup

I am still being very strict about my portion control, except when I was sick. This is the second illness road bump.  I cannot get discouraged by this.  I also had some family functions that were less than optimal, but I avoided sweets both times. During the illness when I had a sore throat I ate some ice cream and canned soups.  Those did not help. I still consumed less than before the beginning of this in late March of 2015.

Before the muscle pull and the cold, I had increased my walks to two days of walks and one day off, then repeat.  Now, I have raised the frequency to three days of walks and one day off, then repeat. Family functions and health has impacted that plan. I am back on the walking regimen with a new route that crosses a hill like feature twice.

This is an ongoing journey. I will have highs and lows. As long as my good choices outnumber the bad or slip ups, I will be fine. I have discovered I need both physical activity and better eating habits. Relying more on homemade products versus pre-made store bought items has proven to be a good way of doing things. Store bought may be more convenient and accessible, but in the long wrong they are a bad idea. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

News & Reviews

Starting on August 22, 2015, I began writing for the Neverland Podcast's news feed.  This is the place where I will have the links to those articles and reviews.

Devil Dinosaur Gets a More Modern Treatment with Upcoming Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur
New Heroine added to the DC Television Universe
The Totally Awesome Hulk’s Identity Revealed
Release Date Announced for the Next Marvel/Netflix Show Jessica Jones
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 1: Magician’s Apprentice Review
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 2: The Witch’s Familiar
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 3: Under the Lake
The Flash Season 2 Episode 1: The Man Who Saved Central City
Sweet Christmas! Power Man and Iron Fist Return
The Arrow Season 4 Episode 1: Green Arrow
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 4: Before the Flood
The Flash Season 2 Episode 2: Flash of Two Worlds
The Arrow Season 4 Episode 2: The Candidate
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 5: The Girl Who Died
The Flash Season 2 Episode 3: Family of Rogues
The Arrow Season 4 Episode 3: Restoration
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 6: The Woman Who Lived
The Flash Season 2 Episode 4: The Fury of Firestorm
The Arrow Season 4 Episode 4: Beyond Redemption
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 7: The Zygon Invasion
The Weekly DC TV Easter Egg Report for the week of November 2-8, 2015
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 8: The Zygon Inversion
The Weekly DC TV Easter Egg Report for the week of November 9-15, 2015
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 9: Sleep No More
The Weekly DC TV Easter Egg Report for the week of November 16-22, 2015
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 10: Face the Raven
The Weekly DC TV Easter Egg Report for the week of November 23-29, 2015
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 11: Heaven Sent
The Weekly DC TV Easter Egg Report for the week of November 30-December 6, 2015
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 12: Hell Bent
DCTV Easter Egg Report 12/16/2015
Doctor Who Series 9 Christmas Special: The Husbands of River Song
DCTV Easter Egg Report 01/24/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 01/31/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 02/07/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 02/13/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 02/20/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 02/27/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 03/06/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 03/13/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 03/20/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 03/27/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 04/03/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 04/10/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 04/17/2016
DCTV Easter Egg Report 04/24/2016

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Marvelously Obscure

In the summer of 2014, Marvel released Guardians of the Galaxy and it was a runaway hit. In the fall of that same year Disney released Big Hero 6, which is also a Marvel property, and it too was a big hit. When both were announced many thought they would flop, because they were not the more popular and well known of Marvel properties. Except for Howard the Duck and Man-Thing, the obscure characters tend to do well or sometimes better than the more well known properties.

The first successful Marvel film was Blade. Blade was a supporting character in Marvel Comics’ Tomb of Dracula from the 1970’s. He was a minor supporting character that gained some stature as the series continued being published. When the film came out and became a surprise hit everyone was shocked. Marvel had not had a hit in film.  It did not help that the quality of those productions, Howard the Duck (1986), Punisher (1989), Captain America (1990), and Fantastic Four (1994) were not the best. Many of these were made by lower budget production houses.

When the Marvel movies started to breakout many people did not know who the X-Men were either. There have been some duds; this was before Marvel started to produce their own films as their own studio. The Marvel Studios as we know it started with Iron Man. Since that started they have been putting out many of the Marvel Comics heavy hitters. In my opinion that would not have been possible if not for the success of Blade (1998). Blade paved the way for the X-Men films, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, and ultimately the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The reason why I think the more obscure Marvel properties are so successful is because the audience has no expectations. That means they can sit back and enjoy the ride. They do not see a new version of a character they think they know. They are able to take the film at face value. Also when I say obscure I mean obscure to mainstream films audiences. Comic book fans may be very familiar with these characters, but to the average folks out there, they have no clue.  It is easier to suspend your disbelief if you are new to a character.

Some characters people unfamiliar with Marvel’s comic book line up would be thought to be obscure are not.  For example Ant-Man, Black Panther, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Quicksilver are all considered A-List Tier 1 Marvel characters.  Plus they are all Avengers.  Like the obscure, the least familiar characters because of mainstream influences are also clean slates. Hopefully after the third Captain America, Thor, and the Avengers: Infinity War films, we will see some of the more obscure and unfamiliar to mainstream audience properties utilized more.

With the first Marvel comic I bought for myself being the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, there are few characters that I am unfamiliar with and most of those popped up since 1995. Marvel’s Jessica Jones is one of those properties, I have glancing familiarity with the character, mostly second hand through Wikipedia and the like. I am not familiar with where the Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) has gone since 1995, specifically since she gained the Captain Marvel moniker. Big Hero 6 I had a vague sense of those characters. With the Guardians of the Galaxy I knew many of the characters, but the film went in new and unexpected directions. Being unfamiliar or vaguely familiar definitely helps. This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kitchen Comeback Update 1

Now that I am cooking from scratch again, I am actively seeking out things I miss from my youth.  In July I made the meatloaf recipe I grew up with. In July I also finally made Filipino adobo, although it was chicken not pork like I had planned in May.  Filipino adobo was my signature dish back pre-old life.  I had not made it in over a decade.  The last time I made it, I struggled because I used old white vinegar that had become more potent sitting around.  This time I used rice wine vinegar.  I was extremely proud of the results.  In September I finally made Filipino pork adobo.  My version is not traditional.  I cut the meat in bite size pieces and thicken the sauce to gravy consistency.  I also tend to simmer the meat from 45 minutes to an hour, for more tender meat.

                                   Hawaiian chicken teriyaki

In August, I made Filipino chicken pancit with mung bean threads for the first time.  I was happily surprise with how well the first attempt went.  I learned a few things, especially since this was the first time I used mung bean thread noodles. In June and August I made my maternal grandmother’s zucchini casserole. Each attempt leads to me perfecting things.  In May I used a microwave and in August I baked it.  I need to cook it longer and beat the eggs better in the next attempt.  For the first time using a new cooking method, things went well.  Another old favorite that I cooked as a youth I revisited in August was homemade taco meat.  I made ground turkey tacos; this was my first time using ground turkey. They came out very good, so good I ditched the plan for ground turkey steaks for another batch.  August I was shown how to make my mom’s pot of beans, this time we use smoked pork shank.  I learned a wonderful trick to thickening the beans take the vegetables and puree them, then add them back to the cooking liquid.  It came out wonderful.  I made it again by myself and mom gave it her seal of approval.

                          Hawaiian chicken teriyaki with rice

A Facebook friend noticed that my dishes are extremely eclectic with ethnic origins.  Part of that is growing up in an ethnically diverse family and in an ethically diverse town in Southern California.  I have cooked dishes from or inspired by the following cuisines: Mexican, Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, Indonesian, Filipino, Greek, Middle Eastern, Thai, Russian, Cuban, Spanish, Irish, classic American, Indian (as in India), Hawaiian, Portuguese, Polish, German, Cajun, and Creole.

                                            Pork chile verde

One of the growing pains is not having some equipment.  When I ended my old life in December of 2011, I left all my cooking utensils and equipment. I work my way around that stuff.  My mother has been gifting me equipment almost every gift giving occasion she can.  I have a few kitchen appliances I have no clue to use.  I also have a few that are a godsend.  My Vitamix and my microwave rice cooker are wonderful.  Originally I was going to make sorbets with my Vitamix, but I really enjoy the yogurt fruit smoothies I have been making instead.  Since I do not have a whisk the Vitamix at low has been doing the job for eggs.  I started doing this after the fact the whites and yolks were not complete mixed in August’s version of Grandma’s zucchini casserole.

                                         Pork chile verde

In August I finally had a culinary stumble.  I made Hawaiian chicken Teriyaki.  I found the version I made too sweet, almost cloyingly.  The plan is to add more soy sauce and reduce the honey and the pineapple juice.  Enough honey and pineapple juice will be in it for flavor, but not to be the overpowering.  I am not sure the overly sweet flavor profile was from too much honey, too much pineapple juice, or both.  I did learn that honey as a sugar substitute is not 1 for one but 2/3rds to 1. This was bigger than something that needed tweaking.  This was making the dish something I was not happy with.  In September I made Greek spanakopita, and the phylo dough seemed burnt to me.  My family thought it was wonderful.

                             Beans with smoked pork shank

One of the things I missed about cooking was cooking on the fly.  In May, I had planned Filipino pork adobo, but ended up making slow cooked pork in barbeque sauce.  In August, I had left over stuffing (Mexican chorizo, onions and cheese mixture) from the stuffed Anaheim peppers.  I had a few small potatoes and a few eggs.  I threw all of those together and ate with salsa and steamed corn tortillas.   Also in August I had planned vinaigrette marinated chicken with mashed cauliflower.   I still had leftover vinegar based coleslaw and felt more vinegar based dishes was overload. I used the left over Madras curry paste and made Madras chicken with jasmine rice.  Taking one dish and adapting it to different ingredients is fun.  It keeps excitement in cooking for me. 

                              Spanakopita with tzatziki

I had originally in August planned on making a turkey ham and cheese scramble with onions, eggs, turkey ham and cheese.  I ended up making several different dishes with it: turkey ham and eggs with hash browns, and turkey ham with corn and mashed potatoes.  I had originally planned to make a version of lasagna with zucchini and summer squash as noodles with spinach, but I have used spinach in spanakopita.  It seemed like too much of one thing.  I decided I would use mushrooms instead of spinach, which works better as a meat substitute.

                                   Filipino pork adobo

Getting back to cooking has done wonders for me.  I get to experiment with flavors, cuisines and techniques. It fills a creative void I have had for years. I did not know I missed it.  It is one thing I plan on never giving up again.  When I left the old life, a dream I had was possibly to my own food cart or truck.  In recovering my passion for cooking I want that even more.  I am going to work to get more cooking tools to make that possible. I have a few recipe ideas I need to play with, three dishes and a condiment.

Here are the past Menus:

May 2015

Chile relleno casserole, sopa de lima (Yucatan chicken and lime soup), jalapeño jelly slow cooked pork tacos, Carroll Shelby’s chili con carne using stew meat (with beans, corn, tomatoes, and Ortega chiles), Zatarain’s dirty rice, slow cooked pork in barbecue sauce with mashed potatoes and corn, Mexican chorizo and eggs, Greek tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill sauce), roasted garlic hummus (Middle Eastern garbanzo beans/chickpeas pureed with roasted garlic, lemon juice, tahini{sesame seed paste}, olive oil, paprika), salsa, guacamole, olive oil baked tortilla chips, sandwiches and bratwursts with mashed potatoes.

June 2015

Thai Lemongrass and chicken soup, grandma’s zucchini casserole, Zatarain’s Black beans and rice with linguiça sausage, Cuban mojo sauce marinated roasted pork in mojo sauce with Zatarain’s Caribbean rice, Russian style beef Stroganoff with rice, hamburger steaks with mashed potatoes, Polska kielbasa scramble with hash browns and onions, Indonesian sweet pork with rice, tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus, salsa, guacamole, olive oil baked tortillas chips, and sandwiches.

July 2015

Zatarain’s red bean and rice with andouille sausage, Filipino chicken adobo with rice, tortilla Española (Spanish tortilla: an omelet of eggs, slice red potatoes and onions), Carroll Shelby’s chili con carne  using ground beef (with beans, corn, tomatoes, and Ortega chiles), California scramble (eggs, onions, mild green chiles, Spanish chorizo with avocado and salsa as garnishes), Quaker oats meatloaf with Irish colcannon (mashed potatoes with leeks and kale), Dublin Coddle (potatoes, onions, ham , parsley, Irish sausage, and nutmeg), Tamale pie (corn bread type dish with tomatoes, green chiles, olives and onions, garnished with cheese and enchilada sauce), tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus, salsa, guacamole, and olive oil baked tortillas chips.

August 2015

Indian Madras beef curry with Basmati rice, Filipino chicken pancit with mung bean thread noodles, turkey ham with hash browns and eggs, turkey ham with mashed potatoes, stuffed Anaheim peppers (stuffed with Mexican chorizo, cheese and onion garnished with enchilada sauce and cheese), Mexican chorizo and eggs with hash browns, onions and cheese garnished with enchilada sauce, Hawaiian chicken teriyaki, Mexican pork chile verde with refried black beans and homemade red rice (AKA Spanish/ Mexican rice),  ground turkey tacos with vinegar based coleslaw, Indian Madras chicken curry with jasmine rice, beans with smoked pork shank, tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus, salsa, guacamole, and olive oil baked tortilla chips.

September 2015

Chile relleno casserole, beans with smoked pork shank, salsa, tzatziki sauce, Zatarain’s dirty brown rice with ground turkey (diced tomatoes, corn, mild green chiles, roasted garlic and sweet onion added), Greek spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese pie in phylo dough) with Greek tzatziki sauce, Filipino pork adobo with jasmine rice, and Carroll Shelby’s Guilt-Free turkey chili (with beans, corn, tomatoes, and Ortega chiles).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Grim & Gritty

One of the conversations happening about comic book properties, specifically in film, is about the difference in approach between the big two, Marvel and DC, in their cinematic universes.  Marvel is going for a brighter tone that does not apologize for the four color comic book silliness of their superhero world.  DC has been taking the gritty realistic approach. My first observation is that this is slightly amusing.  Based on the comic books one would assume the two companies would take the opposing approach than they are.  This is the film universes I am talking about.  DC Comics’ approach for their television universe with the Flash and Supergirl tends to follow the same idea as what Marvel is doing with both their cinematic and television universe, which are the same universe.

A problem I have with the DC Comics’ cinematic universe approach, is that it loses sight of what made its characters so interesting. Certain characters like Batman and Green Arrow or groups like the Suicide Squad and the newer versions of the Secret Six lend themselves well to the grittier approach.  As vigilantes and characters with villainous pasts, they deal with human crime, so it makes sense to have a harder edge.  Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, the Atom, Shazam/Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman are the bright shiny paragons.  The darker, more realistic style clashes with their core concepts and mythos.  Superman is supposed to be a symbol of hope not fear.  Batman is supposed to instill fear in the cowardly lot that is the criminal world.

Even when Marvel does a dark storyline like Captain America: Winter Soldier, it comes out with a bright shiny superhero exterior. We are talking about a guy that literally dresses up in a flag inspired costume.  The Flash television show (2014 –present) does the same thing; they even have their characters poke fun at the absurdity of the concept of people running around in bright shiny costumes fighting crime.  Part of the reluctance to use a lighter approach by DC is to avoid the campiness of the 1966 Batman.  The 1975 television show, Wonder Woman, and the 1978 film, Superman: The Movie, were able to straddle the absurdity of the concept without devolving into complete camp.

Another thing about their differing approaches is that DC tries to make Superhero films, Marvel makes films and television programs with Superheroes in them.  Captain America: The First Avenger was a World War II drama.  Iron Man was a corporate intrigue drama as well as a personal journey story. The Guardians of the Galaxy was a space opera.  Marvel’s Daredevil was a crime drama.  Captain America: Winter Soldier and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were spy dramas.  The Incredible Hulk was a fugitive drama.  The reason the Nolan Batman trilogy worked was it was a crime story that just happened to have a guy dressed up as a bat in it. Previously with Green Lantern and others, DC has made a habit of making Superhero movies, not movies with Superheroes in them.

Let’s get back to the subject at hand.  The grim and gritty movement began in the mid 1980’s.  The two chief works attributed to starting the trend were Watchmen (1986) and the Dark Knight Returns (1986).  Alan Moore (Watchman) and Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns) were trying to show are more serious side to the superhero genre.  At that time the comic book format was not taken very seriously by mainstream society. These works and Maus (1980-1991) started to change those attitudes. The comic book industry has a history of taking a successful idea and beating it to death.  That resulted in grim and gritty for most of the latter 1980’s and the 1990’s.  This approach was hit and miss.  It worked for characters like Batman, Green Arrow, Punisher, Wolverine, Swamp Thing, and Daredevil.  Other characters like Aquaman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, and the like it was less successful.

Alan Moore, one of the architects of that movement, in 1999 worked to bring back the bright shiny four color world with America’s Best Comics. Some works in that imprint were darker, but with others like Tom Strong, Promethea, and Top 10 he went back to the Golden and Silver Ages of comic books for inspiration.  Some writers bridged the more serious tone with the wildly out there concepts like Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, and Mark Millar.  The comics industry went too far with the grim and gritty portrayals in the late 1990’s, afterward the industry moved away from using that approach as much.  There are still many books that use the approach, but they are not as many as they were in the 90’s.

The DC cinematic approach with a more serious tone started with Batman (1989).  In 1997 with Joel Schumacher and Batman and Robin the approach went too campy, and that soured the studio. In 2005 when Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman films, he went back to the more realistic and darker approach.  That seems to be the blueprint DC Entertainment is using.  That resulted in 2013’s Man of Steel.  I have problems with Man of Steel, by going grim and gritty it loses the emotional and moral center of the character. 

In 2008 Marvel started their cinematic universe with Iron Man. Marvel continued through with their phase one including the Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and in 2012 the Avengers. They tackled the silliness of costumed heroes, armored heroes, superpowers and mythic beings. They just rolled with it.  I am worried about the 2016 Superman v. Batman: The Dawn of Justice film. It is borrowing heavily from Dark Knight Returns without much of the history that was part of the story’s setup.   We will see how it goes.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Milepost 2 on the Road to Wellness

My pulled muscle continued to bother me trough the remainder of June and into July.  In the end of July beginning of August I increased my exercise regimen to two days of walking then one day off. I have been keeping that up; except for the weekend I had the Norovirus.  Due to the severe heat my lawn mowing has taken a down turn.  


In July, my menu had some serious mistakes. I had three potato dishes, two rice dishes, and one corn bread dish.  My diet also took a hit during my bout with the Norovirus. I ended up eating potatoes, broth, pea soup and rice.  Once again it was a very carbohydrate heavy month.  One dish I made was Quaker Oats meatloaf with Irish colcannon.  I chose colcannon instead of regular mashed potatoes, because the dish includes kale and leeks.  It was tasty, and I learned a substitution trick. If a recipe calls for the spice mace, use four times the amount in nutmeg.

                                    Filipino chicken adobo

In early to mid-July I weighed myself at Weight Watchers, inside the Cedar Hills Crossing mall. I ended up with 377.  I had gained 2 lbs. I was very disappointed.  I went down the wrong path and went off my diet that evening. One thing I am doing better with portion control, I am no longer using my dinner plates, but my lunch plates instead. I need to cut down, my fast food intake, seriously.

                                               Tamale Pie

I went and had my blood work done at the end of July.  My doctor set up a phone appointment to discuss the results.  My triglycerides were a little high.  My doctor advised that I eliminate my red meat. I decided to limit it instead. For the month of August, I replaced turkey ham for ham and ground turkey for ground beef.  Mashed potatoes will be replaced with mashed cauliflower, to help with my carbohydrate intake. 

                                              Tortilla Española

My doctor also suggested I increase my seafood intake. At first I thought I could not afford it.  I later realized I could, if I went the canned or frozen routes.  My mom came back at the beginning of August and bought my some crayfish to help with what the doctor suggested.  I do have my Fred Meyer sushi splurge every 2nd of the month.

Quaker Oats meatloaf and Irish colcannon

The cooking is still on a serious learning curve.  I had not lost my touch with my signature dish Filipino adobo. I made Filipino chicken pancit for the first time, it was everything I remembered.  There are a few tweaks needed for that.  Carrots need to be put in at the end and the bean threads need a longer soaking time, possibly with boiling water.  The pancit recipe I use utilizes mung bean threads, so it is low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and gluten free. I made grandma’s zucchini casserole again in August, it also needs a few tweaks too.  This was the first time I baked it in a regular oven instead of using the microwave. Eggs need to be better beaten and it needed to be in the oven longer.

                     Grandma's zucchini casserole version 2

I need a smaller frying pan for tortilla Española AKA Spanish tortilla.   Flavor-wise it was spot on.  In June I received a Puerto Rican cuisine cookbook and in early August I picked up two Mexican cuisine cookbooks.  One was Mexican Cooking for Dummies and the second my 1000 Mexican dishes. The second was chosen for having a pipian dish; pipian is a sauce the uses seeds or nuts.  The version I was looking for used pumpkin seeds.  I had it once and loved it.  I lost my previous cookbooks with such a recipe.   The Mexican Cooking for Dummies was chosen, because before the cooking from scratch in May I always bought pre-packaged salsas and other Latin sauces.  There is even a recipe to make your own crema sauce.

                  Filipino chicken pancit with mung bean threads

I am able to do more than I was back in March or even last year.  Still trying to get some yard work done, but the summer heat is making it a difficult prospect.  I am walking late at night/ early in the morning in order to not cause issues. I think I pull my muscle in June, because I did too much in a small period of time without resting.

                                    Madras beef curry in the skillet

On August 7th, 2015, I was weighed by my doctor and again on the 12th by my dietitian.  I weighed in both times at 368 lbs.  My total loss is currently at 34 lbs.  My current goal is to be at 350 lbs by December.  Fifty pounds a year seems like a healthy weight loss.   I should at that weight also be down a couple more pants sizes and down to 3 XL tall for shirts.

                         Madras beef  curry with basmati rice plated

Goals from now on, I am working to increase the number of vegetarians dishes to two egg and two non egg based dishes.  The non egg based dishes can have egg in them, but they are not the central ingredient.  I need to trim the fast food down to once a week, the once every other. I plan to increase my walking in September to three days walking one day off, then in October four on, one off, and so on until I am walking daily with the occasional day off from time to time. Then I get to walking daily, I increase the distance.  Hopefully, I will get to increase the speed too. I plan to decrease my red meat intake to two or three dishes a month, not including eating out a few of times a month.   That means choosing better options, even when eating out. 

                               Stuffed Anaheim chiles

This is a lifestyle change, so it will be a work in progress.  I am constantly learning.  I am constantly changing what does not work and keeping what does.  I have to constantly remind myself this is a marathon, not a sprint.  In the four and a half months since I started this path since the end of March 2015, I have learned so much and much about myself.   I am handling it better than I thought I would have.