The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for December 2008

Hermit Cinema: The Dark Knight

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dark_knight_18

A while back, I wrote a review about Iron Man that called it the best of all the superhero movies. The Dark Knight comes in a close second. Before all this, I would have put Batman Begins at second place, but The Dark Knight is a better movie in my opinion.

This is one of those movies that is completely engrossing from the opening frame. It begins with a bank heist that clearly isn’t quite what it appears to be. From there, things only get more interesting. I’m glad I saw this movie so far removed from Heath Ledger’s death, because I didn’t want all the hype surrounding it to affect what I thought about the movie.

I’ll say this, his performance as the Joker is worthy of consideration as one of the all-time great villains. You can put the character he creates right up there with Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. He’s so convincingly creepy, so far beyond the bounds of reality yet still completely enthralling.

Christian Bale puts in another great role, continuing what he started in Batman Begins. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a bit miscast to me. Aaron Eckhart, always underappreciated, puts in a good performance as Harvey Dent/Two Face. Gary Oldman, is very underused – again – as Jim Gordon. But the whole movie really revolves around the Joker versus Batman which makes it a real treat for the viewer.

There’s also an interesting layer of the movie that deals with the repercussions of there being a Batman in Gotham. He’s a good guy who isn’t necessarily good for the city.

Now they do leave it open for there being another, and usually I hate that. But these days, I guess that’s to be expected. Besides some of the actors’ performances leaving something to be desired, my only remaining complaint is that the movie could have been trimmed a bit. I think you could have lost at least fifteen minutes of the movie without losing any of the impact or drama.

But I’m backseat driving and I know it. If you’re looking for a good action flick, this is a good way to go.

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Written by the bee dub

December 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm

NFL Week 17 Menu – Season Finale: Beef Brisket

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final-brisket

I have to admit to feeling a little bittersweet about today. 17 glorious weeks have come to an end. This is the last day of the NFL’s regular season. I figured this deserved something grand – the return of beef brisket. This used to be our ‘go to’ dish and has fallen by the wayside the last year or so. I made it a few weeks back and slightly screwed it up, probably because I’m out of practice. Today I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen.

raw-brisket

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Today I’m starting with a beef brisket that’s just under two and a half pounds. First thing I do is trim away as much as I can from the layer of fat that’s on one side. Then I rub both sides with pepper and fresh, minced garlic.

browned-brisket

Heat some vegetable oil in a dutch oven (throw in your dutch oven joke here, Furr). Brown the brisket. Throw in two sliced onions and brown those along with the beef. Remove the beef when both sides are done and keep browning the onions, about five minutes, when they get to a nice color.

final-onions

Add 1/2 cup of red wine & 1/2 cup of beef broth, making sure to scrape up anything stuck to the pan. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, 1 bottle of chili sauce and throw in a bay leaf if you’ve got one on hand.

final-prep

Stir it all together and return the brisket to the pan, spooning the sauce and onions over the top. Cover and cook for 2 – 3 hours, until fork tender.

in-pan

Let is cool in the pan for a bit, then remove and slice thinly against the grain. Boo-yeah…

Written by the bee dub

December 28, 2008 at 9:50 pm

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How to survive your company holiday party

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I’ve discovered the best way to make it through my company’s (and any other, for that matter) holiday party. There is a way to minimize the mindless chitchat and small talk – a camera.

Be the party shutterbug. The camera gives you a great thing to hide behind. It doesn’t come across as all that abrupt to be in the middle of a conversation and suggest, “Can I take your picture?”

I was able to remain in 100% control of who I talked to and for how long. I was also able to eject out of any painful conversation very quickly. Maybe you don’t find the holiday party as intolerable as I do. But if you do, just keep a camera handy.

The one downside? People are going to expect to see some pictures after. If you ask me, that’s a small price to pay.

Written by the bee dub

December 27, 2008 at 9:19 am

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Fantasy Football Champion

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I'm the king of the world!

I'm the king of the world!

I’ve climbed the mountain and am enjoying the view. With the end of the Monday Night Football game last night, I finished a mere 10 points ahead of my opponent.

It wasn’t my strongest week. In fact, if the other guy had played Matt Cassel at QB instead of Matt Schaub, he would have won it all. I got zero touchdowns out of my wide receivers – my weakest link throughout the year. But I got consistent contributions from pretty much every other position except for my kicker, who finished with -1 points. Here’s my final winning lineup:

QB – Drew Brees
RB – Michael Turner
RB – Pierre Thomas (played only this one time)
WR – Calvin Johnson
WR – Santana Moss
RB/WR – Steve Slaton
TE – Dallas Clark
K – Jeff Reed
D/ST – Dallas Cowboys

The only difference through most of the year was that I played Marshawn Lynch every other week this year, except for his bye week. I also played ├╝ber-rookie Matt Ryan during Brees’ bye and he got me a win too. Marvin Harrison made some spot appearences as well as the Cardinals’ defense. All in all, I’m damned proud of myself and am really going to enjoy this for at least a year. Can’t wait to blow my meager winnings on something completely pointless.

Written by the bee dub

December 23, 2008 at 6:07 pm

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NFL Week 16 Menu: Mini Turkey Meatloaf & Tomato Gravy

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The holidays have us crazed with parties, errands and preparation. My wife’s mother and brother are coming into town to stay with us for Christmas so we’re jam packed with all the aforementioned activities as well as power cleaning our house from top to bottom.

On top of that, the Giants have a huge game tonight and today I’m in my fantasy football league’s championship. There’s a lot on my mind as you might imagine. (Sorry I didn’t take any pictures but you can search a few weeks back for pictures of this recipe if you’re interested.)

As a result, I didn’t really have the time or energy to put into a meal that takes hours and hours. I opted to make some meatloaf, which is not anything near a compromise. Since we’ve got people rolling into town soon, I didn’t need to make a big one either, so I adjusted my recipe to make a mini-sized meatloaf.

Start with one chopped yellow onion. Add it into about a tablespoon of good olive oil over low/medium heat. Add a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground peper. Heat it about 10 – 15 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned.

Combine 1/4 cup of chicken broth, a teaspoon of tomato past, 1/6 cup of Worsteshire sauce. Remove the onions from heat and add the broth mixture. Mix well and let it cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 325.

Then take 1 and 1/4 pound of ground turkey, 1/3 cup of bread crumbs, one beaten egg and the broth mixture and mix it all together. Form it into a loaf and then put it on an ungreased baking pan. Bake for 90 minutes.

For the gravy, I took 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of butter and put it in a small saucepan over medium/high heat until it was foaming. Add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of flour and lower the heat to medium. Cook it for a minute or so until the mixture starts to turn brown. Add a can of stewed tomatoes, a can of chicken broth and a can of tomato soup. I also drizzled in some hot sauce. Bring that to a simmer and let that sort of bubble slowly while the meatloaf bakes.

If you want, make sure the meatloaf has reached 165 degrees. Let it rest for a few minutes and then slice it to serve. Smother it with gravy and enjoy.

Written by the bee dub

December 22, 2008 at 9:18 am

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Farewell, Waiter Rant…

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I’m bidding adieu to waiterrant.com, one of my favorite all-time blogs. Basically, there’s just not much there anymore. The author does still post but you see, he’s no longer a waiter.

He formed his rants into a book that got published and is doing quite well. Good for him. But there isn’t much to his blog anymore. It’s really mostly a record of what’s happening with his book publicity-wise.

Can’t hold it against him. He’s definitely keeping himself busy with other things and sounds like he’s got a new project or two to pursue. I guess it’s just hard realizing one of your favorite blogs just doesn’t offer the same entertainment anymore. His worldview from the waiter perspective was a real keyhole-view into the human psyche, or at least the American human psyche.

There’s just something about the way people act in restaurants that reveals a lot about themselves. His entries were full of wit, intelligence and insight. Not to mention the fact that they were very, very well written.

Well, farewell waiter rant, I will no longer have you bookmarked or linked from this blog. I’m sure that will be of little consequence to you since nobody reads this drivel anyhow. But nonetheless, it was a great ride while it lasted for this reader.

Written by the bee dub

December 16, 2008 at 3:08 pm

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NFL Week 15 Menu: BBQ Boston Butt

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pulledbutt

The Giants have a big game tonight. That means it times to break out the big guns: BBQ Boston Butt. This is one of the signature items to come out of our kitchen; never fails to impress guests, visitors or relatives. Unless they don’t eat pork, but hey if you want to live a life without enjoying bacon now and then, that’s up to you.

I got the idea for the pork from this guy Aaron that I work with. He’s pretty obsessive about stuff so when he told me about it and how he did it I knew it was going to work out. It’s really not hard, it’s very simple. The only challenge to it is that it takes a long time.

Wood chips for smoke

Wood chips for smoke

Get a 5-ish pound Boston Butt. Cover it with some dry rub. I eyeball a combination of black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin and seasoned salt. Place the pork in a roasting pan and cover it liberally with the rub, making sure to rub it in with your hands.

Then take some hickory or oak chips. These are the kind I get at a hardware store for smoking. I make a long, narrow foil packet, put the chips in, seal it up, poke a few holes in the foil and then place that on my grill over the rear burners, the only burners I use. Light one set of burners so that the grill will hover around 225 – 250 degrees. I’ve found that the closer to 225 the better and more tender the pork gets.

30 am

9:30 AM

Now put your pork on the grill as far away from your heat as you can. That’s all there is to it. This will take anywhere from 9 – 11 hours. Every couple of hours I’ll spray it down with a apple cider/cider vinegar mixture. This helps the pork develop a nice, dark bark on the outside. I usually pull the pork off the heat when a meat thermometer reads around 195 to 205. If you’re tracking temperature, the meat will plateau around 165 – 175 for a couple of hours, but don’t worry it will get going again.

30 PM

1:30 PM

Once done, take the pork and let it sit a little bit, 10 minutes or more. Then cut off a piece that will serve the meal you want and chop it up. I use one of those straight edge tools. Then slather on some bbq sauce. We like to have some sauce on the side for dippin’, cuz my wife loves to dip stuff in sauce. You can put this into sandwiches or just eat it as a platter. I’ll probably make mini sandwiches with the rolls.

4 PM

4 PM

I’ve found that it’s better to keep the pork you’re not going to eat in a solid hunk. That way you can cut the amount you want, trim away any fat and then chop that to your desired degree of chopped-ness. Tonight we’ll be enjoying this with the same turnip greens I’ve made before and some rolls.

45 PM

7:45 PM

On the football front, the Cowboys seem to be coming apart at the seams with another episode of T.O. drama. I know I said the Eagles were the NFC team I hated the most. But that was last week. This week the G-men are playing the Cowboys so there’s nothing I’d enjoy more than seeing T.O. and Romo get into a sissy slap fight while the G-men hand them their ass. This game could go either way though.

I’m in the semifinals of my fantasy league and things are tight. I’ve made two very bad decisions and it might cost me. It’s going to be tough because almost all my players play the early game and almost all my opponents play the late game, so I’ll be almost finished and have to just sit and watch what happens. I’m going to be wrapped pretty tight having to do that. Maybe a few beers will calm my nerves.

Well a few beers later, I’m sitting on a lead over 30 points but he’s got the Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw. I believe he’s the Wind of the Giants’ Earth, Wind and Fire running attack. Anyway, that’s bad karma. I don’t want to root against a Giants player. Maybe Eli will light it up through the air and spare us all the drama. Plus I still have the Brown’s kicker playing tomorrow night but that guy’s been a nightmare.

Written by the bee dub

December 14, 2008 at 9:28 pm

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