The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for April 2010

I’ve discovered the ultimate Turkey Meatball

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If turkey meatballs were an instrument of world domination, you would all be my bitches. Seriously. This fairly unimpressive looking, hastily photographed sandwich actually holds within it several ultimate turkey meatballs. I intended to use them solely in a sandwich but the meatballs are so good they hold their own with a plate of pasta or whatever. It’s a combination of several recipes different recipes and I think I’ve found the perfect medium between them all.

In this bowl I’ve combined 1 1/4 pounds of ground turkey, 1 diced onion, 1 tablespoon-ish of chopped fresh basil,  3 minced garlic cloves, 2 beaten eggs, 1 3/4 cups of bread crumbs, 1 cup of whole milk, some fresh ground pepper, a pinch of salt and a small squirt of hot sauce.

Mix this well by hand. It’s a very wet mixture. It’s hard to keep it from sticking to your hands. Keeping your hands wet helps, but only for a little while. Roll the mixture into individual meatballs of a size to your liking. After that’s done, dust them all with some flour to get them ready to for some happy time in some well heated olive oil.

Now heat 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1 tablespoon-ish of butter in a fry pan over a medium-high flame. When the butter bubbles and begins to brown you’re in business.

Brown them in batches, flipping them once each side is done.

From here you have some options. You can put them in an oven to finish cooking or in some pre-made tomato sauce. I like to go the sauce route.

I let it all simmer together for a good forty minutes or so. For this meal, we made meatball sandwiches which was our original intention. But these things were so good we made them the next night with some linguine and man, the meatballs might have been even better without having to compete with all that bread and whatnot.

Now that you’re in on the recipe, just remember. With great meatballs comes great responsibility. Enjoy wisely.

Written by the bee dub

April 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Hermit Grub

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Roethlisberger may be gone sooner than anyone thinks

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Now that the District Attorney’s papers, files and investigation have been made public, I believe Ben Roethlisberger will not be playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers when the 2010 NFL season kicks off.

Yesterday after work, one of my coworkers seemed pretty convinced the Steelers would be getting rid of Big Big sooner than later. I had pretty much convinced myself that they’d be getting rid of him after the season. But the more details come out, the more tawdry and ridiculous the whole situation seems. What the hell is Roethlisberger doing buying underage girls shots and then trying to mack down on them? Clearly his entourage were acting like roadies for some 70’s rock band, gathering girls to be brought backstage for sexual favors. There’s also now been multiple recent allegations, including his most recent accuser, of Roethlisberger exposing himself to women as a way of coming on to them. (If this is true, I’m guessing he has a penis he’s pretty proud of.)

The bottom line is, this story isn’t going away any time soon. Ben tried to make amends during his press conference but I don’t think people wanted to hear about he was going to channel his energy into making sure his game is on the highest level. There’s something much more real world going on here and it seems he’s simply too removed, dim or simply privileged to understand it. It’s going to be something that all his teammates and Steeler officials will have to comment on again and again and again.That spells doom. There hasn’t been any team I can remember who has had to deal with a controversy of such a scale and still had a great season.

Besides all the recent allegations revealed in the District Attorney’s report, this is also the same guy who was alleged to have sexually assaulted another young woman a year ago and was also unrepentant about getting into a major motorcycle accident without wearing a helmet.

The Steelers are old school. That’s not to say they don’t look the other way with certain players who misbehave. They have, much like most NFL teams with needs on the field. But in the TMZ era, this is just more than an organization led by the Rooney family is willing to tolerate.

Assuming they get any kind of decent offer for a trade – and there’s always going to be demand for a young quarterback who has won two Super Bowls – I think he’s going to be gone. You heard it here first…

Written by the bee dub

April 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm

The FH iPad review

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I was really curious about the iPad and got my hands on one. It’s not mine. The company I work for bought one and it’s mine to play with for a while. But in a way I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first computer I ever used was an Apple IIe, purchased for me and my siblings by my dad. (Anybody else remember playing Choplifter?) The only computers I have bought for myself have all been Macs. This includes a Powerbook 520, Power Mac desktop, Titanium Powerbook, Aluminum Powerbook and 2 MacBook Pros. I’ve also owned several iPods and my current phone is an iPhone 3G. My brother thinks of me as an Apple zealot and for the most part he’s probably right.

That doesn’t me I’m one of those people who thinks Apple can do no wrong. I’ve had my share of issues with stuff over the years. The first Aluminum Powerbook I bought was a lemon. I thoroughly regretted not waiting for the next iteration. They did, however, replace it for me with a newer model so they more than made up for the problems. Anyway, you may want to take all that into account before reading any more of what I have to say.

The iPad seems to be positioned right smack in between the iPh0ne and any Mac laptop. It’s very slim, sleek and shiny. Overall I think it’s a pretty whizbang piece of technology, though in my honest opinion it seems to lack any killer app or functionality that would truly make it a gamechanger. Here are my impressions.

Performance

I found the iPad to be quite responsive overall. Anytime I touched something to open it, bang. It opened. Everything I tried to do happened very quickly. I don’t know what the processor speed was, but it was not lacking for anything that I tried. I wish the same was true for my iPhone 3G. A second or two of lag between pressing a button and the action then happening isn’t all that unusual at all.

Interface

If you’ve used an iPhone, you’ll be ready to start cruising around the world of the iPad in no time at all. There are the familiar icon screens that you can flick through sideways. There are also some icons fixed along the bottom for Safari, photos, email and iPod-like functionality. It’s very easy to find what you need and ‘touch’ it open.

You manage your iPad’s content through iTunes, just like an iPod or iPhone. Moving music, photos, apps and stuff is very easy to do.

You can also flip the iPad in any direction so you can use it in portrait or landscape mode. Unlike the iPhone, this works at any time in any app or at your home screen.

When you have to enter data, up comes the onscreen keyboard.

I could not for the life of my get the keyboard to work to my satisfaction by keeping my hands on the keys and typing. Using the one finger method proved to be most effective for me. That makes it fine for quick messages and the like but not so good if you ever want to type a longer email.

Internet

The model I played with was the lower cost machine. That means it connects via Wifi but not via 3G. The Wifi connection was really buggy. The signal strength was not very consistent. I also had to enter my wireless network password twelve times before it would connect. Prior to that it kept telling me my password was incorrect. Once connected I did find the speed of connection to be good. Web pages loaded quickly. I think for this machine to live up to its true potential, it needs the 3G or cellular internet connection.

Thereby comes one of the biggest rubs for me. I’m too cheap to pay for internet connection a third time. Currently I have to pay at home and also so connect with my iPhone. Money is an issue for me at this point of my life and I just can’t see myself shelling out one more time for a different device.

Display

The glossy display is clearly capable of producing a very nice images. I loaded several movies onto it that I already had formatted to watch on my iPhone. They all looked great. Well, almost. The glossy screen is glossy to the point of distraction.

As you can see in the image above, there’s quite a bit of reflection. The room I was sitting in wasn’t all that bright yet I could always see a ghosted image of myself watching myself watch a movie. That was a bit disappointing. I’m not a big fan of glossy screens overall though so I came into this biased against it already.

The other issue is that since this is a touch screen, every little smudge and smear is all too visible. If I had to pause the movie for any reason, by the time I got it playing again I found myself wiping down the screen as much as possible. This is an issue with my iPhone as well but it’s more tolerable in that situation. With the iPad, any imperfection on the screen is very conspicuous even to the casual viewer.

But the image it produces are very crisp and clear. Type appears to be very sharp and readable.

Ergonomics

There’s something about the size and shape of the iPad so that it never really felt comfortable in my hands. It’s sort of awkward to hold to the point that I’d definitely recommend using a protective case because it will surely slip out of my hands at some point if I was carrying it around regularly.

The same awkwardness holds true when I watched movies with it. I laid back on my couch and had to hold it with one hand to angle it to my liking. Watching movies, I just never got into a really comfortable position. In the end, I would have much preferred to watch it on my laptop where I could just lay down, set it on my belly and then angle the screen appropriately.

Random Extras

The iPad can be connected to a projector or video connection via an adapter. One thing worth noting is that it doesn’t send a constant video signal. It only sends a signal once you open certain apps, like the iPad version of Keynote. Otherwise, it doesn’t send any signal at all.

Since I only had the iPad for a few days, one thing I can’t comment on is the apps. I tried out plenty and thought they were very cool and worked really well. The ABC video player app was a particular favorite of mine. I was able to fire up a recent version of LOST and it worked great. I remember thinking when I got the iPhone that the apps were going the be the last thing I was going to be interested in. Boy was I wrong. I’d imagine the world of apps available for the iPad will have a similar addictive quality that they have for the iPhone.

Overall

I think the iPad is a very cool and sleek device. That being said, I really have no need for it. There are plenty of people who will love it. Who are those people? Anyone who spends a lot of time in airplanes or public transportation for extended periods of time will surely enjoy it. For me, I don’t do a whole lot of either one of those.

There are also a lot of people who use their computers almost exclusively to surf the web and check email. The iPad is a great option for them. It’s another quick and easy way to check your email or fly through some web pages. The key point for a person like me is that it’s another option. I can already just fire up my iPhone to quickly check email as opposed to my computer. I don’t need another option on top of another option. Plus my iPhone can check email everywhere thanks to its cellular network connection. The more fancy model of iPad could do the same but only with additional monthly internet access charges.

The iPad is a very cool device. Truth be told, if I was a person with a fair amount of disposable income I’d probably just buy one for the ‘cool new toy’ factor.

In the future, I could see the iPad really becoming more of a transformative device. In the world we live in right here and now, I don’t think the app or usage exists that makes such a quantum leap forward possible. I’m more than happy to stick with my iPhone and MacBook Pro.

In a few years, maybe the iPad will become a must have. Only time will tell…

Written by the bee dub

April 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

2010 Masters: Just to prove my point

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Phil Mickelson wins wearing what? All black…

Written by the bee dub

April 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm

2010 Master’s Commentary

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What is with all the white pants? Since when did white pants become necessary fashion accessories for the professional golfer? (Not to mention the white pant’s lesser known cousin, the white belt…)

Call me old school, but I enjoy golf a lot more when it isn’t about being fashion forward and is more about getting the dang ball into the friggin’ hole…

Written by the bee dub

April 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

Tagged with ,

Hermit Cinema: Up In The Air

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Years ago, bored on a flight I started flipping through the in-flight magazine. In it was this hilarious ad for business travelers. The headline read, “Fly United and see the world.” Underneath were pictures of ten very sterile, very corporate conference rooms, each with a caption showing where each was located: Paris. Rome. London. Tokyo. Etc.

This is the world of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney). He is a man with a very peculiar way of operating. That is, he’s most at home when he’s traveling. The days he has to spend at his actual ‘mailing address’ are nothing more than painful interruptions to his quest: accumulating more American Airlines mileage points than seems humanly possible.

Luckily, his job keeps him traveling over three hundred days a year. On the road he revels in his elite traveler status that allows him to bypass lines at airline or hotel check-in counters. He also revels in the freedom that comes with a complete lack of connection with other human beings. (This is very similar to Hugh Grant’s character in About a Boy who believes, “Each man is an island.”)

This too seems perfect for Ryan and his job as hatchet man for hire. Basically, he walks into companies and fires people when management doesn’t feel up to the task. Times are tough. That means Ryan is in high demand. The story takes us from city to city to city. Jason Reitman, who directed, does a great job of giving us a glimpse into the road warrior’s life.

Two females enter the scene and force Ryan to reevaluate his perspective on life. One is Alex (Vera Farmiga), a fellow road warrior who shares Ryan’s enthusiasm for elite travel status. They begin a casual relationship that blossoms into more. The other is Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick). She and her tightly-pulled ponytail are fresh out of Cornell, and naturally, graduated at the top of her class.

She proposes to Ryan’s boss that they eliminate all travel costs and simply terminate their clients’ employees via video chat from the home office in Omaha. This notion threatens to undermine Ryan’s entire existence. Eventually Ryan brings the skeptical Nathalie on the road to show why the job is best done in person. Meanwhile, Alex and Ryan cautiously grow more comfortable with their growing connection to one another.

All this leads to a formula that isn’t all that uncommon in the movies: Man has distinct way of living his life. Something forces Man to question his way of doing things. This is then resolved so that ultimately, Man is proven right or wrong. Man then presumably lives the rest of his life accordingly. (Again, see About a Boy.)

That coupled with the fact that the plot ‘twist’ was too predictable for me (and trust me, I’m pretty fucking stupid) hurt this movie somewhat. I didn’t dislike this film. It was enjoyable and kept me interested through the end. I just don’t know if it was worthy of a Best Picture nomination. I have to admit that the movie should be applauded for taking the road less traveled, according to the template described above. By doing so, the movie engages the viewers to ask themselves what the movie is really trying to say. That is more than most movies ever think of doing.

But in the end, I felt that this movie was trying to be more than it really was. A solid film with some interesting insights on the state of affairs of modern existence, I give this movie a straight B.

Written by the bee dub

April 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

Hermit Cinema: In The Loop

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Hands down, this is one of the best movies from last year. The dialogue is so lightning quick and honed to a hilarious edge, I half expected to find my ears sliced to a bloody pulp at my feet when the movie was over. With some of the sharpest writing ever captured on film, it’s a shame to me that a movie like Avatar is so heavily nominated on the awards circuit and this film goes virtually unrecognized.

Imagine the deep-cutting dialogue of David Mamet, mixed with hilarity that comes at the rapid-fire pace of a good sitcom. I laughed out loud several times. My expectations for this movie were pretty high but the actual experience was far smarter, funnier and engaging than I imagined.

Surprisingly, this movie is a spinoff from a BBC television series called The Thick of It that satirizes British politics. Some characters and many actors reappear in this film version. There are a LOT of characters to keep track of so we’ll just touch on my favorites. On the English side, there’s Toby (Chris Addison), a new adviser starting on his first day working for Simon (Tom Hollander), a development minister who can’t open his mouth without creating a public relations disaster. Judy (Gina McKee) is Simon’s calm and collected top aide.

Then there’s my favorite character: Malcom Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Malcolm is Minister of Communication and is the very embodiment of an expletive-spewing, subordinate-humiliating Alpha Male. When he needs to delegate, he calls in Jamie (Paul Higgins), a senior press agent who is clearly cut from the same cloth as Malcolm. When Malcolm asks Jamie to handle a situation delicately, Jamie responds, “You know me. Kid gloves…made from real kids.”

On the American side there’s Lt. General George Miller (James Gandolfini – the only actor I know of that uses the audible sound of air coming in and out of his nasal passages as a form of expression), Assistant Secretary of State – Diplomacy Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy), her young staffer Liza Weld (Anna Chlumsky of My Girl fame), Assistant Secretary of State – Policy Linton Barwick (David Rasche) and Chad (Zach Woods), who parades around with a squash racket in the hopes that Secretary Barwick will ask him to play. Liza wrote a paper for her boss that has made the rounds around The Beltway so quickly it’s already referred to by an acronym.

The story begins as America is about to go to war with an unnamed Middle Eastern country. All the aforementioned characters position themselves to hurry along or stop the war, while also jockeying to improve their own influence. Nothing seems out of bounds. Promises are made and reneged. Truth and facts are bent beyond recognition. The press is manipulated. It all seems just so…real.

Taking place in the offices and hallways of London, DC and the United Nations in New York, Armando Ianucci does a great job directing the vast cast of characters and keeping the dialogue flowing. The action here is nearly irrelevant. Everything is moved along by the dialogue and the very real way the actors deliver it.

I’ve watched this movie twice already and it was just as enjoyable both times. For me, this movie gets a solid A.

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