Category Archives: Reviews


I need to run — the wife needs computer help and I still need to stretch — so only a minute or so of verbal vomit: We saw Rango this weekend, which was highly entertaining. My challenge was keeping up with all of the movie references. Star Wars, Chinatown, pretty much every Clint Eastwood western, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas . . . Continue reading

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I completed my Saeco Aroma espresso upgrade this week, adding a frothing pitcher, steel tamper, non-pressurized portafilter and the cutest little red knock box from Seattle Coffee Gear.

For the past three days, I have been able to make espressos strong enough to double as paint remover, so it has definitely been worth it. I may have to work on my tamping technique, however. Per Seattle Coffee Gear’s instructional video, I should be using 30 pounds of pressure. So far, I have been pressing down on the tamper while jumping up and down, applying the full 250 pounds of me as pressure. The result is an almost pitch-black brew for the first ounce, dark brown for the second ounce, and the equivalent of the first ounce using the pressurized portafilter for the third ounce.

Vally, Jennie and I may have ulcers by the end of the month, but I’m definitely extracting the full flavour of the coffee now.

The only part I’ve had problems with is the knock box. It is small, red and adorable, but it was definitely not designed for six double shots every day. By the time I am finished making espresso, I’ve also made an incredible mess of splashes and puck pieces all around the knock box.

Next week I’ll try frothing.

I Forgot The F****ing Title

We go through a coffee grinder about once every six months. Either it breaks, or we get tired of sub-par grinding. Our last grinder was actually quite sturdy, but it used a blade, and I could never get the grinding just right for our French Press. Our new grinder is a burr grinder, which I much prefer.

If you enjoy the aroma of freshly-ground coffee, the Capresso Burr Grinder Model 551 is for you. The poorly-fitting connection between the grinder body and the ground coffee container emits a constant shower of grinds during grinding, gently dusting everything within two feet with a coffee coating and filling the room with that yummy coffee smell. As a bonus, the highly static grounds container sends forth another glop of grinds as soon as you move it from its base, and yet another when you pop open the lid. If you want to minimize the initial powdering, you have to press the catcher tightly against the main body during grinding.

Fortunately, I have big hands, so I can do this with just one hand. This is fortunate because the start button for the timer takes a few seconds before it actually stays down. A small-handed person would have to focus on holding the button down and enjoying the coffee dust batch for the first two or three seconds rather than focusing on minimizing the spray.

At this point, I like to wave a finger back and forth over the edge of the catcher body and watch the grounds line up and sway in time with my finger. I find this play of static and grounds quite mesmerizing. My wife finds it, and the mess, quite huff-inducing. You can’t please everyone.

Fundamentally Wrong

Attention G-DUB (Tard Sauce), Penis Cheney (Evil Sauce), Walnuts McCain (Apple Sauce), Bubba Clinton (Dick Sauce), Phil Gramm (Whine Sauce) and the rest of you assholes who forgot about the whole Great Depression and thought deregulation was a good idea: It’s the deregulation, stupids! Privatized profits, socialized losses. And yet, no social health care. Why is socialism good when it comes to banks and large corporations, yet so very very evil when it comes to the actual citizens of this country?

It is apparently not fiscal conservatism that drives the Republican machine (once again, yes, I know that Clinton is not a registered Republican), but rather pure greed, hate, lies and hypocrisy. For all your bluster about the evils of socialism, you are quick to jump off your privatization high-horse and screw the average American with bailouts of your own colossal fuckups. Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, close the “Enron Loophole” and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. There is a reason that we built protection in there after the excitement of our first Great Depression. Honestly, it wasn’t so great, so why are you morons so keen on reliving it? Every motherfucking one of you idiots involved in deregulation should be stripped of everything you own to pay back the American people. Haven’t we learned yet that conservative values lead to a complete meltdown that apparently can only be resolved with the application of liberal values? You should all be forced to spend the next five and a half years! being repeatedly kicked in the testicles for eight hours a day. After that, if you’ve somehow accepted that greed is bad, responsibility good, we can revisit whether the kickings should continue for another five and a half years.

This is ridiculous. As an average American (too fat, not overly-bright, and fearful of change. I don’t own a gun, but am seriously considering it. Sure, I believe that religion in this country has been seriously perverted by fundamentalists, so keep your god off of me. But I am willing to drink like a fish and be bitter, so I think I still work out as somehow average), I don’t want to have to learn about Glass-Steagal, worry about how much of the country you’ve already sold to the Chinese or hear one more story about some complete moron who gets $25 million just for being the CEO of a failed institution. Just fix the shit and get the hell out of the way. Regulate, since it is obvious that when it comes to everything, we don’t consider the best interests of our planet, much less our neighbors. And please, for gods’ sakes and ours, get a fucking clue.

p.s. — As for energy independence, how is drilling more going to help when oil is globalized? It’s not like American oil stays in America. It is a (relatively) free market, you fuckwads! And besides, it sounds like when it comes to Drill Here, Drill Now!, you’re doing it wrong.

And hey, McCain, if you and Palin somehow win this thing, remember that I’ve seen a checkbook, so I am highly qualified to run the treasury under your administration. Please send me whatever paperwork I need to sign for the job.

Okay, I feel better now.

A Little Rain Must Fall

Blessedly cool weather and the splatter of a few raindrops. A little cool and wet makes for a nice change, although since tomorrow is our water park day, I really hope this is over in less than twenty-four hours. Still, we need the wet, so it is welcome back on Tuesday.

We watched two movies this week, one as a family, one just me and Jennie. Both were action movies, which meant very simple plots on which to hang chases, explosions, gunfire and general mayhem. The first was the embarrassingly funny action comedy Transformers, the second the dour Bourne Ultimatum.

Transformers was frequently embarrassing to watch, and painful to listen to, due to the onscreen stupidity and very high noise levels. The movie was often hilarious, but mainly in what I think were supposed to be the touching moments. It is the story of a love triangle between a twenty-something year old high school junior, his first car, and the leathery well-tanned mid-twenties high school classmate he’s had a crush on since the first grade. The car turns out to be a pouty robot named Bumblebee and the classmate turns out to be into grand theft auto (no, not the video game, dammit!). Their poignant (or is it boring?) love affair is set against the battle of the boppin’ robots known as the Autobots. Some bad Autobots, all of whom have red glowing eyes which show how evil they are (well, except for the few that they forgot to give red eyes) kill people and battle the good robots, who have blue eyes and are mainly a bunch of pansies. Things explode. Robots get mangled. People are sad. Nobody bleeds. The good robots, with a little help from their friends, win in the end and it all ends with a group hug. Ahhhh, how sweet! It is pretty much impossible to tell what is going on most of the time, since it is mainly a bunch of robots fighting in a blur of metallic explosions, sparks and things flying off in every direction and lots of noise. Lots and lots of noise. Robots are damned noisy. In between the fights, people say IMPORTANT THINGS, and the head good robot tries to recite the world’s worst clichés. I think there must have been a cliché contest going on with the robots. Oh, and every drives GM vehicles in the near future.

The Bourne Ultimatum features a very serious and considerably heavier Matt Damon, sort of a slightly less constipated Harrison Ford in Frantic. I like that this third Bourne film picks up right where the last one left off, although it is difficult at first to reconcile the thinner Bourne of the last two movies with the jowly, middle-aged Bourne of this movie. It doesn’t help when they do flashbacks to the thinner Bourne. Does this mean that I did not enjoy Bourne Ultimatum? No, actually, I thought it was a great action movie. It didn’t way itself down with too much plot, but did at least have enough to give the characters a reason for doing what they did. Unlike the latest Bond, Bourne does not fly along rooftops, but has to actually work to do all of his silly jumping around. And he gets winded and bloody when fighting. A nice change for an action film. Nowhere near as silly as Transformers, with dialog that isn’t completely laughable. Fun stuff, the whole movie. Which leads me to my biggest problem with Bourne.

At $9.50 a ticket, movies are damned expensive. If I wait a few months, I can buy the DVD release or rent the movie for less than it costs for two tickets. Throw in gas and the babysitter fees for the evening and I could upgrade my home theatre system. So why go to the theatre to watch a movie? Two reasons, really: 1. To get away from the kids, and 2. to see it on the big screen.

While we got to see Bourne Ultimatum on the big screen, we did not get away from the kids. The group of teenage morons to our right weren’t aware that they were in a movie theatre, apparently. They spent the first twenty minutes giggling, yapping and flashing their cell phones, generally being total idiots. They quieted down after Jennie pointed out that the rest of the audience was there to watch a movie, but did not quite understand that cell phone use in a theatre is frowned upon. The sad thing is, they weren’t the only ones incapable of keeping their phones shut; throughout the evening, several cell phones were flashed on for a while. I’m guessing people were calling friends watching other movies to find out what was going on. And my wife wonders why I don’t like people . . .

If theatre owners cared, there is technology to block cell phone signals, but their only concern is getting people into theatres, not making the experience enjoyable. Even if signals are blocked, that won’t stop the geniuses who use their cell phones as flashlights, or play video games when the movie gets too slow to be interesting to them. All things considered, it is going to be a while before I attend another movie outside of my basement.


It is hard to believe, but summer is almost done. I have yet to take the boat out on the lake and already the eggplant is rip and demanding immediate harvest; it is time for riso dell’ autonne. If only I could raise my own lamb . . . however the children refuse to eat anything they have named and I am too much the sucker for guilt. Still, we can get excellent fresh lamb from the local farmers’ market. While the cotolette alla griglia con aglio dolce would be best with home-raised lamb, I am willing to make it with local farm-raised instead.

The end of summer means fall planting. We are still hitting the upper nineties during the day, but cooling rapidly in the evening. My tomatoes are tortured, although the wasps seem perfectly content. It is time to get the new trees in the ground. I have an English Filbert, several varieties of maple, arrowwood, plums and some random bushes. Unfortunately, I have no replacement for my beloved recently-departed Burr Oak.

Ach!- So much to do and the year is almost over. The bathroom window and the swamp cooler both need to be framed out and our brilliant governor needs mocking. At least the wife’s been in overdrive lately, making pesto and salsa by the gallon, canning peaches and bringing in the fall harvest (which, yes, includes entirely too many eggplants). We should eat well this winter, if only we can find a baguette worth buying.

And on an entirely unrelated note, if you haven’t seen the movie Darwin Awards, please do so. If only for the shower scene, it is the funniest movie I’ve seen in a while. Sure, there isn’t a lot of plot, and it drags at times, but for the most part, this film is hilarious.

Potato Wine

When most people think Idaho, they think potato. Or skinheads. Either way, it’s a spud. Up here in the northern tip of Idaho, it’s the huckleberry. Or, once again, the skinhead. Wanting to expand our Idaho experience, we’ve been trying out the local wines, which are made from neither the potato nor the skinhead, and only occasionally include huckleberries. Our favorite, based on their ice wine, has been Ste. Chapelle’s.

This weekend, I decided to expand our tastings of Ste. Chapelle’s and purchased several bottles of Chardonnay, Souvignon Blanc, Riesling, Dry Riesling, Soft Chenin Blanc and a few others that I do not remember and for which I am too lazy to trudge down to the basement and check the labels. So far, we have tried two of these delightful wines, the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc. They have quite similar tastes, that is to say, almost none at all, instead relying on the bite of alcohol to provide the flavor. Well, to be honest, there is a bit of flavor which comes from the bouquet, so what you end up with is weak battery acid with a hint of rotting fruit. Not exactly a user-friendly wine in either case. Tomorrow I think we’ll try the Rieslings, and if those are similarly uninspiring, it will be time to play the wine snob and dump the rest of the stuff down the drain. Please, oh please, don’t disappoint us, my sweet Rieslings!

I Thought There’d Be More . . . Well, More.

We saw Eragon today. Having read the book, I was curious how they’d pack everything into just over and hour and a half. Having seen the previews, I was curious as to how cheesy the special effects really would be. I can now safely say that the special effects were as cheesy as they could possibly be, and they packed everything in by cutting out almost every subplot and anything involved in character development. I’d be willing to guess that the screenwriter read a Cliff’s Notes version of the book and that the director wasn’t even aware that there had been a book. Yeah, it was that good. To paraphrase Brom, this movie was 1 part book and 3 parts schmaltz. If you’ve read the book, seeing the movie is just going to piss you off. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll be left wondering what the point is to anything on-screen. Yeah, it was that bad. And once again, since I love paraphrasing . . . Plan 9 From Outer-Space called and they want their “worst movie” title back. Okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT bad. But still . . .

Filthy Gets A Makeover

I’m not sure, but I think Filthy started using a spellcheck. Either that or he’s sober. Damn, just when I was getting used to the disjointed, half-finished sentences and occasional words that were open to an entire universe of misspelled possibilities. Anyway, here’s his review for You, Me and Dupree. Sure, it’s entertaining and probably the best review of the movie you’ll ever read, but it’s weird. Just plain weird. Where are the typos, the harelip, Candy Bottoms or the tavern? Please don’t be sobering up, Filthy!


I just finished watching Syriana. Not quite as uplifting as Pirates. Damn, now I am going to feel guilty driving my GMC Sierra to the gym tomorrow. I think I was in a mood for a more positive movie . . .