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5 Step Pasta Salad

13 Nov

Step 1: Cook pasta of your choice, but ensure its not linguine, spaghetti, or spaghettini, use a penne, rigatoni, tortilglioni, or some of the other million different other types of bite sized pasta.

Step 2: Dice tomatoes, celery, onions.

Step 3: Cool pasta, combine vegetables, pasta, salt, and dressing of your choice (I used a Japanese Citron Sesame) into a container.

Step 4: Shake the container and mix it all together.

Step 5: Eat.

Chicago Style Hot Dog & Home-made Coleslaw

5 Sep

So it may not be a poppy seed bun, and it may not have the sport peppers, but here’s my take on a Chicago Style Hot Dog, complimented with some easy to make home-made cole slaw. For this dish you’ll need:

Hot Dogs/Smokies

Buns

White onion (diced)

Red onion (diced)

Green onion (chopped)

Sweet Peppers

Dill Pickles (Sliced)

Tomato (Sliced)

Red Cabbage

White Cabbage

Eggs

Celery Seed

Paprika

Vinegar

Best to start off making your coleslaw first, as this will need to cool in the fridge for some time. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, paprika, celery seed, ground mustard or a heavy spoonful of real mustard in a sauce pan. Separate a few egg yolks and add them in as well, pour a little water in and let the mixture simmer as you mix or whisk it all together. While that’s happening time for the main component in any cole slaw; cabbage. You can now chop up your cabbage, or use a grater and shred it depending on how you like it, I used red and white cabbage, but your free to use what you like. Once ready, you can add your sauce you just made and mix it all together, this is where I added in some green onion as well. And your done, easy right? Make sure to get the coleslaw in the fridge to let it chill.

Now everyone knows how to make a hot dog, but here’s a few key ingredients to get that Chicago style taste. Slice up dill pickles, tomato’s, and prepare your onions as well. Grill the hot dogs on the BBQ, and prepare your buns. If you have poppy seed buns great, if not I used large sesame seed buns. Garnish your bun with sweet peppers, tomato, red and green onion, relish, and the king of all condiments; mustard, and please, refrain from using ketchup! Finish with a small pinch of celery salt and your ready to chow down.

Coupled with your home-made coleslaw, some chips, and a beer, you’ve got a fantastic meal that is sure to please everyone. Enjoy!

Music for Today

2 Sep

Another day begins to the sound of rain on the window. Here are some fitting songs to any morning. Enjoy.

BBQ Corn? Of Course!

5 Jun

If you are thinking of what to make for lunch or supper, why not pick up some corn husks and fire up the BBQ? These are some great summer idea’s that can easily all be done on the BBQ.

For a delicious meal of sweet chili corn, BBQ chicken, and oregano lime seasoned sweet potato grilled fries, try getting these items together:

Corn in the Husk

Chicken

Sweet Potatoes

Butter

Sweet Chili Sauce

Lime Juice

Olive Oil

Oregano

Curry Paste

Mayonaise

The key to using the BBQ to cook your corn is to let the husks soak in cool water well in advance of putting them on the grill. This will prevent dried out corn and husks that instantly go up in flames, so get that corn in the sink with some water right off the bat (preferably hours before you plan to start cooking).

Next prepare the sweet potatoes, start off by setting a large pot on the stove and begin boiling water. Wash the sweet potatoes and cut the pointy ends off, and begin to cut them into wedges or slices, the size will affect the cooking time, but don’t be afraid to cut them a little big.

While you wait for your water to boil you can prepare the seasoning. Mix oil, lime juice, and oregano in a small bowl and mix it. This will be the basting sauce when they are on the BBQ. Once your water is boiling you can toss your sweet potato slices in the water and let them cook for about 10 minutes. The goal here is to get them partially cooked before going on the BBQ, so get them soft, but not too soft that they fall apart.

Now to make some sidekicks that will really set this meal off, start by making a dip for those sweet potato fries. Please leave the ketchup in the fridge, in Europe mayonnaise is the french fries compliment of choice and we’re gonna build of that. Dish some mayo in a mixing bowl, and add lime juice from 1 lime, or squirt in some from the bottle, don’t be shy with this. Next add about a teaspoon of curry paste, this you can be shy with as it really has some kick. Mix together and add more mayo or curry paste to taste. Keep mixing until you get a well blended mixture with nice color.

Next scoop some butter in another mixing dish, now you can make your own chili addition, but I find that sweet chili sauce is just as good. Pour in the sweet chili and really mix it in well with the butter, give it a taste to check the amounts, and keep mixing until you get a whipped butter texture.

You can now place those corn husks on the BBQ, pull the sweet potatoes out of the water and get them on the grill as well. These items will take longer to cook so get them on while you get your chicken ready. You can begin brushing the basting sauce on your fries continually as they cook (Tip: You can lather the fries in egg to ensure they are crispy). Turn the corn a few times, as well. For this dish, the features were the corn and the fries, so just simple boned chicken on the grill with some BBQ sauce was an easy addition to round out the meal.

Pull everything off the grill, pull the husks off the corn, and start eating! Make sure your friends get some mayonnaise mix for their fries, and lather that corn on the cob with your sweet chili butter. Yum!

Home Alone House For Sale

8 May

It was the home of the Mcallisters, it was a huge warm home big enough for the whole family, and it was a house that Kevin had to protect. Not many movies portray a house like Home Alone did back when it was released in 1990, the house was the battleground for Kevin as he had to defend it from burglars and really was like a main character in the movie itself.

And just recently that same house in Chicago Illinois has gone up for sale. So if you have the cash, you can own a little piece of cinema history. The 4250 sq. ft. home has 4 bedrooms and 14 rooms in total, and it also features a scary basement, cool third floor bedrooms, and a staircase just begging for a toboggan.

The house is listed for $2.4 million… keep the change you filthy animal.

The house is currently being listed by Coldwell Banker and you can check out the online real estate page here:

http://homealonehome.coldwellbanker.com/

You can read more about the house here:

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/06/home-alone-house-for-sale-for-2-4-million/

Closet House: The Compact Revolution

10 Mar

Who needs a big house? Thats just more shit to clean! Small homes and apartments are nothing new, but small spaces that feel bigger than they are, and are extremely cool is new. There is a quiet movement of these modern pint sized apartments and I call it ‘The Compact Revolution’.

The revolution has been growing, and has its roots primarily in the Asian and European regions. I first encountered the art of extreme space saving in Hong Kong designs. With an ever expanding population, and the drive to increase urban density and reduce our human footprint, the compact revolution is a movement to battle urban sprawl in style. If you want people to change, you need to create options, and not just any options, cool options.

One of the most recent designs I’ve seen in the compact world is the perfectly named ‘Closet House’ from Portugal. This apartment features 5 living areas in 474 square feet, and does it well. Watch the video to truly experience how the compact revolution is growing.

 

Ashton Kutcher’s Pad

4 Feb

I don’t normally follow what celebrities are up to, but I do follow the housing market. And thats when I stumbled upon this house.

Before Ashton Kutcher met Demi, he was in need of a bachelor pad to call his own. Apparently he bought this house for 1 million dollars, and proceeded to renovate it with his father. The house was expanded to 3235 sq.ft, and features large windows, rare hardwood finishings, and pool out back. It is now for sale, and listed at www.zillow.com.

2010 Films in Review

30 Jan

2010 may not have hosted the best movies of any year on record (1977-Star Wars obviously…), but it most certainly had some worthy works. Despite the usual expected travesties such as Twilight and Sex and the City sequels, there were some remarkable films. One of the first to come to mind would be Inception, the film that played on the realities of a dream. A great action film leaving you with the same sort of feeling you had after watching the Matrix for the first time, waking up in the middle of the night screaming “WHAT IS REAL!?” Well maybe not that far, but another DiCaprio hit none the less.

Other worthy mentions would be the Social Network, with the surprisingly entertaining depiction of Mr Zuckerberg himself, the unexpected humor in Kick Ass, the ever likable Boston gangster film genre of The Town, and the witty remarks of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. Furthermore, the less popular but incredibly well written film Remember Me starring Robert Pattinson showed this British actor is capable of portraying a decent character other than a sparkly vampire. Never Let Me Go, was a difficult and sad yet incredible movie to watch as well, same goes for Winters Bone which Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job in.

I maintain 2010 was a good year for movies. It’s hard to explain the value of movies to non-movie buffs, and I can never express enough the importance of watching each film for what it is. Let yourself into the story, experience what the filmmakers are trying to portray, because films are not merely entertainment, they are depictions of all the feelings and emotions we have in this world.

So I’ll leave you with one of the best movie montages of 2010 I’ve seen. Kudos to the creators of this, they did a good job. We’ll see how 2011 turns out.

Corporate Culture: Money Never Sleeps

25 Jan

Recently, the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was recently released on DVD, and with that, I found it fitting to comment on the deeper meanings of the film itself. By no means is this film a spectacular experience, but there is a host of imagery and underlying concepts to look out for as you watch the story unfold. The following is a section of a paper we had to prepare on corporate culture.

Beneath the Surface

Oliver Stone is a highly outspoken director, and he uses no restraint in expressing his views in a myriad of ways. For behind the acting and the story of the characters in the film, lies an entire other story, a story that few actual viewers even discover, and it is only when you pay attention to the cues to this story that it will be revealed. Money Never Sleeps is loaded with imagery and metaphors alike, all of which hold true to Stone’s views on corporate and political issues in America. Some of the techniques are subtle, requiring a close eye or ear to catch them, others are more outspoken, but all serve the same purpose. That purpose is to persuade the audience to see America’s society through a particular lens; Stone is holding that lens in this movie, you are looking through it.

Greed

One of the most visible themes that Stone puts into the open in the film is the concept of Greed. From Stone’s first Wall Street Film came the famous Gordon Gekko phrase; ‘Greed is Good’. And although both the original and the sequel film portray very capitalist ideals, one should not be mistaken into thinking that this portrayal is done so in a positive manner. Alternatively, Stone does a good job in exploring the quick highs, and shiny exploits of a greedy Gordon Gekko, a greedy Bretton James, a greedy America.

Earrings and Cars

Throughout Money Never Sleeps, there is a constant portrayal of the shiny exploits of greedy endeavors. Stone places these images of the wealthy throughout the film, in varying levels of exposure. For example, the constant presence of expensive cars and motorcycles is shown. The motorcycle leads this image of toys of the wealthy, and breaks open with Shia Labeouf’s character Jake riding his motorcycle to work. The trend continues from hedge funder parties displaying an array of cars that cost as much as most people’s homes, to that very well sponsored bike brand of shiny Ducati’s splattered across many of the films scenes. As you look closer you’ll notice an abundance of jewelry. One particular scene which exemplifies this is when Jake attends the dinner party with his new employer Bretton James. You’ll notice the women in these scenes weighed down with massive diamond earrings and elaborate pearl necklaces. Precious stones, motorcycles and fast cars, all of which Stone uses to showcase the abundance of unnecessary wealth the greedy obtain.

The Darkness

One of the most striking moods Stone creates in the movie is one that reflects the nature of the discussions and transactions of the financial heads. The meetings in which Louis Zabel and Bretton James discuss financial decisions of the nation’s biggest banks take place in a room with rich wood furniture, and closed windows. This dark atmosphere accompanied by men in suits gathered around the large table portray a meeting not unlike that of some secret society making decisions about how to control the world. For it is the idea of a dark and ominous meeting place and the even darker decisions being made that Stone wishes to expose to his audience. This very idea of darkness is present even in the movie poster released for the film, in which Gekko stands over Jake; the mentor and the apprentice, with that persistent darkness creeping in from the right.  In Stone’s lens, the head of financial institutions are those dark decision makers, the fate of many decided by the handshakes of a few. Once more, almost on cue, as the dealings of Bretton James’ firm become exposed, and the truth starts to escape, light begins to shine in from windows. The light of truth begins to expose those once dark deals.

Saturn

What decisions are the likes of the greedy ready to make? How far will one go to achieve their goals? Stone would have you believe that the limits of the true capitalist stretch much further than you’d think. In the film, the imagery of how far greed can push people is displayed in horrific measures, so far that they span past the limitations of humanity and decency. Take for example the painting that Bretton James introduces to Jake when they enter Bretton’s office. The painting is the famous image of Saturn devouring his son. The ‘Black Paintings’ were works completed by Francisco Goya, a series of which reflect Goya’s own outlook towards life and humanity in the early 19th century. So paranoid that his children would try to overtake him and steal his power, the roman god Saturn apparently killed and ate each of his children as they were born. That very same theme paints its own bleak image that Stone uses to reflect upon the extremes in which man will go to attain power and wealth. One cannot help but think back to this imagery when Gordon Gekko himself betrays his own daughter’s final strands of trust as he swindles the 100 million dollars out of her bank account, thought to be safe in Switzerland. Through these actions, Stone does not hesitate to claim that desire for money and power hold no restraint when human beings become infected and begin to show its symptoms.

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

As one walks away from this film, through all the moods and imagery that the film creates, there is but one that holds significance lasting power. The character who best exhibits this theme is Louis Zabel. When Jake asks Louis if he is ok near the beginning of the film, Louis replies “good day I’m ok, bad day I’m ok, what’s the difference”. This simple phrase embodies the shear unhappiness in Louis’ life; a man who spent his entire life chasing money, looking for success and never being satisfied. The realization of all those wasted years coming too late for Louis, he tries to get through to Jake, and help him appreciate what really is important in life. The distraught life of Louis Zabel peaks in the scene where he wakes up one morning and goes through his normal routine and makes his way into the subway station. The intensity of the music alone offers a glimpse into what is about to happen. So lost was Louis Zabel, so alone in a world in which he hardly knew anymore, distancing himself from what was important in the pursuit of money. This is a devastating event for Jake, as you watch the news of his mentor’s death in the close-up of Jakes eyes. This scene serves as the tipping point for Jake, as he then begins to put the pieces of Louis’ advice together through the rest of the movie. Oliver Stone is effectively using Louis Zabel’s character to portray the simple fact that money cannot buy you happiness.

Validity

The ideas brought forward by the director are by many standards, very controversial. One could argue that this film attempts to expose activities of the political right, and at the same time presents views and even solutions from the political left. Oliver Stone as a director is quite forward in his expression of views towards political, economic, and corporate culture. These expressions often masked behind movies, but also evident in public statements as well. If you follow Oliver Stone’s films, they are consistent in their techniques used. Typically portraying a certain issue, but alluding to the controversial questions surrounding the issue throughout the film. A Vietnam War vet himself, these techniques were used in the film ‘Platoon’ in 1986. The characters and the story are only skin deep to the deeper issues he tries to expose. The focus on story and character development is hardly elaborate in any of his films, as evident by a significant amount of documentary style films he has been a part of. Take for example the films ‘JFK’, ‘Nixon’ ‘W’ and more recent ‘South of the Border’, all heavy on the political side as well. By infusing so much political subjectivity into a film, you risk validity in your work.

Subjective/Objective

By leaving objectivity at the door, you induce certain implications when validity comes into play. Money Never Sleeps provides some very interesting dialogue near the end of the film. The dialogue hardly applies to the story or the characters in the film. This dialogue provided by Shia Labaeuf’s character Jake instead addresses the issues in the film that had thus far been shrouded over by the surface story. In this dialogue, Jake says “What is the definition of insanity; it is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. By that standard, most of us are insane, but not at the same time. On that basis we trust. But can this way of life endure if more and more of us are insane at the same time?” Stone is alluding to his opinion that society is insane; we are making the same mistakes over and over, and by doing so, are eroding a lifestyle we have become accustomed to. Whether directly or indirectly, the act of hinting that American values of capitalism and democracy aren’t working as a system falls into subjective expression.

Subsequently, depending on the audience, the levels of objective and subjective expression vary. An audience which agrees with the ideas put forward will view the work as more objective, while those who disagree would push it into the realm of subjectivity. True objective material allows factual information to be brought into the open, allowing the audience to form their opinions based upon the provided content. So it is the personal background of the individual that dictates the degree of subjectivity in a film.

Effectiveness

Over all, Stone puts forth some credible arguments but lacks fluidity between the characters story and the hidden agenda. That constant bubble metaphor throughout the film will have you flipping scenes to count how many bubbles you can find. Stone uses these bubbles in an attempt to shine a somewhat positive light on the issues at hand near the end of the film. “Bubbles are evolutionary…always creating change” as heard in the final dialogue by Jake implies that there is hope despite all humanities mistakes. That as society we can learn from past errors if we so choose, and inflict the measures necessary to induce change. “Didn’t you say green’s the new bubble Jake?” are the words said to Jake by Gordon Gekko, as he informs the young couple that he put 100 million dollars into the United Fusion company. A great start, but one might scratch their head wondering if after all that has happened, if that’s all that’s required to make it better again. Stone enforces this feeling of optimism with the final scene in which all the characters are in a state of bliss celebrating the birthday of Jake and Winnie’s child. While quick fixes might not be reality, a step in the right direction is a good start.

Value

With mixed reviews, Money Never Sleeps may not be a box office record breaker, but it does hold some significant value. As the current economy struggles to resist a double dip recession, many people are looking to the reasons why. Everyone wants to know why the housing market crashed. Taxpayers were asking why their money was being used to bailout the big banks and their bad investments. Where should we be investing for the future? A series of questions with limited answers, the real value in this film is inspiring dialogue about these issues. Louis Zabel tells Jack that he’s “asking the wrong questions”. Only as we strive to ask the right questions can we hope to achieve change. The scale on the level of change is not as important, small or big, change is nevertheless an important process. Always learning, always changing, this is the necessity for the betterment of society.

Home is Wherever I’m With You

20 Jan

 

This video is going viral, and for good reason, it will make you smile. Not is only is the kid cute, but I think this video represents the type of parent many of us want to be, sharing moments like this with our children. That theme is the foundation to the popularity of the video, not because the song itself is great or anything like that. It also led to the duo being on the Ellen show, performing the same song. But I think its pretty clear, that the original video cant be beat.