Friday, October 27, 2006

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie, Starts With ME!

You folks realize that I'm a straight male, right? I mean, you didn't have any doubts, did you? You've read the previous posts and understood that I'm all about the ladies?

Good, then I guess it's O.K. to tell you that last weekend I baked cookies. Not just any cookies, however. Nope, sticking with the Fall/Halloween theme I baked Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. Call it a spur of the moment thing. I was sitting at home, bored out of my skull, and surfing the Internet, when I happened upon's list of "Most E-Mailed stories" and saw that the top one was the above linked recipe. With little else to do at the time I said to myself, "Screw it! I need to learn how to cook. Baking seems like a good place to start! After all, I have the Whole Foods frozen pizza down pat!"

I was a tad wrong. Baking is much more difficult then I would ever have guessed, BUT, I'm proud to report that the cookies were decidedly mediocre. Don't laugh - this was quite an achievement for me. Granted, there were some trip-ups along the way. You should have heard my roommate (a tremendous cook in his own right - although he readily admits that he "doesn't do baking") chuckle with delight when I exclaimed, "Oh, f*ck! I bought pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree!" I also made an absolute mess of the kitchen, with flour everywhere and dough splatter covering both me and the walls (courtesy of the hand mixer I'd purchased special for the occasion.) All that aside, however, I made a decent, if bland, first attempt and I'm pleased enough with the results to continue down the path towards culinary perfection.

What's up next? Well, it IS still Halloween time, and I DID promise a few Halloween themed posts. So, I guess the logical next step would be to attempt some Halloween type foods. How do these grab you?

Heh Heh. Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' bout. Gives new meaning to the terms brain food and finger food, wouldn't you say? (Sorry, horrible pun.) These juicy little morsels come via the eGullet website (which was subsequently linked from on Boing Boing, where I of course found them. I find everything on Boing Boing) and user 'Tejon' who was kind enough to post the recipes for each here (just make sure to scroll down a little bit.) These are just delightful. I don't know if I'll even be able to make either one of these, but I might have to attempt it. I especially like her suggestion regarding the brain mold - to either place it on a platter or to shove a carving knife through the center of it.

Aaaaaaand seeing that it's still spooky season, Friday, and all that here are a few more links for your lazy pleasure:

  • Some safety tips for those of you bringing children around for trick-or-treating. I especially like #1. And yes, I feel tremendously guilty saying that.
  • I'm not quite sure what The Tramping Ground is but it looks like a bunch of Halloween themed shorts and links. In any event, it's got a spooky feel about it so it seemed worth linking.
  • Some cat who apparently has the same idea as me - posting lots of Halloween themed links - however this blog revolves around paper folding and arts and crafts. Some cool stuff you can make if you don't feel like baking.
  • Spelling with Zombies. Now insertable into your website!
  • Because I'm a nice guy, here's a bonus music download for you - Vince Guaraldi Trio performing Great Pumpkin Waltz - taken straight from "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" This tune takes me back, yo - for various reasons. The first is simply the holiday special itself. I loved it. Still do, actually. Another less enjoyable reason is that I was often called Linus when I was younger. Some of my classmates thought I bore a striking resemblance to the character so they dubbed me with his moniker and implored me to utter phrases like, "The Great Pumpkin Patch" and "And this will be a sign unto you! (from the Christmas special.)" Apparently, before hitting adolescence I sounded like him too. All I needed was a blankee. The whole thing was somewhat humiliating, but for whatever reason I liked the nickname. It didn't stick, however, and for that I think I'm pretty grateful.
  • You know? One track from the Halloween Special just won't cut it, huh? Didn't think so. Well, if you want to actually WATCH the show, it's on tonight on ABC. Huzzah! But, just in case you miss it, here's the thing in it's entirety.

Enjoy your rocks, folks. Have fun baking, and Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Z is for Zillah - That's Good Enough For Me

Halloween is fast approaching, and although I don't really participate in the holiday anymore (it's just too much effort to constantly be walking up and down three flights of stairs just to dole out candy to youngsters who on any other evening I would rather muzzle. Plus, in my neighborhood, they're just as likely to show up dressed as a "gangsta" with a loaded weapon as a prop) I still feel like getting into the spirit of things with some Halloween themed posts.

Today I'm passing along the link to this little gem of a quiz I found that will tell you 'What horrible Edward Gorey death you will die.' Edward Gorey is, of course, the wonderfully macabre (and now dead) author/illustrator whose book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, I have on full display in my apartment, and have mentioned several times on this blog. In fact, they seem to have ripped the quiz results straight from the book itself. Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled with my own result (see below.)

So... how will you die? Let us know in the comments, if you dare.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?

You will drink too much gin. Not the worst way to die, but you won't remember too much of your life. Hey, at least you made some people laugh!
Take this quiz!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mnah Mnah - The Mashups

Mnah Mnah

Do Dooo Do Doo Do

Mnah Mnah

Do Doo Do Do

Mnah Mnah

Do Dooo Do Doo Do, Do Doo Do, Do Doo Do, Do Doo Do Do Do Doo Doo Dooo Do

(It's a link, people.)

Look familiar? It should. That little link up there made up one of the most popular posts in this blog's history. You know - there was a time long ago where if you entered "Mnah Mnah" into Google, Murky Words was the top entry listed. I've since been dropped to #2. It's time to remedy that. But, you don't think I'd give you the same old Muppet clip, do you? Nay Nay. We're all about originality here at the Murk. This is, instead, a nice little mashup featuring Kanye West's 'Golddigger' which pretty much had me on the floor. Amazing how well the two work together. It comes from a continuous mix by DJ NoNo that features all different types of muppet-themed mashups. There's also a "Mnah Mnah in Memphis" (Mnah Mnah vs. Walking in Memphis - not nearly as good which is the reason I didn't post it here, but still somewhat amusing.) Enjoy. Mnah.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tea For One

So, I'm sitting here at work on a Sunday (don't ask), and thinking lots of things, hateful and otherwise. My mind is doing a fair bit of grumbling about lack of sleep, potential missed football games, and the general unfairness of it all. I'm cursing Microsoft PowerPoint, InFocus LCD projectors, and debating the wisdom of holding financial board meetings on a weekend. But, as I sit here mumbling to myself and sipping on a cup of coffee, do you know what I'm really thinking? I'm thinking, "Hey man, tea is, like, SO back - and in a big way."

A couple of things have led me to this conclusion. The first, and most obvious, are the health benefits of tea that all manner of people are spouting on about from on high. The medical community is praising tea for its high levels of antioxidants (I've never really been clear on what antioxidants are, but I hear they're good for you, and I think they might help prevent certain type of cancers - so that's cool, then.) Not to be outdone, lots of Eastern religions and philosophies are saying, "Yup, yup. See there? I told you so, sucka", and showing how tea has been an integral part of their practice for many a moon. It would appear them chilled out Buddhists have a point too, as now modern science is showing that tea alleviates stress - and isn't there too much stress in our world? Hear Hear. Wouldn't it be cool to take a sip of black tea and just sit back and sigh a big, "AHHHHhhhhhhh." See? Now we can.

Another reason for the increase in popularity is the influx of "tea bars", for lack of a better term, popping up around town. Places like Tealuxe and Teavana (former is better than the latter, in my opinion) are doing darn good business. I'm a frequent patron of both places, and rarely do I not encounter a line when I go to purchase my loose-leaf. Plus, it doesn't cost $3.50 a cup and they have TONS of different varieties. Let's face it - there's only so much you can do with coffee. Yeah, you can market it towards the seasons and serve it with mint or pumpkin or mocha, but underneath it all it still just tastes like coffee. But tea? Jesus, you can turn anything into tea. Blueberry Oolong, Gunpowder Green, Irish Breakfast, Pomegranate White, etc... Just throw it into a porous filter and let it sit for a couple of minutes. A couple of friends of mine in college regularly did this with mushrooms, to great effect. Plus, each tea has it's own distinct flavor so you don't have to worry about getting bored with the same old taste.

But perhaps the biggest reason for tea's resurgence (touched upon briefly before) is that people are seeing it as a viable alternative to coffee. Several years ago, I decided to go the black tea route in the morning, for reasons already mentioned above. However, towering above all those incentives was the simple fact that I didn't like what coffee did to me physically - namely, get me wired to the gills and make me pee with great frequency. I don't have to look very far to prove it was a smart decision, either. I'm drinking coffee right now - Green Mountain Coffee's Fair Trade Sumatran Reserve, to be precise - and I'm bursting out of my skin. (Note: Try and ignore the hypocrisy for a moment, if you can. My employer has shamefully run out of tea on this fine Sunday, so I was left with no other option.) My eyes are wide open, and in the past twenty minutes I've had to go to the bathroom twice. Hell, even my nose is twitching. No joke. I'm a regular Elizabeth friggin' Montgomery. That's the other think I don't like about coffee. Drink too much of it and you start getting all sorts of weird facial tics. Muscles you never knew you had will start tap dancing. It's different for everyone, but in my case it'll usually be the nose, the right eyebrow, or the left side of my left eyelid. Drinking a beverage that makes me look like I have a mild case of epilepsy... well, there's something wrong there, wouldn't you say?

So, while not eliminating coffee altogether, I'm sticking with tea as my caffeinated beverage of choice. I like it black in the morning (straight, no chaser), maybe a little green in the afternoon (like Ireland and Kermit), and herbal at night (no, not that kind of herbal, smart ass. Sleepytime, calm type herbs.) With any luck, I'll live a long, happy, seizure free life filled with ragin' antioxidants and a lack of stress - executive PowerPoint presentations notwithstanding.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Meet The New Blog. Same As The Old Blog.

In an effort to spice things up a bit here, I signed up for the Blogger Beta service in the hopes that I would be able to move this hunk o' web space to it, and thus modify the layout much more easily. Maybe I'd change the background a little bit (I'm thinking a nice taupe. What say you? Hmm?) Perhaps I'd adjust the list of links on the right hand side. I could litter the site with small subliminal expletives, etc... This new beta version of Blogger (as opposed to the regular version - although I own the domain name and have my own web host, I still use Blogger to publish this page) apparently allows one to change things simply by clicking and dragging the elements to the template as opposed to what you currently have to do - dive into the template's HTML code and alter it. I thought this to be, as you might guess, a very exciting development, because although I may sound all techie hoity toity by throwing out phrases like "alter the code", I actually execute that task rather poorly. Click and drag, therefore, is a much welcome innovation.

Or it would have been had it worked. Not one to ever bother with directions or fine print, I didn't pay any attention to the fact that you 1) needed to be invited to switch over to the new service as they're only moving a small amount of people over at a time and 2) cannot yet move if you publish your blog on an non-Blogger server (as I do.) All of this was staring me in the face when I decided to sign up. Somehow, I just missed it. So now, I've got an account with Blogger (where I'm typing up this post) and an account with Blogger Beta with nothing in it, and seemingly no way to merge the two.

What does this mean for you, the average reader? Nothing at all, except that I'm pissed... so, still... nothing at all. The blog will continue on with the same layout for the foreseeable future, and I'll continue to post as regularly as only I know how.

Oh, and... yeah, about the, uh, number of posts lately. See, it goes a little something like this. 250 Japanese students have recently arrived at the school where I work, all of them bearing laptop computers and little knowledge of English, save for one word - "Internet-o." Somehow I get suckered into setting them all up with wireless access (probably because that's my job - even though I don't want it to be) which takes inordinate amounts of time and takes away from other, uh, life affirming pleasures like writing blog posts. Plus, Miss Goofus decided to stop by for a wonderfully timed, fun-filled visit recently and we were busy doing all sorts of things the high and mighty do, like attending the theahtah and watching bad TV shows. Time has been short, in otherwords.

Plus, there's also the issue of the posts themselves. When I first started this blog, I wrote smaller posts at a more frequent pace. For the past couple of months, I've been writing posts that would rival masters theses (is that right? or is it thesis's?) in length - only one or two every couple of weeks - and in doing so, I've somehow pressured myself into trying to write "the best post ever" every time. Doing so takes time - a lot of it - and I would often discourage myself from writing, thinking I could better spend that time doing something else - like playing Warcraft or watching 24.

Screw 'dat, yo. Time to get back to basics. I won't make any pledges, promises or oaths, but I'll just say I'm going to try to make more of an effort to write shorter, more frequent posts and see how it goes. I have vague memories of making a similar statement some months ago (and we all know how that turned out) and it's quite possible the same thing will happen again - I'll be gung ho for a few weeks and then slowly let up. But, for what it's worth, I'm aware of the trend and will do what I can to avoid succumbing to it. I know, I know. Your probably thinking, 'Self knowledge will avail you nothing', or some jazz like that. NOT true, mon frere. If nothing else, self knowledge will avail me a guilt trip which I can use to kick my ass in gear again. So there. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy the not new layout, download an MP3, peruse the archives, or leave nasty comments. I'll just be off to the side here... altering mah codez. Toodles.