Archive for January, 2005
Howdy ho, neighbors!
Hope your weekend went well. On Friday, I went to check out the new Neofuturists play, which was fun, and yesterday I nerded it up and played some D&D with some nice folks I met on Craigslist. Which was also fun. Very, very nerdy, but fun.
Today, tired from the rest of the weekend, I slept.
“Mama, please,” said Christina, folding her arms and trying to look dignified. Mama wouldn’t stop laughing. “Please, Mama…”
“Oh Christina, my darling, it’s so funny,” Mama said in Spanish, laughing and trying to cover her face. “I can’t wait until your father gets home. He’s going to be so proud. You’re such a smart girl.”
“Please, Mama,” Christina begged quietly. “They’re trying to take the picture.”
“Mrs. Ramos, could you move a little to the left please?” said the man with the camera. He and the man with the notepad were getting a little frustrated.
“A la izquierda, Mama. Por favor, Mama,” whispered Christina in Mama’s ear. Mama didn’t speak any English, and was smiling and laughing to herself, covering her face to try and keep it straight. She finally heard Christina and stepped to the left.
“Oh-Kay,” Mama told the men loudly. Only Christina noticed the funny look the two men passed between them, like Mama had said something strange. Christina’s face felt warm. She struggled to hold the dignified pose.
The camera clicked a few more times, and then the man with the camera stood up. The man with the notepad walked over to Christina and Mama. “I think we got it,” he said. “We should have it in by tomorrow. Congratulations again on your essay, Christina. I really enjoyed it,” and he shook her hand, one writer to another. Christina smiled slightly, but felt like she was filled with warm air, like she would float off the ground at any moment. She finally let go, and Mama swooped in and grabbed the man’s hand away, still ecstatic.
“Gracias, gracias, senor! Thank you sir, thank you,” said Mama in thick and fast Spanish as she pumped the man’s hand. “Good luck with your newspaper! Thank you for coming!”
“Right,” answered the man, flustered. “Nice to meet you. Have a nice day.” He backed off and then turned, got in the car with the photographer and was gone. Mama waved like a maniac as they backed out of the driveway. Christina wondered how the picture had come out, if the kids at school would make fun of her tomorrow.
“So amazing, Christina! You should have told me about this contest sooner!” Mama turned back to hug her as they walked back inside the house. “Those men were from the newspapers! I’m so proud of you, daughter! Wait until your father gets home!”
“Si, mama,” Christina sighed, holding her arms at her sides while Mama hugged her shoulders.
“You’re such a good girl, Christina! I love you so much!” said Mama, almost in tears of happiness as she kissed Christina’s head.
“I love you, too,” answered Christina. “Te quiero tambien, Mama.”
I wrote the first two of these.
I know the Oscars are a ways away, but the truth is, I don’t really care much about them this year. There are too many snubs, and too many examples that, surprise surprise, it’s all about politics instead of who made the best movies. Also, I couldn’t really think of something good to write today. So we’ll just get this over with now. You can find all the nominees heeeyah.
Don Cheadle – HOTEL RWANDA
Johnny Depp – FINDING NEVERLAND
Leonardo DiCaprio – THE AVIATOR
Clint Eastwood – MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Jamie Foxx – RAY
Who Should Win: PAUL GIAMATTI. What’s wrong with these Oscar people? If I actually watched awards shows anymore, I’d take my business to the People’s Choice Awards!
Who Will Win: People like that Johnny Depp, but Jamie Foxx has more ads in Variety. If I was a gay gossip columnist, I would say something like “Over-RAY-ted!”
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Alda – THE AVIATOR
Thomas Haden Church – SIDEWAYS
Jamie Foxx – COLLATERAL
Morgan Freeman – MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clive Owen – CLOSER
Who Should Win: You know Morgan Freeman has never won an Oscar? Because I didn’t. Huh. Interesting.
Who Will Win: I’m thinking Clive Owen has a nice chance, but here’s how I’m suspecting it goes: “Wait a minute, guys– Jamie Foxx is nominated for this, too? Remember a few years ago, when the black people won everything? Remember how much press we got? Well, what if– and hear me out here– what if we gave them to the same person?!?”
Annette Bening – BEING JULIA
Catalina Sandino Moreno – MARIA FULL OF GRACE
Imelda Staunton – VERA DRAKE
Hilary Swank – MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Kate Winslet – ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Who Should Win: Kate Winslet was excellent. I don’t really like her, but she is a great actress.
Who Will Win: For some reason I’m thinking that if Annette Bening doesn’t win, she’ll like get out a pistol, and her and Warren (who’s looking really, really old these days, by the way) will go all Bonnie and Clyde on the whole theater.
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett – THE AVIATOR
Laura Linney – KINSEY
Virginia Madsen – SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo – HOTEL RWANDA
Natalie Portman – CLOSER
Who Should Win: I like Cate Blanchett, because she was in Lord of the Rings and a Wes Anderson movie, but I’ve liked Laura Linney longer.
Who Will Win: Virginia Madsen is the favorite, which means Sideways might actually win something. Does anyone else think Natalie Portman is extremely annoying? I didn’t even like her in Garden State– when she smiles, she shows way too much gum. It’s true. Search your heart, Luke, you know it to be true.
Animated Feature Film
Who Should Win: The Incredibles is the only one of these that should ever have been made.
Who Will Win: I don’t think I can even contemplate living in a world where Shrek 2 or, my God, SHARK TALE wins an Oscar over a Pixar movie. Man, what a slap in the face to Polar Express. Nice try, Zemeckis. Thanks, Hanks, but we’re actually going to pick a knockoff animated feature starring The Fresh Prince as a fish over your heartfelt, technologically groundbreaking adaptation of a classic children’s book.
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Who Should Win: I’m going on record to say that Michel Gondry got the biggest snub this year, because in twenty years, no one will be watching Ray, but film students will still be watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Also, no chance that Alexander Payne is ever getting an Oscar. He’s actually talented.
Who Will Win: If he doesn’t win best actor, Eastwood might get a pity statue. More likely, Scorsese will use his eyebrow power to hypnotize Oscar voters, and use his speech to say strange yet vague things about how great Marlon Brando was.
BORN INTO BROTHELS
THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL
SUPER SIZE ME
TWIST OF FAITH
Who Should Win: Michael Moore didn’t even bother making his movie eligible, probably because he just didn’t care what the Academy thought. If only the makers of Shark Tale had come to the same conclusion.
Who Will Win: Super Size Me was good, but “The Story of the Weeping Camel” sounds much more like an Academy Award Winning Documentary.
Best Foreign Language Film
AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
THE SEA INSIDE
Who Should Win: Err, I haven’t actually seen any of these. Did the Cowboy Bebop movie come out this year? Where’s Hero? Where’s House of Falling Daggers? And where’s Shaolin Soccer??!?
Who Will Win: Yeah. I have no idea. The one with “Heaven” in the title sounds good.
“Accidentally In Love” – SHREK 2
“Al Otro Lado Del Río” – THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
“Believe” – THE POLAR EXPRESS
“Learn To Be Lonely” – THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
“Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)” – THE CHORUS
Who Should Win: Iron and Wine, “Such Great Heights” – GARDEN STATE
Who Will Win: And I thought things were bad when Phil Collins was winning Oscars. Who’ll win? Who cares!
Best Screenplay (Adapted)
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
Who Should Win: I wonder if Alexander Payne is even going to the ceremony. It would be funny if he and Paul Giamatti hung out at home, watched it, drank wine and laughed their drunk asses off.
Who Will Win: I think this is Million Dollar Baby’s Oscar. Probably the only one, unfortunately.
Best Screenplay (Original)
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Who Should Win: Man it would rock if Brad Bird got to go up and accept an Oscar for writing a comic book movie. Not likely, but rockage would occur.
Who Will Win: This is like the weird category. All the really weird but good movies get to win this one, so Eternal Sunshine might have a chance. Might.
Best Visual Effects
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
Who Should Win: This is the other category I like, where the Academy kind of hands out a freebie to fanboys everywhere. Spider-man 2 was insane-o cool…
Who Will Win: … and probably has the biggest advertising budget, too. Plus, it would be really lame if I, Robot won an Oscar. Really lame.
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Who Should Win: I could be wrong. Maybe people will realize that Sideways got completely snubbed, that the Oscars have gotten way too political, and that awards shows should be more about choosing well-made movies than creating hubbub or putting ads in Variety or upping box office sales. Maybe Sideways really will win, and Alexander Payne will take the stage and give a stirring speech about the power of filmmaking, triggering a new era of cinema, one where the best movies come from emotion and intelligence, instead of hyperbole and ego and insincerity. Maybe everyone in the theatre will stand and applaud, and film students and audiences for years to come will be more interested in making and watching really well made films than overhyped, big budgeted crap.
Who Will Win: But probably not. The Aviator, or, God help us, Ray.
My clothes have always been on the floor.
Since I was a kid, I’ve just left them on the floor, in no order at all. Just like every mother, I’m sure, my mom yelled at me to pick my clothes up off of the floor when I was a kid, but she did it to me in junior high school. And in high school, she just gave up. All throughout college, I left my clothes in roommates’ way. Even now, when I pretty much have my apartment to myself, when laundry time comes around I find myself jumping and tiptoeing through my room, trying to find a safe path between mountains of clothing that need to be washed.
I’m not generally dirty. Sure, I’ll procrastinate when necessary, and I will let dishes pile up for at least a little while. But nothing criminal– I’ll always get the dishes away before they start to smell. At least from all the way across the room. And my clothes aren’t actually that smelly, they’re just everywhere. I don’t get them too dirty, I just leave them all over the place. Eventually, I get tired of it, I do laundry, I wear a pair of jeans, and when I throw it on the floor, the cycle begins again.
Here’s the problem, I think: I don’t have anywhere to go with them. I’m not sure I totally understand how the clothes cycle works. I bring them up from the laundry room, put them on hangers. Then, when it comes time to dress, I pull them out, and put them on. Later, I take them off, and… and this is where I get stuck. They’re not dirty enough to throw back in the hamper, but they’re worn, so I can’t put them back on the hangers. And on the floor they go, making me do cartwheels and balance bars trying to step over them daily.
So I’m asking you, dear reader, for your help. It occurs to me that this is not the normal way of things. Everyone has to wear clothes, and everyone deals with the dirty ones, specifically keeping them seperate from the clean ones. How exactly do you do this?
The clothes hamper has occured to me. For a while at college, I set up a basket in the closet in which to keep my dirty clothes, which was quickly overrun and caused clothes to find their ways to all corners of my closet floor, a pain when I had to crawl back in there and fish out my favorite T-shirt (it’s the one with a prison number on the back). So I can see the hamper as the obvious solution, except it hasn’t worked for me. If everyone else in the world is using hampers, I’ll go with the flow and suffer, but there has to be a better solution.
And I’m hoping you have it. If you have a system that works for you, email me and let me know about it. I’ve got to reclaim my floorspace from mounds of used wardrobe.
What up dudes! Radical!
If you’re in Chicago tonight, you should go to this. I’ll be there– if you don’t know what I look like, just walk around asking everyone if they run “this amazing website called mikeschramm.com.” You’ll find me eventually.
It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for…
I’ve been meaning to make these for a while, ever since finding a terrific burrito place here in Chicago (don’t remember the name, but it’s at Clybourne and Sheffield if you’re in the area– man those things are good). There are, of course, all kinds of burritos you can make. I decided on beef and bean, and found a recipe here.
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried whole oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce, divided
6 flour tortillas, 8-inch size
Optional garnishes: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, sliced ripe olives, shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
Actually, I got to the supermarket, shopped a little bit, and then decided I wanted a steak burrito instead of just a beef burrito, so I picked up a few strips of pepper steak instead. Also, instead of a can or jar of enchilada sauce, I found a bag of enchiliada seasoning that I was supposed to mix with tomato paste, and figured I would use that instead. Probably a mistake, though– should probably go with premade enchilada sauce.
Back at home, I put the steak (beef, if that’s what you’re using) in the skillet and browned it up with the garlic and the onion. Add the seasonings and let simmer for a while (I already expounded a few weeks ago on my love of the smell of sizzling meats), and then add the refried beans and enchilada sauce.
Now, for my sauce, like I said, I bought this little bag of enchilada seasoning. You probably shouldn’t do this, because it didn’t really work. I poured the seasoning into a mixing bowl, and then spooned tomato paste in there, which made lumps of tomato paste in dry seasoning. Then, the packaging said to add 3 cups of water, and I did so, but instead of enchilada sauce, I made some kind of soupy stuff that had chunks floating in it. Not appetizing. Once I stirred it up a little bit and let it simmer with the meat and the beans, it worked ok, but in the future, I’m just going to stick with premade enchilada sauce.
Let it all simmer together for a while, and you end up with a great mix of beans, spices, and beef. Then comes the real fun.
One of the reasons I wanted to make these is because, watching these guys at the burrito place, I finally figured out how to fold a burrito. It’s like freaking origami– whenever I’ve made tacos or anything else that involves folding, everything eventually falls apart on me, but finally I’ve learned how to make an indestructable burrito.
1) Put filling in the center of the tortilla. At this point, you should add garnishes– lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, a little salsa, or a lot of cheddar cheese. Some other time, I’m going to follow Chipotle’s example and start adding some rice and black beans to my steak burritos.
2) Fold the bottom third of the tortilla up over the filling, like a lopsided taco.
3) Then, fold either side up to the center: fold the right side up to the center, and then the left.
4) Finally, just roll the bottom of the burrito away from you over to the top. Voila! Indestructable burrito.
I know, that description wasn’t all that clear. Luckily for you, Ortega made this fun gif that should show you everything you need to know.
The recipe says to spoon more enchilada sauce over the burritos after they’re made, but I couldn’t be bothered. I folded up and chowed down.
I Require Sustenance runs every Wednesday on mikeschramm.com.
Guess what? No, really, guess.
No, but I did try that once.
No! Man that’s sick!
Wow, you’re a terrible guesser. I’ll tell you out of pity. I made a big, very neat, very important purchase today, one that will affect the way this site, and by extension, my life, looks and runs. If I was really shallow, I’d say it made me, like, 300% cooler, but I’m not that shallow, so I’ll say… oh, 175% cooler. I won’t tell you what it is yet, because I don’t actually have it, but when it shows up on my doorstep, you’ll know. Oh, you’ll know.
Anyway, that all has nothing to do with today’s dose of Schramm. I was shelving some magazines at work today, and I noticed that American Girl Magazine (I don’t usually read it, I was just shelving it. Seriously.) had a funny, and at the same time, very sick article in it. So here are some lists inspired by said article.
True Blue (best, most loyal)
The Giggling Girl (laughs at your jokes)
Casual Friend (has a same interest, like roller skating or soccer)
The Go-To Girl (always has great advice)
Faraway Friend (pen pal)
Delightfully Different (the kooky one)
Furry Friend (despite what you thought, it’s some kind of pet “or stuffed animal”)
A Few More Friends They Don’t Mention
Backstabber (steals your boyfriend)
The Ugly One (makes you look good by association)
The Mute (lets you talk your head off)
The Not-Quite-A-Boyfriend (you like him, but you wouldn’t date him– he’s there for your ego)
The Boyfriend (jerk who looks good)
The Slut (at least you’re not as bad as she is)
The Non Friend (you were friends until you heard she said something bad about you)
Wayback Friend (you used to be friends in third grade, but now you’ve forgotten her last name)
And, Just So I Can Stay Secure In My Masculinity, A Few Friends Every Guy Already Has
This Dude You Know
This Dude You Know
This Dude You Know
This Dude You Know
This Dude You Know
This Dude You Know
This Dude You Know
This Dude You Know Who Has A Big Screen
This Dude You Know Who Hooks You Up With Weed
This Dude You Used To Know Until He Got Married Last Year
Hi yall. I have to admit, I almost didn’t get anything up here today. I had a pretty bad day yesterday (locked out of my apartment for a few hours, among other things), and, I have to say, wasn’t really thrilled about trying to come up with something for today. But you’re worth it, so I quit my whining, manned up, and delivered.
One of the things I did that was good yesterday was actually go to the movies. While at the movies, this guy from this company called e-works asked me if I’d like to give feedback about a movie trailer. Unlike the TV Preview that I went to once upon a time, this was actually legit– the guy was basically collecting feedback about studio produced trailers– what worked, what didn’t, what people were interested in, etc.
He showed me the trailer for Vin Diesel’s new movie The Pacifer, and asked me a bunch of questions about it. Being a bit of a Vin Diesel fan, I had plenty to say.
(shown a list of actors’ names) “I know who Vin Diesel, Michelle Tratchtenburg, and Kim Cattrall are. I don’t know Brad Garrett or Adam Shankman.” (I later recognized Brad Garrett as the guy from Everybody Loves Raymond)
(asked to describe the movie’s genre) “The movie looks like a comedy. Action-comedy. You know, like one of those Schwarzenegger family flicks.”
(name two liked parts and two disliked parts) “I didn’t like the parts with the baby. Also the bottle flipping thing. It was dumb.”
(when pressed for a part I liked) “The girl screaming was kind of funny. Also her jumping out of the car.”
(does the fact that Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the house) directed make you want to see the movie more or less?) “Distinctly less.”
(does the fact that Disney made the movie make you want to see it more or less?) “Distinctly less.”
(when shown a list of about 30 films and asked which ones I’d seen) “I’ve seen all of them. Except Freaky Friday and The Princess Diaries.” (*note: list included XXX, Boiler Room, Starsky and Hutch, Daddy Day Care and New York Minute. Embarassing.)
(is this type of role different for Vin Diesel?) “Yes.”
(different good or different bad?) “Umm… [pause]… different bad.”
And we’re back from the Bush Blackout. I want to give a special shout out to Jamie, who I suspect (due to her disappointed sounding email) spent the whole 24 hours without being able to enjoy my witty commentary crying into a pillow somewhere. She’s a trooper, though– I’m sure she, and you, pulled through just fine.
Oh, buddy. Oooooh, buddy. You asked for it now. You got it coming now, buddy.
You’ve been looking at me wrong since I walked in here. But talking to my girl is the last step. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back, pal. It’s the needle in the haystack!
Because as soon as I finish this beer, it is on.
That’s right, friend. It’s on. It is on. Currently it’s off, but when I drown this mix of barley, malt, and grain, I will take the switch and I will flip it from one side to the other, moving it from a position of “off” to one of “on.” That’s right, on. “It” will be “on.”
And trust me, you don’t want to be here when it’s on. No, you don’t. When it’s on, pain will radiate from all of my appendages. I will become a machine of revenge, a deliverer of devastation. “It” going “on,” is definitely something you don’t want, chief. When it’s on, you’ll be in trouble, and you better believe it.
What is “it”? Well, I guess that it could be many things. My anger towards you and your behaviors. My blinding rage against your actions. Or maybe it is something more physical, the movement of the air inbetween us from me pushing my fists to destructive effect in your direction. Or maybe “it” is something less personal. Maybe “it” is the feeling of peace quickly escaping from this room, from this relationship and life that we’ve built here together as humanity. But rest assured, pal, that “it” is going to be “on.” Also, when “it” does come on, rest assured something bad will happen. To you!
I knew you’d be trouble from the minute I walked in. That’s why I flicked you off earlier. I know my girl was looking at you the whole time, but trust me, she’s with me, and nobody messes with that. We just met earlier tonight at some club, and I know she might be a little drunk, but she already told me she loved me. Well, she said she loved my shirt. She said she liked the buttons. But it doesn’t matter, because she came with me, and by talking to her, you’ve made me do something I didn’t want to do: turn it on. It will be on.
Look at this, I’ve almost finished. There is no more than a few eights of an inch of watery beer between you and “it” going “on.” In fact, I’m still feeling a little peckish. Even now, my throat is asking for a little more beer, for a last swallow of alcohol to cleanse my dusty pallet. I think I might just down the rest of this–
Wait a minute.
Are those guys with you? All of them?
What are you guys, like a football team?
Weightlifting? Oh, yeah, I see it now. Right, in Athens. I saw that on TV. Right, with the gold medals and the weights. Those things looked kind of heavy.
Listen, guys, about this beer– I think I may just be done with it. I think maybe I’m full up for the evening. I know, I know I said I was thirsty, and there’s only a little bit left, but I think I might just be done for the night. I have to get up a little early, and I think it just might be about my bedtime. I think– whoo, look at the time, I think I might just pay my tab and head out.
What? My girl? Oh, well. She’s not really mine, actually, we just met a little while ago. Her name is Nancy. Or Stacy. She likes buttons, I think. But listen, I really do have to go, so..
What’s that? “It”? Ah. Well, I was kind of planning to turn it on, but I think I may not do that. No “it” tonight, I reckon. Nope, sorry. I think I may just let you guys off easy and leave “it” off. But thanks for everything guys. Have fun. Say bye to Stacy for me. Or Nancy.
I’m just going to, uh, I’m just going to head out now. Which way’s the door again?
I’m posting this now, so that there will be something in the archives, but this message was never on the front page. mikeschramm.com was voluntarily blacked out on January 20, 2005, to protest the actions and policies of the administration of George W. Bush.
This message appeared on the front page, in white text with a black background:
This website is participating in a one day blackout in protest of the inauguration of George W. Bush
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
April 16, 1953
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
It’s Wednesday, referred to in primitive cultures as “Hump Day.” And by primitive cultures, I mean the jocks and the cheerleaders.
What’s that? Just when you were least excited by it, it’s time for another I Require Sustenance!
Today’s recipe comes from a friend at work, who got it from another friend at work. It’s not particularly a work-related recipe, but it is something I don’t usually eat. Which is rice.
It’s not that I don’t like rice– it’s some kind of grain right? Not a vegetable? I’m not a big fan of vegetables, but I’m actually pretty fond of grains, so I figured rice was right up my alley, and I’d try making something new.
Now, I say that the recipe came from my friend at work, but I really only say that to be nice, because I completely murdered the recipe that I was given. I mean I didn’t use much of the things on it, and I threw in quite a few things that weren’t on it, just to make it to my liking. The items in parentheses are the ones that I didn’t use, and the items in italics are the ones that I threw in on my own:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups long grain rice
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
(2 cups chopped onions)
(1 cup finely chopped carrots)
4 cloves minced garlic
(2 cans (14.5 oz) whole tomatoes and juice, chopped)
1 can tomato sauce
(2 cans (4 oz) drained chopped green chiles)
(1/2 teaspoon cumin)
1 tablespoon chili seasoning
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
As you can see, this is a pretty complicated recipe. Probably the most complicated so far. Sure, the lasagna was tough, but it was pretty repetitive once you got the hang of it.
The main thing I added was the chicken. I think the copy of the recipe that she gave me was from some sort of vegetarian magazine or something, with all those carrots and chiles and junk. I decided this stuff needed meat, so I cut up a couple chicken breasts, and sauteed them with the oil in a big skillet before I started cooking anything.
I had already added oil for the chicken, so I pushed the chicken to one side of the skillet and added the rice in. At this point, the recipe says to stir the rice until it browns, but it seems to me that you have to boil or steam rice or something first. I’m not a rice expert, but all my stirring did was make dry rice fall out of the skillet everywhere. I think you might be able to skip this step.
Next up is adding the onions and carrots. You’re supposed to let them sit in the rice until they soften, so you can do that if you have them. I didn’t, so I didn’t.
After the veggies are in and cooked, mix in the garlic, and then add tomatoes, chiles, cumin, chicken broth, salt and pepper. I’m not a big fan of chunky tomatoes, so I just put in a can of tomato sauce, and I didn’t have any cumin, so I just used an old packet of chili powder that I had sitting around. It probably works better with cumin, but the chili powder worked fine, too. I’ll have to try with cumin next time.
After you’ve added in the flavor and the sauce, you’re going to get a big skillet full of liquid and a bunch of rice on the bottom. It’s kind of like Hamburger Helper, if you remember that stuff at all. Man, I loved Hamburger Helper. My dad was never the best cook, but he could make a mean Hamburger Helper, and that stuff was totally my dinner so many times during elementary school. Memories, man. Memories.
But I digress. Bring the liquid up to a boil, stir it all around a bit, and then lower the heat and cover. Let it all simmer for 20-25 minutes, and the rice will absorb all the liquid and become all tender and flavory. Great stuff. You lift off the lid, and the simmering scents from the rice flow out and fill your kitchen. Eat. Enjoy.
I Require Sustenance runs every Wednesday on mikeschramm.com. Want to suggest a recipe or be a guest chef next week? I didn’t think so. No one has. I’m not whining or anything, I’m just stating a fact. What was that face for? Look, if it wasn’t true I wouldn’t say it, okay? Fine. Let’s just forget about it. What? No, I don’t care what you watch. Just leave me alone, OK? It’s always something with you.
So last week, Rob over at Bighappyfunhouse.com started a short story contest called Tales From the Funhouse. He ran an old found photo, and asked everybody to come up with a story to go with the photo.
I didn’t think of a story right away, but I have been meaning to write a sestina, so I did. It didn’t win, but I’ve decided to share it with you here. It should maybe be noted, in case you should read this and wonder, that this is in no way autobiographical. Also, the word wrap messes things up a little bit, but you’ll get over it (copy and paste somewhere with a more lenient wordwrap if you must). Enjoy.
In a drawer in my old room, I found a photograph
of my father. He is standing in front of a shed, a man
with a skeptical face and an army uniform, his shadow
angling from his feet. In his hand, he grips a tabby cat,
which you can see just barely reflected in the shed’s window
behind him. It’s 1944, the year my father was sent to war.
It was not a good time for him, the second World War.
Not that it was a good time for anyone. There’s not a photograph
around that shows a happy face: the lowest of times for man
and his kind, when a dark and disturbing shadow
crept across the continents like a prowling cat
stalking its blurred reflection in a tinted window.
I’ve always seen my father that way, too, as through a dark window,
the brush of disheveled hair and those guarded eyes, at war
with himself and the world. This is the only photograph
I have left of him, but any others would look the same, my old man
in his wrinkled army uniform, half covered with shadow,
with all the mysteriousness and superiority of the modern house cat.
In the picture, one-handed and uncomfortably, he holds that cat,
and I’m reminded of my mother. I’d see them through the kitchen window,
each fighting on various fronts, his hours and job, her dinner and dishes, a war
between my own kin, never fatal but always fighting. Photograph
the both of them, and you’d see a marriage, but I saw a woman and a man,
each dealing with their own darknesses, each with their own shadow.
I’ll name them, if you want, though it hardly matters. My father’s shadow
was the bottle. My mother’s was her love for him. Yes, though loyal as a cat,
(not very) she loved him as I did. There were times when he seemed free of it, windows
and doors inbetween walls of turmoil and depression, when the war
broke and we found that we could be family, that we were family. A photograph
of that would show you only a little of what I remember, what my father was, what kind of man.
I don’t mean to say there weren’t problems, but the greatest blessing my old man
gave us is that despite his drinking, his failures, despite his shadows,
we were happy. I see him standing there, in the photo with that cat,
and I search for how much it hurt him. I look for a window
into how much he sacrificed for us, how much he suffered to hide his own war
to try and give us peace. That’s what I look for in my photograph.
And yet all I have left is a photograph of a man and memories drowned in shadow.
And I can just barely see, with cat eyes through a window, a glimpse of the war he fought for us.
Poor Jennifer Garner. She has all kinds of promise going for her. You can totally see her as that slightly goofy band girl in high school who dreams of one day being an actress, and she’s made it. She was in Dude, Where’s my Car, she got to play Elektra, and plus, you know, she’s willing to wear all kinds of revealing clothing on a geeky action show. That has to count for something.
But now I’m starting to worry for her. First she joined up with Affleck to create Bennifer II: The Return, and then she did 13 Going on 30, which was lame going on crap. Her spinoff flick Elektra released this past weekend, but to less than stellar reviews. And now, on her iTunes celebrity playlist… well, let’s just say she doesn’t quite come off as a skilled wordsmith.
And then, out of nowhere, she emails me some book reviews.
“This is his first book! And it’s so good!! I think being a soldier must be really tough.”
The Sound and The Fury:
“This one was kind of sad, but it’s really good! Poor Compsons!!”
As I Lay Dying:
“This is one of my favorites so I just had to include it!! Great book!”
Light In August:
“Faulker is such a terrific author. I felt like it really was August!! Good book!”
“This is totally Faulkner’s masterpiece. It really gets me going! And the video is awesome!!”
“After reading this, I’m ready to get moving!! This is the final novel of the Snopes trilogy, and harshly documents the downfall of this unconquerable post-bellum family! So awesome!!!”
Requiem for a Nun:
“I went to an audition to play a nun once. I didn’t get the part!! This novel is terrific. Faulkner is so talented!!”
Boy, do I have some fun planned for you this weekend. Almost ten years ago (we were 16 at the time), a friend and I were sitting around, and decided that a) not only were there any interesting card games to play, but that b) we were smart kids, and we could come up with our own. An hour later, we had a new, never before seen card game. We called it “Bombs.”
I don’t know that we ever actually played it more than once or twice. A few times we remembered making it, but couldn’t seem to remember exactly how the rules worked. My friend (Curt Keller is his name) had written them down, but we never had them available when we wanted to play. After a while, I gave up trying to remember what we’d invented, and figured the rules had been lost into the void.
Until now. Last weekend, my friend found them hidden in his parents’ house, and today I recieved them in the mail. And now, dear readers, I present them to you, under a Creative Commons license, so that people may play and enjoy the game we created for generations to come.
By Curt Keller and Mike Schramm (August 22, 1996)
For 2 to 4 players
-Deal six cards to each player
-Put the origin deck in the middle of the table facing down
-Flip one card over face up to form a discard pile
-To obtain two sets of three of a kind
EXAMPLE: 3 Kings and 3 Fours
1) Player must take one card from the origin deck or discard pile
2) Player must take put one card, the same one or different in the discard pile
-If the origin deck empties, the discard pile should be reshuffled, and the two decks set up again
-Play continues until any player reaches the objective
-If the card picked up is a Jack, it is a “bomb,” and the player must keep it and discard a card from a previously made set (of 2, 3, or 4 cards as stated in the objective).
-Any “used” Jacks and/or Jacks starting in a player’s hand are “diffused” (meaning they do not take on the bomb function), and cannot be used, but can be collected as a set.
-If a card picked up is a Three, it is a “hand grenade,” and can be used in the following way:
-Player lays it in the discard pile and specifies another player. The specified player must then pick up the “hand grenade” and lay down a card from a previously made set (of 2, 3, or 4 as stated in the objective of the game).
-Any “used” Threes cannot be used again, but can be collected to form a set.
Note: We used Jacks and Threes as the “bombs,” but any card can be chosen as the “bomb” and another for the “hand grenades.”
Note 2: Sound effects are not required, but make the game much more fun. Trash talking is not only allowed, but recommended.
Have fun! “Bombs” away!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
mikeschramm.com is cc 2004-2006 Mike Schramm.