Archive for February, 2009

Tea Musing: “My Fat Tea Tuesday”

While most people spent Mardi Gras in various states of undress, doused in alcohol, in between bouts of beggary for beads…I spent mine…well…

Hunting for tea and cupcakes.

In a trenchcoat.

In the rain.

And it was awesome.

GO LOOKY!

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Thursday, February 26th, 2009 Steep Stories No Comments

Quick Thoughts on the Oscars

– Every time Penelope Cruz speaks, I’m reminded of Latka from Taxi.

– I don’t know what it is about Adrian Brody’s face, but every time I look at him, I want to hit him.

– Sophia Loren looked kinda like an Ent from Lord of the Rings…with a wig.

– Nicole Kidman was looking blissfully un-Botox-android-ish yesterday evening.

– Every independent film or documentary last years seemed to take place in India. It was like Hollywood was outsourcing.

– Wolverine didn’t do too bad as host. Still needed more claws, though.

– A.R. Rahman won Best Music and Song for Slumdog Millionaire. And, boy, did he deserve it. Let’s put this in perspective. Any Bollywood film you’ve ever watched that was worth its weight in tandoori chicken was written by him.

– Heath Ledger’s posthumous win – while nowhere near surprising – was kinda touching, especially when his family went up to accept on his behalf. (Plus, his sister’s kinda hot.)

– Jerry Lewis accepted the Humanitarian Award…and here I thought he was dead. Zombie, maybe? He did kinda shamble.

– I’m not a believer in a “Gay Agenda”, nor did I see Milk or The Wrestler, but I think Mickey Rourke got fucking robbed. Sean Penn has already won it. Mickey’s had a rough career, he deserved it more. However, I can’t help but think that California politics played a part in this decision.

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Monday, February 23rd, 2009 Musings No Comments

Honey Tea Perfection

Rarely…very rarely…one of my experiments in blending turns out absolutely perfect.

My attempt at a chrysanthemum-lotus-Silver-Needle white tea? Awful. My effort to blending dried fruit with herbals? Meh-ish. But occasionally, one can catch lightning in a bottle and marvel at its shininess.

Lately, I’ve been on a rooibos kick. Not red rooibos, don’t much care for it. Rather green rooibos and it’s cousin, honeybush. The former actually helped me with an embarrassing health issue. The latter, well, I hadn’t tried it yet. Both were good by themselves, but not intirely great. Both together, near great…but still missing something. Numi Tea gave me the idea.

Their Sweet African Red contained both honeybush and green rooibos. The underlying natural sweetness of the two was there, but it was subtle. Still wonderful, but what if said drinker wanted more?

That’s where stevia comes into play. Oh, stevia…how I love thee!

Try this at home. 1 tsp. of green rooibos, 1 tsp. of honeybush, and about a 1/2 tsp. of stevia leaf. Steep for five minutes in 16 oz. of boiling water…and presto!

You have the closest approximation to a honey tea (without actual honey used) I’ve found to date.

In my humble opinion anyway.

Sorry for going a little long on this…just thought I’d share.

I’m all giddy ‘n stuff.

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Saturday, February 21st, 2009 Musings No Comments

Weeks Gone By

Either the Horn of Heimdall is a-blowin’, the Four Horsemen are drawing nigh, or swine have taken flight…I know not. But this weekend-work-saddled lout had a fairly decent couple o’ weeks. And busy. Lord, has it been busy. My metabolism (and wallet) haven’t been keeping up so well. Writing an in-depth expose on ’em would take far more effort and time than I’m willing to muster. Plus, what fun would it be if it made any sense? So here’re a few tidbits and observations made from the last ten days or so.

Let’s begin.

(1) While getting gas, friends and I noticed the beginnings of what we thought was genetically impossible. A species cross-breed, if you will. Emo hair, girly pants, hoodie…all there. However, said aqua blue pants were sagged to about waist length, just enough to expose boxer shorts!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is something worse than a polar/grizzly cross, and it is in a neighborhood near you. Thou hath been warned(-eth?).

(2) Ground Kontrol in downtown Portland used to be one of the coolest places on Earth. An 80s-style arcade that served beer, what can top that? We also learned that Tuesday nights was Rock Band night. Think stage, two widescreen televisions, and a fog machine to boot. It’s like karaoke for your inner headbanger.

Four of us arrived to partake. We had our band name – Manwich – and we brought our rock faces. Well, as much as one can bring rock faces while bespectacled for a video game. One of us had the idea to use karaoke rules when signing up for songs. It seemed sensible enough; put all your cards on the table and let DJ Wannabe sort it out. About three songs in, and we were up. We absolutely killed at Nine Inch Nails’ “Hand that Feeds”, nary a silent geek in the house.

Our second song…

Oh wait, we didn’t get a fucking second song!

Dunno if they were just playing favorites or if we just came across as a bunch of heckling douches, but other “bands” went up an average of three times. Aside from filling in spots individually, collectively we only went up as Manwich…the one time. And we even tipped.

So, screw you, Ground Kontrol. You are not worthy of the awesome might that is Manwich!

Following that veritable “burn”, we decided to take our band-ing back to an apartment. On the way in, we noticed the most paradoxical pro-life bumper sticker. Ever.

It read:

If it isn’t a baby, then you aren’t pregnant.

Wait…what?

What were they describing, a tumor? Oversized parasite? Kuato from Total Recall?

I was at a loss, and halfway tempted to leave a turd on the hood of the car with a little sign that said: “Not a baby.”

(3) Ladies and gentlemen, I think I need help. My tea obsession has reached critical mass. I spent the better part of two days – two separate errands – hunting down new things to try. First on the list was a tea I’d read about on the review site I contribute to. It was called milk oolong. Apparently, there’s an oolong tea that is picked and cultivated at a certain time of year, from a certain altitude, at a certain temperature. The resulting liquor has a vaguely milky/creamy flavor to it.

I could’ve easily purchased the stuff online, but I’m the stubborn sort and decided to hunt it down locally first. The closest thing to a local version was the Milk-Scented Kinsen Oolong put out by Stash Tea. However, I wasn’t sure if it was the same stuff. Lucky for me, their homebase is literally a five-minute jaunt from where I live. Alas, the shopkeepers had no idea either. I was discouraged.

To make up for it, though, they let me participate in the tea tasting they were having, and let me walk away with a sample of the milk-scented stuff. Hopefully it’d live up.

Well, it didn’t. Aside from a mild hint of creaminess, it tasted like an ordinary oolong, which in turn tastes like a dirt-smoke version of a green tea. In my opinion, anyway.

Tea Quest # 2 was an herbal tea I’d read about (again on the review site) called Greek Mountain Shepherd’s Tea. On Mount Olympus, there is a type of shrub called Sideritis syriaca (or ironwort), and the locals have used it as a tea for hundreds of years. Preparing it called for steeping 15g of whole shrubs and boiling – not steeping – ’em for ten minutes. Not only was this something I hadn’t heard of, but it wasn’t prepared as other herbal teas were. Sounded like something I had to try.

Funny thing, though.

None of the Greeks I knew had heard of the stuff.

I did some calling around to Greek delis. Neither place had any deliveries. I went to the Tao of Tea store in S.E. Portland. They said they had a sample at one point, and would be getting more, but ran out. Blast!

Looks like online shopping time. *le sigh*

Tea Quest # 3 was hunting down a bamboo whisk. During the winter storm months, I developed a liking for matcha – in essence, a finely pulverized, powered green tea. Unlike other teas, where you simply steep the leaves, matcha uses the entire leave for consumption. The powder is like…well…green hot chocolate, only better for you. One simply pours hot water in and let’s the powder take.

I was missing an important tool for matcha preparation, that being the aforementioned bamboo whisk. It was required for mixing the powder into the water better, leading to a frothier brew. Before, I usually settled with a fork or straw to do my stirring. Not the same.

After perusing the H-Mart and Uwajimaya, I finally found one for $14. That shit ain’t cheap. Next was finding…well…matcha. Dumbshit “moi” forgot to pick some up while at the Tao of Tea store. Hurray for thinking ahead.

Happy ending, though, the matcha came out perfect.

Not that any of you coffee drinkers really care.

(4) I have this friend – see – we shall call her…Catalyst. Cat, for short. Both are quite fitting, I assure you.

Cat zapped off a group text wondering who’d want in on some Harvey’s Comedy Club action. As of yet, I had a few “tentative” plans, but nothing solid. Plus, I hadn’t seen her in months. Long overdue face-time was a must.

I got there surprisingly early, she and her ride arrived a few minutes later. We b.s.’d for a bit in the lounge before, then moseyed in for the main acts. Let’s just say, the comedy was “off” that night. The first guy looked like a cancer patient and seemed keenly aware that he was dying (not literally) on stage. The second guy wasn’t much better, a cracked-out Mexican who looked vaguely like Jack Black from Nacho Libre. Sounded like him, too. I was waiting for him to talk about his “stretchy-pants” at any moment. Alas, never came to pass.

The true entertainment wasn’t the acts, it was – as always – Catalyst. Picture if you will, a film noir femme fatale with the inner child of a Chucky doll. If you can somehow fathom that image, then you have some idea of the person I’m referring to. As friends go, always a good time.

Case in point:

Cat can clang shots of vodka without any problem. The softer stuff, though, hits her far quicker. White wine was the culprit this time. It hit her a little too hard, too fast. Wasn’t her fault, though. The blond wife of a friend of hers did the honors of smoothing out her buzzing head with a neck massage. Poor Cat never left that woman’s bosom for the rest of the night.

And occasionally looked at the wide-eyed husband to utter a purr-like, “Can I keep her?”

Conversations ranged from blow-up dolls, to “fish tacos with chicks”, to…well…I don’t quite recall. No, I was never drunk, I just seriously can’t fathom what else was discussed at the moment. She’s probably even reading this. And I’ll probably be shot. With a hamster.

At least I’ll die giggling.

(5) I’m just going to have to accept the fact that I can’t hold my liquor anymore. Not a damn thing. Beer, wine, and – heaven forbid – the harder stuff. I can’t seem to stand it anymore. Aside from only being able to drive on one beer only, I can’t seem to stand the taste of it anymore. Well, ‘cept for beer. Good beer, anyway.

Examples:

I was the fifth wheel for a friend’s double-date birthday party. We ended up at Huber’s, and we noticed that absinthe was on the list of drinks. That perked our interests a bit. Granted, it was probably watered down compared to its heartier Hungarian cousin, but at least it would offer some idea as to the taste. I’d been curious about it for years.

As I informed several people since, the stuff tasted like the minted, pale arse of a stripper named Licorice. It was foul to the tongue-touch. I barely made it through two sips before I passed it down the table…which was then quickly imbibed by our designated driver.

Smart.

A couple of days later, I had a friend over for movies and sammiches; a female friend. She brought the wine, I made the sammiches. For the record, I make a mean sammich. Can’t cook worth a damn, but I make a great pot o’ tea and my sammiches are nigh on unmatched. Okay, that’s probably speaking a bit too glibly, yet that’s what I’ve been told. Moving on…

She brought over a $40 bottle of Barbera – a highly-potent, highly-acidic Italian red wine. I’d never tried the stuff, but I had a good history with Italian reds; Sangiovese being my absolute favorite. Beyond that, I’m more of a beer guy, and as we’ve all learned…not a lot of beer.

The movie we agreed one was Bottle Shock, an indie flick about the Napa Valley wineries in the 70s. Seemed fitting enough. We made it through that one and thought it “meh”. I was two glasses in at this point. She suggested I choose a second flick, and I delved into my old movie box.

Shaun of the Dead.

Perfect!

We made it about halfway through before a piercing headache stabbed me through the temples, followed by instant bodily fatigue. She asked if I was getting tired, and I said “no”. Then I felt…”the gurgles.” You know “the gurgles”. That feeling that all is not well in the Land of Bowel.

At 12:30, with the movie incomplete, I said we had to call it a night and sent her on her way. Nothing happened. And off I went to put my head in the toilet. Two glasses, that’s all. Didn’t even get a buzz off the stuff…just instant pukey-face.

Whee!

Conclusion

I haven’t been this active in awhile. Aside from my awesome vacation down south, things’d been a wee bit stressful. It was kind of a nice change of pace from the work-sleep-pray-for-instant-death grind of yestermonths. Pitfalls and pratfalls et al. The weeks ahead promise cupcakes, a second Coraline viewing (best movie EVER!), a night of town-painting, and hopefully more tea questing to come.

On occasion, one just needs a reminder that regardless of the near-misses, embarrassments, and frivolous activities…life really isn’t all that bad. And the parts that are bad, well, they’re the stuff comedy is made of. Laugh and others laugh with you.

You thought this would be a Valentine’s Day entry, didn’t you?

Well, I may be a tea-drinkin’, lightweight, bespectacled, dough-y, geeky manchild…

But I still have brass ones.

Er…okay…maybe copper.

Zinc?

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Friday, February 13th, 2009 Musings 1 Comment

LOLkey

Perhaps I’m just too easily amused, or perhaps it’s way too early in the morning for me. Either way, this had to be shared.

My dinner this evening/morning was two sliced of white bread with mayo and ketchup. Not exactly the “breakinner” of champions, but when you’re short on time, you have to improvise. While I was in the middle of eating, I began to type in a URL on the back desk computer. The “L” key felt slimy. I looked down and saw mayo and splorted onto the “L” and “O” keys. I cursed and went about wiping up my globby mess.

When I looked up back at the computer screen, I noticed – in my attempts at cleaning – that the address window was:

“lkkooooooooooooooooooooooooooopppppppppppppppppolko”

And I started laughing.

It looked to me like a blind, toothless, drunk monkey had tried to type out “LOL”…but failed miserably.

Like I said, I’m probably just easily amused, tired, or ‘tarded.

 







 

Eh, you decide.

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Monday, February 2nd, 2009 Musings No Comments

I work for tea money.

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