"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." -Martin Luther

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Rogue One Existential Trailer Review

Regarding this new trailer for Rogue One,

I'm a bit sad that there are zero scenes of anyone doing anything in space, except for things floating around the Death Star. For Star Wars there's a dramatic lack of wars among the stars. I get the impression script-writers don't trust themselves to create drama when everyone is isolated in the cockpit of a different starfighter, not able to see each other, struggling to communicate and work together effectively.

Now that I think about it that's weird because that seems like a great allegory for the human experience.

Instead, put everyone on the ground, with space-machine guns. But we still don't know how to to have characters actually interact, so we have them express general angst against the world by doing lots of violence to the people we probably ought to believe are real people, but can't because of how they're wearing masks and getting in the way of our goals.

Finally the giant industrial monsters the faceless humans created loom above us, picking off nameless supporting characters who we never actually got to know, because of that problem of not being able to communicate or see people. So we don't really care about them, but there's still some good futility communicated by the camera angle.

I'm just beginning to wonder what the point of it all is when I'm interrupted: The point is to look really cool in athletic evil ninja armor, because after all you're a stereotypical stereotype-breaking strong woman, which means you are helpless to do anything but act like you don't care what people think about you, feel a deep sense of sadness that you can't actually know anyone, and pursue a cause for which you don't care, and for which you have no justification to care.

Of course you want to hit the masked people who got you into this mess.

At least you are being honest about yourself: wearing your angst and your concerns about your moral status on your sleeve. Still, you make sure you look perfect too, so no one can relate to you, stuck inside your cockpit, behind your mask, desperately wishing you could relate to another human being and not risk being rejected.

But are any of them actually human, if we can't see behind their masks? And if none of them are human, who is going to look behind your mask, and remind you that you are?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas


Kindness and generosity without measure or desert continues to pile onto me. I am grateful, but compared to the magnitude of the gifts and the love it's like I don't even notice them. I am the richest man in the word, and in he moments when I am sane I am the happiest. But I continue to sin. I commit adultery in my heart. I murder in my heart. I worry so much. I judge. I doubt. I fail to love. I think of myself. Truly I am the worst sinner this world has ever seen. I despise myself and long to be made new. What hope of that? Christ has come in the flesh. He is committed. No half-hearted effort here. He has entered my world. He is taking it by storm.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning, why must you of all come for us? Why the best, most perfect son?

His coming was a sign, for God had taken the likeness and ways of man, but especially his weakness. Later he would take on the tongues of men. He came with prophetic powers, seeing into the hearts of men. No mystery seemed beyond him, and though many challenged his knowledge they could doubt neither his authority nor his wisdom, for he abided in his Father.

He had all faith, and all he asked of the father was granted.

From the beginning he gave away all he had, becoming a human child, not counting equality with God a thing to be grasped.

Then at 30 he gave away all he had again to begin his ministry.

Then at 33 he gave away his right to protect his own life, to run from evil, to summon down legions of angels to his defense.

He delivered up his body to be burned.

But if he had not love, he gained nothing.

But he is patient. 25 years with me. 33 on Earth. 3 with his disciples. 2000 with his church.

He is kind. He does not envy or boast. He is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on his own way. He is not irritable or resentful. He does not rejoice with wrongdoing, but He rejoices in the truth. He bears all things, O God He bears all things from me. He believes all things; O God He believes all things for me. He hopes all things for me. He endured all things for me. He endures all things from me.

His love never ends.

Now I see him in a mirror dimly. Then I will see him face to face.

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

God is love. Faith, hope, and love abide. God has come to Earth. The invasion has begun, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Turn away from your sins and believe in the one God has sent. He will forgive you and heal you and bring you into His Kingdom. All the Earth is His.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Weekend Cooking Creations

Dear Readers,

I had fun cooking this weekend. I took pictures. I share here the recipes I sort-of followed to make the contents of the pictures.

Saturday it was time to deal with the two packages of mushrooms I bought for $0.69 a piece at Aldi. I hit the 'net and found this recipe:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/red-wine-and-wild-mushroom-sauce-recipe.html
and then replaced all the ingredients with the low-brow versions I have on hand/care to afford. Sadly, my outlay for expensive shallots backfired -- one of the two in the bag had gone bad :(
Thankfully I had Penzey's shallot pepper spice mix!
Hurray! Gosh I added a lot of salt -- these were strong. Notice I clearly have ignored the recipe's instruction to add cream and chives. I didn't have them. Later I added a little Greek yogurt, and it did pretty well. These went well with some Aldi chicken cordon bleu.

Now, as I was chopping the mushrooms, I discovered

  1. I had too many mushrooms for my skillet*
  2. Some of my mushrooms were large.
So I looked up a stuffed mushroom recipe.
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/11/french-onion-soup-stuffed-mushrooms/
and went to town. I substituted Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, which made for a very thick topping that wanted to peel off since I put my mushrooms too close together. But it tasted very good. Also, I was checking the over every minute while broiling, and the black spots on top, which I took to be a sign of perfection, showed up from one minute to the next -- broiling is a tricky endeavor!
(I can't wait to be able to post a picture of some glorious dish going up in flames.
"Get the fire extinguisher!"
"Hold on a sec, I've gotta take a picture -- this will make a great blog post!")


Incidentally, the stuffed mushrooms reheated in the over quite nicely.

Sunday afternoon I made Spanish Rice and forgot to take a picture. Pioneer Woman took one for me though:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/11/good-ol-basic-mexican-rice/
I kept the 10 oz can of Ro-Tel tomatoes but chopped up a big tomato from my garden instead of the 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes (Ignore the cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. Especially if you are a squirrel. Nothing to see here!)

I also made Charro beans, using this "Spicy Beans" recipe from PWC:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/08/spicy-beans/
I had soaked 2 lbs of dry pintos during church Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon I cooked them (in my wok, no less) while making the Spanish Rice. Instead of using one of the various salty ham products you will see called for in recipes, I pulled a ham bone out of the freezer. After the beans had cooked for a long time I pulled a bunch of the meat off the bone and discarded the bone itself. I'm told adding more salt may be necessary to make up for not using bacon or salt pork, but I was quite pleased with the result.
It took a long time to make those beans. They weren't very flavor-hot -- I used pickled jalapenos from a jar instead of fresh.
I had thawed some ground turkey burger, and cooked it with a combination of the spices from these two recipes:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/mr-johns-meat-stuffed-bell-peppers-recipe.html
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/beef-and-rice-stuffed-bell-peppers/ **
Instead of the called for rice and 2 tablespoons tomato sauce I used some of my Spanish rice! I added some chopped-up garden cherry tomatoes for extra flavor and moisture. I left out the cheese. I had some huge bell peppers, which I cut in half instead of stuffing through the top. I didn't parboil my peppers and only baked them for about 30 minutes, which resulted in some pretty firm, crisp peppers at the end. I could have used some more heat and savory in them.
*Originally I wrote just "Too many mushrooms" and then I felt bad, because is that really possible?
**I know it's not helpful to cannibalise recipes like this and that if I'm going to share I ought to write out exactly what I did, but maybe that's the point: I was doing art here, not science. Following my recipe would definitely not give you the same experience I had, even if it gave you the same dish. To borrow a line from a J. Michael Straczynski interview I listened to recently, you would be like someone at a dance school dancing correctly while counting "one, two, three, one, two, three" in your head and working really hard, compared to the other person who is just dancing. There's a whole blog post I need to write about this topic of creativity and order in cooking, but suffice it to say that I feel mildly apologetic about it. But I have pictures so that should make you feel better.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Broccoli-Macaroni Salad

I couldn't decide whether to make broccoli or macaroni salad.

So I made both together!

Only the boldtalicized stuff is actually important.

Ingredients:

16 oz (uncooked) elbow macaroni
1 lb broccoli (3 heads)
8 strips bacon 1 can black olives
1 bell pepper (i used green because they're cheaper)
1/4 cup white onion (I would have used red if I'd had it)
3 green onions
~1 cup mayonnaise
~1/2 cup sugar
~1 Tbl vinegar
~1 Tbl black pepper
1/4 cup sweet pickle juice
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1/4 cup milk

Pre-notes:

You can probably do some of the veggie-dicing and dressing-mixing while you are frying the bacon.

I didn't measure anything. I put in more mayo than I planned because I wanted to finish off the jar I was using. And I just opened jars of pickles I had and splashed some in. In fact, I threw in a few Tbl of relish instead of sweet pickle juice. My hand may have slipped a little while I was pouring sugar from a 2 lb bag. I have no regrets.

I recommend making this salad Sunday morning with D.C. Talk blaring on your new sub-notebook computer, and eating all the extra bacon you cook as soon as you're done. Also, fry eggs in the bacon drippings. Wake up your housemate and share with him. Then take this salad to the Johnson's game afternoon. Eat as many of Mark's Juicy Lucy's as possible. Don't play too many attack cards on your girlfriend -- two can play that game.

Eat the leftovers at work for lunch.

Directions:

Cook macaroni according to box directions, allow to cool.
(You can add a little olive oil or bacon drippings to the drained macaroni to keep it from sticking to itself, or toss it occasionally)

Rinse, chop, and trim broccoli into bite-size pieces.
(I cut the stem off just below the flowery part, trim the leaves and edges off the stem with a paring knife, and then cube it. Then I take the head and either peel branches off or cut into the "trunk" from the bottom and peel it apart that way. Then I repeat the stem cutting, trimming, and cubing process for each smaller piece).

Fry bacon. Let it cool. Crumble.
(I used a little of the bacon drippings in the dressing. If you take my advice, you'll cook a whole pound of bacon. Don't pay much attention while you cook it. Use the 8 most burnt slices for the salad. Have the others for breakfast.)

Drain and dice the olives.
(Cutting 1 or a few olives at a time into 2 or 3 parts keeps them from rolling. Then you can do your best master-chef dicing impression with your knife to rapidly dice them into itsy bitsy pieces).

Wash and dice the bell pepper.
(I slice around the core and then pull it out, bump it upside down a few times to get out stray seeds, cut it in quarters, pull off the white filmy parts with seeds, cut the remaining stuff into strips, line up strips, and slice them into small rectangles.)

Dice the white onion.
(I used about half of a small onion and threw the rest in a ziplock bag for later. I cut off both ends, make a slice into a side and peel off the outer layers from there, then cut the onion into circles about the height I want, then half the circles and chop around them)

Wash and chop the green onions.

Stir/whisk together dressing ingredients: mayo, sugar, vinegar, pepper, pickle juice(*2), milk.

Combine everything, pouring the dressing over the top and mixing it up with a big spoon.


Refrigerate for several hours before serving.


Stir before serving to make sure dressing doesn't pool in the bottom.

I used these two recipes as a template for the type of ingredients, ratios, and order of combining:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2012/06/the-best-macaroni-salad-ever/

http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/broccoli-pasta-salad/

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tasseomology