Quest: The Best Homemade Mac & Cheese

August 29th, 2005

In my effort to increase my utility to the rest of human nature, I have decided to go in search of the recipe for the best homemade macaroni and cheese. I am enlisting the help of anyone and everyone to submit their variations on this crowd pleasing comfort food. I will post each recipe that is e-mailed to me in the forum and encourage you to post yours either as a comment to this post, in an e-mail to me, or in the forum.

If I come to find that one recipe I stumble upon is a bit off from perfect, though I am able to add the missing piece, credit will still be given. Sure, it will become Peterified Mac 'n Chee, but thanks will be given to any and all recipes used in creating the masterpiece, whether in parenthetical citations or footnotes. If no modifications are made, I will present to the world your recipe, your name emblazoned across the top. I always remember the little people!

This is not a quest that will start today and end tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Please be patient. It is not that I do not have the time, but I can only eat so much macaroni and cheese.

I hope to return to you with THE best homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. I thank you for your submissions and your patience.

Forum Link

Vacation Observation #3

August 28th, 2005

Apparently I am actually capable of sleeping like a normal person, just not when I am home. I slept well all week up north, but now back home I've had two nights when I couldn't fall asleep.

I guess it is better that I accept it and even embrace it. My next vacation will not be for a long time.

Vacation Observation #2

August 25th, 2005

If ever there was one who was good at this thing called "vacation", I think I am him. I feel there is an art to it; an art that I did not create, though I have made it my own.

I think I should like to do this full time, given the opportunity. Now all I need is said opportunity. Perhaps it is time that I began volunteering at senior centers. Maybe giving of my time will help me find my way. That way of course would be to get me a 90 year old girlfriend with a mountain of wealth to leave to no one but me, her trusty friend til the end. Oh how I'll miss her, truly I will love her so. I will think of her often as I sit on the porch, looking up from my book between chapters to take in the beauty of the vast expanse of water.

It has been good to cool my heels a little between semesters of school and projects at work. I definitely would like to do this at the close of each term. Who do I have to talk to about getting three weeks vacation around here?

Vacation Observation #1

August 24th, 2005

There is a fine line between getting away from your thoughts and being alone with them. Tread lightly.

August 21st, 2005

Don't rush through life, pause and enjoy it.

August 21st, 2005
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
- Mahatma Gandhi

Movie of the Month - September, 2005

August 20th, 2005

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen  Director Terry Gilliam ("Brazil") and an all-star cast, including John Neville, Eric Idle, Oliver Reed and Uma Thurman, deliver this tale of the enchanting adventures of Baron von Munchausen on his journey in a hot air balloon to search for his old comrades-at-arms.

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Book of the Month - September, 2005

August 20th, 2005

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonJoe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America -- the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells and unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.

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The Aristocrats

August 19th, 2005

A man walks into a talent agent's office to promote his family act. He describes for the agent what the act consists of and when asked what they call their act, the man says, "The Aristocrats!"

I know it doesn't look funny. It also has one of the weakest punch lines since the creation of humor, but that is not the point. The point is that for a story that lasts anywhere between 30 seconds and upwards of 15-20 minutes, it is not about the punch line.

That is a joke that has been passed through the close circles of stand up comedy for generations. Comedians tell this joke when they get together with other comedians. Every veteran comedian not only has heard it at some point in their career, but now even has their own adaptation which they tell frequently, though never on stage. They go on to say that stand up comedy is not about jokes, it is about telling funny occurrences. Jokes are for hack comedians. Few exceptions have been made, one of which was Gilbert Gottfried at the Hugh Hefner Roast.

Comedians Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette decided to make a documentary involving 100 of their friends; the biggest names in comedy. The idea was to have everyone talk about the aura surrounding this joke. Everyone knows it. Everyone has an opinion on it. Everyone has their own version. Some tell their version, some tell stories about the first time they've heard it. A few even offer variations on it.

It doesn't matter who was talking (or in one case, miming) this movie was hysterical. Oh, one small disclaimer is that you may not like the movie if you are in any way offended by jokes about incest, familial abuse, urination, defecation, vomiting, bestiality...well the list goes on. It is these things that are used as components of the "family act" in the joke. Aside from that, there is nothing offensive in this movie...

More shock value than in the joke itself comes in the delivery. The movie says it is the "singing, not the song." As the comedians are interviewed, some explain that the beauty of The Aristocrats is that you have complete creative license as joke teller to try and induce as much shock value as you can. It also tells a lot about who tells the joke as to how dirty their mind is.

Take actors you have seen on television for years. Now place them in front of a handheld camcorder and ask them to tell you the dirtiest joke ever told. I know I didn't expect to hear some things from certain people. In some cases you associate the actor with the character they play(ed) on TV; a character that would not tell a joke that involves a stage act of freaky circus sex between a man and garden variety barnyard animals.

A few specific moments stood out from the rest. As hinted above, The Aristocrats was told by many, but also performed by a mime. He was on the street at the time, his "telling" was perfect and my only have been rivaled by the looks on the faces of passers-by. Kevin Pollock probably did a better job of sounding like Christopher Walken than Christopher Walken would have when telling a version of the joke. And who could forget Bob Saget? He starts off admitting that he has a reputation in the industry as being a dirty comic, which you do not expect to hear from Danny Tanner. I will leave it at that.

ALL of the biggest names were present in this documentary. Robin Williams, George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Jeni, Richard Lewis, Gilbert Gottfried...well you get the idea. But if you are curious, the full cast listing is available here. I did think that there may be some hesitation on part of some of the comedians to participate in a publicizing of this unique staple to the laughter industry, but everyone seemed eager to participate. The Aristocrats brings people together. It was fascinating to see such big stars humbled by their own thoughts of something as simple as one joke. The sincerity with which they spoke about The Aristocrats was amazing.

For once I did not stick out nearly as much as usual in a theater for a funny movie. I have this bad habit of laughing out loud. Couple that with a decent set of lungs, I can get pretty obnoxious. I apologize to everyone who has ever been there for it and all of you whose experience(s) lie ahead. Last night was not so awkward, though. Everyone was laughing out loud. All inhibitions about being loud were left at the door. You could not help but belt out with laughter at this movie.

To somewhat of a surprise, no one (that I noticed) got up and left the theater. I am glad that no one was so deeply offended by the content that they had to leave, even though there is something to be said for a movie that can be so funny and so offensive at the same time that maybe at least one husband and wife complete with teenage daughter walk out (Team America - World Police). The theater in which I saw the movie was mostly filled with older viewers though, there were no children. And yes, The Aristocrats is more offensive than Team America. Much more.

I already have plans to see it in the theater a second time.

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Gas Prices.

August 17th, 2005

The price of gasoline is getting ridiculous. I know that in other countries gas costs much more than it does here, so we have little room for complaint in the grand scheme of things, but we are American. We don't care about the grand scheme, do we?

I filled up yesterday after work. $2.759 for regular gas. As it does every year, price of gas is expected to spike come Labor Day weekend. "Experts" (Who I am convinced requires no education) are predicting the price of gasoline in the state of Michigan to exceed $3 per gallon.

The repercussion(s) from the exorbitant pricing has been little more than complaints from motorists, or so I have observed. Until Monday night. Josh and I were walking to get some food after seeing Broken Flowers. I am either offended or flattered by the events that ensued on our walk. A young woman who had her back against a building approached us, nay approached Josh.

"Can you spare a few dollars?"
"How many is a 'few'?"
"Whatever you can spare."
"I have A dollar."
"Thank you."

So did she talk to Josh because he had on slacks and a nice button down? Were my cargo shorts not upscale enough for me to have spare dollars? Maybe he has "SUCKER" written across his forehead in some special ink that only girls can read. (That certainly would explain a lot.) If I should be offended at her reasoning, I haven't lost any sleep over the fact that I was not the one put on the spot to not give her money. Maybe she is like an animal that can sense...that I wasn't going to give her any money.

Anyway, this young, semi-attractive (in that I've had too many and shouldn't drive home kinda way) girl was clad in a tank top and jeans. She was clean. She was well fed. She was by all facets of the imagination, not homeless. Strange that she was asking for handouts on the sidewalk in downtown Royal Oak.

It was not until Josh and I parted ways that I believe I found the answer to this mystery of mysteries. On my solo walk back to my car, I passed a group of "misfit" teenagers. Piercings, mismatched clothing, strange dye jobs, a few more piercings....I was in Royal Oak. You get the idea. One of the spawn knew a kid that was also walking past (ahead of me) and they talked briefly.

"How you been?"
"Nah man, everything's cool."
"Yeah, me too."
"What are you up to tonight?"
"Just trying to hit up some gas money."


Did you feel it? There it is. This fine young upstart was probably going to employ technique similar to the one used by Josh's new girlfriend. Stand in a busy downtown area and ask people for money. If they don't ask, don't tell. Though I wonder what they would say if asked... What a strange way to pay for gas.

Maybe things have gotten a little out of hand with gas prices.