Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I don't want to party like it's my birthday; I want to buy my house!

That's a Flipping Out reference, for those of you who are living under a rock and managed to miss the thousands of promos featuring that quote. Jeff was referring to the fact that Fitty Cent was accidentally playing on his CD player while he had an open house. He actually said "sell my house" instead of "buy my house."

Anyway, the reason I wrote that is because today is my birthday but I don't really feel like partying like it's my birthday (I never do) and Eric and I are closing on a house. It will be ours tomorrow! There is so much work to do on it! I think Eric said he will put up some pictures on his blog sometime today. And we will definitely be putting up pictures of our renovation efforts.

So ... I'm forty. Please feel free to picture me with my pants pulled up and kicking my leg in the air like Molly Shannon as Sally O'Mally.

Forty years old! Christ on a cracker!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Top Chef: Miami: the do-over!

We are in part two of the restaurant challenge and CJ still only has one testicle.

The quickfire is a mise en place relay race! Fun! They have to shuck oysters, dice onions, break down chickens, and whip egg whites. I understand dicing onions but are those other things really considered mise en place? Shucking oysters especially doesn't seem like it fits the challenge. Well, it's still fun!

The relay teams are the restaurant teams. Everyone does pretty well except Casie, who takes forever chopping onions.

Other Eric: "Wow, I could chop onions faster than that."

It's true. I make him chop onions for me sometimes because they make me cry. Man, she was slow. It's like she was performing brain surgery:

Casie: "Oh, chopping onions isn't brain surgery? I keep getting those mixed up."

Never mind. The prize doesn't even seem that great. The winning team has to endure Stephen the sommelier. I don't dislike Stephen but he can be really annoying.

Both teams, however, have to endure Madonna's brother. (Thanks to Amuse Biatch for letting us know to expect him.) Supposedly he is a designer, though I saw no evidence of it. He told team Garage to use white table cloths, which everyone else had already told them. And he told Restaurant April to write inspirational messages from Successories around the walls of their space:

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference

Problems become opportunities when the right people join together

The strength of our character is rooted in the depths of our convictions

Or my personal favorite:

Someone please kill me

At least he didn't make them put up the "Hang In There" kitten poster.

Obviously he made team Garage's space look better. But Hung's monkey could have done that. (Does anyone mind if I mention Hung's monkey in every post? Good.) He made quite a lot of unnecessary changes to Restaurant April's space. It looked fine but I don't know that he improved it.

Casie tells us how much she and Tre have in common. Well, that's the kiss of death. If Casie talks about how much she likes you it means you are going to be eliminated. DON'T BECOME FRIENDS WITH CASIE! TRE, RUN FROM HER AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

The chefs have to provide a second option for three courses. Team Garage wisely changes the name of their restaurant to Quatre. The judges don't all love the new name but they all agree it's an improvement. Tom doesn't eat in the restaurants, instead spending the whole evening being unhelpful in the kitchen.

Other than Dale's slovenly appearance, the judges love almost everything about the new and improved Quatre. Stephen almost bores the patrons to death but Dale eventually tells him to shut it.

The eliminated chefs from earlier episodes show up to eat at the restaurants:

Hung: "Who are these people?"

The guest judge is chef Geoffrey Zakarian:

Zakarian: "I hereby declare tuna tartare a cliché."

Please make a note of it. He also complained that no one was watching Tre's back. I'm sure Tre has a very nice back but does everyone need to watch it so carefully? Meanwhile, no one was watching Sara's back. But she was a total fabulous bitch and simply didn't allow Hung or Howie to send out any food that wasn't absolutely perfect. The fact that Tre allowed inadequate food to leave his kitchen was his responsibility. He was the head chef. Tre accepted this; is was just Zakarian who seemed to be blaming everyone else.

Restaurant Quatre (formerly known as the Garage) won! Sara, as head chef, wins! She wins something! I can't remember what! Why can't I stop using exclamation marks?!

So who is asked to leave from Restaurant April? Is it head Chef Tre for allowing bad food to leave his kitchen? Is it CJ for not watching Tre's back? Is it Casie or Brian for ... well, nobody really knows what they did.

Padma: "Tre, I'm sorry but Casie seems to like you so we are going to have to ask you to pack your knives and go."

Casie: "Well, at least I still have Dale."

Dale: "Step away from me."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

High School Musical: Part Duh!

OK, I was forced to watch High School Musical: Part II this past weekend and thought I would share that pain with all of you. In fairness to Eric, he has to watch this crap because it is kind of part of his job. I have to admit that I missed part one so I was a little worried that I wouldn't know what was going on:

Other Eric: "It's a bunch of high school students and they sing and dance. That's pretty much all you need to know."

Alright. So apparently there is this short, skinny kid who is the most popular boy in school even though Eric says he didn't even sing his own songs in the first movie. So why did they cast him?

Other Eric: "Obviously because he's dreamy."

Well, yes, there is that. He has very pretty eyes. But his one acting emotion is a slight look of pain and/or constipation.

So this main kid has a girlfriend. And a black friend. And his friend makes inappropriate sexual comments about another girl, who I think they have all been going to school with but who he seems just to have noticed on the last day before summer vacation. The comments are the Disney equivalent of, "I'd tap that." Obviously they will become a couple by the end of the movie. Then there is the nerdy girl who looks like Andrea from 90210, who wears stupid hats and plays the piano. Constantly. And finally, there is the rich bitchy girl and her gay brother, although his gayness is never mentioned. Oh, yes, there is also a chubby girl and probably an Asian kid but I don't remember. They have all the bases covered. That's the cast.

Whether they are in a cafeteria or on a golf course they sound like they are singing inside a tin can. Eric likes some of the music and dancing.

Here's the basic plot: The main kid doesn't play softball with his friends because he is trying to get a scholarship to go to college. I know! What an asshole, right? Fortunately, by the end of the movie he has learned his valuable lesson: It is more important to make your friends happy than to get an education.

Other Eric: "That's not the valuable lesson! He learned that it is important to be true to yourself."

Really? I didn't get that at all. Oh, well.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Top Chef: Miami: Rehearsal Dinner!

Ted: "God, what smells in here?"

Undercover Blogger: "It must be Brian."

Padma: "I don't think Brian smells that bad."

Brian: "Thank you, Padma. I appreciate that."

Dale: "I don't smell anything. Besides, I would have thought the scented candles would cover any smell."

Ted: "Aha! But scented candles can't disguise the smell of scented candles."

Dale: "Oh."

Is he freaking kidding me? Is there really anyone who doesn't know you don't put scented candles in a restaurant? What is it with gays and their scented candles? Can they really not resist them? Have you ever been to a homosexual's house that wasn't packed to the damned ceiling with scented candles? Are you sick of the gays giving you scented candles as gifts? Will the madness never end? (In fairness to Dale, the bisexual Hung allowed him to buy the candles. Also, the only thing that prevented honorary gay man Casie from buying scented candles was the fact that she was shopping with the heterosexual Brian.)

Anyway, let's go back to the beginning of the episode. First of all, we're all wondering how everyone feels about Howie:

CJ: "Howie is dead to me."

OK; that's answered. Next, on to the quickfire:

Padma: "If you are like most people, the name Daniel Boulud immediately makes you think of Red Robin restaurants."

Uh ... what?

Whatever. The chefs have to create a burger. We get a lot of fish burgers. CJ wins. There are no more immunities for the rest of the season but CJ wins the opportunity to pick his teammates for the elimination challenge. He picks Casie, Tre, and Brian. That leaves Hung, Howie, Sara, and Dale on the other team.

For the elimination challenge the chefs have 24 hours to create a restaurant. 24 hours to come up with a theme, create a menu, decorate, shop, and prepare dinner for 30 guests. This would be a really fun challenge if it were even remotely possible.

I'd love to see what the chefs could do in a week. But 24 hours? What's the point? You know it's not going to be very good.

Padma: "One person on each team will be responsible for one of the following duties: head chef, sous chef, DESIGN [dubbed in], and front of house."

That was weird. why did they have to dub in the word "design."

Padma: "I accidentally said 'decorating' instead of design and the homos ripped me a new one."

Ah, that makes sense.

CJ, Casie, Tre, and Brian call their place Restaurant April because CJ's sister is named April. Well, I guess it doesn't really make any damned difference, does it? Casie and Brian decorate, er, I mean, design the space really nicely. It's pretty. Tre and CJ concentrate on making some pretty mediocre and occasionally inedible food. They do not wash the dishes prior to serving food on them. Brian covers the front of the house until he has a nervous breakdown, when Casie takes over. Brian wore a suit, apparently to maximize his sweating. The dessert was OK. Oh, did I mention the place looked nice?

Hung, Howie, Sara, and Dale call their restaurant The Garage because the empty space they started with resembled a garage. Oh, and because the finished space resembled a garage. A really badly decorated garage. I'm really starting to question Dale's homosexuality. His pants are bad enough [Other Eric: "Don't forget his hair!"] but that decor really looked like shit. That is if shit looked like a really cheap 1980s underground dance club. The "Undercover Blogger" described it as being like eating off of Billy Idol. I don't recommend that, by the way. You really don't know where he's been. Oh, wait, the scented candles! Yeah, OK, Dale is definitely gay. Yes, it's shocking to be reminded of this, but there are gay men with really bad taste. The liberal media doesn't want you to know this but it's true. I've experienced it in real life.

As a side note, the food at The Garage was not great, either. Apparently the crepe for dessert was good, although it sounded really boring to me. Hung's dish was the best of the night, which is a good thing for him because he didn't actually take one of the duties Padma mentioned. This didn't occur to me until just now but Sara was the head chef, Howie was the sous chef, Dale covered the front of the house, and DALE took charge of the decor. Hung was supposed to take one of those duties. Fortunately, his dish was good enough that no one cared.

The judges pretended that they had to make a really difficult decision. Tom said the judging was going to have to come down to food. Then they chose Dale and Brian as the bottom two. But Dale and Brian were not in charge of the food so I don't understand Tom's statement.

It doesn't matter. Neither one is going home. It's a do-over! The teams will get another chance with their restaurants. That's good. It should be much better the second night. Because two days is plenty of time to open a restaurant. The problem is that there was so much wrong it will almost be like starting from scratch. Restaurant April has a little advantage because they don't need to completely redecorate their space. They can concentrate on the food and service. The Garage needs to improve the food and magically get some design sense. Somehow I don't see this coming from Sara or Howie so I don't know what they are going to do.

Tune in next week when we see the conclusion of this restaurant challenge. Until then, I'll leave you with this little exchange:

Tom: "I expected a lot from them."

Padma: "Really?"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Top Chef: Miami: They love the nightlife, they got to boogie!

Howie: "I'm such a sensitive person. I have a hard time getting close to people because I know they will have to leave and if I let myself get too close I will be heartbroken."

So that's why you act like such as asshole?

Howie: "Pretty much."

This week's quickfire is brought to you by Cold Stone Creamery. If you enjoy eating tasteless ice cream with a bunch a stupid shit in it that someone has mashed together on a slab of marble for no apparent reason, then Cold Stone is the place for you!

The guest judge is Govind Armstrong:

Tre: "Fun fact about Govind Armstrong: he's African American!"

Yes, we can see that. Anyway, this week's guest African American tells the chefs to create ice cream from the heart.

Padma: "You have to create an ice cream flavor. You may want to avoid bacon and eggs ice cream or avocado ice cream because that is so last season."

Hung plays it safe and goes with cauliflower and sawdust with an infusion of used motor oil and sprinkled with crushed glass and sesame seeds. Well, that may not have been the exact recipe but I'm guessing it was something like that, judging from Govind's reaction to it.

Sara N. spends the entire time chopping one almond.

Howie macerates his berries. ON NETWORK TELEVISION! I really didn't need to see that! Govind liked the salt in his ice cream:

Other Eric: "I hate to tell him but that was sweat."

Casey used chili paste. It could have worked but apparently didn't.

Dale borrows Hung's monkey once again and creates a delicious peach cobbler ice cream. He wins!

Padma: "You are all off the hook for now for the elimination challenge. You will get to go out and enjoy the famous Miami nightlife!"

Oh, Padma, you lying bitch.

I mean, really. She could have mislead them without actually lying. She could have simply said that the chefs would get to experience the Miami night life and just let them think they were going out for a fun night on the town. I totally understand why some of them were so pissed off when they found out they were lied to. It was just unnecessarily cruel.

So, anyway, they all get dressed up as best they can and are chauffeured via limousine to the catering trucks where they will be working all night:

Sara N.: "I can't go shopping in heels! That is just so wrong!"

Padma: "Oh, for Christ's sake! You should do everything in heels!"

Sara N.: "But my cleavage is showing!"

Padma: "Yeah, what's your point?"

Dale gets to skip the challenge and go on a date with Govind. They make a cute couple.

One team has C.J., Sara N., Howie, and Casey. They were a disaster. They didn't work well together, most of their food was terrible, they did not do a good job of attracting customers, and they were slow.

The second team of Brian, Sara M., Tre, and Hung seemed to do everything right. They were well organized and worked well together, their food was good and plentiful, and they attracted a huge crowd of customers. Brian seemed to be the leader of this team and, while I find him annoying, I have to give him credit for doing an excellent job. Not only did his enthusiasm attract customers but it was also a good idea to maximize space in the catering truck by having a table of chilled foods out in front. (I agree with Tom that a raw oyster bar in a parking lot at 2:00 AM was a risky idea but it turned out to be very popular.)

So the winning team was never in question but choosing the individual winner and loser was a little more difficult. I think Brian should have won, since I really think he was most responsible for his team's success. But the judges gave it to Tre for creating the best individual dish. I can't remember what he made:

Me: "Hey, Eric, what dish did Tre make on the last Top Chef?"

Other Eric: "Shrimp wrapped in bacon and served on grits."

Oh, yeah. Holy crap, that sounds good! OK, he deserves to win. He wins a book and a VIP club card for something.

It is hard to say who did the worst job on the losing team. The judges decide to send home Sara N.

Padma: "Sara, pack your knives and go."

Sara N.: "I can't pack my knives and go dressed like this! It's totally unprofessional!"

Padma: "Oh, alright. We'll give you a few minutes to change into some hot pants."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is LOGO programming on "gay time"?

OK, so as your local senior gay correspondent I dutifully tuned in to the totally gay presidential forum on LOGO last night. Except that it was half over. I don't know if this was the fault of LOGO programmers or if our local cable company screwed up. I don't think the gays are really known for their time-management skills but I thought that usually meant we were always late for things (due to choosing the right outfit and getting our hair perfect). So what does it mean when we start things too early?

Anyway, I missed Obama and most of Edwards, although they showed clips of their interviews during the post show. [update: I saw them in a repeat after I started writing this] Here are the totally fake highlight:

John Edwards: "I may not be gay but if you elect me I'll be the gayest president since Abraham Lincoln. What? We all know he was big flamer."

Bill Richardson, as usual, seemed unable to answer a simple question. Except one:

Melissa Etheridge: "Do you think being gay is a choice?"

Richardson: "Yes."

Etheridge: "I'm sorry; maybe you didn't understand my question. Do you think people just suddenly decide to be gay or do you think that it is an orientation a person is born with?"

Richardson: "I'm not a scientist."

I think Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are the same person:

Kucinich and Gravel: "We love the gays! We think you should all get married! What the hell is wrong with you freaks that you are supporting Obama, Edwards, and Clinton?"

They're right: what the hell is wrong with me?

Hillary Clinton is wearing the same damn outfit she has on every damn time I see her. What is up with that? It's a perfectly nice jacket but is it really the only one she owns? I'm wondering if it has to do with a fear of being taken seriously as a woman; knowing that women are critiqued for their clothing, she doesn't want to come across as a clothes horse. No one talks about what suit Obama was wearing, right? But the difference is that Obama's suit wasn't bright coral pink! If she wore a grey suit nobody would notice, but she's wearing a coral jacket so people are going to remember it. Especially gay people! Know your audience, Hillary! Talk to the lesbians but dress for the gays! Those black slacks do not make your ass look smaller and please, I'm begging you, wear a higher heel! You'll thank me.

Anyway, the moderator (a woman) mentioned the jacket, remembering that wannabe homo John Edwards dissed it during that ridiculous You-tube debate. I'm actually not certain it's the same jacket but it sure looks similar.

I am very impressed with Hillary Clinton, even if she needs to go on What Not To Wear. She had that audience wrapped around her little finger (ooh, did I ever tell you what Bill likes her to do with that little finger? Oh, wait, that was St. Elmo's Fire; never mind). I can't help liking her, even if she's not right about everything.

She, like Obama and Edwards, will not come out and support same-sex marriage; saying instead that she fully supports completely equal domestic partnerships. She was vague about why she doesn't support the use of the word "marriage" and I think that is because she really does support same-sex marriage. This is my theory: what she would like to say is, "I support same-sex marriage but I don't think the country is ready for that yet so I think we should concentrate on getting equal rights through civil unions and after people get used to that then we can just call it marriage." But she can't actually come right out and say that because it will freak some people out. I can live with that. It's wonderful that Gravel and Kucinich support same-sex marriage but they are not going to be president.

Let me also mention "Don't ask, don't tell," which was passed during the presidency of Clinton's husband, Bill (maybe you've heard of him). People complain a lot about this but, as she pointed out, it was a vast improvement over the outright ban on gays in the military that existed prior to that.

All of these candidates came across as being genuinely friendly to the gay community and any one of them would be a better president that the asshole we have now. But I think Hillary won this one. She seemed the most comfortable of the three major candidates and it was actually a pleasure to listen to her speak.

Some other notes: the comedian Alec Mapa gave his insight after the show and he was very funny. He also thought Hillary came across best, although he admitted that having Obama shake his hand and say he loved him was going to give him something to dream about.

Dougie Houser was in the house!

Anyway, thanks to LOGO for this forum and the six candidates for taking the gay vote seriously enough to attend. The moderator informed us that they invited the Republican candidates to attend a similar forum but they all refused. Did you hear that, Log Cabin Republicans?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A very Brady kitchen!

Isn't this gorgeous?! I stole this picture from Ms. Place. It's from the last episode of Design Star. If you are watching this show, make sure to check out Surroundings, Kora in Hell, and Dishin' Dat because Linda, Trixie, and Ms. Place (respectively) are all covering the show (you may have to scroll down because they cover other topics, too).

Anyway, when other Eric and I saw this kitchen in the previews we almost died:
Other Eric: "That's the kitchen we want!"
Me: "Oh, my god; it's perfect! Wait ... is that the before picture?"
Other Eric: "Yes."
[Sound of the Erics sobbing]

Of course we had no clue as to exactly how badly the designers were going to destroy that kitchen but we will try to reproduce it if we get a house. It's just so sad because that kitchen looked like it was in perfect condition; it's not like it was all worn out and had to be replaced. And I have no idea why they replaced all the beautiful stainless steel appliances with new stainless steel appliances when the ones that were there were probably fine. That was a stupid use of funds because those wall ovens probably took up a third the budget for the entire kitchen and they could have used that money for better tile for the counter. (I think they replaced them; they look different in the after picture). Oh, well.

Another model for the kitchen we want is the kitchen from the Brady Bunch. Unfortunately, I could not find a picture. It's very similar to the picture above except the cabinets are stained a slightly greenish color.

So, I've been meaning to mention Design Star and point you in the direction of blogs that are covering it and I had to post the picture of our dream kitchen!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Top Chef: Miami Recap: IQF, WTF?

IQF is the future! If you learn nothing else from this episode, learn that!

We start the episode with Joey looking over the balcony of the hotel:

Joey: "This is the time in the competition when people start throwing other people over a bus."

Are you sure you mean "over a bus"?

Joey: "Over a balcony?"

Are you just saying that because you are looking over a balcony?

Joey: "Maybe."

The quickfire is starring Rocco DiSpirito. I know who he is but I've never really seen him before. He's kinda cute but he could be twenty or sixty. His hair color looks like it came out of a box. He seems to be wearing an unusual amount of make-up, even for television. Most disturbing are his eyebrows. When are men going to stop waxing their eyebrows? If you have a unibrow, do some plucking, but waxing just looks so unnatural. God, I'm such a bitch. Sorry.

The quickfire is really fun! The chefs have to identify food items or cooking utensils by taste or sight. I think they did this on a previous season but I'm not sure. Howie tells us he's a thinker. You be the judge. Hung, as usual, makes a fool of himself:

Hung: "I can name that ingredient without even looking at it or tasting it. It's caraway seeds."

Padma: "That would be really impressive if it were correct, dumb-ass."

Casey totally rocks! She wins!

The elimination challenge is also really fun! What's the most important thing to remember for the elimination challenge? IQF! Remember? I just told you how important IQF is! Try to pay attention!

For the elimination challenge, the chefs have to analyze Rocco's frozen dinners to determine exactly what makes them so amazingly delicious and easy to prepare:

Hung: "The secret is IQF. Pass it on."

Sara M: "The secret is IQF. Pass it on."

Tre: "The secret is IQF. Pass it on."

Joey: "The secret is MSG. Pass it on."

No, Joey; that's not right. Anyway, they have to make their own frozen meals using the secret of IQF. Unless they forget to use the IQF method, in which case they are screwed.

The chefs have to try to give away their food at the grocery store. Howie and Sara M. and Hung and Joey can't find many takers:

Sara: "Damn it! We should have used IQF! We're screwed!"

Hung: "Joey, why didn't you listen when I told you to IQF the ingredients?"

Joey: "I only listen to people if they hit me over the head with a cast-iron skillet."

Hung: "Well, I wish I had know that."

Casey and Dale do really well with their meatballs and pesto:

Tom: "Whose idea was that?"

Casey: "Well, that's the funniest story! I said to Dale, 'I was thinking meatballs,' and he said, 'Oh, my god; I was totally just thinking the same thing!' and I said, 'Oh, my god, that is so amazing; it's like we're telepathic!' and he said, "Oh, my god; we are the greatest team ever!' and then we started jumping up and down and hugging each other!"

Tom: "You really must tell that story again sometime."

Rocco: "I just have to point out that I got a meatball that was still frozen in the middle. You should have taken a bite out of each meatball to make sure they were all cooked properly."

Whatever. Tre and CJ make something with truffle oil. They each win a trip for two to Italy, the country most famous for frozen dinners. Congratulations guys! It's really nice that they both won the prize. I hate it when only one member of team wins.

They have to send in Howie and Sara and Joey and Hung:

Tom: "What part of IQF did you not understand?"

Joey: "I still don't know what anyone is talking about. I just want to win the trip to Italy so I can send my mother out of town. I love her but it would be really nice to get her out of the house for a while. She's always asking when I'm going to meet a nice Italian girl and telling me to clean up my room."

[I don't actually know that Joey lives with his mother. Just guessing.]

Padma: "Sorry, Joey; I have to ask you to pack your knives and go."

Joey: "To Italy?"

Padma: "No, Joey; you did not win the trip; you lost the challenge."

Joey: "Oh. OK. Before I go, could you please tell me what the hell IQF means?"

[IQF stands for individually quick frozen, a method of freezing the components of the dish separately, which allows for better reheating.]