Thursday, June 23, 2022

Coming Soon: Stuff

You know how when you write a weekly blog post and you know you're going to have a bunch of stuff to talk about in the coming weeks* but for one week there just isn't really much of anything to say? Well, this is one of those weeks. So in the meantime, please enjoy these pictures of food and cats.




* Including a new music announcement, status updates on Volumes Six and Seven, a TV Roundup post, and more

Thursday, June 16, 2022

I Knew Representation Was Important When I Was A Kid

As you've probably already guessed by now if you've been following this blog or any of my other activities, I'm a huge Star Wars fan. Have been ever since I was a kid. Even as an eight-year-old, however, I noticed that there was nobody in the original movie (Episode IV) that looked like me, specifically someone of Asian descent.
I didn't let this fact bother me or deter my fandom, however; I simply came up with the idea - apparently this process is now called "headcanon" - that all the characters in the film were technically aliens and therefore not of any one particular race or ethnicity, at least far as we know them on Earth (embarrassing admission alert: if I remember correctly, I believe I even wrote some short fanfic that said that Luke, Han, Leia et al were all descended from an original race called "Force-ians," or something like that.) Anyway, with that justification in mind, I was able to continue enjoying the subsequent entries in the franchise even though there were still no Asian actors (in George Lucas' defense, I've heard - whether this is true or not, I have no idea - that he originally wanted to cast Toshiro Mifune as Obi-Wan or Darth Vader, but was turned down).

Since then, diversity and representation in Star Wars and other works of pop culture in general has increased, which I obviously view as a positive development (there are many, many articles on the Internet that explore this topic in more detail; I'm just relating a bit of my own personal experiences here). Again, if you've been following this blog or any of my other activities, you know I'm a big proponent and supporter of diversity, inclusion, and representation. My Joel Suzuki series of novels has an Asian-American on the autism spectrum as its lead protagonist and includes a number of other characters from various minority communities. Some of my other projects (Glorified and Try Again Tomorrow being examples) also feature leads of Asian descent. I think it's important for kids to see reflections of themselves in the media that they consume, and so it's my hope that I'm doing my part so that nobody has to come up with a label as embarrassing as "Force-ian."*

* Although maybe Luke and Leia, being the children of Anakin who some theories say was directly conceived by midichlorians, could actually be considered "Force-ian"? Don't get me started

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Legend Of The Ghost Pepper, Revisited

In this week's episode of my band's podcast Second Player Speaks, we reminisce about the time almost ten years ago we went to local burger now-chain Killer Burger and attempted to eat their ghost pepper burger. I remembered that I had written a blog post about the experience, so for those of you who missed it or don't remember, I am republishing it today for your reading schadenfreude.*
Here's the confession of the day: I thought I was prepared for the "Marine" at local burger joint Killer Burger.

I love spicy food. I ask for extra jalapenos on my tuna sandwiches; I eat kim chee like candy; I pour sriracha sauce on my morning waffles. Okay, not really the last one, but you get the idea.

But this...this was not spicy. This was something totally different.

At Second Player Score practice one day, for some reason we started talking about ghost peppers. I'd never tried them before, but the word was that they were incredibly hot. I thought, "Mm, sounds good." So when, a week or so later, I saw an article in the paper about Killer Burger that mentioned their "Marine," a burger that contains ghost peppers, I thought, "Hey, we should try that!" So we put it down on the calendar as something fun we could do one day after practice. It even turned into an official band event of sorts, with band members' relations planning to bring cameras and such.

Weeks went by, and the event kept getting postponed by schedule conflicts and last-minute show opportunities. In the interim, I noted that Killer Burger makes you sign a waiver before you eat the burger, which I thought was a brilliant marketing move. "Oo, a waiver, how scary!" I also spent the time ratcheting up my Tabasco consumption, to the point where it hardly registered a tingle on my tongue. I was going to be ready for this.

Anyway, the big day finally arrived. We got there and saw the warning on the hand-written menu above the registers: "The Marine Hot! - DON'T ORDER THIS!!" I smirked. The cashier tried to talk us out of ordering it. I smirked again as I reflected on the genius business tactic of telling your customers not to buy your product. People will always do what you tell them not to do.

Ten minutes and a signed waiver later, they brought the burgers out with the same fanfare reserved for birthdays at chain restaurants. People looked at us like we were nuts. I thought, "Okay, seriously? Come on now, it's a spicy burger. Everybody relax."

I decided to start by dipping a french fry in their "lava sauce," which also apparently contains ghost peppers. THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE. The moment it hit my mouth, I could tell that this was no ordinary kind of spicy. You know how, when you're eating spicy food, the heat seems to accumulate over time? Well, there was no "time" involved here. This was an entire Thai-green-curry-with-the-"hot"-option-reaction condensed into a single second.

And it got worse from there. My eyes started to water uncontrollably as I tried to remain calm. My lips were on fire, but my mouth and head weren't - instead, they were on something beyond fire; it was like they had been transported to some kind of unholy realm of torture where someone was inserting power saw blades into my skull.

And it wasn't just my facial region feeling the wrath, my stomach was a helpless victim as well.

Stomach: I'm hungry, isn't it dinner time?
Stomach: Okay, great, here comes something.
Stomach: Whoopee, it's a french fry. Can't you do better than that? Wait, it's covered in some kind of sauce that -
Stomach: AAAAIIIIEEEEEEEEEE

And mind you, I hadn't even started eating the burger yet. Through my haze of agony I could barely make out some kid at a nearby table egging us on, saying things like "C'mon, it's like Man Vs. Food!" I figured, okay, I have to at least take one bite of this thing. THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE.

After a tiny bite, I was done. The pain and nausea increased exponentially until I was in a Homer-Simpson-Guatemalan-Insanity-Pepper-like state of psychosis. All I could do was sit there, staring into space, as my intestines quickly shriveled up and turned into dust. The kid at the nearby table was now saying things like "blrkjkg alijoit ghlkj ahiogh," or at least that's what it sounded like to me.

And it wasn't over. After feeling like I had recovered somewhat, more waves of pain ensued. This evil cycle continued for about an hour afterwards before I was finally confident that I had escaped from the ghost pepper dungeon.

So yeah, they weren't kidding about the waiver.

Once coherency had returned, I did some research and found out that the ghost pepper, or Naga Bhut Jolokia, is roughly TWO HUNDRED TIMES hotter than Tabasco sauce. And that it can be used as a weapon. Well, duh.

I thought I could handle spicy foods. Turns out I had absolutely no idea.

Originally published 9/17/2012

* Pleasure derived from someone else's misfortune

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Super-Easy Surf 'N' Turf: A Recipe In Haiku

Easy surf 'n' turf
A recipe in haiku
Results may vary
The ingredients:
Twelve pieces pre-breaded shrimp
Ten-ounce ribeye steak

One can of mushrooms
White rice, quantity to taste
One cup of green beans

Cook rice like always
Trim steak, add salt and pepper
Don't forget both sides

Preheat the oven
Follow directions on box
For the breaded shrimp

Add some oil to pan*
How much oil? Just a little
Set stove to seven

Cook the steak to your
Desired doneness level
Turn heat down to five

Remove steak from pan
Drain water from the mushrooms
And also the beans

Add both to the pan
Turn heat down to one
Stir, wait, stir, wait, stir

If you followed all
The directions for the shrimp
Then they should be done

Remove 'shrooms and beans
Combine everything on plate**
Make sure stove is off

This makes two servings
Total prep and cooking time
Thirty-five minutes

Crack open a beer
Take picture, post to Facebook
Sit down and enjoy

* Believe it or not
Yes, "oil" is one syllable
"Oi" is a diphthong

** Also, "everything"
Is really three syllables
English is so weird