Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Wonder Food - TOFU

I remember when the only people who ate tofu were the turbaned hippis who ran the local health store. Even under swathes of fabric their skins glowed with health. But as much as I stared at the white wobbly tofu on the shelves, I couldn't get myself past the time I bought a pack and ate it spoonful by spoonful. It was bland and a chore to get down. I figured I'd just have to buy a good face cream. 

Today's tofu is quite different; lower priced, available in variety from your local supermarket and best of all, it tastes great. If you're already a convert you'll know that it's made from soybeans and is reported to play a role in lowering your risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. You'll know that it's a natural refrigerant, which means it has a cooling effect on your body, so is the perfect heat-combatting tool. Maybe you'll also know that studies have proven it to be beneficial to the diet of post-menopausal women, as well as being low in calories. 

If you're not a convert, you'll say that it's tasteless and boring, and if you have to shave a few years off your life to avoid eating it, then so be it. 

But if you increase your intake of soy protein to 40 grams a day, it will help to increase bone density and mineral content. That makes it worth one more try right? 

There are many ways to eat – or drink – soy beans. Here's what you can do:
* Change your choice at your local coffee shop to soy milk, which contains half the calories of regular milk. 

* Eat Soy Protein Chips. They're tasty and a great alternative to the potato chip. (I love the cheddar cheese flavor).
* Make yourself miso soup. It's the Japanese staple that plays a role in keeping the population's life expectancy so high. On the shelves you'll see mainly two different types of tofu; momendofu, which is firm, and kinugoshi, the more silken and soft of the two. Kinugoshi is best for miso soup. You'll also need miso,, and stock like dashi, available from most Asian supermarkets. Add dried seaweed too if you like it. 

Measure a bowl of water and heat it to boiling point. Add about a teaspoon of dashi and reduce heat. Add a blob of miso about the size of a large grape. The rule of thumb is a big grape size per serving. It's not a good idea to boil the miso because it loses flavor. Sprinkle in the seaweed (wakame) and add the cut-up tofu. Depending on how you like it, you can either cut it up into small or big cubes. I like it broken into small pieces because the texture seems to absorb a little of the miso flavour. Your miso soup is done. 

* Fried tofu is also delicious and easy. Use momendofu for this. Drain from the package and place tofu on a slightly skew cutting board. Cut it in half horizontally to form two white steaks. Use another cutting board or anything handy to lightly weigh them down and drain excess water. Leave for about five minutes. Then coat with flour or katakuriko, a starch flour, and fry in a hot pan, until they turn golden brown. Serve with soy sauce and grated Japanese radish, or Ponzu sauce and sliced green onions. 

* If you're still not tempted, try a chocolate tofu pie. All you do is melt about a cup and a half of bitter chocolate and mix it with two packs of blender-softened kinugoshi tofu. Put filling into a ready-made pie crust and leave to set in the fridge. I actually make this in small containers without the crust like a chocolate mousse.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Angelina Jolie Costume Lara Croft

There are lots of great movie related Halloween costume ideas for women. One of them is Lara Croft Tomb Raider. Fans of the movie,
videi game or Angelina Jolie will enjoy this Halloween costume. Some aspects of this costume will not be easily found at home. However, you can still put together a costume that will be memorable for years to come. This article will show you how to create a great Lara Croft Tomb Raider costume for Halloween.


Black Tank Top
Black shorts
Black Belt with Loops
Tactical Leg Holster
Black Boots
Black Wrist Bands or Watch
Toy Eagle Magnum Pistol and Toy Knife
Makeup & Black Hair band

Step 1

The tank top is an important aspect of a Lara Croft Tomb Raider costume. It must be black and fit well. Black tank tops can be found at a discount store like Wal-Mart or sporting good retailers including Modell's. Women can find an inexpensive tank top for $7 or less at discount stores.

Step 2

You will also need a pair of black shorts in order to pull of this
Halloween costume idea. Make sure that the shorts are not very loose over your legs. The idea is to look like a tough and sexy female fighter, not Kobe Bryant's teammate on the basketball court. The shorts for this Lara Croft Tomb Raider costume should be short. That means skipping any Bermuda styled items or other related bottoms. Training shorts will look great with this Halloween costume idea. Boy shorts for women are also great alternatives.

Step 3

Get a black belt that has loops or holes in it. If you have a difficult time finding belts like this, move on to another alternative. A solid belt may be sufficient. However, the belt that Angelina Jolie wore in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider had a few holes in it. Therefore, it is an ideal accessory if you want to get as close as possible to the actual character. Stores that sell gothic clothing may be a great resource for belts that will go well with your Lara Croft Tomb Raider costume.

Step 4
A black gun holster will help you pull of the Lara Croft Tomb Raider
costume with ease. They are sold in many varieties and can be found at hunting stores and online. To create this Halloween costume idea, purchase a Tactical Leg holster in black. You will need one for both the left and right leg. Leg holsters are sold by many companies and vary in price. It is best to purchase the cheaper ones for $8 or less. The tactical leg holster that you use should attach to your belt and leg.

Step 5

While you are shopping for a sturdy black belt, make sure to pick up a pair of boots. They should be completely black and rough looking. A gothic clothing store may provide the best chances in finding both items. However, the shoes sold at these places are not always cheap. I have seen some black boots at Hot Topic for $100. Black
boots can be found online for $50 or less. Make sure that the have at least one strap.

Step 6

You can wear a black watch similar to one that Angelina Jolie wore in the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie. There is a wide variety or sports and men's watches that will go well with this Halloween costume idea. However, they can cost around $30 or more. If you are not in need of an everyday watch, black wristbands can be used as an alternative Halloween costume accessory. These items are usually made of cotton and can be found at stores that sell sporting goods.

Step 7

You will need weapons to complete the Lara Croft Tomb Raider costume. The weapons do not have to be real. In fact, it is better to use toy guns and knives for this Halloween costume idea. Pick up two Airsoft pistols and one knife. You can substitute the guns for similar looking items if there is difficulty in finding these pistols. Stick the toy knife inside one of your black boots. Make sure that the handle is visible.

Step 8

The right hairstyle will enhance your Lara Croft Tomb Raider Costume. If you do not have long hair, buy a straight dark colored wig. Put your hair back in a pony tail or long French braid. Secure the braid with a black hair band. This Halloween costume idea does not require a lot of makeup. Apply a dude shade of lipstick to your lips. Pink lip gloss is also a good alternative.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Real Girl

Lars (Ryan Gosling) is an introverted kind person who does not have much contact with the outside world other than his brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), and Gus's wife Karin (Emily Mortimer). Until one day he gets a box that opens a new word for not only him but everyone who loves and cares for him. Lars and the Real Girl.

Bianca is the "real girl""and she is treated like a real girl by everyone in the movie. The actors did a fantastic job treating her as if she were real. Of course they had to pretend to pretend that she was real for their parts but they did a good job because if you see the
movie and you don't like it, it won't be because you think it was cheesy. Because they do such a great job at convincing everyone that they believe she's real as much as Lars believes she's real that it's hard not to believe as well. If you're not to like the movie then that will be because you don't like the story as a whole, not because of the "real girl".

The story is touching because the entire town pretends she is real just because they really like Lars and are hoping that by doing this they were helping Lars. Lars also learns a lot about how everyone else thinks since he fails to do so without the real girl.

Ryan Gosling does a fantastic job as Lars and has the ticks and smile down pat. It makes him the character and I forgot the confident person he was in The Notebook. Emily Mortimer does a good job with her facial expressions because she has a lot of them during the movie from compassion to anger and they add roundness to her character that would be bland without them. Paul Schneider is the brother and he has a moment where he states how much he cares about Lars and he makes it real and touching.
I liked Lars. He made me laugh because of what he liked and what he wanted made sense to me in a way. I also liked how finally a
movie has heart. It has so much heart and shows that if a community has a lot of care that they can get through anything matter how weird it is. This community was like a big extended family. They talked about how weird it was that he had a girl from a box but they still put forth the effort to help out.

This story is also more creative than most stories out there. It went to a place where no one else has ever gone and I have to say it was good writing as well. Nancy Oliver was the writer and she deserves a gold star. Ha. It seems to be her first noticeable work and that is a good start.

Craig Gillespie did a good job because he had the real girl treated as a real girl. She got her own trailer and dressed in it and was on set like she were real just so that Gosling would stay in character with her being real to his character. That was a good way of getting great acting out of actors. His previous work was Mr. Woodcock and I didn't see that so I can't state how much of a difference there was but I'm pretty sure this movie was better. Just a guess.

The one thing that would have made the movie better is if there were some well timed hugs. Because Lars doesn't like hugs and he explains why but I thought that that would have shown some character progression if that happened. I'm sure there is a good reason as to why they're not any but that's why I didn't give it a higher grade.

Lars and the Real Girl is a silly movie in concept but has more heart than those movies that are suppose to in concept. I believe I'll purchase this movie when it comes out. If you don't like quirky
creative ideas then you should stay away from this movie. But if you do decide to see it then at the end it is possible that a tear might seep out of your eye and you'll have to remind yourself that she's not a real girl and when that happens good luck on undoing what the movie planted in your heart.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Robot Chicken

Or so says Professor Fritz Huhnmorder, who resurrects a chicken corpse, fits it with robotic components in a mock Frankenstein style, and then forces it to watch a giant wall of televisions in a rather Clockwork Orange-esque manner all the while Les Claypool of Primus yells "Its alive!" in the background. 

Still with me? Good, here's the strange part.

The audience sees what the chicken sees, roughly twelve minutes of random and bizarre comedy skewering subjects from Napoleon Dynamite to the Thundercats and everything in between.

Did I mention it was done entirely in stop motion animation? With dolls, actions figures, and clay sculptures? It's sort of like if animation pioneer Harryhausen were really smashed and let loose upon the airwaves. But that's not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, the distinct animation is part of what gives Robot Chicken its charm.

And who could possibly be responsible for such an insane conglomeration of eclectic comedy? Why, none other than co creators Seth Green and Matt Senreich. Green, who is well known as the voice of Chris Griffin of Family Guy, uses his connections with the popular show and the influences can be seen clearly. Not only have numerous members of the Family Guy cast lent their voice talents to Robot Chicken, but some of the more integral aspects of the Family Guy formula have carried over to Robot Chicken as well.

Family Guy is known for its tendency to go off on a tangent with non sequitur jokes and obscure references that are somehow perfectly entwined together with the loose plot. Robot Chicken can be seen as the bastard child of that over-the-top concept; it is made up entirely of non sequitur jokes, a rapid volley of skit after skit which works surprisingly well.
It is this short and quick nature where both the show's greatest strengths and weaknesses lay. Since the skits are so short-some are as quick as a few seconds- it is comedy served in bite sized packaging. Don't think a certain bit is funny or don't understand a specific reference? That's okay, there's bound to be a skit coming up you will enjoy. As they say on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, the late night block of comedy that hosts Robot Chicken, "whatever your alley is, we're up it."

In the same regard, since the episode is so short, it always leaves you wanting more. And Adult Swim had this frustrating habit of showing only one episode of the show each week which leaves a viewer forced to buy the season box set to satiate the cheated feeling from only half of a 30 minute block. Thankfully they've updated their schedule to squeeze in multiple reruns, but Robot Chicken is the kind of show that gets funnier with multiple viewings as you catch some of the jokes and references you may have missed in previous viewings.

Much like when the creators of South Park first stunned the nation by poking fun at pop culture with their scandalous antics and crude bearing, Robot Chicken does likewise; both with simple shock and sharp satirical barbs.

In one skit we find our president readying himself for a trip only to find that Bill Clinton has stolen Air Force One for a funky party flight to a Burning Man concert led who else than Snoop Dogg.

Another bit features the Olsen twins as those lovable yet useless members of the Justice League, the Wonder Twins. (And yes, one of them does take the form of a bucket of water.)

The show features many big name celebrities in the various bits such as 'N Sync, Mark Hamill, Ryan Seacrest, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Burt Reynolds, Scarlett Johansson, among others who usually play themselves.

While Robot Chicken offers a multilayered medium of comedy not seen since the golden years of the Simpsons, it is certainly not for the light of heart or faint of mind; and by no means is it for minors. The violence, profanity, and explicit content, while all animated, can be pretty intense at times. Scenes of brutal mutilations, decapitations, and gore abound.

The final verdict?

If you're old enough and can handle it, by all means watch it at 11:30 pm eastern time on Cartoon Network on Sundays and enjoy two episodes back to back at midnight on Wednesdays, but you're probably better off buying the box set for extra features and commentary.

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Steaks and MarinaTION!

Here are 5 versatile marinades that will tempt your taste buds and make everyone think you are a master griller!

Marinade #1 Orange Teriyaki Marinade

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1 cup orange juice
1 tbsp of oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp dill weed
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic pressed

In a zipper bag, put in 4 pieces of steak or chicken breast and all ingredients above. Make sure all sides are covered in marinade. Put into refrigerator at least 1 to 2 hrs (best results are overnight).
Take out meat from bag and grill both sides until cooked through. This will be a sweeter marinade, and the acid from the juice will break up the toughness of the meat. You may serve with a side of teriyaki sauce and some rice.

Marinade #2 Citrus pepper for steak and chicken

In this marinade, the Citrus pepper gives zing to the meat, with no salt!

In a zipper bag combine 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice and 2 tbsp pepper and 1 tbsp of sugar. Make sure it is mixed well.

Put in steak or chicken into bag and make sure mixture covers meat. Chill for 4 hrs (if in hurry) or overnight so meat takes in all the flavor and tenderizes. Grill meat until done to your specifications.

Marinade #3 Dry rub

In a bowl combine these ingredients 2 tsp black peppercorn (ran through grinder), 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tbsp paprika, 1/2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp lemon zest, 1/2 tbsp coriander (ground), 1 tsp mustard powder 1/2 tbsp ground garlic powder (or crushed fresh garlic)

Cover both sides of meat with mixture and grill to desired doneness.

Marinade #4 Sweet and Savory Onion marinade with red or white wine

In a zipper bag, combine 1 package of golden onion or onion soup mix, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup of red or white wine (my favorite is burgendy for steak and a sweet white wine, even white zinfandel for chicken.) Salt and Pepper 1/4 tsp of each, 2 tbsp dijon mustard and some lemon and lime zest.

Put meat in bag and set overnight. Grill until done to your specifications!

Marinade #5 Spicy and smokey chipotle marinade (not for the faint of heart). This will add a punch to your dish!
1/2 package ancho chilies (dried) 1 oz (take out seeds)
1/2 package green jalapeno (dried) 1 oz (take out seeds depending on how spicy you'd like it!)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 package of onion soup mix
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken breasts or small steaks (6 ounces each)
liquid smoke

Instructions: Soak dry chilies overnight in water, until soft. Add all ingredients except meat in food processor. Puree until smooth. Spread mixture over chicken, or other meats and refrigerate at least 5 hours, up to 24 hours. After marinading, heat grill til hot, approximately 375 degrees, or if cooking inside, heat small amount of oil in skillet or grill pan over high heat. Grill lightly, turning only once, until done. 4 minutes per side for chicken, 8-10 minutes per side for 3/4" thick steak. Before completed, sprinkle with liquid smoke to add smokey flavor.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The 8.5 miles

...without much opposition from the the badly divided Visigothic kingdom, the Moorish invasion of Spain came across the eight-and-a-half-mile channel that separates Africa from Europe.
they brought a new religion, new assurance of wordly pleasures. but soon, the Arabs divided into sects among themselves: Berbers, Syrians, Sunnites, Shiites,...before long, civil war broke out.
...born into the ruling Omayyad family in Arab world outside Spain, Abdu-r-Rahman was about 20 yr old when his grandfather, the caliph, was overthrown by the Abbaid sect. all family members were murdered, except Addu-r-Rahman who made a narrow escape and fled to Spain, where he was welcomed by loyal members of the Omayyad clan. forming a small army, he fought and defeated the emir Yusuf at Cordoba, and established the new Omayyad dynasty in Spain. it became independent of Damascus and continual warfare brought a degree of unity to the Arab states.
Abdu-r-Rahman III, by far the greatest Moslem to rule in Spain brought a state of comparative peace to the country with his impressive administrative and military leadership. under his central authority, Islamic Spain was declared a caliphate (empire), and himself the first caliph. Spain, under the caliphate, was the richest, most powerful state in all Europe. its capital Cordoba, estimated with up to 500,000 inhabitants, 200,000 houses, 600 mosques and 900 bathhouses, in the 10th century, was the largest city in Western Europe, and perhaps, in the world.
...the great Mosque of Cordoba had already become famous, for it was begun in the reign of Abdu-r-Rahman I. by the time of Abdu-r-Rahman III it had 21 gates and 1293 columns of jaspers and porphyry, each one with gilded capitals. (floor plan for first 3 phases, 870-975)
and by the time I visit it, it still remains dazzling ocean of 850 columns of granite, jasper and marble that melt my heart...and in the center - a peculiar 16th century catholic cathedral. (floor plan of present buiding)
music: Jalla man. Traditional Andalusian School. Oni Wytars Ensemble.
A big fan
Mezquita de Córdoba

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Seville, Spain is Most Beautiful and Interesting

Less than an hour's flying time from Madrid, Seville (otherwise known as Sevilla) the capital of Andalucia is a wonderful city. It's large enough that there's plenty to do, but small enough that you can walk to most places. Located on the River Guadalquivir, it's an ancient city with history as far back as the Romans and 500 years of dominance by the Moors. In the early 1500s, Seville began a trade monopoly with the Americas and eventually became the richest city in Spain. Today, it's a modern thriving city with a rich history to be explored. There's much to see for everyone, but these are my favorite places.

Reales Alcazares (The Alcazar) is a lavish14th century Moorish fort with beautiful gardens, incredible tilework and gorgeously ornate rooms. The Alcazar is one of the most amazing buildings in all of Spain and is one of the finest examples of mudejar architecture. It even has a chapel where Christopher Columbus met with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella after one of his voyages to the New World. Don't miss the gardens as they are huge, and have been added onto over the years so they are in several different styles, but all are beautiful. The gardens also have a maze, which is great
fun for the kids. It's open Tuesday thru Saturday from 9:30am to 5pm and Sunday, 9:30 am to 1:30pm.

Barrio de Santa Cruz is the old Jewish ghetto and is very popular with tourists. It's absolutely packed with bars and restaurants, and its winding streets and gorgeous patios are fabulous for photo taking. There are many shops where you can buy typical tourist items, but there are also some fascinating craft stores with Spanish pottery, glass, tapestry and much more. Don't miss the Mateas Gago where you will find tons of tapas bars (tapas are Spanish bar snacks). Grab lunch here. There's nothing better than a cold beer and a few plates of olives, fish, spaghetti and bread dipped in olive
oil and balsamic vinegar.
The Giralda is the world-famous landmark of Seville. It's the minaret of an old mosque that was once built to be the most beautiful building on the face of the earth. The tower is enormous, but you can take a leisurely climb to the top up 35 gently sloping ramps. At the top, you will have an astounding view out over the city.

Isla de la Cartuja is a science and leisure park that was the site of the 1992 World Expo. The Seafaring Museum is here as well as the popular Isla Magica theme park. Isla Magica is based on 16th century Spain and has seven different sections, all exploring different episodes in Spanish history. The El Jaguar Roller Coaster is awesome and the shows at the Pirates Cove are fabulous for kids. There is also the old monastery at Isla de la Cartuja, which has now been converted into a modern art center. This is where Christopher Columbus stayed when he was in Seville and where you can see his personal archive.

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza. Considered one of the best bullrings in Spain, Seville's Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is an enormous whitewashed building that is also the site of the Bullfighting Museum. You can see posters of famous bullfights, paintings of bullfighters, and even bulls heads. Orson Wells came to this bullfighting ring to learn how to bullfight back in the 1960s. You can also see a professional bullfight here, if you have the stomach for it, as they are held several times a week Paseo de Colón, 12 -

Also don't miss the Archaeological Museum, the Hospital de la Caridad (whose original founder is said to be Don Juan) and the Casa de Pilatos, the copy of Pontius Pilates house in Jerusalem. And don't forget, at night, Seville has a great clubbing scene, fabulous bars and amazing restaurants. Not only is Seville one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, it's also one of the most interesting

it makes me so sad

...some collect stamps, I collect ballet experience...after I got off the plane in Madrid, I spent a night watching Corella Ballet Castilla y Leon's premiere of La Bayadere in Teatro Real (Royal Theatre). The theatre is located in front of the Palacio Real. The monarch has moved to the more modest Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid, but the Royal Place is still used for state occasions. some time at the end of the journey, I witnessed on the metro screen a catholic funeral for the victimes of the devastated plane crash - although many Spaniards questioned: why catholic funeral?
La Bayadere (The Temple Dancer) was originally choreographed by the ballet master Marius Petipa (Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake,...) to the music of Ludwig Minkus (Don Quixote, Le Papillon, ...). it took place in an exotic and ancient locale of India - ideal vehicle for spectacular dances and lavish decor. the subjects are to be of the romantic ballet tradition - melo-dramas involving a love triangle of some sort. at the end of the rather tragic story, the shades of the lovers are reunited in an apotheosis and spirited off toward the high Himalayas...when Rudolf Nureiev last staged La Bayadere in Paris 1992 before he died from AIDS, it broke many's hearts...
among today's young virtuosos is the founder of the company, Spanish ballet dancer Angel Corella (winner of Grand Prix and Gold Medal 1994). it was a treat to watch him playing the leading role Solor. Although I found the leading females were all the principal dancers from ABT - Paloma Herrera as Nikiya, Gilian Murphy as Gamzatti, it was an mature production in full overall. here's a clip of Angle Corella dancing another difficult role Bronze Idol in La Bayadere to appreciate his virtuoso.
then, my journey took a turn to the south. the Spanish novelist Pio Baroja verdicted that half the idiocies about the Spanish soul have been invented by foreigners, the other half by Spaniards themselves. I tried to distinguish which is which. my new friend sitting next to the table said, 'siesta is a myth. flamenco is only originated from the southern region, Andalusia.' and I am blessed to have my virgin live flamenco experience taken place in Los Gallos, an over 40 yrs old tablao (flamenco club) in seville, the cultural capital of Andalusia.
I think it is important to watch this form of arts in such a small cozy traditional setting, where the dancing (baile), singing (cante), guitar (toque), the facial expressions and body gestures all came together and gave me such a moving thrill - sometimes happy sometimes sad...in my desperate desire to understand it, I found there're so many genres (palos) of flamenco. 'For example,' my Spanish friend filled me in, ' This song of Camaron de la Isla is of Bulerías, which is rather sad. The lyrics says:
        It makes me so sad,
        it makes me so sad.
        The bridge always stays,
        while water goes away.

        Grandparents, parents and uncles.
        Grandparents, parents and uncles.
        From good springs
        you obtain good rivers.
        Grandparents, parents and uncles.'
it makes me so sad, it makes me so sad...that my journey does not last forever...
A big fan

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Monday, September 15, 2008

No Color Water Drink

I was at the gym the other day and decided to stop at their Health-Bar before leaving for a glass of juice or something. The girl behind the counter asked me if I wanted to try something new. And she handed me a bottle.

It looked like a regular bottle of water. Clear. Presumably tasteless. Zero calories. I mean its water, right? I told her I didn't really want water per se. Maybe carrot juice? No, no. She replied. "You gotta try this stuff" as she cracked open the plastic container and handed it to me. "It's vitamin water!" I took a closer look at the bottle. The labeled said "Juice" and the logo was exploding out of a bolt of lightening. I took a sip. Well, what will they think of next. Looks like water, tastes like fruit bunch and what's more it was "mega-vitamin" enriched. It also cost $3 a bottle.

I picked up a few more bottles and headed home. Vitamin water. I'm not sure what they call it in the States. It's not Gatorade. Gatorade replenishes your minerals when you sweat a lot. It's not Red Bull. Red Bull just makes me want to drive all the way to New York from LA without stopping. No. This was definitely different.

I hadn't noticed this product before. But it started turning up all over (or had already been on the market. Must have been three or four brands with names like Crush, Formula One and others. I hadn't realized that getting your daily recommended dose of vitamins was that difficult. Or that you needed to coax kids or athletes into taking them. Apparently vitamin water is the way to go. A shortage of vitamins in our every day diets is one of the most serious
problems in modern medicine.

It's no surprise that a lot of vitamins and minerals get boiled out of
food during meal preparation. So one of the most effective methods of ensuring the intake of vitamins in a diet is the use of vitamin-enriched food and drinks. Vitamin water can be jam packed with all the vitamins and minerals and other supplements your body desires and we the consumer don't even realize it. Why not exclude the fake flavor and just leave it as "water"? I looked at the table of contents on the bottle and could not believe the list of ingredients. Recommended daily doses of vitamins C, B and D. Vitamin C improve the immune system and overall health and circulation in the body. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12 have a versatile effect on the nervous system, skin and hair. Vitamin D more often is included in composition of children's products as it is one of most important vitamins for preventive maintenance of rickets and fragile bones. I thought Flintstone vitamins covered all these bases, but maybe they just are "cool" anymore, you know how consumers are.

What I noticed wasn't included in the water was any type of caffeine or caffeine by-products. It would have made sense as I was in a gym. Athletes have been drinking that kind of thing for years.

But no. This was just vitamin-enriched water.

I couldn't resist a little experimentation. Why spend all this money on what is basically water? So I took an empty bottle of "Formula One", filled it up with regular water and dissolved one of my daughter's "one-a-day", cherry-flavored vitamins in it. Shook it up really good. Let it sit for a while. Took a sip. Tasted about the same! You want to out-think the 'ol man you better get out of bed real early, pal.

I put the bottle in the refrigerator.

Two hours later my daughter came home from dance class. She headed straight to the kitchen. Opened the fridge. Took the bottle. Chugged it down in 4 or 5 big gulps.

Suddenly her face soured. She turned to me. "What the heck did you do to this, stuff?" It tastes like my vitamins!

Back to the drawing board.

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..y yo por esos olores primo me muero.

every time I'm back from a trip, it feels like afternoon ocean in front...
...I found my trip to spain a culinary pleasure
...choose at random a fancy restaurant, a humble tavern, or a roadside bar anywhere
...and I'm surprised by the quality of the food :)
...blessed with the extraordinary products from the sea and the land,

spaniards invented tapas - little bites sampling,
or rather - a way of life...
...from tiny villages to big cities, people from all walks of life congregate and sample food,
while wine poured into small glasses from a flask raised high in the air...
...by those prime smells I dwell...:)

los muchachos de mi barrio. (the boys of my neighborhood)

las vecinas de mi calle
hacen lentejas
que si las quieres las tomas
y si no las dejas,

también huele a veces
a potaje y puchero
y yo por esos olores
primo me muero.
walking on the street
I can feel your presence there

A big fan 

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TV Commercial... Anymore??

Not that long ago a TV commercial went like this: the product was presented', for example coffee, and so the TV screen filled with the product. The voice said something like: "buy this coffee" and if that wasn't clear enough, big letters appeared saying "buy this coffee". So that there was absolutely no mistake what this commercial was about.

These days I spend quite a lot of time trying to work out what the commercial is actually selling me. Probably something I don't want or need anyway, but that doesn't matter. Millions were spent on the silliest commercials. The vaguer the message, the more un-usable the product, it seems. The dancing, the singing, the stars hired to convince us that they are absolutely delighted to use this stuff have not convinced me at all to buy the product or use the service. On the contrary, I will never buy such a product. I see right through all the smiles and I doubt that "the stars" use this product themselves.

If there was a category for "Scariest Commercial Ever" it would be the Revlon one. The lovely and very beautiful Selma Hayek has a cats-tail stuck on her eye-lids! When I first saw this commercial I nearly fainted from fright. This commercial was about a new mascara, and you get, as by miracle, eyelashes of such a size that they nearly drag over the floor! On Selma they looked like fur, her eyes almost hidden behind this bush.

Other totally ridiculous commercials involve lip gloss that never comes off. The models kiss these gorgeous guys without discrimination, and right as rain, the guys are not covered in goo. But I think that after a bit of serious canoodling a guy will look as if he has traipsed through a field of over-ripe tomatoes. And if he does it with someone like Selma, I'm truly dreading to think what he will look like. Now, it seems there is a new anti-wrinkle cream made from snails. They re-assured us in the earlier commercials that it was not the actual snail they are using; the snails are fine. But where are all these home-less snails then? Where do they snuggle up at night? After 30 minutes of jubilant ladies extolling the product I still didn't know if that would take care of my crows-feet. I detected some hesitancy about (finally) announcing the price as well.

Food-commercials must be the worst. How much can you really eat? And I cannot work out, most of the time, whether it is about meat, chicken or something else. Can't they just show a cow and say: "Buy meat, price $). Now that would make my life a lot easier, and the commercial shorter. It would also be a lot cheaper to make, no stars being in attendance.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Night Games

Family game nights are a great way to spend time with the kids but it is important to find a game that everyone will enjoy. There are some really great games out there with mass appeal that all members of the family will enjoy and stay entertained while playing. The following are great family night games for you to try.

Apples to Apples is a great game for the growing family. This
game requires at least four players and can accommodate up to six. If there are more children younger than 12 there is a version for younger children, Apples to Apples Junior, that can be played instead. I like this game because even the youngest children will enjoy it and it will still keep the older kids thinking and involved. The point of this family game is to convince a judge that the noun/adjective pairing your team has made is the most suitable.

Ticket to Ride is a great strategy game for 2-5 players and recommended for ages 8 and up. Players have to build as many rail lines as they can across the USA and think a few steps ahead because they never know what route their opponents will be taking.

Cranium Family Fun Game is a great all around game because the tasks are so varied so everyone will find something to become entertained about. This game generally lasts around an hour and is great for four or more players. To advance on the board each player must do a specific task and they are so varied and easy to do that everyone will be jumping for a turn.

Twister Moves is a great spin on the regular Twister and sure to be a hit with the kids. This game is meant for ages 8 and up and each game lasts around 20 minutes. I like this because it makes the kids active, a good way to get rid of that pent up energy the
kids have bottled in them. This version of twister has routines set to music and each child has to follow along on the dots.
You're Pulling My Leg is a great game for the family because it involves memories and events in each others lives that families sometimes need to be reminded of. After playing this game the
family members will have learned so much about each other and an added bonus, you will get better at knowing when one if the
kids is fibbing. This game involves sharing things about yourself with the other players but a secret roll of the dice determines wether the truth or a fib will be told. It is up to the other players to determine what is the truth and what is not.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Memorable TV Commercials

Football is not just the only reason why many people watch the Super Bowl on their televisions. People not just watch the football game but during the breaks they watch the commercials as well. Many big corporations and companies compete to get even a few minutes of commercial time. Millions of dollars are spent on these commercials. Big companies and corporations know that the Super Bowl broadcast is the biggest way to advertise to millions of people. During the past ten years these commercials have gotten creative, political, funny, sexual, and some get media attention. Companies and Corporations make these commercial memorable so the consumer can remember their product especially since millions of people are watching. Some commercials relate to football and others have different methods of selling a product.

Every year the commercials get more creative and outrageous to compete and advertise a product. What will the 2009 Super Bowl commercials bring? As of yet we do not know, but if we take a look back at the past commercials of the decade we can see what we may be in stored for. Here are 10 of the most memorable Super Bowl Commercials of the decade.

# 10 Mascots Commercial advertising MasterCard 2005

In this commercial you see many food mascots including the Pillsbury dough boy, the chef from Chef Boyardee, the Vlasie Stork, Star-Kist tuna, the jolly green Giant and Mr. Clean. All of these icons are eating dinner together and this is one of MasterCard's Priceless commercial. It definitely was cute, and MasterCard also were able to advertise all the products of different food companies by showing off their mascots.

# 9 Toasted or Untoasted Commercial advertising Quiznos 2002

This commercial is advertising Quiznos. A lady is sitting in front of a toasted and untoasted Sub; she picks the wrong one and gets shot by a dart.

# 8 Castaway Commercial advertising FedEx 2003

A castaway returns a package that he found with him on his island. He did not open the package returning it to the person that was supposed to receive it. The recipient opens it in front of him and reveals a cell phone and seeds. This commercial is very funny.
# 7 Candy Commercial advertising M&M 2002

A guy checks into a hotel and waiting in his room is a big complimentary talking red M&M

# 6 Rock, Paper, Scissors Commercial advertising Bud light 2007

Two men play Rock, Paper, and Scissors to win the last Bud Light. The man you plays rock literately throws a rock at the other man and wins the Bud Light.

# 5 Ford Hybrid: Kermit the Frog Commercial for Ford 2006

Kermit the Frog rides his big through rough terrain, kayaks, and climbs a mountain using transportation that is environmentally friendly saying it's not easy being green. He then reaches the top of the mountain to find the Ford Hybrid and all its features and then says maybe it is easy to be green.

# 4 Horny Talking Monkey Commercial for Bud Light 2004

A horny talking monkey is shown to a guys date

# 3 Checkout Girl Commercial advertising Doritos 2007

A Doritos checkout girl gets seductively excited over Doritos flavors while checking out a customer

# 2 Marketing commercial advertising GoDaddy.com 2007

This commercial is showing a marketing office with a bunch of sexy girls in the room

# 1 Kiss commercial advertising snickers 2007

Two men eat the same snickers and share in a kiss. This commercial got media attention by gay rights activist.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I am a HUNGRY MAN! :)

I'll admit it. I've always had a large appetite. One of the ways I'm able to satisfy my large appetite is by eating Hungry-Man TV Dinners. Hungry-Man TV Dinners make a great, quick lunch. There's also several different flavors available, meaning that anyone can find a flavor that they'll enjoy. If you're worried about the quality of Hungry-Man TV Dinners, don't be. Hungry-Man TV Dinners are made by Swanson who actually made the first TV dinners.

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook big meals. But, since I work from home, I often eat Hungry-Man TV Dinners because they are quick and easy to prepare. Also, Hungry-Man TV Dinners are very affordable. You actually get 1 pound of food in Hungry-Man TV Dinners, but they only cost around $3 to 4. You can also find Hungry-Man TV Dinners on sale for under $2. If you're looking for a quick meal that will satisfy a huge appetite, this is the TV dinner for you.

Top 5 Flavors of Hungry-Man TV Dinners #1: Chicken Burrito

My absolute favorite flavor of Hungry-Man TV Dinners is the Chicken Burrito meal. This meal comes with a burrito that is stuffed with spicy shredded chicken. The top of the burrito has a delicious cheese sauce. Under the burrito is a bed of Spanish rice. Of course, this meal wouldn't be complete without refried beans and a delicious dessert. This meal also features an authentic Mexican dessert called Cocada pudding, which is like coconut custard.

Top 5 Flavors of Hungry-Man TV Dinners #2: Boneless Fried Chicken

Another one of my favorites is the Boneless Fried Chicken Hungry-Man TV Dinner. This meal comes with two large pieces of boneless fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and chocolate pudding. If you
love fried chicken this is the meal for you. I do suggest you serve this meal with a couple pieces of bread or a roll.

Top 5 Flavors of Hungry-Man TV Dinners #3: Buffalo Style Chicken Strips
I love spicy food and the Buffalo Style Chicken Strips Hungry-Man TV Dinners really satisfies my craving for something spicy. This meal comes with buffalo style chicken strips, crinkle cut fries, corn, and a brownie. I do suggest serving this meal with either ranch of bleu cheese dressing to help cut the heat.

Top 5 Flavors of Hungry-Man TV Dinners #4: Classic Fried Chicken

Another meal that you'll love, if you're a fan of fried chicken, is the Classic Fried Chicken Hungry-Man TV Dinner. This meal is a must if you love Southern food. This meal comes with white and dark meat fried chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, and apple-cranberry crumb dessert. All this meal needs to be complete is a couple rolls.

Top 5 Flavors of Hungry-Man TV Dinners #5: Beer Battered Chicken and Cheese Fries

Another great flavor of Hungry-Man TV Dinners is the Beer Battered Chicken and Cheese Fries. This meal is great if you're watching a
football game or a movie. The meal comes with around 5 beer battered chicken fingers and potatoes wedges that are covered in a delicious cheese sauce.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Great NFL players that could...

These are the NFL players who retired too soon. These guys still had enough in the tank to play a season or two more. I am not talking about players who quit over injuries; they just walked away too soon. Here is my list in order of who should have played longer. 

1- Jim Brown- He set all the major NFL career rushing records for the Browns. He ran for 12,312 yards and 106 rushing touchdowns. He did this in only 9 seasons in fewer games per season as today's players, and he never missed any of his 119 games. He was the most dominate running back in the history of the game. Teams gang tackled him, and planned their defense to try to stop him and couldn't. The sad thing is, that Jim quit to be an actor, and then when it looked like Franco Harris would break his record, he threatened a comeback in his 40's. If he had played 2 or 3 more seasons he wouldn't have had to worry about it. In 1965 his last
season he ran for 1,544 yards a 5.3 per carry average and 17 touchdowns (in 14 games) and added 34 receptions for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. He could easily played 3 or 4 more seasons in top form, barring injury.

2- Barry Sanders-He retired in his prime, less than 1,500 yards short of Walter Payton's career rushing record. Barry was so elusive that he was seldom injured and I believe he could easily added 2 or 3 more seasons. He was possibly the most exciting, big play threat to ever play the position. He ended up with 15,269 yards 5.0 yards per carry average and 99 touchdowns. In his last season he rushed for 1,491 yards a 4.3 average and 4 touchdowns adding 37 receptions for 289 yards, this shows he could have played 2 or 3 more good seasons if he wanted to.
3-John Elway- Yeah he played a long time at quarterback for The Broncos but he left a season or two too soon. He left on his own terms on top with 2 Super Bowl wins in a row and as good as
Denver was, he could have had 3. He ended up with 51,475 yards passing and 300 touchdowns as well as 3,407 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns. His last season he passed for 2,806 yards and an amazing 22 touchdowns to only 10 interception ratio. This is a very important qb stat. When Quarterbacks are old and have shot their wad they throw many more interceptions than touchdowns.

4- Roger Staubach- Yeah he was 37 when he retired. But his naval service took 4 years from his career, in which he wasn't getting hammered. He only played in 131 games for the Cowboys and he was still good when he walked away. His last season he threw for 3,586 yards 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (remember old worn out qbs throw more picks than tds) and he also ran for 172 yards. Danny White took the team to the NFC championship game 2 or 3 seasons in a row to lose after Roger retired. Roger would have gone to at least 2 more Super Bowls and won them with that team had he kept playing.

5- Joe Montana, another one with a long career but his injury
problems had gone away with the Chiefs and he was still playing at a high level. As a Chiefs fan it really hurt me to see him walk away. His last season he threw for 3,283 yards 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. And he still had the same ole come from behind magic. He could have played at least one more season.