Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Internet Friendship Diet

Lately, I've packed on one or two pounds due to uncontrollable eating and a lazy factor that puts even the greatest couch enthusiast in the world to shame.
I've exercised lately – about 3 times last week – but I can't help but feel like I'm still not doing enough. So here's what's going down, kiddies.
A while ago, the great sportswriter and blogger Drew Magary made headlines with his fantastic new idea to lose weight: the Twitter Humiliation Diet. Every day, Drew would tweet his weight for all to see. By abandoning his privacy, Drew worked diligently and eventually reached his target weight. It was a rousing success that spawned multiple imitators and scored Drew a bit of fame in the process.
I want to do something like that. I've tweeted my weight before, but not nearly as consistently as Drew did. I wanted to try something a little different.
I know a lot of people. And a lot of these people are hilarious. And best of all, I'm 100% certain all of these people love to talk smack and laugh. So I'm going to harness as much of their creative energy as I can as a motivational tool to keep going.
Starting today, I am going to work out every day. Every. Day. Running, lifting, whatever – it won't matter, as long as I get 30 minutes of some sustained physical activity in every day. And when I'm done with that physical activity, I am going to report what I did in a Facebook post and a tweet.
Sometimes, though, I will not. And here's where you, my friends, readers and followers, come in.
If, by 4:00 pm Pacific, I have not yet posted about my workout, you, my most loving cavalcade of acquaintances, can rip me to shreds with the most vile, hateful, soul-crushing and hilarious insults you can possibly concoct. Post it on my wall, tweet it at me, post a comment here, whichever you prefer. I'm not asking you to be nice. Destroy my very being with your words.
As a bonus, I'm also going to post an update whenever I eat fast food or dine out. You can pretty much tell where I'm going with this – when I eat fast food, you can also slash away with your hurtful, hurtful words. This will probably happen a lot at first, so be ready.
I was going to go with only fat jokes at first, but really, I don't want to limit anybody. I think you guys would work the best if you could branch out into any of my plentiful flaws.
I figure we'll get a couple of good laughs out of it, and it'll be an excellent way for me to shed pounds before beach season. I'm sick of people gathering in crowds so they can push me back into the water to rejoin my pod. See? There's the inaugural joke to get thinks kicked off!
I've decided with a highly appropriate name for all of this: the Internet Friendship Diet. Because I'm certain you'll all be doing this purely out of your concern for my health and overall well-being. Well aren't you guys nice!
So get ready, guys and gals – your chance to verbally assault me can come at any moment.
To be sporting, I'll let you guys take a few practice swings in the Comments section below. Bring the vitriol, you peasants!
To become friends on Facebook, click here.
Follow me on Twitter here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super smokin': BBQ brisket and spare ribs

I love football, and I love barbecue. Naturally, you'd think I'd combine the two at some point. Well guess what? I did today!
I'm not exactly a pit master, but I can say I'm pretty handy with outdoor cooking. It's a fun, productive hobby capable of producing some great-tasting results.
In my short BBQ career, I've tried brisket twice, and each attempt yielded horrendous results. The first came out burnt to a crisp, and the second came out too rare and as tough as a rubber tire. Both attempts were on a propane grill. It's certainly possible to properly cook a brisket on a propane grill, but it is also incredibly difficult. I was in over my head.
I wasn't quite ready to quit, though, and over the years I've made it a personal mission to make a brisket that didn't taste like hobo feet.
I got my chance today. It took days of mental preparation, making sure I knew exactly which ingredients to use and even buying myself a Weber kettle grill to make sure I could follow most of the recipes perfectly. I ordered a combination meat/oven thermometer in order to make sure I had the right temperature on the grill, as well. Let's make it simple: I went all-out to make sure I didn't screw this up. I even started cooking at 4am so it would finish cooking in time for the game.
In case you didn't notice, brisket is a very difficult meat to cook right. You need to cook it over low heat for a long time (“low and slow” as the Good Old Boys tend to call it), spritzing or basting the meat with apple juice or a beer mop every half hour or so to keep it moist. All the while, you've got to make sure the temperature stays within a fairly specific range. When you buy a brisket, you're entering a very high-maintenance relationship for a few brutal hours.
The most difficult part is keeping the temperature regulated, which can be absolutely maddening. The best way to go about keeping the temperature stable varies depending on how much of which type of charcoal you use. You need to experiment a LOT to get it exactly right.
The key to slow-cooking on a grill is the indirect heating method. This technique involves placing your coals on only one side of the grill and a water pan on the other. The water pan shields the meat from direct heat while the evaporated water keeps the roast moist.
For the rub, I simply used one of those McCormick pre-made rubs available at the grocery store. A neat (and kind of surprising) trick I found was that many pit masters cover their brisket with mustard before actually applying the rub. It helps the rub stick to the meat while cooking. I tried it out, and it really did help the rub stick pretty well.
The rub combined with regular application of the mop create a delicious, dark crust around the brisket.
While the meat cooked, I used a special dark beer mop recipe I found here. The BBQ Pit Boys are a pretty awesome resource for recipes and BBQ how-tos, especially for beginners.
Here's the mop recipe, if you're interested:
12 oz. Beer of your choice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp pepper
The recipe yields a sweet, tangy sauce that really livens up the brisket. I'm tempted to put it on everything I eat from now on.
Long story short, the brisket took a lot of work and a whole lot of time, but I think I did pretty well this time around.
It's edible! Yay!
I also smoked some ribs, which turned out to be much more complicated than I anticipated. I put them on the old standby, the propane grill, and used aluminum foil to wrap the wood chips for smoking. You're supposed to put your grill on the lowest heat setting possible to let the ribs cook slowly. Unfortunately, that heat setting was TOO low, so they were still nearly raw when I took them out of the propane grill after 3 hours of cooking. I stuck them on the charcoal grill instead, and everything turned out fine.
I wish I had stuck these on the Weber from the beginning.
Oh, and the Giants won.
For more fantastic barbecue tips, check out Meathead's amazingribs.com. He's got plenty of information for novices and pit masters alike.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

LSAT, the wacky NFL, and the MLB Playoffs

Today is cold and rainy, and I’m one of those few psychopaths who actually enjoy this kind of weather. I get nostalgic for some reason; it could be because I always look forward to Thanksgiving and the holiday season. It really is my favorite time of the year.
I decided a few weeks ago that I would take a chance with my life and apply to law school. Let me make one thing clear, here: it’s not something I’m pursuing on a whim. I’m not going about preparing for it willy-nilly, either. I’m going at it full-force. It’s certainly very late in the application cycle to get started on something so big, but I can guarantee I’m putting my all into it.
In fact, I think I may have overdone it these first few weeks. At first, I could get through whatever material I had in front of me without much of an issue. But now, I can’t get through half a page without dozing off. So as a result, I think it would be prudent to adjust my schedule a little bit and take a couple of breaks during the day. I’m far enough along in the material that I can be a little more relaxed about it.
I wonder if it’s true that all lawyers go to hell.
Meanwhile, I’m balancing a couple of community college classes to help keep my mind fresh. They’re a little easy, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at. College is college, after all.
Now that I’ve got all that boring crap out of the way, I can move on to what really matters – my poor, pitiful Pittsburgh Steelers.
The last thing you want to do is count out a team, no matter how bad they look. But right now, it’s not looking good for Pittsburgh. The offensive line is in shambles; as a result, both the running game and Ben Roethlisberger have taken a sizeable beating. And with the offense unable to really sustain any drives, the defense is getting gassed a lot more quickly.
Let’s get one thing right, though. The Steelers looked helpless when defending against the run on Sunday. The Texans’ offensive line is nothing to sneeze at, and Arian Foster is an absolute monster. The obvious explanation is that the Texans are simply the better team. I’m sure I’ll have a hard time finding anyone who would argue otherwise.
With the Steelers banged up and terrible, I initially anticipated I wouldn’t really enjoy the NFL all that much this year. But 2011 really has proven to be one of the more unpredictable and exciting years in recent memory.
Yes, there are those teams we expected to do well – the Green Bays, the New Englands and others – that have failed to surprise us. But for the most part, the league is in a state of chaos. Buffalo is at a shocking 3-1, Detroit is undefeated through four weeks, and the Eagles, whom many trumpeted as the preseason NFC champion, are at a shocking 1-3.
It’s years like these that let me focus more on the league as a whole instead of only the Steelers and those few non-Steeler players on my fantasy teams. And really, I emerge from these kinds of seasons for the better, either by learning a little more about the league as a whole or not getting so upset over my favorite team’s performance (or lack thereof).
Should the Steelers find a way to pick things up, I’d be all for it. But until then, I’ll sit back and enjoy the three-ring circus that is the 2011 NFL season. I can’t wait to see how messed up the playoffs will look.
Baseball, for now at least, is pretty much dead to me. The Angels once again had a tremendously disappointing season, culminating in the long-overdue resignation of GM Tony Reagins and his cronies. But never mind them – I’ve had plenty of time to get over that.
The main reason I can’t really follow the MLB playoffs too closely is that there are very few moments I can conceive that would surpass the last day of the regular season. Time and time again, I look back on that day and shake my head in disbelief. What occurred on that day was something you’d only expect to see at the end of some sappy Disney movie.
I’m not going to go through it all here – I had a much better take on it here. But I can’t possibly imagine any moment involving these seven remaining clubs that would be somehow more memorable than the combined collapses of Boston and Atlanta last Wednesday. I wouldn’t mind seeing Texas or the Yankees go out in heartbreaking fashion. I know I'm not in the minority there.
Big day tomorrow. I scheduled a self-administered practice LSAT in the morning, so we’ll see how that turns out. It will be the first of many.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to Football

I might get sued for using that title. I'll keep you updated.
Well, after what seemed like an eternity of waiting and uncertainty, the NFL finally began its 2011 regular season schedule.
The Steelers apparently didn't get the memo. They played one of the sloppiest football games I've ever seen them play and went down by a 35-7 final tally. It was a disgusting display, capped by 7 Steeler turnovers and a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Ike Taylor that nearly led to an on-field riot in Baltimore. Luckily, it's only Week 1, and the Steelers have a lot of time to improve before they face the Ravens again in Pittsburgh. I'm hoping it was simply too hot and humid for Pittsburgh to function properly in their black home uniforms. We'll see.
Even with my favorite team's sub-par start to the season, I'm glad to see football back in full swing. There's simply something special about it I can't really define. It could be that it heralds the oncoming fall and winter seasons, or sending off the summer as it nears the end. Whatever the case, I get a little more spring in my step knowing that the weekend will bring with it the joys of America's game.
After watching my Steelers roll over, I had the pleasure of watching the Vikings visit the Chargers in one hell of an exciting game. I hope to see a lot of games like that one over the next few months.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

And now we play the waiting game

Well, let the hype begin. Nintendo held a barn burner of a press conference today, setting ablaze buzz all over the internet.
What wound up dominating discussion of the presser was their unveiling of the upcoming Wii U, a completely new (and interestingly named) console. The system features a controller the likes of which we've never seen before, with a six inch HD screen and cameras. At first, I was horrorstruck when I thought that the thing to which Nintendo fans have been eagerly looking forward turned out to be nothing but a new controller. But Nintendo kind of botched the whole presentation, never once mentioning an actual game console. There actually is a game system to which the controller will be connected. The company chose instead to focus primarily on the revolutionary new controller. It didn't help that the unveiling began with a video of people playing a game that looks nearly identical to New Super Mario Bros. Wii using Wii remotes. As it turns out, the upcoming system will be fully backwards compatible with Wii games and peripherals, saving Wii owners the expense of going out to buy new controllers. And the game featured in the unveiling was New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which allows players to play the game using their own Wii avatars.
Once I got over the shock of thinking it was only a controller, I realized more and more what fantastic implications the device had for the gaming community.  One of the great things that have been confirmed about the Wii U is the ability to play games entirely on the controller if someone else wants to use the TV. There were also situations in which players pointed the controller at the TV screen, and, using the camera and HD display mounted into the controller, were able to zoom in on certain areas on the screen. It really does boggle my mind when I think about the possibilities. As of now, we still know very little about the device.
For a second, I thought I was going to get over not being able to get my hands on a Nintendo 3DS when I feasted my eyes upon the Wii U's fantastic features. However, right after the unveiling of the Wii U, Nintendo had a knockout punch of an announcement, including a new Mario Kart, Super Mario 3D, Luigi's Mansion 2, and plenty more. All of a sudden, the 3DS's paltry lineup has been loaded up with star power. And I'm going to go crazy waiting for it all.
EDIT 6:33PM: How the hell could I forget about this! Nintendo president Satoru Iwata dropped hints that Smash Bros. may be on the way for both the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, and there will be some sort of connectivity between the two versions! That was my favorite moment of the conference.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Excited for E3, the BGE, and an appearance on 1340AM

Tomorrow is one of the few days of the year that I look forward to like a child awaiting Christmas. At 9am PST tomorrow, Nintendo is going to hold its annual press conference at the E3 Expo, which is the biggest video game press event of the year. Microsoft and Sony both held theirs today, and they were both impressive, but the one event in which I am truly invested is Nintendo's. There are a couple of things I am expecting to see which I won't share here purely because they are rumors. I'm hoping for at least one thing I won't see coming at all.
It has been well established that Nintendo will unveil their newest home console, which I understand will be called the "Current." The name's a little less silly than "Wii," but I'm sure it'll be subject to ridicule here and there. Its mysterious controller has been the subject of much speculation, along with a few rumored launch titles.
Also confirmed to be unveiled is the newest handheld Mario game, which I understand will be a derivative of Super Mario Galaxy. I absolutely loved both Mario Galaxy games, so I expect to be wowed with this one.
I've been watching too much Food Network lately, and I've become a fast fan of celebrity chef Bobby Flay. He's all about the barbecue, and that's been a personal obsession of mine for about a year now. I mentioned to my dad this weekend that I was thinking of building our very own BBQ smoker the way they do it in the South, which wound up being a mistake. Dad mentioned he'd rather purchase a "Big Green Egg" grill, which I had only heard by name until that point. I looked it up, and boy, is it an impressive and versatile piece of cookware. I keep thinking about all of the food we'd be able to grill and smoke with one of those babies, and it makes my mouth water. I really, REALLY want one. The main problem, though, is the $700 price tag for the most popular model. That price tag doesn't include the separate stand, either. It does include plans on how to build a rather convenient-looking table. With Mom recently losing her job, though, it seems out of the question now.
It looks like I'll be headed back to school for at least a semester in an effort to fend off my loan payments a little longer. Normally, the loans wouldn't be an issue, but with my mother's aforementioned loss of a job, it's the least I can do to help keep expenses down. This, of course, is assuming I don't wind up with a paying job before then. Better safe than sorry.
I've been graciously offered an opportunity to appear in an interview on the radio! The details haven't quite been worked out yet, but I'll be talking Angels over the phone with Steve Bortstein of Fox Sports Radio 1340AM in New Mexico. Stay tuned for more details! I'm excited!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Amos Song's new blog!

Hey! My friend Amos has officially started his personal blog, The Amos Song Variety Show! Check it out, will you?
I might have something new up in the next day or so. Probably a rant about how maddening it is to watch these 2011 Angels.