The Astronaut Farmer

I watched this on a bus. I can’t imagine anyone voluntarily watching this movie. I’m giving it one star because it is, technically, a motion picture.

The Astronaut Farmer is either (a) the worst movie ever made, or (b) a deeply mischievous dark comedy about a monstrously selfish man and the hell that his monomaniacal obsession puts his family through.

The best part? When his rocket fails hilariously the first time he tries to launch it. Ha! Ha ha ha. Ha. I was totally rooting for J. K. Simmons’s cartoonishly sinister FAA director. (Yes. That’s right. In this movie, the bad guy is the cartoonishly sinister FAA director played by J. K. Simmons. Virginia Madsen and Bruce Willis also manage to embarrass themselves in this movie.)

Whoever wrote it should seek professional help. It had everything! Comic relief from the FBI guys with bad mustaches, smirking government bureaucrats, and even that old hoary staple of lazy writers looking for a way to signify that it’s their protagonist against the world: the evil child protective services lady!

Sadly, Billy Bob Thornton’s character lives at the end (OMG! Spoiler alert!), despite the fact that his homemade space ship stops working when it, like, passes near a satellite? Or something? It wasn’t entirely clear, but somehow putting his wedding ring on made the radio work again.

To call this movie an insult to my intelligence would be an insult to insults to my intelligence. Even the title makes no sense! He’s not a farmer. He’s a rancher! Farmer’s his last name! Gahahsdafhasdfhadshfsdhfasdhfjlj hatesplosion.

The Astronaut Farmer

There’s Got To Be A Story There

And in local news…

A couple living on America Way has been charged in connection with a raid in which Jamestown and Narragansett police seized 1½ pounds of marijuana, three guns and materials used in the packaging of marijuana for distribution.

The police said Michael Netro, 54, and his wife, Erin Netro, 26, were each charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in Friday’s raid.

Drugs, guns, and a 28-year age difference? I bet they had an interesting wedding.

There’s Got To Be A Story There

Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was a big day. For one thing, it was my first day of school. Hooray for school! I’m feeling more educated already.

However, yesterday was also my third wedding anniversary. Yes, three years ago this morning Rachel and I were jumping in a lake. Three years might not seem that long, but since we’d been dating for seven years before we got married, 2007 is in some senses our tenth anniversary, which seems like a biggish deal. Just like last year, we decided to have a nice dinner in rather than a nice dinner out, and so I turned to my fanciest cookbook, The Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky.

(This is a really cool book, by the way. I picked it up for a song at a used bookstore in Northampton, and every recipe in it is guaranteed to impress the hell out of your guests. Last night was my second time making a recipe from the book: about a year ago I made the Braised Short Ribs of Beef with an Aromatic Barbecue Sauce. I’m kicking myself that there are no pictures of that meal, since the recipe is four damn pages long and people seemed to like it.)

We got another ridiculous haul of incredible tomatoes from Ledge Ends, so it was clear they’d be involved. I happened to flip the book open to:

Two-Tomato Coulis with Three Basils

Except here’s the thing: I couldn’t find purple basil, or basil flowers, but I did have a bag of fresh Ledge Ends green basil, so I just made:

Two-Tomato Coulis with One Rather Delicious Basil

Two-Tomato Coulis Two-Tomato Coulis

The recipe for this is pretty ludicrously simple. Just chuck a whole bunch of red cherry tomatoes in a blender, and puree the crap out of them. Then do the same with some yellow tomatoes, and put both purees in a bowl with some basil, white pepper, and kosher salt.

The recipe called for 2 pounds each of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, which is ridiculous, so as I was only trying to make two servings I used a pound each, and supplemented the cherry tomatoes with some fabulous heirloom globe tomatoes. I also left out the sugar because, uh, I forgot it, but it didn’t need any. Delicious, sweet, and garden-y.

This was by far the most visually striking thing I’ve ever prepared. So cool. When we started eating, we discovered that the colors stay separate even as you move them around a bit, so if I ever make this again I might go for swirlier patterns instead of just the yin-yang.

Fun With Spoons

When we were in Maine a few weeks ago, Rachel reminded me how much she loves lobster so it seemed clear that would be in the main course. Kunz and Kaminsky provided:

Lobster in Syrah Reduction with Aromatic Grits

Lobster in Red Wine Reduction with Aromatic Grits Lobster in Red Wine Reduction with Aromatic Grits

I mean, delicious, right? Not even too difficult to make.

The sauce is a piece of cake: sauté onions, garlic, shallots, carrots, and celery until soft, and then pour in a bottle of red wine. Reduce, strain out the vegetables, and reduce again until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in some butter at the end, and you’re good to go.

The grits were also easy and delicious. I couldn’t find the quick-cooking grits the recipe calls for, but a pretty standard 4:1 milk and water to cornmeal ratio produced what I wanted. A little nutmeg and white pepper and butter go in at the end.

Finally the lobster: the hardest part was buying them, since Whole Foods apparently doesn’t sell live lobsters any more. However, I was pleased to discover Captain’s Catch in North Providence, which does, and has a pretty good looking seafood selection. Once I got the doomed fellows home, they were blanched in boiling water for 5 minutes, shocked in ice water, and relieved of their shells. (I now have a Ziploc back full of lobster parts ready for the stockpot.) Five to ten minutes in a 350 degree oven (with butter, of course) finished the cooking.

‘Twas damn good, and we even had room left over for dessert:

Lemon-Basil Sorbet

I’d bookmarked this recipe for Lemon-basil vodka gimlets as they looked delicious and refreshing, and indeed they were, but the fact is I don’t drink anywhere near enough vodka to use up all that syrup. As soon as I tasted it, though, I said: sorbet. Now, the syrup is way too sweet to make a sorbet on its own (and yes, I went through the trouble of making a batch to find that out) but with the juice of about four lemons added to it, it because perfect. Light, tart, with a subtle herbitude.

Lemon-Basil Sorbet

So, that’s three years. Believe it or not, Rachel just gets better and better. Don’t think for a second I fail to realize how lucky I am to have a wife willing to support us while I quit my job and sleep in every morning go back to grad school. A plate of lobster and a song are the least I can do.

Our Third Anniversary Dinner

Happy Anniversary

Best Wedding Ever?

Added to my list of things I’d never before done at a wedding:

  • Have my picture taken with Wally, the Green Monster

Added to my list of things I’d never before done at Fenway Park:

  • Dance the hora

An open bar, ridiculous food, the happy couple on the scorecard, and watching a Red Sox/Yankees game on about 10 screens in the State Street Pavilion? Not bad. Only think that would have made it better would have been if the Sox mounted another ninth inning comeback.

Congratulations, Melisa and Sean.

Best Wedding Ever?

24: Episode 13, 7 PM – 8 PM

Key Words: , ,

Barry Landis is going to get it today, and Jack Bauer is the one that’s going to give it to him.
9:05: Oh man, Barry Landis, you don’t even know.
9:05: Kim looks so proud of Barry Landis. It’s like Jack Bauer is supposed to forget that Kim has been dating older guys her whole life. You’re not shocking anyone, Kim.
9:05: I want Lynn McGill to imperiously berate the red shirted guard. “I didn’t know my junky sister was going to jump me, I was embarrassed!”
9:07: NJBD 1: (C.T.U. Doctor)
9:08: Tony Almeda does what he want to around here. “My name is Tony Almeda, you killed my wife, prepare to die. MY NAME IS TONY ALMEDA, YOU KILLED MY WIFE, PREPARE TO DIE!”
9:10: It’s hard to interrogate someone after you put antifreeze into them.
9:10: 40%, huh?
9:11: Why do so many people shuffle in and out of command of C.T.U.?
9:12: If you were in Las Vegas playing poker and President Logan sat down at your table would it be impossible for you to stop giggling to yourself and planning what you were going to do with all of his money? Conversely, how fast would you move away from a Black Jack table that President Logan was sitting at? You know he hits 16 all the time stealing your Queen.
9:16: Strike One, Barry Landis! (You don’t need to be qualified…)
9:17: Strike Two, Barry Landis! (You have no idea what I’m doing…)
9:18: Barry Landis has really silly eyebrows and he knows how to use them.
9:19: There’s a marriage joke in there about “constitutional rank”, but I’m not sure what it is. I feel like a failure.
9:22: I don’t believe Jack Bauer would have a go bag and not have some sort of gas mask protection in it.
9:27: So there’s all this space that’s not contaminated, why don’t all the peeps go into the other C.T. U. secret passage ways?
9:28: Barry Landis wants everyone to breathe. Barry Landis keeps talking about breathing, when the underlying drama is that everyone’s going to die because they won’t be able to breathe.
9:31: Come on. Really? They’re going to make Harry Swinton kill himself. And they’re not going to make him have kids or anything? And what about Lynn McGill’s mom? She’s going to lose 2 of her kids on the same day?
9:37: Chloe hates Barry Landis, Jack Bauer hates Barry Landis, I bet Kim starts hating Barry Landis soon.
9:38: Oh man. Harry Swinton does have kids. Sheesh.
9:40: Come on Harry, make it, please. I want this. DAMN IT. This makes me sadder than Edgar dying.
9:41: I can’t believe they just did a close up of Lynn McGill’s mouth while he was dying. TWICE.
9:42: NJBD: 2 (Harry Swinton and Lynn McGill)
9:43: Jack Bauer wants to spend “one day” with Kim Bauer explaining everything. Can you imagine anything worse than a “24” styled show about Kim and Jack Bauer hanging out? There would be three full episodes of them waking up and traveling to the meeting spot.
9:48: Now it’s Charles Logan’s turn to be proud of something shitty. He’s the reason presidents don’t write their own speeches.
9:49: What do you think it was like planning a wedding with Charles Logan? “Damn it, Martha, I don’t know if I want the filet or the salmon. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”
9:50: Wait a second, did you see how the terrorist dialed his phone? He just tapped on it with his forefinger. Did they make a new kind of cell phone that’s easier to dial?
9:53: It’s a little late to be kissing ass, Barry Landis, what are you thinking?
9:54: Where are all these C.T.U. agents in full battle gear come from. Didn’t THEY have a bag with a gas mask in it? Unbelievable. They have helmets and no gas masks?
9:55: NJBD: 1 (Agent Burke)
9:55: NJBD: 1 (Tony Almeda) I did not see that happening. It’s too bad Tony knocked out all the doctors, isn’t it?

0 JBKC, 0 tortures, 5 NJBD, Prediction Ratio 0% (0 for 1)
We still don’t have an accurate count of how many C.T.U. staff died. I was wrong about both Tony Almeda predictions. But how long do you think it takes Jack Bauer to tell Karen Hayes he doesn’t work for her?
Totals for the season, 22 JBKCs, 4 tortures, 51 NJBDs, Prediction Ratio 40% (4 out of 10).

24: Episode 13, 7 PM – 8 PM

24: Episode 1, 7 AM – 8 AM

Key Words: , , , , ,

James Brown, a football analyst, just introduced “arguably the most exciting” program on TV. Who argues this?

I’m going to journal it. Why? I don’t know. No one will read this, and I’m going to stop by week 4. At least this will give me a reason to watch. There’s nothing else redeeming about this show. I reserve the right to make up rules and statistics as I go along. I’m going to track the number of people that die by Jack Bauer’s hand, the number of people who are tortured, and the number of my predictions that turn out to be correct. I may add trackable items as I go along, so bear with me.

8:13: Jack Bauer died at the end of last year, or did he? He didn’t. 7 AM in “24 time”. That means there will be another conclusion in 20 weeks when most of the city is asleep.
8:16: Repeat characters this year? President Logan, President David Palmer and his brother.
8:18: Woah, David Palmer is down. Of course Jack Bauer could get up from that in 25 minutes, as long as someone needed torturing.
8:18: Repeat character, Mike Novick is back.
8:20: Did we ever find out if the president from last year died? It seems like most of last year’s cast is back so I’m going to stop tracking repeating characters. What’s wrong with this Russian Treaty? Who wants to stop it? Arms dealers or major gun companies? Both? President Logan just referenced his “political capital”.
8:22: Chloe gets guys? I don’t think so. A newer, softer Chloe this year? I hope she doesn’t make it through the entire season.
8:24: Jack Bauer hasn’t loosened up even though he’s supposed to be dead? What’s with the gun? I would have thought Jack Bauer/Frank Flynn would kill anyone who doesn’t drink OJ out of a glass. Chuck Norris would.
8:27: Tony and Michelle fighting again, all year? One can only hope. Tony is putting his capitalist dream before his duty to the country?
8:28: Now he doesn’t have a choice, Car bomb!
8:33: Edgar looks bigger this year. Is that Jon Favreau? He’s warning Chloe. She seems to have transformed from a desk jockey to a super agent. I guess all you need to be on 24 is a sixth sense! And Jack Bauer’s telephone number. Jack Bauer has a Go Bag and he’s not afraid to use it.
8:38: Audrey is back, this could cause a conflict between Jack Bauer and his new lady. Now all we need is Jack Bauer’s squeeze from the 2nd season. Also, let’s get Nina Myers back, too, Jack Bauer I don’t know if Jack Bauer got enough closure for him to be over that relationship.
8:39: I think the First Lady might be insane. She was right, though, she did look like a wedding cake. Yup, definitely insane. And people were critical of the way Hilary looked, wait until they get a load of Martha Logan. It’s too bad they couldn’t get someone like Stockard Channing to play THEIR First Lady.
8:48: Jack Bauer can spot any sign of someone following him, but not when its the disgruntled son of his new lover. He must have an invisible cloak. This kid is probably going to get hurt, especially now that Jack Bauer is involving his new love. “Get in the car and start driving towards Los Angeles”, straight to Audrey and my past. Jack Bauer knockout count: 1 (Helicopter Pilot)
8:53: You know what? I’d love for Mike Logan to say definitively to Walt that his wife was delusionally placing herself in the middle of a conspiracy theory and actually be right. It would at least keep it interesting. We’ve already seen this “crazy character with important information not being listened to” in about 400 different movies and TV shows over the years. We knew this, but 24 is no longer exciting or fresh.
9:00: Didn’t they change some things after 9/11 to make helicopters and airplanes harder to steal? Shouldn’t the air force have arrived by now?
9:02: Because all rescue helicopters keep their smoke bombs in the same place.
9:03: Jack Bauer death count: 2. (Bald bad guy)
9:04: I was going to try to definitively track the number of people JB killed and those he knocked out. I realized, however, that I’m not going to be able to really count how many people Jack Bauer kills and how many he knocked out. And how do you count people that Jack Bauer knocks out who later die from injuries sustained by an interaction with Jack Bauer? Instead, I’m going to refer to both knock outs and killings as knockdowns. I will call these JBKCs. JBKC: 3 (Bad Guy in Car)
9:06: JBKC: 4 (Palmer Assassin who was surprisingly chatty).
Final Thoughts:
4 JBKCs, no torture. That’s it, folks, first episode is over. No scenes from next week, as next week is right now. What did we learn? Jack Bauer is going to be considered, at some point in the coming episode, to be the main target in the Palmer assassination investigation.

Totals for the season, 7 JBKCs, 1 torture.

24: Episode 1, 7 AM – 8 AM