Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

Those of you who know me, know me to be a hot pepper aficionado and fan of all things 'hot and spicy'. I have travelled three continents, challenging chefs to 'burn me out'. Well, it's finally happened. Yesterday, Ferlie and I had lunch with Mike and Cassondra at Beauregard's, a Huntsville, AL joint that serves up wings, ribs, sammiches, and such. Their claim is "Nobody does it hotter". Well, they are correct.

I ordered a combination plate with their "Home-made Habenero sauce". I have never eaten anything so hot that also tasted good. Unfortunately, the burn continued to get worse, and worse, until such point as I had to give up and admit defeat. I made it through the rib portion, one wing, and roughly 1/3 of the chicken sandwhich, when the reddish sauce of Satan beat me into submission. The saddest thing of all, is that it actually tasted REALLY good, and it was the PAIN that made me stop eating.

We've been to Beauregard's several times, and I always enjoy it. For wings and such, they get my highest recommendation. I will try the insane hot goodness again, but it will be least until the blisters on my tongue are healed.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikey! Steve Irwin was killed while filming one of his "Hey Y'all, Watch this" shows. The story is, he was swimming with a sting ray off the Great Barrier Reef, and was stung in the chest, piercing his heart. I didn't watch his programs regularity, but the bloke was certainly entertaining. More info here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

We're Baaa-aaack!

Yes, dear readers, it has been too long since I've been a'posting. Life has been good, but it's been very busy as well. I intend to do much better in the near future. I've also been doing a poor job of keeping up Rani's Blog, though I've been doing a bit better in keeping up the Boxing Fans Blog.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

That's One Drained Virgin!

While we were in the Philippines, I discovered "Virgin" soft drinks, and let me tell you, after a hard day of laying under a palm tree getting thirsty, there is nothing like cracking open a Virgin to satisfy you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You Play With Matches....

A Vanderbilt/Peabody alumnus and silly, ineffective peace activist is found dead. Story here. After reading this, my first thought was wondering why in the Hell the U.S.M.C. still has a band, and, does dropping a tuba on your foot (during a concert, of course) count as an injury in the line of duty?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Mom, Dad, Uncle Dan, and my sister Carol came up to visit yesterday to celebrate Mom's birthday (29 again!), and we all had a good time. Veronica enjoyed all of the attention that she received, and a good time was had by all. We're pretty sure that Mom will enjoy her gift (a DVD of an Elton John concert) as much as Dad will hate it.

As we're still recovering from our Philippines trip, Ferlie and I opted for a dinner of pizza, which came in the form of Pizza Hut's "cheesy bites crust" pie. Despite looking like a deformed foot with severely swollen and rotten toes, the taste was okay. I'm not a huge fan of Pizza Hut, or any of the big chains, as their pizzas (pizzae?) don't thrill my taste buds the way I believe pizza should. Our favorite in Nashville is Caesar's Ristorante Italiano, which is a neat little family-owned Eye-Talian joint stuck in a nearby strip-mall, and their pizza is "wunnerful, wunnerful".

While we were in the Philippines, Ferlie and I twice had pizza from Shakey's, a chain that has largely faded here in the States. Shakey's Pinoy pizzas (unlike the ones that I used to enjoy in West Texas) are covered with thick, gooey yellow cheese that tastes just a little like glue (though not in a bad way).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ender's Game....The Movie

I'm scared. "They" (whoever that is) is allowing Wolfgang Petersen, the schizophrenic director who recently botched "Troy" (though it did make a lot of money), direct a film adaptation of one of my favorite novels. That novel is the Hugo and Nebula award-winning Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card (probably the most famous living Mormon, next to Dale Murphy---who should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, btw).

While I don't share all of Card's views, I've enjoyed many of his books, articles, editorials and short-stories. Like him, I spent a part of my childhood as a member of the LDS Church, and I've also enjoyed reading some of his religious writings, though without sharing his beliefs.

It will be years before this project comes to the screen, but I can't think of any other project "in the works" that I'll be anticipating more. Many are the times that I've imagined how this stoory would look on the big screen, and while I'm sure that it'll end up horribly botched, I can't supress my excitement. The "Battle Room" scenes will benefit from the special effects advances since the story was written in 1985, and the Harry Potter phenomenon has shown that a movie populated with pre-pubescent characters can be a huge success, even among fans who never read the book(s).

wikipedia entry here.
"official" site here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

My Old Team Won the Championship

Well, not exactly. The "real" PBA team, whose namesake I played for in a sponsored league in Saudi Arabia, won the San Miguel Coffee PBA Fiesta Championship last night. The Red Bull (yes, the energy drink) Barakos defeated the Pure Foods "Chunkee Giants" to win the best of seven series. I enjoyed watching these games with my father-in-law, though it was tough to choose a favorite. I feel some loyalty to the Red Bull team, having worn their uniform, but their sponsor makes an energy drink that tastes like bad cough syrup, while Pure Foods makes the best hotdogs in the world. Besides, each team played hard, and has several likeable players.

The final game's goat, Pure Food's sharpshooter James Yap, shares the birthdate of my daughter, which in some minds is significant. I hope that his missing an easy layup---which some say gave the game to Red Bull--- in the last minute isn't part of some sort of bad birthday karma that will also haunt Veronica. Yap, in addition to being one of my favorite players for his scrappy guard play, is best-known as the boyfriend/bedmate/what-have-you of Kris Aquino. Ms Aquino is the daughter of the heroic Senator (Ninoy) and former housewife-turned-puppet-president (Cory). She is the Philippine Islands' answer to Oprah Winfrey, so I suppose Mr Yap is something of a Stedman.

Enrico Villanueva, the captain of Red Bull's team, is the sort of fundamentally sound, hard-working rebounder and defender that I admire. He's sorta like Dennis Rodman if you add good manners, offensive skills, and then remove the insanity.

Pure Food's American star, Marquin Chandler (who played at San Jose State early, was looked at by the Kings,but didn't get drafted or picked up), was voted the league's most-valuable-import player (he dominates the game, as he is much better than any of the locals), and he looked to have to tools to at least "ride a bench" in the NBA, dropping three-point shots and executing all over the court. Of course, it's hard to make an accurate assessment, watching him play against this level of competition (no disrespect intended towards the PBA, as they put a fine product on the court).

As a note, PBA teams will often have different mascot names from season to season, depending on what sort of product the sponsor is wanting to publicize. In the past five years, the Red Bull team has been called the "Energy Kings" and the "Thunder", while Pure Foods' mascot was recently the "TJ Hotdogs". Of course, with competition from teams like the "Realtors", and the "Beermen", you can see why these guys don't mind changing names so often. Those of you who are nostalgic PBA fans probably long for the return of the "Redmanizers" and the "Coffee Makers".

Achy-Breaky Puto: Photographic Evidence

I told you that I'd get pictures. I'm still agog at the site of
line-dancing Pinoys. For those who missed the previous post (and are too
lazy to scroll down the page), I've discovered, here in the lovely
Philippines, an exercise class devoted to aerobic activity set to the
harmonies of Billy Ray Cyrus.....I only wish that I were making this up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pirates of the Carriedo: The Curse of the Black Market

Yesterday, my darling wife and beloved sisters-in-law journeyed to Quiapo, to visit the "Pirates of the Carriedo, the primary purveyors of pirated movies, music, and much more.

Our journey started with a walk to the center of St Francis Subdivision, where we caught an "FX" for a 20-minute ride to Monumento (cost P35 a head). Once arrived in Monumento, we walked down to the LRT for the train ride to the Carriedo station (P15), where we followed a convoluted trail into the primarily Muslim section of the Quiapo commercial district (I don't know exactly how Muslim these folks are, as the women showed skin, the men sold porn videos, and most of the foodsellers also sold pork products).

On Famski's recommendation, we found "Rams", who sells both high-quality pirated movies (in VCD and DVD formats) as well as imported "legal" editions of American movies, most of which have been subtitled in Chinese, Japanese, or some other -ese. Rams was very friendly, and unlike most of the other vendors, he played each DVD prior to the deal, to show that they were not (overtly) defective.

My official statement is we only purchased legal editions of the movies that we wanted. Honest.

En route back to the LRT, we bought Rani her very first rosary (I must admit to being creeped out by hearing my family haggle vigorously over the price, even if it isn't my religion), mechanical dog and bird toys, and this trip's first Jollibee burger, a Yum! with cheese. Jollibee has several menu options, and even the different sorts of burger have different tastes. For my American readers, the Yum! is most like a vastly oversized Krystal burger, and the flavor of the meat portion is identical.

We're having Rani's "official" birthday party at a Jollibee franchise, after her baptism on Sunday. We're still in the midst of the "actual" birthday celebration, which is complete with cheese-flavored ice cream (I swear, I am not making this up) with bits of real cheese. The proper name of the flavor is "Queso Real (pronounced Ree-ahl)", and it was delivered to the house by a sorbetero, or "ice cream man". The cost is a bit less than US$15 for 3 gallons of some of the best homemade ice cream this side of my Mama's (after tasting this, Ben and Jerry, even though they've been bought out by "the man", will eat their petula-stinking birkenstocks in envy). Tonight's dinner will be pancit (for long life) and crispy pata (deep-fried pig feet) .

As I keep saying, photos will follow.

Achy-Breaky Puto

I had no idea that Billy Ray Cyrus had brought the fair Philippines under his sway. Out on our morning constitutional, minding our own business, we had our senses assaulted in a most offensive way. In the midst of an otherwise respectable suburban neighborhood, we encountered a group of 30-plus Filipinos of all ages engaged in country line dance. I kid you not.

What we witnessed was a morning exercise class. Apparently this class uses country line dance, in particular the "Achy Breaky", as aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, we only caught the end of the class, which featured a 20 minute-long "dance mix" of "Achy Breaky Heart", as it's finale. I have no idea what proceeded the "Achy Breaky", though I intend to investigate.

I don't hate Mr. Cyrus, as it seems many do. I even survived an episode or two of "Doc". Personally, I prefer Weird Al's "Achy Breaky Song".

Monday, February 13, 2006

Filipino Boxing Stuff

I spent the day before yesterday watching recordings of old boxing matches with my beloved father-in-law. As you might imagine, the vast majority of the fights featured at least one Filipino pugilist.

I won't bore my non-boxing-fan readers with the rest, but if you are so inclined, you can check out all the details at, my boxing co-op blog.

Enchanted Kingdom

Yesterday we loaded 15 folks into a mini-van and headed to The Enchanted Kingdom. "EK" is the ROP's equivalent of Disney World, though it is more like Six Flags or the late, great Opryland (memorial site here) in terms of size, shows, and tech-level.

We started off crammed into Uncle Elmo's Mitsubishi L300 for the 90-minute drive from Meycauayan to EK. Rani laughed and played without crying, and Matt, Mykah, Kay, and Eia kept us entertained. The drive flew by, as the 90 minutes felt did feel like 90 minutes. Upon arrival, I unfolded my contorted skeleton, we checked in, had the kids measured (they measure the kid's height and then provide a customized-by pencil list of the rides each child can ride) and headed for the grand carousel. Then we split off into groups handing the kids off from one to another as we rode, ate, and took in the sights. Ten hours later, whipped and drained, we proceeded to slink back home. A great time was had by all, especially Eia and Kay, who finished the "who'll get the wettest on the raft ride" competition tied for first.

There were things that drove me crazy, but I'd expected no different. All in all, I was very impressed with the variety and quality of rides, the cleanliness of all of the facilities, and the friendly, helpful staff (It's nice to be in a place where service sector jobs are performed with pride, and quality customer service is delivered).

I never thought that I'd find the world's best hotdogs in the Philippines, but I did. The EK concession stands served only fried "Pure Foods" brand franks (the artificial coloring makes the dripping grease turn red), and they are served on fat, yeasty buns/rolls. I had several of the "bacon dogs", which are fried hotdogs, split down the middle and stuffed with cheese and bacon. Ummmmmmm.

The most exciting ride was certainly the "Space Shuttle", which is quite a fun rollercoaster. You start off being pulled backwards up a near-vertical incline, where you stay suspended for nearly a minute (I was hanging off of my seat against the shoulder restraints---) before being shot forward, through 2 loops, one with a full twist. You then find yourself being slowly pulled up another near-vertical incline, dangled, and shot through again---backwards. Grabe! Sobra! Takot Ako! Ferlie says that this ride made her realize that she is "old", and she has sworn off any other "thrill rides". We'll see about that.

Like any amusement park (or as Dr Shwe used to say, "amazement park") the primary purpose of EK is separate the visitors from as much of their money as possible. EK is expensive, but fortunately for me, it's downright cheap by "Fat, Hairy, Whiteboy standards".

The next time any of you, dear readers, find your self on Luzon, you might want to consider investing a day (and P500+) in a trip to EK.

Pictures will follow. Wait lang.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What A Day!

Today is a day that Ferlie and I will always remember.

Veronica is now REALLY talking! Prior to today, she would say "Dad-dah" and wave to me, say "Hi" when she saw someone new, and with some heavy duty prompting she might blurt out a "Mamama". That was about it.

This morning, as a bunch of assorted cousins were brawling about on the floor, Rani looked at me, held up her arms and said "Up Dad-dah". I was amazed. I picked her up, kissed her, and gave her a few quick bounces. I put her back down, called for witnesses, and she repeated her request/command/monologue. Now, she'll hardly stop with it.

A bit later, after she'd mastered the art of turning the lights off and on by wallswitch, she pointed at the fixture and clearly said "light". We forced her to repeat this for a few thousand cousins, aunts, and uncles before our pride was slaked.

To top it all off, Veronica chose today to be her first day to stand up without a handhold. She went from her back, to her butt, to her knees, and then just stood. She maintained her balance with a series of twists and two waving arms. For all of five seconds, my little girl stood tall.

It's still a few days to her first birthday, but my little girl's not a baby any more.

It meant so much to her Mama and I to have been with her for each of these moments.

What a day!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Crazy, Man, Crazy....

OK....Mebbe I'm suffering from some sort of sci-fi movie withdrawal syndrome. I followed a link on Mike's blog to read a story about rumors surrounding Google's plans to destroy/take over the world, or somesuch.

Then I noticed the url of the story:,,9075-2023600,00.html?findsarahconnor

....?find sarah connor.....

I'm suddenly having flashbacks to the Terminator any of you get what I'm talking about here? If so, sound off.

have I stumbled into one of those alternate reality games?

I Walk the Line (mostly)

This entry sprang from an e-mail exchange with Mike.

I've been saying for years that the Philippines (Republika ng Pilipinas) will continue to have massive problems until they learn to manage a "queue" ( that's waiting in line to us 'Canos). The multiple things for which we expect to "stand in line" become near-riots in Manila, and a special event will often lead to a trampling, as was the case with the recent tragedy at a promotion for the ABS-CBN tv show, Wowoweee.

You can always recognize a Filipino newly arrived to the U.S. by the the way they'll rush and shove themselves onto a bus---like a football running back "hitting the hole" (fortunately, this passes rather quickly). In the past, there was little or no concept of an orderly queue in the Philippines (when necessary, queues are often enforced by armed guards), perhaps because so many things in Manila life require near-endless waits. Massive, non-computerized bureacracy turns something like getting a driver's license into an all-day chore (and even then you might not actually get in to take care of business). Anything to get ahead in the throng, which, if done properly can save hours, has been considered fair game, as everyone's doing it.

The Tagalog word for a "queue" is "pila", and Ferlie and her friends often refer to their homeland as the "pila-ppines", as you spend soooo much time waiting in a mob-like series of semi-organized lines that ultimately converge at the desk of some species of functionary.

Lest you think that this is not a cultural phenomenon, try watching the line-ups for plane boarding at an airport. Any flight with a largely Filipino passenger list would appear to have had it's boarding choreographed by schizophrenic football coaches. I think that the Northwest employees trying to herd our flight's passengers on-board will require extensive therapy to recover from dealing with a crowd of otherwise well-mannered, very friendly people who completely refused to cooperate with very simple boarding instructions.

When we flew in this time, we didn't have the usual escort of Ferlie's Uncle Ben (he's an airport employee who's always managed to have us processed through the Diplomatic Lines, letting us avoid what would typically be a 1-2 hour period not unlike trying to get to the front row of a Metallica Concert). On our own, we had to mingle through the crowd with all the other "un-connected folks". The crowd was huge, and while we did do a bit of elbowing and creative merging, the process was much less chaotic than it had been five years ago when I did this thing on my own.

Ferlie and I, when talking about the changes that seem to be slowly taking place, marvelled at the burgeoning civility in what I've dubbed "wait management". What this bodes for the future of the Philippines, I cannot say, but it's nice to be able to recognize a positive development.

I've pointed out to some of you that on our recent trip to the Philippines, we saw a great many new buildings, bridges, and roads. In Meycauayan, where Ferlie's parents live, we noticed both new and upgraded parks, expanded churches, and a vastly improvement in the quality and cleanliness of commercial areas. With the recently expanded North Luzon Expressway, traffic was unrecognizeable (largely because it was moving). We see reasons to be optimistic.

All that said, the Philippines is facing a potential crisis, as the family-centered culture is starting to give way to a hedonistic consumerism, and a decadent entertainment industry exists in correlation with (I won't speculate here on causation) an expansion of drug-use, teen pregnancy, and the "breakdown of the family". I hope that the people of the Philippines are able to retain all of the qualities that make the Philippines the friendliest place I've visited, as well as fix their numerous social and economic ills.

The editorial that started all of this blathering can be found here.
Stories about the Wowowee tragedy can be found here, here, and here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hmmmmm....Now We Just Have to Find the Green Eggs

Due to my good friend Mike, I stumbled upon the blog of my favorite living sci-fi author (I'm currently reading his Knight Moves, with which I'm very impressed).

On said author's blog, I found this link to a story about a product of genetic manipulation to further stem-cell research in Taiwan. I will try to find out more about Taiwan's Great Green Glow-Pigs (has cool picture of pigs under blue light, and another pic here under "standard" lighting).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

If You Outlaw Swords, Only Outlaws Will Have Swords

Heheheh....those silly limies....story here.