Monday, August 5, 2013

Instagram

I've been going by the name @Rube_Goldberg for almost 8 years. It started in 2006 when I joined the forum boards on Television Without Pity. I didn't want to use my real name, using a TV character name seemed weird (and most were probably already taken), and I wanted to have a handle that was actually a name. I settled on Rube Goldberg because the real Rube Goldberg's claim to fame matches my personality so well. Overcomplicating things with a comedic twist plus making gizmos that ultimately do nothing. The name has served me well on TWoP, Twitter, Blogs, and Instagram.

For whatever reason, when I initially set up my Instagram, I snagged the name rubegoldberg instead of rube_goldberg. As far as I can remember, I believe that's the only major online property where I have avoided the underscored version of the name. It wasn't a big deal until today.

I'm sitting in my office when the phone rings. "It's [name]," K says. I had no idea who [name] is and was not expecting this call. K waits half a beat before adding some more information. [name] is a parent of a student where I work. I had no idea what this call would be about since I so rarely deal with parents outside of an event setting. K puts the call through.

Along with having a child at my school, [name] is a descendent of the real Rube Goldberg. It turns out that [name] has been using rubegoldberg on major social media properties except Instagram because a certain so-and-so snagged the name first. At first my thought was "oh no, this is a cease-and-desist call," but all [name] wanted was to swap the Instagram names.

The number of coincidences at play here is astounding. This is easily one of the top five moments I have had in social media.

(By the way, a book about Rube Goldberg is coming out in November.)

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

The General

So I guess there's some sort of blogging challenge floating around the interwebs this month? I think it's in the style of NaNoWriMo or Movember or Toyotathon or something. Anyway, I was asked recently if I do any blogging and, since I started writing for TVLatest, I admitted I haven't done much "pleasure blogging." So let's try this.

I'm in the process of de-cluttering my surroundings. No, I'm not a Hoarder – not a capital-H one, at least – but trying to live more simply involves getting rid of the little pieces of paper that I only look at whenever I go through a cleaning kick. Pieces of paper such as this:





REVENNNNNNNNGE! Okay, so some backstory is in order. In my 11th grade history class we had this semester-long program simply known as The Game. The class was divided up into teams that formed countries. These countries would develop land, cultivate resources, and amass wealth throughout the semester. Grades earned on tests would generate revenue, but most of the action took place during a weekly Game Day. After 15 minutes of "World Bank Time" – the opportunity for teams to purchase land, buildings and military pieces – we would go into the Q&A round. Each team would send someone up to The Panel to answer a question related to material covered in class since the previous Game Day (or material we were about to be tested on if an exam was coming up). A correct answer would allow teams to collect money, place acquired land and pieces on the giant world map game board, or move a piece already on the board. Oh yeah, the world was not just limited to our class: LB taught 5 classes a day, each with its own set of countries competing to amass the most wealth. The top three countries in the world at the end of the semester got to go to a pizza party.

Now would be a good time to mention that I took the game VERY seriously. LB started calling me The General, though looking back I think it would be safe to elongate that nickname to General Asshole. For example: each non-resource game piece a team possesses needs to have the country's logo on it in ink. Otherwise, other teams could swoop in and erase the logo and place their own branding on it, claiming it as their own. Oh, and you better make sure farms are on plains and not mountains, otherwise some guy with a little too much time on his hands may pull the piece off the board. Rules are rules.

Along with the psychotic auditing of game pieces, I really got into the idea of pitting teams against each other. It should be noted, Survivor didn't premiere until the end of this school year. One time I wrote a fake note about one team plotting to go after another and had one of my friends in a class earlier in the day drop it so that the second team would find it and get distracted. It worked for about 30 seconds before they decided to declare war on us. Don't worry! They spelled "missile" wrong on their war declaration, making it invalid. I actually cackled like a Bond villain after I pulled down the failed declaration from its bulletin board.

I'm trying to remember the circumstances leading to the war declaration above. The cackling incident happened in Fall Semester, while the image was from Spring Semester (different games; same churlish behavior). The problem second semester was that all five of the people on my team had opinions and loved digging in heels at the first hint of a disagreement. I was friends with all three members of MCA, but their territory was positioned in such a way that attacking them regularly was fairly easy. Both they and I made things personal when it really should have just been business. Unfortunately, I did not win those disagreements within my team, so the "revenge" felt more directed towards me than the team as a whole.

On the last Game Day of the semester, MCA was successful in nuking us. Unfortunately, we had a Superchance (a bonus card with awesome powers) that nullified up to 3 successful attacks. While they groused about my general awfulness ("General Awfulness"?) we successfully attacked a country that had acquired, but failed to secure, the wealth of one or two other countries. We managed to secure our haul by the end of the day, and we ended up winning despite ourselves.

This is the Cliff's Notes version of The Game, but feel free to mention it at any gathering of my friends from high school. The stories are fantastic.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

VMA Post-Mortem

I had no intention of writing anything about tonight's Video Music Awards (aside from the squibs over at TVLatest), but the show has been over for twenty minutes and I find myself jittery, on edge, and feeling kind of angry and I have no idea why.

I think part of the problem is that my intent for watching was not coming from a positive place. Being in Detroit for the majority of the last year has left me fairly unexposed to popular music. When the radio stations play only that one Eminem song, that one Usher song, "Rolling in the Deep" and "E.T.", you're left in the boonies in terms of what other people are listening to. You used to be able to find out what those songs could be by tuning into MTV, but as the students who are arriving on-campus Tuesday will tell you, that has not been the case in their lifetimes.

I'll let that sink in before moving on.

Also, as is the case with any major event of this sort, Twitter scrolls along in the background. What I love about Twitter is getting to share in cultural moments with people who are on the same wavelength as me. Unfortunately, that wavelength includes competitive bitchery, which is in full force for the VMAs. The only moments that I think were universally enjoyed ("universally" being defined as 65% approval or better) was Adele's performance and Beyoncé's baby bump. Even the Amy Winehouse tribute (which I thought was classy given that Russell Brand was the main spokesperson) received a heavy dose of heckling from my follow list.

I guess what bothers me is that tonight's show was like watching a dream unfulfilled. When I was born my six siblings ranged in age from 5-17 and just about all of them wanted their MTV. Throughout my toddlerdom I received Chernobyl-like exposure to music presented in the video format. Now you know why I am the way I am. Anyway, I wanted to make music videos when I grew up, but when the programming model of MTV and VH1 shifted in the mid-90's there was a supply/demand issue arising. MTV2 came along and I would watch that for hours on end during my high school years. Then that programming model changed and now that dream felt all but dead.

Maybe this is a long-winded way of saying "I'm old! They don't play music on MTV anymore! GET OFF MY LAWN!" Maybe that's what's bumming me out.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Am Not a Crockpot: Thai Curry Chicken

Mom and I went out for Thai food a couple of weeks ago. It was tasty, as usual, but now that we are in Dearborn Heights it is a bit of a hike to the East Dearborn Thai Palace. There are other Thai restaurants closer (Thai Palace II is within walking distance -- a long walk, but walking distance), but there's just something missing at those establishments. I decided I wanted to try making Thai food at home.

I did try this once in Syracuse with mixed results. The flavor wasn't quite there and there was no spice to the dish. Also, cooking it on the stove was more of a mess than I wanted to deal with. So I looked up crock pot recipes online to see if Thai would work.

Here is the recipe I found:

-----------------
- 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

- 1 T brown sugar

- 1 T soy sauce (La Choy is gluten free, and so is Tamari wheat-free)[I went with Meijer brand]

- 1 T Thai red or green chili paste, or more to taste (I used red, and went with 1.5 T)
**I went with red curry paste. Part of this was by accident, but I also didn't want to make anything too spicy the first time out. The flavor is robust, but seriously, make sure you get chili paste.

- 1 t fish sauce (optional) [I declined the option]

- 1 yellow onion, chopped

- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

- 1 red bell pepper

- 1 green bell pepper

- 1/2 large eggplant

- 1 sweet potato

- chicken thighs (I used 5 frozen boneless, skinless) [I used chicken breasts, thighs weren't readily available when I was shopping. Either should be fine.]

And! 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated. [Optional. I didn't feel like dealing with ginger so I passed.]

**I also added some thinly sliced carrots to the mix.

The Directions.

Combine the sauce ingredients: coconut milk, soy sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, and fish sauce in the bottom of your crockpot stoneware. Taste. If you think you need more chili paste, add some, carefully. It's hot stuff!

Add the chicken pieces to the sauce, flipping them over a few times so they get nice and saucy.

Wash and cut the vegetables, and add to the crock.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6. This is done when the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables have reached desired tenderness.

I cooked ours on high for 5 hours. The vegetables were soft, but not squishy, and the chicken was cooked, but still had shape.

Serve over white rice.

-----------------

If you think that's a lot of veggies, it is. I actually forgot to add the onion and garlic when I first turned on the crock pot because the bowl was 3/4 of the way full.

TCC Closeup

I let mine cook on high for about 6 hours -- that was a mistake. The veggies lost their crispness and there was very little texture to the dish. When I make this again, I will either cook on low for 6 hours or high for no more than 4. Just remember: Crock Pots vary.

Also, instead of white rice I went with brown rice. I think this comes down to a preference issue, but I almost always choose brown over white rice unless there's a time constraint.

Here is how the dish looked:

TCC Dish

Not quite as fancy as the pictures in the linked recipe, but the color is quite striking.

After a couple of servings, I found the lack of texture from the overcooking to be disappointing. The flavors were still strong, so I decided to take the leftovers and turn it into a soup.

TCC Soup

While blending (using the Ninja -- a must-have for the kitchen), I added 1 cup of water per pitcher (there are A LOT of leftovers). It maintains the flavor and gives the meal a hearty texture. I would recommend adding some black pepper when you warm up a bowl. I did not blend the rice with the soup, but sprinkling in any leftover rice would likely add to the tastiness.

Overall, I think this is a tasty dish. You just need to keep an eye on the crock.

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MMXI

One of the things I want to try to do more of this year is update this blog more than twice a year. There are two major obstacles that were preventing that this past year:

1) I've been doing A LOT of writing for TVLatest.com. I've been working on the site since the end of May and I am now at the point where I can generating traffic out of nothing. It's kinda awesome. We aren't the next Google or Facebook (yet), but I'm doing work that I enjoy. Unfortunately, the work is not lucrative enough to actually make it my living, so the jobhunt continues.

2) The other obstacle has been a lack of things happening in my life. I would like to report on my jobhunting, but there's been a lot of silence from places I've applied to. To draw on the dating analogy, this is where you go up to someone you fancy, look them in the eye, ask them to dance/get coffee/introduce yourself and they look at you as if you are from Mars and say nothing. We've all been there?

Instead, I am working on creating a separate blog about my jobhunting experience. I'll post a link here once I get it up and running. It's on WordPress and I'm kind of excited to learn how to work within that system.

So I guess in terms of an update, here are the bullet points:

• I'm still in Dearborn.
• I'm still unemployed (in the traditional sense of the term)
• I miss you all (I'm not in prison, I miss seeing people in person)

How are you doing?

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I flew into New York about 24 hours ago and boy are my arms tired. That's not a joke; it's a run-on sentence. I'm actually kind of sore all over and I think it is from hauling my stuff from LaGuardia to Jersey City during rush hour. First, I'm glad I decided against using my ginormous backpack because that would have been a disaster. Even packing significantly lighter was a lot to haul around on a bus, then through the subway turnstile, down stairs, up stairs, through a revolving exit gate, another turnstile, more stairs, ANOTHER turnstile, and then down the steps to Ben's place. It also didn't help that I was dressed for Late October weather and not the actual mid-70's temperatures. What the frig, climate change?

So far it has been rather uneventful. Ben has this place that he goes to called "work", so today was spent looking up similar places called "jobs". I sent in one application, walked to a nearby store to pick up some provisions, applied to a couple more jobs, then walked around the neighborhood for a bit. Ben lives in the Paulus Hook area of Jersey City, a place that he describes as the next great hipster homestead. I didn't quite get that vibe from walking around, but that was around 3 so it might have been too early in the day.

Tomorrow will be my first excursion into the Apple of Bigness. Originally I called this experience a relocation, but with nothing officially anchoring me down at this point I should get some tourism under my belt. The Paley Center is holding a screening tomorrow afternoon/early evening, so that's at least something to plan my day around.

[Dinner Break]

So I just had Wasabi Gelato. Amazing.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Follow-up

Sigh. I got a very polite rejection e-mail today. It probably would have been wiser to wait until I got home to check this particular e-mail. Instead, I became aware of it when I was on my way to the grocery store and my iPod's volume dipped for a second, a sign that something landed in my inbox. I get inside the store and check the message and see the bad news.

There's the initial "Aw, maaaaaan," but then it really hits again about 45 seconds later. Of course, the Universe can't leave well enough alone and has to try to make this a friggin' MOMENT. I'm standing in the frozen pizza aisle across from rows and rows of alcohol. I make a conscious decision not to pick up anything named Jack. Then friggin' PIANO MAN starts playing on the PA system. Now I'm just getting angry. Shut up, Universe.

The good news is I now have a contact at ESPN who would like to meet with me when I get to the City. The people I interviewed with were impressed with me, so it is helpful to know that I'm making progress. Still: Aw, maaaaaan.

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Telephone



Many of the career guides I've consulted have equated the jobhunting process with the process of dating. You can understand why my baseline anxiety level, which was already pretty high, has elevated in the last five months.

Right now I'm in the waiting-by-the-telephone phase. The first date interview with ESPN went fine, and I had a second interview that went better. It's taken a few practice runs, but at this point I'm getting the hang of dating interviewing mores. Mores such as the neurotic internal dialogue:

"I thought we had a great time -- why hasn't he called? Maybe he's busy, he'll call tomorrow. Maybe he's out of town. Oh God, was it something I said?" He feverishly replays the entire encounter in his head. "...I thought that was charming, maybe it wasn't...He seemed to respond positively to that...he can't think you're fat, he hasn't even seen you in person..."

I'm blurring the line -- that's not helping.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Comments

I just finished reading an article on Yahoo News from U.S. News and World Report mentioning more unemployment doom and gloom. Here is the first comment at the end of the article:

"president kennedy was a real hero,the others are just puppets... most politicians today are nothing but fat dirty rats,especially republicans they brain washyou and used u and abused you...it will get worst,starting with arizona "amaricas bigest embarrasment in history>>1070".."

Um, [sic].

Things not mentioned in the article:

  • President Kennedy
  • Heroes
  • Politicians
  • Republicans
  • Arizona

    Yahoo's default setting is to have the most recent comment posted first, so this is joining in the conversation mid-stream. Let's take a look at the actual first comment:

    "Here are the 5 real reasons why companies aren't hiring...

    1) obama

    2) pelosi

    3) dodd

    4) Franks

    5) Geithner"

    Sigh.

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  • Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Costume

    I realize it's kinda early (4 months or so), but I need to start thinking about what my Halloween costume should be for this year. I am not a half-asser when it comes to these sort of things. Here is last year's costume:

    Halloween 2009

    (That's Simon from Frisky Dingo, just FYI)

    Other previous costumes have included:

    Max

    Beakman

    Charlie Brown Ghost

    Now I need your help. What should I go as this year?


    I've narrowed it down to three options. Here they are, with some Pros and Cons listed.

    1) Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood

    Photobucket

    Pros: My wardrobe will get bumped up a couple notches in the class department with the inclusion of the captain's trench coat and suspenders. Also, there is quite a bit of sex appeal, especially if I really strive for accuracy.

    Cons: This will likely be an expensive costume. A couple of people also mentioned the obscurity issue, but considering the previous examples I don't really see it as a dealbreaker except if there are costume contests involved.

    2) Lorenzo St. Dubois (LSD) from The Producers

    Lorenzo St Dubois (LSD)

    Pros: I think this one will be a real crowd pleaser and probably the most fun of the options. Also, I assume that most, if not all, of the costume will be acquired at thrift stores so it will be super cheap.

    Cons: This would require the most dedication to staying in character. Also, I'm not sure if I will be able to find anything close to those boots.

    3) Professor Chaos from South Park

    Professor Chaos

    Pros: This is probably the least obscure of the three, and everybody loves Butters.

    Cons: This might be a little too similar to last year's costume, at least in terms of characterization. Also, careful construction will be required so it doesn't look super cheap.



    Cast your vote in the comments! If you have other suggestions (other costumes or where I can find elements for cheap), feel free to share those, too. Also, have you thought about your costume yet?

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