Monday, June 30, 2008


To anyone reading this on the Internet. Please go see the new Pixar movie, Wall-E.

We saw this at our beloved Alamo Drafthouse. We showed up early for the sell-out show and dined on queso fries and a "Blazing Saddles" BBQ Chicken Pizza. Dinner and a movie dates are always great here, and we do know that our dating days are numbered.

Wall-E exceeded my expectations. The movie was amazing, beautiful, and touching. Five minutes after leaving the theatre, I was already thinking about buying the movie on BluRay to be able to watch, rewatch, and catch all the intricate detail layered throughout. Shannon reported that Baby Sieber seemed to enjoy the movie as well, as evidenced by numerous kicks and movements that indicated approval and cheering.

The reviews are almost universally positive:

Some curmudgeons might have their political sensibilities offended by the movie's secondary message about grotesque consumerism and environmental concerns, but don't let that put you off. Wall-E is a winner.

Note: I'm not getting paid a commission or bounty or any advertising dollars for this posting.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fun with Data

I work in finance. I use data and numbers to pay my bills, and graphs are funny to me. If you like graphs as much as me, then you will love this site:

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Showdown at the Hot Dog Corral

This weekend, Shannon and I trekked up to Dallas to cheer for Chris (a.k.a. Big Chompy) at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. This eating battle was staged in a non-descript suburban parking lot with a big white tent offering protection from the sweltering Texas sun. We crammed in with the crowd of about 200 to gape at the gustatory spectacle. This crowd was dominated by Chompy supporters wearing fetching mustard yellow "Bite for your right to Coney" t-shirts

Chris drew a center-stage spot where he jostled for space with a massive eater known as "The Intimidator." As the athletes tore into the first hot dogs, a cloying wave of hot dog wind washed over the crowd bathing us in frankfurter perfume. I was certainly grateful to be in the crowd and not on stage.

The ten minute contest flew by quickly, and it was impossible to tell how well Chris or the other competitors were doing. From our vantage point, our guy was pushing a solid pace, and it felt like he was in the mix to win it. His cheering section, some 70-strong, punctuated the event with numerous rounds of deafening chants and cheers. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Chris crammed in one last massive mouthful of food. This technique, known in the competitive eating world as chipmonking can sometimes boost a competitor to victory. Well, it wasn't a pretty sight, and he was chewing for 5 minutes after the contest.

With the trip to Coney Island and validation as professional-caliber eater at stake, I know Chris really wanted to win this competition. I saw the brutal training regimen and heard the stories about sleepless nights and the terrible things that hot dogs can do to one's physiology. In the final tally, he fell just a handful of HDB's short of winning the competition, finishing 4th place out of 15 competitors with 15 HDB's eaten in 10 minutes.

Some travelling "pro" from California won the spot in the Coney Island contest, but there are much more valuable things in life. Chris drew a massive crowd of friends and family, people who support him and have his back. Even the Dallas Morning News took note in their coverage, declaring Chris the crowd favorite. That's pretty cool in my book.

Congratulations to Big Chompy for a great rookie effort, and thank you for saving us thousands of dollars in New York travel expenses.

Link to Dallas Morning News article:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coney Island Or Bust

Chris Floyd, one of the top amateur eaters in the world, is set to take his first steps in the world of professional eating. This weekend he is competing in the Dallas regional qualifier for the Grand Daddy of Them All: The Nathan's Famous Coney Island Hot Dog Contest.

Yes, this is the contest that you've seen on ESPN. This is the contest that Japanese prodigy Takeru Kobayashi dominated until Rambo-esque American superstar Joey Chestnut finally brought the Mustard Belt back to the U.S. last year.

With a win in the regional qualifier, Chris wins a seat at the star-studded July 4th contest in New York. ESPN and the world will learn what Chris's friends, family, and many a struggling buffet restaurant owner have known for years: this guy can EAT.

Chris has been in training for weeks. There have been speed trials. He has held whiteboard strategy sessions. He's reviewed hours of footage to study the bio-mechanics and techniques of past champions. He has scrutinized the results of other regionals to set his targets and pace. He has been downing 8-packs of Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs in shockingly fast fashion (note: this is greater than 2,000 calories and 150 grams of fat in minutes).

He is ready to take his shot, and a huge contingent of friends and family will be there to cheer him on (Sam's Club in Plano, Texas on June 21st.). This could be the start of something huge. Is this the start of a professional eating career or simply a huge stomache ache? Only time will tell.
Background Info:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Viva Tortilla~!

Viva, Tortilla! Viva Tortilla!
The Austin cooking challenge parties have returned with the Viva Tortilla party set for July 12th. A tortilla is a blank canvas to a skillful cook, so we are expecting some amazing dishes at the party.

The parties are always fun, even if somewhat excessively epicurean. If the party were a person, it would someone like Mario Batali or maybe Crazy Legs Conti.

We're expecting to see some excellent takes on tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, or maybe even a king ranch casserole. The wine will flow like water, judges will make hilarious comments, and a new champion will receive The Golden Apron.

Anyone in the blog audience have a favorite tortilla recipe? How about any crazy ideas for a fusion or inventive dish involving tortillas?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Garden Update...

We harvested our first couple of heirloom tomatoes today. After losing several to marauding bugs and the ravages of 97 degree sun, we were pressed into action. The ants that gnawed on my beautiful San Marzano tomato will pay dearly for their insolence. Also, any stink bugs, aphids, or worms out there: you are on notice. I'm not a violent man, but I do intend to commit insecticide.
In the midst of the tomato bacteria crisis, it's great to have fresh and organic produce from our back yard. The seedlings went in the ground in march, so it has been a long journey,
The big gnarly one is a variety called Dr. Wyche's Yellow. The smaller striped tomato is a variety called Black Zebra. We're looking forward to digging in and trying our first tomatoes.

We have a couple other interesting plants in the garden. There's a cute little banana pepper. It produced a giant pepper a month ago, and it has only now recovered enough to start another little one.


Tapdancing to Victory:
Shannon's dance studio hosted its annual recital this weekend. A steady parade of acts ranging from adorably befuddled 3 year-olds to the saucy "Dancin' Grannies" (song: "Don'tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?...." kept us entertained.

Shannon's group threw down a sultry jazz dance to The Beattles' "Come Together". They then tapped their way into our hearts to Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." She was showcased at the front of the formation for most of the tap routine, and we were all very impressed and proud. She is pretty agile for someone 5+ months pregnant.

Possible Cooking Challenge Date:
Preliminary talks are underway around the next Austin cooking challenge party. It's been way too long since the last one, the school lunch challenge.

We've tentatively targetted Saturday, July 12th for the showdown. Theme and format is up in the air at this point. Stay tuned and get ready to for some good times and eats.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lost Cat Poster

I'll admit that I was on the wrong side of a recent argument with some friends. In the waning hours of an outstanding backyard barbeque, I had a dangerous brush with a possum.

Inspired by several glasses of liquid courage, I intended to approach the possum and pet it. I had two objectives to accomplish: 1) to find out what a possum pelt feels like and 2) to appear in a dramatic photograph with said possum.

The horrified screams of the other partygoers interruped my plans. They apparently assigned a different level of risk to my plan, and I was scolded for my possum-foolery. I was envisioning a Crocodile-Hunteresque interaction with the glory of nature; all they saw was a trip to the emergency room to mend a mangled hand.

We argued for a while about true danger of a possum encounter, and eventually the critter slinked off into the night. On that note, if anyone here is missing a cat, someone may have found your pet.