Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mancation Epilogue: Meat is tasty, succulent murder

It was a very fun and educational three days at the Greenbrier. Now it's time for me to go forth and apply my newly-acquired knowledge.

I'll close this series of posts with two pieces of sage wisdom imparted during the trip. In regards to frequently lifting your grill's hood to check your BBQ, Myron Mixon says, "If you're lookin', you're not cookin'."

And from Uncle Chuck: "Mint juleps are like women's breasts - one is not enough, three are too many."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mancation Day Three: Going whole hog

The last day of class saw Myron, Chris, and Greenbrier chef Sue demo the following:

  • Crisp Spicy Southern Mustard Coleslaw

  • Jack's Old South Apple Baked Beans

  • Memphis-Style Championship Red Sauce & Western Carolina Pig Dip

  • Jack's Old South Competition Red Sauce

  • Bread Pudding

Given the time constraints, this part of the class wasn't hands on, but we did get to reap the benefits for lunch, as well as the whole pig that smoked overnight.

Graduation! And now I have another line to add to my résumé.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mancation Day Two: Smokers and puffers

That evening it was back to the lodge for class and a dessert bar. In addition to teaching us the finer points of making our own dry rubs*, Chris and Myron demoed the following:

  • Eight-Time World Championship Pulled Pork Shoulder

  • Jack's Old South Brisket

Afterwards, they tended to these larger cuts of meat, as well as the whole hog, which require overnight smoking.

We stayed at the lodge extra late that night to enjoy some cigars and beers with the chefs. Attending our class was Alex (above, in yellow), a journalist writing an article for Cigar Aficionado. We should be appearing in the May 2009 issue, I believe.

*I won't tell you exactly what's in mine (used for beef), but it does include kosher salt, garlic salt, and worcester powder.

Mancation Day Two: King of the hill

For our second afternoon, we took the Greenbrier's Off-Road Driving School on their Land Rover-designed course (35 miles of trails!). One group drove a four door Jeep Wrangler while ours took out the Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is on the short list for my next vehicle.

It was a whole lot of fun, but also kind of nerve-wracking, as one slip up would send you tumbling down the mountain.

Bonus: see me climb one of the smaller inclines and then get stuck.

A couple of more videos can be found on my YouTube channel.

Mancation Day Two: More food

Day Two and more cooking. This time we focused on ribs and chicken.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Coal-Fired Sweet Potatoes with Maple Pecan Butter

Jack's Old South St. Louis Ribs

Jack's Old South BBQ Chicken

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Chicken with Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q White Sauce* and St. Louis Cut Pineapple Sweet Ribs

Grilled Peaches with Apricot Glaze

Myron also showed us how to prepare Jack's Old South Whole Hog.

*"What line of work are you in, Bob?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mancation Day One: Lock, stock and two smoking barrels

During our first afternoon off we shot sporting clays. We were each given a 12 gauge shotgun and 50 shells, and shot from four different stations.

Curiously enough, it was my first time ever firing a gun that didn't require BBs or flying disks. I had a blast and am considering buying a boomstick of my own someday*.

I got (and currently still have) a memento from our afternoon - a wicked bruise. Yes, for most of the time my shotgun was properly set firmly on my shoulder, but the last station we shot from was like Shock and Awe. Birds and rabbits were furiously coming out of everywhere and, already kind of sore, I just quickly fired my 20 shells with wild (but safe) abandon.

In the end, I shot a gentleman's 25 (out of 50). Not bad for my first time.

*Plans will be accelerated out of necessity if an Obama administration comes to fruition.

Mancation Day One: Food

Our first day of the BBQ Mastery Class we were pretty much thrown into the fire. Our master chefs - Chris Lilly and Myron Mixon - took turns demoing the dishes we were to prepare and then set our team of seven on our way. The following are the dishes that we prepared:

Grilled Potato Salad

Fish Fry Slaw

Barbecue Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Coarse Basil Stuffing

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Livers

Grilled Chicken and Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Catfish Alfredo with Wild Rice and Orzo and Spicy Parmesan Roasted Corn

Pepper and Herb Crusted Flank Steak and Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Grilled Chops with Apple-Cranberry Maple Glaze

Grilled Fruit Skewers with Spicy Maple Cumin Glaze

Now, my strict anti-mustard and mayonnaise stance prevented me from eating everything we made, but what I did have was pretty damned good.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "California Girls" by the Magnetic Fields

Summer's winding down, so get out there and enjoy (if you are unlike me and actually relish the heat and humidity, that is). This song - off of the Magnetic Fields' aptly-titled Distortion - is my most listened to song on I guess that I'm just a bitter person.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bonus Crush of the Week: Leryn Franco

This week's Bonus Crush is Olympic javelin thrower and model/beauty pageant contestant Leryn Franco.

Even though she didn't advance to the finals, I've still got to say, "Go Paraguay!"

Crush of the Week: Jennie Finch

This week's Crush is Olympic softball player Jennie Finch. The U.S. may have only won the silver, but she scored a gold with me.

She is, as a friend describes, "softball hot."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mancation Prelude: Duck and cover

Shortly after arriving on Sunday afternoon, we took a tour of the secret Cold War-era bunker underneath the Greenbrier, which was built to house Congress in the event of a nuclear war. It was exposed in 1992 by the Washington Post*.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed except for at the very end of the tour, so the only snap I got was the one above. There's a panel that would slide over the blast door to conceal it from unsuspecting guests of the hotel. The "hiding in plain sight" construction of the bunker was pretty neat.

While you'd think security would be tight due to that whole "no photography" rule, you'd be wrong. Several times during our folksy guide asked the last person in the group to "close the door and make sure it's tight while I continue with the tour" (including the front entrance). Then there was the whole "if you don't want to go downstairs, just wait up here and we'll be back shortly" thing. And who could forget the "we're not allowed to go in that room, but go ahead and poke your head in if you want" part of the tour?

*a pinko commie rag

Mancation Prelude: Bienvenidos a White Sulpher Springs

Yesterday afternoon was the official end of my mancation* at the Greenbrier and I'm still kind of beat, so this part of the recap will be brief. I'm simply going to list what was served at our BBQ Mastery class's welcome reception:

  • Cornbread, Country Rolls, and Buttermilk Biscuits with Sweet Butter

  • Baby Spinach, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • Marinated cucumber and Tomato Salad with Fresh Thyme

  • Roasted Potato Salad

  • Roasted Vegetable Platter with Basil Pesto

  • Fresh Mozzarella and Sliced Vine Ripe Tomatoes

  • Grilled Gulf Shrimp with Herbs and Garlic

  • Smoked Sirloin of Beef with Wild Mushroom Jus

  • Smoked Rack of Lamb

  • Smoked Salmon

  • Greenbrier Smoked Peach Tea Quail with Peach Tea BBQ Sauce

  • Braised Collard Greens with Smoked Bacon

  • Corn Pudding

  • Country Style Green Beans

  • Smoked Tomato Grits

  • Country Spoon Bread

  • Greenbrier Peaches with Whipped Cream

  • S'mores Pie

  • Warm Berry Cobbler

  • Jack Daniels Pecan Pie

  • Cheesecake

  • Chocolate Fudge Cake

  • Granny Smith Apple Pie

No, I didn't try everything that was offered, but I will say that each day we consumed Michael Phelps-levels of grilled food. Last night I just had a bowl of Special K for dinner and I was perfectly fine with that.

*My uncle, brother, brother-in-law, two cousins, family friend, and I doing manly activities. Oh, and my aunt spent time riding horses, shopping, and chilling at the spa.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gone cookin'

Today I leave for the Greenbrier to take a BBQ mastery class. I'm not sure what the place's wifi will be like, so this blog may updated only sporadically over the next three days, if at all.

When you see me Wednesday (or thereabouts) I will be a BBQ Shaolin Monk.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "Starman" by Dewey Cox

Several months ago I had posted about John C. Reily's cover of David Bowie's "Starman" from the criminally underrated Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, but it bears repeating. This disco version is so absurd that whenever I'm feeling down I'll play it and it will immediately put a smile on my face. No wonder it's always either on my iPod's top 25 songs played or just barely missing the cut.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A dude's got to accessorize

My Livestrong wristband snapped recently (yes, in my mind it is still 2004) and I've been searching for a replacement. I bought this intertwined metal and brown string one at Target, which my brother-in-law thought I got at a Celtic festival. Hey, I think it's cool, but it just doesn't have the same feel. So I turned to ebay.

Yes, I found a casual way to support the Buckeyes daily during the upcoming college football season: an unlicensed knock-off OSU silicone wristband*. For $3 shipped, it's not a bad deal, considering here in Richmond it's hard to come by Ohio State gear. If only they'd open up a Buckeye Corner at Short Pump or someplace. A guy can dream, can't he?

In the next week or so I plan on visiting the University of Richmond bookstore to see if they offer a similar wristband for my beloved Spiders. That one will be for dressier, more formal occasions.

Speaking of college football, I'm getting my online pick 'em league set up today. If you want in, let me know. Yes, there will be a prize this year. It'll probably just be a DVD that I've weeded out of my collection, but you never know.

*I considered getting a Wriststrong band, but $7.50 + shipping? No, thanks.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bonus Crush of the Week: Stephanie Rice

This week's Bonus Crush is Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice. No xenophobia here. Like the Flight of the Conchords, I love all the ladies of the world.

Very nice, but my favorite Olympic Crushes will always be the Curl Girls.

Crush of the Week: Alicia Sacramone

This week's Crush is American gymnast Alicia Sacramone. She could probably use some cheering up, so I figured that being named my CotW is the next best thing to a gold medal. Right?

Kudos to her for breaking that whole female-gymnasts-look-like-undeveloped-twelve-year-old-girls stereotype.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The world according to gorp 2.0

Last night I mixed up my second batch of Uncle Micah's Old Fashioned Good Time Non-Hippie Trail Mix. This time I took some of your suggestions: I swapped the smoked almonds with cinnamon brown sugar ones and replaced the milk chocolate chips with Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips. I also doubled the amount of peanuts from last time.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Requiem for Chef

R.I.P. Isaac Hayes, 1942-2008.

Since he was such a bad mutha- (shut your blog), I'll refrain from making any cracks about Xenu and just say that the Shaft soundtrack is a funk masterpiece and he was hilarious in "South Park."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "The Barry Williams Show" by Peter Gabriel

In 2002, Peter Gabriel released "The Barry Williams Show," a scathing indictment of TV talk shows and trash culture. It's just too bad that it was put out about 4 or 5 years too late, as the popularity of Jerry Springer and his ilk had long since peaked. That's what happens when you spend 10 years making an album, I guess. The song's still a good one and the video features the oily Shooter McGavin, as well as a cameo from the real Barry Williams.

Requiem for a man who knew the importance of moisturizing

R.I.P. Bernie Mac, 1957-2008.

I wasn't the biggest fan of his, but he was great in the Ocean's films.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Crushes of the Week: mid-90s alternative chicks

This week's Crushes are mid-90s alternative chicks. See, back in day female-fronted alt rock groups were everywhere, much to the delight of hormonal fanboys such as myself. To quote a passage from High Fidelity:

Barry: I wanna date a musician.
Rob Gordon: I wanna live with a musician. She'd write songs at home and ask me what I thought of them, and maybe even include one of our little private jokes in the liner notes.
Barry: Maybe a little picture of me in the liner notes.
Dick: Just in the background somewhere.

Yep, Nick Hornby knows the heart of the male music geek.

Click to enlarge.

So, who was I totally crushed out on as college student? That'd be Toni Halliday (of Curve), Juliana Hatfield, Harriet Wheeler (of The Sundays), Justine Frischmann (of Elastica), Tanya Donelly (of Belly and Throwing Muses), Liz Phair, Anna Waronker (of that dog), Bic Runga, and Poe

In coming up with this list, I omitted three or four women who will be Crushes sometime in the future. No, I'm not going to name names.

For related previous Crushes, check out these mid-90s ska chicks.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Micah World Top 25

Here they are, the top 25 songs burning up my iPod (as of 8.06.08):

1. "Dream Girls" - Neon Neon
2. "All Green" - Clem Snide
3. "Time To Pretend" - MGMT
4. "Konichiwa Bitches" - Robyn
5. "Chewing Gum" - Annie
6. "Shameless" - The Fratellis
7. "Open Doors" - Josh Ritter
8. "Fort Hood" - Mike Doughty
9. "Once Again" - Steve Poltz
10. "I Wasn't Really Drunk" - Eef Barzelay
11. "I'm Just Raw" - Pigeon John with Lyrics Born & Del the Funkee Homosapien
12. "Heaven" - Club 8
13. "Flathead" - The Fratellis
14. "Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night" - The Fratellis
15. "California Girls" - The Magnetic Fields
16. "It Had To Be You" - Motion City Soundtrack
17. "Long Island" - That Dog
18. "That's Not My Name" - The Ting Tings
19. "Song Without a Chorus" - Butch Walker
20. "Starman" - Dewey Cox
21. "Hungry Like the Wolf" - Duran Duran
22. "Ballad of Bitter Honey" - Eef Barzelay
23. "Alone in the World" - Everybody Else
24. "Bowie" - Flight of the Conchords
25. "Red Dragon Tattoo" - Fountains of Wayne

The biggest change from the last chart is that most of the Clem Snide tracks have been supplanted by songs from my Summer Mix.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"I remember seeing a woman get toasted by a flamethrower" or "I've got mad internet research skillz, yo"

When I was a kid, twice a year my parents would load up the Family Truckster and take us kids to see our Grandparents in Ohio. Aside from basking in their love, spoiling, and swimming pool, one of the things that I loved most about the visits was access to Grandma and Grandpa's superior cable television service. They had MTV*! And premium movie channels!

I remember very little of the varied programming that I watched on these trips - mainly that space of my brain is reserved for a huge block of Live Aid, which my sister spent all of the event sitting on the floor next to the VCR, ready to press "record" when her favorite bands took the stage. Yes, unfortunately Freddie Mercury's tongue darting in and out of his mouth between choruses of "Radio Ga Ga" is a precious childhood memory.

I also recall waking up early to watch "Robotech" and "Spider-Man". And during the Holidays the cable company would run a "Merry Christmas from Warner Cable" promo that incorporated footage of George Bailey running through Bedford Falls, spreading Christmas cheer.

But one memory that's stuck with me all of these years is nothing but a tiny fragment. It's just a scene of a woman chained up in a dark room and then a man in a white get-up and carrying flamethrower enters. She screams. And that's pretty much it. Considering that short bit is the only thing that I remember from this movie, I assume it was just a pay-per-view promo that I saw.

So, this weekend I figured that I'd delve deep into the internets and finally identify this movie. I Googled the words movie, flamethrower, basement, and woman. Among the first page of results I found my likely answer...

From reading the synopsis, I think what I saw was a clip from Don't Go In The House, a Psycho knock-off from 1980. Deranged dude? Check. Captive females? Check. Fireproof room? Check. Flamethrower? Check.

And then I saw the DVD cover and that confirmed it: the guy's wearing a white asbestos suit. Memories rushed back. Yikes!

I've got to admit that I'm morbidly curious about this film. I kind of want to rent it and see if the whole thing is as scary as I remember that clip being. But I seriously doubt my library has this particular movie in stock. Maybe there's a torrent of it floating around somewhere.

Now that I'm a certified Internet Research Shaolin Master Killer, I've got another quest. One other short clip that I remember watching at my Grandparents' house involves a man driving a semi or a tanker truck. He's stopped by a cop, exits his truck, and slowly raises his hands. It's then revealed that he has shotguns concealed in each sleeve and he blows the cop away.

I watched some great stuff when I was 7 years old, huh?

*Nowadays that channel elicits a groan from me (I'm sure they'll find an excuse to give their only good show the axe any day now), but back in the day it was awesome. Trust me, kids.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "The Tide Is High" by Blondie

I always liked this song, but since I got Blondie's Greatest Hits this week, I freakin' love it. Sure, I very much enjoy the original by the Paragons and Billie Piper's very 90s pop cover is dated fun, but I think most people (at least in my age group) would agree that Blondie recorded the definitive version of this song. Plus, there's the added bonus of watching a coked out Debbie Harry in the above video.