Wednesday, October 28, 2015


That Mets person is a coach, not a player, and that is obstruction. Wilson should be called out.

World Series has arrived and if MLB promotion ads want to repeatedly equate the '86 Buckner error with the Mets winning the world series then I want to point something out:

Rule: 7.09 "It is interference by a batter or a runner when --(h) With a runner on third base, the base coach leaves his box and acts in any manner to draw a throw by a fielder; "

(a) The offensive team shall station two base coaches on the field during its term at bat, one near first base and one near third base.
(b) Base coaches shall be limited to two in number and shall (1) be in team uniform, and (2) remain within the coach’s box at all times.
PENALTY: The offending base coach shall be removed from the game, and shall leave the playing field.
Rule 4.05 Comment: It has been common practice for many years for some coaches to put one foot outside the coach’s box or stand astride or otherwise be slightly outside the coaching box lines. The coach shall not be considered out of the box unless the opposing manager complains, and then, the umpire shall strictly enforce the rule and require all coaches (on both teams) to remain in the coach’s box at all times.
It is also common practice for a coach who has a play at his base to leave the coach’s box to signal the player to slide, advance or return to a base. This may be allowed if the coach does not interfere with the play in any manner.

In the Game 6 incident, the Mets First base coach, is Bill Robinson, is approximately 10 feet beyond the limit of where a coach can go, he has intentionally moved to distract Buckner, who is a mere 6 feet from him, instead of the 15 feet the field coach is supposed to be. It's inexcusable considering the situation for a coach to interfere with the players. That coach can do nothing but interfere with the play standing where he is. When Buckner overran the ball he almost collided with the Mets coach who had to bounce back out of the way and scurried like a cockroach to join the celebration at home. I've seen first base coaches move up and down the line but rarely will you ever see a first base coach actually in the same location as a defensive player with the ball in play. Usually they run away from the ball but in the case of Wilson's groundball, the first base coach ran toward Buckner intentionally trying to distract him. This was not caught by the home field umps. the Sox didn't protest, but it's clearly obstruction by the first base coach, who would've collided with Stanley and Wilson had the ball been fielded by Buckner. Since all the Mets were coke and crack fiends I'm sure this can be blamed on mid-eighties drug addiction.

I would not bring this up but MLB wants to shove that play in my face repeatedly during the World Series so I have to say something. This gets into the realm of the pine tar incident, except for the fact the field coach is truly trying to distract Buckner's peripheral vision because he has the same uniform as Wilson, who is running, so Buckner might think there is a player 6 feet away from him and has already reached first base, but it's not. Wilson is way down the line. Simply a dirty move by the dirty Mets coach. I can say definitively that Mets manager Davey Johnson did not influence that play and I can say the home plate ump didn't influence that play, but I can not say definitively that Bill Robinson did not influence that play, and since he is a coach and had no business on that side of the coach's box, he is guilty of obstruction and the Mets are cheats with a giant * next to that '86 win.

P.S. I was real pleased that the Mets were 2 outs from winning Game 1 tonight and managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Bravo Royals! It's weird, but Game 6 in 1986 was played on October 25, and because of the ALDS and Wildcard the 2015 World Series didn't even start until October 28th.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Leather Hat Bands

I'm a small step closer to opening a Custom tooled leather hat band store. You might think the rivets connecting the straps are intentional but that is what happens when I cut the leather flat and the whole thing doesn't fit right because the crown of the hat leans back. It would take some engineering to cut a one piece leather band. But I like the rivets because they can be adjusted.

Oggy's Spirit Symbol

The straw sombrero is from El Paso
I guess the idea is to practice cutting and tooling leather for my dashboard, which is a daunting project. I managed to find a leather gouge tool but I was too impatient to practice with it for any length of time. I dove into the project without any tracing or idea of what I was going to carve, inadequate lighting, no hard surface to work on. I'm not a big fan of the flowers that are typical leather tool designs. I considered burning it with my solder iron but I think chemicals were used to tan this big shoulder of leather, Guatemalan chemicals, so they are double bad and burning Guatemalan chemicals near your face is no bueno.

 I heard a sad story while in Guatemala that the humane society was dumping 60 dog corpses a week into a nearby river along side a pile of car batteries and used motor oil. Actually, another story was the terrible algae blooms in Lago Atitlan, because there is no sewage treatment and all sewage runs into the lake. So, some scam company says they have a chemical that can treat the algae. First off, there is no way in the world a Guatemalan chemical company is going to be based off of tested science, so that's the first red flag. The second red flag was some family relation between the company and the official who decides it is time to clean up the lake. The final red flag was the chemical was some god-awful untested cocktail of death. Did they test it on another lake, or even in a bathtub? Oh, no. Nothing. Did they even test a small amount on the lake first? Oh, no. The Guatemalan way is to dump the entire inventory into the lake, untested, without warning, take the money from the scam official and buy a Land Rover...wait until all the fish die and unexplained rashes appear on locals...and then a real biological chemist determines the "cleaning chemical" is ten times worse than any bacteria or algae or human shit that was in the lake to begin with and this was the worst thing they could pour into the lake. Lago Atitlan is one of the highest volcanic lakes in the world and god help you if you drive there.
The chemical company mysteriously disappears, the official vanishes, maybe beheaded, the lake water deteriorates further and that is the cycle of insanity in Guatemala. That's not related at all to leather hat bands but I thought I would share it anyway.

They have fancy leather stain, but I use $1 Guatemalan boot shine

Up close at Oggy's leather craft skills. Symmetry is not a strong point. Note the Eyelet.

Oggy is on a leather craft spree. Plusera and another pick holder

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Daily Pulse Check

If you listen to this song and snap your fingers or tap your toes then you are ok. If you don't move at all then you are in trouble.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Too True

This random phrase generator is pretty funny. It creased the corners of my lips for the first time in a dog's age. Reading about police killings reminds me of the countless cases of the police trying to antagonize me into self-defense, brandishing their guns, tasers, shouting, one getting me in a Junk Yard Dog wrist lock and neck slam that he felt sure would get me to react in a way that would justify an extrajudicial execution. But no, my back and shoulder pain prevent me from making any actions that would be viewed as 'aggressive' so they always let me go after getting the dogs to search my dirty underwear. I live the life that puts me into contact with bully cops on a regular basis so I'm very concerned that I will be tased, jerk erratically, and the cop will determine that my muscle spasms are actually me reaching for a button that will detonate a bomb in my ass, and so he will execute me 'to save himself'. It happens every day and no charges are filed. Slowly, the dissidents are being executed by public servants. Not by accident; by design.

But the phrase generator gave me reason to laugh again.

Here's one from Corporate slogans:
We will help to enable indexed solutions for today's profit-driven dot-com virtual corporations.

We are continually evolving, helping to enable indexed eBusiness solutions for today's pyramid-based corporations. 

From Financial slogans:
In the Asian market, plan to prorate lump-sum long positions.

Deferred systemic risks: in insolvent market segments, always insulate them.

Political Slogans:
Unlike myself, my opponent wants an America where tribal warlords and 24-hour news networks can undermine our hard-working neighborhoods.

Know this: that I believe in our Bibles, our powerful SUVs and our right to use up the world's resources.

Know this: that I will protect our McMansions, our right to shoot brown people and our judicial system.

Random headlines:
 8 Fascinating Needlepoint Tips From William Shatner

 Wine reviews:
Champs de Kairet mixes absurd smack flavors and a sinful gingerbread finish in their 1992 Bordeaux.

 I laugh because a Nicaraguan dairy farmer was asking me about America because he had heard stories of men migrating there to wash cars, and sending money home to Nicaragua, and I was trying to explain the real economy and imagine the scene with us sitting in a mud hut with no electricity far away in the old Sandinista rebel wilderness, a fire burning in the corner, cows mooing in the late evening breeze, we are both shucking beans for tomorrow's breakfast. And I say, in tortured Spanish,

"Jobs in America are jobs making software, applicaciones, to put your cat's photo in different geological locations."

He's incredulous, "My cat? Gato?"

"Yes, a gato...but not a real cat, a photo of a cat. A digital photo, not even something you can touch."

"A photo? Americans photograph their cats?"

"Oh yes, photographs, and video, sometimes whole documentaries. The cat is real, but the photo is never developed or printed."

"Videos of cats?"

"Yes, you take a photo of your cat, and take the photo and upload it to the software, and the software can change the expression of the cat's face. This is a very profitable idea in America. Americans trust and admire this kind of software. That is how to make money in America. Someone who washes cars would be looked upon as dirt, totally worthless, a slave. But an application to edit cat photos or generate odd, useless slogans is very profitable."

He grabs another bean pod to shuck the 4 pinto beans into a bowl that is slowly filling. "I do not understand."

A lightning bug flies by in the breeze. "I don't either."

 And when I read one of these random phrase generations..."We will continue to resell web-enabled business metrics for today's leading virtual eMonopolies" I laugh because they are a parody of a parody, but also true.

Here's one I wrote:
"Commoditization of keystone resources for salient underwriters is our specialty."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Film Study

I was going to make this a screenshot trivia question but no one seemed to take any guesses so I will give you the answer.
Not a coincidence the sun is there.

In 1984, one year before he would direct Back to The Future, Robert Zemeckis directed Romancing the Stone, and in this shot from 2 minutes in we see his eye for detail. The opening vignette is actually a film adaptation of the end of a romance novel that character Joan Wilder is writing and narrating at that moment. It's like a dream sequence, but the audience doesn't know it yet. So, this is a movie, based on a fake book, being written by a character within the real movie, which was written by a totally different woman in real life, and directed by Zemeckis. If ever there was a chance to 'mail it in' this was it, because the romance novel is supposed to be cheesy, unbelievable, poly-Anna, harlequin. But Zemeckis can not help himself and set this less-than-1-second shot of the woman riding away on the horse in such a way that as soon as the horse's head pulls aside, the sun appears brilliantly because the camera places the horse head directly between it and the sun. Seconds later three armed men appear, intent on killing the woman. Her savior appears on a hill , completely disguised because the sun is actually setting behind him.
Intentionally cliche

Well, seconds earlier the woman has to shield her eyes to look at him...and now the sun is setting behind him and perfectly sets him in silhouette. This is because the hero is on a bluff (which looks like, and indeed is, in Utah) that ends in such a way that the sun shines on the woman but not the hero. I'm telling you, this 4 minute sequence probably took a week to film and I don't think this was an assistant director because the shots are too stylized. Most of it is shot outside, in a National Park or near Zion, and that demands major effort due to lighting. Check out this scene here, which also explains why the boat at the end of the movie is named "Angelina".

I point this out because the details Zemeckis applied to this fake movie within a movie based on a fake book within a screenplay are perfectly executed and actually show exactly why Back to The Future is so good. This is also the first legitimate feature film for composer Alan Silvestri, who would compose the great themes for Back to The Future and Forrest Gump too. I often like to point out that people who pine for the Eighties and moan that 'movies were so much better then" are cherry picking films like Romancing The Stone, which is basically a case of the stars aligning behind a totally unknown screenwriter to turn this into a very strong movie that stands the test of time. Quality and talent will always withstand the effects of time. Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Zemeckis, DeVito, Silvestri. These figures were cornerstones of cinema for a decade and beyond. The Eighties had plenty of terrible duds but Romancing the Stone is not one of them. The cinematography and production design are trademark Zemeckis.

Odd Song

I heard this in the gym today and I thought, "Holy shit, someone wrote a song about mopeds?" But no, the person simply doesn't know what the fuck a moped looks like. Those are all scooters. I didn't see a single moped in the whole video. Mopeds have pedals. Scooters are basically step through motorcycles with small wheels. Mopeds have pedals and scooters don't. Someone should write a song explaining the difference.

Dear Macklemore & Ryan,
Mopeds have pedals and scooters don't.

Sincerely, 1974 Vespa Ciao Moped

These guys also have a cool song about conservation.  Over half my clothes come from a thrift store so I feel obligated to share it.

Animal Humor

Lobsters Think They Are in Pet Shop

Kitten Unaware He is "Free to Good Home".

In Defense of Thoreau

I often target Brown University graduates as becoming hired philosophy thugs, Think Tank spin doctors, Idea Mercenaries, propagandists drinking mocha latte Gelato shakes at 2 am, putting a fixed wheel bicycle in their Ford Explorer and driving to a park to go riding and ponder how to cast doubt on Climate Change. I know the type, schooled in flim flam, buying low and selling high, "invest in income property" was their class slogan. Those lawyers who are still defending the asbestos and cigarette industry all came from Brown. Ask a Brown law school graduate if Lead paint is harmful and they will calmly say, "The studies are inconclusive at this point, your honor, and though we are sympathetic to the victims we ask this suit be dismissed for lack of evidence." I think Brown Law students are required to memorize that response like baseball players learn to stay back on a curveball. Brown Law students are the perfect storm of a godless, pragmatic culture devoid of reflection and lacking ethics, but who score 1580 on the SAT. I usually target the Ivy League schools because I think all of the Enron criminals were graduates of Ivy League. Check out the really devious Wall Street thieves and you will find they all learned their skills in the Ivy League colleges. And these crooks end up being the Ivy League's biggest promotion tool. Look, we created financial magicians! One of the greatest monsters of the modern times is Alan Greenspan, and yes, he went to Colombia. The engineers of the Trillion dollar bailout scam were Ivy League to the core. It takes smart people to engineer the economic collapse of a nation in order to accumulate more property and wealth, and Ivy League colleges have been producing these types for 200 years. First you have to engineer a baffling economic system and then you have to exploit the loopholes you hid in the schematic. Milton Friedman, architect of passive proxy fascism that decimated Central and South America, went to Rutgers, so I guess he didn't apply to Brown, but everyone else who does appallingly horrific white class financial crime is either a Brown grad or a close approximate. Henry Paulson went to Dartmouth and Harvard, worked for Goldman Sacks, became Secretary of the Treasury and then gave away $1 trillion to the banks he helped destroy. He's not in jail, in case you are wondering. I could go on, but if there are any real research journalists out there who want to study why Ivy League colleges are failing to pass on any ethical guidelines to their graduates, be my guest. (Yes, there are some alumni Brown can be proud of. Of course there are. Don't pay any attention to me.)

So, it wasn't much of a shock when I read a slanderous hate piece titled "Pond Scum" about Henry David Thoreau (who was an Ivy League Grad) and learned the author is a graduate of Brown named Kathryn . She delighted herself with an iconoclastic lashing even Thoreau would think was overboard. I get that the younger generation must shit all over the heroes of their fathers, but my suspicion at the bottom of it all is that attacking pseudo-icons like Thoreau is simply easy money for Schulz. Who is going to defend Thoreau? Who gives a shit about Thoreau? Hipsters? Is there one fucking hipster in all of San Francisco who can point to Walden Pond on a map? No. Those stoned idiots can barely point to Colorado or the Grand Canyon. They will never point to Concord, Mass. Half of them were born in Mexico so why would they care about the birthplace of the American Revolution? So, since that is the intended audience of this overwritten piece of shit essay of vitriol against Thoreau, it's merely fluff. It's an easy essay to write, like playing the villain in a Bond movie, or saying you don't think Citizen Kane is a good movie. Sure, play the Devil's Advocate and your pub crawl buddies will drool over themselves, barely paying attention to you as they text one another dirty jokes on their smart phones. Again, this is the product of Brown University Journalism department. If you are going to pick on someone, make sure they are dead and basically forgotten. Make sure there are no consequences to your work. Fluff sells. Hipsters like fluff.
A living turtle much like the turtle Thoreau donated to the Harvard zoology museum.
Schulz's wordy essay points out all the tired contradictions that have pointed out a hundred times before about Thoreau. He's like the Golom of America, a creature we have created in order to either hate because it's unpopular or defend for the wrong reasons.

So, my defense is two fold. First, essays like Schulz's are bullshit, flim flam from a fucked up University Grad who is too young to be slandering people she knows nothing about. She doesn't even point out that Thoreau's name is pronounced THOR-oh. The accent is on the first vowel. Maybe The New Yorker has sunk to hiring fluff writers with fancy vocabulary and trendy targets, but that doesn't mean she's being sincere. The whole point of her essay is to slander a dead person, long dead, and question why anyone admires him. Well, she doesn't interview a single person who admires Thoreau. In fact, she gives no evidence at all that anyone admires him. That's a big oversight for a thesis that depends on contradiction something. And the simple reason she didn't provide any evidence that Thoreau is admired is because NO ONE ADMIRES HIM. Schulz's piece is subtitled, "Why do We Love Thoreau?" yet she does not provide a single example of someone who loves Thoreau. She writes that the book Walden is "A Classic". Is it? I know lots of people write that it is a classic, but that doesn't make it a classic. I went to the Thoreau appreciation week in Concord. Yeah, me and about 23 other people, most of whom were there for the free tea. 23 PEOPLE OUT OF 300 MILLION AMERICANS. More people love Charles Manson! Do you see what I'm saying? Devout admirers of Thoreau are as rare as a Hybrid car in the Lehman Brothers parking garage, but skin deep fan boys are a dime a dozen. So, of course Schulz fails to find one devotee to interview. She merely manufactures her essay purely from her own template of East Coast hate, with some quotes from older essays and some quotes from other dead authors to prove she can read too. Brown University shines again! Does she put one admirer of Thoreau on the stand and question their beliefs and allow them to respond? No, because she never found one. She assumes that because Thoreau is a known individual with a Wikipedia page and a few books in public domain that he is admired. What a crock of shit. Kids reading his essay against slavery in high school admire him like they 'admire' J.D. Salinger. They don't care about Thoreau. They are merely doing the assignment that the teacher gave them. So does Schulz interview one teacher who assigns Thoreau essays to his class? No, because that would require some work that is far beyond the scope of the fluff journalism that Schulz has mastered*. The teacher would simply say Thoreau is a good choice because he has an interesting story that keeps kids from falling asleep. They don't admire him, they are using him to combat fatigue. It's either Thoreau or Martin Luther King and we can't study both. West Coast students have never heard of Thoreau because they read essays by Cesar Chavez, whom they also don't admire. Schulz is far too casual with her assessment of admiration. For me, it takes more than a bumper sticker or a few lame quotes, or even the existence of a book on a shelf to demonstrate admiration.
Yeah, let's pick on this guy. What an asshole!

I looked up a previous employer of Schulz called Grist. It's an "environmental" website and at first I wondered why a tree hugging hippie was slandering Thoreau. Then I visited the site and realized it is a pure Hipster Generation bullshit website. Total click bait lacking any substance at all. This is where Brown University stoner journalists go to die, they end up writing for Grist and patting themselves on the back that maybe in 20 years they will pay off their student loans, because Grist makes no money. That's why Schulz left to work for The New Yorker. They make no money because they write articles like, "Are Vegetarians Secretly Eating Meat When Drunk?" Fluff! The website should be called "Chaff". Some assholes asked 20 stoned college kids a question about food they eat when drunk, and turned it into a 'research poll'...and that poll becomes the subject of a fluff piece of Grist. Why? How reliable is a stoned person talking about what they eat when drunk? This has zero substance. The age of the Internet has borne some poison fruit and I would put Grist in this category, along with many many "news media outlets" that serve up thousands of fluff pieces about their special interest. There's no advertising so they are probably paid through lobbyist Think Tank funding, in this case from Left Wingers. The NRA gun zealots get paid by their tribe, and the hippies get paid by their tribe. Both are abysmal, vapid, lurid, ponderous. There is simply not enough room on Earth for middling writers who don't have any experience living, haven't given anything any thought, don't know anything, and don't know how to research serious topics. Luckily there is plenty of room on the Internet for their horrible and self-absorbed essays. So they fluff their own opinions up like a chicken getting out of the bathtub until it appears they had something to say. But I am not fooled. These writers have nothing to say. They would have to live and die and live again before they could write something interesting to me. They merely learned how to stretch a headline onto 1500 words because maybe one of those 1500 words will be one you are searching for and you might click on their babbling piece and they might earn some $5 bonus per click if someone reads their piece. Hell, I might be buying someone dinner by linking to that shit, but I have to do it to prove a point. Anyway, this is where Schulz is coming from and it is where she belongs. She learned how to flim flam at Brown University and Grist taught her to master the art of saying nothing elegantly. Now she's a coworker of the ultimate fluff writer, Malcolm Gladwell, who originally went into advertising before moving onto a career advertising his own opinion. Great! Her statement that Thoreau lacked humor, coming from someone as dour as Schulz is pitiful misdirection; Thoreau is like Mark Twain compared to Schulz and Gladwell. The fact Grist was focused on the Environment was absolutely irrelevant to Schulz and all the staff writers there. She took that job because it was stepping stone and maybe the ExxonMobil propaganda newsletter didn't offer her enough money. She didn't care about recycling any more than she cared about the rain forest or Walt Whitman. Her air travel schedule is busier than the Dali Lama's. She burns through more jet fuel than Donald Trump. A Grist essay on global warming was academic to Schulz, a business decision, a bean to count. This is the nature of an Ivy League Thought Mercenary. She learned the lesson in Brown well, trade up, keep moving, take no prisoners. Never reflect, never contemplate, never pause, never transcend. Move your cheese. Why she is picking on Thoreau is topic I want to end with.

The current generation of youth is poisoned by discontentment and resentment and vitriol, but they are also generic. They must shit on Thoreau just like I mocked Disco, even though Disco is still more popular than Concord hermits. Thoreau is an easy target, like Hitler or Nixon. He's quasi-iconic, misunderstood, like Che Guevara and the writer can skip over tons of introductory research because the subject comes prepackaged in the reader's mind. I'm certain the environment means nothing to the modern young urban generation, but the topic of the environment is very important. The environment is important for their photos and they like to talk about going camping in Yosemite or white water rafting, or zip lining through the cloud forest. Fucking useless hipsters. These are good topics to discuss on facebook, but the actual significance is completely over their heads, as remote to their lives as NASCAR is remote to a community of Nicaraguan dairy farmers. But Nicaraguan dairy farmers don't write essays about NASCAR, because that would be presumptuous. Oh, but a Hipster in New York City will write all day long about nature. What a joke! What nature? The park where joggers get raped? Is that nature? Ants moving rubber trees requires reflection and serious contemplation and that is not possible for the modern smart phone generation so they merely have enough coherence and acuity to realize the environment is a topic to discuss and argue about like the price of silk or saffron. It's en vogue, but they have only a passing grasp of Thoreau and his work, like equating Ian McKellen with Gandalf. Thoreau is partly to blame since he sincerely didn't care about explaining or promoting himself. Schulz probably recognizes this hypocritical shallowness in her companions but not in herself, so she set out to slander someone whom others were praising for the wrong reasons and with casual flippancy. Modern journalism is meant to antagonize without any substantial consequence, so I see this piece, Pond Scum, as a perfectly grotesque and shallow essay, lacking any evidence of the main thesis, directed at stoned, uneducated hipsters who don't even know why they are praising someone but will thoroughly enjoy arguing with one another over the validity of Schulz's fluff piece.  The piece and the audience belong together. It's a new low in journalism, narcissistic, pointless, selfish, badly constructed, fluff, aimed at people who don't deserve any attention. Gross.

As for defending Thoreau, I now think this piece doesn't even warrant a response about Thoreau himself, because the motives are so poisonous. Go watch a tree grow and get back to me in 5 years and maybe we will have something to discuss. I've done the hard work in observation and contemplation; have you, Mr. Youtube? I wrote a screenplay based on Thoreau's life, for what it's worth, and would be happy to represent the Pro-Thoreau faction so conspicuously absent from Schulz's Anti-Thoreau screed. I guess a search for Thoreau zealots didn't turn up my blog. I might even give some insight on Transcendentalism, Thoreau's guiding philosophic principle, which Schulz never investigates. Essays like hers makes me think my screenplay should be produced but it also demonstrates why it will never be produced. I wrote the screenplay with profit in mind and the Hollywood rabbit hole it led me down is another story but it did teach me one thing: 150 years after Thoreau died people still don't understand him because they fear the change that comprehension might bring. I don't admire Thoreau as much as I identify with him. He could see in 1845 the chain of events that would lead to an entire generation being uninformed and arguing over mis-categorized icons in a digital universe whilst having idle conversations about something totally unrelated in person. Schulz thinks Thoreau was being grandiose, but she actually proves his point on many fronts; she is the enemy he feared a nation that lacks contemplation would produce. And he knew that such a lifestyle was more than desperate; it was dishonest and unenlightened, shallow, inauthentic, unexplored, unexamined, and invalid...also inevitable. 

He wrote that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Thoreau was wrong about one thing: they aren't quiet. Schulz does a great job of loudly appearing to be enlightened, but in the end she exposes her twisted roots failed to inspire her to ponder and contemplate the art of living. She merely learned how to pretend to see shapes in the clouds.
I went to the woods...

Stephen Hawking said that, "the human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate size planet, orbiting round a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a billion galaxies" Thoreau was content with being pond scum, he did not contradict that statement; he merely wanted to explore the exact nature of living as chemical pond scum, for his own edification, which is antithetical to a Brown graduate. Someone pursued a goal that was not only unprofitable, but had no profit motive at all? Yes, such people exist and they are generally reviled by Capitalist mercenaries and their minions. That transcendent peak was an ambitious enough goal for one life and Thoreau managed to write a few words on the topic of intentional living. Anything else you want to read into Thoreau's remarks is purely your own psychological baggage revealing your own feeble motives. Yes, he was superior, and he really wouldn't care what you thought about him, but he was kind enough to lend me some of his disdain to help me write this essay.

*This is a totally unfair accusation because Schulz actually is a skilled interviewer and researcher. But she wants to pick on Thoreau so I'll take some cheap shots too.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Oggy's Pizza Scale

I am old enough to start developing numerical scales for topics such as pizza. I also worked in a pizzeria recently and it was kind of dream being able to talk for several hours with two different pizza chefs about pizza. One chef wanted me to be a partner but I translated that into me losing a lot of money so I passed it up, but it got me thinking that I should start baking pizza. Cars and pizza could keep me intellectually entertained for a long, long time. I should say I've never had pizza in Europe (I don't count the British Islands) so the field is still open but this list covers my whole life in the Western Hemisphere.

So, instead of saying, "oh, the slice was good." I want to get specific and say, the slice placed at a 7.5 on the Oggy scale of pizza. But what is the scale and how do I define it? The other day, I had a slice of pizza and the crust was curled around a hot dog, which was baked together. It was about a 6 on the Oggy scale and I want to describe that scale so I can refer to it later and give my references depth and weight and legitimacy. This is not to judge pizza that was badly prepared or accidentally had white onions, which I hate. This is to judge pizza that was properly executed.

1. Pizza that gets a grade of 1 (one) is barely pizza. It's more like bread with some cheese. I remember long ago I had pizza at a cafeteria in Alaska and it was truly awful, watery because someone failed to thaw the cheese correctly, the crust disintegrated. If I squeezed it I could create a puddle. A bad recipe and approach all around. Ingredients frozen since the the last ice age. That gets a grade of 1.

2. The crust might be a little more firm, but this is a step above frozen pizza because the dough is not rolled right. No love. Ingredients are awful.

3) Cafeteria pizza of the high school variety. I grew up eating pizza every lunch for all 5 years of high school. Sometimes I would get two slices. I used ketchup and salt and drank a chocolate milk and if no one was looking then I slipped an ice cream cookie sandwich in my cargo pockets. 5 fucking years of pizza. The pizza was not watery because they brushed the sauce on and there were no ingredients. It was just simple cheese. It had no taste. We sat around and talked about sports. It was below average pizza. Most pizza in Central America and Mexico rank as a 3 or 4, thick bread, a sprinkle of cheese, no jamon, often cooked early in the day and a sheet of plastic is placed over it to keep the flies off and then they throw it in the microwave to heat it up. Pure survival pizza. Also, if a chef microwaves* a slice of pizza to rewarm it then it automatically gets a grade of 3.

4) When I walked home from school in 1986 our dinner would either be frozen pizza or Pizza Hut pizza, so you see where my love affair with pizza comes from. I had pizza sometimes for three meals a day. Cold pizza in the morning as I walked late to school, pizza for lunch, and pizza in the evening. Frozen Pizza is like Tony's or whatever generic brand you eat. It's totally edible but it's frozen and I usually over-baked it. Papa Johns, Dominoes and most factory pizza joints fall in this category. When I was growing up I thought Pizza Hut Pan pizza was a 10, but I think it is now a 4.

5) This is your average slice that I've had a million places. I just ate about 6 slices of average pizza in Paraiso, Costa Rica. They were totally average, cheesy, super cheesy, 'gigante', jamon/ham, salty, ok cheese. Edible. That's all I can say about it. I eat a slice of average pizza like breathing. It means nothing to me and there are thousands of chefs churning out average $2 slices.

6) Like I said, I had a slice the other day that had a lot of love given to it...Hot dog inside the crust, cleverly perforated, good cheese, lots of ingredients and salt. It was slightly above average, like Papa Ginos. There is a pizza joint called Imo's in St. Louis that has round pizzas but cuts the slices in squares. They use Provel cheese. Really good. I also make a pizza out of Matzo crackers and pasta sauce and cheddar cheese in a toaster oven that ranks as a 6.

7) Ah, this is usually the glass ceiling of pizza grades for Oggy. This is where you really have to put some effort into the slice. A grade at 7 or above separates quality from average. I will say that Arcata Pizza and Deli in California threw down a quality pesto sauce and riccota cheese pizza that was a 7. Considering they also had other cool items on their menu that is impressive. A good Greek Pizza joint I remember when I was growing up had quality grade 7 pizza with crust that was crispy and thin like a corn chip. A place on Route 1 in Mass also has grade 7 pizza. Chicago corn bread crust pizza is a grade 7.

8) Elite pizza. This is gourmet pizza and they usually have nothing but pizza on the menu. Kittery, Maine has a pizza shop with pizza in this grade. Home Slice in Austin has grade 8 pizza slice. The whole ensemble of a grade 8 pizza is outstanding, the ingredients, the presentation. I can only think of a few slices that rank as an 8. I go a long way to get a slice of 8.

9) I had a pizza in Quito, Ecuador that I've never had before or since that had crust made from pastry dough, lots of layers of pastry dough. Everything else was normal but it was basically Baklava with cheese and I thought I had died and gone to pizza heaven. Imagine a butter croissant as a pizza. It was in a Chinese restaurant so I don't think they knew what they were doing but they knew what tasted good and they had assembled something delicious and it looked like a pizza so I have to categorize it as pizza. For its rarity and taste I have always remembered that pizza and will probably never find another example. These pizzas are like pretty girls I've danced with and never spoken to again, war stories for my dusty days in convalescent home, the memory of grade 9 pizza actually is strong enough to sustain me through times when I have no food.

10) There can be only one: The best of the best, for me, is a place near Melbourne Beach, Florida on the inter-coastal waterway about ten feet from the beach. I had my first slice of pizza there in 1992, so it is probably gone. I forget the name (Later I remembered it's name is Bizarro Pizza) but I once was driving through the bible belt, somewhere in Indiana, on my way to Louisiana, and I took a 1400 mile detour to Florida to get a slice of that pizza. I still dream about the slice of white sauce, ricotta cheese and roasted garlic on a paper plate. It was twice as good the next morning because the garlic had infused everything. This was very traditional N.Y. style pizza, huge, floppy, and served on a white paper plate. All they made was pizza and the menu was on the wall. They had no paper menus. You simply picked the size, sauce and topping. I remember they had 4 or 5 slice offering ready to reheat. Unbelievably good pizza. I have had pizza slices in the sidewalk windows in Brooklyn, and Boston and Philadelphia and Denver and Los Angeles and Seattle and Chicago, which all rank around an 8 or 9, and it was basically the same but in Melbourne for some reason it was better. Until something dethrones that pizza in my memory it remains as the best slice in the Western Hemisphere.

*This is a pizza sin. Microwaves have no place in the life of a pizza. If it must be reheated then use a cast iron skillet.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Humble Meal

I've written about Pastor tacos, Asada tacos, quesadillas Arabe and Arrachera tacos and also Carnitas tacos. I've even had pig meat cut from the pig laying in front of me on a platter. Asada is my least favorite preparation but maybe I haven't had the higher quality that is found somewhere in Mexico. Asada is a step above shoe leather, which I've also had. My most favorite meat* taco is hard to rate because the Arrachera tacos in La Paz are the best due to ambiance and condiments, they are basically prime rib cut into strips on a flour tortilla so the price is high, but the Carnitas plates in Puebla have more variety (7 different parts of the pig including uterus, snout, soul, etc...and the Arabe taco is only found in Puebla and is a rare, delicious taste with added cheese because I am decadent.

But further south along the Spanish-plundered Americas, the cooks dismiss all the fancy details and simply deep fry the pig fat/flesh and roast the meat. The skin is fried until it curls like rock candy and is called "Concha" The meat is simply Chicarrones. Since I have to eat the Concha and meat with my fingers there is a traditional simplicity that I like and the flavor is simple and salty, no fancy sauce or salsa like the Arabe and Pastor.

Skin and Meat
Most people seem to eat this directly out of the bag like I do, but I have seen this prepared in Mexico by chopping the Concha into smaller pieces and mixing it with chopped meat but the markets here have a meat deli with Concha and Meat by the Kilo, and this particular meal of one piece of meat and two Conchas cost about 600 colones, which is $1.30. The only down side is the skin often has bits of fried fur left on it which don't really taste like hair but the idea of eating fried pig hide fur is not appetizing. But I still like it, which says a lot about the appeal since what other meal can I say I repeatedly buy knowing it will include fried fur?

Some folks in Texas offered me a bag of these...
or others called 'pork cracklings' and these are an abomination, obviously. they have only a mild resemblance to the Concha but are infinitely harder, months old, processed to death, and have all kinds of additional ingredients that make them atrocious. But fresh Chicharrones are delicious.

 Everything in Costa Rica is more expensive. I think this is the place Americans go to when they don't want to move to Florida or already live in Flordia and don't want to move back to New Jersey. But Costa Rica is actually more expensive than Florida. I could buy a mobile home on the Space Coast for $8K and that wouldn't buy me anything in Costa Rica.

But travel wouldn't be travel if I knew what I was getting into when I left.

*Breaded and fried shrimp tacos in La Paz, purchased from a street vendor with fresh condiments are definitely in the all-time Oggy Food Hall of Fame. Fried fish tacos in La Paz are also good but a good shrimp taco with salsa is the best.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Saddle leather

Measure and trim pig shoulder for dashboard.

Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.