Thursday, September 13, 2007

Just a great week.

Finally starting to get back into the swing of things here in Madrid.

Monday was the usual morning of wake up, drink coffee, drink a liter of water and an hour later Wendy and I go running for three miles. Afterwards, Wendy jumped back into her work and I did a little writing and then got back into learning Spanish. There are eight lessons in section one and at the time we had head for the states, I had finished all eight and was starting section two. I did two lessons this morning, hoping to breeze through all 8 lessons again and get back to where I was as soon as possible. In the afternoon we went to pick up chicken for dinner. Tonight Lena and Stephan are coming over for a barbeque. Hopefully I won’t summon the bomberos (firemen) again.

Since I’m a steak guy, I’m not quite sure how to do chicken legs. I know they take longer, but how much longer? I think its like an hour but I better make sure and call my dad who gives me some good tips and lets me know its about 12-15 minutes a side for chicken legs.

Of course, if you can’t get a hold of your dad, or maybe you hate him and haven’t spoken to him for twenty years, there’s always the internets! Of course, you can look it up and read how to do it, but Wendy showed me something amazing and a little light went off. Wendy wanted to make sure she was cutting her basil right so she went to youtube and watched a video of it. It immediately dawned on me that I could probably learn anything I wanted to learn by watching it on youtube. Typing in “How to grill chicken” brought up a wealth of… well; I guess you could call it information.

How about this eerily weird and startlingly useless video called “How to grill chicken legs.”

Guy must have been high when he did that.

Or how about this useless video by a middle aged woman who’s really just wants to show you her breasts?

Or this one that is actually just a video of chicken grilling.

Of course there are some good videos out there. Like this one which I found very helpful called “How to Grill like a Pro.”

Of course, being the smart guy that I am, I didn't actually watch any of these videos until today when they might have been more holpful the day I was grilling... Wendy's not with me for my brains.

Tonight we’re having the pasta salad we had in Brignole and chicken which Wendy and I are providing. Since Lena and Stephan refuse to be freeloaders, they’re bringing a six pack of beer and red and white wine. They’re arriving at 8:00 and Stephan likes to play with fire as much as I do so I’m trying to calculate when to start the grill so it will be relatively hot and have the chicken on so when they get here we can have some drinks and talk and Stephan and I can kibitz about if the chicken is done or not.

I’ve recently moved from gas to charcoal and I’ve learned a lot this year and I’m still learning, as you’ll see. One of the things we picked up in the states this summer was a chimney starter.

I had heard these things were great, but I was a bit unprepared for just how fast this thing was going to start and turn my coals white hot. I was expecting the usual half an hour to forty minutes, but no, the coals were glowing brighter than I had ever seen coals glow before, and inside of 5-10 minutes. I poured them into the grill and added a couple more on top since they looked a little sparse.

By the time Lena and Stephan showed up (right on time) the charcoal was almost ash and I had to throw a bunch more shards on. Yes, shards. We don’t use any wimpy briquettes here, we go to a bent old man with bad fingers who has a large store so dark and sooty it looks like a cave. The charcoal we get there looks like it was just mined out of the back of the store and moved to the front in 20 kilo bags.

So, we have some wine and catch up while we wait for the charcoal to catch. And again, it catches very nicely and in thirty minutes the coals are too hot to grill with. Luckily, Wendy has a beautiful Weber grill with an ash collector and an air intake that can be controlled. So, in order to make the coals burn a little less hot, I turn the air intake down a notch or seven and in five minutes the charcoal is black and cold. Did I mention I had put the chicken on then turned it down? So we have limp squishy chicken covering the grill and no fire. There’s nothing else to do but get a couple pot holders, lift the grill off, and restart the fire. Stephan, Lena and I take turns holding the grill, building up the coal, splashing lighter fluid on it, and fanning the flames with last months Glamour while Wendy fights with her Ipod trying to get us some "Music to light fires to" and checks in every minute or two to see if there's anything she can do.

So embarrassing.

A man that can’t make fire isn’t a man! I knew I should have just made a towering inferno like last time and damn the Bomberos! Full fire ahead!

Inside of fifteen minutes the fire is going again and the chicken is happily dripping fat on the coals causing flames to lift up, singe the chicken and give them a nice smoky flavor. We’re using Nancy Tellier's chicken baste and I’m basting every five minutes and turning and rotating chicken around the grill to hot and warm spots depending on how done they are, something I learned from my executive chef brother in law Todd Flint at my birthday party this summer.

Soon, dinner is served and it is delicious. The momentary troubles with the grill forgotten we plow through 14 pieces of chicken, a quart of pasta salad and two bottles of wine. The evening is deemed a success!

Tuesday I got up and played some WOW for five minutes, logged off and realized it wasn’t doing it for me. I’m just not into MMORPG’s right now and logged into account management and canceled the account until I feel like playing again. Then was more blasting through Spanish, doing some writing, dinner and more “No Reservations” after we pack up work for the night.

The episode we watched tonight was Hilarious with a capital H. It was also biZZarre with capital double ZZ’s. Usually he is open to everything there is to eat, and not for the shock value to show “I can eat anything” sort of bravado, but because he really likes it. Brains, liver, kidneys, eyeball, he doesn’t care. He likes to see what people can do with food in countries where the people are so poor they have to use every part of the animal or risk starvation.

Today’s episode was on Africa. Namibia to be precise. He starts off in Walvis Bay but quickly moves outward to the Bushmen of the barren desert. This is where it gets bizzarre, baffling and disgusting. His guide and translator on this leg is Arnold Huber, a German immigrant that fell in love with a female of the tribe and married her. When it’s explained that the tribesman have huts but don’t live in them, they sleep outside and only go inside when it rains, Wendy and I both wonder if he sleeps outside with her or in a hut.

And then one of the tribesman comes back and says he has discovered an Ostrich nest but didn’t want to take the eggs, lest the ostrich return and kill him. So, the crew and a bunch of Bushmen go back out and raid the nest. Then they build a fire and wait until it gets down to coals, crack open an egg, and pour the inside into the coals.

Okay, there has to be a trick to this, right?

A half an hour later, they pull the egg out, brush some of the ash off, and eat the egg. Anthony, usually up for anything, takes 2-3 bites to be polite and then lets everyone know that it tastes just the way it looks.

Eggs. Dirt. Ash. It’s a dirt omelet!

So, at this point we’re asking – How come the German guy doesn’t get them a skillet?

Seriously. Does he have some prime directive where he’s not allowed to interfere with their lives at all? Jeezus buy them a 4 dollar pan and show them how to eat eggs without dirt and ash in it.

Next up is the big warthog hunt. A hunt which is successful. They bring the thing back to camp to clean it. Or, not clean it as the case may be. Since Anthony is a guest, he gets offered the best part, prized for it's high fat content -

The Anus!


The best part of this is when they cut out the anus and some of the intestine then squeeze the feces out of the intestine, out the anus to land in the dirt, and then throw the whole thing into another pile of ash that used to be a fire. At this point Anthony looks at the camera and grimaces. This from the guy who has no problem eating raw seal eyeballs 6 hours after it was killed on a hunt he was a part of.

He takes two bites to be polite and then hands it off to someone else with a bad look on his face.

“Worst meals of my life. I seem to be eating just a lot of dirt and feces on this trip.”

Again, German guy, buy them a skillet for God’s sake!

We go to sleep with a smile on our face still chuckling.

“I seem to be eating just a lot of dirt and feces on this trip.”

Wednesday was coffee, water, running thirty more minutes, and then transcribing notes from Brignole. Holy cow was the forty bucks I spent on a digital recorder one of the smartest things I have ever done. So many memories come back that I would have forgotten to write down when I listen to the notes weeks later. I write four gloriously funny pages, take a break to watch some “No Reservations” with Wendy and then return to my desk and write another three pages and quit for the night feeling like a real writer. Seven single spaced pages is a lot.

We retire to the terrace for some white wine and books and when it starts to get too cold and windy, head back inside to lie in bed and watch some more Anthony.

I got up this morning and decide to play the Nationals top eight mono green deck and lose in the first round to a total tool. I decide I’m not enjoying playing because it’s not a deck of my own design and instead switch back to “I just like it, okay?” my Sprout Swarm, Wurmcalling, Overrun deck. I win the first round against a U/B Teferi deck thanks to a timely Overrun in the first game, and a timely Acid Moss + Creeping Mold in the second leaves him with one desert for land. God I love beating U/B Teferi decks with Sprout Swarm! AHAHAHHA!

Here’s the current version.

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Creeping Mold
21 Forest
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Overrun
1 Pendelhaven
3 Scatter the Seeds
2 Serrated Arrows
4 Boreal Druid
2 Gaea's Anthem
4 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
4 Sprout Swarm
3 Wurmcalling

4 Hunted Wumpus
4 Tormod's Crypt
4 Essence Warden
3 Krosan Grip

So far, its performing about 60% win rate in the eight mans.

And, so far today, I’ve written 5 pages and the day has barely started.

I so rock.


  1. WoW not doing it for you??? Where are you at in there? The game now begins at 70. Heroic 5 man instances are the best thing ever. Karazhan 10 man is great as well. Arena pvp will get your adrenaline going like nothing else.

  2. ahaha
    Feces and dirt this trip.

    He is not liking wow because he doesnt need to be distracted now.
    games like wow were great when he needed to go somewhere without leaving his house. Now thats not neccesary.
    He will like wow again when there is a need to.

  3. When do you side in Hunted Wumpus?

  4. I loved WoW in its time, but right now I'm just tired of it. I've been leveling and playing these games for 10 years now. At 61, killing orcs, I just think "Do I really want to do this for 9 more levels?" and right now, I just don't see it. I'll be back when that seems great to me again, which it will at some point.

    You side in hunted Wumpus against decks you know don't have any big creatures, like Zoo or the new token/overrun decks. You get a 6/6, they get a free 2/2 or 1/1. Seems like a good trade.