Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Settling In

The apartment is smaller than I thought and the kitchen is going to be difficult. The refrigerator opens into the kitchen and I can't open it when I am inside. Nor can I open any of the cupboards as long as I am wheelchair bound. I have to go back to the home tomorrow to pick up some mail and when I do I'll let the therapists and social worker about my concerns. I'll manage though. I'll buy appliances I can use on a table and I do have my old beer fridge. It won't be ideal, but I am out of the nursing home.

By the end of the night I will have had my cell phone turned back on, ordered cable online (I am doing this at the local library), will have my bed delivered, and pick up some immediate necessities at Walgreen's. Tomorrow it's off to the mall to get some bedding. I just have to wait for Home Health Care to show up. Hopefully it will be before noon. I have a lot to do.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fear sets in

One more night here in the home and some things are resolved. I will have a bed delivered tomorrow afternoon. Afterwards I'll go buy some bedding and get something to eat and spend my first quiet night alone in the apartment (I don't have a TV yet but I'll have my laptop and some DVDs). The library is just three blocks away so I'll go over some time during the day to check my email and post here.

Tomorrow, before I leave, they will give me a month's worth of medicine and information about nursing and social work and such.

What is scary is what is in today's news. The state of Washington is slashing money from the budget in low income housing, disability insurance, and home health care.

An now I think I have the flu and diarrhea. It's a scary time to go out on my own.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two more nights

I am starting to get a little scared of moving out. The nursing home still hasn't put me in touch with DSHS so I don't know if a helper is going to come by every day or every week and they haven't arranged for a nurse to come by every day to change my bandages. The nurse who changed my dressing this morning is concerned that the wound on my chest isn't healing quick enough. I also still don't know if I have a bed or when it will be delivered.

Assuming someone, a nurse or helper, comes by every day, I need to know when so I can be out of bed to let them in. More stuff to worry about.

My friends took what boxes I had here at the home to my apartment and Paul is concerned that the place is too small for all the stuff I have in storage. I'll have to make do or get rid of some of my stuff.

I am also worried that I am getting a bug because my stomach has been dicey, but it could just be stress.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Three more nights

My friends came by and picked up my stuff a couple hours ago. As usual, they come through when I need them. The room seems pretty empty. All I have left here is my computer and the clothes I was wearing (I am regretting not keeping one change of clothes). By now, everyone here that matters knows I am leaving. I said my goodbyes to some of the people I expect tht I'll never see again. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of the old therapists, Joyce, who left last December come by to wish me well. That was great.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Keys in hand

I picked up the keys to my new apartment today. It took an hour to sign all the paperwork. Low income housing is a lot more complicated than just signing a lease. My hand is still feeling cramped from all the signing.

I hope I can get some sleep tonight. I didn't get any last night.

This morning I had a scare. The phone rang and it is under my bed. I reached for it and almost fell out of bed onto the cold hard floor. My head would have hit the iron footrest on my wheelchair. Fortunately I had pressed the call light before the phone rang so I only hung precariously off the edge of the bed for a minute or so, but my wrist is still sore from trying to hold myself up. I need to be more careful.

Still no word on whether I will have a bed ready by Tuesday. There is no way I will be able to fall asleep in my chair. I envy the old timers around here who are able to sleep sitting up. But I don't envy their drool.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Five Days and Counting

The process for getting our of here has begun. Tomorrow afternoon I pick up the keys to my new apartment and sign the lease papers. The rent is only going to be $533 a month. Saturday my friends will come by and pick up all my boxes from the nursing home, but I will stay here until Tuesday. Hopefully I will have a bed by then.

The fear of the unknown is setting in. It has been almost two years since I have last taken care of myself and I don't know how I am going to do it in a wheelchair. Either because of my disease or my medication, or maybe it is just this place, I suffer from night sweats when I sleep and often wake up drenched in sweat, my sheets cold and clammy. I usually have to have a nurse change them in the middle of the night. How am I going to do that on my own? But as I lay here listening to my roommate snore, worries like that see, trivial and not unsermountable. Tuesday can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coming soon...a new address

I got the apartment! It's in a good location in the University District overlooking the freeway. At night I will pretend I-5 is a river. It will be music compared to my roommate's snoring.

I don't know what the rent will be yet, but it will probably be around $700 a month for a one bedroom, one bath (though I won't be able to use the shower, the toilet seems accessible). I will have to learn how to wash in the sink until I can walk again.

The place is not very big not very big, but I can get in and out alright, including the kitchen (I will need to buy a microwave). Since I don't have any furniture I can work with the space. At this point I just need a bed and something that other people can sit on when they visit. Oh, and I'll need a big TV, and maybe a rug (the floor is tile). A rug would tie the room together.

They said I can move in Monday but I am going to call tomorrow to see if I can get the keys this weekend. I need all of my stuff out before Tuesday or the nursing home will charge me for a full months rent, even though my bed won't be empty for more than a day. The business manager acts as if I owe her personally. I will happily write my last check to this place on the 31st for the $240 back rent I owe. Once I get my stuff out of storage and sort things out, life begins again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pondering my first home-cooked meal

I don't want to get ahead of myself and already start planning on what I will cook first when I get my own place. Since my "incarceration" here in the nursing home, November 1, 2007, I have had two near-death experiences that set my treatment back to square one and have had housing opportunities slip through my fingers due to bad credit twice.

Still, as I lie here in my bed, listening to my roommate snore and Crazy Alice next door listen to her TV much too loud, I am fantasyzing what I will cook for myself first when I have a kitchen at my disposal. I am so sick of things that I have to microwave, so it will be something from scratch, or near enough. As much as I'd love a steak dinner with all the trimmings, I want to start off with something easier (and cheaper). I could make the Sloppy Guieseppes that I wrote about earlier, or just make spaghetti and garlic bread. Either would be simple (though I am a little leery of a big pot of boiling water as one of the first things I would make while in a wheelchair).

I think I'll start off with tacos. My tacos aren't all that different than the tacos any of you would make at home and, lord knows, there isn't a lack of good, cheap tacos in Seattle, but the difference is that these tacos will be made by me. They are the same tacos my Mom made for me when I was a kid (mine might be a little better than hers). They are just simple spicy ground beef American-Style tacos in lightly fried white corn tortillas with iceberg lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese, a little ketchup and a little Pico Pica Sauce (my Mom's favorite Hot Sauce). Except for cooking the meat, which is no different than cooking ground beef for spaghetti, except for the spices (for tacos I just use soy sauce, Pico Pica Sauce, and Penzey's Bold Taco seasoning). The tortillas I can just spray with Pam and pop in the microwave for thirty seconds. Of late I have been buying pre-shredded cheese so other than one frying pan, a spatula, a slotted spoon, and a plate (and a whole lot of paper towels) there won't be much fuss. (Since I will live alone I can drink my milk straight from the carton. My friends don't drink milk anyway).

Tacos sound good right now.

Another thing that sounds good is a meal that made me fat, but since I have lost 110 lbs. since I got sick, I can indulge myself one more time. That meal was boneless pork ribs, french fries, and heavily buttered creamed corn. Boneless pork ribs are simple. Just buy a boneless pork "butt" (shoulder) roast and cut into steaks, then cut each steak into at least three "ribs." Cook three ribs, freeze the rest in packages of three. Now that I know I can get Texas Best BBQ sauce again, I will make this as soon as I get a bottle. I usually do the fries in the oven, I haven't had a deep fryer in years and told myself I won't think of buying one unless I can stand up ay a counter for at least 30 minutes.

There are so many other things I want to make, and since it is unlikely that my disease will ever let me work full time again, I will have time to actually cook something more complicated than 30-Minute Meals. I have collected about 200 recipes off the internet that I want to try, including Seattle's The Brooklyn Seafood, Steak, & Oyster House's recipe for Clam Chowder (my favorite) and Angelo's Marinara Sauce (which I will use for many dishes including Shrimp and Clam Marinara with mushrooms and green olives over linguine).

I can easily come up with a years worth of meals, providing I first get a kitchen. Wednesday I look at the place and am 99% I'll apply for it. I am only 39% sure I'll get it. It is better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Search of Housing (Part Two)

I received an unexpected phone call this morning. It turns out the rules have changed and I am now eligible for low-income housing. There is an opening in an apartment building near 45th & 7th in the U-District (next to I-5). I have an appointment to look at it on Wednesday around lunchtime. Unless the place smells like urine or I can't fit my chair through the door I already know I'll take it. I want to get out of this place so bad. My roommate left his dirty diaper on the floor this morning, Last night the toilet kept running for hours and I didn't fall asleep until after four. I had bought a pair of ear plugs at the mall yesterday and tried them out. They are rated at 25 decibles and I could still hear the water running. I was also reminded how bad my tinitis is. I preferred listrning to the water run than the constant ringing in my ears.

In physical therapy I stood several times and it felt pretty good.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Groceries I can't find in Seattle anymore

Besides the aformentioned Bagel Dogs, I was thinking of stuff I haven't seen at the grocery stores here in Seattle in years.

Albertson's Bakery French Bread Pizza
- Even if there was an Albertson's still in business around here, I don't know if their bakeries still make French Bread Pizza. They are easy enough to make from scratch. Cut a large loaf of French bread in half lengthwise. Add just a little bit of pizza sauce with a little bit of finely chopped onion and add some shredded mozzarella and mild cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with oregeno. Put on the middle rack in the oven and broil until the cheese just starts to melt.

Larry's Frozen Poor Boy Sandwiches - Really just a skinny baguette with half-dollar sized slices of cotto salami, bologna and American Cheese with mustard. These are pretty easy to make from scratch as well. I usually use Sesame Rolls or Sesame hamburger buns. I nuke the cold cuts for 30 seconds first to melt off some of the fat, then build the sandwich and put in the toaster oven until the cheese melts. Serve with mustard and BBQ potato chips.

Larry's Frozen BBQ Roast Beef Sandwiches on Poppy Seed Kaiser Rolls - I have not been able to accurtly duplicate this and neither does Arby's. The only restaraunt that came close, and actually bettered them, was the formerly defunct Farrell's. The first problem I have is that it is really hard to find poppyseed Kaiser Rolls. Not every grocery store carry them. Next, I haven't been able to duplicate the sauce. It was spicy but just a little sweet. I probably should be looking at a cheaper brand of sauce rather than one of the gourmet brands. Then, what I really need, is my own deli slicer because the meat needs to be cut thin, but I find Deli Roast Beef often has a gamey taste. I can make a pretty damned fine roast myself. I am the King of the Prime Rib Dip Sandwich (another reason I need an oven).

Texas' Best BBQ Sauce - I first bought this at the Hickory Farms in Lacey, WA in the early 80s and later found it at QFC when I moved to Seattle, but I haven't seen it on the shelf in 15 years. It wasn't too sweet and had a little bit of spice. It had more mustard, I believe, than tomato and no molasses as far as I can tell. UPDATE: It is available again. You can get it here.

Spaghetti Pot Pies - I haven't even seen one in almost 40 years and then only at the Exchange at Fort Lewis. I believe Swanson made them and they came in the old foil pans like their pot pies. It was spaghetti with meat sauce (no crust) but my Mom would bake it until crunchy. I suppose these would be easy enough to duplicate with left over spaghetti and a pie tin.

Cherry Popsicles/Banana Popsicles (packages of six) - Though they still exist, I never see them in boxes of six by themselves. They usually come with other flavors I don't like, ie. Orange or Lime.

Mexican Frozen Dinners - Sure, most frozen food lines have a few obligatory Mexican dishses, but I can't find a brand that specializes in Mexican (like several do with Italian). I just wanted a beef enchilada but couldn'y find any, not counting Banquet.

Budget Gourmet Linguine with Bay Shrimp and Clams Marinara - Another thing I can make from scratch, but at ten times the cost. I don't know why they stopped carrying this flavor. I bought it all the time. I emailed Michelina's (who owns the Budget Gourmet brand) and asked them to bring it back.

Ore-Ida Cottage Fries - They still make them but they must not be popular around here because I haven't seen an Olympia or Seattle supermarket carry them since the 1970s. Until I have access to an oven (or a deep fryer) it's moot anyway.

Orr Brothers Burger Sauce
- Sort of a spicier version of 1000 Island Dressing, but damned good on a burger. I saw it exactly once at QFC about five years ago and bought a couple bottles, which were thrown out by my friends when I went into the hospital. They also sold a "Fry Sauce" that looked identical except for the bits of pickle. Fry sauce seems to be a Utah thing so I suspect the company is from there. I can find nutritional facts on line but no place to buy it.

"Chessboard" Ice Cream - I am sure somewhere this is still available. All it was was vanilla and chocolate ice cream in a box and when you opened the side of the box its alternating flavors resembled part of a chess board.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another Therapist Bites The Dust

The latest therapist to leave the nursing home was Kathy, who got fired a couple days ago, though I just found out today. She was the only occupational therapist that was hired after the great exodus of last December of all the O.T.s that I had been working with me since I got here. Apparently most of the old folks didn't like Kathy because she actually expected them to participate in their therapy. She, like me, couldn't stand to have her time wasted and was vocal about it. It bugs me that these old vegetables get wheeled into therapy and sit and complain or sit and drool, when I acually want to be there and get better, but only get 45 minutes a day and only about 60% of my therapists attention.

The old folks, and the bosses didn't care for her, I guess, but I liked her. She gave me back rubs and improved my posture. She made me work hard, but I didn't mind. Even though I haven't had much energy lately, I still managed to make my way down there to work with her everyday Monday through Friday. Now I am not motivated to go there all. There are still some good physical therapists like Tobey, X, and Arthur that I enjoy working with, but they work on my legs, and Kathy worked on my back and my arms, and we could talk about how crazy this place is, or in her case, was. I just am not all that comfortable with the other therapists. They come off as either condescending, treating me like just another old timer/child, or they are too much of a cheerleader type. Positive reinforcement is all well and good, but don't kiss my ass unless I tell you to.

I wish I would have known Kathy was leaving. I would have liked to say goodbye and good luck.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Search of Housing (Part One)

I started looking for a place to live today. I looked at one place that was near perfect, it's a block away from the nursing home, is in a fantastic apartment complex with four swimming pools and tennis courts, had a porch, a view, and was on the ground floor. A large one-bedroom apartment for about $800 a month, except that my credit is too bad. I think I am going to run into a lot of that.

Since getting my transplant in 2006, I haven't been able to pay my many credit card bills because my prescriptions were close to $500 a month (not counting the anti-rejection medication I couldn't afford because it was $1,000 a week after insurance). And now 99.9% of my disability checks go to the nursing home. When I had money I paid off a lot of the smaller bills, but am still left with four or five fairly large debts (though smaller than the National average). Bankruptcy is my likely future.

My social worker is trying to help me out finding housing, but I am afraid that I may be stuck moving into an adult family home. As long as I am still in King County, West of Lake Washington, and North of the SODO, I'll take what I can get (as long as it's safe and not run by religious zealots).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Latest from my Doctor

My infectious disease doctor gave me a clean bill of health, not withstanding all my other health issues. His only prescription was to "get the hell out of that nursing home and get some sleep." I asked him for a prescription for marijuana, but he laughed it off "it would probably help, wouldn't it."

I get the feeling that any doctor at Virginia Mason who prescribed marijuana would be fired, even though every one of them has told me that if I can get it, I should do it. Now if I could only find some.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Everybody Loves Pizza

I just started reading Everybody Loves Pizza by Penny Pollak and Jeff Ruby and skipped to the back to see what Washington State pizzerias were recommended. Pagliacci's, naturally, made the list, as did Zeek's, Belltown Pizza) which I have still not been) and A New York Pizza Place, which, IMO, if their pizza is authentic New York pizza I'll stick with Seattle's (not that it's bad, it's just un-extraordinary). Much to my surprise and delight, my favorite pizza place, Pazzo's, made the list. I feel vindicated. I have been trying to get Nancy Leson at the Seattle Times to review them for years to no avail. Leave it to a national critic to give Pazzo's a thumbs up.

As far as the book, it is choc-ful of georgeous pictures and tells the story of pizza's trek from Italy to the United States. The book says their are four basic American styles of pizza. New York thin slice, Chicago Deep Dish, Californian (which stretches the boundaries of toppings) and New Haven, CT (known for white sauces and seafood toppings).

As I said, I haven't really scratched the surface of the book yet (like most "cook books" I mainly buy them for the pictures) but so far it seems pretty interesting,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pacific Nortwest Hamburger Trivia

I am currently reading the book "Hamburger America" by George Motz. (Here's his blog). Motz reviews "the best hamburgers in America" and Washington State placed twice. The first one is Dick's, an easy choice for history, though their are many Seattle institutions that could (and should) rate higher in quality (Red Mill comes to mind), and the second is Eagan's Big Tom, in my home town of Olympia. I talked in depth about Egans, Dicks, and others, in my previous post on hamburgers. What I found interesting by reading the book is that what I called "Dick Sauce," what Egan's has trademarked as "Goop" is an anomoly to the Pacific Northwest. Besides Egan's and Dick's, many other PNW hamburger places (including Kidd Valley) serve a similar sauce.

The book is an interesting read, though I wish there were more pictures of hamburgers, but it came with an accompanying DVD that was very interesting (though way too short). It featured eight diners across America. They were:

Solly's Grill, Milwaukee, WI (home of the Butterburger, a hamburger with what looks like a quarter cup of butter on it)

Ted's Restaraunt - Meridan, CT (home of the Steamed cheeseburger)

Dyer's Burgers - Memphis, TN (a deep-fried burger that has used the same grease for 90+ years)

Wheel In Drive Inn (CLOSED) - Sedalia, MO (home of the Guberburger, a hamburger with peanut butter)

Bobcat Bite - Santa Fe, NM (a Green Chili Burger)

Louis Lunch - New Haven, CT ("inventor" of the hamburger that has used the same broilers for 110 years)

Meer's Store & Restaurant, Meer's, OK (Home of the hubcap-sized hamburger. They use only fresh ground, grass fed, Texas Long Horn cattle)

Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, Chicago, IL (home of the Cubs Curse and inspiration for John Belushi's SNL sketch "Chezzboygi")

Of the eight Bobcat Bite's sounds the best to me. The idea of a deep-fried burger, a burger with a stick of butter on it, a burger with peanut butter, or one that is steamed doesn't sit well with my stomach (plus they disparage mayonaise, Meer's calls a burger with Mayo a "Sissyburger"). I'd still eat there, but I might sneak in a jar of Miracle Whip.

I haven't dived very far into the book (and I am still waiting for two more books on hamburgers and one on the history of pizza from Amazon).

Hamburger America has shot a pilot and hopefully a TV series isn't too far behind. Their must be a million places for hamburgers in America and at least 52 must have interesting stories

DSHS Sucks

Yesterday I was informed by DSHS that I have to immediately cash in my retirement savings and, until it is spent, I will lose my Medicaid benefits. That means all the money I saved the ten years I worked for the University of Washington will go to the nursing home as rent until my benefits are reinstated. This also means that not only will I not have the money I was counting on to start my life over (ie. get a place to live and furnish it) but I will lose my seniority at the University so the likelihood of being re-employed there again is diminished. Suffice it to say I am not a happy camper. I have instructed my social worker to get me the hell out of here now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Recipes: Sloppy Guisseppe Sandwiches and Caesar Pesto Pasta Salad

It's ironic that after throwing up all day yesterday, I spent all night laying in the dark, thinking of food. If I only had a kitchen.

I would start off by making a chunky marinara sauce. I would love to say I make mine by scratch, but I usually just combine two jars of different pasta sauces (I usually buy Classico, Barilla, or Bertolli's, whichever is on sale, but avoid Prego, Ragu, Hunts, or anything too cheap or too expensive). Then I'll add some Italian stewed tomatoes and Italian diced tomatoes, and then some tomato paste to thicken it. Next I'll add large chunks of green peppers, onions, roasted garlic, and button mushrooms; and add enough ground beef to make the whole concoction thick enough too stick a spoon straight up in it. Serve it on a toasted garlic rolls with a bit of Parmesan. My version of an Italian Sloppy Joe.

Yesterday I went to Pagliacci's before seeing Watchmen and had a slice of their Primo Pizza, which was fantastic, and got a Pesto Pasta Salad to go. I love their pesto salad and it reminds me of one of my favorite potluck dishes.

First I usually boil two packages of rainbow spiral pasta. Drain the pasta and let it cool. Barely saute, in pesto, one pound of sliced mushrooms. Add mushrooms to cooled pasta, along with one can of sliced black olives, one cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, one small bottle of capers, one cup of toasted pine nuts, and one cup of diced salami. Finally add one 20 oz. bottle of Caesar salad dressing (I prefer Cardini's). Mix and let sit in the refrigerator until chilled.

It's a lot more complicated in flavor than that of the pesto salad at Pagliacci's, but has always been a big hit for me at the potlucks. It is also not all that complicated to make (it takes less than a half hour) and can be a side dish or the meal itself.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lack of sleep is making me sick

I have had it with Marlin. I am requesting a new roommate. I hope I don't get another old man who suffers from dementia, snores like a buzz saw, and pisses on the floor. He keeps me awake all night with his frequent trips to the bathroom, and yet he still mahages to just stand there in the dark, pissing himself and the room.

I have been throwing up all day and can't keep any food down. I tried some liquid protein drink and that came right back up. I am so tired. I don't want to wind up in the hospital again. It hasn't been that long since my near death.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Watched The Watchmen

I went and saw Watchmen today. I thought it was great. It has been at least ten years since I read the graphic novel, twenty years since the novel came out. Of what I remember of that book, I think the film is as faithful as possible, while keeping it accessible to those who haven't read it. It is sort of a cinematic Cliff Notes as many sub plots and tertiary characters were cut out (though all of that is rumored to be included as bonus features for the DVD).

At times the films visuals made me think of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but while that film was visually interesting but devoid of emotion, Watchmen had both. It is also packed with some great action sequences and some very good acting, especially Jackie Earle Haley as Rorshach, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian.

Though this is a "superhero" movie I would not take the kids. The violence is over the top and there are a couple fairly graphic sex scenes. It officially clocks in at just under three hours but only felt like two. I can't wait for the DVD.

Speaking of DVDs, there are two Watchmen related DVDs currently available, neither of which I have seen.

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is a fire-hour long cartoon version of the graphic novel drawn by the original artist and Watchmen: Tales Of The Black Freighter & Under The Hood is an hour long and includes two subplots cut from the film. I am tempted to buy these now, but I will wait until the Watchmen DVD comes out this summer in case these parts will be included in that DVD's extras.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Latest additions to my wish list

I'm not asking anyone to buy me any of the stuff from my Amazon Wish List (that is so 14-year old girl) I'm just saying I've added some new items that I hope someday to own (and maybe you would too).

On April 21 Rhino will release the 3CD/1DVD Jane's Addiction box set, A Cabinet of Curiosities, which will be 100% previously unreleased material (or at least very hard to find), including a complete concert from the 1994 Ritual de lo Habitual tour. The DVD will have all of their music videos and additional live material from a 1994 appearance on MTV-Italy.

On June 9th a 40th Anniversary box set for Woodstock is coming out. It's three discs includes 18 additional performances and a "Making of" feature almost as long as the original three hour film. As far as I can tell the 18 additional performances, or at least most of them, were once available on a 1980s laser disc/VHS tape, but make their first appearance on DVD and Blu-Ray. There are no additioanl Jimi Hendrix performances, beyond what was added to the 1994 "Director's Cut" but his entire performance is already available on DVD. There is some additional Who material on this new release, but if you want more, seek out their documentary The Kids Are Alright. Maybe someday their whole performance will be available. To me this is the most exiting rockumentary DVD release since the Criterion version of The Monterey Pop Festival. Now if we can get similiar treatments for The 1970 Isle Of Wight Concert, the Beatles Let It Be and Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, I would be a happy camper.

On March 24, the third volume of Turner Classic Movies "Forbidden Hollywood" collection of Pre-Hays Code Hollywood will debut. This volume focuses on the films of William "Wild Bill" Wellman. I have the first two volumes and am looking forward to the third. I hope they continue the series before these films are completely forgotten.

On April 7 Universal opens their vaults for the similarly themed "Pre Code Hollywood Collection." The collection does not lack for stars (Cary Grant, Claudette Colbert, Tallulah Bankhead, etc.) but unlike the Turner box, it seems to lack extras (the Turner box has two documentaries as well as six feature films and accompanying cartoons). Both box sets are around $30 each, so that works out to about $5 a film, which is cheaper than going to the movies today (and probably more satisfying).

Finally, an item that I already ordered from Amazon, but thought you might like to know about:

On March 17, the import-only deluxe version of The Who's Who Sell Out is released with both the original 1967 mono and stereo mixes and several additional tracks. As much as I love Tommy, Who Sell Out has to be my favorite album by the band. The set will include all the tracks recorded during the 1967 sessions, which means omitting "Melancholia" the 1968 track that was from the 1995 remaster. Hopefully it will be added to a deluxe version of Odds & Sods, as I think "Melancholia" is the Who's greatest "unreleased" track and the perfect bridge berween Sell Out and Tommy. (When you fall in love with this album, and you will, check out Petra Haden's all-acapella version of the album. It is great.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Food Blogs worth your time

Besides therapy, watching TV, and sleeping, there is not much to do around here except surf the net (if you are lucky like me an have a lap top). Every day it seems like more and more sites are being blocked by this place's ridiculous web security. The latest sites to be blocked are "games," which means everything from reviews of video games to "According to Hoyle" are forbidden. Thankfully they still let me read blogs about food.

My current favorite food blog is For the love of cooking, a recipe site with easy instructions and lots of eye candy. It is updated often and the number of recipes number 280+. They run the gamut of domestic and international cuisine.

The Impulsive Buy is a site that reviews "ready-to-eat" meals and snacks that are found at most supermarkets. The writing is fairly witty and it has saved me from buying some crappy food. Phoood, which isn't updated as often, is a similar site.

Unless you plan on visiting the Northeastern United States, the following sites are only useful as eye candy. Slice is a blog that mainly reviews pizza in the New York area, but the writers will review pizza places in other cities from time to time. Pig Trip reviews barbecue places in Boston and NYC. The Burrito Blog reviews burritos (of course) available mainly in New England.

It would be great if I could point to some Seattle-based food blogs, but there are almost none to speak. Many have been started, only to be abandoned. If I wasn't of pitiful fixed income, and currently of no appetite, I would try to start a local food blog myself. There was a blog that reviewed Seattle area taco trucks, but since there aren't that many taco trucks in Seattle, and since they tend to move when business is bad, the site died a quick death. Seattle has so many great places to eat it would be easy to have separate blogs for hamburgers, pizza, sushi, seafood, steaks, Thai, Indian, Italian, Mexican, breakfasts, etc.

The only Seattle food blogs of note are All You Can Eat, written by Nancy Leson, of the Seattle Times, and Voracious by the Seattle Weekly. Eating Seattle is okay but rarely updated. Seattle Food Geek is a site I just discovered and so haven't formed an opinion of yet, but so far it looks good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Still sick but still productive...sort of

Except for getting coffee, going to QFC, baking biscuits, eating biscuits, and some physical therapy I didn't accomplish much today. I did listen to all the commentary tracks for season 4 of The Office. I know most people don't bother listening to commentary tracks but, as a former film student, I often find them usually interesting. It was the commentary track for the Criterion laser disc version of The Graduate (sadly this version is not available on DVD) that pointed out to me how Mrs. Robinson wore lots of animal prints, and her home was full of jungle plants, and as Benjamin became less and less enchanted with Mrs. Robinson, he noticed his mother was starting to dress and do her hair like her too. (It was stuff like this that made me want to make movies).

Most commentary tracks are pretty dry, but I especially like the ones for sitcoms, because I often find them funny (especially the ones for Mr. Show, The Office, and the movies Orgazmo and Cannibal: The Musical).

Saturday I am looking forward to catching the matinee at the Neptune to see Watchmen. I read the graphic novel years ago and thought it was pretty cool. The movie looks cool and I expect at least a couple hours of eye candy. There is no way they can reproduce the book. First, it would be eight hours long, minimum (the DVD is rumoured to have hours of deleted scenes that restores many subplots that were cut out of the theatrical version). Second, purists are disappointed that the film is visually darker than the graphic novel, which was drawn in the style of "Silver Age" comic books. Short of doing an all-CGI film, ala The Incredibles, are just doing it as a cartoon, I don't know how they would have satisfird the die hard. Finally, I heard the ending of the movie is slightly different than the book, which frankly, I barely remember.

If you've read the Watchmen and want to read something similiar, but with more familiar carachters, you should check out Justice League: The New Frontier. It is a great read and there is a condensed DVD cartoon version for the illiterate. It is similiar in plot to Watchmen, in that superheroes have been mostly outlawed, except for Superman and Wonder Woman, who are working for the Eisenhower administration. It tells the origin stories for the likes of Green Lantern, the Flash, and Martian Manhunter. It's good, but it is so similiar to Watchmen that it should be bonus material for the Watchmen DVD. However the artwork is very different to that of either the Watchmen graphic novel or the film, so stands on it's own pretty well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Still sick, but I'm O.K.

I wish this cold would go away. It would help if I could get more than an hours sleep at a pop. It's nothing serious, thanks, just a head cold. I think I blew my body weight out my nose today and there is no end in sight. They can't give me much for it that wouldn't wreck my kidney so I suck on Halls and try to force myself to drink water. I haven't done much therapy for a couple days. I'll try to force myself to do some tomorrow.

I wound up watching most of the bonus material from the fourth season of The Office. The deleted scenes are as good as the show itself, but if they put the scenes back in proper, each episode would be an hour and it would probably get tedious.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fishy-fish, fish, fish. fish

I've never been a big fan of fish. I should clarify that. I like looking at them. I am fascinated by aquariums of all sizes. From the six-foot one in the nursing home's dining room, to the giant ones with sharks and octopi swimming in them. I surprise myself that after nineteen years of living in Seattle I still haven't been to the local aquarium. (I need to rectify that). I used to go to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma when I was a kid to watch the sharks and I am sure I must have been to an aquarium during the short time I lived in San Diego (I was three). When I went to Honolulu in 1990 I stayed in a hotel that had a huge, multi-story aquarium in its restaurant (I had the lobster). If I ever manage to go to the Bay Area again, I would like to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I used to waste many hours at work watching the penguins on the internet.

I enjoyed going fishing for Rainbow Trout in the Skokomish River and Lake Cushman with my parents as a kid. It is a happy memory. Sometimes I would go off by myself to fish for Blue Gill in Chambers Lake and Long Lake in Lacey (they were practically in my back yard). I didn't have much, if any, luck fishing in lakes. I would often see the fish but they were never interested in what I had at the end of my line. But I loved standing knee-deep in the cold water of a river. I didn't particularly care if I caught a fish, though I had much better luck, sometime catching a half dozen, but i'd keep at it until I caught at least two. I liked the challenge of reeling a fish in (finding a nice twelve inch trout, rather than a six foot tree branch, at the end of my lure was a rush).

I also like fishing equipment, much like I like guns. I don't need to use one, so I don't need to own one, but I still like looking at them and holding them. I think I might still have my spin-cast reel, but I lost my pole a long time ago. I think I still have a couple of lures. A Super Duper and a Red Devil. Something I never tried was fly fishing. My Mom did. She even tied her own flies. I've also wanted to try to talk my friends into chartering a boat and go salmon fishing out in Puget Sound. Now I'll have to try to find one that caters to wheelchairs if I want to do it (except no one in Washington does it. Florida yes. Washington no).

I've never really liked eating fish, so I stopped fishing a long time ago. For the same reason I don't hunt...if I'm not going to eat it I don't need to kill it. When I was a kid I found fish mostly tasteless, except for whatever seasoning was on it, lemon and pepper, for instance. I also had a trout bone stuck in my throat once when I was a kid and hated having to spend time there after searching for bones. I don't like working for my food. (Likewise I don't eat berries with seeds that I have to pick out of my teeth, and never again will I kill and pluck a chicken when I can go to the supermarket and buy one for five bucks).

I do love shellfish, which is not really fish, they just live in the same neighborhood. I remember, or at least I remember remembering, eating New England lobster when I was two years old living in Groton, Connecticut, the one year my Dad's submarine was stationed there. I also remember back when there were no limits or licenses for shellfish in Washington State, back in the late 60s, filling up the trunk with rock clams and oysters in Potlatch, then digging for razor clams in Ocean Shores.

I'm not a huge fan of tuna sandwiches, though my friend Todd made me a great one with horseradish and capers, and my Mom used to put in chopped up hard-boiled egg whites in hers. I also like tuna casserole, the kind with cream of mushroom soup. I add sliced button or Crimini mushrooms, Tabasco, garlic salt, and crushed black pepper. Some people add peas or crushed up potato chips, but that sounds gross.

I like salmon but never cook it. It seems like a lot of work and I prefer it grilled rather than steamed, and don't have access to a BBQ (or an oven for that matter). I leave cooking fish to the experts. There used to be a food stand at many Seattle Center events (Bumbershoot, Folk Life, The Bite) that made a great salmon sandwich, and I love smoked salmon.

They serve fish here in the home at least once a week. It is some kind of grey fish, often served on a grey pasta or grey rice. Its smell is nearly as bad as its looks. The only fish they serve that I eat is the occasional fish sandwich, much like the McFish, or whatever they call it at McDonald's.

Doctors say that it is important to include fish in ones diet because fish is a great source for Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and Vitamin D so I have tried adding more fish to my diet, but somehow I think canned tuna or a "fishwhich" is not the best source for these nutrients (I am sure I can ask my friend Paul if this is true. He is the healthiest eater I know).

Luckily, I love sushi. It is ironic that I had never had sushi before I went to Japan in early 1991, and didn't eat it there either (I was there four days and went to Shakey's, Burger King, and The Hard Rock Cafe).

The first time I ate sushi was with my friend Stefanie. It was a late night in Spring 1991. I had already gone to bed after a twelve-hour shift doing customer service for Eddie Bauer. She rang my buzzer one evening and invited me out. I didn't know her very well at the time, only that she was hot and I felt we made a connection at a party (we were both very high and very drunk). I buzzed her in and got dressed as fast as I could. At the time she was roommates with my friend Todd, before they hooked up and wound up being a couple for a few years., but at the time I thought she was single. When I answered the door, she was there with her "surprise!" boyfriend, Patrick, an oceanographer and a bit of an dick and a know-it-all pretty boy. Now Stefanie lives in Santa Monica and after 18 years she is still one of my best friends, but anyway, thanks to her I was introduced to sushi. They took me to a place called Hana, on Broadway and I loved it. I couldn't get enough of it. I think I ate everything on the menu, from eel to deep-fried shrimp heads. If sushi wasn't so expensive, I would eat it everyday.

I soon learned that Seattle is a great city for sushi and Hana isn't even in the top 20 except that it is really cheap compared to better places, but it is better than grocery store sushi.

Over the past eighteen years, since that first night, I have been to many places for Seattle, maybe a dozen, but I still have a couple dozen to try (many more if I leave the city limits).

Whenever I go someplace new I usually order the same three things.

#1 A Rainbow Roll (a California Roll with various fish and avocado wrapped around the outside). I find this to be very economical because I love California Rolls (especially if they use real crab instead of Krab) and it's a way to test the freshness of the sashimi (raw fish).

#2 A Salmon Skin Roll

#3 A Shrimp Tempura Roll

These three tolls are usually more than filling enough, and usually wind up costing me about $20. But if it is someplace new I will also ask the chef what is fresh.

When I eat alone I like to sit at the bar and watch the chef work his/her magic. I also find if you talk to them they'll sometimes slip you something special an unique in the house. Since I've been in the chair I have only gone out for sushi once and had to sit at a table. It was a little Bento place in Shoreline. The sushi was fine but maneuvering myself into the place was very difficult and detracted from my enjoyment. Before I spend all of my income tax return I'll give a different place a try. Maybe when I go see the Watchmen.

Sushi Restaurants In Seattle that I Highly Recommend

Aoki (uses real crab in California Roll)
Saito's (where Ichiro goes)
Red Fin Sushi
Sushi Tokyo (uses real crab in California Roll)
Ototo (try the Lobster Roll)
Shiro's (Seattle's most beloved sushi chef)
I Love Sushi

Honorable mentions

Hana (cheap)
Best Of Bento (cheap)
Kozue (cheap)
Musashi's (cheap)
Tokyo Gardens (cheap)
Rice-n-Roll (weird ingredients like steak)
Blue C Sushi (if you like conveyor belts)
Bush Garden (not great, but fun)
Benihana (see Bush Gardens)

Sushi Restaurants In Seattle that I still want to try

Wasabi Bistro
Toyoda Sushi
Umi Sake House
Moshi Moshi

There are a lot more and they open and close all the time. Even with this economy there will always be great sushi, and seafood restaurants in general, in Seattle. (San Francisco and Los Angeles are great for sushi too, but I haven't been to enough places there to recommend a place to eat).

I also collect sushi cookbooks (an oxymoron). You only need one or two, but I like looking at the pictures, so I have at least four. Ones that I recommend:

The Complete Book of Sushi

The Book of Sushi
Easy Sushi
The Great Sushi & Sashimi Cookbook

I have made sushi myself on a couple occasions. It is incredibly easy. If you can make rice, you can make sushi. Even rolls. I have made California Rolls (Crab, Avocado, & Cucumber) and Seattle Rolls (with smoked salmon, cream cheese, green onions). If you want to go with a traditional Maguro (Tuna) Roll or Nigiri (individual piece of fish on rice) you can usually find sushi-grade tuna at seafood stores and at Whole Foods, Uwajimaya, or online.

Here are some decent sites to get you started making, or just eating, sushi:

Make Sushi At Home
Make My Sushi
Sushi Encyclopedia
Sushi Day (Blog)
Eat Sushi
Sushi Dictionary
Sushi FAQ
Sushi Links
Sushi on Flickr

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Feeling better

I am feeling better than yesterday. I spent most of the day in bed watching season two of 30 Rock and eating chocolate donuts and chicken noodle soup (not at the same time).

UPDATE: 11:47 p.m. It is snowing again.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Still Sick

The doctor says I have an upper respiratory infection, so I have been spending most of the day in bed watching classic film noir (This Gun For Hire, The Big Clock and Ace In The Hole). I might watch a third movie since there is nothing on TV, but I am pretty tired. It snowed for about five seconds when I went to Starbucks this morning.

Friday, March 6, 2009

More snow?

Except for a quick trip to the mall to buy a Pretzel Dog (it was OK, but it was no Bagel Dog) I have spent most of the day in bed with a cold. At least I hope it's a cold. I don't need another bacterial infection. The last one almost killed me. That little fact was confirmed when I had lunch with my friend Todd yesterday (we went to Red Robin). He said that the hospital had called to ask him if I wanted to live. I guess I am lucky he said "Yes."

I hope I feel better soon. I would like to go see The Watchmen. But I am worried that the weather seems to be getting colder after almost Spring like weather. The bews says it might snow. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

First they giveth, then they taketh away

I got up this morning, hoping to see that the IRS deposited my $930 refund, so I could order my HDTV from Amazon, but instead found out that I am overdrawn by $258. When I add up all the debit cards and purchases I made since Saturday, I should be overdrawn about $50, which would include one overdraft fee. Whe I looked at my balance when I took the money out to by my replacement XBOX360, I forgot to subtract the amount for what I ordered from Amazon, I thought the amount of my balanc already included that.

I have never been good at balancing my checkbook, which is even bigger a bane of my existence than my health. I also seem to have to get rid of money as soon as I have it. At least I paid my participation fee here at the home, which is the check I thought might put me over the top, but they also usually hold the check longer and I thought I'd have got my refund by now. But because Amazon split my order into four packages, they charged me four times and each overdraw cost me $38.

I should get my refund this week, but it has now been cut down by almost 40%. I guess I won't be getting an HDTV after all. I'll save the rest of the money for food. At least I will try.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Look Out Below

The internet was down here until about an hour ago, but I didn't have much to say anyway. The post about hamburgers didn't get finished until two in the morning, so I didn't sweat not able to post for the day.

I still haven't got my appetite back and have barely ate since Saturday. It's taking its toll.

In lieu of anything interesting to say to day, I offer you this link for some cool eye candy (example of which is above.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Now that's a tasty burger

I can't remember the last time I had a really good hamburger. A thick juicy one. So juicy that it runs down the wrist and down the chin. A four napkin hamburger. All the hamburgers I have had since I went into the hospital have been of the thin, over-cooked variety. I can't describe how lame the burgers here in the home are except that they make high-school cafeteria hamburgers taste down-right gourmet.

I used to like Burger King, which there is one about a block away, but I have seemingly lost the taste for them. They aren't tasty enough to make me want to finish one. Even a Whopper Jr. is a struggle to finish. The only other fast food burgers that slightly interest me are Dairy Queen or Fatburger, both of which are on the Eastside of Lake Washington and not worth the multiple bus rides in my wheel chair.

At the mall on Saturday I was tempted to go to Red Robin, which I like, but the nausea I've suffered from for the past week or so was with me, and so I had to pass. I think the next time my friend Todd wants to buy me lunch, which he often has, I will arrange to meet him at the Northgate Red Robin. We have had many a burger there.I also like them because they have endless refills on fries and soft drinks, which now that I don't eat very much, means nothing to me anymore.

There are a few burger blogs I visit (see below), mainly looking for good "food porn." The one thing these burger blogs all have in common, is they only review cheeseburgers. I have never liked cheeseburgers. Mainly because I grew up having mayo on my burger and the combination of mayonnaise and cheese makes me gag. Actually, rather than mayo, I prefer Miracle Whip, which is what I was raised on, and what I think is infinitely better. My other toppings of choice are pretty simple. Iceberg Lettuce, sliced pickles and/or relish, sautéed mushrooms, and occasionally onions (but raw onions give me heartburn so I usually skip them). My only other caveat (if I am using that word correctly) is that I don't like tomatoes on my burger. I have never been a fan of raw tomatoes. To me, they practically have no taste and just make the burger wet, as opposed to juicy. Todd, and Paul, and all my friends actually, say that I am too picky. But, hey, I like what I like.

Whenever possible, instead of mayo or Miracle Whip, I will have what a restaurant that I used to go to when I was a kid growing up in Lacey, called (or maybe it was just me) "Secret Sauce," which was some variation of Thousand Island Dressing. It was inside the South Sound Center (mall) and the place was called "Ye Old Sweet Shoppe" (I don't think it's there anymore. If I remember correctly it became a Lens Crafter in the late 80s.)

At the same time, there was a burger stand called Eagan's Big Tom. They had a sauce called "Goop" that I absolutely loved, but didn't know what it was. There was also an A&W that I used to go to (it closed in the early 70s) and they sold what they called the "Mama Burger," which had a similar sauce, called "Teen Sauce," which brings all kinds of mental pictures in my head, none of them related to hamburgers.

Many years later, when I moved to Seattle, I found a another similar, if not identical, sauce on the "Dick's Deluxe" at Dick's Drive In. After eating at Dick's for many years, I think I figured out how to make what I have dubbed "Dick Sauce."

1 Cup Mayo (not Miracle Whip, because it is two sweet)
1/2 Cup Sweet Relish
2 TBSP Yellow Mustard

Pretty simple.

I can't think of a single hamburger I have had in Seattle that makes me crave one right now. I have had some good ones. A few that come to mind are: Red Mill, which is often voted "Best In Seattle" and it is pretty good be the best (but it's their onion rings that make me keep going back. Shultzy's Sausage is very good. It is served on a soft-ish baguette. I am not crazy about their french fries, so have their potato salad instead. Norm's in Fremont is pretty good, as I remember it, which is barely. The Two Bell's Tavern near Belltown also serves their burgers on a french roll and that don't have a deep frier, so again, I go for the potato salad. The Kidd Valley chain is hit and miss, as is Scooters in Ballard. Bad Albert's, also in ballard, has a pretty good bar burger if I recall.

The Burger of the Month group (1265 postings as of today) over at the Mouthfuls forum recommend a lot of places, notably the Lunchbox Laboratory, which in a past post I said I wanted to go. I think that the group still claim that The Palace Kitchen has the best burger in Seattle, but they aren't open for lunch, so I've never been. I find the place a bit fancier than the wardrobe I have available to me right now anyway.

As good as any of these places are, I would rather make my own. I take pride in being able to make a good hamburger. I have been making hamburgers, and cooking in general, since I was twelve. My mother oftem worked until seven, but I was home by three, so unless I wanted to wait for her, I had to cook for myself.

I remember some of those early attempts at burgers. Crispy on the outside, raw on the inside. I would wind up scooping out the raw part with my index finger and chow down on what was left. After a few attempts, I figured out that you don't cook everything on "high." (The only thing that should be high is me, but after I am done cooking.) I have made pretty good burgers ever since.

Hamburger Blogs of various quality

Hamburger America
A Hamburger Today
Portland Hamburgers
The Chicago Burger Project
Best Burger In Town (Chicago)
Hoosier Burger Boy (San Francisco)
Texas Burger Guy
World's Greatest Hamburger Blog

Let's Go To The Mall II

I wound up going to Best Buy and bought a new XBOX360. The old one was beyond repair. I hope to get my income tax return some time this week to get a new TV. I am sure the minute I buy it the home will replace all the old ones with new flat screens, which they said they would do since I got here (November 2007).

It's good to have a working game console. Maybe things won't be so boring now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Not much to say today

It was a pretty boring day. I have had absolutely no appetite at all, despite going to Safeway and buying a huge pork chop and potato. I stopped taking the antibiotic a few days ago and I am still waking up with a sick stomach and headache. I tried resting but the lunatics were out in force today with all their screaming.