After we walked out of the theater having watched Christopher Nolan’s new masterpiece Dunkirk, my DOD said, I know this wasn’t really your cup of meat*, but did you like it?

I gushed. I adored this movie. What a great movie. Look at how he told the story. Yeah, he said. The acting wasn’t so much the force of the movie. It was the direction. And the story.

And the soundtrack, I added.

That’s the thing about Dunkirk. Nolan goes out of the way specifically to not tell you this story in the typical way. There is no clear protagonist, no clear story arc. There is only one trumpeted moment of Hollywood victory. Every other moment of the film drops you into wartime and doesn’t pull you out until the credits roll.

Nolan has chosen to show everything and to tell nothing. Exposition in Dunkirk is held to a luddite minimum. And in most films, this would be where enjoyment breaks. In Dunkirk, it is a brilliant raconteur. It is a virtual reality machine. You viscerally experience the confusion and terror of war. By way of comparison, Saving Private Ryan toyed with this VR experience but spent most of itself creating the typical story arc. Dunkirk doesn’t do this.

Dunkirk is fully committed to showing and not telling. So if you have a friend or S/O who is the sort who asks questions during movies?

Go solo.

But go. This is a cinema experience you don’t want to miss. This is a gritty, horrible story beautifully shown.

*This is a phrase my Dad finds quite clever and I do not entirely disagree with him

A Groovy Oatmeal Recipe

Here it is in text. If you don’t want to sit through this guy’s weird video like I did.

1/2 Cup Oats
A small handfull of dried fruit.
1/2 to 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon cinammon
a pinch of allspice
chopped nuts (I like pecans)
A bit of whey protein (his add-in, not mine, though I might try it)

Other add-ins
Grape Nuts
Wheat Germ
Sesame Seed Nut Things
Nutmeg (fresh. What other kind is there?)

All’s you do is mix all this stuff into a cup or bowl (I like this one) and pour hot water in there later. Let it sit for 10 – 20 minutes, stir, and eat it. It’s really good. Don’t skimp on the nuts. It travels well, too, if you have a decent vial to take hot water with you (I like this one).

Taco Potion #20

The following is Alton Brown’s recipe for something he calls Taco Potion #19. And it is the best recipe he has ever offered in my opinion, and from here on out, you may throw away that taco stuff you bought at the grocery and use this instead:

2 Tablesoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1.5 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

That’s it. Mix it up. Good for one pound or so of ground beef.

Just for public service, here is that recipe x8:

1 cup chili powder
1/2 cup ground cumin
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup hot smoked paprika
3 Tablespoons ground coriander
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

So I’m making a mess of meat with it tonight, and I realize: Why is there salt in it?

I am not likely to just throw a pound of ground beef into a pan and steam it. When I brown ground beef I treat that stuff like it’s little steaks. Hot pan. Little morsels of meat thrown down. Kosher salt. I wait until they’re GBD and then I throw it into a bowl. So I’m adding salt.

And I’m probably not likely to use water. Especially if like tonight I have a half carton of chicken stock hanging out.

No. I propose a new iteration: Taco Potion #20.

Omit the salt.

The original proportions (now sans salt, a.k.a. Taco Potion #20):

2 Tablesoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1.5 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

And the x8 version because that is the only logical way to make it since your girlfriend and your Dad are both begging you to make it (now sans salt, a.k.a. Taco Potion #20)

1 cup chili powder
1/2 cup ground cumin
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup hot smoked paprika
3 Tablespoons ground coriander
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

I will always endeavor to label correctly. But from now on in my kitchen, Taco Potion #20 requires that you salt your own.

A perfectly reasonable modification. I hope Alton Brown approves.

See? Rich Lowry Gets It!

“What I think is most poisonous in our politics now–it’s not necessarily partisan conflict, we’ve always had a version of that throughout our history–it’s the distrust in our governing institutions. It’s the word ‘rigged,’ which now both parties are invested in. I think that is the worst word in American public culture.” (Rich Lowry, Editor, National Review, on Meet the Press, July 9, 2017)

Them Bats Is Smart

A co-worker went on and on yesterday about a place called Bathtub Billy’s. Seemed like a sign to me. New Saturday lunch junket for DOD and me. And it was pretty good. Decent burger, CB on tap.

I walked right to the bar and sat down. I have never been to this place before.

I happened to sit right next to this handsome fellow:

You are remembered and missed, Mr. Aaron Pryor, my unintentional namesake.

So of late I have become somewhat interested in trying new grooming methods. I have come to enjoy running a boar-hair brush through my hair, what’s left of it, and am testing beard oils and learning their proper use. Today, I took delivery of my razor start kit from Harry’s. Razors, sadly, are a product it’s too easy to procrastinate replacing, and that’s not good for shaving. Harry’s will be sending me eight blades every three months for about $16.

I know. This is exciting stuff.

Over supper, DOD reminded me of a classic David Letterman bit: Them bats is smart. They use radar. I had forgotten completely about this bit and had to look it up to even place the source. The audio is not good here. But, here it is: The bats is smart. They use radar. By David Letterman.

Forgive me if I go around saying this a lot for the next couple of weeks.

Independence Day 2017

I will never forget the first time somebody used the line on me. It was in a newsroom in Revanna, Ohio. I think the reporter’s name was Craig, and Craig decided to lay a trip on me about Jesus while I was finishing my obituaries or whatever. And Craig laid the line on me for the first time I have ever heard it. Craig said to me


I hope the look on my face at that time registered the sheer horror I felt at this horrifying statement. I mean I’ve always been a non-believer, I just stopped being shy about it in my 40s. At the time I was shy about it. But I hope my face looked like that time on the roller-coaster.

Because the sheer wrong-headedness of that statement is cruel and just downright wrong. Let us please be reminded of the introduction to Robert G. Ingersoll’s centennial speech: “One hundred years ago, our fathers retired the gods from politics.”

You may very well want to go read that speech on this day. Because it clearly defines what the Declaration was truly about: We are rebelling against a king. And kings have told us all along that their power comes from a celestial being. And we are basing an entire new experimental nation, at the risk of our own lives and livelihoods, on the notion that people should not be ruled by kings who claim to derive their power from “on-high,” but that people should govern people.

That is the idea that sparked the revolution. And we are no more a “Judeo-Christian” nation than I am Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

The Declaration was about Indpendence from kings who told people for centuries that they got to rule and have all the wealth and got to make life-and-death decsions because The Lord told them they could. Our colonies said balls to that and made us a plainly secular nation.

Happy Independence Day.

House Burger

The House Burger here:

Just under a cup of meat. Barely handled, rolled into a ball and salted. Then refrigerated. The metal spatula goes into the freezer. Hot cast iron pan. The meatball goes down and is smashed with the cold spatula. Three minutes for the first side. Flip. One round slice of brie goes down. Three more minutes.

A lightly toasted whole wheat bun is slightly gooed with mayo, then applied with fresh-cracked pepper. Burger goes down. Please note, I do not let burgers “rest.” Condiments include pickled red onions. Mustard. And a dollop of Crystal hot sauce in the center.

That would be the house burger in my restaurant. And my burgers would not be huge. Normal sized burgers. $3. Sides extra. I’d probably go out of business in a month.

Method notes:

Burgers should not rest. They should go right on the bun. The purpose of resting is to allow the meat to readjust its pressure so that juice doesn’t run all out when you carve. This is a burger. JUICE RUNNING OUT OF THE BURGER AND ALL OVER MY BEAUTIFUL BEARD IS THE ENTIRE POINT. I do not rest burgers. I bun and dress them immediately and gobble them.

I do not weigh the beef. Weighing means you have to handle the meat more. I measure by volume so I am handling it as little as possible.

Burger presses are delicous burger death. Burgers should be packed loosely with as little interaction with hands or tools as possible. I want the bites falling into my mouth, and I want the yummy juicy fat to be able to travel as it cooks. You do not get that effect by packing the meat tightly into a mold.

I want the meat cold and the things touching the meat to be cold. This is how you create a juicy juicy burger. Cold meat. Hot skillet. Do not allow the meat to get up to room temp. Warm meat means more of the the yummy fatty juicy leaves the burger. Cook it cold. You deserve it.

Palmer’s sells 75 – 25 meat. Can you believe it? If you can find that, buy it. I wouldn’t use it in chili, but for burgers, it’s beyond perfect. This debunks the notion that you have to grind your own. You sure don’t. Find a good product from a local provider you trust and buy that.

Hungry yet?