Sunday, May 27, 2012

READING: You're Not Doing It Right

This week's read:

My obsession with Michael Ian Black dates back to The State (Toothbrush! Pants! Barry and Levon!). I've seen him live twice (Stella and stand-up), read just about everything he's ever written (from McSweeneys to Purple Kangaroo), and pretty much use Twitter solely to follow* him.

So it was no real surprise that I liked this book.

It was surprising that it made me cry.

In fairness, everything makes me cry, but still. Based on our two-decade stalkership, I was expecting the usual dark humor and dick jokes with the added bonus of snarky parenting stories. Which isn't inaccurate. But given that Black is fairly private and almost always in character, I was surprised at how unflinchingly honest his memoir is. He doesn't bare his neurosis in the calculated, cute way that an actress might "confess" that she loves video games and cooking shows. He bares it all in a very uncool way that kind of makes you (meaning me) want to punch him and then hug him, or hug him and then punch him. Getting his ass kicked by a fellow nerd in high school, exploiting his father's death to get unlimited access to sugary cereal, sobbing over a Creed song in his car, being the Judgmental Sober Guy at parties, threatening to divorce his wife over alarm clock settings, worrying that he's failing as a parent -- none of these stories are terribly redeeming, except in the bravery required to share them in the first place.

I'm not saying I related to everything. In fact, I want to make a point of saying that I DIDN'T RELATE TO EVERYTHING! But it was still equal parts heart-wrenching and hilarious.

And the last four pages and the appendix are pure genius.

Loved it.

* stalk

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

READING: Free-Range Chickens

This week's read:

Two questions: Why have I never heard of Simon Rich before, and how fast can I read everything else he's written?

I bought this book on a bargain rack for 50 cents and read it this morning, cover to cover, in an hour -- because it was awesome, and also because it was short. It's all McSweeneys-style conceptual humor (lists, imagined dialogue, and one fantastic Choose Your Own Adventure story) so it's easy to breeze through while, say, your toddlers are watching Doc McStuffins

Rich mines a lot of material from his awkward childhood and an obsession with bad TV shows, and consequently, I related to waaaaay too many stories. I think I dog-eared every other page. My personal favorite was "Worst Nightmare," in which he falsely confesses to a murder rather than admitting that he spent his workday watching back-to-back Nanny 911 marathons. (Oh, freelancing. I love you.)

"My top secret seventh grade diary" was quite possibly taken word for word from my own diary. "The only emails I could receive that would justify the frequency with which I check my email" was painfully true. And as someone who's paranoid about almost everything, I loved "A conversation between the people who hid in my closet every night when I was seven" (still true for me today) and "What I want on my tombstone when I die of encephalitis next week" (posthumous passive-aggressiveness for friends who underestimated his mosquito bite).

Is it weird if I list every story? I won't, but I liked them all. 

And now I'm only five weeks behind, and for that, I want to hug him.

RECIPE: Mexican Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker

I think it's pretty well-documented that I'm addicted to pulled pork. So, without further ado, here's another way to make pulled pork! This time it's Mexican -- just in time for Cinco de Mayo if, like me, you're probably going to spend Cinco de Mayo eating nachos on the couch while watching Tosh reruns.

By the way, this recipe was a uniting force after this weekend's sweet potato war. Hubby and I both agreed that this recipe was a winner: "One of your best of all time," he declared.

You'll need:

  • 1 lb. boneless pork loin
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Goya Salsita (or any green chile sauce)
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash's fiesta lime seasoning*
  • 1 tsp Papa Joe's salt
  • 1 tsp ground cilantro
  • 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes

Throw it all in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Shred it up and enjoy! I served it with a mix of corn, black beans, and fresh avocado with a few shakes of chili powder and Papa Joe's mixed in. Feliz Cinco! :)

* SUBSTITUTE: a few heavy shakes each of chili pepper, paprika, cumin and cayenne
** SUBSTITUTE: a few heavy shakes each of sea salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder