Goliath Review

Goliath, Amazon Series:  5 out of 5 stars

Goliath stars Billy Bob Thornton as a gifted attorney who is divorced, living in a motel, and drinking his life away.  Of course, there is a teenager who is down on dad but loves him too.  (The actress is obviously too old for the part, but let that go; she’s just filler and fades.)  As the name implies, Billy Bob (Billy McBride) takes on the evil giant and wins.  It’s okay to know how it will end because the ride is so thrilling, Billy Bob is so entertaining and the surprises just keep on coming:  lesbian love gone wrong, FBI friend and foe, mental megalomaniacs strife with weaknesses, good people crushed and crushing, small people improving, powerful people crashing, a hooker with a heart of gold-but-really-tin (poor thing), a wonderful brassy broad, odd ocean-death tempting and a lovely stray dog.  The only thing I hold against this show is that the dog is not given more food.  What a great package of eclectic bits.  I binged it over a few days.

The first episode is a little slow, but don’t let that concern you.  This episode sets the stage, like a diver fidgeting on the diving board before the plunge.  The diving board time is critical, but not the main event.

The series is eight 1-hour episodes long and free with Amazon Prime.  It might be worth paying for Amazon Prime just to watch this series.

Billy Bob is Back!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

I give Rogue One 3.5 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed the feel of this movie.  It was very much like the first the Star Wars movies made.  The scenery, music, aliens, clothing, etc. were all flawless in this regard.  The story line fits seamlessly with Star Wars:  Episode IV A New Hope.  The CGI, voice mimicry, and actor choices used to make this so were outstanding.  The new droid was intelligent and witty — perhaps the very best droid to date!

As I watched this movie, I found myself well satisfied with all of these things.

But when it was over, as I  was walking out of the theater, I felt empty.  No one I watched the movie with said anything.  Not how great it was, or how bad.  I finally said, “Really liked that new droid,” to which everyone agreed.  Then we started talking about the superhero movie trailers with great animation.  (I intend to watch them all.)

What was wrong?

There was only humor with the droid, and my biggest emotional attachment at the end was with this droid.  Think about the amount of humor in the first three Star Wars movies made.  Think about them stripped of that humor.  This is what happened here.  Also, there were no good times.  There were numerous little scenes in the first three of people being people — yes, they were more interesting than most people, but they had heart and soul.  Rogue One is unremittingly grim.  Guardians of the Galaxy was a hit because of humor.  Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man is a hit in any movie because of humor.  The only thing good about the last Star Trek movie was its humor and everyone loved it.

The first three Star Wars movies made became legend because of humor.  Yes, these first movies had other great features, but without some good times and humor, they would have been like a meal made by a master chef with no salt and no beverage.  There would have been no prequels or sequels; we would have forgotten them long ago.

They need to get Josh Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Avengers) involved with these Star Wars movies, and fast.

Apple Jack Success!

Apple jack is traditionally freeze distilled apple wine or hard cider.  I had some home-made apple wine made from concentrated apple juice that wasn’t very good, it was already in a plastic Southern Comfort bottle, and last night it was 10 degrees F outside.  As shown on this website, that means that any liquid at 10 F should be about 25% alcohol.  How cold it is directly impacts (and limits) the percentage of alcohol in the final product.  So, I drank a bit out of the bottle to allow for expansion, and set it outside.  Aging had, if anything, made the apple wine taste worse.  Just horrible.  Before bed, after three hours or so,  I was pretty disappointed as I saw no ice forming; however, looking at this picture more closely I think I do see some very small ice crystals throughout the wine.

Come morning it looked like solid slush in the bottle.  I smashed it up a bit with an iced tea spoon, and poured it onto a fine mesh cloth in a strainer over a bowl.  Then, like Julia Roberts taught me how to squeeze water out of spinach, I squeezed out the liquid.  Since the ice crystals aren’t squishy like spinach pulp, it was a much faster process, which was good because it was still 10 degrees out and cold on my bare hands!

I started with 7 cups of apple wine and wound up with 3 cups of apple jack.  The ice was very light colored after it was squeezed.



Assuming the 3 cups of apple jack is 25% alcohol, then the starting liquid was about 11%; however, my highly calibrated ethanol meter (my tongue) measured 3-4% alcohol in the watery leavings.  The chickens may have gotten some 4th day of Christmas joy out of it!

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t only the alcohol that was concentrated by the freeze distillation, but also every unpleasant flavor in the stuff — and any residual sweetness was destroyed.  I’m fairly grim when it comes to consuming culinary mistakes.  Me and Ben:  waste not want not.  But this may have been over the line.  I added 3 tablespoons of sugar (one for each cup) and threw in a cinnamon stick.  After just a few hours it was much improved because cinnamon tastes good.  I’ll leave that stick in there at least a few days longer then, with Ben nodding approvingly, do what must be done.

12/18/15 Update:  The sugar and cinnamon stick did the trick.  The doctored apple jack is wonderful stuff!



Update: Extending Fall Harvest with Mini-Greenhouse-Pods

2/20/17 Update:  I didn’t get any greens over the winter, but it looks like I’ll get plenty of spinach and lettuce a head of everyone else, and my rosemary bush survived.  Not bad for the first try.


Update:  This is the garden and pod after 24 hours of 10 – 14 degreed F weather in mid-December 2016.

Surprisingly, the broccoli (and some weeds) survived with no water buffer.  The blue-green plastic I put on the plants are Wall o’ Waters, empty of water.  I figured two layers of heavy plastic couldn’t hurt!


The two pods with Wall o’ Water covering and without are shown below.  The rosemary, choi and spinach did very well.  The lettuce survived, but not very well and I doubt it will turn out to be productive before January kills it.  It looks like the rosemary may survive all winter.



Last Tuesday, 12/6, I harvested the last of the greens from the garden, finding a nice batch of chard, spinach and even a little kale under frost-wilted outer leaves.  But I knew the end was near with several days well below freezing predicted.  Below is a picture of the final harvest before I opened up the garden and let the chickens in.


By yesterday, 12/11, the chickens had stripped out all of the frost wilted greens, the clover cover crop, and even a lone (and thorny) artichoke that decided to finally grow far to late for me to get any benefit of it.  You’ll note the plastic “pods”:  the big ones are about 2′ x2′ x 3′.  The lone blue pod is where I put a dahlia bulb in a deep hole — the highest point of the bulb is about 18″ deep — and then covered it with hay and then the blue half barrel shown.  I hope the bulb will be sound when I dig it up in the spring:  that is the experiment.


The last few nights the temperature had dropped down to the low 20s, so I added buckets of water to fend off freezing temperatures.  Since freezing water is exothermic (gives off heat) the temperature inside the pods should stay at the freezing point (but no lower) until all of the water in the five gallon buckets has frozen — though obviously the plants further from the bucket will be colder.  As you can see below, so far so good.


The plot on the left is:  rosemary, toy choi, spinach and lettuce.  The plot on the right is the same, minus the rosemary, and plus some volunteer garlic.  The difference is, the lettuce on the left was transplanted, and the spinach on the right was transplanted.  (All of the toy choi was transplanted.)  Next year I’ll have to specifically plant little 2′ x 3′ plots with the pods in mind, since transplanting really knocked back the growth.

Thursday night is supposed to drop down to the low teens, and stay there for over 24 hours!  I’d hoped my mini-greenhouse-pods would last at least through December, but the plants may not make it through this atypically cold onslaught.  I plan to add a layer of plastic over them and the buckets — and to gather enough greens for a salad on Wednesday night, just in case.

Below is what’s inside the smallest pod (a cracked storage container that worked as an excellent cold frame this spring):  broccoli.  I don’t see any way this is going to survive the extreme cold on the way.


Very Easy Very Good Vanilla Liqueur

Vanilla Liqueur

Mix 1 cup 75.5% Everclear and 1 cup water.  Scrape out seeds from two vanilla bean pods and add to liquor-water mix.  Let sit several days; invert periodically.  Strain.  Some seeds will get through but as long as you get the clumps out, don’t worry, since the seeds are so tiny.

Add 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar and1/3 cup sugar.  Mix until sugar is dissolved.  Improves with time.