Thursday, December 17 2020

movies, fixation, and my supreme pizza experiment

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday, and welcome to morning journaling time. I hope you're feeling awake and ready to face the work day. I don't know about you, but I think I have at least one Thursday left in me before Christmas break, so let's get it on.

I got a good night's sleep last night. In our ongoing film study, Marissa and I have been watching Captain Phillips this week, and I think all the unresolved tension was giving me some stress dreams. When my brain should have been shut off, I was instead fighting off Somalian pirates. But now that we've finished the movie, it's like my inner psyche can finally stop thinking about the movie.

Captain Phillips exceeded my expectations (the movie, not the actual captain). To me, the emergency protocols were the star of the movie. Everything the crew had to do leading up to and during the attack was fascinating. Also, the magic touch of Tom Hanks helped. Going to try to steer clear of spoilers here, but at the end of the movie when they're finally pulling Captain Phillips to safety, the camera follows him getting helped onto a boat, taken inside, and examined by doctors. Tom Hanks is in shock, and what he's able to do just with his face, body language, and stuttering is so emotionally moving, it's impossible to look away from the screen - even though there was pretty much nothing left to resolve in the plot.

The movie faded to black. The credits rolled. "Top that one," taunted Marissa, flipping me the TV remote. I wasn't even going to try to top it. After a movie like that, it's best to just watch something terrible to cleanse the pallet. And so that's the story of how I selected Tim Burton's Batman Forever as our next pick. Even in the mere twenty minutes we had before our bedtime to get started, the film reached levels of ridiculousness that I had blotted out from my memory.

"I used to think this was the coolest movie in the world," I laughed. "Val Kilmer just looks like he's trick or treating or something. They don't even attempt to hide that he can't move his neck in that thing at all."

Tommy Lee Jones plays Two Face as if he actually wanted to play the joker. Nicole Kidman plays the bawdy damsel only appears on screen to sexually harass Val Kilmer. And the guy who they found to play Alfred truly looks like they just pulled a random old guy off the street. Maybe that's unfair - we've all probably been spoiled by Michael Caine's kind eyes and velvety voice.

Gotta give it up to Jim Carrey, though. That guy plays a good villain, and I'm wondering when he's going to get snatched up by the ever expanding Marvel movie universe. He's fantastic as the riddler, which reminded Marissa and I that he was also fantastic as Dr. Robotnik in the new sonic movie.

Sip. What movies have been getting your through these tired winter days leading up to Christmas? And how was your Thursday?

I had some good focus time yesterday, but it's too bad that I spent most of it just chasing down a single elusive bug. Most of my time was spent creating test github repos and trying to explain some unexpected behavior in the way our github actions were running. Staying on the bug all day, I guess it put me in kind of a fixating mood. After work, Marissa brought her phone to me, telling me she had a problem getting new music onto her player. Standing beside my desk waiting to leave on her run, she silently watched me mutter and stab around her phone, trying to find the issue.

"OK, this is not happening," I snipped, handing her phone back. "I'll have to try when you get back."

Letting out a deep sigh, I finally rose from my chair and trotted downstairs to get started on dinner. The flustering continued.

"Hey do you remember if we got whole chicken in our last order?" I asked Marissa while she was tying on her running shoes.

"Did you check the freezer?" she asked.

"Yeah," I sighed. "Hold on let me check if I actually ordered it."

Minutes later, I confirmed that I had forgotten to actually add the chicken to our order. Sometimes on Hy-Vee's site I'll search for something only to forget to add it to the cart. The missing chicken threw a really big monkey wrench into meal planning - not only was I planning on making chicken breasts yesterday, but I was also going to carve up the rest for chicken gumbo the next day.

"Can I make pizza tonight?" I asked. Marissa gave a surprised smile.

"Yeah, I think I feel like pizza," she replied.

Little did she know I had a special pizza planned. Wanting to test out some theories I had, I set out to make my own version of a supreme pizza: mushrooms, bell peppers, and red onion.

The first problem I attacked was the bell peppers. They're always just a little too cold and crunchy. So to remedy that, I peeled the skin off the bell pepper and diced it up very small - easy enough.

Second problem was the mushrooms. To me, this is the biggest problem of the supreme pizza. Most implementations I've tried just slice up the mushrooms and throw them on top, trusting they'll cook through with the pizza. This is almost never the case. There's just too much water in mushrooms to get cooked out in the brief time the pizza is on the pizza stone, even at pizza cooking temperature, so the mushrooms will remain raw and filled with tepid water. The other issue with the raw mushroom approach is that the mushrooms don't get enough salt.

So to address this, I pan friend the mushrooms ahead of time. I quartered them up and threw them in a non stick pan with ripping hot olive oil, generously seasoning with salt and pepper. This gave the mushrooms a chance to dry out, concentrate their flavor, and pick up some good seasoning along the way. I've also noticed that mushrooms tend to give up more water as they cool down, so before adding them to the pizza I left them in a strainer over a bowl to catch the extra moisture.

Both approaches worked. The pre-cooked mushrooms dried out nicely and even roasted over in the oven. The tiny pieces of peeled bell pepper softened and carmelized. I rode a nice wave of pizza smugness for the rest of the night.

Rodney and Marissa took to the kitchen to bake cookies for the rest of the night. Rodney and I shared some eggnog before we sent him off to bed. Marissa acted like a grumpy waitress at a late night diner while brining us our bedtime snack.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a wonderful day.