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The Gift of an Unfettered Mind

March 31, 2011

There are plenty of blogs ‘n sites about The Worst Boss/Place/Job Ever and nowhere near enough about the upside of working in the game industry (or anywhere else, for that matter), or about some of the incredibly wonderful and talented people we meet along the way. I figured that maybe a little positive energy in that direction would not be amiss…

“Our Different Minds our a Great Gift, pay the price and get the gift” – Mark Aro

When I worked at Vivendi on the Lord of the Rings license, I met some of the aforementioned amazing people, one of whom is Mark Aro. Mark is definitely a wild ‘n crazy guy in all the best ways, and he is phenomenally talented. (Oh, check out the trailer for “Finding Hope Now“)

Mark and his family–especially his wife Lisa–know what it’s like to deal with challenges. I encourage you to read Lisa’s blog, “Queen of the Distracted.” It’s funny, poignant, and direct. If you’re dealing with ADD/ADHD issues in your own family, or you know someone who is, I think you will find it encouraging; if you’re not, it will hopefully give you some insight into how people deal with brilliance on a daily basis.

While I’m on the subject of families dealing with ADD/ADHD, I’d also like to refer you to Shonda Shilling and her book “The Best Kind of Different.” I had the privilege of getting to know this amazing family when I worked at 38 Studios.

Sure, I can write reams of virtual paper about the negative side of my several-many years in this business, but I’d rather share some nice stuff. How people like Shonda and Lisa deal with this challenge is truly a source of inspiration!

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Poutine

March 23, 2011

DISCLAIMER: Apologies to the Quebecquois among you.

My husband is of French-Canadian descent with a number of famous relatives like Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne and Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville (the family records say that his DOB is actually July 20, not July 16, by the way).  Among other things, these brothers are credited with bringing the tradition of Mardi Gras to America along with some very delicious food.

In addition to that, he grew up in New England where they have regional food favorites like the lobstah roll (which HAS to be in a split frankfurter roll) and of course New England Boiled Dinner and Clam Chowdah (the white kind, not the red kind – that’s Manhattan Chowder which is an entirely other animal except for the clams.) There’s American Chop Suey (which is actually very good IMO – basically it’s ground meat, elbow macaroni, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire and of course topped with the ubiquitous condiment ketchup.)

Now, when you combine Northern New England (not much south of Burlington, VT – unless you are in a French-Canadian area like the west side of Manchester, NH) and French-Canadian, you get Something Else Entirely. Yes, you get tourtiere (which I’ll save for a different post.) It’s not bad as long as you have a hacksaw to cut into it.

And you get This Other Thing…Something awful and dreadful and disgusting. Something that people from that part of the country absolutely adore. Something whose individual ingredients are delicious but when they are combined become … POUTINE!  WARNING: If pictures of food glop make you queasy do NOT click on any of the poutine-related links!!! I firmly believe this dish defies even the most skilled food stylists. (If there is something even worse than homemade poutine, imagine mass-produced poutine which is apparently sold by McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King in Canada. Eeeeeuwwwww.)

What is poutine? (yes, it is pronounced POOOO-teeen). It’s French fries, cheese curds (think cottage cheese or farmer cheese, drained, in largish chunks), and either brown gravy (just typing that makes me ill) or cheese sauce. All glopped together. BLECH. I have been assured by those who love it (my husband included) that it’s delicious. I couldn’t get a forkful of it in my mouth, even with my eyes shut. Just the THOUGHT of it makes me ill.

Poutine Chronicles will lead you to even more blogs about this dish…

However… if you live in L.A. and are feeling brave or curious or homesick…

Soleil in Westwood (that’s west Los Angeles, down the street from UCLA) apparently has great poutine. No, I don’t know first-hand but it comes highly recommended. If you can stand large photos of glop, click on the “Poutine by Soleil” to view the info (in a .pdf) about this dish.

Frankly, American Chop Suey looks a whole lot better to me!! (I should add that I love putting cottage cheese in a baked potato but then I add chili sauce rather than cheese sauce or the dreaded brown gravy…)

Working in the Video Game Industry

March 17, 2011

I could write a long, hopefully witty and sometimes sad post or I could just post this:

YouTube Video

St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

March 17, 2011

Cupcakes sent to work with John, as promised: Triple Chocolate Cappuccino with Irish Cream Frosting

1 pkg Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix
Appx 2 tbsp Folger’s Instant Coffee Classic Roast
Appx 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Albertsons Cream Cheese Frosting
Carolans Irish Cream

The measurements on the instant coffee and cinnamon aren’t exact. I was going for a certain taste so I added it as I went. Instead of the dainty “normal” sized cupcakes, these are jumbo (which is actually the intermediate size – the ginormous ones were HUGE!) and served in white baking cups (although gold would have been fun…)

The Carolans was added to the pre-made frosting and beat by hand until the consistency was right (and the taste, of course). No green sparkles because at the last minute I was afraid that the color would run into the creamy white frosting.

No pictures today – they were pretty standard looking. Nice dark chocolate cupcake with lots of frosting. Now I await the verdict …

P.S. Yes, I could have bought Baileys but I knew I wouldn’t be using enough to make a significant difference, the Carolans is good (and less expensive), and I have a soft spot in my heart for Turlough O’Carolan.

The Dark Side of Blogging

March 13, 2011

Last night I discovered yet another pitfall of blogging…

It unleashes a demonic inner child who is desperate for attention.

“Why aren’t you reading my blog?”

“Look at my blog!”

“Yes, it IS all about meeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Yuck.

On the one hand, blogging is an excellent tool for sharing information and for getting things off your chest (which in and of itself can be fraught with peril, of course.)

On the other hand, it gives form to the neglected child within, the one who doesn’t think people listen, the one who doesn’t get respect in the workplace, the one who feels compelled to tell others what to do. It’s an unhappy child in an adult’s body who thinks that the freedom to say what h/she pleases online also gives permission to pontificate and judge in real-time social situations. After all, who wouldn’t want to hear what we have to say?If we’re THAT smart on our blog, how much smarter are we face-to-face?

Blogging, tweeting, twittering, and otherwise commenting-at-will creates an open flow of communication, which is to say we can write whatever we want whenever we want want. It also removes the filters and rules we’re taught about how to work and play well with others.

It’s a slippery slope from blogging to forcing others to listen to us in real time. Although blogging can  be entertaining, it isn’t a license for anyone’s growth but our own. And having a blog does not an expert make.

Things That Make Me Happy

March 12, 2011

Spring training… and the Red Sox — especially the story about Ryan Westmoreland. Welcome back to Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez! Although it’s only March, Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy are already doing their thing (Remy has started in on Orsillo’s blue shirts… and welcome back to the Remdog, and to Dave Roberts too!) Don’t let Jerry razz you about the glasses, Don – they look great on you!

March Madness (see previous post about Bracketology or go to Mark’s Madness Seattle). (Things that made me sad: USC’s Coach O’Neill – c’mon, man!)

Having incredibly wonderful and talented people in my life. It may sound a little ingenuous but I truly am blessed to have friends from coast to coast who not only have amazing abilities but also are nice, honest people. Definitely a source of joy in a troublesome world.

Funny side note:

Me (in a whiny voice): You don’t read my blog.
John (in a stoic voice): I live your blog.
Me (in a much quieter voice): Oh. Right.

**This morning I decided to change my home page, at least for a while. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s going on out there but I need a break from the voracious blood-hungry wolf pack of journalists who think that the misbehavior of celebrities makes good news. For now, Food Network is my homepage of choice. (And yes, I’m thinking all things positive for the victims of the earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunamis.)**

Huevos Rancheros FTW

March 10, 2011
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It was Ash Wednesday which meant a light dinner (it was a “fast” day which, as I understand it, means “don’t eat a boatload o’ food” day) and it was also a meatless day. And it was very warm outside (Note: According to my dear friend Marlene, we have two kinds of weather here–Beautiful and Strange. Yesterday was a bit of both, gorgeous warm day in March, while much of the country is swimming in flood water or still digging out from under the snow.)

So, what to fix for dinner? I’m guessing that among the items in the pantry of many Southern Californians, there is at least one can of beans of some kind, as well as some cheese, eggs, tortillas, and salsa in the fridge. Which means… huevos rancheros!

For those who have never experienced this amazingly satisfying dish it’s very simple: corn tortilla, beans, at least one gorgeous fried or sunny-side-up egg, and salsa (either store-bought or homemade); cheese optional. John is not a major salsa fan (see, he’s from the Other Side of the Country so he’s into ketchup). However, when it comes to cooking The Perfect Sunny-Side-Up egg, he is THE master chef. And happily I had all the ingredients available for the meal.

I used Rosarita Vegetarian Beans – just dump them into a pot and stir and they get all nice and yummy. No need to add salt or pepper (really! Even I do not add pepper and I put pepper on darn near EVERYTHING)

John dressed the eggs with a tiny bit of a new Kraft product:

This is very nice and melts quickly. I added some Pace Picante Sauce to mine and we had dinner. Quick, easy, and oh so good. And no meat (ok unless you count the sunny-side-up proto-chickens).

P.S. If you want a fancier recipe for Huevos Rancheros, you can search the web including Food Network, or you can check a cookbook (like Rick Bayless – yummm) or find his Mexico One Plate at a Time/Season 2/Open All Night episode for the recipe.