Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sweet Dreams, Kumori and Tanuki


Our cloudy stray baby found under a box of charcoal at Bug's workplace is now comfortably sleeping for eternity. After Tanuki died nearly a month previous, he was never the same.


Our sprite that leaped everywhere, climbed a 6' shelf, broke her leg from sliding down the sofa, and raced across the floor with her cast suffered so much pain in the end.

I'm glad their suffering is over.

- Cassaendra

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye...

Every time I think of the movie, "The Sound of Music," I think of the stage performance by the von Trapp family at the end of the film as they are making their escape.

The EQ guild that I was once an active member, shut its doors on August 19th.

This event has closed the book on my EQ life. I had toyed with the thought of returning, but realistically, I would not. The game just takes too much effort. The *game* is not as real-life friendly as World of Warcraft, where one can log in for a few minutes and complete an objective alone or with the help of one other person. Yes, it's easy to get lost and play for hours, but that is a matter of choice.

People starting MMOs with WoW will probably never know to the same degree what it feels like to have 50+ people move as one, as a successful high-end raiding guild in EQ; especially in a guild where RL came first, so we weren't playing with the same people every encounter. I would imagine someone in the military saying the same thing about gamers! :)

(image from "The Sound of Music" taken from

Some have remained in the guild to carry on the flame that once roared, while some have left for other games together, others have left to move into other raiding guilds in hopes of continuing that excitement or to returned to their old haunts.

I mentioned to someone earlier today, I doubt Verant had any idea the degree that a game they created would change the lives of so many people, where lasting relationships formed beyond the pixels.

- Cassaendra

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Run for the Border

Bug used to make enchiladas the traditional way, by dipping a tortilla in scalding enchilada sauce, followed by rolling meat, refried beans, and cheese into a cylinder, like sushi (ha!), and then placing them one-by-one in a rectangular casserole dish to be baked.

One day, he made the enchiladas like lasagne, in horizontal layers. It was four times faster and he didn't have burnt fingers from the heat and spices. The difference in flavor was negligible and was, in fact, easier for me to eat.

We're on a tight budget these days, and this goes a long way. We looked in our cupboards and fridge to see what ingredients we already had. We had all but a few ingredients. Yay! This is also a great exercise in teamwork and leave-alone while gaming dish. :)

Without further ado, our dinner this evening - Enchilada Casserole à la SicklyBug

Preparation: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 1 hour

3 lb ground beef
2 packets taco seasoning
32 oz refried beans
1/2 cup salsa
12 oz enchilada sauce
10 large flour tortillas (~9" diameter)
12 oz cheese, finely shredded monterey jack, cheddar, asadero, queso blanco mix

Makes 10-12 servings

1. Cook the ground beef in a large pot. No oil is used to cook the meat.

2. Once the ground beef is thoroughly cooked, drain grease for a few minutes in a colander, and then return beef to the pot and add taco seasoning.

3. Add the refried beans and salsa to the beef. Cook until well incorporated.

4. Set oven to 200F.

5. Coat 13" x 9" casserole dish with oil.

6. Coat two whole tortillas with enchilada sauce on both sides and place in casserole dish so the tortillas reaches the left and right edge of the dish lengthwise. The tortilla diameter should suffice to cover the dish width.

7. Tear one tortilla into quarters to form a wedge, then coat the tortilla wedges on both sides with enchilada sauce. Place each sharp edge in each corner of the casserole dish. There should be a contingous tortilla layer.

8. Evenly spread a half-inch layer of the meat-bean mixture.

9. Sprinkle a thin coating of cheese.

10. Repeat steps 7-9. There should be just enough meat-bean filling.

11. Repeat step 7. Tear one tortilla in half. Coat the tortillas on both sides with the enchilada sauce. Slide the straight edge of each half into the two lengthwise edges of the casserole dish so the straight edges are wedged into the sides as far down as possible.

12. Add enough enchilada sauce to evenly distribute a light coat over the top layer of tortillas. Cover with foil and poke holes in the foil, then place dish in oven.

13. After 45 minutes, take the casserole out of the oven and cover evenly with cheese. Place the dish back in the oven, foil off, for 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

3 lb ground chuck -- $2.12/lb = $6.36
2 packets taco seasoning -- $1.00/packet = $2.00
32 oz refried beans -- in cupboard ($0.49 x 2 cans = $0.98)
1/2 cup salsa, hot -- in fridge ($1.99)
12 oz enchilada sauce -- in cupboard (anywhere between $0.79 for a regular can - ~$3.00 for Trader Joe's bottle)
10 large flour tortillas -- $1.50
12 oz cheese, finely shredded -- in fridge ($1.99/8 oz = $3.98)
oil -- in cupboard ($2.00)

Total cost was $10.00, which will be good for 5-6 meals. If all ingredients had to be purchased, this dish would have cost $20-22.

Bug is a mega carnivore, so he was happy with the dish as is. I needed something cool and crisp to accompany this dish with it being so dense and warm. I added one shredded leaf of head lettuce and 2 grape tomatoes. No dressing was needed. To further spike the enchilada, as well as give it a tang, I added a teaspoon of Cholula hot sauce.

As I am writing this, I'm enjoying a bowl of cool almond agar for dessert. A refreshing cap to this meal.

- Cassaendra

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Say "Kim Cheez!"

Our adventure began one afternoon when Bug suddenly proposed that we venture to a nearby post to retrieve some provisions for his next experiment: kim chee. Walking out of our camp, we immediately encountered the oppressive blockade of heat and humidity. Gazing into the sky, I was distracted by the dark clouds quickly gathering above us, until a broad white flash and boom jolted me into the present.

Partway through our trek in torrential rain, we had to backtrack since one of the roads had transformed into Lake Erie. Backing up, we passed others who were merrily traveling along at a quick pace unaware of the danger ahead.

By the time I passed through the front door at Good Harvest, past the altar with its soft scent of burning incense, I had forgotten why we were there so I meandered through the aisles, shaking bottles with contents that were unidentifiable from the descriptions on the label, poked at the fresh fish and shellfish, and eventually found myself at the altar of all that is right with the universe - the noodle aisle.

Myojo Chukazanmai - Peking style

Myojo Chukazanmai shoyu, miso, hiyashi, oriental, and rayu are staples in our household because it is by far the best instant ramen available in the US, so we greedily picked up 3-4 of each flavor. We poked around at other ramen packets from Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and of course Japan, picking up some to experiment -- hot and sour beef, roast beef, spicy garlic, Tokyo shoyu ramen, mi goreng, sukiyaki flavor (ponder), and Nissin tonkotsu ramen (glamorously packaged like Myojo's Chukazanmai line), as well as some old favorites like Sapporo Ichiban yaki soba and Mama tom yum mi tom.

With a jab to the ribs, Bug reminded me of the purpose of our mission. I scurried back to get some bok choy, grabbed some sea salt, and scoured the long aisle of powdered mixes. To my left, 4-5 shelves along the length of the aisle of powdered mixes from all parts of Asia and Hawaii neatly laid out flat, not vertically. There were packets of Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese fried rice mixes, Hawaiian and Chinese packets from Noh, Filipino adobo and kari-kari, miso soup, and other batches of granules. On the other side, a variety of mixes from pouches of powdered mixes, packets of condensed seasoning in oil, to ready-made bags of meat and mushroom soup hanging on hooks from the ground to 6' high.

Is this cheating?

The trip home was uneventful, as if the storm was just an adventurous figment of a blogger's imagination. The sun was shining through the breaks in the wispy white clouds. The only remnants of the rain was the soaked roadway and an occasional branch in the road.

Bug washed, cut, and salted the bok choy in our stew pot. With the pot filled with water, he left a plate on top so the cabbage remained submerged. At around midnight, he washed and drained the cabbage, then added the mix with water, and placed the concoction into an old jar of pickles to sit on our counter for over a day.

We had mushrooms, bean sprouts, green onions, and zucchini so he decided to kim chee them all. Of course, Bug fermented them in my two favorite Tupperware containers.

I was shocked to see how little 5 lbs of cabbage net. It gave us only 1/2 a jar of kim chee. Because it wasn't as spicy as he had hoped, Bug added about a teaspoon of our extra-spicy variety of sriracha to the kim chee, which gave it a wonderful flare...flair.

The mushrooms turned out squishy, as did the bean sprouts. The zucchini was excellent and I hope that we make it again, maybe as white kim chee. I don't eat raw onions, so I have no idea how the green onions turned out but it has since been tossed out along with the mushrooms and bean sprout soup. I should have thrown the Tupperware out as well, because the smell has bonded with the container molecules now. Pew.

- Cassaendra

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Trailer to Dororo, 2006

Dororo is a movie, game, and anime based on the manga by Tezuka Osamu. The movie is entertaining, with humor, action, and drama woven together fairly well. Two-thirds through the movie, the pace slows down a little, but picks up 3/4 through. The pay-off is worthwhile, and marches us toward Dororo 2.

The movie begins with a warlord, Kagemitsu Daigo, who appears to be on the verge of defeat in a campaign during the Sengoku period and runs into a temple for cover. Against the monk's advice that he not enter one of the buildings, the warlord enters and shuts himself in.

Kagemitsu mutters his frustration in his attempts to quickly conquer the country and asks for help. One of the 48 demon statues in the room speaks of being able to assist him gain power. In exchange, he must give the demons his unborn son. Kagemitsu quickly agrees.

Opening cinematic for Dororo on PS2, 2004
Also known as Blood Will Tell in the US and Europe

Shortly thereafter, the warlord's baby is born; a husk...a piece of flesh with no face, limbs, heart,...48 parts of his body missing. The father tries to slay the infant, but the mother cannot bear to see the infant slain. She finally agrees to let go of the child by setting it afloat down a river in a basket.

A physician, Jukai, sees the abomination and brings it back to his home. As this is a time of war, the physician has been treating many of the wounded, making prosthetics for some. We find that he also practices necromancy. With the bodies of dead children from the war, Jukai forms the missing parts for the infant that he names Hyakkimaru.

Trailer for Dororo on PS2

A bard appears one day, and the physician and bard exchange stories. The bard leaves a blade of vengeance with Jukai for the boy.

We see the infant as a child, still physically without sight, hearing, or speech, but able to function "normally." Jukai teaches him how to appear normal and to fight. Each limb has a hidden weapon of some kind.

Segment from Dororo the anime, 1969

Hyakkimaru is now a young man. Wars are still ongoing. Jukai relays his wish before his last breath, to have their home and his work destroyed, as he is afraid his discoveries of immortality falling into the wrong hands.

A young boy is running away, trying to elude someone he pickpocketed, when he runs into a tavern where Hyakkimaru is in the midst of slaying one of the demons. He is stunned having witnessed Hyakkimaru slay a demon with a blade imbedded in his left arm, and then writhe on the floor as one of his molded body parts disintegrates and a new fleshy real body part is regenerated.

Credits for Dororo the anime

The thief sees the bard and Hyakkimaru talking. When Hyakkimaru leaves, the thief asks the bard what had transpired. Intrigued by the story and his burning desire to kill Kagemitsu, the warlord who killed his parents, he wishes to obtain the imbedded blade, and sets out to journey with Hyakkimaru, who later names her Dororo.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, August 4, 2007

What's for Dinner?

I'm thinking Arby's.

Bug and I were driving around this afternoon, when we noticed several signs planted into the grass wavering in the breeze along the sidewalk advertising 99 cent roast beef sandwiches at Arby's. We followed the signs like Hänsel and Gretel, and found ourselves at the doorstep of an Arby's half a mile away.

We uhh confirmed that their regular roast beef sandwiches were indeed 99 cents (normally $2.69 each) and their large curly fries were $1.99. No gingerbread or candy, but lots of apple and cherry turnovers!


- Cassaendra

Friday, August 3, 2007

Land of the Almost Dead

The 12th Annual Taste of Cleveland will be taking place between August 31st - September 3rd.

Musicians playing:
Friday, August 31 - INXS with opener Will Hoge
Saturday, September 1 - Michael Stanley and The Resonators
Sunday, September 2 - Donny Osmond
Monday, September 3 - Macy Gray / Brand New Heavies


Guess I'll be going during the day so I won't be interrupted by loud crappy music. It's amazing how they always seem to get bands who are "well known." Yeah, well known 10+ years ago. It's almost like admitting your career is over...or what Bug likes to classify under actors who begin to star in kids movies.

Well, I shouldn't say that about Michael Stanley, I don't know the guy. As for the others, I could do without the aggravation of talking over their music. I loved Shabooh Shoobah when I was in high school, but I'm not digging it without Michael Hutchence. We refused to see David Bowie because Macy Gray was the opening act.

I wish I could review the list of restaurant participating. If it's not going to be any place new to us, it's a waste of time and money to pay to get in ($7) to pay double for half-servings.

- Cassaendra

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