• Rednecks from way back

    Civil War on the Border is coming to Olathe this weekend. Since I literally live across the street from the “battlefield” we try to go every year. Besides interesting historical demonstrations and historically accurate outfits, two things always amaze me during this event. One, is how geeky and ridiculous these people look trying to stay in character all weekend, riding their horses to the convenience store, and speaking with imaginary “old-timey” accents. The other thing is that there is no good-looking people there. With my own looks, my standards are low. This place makes me look like Brad Pitt.
    It’s fun and it’s free, so check it out for yourself. I suggest timing your visit to see the battle at the conclusion of both days. Somehow, fat guys always die first since they can’t run too far. There will be gun and cannon fire, smoke, horses, food and crafts. And most of all, a reminder that war sucked then and still sucks now.
    Here are some of my pictures from previous year:

    Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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  • So Easy A Blogger Could Do It

    So you come home with 20 pounds of apples in a bag. No need to panic, I am here to tell you what to do. In about an hour or two you could be eating the best apple cake you have ever tried in your life. In fact, it so good that you will try to eat it all while declining tempting offers to exchange some of the cake for money and/or sexual favors. The cake is called “Sharlotka” and yes, there will be people who will tell you that this is not the right way to make it. Tell them to go f make their own Sharlotka, because this is the one and only way to make it and they don’t know what they are talking about. I would also like to warn “the creative types” not to post here with comments like “I added a pinch of salt to the recipe, some chicken, vegetables and a pie crust and now it’s a chicken pot pie”. I will ban you from this blog without regret.

    For this recipe you will need a baking dish with flat bottom, some apples, 6 eggs, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of flour. That’s it.

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    Peel, core and slice the apples. If you are a lady, cut the apples into uniform cubes of about 1/4 inches. If you are a gentleman, reach for your favorite (apple-peeling) tool-device.

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    This machine cores, peels and slices the apples in one smooth motion. There is no excuse for not having it. Women and small children love it. Hack processed apples into smaller pieces. Peeled apples may brown after sitting on the counter. If you care, you can sprinkle them with lemon juice; I personally don’t care – it’s a cake,not a painting.

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    Place the apples into your baking dish. Here I clearly went overboard, peeling them was so much fun (unless you are a lady) that I went through a few too many. Don’t worry, you can never over-apple the apple cake.

    Now proceed to separate the yolks from the whites. Whipping egg whites is easier if they are cold and no particles of yolks were accidentally mixed in. However, I did just that (not on purpose) and everything turned out OK. If you are an older person like me you would remember that back in the day we whipped egg whites with a whisk.  It was tedious, boring and exhausting process. Fancy households had mechanical egg beaters, still a hassle and lots of cranking. Then came electric mixers and only here my dream to own a stand mixer finally came true. If you have one, place egg whites in the bowl and slowly raise the speed to “high”. If you don’t have the right equipment you can use any of the lesser tools.

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    You will need to attain stiff peaks (not my stripper name) but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Slowly add sugar and continue whipping. The foam will become shiny and you will not be able to feel sugar crunch on your teeth. This may take 5 minutes or so. P1020193

    Add egg yolks and whip some more.

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    Add flour and get it to blend in, no one likes unbaked chunks of flour in the cake, you won’t get any points for a crappy product. Pour the mixture on top of the apples and spread it evenly.

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    In a 350F preheated oven it goes for an hour. Leave it alone.

    In the meantime you still have your apple peeler out and plenty more apples to use. Add a small amount of apple juice, Sprite, water of other tasty liquid to a sauce pan and place it on the medium-low heat. Peel and slice as many apples as will fit.

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    Pour some honey on top. Do not go crazy with it unless you like it too sweet.

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    Cover and cook on medium low until apples look and feel soft.

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    Use potato masher to make some apple sauce of the desired consistency.

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    Let it cool, it really burns when hot.
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    Now get the cake out of the oven. Test it by sticking a toothpick in the middle, if it comes out clean, you are done.

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    After the cake cools, get your favorite bottle of Homewood Hooch from the fridge and enjoy the cake.

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    And this (to quote John McCain), “my friends”, is how you bake “Sharlotka”.

    Update: My blogger friend Johnna made her own gluten-free version.

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  • Soviet Newspaper On Goldwater and The Beatles

    Soviet Newspaper Clip about The Beatles

    Soviet Newspaper Clip about The Beatles

    Beetles-drummers and Beetle the Candidate.

    British quartet The Beatles which can be approximately translated as the beetles-drummers, was returning to New York from a tour in Washington. A Pullman car carrying the artists was also filled with music critics, photographers and TV correspondents. During the train trip the artists were expected to discuss their views on music, culture and the meaning of life in general.

    The train started moving and the journalists got their notepads ready. Suddenly one of the artists, Ringo Starr yelled like a Tarzan and started jumping on the couches like an ape. John Lennon and George Harrison traded pants in public, the ones they were wearing at the time. Then Ringo made the buzzing noises sounding like a film camera, and George climbed on the luggage rack.

    But those present in the car weren’t amused for long. The thing is that the “beetles” behave on the stage just like they were acting on the train. “We are worthless musicians” admits George Harrison, the one lying in the luggage rack, “we can’t sing or do anything else with any skill.”

    Nevertheless, in only four weeks two and a half million records by the “beetles” were sold in the USA. In Glasgow, England the performance by the quartet was banned after three and a half thousand crazed youths started crashing chairs and walls following the example of the artists. The noise during the concerts is so loud that the artists can’t hear their own singing. This actually makes them happy. Just the opposite, when they can hear each other’s screams they feel that the concert was a failure.

    How can one explain the popularity of the quartet “The Beatles”? Even the magazine Newsweek mentions the ad campaign preceding their visit to the US: five million banners with the words “The Beatles are coming” were hanged on the telephone poles; the same number of posters was decorating public restrooms. Their screams named “I want hold your hand” and “Love me do” were played on the radio day and night.

    There is no doubt that if Christ himself visited the United States, he wouldn’t get even a tenth of the advertisement.

    Most importantly, “beetles” are masters at stirring up the darkest and the most primitive emotions in their audiences. And since most of their fans are between 12 and 16 years old, it’s easy to imagine the “educational” influences of the “beetles”. It only makes sense that fights and fainting are just as an inseparable part of the quartet’s concerts as the reinforced police presence.

    Scandalous fame of the hairy “beetles” gave an idea to an American cartoonist Herblock. Since the popularity of one of the leading candidates for the President of the USA from the Republican Party Barry Goldwater is steadily declining, the artist suggested he should a get a “beetle”-like haircut and pick up a guitar.

    Although this idea is not that outrageous; beetles – musicians and beetle-candidate have a lot in common. They both appeal to the lowest in human nature, they only know how to scream and mainly rely on the advertisement.

    Specialists predict that “beetles” won’t be able to hold on to their success, they are just not in the league. And the same can be said about the senator from Arizona: his speeches are too delusional even for the right-wing of the American “crazies”…
    *translated by me
    **the article uses the wordplay Beatles-beetles mostly referring to The Beatles pejoratively as bugs.

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  • Checked Off My Bucket List: Buenos Aires

    Continued…

    I’d like to start this part by busting the first and the most in need to be debunked myth about Argentina – the myth that states that people there speak English. In fact, hardly anyone or almost no one (whichever you prefer) in Argentina speaks English. I am sure that  plenty of fine polyglots are roaming the streets of Buenos Aires, eager to strike a conversation with you in your favorite language, but for some reason they don’t make themselves obvious. Barring an accidental run-in with one of the elusive English speakers, you’ll need to learn Spanish or spend your vacation as a deaf-mute, using an elaborate sign language you just invented and a series of grunts and noises to explain what you want ( I went as far as handing a pen and a piece of paper to an orange juice vendor so he could scribble the price on it). It is also highly unlikely that you will understand anything being said to you. Cab drivers, restaurant employees, shopkeepers, people on the street, criminals – everyone you will need to communicate with – will stare at you trying but unable to understand your words and gestures. Even if you honed your Spanish talking to the janitor at work and ordering your favorite tacos at an authentic Mexican joint, chances are you will have a problem with the version of Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires; it’s a crazy mix of a dialect no longer used in Spain with Italian and every other language willing to contribute. To be fair, hotel employees, travel industry workers and personnel at the tourist-oriented venues will have some degree of English, but outside of these places you are on your own. I highly suggest ignoring what the guide books have to say on the subject and learning at least a bit of Spanish.

    It’s hard to put a finger on what’s so different about Buenos Aires; even after almost two weeks there, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the streets, buildings and everything around me.

    It’s a city with the crazy mix of architecture, where it’s not unusual to see four or five styles of buildings on the same block;

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  • The ETAX Redemption

    Now that the ETAX got extended for at least another 5 years, Kansas City,MO won’t have to scramble to find alternative sources of revenue for some time. While I am clearly not a supporter of the Etax and have outlined my reasoning in multiple posts and comments, I think that the City and its residents should spend the next 5 years making the Etax more palatable to the non-residents (and even themselves) who currently contribute 40% to 50% of it.

    1.Dial down the hate and resentment.

    Whatever you might think of Johnson County (ironically not the only county who contributes the Etax,but the one which gets the most hate), it is the source of a large part of KCMO revenues, both in the form of Etax and various economic and philanthropic activities. Johnson Countians and other non-residents contribute by spending on food and entertainment, patronizing P&L district, Plaza, Sprint Center, other venues that you are so proud of. Additionally, multiple sponsorships and contributions come from the other side of the State Line to support the arts and causes based in Kansas City. Sprint center carries the name (and sponsorship) of an Overland Park,KS company, and the major benefactor and the Chairwoman of the Center for the Performing Arts lives in Mission Hills. There is a significant number of Friends of the Zoo, Nelson-Atkins sponsors, theater supporters who live outside the KCMO. I don’t even have to mention the Chiefs and Royals fans, who pay for the tickets, parking and every logo item they can get their hands on. You don’t have to like us, but you might consider stifling yourselves a little.

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