Archive for February, 2016

Cauliflower Oatmeal

February 25, 2016

We had home-made cauliflower soup the other night. Package of frozen cauliflower flowers, roasted; three cups of beef broth (used up all my broth); onion and garlic to taste. Didn’t add any cream ’cause we were out (we’re always out), but I added some kudzu flour to thicken it, then stir-sticked it to death. Very good. Almost as good as the cauliflower risotto that we made almost exactly one year ago. Cheese helped. There were leftovers.

I was out of broth, so I used some ham-flavored broth paste. I figured that ham and cauliflower would go well together.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of ham broth, two heaping dinner tablespoons of leftover cauliflower soup, call it a quarter cup; two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, no salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Not inedible. Sortof. Maybe too much ham paste in the broth. The flavors never blended. The ham tasted burned. Cheese helped.

Rating: *****

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Shirobako, the Blu-Ray

February 21, 2016

Sentai Filmworks has released Season 1 of Shirobako on blu-ray and DVD. I am a big fan of the series (I’ve watched it four or five times now on Crunchyroll) so of course I pre-ordered it, and just now finished my sixth runthrough. It’s interesting to see the Sentai translations compared to Crunchyroll’s. At the start of Episode 1, for example, Taoru* describes the first episode of Exodus, the anime-within-an-anime as being a purification for the director, while the Sentai translation says it’s a clean slate. The reference being to the director’s previous disaster with an anime titled Jiggly Heaven, and the actual word, I suspect, having some sort of Buddhist association. On the other hand, Sentai translates  one character’s pronunciation of our protagonna’s name, Myamori, as Meow-mori, which it definitely is not (besides, in Japan, cats say nyan, not meow). Once nice addition is that Sentai provides translator’s notes, explaining some of the in-jokes (and there are many).

The story is, of course, great. It’s about adults, solving adult problems. It’s a primer on how anime is made. It’s directed by my favorite director, Tsutomu Mizushima (of Girls und Panzer fame). So what’s not to like? Well, the story is great, but the delivery leaves something to be desired.

First of all, it’s subtitled only. I don’t mind, but my wife (and other acquaintances who are not so much into anime) much prefer dubbed. Second, surprisingly, the video quality is not as good as the Chrunchyroll SD transmission. I paused both on my home television, and switched back and forth. The Blu-ray is noticeably fuzzier than the streamed version. It’s not so bad as to be unwatchable — in fact, it only detracts if you’ve seen the streamed version — but it really is inexcusable, particularly for a product that costs $60 for a one-disk program. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of the marketing companies, and the only alternative is to not own a copy.

Season 2 is scheduled for release in May, 2016, and I’m going to pre-order that as well.

*Unlike many first names in this series (Aoi means Blue, for example), I can’t find a meaning for Taoru, but Taoru-san is how restaurateurs refer to cockroaches when the customers are listening.

Dropping my shorts

February 19, 2016

I have nothing against short-form anime, as such — defining short-form as say 10min or less in duration, including OP and ED. One doesn’t expect much depth, or things like character development. They are easy to watch, because they don’t take much time, so you don’t feel your life is slipping away. The interesting thing about the format is that they are extremely hard to get right. Robert Heinlein once said that the hardest story he ever wrote was for use as advertising copy in a technical magazine, and it had to fit in one page-long 2″ column. Good ones are very very good — Wakakozake, and Aiura, and … nothing else…come to mind. Bad ones range from meh to terrible. I just dropped two of them:

Meh

Sekko Boys. A one-joke anime that ran out of steam.

Sekko Boys. A one-joke anime that ran out of steam.

Terrible

J.K. Meshi. 3/4 terrible jokes. 1/4 terrible food.

J.K. Meshi. 3/4 terrible jokes.
1/4 terrible food.

Buttercream Oats

February 18, 2016

MJ brought home half a sheet cake the other day, remnants of a going away party. It was moderately fancy, as these things go: two slabs of white cake with pudding in the middle and a black and white buttercream frosting. I’m not fond of these things myself. Too, too sweet, and not enough chocolate chips. But suppose one were to repurpose them. Suppose one were to consider them an ingredient in oatmeal? (You knew that was coming, right? This isn’t a blog where you read “suppose one were to use this to feed the poor“).

I used water instead of broth (sheet cake in beef broth is a topic for another day), and added a standard-sized slab of the cake and icing, about what you’d get on a paper plate at a party with not too many attendees. Then, just for fun, I added a half of a large black buttercream flower.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of water, a 1x2x4 slice of sheet cake with buttercream frosting, additional frosting to taste, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the sheet cake close to the end.

Results: Tasted a lot like a standard sweet bowl of oatmeal. It was a little runny, probably because the buttercream melted down, as did the pudding. Were I to do it again I’d cut back to 3/4cup of water. The ‘black’ frosting turned a lovely Seahawks Blue, so that it looked like I was eating a bowl of blue soup. This one’s a keeper. I might start attending parties again.

Rating: *****

Shirobako Names

February 14, 2016

In the English-speaking West, the practice of giving meaningful first names has mostly died out. We generally don’t name kids Temperence or Praise-God any more (although Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Faith, Harmony, and Willow — with a brief appearance by Aphrodesia). In Japan, it is still the case that first names can be meaningful words. Here’s a small set drawn from the main characters in Shirobako. The names are in Japanese order, last name first:

Miyamori Aoi — Blue
Sakaki Shizuka — Peaceful
Tōdō Misa — Beautiful-sand
Imai Midori — Green
Takanashi Tarō — No meaning by itself, but ‘Tarō-san‘ is a code word restaurants use for cockroaches
Andō Tsubaki — Camillia
Iguchi Yumi — Helpful-still (yes, it’s the word for dream, but the kanji are different)
Satou Sara — Sal tree, important tree in both Hindu and Buddhist religions
Hiraoka Daisuke — Big-help (love is daisuki)

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 5

February 11, 2016

Opera continues to recede into irrelevance. I’m finding my Linux version incompatible with more and more websites (the latest being Penny Arcade), to the point where I’ve built a new folder in Firefox for links that don’t work in Opera. The only reason I still use it is that it has an excellent RSS feed reader — better than Firefox, better than any of the standalone programs I’ve tried.

The latest in the Operatic saga is an offer from a Chinese consortium, including the odious antivirus firm Qihoo, to buy it for 50% more than it’s worth. It’s not clear if they want it for the technology, for their rolodex, or for the espionage possibilities.

Olive Oats

February 4, 2016

Two years ago, I had a a horrible, terrible, no good at all, experience trying Kalimata olives in my oatmeal. This time I’m trying sliced black olives, the kind you find on a certain style of tacos, or salad, or celery with cream cheese. We had opened a can and had used most of them on tacos, and salad, and celery with cream cheese, but there was about a quarter cup of olive dregs left, along with a half cup of the olive water. It had been long enough ago that the trauma had faded, so I tried again.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, quarter cup of sliced black olives and half a cup of water from the can (probably should use a third of a cup and adjust the broth), half a cup of broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, no salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end. Fat pinch of shredded cheese.

Results: Pretty good. A little salty. Olive flavor came thrugh nicely. Were I to do it again I think I’d put the olives in at the last moment. Cheese helped.

Rating: *****