Sunday, August 31, 2008

Are you ready for some football?

Lots of cool things are about to start. Real Time with Bill Maher kicked off last night. With election season in full swing, Bill should have plenty to mock about the depressing state of American politics. Next week the NFL season begins, which I'm looking forward to in a big way after eight years away. Last night we all went to University of Phoenix Stadium, host to about the best Superbowl ever last year and only about 15 minutes from my place in the west valley, and we all watched the Cardinals take on the Broncos. There were tons of people from Denver here in Phoenix for a pre-season game, and many took this game of mostly scrubs pretty seriously. This guy two seats in front of us argued with the Cardinals fan next to him like it was an Arab-Israeli negotiation. Lots of "we" words thrown around as if he were on the team. My baby girl is fascinated with lights, so she enjoyed gazing at the sky. It was the first time for both my boys to see a professional sporting event or an arena like this, so it was not a lot money well spent -- I had co-workers who gave me the seats. Thanks Bryan.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mariscada: A fantastic Portuguese dish

New Jersey has an especially large Portuguese population, and that group offers a wildly underrated cuisine that ranks among my favorites. One of the few redeeming features of Newark, N.J., is the large concentration of Portuguese restaurants. If you find yourself on a layover in Newark Airport, go pick one, and by all means get a pitcher of sangria. There aren't a lot of recipes out there for my favorite dish, Mariscada Salsa Verde, and few that remind me of the real version of this sumptuous meal, but after a long time of pondering the artistry in making this favorite, I'm quite sure this is indeed the one I've eaten in my native New Jersey dozens of times.

Paella is much better known than Mariscada, but I vastly prefer this dish because the broth has more flavor, I simply like the pure Mediterranean seafood taste and it isn't as dry as Paella. Mariscada is basically a seafood stew served over saffron rice. I've made this several times and it works very well. If you try it, let me know how it goes. I know many people have been googling this recipe, and I'd like feedback from fellow enthusiasts. The above left is how my finished products looks. My sangria is to the lower right, and all that takes is a combo of wine, triple sec, brandy, sprite, orange juice, apples and oranges.

Mariscada Salsa Verde (Serves 4-6):

Six cloves of garlic chopped
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 pound mussels cleaned and debearded.
1 pound scallops
1 pound shrimp
1 to 2 pounds littleneck clams
2 cups white wine
4 cups shellfish stock (see below)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Extras (I've tried these additions. They help, but can add significant expense.)
lobster pieces like claws
splash of sherry
saffron threads

Put two cups wine, 4 cups water, 5 mussels, 4 scallops, 5 whole shrimp plus shells of remaining pound, 4 clams, chopped cilantro, 3 chopped garlic cloves and 1/2 chopped onion in crock pot, put on high for three hours to make the shellfish stock. Leave it alone and don't worry about it.

When that's done and you're ready to eat, saute remaining garlic and onion in olive oil in a two quart saucepan until fragrant. Put strainer over pot, pour in broth from crock pot, discard shells and solids from strainer. Add remaining shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and bring to a low boil. Add salt to taste. Simmer about 10 minutes. Serve over saffron rice.

Update: This gets hit on Google 10 times per day. I would like to hear how it went over if you tried it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The DMB rocks Phoenix

Caught the Dave Matthews Band for the third summer in a row. This was by far the best of the three. I missed the first three songs, which aren't favorites, but sat in the 10th row from the stage for $60. Carter threw some drumsticks into the crowd and some jackass knocked down a crowd of people. I was almost one of them. The jams were quite lengthy, with #41 going on at least twenty minutes -- most of them good. That's a favorite and the first time I heard them play it live. Tonight was the first time I heard Jimi Thing as well. Lots of covers including Money and Burning Down the House.

This is the full setlist: Bartender *You Might Die Trying *Dancing Nancies *#27 *Burning Down The House *Sugar Will *Corn Bread *+Money *So Damn Lucky *#41 *Old Dirt Hill *Jimi Thing *So Much To Say *Anyone Seen The Bridge *Too Much *Stay (Wasting Time)*Don’t Drink the Water *Two Step *

Book recommendation

If you've ever been on that Battan like cross country crawl via Greyhound, this book Greyhound Diary is a good chance to laugh your ass off recalling that experience. The book checks in at a mere sixty pages, but it is a rant full of observations and vitriol on the sadness of the typical bus experience. I read it one day this summer and have been meaning to mention it.

Here is the book description: The Greyhound Diary Travel Guide is a depressingly hilarious roaming narrative. A postmodern Odyssey from the backwoods of Wheatland to the lost highway in West Memphis. From the trashed streets of Newark to the industrial cesspool that is Cleveland. Trapped inside the Turtle Boat with tattooed clowns and freak-show white trash, a grueling masochistic non-stop journey into the heart of fear. Everyone, regardless of age, race, color, creed, sexual orientation, class distinction and/or drug and alcohol dependency will relate to this universal saga steeped in American popular culture. This horrid tour is a cynical account of what it feels like to be out there on the bus in the middle of nowhere crawling around at ten miles an hour with Amelia Earhart's retarded brother at the controls. This is everything you've forgotten on those trips home from college. A fascinating, compelling ride.

A new Mitch Hedberg release

Since Mitch won't be doing any new tours, this is the next best thing: The first and I would imagine last posthumous release. If you haven't caught the comedic stylings of Mitch Hedberg, you're missing out. What kind of world are we living in where Bernie Mac, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and Mitch Hedberg die young, but Sinbad and Carrot Top are hale as a horse?

In other matters, I've discovered in just a few weeks on the job that Saipan isn't the only place in America with severe academic issues. Indeed I can see literacy just falling off a cliff in this country. I have scores of students claiming not to have a single book in their house. Now, there is an especially strong tendency here among students to come up with every excuse under sun or moon to avoid work, but I'm starting to think they aren't lying about having no books in the house. Things like spelling here are far worse than in Saipan. With a far better staff of teachers, better funding, though not dramatic with all the federal goodies the CNMI gets or is at least eligible for and not all administrators take advantage of, students here in the mainland are every bit as intellectually troubled as what I saw in Saipan. There are bright spots. I have an honors class that reminds me why I got into this job.
Chrissy Hyde, who has one of the sexiest voices in history, had an album called Learning to Crawl. I started seeing that already yesterday as Brad Ruszala's goddaughter is becoming mobile, not so agile, and sometimes hostile. She's still on the master cleanse of her own, drinking just milk.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Turbitt kids growing leaps and bounds

Life of late: Ashley turns four months on Monday and is trying to walk and talk already. I'm not a baby expert, but it sure seems early. She radiates this bursting desire to do both these things already, and it is pretty jarring to her dad. With the slightest assistance she can stand already. After having a lot of help in Saipan and the Philippines, Cynthia is taking care of this high maintenance little girl all day while I'm at school with the boys. This is an extraordinarily difficult job.

Also, after a lot of effort and practice, I finally got Alex to take that leap of faith, so he can now swim. Not bad for five years old. There have been other big events in his life. He started kindergarten last week and also discovered erections, which leaves him rather perplexed.

Also, sat about twenty feet from Bill Maher at his show in downtown Phoenix last week. It was a great show. Next week the Dave Matthews Band is in town. Those things almost make up for not being able to go diving.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Kicking it with an Arizona bikini girl

This little girl loves the pool. We've been going in most every day. Studies show all kinds of physical and intellectual benefits for infants doing so, not to mention the benefits to actually learning to swim at a younger age.
I was driving home and caught this cool visual of the sun behind a cloud.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Small world

I bought a used tv from an older woman in a Phoenix suburb, and while chatting she asked me how long I've been in Arizona, which is a state about as full of transients as it gets, and I told her I just came from very far away. She asks where from, and I tell her Saipan, which results in the color in her face turning a whiter shade of pale. She relates that her father died there in the Battle of Saipan while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A couple days later a colleague in my school system related living in Saipan in the fifties and seeing "black sea monsters" (divers in archaic dive getup) and playing in the WWII bomb craters. Small world really.
CNMI headlines real and possible:

GAO downplays Fitial’s economic disaster scenario

Fire blamed for distraction in world record fiddling attempt

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Queen has landed

My baby girl and the rest of the family arrived haggard though otherwise ok this week. I've gotten some extremely useful professional development this past week as well. My new school has far less technology than Saipan Southern, but far better teacher training and a much more extensive support system. I still haven't seen rain out here, though I did see some serious lightning. I don't think Phoenix, as hot as it is, feels anywhere near as hot as my previous locales in Saipan or the Carolinas.

In other surprises, these new HDTVs are amazing. This technology barely existed when I left, and HDTV is a quantum leap over what was previously available. One day, hopefully in time for the NFL season, I'll get one. I'll be seeing Bill Maher and the Dave Matthews band this month, and the Cowboys v. Cardinals game and the Coldplay concert in the Fall. Nice to have access to those types of things again. I'm hardly settled in, but I'm getting there. Compared to a few months ago, I have better housing, a much better car, better food available and a job with more upside potential. On the flip side, I still don't really know anyone here yet.