Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel: A Fine Film that Reminds Us How to Set Comic Book Movie Expectations

Zack Snyder is an artist. To call him a great director is something of a stretch (though you would be safe to call him good), but if there is one thing to take away from his new film, Man of Steel, it is that Zack Snyder can engage an audience with spectacle. 
As comic book movies have exploded in recent years, subgenres have evolved within the field: there is the gritty, dark reboot (namely Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy), and there is the type that is not afraid to embrace the glamour and blockbuster status, giving audiences exactly what they expect from comic book hero movies (Marvel’s recent run of success). Another, less celebrated genre has emerged that focuses on the aesthetic experience of the graphic novel – think 300, Sin City, and Watchmen
Leaving Man of Steel, I found it difficult to place the film in any of these categories – and I felt that this is maybe the movie’s greatest shortcoming – it certainly felt like a Superman movie – but what kind? It wasn’t dark, and while Snyder always provides an elaborate canvas for the senses (as mentioned), it was not in the same vein as his earlier work (300 and Watchmen). It told the story effectively. 
I won’t go into spoilers, so I will just address this about the plot: It is the Superman story. Jor-El sends his son, Kal from a collapsing Krypton to Earth, where he, the last hope of the Kryptonian race, is hunted down by General Zod and his squad, who were imprisoned in a black hole when Krypton was destroyed. Where this movie succeeds, is that it tells the story of not Superman, but of Clark Kent. We know who Superman is – What about Kal-El? What motivates him, what is he thinking, and why does make the decisions he does? In this, Snyder triumphs. 
How would I grade the movie?
Story – 3/5 – It wasn’t original, but, as mentioned, it was a good approach to Kent, the man, instead of Superman, the comic book hero. Writers David Goyer and Christopher Nolan did a good job of giving everybody a motive. They tied in Lois Lane well, and the whole thing worked relatively well – the pace was bang-on. 
Writing – 2/5 – It read very much like a comic book film. It wasn’t witty like Downey’s Iron Man or disturbing like Nolan’s characters. There were lots of ‘Go to Hell!’s and ‘I’m going to stop you!’s. 
Aesthetics – 4/5 – Everybody is on point here, from cinematographer Amir Mokri (you can tell he’s done Transformers movies before) to Hollywood’s top current composer, Hans Zimmer. The fight scenes will pound in your chest, and Snyder ultimately does a great job of making the audience feel the power of what is happening on the screen.
Acting – 3/5 – These are not challenging roles, though everybody does their job. Amy Adams (Lois Lane) and Russell Crowe (Jor-El) are as good as you’d expect. Michael Shannon shines as the purpose-driven General Zod, a performance reminiscent of his stint as the righteous prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden. Henry Cavill as Superman is rugged, honest, and easy to root for, but doesn’t steal any scenes. 
Overall – 60%

Friday, June 14, 2013

E3: A Week in Gamer Paradise

I have a confession to make: I'm a huge video game nerd. That meant that this past week was like a quick trip up to heaven. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was held this past week in Los Angeles, and it certainly was not short on huge news, great trailers, and cheap shots delivered at press conferences. Let's start out with the biggest news: Generation 4 consoles.

Story of the Week: XBox One vs. PS4 vs. Wii U

Without a doubt, this is where the biggest news of the week came. Everyone new that the next generation of consoles was upon us. Hell, the Wii U has been around for close to a year. No, this week was all about showing off the consoles, reviewing new games, and trying to break each other's backs to gain support from consumers. Now, let's get into what the three major companies have coming up:


For Nintendo, this week was all about upping the number of games available to users. To this point, Wii U sales have been absolute garbage, and it's because the system just isn't that innovative. The thing that is going to keep Nintendo alive is its laundry list of exclusive games. Here's what is coming shortly:

Super Mario 3D World
Mario Kart 8
Pikmin 3
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Bayonetta 2
Super Smash Bros. 4 (Wii U/3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (remake)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to Both Worlds
Pokemon X/Y (3DS)

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Well, Nintendo is floating alongside this phrase, but in a weird way. They are doing the same thing over and over, and it might be killing their results. The list above is just a continuation of what Nintendo has been doing for multiple decades. Nintendo gamers have to be excited about the new games coming out, but I also get a sense of complacency from the company. They do what they do, and they are fine doing it.


I'm sure you've heard of Microsoft's business model by now for the XBox One. Essentially, they are going to place a leech on your wallet and let it suck you dry until you remove it by dumping the system or go broke in the process of enjoying games. Their biggest and most disappointing announcement was that the company is going to start requiring licenses for every game. What does this mean? It means no sharing or re-selling of game. You pay full price every time and deal with the results whether you like it or not.

This doesn't just make things expensive, though--the price of $500 takes care of that. It makes every purchase a risk. See, in the current video game market that every knows and loves--I repeat l-o-v-e-s--you can buy a game, decide it sucks, and then sell it back. Microsoft thinks that process is for punks and wants you to pay full price. While it makes sense that they want to stop losing the opportunity for money on the used market, they also have to realize that paying 60 bucks is considered a big investment for some people, and those investments simply won't be made if people aren't 100% confident in what they are playing.

Things aren't all bad for Microsoft, though. While things on the exclusive game front aren't the greatest, they did pick up some key franchises. For example, Kingdom Hearts III--which I will go into detail about later in the post--is going to be the first multi-console KH game. The XBox One will also be home to Final Fantasy XV, Destiny, Watch Dogs, and several other games that are going to be featured later. It's a good time for Microsoft, but they know they are playing with fire by significantly changing their business model.


Without a doubt, Sony won E3. The press conference the company held on Monday can be described as nothing less than awe-inspiring. You may think that's over the top, but it really isn't. Along with the details of the PS4 being revealed--including its stellar price of $399--Sony announced that it wasn't going to go down the route of licensing. This meant that the only real differences between the PS3 and PS4 are better graphics, better load times, better online experiences, and more variability.

On the game front, Sony couldn't have done better. Somehow, they convinced Square Enix story-telling guru Tetsuya Nomura to come out of his shell and officially announce that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was renamed and would be launched for the PS4 AND announce that Kingdom Hearts III was in production and would also be launched for the PS4.

That wasn't all, though. Sony's press conference was loaded with epic trailers--including Assassin's Creed 4, Watch Dogs, and The Last of Us--and jabs at Microsoft's new business model. To say that Sony got people excited at their press conference on Monday would be an understatement.


For me, this is what E3 is all about. Unless you get a weird year like 2013, you just don't see a bunch of console demos and reveals at E3 events. What you get are incredible games that are put on display for the world to see. Here is a sneak peak at a bunch of upcoming titles.

The Last of Us

In short, this is going to be your game of the year. You know what games score a perfect 10/10 masterpiece rating on IGN? The masterpieces. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Starcraft, and Super Mario Bros. are the kind of games that pull this rating. In my mind--due to my childhood-Naughty Dog will never produce anything better than the Crash Bandicoot franchise, but this one may change my mind. It's a PS3-exclusive, and it's an apocalypse thriller. Get ready for some gore, some survival, and some epic gaming.

Watch Dogs
You're an ex-thug who also happens to be an extraordinary hacker that can manipulate anything connected to Chicago's main network. A video game where your main weapon is a smart phone? Talk about being incredibly innovative. Just watch the trailer. That's what you need to know.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Play as a trooper/jedi/wookie and kill people in a Star Wars environment. #nerdgasm


It's fucking Bungie. Bungie made Halo...and Halo 2. Watch the trailer and get Destiny. It's a multi-console game, too.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Basically you run around and fight as Batman. The first pair of games in this series--Arkham Asylum and Arkham City--are pretty awesome.

Super Smash Bros. 4
If you have gone this far in your life and haven't been exposed to Super Smash Bros. then SHAME ON YOU. Gather your favorite Nintendo and third-party characters and put them in an arena for a fight to the death--or multiple deaths, actually. This game is going to feature three new characters: Wii Fit Trainer--this one will wind up being sneaky good, just trust me--Villager from Animal Crossing, and Mega Man--who might be the the addition to the franchise in its history. While I'm going to still smack people around with hammers as Kirby, I'm sure this game will make it into a few households and lead to some epic moments between friends.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
If there is one game I have any reservations about, it's probably this one. The launch for Assassin's Creed 3 was so big last year that it felt like some time would be taken between that installment and the next numbered game. Instead of doing that, AC4 will be upon us quicker than you might think--in October, in fact. Basically, apply your knowledge of how AC works to a Pirate. That's your game.

Infamous: Second Son
Visually incredible, this might be the best trailer from the entire week. Seriously, just enjoy watching it. At this point, I don't care if the game's good. The trailer has me hooked enough to give it a look.

Alright, a quick breather as these next two games are #1 and #2 on my watch list. We'll start with #2.

Final Fantasy XV (Previously named "Final Fantasy Versus XIII")
Many moons ago--at E3 2006--Square Enix announced a trio of projects in what was supposed to be the Crystal Saga of Final Fantasy. After seven years, the partner game to Final Fantasy XV--which was actually Final Fantasy XIII--is going on its third installment before Final Fantasy XV even got an official update. Square isn't dicking around this time, though. The team that developed Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II was put on assignment on this game seven years ago. Add in the Luminous engine and the new abilities of the PS4, and we could be looking at one of the most visually stunning and deep video games ever. If that seems bold, then let's just say that people have high expectations for Final Fantasy XV. The series hasn't had a true hit since its tenth edition--which is being re-released on December 31st of this year--and the financial future of Square Enix may depend on its success. After all, they'll have put in close to a decade of work into it since it was first announced.

Kingdom Hearts III

I'm going to say here that there is no video game franchise that I have ever personally enjoyed more than the Kingdom Hearts series. It may not be the most appealing thing to most people, and it may seem childish to some of you, but take it from this perspective: I grew up in one of Disney's greatest eras. The Lion King, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, Pixar, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc are some of the movies/franchises that I've been able to watch develop and appear before my eyes. Combine that with a feel of Final Fantasy and you have just about the craziest and most amazing idea for a video game--in my mind.

But you won't understand why this is so significant to me until you learn the back story. Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II were both Playstation 2 games--with the sequel appearing in 2006. Since the second game, which is probably the greatest video game I have personally ever played, Square Enix has only bothered to release side games to develop a story. While I absolutely loved these games, they didn't add a lot to the primary story line. They added details and had great stories as individual games, but they weren't numbered games, which means less game play and less significant story movement.

Hopefully that is all about to change. Game director Tetsuya Nomura revealed that the game has been in production for almost three years now and that they are using the shading techniques available on the PS4 to enhance the graphics of the game. So finally, after seven long, long years, I was able to sit and watch a preview trailer for the third game in the franchise. I cannot wait until this comes out.


Licensing bullshit or not, this is a great time to be a video game player. The next generation of consoles is going to provide graphics processing that none of us ever thought was possible. It's not just the consoles, either, as the sheer volume of incredibly creative new games combined with the newest releases in ageless franchises has created a game list that gamers cannot wait for. I didn't even get to discuss games like Elder Scrolls Online or the latest editions in the Kill Zone and Mad Max franchises.

This E3 was huge, and I hope all of you will be waiting in line to get some of these games in the future like I will be. In fact, The Last of Us was just released. Go buy it, enjoy it, and thank Naughty Dog personally. I know I will.

Review: Kanye West -- Yeezus

I must admit – while I would call myself a music fan, a devout fan I am not. I do not make note of when to expect new albums from major artists, and would not typically listen to an entire album, cover to cover, as it were. To actually sit down and make an effort to listen to an album, an artist needs to have a track record of success, of pushing boundaries and being original, and of making good music.
So I sat down and listened to Kanye West’s new album, Yeezus. 
Several things become readily apparent. The first is that Kanye’s decision to allow more input from his co-producers was a very good idea. Kanye has historically done a ton of producing, which has obviously yielded fantastic results for him, culminating in 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which the Telegraph’s Neil McCormick called the Sgt. Pepper’s of rap. 
Kanye’s co-producers did not disappoint . With notable contributions from French house legends Daft Punk, Kanye’s music has taken another drastic turn. Something that stands out in these songs is that they are less and less about rap, less about Kanye and the lyrics. This is music. 
The songwriting is as good as any Kanye West album, including Fantasy. New Slaves stands out as a perfect example, and whoever made the decision to sample Omega’s Gyonghaku lany as the outro is a genius – the producing on this track is absolutely, unapologetically fucking brilliant. Play this one loud. 
 The above is not to say that the rapping on the album is not top notch. Yeezy is on point here. I’m not pretentious enough to talk about flow or style, but it is fun to listen to, and lyrically, he is fantastic – and he knows it. Here is a segment from his humbly-titled I Am a God:
I know he the most high
But I am a close high
Mi casa es su casa
That's that cosa nostra
I am a god

He manages to call himself a rap deity and call out past generations of rap idols (‘I don’t wanna hear why some niggas like you / Old niggas mentally still in high school’) in the same breath, and, I might add, just a couple years removed from Watch the Throne, a tag-team effort with Jay-Z. 
Something else that is apparent is that Kanye is again making an effort to racially charge his themes and express not just unrest or aggravation, but full-on anger. The tempos are aggressive, his tone biting, and his lyrics as provocative as ever (from a guy who wrote, ‘I treat cash the way the government treats AIDS / I won’t be satisfied til all my niggas get it’). He manages to take this barely-controlled rage and make an emotional connection, talking about how his mother grew up not being afforded clean drinking water owing to the colour of her skin in New Slaves, and mentioning his religious critics in Black Skinhead
There is complexity, subtlety, and depth in this album (Blood on the Leaves, New Slaves). There is classic Kanye soul (Bound 2), but that does not mean that Kanye isn’t going to be played in clubs or be downloaded onto iPods – Send it Up may require a listen or two, but despite the experimentalism present throughout the album, it’s pretty accessible to anyone looking for a beat to lose your self-respect to. 
The one complaint I have is the use of auto-tune. I don’t think a lot of people appreciated the phenomenon a few years ago, and I’m not sure that it will be welcome back, especially not when he uses it to counter Nina Simone in Blood on the Leaves
The final telling thing from this album is that Kanye does not understand antiquity. From Black Skinheads: ‘I keep it 300, like the Romans / 300 bitches, where the Trojans?’

All told, this is a fantastic album, and while it is not Kanye’s best work, it is amazing that he can continue to produce at a high level while remaining original and thought-provoking. 8.5/10. 

The album is set to be released on June 18. 

Hi and Open

Since I am such a trend setter I will follow the theme of introducing myself to the blog before I get into anything else. I am engaged to a wonderful girl and we currently live with her family in western Wisconsin as I work with my Elementary Education degree as a substitute teacher. We’ll be getting married next May, and possibly at some point I can give a few pointers on what to expect and how to handle the whole wedding planning process.

You could say that I am new to the whole blog world, at least in a format like this, but I do contribute quite a bit on a forum (Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown), where I have accumulated over 25,000 posts. The site’s main focus is the NFL Draft, the ranking of prospects and posting of mock drafts. The NFL Draft, getting to mix college football with the NFL, is my number one interest when it comes to the sports world, and I follow the other big sports like baseball, basketball, hockey and the next tier sports like golf and tennis. Once the football season starts, many of my blog posts will be directed towards football as I do work on my own rankings, which are usually unique, and I also take the time to do a mock draft every once in a while. Needless to say, the football season can’t get here soon enough.

The blog won’t be littered by entries of my opinions on video games, movies or television shows since I don’t play much on the Xbox any longer, don’t hit up the movie theater much at all and I only have a select few shows I feel I really need to watch on a weekly basis. What does that mean? It means most of my posts will be sports related.

Enough about me and what I like, and time for a quick opinion. The NBA Finals has drawn my attention over the past week and will continue to have me watch once we get to Sunday night. Just like any Father’s Day weekend, the US Open is consuming the majority of my days. Merion is a golf course I knew little about before this week except that it’s under 7,000 yards, which for non-golf fans to know is rarely heard of in the PGA nowadays, and the expectations were for players to take full advantage of the lack of length. Plus, you factor in wet conditions recently, making the course soft, and it’s seemingly a recipe to see far better scores than we’re accustomed to seeing at an Open.

Well it’s Friday afternoon/evening now, the leader (Phil Mickelson) is 2-under par and only four golfers are under par altogether. Merion has proven to be pesky as it asks golfers to play more strategy than bombing it with their length. The rough is the customary Open length and nearly serves as a stroke penalty in spots. What has stood out to me more than anything is the professionals’ inability to take advantage of the short approach shots with their wedges. One would think that guys who play golf for a living would be able to knock the ball close when they’re sitting at around 100 yards, but that simply hasn’t been the case, and the approaches look more like something I’d hit during an afternoon out on the course.

The short game is undoubtedly the most difficult part of golf, and whichever golfer can figure out the course and their own short game will likely be the winner when we hit Sunday. I am always pulling for Tiger Woods when I tune in and that’ll hold true entering the weekend, but if I needed to tell you a winner as I sit here right now I would put my money on Wisconsin’s very own Steve Stricker. There are few with a better wedge game and he does a great job of managing his game, never trying to do too much.

Song Review: Draggin’ the Line

When I was first approached to write in this blog, I was told I should review “old people stuff.” I was taken a little aback by this. I do not consider myself “old” in any way; heck, I’m just 28 years old. When I asked what he meant by this, he said I should review old music and tv shows. Yes, I do appreciate classic entertainment and in many ways it set the standard for what we have today. Also, there are many examples that the classics are just better than what’s being produced now.

The first song I decided to review is Draggin’ the Line by Tommy James, released in 1971. It was James’ biggest solo hit after breaking up with the Shondells, peaking at #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts and remained in the top 40 for 11 weeks. It can be classified as “psychedelic rock” and it’s one of those songs that easily identified on the first couple of notes on the bass guitar. The line “of hugging a tree when you get near it” puts you right in that era and apparently the term “tree hugger” was derived from this song.

My criteria for liking a song is simple. It has to have a good beat and melody. Something that I can whistle or hum to and makes me feel good. The lyrics are usually secondary. However, reading the lyrics of “Draggin’ the Line” does have me wondering what the heck the song is about. Here are the lyrics:

Makin' a living the old hard way
Takin' and giving by day by day 

I dig snow and rain and bright sunshine 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line)

My dog Sam eats purple flowers 

We ain't got much but what we got's ours 
We dig snow and rain and bright sunshine 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line) 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line)

I feel fine. I'm talkin' bout peace of mind 

I'm gonna take my time. I'm gettin' the good sign 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line) 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line)

Loving the free and feelin' spirit 

Of huggin' a tree when you get near it 
Diggin' the snow and rain and bright sunshine 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line)

I feel fine. I'm talkin' bout peace of mind 

I'm gonna take my time. I'm gettin' the good sign 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line) 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line) 
Draggin' the line (draggin' the line).....

Several theories have arose about the meaning of the song, including that it’s about cocaine use. Not satisfied with that answer, I went to where they did an interview with Tommy James:
"Draggin' the Line" just meant working every day. Nothing really very mysterious about it.

Well, enjoy the un-mysterious song:

A Monthly Dose of Westeros: Part 1-The Greyjoys

Since Game of Thrones is currently on a ten month break, I will be providing my thoughts and predictions for one storyline every month until the show’s return. Since I read the books, I know what should happen, but several plots seem to be taking turns away from the original material, while others are almost spot on. I will examine these apparent changes/accuracy, and do my best to avoid spoilers in “A Monthly Dose of Westeros”.

The first storyline I want to cover is the slowly expanding role of the Greyjoys and their ironborn. Currently, Theon Greyjoy is being tortured by Ramsay Bolton, the bastard son of Roose Bolton. Meanwhile, back on their home island of Pyke, his sister Yara (actually called Asha in the books...) is determined to free Theon from his torture chamber. Their father Balon does not even bother to try. This is all fine and dandy to see on screen; the only problem is...NONE of this is in the books.

Ramsay don't take nothin'!
Theon’s last book appearance before this point in the show is at the very end of A Clash for Kings, which was the source material for the show’s second season. While it is assumed that everything happening in the show is happening in the books (just not from any characters’ points of view), we see no description of this on the page. Now, ever since his betrayal of Robb Stark, I have hated Theon with a passion...but I cannot help but feel bad for the poor guy here. The decision to include Theon’s torture in the show is not a bad one; I particularly enjoyed the intense interactions between Alfie Allen (Theon) and Iwan Rheon (Bolton). Both have been exceptional in these scenes. Honestly, the scene in season three's finale "Mhysa" when Theon insists his name is Theon Greyjoy (not Reek) is one of the best pieces of acting I've seen on the show. But I already find myself wondering where they are going with it.

The Greyjoy sister, meanwhile, remains at Deepwood Motte, which she conquered in season 2, until a certain important event draws her back to the Iron Islands. She does not think, mention, or go after Theon at all. In fact, the Greyjoys barely make an appearance in A Storm of Swords, the third and fourth seasons’ main source material. They play a large part in A Feast for Crows, though, but that will most likely become the show’s fifth season.

Many of the other Thrones fans I have spoken to seem excited about seeing Yara once again form a large army and return to the north, seeking out her helpless brother. Perhaps because I am aware of what happens next for the Greyjoys is the reason I am upset about this decision, or perhaps its because I have absolutely no idea where it is going in the show. My prediction is that the writers are simply making a move to return Yara to the northern mainland and will bring her home again in the next season, abandoning her search for Theon.

Yara, you're looking the wrong way...
But the scene towards the end of season 3’s finale would then serve absolutely no purpose. We already know Balon doesn’t care about Theon; they showed plenty of that when he first returned home. Last we saw the Kraken and his daughter, they were opening a box containing Theon’ Yara argues that Theon deserves a rescue. He is her brother and Balon’s son, after all, so she decides to march on the Dreadfort...a perfect name for the Boltons' castle. This scene also seems like an awkward way to bring back a character we haven’t seen or heard from in almost a whole year: a 3 minute conversation with her extremely stubborn father about a rescue mission that never existed in the books.

While I don’t particularly like the Greyjoys, I did find their storyline in A Feast for Crows rather intriguing. I hope they stick to it and don’t rush this part of the story to make other things happen sooner. I hope that we don’t see Yara or the Greyjoys until the show begins adapting A Feast for Crows, but for the moment I am uncertain of what’s to come. This is one of the storylines I’m looking forward to the least.

But hey, maybe that’s just because I’m not an ironborn fan.

Dogg's Cookin With Gas

Hi my name’s Chris and I like to cook.


Ok now that the introductions are over let’s get down to business. The first order of business is for me to tell you that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing here as this is only the second blog article I’ve ever written. I suppose that puts me on level ground with most people when it comes to what my blog is about: cooking. By that I mean that the majority of people that I speak or message with about cooking seem to be more or less in the dark about it as if it is some great mystery. It is not. Cooking is easy and a lot of fun.

I know I said the introductions were over but before I get into cooking any further I think I should tell you all a bit about myself. Outside of being a fairly large man at 6’3” and 225 pounds who can grow an epic Viking beard, I do not stand out in a crowd. I’m an average Joe who pays a mortgage, has a beautiful wife, two cats and a dog. I change my own oil, go camping with friends and love to sit on my patio or deck having a drink in the evening. I’ve never received any formal training in cooking and what I know is through trial and error and my cooking messiah: Food Network.

Now I assume many of you are wondering why or how a manly man such as myself got into what many wrongly consider to be a womanly activity. The answer to that is twofold. Firstly, as a large man I enjoy eating and needed to be able to make food I could stomach. Secondly, and MUCH more importantly, I learned at an early age that women love a man who can cook. Seriously, all the young guys out there should write that down. Being able to cook is a very fast way into a woman;s… uh… heart. That all being said, cooking is not a womanly activity at all so leave your sexism at the door since I am all that is man :)

So where to start? I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning which is determining what you want to make. My best suggestion to you if you want to learn is to go outside of your comfort zone a little bit at a time. Making Easy-Mac 4 nights a week isn’t going to give you any skills or impress anyone. That being said, don’t jump from the Easy-Mac to attempting a seven course gourmet meal either. Work your way up slowly but still challenge yourself. I personally am a pasta fiend so my initial attempts were things like chicken parmesan, lasagna and seafood linguine. I can assure you that as I learned I plated up some less than gourmet food, but I learned what to do and what not to do as I made my mistakes. Next time you’re thinking Easy-Mac, whip up a goulash instead. Remember that the internet is your friend and millions of recipes and tips are literally at your fingertips at all times.

I’m not quite sure how to end this thing so I’m going end each blog entry with one of my personal recipes. Write 'em down, give 'em a try.

Tequila-Lime Enchiladas

3 Chicken Breasts Cubed                       ½ Red Bell Pepper Finely Chopped
1 Med Onion Finely Chopped                1/3 Cup Tequila
1/3 Cup Lime Juice                                1 Tbsp Oregano
½ Cup Banana Peppers Chopped           ½ Tsp Parsley
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed                        1 Jar Salsa
Cheddar Cheese                                     10 Large Tortillas
1 Cup Fresh Mushrooms Chopped

  1. Put chicken, red pepper, banana peppers and garlic in large sealable plastic bag. Combine tequila, lime juice, oregano and parsley in a bowl and add to bag. Press out air and seal. Marinade together for 4 hours in refrigerator.
  2. Cook chicken in large pan until done. Add remainder of contents of the marinade bag, onion and mushrooms. Simmer together until liquid is reduced.
  3. Put mixture into tortillas, fold and place in lasagna pan.
  4. Pour salsa over top and sprinkle cheddar cheese over that.
  5. Bake at 350 F for about ½ hour.