America’s Love Affair with Pizza

angelchrys shared this story from Flourish - King Arthur Flour’s blog.

When you think of frozen pizza, what comes immediately to mind?

Mom pulling a Celentano’s pizza out of the oven on Friday night?

The long-ago aroma of Totino’s Pizza Rolls baking in a dorm oven?

IMG_4110How about the frozen food section at the supermarket, and how one entire aisle is packed with – yes, frozen pizza?

Which isn’t surprising: Americans spend between $4- and $5-billion on frozen pizza each year. According to industry statistics, at any given time about two-thirds of U.S. refrigerators include at least one frozen pizza.

All of which makes pizza the #3 frozen food in America – after frozen dinners/entrées and ice cream, respectively, which usually jockey for top position.

And in all fairness, ice cream would be #1 if you included ice cream bars, cups, Popsicles, and other “novelties.” File under: (no) need to know.

So, with all the boxes of frozen pizza out there, just waiting to be tossed into your shopping cart – why make your own?

OK, you know why you make our own homemade pizza. Because its crust is deliciously chewy and fresh-tasting, the exact thickness you like; its toppings personalized to taste, be they kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese, or roasted potatoes with melted Brie.

And because you know exactly what’s in it: flour, water, salt, yeast, olive oil; tomato sauce, fresh vegetables/meats, cheese.

pizza1Of course, you know exactly what’s in the frozen pizza you buy at the supermarket, too.

IMG_5442 Don’t get me wrong – some of the supermarket pizza is really tasty, especially those “rising crust” varieties, which do a good job of mimicking homemade.

And frozen supermarket pizza is convenient, for sure.

But if you want YOUR favorite pizza (and I don’t care if it’s pepperoni and jellybeans), plus the convenience of just-pop-it-in-the-oven frozen –

We can do that. YOU can do that.

And here’s how.

First, make your favorite pizza dough recipe.

I like the dough for our Now or Later Pizza; it’s versatile (bake it now, bake it later – the name says it all). Plus the touch of olive oil helps keep it from drying out too much in the freezer.

IMG_5087I make a double batch, and let it rest overnight in the fridge, to develop its flavor. Also, because it fits better into my schedule that way.

First step: gently deflate the dough.

Look at that gluten, eh? You can really see the stretchy gluten “web.” That stretchiness is what allows bread (and pizza crust) to rise, rather than just “pop” and deflate.

pizza2Round the deflated dough into a ball, then decide how many pizzas you want to make.

I’m starting with about 1200g of dough (about 2 pounds, 10 1/2 ounces). I know from past experience that a 150g (5 1/4-ounce) piece of dough makes a medium-crust, single-serve (8″) pizza; while a 100g (3 1/2-ounce) piece makes a thin-crust, single-serve pizza.

I divide the dough into 10 pieces: six 100g, four 150g pieces. A scale makes this whole process quite easy.

You may want larger pizzas; feel free to make whatever size you like out of whatever amount of dough you have.

Round each piece into a ball, then flatten into a disk.

pizza3Out come my parchment rounds, the perfect solution for shaping pizza crusts.

If you don’t have parchment, simply roll the crusts on a lightly greased surface; but parchment makes the rolling, transporting, AND baking of these crusts a whole lot easier.

Grease one piece of parchment; lay one of the disks on the parchment.

pizza4Cover it with another piece of lightly greased parchment. Pat or roll the dough as wide as you like; it’ll inevitably shrink a bit when you quit pushing it around, so take that into account.

Pinch a rim around the edge of the crust, if you like; I like.

IMG_5114Here they all are, awaiting their next step – which is baking.

Or not. Scroll down to the very end of this post for an alternate way to prepare your crusts.*

Now, for thicker crusts, you’ll want to let the dough rise for awhile; 45 minutes, an hour, 2 hours, your choice.

For a thinner, cracker-type crust, you can bake right away.

Depending on when you’re going to bake your crusts, preheat the oven to 425°F. If you have a pizza stone in your oven, so much the better. If you don’t, get out a baking sheet.

Put the crusts into the oven, parchment and all. As I said, they’re a lot easier to handle on their parchment base.

pizza5Watch carefully the first few minutes, as the crusts will bubble – and sometimes even turn into fat balloons! As soon as you see this happening, open the oven door and poke them with a sharp knife, gently deflating any bubbles.

You’re going to par-bake the crusts – bake them just until they’re set, and won’t deflate. You don’t want them to brown.

I find the optimum time is about 5 to 6 minutes for a thin crust, and 7 to 8 minutes for a thicker crust. To double check, feel the crust; it should feel barely set, and not at all “doughy;” but again, it shouldn’t be at all brown.

Remove the crusts from the oven, and transfer them to racks to cool; it’s OK to layer them on the cooling rack, if you have to.

IMG_5141See the difference between thin crust and thick?

Also, see those brown spots on the top crust? I let it go a tad too long. Live and learn.

IMG_5124Once the crusts are cool, you have two choices. Bag them, and store at room temperature for several days (or in the freezer, for up to a month)…

pizza6…or jump right into assembling your pizzas.

I researched some common types of frozen pizza; “roasted vegetable” seems to be a variety offered by most manufacturers, with peppers, spinach, and mushrooms the most common vegetables.

I can’t see oven-roasting these, when they’re so easily fried; so into the frying pan they go, until they lose some of their liquid and start to brown. They’re definitely not limp; just partially cooked.

pizza16Tomato sauce (my favorite is Marcella Hazan’s, but feel free to choose your own); veggies; spinach (another vegetable I can’t see roasting; this is just cooked and squeezed dry); and mozzarella cheese.

Next: into the freezer they go.

pizza8Squeeze as many crusts as you can onto a pan; tent the pan with something (waxed paper, plastic wrap, parchment, foil) to keep the frost off; and place in the freezer until the pizzas are stiff enough to handle easily.

You can actually wrap these pizzas without pre-freezing; I just find the tomato sauce is less messy, and the toppings stay in place better, after an hour or so in the freezer.

IMG_5160Once you can handle the pizzas easily, wrap each individually in plastic wrap; then bag them together in a large plastic bag, including a label with what kind of pizzas they are, and the date you froze them.

IMG_5167Stash in the freezer. They fit in nicely next to the store-bought pizzas I’ll be testing them against.

I’ve found that storing homemade frozen pizzas longer than a month results in their gradual decline; basically, they dry out, and when you bake them the crust is hard rather than crisp/crunchy.

Why doesn’t this happen to supermarket frozen pizzas? Because of all those added ingredients you saw on the package label, which help to preserve them for a year or more.

So, one strike against homemade frozen pizza: its shelf life isn’t as long. That’s the tradeoff you make for preservative-free pizza. But, considering the average American family eats pizza at home between once and twice a week, most of you probably won’t have a problem eating up your stash within a month.

Next, another popular frozen pizza:

IMG_5134Barbecued (a.k.a. BBQ) chicken. This is Newman’s Own version. Of all the frozen pizzas I checked, Newman’s had the “cleanest” label. Plus most of their crusts are multi-grain – another plus. Good company.

IMG_5151I’ll follow our Barbecued Chicken Pizza recipe for the topping, which will be enough for three crusts.

pizza9Darn, another crust that’s just slightly overbaked; it shouldn’t have any brown spots. Oh well, I’m going to use it anyway.

Barbecue sauce; cheese (yes, cheese second); then chicken and onions on top.

IMG_5164Midway through this project, I discovered Glad Press ’n Seal. It works SO much better than regular plastic wrap for this use, as it seals itself nice and tight when you press it around the pizza.

Into the freezer they went; then out one came, when my nephew-to-be, Jimmy, got home from school one day.

pizza11Jimmy is in college, living with us as he finishes out his senior year at Massachusetts Maritime Academy – where he’s currently class valedictorian (go, Jimmy!)

He comes home HUNGRY. And ready to test anything I put on the table.

I figure he’ll be a good judge for this opening salvo in The Great Frozen Pizza Smackdown.

IMG_5327Here’s Jimmy’s verdict:

“I like yours better. Newman’s Own, all you can taste is the barbecue sauce – everything tastes like barbecue. Yours, you can taste the barbecue, plus the chicken, the cheeses, everything.”

Homemade, 1 – supermarket, 0.

Next up, another popular flavor: four cheese.

pizza13DiGiorno’s four cheese pizza comes on a “rising crust” – a crust that actually puffs up as you bake the pizza. So, unlike my parbaked crust – which kills the yeast – I assume this “rising crust” is topped while partially risen (or not risen at all?), then quick-frozen to arrest the yeast. When it’s put into the hot oven, the yeast wakes up and starts working like mad.

IMG_5433And yes, the DiGiorno four cheese is a very nice pizza.

Jimmy: “DiGiorno’s has more flavor, with the herbs and stuff. Yours just tastes like cheese.”

He’s right; the DiGiorno not only has more sauce (“Bold NEW sauce, now with more herbs and spices!”); its cheese melts more evenly than mine. And its crust rises nicely in the oven, making it seem very close to fresh homemade, rather than frozen. Plus, the bottom of the crust is coated in cornmeal – which adds subtle, pleasing crunch.

The crust has a very slight chemical taste, though it’s not overwhelming, as it is in some frozen pizzas. And the cheese isn’t identifiable as any particular type, where mine tastes strongly of cheddar.

Still, because of the herbs, the oozing cheese, and the moist, “spongy” crust, I give this round to DiGiorno.

Homemade, 1 – supermarket, 1.

Now, for the rubber match, how about if we get back to that roasted vegetable pizza we started with?

pizza14Jimmy having taken off for the weekend, I shanghai my husband, Rick, into taste-testing – despite his claims of “I’m not a gourmet,” and “I’ve never met a pizza I didn’t love.”

The verdict?

“I like them both; they just taste different, but they’re both good.”

When pressed for details, Rick adds, “You can taste the vegetables more on yours, because they’re in much bigger chunks. See those little bits of pepper on the Celeste? You can’t really taste them as being peppers, because they’re too small and just blend into everything else.”

Despite my obvious bias (yes, I’m very competitive, even in pizza smackdowns), I have to give the nod to my own “roasted vegetable” pizza. Both pizzas have thin crusts; but the Celeste crust doesn’t have much flavor, and its texture is “meek;” whereas my homemade crust has some nice textural “snap” and crunch, as well as more flavor.

And as for the topping: what he said. I can taste the mushrooms, spinach, and pepper on my homemade pizza as individual, harmonious flavors; the Celeste pizza tastes OK, but not of any identifiable vegetable.

IMG_5462(1)Plus, the Celeste pizza has an odd pinkish cast. Not sure what’s up with that.

Final score: Homemade 2 – supermarket 1.

A close battle, but homemade wins our frozen pizza smackdown!

Especially when you consider a typical supermarket frozen pizza label (L-cysteine monohydrochloride, anyone?); and the fact that mixing together flour and and yeast and water, quick-frying fresh vegetables, and picking out your own favorite cheeses is a lot more satisfying than slinging a cardboard box into your grocery cart.

I hope you agree.

Disclaimer: Remember, in baking, there are often many ways to reach a common destination. Maybe you like to par-bake your crusts, then freeze without topping; or freeze your pizza dough without shaping, then thaw, shape, top, and bake. Or perhaps you bake your pizzas all the way prior to freezing, then simply thaw and reheat. Whatever works best for you is the way to go. There’s no right or wrong here; no baking police. Just optimum results, however you get there. And – the delicious experimenting can go on forever! The story continues –

*After I’d completed this blog post, I couldn’t resist trying my own “rising crust” pizza. Using the same dough from the Now or Later Pizza recipe, I shaped two 10″ round crusts.

I let them rise maybe halfway; their edges were getting puffy, though the center was still fairly flat.

IMG_4482After topping with sauce, cheese, and turkey pepperoni, I quickly stuck them in the freezer, to stop any further rising. Once they were fully frozen, I wrapped them securely.

Here comes the test –

pizza1Freschetta Naturally Rising Crust Signature Pepperoni Pizza (left) vs. my homemade pepperoni pizza.

Both were baked straight from the freezer.

Hey, how come my pepperoni curled up, and theirs lay flat?

pizza2That’s Freschetta on the top, mine on the bottom.

I had my taste-tester back for this round. Jimmy’s assessment?

“They both taste good, but I like yours better. Theirs is just too bready.” he said. “Plus theirs has more sauce, and I like less sauce. But I guess that’s just a matter of taste,” he concluded.

And, the scientist in him emerging, Jimmy also pointed out why my pepperoni had curled, and theirs hadn’t: “Their pepperoni is like twice as thick as yours.” We also conjectured it might have had something to do with the smaller amount of fat in my turkey pepperoni, compared to their pork pepperoni.

So – will this method also work with thin-crust pizzas – freeze the unbaked/topped crust, then bake the pizza straight from the freezer, no rising?

I don’t know why not. If you give it a try, let us all know how it goes.

Interested in more pizza experiments? Check out the two previous posts in this series: America’s Love Affair with Pizza: in the beginning… and America’s Love Affair with Pizza: Jeremiah, Wolfgang, and Alice.



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THIS Will Put A Little Sproing In Yer Step!

angelchrys shared this story from Cute Overload.

Um…yeah, because bebeh goats. And donkehs.

tumblr_n47uvcxaC21qbk3bno1_1280

tumblr_n4i2droxnM1r7yxrco1_1280
From the Baby Goats & Friends Tumblr.


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: donkehs, Goats


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Old Files

angelchrys shared this story from xkcd.com:
Yep

Wow, ANIMORPHS-NOVEL.RTF? Just gonna, uh, go through and delete that from all my archives real quick.

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incorrigible

angelchrys shared this story from Wordsmith.org: Today’s Word:
Facebook

Incapable of being corrected or reformed.

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The Mary Sue Interview: Kelly Sue DeConnick on Pretty Deadly and Captain Marvel Relaunch

angelchrys shared this story from The Mary Sue.

Kelly Sue DeConnick has risen into a fan favorite writer of comics. Her stories featuring Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel, taking up the mantle of Captain Marvel made the series a hit and inspired fans to form the Carol Corps. Her recent western fantasy series Pretty Deadly has completed a successful first story arc. Recently, DeConnick relaunched the Captain Marvel series with a new direction that makes Carol Danvers the Avenger who patrols outer space. At WonderCon 2014, Kelly Sue was kind enough to take the time to chat with us about all her fun projects.

The Mary Sue (Alan Kistler): Kelly Sue!

Kelly Sue DeConnick: Alan!

TMS: So you were rocking out with the previous Captain Marvel book so much that the Carol Corps sprung up in response. I can’t think of a fan group quite like this one forming so quickly and so widely. What’s it been like attending the Carol Corps gatherings that are now happening at conventions?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: It is amazing and I am tremendously grateful to have been present for it. I get emotional talking to these girls and women who say how much Captain Marvel means to them and that it’s inspired them. It’s very important to me that the Carol Corps not be identified strongly with me, though. Because as important as Carol Danvers is to me, I don’t own Carol and I will not be writing her forever. I would love it if the Carol Corps continued to exist outside of my personality. The friendships that I see forming from this group remind me so much of the friendships I formed on the Warren Ellis Forum. As much as it was about Ellis, it was also a community separate from him and those are my friends and colleagues today, fifteen years later. I hope that the Carol Corps surpasses my tenure on the book and that the friendships I see forming there surpass my own.

TMS: So with the fan following, why was there a need to relaunch the book? Was it a marketing idea? Was it to mark a new era for Carol and let new readers know they had a jumping on point?

DeConnick: It was an exterior motive at first. We hadn’t been part of the Marvel Now branding until issue #9 of the last Captain Marvel series, and you don’t get the same sales bump with that as you do when you’ve got it starting with #1. So Marvel gave us the opportunity for a bump by relaunching with a new series. And when that was happening, you want a story reason for why this is a new series. You have to justify what makes this a new #1 issue. What makes it a new beginning for Carol?

I was thinking aboutMercury 13 by Martha Ackmann, a well-written book about the women of the Mercury 13. There was this scene I kept fixating on, where she’s talking about Jerrie Cobb‘s home in Oklahoma and that it made sense she became a pilot later because everything in that part of the world was trying to take flight. She talks about this sign post on the side of the road that’s shaking with the wind like it wants to leave the Earth. And I thought about how that’s very much Carol. She’s eyes up, chin up, head up. Everything about her wants to leave the Earth. So let’s let her go and see what happens.

TMS: It also makes sense considering she inherited her powers and legacy from the first Captain Mar-Vell, a space hero and cosmic protector.

DeConnick: Yeah, and Carol’s been a real cosmic character before. So it’s really fun to tap into that idea but it’s scary too. I spent so much time grounding her in New York and giving her a supporting cast that lives there. So taking the chains off to see what happens is exciting and scary. It works because Carol’s trying to figure out her identity, she wants to drive that car and learn how fast it can go, even if that’s dangerous. She says it herself, “I want to find the edge of me.” So it’s okay that it’s scary. Any time I’m uncomfortable, I think, “Okay, this is probably where I should go.”

TMS: In issue #1 of the new series, months have passed since the last series and we find out that Carol and Rhodey are dating. How’d that come about? I never knew how much I wanted Captain Marvel and War Machine to be a couple until I saw that.

DeConnick: [laughs] Aw, you can tell who’s old school when they call him War Machine. I still do that sometimes too, even though he’s Iron Patriot now.

TMS: He’s always be a War Machine to me! Or Rhodey.

DeConnick: Totally. Yeah, them dating, I needed to really show that time had passed since the end of the first series. So she’s already in a relationship rather than starting one. I had tried to build a relationship with her in the last series with Frank Gianelli but there was no chemistry between them on the page. Putting her in a relationship with Rhodey made sense to me. I liked that there was a pilot connection and a competitiveness. There was a lot of a spark in that.

I also needed there to be a sacrifice. There’s no drama if she just decides to go into space, there had to be reasons she might not want to go and something she risks losing if she does go. And I like Rhodey’s choice too, that he says he doesn’t want her to go but he will not be the one to hold her down.

TMS: Carol isn’t in space long before she runs into the Guardians of the Galaxy. Will she be working alongside the team for long against multiple cosmic threats?

DeConnick: Oooh, that’s tough to answer without giving anything away.

TMS: Then perhaps we should get to the real question: will the cat and the raccoon throw down?

DeConnick: [laughs] You know, everyone thinks that the Rocket Raccoon not liking Carol’s cat is the set-up of a joke. It’s not a joke! It’s a plot point people!

TMS: Hey, I don’t doubt it! I trust Rocket’s instincts. If he says Chewie’s not really a cat, I think that needs looking into!

DeConnick: Rocket’s a smart guy! If you go back to Brian Reed’s run on Ms. Marvel, that cat just shows up one day. We didn’t see Carol adopt Chewie or anything. It just appears around the time that she’s fighting an inter-dimensional villain. I’m just saying!

TMS: On a more serious note, when you first started the previous Captain Marvel book, you didn’t look farther ahead than about six issues or so because you didn’t think the title would last. Now that you’ve relaunched with a notable fanbase supporting you from the start, has that changed your long-term thinking?

DeConnick: Oh, yeah! I’ve planned out the whole first year of Captain Marvel. It’s weird, I don’t generally think that far in advance because I’m not that optimistic.

TMS: The formation of the Carol Corps fans must have really changed your mind about the book’s readership. That seems to have happened again with Pretty Deadly. I saw an interview where you joked that maybe six people would be reading that book, but it’s become a fan fave of its own sort. I see Pretty Deadly cosplayers walking around this convention and we’ve got a second story arc on the way. Does defying your own doubts help fuel you in your writing?

DeConnick: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I think I’m a pretty smart person but I guess I’m just not a good psychic! [laughs] I mean, Emma Rios [the artist] and I are mid-list creators at best. And that is a fact! Look at the list and where we fall on it, that is where our sales numbers are. Two female, mid-list creators on a western, which has traditionally not sold well. Plus an independent western, so it’s not even like Jonah Hex, and it’s weird and it’s about supernatural forces of life and death. Yes, Emma’s artwork is extraordinarily beautiful. But there was nothing in the math that said that this book would do sixty out of the gate. So I don’t think there was anything wrong with my logic really [laughs], but I was wrong anyway with my sooth-saying. And thank god!

TMS: The first arc has ended and now the book is on hold before the next story in the saga. Will there be a break after each arc?

DeConnick: There’s going to be breaks between arcs and I hope we don’t lose too much momentum, but I think it’s necessary. One, this is an intricately plotted book and it takes a while to figure it out. Two, this is not a thirty day book. If you look at the pages, you can see that twenty-four pages of that beautiful art cannot be rushed and put together in thirty days. So it’s good to take time to get ahead with the work again and I think the breaks are necessary to maintain the quality. And also I think there are things I could’ve done better in the first arc. I think it reads better in trade than as separate issues and I don’t want that to be true of the second arc. So during the break I’ll figure out how I can do better. That’s always the goal, isn’t it?

TMS: Right, I hear you. Without spoiling the first arc for our readers, it implied the second story would focus on Death’s daughter Ginny. Are we going to see a more human side to her or will she still be this instrument of death and otherworldly forces?

DeConnick: Ginny’s a force of nature. You’ll see a lot more of her this time, but she’s sort of the Man With No Name. She’s not warm and cuddly. It’s not like we’re going to get real close to her. But we’ll spend a lot more time with her and what her life’s about.

TMS: You’ve also got Bitch Planet coming up.

DeConnick: Yessss! Indeed!

TMS: It’s a planet prison for women and things go nuts. Are there any prison movies or stories that you’re taking inspiration from?

DeConnick: Caged Heat! I’m actually only half-kidding. Yeah, there’s a ton of women in prison movies that goes into the DNA of this book but also this is about me venting my spleen. It’s about a lot of things and stories that make me angry I’ll be making fun of them in a way that’s mean and belittling.

TMS: So this is the comic where you smash the fourth wall a bit.

DeConnick: Yeah and it’s an ugly book. I think. But I am very excited about it. It’s going to be fun.

Alan Sizzler Kistler (@SizzlerKistler) is an actor and freelance writer. He is the author of Doctor Who: A History.He wants you all to go out and grab Pretty Deadly and Captain Marvel. Do it now.

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Public Signal: Our Kids Matter

angelchrys shared this story from For Harriet | Celebrating the Fullness of Black Womanhood.

 photo black-kids-face-harsher-treatment-in-school-discipline.jpg
by Alexis Hancock

Dear Community,

Tuesday (4/22/2014) night in the Bronx around 11:00PM, I witnessed three young boys of color (13 tops) playing with each other and running down the street. They were sword fighting with two pipes and doing what unsupervised kids do at that time of night.

I hear a pipe drop down the block (perpendicular to my street), and they run back on my street. I hear a voice of a man say “GET BACK DOWN HERE”.




They wait to see if he goes away, and he runs back up on to my street. A large, athletic, white male (21-23 maybe) stands there to confront them:

He yells:

“LITTLE NIGGERS!”.

The kids stay to confront him, obviously knowing he said that to provoke any action from them. I tell them to run and get out to safety. One small black boy in the group confronts him, smiling and defiant. The white man runs after him down the black-top park, yelling “LITTLE NIGGERS” more times I can count. All three get away. Huffing and puffing the man passes where I stand and I confront him about his liberal use of the word nigger.

He tries to justify it by saying the kids threw a pipe at him. I tell him they are kids and he thought they were niggers before that night anyway. He yells at me to “GET YOUR LITTLE NIGGERS”. He also told me a few times “they are going to grow up to be criminals anyway”.

He walks back up the street to his three white friends who were waiting silently (All Fordham University Students, I live by the institution in the Bronx, NY). They all depart after he rushes them on to leave my block. I yell at him to never come around here again to chase kids.

I want this to be known. He knew if he beat that child senseless he could possibly get away with it. This kid was a fourth of his size. These kids posed no real deadly threat. He wanted to and incited a fight with them. He justified his actions and his words with a determined fate for children he never met. Those kids could have been doing volunteer work and never got into trouble. He just wanted any reason to beat a black child up and he found one that night.

I want to send the public signal to everyone that this was deemed okay in his eyes. I can’t help but to think of all the Trayvon Martins and Renisha McBrides in our news and I wonder if the lack of care around their lives in from the justice system helped people like that racist think it was okay to attack our children openly and publicly. He was a college student and attends a university that prides itself on breeding educators. People like him go back out into the world with the mindset that it is okay to have this bias while interacting with people of color. If he had that sort of disregard with children of color, imagine how he feels about an adult. Our kids matter and I want everyone to know that. I will be continuing to create awareness around this in my community and won’t stop until I return the public signal back:  “This is not okay with us. You are being watched. We love our kids. You will be held accountable for your actions.”


Alexis Hancock blogs here.


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IFTTT is Now Available on Android

angelchrys shared this story from Droid Life.

IFTTT is Now Available on Android

IFTTT – “if this, then that” – is now available on Android. The incredibly popular automate-your-life service has been an internet favorite for some time, especially for those who want things to just happen depending on certain circumstances. Think of it a bit like Tasker, only even more broad with tie-ins to popular internet services. Could I have been more vague there? Probably not. Let me try to explain this.

IFTTT works like this. You decide ifthis happens, then you wantthat to happen as a result. For example, if you leave work, you could have your phone text your wife. I know, that’s nothing new, but it gets better. If you showed up to the Whitehouse, you could have your phone automatically Tweet at Barack Obama. If the weather calls for rain tomorrow, you could have a notification sent to your phone. If you receive a Gmail message with an attachment, you could automatically send that attachment to Dropbox. If you post a picture to Instagram, you could have it automatically set as your phone’s wallpaper.

Starting to make sense?

Those examples I just described are called “Recipes.” Recipes are built from Triggers and Actions. Triggers are the “if this” “this” part, while Actions are the “do that” “that” part. There are also Channels, which are the building blocks for Recipes.

It’s pretty awesome. You should definitely check this out, along with the IFTTT site to get inspiration or find pre-built Recipes. Because, yes, there are tons and tons of Recipes already available that may be perfect for you and will require that you not even lift life a finger. OK, maybe one finger just to activate it.

Got any good Recipes to share?

Play Link

IFTTT is Now Available on Android is a post from: Droid Life



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The Blunder Games

angelchrys shared this story from A Skewed Perspective.

Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about the usual – politics, religion, sex, music from our childhood and adolescence. Pretty normal stuff. Somehow the topic came around to a silly video going around the internet of a llama hopping around to a DMX tune. Pretty funny stuff.

Inspired by that and also by the aborted (and likely always fraudulent) DMX vs George Zimmerman proposed boxing match, I have come up with a suggestion for what to do with the absolute worst celebrities. You know, the truly awful, obnoxious ones, who should be in jail, or rehab, or both, rather than assaulting the senses of good taste and reason with their continued presence in the cultural zeitgeist. An aside… Just yesterday I found myself making fun of people who drop the word “zeitgeist” into their writing… and yet I couldn’t resist here. See what blogging has done to me?

Anyway…

Maybe what we should do is take all the worst celebrities and put them in a Hunger Games/Battle Royale-style free-for-all war game. Let’s put ‘em in a giant dome with limited supplies and a simple directive – the winner survives. Of course, it’s almost inevitable that the winner would end up with their own reality show. Perhaps the real punishment would be forbidding any and all cameras, reporters, or Twitter access during their melee. That’s right, they have to kill each other – without any public attention! Perhaps 90% of professional famous people just shut down and go into sleep mode when there are no cameras around. This creates the philosophical quandary – if a celebrity can’t be noticed, do they function?

Here’s the thing – obnoxiousness is subjective. What I really mean are people who are downright dangerous to civilized society. People included in this can’t just have SAID dumb things, they have to have actually pulled a DMX and DONE something dumb (You know about his impersonation of a law enforcement officer, right? Hilarious). This hopefully removes most subjectivity and accusations of political and religious bias.

It also means conservatives are stuck with Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell still hanging around, and liberals are stuck with Kirk Cameron and Sean Hannity. That’s a small price to pay for having people like DMX fight for their lives in a dystopian future full of booby traps, robots, and a deadly Jennifer Lawrence. Not to say she deserves this treatment, but I would be happy to see her perched in a tree, picking these people off with her arrows.

…and Jennifer will get her scalps.

I would suggest limiting the roster to people who were already celebrities before their crimes, or who would become celebrities in spite of their crimes. People like George Zimmerman, who became famous as a result of their crimes don’t deserve any more attention and would do well to disappear from the public eye forever.
People like Winona Ryder, who was caught shoplifting, are not positive role models to emulate. However, these are individuals who really did little lasting harm to others and are just sad more than anything else.

Great news, Winona, you get to steal yet another day! Maybe the current wave of 90’s nostalgia would sweep you back into relevance!

Drug and prostitution stuff? Scott Weiland, Lindsay Lohan, Hugh Grant, Eddie Murphy… I’m inclined to give them a pass. It’s hard to judge a lot of that stuff, as there are solid arguments to be made toward decriminalization of drugs and prostitution. Lots of philandering politicians are off the hook, as well. Whew! It’s your lucky day, Larry Craig and Anthony Weiner!

Wesley Snipes is in kind of a grey area. I’m more inclined to be angry toward violent offenders, or sex offenders. Tax evasion isn’t quite in the same boat. On the other hand, he owed literally millions of dollars to the Federal government, which means, indirectly, the American people. And his excuse…? Generic tax protester theories. He first tried the “861” argument, which claims the tax code itself invalidates personal income tax on American citizens. Well, that didn’t work. Okay, what did he try next? He then claimed he wasn’t a citizen, and was a non-resident alien. Yeah… so you’re a citizen when it keeps you from taxes, and not a citizen when it keeps you from taxes. No matter. Wesley was born in Orlando to American-born parents. Nice try. Still, I’m inclined to be lenient… wait, he made Blade II. And then, Blade Trinity. Sorry, Wesley. Throw him in the battle.

Rapper C-Murder beat a 16 year old to death. Wow, a guy calling himself “C-Murder” killed someone. So, it’s not just a clever name. Yup, he’s in the Blunder Games, too.

Don King is approximately 163 now, and hasn’t done anything noteworthy in boxing for more than a decade. It seems wrong to put him in here. Yet, he did murder two people. Shot one man in the back, and stomped another to death. And he foisted John Ruiz on the boxing world. Throw him in!

Phil Spector… I don’t care about the murder… look at that hair! And that weird face! He’s going in.

Jimmy Page kidnapped a 14 year old girl and basically held her hostage for years.

Vince Neil killed someone while drunk driving.

Matthew Broderick killed someone while behind the wheel, as well. And he made Inspector Gadget.

Sean Penn doesn’t get in here because he shoots his mouth off… that was already established as not enough reason. He’s in because he broke into Madonna’s house, tied her to a chair, and beat her for hours on end. He then left for some more booze, because apparently his permanent blood alcohol level of .666 wasn’t enough, and then came back to beat her up some more. Have fun dodging Jennifer’s arrows, Sean!

Speaking of Madonna, I once watched Body of Evidence. Fortunately, I feel asleep halfway through, so the trauma and mental anguish was reduced. She gets a pass… wait, wait… Kabballah… the Sex book? Well, maybe this will give her a shot at some Penn revenge. Good luck!

I love Sean Connery. I do. Underrated actor, the best James Bond (though Daniel Craig is close), and owner of the coolest voice EVER. And yet… there was his 1965 Playboy interview, in which he advocated domestic violence as a way to keep those pesky women from getting too mouthy. Okay, that was the ‘60’s… maybe he moderated his opinion a bit as he grew older and wiser. Flash forward to 1987, and an interview with Barbara Walters where he … said he stood by all of it. Jeez. Sorry, Sean, but perhapsh you will shurvive thish battle, if you’re lucky.

Meatloaf yelled at Gary Busey for stealing his art and craft supplies on an episode of Celebrity Apprentice. He didn’t just yell, he screamed, and threatened, and threw a violent tantrum. In general, he acted like a huge piece of crap. Being a jerk isn’t normally enough to join this illustrious roster. However, I don’t care what else he did, but if he’s stuck working with the likes of Gary Busey, and Donald Trump, and the only thing he can get mad about is misplaced paint? Meatloaf turns out to be the jerk in that group? Hey, Meatloaf, would you do anything for survival?

Dr Dre beat up a woman for having the gall to interview Ice Cube. He had his bodyguard hold off a crowd so he could beat her at a party, uninterrupted.

Not only did Tim Allen get caught trying to smuggle 1.4 pounds of coke through an airport, but he then snitched on every drug dealer he had ever met, getting his sentence reduced from life to an eventual 28 months. And he did Home Improvement. And the Santa Clause. And Christmas With the Kranks…

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison was connected with the shooting of a drug dealer in Philadelphia in 2008. He was able to avoid prosecution, though most accounts make it appear likely that Harrison pulled the trigger. But he’s really good at catching a ball, so all is forgiven, right? Sorry, tell that to Katniss as she’s sniping you from a tree. Hope you brought your pads and helmet, Marvin.

Fred Durst gets the call, because of pretty much everything he has ever publicly done. And likely for things he has privately done as well. Chad Kroeger and Scott Stapp aren’t safe, either.

Roman Polanski. Read his Wikipedia page for further detail, if you must know. He’s certainly worthy of this group.

The best part about a list like this – We’re barely scratching the surface! There are dozens more horrible celebrities who could be battling it out with each other in a huge biodome. Hmmm… Biodome? Should I have included Pauly Shore? Ehhhh… let’s save him for a future round.

The possibilities are endless.




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It Continues to Be a Real Mystery Why Republicans Aren’t Connecting with a Majority of Female Voters

angelchrys shared this story from Shakesville.

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Blah blah republicans blah blah women blah blah misogyny blah blah fart:
"Men, by and large, make more because of some of the things they do," [New Hampshire] state Rep. Will Infantine (R) said during a speech on a paycheck fairness bill. "Their jobs are, by and large, riskier. They don’t mind working nights and weekends. They don’t mind working overtime or outdoors."

Infantine’s colleagues protested almost immediately, to which he responded that he pulled all of his information from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

"This is not me," he said before continuing to explain why women make less.

"Men work on average more than six hours a week longer than women do," he said, adding that even among business owners, women earn less. "Women make half of what men do because of flexibility of work, men are more motivated by money than women are."

At the end of his speech, Infantine defended himself one last time.

"Guys, I’m not making this stuff up," he said. "My apologies if I have some people upset."
Provided Infantine’s stats are actually accurate, and I’ve no idea whether they are, it’s specious to suggest that women (all of us! the whole monolith!) object to working nights and weekends, as opposed to not being able to, either because we’re not given the opportunities or because we are primary child- or eldercare providers or a number of other reasons.

Many men are able to work more hours than women because they have wives or mothers or girlfriends who are providing the childcare and housekeeping and food preparation (for many more than six hours a week), whereas a majority of working women don’t have a partner or family member who does as much or more family and home maintenance as they do.

The same is true whether women are employees, self-employed, or business owners.

That ain’t about being “motivated by money.” It’s about necessity.

Which is not to erase the number of women who are, for whatever reason, not keen to work as much as they could possibly work and have other priorities. Those women certainly exist. But their choices to opt-out of MAXIMUM WORKITUDE do not account for the pay gap.

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How to Make a Joke About Celebrity Gossip

angelchrys shared this story from Basic Instructions.

If you’re free Friday, April 25th (Which, depending on when you see this, might be today), I’ll be participating in an event called “Ask Scott Meyer” (It’s a good thing I was available.) on Twitter. It’s hosted by GoComics, and starts at 1:30 PM Central time. #AskScottMeyer.

You can still enter for your final chance to win a signed copy of the new edition of Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0). In addition to that book, the prize package will also include the Basic Instructions 2014 Box Calendar, and a signed copy of a book by a different author. This week, the bonus book is The Cancer of my Convictions, by Chris Lundgren. It reminded me of Generation of Swine by Hunter S. Thompson.

You can enter below by friending Off to Be the Wizardon Facebook, following me on Twitter, or by answering a simple question (see widget below for all three options.)

Sadly, the offer is only open to people in the United States. Shipping costs, what can I say? The contest closes on, April 25th at 12am. Thanks, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, thanks for using my Amazon Affiliate links (USUKCanada).



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