Archive for March, 2010

Viewing Pleasures

Posted in Cinema Reviews with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Verge

I’ve added a new Category of Links to my blog today.  It’s called, as you may have been able to surmise, “Viewing Pleasures.”

Here I will add links to movies that I find interesting.   Of course, Monika and I like to watch movies, and especially as a result of us not having cable in our house.  But, these links won’t necessarily be movies that are great cinema or simple fun to watch.  More so, they will be links to documentaries that, at the very least, have made me think.   In addition, there is a “Type of Verge” called Cinema reviews, which are just some thoughts on movies I’ve watched.  If they’re good enough, they get a link in Viewing Pleasures.  If not, screw ’em.

I won’t say that everything I will list here I automatically have swallowed whole and taken as a definitive viewpoint.  I will say that most of them must have at least struck a chord that is in some significant harmony with my current views.  They may have bolstered my opinions.  I list them only for your consideration, not as prognostication.

I will also add that the links are to the direct websites that often times will allow you to watch the films in full.  However, Netflix also often offers them as streaming movies, and YouTube often has them broken into parts for your not so conveniently packaged but still completely free viewing pleasure.

Tonight, I briefly introduce my first three recommendations:

The first links to a movie called “Fast Food Nation” based on a book by the same name by Eric Schlosser.  It is the only movie I’ve listed tonight that is a work of fiction, based on the factual evidence in the book.  Directed by Richard Linklater, it takes a look at how our current fast food culture values the bottom line far more than animal ethics  and worker safety.  Instead of generically describing the machination of the fast food industry, it instead tries to strike a more moving note by assigning actual characters as embodiments of the roles all sides of the industry can take on.  One of his more indie style films, it walks a delicate line between the raw truth and an uncomfortable humor, thus making it a bit more palatable for the skeptical, pessimistic, meat-consuming viewer.

The second is a documentary called “Food, Inc.”  I just finished watching this one and haven’t fully digested what I think about it.  In general, it takes a look at the way our agricultural life has morphed from a once pastoral lifestyle to an ugly, manipulative, big-business monopoly.  It focuses on some of the hottest topics in the current food debate including corn, factory farming, pesticides, mass-production, label manipulation, genetic engineering, the FDA and government oversight, and of course, fast food.  Because it does not push an overwhelming vegetarian lifestyle, but merely tries to show the direction of food delivery in a modern culture of “cheaper, faster and instantly gratifying,” I think it gives a more neutral portrayal than PETA could ever give.

The final selection is “King Corn.”  This entire movie takes the singular subject of the corn industry in modern American agriculture.  It documents how government subsidies dictate the cost of food that farmers produce, and therefore, what ingredients are included in the food we consume, regardless of nutritional value or consumer desires.  It also documents an interesting experiment that the filmmakers stretch through the duration of the film:   what is it like to be a modern corn farmer?  As diabetes takes our youngest generation of Americans by the throat even before they’ve ever had a chance to make a different decision, I would highly recommend this film for anyone who want to know how the hell we got ourselves into the deplorable debacle of obesity in this country.

You can always find my recommended movies in my Links, currently on the right near the bottom.  ENJOY!



Posted in Reflections with tags , , on March 25, 2010 by Verge

This morning I attended an incredibly sad funeral for the wife of a pretty close friend of mine.  It wasn’t an unexpected death, as she had been battling cancer for the last four years.  She had the opportunity to settle things in her life and with her family and friends.  She had the chance to say goodbye to her husband and 9 year old daughter before she fell into her unending sleep, a chance many who leave us never get.

Today was her funeral and now, slowly but surely, the recovery can begin.  Maybe not tonight, or next week, but sometime soon, everyone will finally take another breath, choke back their last tears for now, and begin to remember the good memories before the difficult times arrived.

I’m not very good with funerals and that’s no surprise to my family.  A eulogy is something of a complete emotional gushing, a necessary and very public way of saying good bye.  Today’s handful of eulogies certainly had almost all of the 300 people at the service on the verge of tears.  Who could blame nearly all of us for finally breaking when a 9 year old daughter without her mommy took the podium last.  Standing on an impromptu riser so she could reach the microphone, with a smile, she managed to say “I know my mommy loved me because she told me so in a letter she wrote to me before she died” before breaking into sudden, overwhelming tears.

The room thick with empathy, her father completed her thoughts for her with incredible fortitude.

Best St Patty’s Day Drink Ever

Posted in Good Times on March 17, 2010 by Verge

okay, I know what you’re supposed to drink on Saint Patrick’s Day…Guinness, Jameson, car-bombs.  But, honestly, we drink all those things year round.  This St Patty’s, in celebration of Monika landing a full-rime job, and for something green to drink, I got us something special.

Perhaps in the future, I’ll blog exclusively about Absinthe, but for now, for tonight, I suggest we spare the history and simply imbibe.

The classic Hemingway Cocktail is two ingredients, Absinthe and Champagne.  It was apparently one of his favorites, but, there’s very few cocktails you can’t find that weren’t either Hemingway’s or Faulkner’s favorite libation.

Absinthe is some pretty bitter stuff, and damn strong, so you’ll need some advice making this cocktail.  First, a cube of sugar, caramelized, will sweeten the bitterness.  The way to do this is with an absinthe spoon, or some sort of very small colander.  Pour a shot of absinthe over a sugar cube place on the slotted spoon and into the glass.

Next, you light the sugar cube on fire.  This melts the sugar, caramelizing it, and making it easier to dissolve in the absinthe.  Be careful, though.  Absinthe is high proof.  The Pernod we were using is a lofty 136 proof, and therefore, extremely flammable.  If the sugar starts to drip, while still on fire, it will ignite you glass of absinthe.  It’s not dangerous, but it will not only heat up your glass (actually, we used crystal, but all the same), but will also burn off the precious alcohol in your cocktail.  While inhaling the vaporized alcohol can be fun, I suggest you quickly life the spoon and gently blow out the ignited cocktail should this unfortunate incident occur.

Once the flame goes out, use the spoon to stir in the sugar.  The rest is easy.  Top off your martini glass with some decent Champagne.  We used a dry Korbel, not too expensive and not too candy sweet.  It’s green, delicious, filled with a ton of demon spirit, and delicious.


Ryan Michael & Monica “Erin” O’Walsh

Carbon Dioxide

Posted in Creative Writing with tags on March 15, 2010 by Verge

These plants have grown on your quiet exhales

And though they’ve starved of you for quite a year now,

They, as I, can still taste your sweet breath on their lips.


Posted in Creative Writing with tags , , on March 15, 2010 by Verge

the memories of your life

are drawn with lines in sand

as time pushes you towards

something you cannot predict

the breeze of distance makes them not so distinct

not so,        unique

they begin to fade, become almost

unrecognizable as your own

and at least once or twice

a wave washes everything a way

Eco Android’s Blog

Posted in New Links with tags on March 12, 2010 by Verge

So, tonight I add a new link.

This is Monika’s official blog.  Her first blog was originally written for a grad school assignment and was named  From that seed, my original blog,, was grown.

Having taken the definitive shape of my own voice alone, I decided to change the name of my own blog to  Monika, still having her own voice and desire to have it heard, has once again plunged into the pool of public scrutiny and emotional transparency.

She has been getting a very positive response, and I truly hope she keeps up with it.  Visit her blog which his located under my Blogroll.  Also, peruse the other blogs listed there.  I’ve added them because they are worth the visit and I hope you’ll find them as entertaining as my own.


The Prepared Pantry

Posted in Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , , on March 10, 2010 by Verge

I’ve decided that, from now going forward, whenever I decide to add a link to my blog, I will explain why.  I guess it looks like I’m a bit indiscriminate by the sheer number of links I have on my blog already.  However, that is not the case and I hope to retroactively give a short post about every single link I have hand chosen on this page.

Tonight I’m adding “Prepared Pantry.”  You can find it under the heading “Fair Fare” on the right with all my other links.  I discovered this company because of my mom.  When Monika and I moved into our house 3 years ago, we found a free bread maker machine on freecycle (the subject of another post sometime soon).

My mom bought us a four pack of their pre-mixed bread mixes for Christmas from this company.  All you have to do is add some oil, water, and everything else is in the mix, including the yeast.  That means it’s vegan because you don’t have to add any eggs or milk, although you can substitute soy milk for some of the water if you’d like.

Our bread maker really is awesome.  Sure, we’ve made our own breads from scratch, and that is rewarding enough.  But, instead of buying loaves of hearty bread in our supermarket, we can very easily make homemade bread every week  or two.  It’s just as delicious, if not more, and super fresh.  In our bread maker, you dump in the ingredients, set it for whole wheat and “light” and four hours later, it’s done.  Clean up is ridiculously simple…practically non-existent.

That’s the only products so far that we’ve tried from Prepared Pantry, but at around 4 bucks a loaf for delicious, home-made bread, I think it’s a steal.  We recently stocked up on 16 loaves:  Fruit and Nut Collection, Rye Lover’s Collection, Heritage Collection and Heartland Collection.  You can find their collections here…

I encourage you to check out their products.  Of course, you don’t have to get a bread maker mix.   You can always get a good old fashioned bread mix and bake it in the oven, too.

Eating Dolphins & Poll # 2 — What Would You Eat??

Posted in Polls, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , , on March 9, 2010 by Verge

The other night, in case you were unaware, was the Academy Awards.  That’s just another pat-ourselves-on-the-back, Hollywood bullshit fest in general, but it does give us some insight.  The award winners in each category are not based on statistics, but rather the Academy members’ collective opinions.  While the film that makes the most money doesn’t get an award, sometimes a ground-breaking movie with relatively little known actors, that didn’t make a ton of money, gets an award.

Yeah, they love to glorify each other, but once in a while, they have some class, too.  But what’s more is that because the votes are a result of Academy members’ opinions, and Academy members are most certainly a part of pop culture (every one of them, to some degree), it would be fair to say that the Academy Awards are a pretty decent reflection of current popular opinion in Hollywood, if not the entire country.

This past weekend a movie called “The Cove” won a statue for Best Feature Documentary.  The subject of this film is basically the fishing practices of the indigenous people of Taiji, Wakayama,  Japan.   They practice a fishing technique called dolphin drive hunting in which bottle nose dolphins are cornered into an inescapable inlet and then attacked with spears and knives, dragged ashore, and killed for meat and lard.

While I think it is fairly obvious that I don’t approve of these practices, it raises several intriguing questions.  There are so many lines to be drawn between what is and what is not acceptable in these practices, but I’m focusing on just one.  What is it that Westerners, and really, most of the world, find despicable in killing and eating dolphins?

Rightly so, the leaders of this community either refuse to comment on the recent publicity and controversy surrounding their culture or they shoot right back.  While they kill dolphins with their bare hands and hunting skills, America raises, tortures, slaughters and gets fat (financially and physically) on a lifetime of animal abuse for the convenience of a dollar double cheese burger.

It has been their culture for 400 years to corner the local dolphins, kill them and eat them.  Never mind that it is gruesome.  Now that this movie has gotten an Academy Award, many will watch and shun the Japanese culture and their mistreatment of innocent animals.  There are many documented accounts of a much higher degree of disgusting treatment withing our own borders, but those movies don’t win awards.  I don’t wonder why.

So, is it that dolphins are smart??  That they look  kind of cute?  Pigs are just as smart as dolphins.  They have been know to use tools, to be easily trained, and are estimated to have the intelligence of a 3 year old human child.  But shit… this country love bacon.

Some things on the farm get to live, and some get to be dinner.  The cow, chicken, and pig…they’re dinner.  But for some reason, the horse, mule, donkey, dog and barn cats get to live.  Why??  Okay, maybe the cats don’t offer that much meat.   Maybe the horse is just too damn muscular to be tender.  But why don’t we force feed the cats corn for three months, fill them with steroids and fatten them up for a snack?  Why don’t we cage young horses in dark rooms and starve them so their muscles don’t have the opportunity to develop, and make them delicious?

So, I present to you the “What Would You Eat” Poll.  I’m not talking about what extent you would be willing to go in a catastrophe.  I’m not talking about what you would be willing to eat on a dare, or for money, or in a foreign country while visiting.  I’m asking what you would eat if it was considered normal, everyday food in America.  Is what we eat really a direct result of what is culturally acceptable??  Do we only find flavor in things we don’t consider pets??  It’s a truly anonymous poll, so answer truthfully and marvel at the results.  The answers are randomly ordered and you can check as many as you like, or add your own.

Poll # 1 — Cover Song

Posted in Polls with tags , , on March 3, 2010 by Verge
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