July 13, 2004

Objectively pro-delicious

Crooked Timber's Ted Barlow would rather cook lamb than argue with Glenn "Isntapundit" Reynolds' latest bit of bollocks. Can't say I blame him myself. MMM lamb.

He says that Michael Moore (who is responsible for writing and directing left-wing films of questionable accuracy) is the American version of the Iraqi rebel cleric al-Sadr (who is responsible for killing our soldiers and running a repressive fundamentalist regime in Fallujah). Etc., etc.

I could argue with this nonsense. But wouldn’t all of our time be better spent sharing a genuinely delicious recipe for braised lamb shanks in red wine? I think so.

The recipe is impossible to screw up and requires little attention. I usually make it for just two people, which means that I only cook two lamb shanks with the same quantities of vegetables and liquids. Since the skillet easily holds two lamb shanks, this is a one-dish meal for two people.

Lightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

6 lamb shanks (3/4 to 1 pound each), trimmed of excess fat
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, sliced thick...

Posted by rocr at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2004

A farewell to chickens

Jean-Pierre the roosterWhat a handsome fellow!
This fellow may have been the model for the character of Jean-Pierre

I recently found out what had become of the chickens that used to have the habit, during the summer, of coming into my backyard at 6 AM to wake me up and steal my berries. Their owners, who live in a squat nearby, are preventing new chicks from being hatched so the flock is dying off naturally, and I'm afraid it's happening rather fast (at least I don't think the squatters kill and eat the adult chickens. There are always some people in a squat who object to that sort of thing).

Right now there are only two roosters and three hens left. I'll be sorry to see them go. I'd got rather fond of them (except at 6 AM).
On the plus side though, more berries for me, even though the growing conditions this year have been abysmal.

Posted by rocr at 06:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 10, 2004

Mini Me


Found this little fellow in a gift shop on a tour to Sterling. Sadly, he wasn't for sale.


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July 03, 2004

Barbara's beer

Today, I finally got a taste of Barbara Stok's Chocolate Beer. I'd heard conflicting reports about it, but because I didn't go to the Stripdagen in Haarlem, for which this beer was brewed, I hadn't had the opportunity to taste it yet. But Barbara recently received over a 100 bottles from the brewer, so she invited Jeroen and me to try it out.
Strangely, I share part of the credit, or blame, for this limited edition beer being on the market. Six or seven years ago, I found some bottles of an English Chocolate Ale at a liquor store in Groningen, and bought some. I mentioned this to Barbara on the phone and invited her over to give it a try. It turned out that this product, whose name I've long forgotten, was a pretty good brown ale with a strong aroma of chocolate and a solid brown ale taste. It was also pretty filling if I remember correctly. Not bad at all, but it was an expensive import and I never found any more of it anyway.
When brewer Jopen approached Barbara about marketing a theme beer for the biannual Stripdagen convention/festival, she thought of our chocolate ale experience and suggested a chocolate beer. The brewer ran with this idea and came up with a white chocolate-flavored Weissenbier - very different from the stuff we drank but promising nonetheless. It's a change from previous two editions (out of three), which were heavy beers tailor-made for hard-drinking cartoonists. This one is only 5% vol., sweet, with lemon more present in the flavour than chocolate.
The bottled version, coming in 3/4 liter containers with a champagne cork, is very different in taste and appearance from the same beer as served on tap at the festival, as a result of it still fermenting in the bottle. And boy, has this stuff fermented! There's a biochemistry Nobel to be won from researching this beer. Opening the bottle resulted in a spray of froth. Pouring it caused the first glass to be filled with nothing but foam. The next two (small) glasses from the bottle developed a large, solid head that looked a bit like baking dough rising, with an endless flow of CO2 bubbles rising from the bottom, visible through the clear liquid.

The final third of the bottle on the other hand was much more opaque and quieter, but with no visible dregs. This suggested that, even though it obviously wasn't safe to shake the bottle, the beer should have been shaken before pouring to homogenise it! The bottom of the bottle smelled and tasted much stronger too. There's a Physics Nobel waiting for the person to resolve this dilemma.

As Weissenbiers go, Barbara's Stripbier is pretty good. Maybe a bit too sweet for my taste (like the only American Weissenbier I've ever tasted, Celis from Austin, Texas), but nice, nonetheless. I liked the extra fizz in it - if soft drinks manufacturers made their products as sparkly as that, I'd drink a lot more soft drinks. And the bottle itself, of course, is a must-have for fans of Barbara's comics.

I'm going to experiment with putting some of this in pancakes. Should be fun, and maybe explosive.

Note: The site linked to above is in Dutch so international readers may miss out on the fact that the thumbnail on the right of that page links to a larger picture of the label.

Posted by rocr at 11:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2004


If I had a cat, I'd be doing this myself: posting pictures of my cat just to fill in some time. But instead I'll make do with cat pictures from The Religious Policeman who treats his readers to an overdose of adorable cuteness to tide them over during his vacation, but also manages to pack in a lot of information about the place cats and dogs occupy in Saudi life, and gets a chilling point across with one of his captions:

By the way, I cannot be traced from these cats. They are long gone.

By the way: while I agree with the point made about camels and think it applies to camel drawings as well, this should not be seen as an excuse for writers to work camels into comic scripts. So be warned, Geir Strøm.

Work went well today. I may soon have time to jump on the "commenting on Michael Moore" bandwagon. Yes, I know it's on the opposite end of the cuteness spectrum from baby kittens, but brash ping-ponging between aesthetic experiences is a big part of what ROCR is about.

Posted by rocr at 06:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

Campaign against joke Haiku

Continuing in "Heh, interesting", quick-link-and-blockquote mode until I'm feeling my cantankerous, nuance-free self again...

In a post from 2003, the wonderful Dsquared writes:

In English, the answer to the question "can you compose a haiku?" is basically the answer to the question "can you count?"....

And yet there are still people in the world who believe themselves to be showing off their intelligence and even, ye Gods, sensitivity, by attempting to "compose" haiku extempore. I've seen it happen in real life as well as on the internet (obviously)and in Simpsons episodes about precocious kids. It's horrendous. The fact is that, unless you have decided to adopt some restriction of English metre or rhyme, the haiku is free verse, end of story. The intellectual effort needed to fit the seventeen syllables is equivalent to solving crossword puzzles in one dimension. It's much less intellectually challenging a form than the limerick, for example; damn few people can write a good one of those.

How the hell did the haiku get so popular? I can only blame English teachers. Nobody, apart from a few freaks, Orientalists and other statistical anomalies, would have bothered with trying to import this form into English otherwise. Obviously, as with so many abstruse and foreign forms, Ezra Pound has to cop some of the blame for introducing the English speaking world to the bloody thing in the first place, but I find it rather difficult to believe that a single one of these 456 people has ever heard of him...


If you're thinking of writing a haiku, don't do it.

His commenters then take the opportunity to torment him more, and one of them points him to an actual campaign against joke haiku:


"Never" might be an exaggeration, but the vast majority of joke haiku posted to the Internet just aren't funny. Short enough to take the form of a simple sentence, the typical joke haiku is just that: a brief observational sentence about some random aspect of life. When shorn of its haiku form, its true banality emerges.

Consider the example I posted above:

Milk after five months
in my refrigerator
tastes just horrible.

This poem is easily the equal of any number of joke haiku posted or e-mailed anywhere on the Internet. Yet look at what happens when I remove the line breaks:

Milk after five months in my refrigerator tastes just horrible.

What once might have elicited satisfied chuckles from joke haiku aficionados becomes an excruciatingly average observation that illuminates nothing other than the author's slovenly approach to foodstuff maintenance. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it; try it on any joke haiku you encounter and see if it retains even a fraction of its whimsy.

I've been guilty of joke haiku in the past, even going as far as to slip some into a White House in Orbit strip and the long Fight Cast or Evade guest comic I did last year. I'll try to mend my ways now, though.

Posted by rocr at 03:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 07, 2004

Happy birthdays!

Two Friends of ROCR are having their birthdays on Tuesday. Occasional ROCR colorist DFG turns 39, and Adam, co-blogger and writer of Dangerous and Fluffy, turns 25!

Have a good one, guys!

Posted by rocr at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2004

Mental note re: cycling, freckles and cameras.

Next time I go bicycling with Sidsel, I should take a camera and document the changes to her appearance during the day. I do actually carry a digital camera with me at all times nowadays, but I still haven't got into the habit of taking it out and taking pictures. Too bad, because yesterday, when we went cycling on a fairly sunny day, it was fascinating to look at my Sidsel's face. She doesn't just tan, she sprouts freckles all over her face, and in the space of a few hours her hair went from dark blond to red. Except for the tips, which had been bleached a few months ago - these faded to nearly white as if the bleach had been reactivated. It'll be interesting to see how she changes when the sun is blazing at full strength; it was partially clouded most of the time.

Our trip was supposed to take us to Oudeschip in the Northwest of Groningen (where we would check if Pick Fokkens of the comic store Modern Papier was home, and hit him up for coffee if he was), but we ran out of time and went back after taking a break at Uithuizermeeden. I think we did about 50 kilometers.

A few weeks ago we went to the port town of Lauwersoog and back, which was a round trip of about 100 kilometers. I'd say that area was a lot nicer, but this shorter and not entirely succesful trip was still time well spent. I need a new saddle on the second bike though.

Posted by rocr at 09:04 PM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2004

It's gotten lighter in here, allright.

Inspired by my friend Kim's exhortation to "do something about the Egyptian darkness" in my apartment, and my neigbours' regular window-cleaning, I've cleaned my windows for the first time since the last century. I've also removed the net curtains (much needed for privacy; I live on the ground floor near a busy street) so I can take them to the dry cleaners' and put them somewhere conspicuous so I won't forget to actually do so.

To my shame, Kim's exhortation was made 2 years ago, and I first noticed the neighbours' window-swabbing last year. It's taken me that long to take action. I got a lot, I mean really a lot of grime off both sides of the windows and even though I haven't done a stripe-free job of it, I definitely get more light in. One more step towards making this place pleasant to live in again.

On the downside, people walking down the street can now see the appaling levels of disorganisation and messiness in my flat. I'd better do something about that. But not today, because I've been indoors for long enough.

Posted by rocr at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)

May 13, 2004

Rats! With nasty diseases!

I read all the way through Spike's rat mummification report without having to call Huey O'Rourke on the big white phone. I'm proud of myself now.

Warning: read the warnings. She's not kidding about them.

Posted by rocr at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2004

He's looking quite spry for his 144 years!

Via Smilodon on IRC:

'Anton Checkov' reads

"Hey, what's up!"
"You'll never believe who's in Union Square right now"
"Anton Chekov!"
"Isn't that weird?"
"I don't know, I'd say he's around 65."
"Yeah, it's him, he has the beard and everything."
"Really? That's funny."
"Yeah, that's weird, well I think it was, I don't
"19th Century you think?"
"I don't know, this is weird."
"Well, he's here."
"No, it's definitely him, It must have been the
"It only sounds old because it's Russian"
"I don't know. This is weird."

Posted by rocr at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2004

I'm sweet as a kitten, really. Meow.

Yesterday I was bored and frustrated and chained to my computer waiting for an important message to come in. To fill time, I did some trawling of my semi-regular blog bookmarks, and let things get to me that normally wouldn't get to me. I do think that selective blindness in political blogging is a real and widespread problem, but I could have been more civil about it, and I could have been more considerate and less snappish towards the people involved.

Besides, I can't really stand the heat myself. I do not court controversy; indeed I find it very stressful. And today is entirely the wrong day for me to deal with angry responses. I'll be traveling to Munster, Germany, to see my friend Kim who has been laid up following a car accident. Can't deal with heated debate right now.

So, sorry about the tone of my last post. Not sorry about the ideas I wanted to communicate, but I'll try to be more civil in the future.

Posted by rocr at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2004

Presents for a baby

On Friday, I'll be on my way to England to assume Godfatherly duties at the baptism of my nephew Kyle. My brother emailed me to remind me that said duties include:

1. Springing for the baby's baptismal outfit; and
2. Buying him a present.

No problem (I think the unspoken part of the deal is that Kyle will spring for my headstone when I croak so I'll come out on top) except that being a confirmed non-parent myself, I haven't got a clue what to buy for a five-month-old baby. I've just been to the toy shop, and I'm sure that a giant Tigger plushie would at least make his mother happy (and if I were little, I'd love it), but the kid's already being brainwashed with Tiggers, Tiggers everywhere, so I'd welcome alternative suggestions.

Also, I'll need something to wear at the baptism myself. Of course, the baby will be the main attraction, but I don't want to show up either looking like a bum or upstaging the rest of the family. I've inquired after the dress code...

And my brother had emailed me earlier about some items he wanted me to pick up for himself. That at least will be easy...

Posted by rocr at 04:13 PM | Comments (4)

March 24, 2004

About values and mores

You need to read Dutch to appreciate the fine work of Gudolf Bamboom, former approval singer and inventor of brunch prayers. But he's got his finger on the pulse of the times, oh yeah baby.

Posted by rocr at 01:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2004

sunday thoughts on msn

I need more emoticons on msn. I need a smiley that sticks it's tongue out not in fun, but in a genuine childish nasty way. I need an emoticon that flips the bird. I need a smiley with a cigarette. I need a smiley that looks demeaning. I need a smiley with drooping eyelids. I need a smiley that nudges and winks.
Am I alone?

Posted by cmkaapjes at 10:19 PM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2004


My studio-mate Marjolein has the coolest ringtone on her cellphone. It goes "Brrriiinngg". Like an old bakelite rotary-dial phone. This is what cellphones would sound like if they were made in the German Democratic Republic, and it's what they should sound like.

Posted by rocr at 01:34 PM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2004

Evil plots discovered while you wait

We all know how much fun you can have with Lego. The other day I picked up a catalogue and frankly was shocked by the way they managed to remove the fun factor with neigh surgical precision. They now have a thing called Lego explore, for kids aged 2+. This is no Lego! These aren't building blocks, it's all prefab crap! They just added useless pegs to give parents the impression it's still Lego, it's become a design statement if anything...
And there are some very disturbing products they are coming up with. Take for instance this heavy truck. In the first place, what's with this Bob the builder-crap? In this day and age where nature conservation is the first thing our kids should learn, the most popular toys are of a guy who's best friend are a bulldozer and a cement mixer?! And if you look at the Lego heavy truck, take a closer look at the driver. That's one creepy mother! Unshaven, mean eyebrows, shades, evil smile! He's not there to save the squirrel from extinction, that's clear. Just look at the tires on that machine of his, not to mention the enormous exhaustpipe! Maybe the scandinavians are sick of their heating bills in winter and have created an evil plot to speed up world heating. Yeah, that's got to be it...

Posted by cmkaapjes at 12:49 PM | Comments (3)