dude you need to watch the wire

“The f*** is you thinkin’?” Stringer Bell would ask, incredulously. You haven’t been able to spare a mere 60 hours of your life to absorb this socially-aware, brilliantly commentative masterwork? To meet all of its characters and, amazingly, find yourself understanding and feeling each one’s personal woes and strife? To reach one of those exhilarating moments when a slowly-building story arc pays off in spades and devastates every other story arc in its wake? Oh, man. That sucks.

“I don’t like cop shows,” you’ll say. They all say that. I say that, too. F*** the cop shows. Those 43-minute schlock pieces where the case is presented from start to finish in a neat little package, filled to the brim with pseudoscientific/legal jargon and pithy one-liners? Straight garbage. The Wire’s not like that at all, bro-man. It’s HBO. It’s different.

the wire poster
It’s 5 interwoven seasons touching on the personal plight of the average cop, detective, drug dealer, drug addict, lawyer, mayor, journalist, dock-worker, teacher, and kingpin in a small Rust Belt city in the United States. Namely: Baltimore, Maryland.

The obscurity of Baltimore alone should pique anyone’s interest; New York and Los Angeles have, by now, become cliché locales for police drama shows and movies. Filming on-location in a city like “Bodymore Murdaland” just feels much more down-to-Earth. More believable. Did I mention how believable this show was?

Murders, investigations, raids and prosecutions all take time to develop. The payoff isn’t instantaneous, it’s earned. You realize early-on in the series that your patience is rewarded handsomely and, while grim, the story only escalates as it continues. Someone’s back-talk gets them killed a few episodes later. A plot element that you were already aware of gets discovered by the police and the whole case unravels from there. One character’s dirty trick comes back to bite them after a whole season. It’s beautifully calculated. Read this HBO The Wire review.

The level of satisfaction you’ll gain from watching it just can’t be described. In fact, you’re really doing yourself a disservice by not watching it, dude. I mean it. I’m just trying to help. You know how, when you were in high school and everyone told you to watch Fight Club, and you were like, “Yeah, sure, someday,” and when you finally did, it blew your f***ing mind and made you feel like the smartest guy in the room? Yeah, it’s like that, only in greater abundance and concentration. You’ll hate yourself for having waited so long.

I assure you: The first episodes begin slow but, once you’ve found the groove, you won’t be able to watch just one anymore. You’ll watch episodes in blocks. Swaths. Marathons, even.

It’s been 5 years since it ended. You need to cut the excuses and watch this. Now.

justice league movie
I loved The Avengers and all the other Marvel movies that have been released during their Phase 1 movement (even The Incredible Hulk).  Ever since The Avengers blew up broke records at the box office, we have heard rumblings that Warner Bros. is working to develop a Justice League movie.  However those rumblings have been Hulk smashed to death as obstacle after obstacle seem to get in the way.  So many reports have come out that even Thor would say “A shit, who gives it”.

Warner Bros. originally said the Justice League would come out in 2015 to rival The Avengers 2 which is to be released the same year.  Then WB came out and said that the movie is pending on how well the upcoming Man of Steel movie does in theaters.  While its almost a given that Man of Steel will do extremely well in theaters, we heard a new story that the script that was penned by Will Beall (who also wrote 2013′s Gangster Squad) was flat out TERRIBLE.  It sucked so much ass that they completely scrapped it and a new script will have to be developed from scratch.  Now a brand new story is saying that the Justice League may not see any screen-time till 2021 as they want to wait till they reboot Batman…again.Why are they waiting so long? Warner Bros. and DC Comics don’t want to jeopardize their Untitled Batman Reboot, and they are afraid that if Justice League bombs, Bruce Wayne won’t be invited back to the big screen for some time to come. A Man of Steel sequel won’t arrive until at least 2016. That puts the Batman relaunch somewhere between 2017 and 2019. That means, if they follow their planned release strategy, Justice League won’t hit screens until at least 2021. Here are the tumors for the Justice League Part One cast.

Meanwhile, Marvel should be pumping out their third Avengers film at that time if not before that.  Look…I dig the DC characters.  I often feel DC comics put more into their characters by giving them original places to live (Gotham, Metropolis, Oa, ect) and make them more original.  But when it comes time to turn them into movies they often fail.  Not to say they flop at the box office but the people that enjoy the characters are usually disappointed and unhappy with the result (i.e. Green Lantern and Superman Returns).

Where Marvel did it right was the setup.  They released five different movies in the span of three years to setup The Avengers.  To make a decent movie they’ll need to reboot Batman and probably Green Lantern after that debacle.  They will also need to release a stand alone Flash movie as well as make sequels to Man of Steel.  They’ll also have to explain any other characters in the JL movie including Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and possibly Green Arrow which all its recent TV success on The CWI am all about watching a Justice League movie but I don’t think it will ever work.  The only heavy hitters you have on the roster for a movie is Batman and Superman.  I feel all the other characters wouldn’t be able to hold their own in a stand alone movie.  Green Lantern kind of proved that.  If the characters don’t get their own movie, you’ll have to explain how they are involved within the JL movie.  That means you’d have to explain four or five characters in one movie while also carrying out the movie’s main plot line.  I think it would be a mess.  Character stuff aside, The Justice League is just TOO large.  The people who fight the JL are often a group of super-villains or enormous rulers from other planets.  So while you have all those heroes doing their thing, you have to explain where the villains are coming from.  When it’s all combined its just too much.

I hope I am wrong.  They did it with The Avengers and it was great.  But whenever I read articles or fan boys exclaiming about a Justice League movie all I can think is…well…WHO GIVES A SHIT!

Once you start cake decorating, you basically get trapped in it and you find yourself both excited and frustrated in the beginning. Excited, as cake decorating is so rewarding, but frustrated since you need so many tools to get the best results on your pastry.

There are many tools that are worth investing in, but some are essential and you might be surprised to have them already in your kitchen!

No matter how much they cost, a true professional cake pan is the first step to take when cake baking/decorating. A professional cake pan has straight sides so that the cake is straight on the sides.

Any bakers best friend is parchment paper. This paper is extremely versatile and may be used for cutting circles and placing them in the bottom or cake pans for a perfectly neat release every single time.

It’s better to have a piece of parchment to set the cake when you flip it over from the pan. This way it’s easier to cut off the top and decorate the cake as the parchment paper catches the mess and makes it easier for you to clean up afterwards.

When you cover the cakes in fondant, it’s very useful to place the cakes on large pieces of parchment paper so the fondant doesn’t stick to the surface or cause tearing. When you’re done with the covering of your cake with fondant, place your cake on another brand new piece of parchment. It’s far easier to move around the table the cake like this.

Keep in mind that parchment paper is not wax paper and they can’t interchange. Never place wax paper in the oven- unless you want to burn down your house J

Always use a sharp knife to release your cakes from pans. Run the blade around the edge (parchment paper on the bottom) and the cake should fall out when you flip it over.

If you plan to work with fondant, make use of a sharp, clean knife that cuts shapes, stripes and to work the details. Some knives are better than others for the precise lines and need to be handled carefully as they may cut even through silicone mats.

Every cake you bake needs its own cake board as this gives it stability and strength, holding it together. If you bake a large cake, get some help from a cake drum. This comes from 3 cake boards glued and pressed together, then covered in foil.

If you have the patience for a clean, elegant coat, get yourself an off-set spatula and a bench scraper. The off-set spatula eases up the spreading of your favorite icing and the bench scraper smooths this coat.

A paintbrush lets you add the right amount of water or sugar glue for the fondant decorations. If you really want to go professional, get yourself an airbrush for cake decorating.

The truth lies in the middle

You can’t have a cake without a turntable and the other way around. You can’t decorate a cake without a turntable, if not impossible at times.

When you work with fondant you know that air is its worst enemy. A few minutes might mean the drying of your fondant and the ruining of your cake. So…get some help from shortening and add some to your fondant to make it workable again. Never use water as it melts fondant!

As fondant tends to be sticky, it’s always a good thing to use powdered sugar or cornstarch on the surface to avoid the sticking. Each of them works and it’s handy to store it in a shaker for an even disperse while rolling out the fondant.

Typically, you find in stores fondant rollers in two sizes: the small ones are for small decorations, whereas the large ones go when covering the entire cake. Your current rolling pin might not be powerful enough to roll the fondant as thin as you need.

Another great tool is a fondant smoother which smooth the fondant and releases air bubbles from under the fondant. Don’t get cheap and buy yourself at least two of these.

Remember: Practice makes perfect and it’s up to you to get the best decorated cake ever. Every single time :)

My wife and I decided to purchase a small home in Milan, Italy, because we enjoy spending several months of each year in this gorgeous and historically rich community. Although we got a great deal on the house, there were some troubles that came along with the house. However, we knew that before we purchased it and have been enjoying changing it to suit our needs.

In the living room and kitchen, the drywall had been damaged due to a leaky roof. Although the previous owner had repaired the roof, the damage inside the home was not taken care of by them. Fortunately, we have some experience with drywall installation from a couple of homes that we had bought, fixed up and then sold for a profit. Of course, we are not looking to fix up this place for sale. It is going to be our second home and our base when we travel to Europe.

Along the way, we did encounter some difficulties because the rules and regulations in Italy are different than those we faced in the states. We can speak Italian reasonably well, but the words associated with rebuilding were not yet in our vocabulary. We had to spend some time learning these terms and to figure out what we were and were not allowed to do with our new home. After all, we certainly did not want to end up with legal troubles on our hands due to a lack of understanding.

Fortunately, we have several friends in the city who were more than happy to make certain we understood. We employed the company Andrea Color for the job. In fact, we even had a couple of friends who were willing to help us get the new place in top condition. It really helped to make us feel at home and reinforced that choosing Milan as a second home was the right choice.

cartongesso milanoWe had to remove all of the old drywall that had been damaged, which was a hideous mess to get out of the house. It took a couple of days for us to get all of the drywall removed and we had a small problem with the floor where the leak was the worst.

Then, we had to clean the area well, making certain that all of the dust and debris was completely cleared out, particularly inside of the wall space. The last thing we wanted was to leave anything that could lead to mold growth or any other similar problems.

In less than a week, we had the entire project done. It looks fabulous and we are excited about entertaining our friends in the new home. I cannot wait!

Of course, there are still some other things that we will need to do in order to make the place exactly how we want it. However, we want to mimic the original design as much as possible to keep with the style that makes Italy such a lovely place to visit. We are so pleased with our choice!