20 March 2006
The Dentist From Hell
Last week, after a few weeks of an awful toothache, I visited The Dentist from Hell:
1- He was Chinese, and I couldn't understand a bloody word he said.
2- he squirted half of the tooth-numbing liquid straight down my damn throat.
3- the liquid was useless, and I howled with pain a couple of times. I swear he drilled every fucking nerve in my tooth.
4- the jabbing of the scalpel into my tooth cavity was quite amazingly painful. If my mouth wasn't full of implements, I would have screamed in agony.
5- His "fillings" ended up with jagged bits of the filling gunk all over my teeth, so it feels like I have sharp rocks sticking out of my gums.
6- His assistant didn't seem to have a clue how to do anything, and he kept barking corrections at her.
7- Neither of them seemed to know how to operate the water-dispenser. The request for some water to rinse my mouth left them baffled.
8- The dentist mistook the patient in the next room for me. It took him 15 minutes to realise he was talking to the wrong patient. The other patient was a small child.
9- You know the small clamp they use to keep your lip raised while they work on your teeth? The fucking idiot screwed it onto my goddamned *gum* instead of my tooth. You can probably imagine what that felt like. He eventually managed to do it correctly.
10- His idiot receptionist kept me waiting for 10 minutes to pay the bill while she engaged in mindless chit-chat on the phone. Then I had to listen to her incomprehensible quips about tooth extractions.
11- They told me I should come back in 3 weeks for root canal work. Fat fucking chance, you assholes.
12- Oh yeah, he didn't even seem capable of operating the chair properly. Until halfway through the procedure, the movable neck-rest was underneath my shoulder blades.
I'm sure getting a couple of fillings isn't supposed to be this painful nowdays.
More responses to my pizza post
The Great Cantinera - who sadly I don't get to talk to much anymore - sends her thoughts:
It's hard for me to describe the best pizza ever... or even the worst. It's just one of those comfort foods where even at its worst, it works. It's pizza, dude!
Having said that, I do like my crust thin and crunchy or at the other end of the spectrum, super doughy. Not a fan of deep pan pizza though.
For toppings, I'm a pretty much anything goes person (excluding the British fascination with putting corn on pizzas -- what is up with that?). I like it spicy and meaty, or sun dried toms and spinach. Possibly with goat cheese, which is truly the vital ingredient for me. As a cheese fanatic, I want LOTS of it. Any kind (but particularly goat or mozzarella). And lots of sauce.
But now I have IBS, so it's no more pizza (except for the occasional wholemeal, thin-crust).
Not the worst part of it though; as a Californian my ultimate food is actually a taco. It's not blaspheming -- it's the truth!
Here's Corey Hines with some fine thoughts:
A whole pizza or by the slice?
Whole. Always. One slice is never enough.
Thin crust? Thick crust? What sauce? What kinda oven?
Thin = more topping, less bread. This is preferred. Tomato sauce. BBQ on pizza is a crime against humanity. No preference on an oven. However, I do prefer my pizza slightly overcooked as opposed to undercooked. Undercooked pizza is all bad.
What toppings? How much cheese?
Salamis, olives, herbs, garlic, anchovies are all good. I like the emphasis on saltier, spicier, richer and heavier flavours. Eggplant, pineapple, chicken, BBQ sauce, etc. are abominations.
What makes good pizza? What makes bad pizza? What are your favourite
permutations of pizza?
Good pizza - slightly overcooked, cheese starting to brown. Good use of spices. I like the cheese on top of the other toppings, to hold everything together. Bad pizza - miserly use of toppings, undercooked, base too greasy, insufficient use of herbs or spices, tomato sauce too sweet. Sweetness in pizza is wrong. Cheap, shitty cheese will also detract from the experience that is quality pizza consumption.
What do you like to drink with your pizza? Do you eat anything else
with your pizza?
Coca-Cola is a sound choice, the sweetness contrasts nicely with the savoury flavours of the pizza. If beer, a lighter one such as a Pilsner is preferred. Heavier beers like Guinness do not go with pizza. Garlic bread is the preferred appetiser. Flat, pizza-style garlic bread is also a worthy companion to the pizza.
What countries or locales have the best pizza?
I haven't been to enough places to comment. I can, however, state categorically that pizza in South-East Asia sucks. I'm visiting Rome next week, and looking forward to tasting genuine Italian pizza.
Is there anything in the world better than pizza?
I seriously doubt it. Good Peking Duck comes close though.
What's the best pizza you've ever had? What's the worst pizza you've
I couldn't pick a single best. Worst is definitely a shitty chain called "Pizza Haven". Pizza Haven should be a magnet for spud-cannon enthusiasts everywhere.
Can communists make pizza?
Pizza restaurants under communism would be a very interesting theoretical discussion. Naturally, there would be a government monopoly on pizza production and sales. Pizza preparation would be governed by the Autonomous Socialist State- Regulatory Authority for Pizza Equality (ASS-RAPE), who would enforce regulations of Topping Or Sauce Selection (TOSS), Baking Uniformity Laws & Legislation (BULL), etc, with the aim of ensuring adherence to the Full Pizza Uniformity Laws & Legislation (FULL-PULL). A pizza cook who dares disobey ASS-RAPE's TOSS or BULL is in breach of FULL-PULL, and is hence sent to the Autonomous Socialist State- Re-Education Administration, Management, and Intelligence National Gulag
Are eggs and/or pineapple on pizza the work of the anti-christ, or a
delicacy enjoyed by higher beings?
Eggs on an Aussie pizza have their place. The ingredients I take offence to are the sweeter ones, such as pineapple or BBQ sauce, or the ones that take the flavour too far off course, such as eggplant or rocket. Egg sits quite well with the ham and bacon of the Aussie pizza.
Why are pizzas better than hippies?
Largely because they smell better. And no self-respecting pizza will be seen dead in a Che Guevara T-shirt.
And here's Nigel Withers of Sydney who favours a more traditional home-made variety:
I developed a taste for really simple pizza on a trip through Italy years ago. I'm talking about pizza that is just a bit of dough, a smear of tomato paste, a bit of fresh basil and a handful of great cheese. Good, simple fresh ingredients used sparingly. More is not better.
I got my parents to buy me a Kitchen Aide mixer last year as a house warming present - it is a commercial mixer from hell that cost about $700. It has a motor about as powerful as the Vespa and it makes short work of mixing dough. That's a good start. I usually make enough for two pizzas to feed three of us. The dough is just the basics - flour, water, salt and yeast (although I chuck in some semolina for a bit of crunchiness). I let it rest for an hour, then roll it as thin as possible. My brother gave me some of that Teflon cooking paper, and I roll it out on that because it comes off the paper really easily when it is time to build the pizza.
I use one tin of tomatoes per pizza for paste - you squeeze the bejesus out of them over the sink to get all the water out, then blend them with a handful of oregano (from the garden) maybe some rosemary plus oil, garlic, salt and vinegar.
The wog shops supply really good fresh bocconcini, freshly shaved double smoked ham (beats the shit out of what you'll get in a supermarket) parmesan and mozzarella. A simple three cheese pizza made with just the above cheeses and a bunch of basil (also from the garden) lasts only a few minutes. Again, it is not necessary to throw on tonnes of cheese. Use good cheese, and go for an "elegant sufficiency". I used to be a "pile it high with meat and stuff" kind of guy, but since I was browbeaten into making simple vegetarian pizzas, my tastes have changed. If I am feeling rich and wanky, I get buffalo mozzarella or bocconcini.
I also make a ham and pineapple for the 10 year old (and I love them too). This is where the double smoked, thinly sliced ham comes into its own. Really good, fresh ham sliced in front of you is just too delicious for words.
I picked up two pizza stones at some el-cheapo shop for about $10 each. They go into an oven that is turned up to 11 early on and allowed to get as hot as it can go. I pull one out, sprinkle it with semolina (to stop the pizza sticking) and then make the pizza on the sizzling stone. It only takes a minute, then in it goes. the dough starts cooking as soon as it hits the stone, adding to the crunchiness of the base. A 3 cheese pizza gets 7-8 minutes and a ham and pineapple maybe 10.
A merchant banker mate of mine took 6 months off last year and took his family to Italy. They spent 2 months each in 3 different places and had a chef in once a week to show them local dishes. He came back a pizza maestro. His trick was to buy a bench top pizza cooker - they cost about $150 and look like a little webber. He reckons a pizza needs only 3-5 minutes in one of them as it gets much hotter than your average household oven. As he put it, as soon as the cheese is bubbling, yank the pizza out. Don't overcook it.
When my first pizza is cooked, I pull it out stone and all and we eat it off the sizzling stone. As it sits there sizzling on the bench, I make up the second and toss it in the oven. I reckon most ovens don't have enough grunt or heat circulation to cook more than one pizza at a time.
I have had 20 people come over and invited them to make up the toppings. All I do is make dough and mix the tomato paste. If the base is good and they don't go stupid with the toppings, even a numbnuts can make a good pizza.
I am now totally suspicious of any pizza that is loaded with stuff. It is like cafes that serve a latte in a tall glass with a stem - the coffee is always totally crap and the food is no better.
I've also found that a big part of the pizza taste comes from using lots of fresh oregano in the tomato paste. And I mean lots. I have a planter full of it on the verandah and I murder it once a week to make pizza. Dried shit is no substitute. It's like using parmesan dust from a can or that stupid pre grated mozzarella in a bag.
Given all that, I still think some of the best pizza came from a pizza shop attached to a pub I used to frequent as a student in Perth. You always ended up with burnt pizza mouth as you tried to eat it pissed. I think it tasted great because anything tastes great after several jugs of beer. Therefore, the secret to great pizza is probably drinking a lot before you make it or eat it. I have tried beer, wine and rum and coke as a pre-pizza aperatif and all do the trick.
I tried pizza in East Berlin just after the wall came down. Commies can't make shoes, and they sure can't cook pizza (or anything else for that matter).
More pizza stuff in my next update.
Jane Austen's Vindaloo
I watched the 'western Bollywood' movie Bride and Prejudice the other night. A hugely enjoyable, and wonderfully bizarre experience.
Bollywood uber-babe Aishwarya Rai stars in this telling of the Jane Austen tale, which is a modern day version of the story, with some Bollywood song-n-dance numbers thrown in.
It's quite ridiculous, amazing to look at, and very funny.
Nitin Ganatra nearly steals the show as the hilariously moronic Mr. Kholi. The young female Indian cast are all babes. The only down side was Martin Henderson's Darcy, who has all the screen presence of a boiled cabbage.
It's Bollywood for westerners: spoken in English, and at less than two hours, is about half the length of a real Bollywood movie. Check it out.
My new toy - a story in two parts
Further to my recent posts of buying a recumbent trike to get fit. I've ordered a Catrike Speed, which I should receive in about 2-3 weeks. In the meantime I also just bought one of these:
A Scott Sub10. A hybrid mountain/road bike for urban duties. Light weight, skinny tyres and high-quality componentry. Some brief notes:
- The handling is razor sharp, gearshifting is easy (once you set it up properly) and the disc brakes are great.
- Definitely needs a new saddle. The standard one, like most road bikes, is unbearable, even with a gel seat cover attached.
- There's also a tad too much weight on the wrists for my liking, so I'll be raising the bars a bit.
- Accessories added thus far: a set of Shimano M520 clipless pedals, an ergonomic saddle, bar-end handles and a Sigma BC 1200 bike computer.
It's a wonderful bicycle, though riding it these last few days hasn't been much fun, due to me being in atrocious physical shape. But that will change, and it aint the bike's fault.
Now to the second part of this tale;
I wasn't looking to buy a bicycle, my mind has been on trikes, which have most of the benefits of bikes without the discomfort.
My discovery of this terrific piece of machinery is thanks to Australian blogger Phillip Gomes. Phil's probably best known for his writing on lefty blog Lavartus Prodeo. I don't read it, and I doubt Phil and I would agree on many things. Phil does however, have a fine cycling blog called Spinopsys, which I happened upon by chance. And one of the first things I read there was a review of the Scott Sub 10. From what Phil wrote, and from another review I found on the web, the Sub10 sounded right up my alley: lightweight road bike with the geometry of a mountain bike.
Finding one to buy proved a bastard of a task. The Sub10 has been a popular bike since it was released. So much so, that the Australian importer had none left, and neither did any of the Scott dealers I visited.
Salvation came in the form of Woolys Wheels in Sydney, who had what was probably the last Sub10 for sale in the country, and in my size too. After confirming a few details by e-mail, I rung them up and ordered it over the phone with my credit card.
I realised not long after I hung up that the salesman I'd just bought it from was the aforementioned Mr. Gomes.
One could point to a conflict of interest in positively reviewing a bike that you're selling yourself, but I've got no problem with it, mostly because his review was spot-on. It's a superb bike, and I've got him to thank for helping me discover it.
And Phil gets the satisfaction of converting me to the ecologically-friendly world of bicycles. It's win-win. At least for Mr. Gomes it is, as he now has my credit card number.
Say hi to Streetcow (soon to be sued by Tom Cruise).
Green Left Astrology
The Green Left Weekly brings us our star signs. I've added my own helpful comments to help our astrological lefties through their next bouts of life-trauma...
You will spend 45 minutes in a queue at Centrelink today, only to find that they've suspended your student allowance for no apparent reason. They assure you it will be restored — if you fill out seven forms and attend three interviews.
You could always try to get that job you saw advertised, even though it pays less than what you think you deserve after completing your arts degree with honours in Post-Mapplethorpe Toilet Photography.
Today, you will leave your house and be surrounded by frustrated, alienated people who seem to live in dread of making eye-contact with you. As you cross the street at a pedestrian crossing, a motorist will speed up and try to run you down.
What were you doing at Bob Brown's house anyway?
You will feel depressed and think that maybe buying an iPod will cheer you up — but you won't be able to afford one.
You'll find employment is a wonderful remedy for this.
If you are a woman, you will get to hear federal health minister Tony Abbott on the evening news describing your right to control your body and to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to full-term as a “tragedy” and an “unutterable shame”. You will get the urge to hurt him.
The rest of us get an urge to hurt greenies every day. Thankfully, our jobs and families keep us occupied.
If you wear a veil, have a beard, or are of Middle Eastern appearance, you will be treated with hostility and suspicion wherever you go. The newspaper headlines this morning will be racist, Islamophobic and highly offensive, and in the articles, Peter Costello and John Howard will try to out-do each other with backward, racist comments.
You'll find your imagination and the non-existent have a lot in common.
Today, you will fail to complete an important assignment for uni, as you have to work for four days a week serving coffee to lawyers for $10 an hour in order to pay your rent.
Working four days a week? Oh the horror, you poor daffodil.
You will come to the realisation that we should aim to understand what happens in the world using science and reason; that astrology is a rather dubious science, and horoscopes are full of shit.
Much like The Green Left Weekly, which, like Astrology columns, does at least have some entertainment value.
If you live in Baghdad, you will have access to electricity for four hours today, if you're lucky. You will not have access to clean water, and you will stay inside all day because a) Baghdad's not the safest city in the world, and b) you are part of the 60% of the Iraqi population that is now unemployed. Your brother will be killed by a US-backed death squad set up to provoke sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites. Surprisingly, you will develop feelings of hostility towards the occupying troops, and become part of the 65% of the population who support attacks by the Iraqi armed resistance on the US-led occupation forces.
Unless of course, you're one of the majority of Baghdad's population whom none of this has happened to.
If you live in Iran, you will begin suffering from acute anxiety, and as you hear Bush talking about “regime change” and “weapons of mass destruction”, you will wonder, “Is anyone else getting a sense of deja-vu?”
You might also be worried about your theocratic dictatorship which doesn't allow free elections, free media, issues fatwahs against western authors and still stones women to death.
If you live in the US, you will be one of the 5 million people who have sunk below the poverty line under the rule of President George Bush — however, living in a poor community as you do, you will be provided with heavily discounted heating oil by Venezuela's revolutionary government in an act of solidarity with the US people. At school today, military recruiters will come and encourage you to join the army and fight for your country. You won't be able to afford to go to uni anyway, so you consider it for a quarter of a second before thinking: “Hah — fuck that.”
Unless you're one of those millions of non-rich American kids who do actually end up going to university and have never even heard of some Venezuelan idiot offering you heating oil.
If you live in Venezuela, you will feel a sense of tremendous pride and satisfaction as you know you are part of an incredibly important process — a struggle for popular power, democracy and socialism — that is having global impact. You will now have a real say in decision-making in your community, and your quality of life will have improved dramatically over the last few years as a result of the Bolivarian revolution. You will now be able to read and write, as the revolution has eliminated illiteracy — largely with the help of Cuban teachers — and you have also had the benefit of one of the millions of free medical consultations provided by more than 20,000 Cuban medics.
Unless you're one of the journalists whom Chavez decides to imprison under his 'disrespect' laws, or one of the poor population, approximately none of whom have had their lives improved.
If you live in sub-Saharan Africa, you will be one of 26,000 people throughout the Third World who will die today from poverty — most likely from malnourishment, a preventable disease or an AIDS-related illness.
And you'll dream of moving to the west, which thanks to democracy and capitalism, is superior to your continent in absolutely every respect, and doesn't have presidents who deny that HIV and AIDS are actually related.
Today, you will come to the understanding that this global system that inflicts war, poverty and absolute misery on the overwhelming majority of the world's population must be radically changed.
And thanks to the Coalition of the willing, that System has been changed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.
The Stars are indeed a source of wisdom.
Ducati finally wakes up and smells the coffee
Ducati CEO Federico Minoli has coyly admitted what the rest of the motorcycling world figured out three years ago: that changing from one of the most beautiful sportsbike designs of all time - the 916 - to the ugly-as-pigshit 999 was a serious mistake.
It's a divisive bike. Somebody liked it very much, somebody did not like it very much. And so, of course, we are looking at a substitute. But when and how, we still don't know. But I think that the new one will be more in the sign of tradition of Ducati. While the 999 was very forward and innovative and a kind of discontinuity with the past, it's hard to improve Michelangelo's Pieta, after all. And so I think that our decision which, with hindsight, maybe was not right, was to really go off the beaten track and try something very novelty. I think that we will try to go back to less angle and more round and stuff like that.
It was ugly when it was released, and it's just as ugly now. If that wasn't bad enough, they gave us the Multistrada. It's hard to understand how Ducati could have been so out of their fucking minds.
Local losers defend monster
The Communist Party of Australia is mourning the loss of a great man:
As time goes on, Milosevic will come to be seen as a hero and a martyr in the struggle against the criminal plots of imperialism
The Mystery of Crotch-Man
The other day my girlfriend received a gift with this label attached:
Try to guess what kind of gift it was. Hint: it was not a pornographic or medicinal item.
The answer in my next update.
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