Featuring Chuck

“Inhale.

Take in as much air as you can.

This story should last about as long as you can hold your breath, and then just a little bit longer. So listen as fast as you can.”

An excerpt from a short story that should last about as long as you can hold your breath, and then a little bit longer. So how long is a short? Well, that depends on how fast you can read. Or at least, how fast Chuck Palahniuk thinks you can read.

A cult icon and a writer first; a human being second. Palahniuk has that ability: the ability to rip open his reader’s minds and let them fall face first into his writing. The reprehensible scribbling of this novelist is inspired by friends, family, and personal experiences. He can flesh out the best and worst possible events that could ever take place in one’s lifetime and perhaps even beyond. And the reader gets to live it, through the 300 hundred pages or so that they are betrothed by.

1962 a symbolic year for the future of our culture: it was the year we entered our corporate fate with the opening of Wal-Mart, a beloved idol by the name of Marilyn succumbed to addiction and perished, the Cold War sustained, Andy Warhol decided soup was considered art, and silicone breast implants were used for the first time.

1962 also brought an imminent life form into the world by the name of Charles. A boy from Burbank Washington who graduated in 1980 from Columbia high, with the prominent “Most-Wittiest” student award: clearly a prophecy to the rest of his life. This clever young man quickly unraveled into the transgressional fictional novelist we know today as Chuck Palahniuk.

Chuck’s most celebrated novels include the dirty secrets of sex addicts and porn stars, detailed recipes for explosives, satirical fates of the working poor and legends of an uncensored society. Chuck’s characters all seem to run some sort of scam and have an unorthodox way of getting their dirtiest desires met which can relate in so many ways to today’s wicked society.

Chuck’s first book Insomnia: If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Already remains unpublished, however some aspects were salvaged and used in his third and most successful novel Fight Club. Invisible Monsters was the second novel written by Palahniuk but was considered to be too dark to be published. Ironically Fight Club - a much more ominous novel was then published, which just goes to show just how sinister our society really is. Invisible Monsters was later released. Survivor was the next book that was published which is considered to be a satirical commercial cultural story of a man involved in a death cult whose life is exploited when he is the only member of this religious group left. This marked the beginning of Palahniuk’s own cult following. Other substantially famous novels include: Snuff the story of a porn priestess who intends to top her legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication in a porn movie; Diary which is the “coma-chronicles” kept by a women whose husband has been left in a coma after a suicide attempt as well as Haunted which is made up of twenty-three of the most horrific, side-splitting, stomach churning narratives centered around a group of people taking part in a secret writers’ retreat.

Several of Chuck’s novels have been successful enough to become movies. Most famously Fight Club starring Edward Norton and Brad Pit as the deeply disturbed schizophrenic character Tyler Durden. Adapted by director David Fincher, the film was released in 1999. Another novel turned movie was more recently Choke directed by Clark Gregg depicting the life of a sex-addict con-man who scams people into giving him money by pretending to choke at restaurants. Titles such as Survivor, Invisible Monsters & Haunted are also in the process of becoming major features. It is still too early in production to predict the future of such films.

The known future of Chuck Palahniuk lies with the upcoming novel to be released in May of 2009: Pygmy, based around a protagonist terrorist whose science project is intended to kill millions when it explodes in Washington. The unknown future is just about as mysterious as the inner workings of Chuck himself. The man’s ability to merely describe, whether it be through his short stories, fiction or non-fiction can send the most intense chills up your spine, implant horrifically detailed images in your mind, and make you sick to your stomach just by words. His use of the English language has the capability to take the breath straight from your lungs.

“Now you can take a good, deep breath. I still have not”

Mum’s B-day Dinner

So for my Mum’s birthday she usually likes me to make her dinner instead of buying her a present – which is totally great for me because I absolutely love cooking and coming up with new recipes. And by new I mean old recipes that I spice up by adding lots of great ingredients to. So for this birthday dinner I decided that the menu would consist of my special stuffed chicken parmesan, cheese and garlic biscuits, and stuffed mushrooms. It went over very well, so I thought why not throw my recipes up on my blog. They are fairly easy recipes but when cooking I always suggest adding your own touches here and there. Here is what you will need:

Chicken Parm

2 thick skin and boneless chicken breasts

1 can of your favorite tomato pasta sauce

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese

2 cups of bread crumbs (you may use less but just to be on the safe side)

1 egg

Chicken Parm Stuffing

1/2 cup cooked dried out baby spinach (I used 2 frozen cubes of spinach that you just throw in the microwave for about 2 minutes)

1/2 cup Ricotta cheese

1/2 cup Cream Cheese

Minced Roasted Garlic

Minced Onion (white or red)

* When it comes to onion and garlic I think everyone should use their own discretion for adding – it depends on how much of each you’d like to add. Personally I like to use a lot and continue to add more as I’m mixing.

1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese shredded

1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese shredded

Stuffed Mushrooms (about 10-12 large stuffing mushrooms)

3-4 uncooked shrimp

1 tbsp minced roasted garlic

Onion (use at your own discretion)

1 cup of cream cheese

1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Cheese & Garlic Biscuits

2 cups baking mix: Bisquick

2/3 cup of milk

1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup butter melted

1 tsp minced roasted garlic

So I made this stuff twice and what I did both times to start off was make the stuffing’s for both the chicken and the mushrooms. I also mixed together the cheese and garlic biscuit batter. With all of the ingredients I generally like to add a little more to taste a lot so I suggest if you are going through these processes you do the same thing. I can never stick directly to a recipe. Also if you think of something to add – why not add it, just make sure you don’t add to much of one thing and smother the taste.

Mixing of Batters/Stuffing’s

First and foremost preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Also put a pan on low heat with some olive oil, veggie oil or butter.

Start off by mixing together the chicken parmesan stuffing. You do this by throwing the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, garlic, onion and spinach into a large bowl. Mix together until all is combined. Put some saran wrap over it and put it in the fridge until you are ready to stuff the chicken breasts.

Now that the pan has been heated to a pretty decent temperature you can start putting together the stuffed mushroom filling. After deveining or de-shelling the uncooked shrimp, put them in the pan (that should still be on low). While they are sizzling away, start chopping your garlic (if need be) and onion, shredding your cheese etc. Next add your garlic and onion to your shrimp. When I made mine,  I also had some extra mushrooms lying around so I chopped those up and added them to the pan also.

Once the shrimp are cooked place into a small bowl with saran and put into the fridge.

For the garlic and cheese biscuits - mix together all ingredients minus the butter and garlic. That is all. No secrets just mix. Put in the fridge for after.

So your oven should be heated up by now right? Time to coat the chicken with breadcrumbs. In one bowl crack the egg and mix. And in another throw the breadcrumbs in. You may as well get your hands dirty for this one (just be careful to wash your hands a bunch of times since you are dealing with raw chicken). Start in the egg mix (make sure the chicken is fully covered) and then move on to coating the chicken in breadcrumbs

Now on to slicing those bad boys open and preparing to stuff. Find the fattest part of the chicken breast and slice into it with a sharp small knife to create a pocket large enough to fit lots and lots of the yummy stuffing. Once this is done stuff away. You can use as little or as much as you wish.

Once stuffed put into cooking tray coated with butter or olive oil – whatever you choose to make it not stick to the bottom of the pan. Throw into the oven for 40 minutes.

* I set the timer for 20 minutes first because the mushrooms will be going in for the last 20 minutes

Whilst this is cooking you can complete your mushroom stuffing. Take the shrimp mixture out of the fridge and mix in the cream cheese and reg cheese to make your stuffing. After cleaning up those mushrooms and taking out the stems, stuff away with as little or as much stuffing as you wish.

Put onto a baking sheet that has been coated with olive oil, veggie oil or butter. And put in the oven for the last 20 minutes of the chicken cooking.

Now you can put the biscuits onto an UNCOATED cooking sheet (should make about 8-10 depending on how big you’d like them to be. At this point the chicken and mushrooms should be just about ready.

Once the mushrooms and chicken have been taken out of the oven turn it up to 450 degrees. Place the biscuits into the oven (which is still warming up to 450 degrees NOT preheated to 450 degrees) for about 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Put some of your tomato sauce over the chicken (as much or as little as you’d like) and then place the shredded cheese over them also. And put back into the oven until the biscuits are finished.

While the biscuits and chicken are cooking put the butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds to melt. Add in the garlic. Once the biscuits are done brush the butter mixture on top of the bicuits.

You can serve with pasta or salad. I also served it with a nice Pinot Noir red wine. Such delicious and easy recipes it should take no more than an hour to make.

Enjoy!

this is a wedding toast.

Firstly I would like to start off by welcoming everyone and thanking you all for sharing such a special day with our families – I know it means a lot to all of us. Being the little sister of the groom it certainly means a lot to me that I get to stand up here today on Mark and Sarah’s wedding day.

Since I can remember my brother has always been there for me. I know it might sound cliché but it’s the only thing I can say that outlines just how it was. Mark was just seven years old when I was born and even at that age he gladly took the role of big brother. We have always been close and I am truly thankful for that. My earliest memories of just how lucky I am starts with the St. Theresa of Avila wall at recess. Only my friends and I were allowed to hang out along the wall with the grade eights. Although as saying this speech today I’m starting to think it was all just a rouse to get girls through you’re cute little sister. I could stand up here and lie and say that as we grew up we maintained a picture perfect relationship. But while we still loved each other as brother and sister one can just imagine the kinds of fights we had going through our different stages of life. But I always had someone to pick me up or drop me off at school, even if he did walk way to fast.

Sibling fights came and went. I even sometimes took the initiative to write an apology when I felt particularly bad like one fight when I almost bit a chunk out of his arm. As we got older our arguments and fights became much more humorous- now that I look back on them. Like one instance when Marks temper put a hole in my door. We both realized that as mad as we were at each other when our parents got home it would be about ten times worse. So we stuck together, took the door off the hinges and moved it to a different location; anything to avoid getting in trouble.

As I got older our relationship changed quite a bit. High school came around and we had much more in common than we ever did. A similar taste in music brought us together where at the same time my underage drinking tore us apart. I’m positive even some people here today can attest to just how strict my big brother was with me up until the very day I turned 19; worse than even my own parents. Even that beautiful lady sitting on his right couldn’t help me in that situation, although she did try several times.

I remember when Mark first brought Sarah into our lives. She was just about as quiet as a mouse but with the influence of my family that soon changed. Sarah and I quickly developed a relationship. We would take shopping trips together, watch movies, eat pizza, gossip, and drink endless amounts of wine. Remember that one time we polished off 6 bottles? No you don’t- me either. We would do pretty much anything two close friends would do. Being able to have that kind of relationship with Sarah couldn’t make me happier and it pleases me so much to welcome her into our family as a sister-in-law, daughter-in-law and as always a friend.

This is a toast to Mark and Sarah – two people who are just perfect for each other. They carry the right mix of love, kindness; passion and hostility that will make their marriage last forever. Cheers!

Feelin’ Fine

Have you ever felt depressed when it’s raining outside? Have you ever been excited about an event in your life? Have you ever used a social networking website or blog to share these feelings? If you have chances are you are part of the We Feel Fine movement.

2005 marked the beginning of the We Feel Fine movement. Since then, the website has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every ten minutes the system searches the world’s newly posted blog entries, Flickr pictures, Myspace pages and several other online sources for feelings.

The We Feel Fine database scans blog posts for the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. Once such phrases are found, the system looks back to the beginning of the sentence and forwards to the end of the sentence, than saves the full sentence in the database. Once saved, it is scanned to see if one of the 5,000 pre-identified feelings within the database corresponds with the sentence. Finally a color is also assigned to the sentence – red for anger, green for calm, yellow for happy etc. If an image is featured in the post it will be saved along with the sentence. With just one click of a mouse we are able to see into someone’s mind…pretty brilliant huh?

The database is divided into six movements, each of which illuminates a different aspect of the chosen population. These are represented in the easy to navigate We Feel Fine applet. The movements consist of Madness, Murmurs, Montage, Mobs, Metrics and Mounds. In the simplest terms, this allows the public to look at feelings in different views.

The creators Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris are clearly interested in dissecting the human world – so much so they have decided to publish their findings in a book that is in the process of creation.

So what introduced me to this? A few weeks ago I was emailed about a picture and blog entry that I created a few years ago. The email was asking me for my permission to use my picture in a book. So out of curiosity I agreed but asked for some more information. After I was emailed back with tons of information about the book, release forms, and personal emails from the writers themselves I realized that this certainly was the real deal! So much to my excitement my picture and the extremely depressing line “I feel like I’m an awful person for doing anything I do” will be in the We Feel Fine book. Did I mention they are looking to publish it internationally as well as in different languages?

After reading up on this movement I have become so interested in the entire concept. To be able to collect such information- millions of feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, absolutely amazes me. I couldn’t be more stoked to be a part of this! I certainly foresee this becoming huge and I think everyone should explore the website…

www.wefeelfine.org

photo doc.

The last assignment in our Advanced Social Journalism class was an audio photo documentary. Myself, Alanna & Chris decided to explore homelessness in Toronto and the surrounding area. At first we had a particular subject but it was harder then we expected to keep in touch! But in the end I think our documentary still did a good job of exploring the topic.

Lori-Frances

Wave of the future! Wave of the future!

I know exactly how I feel about Web 2.0 and Social Networking. I sincerely think that it is the way of the future. How could you not? When I think about the amount of technology we use in our everyday lives and how it is constantly changing and growing, its clear that Web 2.0 and social networking can be put into the same category. This is just another piece of technology (computers and the internet) that is growing.

The past few weeks were not the first time I have come across such concepts. Last year we were introduced to websites such as Flickr and Delicious to help broaden our minds a bit in this area. Little did I know, that was just the tip of the ice berg. There are so many other social networking websites out there to join. And it is certainly not just another password and user name, it’s a whole wide world of people, facts, articles, pictures, pretty much anything you can think of. What is so wrong about being able to share interests with interesting people? Nothing, absolutely nothing. What is right about it? Everything. Being able to sit at your computer, type in a keyword and find hundreds of pieces of information is certainly this kind of technology pushing its way up the ladder.

Now lets get a little bit more in depth shall we? Digg – here’s a site that was completely new to me. And now that I know of it, am signed up and using it, I see it everywhere. Tons of websites that I have come across seem to have the little man with the shovel basically asking you in the most blatantly easy way if you “digg” the website. I enjoy being able to rummage through the different categories on the site and pick and chose what to view. How much more effortless can it get? Delicious has the same idea except it takes it a step further. Just by joining the website you are given a free add-on that makes book marking as easy as a click of your mouse. I find it is also interesting to see how many other people have the same curiosity of subjects as you. Twitter is my least favorite because I never know what to put my status as. I don’t know how comfortable I am with people knowing how sad my life is 24 hours a day (ha ha). I think I have had it as “playing guitar” since I’ve started using it. I don’t think I’ve been playing guitar for that long. Maybe I’m just not used to it yet?

I think it is so important to keep an open mind with stuff like this. The internet is taking over so why not join in and become savvy with its applications? There are obviously people who aren’t going to be as gung-ho about it as I am. Especially with the controversy regarding the popular social networking site Facebook and posting inappropriate pictures for possible employers to see. Even BBC News warns teens about this. Well I appreciate your warning but I don’t think that’s going to stop thousands of guys and gals from posting improper pictures of themselves .

A Smokin’ Review

Zig-Zag, Tally Ho, Juicy Jays, Pure Klear, flavored, bleached, unbleached. These are just several of hundreds of brands and types of rolling papers. For those of yous unaware of what exactly rolling papers are and what they are used for I’ll let you in: such papers are more commonly used for rolling tobacco and marijuana. They are made with wood pulp, hemp, flax or rice as a base material. Although there is a vast range of categories in regards to rolling papers, I am basing this around the newest trend that has been picking up since 2006. Clear rolling papers have made their way to the scene but not without controversy. As intriguing as the idea may be – no one likes to get the wrong impression or falsified information when it comes to products. And unfortunately for the PR agents working with a few companies manufacturing these clear papers this seems to be the case!

Rumors and more rumors from advertising companies who only wanted to boost their product. Blowing smoke up the publics arses (ha ha) however, is never a good business move. If a merchandising company is going to be tooting their own horn it is probably for the best they get all of the facts straight, especially when slandering the opposition. Aleda is a company that went through slight controversy regarding their product. “The Original One” had a few pieces of false advertising on their packaging. The company even had to go as far as posting a letting of apology of their website. Another company Pure had similar problems with posting wrong information on their website.

Q: How are they clear?
A: It’s all about the process. If we added one more stage of chemical compounds you would get the traditional white rolling papers that you’re accustomed to. Those are so 5 minutes ago.

I don’t think Pure is speaking so purely in my opinion. Since when was paper naturally clear?

It was said that with clear papers the development is stopped before the “bleaching” procedure. When in fact, more chlorine is put into clear papers then good ol’ Zig-Zags. With regular papers, calcium carbonate is added to induce whitening (a substance used in TUMS – something we consume) and is completely harmless. Something else that caught my attention when researching this subject was the comparison in thickness. Paper is measured in “gsm” – regular white papers range from 12-22 gsm where as clear papers weigh about 30 gsm. Basically: a higher thickness means more smoke!
When it comes down to it, clear papers are non-toxic, not plastic, but not better or worse for you then regular papers. From personal experience they do roll tightly and burn slowly. It just depends on what the consumer is looking for. So in the end its completely up to you folks!

lq