Rusty’s American Shepherd’s Pie




Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 2 (plus leftovers)



  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes for 5 (follow instructions on box) or homemade mashed potatoes . . . your call.
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) Butter
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • ¾ cup Onion, diced
  • 8 oz. (half a bag) frozen Mixed Vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas, green beans
  • ½ can Diced Potatoes
  • ½ can Diced Tomatoes (with garlic, basil and oregano) PLUS all juice in can
  • 1/3 cup beef broth OR generous splash of Johnny’s French Dip Au Jus (liquid; preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice
  • 4 good pinches Garlic Powder
  • 3 good pinches of Oregano
  • Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese for the top (optional)



Preheat oven to 400°F.

  1. Make the mashed potatoes and set aside.
  2. Sauté vegetables. Melt butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat and add drizzle of olive oil.  Add the chopped onions and cook for about 4 minutes.  Add some salt and pepper.
  3. Add frozen vegetables and sauté mixture about 5-6 minutes without burning onions.  Add more salt and pepper.
  4. Add the ground beef to the pan with the onions and vegetables.  Mix it all together and cook until beef is no longer pink.  Add Worcestershire sauce, diced tomatoes and juices, diced potatoes, and broth/au jus.  Season with pinches of garlic powder, oregano, and more salt and pepper–ALL TO YOUR TASTE.  Bring the pan to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes to cook off some of the liquids.
  5. Layer the meat mixture evenly in a large baking dish, such as an 8” x 8” Pyrex pan or larger.
  6. Spread mashed potatoes over the beef and veggies in an even layer.
  7. Sprinkle grated sharp cheddar cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes before baking.
  8. Bake in oven for half an hour.


Rusty recommends Bass Ale, Harp, or a Sangiovese to accompany his pie.



A Star Wars hotel, or, How to make a landcruiser reality

Screamscape is reporting a land-based version of a new Disney Cruise:

Star Wars Starship Hotel – Proposal / Development – (7/11/17) Like everyone, I heard the first rumors of a possible Star Wars themed hotel concept pitched for Walt Disney World and once the initial “Oooohh!” moment passed, I had to scoff at the idea. The cynic in me was pretty sure that nothing like that would ever happen, at least not like what was being shown in the survey’s Disney was quietly showing off to select guests.
Yeah… while I don’t think the project has been given the final green light to proceed, apparenly Disney really is developing a Star Wars themed hotel concept that would be built right at the Studios park next to the Star Wars Land itself. Don’t look for anything to happen until they get their new parking lot configuration up and running, but once they are ready to close down the current toll plaza entrance off World Drive in favor of the new park entrance off Osceola Parkway, work could begin on the new hotel concept.
So what this really supposed to be? Well, you can see some concept art used for a guest survey posted here, but in the end it may be more simple to explain the basic premise like this… imagine going on a cruise ship… that really goes nowhere at all. The concept is a something of a dream for some designers out there that has never really been built out as far as I know, but some refer to it as a LBC… aka: Land Based Cruise. The hotel would be themed as a giant Star Wars Universe themed starship… an interstellar cruise ship experience… and guests would book a stay for several days, much like they would at a normal WDW hotel, expect you can expect this one to cost much much more. The idea is that while guests would leave the hotel during the daytime to visit the Disney theme parks as normal, they would return to the starship in the evening hours which would offer extra dining, exclusive entertainment, and even special themed excursions and adventures themed to the Star Wars Universe. In short all these bonus adventures are only available to the guests of Star Wars hotel, and unlike the other Walt Disney World Resorts, other guests would not be permitted inside to visit.
I’m told that Disney pitched a similar idea several years back, before Disney bought Star Wars, that involved building a similar themed hotel experience that would have been based on the myths and ghoulish legends of the Haunted Mansion, allowing guests to experience something akin to spending the night inside the Haunted Mansion with lots of themed spooky fun events to take place throughout the evening hours.
The Star Wars idea is an interesting one, and it would finally give Disney something they’ve been after… an upscale park experience that guests will pay top dollar to experience much like SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove. Except this isn’t just an upscale park experience, this bundles in a whole new resort category into the mix as well. It should be interesting to see if Disney goes through with it or not, and if guests are willing to drop around $1000 per person for a 2-3 day experience.

You can see concept art for the possible hotel here; but I’d be much more interested in a Haunted Mansion hotel.  It’s more authentic, more Disneyesque, and more adult-oriented.  It would be a perfect place to stimulate the imagination . . .


Welcome the Bastard President



This whining, petulant man-child has been called many things, by celebrities, politicians and pundits alike:

Lord Voldemort — Rosie O’Donnell
Golden Wrecking Ball — Sarah Palin
Short-Fingered Vulgarian — Graydon Carter
Tiny Hands Trump, Babyfingers Trump and Pixie Fingers Trump — Michael R. Burch
The Most Fabulous Whiner — Chris Cuomo
Fuckface von Clownstick, Man-Baby, Comedy Entrapment and Unrepentant Narcissistic Asshole — Jon Stewart
The White Kanye ― Bill Maher
Trump of Doom — Michael R. Burch
Agent Orange         (A fuller list is here.)

They’re funny.  Satiric.  Rude.

But . . . not one just nails it perfectly.

In truth, this child is a bastard.

When he throws Twitter tantrums, remember, he’s a bastard.

When he mocks the disabled, remember, he’s a bastard.

When he slanders those who disagree with him, remember, he’s a bastard.

When he condemns the press for reporting on him, remember, he’s a bastard.

When he uses donor money to buy up mass quantities of his own book, which delivers cash back to his own pocket and violates FEC rules; when he refuses to rent apartments to blacks; when he is accused of sexual assault during the 1970s; when his business dealings are tied to the Mafia; when he is fined for breaking the rules in his casinos; when he refuses to pay his contractors and workers; when he declares bankruptcy, repeatedly, in an effort to avoid paying his bills; when he is sued and fined for antitrust violations while trying to get rid of casino competitors; when he wants to build a wall to keep out Mexicans, but but is found guilty of bringing in Polish workers to build Trump Tower; when he (allegedly) rapes his wife in anger…

He is a bastard.

This president was not born of American man and woman.  He was seeded by the semen of the Great American Bullshitter, and birthed from the womb of Mother Russia.  His silken diapers are filled with pyrite turds, and his mother’s milk is our hard-earned money.

He is a bully.  He is a crook.  He is a cheat.  He is a liar.  He is a traitor.

He is illegitimate.

He is the Bastard President.



Factual sources: The Atlantic and Huffington Post.

What I Missed in the ’70s

A few years ago, I realized that I had missed a lot in the 1970s.  I’m sure the jaded among you will say It was the drugs; but, I have to admit, I didn’t do drugs then, and the only drugs I do now are prescription.  (And I do enjoy wine, preferably red.)  Seriously, there are too many of my prescriptions for my tastes, but I do enjoy living, breathing, and this thing we term as reality.

[My real drug is books.  Novels.  Fiction.  I am an admitted biblioholic, and more power to my addiction.]

So, yes, I missed a lot during the seventies.  I eschewed rock and roll for books and movies.  Somehow, I was late to the party: when Escape From the Planet of the Apes came out, one of my best friends had to tell me about Planet of the Apes, and a sequel I had somehow never heard of, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and then I was hooked.  I always seem to be a few years late.

Somehow, during my senior year of high school, I missed seeing Three Days of the Condor during its first run in the theaters, or, as we say in the South, theeAYters.  41+ years later, I have no idea how or why I missed it.  Can’t remember.  A mystery to me.  But I realized this deficiency a couple of years ago, and read the novel upon which the film was based, Six Days of the Condor, by James Grady, which I got from the local library, a resource I urge you to use immediately.

Six Days of the Condor.  Great novel.  Emotional, hard-hitting, thrilling, commercial fiction.

Three Days of the Condor hasn’t come on TV for a few years, that I know of, so tonight I decided to see if it was On Demand through Comcast.

It was.

Good.  Really good.  The only drawback is one of the film’s quintessential charms: the ending.  It kind of leaves you hanging.  But that’s okay; with the movie’s storyline, it works.

So it only took me 40+ years to see it.  Next up: The Midnight Man, The Black Windmill, Duffy, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Cannibal Girls, Get Carter, Zardoz (for the xth time, but it’s wonderful) and Klute.  There are so many more, but these are the ones on my current list.

Movie party, anyone?



You Can’t Buy This Book


This magnificently-produced book is a work of both satire and parody.  It’s rude, it’s crude, it’s dead-on, and it’s hilarious.  It’s funny in the same ways National Lampoon, at its finest, used to be funny.


And you can’t buy it now, because the publisher took it off the market.

Here’s the whole story.  Basically, a writer over at BookRiot took offense at some of the artwork and captions, then wrote a damning piece on the site calling the book racist and unfunny.  At first the publisher defended the book and its irreverent sense of humor, but the author insisted that they cease publication and pull the book off the shelves.

My personal favorite.  Falwell would be proud.
My personal favorite. Falwell would be proud.

I think that was a huge mistake.  The book got 15 minutes of publicity when it happened, and a few more copies were sold, but humor always sells when it’s controversial.  In many ways I think the aggregate American sense of humor has wimped out since the heydays of Lampoon and SNL.  There was a richness and an anger that fueled comedy and made it unforgettable, and we’ve backtracked so far that the American public loves 2 Broke Girls, which is all sexual innuendoes but no real teeth, and today’s watered-down version of SNL, that makes polite fun but rarely takes a chance.


There is a secret of comedy that critics and reviewers tend to forget–or ignore–whenever they get their delicate sensitivities all caught up in a bunch: All comedy–every gag, every joke, every one-liner–makes fun of something.

That’s all it is; that’s the whole truth.  All comedy makes fun of something.

And that goes hand in hand with another secret of the best comedians and comic writers:

Nothing is sacred.  Not races, not religions; not children, not Trump, not you, and not me.

So, sorry Book Riot.  Bad Little Children’s Book is not only funny, but at times it’s hilarious.  It’s exactly what we need because it makes fun of cultural paradigms when “correctness” says we shouldn’t.  It’s up there with “My First Blowjob,” Bad Teacher and Blazing Saddles.  I urge you to order a copy online, and then get all three issues of American Bystander, the humor magazine that’s trying to fill the void National Lampoon left.


Remember: It’s only a joke.  They will kill you.