Episodic stories of fantasy and science fiction.

Category: Personal

Personal blog and writings

Japanese Curry Rice

If there’s one thing we all hate, it’s the long story before a recipe. That will not happen here. BEHOLD! The recipe we will be making today!

Ingredients:

  • Sesame Oil
  • 2 regular carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 1 medium potato, chopped into chunks
  • Half an onion, diced
  • Umami spices
  • Water
  • Japanese curry roux
  • 1 square of chocolate
  • Hot honey, or regular honey and chili powder
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 serving of whatever cooked protein you choose

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat about 3 tablespoons of sesame oil.
  2. Once hot, add onions, carrots, and potatoes.
  3. Add about 2 tablespoons of umami spice and mix generously.
  4. Once onions brown and become translucent, add about 8 cups of water and bring to boil
  5. Add the curry roux. This will vary based on brand, but about 2 full large squares is the norm.
  6. Add square of chocolate and about a tablespoon of hot honey
  7. Stir generously until curry roux is fully incorporated
  8. Plate cooked rice on half the plate, and cooked protein on the other half
  9. Scoop curry and cover the protein
  10. Eat while nice and hot

Story

So, I never liked curry. This started when I had a job at Pei Wei and thought I just didn’t like their Coconut Curry dish, because I didn’t like coconut. But I then tried Indian curry at several reputably good restaurants and came to the conclusion I just don’t like curry.

This was my life for a long time, and while I often gave it a chance, I eventually just stopped even trying curry at all. That is until Pokemon Sword and Shield. Yeah. I learned to make this dish because of a video game. Sue me.

The game just made this curry rice dish look so good.

The minigame was simple, but I knew making Japanese curry rice had to be more complicated in real life. And I never liked curry before, so why would I even try to make it? That thought changed though. Playing the game created a mere-exposure effect and soon I became very curious about the dish.

Eventually, a Japanese curry rice place opened down the street from me. After playing this game so much, I decided to at least try it. And you know what? It was good. It was really good.

Now, to be fair, Japanese curry is different from Indian curry. It tends to be sweeter, made with apple and citrus flavors, but it’s by no means overwhelmingly sweet. It’s still very recognizable as curry. Some types of Japanese curry rice use less or no tumeric, which is a spice I don’t particularly like and its absence likely contributes to my love of this dish.

Eventually, eating the dish at the restaurant was getting to be too much. My partner and I couldn’t spend that kind of money on it so often. But looking online, something that was regularly repeated was that curry rice was really easy to make. In fact, even restaurants often used pre-packaged curry roux.

The most popular brands for the roux are Kokumaro, Vermont Curry, and Java Curry. There is another called Golden Curry that’s not the worst, but man the others are just so much better.

The upside to Golden Curry, is that it’s really easily available. I can find it at my normal grocery store, when I have to do a little work for the others. Even then, my local Asian market has most of the good stuff, and online retailers can deliver the required roux. I recommend trying each, and mix and matching between all of these, as you may find a flavor combination you like.

Kokumaro and Vermont curry are my preferred mix

Lastly, we have the level of spiciness. I personally recommend getting as hot as you can stand or find. I’ve had the spiciest versions of these and felt they were very tolerable, though at this time, I had issues finding spicier versions than what you see in the photo above.

I’ve made this with some fancy ingredients, like nicely made shrimp or some perfectly fried tofu. But I’m also a gremlin who likes to just make this stuff quick, so frozen protein is regularly used as well.

It’s become a regular meal for us here, and the best part is that it makes so frikkin much of it. Leftovers for days and we could honestly always eat it. It’s really easy to mix up the protein and spices so it’s also very versatile.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. The curry roux looks like chocolate. Do not bite into it expecting it to taste like it.
  2. The curry roux smells delicious. Do not bite into it without diluting it with water.
  3. The recipe makes a lot. You’ll have plenty of leftovers, so make sure you have containers that can store it all.

Let me know if you make it and how your version comes out!

Love you all,

-Ben Acosta, The Author

Life Updates, a New Endeavor, and Leaving Facebook

Hello random people who decided to read this!

I plan to use this blog to update people on Munerra and I, but also share my thoughts on news and pop culture. and really anything else.

If you want to receive emails when I update just for my life blog, click here to sign up for the newsletter. You’ll only receive 1 email a week, and hopefully that can keep you in touch on what’s happening with me.

So, updates: At the moment, Munerra and I are planning to move in with my parents temporarily to save money to buy a house. We’ll be getting a storage unit for most of our stuff this weekend, and slowly move a bunch of things in there. Our lease isn’t up until the end of November, so we can take our time.

Part of this plan meant cleaning out my parents’ garage for space for Munerra’s workout equipment. This was a pretty rewarding project that took it from looking like this:

To something a little more manageable.

A much cleaner garage
Holy cow, you can park another car in there!

There’s still a bit more work to be done in there, but we’re really proud of the work we’ve been able to do. Between this and the storage unit, our stuff should just be able to fit. Only just. Hopefully.

Our plan to get married next year is still on, but whether or not we’ll have the full ceremony we were planning is up in the air. If things aren’t looking a lot better in the next month or two, we’ll likely cancel, and have a courthouse wedding. Reception would happen at a future point in time, probably when it’s safe, possibly at the new house we plan to get.

Munerra has incorporated her business, and is working on the prototype for her product, so we’re super excited about that. You can follow her progress and get news about her ‘athleisure’ line when it launches by following her Instagram.

As for me, I’ve been keeping busy with my job, my side job, and maintaining this writing blog. Episodes should be starting again next week, so please read if you want to support me.

That’s about all I have for our lives. Now for the real reason you’re here.

You’re likely wondering why I’m deleting my Facebook. The honest truth is that I planned to for a while. Pretty much every social media company is terrible, and escaping their clutches online is difficult. Facebook is the biggest offender by far, but has also made it really easy to connect with other people and because of that, really difficult to avoid.

On a less serious note, Facebook’s excessive lies about video performance on the site helped lead to the current crumbling of popular internet comedy websites I enjoyed, which you know, sure. Not great.

More importantly, all the content generated by users also means a lot of really bad shit happens on the site too. Sure, you probably want to avoid political arguments with family members, which can be draining. But I’m talking about other things. Situations like the Cambridge Analytica scandal are where Facebook’s system of engagement and information harvesting can backfire on society. Which is bad, sure. But even then, it can still get worse.

The straw that ended up breaking my back on this was a recent episode of a podcast called Behind the Bastards. In it, they talk about violence and genocides that are exacerbated by groups weaponizing Facebook, made even easier by the fact that Facebook practically is the internet in many nations.

While plenty of social media companies are used for this kind of thing, most companies will apologize, make some vague attempt at addressing the issue, and move on. Facebook doesn’t even do that.

When Gambia sought to hold Myanmar accountable for genocide, and requested evidence from social media companies, Twitter offered up the information. Meanwhile, Facebook just refuses. They can’t even pretend to care. If you think Google is bad about a hands off approach to content moderation, you haven’t got a clue what Facebook is, or rather, isn’t doing.

Their content moderation teams are so small, and suffer so much psychological torture with little to no help from the parent company. Facebook doesn’t care how much they hurt other people and can’t even pretend.

At the moment, I’ll be deleting my Facebook account, and in time, the account of any service connected to Facebook. Instagram will be gone soon, as well as Whatsapp.

I hope you’ll join me in doing the same.

– Ben Acosta, The Author

Blog: Madison

It’s been four years since we lost you. It’s been four years and three days since I last saw you. It’s been four years minus two days since I found out I wouldn’t be seeing you again.

It hurts. In times of loneliness, it hurts more. Despite the happy things I’ve been able to do and achieve, there’s still something that hurts all the same.

I’m torn between notions. At one extreme, people would agree it wasn’t my fault. I was no where near you when it happened. You didn’t do it because of anything I did. Hell, I probably wasn’t even on your mind the day the disease took you.

At another, could you argue that there wasn’t anyone that could have done anything? If someone had been there. If they had called right then. Some kind of chaos butterfly effect that would have changed the outcome.

And if something could have been done, why couldn’t I have been the one? I knew. I suffered the same.

What could I have done for you? What can I do for you?

I know why. I logically know why. But in my own sickness, I can’t help but ask. I can’t help but wonder. I can’t help but want you here today.

I know why you’re gone. It’s because a disease took you.

I know why you’re gone. Mental healthcare is difficult.

I know why you’re gone.

And the best thing I can do for you is to stay here.

– Ben

(If you or someone you know suffers from depression, please reach out for help. There are online therapists and mental health professionals. The National Suicide Hotline has their phone number [1-800-273-8255] and even online chat.)

Blog: Endings, Death, and Beginnings

*This post will contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. Also, some talk about the new Sonic movie, which is super creepy, so you may want to avoid it for that reason.*

*You’ve been warned.*

So Sonic is getting a movie, eh? That trailer was, uh, certainly something?

I mean, I don’t know why we’re so surprised. The art for Sonic was leaked a while back, depicting the really creepy realistic look the movie was going for. I will maintain that the shot at the start of the trailer, looking at him head on is actually a good look.

Like, it’s actually kinda cool. It’s definitely not the normal Sonic design, but there’s enough elements you can tell what it’s meant to be.

However, this didn’t translate well in other angles. I would argue the eyebrows are a bigger part of the problem than people are talking about. That Sonic smirk has the physical shape of his eyes framing his eyebrows that without them, he looks wrong. That’s not to say there aren’t other problems. His proportions make him look like a child wearing a costume rather than an anthropomorphic hedgehog.

And then there’s the teeth…

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to the Detective Pikachu movie. While some were creeped out by the look of certain Pokemon in the film (I’m looking at you Mr. Mime. Or not looking at you, because you’re super creepy.), the look of Pikachu was really well done.

Part of that comes down to knowing what elements to keep and what elements to make realistic. While the fur might not be super popular in the Sonic trailer, it is an element that brings a sense of realism. I love the 3D game Sonic design, but if you put that smooth look next to humans, it really makes him stand out.

A good example was Sonic ’06.

The question about beastiality aside, part of why this didn’t work was the lack of consistency. They don’t look like they belong in the same universe, let alone the same game.

On one hand, I’m kinda happy that the director has announced that they have heard the feedback from the fans and will be changing Sonic’s design. The look he had was unacceptable. Sonic fans have been through a lot. While there have been some great Sonic games, Sega lacks the kind of quality control another company might have and a lot of bad games and ideas come through too.

On the other hand, we are six months away from release and they want to change the design of the main character. Holy shit. Do you know how much work the animators are going to have to do? Hollywood doesn’t have the best track record for treating anyone who isn’t an actor or director well, and VFX teams get the shaft for all the work they do.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the artists who worked on this film tried to give this feedback, but were ignored. The Sonic design from the trailer just reeks of too many people without any knowledge of animation giving their opinion.

If Sega and Paramount are reading this, treat your animators well. They deserve it.


This week on Game of Thrones, we got the fight of a lifetime. A massive 82 minute war for Winterfell. And holy shit, did it deliver.

That’s not necessarily a good thing though. While it was great to see Arya shank the Night King like a boss, having the big bad for the entire series be taken down in a single episode felt empty.

I’m firmly of the belief that if the books are ever finished, the Night King will be the final fight. The point of the books is how we pass on power. Whether someone takes it, earns it, how it changes you, how it affects those around you. But in the end, humans are petty. They’d rather fight for this meaningless throne, rather than face the reality, the mortal danger coming.

Hell, I wouldn’t put it past GRRM to end the series with everyone being slaughtered because they couldn’t get their shit together and put aside their differences to fight their common enemy. The fact Martin has said the White Walkers could represent climate change drives home this interpretation.

I’m sure by now you’ve read about the controversy surrounding Arya. Somehow, being trained to fight since season 1, and demonstrating her abilites over the last few seasons doesn’t qualify her as a well developed character.

I could honestly go the rest of my life never hearing the term “Mary Sue” again and be happy. It’s almost exclusively used now for misogynists to disguise their hatred of women in what they think is intellectual criticism. Which is extra frustrating, because there are criticisms to be made in some of these instances.

Arya had no real connection to the Night King. She came in and saved Bran at the last second. And again, my point about NK being confronted and killed in a single episode was so unsatisfying. But it’s also the nature of Game of Thrones. The show is built on either subverting the genre, or reminding you of proper repercussions of a character’s actions.

I’d have been a little more satisfied if we got a meaningful death. Jorah could maybe count, but honestly, he’s been looking to die defending Dany for way too long. I really thought Brienne or Jamie might bite it, but the showrunners know fans would revolt if Brienne died and Jamie needs to confront Cersei.

In the end, knowing the kind of money HBO has on this series, this was the only way for it to turn out. They can’t kill some of these characters until maybe the last episode, and they needed Dany’s army to have a real handicap against Cersei.

We’ll see how the next few episodes go.


Before we get started with Avengers: Endgame, I just want to say, I love this movie. It is one of, if not the best comic book movies, going above Spider-man 2 and The Dark Knight in my book.

That said, this TV spot is better than Avengers: Endgame itself. I love it so much.

I’m not crying! You’re crying!

Endgame represents a lot for me. I grew up reading Marvel comics. My uncle had given me a giant crate of The Marvel Saga, which was basically a Wikipedia of early Marvel stories.

But it worked. I read the abridged version of how the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The Hulk, Spider-man and more came to be. I spent my elementary school days telling friends I had the sorcerer powers of Doctor Strange. I imagined being able to shrink down and ride on an ant. Marvel was a playground of imagination.

I’m not going to pretend that reading comics made me lonely. That I was ostracized for my interests. I was ostracized for being a fucking weirdo. Seriously, little Ben had an imagination he couldn’t control which led to weird shit. Have my parents tell you some stories, and you’ll see why I was a loser growing up.

That said, it’s still so satisfying to see people know the name Tony Stark. That Rocket Raccoon can appear on screen next to Hawkeye and no one acts confused.

The moment in the movie that made me cry was the final battle. No, not the death of Tony Stark (we’ll get to that) or Steve Roger’s ride off into the sunset (we’ll get to that too), but just seeing Black Panther fighting alongside Thor, seeing the Guardians of the Galaxy teaming up with Doctor Strange, fighting Thanos and an army of mindless beasts for the fate of the universe… It touched me.

It was validation for the time I’ve spent in my head telling stories. It has brought me closer to people I would possibly have never met. I feel like these movies have made me a better person.

I know, it sounds corny. I was a completely different person when Iron Man hit the screen. In that time I had to learn the lesson that I need to be who I am, not who I’m supposed to be. (Shout out to Thor).

I will also say, I’ve been wrong. This is going to sound like heresy, but I didn’t necessarily agree with Robert Downey Jr. being cast as Tony Stark. He obviously did a great job in the role, but when everyone else is like “I can’t imagine anyone else as Tony Stark!” I just shrug. It’s like James Bond. It’s comic books. His look and characterization shift all the time.

But in my defiance, I missed something important. I didn’t give him credit for something he deserved. Despite my blase at him pretty much leaving the MCU for good, Downey did throw himself into that first movie, and paved the way for everything that came after. I’m sure at some point down the line, Disney and Marvel will revive Tony Stark, probably with a new actor in the role, but it won’t be the same.

It won’t be a man who had hit rock bottom and took a chance on his revival with an unproven studio, and a relatively unknown character.

And Downey deserves all the credit in the world for doing that.

The other half of this equation is Captain America. I’m not going to lie, as happy as I was that Cap got to ride into his sunset, I hated how it happened. It bugged me for so long. The movie spent so much time explaining their rules for time travel and creating new branching realities, that I couldn’t handle it, but I’ve had it explained in a way that makes sense now.

Still, I’m much more sad to see Chris Evans go. That man was a perfect Steve Rogers both on screen and off. Reading between the lines in interviews, you can see the kind of physical stress he was under for the role, but goddamn, was he perfect.

There are issues to be had with the movie. Other places can talk about them, probably better than I can, but I do want to make a quick mention about Black Widow.

I hated her send off. In the situation presented, it made sense, but she got a quick scene of Barton and Banner being sad and they were off. Tony Stark gets a massive funeral and send off, but Nat is shoved to the side. She deserved more. She deserved better.

Most of the women in Marvel deserve better, but you can find plenty of those across the internet. They’re right.

It’s been an exhausting week for pop culture, but this about covers just a few of my thoughts. Endgame by itself could probably have more, and maybe I’ll write those up sometime.

For now, thanks for reading. I appreciate it.

-Ben

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