Most Ridiculous Black Metal Pics

Well, it looks like this MonkeyFilter thing is working out already :). A thread yesterday points to RuthlessReviews’ Top 10 Most Ridiculous Black Metal Pics of All Time. Being a metal fan myself, I can laugh along with some of these pictures. It’s not uncommon for metal artists to attempt to appear ghoulish or macabre — which sometimes comes across well — but sometimes just looks silly ;).

Really, I think the commentary accompanying the photos may be the best part:

  • “This is some serioulsy shoddy corpse-paint on everybody…”
  • “What exactly is going on here? Is this the new WWF tag-team? […]”
  • And, my personal favorite, “Wait, are those suspenders? […]”

And, while the commentary is often on-point, I would have preferred that the author didn’t use “gay” to mean “bad” or “stupid” (as one of the comments put it). That aside, I think the metal world sometimes takes itself too seriously and some self-deprecating humor can be just the antidote needed.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” in Flash

I was reading my brother's blog entry about fat people on airlines and, curious about whether this had been discussed elsewhere, I was led to a post on MonkeyFilter about the cost of overweight people to airlines. And, not having heard of MonkeyFilter before, I checked out their main page…

And, in the spirit of Friday Flash Fun, someone had discovered a Flash slideshow based on Billy Joel’s pop hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Not that the original was brilliant in the first place (it was mostly a list, after all), but I can appreciate the effort put into finding 100+ images and timing those with the pace of the original song.

PS Can anyone enlighten me on “MonkeyFilter”? Their home page describes it as “a Metafilter clone, only with more bananas and less flinging”. Is that just hyperbole or is this site worth checking from time to time?

Don’t Bother With This Nutella Brownies Recipe

I enjoy some of the cooking shows on Food Network and one of the episodes of Sweet Dreams (a show on desserts) focused on just brownie recipes (w00t). And, rather than Gale (the host) coming up with her own recipes, she baked brownie recipes submitted by viewers. One in particular, the Peanut Butter-Hazelnut Brownies, caught my eye. Of course, the “hazelnut-chocolate spread” to which they refer in the recipe is really just Nutella.

That recipe sounded pretty good to me at the time and so I exported that episode from my TiVo to VHS for safekeeping. Then, when the December Cocktail Event/Holiday Party came up, I figured that I could put the recipe to good use. So, the weekend before, I bought all the ingredients which I didn’t already have — which was primarily flour, cocoa powder and Nutella. And, on Tuesday evening (the day before the party), I baked the brownies.

Per the instructions, I baked the brownies at 350° for 30 minutes and then I let them cool to room temperature before cutting. In my case, the brownies weren’t quite cool when I was heading for bed and so I left the cutting for the following day. Then, after work that next day, I proceeded to cut the brownies and place them into a rectangular Rubbermaid container for the party. And, as I am wont to do, I tried one to ensure that they turned out all right.

It was horrible.

Somehow, the brownie had completely dried up; I was actually so dry that I needed a glass of water to help wash it down. And, the peanut butter and Nutella flavors were nowhere to be seen. Figuring that maybe the outside edge had dried, I then tried a square cut from the center — no such luck, it was just as bad. I couldn’t even make it through eating the whole square and I ended up throwing out the batch. Of course, I still had to bring something to the party (“a snack or dessert”) and so I stopped by Super Target to buy some cookies from their bakery department.

Not to be discouraged, I recalled that the Dallas Camera Club’s Holiday Dinner was coming up (which was also a pot-luck) and I decided to try the recipe again. Fortunately, I had enough ingredients left over from the first attempt that I didn’t need to go back to the store. So, as before, I followed the recipe exactly but I baked the brownies for just 15 minutes this time, and added increments of 5 more minutes until a knife came out clean (for a total of about 23 minutes).

Of course, I had to allow the brownies to cool before cutting them and so I didn’t know right away whether I had succeeded. And, the following day, I sliced the brownies into squares and sampled one — it was distinctly moister but still a bit chalky. After rummaging through my cupboard, I found a legacy can of frosting (left from a former roommate) which I thought to try (Betty Crocker's “Rich & Creamy Mint Chocolate Chip”, fwiw).

The frostiing was a little hard to spread, right out of the can, but I nuked it for about 15 seconds which softened it up. And, I ended up using the whole can on the brownies’ 9x13 pan. I then sampled a square once more and found that this was reasonably all right. It wasn’t the best batch brownies I had ever had, but the frosting pushed them over the line from “bad” to “ok”.

Considering the ingredients, Nutella and peanut butter, I didn’t think I could go wrong. But, this recipe confounded me. I suppose can’t rule out that maybe my oven’s thermostat could be miscalibrated, though that wouldn’t explain the good results I’ve had with other baked goods. Anyhow, if you’re looking for a Nutella-based brownie recipe, I would try something else. And, if you can get this recipe to come out deliciously, then you’re a better man/woman than I.

Fixing That “Could not open lock file” Gallery Error

(Preface: Gallery is an open source tool for hosting photos on your website.)

So, suppose you upgrade your copy of Gallery to the latest version (1.4.4-pl4 as of this writing), you follow the upgrade instructions, re-run the configuration wizard and then you get a goofy error such as this:

Warning: fopen(/home/abischof/httpdocs/albums/2003/photos.dat.lock): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /home/abischof/httpdocs/gallery/platform/fs_unix.php on line 55

Error: Could not open lock file (/home/abischof/httpdocs/albums/2003/photos.dat.lock)!

Yeah, that happened to me. Fortunately, there’s a known workaround. As it turns out, it’s not Gallery’s fault if this occurs — it generally only happens if your web host mucks up your permissions while upgrading your PHP setup. The solution? Just set the permissions on every file in your “albums” directory to 777.

As noted in the workaround, this is fairly straightforward if you have shell access to your web host (just run “chmod -R 777 albums” from the parent directory). But, if you only have ftp access, then you’ll need to set each set “albums” to 777 manually; and, if your ftp client can’t recurse through directories, then you’ll need to manually hop through each directory within “albums” and manually set every file to 777. That should do it :).

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

I brought along some Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies to the LucciHouse Holiday Party last weekend and I thought I’d share the recipe here:

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies


  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar [I used Splenda instead]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter [I used creamy peanut butter instead]
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and peanut butter until smooth. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the dough out flat on the prepared pan.

  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops of the bars look dry. Cool in pan, then cut into squares.

I got the idea for blondies from a cookie run earlier that week — Leia and I walked to Eatzi’s to grab some cookies from their bakery section. In addition to a dozen peanut butter cookies, I also picked up a peanut butter blondie. It was pretty tasty and I pondered whether I could make some myself.

So, I checked AllRecipes’ cookie section and searched for blondie recipes. While there were a fair number of recipes for regular blondies, there were relatively few for peanut butter blondies (why, I have no idea). In addition to the recipe on which I decided, I also considered the recipe for Best Ever Chocolate-Free Blondies but I ruled that one out as I didn’t want to deal with peanut butter chips (at best they tend to resemble peanut butter).

I was pleased with how the blondies turned out, though their consistency was different than I had expected. The blondie which I had at Eatzi’s was fairly chewy but these were flaky in texture. Their texture was almost like that of a thick peanut-butter flavored sugar cookie. I’m curious whether swapping the sugar for Splenda, as I did, had any effect on their chewiness.