To paraphrase Charlie Crist, running against Rick Scott for governor of Florida, “I’m not a shrink but I can use my brain and talk to one” and mine prescribed a few days of R&R from my peculiar, soul-sucking fixation on American politics.
So it is that I’m unplugging, packing up my lovely bride and striking out for the territories in the All-American pursuit of happiness known as the VACAY!
Mind you, we’re only talking three days here, in which I’ll endeavor to clear my brain and heal my soul with gut-busting quantities of artisanal beer and otherwise forbidden fruit of the deep fried and sugar-laden variety. I’m hoping that a severely time-limited period of indulgence will prevent me from ending up like this:
Blog needs more dog. Here are a pair of boxers. Their serious expressions have nothing to do with the possibility that the US Congress now has a greater concentration of stupid than at any time since just prior to the Civil War. The thing that makes these zaftig doggies so solemn is CHEESE.
Speaking of stupid, I destroyed yet another broomstick this morning. I didn’t crash into a light pole on the way to the Leaky Cauldron; I was attempting to slay what I thought was a giant flying cockroach that I thought had alighted on the floor, in just about the same spot where the dogs would patiently await cheese in the above photo, which was taken later.
I launched into giant cockroach battle mode, which consists of grabbing a broom and swinging it at a lumbering insect in vicious, high-speed arcs, while screaming DIE! DIE! DIE!, then using the broom to sweep the carcass of the annihilated foe out onto the porch and then off into the yard.
But it turns out the thing I thought was a giant cockroach was just a giant cockroach-shaped piece of mulch that one of the dogs must have carried in on her feet or jowls. And I broke a broom over it. Damn. It’s possible I should update the prescription on my glasses.
Please feel free to discuss pets, pest control techniques, eyewear, the fact that a gunnysack of meth-snorting ferrets is more intelligent and rational than the neo-confederates in the US Congress or whatever.
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the product heating instructions your company provides on Qrunch Quinoa Burgers packaging and to beg you to alter it immediately. I attempted to enjoy a Qrunch Quinoa Burger for lunch a short while ago, and to describe the ensuing mess as a clusterfuck would be a disservice to both clusters and fucks.
When I first retrieved my package of Qrunch Quinoa Burgers from the freezer and consulted the instructions, I was very happy to see that it was possible to heat the patties in a toaster because I dislike the texture of microwaved food and was in too much of a hurry to use a skillet:
It never occurred to me that the photo of the toasted Qrunch Quinoa Burgers that illustrates your instructions was misleading. But it’s a filthy lie, employing as it does a half-scale replica of an actual toaster to lull overly credulous consumers into thinking they can safely toast their patties.
See how the patties in the picture extend well above the top of the toaster slot? In reality, Qrunch Quinoa Burgers disappear into the slot completely, coming to rest about an inch BELOW the top of the slot—even before the toast-lowering lever is engaged.
No matter, I thought, watching my patty disappear into the bowels of my toaster. I’ll just unplug the toaster after the toasting operation is complete, use a fork to retrieve my patty, and before you can say “Jack Robinson,” I’ll be enjoying my Qrunch Quinoa Burger.
Alas, I was entirely too optimistic! Here is what happened when I tried to retrieve my patty:
And then it got even worse, with the patty completely disintegrating in response to my frantic attempts to extract it from the toaster. Finally I had to turn the toaster over onto its side to leverage gravity. The result was an eviscerated patty adulterated by random toaster shakings. Worse yet, IT WAS STILL COLD, even though I’d followed the instructions and run two cycles:
I’m not blaming you for the fact that it has clearly been too long since I’ve cleaned my toaster. I’m not even expecting an apology or recompense. I’m just begging you, in the name of corporate good citizenship, to change the heating instructions copy on your packages and spare other consumers the pain, disillusionment and toaster wreckage I’ve suffered today.
You can either remove the toaster suggestion completely or alter it to alert consumers that they’ll need to use a special miniature Qrunch Quinoa Burger toaster and THREE heating cycles. I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.
I had to run out at lunch time because there was nothing to eat in the house (well, nothing we wanted to eat), and I had a hankering for this Middle Eastern restaurant that puts some sort of addictive agent in the tabouli that makes you crave it fortnightly. My teenage daughter is flopping around the house for another month until school starts, and having never developed a tabouli addiction, she thinks a certain crappy sandwich from a crappy chain co-located with the local fuel emporium is haute cuisine and demands it weekly.
In an effort to accommodate her while also securing my tabouli fix—all within the space of half an hour so I could return home to conduct business—I hatched a plan: I would phone in my take-out order at the Middle Eastern joint, visit the drive-through ATM at the bank to obtain cash for my daughter, drop her off at the sandwich/gas station with cash so she could place her order and pay for it, swing by and pick up my lunch, then retrieve my daughter and go home to eat.
Well, of course they would be repaving the drive-through lanes at the bank, so we couldn’t just swoop through for the cash. I parked and walked up to the wall-mounted ATM outside the bank, probably for the first time in years.
There were three people ahead of me in line. We all waited a polite distance from the elderly lady who was actually at the ATM. The poor thing was clearly flummoxed by the sorcery required to get the machine to dispense money. I’m guessing she usually deals with the tellers in the drive-through bank with their quaint pneumatic tubes but was unable to access their services due to the repaving.
She inserted her card and tried to operate the touch screen from the keypad. She retrieved her card and reinserted it. She made bewildered noises and tapped her foot and randomly pressed buttons, each time ejecting and reinserting the card. Those of us in queue were willing to help, I think, but there’s an etiquette involved in ATM interactions among strangers, so we couldn’t just walk up to the secret screen, could we? I would have totally helped if she’d asked.
Tick-tock-tick-tock. Finally, I decided, awfuckit, I’d just go into the gas station/sandwich counter with the kid, pay for her damn lunch with my debit card and then go to the Middle Eastern place and pay for my tabouli with my card. So off we went. Luckily, there were only two people ahead of us at the sandwich counter. But when the woman right before us prepared to give her order, my heart sank as I saw her consult a clutch of sticky-notes affixed to separate piles of bills.
She was apparently ordering lunch for several people in her office, inspired by a combo coupon. There was much confusion around which items were actually eligible for the discount, and as she questioned the sandwich maker about it, I stifled the urge to offer to buy lunch for her entire goddamn office if she’d just make a fucking coherent fucking order already. Fuck!
When that crisis passed and the sandwiches were being assembled, the focus turned to individual preferences for sandwich toppings – preferences that struck us as insanely precise. For example, on one sandwich, mayonnaise was to be applied only to the side of the bread that was not touching cheese. On another six-inch sandwich, mustard was to be included only on a three-inch segment since two coworkers were splitting that one.
Once these instructions were carried out in precise detail and each sandwich was bagged, each had to be rung up and paid for separately, with change from every order deposited in separate compartments of the woman’s cavernous purse. In one case, a hefty percentage of the total price was to be paid in pennies, and she came up short, so she had to put that one on her personal credit card. I bet the orderer is STILL catching hell for it.
Finally, we ordered our one puny sandwich, paid and got the hell out of there. I joked to my daughter to look for the old lady at the ATM as we passed to see if she was still trying to extract money. She wasn’t at the ATM, but she was at the cash register of the Middle Eastern place, trying to figure out what to order. While we waited behind her to get our take-out, she asked the man behind the counter to explain what “kofta” is, expound on the ingredients in falafel and enlighten her on the mysteries of the rotating gyro log. Ultimately, she decided to take a menu and leave without ordering anything.
Outwardly, I was polite and impassive, but inwardly, I was seething with rage and impatience. Then I realized how stupid that was. I recalled a funny paragraph from “Cloud Atlas” from a character who experiences a forced exile from his past life:
“We—by whom I mean anyone over sixty—commit two offenses just by existing. One is Lack of Velocity. We drive too slowly, walk too slowly, talk too slowly. The world will do business with dictators, perverts, and drug barons of all stripes, but being slowed down it cannot abide. Our second offence is being Everyman’s memento mori. The world can only get comfy in shiny-eyed denial if we are out of sight.”
I was in a hurry, but that was my problem, not anyone else’s. The sandwich lady probably drew the short straw to place that asshole order for her office, was ordered to do so by an oppressive dick of a boss or was kind enough to take on such an obnoxious and thankless task out of the goodness of her heart.
The old lady at the ATM and House of Tabouli was just trying to figure things out. There’s no law requiring her to do so on my timetable. From now on, I’m just going to chill the fuck out about it. I hope.
*Yes, I know that translates into Rage Against the Automatic Teller Machine Machine. Work with me here.
I usually don’t attempt emulsification prior to 10 AM, but I made a smashing hollandaise sauce this morning:
It was a simple recipe: 4 egg yolks, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a stick of melted butter, white pepper, cayenne pepper and salt.
Then I toasted some thick slices of Italian bread, topped them with some slices of Ukrainian purple tomatoes from our garden, topped that with eggs over easy, ladled hollandaise sauce over it and sprinkled it with smoked paprika:
Definitely not a heart healthy breakfast, but we’re patching a floor and laying tile today, so we need the fuel.
I took y’all’s advice and cancelled the Christmas soirees due to illness. Actually, my husband called people and told them I was down with possibly the flu. A few people turned up anyway, but they were forewarned, so if they get the crud, it’s not my fault.
From what I hear, this nasty virus is laying people low nationwide. I feel a little better today, but still shaky. I’ve been piled up on the sofa since Saturday. Thank god for Roku. I’ve watched a ton of movies plus a couple of seasons of Julia Child’s “The French Chef” from the 1960s.
My dogs joined me on our L-shaped couch, mimicking my burrowing behavior with whatever blankets and throws they could steal from my nest. These glowing green eyes have haunted my fever-wracked dreams:
I went ahead and cooked a ginormous standing rib roast that I already had on hand, but I haven’t tried it yet. My husband says it’s good. I usually make French onion soup with roast leftovers, which I plan to do this time as well. But now I’ve got tons of leftovers. Any suggestions?
I hope you all had a nice holiday. Please discuss whatever!
I approach the story of the demise of Hostess Brands with some trepidation because I am just not a fan of their foodstuffs. It’s not the food I was raised on. It’s not that I never ate Twinkies or Wonder Bread—I’ve eaten them. But I come from the land of TastyKake and Amoroso rolls. A Twinkie is like nothing compared to even a Butterscotch Krimpet. Please! Can Wonder Bread contain the glory that is a cheesesteak or a meatball sub?
No. These just aren’t the foods of my youth, and although I understand the nostalgia other people may have for them, their feeling of loss is not mine. And these days, unless I have the opportunity to eat some freaking great pizza, I’m not all that that hot on gluten, anyway. Or, for that matter, mass-produced baked goods that contain petroleum products. But leaving aside my developing consciousness about factory foods, how they are made possible by factory farming, and how we’ve come to accept highly refined chemical products as ingredients in our foods with little regard to how it impacts our bodies (whew, am I a freaking killjoy, or what?), the story of the supposed death of Twinkie the Kid is probably premature and more a story about (cake) makers and (money) takers.
If you were to ask the owners of Hostess Brands, they would have you believe that the union (read: the people who make the bread, cakes, etc.) are to blame for the demise of the company, due to a strike that impaired the company’s profitability*. The actual story is a bit more complex than that—and a good take on it is found at Forbes:
Hostess has been sold at least three times since the 1980s, racking up debt and shedding profitable assets along the way with each successive merger. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and again in 2011. Little thought was given to the line of products, which, frankly, began to seem a bit dated in the age of the gourmet cupcake. (100 calorieTwinkie Bites? When was the last time you enteredMagnolia Bakery and asked about the calorie count?)
As if all this were not enough, Hostess Brands’ management gave themselves several raises, all the while complaining that the workers who actually produced the products that made the firm what money it did earn were grossly overpaid relative to the company’s increasingly dismal financial position.
In other words, while the employees were in the business of making the products (and they actually did make compensation concessions in previous rounds), the management took. They rewarded themselves for failure. And in the long run, the employees are the ones out of a job.
And yet the brand names or properties of “Twinkies” or “Wonder Bread” still have saleable value. Other companies will compete for the rights to make those products, and they probably will be manufactured outside of the United States and shipped all over the world. And for some reason, they will sell. People will buy them. As if nothing had happened.
Lesson: employees are disposable, managers should be paid regardless of performance, and Twinkies are immortal (even if their indefinite shelf life is an urban legend).
Is that the way it should be? Meh. It is the way it is. I’m ready for “Occupy Cake”. Make your own Twinkies and Wonder-like bread at home, if that’s what you like. Or patronize your local bakeries. (Or even discover the gustatory wonders of your local loam; motto “Locavore, locavore, locavore”—Washington apples like a baby’s head. Cranberry preserves on cheese from a dairy farm near you. Honey complete with comb in a clean little jar from your nearest co-op. Figs from your own tree, crepes from eggs whose chickens you have personally met.)
I know that isn’t a possibility for everybody owing to availability and price issues. But it would be neat if the business model Hostess followed was eaten out of house and home.
*NB: A strike actually is supposed to impair the profitability of a company, to smack the management over the head with the realization of who actually does the heavy lifting around here. This smack came too late for Hostess. Just a thing to chew over.
We’ve been discussing the rich wingnut assholes who promised to Go Galt or retaliate against their employees or customers in some way if President Obama was reelected. The ranks of these entitled pricks include Papa John (Romney bundler and maker of crappy pizza), that asshole coal company owner (who first forced his miners to appear at a Romney rally and then laid off a bunch of them after the election in a fit of pique), and the Florida timeshare mogul and personal palace builder who plagiarized a threatening anti-Obama chain letter and then failed to follow through on his mass layoff threat (so far).
But this John Metz character is arguably the biggest asshole of all because he’s leveling his fire at the most powerless employees in his personal fiefdom: servers at his Florida Dairy Queen, Denny’s and Hurricane Bar & Grill restaurants. Via Gawker by way of HuffPo:
John Metz said he will add a 5 percent surcharge to customers’ bills to offset what he said are the increased costs of Obamacare, along with reducing his employees’ hours.
“If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare,” Metz told The Huffington Post.
Metz had plenty of choices if he wanted to express his displeasure with KenyanSocialistCare. He could have gone the Papa John route and announced in a huff that he would be raising prices on his crappy food. He could have threatened to lay people off but punked out after the election like the dodgy timeshare guy or actually followed through on the threat like the coal company asshole. But what Metz has done is perhaps even more despicable: He’s encouraging customers to lower the income of people who are probably already barely scraping by. What a dick!
Here’s the thing, though: While servers might seemingly have little power compared to muckety-mucks in the food service industry, they are frequently in control of the actual food, at least for brief periods of time. I used to be a server back in the day. I’m not proud of it, but I confess I horked a loogie on a plate or two. Always under extreme provocation, mind you.
I had server friends who did even worse. One young waiter of my acquaintance expressed his displeasure with a particularly irksome customer by removing her prime rib from the plate with a fork and dragging it around the rim of the horrendously dirty employee toilet while we, his coworkers, laughed and hooted. Then he placed it back on the plate next to the baked potato and sprig of parsley and served it.
I’m not saying this is right or proper. It’s just the way it is. The “powerless” find ways to strike back. I don’t know whether or not Metz eats at his own restaurants, but he might get more than Moons over his Hammy next time he’s at Denny’s. And it wouldn’t surprise me if wait staff at more upscale joints decided to shake a few drops in Metz’s bisque in solidarity should he seek sustenance elsewhere. It’s just a bad idea to fuck with servers.
My backyard chicken project finally paid off: an egg! The hen who laid it, Dorito (pictured below), had not been selected by any of us in the first-layer pool, so through random selection my husband got to eat the first hen fruit, which he reported as delicious!
In retrospect, Dorito should have been an obvious pick in the pool as her comb and neck dooly-bobs are more developed than those of her peers. Stupidly, we all went with other indicators, like overall size or fondness for hanging out in the nest boxes.
We know who laid the first egg because we heard squawking, which my daughter went out to investigate. She then saw Dorito exiting the henhouse and found the still-very-warm egg, which she bore triumphantly to the kitchen.
That was midweek. Yesterday was the kiddo’s birthday, and she had requested last week that I take the day off so I could chauffeur and chaperone her and a friend to the Batman movie premiere (matinee, not midnight showing).
Despite receiving the news of the carnage in Colorado shortly after waking up, we decided to go to the Batman premiere anyway. We figured any would-be copycats would have to wait until the local gun shops and militia gear purveyors opened at nine o’clock and that it would take some time – even in Florida – to assemble the requisite high-capacity magazines, select a target, etc., so 11 a.m. moviegoers would be relatively safe.
And we were. The kids enjoyed the movie. My verdict: meh. Anne Hathaway is a good Catwoman, but she was the only bright spot as far as I’m concerned. I think the film was trying to make some half-baked point about the Occupy movement a time or two – a point that Rush Limbaugh could sympathize with if he weren’t focused on ginning up dumb outrage over the use of the name “Bane” for the villain.
Anyway, maybe I’m just shallow, but I enjoyed “The Avengers” a lot more.
Speaking of Kaplan hacks, Kathleen Parker wants you to know that Ann Romney’s dressage horses are actually elaborately upholstered, living physical therapy appliances, rather than impossibly expensive playthings for a useless rich lady. Therefore, if you have a problem with the Romneys’ deducting more than you made last year for expenses associated with their part ownership of a fancy dancing horse, you’re a bad person who probably finds the sight of orphans on crutches and in wheelchairs hilarious.
Why this war on success, you guys? Parker really wants to know:
And why this war on success? People who are struggling through rough economic times didn’t suddenly become stupid, and surely most see through this absurd, sustained attack on the Romneys, whose only apparent sin is having been successful.
Romney’s opponents seem to be aghast that he has made money for investors (aren’t we all investors?) [uh, no, you idiotic, out-of-touch fuck, no…—ed.], though they studiously ignore other greed-less facts: He never took a dime in salary for heading the Olympics in Salt Lake City nor as governor of Massachusetts, to mention a couple.
Jesus god, really? How did the Romneys manage to feed themselves, their livestock and the Mini-Mitts without the Olympics and gubernatorial salaries? Oh right, they were already gazillionaires before Mittens got those gigs, which were essentially rich dude hobby jobs. Parker somehow forgot to mention that Mittens claims he didn’t inherit any money from his father either, which makes him a Self-Made Man. I’m sure the fact that his father was a multimillionaire CEO of General American Motors and governor of Michigan didn’t grease the skids for the Marquis de Mittens a bit.
We’ll soon get to test Parker’s theory about the plebes’ ability to see through “absurd, sustained attacks,” alright. But rather than discerning if the manifestly out-of-touch, fuck-you rich Romneys are indeed manifestly out-of-touch, fuck-you rich people, the plebes will demonstrate whether they’re capable withstanding the tsunami of bullshit Rove & Co. will funnel through their TV screens shortly.
This fall will witness the ultimate test of the American people’s gullibility as we see if unfettered SuperPAC cash can sell Little Lord Fontleromney as a bootstrapped businessman and cast a moderate president who continued the bank bailouts and attempted to reform the private insurance industry as a Kenyan commie. The obscene gobs of cash necessary to fund this test are being raised right now by the Romneys’ fellow out-of-touch, fuck-you rich people.
And more than an election is on the line: The slender moorings that link things we call “words” to their corresponding concepts will be tested as well. I’m not all that optimistic. Rove was able to sell a not-so-bright, daddy-supported ex-cheerleader and serial fuck-up as an unassuming cowpoke, and that was before he had unlimited KochBucks at his disposal.
However, Parker ends her column on a more optimistic note, hoping that if Ann Romney becomes First Lady, she’ll use her influence to prevent retired horses from becoming “circus or zoo meat.” A worthy goal indeed. But by widening the wealth inequality gap even further, Mrs. Romney’s hubby might inadvertently direct that sad protein elsewhere. Romney-Ryan 2012: A Horse in Every Pot!
Delighting Customers for Christ
Downsizing the Devil with Jesus
Paradigm Shift to Salvation
Getting Granular in Gethsemane
Synergy, Not Sin
I feel certain I’m overlooking low-hanging fruit and that y’all will push the envelope with value-added propositions.
In other news, I’m starting to feel like Tippi Hedren: In addition to dealing with the chickens, now I have a pair of turtle doves to contend with. They took up residence in a hanging basket under the overhang of our tiki bar.
We recently knocked down an old, dilapidated shed in our backyard, and my husband is longing to fill that corner of the lot with something. (The man cannot abide a bare space in the yard.) He thinks we should build a coop and raise a flock of backyard chickens.
I’m not completely averse to the idea, but I suspect it’ll be a lot more of a hassle than we anticipate and that the drudgery involved will fall disproportionately on me. Actually, I think I have a much more realistic view of what it will entail than my city-boy spouse since I spent some of my childhood on a small farm with a flock of 30 or so chickens.
My memories of the chickens are mostly positive except for a couple of mean roosters. And also my father occasionally twisting one of the chicken’s heads off and making my sister and me pluck it for Sunday dinner. (We would both spend years as vegetarians thanks to that and an incident involving a cow we raised [Ferdinand] that was later converted into what my father referred to as “Ferdburgers.”)
Anyhoo, any chickens we purchase in the future will meet a happier fate than the chickens in my past, as we intend to add them to the mix strictly as egg producers and pets (and hens only, so no mean roosters). Still, I’m not entirely convinced it’s a good idea. In an effort to get me on board, my husband pointed out that we do something stupid every seven years, as if that were a convincing argument in the “pro” column.
We do something stupid far more often, of course, but he’s kind of right about the pattern of making possibly dumb decisions with far-reaching implications every seven years or so (getting married, reproducing, moving to the boonies, etc.).
So, does anyone have any experience with backyard chickens?
A Buckinghamshire town is due to hold what is thought to be the world’s oldest pancake race later.
The race in Olney dates back to 1445 and is believed to have begun with a towns woman arriving late for the Shriving service at the parish church.
The 24 female competitors will run the race wearing aprons and headscarves and carrying a frying pan with a pancake.
The winner, on crossing the line, is greeted by the verger with the traditional kiss of peace.
“Ladies from the town race from the Market Square to the church in memory of a town cook,” race organiser Ian Ford said.
“The story goes that on hearing the shriving bell, calling everyone to the church service, she ran out of the house clutching her frying pan and still wearing her apron.”
Pancakes. Domestic drudgery. Prescriptive gender roles. Cosiplay. Sexual subjugation by religious authority figures. Shriving. All human life is here. You thought Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a comedy show? It was a documentary.