Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hey you! In the 3 Series!

No. Don't. Do not flash your high beams at me.

I see you back there. I know the car pool lane just ended. I know there's open freeway in front of me. Stop...stop flashing your high beams at me.

Look, this isn't the Autobahn. We don't do that stuff here. You're not late for a kaffeeklatsch in Dusseldorf. You're not having veal, spaetzle and a liter of beer for lunch today. You don't have any loose Deutschmarks in your ashtrays. And if you did, they'd be worthless since Germany's on the Euro now. You would know that, of course, if this was Germany and we were on the Autobahn right now. But it isn't and we're not, so stop flashing your high beams at me. You're not planning a weekend beach getaway to Calais. You're not a Bayern partisan.

Okay, fine, fine. I'm getting over. Don't flash your high beams at me.

Don't look to the right when you pass me. You don't need to study my face to see what kind of person slows you down in the morning. I'm not looking back at you. I already know what kind of person flash their high beams when they want to pass.

Why don't you undo the top button of your pima cotton polo shirt and relax, Guy in a Black 3 Series?

Monday, July 30, 2007

That Certain Part of the Male Anatomy

The dong, I mean. Watch any cable TV after 11pm and you'll likely see an ad for Extenze, which promises to add to "that certain part of the male anatomy." That's what they call it in the spots. Take this pill regularly and you'll have more dong, so sayeth the ad copy. In different words. Those words being, again, "That certain part of the male anatomy." No, not biceps, silly. That's from the spot, too. It's all pretty great.

Okay, listen, I'm going to help you out here. Clue you in a bit. Extenze doesn't work. It's not that I tried it and failed, it's just that if a pill could actually add on to that certain part of the male anatomy, whoever invented it would be worth approximately $4.12 billion. Guys at Costco would be stuffing 800-count double packs into their carts. Newsweek would run its first ever cover that was nothing but a throbbing erection next to a headline asking, "But Does 'It' Work? (The Answer is Yes!)"

A male-dominated state legislature somewhere would vote to have the drug added to the state's water system like fluoride. Eventually, The View would have a on a guest named "Mark L." from Lakeland, Florida. Mark would explain, through flowing tears, that he got started on Extenze and just couldn't stop. It was never enough for him. He wanted more, bigger. Now he has a 22-inch bone and no woman wants to be with him cause he's too much to handle. Also, he can't fit pants that fit. He has to wear track pants everywhere, even his brother's wedding. And the super sad kicker? He's still taking it! He can't quit! He wants to hit 30. Although if he could go into the past, he just wishes he never took that first pill.

Until those specific pieces of evidence start cropping up, I refuse to believe such a pill does anything.

Friday, July 27, 2007

California barbecue

Had lunch with Nikos today and Johnny today. Johnny with the white maid. (Incidentally, the Krog Blog was his title) Nikos is a born and bred Californian and those types are always a different style. They're never...committed to anyything. There's nothing tethering them to a greater community. No...shared foods or childhood traditions or...anything beyond collective apathy and occasional annoyance. White wine could possibly be the throughline, but Californian families don't give chardonnay to their 6-year olds, so even that bond is broken. Tacos...MAYBE. If there's an earthquake or the Lakers win a title, people come together for about two weeks, but then those bubbles fizz out like an oldCoke.

When you grow up on the East Coast or in the Midwest, many, many things foster that sense of community. That idea that we're all in this together. Lenten fish frys, scraping your windshield on a December morning eating white corn in the summer, scratching mosquito bites, watermelon on sale for 19 cents a pound, that 66 degree day in March that makes you think spring is early followed by three more inches of snow the next week. It's getting a little too precious and poetic in here, so lemme just say...all that shit we all go through together. It brings us all closer.

California just doesn't have it. If you do something two years in a row, that's enough to qualify as tradition. Do something five years in a row out here and you have a lineage to rival the Vatican. Do something ten years in a row and you don't live in California.

That brings us - eventually - to Nikos' lunch. He ordered the barbecue brisket. The sandwich, like any piece of barbecue, comes with cole slaw. When Johnny and I asked why his slaw was sitting there so virginally, Nikos noted that he doesn't like cole slaw. He thinks. And this - THIS! - perfectly sums up Californians and their utter lack of honor for tradition.

How do you even attempt to eat barbecue without cole slaw? The cool, sweet crispiness walking down the aisle with smoky, soft meat? My GOD do those things go together. Only a native Californian would eat a barbecue sandwich and leave the slaw untouched. If you were from Atlanta, you would eat the slaw even if you were allergic to mayonnaise. Even if you KNEW eating slaw guaranteed a date with the epi pen. Why? A respect for tradition.

I explained to Nikos that eating barbecue this way is like listening to all of your music in mono. So he tried the cole slaw, liked it, loved how it went with the sandwich and chomped away.

I'm sure by next week, he'll be back to ignoring the shreds. So Cali!

The problem here

With former FBI Director Robert Mueller's testimony basically totally contradicting that of Alberto Gonzales, the Senate Judiciary panel smells blood in the water. Impeachment? Perjury? Secret rendition to Egypt? What terrible fate awaits Gonzales, people wonder?

I think he's gonna walk. Because at the heart of this case, the panel will have to try to prove whether Gonzales is lying...or just dumb.

And Stephen Hawking using an iPhone wouldn't be able to figure out that one.

"Is Gonzales lying or dumb? Jesus. I...I have no idea. Why don't you ask me if God can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy he can't lift it instead? I could probably work through that one easier. Hey, did you know you can Google a nearby Moroccan restaurant on this thing and then make a res through OpenTable?"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wealth

My friend Johnny was so rich growing up that he had a white maid.

Branding

I have these smooth dark gray pants from Banana Republic that more or less rule. When I wear them, people are all like, "Damn. You look good." And I'm all like, "Cool, cool. It's the pants."

But there's one bit of weirdness about them. They have Banana Republic printed vertically on the inside zipper flap. Not on the outside where it would be weird but at least visible, but on the inside right next to the zipper teeth. When you zip up, you cover this bit of branding.

This is absolutely confounding me. Who is this branding for? Me? As a reminder when I'm throwing the pants in the washer? I already know where they're from and I can see the inside tag anyway.

The only thing I can think of is that it's for gay men about to give head. When they unzip the pants and see that logo, it's a signal that they've picked a knob attached to a man with impeccable taste and they can proceed to bob with peace of mind.

Oh no

Remember the screenplay I said I was working on earlier? The one about the retarded heroin addict going through rehab withdrawal? I finished it and was shopping it around and things were looking good, but now I think it's gone off the rails.

Samuel L. Jackson turned down the lead role and the the Rolling Stones refused to license a song for the big vomit scene.

I think those two rejections are the official sign your movie is dead.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Texas gold

Also in his big speech, Bush had the following illuminating quote: "There's a good reason they are called 'Al Qaeda in Iraq.' They are Al Qaeda. And they are in Iraq."

This reminds me of when Chinese President Hu Jintao came to the White House and Bush started off his press conference with something like, "China and America are two big countries separated by an ocean."

I know it got good publicity at the time as a kind gesture, but I still think it was a mistake for Bush to hire a 4th-grader as his chief speechwriter.
The man in charge of our country talks like a high school sophomore trying to give an oral book report when he didn't read the material. Ah, maybe he can just wing it!

Repetitive Repetition Is Repetitious

President Bush gave a speech yesterday on his favorite topic: how we're all going to die in a terrorist attack soon. In a desperate, flailing attempt to link bin Laden with the insurgency in Iraq, Bush said the words "al Qaeda" 95 times in a 29-minute speech. If you don't want to do the math, that means he said it just over three times a minute. THAT means he said it once every 20 seconds.

It's an effective techique. I now totally believe bin Laden has an apartment in Baghdad and has planned every single car bomb on his laptop. Sure, every terrorism expert in the country disagrees with Bush's claims and said he's either misinterpreting the data or outright lying - or, knowing him, both - but they probably didn't hear that last al Qaeda mention.

It's the 95th one that sealed the deal for me.

I just hate when he talks like we're dumb too.

The best part is...

In this ongoing U.S. attorney scandal, if you made a list of attorneys that actually deserve to be fired for incompetence, Alberto Gonzales would be at the top of the list in capital letters.

And he's the one guy Bush absolutely refuses to fire!

Ah...it's all so terrific sometimes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Graffito

About a mile from our house is a strip mall with two billboards looming over it. Early each month when the billboards are changed over must be like Christmas for the area taggers. The new ads are virginal for about two days until they're just totally tagged. I imagine if you went out there at the right time of night, you could watch about 20 teens in hooded sweatshirts and Dickies fighting and climbing over each other to scurry up the ladder first to get up there. Like ants covering a piece of cantaloupe. For all I know, they have their own cherry picker and set up cones to direct traffic around them.

If you live in a downtown loft, you see graffiti as the ultimate urban art. The last uncorrupted art form. A symbol of our constant struggle against the man. A rallying cry. A poor voice crying out for attention.

If you create lemon-lime soda ad campaigns for a living, you see graffiti as a great thing to co-opt in an attempt to make your brand street. When you work up a big thirst from tagging a building, dawg, keep it real and quench your thirst with a Sprite.

And if you own a home, you see graffiti as a terrifying sign that your house is now worth half what you paid for it and the bank will be taking it back soon.

Last week, somebody sprayed CMG in big black Arial on a residential wall around the corner from us. What it lacked in artistic flourish, it made up for with pure simplicity. I don't know if it was Carlton Michael Gaines or the Crazy Mallorca Gang responsible, but there it was. I immediately rushed out to Home Depot and bought the materials to build a moat and a 15-foot wall around our house to protect ourselves from the inevitable crime wave.

Happily, in only two days or so, the homeowner painted over the graffiti. This was probably one of the most ecstatic days of my life. I once again lived in a roomy house in a leafy suburb and not a shanty in the slum hills above Rio de Janiero.

Then, this morning, driving past the retaining wall that separates our yard from the street, I saw the scourge. Somebody had tagged our wall with the same black paint. I'm not sure what it says because I temporarily lost my vision in a panic. By this weekend, the farmer's market down the street will probably have converted into an open-air drug bazaar. I will sell you my house for $35,000 right now.

I...do not recall

U.S. Attorney General and famed intellectual Alberto Gonzales returned to Capitol Hill today for a second round of not testifying in any meaningful way. According to Mr. Gonzales' version of events, a group of rogue Justice employees got together and did something or other sometime in the past twenty years and he's learning about it at the same time we are. He really can't wait to see how this story wraps up. It's very exciting. Presumably, while the rogue were doing whatever it is they were doing, he was out personally investigating domestic terror cells, putting his ingenuity to use.

Congressional questions ranging from, "Did you ever discuss firing U.S. attorneys with your staff?" to "What did you have for lunch yesterday?" were met with various stammerings of "I...I don't recall at this time, but I'll be happy to look into it." and "I...I'm not...I'm not aware." It's all been quite enlightening, actually.

Seeing as how this administration has politicized everything else they've come in contact with, it's pretty obvious that they fired attorneys that weren't ideological enough. We have to stamp out porn, dammit! We CAN change human nature! The standard GOP defense of "U.S. Attorneys serve at the will of the President and besides, every President fires attorneys." is fairly weak, even by normal GOP false argument standards. I mean, they're so wrong here, they can't even invent a decent defense.

The only question remaining is does Gonzales know he's stuck and is pretending to be a stooge to avoid the hammer...or is he really an inept manager and idiot? I...would rather not ponder that one.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I am shopping at Costco!

This store is so big! Can you even believe how big this store is! Look at how big this shopping cart is! I'd better push it really slowly so it doesn't go out of control and knock over five gallons of mayonnaise. And it's so wide that I'd better push it right down the middle of the aisle to make sure I don't bump into the ends of the rows.

Whoa, whoa! I just took three steps in a row. I'd better stop here in the middle of the aisle and collect myself. Things are getting a little crazy! I almost walked at a normal pace!

Okay, now what do I want to buy today? I didn't come here with any specific plan, so let me stop outside of each aisle and scan it fully with my eyes before deciding to turn. Ooh! I want five pounds of Goldfish crackers. Let me leave my shopping cart right in the middle of the row so I can walk over and pick them up.

Oh hi, fellow shopper! I see you looking at the foodstuff that I'm standing directly in front of. I'll just be standing here for a few more moments and then you can grab it. Have a good day!

Okay, now I'm walking back down the main aisle. There are so many things to look at in this giant store! I really can't focus on it all. Thankfully I'm walking slowly enough to let it all sink in.

Oh! I just remembered that I want something at the total opposite end of the store. Well, lemme just whip my cart around as fast as I can without looking behind me! Whoa! There we go!

I am shopping at CostCo! I am the only person in the store! Whee!


Friday, July 20, 2007

Ravioli Levine

Maroon 5 : Music :: The Olive Garden : Italian food

***END TRANSMISSION***

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Loozeeanna

In the dental office, they have TVs over the chairs to distract people who are having pointed objects rammed into their gums at full speed. The TV above my chair was tuned to The View, perhaps to remind me that all pain was relative.

So Barbara mentioned Britney Spears' recent slapfight with her mama and now I'm blogging about Barbara Walters talking about Britney Spears and realizing that if this is all I have going for me, maybe it's time to run a hot bath and have a pill-eating contest. But I'll bravely press on!

Barbara was more or less flabbergasted that Britney has fallen so far, so fast. She used to be America's darling teenage slut and now she's this...this...MONSTROSITY! A celebrity! A rich person! Slapping her mother! It's all the talk of Barbara's brunch circles, one must imagine.

But, you see, becoming an incredibly wealthy celebrity doesn't somehow make one smarter. Britney is dumb and is staying dumb. That's certainly no revelation, but it seems to get lost in between the words celebrity and rich and Malibu and cigarettes. If Britney never became a pop tart, she'd be some hostess at a Chili's back in Louisiana, pregnant for the second time by one of the dishwashers.

She'd be a driving a red 1991 Honda Civic. The front right quarterpanel would be primer gray because she hit a lamppost one night and couldn't afford to have it fixed all the way. The radio would have a cassette player and cassette tapes would be strewn all over the backseat, hemming in the baby's carseat. She'd be late to work once a month because of car troubles. She would put Coca-Cola in her children's bottles. She would smoke Real brand cigarettes and buy them in CostCo in a convenient three-carton package. She would give out blowjobs like they were extra pieces of gum.

Picture that chick like that getting into a slapfight with her mother while both women are tipsy on Franzia and suddenly it's not so baffling to figure out how this happened.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Prisoner #7

Atlanta Falcons fans today are trying to wrap their heads around two incredible affronts to humanity. Michael Vick's indictment for a running a dog fighting ring and Joey Harrington being their starting quarterback. Both are unimaginably ugly spectacles best not discussed in mixed company.

Now, I'm no legal expert, but I think the biggest problem Vick will face in avoiding jail time is that he's exhausted any possible "But at least..." defenses. The progression from the first break of this story to today is basically...

"Okay, maybe there were a couple of loose dog fights on his property...but at least he wasn't living there most of the time."

"Okay, maybe he did live there most of the time...but at least it was mainly his cousins and friends running the fights."

"Okay, maybe he was highly involved in every aspect of the fights...but at least this wasn't some well-organized ring or anything."

"Okay, maybe it was a well-organized ring with its own name and company letterhead...but at least the dogs weren't illegally brought across state lines to fight."

"Okay, so maybe Michael Vick personally rented a U-Haul and picked up stray dogs across the country in the middle of the night to fight in his backyard...but at least the dogs were treated like valuable property."

"Okay, so maybe the police found about 30 dead dogs on the property...but at least it's a big piece of property."

"Okay, so maybe this big piece of property contains multiple buildings devoted solely to dog fighting and killing dogs...but at least Michael Vick didn't get his hands dirty."

"Okay, so maybe Vick personally executed dogs that lost fights...but at least he did it quickly and humanely."

"Okay, so maybe Michael Vick threw a dog in his above ground pool with a toaster and a high tension cable...but at least that was an isolated incident."

"Okay, so maybe Michael Vick grabbed a dog by its hind legs, lifted it high over his head and smashed it to the ground head first repeatedly until it was clobbered to death...but at least no probably illegal firearms were involved."

"Okay, so maybe Michael Vick took a pit bull that was too skinny, grabbed a gun, shoved it in a dog's mouth and blew its brains all over the lawn...but at least he didn't make a lot of money by fixing the fights."

Interestingly, mikevick.com doesn't have any news updates on the indictment. You'd think they'd have the inside scoop!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Congressman Vitter! Congressman Vitter!

It seems that the honorable David Vitter is admitting that he did indeed patronize some DC area prostitutes. Everybody else has already pointed out that Vitter is a fire-breathing anti-gay marriage ranter and that it seems that dipping your wick in a prostitute's cooch is a greater threat to the sanctity of marriage than Adam and Steve are. So I won't bother picking that low hanging fruit.

What I'm more interested in how Vitter can angrily deny claims that he also used New Orleans whores whenever he was back home polling the electorate. Poleing? Polling? Either way. It seems that Vitter finds this new allegation outrageously slanderous and ridiculous, which...seems to be swimming upstream a bit. How can he so adamantly deny this new claim, I'm wondering.

And then I remembered...for $75, Bayou pros will whip the shame right outta ya.

ESPN News

Sports journalism at its finest.

July 7
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2927560


July 17
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2940065

Beat 'Em Bucs!

Being from Pittsburgh, I like beer and Polacks and sports. That's...that's what we do. But unlike some complete masochists who love the burn of pain, I gave up on the Pirates long ago. They had one of the best pitchers in the NL in the '90s, Denny Neagle, and traded to him to Atlanta for prospects because they wouldn't be able to afford Neagle's next contract.

One of those prospects was Jason Schmidt, who grew up to be one of the best pitchers in the NL and then the Buccos had to trade him to San Francisco for prospects.

One of those prospects was Ryan Vogelsong, who grew up to suck at baseball.

As we all know, the Pirates last went to the playoffs and lost in 1992. Francisco Cabrera, Sid Bream and Barry Bonds know it well. Since then, their BEST season was the legendary 1997 campaign, when they went an impressive 79-83. They actually handed out rings to the team to celebrate. No diamonds. Big opals right in the center. Classy. Today, the folks at Bugs and Cranks made a video showing some of the things the world has seen since the last time the Pirates finished north of .500.

The most beautiful thing is realizing that 23 new professional sports franchises have been created since Stan Belinda let Bream take a lead halfway to third base...

...and seven of them have already won world championships.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Gingies!

Nikki and I somehow managed to bring a pale redhead into the world, much to our surprise. Since we are American parents and homeowners, on most weekends you will find us inside some store with a 20,000 square foot footprint, as legally mandated by the U.S. Department of Consumerism. Saturday, we had our cards punched at IKEA and Costco.

On these trips, we often see other parents with redheaded children. Sometimes one, sometimes a whole family with a color palette ranging from red to orange. I always feel like we should stop and talk to the other parents since we have the ginger bond. I try to make eye contact and loudly whisper, "Look, Abby! She has red hair too!"

But the other parents never stop to talk. They don't even look our way. What kind of bond is that? We need to be in this thing together!

Fred Thompson Is A Sexy Beast And Other Outright Lies

I know the GOP echo chamber can take any invented trope and ping it around until it's more or less accepted as fact, but in what alternate universe is Fred Thompson a manly hunk of carnal dreams? Let's ignore the gleaming bald pate festooned with liver spots, the bags under his eyes that bulge like a princess' cruise luggage and the likeliness that his breath reeks of an unwithering combination of brandy, worcestershire sauce, cigar smoke and 43-year old Orange County pink.

Actually, let's not ignore any of that since it's the crux of this post. Ladies, can you really say that you greatly desire this pile of flesh thrusting away on top of you, sweating glistening on top of his head, neck wattle flinging back and forth in opposite rhythm of his masculine pounding? You're intrigued by the idea of hearing his joints crack as he sits up, his breasts flapping and then watching his concave ass shuffle over to the kitchen to grab some orange Gatorade, rapidly deflating windsock shining in the light of the refrigerator? I am not fooled, partyliners.

The only thing holding back Fred Thompson from officially entering the circus is his team's frantic backroom negotiations trying to ensure that the GOP debates aren't aired in hi-def. Fred Thompson's acting career rivals John Grisham's writing for breadth. He exclusively plays a politician, lawyer or cop. But you know what role Fred Thompson could never pull off? Attractive Man #1.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The GOP Dichotomy

Republicans seem to hate gay marriage.

They also seem to love voting for big masculine men with huge throbbing boners. Masculine sex idols like Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani that every woman desires. A real man's man! Someone who can bale hay and isn't afraid of a little nuclear fallout! Someone who only needs a rifle, one bullet and a good sightline to protect the house from a burglar in the middle of the night! "Protect us, Daddy! A bad man is scaring us!" Someone who will give you the best rogering of your life before filing your phone number in the garbage can.

Such a display of bravura testosterone was last seen in the Republican debate a month back when a simple question about Guantanamo received answers that built and built to a fevered man crescendo until Mitt Romney bravely declared that he would invade Cuba, make the whole island America's jail and personally start torturing ragheads his own damn self. This answer was met by a standing ovation from men in pleated khakis and women in polyester dresses. Why? Because it was a man's fucking answer! Quit runnin' yer damn yap!

Railing against gay marriage, raving about the President's bulge in a flight suit. A psychoanalysis is lurking somewhere under the surface.

George Tries To Put Together An Entertainment Center

One thing I've noticed about our fearless leader is that whenever people disagree with him, he has two reactions: completely ignoring them or simply assuming they don't understand what he's trying to say. With his approval rating now competing with Nixon and Truman for the illustrious banner of "Worst of All-Time" (Finally! A legacy!), Bush has resorted to explaining this things I believe over and over and over. And over. His frustration becoming more and more apparent as obvious facts (like bin Laden is organizing attacks in Baghdad) fail to embed themselves in our thick skulls.

He gives speeches now like a recent college graduate trying to get his girlfriend to help him put their new IKEA piece together. "Can you give me that hex wrench? No, the small one. The one...the one that's a hexagon. Not. The. Flathead. Screwdriver. The...the...what do you mean, which one? The only fucking hex wrench that came with this fucking thing. What are you not getting here? You put the baseboard into the thing and fucking put this thing in to hold it. This thing needs to be put together well so we can put it in front of the door and prevent them from attacking us at home!"

Then, when he doesn't get the reaction he wants, he repeats himself - slower this time - with a shrug and smirk that silently ask, "Why are you so fucking stupid?"

If only he wasn't reading the directions upside down and backwards.

WARNING to concerned parents!!!!

Dear Friends,

If your pre-teen or teen daughter asks you to see the upcoming movie Bratz, DO NOT LET THEM!!!! This movie is nothing more than a plot by liberal, Godless Hollywood to teach our innocent young daughters proper head technique.

The movie's opening scene is what kids today call a "rainbow party." In this disgusting, perverse scene, a group of teenage girls discusses the proper way to grip the base of a male penis with the thumb and forefinger. From there, the movie goes on to glorify dressing promiscuously, talking back to parents, bad popular music and giving oral sex to multiple partners.

PLEASE contact your Congressman today and ask them to BAN THIS MOVIE!!!! It is time we take this country back for traditional families! Together we can do it!!!!

PLEASE forward this email to everyone you know!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Gourmet Hamburger Was Made In Los Angeles Last Night

I had been going to Ralphs for our staples and Bristol Farms for our meats up until the move. (Jesus! Is there ANYTHING I have to say not related to the move!) The meat quality at Bristol Farms was much higher and the prices weren't that much more. As for burger meat, I would go to the Huntington Market in the 3rd and Fairfax Farmer's Market. They sold a Nancy Silverton ground meat blend that was 80/20 lean/fat. Maybe even up to 75/25 at times. It was, by far, the greatest burger meat I've ever purchased. Anybody you fed this meat to would rave about it to no end and I took tons of credit even though the extent of my involvement was simply pointing at the meat and asking for a pound or two. That, of course, has all changed.

There's a Gelson's on the way home now, but they don't have a meat counter. All they have behind glass is fish and a guy who seems depressed because he doesn't get to wrap steaks in butcher paper. Who ever heard of a supermarket without a glistening red meat counter? How am I supposed to get fired up while I shop?! Unreal, Gelson's, unreal. Whole Foods is also on the way, but although Bristol Farms would add fat to their meat to make 80/20 for you, Whole Foods won't for some reason. And none of these places carries 80/20 meat. The best I've seen is 85/15. Ralphs even has a 93/7. Well why I don't I just grill a damn shoe while I'm at it and we'll have a blind taste test? Shoe versus 93/7 meat. Ralphs does sell a prewrapped tube of 80/20 meat, but it only comes in a four-pound package. In a swirling sea of non-optimal choices, I've been buying a one-pound pre-wrapped package of ground buffalo meat from Ralphs, which is actually pretty tender, juicy and tasty.

That finally segues us into the eventual point of this point, which has been a long time coming. I made an awesome burger last night. Making a gourmet burger is about the easiest thing in the world because all you have to do is add fancy trappings to your normal burger plan. But you make one, and people start asking when your personal line of frozen pizzas and canned soups will be hitting the shelves. (March 08, incidentally)

I took the ground buffalo, added salt, pepper and chopped basil, made two patties and dropped them on the grill. When they were beautiful, I took the toasted buns, spread ricotta cheese on them (the basil/olive oil kind I used for new caprese Monday), spread some goat cheese on the patties and finished the whole thing off with leafy lettuce, red onion and vine-ripened tomato slices from my friend's garden. Finished it off with crispy fries from our countertop fryer and a Shiner Hefeweizen. Damn.

If we had company over last night, I could've charged them $12 for this meal and they would've been HAPPY to pay it. Would've felt like they were getting an amazing deal. Would've told me, "You should include cream of butternut squash in your canned soup line."

And yes, it's official. Basil is the flavor of Summer '07 in the Krogmann household. Peak basil will be reached when I try a lemon-basil sorbet in August.

St. Cyril's Magic Pen

Yet another byproduct of the move is that we have to switch daycares. The one we've been using since Abby was three months old is this really fantastic one where everybody is super nice. They don't feed the kids gruel, they don't make them stitch clothes or butcher chickens or anything. Really top notch. It's run by a Russian family and all of the daycare workers are Russian.

As a farewell, Nikki got cards for the women, particularly Vita, who has mainly been responsible for Abby for months. Abby and Vita both smile whenever they see each other and that's a really nice thing that assuages the guilt of daycare. But Vita doesn't speak that much English. "Wake up...bottle...caca..." and that's about it. Which, of course, is much more than I know in Russian.

So Nikki wanted to write Vita's card in her native tongue and found this English to Russian translator online. But writing the message entails a quick mastery of the Cyrillic alphabet and that thing is no joke, man. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Oh, come on. There's a backwards n and an upside down r. It's easy!" Listen, pal, there's a letter that at first looks like an asterisk, but upon closer inspection is more like two Ks lining up back to back. One letter looks like those beachfront houses that are on stilts to stay dry at high tide. And one letter looks like a slaughtered pleasant lying in a fallow field. I think that's their Q. And they have four differents Os. You don't just pick up Cyrillic on a rainy day.

Maybe it's not like the Chinese alphabet, where you can change the character for "happy, loving mother" into the character for "abused street whore who doesn't charge enough" by making one line three centimeters longer, but still. I have the feeling this Cyrillic card is either going to amusingly awkward and sweet, or just totally illegible.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You Hate Your Job

Of course you do. Get in line behind all of the other Americans who feel they deserve more money for more glamorous work. But friends, I'm here today to tell you how to start loving your job.

Have a kid and buy a house. You'll start loving your job immediately! It'll be the greatest job in the world and all you ever think about is how much you don't want to lose it!

It's just the shot in the arm you might need! Try it today!

I will grill your soul

There are a few things we have at the house that we didn't have at the apartment. A laundry room, a dishwasher, freedom from our neighbor's music, a possum that shows up every night around 10 to nibble from our orange and tangerine trees. But most importantly, a grill.

So far we've grilled more nights than not by about a 4:1 ratio. Two taco fests, steaks, whole fish, chicken, pork, kebabs, corn...I'm doing some serious scorching out there and I'm displaying a complete mastery of the medium. The time per side for nine different things is already instinctual to me. "Branzino? Mmm...I'd say seven minutes per side. You know what, though? Let's wrap them up with some twine to hold the leeks in first. You do that and I'll go get a third beer."

I think I'm going to start seriously challenging myself with some non-traditional, radical grill selections. Like...pasta. I think I could parboil it to soften it up a bit, then finish it off over the flames. Thick rigatonis could handle it, I bet. Or maybe some grilled beer. I'll freeze it into a block, place it on a rack above the burners, then have a basin underneath to catch the defrosting drippings. Get some nice smoky flavor into a hefeweizen and basically explode your head with the flavors.

Once I've nailed that down, I'm going totally off the reservation and grilling abstract concepts. Like...that feeling of dread you get when you see somebody you hate waiting for the same elevator you want. The Germans have a 17-letter word for that feeling, I'm sure. Grilled lifterzschweinmal, man!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oh, how things turn out

Now in full-on blog mode, I went back today and looked at my comatose to see what it was about. It was mainly about indignation. But it also contained this little nugget:


We went back home to Pittsburgh last weekend for a wedding. Weddings are no longer fun for us because we're at that weird age where we don't dance at weddings because we're not 24 anymore and we're not 56 yet. So basically, we just sit there and watch other people have fun while trying to come up with a good answer to "So, what have you been up to?" Anyway, on Sunday we went to a barbecue and a few old acquaintances brought their babies. And baby carriers. And baby formula. And baby toys. And three changes of baby clothes. And a big canvas sack to carry it all. The parents of the youngest ones mainly held their squirmy offspring in their laps while answering, "Nah, I can't. The baby." to every question that came their way. "Want to play volleyball?" "Want to get a beer?" "Want to enjoy your life?" But the real gems were the 2-3 year olds who seemed to be fascinated by dirt and falling down. My favorite kid was eating this cookie topped with red icing. Maybe not eating. Mostly smearing it on his chin. It seriously looked like the kid got into a can of paint. Mom made no effort to wipe it off, leading me to believe this wasn't a unique event. On the drive back to the hotel I remarked, "Man, I don't know why anybody would go through that." This did not go over well with The Wife.
If you're looking for some resolution on that anecdote...you know, if you're wondering how things eventually turned out...may I suggest looking at that last post in which I mentioned my young daughter?

A sweet family moment gone awry

Last night when I got home, I looked out back and saw Nikki sitting on the porch with Abby, blowing bubbles. They were just sitting there, lost to the world. Abby crawling around looking for clumps of dirt to eat...bubbles flying everywhere. Mother. Daughter. Love. America. Rockwell.

When I went to join them, I noticed that the porch door was locked. And, thinking back, so was the front. It seems that in reality, Nikki wasn't teaching our young daughter that bubbles are a metaphor for the fleeting joyful moments in life and we should appreciate them before they pop. She forgot to take the house keys and locked herself out. Aww.

I invented a new summer cocktail

I know that goes against my last post in which I claimed I cooked like a cover band, but if you're looking for iron-strength rigidity out of a blog...well...buddy, it's time to re-examine where you're driving your life car.

It's a takeoff of the classic drink of a Greyhound. Go get some Italian grapefruit soda from Trader Joe's. It comes in a big bottle that looks like something Trader Joe's would stock. Put 2 ounces of gin in a highball loaded with ice, then fill with the soda and stir. I call it an Italian Greyhound. Add a little bit of sugar or simple syrup and you have a Neutered Italian Greyhound. Change the gin to vodka for a Female Italian Greyhound.

Find a porch, sit on it, sip your Italian Greyhound and think "I want to make love to this drink with my whole body."


(Other things I am drinking this summer: Negronis, gin mules, real daiquiris with fresh lime juice, Hoegaarden)

I mayde u sum meetballz but they falled a part

As a celebratory dinner to close our first week in the new house, the wife and I planned a big steak grill out. Ribeyes, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, this, that and some wine. Tantara pinot noir, good stuff, about $30. $40 for the organic version. Naturally, because we have a house and more kitchen space now, we made too much food. Who knew that we cooked based on available counter square footage? Half of each ribeye went completely untouched. Completely!

Knowing that the finest grandmothers around the world have created the finest meals from leftovers, I was determined to make shit happen here. Last night, I took the ribeyes and ground them up in the Cuisnart, added salt, pepper, oil and breadcrumbs in a grand plan to make meatballs for the pasta dinner. My initial fear was that they would be too lean because of the original grill session cooking off fat to have real meatball flavor. Nikki's initial fear was that I didn't use enough binding ingredients to hold the meatballs together. We were both right.

Question: Can you make meatballs from leftover ribeye? Answer: No.

We also made some tweaked caprese. Heirloom tomatoes, but instead of mozz and oil and basil, I used this ricotta I bought at the farmers' market that has oil and basil added already. It was okay. Still needs actual oil and the tomatoes weren't quite ready.

My cooking skills basically put me on par with somebody who's in a good cover band. I can make dishes that other people come up with, but I can never quite invent my own stuff or just look at a pile of ingredients and see something come together. I need to see the recipe first and then shop for the needed ingredients. A good cook would have a pork chop, a fennel bulb, red cabbage, carraway seeds and new potatoes on hand and do something good. This bothers me tremendously.

This first food post of mine is dedicated to Miles, who's chubby, gay, likes eating and has been asking me to blog about food and politics repeatedly. I love you, man!

Script To Screen

Like most people in Hollywood, I'm working on some screenplays with the ultimate goal of living in a house with a Spanish tile roof and an infinity pool.

The one I'm polishing up now is about a retarded heroin addict going through rehab. Pretty much guaranteed Oscar bait. All I need is a better title than Coming Down Syndrome.

Celebrity wisdom

For a while, the Los Angeles Times ran this Thursday Calendar feature asking celebs and close-to-celebs what they would do on an ideal weekend. The actual coffee houses, restaurants and beaches were variables, but it was all pretty stock in trade.

Anyway, a few weeks ago - back when I was a civilian, not a blogger! - they interviewed Bijou Phillips about her perfect weekend. Now, if there are two groups you shouldn't take advice from, one is celebrities and the other is the children of hippies. Bijou manages to meld both of these groups into a super strong alloy of ignorance.

She mentioned that she likes to let her chihuahua skitter free on some of the hiking trails that run through the canyons of Los Angeles. And she doesn't worry that a rogue coyote will snatch up her little dog, explaining that coyotes won't eat chihuahuas because "they respect them as fellow desert dwellers."

What...what does she think coyotes eat in the desert? Thistles? Organic mesclun? Non-native animals that get lost and mistakenly wander into the desert? Like a snowshoe rabbit? A coyote would eat a chihuahua like a chubby receptionist would eat a single M&M. Such a tiny morsel that it wouldn't even register in the food portion of the brain. The coyote would think, "Wait. Did I just eat something? I...I don't think so. Although that certainly would explain the rhinestone collar in my mouth."

I'd like to take Bijou and her hippie spirit of anthropomorthic animals and a literal creationist, put them in a room together and watch them both look down on the other one for being naive.

Technically, it's the second triannual...

But let's not parse it too tightly. It's taken me three years of complete inactivity, but I think I finally figured out what I want from a blog: total self-indulgence of my every passing thought. I'm now going to procastinate my innate laziness and put some effort into a writing routine.

Why? For you. You deserve it. You deserve to read my writing. This is the mission statement I developed at a one-man mountain retreat teamwork workshop this past weekend.