Monthly Archives: January 2009

Small Dog Reads Between the Crumbs

This is me

Daryl Zero: “I can’t possibly overstate the importance of good research. Everyone goes through life dropping crumbs. If you can recognize the crumbs, you can trace a path all the way back from your death certificate to the dinner and a movie that resulted in you in the first place. But research is an art, not a science, because anyone who knows what they’re doing can find the crumbs, the wheres, whats, and whos. The art is in the whys: the ability to read between the crumbs, not to mix metaphors. For every event, there is a cause and effect. For every crime, a motive. And for every motive, a passion. The art of research is the ability to look at the details, and see the passion.”

The Dining section of the NYT stirred up some controversy in the blogosphere this week with an article showcasing a recipe called “the Bacon Explosion.” The Explosion is basically a log of seasoned sausage and crispy bacon wrapped tightly in an outer layer of bacon strips, and cooked. The controversy is that the NYT attributes the recipe to a BBQ team from Kansas City called Burnt Finger BBQ, while a more thorough look at the arrival of greasy bacon torpedoes on the internet points deeper into the thicket…

Which is not to say that the NYT are unaware of the possibility that their featured fattie was poached from someone else’s smoker. Towards the end of the original article, “The Bacon Explosion – Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog.” there is reference to The Headless Blogger (who turns out to be a Republican, hopped up on Obama Hateorade; headless in the political sense?) and how this blogger may know better about the origins of the bacon log. In a post titled “Redneck Sushi hits the MSM” the Headless Blogger says,

“Mr. Darlin of the Times may want to make a correction. I don’t claim to be the inventor of the bacon wrapped fattie, but I did post my much superior creation prior to the Bacon Explosion post. I credited my inspiration to Dan’s Bacon & Cheese Roll and provided a link. It seemed more than coincidental that Jason, Moe & Aaron independently came up with their weaved bacon wrapped around a fattie substance idea within a month of Dan’s widely circulated post. Since they were such swell sports, I’ve been jerking their chains ever since. Clearly they didn’t copy me or the would have created a far better product.”

The link cited in the last paragraph as the inspiration for the Headless’ Redneck Sushi brings you to a food blog called, Foodproof, and indeed the earliest available listing for a hatched-bacon-strip-sausage-fuselage/heart-attack. This may be the pilot’s original black box. The investigation did not end there, however, at least for me. Perhaps this is an appropriate moment to thank the citizens of the fine state of Massachusetts for decriminalizing marijuana (perhaps every day I give the same thanks)… for I continued my sleuthing around, trying to find the root of the recipe, and inadvertently discovered on Foodproof, several videos of a gentleman (young Bill Clinton?) encouraging folks to watch him eat.

This quickly lead me to his blog called Fiction is Lying. Its a wonderful blog and really the one bankable gem I found in all of this spelunking, deep in these caves. There are recipes, photographs, witticisms, a twitter link, and videos of sarcasmo (the proprietor) eating different things such as… a Thanksgiving feast, a Wendy’s Baconator (my favorite, and the most relevant to this post… he harshly disses Wendy’s bacon strips and then pops them right in his mouth!), and a chocolate Christmas Advent calendar. Techno beats pulse softly in the background and I dare you to look away while this man consumes, his hair a wild bouffant… the best kind of digital munchies.

Electric Purple Question Marks

Someone asked me what the theme for our next Hell Night is, and I replied “Winter Wonderland.” Now that we have put up all the decorations, however, I think the theme is actually “Hanukkah.” At least from the standpoint of all the blue and silver streamers, balloons, lights…

Lounging like a lemur up a tree

The main man on the decorations, incidentally the main man universally at the East Coast, wielding a mighty spool of streamers…

EZ the master of many streamers using a patented spooling method

Who says the Boss can’t put on a monkey hat?

The Boss in a monkey hat

Somebody had to MAN UP and put together this long string of balloons. Somebody with “nimble fingers,” plus sobriety helped. Hey, its me:

Nimble fingers get the job done

I’ve created a monster!

Let me tell how filthy these balloons got

Ace, also known as the Future, up in the skylight surrounded by tens of electric purple question marks…

The Future is an electric purple question mark

Quilted Shooting Patch

The disgruntled man had been waiting less than an hour for a table, but it had already been too long for his wife Wendy. He told me that I was lousy at my job; that I’d really misjudged how long the wait would take. I was sipping hot tea made from Rain Forest-harvested mate bark, staring a thousand miles into deep space, pondering that I’d made a good choice matching my shooting shirt with my new brown, quasi-paisley Converse sneakers.

This is what I wore on Saturday January 24 2009

Since the quilted shoulder patch is for shooting, for me it holds no function. But it does have a certain funky appeal. It messes with the brain-wires, disrupting the overall symmetry. Evidently, the universe itself had an unbalance from the very beginning, or else matter would have completely annihilated anti-matter in the Big Bang. Lucky for us, we all landed in Graceland. This shirt has been a serial clearance item at Marshall’s; no one wants it. The price I paid was $5.

The quilted shooting patch up close

There was no arguing with the disgruntled customer. He was right; the customer always is. I was to blame for keeping him and his wife from eating in a timely manner, and I knew it. I made mistakes, and believe it or not I lost seven or eight minutes of crucial sleep counting tables and in my mind, seating and re-seating the critical period. In an effort to do better next time, I may bring maths into play. I care about my job, and if its Saturday, I also care about what I’m wearing.

The third arm reaches out to the groins

Thanks to Dave for the pics, and Tina for the crotch grab.

New Weird America

Here are several scenes from the National Mall in D.C. on Tuesday.

The Washington Monument from afar on Jan 20

looking up the base of the Washington Monument

Listening to President Obamas speech on the cold mall

My sister who made the special day happen

“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

Barack Obama, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009

Sweat Lodge

On Saturday, a small group of friends and I showed up for a power yoga class that our mutual friend was assistant teaching. Power yoga means its heated, I think. It was the first Beginner level class of the day and very crowded. The class before ours was getting out as we arrived, and drenched, hairy men without tops as well as women in yoga shirts pushed past us to change into their clothes and jackets and sneakers. It was clear to me that heated yoga was no joke.

While signing in and renting a mat and towel, the woman at the front desk asked me questions such as, “Have you done yoga before?” and I answered, “This is my first Beginner’s class in years…” Something about the total panic writ large on my face must have tipped her off, because she then proceeded to let me in on what to do if I started to pass out in the middle of the class. As far as I recall, she told me to stop drop and roll. The yoga studio itself was heated to approximately 90 degrees F, or roughly half as hot as my apartment.

The sweating commenced. Frankly, I started to worry once the salt from my sweating began to make my eyes swell up. It continued at a lunatic pace; roughly equivalent to a whole can of Diet Coke every three and a third minutes. An hour and a half after it began, the class was over. My shirt was soaked with sweat, a soaking unlike anything I’ve seen since I was a fat kid who swam with my shirt on, coming out of the sea after hours of boogie-boarding. If anyone would like to share their favorite memories from yesterdays yoga class, please do so in the comments section.

It was a very positive experience. I feel like the power yoga was responsible for exhausting me to the point where I fell asleep at midnight. This is the most sleep I’ve gotten on a Saturday night in years and I will need it. After brunch today I am driving down to Maryland, and onto D.C. for the Inauguration of President Obama Tuesday. This trip will mark my twenty sixth revolution around the sun, and the dawn of a new era across the strange and wonderful land called America.

The mahi mahi and I looking forward

A Chimp in the Saddle

A chimp straddling a goat goes riding off into the sunset

“Is there such a thing as insanity among penguins? And why is it that human beings saddle a horse, and like the Lone Ranger, put on masks in order to disguise their identity and then feel the urge to chase the bad guy? And why is it that certain species of ants keep flocks of wild lice in order to milk them like slaves for droplets of sugar? And why is it that a chimp–clearly a superior creature–does not straddle a goat and ride into the sunset?” Werner Herzog, Encounters at the End of the World

The above painting was something I had to spontaneously screen-capture while watching Werner Herzog’s latest film, Encounters at the End of the World. It is accompanied by the quote, and what he seems to be getting at is a warning that his film will be nonlinear and yet, like a backdraft in a fire, seeking the wild and virgin pockets of curiosity that other filmmakers left unexplored at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Until last weekend, that was my documentary of the year. The accolade was withdrawn, however, after Lady C and I journeyed to Coolidge Corner for a twelve-seat screening of the film, Man on Wire. It was Sunday evening, and the weak winter sun had already been put to bed. Maybe I should have been as well, because by that point I was delirious, emotional, fragile… I cried through the entire movie. Most of the seats in the tiny screening room were taken, so many people saw my tears.

The film is about a French wire-walker’s dream of walking a tight-rope between the Twin Towers of the old World Trade Center… a dream that unfolds into reality like a fairy-tale. The dream is impossible, and yet… As one of the arresting officers states, this is once-in-a-lifetime. People in the streets look up to a space in the air where hundreds in the future will jump away from burning temperatures to instant death; they see a man gracefully lying down on a wire, motionless, daydreaming in the sky. The images in the film do not quickly leave the mind.

The US Airways plane was critically damaged by flying through a flock of large birds and had to splash down in the Hudson River. The plane lost power, both engines, but the pilot stayed calm, aimed for the water, came in at an angle. Everyone was safely rescued. That was yesterday. This morning I woke up thinking about the emergency landing in the ice cold river, and the unflappable pilot, and the look of concentration on Philippe Petit’s face as he crossed, one foot at a time, the impossible wire tethered between the world’s two tallest towers.

When the police brought Philippe down from the buildings, reporters from all outlets of television and print wanted to know why he did it, what drove him to such heights, to confront death so publicly. He thought it was very American that they asked him that question over and over, why? Why was not the reason he had done it. Maybe that’s part of what Werner Herzog, as a documentary filmmaker, is searching for at the ends of the world… in the plane crash, on the high wire, in the saddle before the sunset… the things we do without asking why.

A Sweater That Pills

The sweetheart of the rodeo tonight, Lady C, sure didn’t start off that way. The minute I entered the door this afternoon she confronted me and told me that my sweater was pilling. I told her that it was a 2 year old sweater from Old Navy, par for course, but she wasn’t hearing it.

I had just been told my sweater was pilling

Passive aggression was the name of my game this afternoon, but the god of the coffee bean wasn’t having it. A ten item list consisting of 7 coffee drinks, 2 teas, one hot chocolate and one chocolate chip cookie was presented to the counter girls at 1369 Coffeehouse. It was not the same girl who rudely told me to make a list of my four drinks last week. The fates of the universe conspired to have the all-time nicest 1369 employees ever working today They cheerfully went about the business of making all the drinks, while I uncomfortably made small talk.

The list of coffee drinks did not have the desired effect.

This Saturday was unsatisfactorily slow. Business was depressed because its early January, and the snow was falling, cramping Cambridge St. for parking. I felt like a Weddell seal sonically shrieking under the frozen ices of Antarctica. At least with the snow as a distraction, and the hubbub of stomping wet feet and brushing off coats, nobody probably even noticed the tiny balls of fabric pilling on my cheapo sweater.

The scam master hisself at the podium in a cheapo sweater

Sneaker Feats

I need all these sneakers but Im no spider

How I spent an hour of my day off this week; lacing four new pairs of sneakers. I am not a spider, but I decided that I needed four new pairs of sneakers after my leg went bad on me. The culprit had to be the lousy old sneakers I was wearing; they had to be replaced. The old sneakers, and the impulsive running spurred by the quitting of the cigarettes; those were the problems with my leg, and so I set out onto the internet to fill my shopping cart in hope of a more mobile future.

I tried to tell my sister that the reason I had been running / working / living day-to-day in old sneakers was because I was being thrifty. But the truth was a little more complicated. Marshall’s has long been my go-to place for Converse sneaker buying; especially the super-size Marshall’s subtitled Homegoods. And I only buy Converse sneakers because my feet are apparently wider than the typical Puma or Nike fan. The problem this past year is that Marshall’s has not been stocking much in the way of my preferred sneaker brand.

I blame Target. Like a detective, I fit the pieces of the puzzle together and got a look at the bigger picture. In 2008, Target got a big contract with Converse to sell the Converse clothing line in Target stores nationwide. They also sell lots of Chuck Taylor’s in Target. For those of you out of the loop, Chuck Taylor’s are the oldest style of sneaker in existence, made of nothing more than canvas and horse hair laces. My feet are too wide for Chuck Taylor’s. Everyone reading this is going to think I have freakishly wide feet. Okay its true, but my feet are still the best.

So Marshall’s has not been getting in any of the types of Converse sneakers that I have been wearing for most of my life: Weapons, Volitants, Sailor Jerry’s, etcetera, and I don’t know where to turn. This past fall, I bought one nice pair of black and yellow Converse sneakers from the internet, but I wanted to keep those clean, and saved them for lounging. I continued to wear my years-old bad brown Converse sneakers to work and when it rained / snowed. These were so old that when I took them off they would curl up at the toes like the feet of the Wicked Witch of the West after she got housed.

The lesson here is; don’t wear old sneakers because it’ll mess up your leg. Go tell that to five people you care about. Somehow, my sister knew the problem wasn’t that I was being cheap. She called me right out. She said, “That’s impossible. You’re a total spendthrift.” Now she knows the truth. Marshall’s let me down, and I didn’t know where to turn, and I lost my leg. Thank goodness for the mighty Shoebacca.

Dan Conner

Popping the vest with Gail while George hit up the taco bar

Despite considerable anxiety, I attended the staff holiday party last night, in a gently used denim vest over a flannel shirt. I wanted to look like Dan Conner, John Goodman’s character from the classic show, “Roseanne.” Throughout my party-going past, I’ve occasionally worn unusual outfits to break the ice, mark the special occasion, and just for fun. Its strange how memory works though… somehow in my decision to wear the denim vest, which I thought would be fun (and it was,) I’d apparently forgotten the role that heavy drinking had played in all the fantastic parties outfits from the past.

Behind the walls of my nonalcoholic beverage castle

Being sober, my special denim vest actually served to amplify my anxiety rather than dampen it. There were many comments. Dave and Peter agreed that it was a women’s vest. Suzanne noticed from the perfect hemlines that it wasn’t a cut-off… it had always been a vest. Mr. S. asked what was wrong with me, godamnit, and didn’t I know that it was a dress-up party? I have the feeling that he kind of liked it, however. The most helpful commentary came from my main man EZ, who that night celebrated his ten year anniversary at the restaurant. He said, “You have to honor the guy who owned that vest before you. I bet that he got more done in that vest than you have in your whole life so far.”

The double collared look

Roseanne: That is not funny! You’re grounded until menopause!
Darlene: Yours or mine?
Roseanne: Your father’s!

The plan had been to dress up like Dan Conner, and from that mountainous posture to deflect anxiety. The reality was that the vest drew more attention to me than I would have liked but the party was good times. The main purpose of these staff parties (other than the drinking) seems to be to mark time at midpoints in the year. I think the team is ready to bring it in 2009, and big congratulations to El Jeffe for making one decade. Ten more years!

Lamb on the Lam

Another Saturday night, another chance for me to be Bill Cunningham to myself… The pockets really make this shirt for me. Nothing sticking out, not too boxy; the pockets’ curves attracted me to wearing this short sleeve button down in the middle of winter. I hope it helped brighten up the outlook for some people.

My double chin is nothing if not resilent

Please allow me this paragraph to blow off some steam. They messed with me at 1369 Coffee House. “They,” the people who work there, and not all of “them,” but some, have been mean in the past. Most days I refuse to go there because I am worried they are going to mess with me, but this Saturday I felt “on point.” So I volunteered to go get everyone coffee in the hall of the lion. There was one person behind me in line, and because I had four drinks to my order, I asked this guy if he would like to go first, telling him I was getting coffee for my coworkers…

After inquiring as to how many caffeinated beverages that entailed, and hearing that it was only four, the man behind me in line said, “Only four? No go right ahead, but that was very nice of you to ask.” Then it was my turn to order. Standing at the register, I told the woman the four drinks, and just as I was finishing the last drink she cut me off. “Next time you should really make a list.” No please, no “hi, how are you?” I turned red and blabbered something about five drinks being the threshold for a list, and she bitingly said, “I’m not worried about YOUR memory, its MY memory I’m worried about.”

For the rest of my life, I will regret not standing up to this lady at the cash register. In my mind, I see myself defiantly throwing it back in her face… “If you are so worried about your memory, then maybe YOU should write down the order!” Honestly, when someone orders food or drinks from me, and its four different drinks, or appetizers, or desserts, or entrees, do I stop them and tell them to simply write it down? No, because as the “order taker,” taking the order is my job. And telling the customer to write it down because my memory is bad, without even saying please, is just rude.

It does feel good to have that rant out of me. No doubt I will be back at 1369 Coffee House, hopefully armed with a quicker wit. Probably, the encounter at the cash register probably got me going more than my four dollar beverage (a red eye) but in the end I should probably remember that coffee just stains my teeth. I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday, and if you come to brunch and have me as your waiter, please remember to bring pencils and paper.

Making a list and checking it twice