It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that wing

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Yeah. Those will work.

I think I had my first Buffalo-style chicken wing in 1985. I know I liked them immediately, but at the time I never could have guessed what percentage of my body weight they’d eventually account for. If you are what you eat, I’m a mostly superfluous appendage for an animal that can’t fly. And I’m OK with that.

I consider the Buffalo-style chicken wing a perfect food. It’s the second-best dish to come out of Buffalo, after Beef on Weck. That’s not something you find much outside Western New York, though in Covington, KY you can get a very credible one at Kelly’s Public House in the Radisson Hotel.

I’m a purist when it comes to putting the word “Buffalo” in front of the word “wing.” The wings should be deep-fried crispy and tossed in a mixture of Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter. Maybe a touch of garlic. Anything other than Bleu Cheese for dipping is an abomination. Celery must be present to remind your body that green food exist. I have, however, gotten quite fond of the trend of smoking or grilling the wings instead of deep-frying. That’s what I’m doing right now: smoking a mess of wings on the Big Green Egg. They went on partially frozen and I have the temp set to 325 (so the skin will get crispy). We’re not going Buffalo tonight. Carla found a teriyaki sauce recipe that sounds delicious. We’re going with that.

Not a bad way to end a weekend.

Posted in Food, The Cult of the Big Green Egg

Coming Attractions

IMG_0242It’s been a long time since I got up in the morning on a Saturday looking forward to all the stuff I have to do this weekend. Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I got up any day looking forward to what I had to do. I have five more days of training my replacement at my soon-to-be-former job, then this becomes the new normal. I can’t wait.

I have a fair bit to do today and tomorrow. I can’t talk about what I’m working on in any great detail, but I can talk about two things in general. I’m working on a short feature about a local brewery for a national beer magazine. It was kind of fun going to a brewery yesterday evening and work. It’s tempting to put that word in quotes, but I actually was working. It’s a place I’ve been many, many times, but this time I was getting to look at it with new eyes. There may be something to this whole writing thing.

The other thing I’m working on is some documentation and demo of a gadget. I assure you I’ll be talking about it more than some of yo probably like very soon, but at the moment it’s not my place to talk about details. The gadget works with the Big Green Egg, so I’ve spent part of this morning getting a fire going and now I have a GoPro taking time-lapse photos. Later I’ll shoot some regular video and record a voiceover. Tomorrow I’ll run the Egg again with food this time and not rags stuffed inside a sock and soaked in water to simulate food for the gadget’s thermometers.

Last time I went the freelance route I think I limited myself too much to doing one thing. The webcasting work I did in the past is something I’m always going to be thankful that I got to do, but I think that part of my life is mostly over. That’s not to say I’ll never stream anything on the Internet again. This time around it’s just one possible thing in the toolbox.  Last time it was the only thing. Lesson learned.

So here’s my post for today. Sorry to cut this short, but I have things to do. Ain’t it great?

Posted in Life, The Cult of the Big Green Egg

Johnny Football is the NFL

football-brain-800pxI’ll watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. It’s what you do on the Sunday they play the Super Bowl. I’m slightly in favor of Denver because this is probably Peyton’s last year, but I won’t lose a moment’s sleep if Carolina wins. I’m amazed by the things Cam Newton can do. Assuming he stays healthy, the sky’s the limit for the number of records he could own when he hangs them up. He’s that good. I don’t get all the hate about how he celebrates. He’s among the best at doing what he does. He shows the joy in doing it. I don’t see what the problem is.

I’ll watch the game.  I don’t care who wins. I’ll drink good beer and eat food I’ve smoked on the Egg down on the patio. My day will be better than 95% of the world’s population because I’ll have had more than my share that day and my next days’s sustenance will not be in doubt. But my day will come at a price. One I’m not sure I want to pay anymore.

I’ll watch the NFL’s biggest day, but I won’t enjoy it all that much. I cannot see a hit without wondering if this is the one that ends a life. Will that player be the next Junior Seau? Chris Henry? Andre Waters? Or “just” the next Kenny Stabler who knows something is wrong but doesn’t end his own life? Is that going to be the hit that two, five, or ten years from now will be the one that starts the player down the road of not recognizing himself when he looks in the mirror?

Then there is Johnny Manziel. You want to say “oh, that kid’s just a head-case asshole.  It’s just a moral failure on his part.  His parents are probably at fault.” I’m not going to claim to be a scholar of the kid’s life, but from what I’ve read his parents are at their wit’s end. They fear for his life. Apparently, though, he’s managed to find enough people who aren’t worried enough about his life to support him in ending his destructive ways. They’re willing to ride him as far as he’ll go, then move on when he’s spent.

Those people are easy to condemn.  Are we, who watch these men bash their heads play after play, Sunday after Sunday, really any different? Do we wonder or care what happened to the second string cornerback from the team three years ago who isn’t playing anymore?  What happened to that short-yardage running back who was so tough when he ran up the middle. He could really take the abuse, couldn’t he?  He did.  Didn’t he? What’s he doing now?

I’ll watch the game Sunday. I don’t think I’m going to like myself much after.

Posted in The Cult of the Big Green Egg, The Ol' Curmudgeon, The Ol' Philosopher

Miss Mia joins the family

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Yesterday we had a ghost in the house. Today we have another family member.

One of the appeals of cats is that they are independent. They have their own minds. I don’t get into the “dog person” or “cat person” thing because anyone who doesn’t like animals is probably a very bad person. I don’t like making absolute statements, but I’ll stick by that one. While I adore dogs, I gravitate to cats because they’re not enablers. Dogs love you no matter what. That’s a great thing. It puts them into the top five carbon-based life forms easily. But I need someone to tell me to bug off sometimes. Cats will do that for you.

So yesterday Mia was still hiding from us. We’d see her, be she’d be heading somewhere else. We’ve ben seeing her a little more often each day. She even climbed into the bed in front of the fireplace yesterday. When Carla and I got up this morning a topic of conversation was if we’d see Mia come out to watch us.

It went a little better than that.

Mia doesn’t meow so much as squeak. She was in the living room when we came out and she ran as she’s done, but she didn’t go very far. When Carla and I settled in with our coffee we heard a little squeak and Mia walks over to Carla and starts loving on her. At any moment I expected her to shoot away, so I held as still as I could. I didn’t have my phone out here, so I tried to get a shot with my iPad. That camera just isn’t very good. Anyway, I didn’t need to worry. In a couple of minutes she was over loving on me. She hasn’t left us all morning. As I write these words she’s sacked out in front of the fire.

I don’t know what switch flipped, but I’m glad it has. We have a new cat!

The boys are doing great with her. They’re more curious than anything else. She still isn’t letting them get too close, but they aren’t pressing the issue. It’ll be a great day when we see them grooming each other. It will happen, I’m sure of it.

Enough of me rambling. This is what you came here for.

Today has started out very well.

Posted in Cats, Mia

An unformed thought on the modern journalism ritual

mysocialnetwork-800pxWe live in a world where, for some reason, we know what a Kardashian is. That’s disturbing. What’s worse is my MacBook Pro knows the spelling of “Kardashian.” Somebody somewhere thought it was important to include that. Do we, as a species, really deserve to survive? The cosmic Magic 8-Ball has to be roiling pretty hard on that one. Anyway, the Kardashians came to mind as I read this piece from The Boston Globe. 

This is a blog post and not a carefully researched academic paper, but it seems to me that we see more of this sort of thing nowadays. A person who’s famous for whatever reason appears on television and is asked a question. The famous person turns right around and claims that there was an agreement that the question was off limits. In this particular case the question was about Sarah Palin’s son’s arrest when she was on the Today show to talk about her endorsement of short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump. As Globe columnist Joan Vennochi wrote:

But the awkward exchange that played out after host Savannah Guthrie put it to the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee does make a viewer wonder what is said behind the scenes to lure sought-after subjects to news shows ever in search of ratings gold.

“You guys brought me here to talk about Iowa politics and the caucus tonight — not to talk about my kids,” said Palin. “And that was a promise. But as things go in the world of media, you guys don’t always keep your promises, evidently.”

For the record, host Matt Lauer said during the Palin interview that “no specific promises” were made about content. Unless Palin has something written or recorded about conditions for participation, there’s no way to prove her right and Lauer wrong.

But were there non-specific promises? What nudge-nudge-wink-wink went on to set this interview up? I don’t want to focus too much on this one specific instance because there’s some evidence that what Sarah Palin believes at any given moment is affected by the tides, humidity and barometric pressure.

Celebrities, whether of the Kardashian variety or ones that aspire to political office1, can bypass traditional media channel gatekeepers with greater ease than ever before. It’s always been possible through direct mail and,later, things like fax blasts, but Facebook and Twitter are fast and cheap. The initial message reach might not be as wide as some traditional media, but the multiplier effect of email and good old-fashioned conversation can’t be overestimated. Whereas agenda-setting has always been thought of as a mass media function, it belongs to social media now. #TheTimesTheyHaveChanged.

I think the time for implicit credibility in journalism has passed. Brian Williams, anyone? I still trust Walter Cronkite, but mostly because I also know he’s dead. Everyone else is suspect. My very small proposal is that any time a newsmaker — how ever you want to define that term — is interviewed, there should be an explicit explanation of what understanding was reached in order for the interview to take place. I know this happens in some circumstances now, but it’s not routinely reported. I think it needs to be. Who approached whom? How was it decided that this was the best person to talk to about this thing?

In a world where starting a sentence “In a world” is cliché because everyone knows how press releases are written, it’s long past time to show how the sausage gets made. Otherwise it’s hard not to think you’re not just hearing press releases.


1Oh [deity of your choice], please never let a Kardashian run for office.

Posted in Nothing in Particular

Life’s What Happens When You’re Making Other Plans

working-800pxMy goal for this year is to post here every day. I knew when I made the goal it wasn’t going to be easy. One of the rules for this is that I have no set length requirement. The idea is that I force myself to limit myself to one topic. Say what needs to be said. Then stop.

Here’s why today’s post is short: I’m training my replacement at work. It’s taken 100% of my time the last two days. I have a post underway, but I can’t do it justice in the time I have today. I need some slack for my brain to bounce back. I’ll finish it tomorrow when I have some downtime.

The title of this post is adapted from a line in the John Lennon song Beautiful Boy. In the song the line is “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I’d always thought this was one of Lennon’s little gems, but it turns out the line itself is apparently much older. As powerful a cultural institution in the American Conversation as Reader’s Digest’s “Quotable Quotes” is, I think we all owe John Lennon a vote of thanks for getting known a little more widely.

One piece of news and a piece of trivia that may help you win big on a game show. I’d say my work here is done for the day.

Posted in Florida, Just stuff

Scolds

bernie2016-magnet_grandeI’m tired of being scolded because I want Bernie Sanders to be elected President of the United States. I’m pretty much doing it to annoy people at this point. I’ve said over and over that my support is the kiss of death for any candidate, so I have little expectation that he will win. He ought to. It would be a better country if we took his ideas and ran with them. But we won’t. That’s not how we roll. We roll downhill.

I was raised by two New Deal Democrats. It’s my belief that the U.S. Constitution was written to protect civil society from the two most powerful forces of its day: The State and the Church. Spread power out as widely as possible with internal checks and balances. Remove the power of the State to use the bludgeon of religion against which the notion of ‘appeal’ is empty. There were certainly corporations at the time if the writing of the Constitution, but they were still largely seen as extensions of the State (given that the State granted the corporation license to exist). Compared to the well-understood nature of monarchies, parliamentary government, and religious power, corporations were the new kid on the block. The later conflict between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson can be read as an extended “oops” on Jefferson’s part.

I think the New Deal was an attempt to correct the imbalance of power inherent between the individual and the corporation. We’re seeing what happens when corporate power runs amok. There is no depravity that cannot be justified by good quarterly earnings and a strong return on investment. Please name one if you can think of one. I can’t.

The conventional wisdom is that Trump is what you get when you appeal to the worst of people so you can get their votes. Sanders is what you get when you appeal to the best of people but don’t really mean it. The Iowa caucuses are tonight. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I don’t really think whatever happens is going to matter that much. Hillary Clinton will be nominated and even I’ll vote for her because I don’t plan to have a lobotomy between now and November. And absolutely nothing will change. We won’t even try to change. She’ll probably get impeached because she tends to shoot herself in the foot (private mail server as Secretary of State. Really? Was that competence of leadership. I forget). But Wall Street will still call the shots. And that’s all that’s really important, isn’t it?

I support Bernie Sanders because of what he wants to do. I’m aware that most people don’t want to do those things. This time I’ve decided I just don’t care.

Kiss my ass, I’m voting for Bernie anyway.

Posted in The Ol' Curmudgeon

Ooops

I didn’t get a post up yesterday. 

Posted in Nothing in Particular

Realism and Aspiration

yellout-800px“Let’s make it slightly more difficult for people to buy guns.”

“WHAT???? ARE YOU CRAZY??? CRIMINALS WILL STILL BUY GUNS!!!”

“Yes, sir, I believe that’s why we call them criminals.”

EXACTLY!

“Right. I’m sure the course of action they’d recommend is to do nothing. If you’ll check the polls you’ll find that muggers, thieves, rapists and murderers all strongly agree that we should do nothing about guns. Are there any other policy areas you’d like to consult them on?”

“No. And don’t ask them. We don’t want to annoy them. They’re heavily armed, you know. What else have you got?

“There’s a proposal out there that maybe health care and education ought to be part of the social contract.”

“Contract? Did I sign that?

“You don’t actually sign it. It’s just something that happens when you’re born.”

“Like my apartment houses?”

“No sir, that was was your father.”

“He was the best.”

“Of course, sir. No, the social contract means that everyone has a responsibility to contribute positively to society and should be able to expect a certain level of security in return.”

“I thought we weren’t talking about guns any more.”

“We aren’t, sir. We’re talking about things like health care and education.”

“Hey, if you can afford it, great!”

“That’s the point sir. The proposal is that everyone pitches in together so that everyone has access to quality healthcare and education.”

“Everyone? Together? That sounds like … socialism … or something.”

“Yes, sir, though I believe it’s been called ‘civilization’ for a bit longer.”

“Still sounds fishy. Don’t like it. Next?”

“Very good sir. Well, there is this proposal that large banks and other financial institutions shouldn’t be able to crash the economy if they make poor decisions.”

“Hmmmm. What do the people who run the banks and other financial institutions think?”

“Oh, they quite hate the idea.”

“Then why are you bringing this up? Since when do we tell people they have to do things they don’t want to?”

“Hammurabi?”

“Who? Sounds foreign.”

“Yes sir.”

“Great meeting. The best, really. Can we table everything else until later?”

“Of course, sir. Shall I call Mrs. Trump?”

Posted in Nothing in Particular

2016 can chill the hell out

No great insights today. January has been a surreal month. What was supposed to be a relaxing getaway the first week of the year turned into a strange case of divided attention. We spent the week physically where we thought we’d be, but our thoughts were elsewhere. Then we got back and Carla immediately left to go see her father. I followed as soon as I was finished helping with the interviews for the person that is to replace me at the job I’ve chosen to move on from. Then it was back home for about a week and a half and we’re finishing out the month back in Gibson City, IL. My fathe-in-law is doing great, but there are some things you just have to be present for to do.

As the great Vonnegut observed, “And so it goes.”

Posted in Nothing in Particular

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