March 31, 2006


So I'm watching "American Idol" the other night (yes, I'll admit to loving pathetically bad TV) when it hits me:

Where have I seen Ace Young's face before?


God, he looks familiar.

I mean, really familiar. Too familiar.

Think, Jeffrey. Think!


That's it!

Posted by Jeff at 08:37 AM | Comments (4)


Saw this press release the other day:

CFC Productions
Empire Night Club - Casting call
1902 E.7th Ave, Tampa

CFC is holding a casting call at Empire Night Club, Saturday April 1st from 3-8 pm for our upcoming film. The even wil be an erotic women's wrestling tournament hosted by celebrity Ron Jeremy. Women ages 18-30 are encouraged to apply. No previous experience necessary. For more info visit

Hmmm. I think I know the perfect woman for the job.


Oh, wait. She wants to be a journalist.


The Tampa Tribune's Dan Ruth put it perfectly:

There might be some suggestion that a woman with a checkered past, a host of legal problems, struggles with mental illness and a sexual history of Mata Hari-esque ill repute is disqualified from daring to enter the hallowed inner sanctum of a news organization.

To which it might be suggested - come on in, Deb, the water's fine. You'll feel right at home.

Speaking of Debra LaFave, I just realized I never revealed the results of the "Who Should Play Debra LaFave In The Lifetime Movie" poll I did some months back.

The numbers are in:


Jennie Garth

29 percent


Gwyneth Paltrow

4 percent


Jaime Pressley

17 percent


Bea Arthur

50 percent

You can still vote for your favorite here:

Posted by Jeff at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2006



Oh man. This ought to be good.

What's the back window say?


The guy at the wheel was kickin' back in a wife beater with the windows down, the non-functioning AC turned off and some Jay-Z on the stereo.

I imagined for a moment that it was Kevin Federline behind the wheel and that he was on his way to see his baby's momma's naked pregnant body sculpture exhibit.

Word, yo.


How cheep can you be?

I'm super! Thanks for asking.

Would you like an apple pie with that?

Hearse so good.

Drive fast, take chances.

Riding with Fab the deejay.

Beware of the Death Explorer.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

My other car is a rocket-propelled grenade.

Live long and prosper. In an Altima.

Just two good ol' boys.

Asshats aplenty.

Nicotine is my crash helmet.

Jazz hands moms.

Ugly lug nuts.

Pretty ballsy.

My honor student can kick your ass.

Garfield mudflaps.

Horse and buddy.

Posted by Jeff at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)


Last week, my Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), sent photos upon his return to his Alaska homestead. He particularly noted a dangerous glacial overhang off his back porch.


He writes:

OK, this will be the last of "The Moose Lodge Glacier."

We walked to the garage til about 6:30 last night. About 8:30 I was watching tv and heard a loud crash. I thought it might be Cecile upstairs dropping something on the floor.

Got up 6:30-ish this morning and thought I'd better check outside just in case.

Yep, the crash I heard was the ice and snow breaking off and falling.


As you can see, it was no less than 16 inches thick and the section thar broke off was 5 feet or more. To think, about a month ago we visited our brother Carl and wife Mollie. We were at their hunting lodge and we saw about 25 snow flakes falling~~!! We thought that to be so beautiful-------UUUGGGHHHH what a difference.

If someone would have been under that, they would be in the hospital today - at least.

There still, as you can also see, is a 3-foot overhang on the other section of the roof. I expect in a day or two that will be sliding and breaking off too.

Sooo, that is that is the end of that story, and I've got a lot of shoveling to do.

Now, I got to look for some grizzly bear stories to pass on. Spring is here and they'll be around soon. another UUGGHH~~!!



Ice, ice, baby.

Winter's coming. Time to head south.

Space invaders.

A little snack on the porch.

The salmon don't stand a chance.

Fish tales. Big time.

The Last Fuzzy Slipper Frontier.

There's a bar in them thar country.

Flowers are a-bloomin'.

The fog rolls in.

Moose intruder.

On their way home.

Sunsets, salmon and civil ceremonies.

Volcanoes, churches and halibut.

Eagle tree, limb by limb.

A fantasy RV for The Last Frontier.

Heading north to the homestead.

Publicizing moose-shaped tubers.

Posted by Jeff at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)


Flatulence qualifies as highbrow humor at Casa del Ensalada. At least, the artificial kind does.

Here's a little comedy math for you:


Dog + Remote Control Fart Machine + Chasing


= Peals of hysterical, immature laughter.

So when a neighbor gave Salad Boy a $10 gift card to Toys R Us, he naturally had to find the toy that best fit his prepubescent nature:


What's this?


The Stinkblaster!!!

Wait. What does it do?


Oh, Billy.




Unlike his father.

Not the stinky part. The silent part.


Great Caesar's ghost! It even matches the kid!


I think we've made a love connection.

But wait. How much is it?


I know that's right!

Posted by Jeff at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)



We didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the world's been turning.

Posted by Jeff at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2006


A little glimpse inside the glamorous world of culinary journalism:

I decided to do a story pegged to Major League Baseball's opening day about the many ways food and baseball intersect. I mean, they have a "home plate," for crying out loud. They hit "taters." They call the ball an "egg." There had to be something I could do with that.

So I talked to a baseball linguist who had written a book. And I heard that the new skipper for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Joe Maddon, was a big food and wine guy, so I arranged for an interview.

I went and hung out in the clubhouse after one of the early spring training workouts and waited a couple hours until all the beat writers and TV people had done their interviews. Maddon sat down and gave me a great interview.

Then a week or so later, I got an idea to have him pose with a table setting, only with home plate instead of a dinner plate. The D-Rays P.R. guy, Rick Vaughn was gracious enough to set it up and we were ready a couple days after that.

So I show up at the training complex in St. Pete one day. Of course it's overcast. To the point of almost raining. I've lugged a table, chair, place setting, tablecloth, wine and wine glasses, you name it. And now it looked like garbage outside.

Photographer Mark Guss and I waited again until all the beat writers were done. And the TV crews. And waited. And waited.

Ever the optimist, Mark decided that the impending rain was a good thing. "If we can get this shot before the storm, it'll make for nice light,'' he said.

Meanwhile we set up the table and chair and place setting just to be ready.

Only problem was, the groundskeepers needed to do their job.


So we moved the table and chair and place setting...

Then the lawn guys had us move the table again.


Then the clouds parted and bright sun shone through.

Still the optimist, Mark said, "No, this is good. It'll make nice color this way."

Maddon eventually rode up on a golf cart, got off, shook hands, sat down and asked what we wanted him to do. He noticed the bottle.

"Hey, a rose'," he said, pegging it right away.

We asked him to open the bottle and pour a glass. Then he noticed the label on the bottle: Ménage à Trois.

"Oh, I'm gonna get so much shit for this in the clubhouse from the guys,'' he said.

Five minutes later, we were done.

Here is one of the photos Mark made:


You can read the story by clicking here.

Posted by Jeff at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2006


I'm endlessly fascinated by the recipe variations people make in their kitchens.

Maybe it's because when I was a kid, my mom let me and my friend Keith experiment with a blender to make our own milkshakes. We used milk and ice cream, of course. Then we'd throw in chocolate syrup, peanut butter, raw eggs, you name it. It tasted like ca-ca, but to us, it was frozen nectar of the gods.

That's what happens in some people's kitchens. They tweak recipes and try new things. Sometimes it's treasure. Sometimes it's trash. Most times it's trash that tastes like treasure to them.

So when my friend and former colleague Mike Taylor, who also invented and sells a great office device called the Cubescope shared some pictures of a recent breakfast he made, I felt the need to pass along his wisdom.

Mike writes:

Facing a big day of yard work Sunday, I needed a breakfast that would stick to the ribs. Introducing:


½ package Ore-Ida frozen hash browns
3 eggs
½ onion
2 ½ cups homemade chili con turkey carne
1 ½ cups Original Frito’s Corn Chips


Begin cooking hash browns according to directions on package. (Medium-high heat). Top with finely chopped onion. When skillet-side is browned, flip potatoes. (To facilitate flipping, cut circle of hash browns into quarters with edge of spatula and flip each fourth separately using a large spatula.)

Nudge hash-brown quarters back into place to form unified circle. Using edge of spatula again, gently tamp potatoes starting in the center and moving outward to create a small depression in potato mass.

Crack three eggs and let them settle into potato depression. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes.


When egg whites begin to go from clear to solid white, add 1/16 cup of water directly to skillet metal (not onto food) and cover. Allow to steam-cook until yolks are done according to individual preference, usually when watery giggliness is eliminated but the yolks are not yet cooked to a solid state

Main floor:

Reduce heat to low. Top potato foundation with homemade chili con turkey carne and cover for 4½ minutes.

Penthouse level:


Top with Fritos Original Corn Chips.

Enjoy with your favorite low-calorie sports drink.

Or, what the hell, you’ve come this far … a big glass of eggnog.


Serves: 1

Posted by Jeff at 12:36 PM | Comments (3)

March 27, 2006


So, I was walking back to my car from the Best of Tampa Bay food orgy at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Saturday night when I noticed what sounded like a huge, thundering explosion and a cloud of illuminated dust coming from downtown.

Great, I thought. Someone else has flown into a building downtown.

I followed the noise to North Franklin Street and found this scene:


It was the old Maas Brothers department store being torn down. Finally.

After the store closed in 1991, the 89-year-old building sat abandoned as downtown withered to what it is now. People have haggled over whether to refurbish it, but condo developers who originally bought it to restore the building have instead decided to build a 33-story condo.

I grew up with Maas Brothers in downtown St. Petersburg (where the International Museum is now) and at Tyrone Square Mall (Where Macy's is now, I think) but never made it to this one. I liked the one in downtown St. Pete because it had a great restaurant that overlooked the main sales floor and it also had a basement with a toy department - and no one in Florida had a basement, much less one with toys in it.

More Maas memories: Salad Wife bought her wedding dress at the Maas at Westshore, I believe. I had a girlfriend in school who worked at the cosmetics counter at the Tyrone Store. One of my cousins did, too. Salad Mother-In-Law told me yesterday that the store in downtown Tampa had an old, wood escalator and that she'd go to the store for lunch. When I'd ride my bike downtown last year during lunch, I'd ride past just get a look at the big mural on the south brick wall. I always loved the font that Maas Brothers used in its nameplate. It seemed so glamorous. (You can see the building in all its glory by clicking here.)

A couple years ago, I worked on a project at the Trib that collected the memories of people who shopped at Maas Brothers downtown.

My favorite came from a reader in Valrico:

It was 1960. I was a sophomore at St. Pete High - and so proud to shed my glasses for contact lenses. I was the second person at the high school to wear them. My mother, a widowed school teacher, must have sacrificed a lot so that I could have contacts. After wearing them only one week, I was riding the escalator at Maas when one the the lenses popped out and disappeared between the steps. I was nearly unconsolable. It must have been a Friday evening (the store was rarely open in the evening), but Mr. Futch, an assistant manager (and the father of one of my classmates) assured me that he would look for it after the store closed. Shortly after 9 that evening, he called our home to let us know ... he had taken off his shoes and, flashlight in hand, had gone into the bowels of the escalator. And he found one, unscratched contact lens. I was relieved and ecstatic - and have never forgotten Mr. Futch - or that delightful store where I learned to shop, where I was so lucky to have Christmas vacation jobs while in high school and college, and where I bought my wedding dress. That was probably my last purchase in the St Pete store. I moved across the bay and shopped the WestShore Plaza store until the end.

Anyway, I snapped these photos on Saturday night:



I was the only one out there. Seems like there should have been more fanfare. Maybe the developers figured that this is the kind of thing you sneak in on a Saturday night. (To see a larger version of the above photo, click here.)

Posted by Jeff at 08:00 AM | Comments (5)


The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco) got a new baby brother last week: Sombrero Project Part Seis.

Included in this batch is this great photo of my colleague The Colonel clutching an Our Lady of Guadalupe blanket:


What is Our Lady of Guadalupe?

I'll let this site explain:

In 1531 a "Lady from Heaven" appeared to a poor Indian at Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City; she identified herself as the Mother of the True God, instructed him to have the bishop build a temple on the site and left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth, which should have deteriorated in 20 years but shows no sign of decay 474 years later and still defies all scientific explanations of its origin. It apparently even reflects in her eyes what was in front of her in 1531!

Her message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection to all mankind, as well as the story of the apparitions, are described in the "Nican Mopohua", a 16th century document written in the native Nahuatl language.
There is reason to believe that at Tepeyac Mary came in her glorified body, and her actual physical hands rearranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma, which makes this apparition very special.
An incredible list of miracles, cures and interventions are attributed to Her. Yearly, an estimated 10 million visit her Basilica, making her Mexico City home the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic church in the world next to the Vatican.

Anyway, OLOG is very big in Mexican circles. And whenever we eat at El Taconazo, we see the shrine set up in the main dining room.

I saw a blanket with the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) on it a couple years ago at the 'Nazo but didn't have the scratch to pony up for it at the time. By the time I did, the damn thing wa sold.

I waited and waited, kept looking for it, but they never restocked. When we went in two weeks ago, they finally ordered another one, a queen-size version. I was not to be denied.

And you know what? It's actually a pretty nice blanket. Very heavy, very warm and soft. It's now the Official Cold Weather Blanket of the Valrico Sit-Out. At least during cold months.

But I'm not a total fool for anything the 'Nazo puts on sale. For example, I didn't buy this bag of candy:


My reason? Well, look at the label.


Mmmmmmmmmmm. Them's good eats.

And in case you didn't get the point that this is all about the pollo...


They put the international symbol for poultry on each lollipop.

Didn't Sylvester see this image right before he tried to eat Tweety?

Just asking.

Posted by Jeff at 07:41 AM | Comments (1)

March 25, 2006



So I spent the better part of the week covering the 42nd Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando. You can read the story I wrote by clicking here. There's a photo gallery I contributed to as well.

What was it like?


Think NASCAR-level commercialism + Food Network-level creative frenzy + "Stepford Wives" creepiness.

I particularly liked this scene, repeated 99 times. Every time a dish was taken to the judges for consideration, it got an escort from someone who looked like they worked at Best Buy to make sure no one accidentally got in the way of a contestant and spilled a plate.

As you can see, it didn't exactly work on this TV crew. They merely ignored the threatening visage that khakis, a baby-blue Polo pullover and a neck lanyard can impose.

Digressive rhetorical question: Why is it that any time there's something worthy of video documentation, news crews endowed with cameras stronger than the Hubble Telescope insist on being 3 inches from whatever it is they're trying to videotape?

I so enjoy this phenomenon.

I remember covering the Iditarod in 1991 and being, literally, in the middle of Possum Ass, Alaska. There's no one anywhere in the vicinity of us for, say, 4,000 miles. Anyway, I'm interviewing a Russian musher as he's trying to feed his dogs and bed them down for a nap.

All of a sudden, a white helicopter comes buzzing over us, lands about 20 yards away, blows snow all over us, wakes the dogs, topples the sled, scatters their food. The whole ball of wax.

A camera crew - shooter, boom mike, producers, alleged reporter - come running from the copter ready to make some TV magic. They trudge over to where I'm doing my interview. But they don't care. As I'm asking a question in the middle of Possum Ass, Camera Dick gets, I swear, 4 centimeters away from this guy's face. In the process, I'm physically pushed out of the way, as if this is a hockey puck and I'm being checked against the boards in the corner.

Nikolai, the musher, is tired. He's been hallucinating for three nights on the trail due to lack of sleep. He thinks the trees are singing Russian love songs to him. It's minus-10 out. He's in Possum Ass, many thousands of miles away from his freshly liberated Russian province. And now Mike Love in a day-glo ABC Sports hat is trying to do a video colo-rectal job on him.

"Uh," I say to "reporter" Jack Arute. "Could you get the fuck out of my interview?"

Arute ignores me. Mike Love ignores me. In fact, he pushes in closer.

"We'll be done in a minute,''' Arute says.

I stand there. I wait. They interview the musher. They take off in their pretty helicopter. (Note to TV pricks: white helicopters in the winter in Alaska = bad idea. No one can find you for 8 months when you lose a tail rotar. And, just so you know, rescue searchers don't exert a lot of effort to look for TV people. You get, like, 45 minutes of search time, tops.)

Anyway, the Russian musher, fatigued from this bullshit cowboy parachute interview, says he's too tired to talk. "Imuzputbootyondogz,'' he says. Great. Thanks, guys.

Turns out, the ABC guys were staying at the same boarding house I was. I have no idea how it happened, but all the network hats and shirts and buttons and badges they had been using to hit on lonely village women suddenly disappeared. Oh, and their toothbrushes smelled like the under side of a toilet seat all of a sudden when they got back from flying around one afternoon.

Amazing thing, that karma.


Okay, I went back and re-read the post and I have to say the Stepford comment was a bit harsh. Only a handful of the 99 finalists were like that. I met many a lovely person there who was passionate about food and who had some perspective and good humor. Like Rebecca Nurse, above, of Waterford, Pa. She's a yoga instructor who made a healthy, tasty Cinnamon-Fruit Snack Mix. She jumped in to calm one overexcited contestant with some emergency deep-breathing techniques. ("I told her, 'Go to the river... go to the river...'") She told me that if she had won, she was going to take one of her girlfriends to Vegas. Her friend's son has leukemia and the mom needs a vacation from the stress.

What did winner Anna Ginsberg say she wanted to buy with her $1 million prize? A bounce house for her 4-year-old daughter.


Jenny Flake of Gilbert, Az., was a sweetheart, too. She made Toasted Mexi-Meatball Hoagies. She's holding up the charm bracelet she wears. Each time she's made it to a cooking contest final, she buys a charm.

Jenny wears a lot of charms.

Then there was Sita Lepczyk Williams of Blacksburg, Va., who was making Black Bean-Chorizo Soup in Tortilla Bowls.


Sita is a bank teller and a silversmith and she made the shamrock necklace she was wearing for good luck.


She also made a ring that was supposed to represent the dish she was making.


See, the black jewel is the black bean and the green one is the green chile and the swirls are steam rising from the skillet and the... oh nevermind.

There were a few people I met that I wouldn't let near a set of potholders, much less give access to electrical kitchen machinery. And not every dish looked or tasted appetizing.


Curried Chicken Salad Waffle Sandwiches, you say? I'll pass.


I called this enchilada dish, "The Crazy Stalker.''

A Side Note:


There's absolutely no truth to the rumor that I had planned to wear a shirt at the bake-off that read, "I POKED THE DOUGHBOY."

None whatsoever.



I had nothing to do with this.

I swear.

Posted by Jeff at 07:08 PM | Comments (1)


Seems like everyone's in the mood to remodel their potty these days. First Jacqueline created a lavish bathroom Louis XIV could love. Now Monkey's in the mood. And what he's found in the process isn't attractive. All you need to know: He's titled his post, "86 years of pee."


Oh man, I can't wait to get in that bathroom and start busting shit apart with my crowbar. We've already torn the baseboard out and peered underneath the tub — the original 1920 tub, mind you — where we found piles of fossilized rat feces, an acorn, (apparently we had squirrels living under our tub) and Gary Cherone.

Our plan is to restore the bathroom back to its natural 1920's Craftsman Bungalow glory, complete with subway tile and the original 1x1-inch hex floor, which is still intact. (Obsessive Bungaloids may recognize these terms I throw about so loosely in hopes that others will be tricked into thinking I'm knowledgeable.)

So we'll break some stuff, hire a couple of plumbers and electricians, and in a few weeks we'll be able to lift the fatwa we issued on the bathroom. (As a total aside, has anyone noticed that fatwas only get issued and jihad can only be declared? Nobody never declares a fatwa or issues jihad. Those damn Arabs are so particular.)

Posted by Jeff at 01:15 PM | Comments (1)



I love me some mechanized Satan crushing.

Hat tip to Mary Shedden.

Posted by Jeff at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)


When we last heard from my Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), he was closing up his cabin on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and heading back to his home in Florida for the winter.


Well, winter's over. At least for him. There might still be a ton of snow on the ground up north, but once Pete hits the beginning of March, he starts to itch for The Great Land and he hauls his beautiful bride Cecile to Alaska.

The both of them are so beloved that when they come home, they're beseiged by friends and neighbors and relatives. When they go back to Alaska from March to September, they're beseiged by friends and neighbors and relatives.

What a perfect life.

Anyway, he's back where he loves it most and sends along his first batch of photos for the year.


He writes:

The sunset was taken last night. (Thurs.)

We got to our home at 7:30 and after unloading our vehicle, I dedided to get a pix of the sunset looking down our street. That is [Mount] Redoubt in the background. Now I wish I would have taken it the instant we got here but you get the idea of just how beautiful it was.



The other pix are of the ice slowly sliding off our Metal Roof. It is hanging over 3 feet, I sure don't want to be under it when it finally breaks off. It is like a glacier.

It is cold here, I have a lot of shoveling to do to get our walkways and deck cleaned off as it is tough walking in snow about 22 inches deep. It is melting fast, we are getting a little above 40~~!!!! That is today. We still will be in the low teens at night but it will move on up quickly.

We now have 12 hours of daylight, we will gain 5 minutes of day light every day til June 21st the longest day of the year. Practically daylight 24 hours.

We can't plant any flowers til Memorial day, the last day in May. Still chances of hard freezes that would kill your plants. After that, the greatest growing anywhere because of the daylight and just perfect temps - 65 to 70 days, which is great. ~~~Better than 90s at least to us.


Winter's coming. Time to head south.

Space invaders.

A little snack on the porch.

The salmon don't stand a chance.

Fish tales. Big time.

The Last Fuzzy Slipper Frontier.

There's a bar in them thar country.

Flowers are a-bloomin'.

The fog rolls in.

Moose intruder.

On their way home.

Sunsets, salmon and civil ceremonies.

Volcanoes, churches and halibut.

Eagle tree, limb by limb.

A fantasy RV for The Last Frontier.

Heading north to the homestead.

Publicizing moose-shaped tubers.

Posted by Jeff at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)

March 20, 2006



Went driving up Parsons Avenue the other day looking for a plant nursery. (Casa del Ensalada needed some freshening up.)

Salad Boy noticed this confluence and was mightily amused:


Hungry Harry's barbecue is right next door to...


Hungry Howie's pizza.


To a 10-year-old, this is the height of hilarity.

When you think of it, though, it is pretty funny.

I mean, how do you give directions to customers who call?

"Hello, thank you for calling Hungry Harry's."

"Yes, where are you located?"

"Right next to Hungry Howie's."

Still, I'd rather have a co-joined hungry-themed restaurant next to me than one that had the words:



Posted by Jeff at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)


Got a press kit in the other day with egg-shaped marshmallow Peeps and decorating gel. (Yes, I know. I get the best mail.)

Anyway, Pat, who designs the Flavor covers at work, surprised me with a portrait.


Look familiar?


Uh, disturbingly so.

I never thought I had an egg-shaped head. Guess I do.

We all had a laugh. Then I dropped it gel side down on my desk.



Wait. What does that look like?


Oh. Now I know.

The Peep of Tourin.

Posted by Jeff at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)

March 18, 2006



A while back, I wrote about a show that was being enjoyed mightily in Casa del Ensalada: "Stella'' on Comedy Central.

It was beyond stupid, but smartly so. (The show's tag line was, "Dumb comedy dressed in a suit.") It reminded me greatly of "The Hudson Brothers Razzle-Dazzle Show" I used to watch on Saturday mornings on CBS when I was a kid.

One of the funniest moments came during one episode when the three main characters, David, Michael and Michael, decide to go camping and almost die before a bearded Mountain Man, played by Tim Blake Nelson, rescues them and tries to teach them about living in the woods. (You can see a video clip by clicking here.)

Mountain Man: Nature can be fun...."

David: "Like boobs?"

Mountain Man: "....sometimes it can be dangerous."

Michael: "Like fire boobs?"

Oh, lord. If my son and I have quoted this line once, we've done it a million times. It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard.

Well, the season finished to mixed reviews and then... nothing. No repeats, no anything.

Then last week, Comedy Central started airing "Stella" repeats. It gave me hope that a second season had been ordered and that they were priming the pump for new episodes by showing the old ones.

Alas, it was not to be:


The STELLA series was on Comedy Central last summer. The network has offcially decided not to renew it for a second season.

Thank you to all the fans for your lobbying and support. Perhaps Stella will return on TV in some other form in the future. In the meantime, Comedy Central occasionally repeats the episodes, and we are currently working on DVD which will have the whole season and lots of cool extras. The DVD release (and possible touring) will be this fall.

I was crestfallen. And I knew Salad Boy, a prepubescent aficionado of slapstick and farce if there ever was one, would be devastated.

So I did something I never do; I tried to contact a couple of the guys on the show. It was all Rupert Pupkin-like, but I didn't care; these guys had touched my soul.

So I sent the following note on Friday to actors Michael Showalter and David Wain:

David and Michael,

“Stella’’ was the one show my 10-year-old son and I could watch and both of us think that neither one of us was getting the jokes and that the other was just fake-giggling to make the other one feel better. It also was a show he and I could simultaneously annoy my wife/his mother with. He’s going to be crushed when I tell him the news tonight.

I don’t know if it says something about my parenting or his advanced awareness of body parts, but we’ve constantly been quoting the “fire boobs” line since it aired. Sometimes, we say it in robot voice. It’s much funnier.

Thanks for the laughs. Looking forward to the DVD – and your next project.



And a few hours later, I got this nice reply from David Wain:

thanks jeff - that's awesome - hopefully we'll do something else before your son goes to college


It reminded me of a quote that Showalter once gave to an answer from a reporter last year about the delayed appreciation of his film, "Wet Hot American Summer":

A: Does that mean it will take four years for people to get "Stella"?

Q: I hope that’s not the trajectory for it. I hope people get it faster than that. There was one review that said in the year 2008 people will love this show. I hope people get it right away because it’s really funny.

Sometimes, we need a little more time to get the joke, apparently.

Here's to looking forward to 2008.

Posted by Jeff at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2006


Gentlemen, start your Tivo.

Then again, maybe not:


NEW YORK, NY, United States -- Actress Morgan Fairchild and comic Mario Cantone will face off in the Food Network`s new reality cook-off show, ''Celebrity Food Fight.''

The one-hour special will be hosted by Al Roker, whose Al Roker Entertainment Inc., is also producing.

The show will follow the celebrity contestants as they are taught by Master Chefs Daniel Boulud and Todd English at New York`s Institute for Culinary Education, then face off in front of a studio audience in a shopping and cooking competition.

Taping was scheduled to take place in New York Tuesday with an air date yet-to-be announced.

Reminds me of that Steve Martin line: "And I believe that the 'Battle of the Network Stars' should be fought with guns."

Oh, and there's this bit of yummy goodness:

P Diddy, NBC cook up primetime reality

Sean 'P Diddy' Combs and Ben Silverman are teaming up to shift cooking from the cable domain as they prepare a primetime cooking competition for US terrestrial NBC this spring.

Blending elements of Food Network's Iron Chef and ABC's Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Cooking Showdown is a five-night reality miniseries that the network is fast-tracking for an April debut.

The week-long battle will pair celebrities with superstar chefs, and according to US reports, chef-restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, Food Network's Cat Cora, and LA chef Govind Armstrong have already committed to the miniseries. No celebrities have been officially attached as yet.

The first three episodes will feature each of the three chefs training a celebrity, who will then go head-to-head with another celeb in a timed competition to create a three-course meal. A panel of judges will choose one winner from each night, with three finalists fighting it out to be the ultimate winner on the Friday.

There will also be a component allowing viewers at home to improve their cooking skills.

Like DIY, which has hit it big on mainstream television after first causing a stir on cable, cooking looks set to be the next genre to make the jump in an effort to score big ratings in the terrestrial space. Fox's Gordon Ramsey series Hell's Kitchen achieved solid ratings last year, and Food Network superstar Rachael Ray will star in a daily syndicated strip this fall.

Combs was reportedly approached because it was thought he could help attract talent to the show, promote it and help with various creative aspects. The fact that he owns two restaurants also probably proved helpful.

Yeah. I own two cars. That doesn't make me Tony Stewart, babe.

In the 1970s and '80s, B-grade stars had "Love Boat." Now they have cooking shows.

Good lord.

Posted by Jeff at 08:22 AM | Comments (1)

March 11, 2006


I have 11 friends.

How do I know?


MySpace tells me so.

Sometimes I amaze myself at the stupid crap I insist on participating in online. What's next, 100 Things About Me?

I can't believe I spent valuable waking hours filling in this lame online warehouse for vanity and insecurity.

I'm firmly convinced that anyone with a MySpace profile past age 25 should be brought up on charges.

Anyone with a MySpace blog past age 16 should be chemically castrated. Or at least strapped down and made to watch "Mannequin" for a week straight. Hey, it worked for Andrew McCarthy.

What am I doing with my life?

Oh. Right. Wasting it.


Posted by Jeff at 05:51 PM | Comments (4)


I'm always proud to boast about the readership of Side Salad. The eclectic mix of visitors and their rainbow of tastes makes this blog so much fun to write for.

Then I occasionally will check my referral links to see how people are finding their way into the Bowl. And I am forced to recalibrate my instruments.

Like this link from Google, for example. I'm so very proud to say that the Salad is the sixth most popular link for this phrase:


How very super.

I'll make this vow: I will close the Salad Bar the day I get a referral from the phrase, "Shelley Winters areola."

Consider it a solemn promise.

Posted by Jeff at 05:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006


BrianFrontPageMug.jpgSalad Boy was on the front page of the Tampa Tribune today for a story on student dress codes. You can click here to see a full-size version of the page.

Those are my ratty shoes he’s wearing. (We forgot his nice shoes at home.) That's his mother's Kiss concert t-shirt. Oh, and he’s not wearing a belt.

My wife was not pleased about the shoes.

What she doesn't know: the page is featured on the Newseum site (second row, eight pages over).

Pray for me.

A side note: I stopped this morning at Starbucks near our home. You have no idea how surreal it is to watch a stranger walk to the counter with a picture of your son on the cover of the newspaper she's holding and pay for it.

Another side note: I told him he’d be big stuff at school today after everyone saw the paper. He was nonplussed.

“Dad, no one reads the paper.”

"What about the teachers?'' I asked.

"They don't read it either."


Posted by Jeff at 08:46 AM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2006



Breakfast buffet operators everywhere must fear... PANCAKE MONSTER.

Posted by Jeff at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2006


So, I've been a bad blogger. I know this. And I've known it for a while. It's amazing what a ding in the fender that something like professional writing responsibilities can inflict upon a blogging career. I've made my apologies before, although none have been requested. I still love to blog - it's the most fun you can have by yourself outside a chat room while typing with both hands.

It hasn't been like I've lacked eventful moments in my life. Or humorous ones. I still see and photograph wack shit on the public roadways. I still see and document weird stuff I find online. Friends still send me missives. I just haven't had the time to pass them along.

So instead of apologies this time, I will say this: I'll try and do better. I don't want to stop blogging. I don't even want to pledge to blog-but-do-it-less-often. I'll just try and blog when I can and leave it at that. Cool?

That said, I have some stuff backed up that I need to unload. And since Side Salad does for the psyche what Colon Blow does for the instestinal tract, I'll do my best to clear the decks, as it were.

Like the batch of photos in this post, for example.

I took these way back in January as part of festivities surrounding a little celebrity dead pool that I belong to.

Each January, a bunch of us selects celebrities that we think will shuffle off this mortal coil during the upcoming calendar year. It's morbid, but then, so is life. Just ask Dana Reeve, Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and Kirby Puckett.

We celebrate the end of the previous year - and the fact that we're all around to see the end of it - by buying a Carvel Cookie Puss Cake and doctoring it up with black icing and whatnot. It's not a celebration of death. That would be wrong. It's an acknowledgment that life is short and each day - and each Puss cake devoured among friends - is to be savored.

We don't take the competition seriously - last year, Rommie picked all his favorite women from the TV sitcoms of his youth. Some people research their lists. This year, I chose a bunch of TV relics:

1. Bob Barker - Nailing all those ""Price is Right'' product models takes its toll.

2. Dick Cavett - Whitest man in America about to go all-white.

3. Mike Douglas - Say goodnight, Mike.

4. Merv Griffin - Gonna die soon. Oooooooooh.

5. Phil Donahue - Can we talk about death, people?

6. Larry King - Those suspenders can only hold him up so long with that kind of heart condition.


8. Regis Philbin - He'd do anything to get away from Ripa. Even die.

9. Mike Wallace - Tick, tick, tick, tick. Your 60 minutes are up.

10. Barbara Walters - How can we miss her if she won't go away?

While we are not entirely serious about our death selections, we are deadly serious about our dedication to the Puss (cake).

How dedicated?


Enough to create a countdown clock to tell us when the next Puss cake will be eaten.


And while I am the Death Commissioner, Karla has, in recent years, become the Puss (cake) transporter.

She's thoughtful enough to pack it in a cooler with ice. She's even gone so far to refuse repayment from the group. Such is her dedication to the celebration.


Quoth the Rommie, circa mid-2002: "Death is cool."


I tell ya that I'm crazy for this Puss cake, cousin!


No communal gathering is truly a celebration without music.

Here, Rommie cues up "Don't Fear The Reaper'' by Blue Oyster Cult on his iPod, connects some speakers and hits "Repeat."

It was a perfect call.


Seasons don't fear the reaper. Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain.

I gotta have more cowbell.


Black icing really does make the cake.


Too much black icing and the cake slides dangerously close to looking like Liza. Or Ozzie. Or some other nearly deceased celebrity with a Z in their name.


That's some tasty Puss (cake).


The siren call of Puss beckons even to the sturdiest soul, including to "Killing Fields" Krause.


It's true what they say: A spoonful of Puss (cake) does make the medicine go down.


It's hard to resist free Puss (cake).


The clock is reset for January 2007.

Posted by Jeff at 08:08 PM | Comments (4)