UNFORTUNATE PRODUCT NAME:
Bong Spirit vodka
Because if there's an image you want to associate about the purity of your vodka, it's bong water.
UNFORTUNATE DISPLAY OF 'MANTIES':
This guy, who was getting a fake tattoo applied by a woman pimping booze.
Remember boys, if you're going to the FNSBW&FF, wear your cool underwear.
UNFORTUNATE PIMPED-OUT RIDE:
This Chevy Impala
When people point and laugh at your sled as you cruise down Deco Drive, you may want to pull back on the Iron Cross spinners.
UNFORTUNATE PROMOTIONAL BANNER PLACEMENT:
This sign, which was planted outside Stage A, where Anthony Bourdain was doing all of his appearances.
You don't think Food Network was trying to retaliate for this lovely bit of writing, do you?
Neither do I.
UNFORTUNATE LENGTH OF MINISKIRT WORN BY A DRAG QUEEN:
I've never been more thankful for pantyhose in my life.
UNFORTUNATE GROUP POSE WITH A FAMOUS CHEF:
This group corraled "Top Chef" co-host Tom Colicchio outside Bourdain's session.
Problem No. 1: The woman on the left, who was clearly pickled, kept screaming, "Are you someone I should know? Are you a celebrity?"
Colicchio took it very, very well and kept posing.
Until Problem No. 2 arose:
The women who were shooting the photo of the group decided arbitrarily that while they had their celebrity chef waiting, they'd take their own photo instead. Because, you know, he has loads of time to kill and wants only to spend it posing with people who only vaguely know who he is.
UNFORTUNATE BOOK SIGNING MOMENT:
Came while Tyler Florence and Rachael Ray were autographing books for their fans.
The fans were more than polite. Ray did her best under difficult circumstances to smile for everyone who was screaming her name from all angles.
Which, of course, drew some onlookers from the adjacent beach.
Hey, Larry. Moe and Shemp called. They want you to put your pants on.
UNFORTUNATE KODAK MOMENT:
Cost to ask a security guard to take your photo at the FNSBW&FF: Nothing.
Value of "letting it all hang out" with the girls at South Beach: (Warning: The link below is not safe for work)
Oddly, this was the second unveiling I saw within about a 10 minute span.
SUGGESTED SONG WITH THIS POST: "Here For The Party" by Gretchen Wilson
I'm staying only two doors down from the News Cafe, the place Gianni Versace used to brunch at. It was here that he ate on the morning he was murdered.
But the one time I ate there, the food was extremely mediocre and overpriced.
So when I got a tip about a great spot for breakfast - 8 1/2, a restaurant in the Hotel Clinton - I decided to give it a shot.
I biked over there this morning to find... no one there. This was a tiny, tiny place wedged between two buildings.
I walked through the hotel lobby, asked the concierge if the place was open and he said yes. All I had to do was walk down a hallway.
Anyway, the tip I had said to try the Challah bread French toast. The batter includes coffee and the toast is dressed with sliced strawberries, peaches and a scoop of coffee ice cream on top.
I thought for a few seconds about trying the Orange Ricotta Pancakes.
"Which one would you suggest?"
"French toast," said Brian, the server.
Brian was right.
This was one of the best breakfasts I've had. Hand's down. The challah was fresh baked. The coffee in the batter and the scoop weren't overpowering. Instead, they gave the dish a smoky flavor. And the strawberries and peaches freshened everything up.
Served with a cup of La Colombe coffee and it was absolutely perfect.
SUGGESTED SONG FOR THIS POST: "Black Coffee" by k.d. lang
So, I attended the inaugural Food Network Awards last night at the Jackie Gleason theater.
I'm contractually obligated not to reveal the results of the awards because the show won't be aired until April 15.
What I can contractually say is that this was truly one of the most craptacular nights of my life.
I understand that the first time you do anything can be kind of awkward and balky and full of disappointment and mishaps and prematurity. But this was televised disaster on an epic scale.
Yes, they had a red carpet. Yes, there were celebrities, including the Princess of All Media, Rachael Ray (above, with her husband, John, who is even creepier in person than he is in this rumor.).
Best line of the day which later became apropos, uttered by chef Norman Van Aken during a panel discussion at the FNSBW&FF, when asked what Food Network personality would he least want to be on a desserted island with: "If it was Rachael Ray, I'd swim the f**k back to shore." When the audience erupted in laughter, a satisfied and moderately beer-soaked Norman leaned back, propped up his leg on the dais and yelled, "YUMMOOOOOO!"
But I digress.
Other celebrities doing the red carpet walk?
Tony the tiger. Colonel Sanders. The Keebler Elf. The California Raisins. Snap, Crackle & Pop. Charlie Tuna. What looked to be a mascot of undetermined gender or identification wearing a chef's jacket and toque.
I'm not making this up.
Oh yeah. Catherine Zeta-Jones was there to pimp her upcoming movie "No Reservations" and hand out a $100,000 Culinary Institute of America scholarship.
Her being there was like finding a diamond in a bowl of Fancy Feast.
Reminded me of "Sesame Street": Three of these things go together. One of these things just doesn't belong.
Tangential question: Why does a culinary education cost $100,000? I mean, I know it's New York City and all, but seriously. Are they frying Krugerrands? Are James Beard and Julia Child coming back from the grave to teach classes? For 100 bucks, I'll get you a job cleaning dishwasher food traps so you can know the meaning of working your way up.
Want to see a photographic definition of irrelevence?
Yes, that's Aaron Eckhart, Zeta-Jones' love interest in "No Reservations" and star of "Thank You For Smoking."
He arrived at the same time as CZ-J. There were about a dozen photographers and videographers on the rope line of the red carpet.
Number who photographed Catherine Zeta-Jones: 11
Number who photographed Aaron Eckhart: 1 (Not including me)
She finally had to throw him a limp-wristed rescue pinky to drag him back to the snaparazzi shoreline. He took the pinkie and turned it into a full death-grip hand-grab that cried out for attention.
Poor schmuck. He looked like he wanted to crawl into the Charlie Tuna costume.
It all went downhill from there.
The theater was only about 3/4 full at the 9:30 p.m. start of the show. Midway through, the stage went dark after a lighting control board blew out and had to be replaced. Forty five minutes later, half the audience - which had paid up to $80 per ticket - had evacuated the building. Show fluffers dressed in all-black t-shirt-and-slacks outfits and wearing McDonalds drive-thru headset walkie-talkies had to urge people from the back and from the balcony to move closer to the front of the stage to fill Vesuvius-sized craters in many rows as people left to go to dinner or get a drink or shoot themselves under the tongue with a lethal-size crystal meth speedball.
At one point, someone replaced the night's host, Emeril Lagasse, with an Emerilbot 5000. Unwisely, he kept going off the mind-numbing text on the prompter and filling in with various Emerilisms.
Number of times Emerilbot 5000 screamed "BAM!" while dealing with an awards envelope that wouldn't tear open: 1
Estimated number of times Emerilbot 5000 said, "Is anyone out there hungry?": 412
Estimated number of times Emerilbot 5000 received only tepid response to the question: 409
By the time the clock struck midnight-plus-30 - remember, this all started on the red carpet at 6:30 p.m. - all but about 200 people had left the auditorium.
FN star Alton Brown, he of "Good Eats" fame, nonverbally spoke for the entire audience when leaned over on the podium on one elbow, took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes and shook his head.
Number of times verbal allusions to sexual congress were made during awards banter by male presenters paired with Giada DiLaurentiis, Nigella Lawson, Sandra Lee and Robin Miller: 3,487,613
Number of times verbal allusions to sexual congress were made during awards banter by male presenters paired with Rachael Ray: 0
Number of times Alton Brown made a joke about the inability to eat only one scoop of ice cream at a time at while standing next to full-bodied-yet-still-blazing-hot Nigella Lawson: 1
"I don't even know who half these people are," a woman sitting next to me in a lime-green halter dress said. She said she had cooked for Mario Batali in one of his New York City kitchens but was moving to San Francisco. He just had a stroke about four months ago, she says. Oh, I say. Because, you know, what else are you gonna say when someone breaks federal HIPAA rules to spackle an unconfortable silence in conversation?
"I came here for job prospects," she then says.
She then offers proof of her profession by proudly showing me her scars.
"How else do you think I got these burn marks on my arms?" she says.
I considered replying, "Trying to kill yourself so you didn't have to see the rest of this awards ceremony," but I thought that was a little too flippant for the moment.
"I think this is like 'Survivor,'" I told her. "Last one here gets a Food Network show."
"I'm staying then."
Ten minutes later she was gone.
Five minutes after that, a food critic friend of mine from another newspaper started snoring in the seat behind me.
He wasn't alone. During one commercial break, a woman in the row in front of me and about 10 seats to my left passed out with her hair dangling over the back of her seat. Two hours earlier, she had been doing the Arsenio-dog-bark and yelling, "I love you!" to Paula Deen and Rachael Ray and just about anyone who has ever been on camera on the network.
When the show came back from commercial and the show fluffers begged the audience with wild arm-flapping gesticulations to get them to applaud, she jolted back to consciousness and began clapping as if her hands were stuck to defibrilator paddles.
I was filled with awe and wonder in the face of a mile-deep commitment to crap entertainment that I simply would never be able to summon.
Number of Anna Nicole Smith jokes Emerilbot 5000 made: 1
Number of Anna Nicole Smith jokes that will be edited out by April 15: 1
If forced to pick the most profound moment of the night, I'd have to say it came during the awarding of Humanitarian of the Year.
Due to contractual obligations, I cannot tell you who won, but I can say that the person was beyond deserving. He/she may have been overqualified for the honor, in fact.
As he/she took the stage to deliver his/her acceptance speech, the crowd slowly rose to its feet, one-by-one-by-one, to applaud him/her. They simply lacked the energy - not to mention the will to live - to rise in unison. By now, about 300 people were left in the theater.
And as he/she began to speak, people began to use the upright positions of their fellow audience members as an opportunity to camoflage a sneak-out.
And as he/she broke down in tears during his/her speech due to the depth of emotion he/she felt for being recognized for his/her efforts, people kept leaving. Tears were falling almost as fast as the attendance.
And as the hour crawled across broken glass to finally reach 12:45 in the a.m., there were only about 200 people left in the theater. The show officially lasted longer than Gerald Ford's funeral.
Emerilbot 5000 brought the show to a close, and all of the Food Network stars came out to take a bow.
Then the director stopped the glad-handing to ask - get this - that the audience not leave yet. Emeril had botched a line earlier in the show and "we need to do a pickup."
So the 12 people remaining who weren't being paid to be there stopped, begrudgingly, and then achieved an angry silence at the director's repeated behests. And then Emerilbot 5000 announced one of the nominees for Best Food Read, which, according to him earlier in the show, was named "Freckie Juice" instead of the correct "Freckle Juice."
It was a perfect, frecking end to a frecking terrible night.
UPDATE: If you think I'm exaggerating, check out this post from The Palm Beach Post.
Best find of the weekend so far?
The new Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream bars being given out by Haagen Dazs.
Dina, one of three tipsy women from Fort Lauderdale I met at the Anthony Bourdain event, said, "OHMIGOD YOU HAVE TO GO GET ONE OF THESE."
So I did.
Holy hell, they were good. And I don't even care that much for pomegranate.
Another Houck Food Rule: Trust the palates and cravings of slightly inebriated women, for from their public intoxication will come the truth of what they truly crave to eat.
The pom pops are part of a new line of ice cream Haagen Dazs is putting out in March.
Keep an eye out in stores. They'll be about 50 cents more per box, but what's the difference when the ice cream is already so expensive?
And besides, these are more than worth it.
SUGGESTED SONG FOR THIS POST: "Cream" by Prince
SUGGESTED SONG FOR THIS POST: "Foxey Lady" by Jimi Hendrix
Asking Eric Ripert to take your photo with Anthony Bourdain at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival is like handing the Pope a disposable Kodak and asking "Can you do me a favor?" while you pose with Keith Richards.
SUGGESTED SONG FOR THIS POST: "Loser" by Beck
This was not the worst outfit I saw this day. Not by a country mile.
Her outfit is pretty bad, too.
SUGGESTED SONG FOR THIS POST: "Dress You Up" by Madonna.
Something I never want to see again, courtesy of the Grand Tasting tent at the FNSBW&FF:
French mime clowns promoting champagne while dancing to "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag.
:::room spinning.... head exploding:::::
SUGGESTED SONG FOR THIS POST: "Naked Eye" by Lucious Jackson
Best food I've had here so far? (I know, I've only been here for about 12 hours.)
Has to be the Saussison Sec (French sausage) sandwich I had at La Sandwicherie. It's a little walk-up, sit-at-a-barstool-along-the-window shop on 14th Avenue.
I had no idea what it was, but it sounded more exotic than "turkey sandwich" on the menu.
Eat local, I always say. Even if it's local for Paris instead of Miami. Oh, and if the menu has something on it that looks out of place, it probably was put there out of love by the restaurant owner.
This approach paid huge dividends on this occasion..
Look at that thing. It's the Anjolina Jolie of sandwiches. Fresh-baked French bread. Fresh onions, green peppers, olives, the works.
The secret ingredient:
This attention to detail has brought the shop a dedicated following among the clubgoers of South Beach, who soak their livers and then seek culinary repair through the absorbtion of comfort food at La Sandwicherie.
It also has earned them a mention in the Zagat directory, which said the following:
I also dug this place for it's "bug-zapper" effect. The neon sign and warm lighting attracts all kinds of night crawlers. It's quite the human buffet. Lots of braids and dreads. Lots of body glitter. Lots of back tats.
What else is in the neigborhood?
World class dive bar. Certainly explains some of the clientele.
Heh. It'd be funny if I came home with a tattoo of a French sandwich on my forearm.
This place is chock full of bad decisions just waiting to be fertilized.
SUGGESTED SONG FOR THIS POST: "Corners Of My Mind" by Nikka Costa
So I when I check in at The Pelican last night, I ask the woman at the front counter, "Where's your bike rack."
She looks at me like I just shoved a piece of Roquefort up her nose.
I brought my bike last year and it saved me a ton of walking. Plus, I got to see a ton of Miami Beach that I normally wouldn't have seen. It's a great way to see a place you have no idea about.
"We don't really... have a bike rack."
Oh, okay, I say.
Time to go in CAUBSM (Complete and Utter Bullshit Mode).
"When I booked, I was told that I could bring the bike into the room, that it would be big enough."
"I don't care..." she says. "It doesn't matter to me personally. You know, me as a person."
Thanks for clearing that up.
"I don't really want to drag it through the restaurant out front," I say.
Extreme frommage erupts. We may be in Gorgonzola country now. It's clear no one has suggested such heresy before.
"I wouldn't go through the restaurant," she says. "I'd go through the side door."
Okay, I say.
I find the side door. The only way to it: Through the restaurant.
So I go out and get on the bike and start weaving through bumper-to-bumper traffic on Ocean Drive. I button-hook around the corner to the alley, hoping to get lucky and find a place between the hotel and the neighboring building, which is also an ultra-hip-pinky-in-the-air-kind-of-place.
Nothing. Gigantic white bars blocking my way. Looks like the fencing used to keep the Marielitos under the I-95 overpasses after the boatlift.
Then I see a door in the alley. Which leads to a staircase filled with all kinds of things people haven't moved or touched since Jackie Gleason lived in Miami Beach.
I hoist the bike and start the ascent to the second floor.
A guy in a white shirt, black vest and black pants meets me midway.
What to do... what to do...?
When in South Beach, I think to myself, do what the locals do: fake an accent.
"Andiamo! Andiamo!" I begin shouting in a generally friendly, maniacal Italian way. I visualize hurried rush hour in Reggio Calabria. "Buon giorno, andiamo!"
All those hours watching "Breaking Away" and "Moonstruck" finally pay off.
So, I get the bike to my room and realize:
I have a serious space issue. My feet already are going to hit the wall when I lay on the bed.
(This photo is not what the room looked like when I arrived, FYI)
The bathroom was almost the size of the room.
Maybe I could put it in there...
I love me a nice, big walk-in shower.
Alan would be so proud of me.
The bell on the handlebars sounds really loud with all that tile.
SUGGESTED SOUNDTRACK FOR THIS POST: "Hypnotise" by The White Stripes.
If it's late February, it must be time to head for Miami Beach.
And so it is. And so I am.
I'm down here again covering the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Wait, that's wrong. Let's try again.
It's the FOOD NETWORK South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
That's important. Especially if you ask the Food Network folks.
This is the first year that FN has sponsored the SBWF, thereby making it the FNSBWF. (You can read an advancer I wrote by clicking here.)
Rolls off the tongue, eh?
I came to the festival for the first time last year. I met so many people and learned so much about food and what happens when you throw celebrity and decadence into the cocktail that I had to come back. Had to. There isn't another festival like this in the country.
They literally hold this thing on the sand of Miami Beach. Gigantic white tents extend for about four blocks on some of the choicest beachfront property. Food muckity-mucks and the hoi-polloi of Miami come out and eat and drink some of the best food in the world. It's tough to beat half-naked women dangling above a pyramid of expensive Champagne only 80 yards from the Gulf Stream. or rubbing elbows with food royalty. Or opportunities to make new friends..
So for the next few days, I'll be shacking up at The Pelican, bobbing my head 24/7 like these guys and hanging with the likes of Rachael, Mario, Alton and Emeril. I'm in the Halfway To Hollywood room. How trendy is it? Well, I've never stayed at a place where each room has a suggested soundtrack.
You have no idea the perverse joy it brought me to pull up to the front of this place in the Titan. Out front on the porch is a tony little restaurant. There I was, galoot that I am, dragging baggage out of my pickup truck and through their $20 a plate candlelight dinners of Bucatini Amatriciana, whatever the hell that is. I had to wait at the hostess station with my rolling suitcase and shaving kit while she seated people in her size 4 Manolo Blahniks so I could get past and get my room.
"I've never checked into a restaurant before," I told the valet, Rich. He was not amused.
I've gotta get out more.
Now that I think about it, the whole suggested soundtrack thing is brilliant. So I'll be doing that from now on.
SUGGESTED SOUNDTRACK FOR THIS POST: "Ramshackle" by Beck.
When they stand over my grave, everyone will be forced to say - because of this post - "He was such a pushover for 10 video clips of geeks doing bowling trick shots."
And from Lane No. 3 at Purgatory Lanes, where I'll be bowling with the rose-encased-in-Lucite ball, I'll be looking down and smiling.
So, today I got a package into the paper I've been wanting to do for more than a year: bestowing Chewy Awards for great achievement in cinematic depiction of food.
I love movies. I love food. I figured, why not combine them both?
When you think about it, food plays an important role in films. It humanizes characters. It gives them something to do onscreen. It adds warmth and a touch or reality so viewers can relate.
A few scenes that didn't make the Hall of Fame for space reasons:
"The Cable Guy," 1996
Chip Douglas (Jim Carrey) and Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick) visit Medieval Times for a night out. During the meal, Chip puts food on his face and re-enacts a scene as Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs." Janeane Garofalo is hilarious as their disaffected serving wench.
"The Color Purple," 1985
After decades as the under-appreciated and abused wife of Albert (Danny Glover), Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) finally confronts him at the dinner table and announces she's leaving him. "Until you do right by me," she says. "Everything you think about is gonna crumble."
Newly enlisted Army private John Winger (Bill Murray) gives MP Stella Hansen (P.J. Soles) the "Aunt Jemima Treatment" with a spatula on the stove top of General Barnake's house on base. An ice cream scoop - and cheap, meaningless gratification - soon follow.
A little glimpse into the glamorous world of food journalism: The Chewy Award shown on the Flavor cover today was painted in my garage.
I had to buy three bags of popcorn: one to test, one to try and a third to make up for the two I screwed up.
You have no idea how hard it is to spray paint popcorn and have it maintain any semblance of its true form. Damn stuff shrinks on contact with just about any fluid.
Now I have golden trash lids to remember my story. I have some paint left over. Maybe I'll bling out my Rubbermaids and have the only solid gold trash cans in the neighborhood.
So I'm sitting at home last night getting my "24" on at the International House of Salad. We let the TV stay on and it drifts into a local news show.
Their teases to get us to watch:
1. A story about Silly String being used to fight the War on Terror. (Or "Tara," as the anchor said it. Apparently there's an insurgency at 12 Oaks.)
2. A road-rage story about a shooting on I-4 after the Daytona 500. All the suspects are black. The victim is white. And, of course, the program wants you to make the hate-crime jump.
3. A controversy involving a Checkers fast food promotion that suggests patrons put a cat in a paper bag, which when you cut off the corners looks like a shirt a rapper would wear - you know, if a rapper wore paper clothing. The idea: to tie in with their commercial showing a rapping cat named, ahem, RapCat.
I'm not making this up.
In a quasi-lame attempt to go viral with their marketing, Checkers has been suggesting on its bags that customers should: 1.) Cut the bag. 2.) Drop their cat in the bag. 3) Videotape their cat in the bag. 4.) Send the video of the cat in the bag. 5.) Win prizes.
Which, you know, now that I write it, sounds a lot like this:
But I digress.
Anyway, I'm watching this news program and they have the obligatory quote from an animal protection official and, well, even she is having a hard time keeping a straight face.
They have no actual cats being harmed. What they have is video from YouTube of a cat in a bag without any identification of where it came from or if it's a Checkers-related stunt. And more video from YouTube. And then some stray weird cat video from... YouTube.
At this point, I'm shaking my head. I know it's sweeps, but come on.
When people criticize "The Daily Show" and "The Onion" for blurring the line between entertainment and news, I think of stories like this and wonder, "What line?"
Of course, I now have that stupid cat rap lyric in my head: Meow, meow, meow, meow, myow-mya-mya-meow.
UPDATE: RapCat has 150 friends on MySpace.
Unlike my dog Lincoln...
...Abraham does not appreciate dirty jokes.
Good news, if you're Fidel Castro.
I showed this to Kelvin at work.
"This is redonkulous," he said.
Rommie's reply: "It'd be great if it read 'studpendulous.'"
So, you know, it's been frigging cold here in Tampa for about a week. Cold enough to cover the car windshields with ice. Cold enough to hurt my toes when I run out for the paper. Cold enough...
... to kill every living thing in my yard.
Press release of the week. So far:
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 3:33 PM
To: Houck, Jeff B.
Subject: Story: "You're injecting Botox Where??"
If you are looking for an expert source to give great insight on the incredible rise of Botox uses all over the body, Dr. Anthony Griffin, plastic surgeon and medical expert is available immediately to comment on this rapidly rising trend.
Botox has become the No. 1 non-surgical cosmetic procedure among men and women, including celebrities Teri Hatcher, Angelica Huston, Cindy Crawford and Vanessa Williams
New areas of botox include:
• Arm pits
• Nasal flare
• Crossed eyes
• Migraine headache
• Lower back pain
• Tennis elbow
• Parkinson’s disease
• Tourette’s syndrome
• Multiple sclerosis
• Spasticity due to spinal stenosis
• Spasmodic Dysphonia ( makes voice crack and quiver)
• Writer’s cramps
• Surgery Scar removal
Question: Where the hell is Vulvodynia? Is that near Pittsburgh?
Like hell if I'm Googling that one at work.
Way to show you've pulled your personal thing together, Britocchio.
By the way, Anna Nicole called. She's got a corner table with cigs and some X waiting for you and Squeaky Fromme at Club H'ell.
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS OF
YOUR MOMENT OF BRITNEY
Now, with a breathable cotton panel.
K-Fed cornrows. Bad idea.
Gallery of the Absurd.
Brit and KFed, the ill-advised reality TV series.
Lights, camera, Britney.
Britney wears the glamorous life.
Britney takes a palimony suit.
Something old, something new.
Britney takes a groom. Again.
Britney defends her latest love.
Britney marries a childhood friend. For 50 hours.
Britney swaps spit with the Rosetta Stone of Skank.
Britney poses for photos that make her look even more plastic and lifeless than she already is.
Britney, as she would look if she hit the all-you-can-eat Seafood Lovers Special at Red Lobster every night for six months.
Britney runs a restaurant into the ground.
Britney has an evil twin available for parties.
Britney and George cut a rug.
Britney proves the axiom: Beer affects the way males respond to females.
Good lord, this site makes me laugh. A lot.
The name alone makes me snort.
My favorite comment at YouTube:
Do you realy think Crazy Frog 'We are the Champions' is better than this?
Sorry to spread this audio infection, but sometimes you have to snake a tube down your ears so your cochlea can vomit out the poison.
Martha was a hoot to talk to. And the book has some great recipes, in addition to being more than a little bit of eye candy.
You can listen to an excerpt of the interview here:
Not to worry; I won't be blogging this week's celebrity Wallenda death spiral like I did last week.
This was the second video we shot that day at the Florida State Fair. In this one, I mock a woman's manicure, I hold a giant blue giraffe so a trucker can eat Fried Pepsi and I verbally abuse a pre-teen.
I'm not proud that I threatened him with the phrase, "You're going down like a sweet fried cookie." But I did. So there. Let the lawsuits begin.
What happens when you take edible undies and a candy bra to the Florida State Fair and ask three retiree husbands who are waiting for their wives to taste test them for you?
Blogging will be light today. I'm blogging Anna Nicole Smith.
It's a long story. Buy me a beer some time and I'll tell you.
Sincere Side Salad condolences go out to the fans of Anna Nicole Smith, who went to the great TrimSpa in the sky today at age 39.
We've been a great appreciator of Anna Nicole's crazy aroma for years in the Salad Bowl.
Anna Nicole Smith
Writing her a check is the easy part. Getting her to show up is another matter. In February, the organizers of NW magazine’s Oscar party in Sydney, Australia, agreed to fly Smith out for 60 grand, but she missed her flight — then demanded $12,000 more to ensure she’d make the next one. Not only did Smith require a penthouse, a butler and chef on call 24 hours a day, and a suite for her four-person entourage, when she arrived, according to press reports, she insisted on a third suite for her lawyer, stylist, and two friends. Our sources say that several dress sizes ago Smith raked in about $15,000 per appearance. But now she averages about $30,000 — making her fee inversely proportional to her weight.
We got plenty of chuckles at her volcanic meltdown at the American Music Awards and how at the time it reminded one blogger of the day Anna Nicole behaved inappropriately at a family funeral:
And with that comment, the doors to the room swing open and A walks in with a sweeping gesture and stands there, waiting to be noticed and admired. When no one stands up to applaud her entrance, she saunters her way towards the coffin, flipping her hair as she walks. She gets to the coffin, looks down at the man she barely knew yet whom was apparently a father figure to her, turns her head to make sure she has our rapt attention, and begins to wail. She's incoherent, crying, sobbing, and there is not a person in the room who doesn't know that it is all an act. We've seen her movies. We know bad acting when we see it. Suddenly she puts the back of her hand up to her forehead, 50's movie star style, and falls to the floor in a faint. No one moves to help her. She lays there, hand still on forehead, skirt hiked up, a spectacle on display. Finally, the director/relative comes over, picks her up and walks her out to the chair in the hallway.
For comparison's sake, check out the video:
They say that tornadoes are the "finger of god."
My friends, I'm here to tell you that Hurricane Frances could be all four tires of God's blinged-out Hummer.
Three days from landfall and that huge beeyach is already a Category 4. God knows what she'll become once she takes a huge, deep toke on the Gulf Stream and the warm, shallow waters of the Bahama shoal. Imagine a pre-TrimSpa Anna Nicole Smith loaded up on Percodan and Jack Daniels and waving a gun while shopping for crystal at the Baccarat store.
It is with misty eyes that we bid you adieu, Anna Nicole Smith/ Vickie Lynn Hogan / Vickie Lynn Marshall / Vickie Smith / Vicki Smith.
We hardly knew ye. Or cared to.
TTFN = Tata(s) for now.
An update: You owe it to yourself to check out the entries on this online condolences book.
My favorite so far:
So sad -- a modern day Marilyn, also with a tragic ending.
Maria Ford (Toronto, ON)
Mommy, make it stop.
First it was "Earl."
Then it was "The Office."
So NBC now wants all of my Thursday evenings?
"Andy Barker P.I.," I'm all yours.
Andy Richter ("Late Night with Conan O'Brien") re-teams with Conan O'Brien (series co-creator and executive producer) in this comedy as he portrays Andy Barker, an earnest, hard-working CPA who has succeeded at everything -- until his new accounting business fails to take off. But when he's mistaken for Lew Staziak (Harve Presnell, "Fargo"), the retired private detective who used to occupy his storefront office, Andy embraces the twist of fate and dives into his double life.
Andy's wife Jenny (Clea Lewis, "Ellen") starts out worried about Andy's new vocation but proves to be a helpful asset to him in cracking cases. Also on board are Andy's new strip mall neighbors -- Simon (Tony Hale, "Arrested Development") and Wally (Marshall Manesh, "Will & Grace") who quickly become his back-up during dicey car chases and late night stakeouts.
Check out the clip for "Andy Barker P.I."
Yesterday, I did a story in Flavor about one of my favorite places: Rick's Custom Meats and Smokin' Joe's BBQ in Lithia.
I found this place after my Salad Mother-In-Law suggested it. It took several months for me to make my way out there. I wish I hadn't waited so long.
First off, it's primarily a meat counter and deli. There's tons of exotic meats - everything from goat to gator to buffalo. And plenty of down-home offerings like boiled peanuts and delicious homemade jerky.
Along the way, I met the owners, brothers Rick and Joe Shirley, who grew up only a few miles away from the store and BBQ business.
The pulled pork sandwich was delicious. The Cuban sandwich was awesome. And the sausage sandwich was some of the best I've ever eaten.
Anyway, if you want to see the Flickr photo set of shots I grabbed while I was out there, (including a couple gratuitous Cheerwine photos), click here.
Oh, those wacky guys at Ben & Jerry's.
Can an NPR (Nutella, Peanut & Raspberry) flavor be far behind? Iraqi Road? Fancy Pelosi?
Meet the latest offspring of The Salad Bowl:
In December, I did a list of 50 Things We Know Now (That We Didn't Know This Time Last Year). I've done the list two years in a row. The story is basically my attempt to do a year-end round-up without it being a boring shopping list of stuff everyone else normally lists.
Anyway, someone picked up on it this year and posted it on Digg. And it got a buttload of diggs and was one of the highest rated links for the month of December and pushed more than 100,000 page visits after it was posted to TBO.com.
An editor at TBO joked that if I wanted to do that every month, he wouldn't mind. And I kind of took him seriously. Hence the demon spawn In Case You Missed it, which will be a month-by-month compendium of stupid errata I trip across. And, thanks to suggestions from commenters at Digg, I added links to each item so people can read for themselves.
Let me know what you think.
My favorite part of the astronaut love triangle story was this item:
Police said Nowak intended to kill Shipman, 30, when she bought a knife, BB Gun, and other supplies, got in her car in Houston, and made the 12-hour drive to Orlando, wearing diapers so she would not have to stop along the way.
Who uses a BB gun these days? Seriously. Was she going to kill a squirrel? Chase a cat out of her garden? Give her a nasty welt? The thing has all the range of Stallone. (With apologies to Dennis Miller.)
That fact, of course, reminded me of the best BB gun movie scene of all time, which is found in "National Lampoon's Vacation."
Lasky, Guard at Walleyworld: That's not a real gun, is it Clark?
Clark: Are you kidding? This is a Magnum P.I.
Lasky, Guard at Walleyworld: It's a BB gun!
Clark: Don't tempt me. I could poke an eye out with this thing.
Lasky, Guard at Walleyworld: You couldn't even break the skin with that thing.
About six years ago, I discovered the blog Big Dead Place, written about life at the South Pole's McMurdo Station. It struck me that other than the harsh weather, desolate landscape and extreme isolation, work there was a lot like work here. We all have the same issues. Idiot co-workers, penny pinching employers, mundane work, bad facilities. It especially struck home at the time because I was working at a place that seemed a lot like Antarctica.
Anyway, that blog eventually went on a permanent hiatus. Every now and again I check back, hoping to read something as gut-wrenchingly funny as Modern Drunkard Magazine's interview with the author and the uproarious Guidebook for Distinguished Congressional Visitors.
Then about a month ago, I tripped over a blog that linked to a post at Sandwich Girl, which is written by a woman at McMurdo who goes by the name Sandwich. She also carries a sandwich-shaped lunchbox that she likes to pose with giant penguins. When I saw that she used to work in the galley there, I sensed a possible food story. That and she goes by the name "Sandwich." Oh, and she did a map of coffee and doughnut availability at the station.
I'm quick that way.
I e-mailed Sandwich and she replied with alarming speed. I asked if she worked in the galley and she replied she no longer did.
I looked at the rest of her site and saw that there was a chili cookoff as part of festivities for New Year's Eve 2005 that resembled some sort of icy Lalapalooza. I asked if they had the chili cookoff again this year and she replied that in fact they had. I asked if she could send me photos and write something short about that event and she said she'd ask for clearance to do so.
Fast-forward about a month.
I got an e-mail the other day that she had been given clearance. She sent this note about the World's Southernmost Chili Cook-off:
The T-shirts claim that the first annual Chili Cook-off was in 1957, back when the US Navy ran McMurdo Station. Nowadays, our Chili Cook-off runs in conjunction with our New Year's outdoor music festival, Icestock. Icestock is an all-day event, and one of the rare times the entire station gets to set loose from the demanding and fatiguing round-the-clock work of supporting and performing science here at McMurdo Station.
Eight shipping containers (locally called "milvans") line the perimeter of the event, and each team can decorate and brew their concoctions in them as early as 1 a.m., as per the rules of the event. Of course, each team tried to out-do the next by also dressing up the milvans in flashy southwestern-themed styles, but it really comes down to who's got the best grub.
The contestants may only use ingredients supplied by the galley, which they must submit an order for weeks in advance.
Tina and Dave Pacheco of "New Mexican Chili" (center and right above) prefer to send down their own green chiles and spices from home for a special chili they make for the event, but they claim to stick by the rules for the separate award-winning pot they enter in the competition. "We do it as a thank-you to the community," says Tina, standing under a string of chili-shaped christmas lights. They also offered sopapillas and a 5-gallon jug of margueritas, gratis. Their efforts and community spirit awarded them 1st place winners of the 2007 McMurdo Chili Cook-off. The New Mexican couple both work in the Facilities, Maintenance, Engineering and Construction department.
The second place chili, Milvan of Truth, was won by a solo contestant, Holly (Hailaeos) Troy, (above) who fixes and troubleshoots computer problems in the Station's Science Lab. Third place went to SOPP (SPAWAR office of Polar Programs).
Sandwich's personal honorable mentions go to the Cargo team for their cardboard cactus and chili costumes, and Janitor Chili for their decorative skills, which included a pyramid of toilet paper, sombreros, and Mexican blankets.
To see more photos of the event, check out Sandwich's Flickr gallery.
Overheard in Minneapolis is a fairly amusing read.
Highschool Guy: If you don't like video games you might as well get the hell out of the US.
The rest of the class starts to clap
Peruse the archives at your own peril. You could easily lose a full workday reading this stuff.
What if "When Harry Met Sally" was cut into a horror film?
I've been a big Prince fan for 25 years now. (Yes, I even bought - bought - "Crystal Ball.") So I dug seeing him tear it up during halftime of Super Bowl Ex El Eye.
Maybe Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post and ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" said it best during a Q&A session today:
Q: What was it like to see it in person?
Michael Wilbon: I don't spend a lot of time at Super Bowls -- and I've covered 21 of them--watching the halftime because so many have no appeal to me, like all the rock stuff because I don't know from rock music... So, I'll just say Prince was a thrill for me... But I'm a Prince fan and have been for 25 years. Prince on four-inch heels with an electric guitar in the rain, surrounded by fabulous looking twins. Are you kidding me?
Looks like the exposure paid off. Searches for Prince are up 679 percent today.
Just a few hours before Super Bowl ExElEye, Alex over at Neatorama has a great roundup - with YouTube video clips - of the best and worst Super Bowl ads.
Check it out: Someone using an Arabic version of Google was looking for a photo of the gigantic hamburgers at Frank's Fast & Best Sandwich Shop.
And sometimes, to some people, he's Jesus.
Three words: Switch to decaf.
Back before Christmas, Casa del Ensalada sent a care package to my buddy Drew, who's deployed to Iraq.
We included the usual stuff - candy, DVDs, a cigar t-shirt, season No. 3 of "Gilmore Girls." Okay, that's last one is a lie. But we definitely sent the other stuff.
Anyway, we included a bunch of toys that we bought at the dollar store in our neighborhood. There were jump ropes and bouncy balls, flying discs they could throw and stuffed animals.
Drew just e-mailed today to say that he's finally had a chance to hand out the items we sent. They had the desired effect.
"The stuffed animal was almost as well recevied as the flying disc...the kids thought they were magic..."
Here's the rest of his e-mail:
You know how long ago you sent me your care package, and unfortunately, my time has not been spent doing a lot of pleasantries. We just came off of a two-day operation with the Iraqi Army and I was finally afforded the opportunity to share some of the bounty I have been given. Attached are two pictures of items you sent.
Most of the city governments that I deal with are trying, but their are exceptions, and the Army and Police continue to make steady progress. My Soldiers continue to impress the hell out of me by their relentless compassion towards the innocent people here, and uncompromising ruthlessness for those who excite hatred and destruction.
For those who want to send a package or a card to Drew, here's the address:
Unit # 70093
APO AE 09338
PREVIOUS LETTERS FROM IRAQ:
Coffee and sunsets.
Get your motor runnin'.
"Wolfhounds don't do anything small."
Thanksgiving in Iraq.
"What sacrifice for the sake of freedom feels like."
"I am amazed by them every single day."
It's who you know.
Month two of deployment.
I'd walk a mile.
Boots on the ground.
Once more into the breech.
A co-worker sends me this dark little e-mail:
If you are sitting next to someone who irritates you on a plane ...
1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.
2. Remove your laptop.
3. Turn it on.
4. Make sure the guy who won't leave you alone can see the screen.
5. Open this email.
6. Close your eyes and tilt your head up to the sky.
7. Then hit this link.
SCENE NO. 1: INTERIOR. HOME. DINING ROOM TABLE. An 11-year-old boy is eating breakfast before school as his father works on a laptop. He is seated across from him.
SON: What would you say if I changed my name?
FATHER: [After several seconds of silent contemplation] Depends on what the name is.
SON: [Replying immediately] How about Shooter McGee?
FATHER: I'd say eat your damn breakfast, Shooter.
[A minute of silence passes. The boy continues to chew his banana slices. The father continues tapping on the keyboard.]
SON: Or, I could change it to Bart Starr.
SON: Lynn Swann?
SON: Terry Bradshaw?
SON: [After several seconds pass] Howie Tong?
FATHER: Very original. Moderately taken.
[Several seconds pass. The boy begins to smirk as his mind spins. The father awaits the next name with reluctant anticipation.]
SON: Terry Crabclaw?
FATHER: You've just gone into mascot territory.
Hilarious Flickr gallery: Grocer's Apostrophe.
This has to be one of the worst ideas ever.
Love the Super Mario music in the background.
... it's mobility.
They should just go ahead and brand these damn things with Gator colors.
Came home the other night from work to find that Salad Boy had made an apple pie. And macaroni and cheese. And fried cabbage. All while he was home sick from school. (Yes, he washed his hands and didn't breathe on the food.)
He also made my birthday cake this year, a Savannah Sheet Cake. A couple weeks ago, he attempted to make braised potato wedges.
Looks like the classes at Young Chefs Academy are paying off.
...continues to not suck.
For a larger version, click here.
PREVIOUS NON-SUCKY VIEWS
Did you hear? Heart disease is "a hidden epidemic."
So is genital herpes.
And celiac disease.
And rugby concussions.
And traffic fatalities.
And Hepatitis C.
And birth defects.
And men leaving.
And eating disorders.
And Lyme Disease.
And food poisoning.
And elder abuse.
And teen dating violence.
And bipolar disorder.