April 30, 2007



Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

Hat tip: Addison

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JoeThomasWisconsinOffensiveTackleDraftedByClevelandBrowns.jpgAs much of the country's sports media reported on Saturday, pro football prospect Joe Thomas, an offensive tackle from Wisconsin, went fishing on Lake Michigan during the 2007 NFL Draft, choosing to be on the water instead of sitting in the fishbowl that is Radio City Music Hall, thereby defying the Gods of Sports Television by denying them the hackneyed shot of his lack of surprise at being chosen. He also deprived them of the chance to watch him squirm if he wasn't chosen very high in the draft. That pleasure went to Brady Quinn of Notre Dame.

It wasn't until I heard about this exchange during Thomas' post-draft conference call with writers that I suspected that he might have been piling on with a little prank:

(On who is on the boat with him)- “It’s my dad, my father-in-law to be, my mentor Joe Panos, the NFL Network camera and myself.”

(On reeling in a fish)- “Yeah, we just got the biggest fish of the day. It looks like it’s a brown trout.”

You don't suspect he was sneaking in a poop joke at the media's expense, do you?

God, I hope so.

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April 27, 2007



HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - (April 26) - Seeking to contribute to her show's overwhelmingly successful "American Idol Gives Back" charity effort Wednesday night, singer/dancer/show judge Paula Abdul pledged to donate the bra fat from beneath her left arm to the needy in Africa and the U.S.

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April 26, 2007


My friend Jolie the Supergoddess in Boston has come asking for the assistance of the Salad Nation:

From: Jolie
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 2:19 PM
Subject: help me win the smallest, coolest kitchen contest

Jeff, I’ve entered this contest and am totally bombing.


Any chance you can link me from the Salad and ask your readers to vote for me?



Now, before you go drawing assumptions and making judgments of someone who would enter a smallest, coolest kitchen contest, understand first that what this woman is able to do with such little space is nothing less than miraculous.

Her Irish Cream Bars? Looked totally delicious. ("I make treats. It's what I do.") Her Soothing Hangover Meal? Comfort on a plate. And her raspberry pie ... well, I'd gobble it in an instant.

I'm not saying that because I'm in her League of Superfriends. I say it because it's the truth.

So do me a favor and say I owe you one. Take the painless step of registering at that site and vote for Joles. She'll probably make you something in gratitude.

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Love that the sportscar guy puts his cigar back in his mouth after filling up at the gas pump. And the leaky patch Mr. Straw Hat leaves behind after he sneezes. Great gags.

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April 25, 2007


BrianAndDaddyO.jpgSCENE NO. 1, EXTERIOR, TWO-LANE ROAD: A father driving a red Nissan Titan is inching his way through the morning car line drop-off at a Florida middle school as his 11-year-old son puts on his backpack.

The radio is tuned to an FM station. A bank commercial is playing. A voice comes over the speakers. It is an actor portraying an old, stuffy white banker.

SON: That guy sounds like the guy who does Cookie Monster.

FATHER: Not really.

SON: He does a little.

FATHER: Okay, a little.

[A few seconds pass as the truck continues to inch forward.]

FATHER: You know, the same guy who does Cookie Monster also does Miss Piggy's voice.

SON: Hmm. I didn't know that.

[A second of silence passes.]

SON: So, he's a crossdresser?


SON: He's a crossdresser.

FATHER: No. He's not a crossdresser.

[The father pauses while suppressing his laughter and measures his words carefully.]

FATHER: Besides, it would be interspecies. Pig and monster.

SON: [laughs] So he's an interspecies crossdresser.


[Both are laughing now as the truck pulls to the end of the driveway.]

FATHER: [Singing in his best Cookie Monster voice] "C is for crossdressing. That's good enough for meeeeeee."

SON: [hysterical laughter] "C is for crossdressing, that's good enough for meeeeee."

[The truck stops and the boy gets out, takes his trombone and backpack and walks to the school entrance to start his day.]


Renaming Andre.

Driving with Andre.

Watching TV with Andre.

Breakfast with Andre.

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April 24, 2007


What would it be like if Sir Mix-a-Lot was mashed up with Gilbert and Sullivan?

I think it might go a little something like this:

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April 23, 2007


Dear Anne Geddes,

Bet you never thought of doing this.

With Warmest Regards,


Hat tip: Kat

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Dear Andy, (May I call you Andy?)

I really enjoyed your "Lazy Sunday" and "Dick In A Box" video shorts on Saturday Night Live. You certainly seem to have an engaging audio/visual imagination.

Then I watched your "Roy Rules" video this weekend:

Perhaps it speaks to the geek in me, but where can I get that Roy Rulez font? It would look excellent on my reporter's notebook when I go out to cover stories.

Just wondering.

Best Regards,


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Dear Parents of Morgan Pozgar,

I weep for your cellphone bill.

Very Truly Yours,


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Dear Bjork,

Just watched your performance on Saturday Night Live.

A housekeeping note: You'll want to wash your costumes in cold water. I bought a hat at EPCOT in 1983 that looked like your dress and it ruined a load of whites. Then again, it had a figment on it, so that may have affected the detergent.



p.s. Your name is the sound I make when I vomit.

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Dear Ms. Sheryl Crow,

I've enjoyed your music for years. Seriously. I'm not just saying that to get chicks. Or to appear sympathetic to breast cancer survivors. "My Favorite Mistake"? Brilliant. "Home"? Makes me cry like a little girl who lost her entire Bratz collection. Every time.

That said, in the unlikely event that we were to ever meet, I'm never shaking your hand.

I hope you understand. I'm a big believer in T.P.



p.s. Nice job at the correspondents' dinner. I bet Rove never saw it coming. Boy, you've had a busy week!

I hear Alberto Gonzales enjoys eating at Crab Quarters in Baltimore. You and Mrs. David may want to peg him there.

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April 19, 2007


This is soooooo funny. Like, four days ago.

Now? Not all that much.

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Who throws a piece of pizza? Honestly.

They're calling it the Patriots Day Red Sox Pizza Massacre.

Here's the story behind the attack:

Pepperoni with that? Flying pizza at Fens

Jason Sole just wanted to catch a foul ball. Matt Madore was merely trying to eat some pizza.

Put the two together, and it sounds like the setup for a twisted Reese’s peanut butter cup commercial. But what started as a disagreement in the stands became the most entertaining moment of yesterday’s 7-2 Red Sox [team stats] victory over the Angels.

Captured by NESN’s cameras and replayed throughout the game - complete with telestrator analysis by Jerry Remy - the scene that followed J.D. Drew [stats]’s foul pop-up in the seventh inning was downright hilarious.

“I’ve never caught a foul ball in my life,” said Brookline’s Sole, 30, between innings. “It’s been my dream to catch one. That’s the closest I’ve ever come. The pizza just thwarted it.”

Here’s what happened:

Drew lofted a foul toward Box 82, which juts into left field foul territory. Sole stretched for the ball as the Angels’ Garret Anderson reached the stands. They collided, spilling beer everywhere, and the ball bounced away.

As if the slo-mo spill and requisite grimacing weren’t enough, a large slice of cheese pizza then arced perfectly through the crowd, hitting Sole’s shoulder and face. Once he realized what hit him, he went ballistic while girlfriend Anya Ho, 29, tried to wipe off his face.

A few rows away, Madore and buddy Danny Kelly beamed. It turns out Sole had given them grief about having a large pizza in the stands just moments before the at-bat. He wanted to know where they got it.

“He turned around and said something like, ‘Your mother,’ ” Sole said.

“No,” interjected Ho. “He said, ‘The pizzeria.’ ”

Either way, all parties were annoyed.

“They had been giving us (expletive) about it,” Madore said. “Next thing I know, there’s a fly ball to left field and it goes foul and my buddy says, ‘You want some pizza now?’ And he hits him right in the face. Hey, the guy wasn’t paying attention. When you’re in the stands you’ve got to be ready for anything - a foul ball, a flying slice of pizza, everything.”

Kelly, sporting a Patriots jacket, was tossed.

“It was just a stupid thing,” he said. “It’s not something to be proud of. It was just stupidity all around.”

Madore and Sole began jawing - “He has a little bit of a temper,” Ho said - and Madore got the boot, as well.

By the time the eighth inning rolled around, however, most involved couldn’t stop laughing. Sole fielded nonstop calls from friends telling him he was on NESN, which named him “Fan of the Game.” He wondered if he could meet NESN’s Tina Cervasio.

Presque Isle, Maine, native Madore ended up at Game On, where he received a standing ovation. Friend Aaron True called the whole thing, “Pizza Bartman,” a reference to the Chicago Cubs fan who cost the team Game 6 of the NL Championship Series in 2003 by trying to catch a foul ball.

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In light of his ejection last night from "American Idol," here's a little known fact:


In Bengali Indian, the name Sanjaya means "Ringo."

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April 18, 2007


Amid the tumult, chaos, sturm and drang that has been life at Casa del Ensalada, I decided the other day to wedge a trip to a new burger joint in town that everyone had been telling me to visit: Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries on Kennedy Boulevard. (There's another location on Fowler and more coming to Carrollwood and Pinellas Park.)


Five Guys is part of a rapidly spreading chain that is running up and down the eastern seaboard at the moment.

I took notice when my friend Ryan wrote this on his hilarious blog at Delaware Online, Pulp Culture:

Remember when I "discovered" Five Guys in Bethany Beach last summer? (Just call me Columbus.)

Well, even though they have Five Guys locations in Bear and Hockessin, I've refused to drive that far for hamburgers.

Jesus has answered my cholesterol-loving prayers -- Five Guys is coming to the Wilmington area.

I'm not a smart man, but I know when a burger joint becomes a multi-state object of obsession, I need to check it out.

So I did. With Rommie the other day. I'm so glad I did.

I mean, look at this pulchritude:


Forget the taste for a moment. That's how a burger should look. Sloppy. Greasy. Messy. Gooey. Bun mushed and slightly askew. Burgers should look like that disheveled hottie you tried to pick up at last call in college when both of you were so drunk that neither of you could manage a vowel movement. (Not that I ever met anyone whose bun was mushed and slightly askew.)

And this next one, the bacon cheese hot dog ... that just looks like every bad decision you've ever made come to life in sandwich form.


If loving that is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Then again, if you love too many of those, you really ought to pre-load a Lipitor or two. Or two dozen.


The decor is decidedly low-key. They do one thing (okay, a couple of things) and they do them really well. Want a burger? Done. Hot dog? They have your back. Grilled cheese? Gotcha. A bag of fries big enough to pin a man to the ground? Here you go.

Comfort and plush accomodations? You'll have to wait on that.

Case in point:


They use their fresh spud and peanut oil supply as line governors in the lobby. Just walking around those bags screams "no frills" and "fresh."

How fresh?


This fresh. Darn things have everything but a "born on" date.

That's not to say I didn't have a couple nits to pick.


The signs all over the walls and windows announcing how great everyone thinks you are got a tad tedious.

Okay, okay. You had us at bacon cheese dog. Yes, it's cool that you're Zagat-rated. Yes, we're all so very pleased to see that Washingtonian digs you.

But does it have to be plastered everywhere?


I didn't use the restroom, but it wouldn't have surprised me if there were signs in there as well. Maybe under the toilet lid?

Still, the customer fervor was palpable:


What would they do? Just serve burgers and fries, of course.

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April 17, 2007

















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The ability to spell words and numbers in building lights.

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Bourdain: Yes

Me: Yes


Bourdain: Famously so

Me: No, but was willing to learn


Bourdain: "The production itself--above and beyond the witless, ill-considered, just-plain stupid "concept" of an Awards show where most of the "awards" went to inanimate objects (accepting the award for Best Comfort Food is...Macaroni and Cheese!!), appliances or cities (Portland's mayor wisely did not bother to show),--the production values--were lower than whale shit. The food styling during the "Best New Appliance" looked like some kind of 1960's themed monkey effluence, dying, soggy, butt-ugly. Perfectly appropriate to the Info-mercial From Hell theme of the presentation as a whole--but still shamefully crude for any "Food" network."

Me: "Zeta-Jones flowed out the door of her Cadillac Escalade in a long black gown and immediately was met by Marc Summers, host of the Food Network's "Unwrapped" series. She answered a few "how do you feel tonight?" questions for gawkers before making her way to the paparazzi rope line. It was unclear whether she knew that her interviewer used to host "Double Dare" on Nickelodeon. Or that she was preceded on the carpet that night by Col. Sanders, the Keebler elf, Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle, Pop and the California raisins. (Apparently, Mrs. Butterworth was in rehab.)"


Bourdain: Delightfully so

Me: Not so much

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April 14, 2007



Miami Beach in February.

Savannah, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach in March.

Orlando in April.

Now, the Salad Bowl is visiting Chicago.

If there's a travel version of ADD, perhaps it has afflicted me.

I'm up here for a couple days to attend an awards ceremony and do a little a few stories while I'm in the area. Never been to Chicago before, so it's a bit of a baptism. Salad Wife has taken a few days off to join me as well.


Most times I go home from trips like these and feel guilty about having so many new experiences while my family stays back at Casa del Ensalada. This time, we'll have to negotiate the blast furnace of guilt that will hit us from Salad Boy, who was not pleased about being excluded from this trip.

We're staying at the Radisson downtown, which is about a half-block off Michigan Avenue and The Magnificent Mile. For those who don't know, (and I didn't 48 hours ago), it's a long stretch of malls and great stores.

How sad is my shopping acumen? The only store I was crazy to visit (until I saw the glass-roofed Apple store right across the street) was the one we could see from our room:


Yes, it's a four-story Crate and Barrel. Haven't been in one of those since we left the Treasure Coast in 2002. I used to spend hours in the one at the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach. Cool, cool stuff.

This one was no different.


It will be mine.

Oh, yes. It will be mine.

How cool was this store?

It had a porch overlooking Michigan Avenue on which you could sample some lawn furniture.


We sat out there for a good five minutes listening to the traffic and enjoying the evening air.

Okay, we enjoyed the traffic for 5 and the air for about 30 seconds. It was 36 degrees out, for crissakes. We were forced to deploy Operation Life-Saving Parka.

Later, we walked farther down Michigan Avenue to see if we could find the Hilton, where the IACP banquet is tonight.

Along the way we stopped at the Chicago River:


Did I mention it was 36 degrees out?

And we stopped for a bite at a little diner:


Felt like we were eating in a Hopper painting.

And, because we're now addicted to looking for such things because we've been trained to do so by our dear friend Alan, we took photos of bike things.


first, there was this cool-ass bike in a shop window on Michigan Avenue. (It's not exactly biking weather yet up here, although I did see several riders last night braving the elements.)


And this bike rack in the shape of bike wheels was pretty cool, we thought.

Funniest sign of the night?

Saw it when we finally made it to the Hilton.


I call this little masterpiece, "When Fortunes Collide."

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April 10, 2007


Sad: I didn't hear about the Imus thing until today. Seriously.




To the last item, My Muse reacted by spreading his arms and singing the lyrics to this song.

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April 09, 2007


Stay with me. This will take a moment.


It is June 1989.

I'm in Pensacola, Fla., about three weeks into my reporting internship on the features desk at the News-Journal. I'm so green, they could skin me and use my epidermis to cover a pool table.

I check the mail one morning as I head to work. I'm staying in a one-bedroom apartment on Pensacola Beach over the garage of a college friend's father and stepmother. The Gulf of Mexico's waves lap within earshot of my bedroom. Life is good.

Then I open the one letter I got that day. It's from the University of Florida, where I just graduated from the College of Journalism and Communications. Hmmm. Probably a parking fine, I think.

"Dear Mr. Houck," it reads. "A review of your graduation transcript reveals that you are three credits short of qualification for your diploma due to insufficient grades."


The heart races. The mind spins. The letter drops.

What didn't I finish?

Then one word comes to me.


In December 1988, I was approached by journalism professor Hugh Cunningham to study with him one-on-one for my final semester. He saw promise in me, he said. The same promise he saw in previous students. Including one he taught at Sam Houston State named Dan Rather.

He would take me under his wing. He would teach me. I would write stories for him. I would learn what I needed. And, if possible, he would shepherd me to an internship and/or job through his many connections in the business. I would get three credits for my work. The experience would be invaluable.

That January, heady with what I perceived to be golden status, I report for spring semester's classes. Cunningham never tells me when to check in. He gives me no syllabus. He assigns no stories, so no stories are written. On the occasions when I see him for another class I'm taking, we exchange jokes and pleasantries. He says nothing about the work-study arrangement.

So this is how the real world works, I think to myself. This must be like a no-show union job, where you get the money but you don't have to lift a finger.

Midway through the semester, Cunningham sends me on interviews. St. Petersburg Times. Tampa Tribune. Orlando Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale. All with former students who have risen to places of prominence in their newspapers.

Only a matter of time, I think to myself. This must be what he had in mind for the "work" in my work-study.

One day while hanging out during a free period in Cunningham's lab newsroom, I meet Anne Saul, executive editor of the Pensacola News Journal. You need to meet Jeff, Hugh says. He just had a funny column in the Alligator today. Ralph Lowenstein, the college dean, says, "That was you?" Ann asks if I have an internship. Send me a resume and clips, she says.

A thought swirls continuously through my head like an aquarium full with too many fish: I. Love. College.

It's now May. End of semester comes. I put on the cap. I put on the gown. Relatives cry. Brimming with hubris, I take my own photo with the president of the university on the dais as I accept my faux sheepskin.

I pack the U-Haul and move to Pensacola. I start my internship. Life is good.

Then "The Note" arrives.

Seems Cunningham gave me an F when I did no work.


Life is not like a union job, I realize. I am not a golden child. I am not remotely special. Quite the opposite. I am lazy. I am arrogant. There are ramifications for lack of initiative, I now understand. I am a complete and utter tool, I now realize.


I had been telling my mother for weeks when she'd ask that it would take time to get the actual diploma. "They have to do thousands of these things."

Somehow, she knew different. Don't screw with a mother's instinct.

First thing I do: I call Jon Roosenraad.

"Rosey" is associate dean of the college. I explain my problem. He listens. Just like he listened when Cunningham set me up with my "special" arrangement. If anyone can fix it, he can. If he can't, I'm eternally screwed and faced with the prospect of explaining to my temporary employer that my status within their newsroom is built upon a big, fat lie.

Can I use my Pensacola internship to qualify for the three remaining credits, I ask with The Most Humble Voice Ever Emitted From A Human Larynx.

Sure, he says, with a calm, reassuring tone that says, "I've done this more times than you'll ever know."

I call in sick that next day, I drive four hours to Gainesville to file the necessary paperwork. I drive back immediately. I go back to my internship. I finish the semester. I get hired by the newspaper full-time. I get my diploma in the mail. I show my mother. She cries a little. And then I tell her the story. And all is well.

Years later after we'd both left UF, Cunningham would hire me to be a Metro columnist in Alaska. Filled with mistakes and false-starts, it would come to be the best decision of my life. I never missed a deadline.

Of the many people I owe for my career, which has been filled in it's short time with all the adventures and surreality anyone could dare imagine, Jon Roosenrad has to go to the front of the class for his top-shelf glove save.

For that, I will always be thankful.

So when I heard Rosey was retiring after 38 years, it was the least I could do to pose with a group of other Gator journos here at the Tribune for a photo salute. It would be part of a larger photo project to collect other students raising a glass to him as well from around the globe.

On Monday, I got this e-mail from the journalism school:


Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 3:37 PM
Importance: High

He retired but he won't go away. Jon's last official day was Halloween, but he came back Dec. 1 and will work through the end of June as a part-time university employee.

Thanks to all of you who helped us put together a tribute to Rosey. I surprised it with him during his last class period and it was one of the few times I've ever seen Roosenraad at a loss for words. It was a wonderful experience for me.

Several of you have asked to see the tribute. It's such a large file that I can't email it and I never seem to have the time to burn copies for people.

So I finally decided to post it on the department Web page. I hope you have time to check it out.

And thanks again for all of your help.

WILLIAM McKEEN, Professor and Chair
University of Florida Department of Journalism

You don't know Jon Roosenraad. But you've more than likely read a story or two or a thousand written or edited or photographed or designed by one of the young journalists who has passed through his classroom or office in the past three and a half decades.

That kind of impact is measurable only in the respect that his students return to him.

You can see for yourself. Here's the tribute to Rosey. You'll read lots of other stories from loads of other students who tell tales that sound a lot like mine.

Again, the point is proven: I am not special.

But you are, Rosey. And for that, I raise a glass to you.

Class of (summer) '89

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Been a long, long time - some might say too long - since there's been an update to The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco and Part Seis).

Behold I give you:


The Sombrero Project, Part Ocho, (Yes, I know I skipped chapter 7. So sue me.) shot on location at my colleague Marty's rowdy 40th birthday party a couple weeks back.

For the record, Marty sings one helluva Ben E. King tune when he's on the road. (Must be all of those vocal classes he took at Notre Dame):

His backup singers, however, could use some rehearsal time.

Posted by Jeff at 06:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Hat tip: Pat

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April 06, 2007


Courtesy of Planet Dan:

A Million Frowning Emoticons Couldn't Convey My Disapointment :(

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JohnWinter.JPGThe news about WFLA meteorologist John Winter's death is beyond sad, especially for the Salad clan.

I only knew John casually, bumping into him on occasion around the News Center. But his weather reports were a staple in our house during his morning forecasts. Salad Boy liked John so much, he had a brief infatuation with weather and meteorology about two years ago. I told John that one night during a walk to the parking garage and he seemed very pleased and invited the boy to the station. I took Brian one day up to the weather office on the second floor and it became one of his favorite memories. (That and heckling Keith Cate with his best friend.) The news on Thursday truly rocked him.

John lived in Lithia, and occasionally I'd see him around this corner of the county, so we had something in common to chat about.

About three weeks ago, I pulled out of the parking garage at work and stopped at the light right outside the exit. I was fumbling through my briefcase for a few seconds when I felt like someone was watching me. I looked up to see John looking at me in the car next to me and could tell he had been waiting for me to see him. He waved and smiled, I waved and smiled and then we drove off in separate directions.

That's the impression I always got from him; friendly, eager to make a joke, always cordial.

This is the second big shock to hit WFLA in a couple years. First Chris Thomas, now this.

Posted by Jeff at 08:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I was on the road this week in Orlando doing a couple stories.

The only Wi-Fi I could find in the part of the city where I was: at McDonalds.

I tried to do a little work for a couple hours between interviews. It was a ludicrous goal, given my surroundings.

So I fired off an e-mail to a few friends:

I’m sitting at a corner table as Kylie Minogue sings “Locomotion” on the McMuzak at about 130 decibels.

Oh, wait. There’s been a change.


Now it’s a generic version of “I Will Survive” that could only be worse if Sanjaya was singing it on “American Idol.”

An Asian woman is taking photos of the prepackaged ‘50s diner kitsch on the walls. She did a 15 minute study of a plastic Marilyn Monroe-with-her-skirt-blown-up-pose from “Seven Year Itch” with her digital camera.

A McD’s employee with three shades of hair is sucking on McNuggets while talking on a cellphone and chatting with a friend in front of her.

Toddlers fresh from Wet N’ Wild, at least two hours late for a nap and smelling of chlorine and wet diapers, are screaming next to me.

Directly in front of me: a high-tech garbage receptacle compacts the contents every 30 seconds, regardless of whether or not anyone has deposited anything.

A few feet away in the parking lot, a Chrysler minivan’s horn is blaring – seems someone locked the keys inside and set off the car alarm. People are running around the vehicle like ants around a piece of candy on the ground.

An hour ago, I was eating a four-star-worthy meal on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Hotel.

An hour from now, I’m scheduled to eat food cooked by a former Kennedy family chef.

I may need a neck brace if I keep bungee-bouncing from Heaven to Hell.

An audio update: It’s raining men.

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And now, if you'll indulge me, here's an inside joke intended for only two people (our friends Drew and Susan) who live very far away:

Saw this plaque while walking into a Wendy's during our road trip to Savannah:


One name caught our eye:


Salad Wife and I, of course, pronounced this dear girl's name, "Amanda Pahntee."

Two, three, four...

The rest of you can feel free to giggle for other reasons.

Posted by Jeff at 07:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



The Gators-versus-Buckeye-related e-mail has been flying this week, as you would expect.

Dave, at work, sent this missive:

Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2007 3:22 PM
Subject: Florida and Ohio

News out of Florida this week: Gators win NCAA championship

News out of Ohio this week: This.

Then Russ at work forwarded this faux news ditty from a Florida Gator blog. ("This should be in the Onion," Russ writes.):


Florida President unsure of what to do with Ohio State

Gainesville Sun Staff Writer

April 4, 2007

GAINESVILLE – In the wake of Florida’s unprecedented dual championship victories over Ohio State, the University finds itself with a unique and somewhat perplexing problem.

What to do with Ohio State now that Florida owns it.

According to little known and never before used “Clause 121” of the NCAA charter, when a University defeats another member University for two consecutive national championship games by “convincing margins,” the defeated University becomes the sole property of the victor.

University of Florida President J. Bernard “Bernie” Machen readily admits that he was unaware of “Clause 121”, and is unsure of what to do with Ohio State. “They have, what is it, over 54,000 students? Plus, it’s in Columbus, Ohio. It is very inconvenient.”

The University of Florida Board of Trustees is holding an emergency meeting this Friday to deal with the unprecedented situation. According to sources on the Board, initial ideas include –

Sell It – The easiest move the Board might make is simply to sell Ohio State. However, due to the University’s size, and its location in the relatively depressed real estate market of central Ohio, it may be difficult to find a willing buyer. “We are looking into this option,” Machen says. “We have contacted the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio to see if they need more land.”

Keep It – This option has several difficulties, but may be the only one if Florida is unable to get a buyer for fair market value. Primary among the difficulties is the large student body population of Ohio State. However, sources on the Board did say since OSU’s student population is near Florida’s 50,000, there may be a situation where Ohio State students could be lent to Florida students on a semester by semester basis as personal valets.

Florida junior Kevin Young thinks the valet idea is just swell. “Everyone should have their own pet Buckeye,” said Young. “It would be like having your own personal fraternity pledge. I think the idea rocks!”

Were Florida to keep Ohio State, issues of whether to allow OSU to keep their current team name and mascot, as well as whether to allow them to continue to play in the Big Ten, would have to be resolved. Says Machen, “I think we could reach some sort agreement that would allow them to keep Brutus Buckeye and play in the Big 10. After all, what would we do – move them to the SEC? They would only get hurt. Since they are our wards now, we could never allow that.”

The prospect also exists that Florida would have dissolve Ohio State athletics. In that case, the issue of what to do with the student athletes is uncertain. Florida football coach Urban Meyer, when approached with the prospect of having to absorb Ohio State’s football team, paused for a moment and said, “I suppose they could be a scout team for our scout team. They really aren’t fast enough for anything else.”

Finally, there is one other idea University officials have floated, and that is simply to donate Ohio State to charity. “As I understand it, thousands of Hurricane Katrina refuges are still displaced. We could give OSU to the Katrina Relief Fund, and allow people to relocate there,” Machen said. “That could be the win-win situation everyone is looking for.”

Speaking of The Onion, they had their own take:


ATLANTA—The NCAA tournament field narrowed a little further—and became much more intense—on Monday night as the University of Florida tallied a convincing 84-75 victory over Ohio State University to advance further into college basketball's championship, making 2007 the second time in as many years that Florida has reached the NCAA Tournament's Round Of One.

However, Florida head coach Billy Donovan says that this time around, his team hopes to win it all.

Then Carrie, a friend from my UF days, passed along this story from the Gainesville Sun:

Spurrier Can't Hide Glee

Gator fans were still buzzing about the basketball team's back-to-back-to-back national titles in basketball and football Tuesday morning.

That includes the one in Columbia, S.C., who was getting ready to tee it up when he called both Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and basketball coach Billy Donovan to offer his congratulations.

"That's an amazing basketball team," said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier in a cell phone call to The Sun. "Billy has done an unbelievable job with them."

The former UF ball coach slipped in a "we" when twisting the knife into Ohio State, which lost both the football and basketball championships to Florida.

"We've kind of turned Ohio State into Runner-up U., haven't we?" said Spurrier, a Gator alumnus.

Update: I hadn't seen this ESPN spot:

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April 05, 2007



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So I actually bothered to check my MySpace page today after weeks of neglect and lack of interest.

The dashboard page told me I had new comments on there from someone named Dianne.

What was the comment?



I hate it when people mess up my mindless, immature use of technology with their unsolicited electronic prosletyzing.

(Say it with me: You got your Bible-thumping chocolate in my vacuous online peanut butter... You got your vacuous online peanut butter in my Bible-thumping chocolate! )

It's Holy Week. I can understand her passion. (No pun intended.) I'll be attending sunrise service this Sunday and cooking Easter breakfast at church. I like to think of myself as Mickey Dolenz spiritually: I'm a believer.

But whatever my beliefs are, well, they're mine. And I wouldn't dare push them on someone, especially by invading their cyberspace.

If I felt like making Dianne my ball of twine, I'd drop a Richard Dawkins anvil on her just for sport. Or maybe post photos of Pastafarian gods for her friends to consider.

But I won't.

I decide to give Dianne the benefit of the undoubt.

But not without checking out her MySpace page.


Mmmmmmm. I love me some zealot cornflower blue.

So, who is this "Dianne?"


Okay, great. We have nothing in common other than a belief in the almighty and a 20-year-age difference.


Hmm. A mixed bag at best. I can understand, given your spiritual proclivities, your attraction to "The Passion of The Christ." Makes perfect sense.

But "Prince of Tides?"

I say these words as a prayer, as regret, as praise. I say: "Philistine. Philistine."


That doesn't really narrow things down, Di.


Since it's Easter Week, I'll avoid the temptation of an easy joke.


Alas, a viewpoint we both share. I don't want you to have kids either.

They'd probably grow up to wear this sweatshirt:


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I get all kinds of letters about food.

This one comes from Kate over at Out in Left Field:

Hi there,

So I'm sitting with my dad and he's watching the Food Network. Paula Deen (Dean)? Anyway, I make a casual comment:

"Aren't there any thin cooks or chefs?"

My dad says, "No. The good ones are all big."

Now, my dad is on the big side. So is my mom. I'm fighting a certain biological destiny (that I *will* win, by God) and wonder if I'll ever be a good cook because I will be a thin cook. So I think and think and I point to a commercial featuring some thin woman who's cooking Italian food (I think she's the one who bothers Chef Rick - who is only slightly thin because he had gastric bypass and so he's out). Anyway, my dad says,

"I don't like her so she doesn't count. She's no cook."

Emeril is big. Rachael Ray isn't thin. Neither was Julia. And that's all I know.

So I'm asking my favorite food writer in all the world: Is there such a thing as a good chef or cook who is also thin?



To which I replied:


Funny you should say that. I was thinking about this yesterday.

The short answer is: Yes.

And no.

I don't disagree with your father's contention - The French have a saying : "Measure the girth of a chef and you can rate his restaurant." - but I also don't think that the culinary world is that different from the rest of life's professions.

You have your Jerry Seinfelds and your Louie Andersons.

You have your Tony Dungys and your Andy Reids.

For every Merideth Viera, there's an equal number of Rosie O'Donnells. For every Abe Lincoln, there's a William Howard Taft.

For every Catherine Robinson, there's an evil school district administrator starting static electricity fires with the friction generated by the nylon straining to contain her thighs.

But I digress.

Food Network's Italian culinary tomato Mario Batali? Not a tiny man.by any stretch. There's a reason they call him "Molto Mario."

Emeril? Thick, short and hairy.

Paula Deen? Fluffy, bawdy and lovable.

"Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten? There's something about her soft, rounded,lovely features that lends an air of ... authenticity? When she tells you what tastes faabulous and flashes a couple of adorable fleshy cheekbones at you, subconsciously a thought emerges: "That girl knows what she's talking about."

But Iron Chef Bobby Flay looks like he could play squash for four hours a day. Alton Brown has a few extra pounds (hey, iambic pentameter!) but he's nowhere near obese. Sandra Lee has collarbones you could hang laundry on.


Cat Cora just did a busty, tight-skirted, food-themed FHM cheesecake layout that made even me blush. The gun show going on in Robert Irvine's sleeves makes it look like he could have bench pressed Julia Child with one hand. Pinup boy Tyler Florence attracts gobs of women to his book signings who adore his touseled hair and his college wrestler physique. Giada Di Laurentiis... all I can say is, "Giadahhhhhhhhhh."

Yes, the culinary world is chock full of Paul Prudhommes. After all, they swim in a caloric stew all day long. Their greatest compass on the journey to success is their palate. They have to use that compass about a million, billion, trillion times a day. But how does one apply that logic to explain the bag of bones that is Anthony Bourdain?

A former heroin addiction? A jet stream of nicotine? Liver-straining access to adult beverages? All of the above. But his body clearly is an amazing metabolic engine that crushes anything resembling a carbohydrate. And some have better engines than others, I'm guessing.

Of all the restaurant kitchens I've visited, I'd say the ratio is about four skinnys for every fatty. I rarely see a plus-sized woman in the back of the house.

My armchair analysis: It's a thin-person's game. Kitchens are hot, stressful, cramped spaces occupied for long hours with lots of standing and physical labor involved. I'm not saying kitchen crews are a portrait of health - as a collective, they still smoke and drink like Mickey Rourke in "Barfly." But that kind of environment is not kind to large individuals on a long-term basis. Go sit on one of those chef stools they have at Carrabbas and you'll see all types of bodies, to be sure. Very few of them will likely be in need of NutriSystem.

My guess is that perception is skewed - as usual - by television. My hope is that TV doesn't decide to start casting in the future more on looks, charm and camera adoration (Rachael Ray, anyone?) than on talent and expertise.

Posted by Jeff at 07:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2007


Had the chance last week to go over to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to meet some of the chefs in the hospitality area where the teams wine and dine their VIPs, sponsors and team members.


Team Penske, which supports Indy Racing League drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves, have the most elaborate setup at the tracks they go to: Three tractor-trailers full of cooking equipment, kitchens and supplies - including an air-conditioned tent.


Inside are comforts that are foreign to most sports operations. Two big, flat-screen high definition TVs, a salad bar, seating for up to 100, a full buffet and even a self-serve wine chiller.


Jim Sleep is the head chef for Team Penske. He and two other chefs pump out up to 1,200 meals per race weekend. To save room on storage, they buy their fresh ingredients when they get to the track on the Monday before a big race.


Space is at a premium. Even the spice rack is in a hideaway shelf.


Marinated pork loin for 50, anyone?


I didn't really get jealous until I saw the Green Egg smoker he had behind the main trailer.

Man, the damnage I could do with that thing.

Sleep says he makes ribs and chicken on it. Loves it.

If it ever goes missing, he'll be able to find it in my garage.


Because the meals are meant to impress as much as they are to nourish, he has to keep everything flavorful. This tray of Chile-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Orange was out-of-control good.


Help yourself to a water.

Oh, look. There's a race on.


While it looks elaborate, the thing many people forget is that if they didn't have this setup, the crew would have to leave the track to go eat. That takes time away from the car. That means less success on the race track.

So when Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. sidles up the salad bar, he's not only enjoying the food, he's being efficient.

For more photos, check out the Snap gallery by TBO.com's Jim Collins by clicking here.

An aside: I had some of the best cornbread I've ever eaten at the Team Penske tent. Here's the recipe:

1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup melted lard, butter or oil
4 ounces diced jalapenos
1/2 cup chopped bacon
1/2 cup shredded chedder cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the cornmeal, eggs, salt, baking soda, milk, lard, chilies, and half the cheese in a mixing bowl.

Beat well.Then add the cooked bacon.

Meanwhile put the butter in a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Place in the oven until the butter melts, but is not brown. Immediately pour in the cornbread mixture Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and
bake 40 min or longer. Coat the top with honey while it cools.

Posted by Jeff at 07:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



I'm not proud of this.

Okay, I am.

The thought of putting the Hiccup Girl on an Easter egg makes me laugh. Intensely.

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Words. They fail me.

It's not often Sports Illustrated puts your two other covers from the previous year on it's cover.

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April 03, 2007


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We interrupt this period of alumni gloating to bring you something which will surprise you for about a nanosecond, after which you'll likely think, "You know, I always assumed he'd do something like this:

Keith Richards: `I Snorted My Father'

KeithRichards.jpgLONDON - Keith Richards has acknowledged consuming a raft of illegal substances in his time, but this may top them all.

In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Richards' father, Bert, died in 2002, at 84.

Hat tip: Susan

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During the middle of last night's NCAA championship game, I had an epiphany.

For a brief moment, less than three seconds, the true nature of what it means to be a Florida Gator was revealed to me in the embodiment of a young woman playing in the UF band.


The camera was panning the crowd, killing a few seconds of air while a time-out was called. And she was playing her trombone.

A few seconds later...


...her eyes betrayed her thoughts.

Ohmigod. I'm going to be on national TV.

What to do?

Does she continue playing and act like she's blase' about her face being beamed to millions across the nation?

Does she stop and mouth the words, "Hi, mom!"?

No. She does not.

For a brief instant, she's caught up in the excitement of where she is, what she is doing. The moment grabs her.

She does not flinch.

There is no hesitation.

She is performing as the nation watches.

So why not continue performing?


I fell in love with this woman instantly. Totally and completely.

At that moment, the Gators were leading the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game was still relatively close, but the distance in points between them was starting to grow.

She knew this. She was enjoying this.

So she threw a hand gesture that technically said "I Love You" but which, because of her white-hot enthusiasm, came off as quasi-Satanic.

She wasn't a musician at that moment. She wasn't a student. She wasn't a fan, a daughter or even a woman.

She was a Gator. And she was f-ing proud of that in ways that only a quasi-Satanic hand signal and an '80s hair band mouth gesticulation can express.


And then, after seizing the moment, she relinquished the national spotlight and went back to her lady business.

And I would forever remember her as the embodiment of all that I know about being a Florida Gator.

Posted by Jeff at 08:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



As I did with the football championship, I created a Flickr photostream of today's front pages from across the country where the Gators are featured.

Posted by Jeff at 08:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 02, 2007



At this time, it is fitting to remember these words:

"Are the Gators just gonna win everything this year? Football, basketball, 'Dancing with the Stars'?"

-Fox Sports announcer Charles Davis
Jan. 8, 2007

Posted by Jeff at 11:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



We're minutes away from tipoff in the University of Florida Gators' attempt to repeat as national NCAA men's basketball champions.

Some of us in Casa del Ensalada are channeling the nervous energy in productive ways.

In addition to dipping various objects in chocolate (above, as Abraham, right, and Lincoln, top right, look on), Salad Boy has also made...


...a bowl of Tyrokafteri (spicy Greek cheese dip).

And, in the grand tradition of the meatloaf integer and the Dead Man's Foot meatloaf, I hereby present to you his...


...University of Florida Championship Chocolate Chip Biscotti.


Posted by Jeff at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Dish towel for sale in a kitchen supply store in downtown Savannah, Ga.:


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As a diehard Gator fan, I can tell you that this story is a damn lie:

Peeps prediction: Buckeyes beat Gators in basketball title

SARASOTA, Fla. — Oddsmakers favor Florida in Monday's NCAA men's basketball championship showdown with Ohio State, but microwaved marshmallow chicks say the Gators are going down.

This less-than-scientific prediction comes from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, who had a reporter run Final Four and national championship simulations with Peeps jousters.

Peeps jousting is simple: Stick toothpicks in two of the sugary Easter treats and zap them in a microwave. The Peeps puff up until one lances the other. The poked peep loses.

The paper said its marshmallow warriors correctly predicted the Final Four showdowns between Florida and UCLA and Ohio State and Georgetown in two simulations.

And — twice — the Buckeye Peep took down the Gator Peep.

The real teams meet at 9:18 p.m. EDT tonight at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

And now, because it makes me laugh like a crazy man on mescaline, a totally unrelated photograph of a Peeps chick smoking a cancer stick.


Posted by Jeff at 08:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


And now, a little earwig for your brain:

Best. Lyrics. Ever.

I like pancakes and I like flapjacks.
They don't call me names and they don't talk smack.

Words to live by, friends.

Posted by Jeff at 08:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack