Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Dispatch: Remote Blogging from King of Prussia

So I'm writing this post on my G1 from a comfy couch in the ladies section at Neimam Marcus, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Already some good sights to report from the holidays:
-my special lady looking ravishing in a red ball gown
-wintry mix making the trees groan under the weight of the ice.
-delicious meals at B&B Las Vegas and Pearl Philadelphia; both sadly and undeservedly uncrowded restaurants (hope the industry makes it through a tough time.)
-the electric light Manorah-adorned cars in the Philly Hanukkah car parade.
-williams-sonoma candy cane white chocolate chips.
-snow, snow, snow in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada

Thursday, December 18, 2008

YouTubing at Work

According to a fresh report from Nielsen Online 'most online videos in the U.S. are watched at work between 9am and 5pm during the work week.'
Of course. When else would you want to watch distracting videos? This study just confirms what we already knew: only when you're being paid to do something you'd rather not be doing are you willing to interrupt your life with the rank and file inanity of YouTube.

For example, it's 9:23 am as I write this, I've already watched the 1997 and 1998 Colorado Avalance vs. Detroit Redwings brawls from the NHL's glorious past.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Honest Endorsement: Bumping Into Geniuses

I just finished Danny Goldberg's 'Bumping Into Geniuses' in about three-sittings, two of which I read aloud to my special lady. I haven't been motivated to do that in a long while, but found myself drawn in by Goldberg's highly personal account of an amazing career in the rock and roll business starting back in the late 1960s. 

Goldberg began as a critic, covered Woodstock, witnessed the birth of punk in New York City, managed press for Led Zeppelin (who I was surprised to learn did not enjoy critical success when they first made it big) and later went onto manage Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Nirvana and Warren Zevon. His story is reminiscent of Cameron Crowe's in 'Almost Famous' and I was astonished at the number of big names that casually drop into the narrative.

While the pieces on Zeppelin, Nicks, Raitt and Zevon are great, and intimately and revealingly tied contextually to the zeitgeist of the time in which they were happening, none is so effective as the book's satisfyingly long chapter on the meteoric rise and fall of Nirvana. In what is really the highlight of the book, Goldberg recount's his close working realtionship with Kurt Cobain during which he rose from broke to biggest rockstar on the planet (he spurned the plutonic man-crush advanced of Axl Rose during Guns 'n Roses peak of fame) to victim of his own success and martyr of the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle. We all know how this story goes, but Goldberg's anecdotes lend a rich new layer to a pop-culture movement and media soap opera I was very aware of as a teenager. 

It's weird that Nirvana matters to me more now than they did when they were active, but after reading this I was affirmed at the relevance of them as a band in the context of my own upbringing and surprised at the new, more complete sympathy I felt for everyone involved, but most surprisingly, Courtney Love (who, it turns out, had a tougher go of things that anyone understood at the time). 

This book flips a lot of the standing press coverage, speculation and 'truth' surrounding Nirvana and other famous rock bands and incidents on its head with the credible testimony of someone intimately tied to the business both professionally and emotionally as a genuine fan. I found it be an enormously revealing and satisfying take that, in the vein of other great books, nurtured my personal development by encouraging me to reconnect and rediscover some old music in a rich way. If you're at all curious about the music industry and rock and roll in particular you should check this out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

False Claims on Kenny G's Wikipedia Article?

Now, I think the theory that the 'G' in 'Kenny G' stands for 'gay' is still based on nothing more than rumor and visceral reaction to the insipid tones of his soprano saxophone. But, as the burgeoning source of all web-based knowledge (and therefore, all knowledge) Wikipedia is reporting today, in fact "[Kenny G] loves men with big balls." 

You can take this a couple of ways, obviously, but as a fan of his entire collection of feathery light jazz sax, I would push the interpretation that this is in the plutonic man-crush kind of way, sort of the same way I love Tom Brady. Kenny G's got a purely asexual appreciation, bordering on envy, of guys with huge testicles. And I can't argue with that because I can't say I really feel any different.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cheap Gas

Since this summer when gas prices hit over $4.50/gallon, I'd gotten into this pattern of not driving, walking and leaving my car on the streets to collect dust and dents. I know from ancedotes and other market evidence that this has been a good thing in terms of kick-starting our separation from fossil fuel energies. 

So I hope the recent gas prices won't derail the progress we've made as a culture. I recently read that Americans' collective household debt shrunk recently for the first time in history and this too must be a sign of the positive change in thinking and behavior. But man it felt great to buy gas at $1.75/gallon. In five years of car ownership, I've never paid less that I can recall.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Honey & Biscuits

Lately I've been obsessed with honey, putting it in everything from my tea and grapenuts to salad dressing. It came up again in conversation the other day when someone pointed outwhat may be honey's greatest miracle of all. Not it's intoxicating aroma or glowing golden color, nor the rich texture or sweet, sweet taste. Honey never goes bad.

Even when it's crystalized in the pot, you can heat it up in the microwave or  emers the container in warm water and you're back in business. This got me curious about how bees make such a special substance. According to Wikipedia, they collectively digest and regurgitate flower pollen over and over until they achieve the desired quality using a special apparatus called a 'honey stomach.'

Good to know. Sort of disgusting when you think about it. But not enough to offsite the delicious appeal of honey. And the Wikipedia masters of the honey article were prescient enough to temper their anatomical discourse with the tempting picture of honey and biscuits above. I don't think I've ever witnessed anything more inviting and know what I'll name my twin daughters (if I ever have them): Honey and Biscuits.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I promise to get off the food-related posts as soon as I recover from the body blow of the Pizza Hut Panormous we just put out of its misery. Now my afternoon is shot through with a de-motivating slug of indigestible processed wheat, cheese and mechanically-recollected meat byproduct (aka 'pork topping') and I will get nothing done.

Though Pizza Hut says that this is their 'BIGGEST Pan Pizza Ever!,' we've been down this road before. You youngsters may not recall the Pizza wars of 1993 when Dominos, Pizza Hut and the no-longer relevant Little Caesars squared off in an arms race of escalating pizza megatonnage at low, low prices, but they resulted in such epic creations as Pizza Hut's Bigfoot Pizza (which, at 2 square feet, may be bigger; and yes that is Haley Joel Osment.):

And let's not forget Little Caesar's Big! Big! Cheese Pizza and Bucket of Spaghetti:

Now with the economic downturn creating another ripe environment for preposterous food deals, we're seeing indeed that what is old is new again, and the pizza chains are back at it. Perhaps it was this unexpected chance to revisit my youth that made the Panormous so captivating and prompted today's online order.

As I was eating, I wondered what a terrible job it must be to work in product for Pizza Hut, continually confronted with the sisyphean task of making pizza new and exciting with recycled contrivances like dippable crust, cheese-stuffing and sheer size. At the end of the day its flour, cheese and tomato sauce. Where's the creativity in that?

But then, here I am, the ghost of Panormous past still wafts through the office, that flour, cheese and tomato sauce was consumed and enjoyed with abandon and I'm exactly as satisfied as I anticpated being.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fried Turkey: Well Done!

It's been a rough start to December since I've been in a coma since Thanksgiving when I finally succumbed to my spirit as an adventurous eater (not to mention the peer-pressure of the Nascar bandwagon) and ate a turkey that I had first painstakingly deep-fried in 4 gallons of peanut oil. (That's the bird above, in all its deep golden, crispified glory mere moments before the carnage began.)

Ever since Madden convinced me to try my first turducken back in '03, I've been gathering my courage to take the ultimate step and deep-fry a turkey in gratitude of our nation's founders' willingness to mooch a meal off the Indians in that first Plymouth winter.

Internet research abounds, both extolling the benefits and warning of the substantial hazards of frying a turkey (see: 'Deep-fried Disaster'). So it wasn't lightly, nor without a significant risk/rewards analysis, that I accepted this challenge.

Two things are true with frying turkeys, you need the right equipment and a shitload of oil. In this case the right equipment is more or less a giant-sized bunsen burner which comes some assembly-required in a kit. We got ours at Home Depot and I wouldn't recommend any jury-rigged contrivances as stand-ins since this seems to be how most of the explosively bad endings happen. That, and there are lots of unforeseen tools like the turkey-dunking/retrieval hook apparatus, as well as the long thermometer for keeping your oil in the sweet spot between 325 - 350 degrees farenheit. (Too cold and your bird won't cook, too hot and it's fireball time!)

But the best part is that when you get it right, as we did, you spend minutes (45 of them), not hours, waiting for your bird and when it comes out the skin is crispy and tastes like bacon, while the interior is moist and delicious.