Archive for July, 2011
When the time comes in your life to settle down and start pumping out offspring, every single person you know, parent or not, will be right there for you. Right there, that is, to tell all the things you need to know about how having kids is going to change/mess up your life.
“Forget about a good night’s sleep,” they’ll say.
“I hope you like Jersey Shore, because that’s about the only action you’re gonna see.”
“Oh, you won’t even miss going out to eat.. Staying home and having pureed peas spit on you will be just as much fun. Probably.”
None of this is particularly revolutionary or insightful. Odds are, as long as we’re not talking about the weekly train-wreck from that “16 and Knocked Up” show or whatever, anyone putting the time, effort, and commitment for pickles with ice cream into growing a child likely realizes the changes that come with young ‘uns.
It’s what they didn’t tell me that would have been useful.
It would have been nice if someone had mentioned that I was going to be purchasing enough crayons every year before school starts to run my own Madame Tussauds wax museum. And that’s just the start of it. It seems like we have to buy the exact same bunch of school supplies every year. Crayons, markers, paste, scissors, etc, the list is nearly never-ending. But what happened to all the stuff we bought last year? I’ve had the same bottle of Elmer’s Glue for a decade. What the hell are they doing at school that my kids need a new one every fall?
It’s like they round up all the kindergartners at the end of the year with whatever’s left of the supplies and treat them to the biggest paste and marker buffet of their lives.
But that’s not even the worst of it. Today, there’s one undisputed item at the very top of my list of Things I Wish They’d Told Me About Having Kids. I’ve underlined it twice and circled it in red ink. It’s the flies.
Everywhere I’ve gone in my house for the past few weeks, a fly has come with me. Sitting down for dinner? Look, there’s a fly. Snuggling into bed to get some much-needed beauty sleep? Hey, what’s the buzzing sound? I can’t even find a little peace in the one place a Dad’s supposed to be able to relax and read the sports page. Every time I walk into a bathroom, there’s a fly there already banging against the mirror like a bird hopped up on fermented winter berries.
Obviously, the fact that I’m routinely eating my breakfast and sharing coffee with Finster the Fly like that mooch uncle from your Mom’s side of the family that comes for a weekend but stays for two months can be easily explained when you’ve got four kids, three of whom are capable of opening doors to the outside world. They’re out of school for the summer and seem to have no problem going in and out every 30 seconds or so. And for some reason, no matter how many times you tell them you are not air conditioning the outside world or ask them if they were born in a barn, they will still insist on standing in an open doorway for a minimum of 4 minutes to discuss dead snakes when a neighbor comes to ask them to play.
Sure, they could just go out and play, but that’d be easy and might keep bugs out of the house.
Instead, I spend my summer evenings and weekends chasing winged insects through my house with a pink fly swatter. Because, yeah, I’m that cool.
So if there was one thing I wish someone had warned me about before we had any kids, I wish it’d been this: “Once you have kids, it’s just a few years until you hit that fly swatter ninja phase. Better start centering your chi.”
That’s some practical parenting advice, right there. And at least that way you could score a cool Fly Swatter Ninja outfit.
All I can really say is salty! Or salzig, as I was writing this post while drinking a Bohemian Pilsner beer at Hofbrauhaus Newport and had access to German friends. I know that isn’t the correct usage or grammar, but I learned a new word. So with our new German word, salzig, let’s take a look at US Chili.
I have never been to US Chili in Camp Washington and even though I am writing a post about it, I still have never been there. The reason for that is simple: their hours. I assume the place is mostly a breakfast-lunch joint and that is why they don’t have hours in the evening. Even on Saturday they close around 2 and they aren’t even open on Sunday. So I knew this would be a challenge this month. With my work schedule and my weekend sleeping in schedule I wasn’t sure what to do.
That’s where my friend Jenny, who was at the first “seeking of the ways” stop with me, saved the day. She volunteered to pick up the chili and bring it to me for lunch. It was a really, really, hot day so she dropped the food off to me at work, instead of us finding a place to go eat it. I could get used to this. I got a text and went downstairs and picked up my lunch. Like wouldn’t it be nice tomorrow to have someone send you a text and you just step out of your air conditioned building lobby for one minute to get the food? OK, maybe places deliver, but it was nice for a second to think I came up with idea. And, yes, I know I can take my own lunch to work.
Jenny must have felt guilty about the portion size because she wanted to give me a cheese coney too. She opened the bag and showed me a small cup with chili with a large condiment size of onions and another of hot sauce. I’m not a big eater, so I just took the chili and chili accessories. She told me the place really was a dump and it’s a good thing we didn’t go in to eat. I’ve seen US Chili from the outside before and kind of like the building that it is in. And it must be really difficult to have the chili parlor across the street expand and continue to be pretty successful. So I guess I’m feeling a little pity for US Chili.
Back at my desk and time to prepare my 4-way onion. I noticed there was no plate or bowl in the bag. Luckily we had a few paper plates in the office. After a couple of photos I poured the chili onto the plate (and evidently I forgot to take any photos of it on the plate.) It held more chili than I thought. The spaghetti was large but not as large as the spaghetti at Empress Chili in Alexandria. The chili was a dark brown, kind of the color of mock turtle soup (and maybe turtle soup, too, never had it). I like mock turtle soup. Maybe this won’t be so bad. I added about half of the bag of oyster crackers that were very thin. At least there were a bunch of crackers in the bag as opposed to the amount given by other chili parlors. The cheese was melted as it got to ride a few miles from Camp Washington to downtown on one of the hottest days of the year. The onions looked fresh and you could tell they were chopped by hand. So it looked like other Cincinnati chili, except slightly darker in color.
First taste: salty. Second taste: salty with a bit of spice. I can forgive a restaurant for a lack of flavor that needs salt. I don’t rate them well, but at least I can make the food palatable. But food with too much salt? There is no way that I know to overcome that. I continued to eat and if I could taste anything past the salt it was just an OK chili with a medium amount of spice. I decided to add some of the hot sauce from the large container they gave me. The hot sauce seemed like a watered down cocktail sauce with a hint of Tabasco sauce. Guess what? The hot sauce didn’t make a bit of difference. It made it a tad hotter, but not any better. The onions were fine and the cheese was very mild.
I wound up eating about half of the chili. Luckily, I didn’t get sick from it, which is great because I had been gassy all morning. In fact, for whatever reason, the gas went away. Overall I’d rate it a 1 out of 5 (maybe a 1.5 for getting rid of my gas).
[Pudn's note: I've known the author of this 3-Way post, Brooksy, aka Mark, for the better part of almost twenty years. I worked at the retail chain that Dustin Hoffman said sucked in Rainman; Mark dated (and later married) someone who was close friends with someone else who worked there. Come to think of it, I don't really know how it all worked out that we've known each other so long. It's kind of lost in the college-era fog. At any rate, for nearly two decades, he and I have been politely disagreeing about the best place Cincy chili. I was thrilled, then, when he said he'd happily contribute to 3-Way Thursday.]
I have driven past US Chili thousands of times, literally. It is situated right across the street from Camp Washington Chili, so given the choice I always chose Camp Washington. I walk in to US Chili by no means the toughest looking hombre in the place. There are some definite blue collar types here. Until semi-recently this was me. I give them the knowing nod. How goes it? I am shunned, then I realize I no longer look like “that” guy. I even shaved off the scraggily beard I had going on. They see this bald guy wearing khakis and a button down, not very blue collar. Oh well, at least I respect them. I go to the counter to order. Why? Because I don’t know any better, noob. I order my 4 way and am promptly told to sit down and that I don’t pay until I leave. Oh the hole keeps getting deeper. I make my way the bar along the window. The place is old. Not the old of the halcyon years but more of the 70’s when the drugs made the décor palatable. At least it was clean.
My 4 way is brought to me by a pleasant waitress. The food looks good. I inspect it. The proportions seem right and it smells pretty good, although the first bite was odd. Along with the tastes I expected I got a vinegar taste akin to that in Worthmore’s Mock Turtle Soup. I am happy to say that this taste faded. It is followed up by pepper, lots of black pepper. Definitely not too hot to eat but definitely the primary spice. I got just little hits of cinnamon. The onions were not that great. I must be really picky but I don’t think you should chop up the middle of the onion unless it is chopped finely otherwise it is too dense. The cheese was good but a little on the mild side. As I have said before, I prefer a sharper cheese. The chili was very meaty mainly because it isn’t ground as much as the other parlors. Although, one-dimensional, the taste seemed to permeate the meat, which is a good thing. I also think they may cook the spaghetti with the chili too. Why? Because of the sauce. At first inspection it looked good but the more I ate it the odder it seemed at least for Cincinnati Chili. It was a more of a gravy then a sauce, very thick, as if it had been thickened with corn starch, flour or maybe gluten from the spaghetti. Anywho it was very weird to my palate. My overall rating of this 4 way is 2.5 out 5 oyster crackers. There are some ok things about it, but the odd bits are dragging it down. I would still cross the street for Camp Washington.
US Chili did get the parting shot at my dignity though. When I went to leave I couldn’t get out. I pushed, I pulled, and the door didn’t budge. I had to ask the table of blue collar workers what was up. They looked me up and down and the biggest one said push…..hard. Thank God I was leaving because I didn’t want to see them laughing at me.
[Pudn's note: The author of this Puddintopia contributor post, Crankybear, aka Tom, is actually the 'Tom' half of Tom and Carla, the couple that created and maintain Hoperatives.com. He's the one who rather infamously offered me the chance to ramble incoherently over there from time to time instead of wasting all my rants here. I was and continue to be honored with the opportunity to write for them, and I'm likewise both honored and very fortunate that he decided to chime in on our 3-way quest.]
Any town worth a damn has at least one set of rival restaurants. In Philly it’s Pat’s and Geno’s for cheesesteaks. In Detroit it’s American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island for chili dogs. In Cincinnati it’s complicated because:
- It seems like every Indian restaurant with a name that starts with an ‘A’ hates all the others that start with ‘A.’ There have apparently been actual assassination attempts. That’s hardcore.
- The rivalry between Skyline and Gold Star is epic. I remember it being a bit more strident 10 years ago, but I’m fairly sure each would be OK with the other suddenly disappearing.
- Cincinnatians are champion grudge-keepers and I suspect there are rivalries around town that are so old and obscure at least one of the parties isn’t even aware the rivalry exists.
I don’t remember any of the details (and don’t really care to), but I’ve always understood that there’s a rivalry between U.S. Chili and Camp Washington Chili, two old-school chili parlors located right across Hopple Street from one another. When the call went out for this month’s 3-Way Thursday and U.S. Chili was chosen (anointed?), I have to admit that my first thought was “Oh, it’s the place that isn’t Camp Washington Chili.” I’ve eaten at Camp Washington a lot (though breakfast is when I’m likely to be in the area). I’ve seen U.S. Chili. I knew it was there, but I’d never been in.
I’m glad I’ve remedied that gap in my life experience. I have a feeling there are people who’ve been to U.S. Chili a lot who’ve never ventured across the street to “that other place.” There’s more than a street dividing the two places. I think it’s a mindset.
U.S. Chili is timeworn to the point of timelessness. A lot of people have passed through those doors. There are scuff marks on the floor that will never come out and memories that will never be remembered, The tables and chairs stoically persevere because they don’t know how to do anything else. There’s a massive vault door set in one wall that seems to say “I’ve been here a long time and I’ll be here a long time” and everything else in the place has decided to follow its example. The newest thing in the place is the young lady behind the counter. She was friendly, efficient and attentive with the nice-sized lunch crowd she took care of when I was there.
Come to think of it, the food is newer because they make it every day. That’s why people people keep coming though the doors.
So how was the chili? My usual disclaimer holds: I get a 4-way with onions because that’s what I always order and I don’t want to put any of the places we’re trying at a disadvantage because I think “…something is missing.” That being said, my answer is … complicated. From a pure taste perspective, U.S. Chili is easily the best I’ve had so far in our adventure. The chili was fragrant with the aroma of spices that might be cinnamon and allspice and, unlike our past locations, the taste built off the aroma without a letdown. It wasn’t overly spicy. I took a couple of bites to make sure I had a bead on the flavor and then I was reaching for the hot sauce to give it a bit of a kick. It only took a few drops, I’m happy to report, and I could still taste the chili.
All was not perfect, however. The liquid-to-solid ratio was … strange. The liquid was runny and the meat was clumping together and they seemed to be just tolerating each other like the heroes in the first half hour of a two-mismatched-souls-thrown-together buddy movie. It all mixed together fine, but the initial appearance was odd. The cheese seemed stiffer somehow than the usual cheddar, but it tasted just fine. The onions weren’t diced finely, but that’s OK by me. The oyster crackers were, in a word, awful. When I go back — and I probably will — I won’t bother to open the packages. The only flavor they had seemed to be just the slightest hint of staleness. It’s the only part of the whole experience where I thought there was some skimping going on.
There is nothing fancy about U.S. Chili. It’s for people who work for a living. They come through the doors for the food. The lack of artifice is just part of the deal. I doubt the vault door would allow anything fancy. I can’t be sure because it’s not talking, and everything else in the place seems to follow its lead.
When I realized that the target of this month’s 3-way Thursday was US Chili in Camp Washington, I was pretty excited. I actually work little more than a stone’s throw from the place, yet in the 5 years I’ve had the job and eaten some form of Cincinnati chili almost weekly, I’d never tried US Chili’s 3-way. The reason for that, is, well, another post, but the point here is that I was glad to have a compelling reason to stop in. Admittedly, I should probably be as ashamed as a married US Congressman caught texting pictures of his…er…”little constituent” to young women for skipping past it all this time, but then, the whole point of this wacky monthly adventure is to address the fact that I’ve been ignoring chili parlors right under my nose for years.
Speaking of our exercise here, I came to a conclusion after last month. As you probably know, in previous 3-Way Thursday posts, I’ve only tried the carry-out renditions of each respective place’s offering. It has occurred to me that, put simply, that was just wrong, wrong, wrong. As anyone that isn’t totally bereft of common sense and has even limited experience in Cincinnati-style chili can tell you, the dine-in 3-way is the way the dish is intended to be eaten. Yeah, sure, carry-out is available and can be satisfying, but it will never be as good as the version served piping hot by the guy or lady of Greek descent in the white apron standing over a big pot of chili.
The fact is, if I tried to assess a restaurant solely on carry-out as an actual food critic, I’d have chefs chasing me around with the intent of “educating” me with a stainless steel ladle and a rolling pin.
I’ve therefore decided that from now on, if at all possible, I’m going to try very hard to have both a dine-in and a carry out 3-way for each location on our quest (separate visits, of course). I do absolutely still want to find the best take-home way in the city, but I need a good point for reference first.
As for US Chili, their 3-way is a perfect example of just how difficult it can be to get everything just right. I really enjoyed the flavor of their chili itself. It was meaty and rich and I could clearly tasty all the exotic spices that make Cincinnati chili what it is. As a plus, there was even a modest bit of chili heat in the finish. Between that and the aromatic spices, the chili’s flavor lingered in the back of my throat for some time after each bite.
My only complaints for the chili itself refer to it’s texture. I found it very thin and fluid, even for Cincinnati chili. That’s not to say it was watery, though, because it wasn’t. The thinness of it seemed to be kind of oily; it was definitely a part of the chili itself and not water separating out of it. Moses wasn’t clearing a miniature path in my 4-way so that his people could escape Pharaoh en route to the land of milk and hot sauce.
Overall, I liked the chili very much. Unfortunately for US Chili, though, there’s more to a good way than just the chili’s flavor.
My single biggest problem with both versions of my 4-way (bean) was that the ratio of spaghetti and chili was off for my taste. Some of that can probably be attributed to the previously mentioned thinness of the chili, but only some. Otherwise, put simply, the dish really needed more spaghetti. And I’m not 100% sure, but I’m thinking that the spaghetti and chili might have been mixed before hitting the classic, oval-shaped 3-way plate. Maybe that wasn’t the case, but that’s how it seemed to me. Those things together gave me sensation at times that I was pushing one of those foam noodles around in a swimming pool, and that’s really not what someone should be getting from the experience.
Whatever shall we do!? Duh-duh-duh-duuuuuhh! This is a job for Super Crackers!
Wait…um…I mean, crackers usually can help with extra wet chili, right?
With the carry-out as well as the dine-in dishes, I was given two bags of crunchy oysters. In both cases, I used every last little baked nugget and could have used more. Admittedly, these crackers were the tiniest example of oysterhood I’d ever seen, and were thin enough to make me think crazy thoughts, like, maybe someone is splitting each little cracker long-ways to double the number in a bag. As I think it’s safe to assume that there aren’t any “cracker elves” cutting the complimentary crackers at US Chili each night, I figured maybe the little things were just made for Oompa-Loompas to begin with. And the little orange guys may, in fact, love them, but the crackers’ diminutive nature made them pretty ineffective at absorbing chili, which didn’t help me much.
What about the cheese? That usually helps solidify a 3-way once it’s reached its proper molten state, right? Indeed it can. Except, in this case, there really wasn’t quite enough of it to form that full upper crust to add structural support. My 4-way needed a full blanket of cheese, but it only got a heavy dusting.
Ironically, the opposite was true of the carry-out offering. There was plenty of cheese in a sealed, premeasured bag, and it was damn near solid already by the time I began to assemble my 4-way. So it did a fine job covering the take-out bowl. Because it was SO solid and SO thick on top, though, it became something on it’s very own. Rather than the perfect ratio of cheese, chili, and spaghetti with every bite, I had plenty of bites where I tasty nothing but cheese. And when you’re talking about Cincinnati chili, the spices are supposed to be delicately matched with the flavor of the meat, a dance of savory subtlety. But with that brick of melted cheddar, I didn’t have a subtle ballet, I had some crazy Black Swan “I’ll-cut-ya” stuff going on that simply overpowered everything else but the lingering spice in the finish.
I’ll have to admit, after ignoring it for years, I did very much enjoy my dine-in 4-way at US Chili much more than I expected I would. The chili has a very nice flavor, in my opinion, that I’d be happy to eat again. Unfortunately, though, a few of the dish’s component’s hold it back a bit. The chili is very thin, the Hobbit’s crackers aren’t quite up to the task of absorbing it, the way needs more spaghetti, and the cheese wasn’t quite right in either my carry-out or dine-in sample, for very different reasons.
Aside from the cheese, the 3-way drawbacks were magnified in the carry-out version, making it definitely not one of my first choices for picking up. But I’d dine-in again without a second thought.
US Chili gets what I think is the hardest part right; the chili is darned tasty. But the rest of it was kind of a hot mess, and which somewhat handicaps the 3-way in the end.
I’m up to my occasionally (but not currently, thank goodness) herniated cervical disc in work stuffs and things that need written (3-way Thursday is tomorrow, you know) that I sadly, have little time to devote to rambling incoherently on a topic such as “Why I don’t like garden beetles” today.
Wow, that was a long sentence.
Anyway, rather than give you proper nonsense, I give you instead, Things We Learned Today.
- If you write a post about laundry yet give it a title that hints you might be revealing something personal and potentially salacious, your blog will get twice it’s usual traffic. Such a revelation could lead to suggestive post titles in the future that are unrelated to the words used within. What? You thought I was above that sort of thing? Look, if you find yourself disappointed because you always considered me a high road-taking kind of guy, I’d like to point out that yesterday I reference wearing ducky pajamas. Clearly, the high road is not what you get here.
- In the midst of this debt ceiling nonsense, the Tea Party has decided that they guy they picked to lead the circus, Ohio’s own John Boehner—one assumes because he was reminiscent of clowns, being conveniently orange—needs to be replaced. When I first read the headline for that article, I hoped that the TP’ers had finally decided that maybe their scheme of driving the whole train off the old, washed-out bridge spanning Dead Man’s Canyon in order to protect that same train for, you know, the grandchildren, wasn’t the best option. Apparently that’s not the case, though; they feel he’s just not getting the job done. Sure, he’s steadfastly refused to compromise on much of anything with the other side of the aisle and has stuck to his guns on a wacky budget plan (that doesn’t even reduce spending as much as his rival’s). But those things are simply not hardcorez enough, and they want to give him the hook, even with the threat of a downgrade on US debt looming. Seems Engineer Boehner has been eyeing the train’s emergency brake and for the TPs, that just won’t do. Look, I’m all for cutting expenses, I believe in balancing the budget, and I’m not a big fan of entitlements. But risking another recession, or worse, to force radical policy changes this week for which public support is, at best, questionable, is simply unconscionable. Could we please get the inmates back to the asylum? Thanks.
- The two parties that make up the NFL have finished whining about how awful and greedy the other side is, not surprisingly just in time to play all their games this year. So I suppose now both parties would like us to continue shelling out mad phat cash since that they’ve figured out an agreeable way to divide it. Good for them. I imagine many families were concerned they’d have to keep their money under the bed this season. Thankfully, that won’t be necessary.
- Speaking of having football back, now that the labor “unrest” is over, apparently the Bengals have decided to admit what everyone else has known for months: Carson Palmer took his football and went home. And he’s not ever, ever coming back. Instead, it appears the Bengals have signed Bruce Gradkowski to take a beating for a few years until the new kid, Andy Dalton, is ready to step into the meat grinder full-time. Welcome to Cincinnati, guys. We’ll love you until you realize what a mess you’re in and get that glazed-over look in your eye, which means you’ve officially become Bengalized.
Hey, look at that. It turns out we also learned that I have opinions today. Who would have guessed that was coming?
Most of you obviously never tire of hearing about the ins and outs of my crazy-sexy-cool middle-aged dude suburban lifestyle. Which is why, of course, I always feel so terribly compelled to provide some sort of recap to our weekend adventures come Monday. I mean, sure, I’m not really convinced it’s all that thrilling, but you gotta give the people what they want, right?
Well, instead of the usual cloak and dagger game of cat and mouse with an attractive yet severe woman with loose morals, a taste for dangerous men, and a sugar daddy with a convoluted-world-domination-for-profit scheme, the Puddinette put her foot down this weekend. There would be no international espionage until we got a few things done around the house.
So, as I posted to Twitter yesterday, Productive Sunday was productive.
I’ll spare you the underwhelming details. You know, unless you really want to know more about my mulching habits. And no, that’s not euphemism. Also, I got…a haircut!
Yeah, so, the pinnacle* of the weekend turned out to be buying a new washer and dryer. And there was much rejoicing…
Well, ok, maybe not so much rejoicing. Still, sometimes, even though the thought of dropping a bomb load of cash on a new set of appliances rankles more than the knowledge that Paris Hilton has worked fewer total hours in her life than I worked last week, you just have to bite the bullet and pay up. Because, well, while doing laundry sucks, not being able to do laundry sucks way worse.
Yes, I realize I’m violating the Man Rule that requires any human with an XY set of chromosomes to enact a carefree attitude about having clean clothes. Trust me, when I was a bachelor, I lived up to my end of that particular bargain. Then again, I only ever had worry about whether or not I was dressed properly, and quite frankly, if I left the house with pants on I was ahead of the game for the day. As long as I couldn’t smell my clothing and nothing looked recently slept-in, we were good.
But now? These days I have to approach laundry with a somewhat more thoughtful nature. It turns out that a family of six is not just two adults and four children living through a series of short-term comedic situations in a never-ending, never-repeated series of fuzzy sweaters or butterfly collar shirts. No, in real life, a family of six is actually a Dirty Laundry Production Company, and if the clothes are piling up, someone’s profit margin is shrinking (I haven’t figured out exactly how that laundry-profit model works out just yet, but I believe the detergent companies have something to do with it).
With a family of this size, if your laundry equipment doesn’t cut the mustard, it won’t be long until little Johnny is asking why he has to wear the ducky pajamas that haven’t fit in two years and have to be shoe-horned on. This exercise is typically even more complicated when you factor in that the average child’s post-bath “drying off” practices typically guarantee that squeezing those PJs on will be like stuffing a honey-covered football into a gym sock.
The bottom line is that no, buying a new set of laundry appliances is neither fun nor sexy. They’re difficult to research, and for the money, you could be buying something that comes with an electric cord, a bunch of HDMI ports, and a screen that displays video in colors so vivid you’ll feel like Rainbow Brite puked on you, in a good way.
But unfortunately, when you’ve got enough kids, someone’s eventually going to actually puke on you. In those cases, it’d be nice to know you can get your shirt washed and dried before any permanent damage is done…or an odor moves in.
So, is it fun to spend a wad of money that could have been recreational on new household appliances? No, but it is rewarding when little Johnny’s pajamas don’t make him look like the poppin’ fresh Dough Boy.
And really, I wouldn’t want to wear the ducky pjs either.
*No, I don’t know why I have to use words like “pinnacle” instead of “high point” like a normal person. It’s my blog and I’ll be off-putting if I want to.
I have to admit that I’m not what anyone might consider an Amy Winehouse fan. Truth be told, I doubt I’ve ever heard any song she made besides “Rehab”. Part of that, I assume, is that the song, for me, is an incredible earworm. Anything that tortures me so usually doesn’t end up on a frequently repeated playlist. Once I’ve heard it, I can’t help but spend the rest of the day muttering, “No, no, no.”
Nonetheless, that’s exactly where I find myself today. After all the news this weekend, I imagine that’s to be expected.
Fan or not, shocking or not, I was sadden to hear the news of her death Saturday afternoon as I went about the usual errands with the family. Not everyone may have enjoyed her work, but I hope we can all agree that a life ended at 27 ended much to soon.
Rest in peace, Amy Winehouse, and may your demons now be truly conquered.
The Puddinette and I had our standard weekly XM-Sirius* radio, um, discussion earlier today. Of course, by “discussion”, I mean that when I switched over to it during our typical Saturday afternoon errand-running venture in the old family minivan, she proceeded to explain how she had less use for it than a yard squirrel has for chewing gum.
That stands in stark opposition to my own opinion, obviously. I find that the local radio offerings here are about as enjoyable as having cavities filled. What’s worse, every six months or so the only station or two I’m willing to debase myself enough to listen to will change format and become even more generic and crappy. I think Cincinnati has more soft “80’s-90’s-and-today” blend stations than chili parlors.
Of course, I do realize there are other options. Most people have all their music nowadays in some fancy digital format which can be replayed at any time. But then, I’m the Last Man on Earth without an iPod, as apparently I became a curmudgeonly cheapskate somewhere between 2001 and 2011. But that’s just as well, because my Average Middle-Aged Guy compact sedan doesn’t have anywhere to plug one in anyway.
And yes, I could always burn CDs with playlists on them. But doing that sort of thing, the making of the mix tape, is time consuming and requires forethought. Let’s face it, I’m pretty lazy. Burning a CD with a bunch of songs on it means you have to buy CDs and drag and drop files and physically put the disc in the drive, and oh, the horror! If I wanted to put that much effort into something, I’d sign up to run a marathon.
On top of all that, every time I burn a playlist to a CD I get the creepy feeling that my subconscious is trying to impress a high school girl. I mean, that’s the only real reason you make the mix tape/CD anymore, right? Sometimes I wake up with the cold sweats after having nightmares about being cornered on Dateline’s “To Catch A Predator” over a plate of oatmeal cookies with a CD in hand trying to explain to Chris Hansen how it was all a big misunderstanding and that I just wanted to make a 90’s Grunge compilation.
I’m not even going to get into why I need my music shuffled, either. It’s a long, strange story; anyone wanting that much insight into my OCD needs more help than I do.
The long and short of all this, of course, is that when I have to drive someplace—which, you know, I do at least twice daily—I find myself in a musical purgatory the likes of which even Simon Cowell would be sympathetic about. As a result, the opportunity to listen to our satellite radio means I look forward to weekend excursions in the family truckster like a frat guy looks forward to doing keg stands and throwing up on his “lucky shirt” on a Friday night.
As I said, though, the Puddinette doesn’t share my enthusiasm, and it’s hard to really blame her. She was raised with a pretty critical eye toward thriftiness, so this satellite radio business doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Radio is free, right? You just get it from the air? Snatched in waves from out of the sky as easily as a baby’s lollipop by fancy devices that you listen to but don’t have to pay a subscription for? So she doesn’t exactly get why we would pay money that could used for something fun like a new purse or ballpoint pens for something that’s otherwise free.
Today I took the position that you pay for it because it’s better. Sure, the variety isn’t everything it could be, but the options are much broader than anything you’d find from your choice of local radio stations. To illustrate my point, I switched over to 80’s on 8, hoping to catch something that would trigger a little youthful nostalgia for the Puddinette.
XM, ever helpful, immediately produced this:
Yes, that’s right, I looked to XM for a little support, and XM gave me a ridiculously melodramatic ballad by Chicago. The Puddinette laughed so hard I was afraid Coke was going to spontaneously spew from her nose.
Needless to say, it didn’t do much for my “higher quality” argument.
Thanks, XM. Thanks a whole lot.
*Yes, I know it’s technically SiriusXM nowadays, but we were XM subscribers before the magical corporate melding of the two satellite radio systems.
In case you missed the last night’s late news, a heat wave that could possibly rival the upcoming End of the World (October, right?) is currently tormenting the majority of the continental United States. I therefore decided that now would be good time to write a post about how to deal when temperatures exceed “unpleasant”, reach north of “ridiculous”, and ultimately settle at “OMG Melty Sweaty It Burns It Burns”.
Of course, my solutions aren’t particularly novel. I encourage:
- Sleeping nekkid on the AC vent
- Swimming in the nearest available pool (just make sure the owners aren’t gun people)
- More Lethargy
- Playing a round or four of “Thawing Frozen Peas with Your Face” (fastest time wins)
- Heavy Drinking
Those are all pretty self-explanatory, but I had this compelling urge to explain my position on that last one in length. And because taking a basic topic that needs little explanation and examining it in excruciating detail using as many rambly words as possible is kind of my thing, well, that’s exactly what I did in a new Hoperatives post. So click the link there and find out what kind of liquid refreshment I look for when Mother Nature decides to do a little baking.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting a bag of peas and going back to my vent for a nap.