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Three years. 36 months. 1096 Days. That’s how long it’s been since I finally returned to the blog I began in 2002 and mostly ignored until 2010. That’s how long it’s been since I decided that I was going to either prove I could be a writer, or I was going to shut the hell up about wanting to be one when I grew up.
That’s how long it’s been since I started a personal challenge to write 120,000 words in 2010.
On January 30th, 2010, I opened my first post with a rather ominous sentence: “I have come to the conclusion that I am not a very good writer.”
I was wrong about that one. When I first started, I wasn’t a writer at all. I was an Read the rest of this entry »
It came as something as a hefty surprise when I checked my blog stats today, that I wasn’t met with the Great Zero-Visit Flatline of No One’s Looking. I say that not because I truly expected not have any visitors, but in going over the past couple of week’s worth of posts, it seems I’ve been obsessing over candy-coated chocolates and running, which go together thematically about as well as seeing Winston Churchill and Kim Kardashian together on a blind date at Denny’s.
But I suppose if Puddintopia is consistently anything, it’s that you never know what you’re going to get, nor how long I’ll continue rambling on about it like a big, slobbery chewing on an old holey shoe. In that respect, it’s like the anti-theme blog, which is to say there’s usually no particular theme, excepting for the rare occasions when I do Get Stuck On A Topic; at which point I don’t so much drive it into the ground as I keep working at it until I’ve got a complete tunnel – with rest areas – straight to the fiery, molten core of the Earth.
I’m pretty sure my approach violates, like, Sacred Golden Rule of Blogging #1, but then I’m pretty sure I make a regular habit of breaking all the Sacred Golden Rules of Blogging. And as we’re all well aware, if you’re going to break the rules, you might as well do a complete and thorough job of it.
What’s my point? Wait…I’m supposed to have a point? Who said anything about having a point.
Just kidding. But since I’m apparently determined to be all “meta” today by blogging about the blog (which is also probably verboten as per The Rules), this is as good a time as any to mention that yes, Puddintopia will staying “Puddintopia”, at least mostly. I must admit that when posting the “What’s in a name” Weekend Debate, I was pretty much expecting the “Egad, that’s awful” option to carry the poll unanimously. As it turns out, though, the results were categorically the opposite. So apparently, it’s not the stupidest name ever for a blog.
(you knew there was a but coming, right?)
That is not to suggest that things will be staying the same around here. Indeed, no. Changes, they are afoot (incidentally, I always thought “Changes are a Hand” would be a sweet band name). Retaining Puddintopia might be important in the whole having a sweet, unique online representative home thing, but if I want gain readers – and let’s be honest, part of the whole writing deal is
tricking compelling others to read your nonsensical musings on the various colors of sno-cone toppings – it’s pretty important that googling me (I wish that was as fun as it sounds) doesn’t lead to either this guy, who’s apparently an Edinburgh politician (yes, in Scotland), or the handful of the other people with my name.
Thus, be on the lookout for changes and whatnot.
Also, for the record, I believe I’ve set a record in this post for use of parentheticals. Apparently my mind is flittering about like a sugared-up toddler’s attention span today, i.e., having trouble staying on topic.
And with that little nugget of miraculous import, I believe I’m done for today.
For that, you’re all very welcome.
Sorry about the week of weak photography here about these parts. In case you didn’t put 12 and 19 together to come up with thirtysomething, I was mostly checked out the past few days. The Puddinette and I strapped the puddinlings into ye olde family truckster and hit the highways and byways of our great nation on the Great American Family Summer Vacation.
Much to everyone’s surprise, we all even returned alive.
And yes, of course there will be the obligatory post-trip wrap-up post, but this is not it. My brain is in no condition for that sort of thing yet. I’m still on “beach mode”, which means if you ask me a question, you’re more likely to get a Lebowski-esque “dude” answer than a useful one.
That’s just what the surf does to you, man. In a good way.
Anyway, the grand vacation post will come tomorrow. Tonight, however, I realize that I lapsed on this week’s Saturday Debate.
Obviously we can’t allow that sort of thing to stand.
Luckily, I have a debate topic on had! We just spent two days driving home from South Carolina with an overnight stay in Knoxville, which included a few hours of seeing the sights in Tennessee today.
On paper, though, its an 11-hour drive. We could have done it in one day and stayed another night on the beach. Instead, we chose to take the leisurely route rather than subject ourselves and the other kids to living with three year-old vehicular mania.
It seemed the most humane thing to do.
So here’s the debate, then…what do you say when it comes to the family road trip, should it be step-by-step or band-aid style (all at once no matter how it hurts and just get it over with)? I like to take my time and enjoy myself, but im willing to admit the other way has benefits.
So here’s you’re shot, tell the world what you think.
Family Roadtrips: Slow and Steady or Drive Hard and Get ‘er Done?
And, yes, even with the day-late Saturday Debate, you get a poll!
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org
After reading today’s earlier post, in which I declared my beach-trip maidenhood, the Puddinette was quick to make one key editorial suggestion. See, while it’s certainly true that I’ve never been on a vacation dedicated to spending most of one’s time on a beach, that’s not to say I haven’t ever been on a beach while on vacation.
In fact, I’ve been on two Caribbean cruises, and we honeymooned in Jamaica. But we spent a limited amount of time beach-going on those trips.
Nonetheless, if anyone out there happened to be thinking, “Oh, the poor dearie has never seen the ocean” and was perhaps taking up their checkbook to make a hefty donation to the “Get Puddin to the Coast” fund, um, I guess put the pen down. Maybe. I mean, if you want to donate to my vacation fund, I certainly wouldn’t send it back. Goodness knows traveling with a small basketball team like the Puddin Family isn’t cheap. Souvenirs alone are like…
Ahem. Never mind.
Anyway, so yes, I’ve beached before. This, however, will be my first all-beach-all-the-time trip. And I’m very much looking forward to it.
I hope that clears up any misunderstandings.
Now, then, I have even more EXCITING NEWS!
No, I didn’t sell the book yet. Not that exciting.
But…BUT! Netflix has finally seen fit to send me Underworld: Awakening! I don’t know if my number came up in the bingo-style DVD hopper or if perhaps someone who works at Netflix reads Puddintopia*, or what. Perhaps, in the immortal words of Mr. Miyagi, simply “Buddha provide”. Either way, indeed, there was much rejoicing.
So then, as soon as the kids are asleep and not likely to be bothered by the sounds of a cheesy vampire-werewolf-gunfire romp, I’m going to watch the hell out of it.
It’s okay to be jealous.
I won’t hold it against you.
*HAHAHAHAHAHAH. Shyeah, right. And monkeys’ll fly outta my butt!
Not much time for rambling a post today, I’m afraid. Busy, busy, busy. ‘Tis the Season and all that. Busier this evening still, so instead of entertaining you with words of wit and wisdom, allow me take this opportunity to present your very own 2011 Puddintopia Holiday Card!
Feel free to print it out, tack it up, and bask in the Holiday cheer!
This is basically just a quick post to test changes I made to the RSS feed for Puddintopia. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, it’s no biggie. In a nutshell, I needed a way to track readers who use RSS. If my understanding is correct, it should all be kinda transparent to anyone out there, including you elusive RSS-types (I’m one of you myself).
So, anyway, there you go.
Since I have nothing interesting to write about today, I figured I’d post a haiku. I wrote it Wednesday on a plane (can you tell?) on the way home from Chicago.
Given the flight’s length, a haiku was just about all I had time to write.
Anyway, I’m entertained that is as close to a “traditional” haiku as I’m ever likely to compose. I hope you don’t, you know, hate it.
Puffy white beauty
Insubstantial below me
[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.]
Ok, I admit it. I have been little remiss in the writing department. My intentions were good. My execution wasn’t. As a way of explaining today is my birthday. When I was younger without kids this was my day. The day where I dictated what I want to do, or as the case may be to ignore it as I see fit. Children don’t see it that way. Every birthday should be celebrated with gusto. This means that my birthday now has an agenda, one not of my making. There are dinners, cakes and surprises, like the game of Sorry at 6:35 this morning. All this means is that I was a little side tracked but my heart was thinking about Blue Ash Chili, not really, I was enjoying time with my kids.
I have had Blue Ash Chili before. I didn’t care for it. It seemed bland, but I gave it the second shot. I went to Blue Ash Chili with Pud’n. We sat and were served by a bevy of waitresses. I ordered a 4-way onion. When it was presented, it was a good portion, with the right amount of cheese. Not heaping, but enough that it won’t melt. The taste: The second time around the chili was good. There was no heat, but the spice load was pretty good. It seemed as if it had been simmered a long time. Every bite of the chili seemed to be the same. The flavors were melded really well. Of course that was the chili. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with my 4-way. It took me about half the meal to figure out why. The spaghetti they use is fairly thin. This thin spaghetti was coated with butter. My son would have loved this. I think both of my kids could eat butter by the spoonful. But the butter kept the chili from sticking to the spaghetti. The layer of pasta seemed to stick together like a really thick noodle. It was doughy and took away from 4-way experience. All in all, I wouldn’t eat another “way” there, but I would probably go in and have a bowl of chili. The onions were good, not hot but flavorful. If I had to give a number to the total experience I would say 3 oyster crackers out of 5. On that note, the oyster crackers were definitely lacking. I prefer an airy oyster cracker. These crackers were very compact, adding to the “doughy”ness of the entire meal.
Well this old man is out. I have to go yell at some kids to get off my lawn. Now where did I leave my…..why did I come in here?
[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.]
Ah, 1969. I sort of remember it. It was the year of Apollos 9 – 12. The Cuyahoga River catches on fire the same day Judy Garland dies in June. The Haunted Mansion opens in Disneyland and that night the first of the horrible Manson murders happens across town. Woodstock was the next week. The Beatles release Abbey Road in September, the same month William Calley’s troops destroy My Lai.. The first message is sent across ARPANET and Wal-Mart is founded a few days later in October, setting the stage for two cultural forces that shape the final decade of the 20th Century.
I was six years old. Beyond the Apollo program, I wasn’t much aware of any of this. I started the year in my hometown of Independence, MO and ended it in the then-not-at-all-trendy town of Asheville, NC. Oh yeah, Nixon became president. I was convinced his full name was “That g****mn Nixon” because that’s all my father ever called him. Not a fan.
1969 is also the year Blue Ash Chili opened on Kenwood Road. I have no idea how much of a splash that made locally. They were the new kids on the block long before there were New Kids on the Block. It had been 40 years since Cincinnati-style chili was invented when they opened, and it was another 42 years before I managed to find a parking space to try the place out myself.
The truth be told, it wasn’t that hard to find a parking spot. They have a pretty big parking lot because they need a pretty big parking lot. If you go during the lunch rush as I did, be prepared to wait. You won’t have to wait too long. The first thing I noticed about the place when I walked in is that everybody was hustling. There had to be a dozen people behind the counter. The tables turn over. Notice that there’s a line for take-out and a line for sitting down. Keep that straight and it’ll all work out fine.
One of the things Blue Ash is known for is their six-way chili. Beyond the typical onions and beans that give us the 4- and 5-way, Blue Ash adds fried jalapeño caps to add one more. I didn’t get it that way because I always get a 4-way (onions) to be consistent with each place I go. I did get one of their hold-the-hotdog coneys that had the peppers. When I go back — and I will — I’ll be getting those things on my 4-way. I approve of them entirely.
The chili is hyped, and I understand why. It’s really a fine example of what the dish is supposed to be. It’s easily the thickest in consistency of any we’ve reviewed so far, but it’s not stiff. The liquid-to-meat ratio is perfect. I think they grind their meat very fine because you don’t find big chunks of meat, but if you look at it closely you see that a spoon of it is as much meat as liquid, if not a bit more.
There’s no heat to the chili at all, but it’s flavorful. I wish my order had come out at a warmer temperature. As much as the server was hustling, I think the order sat for a couple of minutes. On the other hand, when I started doing the mixing in the cheese melted, so it wasn’t like it was stone cold. I definitely classify the flavor as sweet, but the spice blend is so well-balanced no single one jumps out at you.
I’ve only been to Blue Ash Chili once, but based on that visit I can say that it’s my favorite of the places we’ve visited so far for 3-Way Thursday. If I were introducing someone to the dish, this would be a good way to do it. What’s interesting is that the place seems to be as well-known for its double-decker sandwiches and non-chili-based dishes as it is for its namesake. It could just as easily be called the Blue Ash Diner and be perfectly accurate.
I’ll probably never be able to shake the impression that Blue Ash Chili is a newcomer to the Cincinnati Chili scene, but I’ll also never get used to responsible adults being quite a bit younger than me. It’s a 1960′s thing. You kind of had to be there.
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).