"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Proust Is In The Pudding

I'm very flattered to have been invited by the editors at Vanity Fair magazine to be featured in an upcoming issue's "Proust Questionnaire," a venerated feature on the last page where notables in the arts respond to a series of questions first made popular through responses from the renowned writer Marcel Proust. Such prominence in the magazine is a clear indicator that the individual being featured has "made it" in their field.

One slight correction to the above: I should have said I *would be* very flattered to receive such an invitation from the editors... But they say in order to achieve what you want, you need to visualize it first, right? So when that invitation does come, I'll be ready to respond while the iron of celebrity is still hot (or at least lukewarm) -- as indicated by my proposed responses below: 

What is your idea of perfect happiness? When someone brings me another beer before I even ask for it. ⧫ What is your greatest fear? That I'll run out of beer. ⧫ What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My almost painful level of commitment to justice and equality for all. ⧫ What is the trait you most deplore in others? Hubris. ⧫ Which living person do you most admire? The one answering this questionnaire. ⧫ What is your greatest extravagance? A near-limitless supply of beer. ⧫ What is your current state of mind? Beer-addled. ⧫ What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Temperance. ⧫ On what occasion do you lie? On Thanksgiving, when I say the turkey was delicious and wasn't dry at all. ⧫ What do you most dislike about your appearance? The envious stares it elicits from passers-by makes me uncomfortable. ⧫ Which living person do you most despise? Any one of several bosses I've had. ⧫ What is the quality you most like in a man? Someone secure enough in his masculinity to pick up the tab for any group I'm part of without being prompted. ⧫ What is the quality you most like in a woman? Someone who demonstrates her commitment to feminism by not expecting me to pick up the check. ⧫ Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Oh, sorry -- I seem to have left my wallet at home." ⧫ What or who is the greatest love of your life? Other than myself? ⧫ When and where were you happiest? About seven minutes ago, sitting in this chair, when someone brought me another beer. ⧫ Which talent would you most like to have? I'd like to be a faster and mor e acurate typits. ⧫ If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My underwear. ⧫ What do you consider your greatest achievement? Changing my underwear while still holding on to a beer. ⧫ If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Well, I've already lived as a person, so I imagine it would be as a thing. Perhaps as a cold mug of beer. ⧫ Where would you most like to live? I'd like most of me to live in the Swiss Alps, and the rest of me could stay in a timeshare in Boca. ⧫ What is your most treasured possession? I have a box full of Krugerrands buried in my backyard, 10 paces due west from... uh, never mind. ⧫ What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Puns. No, wait -- those are the lowest form of wit. I think the lowest depth of misery is once you get ten or fifteen feet below surface level, right when it makes your ears pop. ⧫ What is your favorite occupation? The Allied occupation of Japan is a famous one, but I wouldn't exactly call it a "favorite." ⧫ What is your most marked characteristic? My dermatologist has been keeping tabs on a suspicious-looking mole on my back. ⧫ What do you most value in your friends? The amount of cash in their wallets they are willing to part with when we are out on the town. ⧫ Who are your favorite writers? Those who will offer to write a blurb for the back cover of my next book. ⧫ Who is your hero of fiction? It's a toss-up between Archie or Spiderman. ⧫ Which historical figure do you most identify with? Kim Kardashian ⧫ Who is your hero in real life? Judge Judy, because I also like to render unfavorable decisions against people I've just met. ⧫ What are your favorite names? Rising Tide, Ballast Point, Rogue, Dogfish, Oskar Blues and, in a pinch, Budweiser. ⧫ What is it that you most dislike? When I have to wait for someone to bring me another beer. ⧫ What is your greatest regret? That I didn't come up with a better answer to the previous question. ⧫ How would you like to die? On the contrary: I'm gonna live forever. I'm gonna learn how to fly. I feel it coming together. People will see me and cry. I'm gonna make it to heaven; light up the sky like a flame. I'm gonna live forever. Baby, remember my name. (Remember, remember, remember...) ⧫ What is your motto? "Nescio si i sentio exstaticos uel ludicrum," which roughly translates as, "I don't know if I feel ecstatic or ludicrous."

If When this comes out in the magazine, do you think they'll comp me a few copies?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Putting the Angst in Thanksgiving

If you’re still trying to decide what to serve for Thanksgiving this year, here are a few favorites from my recipe file. They are guaranteed to please -- and you should remember, in this context, the word “guarantee” has no basis in fact or implies any legally enforceable standard for satisfaction. What are you going to do if you don’t like them, or end up in the emergency room as a consequence of ingesting – sue me? I’ll see you and your ambulance-chasing huckster attorney in court, sucker. Enjoy!

Turkey ceviche. Have your butcher remove the skin and bone from a 4 - 5-pound turkey breast. Using the same knife you almost sliced your finger off with last Thanksgiving, dice the raw turkey into quarter-inch cubes. “Cook" the diced turkey by placing in a glass or other non-reactive bowl and marinating in 1 cup of freshly-squeezed lime juice; refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove and add finely chopped tomatoes, red onion, celery, green bell pepper, parsley and cilantro and gently combine all ingredients while drizzling with ½-cup EVOO. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a dash of Maalox®.

Chocolate cake stuffing. Using your favorite boxed cake mix, prepare two 9” layers. Sauté chopped onion and celery in butter, then mix in one layer of the cake, crumbled. Add 1 tablespoon each of poultry seasoning and rainbow jimmies. Stuff the bird with the mixture and bake until you realize hours too late that the built-in thermometer has malfunctioned, leaving the turkey completely dried out and beyond salvaging. Save the day by bringing out the second cake layer to serve to your disappointed guests. OPTIONAL: Drizzle gravy over top of cake before slicing.

Sauced cranberries. Open a can of prepared cranberry sauce while sipping chilled vodka, straight up, since that’s the extent of your culinary abilities. Have a bandage ready when you inevitably cut your finger on the sharp edge while removing the lid. Sloppily dump contents of can into an antique crystal serving dish, possibly chipping it. Toss onto the table, which will likely break the antique at its base, and then immediately return to the sanctuary of the living room to sullenly keep at it with the vodka until everyone leaves.



Green bean casserole. Par-boil two pounds of trimmed beans, drain and immediately immerse in ice water to preserve their color. Arrange evenly in a shallow pan and pour the prepared contents of one box of lime Jell-O® over the beans. Place dish in the refrigerator until the gelatin sets. Once the mixture has solidified, remove from refrigerator and top with french fried onions. Bring to room temperature on the kitchen counter and then forget to serve with the rest of the meal.

Sweet potato casserole. Boil 11 pounds of peeled and diced sweet potatoes for one hour, or until all traces of color are removed. Drain and mash using a mallet or garden weasel. Stir in the contents of one bag of granulated sugar. (NOTE: For those who require this dish to be sugar-free, you are shit out of luck.) Pour the resulting mush into a Bundt pan that has been lined with mini-marshmallows. (Another NOTE: If you are obtaining the mini-marshmallows by sifting through packets of powdered hot chocolate mix, be sure to rinse all traces of the cocoa from the mini-marshmallows so as not to disrupt the delicate balance of flavors this dish requires.) Bake at 400 degrees for two hours and then invert the Bundt pan. When the casserole refuses to release from the pan, swear uncontrollably for ten to fifteen minutes and then get on with the rest of your life.

Roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts with bacon. Thinly slice one head of cauliflower florets and 1-1/2 pounds of Brussels sprouts, lightly season with salt and pepper and then sauté in safflower oil until tender. Separately, pan fry two packages of bacon until crispy and nicely browned. Throw away the sautéed vegetables and serve the delicious bacon to your appreciative family.



Mac and chinos. Prepare a box of macaroni and cheese according to the package directions and serve while insisting everyone wear matching outfits during dinner.

Glazed carrots. Trim two pounds baby carrots, removing tops and tips before peeling, which will result in approximately three ounces of remaining vegetable. Using a small brush, apply several layers of shellac to each carrot stick. Place in a colorful serving bowl and advise these are not to be eaten.

Spiral sliced ham. Combine one cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup prepared mustard and two tablespoons cider vinegar. Mix thoroughly in a bowl and then drizzle over a 12-pound boneless, skinless cured ham. (What it has been cured of is not important.) Bake in a 350 degree oven for two hours. TO SPIRAL SLICE BEFORE SERVING: Insert the tines of a large serving fork into the center of the ham and secure the handle in the chuck of a 1/2" drill. As you operate the drill, have another family member (preferably your wife's least-favorite uncle) firmly press a sharpened carving knife against the surface of the spinning ham. Involve any children present in the meal preparation by having them chase after the flying pieces of meat and place onto a china platter.

Pumpkin pie. Really? You make your pies from scratch? What a complete waste of time. Just buy whatever brand is on sale, prepare according to the package directions, chip away the burnt edge of the crust and obscure the processed flavor by spritzing half a can of whipped cream on it.



Remember that everything tastes better when it’s made with love, which is why so many family dinners are fondly recalled as being inedible.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

To Speech His Own

Welcome to Part XXIV of my series, "Learn How To Better Espresso Yourself Through Proper Word Choosing." In today's lessen, we will review the Parts of Speech and how to combine those parts into a hole.

There are somewhere between six and a gazillion parts of speech, depending on how you categorize them. For this lesion, we'll go with what I have listed below. If you have any modifications or additions to this list you'd like to suggest, please email me at stuffitinasock@whocares.net.

The Parts of Speech are:

Nouns

A noun is defined as being a personplace or thing. Examples of each:
  • Person: the President-elect, a xenophobe; the milkman (since both milk and man are nouns, "milkman" is referred to as a "renoun," mostly because of the rumors he fathered several children in the neighborhood).
  • Place: My father often said he would like to put me in my place. I'd respond with, "Where -- a volcano? The supermarketMoosewood Lake?" He'd reply, "How about the hospital?"
  • Thing: This one is easy, since there are many things -- that thing over there; that thing we were just talking about; "That Thing You Do;" let me thing about it for a while.
proper name is a noun -- "Hey, Jim!" An improper name is also a noun -- "Hey, Jim! You shithead!"

In later lessons, we'll get into further depth about sub-categorization of nouns -- abstract, collective, and wait until we talk about the Seven Mutant Plurals! (I believe at least five of them were featured in the last X-Men movie.)

Pronouns 

A pronoun replaces a noun. To illustrate:
  • "In high school, my girlfriend Gail informed me she'd be going to the senior prom with Jim Westlyn instead of me."
Replacing a noun, especially one who showered his girlfriend with flowers and unrelenting affection, and particularly with a shithead like Jim Westlyn, can be devastating.

Verbs

Verbs describe an action or state. This can be a little confusing since you might think Maine and New Hampshire are places and therefore nouns, but apparently they are actually verbs. What can I say? Grammar is a rough business. I don't make the rules; I just follow them.

When we talk about verbs we also must talk about tense. This is understandable because the election results have left many of us feeling that way.

As a side note, one of my favorite vocal groups back in the day was Peaches and Verb. They sang "Shake Your Groove Thing" -- in that song title, Shake is a verb and Your is a possessive pronoun, but what is Groove? Groove is like "the boogie" -- you'll know it when you feel it.

Modifiers

There are two basic kinds of modifiers, adverbs and adjectives:
  • Adverbs modify verbs. If we were to insert an adverb into the sentence, "See Jack run," in order to modify the verb run, we might say, "See Jack run. No running inside the house, Jack!" In that way we would modify Jack's action.
  • Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns. As an example: "Upon hearing he was planning to take my girlfriend to the prom, I beat the shit out of the pronoun Jim Westlyn." I certainly modified his face, but Gail still wouldn't go to the prom with me.
Preposition

Prepositions are very common words, such as in, at, on, by, before and multitudinous. Let's use one in a sentence: “I’ve got a preposition for you, Westlyn -- leave Gail alone or I'm going to modify your face."

Conjunction

I had conjunction once and was out of work for three days. Symptoms include red, itchy eyes and a very unappealing discharge.

Interjection

An interjection is what I was hoping would happen after attending the senior prom with my girlfriend Gail. As you may have inferred, that plan did not come to fruition.
--

In our next lesson, we’ll explore how to choose between that versus which, who versus whom, love versus infatuation, and how to put up with relative pronouns during the holiday season.