Monthly Archives: February 2014

Coffee Talk…

Coffee Talk…

Corby Kummer at The Atlantic discusses how to make a “simple cup of coffee.”

Spoiler: It’s actually not all that simple.

I’ve always opted for unplugged, no-think, early-morning ways to brew. That’s why in my book The Joy of Coffee I advocate manual drip, a simple version of what today’s shops call “the pour-over”—and what I call “the agonizing pour-over.” My method involves putting grounds into a metal filter (which lets through more flavor than a paper filter), evenly pouring a small amount of hot water over the grounds to thoroughly wet them, and then letting the flavors “bloom” for 15 to 30 seconds or so before pouring the rest of the water over the wet grounds in a slow but steady stream. Simplicity itself, even if the hot-water-to-grounds ratios for different amounts of brewed coffee that I recommend in the book took weeks to work out.

I was born well before the rise of Starbucks when Maxwell House was a common fixture in a coffee drinker’s home, and office coffee wasn’t Flavia or even a Keurig but an anonymous packet of grounds that percolated through a soon-to-expire Mr. Coffee. No matter where you worked the office rules dictated that whoever finished the pot had to make another, so for hours, you’d see a thin layer of black liquid that was not “good to the last drop” slightly burning at the bottom until someone desperate for caffeine gave in and made the next pot.

I can’t state definitively if life is better now that we know all about Kenya and Ethiopian reserve blends. Although my mother, who took her coffee black, would probably insist that if you’re going to dilute your cup with cream and sugar, you might as well stick with freeze-dried crystals.

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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Social Commentary


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Today’s Weird Photo…

I’m not sure why someone thought this image, which popped up in my Facebook feed, would inspire me to eat anything. It looks like the trailer for either a remake of Little Shop of Horrors or Dr. Giggles.


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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in Pop Life


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Johnny and Betty in Eden…

Classic Tonight Show clip from February 1979. Johnny Carson would have been 53 and Betty White was 57. I’m impressed. And this might explain the origin of my childhood crush on Ms. White.

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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in Pop Life


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Super Sarah…

In her ongoing quest to ensure no one takes her seriously, Sarah Palin, who once was governor of a state, released a promo for her new TV show Amazing America.

Palin, who also appears regularly on Fox News, appears in silhouette in front of an American flag while electric guitars play in the background. Quotes about her appear on the screen as the camera focuses on her darkened figure. Then, the lights come on and Palin appears fully lit and declares “America prepare to be amazed.”


And because no sane person would actually believe what was just described, here’s the promo itself.

If you thought flag pins weren’t appropriately jingoistic, Palin goes one better with red, white, and blue boots and some vaguely low-rent Captain America knock-off tee-shirt.

Considering Palin has been a reality TV star longer than she was ever a public servant, she is basically a Kardashian except with less class. It’s not even about her politics at this point, surely even the most strident conservative must admit that this is unbecoming of a political figure. I also doubt any agent representing a Kardashian would recommend they do this show.


Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Social Commentary


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What the hell, Arizona?

From CNN:

Arizona’s Legislature has passed a controversial bill that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

To borrow from the Robot Devil, this bill is as lousy as it is bigoted.

CNN’s interview with Rep. John Kavanagh who supported this bill is straight-up crazy. This guy is a legislator and he can’t effectively communicate how this bill would actually work any better than some random person interviewed on the street who isn’t wearing pants. Apparently, the freedom to be a religious bigot extends to independent contractors (wedding photographers) and small business owners but not to a waitress at a diner who doesn’t want to serve a gay couple. Huh? What possible legal principle is at work here to distinguish the two? Rep. Kavanagh claims the “burden” the religious feel when dealing with icky gay people has to be high, which taking pictures of drunk people dancing poorly at a gay wedding is, but refusing to rent a room to that newly married couple isn’t. That’s absurd on its face, because bed and breakfasts don’t allow children under a certain age so it’s not that much of a legal stretch, especially with this law on the books, for them to not rent to homosexual couples.

Of course, the gooey center of logic supporting the bill probably serves its purpose in making life miserable for gay Arizona residents and swell for local attorneys, who homosexuals can have on retainer to look into every discriminatory action they face. What a country!

We are tripping over dead kids from gun violence and that’s not enough for a gun bill. Arizona’s own congressional representative is permanently disabled after being shot in broad daylight in a public place and that’s not enough for a gun bill. But my god, someone might have to photograph two gay men slow dancing. Time to legislate!


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Ted Nugent, the man the GOP still loves to love

Ted Nugent, the man the GOP still loves to love

The GOP’s tepid repudiation of Ted Nugent’s racist statements about Barack Obama continue to fail what they used to refer to on Law and Order as the “laugh test.”

Nugent, in a recent interview with, called Obama, the product of a biracial union, a “subhuman mongrel.” Because these disgusting comments were not about his sexuality and rationalized by his religious beliefs, his Republican friends sort of, kind of rejected them.

“Ted Nugent’s derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize,” the Kentucky Republican tweeted Thursday night.

OK, that’s something. I suppose they’ll sever ties with a race-baiting clod, right?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN he disagreed with Nugent’s language but also didn’t rule out campaigning with him in the future.

“You’ve never heard me say such a thing and nor would I,” Cruz said. “I will note, there are reasons Ted Nugent – people listen to him, which is that he has been fighting passionately for Second Amendment rights.”

I suppose I’m not as encouraged as Sen. Cruz is by the thought of a racist who is a passionate supporter of gun rights.

Look, it’s not like this is a summer action movie and Nugent is the psychotic racist the hero has to recruit anyway because he’s the only one who can (PLOT DEVICE) the (PLOT DEVICE) before the (PLOT DEVICE). This is America. The GOP can surely locate another passionate fighter for the country’s right to self-destruct who isn’t a repugnant racist. Or at least isn’t a known one.

But if you thought Cruz was hard on Nugent, wait till Gov. Rick Perry gets a hold of him.

“That’s pretty tough words,” Perry said. “I wouldn’t have used those words. … I’m not going to get into this side of whether it’s appropriate or not. There are people who say things all the time. I mean, the idea that Ted Nugent said something that’s outrageous shouldn’t surprise anyone, he’s been saying outrageous things for a lot of years.”

Yes, Perry would have found more eloquent ways of impugning Obama’s heritage. And, gee, we already know Nugent is a bigoted jackass, so why are we complaining even if GOP politicians continue to embrace him?

And Perry really can’t take a stand on whether a clearly racist comment is appropriate? In fairness, people say (racist) “things” all the time, and Perry’s a busy man fighting gays and the Liberal War Against Religion.

After some pressure from Wolf Blitzer, Perry conceded that it was wrong to call the president a “mongrel.” Non-elected officials are apparently fair game. And just because a racist endorsed a GOP candidate for governor and will presumably continue his association with him is no reason to do something crazy like vote for the liberal woman.

“A comment by someone who has come in and endorsed him in the campaign I would suggest to you is not what this campaign is going to hinge upon, it’s going to be on Wendy Davis’s very liberal record,” Perry said. “I think this will be a news story or two and then we will get back to being focused on what the people of the state of Texas really care about.”

Texans don’t care about actual racists. It cares about the imaginary things they’ll say about Wendy Davis.

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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Political Theatre


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Michele Bachmann says more dumb things…

Michele Bachmann says more dumb things…

Michele Bachmann discusses Hillary Clinton’s presidential chances.

If Clinton were elected, “effectively she would be Obama’s third and fourth term in office,” Bachmann said, calling Clinton “the godmother of Obamacare.”
But while Obama was “new and different,” Clinton is an old-timer who is less likely to excite voters, she said. Plus, she’s a woman, and she isn’t black, which Bachmann hinted is one of the reasons why people voted for Obama. “I think there was a cachet about having an African-American president because of guilt,” she said. “People don’t hold guilt for a woman.”

So, Bachmann thinks that people (presumably white people) voted for Obama because he’s black. It was guilt that drove them to elect Barack Obama over John McCain, whose vice presidential selection could have only been worse if it were Bachmann herself. This guilt also carried over to 2012.

Also, why do some conservatives have no problem saying, with a straight face, that liberals voted for Obama because of his race but deny that any conservatives voted against him because of his race?

Here’s a free clue for Bachmann: In the history of this country, racism and sexism have always trump any trace of guilt.

I consider Hillary Clinton eminently qualified to serve as president. I understand that many conservatives would disagree. However, if we’re considering her gender, I think it might behoove America to muster some excitement, throw on some pants, and finally arrive to a party attended by England, Germany, Argentina, Switzerland, Ireland, Finland, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Brazil, and South Korea that managed to elect a female head of state.

Of course, knowing America, if it ever did elect a female president, it would act as if it did it first — sort of like the history of rock and roll.


Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Political Theatre


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The perfect burger…

The perfect burger…

My in-box this morning included an email from Zagat listing 15 “splurge-worthy” burgers. It was the usual suspects of conspicuous consumption. I enjoy “prime Wagyu rib-eye,” “short rib,” and “hangar steak,” which is why I don’t want them ground into a burger patty and fried. Also, putting a Maine lobster on top of a burger patty sounds like a great Man Vs. Food challenge but not really my idea of fine dining.

I don’t eat burgers often (I prefer my red meat intake in the form of a steaks and roasts), but when I do, and provided I’m in the right state, I enjoy In-And-Out and Five Guys. I won’t leap into the debate about the superiority of either. I find them distinct enough to make a comparison superfluous. However, what they have in common is simplicity, which is what I believe best serves a hamburger.

During my youth in Greenville, SC, my favorite places for a burger were one of the many Carolina Fine Food/Pete’s/Tic-Toc diners. The menu was always about the same — sometimes the fries were different. Pete’s had a series of identity crises — there was plain-old Pete’s, Original Pete’s, Pete’s Original, and Como’s Pete’s. There was also the more laidback Petee’s Drive-In. Anyway, no matter where you went, the burger came prepared one way, and there wasn’t any brie cheese of pepper jack or Tillamook but American cheese slices. I’m not a patriot but I support American cheese on a Southern burger.

When I was a senior in high school, my burger allegiance shifted to Bee Bee’s Drive-Thru. I regularly consumed the “Rush Limbaugh,” which was a double cheeseburger served with fries, onion rings, and sweet tea. This was Greenville, so I think the name was a tribute to the odious radio personality rather than a dig at his weight. I’ve enjoyed few burgers more. Even now, the special will only run you about $7. And the ketchup doesn’t come in a silver cup. That’s always a sign of trouble.

If you can’t handle Limbaugh even in effigy, and I don’t blame you, they also have great chicken fingers, which might sound like a slam at liberals, but are actually very good fried chicken breast strips.

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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Social Commentary


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Georgia learns from Florida…

Gee, I feel safer all ready.

Georgia’s House of Representatives voted Tuesday to let licensed gun owners carry their weapons in more places, sending the bill to the Senate where changes are likely.

Licensed gun owners would be allowed to carry guns into churches, bars and nonsecure government buildings under legislation approved in the state House on Tuesday. House Bill 875, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, passed 119-56, largely along party lines. It now goes to the Senate.

I’ve always said that guns and alcohol are the chocolate and peanut butter of violent death.

Notice that back in the carefree 1980s, you could bump into a stranger on the street and dip your chocolate into her peanut butter without being shot.

I’m not religious, but a recent documentary makes a compelling case for the spiritual value of arming yourself before attending church.

Also, if it ever snows more than half an inch again, Georgia residents can — if they feel reasonably in fear of their lives — kill the snow in self defense.

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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Social Commentary


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The Wild West…

Well, it’s Tuesday, so it must be another self-defense shooting in America

An Arizona man who shot and killed an unarmed man during a fight in a Walmart store has not been charged after arguing that the shooting was in self-defense, according to police.
Kyle Wayne Quadlin, 25, told Chandler police that he shot Charles Belinte Chee, 36, after their argument at the service counter Sunday turned into a fight he didn’t think he could win.

Unless you’re facing Ivan Drago in the ring after a night of carousing with James Brown, how likely is a “fight you can’t win” going to result in death?

Does a potential bloody nose justify fatally shooting someone?

This also presupposes the deceased started the fight. Apparently, it doesn’t matter who started the fight, just that the shooter felt that he was in fear for his life. In that case, if someone initiates a physical confrontation, what is the average person supposed to do to not wind up dead and have his or her killer walk free? I have the right to defend myself but even if I choose to retreat, what if I don’t have the option? The only reason I’d get into a fight is to defend myself and even then I’m just trying to stop someone from continuing the fight. How can I do that but also persuade him that just because he’s losing, I don’t mean to kill him?

The shooter might claim his life was in danger and he had to kill me, but I tend to question the rationality of people who start fights in public places, who yell at kids about their music choices in a parking lot, or confront someone who is texting in a theater. They’ve already demonstrated that peaceful resolutions to situations are beyond them.

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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Social Commentary


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