Friday, March 31, 2006

So you know.

These are the "everyday" cocktail glasses.

This is the everyday shaker.

As you were.


Posted by Joke at 4:40 PM 19 comments

Unexpected leave

Dear Internet,

Today TFBIM had a client wrap up a LOT earlier than expected, so she decided to take the kids to the County Fair (hardly believable that South Beach and a County Fair could be 20 minutes apart, but there you have it).

This has left me with a free afternoon, and I'm going enjoy some potable action.

The drink is a Limoncello Sour.

1 ounce Absolut Citron vodka
1 ounce Limoncello
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1/2 lemon, freshly juiced
Ice cubes
OPT. Superfine sugar for rimming (oh, shut UP, Badger)
OPT. Twisted peel* of lemon

Put all with dry, cracked ice in a cocktail shaker, and shake as long as your patience will permit. Strain into a stemmed cocktail glass. Repeat as needed.


P.S. The shaker in the picture is my default shaker (which, along with the glasses is part of a Mickey Mouse set I got in WDW. Below is the best one, ever, which is also the one Poppy gave me when I turned 40. It's only fit for use when company arrives.

* I save my peels for making yet more limoncello.

Posted by Joke at 3:56 PM 13 comments

Sometimes Evil Buys A Minivan or "Passive Aggressive Love"

Assiduous readers of this august journal will recall several recent events:

1- That my spring project would yield something of a windfall in revenues,
2- That TFBIM immediately saw the black cloud in this silver lining,
3- That I tormented her natural sense of pessimism by threatening to buy a Ferrari

#3 is clearly an aggressive act; she has a quirk that renders her unable to enjoy good news worry-free and I'm just doing the margarita thing on the paper cut of her soul.

BUT...what if I accomplished the same thing without the veneer of selfishness? What if I bought something for her?
"Look honey, I bought you a new minivan."

-J., loving husband and father

Posted by Joke at 8:57 AM 16 comments

Just for Badge

Here is my default, "everyday" recipe for barbecue sauce:

1 1/2 cups ketchup (I use Heinz organic)
1 1/3 cup cider vinegar (I use TheVinegarLady's, but whatever one has live vinegar cultures--sorry, Gina--will do)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons bacon drippings (from Nueske's applewood smoked--NOT PEPPERED--bacon)
2 teaspoons mustard powder (Colman's)
1/2 cups chipotles in adobo (the ratio of adobo to chipotle I leave to you, 1 chipotle makes it just right for us, but you do whatever)
2 teaspoons ground sea salt
1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed fine
1 teaspoon SMOKED paprika (I like Badia's)

Dissolve the paprika and mustard in the vinegar then, in a saucepan mix all ingredients for sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

There ya go.


Posted by Joke at 8:29 AM 7 comments

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chocolaty goodness

Dear Internet,

I'm ridiculously allergic to chocolate. Still, I like it. I'm not addicted to it (as many people are, using its high phenylethylamine content for antidepressant-like self-medicating purposes) but I like it just fine.

Anyway here is my fave:

Ghirardelli's 56% Semisweet. Not too sweet or gloppy on the tongue like milk chocolate, no add-ins to detract from the fractal texture, nothing but a pure hit of chocolate flavor, with just enough sugar and vanilla to make said hit delicious instead of bitterly painful.

This makes it worthwhile to have to take the anti-histamine.


Posted by Joke at 10:43 PM 4 comments

I don't care and you can't make me.

Over the past few days, the blogosphere has burst forth in a blossoming of food populism.


Be that way.

Brag about microwaved mac 'n' cheez or other convenience foods.

I'm here to stand up for things, to make a principled stand, to draw a line in the, er, organic soil.

But, because I am a free-market libertarian-type, I will try to evangelize via incentives. Therefore, I would like to draw your attention to two things, without which you are all, frankly, living like cavepersons:

The first is gelato from CiaoBella. Mind you, I am perfectly capable of making my own damned gelato but doing so requires some measure of planning, both in terms of time and freezer space-resources, which becomes exponentially trickier when I try to accomodate different flavor preferences.

The main difference between gelato and "regular" ice cream is that gelato is both lower in fat AND amount of air churned in. (What we in the trade call "overrun") Stuff like Breyer's has almost 100% overrun meaning half of what you scoop out is air. In the case of gelato only 20% is air. Gelato is also lower in fat because it's made with whole milk as opposed to cream, so it's about 8% fat vs. 15% or so. This gives it a denser, but less unctuously cloying mouthfeel. YUM. Run out and get a pint.

The second thing is a riff from Badger's most recent post, in which she saw herself in the mirror and reasoning that discussing sagely the matter of risotto might one day lead her to become a Goldwaterite papist, decided to go all un-foodie in her choices of nourishment for her fam. One of the things she posted was a sort of pulled-pork CrockPot(TM) jury-rig that actually seemed like a brilliant concept. Based on my interpretation thereof, the only thing which worried me was the choice of barbecue sauce. So I offer the following choices (fully aware Badger will hate it, because she seems to have some fondness for sweet-and-savory while I regard same as I would a Bernie Sanders presidency):

1- Gates Extra Hot (if you don't mind 0.1% potassium benzoate) or
2- Red Mud (if you want a little sweetness)

I'd post my own barbecue sauce recipe, but it'd run against the spirit of cooking from the pantry.


Posted by Joke at 1:26 PM 10 comments

The end is nigh!


Tax Season is almost over. April 17th, this year. (April 15th falls on a Saturday, so the Infernal Revenue Service allows people two extra days) This means that, after about a week of decompression (i.e., manic gardening and shopping and decorating and daiquiris and lunch-with-her-friends) TFBIM will be The Mom once again and I'll start easing back into the heavy part of my work year.

What does this mean?

Well, fewer recipes, for one thing. More stuff about (sorry) cars and sound system stuff. More cocktails and coffee though. More travel stuff, but less of the "today NTS removed his own spleen and we had to go to the emergency room and they gave him the grape-flavored medicine instead of the orange-flavored medicine so he made a scene."

But you may get more funny stuff about how annoyed TFBIM gets when the other moms tell her "Your husband is soooo funny/smart/wonderful!"

Which leads me to the gist of today's Parenting: Doing It Joke-style post. I'm not saying the way I do things is the best way, no. I am saying it's sometimes the best way and it certainly works for me.

My parenting philosophy is a triangulation of--duh!--three things: Goals, Efficiency, Serenity. The best way to reconcile these is summed up in one word: Expediency*. To me, results count infinitely more than intentions or processes.


1- Learn to pick your fights.
2- ALWAYS follow through on any threats/admonitions/warnings.
3- Don't ask questions such as "NOS, would you like some spinach?" because you might get answers you don't want to hear. When it comes to stuff they like remember "Take what you want, but eat what you take."
4- Don't issue explanations why something must be done. "Why must you pick up this mess? Because I will throw everything into the wood chipper in 15 minutes if you don't." Your average 8 y.o. doesn't care why carrots are good for your eyesight or how hard you worked to straighten up the room. Be fair and shoot once across the bow, but after that, carry through.
5- It's a LOT easier to go from "no" to "yes" than vice-versa. Hoard your "yes." Practice telling your child "You're confusing this with a negotiation."
6- "Eat it or wear it" tends to work a lot better than pleading. Beware the child who can out-wait you.
7- REAL accomplishments (excellent report from school, some particularly charitable act, etc.) merit serious rewards and praise out the yin-yang. It's okay to be amazingly strict about the bad stuff, but be generous about the good stuff.
8- There is nothing better AT ALL, than having a child that likes to flop in bed next to you and read alongside. Work on that.
9- It's OK to put the egg timer on the kids' homework. You finish it on time (i.e. no wandering thoughts or daydreaming) and without mistakes and you get a treat.
10- Come birthday time or Christmas, we gather up toys to donate to the poor kids. "The more room you make by donating toys, the more room Santa has for bringing you gifts this year." The world doesn't revolve around us and our wants, kids...and there are a lot of kids who have less than we do; we have an obligation to help people.

Carrot and stick, people...carrot and stick.


P.S. Let the record show my wife is often aghast at my methods.

* I was giving some parenting advice to one of TFBIM's fellow moms over the phone and when I uttered the word "Expediency" TFBIM chimed in "do-o-o-ot co-o-o-o-o-m!" (like in the Expedia ads)

Posted by Joke at 8:08 AM 7 comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Contest #2 Update #2


Here's the deal. The "other" prize (Murphy's Irish Stout "tulip" pint glass) will be going to the person whose playlist LEAST matches mine.

Thanks to Peg for giving me that idea!


Posted by Joke at 3:41 PM 2 comments

To further annoy my lovely, yet pessimistic wife.

I could buy THIS:

(For the maladjusted, this is a 1977 Ferrari 308GT4. My wife would birth flaming porcupines if I drove up to the house in one of these.)


Posted by Joke at 2:01 PM 5 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006

A mildly-desperate plea for help

Dear Internet,

As JokeFest draws nigh I would like to gather ideas from the aggregate of readers hereat on the subject of Bar Nibbles.

This year's theme for JokeFest will be a very cocktail party-ish sort of thing and, as my longsuffering wife kindly pointed out, my tastes in edibles are not exactly ::cough, cough:: universally shared.




Posted by Joke at 11:08 AM 16 comments

In which I get spanked like a three year old at WalMart

Dear Internet,

Yesterday was the annual SoFla Automotive Concours d' Elegance. Every year prizes are awarded for the best and pretties and best restored/preserved cars. USUALLY (i.e., historically) the categories go by make of car (Ferrari, Porsche, Fiat, etc.) and therefore I always stood a fighting chance of, not winning exactly, but coming away with some trophy. Not this year.

As the event has grown (from 40something to 200something cars) the rules changed and now we were being judged on not by make of car but by nationality of car AND the judging would be done by People's Choice. This means that in the eye of the public, my rare and what-is-it? car would have to slug it out with Ferraris and Maseratis (one Maserati was custom built for the late Peter Revson, the heir to the Revlon fortune) valued in the high six figures.

Hence the title of this post.

I had fun though, as I got to chat with people I only see once a year, and got to see some unusual cars (like a 1960 Daimler 250 "Dart" which looks like an enraged, steroid-abusing catfish) but NOS was upset that we didn't win. I explained it was because we hadn't gotten the electric wax buffer in time, and that comforted him a little.

But I HATE losing.


Posted by Joke at 8:03 AM 2 comments

Contest #2 Update.

I haven't exactly decided what to do with this, but...

I found, as I was rummaging, for stuff to toss in the garbage give away as prizes, this:

So, here are the choices (vote in the combox):

1- Offer it as some sort of bonus, extra-credit thing for the contest winner
2- Make this the 2nd place prize
3- Make it the prize for some sidebar competition (say, the person whose playlist least resembles mine)


This one I didn't swipe. I sent in 6 bottle caps for it my last year of B-School.

As you were.


Posted by Joke at 7:53 AM 2 comments

Sunday, March 26, 2006

In which I die, just a little bit.

Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate my dad's 72nd birthday. My mom suggested we dine at Italian Restaurant X because it's nice enough to attract a crowd of Italian expats but they also do this serious oak-fired brick oven pizza that will go around well among the grandchildren. This restaurant is not "white linen tablecloth" nice, but rather "authentic trattoria" nice. The wine list is a single page, that sort of thing.

So, being a pack of Iberics (except my niece, who is 1/2 Irish) in an Italian restaurant, we order wine. It is a sad testament to the state of my family that one bottle went around to five adults. The sad fact is that my sister, the person to whom I ceded the womb space in which I had floated cheerfully for +/- 9 months, doesn't drink and doesn't like drinking and if she had a full glass of wine would be--and I'm being as serious as a heart attack here--roaring, bed-spins, drunk. So she got a half-glass to be sociable, but that was it.

She also has other issues, like hating pasta.

Meanwhile, my children were happily, greedily decimating a large platter of fried calamari.

See, I realize I'm a foodie weirdo. I got it, OK? Still, it pains me to see people order all kinds of weirdness. I don't blame the restaurant for having all sorts of trendy stuff on the menu which they translate to Italian to palm off as authentic. After all, they have a buck to make. So, I sat, surrounded by children, eating the carpaccio al funghi and the mussels steamed in Cinzano while people wrestled with smoked salmon pasta and sesame-crusted tuna. Oy.

Am I the only person who suffers so?


Posted by Joke at 6:18 AM 7 comments

Friday, March 24, 2006

What's inherited cannot be stolen.

The above is an old Spanish aphorism.

I was thinking about it because elsewhere in the blogosphere, people were a-ruminatin' on the matter of motion sickness while reading in a moving vehicle.

This is something with which I wish I could sympathize. But I canna. My sister could, if she actually bothered to read* because she gets motion sickness quite easily. So does TFBIM--easier in fact, because TFBIM gets motion sickness in a rocking chair or hammock--but she only reads in bed.

The most legendary victim of motion sickness in the family is my dad. When I was 11, my working-75-hours-a-week dad decided to set aside time for Father & Son Things and decided to take me fishing. So we went and rented a boat and he took some Dramamine, which proved insufficient, so he took more and then more, until he passed out and it took 11 year old me 4 hours to get us back to the dock at the boat rental place, plus another hour in the car until my dad had snapped-to sufficiently to drive us home. Funny thing, my dad was the age I am now.

NOS and NTS both have inherited the "good" motion sickness gene.

Some other genes of mine have been passed down upon them, some good some not-so-much.

NOS has my intellectual curiosity. Just last week he was asking me to write down the letters of the Greek alphabet. He often asks me/TFBIM what a certain word or phrase is in Italian/French.
NOS has also inherited the "what are you, STUPID?" gene from me.
NTS has inherited the how-does-this-work-? gene from me, but, alas, also the let-me-zone-out-while-I-figure-out-how-this-works gene.
NOS has inherited the cooking gene, but also the foodie snob gene.
NTS has inherited the affectionate gene, but also the Evil Mr. Mischief gene.
NOS has inherited the reading gene, but also the Interrupt-me-while-I-read-and-die gene.
NTS has inherited the ignore-the-pain gene, but also the Decapitation-?-I'll-just-walk-it-off gene.
NOS has inherited the solo sports gene, but also the team-sports-are-for-cavepesons gene.
NTS has inherited the computer gene, but also the computers-are-like-crack gene.
NOS has inherited the lush gene.

Now, not to snitch on TFBIM, but NOS inherited her "why?" gene. If I ask TFBIM to do X, instead of accepting what I suggest on faith, she reflexively asks "Why?" and it gives me no end of pleasure to see NOS driving her mental by behaving exactly the same way. Much like NOS also inherited her inability to keep quiet about any physical discomfort**.

Why...yes, I'm a twisted SOB. Why do you ask?


* She hasn't read a book with pages and a cover since graduate school. In fact, the only books she has "read" are the Harry Potter audiobooks. 6 audiobooks in 17 years. That's it, AFAIK.
** When I feel particularly obnoxious I treat TFBIM to my rendition of the best line from Raising Arizona: "Sometimes I get the meanstrual cramps real hard."

Posted by Joke at 1:08 PM 6 comments

Thursday, March 23, 2006


How many of you have tried to leave a comment on any blogger blog, only to get stuck with "smenita" as a WVW which doesn't work?

Yeah, me too.


Posted by Joke at 4:12 PM 5 comments

You can't always get what you want.

This beauty's on eBay and it's one of those loathsome "live" auctions. It also has an absolutely, unbelievably ridiculous opening bid, to say nothing of the "estimate" on top of the "buyer's premium" you'll get socked with.



Posted by Joke at 8:56 AM 0 comments

How To Worry Your Spouse

As we discussed last session, TFBIM is someone who cannot face good news without a barrage of pessimistic questions and much handwringing. I told her that my reaction to same would be to buy something stupidly extravagant like, say, a Ferrari.

So, because I'm quite frankly a terrible, terrible man, with a questionable sense of humor, I am leaving pictures on my screen like this:

and this:
open on my desktop.

(For those of you scoring at home, this is a 1967 Dino Spyder. It is looked upon with some disfavor in rarefied Ferrari circles because it was assembled by Fiat and it has a back seat; therefore it is actually quite a steal and only looks like it could drain both college funds in one gulp. That'll be our little secret, m'kay?)

Yes, I know.


Posted by Joke at 7:39 AM 0 comments

Do try to not drink it straight from the bottle

Dear Internet,

At my local Foodie Hut Emporium (the one popular among hip urban 30somethings in Bentleys with Stalinist bumperstickers, not the one frequented by aging Stalinists with VW microbuses papered over in Stalinist bumperstickers) they had this small sampler section of "infused maple syrups" from a place called Moosewood Hollow. They had a nice young lady with a lab coat handing out paper thimbles with the various flavors: Sweet Chai, Sweet Savory, Sweet Lavender, Sweet Heat and Sweet Ginger.

Most of these, frankly, sucked. The Sweet Ginger, though, I could see using in Asian-inspired desserts.


They have this one called Sweet Autumn.


It's essentially Maple Syrup gone to finishing school. Basically, it's infused with the aromatics that go into the things upon which you put maple syrup anyway. Primarily stuff like vanilla and cinnamon. So, you score a double hit (and amazing depth of flavor) out of your pancakes, french toast and/or waffles.

It's pretty pricy, so it shan't replace my Vermont Sugarworks Grade B, but for something more frou-frou or perhaps a bit more innovative, brunchwise, it's the ticket. Go try it!


Posted by Joke at 6:17 AM 9 comments

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

All the cool kids are doing it

Badger and Sarah Louise did it, so here goes...

(I have a serious gripe with my "Earthy" and "Empathy" scores, but whatever...)

My Personal Dna Report

Posted by Joke at 9:01 PM 7 comments

The Girl I Married

Dear Internet,

Let the record show I am thoroughly in love with my wife.

This, however, doesn't mean she's incapable of driving me nuts. She doesn't have One Massive Flaw. She has several little ones. (Which, to tell the truth, is only fair, as I have plenty.)

One of these is an uncanny ability to spot the cloud in every silver lining.

Example, you ask? Sure!

I got a call yesterday from one of my best clients to the effect that in May (i.e., after the end of Tax Season) the project I'd start up would end up being a good deal larger than anticipated. Not more work, mind you...but it'd be a bigger deal. This is a very good thing.

So, I innocently decide to share the news with my lovely and gracious wife. She congratulated me on the good news...then she paused...and uttered:

1- The taxes are going to be terrible on this.
2- We won't be able to do anything with this because we need a new roof, one (possibly two) new bathrooms and a new kitchen.
3- The boys will grow up as spoiled, snotty little rich be played by James Spader in the John Hughes film.

I told her to cease and desist with the negativity or I'll buy a Ferrari.


Posted by Joke at 1:13 PM 14 comments

Sneak Preview of Contest #3 and Kudos

Dear Internet,

After Contest #2, until further notice, prizes will be given out for Comment of the Month, an idea which I got from the clever and witty Gina.

As you were,


Posted by Joke at 5:36 AM 7 comments

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

You like me! You REALLY like me!

Dear Internet,

I am not one of those instrospective, enuretic navel-gazers who worries unduly about whether "they will like me."

However, that's not 100% true. I just spent this last week worrying this worry. Why? I'll tel you why. Because since I got the car which does not suck and the Very Red car turned twenty, I had to get Collector Car insurance for it. This is because if something--God forbid--should happen to it, my regular car insurance would pay a mere fraction of what the car would cost to replace. To A Big Regular Insurance Company, Inc., a car is a car is a car and it gets driven to work and school and grocery stores. So, without getting into the gyrations thereof, I'd be paying $X for the privilege of getting scrod at crunch time.

So, I head over to look at the various Collector Car insurance websites, and they all have a nice sections where you can get automatic quotes and, if you like what you get, apply. But the application thing is closer to college applications than to the form you get for a P.O. Box. Definitely VERY different from the regular insurance stuff. I had to explain how many miles I'd be driving the car, how many of those miles would be for what purpose, where the car is kept (they require a lockable concrete/cinderblock garage), what's so bloody special about this car, a certified appraisal (which was an ordeal in and of itself, like if your prospective wife took you to the doctor and accountant before accepting your engagement ring), to what auto clubs you belong, and so forth.

Anyway, yesterday we had this...I'll call it "inspection." (To see that the car really exists, and so did the garage, that we had other "eveyday" cars, etc.) Nerve wracking. But we passed!

Now I get to pay LESS THAN HALF of what I paid in "regular" insurance, my car is insured for the value I set on it, I have no deductible and fully ridiculous coverage for everything. Did I say I am now paying less than half with better coverage? Because, if'n you didn't hear, I am now paying less than half with better coverage.

Just today I got the "We at XYZ are pleased to accept you...." letter, which looks like an Inaugural Ball invitation.


P.S. They even have this totally gloss-o-rama car magazine. I feel like Wallis Warfield Simpson.

Posted by Joke at 1:28 PM 4 comments

Sunday, March 19, 2006

While we're at it.

I'm getting a new seersucker suit made. Memorial Day is pretty much here, and my old Alan Flusser number is showing its age (in fact, a post to a certain usenet group regarding same was the genesis of Poppy and I me becoming pals).

I figured since it's Confession Sunday, the day in which we commiserate/sneer at each other's quirks, likes, proclivities and preferences, I might get this in before the curtain goes down.

As you were.


Posted by Joke at 9:43 PM 9 comments

Confession Sunday

I have to work hard to not think of men who don't wear pocket squares as utter rubes. I often wonder if these pocket squareless men think I'm heterophobic.

I am secretly pleased NOS is turning into a food snob.

I think Ann Coulter is hilarious.

People who go to restaurants and stare at the menu and start in with "I don't know what to get...what should I get? What are you getting?" drive me mental. Lucky me I married one. (They invariably choose something they dislike.)

People who wander through life looking for things to boycott drive me mental.

People who are stressed and depressed AND WANT ME TO JOIN IN real-l-l-l-l-l-ly drive me mental.

OK, show's over, move along, nothing to see here.


Posted by Joke at 9:44 AM 18 comments

Contest #2 Rules and $#!+

Dear Internet,

I'm getting all set to start Contest #2, the grand prize being the His & Hers Guinness Pub Glassware Set which I liberated from an actual pub. Shipping's on me anywhere in the world.

Seeing as how in my youth (Father William replied to his son) most of my Guinness consumption took place amid much loud music and so forth, this contest relates to your MP3 or iPod list.

Write down a list of songs (title & artists, s.v.p.) of, say, a minimum of 20 songs on YOUR list (this is the honor system, so don't make up stuff not actually on your list) and whoever has the most songs in common with my playlist wins. The longer your list, the better your chances. Do not list AUDIO BOOKS. Lurkers get extra credit depending on their lurkitude so far.

Contest ends April 15, 2006.

Void where prohibited, contest winners are responsible for all taxes, licenses, duties, customs charges, processing fees, court costs, legal expenses and providing the Guinness stout for the glasses.

Off you go!


Posted by Joke at 8:59 AM 10 comments

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Check your answers

What is the best brand of products to preserve leather?
My alcohoroscope shows me to be what sign?
What do I like to drink in those teeny tiny Petrossian glasses and what do I enjoy eating as an accompaniment?
Collins hackleback sturgeon caviar & a Czech pilsner beer
What's my Myers-Briggs personality type?
INTJ-The Mastermind
What do I use to clean the burners of the porn grill?
Griot's Garage brand stainless steel cleaner
How long did I actually have (in the physical sense) the car that sucked?
3 months, give or take
What Rat Packer am I?
What, in my opinion, is the worst part of living in SoFla?
The appalling lack of vintage bookstores.
Who is the artist being honored (in absentia) at JokeFest2006?
Josh Agle, a/k/a "SHAG"
How many "tuxedo-able" bow ties do I own?
What is my most heretical recipe?
Mashed potatoes
What is the title of the first book I recommended on this blog?
The Genius In The Design
Do I consider myself a metrosexual and why or why not?
No, because I don't care avout eye serum
How many turkeys did I grill for Thanksgiving 2005?
What did I spend 1/1/05 doing?
Downloading forgotten songs and reveling in the musical past
What scary thing did my 8 year old ask Santa for?
A black hoe
What's wrong with MOST organic milk these days?
It doesn't taste any better than regular milk because they are ULTRA pasteurized, the bastids.
What airline couldn't get us from "here to there"
American Airlines
What do I call the day in which Poppy and self became pals?
You celebrate your Drivelversary, 4/11/98 (It lands between JokeFest and the day TFBIM ends her tax season, which is why I remember it)
What is my medical directive to my wife/children?
Keep me alive, unless I'm in pain or peeing on myself.
What holiday was the subject of a LONG and hilarious blog entry that, sadly, Blogger ate?
How did I describe the ::cough, cough:: Cupid garden statue TFBIM got? (BONUS! What happened to that statue?)
Billy Barty wearing a wig and a loincloth. (I killed it with a golf club and blamed it on Hurrican Wilma)
Which relative vexes me telephonically the most?
How many times has an Italian car left me stranded?
1 (dead battery)
What did I consider (at the time) to be better than sex?
The first hot shower in a week.

Now you know!


Posted by Joke at 11:09 PM 8 comments

Dark Horse wins!

Dear Internet,

The winner of the Braun Multipractic stick blender with the wall mount, chopper thingy and beaker is...



Took me totally by surprise, I must say. But she did it.



P.S. The cookbook goes to TheBookishOne, who eked out a win in tough, tough contest for 2nd place on the strength of her lurker points.

Posted by Joke at 12:34 AM 6 comments

Friday, March 17, 2006

Contest Update #2


It's March 17th. Hurry the Hell up, people. Someone's going to win the Braun Multipractic stick blender with the wall mount and chopper thingy. Someone else will win the cookbook. Get your answers in ASAP.

Now, for contest #2.

In honor of both St. Patrick AND the fact I had a most excellent beer (see previous post), I am giving away a his & her Guinness glassware set, consisting of a pint and halfpint Official Guinness Glass. Kindly note these are NOT the kind you can buy in stores or online. These are for-real pub issue glasses which cannot be bought. In a fit of Guinness-fueled revelry about 15 years ago, I swiped (in a semi-coherent burst of indignant pique) them from the Rose & Crown Pub in EPCOT when I discovered the ones for sale were not the same kind they used in the pub.

(It is up to you to determine which is his and which is hers)

Quiz will be up Monday. It won't be quite the PITA this last one was. Lurkers get extra credit.


P.S. Beer not included.

Posted by Joke at 2:47 PM 8 comments

Beer me, dude.

Dear Internet,

Every once in a while, you make a discovery. While some of these discoveries are not earth-shattering, they do change--permanently, totally, completely, irreversibly--the way you do something.

This beer, Samuel Adams Black Lager, is one such thing. By itself it's a pretty decent quaff. It looks like something in the Guinness stout family, but it actually has a less heavy, far crisper flavor profile. What makes this beer stand out in my mind is the uncanny friendliness it has for Asian and Asian-inspired foods, especially (but not limited to) Japanese food.

Anything that resides in the soy sauce/sesame/ginger triangle will be gloriously complemented by this beer. For lunch I went out with a couple of other SAHPs and since we're all active papists and in Lenten Fish Mode, we opted for Japanese. (This particular restaurant is neat because it has different counters for soba, tempura, teppanyaki, sushi, all filled with For Real Japanese Persons eating thereat, while us clueless American types sit in the central dining room and mix and match with culturally insensitive abandon. The fact this restaurant merits the custom of For Real Japanese Persons is a very good sign.)

Anyway, I ordered the vegetable hosomaki, squid tempura, shrimp ebi kushi and sesame seared tuna and this beer made out in the back seat with all the edibles. This beer was to the food what a Barry White song is to the prom goers of 1977.

Trust me.


Photos from beerpal. com and beeradvocate. com

Posted by Joke at 2:29 PM 1 comments

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Problems and solutions.

Dig the tan line. In real life it's even worse, but the flash washed out the contrast of the thing. This is after ONE MONTH of driving around in a convertible.

This is the convertible.This is winter in Paradise. Count the clouds.More clouds for you to count. (Notice the sharp detail of the shadows.)The solution! I really recommend this to everyone out there. It doesn't block my pores so I don't look like a 15 year old (I wanna look youthful, but that'd be ridiculous) and it keeps me from looking like ancient crocodile luggage to say nothing of minimizing my chances for getting somethingnoma and having to get things zapped off my face.

It even smells all citrusy, which is nice.


Posted by Joke at 3:24 PM 13 comments

S&T weirdness

[insert Twilight Zone or Outer Limits theme here]

SL has the same i-freakin'-dentical butter dish we do.


And this is what I keep therein.


Posted by Joke at 12:28 PM 4 comments

Confession Is Good For The Soul

Where to begin?

  • I regularly throw out crap junk food my wife buys.
  • I have VERY low opinions of people's views when they differ from mine. Not of the people themselves, usually, but of their opinions. ("X only eats orange food? Wow, you could never tell X was such an imbecile from just looking...")
  • I have a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY sick, twisted sense of humor. As in Badger-would-be-appalled twisted.
  • I cuss like a mufuh. I try not to because, y'know...girls read this. Even if they have expansive vocabularies themselves, there are some things you learned from that stern nun wa-a-a-a-ay back when that you can never shake.
  • Almost everything displeases me, to one degree or another.
  • I think sports cars with automatic transmissions are for people who are wheelchair bound or nancy-boys.
  • I sneer at people who read books where the name of the author is in larger and glittery-er type than the title.
  • People who cannot control their temper piss me off. (I.e., Anger is OK, rage is not.)
  • I secretly want to call 95% of the people in this world "dumbass"
  • My obsessions (coffee, food, wine, sports cars, watches, fountain pens, menswear, travel, golf, etc.) are fine, everyone else's (D&D, country music, hiphop music, rennaissance faires, reenacting, etc.) are disturbing.
  • I use caller ID ruthlessly. There are only 3 people who can get me to answer the phone.
  • I don't open the door, as I hate soliciting. It is for their own protection I do not join Jehova's Witnesses in conversation, since being kept from their appointed rounds by an hour long apologetics --extra Latin, s.v.p.-- lesson is likely to get them demerits or whatever.
  • I think people who like white zinfandel are at best, savages. At worst, one gene away from monkey.
  • "I heard you the first time."
  • You stand the greatest chance of being murdered by me if you interrupt me while engrossed in reading. Interrupting me 4-5 times in a short span of time is clearly a death wish.
  • I'm all about conditioned-responses in child-rearing. Not so much that I build a Skinner Box, but close.
  • Corn syrup is really Satanic Cult Juice. Corn deserves a better fate than that.
  • The more bumper stickers your car has, the stupider I consider you to be. If some of the stickers actually cover ANY glass I'm sure that what you got on the SAT was drool.
  • I am mystified by people who can't spell.
  • I used to only date girls whose parents were divorced and met other criteria (of which I am rather ashamed now) which CLEARLY established me as a romantic Macchiavellian. I was even a skilled enough jerk that I secretly engineered breakups AND had them saying Ye Olde "It's Not You...It's Me" thing.
  • I used to confuse "duodecimal" with "Dewey Decimal"
  • People who are dull conversationalists are not friend material for me.
  • I believe women will never achieve equality in the professional world until they renounce artificial fibers.
  • I stop listening to arguments at the word "hegemony"
  • I honestly, for-real, firmly believe I am the single most intelligent person I know. (I'm sure there are people toiling anonymously deciphering secret terrorist code messages, or working on cold fusion, or curing cancer who are more intelligent than I am. I just haven't met them yet.) I have, however, met 2 people who re pretty close. TFBIM says it's like being Chumley the Walrus next to Phineas J. Whoopee and that magic blackboard.

There, now you know. What's my penance?


Posted by Joke at 9:08 AM 11 comments

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Great Big Post of Why

So you may be wondering why I like making Onion Dip from scratch but not necessarily potato chips from scratch. Fair question.

I suffer from being a foodie. (One day we'll have our own telethon...oh, wait, we do. It's called the Food Network.) Whenever I taste anything, I generally look for that item's "weak link" on my palate. Too salty? Vegetal off-tastes? Inappropriately sour (or sweet) levels? Then I proceed along two tacks:

1- How can I make this INFINITELY better? and
2- Has someone already done this?

A great example is ketchup. My default as a kid was Heinz's except I always found it too sweet and around age 27 or so, I actually started making my own, because, frankly, I don't do corn syrup and Heinz's is screaming with it. Then one day, Heinz started making an organic ketchup that had, not commodity-quality corn syrup, but cane sugar. Cane sugar, being the subject of protectionism (don't get me started) is a lot more expensive and therefore they use less of it and therefore the ketchup isn't nearly as sweet and I am happy as a pig in effluvia and so is my long suffering wife because I no longer need to make ketchup. So that was good right there.

Same thing, sorta, with potato chips ("crisps" for the rest of the Anglosphere). When it comes to plain potato chips, the elite members of the very uppermost echelons of the snack food industry have finally decided to relieve me of the onerous task of making my own. In fact, ANYTHING deep fried is wildly onerous and bordering on dangerous...because who likes having a gallon of some flammable lipid at 375F (200C) with two boys running around? Never mind the vaporized peanut oil molecules that go into some frenzied aerosolized diaspora only to resettle in the least convenient places.

So when Cape Cod Chips actually produced a chip that actually tasted of potato (Shock, gasp, stunned silence), I was ripe for the fall. When I was a boy I fried potatoes and when I became a man I put aside potato chip frying things.

"Ah," I hear the Macchiavellians in the crowd say "but what about flavored chips."

Joke's got you covered, dude!

Here, just because you meant to ask (never mind that you didn't) are the rest of my chip favorites (Only the plain Russet chips from CCC merit my onion dip, though) :

Solea Olive Oil Rosemary Potato Chips (how they got the big crystals of sea salt to adhere, I have no idea)
Terra Chips Taro w. Red Pepper
Terra Chips Yukon Gold Onion & Garlic
Zapp’s Potato Chips, Spicy Cajun

Now, if I feel really insane I'll fry some chips so I can give them some sort of unusual flavorings (jerk, curry, etc.)

Now you know,


Posted by Joke at 9:19 AM 9 comments

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Snacking like a pedant

Dear Internet,

If you are consuming the supreme achievement in Onion Dip, you must do so with a potato chip of merit and worth. Such as...


"This is a unique potato chip made with real Russet potatoes. The chips inside this bag cook darker than other potato chips, but don’t worry --- they’re not burnt. Russet potatoes, unlike white potatoes, contain higher amounts of sugar and when cooked carefully will produce a darker, more robust chip that maintains the integrity of the potato."

You're welcome.


Posted by Joke at 5:28 PM 12 comments

Monday, March 13, 2006

Pedantic Onion Dip

I was rummaging all over the blogosphere when I came upon a French Onion Dip discussion. It is a well known fact I am constitutionally unable to make anything which involves opening an envelope and pouring out mostly sodium and desiccated bits. So, to benefit humanity here is my recipe:

For Real Onion Dip From Scratch

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups FINELY diced onions
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups sour half-and-half (NOT nonfat sour cream or any fake sour cream with weirdo a pinch use sour cream, but you may have to add a bit more yogurt because with straight sour cream I find it too dense)
3/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt (NOT nonfat)
1 TEENY clove of garlic, minced, diced and otherwise turned into a pulp
1/4 teaspoon (FINELY!) ground white pepper (optional, use black if that's all you have)
2 cups for-real beef stock
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional, depending on your stock)

1) Mix the sour half-and-half and the yogurt well, and leave out at room temperature for a few hours, ideally overnight. It will bubble and thicken and NO IT WILL NOT KILL YOU.

2) In a medium saucepan, simmer the beef stock until reduced to a syrup (I like it thicker than maple syrup, thinner than honey, but you? You do whatever.) and then let cool to room temperature completely.

3) In a sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter and add onions and the first salt. Stir and cook the onions until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. DO NOT LET THEM BURN. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

4) Mix everything and refrigerate and stir again before serving. Taste for seasoning and add the 2nd salt and/or the pepper if needed.

You're welcome.


P.S. Don't get me started on frying my own potato chips.

Posted by Joke at 2:44 PM 15 comments

Required Reading

Here is my premise (you may have whatever premise you want...yes, this means you Gina!):

Assume you are majoring in "Joke," this would be the required reading:

Freshman Year

Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
A Treatise Into The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
The Federalist Papers by James Madison
Harry Potter 1-6 by JK Rowling
Balsamic Dreams by Joe Queenan
Wodehouse is crucial to understanding my self-view, whereas the Smith/Madison thing is crucial to understanding my worldview. Harry Potter is just cool; and coolness is crucial to understanding me.

Sophomore Year
Westward, HA! by SJ Perelman
The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
The White House Mess by Christopher Buckley
Joy In The Morning by PG Wodehouse
Alice, Let's Eat by Calvin Trillin
If You're Talking To Me, Your Career Must Be In Trouble by Joe Queenan
SJ Perelman is crucial to understanding how I view others and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is, in my estimation, the best reading anyone can do to achieve proficiency as a reader. It's like a workout for your reading muscle. Calvin Trillin (even though he has written for the verrrry odious The Nation) is my favorite food writer, and this book informs my outlook on all things yummy. Christopher Buckey slaughters sacred cows. Joe Queenan treats the sacred cows like factory-farmed veal and then eats 'em black-n-blue.

Junior Year
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes

Tom Wolfe informs the way I look at achievment and thought and unintended consequences. Lewis Carroll fuels my love for the absurd, while Bulfinch's is practically a classical education in and of itself. Cervantes is key...but it really does lose SO MUCH in translation. Starting with teh letter "J."

Senior Year
Night of the Avenging Blowfish by John Welter
Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek
Beard on Cookery by James Beard
John Welter is the funniest American novelist in memory.

Master's Level
Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton
The Ignatius Bible
The Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan by Isaac Azimov
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
The Wild West by Lucious Beebe
Gilbert & Sullivan are crucial, because so many of my sensibilities intersect thereat. Lucius Beebe also chronicled a certain bygone time, and this was his magnum opus. The Chesterton needs no introduction, save to explain how I began to fossilize so young.

Doctoral Level
From Bauhaus To Our House by Tom Wolfe
The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving
The Liar by Stephen Fry
Continuing Education
Anything by PG Wodehouse, Christopher Buckley, SJ Perelman, Arthur Conan Doyle and Joe Queenan.

A few of these books are rather ponderous reading, but they are nonetheless important to getting your degree in Joke. A great hunk of them are hilarious.


P.S. Jujube reminded me I neglected Douglas Adams and the 6-part Hitchhiker's trilogy

Posted by Joke at 8:33 AM 8 comments

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Someone please talk some sense into me...

I am so espresso obsessed I am seriously thinking looking into roasting my own coffee beans.

Yes, I know.


Posted by Joke at 5:37 PM 15 comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Just back in from the gym.

I've dropped almost 13 lb. My original target was to drop 15lb, but now let me try for dropping 20lb., see what that does.


Posted by Joke at 4:20 PM 11 comments

This week's S&T

The subject ("eyes") frankly struck me a somewhere between unusual and kinda creepy...but I feel guilty that I haven't had the presence of mind to have the camera wire thingy on S&T day for the longest time, and thus, I felt guilty. So here it is.


Yes, I know I look like a low-rent Svengali. But this is the only picture without flash glare on the lenses of my eyeglasses and for those who have known me since age 8, I am ALWAYS wearing glasses. (I have 4 pair in active rotation, and 3 pair Rx of sunglasses also in active rotation)


Posted by Joke at 8:51 AM 8 comments


Dear Internet,

I was perusing BabBab & Gina's blog when the idea popped into my melon.

On Monday, March 13* I will publish a list and I'd like as many of you to play along with your own list. In deference to the number of librarians and English majors and J-school refugees who inhabit the Jokesphere the first list will be entitled:


Any number of books between 3 (i.e., The Minimum) and 100 (i.e. The Maximum) will be listed along with a brief explanation of why it is required reading. Photos welcomed and you may even use whatever "affiliate" link things you have. (I'm all about the Capitalism) I was going to suggest posting a syllabus for people new to the blog but even as bored as I am, I wouldn't get past the first line.

OK, off you go.


P.S. Yes, it is a rather DULL day, but tomorrow NTS has a field trip and parents-who-aren't-working-tax-season get to go.

* Today is S&T, Friday has some sort of participatory moratorium because of something to do with Survivor, the weekend is not a time to be THINKING, y' that leaves us Monday.

Posted by Joke at 8:29 AM 10 comments

Contest contest!


I have decided to have a sorta-monthly contest.

Please suggest some likely prizes. (Kitchen stuff is likeliest, as well as some DVDs and/or CDs).

That is all.


Posted by Joke at 8:26 AM 3 comments

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Well, this is how I cope with boredom.

I am embarrassed how cool I think this is.


Posted by Joke at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Contest Update

For some reason, the cookbook contest is drawing a bigger crowd than the Braun Multipractic immersion blender, with beaker, chopper thingy and wall mount. In fact, some bona fide lurkers have swallowed their collective pride and joined in.


Some of the regulars, in an attempt to be funny, have accidentally answered some questions correctly. Purely by chance, but these things happen. Still, there are 9 days to go...

I am thinking of having a contest every month or so, the better to divest myself of stuff.


P.S. I realize some contestants may be from Distant Lands where their electrical systems may be incompatible with the Braun Multipractic immersion blender, with beaker, chopper thingy and wall mount, which may explain the desire for the cookbook. Maybe Julia Della Croce cuts a better figure than Braun. [shrug]

Posted by Joke at 10:30 AM 6 comments

Monday, March 06, 2006

Consolation Prize

In an effort to goose things up AND clear my shelves of duplicate titles, etc., I hereby announce the consolation prize (for the person who makes up the best answers to the questions on the quiz (see previous post).

This is a duplicate of one of my favorite cookbooks: Italy by Julia Della Croce. The recipes are all fresh, authentically Italian (as opposed to Italian-American which is a somewhat different thing) cookbook, filled with lots of regional favorites, lighter and fresher recipes and will prove the sort of thing that will have you sprinting for the nearest farmers market.

The author is a former contributor to Cook's Illustrated, thereby earning my instant respect and admiration. I can vouch for systematically making every recipe in this book.

Because I am a Hell of a guy, I'll send you the version which I have studiously never splattered with EVOO, tomato juice or balsamic vinegar. Shipping's on me, too.

So, have at it.

Your pal,


Posted by Joke at 1:43 PM 8 comments

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Contest!

Dear Internet,

I bet you want a shiny, (for all intents & purposes) brand-new, Braun Multipractic immersion blender with the wall mount, chopper thingy, and beaker, don't you?

Well, here's your chance.

Enter this contest and, duh, win it. Before we proceed, here are the rules:

Post in the comments section you are participating.
Post the answers in YOUR blog. (Don't post them in the combox, thou shalt be disqualified.)

The person with the most right answers wins, in case of a tie, the lurker-iest person (this being meant to turn lurkers into commenters).

To business:
  1. What is the best brand of products to preserve leather?
  2. My alcohoroscope shows me to be what sign?
  3. What do I like to drink in those teeny tiny Petrossian glasses and what do I enjoy eating as an accompaniment?
  4. What's my Myers-Briggs personality type?
  5. What do I use to clean the burners of the porn grill?
  6. How long did I actually have (in the physical sense) the car that sucked?
  7. What Rat Packer am I?
  8. What, in my opinion, is the worst part of living in SoFla?
  9. Who is the artist being honored (in absentia) at JokeFest2006?
  10. How many "tuxedo-able" bow ties do I own?
  11. What is my most heretical recipe?
  12. What is the title of the first book I recommended on this blog?
  13. Do I consider myself a metrosexual and why or why not?
  14. How many turkeys did I grill for Thanksgiving 2005?
  15. What did I spend 1/1/05 doing?
  16. What scary thing did my 8 year old ask Santa for?
  17. What's wrong with MOST organic milk these days?
  18. What airline couldn't get us from "here to there"
  19. What do I call the day in which Poppy and self became pals?
  20. What is my medical directive to my wife/children?
  21. What holiday was the subject of a LONG and hilarious blog entry that, sadly, Blogger ate?
  22. How did I describe the ::cough, cough:: Cupid garden statue TFBIM got? (BONUS! What happened to that statue?)
  23. Which relative vexes me telephonically the most?
  24. How many times has an Italian car left me stranded?
  25. What did I consider (at the time) to be better than sex?
That's it!

On your mark, get set...go!


Posted by Joke at 10:32 AM 17 comments

Waiting for Godot

Yo, Badge!

Let me know when you are coherent, so's I can post the Joke Blog Quiz Contest.


Posted by Joke at 7:50 AM 3 comments

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Recipe-free blog entry

It's Ash Wednesday.

I decanted NOS at school and then I underwent the process of getting all ashed up and ready for Lent. I had a mug of weak green tea in lieu of breakfast, since (duh!) the fast ought not be broken yet.

Poppy was explaining how her people deal with Shrove Tuesday/Lent and how pancakes entered into the equation. My tribe, however, says buh-bye to Ordinary Time by consuming lots of cured pork products. (Poppy's adamant denials notwithstanding, we all know that Shrove, Shriven, etc., all REALLY are corruptions of charcuterie, as brought by the Norman conquest...but never mind.)

So we had all manner of sausage and prosciutto--which I am craving madly, BTW--and bacon and roast pork loin. Very yummy.

That is all.


Posted by Joke at 9:45 AM 6 comments