Monday, December 21, 2009

Jeopardy Stories

Do you know that I hate Alex Trebek? I really, really hate him. And I don't think I can say I hate a single other person in the whole wide world. Alex Trebek though...that guy really gets my goat. I mean, look at this guy...

He's such an ass! He always pronounces everything with an exaggerated accent, and he's such a know-it-all, which is pretty much my biggest pet peeve ever. He takes up so much time sharing his stupid little facts that nobody asked him to include, and he wastes all this time so that they don't even get to reveal all the questions! And he's so condescending, and totally sexist. Have you ever noticed that he has lower expectations from women than he does from men? Oftentimes, if a woman answers a question correctly, he responds with a surprised "Good for you!" Ugh, he's such an ass. Other people agree.

But I love Jeopardy. I absolutely adore watching Jeopardy. And sometimes I do pretty well! Sure, there are a few categories in which I totally suck, like Presidents, Economics, and, uh, anything having to do with history. Whoops a daisy! But man, give me State Capitols, Classical Music (any music-related category, really), Geography, or any of those Before and After or wordplay categories, and I'm grand. There was a category once called something like chemical spelling, and each answer was a word spelled using only chemical symbols. For example, the clue would read something like "radiant light around one's head" and the answer would be "Aura," Au being the symbol for Gold, and Ra being the symbol for Radium. I think I got every one right! And to think I got a C- in high school chemistry. Where did this brilliance even come from?!

I really do love Jeopardy and watch it whenever I can. But the inevitable painfully awkward interview section makes me either mute the television or change the channel every time. Those stories are so boring! Or nerdy! And Alex makes it even worse with his dumbass know-it-all contributions. That jerk...ugh, sorry, I tend to get off topic when I'm reminded of that fool. Anyhow, the stories, man. It amazes me that people can't come up with more interesting things. I pointed this out to my mother when we were watching Jeopardy together a couple of weeks ago, to which she replied "Well what would yours be?" I'm proud to say that I was ready with three stories at the time, but I thought I should come up with a couple more to make it five. This, of course, came from the old rules of Jeopardy that stated that you could only win five days in a row before having to be done. So I got to thinking, and came up with My Five Jeopardy Stories!

Story #1 I once won a toilet through a contest on facebook. American Standard was sponsoring a contest on facebook in which the writer of the "best toilet story" would win a toilet. I wrote about the time I dropped my phone in the toilet, and I came in second place out of everybody who entered the contest. I won a toilet worth between $710 - $1028 and I gave it to my sister for her birthday. Unfortunately, she has not yet received the toilet! What the eff, American Standard? What's going on here?? To be updated with positive results, hopefully...

Story #2 When I was nineteen, I got my front tooth knocked out by a hair pick. I was doing a headstand in a big lounge chair when my friend Straight Edge Rob threw the comb across the room at me. It flew through the air in a lovely arc and hit me square in the left front tooth. My tooth broke in half and I swallowed the loose piece. Later, I'd get several temporary fake teeth, and now I have a more permanent cap which is slightly longer than the rest of my teeth. There is a picture of me and my broken tooth somewhere, but I probably won't post it. Not because of the ugly tooth, though! Because I know my sister will make fun of how my eyebrows look like caterpillars. It was before I discovered the "joys" of waxing...

Story #3 Once I ate an entire Awesome Blossom from Chili's. My cousin Laith made a bet with me when we were at a wedding in London; drinks may have been involved. The bet required me to eat the entire thing, all parts included, but I could pick my own sauce and drink anything I wanted. I skipped the "zesty" sauce that came with and traded it in for ranch, and drank only water. I went in with tons of confidence and cockiness, but, in the end, I barely finished. I clearly remember the point at which there were just greasy fried pieces lining the bottom of the bowl and Laith leaned over to comment on the "grizzle" that was left. It was at this point that I nearly barfed. I finished, however, and left Chili's having won the bet, $17 (pooled together from the other dinner guests), a free meal, the hopefully unending respect of my cousin and the rest of my family who attended the event, and three days worth of indigestion. Here's what an Awesome Blossom looks like:
See the zesty sauce that I didn't eat? That was the only good choice I made that night.

Story #4 I once did a synchronized swimming routine with my friend Lia. We performed in a lake to the song "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner. Do you know this song? Check it:

We practiced for weeks and kept the performance a secret from all our friends. We bought matching bathing suits - they were pink with black polka dots - and prepared a picnic for our audience. The routine had underwater handstands and swimming in the shape of a giant heart, and even a couple of Dead Man's Floats! I wish so hard that there was documentation of this, but there is not. Saddest news ever.

Story #5 A few months ago, I appeared as an extra in a film about mustard. My friend Jess was learning how to make movies, and the group she was working with was filming a movie in Madison that will hopefully run someday at the National Mustard Museum here in Wisconsin. The movie is about a crappy baseball team (the Madison Mallards) who just can't win, and a hot dog vendor who makes a magical mustard that makes the baseball players hit home runs. I think the movie is call Hits, but I'm not sure. My friend Lynn and I were two of the extras, and we acted in a few very serious scenes, including standing around the hot dog cart, looking over our shoulders, and taking a picture of one of the Mallards. It was tough, but we got through it.

So those are my five! I should tell you that this blog was also partly inspired by Adam Schabow's Onion Dog Adventure that I wrote about in my last entry because I feel like that could be a good Jeopardy Story. (An aside...I just realized why I was so disgusted by The Onion Dog Incident...I'm probably still scarred from eating that damn Awesome Blossom! I can't believe I didn't make this connection until right now!) So, now we all know that Adam has at least one. How many do you have? Tell, tell! Post in the comments section, or write your own blog about it. I'm going to go watch the Boyz II Men reunion that's on television right now. Holy eff, they've still got it!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Onion Dog

You know what? I've seen a lot of hot dogs in my day. And I've seen a lot of gross and ridiculous food in my day as well. But nothing, NOTHING compared to the grossness, ridiculousness, and the hot dog-ness of what happened last night. It was the grossest, most ridiculous, hot damn doggiest night of my life. For you see, my friends, last night was the fateful night that it finally happened. The Onion Dog came to life.

I'm sure you're all wondering "Well, my word! What's an Onion Dog?" Because I'm sure you're all old ladies and talk like this. To be brief, the Onion Dog is an onion with a bunch of hot dogs stuffed inside it. To be a bit more long winded...

It all started a few weeks ago when three young men were sittin' around, eating hot dogs. One of these young men, Adam Schabow, was eating a hot dog with a ton of onions on it. He proclaimed to his two friends, Nathan and Dusty, and to the world, "I love hot dogs and onions!!! In fact, I love them so much that I would take a hot dog and stuff it inside an onion and eat it like an apple." His words. Nathan wouldn't believe this. He just couldn't seem to grasp the enthusiasm with which Schabow was speaking. Schabow stood fast, though, and in order to emphasize his point and passion, stated that he wished to "infuse an onion with five whole hot dogs, and eat that like an apple." He really said that.

And so the rest was history. Obviously, being the gentlemen they are, Nathan and Schabow made a gentleman's wager. Dusty, being an optimistic and positive gentleman, albeit a little less passionate about onions, was on Schabow's side. Good thing too, since Dusty had a plan, as you'll see later. A large and respectable sum of ten dollars was bet (keep in mind, if Schabow and Dusty were to win, it would not be ten dollars each; they'd have to split it) and a date was set for the event to occur. Schabow had high hopes, support from his friends, minus that Negative Nathan we've all heard about, and a detailed drawing of how it would all go down. I mean, come on. How do you not believe in this?? I ask you:

And so the Night of the Onion Dog began. I was rooting for Schabow, but when I saw his attempts at making a drink, I got a bit nervous.

He tightened it up, though, and my confidence soared. And my sobriety plummeted.

The size of the items involved in the bet seemed important to me, as I was unsure of how loose the rules were. Could the onion be a gigantic genetically engineered one? Could the hot dogs be cocktail wiener-sized? The answer is no. The hot dogs were bun-length...
...and the onion was the size of my hand. Fair, fellas. Nice work.
Now, many bets involve a hustler. That was Dusty. I call him Dustler. Or maybe Husty. He had a secret weapon up his sleeve...he used to be a carpenter! Waa waa Nathan, Dusty knows how to drill like nobody else!

This power drill was bought specifically for this occasion. Too bad you all didn't bet more than ten dollars, eh?
Schabow and Nathan look on in disbelief; Nathan, because he's about to lose the bet, and Schabow, because his dreams are finally coming true. His dreams of The Onion Dog.

As you can see, Dusty vertically drilled five symmetric holes down through the onion.
Schabow got so excited at this point that he couldn't keep his hands off the onion! He had to poke his fingers into every hole before stuffing the hot dogs in.
And the big moment finally came. The hot dogs were inserted into the onion.
That's what it looked like - five hot dogs inside one onion. Sideways:
Now, the bet wasn't yet over at this point. They still had to grill the onion, and it had to stay in one piece. But Schabow was just so excited that the first prototype had worked that he thought they should give it another go. This time, with seven hot dogs. SEVEN HOT DOGS!

Dusty was put to work once again, and, once again, was successful in his drilling.
That's when Adam got even more excited and decided he wanted to recreate the picture he'd drawn (shown above). It turned out, well, exactly the same as the picture. Remarkable, Schabow! What a vision you had!

Busted Up Onion Dog is over there on the left.
Because nobody can ever just leave well enough alone, bacon had to be added. I'm a fan of adding bacon to almost anything, but it was at this point that my stomach turned, and I almost had to leave the room.

And a shish kebab skewer to pull it all together!
Dusty, confident in his inevitable win, proudly shows off the strength and solidness of The Onion Dogs.
Nathan, the soon-to-be loser of the bet, and Amy celebrated their vegetarianism by playing with The Onion Dogs uncomfortably.
I really believe that Schabow knew at this point that he'd win the bet, but frankly, I'm pretty sure he was just so excited to eat the damn Onion Dog at this point.
Here are the Onion Dogs on the grill. Some say you should roast an Onion Dog, but not Schabow. He knows what he's doing.
Dusty and the finished product! Although he seems enthusiastic here, it's all an act. Dusty was nowhere near as excited as Schabow to eat his tasty treats.

This picture sort of encapsulates the whole night. Wonder, excitement, awe, beauty. All right here in this picture, and in that evening...
A hot-dog-infused-bacon-wrapped-onion. I'm totally sending this picture into This Is Why You're Fat.
The gentlemen sit down to enjoy their meal.
Schabow slathered barbecue sauce all over his onion (the seven-hot-dog one, by the way) while Dusty opted for ketchup.
I wish I could photograph a sound. It, sorry I'm about to write this, but it was juicy. Really, really juicy.
Adam eats with gusto and delight while Dusty writhes in pain.
Somebody invents the Schabow cam! Video to come soon.
Schabow says he'll eat the entire camera, as long as it's put inside an onion.
And now, for a special treat. Ladies and gentlemen, Schabow eating The Onion Dog in slow motion. Enjoy!

And a big pile of crap is left on the plate.
Schabow and Dusty cheers to the ten dollars (split down the middle) they won that night.

And although that ten dollars wasn't much, I've got a hunch that it wasn't really about the money. For some, it was about pride. Or about proving a point. Because when a guy like Nathan starts going on with his "The world is flat! Ten dollars! I'll bring the beer! Screw you guys!" nonsense, you just gotta take charge. For others, however, it was really about getting to eat a giant onion with seven hot dogs inside it. Like an apple. And maybe that was the most important thing here. Because, really, maybe that's what life is all about, you know? Putting one kind of food inside another and eating it like an apple. I mean, that's just beautiful.

UPDATE: Haven't had enough, eh? Wanna watch a video of this event? Check it out here. Good luck not barfing!

AND...Read Dusty's version of the story. This man can write! And he makes it sound less grossed out and babyish than I did.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Piano Recitals: What a Great Social Activity!

Hey Wisconnies! I bet you're sick and tired of being all cooped up after the 14 inches of snow and the subzero temperatures we've had in the last few days, eh? Well, I have the perfect social activity for you - Piano Recitals! Piano recitals are undoubtedly the finest social activity you could ever attend. They rock. You probably don't even need a reason to come, but here are a few anyhow:

"Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" will be played no less than four times. "Ode to Joy" will be played three times, and "Snowfall" twice. You'll have them all memorized by the end of it!

You'll hear songs such as "Deck the Halls," "We Three Kings," "Joy to the World," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and you can sing the "alternate versions." Know what I mean?

Deck the Halls with gasoline/light a match and watch it gleam/watch the schoolhouse burn to ashes/aren't you glad you played with matches?

We three kings of Orient are/tried to smoke a rubber cigar/it was loaded/it exploded/BOOM! Slient night.

Joy to the world, the teacher's dead/we barbecued her head!/what happened to the body/we flushed it down the potty/and round and round it goes...etc.

And um... We wish you a merry fishmas and a crappy new year?

Also, I ask some of my students to do two songs per practice, and some of the combinations this year are hilarious. For example:

J, 11 years old, is doing the theme from The Office and the Jurassic Park theme.

A, 13 years old, is doing a song from Pirates of the Caribbean, and...Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

L, 12 is doing the Beethoven "Romanze" from Sonatina in G Major and...Zelda's Lullaby. From the video game.

And the infamous P, 10 (the one who wrote his own will), is doing Silent Night (which was his mom's choice), and...The Imperial March from Star Wars (his choice).

And, to be sincere, there's going to be some really amazing music this year. The kids are getting so good and playing so thoughtfully and will be a fun afternoon. If you're interested, we're doing three recitals on the afternoon on Sunday 12/20, at 12:30, 2:15, and 4:00. Let me know if you want to come and I'll let you know where they are. There will be snacks! And you'll get into the holiday spirit, if you're not there already. Tis the season!

Seriously. Everybody who's anybody will be there. Like I said, the social event of the year!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Take That, Delicious Food!

Have you all heard of this blog called Delicious Food? It started on MySpace a few years ago with a slightly pompous and very condescending individual taking pictures of food and interjecting a personal opinion upon each picture and each food item. Now it is an outside blog via blogspot, and the attitude and jackassery continue. Although Delicious Food (I refer to the author of this blog as Delicious Food because I have absolutely no idea who the person behind it is!) can be a pretty giant jerk sometimes, I've always admired and appreciated those pictures and hilarious, sharp blog entries.

After each new entry, I always feel inspired to find some delicious food myself. To be honest, I usually buy it or find somebody else to make it. I know some pretty damn good cooks out there, I tell you. Occasionally, though, I'll give it a try, but the results have been...mixed. Like the one time I made fake everything and it was sort of gross. I've been somewhat doubtful about my cooking abilities in the past, but man, I'm trying now. I've been doing better, especially in the last year, and I'ma keep trying.

I can't go much further, however, without throwing some credit to my most recent houseguest. Last week, I had the pleasure of some beautiful and wonderful company and some of the most delicious food I've had in my entire life. And you know what? I've had some damn good food in my life. But dudes, this was insane. My kitchen was transformed into something completely new; I don't think it will ever be the same. Amazing things happened in there. And so I got inspired. Which is funny, because, of all the ways this man has inspired me, the last thing I ever thought I'd take action on would be cooking. Nevertheless, here were are. Thank you, Christopher. Much respect.

Alright, alright, here we go. When I was in Atlanta for my sister's birthday last month, we dined at a lovely restaurant called Solstice where we ate butternut squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce. Omg. Seriously, omg. It was so good, and I've had a taste for it ever since. And thanks to both the inspiration from last week, along with the wonders of the internet, I decided to try. Look what happened:

The ingredients for the sauce: chicken broth, butter, and sage leaves, fresh from Jess's garden!

Pumpkin tortellini. I did not make this, but it is from RP's Pasta here in Madison. Fresh and local, and comes in a package! Fantastic!

That's just some butter melting in a pan. It makes me feel sort of funny that there's so much butter in there, but...whatever. Not funny enough to not eat it.

The butter completely melted a couple of minutes later.

Once it started to turn brown, I added the chicken broth and sage leaves. If only I could take a picture of a smell...

You can see the brown color in this one. Hence, "Brown Butter." Get it?!

This is a very complicated process called "boiling the pasta." Extremely complicated.

But I made it work! Whew!

I also decided to roast some brussel sprouts - olive oil, salt and pepper.

Oh damn, there it is, all finished! So delicious, and totally easy.

Although it wasn't the same as what my sister and I ate, it was really delicious and extremely satisfying to have made myself! It's funny to learn brand new things when you're thirty, but whatever. This all rules. Hell yeah, thirty!