Charles Manson is dead — but not really

Charles Manson

Making sense of the cult of celebrity and selective amnesia

In case you don’t follow current events, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Charles Manson, murderous lunatic, charismatic cult leader and decent folk singer, died yesterday. It’s a win for mankind — and a name you wouldn’t have felt guilty about adding to your celebrity death pool.

The bad news is that he will exist, perpetually, in the blackest recesses of our hearts, as well as our minds and our art. Continue reading

Pulled pork is the metaphor for a healthy relationship

pulled pork

Maybe? I don’t know. I’m just spitballing here.

Pulled pork is forgiving. You can undercook it, or leave it in the crock pot for a little too long. It will still come out falling off the bone, juicy and delicious. It also looks good in a variety of outfits:

  • Hawaiian: Salt, pepper and brown sugar
  • Texan: Chili powder, garlic and thyme
  • Mexican: Cumin, cayenne and oregano

And even if pulled pork didn’t actually look good in one of these outfits, you’d still say it did. Because you’re that kind of caring individual.

Pulled pork also doesn’t believe in starting fights or turning every argument into a pissing contest — mostly because pulled pork is incapable of human speech. Also, although pulled pork does get quite heated (you wouldn’t want to risk eating it raw, now, would you?) it always has its chill.

What I’m getting at is that I should strive to be more like pulled pork — the version that can still do human things, I mean.

Pappadeux? More like “Pappa-no.”

When being “better than Red Lobster” is still a low bar

Every year, we go out for my father-in-law’s birthday — usually to Red Lobster because he’s a fan of crab legs. And every year, without fail, the food I order at Red Lobster either leaves me cradling the toilet or straddling it. Maybe I have a weak stomach. Perhaps seafood just isn’t my bag.

I don’t know.

This year, I got a reprieve, or so I thought. The family collectively decided to go to Pappadeux instead of Red Lobster. As we pulled into the parking lot, I could see it was packed. Yet, there was no wait to be seated because the restaurant itself is the size of a mall food court. I was immediately apprehensive, however, because the interior of the restaurant looked suspiciously like Red Lobster. The murky lobster tank, strip club lighting and overdressed waiters – it was all there.

And the menu was enormous. My experience with surf and turf at Red Lobster steered me away from the $45 version here (there’s only so much gristle I can handle in a steak I’m not preparing myself) and toward the Pappadeux Platter, a sampler containing every kind of fish the restaurant serves, but deep-fried.

They might as well have brought it in a wheelbarrow. Piled high on a white plate, and resting on a bed of fries, was the most unappetizing array of fish I had ever seen. Fried to a light brown but, luckily, devoid of visible oil, the Pappadeux Platter does for seafood what Chik-fil-a does for garbage-tier cuts of chicken: mask it in just enough breading to make it palatable.

I was not taken to Flavortown. I did not savor every bite. Really, I ate just enough bland, breaded fish to ensure I wouldn’t need to go sneaking off to Nadia’s Jack-o-Lantern full of candy she’s not allowed to eat. The last insult was the bill. My wife’s family loves Red Lobster, and they left Pappadeux disappointed. You have to mine really deep into the pits of mediocrity to charge more than Red Lobster, yet serve inferior food.

At least I haven’t felt the first signs of food poisoning — yet.

A fire inside

”I’ll have it Thai hot.” With those five words, I sealed my fate. Though the Pad Thai placed in front of me only bore flecks of crushed pepper, from the first bite my tongue began to burn. The tiniest of needles danced on my lips. My nose became a fountain.

But I loved every bite. If sweet foods are indulged upon and savory foods, well, savored, then spicy foods are meant to be endured. I guess in some Clive Barker, Hellraiser-esque way, the pain of eating spicy food can become so intense that it loops back around and becomes pleasurable. There’s also a perverse sense of accomplishment in torturing your taste buds and being able to get up from the table none the worse for wear.

Eating spicy food is a non-stop thrill ride. To put it another way, it’s the culinary equivalent of the bungee jump.

Unfortunately, I don’t get equal amounts of pleasure from whatever intestinal aftermath usually follows a spicy meal. There’s also the intense, nagging need to lie down for a nap. But at least my sinuses are squeaky clean.


I think that’s what you’d call someone who gobs three big meals, two mini bundt cakes and a late night snack in one day (also, a lot of coffee)

I eat like crazy.
But I run at 4AM,
so I can chow down.

When you are a tree


Trees don’t have the luxury of going when the going gets tough. They’re rooted to the ground. Naturally, they’re also masters of patience — in lieu trips to the river when they’re thirsty, they wait for the rain and an opportunity to drink their fill.

Aniother thing about trees is they’re resilient. You can wound a tree with an axe, cut it down with machines or burn it to ash with the flick of a cigarette. Still, the tree grows.

Trees have to be good company because they’re stuck with what little company they have, or an over abundance of it. They shelter birds, feed squirrels and harbor mushrooms.

Trees are giving. Paper, maple syrup and gum are just some of their gifts.

Trees often have leaves but share little in common with them. Yes, trees can fall. They can dry and crack. But they always stand their ground. A leaf lets the wind be its master. It has no direction but the one it is given.

Once, I was a leaf. I think — no, hope — I’m a tree now.

Is it Turkey Day yet?

Turkey Day

Forget about Christmas. Honestly, once November 1 rolls around, all I can think about is Thanksgiving

But I wasn’t always like this. Years of waiting until late in the evening to eat because stuffed turkeys take longer to cook, sinking my teeth into dry dark meat because stuffing a turkey leads to over cooking and, well, just eating plain bad turkey had conditioned me to loathe Thanksgiving and the overeating that accompanies it.

When I started cooking for myself, a whole world of opportunity revealed itself. Brining turkeys? Awesome. Separating the meat from the skin and stuffing seasoning I into the crevices to amp up the flavor of the meat? Even better. Sweet potato gratin. Charred Brussels sprouts. Fresh cranberry sauce. Bourbon-infused pumpkin tart. Man, I’m getting giddy just thinking about them.

And the best part about hosting? Taking all the leftovers and shoving them into a sandwich. Yes, seriously, every course except dessert — in one sandwich. Friends, that’s how you achieve nirvana. The big day can’t come soon enough.