Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The F Word (Which May Turn Out to Mean Food! Mind Outta the Gutter...Tsk, tsk)

I'm a fan of the Pioneer Woman, so today we're going to talk about her, young adult books, and food. First, the Pioneer Woman, a lady named Ree Drummond, was raised in Oklahoma, moved to L.A., had dreams of becoming a ballerina, and so on her way to relocating to Chicago (I think), she stopped in her hometown. While in a bar, she saw a handsome hunk of a cowboy and before she new it, she was married, gave up her grand jete' for a truck named Chevrolet, and moved out to the ranch. She began a blog and about eight months into it, she started including recipes. Now she has a NY Times bestselling cook book. So I decided to steal her idea and I'll do the same at the end of the blog. No, not fall in love with a cowboy. This ain't Brokeback Mountain. I mean include a recipe (which I see Michelle and Jessica have done, too. Pioneer Women, perhaps?)

Young adult books...I'm in the midst of writing book two in the Austin Files series (Betrayed was book one). I'm struggling with the authenticity of the dialogue and with some of the situations my characters find themselves in. A person in my writers group is also writing a young adult book. She's a very strong writer and has decided on total realism, including having her characters use profanity--including the dreaded "F" word (gasp!) She realizes with that in there, she'll never get into school libraries, but she's wondering if it's worth the risk. Opinions anyone? Fellow authors? Parents?

Finally the recipe. I'll include one with every blog now and include (if I remember) the person's name who originally gave it to me). Of course anyone can make these, but I intend them for men such as myself who are the chief cooks and bottle washers in their homes. As Myra told me on day two of our marriage, "If you wanna eat, you better learn how to cook."

The Best Fruit Dip Ever
From my friend Bill Mellin

1 tub small tub of soft creme cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
Kahlua to taste

In a bowl, mix the creme cheese and sugar. When thoroughly mixed, add about a teaspoon of Kahlua and taste the mixture. Don't let the alcohol overpower the sweetness of the other ingredients. Stir until it has the consistency of cake frosting.

Put the mixture in a small serving bowl, set it in the middle of a tray, and surround it with hard fruits like apples and pears. You can dip strawberries or spoon some of the mixture over softer fruits.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The G Spot

Two days ago, Alexey (my son) and I saw a commercial for T-Mobile's new 4G phone. With it, you can watch movies, television shows from the Web, send texts, check email, and have a video chat with someone who also has a 4G phone and thus video chatting capabilities (not to mention being able to annoy the crap out of everybody else in the restaurant, coffee shop, airport, bus, or train with you, your phone, and your loud mouth)

Alexey proudly announced he was quite satisfied with his 3G iPhone.

In response, I had some questions and one apparently boring soliloquy:

#1- What does the "G" stand for? Does it mean gigabyte or generation? I've never been quite clear on the concept.

#2- (and here is where I think I lost Alexey)--what's with this video chat thing? I mean, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone so we didn't have to be standing next to each other to talk. But with his invention we did have to stand next to the telephone waiting--sometimes endlessly--in order to to talk to the person to whom we did not want stand next to. When we could no longer stand sitting by the telephone waiting to talk to the person we no longer had to stand next to, somebody invented a cell phone. And now the cell pones have video chatting so we can "virtually' stand next to the guy we don't physically have to stand next to in order to talk to him.

So my question is, if we've come to this, why not save the radiation exposure and just go find the guy and talk to him?? It's like the phones that do the voice-to-text thing where you can dictate a TEXT message. If you're going to all that trouble, just use the damn phone to CALL the person!

When I was 12 and out playing at Clay Neal's house, as it got dark, my mother would step out on to the screened porch, cup her hands over her mouth and yell my name across the half acre of woods that separated our houses until I answered. Today, my son sends me a text message when he's ready for me to pick him up from where ever he is.

For all this introspection and history, I got from Alexey a blank stare, a "Whatever," and a "Like I said...3G does everything I need."

So much for parenting.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A New Way to Blog (For me anyway!)

My last post was three months ago at the end of August. It's tough to keep a blog audience when you're that unreliable. My apologies. I'm going to try to be more consistent, and I'm going to do that by trying a new way to blog.

A friend of mine has had great success and picked up a number of followers by sticking to three topics, so I thought I might travel down that road. I like politics (or rather making fun of politicians). I like writing about my kids. And I suppose I should do some stuff on writing and books since that's the impetus for having a blog in the first place. I promise to try to be funny (What did the girl from West Virginia say on her honeymoon? "Not so hard Daddy or you'll crush my Malboros!")--my friend, Shalee, says that's a sick joke, and she's not even from West Virginia--or at least poignant.

So let's try politics first:

"No nation ever taxed itself into prosperity." Ronald Reagan

"We've demonized taxes. We've created almost the idea that they're a metaphysical evil. It's rank demagoguery. To stand before the public and rub raw this anti-tax sentiment, the Republican Party, as much as it pains me to say this, should be ashamed of themselves." Former Reagan budget director David Stockman.

I used to say that if I could keep the Democrats out of my wallet and the Republicans out of my bedroom, I'd be a happy man. When Bill met Monica, Newt Gingrich dumped his cancer stricken wife while she was in the hospital, and Sanford trekked the Appalachian Trail all the way to Argentina, the "party of values" tag line died for both groups. So that leaves us to talk about taxes.

The Republican mantra has been to limit government and to leave money in the taxpayers' pockets so they can decide how to best spend it. In South Carolina, we tried that with Act 388 that slashed property taxes for school funding and replaced it with a penny sales tax. The result? A massive loss of school dollars, teacher furloughs, staff layoffs, larger class sizes, and a moratorium on building depserately needed new schools.

Mark Sanford limited our government all right, and his limits threw hundreds, if not thousands, of mentally ill people out of residential treatment and onto the streets. And it's only the legislature that has kept him from destroying public and higher education.

We could easily cut all our taxes, but you might want to rethink that as your fat-cat ass is having a heart attack and no ambulance comes to take you to the ER because nobody funded emergency services--those damn evil taxes!

Want some tax cuts? Here are a few suggestions: Let's not give a football coach a taxpayer-funded $100,000 bonus for doing what should be his job every season--winning the SEC East--while at the same time you're laying off adjunct faculty.

When you're looking for a way to fund public transportation in the city, let's not pay a consulting firm $100,000 taxpayer dollars for suggestions any of your riders could have given you for free.

When you're laying off city workers, increasing their insurance premiums, and stealing away their vacation, perhaps you could eliminate the job that has a person riding around in neighborhoods leveling fines for simply leaving trash roll carts out past 7:30 pm on the day of service. (We have an actual city ordinance prohibiting it).

Tourism is the number one industry in this state, but the City of Columbia, in an effort to get tourist dollars, has a poor history of pouring bucket loads of taxpayer money into losing ventures and putting citizens in the position of making up the difference so that the entrepreneurs who should be taking the risks don't lose money. Do the Three Rivers Music Festival (never made a profit), Air South (bankrupt), MayFest (tanked),  or the city-financed hotel (illegal) ring a bell?

And what about the $30 million in taxpayer funds S.C. State University got to build the Clyburn Transportation Center, which was supposed to be completed TWELVE years ago. The missing money is now under a state police investigation. Lovely.

Now please, my dear elected officials, tell me again how so very hard it is to find places to cut your budgets.