Another Fine Barb Idea

Barb Asks:

  • 1.Why don’t we call you “Tiny”?
  • I dunno. Perhaps everyone has their own personal cute pet name for me, and therefore I do not bear an uber-nick.

  • 2.Al Greene and Jesus get into a fight. Who wins?
  • The MMA pay-per-view industry. My God, woman — the Quintessential Soul Man stepping into the Octagon with the Reverend Al Green? I’d drop $50 on that.

  • 3.Is there any beverage you won’t drink?
  • Under what circumstances? I only drink gin in the even of an emergency — like if I see a snake. (Who’s got it?) I’m not wild about beer.
    Oh, and I drank Jagermeister, once. It was like using toothpaste as sexual lubricant; it got the job done, but not so’s I’d try again.

  • 4.I’m pondering baked goods for Opening Day. Any suggestions?
  • Something on a stick. We don’t eat enough besticked food at barbecues.

  • 5.Complete the following statement: whiskey is to ice cubes as..
  • Porn is to female bisexuality. The main focus can be passable served up straight, but you get the job done faster with the bonus ingredient.

    Barb Says:

    This is how it works.
    If you want me to ask you five questions, leave a message in the comments.
    I will post your five questions in a later post.
    You will post the answers on your own weblog.

    If you’d care to play, just say.

    Feel The Power

    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope John Paul on Friday said Sunday should be a day for God, not for secular diversions like entertainment and sports.

    Either the man’s been a mole for all these years, trying to bring the church down from the inside, or it is time for J-P to hang up the big hat and move into the Vatican Retirement Castle.

    You can take on many things and win, up to and including Satan and all his works, but the NFL is not to be trifled with. You’re gonna lose every last one of your dozens of remaining followers, pontiff.

    Have to wonder about how much longer the church is going to let this poor addled old gent serve as poster boy for a pious life. Frank Sinatra may have died a year or two younger, but he looked a hell of a lot happier at the end.

    Spring Is Sprung

    Welcome back, my dear, beloved, cherished, and much-missed friends.

    ***

    Barbecue Opening Day is April 10th, 2pm on the home field. You really ought to be there. Shoot me an e-mail.

    ***

    The Memphis Open looks like it’ll be May 15-16. Rob and I haven’t been on a good two-day full in a while, so this should be a gloriously bad idea. Sign up now! Friday night to Sunday night, so no vacation days necessary, unless you’re in some kind of tedious and vexing Wall Street residency or something.

    ***

    Addendum at the behest of Kyle: As to Vegas, the Not During The Summer Jihad and the Sovereign Nation Of Summer Vacation must make peace before the process can move forward. All parties are anxious to get this done, and it now merely a matter of negotiation. We move steadily forward in our quest for Sin City In Our Time.

    Damn You All

    Nice work, ‘Zags.

    Really, there’s no shame in losing in the second round.

    Certainly not to a traditional powerhouse like Nevada-Reno.

    And I’m not mad at you, really.

    These things happen.

    That’s why they call it “gambling”.

    So I’m okay about this.

    I hope you guys are okay, too.

    It’s important to know you tried your best, and to be proud of yourselves for who you are*, rather than for what you might or might not have accomplished.

    Buck up, squad. There’s always next year!

    * Choking dogs. I mean, are you fucking kidding me? NEVADA-RENO? THREE FOR TWENTY-TWO FROM BEYOND THE ARC? Did I miss the Lady Zag substitutions? I hope groupies bite your dicks off. Oh, and spend more time on your D and less time on your hair, Sideshow Turiaf. Jesus fuck. I think you set a record for fouls — what, four in four minutes? Those are Wil Perdue numbers, Jumbo. Nice work.

    Don’t get me started on the officiating. How much money did you guys have on the game? The fouls on Gonzaga came so fast you’d think they gave whistles directly to Big Pussy and Paulie Walnuts. I’d be sure of it if it weren’t for the fact that the NCAA brand of organized crime is far more powerful than the Mob.

    Attention, Please

    GOD DAMN MOTHERFUCKING NO-DEFENSE-PLAYING SIU PUSSY BITCHES CAN’T HOLD ON TO A LEAD FOR FIVE COCKSUCKING SECONDS. MAY THEY ALL BE DISEMBOWELED BY ANGRY TROLLS WITH RED-HOT PITCHFORKS.

    That is all.

    Classical

    Oh, better far to live and die
    Under the brave black flag I fly,
    Than play a sanctimonious part
    With a pirate head and a pirate heart.
    Away to the cheating world go you,
    Where pirates all are well-to-do;
    But I’ll be true to the song I sing,
    And live and die a Pirate King.
    For I am a Pirate King!
    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pirate King!
    For I am a Pirate King!

    You are!
    Hurrah for the Pirate King!


    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pirate King!

    It is!
    Hurrah for the Pirate King!
    Hurrah for the Pirate King!


    When I sally forth to seek my prey
    I help myself in a royal way.
    I sink a few more ships, it’s true,
    Than a well-bred monarch ought to do;
    But many a king on a first-class throne,
    If he wants to call his crown his own,
    Must manage somehow to get through
    More dirty work than e’er I do,
    For I am a Pirate King!
    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pirate King!
    For I am a Pirate King!

    You are!
    Hurrah for the Pirate King!


    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pirate King!

    It is!
    Hurrah for the Pirate King!
    Hurrah for the Pirate King!


    – W. Gilbert, A. Sullivan

    Holiday Road III

    Part III will be presented in the ‘Formal Incoherence’ style, rather than my customary policy of using only ‘Informal Incoherence’.

    ***

    For the first time in my entire life, I have gotten up at four-thirty in the morning and not regretted it at all. We went snorkeling at Homosassa Springs.

    With the manatees. I got to pet a calf.

    It was awesome, in the classic sense of the word. They’re very friendly and inquisitive, like minivan-size puppies. They like to be scratched. They also give kisses, which is startling to the recipient. Plus they mate in orgies, and eat twenty hours a day. We could learn a lot from our aquatic cousins.

    Here’s something interesting: No matter how thoroughly you think you understand the phrase ‘Nine feet long and a thousand pounds,’ you will be unprepared for the size of the things when you meet them on their turf. You will be extra-unprepared if you are accustomed to being in the 90th percentile of human size, and are suddenly a mayoral candidate in Munchkinland.

    But it’s still great.

    Do this.

    ***

    Oh, and your narrator looks sexy as fuck-all in a wetsuit.

    ***

    Hungry Harry?s is in the Barbecue Hall Of Fame. For those of you to whom the statement is meaningful, it was pin-worthy…as were Big Bob Gibson’s, Sonny’s Barbecue, Bern’s, Camille’s, the Branch Ranch, and Moonlite Barbecue, which is one of my life’s Holy Grails: A barbecue buffet.

    ***

    We ate at the Branch Ranch and meandered around Plant City for a while. Jesus was smiling on us, as we were there, accidentally, during the Plant City Strawberry Festival. Plant City’s economy is based on strawberries the way Miami’s is based on hating Castro. This is a Big Deal, this festival, so we stopped. The first tent we came wore a sign: ‘DEEP FRIED BACON’.

    We had found my people.

    The festival is very much a rural state fair, and three things about it stand out in my memory:

    One is an exceptional strawberry shortcake which cost $2.50 and was dubbed something ungainly like ‘The Official Strawberry Shortcake Of The Plant City State Strawberry Festival And Hoedown, Made For You Especially By The Lakeland Area Baptist Women’s Guild, Except Flo, That Husband-Thieving Cunt’. It could have been shared by three people.

    The second was my inability to not giggle in the children’s area, which was filled with biting things you could pet** and was called ‘AG-VENTURE!’. I am even now unable to think about, or even say, ‘AG-VENTURE!’ without channeling Hank Hill. I defy you to do this, either, after reading this sentence: ‘Dang it all, Bobby, now we’re going to be late for Ag-venture!’

    The third is the best carnival booth I have ever seen in my many years of enthusiastic attendance. A very small and rustic looking shack/booth, with an old man in it, wearing bib overalls, and sitting in a rocking chair, surrounded by bales of hay and a few chickens. The sign on the booth said ‘ASK UNCLE NAT’. There was no other detail or explanation. I loved it. I hope that Uncle Nat hadn’t actually sought permission to be there or anything, but was just a hobbyist who carried his setup with him and dispensed abuse. No prizes, no contest, just Uncle Nat.

    (BTW, what they call ‘deep fried bacon’ is what we’d call a pork rind.)

    ***

    We also went to the Tampa Zoo, which has a free-flight area filled with lorikeets. I had negotiated a deal with the lorikeets before we arrived: In exchange for my providing two small cups of lorikeet food, the lorikeets mobbed my companion mercilessly. (One of them peed on her, which was NOT FUNNY AT ALL SO JUST STOP THAT GODDAMN LAUGHING.)

    ***

    We drove home from Tampa, which was pretty cool except for the Cavalier having an untranslatable light go on, which necessitated us getting out the manual, which was, of course, in the glove box, which is the natural habitat of the manual, which every normal person knows, right?

    The manual in the Cavalier required, without exaggeration, two phone calls and a mechanic from Sears to find. You had to open the trunk, unload the luggage, TAKE UP THE TRUNK LINER, and reach BEHIND A QUARTERPANEL.

    I would not have hidden smuggled diamonds as well as Avis concealed this manual. We found the thing when we called Avis to vent at them for failing to include a manual in the car and to ask them to patch us through to a mechanic so we could DESCRIBE the stinking light to him and hope it wasn’t indicating something like ‘Cyanide Leak’.

    ***

    Also Avis overcharged me by $54 when I returned the car to their O’Hare location and told me that in order to dispute the charge I would have to drive the car back to the pick-up location. In Tampa. Avoid Avis.

    ***

    On the way home we saw the World’s Largest Peanut, which was a great disappointment to one of the passengers in the car, who I believe misheard me when I said ‘Today we will see the World’s Largest Peanut.’

    ***

    Japanese steakhouses of the Benihana-knockoff type are enormously popular in South Georgia along I-75. The billboards make magnificent non-sequiturs.

    ***

    Speaking of billboards, this one, for a housing development, was a hundred miles south of Macon and was, at the time, really, really, really funny:

    “New homes from $130K in Butts, GA: Sweet Secret in the Heart of Georgia”

    Yes, we were tired, but imagine having to answer the phone at this sales office.

    ***

    My least favorite part of the trip was a twenty-mile drive in pitch darkness through farm country and towns called things like Fartburg on a two-lane undivided late on Friday night between Owensboro and I-64. It was forested with wreaths and little white crosses, which I hate whenever I see them, but especially when I’m in a tiny car and I can’t see very well and I’m going 70 on a road I don’t know and they’re just singing at me ‘Laura died here last week and she knew where she was going and here comes the car carrier over the next hill but you can’t see it, ha ha!’

    I understand the need to grieve, but can you refrain from putting a cross right where I’ll see it when I’m rounding a blind curve and don’t need any further reinforcement that what I’m doing is not maybe the best move, statistically?

    ***

    That’s it. That’s the trip.

    Next run is the Memphis Open. Leaning toward the first weekend in April. Who’s coming?

    * We all know the secret to great strawberry shortcake, yes?

    ** Normally an entertainment genre I support with gusto, if in slightly different form.

    Holiday Road II

    Off the boat, into the rental, and back to Tampa. Sleep. Rest is important, as we have a date the next night with Bern’s Steakhouse.

    I cannot do justice to Bern’s in words. George Bernard Shaw could not. I’ll just list what we ate and let you peruse the menu.

    First, here’s how we came to be there:

    I have a floating rep company of Valued Traveling Companions, but one of them is more valued and less floating than others, and last December contained a date of some note, and I promised a weekend trip in observance. (I also received a handsome commemorative gift, which was much too personal to identify, plus I am deeply concerned about confusing it with a gift received for Christmas or a birthday and being shouted at.)

    Now, we plan trips around restaurants the way other people plan them around relatives or baseball stadiums. We have a Restaurant Life List, like a particularly devoted birdwatcher. We have a Hall Of Fame. We are, in short, dangerously obsessed people.

    So I launched a nationwide search for a place to eat. After a lot of gratifying study, I settled on Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa. It looked fabulous, and I was pretty sure it would — unlike most fancy places — have stayed under Her radar. Plus, the runners-up were in New York, and though I am getting better about flying, I am not yet ready to see Manhattan from an airplane, thankyouverymuch. Because She is fond of surprises, I handled all this covertly.

    The window of opportunity to go out of town opened in late February. I have now been keeping this destination-meal a secret for maybe five months. It’s tough. I moon over the menu like a schoolgirl over Valentines. I read reviews and drool on myself. She has no idea where we’re going. We fly to Tampa. Reservations at Bern’s — still Classified after six months — are for Sunday night.

    Saturday afternoon, as we’re having those last Red Stripes and margaritas with friends in Key West, the topic of where we’re going after the ferry docks in Ft Myers arises. We tell them we’re going to Tampa, whereupon one of our friends says, “You have GOT to go to Bern’s!” and then proceeds to wax eloquent about the now-former surprise FOR TWENTY MINUTES.

    We leave Schooner Wharf, and She says, “Do you think we can try that restaurant they were talking about? It sounded great!”

    Six #*$)@^ months I kept a lid on that, and got shot down with twenty-four hours left on the clock. On the bright side, Bern’s was great, and now it’s a much better story.

    Things We Ate At Bern’s Over The Course Of Two Meals, Because Sunday’s Dinner Was So Good We Went Back Tuesday:

    Two kinds of steak tartare, a lobster and mango cocktail, a sweet foie gras preparation, French onion soup, spelt toast, garlic toast, salads with Macadamia Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette/Maple Dijon/Bleu Cheese/Golden Balsamic dressings, a house special Chateaubriand (rare), a Delmonico (medium-rare), garlic mashed potatoes, onion rings, lemon cheese mousse, Grand Marnier chocolate mousse, a chocolate souffle, macadamia nut ice cream, and carrots marinated in a lot of different kinds of liquor. Speaking of liquor: Cappucino Bern’s, Barbancourt Reserve du Domaine, Seven Star, Romana Sambuca (in coffee), Myers & Coke, a Cosmopolitan, and a Key Lime Martini, the elaborate recipe for which I have wheedled out of the Bern’s people and will exchange for oral gratification. (I might also unveil it at a barbecue this summer, so show up to the damn things.)

    I also gained the lifetime adoration of the piano player by giving him a break from ‘As Time Goes By’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ by making my standard piano-bar request, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown,’ which he played correctly if with very little actual soul.

    This crush of mine took longer to sublimate than I thought, plus I have the culinary equivalent of a monstro-erection, so I’m going to Happy Hour now. I’ll finish the report tomorrow.

    Holiday Road I

    Florida. Ahhh. I love Florida. There were boats and rum drinks and pelicans and conch fritters. The sun was warm and the company was cute.

    I warn you now to turn back. The rest of this blog entry may seem to the more resentment-inclined among you as merely a long form version of the postcard I once got from my brother in Spain: ‘Ha ha, look where I am.’ I assure you that is mostly not my intention. Reading further automatically denies you the right to hate me for the nine days you didn’t have.

    Flight 706 on Southwest, MID-TPA. I took no Xanax or Vicodin for this flight — thus preserving them for recreational use — and had only one drink, and did not at any point panic, though there were a few tense moments when descending through low clouds and rain into Tampa. I am getting better. I am proud.

    Car rented from Avis. The Chevy Cavalier is a fine and decent little car, which I recommend highly. (Unless for some strange reason you want to accelerate quickly or sit comfortably, in which case you should melt it and make it into a fucking ashtray.) There is more to say about the rental car experience. None of it is kind, though what remains is about Avis rather than Chevrolet.

    The overnight hours are spent driving to Fort Myers Beach — including a frenzied luggage search for coins after we pulled up to the Sunshine Skyway Tollbooth with $400 in hundreds, which was less funny then than it is now — drinking Red Bull, and breakfasting at Waffle House. We had a few hours to kill, you see, before boarding the ferry to Key West.

    Here is what I took away from a round-trip on the ferry: Thirty-seven miles an hour on a boat is a great deal faster than thirty-seven miles an hour in a car. I don’t know how this works — it has something to do with the theory of relativity as it pertains to sleep deprivation and a couple drinks, plus full-body wind resistance — but great jumping fuck, when I climbed up on the roof my beard about blew off. Plus, a super-powered cat like that isn’t known for its stability, plus I got salt in my eyes. I was soaked and staggering and blind. It was glorious.

    Landed in Key West. Obtained lunch at the restaurant that made the Al Of Fame on the strength of a one-time unplanned synchronized-diving-pelican show. Food and drink(s), followed by a serious nap.

    The nap allowed us to get in a nice dinner (lobster pizza, which is far better than it might sound) before heading over to everyone concerned?s favorite bar of all time. A quality evening was spent drinking frozen things with rum in them, both at the Garden and later at a few other fine establishments. Things get hazy after one-thirty.

    The light part of Key West Day Two was largely spent in sleeping late and making some Operation Alligator related inquiries. (The latter was mostly valuable for what was ruled out.) I did obtain an unusually fine new Hat, of which you would all be deeply envious if you could see it, which you can?t, because I can?t figure out how to upload files, because I am a technochimp.

    Day Two did begin with breakfast at Blue Heaven, which has chickens running about during meals, and after all the business was wrapped we had dinner at the only restaurant I have ever liked so much I bought a painting of the place. (Crab stuffed shrimp, fried crawfish, grouper, scallops, and garlic bread. God bless America.) We then did a little more pub-hopping with the Key West folks we know, and crawled home about two-thirty.

    Day Three was an adventure. We had to be back on the ferry by five pm, but the crew graciously allowed us to store our luggage on the boat at noon, to allow us to roam and shop unburdened. We were waiting to put all our stuff on the boat, when my companion noted that everyone getting off of the breathtakingly gigantic cruise ship at the next pier was male, and that they were, to a man, in unusually good physical condition.

    This mystery was solved for us later, when our Duval Street wanderings took us past a bar where the bouncer was wearing nothing but underpants and looked like a bearded fourteen-year-old-boy. The marquee over the bar read ‘Aqua welcomes day-trippers from the cruise ship Poofter.’ (Or something like that.) We went inside, and watched a performer who looked like Madonna below the neck and Ben Stiller above it singing ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,’ and doing a nice job of it.

    Alas, we had to be back on the boat, and could not hang around for the “Amateur Package Contest”. We drank a couple Red Stripes and a couple margaritas – not the best idea ever – and boarded the boat.

    The trip back was even better than the trip down. Five-foot seas and a thirty-knot headwind. I am a super badass sailor. I was all over the boat like a bad dog and enjoying myself immensely. Those who were a skosh greedy with the margaritas — not that I’m singling anyone out, honey — did not do as well. About halfway through the trip the crew put on ‘Finding Nemo,’ which I enjoyed. If you ever have the opportunity to watch a sea-movie while aboard a ship that?s bucking like a prom date, do. That?s fucking Sensurround.

    Tomorrow: Manatees, Bern’s, and “Ask Uncle Nat”

    Y'all Got That?

    As the final guest host of the cycle, loyal reader, please welcome fellow traveller Feminine Pronoun!

    Now, I love barbeque. And a few years ago, we attended the Memphis in May World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest. This was great fun. The overall Best In Show award was won by Big Bob Gibson’s Restaurant in Decatur, Alabama, the owner of which gave a heartfelt “Thank you” speech in which he thanked both Jesus Christ and Budweiser “for making this
    possible.”

    Now, last week, in the course of our travels, we realized that we would only be a scant few hours from Big Bob Gibson’s–a place that we had wondered about for more than three years. A few hour detour for barbeque? World champion barbeque? Not even a question.

    We arise bright and early from the Best Western in Talladega, Alabama and hit the road. A few hours later, we arrive in scenic Decatur. Realizing that we don’t know where this restaurant actually is, we pull into a gas station. I run in to ask directions because, well, I’m cuter, and this has always seemed to be helpful in the obtaining of directions as well as other stuff.

    The dialogue goes like this:

    Me: “I’m looking for a restaurant called Big Bob Gibson’s”
    Guy Behind Counter: “D’ya know where the old Dodge place used to be?”
    Me: “No”
    GBH: “OK. Well, ya stay on 31 until you get to 14”

    We proceed down the road and eventually find the restaurant. The place is huge. Big Bob Gibson’s is the most famous thing in Decatur, Alabama. In the front of the restaurant are their world champion tropies, there is a framed proclamation from the mayor declaring “Big Bob Gibson’s Day” in Decatur, there are framed articles from “Food and Wine,” from “Gourmet,” from “The New York Times.”

    Now, think about this for a moment. This is the ONLY place of world renown in Decatur, Alabama. If I do not know where it is, do you think that there is ANY WAY that I have the vaguest clue where the old Dodge place USED TO BE!?!?

    Think about it.

    Me: “I’m looking for the Tower of London”
    Guy Behind Counter: “Do you know where Sam’s Fish and Chips was?”

    Should you ever find your way to Decatur, Alabama, a lunch at Big Bob Gibson’s is highly recommended. Just don’t ask for directions. But remember to have the coconut pie.