Saturday, January 31, 2015

Smells Like Teen Spirit More Than a Feeling

Hey, does anyone know if Downtown Abbey is on tonight?  I like it a lot.  My wife loves it!  Which brings me to a moral dilemma!  What happens if the Super Bowl runs past 9 pm which I'm sure it will?

That dilemma formed a joke in my head based on an old Jeff Foxworthy schtick:

"If you are a guy and decide to watch Downtown Abbey over the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl you either gay or married!"  

Or in desperate need of a second TV.  Yes the Beaumont family (normally proudly so) only has one TV set in the home.

I've have been thinking long and hard on this post all week.  After all, Super Bowl foods are my longest running standing blog post theme going way back to 2011.  Look at the bottom for links to all my past Super Bowl food posts.

When I did start to think of the game between the Patriots and the Seahawks it sort of reminded me of those "old school" Super Bowls between Dallas and Pittsburgh way back when; two epic dynasties clashing at the apex of their greatness on the biggest world stage.  I mean this is big, kind of like Jennifer Anniston competing with Angelina Jolie in a Brad Pitt *ucking match, Nicki Minaj vs. Brazil's Miss Bum Bum in a big ass contest, or Russia vs. the Ukraine clashing over world wide web hegemony for internet brides!

And when you think about the competition between Seattle and Boston you think one thing - rock bands and coffee!  Well maybe that's two things and I guess I didn't include football either.  I do think Seattle has Boston schooled on rock anyway though (sorry Stadium Rock fans of Boston - you're way overplayed).  But actually when it comes to coffee New England just does outdistance the Pacific Northwest in coffee consumption but it is an epic clash!

But it goes even deeper than that with respect to coffee.  Seattle and Boston are not just a clash of passionate coffee aficionados they are, in fact, a clash of culture and style.  But who comes out on top?

In one corner of the ring we have Seattle, the brazen newcomer to the coffee world order.  This is the team that reinvented coffee and made the $4 cup part of our lives and taught us that small, medium, and large should really be tall, venti, and grande.  Yes Starbucks, founded in 1971 as a coffee roaster and then translated into an Italian-styled espresso cafe is bold, brash, and over-roasted.  With over 20,000 stores world-wide Starbucks is the largest coffee retailer in the world.  By putting a store on every other urban corner, like the Seahawks Starbucks will run your ass over and make you wonder how you got through two flights, three meetings, and four conference calls on one Grande Pike Place roast!

Yes, the over roasting of the coffee doesn't taste quite right.  You can't figure out wtf the logo is all about, "are those mermaid tits I'm looking at?" "No, that ain't a mermaid" you say, "it's a Siren?"   Wtf is a Siren and who names their business after the first mate on the Pequod?  You mean I have to read a classic novel about a whale to get this?  Too difficult.

And speaking of those Seahawks, who ever said dark blue, grey, and techo-puke green look good together.  But I tell you what those Seattle teams are so damn efficient it doesn't really matter how shitty the coffee tastes or how ugly the uniforms look; they will get you jacked up on a caffeine or a weak side blitz so quick your head will spin and you'll gladly plop down your $5 bill and get on with your life because they have RYanne's half caf/half chi soy macchiato down in 15 seconds (you do realize Starbucks baristas misspell your name on purpose).   Seattle also gives you multiple looks on defense and even more multipler blends of coffee!  Pike Place, House, Veranda, Yukon, French, Sumatran.... Omg, I just wanted coffee; I don't care if it's single origin or has notes of floral and herbs!  Well you better think quick and decide the line's moving as fast as a Richard Sherman pick-6, so out with it.  Wow, I think Seattle may move too fast for a slow witted guy like me.

In the other corner of the ring we have traditionalist Boston and it's beloved Dunkin Donuts.  Sure it sounds like they have nothing to do with coffee but in fact over 60% of Dunkin's annual sales come in the form of hot beverages and any New Englander loves that smooth medium roast of South American blends.  Yes Dunkin does in fact use Central and South American beans and gives them that medium roast that brings those beans to just the right slow and easy symphonic caramelization!  It is in fact that Medium Central/South American blend that most Americans grew up with at McDonalds and your average diner that served S&D coffee.  So that is why we probably feel so comfortable with their coffee and the Patriots in the Super Bowl every other year.

No, Dunkin' wasn't founded by Sam Adams and Paul Revere but starting in 1950 in Quincy, Mass it is rather colonial compared to it's Western rival.  And much like those football Patriots Dunkin is smooth and orderly.  No crazy mixtures here just one blend; a series of smooth Tom Brady short passes to Gronk and Amendola, meticulously progressing down the field in an orderly New England democratic fashion ready to meet the day.  If Seattle is bold and brassy, New England is elegant and refined in it's traditional austerity.

At just over 10,000 stores world-wide Dunkin is not quite as deep as Starbucks but they are very efficient.  I love the fact they put the cream and equal in the cup for you but don't misspell your name on the cup, try to sell you a kookie CD of Euro jazz, or try to confuse you with all those drinks that sound fantastic but are just various versions of coffee shots and steamed milk.

OK, so there you go, my football analysis of the two best coffee towns in the country.  How will that play out on the field.  I say Boston's smooth blend produces yards and first downs but Seattle's strong roasts keep the ball in front of them and keep the score down.  That ass kicking over-roasted running game of Marshawn Lynch will inevitably wear down the Pats.  I say Starbucks Seattle wins in a lower scoring game about 24-20.  I say the Pats score on one trick Coolata play and get a penalty for trying to change their football from a Grande to a Venti without the refs noticing!  :)

Btw, here is a big Ryan gripe; I hate it when people say "oohhh, I can't drink a latte; it is way too strong and way too much caffeine!"  I'm always thinking "you fool, it's a shot of coffee and steamed milk; it ain't as strong and not as much caffeine as regular coffee!"  I know, I'm a coffee snob.  But speaking of coffee the two best coffee blends I've ever tasted are Tanzanian Peaberry and Jamaica Blue Mountain.  Normally the coffee "cherry" has two seeds.  When only one seed is fertile then it develops without the other to "flatten" it.  The resulting Pea berry is more flavorful than the normal bean and produces a better coffee.  Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is so frickin' good it's the flavor base for Tia Maria liqueur!

Ooops, I just realized just like my sex posts with no sex, I've managed to write a food post without food.

But first I would be remiss without commenting about the team cheerleaders.  I have to say the SeaGals are just a tad hotter in my book, I think I like Brittany and Lisa Marie the best.  Lisa Marie wants to be a Pastry Chef and I think secretly wants me to be her Sous!

Well, I guess I better go ahead and do a recipe after all.  So have you ever wondered what to do with all those dang grounds after drinking all that coffee?  Did you realize those little specks of black dust can be useful?  Yes, they can actually make great fertilizer for stuff like tomatoes.  But if you just don't feel like brewing those grounds you can also use them for a dry rub

Coffee Dry Rub BBQ


6 Tbs          Ground Coffee
2 Tbs          Coarse Salt
2 Tbs          Paprika
2 Tbs          Brown Sugar
2 Tbs          Coarse Black Pepper
2 Tsp          Onion Powder
2 Tsp          Garlic Powder
1 Tsp          Coriander

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl until evenly mixed.  Rub mixture down vigorously over and into your favorite meat and let stand for at least an hour before slow roasting.  Now if you are Ryan and your favorite meat is, well you know!  Don't rub this mixture vigorously onto your meat; dang that coarse salt and pepper would hurt!  Rather, rub this onto a nice Pork Butt or maybe even a Boston Butt if you are a Patriots fan!

Have a nice Super Sunday!  If you need any Super Bowl recipe ideas here are my past Super Bowl Foods Posts:

Monday, January 26, 2015

When I See the Sign That Points One Way

So before I get to today's post I just have to say I can't wait for my next blow job because I can't wait to use those Ed Sheeran lyrics from his new song "will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?"  I know, I know, I've ruined the song for you now but that is the ridiculous stuff that twirls around my mind as I listen to XM radio anymore!  :)

The real Renee
It's seems I always come across gems on XM radio when I least suspect.  I was driving into the office this past Sunday morning to get some long term project work done in peace and quiet.  It was dreary and I was a little morose, still slowly stumbling back from a rare holiday illness.  My mood changed though when flipping through channels I arrived at "the Bridge (not one I listen to often)."  To my delight it was a past interview with Lowen & Navarro; obviously old as David Lowen tragically died of ALS almost three years ago.  At that moment David Lowen was talking about one of his favorite songs "Just Walk Away Renee" by orchestrated Baroque Pop pioneers the Left Banke.  The song was penned by the band's, then 16 year old, keyboard player Michael Brown.  Brown's lyrics are an ode to the unrequited love he felt for his bandmate's girlfriend Renee Fladen Kamm.  Fladen-Kamm would serve as Brown's muse on other Left Banke songs such as "Pretty Ballerina."

As Brown said of Renee "I was just sort of mythologically in love, if you know what I mean, without having evidence in fact or in deed.

It seems sometimes the story or simply the telling of the mythology is sometimes better than an anticipated act.  I had heard David Lowen tell the story of Brown and Renee at a concert many years ago back at Big State U.  Hearing him now retell the tale was like taking a quick therapeutic vacation to a warm happy memory.  My mood changed from morose to content and I savored the conversation.

In the XM radio interview David Lowen spoke of meeting Michael Brown in his hometown and walking the neighborhoods and streets of Brown's youth and talking about songwriting.  Lowen spoke of being stunned as Brown pointed to a "One Way" sign and mentioned the exact sites that were the set pieces of his lyrics.  Lowen said it was such a treat to peak into that window of Michael Brown's life, the life that produced the genesis of such lovely lyrics.  I wonder if it was similarly pleasing to Brown sharing the sites that created his stories with a friend and colleague.

At the risk of sounding dramatic I recently had such a moment.  One of my best blogging friends, the "text-tress" herself, Sassy of Same Sassy Girl (see her thoughts on our visit here) offered to pay my humble town a visit on the way back from a Thanksgiving holiday trek to the Midwest.  Now I don't think I'm giving ourselves away when I say my hometown does not lie along a congruent path within that line between her home and her Midwest destination.  But I had told her of the sites around my home and some of the great restaurants in the area so on a lark she decided to aim along a more Southern angle back toward the Eastern Seaboard and make this a layover on the way home.

I guess now is where you would expect the gratuitous wanton sex and debauchery to be listed out.  I suppose it could have happened and surely would have been enjoyable.  But as with Lowen and Brown and their time together I so wanted to show Sassy a glimpse into my world and the environment that inspires me and perhaps retell tales and revisit stories past enjoyed.  I tend to be a creature of my environment; some people have said this town suits me well and I suit it well.  I wanted my story to come to life for someone special to me so they might understand who I am and how I came to be.  And of course I wanted to attach real images to the stories I have come to know and enjoy telling so well.

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving and though the night was chilly it felt so warm to walk down the old stone stairs of that so familiar tavern where Sassy was finishing dinner with her hubby.  I pushed through the door as I have done so many times.  But this time a somewhat familiar face was there just inside to greet me.  I said "hi" and shook hands with hubby and then entered into the bar with Sassy as her husband left.  We ordered two drinks and then talked about nothing in particular; perhaps mostly how it was that we were now sitting next to one another for the first time and yet not so much as strangers.  I could only stay for one drink that evening as an emergency had given me cover as to why I had to linger in town behind the rest of the family who had just finished dinner at another restaurant.

The next morning ballet lessons gave me cause to come into town and about two hours to gleefully show Sassy the sites of my world.  I drove her through town showing her the coffee shops, bakery, and stores Sandee and I haunt.  We drove up to the heights above the river where we could see the trails Sandee and I walk and the place we launch into the river with her canoes.  I enjoyed showing my story now as much as I had enjoyed writing it.

We then went over to my office, sat, and chatted.  I was interested in Sassy's stories as well and more importantly hearing them through her lips and seeing the emotion the stories took from and imparted to her.  Her description of Phil tugged at my emotions, her stories of the funny men from AM that have flitted through her life brought a smile, and her connections to real people of the blogging world brought tranquility to me that so many of us are conducting similar journeys of discovery that we chart on these blogging maps we write.  For me Sassy has always seemed much like Valentine Michael Smith or even Moses as the proverbial "stranger in a strange land." Such a kind and caring women paddling through these odd waters of Ashley Madison seeing and describing the strange species of men passing alongside her boat and politely wondering what drives them.  Perhaps I wanted now to be one of those men for her to analyze and describe in one of her blog posts.  What would she say of me?  Oh let's be real, ego drives me to wonder what facial image she would use to depict me.  Perhaps us men who do flit around Sassy are much like those forgotten toys on that Island of Misfit toys seeing in themselves the hope of what they were meant to be yet always suffering some critical malady.  Perhaps they just wait for a tinker such as Sassy to mend them just a bit.  Yes maybe on her blog I will be a two dimensional character but for now I will be alive and real and she to me.

So reading stories and listening to songs is fun but one takes so much more meaning when hearing the story passing over the lips of it's author.  It was fun to show the moving pictures of my life to a friend or perhaps the ghostly remnant images of a secret life lived.  For me, much like David Lowen as he was listening to Michael Brown, it meant a lot to hear of Sassy's adventures from Sassy herself.

But perhaps I should just say in near conclusion:

"the empty sidewalks of my block are not the same.... you're not to blame."

So in tribute to Sassy I want to shamelessly steal from her genre and give you a little texting ying-yang of Ryan's world with Shannon and Sandee.  Texting is fascinating though.  It is raw and reactionary, driven by quick emotion and thus a true window into the naked soul our calculating cognitive minds may not wish to share with the greater world.  At least that sounds good, anyway here goes:

Ryan and Sandee (about a week ago on a very cold day)

Ryan - Did you get any sunbathing in today?

Sandee - Yeah I'd hate to see what it would of been like without all of the global warming

Ryan - That's the polar vortex from the ice caps melting.  It's like a tea cup and all the cold air spills over onto us!  At least that is what MSNBC says.  :)

Sandee - That's pretty scientific.  To us non-smart people we just say it's TOO DANG COLD!!

Ryan - True 'dat!  :)

Ryan - You need your sugar daddy to take you to Hawaii for your birthday!

Sandee - Ohhhh I sure do!  You can hire one to pretend to be mine.  I'll start packing tonight.

Ryan - I could see you paddle-boarding in Tahiti.

Sandee - I could see that too!  Or there's this realllly cool place in Puerto Rico where you can kayak through caves and at night you can see flourescent algae glowing!  Sighhhhh

Ryan - Let's invest in the lottery and go if we win!

Ryan - But if we go caving in Puerto Rico I don't want to get caught by organ harvesters!

Sandee - It's worth the risk, Ryan honey!  But I'll let them harvest me instead of you.  At least it will have been a great adventure & I'll die happy!!  :)

Ryan - Oh that could be fun what if they slipped my brain into a conservative body and your's into some liberal!  :)

*   note - Ryan is a left of center guy and Sandee is somewhat the tea-party gal but somehow they enjoy being the odd couple.

Ryan and Shannon (on-going) 

Shannon - Please call me

Ryan - I'm fine

Shannon - I'm 10 miles from Frederick

Ryan - Everything is good here

Shannon - (some minutes later) I'm on ***

Shannon - Is there really any point to me coming over now

Shannon - I am stuck in traffic!!! Not going anywhere, I am sure you are happy where you are

Ryan - We are fine,  ***** can take ******* to dance.  I'll stay and take ****** home.  I have to help out after the concert for a bit but ****** and I will get something to take home.

Shannon - This is what I'm doing, glad you are doing what you want to do  :(

Ryan - Do you want us to meet you somewhere for dinner?  Or pick something up for you?

Shannon - I don't want to go to CFA, I want to go somewhere that sells alcohol!

Shannon - that much I know for certain at this point.  How long is ******* staying.

Ryan - A little bit longer.

Shannon - I'll come on over then.

Ryan - You can just come in, I paid for you at the door.   ***** is taking money, she is expecting you.

Shannon - Well that's at least gracious of you, I'm surprised you are not demanding a check from me to pay for myself.

Shannon - Can you move the house about an hour closer to the airport?  Maybe then I'll sleep with you!

Oh well they a both great ladies and do present a rather alternative world view of Ryan!  :)

Some liner notes on Michael Brown:

*  Michael Brown was actually born Michael Lookofsky and is the son of Harry Lookofsky a well know New York violinist who did session work for Quincy Jones and George Benson and also played in Toscanini's NBC orchestra.  The elder Lookofsky co-produced the younger's hit "Just Walk Away Renee."  Collectively the Lookofsky's classic musical training helped drive the orchestral arrangements of the song.  The song "Just Walk Away Renee" was released in 1966 and that orchestral background conveniently coincided with the Beatles (Revolver) and the Beach Boy's (Pet Sounds) progression into a similar sound that very same year that created the Baroque Pop movement of the late 60's (also found in groups such as Procol Harum and the Moody Blues).

The Left Banke was short lived though only producing one more album in the 60's that did not chart.  Brown was not part of that album.  Oddly enough Michael Brown later landed in the band the Stories that hit #1 in 1973 with a cover of "Brother Louie," a funky tribute to a white boy's experience with an African American women that was very much a precursor to the Disco sound that would take over music in the later 70's from all those orchestral and singer/songwriter folks.  Go figure!   :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Here I Am Baby

Many of us have written about how hard it is to see that special someone over the holidays.  Families draw close, schedules are put on halt, patterns of behavior can't be followed not to mention the genuine obligation of making the time special for children.  It is a paradox, the most wonderful time of year but a time where your mind often wonders to the one you can't be with.  It also stinks to be sick over the holidays.  People are close and nobody wants to be around someone who is coughing and contagious.  And for the sick you certainly don't want to ruin anybody else's special time of year.

Both of our kids had gotten past their colds.  Thank goodness no flu so I thought we had gotten through the holidays with no major hitches.  But the day after Christmas I progressively felt worse.  I was able to go on a walk that evening but I knew a cold was coming.  No problem, I always come back quickly.  By the next morning it hit me hard.  Not much of a fever but fatigue and aches like I had been run over by large mammal.  I stayed away from everyone thinking this would go away in a day with rest and sleep.  It didn't.  By day two I was worse.  Shannon ordered me to urgent care and in fact I did have the flu.  I don't get sick, ever!  This double sucked.  The family couldn't get out of the scheduled vacation without major losses to earned points so I told them to go on.

Normally this wouldn't be so bad.  I had some projects to do around the house and I could see Sandee.  But with the flu how much of that could be accomplished.  I faced four days of being home alone with not much chance at any sort of fun.

By my third Tamiflu I was starting to feel better and started to get some projects done around the house.  I also watched way more TV than I'm accustomed too.  Thankfully I did have texting and Sandee and I enjoyed poking fun at my new found addition to chick flicks.  I told her I watched Silver Lining Playbook, Divergent, and a few others.  She said it was good I was getting in touch with my feminine side.  We enjoy poking fun at each other that way.  I asked her if she was partying on New Year's Eve and she said no.  Rather, she said she was going to go kayaking at sunset to see the first sunrise of the year.

I asked her if she needed a first mate.  She said it might be too cold for me, I could get sicker.  I told her that she had once told me cold doesn't make you sick.  She texted back "you guys are all the same always turning my words against me."  We tease a lot, it's just part of our schtick!  I left it alone but I thought I might surprise her the next morning and show up.

That is what is nice about knowing someone.  When Sandee says she is going kayaking I know where she means, I know her place (or shall I say our place).

I woke up at 6 am on New Year's Day and got ready.  Still a little slow but feeling good for the first time in about four days.  I stopped by Dunkin Donuts and got two coffees and two muffins and drove to the river.  The sun was just peaking out above the river as I drove across the bridge.

There she was, so beautiful.  She was already in the water and she had not brought a second boat.  I just watched her.  She eventually saw me as she was paddling back.  She smiled bashfully.  She probably didn't appreciate not knowing I was coming.  She was not as made up as normal but I didn't care, she was as beautiful as I've always known her to be.

As she stepped out of her kayak she giggled and said "I guess you are feeling better?"

I said, "yes I believe I am contagion free."

She said "no chick flicks on this morning?"

I smiled and said "no."

I offered her the coffee and she thankfully took it from me cradling the hot cup and bringing it to her rosy cheeks.  She thanked me for the gift, she is always so appreciative of the smallest things.  It makes me want to be sweet for her.

She stepped toward me and I hugged her and kissed the top of her head.  She looked up at me.  I said I should probably not kiss you.  She looked disappointed but still very glad to see me.

We put her boat up and walked along the trail for some time talking about nothing in particular.  The wind was chilling and crisp but invigorating against the golden sun bounding sparkles off the choppy water of the river.  It felt good to see 2015 rise above us and it felt good to be with her on this first morning of the year.