Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wanted Dead or On Time

Dear Mr. Jovi,

My wife, having grown up largely in the 80s, is a huge fan of yours. As such, I bought her some concert tickets for Valentine's Day -- OK, OK, she picked them out, but I paid for them, and as I occasionally like to say after buying someone a nice gift, it's the money that counts. I was also excited about the concert, having spent way too much of my college and post-college life watching the Young Guns movies, a series in which you've played a part. As far as I can tell, you try your best to leave it out there for all of your fans, so I thought I'd offer a little feedback from one of your biggest fans (by weight).

Let's start -- as the concert did -- with the bad. The concert actually would have started pretty strong if only it had started on time. I understand your time is valuable. I understand that you want to let people who also have no respect for my time show when they will and still make it to their seats in plenty of time for your first raging guitar licks. I understand that every minute you aren't yet on stage you make a killing on concessions and merch. I don't care. Start on time. If you can't start on time, start within 15 minutes. If you are going to wait until 55 minutes after your scheduled start time, either get an opening act or offer me a partial refund. It would also be nice if you would start the concert with a song I had heard of. I know some people had heard of it. I'm not here to represent them. I'm looking out for number one, which in this case was my wife who also hadn't heard that song. I could probably look it up and figure out what it was, but it wasn't good enough for me to care about.

I liked that even in St. Louis they sold some non-
In-Bev beer, which is always a plus for me. I actually think Brett Michaels may have sold it to me, so plus one to you for staying more relevant. Your second song, "Bad Name" was rocking because I knew it, but fell a little flat because you didn't. I realize you have a lot of songs and lyrics to remember, but you've been singing this one since before the Simpsons went on the air, try to remember the words. Perhaps you just took your pre-trans-Atlantic flight Xanax too early? Either way, the "watermelon, watermelon" routine plays out significantly better in a karaoke bar than in front of a "new attendance record" crowd.

There were some things that were really awesome. When you had everyone sing the first verse of "Wanted" (singing all of the right words) it was really pretty stinking cool. I think it was "Wanted" anyway. It's been like a week.

It was also really, really impressive when you broke into some songs that weren't yours. "Pretty Woman", "Twist and Shout", and "Takin' Care of Business" all added a little something to the evening. And they really, really underscored what a showman you really are.

My favorite part was probably when you showed a montage of YouTube people rocking out to "Living on a Prayer" while you were singing "Living on a Prayer". It was just cool, it showed some fun and some technical savvy. After the slow start (and in spite of the keyboard player whose perm -- and the fact that he still plays the keyboard -- really made it seem like he was still living in the 80's) you brought the crowd to life by working so hard that by the end I was no longer all that pissed off that you started AN HOUR LATE which is no small feat considering how pissy I get about things happening late.

The one thing I can't forgive you for is not bringing along Richie Sambora, if just for I'll Be There For You. I don't care who you brought in to play guitar (he seemed perfectly serviceable), but if you aren't bringing Richie on tour (which I recognize was his own fault), you'd better bring a backup choir to just hit that part after you sing "I wish I'd seen you blow those candles out." It's blatantly un-American to not have that part rock out.

In closing, I'd just like to thank you for coming to St. Louis and rocking it out. But if you ever come back and you start on time I'm going to kill you (because I'm showing up an hour late).



P.S. If you could shave a couple bucks off of the beers that'd be super, too. $10 for 16 ounces of Miller Lite is a little steep for a "working man's" show.

P.S.S. If you ever talk to the girl who was sitting next to me who stood up and danced the whole time, please let her know I'm not mad at her, I'm just old and not a woman and so I wanted to sit down in the seat she was dancing in front of which just so happened to be mine. You can say bumping out a dancing girl ain't rock-and-roll. I'd say $60 for nosebleed seats isn't rock-and-roll either.

This may help you recognize her.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Beefy Jerky Roundup

First of all, please give us lots and lots of credit for not including the word "off" in the title of this post.

Second, let's thank the good folks at A Couple o' Jerks for sponsoring this review with $8 worth of dehydrated meat.

Third, let's get started. After over 50 posts and about 8 months of doing this blogging thing, this will be our first tandem post.

John: When the Twitter conversation arrived on my feed, little did I know I'd be in for such a mouthwatering experience. The guys over at A Couple o' Jerks were so quick to get their meat out the door that it was at my house within 3 days of the first tweet. That tells me they stand by their product and give a crap about what they are doing. Also, Customer Service like what they've shown always makes the end product taste better (It also helps that their Meat Factory is based here in St. Louis). I think this is why I am still on the fence about Steak n Shake over the last 20 years. I've had some bad customer service experiences there and I am still not sure if their food really does it for me.

I ordered the Original/Spicy version. I figured that the original would be the baseline for how they go about doing their Jerky. Kind of like Fajitas to a Mexican Restaurant or Gen Tso's chicken to a Chinese place. When the package arrived I was immediately drawn to the colorful wrapping but didn't take too much time to admire it because I wanted to whet my whistle.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Spicy Goodness"][/caption]

The flavor was great. It had a good kick to it. Not overly spicy but just enough that I am glad I had some water close by. One thing about the texture of the jerky really stood out. It was actually real dehydrated meat. I have had other jerkys in the past where the meat was almost smooth and seemed to be covered by some thin shiny layer of something. You can really tell this is the real deal.

After I had taken the initial piece out I did notice that I should keep it refridgerated and eat withing 3 days. This was not going to be an issue and the rest of my delicious goodie bag was gone at lunch the next day.

I was so inspired by this Beef Jerky that it questioned me to write about a fight between Beef Jerky & Bacon. I feel weird rating this beef jerky on our sandwich scale but think instead that this beef jerky should be imortalized on its own sandwich. It can be used in the same application as bacon, but feel there are limitless possibilities in this area.

Jamie: I agree it was good, and indeed some of the better jerky I've ever had. I got the same flavor (our coordination skills still leave something to be desired) because I wanted to know how hot was hot (and also I wasn't gonna review anything tagged as "Wimpy").

I actually thought the spice was really, really good. Not too salty, not too hot, and plenty of actual flavor. I really hate stuff that is hot just for the sake of being hot. Most chicken wing places get that wrong. I'm not in a tough guy competition with myself. I like spice, but I'd rather not chap my lips and put my tongue up on blocks for two days just to feel manlier.

Being totally dedicated to my craft, though, I made sure to have three other adults sample the bag. They each took one piece, said it was good but too spicy for them, and then ate the rest of the bag throughout the course of the evening.

To my esteemed colleagues point about texture, I agree that it was refreshing to not have something sausagey or slimy - that isn't true beef jerky. That said, I do prefer my jerky a little jerkier. Eating a whole bag (minus three pieces) didn't even wear my jaw out.

Both in Harmony: We really dig this Beefy Jerky. The guys that run the place are awesome and their end product is delicious. Can we have a tour of the Jerky mill? We will bring the beer.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Calming the f' down - A book review

I can be a pretty uptight guy. That may surprise some of you who have known me for a long time since I didn't use to be that way. Heck, in college, I used to leave my truck keys hanging by the front door of the fraternity house in case anyone ever needed to borrow it (and did they ever). But some combination of age, responsibility, family, and Lord knows what else has really wound me up.

This isn't to say that I necessarily dislike this version of me. I'm more responsible, I make better decisions generally, and it's very seldom that I find myself waking up on a strange couch on a strange front porch with no recollection of how I got there. On the downside, however, is occasionally raging out at my kids. And I don't like doing that. I think I've basically just convinced myself that if I can't train them to be on time, listen the first time, and be able to sit quietly for hours at a time I will have somehow have failed as a father. With my kids, that can be an especially tall order.

When I first saw the book Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids by Bryan Caplan, I immediately thought "There's a book I definitely don't need." After reading a little into it, though, I immediately pre-ordered the Kindle version (which is totally out of character for me mostly because I'm cheap and would rather wait for the paperback -- at the library) hoping that it would be able to convince me that I could calm down a little, and I think it did a pretty good job. The basic premise that I latched onto was that nurture just doesn't play that big a role in how children turn out. That mortifies some people (I'm assuming those with bad genes) because it means you are wasting a lot of time. I found it to be a huge relief, because I could stop freaking out so much all the time and let my kids be kids, and not spend all of their time trying to please me in my quest to make them be perfectly responsible adults.

A second key to the book is that the one thing that will stick with your children is being a total monster to them. So, yelling at them won’t make them better adults, just adults who will resent you more. Fortunately, the stress of constantly yelling will probably kill you before they give you grandkids, so at least from that angle it’s lose-lose-lose.

As far as recommending the book, I'll have to be honest and say it isn't the best read. The statistics in it are dumbed-down and high-level all at the same time, and as they are presented in the book I'm not sure they'd be much help if you aren't at least a little versed in the discipline (of course, you can always just accept that the author is giving you a fair assessment - to my opinion he usually is). The writing style is a little wordy. I think it could have been half the length and just as convincing, but there's no money in 25 page books so I'll forgive him. The logic is pretty sound, the assumptions are largely safe, and the quotes he throws in are absolutely fantastic (they may in fact be the best part of the book).

I think the biggest letdown is that I don't know that after reading his Freakonomics post and the bit in USA Today that I'd still have needed to read the book -- he gives away the best parts and saves the pure statistics and deeper economics for the book. So, if you are willing to take his word for it, you could save yourself ten bucks, but if you are on the edge and need the extra persuasion, it is money well spent. Since I've heard about the book, my relationship with every one of my children has improved significantly, my marriage is running smoother, and I haven't felt this relaxed since right before I woke up on that couch. Not to say I never get worked up, but I get way less worked up way less often, and I do generally at least consider whether I should do that or not.

In sum, I'll give the book, for its pure entertainment value, a Roast Beef, but I'll give the change it made in my family a Cuban with Smoked Provolone.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bacon vs. Beef Jerky

I am not sure where this is going, but my business partner mentioned something about Beef Jerky to me on Twitter. Specifically, "A Couple O' Jerk's" Beef Jerky. Which I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of their meat in the mail and will have a full report once it arrives.  Anyway it got me thinking about how much I really enjoy Beefy Jerky in general and how it goes overlooked in my snacking decisions. As I fell farther into my Beef Jerky haze, I went on further to ponder what food to me is most like Beef Jerky and no matter how I compared it, I kept winding up at Bacon. At this point I was so deep in thought and hungry that I start halucinating about a war between Beef Jerky and Bacon and who would win. The more and more I thought about this epic battle I kept thinking that Beef Jerky could actually win. Blasphemy.  Without being able to tell anyone about this battle in my head, I felt that a well thought out blog about the war of all food wars would be appropriate. So, I'd like to take the next few minutes of your life to gather my thoughts and get your opinion. So, in no particular order, here are the contestants in the Cured Meat Battle Royale.

[caption id="attachment_503" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Nobody puts Beef Jerky in the Corner"]Beefy Jerky[/caption]


  • Tastes Delicious

  • Portable

  • Affordable

  • the most accessible meat product in the world

  • Healthy in moderation

  • User Friendly no cooking required = no clean up

  • A variety of flavors (Teryaki, Spicy, Original, Slim Jim)


  • Not meal-worthy

  • Can't wrap other meats with it

  • Does not play well with TMJ

  • Along with Pork Rinds it might have the most Whiskey Tango association of all foods. I would use the term "Hoosier" here but that term doesn't translate from Missouri to Indiana well.

[caption id="attachment_502" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="I must Destroy Beefy Jerky"][/caption]


  • Delicious

  • Said to "make everything taste better"

  • Smells great (according to me)

  • Pairs well with other meats

  • Kevin

  • Baconian Method

  • Transcends the gap between Fast Food and Fine Dining

  • Can be used at any meal

  • cultural phenomenon


  • Waiting time to cook & eat

  • Makes our house stink (according to my wife)

  • Messy Clean up

  • Kevin

  • Not very portable

  • Turkey Bacon

  • Maple Cured

So there you have it. I am still at a loss at literally pondering over this for a couple hours. It's now time to voice your opinion and let it be known who wins.

[polldaddy poll=5062694]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stay classy, San Diego

Here's the transcript of a conversation I had while I was in San Diego for the first time last week.
Me: Wow, this hotel is gorgeous. Did you know that when you ask for a wake-up call they offer to bring you coffee and fresh fruit for free?

Other Party 1: I did not know that, but it's pretty cool.

Me: And it is so close to the beach. I walked down there for lunch yesterday and ate fish tacos and watched people surf.

Other Party 1: Yep, the beach is close and it's amazing.

Me: Yeah, I spent a week at a Cancun resort and it wasn't anything like this. FYI, the whole Fish Taco/surfer voyeur thing has always been my Pacific Coast fantasy.

Other Party 1: OK, that's pushing creepy, but I appreciate your enthusiasm. Please excuse me while I was away hep-ly..

Me: And it is gorgeous. This morning it was foggy and pushing the limits of chilly, but not "uncomfortable"-chilly, just sort of "I recognize some people would consider this chilly"- chilly.

Other Party 2: Yeah, people here call this "May Daze" and sometimes "June Gloom" because it's about as bad as the weather gets here.

Me: You people are selfish jerks. You should bask in this all the time.

Other Party 2: Being from here and with nothing in my entire life to be upset about, I'm gonna let that slide.

Me: Even you people are amazing. I haven't seen ANYONE here who even looks gassy, much let upset.

Other Party 2: What can I say? The weather is beautiful, the ocean is beautiful.

Me: And the food is amazing. I tried oysters here the other day for the first time and I nearly wet my pants. I had a Stone IPA and nearly wet my pants. I had 8 more, and I did wet my pants.* Why don't more people move out here?

Other Party 3: People like to visit, but we do have relatively high housing prices.

Me: This is too perfect. You are all vampires, aren't you? And San Diego is nothing but a huge nest to lure people here to visit and then you eat them, isn't it?

Other Party 3: Yes. We've figured out how to live in the sun and not be all stupid like those Twilight jerks. Fortunately for you, this is So Cal and we try to be low-fat, so you should be OK to make it back to the airport.

Me: That's rude, but it's true, and I've been here long enough to relax and take it easy. Can I have another one of those Stone's?

*Note: I didn't actually wet my pants, but if I had I wouldn't have been upset about it. It's literally impossible to not smile the whole time you are there. It's like they put Xanax in the water supply.

This is what a Wake Up call should look like

Friday, May 13, 2011

The All-Inclusive Manifesto

Recently just got back from a trip to Secrets Silversands in Cancun, Mexico (the trip was second best thing I got for Christmas), and I left feeling somewhat conflicted about the experience. As a result, I'm giving myself some rules to live by on my next all-inclusive vacation. Please note that not all of the following points are based on my own behavior.

  • I will recognize that "All-Inclusive", for all intents and purposes, means "Largely-Inclusive". Regardless of how much the website and travel agents tell me that tipping is "optional", I will bring a couple hundred bucks in the smallest bills I can find because I don't want to spend all freaking week being the only a-hole standing at the bar dying of thirst while 4 or 5 bartenders somehow manage to not make eye contact with me while I am the only person standing there. I will never again be frustrated by generally appalling service on a trip that cost a couple of thousand dollars just to save a couple of hundred dollars. My principles aren't worth it. Tipping in this case is protecting my investment.

  • If I am going to Nair my back (which I really should do; other people have paid to come here and see nature at its finest), I will be fully prepared to itch like a mofo when the hair starts growing back in through my peeling sunburn.

  • When I first book my trip, I will do some sort of little upgrade. I will pay the extra $200 to be a member of the "preferred club" or to have a swim-out or an ocean-view or something. The way it works is, nobody pays for all of that stuff, so in order to have enough room for everyone they have to bump some people up. They start bumping by who has already paid the most. Not paying anything extra really hurts my chances at a free upgrade.

  • I will use the Do Not Disturb sign. Literally like 7 staff members will come to my room every day. They come to clean the room. They come to bring a paper. They come to stock the mini-bar. They come to stock the coffee and snacks. They come to make sure they didn't miss anything when they stocked the mini-bar. They come to turn down my bed. Oddly, they never seem to come when I am at dinner, or even within 15 minutes of each other. I am on vacation. I may want to... take a nap... or something...  that I don't want anyone walking in on. I will use the Do Not Disturb sign. Especially on my birthday.

  • I won't spring for the romantic dinner on the beach. It's nice, but not $200 nice, and the food is cooked by the exact same hands that cook the free food. Instead, I will put on some linen pants, order some room service and sit on my ocean-view patio to eat it, then walk down to the beach.

  • In certain locales, it is perfectly acceptable (encouraged in fact) to avoid unsightly tan lines. I won't get caught looking and ruin it for everybody.

  • I realize I came to an all-inclusive to not spend extra money. That said, taking a day trip to someplace like this might be the highlight of my trip. Not all day trips are worth it (this one was really expensive, but awesome) but I might want to at least LOOK.

  • I will spoil myself with a pedicure. I'm not even gonna blame it on my wife. My tootsies deserve it.

  • I will leave myself lots of time to check out on the last day, especially if I have charged anything to my room. I recognize that some people will smile at me, tell me my coupons were applied, charge my card in foreign currency, then let me do the math in my head while waiting on my airport shuttle only to realize I was overcharged by like 20% to then have to explain to someone that my coupons really weren't applied and then stand there while my driver (hopefully) looks at his watch while I make everyone late.

Not being one to do all of the work, I've written a few rules for the people I run into when I get back as well.

  • When you see me and find out I've been in the tropics. Don't remark on how tan I'm not. You can't expect to overcome years in a cubicle with one week in the sun (under SPF 50 sunscreen).

  • Yes, I am aware that is possible to go on vacation and spend approximately 5% what I did. I don't care. I get out about once a decade, and I don't feel like Pricelining my trip and risk ending up in either of these roles.

Hopefully these rules can help you have a great time on your vacation as much as they'll help me. I had a great time, but if I had known then what I know now, it would have been ever better.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Cinco De Mother’s Birthday

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The immortal words of Ferris Bueller ring true even more so now than they did when I first heard them in 1986. Its funny how daily activities can just pile up on you when you least expect it, and when these activities pile up, they can drop you like a ton of bricks. Last week was one of these times when life kicked me in the pants and told me to slow down.

Thursday marked the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in which my family takes pretty seriously. Ok not really seriously but we do make an effort to at least have some margaritas, go to a restaurant or friend’s house, and celebrate. Also our kids have been learning about it at school and its kind of like another Halloween for them where they can be socially acceptable in a sombrero. We celebrated with my wife’s sister and family at their house. Really quick I don’t want to paint their house as a rodeo or anything, but we have 2 kids & they have 4. So,  any situation with more than 2 kids is, in my eyes, chaotic (rude awakening coming for me in October). So to cope with the inflated craziness of having more children around we celebrated our non-existent Mexican heritage and I ate too much food & probably had a few too many Margaritas..... and white wine. Nothing where I couldn’t get up in the morning but enough to make 6am feel like 4am.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and we are celebrating my youngest daughter’s 3rd birthday with 17 of her closest friends . Please defer to my ruling on groups of children totaling more than 2. It made my sister in law’s house look like the library. It was madness. Lots of donuts, juice, and coffee everywhere. I was contemplating doubling up on my prescription mood enhancing drugs for the event, but opted not to. I will say that morning parties are waaay better than evening parties when it comes to kid parties. We were cleaned up and all over by 11:30am and had the rest of the day to rest. Not really we had to get ready for Saturday night. Saturday night we went out with a group of friends as we had some folks in from Belgium that we wouldn’t get to see for awhile. So yet again a day of party food and a night of lots of dinner food, and booze.

[caption id="attachment_492" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Protecting my daughter's annonymity"]Protecting my daughter's annonymity[/caption]

Then we arrive on Sunday. Mother’s Day and my daughter’s actual birthday. Déjà vu all over again. It’s another big day for my wife’s family as we celebrate Mother’s day & 3 birthday parties at the same time. So we have yet again the perfect storm for crazy: more than 2 kids, lots of wonderful food, and a little bit of wine to finish it off.

At the end of Sunday I could tell that I was spent and even more so on Monday at work I was at 75% at best. So, why is it that we cram our events all together or is this just one of those “bad timing” things? I haven’t figured it out yet on either front. I am as social as they come and I do well in situations like these, but I just don’t have the reserves in the tank to keep it going for more than 1 day per week. Don't tell me that I am just getting old and all that because I am probably in better shape now than I have ever been. Also, am I the only one who doesn’t have a “Hey Dude Your Are Full” mechanism when I am at parties? I really think I consume 3 times as many calories via food when I have had 2 or more drinks. I know booze is supposed to inhibit your sensations etc but in all fairness to myself, my stomach just doesn’t feel full and there’s no warning light that comes on when I’ve hit my max. I need some help in this regard. So any advice that doesn’t involve drinking more or taking more medication so I’m not hungry would be appreciated. That's it. I am just trying to find some insight into why we (the royal we not just my family) put so much stuff upon ourselves.

Thanks for reading we've got more good stuff coming out on Friday. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Apples and Oranges

While we all know that all kids are different, some are even more different than others.

Here is how my 3 year old has recently taken to eating oranges (he is the only one of my children who likes any that aren't canned in heavy syrup).

Pay no attention to the Easter baskets that still haven't been put away.

 He asks me to peel them, and then he just eats them like an apple.
Pretty soon I'm gonna have to just teach him to eat over the sink like a grown man.
The whole thing reminds me of K-Pax. Whatever makes them eat their fruits and veggies, I guess.