Pardon Me, But Your Knee Is On Fire


Ron's Blog

My friend Brian and I were both limping on the same leg. What I mean is, HE was limping on HIS right leg and I was limping on MINE. Or maybe it was his left. Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

Brian claims his limp is from an old football injury that occasionally flares. I think he slipped in some buffalo wing sauce during Super Bowl halftime. No, wait. Brian is British. Make that World Cup and malt vinegar. I finally went to a doctor and found out what my problem was. Osteoarthritis. But I am getting ahead of my story.

We hobbled around for about a week and things did not seem to be getting any better. It finally got serious when neither one of us could make it up the stairs of our favorite Chinese Pub (is that an oxymoron?). The pub is in the basement, so we were trying…

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Ginger or Mary Ann?


Ron's Blog

Article first published as Politically Correct Gingerbread on Blogcritics.

I had fun doing research for this article. My entire ten minutes was wasted, however, as I’m writing about the hot and spicy root plant called ginger, and not Ginger, the hot and spicy castaway from Gilligan’s Island.

Be that as it may, I did discover I’m somewhat in the minority. It seems Mary Ann consistently outpolls Ginger in which-one-do-you-prefer competitions. In support of Ginger, let me just refer you to this wonderful 1957 recording of Tina Louise singingIt’s Been a Long Time.

Chinese love ginger. I also think some of them may get a perverse pleasure out of tricking me into sucking on a mouthful of it. My first experience was on a bus during a school field trip to the China countryside. Somebody was passing around a bag of ginger candy and WOWEE! Chunks of ginger are not…

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National Chocolate Day


Chocolate Rose

Chocolate Rose

The list of U.S. federal holidays seems a rather odd assortment. It appears to be mostly about finding a politically correct excuse for a day off with pay. The list is as follows: New Years Day, Martin Luther King Junior Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The first one and the last two seem to be the only legitimate holidays to my way of thinking.

As a kid, I used to look forward to the start of the “holiday season.” In my mind, the first big holiday was Halloween, followed about a month later by Thanksgiving, and then a month after that was Christmas. It was a glorious stretch of freedom from school, combined with presents, combined with all sorts of sweet things for the tummy. By the time New Year’s Day rolled around we actually looked forward to getting back to school and seeing our classmates again!

I remember January being a long, cold month with not much to look forward to except Valentine’s Day the middle of February. Then, a bit later in March or April came Easter. After that it was all about hanging in there until the last day of school. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the Fourth of July which is mostly about picnics in the park and fireworks.

The one essential ingredient for any holiday is good food. If you asked a kid, he or she would most likely boil it down even further to candy – and more specifically chocolate! Therefore, I propose that the government declare one more federal holiday – National Chocolate Day! What do you think?

Got Hot Pot?


Hot Pot is especially popular in China during the winter months.

China Bride Blog

Tsingtao Beer Tsingtao Beer

The other day I was reading something called a “book.” While reading this book, I stumbled across an interesting factoid. (All I have time for anymore-just the factoids, ma’am.) The author was of the opinion that Peking Man was the first hominid to use fire. We know this because we have his left molar in a box somewhere.

Which got me to thinking. If there is a Peking Man, shouldn’t there also be a Peking Woman? I wonder what kind of recipes she has to share? I’m pretty sure Peking Man was too busy at the hunting and gathering office to actually cook.

So I got a copy of the Chinese Telephone Book and started looking. It took a long time as you can well imagine. I did find a listing for Peking Tom, but the number was disconnected.

I searched and searched. But alas, could not find…

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Benjamin Franklin, Time Traveler


 

That probably isn’t Ben Franklin in the video, but it makes for a great headline for my post. On the other hand, it could be him. I’ve heard rumors of his, uh, cross-dressing. Anyway, as a screenwriter I claim first dibs on the movie title.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a wonderful movie last night called About Time. If you are growing weary of big-budget, story-less blockbusters of late, this little movie is a delightful change of pace.

Even before last night’s movie, however, I was pondering the curious nature of time. For example, wouldn’t it be great if time were like a roll of toilet paper? You could pull off exactly what you need and then roll back the rest for future use. Guess where I came up with that idea.

They say that “time and tide wait for no man.” And while this may be true, at least tide gets a chance to retrace it’s path. Now wouldn’t it be cool if we could do that? While we are on the subject of water, there are actually a lot of time and water metaphors. Here’s a good one:

“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”

Marcus Aurelius

By the way, did you know the world’s largest river once flowed in the opposite direction? Nice segue, huh? My point is that if something can alter the direction of the mighty Amazon, perhaps the inexorability of time is, well, exorable.

Of course, far greater minds have grappled, and are still grappling with the theoretical possibility of time travel. And, just to make things interesting, there are those that argue that time may not exist at all!

I am starting to get a headache, so I think I will end pretty much as I began by talking about movies. If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise. When I first started to watch it I almost turned it off. I thought the story was headed in a stupid direction. I was wrong.

Pardon Me, But Your Knee Is On Fire


My friend Brian and I were both limping on the same leg. What I mean is, HE was limping on HIS right leg and I was limping on MINE. Or maybe it was his left. Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

Brian claims his limp is from an old football injury that occasionally flares. I think he slipped in some buffalo wing sauce during Super Bowl halftime. No, wait. Brian is British. Make that World Cup and malt vinegar. I finally went to a doctor and found out what my problem was. Osteoarthritis. But I am getting ahead of my story.

We hobbled around for about a week and things did not seem to be getting any better. It finally got serious when neither one of us could make it up the stairs of our favorite Chinese Pub (is that an oxymoron?). The pub is in the basement, so we were trying to go home. There might be another reason we couldn’t make it up the stairs. But I digress.

Finally, Brian suggested we get a Chinese Fire Treatment. His ex-girlfriend is part owner of a tea shop on the other side of Guangzhou. Apparently, they do fire treatments in the back room. I know what you’re thinking, but let’s not go there. Actually, that’s what I said to Brian. And I quote, “let’s not go there.”

Chinese Fire Treatment

Chinese Fire Treatment

So the next afternoon Brian picked me up in his Buick. Yes, he drives a car in China. Buicks are very popular here because they are American. But I digress again. Re-digress?

Now, let’s examine the situation, shall we? What my friend and I were heading out to do was get ourselves lit on fire in the back room of his EX-girlfriend’s tea shop. Sound like fun? You betcha.

We arrived at the tea shop without incident. We had the obligatory Gong Fu Tea out front. Then it was time for the fire treatment. Since there were two of us, Brian went in first. Fine with me. Then it was my turn. When I went into the back room, Brian was alive and resting on a narrow massage table with his knee wrapped tightly. He gave me the thumbs up.

Now, all evidence to the contrary, I am not a complete idiot. I did have the foresight to wear shorts instead of long pants. That way, I could keep my pants on and preserve my dignity as I ran flaming out of the building. I must re-digress again. If you are reading this—which I assume you are—and you are British, then I was wearing short trousers, since you people mistakenly think that shorts means underwear.

Anyway, treatment began with some magic Chinese formula—Ben Gay, which is Chinese for “Are you out of your mind?” Actually, it wasn’t Ben Gay, but whatever it was, she slathered it all over my knee. Next, she wrapped my knee in several small towels and let me rest a bit while the magic Chinese formula soaked in.

Now, here is the part where you need to remember the famous quote from George Washington as he stood in the boat crossing the frozen Delaware river at two in the morning. “Kids, don’t try this at home!” Rubbing alcohol. I think that’s what it was. I don’t read Chinese labels so well. She soaked the towels with it and then took one of those long lighters, you know, the kind you use to start your backyard grill. She took one of those and lit the towels on fire.

I didn’t feel anything at first. But then, my knee began to warm up. About the time I was ready to panic, she deftly threw more towels over my flaming knee and the fire went out. After a while, she repeated the entire process. Then she wrapped my knee, towels and all, in plastic wrap. I’m guessing this part of the traditional treatment was added after plastic wrap was invented.

And that was it. Brian and I drank more tea and rested while the heat soaked in. Kind of like using an electric heating pad. Wait a minute… what a great idea!

The Fifth Taste


Article first published as Umami Baby! on Blogcritics.

Remember when the earth was flat? Life was simpler then. Three channels and always something to watch. Then color was invented, life got more complicated, and now they tell me my tongue needs upgrading. Who knew? I blame Walt Disney.

Sweet, salt, sour and bitter – only four kinds of taste buds. All you sweet buds over on that side of the tongue. Salt buds over here. Bitter buds, you go that direction and sour buds, you go… excuse me? Umami? You’re not from around here are you?

To be truthful, I’d heard rumors of a possible five. But I thought it was just crazy talk. Sure, there’s spicy. Mexican food is spicy. And so is kung pao chicken when you get one of this little red things by mistake.

But I never considered spicy to be a flavor. This umami thing took me completely by surprise. And they tell me umami isn’t even spicy, it’s, well, it’s savory. Whatever that means.

If this is the first you’ve heard of it, then I know it’s a shocker. But nobody says you have to get the transplant today. Let’s just read the brochure and think about it. I’ve heard there’s a shortage of penta-tongues anyway.

I’ve given it some thought, and I think I have a plan to nip this thing in the bud. Get it? Nip it in the bud. LOL. Basically, we have two options: (1) We can kick out bitter or (2) We can wear them down with ridiculous suggestions.

Option One: Kick out bitter. The choice is obvious. We need sweet to make coffee drinkable in the morning, salt to put on potato chips and sour, because, well because a lot of kids like that awful tasting candy. But bitter? What’s it good for? I looked it up.

The best thing you can say about bitter is that it let’s you know when you’ve taken poison. Believe me, taste is the last thing you should worry about if you have poison in your mouth.

So, if they accept our offer to kick out bitter and replace it with umami then we’ll still have four. Granted, not the original four. But how many rock bands still tour with all of their original members, huh?

If they don’t go for Option One then we hit ’em with Option Two. The first thing we should offer up is spicy. Only I think we should insist on calling it caliente. That would give us not five, but six tastes.

And then, just as they’re about to sign the paperwork, we hit ‘em with dorito. Catch my drift? And then, what about glow-in-the-dark? You know, the flavor of non-dairy liquid cheese food you put on nachos at 7-11. We might have to shorten it a bit. Maybe call it glowlicious.

So what do you think? Do we have a plan? Great! I think we should celebrate. Have some wine. Pardon? Do I think it tastes oaky? You mean, like from Muskogee?

Hurrah for the (please make your selection) Pie!


Article first published as Hurrah for the (Your Selection Here) Pie! on Blogcritics.

I have a confession. I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie. My favorite is apple. Hot, deep dish apple, to be precise. With vanilla ice cream. Two scoops.

This article isn’t really about pie, however. I’ll tell you in a minute what this article is about as soon as I figure out what this article is about. Let’s go with the pie theme for now.

According to my source (starts with G and ends with oogle) pumpkin pie is well down the list at number eight. No big surprise to me that apple is number one, followed by chocolate, coconut, pecan, berry, key lime, lemon, pumpkin, cherry, and banana cream at number ten.

But this is all a little, uh, fruitless. Gee, too bad I don’t have a pie chart to show you. Anyway, enough of that.

What I really want to discuss is THE song. You know –  the ONLY Thanksgiving Carol in existence. There’s an endless supply of CHRISTMAS Carols, but just ONE Thanksgiving Carol. Plenty of Thanksgiving HYMNS, but you can’t sing those in a public school assembly, now can you?

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. Is it Grandma’s house or Grandpa’s house? Because I found lyrics for both. Let’s just pretend they’re still married and the house is in both their names. Which is pretty unusual for this day and age, but we’re pretending okay?

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow. This family REALLY wants to avoid TSA, huh? No intrusive searches or scans for them!

Yadda, yadda, yadda. Then something about Grandma’s cap. Hurrah for the fun is the pudding done, hurrah for the pumpkin pie. I like their priorities – dessert first!

Actually, I love this song. It paints a Norman Rockwell picture in our heads of a time and place that few of us have ever been to, but I’ll bet most of us would like to experience. At least once. The problem with the song is that it seems to be the only one.

Come on everybody! Let’s all gather around the piano and sing THE song. Pull yourself up out of the bloated coma you’ve fallen into. Find the mute button on the remote. What’s the score? Pause the Xbox for half a minute. Let’s all sing the ONLY Thanksgiving Carol in existence.

Hey folks – this is America. We need more Thanksgiving Carols! Your assignment is to come up with some. I’ll meet you back here next year to see how you’ve done.

Happy Thanksgiving.