Monthly Archives: July 2008

Hey, you gonna eat that?

Good. Because I ain’t.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an infuriatingly picky eater. I. Don’t. Like. Anything. (Or so my dad used to complain. Man, did I ever make him mad, poor guy. What a rotten kid.) But sorry, I just have an aversion to things that smell like, oh, rotting meat, or maybe the landfill on a 100-degree day (I can hear my friend Lisa laughing from 40 miles away).

On occasion, I have marveled at (and been horrified by) foods from different cultures, knowing of course that what seems grotesque or outlandish to me is perfectly normal to them. Indeed, it’s possible that people in Bangkok would turn up their noses at, say, mashing up boiled potatoes and mixing them with milk or cream; or perhaps the Vietnamese would think it odd to ruin perfectly good tuna fish by dousing it with mayo.

Even farther west: My friend Kay tells me that in Slovenia (part of the former Yugoslavia), they can’t imagine eating any part of a pumpkin. She had to convince a street market vendor that yes, she was actually going to gut this squash and make a pie out of it instead of use it for decoration. He couldn’t believe it. So, “strange” food is definitely contextual.

[Aside: Here is a great site I found for making truly homemade pumpkin pie (and lots of other cool stuff). What say you, Mavis and Helen? Wanna try it this Thanksgiving?]

Then again, labeling foods “weird” or “awful” also falls into the gargantuan category of personal taste. So forget the folks across the pond — I have often been asked by the very person next to me, “What? How can you not like _______?” So at social functions, when offered a helping of pasta salad (*hork*), I’ve learned to just politely say “No thanks, I’ve got plenty on my plate to keep me going for the moment” to avoid feeling like Rudolph at the reindeer games.

Today, I direct your attention to some American foods that are, well, challenging to me.

Bob’s Pickle Juice Pops.

Remember “Freeze Pops” from when you were a kid? These are packaged the same way — you squeeze them out of a thin plastic sleeve. I’m really not sure about this. In order to eat one, you basically need to be ok with drinking pickle juice out of the jar.

I’m afraid I’d have to “fink out” on that one.

But good for Bob and his company. They’re now hot and heavy into marketing Pickle Pops to school cafeterias. I say that’s a good thing, if it’ll steer kids away from the noontime sugar orgy that I see so much of in schools today.

But that is another post for another day…

The Basic Salad.

Sure. Get some tasteless iceberg lettuce, a few pieces of shredded carrots and red cabbage, and drown it in oil-based, thick, white glop. Nice.

The “Ranch” craze in the US is equally as baffling to me. It’s consistently been the #1 condiment flavor in this country for years. I know some people who could bathe in it, Homer Simpson style. Buttermilk, mayonnaise and sour cream: those are the basic ingredients. Ugh.

Now we have ranch chips, ranch dips, ranch pizza; it’s a Ranch Nation.

Now I like me the occasional Caesar salad, don’t get me wrong. Cheese is my friend. But I must confess: watching some people eat that ranchy mess is enough to make you swear off food entirely. I’ve never grasped the whole salad-before-dinner thing, either. Who started that anyhow? I haven’t the appetite to research it today.

Hot Sauce.

Bayou Blow Torch. Liquid Lava. Belligerent Blaze. Extreme Venomous. Ultimate Bomb…all brand names of hot sauce. No joke. See for yourself.

Um, question? What do people have against their tongues, esophagi, stomachs and colons to inspire them to willingly launch this kind of assault against them? I’ve seen people eat hot sauce, and while clearly in pain and moving about in their chair (as if that’s going to help), mumble “ummph..dat’s amazhing…” Right.

Now I like the burrito experience. When I go to Chipotle, I order one with rice, chicken and lettuce. No red sauce. The meat and rice are nicely seasoned to provide a little “kick” of Mexican flavor. That’s fine. I don’t need to be blasted out of the booth and into the street, thanks all the same.

I know. It’s just me being picky. It’s my job. And this from someone who loves Marshmallow Fluff and Velveeta. Together, on a sandwich.


Fink out.

Robert who…?

Last night I was cleaning out some files on the server for my school website (I am the web drone for my district) and ran across a unit I’d done for my music history class on the crucial influence of the Delta blues artists on the pioneers of rock and roll, jazz, R & B and soul. Where’s the Delta, you ask? And what are “Delta blues?” It all started where the Southern crosses the Dawg.

It’s surprising to me how few rock and roll musicians nowadays know who Robert Johnson was; even fewer know of his legacy to the art form, and therefore, the debt of gratitude they owe him (and others). If you are a rocker and you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve come to the right place.

In the history of the blues, no one artist is more shrouded in myth and shadows than Robert Johnson. Eric Clapton called Johnson “the most important blues musician who ever lived,” even though all that remains of Johnson’s entire existence is 29 tracks he recorded in 1937, and the two photographs you see on this page. That’s it.

He had a sound, a playing technique, and an overall style that was different from any other musician on the minstrel-type juke joint circuit that black musicians played in the early decades of the 20th century. He was a drifter; he confided in no one, and had few friends. He married twice, but had no children with the women. [However, he did have a son with someone else — and Claud Johnson was awarded Robert’s estate in 2000.]

He had an uncanny ability on the guitar (check out the freakishly long fingers). The legend says it was at an abandoned crossroads on legendary Highway 61 that Robert sold his soul to the Devil in order to be able to play the way he did. In fact, Robert wrote a song called “Cross Road Blues” (audio clip here), and 30-some years later, Clapton covered it in his version, called, simply, “Crossroads.”

Many modern artists have covered Johnson’s songs (Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers, John Fogerty, Clapton, Bob Dylan, to name just a few). But more important was Johnson’s influence on the very beginnings of rock and roll. Chuck Berry — before he was singing about Johnny B. Goode and No Particular Place to Go — was a blues artist, recording on the old Chess Records label. People like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Son House (who actually knew Johnson and played gigs with him) paved the way for what we now know as blues and gospel, and indeed all the offshoots of those styles: rock and roll, soul, hip-hop, rap, etc. All of them were in some way influenced by Robert Johnson.

Nobody really knows exactly how Robert died. His death certificate listed the cause as “no doctor.” Some say it was poisoned whiskey (Robert was good at making women’s husbands insanely jealous), others say it was syphilis.

By today’s standards, Johnson’s high, reedy voice and singular guitar accompaniment would sound strange. But I submit that without his contribution and influence, people like B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Keb’ Mo’ and Stevie Ray Vaughan would have sounded awfully different…if they’d even picked up guitars at all.

Fink out.

Today, I say “Hmm.”

I was always under the impression that the volatile properties of the hydrogen used for fueling the giant dirigible Hindenburg caused its terrible fate on 6 May, 1937.

The real cause of the fire and explosion was not the hydrogen (which did burn moments later), but rather a static-electric spark hitting the fabric skin of the ship, and the fabric happened to be coated with paint containing two chemicals found in rocket fuel.

Hmm. This I did not know.

In fact, according to the “Hindenburg Myth” at the Rocky Mountain Institute website:

The clean hydrogen flames swirled above the occupants of the passenger compartment, and all those who rode the airship down to the ground survived. 35 of the 37 casualties perished from jumping to the ground, and most other injuries resulted from diesel burns.”

Well, whaddya know.

You might be wondering (as I sometimes do myself) how I arrived at today’s topic. Last night, I watched World News Tonight on ABC — first time I’d had television on in a long, long time. During one of the commercial breaks, BP Capital Management CEO and multi-gazillionaire T. Boone Pickens came on. I thought he was stumping for McCain or something, but no: he bought 2 minutes of network time to drop bait for his Pickens Plan, designed to steer the US over the next ten years to fuel its cars with natural gas, and use wind power for electricity.

Anyway, that’s where I linked to the page about hydrogen myths. And there was the article about the Hindenburg.

And now, alas, I must fly. So much time, so little to do. Stop — wait — reverse that.

Fink out.

So that was awesome

…she says, in her best Chris Farley voice.

I’m still trying to find the words to describe the bizarro/creepy/tear-down-the-entire-house-to-change-a-friggin-light-bulb factor of yesterday’s post comment. Let’s just call it “special.” I had thoughts of deleting it, preferring only positive karma in Finkville, but I decided to keep it for posterity’s sake. Who knows, maybe someone will need that information someday….anyway, I’ve edited the post to remove all traces of the fact that I did not post his complete resumé or know his correct album count (whatzat tell ya, sweety?). I live to avoid offending tender sensibilities.

Subject change to a humble, nice (but sadly, no longer with us…how poignantly unfair) celebrity.

I’m reading The Chris Farley Show, the new biography written by Chris’s brother, Tom, and Tanner Colby.

The poor guy — a comic genius, characterized as such by every person affiliated with Saturday Night Live who was interviewed for the book — suffered with demons that we should all thank the Lord we don’t carry around with us. Under the constantly-joking, fun exterior, there lived a sweet, gentle, insecure boy who desperately wanted to win the approval and affection of those around him — especially his father.

Admittedly, I didn’t watch a lot of SNL during Farley’s tenure on the show. That was when the comedy wasn’t real funny to me. It was just one b**** wh*** sl** joke after another, and I got tired of it. But what I saw of him — especially the “Motivational Speaker” and “Super Fan” sketches — was hysterical.

The most compelling, and oft-repeated, fact in the book from the interviewees is when they comment about “what Chris was really like.” Many of them said the same thing: “Watch Tommy Boy. That’s Chris.”

Having seen Tommy Boy a couple of times, Chris was someone I would have liked. I recommend the book highly, especially to SNL fans.

Fink out (on the town today).

Cool TV II

More great shows today.

Rod Serling had some freaky things going on in his head. Before there was the frightening Night Gallery (#2 on my Top Ten List), Serling produced The Twilight Zone. And although we only watched reruns back then (the show ran from 1959-64), it still freaked me out.

The episode entitled I Sing the Body Electric (written and directed by Ray Bradbury) made me bawl. (I’m ashamed to admit it still does.) It was one of the few times when I wasn’t scared watching the show — even though my creepy meter was definitely buzzing in the background. Amazing how today, the “special effects” aren’t so special anymore, but to an 8-year-old back in the 60s, it was huge.


The bluest skies you’ve ever seen, in Seattle….

Oh my, we were all in love with Bobby, weren’t we, girls? Here Come the Brides from 1968 — loosely based on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers — featured heartthrob Bobby Sherman in a comedy about the three Bolt brothers who, in 1870, recruit 100 “brides” to come from Massachusetts to Seattle so their lonely lumberjacks won’t leave the Bolts’ mill due to the lack of pretty women in town.

Edit: <Nice comments about David Soul deleted>

The series ran from 1968-1970, when ABC, in their infinite wisdom, pulled the show from its 7 p.m. slot over to the adult time of 9 p.m. That was its death knell. But Bobby went on to have an impressive recording/performing career.

He still looks good (and I’ll bet he’s not a schmuck, either).