Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Another Perfect Day - I Love L.A"

Fifteen years ago I decided to take a chance and leave my comfortable existence on the East coast and head out to the land of "Stars and Broken Dreams." Now this move wasn't made without a bit of research. I'd visited Los Angeles and other parts of California many times before. And like most visitors, I found some of the people in LA to be quite pretentious and superficial. Others, I found to live and breathe in a culture that I found as foreign to me as a creature from a "Lost In Space" episode. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself open-minded and eager to learn and try new things, but I had a difficult time interpreting some of the vernacular. When words such as "Dude, Like, and Totally" are used more than four times in the same sentence it confuses me. "For sure For Sure!" To sum it up and to be a bit cliche, at that point I felt "LA was a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there." Never less, I was young and adventurous so - Why not? I decided not to sell my house back east just in case things didn't work out. After all, I could always bail myself out and move back. Right? No need to say it - I'm still here so "What's up with that?"

It's simple. In the words of the Randy Newman song: " I Love LA."

(I'm trying something new here. I'm streaming the song so follow the above link if you want to hear the song)

As I was flying back into Los Angeles last Wednesday and looking out the window at the snow capped mountains, the deep blue Pacific ocean, and the rolling lush green Hollywood hills, I decided; You can find creepy people just about anywhere but it's hard to replace this scenery and the southern California climate. 65-75 degree weather in January? Hard to beat. And we're having a colder than normal winter. Here's a shot I took on Wednesday followed by a few I took the week before. Sorry, I've overplayed the snow capped mountains but it's novel out here.

I hope you enjoy them.

Here's a Bonus shot. Sunrise or Sunset?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Don't Just Survive Get Even!

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned!

By now, I would think that most of you have probably heard the song -

" I will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor.

(click to see Youtube video), In this song she rallies all the women who have been dealt a dirty deed by their "No good Men" and hypnotizes them with her funky beat and soulful melodic voice into a state of frenzy. I'm sure many of you have been in a bar or night club when this song played? Did you notice how all of the women in the place knew all of the words and proved it by singing as loud as they possibly could? While all the men sat there meekly with their heads bowed bashfully in their drinks. The dance floor always fills up with groups of ladies dancing with each other and that energy sets the mark for the night.

And men- have you ever been driving in the car with a date, girlfriend, wife or lover when the song hit the waves? Ever notice how the volume is never loud enough for this particular song? Notice how the women always reach down and crank it up just a little bit and then manage to out sing and out-volume the radio.

Some would argue that these are subtle biological messages sent by women to the male species designed to raise their level of interest and call out the most suitable mate. And on an intellectual note, I'd buy that. I'd also praise the spirit of the song and the liberation it gives to some women who have emerged from ugly relationships. But equally, I've learned to detest the song over the years. I guess in reality, I don't detest the song so much as I resent being the target of some of the built up aggression that stems from those destructive relationships.

So over the years, I've come up with my own name for this song: I've affectionately renamed it:
The B-HOLW Song. (pronounced Bee Hole). For - The Battle Hymn of Liberated Women! Some, erroneously assume I mean "Butt Hole" and that stands for the guy in the song (smile).

I named it BHOLW after a date with a "liberated woman." Yes, a few years back I went on a second date with a young lady that I thought I was pretty fond of. We shared a dinner together in which she opened up to me about all of the horrible relationships she had suffered through in the past. Not what I consider a good idea by the way. Opening that can of worms on a second date..... Bad Plan. It can sour the evening and be quite a turn off. Nonetheless, I endured it all and thought to myself - She'll think I'm "Prince Charming" after dealing with all of those dirt bags!

So after dinner we agreed to mix it up with some dancing. And that's when it happened...... I suppose the two hours we spent over dinner discussing her prior bad relationships conjured up some evil demons. Ironically, we found ourselves on the dance floor when they played the B-HOLW song. And since it was our second date I foolishly agreed to stay and dance with her. It occurred to me later that I was the only male on the floor. But that's okay, I stood there and took my punishment like a man. I danced through finger pointing, attitude, and a little shower of spittle as she screamed "I will survive" in my face!

I don't need to say that our relationship didn't go anywhere after that. That night pretty much killed any desire that I might have had for romance with her. Perhaps it was my fragile ego, my insensitivity to her pain and suffering, or simply my unwillingness to take the bullet for all of my fellow brothers who trampled on her heart in the past. I was certainly happy for where she was in her life and I was thrilled that she could move on and keep her self-respect. But I was looking to be a giver and receiver of some TLC and not the destination point for years of her aggression and rage! I guess the bottom line was -to put it in Chuck Woolery's words:

"We didn't have a Love Connection!"

So fast forward a few years. I've made peace with the BHOLW song. I can listen to the entire thing without cringing. And I've actually learned to like two other recent songs with similar themes. The first is Irreplaceable by Beyonce where she shows her man the door and packs up all of his stuff "To the Left.. To the Left." The second, and the song I'm really digging right now is: Before He Cheats by the American Idol Queen - Carrie Underwood.

Now that's a great song! As you know by now, I enjoy songs with great lyrics. And this song has got a mouth full. I'm not talking your typical corny and sappy stuff either. This song really hits home with some powerful, vengeful, incendiary stuff. So here, watch the video and enjoy!

Now that's what I call liberating! I'd imagine there's a whole lot of freedom generated when you swing a Louisville Slugger into your boyfriends headlights!

You all be nice out there and have some fun.......

I'm attaching the lyrics below so feel free to sing along:

"Before He Cheats"
Right now he's probably slow dancing with a bleach blond tramp,and she's probably getting frisky...
right now, he's probably buying her some fruity little drink cause she can't shoot whiskey...
Right now, he's probably up behind her with a pool-stick, showing her how to shoot a combo...
And he don't know...
That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats...
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,slashed a hole in all 4 tires...
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.
Right now, she's probably up singing some white-trash version of Shania karaoke..
Right now, she's probably saying
"I'm drunk"and he's a thinking that he's gonna get lucky,
Right now, he's probably dabbing on 3 dollars worth of that bathroom polo...
And he don't know...
That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,carved my name into his leather seats,
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,slashed a hole in all 4 tires...
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.
I might've saved a little trouble for the next girl,Cause the next time that he cheats...
Oh, you know it won't be on me!
No...not on me
'Cause I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,carved my name into his leather seats...
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,slashed a hole in all 4 tires...
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.
Oh.. Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats...
before he cheats...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Courageous Acts!

A Courageous display of gallantry or valor should not go unnoticed and more importantly, should not be forgotten. So from time to time I'll be highlighting individual or collective acts of bravery.

Last year this time - and PB - for me. (PB stands for Pre-Blog) I recall reading about a gentleman named Wesley Autrey. Mr. Autrey was a 50 year old construction worker and Navy veteran who happened to be waiting for a subway train in in Manhattan. While waiting with his two daughters, a nearby man collapsed and began convulsing. When Mr Autrey walked over to help, the man stumbled to the edge of the platform and fell to the tracks below. While observers stood by in shock and watched the approaching train, Mr. Autrey fearlessly jumped below and lay on the victim securing him between the two rails. The train attempted to stop but as the brakes screeched, five cars rolled overhead the motionless duo before the train could be halted.
Power was then cut to the train and workers rescued the two. Both men escaped with minor injuries. It appeared the 20 year old victim, Cameron Hollopeter, had suffered a seizure. When asked about his valiant act, Mr. Autrey replied: "I don’t feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help. I did what I felt was right.”

Mr. Autrey, for your dauntless and selfless act .......

I salute you!

Intrepid remembers! God Speed!

Wesley Autrey after the act with grease from the train on his hat- see the full story

On a lighter note. It seems Ms. Antibarbie is performing her own act of bravery. She is taking on all comers in her post: "Hit me with your Best shot." She has agreed to answer any of your questions. And she says anything! The door is wide open. To date she has about 30 comments. Most people, like me, have asked some pretty easy going questions. But come on. You all get in there and take the gloves off and go ask some juicy questions....... (smile) I'll be reading. See her taunts below:

Hope had this great idea for me to do a Q&A session with all my readers. So, feel free to ask me anything in the comments section of this post…. and I do mean anything. I have no shame and will air all my most sinful secrets, embarrassing facts, stupid mistakes, views, philosophies, fears, dreams and anything else you might throw at me. Nothing is off limits and nothing is sacred.
That pretty much sums it all up. Speak up now or forever bite your tongue.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy Birthday MacGyver

Since I received a limited amount of success on my MacGyver-Like post, I thought it only just to give a little back to all you MacGyver fans and trivia buffs! Today is Richard Dean Anderson's Birthday. Happy Birthday MacGyver!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shocking News! Heath Ledger Dies Today!

As the Movie "The Dark Knight" goes into post production and prepares for it's summertime premier, the world listens to the shocking news and reality that one of the Silver Screen's finest will be conspicuously absent from the parade of Stars at this premier.

The shocking news:

Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger who played the Joker in the filming of the latest Batman movie - The Dark Knight, was found dead today in his Manhattan apartment. He was declared dead at about 3:30 PM. He was 28 years old. A bottle of over the counter sleeping medication was found in the vicinity of his bed, making the suspected cause of death a possible drug overdose. Heath Ledger was found dead by his housekeeper when she tried to wake him for an appointment.

The Australian born Ledger starred in two movies that I am quite fond of: The Patriot, and A Knight's Tale. He is probably more widely known for his performance in the movie Brokeback Mountain, for which he received both Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. I haven't seen Brokeback yet but I know his passing will shed a darker cloud over the movie when I do view it.

Ledger unfortunately joins the list of too many other rising young entertainers who have tragically fallen victim to the far too common "drug overdose syndrome."

I wonder if it's the fame and fortune or just the "Times we live in?"

Have a look at Heath in one of my favorite roles:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

American Idol - A Perspective

So what do the following names have in common?

Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, and Jordin Sparks.

If you're an American Idol fan then you know that they are, in order, the winners of the past 6 American Idol contests. And as a result of winning, have seen their respective music careers rocketed to new heights. Last week kicked off the seventh season of the very popular series. And in addition to putting a few pennies in the bank for the winners, Idol has been a veritable gold mine for the Fox network. If there's any doubt about Fox's winnings, the next time you watch the show take note of how many, how often, and how long the commercials are and then factor in the revenue for each. Other benefactors of the show are the several other popular finalists that have been able to parlay their time on the show into some notable fame and dollars as well. Think: Chris Daughtry, Elliot Yamin, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, and Bo Bice to name a few.

So as I tuned in this past week, I shamelessly took note at how many seasons I've suffered through- (Don't get me wrong, there have been many enjoyable and entertaining moments) If I make it through this season, It will mark my fourth full season of Idol. And along with that note, I reflected on some brutal irony of the show:

  1. Sanjaya Molakar, after displaying very little talent, threatens the credibility of the show when he makes it into the final 24 based entirely on his looks and appeal to a very large population of teen aged girls.
  2. Elliot Yamin, after displaying truck loads of talent, doesn't win because some say he needed dental work. (He's taken care of that now and looks great)
  3. Jennifer Hudson, after not winning on Idol, goes on to win countless awards including - A Golden Globe and an Oscar, for her performance in the movie Dream Girls.
  4. Taylor Hicks, a season winner who captivated audiences and warmed hearts with his soulful R&B sound, has just been dropped by his record label (J Records) a fate that fell upon another winner Ruben Studdard.

I also remembered how I started this journey. My introduction to Idol started with a laughing hysterical telephone call from one of my cousins. When she was able to control herself enough to talk, she asked if I was watching American Idol. Of course I wasn't but I turned it on at her request and the journey began. My adventure included the following dialog and audition:

Simon Cowell:

"Not only can you not sing one note in tune but you have one of the weirdest voices I've ever heard in my life"

Mary Roach:

"Well, weirdness is originality too!"


Over the years I've wondered what possesses some people to audition for a show that they have absolutely no chance at winning. Is it resolute faith? Fanatical encouragement from friends and family? Delusional interpretation of reality? Or is it all just an act to entertain the viewing public and secure their 15 minutes of fame? I've also had my doubts about the tipsy trio - Randy, Paula, and Simon. What's in those Coca Cola cups? Are they just role playing for our benefit? Or is everything so perfect in Paula's world, moderate in Randy's world, and condescending, egotistical, and arrogant in Simon's palace? Who knows? But in this "Brave New World" of reality shows I find it increasingly more difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy.

I'll leave you with some more funny auditions,

Enjoy the Season!

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Did you make a New Year's Resolution this year? Do you know the origin of the resolution? How many people do you think actually keep their resolutions?

It is estimated that about 40 - 50% of Americans make a resoulution each New Year's. And of that number, about 20 % keep their resoultions and the remaining 80 % drop them only to make the same commitment sometime later in life. Popular resolutions include: Losing weight, exercising more, and giving up habits like drinking and smoking.

So where did this tradition come from? Well as best as I can tell, the origin centers around a mythical king of early Rome named Janus. Somewhere around 153 B.C. this mythical king of early Rome was placed at the beginning of the calendar. Janus had two heads, one facing forward and one facing backwards, and could look back into the past and forward into the future. The Romans imagined Janus looking back on the old year and forward into the new year. The Romans eventually started looking for forgiveness from their enemies at the end of the year and started a tradition of exchanging gifts at this time. These practices eventually evolved into the practice of formulating a resolution at the beginning of the new year based on Janus looking backward and then into the future. Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances would remain a constant figure at the beginning of the calendar and would endure several changes as Christians changed the beginning of the year to December 25 (commemorating the birth of Jesus) and then to March 25, and then back again to January 1 st. By the way - note Janus > January.

Roman bust of Janus at the Vatican

Personally, I've never been much of a New Year's resolution maker. While I do admire those who take this opportunity to set a goal and go for it, I've taken a different approach. Very similar to Janus. Once a year generally around this time, I take a few minutes to reflect on my life and review where I stand relative to my life goals. I kind of look back on the past year. The ups and downs, good and bad. I look forward into the future and set a few goals. I seem to be better off and more consistent when I actually write them down versus only making a mental note.
So today, as I look at the calendar and note that it is January 18. I know that some of you are struggling with the resolutions you made only 18 days ago. (Like perhaps El Di Pablo who Blogs My Fat Ass) You're maybe thinking about giving up and going back to your old ways. To you, I offer my encouragement and good will. I hope that you will have the strength to stay the course and achieve your goals..... Hang in there! You only have about 11 1/2 more months to go before you can make a new one!
Good Luck

Thursday, January 17, 2008

American Gangster Part Two!

A few month's ago I submitted a post about the movie American Gangster.

(see my post here) I talked a bit about the movie and a bit about the main character Frank Lucas. Part of the appeal of the movie, in my opinion, is that it was based on a true story - Right? Generally speaking when a movie is based on a true story it adds a bit of credibility and authenticity.

Ooooops. Well maybe not. At least in the case of "American Gangster" - Perhaps not all of the story is true. The buzz on the street today is that the "Cadaver connection" May not have existed at all. And that law suits may follow.

Federal Judge Sterling Johnson Jr., who as special narcotics prosecutor was instrumental in Lucas' arrest and trial had this to say:

“Everybody always thought the caskets (carried heroin) — even I thought it,”

“The picture is 1 percent reality and 99 percent Hollywood,” Johnson says. “Frank was illiterate, Frank was vicious, violent. Frank was everything Denzel Washington was not.” (Get more of this story here)

To add fuel to the fire, several former Drug Enforcement Agents who investigated Lucas filed a class-action lawsuit yesterday against General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal claiming the film defames them and grossly misrepresents the truth.

All this just in time for the big Oscar race. So what do you think? Does this misrepresentation alter your opinion of the film? Does it make you feel manipulated and used? Do you lose respect for main actors like Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe when something like this happens? Or do you think it's okay for the film industry to take a bit of license from time to time?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Beijing and the Great Wall! Here are some tips and photos.

So as a follow up to my last post and my mention of Beijing, China I thought it might be a good idea to include some shots of my trip. And with the 2008 Summer Olympics coming up, I'm sure many of you are saving your money so that you can hop on an airplane and see China and at the same time support your favorite Olympic athletes..... Right? (smile). Well just in case this in your plans, here are a few tidbits about seeing the great wall while you are there: Expect to be tied up with all of the venues at the games and with so many attractions to see in Beijing, your time will be at a premium. So unless you'll be returning to Beijing, be sure to allow some time to see the Great Wall. This might be something you want to budget for early so that you don't put it off and miss the chance.

So here's how I did it. Maybe you'll find some information that will be helpful to you:

Before I went, I asked people I knew who had been there and they said it's a good idea to get an early start in the morning and go to the section of the wall with the ski lifts and alpine slides. The alpine run is a refreshing way to get down the hill after you've toured the Wall. Based on their recommendation, I decided to go to the area called Mutianyu. It's a little farther away from Beijing than other sections but it's a lot less crowded and well worth the drive. I then located a driver (see card below) who would pick me up at my hotel and drop me off at the end. The key information here is to make sure you know what kind of vehicle your driver will be driving. With the Olympics in August, you can be sure that it will be nice and warm. So you'll want to be sure that your driver has a newer car with air conditioning. Next, you'll want to decide if you want a guided tour or if you just want to go it on your own. I chose to have the guided tour. We lucked out and got a nice van with a good driver and a knowledgeable guide who spoke English. There were 4 people total in our van and I think we each paid roughly $60 US for the tour. This did not include gratuity. Definitely make sure you get an early start. This section of the wall opens about 07:30 A.M. You'll want to be there just as the Wall opens. By leaving early you'll miss most of the morning traffic and get there during the cooler part of the day. Secondly, it tends to be clearer in the morning, thus you'll get better viewing and better/clearer pictures.

Here are a few links that you might find useful:

  1. About.Com-Mutianyu

  2. Beijing Day Trips

  3. Great Wall at Mutianyu Reviews

  4. Great Wall of China Mutianyu Section

Our trip out to the wall took approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. The return trip to the hotel took about 2 hours and a half. Don't be surprised if your driver/guide wants to stop at some kind of vendor (usually a friend/relative or someone who pays them a commission to bring people by) on the way home. Our driver offered to stop at a cloisonne vase factory. We agreed and it was worth the time.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy your trip. If you're not going, I hope you've enjoyed my pictures.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Snow Falls in Baghdad

Call it a miracle, call it global warming-

Call it what you want but for the first time in memory, snow fell in Baghdad, Iraq Friday January 11, 2008. The flakes melted quickly but not before many people were delighted and mystified by the event.

Mark your calendars because some think this might be a sign of good luck. A possible foreshadowing of events to come. Peace and prosperity for all the people of Iraq. But what about all of the Presidential candidates who's campaigns are based on bringing the troops home? Will they have to change strategies now based on the miracle snow? Well, let's not go down that road. Here's where I'm really headed.... I find it interesting that after 100 plus years of official record keeping, and as long as anyone living in or around Baghdad can remember there has never been snow. Now all of a sudden the conditions were right and it snows and there are witnesses. So has something really changed in the global weather patterns or is this a one in two hundred years freak phenomenon? I'm not completely sure what the answer is here but I see an opportunity to promote some of my goofy travel photos and present a quick history lesson. See if you can keep up with me while I digress slightly......

Back when I was in elementary school, we would have about one library visit a week. It was kind of a fun time. We were free to roam freely and left to our own devices. Once we had the requisite "Dewey Decimal System" briefing and learned the protocol for our library time we were free to explore, read, and then check out 2 books per visit. I always found myself attracted to the Biography section. More specifically, I liked the section with the action figures. There was a group of approximately 40 books that included names like Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, Sitting Bull, Neil Armstrong, Crazy Horse, Jackie Robinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses Grant, George Washington Carver.... I'm sure you know the list of names.

Anyway, one day I pulled out a book about a great explorer named Matthew Henson. I sat down and read a few pages about this great man who lost his parents at an early age and then ran off on his own after an abusive uncle took him in. After several years sailing the Seas as a cabin boy and learning reading, math, and navigation, he joined up with Robert Edwin Peary and set out to reach the North Pole. On Peary's sixth attempt, his team of 6 Intrepid explorers: Peary, Henson, and 4 Eskimos (Oatah, Egingwah, Seegloo, and Ookeah) planted the American flag on the geographic North Pole on April 09, 1909. It was an exciting story for me to read as a kid. What a great and famous man he surely must have been.

Mathew Henson - Born in Maryland in 1866

Later, as an adult, I was disconcerted to learn of all of the controversy that surrounded this famous expedition. For on their return, Peary and Henson learned that another American, Frederick Cook was claiming to have reached the North Pole a whole year earlier than they did. Cook was eventually proven to be a liar and a fake and spent time in jail. Peary was declared the first man to reach the North Pole. But that just seemed to open whole new can of worms when reports surfaced that Matthew Henson, in fact, was the first man to reach the pole. The story reads that Henson, racing ahead of the four Eskimos who were pulling Peary on a sled (his feet were frostbitten), actually planted the American flag on the North Pole. Peary maintained that he had planted the flag and the dispute continued. It wasn't until years later that Henson was given the recognition that he deserved.

So last year when I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China I gladly took it. The Bonus; we would be flying a polar route to get there. North out of Washington, D.C. into Canada and Greenland; over the Pole and down into Russia, and China. I had the pleasure of flying from Washington D.C. to Beijing nearly 100 years after Peary's team planted the flag and returned to doubters, disbelievers, and controversy. As we soared high above the ice and cold in April 2007, I couldn't help but ponder the present day controversy: Global Warming. Is the icecap really melting? So with camera in hand, I eagerly waited as we approached the geographic North Pole. Below you'll see some photos I snapped en route. The very bottom photo was take approximately 100 miles from the North Pole. I know these shots aren't great quality and may be a bit anti climatic but what do you expect? It's cold down there and it was a long way down (smile). But you be the judge. I haven't seen Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" but I now own the DVD and the first chance I get, I'll take a look. Clearly, the snow falling in Baghdad and my pictures from last year have really got me thinking!

You all take care now.

Here are a few good links to learn more about Matthew Henson and Robert Peary.

This picture was taken closest to the North Pole. Click on the picture for better viewing.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Remembering Hugo

In October of 1989 I traveled throughout South Carolina on business. My travels included stops in the cities of Myrtle Beach, and Columbia to name a few. When we stopped in Columbia, a co-worker suggested that we dine at a restaurant named "California Dreaming." Yeah, I know some of you baby boomers are starting to sing "All the leaves are brown" in your head). He went on and on about how good it was and that we wouldn't be disappointed. He was a portly gentleman with a reputation for "chowing down" so none of us doubted his recommendation. Let me say; this dining experience turned out to be a true culinary delight for me! I remember exactly what I ate that night: A full rack of baby back ribs, a side of creamed spinach, fries, and what seemed to be an endless basket of warm and fresh croissants! Yummy! boy did I pig out. And oh yeah, I topped it off with 2 very cold and tasty beers. I'm a bit surprised I can remember all of that. I can barely remember what I did yesterday. Maybe I should show some discipline like Josey, and start a food log.

On a more somber note, the other thing that I remember as vividly as my meal was the devastation I saw in Myrtle Beach from Hurricane Hugo. Some of you may recall that Hugo slammed into Charleston, SC on September 21, 1989.

Hurricane Hugo off the East coast in September 1989

Hugo ranked as the eleventh most intense hurricane at time of landfall to strike the U.S. this century and is rated as the second costliest hurricane with over $7 billion in damages. Hugo's storm surge was the highest ever recorded on the East Coast. It was estimated at 20 feet just north of Charleston. Hugo's 150 mile wide swath destroyed about one billion board feet of timber and resulted in major damage hundreds of miles inland. The total number of deaths associated with Hurricane Hugo is 82. (Follow this link to for more info on Hugo)

Ironically, I spoke with a weatherman on that trip and I asked him a bunch of questions about the hurricane. He handed me a satellite picture of Hugo just off the coast as a gift. It was a spectacular picture that showed a very clear "Eye of the Storm" and I carried it around in my briefcase for a while. In fact, I know I still have it filed around here somewhere. My picture, unlike the one above, was black and white. Hugo looked like a big soft blob of cotton with a hole in the middle. I remember thinking - How could something that looks so calm and peaceful from above be so devastating and destructive down below?

So let's advance forward about 18 years when a storm of a different kind will hit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina tonight. The Republican presidential debates will take place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. With the mudslinging already starting over Ron Paul's "alleged" racist news letters. I wonder if it will get dirty tonight... Ya Think?

Catch the Action tonight!

Click here to see my 2008 Presidential Debates post

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

King of the Krab Kakes!

Here's a recipe for Great Crab Cakes!

In my Christmas Epilog post I mentioned some really good crab cakes! Well, I don't want to just enjoy them alone so after attempts at bribery, intimidation, and a whole lot of begging - (the begging finally worked) I was able to secure the recipe from the chef for these absolutely, scrumptious crab cakes. As I've mentioned before, I've spent some time on the East coast - You know? "Maryland is for Crabs" and "Virginia is for Lovers"? So I've enjoyed many a crab cake. But these guys offered something special. I do believe it was the addition of the mint that I found so appealing.

This was (at least) my second helping. (Who was counting?) Excuse the presentation. It looked a lot better on the first serving.

Here's the Recipe:

1 shake of seasoned pepper

1/4 cup of yellow or white corn kernels

1 pound of lump crab meat, preferably blue crab. Be sure to pick fro bits of shell.

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely snipped chives

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint (about 16 small leaves)

1 /2 teaspoon fine sea salt or more to taste

3 tablespoons of store bought Mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

wedges of lemon and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

1 bottle of Silver Palate Apricot mustard sauce

garnish as desired

This is what you do:

Bring some lightly salted water to a boil and then blanch the corn for 8 minutes. Drain the corn and then chop coarsely.

Press and drain the crab meat gently to remove as much moisture as possible without breaking it up too much. You'll want the nice big chunks in your cakes. In a bowl, combine the crab, corn, shallot, chives, mint, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss together thoroughly and add just enough mayonnaise to bind the mixture together, but not so much that it's soupy. Form the crab mixture into little cakes about 2 inches around and 1/2 inch think, compacting them firmly between your hands. Place on a platter, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

Place a nonstick pan over medium heat, and add the oil and butter. When the foam has subsided, add the crab cakes and saute until golden brown on each side, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Plan at least 2 cakes per person for an appetizer. Serve with the apricot mustard sauce or alternative sauce of your choice.

Tips: These cakes would also be great with a spicy or tangy sauce like a mixture of ketchup, mayo and hot sauce.

You could enjoy this dish with a light white wine of your choice. I found a glass of 7 Deadly Zins, quite complimentary.

Here's another look:

I'd love to give credit to the source of this recipe but it appears that it may have come from several places. The Chef, who has asked to remain anonymous, referred me to a book: Cuisine Naturelle - French classics redefined. This book will no doubt enhance your eating experience and has a similar recipe. You can get a copy from Amazon by following this link: Click Here

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2008 Presidential Debates

Okay...... Now It gets dirty!

Is it really about the issues?
Do you want to know how your views on prominent issues line up with the prospective candidates?

In Manchester, New Hampshire, Democratic presidential hopefuls traded blows over many issues. The war in Iraq seeming to be one of the most volitile topics. Does it seem like Senator John Edwards takes some pretty good shots at other candidates when he can and then endorses Senator Barack Obama on the rebound? Is this foretelling of what is to come> i.e., an Edwards/Obama union in the end? I'm just waiting for the mud pies to start flying. I tell you, from where I sit this looks like it could be a very exciting year in politics. I predict the gloves will come off and tempers will flare. Dirt will fly and skeletons will boogie! And the question I leave you with tonight: Who will be the last politicians standing?

Clearly some of the key issues to be pondered are taxes, the war in Iraq, immigration, stem cell research, abortion, and same sex marriages. If you are remotely interested in how your personal views line up with the candidates, here's your chance to take a look. I got this link from a friend today. You know.... That junk email thing. Every once in a while something good comes through. So follow the link to a survey and answer a series of questions about some of the popular issues today. Be sure to indicate how important each issue is to you. It helps determine your score. When you finish the brief survey, you'll be shown a list of the candidates and a score indicating how well they agree with your views. It will also show you a category of topics and whether you agree or disagree with the candidates positions.

Standby for more fun and games when the Republicans have their showdown.