Friday, November 10, 2017


I’d say I have a current issue with sandwiches, but it’s really a long, long campaign in my head. It’s not really the sandwiches that are the problem, it’s the makers. I think the two greatest sandwiches of all time, in order, are the Reuben and egg salad. I haven’t had a good Rueben in forever; I had a great egg salad sandwich in Indianapolis in November 2014.

There’s some debate on the origin of the Rueben, but I still hold to the idea that it was first created Omaha (shout out!). Rueben: corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, rye bread. I’m guilty of ordering the portobello Rueben, in hopes of just finding any Rueben worth its weight, and have regretted it every single time. Generally, it wasn’t the mushroom-in-place-of-corned beef thing, it was either the lack of quality of the remainder of ingredients, or hateful construction ignorance. You cannot call anything a Reuben that doesn’t have a good half inch of quality sauerkraut – the main issue that is most likely to be missing. Actual construction is often pathetic and that combined with some weak spread of ‘kraut damns these sandwiches to hell. Hell. If I get up to no good this weekend I may finally gather the forces and do a proper Reuben. Dare to dream.

I’ll leave egg salad for later chat.

Friday, August 11, 2017


We crossed the border last night for a big birthday dinner. We do it every summer and have done the last two years at Hen of the Wood in Burlington - a fantastic place that makes a mushroom toast you dream of. This year there was a request to find a French place somewhere nearby (Quebec, as it turns out) for the festivities. X sleuth-ed out L'Oeuf in Mystic, Quebec, a short 25-minute drive from our summer locale. (As an aside, we ended up crossing into Quebec via the the same border patrol agent who'd seen the boys earlier in the week.). Southern Quebec is very Midwestern in layout: corn, soy beans, flat, barns. Mystic is a very small village hidden in the trees and made up of 30-40 fabulously maintained Quebecoise homes; and. L'Oeuf. The shop, inn, and restaurant are run by a couple who've somehow put together the best little place in the World. The shop is full of chocolate (that they make), mustards (some of which they make), marmalades, and assorted French stuff that sucks me in like me wandering into a high-end NYC papier. Before dinner we were three digits of money into our stash of chocolate, mustard, chestnut paste, and Opinel knives.

Dinner on a lovely screened in porch near the garden was a chef's selection for two of us and some a la carte on the other half. Everything was perfectly done with the beaujolais, confit de canard, terrine, and desserts. The terrine gave us insight into the handmade mustard half Canadian, half French seeds) that was a perfect piquant. On the way out we grabbed yet another jar that the waiter told us came with the terrine, but we were stopped short by the owner/mustardeer who directed to his unlabel home cache of jars - of which he gave us one free. It's gold. You'll never taste it because it's too precious. There was nothing in the entire event that wasn't perfect. Seriously. One of the best meals, ever. If you're up that way, and you never know, get a reservation.

Maybe we need a cross-border home.

Monday, August 07, 2017

halt, who goes there?

We are spending the week on the shores of Lake Champlain, very near (.5 miles) to the Canada border on the Vermont side. There is I-87 exit 22*, where we're staying, immediately followed by the border. If you happen to miss the exit you are rewarded by sitting in line to cross into Canada. If you are two young lads on their way back to the lake house from a day/dinner in Burlington, Vermont, sans passports, and slip by the exit you get a free hour long 'mini-vacation' having a long, interesting discussion with Canadian border guards: Where do you live? Where are you staying? Where were you born? What is your business? Hand me your passports. Answers to these questions were along the lines of America, on the lake in a house, I think Vermont, no idea, we don't have any. They had their car searched by the great northerners and then told to take the quick u-turn, no doubt in place for just these more-than-often events, and pointed back to the US border shack on the southbound side. Whatever the procedure at the border, and I'm sure it's well worn for accidental tourists, the Americans weren't so much interested as they watch them come down the "lane of shame" heading back to their homeland. We are thinking that if they go out alone again we'll pin a big note on each of them with their names, place of birth, lake cabin address, and their mother's phone number.

*Vermont must be the only state in the Union where the interstate highways don't have exits numbered by mile marker. You might come into Vermont from the south thinking, "We are getting off at exit 10 which is in about ten miles." Funny that. Exit 10 could be 112, or 5, miles away - there is no math or knowledge that can help you.

Friday, July 28, 2017

tell me where you're at

I'm almost positive that I've answered the question, "If you could see any band live, right now, who would it be?" with The Clash. That may still be true, but suddenly, after decades, my mind is split and we can blame it on the turntable thing I bought a few weeks back. A few years ago I went searching for an Uptown Rulers LP, something that I could put in a album frame and have on the wall to remind me the early/mid-1980s. I unframed it the other night and spun the sounds. Took me right back.The Rulers were a band hailing from the Bloomington-Normal, IL area - they toured exclusively across the midwest/plains in an area bounded by southern Illinois; Lincoln, NE; and the Twin Cities. I never heard of them going further afield than those areas. The Rulers fit into whatever wave of Ska was hitting then (second? third?) and did a combo platter of originals and covers. We loved the Rulers. One of my best friends (there were three) was even more crazy than I was, and I was crazy: student union shows, sneaking into bars, driving to the Quad Cities on New Year's Eve from Omaha for a show (that is another story), and numerous other shows, particularly in Iowa City where I was leaving a trail of over-drinking and sleeping that supported my 1.92 GPA over two full years. Well, there was also a pizza place job, some Cubs' games on TV, a lot of skanking, and two lovely girlfriends. Rulers shows were the biggest, sweatest, danc-iest, skankiest pit shows ever. Ever. You'd be hardpressed to have more fun at any show. If we could all go back and time and have the Rulers show up on a stage in a small venue and play two hours for us, it would be the best.

There was once liner notes for a Gear Daddies CD where the writer who introduced them to us said something along the lines of: there are better bands in the World, but there is no band I'll ever love more than the Gear Daddies. The Rulers are probably the band I most love.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

sweep the leg

I’ve had a ton of discussions about risk aversion and conservative coaching with cohorts. Well, mostly with Probability Boy (now known at ProbBoy). Which leads to this: We were watching some Jeopardy! last night and the players were at (about) $12k, $10k, and $8k as the final answer on the Double Jeopardy board came up (category: U.S. Congressional Committees). Since the $12k player has just answered the last question correctly she was the ‘question’ chooser for the final question, which happened to be the last Daily Double – it’s all hers. There is only one way to play this – bet it all and either end it now or go home. I did not spend 22 minutes of my life to watch you fucking lay up. Bet it all – how many committees do you think there are? We’ve seen judiciary, we’ve seen Oversight. Bet. It. All. Look, you are the only one that gets the question, you won’t have to worry about your opponents getting it right and you missing it in Final Jeopardy. You won’t have to do math to figure out if you need to bet $3,145 to win. You don’t have to worry about a category coming up in Final Jeopardy that you don’t know jack about, like “Tang Dynasty Chinese Poetry”. It’s all you. Bet. Win. Drop the mic. Lock it down. She bets like $2k. My head explodes. 

Might as well watch John Harbaugh coach.

P.S. The question was, "Three word committed that oversees..." Fucking stop. What is Ways and Means. She killed me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I’m going to focus on a musician named Joe Overton. The first time I saw him perform I was stuck in Indianapolis the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2014. He was playing as part of The Party Line – the band that is integral to the Nora Jane Struthers traveling carnival. I think he plays just about anything with strings, but his focus on stage is the fiddle, banjo (resonator and open-back), and lap steel. Having now seen him four times – twice with the band (including last Thursday night in DC), and twice at house concerts as a duo with Nora Jane (including Sunday night on Kent Island) – I can say that he might be my favorite musician. He has his own album of original songs that was the first to spin on my new turntable configuration last night, plus he and Nora Jane also have an album of old Irish, English, Appalachian standards that they released this year and played through the entire first set on Sunday night. What I first noticed about him playing that night in Indianapolis was that the total ease he exhibits when playing music. There seems to be a deft style about his playing that implies just letting the instrument throw out the sounds that you’re guiding it through. It’s pretty hard to describe, but I remember getting home after that ‘trip’ and trying to vaguely emulate the relaxed grip he had on his instruments while creating a more relaxed practice method on the mandolin. It works. I guess it’s akin to taking a deep breath when you’re tense and then feeling your shoulders and body immediately relax immediately: a light grip on the instrument and an easier manner in trying to coax the notes. Take all that for what it’s worth, which ain’t much.