Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Yummmm

Ok, Clever Tribe- one of the most Clever Guys I know, Geoff (nickname also CG, stands for Cool Geoff- not self-proclaimed but earned in college for being, well, cool)- seems to have a problem with my breakfast taco recipe from yesterday and I am anticipating his grievance- use chorizo instead of sausage. I have a good reason for not doing so- I abhor chorizo. If you like it- use it. This is a matter of being Clever. If you like chorizo- and you are making something with the word "taco" in it- substitute chorizo for sausage. Fair enough, CG? Or are you going to give me a hard time for suggesting store-bought salsa? OK- for game day and New Year's Day- here is a quick and easy homemade salsa recipe pirated from El Azteco in East Lansing, Mich. I must tell you- even though I paid $50 for this recipe- it doesn't taste the same. Either way- my bastardized version is below-

El Az Salsa

Large can of diced tomatoes (drained for thicker salsa)
Two large jalapenos- rinsed and cut in half
1/2 white onion-coarsely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro- rinsed
sea salt
garlic powder
black pepper

In a food processor- puree the tomatoes. Add a liberal amount of salt, a dash of garlic powder, black pepper and a more liberal amount of cumin.
Set mixture aside in a large bowl.
Add a small handful of cilantro, both jalapenos and the onion to food processor and process until it is almost like a roux- thick but not liquidy.
Combine- enjoy with chips.

I suppose CG (Geoff) would propose you cut homemade corn tortillas in quarters and fry them yourself. I prefer to get a bag of baked chips from Whole Foods.

Is it time to discuss Mike Leach? No. There is nothing to say- abuse of power? Likely. Tech's way of getting out of a nearly $1 million bonus? Likely. Did he put the wrong kid in an equipment shed? For certain. Why don't you just slap Dan Patrick's daughter across the face? Have mouth- have platform- will use it- someone is going to get hurt. Hmmm.

Also received an e-mail yesterday from a reader asking for an alternative to serving chili to her guests tomorrow. She is from Michigan and it's freaking cold- so, I am going to give you my favorite recipe for goulash. We Northerners are big on things served in a bowl- steaming hot with warm bread. Yum.

Goulash for Game Day

Two large cans of diced tomatoes- if you can find the ones that have the Italian spices added already- get them. Make sure you don't inadvertently get the ones with green chilies or you will have an interesting Southwesty goulash.

I use 1 lb. of 90/10 ground beef- but for those who prefer meaty, hearty, meaty, meaty- use more. If you prefer tomatoey to meaty- add another can of tomatoes.
1 large white onion
olive oil
garlic powder
3/4 can of water
Elbow macaroni- or whole wheat fusilli (my fave)

Open tomatoes and put them in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add water. Add a generous amount to sea salt, garlic powder and oregano.
Coarsely chop the onion and saute in a splash of olive oil. Once they are well cooked- transparent but not burned- add to the tomato mixture.
Brown ground beef and drain- add to tomato mixture. Simmer for a couple hours- stir and make sure it's covered so you do not lose your liquid.
Taste- it should be evident there is salt in there- if it is not- add some- it really heightens the flavors.

Prepare pasta in water and serve goulash over the pasta. Not as much as you would use for pasta- there should be more goulash than pasta.

Warm a loaf of French or Italian bread and yum. Serves a lot of people and isn't CHILI.

OK- I must go- have family descending.

Have a safe and wonderful evening- let's put this b*&^h of a year to bed. No looking back. I'll shout at you tomorrow with some thoughts I have on resolutions for the NEW year.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Be Married Like You are Dating

I had a friend tell me the other day- “If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have married someone stupid.” I gave over to paroxysms of laughter until I realized he was totally serious. I apologized- said it sounded a little- harsh. He went on to tell me the decision to marry came at an age when he didn’t realize the role of intellectual compatibility would be so critical. They were young, having fun, she was pretty, she wanted children, came from a nice family- all of the ingredients were in place. Until he realized what ingredients he needed to sustain a lifelong marriage.

As it turned out- and this is just his opinion- she isn’t fun anymore (she's a mom- never wants to do anything without the kids), she resents how much he works (though she covets their lifestyle), hates the fact she raised three kids alone (she didn’t really support his efforts building the lifestyle to which she has become addicted and has never worked a single day in her life), they don’t know each other, have no shared experiences in life other than their family. He has been in the workplace for three decades and she has been at home. They grew apart 20 years ago and have been married “for the kids.”

Exposing the children to an emotionally barren marriage is more damaging than divorce. Children have to see love. They have to witness affection- it’s not enough to dote on them separately. They need to view the marriage as the solid foundation of a family- so they can build one themselves someday. It is my theory (while not advocating marriage or divorce) that children thrive in a loving home- whether that's the home of Dad and his third wife who adores his children and they spend every single moment together as a unit or whether it's a biological family. You need love. You need to give it, receive it and share it- openly and freely.

As a result of our conversation, I woke up thinking about Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. They have refused to give in to societal expectations they should wed. I recall an article featuring Kurt I read more than a decade ago in which he talked about the beauty of a completely elective relationship. They are together because they WANT to be. Not because they are bound by law- not because they VOWED to be, not because their family members and friends have placed an expectation on them- but because they wake each day and CHOOSE to be together.

Now, it is my theory they re-evaluate the relationship often. Perhaps they didn’t grow apart because they continuously invest in one another and the relationship. Marriage can cause you to take one another for granted. So- when I woke this morning- I saw Goldie’s gorgeous smile radiating at Kurt and knew in my heart if they were bound by law- that smile might have faded over the years. The relationship might have become a product of habit instead of what they both likely consider a privilege.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if love was enough? Being in love could be enough of a commitment? Serving one another because you love them? Loving wholly and honestly because you WANT to? Having to earn that person’s love daily by being kind, compassionate, interested, engaged, authentic, willing, desirable, staying healthy, looking your best, staying in shape, providing for one another?

What if we actually cast off the “obligation” of marriage and had to worry the other person might find someone more attractive or interesting or a better fit? Would we try harder? Would be take more care? Would we devote more time? We would. Especially if we desired the relationship. Fights would not be so volatile- because we’d have to worry the other person might not come back when they stormed out of the house. We might actually be gentler, less condescending and cruel. If we knew our harsh treatment might result in loss- immediate and final- my gosh, imagine how the landscape would change …

Goldie and Kurt keep doing this every single day and have for decades. So, I was thinking, as we head into a new year, what about rearticulating marriage. Live it like you were dating in the respect you are married because you want to be. Serve the person you are with. Make them feel loved daily. Prove your affection- and earn theirs. Think about the aspects of the marriage where you feel you have failed and look deep inside for ways to restore, repair and renew. If you are feeling your marriage is dying- give it one last chance.

You have taken your wife for granted- woken up each day, rolled out of bed, showered and left for work without so much as an acknowledgment. “She doesn’t like to chat in the morning.” How about instead you slip out of bed and make some coffee- bring her a robe and ask her to talk to you while you shower so you can find out what her day is like- maybe you can meet for lunch.

Maybe you have forgotten to tell your husband how much you appreciate the fact you have not had to work for 10 years and been able to stay home with the kids until they all were in school. You’ve treated him with resentment for being “gone” so much and not as involved as you’d like. He has been simmering with resentment as well because you alternately castigate him for working too much and wanting more for your children and yourself. Maybe get a sitter, send him a sexy text asking him to meet you for drinks. Discuss your plans for the coming year- maybe you’d like to go back to work or are thinking of starting a business and would like his opinion.

Have you let yourself fall completely out of shape? This isn’t fair to anyone. Being unhealthy could lead to premature death- what better way to say- “I don’t care if I live or die.” Hit the gym, invest in your appearance- your spouse deserves it. Let the other person know you want them to find you desirable and not just for who you are (because of course you are endlessly Clever and appealing). Maintaining our fitness is an obligation to ourselves and our spouses. I am not saying it’s easy to get back in shape after children or to get in shape ever- but it can and should be done. Being lazy and out of shape is a message to your spouse and it says this- “You are stuck with me- we are married and you are bound by law to love me and not cheat on me just because you want to have sex with someone who is hot.” Hmmm. Taking a lot for granted.

Have you let your children come between you? Hiding behind them to avoid dealing with problems lurking in your marriage? Did you realize after you were married you have entirely different parenting philosophies and it has become a raging battle in your home nearly destroying your marriage and family with it? Sit down with your spouse and determine if the marriage is important enough to come to terms with your parenting opposition.

We are different when we are dating. Try dating your spouse for a while. See what happens.

OK, Clever Tribe- the first game starts at 10 a.m. I believe, and a hangover is almost a certainty, so I want to make it easy on you by suggesting you prepare things in advance- food which will be nourishing while nursing that queasy stomach and aching head.

Breakfast Tacos

1 lb. ground beef (I use 90/10)

This is optional- one entire package of hot Italian sausage- Jimmy Dean or the like is fine

Simply Potatoes hash browns (they have a few varieties and shapes of breakfast potatoes so pick the one you prefer- another option is to use canned, diced, new potatoes- but these are not as fresh)

Eggs to taste- I say this because I prefer fake eggs and less egg than meat

Your favorite salsa

Your favorite tortillas (I prefer whole wheat made at Centeral Market- yum)



Garlic powder

Ground cumin

Sour cream

Mixed, grated cheese

Sliced jalapenos

I use Pam in the bottom of a large saute pan (but cooking oil can be used for a crispy hash brown). Brown the hash browns, add the beef and or sausage or both.

Some people prefer crispy hash browns- if this is the case, brown your hash browns to crispy and then set them aside to mix in at the last moment.

Brown the meat- to it add salt, pepper and garlic- and a fair amount of cumin. I go heavy on the salt and the cumin- but all seasonings should be to taste.

Add the eggs and mix until the eggs are thoroughly cooked.

Warm the tortillas and place in a tortilla warmer or on a towel in between two plates. Put the meat, egg and potato mixture in a large bowl.

The salsa, sour cream, cheese and jalapenos are accompaniments. YUMMM. This is the perfect brunch meal for game day.

Make the taco pie from previous posts- Texas caviar and the cottage cheese dip and you have yourself a PARTY. Don’t forget the mimosas from yesterday’s post and BEER. Lots and lots of BEER. Yum.

I'll get back to it on Saturday to offer post game commentary and future match up commentary- most likely will consult Erin Hogan from ESPN Austin as he is my GO TO sports guy. Check the out of facebook- The Horn. The guys at The Horn are So Very Clever. Chip, Sean, Geoff, Chad, Erin, Dan ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Such a Tool

There is no doubt a woman’s mind is her sharpest tool. And, so there is no confusion- when I use the word "tool" I'm not talking about your ex-boyfriend or the dude in the next cubicle at work. The average man has amassed a virtual stockade of tools, many of which not even he knows the use for. While it's unnecessary for you to know how to use an auto-feed screw gun or an electric boring machine, you should know the basic hand tools by sight, own them and have a working knowledge of their uses. No, it does not mean you have to use them- ideally, the man in your space will say, “Oh, I could handle that if I had a wrench.” This will give you a great opportunity to say, “How weird, I just picked up a new household tool kit, don’t worry about it, I can do it later.” No self-respecting man is going to allow that, so not only will he do it for you, he will be vastly impressed by your tool kit- even if it is the wildly cool Apollo set in pink. This set screams girlie gir,l so be prepared for what you are advertising.

Now obviously the most important tool in the house is a wine opener, but because you already own one- or several- and know how to work it, I needn’t waste any time discussing it.

For the record, while a hammer is good for many things, opening wine when you are unable to locate the opener is not one of them.

The reason I am beginning our tool lesson with the hammer is because it was the first tool created. The earliest version of it was a stone cradled by fingers, which were so frequently smashed, necessity dictated innovation.

This is your garden-variety claw hammer. The face is what you will use to drive an object- usually a nail. While there are many different types of hammers, the claw hammer will manage most of the needs you confront in the home. If you elect not to purchase a household tool kit, but instead intend to select your tools individually, it is essential to find a well-constructed hammer that feels good in your hand. While it is common to acquire tools from family members, make certain you never use a hammer with a cracked or splitting handle- this could lead to injury more significant than a broken nail (the one on your hand, not the one you are trying to drive).

Common uses for a hammer are to hang pictures; the claw is designed to remove nails. Despite the myth created by Hollywood, the hammer is not an ideal weapon, primarly due to the proximity in which you would need to be to execute a fatal blow.

Pliers (not to be confused with men who ply women with alcohol in hopes of impairing their judgment in their favor) are used for gripping. A set of handles with jaws on the opposing end. There is a single pivot point that allows for the opening and closing of the jaws, using the handles. Same principle as scissors, but instead of cutting you are gripping, holding or removing. While there are myriad types of pliers, most varieties fall into one of two categories: slip-jointed (where the pivot area is adjustable so as to expand to fit the item being gripped or held) or solid-jointed (where the jaws expand to one size). As with an adjustable wrench, you can count on the solid-jointed pliers to be more stable and allow for better gripping power than the slip-jointed,

Also noteworthy are needle-nose pliers, which are generally a fixture in any household tool kit. These are less bulky and come to a point at the end, unlike common pliers, which are rounded and thick.

I will continue the tool section next week with the wrench and the screwdriver. You know, the drink with orange juice and vodka? Speaking of which, here is my favorite mimosa recipe to start off New Year's Day.


As with most recipes, the key to flavor is the quality of the ingredients you use. I prefer to use freshly squeezed juices for my mimosas, but if you have neither the time nor the inclination you can use whatever your favorite store-bought brand might be. Oh, and don't get me wrong, I don't actually buy oranges and grapefruit and squeeze them- I buy it at Whole Foods or Central Market- YUM.

You will need:

Fresh-Squeezed Orange or Grapefruit Juice (Be very cautious making the mimosa with grapefruit, as it reacts with the Champagne. It will overflow- so mix slowly)

Champagne or Sparkling Wine: I like Mumm Napa Brut Sparkling Wine, as it's neither too sweet or cloying

Now- begin by filling the flute or wine glass with the sparkling wine. I like my mimosa very pale- more sparkling wine than juice- so I do a three-quarter glass of sparkling wine and one-quarter juice.
I know people who like a half glass of sparkling wine, a quarter juice and a splash of vodka. It's not for me, but for some.

It would seem appropriate tomorrow's post deal in some way with putting 2009 to bed and welcoming 2010 with clean sheets, ready and willing to embrace the wonders of the new year. I will include some recipes tomorrow for the big New Year's Day celebrations.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Not Funny

OK, not so Clever dude who e-mailed me complaining I have not been very funny lately. Being funny is about being timely. People who TRY to be funny ALL of the time are annoying. Jim Carey- Robin Williams. If I am feeling funny- you will know it. If I am moved by someone or something- you will hear it. If I am pissed off- you will hear it loud and clear and I MIGHT JUST PUT IT IN ALL CAPS and YES, YOU CAN ASSUME I AM YELLING. Combine tone with all caps and it can be extrapolated that I’m not just too lazy to move my left pinky 1/16 of an inch to click off the all caps button.

I need to preface this post by saying it is not funny or pleasant even and if your children do read CLEVER- you might want to read this first- and then paraphrase or keep it to yourself.

By the way- a great number of things really piss me off and I should touch on some of them soon. For example, for my three teenage “fans” (what I like to call readers), here is a lesson your parents are trying to teach you (I know that because I know your parents and know they are Very Clever). Perhaps a little more detail from a different voice might help.

Granted, we have moved beyond the exclusive purpose of intercourse (reproduction) and have learned it can be enjoyable as well. However, children likely do not possess the emotional, psychological or even physical maturity to make it meaningful in anyway (other than producing an unwanted or unmanageable pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease or even worse- AIDS. All of which are great consequences).

The media have left an indelible mark on each generation- where will it end? I’ve heard some really bad things lately and they REALLY PISS ME OFF- such as human trafficking- especially as it relates to the sexual exploitation of women (Clever Young Ladies- this is real and a very real threat). Part of this goes to the absolute depravity Holllywood is selling. Young people are becoming desensitized to real and impacting issues. Death for one. We are so used to hearing about it- it’s no longer scary.

This morning when some bobble-headed moron on Fox News was reporting the body of a missing 11-year-old girl was found at the Delaware border- she actually forgot to use a somber tone. Perhaps she didn’t read the report and only at the end realized a body and NOT a little girl had been found. The little girl was GONE- her life taken by a registered sex offender who was dating her aunt.

Why wasn’t this little girl protected? Shouldn’t that go hand in hand with the decision her mother made to have sex and have a baby? Protect your child? Don’t leave her with people who date registered SEX OFFENDERS? The point is- the reporter didn’t have the decency to be somber. It’s so run of the mill these days- listen to the news- every day a young girl or woman is victimized. Now, some theorize there isn’t a rise in the occurrence of such violations- but rather we have access to all the information. I am not sure I believe that. I think we do hear about it ALL now, but now it is sensationalized- and it is no longer impacting. Further, the victimization of children is taking on a “dime a dozen” feel. We have stopped being outraged. We now shake our heads and “tsk tsk.” That is unacceptable. People who perpetrate crimes against children are the most heinous and depraved of all who walk this earth. They need to be spared any type of trial or mercy.

These are crimes against CHILDREN, people- wake the freaking hell up! We have an obligation to protect young children- we have an obligation not to EXPLOIT THEM or let them EXPLOIT THEMSELVES. If your young daughter is wearing clothing that advertises something for which you think she is not yet ready- talk to her and find out why she thinks she should be wearing such garments. She will tell you EVERYONE wears this type of clothing- if you CARE, you should invest a little energy in learning who her EVERYONE is. Perhaps her group of friends might be a bit mature for her- or for you. Ignoring it and assuming it is normal is not the ANSWER.

What is wrong with letting little girls be little? Do we need high-heeled shoes for 2 and 3 year olds? Should we buy them dolls that look like sluts and act like BRATZ? In purchasing such things- you are condoning the LOOK and the BEHAVIOR. Don’t get me started on Jon-Benet Ramsey. Her parents got exactly what they deserved. They prostituted a little girl for their own selfish aggrandizement. Assuming (though I shouldn’t) one of them did not cut short the life of their only daughter themselves- they pranced her around like a prize-winning pony- like candy for pedophiles and perverts. What did they think was going to happen?

I was at a party last weekend and the 15-year-old daughter of a neighbor sauntered in. She headed straight to the kitchen, where the men were huddled, dissecting the bowl schedule. Her eyes were lined in black- her hair straight and damaged- a far too tight T-shirt reading “Naughty” clung to her. She lifted her shirt to show the MEN the belly button ring her parents had gifted her for Christmas. I had never seen the girl in my life, so I looked around to see what freaking idiot planned to take credit for the tramp in the kitchen. All of the women seemed confused- until the woman hosting the party explained to us that she was a friend of her daughter’s and the parents were on their way.

So- let’s recap. A 15 year old walks into a party of adults she does not know- she heads to the group of men in the kitchen and reveals her stomach and an age-inappropriate piercing. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? She bounded out and headed upstairs where the children were.

One of the guys in the kitchen came over to his wife and said- “Go get Ashlynn, we are leaving.” I happened to know Ashlynn was 11 and likely to be influenced by the lack of regard the previously mentioned young lady (loose- and yes, she probably is) had for herself, her family and those around her.

I listened to the commentary around me- apparently many of the other women knew the parents of the “girl.”

“Well, that was her gift for getting a C in math.”

A C in math? Grades are required. When did we start offering bribes and rewards for such things that should be expected? Help around the house. Maintain a B average, be a productive member of the family. So, her parents (not sure much parenting is going on), rewarded a C with a belly button piercing.

“That’s nothing. Two months ago she got a tattoo on her hip bone for working out 20 days in a row.”

WHAT? What is the reward for not burning the house down?

“Well, her parents are really successful attorneys. They never did take out much time for her …”

As if that weren’t obvious by her overt attempts to acquire the attention of MEN. It was embarrassing for the MEN- embarrassing for the women and disgraceful all the way around.

Because I knew the woman hosting the party and know her family, I meandered over to her and inquired about this “friend” of Megan’s.

“Oh, she’s just going through a phase. She really is a sweet kid.” Proof my neighbor is NAÏVE.

I didn’t respond because it would sound judgmental, but what I wanted to say to her, and what I am saying here to you- Clever Young Ladies and Clever Parents- she is NOT going through a stage. This is it. Let’s call her Marie- because I never did learn her name- has figured out how to get attention she is sorely lacking. Her parents didn’t invest in her when she was young and now she has learned that any attention is good attention. No matter how regrettable the attention is- at least SOMEONE is giving it to her.

Marie is advertising something for which she might not be emotionally ready. In her quest for attention, she is advertising herself ready for sexual advances- not only from boys but from MEN- and there will be no shortage- from either.

These are the clues MEN look for when identifying young girls who are easy marks: chipped dark nail polish, too much make-up, hair that is colored unnaturally and not properly groomed, suggestive clothing and overt sexual or flirtatious behavior. Why? It means they are not monitored at home. Loving, involved, caring parents do NOT let their daughters walk around looking like street-walkers (literally). They demand proper grooming and hygiene. They evaluate age appropriate clothing- regardless of who else is wearing what or what celebrity is baring all. They know where their children are and with whom. They call the other parents when their children are visiting friends. They insist on Internet rules and regulations at home and the homes of their friends. They are involved. They look their children in the eye and tell them they love them. Clever Parents spend time with their children- teaching them, guiding them, letting them know they are loved. THAT is appropriate attention. Don’t send your little girls out there searching for it.

There are legitimate threats to our young daughters. Date rape, rape, molestation, kidnapping, human trafficking and sexual slavery. Clever Parents are NOT afraid to be unpopular, because it not only prepares children for life on their own but, it would seem, today- it might just keep them alive.

What is the future for Marie? Pregnant by 16, sexual partners numbering in the double digits. If she is supremely unlucky- her advertising will show up on the radar of a MAN who ends her life prematurely or sells her to someone in another country where she will have more “attention” than she knows what to do with. Those young women don’t get to come home. They get used up and thrown away like a pen that has run out of ink. It happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

To all of the parents of all of the “Marie’s”- WAKE UP. You made a decision to have a child. You have an obligation to PROTECT your children. If that means fighting every day over nail polish and clothing and behavior? So be it. They WILL thank you by graduating from high school and college, getting a job and starting a family. If you decide it’s easier to let them do what they want- you will be the parent saying –

“I have no idea how this happened. She comes from a good home. We love our daughter.” Sadly, it will be at her funeral if they recover a body and a memorial if not. SHAME ON YOU.

OK- I am promising some levity this week, but realllly had to speak my mind on that. Disgusting display. It’s all around us. I will be taking Thursday and Friday off- so count on one more hockey post and I’ll see if I can’t think of something funny to say.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Assume the Position

Ok, Clever Girls- let’s pick up hockey where we left off. There are 200 players on an NHL teams- 18 skaters and two goaltenders. Of the 200 players- there are six different positions and at most times (except in short-handed/power play situations- or when the goalie is pulled) there are six different positions on the ice at a time.

The Goaltender

The goaltender’s job is to- you guessed it- tend the goal. His only responsibility is to keep the puck from going into the net. He’s allowed to leave the goal to stop a puck or retrieve a puck and is able to bat or close his glove around the puck to stop play. Goalie equipment is designed to help protect the head and face from the incredibly fast and potentially lethal puck. If the goaltender behaves in such a way he is assessed a penalty, another player from the team will serve it for him- but he will still accrue penalty minutes. The goaltender is well protected by his teammates and the rules. Any contact with the goalie that is not deemed incidental will result in a penalty and- at times- even incidental contact can be ruled as a penalty.

Goalie Names You Might Recognize

Terry Sawchuck

Patrick Roy

Marty Turco

Martin Brodeur

Chris Osgood

Dominik Hasek

Grant Fuhr

Jacques Plante

The Defenseman

There are two defensemen on the ice at a time. Their primary job is to break up plays and try to maneuver the puck to their forwards. During offensive play, they linger at the blue line and help keep the puck in the attacking zone. Highly skilled offensive defensemen will shoot well from the blue line and are adept at scoring. During defensive play, they linger near the net and help the goaltender keep the puck out of the net, break up offensive scoring chances and feed the puck to the forwards.

Defensemen You Might Recognize

Chris Chelios

Sergei Zubov

Derian Hatcher

Kevin Hatcher

Uwe Krupp

Bobby Orr

Phillippe Boucher

The Center (Forward)

The center is a forward- this is the dude who manages the center of the ice. He is a highly skilled puck handler, skater and scorer. As primary scorers, these guys get a lot of attention- similar to a quarterback. If they are good looking like Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman or Mike Modano- oh boy. This is the last guy on whom you should develop a crush- too obvious. Don’t worry- there are so many to choose from and as you get more interested in hockey, which I hope you do- you will find a crush has nothing to do with the way a player looks but rather their style of play.

Centers You Might Recognize

Mario Lemieux

Wayne Gretzky

Steve Yzerman

Mark Messier

Peter Forsberg

Eric Lindros

Mike Modano

The Wingman (Different From in the Bar Scenario)

The wingers (right and left) play at either side of the center and concentrate of playing the corners- wrestling possession of the puck and engaging in extreme physical play. These guys are full contact sportsmen and are relied upon heavily. During offensive play, they are responsible for fighting for the puck, positioning themselves near the net to wait for a pass or to make passes to open team members. In defensive play, they are skilled in intercepting passes and attacking opposing defensemen when they have the puck. These players are fearless and fierce.

Wingers You Might Recognize

Brenden Morrow (L)

Cam Neely (R)

Jarome Iginla (R)

Luc Robitaille (L)

Bobby Hull (L)

Gordie Howe (R)

Bob Probert (R)

There are two ways to describe forwards- power and finesse. This is easy- a power forward will go through you or over you and a finesse forward will go around you so gracefully you might not even see him. Famous power forwards you might recognize are Keith Primeau, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier and famous finesse forwards include Wayne Gretzky and Mike Modano (though he is still grittier than Wayne). The finesse guys are awesome in their balletic maneuvering of the puck, stick handling and skating. I personally prefer the power forwards- I like a guy who isn’t afraid to make an UGLY goal.

The enforcer is a fading role- these guys were purposefully used to intimidate others, to defend their teammates with their physical play and fearlessness. Hot tempered and quick to fight- these guys created the old grudge matches that used to really draw a crowd. The enforcers helped give hockey its rough and tumble reputation. Names you might recognize are Joey Kocur, Bob Probert, Shane Churla, Chris Simon and Derian Hatcher. Basically, when these guys were on the ice, you didn’t want to have the puck, have been the last person who touched it or have put a nasty hit on one of their team members.

For some really intense video- check out YouTube for some Bob Probert moments. Sadly, it turns out he might have had some help dulling the pain with illegal substances- which makes it easier to punch someone until your fist crashes through their front teeth and is stopped only by the back of their throat.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No Labels Necessary

The Urban Dictionary- which should be your source for absolutely nothing other than trying to decipher your children’s texts, IM chats, Facebook messages or delightful lingo- has defined Cougar as: an older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim, to an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister, to a real hottie or MILF (a charming acronym for a sexually appealing mother).

Hmmm- does that mean any woman who dates a younger man is now called a Cougar? Yes. So, there has been established a label now for women- for the same thing men have been doing acceptably for hundreds of years. If you are a woman who has always dated men five or more years younger- you are now slapped by society with a negative label. Doesn't seem fair or accurate.

Why are not men who insist on dating or marrying women 10 to 20 years younger called … Great Whites? One of the most dangerous and predatory sharks, which preys on, well, anything alive. Honestly, when a man dates a much younger woman- he is lauded by his peers and the woman is considered to have “Daddy issues” or a "trophy wife." Why in this scenario is the woman the one with issues? Why don’t we assume the older dude is a closet pedophile? Don’t get me wrong- in a society convinced younger is better- it is no surprise there are so many older men in relationships with much younger women.

Men are allowed to age and even considered more handsome as they get older- where women are sent on an endless pursuit of youth through cosmetics and surgery. Why aren’t there TV shows about 50-year-old men competing for the affections of 20 year olds? Perhaps because it's gross.

Speaking of Hollywood- why are they selling the Cougar concept and why is the public buying it? Do we so enjoy women derogated? As defined above- the concept of an older woman dating a younger man has now turned into a woman preying on younger men. Why does there have to be a term? A show? Why do women who date or pursue men who are younger have to wear a label? Should they leave the house with a scarlet “C” on their chest? Should young men be “warned”? Certainly not. I don't know a man who has dated or had sex with an older woman who feels preyed upon or victimized in any way- vastly different than a small animal would feel being preyed upon by a Cougar.

Notice even with MILF the label goes to the woman. Not the man. Why isn’t there a “name” for younger men who pursue and are attracted only to older women? What about IMISOV (immature male in sexual overdrive)? OR, PAMWMI (post adolescent male with mommy issues)? Oh, wait- EAMWOC (emotionally arrested male with Oedipal Complex)? How come the woman gets the label?

What’s next- the “Grave Digger”? Women who date or pursue men 30 years older, so they can profit from them upon their death? It would seem so much of TV portrays women in a negative light. "Joe Millionaire," "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," "Cougartown," "Desperate Housewives," "Gossip Girls," the new "90210" and "Melrose Place." Why do we like to see women who are catty and hateful, dramatic, histrionic, likely insane, sociopathic and or psychopathic?

Don’t misunderstand- this is not me climbing up on a feminist soap box (the original articulation of feminism, by the way, was simply- equal rights, equal pay). I am the last person to go to bat for anyone (except someone being bullied or children and then look out- you might want to make sure you are on the right end of my weapon)- why? Because I am not a fan of groups or labels.

I believe if people spent more time articulating themselves instead of trying to fit into a prescribed role created by society- we might all be more emotionally literate and productive. Why are we so invested in aligning ourselves with others? I’m a democrat, I’m a social-liberal and a financial conservative, I’m Catholic, I’m a feminist, I’m a cancer survivor. I’m a widower. What is the point of all that? Providing someone with an overview of how well you fit in with another group instead of sharing who you are underneath the label?

What really does being a divorcee or Catholic have to do with the fact you are a successful entrepreneur, decided not to have children due to a major genetic issue in your lineage, you love to target shoot, enjoy playing piano, are a huge fan of video games and spend your weekends in cooking classes for fun?

Don’t use labels and don’t accept them either. When writing fiction, you are asked not to use dialogue tags-

“I hate you!” She said in a hateful tone. The statement is supposed to stand alone- you should not need to indicate how someone said something. If you, as a writer, have built the “scene” properly, there should be no reason for you to need the description of how it was said.

I feel the same is necessary in life. If you are a kind and loving, giving and generous person who honestly puts others needs before your wants, you needn’t run around telling everyone you are Christian. If you are looking to meet people and get to know them- announcing out of the gate you are a Republican, isn’t the best idea- unless following the articulation of being a Republican is what defines you and you have no other personality traits or interest other than pursuing your identity as a Republican. In that case, you might not get along with ANYONE- let alone a fellow Republican or even a Libertarian.

The point is- stop hiding behind labels to define who you are. I’m an anti-abortionist- what does that mean? Is that WHO you are? Are you no one other than that? Does it rule your life? No. Just be you. Allow yourself to be known beyond the labels. There is likely soooo much there worthy of knowing.

OK- I am radio silent tomorrow and Christmas day. I know none of you are shopping tomorrow because you are all so Clever, you got the gifts taken care of early and will be relaxing with friends and family with a favorite cocktail. On Saturday- have a LOVELY holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Steamed Green Beans And A Lettuce Wedge With No Dressing?

Men enjoy a nice, trim figure, but it galls them to dine with a woman who’s chosen a side order of green beans and a lettuce wedge with no dressing. Watch what you eat if you must - unless you are on a date. That’s the time to EAT.

According to Tom Walters, the former president of Morton’s of Chicago, one of the premier steakhouses in the world, a woman needs to know three things when dining in a steakhouse: the different cuts of meat, how she prefers her meat cooked and her way around a wine list (this could be limited to knowing what she enjoys).

A woman who can select confidently and enjoy at meal in a steakhouse will make an impression. Besides, isn’t it more fun to dine in a restaurant teeming with men instead of the hot, new sushi bar where a supermodel bomb just exploded?

The rules are changing and no longer are steakhouses dim, smoky, fine dining establishments that resemble gentlemen’s clubs- though these still exist and are fascinating. Nationwide, some of the older steakhouses are steeped in lore and historical value. A cursory bit of research will put you in touch with any important facts you might want to bring up during your meal.

Keeping up with the times and demands, you can delight in a good steak in just about any atmosphere, but the menus will look remarkably similar. Familiarizing yourself with the cuts of meat, sauces, sides and salads will ensure you are satisfied with your meal, and your companions will be impressed with your knowledge.

The cuts of meat you are guaranteed to find on a menu are:

Filet Mignon: The most popular cut for women, as it is a lean cut generally offered in a petite, regular and often double-cut (extra large) portion. Despite the leanness of this steak, it is extremely flavorful.

New York Strip: Less tender than the filet, but the increased marbling (fat running through) offer it superior flavor and texture. Men who enjoy this steak rarely order anything else. Prepared properly, this is a lovely cut of meat.

Porterhouse: The king of all steaks. Depending on the steakhouse, the ounces will vary. For example, Morton’s of Chicago offers a 64-ounce porterhouse- which is ideal shared, though I do know a few professional hockey players who have no problem vanquishing this behemoth piece of meat. The hallmark of this steak is what makes it a great steak for sharing on a date: on one side of the bone is a filet and on the other is a New York strip- so when you inquire as to your date’s favorite cut and he says strip, suggest you enjoy a porterhouse together. A fine feature of this steak is the bone itself. As with all bone-in steaks- much flavor is lent by the bone and the additional fat.

Rib-Eye: One of the most intensely flavored steaks you will find on any menu. The source of the remarkable taste is the amount of fat. Often steakhouses feature a bone-in version of this steak and many offer it blackened or rubbed (coated with spices and seasonings). The bone-in rib-eye is an impressive looking cut, as the bones are massive, offering a lovely presentation. This cut, trimmed of fat, is also part of a bone-in prime rib roast.

Prime Rib: Well trimmed of fat, but with the flavor of the rib-eye, this is most often served with the renderings of the meat mixed with some beef stock (au jus, which is French for “in it’s own juice”) for dipping. Another accompaniment you might request or find on your plate is horseradish, which will either be plain or made into a creamy white sauce with mayonnaise.

In recent years, steakhouses are buckling under pressure to offer healthier options and menu items more appealing to women. Often you will be able to select chicken, a pork loin or chop, or one of a couple of fish entrees. To compete with hordes of sushi restaurants, you might even find ahi tuna as an appetizer or entrée. It is, however, uncommon to find pasta on the menu unless it is a side item in the vein of macaroni and cheese.

It is not uncommon for sauces to be coupled with or offered as an accompaniment to steak. Diane sauce for steak will generally include the following ingredients- mushrooms, brandy, butter, onion, Worcestershire sauce and cracked pepper. Bearnaise sauce is similar to hollandaise (egg yolk, butter, lemon) but includes tarragon and shallots. Hollandaise is a typical addition to asparagus and or broccoli, both of which will be found in steakhouses.

Additional to asparagus and broccoli, mushrooms are a mainstay in these eateries, as are several varieties of potato. Count on mashed, baked, often hash browns and lyonnaise (sliced and fried with onion in bacon fat).

Tomatoes are another item on every steakhouse menu- whether in a salad or as a salad themselves, lovers of this fruit will not be disappointed. Other popular salads are baby spinach, field green, Caesar (make sure to inquire about inclusion of anchovies if you are averse) and lettuce wedge (if you are a vegetarian or don’t like bacon, make sure you inquire as to whether this salad includes bacon). Most establishments will not offer an entrée sized salad, as they don’t want to lose out on the opportunity to sell a giant piece of meat. Blue cheese dressing is a big steakhouse classic, but you can count on a few options.

As far as appetizers and desserts are concerned, each restaurant will have signatures. You can almost guarantee shrimp of some type, cheesecake and crème brulee.

Once you have selected a piece of meat (red or lamb)- knowing the temperature at which you prefer to consume it is critical. Steakhouses pride themselves on their ability to perfectly cook their meat, so plan on getting what you order or be comfortable sending it back. Here are descriptions you can count on:

Pittsburgh or Chicago rare, also called black and blue- this cooking method begins by charring the outer layer of meat over extremely high temperatures to sear in the juices and keep the interior raw.

Rare- steaks are gently cooked on the outside and have a cool, red center.

Medium rare- steaks are left with a warm, reddish pink center.

Medium- steaks are left with a light pink center.

Medium well- steaks will be cooked through and have very little color.

Well- I don’t advise you order your steak well. If I were your date, I would rather light $40 on fire- it would taste the same. You can use the uneaten portion to prop up a wobbly table leg.

A term you can use to fine tune your steak temperature is Plus. I like my steak rare plus, because instead of a cool red center, I want a warm red center that does not quite go to pink. It is asking for a bit more cooking without reaching the next level of thoroughness. Make sure you roll your eyes if the person taking your order doesn’t understand- honestly.

An easy way to avoid being hamstrung with a complicated wine menu is to defer to your dining companion. Let him know you like a certain type of wine, but I caution you against being too general, as in stating white vs. red. If you are a wine drinker, you know whether you enjoy pinot grigio or chardonnay, cabernet or merlot. If you truly are not discerning, allow him to select and then make certain you ooh and ahh over the selection. It would be rude at that point not to like what he selects, so suck it up- literally. It is often the case restaurants will have open bottles you can taste before purchasing, but with a more valuable wine, this will not be likely.

While some establishments still harp on pairing white with chicken or fish and recoil at the thought of drinking anything but red with steak, it really comes down to what the diner enjoys- don’t expect too much flack. If you don’t enjoy wine, don’t partake. Order something else entirely- honesty is always the best policy. If your date is a huge wine enthusiast, take interest in his expansive explanations and don’t be afraid to try new things. He will delight in your attention and inquiries.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Apologies- the Flu is Here

I apologize for being radio silent today. The FLU.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Too Much Information at Costco? Nah

I was in Costco yesterday because I freaking love Costco and often go for no good reason- which doesn't mean I don’t buy anything. It’s part of the charm of this cavernous place to have revolving inventory so your need to acquire is never quenched. My inability to pass up a good bargain at Costco aside- I had a moving experience- and I’m not talking about someone moving my cart to the car for me because it was so loaded down with items I'm certain I need.

In my rabid enthusiasm as I headed toward the wine section, I failed to yield and connected squarely with another cart. At the helm of the other was one of my neighbors I’m rather well acquainted with. He is dashingly handsome, happily married, father of two delightful children and enormously successful. He’s THE guy, THE husband, the one everyone either wants to be or wishes they were married to. At get-togethers he lingers with his wife and blushes as compliments abound- it’s shocking we have gotten to know one another at all as I'm never lingering near the women.

The conversation is always vastly more interesting maleside (like ringside, unless you are invited into the conversation). This particular man, let’s name him Jared, shares a nearly maniacal zeal for hockey- I can relate. It’s what initially brought us together, and then I got to know his family members- all of whom are lovely.

At any rate, I was shocked his cart was filled to capacity with clothing, electronics, books, movies and toys. I quickly surveyed his bounty and found it an eclectic mixture, considering his children were 3-year-old twin girls.

“Goodness, Jared.”

“Hi there.”

“Are you setting the girls up for college?”

“Oh, this? Nah. This is to take to the church.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I do it every year.”

I couldn’t help noticing it was the middle of the day and I’d never known him to make it home from the office prior to 7 p.m. after putting in an 11-hour day in the world of high finance.

“Is something wrong?”

“What? No. I just, it’s the middle of the day. Can’t your assistant take care of this?”

“Oh, sure. I just like to do it myself. Therapeutic.”

“Right, doing something for others.”

“Mmm. It goes a little deeper than that for me.”

I looked at him for a long moment- wondering if this was an invitation to inquire further or a random statement. I wanted to know the answer, so I prodded gently.

“Long story.”

I waited patiently, happy I was blocking his cart full of easily over $1,000 in merchandise- all of which was practical. When he paused, I raised an eyebrow in askance.

“Well, I guess I must have been 6 or so. I remember it was so cold in our trailer my brother and I were sitting as close to the dryer as we could. As soon as it was done we’d actually fight over who got to fold the clothes- because they were so warm.”

Trailer? I silently begged myself not react. I was under the impression he came from family money- so well polished and refined was he. Perfectly dressed at all times, courteous, etiquette flawless, manners impeccable, his wife not inclined toward work …

“It was looking to be a rather grim Christmas so we were pretending it wasn’t Christmas day. There was a knock on the door and we thought it was Mom’s new boyfriend, but it wasn’t. Two women I knew vaguely from the church wedged themselves into our home- they had a few bags with them. I could see wrapping paper and I remember being so excited. It wouldn’t have mattered what was under the paper.”

My throat grew tight and suddenly I felt guilty for prying. Then I realized he wasn’t reluctant to share. More so, he seemed to fear burdening me. Oversharing.

“I could smell food and I wasn’t sure what I was more excited about. A Christmas dinner or a present. All said and done, I got a fire truck and we had ham for dinner. It was perfect.”


“I, I, didn’t realize.”

“What? Oh, that I grew up poor? Exceedingly poor. I love that memory. It was the day I decided I wanted to be the church. I wanted to provide for others. I wanted to work hard so I could help. Those ladies made my year.”

“You and Kate are very generous in your donations and charitable efforts. She’s always acknowledged for it.”

“We try. There’s something about Christmas, though. Children. So much is made of this magical day. The thought of one child going without recognition makes me sick- so this is therapy. I start stock-piling when the toys come to Costco in October.”

“So that’s where they went!” I joked, though I didn’t feel like joking at all. I felt like bursting into tears. I’d have never imagined a man who was so invested in his work, career and family would take so much time to serve others. “I had no idea.”

“Why would you?”

“I’m sorry? I mean you’ve never mentioned this ... therapeutic effort.”

“I guess it’s private. I drop this stuff off at the church in brown bags and that is that.”

“You must purchase thousands of dollars in gifts- it would seem that deserves recognition.”

“Mmm. I don’t it for recognition. Kate doesn’t even know I do this. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not altruistic. I get a great deal of personal satisfaction out of serving others. It’s just not something that needs to be shared.”

“Thank you for sharing it with me.”

“I didn’t want you to think I had another family stashed somewhere.” He flashed me a dazzling smile with a wink and unhinged his cart from mine.

I walked away feeling I’d received a gift. I’d learned something meaningful and magical about someone I already cared for and admired.

As Christmas approaches, the stress level is rising. Try to remain focused- spend time with people who validate you. Think of ways you can help shoulder some of the stress in those around you. Alcohol can only go so far in easing the pressure.

This week, we will continue our wedding planning series. We need to talk about budget- grab a paper bag, valium or a bottle of wine- discussions of the budget will be among the most stressful. If you need a paper bag, valium and a bottle of wine …

We will get deeper into hockey- a discussion of position and terminology is forthcoming. After the bowl games and before the NBA finals and the Stanley Cup run- I am going to start a "sports argument of the week" section. This is a great way for Clever Girls to snag the spotlight- whether you are at a social engagement or talking to that new guy you continue to dazzle with your sports prowess. Often, all it takes is posing the question- you appear (and are) informed and then you give him an opportunity to express his views on a favorite subject. Sounds like a win-win.

I’ve received a number of e-mails with parenting questions, so I am going to start at the beginning next week with what to pack in your bag for the hospital and a few other tips.

I appreciate very much all of the feedback.



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