I propose a toast to you, my readers

So, yesterday morning, I went for a short run (redundant, really, since “short” is the only kind of run I ever seem to go for, if at all), and returned home feeling all fit and spry—and hungry. This last part is always a challenge, because the extent of my culinary abilities is limited to boiling and toasting—or so I thought. Turns out I can remove “toasting” from my résumé.

For the “boiling” part, I placed a couple eggs in a pot of water on the stove. For the “toasting” part, I placed a couple slices of wheat bread in the toaster oven, and set the toast-cooking dial to what I hoped would be an appropriate setting for achieving that perfect, golden-brown finish.

Already, we’re off to a bad start, because, as anyone with a few brain cells knows, it takes considerably longer to boil a couple of eggs than it does to toast a couple of pieces of bread—a fact that, had I not been high on endorphins and preoccupied with listening to Howard Stern, I probably would have considered before embarking on my culinary journey.

So the toaster oven goes “ding,” and the toast, I must say, was almost the perfect shade of golden brown for which I had hoped … but the eggs still had a ways to go. I let them boil for a few more minutes, then turned the toaster oven back on, with the intention of briefly reheating my lovely, golden-brown toast so that the butter I planned to spread upon it would melt accordingly, and—“Hey! That would create the perfect surface on which to sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon! I think I’ll mix a bit of those two seasonings together right now!”

I grabbed the sugar bowl. I grabbed the cinnamon container. I grabbed a small receptacle into which I poured and mixed the two. “Hmmm. Looks like it needs a little more cinnamon.” I added some. I mixed the concoction some more. “Looks good. I’ll just place that down right here and get my—TOAST! HOLY MACKEREL! AM THAT A FIRE? WHY, I DO BELIEVE IT AM!”

Yes, one of my two pieces of toast was completely engulfed in flames. Like, it appeared as though the entire slice had been dipped in JP-4 jet fuel. Its twin brother apparently was flame-retardant, which seemed really interesting to a small part of my brain, but I had no time for such musing, because, seriously, those flames were beginning to lick out of the top of the toaster-oven door, and were dangerously close to all of those random pieces of paper and photos hanging from the side of the refrigerator, against which the toaster oven had, until yesterday, lived.

At that point, option number one would have been to unplug the toaster oven, carry it out the back door and dump the flaming toast into the snow. Unfortunately, the outlet into which the toaster oven was plugged is literally behind the refrigerator, at a distance from the toaster oven that is exactly the length of said toaster oven’s electrical cord. Basically, there was no way to unplug the toaster oven without setting flame to my body.

Because I was unable to unplug the oven, I also was unable to douse the flames with water. I briefly attempted to blow out the flames with a blast from my super breath, but it quickly became evident that this method was going to accomplish nothing more than increase the likelihood of my home burning down.

And so I grabbed the fire extinguisher and blasted that flaming toast back to the depths of the fiery Hell from whence it came.

The events of the past four paragraphs occurred over the course of about nine seconds.

The most noticeable side effect of setting a piece of wheat toast on fire in your home and then blasting it with a fire extinguisher is the positively voluminous amount of smoke that billows throughout the house, thus necessitating the opening of all of the windows and doors—which, really, is perfect on a brisk, February morning.

Think I’m joking? Exhibit A:

Burnt toast

The residue on the glass door is what came out of the fire extinguisher; the brown-and-black dust on the pavement is the toast, which Zan and Jayna, upon returning home shortly after the incident occurred, promptly removed from the oven and pulverized.

Stick around; there’ll be more buffoonery to come, I assure you.

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Funniest Washington Post article ever

Big ups to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank for his piece today titled “In the House, Suddenly Righteous Republicans.” A six-paragraph excerpt follows. Hang in there; there’s a payoff:

Thirty-one-year-old Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is not a large man, standing perhaps 5 feet 3 inches tall in thick soles. But he packed a whole lot of chutzpah when he walked into the House TV gallery yesterday to demand that the new Democratic majority give the new Republican minority all the rights that Republicans had denied Democrats for years.

“The bill we offer today, the minority bill of rights, is crafted based on the exact text that then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi submitted in 2004 to then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert,” declared McHenry, with 10 Republican colleagues arrayed around him. “We’re submitting this minority bill of rights, which will ensure that all sides are protected, that fairness and openness is in fact granted by the new majority.”

Omitted from McHenry’s plea for fairness was the fact that the GOP had ignored Pelosi’s 2004 request — while routinely engaging in the procedural maneuvers that her plan would have corrected. Was the gentleman from North Carolina asking Democrats to do as he says, not as he did?

“Look, I’m a junior member,” young McHenry protested. “I’m not beholden to what former congresses did.”

Anne Kornblut of the New York Times asked McHenry if his complaint might come across as whining.

“I’m not whining,” he whined.

After you finish laughing, you can read the rest here.

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A little post-election reflection

SCENE: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, lunchtime, kitchen table.

“Daddy, why were you dancing and clapping?”

“Well, remember yesterday when you and Jayna went with me and Mommy to vote?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, the people who we voted for, and the people who we were hoping other people would vote for, got the most votes.”

“… [blink] … ”

“Because the good guys won and the bad guys lost, pal.”

“All right! High-five, Daddy!”

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Destination: Hell. Mode of travel: Handbasket.

It is election day. The future of our country hangs in the balance. The outcome will determine which party holds sway in Congress … and, therefore, the direction the nation will take during the next few years.

I subscribe to CNN.com’s email alerts, which they send out when an important news story breaks. They are surprisingly restrained in their use of these alerts; many days often pass without a single one arriving in my inbox. In fact, they have so far dispatched only one such alert on this momentous day. It reads as follows:

Britney Spears files for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.

Consider this Exhibit A in a presentation I’m working on titled “Why We’re All Completely Fucked.”

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Gilford Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

As anyone who has spent more than 60 seconds in my presence can tell you, I have several yarns I like to spin about exciting moments I have had with the members of Van Halen. The man standing between Wonder Woman and me in the photo above is Kevin Dugan, a good friend to whom I owe a great deal of credit for quite a few of those experiences—the latest of which took place last week, and buried the needle deep into the red on the Holy-Shit-That-Was-Coolometer.

Kevin is the bass-tech extraordinaire for Mr. Michael Anthony of the once-mighty Van Halen. Though that band seems to have gasped its last breath, Michael and singer Sammy Hagar are very much alive and kicking, and are spending the summer touring together. For some reason, their only New England-area stop was at a shed up in New Hampshire called the Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, which Wonder Woman and I discovered is located just north of The Middle of Fucking Nowhere. After driving for over an hour—a period of time during which we watched the weather go from bad to awful—we almost turned around and went home. It was largely because we didn’t want to blow off Kevin that we forged on … and, as it turned out, he made it more than worth our while.

Shortly after we arrived at the venue, Kevin set us up with passes and escorted us through the gate into the open-air backstage area, where we hung with him before the show and visited with Michael for a bit—and if there is such a thing as writing nonchalantly, I could try to do so right now, but I’d be bullshitting you … so forgive me for sounding like a starry-eyed fan-boy, but, as someone who began worshipping Van Halen starting at around age 12, it is still beyond surreal to have the bassist from that band recognize me on sight and say “Hey, Jon!” before shaking my hand and giving me a quick hug. To what I think is my credit, I respect this dynamic by resisting the urge to slip into starfucker mode and ask him to pose for pictures with us like he’s a prize deer when we see him. (And for those VH fans wondering: yes, Michael is at least as nice and as cool offstage as you would hope).

So, anyway, here’s the part where Kevin kicks things up a notch.

Wonder Woman and I had tickets that I had scored earlier in the week from Sammy’s publicist. Those tickets, it turned out, were for seats set a good distance back from the stage, which I have identified below with the two red circles in section E.

Meadowbrook seating chart

You know how sometimes a radio station or an artist will have staff members roam through the audience at a concert and give ticket upgrades to people with less-than-stellar seats? Well, Mr. Dugan, it turns out, has a similar such program, which last Wednesday involved upgrading Wonder Woman and I from the two red circles in section E to the two black circles located on the stage. Cha-ching! It is from there that we watched the entire show and hung with Kevin while he worked the bass rig.

Sammy’s stage is designed to look like the inside of his Mexican nightclub, the Cabo Wabo Cantina, and includes an actual bar. The moment the show began, the bartender delivered to Wonder Woman and me a couple of big, fat, delicious Waboritas (margaritas made with Sam’s own Cabo Wabo tequila—which, by the way, is muy delicioso). When we emptied those, he promptly delivered two more. “Mas Tequila,” indeed.

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

The concert was split into two halves, the first half of which featured Sammy and his band—drummer David Lauser, guitarist Victor Johnson and bassist Mona—playing a bunch of Sam’s solo material and cuts from his days with Montrose. Michael spent most of that set hanging out with Kevin and us, then strapped on a bass and hit the stage with Sammy, David and Vic for the second half of the show—or, as I like to call it, The Part That Kicked Total Ass, which comprised about an hour of nothing but Van Halen songs.

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

By the time it was over, Kevin had loaded us down with guitar picks, the setlist and an empty bottle of Cabo Wabo that Mike, Sammy and Mona had signed for us during the show.

The full set of pictures we took do a pretty good job of capturing the experience.

Meanwhile, I’d just like to say: Hey, Kev—thanks. For everything.

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