Monday, April 21, 2008

Sitting at the Seder Table of my mind…

Just a few thoughts, while I sit around the next few weeks letting the matzah move at a glacial pace through my system…

Is anyone rushing to KFC to try its new “KFC Famous Bowls”? I think the only thing that makes them famous is that every bowl comes with a surprise hidden at the bottom: a hermetically sealed Lipitor.

You have three delectable buckets of swill to choose from, but here’s one description from KFC’s website-“a generous serving of our creamy mashed potatoes, layered with sweet corn and loaded with bite-sized pieces of crispy chicken. Then we drizzle it all with our signature home-style gravy and top it off with a shredded three-cheese blend. It's all your favorite flavors coming together. (Subject to availability)”.

Eric says: Its like an orgiastic feast for the senses…and you better come to your senses before you eat this. Mashed potatoes, then corn, then deep fried chicken, then gravy then cheese…I think a deep-fried Twinkie would be healthier.

740 calories, 54% of your RDA fat intake, 46% of your RDA saturated fat intake, 98% of your RDA sodium intake, 21% of your cholesterol intake. You’ll be happy to know that it does have 10% of your RDA Vitamin C and 20% of your RDA calcium (no doubt from the heavy cream in the potatoes).

“Subject to availability”? Why? Because the person working the food line (not really a “cook” or “chef”, more like an “assemblyman”) might have a stroke making this thing. Just smelling this thing might put you in a food coma.

I’m sure one of you, my cast of thousands of anonymous readers have eaten one. If you have lived to tell about it, let me know how it is. I live vicariously through you.

Unlike a blog, where you are practically mandated to post a response (a habit many of you readers have not yet adopted), one feature of electronic versions of newspapers that is driving me nuts is the ability to post comments after stories. Why do we need this? I don’t mind reading an article written by someone trained to be a journalist, and maybe someone who will win a Pulitzer someday, but do I need to read comments by “Anonymous” or some other ridiculous screen name. Most of the comments border on the pathetic, and never reach sublime. As a colleague notes, these comments after the articles are like the bathroom graffiti of yesteryear. I half expect to read, “here I sit now broken hearted…”


Passover began Saturday night, and we used a new Haggadah (book used to lead the service and re-tell the Exodus from Egypt.) The “Seder” or “service” can last anywhere from a half hour to several hours. However, I’ve seen an email circulating that has a one-minute Seder. This is catching fire, like “8 Minute Abs”.

My version of the 5-second Seder is like every Jewish holiday, which can be summed up in the following manner:

They tried to oppress us;
We beat them;
Let’s eat.

The problem is that with Passover, the punishment keeps on coming. No longer are we in bondage in Egypt, but we are still “bound” by Streit’s (a brand of matzah for those of you not of the faith). Beware of any holiday where prunes are served as dessert.

Speaking of Passover, the great Charlton Heston has gone to the great chariot race in the sky.

So, I say to you dear readers…”take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”

You’ve been a great audience. Try the soylent green.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Coffee Cup Philosophy

This may come as a surprise for you, but I spend some time each day at Starbucks. It is truly part of my “Third Realm”, that place where no one bothers you and you can regroup, re-assess and look to your inner Juan Valdez for guidance. It’s also a place where you can pick up a bit of philosophy, found on the side of the Starbucks’ coffee cups, called “The Way I See It.”

Last week, I read “The Way I See It”-the author writes about how she and her cousin were born a week apart, but the cousin was raised by illiterate farmers in Cambodia, and stayed on the family farm, while the author moved from Cambodia to Southern California and has now received her Ph.D. Separated by a week in age, and thousands of miles of geography, the two cousins come from the same stock, but their lives have, and will continue to take wildly divergent paths.

The same day, in a moment of synergistic serendipity, there was a special shout out to “Doogie Houser, MD” on…wait for it…”How I Met Your Mother.” At the end of the show, Barney (played by “Doogie” himself-Neil Patrick Harris) types, sitting at a blue “DOS” screen, about the lessons he learned that day. I love these little “in jokes” (a Doogie Houser tribute 20 years since it was broadcast), but this was done in a moment of self-reflection by Barney…so it got me thinking.

At any point in my life, I could have taken a different turn…a different path. I wonder how lucky I am, that I grew up in a moderately upper-middle-class town, with exposure to culture and educational resources not available everywhere, even in this country (to hammer this point home, I recommend Rory Kennedy’s documentary “American Hollow” about Appalachia). I can thank my parents for that, and frankly, since my father served in the Army in Korea, I’m very lucky I didn’t grow up in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea instead of Boston. Oddly, at any moment in anyone’s lives, any little decision made by people beyond your control could impact your life forever.

Tonight, I participated in a first time homebuyer forum. In the faces of these potential buyers, the single people or the young couples, I see the hope of a new generation of homeowners. But I can’t help but think that for each of them, or of us, there’s an illiterate cousin farmer somewhere, not nearly as lucky as we, even if we don’t see that.

You’ve been a great audience. Now, for a few words from Richard Gere-“Free Tibet”.