As I write this I’m not out of my NCAA Pool yet. I don’t think. No disasters. Did I think about putting Wisconsin in the Final Four? SURE. But, I held off because even someone who doesn’t watch college basketball knows that Wisconsin can play terrible at any time, plus they were going against fabled gunner, Marshall Henderson. Hend0 went 3-12 from downtown on Friday. Shooters gotta shoot. The benchmark to any pool is surviving through Sunday with your Final Four intact. If you don’t have that–you’re just rationalizing your failure. I understand this as well as anyone. WELL, if I get 6 of 8 and then 3 of 4 and I have the winner? NOPE. You’re out. As an aside, I’ve got to say well done to the Philly teams (LaSalle and Temple). I’m happiest for the real fans of those schools (especially LaSalle) and also for the fringe like me that vicariously jump on anytime they win a game. Big Five pride! So, that’s enough basketball, how about some more pressing topics in the mailbag?
Q: My soon to be husband and I are pretty well set for “stuff.” We’ve thought about not registering for gifts anywhere (fingers crossed for a cash explosion) but he had the idea to register at Total Wine. Not formally, but you know what I mean. Is it OK to have our wedding guests stock our bar for the first year of our marriage? Jaqueline Daniels, Newark, DE.
A: For those not in the know, or those lucky enough to live somewhere where liquor sales aren’t ruled with an iron fist, Total Wine is a BOOZE EMPORIUM. Exhaustive selection of wine, spirits and beer and all at bargain basement Delaware prices. It’s quite a place. Now, I’ve never really participated in a wedding registry. I’ve never registered and I don’t buy off the registry. When I’m flush, you get cash. When I’m not–you get well-written sentiment and a hearty thanks for the meal. I imagine some people get very ENTHUSED about the registry gifts. “Where’s that last place setting…..YES!” For me, it would kind of defeat the purpose of presents, but then again–so does cash. I think the rules of registry are becoming a bit blurred these days. You can register for your honeymoon, which feels a bit awkward to me (two person jacuzzi tub’s on Aunt Gretel) and who knows what else people are fleecing their guests for. I’d like to register for the down payment on a Buick–cool? I think Total Wine is an inspired idea. It’d be a great chance to get those liquors that you don’t use everyday. You could build an adult bar and there would be price points for everyone. If this doesn’t happen, it should probably start–immediately. If I don’t register at Hershey Park I may steal this idea.
Q: What’s the more annoying left turn maneuver, the preemptive left as soon as the light turns green, or the never-ending left where people just keep running the light and dare you to do something? Vi Olation, Fort Myers, FL.
A: The left turn arrow is such a roller coaster of emotion. You love it when you are making the left, but waiting for it when you want to go straight through the intersection? It’s like TIME STOPS. Someone once said to me that driving would be a lot easier if there were no left turns, and that’s true, but then of course…never mind. To set the record straight, both of these scenarios have caused me to lose my temper in the car. The quick left in front of you isn’t really dangerous, what are you going to do, floor it immediately? It’s just so arrogant. It’s like the other driver is saying, hold on a moment while I go ahead. I’m more important than you. That bothers me. If I even have to hesitate for .1 second that person is going to get a sarcastic go-ahead wave or a one-handed WTF? But, the continued left after the green arrow has gone away is definitely more annoying. It can be dangerous, because once you have the green you kind of assume the other guys are going to stop, but it can also lead to the clogged intersection. One time I’m sitting in traffic and the left turners just kept coming right into the middle of the intersection. I’m looking at green and can’t move an inch. The last time this happened to me, I left the road rage to the guy in front of me. I actually thought he might just plow into the intersection and leave the rest to chance.
Q: I heard something on the radio the other day about toast. Bear with me. The question is, with so much technology in this world, why does it still take so long to make toast, and why doesn’t said toast ever come out how you want it? Chris P. Corners, Marshfield, MO.
A: If you could microwave toast that would increase the importance of that appliance tenfold, but to me it seems like bread just doesn’t want to be toasted. Have you ever seen an antique toaster? It’s quite a contraption. And I’m sure it didn’t work. There are countless problems with toast, most notably you need even heat and it takes a while for any type of oven (toaster or otherwise) to heat up. That first minute your toast is in the toaster oven? Pretty much NOTHING is happening. You don’t just put a cake in the oven, you preheat, but that’s cake. Toast is rushed, it’s ghetto. It should be much easier to make, but the same rules of ovens apply. An actual toaster probably does a bit of a better job, but toasters are cheap. When you pay 8 bucks, you get 8 bucks worth of toasting quality. This isn’t to say that expensive toasters work well–because they don’t either, really. I think the best way to make toast is under constant monitoring (with a flip) in a toaster oven. You don’t have to worry about bread size or a rogue coil being super hot and burning the horsebleep out of one corner. This takes incredible patience, though, and a bit of a time commitment. No one wants to do this. IT’S JUST TOAST. So, we settle. That’s the bottom line. Society, as a whole, has accepted this mediocre toast situation. Everyone is still out there buying the cheap, ineffective toasters. It’s a bit like setting out to get a tan, I think. Do you want to make the full commitment, the SPF, the slow and steady process, or are you OK with a nice foundation burn? When it comes to toast, people love that foundation burn.
Q: Since Tiger Woods has found new love (obviously the real key to his golf game), what would you think if a relative of yours started dating Tiger? Mortified, or psyched for the Masters badges? Tinsley Vonn, Denver, CO
A: We’re talking female relative? That’s a tough one. I think most guys have that one friend (or more) that they love, but would never want their sister, or even their 9th cousin to date. You’ve seen too much of their repertoire, so to speak. It’s funny that guys can exclude, “how he treats his girlfriends,” from friendship criteria. I’m sure girls do this as well. But, Tiger seems like an extreme case of this phenomenon. His checkered history is right there to read on the internet. Guy is an allegedly recovering, alleged sex addict. WELCOME TO THE FAMILY! But, as far as Tiger’s potential as a “guy friend?” It’s high. Forget Masters badges, Tiger could take you to play Augusta National. Throw in free Nike stuff for life, access to all kinds of golf courses, professional golfers, a substantial pile of money, Tiger’s reputation as a decent guy’s guy and it’s quite a tempting scenario. The flip side of the coin is just too rough, though. Do you want your relative to be the butt of constant text message and Perkins jokes? Would you want them plastered all over the internet in creepy, posed photographs? I believe in Tiger’s golf game, but I also think he might run his marriage total to three or four over the years. I’d vote to keep my family out of it.
Q: Pretty significant argument going here. A friend of mine consistently tries to order, ‘extra steak,’ on his cheesesteak, even if the place doesn’t offer it on the menu. He claims that cheesesteaks are notorious for “skimping” and he wants a full meal. I say he’s doing a dangerous dance and is likely just messing up “the ratio.” Please advise. Whitney Whizz, Ardmore, PA.
A: I think I’ve covered cheesesteak construction pretty extensively over the years, but for the benefit of new readers, the most important parts of a cheesesteak are #1–roll, #2–cheese/meat ratio, and #3–overall meat quality and flavor. You can eat filet cheesesteaks all you want, but that choice meat doesn’t make it a better sandwich than your typical rib eye. You paid 13 dollars and maybe it was good, but if it wasn’t on the proper roll, or if it was mis-cheesed then you’ve made a very big mistake. My basic thoughts on extra meat are it’s an option to do at some place that doesn’t make a great cheesesteak. If you are getting an average product, at least pack that thing with beef. I’ve found the extra meat is never properly cheesed and you end up with a loose, crumbly layer of meat on top of the sandwich. It falls out, it doesn’t taste as good, and it gives you an idea of what a plain steak sandwich might taste like. My god, who would EVER order that? Inevitably, the best bite is next to last one when you’ve worked your way into the base of the roll where the cheese tends to gather. Finally you get what you’re looking for, but this is what a good cheesesteak can do on every bite. Is John’s in Frazer great because of the bread, or because “Chris” is a master cheese ratio man? Toss-up. When I order a cheesesteak, I’m looking for a distinct taste and experience. I’m not expecting the Carnegie Deli. I’m going to side with Whit on this one.
Q: What takes more athleticism, dunking a basketball or quickly recalibrating the shower temperature after a flush, or similar incident without burning yourself or suffering an embarrassing injury? John Commode, Omaha, NE.
A: I can’t dunk a basketball, but I feel like both of these require great instincts. You just do what comes natural. My shower doesn’t have a problem with flushed toilets, but the temperature shoots around in all directions on a whim. The hot and cold faucets are MOSTLY DECORATIVE. When I feel that first scalding drop of water it’s a calculated process. Divert the shower head, duck and lean around the stream, adjust the faucet and then ESCAPE to the safety of the back of the shower. All this happens in a split second and while you are compromised by your own nudity. Assuming you are in your own shower and not the one at sleepover camp where everyone is in swimming trunks. Everyone has that concern about the shower fall in the back of their heads. So humiliating. I say all this, because I do understand your question. But, like I said, I cannot dunk a basketball. I’m not even sure if I can fan the bottom of the net at this point. The move in the shower is a SKILL that requires precision, like shooting billiards. The dunk is still more athletic.