Anyone who reads this blog regularly and who has a memory for odd bits of trivia probably remembers my preference for restaurants to stay in their areas of “expertise.” Tuna at Dunkin’ Donuts? NO. The pulled pork that has returned to Subway? Absolutely not. Just because you like Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t mean you have to eat there all the time. You can get lunch somewhere else. Another restaurant, and I’m using the term loosely, has entered this realm. Not only with the meal, but with the ridiculous claim attached. Panera has made the claim their new salad contains the best shrimp on Earth. They scoured the globe for this shrimp. Who exactly did the scouring? Who decided it was the best shrimp? Not Important. What’s important is that you go to Panera (subtitle Bread) for shrimp. Think about that while we go in for a mailbag…
Q: Would you rather be the parent who makes the best grilled cheeses and have that glory but also the obligation of making the grilled cheese, or the parent who makes the worst grilled cheeses–freeing you from lunch duty but also saddling you with tremendous shame? Char Loaf, Clearwater, FL.
A: I can’t come up with a scenario where I would want to be the one who cannot make a grilled cheese. And, really the whole concept of someone making a grilled cheese better than me is absurd. I laugh at the MERE NOTION. I don’t routinely make grilled cheese sandwiches for young people, but if I did I imagine my popularity would know no bounds. I can make any kind of grilled cheese you want. Fancy, ghetto, with ham, bacon–it doesn’t matter. The key to making a good grilled cheese is pan control. Grilled Cheese Prospectus lists 90% of all grilled cheese errors being due to pan temperature. So, there you go. I also don’t really see myself tiring of making grilled cheeses. Every time you make grilled cheese you can eat a piece of cheese. That seems like a fair wage for the work required. Even if I had to make 20 a week for a kid who ate no other food and barely gleaned enough nutrients from his diet to survive, I think I can handle the burden. It’s got to be better than serving up a mess that tastes like last night’s burnt pork chop and have the kid look at you funny or worse yet throw a tantrum. I imagine the graver scenario is you make the inferior grilled cheese and yet you have to do all the cooking. I picture some stay at home dad butchering meal after meal, a little tyke laments, “Mommy’s grilled cheeses aren’t black.” That’s when the Dad screams, “Mommy’s NOT HERE.” And, throws the pan across the kitchen. Things just got interesting.
Q: Have you ever not bought something because it was buy one get one free? Like, you only wanted one, but you’d feel like an idiot paying full price so you just don’t get any at all? Phil Price, Meadowlands, NJ.
A: Thankfully we live in an era where refrigeration has been invented. Are you aware of this? Or that most products have very long shelf lives? Is this buy one, get one tuna tartare? I think I know what you mean though, it’d probably apply to unhealthy foods. Ice Cream? When Turkey Hill Ice Cream went buy one/get one back in the day our freezer turned into a REAL PARTY. Entenmann’s is known to run a buy one/get one special as well. That’s dangerous. Especially if it is across the full line of products. I’ve fell victim to that, and YES, I do feel guilty about that second box, but never enough to leave it on the shelf and certainly not enough to not get any danish. If something is pretty cheap, I will occasionally ignore the free second item if I REALLY only want one, but again, I’ve never changed my mind completely. Don’t let a sale deter you from getting what you actually want.
Q: I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I’ve contemplated buying something with PENN on it, maybe a hat? It’s a nice straightforward navy blue, nothing garish. My question is, does this make me an Ivy League poseur? Anyone in Alabama can wear a Crimson Tide shirt without incident, but I feel like if I get this hat, it will lead to a lot of “Did you go to Penn?” Then the person frowns and walks away. D.C. Cubed, Joplin, MO.
A: Are you sure you didn’t go to Penn? Surely you are smart enough if you know how to spell poseur. Is Penn a good school by the way? I was not aware of that. I thought Penn was where you went when you couldn’t get into Bucknell. But seriously, I understand your dilemma. Most Ivy League schools, deservedly or not, still have enough cache that you are bound to get questions about your Penn gear. Or Yale gear. Or whatever. The person will expect you to be an alumni, to have sired or bore an alumni, be closely related to an alumni–something. If you walk down the street in a shirt from a state school no one is going to ask, or care, if you went there, are just a fan of the football team, or go the shirt out of a dumpster. No offense to state schools, it’s just the way it is–they don’t inspire curiosity. What you are asking me is, can I wear a Penn hat because I like the color? That’s a question in its own right, and then there is the Penn subplot. I am not for any school getting special treatment, so Penn or Penn State Delco we’re going to treat this as one question. Can you wear a hat because you just like the color? SURE. You just have to be prepared that you may be questioned about the hat and then people will make judgments based on what you have to say. People are so JUDGE-Y.
Q: It’s fantasy football drafting time. Any great pearls of wisdom this year? Anita Hundcuff, Houston, TX.
A: Well, I did win my league last year, so I’m speaking from a position of advanced authority when I tell you, YES, I do have plenty of fantasy football advice. The tip that is really going to put you over the top is this–you need a QB on your team that runs the ball. Not everyone is going to get Cam Newton, or RG3, or Colin Kaepernick, but if you can, it’s time to bail on the pocket passer. Fantasy football is wildly skewed in the favor of QBs who run. Newton won a million leagues two years ago, RG3 was a revelation, even Michael Vick has his moments. At their best, running QBs are like having an extra player on your starting roster. Want to know how crazy am I about this? I’d consider drafting, or closely monitoring Terrelle Pryor* as backup. Pryor is not a good quarterback. He throws the ball very poorly. But, he’s big and he can run. He knocked off a 25 yard TD run last night, and that’s 8.5 points right there. ON ONE PLAY. Who cares if he goes 7-23 for 84 yards if he runs for 100 and two scores? The Raiders have Matt Flynn as their starter–that feels tenuous. All I’m saying is, if you need a spot start late in the season, or your guy goes down with an injury, Pryor the running QB might be the choice over Carson Palmer and his maybe 2 points, maybe 20 points weeks. I think he’s going to be the starter before the end of the year, and it’ll only take one big game on the ground and he’ll be gone. Keep your eyes open. So, that’s the tip. Get a running QB as a starter or a stowaway, and always take the best player available for the first 5-7 rounds of your draft. A winning fantasy team doesn’t need balance, it needs about 5 or 6 guys that can blow up at any time. Depth means horsebleep in the playoffs. Good luck out there.
*Wrote this a few days ago, had my draft last night. Took Terrelle Pryor (who may be in line to start now) in the final round. May cut him next week, but for now–he’s there.
Q: Have you ever given yourself a nickname? Or tried to get one to stick? Bub Mack, Richmond, VA.
A: I don’t think I have ever given myself a nickname. Or gone Constanza and tried to trick people into calling me “T-Bone.” You can’t give yourself nicknames. I think I’ve talked about this, but that doesn’t mean people still don’t do it. ALL THE TIME. You know what’s weird? When people come back from college and they have a new nickname. Do they really? Sometimes you WONDER. The closest I got, I think, was maybe when I was like 11 years old I had a three or four hour stretch where I wished my last name was Mc-Something. OR, could be easily shortened into something catchy. I didn’t really have a nickname, so I wanted to force one? I eventually got over it. I’ve failed to get nicknames to stick on other people, but never myself. I’ve really only ever had two nicknames. There are people now who call me, “Grossy,” something I was not called in my youth–though I would have EMBRACED it. And, during my freshmen year of college, there was a brief period where I was known as “Crafty.” Let your imaginations RUN WILD.
Q: Any ideas or thoughts about what’s going on here? Can we get some sample dialog?
A: Well, as I’m sure everyone knows, Kate Upton had a golf lesson from Arnie today. I believe it’s a Golf Digest venture. Golf Digest put a team of thousands together and thought, “How do we sell more Golf Digests?” So, Kate Upton, accomplished equestrian, and Arnie have a bit of history. They rubbed elbows during Bay Hill and Arnie remains a sucker for the ladies, although his trademark confidence may be waning a bit in this shot. Perhaps Kate was knocking it by him. I DON’T KNOW. Do I think they made chit-chat? Perhaps. I don’t know if I have the heart to fully lampoon The King. My guess is during the entire encounter, Arnie was probably thinking, “If it were 30 years ago, I would have given it an honest shot. Now, I’ll settle for a hug.” And from Kate I’m getting a lot of, “Oh, Grandpa.” Good for Arnie though, and bonus points if he sidled up behind her to work on tempo. That stuff doesn’t teach itself.