X Explore Springdale

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I’m not quite sure how to take it. The Springdale Chamber of Commerce revised the horrid waffle-fry logo and made a variant for the Springdale Advertising Commission: Explore Springdale. It is a similar logo, except the crazy waffle-fry base has been morphed into two overlapping Xs. I’m really going to miss seeing the waffle-fry logo so often because those seizures it elicited were becoming my best friend. I’d apologize to Springdale for mocking the design logo, except that it was done on purpose instead of as a result of a lost bet, as I had originally speculated.

Here’s the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/ExploreSpringdale/

Here’s the website: http://explorespringdale.com/

As a citizen of Springdale and the only resident legally named X, I give the double-X variant two left thumbs up. It’s phenomenally better as a logo than the crisscross polychromatic nightmare known as the waffle-fry.

Before I forget to say something useful, Explore Springdale is an informational page for tourism and goings-on in our fair city. These are the same folks who sent the last Mayor to Mars and also promised to give a free taco lunch to each resident of Springdale twice a year. I made those last two claims up but since I received a cease-to-exist letter, I can no longer pretend to be the spokesperson for any city official of Springdale. (They took my company car away from me, too.)

You can also follow Team Springdale: https://www.facebook.com/teamspringdale/, Downtown Springdale: https://www.facebook.com/DowntownSpringdale/, and Springdale Stories: https://www.facebook.com/Springdale-Stories-1763247583924…/…

Keeping up with all the activities here is quite a task, even if you have two secretaries like I do.

Springdale is no longer the town I grew up in, thank goodness. It’s better by almost every measure. As much as I chide the logo debacle, it’s looking spectacular out there these days.

PS: The obvious “X” in this logo is much appreciated. I keep joking that you are building me trails and new sights – just for me personally. This logo variant certainly adds evidence to my positive paranoia.

The Rhinestein Cowboy

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Part of this story is true, part is an embellishment. As I was telling jokes today, someone reacted contrarily to my contention that Glen Campbell was a member of the Messianic Judaism sect, something I learned about him when I was going back through his music a couple of years ago.

(One of my jokes I sometimes tell is this: “Did you know Glen Campbell has a brother who is a comic? His name is Grin Campbell.”) It’s okay to groan for reasons other than who occupies the White House.

As I was growing up, I had a viral aversion to country music. My Uncle Buck, who had been immersed in the country music scene, told me more than once that I should have followed guitar and bass to music, rather than orchestral instruments. As I’ve aged, I acquired a taste for a huge variety of music, including a lot of country music. It’s true I’m just as likely to listen to Japanese Yodeling as any other genre. I used to loathe “Rhinestone Cowboy” like it was an assault on my eardrums. That turned out to be the case with a great deal of music, as I associated it with the drunken brutality of several of my family members.

My favorite Glen Campbell memory was the time I recorded a duet with him in Topeka, Kansas. He had been invited to do a couple of cover tunes. That’s how we ended up recording “Rhinestein Cowboy” for the Jewish Musical Alliance.

PS: For those who like actual facts, Glen didn’t write and also wasn’t the first person to record “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

An Early Morning Walk in Springdale

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When I went to bed last night, I instinctively set both alarms. Dawn double-checked, both due to her infallible nervous condition and the fact that she has an allergic reaction to klaxons blaring at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning. (She also dislikes bagpipes and trumpet practice at that hour, too – a lesson I learned the hard way.)

Regardless, the feline alarm started meowing at 3:30 so any concerns about the alarm clock accidentally waking us were misguided. As I was practicing my dedication to the slumbering arts, I foolishly attempted to ignore the cat the first few times he attempted to rouse me from my horizontal and stuporous state. Ten minutes later, Güino upped his game by adding involuntary massage via cat paws to his repertoire. He’s been known to gnaw on exposed toes if necessary. One of these days I’m going to coat my toes in cayenne pepper to surprise him.

I decided to get up and take a walk earlier than I wanted to. I drove and parked near Emma Street in downtown Springdale. It was sublime. Again, I had the feeling that most of the inhabitants of the place had been whisked away by an unseen hand, leaving me the entire run of the place. The new Walter Turnbow park by Shiloh Square is spectacular enough during the day; seeing it without people before the sunrise was both eerie and interesting. I walked the trail in both directions, and only toward the end of my long walk did I meet any other souls on the dark trail. A motley group of youths was long-boarding the long incline toward the rear of the fire station. I could hear the crescendo of the wheels on the concrete long before I could discern their silhouettes approaching against the distant lights. Their laughter and jabber approached and just as quickly swept by, retreating to a whisper.

If you’ve never walked the trails in the dark, they are spectacular, especially the portion running near Bluff Cemetery. It never occurs to me to feel unsafe, either for the unlikely presence of uneven pavement or from nefarious passersby. French fries are a greater danger to me than walking in nocturnal environments could ever be.

I stopped and took my picture by the Chamber of Commerce sign facing Emma Street as my backdrop. The hideous logo adopted by Springdale a while back openly mocked me as I did, its alien crisscross of bizarre tic-tac-toe still reminding me that there is no accounting for taste. (Note: Springdale has done an amazing job these last few years, one worthy of frequent mention. The logo, however, is as inspirational as getting one’s face spritzed by underarm perspiration on a languid summer day.)

So far, each time I’ve chosen to walk somewhere different, I’ve found a little corner of Springdale that had been concealed to me. I appreciate all these people working to make these new places for me.

Robinson Farms and Roasted Everything

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In a weird twist, my favorite fruit and vegetable stand, operated by an older gentleman named Jim (who I’ve written about before), accepts credit cards and now has a Facebook page. (Link at bottom…) Anyone who hasn’t included him on their routes is missing out.

I stopped in today for just a watermelon and departed with tomatoes, a cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumbers. Once home, I made a plate of cut tomatoes, with a dash of red wine vinegar, curry, Tajin, and a few sprinkles of mozzarella. I’d tell you how good it was, but I would have to slap you for knowing how much I enjoyed it. PS: I ate basil, garlic and onion tomatoes for breakfast, directly from the can. I sprinkled them with Tajin and lemon pepper. I noted that people around me experienced burning eyes and dripping noses but the symptoms seemed to dissipate a few hours later.

I’ve discovered that I love roasted chickpeas. Just to be obstinate, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of roasted items. I made roasted black beans over the weekend. Last week, I bought a new stove with the intention of using it until it catches fire. I do most of the cooking, but my wife Dawn is by far the better cook. Being ignorant of what is supposed to work is half the fun for me. Most of the things I prepare for myself probably fall under the category of “chemical weapons” as far as she’s concerned. I’ve started rating her reactions based on the duration of her eye rolls once she sees what nonsense I’ve been preparing.

To appease my bottomless potato chip and french fry hunger, I’ve been making sliced potatoes in the oven a lot lately. Over the weekend, I made a marinade of sesame sauce and curry. I almost needed CPR it was so delicious. It’s true that the cat almost vomited when he smelled it, but I doubt cats are accustomed to catching sesame-curry mice in their native fields.

I’ve always known how much more I prefer the spices and sauces to the actual entrée, but it’s getting a little ridiculous. At some point, you can expect to find me dipping strips of cardboard into 23 little separate dipping bowls.

I did grill over the weekend. I discovered that there is a word for ‘lazy vegetarian,’ too. The word is “Reducetarian.” Dawn and I are quite fascinated with white meat ground turkey breast. It’s great in everything. Yesterday, I substituted almost all the white ground turkey with roasted corn I prepared in the new oven and tomatoes for my half of the dish.

In case I forget, if you don’t know what “Tajin” is or the incredible taste it can add to both fruit and vegetables, I would recommend it to anyone interested in trying something new. You can get it in single-serving packets or larger bottles. Start with the “Clásico” variety.

The prancing cat has nothing to do with my commentary. But everyone likes prancing cats.

Robinson Farms   (< Click for link.)

The Best Damn Roasted Cucumber Recipe Ever Devised

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Expert Cooking Advice From X Teri, Noted Chef

As a noted expert in the field of cooking, I’ve figured out the whole “Roasted Cucumber Slices” thing.

I made some today with lemon juice and Tajín. Dawn at least tried them when I said, “They evoke the taste of fried green tomatoes.” She popped one in her mouth and immediately puckered up. She then reminded me she doesn’t like fried green tomatoes. I’m glad Fannie Flagg is still alive, otherwise, my wife’s reaction would have earned her a downgrade in reputation.

If you’re interested, I deviate wildly from most of the recommended websites in regards to roasted cucumber slices. Some sites recommend low temperatures such as 170 for longer times. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

First, heat the oven to at least 400. Spray a metal cooking sheet with your favorite cooking spray.

As much as I love parchment paper, you don’t need it for this unless your cucumbers are more desiccated than the mouth of a starving vampire.

(Real men will note that they should use axle grease for the cooking sheet. But on the other hand, real men don’t know how to cook roasted cucumber slices: it’s in the rule book under “No.”)

Before putting the seasoned cucumber slices on the pan, heat it in the oven for 3-4 minutes. You should also count to 180 in a foreign language while you wait. It won’t help you cook any better, but it will give you a pretentious air necessary to be regarded as a “good cook.” (And not the “Breaking Bad” kind of cook, either, no matter how pretty Blue Ice is in the summer sunlight.

I prefer using smaller cucumbers. Wash them but don’t peel them. Only people who think limited-edition collector’s plates peel their cucumbers. Just don’t do it. Slice the cucumbers into very thin slices. You shouldn’t need an electron microscope, so don’t fret about how thick they might be. Whatever you think “thinly sliced” means, do that.

So help me god, if anyone mentions using a mandoline to slice the cucumbers, I will come to your house and shave the hindquarters of your favorite pet. Mandolines are simply not permitted in American households. If you have one, please stop reading now, get your mandolin from the kitchen, then throw it out the back door wherever you live.

For additional points, chop as quickly as humanly possible. Try to do it like that android on the “Alien” movie did the knife trick around fingers. Professional chefs worry too much about safety in the kitchen. We’ve been eating for thousands of years and no one has gotten seriously injured yet. Note from the lawyers: that last statement is false, so unless you are Republican, ignore that last part.

In a bowl, (the slices – not you), splash the slices with lemon juice as if you are doing a Catholic mass on Saturday morning. Add whatever seasoning you wish: curry powder, lemon pepper, Tajín, cheese sprinkles. If you aren’t sure, try it on there. Cucumbers are cheaper than opinions at a NASCAR rally.

Place the cucumber slices on a single level on the warm cooking sheet. Do not make neat rows or patterns when you do this. It annoys normal people to see neatly arranged things we’re all going to eat anyway.

Put the pan in the oven. (Where else would you put it?)

Don’t do anything for 10 -14 minutes. At 10-14  minutes, keep a cautious eye on the slices. They will turn from almost crispy and tinged with brown to flaming to the ceiling if you blink too long. Personally, I love almost everything even if it is burned. But for you normal people out there, you need to be cautious.  Except for the pyros: you guys can set the oven for 500 and leave it for 4 days if you want. (You only live once.)

One thing you need to understand about roasted cucumbers slices is that they simply don’t taste the same once heated and dried. If you take the time to make these and anyone in your family refuses to try them or appreciate the effort, borrow a gun if necessary and repeat your request that they at least try these delicious slices of heaven. Fire a warning shot if you don’t notice a dramatic increase in enthusiasm as your loved ones stuff their faces with these things.

As a bonus, if you make them as I indicate, they are very low in calories.

You’ll note that your life is suddenly awash with happiness and peace. It’s an inevitable change once you start following my cooking advice. 450 Ukrainian diplomats can’t be wrong.

 

PS: If you don’t trust me, you can Google recipes for these yourself. Be warned, though. There are a LOT of weirdos on the internet these days, some of whom are masquerading as good cooks.

 

 

 

 

Social Media Is You

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Social media is different things to different people. As a universal tool, Facebook has created several tools to allow you to curate and control what you see (or don’t), including individual websites. Use the tools to control what you see before lamenting that there’s content that you don’t like. It’s not perfect, but neither is a conversation with friends. We all have friends who insist on talking about herbal tea remedies, Trump vs. Obama, or who invite us to play Pinball Casino Gunfight 2019.

It reminds me of those who visit the beach and shriek about the hot sand, never acknowledging that beach flip-flops cure the problem. It’s easier for you to put on flip-flops than it is to close the beach unless you’re Chris Christie.

Each of us has our own particular interests, whether they are sports, politics, religion, video gaming, or literature. We share many interests to varying degrees, but it’s hard to overlap completely in a world wherein some people think that baseball, the sports equivalent of earwax, is something interesting. I’ll watch any baseball clip if it contains someone getting brained by a thrown bat or the first baseman’s pants falling down as he dives for a grounder. (My ideal clip would be if every player suddenly stripped naked and jumped into the stands, screaming in Chinese.)

This is exactly why the smart social media companies have tailored their apps for individuals to control their own content. If each of us posts what we find interesting and we also curate our own news feed, it’s a little nonsensical to demand changes to a system already designed to address the ‘problem’ as you see it. Social media is similar to tv, with the exception that you have to do a little bit of work to avail yourself to the entire world it brings to you.

Social media has been one of our biggest communications accomplishments. We can log on and have instantaneous access to any of our friends, family, and co-workers, anywhere in the world. Of course, they are going to talk about things that you don’t find interesting. With a press of a button, you can forever eliminate any link to CNN, Fox News, MLB/NBA, or Infowars. You can also swipe past, just as if you were speeding past an old rust-covered jalopy on the interstate without looking to your right to see the weirdo driving it. (Hint: it’s probably me.)

As much as you might hate to see a post regarding Polynesian Ear Mites or How Democrats Are Drinking Their Own Urine, trust me, there are people holding their phones and rolling their eyes at whatever inane thing you find to be either interesting or entertaining. It’s what makes the world so interesting. As a bona fide eccentric, trust me when I tell you that you would be shocked to find out just how many people think each of us is full of crap.

Share what interests you and use the tools at your fingertips to avoid exposure to what you find ridiculous. You wouldn’t want to live in a world with reduced options because that world will soon enough find you as you grow older and those around you slowly circle in.

Some of us are fascinated by a million different things. Others, like me, create almost everything they post.

Between occasionally being forced to remember that Major League Baseball is actually considered a sport and it ceasing to exist, I’ll tolerate it for the few crazy moments it sometimes can provide. Social media is the same.

Dinosaurians and Trump

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Many of us share moments, some sublime, some perplexing.

Recently, a respected member of the community invited me to his house for lunch and a bit of jawing. (I know what you’re thinking – he couldn’t be illustrious if he were having me over at his house unless a lost bet was involved.)

One of the great stories he told me was about one of his neighbors. My friend told me that this neighbor knew how to build a car from scratch, plumb a house, wire an entire building, and seemed to know a little about every subject on the planet. My friend had always thought of him as a very smart, capable person.

…Until one fateful day when his neighbor extemporaneously deviated off the normal course of conversation and insisted that the world was only a few thousand years old. My friend is an elder statesman with a wide education, has traveled all over the world, served in the military and worked in a career helping people his entire life – so he’s been around the widest assortment of humans you can imagine. To say that he was flummoxed insufficiently describes the shock of the revelation that his neighbor is a “Dinosaurian,” one of the people who ascribe to the variety of nonsense that humans roamed the earth with Dinosaurs or that the planet is actually very young. Most of the people who believe such things are religious fundamentalists, but some are simply like the Flat-Earthers, cherry-picking whatever conspiracy theory fits their ideas.

Afterward, it seemed as if everything were about his neighbor’s insistence that the planet wasn’t ancient. No matter what the subject might be, my friend either couldn’t get the nonsense of his neighbor’s belief out of his head or his neighbor, previously silent on the issue, seemed to harp on and on about nothing else, as if mentioning it just once opened an invisible floodgate to his nonsensical ideas.

My friend told me that story to underscore the continuing amazement he has toward those who chose Trump as their president- or who continue to defend his actions now that he’s assaulted facts, news organizations, religions, and rational public discourse. Keep in mind, my friend is decades older than me. He also voted Republican all his life, even though he was more progressive than the party itself. He, of course, didn’t vote for Trump in the last election. He couldn’t have imagined voting for Clinton, but he knew a vote for anyone but the major candidates was a vote for Trump, having lived through several election cycles which were disrupted by left-field contenders.

Until this election, he could imagine that the choice wasn’t so grotesque as to be an apocalyptic choice either way. When he thinks of intelligent people voting for Trump, he imagines an army comprised of people like his neighbor, snidely ignoring the mountain of evidence at their disposal. He knows that reason didn’t bring most of them to their decision, even though they’ll insist otherwise. He watches as those who should know better fan the flame of prejudice toward other religions, something he’s observed go terribly wrong in other places all over the world. He’s seen how effective such fear mongering can be in a population. Watching people lose their insurance in the midst of so much concentrated wealth also should be sending a red flag to those in power, in his opinion.

For my friend, he holds out hope that the younger generation will continue to advance the progress we’ve made as a society, one dedicated to helping one another; being smarter, more compassionate and better human beings. He knows that people who voted Trump are either a bump in the road and soon to be passed over by time – or the warning bell for civilized, rational society. He’s not at all confident that we won’t descend into authoritarianism or some hybrid religious state.

 

 

 

Yet Another Note About DWI

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My apologies for the tenor of this.

No matter how often it comes up, I watch in fascination when someone gets a DUI, whether a celebrity, athlete or my second cousin. The whispers, the speculation, the shame. Then, with regularity, comes the backlash. “It’s not your business,” or “You shouldn’t be talking about such things.” Or, “It’s personal.” Drunks get really angry and often their friends and family join in to attempt to silence those who draw attention to their mistake. Part of the process for dealing with DWIs should be the social stigma and open discussion of it all, no matter how uncomfortable it might make people. Yes, the driver made a mistake but is one which involves everyone on the road while he or she is driving impaired.

If you find a cure for diabetes and drink champagne in celebration, it doesn’t lessen the fact that you could easily kill several people driving home from your celebration. You make the choice to drive after imbibing. It is surprisingly easy to drive impaired and many of us could easily make a poor decision and do it. This doesn’t detract from the necessity of us looking our error in the eye and dealing with it. That includes you keeping your mouth shut when someone has something to say about it.

I’ve said it a million times: if you get a DWI and no one is injured, it shouldn’t ruin your life, especially if you are young. (It’s the law that young people have to do stupid things. Older people continue to do them because we can’t help ourselves.) The humiliation and punishments should be enough to teach anyone a lesson which sticks. Part of that lesson, though, should be a huge dose of humility, one in which the person accused swallows their pride and admits publicly that they made a huge mistake, one which risked stranger’s lives on our shared public roads. If you get a second, you deserve a massively higher level of punishment, including mandatory inpatient treatment for several months and possible permanent loss of your license.

My dad killed a cousin in a drunk driving accident. He endured no consequences. Subsequently, he continued to believe that drinking and driving were things that should always be done in combination and he dedicated his adult life to endangering everyone on the roads. Many in my family had multiple DWIs, including my mom and aunts and uncles. I was in several accidents growing up in which adults were drinking. After the first one, all of them should have been put in prison, especially since people were seriously injured in the accidents.

For any of you who think you have the right to silence me in any way when I criticize those who get DWIs – and especially more than one – your opinion is probably because you haven’t seen the carnage of such stupidity scattered over a dimly-lit highway at night, while the officers on the scene both attempt to find an arm missing from the car or call friends and family of those who were killed driving home from a movie. And there are others, those who have received a DWI, those who are secretly furious that they were held to account for their stupidity through driving while impaired. I try not to be too harsh about DWIs but I do get testy when I see people openly defending those who’ve done it more than once.

PS: I have a neighbor across the street who drinks and drives like he’s trying to set a consecutive record. I await the day when his truck goes through the bedroom of one of the houses. He always announces he’s finished his drink because he hurls the red solo cup from the driver-side window.

Wrinkled Plans

I continue to be surprised at my connection to pictures, even if they were taken 50 or 100 years ago. Looking at this happy baby, knowing that these same eyes have now witnessed almost 80 years in this fascinating world, somehow still convinces me that it’s all an illusion. (PS: It’s always an honor to be trusted to preserve a family’s pictures.)

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“I ain’t saying he’s an ass, but instead of wearing underwear he wears toilet seat covers.” -X

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The photo below is photoshopped, but it served its purpose: to confuse people and convince them that the entire picture on the left was real.

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It doesn’t matter if I get credit for an idea: people remember the bumper sticker – not the driver.

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Pessimist or realist: “Money and a stronger economy weaken racism. Take away the smooth sailing, though, and the people who were in the boat first start looking sideways at your skin color. Even if they stole the boat, you’re going to find yourself in the water.”

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A message in Spanish…

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A is for apple, J is for Jack, cinnamon-toasty kiss my ass.

(The first line of a soon-to-be-released hit song OR a breakfast cereal for the older folks.) – X

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“I loved not seeing you yesterday,” she said.

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A picture from when I stayed at the White House and met tiny Mike Pence. (This picture has a couple of dozen hidden modifications.) I really was wearing that flowery bathrobe back in the day – it was my favorite.

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Sylvester Stallone has agreed to another”Rocky” sequel. Given his age he’s to play an aging philosophy professor fighting misconceptions about life. Working title: “The Why Of The Tiger. ”

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I had just fed the birds and sat down across from my meanest, ugliest co-worker. 🙂 From nowhere we hear a crescendo of chirping. A little fat baby bird was hopping toward us. Steve reached down and the bird hopped to his hand and sat, chirping. Steve fed him bread morsels for several minutes. What an unusual and satisfying experience.

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