Bourdain Goes Short (Story)

August 16, 2013

By Karen

Mark your calendar. Anthony Bourdain’s got a short story in the #8 issue of Lucky Peach, which is themed “The Gender Issue.” The magazine is on newsstands September 13. I think I’ve seen it in Target, so I won’t miss Tony’s latest foray into fiction. I wonder if it’s a preview of the novel he’s been working on?

But before that…

On August 27, Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews by Marilyn Hagerty, is being released by Bourdain’s imprint at Ecco Press.

UPDATE: Eater has published the full text of Bourdain’s foreword to the book. Nicely done, Tony. But the book still sounds like a snooze.

Since Grand Forks happens to be Hagerty’s stomping grounds, the title is brilliant, but the cover design evokes the ‘50s. I predict if sales are disappointing, that cover will become a scapegoat.

It’s only available in paperback and retails for $14.99. ($11.98 on Amazon.)

Hagerty is 86 now, and when not asking myself, “Why, God, WHY HER??!! I’ve been happy for her to finally see her work in bound form after all her decades in newsprint.

UNTIL I just learned the Grand Forks Herald published The Best of The Eatbeat with Marilyn Hagerty as a 99-cent, 59-page Kindle e-book last year after her Olive Garden review went viral and Bourdain started sniffing around.

AND in 1994, her paper published a hefty paperback anthology of her work called, Echoes, A Selection of Stories and Columns. It’s now out of print, but 2 autographed, exorbitantly-priced copies are available on Amazon.

UPDATE: One copy has disappeared since I started writing this, so some idiot astute collector must have snapped it up.

As for Grand Forks, my inner UnFoodie has this reaction to reading decades-old reviews of local joints in North Dakota, sandwiched between covers that remind me of My Little Margie, even if annotated with updates on their status today…

Who cares?

But it will be interesting to see if the foodie fire Hagerty lit with her earnest Olive Garden piece still burns hot and consumes enough copies to propel her to the bestseller list.

What Got Me Hooked on “Dexter”

August 12, 2013

By Karen

I’m an independent business writer by day, after making the conscious decision to forego paid employer benefits to limit my exposure to corporate America. The rampant duplicity, dishonesty, and ineptitude I saw from my old office cubicles back in the day were putting me in danger of going postal.

But even now, safely on the outside, I still see maliciousness and incompetence getting the better of good people and I can’t do anything about it, so I seek vindication in TV.

I started with a 6-episode Fox “reality” series, Does Someone Have to Go?, in which 3 small, dysfunctional businesses were featured for 2 weeks apiece. Their usually-culpable owners would give the employees free rein to fix everything, always assuming that all problems were rooted in the employees themselves.

Here’s one blogger’s recap of the company that choked on nepotism.

The series was a showcase for mass humiliation. Employees bad-mouthed each other on videos played for everyone, then learned everyone’s salary. Armed with that information, they picked three scapegoats who then had to beg for their jobs.

The fixes comprised the usual HR BS: salary cuts, probation and, in one case, rehab. One group fired the boss’s mouthy young administrative assistant. The follow-up footage revealed her to be happily employed elsewhere.

I wanted justice, but instead got to watch employees shit all over each other to buy their companies national TV exposure.

Then I discovered Dexter, whose 8th and final season is now on Showtime, but the whole series is available on Verizon’s On Demand.

Dexter is so not my usual type of show, it took several episodes to get past the blood. Then I binged for weeks until I was all caught up. If you’re not a fan, here’s the setup:

Dexter was discovered at age 3 in a puddle of blood after watching his mother dismembered by drug dealers. A policeman on the scene named Harry adopted Dexter and raised him by a “code” he devised, because Harry figured Dexter would eventually become a serial killer and need survival skills.

Which he did. Dexter also became a blood-spatter analyst with the Miami Metro PD. Harry’s code dictates that Dexter only murder bad guys, so Dexter finds some of his victims between the cracks in justice, but he isn’t beyond subverting an investigation he’s working on to ensure a bad guy fully gets what he deserves.

Another tenet of the code is to “Never get caught,” so Dexter preps a “kill room” in plastic sheeting, then knocks out his victim with a needle to the neck, strips the person, then wraps him/her in transparent plastic wrap face-up on a “kill table.” He lets the person awaken for a brief chat before Dexter plunges a butcher knife into their heart. He then dismembers the corpse into black plastic garbage bags and dumps them in the bay.

There’s much more to the story, including humor and humanity, but basically, I find Dexter’s successful kills gratifying, even if they are fictional.

Corporate America could use some Dexters. I think most of us have known or fallen prey to an office back-stabber with no other discernible skills. Wouldn’t it be great, just once, to see him or her taking the business end of the blade?

I’m praying they don’t kill Dexter in the series finale because we need to believe he’s still out there, watching out for us when the system won’t.

Massive Terrorist Plot or Face-Saving Device?

August 6, 2013

By Cole

How fortuitous that mere days after Putin flips us the bird by granting asylum to Edward Snowden, our crackerjack domestic spies can announce their over-the-top surveillance techniques work because they’ve uncovered the extremely high likelihood that al-Qaida is hatching a massive plot in the final stages.

They caught two top dogs (we have to take their word on rank, since they’ve killed the No. 1 and No. 2 al-Qaida operatives, oh, about 187 times) chatting by phone. One of them said it’s time to step up the plan against U.S. targets.

Those guys were spilling their guts like a pair of teenage girls because they never pass coded or encrypted messages, and had no idea anybody might be listening.

But our trusty spies can’t tell us where, when, or what the plan is. White House spokesman Jay Carney said

“What we know is that the threat emanates from, and may be focused on, occurring in the Arabian Peninsula. It could potentially be beyond that, or elsewhere. We cannot be more specific.”

Yikes! There could be a bomb in my litterbox! Or under your sofa!

So now we’re going into more debt to stage this international extravaganza of stepping up security by closing or evacuating embassies and posting more guards at home around New York City, in airports, and at big events.

But the average American citizen has been given no clue as to how to keep out of harm’s way.

Just trust Big Bro, little people. He will protect you.

And they must figure if they throw a few sensational nuggets of nothing to the media, rampant speculation will ensue (and it has), and many inattentive people will be fooled into thinking they’re hearing actual news updates. Works like a charm every time.

But here’s the real beauty of this whole thing: When nothing happens, the U.S. will declare triumph over terror. That buys instant justification for any more crazy spying the NSA wants to do.

Meanwhile, from the comfort of their fetid caves (or wherever those people hang out), al-Qaida biggies will be watching CNN on their iPads and going, “WTF? WHAT plot?”

The timing is all just too pat. The Obama administration has cribbed from Dick Cheney’s playbook. “Keep the pants scared off of everybody and there’s no limit to what we can get away with. Hell, they’ll even THANK us for keeping them safe.”

Just color me highly skeptical. Me and the New York Times.

Putin Finally Spits in Obama’s Eye

August 2, 2013

By Adele

It’s not like we didn’t see this day coming. I don’t know if Putin’s a racist, or if he’s just had it up to here with America’s sanctimonious deceit, but he must have some thrill at lucking into the opportunity to give asylum to Edward Snowden, that geeky little secret-spewer the feds all want a piece of.

But my unflattering description of Snowden is not to say I think he’s a bad guy. Bush and Cheney (and to varying degrees, leaders before them) gave that government overreach snowball a strong push down the hill. Largely unchecked by Obama, it’s been gaining size and momentum ever since.

The American people have a right to know that Big Brother can’t get enough of their personal business.

But the same can be said of collection agencies, the TSA, the IRS, insurance companies, even freaking WEBSITES. The list is endless.

It’s not like the U.S. hasn’t been building up to a world-class smack-down. Probably more than any place on earth, we’ve got more offensive nutbags per square inch who don’t believe in global warning, evolution, life-saving vaccines, women’s rights, civil rights, gays, yada, yada.

At the same time, these so-called “lovers of life and liberty” embrace guns, war, lethal injection, and “stand your ground.”

The world is just damn sick of us and our empty-headed BS.

It’s just ironic that Putin, of all people, was the one to deliver the coup de grâce, leaving John McCain foaming at the mouth and calling for retaliation just shy of declaring war on Russia.

Apparently, Snowden’s already got a Russian job offer, and he’s not prohibited from spilling more dirt on U.S. covert operations.

You’ve got to wonder about the government stooges running our stinking spying system who allowed some rookie outside contractor like Snowden to get his mitts on so much damaging poop. I haven’t seen any of them doing the perp walk for breaking the law and then letting Snowden expose it.

While Obama wipes Putin’s saliva from his face, it would be a good time for the holier-than-thou crowd in Washington to just STFU and get its own house in order.

The U.S. has been behaving like it’s in a bad James Bond movie and calling it “national security.” We got caught. Parading Snowden through our joke of a justice system isn’t going to change that — because he’d probably get acquitted by some idiot jury anyway.

Our politicians need to pull up their big-boy pants and move on. We have nobody to blame for Putin winning this round but ourselves.

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