Archive for September, 2007

The family gathering was pulled off with a minimum of fuss.  Charcoal-grilled Nature’s Promise hamburgers, homemade peach cobbler, and plenty of generic chips, freezer-thawed french fries, and garden vegetable salad with mom’s homemade dressing.  Nothing beats a fresh slice of garden grown tomato on your burger, whoo-eee!  Then, crack out the Labor Day punch and talk family business to candlelight in the backyard.  Yeah, the Slack bonus points were a-cumulatin’ in the Slor that day I can tell you.

The book revisions have reached the 55% mark, which is awesome.  I got more done this weekend than I did my week long vacation to sit and write, even though I am sick with a sore throat and a clogged ear.  I can’t explain the discrepancy in the space-time continuum, though I believe it has to do with hitting a stretch where the writing didn’t need as much work, and the fact that the revisions are gaining momentum on the remaining pages.  Still need to do that polish stage, and complete my artwork for the cover, but I’m happy.  The revised material is much better than the first draft stuff.

K has been watching the first season of the Highlander television series, and I keep getting drawn in to watch.  We finished the first season this weekend, and all I can say is Darius!  I still think the first movie is the only one that counts, the others being pretty lame.  Part of that is nostalgia, and part of that is revulsion at the franchising effect on the story.  If you forget the movies, the television series is actually pretty good action, with some nice camp and an attempt to tell a story in exploration of the alternate universe.

The tomatoes from the garden have totally defeated us; we’re just giving them away now.  The weeds have gotten out of control, and the groundhog roams at will.  The sunflowers have pretty much bitten the dust, but there isn’t a seed left on them, so at least they are dying satisfied, so to speak.  We planted some fresh basil, which ought to produce for us some nice pesto in the next few weeks before autumn forces our hand to garden mark two.  We have a lizard now!  About seven inches, black with brown and ochre markings, living in our pile of unused wood.  We threw him some baby tomatoes and the next day we were rewarded with a pile of skins.  Yea!  Feed the animal bonus points!

Even the legendary pizza of doom has a beginning. In Athens, Ohio there used to be this pizza joint called “Big Red’s Pizza”. The railroad used to go through the college town; past a train depot that is now only a run down old building (if it even is still there at all). When the folks and me were in town, we would stop there, get a pizza, and eat down at the depot on the concrete steps near the tracks. Sometimes, a train would pass through and we’d eat in the rumble of the cars and shout out, “box car”, “tank car”, and “flat car” while we munched on pizza and drank RC Cola straight from the glass bottle. If the train car had a Chessie System emblem on it, with the tell tale kitten doing a lie down on the pillow, we’d call out “Chessie System” as an override.

The guy who ran the joint, “Big Red” as I remember him, made what must be the greatest pizza I have ever had the pleasure of eating. I’ve eaten good pizza, I’ve eaten pizza that sent you to other universes of ecstasy, but nobody could do it like this guy. His Kung Fu was beyond any comprehension. The Spartan layout, the smell of his goods cooking in the ovens, every morsel of detail about his pizza, the guy’s unassuming and plain demeanor; these things are imprinted on my brain like a stain that won’t come out. One thing I remember was a large cardboard, full-color poster of a man in a top hat, with an umbrella in a suit. His torso was a huge red beefsteak tomato.

One day, making the best pizza in my reality came to be too great a burden, and Big Red left the business to get into computers, and I never saw him again. The joint closed, and was empty for a while, but has since reopened as something else. But before he left, he passed on a few secrets to my folks, and when I was old enough, they trained me in the ways of Pizza Kung Fu. Since then, I have strived to meet the challenge and find the secret formula for myself. I’ve come close, at times, either to the crust or the sauce, but never in enough combinations to match the flawless, complete, bountiful flavor, texture and ineffable magic that radiated from Big Red’s effortless gifts. While it is perhaps my greatest recipe in my bag of tricks, and is indeed legendary, with the power to cure minor ailments of moodiness and depression, still it is not “the one”.

So I raise a toast to Big Red, wherever he may be. To the inspiration of my quest, and the creator of unforgettable experiences.