Tag Archives: Alton Brown

Rambling through jet lag

I didn’t get home until about 1:00 AM. I managed to sleep until about 8:30 this morning. Not too bad according to my normal standards.

I don’t have a topic today, but when has that ever stopped me from blogging?

I walked across the street from my hotel in Atlanta to a brew-pub one night. The guys at the front door told me if I wanted a table, to go to a different stand, and tell them. When I went there, I was scooped up by this black dude, who didn’t work there. He grabbed my phone from my pocket and turned it upside down before putting it back. He said he was afraid I was filming him.

He then wanted to introduce me to his sister. Later on he said she was his personal assistant. (She looked like a linebacker, for those who are curious.) She wasn’t particularly interested in whatever his plan was, and left the building. Fills a guy with confidence, let me tell you. I wound up slinking to the bar and sitting there. I watched a baseball game in relative silence, and enjoyed a local brown ale that was very good.

Is there some way to use this encounter in a story? Probably, but I’m not feeling it right now.

The Atlanta Airport has a Carraba’s restaurant. Our Boise version folded during the economic crash several years ago. I enjoyed my favorite scallop and shrimp dish, along with hot fresh bread, and a wonderful Caesar salad for about half what I paid for the Burger and two beers at my hotel. (Love those conference hotels.)

I spent the rest of the evening with this song going through my head:

I worried needlessly. The meal was wonderful, and I’m sorry my wife wasn’t there, because she loves their food too.

People in airports are interesting. They will stop wherever it damned well occurs to them. This includes in the doorway to the men’s room (both directions.) They will stop in a sliding door and block the entire thing from everyone else, and best of all they will stop one foot after they step off the escalator.

Why do passengers think they have to take everything they own as a carry on? There is always someone with a giant purse, a giant suitcase, and a steamer trunk who tries to carry it onto the airplane. Then they get upset on the loading ramp when the crew makes her check most of it.

“Well they didn’t have a problem with it on my last flight.”

The announcer says you are limited to two carry on items, and they have to fit certain size parameters. It’s really pretty common knowledge, and they tell you before boarding the plane.

Southwest Airlines has a unique boarding system. You can sit anywhere you want, but you have to board in order. It works well. If you are in the “A” group you can get a window or an isle seat pretty easily. If you’re in the “C” group, you’re guaranteed a middle seat.

By the time the “C” group boards, it’s gridlock on the loading ramp. Why? Because the “A” & “B” passengers filled every single cubic inch of the overhead bins with crap they never took out once. Everyone else had to check their baggage, and we had to take time for that, on every single flight.

The announcer says, “We are overbooked. Every seat is full.” They offered $300 to three passengers to get bumped to a later flight. When we get on the plane the crew says, “There are only middle seats left, grab the first available one.”

So why is there always some douchebag (always a man) who hunches over his phone with his head against the front seat and refuses to look up? He’s trying not to look at the guy standing next to him who needs that vacant seat. He just knows the steward is lying and there will be one vacant seat, and he’s going to make sure it’s next to him.

I looked at this guy with disdain, and he never looked up. The guy in the next row stood and gestured, so I sat down there. I took great glee when the stewardess tapped the douchebag on the shoulder, made him get up, and seated a 400 pound guy next to him. I hope the douchebag was uncomfortable for the entire flight. I hope the big guy got sweat all over him too.

There is always a woman who refuses to do the “airplane mode” thing with her phone. Whenever the stewardess walks by, she turns it face down in her lap and smiles. What is the deal with that?

When we got off, there was always someone who stored her life’s possessions in an overhead bin that was ten rows behind where she sat. Rather than wait for the plane to empty to the point where she could get her bags, she insisted on swimming upstream against the flow of humanity to retrieve her bag and get off the plane first. She could have sat back down and let the other folks get out of the way. Nope, the world has to stop for her.

I only saw two people reading books. They were both paper; one Western, and one Star Wars. I was the only one reading an ebook, but there was a guy with an electronic graphic novel he was reading. Everyone else watched TV or movies on phones or tablets. Okay, there were a few people working on spreadsheets too.

What does this say about being an author? Do we all need to become screenwriters to see any real success in the 21st century?

Airport fashion is another interesting thing to check. Sweats and grunge seem to be the most popular. Among the crowd who cared, the women seem to prefer jeans tucked into boots. It’s a nice look. I saw a few pairs of nice high heels, but suspect the ones wearing them were actually men.

The baggage carousel is always interesting too. Everyone crowds the area where the bags come out. I always go about halfway around and wait. 30 seconds for my bag to come around isn’t going to kill me. It never fails. Someone will walk in front of me to pick up their suitcase. There could be ten feet clear either side of me, but they must shove me out of the way because I’m likely to steal their bathrobe.

I contacted a bunch of book reviewers today. Hopefully I can get some action going on The Playground. I also sent out a final approval for next week’s radio broadcast. I assembled a guest post I’m hosting too. Then I tweeted out a bunch of stuff, mostly for others, and shared a few things on Facebook. All in all, it’s a pretty weak effort on my part.

I may write up my own character interview for Lisa Burton Radio. I have a ton of questionnaires out, but they aren’t all coming back. If I have one in the bank, I can always post it in an emergency. Maybe Lisa can interview Patty Hall, Roald the Dwarf, or Clovis. Now you know my secret. If one of my own characters shows up, it will be because I had an empty slot.

Another way to spin this is “get your questionnaires back.” This slot is getting some good action, and I want to keep it going. If you don’t yet have a questionnaire, why not? My email address is on that page, and character interviews are a neat way to market your books.

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Alton Brown Live

Old What’s Her Face* and I had date night last night. We bought tickets nearly a year ago to see Alton Brown Live. For those who don’t know, Brown is a celebrity chef. He’s hosted Iron Chef America for years and years, and his own program, Good Eats, helped put Food Network on the map. This was before all cable chanels became reality TV and game show networks. In the early era, this was a good channel.

Brown taught me a lot of interesting things with his humorous style that seemed to combine Mr. Science and Monty Python. Today, he is relegated to hosting various competition shows. Think; you have 72 seconds to cook something using Fruit Loops, escargot, and rubber cement – go. (Who cares.)

Brown’s talents are wasted in these endeavors, but he has to keep making a living. I get it. He came up with the idea of a live show that wasn’t a typical cooking presentation. I have to say it was a fantastic show. It involved some standup comedy, a few humorous songs, and some food preparation that involved sensational props.

In similar style to other shows I’ve attended, there is film running before the show starts. This is my horrible attempt to capture yeast puppets burping and farting as they do what yeast does. (Maybe my sourdough starter would have enjoyed the show.)



Yeah, I know it’s awful photography. I never claimed to be a photographer.

This was a long show, roughly two seventy minute segments with a twenty minute intermission. I was sad when it ended. Brown is a genius of presentation. His song, Airport Shrimp Cocktail, is worth the price of admission.

There was food preparation too. He made a gallon of chocolate ice cream in ten seconds using a fire extinguisher and some jet propulsion techniques that were way over my head. He also made two pizzas using a super sized Easy Bake Oven. The oven was about ten feet tall and powered by theatrical lights.

His engaging stories cemented something in my mind. He used suspense to make the punch line all the sweeter. His story elements all tie together in the show too. Yeast from the film is a central player in a dough mishap he shared with us. (And it was hillarious.) As a writer, I really appreciate all the technique and polishing that must have gone into this show.

If you ever have the chance to see Alton Brown Live, do it. Even if you aren’t a cook you’ll have a great time. Oh, and never eat airport shrimp cocktail.

*Not my date’s actual name.

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