NOT FUNNY ENOUGH Part 2

July 31, 2009

THE AUDITION

I drove to the Groundlings theatre on Melrose, just west of La Brea.  My insouciance (take THAT GRE) from earlier in the week had been replaced by a very petite boulder in my stomach, about the size of a peach—the realization that I might be getting myself into something for which I was wholly unprepared. 

That feeling didn’t go away when I got to the lobby of the theatre.  Creating a kind of thespians tableaux, the foyer was replete with good-looking PROFESSIONAL actors who were waiting to be called into the theater.  Some stood, some sat, and one did circles in his wheelchair. They mumbled lines to themselves from the scripts they had in clear view, a sign to the casual observer they were actors and not Starbucks baristas.  Each held an ACTING résumé, conveniently located on the flipside of an 8″ x 11” glossy photo which featured them BriteSmile®ing eerily at you. 

Stuffing the Rite-Aid envelope of Match.com photos and my professional résumé a little deeper into my purse, I practiced breathing exercises to get rid of the peach in my stomach that had turned into a grapefruit.  A frosty-tipped blond with smart girl glasses and an “I heart unique corns” t-shirt pushed through the theatre doors and asked us all to come into the inner sanctum.  I had envisioned some kind of dance studio set-up for the audition, like in American Idol, with a ballet barre in the back and judges behind a foldable table with foldable chairs.  The instructions didn’t say we would be performing on the Groundlings stage. 

 After collecting our résumés, along with mine and the guy with the wheelchair’s 3 x 5 photos, she (let’s call her Evelyn to protect the innocent) told us a little bit about the class.   “This is really a class for professional actors.  Everyone who goes through the Groundlings program starts here.  If you aren’t a professional actor, or have limited improv experience, you may find that the Groundlings extension program is more for you.  You can find people from all walks of life in that class—lawyers, 40-year-old housewives.”  (OUCH)

Evelyn went on but I stopped paying attention after the 40-year-old housewives comment.  I definitely had some things working against me from the get go.  She asked us on stage to do some warm up drills and told us that in improvisation, it’s important to do everything big.  She said something next about a lot of clapping and enthusiasm and supporting each other mumbo jumbo.

Evelyn asked us to form a circle and say our name and why we were here today.  I thought it might work to my advantage to stand out from the actors. So when it got to my turn, after numerous people saying they thought they were funny, and all their friends told them so, and they were actors blah, blah, blah, I said, “I don’t really have great ambitions.  I was recently rated least funny member of my family and I just want to beat out my seven-year-old nephew. I don’t need to be funny to the world, just a few people.” 

 Well that got a laugh.  And rousing support from the actors. 

“Good for you! Way to go!” My own support choir, albeit a little patronizing.

 Evelyn said, “Well, it’s not a bad thing to have specific goals.”

 I loved that Evelyn; she was very good at finding the right words. 

 The next drill was a round-robin where Evelyn would give us an emotion and we had to say “YES!” and clap at someone else, who then followed.  This was exhausting.  Every actor tried to outdo each other in cleverness, animation, and voice pitch, while remembering to clap at someone else.  Honestly, I was spending so much time trying to think of how to creatively say “Yes!” while looking angry, shy, flirty, and ditzy, and then do it a different way the next time, I kept forgetting to clap.  Evelyn had to remind me more than once to actually clap AT someone, so they knew who was next. 

Following the “emotion drill,” she started a sentence and then we had to complete it, one word at a time.  Let’s just say it messes up the whole group when you throw out a word like gargoyles.  I felt bad about my word choices, and I have no idea why gargoyles came to mind, I don’t even like them.

This was about the time my snickers bar started failing me.  All that enthusiasm I had to provide in the drills, combined with the nervous energy, just burned that sucker away.  The hardest drill was next—improvisation on stage with a partner.  I won’t bore you with the details but let’s just say it could have gone worse, I was the last one to go.  Evelyn actually forgot me because she lost my 3 x 5 picture in the stack of photos she was using to make notes.  She had coached other people on no bathroom humor, always say “Yes, and”, use action words to keep the story going, don’t get into a fight, and let the audience know where you are.  Oh and most important, move your hands to mime action.  Seriously, other than the bathroom humor advice, she called me out on pretty much everything from the list. 

Scene 1“mother with son packing for college.”  I asked Evelyn who the mother was and who the son was but she didn’t think I was funny, or she just thought I was an idiot.  Scene began, my partner started folding pretend clothes into a pretend suitcase.  I started getting on my fake son’s case about how he was packing (no negativity).  I asked him why he was doing it that way (no questions) while holding one hand locked on my hip and my finger at my lips the whole time (move on the stage and mime.)  Scene over.

Scene 2  “lieutenant and a sergeant and one was being decorated.” Evelyn reminded me not to be negative or get into fights and remember to keep the action going with movement and “Yes, and.”  I went into outer space at that point, I had nothing.  All I could think of was to hold a pretend gun, so I mimed a bayonet and pretty much just said “Yes, and” whenever he asked me anything.  I finally came to and all I could think of was dancing poodles, which really changed the scene around in a weird way.  At that point, my supportive choir in the audience went completely mute. 

The final drill I actually did quite well on, but I don’t think it was the make or break moment in determining my future with the Groundlings.  We had to quickly make up names for toe-nail polish “Black Death”, lost Beatle’s songs “Yellow Brick Rogue”, children’s game “I’m a Barista,” etc.  I was a finalist in the sudden death match.

Evelyn concluded the audition by thanking us for coming, (don’t let the door hit you in the behind).  I decided not to give her my professional résumé.  I’d just get docked points for total cluelessness. 

Leaving the theatre, I knew I would likely not be coming back anytime soon.  I think a number of us knew that.  But I was glad I did it, if not to get funnier, then to say that I had performed for a select audience on the Groundlings stage.  If you know me well, I promise you, that’s funny.  Right?

Advertisements

NOT FUNNY ENOUGH

July 30, 2009

PART ONE. FAILING ON THE FUNNY METER

As someone who is inherently competitive, it’s very frustrating being a member of a family that excels in something at which you are not the strongest.  My family is funny.  Or as they will now be known henceforth —that family of funny wannabes.  I’m distancing myself from them after this experience. 

Tomorrow at 2 PM, I will be told via email if I made it into the Groundlings Basic One Improv Class.  Everyone who has been through that system starts at this level—Will Ferrell, Phil Hartmann, and thousands of other wannabes.  After today’s audition, I’m pretty confident in saying I don’t have a snowball’s chance in ‘H E double hockey sticks’ to get into this class. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’re probably asking ‘why pray tell would you ever want to go through a comedy improvisation class with the Groundlings?’  Blame it on my brother-in-law.

Last week, he and I were having a perfectly pleasant phone conversation, nephews, work, vacation—then we segued into the subject of funny.  I made the mistake of asking him to rank each family member by funniness.  We got to me and he avoided the question by turning it into a complicated meter system where I ended up somewhere in the slightly humourous range, nowhere near funny. 

“I disagree with your evaluation of my funniness.  I’ve been told by many people that I’m funny but it’s a more dry, ironic wit,” I said.

He paused, actually guffawed.  “Really?  I’ll give you this, you’re funnier on paper than in person.”

“What does that mean?” I asked, appalled. “That I have to think things through because I’m so mentally slow?” 

“You try too hard, you’re too studied.  Like your dad.  But he’s still funnier than you.”

My dad!  Daddy is still using the same joke from twenty years ago after he gets the bill at a restaurant, ‘Whoa, hold on, can someone get me a phone?, because that looks more like a phone number than a bill.’  Anyhoo, my brother-in-law and I discussed how I could get funnier, and he mentioned  me working on my story delivery.  He noted that work friends ASK him to tell funny stories and do impressions.  (Personally, I think my brother-in-law has way too much time on his hands at work and should be focusing on bringing home more bacon.  I’m just saying.) 

After the conversation, I was boiling, so I did what I do whenever I’m told I’m not good at something.  I found a class.  I really wanted to show him that if I focused, like with sailing, sea-kayaking, moutaineering, social psychology, Indian cuisine, Spanish, French, and creative writing, I could and WOULD get better.  And that’s when it appeared on screen…The Groundlings…my personal great white hope. 

The instructions on the website for the Groundlings classes stipulated that everyone had to audition.  I had acted in college and high school, and I had also done improv in drama class.  Piece of cake.  This puppy would be a no-brainer.  The instructions did mention the requirement of a photo and resumé, but said a head shot wasn’t necessary.  No sweat, I had just taken some great photos for my old Match.com profile a year ago, and I did have a professional resumé. 

Audition day arrived.  (Cue the foreboding music.)  I was starting to get nervous that morning, and wondered if I was truly suffering from some 40-year-old life melt down.  But I was determined.  Since he got me into this mess, I called my brother-in-law to work me through it.  He suggested perhaps I needed some “back-up material,” in case I went blank. 

“Have some good come backs.  Like maybe with different accents to show your range.  Spanish accents can be funny,” he noted. 

“Yeah, I don’t do accents.”  I said. ‘What about comeback lines that have already worked.  Like on sitcoms.  ‘What you talkin’ about Willis?’ from Different Strokes or something from SNL that a comedian would appreciate.  If I throw enough at them—that could be the joke.”

“Yes, you doing a 5-year-old little kid from an eighties television show, that might be retro, but will wear thin, and you don’t sound like Gary Coleman at all.” 

“Well, hopefully no one is particularly good, I mean it’s auditioning for Basic One, these aren’t professionals.”

At the end of the call, he wished me good luck and I went off to Rite-Aid to process my 3 x 5 photos.  As audition time rolled around, which was also lunch time, I raced out of the Pacific Design Center, only having time to print out my resume, and grab a snickers from the vending machine for lunch.  I told myself this whole audition thing was just a formality.  I’d ace this.  And maybe I’d get extra points for working at an entertainment PR firm.  It was obviously in my blood.

NEXT…….PART TWO- THE AUDITION, CUE THE CRICKETS

Blogged ID

April 4, 2009

<a href=”http://www.blogged.com/blogs/ulterior-motives.html“>
<img src=”http://www.blogged.com/icons/vn_elizabethh9_1367458.gif” border=”0″ alt=”Ulterior Motives – Blogged” title=”Ulterior Motives – Blogged” /></a>

Single Diner: The Würst Way to Spend Jury Duty

March 16, 2009

Sausage on grill at Voderer Sternen
When I visit my friend Elaine in Zurich, I make a daily stop at my favorite Swiss culinary establishment, and serious sausage stand, the famous Voderer Sternen Grill. The line is always long, but quick and orderly, and when one finally makes it to the front, the gentleman behind the grill has no time for dawdlers. Like a Swiss German version of Seinfeld’s International Soup Kitchen Nazi, you have to choose fast, a Bratwurst or Servelat, white or red. Holding the steamy link in my left paw, a hot crusty roll in my right and a small container of salaciously sinus-opening mustard in my teeth, I find a standing table and order a good German beer. I alternate flavors as I take a dip, a bite, a bite, and a sip until all has disappeared and I have to decide if I can legitimately order another without rolling home.

In comparison to the Voderer Sternen, my biased opinion is that American hot dog stands, like Pinks in LA, truly pale in comparison. I highly doubted that the level of sausage pleasure I experienced at the VS could be matched in the United States until I heard about Würstkuche in downtown LA’s Little Tokyo. Taking advantage of an extended stint on jury duty at the lovely Metropolitan Court House on Hill Street, I visited the restaurant two times last week…a definite perk of the two-hour jury duty lunch.

With twenty-two sausages to choose from, cooked on an open grill similar to the Voderer Sternen, the links come from local vendors. Classics like Bratwurst, Hot Italian and Kielbasa (and their veggie rivals) are included on the list and the two gourmet ones I tried—Austin Blues, a hot and spicy, tri-pepper and hardwood smoked pork link and Santa Fe jack cheese and jalapeño peppers, a turkey dog, were both good, with my preference leaning to the Austin Blues, a reminder of the Louisiana hot sausage and smoked kielbasa I grew up on as a child. The crazier exotic link selections, such as rattlesnake and rabbit with jalapeño peppers and the alligator and pork, will have to wait until I get through the classic terrain first. Each sausage purchase comes with your choice of mustards, like my favorite whole grain, as well as quality toppings like carmelized onions, sweet peppers, and sauerkraut, all packed into an over-sized, freshly baked, hot roll.

While the menu beyond the sausages is simple in concept, offering fries and drinks, it’s the depth of selection and variety within each category that impresses the foodie in me. Hot, thick-cut, and sea-salted Belgian fries come in a white wrapper complemented by a moving selection of ten dipping sauces like bleu cheese walnut and bacon or chipotle aioli. Innovative and hard to find bottled sodas, including locally bottled Nesbitts, and a dizzying selection of Belgian and German beers on tap, bring this tasty meal to under $20.

A corner restaurant with minor signage on the outside and a line of hipsters out the door, Würstkuche is challenging to find in Little Tokyo but of course, well worth it. Sandwiched into a really cute neighborhood that is a neat discovery in itself, the restaurant is industrially modern in design, with the eating area structured like a modern beer hall. Long tables, for large communal groups who want to hang awhile, take up most of the floor with a seated bar in the back. Unlike the Voderer Sternen, that only offers two sausage choices with a line that moves at a clip, be prepared to wait a bit for your on-demand dog, fries and beer. If you ask, the owners will offer you trial tastes of the beers on tap while you wait. As this place gets found out, that’s not a bad idea in order to make sure the starving sausage lovers are kept at bay.

The Winter Coat

August 16, 2008

The winter coat I wear is a brilliant shade of red.
I’ve got on my long underwear and my scarf, gloves and hat.
Impentrable, fearless, tough, protected
I button up the charcoal togs and tighten my hat around my head
to brace for the expected wind outside, and our first date.

You try to kiss me and my eyes dart frantically for an exit.
Somewhere to slip away to.
Deer, kitten, mouse, plaything
When I feel hunted I sometimes wound in order to escape.
Maybe I’m not right in the head.

On date number two your coat brushes me when we kiss.
Deepest dark blue it hides your belly and makes you look dashing.
Tender, sweet, light, bright
My heart bumps a bit when we touch-I must be vigilant
But I do like it a little.

I tell you about the dream I had watching myself being held down by another version of me.
I couldn’t make my body move to escape.
Frustration, apathy, terror, disrepect
Is that concern or pity on your face
when I tell you I woke up crying?

Our third date you are distracted because work isn’t going well.
You wear a thick ski coat covered with those ugly epaulets.
Boredom, dissatisfaction, need space, need air
Maybe you are starting to lose interest in me?
Is it just a matter of time?

We have a fight on our fourth date but I don’t know how it starts.
The slightest perceived hurt brings words of destruction from me.
Sweetheart, father, lover, sadist
Just tell me who you want me to be and I’ll be her.
Am I running away from you or are you running away from me?

These thick coats we wear to protect ourselves from the cold
Keep us from actually touching.
Invincible, girl, boy, disarmament
But maybe, if we both undo a few buttons at the same time
it’s a start?

ECOnomy- Give up a Third of Your Car for a Month

August 10, 2008

Last month, when I turned 39, I took stock of a few things, one being that I sometimes talk a good game but don’t always put my beliefs into action, like, for instance, my stance on the environment. 

I have, in the past, sometimes played the part of the liberal green girl with my family.  My father likes to joke (and I still don’t think it’s funny Daddy) that California is the land of fruit and nuts.  While I’ll admit that moving to California shifted some of my viewpoints even farther to the left, I don’t believe that caring about the environment is actually a left or right issue.  God gave us a great planet with off- the-charts natural beauty and I can’t stand the idea of my nephews not having the chance to see some of the things that I’ve been privileged to see, care of Mother Nature. 

So I felt that I needed to put my money where my mouth was and not be one more exhaust pipe poisoining the environment.  I don’t have an air conditioner, or a dish washer and I try to recycle, but I do have a gas guzzling car and I live pretty close to everything, including work.  I don’t need to be a walking/talking example of the song “Nobody Walks in LA”. 

On the day before my birthday, I challenged myself to cut down my gas usage by 1/3 or use non-gas transportation for a month, to see if I could do it.  I bought a three-speed-bike, lock and helmet, checked bike routes, and signed on to gasfreecommute.com to log my time.  The website shows you how much gas you save, calories you burn, and green house gases you don’t put into the environment. 

The first month is coming to an end in a day or so.  I have been averaging walking or using my bike about 2 1/3 days a week. It’s easier and harder to do this than one might think. 
Easier– 1)it rarely takes me more than 5 to 10 minutes longer than it did in a car and parking is a cinch.  2) The low humidity in LA means you don’t sweat that much.  3)  I have lost weight.  4)  I actually see and hear things I never experience in a car.  5)  It’s really refreshing and invigorating.

Harder– LA is not bike friendly.  1) “Bike paths” as they like to call them aren’t marked and cars while normally polite, can be a little scary when they pass you. 2) I can’t really dress up too much for work on the days that I commute so I’m a bit limited. 3) There are some days I simply have to drive in order to make meetings. 4)  LA actually has alot of hills.  5) Rain, although this hasn’t been an issue yet. 6)  There aren’t alot of safe bike racks in town.  7)  Sometimes I really don’t feel like riding my bike. 

Now that I’m getting used to the harder aspects, I have become more adventurous.  Last week, I really felt like going to a movie but it was a day I had committed to riding my bike and it was already 7 PM.  I put my strobe reflectors on and rode to the Grove.  I got there in 15 minutes.   I have also ridden to Santa Monica with my dog (I know a little Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz.)  Our final destination was Corn Dog on a Stick.  While we took a lot of breaks, it was really fun, but totally exhausting.

So here’s my challenge….anyone out there want to join me in giving a day or so of their week to public or non-gas transportation?   Burn calories, save money and your kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, friends kids will thank you!

SINGLE DINER: My Three Lovers

August 9, 2008

I’ve got three lovers right now—each to fit a different mood.  One is for those late nights when I really have to satisfy an urge, another is for when I’m feeling a little wilder and need some spice, and the other is for pure unadulterated passion.  Last week, I fit them all in and totally overindulged. 

 

Tuesday was my late night lover- Norm’s.  I don’t really admit to going to Norm’s (although I guess I am now) but Norm’s has menu items I can’t get anywhere else like mozzarella sticks and French dip.  I like laminated menus, shiny plastic chairs that swivel, and name-tag wearing waitresses with skirts a bit too short.  And I love the satisfaction of a meal for $9.99 with not only a steak and potato but soup, salad, and bread. Now that’s a deal.   

Norm’s is close to my office so I went I for the lunch rush to try the “Southern inspired menu.” Jackpot!  A Catfish, hush puppies, cheese grits combo!  God had smiled down on me.  Catfish is my Southern girl favorite and I love to smother it with ketchup like I did when I was little.  Grits are number two on my list of Southern delicacies. And cheese grits….Lord just take me now. It wasn’t a gourmet experience, I could go on about the things that weren’t Southern enough, but I won’t.  I went there for exactly the experience I got—simple, straightforward food, served in a diner (albeit Flinstones-inspired) restaurant with a colorful and diverse clientele.  My dad would have been on cloud nine.

 

Saturday night was Lotería Grill.  I typically go to the Farmer’s Market location once a week but wanted to try the new sit down restaurant in Hollywood.  I really believe this is the best Mexican restaurant in town.  The new place has exactly the same menu as the counter at the Grove but also includes a great bar, with every Tequila known to man, free chips and salsa (FM charges extra) and the most amazing helado (ice cream) I have had since living in Los Angeles. 

 

I always start with the tortilla soup, then some carnitas or enchiladas suiza. With its creamy consistency, the soup, topped with manchego cheese, dried poblano, avocado slice and tostado garnish, beats anything else I know in LA.  If I just want a snack, the carnitas work well and I love the originality of the meat combos to choose from…I recommend trying the sampler to really get the gamut. For Saturday, since the restaurant had the tequila bar, I downed a margarita and then tried the magical pina colada helado.  I couldn’t help myself-I loudly proclaimed that everyone at the restaurant should try this stuff.  I told at least 4 strangers and the bartender.  I’m not kidding, that stuff is magical. 

 

 

Sunday afternoon was Pizzeria Mozza.  This place ranks as one of my favorite restaurants bar none!  The pizzas live up to the hype, basically because the crust is truly extraordinary (thank you Nancy Silverton) and the topppings are so well balanced, nothing overwhelms anything else―it’s a melody of outstanding ingredients.  Pizza aside though, in my opinion, the Mozzarella Caprese with homemade buffalo mozzarella, sunned tomatoes and high quality olive oil is the best thing on the menu.  You can’t believe you are eating something so sublime and simple.  Top that all off with a great Italian wine and I smile the entire time I am eating. 

While my lovers don’t help me keep my waist line in chec, they do leave me with a smile on my face, thinking about the next time I’ll be able to see them again.

 

 

 

SOCIAL PSYCH: “With No Frills or Tuition, a College Draws Notice” from The New York Times

August 5, 2008

In the growing debate over higher learning institutions and how they use their funds, The New York Times spotlighted Berea College, a private institution with a large endowment and a founding mission to accept only applicants from low-income families.   Students receive a tuition-free education and must work on campus in a variety of different areas, as part of the deal.  In stark relief, the author compared wealthy institutions such as Harvard and Yale, and asked “whether the wealthiest universities are doing enough for the public good to warrant their tax exemption, or simply hoarding money to serve an elite few.” 

The issue cuts to the heart of altruism as well as the reasons humans engage in pro-social behavior in the first place.  Focusing first on the individual, students at Berea prove they are deserving of aid (norm of social justice) by showing their ability for future success in advance of acceptance.   Berea gives free tuition in exchange for work, an example of reciprocal altruism. 

Taking a big picture gander at the institutions doing the “helping,” it is important to look at American history and maybe genetics as a guide to why we engage in altruism.  The United States and American democracy were founded on the “sometimes conflicting value orientations of individualism and egalitarianism.” (Franzoi)  As a young nation that wanted to survive and thrive, improving your situation through hard work, education, and helping others was paramount to developing the nation, and in a tough wilderness, continuing the species.  In the case of the institutions in the piece, the schools with the largest endowments, Harvard, Yale, etc., were also the first universities in the United States—established to provide brighter futures for new generations of Americans, and in reciprocity, make the country stronger.  It is interesting that these schools are now being criticized for holding on to vast amounts of money, raising tuition to astronomic levels, and providing much of their funding for research to advance their own needs—the schools’ reputations—instead of providing more financial aid to students in need.

Adding fuel to the debate, what is implied but not stated in the article is that the government relies heavily on not-for-profits (and offers strong tax incentives) to address many needs that big government simply cannot take on.  These institutions remind me of spoiled children. By existing in a system where money is not an issue, they lack empathy and have forgotten from whence the came.

If human beings best respond to reciprocal altruism, scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, perhaps a program themed around altruistic giving as a means to strengthen America might be an interesting program aimed at curbing America’s  growing me versus we mentality.  Using both central and peripheral routes of persuasion through advertising and public relations efforts, the government would first launch a campaign through a secondary source, perhaps key not-for-profits such as the Red Cross and major universities, showing how the existence of these not-for-profits reduces America’s tax burden.  A second phase of messaging would persuade Americans to give to the local not-for-profit to improve America’s future—we’re in this together. 

Complementing the direct efforts, schools teaching pre-school through college age children would include annual altruistic components in their curriculums and would require families to “donate” a set amount of time and money to the not-for-profit or community organization of their choice, with the reward being a tax break and positive recognition.  Families would also be given the opportunity to receive points towards reductions in college tuition, starting at pre-school age, as long as the family participated in a minimal number of hours in not-for-profit activity, with each other.  These tactics reflect the use of observational learning, the children modeling after the parents, and rewarding prosocial behavior through tax breaks and recognition.  A key component of college acceptance would be dependent on the applicant’s level of work with not-for-profits in high school and students would be given the option of paying for college through community and college improvement work.     A core curriculum class in active altruism would be required at all colleges. The end result might be increased altruism as part of our daily existence.  

 

 

 

 

Remove your Banana from the Car…Slowly

July 8, 2008

Some people always leave things behind-an accidental reminder of your time together.  I am one of those people. I leave underwear, jackets, toothpaste, blackberry jacks, and you name it.  I have left things behind in homes, hotels, cabins,  cars, and offices. I’m sure this has some psychological reason attached to it, like I don’t want anyone to forget me, but while the sentiment is sweet, it wears thin from constant use. 

When a banana takes over your car

When a banana takes over your car

My closer relatives have gotten into the habit of doing a sweep search right before I leave, knowing that otherwise, they will end up mailing the oddball item back to me.   The thing that seems to bother them the most is when I leave behind food stuff.   I tend to buy “exotic goods” from the local deli, supermarket, or specialty store -most of which I will not eat during my stay. 

When I visit my sister, a typical call following the trip might be…”Did you mean to leave this rice milk in the refrigerator…there are unopened boxes here.”  I will respond, “Oh, you can go ahead and have it.” Followed by her saying, “Well, what do you want me to do with this five-year aged gouda ?” To which I will make some comment about how her sons might enjoy some quality cheese. She will then roll her eyes (or so I imagine over the phone line) and remind me that the boys are under the age of seven.  They don’t do rice milk and gouda.

Refrigerated products do not compare to items left out in the sun.   I leave food behind in my car as well, believing I will actually eat it before it spoils.  Why carry that heavy banana inside?  But bananas are by far the worst item to leave, after maybe rotting meat.  With the amount of bananas I have left on my passenger seat, I have also fought more fruit flies while driving than I care to admit.  Drivers in other cars probably think I have some condition, swatting the air as I drive and rolling the window up and down, up and down, while talking to the little insect on the precipice of flying out.  When all else fails, I just start smashing everything with my hand or a rolled up newspaper.  Yes, I’m the poster girl for safe driving.  Fruit flies are much more dangerous than cell phone usage, but no cop is going to tell you to make sure to take all old fruit out of your car before operating the vehicle. 

Worse than the fruit flies is the removal of the banana itself.  It’s fine if the banana has completely dried up, but you can’t count on that process to happen quickly.  Sometimes, the banana has gotten so mushy and ripe, one must wipe it off the carpet or seat, leaving a ripe banana smell that won’t come out of the car until cleaned thoroughly, by a professional.  And even then, they have missed or left bananas in my car, thinking for some reason that I actually wanted them.  Maybe for a snack with my two month old, half drunk Sierra Mist?

The point of all of this?  If I don’t offer to drive next time, please don’t take it personally.  I’m likely worried about some old fruit I have left somewhere, that I can smell, but can’t exactly find….yet.

Fast Food Fodder: McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Sandwich versus Chick-fil-A

July 6, 2008
Pic stolen from LAist but good comparitive of the two

Pic stolen from LAist but good comparitive of the two

When I saw the billboards around town introducing the new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, I was curious.  Were they really trying to compete with my beloved Chick-fil-A?  For those of you unaware of this chicken fast food mecca, Chick-fil-A, a primarily Southern chain with a few outposts (including Palos Verdes I’m told) is the best fried chicken sandwich known to man.  The perfectly tender, juicy and crisp chicken fillet is protected by a fresh, soft bun, buttered on top, with two pickles, and a dollop of mayo.  Get the waffle fries and lemonade and you have a masterwork of fast food eatin’. 

Every time I visit my sister in Alabama, we have to go to Chick-fil-A. As it is a Christian owned entity and therefore has an owner who believes in giving his workers Sundays off, any visits over a weekend typically include picking me up at the airport and driving directly to the nearest location.  I love flying Delta in that Atlanta has a Chick-fil-a in it’s terminal, DFW does not.

But I digress. When I saw the billboards for not only the sandwich but the chicken biscuit, I could not get to McDonald’s fast enough to determine if this was the real thing.  So, in my neverending quest to eat food I love, I compare the two using my own research method.  Item for item comparison.

Buns-  McDonald’s is a little stale and the “butter” product is a bit greasy making holding the bun greasy as well, but not bad.  Chick-fil-a wins.

Pickles- McDonald’s are a little wimpier and more thinly cut.  I’m guessing they are tied.

Chicken breast- McDonald’s is a little greasier but both have good flavor.  Chick-fil-a is probably a bit bigger.

Mayonnaise- At least in LA, they don’t have packets of mayo or lite mayo to add on your own so Chick-fil-a wins this. 

Overall, I can handle the McDonald’s version in a pinch, and I have stopped more than one time over the last month with a need for the sandwich (sometimes the Cinnamelt wins out) but Chick-fil-a still has my devotion.

For other opinions on this matter visit LAist at http://laist.com/2008/05/06/mcdonalds_new_s.php.