Saturday, August 24, 2013

Things That are Awkward

Hi World,

It is awkward when you find yourself in line at the wine store between two drunk people who know each other.

And  you have to ask yourself, when you are in line at the wine store between two drunk people who know each  other, "Is this really the image I want to present to the world in three hours?"

I'm willing to take that chance.

Have a good weekend, Chicksters

Chicken out

Friday, August 23, 2013

Interview with a Designer

Hi World,

It's  Friday.  Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch Friday,  to be exact.

I'm here today with Naomi Baloney,  independent  fashion designer, and former stylist for the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Naomi recently produced the world's first line of clothing constructed entirely from table scraps.  After last week's runway show, Naomi's work is being described in high fashion circles as ground-breaking, ingenious and avante-garde.  And now she's here to tell us all about her amazing journey from Stylist to the Clowns to Runway Designer.  Naomi?

"Thanks Chicken.  I'm so happy to be here to share my love of fashion, and my exciting new line, with your readers. As you said, my clothes are made from 100% recycled  food scraps.  The crust you throw away today may be the sweater you wear tomorrow."

"That is really just so resourceful, Naomi.  How did you ever come up with the idea for this line?"

"That's a great question!  As a stylist with the circus, there's a lot of downtime. Clowns will wear anything!  I spent a lot of time with the animals. The elephants' quarters always had peanut shells scattered all over the place and one day I just looked at them and had an epitome, you know?  I noticed that the shape of the shell resembles a strapless bikini top and I thought, wouldn't it be ironic to make a bikini out of peanut shells?  So that was the start of the whole thing."



"I think you meant you had an 'epiphany'"

"What?.....epipha what?  No, they didn't have any baby elephants,  these were all full-grown elephants." (bright smile)

"Pardon,  my mistake" (looks down into coffee-cup, tries to suppress smirk).  "Naomi, I'm  sure my readers are dying to know,  how do you keep the clothes from smelling like, well, rotting food?"

"We treat the table scraps first with a special formula, which breaks them down into fibers and removes the smell.  Then the fabric is woven and dyed, all before the garment is constructed.  For instance, the first piece in the line, the bandeau bikini, is made entirely from peanuts, but it doesn't  look like peanuts anymore, does it Chicken"

"Amazing!  How many peanuts does it take to make one  bathing suit?"

"We use just the shells, but it takes a lot.  About 500 lbs of peanut shells go into every suit"

"That's a lot of peanuts, Naomi! Where do you get that many peanut shells?"

"We source them from places like 5 Guys Burgers and Texas Road House, and of course the circus. They've been  very generous."

"Aren't you afraid that fish might be attracted to the bikini and try to eat it?"

"Don't be silly,  Chicken, fish don't eat peanuts.   That's why we made the peanuts into bathing suits and not safari gear. There's virtually no risk."

"To clarify, are you saying you shouldn't wear the bathing suit around animals you might see on a safari? Like...say....elephants?"

"Well that's just stupid, Chicken.  Why would anyone wear a bathing suit on a safari?"

"Can you answer the question,  Miss Baloney?  Are these bathing suits, in fact, unsafe for wear around elephants"

"Yes.  Yes, ok?  They shouldn't be worn around elephants.  It says that right on the label.  But that would be stupid and no one would do that."  (rolls eyes dramatically.  False eyelash falls loose, lands in Chicken's coffee.  Chicken drinks coffee black, thus drinks eyelash.  Recycled eyelash.)

"No you're right, I'm sure nobody has ever worn a bathing suit on safari or to the zoo or the circus or anywhere around any elephants.  But why don't we move on. Tell us about some of the other materials you use."

"OK sure! Here we have a lovely summer dress made from eggplant and green bean scraps. The color combination is striking, isn't it?  And over here we have a sweater made from left over mashed potatoes.   It's warmer than cashmere and so soft!  You  could pair it with that moto jacket over there, made entirely of baked potato skins-looks like leather, right? Oh, and this is fun!  This red carpet gown is hand stitched with 3 million individual pieces of Near East rice pilaf on a base of steamed tomato skins.  Isn't it amaze? "

"Amazing.  It's amazing"

"Rachel Zoe says 'Amaze' and so do I.  That's the way designers talk."

"Cray cray"

"I know, right?   Look, this scarf is made from leftover vegetarian lasagna.  Perfect for fall layering"

"That brings up an interesting question, are there any leftovers you won't recycle into clothing, Naomi?."

"We don't use any meat products.  We're vegan.  If it has a face, we don't make clothes out of it. That would be cruel.  We do, however, use meat cubes in the construction of some products, namely outerwear and boots."

"Naomi, it has been truly interesting.  We are almost out of time, but we do have one more question from a reader.  Pearl from Minnesota is on the line and she'd like to know if you make lederhosen from leftover Catnip?"

"Hi  Pearl. We don't currently make catnip lederhosen, but we do take on special assignments.  Ask Chicken  for my contact information after the show and we'll talk."

"Thank you, Naomi.  You're amaze.  Literally.  And there you  have it, folks, the first ever line of clothing constructed from recycled food scraps. It's Table to Closet styling, the latest fashion trend."

Don't wear this around elephants.  Or elephant seals.

Chicken  out

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Boomer Evolution

Hi World:

Social scientists now divide the Boomer generation into two distinct groups, Boomer I and Boomer II.  I'm a Boomer II.  Raised in an era of benign neglect, we were tossed out the door every day after breakfast. "It's too nice of a day to stay indoors!" was the universal battle cry of our overwhelmed mothers. The actual weather was of no consequence.  We were five. We could take it.  Sans sunscreen.

We had hours and hours of unstructured time and little adult supervision. We made up games that involved throwing sharp objects at each other, wandered freely in the woods, built tree houses on other people's land, played with matches, stole apples and other produce, fell out of trees, and beat each other up.  It's a wonder most of us made it to the 70's.

In the 70's, we watched Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. For the first time, it dawned on us that we had missed out on something, namely the fifties and early sixties, setting off a life long cycle in which we always felt left out of the cool stuff the older Boomers got to do, and too old for the trends of Generation X.

In the 80's we embraced Yuppism.  Even if we denounced it because we didn't earn enough to be true Yuppies, we secretly aspired  to it.  We bought a lot of crap. If we didn't know what we needed, we watched the neighbors.  If they bought a lawn jockey, we bought a bigger one in a better color. Just because. Eventually, marketing companies got better organized and told us what to buy which made everything so much easier.

In the 90's we had a couple kids and took turns entertaining each other in our homes. We became really obnoxious and competitive about food. Martha Stewart reigned as supreme queen of the early foodie generation but ultimately Martha was just a stockbroker with a lot of energy and a creative streak. The search began for a new Foodie leader. We began to worship at the alter of the Celebrity Chef.  We made reservations two years in advance just to experience the food stylings of our favorite culinary gods.  We planned vacations to Napa.  We bought Anthony Bourdain's books.  We bought a different whip for different size eggs and a special grapefruit knife and individual souffle dishes. We renovated our kitchens and bought copper pots. At every opportunity, we used words like, mouthfeel, crumb, texture, artisinal, and crunch to display our superior culinary knowledge. We also began  to get fat, so we took up running and aerobics.

We limped into the new millennium with bad knees and high cholesterol. Our doctors suggested  we find a lower impact sport and start eating better.  Then 9/11 happened and we closed the doors on  the world. We took up nesting.  Some of us moved to Vermont. We discovered  cycling, kayaking and yoga, opened our chakras, and embraced the world once again. We sometimes referred fondly to our hippy days even though we never had any hippy days because we were like six when Woodstock  took place.  We decided to be  modern day hippies. We started growing shit in our backyards and shopping at farmers markets on the weekend.  We wore 100% cotton clothing and ethnic jewelry.  We dabbled in essential oils. Somewhere along the journey we might have acquired a meaningful tattoo (is there any other kind?) in an inconspicuous area.

And now, in our fifties and approaching sixty, we're in a hurry to experience as much as we can because we're going to die sooner rather than later. We write out our bucket lists.  We strive to remain as fearless as our five year old selves back in the days after Buddy Holly and before Michael Jackson.

At least we had Journey.

Don't stop believin'

Chicken out

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Devious Marketing Strategies of the AARP

Hi World,

Did you know that John Stamos recently turned 50?  He did.  I found out from the AARP.

I also just turned 50 but the AARP didn't make a big deal. They sent me more crap in the mail.  I feel a bit overlooked but I'm working through it.

I've been receiving AARP membership solicitations for years now.  I think this is a deliberate marketing strategy. You turn 40, you get a little package in the mail with a birthday card and special membership offer. You're a little in shock, at first, but you make a lame joke  about it.  "Oh, I'm 40,  guess it's time to join the AARP and go on a bus tour. I hope I get to sit next to Betty White."


By the time  you reach 45, it's not really funny anymore.  You start to get a little indignant.  You might even overreact with a bonfire in your back yard fueled by all the crap AARP sends you.  Well, some people might. Some possibly peri-menopausal people. Or chickens.

They keep sending stuff, you keep throwing it away, they just keep sending it. By the time you turn 50, you're just worn down.  You're not even surprised or offended anymore.  You are completely the AARP's connection to the elderly.

That's when they start reeling you in.  They've been grooming you for ten years and now it's pay day.

Because sooner or later it happens. You get curious about something, maybe retirement age, maybe a photo of John Stamos you saw on Facebook.  Whatever it is, you know AARP will have the goods, so you go on their website. Harmless, right?  You might as well write a check and kiss your youth good-bye because the Fat Lady just belted out her theme song and dedicated it to you.

Six hours later, you're still on the website.  Not only have you signed on for a lifetime membership, you've read an article about Bill Clinton being a vegan and an excerpt from Stephen King's new book. You've joined an online chat group facilitated by Dr. Phil AND Dr. Oz, entered a contest to win a date with Mick Jagger, signed up for a free yoga class, and bought a bloody RV.

Welcome to your golden years.

Happy Birthday John  Stamos. You are still crush worthy.
"Chicken?  Chicken!  Hurry up, Dear, the bus is leaving!"

"I'm coming Betty.  Don't get your panties in a twist. Did you bring the sunblock?"

Chicken out

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Weird Science: Meat Cubes

Hi World:

Remember when you were a kid and you first heard Green Eggs and Ham? Maybe, like me, you thought to yourself,  "I don't care if my parents make me sit at the table for a year, there's no way I'll ever eat green eggs!"

Well, move over green eggs, and make room for meat cubes.  You heard me.  As in a cube shaped object purported to be meat.  And that's not even the worst thing.

The worst thing is that the meat cubes are not real meat.  Well, duh, right?  Meat doesn't usually arrive cube-shaped..

Meat cubes are grown from a sample of animal cells using an "animal free growth serum".  Then the cells are printed onto sheets that are layered to create cubes, which are then  ground up with flavors and added nutrients and formed into meat....things....

Arrggghhh it's alive........IT'S ALIVE....

They call this  product "cultured meat" or "lab-grown" meat.  Makes you want pull a chair up to the table, doesn't it?

"Yeah,  hi.....Tell you what,  gimme a slab 'a that lab grown meat?  Steak flavored? With a loaded baked tater and a side 'a green beans. And the little lady here'll have the same thing, only with the chicken flavored meat. Now them green beans-they  locally grown?"

To be fair, this technology prevents the slaughter of animals, uses far less energy than standard farming, and emits fewer greenhouse gases.

FDA, if you are listening, the Chicken family has a few questions we'd like answered before we buy in:
  • Are you testing meat cubes on animals?
  • Can I buy organic, grain fed meat cubes at Whole Foods and grind them into fun meat shapes?
  • Do meat cubes hold up well in crock pots?
  • What would a tenderloin roast meat cube cost me?
  • Are meat cubes anything like Willy Wonka's special gum?
  • Where can I buy meat cubes in bulk?
  • Does John Stamos eat meat cubes?
  • Will you be providing a pamphlet of meat cube recipes incorporating cream of mushroom soup?
  • Can I buy a kit at the Hobby Shop and produce my own meat cubes?
  • If I can buy a kit, will I need a dark room?
  • If I do grow meat cubes in my dark room, can I open the darkroom door and shout, "It grows the meat.  It grows the meat or it gets the hose again."?  Or would that be considered cruelty to animals?
  • Are these meat cubes American made?
  • Will Ikea sell Swedish Meatcubes?
  • Is it possible to roll the meat cubes out into long strips resembling bacon or is that meat cube 2.0?
  • Can you make a meat dress out of meat cubes?
  • What wines pair well with meat cubes?
I read about meat cubes in a vegetarian magazine. The diagrams were particularly enlightening.  I see what you did there, vegetarians.  Well played.  

What green eggs and ham  might look like if they were made out of meat cubes

Chicken out

Monday, August 19, 2013

Writing Practice

The old wolf snarled and  bared his teeth, staring out at something in the dark behind the tree line. Behind him a small cub quivered, staying silent.  The cub was afraid and thankful for the presence of the elder. She had found herself alone here many times, waiting for something she could sense but could never see.  .

Janie's eyes flew open as she sucked in a mouthful of air. She checked her surroundings in the soft glow of her nightlight.  The dream was coming more and more often. The only thing that had changed since the first dream was the presence of the older wolf in the field with her.  He had materialized out of the fog in the last two dreams, shielding her with his massive body, and staring down the evil in the woods. Did this mean she wasn't alone in the frightening world she sometimes occupied?  Did it mean the bad thing was getting closer?

She slipped out of bed and  padded down the hall to her brother's  room. Bryce was 12, almost five years older, and so smart the school let him skip a grade.  She had told him about the dream after a couple of months of trying to soothe herself, unsuccessfully, back to sleep.  He had listened closely, asking questions, and helping her clarify what she saw and felt during the dream. She climbed into his big bed.  He rolled over and opened his eyes.  "Hey...Again?  That's three times this week"

"The big wolf was there, too."

"Was it the same one-with the white markings?"

"Uh huh.  He stood in front of me again. He knows something is there, too.  Then he came over and poked me with his nose, like he wanted to play.  Then I woke up."

"Do you remember anything else that was different? The  field, the weather, the light...anything at all?  Was there anything in the field that wasn't there the last time?"

"No.  I thought about it right after I woke up, just like you told me, but there wasn't anything."

"Good job, Shorty.  You can stay here.  I'll be your big brother wolf.  Grrrrrrrr.  I'll keep the bad dreams  away from you."

Janie nodded, her serious brown eyes glowing in the room's dim light.  "Okay. 'Night."  She turned on her side and curled into a little ball, nestling into her brother.

Bryce lay awake for a long time after.  He was worried about Janie.  Should he tell Mom?  He doubted she would do anything.  She insisted that Janie was a normal little girl.  He knew Janie was different than most seven-year-old girls. It wasn't just the nightmares.  She knew things she shouldn't know, like who was calling on the phone, and that Mr. Lucien's dog was going to get hit by a red truck a week before it happened. She said things that she didn't remember saying later. In her sleep, she sometimes spoke an Abenaki dialect she had never been taught.  Bryce recognized some  of the words and phrasing from visits to his Grandparent's home when he was younger.  He had been seven or eight.. Janie would have been too young to absorb the language, right?  Maybe a word here or there, but she wouldn't be fluent.  They hadn't been back to the old house since Gran died. Grandpa had moved out after and they didn't see him now. He  wished, for the thousandth time, that his Gran or his Dad were here.  Dad, with his background in science, would take a scholarly approach to helping Janie, and Gran would wrap Janie in a big hug and make her feel safe.

He knew he was an inadequate substitute, but he would do his best to care for his sister.  Dad would have expected nothing less from him.   As he ran through the details of her dream once again,  he felt a shiver of unease go through him.  He had witnessed Janie's strange ways enough to know that if she was having the same dream repeatedly, it meant something bad was going to happen.  But what? And more importantly, when?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Feeling Like Some Hemingway this Sunday

Along With Youth

A porcupine skin,
Stiff with bad tanning,
It must have ended somewhere.
Stuffed horned owl
Yellow eyed;
Chuck-wills-widow on a biased twig
Sooted with dust.
Piles of old magazines,
Drawers of boy's letters
And the line of love
They must have ended somewhere.
Yesterday's Tribune is gone
Along with youth
And the canoe that went to pieces on the beach
The year of the big storm
When the hotel burned down
At Seney, Michigan.