Successful people are boring, the mystery of hot bicycle seats, and one question you should never ask, among the deep thoughts we've been thoughtifying all week…
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For some reason, I keep thinking chicken and waffles should be my favorite breakfast choice.
Fried chicken for breakfast. How can that not be great? It’s right up there on the food pyramid with bacon and, unlike bacon, I can eat it in front of my rabbi. Likewise for waffles, the breakfast food so delicious they named an entire restaurant chain after them. Put them together and you have a surefire winner.
Except, you don’t. My odyssey has been going on for about two years now and I have yet to find a place that serves chicken and waffles to die for, or even to get seriously injured.
The best fried chicken is moist inside, crisp outside, with breading that is almost a second skin. Great waffles have endless pockets of crust surrounding an inner body of chewy dough. There’s give and take, push and pull, crunch and gush, an ideal combination. Yes, there is an art to this, but it’s not like fried chicken and waffles are new inventions without 5 zillion how-to videos on YouTube.
You can find thousands of restaurants where they know how to make fried chicken and thousands more with great waffles. Doing both at the same time should not be close to impossible, and yet it is.
Part of the challenge, of course, is that both waffles and fried chicken are more complicated than their homespun legends would suggest. Making fried chicken with crispy skin and not too much breading, with meat that’s still moist and not overcooked…that’s a major challenge for everyone. Creating waffles that are almost crunchy without being a dry pile of crust is likewise a feat.
Even restaurants that get these basics right will find a way to screw it up, though. Some cooks think it’s a great idea to throw a couple of burnt chicken wings on a waffle, because nobody really wanted any edible “chicken,” while others deliver a thigh that’s still dripping with fat that ruins the waffle’s structure.
Some restaurants put no seasoning at all on the chicken, or come up with bizarre combinations like sriracha syrup with blueberry compote and ramp. A few places have decided corn is the absolute best flavor for a waffle, such as the restaurant that proudly served me a chewy concoction slathered in corn flakes and an ungodly agglomeration of spices I have never experienced before on Planet Earth.
Over the past two years, I’ve ordered chicken and waffles about 40 times at roughly 30 restaurants. This search has morphed from a fun excursion to a death march, as I slog through one disappointment after another. I feel like Prince Charming, doomed to touch every smelly foot in the kingdom in hopes of finding my true love.
After all this time, I’m in too deeply to call it quits. The search continues and it will not end until I find the chicken and waffles that are every bit as wonderful as I had believed them to be when the journey began.
Clearly, this is a noble quest.
Just as clearly, I have way too much time on my hands.
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I knew a fastidious guy who often commented on the need for proper attire, neatness, cleanliness, and decorum. One day, we were talking about something or other and he started picking his nose. When I made note of that transgression, he said quite simply and without affect, “It’s okay. Mine is different.”
I wish I could convey the tone of his voice when he said it. He was matter of fact, the expert, letting me know that I had no need to worry because his was different. Nothing to see here, citizen. Just move along.
In the greatest feat of self-control I have ever mastered in my life, I did not laugh, sneer, chuckle, snort or make any comments about his assertion. Perhaps I was floored so completely I couldn’t react at all, but the conversation continued as if nothing had happened.
I was thinking about that situation recently as I began contemplating the Ten Days of Awe, beginning this evening with Rosh Hashanah and continuing through Yom Kippur. I’m not the most observant of Jews, but I get fully engaged in the period of introspection, confession and atonement that comprise the High Holidays. And in my more self-aware moments, I am reminded how much I am like my (mostly) fastidious friend.
Mine is different, or so I will claim in one way or another. All too frequently, I write myself a permission slip to excuse the things I just did, or the things I know I’ll do again. It’s okay, though, because I’m a good person and I’m not really hurting anyone, or hurting them much, and it’s only fair because they do it, too, and it’s not like they’re apologizing for what they did, which is much worse than what I did, and, anyway, they pretty much deserved it. And I’m a good person, dammit!!!
I’m not alone, of course. I am bombarded daily with explanations, excuses, and the total lack of any self-awareness exhibited by people who know they are justified, permitted, forgiven, graced. Perhaps our most human failure is our willingness to forgive ourselves for the things we would not forgive in others, a willingness to assert that a wrong is not wrong if the right people do it. And, of course, it is absolutely true that WE are the right people and THEY are not.
We never add up all the lame excuses, and then the Days of Awe arrive. It’s not a surprise, but the arrival of the holidays brings a sudden awareness that, maybe, Someone with an infallible memory has been tallying up the damage. Perhaps, Someone with a really great sense of right and wrong has noted our willingness to pardon ourselves as if we were the true judge. Even if a person has no faith in a Higher Being, the process of introspection and repentance is truly awe-full.
For the past year, much like my friend with the itchy nose, I’ve made too many excuses, too many deflections, too many claims that mine is different. That probably makes me like everyone else in the universe, but I’m not responsible for all of them, just myself. And so, I’ll be spending the next ten days hoping for a second chance, or maybe a 67th chance, to get this thing right. Wish me luck.
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In a travesty that is repeated every year without fail, the television industry will bestow its Emmy Awards on Sunday without a single acknowledgement of the most deserving performers in the entertainment industry. I’m calling for a boycott of the event until its leaders atone for this transgression.
Of course, people who tune in can expect the usual bad jokes and awkward acceptance speeches from this weekend's telecast. We’ll see clips from shows we never got around to streaming and all kinds of virtue signaling from the woke allies in show business, along with the requisite memorials for the stars who departed since Emmy last.
Conspicuously absent, though, will be much deserved recognition for the finest actors, choreographers, singers, dancers and other artists of the small screen. When will the Academy bestow its honors on the people who deserve awards the most?
Which people? Glad you asked. Here are the new awards they should add immediately to this year's show:
These are the performances that deserve the highest accolades of the profession. Anyone can do a good job with a solid script and good direction, but only the truly great can make us lose sleep over their zits. Join our boycott and let’s ensure that they get the credit they deserve.
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So we dusted off the passports this summer for a trip to Iceland, where tourists outnumber locals by about eight to one and they just held a funeral for the first glacier that melted away in the ongoing heat wave. Thoughts from the journey…
Speaking of broader horizons, we’d love to hear your pearls of wisdom about this whole travel thing. Share your comments with us and we’ll all be more sophisticated and worldly as a result.
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Not that I’m really needy and whiny and crave the attention of tiny young people who are blissfully unaware of all my flaws, but it’s worth noting that today is Grandparents Day across the United States.
While parents double-dip with Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June and then Parents’ Day in July, there’s only one day in the year for Grandparents, and it must be shared by both Gramps and Grammy. (Actually, I think I saw a National GILF day during my research, but this is a family blog and we’re not going there.)
Being a grandparent is one of the great joys in life, because it combines all the fun of having children with zero responsibility. Take them to the zoo, gorge them on cotton candy, buy them a puppy and then drop them off when they get cranky. If mom objects, remind her of that video with her singing on the toilet while she pooped.
(Disclaimer: I am supposed to note here that I do not actually have any videos of my daughters singing while they pooped. I do, however, have several that are even better.)
As grandparents go, I would describe myself as ridiculously greedy. I love spending time with the children and I make sure to file my requisition forms at least once a week. And why not? There are a ton of things that make grandchildren far, far superior to all other forms of people:
It’s important to reciprocate, of course. As a grandfather, I want my grandchildren to know there is always a person who is happy to see them, happy to play with them, happy to teach, happy to listen, and always, always, rooting for them. That’s not a tough investment on my part, and the returns are huge.
I know there will come a time when they're too cool for me, too engaged with their friends or their start-up businesses or their viral videos or whatever. Right now, though, we're still in the magic zone and it's time for me to fill out my requisition forms for next week’s visits.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.