I got a phone call from corporate yesterday and spent on hour talking about the future for The Old Country Buffet. Mr. Hendersen and I adressed alot of pressing issues facing the all-you-can-eat establishment and discussed the scathing comment card left behind by my wife in our last visit;
"Jeff, we're both men of the world and we both recgonize exactly what the problem is. You're understaffed and the dessert station at the Dickson City location looks like a war-zone...especially on Thursdays (family night)."
Breakfast was next on the agenda and I quickly realized that the bigwigs in corporate are as passionate about it as I am: "Mr. Eckstein, I fully agree. Why The Country Buffet took grits and biscuit gravy off their Sunday brunch menu is a total mystery."
"Asinine. It defeats the point that The Golden Corral, Big Buddy's Buffet and Martha's Big Meals and other second tier smorgasbords don't provide old traditional breakfast choices. Anyone can do soggy pancakes and a couple of greasy links. It's not just about eating in Biblical proportions–it's about opening eyes," I countered.
Jeff admitted it's all about education. My next book, "All You Can Eat; Getting Your Money's Worth Every Meal...Even If It Kills You," a non-fiction graphic novel well over 400 pages is a start. To their credit, The Country Buffet's section have put on their website, How To Buffet, a good primer for those who didn't know how to turn dinner into a spectacle (although no mention of my famous Catch n' Release sampling method which I teach at my workshops).
But we ended on a good note, both expressing our excitement about the premiere of Rancher's Select Steak next Spring and of course I was promised to be invovled in the upcoming symposium in Austin. There's alot of work still left for us but I'm confident we're on the same page and share the common goal. As I said, "It's not dinner unless it hurts."
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Behind the infamous honeymoon haven Cove Haven, where they are currently taping The Last Comic Standing, is my neighborhood, a hotbed of exceptional tennis players including a cluster of Russian girls primed to turn pro. Meanwhile others are past their prime – yesterday I had a rematch with one of the best senior players in the country (he's won the silver in the World Senior Games a few times). I won't use his name but I'll share that he is 62 and in amazing shape. We played the best of 5 sets (I won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4) but he won the moral victory of being able to still breathe normally when we were done. There were some awkward moments in the middle of the third set during one of the change-overs when I needed some mouth-to-mouth.
After the match I picked his brain about his life and his game to learn how he looks ten years younger then me (I'm 44). We critiqued each other's game. We concluded I could be ranked #1 if I played in the 70+ division and I could probably look the part if I took up smoking. He was shocked I don't play everyday. He plays every day. His daily routine is to hit to gym and then walk (or run) 3 miles (each way) to the tennis courts where he drills from 9am to noon. Our match went from noon till 3 pm (He had been active many hours before he took the court against me. That morning I watched cartoons and went to the bathroom.)
He's on his way to Ottawa today as he continues traveling across the country by RV playing tournaments and eventually reaching Utah for the Nationals. In his RV was a computer for keeping track of his playing schedule and dozens of plastic bottles of supplements and powders. I explained my prematch meal was a pickled hot sausage and a glazed covered donut from the 7-11, one of which wrecked havoc with me later. Meanwhile he watches everything he eats – no sugar or bread. Eggs and oatmeal. Juicing and energy drinks. Fresh vegetables. This week I went to the All-You-Can-Eat twice, once almost dying.
Today I start afresh. For breakfast I had a half a cucumber and bowl of steam. Meanwhile, I wish my friend luck and look forward to his email updates. We will practice next summer again and I hope to reverse my shape by then...although it doesn't seem likely.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Happy Birthday Sophia Loren, Dr. Joyce Brothers and Jim Stone (Father-In-Law and Frequent House Guest)
Important message to Jim Stone; Your daughter and son-in-law would like to wish you a Happy Birthday and are happy to announce we finally completed the construction of our new second bathroom and it is waiting for you to break it in and teach it who's boss. You're not going to find a more fun bathroom to go in...if your idea of fun is using a restroom that is only 33 inches wide, is at a total slant and when sitting on the bowl your feet dangle off the ground like you're in the high chair at IHOP (there's a dangerous step in front of the bowl).
Sorry I won't be in the NYC area to join you for your birthday dinner. I've been up at the house trying to finish construction on the house – the contractor walked off on us for not paying him in full before all the work was finished. Plus parts of the work had problems (the bathroom faucet dripped badly, the door wouldn't close, etc.) and I had to stay here and correct those problems before the inspection so I have to stay up here. It'll be a load of my mind when it's done. But it will be ready to go, if Jim Stone, you're ready to go.
Here's a picture of the final results.
"Your seat awaits!"
"All behind the comfort and
privacy of this glass bathroom door."
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
"Why is this day different from all others? Why do we need an International Talk Like a Pirate Day?" valid questions posed on The Original Talk Like A Pirate Day website. (yeah, I know, didn't we just celebrate this holiday?)
Now I could have written this all in pirate talk or come up with some lame jokes about this upstart holiday. I choose instead to just run the following photo from their website. No surprise; if you had to visualize the people behind International Talk Like A Pirate Day I think we would all agree it would be exactly these four people. Below is the actual caption.
"Cap'n Slappy an' Ol' Chumbucket are off to LA for TLAPD, while the wenches, Mad Sally and Jezebel, will be carryin' on the tradition (and just carryin' on) at home. Watch the site for our reports - and yours!"
Remember these other important dates;
Oct. 3rd is International Park Like A Pirate Day, Nov. 14th National Talk Like, You Know, An Illiterate Day and of course, December is Stop Paying Child Support Month
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Ray Lang is this really nice bloke I meet while working on my book. He's a talented painter from the UK whose above painting is featured in my snowman book. Yes, that's a painting of a snowman getting run over by a car driven by Santie Claus, in an all too common occurance during what I like to term as The Dean Martin Years. It was during this period in the late twenties and thirties that the snowman was on the receiving end of much abuse and would eventually turn to the bottle which lead to other things which I cannot get into here. I have full documention in the form of pictures and artwork to back this up, believe me.
Anyhoo, Ray is going to be rich and famous in a short time (well, I promised him fame & fortune if he appeared in my book). So, here's alittle fame in the meantime as I recommend to my bloggsters Christmas Magazine's interview of Ray Lang and his portfolio. (The Christmas Magazine is a fun online magazine for those who wish that everyday was December 25th. I think my head would explode if everyday was Christmas myself and I'm actually working on a cartoon about drugs one can take to get through the holidays.)
Next post we discuss Nigels in our continung focus on the Brits. I don't know what that means either - we'll have to wait and see!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
You think you're having a bad day? I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine who is having a couple of bad-luck days. Not only is her home phone AND office phone been out of order but she just had her laptop stolen. So to cheer her up I present the following two (no-fail) items to turn around anyone's bad day; a visit to The Nietzsche Family Circus and freshly baked Monkey Bread. Hope this helps.
Your welcome. Hey, it's what I do.
Monday, September 10, 2007
This was the first year I did not attend the US. Open – as I mentioned before, I have not missed a single U.S. tennis championship in the past fifteen years. But it was clear that this was Roger Federer’s year. In October I’ll be beginning tennis lessons and we'll see what next year brings.
Meanwhile, my neighbor begun her pursuit of world tennis dominance. Ranked #1 in the world for 16 and under, she just returned from her run at the US Open. As the youngest player in the junior draw at 14, Stephanie Vidov made it through the qualifying round before losing to another Russian who was the tenth seed. I saw her this past weekend at our neighbor courts in Hamlin, Pennsylvania where her uncle/coach had her training again (last year he traded lessons with me for hitting with one of his proteges). I hadn't seen Stephanie, who has been playing across the world, in a year and it's shocking how much she blossomed into a beautiful athlete, growing to my height and looking like Anna Kornikova's lookalike. Nike has picked her up and has given her a free spin card in their stores to help herelf to everything.
This all got me inspired to immediately drive out to Long Island to begin tennis lessons with my 3 and 5 yr.old nephews. Not many balls were hit but racquets and tantrums were thrown. Never since Andre Agassi retired has there been so much crying on a tennis court.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
My short time on the open mic last night went well and I accomplished what I had hoped – I have taken a step toward getting over my stage fright. I got alot of laughs and compliments on my material and I will make more appearances.
On another note here is the next installment of short stories;
Slush Files; Part 3
Let’s Make This Happen
Dear Augustino Gnassingbe Eyadema,
I am so sorry it has taken this long for me to get back to you regarding your family’s loss and news of your government’s upheaval. I’m really bad with the email—ask anyone—but yes, I HAVE been getting all your emails and, of course, yes, I’m interested in helping you out. I should first tell you I’ve never helped release an inheritance before but my husband jokes I’m a fast learner. Unfortunately, Bernard will not be able to join us on the trip to your wonderful, topsy-turvy country as we’re adding a third bathroom for the girls so one of us has to stay here. But you will be meeting (drum roll!) Mr. Trousers, our Jack Russell terrier dynamo. So as you can see there’s a lot going on here, too. A busy month indeed!
Your e-mail’s instructions on how to transfer funds were a bit confusing so I’m going to have my bank contact yours. My girlfriend Debbie works there. She can provide you with that account information you requested, although I think your offer of $3.8 million is far too generous. We can talk about it after I get there. I think we should first iron out my travel arrangements as I’ve never been to Togo before (what a cute name for a country!). There are some things you’ll need to know about me beforehand. While I enjoy a good meal as much as the next person, I have been cursed with more than my share of food allergies. Please refrain from serving shellfish, coconut, strawberries, pork, night shade plants and anything containing yeast. Decaffeinated coffee is fine…if it’s fresh. Mr. Trousers is not as picky and will eat anything, including people-food. Like us, he has a three meal a day regimen.
I’m very anxious in learning more about your country and finding out if where I’ll be staying has a gym or pool. If you could e-mail me back the website of the hotel where I’ll be lodging at that would be tremendously helpful.
How long can I expect my visit to last? Right now I’m packing enough for a week with an extra bag for the millions of dollars, but let me know if there’s anything special I should pack. I’m currently shopping for an English to Togo translation book, some industrial-strength sun block—something at least 200 SPF as I’m very fair-skinned—and a very large hat. I hope it doesn’t present a problem getting through customs—the lotion or the hat. If your airport is anything like ours I may just have to get them at your duty-free shop. The last time I was at JFK mean security guards confiscated all my bottles of Mary Kay meant for my sister-in-law. Instead I had to stop off at Target and buy her a panini maker.
How is your toilet paper? I know it’s an awkward question but although Bernard and I have been doing our part being green and cutting back on our usage, as I have learned from our trip last year to Lake Como, I’m still not ready for European style toilet paper. Nothing fancy, mind you, one-ply is fine. Thank you. Now, is there anything I can bring back for you? I have the money orders you requested but I was thinking of something more personal I can give to your last surviving wife. My aunt hand-knits toaster cozies, those practical sweaters for kitchen appliances. If that doesn’t sound good I can get something else. Has your country ever heard of Tupperware?
No doubt ours will be a great adventure and I can’t wait to meet you. Words cannot express my excitement and the honor I feel that your royal family has chosen me, of all people, with such a responsibility. In a world with so much distrust and hatred, it is reassuring that people from opposite corners of the world can still be brought together in a common interest. Let it begin with us.
Monday, September 3, 2007
I want to thank everyone who wrote to me regarding getting let go at TimeOut. Thanks for your compliments and support!
The last 2 weeks+ a second bathroom and dormer has been under construction at my house (adjacent to my office/studio). Internet access (electricity and phone) have been off and on during this time so work and blogging were on hold. Thanks for revisiting.