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Archive for October, 2009

Purgatory’s Kitchen

Posted by crowbiz on October 13, 2009

Reality Show #2.  That is, if I survive “Targeted” …..

I know, “Hell’s Kitchen” is already taken by the spokesman for culinary onanism, and I don’t need the name anyway.  As much as I dislike my kitchen, it’s not hellish, but it does feel like a place of never-ending penance from which I pray to someday be delivered.  


Perhaps there are a few cooking/lifestyle shows that have a shred of real life in them, but not like mine.  Viewers will be amazed that I can pull off anything more complicated than a peanut butter sandwich using an outdated kitchen that was badly and cheaply updated by a previous owner in the mid ’80s.  


My stove is vintage 1920s.  We have to light it with a match, which is why my two boys still cannot make their own grilled cheese sandwiches.  Next to the stove is our dog’s large crate, the top of which handily doubles as extra counter space.  Dishwasher?  Yes indeed, handed down from a friend years ago, it’s a harvest gold, roll-to-the-sink, hose-hookup classic, but what I love more than anything about it is that… it washes dishes.  Floor:  old maple floorboards whose planks are far enough apart to fit whole Cheerios; one could fashion a meal out of all the food particles to be found in the crevass-riddled, uneven surface (anything dropped will roll east).



Twenty-seven Hail Marys may not be enough

Twenty-seven Hail Marys may not be enough



Despite the picture I’m painting, I’m a pretty good cook most of the time, you just may not want to see how it’s done.  Therein lies the thrill of the reality show.  Dropped food on the floor?  Let’s dispense with the 5-second rule, which is ridiculously stringent when a good 5 minutes will do.  In my best Julia Child voice I’d chirp, “Who’s to know?”  Do you like to see chefs work with fancy appliances and utensils?  Years ago I whipped up a multi-dish full-on chicken dinner and trimmings using nothing but a teaspoon, all the while cradling a 6-week-old infant in my left arm.  Iron Chef, my ass – they’ve got nothing on the One-Armed Chef.  Though I don’t even drink coffee, I’ve lovingly ground coffee beans for Mr Crow with a mortar and pestle, looking and feeling like a peasant in an antique Columbian lithograph.  Our kitchen compost bucket is a plastic detergent tub, not a celebrity chef-designed….uh, plastic bucket.  For suspense, tension and cliff-hanging two-part episodes, we occasionally host holiday dinners for Mr Crow’s enormous family, sometimes staging – if not exactly entirely cooking – dinner for 38-40 people.


To keep things interesting on my show, I’ll happily lick my fingers like Nigella Lawson and bend over the dishes like Giada – my boobs are bigger but probably won’t film as well as hers.  I always love how Nigella’s fridge shows unlabeled plastic baggies of leftovers and lots of Snickers bars.  Mine has a whole cow eyeball in formaldehyde which I use when teaching Sensation & Perception; it was obtained from a student who’s father has some unclear connection to the Erie County Medical Examiner’s office, but he offered, and that’s not the kind of thing I turn down.  It’s right between the homemade fig and rosemary jam and a ramekin of bacon grease.


Food Network, enough with the “Overweight Guy Eats Weird and/or Diner Food” programs.  Get real.  It’s the least you could do after unleashing Rachel Ray on the world.  We have a place in Purgatory for you, if not lower down.



Charming kitchen vignette designed to distract you from the harvest gold dishwasher

Charming kitchen vignette designed to distract you from the harvest gold dishwasher




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Stella’s Dining Room

Posted by crowbiz on October 11, 2009

While shocking examples of pet spoilage can easily be found in our culture, Stella here represents a fairly normal middle-class dog existence.  She’s good in that she doesn’t whine about getting what all the other dogs have, mostly because her cognitive capacity can’t process “keeping up with the Jones” and also because she probably knows she’s lucky enough to have humans who will let her cuddle on their laps, which is like cuddling with a 50-pound sack of elbows.



Dining is serious business

Dining is serious business

Her dining area is in one corner of our kitchen, and we thought she might like a little ambience.  Candles and flower-filled vases were nixed for obvious reasons, but I did find this lovely and skillfully executed paint-by-number portrait of a cocker spaniel for 50-cents.  Really, even when you look up close it’s very well done.  Though spaniels aren’t really Stella’s kind, she does seem to like it.

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Posted by crowbiz on October 4, 2009

My reality shows:  Here is Part 1

Many people agree that reality shows are the stupidest thing ever conceived, so of course I’d like to have my own.  



Premise:  A middle-aged woman is sent to live in a Target store for six weeks with only the clothes on her back and her laptop.  She must spend her days and nights using only products and facilities available within the store, with the caveat that all items and services be made available to her:  food, clothing, furniture, the slushie machine, sports equipment, over the counter meds, music, books, OxiClean, employee associate breakrooms and supply sinks, and best of all, the funny red vehicle with the flashing light that they use to drive all the carts inside.  Naturally, the pharmacy would remain off limits;  this is a legal necessity, but unfortunately for a reality show, one that drastically cuts down the drama potential.


Family can visit, but only during regular store hours.  Contestant is allowed outside on Target property for fresh air once per day anytime while the store doors are unlocked, and a supply of produce may be brought in by family once a week.  This is no contest, it’s a vacation.  The stakes are upped by choosing my local Buffalo Target, not a SuperTarget nor some schmancy suburban store with their Starbucks, renovated, Euro restrooms, ergonomic baskets and produce sections.  Furthermore, I’d run into people I know and not be subjected to a lot of perfect-haired, high-heeled Xanaxed mothers pretending that they’re only shopping for paper towels.


At first I’d feel uneasy just opening packages when I needed something, assembling my futon (or maybe an air mattress from the camping aisle?) in public, and enjoying snacks for the taking, but life would quickly develop a routine.  Lots of reading and writing.  There would be internet access for my laptop so I can keep up with my favorite trainwreck sites and also to blog about the fabulosity of living in Target. 


Most likely, I’d find a red shirt and masquerade as an employee associate some of the time, finding ways to pretend to work (associate?), or in my case, pretending to pretend to work/associate.  Misdirecting shoppers guests would be fun; most of them could use the exercise.  I wouldn’t mind dustmopping now and then.  Some days would be spent in disguise when I choose outfits I would never be caught dead in normally – one day I’d be Polyester Civil Servant, another, Community College Tramp.  To break things up, I’d occasionally hide by lying down on a lower shelf, maybe behind some kitchen appliances or bags of dog chow, and if I didn’t fall asleep, see how long it took before someone got a surprise finding a body on a shelf.


Once the lights are turned off for the night, I can blast my own music, light a couple soy candles and hit the air mattress, keeping the snazziest flashlight I can find next to me in case I need to visit the bathroom.  At night, the crew would film me with that creepy night-vision camera that whites out one’s eyes, making me look like a retail Bear Grylls, only I won’t have to whisper about how cold I am or how the raw worm is holding me over for the night.  And never will I have to drink my own urine.


Audiences might grow weary and unbecomingly jealous watching a slacker waste six weeks on Target’s dime, so we should probably incorporate some challenges.  Reorganize the back-to-school section?  Elude shoppers guests with dart guns?  Follow clues around the store so I actually have to earn my Funyuns and Archer Farms Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti cereal?  


Why Target and not WalMart?  Please, I want to make it out with a shred of sanity and decency left.  Also, if I end up on, there might be a conflict with the network as to who has rights to my imagery. 


Target executives in Minneapolis:  I’m not kidding; we can negotiate the terms; I’m easy to find with a little googling.




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