Here’s what the crazy little elf, Ginger has been up to this week.
And that ends week two. Next week we’ll see just what grows from these magic seeds! What has your elf been up to?
Our sweet little, mischievous, elf has returned! The jury is still out on whether on not this is a good thing. Just as last year (here, here, and here), I will post weekly updates. We still have the girls weekends only, so I expect Ginger to do some silly stuff again this year.
The girls think that Ginger put herself high upon the tree to keep away from our new dog.
Granddaughter-the-younger was first up that morning and was brave enough to open the tub and smell. “She must have eaten too many candy canes!”. Later the girls were practically shoving their dad’s face into the canister “Smell it! Smell it!!”
Once again, Ginger The Elf has shown just what happens when a little elf gets bored. But she can also be helpful!
Got any silly elves at your place?? Check back next week to see what Ginger is up to!
Well here it is, the last day of November. Florida has had a bit of cold snap, very early for this year.
Lately, I have been listening to the Deep Track channel on Sirius XM more. I do this for two reasons, primarily because I get to hear songs that don’t get a lot of airtime, and second for Earle Bailey’s Head Trip show. Mr. Bailey is also the morning drive DJ on the Classic Vinyl channel. I really enjoy his DJ work. He has a great voice (whereas I was told I have the perfect face for radio!), is very knowledgeable about the music and has a rather dry sense of humor.
Yesterday’s Head Trip was all instrumentals. When he first promoted the concept, I was intrigued. The show did not disappoint. Earle talked about a song I had never heard. Taurus by Spirit. The interesting thing about this particular track is, well, let me quote from the wiki;
Guitar World magazine stated that “California’s most enduring legacy may well be the fingerpicked acoustic theme of the song ‘Taurus’, which Jimmy Page lifted virtually note for note for the introduction to ‘Stairway to Heaven‘.” The Independent noted the similarity in 1997. In 2014, Mark Andes and a trust acting on behalf of Randy California filed an copyright infringement suit against Led Zeppelin in an attempt to obtain a writing credit for “Stairway to Heaven”. Page denied copying “Taurus”, and the suit was unsuccessful. The verdict was overturned on appeal in September 2018.
If you listen to Taurus, I think you’ll agree that Stairway is a copy.
But as Alro and I said in this post; “That’s not what I came here to tell you about”.
When there is a show about “Classic Rock” (and I still hate that term), that’s all instrumental, I will always listen for one song in particular.
This track has always been near the top of my list of all-time favorites. I would dream of one day being able to play it myself. Sadly, I can only play it on the radio. My guitar skills suck.
In case I’m being too obscure here, I’m talking about Classical Gas by Mason Williams. Reading up on Mr. Williams, I didn’t realize that he was also a comedy writer. He has written for some of my favorite shows, The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour and Saturday Night Live among others.
It was on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that he created and perpetuated the 1968 “Pat Paulsen for President” campaign, an elaborate political satire. Williams also helped launch the career of entertainer Steve Martin. Martin was hired by Williams as a writer on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, for which his contributions were initially paid out of Williams’ own pocket. In 1968, he won an Emmy Award for his work as a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
I’m not sure if this clip is from The Smother Brothers show or not, but it’s still impressive. Enjoy!
What’s your favorite instrumental?
Yes, today I hit the big 6 – 0, I think about 7PM tonight, but I don’t have my birth certificate here to read. Sixty damn years on this rock travelling around the sun. Not bad for one who didn’t expect to see 25. But you can blame Wifey® for that. I would have been either dead or living on the street long ago if not for her love.
Here are some of the things that stand out about my early life growing up in South Florida.
Needless to say, life has taught me many lessons since those carefree days of running around in just a pair of shorts, chasing lizards, and playing ball. Most of it good, but there have been lots of tough lessons too. But I won’t get into that.
Things from way-back-when I still remember;
I could go on forever. Remembrances of my military days. Going to Alaska, Korea, and all over the country. Having spent twenty years in the military and never seeing a day of combat is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it kept me safe, but all my soldier buddies that were pulled from our hospital duties to deploy for Desert Shield/Storm came back at least one rank higher (some two ranks higher). Meanwhile, the reservists that came in to take their place lost my promotion paperwork twice!
What about my wife and kids and grandkids? So many memories I could write pages upon pages. So that will be another post, I’m afraid.
Before I leave you today, I do have a birthday request. Not just for my birthday, but for anyone’s birthday.
I have been blessed with more than I need. I have family, friends, a roof over my head that has room for more than just me, food aplenty, lots of beer and whisky, and pretty good health. While I want lots of stuff, I am not in need of anything. I bet you’ve friends and family that can say the same. So, don’t give material things (unless there is a special need for that thing). What I would love is donations to a good charity instead. And there are many LOCAL charities available.
I don’t like big conglomerate charity places (i.e. United Way and the like). Their problem is overhead. One report I read said that for every dollar donated to these types of organizations, only 3 cents or so actually make to the folks that need it. Give directly whenever possible. National charities are good too.
That’s enough, you get my drift. Make a donation in your loved one’s name (and don’t wait for a birthday or other holiday). And if you’re an Amazon shopper like I am, use their automatic donation option. You can have a portion of your purchases go directly to the charity of your choice. It costs you nothing. Currently, I have St. Jude’s as my choice. But I do change it now and then.
Having said that, if anyone wants to send me a boatload of cash so I can get those “wants, but not needs”, I’m not gonna say no. A nice big pellet smoker, an RV (along with a new vehicle) are on that list. And they ain’t cheap.
But now I have to take on another of my birthday traditions. Namely, cook my own birthday dinner. But hey, I don’t mind. I cook because I love to eat.
Thanks for spending a little of my birthday with me. I appreciate your time. Hope your day goes well, as I expect mine to go. But I really must go, the smoker ain’t gonna light itself!
I leave you with this video, which has absolutely nothing to do with birthdays. But it’s another memory from one of my trips around the sun. This one is for you Lloyd.
So you either know this song, or you have no idea what I’m talking about. This particular track has become a Thanksgiving classic. But it’s only tie to the holiday is that the beginning of the story takes place at Thanksgiving, but as Arlo says; “That’s not what I came to tell you about”. The true message of the song is anti-draft and against the Vietnam conflict.
I am, of course, talking about the classic “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree“. The song was originally released in October of 1967. I don’t think I heard it until 1974 or so. Since the song is long (over 18 minutes), it wouldn’t fit on a 45 RPM single, and therefore was never released for airplay. It would take the advent of the “AOR” (Album Oriented Radio) format, a precursor to today’s “Classic Rock” format (Oh! How I hate that term) for radio to start playing longer tracks like this. Think Iron Butterfly’s iconic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida“.
Alice’s Restaurant is based on a true story. Arlo Guthrie, like a lot of folks at that time, resisted the draft. I don’t totally blame those that did resist. Even though I went on to join the military and eventually retire from the Army, the prospect of going to Vietnam was not something I was looking forward to. But I was too young for the draft.
The moral behind the song is summed up in one line;
The ironic punch line of the story is that, in the words of Guthrie, “I’m sittin’ here on the Group W bench ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army—burn women, kids, houses and villages—after bein’ a litterbug.”
What I find is that in all my years in the military, I served alongside plenty of folks that had much worse than being a litterbug on their records. In the end, Arlo was not drafted. And though the draft board used this arrest as the reason not to draft him, I think was more that his dad, Woody Guthrie, also a singer-songwriter, and a political activist, that had more to do with it. They just didn’t want a potential disturbance in the ranks.
So, go grab you a beverage, and a snack, and sit back and listen to the tale of Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.
Oh! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow (if you’re here in the USA). Otherwise, just have a great Thursday!
As I’ve mentioned before Turkey Day 2018 is just around the corner. And that also means my birthday is right there too. But this isn’t a post about my birthday. It’s something very Thanksgiving related.
In a previous life, I was an on-air DJ. I didn’t do it very long, as the money just wasn’t there, and I had a wife and newborn to take care of. Back then I watched TV. There were several shows that I really enjoyed, Barney Miller, Taxi, and SNL were excellent shows (although I had trouble staying up for SNL). But my favorites were Cheers and WKRP In Cincinnati. Music and a bar? Even back then that was where my head was at.
WKRP and the cult movie FM were two of the reasons I wanted to be a DJ. I have not been able to find a source to watch FM again. Which is a major bummer because Martin Mull is so hilarious. But WKRP, well that’s a different story. I believe every episode is available on YouTube.
This episode has to be the craziest ever! According to the wiki page, it’s even based on a true story! Check out the wiki page for some very interesting facts about the show.
Many of the characters and even some of the stories (including season 1 episode 7, “Turkeys Away”) are based on people and events at WQXI.
As funny as this clip is, it leaves out station manager, Arthur Carlson, after the drop exclaiming “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”
But my hero’s, intrepid newsman Les Nessman (winner of the Buckeye Award!), cry of “Oh! The humanity!” makes this so damn funny.
I’ve smoked, fried, roasted, undercooked, overcooked, done damn near everything to that damn bird. One year we even did a bourbon brined and bourbon smoked turkey! That was interesting. I’ve cooked them whole, spatchcocked, even quartered, just the breast, you name it. But, I’ve never done this:
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (even when it doesn’t coincide with my birthday). One thing I like is if I take the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of turkey week off, I get a total of nine days in a row off (counting weekends). I’m always down for extra days off! (I’m just starting day 1 for this year).
More importantly, family and food are what make this holiday special. Even though I end up cooking for days ahead, and the day of, I enjoy it. Wifey®, not so much. We are usually the hosts for everybody, and it’s very stressful for us. That’s why last year we took off, just the two of us, to the Smokey Mountains for the holiday. We also took a cruise one year, but it kinda sucked. Not only did it feel weird not having the usual Thanksgiving trappings but the cruise was rather boring. But we lived through it. We’re still deciding what to do for this year’s turkey day. But it looks like we’re going to a friend’s house this year (although we may end up here mainly because we have more room). All I can say is that the menu had better be set by the time I go shopping later today. Any turkey large enough to feed this crew will need to start thawing today!
One of my fondest memories of Thanksgiving over the years was my mom’s turkey pot pie that she made from the leftover turkey. That was to die for. I’m sure my siblings remember it.
As I mentioned above, last year at this time Wifey® and I were headed up to Maggie Valley, NC all by ourselves. (Start here to read about that trip. There are 6 total posts.) The granddaughters usually go with their other grandparents to somewhere in western Tennessee to visit the girl’s great-grandparents. And as much as I’d love them to be here, it’ very important they spend time with other family too. I just hope they tolerate the 15 + hour car ride well.
But remember –
What are your plans for the holidays?
(I originally was calling this event a “Throw Down”, but since I was the only one running the smoker, that title just didn’t fit. Kinda hard to “throw down” against yourself!)
Yes, I’m a bit late, but it was a very busy weekend. I seriously doubt I had more than 8 hours total sleep between Friday night and Sunday morning. Keep reading and you’ll understand.
The Sunday party was excellent. We had about 30 – 35 people show up. We had friends and family come in from an hour or more away, and folks from just down the street. Several kids for granddaughter-the-younger’s birthday. Lots of food, craftbeer, whisky (and whiskey), and did I mention food??
I picked up a not quite 10-pound pork butt and a not quite 16-pound beef brisket from my local butcher on Wednesday. While I have smoked a brisket this size before, I have never smoked a butt ever! I was somewhat apprehensive but very eager to try.
I started the butt about noon on Saturday. The plan was to heavily smoke it (I used a combination of hickory, cherry and apple woods) until it reached about 140º F internal temperature. I had recently purchased a little device to help maintain the temperature in my big ol’ smoker and to keep a better eye on the meat temperature as well. And I had nothing but problems with this device.
It’s called a “CyberQ Cloud”, put out by The BBQ Gurus. I had already done a test run two weeks ago to make sure it was working as expected. One excellent feature is that it can connect to my home Wi-Fi setup and I can sit inside and watch a webpage that has all my temps, timers, and just about anything else being monitored. But for whatever reason, it just would not connect to my Wi-Fi even though it showed it as available in the list. I tried calling the support 800 number, but they’re not open on the weekends? Seriously? You have to figure that most people BBQ on the weekends (unlike my family – we’ll fire up a grill anytime!). Yet there was nobody to answer the phone. “Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you” is NOT good customer support. I even tried to contact them via their Twitter, and never got a response. I could still use the unit, I just had to run in and out to check the monitor since it wouldn’t connect to the cloud.
We used “Cool Smoke Rub” all over the outside and injected it with a basic solution of apple juice, salt & sugar and other stuff. The butt reached the target temp about 6PM. I let it sit a little longer while we ate dinner.
Then I wrapped it in foil and placed it in a low (225º F) oven for overnight. It didn’t need any more smoke since I had very heavy smoke going the entire time it was in the smoker.
So it was time to trim the brisket, inject with a beef broth solution and dry brine it. It would not get its “Big Bad Beef Rub” until tomorrow morning.
The plan was to get up at 3AM Sunday morning so I could get the brisket on the smoker by 4AM. Due to the problems I had with the CyberQ, I changed my alarm to 2AM to give me time to get it working again. And since the universe hates me, I was up and out of bed at 1AM. What a life.
It took a factory reset to get the CyberQ reconnected. Thankfully there is ample documentation on the web for the device. It only took about 45 minutes to get it back up and connected. Whew!
So the brisket when on the smoker about an hour earlier than planned. No worries, it can be held in a faux cambro (basically an empty plastic beer cooler) for up to 5 hours without a problem.
The brisket probably weighed in around 14 1/2 pound or so after trimming. And since I didn’t separate the two muscles that make up a brisket, I knew this would take quite a bit of time. Following a very basic plan for brisket is simple. Smoke (I used all mesquite for this brisket) until it hits the “stall”. This usually occurs around 150º – 170º F. Mine kicked in about 160º F. I then wrapped it in butcher paper in a process known as the “Texas Crutch”. Some use foil for this step, but I prefer to use the paper. I believe it leaves the “bark” (that wonderful outer crispy edge) much dryer and crunchy. It also will help cut down on the cooking time. Once the brisket is wrapped, you return it to the smoker (or an oven at 235º F or so) until it reaches an internal temp somewhere around 195º F or so. When you hit the mark at 195º then cut the point muscle off from the flat muscle. I then test the flat for tenderness by sliding my temp probe into various areas of the meat. If it slides in “like buttah” then you’re good to go, if not you can continue to cook until it reaches the 203º to 205º F range. But be careful, it’s very easy to overcook and dry it out!
When I separate the point, they become the wonderful concoction known as “burnt ends”. What I like to do, and Wifey® requires that I do this any time I’m doing brisket,
is to chunk the point up and throw in the pan that has been set in the smoker to catch all the drippings along with some warmed Au Jus and then covered and set in a warm oven to braise for a time. There are no “set times” for any of this. Every piece of meat and every smoker are different. Throw in other variables like weather (I had to pull the brisket off the smoker early due to a sudden rainstorm and finish it in the oven), and you can’t go by time. The temperature and tenderness of the meat is what makes it done.
These little flavor bombs are damn tasty. And look how juicy those are.
On Sunday, the CyberQ redeemed itself. It worked as expected, and I enjoyed sitting in the garage with my music playing and watching my cook being recorded on the web.
The butt shredded up very nicely! I had also made a vinegar sauce for the butt. As much as Wifey® loves her brisket, I love pulled pork even more. My grandmother taught me that if any meat is seasoned and cooked properly it won’t need sauce. Seeing as she had, as a widow, at the height of the great depression, a successful BBQ restaurant, I’ll believe her. But I do like a vinegar sauce with my pulled pork.
And I’m very happy to say that several folks said the magic words – “Best I’ve ever had!” and “It didn’t need any sauce”. I take that as the highest compliment to be had. Thank you all!
I guess it was a good cook in any event. With all that meat, there was damn near nothing left. I was really hoping to have a pulled pork sandwich from lunch Monday, as I think I had one burnt end, one slice of brisket, and maybe two tastes of the pork. I did graze on all the other side dishes that friends brought, and some we made, but I didn’t get much of the meat.
This is all that was left.. (And I brought it for lunch today!)
And my beautiful granddaughter-the-younger had a good birthday with her friends as well. I do believe her uncle’s (son-the-elder) gift was the hit of the party! A Harry Potter Lego set.
I have no idea what time it was when I fell asleep. I remember most everybody leaving, especially those that had to drive an hour or more. All I remember was sitting down with a nice craftbeer and nodding off. It was a very long day. It started at 1AM, and didn’t end until that evening. I’m way too old to be up that long. Wifey® and I were smart enough to take Monday off. We knew that we’d be in no shape to do anything. I slept most of the day away.
Here are some links to the recipes and instructions I’ve been using.
Amazing Ribs. Meathead Goldwyn’s website. I have used many of the FREE recipes several times, and for this cook I used both his Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe and the Lexington Dip North Carolina Hill Country BBQ Sauce Recipe. He has a great book too. Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling available everywhere.
Cool Smoke. BBQ Champion Tuffy Stone’s website. The website doesn’t have much in the way of free recipes, but his book; Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue has a crazy amount of good stuff.
CyberQ Cloud. The BBQ Gurus have a whole line of BBQ stuff. From full on smokers, to tongs and other accessories.
I hope this little post was something enjoyable for you to read. Hopefully, the food porn didn’t make you drool too much!
And thanks again, to everyone that came over. I enjoyed myself, and I think ya’ll did too! (And a special thanks to those that helped put away the food, the grills and other parts and pieces after I had crashed for the night!)
P.S. Who’s up for Turkey Day???
This is one of those songs that has been with me since childhood. It reached #2 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart on 5 June 1965. Which would mean I was all of about 6 years, and not quite 6 months old. But it’s a fun song so it would have appealed to me. Of course, back in those days, it was AM radio only, and in the suburbs of Miami Florida, we had two great top 40 stations. Years (and I do mean many years) later, I was lucky enough to be an on-air DJ with one of those stations.) So I heard it often.
However, I never knew there was a video of the song until I stumbled upon it yesterday while playing around on Facebook waiting on an A/C guy to finally show. Judging by the poor video quality this must be a screen capture of a TV show. But a quick search (at 5 AM – and only one cup of coffee) turns up no clues as to what show, or when this was recorded.
From the Wiki;
(It) was the band’s first and biggest hit. It became a worldwide success, selling three million copies and reaching No. 2 on the American Hot 100 chart on June 5–12, 1965, kept off the top by The Beach Boys’ “Help Me, Rhonda” and The Supremes’ “Back in My Arms Again”. It was the first American record to sell a million copies during the British Invasion and was influenced by the British rock sound which was mixed with traditional Mexican-American conjunto rhythms. It stayed in the Hot 100 for 18 weeks, the longest time for any song in 1965, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was named Billboard’s “Number One Record of the Year” despite never reaching No. 1 on a weekly Hot 100; this feat was achieved again by Faith Hill’s “Breathe” in 2000 and Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” in 2001 (all three hits peaked at #2). On August 5, 1965, the single was certified as gold by the RIAA.
Also of note from the band’s wiki page is that they, in an earlier incarnation, were the house band at a bar near Leesville, Louisiana. While that may not be of interest to you, dear reader (you are still reading this, right?), also just outside of Leesville is Ft. Polk. And I retired from the Army at Ft. Polk. Just a little piece of trivia for me to tuck away.
I can’t really apologize for the quality of the video. It’s not one of my productions (not that I could have done it any better). I love the energy that most of the band has. Then when you add in the two girls standing stock still, it becomes a great piece of performance art. And it’s fun to watch, just don’t go full screen, then it really looks bad.
If you know of a better version of this video or know what show this is from, please leave a comment below!
So, today is midterm election day here in the USA. Please go out and vote! There is one thing I think we all (as in not just here in America, but the world over) need is love. And the repeating phrase “Love is everywhere” from this song is what we need to remember on this election day.
This track really shows off the guitar work of Dickey Betts (who wrote the song) and Duane Allman on acoustic guitar. I love the parallel guitar voices, running in thirds.
From the Wiki on the song;
His first songwriting contribution to the band, guitarist Dickey Betts initially wrote “Revival” as an instrumental. He began singing along, and lyrics came as an afterthought, which was not typical. Betts tended to naturally write instrumental songs first; he later commented, “You have to have an altogether different approach; an instrumental has to be real catchy and when you succeed it’s very satisfying because you have transcended words and communicated with emotion.”
This was the first song of the Allman Brothers to chart. Although it only reached 92 on the Billboard Top 100, and only stayed on the chart for three weeks.
So, without further ado, I give you Revival (Love Is Everywhere).
P.S. – GO VOTE DAMMIT!!!!! Please, vote your conscience.