DIY kitchen improvement!

Raise your hand if you see this ending well.

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Update! It’s a disaster. Must implement Kitchen Improvement Plan B. Off to the gas station.

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OK, it smells like Satan’s breath in here, but we might be getting somewhere…

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AND…I’m living a Pinterest nightmare. Day 5 (I think? The gel stain fumes are eating my brain) and the condo is filled with slightly sticky pieces of wood and a toxic cloud. This will never end. Those perky bloggers who convinced me to take on this project are evil. They lie! They lie. I just want to be able to cook bacon again.

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Sick daze

I used to power through a cold. Just load myself up with meds and slog through the workday, conducting interviews where my questions made no sense. I’d simply hit the mute button during a coughing fit. But I am old now. Old people take sick days, and not the fun kind. Old people lay on the couch and pray to die while watching the movies on Netflix that no one actually paid to see in the theater. Old people sweat and groan and find that the refrigerator is miles away.

Old people do sick in the ugliest manner possible. In the dark. In glasses. In the clothes I wore yesterday and never managed to pry off my hacking, infested body. Covered in crumbs.

 

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Let’s hope for a quick recovery. You people deserve better.

Up close with a competitive eater

Lettuce.

Back in my entertainment reporting days, I somehow landed on the absolutely disgusting competitive-eating beat. Cincinnati had embraced the sport, and it seemed as though every other restaurant was offering a gut-busting challenge: obscene burritos, exploding gyros, pizzas bigger than coffee tables, submarine sandwiches you could float in.

Over time, I befriended the person who was gobbling up all the local eating crowns — Joe LaRue, a massive, surprisingly gentle dude in Kentucky who just so happens to love food. Joe’s a native New Yorker and a former rising star in the competitive eating circuit who got the boot for participating in non-Major League Eating-sanctioned events. (For all that sloppy hot dog eating, the Eater’s World is a tightly controlled one.) Joe was hurt by the dismissal, deeply. But he kept eating.

Which is how it came to be that one morning, I sat with Joe and his girlfriend as he attempted — and in a rare twist, failed — to eat the 3-pounds-ground-beef-6-fried-eggs-12-strips-bacon-12-slices-cheese burger in 30 minutes or less at Joe’s Diner in Over-the-Rhine. I wrote about it for Metromix and didn’t eat for a day. I was going through some old photos this morning, and I found my record of that day, and I thought you might like to see this.

Let us explore the emotions of the competitive eater on a day in which he does not win.

Joe. Burger. No biggie.

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Watching the kid get married

Reblogging this because it’s one of my favorites…

I met Ginny when she was 12. I was exactly 10 years and 9 days older. She had long brown hair and lived in a stack of bricks that functioned as government housing in the middle of Kansas. I’d moved to town a few months ago for my first job as a newspaper reporter and was looking for a friend.

There she was, in a pile of applications to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

She’d barely smiled for the Polaroid. Her questionnaire answers were bizarre, irreverent, winking at this entire match-making process. The only truth in the paperwork was that she liked to read and write. This was a strange kid. I couldn’t wait to meet her.

We went to Pizza Hut that first night. She wanted pepperoni, I think. Maybe I made that decision. She barely said a word, just stared at me from across the booth. She ate shyly, chewing behind a napkin. I asked her a bunch of questions, and the answer was almost always a shrug. She looked at my work pants and my thick black pea coat and determined that I was a boring grown-up who talked too much.

I drove home that night feeling old, wondering if I’d made a mistake.

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When the lights go out

If you live anywhere from Indiana to Virginia, you know about this storm. It was brutal. It ripped huge old trees from the ground like they were carrots. In downtown Columbus, I didn’t see a lot of the damage. It wasn’t until I got to Newark last Monday that I saw scenes like this:

Worse than the blown-over trees and knocked-down signs (and yes, that’s an upside down plane) was the fact that tens of thousands of people were without power in Ohio. The temperature soared into the 90s. There was no gas, no milk, no sign of life at nearby convenience stores.

Every night, I went home to air conditioning and microwaved meals while families like the Haynes sat on the porch in 90-degree weather, hoping for relief.

I’ve never felt so guilty reporting a story. I had just one day at the office without power. I hauled my two camping lanterns into the building and made phone calls in the eerie light. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people couldn’t even take a hot shower. They were so desperate for power that they left tokens of gratitude to the utility company, which at times might have felt like their greatest enemy.

The utility workers, meanwhile, were sleeping here. Life wasn’t much better for them. They retired to a trailer after a 16-hour work day.

Some people made the best of it. These sweet kids in Granville, Ohio, set up a lemonade stand. They offered me a glass for free, but I declined. They weren’t hurting for customers. Most of the village didn’t have power for a week.

As I type this, it’s Sunday night. Thousands of people, many of them in Licking County, where I work, still don’t have power. So far, three people there, all elderly and suffering from health problems, have died in this heat. I can’t stop thinking about them.

Behind the scenes at Tigerwoodsfest

OK, this is actually from last week’s Memorial Golf Tournament in Dublin, OH, where I wrote features while all the real sports reporters merely tolerated my existence. Oh, and I ate a lot of candy. One day I ate four Tootsie Pops. My mouth is still raw. Here come the Instagrams!





And here are the stories I wrote. And this one. P.S. I still don’t get golf. Too much standing there and losing sight of the ball.