Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Eve in Portland: Dinner at Grüner

About a week ago or so, Dolly-girl told me she was sitting in the front room along with her two cats when the door bell went off. She wasn't expecting anybody so she expected trouble at the door. I was up in Alaska talking with people who needed talking with, so she opened the confessional to see who was on the stoop. "Fiora D'Mestiere? Western Union for Mrs. D'Mestiere." She opened the door, fearing the worst. Maybe my clipper was in Icy Strait. She tipped the kid two bits and tore open the yellow packet. It was from Slim and Tootsie. Sometimes they say it's just easier to stop by the office and send a wire rather than calling the long distance operator. Go figure since Tootsie carries one of those new blowers that does everything. But Slim's a guy of habit. Anyhoo, they wanted to know if we wanted to meet Grüner or somesuch thing. What was this? Some trip through the Alps listening to Heidi yodel?

I had Thelma do a little of what she calls re-search--I figure it should just be called search unless she's doing it again, but I'm not one to argue with Thelma. I'd be more stuck than a 2-wheel-drive-pickup in Goose Creek mud without that gal.

Wasn't long before she got back to me. "What did he say? 'Meet Grüner' you said?" "Yep, that's what Fiora told me Slim said." I know that Thelma knows that Dolly-girl doesn't like to be referred to as Dolly-girl so I try and remember to call Dolly-girl Fiora when I'm talking to Thelma about Dolly-girl, got it? "OK, three choices. Some professor named Grüner at some I-V league school back in the sticks of New York. Works on something called 'soft matter'." I raised my eyebrows and Thelma shot me a look Dolly-girl would have envied. "Don't even go there, Jack." "I was just thinking that it's IVY league, Thelma--not the medical thing." "Actually, Jack, it dates from when there were four colleges and the Roman numeral IV stood for those four...Now, it's unlikely Slim was talking about Professor Grüner. Second is some rich guy named Grüner that's got no recipe for humble pie in his card file, I'll tell you. Companies, jets, patents, computers, blah, blah, blah. I don't think it's him--Slim doesn't take to that sort of per-so-ANAL-ity." "Probably not. Anything else?" "Well, there is a restaurant here in Stumptown, over on the other side of town where they look at us like we're the other side of town." "Bingo. Slim likes a restaurant and they set their brake on that side of town. Good work, Thelma." She rolled her eyes and that's when I knew she was funning with me--she knew the first two weren't what Slim had up his sleeve and now I did too. "I got Slim on the blower. He said you and Fiora should meet him and Tootsie at 6 sharp at their place so as to knock a couple back and then head to Grüner for dinner." "Check."

Come Saturday night, me and Dolly-girl did just that--headed to their joint on the side of town we call the other side and they call theirs. We admired the carving job Tootsie had done on her jackd'mestiere-o-lantern of the year, and tossed down a coupla skid rows that were a lot better than skid row except that I call it all skid row and you probably know that unless this is the first time you've laid eyes on this page. Tootsie said it was time, so we headed out on shank's mare for the rich-guy-professor's-place as I was now calling Grüner to try and get Thelma to roll her eyes. That sorta thing usually works.

We checked in."Slim and Tootsie, 5 at 7." Sounded like a craps table or something. "Five?" "Bluebird--she popped a kid out today and she needs a night off and something good to eat and drink." Dolly-girl gave him the up and down but I was suspicious, as I often am. "She popped a kid out and she's here for dinner?" Tootsie looked for Lourdes-ly help and then said,"Gad-so, Jack. You know Bluebird's studying up to do that welcome-to-the-world profession--she's been working today." Ah, that explained it. I was thinking of the whole delivering-in-the-cornfield-and-then-back-to-work-thing. Anyhoo, Missy showed us to a table, took our coats and chapeaux, and poured us some Bull Run. "Anything else gonna wet your pfefien? I could hear the yodeling starting..."Drown two for me," Ich sprach. Slim looked at the list and said "Bringen Sie uns eine Flasche italienischer Rotwein." We all raised our eyes at that one!

We looked over the whaddaya-wants and listened to Missy tell us the specials while he brought our drinks. It didn't take much yapping around the table to decide. Tootsie gave him the start-us-ups: "Grüner salad, shaved radishes, and smoke a flipper." "Sie haben es!" Slim gave him a knowing look, tapped something into the little box he carries, and said, "Ich danke Ihnen sehr mein guter Herr!"

The drinks and start-em-ups came back and there was sure nothing to complain about there. Well, maybe there was a little bit to complain about. The whaddaya-drinking was a little more than what we all were used to, follow? If you're thinking European food, don't think European wine prices. A glass of the skidrow bianco--oops, I mean weißwein--cost about twice as much as the whole bottle woulda cost down at the A&P. But, we were toasting this and that and it wasn't a big deal. The red stuff? Don't think you're gonna see a selection under about a General US Grant.

Missy musta been watching his flock 'cause anytime we needed tending he was there like a llama stomping a coyote. A civilized amount of time after we finished the starters, the dinners appeared and we dug in like the French at the Maginot Line. Hmm, maybe not a good analogy for use with a Deutsch restaurant... Dolly-girl and Bluebird went for the trout on greens and I had the Schweinebraten mit Rotkraut und Kartoffelpüree, or as Missy called it, the pork chop special with braised red cabbage and mashed potatoes. He was right: it was special! Slim had the same while Tootsie had some sort of noodle thing that had her singing The Sound of Music and dancing like a von Trapp Family kid. The mackerel snappers were lip smackers as far as I could tell. Slim and I left the dogs portion on our plates as we pushed back, too full to think of what the Dessertkarte might offer.

Missy brought the story, tucked into a copy of, oh mein Gott!, a copy of Heidi! We forked over the jack--figure a couple of Jacksons a piece plus I think you'll want to treat Missy pretty well on top of that for shepherding you through dinner. All-in-all, good food, good ambience--I mean ambiente--and, if you find a good Slim and Tootsie of your own, good friends. But drink some wine before you go..., I mean,
Aber Wein trinken, bevor du gehst ...

Monday, October 25, 2010

War on LARD!: Photographic Evidence that the 2-Step DUH! Diet Works

The blower jangled me out of a dream of a baguette, slathered with butter, a nice plate of French cold cuts, and a cinquante de vin rouge. "Jackie-boy, Professor Javier Boleyn here. I'm looking for illustrations for my new book, Looming Small: The New, Improved 2-Step DUH! Diet. Can you help me out?" The dream poofed away like on a Saturday morning cartoon show. I let it rest how there could be a new and improved 2-Step diet..."I think I can help you..."

.....July 21 ........September 24

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Showery Sunday Morning in Portland: Breakfast at Bingo Masters/Radio Room

Blower. Kay. "Saaay, it's il compleanno di T. Anthony Kavanaugh, you know, son anniversaire [Kay knew me and Dolly-girl had been hanging with the Frenchies, so she broke into it instead of just the Italiano] so we was thinking of heading to the Radio Room. You know they got that Bingo Masters Cafe we are wanting to try. You guys game?" "Shoot us and see. Hey, Dolly-girl, we got anything on for birdseed Sunday in the A-M? Kay's on the line with a light bulb going off. No? We're on. See you there." "Ciao."

The weather had been doing this and that--this is rain and that is sun--like it does this time of year in Stumptown. At the last minute we decided to leave the roadster parked and save the fossils. We took shank's mare. When we strolled up I could see right off that what we'd banked for another day, they burned in an outside gas fire which there wasn't anyone actually enjoying since it was back to this instead of that. Turn's out that was absolutely the only thing about the joint that wasn't hitting the spot perfectly for me.

I walked in and knew I was in the right place until Dolly-girl pointed out that the Lucky machine didn't have Luckies. It was an Art-o-Mat. Missy welcomed us in the door, waved her hand around an almost-empty joint--turns out it was early for the Radio Room crowd) and said "Park it where you please, ladies and gents. Welcome to Bingo Masters. I'll be with you in no time." We parked in a booth near the front window where we could look out at the this which by now had turned into that. She came back with the Bull Run and three pairs of dark glasses. "I get 'em out of our I-wonder-where-I-left-my-stuff box. They come in handy for this and that." She spoke my tongue. "Who's for a cuppa?" She spoke it again. "By the way, beau chapeau; c'est très joli!" She was headed for a great tip...

The joe made its way from the hash shop double quick and we settled down to have a gander at the whaddaya-want. Turns out with the size of it, it took a lot of gandering. Missy came back with her book. "Questions about the menu?" I passed instead of my usual "Is it printed on recycled paper" 'cause I figured it'd get me a shot through the wave and a "Oh, mon Dieu, donnez-moi une pause" from Missy, who it turns out really could speak French and she could even speak our talk with a Frenchie accent. Must be because she was from Philadelphia or someplace near it she told us but I forgot. Jersey maybe. She gave us a couple more minutes.

A couple things caught my eye right off. One was a whaddaya-drinking laying on the table. I picked it up, avoided looking at Dolly-girl who was warming up a wave shot. The other thing was the wall hangings and light fixtures. Obviously, whoever replaced the Luckies with the Art-o-Mat hadn't stopped there. They had a lot of my sorta stuff hanging around.

Missy came back and without looking right, I told her "Radio Mary." "Good choice. Anybody else?" She tapped her book with a pencil. The rest went for the dry-side fruit juices. They'd be sorry.

We turned our feedbag what-we-wants in and she took off to the back to have a chat with the hash slinger. "Eggs, beans, and grits times two. Make one with one on the run and one sittin' still. Keep the other one lookin' at me. Then give me a playwright, scramble the plot, and a Benedict Washington." "On it."

Missy kept our cups full while we were waiting, which wasn't long. My cackleberries, yellow grits, and beans were just what me and Kay ordered, times two. Dolly-girl got her Playwright's Hangover, henfruit revolvos on a bed of veggies and toast. The Birthday Boy went for the North West Eggs Benedict and they looked just like what it would take to turn traitor! I thought the Radio Mary was a tasty way to get your anti-oxidants and the other three agreed.

We finished up and sat slurpin' joe until this turned into that again. I'll tell you, it was just about as good a way to start the day as you can find in Stumptown. The feedbags were all we wanted and more. Missy? Service exceptionnel! And by now, the joint was filling up. The Radio Room caters to a late night crowd and they don't show up early the next day! Now, just put that fire out...

Jack's Lard Status

The LARD-o-Meter will appear at the top of the blog. For the most recent post, look below the LARD-o-Meter...

The Goal

Current Status:

3/4s of a pail to go!

War on LARD!: Has Gravity Changed or What?

I looked down. The lights on the scale flickered, then settled down. "Whew! I thought it was never going to happen! Another quarter-pail..." Dolly-girl called out as she walked by, "Way to go, Jack. Keep working at it. You'll get there sooner or later." "Wail! But I want it to be sooner!" She shot me one through the wave. "Why? Didn't you tell me this was the last time you were doing this? Do you want to get there sooner so you can go find all that LARD! you lost and slap it back on? Just get used to it, Jack, this is a life-long war against an insurgency. Remember how those civil rights workers fought for decades and never gave up..." Wail! She's right. What do I care how long it takes? I can't just get to the end and then start back up. Still, maybe I could have a piece of black licorice or a gelato...

She continued. "Give yourself a pat on what-used-to-be-your-gut, Jack. You're looking trim, well at least compared to the FatJack I knew and loved. And besides, you've been on the road talking with people that needed talking with and when you're bringing home the bacon it's hard to lose the LARD!" She's right, a usual. Ordering endless chicken Caesar salads isn't enough--I have to ask for dressing on the side. But if it's on the side is it really a Caesar salad? Of course, Caesar never tossed a chicken on his either.

She wasn't done. "And remember, you're back in the You-Ess-of-A where portions are delivered by dump trucks instead of garçons. When we were Over There, the feedbags were a lot smaller than they are over here and you didn't see many Dough-boys walking around if you get my drift." I did. Still more. "And, I was there to give you a shot through the wave when you might have been a tempted to have 'just one litttttllle piece of that lemon torte..." "Right again, Dolly-girl. I may have--no, I DID--eat gobs of guacamole that came with the world's best halibut taco at the Hangar on the Wharf Pub & Grill in Juneau, Alaska." She nodded and crossed her arms. Her toe tapped.

Bill, croon in my ear...LARD! is all around me... And other Bill, stay in the news so I see you all the time and be inspired. Keep me on the straight and narrow path, Bills!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Revising and Re-writing Manuscript Month

It's almost National Novel Writing Month again. Not for me though. This year it's National Novel Revise and Re-write Manuscript Month. NaNo-ReRe-WriMa-Mo. I think that has a certain ring to it. Follow my progress, and keep up with the most entertaining errors in the story, at Jack D'Mestiere, Stumptown Gumshoe

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dispatch from Our Nation's Capital: Ben's Chili Bowl

Met up with the Devereaux family at Ben's Chili Bowl. Ben's has a list of
people who eat free :

Bill Cosby
The Obama Family
No One Else

Sunday, October 10, 2010

War on LARD! Update: Adaptive Management

A bird chirp finally put me over the edge from drowsing to awake. I reviewed my system status: Breathing? Check. Eyes working? Check. Ears? "Mumph," I heard Dolly-girl react to me moving. Check. LARD! I don't know, feeling thin. The scale will tell.

I hopped up and headed for the scale, remembering to stop along the way--"A pint's a pound the world around--no sense in carrying extra water..." I stepped on the scale and stood at attention, trying to feel as thin as possible, sucking in my gut and standing up straight. I assumed the "This has to make me weigh less" posture. I looked down. The lights on the scale flicked while it tried to make up its mind how much I weighed like the reels on a slot machine when it's trying to decide that you lose. The numbers flashed. "Wail!" Same weight. Same weight for almost a week. "Wail!" Dolly-girl heard my sobs. "For the sake of Sam, Jack, will you put a cork in your pie-hole. I'm sleeping--or trying to--here."

This called for action. I used a LARD! Line and picked up the phone. Surely Javier Boleyn, the creator of the 2-Step DUH! Diet would be able to tell me what to do. "Javier Boleyn here. Who are you and why are you wailing?" "Professor Boleyn, it's I, Jack D'Mestiere. I need help." "Ah, yes. Jackie-boy. Why do you wail so? Has Fiora broken your heart? Are you calling to order a copy of my new best-seller, Losing LARD! for Love?"

It wasn't the book I was after. I started. I filled him in on my success to date--over a pail of LARD! driven to oblivion through my warfare. I amazed him with tales of actually defeating LARD! on its sacred turf--France. But now, over 5 days without so much as a tiny portion of schmaltz leaving my body. Wail!

"Stop your blubbering and let's get to the bottom of this mystery, Jackie-boy. Are you sure you are following the diet?" "YES!" "To the letter?" "Er, ah..." "Ah ha. What is it? An extra Finn Crisp? An entire grape? Not being tempted by baguettes and cheese are you?" "Well, maybe I have been taking 5 almonds instead of three..." "That's how it starts, Jackie-boy. And I'll bet you've parked your LARD! ass back in that office chair. You know, in France, even when you were traveling, you and Fiora were still spending a good deal of time on, what is that quaint term you use...?" "Shank's mare." "...Yes, that's it, shank's mare. Quaint. Remind me never to say it again. You simply are moving less than you were, and by your honest account, perhaps eating a bit more. You've switched the less and more in the 2-Step DUH! Diet equation." My head snapped to the right as reality landed a haymaker to my jaw. An almond popped out of my mouth. Busted.

He continued. "Well, Jackie-boy, you've discovered two things. A) LARD! wears you down. It becomes harder and harder to resist its siren call. And second, you have discovered the feedback loop, and a negative one at that. The more LARD! you give up, the less LARD! it takes to sustain you." I could figure that one out, and it meant no good news for me.

"Jackie-boy...wait, I shouldn't have to tell you this. Aren't you a proponent and practitioner of adaptive management or environmental management systems? Weren't you a simulation modeler? Does the cycle, 'Plan Do Check Act' mean anything to you at all?" "Wail! Oh this is bad news." "Yes, I think you know that you are ready for phase II of the Duh! diet. It's very simple. I want you to insert one word in each step. I want you to put the word, even in front of the words less and more." "Wail!" "You must do it, lad; the alternative is LARD!" I thanked him, replaced the blower on the hook, looked at Dolly-girl, and wailed.

My blubbering continued until reality flashed in front of my eyes again, this time in the form of Dolly-girl tossing a glass of water in my face. "Snap out of it, Jack!" She sounded like Loretta Castorini yelling at Ronnie Cammareri. Wail!

OK, I've summoned Bill to croon in my ear as I complete the first adaptive management cycle and implement the new, improved, 2-Step + DUH! Diet:

Eat even less! Move even more!