Friday, December 18, 2009

Smoke It

Holy crap! Has it really been almost a month since I last wrote? Even after I said I was going to blog like once a week or some such nonsense? I have no excuse- I've been home from work for the past few weeks- so all I can say is, well, I got lazy. Okay, now we can get down to business. And this week's business is cheese. That's right, you've waited nearly a month to read a blog post about cheese. But there is a reason why this is important. I spent previous blog posts raving about Concord grapes, pastrami, and homemade bread- each of them a supreme example of three of the four major food groups, covered in detail by yours truly. That leaves one food group for me to tackle: the cheese group.
I'm sure you've all heard of buffalo mozzarella. It's one of the classic cheeses of Italy. Have you ever wondered how it's made? Like, are the Italians milking buffalos to make cheese? Can you even imagine anything more ridiculous? I'm not going to explain the process (that's what Wikipedia is for), but I am going to say that there is no longer any reason to eat it. That's because of something called smoked mozzarella. Smoked mozzarella is like buffalo mozzarella except that it's about ten times as delicious. My current obsession is Cucina Fresca smoked mozzarella ravioli. This is the best store-bought ravioli I have ever tasted. It hits all of the umami-specific taste buds on my tongue, and it hits them hard. You can put a jar of the worst pasta sauce on it and it will still taste fantastic. It must be noted, however, that I have tried other brands of smoked mozzarella that were nowhere near as good. So you have to be careful. But once you find the good stuff, there's no going back to the buffalo.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Daddy Daycare

Hello Friends,

Today was the first day of my six week long paternity leave. Yes, one of the benefits of having a baby (besides, of course, the baby itself) is taking a bunch of time off work. The last time I had that much time off at once was before I started my job- 13 years ago! I'm looking forward to spending lots of time with my family during this extended break, as well as doing a little traveling to see relatives during the holiday season. But if you think I'll be sleeping in 'til noon, playing video games, drinking beer, and watching Oprah...well, guess again. I've got a baby to take care of, folks. And it just so happens that Mrs. Concord went back to work today, so it was just me and the baby. This wouldn't normally be a difficult situation, except that Baby C does not like bottle-feeding. If she doesn't get the breast, she gets teary-eyed, starts screaming, and flails her arms around (come to think of it, I do the exact same thing). Given these circumstances, the day went by better than expected. Yes, Baby C did get upset, but milk was ingested, wills were broken, and progress was made. I only have two more days to get through (Mrs. C is quitting her job to spend more time with the baby), and then I'll finally be able to kick back and relax. Oprah, here I come!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I ♥ Gluten

Dear readers,

Is there anything more satisfying than a warm, freshly baked loaf of bread? I mean, besides a giant bowl of Concord grapes? I don't think so. As many of you know, I am obsessed with bread. It is by far my favorite of the four food groups. And I feel lucky that we as Americans are currently living in a golden age of bread. Every city has a bakery that bakes high-quality loaves and sells them at grocery stores all over town. But it was not always like this. When I was a kid the grocery stores stocked only pre-packaged sliced bread, and it was pretty mediocre stuff. But sometime during the past two decades European-style artisan bread became more common. Although it wasn't sliced, it had a much crispier crust and heartier flavor, a welcome change from the bland, mushy bread of my youth. It was, quite literally, the best thing since sliced bread. Nowadays, there is no excuse for not enjoying a delicious, crusty loaf. And yet, this wondrous thing has recently gotten a lot of bad press, and for no good reason. Several years ago, the Atkins diet craze swept the nation, and suddenly anything with a carbohydrate in it (e.g., bread) was the enemy. Of course, it was just another fad diet that came and went, but some of the stigma remained. Additionally, there has been a recent movement in some food circles towards gluten-free products, and this has once again has given bread a bad name. Now, I have nothing but sympathy for people with celiac disease, but that condition is pretty rare and doesn't justify the increasing popularity of gluten-free products. There's no reason for the vast majority of Americans to deny themselves the pleasure of yummy, gluten-packed bread.
Probably the best way to enjoy bread is to make it from scratch in your own home, which is exactly what I did last weekend. The house smelled wonderful while it was baking, and the bread was amazingly fresh, warm, and tasty. And just tonight, Mrs. Concord baked two loaves of brioche (pictured above), and it was even more incredible. This sort of thing is time-consuming, however, and it's not something that most people have time to do on a regular basis. If you're not up for baking your own bread, then you can still buy a nice, freshly baked loaf for a few bucks at your nearest grocer. And if that's not available, you can always settle for this: the Alexia Garlic Baguette. This is, in my opinion, the best frozen garlic bread (or frozen anything) of all-time. It is so good that I could eat a whole one in one sitting, which is something I've actually done. You see, there are so many ways to enjoy bread, and I've just scratched the surface. Gluten lovers of the world, rejoice!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Goin' Down South

Dear friends,

People often ask me what kind of music gets played around the Concord household. The answer is not as simple as you may think. While much of what we listen to falls squarely within the category of indie rock, we do like to mix it up every now and then. You know, a little Raffi here, a little Barney the Dinosaur there (just kidding- Baby Concord hasn't learned how to control the stereo yet). Lately we've been listening to a bunch of CDs from the fine folks at Oxford American. This is a literary magazine that focuses on writers from the South, and every December they put out a music issue that includes a compilation CD. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I have any interest in Southern literature (in fact, I never actually read the magazine), but that CD is a must-have. Each year the writers and editors put together a wide-ranging selection of songs from musicians with Southern roots, spanning several decades and genres of music. As you would expect, there's a lot of old country, blues, and rock & roll that fills the disc, but the choices are never obvious and usually interesting in one way or another. It's like a really good mixtape made by someone with an amazingly eclectic record collection. And they always manage to throw in a few truly oddball songs- Van Dyke Parks' weirdly catchy "G-Man Hoover", for example, or a cheesy 70's-era tune by Muhammad Ali. Mostly, though, it's a fascinating trip through the roots of American music, as represented by some of its lesser-known artists. A new one comes out next month, so take Uncle Concord's advice and pick up a copy at your local newsstand- you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lil' Lillian

Hello friends,

I am thrilled to announce the birth of my new niece, Lillian! She was born yesterday morning to my sister Christine and her husband Jonathan. Everyone in my family has been overjoyed with the news. And it's cool that my own baby now has a cousin, and I am now officially an uncle. We visit my sister pretty often, so it'll be great to see the two girls grow up together. Say hello to the next generation of Americans: Generation C (for Concord, of course)!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Hello friends,

It's hard to believe, but it's been exactly two years since I began this blog. This is a bigger achievement than you may think. It's rare for any blog to last that long; for a blog with only three readers, it's a freaking miracle. So for this glorious occasion, I decided to celebrate with some Concord gelato. (Actually, that was two weeks ago, but the rules of time don't apply around here, as at least one of my readers can attest to.) Similar to the Concord sorbet that I made last year, this recipe calls for a little added cream which gives it a richer flavor. It was a big hit around the Concord household, and I'm sure it will become an annual tradition.
But there was another reason to celebrate. To fully understand this, you must go back to my very first post and remember the original purpose of this blog: to spread the word about Concord grapes to the people of America. And then you need to know what happened to me recently on a cold October morning in downtown Seattle. Here's the scoop: a couple weeks ago, I attended a fundraising breakfast for a local charity. Most of the guests arrived before the dining area was open, so people were mingling in the lobby and waiting. In that lobby was a long table with coffee, tea, and various little hors d'oeuvres for people to snack on, as well as a fruit platter. And on that fruit platter were the usual suspects: pineapple, strawberries, kiwi fruit. But here's the crazy part: there were also Concord grapes on the fruit platter! Not green grapes, not red grapes, not even black grapes (which look a lot like Concords but are, in fact, far inferior); no, these were honest-to-God Concords. I was shocked. Granted, nobody touched them, but there they were, on display for everyone to see. Actually, I did see one person eat a Concord, and then I witnessed her look of disgust as she realized that there were seeds in it and proceeded to spit it out. Regardless, my heart warmed with the thought that these grapes were finally beginning to break into the mainstream. Now, I don't know who catered this event, but I wouldn't be surprised if a friend of a friend of that caterer had stumbled upon my blog, got inspired, and started spreading the word. And that, my friends, is what keeps this blog going. Concords Are Better may be two years old today, but there are many more years to come!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goodbye, Herkie

I am sad to announce that one of the Concord family's beloved cats, Hercules, has died. He passed away two weeks ago today from feline myelodysplasia. More than most cats, he was extremely playful and affectionate. He was also the smartest cat of all time, as demonstrated by his ability to open the latch on the bathroom window while balancing on the cabinet below. He may have teased his sister Pandora a bit too much, but it was all in good fun. I think she'll miss him, too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Littlest Concord

Dear Readers,

It's been ages since I last wrote, and big changes have been happening around the Concord household. What kind of changes? If you guessed diaper changes, you are only partly correct. Friends, I am excited to announce the arrival of Baby Concord! This little bundle of joy came into our world just two months ago, and since then she has been the center of our lives. I'll tell you more about her in a moment. Now, I think you can understand why I've been slacking off on my blogging duties lately. But I am going to get back into it in a big way: I will attempt to write a new post every week from now on. You're probably asking yourself right now, "How is the laziest blogger in the world going to accomplish such a feat?" Well, I'm lowering the bar. You heard me right. As far as I'm concerned, raising the bar is overrated. Everybody's doing it, and it just creates a lot of stress and misery. What I mean by lowering the bar is that I will post something every week, regardless if it meets my previously sky-high blogging standards. So one week you may get a three-sentence post about beef jerky, but then the next week you may get a five page manifesto concerning the socio-economic implications of tort reform. So there you go.
Now back to this week's topic- Baby Concord. And really, she should be the subject of every week's post, considering how big of an impact she has made on my life. Just how amazing is this little munchkin? First off, she is the cutest thing I have ever seen. Incredible, considering that she got half of her genes from me. She's also unusually well-behaved, judging from the numerous screaming gremlins that I have encountered in airplanes and eye exam rooms over the years. It's also surprising that she has already grown so big, especially considering that her parents are skinny folks. The thing that really blows my mind, however, is that Mr. and Mrs. Concord have created a new life. Right now, she depends upon us for everything, from eating to bathing to getting her diaper changed. But someday this baby will be a walking, talking kid, and then she'll be a rebellious teenager with opinions and strange musical tastes, and eventually she'll grow up to be a mature adult with a job, responsibilities, and perhaps a family of her own. And if everything goes according to plan, when I'm old and feeble, she'll be changing my diaper. Like I said, mind-blowing. Right now, though, I'm just enjoying her for who she is today: a sweet, precious baby. Each week is a new discovery, such as her first smile or a new vocal sound, and it's such a cool thing to experience. Friends, say hello to Baby Concord!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

Hi folks,

As most of you know by now, my brother-in-law Steve passed away earlier this month after a year-long battle with leukemia. It's taken me a while to write something about him, mainly because his death was something that was too big and emotional to express in words, let alone in something as insignificant as a blog post. Steve was a big part of my life, and his passing came as a shock to everyone who knew him. Although he had been sick for a year, his positive attitude and determination convinced us all that he would be able to overcome his illness. It's been difficult adjusting to normal life these past few weeks knowing that he's not with us anymore. I do want to share a few thoughts of Steve with you all, and since he was a reader of this blog, I think he would appreciate that.

I first met Steve a few weeks after meeting Cindy. My initial impression of him was that he was friendly and easy-going; in fact, I never once saw him get angry during the whole time that I knew him. He had a calming presence that took the stress out of whatever difficult situation he was in. Some of my earliest memories of him were from a weekend trip to Vancouver that he, his wife Johanna, Cindy, and I took in late 2006. It was fun exploring the city with Steve, because he had an amazing curiosity. He was fascinated by things that were new and different, and he was able to recognize the subtle qualities that made certain things unique and interesting. I think most people lose this sense of discovery and become more jaded as they get older, but not Steve. The four of us went on a lot more adventures around the Northwest, as well as trips to New Mexico, Utah, and Oklahoma. I will always have great memories of those times.

It would be an understatement to say that Steve was a smart guy. He had a reputation as a brilliant computer engineer, first with Microsoft and later with iLike. I don't know anything about programming, but I remember how quickly his mind worked whenever he encountered some sort of problem. Naturally, he loved gadgets and technology. At the same time, he had a great sense of style, and he could easily blend in with the hip Capitol Hill crowd. He always seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else. And yet, there was never any kind of attitude with Steve; he was a genuinely sweet guy.

One of the reasons I got along well with Steve was because he was quiet and laid-back, something I could relate to. Steve was the last guy to let you know if something was bothering him. I think he just really disliked creating any kind of drama, and he was happiest when everyone was getting along and things were going smoothly. During the year that he was sick, he tried his best to keep his friends and family from worrying too much about him. I don't think he ever felt sorry for himself during the last year of his life; he kept a positive outlook even during the most difficult times. He did an amazing job at keeping everyone up to date with his blog, and perhaps his detailed explaination of his disease and treatment was a way to deal with the enormity of it all.

I feel fortunate that I got to know Steve pretty well during the last few years. Cindy and I probably hung out with him and Johanna about twice a week, usually having dinner together or working on some kind of home project. I always imagined that he would've been a great father someday, and it makes me sad that my own child will never get the chance to meet him. I feel terrible for Cindy and for Steve's parents, who did the great thing of moving out to Seattle last year to be with him; it must be so devastating to lose a brother or a son. And I'm especially sorry for Johanna: she and Steve were so wonderful together, and when he became ill, she devoted her life to being his caregiver. She is a true saint.

It's no surprise that Steve had a lot of friends, and he enriched all of our lives. His spirit lives on in the memories of everyone who knew him. Steve was a great guy, and he will be missed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Think Outside the Bowl

Hi folks,

It's been a busy past few weeks in the Concords household. Our good friends Sarah and Michael recently moved to Seattle, and we've had a blast hanging out with them. In fact, we've had so much fun that blogging kind of fell by the wayside. But don't despair- Mr. Concord is here to enlighten you once again!

Many of you may have realized that my last post was a work of fiction. I do not, in fact, own a family-themed restaurant, nor do I intend to at any time in the near future. I'll admit that the whole thing was rather pointless. Let's face it, there are countless restaurants in the real world that are much weirder than the made-up one I blogged about last month. Which brings me to this week's topic: Modern Toilet. This is an actual Taiwanese restaurant chain whose concept revolves around eating out of a toilet. I shit you not (no pun intended). Check out their website here. Customers sit on toilets and eat food out of toilet-shaped bowls. Drinks are served in portable urinal flasks, and chocolate soft-serve ice cream is made to appear like a pile of dung. They even have something called a "hot pot". I imagine that the food is probably decent, but I doubt that the bathroom theme does much to whet one's appetite. Then again, maybe the Taiwanese have different tastes than the rest of us. Or perhaps the whole thing is an elaborate parody of the fast-food industry: if something tastes like shit, why not serve it in a toilet bowl? Whatever the reason, it's a fascinating example of Asian culture and ingenuity. America, the bar has been raised.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bring the Kids

Hello friends,

Some of you may remember a post I wrote a while back about Chew, the fancy restaurant that I opened in Seattle last year. What a difference a year makes. All was going well with it until the economy took a nosedive. Nowadays, the only people stopping by are the ones who just want to use the restroom. It's that bad. Apparently, $30 rutabaga-bison skewers are not on the top of everyone's wish list in 2009. So I've decided to switch gears and transform the place into something with broader appeal.

Welcome to Crabapples, a new family-friendly restaurant that caters to the budget-conscious, fashion-averse, suburban customer. We feature giant plates of medium-quality food at rock-bottom prices; who could possibly resist that? But the fun doesn't stop there. Wednesday is family night, when we give each kid a free paper sombrero and a crayon. And don't forget to bring your swimsuit, since every Crabapples has its own indoor water slide!

Here are a few selections from our extensive menu:

Senor Juan's Fajita Trough- your own personal trough filled with grilled meat, peppers, onions, and guacamole. No utensils needed. You keep the trough! $8.99

Desert Bloomer- we take a whole artichoke, dip it in chipotle-cornmeal batter and deep-fry it, and serve it to you with a honey-mustard dipping sauce. It's party time! $8.99

Do-It-Yourself Tacos- we bring you a head of lettuce, ground beef, a block of pepperjack cheese, and two taco shells. You make 'em, you eat 'em! $8.99

Cap'n Vinnie's Spaghetti Bar- all-you-can-eat pasta, our very own Ragin' Red sauce, and 30 different kinds of meatballs to choose from: Jamaican Jerk, Beefy Masala, Thai Turkey, and more! $8.99

Katrina Burger- 3/4 pound beef patty, lettuce, tomato, pepperjack cheese, all on a toasted ciabatta bun and "drowned" in our signature Nawlins whiskey BBQ sauce. It'll rock you like a hurricane! $8.99

Bangers 'n Hash- a southwestern take on a British classic: four jumbo hot dogs covered with bacon-jalapeno hashbrowns and topped with sour cream and pepperjack cheese. Spicy! $8.99

Kids menu- choice between tater tots or PB&J sandwich. $8.99

Who knew that eating out could be so much fun? Remember, you're always one of the family at Crabapples!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Man and the Beard

Hola Amigos,
The last time I posted, I was in Berkeley. Today I'm writing to you from Sayulita, a charming little beach town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Cindy and I are taking a "babymoon"- our last vacation before the baby arrives. Think of this post as a virtual postcard. The weather is nice, the people are friendly, and the scenery is beautiful. We wish you were here!

Today's topic is Will Oldham. Cindy and I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert last weekend while we were down in Portland. My super-cool brother-in-law Jonathan works at the venue where Will was playing, so we got to sit in the backstage VIP section and see him play up close. It was a great show by a uniquely talented musician.

So what is the big deal with Will Oldham, you say? For one thing, Cindy and I bonded over our mutual love of his music, and we both attended a show of his in 2006 the week before we met. I like to think that there is some sort of crazy, cosmic logic to all of this. But let's get to the music.
Will Oldham, who also goes by the name Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, began releasing albums under the name Palace Brothers way back in the early 90's. His music could be called "indie folk", as it is mostly acoustic and is heavily influenced by traditional American music styles. Nowadays, acoustic guitar-playing indie rockers are a dime a dozen, but let me tell you, back in the early 90's the music scene was a grunge-infested wasteland. So Will was a trailblazer of sorts. And while lots of musical artists have come and gone since that time, Will is still plugging away. Even more impressive is the fact that he's still making some of his best music this far into his career. It's not too common to find a musician that is at the top of his/her game for such a long period of time (Neil Young and Tom Waits come to mind, and yes, I'd rank Will Oldham right up there with them).

And then there is the public persona. You would not normally think that such beautiful, melodic music could come from the mind of such a freaky dude. I once saw him play a show that consisted of him singing, karaoke-style, over cheesy electronic versions of his songs. The fact that he was wearing eyeliner and a goofy sweater merely added to the effect. When Cindy and I saw him last week, we were endlessly entertained by all the weird dance moves he was doing. The guy is a true original.

Here's a clip of one of his songs from his latest album:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Concords Across America

Hey there,
Cindy and I are in Berkeley right now. We're having a great time hanging out in my old 'hood, and you can read all about it in Cindy's blog post. You should check it out. I'm not going to give anything away, but I will whet your appetite with these four magic words: monkey in a stroller. Alright, now on to business...
As I mentioned in a previous post, my friend Michael has taken on the noble task of promoting Concords Are Better around the DC area. Take a look at these fantastic photos:

What can I eyes are filled with tears. My favorite picture is the one where Michael is posing next to the Angry Old Republican Guy. If that guy can overcome his prejudices and give Concords a chance, then there is hope for this country. And check out that picture of Michael in front of the White House; if the Obamas decide to plant Concords in their new garden, I will be able to die a happy man.
Michael and his wife Sarah will be driving from DC to Seattle next month, and I'm sure he'll be spreading the word of Concords to people across the nation. Lookout, Wichita, the Concords Across America campaign has just begun!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Postcard from New York

Mr. and Mrs. Concord spent a few days in New York City last week. It was a great trip, made even better by our wonderful hostess Sheila. We explored cool neighborhoods, went to museums, and ate some great meals. We even met a freegan! I would almost say it was the perfect mini-vacation, except for one thing: I failed to find the perfect pastrami sandwich.
One of my complaints about living in Seattle is the lack of decent sandwiches, especially pastrami. I don't mean run-of-the-mill, stringy, supermarket-quality pastrami; you can find that shit anywhere. I'm talking about savory, thick-sliced, melt-in-your-mouth pastrami, the kind that can only be found in an authentic Jewish deli. One of the few places I've experienced this stuff is in New York City, so I made it clear to everyone that my one goal during our visit was to find said sandwich. A plan was made to go to the legendary 2nd Avenue Deli on the next-to-last day of the trip; in fact, the whole day was planned around this event. As luck would have it, we spent too much time at MoMA and had to postpone the quest until our last day. No problem, I thought- we weren't leaving until 2pm, so we could still go to the deli for an early lunch and then head straight for the airport. This is where things started to go horribly wrong.
NYC was hit with a snowstorm that day. Undaunted by the weather, we packed our bags and trudged through the slushy mess toward the subway station. While we were on the subway, the conductor announced that our stop was closed, so we had to get off on a different stop and walk several blocks, dragging our luggage through the snow. When we finally arrived at the address, the deli was nowhere to be found. I had been using an old guidebook, and the deli had since moved to a different location. It seemed as though some divine force was determined to prevent me from having my pastrami sandwich. Anyway, we had a plane to catch, so we settled for a quick bite at a coffee shop and took a cab to Penn Station. The cab sped through countless city blocks and then took a left turn down a small side street. I gazed through the frost-covered window as we passed by an image that would forever be burned into my memory: the 2nd Avenue Deli! The damn place was taunting me even as we were leaving the city. Alas, the sandwich of my dreams had eluded me once again.
One final note: our flight was cancelled, so I had to sit, pastrami-less, for several hours in the Newark airport with the knowledge that I could've had my sandwich after all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Reader

It's been almost three weeks since I last posted, and I must admit that I feel a little guilty for neglecting my faithful readers. I can only imagine your disappointment when you check back on Concords Are Better every day, only to find the same old post sitting there from last month. It's like waiting for a package that never arrives, a package that was supposed to be filled with magic and sunshine. Well, I have the solution to your problem: Google Reader. For those of you who don't already know about this wonderful tool, let me explain. Google Reader is built into your Gmail account (which I assume you have), and it keeps tabs on all of your favorite blogs. It does the same thing for websites that post frequently via RSS feeds. One of my favorite comic strips, Monty, is available by RSS feed, meaning that I get a new comic every morning in my Google Reader. So how does this help you? If you use it, you don't have to keep checking back on all of your favorite blogs; Google Reader will tell you when a new post appears. The only downside is that it does not show any of those soundclips that I post from time to time (actually, that may be a bonus for some of you), nor does it show any comments. But you can easily click over to the original blog site if you want to see those. Surfing the web has never been easier.
Before I go, I want to draw your attention to the picture above. That's Concord fan Michael standing on the steps of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., wearing his Concords Are Better t-shirt. He has been on a mission to spread the gospel of Concords Are Better to the people of our nation. Michael, you are an honorable man, and a great American.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Glen Khaki Glen Ross

Hola Amigos,

Welcome to a new installment of "Lost In The Supermarket: Department Store Edition". Today's topic is work clothes. Let's face it: we spend half of our waking hours at work, so it's pretty important that the clothes we wear are comfortable. Sometimes I envy those people who can go to work in jeans and a t-shirt. Unfortunately, my job requires me to create an illusion of professionalism, so casual clothes are out of the picture. The worst part is that I have to wear a tie. I still don't understand how wearing a stupid piece of cloth around my neck is considered respectable, let alone functional. But let's move on.
I recently discovered the perfect pair of work pants: the Glen Khaki, by Dockers. I know what you're thinking: Dockers are for dorks. It's the go-to pant for style-impaired, middle-aged office workers. But Glen Khakis are different. Let's start with the fit. I've never had a better-fitting pair of slacks than these. They're comfy without being baggy. The flat front (as opposed to pleated) gives them a look that is casual yet stylish. As for the fabric, it is both soft and durable. Here's a true story: Last week I was riding my scooter to work while wearing my new pants. As I was making a turn in a parking lot, my scooter slid on a thin patch of ice and I crashed. I was going slow enough that neither the scooter nor my body was harmed in any significant way, but I was sure my pants would be torn from scraping the pavement. Not so. There was nary a scratch on my Glen Khakis. In fact, they probably saved my poor legs from a bad case of road rash. So there you have it: pants that can take a beating and still make me look good. What more could a guy ask for?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Got Hemp?

Hi folks,

Today's post is the first in a series of in-depth reviews of supermarket products. I'm calling it "Lost In The Supermarket", and it will be a recurring column in this blog. In the past I've written reviews of local restaurants, but I've decided that's sort of pointless since most of my readers don't even live in Seattle. Supermarket products, on the other hand, are available to everyone, everywhere. They're the great equalizer in American culture. With that in mind, let's get started with today's featured product.

I recently made the switch from regular milk to soy milk, mainly due to some lactose intolerance issues. Actually, "intolerance" is probably too harsh of a word, since I can eat cheese and ice cream without any problem; it's mainly milk that sends me to the crapper. Perhaps a better term would be "lactose prejudiced". Anyway, everything's been just peachy since I made the switch. So imagine my delight when I found Hemp Dream on the shelf of the neighborhood grocery store. The concept is similar to soy milk, except that hemp seed is used as the base. I knew that clothing and other textiles could be made of hemp, and I'd seen hemp granola before, but hemp milk? I had to try it.

The packaging is great: the tie-dye colors make an obvious effort to appeal to the, uh, mellower segment of supermarket shoppers. The name alone suggests some sort of euphoric bliss. But that's where the party ends, folks. After drinking a glass of the stuff, I am sad to say that it tasted bitter and unpleasant. I ruined a perfectly decent bowl of cereal with it. And the worst part is, I felt totally sober afterwards. This is not a product that I can recommend to my readers, even those who normally enjoy hemp products. It's a bad trip, man.

Friday, January 9, 2009

1 + 1 = 3

Dear readers, I have some exciting news to share: Mr. and Mrs. Concord are expecting a baby! How crazy is that? Both of us are super excited, but also a bit stunned by the idea of bringing a new life into the world. It's strange to think that this sort of thing happens all the time, all over the world, and yet it's so incredible when it happens to you. Lots of questions fill my mind: What will the baby look like? What kind of adult will this child grow up to be? Will he/she fully appreciate the wondrous flavor of Concord grapes? I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that last question.

We learned the news two months ago, and we've told most of you already. The early pregnancy symptoms were rough: constant nausea, weird food cravings at odd hours of the night, unpredictable mood swings...and that was just me. But seriously, Cindy has had to put up with a lot during these past couple of months, and I'll always be grateful for her strength and perseverance. I mean, she's building a human being for chrissakes!
I can only imagine how our lives will change after the baby is born. We probably won't be going to very many rock shows or fancy restaurants. I might not blog as often as I do now (which is already pretty infrequent). I'll probably be sleep-deprived on a regular basis. But I'm looking forward to my new life as a father. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bloggers and Joggers

Happy New Year! I hope everyone out there had a safe and festive New Year's Eve. Cindy and I celebrated at a house party hosted by our friends Jenny and Greg. While most folks spent Dec 31 gearing up for a night of drinking and partying, our friend Nic was busting his ass running the Last Chance Marathon in Bellingham, Washington. As you may recall from a post I wrote a few weeks ago, Nic is running a series of 13 marathons to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. That's him to the left, wearing a Concords Are Better t-shirt on the day of the race (yes, we bribed him with a donation to his charity). So far Nic has run six marathons, and there's still time for you to donate to this worthy cause. Check out his blog for more info.

Speaking of which, there's also time to support my friend Trevor's upcoming triathalon. All he's asking is for you to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry. He still needs a lot of people to sign up in order to meet his goal of 100 new donors, so head on over to his blog right now!

Since I'm plugging my friends' blogs, I should also tell you about Quest For Manuka. This is a blog by my friend Chris (the same guy who's in the Netflix competition I wrote about a few posts back), and recently he's taken on the gargantuan task of listing his top 50 favorite albums of all time. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of such a brilliant idea first. It's a pretty damn entertaining read, and you should take a look.

This week's song is by MGMT. I don't know much about them, but I found this song on the web and it's catchy: