Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm too Stupid to Use My Own Scanner

I recently figured out how to scan my drawings in a way that doesn't make them look like they've been run through a defective matter transmitter. It only took me about three years to do this, and then it was only because my friend Susan, who knows about these things, told me how.

In my defense, the process is completely counterintuitive. When I fire up the old Canon, it asks me what type of material I want to scan. I'd always chosen the "black and white line art" option, because, 1.) my drawings are in black and white, and, 2.) they are mostly made up of lines. It seems that this little test is precisely how Canon separates the smart kids from the ass-backward stupid ones. When I explained to my friend how I'd been scanning my drawings in the past, she responded "Oh, no. Don't use that line art setting. Scan your drawings as color photos." Well, that was just about the dumbest thing I'd ever heard and I wondered vaguely whether Susan had taken to hitting the sauce in the afternoon. I was desperate enough to give it a shot, however, and I'll be darned if she wasn't right.

That there's an exercise I did for a Drawing 1 class I took last fall. (Clicking on the picture will bring up a much larger version, by the way.) The assignment was to stuff a bunch of miscellaneous crap in a shoe box and draw it. There were slots in the sides of the box so some of the stuff was sticking out the side. The depth of the box is not readily apparent in this scan, since my scanner is smaller than the actual drawing and there were no 8-year-olds around to show me how to use Canon's foolproof "stitch assist" feature.

If Susan looks closely, she will notice a very poor rendering of a very nice piece of pottery that she made for me many years ago.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wawa, You've Given Me a Wah-wah

Take a good look at this picture. What do you see?

“A gas station,” you say? “A convenience store,” you say? Apparently, only the idiot offspring of Mr. Magoo are reading my blog today. Hell, anyone with one good eye and a metal plate in his head would recognize the above Wawa establishment as an oasis of gourmet specialty items for weary travelers with the most highly refined of palates.

Okay, I can tell that you need me to spell this out for you. The below advertisement is proof that my assessment of the above photo is entirely accurate.

Now do you believe me? For those of you not familiar with this gourmet taste treat, “ciabatta” is the Italian word for “slipper” and is used to describe a type of bread with a slightly wrinkled, crisp crust and delightfully airy center. While ciabatta loaves are largely shapeless, they often have a bit of a pointy end that resembles the toe of a lady’s slipper. Thus the name. Here is a ciabatta loaf that I baked recently.

As this was my first attempt at ciabatta, it resembles something more of a circus geek’s clubfoot than the shoe of a dainty Italian maiden, but you get the idea.

The observant reader may notice that Wawa’s ciabatta looks nothing like the traditional Italian loaf I’ve just described. For one thing, it is split down the center like a loaf of Sara Lee* split-top bread. For another, it has a distinct shape not unlike that of a weenie bun suffering from gastric bloat. In fact, it would seem that the ciabatta’s comparative pallor is the only quality that sets it apart from Wawa’s standard hoagie roll.

We should all congratulate the Wawa on its impressive display of inventive epicureanism. It takes a tanker truck full of balls to shatter a stale, centuries-old bread baking tradition in effort to create a ground-breaking new taste sensation that will satisfy no one and everyone simultaneously.

In its infinite wisdom, Wawa realized that not every one of its potential customers is a culinary expert. There were bound to be a few poor slobs stumbling into Wawa who wouldn't know a boulangerie from a pair of crotchless underpants. So, Wawa was kind enough to lend these folks a guiding hand by providing a beverage suggestion that would compliment the ciabatta’s flavor rather than overpower the complexity of its yeasty wang.

Thanks to Wawa, culinary rubes now know that a fountain beverage the size of an oil drum provides the best accompaniment to ciabatta, and that pairing ciabatta with an ICEE is nothing shy of gauche.

Since Wawa’s business practices had so deeply moved me, I decided to visit the company’s website so I could learn all there is to know about this Gourmet Good Citizen. I was thrilled to find that Wawa has posted its mission statement online for all to see. Among the many high standards that the company strives to uphold, I found these to be the most poignant and relevant to its obvious devotion to artisan bread baking:

Our Core Purpose. . .
To Simplify Our Customers’ Daily Lives

Our Core Values. . .
Delight People
Embrace Change

I, for one, am delighted by how much simpler my life has become due to Wawa’s commitment to embracing change. Gone are the days I once spent toiling in the kitchen, kneading bread by hand while a hot oven singed my sagging derriere. I’m off to the Wawa to git me some of that $3.99 ciabatta action. Hot-damn!

* Sara Lee Food and Beverage, incidentally, has just recalled several of its whole wheat bread products because they “might” contain metal fragments. While it’s true that nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee, apparently there is at least one Nitpicky Dick out there who doesn’t like metal shavings in his whole wheat.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Beach Baby

I spent some time at the beach last week. It was a very nice beach, with lots of sand and water and colorful sailboats. It was very sunny and there were lots of pretty umbrellas to keep the sun from frying the crap out of all the nice people who were on the beach. Hundreds of people, there were. The place was crawling with them. Oh, how I looked forward to taking nice pictures of all the nice people and things I saw at the nice beach. So, what do I do instead?


Well, it's a good thing I took all those photos when I was in Manhattan last winter, or folks might begin to think I'm some sort of recluse with a mental problem.

What's that you say? There are no people in any of those photos either?