July 15, 2005
Grilling guru Steven Raichlen (above), author of 26 books including "The Barbecue Bible," is the chancellor.
He's also the entire faculty.
Not just anyone can attend: admissions requirements are strict.
But they're very simple and straightforward: only one document is necessary.
That would be a check for $2,300 ($3,100 for a couple).
Classes are held at the BBQ U campus on the grounds of the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
40 students attended his most recent session, which like every other session offered this year was sold out with a waiting list.
Sounds just like college, doesn't it?
The Food Network rates Raichlin's course "The Best BBQ Experience in the United States."
It's part cooking school, part vacation.
Vicki Smith wrote about the school in yesterday's Associated Press story.
Here's a link to the school's website, where you can get more info and sign up if you're the optimistic sort who believes that getting on a waiting list is the equivalent of the camel's nose under the tent.
No–Stick Silicone Rolling Mat
"No sticking, no tearing... no mess!"
We're talking about baking, booboo.
Get your head in the "kitchen space," as legendary producer Bruce Dickinson might say.
Explore the kitchen space with me.
The silicone rolling mat lets you roll your dough to size without a ruler and without making a mess of your counter.
Wait — there's more.
"Excellent not just for pie crust but also for bread dough, pizza, etc."
Includes markings for pies from 4" to 14" in diameter.
Measures 18.5" x 24.5".
Also features measurements along all 4 edges of the mat for rolling rectangles.
Can your rolling mat do that?
Didn't think so.
"Silicone is naturally non–stick so dough won't stick to the lightly–floured mat."
Chuck Berry brings down the house
The 78–year–old legend played a little rock 'n roll music at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Germany recently and knocked 'em dead.
Here's what I love about Chuck Berry: he's the opposite of synthetic, lip–synching and all the bogus garbola that live music embodies all too often these days.
For example: two of the three musicians on stage with Berry were local hires.
You gotta be plenty confident about yourself to wing it like that.
Richard Milne, reviewing the show in this past Tuesday's Financial Times wrote, "As he approaches his ninth decade, Berry can show many far younger performers that, as long as you have that touch, you can still put on a concert as free and fun as any."
Here's Milne's story.
- Chuck Berry
This joyous curio of a concert started with a trick so simple it was brilliant.
On traipsed Chuck Berry's backing group and struck up the first song complete with guitar.
But where was Chuck?
Suddenly the realisation dawned - the 78-year-old rocker was playing from the wings before making a triumphant entry.
Dressed in bright red trousers, a patterned shirt over a white t-shirt and topped with a white navy cap, Berry cut a sprightly if rather eccentric figure.
His shows in the past decade or more have been characterised by their erratic nature but from the off here he played a sumptuous set highlighting his claim to be a rock 'n' roll legend.
His own guitar playing - as simple and sparse as ever - was all about feel.
Others can play better and fancier but for his own brand of songs such as "Johnny B. Goode" and "Sweet Little Rock and Roller" his rhythmic playing was perfect.
At times he muddied the sound, at others he picked out a melody with just his left hand, but throughout he showed that his good ear and touch had not deserted him.
The audience's initial smile remained in place as Berry improvised both the setlist and the songs.
A thirtysomething, pony-tailed man spent much of the gig dancing in the aisles playing air guitar.
As befits a man never too keen on the idea of a band, two of the three musicians on stage were local hires.
The best of the lot was a spectacular but showy pianist who took his undoubted talent and ran with it a little too far at times, even jumping on top of the piano to salute the audience after one wonderful solo.
"It doesn't have to be loud. It's the feeling," Berry said, chastising him.
As he approaches his ninth decade, Berry can show many far younger performers that, as long as you have that touch, you can still put on a concert as free and as fun as any.
Its full name is the G2™ LED Hat but I think mine will help them sell a whole lot more.
"Perfect for the outdoor sportsman."
Seems somewhat redundant, what?
I mean, aren't all sportsman the outdoor type?
Don't go there.
"Think of all the times you needed a light — and both hands."
Again — no.
"With the revolutionary G2™ LED Hat from Head–Light, you'll see better with ultra–bright white LED lighting."
"Turns on/off with the push of a fingertip and can be seen up to a mile away!"
Tell you what: if some crazy person with a rifle happens to sight in on your light you'll wish you'd decided to walk home in the dark.
"Premium cotton twill cap is a low–profile, 6–panel hat that's stylish and comfortable."
Perfect with your new Dior boots.
In black or khaki.
Choral Director Tracy Straight — Was it a firing offense?
Waynesboro (Virginia) High School School Choir Director Tracy Straight (above) may be about to walk the plank for what might or might not have happened on a school field trip to New York this past April.
Allegations have been made that Ms. Straight drank alcohol and let herself be photographed with shirtless male Waynesboro High Concert Choir members.
An open hearing before a fact–finding panel was held on July 5 in the library at Berkeley Glenn Elementary School in Waynesboro.
At the hearing Ms. Straight noted that she had two drinks while on the trip, once during dinner and once after bed checks.
Both times were out of the sight of any students, she said.
She noted there was no policy prohibiting such behavior by chaperones.
Waynesboro school superintendent Lowell Lemons noted that Straight also appeared in "questionable" photos, in one of which she is surrounded by shirtless boys one of whom appears to be licking the side of her face.
Straight told the board she believes she was "set up" by a student whom she had dismissed from the choir the year before.
As always, it's pictures on the internet that lie at the heart of things.
In this case there were six photos posted online, of Ms. Straight and four senior boys.
I remember from a few years ago, during some other brouhaha about photos posted on the web, someone's comment that "eventually everyone's nude on the internet." But I digress.
The Waynesboro News–Leader's editorial board weighed in on Ms. Straight's behalf last week with a thunderous denunciation of the kangaroo court–like proceedings being conducted to determine her fate.
The panel that heard the case must submit a recommendation to the Waynesboro school board by August 5 on whether Ms. Straight should be fired.
The final say rests with the board.
Silicone Condiment Spatula
"No more mustard on your sleeve."
Each 10"–long silicone scoop is designed to pass through narrow–necked condiment bottles.
"Retrieve every last bit from jars of various shapes and sizes."
Flexible non–stick silicone spatula head attaches to an 18/10 stainless steel handle.
"In vibrant contemporary colors corresponding to mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise and relish."
Because "silicone is the future for cooking utensils."
$11 for the set of four here.
World's Largest Twine Ball
It resides in Darwin, Minnesota, birthplace of Charles Darwin.
In an alternate universe the Darwin Awards for the year's best accomplishment in twine are held in Darwin with a world–wide TV audience looking on.
But that's there and we're here.
In our strange excuse for a universe one Francis A. Johnson began to wrap twine in a ball in March of 1950.
He kept at it, four hours a day, seven days a week, for 39 years.
He lifted it with a crane to continue proper wrapping.
Eventually the ball was moved to a circular open air shed on his front lawn (below).
Johnson died in 1989 and the city of Darwin moved the giant ball of twine into a special lot created for that express purpose across from the park.
In its final incarnation the ball was 12 feet in diameter and weighed 17,400 pounds (8.7 tons).
They built a gazebo (top) that allows viewing from all sides through Plexiglas panels — hey, you never know when one of those "kill the Mona Lisa" types will show up in a place like Darwin — but "you have to crouch close to a vent for a good whiff."
Darwin holds an annual "Twine Ball Days" festival on the second Saturday in August, so start making your plans for a once–in–a–lifetime experience in friendly Darwin.
But wait — there's more.
One Frank Stoeber of Cawker City, Kansas saw Johnson's twine ball as a challenge and decided to create a bigger one.
He eventually had over 1.6 million feet of twine rolled into a sphere 11 feet in diameter, only a foot shy of the Darwin champion — and then Frank Stoeber died.
Residents of Cawker City have continued to add to the ball started by Stoeber, such that it is now larger than the ball in Darwin.
However, it's not looking very svelte anymore (below).
So that would seem to wrap up the subject, but no: there's one more contender.
In Branson, Missouri, at the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum, sits a multicolored ball of string measuring 13.2 feet high.
It was completed in 1992 by J.C. Payne, a rancher.
Officials in Darwin maintain that Payne's ball, like the one in Cawker City, is the result of a group effort and therefore not the work of one man, like theirs.
Meanwhile, Cawker City twine scholars note the Branson ball uses "plastic string" and is therefore not a real twine ball.
Dior Embroidered Leather Boots
Nice look for summer.
"Colorful floral and butterfly embroidery bring a sweet touch to leather design."
• Metal "C" charm and stud accents
• Side zip closure
• Round–toe style
• 4" acrylic heel
• Leather lining; rubber sole
• Made in Italy