Sunday, March 28, 2010


A few years ago, my father in law gave me a second hand electric smoker. It worked well enough, but had a limited amount of space and struggled in less than ideal conditions. A while later a co-worker loaned me his grandfather's smoker. It was big, ugly, heavy and filthy.

I played with for a few weeks and actually joined a competition with another friend. Needless to say, the first time we competed, it was a total disaster. It's a miracle no one caught on fire or got SERIOUS food poisoning.

Fast forward a few years. The borrowed smoker is now for sale. The guy I competed with ended up buying it. He tinkered with it quite a bit and became quite familiar with it's quirks and intricacies. So much so, that we made our triumphant return to the same BBQ competition we had previously failed at. With a lot of practice and a little luck, we did quite well. 1st place ribs, 3rd place pulled pork and third place brisket. Dead last in chicken. Admittedly, it was a VERY small event, but it felt good to win.

We now have an informal team, with a plan of participating in 3-5 cook-offs this summer. We also decided we might need a second cooker. Most of the stuff on Craigslist was overpriced junk or expensive high end gear. Then, one night on the web, I found the answer! A makeshift smoker made from an old 55 gallon drum. Thus was born, my version of The Ugly Drum Smoker.

Start w/ a 55 gallon drum, some screws and grill grates. A few holes here and there and you are close to being in business. The final step is the smoker basket. You will need something to hold the hot coals (the don't sit on the bottom of the drum). If you are pressed for time or not technically savvy, you might need to employ the help of a welder.

Up next, a high heat burn and then some seasoning. After that, you are ready to cook! I've done 2 cooks so far. The first was a bust, but the second time around was much better.

The whole concept is so simple, that all I could do was shake my head and laugh when it actually worked. You can literally set this thing up to run for as much as 10-12 hours and NEVER have to touch it. Unbelievable! It's ideal for larger cuts of meat. It's a brisket and pork butt machine! Ribs are good on it, but not great. I think it has to do with the direct (albeit very low) heat. Up next, my nemesis... chicken.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm done with the Kansas City Royals for the season. The last month or so has been pretty brutal, but the last straw was the home field bombing courtesy the St Louis Cardinals. The team stinks. I don't blame the players. For the most part, they seem to be busting their asses. But they are just out gunned. I'm no fan of Trey Hillman, but again, he's just playing with the hand he was dealt. Dayton Moore? Making chicken salad with a chicken shit payroll. Yep... this miserable season rests solely at the feet of David Glass.

Mr. Glass has dug this team in to such a deep hole since the day that he came to town, that Joe Torre, Sparky Anderson and Jesus Christ couldn't save this sinking ship. Granted, the team was a mess when he took over. But what changed on his first day? Nothing. He handcuffed Allard Baird by not letting him bring in free agents that were in their prime. There was no talent developing in the minor leagues because players were drafted on "signability" and not on ability.

Is this really any surprise? Someone who made their money with the "buy cheap and sell cheaper" mentality learned at Wal Mart can't be expected to change their spots. Squeeze every nickle out of what's on the floor (or field in this case) and when the well drys up, talk about relocating.

If you think about it, buying the team was a brilliant move. Buy it at a rock bottom price, ride out the storm for a few years and then put your hand out asking for a (new or) renovated stadium in exchange for an extended lease. Once the stadium is spiffed up, the value of the team increases.

What Mr. Glass fails to realize, is that people have an emotional attachment to their sports team. Might sound silly, but it's true. How else do you explain the tax payer funded renovations at the Sports Complex? Both teams stink, but there's always next year. You can always catch lightning in a bottle for "one magical season" and then all will be right with the world.

I'm old enough to have vivid memories of the 1985 World Series, but not quite old enough to fully appreciate the Glory Days that lead up to 1985. However, I am old enough to rattle of a list of talented players that were either traded away or allowed to leave via free agency because ownership was too cheap to resign them. For the record, not all of these happened on Mr. Glass's watch, but just proves he's been nothing but a keeper of the status quo. How many World Series rings are there between David Cone, Johnny Damon and Jermain Dye alone?

It's sad to hear people talk about how great the organization used to be and how Kansas City used to be a great baseball town. Often times, people chalk it up to KC being a "small market" town. That hasn't stopped the Minnesota Twins from competing every year.

You can spruce up the stadium all you want, but putting a lousy team on the field is like putting a fresh coat of paint on a Wal Mart. It might look nice from a distance, but once you go inside, it still smells like a used diaper.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where you been?

Work has been super busy and by the time that mellowed out, it was time for finals. So, here are some bitchy rants that I have been saving up for a while. In no particular order:
  • The 11th Annual Waldo Brookside Pub Crawl is this Saturday the 23rd. Noon at the Corner Cocktails at 85th and Wornall and then north down Wornall until we make it to Charlie Hoopers. Check out this post from last year for more details.
  • When did Pandora get rid of the miniplayer? Sounds insignificant, but it was nice to have a small window in the corner of my desktop while I was doing other important computer stuff. I also heard that they have been running commercials on Pandora. Unable to confirm, but not really a big shocker. Only a matter of time.
  • Is Playboy still relevant? I say "no". The fact that skin is so easily available online is only the tip of the iceberg. As the trust funds begin to dry up, so does the market for Ducati street bikes, designer vodka and $200 designer t-shirts. All of which appear to be a staple of the lifestyle sections. The World of Playboy is even more painful... the pages are filled with celebs that would kill to be on the B List (Mario Lopez, Brigette Nielson, Andy Dick), pics of Hef w/ his latest set of f#ck dolls and the Wrecking Crews of days long since passed (James Caan, Warren Moon and other assorted washed up pro athletes looking to score a hummer from Miss July). What's the point?? About the only interesting read these days are some of the political commentaries. Obviously, they tend to pretty liberal, but with Bush & Co. out of office, it's going after more social issues, than political parties. Legalization of pot, free condoms in highschools and the type of anti-religion rhetoric that usually comes from Bill Maher (although I tend to agree with him a lot, he's still kind of smarmy). Having said all of that, I just don't see what Playboy has to offer any more.
  • When I finished high school, I was lucky enough that my folks could afford to send me to college. The agreement with me an my older brothers was that they would pay for the first 4 years, the rest was on us. I ended up at KU my freshman year and quickly realized I wasn't mature enough for such a big change. As a result, I didn't last long. I farted around here and there for a few years, before finally just getting an entry level job with a local company. Fast forward to today... I've decided to go back to school and start the reclamation process on my spotty academic career. I've been totally stunned by the total lack of respect the students have for the teachers. I had one class that was supposed to run for an hour and 15 minutes. Most days we only went 40-45 minutes. In my younger days, I would be checking out the Pitch to see who was having early happy hours or cheap pitchers. But at the ripe old age of 36, I feel like I am getting ripped off (or at least my employer is since they are paying for the class) when we don't eve go a full hour. My summer class will be online. This should be interesting.
  • The Boulevard Brewery needs to update the hours of operation on the sign outside the gift shop/tasting room (on the old side of the brewery). I've decided to try to embrace beer snobbery and get a few of those tulip shaped beer glasses. Stopped by @ 11:40 today and the place was locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Kind of irritating. I've worked across the street from the brewery for the last 7 years. Just seems silly to not be able to accommodate someone trying to give you money during normal business hours. For the record, they are out of the glasses on the website and will be replacing them with a different design. Crap.
  • We had some repair work done on our house. The big hole in the bathroom wall has finally been covered up. It looks OK from a distance, but I don't think we will be letting anyone use that bathroom unless it's a life or death situation. We had it ballparked as a 3 day project. Took me 3 weeks. Not too shabby...
  • I'm in the process of changing doctors. Didn't care for my last one, so ended up at Pro Partners MD. So far, so good. I'm carrying around a few extra pounds and have pretty terrible eating habits... so I am pretty sure the new doctor was totally stunned when all of my blood work came back completely normal.
  • When you have worked at the same company for 12 years, the vacation time really ads up. So I have been trying to squeeze in as much (bad) golf as possible. Played Heritage Park and Meadowbrook country club for the first time. Heritage was nice, but I was floored by Meadowbrook. Wasn't sure what to expect, but the course was fantastic. The clubhouse was a little dated, but if I had a wad of cash to blow on a country club, that might be a candidate.
  • Speaking of golf. It's official. The $100 gift certificate to Deer Creek that has been sitting on my desk for 6 years, is no longer valid. It appears they have changed ownership at least once, and are no longer honoring older gift certs. OK by me. Last I heard, their greens were still shit.
  • Got my Green Day tickets. Pretty sure the better half and I will be the oldest people there that aren't with their kids. Lucked in to a ticket to AC/DC earlier this year. That will be 2 arena shows in 2009. That's one more arena show that the last 15 years combined.
  • Gun by Uncle Tupelo could be one of the coolest songs I've ever heard. Too bad they broke up in 1994. One of my older brothers was a big fan. I must have been too angst ridden to notice.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Little help for the mutts?

I received this email from one of the directors of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. If you are an animal lover (and subscriber to the KC Star), I would encourage you to read on.

The Kansas City Star let us know they have discontinued the Pet of the Week segment that normally ran in the Wednesday FYI issue. (They would feature a homeless dog and a cat for free.) This is very disappointing news for the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. We had an 80% adoption rate from this exposure and often used it for “hard-to-place” shelter pets. If you are willing to write a letter to the president/publisher and the editor/vice-president (listed below) to urge them to reconsider their decision and start featuring shelter pets in the Wednesday FYI segment again – that would be greatly appreciated.

This feature has changed the lives of Star readers that have adopted the pets, saved the lives of the shelter pets and promoted general goodwill for animal-loving Star readers.

Send your letters or emails to:
Mark Zieman, President and Publisher:
Mike Fannin, Editor and Vice President:
Kansas City Star: 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Small balls

I made my annual visit to the NAIA Men's Basketball Tournament. I remember going down to Kemper Arena w/ my dad when ever his Alma Mater (Fort Hays State) would play. The NAIA moved out of town in 1993, only to return a few years later in 2001. Since the return, we have managed to make it to at least one session every year.

Monday night was the Final Four. Rocky Mountain (Montana) vs. Robert Morris (Illinois). It was a fun game that went down to the wire, before Rocky Mountain pulled out a 5 point win. There was a quiet buzz during the game, as fans were settling in for the second game. Columbia College vs. MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kansas). Municipal Auditorium was a sea of red, as fans came out in droves to support the local team.

It was kind of exciting, because there is rarely much energy in the crowd for these games, other than family members that make the sometimes long trip to KC. The other folks that make up the crowd are local basketball junkies. An interesting breed to say the least.

But tonight was different. At least it was until 3 seconds after the opening tip off. MidAmerica Nazarene University Super Fan Asshole #1 was seated directly behind me and proceeded to scream for the next 90 minutes. If I had to guess, the guy was in his late 40's or early 50's. It's possible he had a kid on the team, but judging from how quickly he bolted as soon as the clock hit :00, I doubt it. The clown spent the entire game screaming at the refs and harassing the opposing teams players. On more than a few occasions, his wife had to tell him to calm down.

I remember in high school there were a few dads like that. The funny thing is, we all felt sorry for the kid. You know the kid was embarrassed as Hell when he could hear his old man screaming that Johnny should be in the game or the refs were blind. Obviously, the guy had issues starting with his own athletic inabilities and ending with a small dick. If he was such a blowhard at a JV basketball game, imagine what he was like when Johnny brought home a report card full of C's? I bet there was a belt or a whiskey bottle involved.

I have one rule when I go to the NAIA every year... cheer for, but never against. This isn't Big Time College Basketball. No flat screens in the locker rooms and no chartered flights. Most of the teams probably spent 10 hours on a bus , driving in from god knows where to play in this tourney. To make it deep in to the tourney, you have to win 4 or 5 games in as many days. So I imagine they are all banged up, tired and frankly a little bored with the bright lights of Kansas City. The least we as fans can do, is cheer them on.

I'm sorry to report, that once I had a handle on what MidAmerica Nazarene University Super Fan Asshole #1 was going to be like, I cheered for the visitors from Columbia MO (no easy task as a KU guy).

Every time MidAmerica Nazarene University Super Fan Asshole #1 thought a foul went against his team and he asked me what I thought, I made sure to let him know I thought it was a good call. It's like the guy was simply daring me to point out what a douche bag he was.

As for the game itself, it was pretty close. Seemed as though every time a team made a run, the other team made it up and took the lead. Back and forth all night. Finally, Columbia College grabbed the lead and held on despite some last minute heroics from MNU. Fun game and a great ending. Hate to admit it, but the fact that MidAmerica Nazarene University Super Fan Asshole #1's team lost, made it just a little bit better.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I think I am pretty much done w/ Lew's Bar and Grill in Waldo. I've been there twice in the last week, and both times the service has been lousy. I guess sitting at a table and holding a menu must be some sort of code for "do not acknowledge presence". I counted that our waitress walked by our table 13 times, while there were empty glasses sitting on our table. Wasn't just the waitress either. The day manager was equally guilty. I guess an empty glass isn't as effective as a flare bun. I think most folks would let it slide if a bar were busy, but the place was half empty. I can't believe I gave that broad a tip. Too bad, it's a fun place to watch a game. It's also one of the stops on the annual Waldo/Brookside Pubcrawl... going forward, looks like I'll be visiting Lew's annually from now on.