End of the evening

I apologize to my brother for my faulty recollection that he’d seen clips from “The Sketch Show” when in fact he’d read a review of it.

I also realized tonight that the month-by-month archives pages weren’t working correctly, in part because I needed to delete some temporary files created when I imported my Blogger posts. No one has commented on this, but if anyone was inconvenienced please know that they’re working correctly now.

Sketch comedy

Best of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-InI had a conversation with my brother the other day about Kelsey Grammer Presents The Sketch Show, which premiered tonight on Fox. My brother had seen some clips and thought the show seemed a little too tame, not as edgy as one would expect from the sketch comedy format.

I can see what he means, but I think I like it anyway. The show has a rapid-fire pacing that reminds me (if you can believe it) of “Laugh-In,” and I think that works to its advantage. I love “Saturday Night Live,” but even the show’s supporters have to admit that some sketches go on too long. Not every gag in “The Sketch Show” works, but the pace is so fast that if you don’t like one sketch, another one is right around the corner.

The little musical stingers that separate the sketches even sound like something out of “Laugh-In.”

I also didn’t realize some of the people who were involved. Grammer, as you might expect from the title, is executive producer. He makes occasional appearances, but he’s not really part of the main ensemble. One of the other executive producers is Dan Patterson, who produced both the British and U.S. versions of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” The ensemble cast includes Mary Lynn Rajskub, whom you might remember from “The Larry Sanders Show,” and Paul F. Tompkins, who is one of my favorite parts of “Best Week Ever” on VH1.

Importing comments

I complained earlier about not being able to import the comments back when I imported my posts from the old Blogger site into WordPress. If you check the comments for that post, you’ll find that helpful WordPress user Andy Skelton has created a workaround. But it’s too late for me to use, because I’ve already shut down the Blogger site.

Anyway, those of you who are still thinking about moving from Blogger to WordPress might want to bookmark the link for future reference.

Accidental soup?

We had men’s club breakfast at church this morning — I cut my finger while chopping an onion that was slightly slimy from having been stored in the refrigerator. So I skipped lunch, except for a handful of cashews.

For supper tonight, I got creative.

I opened a can of whole tomatoes and put them in a pyrex baking dish. I added some dried herbs, a few cloves of garlic, minced, and a little dribble of red wine vinegar. I crushed the tomatoes slightly and rested some chicken thighs on top. I drizzled a little olive oil over the top (actually, I added the olive oil later, but I meant to add it at the beginning).

I baked this at 350 degrees until the chicken was done. I removed the chicken and put a stick blender to the tomatoes. The resulting sauce was a little runnier than I’d thought — If I’d wanted to go to the trouble, I suppose I could have put it in a saucepan and reduced it. Anyway, while my fettucini was cooking I kept standing over the stove eating the sauce out of the baking dish, as if it were soup. It was delicious — but by the time the noodles were done, I’d had my fill. I think I’m going to save the rest of it and eat it as soup one day at work this week!

Cooking with Amy

Earlier this week, the Tennessean did a feature in which a food writer ate for a week by cooking a variety of recipes which she found on food-related blogs. I found out about the feature from one of those blogs, Cooking with Amy, which I happened to stumble across.

I didn’t realize that food and recipe blogs were that much of a phenomenon, but it makes perfect sense.

Rationale for blogging

I realize I link to Mission Safari a lot, but there’s so much there worth linking to. In this case, Tim explains his reasons for blogging.

I especially like what he has to say about transparency. I, too, think it’s important to convey both the ups and downs of mission work (in my case, short-term mission work — I hardly want to compare what I do to what Tim does). People need to understand that mission work is not for “super-Christians” but for regular people living under grace. God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called.

The food spectator

Even during my week of down time last week, when I wasn’t posting to the blog because I was in the process of trying to get it moved, I got a blog comment — from someone who doesn’t like Jack Hourigan. (“Jack,” by the way, is female.)

I’m amazed, but I continue to get blog comments on a few months-old posts I made about the Food Network television show “How To Boil Water.” I’m not sure why — perhaps someone linked to one of those old posts on a fan site or something.

Anyway, my previous posts talked about changes in the casting of the show — first it was hosted by Lynne Koplitz and Frederic von Coppernolle, then Hourigan and von Coppernolle, and now Hourigan and Tyler Florence.

After some initial misgivings, I’ve come to enjoy Hourigan and Florence — but I’m a little mystified by a subtle change in the format that I’ve noticed in the past few weeks. As the title suggests, “How To Boil Water” is supposed to be aimed at beginning cooks. The title dates back to the early days of Food Network, when it was a traditional single-host cooking show. It went off the air for a while, and then the current two-host format was introduced: a chef (von Coppernolle or Florence) teaching a cooking novice (Koplitz or Hourigan, both of them standup comedians).

The last few episodes, however, have eliminated the actual physical interaction between the hosts. Hourigan no longer gets to cook herself, under Florence’s direction; now she just sits at the counter and watches, asking the occasional question, as Florence does everything himself. This seems to defeat the purpose of the two-host format.

Food Network once had another two-host cooking show in which the co-host never cooked: “Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay,” where Jacqui Malouf peppered Flay with questions about what he was cooking and why. But Malouf was a little more assertive than Hourigan — in fact, one of her primary functions was that she punctured Flay’s pomposity just a little bit. (By contrast, I haven’t enjoyed any of the solo work Flay has done since “Hot Off the Grill.” Check out this vulgar but dead-on assessment of Flay’s on-air personality.)

I’m not sure why Hourigan has been banished from the cutting board on “How To Boil Water,” and I hope it’s not the first step back towards a single-host format.

Created with me in mind

I got two AOL free trial CDs in the mail today. Of course, getting an AOL CD in the mail is about as rare and noteworthy as Larry King getting married, but this time there was a new twist.

One of the AOL CDs was the regular, garden-variety offer. The other was for “AOL Black Voices … An AOL created with you in mind.”

Really? Created with me in mind? I haven’t looked in a mirror in the past few hours, but when I shaved this morning I don’t recall being black.

I think that if I were black, I would consider “AOL Black Voices” a little condescending as a marketing plan. The Internet is the Internet, and it’s huge. Yes, there are certainly internet resources that might relate to the black experience, or race relations, or other concerns faced by black Americans. But those resources are easily accessible to anyone, of any race, no matter which ISP they are using.

One of these days, I’m going to try to compose a haiku composed entirely of the passwords they give you with AOL trial CDs. You know the ones — the password is composed of two surreallistically-unrelated words, connected by a hyphen, like LILAC-GAVEL or NYLON-RESIST.

Of course, the real scandal to these AOL trial-offer disks is the free offer itself — 1175 free hours of service. The trick is, you have to use the 1175 free hours over the next 50 days. Let’s do the math; that would require you to be online 23 hours a day. So the offer of 1175 free hours is just misleading and absurd, since no one is going to get anywhere close to using that number of hours in a 50-day period. They should simply say “50 free days,” or “two free months,” or something like that. I’m really surprised they haven’t gotten into legal trouble for this.