Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Table 301 Wine Sale and the Greenville Wine Meetup: A Confluence of Wonderful Wines and Good People

Once upon a time I attended all sorts of wine tastings.

A number of wine sellers in South Florida would sporadically host tastings throughout the year.

Throwing consistently the best tastings -- and I was in a position to know -- was a small, privately owned liquor store in Delray Beach called The Good Life. Its once-a-month tastings were legendary among wine lovers in the area.

Unfortunately, the owner grew tired of the world of retail and sold the store. She continued hosting tastings at her home on a less grand scale, but still supported by the wine distributors with which she had developed relationships.

I have never found anything that came close to The Good Life tastings.

Until last night...

I am a member of the Greenville Wine Meetup, but don't get to attend very many of its numerous events because of my travel schedule.

Last night I was lucky enough to be around for the annual Table 301 Wine Sale that is done in conjunction with the Wine Meetup.

Held at Devereaux's just off of Main Street in Greenville, the Table 301 Wine Sale was a tasting of 90 or so wines and beers, which were all available for purchase at discounted prices.

I was both surprised by the caliber of the wines offered and their remarkably discounted prices.

Probably half the selections were $50 or less -- some in the $10 and $12 range -- and the other half were over $50. I could have spent the evening at the tasting table featuring Silver Oak, as well as the Kenwood Jack London Zinfandel and Jack London Cab.

I felt like Oliver Twist as I held out my empty glass in shaking hands and begged, "Please, sir. I want some more."

For those in a buying mood, the wines were offered at discounts of 15 to 20 percent from the low prices found at, say, Total Wine. Not bad.

Getting in the door only cost about 12 bucks.

I was more than impressed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tomato, Tomahto: Fruit, Vegetable? I Don't Know....

I did something this week that I don't believe I've ever done before: I bought a tomato. Not just one tomato, mind you, but four of them!

That I had never bought a tomato shouldn't be a revelation to anyone who knows me. That I finally did, no doubt, is a major surprise to those same people.

I know it's odd, but I don't like tomatoes. It's not odd that I don't like them, but that I like stuff with tomatoes in it like ketchup, tomato soup and, of course, red sauce for pasta and pizza, yet don't like tomatoes is odd .

I like eating tomatoes when I don't have to look them in the eye. If they are crushed, mushed or pureed, I'm down with them.

But I don't eat them sliced, cubed, boiled or fried.

I have a good friend who would rather eat a fried green tomato than almost anything else, but he has yet to drag me to the dark side. If I were going to eat a tomato in some form where it still looks like a tomato, fried and green would probably be the way I'd do it. Maybe that will be my New Year's resolution.

So what prompted my tomato-buying spree? I did buy four of them after all. Once a month or so, I make a batch of red meat sauce for spaghetti. I make enough that I can freeze four or so containers that each has enough for one meal.

For more than 30 years I have been using canned crushed tomatoes in the recipe. My Italian friends are probably rolling their eyes as they read this, but hey, I'm a Swede from the South; what the hell do I know about Italian?

Recently someone gave me a small food processor. I decided to give making the recipe with fresh crushed tomatoes a shot. I usually also use processed garlic. I bought fresh this time around. I always use fresh onion, but chopping it up in the processor is a whole lot quicker and less painless than chopping it by hand.

The end result was indeed a better sauce. It was a bit more expensive to make, but the improvement in flavor was worth the extra investment.

That was this week's adventure in cooking and vegetable shopping. Are tomatoes vegetables or is it one of those things you think is a vegetable, but is really a fruit or mineral or whatever?

It hurts my head to think about all of this.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ford's Oyster House in Greenville: Another Lesson in Never Letting Your Dumbest Employee Answer the Phone

It's Black Friday!

I couldn't care less, but it seems to be a big deal to some folks. I know people who headed out at midnight last night just to get into the spirit of the season. If I need help getting into the spirit, I'll watch "It's a Wonderful Life" thank-you very much.

Getting mob-rushed by a herd of crazed bargain hunters at 1 AM isn't my idea of getting into the spirit.

But here's the real topic at hand today....

Yesterday was a disaster. Without question, it was the most miserable Thanksgiving I've ever spent -- and I've been around for a bunch of them.

Here's the crux of the problem: There are regions of the country where you can go out for Thanksgiving dinner and regions where you can't. Although there were restaurants in Greenville offering some sort of Thanksgiving buffet, basically the city is shut down for the day.

Greenville is a Thanksgiving-at-home sort of city.

We could have gone to one of a handful of restaurants between, say, 11 AM and 3 PM and had a very decent dinner. Cost at these places averaged just under $30 -- a little pricey for turkey and stuffing even if it was "all you can eat."

The cost was a moot point, though, because some of our group decided 3 PM was too early a cut off. They wanted to play golf in the morning.

So far our criteria included a dinner price somewhere south of $25 and a late-afternoon-early-evening timetable.

One of the key players in our little band of four holiday orphans decided another key criteria for choosing a Thanksgiving dinner venue was the ability to watch football. This, of course, required a bank of TV screens spread across whatever restaurant we chose, further limiting our options.

Okay, so dinner had to cost less than $25, be available after 4 PM and be in a place with a lot of TV screens.

All four of us are from South Florida. In South Florida, nearly every joint is open every day come rain, shine, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Thanksgiving turkey. I remember having Christmas-day brunch with a bunch of friends in South Florida the only Christmas I didn't go to my sister's for the holidays. That's Christmas brunch at a restaurant!

Finding a location for Thanksgiving dinner in South Florida, regardless of the number of qualifiers invoked, would be as easy as getting into your car and stopping at the first restaurant you see.

We recognize Greenville is different -- and believe me, most of the time I praise that difference -- but we had no idea how different. Three years ago we ate Thanksgiving dinner out in Greenville and had a great dinner at a wonderful restaurant. Sadly, it is no longer in business. Little did we know what a rare bird Thanksgiving turkey is in Greenville.

Compounding our situation was our pre-Thanksgiving search for a dinner spot was cut prematurely short when some idiot at Ford's Oyster House told our researcher that they would be open and serving a Thanksgiving buffet beginning at 4 PM. Come on down; no reservation is necessary!

I wasn't thrilled with the idea of a Cajun Thanksgiving, but was willing to give it a shot.

However, when we attempted to go at 4 PM, we were turned away. Yes, they were serving a Thanksgiving buffet between 4 and 6 PM, but it was for a private function. Ford's would open to the public at 6, but the kitchen would be closed.

I halfway expected the manager, or whomever it was we spoke to, to spread his arms and say with a big smile, "Hey, face it, you screwed up; you trusted us."

As with many businesses, evidently Ford's Oyster House leaves answering the phone to the newest and least knowledgeable employee. In any event, we were screwed.

The BBQ joint Sticky Fingers was open, but when we attempted to enter there, we were told only people with reservations could be seated. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the place was empty -- completely and totally empty. Zero, zip, zilch people were in the place. It was scheduled to be open for another 45 minutes and we couldn't even get a beer at the totally empty bar.

A couple of other places downtown were scheduled to open at 6 PM. We hung around downtown waiting for the magic hour. Finally, we were granted admittance to Wild Wing only to learn that it was only serving from its late-night bar menu.

My Thanksgiving dinner, that I cooled my heels on the streets of Greenville for two hours for, consisted of fried chicken fingers, potato chips and beer.

Never again....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving With A Little Spice

I like Thanksgiving, but living a couple of thousand miles away from most of my family means I don't get too carried away with the turkey holiday.

In fact, I have Florida friends who are in town and we intend to go out for dinner and football. I'm not optimistic about the joint where we are going. I like the place, but I'm not sure about its suitability for Thanksgiving. It's a relatively new place downtown called Ford's Oyster House.

See what I mean about the "Thanksgiving" part of it? I'm not a seafood eater to begin with and this place specializes in Cajun. I lived in or around New Orleans for a year or so and never ate so much as a fish stick while I was there.

No, I'm not at all sure about this joint for Thanksgiving. I sure won't take the chance of going there hungry. I'll snack a little before going and if I have to, I'll just tough it out until I get back home to eat.

Not cooking holiday dinner at the Casa Heaps, I haven't had to waste a lot of time planning, food shopping, preparing stuff ahead of time or any other task associated with throwing a Thanksgiving dinner.

No, my time has been spent this week doing chores around the house. The temperature has been rather moderate and I've been taking advantage of that.

I've replaced the kitchen and guest-bathroom faucets, I've done the final raking and mulching of leaves, cleaned out the gutters, painted a bunch of the outside trim and even put up outside Christmas lights.

Busy, busy, busy....

Also not stressing over a big family dinner, I have my evening free tonight to attend the weekly meeting of the Peddler Wednesday-Night Irregulars. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night, nor the threat of Cajun turkeys can keep a serious Irregular from the Wednesday gathering.

On that note, have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Man Versus Faucet: A South Carolina Cage Match

It was a death-defying struggle of monumental proportions. I am speaking, of course, of my toe-to-toe South Carolina cage match with my kitchen faucet.

A few months ago my kitchen faucet stopped functioning properly. The only way I had sufficient water pressure to rinse some eggs off a plate was to use the spray gun; but even when the spray gun was off, the water only trickled out of the faucet as though the spray gun was on.

I've put up with this because, well, I'm lazy; that and I have dreams about redoing the kitchen and I just hate to spend money on something  that I might replace when I do a full-blown redo. That's the same reason why my front yard looks like West Texas during the 1930s dust bowl. I have grandiose plans for the front yard and I'm not going to seed or sod just to tear it all up in a couple of years if I have the money to do what I really want.

With a sudden influx of cash -- some clients actually do pay their invoices -- I decided this weekend was the weekend to replace the faucet.

I've been shopping faucets on the Internet, at Home Depot and Lowes for a month or two, but now I had to pull the trigger. I found a faucet I can live with at Home Depot. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the one I liked was out of stock at the Home Depot right up the street.

I decided to make a final run by Lowes and stopped at another Home Depot that was on the way. That Home Depot did have the faucet I wanted. Lowes didn't have anything more appealing. I went back to Home Depot and bought a new kitchen faucet, as well as a new faucet for my guest bathroom. My current guest bathroom faucet has a single lever setting temperature and volume. If it isn't put in exactly the perfect position, it drips.

With the low water costs in Greenville, the damn thing could have dripped for 20 years and not exceeded the cost of the replacement faucet. Bottom line: It was more annoying than anything else.

So there I was on a Saturday afternoon, ready to spring into faucet-replacement action. I removed all the cans of bug spray, spray oil, plant food and assorted other junk from under the sink. I pulled up the shelf paper and prepared to set to work.

I turned off the water to both sides of the faucet, got some channel locks and pliers, and crawled under the sink. Even with the water shut off, there was water everywhere. I crawled back out, located a couple of towels and went back in.

The old faucet disconnected easily enough, and, at first blush, it seemed the entire project was going to proceed without incident.

Here's the first law of home improvement projects: You never get away with just one trip to the home-improvement store.

When I attempted to reconnect the water lines to the new faucet, I hit a wall. The previous installation was a jerry-rigged affair and the cold water line wasn't long enough to quite reach and make a sealed connection. This wasn't entirely obvious at first. I hooked it up and turned on the water.

Lying under the sink was like being on the catwalk under Niagara Falls. I was drenched from the waist up.

I headed off to Home Depot for a longer hose. It was only a $7 fix, but cost me about 30 minutes. The new hose connected perfectly.

Two and a half hours after I pulled the first bottle from under the sink, I put the last bottle back under the sink.

I'm happy to have some water pressure again. It takes so little to make me happy.

Now, it's on to the guest bathroom.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Volvo V60 Hybrid: The Swedes Are Slighting Us

Volvo is busy readying a hybrid version of its sleek V60 wagon.

So what? you might ask. There are lots of hybrids out there, right?

Yes, there are, but the 2012 V60 will be one of the few charging its battery array with a plug-in system. The really big news, however, is the electric motor won't be teamed with a gasoline engine, but rather a diesel.

For those keeping score, a diesel-electric hybrid is an industry first.

Being developed within the same group as the all-electric C30, the V60 hybrid is said to travel up to 31 miles with just its battery-powered electric motor.

Recharging will take just over seven hours when using a regular 110 household outlet. As is typical with hybrid cars, the V60's braking system will also help charge the batteries.

So sophisticated is the recharging setup that it offers the driver the option of preheating or precooling the passenger compartment as the car is charging, requiring less pull on the batteries at start up.

By itself, the 2.4-liter five-cylinder diesel produces 215 horsepower and turns only the front wheels. Adding another 70 horsepower to the mix is the electric motor that powers the rear wheels alone.

If you need all-wheel drive, you just push a button to activate the wagon's electric 4-wheel drive. Then the electric motor and the diesel each do their share.

Another area where Volvo is showing us something in the V60 hybrid that we haven't seen before is its three-driving-mode system that lets the driver choose the different degrees of the diesel-electric mix. It is controlled by three buttons on the instrument panel.

In Pure, the car runs on its electric motor as much as possible, getting a little help every once in a while from the diesel. Hybrid is always the default setting when the car is started and it creates the optimum blend of electric and diesel interaction for the lowest environmental impact. Power delivers the maximum excitement drawing on both the electric motor and diesel. In Power mode, the V60 Hybrid will race from 0-to-60 in 6.9 seconds.

Volvo doesn't have much to say about pricing as yet, but its CEO and president Stefan Jacoby admits the hybrid will cost more than the gasoline-powered version, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Here's the thing: Volvo isn't bringing the V60 Hybrid to the U.S. Well it is, but not until 2013, and with a gasoline engine in place of the diesel.

I'm no fan of hybrids; I think anyone trying to operate on a budget is throwing money away on a hybrid. But if you are going to make one, diesel seems like the way to go.

The Swedes have let us down.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Little Steelers Chatter Because, Well, I've Got to Write Something

This is one of those days that I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere. There are one or two advantages to working out of your home. A big one is that when it's pouring rain, you can roll over in bed and pity all the folks slugging their way to a job somewhere as you doze off.

Being able to work in my underwear -- well, being able to work in my underwear without listening to a lot of screaming -- is another advantage.

In any event, I am sitting at my PC in my downstairs office -- fully clothed, thank-you very much -- thinking about all of the work I have yet to do before my traveling gets crazy beginning on the 30th. I got an assignment done and out today. One a day is about my limit. I could do more, but it might cost me my slacker status. Can't have that.

I have been distracted and haven't blogged in a few days, so I thought I best post something.

How about them Steelers?

Just when you think they are on the ropes, they go and elbow their way to the lead in the AFC North. Of course, Roethlisberger rebreaking the same thumb he broke in 2005 is less than good news. But then he didn't miss any games because of the injury in 2005 and the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl. So maybe it's a good thing?

Looks like Ward, Legursky and Farrior will be back in the lineup for the game against the Chiefs in two weeks.

I don't pay close enough attention to the minutia of the Steelers operation to have a clue what they paid for wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, but it was a bargain. A tip of the helmet to the Jets for releasing him.

It will be a little dull this Sunday without a Steelers' game to watch. Maybe I'll try to catch the Ravens-Bengals game.

One of them has to lose, right?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Somebody Give That Boy a Swift Kick in the Old Kiester!

I am slugging it out trying to get my plate cleared before I am covered up with travel in December.

I'm not complaining, mind you; it's a nice change of pace to have assignments stacked up. I currently have six major pieces to write in addition to the weekly car reviews and twice-a-week blogs I have as a regular part of my schedule.

I don't want to have to fret over any of this stuff as I am jetting around next month. I am going to Las Vegas, Austin, South FL -- twice and New Mexico.

When I'm on the road, I have to compose all my prose on a teeny-weeny, itty-bitty netbook. I don't mind that the keyboard and monitor are a little small, but the silly thing is slower than Mike Tyson doing long division.

It's fine for knocking out a blog or two -- even the ones I get paid for -- but just doesn't work well for longer, more involved projects.

So I am pushing myself to get the longer assignments out of the way.

You couldn't tell I'm under any real pressure by the level of my output the past couple of days. Other than cranking out a blog for and doing a little research on a gift guide I'm doing for the Journal Register Group, I've done next to nothing constructive.

I have no excuse. I just didn't feel like doing much, so I didn't.

I'm even blowing off the weekend to visit friends in North Carolina.

Is motivation an issue? Well, yeah.

I recognize my problem and will address it at happy hour later today.

There's nothing like a couple of hours with my elbows on the bar at Soby's to get my head straight.

It works every time!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We Dodged the 15-Cent Christmas Tree Tax

Do you know what the average cost is for a pack of cigarettes in New York?

Ready? $9.11.

Do you know how much of that total is state taxes?


Why are the taxes so much? I'd venture to say at least some of the tax represents New York lawmakers' efforts to try to get people to quit smoking, or at least cut down, or maybe not start in the first place.

My favorite political commentator, Jonah Goldberg, a few months ago wrote "If you want more of something, tax it less. If you want less of something tax it more."

I'd say that makes sense. It certainly seems logical that the more something costs -- whether through taxes or free-market pressure -- the fewer people will be able, or maybe willing, to buy it.

Are you ready for this? Our federal government, in all its wisdom, has just announced through the Department of Agriculture that it won't tax the sale of every real Christmas tree sold this year 15 cents as it had planned. The tax was set to go into effect on Wednesday.

Why? you might ask, would the Obama administration tax Christmas trees? Is it against Christmas or Christmas trees?

Apparently not.

Was this some sort of effort to get people to buy artificial trees rather than fresh ones, thereby protecting the environment?

That's a logical assumption based on the far-left environmental stance of this administration; but you'd be wrong again.

Nope, your fresh Christmas tree would have cost 15 cents more this year because the USDA wanted to underwrite a marketing committee whose mandate would have been to improve our opinion of fresh Christmas trees.

Evidently, unknown to many of us, fresh Christmas trees have been suffering a loss of good will and support.

And since government's job is to stick its nose into absolutely everything, it was going to step in and do its part to try to elevate our opinion of the Christmas tree.

I am not making this up.

The White House pulled the plug on the plan as critics became more vocal throughout the day.

Their defense: George Bush did it!

No, I'm kidding.

Their defense is that some Christmas tree growers asked the government to collect the tax so they could do a fresh Christmas tree version of the dairy farmers' "Got Milk?" campaign.

So let me get this straight: In an effort to create more demand for fresh Christmas trees, they were going to raise the price of each tree by 15 cents. Is that about right?

No wonder they can't fix the economy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Some Pluses and Minuses of the TV Season: Bye, Bye Angels

Yes, I recognize the lack of substance, but here are a couple of comments on the current television season.

I have officially stopped watching "How I Met Your Mother." I have blogged about tuning it out a couple of times, and finally pulled the trigger.

I only made it through the past couple of seasons because I am an Alyson Hannigan fan. If you aren't familiar with her, she was the band-camp girl in the movie "American Pie," and a couple of its sequels. It was her stint, however, as the lesbian witch Willow in the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series that made me a fan.

In any event, I've continued watching "How I Met Your Mother" because of Hannigan, but her participation is just no longer enough to keep me tuning into a comedy totally devoid of jokes. Nary a laugh...ever.

The episode a couple of weeks ago was so bad that I stopped watching at the first commercial break. I deleted the show and then deleted the series from my DVR schedule. In the six or or episodes I did watch from beginning to end this season, I don't think I so much as tittered, let alone giggled, laughed or guffawed. Whoever the writers are for this turkey, they are outrageously overpaid.

I have seen only the pilot of a new series that debuted a couple of Fridays ago. I have the second episode recorded and waiting to be watched later this week. It's an NBC series call "Grimm." I liked the initial episode and look forward to seeing the second one. I'm not even sure what's going on yet except that the protagonist is some sort of descendent of the Brothers Grimm, who evidently weren't writing fairy tales, but keeping a journal of strange things they encountered. They had the ability to see different types of monsters and demons the rest of us can't and that sense has been handed down through the generations.

It's too soon to tell if it will be a regular of mine, but I like what I've seen so far.

Finally, I see that ABC has already axed the remake of "Charlies Angels." I never saw it, and that was by design. As a big fan of the original, I couldn't bring myself to watch some modern-day knock-off. Not to mention that not one of the female stars of the remake were as hot as Farrah Fawcett or Jaclyn Smith were in their day. The new version was doomed from the get-go.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Slacker's Out for Blogging When There Is No Time or Motivation

I was in Detroit earlier this week with Ford getting tutored on several upcoming vehicles and technology that will be introduced at the Los Angeles auto show later this month.

Because we had to swear a blood oath of secrecy about what we saw, and the trip itself was unremarkable in any way, you aren't hearing about this two-day unadventurous adventure until now.

As a result of this trip that gobbled up two of my days, and then three nearly unproductive days at my PC that rounded out my work week, I am tied to my PC over this weekend trying to produce a few paragraphs of prose that might actually translate into a paycheck somewhere down the road -- unfortunately, probably way down the road.

My slacking earlier this week means I am taking the easy way out in my blog today. I am sending you to to read a piece I did for them on credit scores and credit reports. It is a riveting summary of how credit scores and reports influence a consumer's auto financing options.

It is a real page turner -- or at least would be if it were longer than a page -- offering insight that will be indispensable when you next finance a vehicle.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Which Do I Like Better the 2012 Buick Verano or New York City? It's No Contest, Really

I was in New York City -- NEW YORK CITY? -- a couple of weeks ago. It's not my favorite place.

I know, I know, I should love it because it's the city that never sleeps, and there is soooo much to do there. The restaurants are wonderful, the pizza has no equal and the theater is the best in the world.

Yawn. Snore.

Here's how I see it: I live in unassuming Greenville, South Carolina and I don't have the time nor the moola to do everything I want to do in Greenville, let alone everything there is to do. Moreover, Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina, with all they have to offer, are less than 90 minutes away, or about the same amount of time it takes to negotiate 20 blocks by car in Manhattan.

It doesn't matter to me that there are several eateries and bars along every New York city block; I am going to wind up picking just one.

Besides, who the heck wants to deal with the masses of people and nose-to-tail traffic moving with all the alacrity of tree sap just because the pizza is good? Not me.

So what took me to New York? Buick invited me to a first-drive media event of its all-new Verano.

Compact in size, the Verano is a luxury sedan targeting cars such as the Lexus IS 250. It is powered by a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine that sends output to the front wheels via a driver-shiftable, six-speed automatic transmission. It will scoot from 0-to-60 in less than 9 seconds and has a highway fuel economy rating of 31 mpg. It has 10 air bags.

Going to New York City to test drive a car is something akin to going to Phoenix to learn how to make snowballs. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Previously I had been on a couple of other car manufacturer ride and drives in NYC. The most notorious was the Chrysler launch of its three cab-forward LH sedans -- Chrysler Concorde, Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision -- in 1992, I think. A two- or three-day event that included driving all three sedans, it had journalists slogging around the congested streets of the city for hours. It was miserable.

Sprinkled among the hours of nerve-racking driving were stops for tours of the Concorde jet and the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier. The clever diversions didn't help.

So I wasn't excited to learn New York City would be the venue for the Verano launch. I could have attended the West Coast Verano program; it was in the Portland, Oregon area. Unfortunately I had a travel conflict.

The day I flew into LaGaurdia, it was pouring rain. Driving from the airport to the Empire Hotel took well over an hour.

As I have grown older, I have somewhat mellowed. If you can't do anything about a situation, it's far less stressful to just roll with the punches. I was doing a lot of rolling that afternoon.

My room at the Empire was nice enough. The bathroom, however, was so miniscule that when the door was open, it completely blocked the toilet. You had to enter the bathroom, crowd against the shower stall and push the door closed to use the potty. There was no counter around the sink. For a surface on which to put my bag of toilet articles, I had to close the toilet-seat lid and use it. I'm not kidding.

Sleep that night was a highly prized commodity. The racket filtering up to my fourth-floor window was relentless. Drowned out by the three-times-an-hour sirens or the beeping of a reversing garbage truck was what sounded like a slowly spinning 50-gallon drum with a half-dozen ball bearings rolling around inside. I'm assuming it was a malfunctioning air handler unit of some sort. It went on all night long.

When we went to dinner that night, we discovered what we think motivated Buick to choose NYC as the East Coast launch venue: the Kefi restaurant. Apparently, Buick has some sort of relationship with its owner/chef and decided to hold an event where Kefi could be included in the itinerary. Greek cuisine is the specialty of the house, but you couldn't prove it by my experience. I had a perfectly grilled filet mignon in a spectacular red wine sauce. Among the appetizers were the best meatballs I've ever had. These things practically melted in my mouth.

How is the new Verano? On what turned out to be a better driving route -- not great, but acceptable -- than I expected, I found the new Verano to be remarkably quiet and surprisingly athletic. Quick and surefooted, it is crammed with technology and offers a rich variety of high-tech options for its comfortable interior. With a starting price of $23,470, including destination charges, it is a value as well.

Even New York couldn't diminish my first impression of Verano.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Little Kimmy Kardashian Racks Up Her First D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Well, it seems like only yesterday -- it was actually August 19 -- I blogged about the upcoming Little Kimmy Kardashian wedding collision.

Now a mere 10 weeks later I am blogging about her divorce. How can this freak even look at herself in a mirror?

I would feel so stupid and ashamed, I wouldn't leave the house. If I did, it would only be with a paper bag over my head.

But I guess when you are famous for only being, well, notorious, it's just more press coverage to keep that fame alive. Stupidity is to be embraced.

There's $10 million of someone's money down a rat hole. I wonder if she's giving back the gifts. On the other hand, she reportedly made $18 million from selling photo and story rights to the hoax. Not bad work if you can get it.

In my August blog I wrote that I didn't give the marriage much of a chance. It would last longer than the Dennis Rodman/Carmen Electra farce, but it would end relatively quickly nonetheless.

Of course you don't have to be a celebrity for a wedding to end almost before it begins. An exgirlfriend married the guy she left me to date. She was filing divorce papers before she had her wedding photo proofs. I'm not making this up.

It probably doesn't speak well of me, but I took a little perverse pleasure in the outcome. Ah, what the hell, truth be told: I loved it.

I would be surprised, though, if my Ex made a profit; if so, it certainly wasn't $8 million.

I'd like to take some credit for my Kardashian prediction, but making it hardly took any insight. I don't think anyone -- other than maybe the groom -- thought it would last. The poor sap probably never considered that he was just another headline to keep the Kardashian name out there.

I heard someone quip on the radio this morning that Little Kimmy was well on her way to being the next Zsa Zsa Gabor. Gabor was, perhaps, the most famous of celebrities who was famous only for being famous -- and she did it during an age with no Internet, People magazine or Entertainment Tonight. Part of her fame was anchored by her number of failed marriages.

You go, Kimmy! Who can argue with $8 million profit for a 10-week effort.

It sure beats the hell out of getting a real job!