Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If You Fry It; They Will Come

Imagine, if you dare, a place where your wildest dreams can become reality.

A place where rules for normal human behavior are suspended.

A place where a man would willingly coat a McDonald's cheeseburger in pancake batter and then deep fry it.

And then eat it.

I went to that place last Saturday night and my digestive tract has almost recovered.
Kerri and I were invited to a Birthday Party/Housewarming/Fish Fry at a friends' house.
The menu, a gustatory tease that was tantalizingly hinted at, revealed, and augmented over the weeks leading up to the party, was a veritable cornucopia of deep fried delicacies so comprehensive that several guests suffered congestive heart failure simply by reading the menu.

The menu included some basic fried fare: pickles; Oreos; egg rolls; etc., but then, with many great minds working as one well lubricated unit, the food selections quickly became more exotic and thrilling. The menu quickly spiraled to dizzying heights of stunt frying and concoctions so elaborate that they boggled the imagination and made you question the limits of human ingenuity.

Appetizers? Why fry boring old french fries when you can deep fry a Cadbury Cream Egg? Or flatten out ground beef to the thickness of a tortilla chip and turn it into a Burgacho? (I predict that it will not be long before spell check is forced to recognize Burgacho as a legitimate word.)

For the main course, you might have sampled the macaroni and cheese balls, coated with bread crumbs and deep fried to a golden brown sphere of transcendent beauty and deliciousness. Or you might have sampled the wonton wrappers, stuffed with salsa and sour cream then fried into a creamy, tongue-scorching treat, the gooey center of which maintained a steady internal temperature of about a billion degrees.  

Need some condiments? Deep fried mayo and hot sauce were on the menu.

Looking for some dessert? You didn't want to miss the Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tart dipped in Funfetti cake batter then deep fried into a culinary atrocity so profoundly horrifying that brave men wept in its presence.

When we actually arrived at the party, laden with Rice Krispie Treats (I do not recommend them fried), whipped cream (ditto), and chocolate coconut macaroons (do not even think of frying those), the smell of hot oil drifting out of the apartment and into the street was so bold, I was shocked not to find a squadron of heart surgeons waiting at the door, scalpels agleam, awaiting our departure.

And now, several days later, I have finally scrubbed the last of the lingering deep fried aroma out of my hair and can once again walk across a room without becoming lightheaded.

I'm wondering what might be on the menu next year...  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Opportunities to Make Money

The first thing I need to warn you about is that if you read this blog post, you will doubtlessly become extremely jealous of me. I mean, after all, it isn't everyone who gets his face on official currency.
You're jealous already, aren't you?
I had no idea that this tremendous honor had been bestowed upon me until I walked into Grinnell Elementary School in Derry last Friday to perform a rockin', reading musical extravaganza with my buddy Steve Blunt.

We had been at the school last year to do a show and before we had left, they had already booked us again for this year.

I must admit that I was a little leery of the return engagement. Not because of the school, at all. Our show at the school last year was wonderful. The kids were great. The teachers were great. It was all great. Until I went out to my car at the end of the day. Somehow, I had killed the battery. I managed to get it jump-started and, as soon as the engine was running, the brake pedal dropped to the floor and a large, slick puddle of brake fluid spread from beneath my car. The ride home was a thrilling, soul-shattering, hair-raising adventure that I have almost recovered from.

The lingering horror of that ride home swirled through my mind as I retraced my route back to Grinnell School last Friday. I was just clearing the memory away when I walked into the school and was greeted by Alicia Henderson. Alicia is the delightful lady who arranged to bring Steve and me to the school. She also arranged to have my face plastered on official school currency.

I have had the honor of visiting a lot of schools over the years. I have been flattered over and over again by the amazing projects that teachers have created based on my books. But this is the first time that I have shown up on dollar bills.  Marty Dollars were awarded to students who could correctly answer the Marty Kelley Trivia Question of the Day. The questions were mostly quotes from my books that the students had to identify.

It was extremely flattering; though I wish that Alicia had contacted me for some really serious questions. Then she could have asked students some hard ones.

Q. What are the names of my duck and two chickens?
A. Duck, Chicken, The Other Chicken

Q. What is my truck's name?
A. Uncle Louie

Q. Does everything I own have a name?
A. No.

I think that if Alicia had talked to me first, she could have saved herself a lot of time. She wouldn't have had to give out a single dollar.

As it is, I may have made things difficult for her on Friday. I heard the Marty Kelley Trivia Question of the Day over the morning announcements and I'm proud to say that I knew the answer.

I happily provided the correct answer to 350+ kids during our performance. I suspect that Alicia spent the rest of the day printing up piles and piles of Marty Dollars to distribute.

By introducing that level of liquid assets into the system, I fear that I may have precipitated an economic crash to rival the recent global one.

Or, actually, probably not.

Because I discovered that, despite the fact that my picture is on it, there are few places outside of Grinnell Elementary School willing to exchange good and services for Marty Dollars.

I already warned you about the fact that you would be jealous of me. The second–and possibly more important–warning I have is about attempting to print out and spend this money anywhere.

A crucial part of any (and every) show that I do with Steve, is food. Frequently, when discussing an upcoming show, Steve will say, "We can go do the show in [obscure town I have never heard of] and then, right down the street, there's this great little place that has the best [random food item] in the world." It's an amazing gift and he is always 100% correct.

So Friday, after our show, which was a lot of fun, we set off toward Sal's Pizza for some sustenance. My car started, the brakes didn't spray fluid like a geyser and all was well with the world.

Until I slapped my Marty Dollar down on the counter and ordered. For some reason, the fine folks at Sal's were reluctant to accept Marty Dollars as legal tender and became rather insistent on the fact that I should pay with "real money".

I tried arguing the matter, but the grumbles from the line of hungry customers behind me drowned out my debating points.

Alicia has already very kindly invited us back to perform at the school next year. Perhaps she and I can work together to devise some sort of currency that I might be able to use for pizza, too.