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Dining With Elvis: Turkey? Thanks, But No Thanks.

Last Thursday afternoon, Elvis came home from a run around Lake Merritt and said, “Man, it smells sweet in here, like you’re wearing a perfume called ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ or somethin’.”

“It’s Thanksgiving. I’m making us dinner,” I said.

Elvis smiled at me. “Son, you’re yanking my chain, if it’s Thanksgiving where’s the damn bird. I looked in the ‘fridgerator this morning, and I didn’t see nothing with wings in there.”

“That’s because I don’t eat turkey. Come on, Elvis, you remember–I’m a vegetarian.”

Chik'n nuggets, mushroom balls, peppered Tofurkey slices

“I thought that just meant you ate more vegetables than regular folk. Well what the hell are you cooking up?” Elvis dabbed at his forehead with one of his custom made “E.P.” embroidered  towels and sauntered over to the stove. “Well that there’s ham, son, you been fooled,” he  laughed.

“This right here is fried chicken, and this,” he poked at the skillet with a spatula.”Well this I don’t know what it is; looks like sheep’s balls or sump’n, but I’ll tell ya this, it ain’t nuthin’ that no veggy-tartarian-person should be shovin’ down their gullet. I don’t know what poor animal had his nuts sliced off for your uptight Britsh version of Thanksgiving, but I’m as hungry as a horse. Man, those better not be horse’s nuts.” Elvis laughed again and said, “I’m gittin’ in the shower. Son, you are one daffy kinda Limey duck.”

I pulled the pan of roasted potatoes from the oven, I’d mixed in some turnip, carrots, and sweet potato in there for some variety. I could hear Elvis singing in the shower. “Now and then there’s a fool such as I…you hear that, you crazy Brit, a fool you’re a damned fool…vegetablearian my ass.”

Elvis got out of the shower and slipped into a maroon velour jumpsuit and I burst into laughter when he came into the living room. “Elvis, you look like one of the Golden Girls in that thing.”

“Son, I told you how much I love that show, now you can make fun ‘a me all you want, but you tear into what’s her name? You know, the slutty one, or that other one, you know the dumb one, or that big one, and that older lookin’ one, you askin’ for a whole mess a trouble.”

“You don’t even know their names,” I laughed, and Elvis fell into a pout. “All right, no harm intended. I’m plating the food in a minute. First though, a toast.” I poured two glasses of champagne. “Here’s to our first Thanksgiving since I rescued you from that old folks home, you ungrateful tyrant.” I smiled and winked.

“Amen,” he sang. “Let’s grub.”

Elvis bowed his head and said a prayer for his mama, and dug into the vegetarian feast like a shark feeding on chum. “What the…this ain’t no sliced turkey, and this…this ain’t fried chicken, and these balls didn’t come from no animal I never heard of. Son, are you trying to poison me?”

“Elvis, I told you it’s all fake meat stuff; if you wanted something different you could have made it yourself. Now sit down and eat your dinner, before it gets cold.”

Elvis harumphed and sat to eat.

“Pass me some of them potatoes and other funny colored things…and I guess that ham steak looks pretty good. Fake meat, my ass, ham s’posed to come from a dang pig ya know?” He cut off a slice and began eating the veggie ham. “Say this ain’t too bad, little o’ this gravy on the top.”

For dessert, I served Elvis a slice of pumpkin pie and within minutes after finishing it, he was asleep on the couch snoring with remote control in hand.

I guess the old guy was tuckered from his run, but maybe it was the dang tryptophan that put him in that food coma.


I’ve had requests for more cartoons. I’m assuming because cartoons are much easier to laugh at without having to read all those many, many words. I have also taken a segment from The Bay Area Brit and given it its own site    www.DiningWithElvis.com

It’s still a work in progress, and hopefully it won’t just become a “Shit My Roommate Elvis Says,” kind of thing, but I can’t make any promises.

Oh yeah, and today is the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Enjoy!



















Britain’s Shallow Flirtation With NFL

This week’s news in the Bay Area was dominated by highs and lows: The S.F. Giants World Series victory and parade, the mid-term elections, and the lenient sentencing of a BART officer for killing an unarmed man, and the demonstrations which followed. I steered away from these hot topics to interview The Bay Area Brit Foreign Correspondent, Benjamin Addington, after last week’s San Francisco 49ers game against the Denver Broncos in London. I was curious about the NFL’s impact over there.

How popular was NFL when you were growing up in England?

We had the merest glimpse of it on a show called World Of Sport, which would occasionally live up to its ambitious name by offering scant highlights, but it was impossible to gain any understanding of the game from a three minute report which devoted as much time to the cheerleaders’ legs as it did to anything that happened on the field of play. 

The distraction of shiny, pretty things. The Cheerleader: An unequalled symbol of American glitz.

Ah, the distractions, got to love them. So when did things start to take off?

In 1982, Channel 4 created a one-hour highlights programme that spawned a generation of devotees with a proper understanding of the sport. The opportunity to examine the game closely revealed a complexity that could scarcely be guessed from the World Of Sport excerpts. It was as amazing as discovering that a cattle stampede is a meticulously choreographed event with each cow’s movements determined by a carefully constructed plan.

Do you think the fact that the games are 3 hours long affected its popularity?

Although American Football now receives in-depth coverage on Sky Sports which shows three games live every week, for many fans, the Channel 4 days were the golden era. And yes, one hour of play and two hours of TV commercials might fly in the U.S. but not here.

So how popular are the two teams that lined up against each other last weekend?

Two of the most dominant teams from the Channel 4 highlights period were the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos and it’s hard to say just how excited the fans would have been if Joe Montana and John Elway had led their respective teams over to London for a regular season match in their heyday.

Wasn’t the game at Wembley Stadium well attended?

The relative paucity of the 2010 Niners and Broncos didn’t stop an enthusiastic crowd of 80,000 plus from showing up, but it was pretty evident that the majority of fans were more excited by a glimpse of Jerry Rice and Roger Craig on the sidelines in their ambassadorial suits than they were by the opportunity to see the current crop of players duke it out for the number one pick in next year’s draft. 

Wembley Stadium: Hallowed ground for English football fans.

It seems the British and Americans will never agree on what “football” really is.

American Football has been marginalised by its television coverage.  Only a small proportion of British viewers pay the subscription fees to watch the sport, and its audience is tiny compared to those who watched the Channel 4 highlights. Even though Sky’s broadcasts are infinitely better than those ancient clips on World of Sport, the latter had ratings that Sky can only dream about.  It turns out that those cheerleaders had legs…in more ways than one.

*                              *                              *

Watch Out For That Christian, Guy.

Halloween is over for another year and we have slowly crept into November. The last day of October and the first of November are mixed in a strange marriage. For after the night of scary monsters and frightening creatures from the underworld, today we wake up to the Catholic celebration of “All Hallows” or “All Saints Day.” The jump from costumed evil and mayhem to a day celebrating Catholic saints is a short leap.

When I was but a young sapling living in England, we didn’t celebrate Halloween, because it was too close in proximity to something called “Bonfire Night,” which takes place on November 5th. On Bonfire Night, the English light big (controlled) bonfires all over the country, and burn life-sized human dolls (effigies which sit atop the wooden log stocked pyramids.) The doll is traditionally made from old clothes stuffed with newspapers, and bears the face of a creepy looking bearded man. He is designed to be highly flammable and has a fate which has been determined by the actions of a devout Catholic over 400 years ago.

As the bonfire burned, there’d likely be a small fireworks display, and the revelers would eat baked potatoes and bangers (English sausages) and then of course, they’d probably stand around and make fun of each other, because the English are really good at that.

In the week or two before Bonfire Night, you might see kids proudly hovering over their homemade creepy character (Guy), panhandling for change. Sort of like a modern-day version of a Dickensian, grubby-faced urchin selling matchbooks on the street “Penny for me last book o’ matches, guv’na?” The tragedy for these kids is that they completely missed out on Halloween. Instead, they’re supposed to “Remember, remember the Fifth of November.”

The “Guy” is an effigy of the conspiracist Guy Fawkes, who, with 12 other Catholics, tried to blow up King James I and The House of Lords on the day of the state opening of parliament in 1605. Ultimately, the plot failed, as Guy Fawkes was discovered red-handed by the King’s guards with 36 kegs of gunpowder in the dampened cellars of the House of Lords. Awkwaaard. 

Hey, Guy, thanks for the fireworks display and baked potatoes...but I'd have rather have spent this time of year getting candy from strangers dressed as a little vampire.

Their mission was to replace the Protestant monarch with a Catholic. However, the 36 kegs would have done much more than just kill the King. The explosion would likely have killed all the lords, politicians, elite members of English law, guards, and senior members of the Church, not to mention the many civilian people who would have likely perished in their wooden homes from the subsequent fires.

This band of 13 Christians believed that their actions were justified by their devotion to their religious cause. They were a cell of fanatical extremists attempting to carry out pre-meditated devastation in the name of their religion. Kind of eerie. I think you know where I’m going with this: Its not much of a stretch to compare their mission to a recent act of terrorism unleashed on America. Of course the considerable difference being that Guy Fawkes and his men were Christians who worshipped Jesus and God. Not the same thing at all, right?

Now of course this didn’t mean every Christian living in England wanted to blow up The Houses of Parliament–because that would be ridiculous.

In modern thinking though, Guy Fawkes could be considered as a hero to some, but an evil terrorist to others. Ultimately it depends on your religious views.

Strangely, something else came from Guy Fawkes. Have you ever wondered what someone means when they call you “guy?”

“Hey, guy, can you tell me the time?” And why are men euphemistically called guys?

In the 1800’s, (200 years after The Gunpowder Plot) the name “Guy” would mockingly refer to any man who was attired strangely, probably in reference to the various odd states of old and weathered clothing fitted on to an effigy. As in: “Look at the state of you; you look like a Guy.”

English fun-making at its finest.

The noun “guy” would eventually just come to mean a man. So next time you call someone “Guy” or “guy,” make sure they don’t know the history behind the Gunpowder Plot, and just what it is that you are really calling them….because some guys can get offended over the most ridiculous things.