February 28, 2013

TV Talk: Kristen Kish Kicks Ass Again And Wins Top Chef

Top Chef Seattle Title Card jiveinthe415.com

The battle of Seattle was decided last night. With a prizefight atmosphere that included a cheering live audience of 300, and the judges seated ringside for a birds-eye view of the action in the kitchen, the Top Chef winner was crowned last night in Bravo's Top Chef reality television competition.

She defied the odds by winning 5 rounds, and besting 6 other eliminated cheftestants in the Last Chance Kitchen competition  - in order to return to the main event - and Boston chef Kristen Kish was chosen as the winner of Top Chef Seattle. Los Angeles chef Brooke Williamson was the runner up.

On Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live chat show, Kristen and Brooke were his guests. During the show it was announced that Sheldon Simeon won the “fan favorite” competition, and the ten thousand dollar prize.

This year's finale consisted of 5 rounds. Once a chef won 3 rounds, they would be declared the winner.



Top Chef Seattle Season 10 Cast

Round One

Brooke's First Dish: Crispy Pig Ear & Chicory Salad, Six-Minute Egg, Apricot Jam & Candied Kumquats

Kristen's First Dish: Chicken Liver Mousse with Frisee, Mustard, Prune, Hazelnuts & Pumpernickel

Winner: Kristen


Round Two

Brooke's Second Dish: Seared Scallop with Salt Cod Puree, Speck, Black Currant & Mustard Seed Vinaigrette

Kristen's Second Dish: Citrus & Lavender Cured Scallop with Bitter Orange, Meyer Lemon & Apple

Winner: Brooke



Round Three

Brooke's Third Dish: Vadouvan Fried Chicken with Sumac Yogurt-Tahini & PIckled Kohlrabi Fattoush

Kristen's Third Dish: Celery Root Puree with Bone Marrow, Mushrooms, Bitter Greens & Radishes

Winner: Kristen



Round Four

Brooke's Fourth Dish: Braised Pork Cheek & Red Snapper with Collard Green Slaw & Sorrel Puree

Kristen's Fourth Dish: Red Snapper with Leeks, Little Gem Lettuce, Tarragon, Uni & Shellfish Nage

Winner: Kristen



Top Chef Crown


Top Chef Seattle Season 10 Winner: Kristen Kish

Top Chef Seattle Season 10 Winner Kristen Kish and the Judges

Last night’s conclusion to the tenth season of Top Chef was fun, and Kristen and Brooke worked their butts off to get there. I hope that their success inspires other women to pursue a career in the culinary arts, because this male dominated field will be better for it.

I didn’t like the new format for the finale with the live audience, and thought that the table of past Top Chef winners front and center, and their catty commentary, was a little over the top.

What makes this show work is the intimate and up close nature of the camera. We watch the cheftestant’s interact with each other, and that allows us to be a fly on the wall. We see them making decisions and choosing ingredients, and preparing their dish. We form opinions about who we like, and we cheer for our favorites, and yell when they get eliminated.

During the finale, we didn’t see how the finalists came up with their menu, or decided on the ingredients. We didn’t see them prepare the meal, and the focus was on the audience and the judges. We tune in to watch the competition between the cheftestant’s, not to hear the past winners wax on about nothing. I hope that during the next season, that Top Chef gets back to basics for the finale episode.

Kristen Kish and Brooke Williamson are two of the nicest and most affable and likable competitors to reach the finals in a long time. I would have been happy whether either competitor won, and both chef’s should be happy and proud.

In the end, Kristen kicked ass - and her classical approach to cooking - where she embraced using fresh local ingredients, with a clean flavor profile, prevailed.

BRAVO Kristen!





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Equality In The NFL Is An Elusive Dream

New York Giants MetLife Stadium

Martin Rogers, a sports columnist who covers the National Football League for Yahoo! Sports, posed the question “can NFL teams ask Manti Te'o if he's gay?” He responded with “Depends on which teams are doing the asking.”
A quirk in the American legal system means that NFL teams are governed by differing laws on the level of intrusive questioning they can impose on potential draft picks such as Manti Te'o.
Te'o's sexuality has been the subject of much debate following the fallout of the Notre Dame defensive star's hoax girlfriend saga that thrust him into a storm of media attention and, unfortunately, public ridicule.
One NFL insider, NBC Sports' Mike Florio, said Monday that several NFL organizations would like to know whether the powerful Hawaiian linebacker is gay, describing the matter as the "elephant in the room."
However, a number of NFL executives told Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver that in interviews with Te'o they did not ask him about his sexuality.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve certainly heard about Notre Dame University linebacker Manti Te'o and his “imaginary” girlfriend or friend/boyfriend/penpal/sexting partner.

In Rogers column, he goes on and does a thorough analysis of which states offer employment protections for LGBT individuals, and which states do not. The reason for the analysis is the fact that Te’o is eligible for the upcoming NFL draft, and there are fans, coaches, and NFL executives that want to know if Te’o is gay.

Rogers found that of the 32 National Football League franchises, 13 teams are in states with employment protections for the gay community, and 19 teams are in states lacking those protections.

"Teams are expected to comply with the law in terms of any employment interview," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Yahoo! Sports in an email on Tuesday.
This, however, creates an imbalance. While federal law protects certain characteristics from discrimination, such as race, gender, religion or belief and disability, it "has been slow to catch up on aspects like sexuality," according to Professor Dylan Malagrino, a sports law expert from Western State University College of Law, in Fullerton, Calif.
"There is no federal protection and it has become a state law matter," added Malagrino. "Some states, like California and Minnesota, have been very proactive. But some states there is no protection at all, and teams in theory could ask inquisitive questions into someone's private life and sexuality."
There’s no question that this situation illustrates the need for a federal employment non-discrimination law that applies to all 50 states, and the NFL needs to adopt a similar policy that governs all 32 teams.

What I find reprehensible, is the fact that all of these narrow minded NFL coaches and executives feel that it’s their business to inquire whether a potential draft pick is gay or straight. Whether it’s Manti Te’o or MLS player Robbie Rogers or anyone else, in a professional environment this should be a non-starter.  I thought we’d moved beyond this, and I’m obviously wrong.

Any LGBT athlete can attest to the fact that one’s sexuality has no impact on how they play the game on the field or in the arena. It has no impact on how they conduct themselves in a locker room, and professional athletes are professionals!

Prospect Nick Kasa, a tight end from Colorado, told ESPN Radio Denver that teams asked him about his sexual orientation, though in a veiled way.
"[Teams] ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ Are you married?’ Do you like girls?’ " Kasa revealed. "Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether."
I love football. I follow my alma mater’s football team, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, religiously. I grew up as a fan of the New York Giants, and I follow them too. I used to follow the San Francisco 49’ers, and went to two Super Bowls to watch them play - but when the team owner Denise York and her husband told San Francisco to drop dead - I decided then and there that the 49’ers are dead to me. The only reason I bring this up is to illustrate that I’m a football fan.

It’s usually an elderly auntie, or a distant relative, that pinches your cheek and asks “do you have a girlfriend?” NOT NFL coaches and scouts who are nosy or afraid to be more direct, because they know it’s none of their business what anyone does in their bedroom or off of the field.

In many ways the equality movement has made dramatic strides and come so far, and it’s a story like this that reminds us, we haven’t gotten very far at all. We still have a long way to go, and have to do a lot of educating to do, before everyone has true equality. Until then, it’s still an elusive dream.





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The Devil Wears Prada And So Does The Pope

Pope Benedict XVI and Fr. Georg Ganswein

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen his new title, and decided how he will be addressed. He picked out his new residence, and announced what his wardrobe will be. He also magnanimously granted permission for his aide de camp to work for the new Pontiff - whoever he might be, as long as he comes home to him every night.

In the Tuesday press conference, Papal spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, announced that the former Joseph Ratzinger will have a new title, either Emeritus Pope or Emeritus Roman Pontiff. Emeritus does mean former holder of an office, so that makes sense. If you run into him at your local Stop and Shop or Safeway, he is to be addressed as Your Holiness Benedict XVI. I guess calling him Joey won’t work then.

Pope Benedict XVI consulted with advisors about what his wardrobe should be, and despite suggestions that he should go back to wearing black, he dismissed those views. He likes the long white dresses that come with the job. He agreed to give up the red Prada shoes, but the patent leather shoes in every color stay.

In the Associated Press story by Nicole Winfield, she reports:

Two pontiffs, both wearing white, both called "Pope" and living a few yards from one another, with the same key aide serving them.
The Vatican's announcement Tuesday that Pope Benedict XVI will be known as "emeritus pope" in his retirement, be called "Your Holiness" and continue to wear the white cassock associated with the papacy has fueled concerns about potential conflicts arising from the peculiar reality now facing the Catholic Church: having one reigning and one retired pope.
It’s very strange indeed.
Benedict’s trusted secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein, will be serving both pontiffs — living with Benedict at the monastery inside the Vatican and keeping his day job as prefect of the new pope’s household. Asked about the potential conflicts, Lombardi was defensive, saying the decisions had been clearly reasoned and were likely chosen for the sake of simplicity. “I believe it was well thought out,” he said.
For the sake of simplicity? It sounds more like an arranged marriage to me.

The inestimable Andrew Sullivan writes:
So Benedict’s handsome male companion will continue to live with him, while working for the other Pope during the day. Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement?
This man – clearly in some kind of love with Ratzinger (and vice-versa) will now be working for the new Pope as secretary in the day and spending the nights with the Pope Emeritus. This is not the Vatican. It’s Melrose Place.
I don’t know if it’s more Melrose Place or As The World Turns, but this WTF situation reaffirms that the Roman Catholic church is dysfunctional --- and this is proof positive that the dysfunction starts at the top.




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Jive 5: The Five Most Popular Blog Posts of January 2013

The 5 most popular blog posts of January 2013 jiveinthe415.com

The month of January 2013 flew by, and February of 2013 is almost over too. I used to roll my eyes when adults told me that time flies by faster as you get older, and now I have to admit that they were right.

I was fascinated by the fact that Rula Jebreal’s appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher brought so many new visitors to this blog. I wasn’t the only one who she impressed.

House Republicans continue to wreak terror on the economy, and my old nemesis Rep. Michele Marie Bachmann (R-MN) has been quiet since she narrowly defeated her opponent in the 2012 election. Last week she conducted a public interview and shared that “she didn’t get anything wrong” on the campaign trail, so she might be getting ready to rear her ugly head - and I’ll be there to tell you all about it.  

If you live in Minnesota, that Bachmann woman has invited her “friends” to meet her for coffee on Saturday March 2nd 2013. She’s partial to the decaf at Lake Cafe in Big Lake, Minnesota, and she’s planning on being there at 8:30am. Check it out and give her a piece of your mind!

It goes without saying that people like Top Chef Seattle,  and I’ll be writing about the winner later today.


The top 5 most popular blog posts in January 2013 are as follows:

January 2013






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February 27, 2013

Jive 5: Five News Stories People Are Talking About

House Speaker John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner Bitches, The Republican Party’s Image Has Never Been Lower, The Secretary of State On Stupidity,  Weight Watchers Worker’s Woes, A Ten Mile Trek Feels Good

1. Will Speaker Boehner Get Up Off Of His Ass And Get To Work? I think Not.

All legislation in Congress related to raising revenue (taxes) and authorizing expenditures, are supposed to originate in the US House of Representatives. That’s a constitutional requirement, and every time House Speaker John Boehner says stupid things like “the Senate should get off of their asses and get to work” like he did yesterday, he’s throwing up a smoke screen and diverting attention away from his ineffective leadership.

Firstly, Congress could pass a simple law and say that the sequester is null and void. They would end the madness once and for all, and could then debate the issues.

The real reason that Boehner hasn’t done a thing other than work on his tan while playing golf, is that he’s stuck and he doesn’t want to do anything that would upset the tea party faction of his caucus. According to Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire blog, no matter what Boehner does, he’s going to lose the sequester battle and upset people too.

If the "let-the-cuts-happen" approach on the sequester seems risky, Politico notes the alternative for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is worse.
"Jump-start negotiations with Obama, and he would be slammed for engaging in out-of-sight, secret talks with a president his party doesn't trust. Raise taxes, and Boehner's courting trouble in his conference and endangering his speakership. Both are simply nonstarters."
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told Fox News that Boehner would lose his speakership if he agreed to a deal with the president that included new tax revenues.

Pew Research Poll Feb 13-18 2013 describes democratic and republican parties

2. Republican Party’s public image at an all time low.

In a nationwide poll conducted February 13, 2013 to February 18, 2013, the Pew Research Center found that Republican Party’s public image has reached an all time low, while public sentiment toward the Democratic Party was much higher.

In January 2013, only 33% of Americans viewed the Republican Party favorably, while 47% viewed the Democratic Party favorably. The Pew Research Center stated:

An earlier release from the survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY found that while both party’s congressional leaders receive negative job ratings, just 25% approve of the job performance of GOP leaders, compared with 37% approval for Democratic congressional leaders.
The new report finds that while the Democratic Party is viewed more positively on most traits tested, opinion is divided about whether the party is out of touch with the American people: 46% say it is, while 50% it is not. And only somewhat more say the Democratic Party is looking out for the country’s future than say that about the Republican Party (51% vs. 45%).
The Republican Party’s overall image stands at one of the lowest points in nearly two decades. And, while impressions of the Democratic Party are much stronger, they are far below where they were four years ago.
In January, 33% of the public had a favorable view of the GOP, compared with 58% who held an unfavorable impression of the party. Among Republicans themselves, 69% had a favorable impression, down from a recent high of 89% reported after the GOP convention. Majorities of both Democrats and independents viewed the Republican Party unfavorably (83% and 58%, respectively).
Views of the Democratic Party were evenly divided in January: 47% favorable, 46% unfavorable. Among Democrats, 87% had a favorable impression of their party while roughly the same percentage of Republicans held an unfavorable view (84%). Independents, on balance, had more unfavorable impressions of the Democratic Party (52%) than favorable ones (37%).

Pew research poll Jan 9-13 compares democrats with republicans and how favorably people look at the parties

3. Secretary of State John Kerry On Free Speech, Religious Tolerance And Stupidity


US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin

Secretary of State John Kerry is on his first overseas trip, and on the second leg of his journey, he visited with German college students in Berlin. In response to a question related to free speech, Kerry made a vigorous case in defense of American values, including freedom of speech, religious freedom, and the “right to be stupid if you want to be.”

Reuters reports:

"People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it's the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another," he added.
"The reason is, that's freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be," he said, prompting laughter. "And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.
"And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that's a virtue. I think that's something worth fighting for," he added. "The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view."

4. McDonald’s Employees Better Paid than Weight Watchers According To An Employee


Weight Watchers logo amid employee unrest
Weight Watchers is trying to contain the anguish and frustrations of their front line employees across the country, as the weight loss evangelists who lead local meetings and work with the public, haven’t had a pay increase in over ten years.

The New York Times  Steven Greenhouse reports:

Tammy Williams became a Weight Watchers leader in Texas five years ago after losing 97 pounds in the program. The supplies that she handles fill a bedroom in her home, and she holds four meetings a week advising more than a hundred customers about the diet regimen.
“We are professionals, we have to dress nice, but we are paid less than kids who work at McDonald’s,” Weight Watchers leader Tammy Williams told the Times.
The $18 base pay for leading meetings hasn't increased in more than a decade. Employees also say  they receive no mileage reimbursement for the first 40 miles driven each day.
CEO David Kirchoff told employees in an email that one of the company's "top priorities is  to improve your working life at Weight Watchers."
I imagine that an increase in the minimum wage would help the Weight Watchers employees. So that’s another reason why the minimum wage must be raised. Let's get it done!


Indiana restaurateur Art Bouvier helped a young man get a job

5. Feel Good Department: A Ten Mile Walk In The Freezing Cold Feels Good

An Indiana restaurant owner was salting the ice outside his restaurant one morning last week , after an ice storm had struck the area.  A young guy was walking past, and stopped and asked the restaurateur for directions to a business that was six or seven miles away.

Art Bouvier,gave him directions and told the young guy to take a bus, because it was too cold and too far to walk. The guy thanked him for the directions and advice, and went on his way.

Fifteen minutes later Art and his wife were driving to a coffee shop, and saw the young guy walking toward his destination, so they offered him a ride. Jhaqueil Reagan, 18, of Indianapolis, told Bouvier that he didn’t have the money for the bus, and that he was heading for a job interview at a local thrift shop. He also shared that his mother had died a couple years before, and that he had dropped out of high school to take care of his two younger siblings.

Melissa Knowles at Yahoo News  writes:

After hearing the teen's story, Bouvier told Reagan that even if he was offered the thrift  shop job, he would hire him and double his salary. Bouvier was impressed with the teen's  ambition and work ethic. Reagan accepted the job, and his first day was Monday. He cannot  believe how everything turned out for him saying, "My heart’s just racing right now. I’m just too excited, just excited to start."
Bouvier wanted to share the encounter with his friends, so he wrote about it on Facebook. The story is going viral, with more than 15,000 likes so far. People are applauding the teen's work ethic and Bouvier's generosity.
One person wrote, "you are a blessing from above, and some good will come to you." Another added, "so kindness does exist? Warms my heart!"
It warms my heart too.




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February 26, 2013

Sensible Republicans File Supreme Court Brief In Support Of Marriage Equality

The Republican Party's symbolic elephant


Just two days after Republican Louisiana governor Bobby “the bigot” Jindal told Meet the Press moderator David Gregory that the GOP could be anti-gay and win elections, a more moderate group of sensible Republicans politely disagreed.

At least 75 prominent Republican party politicians have signed an amicus brief that’s been filed with the Supreme Court of the United States, that supports invalidating California’s Proposition 8, and the Defense of Marriage Act, because they believe that gay people have the right to marry.

Former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, and former candidate for California governor Meg Whitman, signed the brief.

According to New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, this amicus brief reflects the “civil war” that’s going on in the Republican party today.

The Proposition 8 case already has a powerful conservative supporter: Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general under Mr. Bush and one of the suit’s two lead lawyers. The amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief is being filed with Mr. Olson’s blessing. It argues, as he does, that same-sex marriage promotes family values by allowing children of gay couples to grow up in two-parent homes, and that it advances conservative values of “limited government and maximizing individual freedom.”
Legal analysts said the brief had the potential to sway conservative justices as much for the prominent names attached to it as for its legal arguments. The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH), President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, Reagan Administration Budget Director and former Congressman David Stockman, former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and Senator John McCain’s 2008 campaign senior advisor and MSNBC political analyst Steve Schmidt, signed this brief too.
“We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8,” said Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who came out as gay several years ago. He is on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the California suit, and has spent months in quiet conversations with fellow Republicans to gather signatures for the brief.
In making an expansive argument that same-sex marriage bans are discriminatory, the brief’s signatories are at odds with the House Republican leadership, which has authorized the expenditure of tax dollars to defend the 1996 marriage law. The law defines marriage in the eyes of the federal government as the union of a man and a woman.
House Speaker John Boehner has committed millions of dollars in government funds to defend the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the actions of these prominent Republicans could drive a larger wedge into the fissure that separates the sensible moderates in the party, and the extremist fringe.



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GOP Problem Child: Ann Coulter Just Can't Shut Up


GOP problem child Ann Coulter

More than a few people have noted that GOP problem child Ann Coulter, had diarrhea of the mouth at a gathering of Libertarian college students. Fox News reporter John Stossel asked Coulter a number of questions, and her vitriolic commentary reflected the neo-conservative party line that she’s long hitched her broomstick to. She was jeered and booed as a result.

I’ve always looked at Ann Coulter as an entertainer, not a political pundit. She loves pushing people’s buttons, and loves making controversial remarks. That’s her shtick, and she’s taken her hate, and found an audience that buys her shitty books and shares her narrow worldview. These are the very people that are destroying the Republican party.

The original video clip was nearly ten minutes long, and I edited the clip so that it’s about two minutes long. I took the liberty of superimposing my editorial comments over Miss Coulter’s venomous spewing head, to counter her objectionable neo-con opinions, but it didn’t work. So I positioned the commentary on the side of her venomous spewing head, and you can actually read the text, so I think it's more effective.



This short video clip is emblematic of the serious problems that exist within the Republican party.

At the New Now Next blog, Matt Crowley described the video and Coulter in terms that I agree with. The blog post is entitled Ann Coulter Gets Gross About Gay Marriage, Is A Worthless Bitch: Watch. Matt wrote:

Ann Coulter’s unique charms were on full display during a recent debate with John Stossel in front of a room of libertarian students. She defends the war in Iraq and the war on drugs and calls libertarians pussies. Seriously, you can almost see her fighting to stay afloat as she clings frantically to the waterlogged corpse of the GOP.
Perhaps most embarrassing of all was Coulter on the subject of gay marriage. When asked why gay people couldn’t marry like straight people could, Coulter said, ”Well, they can. They have to marry a member of the opposite sex,” drawing boos from the crowd. She countered that libertarians are “sucking up” to liberals on this issue, saying, “Marriage is the most important institution to civilize young people.” 
She continued, “Liberals want to destroy the family so that you will have one loyalty – and that is to the government.” That line, at least, got a big laugh, and as we know, Ann Coulter can’t stand the sound of human joy.
In 2011 Asawin Suebsaeng wrote about Coulter for Mother Jones, after the extremist GOProud named her honorary chair of their advisory council.
Coulter claims to be a "friend of the gays" while simultaneously saying that leftists are using them (and the blacks and the feminists and the single mothers) to "destroy the family" with the "made-up" concept of marriage equality.
Coulter is not a “friend of the gays” and her show business act is tired. Until her party realizes that she’s a part of their poisonous brand, she’ll sink her fangs into anyone within reach. With any luck, she'll sink those fangs into her lifeless party too.




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