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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bety Crocker VS The Holy Bible

The following thoughts are owned by Danny Klecko and are in no way-shape, or form intended to be considered fact.

Do you know what the Chihuahua's purpose in the scheme of things are?

Tick Tock - Tick Tock and the answer is.......

Chihuahua's came into their prime in Mexico where they were used as guard dogs. However they didn't actually do any of the attacking, instead they were kinda used as sirens.

These little guys traveled in large packs and would use their tremendous eyesight to spot predators along the security perimeter and then they would collectively bark out in their high pitch howl.

I have a safety net that looks out for my best interest as well, her name is Sue McGleno.

When you look at the Klecko list of shortcoming's, the item on there that annoys her the most is my ability to be so impressionable.

That's why throughout most of my marriage you have seen her running several miles in front of me.

But in a way, it's not a totally bad fault.

Klecko has always followed people more than systems.

Systems are flawed and lack "shine" without an authorship.

Let me explain to you my point, and how it can impact not only they way you cook or bake, but maybe how you live your life as well.

When I learned how to cook, I pretty much had the Betty Crocker Cookbook stapled to my coat sleeve. I didn't sign up for an official course.

Instead I just committed myself to the contents teachings.

Some items turned out great, and other experiments almost burst down my house, but none the less, after a couple of years I worked myself through the book and gained some confidence in the skills that I had obtained.

I almost never go back to it as a reference point anymore.

Why would I? I lived it.

When I was a younger man, working second shift, I'd come home each night between 1 and 2 in the morning.

As you can imagine, there wasn't a lot to do, and I had a high maintenance baby that would wake like an alarm at 2 and 5.

It really wasn't worth trying to sleep, this only cost me more aggravation.

So for the next 3 years i just studied the Bible.

There's a difference between reading, and studying you know.

I used a Strong's Concordance and Green's Interlinear to break down the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

In many respects this period of my life grounded me in my spirituality.

I tied together concepts that were important, and then did my best to construct a game plan of how to pursue my life.

Yes...I made a game plan which was not steeped in thought, hopes or ideology, it's cornerstone was action.

When you use those instructions as to how to assemble your your kids swing set, do you hold onto them after it's constructed, maybe a little dented or rusty, sitting in your back yard?

I doubt it.

But the older I get, the more I see people clinging to "instructions" instead of "actions" or the intermingling with people.

Now don't be a complete dolt and leave this posting saying.......

"Klecko told us not to crack open our cook books or religious scriptures."

I would never say that.

I'm just saying Polish Jesus doesn't want his children tugging on his sleeve every second of the day asking for help, permission and guidance.

He wants people who can implement his tools, and use those tools to build temples of love.

You don't need bricks for that kiddo, just patience and confidence.

Now here I go lining my self up with the Messiah...LOL, trust me, he told me it's OK.

Klecko doesn't want people thinking, imagining that they will become better bakers by sending him a Facebook request for a recipe. He want's to hear questions about "technique."

Just yesterday I got an e-mail from Craig Jermasek.

He was my older neighbor from the Mormon house next door. In previous posts I mentioned how his family basically raised me.

He wrote asking for tips, and setbacks that are common when making Angel food cake.

That's the way to go about things.

Don't ask people to do your culinary work for you, ask them to teach you how to be a person of action.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dateline Moscow - Nailiya the Muslim

On my 3rd tour of Russia, my friends at the Moscow HQ decided to reward me.

In the past, I had pretty much said I would take any baking scope, even the ones where angels feared to tread.

So on my last campaign they started me off at the University of Moscow Cooperation.

This facility is set up in the suburbs of Moscow, and attracts not only the brightest young minds that their country has to offer, but since it is part of the "Cooperation" program, you get intellectuals from across the globe attending here as well.

I've mentioned this in the past, but when you go anywhere on a "scope" the Russians will assign you an interpreter that always seems to be a young woman that looks stunning.

So much of what takes place in the Russian business culture is predicated on looks. Its a shoe in that candidates for positions have impressive college credentials, but one thing that many people don't know about the Motherland is the ratio of chicks to dudes has gotta be 3 to 1 or 4 to 1.

In America when you talk to people about losses their families suffered during the second world war, every 4th or 5th person might tell you of an Uncle or neighbor, but in Russia....EVERY SINGLE FAMILY took a hit and lost not just one, but multiple members.

Since WW2, Russia has been reported to be the slowing repopulating country on the planet.

When I did most of my work over there, it was during the Putin administration. He and his constituents set up incentive programs that would reward young Russian couples for having babies, I think they receaved something like 10K per kid.

Corperations are kind of a trip over there as well.

Most department heads are women, and here too, many of the promotions are not based exclusivly on merit...you have to be "HOT" as well.

I think it might of been General Electric that had a branch over there, and they produced calenders and sexy time billboards to promote their product lines.

Each month of the calender, it revealed a different scantily clad (if not naked) executive who used different light bulbs from the product line to cover her.....areas of shame LOL.

I shouldn't laugh because this appears to me to be exploitation, but at the same time....the woman over there don't seem to be bothered by this, in fact I will be as bold as to say they covet this position.

In many respects their sexuality has given them a position of power, laditude to have an impact on their own destiny.

So there I am at Moscow H.Q. and Irina (the woman who puts together the recruits with the interpreters) tells me that she is going to "attach me" to her favorite of all the guides.

The womans name was Nailiya

As I sat fidgeting in silence, I wondered what qualities would make somebody Irina's fave.

Moments later, a short women with skin 2 shades darker than olive literally limped into our presence.

This woman was far from the stereotypical knockout I had been accustomed to. In fact, she was pretty normal, just like the rest of us.

On the first day of our assignment Nailya prepped me by explaining her credentials.

She was a lawyer who lost faith in justice running it's natural course.

Several years prior an auto ran into her, crushing her leg, but since the drunkard who hit her was well connected in the "Mob" there was nothing she could do.

This outcome ate away at her, it infected her soul she told me.

Now when most interpreters get assigned to an American, typically they are only on the clock for 8 hours, but when the work is complete, my experience had always been that they loved to hit the town and make merry with their unique escort.

This wasn't the case with Nailiya.

In addition to being a little pissed off, and a little less glam than some of her collegues, there was one other thing that set her apart from the rest.

She was a Muslim.

For close to a decade she had been the voice for buisness professionals from across the world. This kid had been to the rodeo before.

Even my Klecko charm didn't seem to entice her all that much, to be honest...the girl was all about the paycheck.

So our first day we went from one lecture hall to the next. I wore a chef's jacket that had an American flag sewn on the arm, and sun glasses that Bono would have coveted.

I was pretty up to date with Russian hip hop, and their reality TV shows as well.

The cooler they thought I was.....the less impressed Nailiya became with me.

So our first day is complete. We are actually staying in a dorm instead of a hotel, and I'll bet it's only 4;30ish.

Nailiya takes me to my room and comes in to survey my accommodations.

I'm guessing she wants to make sure the space meets her requirements...not mine.

"Daniel, you have a bed as you can see, and an alarm clock. If you get hungry, go downstairs and the kitchen will prepare something for you to eat."

Then she left.

Dude, seriously, that was it, nothing else. just a bed and an alarm clock and 18 more hours before somebody would be forced to be my friend again.

So I went outside for like what....20 minutes? It was a college campus, people were in constant flux.

I stood amongst many.

I stood all alone, I hoped death would take me.

Now I go back into my room and pull a book out of my backpack. I think I read 6 minutes, but then I got pissed cuz I didn't want to read.

So I decided I was just going to sit in these spartan conditions for the next 17 hours. I wouldn't even try to fight it.

But God loves simple minds I think.

I'll bet I was only 10 minutes into my pouting rant, and all of a sudden....

KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK!

At home, Klecko hates the unannounced drop in. Only 3 or 4 people have the swag to get away with that, but on this occasion, when I heard those knuckles bouncing off my sheet metal door....JOY-RAPTURE!

So I popped out of bed like a catcher when he's going to throwing out some guy stealing 2nd and fling my door open.

Sweet Jesus of the Omaha IHOP.....standing at my threshold were 2 smoking hot college girls.

I liked this.

Neither one of them could speak English, but they held up "Timothy" CD's. he was the top rapper in Russia at that period and I had talked about him during my presentation.

The girls moved efficiently enough, while the first one began pointing to photos on the CD cover, the second one slammed the door shut and both of my new friends sauntered across the room and made themselves comfortable on my bed.

OMG.....this was that dream that I used to have everyday in 8th grade study hall, and it was coming true.

When stuff like this happens, if you take time to figure out what should be done, you will most certainly make poor choices.

So just like Joesph with Potiphars wife, I turned tail and basically dove out of my room.

"Polish Christ, please let Nailiya be in her room."

I repeated this several times and lo and behold, she answered her door, but she had a look of being annoyed, as if she thought she made herself clear that she wasn't my "entertainment."

I told her exactlly what was taking place and then for the first time, she kinda cracked a smile.

Within seconds she dropped the hammer on those coeds with the might of a beast! Those 2 young ladies fled into a stairwell w/o even looking back.

"Daniel, it is not my business, but may I ask why you got me? Did you not want to have a situation with these women?"

That's when I explained to her that "Yes" I really did, but my wife on the other hand, she might have a different opinion on the matter.

From that moment on Nailiya liked me.

In fact she decided to leave her room and take me for a 4 or 5 hour walk.

We discussed many topics, but the one I remember the most is when she asked why so many Americans feel so compulsed to volunteer.

I was told this charactor trait is not typical at all in Russia.

I had never thought about that.

Volunteering just seems natural if you're an American I guess, but as we circled the duck pond specifically built for a series of high rise apartment complexes I gave the topic further consideration.

"I am not an expert on why people volunteer in my country more than yours, but if you forced me to come up with an immediate answer, I might say it's because the biggest difference between our 2 countries is that many people in America love God, and when this is the case, it is not uncommon to put the needs of others before your own."

Nailiya took my answer and put it into her thoughts, and for the next few minutes I could almost see her mind circling this idea, but eventually her interest seemed to fade.

The following moring as we made our 1/2 mile walk to the building we were supposed to report to, Nailiya walked slower than usual.

Neither of us had spoken much, I thought perhaps she didn't enjoy mornings so I just shifted my focus to the wild dog packs that lived on the campus, but then my guide asked if we could resume our conversation from the previous evening.

When I agreed, this is what she told me.

"I think you may be correct. As a Muslim, I know how important it is to have faith in God. Even if people have different God's, the world is a better place if people subscribe to some form of morality.
In Russia, our country used to love God, everybody did, but then the Communist's pushed this belief out of the people, or I guess you could say we as a country let them, but since we have turned out backs, many hardships have fallen on this country. It saddens me to tell you this, but sometimes I think that if we suffer through one more major crisis, we may lose God for good."

If you want my opinion......Nailiya the Muslim is w/o a doubt the most beautiful woman in all of Russia.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Depp and Pitt VS Klecko, and Russian Chocolate

Some of my inside peeps contacted me and let me know that PEOPLE Magazine is having a hard time deciding who the "Sexiest Man of the Year" is going to be, but apparently they have it whittled down to 3 candidates.

Brad Pitt,Johnny Depp and of course.....Danny Klecko are this years front runners.

One thing that most of you may not know is that in addition to our exceedingly good looks, another thing that we have in common is that we were all born in 1963.

We were all born in the year of the rabbit.

Johnny is the oldest of our special group, he was born on June 9th.

I am the thread that holds our trio together. I was born in the middle on July 8th.

I'm betting it's no surprise to any of you that Brad is the baby of our bunch, he's December 18th. He was just a couple of weeks away from not making our prestigious club at all.

I don't think PEOPLE can go wrong with whoever they pick,I have mad love & respect for my colleagues of vanity, but none the less, I think I have the best chance of winning, and let me tell you why.

Brad has what....27 kids?

This means that he always will have jelly stains on his linen pants, and he's married to Angelina Jolie, whom Johnny Depp co starred with in that "Tourist" movie with.

For that movie Depp had hair extensions made by a world famous wig maker, Klecko on the other hand has new millennium Amadeus hair, and it's 100% natural.

He owns it, and rocks it, like nobody else can.

Also, Klecko does not have to "act" when making movies about falling in love with Russian agents, He's married to the Russian / Jew super model who is certainly the most attractive women east of the Volga.

But, my publicist told me that the Depp camp needs this award badly. They have been an "arrow down" lately and are trying desperately to resurrect Johnny's career.

Apparently they have gone as far as sending Willy Wonka chocolate bars in their press kits, hoping that a hit to the sweet tooth may steer some votes their way.

My publicist retaliated by setting up an intimate interview which was conducted by Oprah where I wouldn't necessarily give chocolate to the judging panel.

I would give them something better, hope.....with a true story that occurred where the worlds favorite flavor was the focal point.

3-2-1.......action!

I was teaching in the southwest of Russia, about an hour from the Black Sea at the University of Krasnodar.

My chief task was to teach people of the region about ingredients from the outside world.

Russia is a closed country in many respects.

Part of the reason is that their territory is so massive, its gotta be hard enough transporting goods across their own property.

Up until 2010, they used to have 11 time zones, but now I think they are down to 9.

Either way, it is a huge chunk of property.

So Klecko's in this lecture hall and business professionals from all across the land are coming in to see what the American has to offer them.

I am not the only person on the slate though, there will be other business people who have "Lenny Kravitz" popularity, you know....a name that everybody knows, but when they think about it....they wonder why?

So the event kicks off.

My interpreter Natalia tells me that it is customary that the key note speaker goes first. this way if some of the "business professionals" want to ditch out early they can.

"Blah-Blah-Blah" Klecko spews his thoughts. While shedding insight to his esteemed guests, but he secretly laughs in his head when he stops to think......

"OMG, this could be really good, or really bad for our countries relations. How many people would be comfortable knowing that I am speaking on behalf of the entire nation?"

I crushed it though.

People applauded with enthusiasm so I felt really good.

Now that I was done, I wanted to stay for the remainder of the presentation, but I wanted to do it from my comfort zone.

The back row.

If Klecko cannot be under the spotlight, or preforming, he'd just assume be out of the worlds sight all together.

So me and Natalia slide to the back and then some gruff looking uptight dude takes the stage.

He was the chancellor of dean or whatever the word is for the top person at the university.

According to Natalia, dude was dropping so much love on me that I thought he might skip to the back of the auditorium and hop in my lap.

Instead he introduced his next guest, a young food science women who wad graduating from the U that year and she would be discussing.....chocolate technologies.

I began laughing, not so much at the woman, or the topic for that matter, but I was starting to realize that EVERYTHING in Russia was a technology.

If you walked down a Russian street and some kid named Ivan was selling lemon aid, I guarantee he would want to explain the "technology" of lemon juice levels compared to sugar.

So anyways, the young woman walks onto the stage, and she is wheeling out a cart that has an arrangement of fruits, pretzels, small unfrosted cake pieces and things like that.

Everybody is curious where this thing is going, right?

Well next she wheels out another cart with a little fountain on it. After placing it in the middle of the stage she plugs it in, we hear a humming, and then chocolate begins trickling out some spouts.

This was one of those fountains that you'd buy at Super Target for around 40 bucks and use it for your daughters 8th birthday parties.

But this "technology" was new to Russians and the woman who was presenting was so enthused.

When the presentation was complete, the chancellor walked back onto the stage. And when he talked it appeared to me that he was pissed.

But you gotta be careful reading Russians expressions, if you don't know the language because for all you know, they might just be asking for directions to Taco Bell.

But my suspicions were confirmed, dude was not only going off on her, he was taunting her, and her "stupid toy" in front of over 100 of her peers, some of which may have been her next employer.

Natilia was fuming. She tried her best to translate for me, but at times she just swore in disgust.

If there is one thing, the main thing I hate in the world is shame. I have felt it too many times and I wouldn't wish that feeling on Judas, Satan or the New York Yankee's.

But I was a guest, a stranger in a strange land.

Most of you guys know me well enough by now to know that I enjoy making a story better, even at the risk of adding a little embellishment, but you would be doing the ending of this experience a disservice if you don't believe me when I tell you that this is exactly how the dealio played out.

Even from the back row I could see how sullen this young woman had become. I began thinking about how much time she put into chopping the 500 or 800 different pieces of stuff.

Or how thrilled she must have been when that fountains arrived UPS.

And here stands some fat lout that has money, position and platform....and he's using it to tear apart one of his own.

I was 50 yards away from the woman, but you don't need binoculars to see confidence go bankrupt. you can smell it. It has an odor all its own.

At that moment I swear to you, I looked up at the ceiling and in my head told Polish Jesus that this had to come to a stop. I told him that I was fearful of what I might do if he didn't intervene.

I swear to Caesar, just as I was finishing up my supplications, the chancellor looked back in our direction and appeared to ask a question.

Natalia said that he was curious if "such a toy" was known in America, or if our people was gravitate to "such a thing?"

I have never been a liar, but for the next 2 minutes I just made up statements which I qualified by pulling bogus statistics out of my butt.

"I find this technology fascinating. I have seen items like this, but only in Hollywood movies. I come from the center of America and we do not have such lavish things.

I did not catch everything this young lady said during her presentation since I struggle with your language, but yes, I could see how such an instrument could drive both ancillary and future sales.

In my country 78% percent of food sales go through the woman of the house, and 89% of American women have declared chocolate to be their favorite flavor.

Can you imagine? You have what....$100 worth of items here? Just think if you brought this to a wedding, or a political event how much more you could charge.

I find it fascinating."

So now I grab Natalia by the arm and start walking towards the stage w/o knowing if this would breech protocol.

I asked Natalia to translate the following.....

"If you don't mind, I would like to inspect this more closely. I want to understand this technology so I can tell the people where I live what the progressive businesses in Russia are doing."

and then I popped onto the stage, dipped a pretzel rod in the chocolate and made a big deal out of it with my facial expression. I motioned for everybody to join us on the stage, and they did.

As people filed down the aisle the chancellor said with great pride.....

"Who would have thought? We have a technology that the Americans do not!"

The audience roared with approval.

As everybody began dipping and and making merry, many of the people elbowed their way towards the woman who gave the presentation.

But before she answered their questions, she pushed passed the people that were taking over the stage. Much like Rocky's girlfriend had to navigate her way through that mob to get to Rocky at the end of the first fight against Apollo Creed.

When she stood in front of me, she didn't say a thing. Her eyes were all watery, but then she put her hand on my shoulder and continued showing her gratitude with silence and touch.

Polish Jesus.....I give thanks unto thee.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Madonna Does Moscow !!!!!!!

During my first baking tour of Russia, I spent a lot of my time in the Arctic.

My job was to go into concepts, evaluate their operations, and figure out if their production methods were profitable.

Whenever I toured facilities in a professional capacity, I always had an interpreter sent along with me.

Now I've worked production long enough to know that that if some "specialist" came into my shop, and furthermore....if that cat can't even speak my language,I'm pretty much gonna hate them.

Odds are they are going to do nothing but spew false wisdom to my superiors, and I'm the one who that will end up getting buried under their avalanche of opinions.

Keeping that in mind, as the specialist, you are doing the peeps who set you out globetrotting a disservice if you become overly friendly as well.

So me and and my Russian voice named Mosha were sent to an Arctic cafe/restaurant that opens for specially catered events. In some respects its the Siberian equivalent to a V.F.W. or American Legion.

This place, like most Russian concepts was inspired by French cuisine, but the front of the house was throwing off an old world Oriental vibe.

The entire staff was made up of women.

There were cooks and bakers at this place.

The cooking crew was comprised of locals, while the bakestaff were trasplants from the southwestern part of the country. Their skin tone was darker, and if i didn't have a Russian airline ticket in my pocket, I might of been duped into thinking I was in Greece.

Throughout the first couple of days, I would hear laughter through out the building, but then when I would enter the room where the merriment was coming from.....everybody would dummy up.

Mosha told me that they were nervous that I would send in reports that may cost them their jobs, and in the Arctic, there just isn't a lot of oppurtunities.

The last thing you want to do is watch an operation where people are preforming in fear. it won't give you a true sence of how things truly work there.

What I needed was an in.

I needed to show these people that I was basically (and I say this in complete affection) a loser just like them LOL.

So a little bit later that day when we were in the oven room. I saw an opening. In the corner they had a little transistor radio that blared out Russian pop hits.

The music was loud enough where you could hear it if the baking equipment was shut off, but when machines were turned on, the droning kinda shrouded the music.

I'm not sure if hearing has a peripheral, but in the corner of my ear I thought I heard a familiar song humming. so I told Mosha to tell the women who was mixing baguette dough in the hallway to stop the mixer for a second.

She did, and lo and behold.....Klecko had to smile as he heard.....

"Like a virgin, touched for the very first time.Like a virgin, with your heartbeat next to mine."

When I started to sing along, women from the kitchen even ran into the oven room.

All of a sudden, 1000 hens were clucking at Mosha, who by this time was overwhelmed and laughing in unison.

"What, what, what are they saying?" Klecko asked, but Mosha was still processing sentances from here fellow countrymen.

"Daniel, the women are very excited to let you know that the A-mer-i-cone Madonna is coming to Russia in August. They want to know if she is still a superstar back where you live."

The honest truth was that she really wasn't. This was around the time in her career where she was spending her "creative time" hanging out with 19 year olds and doing yoga and Kabbalah studies.

But I didn't want to break these nice peoples hearts.

Hells-Bells, the concert was taking place in their nations capitol which is what.....like 5000 miles away from this Siberian restaurant? And these chicks were acting as if the dealio was going down in their own back yard.

So now they all go silent,and are standing in a semi circle while waiting for my response.

Realizing that this was my chance to make my in, I smiled at Mosha and issued the following answer.

"Yeah, I saw that Madonna was coming to your country. When I was in Moscow last week, I saw billboards of her plastered all over the city. it looks like it is going to be a big show.

In answer to your question as to whether she is still popular in the U.S.A., not so much. Everyone in America has slept with her by now. We're getting a little bored with her."

This last part made Mosha blush, she almost had a look of terror on her face. She ended up trying to negotiate my response.

"Daniel, I can not say what you have asked me to. it is not proper and may cause offense. May I rephrase your answer in my own words."

I refused to reliquish my statement.

I reminded her that the American goverment was paying her salary, so if I wanted to tell these people that my entire country has slept with Madonna and we were sick of her. She had to comply.

So as you can imagine, the crowd was wondering what the big hold up was and started to demand answers.

When Mosha repeated what I had said.....I heard laughter like I hadn't since I was back in my shop.

Now these ladies knew that I was a moronic food service worker, just like them.

I had earned their trust.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Bombay Stalker & Fighting Ronnie from Jersey Shore

Last night I took my son and J-Mo to the Twins / Mariners game at Target field.

J-Mo, like my son, was a captain on the Highland Park Football squad that won the Twin Cities championship.

My kid was the center and ran things on the O-line, where J-Mo was the middle linebacker, he broke the school record for most tackles in just 2 seasons.

So the 3 of us are waiting on my friend Doug Skipper. He's the one who is holding onto the tickets, and we can't get in to watch batting practice until he arrives.

In front of the ballpark is a statue of former Twins great Harmon Killebrew. This is where Skipper makes his "dates" meet him before each game. However, as usual, Skipper is running 15 minutes behind, so the 3 of us are just basically standing around with our hands in our pockets.

The sad part about waiting there is that Harmon died just a few days ago, and a disease called depression starts creeping into my thoughts.

It's 4;43 pm, just that point of the day where a "real guy" starts to crash one last time before they catch their last wind of the day.

Now all these white haired mourners begin flocking towards the monument like they were visiting Elvis at Graceland.

Instead of throwing roses and brassieres though, these folks are chucking baseball cards and crumpled uniforms at the foot of the statue.

I loved Harmon as Christ loves the church, but it was that time of the afternoon. I was crabby, Skipper was late, and I just wanted to sit down.

As the boys talked, softly I started laughing.

They looked in my direction and asked what was so funny?

I replied that I just noticed how both of these young men had both of their ears pierced with dainty / jeweled studs, and I threw in that if Killer were still alive he'd probably b**** slap both of them.

J-Mo laughed but of course my son got pissed and wanted to retaliate.

Like me he was beat so he didn't put much effort into attack.

Feebly he looks at his co captain and exclaims.....

"You wanna know how out of touch my dad is? When were were watching Jersey Shore, he said that he could take Ronnie the Juicehead (slang for steroid user) in a fight."

Now J-Mo, like my son, has just come back into the cities from his first year at college. He's studying to be a cop and my son's statement cracks him up.

"Tydus, your dad would whip the s*** out of Ronnie, it wouldn't even be close."

Now my kid is actually upset. Just when his stare was turning reptilian, he realized that his present powers where not strong enough to defeat the both of us, so instead he chose to reel in his facial anger.

He simply did not want us to have the victory.

J-Mo continued....

"Dude, I'm not even making this up, Ronnie's huge, but he's a p****."

I chimed in that in series #1 there was that episode when he fought a middle age man my size, and the old ruffian gave the muscle head a black eye. When the 2 fell to the pavement, Ronnie had no ground attack.

J-Mo chimed in....

"Yeah, I saw that episode. when they went down, Ronnie was on top and all he did was started flailing punches. He should have went for the face before opening up the sides."

Then in a tone of excitement that I shouldn't be proud of, I interrupted J-Mo...

"I would of started off head butt to nose, head butt to cheek bone, and then I'd throw down elbow hammers!"

LOL, J-Mo had the same look that the Scarecrow returned to Dorothy when she said she was going to score him a heart.

This look of Joy & Rapture was more than my son could bare, so being a dad, I realized it was time to pull back the reigns.

"Listen kid,I'm not trying to come off as a street fighter. I'm old, but that's kinda my point.I really think if me and Jersey Shore Ronnie got into a thing, and it began to escalate, I'd have to take him out of the equation before he even knew the conflict was going to turn physical."

Ty looks and shakes his head on a swivel....

"So you're saying you'd sucker punch him?"

J-Mo ran to my rescue and finished my response before I could start it.

"He didn't say sucker punch, he just said he'd finish it first. Sometimes in this world, you do, what you gotta do, and worry about explanations later."

So now I told my kid that I'd buy him nachos if he dropped it, and decided to love his father for the rest of the night.

My kids a nacho whore. The deal was done.

Skipper shows up now, and our foursome ambles into the park.

Me and Doug cut free and sat on the 3rd base line, by the foul pole, as the boys went into left field to shag home runs during the Mariners B.P.

So Skipper orders us a couple of beers and begins telling me a story about the time Dan Fogelberg snatched his racket ball racket in Wyoming to play racket ball, and then I hear a loud screaming coming from the left field porch.....

"Dad - Dad I got a ball!!!!"

This proclamation wasn't uttered by my biological son, but yeah...you guessed it, J-Mo held a now scuffed up official MLB baseball over his head.

He had such a look of pride.

When the boys came back, Tydus told me that J-Mo went horizontal in the air and crashed into the seats, beating out 1/2 dozen louts in order to take home this $6 keep sake.

When I asked who hit the homer, both kids looked at each other with uncertainty.

I suggested that since Ichiro was the most famous, that we should be in agreement that he hit it.

So after that, all of us took pictures with J-Mo's souvenir, declaring that we had each caught this priceless treasure and put them up on our Facebook walls.

I received 20 some comments, but over 1/2 of these people congratulated me with a pound of trepidation attached.

After finishing his nacho's, it started to get dark and Ty's vampire blood must of kicked in. He became cheerful now and requested that I tell J-Mo about the time I blew my top with Camel.

Now I've told this story dozens of times, and I almost always soften it. Often times I even change the guys name (it's actually Kamal) because I don't want to throw bad karma at him and have it bounce back on me, but my kid knows my secrets and he wants the legit version.

The story about Kamal, or the outcome of our story in fact are not even the compelling part story. The part that interests me is the preface.

Today in America many people live in a PC world.

The Media reports in a P.C. fashion, they'd like you to believe that the whole world is comprised of happy/mindless soldiers that line up without question, and from that moment on, everybody is going to be treated fairly.

Corporations, H.R, Educational Institutions, The Artistic and Environmental communities, they too think that there are no more shadows left on the planet that can hide name callers and savages.

LOL, they are so wrong, they have never worked in a restaurant.

Working culinary gigs is akin to laying down in a pit of vipers.

A lot of chef's compare their work place to a pirate ship or the wild west is another descriptive scenario that I've seen freely launched..

We could spend all night discussing sociological, physiological or economic reasons for why this is, but just for tonight let's just drop that part of the convo and instead agree to agree that "It is what it is" and that will suffice for the moment.

Have you ever watched prison movies?

Have you ever seen the unthinkable things that take place behind bars?

In someways a restaurant is a segue between anarchy and emancipation.

Prisons have bars, and the physical presence of them eats into the convicts minds.

Food Service Workers don't experience that, but in some ways can their plight be more surreal?

Peeps in the Food Show might not have bars holding them back, but instead they seem to be surrounded by a strong force field that holds them back from opportunity.

When you step into a concept for your first day of work, the employees might not whistle at you and call you "Fresh Meat", but most of the times they'll kinda do the opposite.

They ignore you.

New Guy is just doing what they can, but almost every crew has a numbers of "Lifers" on it, and these guys haves seen 1000's of people use their vocation as a pit stop.

I think in some sense when a Lifer encounters the newbie, this moment can be empowering, and humiliating at the same time.

Kamal was an alcoholic that worked computer tech. For whatever reason he had to work with us part time to make his ends meet. Who knows, maybe he was trying to send money back to Bombay.

When a new person submerges themselves into a bakery. There are written rules, but there are unwritten rules as well.

Kamal broke all kinds of unwritten rules........

#1 - He wasn't able to move quick or find what we call "3rd gear" which basically means that you have to move with an element of speed that is almost uncomfortable or disaster will strike.

#2 - He showed up 6 minutes late, 8 minutes late, 12 minutes late. One thing I will say for Food Service workers, almost all of them take a HUGE amount of pride in being punctual.

#3 - Maybe the worst rule that Kamal broke was to to ask for logical explanations when he was asked to do something. In a production area....explanations are sacrilege.

The nice thing about being a Non Supervisor is having the ability to play the "Nut Roll."

"I don't know, that's how we've always done it" or "I dunno, the foreman said I had to, I was just following orders."

Those 2 sentences are so cruise control, some guys make a career out of using those 2 lines exclusively.

But when Kamal started questioning unwritten precedents, that's when the mob turned on him.

That's when the crew started calling him Camel.

I know that if this were a Disney flick, some good egg would stick up for him, but you gotta be careful when you're a Lifer, because as soon as the current problem gets set to sea, you'll turn around and find 3 more new ones drifting into port.

When a crew has turned against you, its a wicked - sick thing to see. It's kinda like watching a mentally challenged child light fire crackers with dry fuses that are only 1/72 of an inch long.

The flame doesn't even hit the fuse and "BOOM" .....finger chunks on the floor.

Kamal would walk into the shop, he's already been at his other job, he's already put in an eight hour shift, he'd already had 3 or 4 shots of whatever hard liquor was on special down the street.....and then he would walk in and say.....

"Hi"

That's it, but Jimmy D would just give him the finger while wearing a scarf wrapped around his head, imitating a turban even though it was late July.

Helmut would talk to him in a voice that was shaped after Abu the Indian convenience store clerk from the Simpson's.

Squirrel Head would move to another table if he ever did one of his tasks next to her.

And the list goes on and on.

Typically a normal person, or a person who lives in normal circumstances will quit within a couple of days.

I never liked being a prick to people who struggled to float, but at the same time, I never really wanted to work with somebody who was going to slow me down either.

When people first started calling him Camel, Kamal would take great offense and ask in a polite way for the offender to stop misidentifying him, but they didn't and finally he gave into the tyranny.

These abusive behaviors take place because this is the only way that people w/o education,privilege or position have to control their environment while simultaneously compensating for their lack of confidence.

Entry level Food Service work is brutal, it really is like swimming in a shark tank.

So it's Friday, and I'm the bench foreman, or the night supervisor, I don't exactly recall, but I do remember I was in charge.

Kamal came in late, staggered politely and took forever to roll out his bread sticks.

The staff was on him.

People made references to magic carpets, snake charmers, and every other stereo type you could use to offend an Indian.

My mind started to boil.

It was like the time Phoenix the cat brought baby rabbits into my house and wouldn't kill them, she had to torture them so she could be amused.

I was so angry with her, but she was a cat, and that's how most cats dispense their feline justice.

Those little rabbits had 1/2 their organs hanging out of their body.

I ended up putting them out of their misery by taking their heads off with a hockey stick.

Watching people w/o hope displaying this same behavior is a raw experience.

If you work in the "Real World" you'll cast aspersions at such "Cave Floor" behavior, and who knows...maybe you are right to, but let me submit, w/o necessarily trying to condone.........

Aren't prisons isolated from one another? Well then how is it that each and every one of them share the identical primitive ways of policing themselves?

Is it out of actual necessity, or is it a strange coincidence that each and every one of these institutions have perpetuated cruelty out of boredom to serve no other reason than pleasure?

As usual....I digress, so the peeps were slamming on Kamal, the tin building was scorching hot. the bread orders had filled the building, everything turned upside down for me.

I went over to Kamal and demanded that he pick up the pace or get his f****** a** out of there.

He returned my anger with his own.

He spun around and dialed up his FOF (freak out factor) and gave me this evil glare with his blood shot eyes. Then he began yelling in a shrilled voice.

Some of the employees were laughing, while the other portion were screaming.

OMG...it was like one of those 70's movies were the director uses new camera techniques to display Peter Fonda while he's on LSD.

I snapped, yelled and walked towards Kamal, when he saw me moving forward, he suddenly found his composure.

At this point I was swearing at him, firing him at the top of my lungs and he could of turn around and walked out, but instead he shifted gears and apologized with a soft voice.

I chose not to give him a red carpet to retreat on.

Months passed, I was on the 74D MTC bus downtown. I was about 5 miles from my house at this point.

The bus pulls over to the curb and who gets on the bus?????

Yep, it was Kamal.

Now the bus is like 80% empty, but when Kamal was walking down the aisle, our eyes locked.

He proceeded to continue down the aisle and sit in the seat directly behind me.

This puts me in a lose-lose position.

If I turn around and and monitor his behavior, he has the joy of knowing he has struck fear into my heart.

If I choose not to turn around, I will prove to him that I never paid him the honor of considering his unique circumstances a threat, but that kinda seems like a high price to pay for the possibility of a blade across the larynx.

9 out of 10 times you can count on Klecko to select the Idiot Option.

I didn't look back once.

When the bus pulled up to my stop I thought.....

"Oh-Oh, daddy-o is going to follow me home huh?"

But as I got off the bus, I turned around and he was gone.

He slipped off the bus w/o me hearing a thing.

At first I thought his disappearance was ghostlike, but as I reviewed the circumstances throughout the remainder of the evening, I determined that maybe it was me that has been haunted by some ghosts of my own reality.

As I finished my story, I looked back at my son. He was sending text messages to no one of importance.

I ordered another beer.

The Twins won 2-0

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Chicken Wing Debate

The following is a piece that will be printed in Food Service News, feel free to express your side of the debate.

Dateline – Hickory Hut / University Avenue

There I was, sitting in that corner booth with a pile of lunch in front of me. Hickory Hut chicken wings are more than legendary, they can be hypnotic. The main component in my feasting delay was that I was with my Pastry Chef Gilson, and she was grilling the counter staff as to whether or not the Mac & Cheese was made in house.

After receiving her meal and joining me, I don’t remember if I shrugged my shoulders or rolled my eyes before commenting…..

“Listen kid, you already ruined my street cred when you asked for a Ginger Ale at the Gopher Bar, but to ask if anything is made In House at a place where everything is packaged in Styrofoam is ridiculous!”

I do love Gilson though, at times she has confessed to me that she can be a bit of a food snob, but truth be told, I think she simply expects all food concepts to be run in a civilized manner that align with her perception.

Momentarily the two of us sat in silence, because our dining colleagues were eclectic enough to keep us entertained, but Gilson tired of this quickly and told me a story.

“Last night I went to Scusi with a friend of mine for dinner. We had each ordered drinks and decided what we were going to eat for dinner, but then our server came to our table and introduced himself.

He said he had forgotten if he had formally introduced himself by name. I told him that it wasn’t really necessary since in an hour’s times I probably would forget it.
I think I might have offended him, or maybe shocked him perhaps.”

I slumped into my both horrified exclaiming that this was just a mad fable that my friend was tossing down on me, but to my dismay…she began to laugh.
“Oh Danny, you can be so Midwestern. Do you know what would happen to a server in New York or San Francisco if they pulled a stunt like that?”

When I confessed that I was uncertain, Gilson told me with complete confidence that they would be run out of town. Her analysis was justified with the following reasoning.

“It’s not as if I am in a relationship with this person. To be honest, I want to know as little or nothing about them.”
Then with a wink in her eye she tells me…

“In fact, half the times I go out to dine it’s to get away from life’s doldrums, not to add on to them. So you see, if a server is really good, they’ll understand that. They will explain the specials, tell me to watch out because my plate is hot and keep my drinks coming.”

I was stunned! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
When I revealed that I always sought out my servers name and that I tried to be friendly with them, Gilson started to laugh even harder and then said…

“Yes, I’m sure you do.”

OK, I’d had enough by this point, so it was time to settle matters once and for all. I pulled my Droid out of my pocket, placed it on speaker phone, and called our mutual friend from the TASTE section, Kim Ode.

After brief salutations, Gilson repeated her occurrence from the previous evening and asked if in her opinion, she had thought that some type of protocol had been broken.

Kim didn’t even hesitate with her response, she pounced on it…
“Oh I’m with you Gilson, I don’t like that whole identification thing either, and I think we are seeing the end of becoming friends with people we do business with.”
The girls giggled together because they unified their opinions against a lout.
What do you do when two of the women you love most are in disagreement with you?

Worse yet, what do you do if you think they are miles off the mark?
As always, Klecko likes to start at the dollar sign and work backwards.
What my friends have suggested is that working with nobility will bring these servers the highest wage possible, but I’ve learned long ago, that it is better to work smart, than work noble.

Even people who respect you will underpay you if you leave the outcome up to them.
I don’t care if you are a server or an executive chef, the best way to increase your worth, is to increase your personal visibility.

Just last week I was at a local media event at a Saint Paul restaurant, and for two hours all the Ketel One menu items were free. As you can imagine, everybody was drinking vodka.

When my server set martini’s down for my date and me, I tossed a ten spot onto her tray.

The server literally knelt down, placed her hand on my forearm with a touch of compassion and asked..

“You’re in hospitality, huh?”

When I told her that I was, she said she just knew it, because every other table in her station just ignored her when she brought their drinks.
When it comes to your pay check, never give people the benefit of the doubt.

The story I just illustrated is one of a million scenarios where people will use an opportunity to deny you your entitlement.

Am I saying they do this intentionally? No not at all.
The young woman who was schlepping vodka all night was serving people who were only thinking about themselves. That’s how life usually works.

When a populace of any sort hears the word FREE....they block out the servers involvement, because after all, free is free right?

In the world of hospitality, everybody is out for themselves. If you’ve been in “the show” for even a few short years, you know I’m telling the truth.
So in addition to performing your tasks with moderate proficiency, what’s the quickest way to make more money?

Simple, exude confidence and have a power name.

If you work in a field that hinges on communication, everything starts with a name.
If you’ve been reading my column for awhile, most of you might agree that I have a pretty high opinion of myself, but if I presented these same thoughts with my Christian name McGleno, I wonder how much marketing traction I would have received when I launched myself.

In fact, I believe in this so much that when my son was born, I gave him a completely different last name. When they came in with the birth certificate, I wrote Ty Pharaoh.

The nurse yelled at me and said I couldn’t do that.

She was wrong.

I don’t want to be one of “those” dads, but my kid was the captain of the Highland Park football & baseball squads. The kid has over 700 pounds of trophies.
He’s a natural born leader, he gets the opportunities that he covets, he doesn’t wait for them to come to him.

Recently when I sent him a message on Facebook, I noticed that he had changed his name from Ty to Tydus. When I asked what that was about, he informed me that the swag of his name was being deluded by a growing number of cowboys and rodeo clowns that have copped his brand.

The fact that he understands that all secrets to success start with your name, well it makes me feel some assurance that he won’t ever struggle with a pay check.

I am KLECKO….and I thank you for your time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Klecko's Rapture Good Bye

Tick-Tock goes the clock, and according to all theological accounts, Danny Klecko will be getting whisked away @ 6 p.m. central time, but your favorite bread boy isn't too concerned.

The guy who owns all the radio stations, the guy who is claiming this rapture, he says only about 2% of the population will be getting 'golden tickets" and floating northward bound.

Yeah, I realize the odds are long, almost the same odds that I encountered when I took my drubbing at the Saint Paul Sidewalk Poem contest, but I think R.E.M. summed it up best when they sang.........

"It's the end of the world as we know it....and I feel fine!"

After all, if you really think about the human condition, it doesn't take a lot to know how flawed we are.

To prove my point, I would simply start off by taking you into a public bathroom.

The first thing we'd do is investigate the stall's.

Men from all walks of life, white / black, thin / fat, young / old, rich man / poor man, it doesn't matter....if that stall has a door, they will close it and pee while the toilet seat is in the down position, hence splattering urine on the future launching pad for the next schlep who will stumble in to drop a deuce.

As if that weren't enough, during our unique tour, I fricken guarantee you that some abashed soul will feel self actualized enough to step into the stall next to us and call a casual acquaintance to discuss prices on grills at Menard's.

Are we in agreement? Anyone who talks and turds at the same time should be a candidate for eternal damnation....right?

And of course, I won't even broach the topic of how 68% of dudes who release "stuff" from their body in a public restroom won't wash their hands before reentering into general population.

See, public restrooms are just enough reason for God to pull the plug.

I don't think my dour view of humans just applies to Team Jesus though.

I have coached youth baseball and soccer for over 1/2 my life and I have witnessed Muslims, Hindu's and Buddhists embarrass their doctrine as well.

Once I saw a coach write out his 8 year old baseball batting order by birthdays, guess what?

It just so happened that it was his child's birthday that day and he got to bat first. At the games conclusion...dude asked me to encourage the squad to lift his son off the field on their shoulders and run off the field with a celebratory jog.

Can you believe it? We lost by 7 runs.

You just can't make stuff up like that.

Karma bit that coach in the a** within weeks though, the league was coach pitch and that weird instructor, of my cities youth took a line drive off his left nut.

The following morning they had too (Na-Na-Na-Na-Na Klecko covers his ears and eyes)remove his testicle.

It's not just freaks and weirdo's that do this stuff though, in fact....one of my best friends ever budged in line at Candy Land......lol, but get this, he cut in front of a pregnant Muslim chick.

I confronted my buddy and he just sighed at my sensitivity.

Then when you dig into your hallway closet, look for your Yahtzee box, chances are you haven't used it since you went through all the score sheets.

Isn't it funny how once the score sheets are gone that people just stop playing, it's like they are too lazy to Xerox a new one, or God forbid....create one in pen while they play.

But I regress.....

Take that Yahtzee cup and fill it with the harm we do to our environment, the greed that lives in our souls, our inability to recognize women as the superior gender and place them in power over this planet.

Humankind is flawed brah.

It's just that simple.

Many days if I focused on this truth, it would be enough to weld me to my bed.

But their is also something special about everyone of you.

Each person has at least one redemptive quality that warrants our consideration as to whether or not they should be loved......right?

I think that's the thing that keeps me going, but if I'm going to be honest....I guess that might be the same reason why I've purposely collected many more acquaintances than friends.

Alright, we are about 4 hours from my lift off, so I still have some details to attend to.

I've got this really elaborate harness contraption where I will connect all 4 of my dogs to me, so when I get sucked up into the sky, my K-9 posse will cross the pearly threshold with me.

In the event you don't make it....and it is forecast that 98% of you won't, just remember......

I love most of you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Intimidate your Mother in Law with Gargoyles and my Madeleine Recipe

Do you like to get bang for your buck?

If so, the best way to accomplish this in baking is by learning how to make Madeleine's.

If you don't know what they are let me refresh your memory.

Have you ever seen those pans in the baking section were the holes (or indentations) are shaped like a sea shell?

That's what I'm talking about.

The pans come in a variety of sizes, but the most standard is the silver pan with a dozen sea shell impressions in it.

Now days, everybody is trying to make a buck, so often times you'll see black pans, or Madeleine pans with mini impressions so you can bake 36 pieces at a time.

Hells-Bells, not too long ago I was at Super Target and they even had those Rubbermaid silicone pans that you are (yeah-you guessed it) made out of some space age rubber that you can toss directly in your oven.

I've never been one to push my baking opinions, or techniques as Gospel, but I really do love the classic silver pan with 12 slots, and I'll tell you why.

The black pans are popular, and quite a few of my colleagues like these, but to me they are blasphemous.

Black bake ware heats much quicker, and retains heat much longer. This isn't something you desire for our topic.

If using a silver pan was like baking a loaf of bread in your home oven, then the black pan would be like baking that same bread in a fire place.

These are 2 complete different technologies, but it just so happens that one is refined, and the other is savage.

The reason I don't like the mini Madeleine is because you end up creating some weird hybrid of something 3 generations away from the original.

The very first thing one has to do when changing sizes on products is to determine if the new size or shape are going to affect the integrity of the product.

Madeleine's are so unique because they are 1/2 cake and 1/2 cookie. The crumb wall is supposed to be crisp while the interior should almost melt on your tongue.

When you release a mini Madeleine from its tray......

The whole unit is crumb wall, there simply is not enough mass for an interior to exist.

The rubber Madeleine trays actually work to a certain degree, but they don't help you achieve your blister (we'll get to that in a bit), other than that though, they are good enough to get the job done, but to use rubber baking pans or hot pads is so unsexy in Klecko's book of Baking Vogue.

If you are the type that bakes with rubber..........

You probably play baseball on AstroTurf -
You probably buy bottles of wine with screw off caps -
You most definitely drink coffee out of Styrofoam receptacles -
And of your 17 pairs of tennis shoes...I'll bet none of them have a Nike swoosh.

The last time I looked, I think you can get a couple silver Madeleine pans for around $30 (American).

Dude, this is such a good investment for so many reasons.

If you are bankrupt of baking confidence, Madeleine's can raise your street cred quicker than anything (and I mean ANYTHING) in the entire baking arena.

Most people have never made these delicacies.

One of the reasons might be that like the Pop Over, this treat needs to be consumed before it becomes cold.

Sure, I know Starbucks Coffee sells them wrapped up in hermetically sealed packages, but those little delights are pumped with preservatives and have no soul.

Another reason these are a great entry level baking project is because they don't require yeast, so just like a muffin or a quick bread, you won't need an electric mixer, and the whole "proofing" step is eliminated as well.

After you fiddle with Madeleine's for just a little bit, you'll own your peeps.

Even if you decide to remain a One Trick Pony, and that's all you accomplish, your "Mad Skills" will intimidate your neighbors, chefs, and yes....even your Mother in Law.

Ok-OK, Klecko's not going to take the easy route and pile on Mother in Laws, but yeah, I have one too.

I dig her, I have love for her.

The woman is a level 9 Russian / Jew, and she can cook like Christ can swim.

Every time I visit her, I walk away from the table 12 pounds heavier.

The part of this process that cracks me up the most, is that most of the items she is feeding me, I can't even pronounce them, even after she have repeated their names numerous times.

But I remember that winter she came over to my house, I had two Madeleine pans on my kitchen counter leaning against the wall.

The pans are basically the size of ice cube trays, so imagine something rectangular like that standing erect on the sink, behind the faucets and leaning on the splash guard.

Both of them were fairly new, so their metallic coating reflected every molecule of light in the room and bounced them back.

Another thing you can do to impress your minions is to attach a little history to whatever you are about to serve your guests.

Danny Klecko would never want to disappoint, especially his Mother in Law, so the rant began.

"Ya Know Ma, most people say that the Madeleine was developed by a little Pollack baker who was stationed in France. I think they were in Commercy or Versailles.

She was commissioned to make them for Stanislas Leszczynska who was the deposed King of Poland. Isn't it funny how often Pollacks are found in conversations where new food items were created in Europe? But the French and the Italians always seem to sucker punch them when its time to roll the credits.

The word Madeleine is actually French and translates Magdalen,after the Mary who loved our lord."

My mother in law rolls her eyes and reminds me that Jewish food is so much easier, because they have no saints to connect them too.

I shushed her though and finished.

"It is believed that when Madeleine's went into (and pardon the pun) mass production, this took place in the convents, and they were sold across France for fundraisers.

The proceeds were said to put poor kids through school.

This special cookie became so popular, that bakers across the country attempted to make them and share in the spoils, but the one thing that was unique about the Nuns version, they understood heat source.

They manipulated the heat to a point where the cookie would get a blister on the top. When you saw that little bubble, you knew an expert had made your cookie."

So now I notice that my Mother in Law wasn't even paying attention, her focus was on those 2 shiny Madeleine pans. You would have thought they were imposing gargoyles or something the way she continued lurking at them.

Yeah, I have to admit it, they were worth every penny I spent on them.

Ingredients

* 2 eggs
* 3/4 tsp orange flower water
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon lemon zest
* 1/4 cup butter
* 1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray the 12 (3 inch) Madeleine molds with bakers aerosol and set aside.

2. Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.

3. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs, orange flower water and salt at high speed until light.

4. Beating constantly, gradually add sugar; and continue beating at high speed until mixture is thick and pale and ribbons form in bowl when beaters are lifted, 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Sift flour into egg mixture, gently folding after each addition.

6. Add lemon zest and pour melted butter around edge of batter. Quickly but gently fold butter into batter. Spoon batter into molds; it will mound slightly above tops.

7. Bake 14 to 17 minutes, or until cakes are golden and the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertip.

8. Use the tip of the knife to loosen Madeleine's from pan; invert onto rack. Immediately sprinkle warm cookies with powdered sugar. Madeleine's are best eaten the day they're baked. Leftover Madeleine's are wonderful when dunked into coffee or tea.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Emotional Flood Gates & the Black Madonna Sourdough Recipe

Over the years, I have seen many people praise God in different ways.

Some people like to sit in silence and reflect, others grab tambourines and bob up and down in the air.

Me, when I approach the throne of God, I like to get caffeinated to the point where I feel like screaming and smashing glass bottles.

This is the state of mind where Klecko feels he is at his best.

Alot of people see God in nature, music - blah-blah-blah, but to be honest, I only see "burning bush" God, or feel that presence when I am with my wife or children.

Today I woke up at day break and pointed my bread truck in the direction of Iowa.

Today my son was coming home.

To prepare for this homecoming I slammed a 5 Hour Energy shot, and guzzled 2 shots of Espresso mixed into a 20 Oz light roast, and uncapped a diet Mountain Dew.

Zip-Zip-Zip!

Music is a big part of praise as well.

When Sue McGleno used to force my son and I to go to non denominational church, they sat in a warehouse size space and "Progressive Christian Bands" blared loud music with screeching electric guitars.

Many people liked it, but my son and I brought our baseball mitts and played catch in the parking lot..

At first Sue McGleno got upset, but when the preacher spoke, we'd go in and listen intently.

I hate being cynical, but a lot of church bands play songs like this, you've heard it right?

JESUS IS LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HE COMES FROM ABOVE!!!!!!!
HE FLY'S DOWN LIKE A DOVE!!
JESUS IS LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Swear to Caesar, I'm not knocking it, but when Danny Klecko vaulted south this morning, or anytime for that matter, he burns a CD that will only contain 3 songs, but he records them in a continuous loop.

When you do this, your mindset will almost become hypnotic, and your thoughts will run a little deeper.

Today on my musical menu I played........

Oasis - Wonder Wall
Oasis - Champagne Super Nova
U2 Window in the Sky

I think I heard this set 19 times between Capitol City and Decorah Iowa.

When I merged onto Hwy 52, the sun was bursting through the clouds in column form just like they do in religious post cards.

Even though I knew me and my son would surely have 39 arguments by tomorrow morning, I was still excited to know he was coming back.

He did well during his first year of studies and football, but I think he struggled having to start all over.

In his senior year of high school he was captain of the football and baseball team.

He won city championships with boys that he grew up with.


But now he lives in a corn field. In Iowa. Amongst Amish.


When most people send their kids off to college, their children evolve socially.


Usually this starts with their son (or daughter) approaching people and telling them their name.

My son....he has a working title.

Apparently everybody in the Hawkeye state knows him as Tydus.

When he went through some of his struggles, I was a little hard on him as fathers can be, but I remember during Christmas break I kinda had a mini revelation.

I was at Super Target and as I walked through the toy aisle....eye spied an Etch-A-Sketch.

Within seconds I had both hands off my cart an was turning the knobs back and forth, trying to manipulate the lines into a form of a house.

I had taken on this task 1000 times as a kid, but no matter how deliberate, how articulate I was.....

My stupid houses looked like they were constructed by Helen Keller.

The walls were all boxy, and the roofs pitch was always at a perfect 270 degrees, but my door always sucked.

I couldn't get dimension on that entryway, I couldn't make it pop.

And at that time I thought my entire self worth rode on making a bad a** Etch-A-Sketch house.

Almost 50 years later, my skills as a contractor have gotten no better, but the one thing that I have realized over 5 decades of life is I am not a complete loser, just because I can't get my lines to go where I want them to.

I think Tydus started to get that as well.......

But just like a Disney film, every story with a happy ending will usually be that much better if you add strife into the plot line.

About 1/3 of the way there, my happiness was paramount. I was singing, smiling, it was one of the few moments when I was alone in my life, and not upset by that.

But them the clouds kinda got overcast, and I think I was passing through a town called Madden, or Maddox, something like that.

Then all of a sudden I thought about my daughter, and how she was in Omaha, and so far away from me, and my emotional flood gates opened.

When I was young, tough, stupid and cynical, life was easier in so many ways.

For 30 years I never shed a tear, but now days it doesn't take much.

For 4 or 5 miles I felt like wailing, I missed my daughter so terribly and her absence was now being magnified by her brothers return.

But then I looked up and there was what I think was a vulture, and it was in the middle of the highway eating some raccoon roadkill. I can't be sure though, I don't know if Ive ever seen a vulture.

Next my Droid started ringing, and I talked to my Timberwolves ticket agent for a moment,when our conversation started, I turned off the music, I always hate when people have their radios on during phone conversations.

That's rude.

After I hung up though, I accidentally hit radio mode instead of CD.

I gotta admit I was somewhat astonished that some rube Iowa radio station was playing Joan Jett's version of "The Little Drummer Boy"

If you've never heard it, you should, it's on the "B" side of her album that has "I Love Rock & Roll."

The reception was kinda grainy, but I continued listening to it anyway.

The song reminded me of 11th grade, but then I started wondering.....

Why is an Iowa radio station playing this Christmas tune in May.

Rural highways can bend your mind into unusual positions, because when I thought about the song "Little Drummer Boy", I asked myself....

"What would I give the Baby Jesus if he were placed at my feet today."

Then it came to me, I would give him the recipe to the greatest bread I have ever made in my life.

Without a doubt this would be my Black Sourdough with golden raisins.

I developed it for the Arch Duke of Austria when he came to the Twin Cities for the National Austrian / Hungarian conference.

In fact they transformed the entire Landmark center to resemble the palace of Austria.

To this day this bread is served daily at the Saint Paul Hotel. W/o a doubt the most prestigious hotel in Saint Paul, if not the entire state.

Do you want me to let you in on a secret?

It's really a Pollack bread LOL, but you knew that.

In the spirit of celebrating the return of my prodigal son, and the sadness in my heart for missing my daughter and granddaughter.....

I submit to you.........


The Black Madonna Loaf -


1 1/3 cup brick starter

2 3/4 cup water

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoon honey

4 tablespoon B/S molasses

1/2 cup cocoa

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

7 cup AP flour

1 3/4 cup pumpernickel flour

3 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups golden raisins

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Because Mike Finley Couldn't Make it to the University Club

For those of you who delve into my Blog each day to hear culinary rants, let me cut you off at the pass.

There is nothing food related in tonights post.

I'm officially on vacation as we speak, and I'm taking a break and going to use my posting time to update a friend of mine on an event he missed.

Feel free to join the literary parade, or simply come back soon and we'll get back into the kitchen.


Each year the city of Saint Paul has this sidewalk poem contest.

Hundreds of people submit short poems, and 5 get chosen as winners.

Capitol City replaces 10 miles of side walks each year, so the top 5 submissions get (engraved?) in these new walk ways.

This year the winners were to be revealed at the University Club during Carol Connolly's monthly literary review.

In addition to being Saint Paul's Poet Laurette, she may bring me more joy than anybody I have met this decade.

when standing erect, and in 4" heels, I think her sight line might be flush with my knee caps.

But great things do come in small packages, don't you think?

For the last year I've visited her "To Do" every 3rd Tuesday of the month with my writing mentor Mike Finley, and you can always find us in the back row nursing cocktails and whispering our opinions as to who should be exalted, or who needs a flogging for wasting our time.

The event & venue is the best in the entire metro. Part of this is because you sit in a room that makes you feel like you are in the belly of a wooden pirate vessel, and while the aesthetic charm sinks into your pours, you can look through the windows on the east wall and overlook Saint Paul from the top of a hill that stands as high as a mini mountain. The view is spectacular, it allows you to look down on the High Bridge and the Mississippi River.

So anyways, their was a little hiccup in last nights presentation.

Instead of presenting the usual poets, there were 4 prose writers that would read from current books.

Typically I would have thrown my hands up to Christ....prose is a lot like a loaded hand gun, you don't want it pointed in your face by somebody who lacks expertise.

But I had no choice....I would have to sit through it if i wanted to hear the side walk winners.

So there I am, it's 2 nights before this dealio, I think I was multi tasking in my prayer closet.

While my mind sent supplications to our Lady of Victory and reminded her that God wanted my poem to be selected, my hands rifled through dress shirts and numerous receptacles of hair products.

RING-RING RING-RING

It was Mike Finley, and to cut to the quick, he was sorry to inform me that he couldn't attend the event.

To be honest, I really didn't care why, I was just despondent.

But I did ask for an explanation anyway......

"My wife is making me go camping. I have to lift boats and things, you know, guy stuff."

When you go to an event of this magnitude, especially when you think you are going to win, it's always best to have a power date.

So I got on the horn and called Dara Syrkin.

Dara is an arrow up in Klecko's world. She works at that "Writing Place" in Mpls called The Loft, and was the woman who coined the phrase......

"Klecko is more about content than comma's."

She agreed to be my escort, and another thing that I so value about her is like me...she always arrives to events before 90% of the audience.

So there we are, sitting in the back row. The space is practically empty and Dara starts unraveling foil packets of gluten free Ginger cookies.

"What do you think Klecko, should I enter them is the State Fair?"

OMG, they were so good, and I swear to Caesar I'm not just saying that because she was my date, the flavor just pounced on my tongue, that's a hard sensation to create without the assistance of wheat.

For the next 20 minutes, I pretty much sipped on a G&T and listened to some of Dara's ideas which revolved around her collection of motor cycle poems.

I typically don't like to stereo type people, but I guess I just don't know many 5'4" Jewish women in the literary field that wear dresses,quote Shakespeare and sit on the back of a Harley.

In spite of her exterior beauty, and bitching motor cycles boots, it's her laugh that won me over the very first time I heard it.

Remember how.....(unique?) Amadeus's laugh was in his movie? The one that starred Tom Hulce?

Dude he's Triple A compared to my friend.

EYE-SPY....could it be, yes! Tonight's first presenter comes walking through the door.

Her name is Laurie Hertzel and she is the "BOOK" reviewer of the largest newspaper in the state on Minnesota.

Just a couple weeks ago her newest book won top honors at the Minnesota book awards.

Her book talks about how she stumbles into the world of journalism. It's chalk full of news room description's, you know....blue clouds of smoke, fat balding men pounding on typewriters,the kind of stuff you'd see on Lou Grant or All the Presidents Men.

Of the 4 readers, Hertzel was the only one who gave a presentation that was strong enough to over power my A.D.D.

She claimed the book was about working at a newspaper, but I think there was a little more to it.

Her time allotment was 12 minutes, and I think her heart wanted each one of us to at least catch some of the loose rust off of her life's work.

How daunting is that? To transform peoples perception in less than 1/4 hour?

But at the beginning of her talk, she volunteered a monologue where she mentioned growing up in a gray house with a red front step in the port city of Duluth.

She went on to explain to us that she was one of (oh-oh...was it) 10 siblings, and if you hadn't grown up in a huge family, you might not know how easy it is to go through life off the radar (my words, not hers).

So while she read her stories, I wasn't looking for plot lines as much as what it was about herself that she was willing to reveal, I really liked how she imitated herself with words.

She crushed so hard, it was unfair to the other 3 readers in my opinion. the #2 woman must of been awful because I think I've blocked her out of my mind..lol, it was only 24 hours ago, and if world peace depended on it....I couldn't tell you a word she said.

The 3rd woman....Sweet Jesus of Texas State Bank, she talked about going to the airport in a cab, and how Saint Paul was like Rome because both cities were built on 7 hills.

Then she gave us a blow by blow description of each hill and attached what she thought were clever little quips.

The problem was though, her story ends up taking place on the Autobahn. Huh?

She was in a car, and get this, she had a conversation with some kid that had some androgynous name. I couldn't make out the kids name, was it Kecktor?

But either way, it didn't matter. In the span of 3 minutes, she recited the kids name 142 times.

That's more than Klecko mentions Klecko in a L.A.B. blog post.

How sad is that?

And the last reader was an older gray haired woman who actually lives in my neighborhood.

She was 75ish, and read about trying to pick up old guys in Highland Park.

There was one moment where she spoke of imaginary conversations with Sean Connery, and how she yearned for gusts of wind to alter the course of his kilt.

A lot of the people loved her. I told Dara that she just talked about stuff that I hear in line at Super Target or Cub Foods.

Motor Cycle Girl responded by rolling her eyes sarcastically and asking me if I knew of any other writers that spoke randomly and puddle jumped with their thoughts.

Well played Dara.

But then the presenters were finished, and the hoopla for the sidewalk poetry was about to start.

I shouldn't tell you this, but I had an acceptance speech rehearsed, not just for myself, but for Finley in the event that he won.

Neither of us fared well.

Five savages won instead lol, but then they announced that there was honorable mentions as well, didn't matter.

Me and Finley were about the only people that went home empty handed.

As the crowd filed out and I sulked in my shame, Hertzel expedited my mourning process by telling me stories about old woman and dogs attacking her in Russia.

Soviet dog attacks have always brightened my day, or at least they help take the edge off of abject defeat.

Now 93 people have left, there's 6 or 7 of us remaining.

My escort is talking to some Olympia Dukakis woman that kind of intimidated me so I camped out with my host instead.

Carol Connolly has always been so nice to me. I don't get it. She is a women who has access to great writers, people who are 50 times smarter than me, but instead of ignoring a blue collared lout, she brags about me or says nice things about me in front of other people.

So when we all realized it was about time to go, Carol asked if I ever thought about any other vocation other than being a baker.

I confessed that I kinda dreamed about being a priest, but I like girls too much.

Then Carol sat, thought a moment, looked at me and said....

"You kind of are a priest Klecko" and then she smiled.

I have no idea what she meant, but it was time to go, and I think it was a compliment.I decided to quit while I was ahead.

Although I got to hang out with 3 delightful women, for the record Mr. Finley, I wish you would of been there.

I might not have minded losing as much had you been with me.

Listed below is what I thought should have been the wining poem.

MADISON ROSE
STEP ONTO THE WATER
YOU WON'T NEED A MIRACLE TO FLOAT
JUST CLING TO YOUR GRANDFATHER
AND GIVE HIM YOUR TRUST
HE WILL TEACH YOU CONFIDENCE

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chevy Chase - Vacation and the Short Funeral Processions

Last Friday was one of "those" days.

I was tying up loose ends around the shop to prepare to go on vacation, and every time I had a foot out the door, either the phone would ring, or an employee with a final question would block my exodus.

After handling the "day to day" stuff, I spoke with the farmers market and retail crews.

When those conversations were complete.....I decompressed by drinking Diet Cokes and talking to employees that I would miss.

Then out of nowhere.....

"BEEP.....Klecko the guy with the Greyhounds looking for hamburger bun donations is on line 2."

Then there was.....

The woman hosting the Bachelorette Baking party is on line 4."

When you go in the day before a vacation, a prudent person will always allot an extra hour or two to deal with such matters, but Klecko was now on the cusp of the maximum time which is typically required for such a day.

My street clothes were on, my arms were cradling sourdough loaves and dog biscuits, I mean I was actually moving towards the door.

"Dan, you can leave if you want, but I think you'll want to take this call."

I stopped and flashed a glance like....

"I really hope this is pertinent, because if it isn't, not only will I be disappointed, but I might actually hate you."

The woman on the other line had a voice filled with enthusiasm, not in that syrupy kinda way, but in an energetic, let's make thinks happen kinda way.

She told me that she was calling on behalf of Edison High School.

They were having an event that was focusing on "greener lifestyles" and Chevy Chase was going to fly into town to be the host.

I started to laugh.

In a million years I would have never have envisioned the King of Saturday Night Live hanging with the peeps at Edison (a school where most of the enrollment have never received privilege)talking about global warming, carbon footprints and all that kind of thing.

When I asked my contact how this deal was networked, she said that Chevy's wife was the person spearheading the initiative, and she was told that Minneapolis was progressive and her dealio might get good traction here.

Great, the master mind of the National Lampoon "Vacation" movies would be in my city, and I wouldn't even be involved in the bake since I was going on vacation.

So, now I'm driving home.

Don't you just love those preholiday jaunts where your mind races, thinking about all the wonder and merriment that is certain to occur before returning back to the salt mines?

My mind was in that mode, that is until I got about 1/2 way home.

I was driving down West 7th when I passed a funeral parlor and I saw the weirdest thing. There was a procession that was pulling out that consisted of a hearse and 3 small cars all having those orange funeral flag things attached to their vehicle to let us know they were part of the death parade.

They didn't even have that motorcycle escort cop.

My first thought was......

"Dude, really...this is it? the contents of your life were only able to muster up 3 cars of mourners? who were you?"

Part of me wanted to pull a U-Turn and join the caravan to send this unpopular corpse to the other side, but then I realized I was on vacation and justified continuing home with the realization that holidays trump deaths every time.

But then I had one of those Deja Vu flashbacks.

I remembered that I had been in this movie years ago, I'll bet it was in 1988.

I'm certain of it because that was the summer I had my 78 Malibu for a grand total of 11 weeks.

Young Klecko didn't have many cars, so they're not easy to forget.

My 78 Malibu was magenta with a black hard top, and I swear the thing was as long as a Princess Cruise liner.

So anyway, I was giving this chick named Gail a ride home. She was a Native American kid who came down off the Rez to become a stripper in the Twin Cities, but after awhile she decided that she wanted to learn a trade that she wouldn't have to me embarrassed about in conversations that would take place with her children (that hadn't been born yet.)

The 2 of us drove by a graveyard and their were only 8 or 9 people in attendance.

I made some comment w/o thinking like......

"If less than a dozen people love you, maybe it's time to go home."

Wow....my irreverence really pissed her off, but even so, she maintained a look of sadness while declaring....

"I'd settle for just 1 person loving me."

Oops, just another insensitive Klecko blunder.

She ended up becoming a pastry chef at the shop I worked at and each night at 10:30 the 2 of us would run out the back of the bakery and sit in my Malibu and smoke 2 cigarettes each.

We almost never played music, instead Gail loved to talk about her future.

My windshield was bigger than some of the screens I've seen in those movie theater complexes, and we used this to frame the stars while slowly drawing off our Marlboro's.

Night after night, after night she declared how awesome her life was going to become. You could see her confidence and self pride flourish as she became more comfortable with her newest vocation.

But towards the end of summer, just about the time my 78 Malibu was close to becoming scrap, something took place that I'm not certain I understand to this day.

It was Tuesday (and this was Klecko's long standing day off) and when most of the crew finished up, a bunch of them headed over to Billy's house after work.

This wasn't all that uncommon, Billy was only 4 blocks from the shop and lived in a big house with his wife and 2 kids.

Most of the times it was just beer and whiskey in the equation, but every once in awhile something stronger would get tossed onto the table.

So the following day when I reported to work, I noticed that Gail never showed up.

There was all kinds of whispering and giggling taking place, but I knew If i wanted in on the secret, its usually better to just shut up because every crowd has a lout that wants to let the cat out of the bag.

The whispering and my friends absence were no coincidence.

Apparently after some substances were shares, Gail "shared herself" with 5 or 6 guys, one after another.

While my co workers reveled in their conquests, I didn't so much feel like detaching from them, as much as "human kind" in general.

For awhile I thought I might actually be ill.

I'm not putting this off entirely on the bakers, I realize that Gail played her role in her outcome, but while the savages gossiped in the background, I wondered if their laughter would continue if they knew that to date.......

She still hadn't found that one person on the planet to love her.

I never saw her again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sue McGleno's Nightmare

Next Thursday I'll be headed to Iowa, to retrieve my son from the cornfields.

His first year of college was survived, so now I am obliged to transport him back to modern civilization.

On the day sonny boy left, it was really traumatic. When my bread truck rolled past several Son of Norway halls, Amish buggy's and a tractor parade...his eyes popped out like Buckwheat's.

Sue McGleno was worried if he would be able to acclimate socially and do well in his study's, while I just prayed that he stayed healthy on the football field.

As we discussed his accomplishments, the joyfulness in our conversations tone was raptured by a sudden shifting of gears in Sue McGleno's demeanor.....

"You know, Ty did do a good job, but at times he was a complete A-Hole, he was exactly like you!"

I wasn't quite sure how to respond to this attack, so instead I dipped into my bucket of emotional range, and pulled out FACE #127....whimsical Klecko.

Sue McGleno continued.....

"It's not that he does anything that will land him into dire straits, but sometimes he just does stupid things randomly and I'm not sure he realizes there are consequences to those actions."

I knew I shouldn't, but I did. I asked for an example.

"When he was on J-Term, and they had to go into those rural Iowa schools, most of them were far away. so all the student teachers would ride in a big van, and when it pulled into their destination, Ty would hop out the sliding door, and them he would slam it shut on the other people behind him!"

At this point, Klecko is starting to grin......

"Yeah, and then the people would open the door and tell Ty that they needed to get out too, and he shouldn't of slammed it shut. apparently your son would apologize profusely, but on the next stop.....he'd do it again."

When I heard this, I was irritated with my boy, not because of what he did, but that he didn't text the details to me, I would have LMAO.

I think that one trait my son and I share is neither one of us is despicable, but we do love to irritate people past their comfort level.

This family highlight sent my mind whirling back to a time many years ago when I was working at a bake shop with a guy named Kevin.

If you've ever worked hospitality, once I start describing this guy, you'll start laughing, because you'll have worked with a 1/2 dozen people just like him.

Kevin was a compulsive liar.

Kevin worked the bench just like I did, making $9 an hour, but funny.....by all account's, Kevin was a millionaire.

Day in and day out, he'd work on the bench rolling hoagies and panning dinner rolls while boasting to the staff that he had just purchased a piece of art work for 6 figures, or that he might be obtaining another property in the Cayman Islands.

The part that made me livid though was that none of the staff seemed too upset having all these lies showered on them. Now that I'm older...I get it. These outrageous boasts were unoriginal, if you've been in the show long enough, you just realize that dude is sick and will be floating down the blue collar river within the next few months.

But Klecko, he just couldn't let this go.

In addition to falsifying him fiscal worth,Kevin loved to talk about his "Model Girlfriend" that always seemed to be conveniently out of state.

I'd ask to see photo's or tried to get him to bring her by the shop, but according to the liar, in addition to modeling, she was an important person in the nonprofit world.

Lying about money is one thing, but girlfriends.....you just can't do that. It goes against every guy rule ever established.

The part that turned this insanity into a black comedy, was that Kevin was not chubby, he wasn't rotund, husky or big boned.

Kevin the liar was morbidly obese.

Dude wore wire rimmed glasses and the folds of flesh on his forehead cascaded downward engulfing the top of the frames.

So it was just one of those things, me and him were on the bottom of the totem pole at work, and everybody knew that we hated each other.

I could tell you about times that he called into to work because his "estate" had been burglarized, or a list of other exaggerated excuses, but nay.....I will cut to the quick and tell you about the final show down.

Months passed and I got promoted before Kev did.

Usually when a baker finally gets off the bench, the first place they get moved to is closing oven man.

Nobody likes this position, because you are the last to leave, you work in a dark creepy hole - all by yourself during vampire hours. There just isn't a lot of cache attached to this role, but it is a necessary stepping stone in any young bakers career.

So one night the marble bread got mixed w/o yeast and I had to make a new batch and bake it off. I didn't get out of production until at least 4 a.m.

There I am, minding my own business, peddling my mountain bike down West 7th street.

I decided I wanted a cigarette so I pulled over to lean on the curb, while I dug my Marlboro's out of my back pack.

The second the flame touched the tobacco, my eyes looked up and I couldn't believe what I saw.

Kevin the Liar, everybody's favorite millionaire was in the Wooden Bucket Laundry Mat.

At this moment, I jumped off my bike, letting it crash to the ground, and I walked over to the entrance.

It was summer time so their was a screen door between us, but the main door was open. I could hear multiple washers running, and there was a couple of dryers in circulation as well.

Kevin just sat at a long, broken down card table that had 4 empty laundry baskets on it.

Dude couldn't even make up a good excuse because he was the only person in there.

My mind was racing to find a smart a** statement that would put an exclamation point on our feud, but before the angels put those words on my lips, I noticed that Kevin wasn't moving.

I kid you not, he looked just like a deer with their eyes caught in the headlights.

OMG....I just grinned.

Then I kept grinning, but I didn't speak because I loved the position I was in.

So the 2 of us engaged in this no blinking contest.

I refused to move from the threshold of the building, and it was the only entrance.

I'll bet I chain smoked 5 or 6 cigarettes, and remember, now its around 5 a.m.,we were the only souls awake within miles.

So now the washers shut off, and eventually the dryers stopped too.

Kevin refused to get up and process his laundry, almost as if, if he refused to touch it, that would prove it wasn't his, and he wasn't a pathetic twit like me,an abject loser who frequented the Grand Avenue Laundry Mat every Tuesday afternoon.

The tension was as thick as the silence, and when I think back, I knew better and should have relinquished my grip and let the guy off the hook, but I didn't.

I kept him trapped for over 1 1/2 hours.

The only thing worse than trapping somebody in their shame is conducting this in darkness and silence.

I think both of us were hoping for a conclusive ending in our favor, but the outcome was actually anti climatic.

A neighborhood cop trolled by and told me to get my bike out of the street, and then he came and sniffed around a bit.

The copper asked Kevin if I was bothering him, but he told him that I wasn't. We were just work mates killing some time.

I got on my bike and felt like crap that I wasted a night, and possibly put more dents into human that probably didn't need them.

Kevin never returned to the bakery, he called the owner and told him he was taking a new position on the east coast.

But my kid slamming the van door on those rube students...you got to admit that's pretty fricking glorious.