I'll Never Write a Novel

The Memoir of a Personal Essayist OR Confessions of a Theatre Widow

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Dad Invented Those Chips

I was over at the folks the other night and we were having sandwiches (or sangwiches, as one might say). My dad had picked up some chips to accompany said sandwiches and I balked at the Salt and Vinegar chips selected. My mom kind of looked at me funny, essentially meaning, don't badmouth the chips. She said, "Your Dad made those." But the ones my dad in hand were Lay's chips, the once-upon-a-time arch rival of my dad's former company, Nalley's. He certainly could not have made these ones. My dad didn't make Lay's chips. Then Mom clarified, "Your dad made salt & vinegar chips. The first ones were made in my kitchen."

How did I not know this detail? My dad was part of the invention of Tang, THE orange astronaut drink. This I knew. Maxim Coffee--the first freeze-dried kind-- Yikes! but I know about it. Tang Mayonnaise, a precursor to Best Foods, as I understand-- I am familiar. But somehow I never knew my dad came up with the idea and recipe for the first salt and vinegar chips, known as Piccadilly Chips. My parents had just moved back to the states from Canada. When my family would go out to dinner in Canada there was malt vinegar on tables next to ketchup. Apparently that wasn't a thing yet on American restaurant tables yet. My dad loved this clever Brit import and translated into potato chips. He created the recipe in my family's kitchen with my pregnant mom standing by. She had to have either loved or hated that smell. I am sure it brings back memories to this day.

As it turns out, my dad says you can't patent a flavor. So, once it was out there, it was up for grabs and many other companies followed suit. But all thanks to my dad. Cool, right?! My dad is very smart.

The weird part of the story has to be that my dad said that there is one place in the United States where you send recipes so they can "create" the flavor for mass production in a lab. That kind of creeps me out. He talked about this mysterious place like it was common knowledge.

With my new found respect for Salt & Vinegar chips, I shall never turn my nose up at them again. I might even start to enjoy them on occasion. It's a new taste to acquire. Thanks, Dad.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's Christmastime, Everyone! And I do feel it's the most wonderful time of the year. I am actually kind of a Christmas nut job. It's true. I got married at Christmas to have lit trees as the backdrop to my wedding. I start a Christmas countdown at 100 days. I happen to know when it's 100 days till the holiday because it gloriously coincides with one of my sister's birthdays. I am not sure she even knows that her birthday begins the countdown, but somehow I do. In any case, everyone who knows me knows I love it, and now, so do you.

So, it was an amazing day last weekend when I got to cut down my Christmas tree with my husband and my firstborn child. There was a chorus singing, I think. And then, with carols on the radio, joy in the air, and loved ones around me... it began to snow. It was so, so awesome. There aren't words. I thought last year took the cake, the hubby sang "White Christmas" as the Westlake tree was lit the day after Thanksgiving last year. I was pregnant and weeping. And it was fun. That did kind of rock. But this year was just the loveliest.

We made our tree chopping plans thanks to a very cool friend, Shelley. See, Shelley is cool for so many reasons.

A) She's just about as fun and truly nice as you can imagine (Proof: http://shelleynviper.blogspot.com/)
B) She's marrying a man who owns a tree farm (Want one? Try http://sprouffsketrees.com/)
C) She's a kick-a$$ photographer who has done a darn fine job of documenting Lil' G's life. In fact, if you want a peek at my joyous Christmas tree cutting, snowy family spectacular, you can visit Shelley's photo blog: http://shelleymauss.blogspot.com/

If you do visit Shelley's personal blog you'll see that she's a Christmas fan, too. Love that! And she's a darn fine blogger, at that. Ooh, and she's about to get married this holiday season. Congrats Shelley and Jonathan!

So, Merry Christmas to all! And, God bless us, everyone!

Monday, December 03, 2007

How's This Supposed to Work?

Sorry to be away so long... I have a couple items in the hopper, but nothing is completed to my liking. And, I know if I don't like it, God help me in amusing anyone else.

There's a writer's strike on. It is merely coincidence that my last post and the beginning of the strike match up, but I could say something about solidarity here. I can't. In any case, I caught a blurb today on imdb.com, an entertainment website, and it piqued my fancy (can fancy be piqued?).

When Does Ad-Libbing Constitute Writing?
Although it is commonplace for actors to ad-lib lines during the production of motion pictures, a thorny question has arisen over whether actors who are also members of the Writers Guild of America may be allowed to do so, the Los Angeles Times observed Saturday. The newspaper noted that while motion picture production has gone ahead on schedule, "habitual" on-set script polishing has been eliminated and some filmmakers, including WGA members, have been left "unsure about what is permissible." The Times commented that comedies, in which many funny lines are made up on the set, have been particularly affected by the strike. "Although actors are still free to improvise," the newspaper observed, "they can't be directly coached into what to say, creating bizarre situations in which writers and directors are using every technique short of hypnosis to get actors to change dialogue."

This is mind-blowing to me. Actors and writers are artists and you would think that the point of the strike is to be able to have creative license and benefit from good work. This is like binding a dancer's feet and asking them to dance, isn't it? What result will this have on the films and TV shows being produced during the strike? Are you telling me ad-libbers, like Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, etc., can't do what they do best on set? Will their be a glut of lackluster film on the market just before the stuff runs out completely?

Wow! I know a lot of actors and this sounds counter to how they work best.

As for the strike itself, I am so sad. Sad because tonight's my last night of new episodes of "Heroes" and "How I Met Your Mother." Sad because I have a real place in my heart for out of work actors and artists. Sad, also, because I hate seeing art being short-changed and taken for granted. Clearly the writers are the reason everything we see happens. The entertainment business is coming to a standstill without them. They should be able to benefit from their work every time people enjoy it. We do, don't we.

So, now, I am stepping down from my soap box, and asking... What do you think about actors being restricted on set? What are your thoughts on the WGA strike? Ideas for a solution, anyone?