Streets of Fire

Some things written by Jeff Kelley, a man in Richmond, Va. He likes aircraft carriers but doesn't really know the intricacies of them (weight, length, etc.)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

One reason I like Super Bowl Sunday is because it is the one day each year where I allow myself to eat buffalo chicken dip, the latest dip format to hit the $6 billion chip-lubrication industry during the past decade.

Developed by dip scientist-chefs who trained in Paris and who were loaded off Miller Genuine Draft before deciding to combine their two favorite food groups, the creamy concoction involves a cream cheese base along with shredded chicken breast and like six tubs of hot sauce, and probably butter and a few other ingredients that I’m unaware of. Mix together and eat with Fritos. You could certainly use Tostitos or Doritos or any of the -os suffixed chip brands, but I prefer the Frit variety.

I’ve never actually made buffalo chicken dip but everyone knows I am a super fan. Since we are close friends, I told the hostess at the party house tonight that while I didn’t want to impose, and that it was gracious of them to have people over, if she didn’t make her buffalo chicken dip recipe I would never fucking talk to her again. I was sure to drop the f-bomb in there for added effect to let her know I was absolutely serious about my dip wishes, as she makes the best fucking buffalo chicken dip of anyone I know. SBS is my one day a year to eat BCD and I couldn’t take any risks in having it not be present at tonight’s SBP.

When I think back on it however, I realize Super Bowl Sunday isn’t my first rodeo this year; “rodeo” being an idiom meaning events this year where I’ve eaten buffalo chicken dip. I suppose I could have just come out and said so in that way, as some readers may have gotten confused and believe that I think the Super Bowl involves cowboys riding bucking bulls (or broncos, ha!) or that I somehow attended a rodeo this year where food vendors served buffalo chicken dip. Buffalo chicken dip would be an awesome food to eat during a rodeo, though, no question, because I went to one once and it was pretty cool. The cowboys poured kerosene all over the sandy rodeo arena floor or whatever it’s called, in the shape of a cowboy hat, and then lit it on fire. It was so rad, in part because we were loaded off Miller Genuine Draft, but I have to imagine the experience would have been heightened even more with the presence of buffalo chicken dip. Anyway, to be clear: I am not talking about rodeos. I am also going to write the word “seahawks” right here since I used the other team’s name above and I don’t want to come across as biased.

Other “rodeos” this year: I requested a Golden Globes edition buffalo chicken dip a few weeks back for the eponymous awards show (have not seen American Hustle but have heard mixed reviews and the dip that evening was outstanding); ate all the leftovers during the following week; then had a Golden Globes II edition buffalo chicken dip whipped up last weekend for the Grammys (that Imagine Dragons performance was dope as was the dip).

I also ate buffalo chicken dip during Christmas and New Year’s along with each of their respective Eves, and I reckon you could also count Thanksgiving, which, despite not having an officially recognized Eve it did not stop me from eating my favorite dip then, only we substituted chicken for turkey and Christ’s birthday for one of those harvest cone things with all the fruits and vegetables pouring out of it.

Or is it “substitute turkey for chicken?”

Buffalo chicken dip also made an appearance during 2013’s Halloween, Labor Day, beach week, Memorial day, Father’s and Mother’s days, and Easter. At any given time, there are no less than six one-gallon tubs of buffalo chicken dip in my freezer prepared for when I might need it, such as when a rodeo is on television, or if I ever go to a rodeo since it is unlikely the food vendors will serve it. If I ever get to American Hustle in theaters, or go to an Imagine Dragons concert, I will likely bring a small Tupperware container of buffalo chicken dip and a bag of Fritos to enjoy during the show.

In the end, I guess you could say that Super Bowl Sunday isn’t the only day I eat buffalo chicken dip, today is not my first rodeo, I’ve been to one actual rodeo in my life, and today is not much more unique than any other day except that there is a major football game on TV tonight and my favorite dip will be present. It also occurs to me that I never reminded the hostess to buy fucking Fritos. I have to hold out hope that she remembered; after all, this isn’t her first rodeo.

Boulder

On a recent trip to Boulder, Colo., I remarked to a friend about the sheer number of Subarus driving around with kayaks or other forms of outdoor gear strapped to the roof racks. “This place cool and all but just completely filled with earthy types,” I said.

And as soon as I said it, I realized what I was saying. You see, not only did I buy a kayak a few weeks earlier, but I bought one in part because, months before that, my wife got a Subaru Outback with a roof rack able to hold all of our outdoor gear.

Then I saw a small Cape Cod for sale, the size of my house in Virginia. I Zillowed it, and wouldn’t you know, it was seven times what we paid for ours. The place is cool and all but just completely filled with really super rich earthy types.

Watching Captain Phillips

  • Her: "If I was ever captured by Somali pirates, would they send the whole Navy like they did for him?"
  • Me: "I think you mean 'when' you are captured."

Concordia movie (a synopsis)

jephkelley:

Here’s what I’ve got thus far on my script for Concordia, the movie about the doomed cruise liner in Italy, due out Summer 2013.

So this dude, Giampiero Consigliere, is just nailing this hot chick. This goes on for about seven minutes before the opening credits start. There is graphic nudity. “Walt Disney Pictures Presents.”

I was bored and going back through my own Archives (I am a selfish prick), then came across this. It made me laugh, so I’m sharing it again. 

I pulled this classic movie stunt in Denver a few months ago, and it still kills me to watch. The planets aligned perfectly: my friend was across the street with his iPhone, I saw the bus coming, and I happened to take note of that metal utility box. The rest is magic. Thankfully he knew to hold his phone sideways.

Lanterns

I don’t ask for much and my dreams are fairly mild: so long as I’m happy and financially comfortable, my family is provided for and healthy, and I someday get to launch those hot-air lanterns up into the sky from a beach like they do in Thailand or Japan wherever, I’ll be fulfilled in life.

So far, things are going smooth. I’m not writing for TV or movies - a dream I simply chose not to chase because, ugh, such a hassle - but I’ve got a career I enjoy and side projects that keep me creative and doing all kinds of cool things. That’s a track I’d like to stay on, so long as it someday takes me to a place where I can light a fire underneath a paper hot air balloon and watch it soar up into the night sky, and maybe be hammered at the time because let’s face it booze just makes everything better, besides operating machinery.

They did the lantern thing at the end of Hangover 2, which sucked except for the scene where they all launch the lanterns into the sky from the beach (they are actually called sky lanterns). Wikipedia tells me they are also known as Kongming lanterns (first sentence!) and that these bad boys are indeed big in Asia. I hope I don’t have to go to Asia in order to fulfill my single lifelong dream of launching a little balloon, yet I’ve never seen them for sale at Party City (not that I’ve looked) so I may have to go overseas to reach my goals. That would really put a kink in my life plans, because a trip to Asia is about 20 hours, fairly expensive (more than $200) and you probably have to get all these shots, and I hate needles.

Sure, I may not yet be a published author with a lakehouse like Richard Gere in one of those romantic movies with Diane Lane (where like his desk looks out over the water from his Pinterest-worthy attic office), and the book I started six years ago is still lost somewhere in my Dropbox. But I’m doing just fine. My lifestyle allows me to buy good clothes, have a cozy home, and subscribe to Amazon Prime, which at only $80 is actually worth it if you order enough stuff (you have to buy all your toiletries and small, individual items under the $25 free shipping minimum in order to beat their system). Still, even with all the weddings I’ve been to over the years, I’ve not yet gotten to light up a Kongming lantern surrounded by my best friends, close family, and more than likely a few people from high school or college who I absolutely hated. Regardless, I feel like we would all be one as we peacefully watched our paper lanterns turn to stars in the night sky on the beach of some Chinese province that I can’t pronounce. Someone will probably be puking from all the booze though. 

And hopefully the sky lanterns wouldn’t accidentally crash in mid-air and cause a huge Kongming balloon catastrophe. If that happened, then yeah, at that point I guess you could say my whole life would be ruined.

Houseguest

We’re having guest at our house later this month, although the specific date isn’t set in stone and more the median of a three-to-five week range. We know only that she’ll only give us about a day’s notice before she gets here. Our houseguest won’t call or text or send an email informing us of her arrival; no, she’ll simply inflict tremendous pain upon my wife then show up a day or two later. Our houseguest will also arrive completely naked.

And really, that’s all we know about our guest: it is a girl, and she will show up not wearing any clothes.

Of course, we also know that she will be staying with us for quite some time, likely 18 years followed by a four-year break during which she will attempt to drain my bank account. Depending on how her life goes after that, hopefully she’ll be able to get her own home move out of the guestroom we’ve decorated for her. I’m sure by that time we will be ready to have our house back to ourselves, although it is plausible that she could temporarily move back into our home after a career snag, a breakup with that biker guy who I warned from the start was trouble (I don’t trust anyone who smokes those blue-tip e-cigs), or after making a few poor life choices despite my best efforts during her early years - standard lessons all young people must figure out on their own. So long as she never shops at Hot Topic or has any friends with those metal dog collar spikes on their belts or writes a bunch of crappy, sad poetry in the comment section of her Instagram posts, she’s more than welcome to stay here during her mid-20s.

Our houseguest will not know how to use our toilets or showers. Or feed herself, make her own food, dress herself, talk, walk, stand, sit, take a punch, critically think, read, do Seinfeld quotes with us, remember, own a phone, or take care of herself in any way. She will shit everywhere, so much so that it will cause our friends who also have houseguests who shit everywhere to believe that the topic of houseguest shitting makes for good conversation; we have promised to do our best not to discuss with others the details of our houseguest’s shit habits.

We also know that our houseguest will eat our food and drink our drinks and offer no funding toward rent, utilities, or Netflix, even though she will ruin our Recommendations section with her Disney Channel stuff. We don’t own a Brita, but if we did, she wouldn’t even know how to refill it. More than once, our houseguest will attempt to kill herself by pulling a chair on top of her; opening a cabinet to drink a spray bottle of 409; dumping a shelf full of pots and pans onto her head; or attempting to climb our entertainment center to stick her finger into the television. She will, once she turns seven or eight, begin to take out the trash from time to time and bring her hosts alcoholic beverages upon request. At this time, maybe we can discontinue safeguarding our cabinets from a houseguest who has become more responsible and has learned that drinking bleach or poking your finger into a flat-screen TV is not an appropriate thing to do in someone else’s home, or ever.

Still, I am pretty sure we’ll find it in our hearts to open our arms and be very hospitable towards our guest. After all, we’re the ones who invited her to come stay with us.

Ecuador Jail

Grandma recently received a call from someone claiming to be me as part of an oft-performed con called the “grandparent scam.” As the deception typically goes, it was a guy saying he (I) was stuck in Ecuador with my friend Ryan (and I do have a close friend named Ryan), and that I was in deep trouble after having been caught with a small bag of cocaine. Point being, I needed money to get us out of Ecuadorian jail.

Don’t tell anyone, the scammer said. She was the only person I could call, don’t say anything to mom and dad, just please help by wiring $5,000 to me. Grandma was smart enough to figure the whole thing out, and the caller eventually hung up realizing his fraud attempt against a little old lady was futile.

My issue with the whole thing, however, wasn’t that some lowlife was trying to con my sweet grandmother out of a few retirement dollars. My problem, rather, is what if I someday find myself in Ecuador with my friend Ryan? Perhaps we’ve gone down for a long “guys weekend” of hiking Incan ruins, visiting historical sites along the coast, and ingesting massive amounts of cocaine into our noses and ears.

The trip quickly goes from narcotic-fueled to horrible after we are caught by the Ecuadorian policia and wind up in a jail cell. The cops find our “horse” (a common cocaine nickname). After pleading with the guards, I am given only one phone call. But unfortunately, I can’t call my grandma, because a con artist has already cried wolf and ruined any hopes I have of getting bailed out of Ecuadorian jail.

Grandma seems like an optimal choice for that phone call. I wouldn’t want to scare my wife who would also be mad because of the reefer (more cocaine slang), and when I got back to America after being released from Ecuador jail she’d probably make me do stuff on Saturdays as punishment since she knows I hate doing stuff on Saturdays (unless it’s cocaine-focused).

My parents would be enraged and mom, most likely, wouldn’t let me light the candles during Sunday dinners at their house, because she knows how much I like lighting candles (even more than “riding the horse”). I can do this cool trick where, using only one hand, I open the matchbook and light the match. The trick impresses many folks, but if I ever went to Ecuador jail for cocaine possession, I’d have to do my magic trick away from mom because she’d be all pissed off about the aforementioned jail-slash-cocaine issue.

I guess I could call my brother or sister, but maybe they won’t have phones in the future. Plus, I forget their names. Friends would be an option, but they may never look at me the same again once I return home, and I’d forever be known as “Mr. Cocainehead” - or even worse, by my middle name, which is Gary.

So it seems grandma will be a solid choice to help clean up the mess I plan get myself into down in Ecuador. And now, thanks to a fraudster, I have no one to call when I get out of hand and into a bind.

Although I guess Ryan could just call his grandma instead. Let’s hope she’s never been scammed before because then we’d really be in trouble.

Unauthorized Parking

Dear employees,

Attached is a photo of a car parked in reserved spot 316, and the vehicle is not authorized to be parked there. I will be calling the tow truck in a half hour, which is around 1:25 p.m. eastern standard time depending on when and where you are reading this email. 

I would be remiss not to mention, to the owner, that your car is a bit dirty and could probably go for a wash. It shows up quite clearly in my photo even though I snapped it with a first-generation Samsung Galaxy. Dirty cars can really diminish a paint job over time, so it’s important to try and keep your vehicle clean. It’s something I regularly had to remind my wife, until earlier this year when she became my ex-wife.

I also noticed you are from Ohio, that’s great! Lived in Indiana for several years during elementary school. Indiana is near Ohio, right? Did you go to Denison, or do you just know someone who goes there, or went to Denison? Something must have compelled you to put a Denison sticker on your rear windshield. If you went to Denison: did you know Jeremy Epperson? We went to elementary school together before my family moved to Missouri. He played lacrosse, I think. Graduated in 1998 (maybe?). You probably don’t know him, I know, but figured it was worth a shot. He had brown hair, if that helps. So did Susan (ex).

What led you to buy a Mitsubishi? (I think that triple-diamond logo is a Mitsu, right?) Just curious. You never really see commercials on TV for Mitsubishi anymore, so was it word-of-mouth or perhaps a social media campaign that led you to that brand? I’ve been looking at the new Lancer recently and learned about them through the great social media presence of Mitsubishi motors. (Sidebar: outside of being a facilities specialist, I’m studying digital marketing at Southern New Hampshire University online in the evenings.) 

Did you know Susan? She went to Denison, too. Graduated in 1992.

The parking space also clearly says “COMPACT,” so you really shouldn’t be in that corner spot. The Galant is mid-size sedan, and I believe one of the best in its class (Car & Driver says otherwise, but what do those bozos know?). If you want compact car, but still demand the quality and comfort of a front-wheel drive Mitsubishi, you should have looked at the Lancer. Susan actually drove a Focus ZX4, although I haven’t seen her in almost two years so she may own something else by now.

I think this may actually be the second time I’ve asked your particular car to move from a reserved spot, if memory serves. Please be sure only to park in your authorized, non-compact space unless you trade-in for a Lancer!

By the way, I zoomed in on the picture just to be sure, and indeed, you need to get a new car registration this month as yours expires at the end of September. You do know that you can be pulled over and fined for a late vehicle registration, don’t you? And remember: the registration is different from getting your vehicle inspected. Lots of people don’t understand that, but it’s actually two different and generally unrelated stickers. I swear, you are just like my ex-wife! 

And I loved my ex-wife. Adored her. She left on her own terms, over nothing I did. Nothing. Look, I know this may seem premature, but If you’re feeling something here, between us, email me back. We can forget about the parking space. Forget it ever happened, I swear. We’ll go slow. Whoever you are. And if not, the tow truck will be here in 10.

Shifting Role

I recently spent a week at the beach and did so for the very first time under the status of a Grown-Up. We hit the beach every year, but trips in the ’80s and ’90s I was still a kid, so my responsibilities back then were limited to doing whatever I wanted until being told to stop by an adult. Recent annual beach trips have been as an adult with friends or with my family, which - immediate or extended - no longer contains toddlers. Yet after my recent week hanging out with a group of small children, I have come to believe that a toddler’s ultimate goal is to try to get away with killing itself before a grown-up can stop them from doing so.

Without grown-ups present, a beach house on the coast of North Carolina in late July would have witnessed multiple child drownings, stabbings, heat strokes, one fork to the temple, a glass table to the face, and at least one three-story fall onto concrete.

This year’s beach trip was with my wife’s side of the family, which contains six kids and a seven-month-old. As a childless man with what I would like to believe is an above-average muscle tone (not to mention a naturally olive skin complexion and taut legs, but that’s beside the point), I stepped up to the plate and took on a much different role than normal: one of hauling a majority of the beach gear to the sand, keeping an eye on small children, and carrying sometimes-screaming children to the sand. Frequently I did all three at once: hauled gear, carried kids, and kept an eye on other small kids, most of which were screaming or inexplicably walking in the opposite direction of the ocean. “Ax man, we’re going this way,” I shouted at the 3-year-old, walking westward. I should also note that most if not all of this activity took place under the influence of alcohol, or the remnants of it.

While swimming in the pool one day, my 9-year-old niece asked if she could massage my back. “Maybe later, but not right now,” I explained, knowing there would never be a “later,” ever, based on rules that I just assume are in place these days regarding giving wet uncles back massages. Which sucks, because I was told she’s quite good at massages, and I’d kinda thrown my back out hauling kids and all their shit to the beach.

Terminator 2 just happened to be on Netflix one evening because I knowingly put it on TV, so - since it was on - I let the 10-year-old in the house watch it with me. “It’s a soft R,” I explained to another adult, who questioned whether the kid should watch it. She left the room moments before a liquid metal spike impaled a character’s head as he drank from a milk carton, a scene that quite frankly still scares me. I mentioned to the kid that if he told anyone that I let him watch T2, a robot from the future would go back in time and try to kill him.

I let two nieces - nine and six - who had never lit a match before fire up a charcoal grill. They didn’t ask to do so or anything; it was more of a situation where I said, “Psst. Hey girls. You two ever lit a match before?”

Mornings are louder in a beach house with six kids. Stomping begins at 6 a.m., with the first crying wails of the day rumbling forth two minutes later. These tears are followed by a crescendo of sound that continues in what seems like a game of which the objective is to yell and shriek louder than the other children. Still in bed, childless grown-ups try to ignore the sound until we are ultimately forced to give in and just go ahead and get out of bed Entering the kitchen a few minutes later for coffee, we are greeted by parents who have been awake for an hour. “Boy, you are a late riser,” they’ll say, with a straight face, as the sun crests over the horizon.

One evening there was a fight between two cats in the front yard of our beach house, and one cat killed the other. My sister-in-law, acting swiftly as to not let the children see a dead kitten, put the feline into a nearby trash can that rested alongside the house’s driveway. We worked hard not to mention the “dead cat” in the children’s presence for the rest of the week, but sometimes it slipped. We’d cover ourselves with lines such as, “No, I said your ‘mom’s fat,’” or “No, I said ‘How ‘bout that?’” or “Yeah, there’s a dead cat in the garbage can. Be a man about it and finish eating your lasagna.”

Now is also a good time to also mention that my 31-year run as a childless man is expected to come to an end on December 28. I’m cool with it, so long as having a child doesn’t interrupt my current way of life whatsoever, increase my expenses, or prevent me from doing whatever I want whenever I want. If that’s the case, being a grown-up will continue to be awesome.