Sunday, February 25, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

"So, Brian, are you nervous?"

"What an odd question," I thought, but replied, "No, thanks for asking."

I stood at the podium in my slightly ill-fitting suit from the previous year. Across the empty lecture hall, sat the small panel of judges. A couple of the ladies looked down and stifled their giggles, just as the gaggle of girls out in the hallway had done mere moments before.

I ignored the distraction. My hastily assembled documents were arrayed before me. The inquisitive judge marked the time and said, "Well then, let's begin."

I had traveled with my high school speech team to this dry dusty college campus for yet another competition. I had signed up for the extemporaneous competition, but we were required to participate in two categories. So, I also signed up for something called "Radio News Broadcasting." It was another extemporaneous-like competition, and I apparently had something against events that required preparation...

So, there I stood, delivering hot-off-the-wire news for a panel of judges. Just 20 minutes before, I had been handed a sealed envelope containing news-wire clips, two advertisements and one public service announcement. It was up to me to select the relevant stories, edit them and assemble a 6 minute broadcast.

All of the judges were smiling. Broadly. As I left the room, I was met with more giggles and suggestively-raised eyebrows. Minutes later, as I stopped at the men's room, the mystery was finally solved. Obviously, during my entire presentation (and for god-knows-how-long before) my fly was down. And not just down, noooo, it was wide open...

Competition was the topic tonight as I flipped frequently away from the mind-numbingly boring Academy Awards. I wondered as I regularly do, why we give actors awards for acting (memorizing words and making sad faces), yet we do not hold glitzy glamorous extravaganzas for teachers, doctors or firemen??

I mean, why do THEY deserve more privilege?

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is, I eventually popped in the Netflix-sent DVD of "Little Miss Sunshine," which went a great distance in reminding me why my daughter will never be anywhere near a little-girl beauty pageant. Sure, I might go, but my daughter? Never.

Is it even competition? I mean what's the contest? Is it to see which white trash mother can make their pre-pubescent daughter look like the trashiest whore?? Because, if that's the case, then really, they are all winners? Is this a competition that really needs to be?

Why do we love competition in the first place? Why is it soo ingrained in the human experience? We will compete over anything. Apart from the ubiquitous sports, board games, card games and video games; people vie for dominance in such things as sand castle building, hot dog eating, and Bar-B-Q. Even strippers here in Oregon have an annual strip-off...

There is, of course, NASCAR as well, although, it seems to me that it is less about competition, and more about drinking beer while watching OTHER people drive cars and change tires.

I am no different. While I tell myself that I don't enjoy competition, my life is full of it. My job, for instance, is all about competition, doing battle with opposing counsel, championing my client's cause. For entertainment, I play disc golf, or throw darts. I play poker and and enjoy long drawn-out strategy games. I've even engaged in one of the above-mentioned BBQ
contests (and won).

The topic of competition being the topic of conversation tonight, I have a confession to make. There is one more competition I'd like to enter, and it is outside of my comfort zone.

Each year contestants are gathered from across the country for a high-stakes battle royale. No, I do not mean the ultimate Fighting Championship. Are you kidding?

No, I'm talking about the Pillsbury Bake-Off, and I have a hunger for the prize. Well sure, the top prize is a million bucks, but actually, what I really want is to just participate. I can see myself in the white hat with the white apron, sizzling away in the great hall. Does this make me gay? Sure, maybe, but it's not the first thing...

Deadline is April 22. All I need now is a recipe.

Oh, and, just in case you were wondering about the radio news competition, I won. And that is why, to this day, I never zip my fly before speaking in public...


  1. You should enter my bacon and strawberry prune strudel. Make it with their pie crust, add in granola, stewed prunes, low sugar strawberry jam and crisp bacon. Cook it up and glaze it with a sugar glaze and some chopped walnuts.

  2. First you need to develop a strategy. Hone in on what type of baked good you're going to create. Pie? Bar? Cookie? Muffin? Brownie? I suggest looking at who took home the prize for the past decade. Are there any trends? Also, you need to have a key ingredient that "wow factor." Like toffee and kahlua in a brownie that adds that extra oomph. Also, highlighting as many pillsbury ingredients is a good thing. It says I know where my bread and butter comes from. They will be making this in the test kitchens, it has to be simple enough for Betty Homemaker to recreate, but advanced enough to be taken seriously.

    Good luck.

  3. teachers, doctors or firemen??

    and ahem, nurses of course...

  4. ...oh, yes, nurses, of course!

  5. Thats real nurses Brian, not strippers and porn stars dressed as them

  6. Mrs. G&T1:11 PM

    Amanda, do you seriously think that Brian has not done all of that reasearch already?

    Blogger is in a St. Paddy's mood. My word verification is grnelvsy.

  7. Well, then, Ms. Sassy Pants, what is the recurring trend of the Bakeoff Winners? I certainly want to know!

    I made baked doughnuts today. I had the recipe, and the time. I'm not sure what I expected, but these were odd. They were a yeast-based dough, and after they rose they were HUGE. They were like incredibly soft, doughy, slightly sweet rolls, with the added benefit of buttered tops with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg on top. Tasty...but not a doughnut.

  8. the only unifying theme between the last five winners has been: "Sticky."

  9. Sticky Vicki pudding

    Have a puddding with a hole and be able to pull out fruity delights..

  10. Chocolate cookie crust. Peanut-butter caramel cheesecake with chocolate drizzle?

  11. If you qualify for the bake-off, will you show up with your pants undone? If yes, will you work that into either the theme of your dish or at least the name of it?

  12. I call it: "Sausage Bonanza!"

  13. other5:46 PM

    Downed zippers? All the more reason to wear a kilt.

  14. I expect Brian to go head to head (as it were) with Jamie Oliver for the title Naked Chef.

  15. Brian, I now feel dirty at the mere thought of the "festival of meat." Luckily, you were kind enough to wear pants for that...

  16. I've been down this frustrating road before. I see that the eligible products and categories have been changed around. More stuff available in the eligible products but as you can quickly see, the keyword is "Bread." The unfortunate fact is, unless bread is made the morning you eat it (i.e., not out of a can), it isn't good.

    My only real advice is to think bland. Think of food your grandfather from the Midwest would want to eat (which, incidentally, is also something the Brits would find right tasty!).

    I analyzed the finalists and winners two years ago. Exactly none use shallots (or similarly subtle aromatics), barely a handful use meaningful fresh get where I am coming from. Grilled fruit? Forget about it. No recipes use grills to start with and remember - the bakeoff is a bunch of $300 electric (not gas) ovens lined up neatly in some Midwest hotel ballroom. Forget anything that takes a real sear. Needs to be idiot proof such that if you can't read, can't follow instructions or can't think for yourself, it will still turn out passable.

    Think Pizza Hut, Perkins, Apple Bees. Booze in brownies? What would the Bible Belt say! They recommend taking an existing recipe that you like and substituting Pillsbury. You probably find this a cop-out, like I did, but look at the finalists and winners. Anything earth shattering? No. Anything you haven't seen before? Of course not.

    Bitter. Yes. Wasting time middling with mediocre ingredients isn't good for the soul.

    Save your energy. Learn a language. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Do something good. The Bake Off doesn't want people like us. Save yourself, before it is too late.

  17. I have decided to make Peanut Butter Pizza.

    Take one canned pizza crust.
    Unroll it.
    Spread one full jar of Jif over the dough.

    Bake for 15 minutes.

  18. Lately my midnight snack has been a tortilla, crunchy peanut butter and mini marshmallows. OMG - it's so good.

  19. The panty6:45 PM

    If you were wearing me instead of nothing under your pants, the judges and other people would not have been laughing so hard.

  20. The panty6:46 PM

    If you were wearing me instead of nothing under your pants, the judges and other people would not have been laughing so hard.


Be compelling.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.