Woods for BBQ by Region & Essential Mixed Drinks for a Bar, reported by JD Meyer

Woods for BBQ by Region & Essential Mixed Drinks for a Bar, reported by JD Meyer

Typical Woods Used for Barbecue by Region, according to Andrew Czop
I have had a dim awareness for some time about not all barbecue chefs agreeing on the same wood, so I asked a friend and noted smart guy, Andrew Czop, (formerly) a caterer and more at Stanley’s Famous Pit-Bar-B-Q of Tyler. First of all, I asked Czop what Stanley’s uses; he said, “Pecan and it’s the typical choice in East Texas.” Dallas, a mere 100 miles to the west, generally uses mesquite. Czop observed that the choice of wood for grilling is partly based on local abundance. Dallas is somewhat drier than East Texas. I’ve lived in Dallas and Tyler longer than any other cities. Austin in South Central Texas uses post oak; it’s more hilly than north or east Texas.
As for regions beyond Texas, the Midwest uses hickory, and that includes Kansas City and Chicago. The Atlantic Coast utilizes fruit woods, such as peach and apple. Appalachia chooses hickory like the Midwest states.
Let’s hope this article gets longer.

Essential Mixed Drinks for a Bar by Betty-the Catering Manager
Yes, this September 2014 article is about to get longer on New Year’s Day! A couple of months ago, I took notes when Betty talked to Parker Case, guitarist/singer for Say Anything, about the essential mixed drinks every bar should offer. This report also comes from Stanley’s. Let’s express this conversation in a list. It’s presented in order of time, not necessarily importance: (1) Bloody Mary, (2) Long Island Ice Tea, (3) Martini/Cosmopolitan, (4) Margarita, (5) Whiskey Sour, (6) Tequila Sunrise, and (7) Rum & Coke. First of all, Whiskey Sours and Rum & Cokes were my parents favorites on this list. Tequila Sunrise was one of my early favorite mixed drinks while Long Island Ice Tea was a favorite in my late 20’s. Martinis remind me of the 50’s and Frank Sinatra. The Bloody Mary and Margarita are the most likely mixed drinks for me to consume nowadays on this list. Whiskey & Coke is another personal favorite. Maybe it should be #8?

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Mexican Music in Texas, by Joe Nick Patoski @ East Texas Book Fest, 9-13-14

Joe Nick Patoski gave a presentation about the history of Mexican music in Texas while we huddled around his lap-top computer. Patoski is described as a Humanities Texas scholar; a free-lance journalist now, he has worked for the Texas Monthly.
First of all, Patoski sees the distinction between Tejano and Conjunto as the former is more a big band style while the latter is smaller. He hails the accordion as an instrument that unites several Texas ethnic groups: Mexican, Cajun, German, French, Czech,and Polish.
Some of the early Tex-Mex stars were Narciso Martinez, Santiago Jiminez, and Beto Villa y su Orquesta. Santiago Jiminez’s hit song was “Viva Seguin.” Isidro Lopez y su Orquesta achieved the first national Tejano hit with “La Cacahuata” (the Peanut) in 1955. Little Joe and the Latinaires became quite popular. This band from Temple included Bobby Butler “El Charro Negro,” an African-American who was fluent Spanish. “Las Nubes” (The Clouds) became very popular. A museum in Temple on I-35 is dedicated to Little Joe, whose later band was “La Familia.” Little Joe became best friends with Cesar Chavez, the famous civil rights leader and migrant farm worker. Tex-Mex music includes the corrido, a ballad that tells a serious news story, which may not have been covered by the journalists. “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” is a famous corrido.
Freddy Fender was described as the “Mexican Elvis,” and he sang in English a lot—starting in 1958. Sunny Ozuna and the Sunliners were on American Bandstand in 1962 and sang their English hit, “Talk to Me.” Abraham Quintanilla was a member of Los Dinos in Corpus Christi. Best known as Selena’s father, he faced the confusion of prejudice by getting booed by singing in the wrong language for the wrong crowd, both with Anglos and Mexicans. Sam the Shams and the Pharaohs had a hit song called “Wooly Bully,” which was rock. Sam was a cotton picker from West Dallas in the era of crops growing in the Trinity River before factories were built there. Flaco Jimenez teamed up with Doug Sahm, and Freddy Fender to form The Texas Tornadoes. Some of their songs were played by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Buck Owens. “’Ta Bueno Compadre” was one of the Texas Tornadoes’ hits.
Steve Jordan “El Parche” (1939-2010) was hailed by Joe Nick as a very progressive musician who thought outside-the-box. Jordan described his style as “psychedelic accordion,” and “You Keep me Hanging On” was a hit. I recalled a Steve Jordan favorite of mine, “Sin tu querer,” a wonderful vocal performance.
Now we reach the peak of Mexican music in Texas: the Selena Quintanilla era. Incidentally,that is when I was most familiar with Tejano and the like. Tejano finally added the accordion and played cumbias. The cumbia dance is quite easy too. Selena of Corpus Christi sold out the Astrodome and was selling more than Willie Nelson or Z.Z. Top at that time. Patoski feels that she would have continued to rise and crossed-over into more frequent performances in English if not for her tragic murder by her thieving employee. Emilio Navaira, Mazz, and La Mafia were other big Tejano bands of that era, but Tejano slowly declined after Selena’s death. Two of my personal favorites from that time are Jay Perez (San Antonio’s “The Voice”) and Gary Hobbs (“El Borrado del Eagle Pass”). The Texas Tornadoes came back to do “Hey Baby, Que Paso?” and “Soy de San Luis.” Freddy Fender’s portrait is on a water tower in San Benito.
Then Joe Nick Patoski concluded by telling us about three well-known Tex-Mex bands in today’s era that are of special significance to Joe Nick: (1) Grupo Fantasma, (2) Pinata Protest, and (3) Girl in a Coma (Nina Diaz—lead vocalist). Grupo Fantasma has moved from the Rio Grande Valley to Austin; they’ve backed up Prince in Las Vegas. They did a horn version of Black Sabbath called Brown Sabbath! Pinata Protest is San Antonio conjunto punk. Juan Tejeda sponsored them; they have a rapid fire style. Girl in a Coma is an all-girl band that mainly sings in English; however, Nina Diaz, their lead vocalist, did a remake of “Technocumbia” by Selena, and she’ll have a solo album soon.
Mr. Patoski gave a wonderful presentation on Tex-Mex music for the 2014 East Texas Book Fest at Tyler Junior College West that filled in some gaps for me: the early years and most importantly, the current scene. If you live in Tyler, or East Texas in general, Intocable–a top Tejano/Norteno fusion band–is as close as you’re going to get to “pure” Tejano, and “The Bad Boys from Zapata” visit often. It made me ready to get the old Tejano CD/s and root around the Internet for more of it. Later I would tell my allergy nurse about those three current Tex-Mex bands too. Thanks for the editing, Joe Nick.

Remedial English Meets Stand-Up Comedy

  Originally a Presentation at a Downtown Tyler Arts Event: Precursor to Tyler Spoken Word

I decided to go through my Developmental English textbook and look for funny model sentences. Textbook engagement is one of the major concerns in that industry. Most of these model sentences are from the grammar chapter. I’ll lead into them by mentioning a category first. Well after this talk, I realized that the textbook engagement aspect of amusing model sentences would add to my sustainability in composition stance.

Three sentences are accounts of rare physical humor in the classroom. Very early in the semester, I’d say, “The teacher threw an eraser over the students’ heads,” while I was explaining the prepositions as usually about space and often beginning with the letters, “a, b, o, u, or t.” Now let’s talk about fragments. “I type,” is a very short sentence: subject, verb, and complete thought. However, “Drives to the basket after a fake in the opposite direction,” is a very long fragment that’s missing a subject. Of course, I demonstrated my move for the class. How about a very forceful imperative sentence? “Watch out for that pit bull hiding behind the car on the front porch.” That led to a successful titanium hip replacement after slipping on wet grass but no pit bull bite, as the beast was on a chain.

I’ve been known to make health-related and pet-love jokes. “Finally, (comma) I can walk up the stairs without wheezing,” illustrates a comma after an introductory word. I have had two phases of hording cats. Once I was able to make a pro-cat remark and salute Whitney Houston: “He has found the greatest joy of all—(dash) to have a pack of red cats.” That dash prevented an added-detail fragment. Here’s an actual happy cat family event, “I gave my male cat, Dat, a compliment (not complement) for letting the three female cats eat first (Smoky, Ms. Kwame, and Lupita). That sentence was from a Commonly Confused Word chapter section.

I have proposed an all-new acronym for the coordinating conjunctions because FANBOYS paints a very disturbing picture in my mind that involves a monarch and far from role model activity on the part of youth. So I’m offering FABSONY as a new way to remember the coordinating conjunctions–for, and, but, so, or, nor, and yet—while saluting a fine Japanese radio/TV company and its founder, Akio Morita. By the way, I read his biography, Made in Japan, back in the Nineties.

It can be fun to acknowledge the generation gap. “I can’t understand why so many young people wear loose jeans (two “o’s” not one), and why bell-bottoms and flares haven’t made a comeback.” ((More from the Commonly Confused word chapter section). On another note, make a joke about teachers usually being more bookish than students, “Searching through the websites, the instructor tried to find something exciting or at least tolerable for his students.” That shows the use of a comma after an introductory phrase.

Hinting at strictness when it comes to passing or not is prudent, whether through teacher talk or the teacher’s book. Some students (and maybe some administrators) think a jolly teacher might pass anyone. One of my early statements in the semester was “Just because I may laugh with y’all and try to be funny doesn’t mean I won’t do the same thing next semester when I see you if you do bad on tests and don’t turn in essays or do poorly on them. The instructors for the higher level classes are next door to me, so I don’t want to risk hearing them complain about a backwards student.” Awareness of mischief is good too. In an irregular verb quiz section of a multiple-choice quarterly exam, I once gloated,”Somebody stole the answer key from my office, so I changed the order of the answers–ha, ha!” True or False? True on both counts!

Let students know what your pet peeve is in grammar since that could be extra memorable. I can’t stand apostrophe splices! Don’t use an apostrophe with a singular noun that doesn’t show possession. Years later, I saw a funny picture on a Facebook grammar site that had the caption, “Every time you use an apostrophe + “s” to make a noun plural, a puppy dies.” I get funny with pictures too for a Flickr photo of a Jolly Roger flag is next to statement,” Look at the lovely lady’s.” Look at what of hers; wait, you want me to look at a photo of three ladies. Don’t use an apostrophe with a third-person singular verb; that’s even worse. A Flickr photo of unique sign shows rotating saws with the caption, “Don’t feed body parts into adjacent counter-rotating rollers,” goes next to that model sentence. You can only get that zany once per chapter or maybe once per book, so pick your pet peeve wisely. Comma use can be more important than acknowledging when to catch your breath. A comma to prevent confusion can be very important, “Let’s eat, Helen.” Without a comma in that sentence, the author could be suggesting cannibalism!

Let’s talk about dealing with African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) because it’s a Developmental English/Writing textbook. Ebonics is not a proper term because it implies a completely separate language. Irregular verbs and subject-verb agreement seem to be the most likely place for this slang or dialect. Check out these false statements on True-False test on irregular verbs. “I’m gone to the house. She being silly again. This exam is so throwed, I’m glad to be taking it.” Now don’t get the wrong idea. In a subject-verb agreement quiz I confessed, “Internet sites, and not Mom, reveal that Black Irish were mixed: African-American and White, thereby explaining Grandmother Charlcye Elrod’s resemblance to actress, Josephine Baker.”

Do you have a controversial hero, or do you still enjoy some of his or her old writings? What if you have a redneck teacher who could give you a lower grade just because (s) he got mad? There’s a way you can quote somebody and not give their name. Preface or conclude the quote with a phrase like, “A prominent thinker once said, ‘Let’s look at a great quote from the Keynote Address at the 2001 Hip Hop Summit in New York City, “Every time you use your rap song against another rapper and the magazines publish your words, the people you love then turn on the people you have spoken against. (With) leadership comes responsibility. You did not ask for it. It is imposed on you, but now you have to accept responsibility that you have never accepted.'” That was from the Keynote Address at the 2001 Hip Hop Summit in New York City. Then I have a picture of Russell Simmons to go with that quote. He was the organizer, and everybody likes him. So I was just able to get away with quoting Minister Louis Farrakhan and not get in trouble (big laugh ensues).

Here’s a goodie from early in the Persuasive chapter, “If you give your Valentine a Tupperware full of chocolate mints chiefly because you like to have containers for leftovers, then your persuasive strategy in love would be….(Predicting Results).” It’s good to quote a joke from somewhere else. In a chapter section on developing you vocabulary, I quoted Frank Burns (played by Larry Linville) from M*A*S*H when he said, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” “Nice” makes the short list as one of the most overused words.

Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers is a rare advanced grammar chapter section that is funny from start to finish. Much of the section shows how a sentence’s meaning can be totally changed through placement of the words: “almost, only, just, nearly, and even.” To end, I’ve actually provided a risqué, but cautionary, model declarative sentence. Here’s a way to use a pair of dashes, “She had all the qualities a gentleman could want—a steady job, social adeptness, and a lack of meanness—but a far different type of female enamored him.” Bad!

Thank you very much. You’ve been a receptive audience. Feel free to read and laugh.

Sustainability in Composition: The Qualities of Critics, According to Marcus Berger & Textbook Engagement and Humor

Sustainability in composition answers the six qualities of critics, according to Crisis in Criticism by Marcus Berger; (1) curiosity, (2) attentiveness, (3) concern, (4) vision, (5) art and language, and (6) debate a critic makes available. The last quality caught my attention first, for sustainability in composition allows a student to report on his/her neighborhood without fear of attack for being too regional, multicultural, or liking contemporary music too much. An instructor should model curiosity, attentiveness, and concern—the first three qualities of Berger’s good critic—by allowing a wide range of model essays. Before long, our instructor’s edited student essays will be able to complement his/her own model essays and inspire the students. Finally, art and language (#5) can happen in an essay when students get to write about topics, such as their favorite music genre or art form.

Now let’s examine textbook engagement as another issue of sustainability in composition. Earlier this year at a local downtown arts event, I read a selection of largely amusing model sentences from my Developmental English/Writing textbook, together with their particular category.

Let’s look at three examples. Here’s a way to joke about the generation gap while providing instruction in commonly confused words, “I can’t understand why so many young people wear (lose/loose) jeans and why flared jeans and bell-bottoms haven’t made a comeback.” Early in the semester, I demonstrate how prepositions are often about space and begin with the letters, “a,b,o,u, or t” (another preposition)with this sentence, “The teacher threw an eraser over the students’ heads.” This is an account of rare physical humor in a classroom. I illustrated the use of a dash to prevent an added-detail fragment while saluting Whitney Houston and admitting to hording cats with the following statement, ” He has found the greatest joy of all–to have a pack of red cats.”

Later I realized that such model sentences add to textbook engagement for students, and that can be another aspect of sustainability in composition. According to Berger’s Six Qualities of Critics, I believe it shows #2 attentiveness, #3 concern, and #5 art and language. Textbooks have been criticized largely for their rocketing expense and frequently trivial revisions, but lack of engagement is a problem too. Who wants to read an expensive, boring textbook if you can get away with it? Hopefully, these practices show #4 vision, but I would be afraid to claim that for myself.

This addendum will be linked to my http://independent.academia.edu/JDMeyer article, “College Composition Topics: Give Regional a Chance.”