Cafe 227

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Half-Smoke: Not a Hot Dog

Here's my beef (pun intended; it's late) with Melissa Frederick's coverage of Ben's Chili Bowl's expansion in the Examiner.

"Ben's Chili Bowl...[is] a pioneer of D.C.'s signature food, the half smoke, a type of hot dog."

The half-smoke is no more a "type of hot dog" than a steak is a type of hamburger. It's clearly a sausage. (In fact, I would go so far as to classify "hot dog" as a type of sausage - "sausage" is the more general term, referring to all types of meats that are minced and stuffed into an outer shell or casing.)

No doubt that this reporter from the Examiner just moved to DC from, say, Indianapolis, and has no idea what a half-smoke is. So she just copied what she found on Wikipedia. And we all know that Wikipedia isn't exactly a paragon of accuracy. (My friend and occasional Cafe 227 co-contributor Conor, a distinguished attorney, was once listed on the Notorious BIG's Wikipedia page as having collaborated with Biggie on a rap song...)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Thoughts and Prayers"

The recent death of Indiana football coach Terry Hoeppner is an absolute tragedy. Unfortunately, it has provoked the familiar litany of press-release mourning:

The Indiana AD Rick Greenspan said, "This is a truly sad day for our community and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Hoeppner family and to those whose lives he has touched."

So many times we hear this increasingly trite phrase:

-- Upon the death of a Marine ("I extend my deepest thoughts and prayers to his family at this time." -Senator Olympia Snowe)

-- After a burst boiler at a rubber plant ("First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with (Evans))

-- In the wake of the drowning of an 11 year old boy ("Accidents can truly happen," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.")

I'm not trying to minimize the impact of these events or their tragic implications, quite the contrary. I am baffled that people, in a time when families are clinging to every word they hear and trying to pick up the pieces after a tragedy, succumb to laziness and use a virtually meaningless phrase.

I remember in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, every politician discussed how his/her "thoughts and prayers are with the families." This took 2 seconds.

Why couldn't someone, when asked, try to say something meaningful, like, "I truly cannot imagine what these people are going through. It is unspeakable pain. I wish there was something I could say or do to improve the situation, but I just can't. I'm going to try to make sure the families have the resources they need, both emotionally and financially, and work to try to prevent something like this from happening."

Or even,

"I just don't know what to say."

But "thoughts and prayers"? All it shows is that you have neither thought nor prayed about the grief you're trying to assuage.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two American Heroes

I took this picture when I was at Pittsburgh International Airport a few weeks ago:

The one on the left is Franco Harris. The one on the right I didn't recognize, but the placard beneath him said that he was responsible for the Whiskey Rebellion. Jerk.