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The Least of The Best of The Next Food Network Star

About three years ago I was forced into a commitment with DirecTV because Frontier no longer wanted to deal with the FIOS system they inherited from Verizon. Or at least they hadn’t any interest in dealing with it in my area, as it was not nearly as profitable as their East and West Coast markets. Now, it seems, Frontier are pleased to be offering the once-anathema FIOS to their customers here in the armpit of America and I immediately took advantage of the offer. I hate DirecTV and could not wait to be finished with them. I don’t care how clever their adverts are. Their system is bloody awful.

The slight downside of switching back – to take place on 17th December – is that I have to clear off my current DirecTV DVR, either burning all the recorded programming to a DVD or sitting and watching them. So far I’ve opted for the latter of the two choices. It’s a brutal task, but one which must be done. Even if it means sitting through the occasionally slightly interesting Sleepy Hollow I’ve let pile up, or the litany of films recorded off SyFy or the odd ‘premium’ channel during free promotional periods.

One of the curious finds I discovered deep in the DVR was The Best of The Next Food Network Star, which I’d evidently recorded on 26 June 2011, just prior to the start of series 7.

My self-imposed moratorium on all things Food Network continues unabated, with the one exception of it being on once whilst I was at a friend’s house nearly a month ago. I felt it rude to storm out of the house or kick in her television screen, so I simply dealt with it as best I could under the circumstances. Which was to talk a lot and make her finally turn the volume down. So there was a moment the other night when I debated over watching the programme or simply deleting it from the DVR and moving on.

Eventually I decided that, considering it had been transmitted more than two years before my moratorium was in place, and because it was created just prior to the complete downward spiral of Food Network, and because it had run on Cooking Channel rather than on Food Network, I would take a look.

As these things go, there was nothing terribly new or exciting about the programme. It was merely a self-congratulatory hour of empty fluff and a cursory look back at the previous years before it all went so fantastically and unwatchably pear shaped.

fall-lisaThere was the silly fun of seeing ‘Nikki’s Big Spill’ from series 3, Commander Lisa’s ‘Sauce Disaster’ from series 4 (a personal favourite of mine), the pretender JAG very nearly setting the studio aflame in series 3 because he’s a fucking twat, having Farmer Alexis’ doughy beignets from series 6 being called ‘unedible’ by the ‘vey egzited’ Wolfgang Puck and almost making him cry, Jeffrey’s shitty risotto from series 5, Tom’s bacon steak from series 5 called ‘the single worst dish’ in the history of The Next Food Network Star, and squirming once more through Aaron’s cringingly unfunny performance at some posh Las Vegas hotel in front of a bunch of female impersonators. Good times… good times.

There were the contentious personal battles between Brianna and Serena in series 6, Teddy and Debbie Lee (whom, I have been lead to understand, is likely Korean) and their unfortunate ‘meatloaf collaboration,’ Alicia and Paul Stanley from series 7 – and, well, Paul Stanley and very nearly everyone from series 7. Cunt.

We got to go through some of the sob stories over wrestling with personal demons, an inescapable part of each series, and enjoyed a look back at some ‘fan favourites’ who didn’t win but who went on to have their own programmes anyway – Adam, Kelsey, Jeffrey, (they missed out on Tom, though), and Commander Lisa who doesn’t have her own programme, thankfully, but who does currently sell some aprons.

And then they talked about the winners, like Amy. Sigh. Oh Amy…

But in keeping with the fine tradition of The Next Food Network Star, there were also a few spit-take moments of unbridled fiction and absurd pronouncements. For example, only just two minutes into the programme, whilst addressing the selection process for new Sith Apprentices for each series, a soft-focus and perky Susie Fogelson explained to someone off screen:

‘So of the thousands of people that enter, we narrow it down to the very best of the best.’

Somehow she’d managed to state this hilarious prevarication with an absolutely straight face, not bothering to explain how this ‘very best of the best’ notion fitted in with having our noses metaphorically rubbed in the culinary pee stains of JAG, Cory, Eddie, Teddy, Farmer Alexis, DAS, Howie, Juba, Vic ‘Vegas,’ Big Chris, Malcolm, Paul Stanley, Whinging Twat Judson, Stupid Hat Guy or whomever your least favourite, most incapable Sith Apprentice might have been. She did admit, though, our Susie, that getting on the programme wasn’t nearly as difficult as living through it.

‘It’s not just about the cooking,’ Susie went on to say. ‘It’s absolutely positively about having a winning personality on camera.’

In response to this, I would again direct the reader to the preceding paragraph.

Shortly thereafter, Bob T added:

‘One place you really see the nerves start to fray and the stress come out is in the kitchen.’

And given that the nature of the competition is, as the name would indicate, a cooking show and, therefore, a prerequisite is that a great deal of it would necessarily take place in a kitchen, young Bob’s observation tends to fall into the category of the blatantly obvious.

Needless to say, of course, they didn’t address the clear fact that, as the years went on, they became more interested in manufacturing drama for the sake of higher ratings by casting and then crashing together some of the worst possible combinations of people, and they also glaringly sidestepped the fact that they often establish and then promptly ignore their own rules of play, allowing them to eliminate such amazing talent –  like Emily Ellyn – in favour of those with more style than substance. And by style I mean those who can whinge the best.

Perhaps the biggest revelation from this snooze-worthy bit of masturbation was discovering just how much I don’t miss Food Network. I haven’t decided when my moratorium will end but, for now, the freedom has been surprisingly glorious.

Corroborating Evidence

‘I’m looking for something with Arm and Hammer Baking Soda in it that will absorb odours and make smells be better.’

‘You mean in a paint?’

‘Mm-hm. But the paint with the baking soda in it. Do they make something like that? I heard they make that now.’

‘I have Dutch Boy Refresh,’ I pointed to a large display to her left, ‘which is made with baking soda. It’s a low odour, low V.O.C. paint and helps eliminate general household odours.’

‘And that has baking soda in it?’


‘Do you have that?’

I glanced at the enormous display I’d just indicated, the enormous display advertising the benefits of Dutch Boy Refresh. ‘It’s right here.’ I walked her five steps away from the enormous display and indicated the eight foot high, twenty foot long shelving unit housing several hundred gallons of Dutch Boy Refresh. ‘In this aisle.’

‘Oh,’ she seemed to understand. ‘Is this the same thing?’


‘As what you just showed me out there?’

I glanced at the several hundred Dutch Boy Refresh labels to my right. ‘It’s all Dutch Boy Refresh, yes.’ I rested my finger on a nearby can, pointing out the words Dutch Boy Refresh for clarification.

‘So you have that, then?’

Do you seriously want me to answer that question, or was pointing it out to you so that you could clearly see the labels somehow insufficient? Pause. Then: ‘It’s… right here. Yes.’

‘And that has the baking soda in it like the other one?’

‘…’ I blinked at her. ‘…it does. Yes.’

‘Okay. Well I’ll have one of those.’

‘Do you have a specific colour in mind?’

‘Oh. What colour do you have?’

I glanced at the several thousand colour samples on the four enormous, brightly lighted displays we were standing between. ‘How about white?’

Muppets & Clowns

creepy-clownTaking a random stroll through my Facebook contacts the other day, I noticed that I was suddenly no longer ‘friends’ with a few people. And I thought they’d just been fairly silent lately.

I wasn’t particularly upset or annoyed by the abrupt banishing, because it seems to happen relatively frequently for some reason, but I did find it to be both enlightening and rather amusing.

One of the people in question had been a somewhat recent addition to my ‘friends’ list – a former instructor I’d had at university. She taught folklore under the anthropology department. The last interaction I’d had with her was roughly a week earlier. I’d posted my disgust at having heard on the ‘music’ channel at Big Box DIY – and far in advance of the relevant holiday – The 12 Days of Christmas as performed by the Muppets.

First of all, I hate Christmas music. Hate Christmas music. HATE. IT. It is, to me, next to rap, the scourge of musical entertainment. Also, I’m not a fan of Christmas. It is not a holiday I celebrate. So having this syrupy dreck forced upon me at every turn is very like torture to me.

And one of the worst musical offenders in this snivelling, ululating genre is The 12 Days of Christmas. I simply cannot abide that fucking song. It is, to me, the equivalent of fingernails across a chalkboard. Combine this jangling, repetitive atrocity with the squealing falsetto of Miss Piggy, and play it several times a day over the course of more than two months, and I want to go on a five state killing spree.

‘I love the Muppets!’ had been her objection to my complaint. And she went on to provide lengthy discourse on the relative merits of puppetry and the need to never release the embrace of one’s inner child and blah blah blah, and concluded with an admonition that I must be very dour indeed not to delight in the joy of Christmas (‘I wish it could be Christmas every day of the year and it can’t come soon enough for me!’) and the ‘whimsical nature’ of appreciating having a discordant song shouted at you in whinging falsetto by a man with his fist stuffed up a toy pig’s ass.

I responded by saying that though I have nothing specifically against the Muppets, and that I quite enjoy Statler and Waldorf or even The Land of Gorch on occasion,  I do, however, embrace my ‘whimsical nature’ in ways which do not include puppets or clowns.

I could almost hear an audible gasp in her reply when she stated that ‘those who deny that part of their nature are the people who never seem to be happy.’

My follow-up was simply that I can be quite happy, thank you, without Muppets and clowns to validate my whimsy.

And then I was no longer her ‘friend.’

Seemed rather an extreme measure to take simply because we disagreed over something so thoroughly meaningless. But then I suppose if this sort of action is a person’s typical response to argument or debate, rather than engaging in considered and thoughtful dialogue, then perhaps it indicates their embrace on their inner childishness is stronger than they’d imagined…


Life In The Friend Zone & Other Happy Stories

So needless to say it’s been a couple of months since my last post.

The long silence hasn’t been intentional – I’ve certainly wanted to post, actually meant to post – but sometimes these things happen. Part of the reason, as with most of these annoying dry spells, has a lot to do with my university schedule and the particular classes I’m taking. In this case Algebra. Which I’ve got absolutely no understanding of at all, as the three of you know from previous entries. The other part of it has to do with a loads of personal issues. And though I do not tend to shy away from airing them here on occasion, I do sometimes feel as though they aren’t terribly interesting and that I’m simply talking to myself when I write about them.

Of course I feel like I’m talking to myself most of the time anyway, so there’s that.

In my last post, just down below a bit, I went on a bit of whinging regarding my fascination with a woman at work called Miranda. Since that post we, Miranda and I, have had a date (of sorts) and a very weighty conversation, the bottom line of which is that I am ‘so not’ her type but we can still go out, we just can’t ‘go out.’

I was gutted, obviously, because every indication I’d got off her prior to that time was that there may possibly be some mutual interest despite our age difference. But no.

In the meantime, another woman I work with – although not as often – had begun showing what I thought to be an interest in me. I’m not sure if it came about because of my constant talking about Miranda or if I’d just not previously noticed it because Miranda was so much of a distraction to me. Regardless, she – the other one, Rebecca – was quite keen to point out with great frequency that she, in fact, had a boyfriend. This was a regular part of casual conversation, almost used like a warning of sorts. As such I never encouraged or initiated anything (because cheating is something I cannot abide). The one exception to that was when she met me, somewhat surprisingly, for drinks after work one evening. I say it was a surprise because though we’d often talked about drinking after work (as disgruntled employees often do) it was something which I’d never really expected to happen. People constantly talk about things they want to do and never do them.

She’d begun texting frequently, and at all hours, after that night and I began to find myself getting rather uncomfortable with the situation. Not because I had no interest in her – because I did have – but because of her relationship status. Coming between two people was not at all something I wanted to do. Then, two weeks later, she came to work in a miserable state and explained that her boyfriend had walked out on her. Apparently she’d discussed her post-graduate plans with him and he wanted no part of them.

I told her I felt terrible for her and that if she wanted to talk, I was available.

And that was virtually the last time she’s spoken to me. Now she avoids almost any contact with me unless it’s absolutely required by the mandate of our job.

That’s where things stand at the moment. Miranda has cast me to the dark pit of The Friend Zone, Rebecca won’t speak to me for whatever ridiculous reason unless it’s absolutely necessary, I’m struggling with maths, and I’m still avoiding Food Network like the plague.

Long-time readers who may recall my previous on-line dating experience ending in a Nigerian money scam will be happy to note that, despite having deleted my account with that service, I received an email off them a few days ago begging for me to reactivate my account because they’d evidently scoured the globe and found a nice girl for me called Mathew.

Some days I just don’t understand anything…