PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Odd Stuff

The steaming bowl of scallops arrives amid oohs and aahs. Placed between the two patrons, with accompaniments of crusty bread and chopped up things, this is an easily shared appetizer. The scallops are the size of hockey pucks, kings of edible bivalves when set against wimpy little mussels and clams. “I’m glad we didn’t order the salad as well,” says one of the customers, nibbling. Yes, who would want all those extra calories?

Soon, a dilemma arises: the scallops number only three. An even number of puckish hunks of sea meat would have been easier to divide; now these two gals will have to arm wrestle for the remaining disk. Says one of patrons to the waiter, “Can we order another scallop?”

“Another order?” he suggests.

“No, another scallop. There are only 3 so we can’t split the dish evenly.”

The waiter’s face barely betrays his bemusement (or is befuddlement?). He complies with the request, though it’s easy to see that he’s thinking, “Christ, they weigh half a pound each. Can’t you just cut one of them in half?”

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The Meathead Inside Me

There may be thousands of qualified pit masters out there capable of smoking their way through an animal’s ribcage or some other gnarly cut of meat, but I’ve narrowed down my advice-taking to just two sources: Meathead Goldwyn of the site amazingribs.com and the BBQ Pit Boys.

The biggest difference between these two ambassadors of outdoor cookery is that Amazingribs.com has more science and requires you to read, while the BBQ Pit Boys have a widely-followed YouTube channel and look like members of the band ZZ Top when they throw a few frogs on the grill. Also, I’m not sure that Meathead has ever cooked either a reptile or an amphibian. Having eaten alligator once (on Sanibel, an island within the boundaries of Florida that is nevertheless entirely bereft of strip malls), I can’t see myself ever seeking out one of these critters for my grill.

Of course, once you begin surfing the ‘net, you’re basically allowing your every move to be tracked by search engines and their evil advertising funders (“it’s part of the unwritten contract”). And so the internet, having observed me seeking countless recipes, has begun to direct me to online methods for cutting up live lobsters, rendering squid into sashimi in a less than five minutes, and so forth.

Soon to come: my suggestions for pairing frogs’ legs with Belgian Ales.

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Ghost Story

Downton Abbey can bring back Gwen, the former maid and current “Mrs. Harding,” wife to Hillcroft College treasurer John Harding, and have her tell the story of the young feminist Lady Sybil helping her get her first job, but don’t for a second think this counts as bringing back Sybil as a ghost.

If this is your idea of a ghost, then you’ve got some thinking to do. In some people’s minds, you can feel the presence of a ghost in a conversation at the dining room table, hear it in people’s voices and “see” the long-dead person who's being discussed in the eyes of everyone affected by her. My idea is that when a ghost enters a room, you actually lay eyes on the physical specimen, preferably in a flattering costume.

For example, the next time Robert winces from another episode of whatever it is that is causing the stabbing pain in his gut and is destined to kill him, have it be when he’s alone in the drawing room so he doesn’t get to say to Lady Grantham, “I can’t drink Bourbon any longer, unless, of course, it’s Knob Creek.” Instead, have him keel over and appear to actually be dying. And then, as it looks like some essential internal pipe has blown and he’s hemorrhaging bigtime, have Sybil appear in her nurse’s garb to staunch the wound with heavy pressure applied to the abdomen, whilst kicking over a couple of tables and chairs to awaken the house.

Tom and Mary are first to arrive, and it’s no coincidence that they are together. They don’t see Sybil and neither does Robert, but he sure feels her and is doubled over from the pressure she’s applying to his gut, which is actually saving the man’s life.

Doctor Clarkson is quickly summoned, and during the wait Lady Sybil comes to see in the guilty faces of Tom and Mary that…well…”finally you two!” (She doesn’t care! Do you think she was going to wait all those years in heaven for Tom to get old and flabby and die?)

Needless to say, there should be evidence of more such scenes to come "On the next episode of Downtown Abbey."

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I Defer

Why have I been taking the ball in the first half for all these years? Just because the coin toss ends up in my favor doesn’t mean I should automatically opt for getting possession at the start of the game. Maybe I should give the kids the ball instead and see if they can get past my stout defense.

The children will totally not suspect me of thinking through my options until they find themselves facing my offense at the end of the half, when I bleed the clock dry and score, leaving them with no time to counter. In the second half I’ll take possession again and will run 8 minutes off the clock before scoring. How ya like me now, punks!

Deferring is going to be my new philosophy on how to manage life’s metaphorical ball-possession issues.

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The New Look, Feel, and Smell

Suddenly, just when you were finally getting comfortable with my website, I go and reorganize information into 3 columns instead of just two, add links to other sites (right hand column, scroll down a bit), and install a tag cloud (just below it) that's claims to be unused. Why?! “The next thing you know he’ll be running ads!” Read On

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