Open Letter to Food Network

Hi Food Network. It’s time we had a talk.

I’ve been largely stuck in the house for the past 6 months with the birth of my twins, and I’ve watched a lot of Food Network in that time. I think you need to reevaluate what types of shows you are now putting on your air. Seriously. You only have 4 basic types of shows anymore and you just rehash them over and over. I want to like you, but you make it really difficult. I present to you your programming in nutshell.

1. Competition shows where someone gets eliminated
Offending shows: Next Food Network Star, Worst Cooks in America, Chopped, Iron Chef America (sort of)…

Is there anything more tired and played out than the episodic shows where people (possibly in 2 teams) compete and someone gets eliminated every week? (ie. Star and Cooks). I know it’s not just you, it’s every single network on TV. Still, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it ok for you to do. I’m fairly certain I can’t take another show in that “Survivor/Apprentice” vein. Honestly. Next Food Network Star is always exactly the same. People struggle with talking and cooking simultaneously and get nervous on camera. We get it. But, I’m assuming like a lot of your shows, it’s cheap to produce and gets ratings. For the record, I think “Worst Cooks” was completely rigged and those people were all actors… bad ones at that.

“Chopped” is strangely addictive but it’s not perfect. One of the main problems is the same with Iron Chef… at least half of the “secret ingredients” I have no idea what the hell they taste like. Most of the time, I’ve never even heard of them. When you pull out some sheep testicle and dried tambaqui I have absolutely no basis for reference for what that might taste like. I’m sure you do that deliberately to make it tough for the competitors, but it makes it a bit less interesting for me. The only interesting ICA battles to me are when they get a common ingredient and are forced to use it creatively. At least I know what cheddar cheese or hamburger tastes like, so I can appreciate what the chefs are doing to it.

Best part of ICA? Alton Brown. Worst part? “Champion of battle XXX… Iron Chef XXX“. I know the Iron Chefs are good, but if they win every single time, it ceases to be interesting.

2. Shows where all of the drama comes from some arbitrary time limit
Offending shows: Dinner: Impossible, Restaurant: Impossible, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Challenge, Chopped, ICA, Cupcake Wars, Worst Cooks in America

Why? Why must everything have some clock ticking down to create forced drama? I know that in restaurants speed is very important. But you know what? I’d guess that a full 95% of your viewers don’t work in restaurants, have never worked in restaurants and will never become a line cook. Why must everything be so rushed and be on such a deadline? I’m pretty sure that when I’m cooking at home, the recipe doesn’t start with , “Ok, you only have 23 minutes and 17 seconds to finish this! Starting…NOW!” Why can’t the food be the star and we the viewer be treated to watching a true master take their time to create something special? My life moves fast enough. I don’t need to watch people sweating a timer for my enjoyment. If anything, it may be adding a vague subconscious stress to my life that I just don’t need. Maybe if it was just one show using this trick that would be fine. But when it’s used over and over again. Ugh.

I feel it needs to be said. Your show “Challenge” is only very tangentially related to food at all. Just because they are using chocolate and sugar to create another 4-foot tall princess castle, nobody is going to eat it. If nobody cares what it tastes like, it ceases to be food at that point. There really is no difference in using sugar than using any other cast-able, brittle substance. But I digress.

I think one of the worst offenders of the “time limit drama” is Restaurant: Impossible. I like Robert Irvine. I like that he doesn’t take crap from anyone and tells these delusional restaurant owners that their places suck and he’s gonna fix it. Why on earth does he get stuck with that arbitrary 2 day limit? Why can’t he have all the time he needs to get everything done he needs to really help those people out? I mean, this is these peoples’ livelihoods. And just because the producers set an arbitrary 2 day limit, the resulting product may not be everything it could have been.

3. Shows where you visit restaurants around the country and show what’s good
Offending shows: Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Kid in a Candy Store, Meat and Potatoes, Outrageous Food, any Giada or Rachel Ray show

Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with these shows. I’ve enjoyed them. I’m sure if anything I’ve watched them a little too much. Here is my major problem with these. I would be willing to bet that a full 99.9% of the places you feature in these shows I will never EVER make it to. Once I realized that, I couldn’t watch the shows with the same enthusiasm. Now every time I see one all it does is make me hungry for something I won’t get and remind me that chances are very good I will never end up in the town you’re visiting. Not to mention, even if I do visit said town, the chances of my remembering that there was a specific dish at some specific restaurant that I wanted to try are pretty friggin slim.

Wait, remember when I said there wasn’t anything inherently wrong with these shows? I take it back. There is… and it’s name is Guy Feiri. The host of the show I refer to as “Diners, Drive-ins and Douchebags”. In the beginning, he was ok… in small doses. But anymore, you’ve got this guy on your air in 2 hour blocks and that shtick runs pretty thin after a while. I think I’ve had enough sweatbands and frosted tips for a while. But again, I know that show is probably ridiculously cheap to produce, with the major expenses being hair care products and transporting his convertible all over the country.

Finally, the worst type of show on your air…

4. Shows about cake
Offending shows: Ace of Cakes (which I’m assuming started this trend), Cupcake Wars, Challenge, Have Cake Will Travel, Last Cake Standing

C’mon. Seriously. ENOUGH with the friggin cake. The absolute last thing that anyone on this planet needs is yet another show about cake. These shows aren’t even about how to make a good cake… they are about how to make a cake look like anything BUT a cake. Ultimately, there are simply glorified design shows. If I wanted to watch design shows, I could go to Bravo or TLC. I go to Food Network because I want to watch shows about food. Cake, although delicious, is not in need of this much PR. A few years ago, I enjoyed Ace of Cakes. It was new. The people were kinda interesting. Duff was kinda fun. But, after a season or 2 I realized that it’s all just brightly colored fondant (which is largely inedible by the way) molded into shapes. Over and over. I’m assuming Duff realized it too and mercifully killed his show.

Honestly, I can’t even comment on any of the other cake shows you are currently running in endless loops. I boycott them on general principle. That, and watching that commercial of some chick carrying a cake while wading through a fountain certainly doesn’t scream “food” to me.

Please. I beg you. No… More… Cake…


Now, you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned your actual, you know, cooking shows. That’s because you cram all of those in the mornings when I, and most normal people, are working. I’ve watched a couple of them and sometimes they’re good… except for that amazing fraud Sandra Lee. But, you have long since gotten rid of my sole favorite of this genre: Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. You never even bother to replay the old episodes you have. A shame.

Don’t even get me started on what the hell “Ice Brigade” has to do with food. Read this description and tell me honestly that sounds like something that should be on a “Food Network”. The only way ice approaches food status is if it’s going into a mixed drink. Even then, it’s barely more “food” than the glass is.

There is another thing about your network that bothers me as well. So, while watching an evening of your programming, you are basically telling us about outstanding food and that there are a lot of great restaurants in this country and how good local food is, so on and so forth (of which I wholeheartedly agree). Then you cut to commercial and it’s a never ending parade of Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, and TGIFridays peddling their new “dynamite chicken flingers!”. Don’t you find that odd? Don’t you find that just a touch hypocritical? I’m fairly certain I haven’t seen ol’ Guy Feiri roll into some town and say, “Ya know… we should hit up the local Olive Garden!”. Chain restaurants are the lowest common denominator. The change from watching, say Iron Chef America, then cutting to a Red Lobster commercial is quite jarring… to say the least. If only your and/or broadcasters could figure out how to serve up targeted local advertising over a national network so, those small restaurants could advertise to the people most likely to visit them. That is what something like Food Network should be doing.

All of which gets me thinking… what show do I see listed on Food Network when I’m scanning through my DirecTV guide makes me excited and want to stop on your channel… Turns out there is only one show left that does that. Good Eats.

Unfortunately, it appears you no longer care about Good Eats since according to this, it’s ending and you never even bother to show repeats. According to your website, between now and June 6th, you are showing a grand total of 5 different episodes. That is pathetic. You’re showing 5 different episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives by tomorrow. Good Eats is the show that got me watching Food Network in the first place. More importantly, it was the show that made me want to start cooking. If it really is coming to an end, I hope you put the entire series out on DVD so I can buy it and just not bother to turn on Food Network ever again.

I suppose I just need to set my DVR to PBS and record a bunch of America’s Test Kitchen, since that’s the last bastion of entertaining and informative food programming left.

At least if they make a cake, they actually care about what it tastes like.

My Cellular History

I, like 91% of you out there, have a cell phone. I know that is not exactly news.

That is not the point of this post. Instead, I decided to go back in time and take a peek at my whole history of phones and see where technology has come. That should be fun, right?


My first phone ever. I vividly remember having to convince myself that it was a necessity and not a frivolity. I was still delivering pizzas at the time and thought it might come in handy. Prior to that, every time you took a pizza to someone’s house and they didn’t answer the door, you had to leave their house and either find a pay phone or head back to the store. Talk about a pain in the ass. Anyway, one fine day I walked into an AT&T store and picked out the most standard phone of the day. The Nokia 5100.

Talk about your functionality! It could both make AND receive phone calls! Imagine!

Wait, there was a game on there, Snake, which you could play with the 2,4,6 & 8 keys, steering a snake around the screen to eat dots. Quite the triumph.

The big selling point of this phone however was you could buy new snap-on face plates for it. Yeah! Customization baby. I had a green metallic cover that was pretty sweet.

This phone lasted me a few years until it was time to up the ante.


My next phone was one of my all time favorites, and to this day the smallest phone I have ever owned.The Nokia 8210.

I really loved that phone.

It was small. It made great phone calls and had terrific reception. Really it was everything you could have wanted in a phone in 2002.


When the time came to upgrade again, this was the first time that I needed to do some research. Nokia phones had kinda dropped off the quality scale and a lot of newcomers were making phones. So, in my usual method, I spent an inordinate amount of time reading reviews and trying to decide what phone to purchase.

Somehow, despite all that work, I was still able to buy a phone that did nothing but make me crazy. I “upgraded” from one of my favorite phones of all time to the one that I hated the most.

The Samsung SGH-E317

This thing was so bad that I even devoted an entire blog post as to how nuts it drove me.

This was my first flip phone. That was one aspect that I did enjoy… it gave me another thing to play with. Constantly flipping it open and closed. This phone had a nice motion to it. It was also great for displaying a little anger when needed because you could really close it hard. You know, kinda like slamming down your house phone. (Yes kids… there was a time where people had house phones and those phones had cords. Also, there was no button to shut them off, you actually placed them back on the hook to hang them up. Crazy talk, I know).

This phone holds the dubious distinction for being the only phone I’ve dumped before my contract was up. That’s how bad it was. I paid full price for its replacement rather than use it anymore.

I do have to say, it was on this phone that I received my first ever text message. It was from Jess. We were barely dating, and I was at a Boise State game. I felt my phone buzz and make a sound I’d never heard before. I didn’t know what it was doing, until I saw a notice that I’d gotten a text. Text? I don’t even know where to find that!

But, I did, and the rest is history.


Next up was the super sexy Motorola Razr v3.

Hooo boy… I’d call this one my first modern type of phone. Great for calls, and terrific for text.

This phone had it all. A web browser (such as it was back then). MP3 ringtones. You could connect it to your PC and perform functions on it. Manage your contacts. Add and remove pictures. For a geek like me, I was in heaven with this phone.

Super thin. Super light. Great screen.

Just an all around great phone. This has the distinction of being my last regular cell phone. From here, it was on to… SMARTPHONES!


Here we go. The big daddy. Yes, the Apple iPhone 3g.

I had resisted buying the first generation iPhone, even though I really really wanted it. I’m of the mindset that whenever new technology comes out, it’s best not to buy version 1. There are undoubtedly bugs and quirks and things that will get ironed out. Thus, when the iPhone 3g came out, I jumped on that like a dog on a bone.

You can read about my excited countdown here, the procurement adventure here, and the day of the arrival here.


As the pace of technology has increased, the once beloved iPhone is really showing its age. What was once the jewel of cutting edge, is now slow and plodding and kinda driving me crazy.

As recently as a month ago, I was on board with Apple and waiting patiently for the iPhone 5. I didn’t want to fork out the cash for an iPhone 4 just to have that become obsolete in a few months when the 5 was announced. But, iPhone 5 has not been announced yet. Everything is rumors and conjecture at this point.

As I’ve been waiting, I’ve been examining why I might continue to be in bed with Apple, when there are a number of super awesome Google Android based phones out there. There are many drawbacks to Apple. They lock everything down to the point where there is no customize-ability. iTunes is an absolute steaming pile of crap on the PC and sucks as both a music management and phone management platform. You can only sync your phone to 1 computer. So on and so forth. And really, I don’t own any other Apple products. I’ve been a PC guy from the very get go. The first Apple anything I’ve ever owned was this iPhone. I think I’m just weary of how Apple does things.

It was about a month ago Jess got an Android based phone from her office and I got to play with it. Turns out, I really like it. Obviously, I haven’t “lived” with it yet, but I’ve been doing a bunch of reading about Android and I really like what I hear. Android is growing by leaps and bounds. More users. More developers. More applications.

So, I’ve decided to divorce Apple for good. I’m gonna be an Android man.

And the phone I’m patiently waiting to purchase, once it’s released in the US, is the Samsung Galaxy S II. If I thought the iPhone was sexy, this thing will blow my mind. I won’t totally geek out about it here (you can read all about it in that linked review) but suffice it to say, I’m very excited. I love new things and this will be a total departure from my safe iPhone land.

Unfortunately, there is no official release date yet. The phone is out in Asia and Europe, but us unwashed Americans are going to have to wait. Hopefully not too long…

I’m sure I’ll be posting my thoughts about using it here once I finally get it.

Lessons For My Daughters

4 Months OldThis is what is planned to be the first of a series of posts I will be doing for Alex and Meri. I want to jot down life lessons and other words of advice for them as they grow up. And since placing things on the web is what I do, I might as well do it here.

I haven’t worked out the exact format these will take, so they may not be very consistent to start, but eventually I’ll find the sweet spot and will get a rhythm going. Some may be single lines. Some may be whole paragraphs. It’s all about how the mood strikes me. There will be no chronology. Kid lessons will be mixed in with adult lessons. You’ll figure it out. Let’s see where this goes…


Life Lessons for Alexandra and Meredith.

1. Your mom and dad will always love you no matter what.

2. Learn how to lose
You will undoubtedly grow up in this era where everyone gets a trophy for participation. People don’t “keep score” any more. People don’t want their precious snowflakes to have hurt feelings. You know what? Real life is not like that. Life does not give you awards just for showing up. Like it or not, life is about winning and losing. And if you are always made to feel like a winner, even when you didn’t actually do anything, you never learn what it really means to win. Winning is important. Losing is important. In my life, I have learned FAR more from losing than I ever did from winning. Losing teaches you what is essential. Losing can bring focus and drive and desire. Losing can help you figure out what is really meaningful in your life. If you compete and lose but don’t feel bad about it, it wasn’t that important to you to begin with. But, if you lose and it hurts like hell, then you know more about your desires. It will teach you to do what is necessary to achieve a victory. And because you worked for it, that victory will be all the sweeter.

Every single successful person in life will tell you one thing. They have lost more than they have won. But, because they knew losses were temporary setbacks that can be overcome, they didn’t let themselves become discouraged by them. You can be great… if you want it.

3. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

4. Please and thank you go a long way
This one is for your mother. Nothing makes her crazier than not saying please and thank you. I still make this mistake with her, though I try not to. You should make it a habit to thank anyone who provides you a service. I don’t care if it’s the cashier at the grocery store, the waiter in the restaurant, the driver in the cab. Everyone works hard in this world, and simple courtesy of “please” and “thank you” can really brighten someone’s day.

5. Sunblock is not optional. It is required.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I know there will come a time in the not too distant future where you both will pepper your mother and me with nonstop questions. Why what why where why? I promise to do my best to answer them for you. Even when I’m having a bad day and don’t feel like answering “what is the dog thinking?” for the 27th time.

7. Spend time reading every day
There are so many good books that you could never read them all in your lifetime, but you can sure try.

8. In history class, don’t be the person who asks, “do we have to know the dates?”
Even if your teacher doesn’t say so, dates are important. You should remember when the Civil War was. You should know when the Declaration of Independence was signed. You should know when Columbus landed in the new world. That is part of being an educated person.

9. If something is worth having, it’s worth paying cash for. Be very careful with credit.

10. Learn to drive a stick shift.
I will help you do this.  I know most cars nowadays are automatics, but someday you will be in a situation where the only available means of transportation will be a vehicle with a manual transmission. It’s not as hard as you think.

11. Make a big deal about Mother’s Day for your Mom. You wouldn’t believe how hard she works for you.

12. Be wary of anything you post online.
Before hitting “submit” think to yourself, is this something I want my parents, teachers, grandparents or boss to see? Nothing is “private” online. Know that anything you post online will be there forever.


That’s all I have for now, but I’m compliling a list which I will post periodically. You can find them all by clicking the “Lessons” category at the top of this post or in the right column.

I can’t wait to watch you grow up.