Monday, December 05, 2005

Getting Voted Off the Island is one of my all-time favorite websites, and I visit it several times a day. The premise is fairly simple--just have members submit links to interesting or oddball news stories, but the hook is that they get to rewrite the headlines. As a mildly-talented scribe, this has a great appeal to me. (Sadly, however, none of my submissions have ever been greenlighted. Of course the conspiracy-theorist in me knows that it's because I've never coughed up the $5 per month Total Fark subscription). Hell, I even collect my favorite headlines and post them here on occasion. A couple of my other favorite features of the site are the photoshop and caption contests, and lord knows how much time I waste browsing that content. There are some seriously funny and talented people that frequent the place, even if the majority of them are politically babes-in-the-woods (but that's a mild annoyance that I don't wish to rant about at this point).

Anyhow, when I woke up early this morning, I found this extremely interesting thread, the topic of discussion being 'If you could vote somebody off of the Food Network, who would it be?'.

I posted a quick comment there, but I think I'll expound here on my own site. First of all, I love the Food Network--it is the best 'background tv' station available, except for maybe the digital music channels. Since I don't watch much prime-time tv due to my work schedule and most daytime programming involves talk shows, soap operas, and commercials for products that I am anatomically unable to use, the Food Network is generally where I keep my tv tuned during the day.

But I also like it because sometimes I stumble onto some great recipes and interesting features. I really enjoy watching The Best Of, just because every now and again I find myself in a city where they've featured a restaurant and y'all know how I love trying out new restaurants. But the cooking shows are generally pretty good, with few exceptions.

I've tried watching Iron Chef a few times, but I never got into it. Cooking competitions are cool and all, but anytime something gets "made for TV" the suckiness factor increases exponentially. And I hate how people behave differently when they know they're on camera. Iron Chef just exacerbates this problem. (Which reminds me, Emeril--call your office!)

Speaking of Emeril, I used to like his show a lot, but it's becoming a cliched self-parody. Enough with the whole pork-fat/booze/gahlic/onions/catchphrase banality. Personality is cool and all, but the recipes should be the feature. Otherwise, ditch the apron and get a talk show.

But it seems that a lot of people really don't like Bobby Flay. I've got no problem with the Flaymeister, but it just seems odd to me that somebody with such a conspicuous New York accent could turn out decent (but pricey) Tex-Mex derived dishes. Granted, I haven't made it down to the Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace yet to sample his wares, but once I do I'm sure my opinion of Bobby Flay will be more comprehensive. In the meantime, I still enjoy watching his shows, accent be damned.

As much dislike and ill-will seems to be directed at Bobby Flay, the exact opposite seems to be the norm for Alton Brown. Everybody loves Alton. I enjoy his show in small doses, but the campy skits and crap that's included in every episode really irritate me. Just give us the Hows & Whys and leave the lame drama club inanity on the editing room floor, please. Maybe then it won't take a half hour to explain how to make pizza dough. Otherwise, his show is chock full of scientificky goodness.

A lot of the commenters directed their ire at Tyler Florence's alleged condesencion. Hmm...I don't really see a lot of that, and he's actually one of my favorite personalities on the network. There have been many times that I'd love to have an expert like that looking over my shoulder while I'm in the kitchen. Hell, even if he wants to take over, so be it, but at least I'll learning from the master. My ego wouldn't be bruised too severely if he told me I was doing something wrong. But isn't that the point of his show, to correct the common mistakes that people are making? Besides, he does that one show with the tasty Jack Hourigan--Food TV's equivalent of a boy named Sue...

That brings me to a couple of hosts that I just find unwatchable. Michael Chiarello and Ina Garten. Michael Chiarello's show just has that whole Napa county snobbery vibe that I find 0ff-putting. And of course I don't know the first thing about the guy personally, but if he's not campaigning to be Grand Marshall of the next Gay Pride parade, I don't know who is. Time to come out of the closet, Mike--nobody serves chardonnay when they invite their friends over to 'watch football'. As far as Ina Garten goes, some of her recipes are ok, but it seems that all of her friends that she cooks for seem to be bowtie-wearing theatre critics straight (ok, bad pun) out of the Nathan Lane mold. Clearly the dinner companions from hell as far as I'm concerned. But then again, I'm a cretin that doesn't use a glass when I drink beer, so they probably wouldn't like me all that much, either. I don't mean to sound homophobic, because there's certainly more to it than that. I just don't like either of their shows.

It seems that a lot of people don't much care for Paula Deen, either. As a former southern gentleman, I find her recipes appealing in a comfort-food sort of way. Of course none of them are good for you--if you ate that shiat every day you'd be dead within a year. However, if I had to choose one person from Food TV to cook dinner for me, I'd probably choose her. My main gripe, however, is her two-syllable pronunciation of the word 'Ham'. Good lord--even my inner hillbilly shakes his head in disbelief.

Those of you that have followed my internets blatherings for any length of time know that I find Giada de Laurentiis extremely hot. Yeah, her head is disproportionately large, but so is my ass, so I can overlook that. The only thing I don't care for is the fact that she uses so much lemon in every farking recipe (Well, that and the whole over-pronunciation of Italian words--that drives me nuts). There is no way that Italians use that much lemon. Aside from the Italian dishes, I like watching her show because the director always manages to get closeups of her ample cleavage. I think the man has a future directing movies from somewhere in the San Fernando Valley if he ever leaves the Everyday Italian gig.

Another of my favorites, is the Food TV uber-milf Sandra Lee. Some people discount her as a Martha Stewart wannabe, minus of course the stint in the federal lockup, but the big difference for me is that she concentrates mostly on real life recipes made out of stuff generally found in the pantry--I never got much out of Martha's cookie decorating tips or instructions on how to make baby-shower decorations out of leftover Christmas ribbon. Granted, most of Sandra's recipes are simple affairs, but nobody cooks gourmet every day in the real world. I'm just waiting for an opportunity to bust out her crockpot version of wild mushroom risotto that I picked up a few weeks ago. I also like the fact that every episode of Semi Homemade features a cocktail of some sort. Gotta love a woman who knows her way around the bar! I just wish she'd drop the whole 'tablescape' nonsense, that's all. When that happens, the Martha Stewart comparisons would end once and for all.

I guess this brings me to who I'd vote off the network if I had the chance. This is the easiest choice ever--I cannot stand Rachel Ray. She would definitely be the first to go! There are a few things that put me into an immediate ass-kicking rage--Paul McCartney tunes, slow drivers in front of me, telemarketers calling my cellphone... But the sound of her nails-on-the-blackboard voice along with her shitty-assed shows, irritate me more than commercials featuring the sound of a crying baby. $40 A Day is a great concept, but it's unwatchable. She always picks the nastiest, cheapest thing on the menu and tips like a depression-era grandmother after a losing night at the blackjack tables. I'm tired of every show featuring a closeup of her scary Joker-face as she takes a bite followed by some sort of contrived moan trying to portray just how tasty her goat-cheese-and-arugula spinach wrap (served with a glass of water) is...

And what's the deal with an entire subculture of freaks in this world that think she is hot? She is NOT hot. Eva Mendez is hot. Lucy Lui is hot. Kari Wuhrer is hot. Misty the cocktail waitress-who-won't-give-me-the-time-of-day is hot. I repeat, Rachel Ray is not hot. Rachel Ray is the annoying pear-shaped female equivalent of a hand grenade that your wingman buddy throws himself onto so that you can bag her good-looking friend.

Seriously, if the Food Network got rid of all of Rachel Ray's shows and replaced them with athlete's foot treatment and bathroom-cleaner infomercials, I'm sure their viewship would skyrocket.

It's time to dump her like a psycho girlfriend.


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