Friday, July 22, 2016

Best Ice Cream in Denver

So, it's about 95 degrees and sunny today in Denver, and that means we're going to need a nice way to cool down. At some point we're all going to want something cold, and Denver has no shortage of ice cream destinations. 

One of the best kept secrets of the West is that Denver is the type of place where you can enjoy ice cream year-round, with warm sunny days even in January.  And, there are plenty of fantastic ice cream parlors in the area.  If you're not going to head to King Soopers for some Ben and Jerry's or Haagen Daz, then you may just want to visit some of Denver's best ice cream spots.  For my money, there is no better place for ice cream than Little Man Ice Cream in the Highland's neighborhood.  Located on 16th Street in the Denver Highlands, just off Zuni and right next door to Highland's hotspot Linger, Little Man Ice Cream does not disappoint.  This fact is validated by the line that runs down the block on a regular basis.  Though, don't be put off by the line - it moves really fast and is completely worth the wait.

Little Man Ice Cream is located in an eclectic spot - a walk-up shop shaped like a giant milk container - and its flavors are great fun as well.  We always go for the hot fudge sundae - though recently we had it with the salted caramel ice cream rather than the traditional vanilla.  Whoa, Nelly.  It was all that. The whipped cream is fresh and light, the ice cream is rich and delicious, and the crushed nuts make it all perfect.  The richness of the ice cream is what makes Little Man Ice Cream better than the rest.  I know many people swear by Bonnie Brae - and it's not bad.  However, Bonnie Brae is almost cliche at this point.  It's actually better in myth than in practice.  When you really taste the ice cream, it seems more store-bought than parlor fresh.  Sweet Action on Broadway is also fabulous - especially when it comes to eclectic flavors.  The Stranahan's Whiskey Brickle is simply downright ridiculous.

But, when all is said and done, the best ice cream in Denver is found at Little Man Ice Cream in the Highlands.  Check it out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

As Teen Boys Head Back to School, Read "Carter Finally Gets It"

As summer wanes, and the school year approaches, there will be many anxious moments about a uniquely challenging but lovably genuine species of human - the adolescent boy. Teen boys are a wholly mess of emotions and energy, and it's sometime amazing that the human race survived knowing that all adult males had to be teen boys at some point. And as parents and teachers of teens, we are often left wondering just how those brains function - or more importantly if they function. How many times have adults asked teens, "What were you thinking?" when the reality is simply that they weren't thinking. They are mystifying, even to themselves, and we are constantly looking for someone to explain why they act that way. While doctors and psychologists and parents have a lot of insight into teen boys, no one does it quite so well as brilliant storyteller by the name of Brent Crawford.

That's why each year I highly recommend that teen boys and teen girls and teachers and parents read Crawford's hysterical look inside the mind of the adolescent male - Carter Finally Gets It.   Crawford's story, told in first person from the admittedly ADHD-challenged mind of Will Carter who is struggling to find himself and keep it all together during the crazy and intense phase of life known as Freshman Year.

Join Will Carter for his freshman year, when he’ll search for sex, love, and acceptance anywhere he can find it.  In the process, he’ll almost kill a trombone player, face off with his greatest nemesis, get caught up in a messy love triangle, suffer a lot of blood loss, narrowly escape death, run from the cops (not once, but twice), meet his match in the form of a curvy drill teamer, and surprise everyone, including himself.

I first read this book years ago when it was published, and I couldn't believe how honest and candid and accurate it was, knowing this world from my own adolescence and from twenty years in public education. Since then I have recommended it to so many people, especially high school students. The girls need to read it, so they can understand these bizarre peers of theirs who are so desperately trying to keep it all together and still look cool to the girls they worship but are also terrified of. And the boys need to read it so they understand themselves. And, of course, parents and teachers need to read it so they have a clue about what's going on in those cool detached demeanors occupying space in their homes and classrooms.

Crawford's book is timeless and should be required reading for any parent of a teenage boy. Start the year off right and read Brent Crawford's Carter Finally Gets It.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Charles Hill, Henry James, & David Brooks - "A Man on Whom Nothing is Lost"

For many years I've enjoyed the thoughtful and erudite columns of the New York Times' David Brooks. The weekly ponderings of a liberal newspaper's favorite conservative have a way of opening my mind to that which I hadn't considered before. Brooks certainly has his detractors, and its worsened in recent years as few conservatives will claim him and more liberals have become disgruntled that he's not as progressive as they thought - though he really is. And, of course, the critics love to slam him for his pretentious Ivy League elitism. But I still think he's doing some of the best pop culture scholarship around today.

One of my favorite columns by Brooks contains one of my favorite phrases in American literature. It is a phrase from Henry James that I use to guide my students. It's about being "a person on whom nothing is lost." There could be no more lofty goal for aspiring students, and David Brooks used it aptly in describing a Yale professor and career diplomat who had many inspiring life lessons for students in the infamous "Grand Strategy" class. It's a column worth reading and a idea worth pursuing. Brooks describes how Hill was a cosmopolitan man, a renaissance man, who brought an authoritative wisdom to the young intellectuals around him. Here is my favorite part:

Hill was famous for his ability to turn note-taking into an art form. He aspired to be, in Henry James's words, a man ''on whom nothing was lost.'' He observed everything and quietly kept a record.

Of Course Melanie Trump Plagiarized Part of Her Speech

Plagiarism is taking someone else's words and passing them off as your own without giving credit. There is no doubt that two paragraphs of Melanie Trump's GOP Convention speech were remarkably similar to a speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008. Speaking as an English teacher who is professionally attuned to issues of language choice, I will argue that Melanie Trump - or her speechwriter - plagiarized those two pargraphs.

My parents impressed on me the values: that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect. They taught me to show the values and morals in my daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. [Cheering] Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
And from Michelle Obama in 2008.
And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
The more interesting thing to me is the inconsistency of the Trump campaign's reporting about the writing of the speech. Melanie Trump told Matt Lauer that she only practiced the speech once because she "mostly wrote it" herself, and so she knows it so well. However, info from Trump's people indicated that several speechwriters had worked with her over several weeks on the speech. So which is it? And, if that speech was "several weeks'" worth of work, then someone needs to lose a job because that was really not an impressive bit of rhetoric.

Of course, the justifications and the dismissals are becoming silly at this point. Trump sycophant Chris Christie - who looks more like a dupe every day - told the Today Show that the speech wasn't plagiarized "when 93% of the speech is original." Like that makes sense. Uh, Chris, people aren't taking exception to the parts that weren't copied. But if you note that 93% is original, then you are conceding that 7% wasn't. And those were not just "common words" and ideas. When arranged in the same order and used in the same context, we call that plagiarism.

In reality, I think this is simply a matter of a woman tasked with a "HUGE" speech to give, and she "researched" it by watching previous speeches of prospective First Ladies. It wasn't malicious or intentional - I don't think she really understood the rules in that regard. She watched Michelle's specch and she used some parts that she thought would work well with her message. It won't matter to GOP voters at this point, but similar situations have derailed political careers. I think it's all just a bit sad. And, I am much more worried about the idea of a First Lady with this in her past.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Food Network Star - Ana Goes Home; Tregaye Somehow Stays

OK, let's be clear about last night's Food Network Star:  Tregaye failed one challenge and put in a mediocre performance on the other - yet somehow she was not eliminated. As the show narrowed to the final three (excepting the inevitable return of someone from Star Salvation), Cuban chef Ana Quincoces was sent home despite putting in her consistently talented cooking and her best camera performance yet. Clearly, the judges have concluded they never liked Ana or her point of view, and they are determined to give the show to the loud-and-over-the-top personality of Tregaye. In reality, the only remaining chef who should ever be considered a Food Network Star is Italian Damiano Carrera. The Food Network needs to remember who watches its programming. Damiano has wide appeal for a Food Network audience - the other two finalists do not.

In watching Tregaye's on-camera moments, I was struck again by how obnoxious she can be, and that was nowhere more evident than in that awkward spot she did with her husband. Sadly, in her post-scene comments she complained her Boo "wasn't saying anything," and that simply revealed how pathetically unaware she is of her excessive on-camera Tregaye-ness. She hogs a camera, never stops talking, loses track of time, isn't really cognizant of what she is saying, and turns off many Food Network viewers. She really is the perfect example of a Millennial social media personality who is popular on Vine and YouTube, but never really appropriate for prime-time. In fact, she has already found her niche market - online, live streaming that twenty-somethings can watch on their phone for a few minutes. And if Bobby and Giada are determined  to name her the winner in the naive hope of expanding the Food Network's trusted audience, then an online format is the only place for her. And, final thought: What was with the parfait for dessert? My ten-year-old makes those for herself. That's not a FNS-quality product. So, basically, Tregaye failed one task and only did one of two dishes for the second task, and she got away with that. Weak.

As far as the others are concerned: Jenard Wells is absolutely forgettable - that is when he's not making me uncomfortable. And the spot he did with his wife didn't help with that image. Certainly, Jernard can cook, though his comments about being "hurt" by the judges not liking "his gumbo" which he has been making for years was a bit pathetic. Jernard, that wasn't "your traditional gumbo," as you clearly noted. So you had to wing it in the time allotted, and it didn't work out that well. Get over it, bud. And the "steak sauce" element to the gumbo? How were the judges not completely turned off by his cooking mistakes? Jernard will simply not be a popular and widely known Food Network Star, and there is no real reason to reward him with that status if the Food Network can't use him to grow its programming. On the other hand, Damiano meets that need and goal. The Food Network execs could send him anywhere, anytime, and he would charm an audience and smoothly accomplish the task.

Which, of course, leaves Ana out of the show - unless she can knock out Monterey and Yaku on Star Salvation. While I can see why the judges sent Ana home with a solid performance that was "too little, too late," I don't think she got a fair shake in this competition. She was the only one who was cooking out of her comfort zone, and she did well. I disagree with the judges who didn't like her Cuban twist on St. Patrick's Day - isn't that the point of all these challenges? Bobby Flay regularly spices up traditional foods on his show Beat Bobby Flay. In fact, that's the disappointing part: judges always know which dish is Bobby's because he puts chilis and heat in everything. But that wins him competitions while Ana gets criticized. So, if you develop a signature POV which puts on spin on the expected, that should make you a FNS. But not in Ana's case. As far as her performances are concerned, Ana gets dinged by the judges for not being a clown. In the classic paradoxical thinking of this show, Bobby Flay warned Jernard against "being a caricature of himself," but then eliminated Ana for not being flashy and showy and, let's be honest, obnoxious enough. Some of Tregaye's and Jernard's "antics" that have the judges like Tai Mowry laughing and clapping are really quite crass - and they are not the general fare of the Food Network. Even Damiano has to act like a bit of a buffoon - which causes him to speak too fast - just so he will appear "lively" enough for the judges. That is the one sad part of Jeff Mauro's story. He became a FNS and got himself on a show like The Kitchen - but he's not himself like he is on his sandwich show. He has to clown it up, just to keep the execs happy. Back in the day, Emeril shouting "Bam!" was good fun on the Food Network. Now, everyone feels like they have to set their hair on fire like Guy Fieri.

Perhaps, someday the Food Network Star will return to classy, stylish, sophisticated shows about cooking and food culture. Until then, good cooks like Ana who could have a sweet show about Cuban cooking with her daughter are told they have to "Goof it up or go home." And true foodies who made the Food Network what it is are left disappointed by "stars" like Tregaye and Lenny.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Grammar Lessons - "Whom are we kidding?"

OK, so how much does anyone really need to know about grammar?

Whenever people learn I am an English teacher, their first reaction is a bit reserved and hesitant, and their second reaction is usually a grammar question. One of the most common: when is it "who" and when is it "whom." Sadly, most people use whom incorrectly quite often in an ill-fated attempt to sound educated. They will literally use "whom" all the time because they think it sounds smart. It doesn't, however, to the educated people.

The long answer to who/whom is that "who" is a subject and "whom" is an object. They are both pronouns, so the choice depends on the case of the sentence. Of course, since many people couldn't find the subject or the object of a sentence if it were blinking in neon lights, and because situations of questions and inverted word order confuse them even more, there is a simpler answer.

Use who in any sentence where you could substitute the word "he." Use whom in any sentence where you could substitute the word "him." I should say him/her, but it's easier to match up the "m" in whom/him.

Thus, it works like this:

Whom did she ask to the dance? Because she asked "him."

Who was at the party? Because "he" was at the party.

And for a bit more information and explanation, I must direct you toward and give a big shout out to the website -

Grammarly is an excellent resource for all your grammar questions..

Taylor Mali & The The Impotence of Proofreading

Sometimes that which must be explained by an English teacher can best be done by one who is also a slam poet.  Taylor Mali has clearly articulated - with the right amount of sarcasm and innuendo - the challenges faced by a generation of people overly dependent on a computer's spellcheck.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

EpiPen maker Mylan, Corp is Gouging Consumers, Risking Lives

The worst thing about the American health care industry is how shamefully and heartlessly profit is placed over people. Nowhere is that more clear than the recent news of a massive price hike by the Mylan Corporation of their signature life-saving product, EpiPen. The iconic yellow epinephrine delivery system is known across the country for its ability to immediately stop a severe allergy attack that could lead to a fatal case of anaphylactic shock. We all know people with life-threatening allergies to things like bee stings and peanut butter, and most of us know someone with an EpiPen. They are a hallmark of school nurses offices, and they have saved countless lives. As a person who suffered anaphylaxis as a child before the advent of an EpiPen, I know how precious this product is, having nearly died during the 15-minute drive to the hospital to receive a shot.

For many years, this product was affordable, even for people with weak insurance or high deductibles, and concerned parents could even purchase a couple EpiPens to have at home and school. Just a few years ago, a two-pack cost roughly $100. Now, it is going for more than $600. Now, clearly Mylan is selling more of these than ever before, and they are long past the time of technological research and innovation that goes into creating products, which can result in high prices. Apparently, now Mylan just wants to make as much money as possible, and it is "making a killing" with its popular and necessary product. As consumers make hard decisions about what they can afford - and recall that these EpiPens allegedgy "expire" after a year requiring replacement - there will no doubt be countless people whose lives are put at risk so the execs and shareholders of Mylan can make even more money.

“This is an example where pharmaceutical prices have gotten out of line with what that drug really costs to make,” he added. “In all the arguments that manufacturers make that it’s the cost of innovation and those sorts of things, you could really argue the EpiPen been around long enough that it more than paid for the cost of innovation.”

For even more information, check out this coverage from Slate.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Two Sides of Gen X figure Christian Slater

"Eat your cereal with a fork, and do your homework in the dark." - Hard Harry Hard-On

Nothing quite typified early 90s angst and the Generation X ethos like Christian Slater's character in the cult Gen X film Pump Up the Volume. Slater had come on the scene a few years earlier as J.D. (Jason Dean) in the 80s satire Heathers providing an alternative to the Hughe-esque portrayal of youth via Ferris Bueller and company. Slater's characters resonated just as much with young Gen Xers - who were yet to be identified as anything other than slackers - as Hughes' characters had, getting more deeply into the dark side that had been only hinted at with characters like John Bender in A Breakfast Club. And, Slater's real-life dark side emerged even more quickly than Robert Downey, Jr.'s, and pegged him as the troubled youth that adult society was just beginning to view a bit more suspiciously. The duality that came in characters like Mark/HHH in PUTV perfectly typified a time and an age group, and Slater has survived, back with an amazing bit of nostalgia and staying power, most recently coming up for air in the dark new hit TV show from USA - Mr. Robot. How appropriate that it comes from the USA Network, where we all watched so many edited "R" movies in the late 80s, hoping that an f-word or bit of nudity might slip by the censors. Looking back at Slater's career, pop culture writer and commentator Soraya Roberts has penned a great piece for Bright Wall, Dark Room on "The Two Christians."

“You see, no one wants to hear it, but the terrible secret is that being young is sometimes less fun than being dead.” It could be a Heathers line, but by then J.D. had already blown himself up. Pump up the Volume is a lot less violent than the film that made Christian Slater famous, but is still a darker addition to a genre defined largely by John Hughes’ saccharine take on adolescence. “I like all those John Hughes movies but I always thought they were a little too – well – pink,” director Allan Moyle told The Los Angeles Times in 1990. “They could’ve been tougher.” Where those movies were primarily about what it feels like to be a kid, Pump was more in line with Heathers, emoting primarily through words. Slater stars as Mark Hunter, an innocuous bespectacled high schooler who has just transferred to Arizona from New York. Unable to connect with his fellow students, he plugs in a radio and an anonymous new persona—Happy Harry Hard-on—to get through to them. “I wanted a marriage between two of my favorite outsiders – Lenny Bruce and Holden Caulfield,” Moyle said. Through his rants about society to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” Harry’s pirate radio show becomes an outlet for the students’ collective anger at Hubert Humphrey High. A sort of prototype for the zines and blogs of the ‘90s (and social media now), Harry’s show democratized the marginal voices around him. “Spill your guts out and say shit and fuck a million times if you want to, but you decide,” he says. “Fill the air, steal it. Keep the air alive – TALK HARD!!!!
Here's Triple-H with the ironically inspiring motivational speech about suicide.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Trump, Pride & Prejudice, & Lord of the Flies

Lady Catherine de Bourgh would be appalled. In the presidential campaign of 2016 all manner of decorum and social norms have been tossed aside by the boorish reality TV caricature Donald Trump. And in Jane Austen's seminal novel of Victorian manners, Lady Catherine - the protector of noblesse oblige and the ideals of respectable society - stands against the inappropriate behavior that threatens to destabilize society. Now, many readers of Pride and Prejudice will see Lady Catherine as the nemesis and foil to the heroic Elizabeth who challenges the norms of society and dares to love above her rank. Yet, Austen does not intend to portray Lady Catherine as a villian, even as she provides a necessary antagonist for the strong and independent Bennett daughter. While Austen is, in fact, criticizing her society and social norms, she is also upholding them as well. For, when the social norms of appropriate behavior are compromised, we are left with the crass and careless behavior of young Lydia and the rakish, mysoginistic actions of Wickham. One of the most important roles in Victorian society was the gentlemanly behavior of the landed gentry, and Donald Trump is anything but a gentleman. And that is what disturbs me the most.

In a recent tweet, I noted that if Donald Trump were to win the Presidency, I would not, as many have frivilously claimed, "leave the country," move to Canada or New Zealand, or renounce my citizenship. But if a crass, low-brow, white trash personality like Donald Trump were actual favored by enough Americans to attain the highest office in the land, I might just quit voting and casually retire from politics and news. An old friend and classmate criticized that comment and began to argue about "Killary" and social programs and debt. But my point wasn't about politics and policy - for I would happily support a John Kasich candidacy. I was reacting to Trump's absolutely uncouth, uncultured, unsophisticated, and inappropriate behavior. Regardless, of one's views about Hillary Clinton's politics, ego, and careless email issues, she and many other candidates understand and respect basic adult decency and mature social discourse.  Trump does not, and he does not care, and that should disqualify him for any public office in a civilized society. But, sadly many people have accepted rude, crass behavior as acceptable, and some will even go so far to claim the system needs such as shake-up. But this is not a classy heroine in a Jane Austen novel asserting her rights and belief that marriages should be about love. This is simply disgusting behavior by a man whose inherited wealth is his only asset.

Donald Trump's use of childish, school-yard insults like "Crooked Hillary" and "Lyin Ted Cruz" has no place in adult political discourse. And, that doesn't even come close to addressing the fact that Donald Trump is willingly and even proudly ignorant of the pertinent details of domestic and foreign policy. He is as aloof as the voters who support him. And that reminds me of another classic work, William Golding's Lord of the Flies, in which a group of "civilized" British schoolboys are left to fend for themselves on an island and ultimately decay into a state of anarchy and war. When asked about his choice of protagonists, Golding supposedly said, "When you get right down to it, the adolescent boy is the closest manifestation of pure evil you'll find anywhere on earth." That's a pretty fair assessment of the potential danger in a society that believes Trump is a leader.

Monday, July 11, 2016

With Trump as a Candidate, America is Already in Trouble

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is only the latest prominent voice to imply - or directly state - that if Donald Trump becomes president, the country is in serious trouble. In an interview with the New York Times, Ginsberg said she "could not imagine" what the country would be like with Trump as President and she doesn't "even want to contemplate that." It was a rare example of a federal justice weighing in with strong political views, and some are criticizing her for crossing such a line. And I don't really have a problem with that - she is still a voter and a citizen.

But I am more interested in the belief that a "President Trump" would represent some catastrophic moment for the country. Critics are implying that Trump would be able to effect changes or set precedents or take actions that would seriously harm the country. And, I've argued against that basic idea simply because of the nature of the government and protections from the separation of powers. That said, I do believe the Trump candidacy is serious problem. But it's not about what he would do - it's about what he's already done and what he represents.

Donald Trump is a crass, disgusting, unsophisticated, ingnorant, hateful, ego-maniacal, bigoted, and mysoginistic tool. His "achievements" are nothing more than his inherited wealth and the subsequent "career" he has created in real estate and reality TV. If Donald Trump has actually appealed to enough people that he is an actual Presidential candidate, then I believe America is already in pretty deep trouble. It's sad and truly baffling that millions of Americans are naive and disgruntled enough to be duped by a demagogue like Trump.

Trump represents and feeds upon some pretty base instincts, and that is a far worse problem.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Food Network Star - Disappointed Erin Campbell Eliminated on Disappointing Season

OK, to be clear: none of the competitors on Season 12 of the Food Network's most popular show, Food Network Star, is ever going to be a Food Network Star. Seriously. Is there a Bobby Flay or Guy Fieri or Tyler Florence or even Jeff Mauro anywhere in this bunch? Not even close. And that's the problem with this show which remains mildly entertaining but long ago lost the ability to live up to its name. Tonight the bubbly, or rather goofy, pastry chef Erin Campbell went home, and she had quite a bit to say about that. Sadly, none of it mattered.

Erin, your promise of chocolate decadence was anything but. When given a chance to shine with a dessert you decided to try and jazz up a chocolate chip cookie. What? Really? And as for your snappy response to Bobby Flay that you literally "sell thousands of these cookies"?  What's that supposed to mean? Twinkies and Chips Ahoy cookies sell millions a year - that doesn't mean they are good. It means that Americans are pretty pedestrian eaters with almost no real taste for good food.

As far as the rest of them, I can't wait for this to be over. The star should probably be Ana because she is clearly the best cook. Granted, she would be impossible to work with for many people, but at least she knows food, knows her point of view, and knows who she is.

Jernard cannot go home fast enough. That guy just kind of weirds me out. Tonight, Bobby told him he took his creepy "love chef" schtick too far - but he's taken it too far every episode. And while he can cook, I cringe every time he starts talking. Amusingly, Bobby Flay wisely warned Jernard against the danger of "becoming a caricature of yourself." That is great insight that I've heard before. But, for the Food Network Stars? Hello! Alton Brown has become nothing but a caricature, and that is such a shame. While Alton was once a mild curmudgeon, he is now a crass, snarky, uncultured, snotty character who appears to revel in insults and sadism. That's a sad fall for the originator of one of the best cooking shows ever, Good Eats.

Tregaye is for some bizarre reason the apparent favorite of judge Bobby Flay, but she is way too over-the-top every minute with her hands flailing about and her endless slangy quips that don't really say anything. Tregaye is the first to admit that often she doesn't even know what words are coming out of her mouth. What was it about the food tonight - it was "slithering" on the plate? Tregaye just sort of babbles on with her social media vibe, and while that can be amusing on Snapchat, it's not really the quality we expect of prime time television. The Food Network already has two loud, crass personalities in Rachael Ray and Anne Burrell. Tregaye may be amusing in a six-second Vine spot, and she could probably do some mildly entertaining YouTube spots or commercials. But Food Netwok Star? Give me a break.

Damiano can certainly cook, and he is no doubt engaging and easy to look at. That quality, of course, qualifies him for being only the latest contestant that Giada is so gauchely crushing on. It's really become quite embarrassing to watch a cultured and classy woman like Giada slip into giddy school girl flirtations with young Italian men on the show. Giada, you are a major personality who has sadly let your relationship issues become tabloid gossip. Try to rise above that when you are actually working in front of the camera.

So, we're left with a show that continues to leak credibility like a Titanic cooking cruise.

Oh, and what's with the apparent sponsorship of the episode by Popeye's Fried Chicken? Eewhhh. That's just ... yuck. And, that's the first time I recall the Food Network promoting a fast food franchise. Perhaps another sign of how far we've fallen. The Food Network used to elevate standards, and now it's just lowering itself to the eating habits of far too many Americans. Oh, the pursuit of the almighty dollar. I expect more from people like Bob Tuschman and Dierdre O'Hearn. Come on, guys. It doesn't just have to be about ad revenue. Does it?