Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Humility, Shock & Awe

The Krystal Killers
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
It's over.

This weekend was the finals for the Krystal Burger Championship. Ya'll will remember that I flew down to Memphis a month ago to compete in a qualifier. I had expected from my training to eat more than 30 burgers but limped in with only 23. It's been a hard month of self abuse, but I enjoy that there is nowhere else to place blame. I blame my friend Wing Kong. :)

In general I regret that I have to wait a whole year to get another shot at this contest. The good news is that I have the Wing Bowl coming up the friday before the Super Bowl, and thats something that will fill 3 or 4 months of planning and training. I'm good at that format, and think I can have another great performance now that I know what to expect. In the spring I can try to break the 20 hotdog barrier as well...there's always something on the horizon.

So if you didnt get to see the Krystal Burger Final on ESPN this weekend you might be able to catch a glimpse of it on YouTube soon. I am the best/worst fan of Competitve Eating in that I root for EVERYBODY, and my list of favorite eaters is almost as big as my list of known eaters. This particular contest was stocked with my favorites and me and the family yelled as each one was introduced. I also had some deep Pangs wishing I was there to compete....or even just being there for the after party.

Now everybody at the table outclassed me on this day. I have so much respect for Eaters like The Black Widow, Humble Bob & Eater X, Crazy Legs...I should just list the whole table. These guys put up tremendous numbers 40's 50's & 60's. To eat that many Hamburgers in 8 Minutes is just stunning, but in a believable kind of way. I know with a few years of hard work I could have a shot of being at this level.

People in the crowd want to know where they put it all. They want to know how a skinny person can eat 50 Hamburgers. I'm past that, I know it's possible.

So the big story is that the old record of 67 Burgers was broken...and broken by three people! Pat Bertoletti ate 76 Krystal Hamburgers. I had predicted 73 to be the winning total.

Joey Chestnut the only eater to ever really be a challenge to Kobiashi (the great Japanese Hotdog Eater) pushed himself to 91 Burgers in 8 minutes...NINETY-ONE!!!!!
That is unfathomable to me. I'm back to the basic questions of 'Where does he put it?' His performance has really stunned me this week into silence. I know why I do all this, but honestly, it's abit Humbling to see a performance like this. Whats even more incredible is that Joey ate 91 Hamburgers and came in second. Koby ate 97. WTF? Thats the Old World Record PLUS what I ate in a whole 8 minutes....
THATS humbling.....

Monday, October 30, 2006

so anyway.....

me and my three sons are out Toilet Papering the neighborhood. The two oldest run to the next block to hit a friends house. I want to keep the baby close to home so we start soaping up a neighbors car in their driveway.

M@x takes the bar of Ivory and writes:
on the back window as I drape long strands of toilet paer over it.

The neighbor walks out on her porch, but doesnt see us because we duck behind her car. I think she's watering plants or something.

"I want to write more" he whispers
"Go Ahead" I say
"How do you spell...'From the Mystery Man'?"

So in the dark, on a school night, on Mischief Night, I'm spelling out a sentence to my Seven year old so he can write it on the side windows of a neighbors car.



As of today I've been married for 13 years.

By strange coincedence so has my wife.

What is the secret to being married this long?
I dont hold any great answer but these are some of the things I've been working on. I expect to have a much better list for my 50th.

You need to find someone who shares the same level of stuborn ignorance as you. I'm not joking about that. If the two of you are focused in the same direction you will get through most of lifes problems together, but thats not guarenteed.

Love is important but just love wont carry things accross this chasam of time. You both have to be open to the idea of working at it. The Wedding Day was not a finish line.

Women should remember that men dont read minds (or emotions either).
Men should remember that it's better to be kind than right.

Booze helps.

Avoid fucking other people.

Encourage your partner to get out with their friends once in awhile or pick a hobby.....even if it's a hobby you'll never really understand.
While it may be difficult to maintain a completely independent identity in a marriage, it is wise to at least have some facets that are unique to one individual.

I love you honey, thanks for putting up with me for so long!

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Deficeit in the Economy of Love

The Professional Marketers stand on the street corners. In the summers they use college girls on vacation, but in the cold, it's just a guy.

Todays guy has a beautiful embroidered windbreaker that says something like "International Childrens Fund" and he's a holding a notebook full of mournful photos that have artfully been put together. Tomorrow he may be wearing a purple jacket that says "World Wildlife Fund". It has a Zebra and a Koala on it.

These people are very effective, and I often see them talking to people out of their checkbooks. The college girls are extrememly good getting the middle age working suits to stop to hear their sad story. It's funny to watch, but I typically just say 'no-thankyou' and keep going.

My problem with these people is that a very very small percentage of the money they collect actually goes to the charity. They dont work for the Charity directly, so they dont have to give it all. These companies have administrative costs to pay first, and then can take whatever profit they choose on top of that. We used to get calls at the house from people like this and I'd keep asking them what percentage actually goes to the charity over and over until they hung up.

Todays guys steps right into the stream of walking commuters and singles me out with direct eye contact. He's four steps from me and in my way.

With a keen smile he starts his rehearsed speech with
"Excuse me Sir, Would you like too..."
Without a thought or slowed step, I spit my words through gritted teeth and a jutted jaw...
"I HATE you..."
It comes out beautifully and I am leaning forward on these last two steps between us. I have not slowed at all.

I'm sure he hears alot of things, but I dont think he expected this. I watch his whitened body implode upon itself and shrink away almost into nothing.

Suddenly he is out of my way and gone.

I'm still laughing.

words without credibility

compasionate conservatism
clear skies
no child left behind
sectarian violence
culture of life
war on terror
mission accomplished

Thursday, October 26, 2006

painfully distracted.....

and sick of toddler stuck in vending machine.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

become a durable nothing (haiku)

i pray to myself
for humility and grace;
for perseverence

Accounting (haiku)

sunrise to sunset
one less chance to live a day
do anything good?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Will be posting on an As Needed basis

because of work issues i might be posting differently over the next 8 days. maybe more, probably less.

Monday, October 23, 2006

January 20th, 2009

There's no place like home
There's no place like home
There's no place like home
There's no place like home
There's no place like home

His tattoo will read:

If found, please return to Olympia.
Postage will be paid.

to the man who has run out of options:

you could always go biking

mornin' (haiku)

monday underway
sleep has got a hold of me
bugger off, sandman

Friday, October 20, 2006

one of those days

standing on a rainy platform this morning for a train that would be very late...i just kinda had the feeling that things wouldnt go my way today.

one hour into it i can see i was right.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The man who is bothering me

I'll bet he really likes parades
all of those people doing the same thing
the same way
in the same outfit
shiny shoes and polished brass intruments

I'm certain his big white forehead gets all sweaty
and he counts everything
hoping for even numbers
hoping for the most balance possible

I like when the wind kicks up
and Bullwinkle gets loose
now thats fun

same (haiku)

here we go again
yesterday redux, part two
some change would be nice

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Note to self

Dont wear the SpongeBob Squarepants Boxers on the days you go to the gym at lunch. Might make for some awkward moments in the locker room....

"Hey Check Out My Nose!!!!"

My little brother is in Africa.

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
He's a Highway Engineer and his wife is a Medical Student. They live very very busy lives in New Jersey. It's ok that he's on the other side of the world, because I never see him anyway and he might as well do something interesting if he's not gonna be hanging out with me and his nephews.

Through a crazy set of opportunities, he's spending three weeks vacation helping build mudhuts and she's working in a Medical Clinic. I think they are doing Missionary work also, and this may be a trial balloon to become Missionaries in the future.

Through the miracle of GoogleEarth you can see where he is right now:

I heard thirdhand that somebody tried to give him a chicken. So if you can zoom in and see a white guy with a chicken, thats probably him.

What a wonderful interuption for their lives though...I'll hear all about it on Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 16, 2006

"with hope in our hearts, and bricks in our hands"

I'm disappointed in Kim Jong Ill

He set off a bomb. A nuclear bomb.

The problem was it was such a small nuclear bomb, that at first we thought he faked it...that he just stacked up a shitload of high explosives and set them off underground somewhere hoping to fool everybody. What a jokester.

This would have put the UN in a funny situation, where it implement sanctions over North Korea, for just pretending to set off a nuclear bomb.

Instead he set off a real one.
That sucks....send in Team America.....

Can we just hit the FF button?

Today hit me like a Monday
A big dry thud

Friday, October 13, 2006

When somebody loves you....

Someone that loves me sent me a video attached to an email. The email said this.

This 2 minute video is about the day the rapture will happen, it is powerful!

This is what I am sending back to this person.
Here is a 2 minute video of Joey Chestnut eating hamburgers, it too is powerful!

Lets pretend I dont care

Wing Kong
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.

If I were in a movie, I'd be on a plane to Jackson Mississippi right now. I'd be wearing cool sunglasses and looking out the porthole window, refusing mylar bags of crappy pretzels.

I'd have battle tempered resolve.
I'd have something witty to say to my competitors.
I'd have fresh breath.

Sunday is the last qualifier for the Kyrstal Burger World Championships, and there is a very interesting battle going to be fought between 3 or 4 eaters who are tied in the Wildcard spot with 36 burgers. There are also several other good eaters who are very close to 36 who want another shot at it. They are flying in from Seattle, New York, and Connecticut for this chance at the finals.

I want another shot too.
I'd like to redeem myself.

I have a really good ending for this movie, and I'll force myself to watch it a few hundred times before finally letting the dream die on Sunday with a sigh. None of these guys would like my version of the movie anyway. (it involves a trophy, a pony, some dancing girls, and an aweful lot of Krystal Hamburgers

Back to work, boy, back to work....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

wet powder (eight words)

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
click click click

click click

click click boom

October 12th or whenever (haiku)

tired of tired
pedestrian bull-ka-ka
life is a rerun

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Lunesta Seven Day Challenge

What the fuck are these people thinking? They actually have a commercial inviting people to take their perscription pills for seven days in a row.

Hello? A free packet of seven sleep pills that they hope you get addicted to and buy every month, should not be confused in any way with a contest or challenge.

It is not:
A pile of twenty HotDogs
5K worth of road
A Hot Chick in the corner
A twelve pack
2 books in 52 weeks

i hate hate hate drug comercials. Remember that stupid Celebrex Commercial with the old lady doing Tai Chi and the happy chorus singing "Celebrate! Celebrate!" and they forgot to mention that their pill had been killing people for years? I wish I could hop into that commercial today and kick that old lady's ass in her karate outfit. I'd punch her right in the nose and then rub dirt and grass in her hair while singing that 'Celebrate' song.

How unresponsible ARE these people? Now we have a sleeping pill challenge? Do I get a t-shirt? A Branded Cup to wash it down with? Will I be ranked amongst other sleeping pill competitors? Should somebody contact George Shea about creating the International Federation of Competitive Sleeping?

It's all been up the ass since they lifted the ban on Drug Commercials. Now everybody diagnoses themselves and tells the Doctor what the hell they want to take. "Ask your Doctor if an unexpected Heart Attack is for you" They'll NEVER take the commercials back now, too much money gets paid to the media and politicians.

I'll be stuck watching dick pill commercials till i actually need them......

we'll at least i can take the train

Anyone else suspicious how gas prices are suddenly falling right before the election? I know quite abit goes into determining the price of gasoline, but I really dont trust these companies or the Incumbents who have their hands covered in motor oil.

I dread how high the prices will climb in December, once the Political pressure is off. I though the whole reason we've been killing Iraqis was to get cheap oil...or was it to get revenge for what they did to us on 9-11? i forget...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

and June Bug just wanted to get out....

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Yesterday I was really bothered by a thought. I present it to you so that you too might be bothered by it.

For millions of years we scavenged for food. We hunted, we grazed the forrests. Eventually we figured out how to plant and cultivate our own food. It gave us some control over what we ate, and with some luck kept our bellys full. This was truly hard won knowledge, that had to be passed on from person to person or risk failure of the species. The end of humandom. Everyone was involved, in fact it was the ONLY thing you had to do.

Today with all of the people I know and knew. All of the friends and aquantainces, the people I worked with, partied with....people I met on the Internet, I can only think of ONE person who has the knowledge, experience and land to grow his own food in a real way.(Two months ass deep in tomato and basil wont cut it) ONE PERSON out of what must be over 1,000.

Isnt that kind of dangerous?

Monday, October 09, 2006

blue and distracted

this city is empty and so is my head.

Skipper Black (haiku)

hey little buddy
am i really real for real?
one man says i am

Friday, October 06, 2006

How to Make a Lemon Cough

Buy a package of Lemon Crystal Light Drink Mix. Open one of the little plastic tubs and observe the very fine yellow powder. It's made that fine so that it will dissolve instantly in water.

Fill a 2 Quart Pitcher with Fresh Cold Water

Agressively dump the Crystal Light Powder into the pitcher. While most of the mix enters the water, you'll notice that the finest grains of powder actually bounce off of the meniscuss of water and create a yellow fog just above the surface for several seconds.

Put your face just over the pitcher and take a deep breath through your mouth. That yellow mist will enter your lungs and you'll start coughing Lemony Goodness!.

Dump pitcher down the drain and start over!

how long will this meeting last? (haiku)

indifferent stare
automatic head nodding
I dont really care

simple man (haiku)

tell me you love me
it's ok if you're lying
i choose to believe

time to be a big boy again (haiku)

long conference calls
piles and piles of work
rather be sleeping

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

40,000 Feet Over Virginia

Wing Kong
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
At Charlotte we changed planes for the final leg back into Philly. This one was a 757 which had much larger seats and almost leg room. I have the window and Wing Kong takes the aisle with a seat between us for our ipods and ticket stubs.

The pilot announces that beverage service will begin shortly, I continue to look out the plane window counting the sylables in various words.

between here and there
we have built alot of stuff
where are all the trees?

For the fouth time in three days I'm handed a small mylar bag of crappy pretzels. I motion to Kong if he wants my bag and he places it next to his on his tray. I see that Kong has taken my ipod and hid it under some of his paper debris.

He gives me a sheepish grin and hands it back.

"Excuse me Mame?" I say to the Stewardess
She's pouring someone a soda.
"Do you have any more pretzels? This Man took mine" I point a finger.
Kong freezes with his hand in the pretzel bag and just raises a single eyebrow John Belushi style.

The stewardess give him a dirty look and hands me another bag.

I motion to him if he wants it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Seaver Miller

Seaver Miller
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
It's just after the contest and all of the eaters are behind the stage at the Tennessee Mid-South Fair reconstructing what happened. My friend Seaver put up the performance of his life, and ate 41 Hamburgers to get 3rd place. He weighs about 160lbs.

Seaver is pacing back and forth with discomfort.
"I'll be back in a minute" he says and runs off.

I figure he pushed alittle too hard and now he's likely to puke. It doesnt happen much at these contests, but understandlibly sometimes it happens.

We look over he's not sick at all....he's in line for Ice Cream.

Krystal Burgers Memphis Qualifier 2006

My Second Tray
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
I was riding the train into work this morning and I suddenly laughed out loud. It was a response to a thought I had. I had a miserable performance in Memphis, and it's a bitter bitter pill that I am chewing and refusing to swallow until I can understand it. I laughed on the train, because I realized I was trying to find meaning in it. Meaning in an eating contest loss. I still get it...it's funny, but for me it's been a weekend of soul searching and reflection.

People try to find meaning in so many things. We see the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwhich. We wonder why we have Cancer, or Herpes or Bad Breath. Has God chosen this for us? Have we chosen it? Was it just bad timing? What is the meaning of this Car Accident, this crashed harddrive, this broken Happy Meal Toy. I dont mean to make light of any of those things, just point out that what may seem trival to you, may be a profound event for another.

I've made it clear how deeply I wanted a great performance. I trained, I charted my results and improvements on spreadsheets. I worked my technique. In my head, my first Goal was to Eat 30 Hamburgers, my next goal was to eat 36 hamburgers and Qualify for the Finals on ESPN....my deep fantasy was that I was going to eat 40 Hamburgers and win the contest. None of those things happened.

In practice I've been able to eat 20 Hamburgers in 2:25. Thats a fine pace, and afterwards I didnt feel any discomfort, nothing from my body to say I'm at my limit. At the contest I only ate 23 Total in 8 minutes. I hit 15 at the two minute mark and immediatley fell into the 'Meat-Sweats' Thats the reaction your body gives you when it's trying to convince you to stop...I didnt anticipate the sweats until roughly the 3-4 minute mark. I chewed and chewed my food and had to force each swallow.

Whats so puzzling is that I have nothing to blame it on, I dont know WHY I couldnt eat more. This is what makes it baffling for me.

I was well rested
My stomach was completely empty and I was starving
I attacked the food passionately
I went to Graceland Earlier in the Day and Prayed to Elvis at his grave. (honestly who better to serve as the God of Eating?)
I was focused, and didnt even look up from my tray until after the 4 minute mark.

On the train I recognized that food, and the act of eating have a spiritual element. Our religeons incorporate this into their rituals...we eat the host, we fast, we have Seder, we leave a plate for Elijah, cookies for Santa Claus, Carrots for the Easter Bunny, and a Turkey on ThanksGiving.

Many of the People who continue to Eat Competitively find that they get more out of it than a win. So many of us are shy people in an everyday sense, who are able to lower our walls abit and really enjoy a meal together. It is easy for me to walk up to an unknown eater and initiate a conversation. I know that he shares my illness...my obsessiveness, my need for comfort and comraderie. All of us are driven to compete against ourselves, to reach that magic number in our heads.

Picture this Scene:
It's moments after the contest and the trophy has just been awarded to Eater X for Eating 54 Hamburgers in 8 minutes. (Only six people in the World have eaten 50 or more in 8 minutes and TWO of them did it at this contest. The Locust ate 51!!!) X's face is painted in a mask and I'm standing there in a Kilt and fake tattoos. I tell him that I'm confused and sad about the result. He's kind enough to be genuinly consoling, and offers a story about his first Krystal contest. All of this while he must be in serious discomfort, and several reporters are trying to get his attention for interviews. I dont know X except though some comment exchanges on some blogs.

This kind of thing would never happen in my real world, and I certainly wouldnt let it happen, but in this community it's the norm. I think thats a wonderful thing to be apart of, and it's the only reason I refuse to give up despite my embarrassing showing.

I dont have the time or money to travel to another Krystal Qualifier (they're all in the South) but I'll be watching on October 28th rooting for the all the Eaters. The only other plans I have for Eating are Qualifying for WingBowl 15 and possibly eating in the Tropicana Meatball Contest in Atlantic City in December.

Thanks to my wife, kids and everybody else for screaming into the computer screen during the contest. I could hear you in my head. Thanks Humble Bob for the guidance these last couple of weeks. Also, nice job Wing Kong on eating 27. I know you wanted 30. Seaver and Arturo, you guys made the biggest statements at the table!

This is not the Krystal Burger Write-Up

Eater X Wins Memphis!
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
This is a quick note, I know some of you are waiting to hear how things went. I didnt get home til yesterday and I need to catch up on work before I can finish getting it all down.

A couple of things:

Krystal runs the best contest I've been to in my short career. They go to considerable effort to treat the Eaters well, and I'm so appreciative of their hospitality.

This was the best tasting food of any competition so far.

People in Memphis wear pants. Even when it's 90 degrees out on a Sunday. Pants, pants, pants.

Also, thankyou all for your interest and kind words of support. I feel very lucky to have even strangers(you know what I mean) hoping the best for me, perhaps there is some hope for this world.

Much more coming!