Friday, July 27, 2007

For Now and Eventually for Eternity

lake pleasant
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
I'm going on Vacation.

YAY for me.

This will be my 37th Consecutive Summer visiting this lake in Upstate NY. My wife has gone for 15 years. My Dad has gone for about 40 years. My Mom wins the prize for going for 60+ Years!

Eventually my sons will get to dump my ashes in the middle of this Lake, and then I wont have to endure the 6 hour car ride each way. I'm hoping that they will launch me out of a Potato Cannon if it can be arrainged. They are creative and will think of something cool by then. So it goes.

Camp always marks the begining of the Year for me. Happy New Year Everyone! Thanks for the kind words and thoughts....

and beyond

Seems some of these Astronauts get loaded before a launch.

They are highly trained in what happens during a launch, and with that much power shooting through their assholes....I think it's probably humane to allow them to get loaded first.

It's not like they have to even do anything but breathe and pretend they didnt shit themselves for the first few hours anyway. Come on's to the Crew!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Table 3 - Hilton Hotel - Islen, New Jersey 2007 (American Sonnet)

you know in New Jersey
the bride and the groom
are still introduced
to Bon Jovi's 'Livin on a Prayer'

they are so young
and so in love
you cant help but
stand on your chair and yell

if we could dance to
'Thunder Road'
we would

take my hand
we'll make it
I swear

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Steve Caratzas Interviews Steakbellie

Steve Caratzas, perpetual perfector of the eight word poem, has wasted his time sending me 5 Interview Questions. Here are my answers

1. What did you want to be when you grew up?
The very first thing I ever wanted to be was a Garbage Man. A little girl who lived next to my Great Uncle was going to work with me and we'd get to hold onto the back of that truck as it drove up and down the streets of the neighborhood. I still think it would be an awesome job. I was probably 4 or 5.

Later on I wanted to become a Astronaut or Astronomer...

2. Andy Warhol: genius or charlatan?
I dont know if I can answer that directly. He contributed alot to Pop-Art and got some people to talk about Commercial Design being represented as actual art. I take it as an extention to DuChamp's "Ready-mades". Anytime you can put art or a concept into the hands of the everyday person it's progress.

I know alot less about his social life and outside of imagery projects. I think he screwed with alot of people though, and just wanted to see how far he could go and still be taken seriously. I think thats pretty funny. I'm more likely to put him in the genius category just for screwing with everybody.

3. Action movie preference (you must choose one): Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal or Chuck Norris.
It's offensive that you have to ask that question. Chuck Norris, duh.

4. Please create your snuff film star moniker by
taking the first name of the first person you hated
and add it to the last name of the last person you
borrowed money from.

Steven Steakbellie'sMom

5. Worse instrument to be used in a rock setting:
flute or xylophone?

I think potentially it's the flute. You really cant get much volume out of it and it's all whispy and awkward looking. I played trumpet, I like something you can get all brash and creshendo on.

Put Neil Pert on an Xylophone and I think you can rock the house.

Another Brilliant Card from INDEXED

Monday, July 23, 2007

No cancer found in Bush's colon

That was an actual AP headline today. I imagine it was good news for some, it was humor for me.

anticipation (eight words)

worst day of your life?
theres still time.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Found Her Mate!

Plan B
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Some people notice cars.
Some watch birds.
I pay attention to bikes.

When a car flys by on the Highway, I'll speed up to see what bikes are on the roof rack. I check out the frames on bike trails. Bike Races.

I dont know if it's still the practice, but TREK would release it's bicycles in a color that was specific to the year and the configuration. I've seen 20 Trek 1000's of the same vintage and a dozen 1200's. I've seen 2 1420's, but in 15 years I've never seen another 1991 Trek 1400, in fact it's a pretty rare bike in any year. (the newer 1400's are Carbon and I dont consider them in the same lineage as these Aluminum frames.)

So yesterday, I am CRANKING my ass out of Philadelphia and into the headwinds of a coming storm. I see a bike that looks a hell of alot like mine 8 or 9 cars up. I catch the guy by the next light, and wow! It's the same freaking bike!

How does something so stupid make my whole week??????


As my wife will testify from many years of agrivated observance, I dont talk to or meet new people very well, in fact it scares the shit out of me. The fact that I was so moved as to say anything to this guy was it's own miracle that will soon be recognized with a Federal Holiday.

Because I start out in Center City, the first twenty minutes of my ride home are the most hectic as there is no time to warm up. I have to sprint as soon as the first light turns green. At 5:30 the road is radiating all of the heat it collected that day with the mixing car/bus exhausts it just feels like there is no oxygen to be had. Being a fatass doesnt help either.

Like a Neanderthal marveling at the caves of Lascoux, I point a wet arm at his bike frame.

"SWEET" I say.
He's about my age but instead of biking clothes he is in just shorts and a t-shirt. He looks at my frame and is visibly shocked (and out of breathe as well).

The light turned green and I went as fast as possible to stay ahead of the SEPTA bus that was trying to kill me. He must have stopped or turned.

I often think about that day (ok it was yesterday) and wish I had said something more, but I'm not really what more communication would have been possible other than "UGHHH"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Day 4

I took yesterday off from biking because it was storming when I woke up. I was back at it today and very happy to see I had more gas in the can then in previous days. Nice to know I havent completely lost my ability to improve my fitness level. Cant wait to ride home...just gotta endure all the bullshit between rides...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

bored (haiku)

caffeine wont help this
with vanilla indifference
my eyes are closing

we all expect some basic things (eight words)

if i shit my pants,
will you mind?

rattle, clunk (eight words)

Your robot revolution
is sadly lacking
any flair

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
So there's news. Twice a year the IFOCE updates their rankings for Competitive Eaters. The big news is that everyone is talking about is that I've just moved from 39th up to 22nd. (OK, nobody is really talking about it but my kids because the BIG news is that Joey Chestnut is finally ranked above Takeru Kobayashi (the Japanese Hotdog Guy))

There was alot of debate if Joey should move ahead of him after only defeating him in a single contest, but I think this is fair as Joey competes several times a month (and almost always wins let alone set new world records) and Koby has only shown up in the US once since the last rankings. They are expected to meet again in the fall in the Krystal Burger Finals.

For me though, it's kind of cool to be ranked this high. The higher the ranking the more thought and math went into the decision. While I think 1 or 2 people behind me should ahead of me, I also think 1 or 2 ahead of me should be behind me. It's a pretty fair ranking.

There still a HUGE disparity between the top 8 (or so) Eaters and all the rest. In some cases they are exponentially better. I went to a wing contest a few months ago and Joey Chestnut ate more than me by a factor of 3! Next time I eat against him I will try to only get beat by double. (isnt that crazy????)

Wing Kong is 18th!!!!!!


Plan B
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
I'm back to riding my bike to work again. By Friday evening I will have pedaled 100 miles this week. It's only day 2 and I'm freaking beat....happy but tired...that heat just sucks the power out of the legs.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Time for a 'No President Left Behind"

How the hell is hitting zero of sixteen benchmarks a 'mixed' report card? Not one? You couldnt get ONE thing done?


So the party was good?

Thirty Gallons
of Gin and Tonic
cant be wrong

Friday, July 13, 2007

Equal Quantities (eight words)

Water currently on Mars.
Beer currently in Fridge.

For those of you that believe everything happens for a reason (American Sonnet)

Always the signs:
I have stood in the corn at the 'Field of Dreams' in Iowa
and wrote 'Baseball is from Satan' in the Guestbook

Days later I biked to Chicago and sat with the Players Families
At Wrigley Field I saw the Cubs beat the Phillies

People always give me Baseball Tickets
And I always go, despite everything

God is sending me to the Phillies game tonight, Friday the 13th 2007
I am to bear witness to them as they earn their 10,000th loss
I dont even know who they are playing

This horrible game has been around long enough to achieve that?

I am Jonah about to be spit onto the beaches of Nineva
Finally, tonight I let them all know
What I really think of them

Like I Said....

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Look! Something Shiny!

President bush is in some serious trouble with his ratings and his inability to conduct any kind of business in a legal way. Look for that stoopid colored Terror Warning Scale to come back bigtime like they used it when they needed people scared before the election.

Somehow seems appropriate

"I've got the world up my ass
and i'm gonna move fast
be the first
won't be the last
i've got the world up my ass"

-Circle Jerks
"World up my Ass"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
this is me 60 minutes before the Nathans Qualifier

Monday, July 09, 2007

End of a hot day

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
I fall into the chair and you crawl into my lap and feel bad for me that I dont get the summer off. The sorrow is so genuine that it's sweet. I love that you can have compassion.

Your sun-bleached hair smells like the summers of my own youth.

Chlorine and Sunscreen.

It's so familiar, and rushes images of running barefoot in the grass and getting in trouble for cannonballing the shallow end. My feet got hard and smooth from standing on Blacktop.

Mom would pack sandwiches, and I'd get a bomb pop from the snack bar. I'm proud that you can have the same, and makes my long days worthwhile.

Friday, July 06, 2007

cant get away (eight words)

really annoying
the shit
out of
myself today

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Originally uploaded by Liz is Working.
I have to tell you how humbled I am with Joey Chestnuts performance yesterday. Sixty-six Hotdogs and buns in twelve minutes is just unfathomable. We can all laugh because it's really just a guy eating Hotdogs, but I marvel at how the Human Mind and Body can be trained to perform such a feat.

I dont think I could COOK sixty-six Hotdogs without getting sick.

The show was pretty fun and Wing Kong and I had many laughs with my wife and sons during the pregame show. Some of my favorites:

A newly Clean-Cut 'Eater X' standing in from of the camera whistling. I mean who whistles anymore? Wing Kong on his new shave and haircut? "Looks like somebody has an interview on Thursday"

Tim Brown showing up to eat at the table wearing a suit!

During introductions, Crazy Legs Conti started pulling a ribbon from his mouth like a magic trick, and pulled a good 15ft out before he reached his spot at the table.

During introductions, Eater X held up a sign saying 'On the 7th Day God created Hartford' a referemce to his Qualifing City and probably his dedication to the now defunct Whalers Hockey Team. Pretty Tame stuff....until at the last second he flipped the sign over and it read 'hermonie dies...'. That of course is reference to the Harry Potter Finale and all the speculation that surrounds what will happen at the end. I was so caught off-guard that I laughed for several minutes thinking of 100,000 13-yearold girls screaming. Brilliant!

Humble Bob flashed his belly during the intros, teasing how some of the skinny Eaters like to show off their stomachs.

During the Ten-Second countdown to the begining ESPN, thosands of chanted 'Six, Five, Four...'at which point Pat Philnbin, the comic from Opie & Anthony (who is famous for Mugging at the crowd Three Stooges style DURING competitions) gets up and walks AWAY from the table as if he's oblivious...and not getting back to his plate moments after the contest started.

I had to get out of my chair for the contest, I was so nervous/excited.

In the first 60 seconds of a contest I can eat 5 HotDogs and Buns. I'm really proud of that. I go way down hill from there, but I had always assumed that Joey and Koby ate about 7 in the first minute. They each were above 10 in the first minute and Joey was at 20 at the 2 minute mark. WOW. Thats hard to imagine....

This was the first contest in which EVERYONE broke 20.

I think in the end it was pretty clear that Koby wasnt injured in any way as he added 10 HDB's to his total. He had a slight reversal at the end, and probably should have been DQ'd, but it's good for CE if he wasnt. It's bad for Pat Bertoletti though who only gets $2,500 for third as opposed to $5,000 for second.

Koby waited 6 years for someone to be able to eat as much as him, and now that he's been dethroned, I anticipate him to come roaring back for a rematch next year. That was really fun to watch, but the reality is that I would rather have been there competing. I dont mind losing, it would be an honor to lose to those guys!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

2007 Nathans Hotdog Championship

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Tomorrow is the biggets event in Competitive Eating. While not the best run (I'd vote for Krystal Burger) or the most money, it remains the most visible contest in CE. This is the contest to be in. Eaters pay their own way to go to up to 3 different Qualifiers to reach the finals. The Finals are held accross the country (and world) and it can be expensive to find one that isnt loaded with top competitors.

If you watch it on ESPN, the coverage should start at 12 noon and show lots of background and intros. Most of the contest will cover Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi's rivalry. I also expect a subplot pitting America's top 2 female Eaters Sonya Thomas and Juliet Lee at odds.

There are many wonderful people at this table besides these four, and despite not getting any camera time or even having a shot in hell of winning, they will push themselves as hard as they ever have. Prize Money is finally being offered but only for the top 5 finishers. I think they should offer prize money down to the last Eater for the finals, so that there is incentive to come in 11th instead of 12th...otherwise why bother? An eater named Jed Donahue only ate 1 HotDog last year in the finals. I was angry at first but then respected what he did...why hurt yourself when there is zero at stake? I think that helped start the rallying cry amongst the Eaters for actual prize money.

Takeru Kobayashi lives in Japan and doesnt speak English. He comes to the US 2 or 3 times a year to compete in some of our contests. He is revered by the other eaters for his accomplishments and for his insistance that CE be treated like a real sport. Kobayashi himself treats it like a Professional sport, and now most of the Eaters emulate his fitness and training.

Three things happened this year that have drummed up a wave of excitement about this contest.

Kobayashi's Mother passed away in March. There was speculation on a Japanese Blog somewhere that Koby was depressed and not even training anymore. Someone translated it roughly into English and the American Eaters gabbed like School Girls.

Joey Chestnut ate 59.5 HotdogsEveryone but the Champion must requalify each year to make the finals. The old record was 53.75 set by Kobayashi himself at the finals. Joey did this at his qualifier this year. Once again HUGE speculation amongst the eaters, Kobayashi has NEVER been beaten in America, Joey has risen to Koby's level, can Koby rise even further or has his capacity peaked?

You may have heard about this a few months ago when it happened, it was all over the news and a big deal in my neighborhood, as Joey came out partying with us after the WingBowl. Everybody loves him now.

A story broke that Koby has Lockjaw Another rumor based on something written in Japanese on a blog. While it may be based on a seed of truth, it's been pushed very heavily to generate excitement over wheather he will rise to meet Joey's challenge. Idont know any of the true facts here, but I expect
koby to compete and prepared to win.

Here's what Major Leauge Eating (the IFOCE) has to say about the contest.

"Since 2004, ESPN has covered the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at 12:00 noon on July 4th. This year's contest may well be the most highly anticipated matchup in the event's storied 92-year history. Takeru Kobayashi, the Japanese eating sensation who has won the contest for the past six years, has finally met his match. Joey Chestnut, a baby-faced boy-next-door from San Jose, California, has accomplished the impossible - not just breaking Kobayashi's record of 53.75 hot dogs and buns (HDBs), but shattering it, downing 59.5. American competitive eating fans sense that the coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt will finally return to American shores. This year, Nathan's Famous is putting up $20,000 in prize money to inspire and drive the competitors to their full eating abilities."

Here's the line-up and where they qualified (HDB stands for 'HotDog and Buns'):

Takeru Kobayashi, 53.75 HDB's, 2006 Champion
Always the favorite. He will be sitting in the center of the table. I've never competed agianst him or even met him.

Joey Chestnut, 59.5 HDB's, Tempe, AZ
A great guy out of San Jose. Only 23 years old, and is the only person ever to rise to Koby's level. He's eaten 2x of what I've eaten and more in some competitions. He looks like he's in serious pain when he eats, and you can damn sure bet he is willing to push himself when you and I would stop. When I first heard that he ate 59.5, I was so stunned that I stopped training for two weeks. Joey will sit next to Koby. My favorite Joey moment was when he drank a gallon of milk in 43 seconds to get into the WingBowl.

Pat Bertoletti, 46 HDB's, Las Vegas, NV
A culinary student from Chicago. You'll recognize him by his Mohawk haircut and headphones. Another favorite in my town for partying with my friends after WingBowl, hopefully he'll get some respect from ESPN, I mean 46 Hotdogs????? I cant help but smile when I see Pat. Afew weeks ago he ate 15.25 lbs of Strawberry Shortcake in 10 minutes.

Tim Janus, 41.5 HDB's, E. Hartford, CT
Tim paints a facemask on his face for events that is typically color coded to the event itself. A good guess will be Red White and Blue for the forth of July. The facemask is remeniscent of 'The Ultimate Warrioir' in Wrestling. He's been credited with many innovations in CE and I that comes from a Scientists curiosty about the world. Hypothesis, Test.
MTV has featured him in a documentary and surprisingly he's somewhat reserved and quiet in mixed company. He's always said nice stuff to me.
Women LOVE him.

Chip Simpson, 39.25 HDB's, Sunrise, FL
Chip just earned a doctorate in Physical Therapy this year! (Mom, How bad could this be if a Doctor is doing it?) Chip is built like an athlete, and has a stone face when competing. He wants to win. Everytime. I expect Chip to eat over 45 dogs at the table.

Sonya Thomas, 36 HDB's, Philadelphia, PA
Probably the second most important person to Competitive Eating. Sonya only weighs 100lbs but can eat more than 5 men. People who watch her eat NEVER forget what they saw. She is sweet and friendly when away from the table. They call her 'The Black Widow' My favorite stunt of hers was when she ate 65 hardbpoiled eggs in 6 minutes!

Rich LeFevre, 34 HDB's, San Francisco, CA
Rich is a retired Accountant who lives in LasVegas with the lovely Carlene. He's probably the only guy here that doesnt even train. He's in his Sixties and is always a fan favorite. Probably only weighs 130lbs. They call him 'The Locust'

Bob Shoudt, 32 HDB's, West Chester, PA
Bob is the best Eater out of Philadelphia and PA for that matter. He's always been kind and encouraging to me and Wing Kong. I'm always impressed at how he can do this at such a high level and still be a family guy. (he's the first one listed here that has children that I am aware of) Just my fooling around with this sport has proven stressful on the family, so it speaks alot about the support he gets from his wife and children to do this for 3+ years. They call him 'Humble Bob'

Hall Hunt, 28.75 HDB's, Charlotte, NC
Hall is possibly the proudest Florida Gator you'll find. A year ago I would have told you that he was about my level and somebody I could beat on a good day. His improvement to 28.75, made that claim pretty hard to live up to. Hall listens to the soundtrack of 'Repo Man' continuously prior to competeting. I dont get it.

Arturo Rios, 27.5 HDB's, New York, NY
'The Natural' grew up a couple of towns away from me in New Jersey. He's a father of three, and really is a natural Eater. Two weeks ago he ate 21 against me at the Molly Pitcher Qualifier. A week later he improved to 27.5 whatever....

Pat Philbin, 27 HDB's, Cranbury, NJ
Pat is one of the few Big Guys at the table. Watch how he eats, he starts out slow, and keeps the same pace as all the sprinters get full and stop. He's a comedian and has a large fan-base from being on the 'Opie and Anthony' radio show.

Erik Denmark, 26.5 HDB's in regulation, 3.5 in OT, Flushing, NY
I know Erik only through email as he lives in Seattle and we dont go to much of the same contests. Like Hall, I was sure I could beat him on a good day. He improved so much it would have to be a VERY good day. Like Chip Simpson he seems to have mental toughness and I would not be too surprised (only jealous) to see him break 30.

Juliet Lee, 26 HDB's, Norfolk, VA
Juliet's two daughters and her husband travel with her to all of her competitions. She's been doing this less than a year and has already made a huge impact. I dont know why there arent more women competitors, but I'm grateful to have her at the table. You'll remember she beat me at the contest I went to in Myrtle Beach a few months back. Look for them to possibly seat her next to Sonya, so they can stoke the rivalry.

Crazy Legs Conti, 24 HDB's, Bloomington, MN
A special person to CE, Crazy Legs has been around for more than 6 years, in a sport that wears people out in 2 or 3 years. He has competed in nearly every type of food and holds or has held records of all types. I appreciate his wit and am always impressed by his ability to talk on camera. There's a documentary about his life that played at the TriBecca film festival, and I believe that it has just gone on sale as a DVD.

Dale Boone, 21 HDB's, Atlanta, GA
I've never met Dale, but he's said nasty things to many people I respect. He plays the badguy, and is a loudmouth. He wears a Coonskin hat and rings a big bell. A positive thing I can say is that he isnt afraid to sign his name to mean comments, when others just post anonymously.

Allen Goldstein, Avg. of 25.33 HDB's, Wildcard
An 'Old School' Eater out of New York. One of the first people to prove that you dont have to be a fat-ass to do this at a professional level. Allen is built like a tank, and has worked hard year after year to get his numbers this high.

Tim Brown, Avg. of 24.67 HDB's, Wildcard
I dont know a damned thing about Tim other than he's from Chicago. I hope to meet him this year.

So there's alittle about the people at the table. I will try to add links to their photos for the ones that I have. All of them are very interesting!

I will be watching (and feeling left out) from home with Wing Kong, and we will be eating Hotdogs and yelling at the damned TV with a bunch of kids and barking dogs. Enjoy!

Eight Words for w and scooter (eight words)

Have you
No Respect
for this
Great Country?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Striking a Chord

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Y'all remember a few posts ago, my sons bike was stolen on the last day of school. It was a terrible blow to him, as he had taken such good care of it, and had helped purchase it with his hard earned money. He really felt violated, this was something he treasured, and some stranger had stolen it. I was crushed for him.

A week after, things had begun to settle in the house. We had filled out a Police report, and were hopeful that by some miracle that would find his beautiful Blue Diamondback. Realistically we also started planning how we could get him a replacement for the Summer.

What we got was a Happy Ending, and we all learned something.

I'm going to mention some people that did a great thing. I don't do this to embarrass them, but to share with you readers this great story.

There is a phone message from our local bike shop. It's the owner, and he wants to talk to my son. My son is excited to call back, hoping that his bike has been found and returned to the bike shop (the local bike shop stamps all of his bikes with serial #'s and keeps them on file for just this purpose)

I talk to Frank first.
"Listen, I got a phone call from a man from some Eating Organization in New York City, He overnighted me a check to purchase a new bike for your son"
"No Shit."
"I thought he was kidding"
"Bring your Son down to pick out the bike"

What had happened, was that one of the two brothers that run the IFOCE, heard about the bike being stolen, and felt that he was in a position to help. More than just having empathy, he was called to action, and put together a fund in which several of the IFOCE organization staff, and some of the Eaters themselves donated cash, which the organization matched. The whole process and check was completed in a day.

Ch@rlie was stunned, and his voice cracked when he relayed the story. He couldn't figure out why a stranger would do something like this for him. My wife and I felt exactly the same. While we could replace the bicycle, we couldn't replace what was really stolen...his trust in mankind. These people did what I could not.

The bike that the IFOCE bought for him was the nicest Diamondback that the store carries. He got a new helmet (the original was stolen too) and the biggest, heaviest bike lock available. He stills marvels at what happened and how someone he doesnt know was moved by his story, I'm certain he will carry this act of kindness the rest of his life...I sure will.


Most of the people who read this blog know that I live a double life as a Competitive Eater. I hope the stories have been entertaining and not too self serving or over-cooked. I hope it has been informative and not too disgusting.

This Fourth of July will be the Nathans Hotdog Championship and for the 91st straight year, it will go on without my participation. I failed to reach my goal of 20 HotDogs again this year, and I didnt outright win either of the Qualifiers I entered and had to sit-out my third chance for work related reasons. I'm ok with all of that, as this is a personal journey for me to see how hard I can push myself to reach my goals, and to meet so many interesting people.

I have 2 important Posts to write in the next 2 days.
1. You often hear me say how great the people are who do this. I have a story that proves it.
2. I will write a Primer for you for the contest that will be aired on at 12 noon on ESPN. I will include some incite into the likely winners, and some background of what I know about the other 15 people who will get much less face-time.