Happy 278th year of existence, America.
We’ve had a good run thus far. Some great times, some bad times, some times when we weren’t as nice to everyone as we should be. A few times when we were jerkholes, and a lot more times when we did things right.
Then there was that one time we did more than just fine in that 2014 global intergalactic game of kick the ball past the guy into a net.
But now it’s time for your birthday, America, which comes on the heels of Canada Day. I mention this for no other reason than to posit: what the hell exactly is Canada Day?
But I’m not here to talk about traditions as common as buying a 3-gallon jar of mayonnaise from your neighborhood OmniMart. For July is the the time in every man’s life where he embarks on the summer vacation. Or for those of us in the throes of our 30s, the summer family vacation.
Don’t let the word “vacation” deceive you. For this is a time when you decide to take a break from the stresses of home, and stress out about them in a wholly new environment.
A 3-hour road trip to the beach becomes an epic, nightmarish haul of a) kids or b) kids and in-laws or c) kids and your parents or d) kids and your friends and their kids or e) any or all combination of everything I just listed here. God help us all.
My friends, finding the 19th hole in such a stressful clime is damn near impossible. TO say nothing of the unloading, the meals, the early wake-ups, the screwed-up sleep schedules, the close quarters, the kid with explosive bodily functions at 2:37am, the sudden (and constant) disappearance of money from your wallet, and the daily assault upon your nerves and patience from people you thought you knew and loved. And if you’re hoping for fireworks on the 4th, well, simply get into an argument with your wife about who’s held the toddler the most during mealtimes and can-I-please-just-have-3-minutes-to-eat-my-f@#$ing-hamburger. (Sadly, the fireworks on summer family vacation are rarely of the bedroom kind, especially when the travel crib is in your room.)
I am exhausted simply typing it.
I offer no pearls, no tricks o’ the trade, no hidden insight into the travails that await all of us lucky enough to have wonderfully weird groups of people whom we love and who love us and who, for some reason, we annually sequester ourselves with in different, expensive locales.
Sunshine, cheap beer, and the occasional breath of fresh air are your friends. Cherish them, savor their brief and fleeting presences, much like you would a cool breeze on a hot beach.
Happy trails, comrades, may you live to fight another vacation next year. And be the ball.
Greetings, my friends. I have returned.
For these past few months, I’ve wandered hither and yon, through fairway and forest and well-tended green. I’ve had some rough patches along the way, yes, but nothing from which a sturdy 7-iron couldn’t save me. Also, rumor has it I got my card, and entered a few tournaments. And that rumor was started by me.
Still, in my brief sabbatical, I’ve seen some sights. Bubba owning the Masters. Brendan Todd taking the Colonial. Martin Kaymer’s 23-foot putt to clinch the Players (Sir Duf, I lost a bottle of whisky on you – a Johnnie Black, but still.) Our very own Chris Doak – the 323rd best player in the world and proud wearer of Criquet apparel – is slated to play in the Pinehurst after finishing just 12 away from Rory at the BMW Open. Chris, well done, lad.
But I return to you, not with tales of 18 holes but of the 19th. For in my journeys across our fine country, in our human rituals of roasting meats over fire, I came to realize an epidemic of laziness had overtaken the land.
You see, post Memorial Day, it occurred to me that most Americans have no idea how to make a hamburger. This is a national travesty.
I have seen too many store-bought, pre-made patties. Too many unseasoned, 95% lean abominations. To say nothing of the occasional turkey patty masquerading as cow (perish the thought!). So comrades, I sought, I found, and I now present to you: the best goddamned hamburger you’ll ever have in your life.
For the rest of you, read on.
This burger is not for the faint of heart, or the clogged of artery. It is also a bit unorthodox, as it is created inside one’s abode. Of course, charcoal is a different (and beauteous) beast. However, when the summer season hangs hot and sweaty upon your brow, you’ll be glad to be cooking these amidst the blessing of air conditioning.
THE BEST GODDAMNED HAMBURGER
2 pounds of sirloin steak tips.
Do not mince. Pulse until chunky and then spread on a cookie sheet.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, pour on the meat, douse liberally with salt and pepper. (And if you’re not using kosher salt, God help you.)
Form patties, roughly ½ pound each.
Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. (Crucial in allowing the butter to set and for you to enjoy a Gin Rickey.)
Now, get a cast iron skillet and place that sucker over a medium-high flame. Once smokingly hot, sear patties on both sides. Then place in an oven at 300˚ until done (about 130˚ in the middle, according to your meat thermometer). What, you’ve never used a meat thermometer for burgers? Holy St. Anthony!* I’m pouring myself another Coors yellow belly.
*Patron saint of butchers
¾ cup of mayo
2 Tablespoons soy
1 T brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T minced chives
2 garlic cloves, minced
Generous twists of black pepper
Now. NOW. The crowning moment. Put burger and sauce together. Put inside good buns (challah, brioche, whatever). Put inside mouth parts and into your belly guts.
As to what to drink with your creation, well, that’s a whole other story in and of itself. In a pinch, my experience is that cheap canned beer cracked open at a hair above freezing makes an excellent dining companion.
Until next time, comrades. God bless ‘Murica. And be the ball.
We celebrate Father’s Day to honor the brave men who have ascended to the world of Fatherhood: a brave place filled with dirty diapers, endless nagging, sleepless nights and the challenge of preserving whatever dignity is left after the fact. All dads are Superdads in some way or another; some are just more famous than others.
Today we celebrate these men for their accomplishments: for their uncanny ability to make mushy mac & cheese, for their knowledge of all things (even the things they know nothing about), for their leadership and for their love as they lead their brood through the ups and downs of growing up.
Thank you Dads.
Memorial Day is great for a few reasons. Not only have we dedicated this day to remember those who fought bravely for our country, but charcoal-enthusiasts everywhere have also dedicated this day to mark the start of the grilling season.
In celebration, we give you Celebrities Grillin’. May the smell of hops and charcoal linger throughout your summer.
Criquet is proud to sponsor European Tour Pro, Scotsman Chris Doak, as he travels the world crushing balls and dropping 30-footers.
Doaky is the perfect match for Criquet, not only for his old school style and appreciation for the game, but because, like us, he understands the value of knocking back a cold one after the round.
When did you pick up your first club? I was 4 years old but I didn’t start playing until I was nine due to a problem with my hips.
Was the game inherited? Yes my father’s uncle taught him and then my dad taught me the game.
Home course? Don’t have one at the moment.
Tell us about the signature hat? I always loved the style from the old gangster movies (and on Ben Hogan) and I wanted to be different from everyone else wearing a baseball hat. Enter in the fact that my head is literally massive and baseball hats don’t fit correctly.
The inspiration? Well I always wanted to wear the hat as my golfing hero was Ben Hogan, but I thought people would *take the piss. (*Translation: tease me.)
My wife and I were at an AC/DC concert in Glasgow and obviously the lead singer wears a similar hat and all that went through my head was a montage of the song “Back in Black” with me wearing the cap and shooting 59.
How did you find out about us? I found you through a internet search for 100% cotton hard-collared polos.
What about Criquet appealed to you? The Organic cotton really attracted me to Criquet as I only wear 100% cotton shirts, and when I saw you guys’ shirts were hard-collared and organic it was perfect. The look of the shirts is old school but ageless, which is why I contacted you.
Favorite 19th Hole? Clubhouse Turnhouse golf club, Edinburgh.
…and off course? The Crown Hotel in Killarny, Ireland. I had my first Guinness there and the local music was playing… Great place!
Favorite beer/spirit at said 19th Hole? Oh got a few but I’d really have to say Guinness, then a Corona with no lime *because fruit shouldn’t be associated with beer EVER. (*Criquet does not necessarily endorse this opinion, but we respect it.)
Favorite Course? I love the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle in Dornoch, Scotland.
Why did you let Lefty win the Scottish Open? Well, he travelled longer than I did and his private jet only had enough fuel to get to Muirfield… So naturally I thought I’d be a good host and gift him some fuel money.
Favorite Moment from 2013 US Open at Merion? Hitting a 5 iron to 3 foot on the 18th right next to Ben Hogan’s marker.
Funniest/favorite playing partners? Michael Lorenzo-Vera because he is a crazy Frenchman.
When are you coming to visit Austin? Only if you get me on Shady Oaks. The Invitational 2015? I’m sure if it fits in with my schedule!
Best look? Got to go with Ty Webb.
Cheers to Chris as he makes his run for back-to-back US Open appearances, while quietly conquering 19th Holes everywhere… Go Low, Doaky!
Dear Sir Dufner,
Er…how is it wherever you are right now? Presumably you are either at or near a golf course, in which case we’d agree that things are very well for you indeed. Especially if you’re hitting strong and straight off the tee (no greater feeling, really.) However, there is a remote chance you are reading this in the john, in an airport, or in a john at an airport. Not the most ideal of circumstances, but – much like a 5-foot putt that just baaaarely lips the hole on what would’ve been a crowning birdie – sometimes that’s the way life goes.
Apologies, we’re fairly excited to be speaking with you. For a while we’ve admired your game on the tour – the ease of your swing, the ease of your posture, and the ease of which your hat hair blows in the breeze.
You are a man of class, taste and a Major champion. A man who knows how to win 18 holes and then conquer the 19th. A man who celebrates winning the PGA by seeing how many beers can be put inside the trophy. To put it rather bluntly, Mr. Dufner, we like the cut of your jib. And a jib as nicely-cut as yours deserves a fine cut of cloth to go with it.
In short, you, sir, are a Criquet man.
As the 16th greatest golfer in all the land, we know that your top priority is winning tournaments and kicking proverbial ass. That’s great, that’s your thing. Wearing super-awesome, vintage-inspired Criquet golf shirts made from organic cotton is probably a bit lower on your list. We’d just like to move it up a few notches.
You don’t even have to be the official sponsored golfer of Criquet Shirts, per se. It could just be something you put on in the morning when you go out to win huge golf tournaments. Or something you put on right after winning. You see, as we are the official sponsors of the 19th hole, it would only make sense that you were clad in something that says “I’m ready to properly toast my victory.” We think Criquet would look as natural on you as the Wanamaker trophy looks in your hands, and as good on you as your wife looks in your arms.
Speaking of, we would be remiss in neglecting to mention the ease of which Mrs. Dufner hits America’s eyes – that is to say, she is rather smoking. Like, Mickelson’s wife smoking. We mention this, of course, out of reverence for the good Lord’s handiwork and for the fact that you have chosen her to likewise bear the Dufner name. That, and you grabbed her posterior on national television after winning the Open. To this we respectfully doff our cap and say “well done.”
So. Where does this leave us?
Sir Duf (can we call you Duf?) we invite you to become the ambassador of the 19th hole. The official sponsor of winning tournaments and being an all-around bad ass. The badassamador, if you will. And, perhaps, the occasional wearer of 19th hole Criquet shirts.
On April 12th we’re going to host a Masters shindig in Austin. At the new Criquet Clubhouse on South 1st and Monroe. A tournament-watching/beer-drinking/BBQ-eating/scotch-quaffing/more-beer-drinking/llamas sort of thing. Everyone is invited.
Naturally, you’ll be playing in the Masters so we don’t expect to see you there. But let us posit this: go to the Shell Houston Open a couple weeks before, win it, then swing by for a celebratory whiskey in Austin. Do you like bourbon? We’re betting you like bourbon. And beer. And beer with a sidecar of bourbon.
It’s all coming together, Sir Duf. We’ll leave a glass out for you. And a few shirts. We think you’ll like ‘em.
Good luck. And be the ball,
EDITOR’S NOTE: With the recent sprung-ing of Spring, Noonan has felt the itch to get out on the course and “play a hole or 18 or 36 or 450.” He’ll be on hiatus for just a short while, hitting the links and the occasional bottle of scotch. If you see him, buy him a cold one and remind him that his editor is waiting for more material.
Ah, pretension. Thy name is South By.
Even the fact that we’ve taken to referring to “South By Southwest” as “South By” and spelling it “SXSW” feels a bit too smug for it’s own good. Let’s not be surprised when hipster hordes decide to truncate its overabundance of syllables into a mere grunt: Suh-Buh.
It’s a yearly spectacle that many the world clamor to attend, and one that most Austinites avoid by renting out our homes to wealthy Europeans for outlandish fees. (Why else do you think we’re okay with Formula One being held here in November – we’re talking Sultan money here, people.)
Wristbands. Badges. It’s nearly impossible to see or experience anything without the proper credentials, a few letters of recommendation, a secret handshake and a special power crystal. “I’m sorry sir, you can’t walk on the sidewalk, or even glance in the direction of that building – that’s for uber titanium, gold-rimmed, diamond-encrusted badge members…to even get one of these you have to literally set a stack of $10,000 on fire in front of a 4-person panel who votes on whether your mustache is properly waxed.”
So yes, we’ve reached a point where it’s just too much. Too many people. Too many companies. Too many buzzwords. Too many hashtags screaming for your attention like a desperate ex you broke up with a few months back: “Please! Retweet us! Share us with your friends! LOVE US! ARRRGH!!!”
Case in point, pop-up tents like this one urging us to come in and take a load off (yes, sorry, too easy).
This was Cottonelle’s press release for their South By Southwest presence :
“…bath tissue maker Cottonelle will be on hand helping attendees stay clean and fresh as they take in the latest in tech trends. Recognizing a need for a place where people can go to freshen up onsite, Cottonelle is offering a …one-stop shop where weary registrants can go to relax, recharge and freshen up during their day. The TP maker will also “upgrade” select bathrooms onsite at SXSW by stocking stalls with Cottonelle toilet paper and flushable cleansing cloths so visitors can experience the clean and freshness of Cottonelle firsthand.”
No surprise that a brand so well-versed in crap would be so adept at spewing it.
For the love of all that’s good and holy, Cottonelle. We know what you do. We know your purpose. We know where we use you. We don’t want to discuss you. We just need you to work and then go away with a resounding flush. #pleaseneveraskustotweetorinstagramanything.
Perhaps I should feel a bit guilty singling out poor Cottonelle. No doubt some senior marketing person, after months of research, marched into a January shareholder meeting, snapped his suspenders and proudly declared “I know! We’ll attend the South By the Southwest!” And Cottonelle was hardly alone in their Who-Invited-These-Guys?” status (Ahem, Subway.)
Then there’s the music portion. Where pretension reaches a fever pitch.
As a dear friend pointed out, we are on this planet to fill our bellies a few times a day and eventually make miniature versions of ourselves. Anything beyond that is our own damn collective fault. Surely, the gross apotheosis of our own materialism and hubris can be seen in a 64-foot Doritos machine. No one to blame but us. And Lady Gaga for performing on it.
Does the world really need a giant Doritos vending machine, or Lady Gaga? This is rhetorical, read on.
Friends, I can’t even muster any cynical afterburners to discuss how one gets into this Doritos sponsored Lady Gaga thing. Suffice to say, it involved tweeting about what makes one a bold individual and — God, I can’t type the rest. This lady wore a meat suit a few years back, remember? Doritos are merely bags of triangle-shaped processed cheese powder, remember?
Dammit America, what are we doing?
I’ve barely mentioned all the “secret shows” that pop up around the city, mostly providing “oh you shoulda been there” bragging rights for those who just happened to be there accidentally.
So yes, maybe you didn’t do the hashtag thing that unlocks the app which gives you the map to “Metallica and Coolio performing the entire James Taylor catalog, in the 4th stall bathroom of the Target off Hwy 290, 1 a.m.” Life goes on.
Still. Would I scoff at the thrill of going for lunch and running headlong into an impromptu street corner jam featuring Les Claypool? Or Jack White suddenly playing in an alley only a couple blocks from where I work?
Hmmm. Oh Suh-Buh. It’s so hard to quit you.
See you here in 2015, world. In the meantime, be the ball.
Every four years, the world comes together in a global show of unity and goodwill, touting the universal ideals of sportsmanship, talent and hard work…before quickly devolving into a contest for who can get the most Shiny Round Gold Thingys.
I speak, of course, of the Winter Olympics.
(I do realize that the use of Drago and boxing makes little sense in a Winter Olympic context, but this is overruled by my general philosophy that one can never go wrong with a Rocky reference.)
Despite the polite rhetoric, the Olympics are just a nice way for first world countries to have a war now and then without the nasty little side effects that come with a war, such as casualties. It’s a way to see who’s staying in shape and working out, and who’s letting themselves go watching “Duck Dynasty” on the couch. In other words, every time America fails to medal, it means Putin is a little more assured that all he needs to conquer the country are some missiles and reruns of “Charles in Charge.”
And every time we win gold, it makes Russia a little more likely to shake their heads and say, “well, clearly they’re still the best. Let’s postpone the invasion.”
In this Winter World War of Who’s Got the Biggest Biceps, smaller countries like Slovenia and Botswana don’t stand a chance. And let’s not forget Luxembourg. Actually, wait, let’s. Is Luxembourg even a real country? When was the last time you heard about Luxembourg in the news? Have they ever showed up for an Olympic event? Have you ever met anyone from Luxembourg?
But I digress.
And just how are these Battles of Who’s Got the Grandest Cojones in All the Tundra decided? Well, it’s important that we don’t ignore the battle terms of the Winter Olympics which, quite simply, are “Let’s See Who Can Get Down The Giant Mountain the Fastest and, In Some Cases, With a Backflip.”
You have the events where people jump into a human-sized bullet sled and shoot off in a tube down the mountain. Events where people zoom down a mountain with skis or boards, some over bumps, others past flags, and others still having to execute a series of jackknifes and twists.
And then there’s this:
How does one even practice whatever the hell that is? You get maybe one shot at it. And if you don’t make the 100-foot jump on Saturday, then don’t bother to show up on Sunday — because you’re dead. (In which case, that’s probably a valid excuse for missing practice, assuming you have a note from your doctor.)
There’s also speed skating, where people with thighs as big as toddlers race around in an oval for a short while, proving…something. There’s curling, understood by only 3 of America’s 50 states. And I’m not quite sure where this fits into the greater pantheon of World Dominance.
Let us not ignore the true badass event that involves cross-country snow skiing and shooting a rifle at a target. A test of skill, strength and endurance, and a show of which country has the best special forces agents to really mess some shiz up in another country.
(America, keep an eye on Norway, they did waaaaay too well in the Biathlon.)
In the end, there are winners and there are losers, those who won gold and those who didn’t make the podium. But despite our differences, the world can agree that all we’ll collectively remember from this 2014 show was Bob Costas’s pink eye, wolves in the Sochi hotels, the USA team uniforms that looked like something my grandmother sewed after a few apple brandys, and the fact that John Candy was once in a movie about a Jamaican bobsled team.
Or maybe that last one’s just yours truly. Anyway, farewell Winter Games. Now, is it spring yet? I, for one, am ready for some golf.
Be the ball,