UP with DOWNton!

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched the “Downton Abbey” Series Finale, DO NOT read this!
OK? Let’s discuss the last episode of this great PBS show.
We LOVED the finale. I know to some, the idea of pretty much everyone having a Happy Ending seems unrealistic…even fanciful, but after watching and being disappointed by so many of the “big” shows lately, We were thrilled to experience a a 2-hour storybook fantasy for once. Consider these shows and where they’ve taken us, the loyal fans over the last few years:
“Sopranos”- This iconic show started what I call the “unsatisfying ending” trend for viewers with it’s closing scene. As much as we loved this show, I don’t know anyone who enjoyed they way the show concluded…leaving everything up in the air and die hard fans discussing every little scene detail to this day on the web. Remember how you grabbed the remote or thought you lost power during that last 20 seconds?


“Deadwood”- It ended without ending. We were all expecting another Season and we never got it. Creator David Milch supposedly gave it all up to do that awful show “John from Cincinnati”, which barely lasted one season. Every couple of months we fans hear rumors of a “Deadwood” movie or reunion…but it’s not likely. It was enough to make you curse like a Cowboy. The second example of a show not giving good “Fan Service”.


“Mad Men”-This “must-see-TV show” continued it’s abuse of the fans who made it a success,when they started taking TV’s most handsome anti-hero, Don Draper…a virtual American James Bond, and slowly and steadily breaking him down, piece by piece. We all know Madison Avenue and the Advertising World has been selling us things we don’t really need for years…but consumerism is as American as we get. From the mutiny of his co-workers (many of them HIS employees) to his humiliating fall from Grace and all the unmanly crying scenes, the unexpected death of his ex-wife, Betty. His failed marriage to the sexiest French Canadian ever seen on TV (Zou-bisou-bisou!), the all too obvious 60s Pop references (“Hey! Who’s up for going to Sharon Tate’s house for a party?) to the WTH? half-season split at the end of the show…they took the coolest guy on TV and turned him into a member of a California Cult. Mathew Weiner must really hate us.



“Game of Thrones”- Author George R.R. Martin has never apologized for shocking and bumming us out, when it comes to the GOT books. Considering his genius…I think it’s acceptable for a writer, his privilege. But the show “runners”, Dan Weiss and David Benioff have taken it one painful step further. They went WAY out of their way to bring an unprecedented weekly “torture-porn” element into our living rooms week after week this past Season. From Sersi’s naked “walk of shame”, Kaleesi’s dragon getting his butt kicked and leaving her in the hands of a tribe who hates her, to Arya going blind and of course the repeated sodomizing/rape of one the most innocent characters, Sansa…it has many of us wondering if we were ready to bail on our favorite show. And then to kill off the only real hope for peace in the kingdom, Jon Snow….it was just all so unnecessary and pretty much the choice of the two MEN who are in control of the script, to make the show so brutal to the women of Westeros. The worst case of “hating your viewers” in TV history.



So when “Downton Abbey” goes the distance to make sure every major cast member is happy…or at least has the promise of happiness in their future…well, I know I’m not alone in saying it was refreshing!

-Lady Edith gets her Bertie back and they wed.

-Mary and her new husband are having a child and he and Tom are starting a cool business together.

-The Bates’ finally have their baby and no one had to die or go to prison.

-Thomas feels the much needed love of his “family” and gets his dream job, even though Carson’s gig is about to be re-invented.

-Cousin Isobel ends up marrying and saving the life of her devoted Lord Merton, despite having the worst son and daughter-in-law in British History.

-Lord Grantham and even The Dowager didn’t have to die.

-Even Mrs. Patmore and Daisy have a chance at romance with The Pigman and Pigman Jr.

I don’t care if it borders on being “child-like” to enjoy a happy ending all the way around…we needed it. Lord knows, with everything going on in the world today, we needed this! 


I have to admit to you though, we were holding our breath during the unusually long pause after the Reverend asked “…speak now or forever hold your piece…”. And I was half-expecting Lady Edith and Bertie to say “So Long”after the wedding and then head-out for their honeymoon which would start by boarding The Hindenburg for a flight to New Jersey. Thanks to the other shows listed above, I was conditioned to have the rug pulled out. Thank you “Downton Abbey” and PBS for giving us some great Fan Service…it was lovely.





A MadMan’s guide to HOT Pizza

Steaming Pizza

I LOVE pizza. It has been my all-time favorite food since my first bite of my first slice when I was 4 yrs. old. This was in Hamtramck back when the favorite deep-dish pizza was cooked in a pan that was lubricated with bacon-grease. (now THAT was great pie!)


Over the years, pizza has become an obsession in my life. I admit that my pizza preference borders on compulsive behavior, and I’m fine with that. My insanity regarding pizza has caused many awkward social situations and people close to me know that when I order a pie, it’s like a military operation. It’s not a casual thing and over the years, I have perfected a way to make sure my pizzas are enjoyed the way God intended: HOT.

Now if you don’t care about your pizza being hot…or if you’re satisfied with putting it in the microwave (which to me totally RUINS pizza) then you might get a laugh out of this article, but you won’t find it useful. If however, you agree that the best way to send your mouth to Heaven is with hot pie, then read on and feel free to follow these steps.

#1. I Never order a pizza to be delivered. Please remember, this advice is for people who value hot-pizza over any other consumable. However, if you’ve got a house full of kids to feed, or a party going’ on, or  you’re just not into enjoying pizza like a communion of pleasure…you’ve probably never even given this any thought. So by all means, make it easy on yourself. I say this with all due respect to the pizza places that do deliver, some of them do that vey well. But that just out of the oven-burn your tongue experience is very unlikely to take place if it’s being delivered, UNLESS that store really makes hot delivery a priority…and i’m sure some do. In fact, this post was inspired by a new TV commercial I recently saw which featured a new, pizza delivery vehicle with a built-in warming oven. That could be promising…I’ll have to try it…But I used to be a delivery guy for a big pizza chain. Even with a metal “hot box” that we would plug in at the store and then unplug and put the hot-box into the car, it was almost impossible to deliver pizza that had steam trails coming out of the box when you opened it at home. When I delivered, there were two reasons for this:

  1. It took a while to find an address you’ve never visited before.
  2. You NEVER left the store with just one pie. In my time, the pizza guy made an small hourly wage and the rest was made on tips. So you would wait for two or three pies to come out of the oven before you packed up and headed out. Therefore you could make more money on one run. And since everyone orders at a different time, they come out of the oven at different times. The time between pizza #1 and #3 coming out could be as much as 10 minutes. Even using that hot box, there was a quality difference between #1 and #3 based on time out of the oven. And, as I recall, you didn’t necessarily take the first one out of the oven to the first house you drove to. You arranged the route based on what you thought was the easiest route. So…the first one out of the over could be the last one delivered. Needless to say…I never got made a lot on tips. (also…on a side note: the pizza delivery guy’s ultimate fantasy never came true. The one involving a woman in lingerie who didn’t have enough to pay for the whole bill…you can imagine the rest. )


Obviously with GPS on every phone and in most cars, reason #1 above is no longer an issue, so your chances of getting a hot pie have increased a lot. I don’t know how they arrange deliveries these days, but I can’t imagine a guy heading out with just one pie at a time, and I can’t remember the last time I got an actual hot pizza delivered with one exception: Primo’s in Birmingham. I’m not sure how they do it, but I always get a hot pie when they ring our bell.

#2. Invest in a couple of pizza hot bags. There’s cheap, reusable and they do a great job of keeping your pie warm. Locate them BEFORE you order your pie on the phone or web.


#3 When you order your pizza for carryout, leave to pick it up as soon as you hang up your phone. You read that right. As soon as I hang up, I’m out the door. The reason for this is no matter how early you arrive, it’s the only way to make sure you’re ready to head for home, as soon as it comes out of the oven. Getting there early will also give you time to pay for it in advance, and buy any pop or extras you may want. So as soon as they put your pie in the box, you’re out the door. (Needless to say, I won’t patronize a store that makes your salad, AFTER your pie comes up.)

#4. No extra stops on the way home. Not for gas, groceries or anything else. You can go out for those items later.

#5. Have a co-pilot if possible, to secure your pizza  in the hot-bag and to keep it from bouncing around in the car and to keep it LEVEL. You’ve gone to all the trouble to make sure it’s traveling home hot and that means it’s warm enough to slide to one side if the box isn’t level. And since your car seats pitch backwards, you’ll need to be careful to avoid the cheese and sauce avalanche. If you don’t have a co-pilot, you MUST prop up the shallow side of the car seat. Bring a book or in a pinch, use your giant owner’s manual you never read from your glove box.


pizzaCarseat copy

Do I even have to MENTION there will be no “peaking” or nibbling on the pie. This lets heat escape and ruins the whole operation, and quite possibly a relationship.

When you get home, immediately turn the oven on to 200 degrees. Take the pieces out you wish to put on a plate and put the pie, box and all into the oven. At that temperature, it will stay nice and warm (even hot) until you’re ready to proceed on this scared journey.

By the way, if something goes wrong and your pie is cold…the BEST way to re-heat is to wrap it in tin foil and put it in the oven at about 250 degrees. The foil will keep the surface moist and the crust from getting too chewy. Putting pizza in the microwave turns the crust gummy and soft.

So there you have it…my step-by-step process for enjoying hot pie. Italy’s gift to mankind. You may think I am indeed mad, but ask yourself this question:

Isn’t pizza almost always much better tasting when you have it in a sit-down restaurant  compared to one that’s been delivered?  When you have to use a fork to get the pieces apart and there are gooey strings of cheese when you lift it off the pan?

Uh-huh…I thought so.