Bad Advice with Chico Martinez | What should I have for dinner?

You asked for it, so here it is: a regular series of Bad Advice with Chico Martinez.

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The problem of what to eat for dinner has plagued man ever since he had the luxury of more than one option. It is a question that comes up at least once a day, which, though common, is no easier to answer the more times it is asked. There are so many factors that go in the decision (Do I have nutritional considerations? Do I like cooking? How much food can I afford? Is it even edible?), one can despair to even consider eating a third meal. But fear not compadres! Chico has three foolproof ideas to help you decide what to eat tonight!

  1. First, are you close with any friends or family that might invite you over for dinner tonight? If yes, problem solved! Invite yourself over and eat whatever they are eating. If you have no friends or family close enough to show their love of you through a home-cooked meal, go make some friends (making family may take longer) and invite yourself over!
  2. Shopping_cartBut what if your friends and family invite you over for something gross (like fish, ew)? Fear not. All you need is a trip to the grocery store. Wander the aisles and listen to your stomach. But don’t forget to listen to your wallet too! Remember, grocery stores make the most money selling food to hungry people. That is why instead of looking on the shelves, you will be looking in other people’s carts. If you find one filled with delicious food, strike up a conversation with the muchacho or muchacha pushing that cart. Play your cards right and you’ll be enjoying the dinner that you wanted, but on someone else’s dime. (Granted, I’ve never had this work for me, but that’s not to say it can’t work for you.)
  3. 640px-Value_menu_hamburgersStill afraid that you need to rely on your charms to eat? Fear not, hungry Gringo. This last idea is perfect for people with no social skills whatsoever. Simply find and wear a uniform to your favorite fast food restaurant (you can find just about anything in thrift stores), walk in and start “helping” people by clearing their trays. If a person complains that they aren’t done with their food when you are trying to clear the tray, they may try to complain to management. But hey, what can they do? Fire you? You don’t even work there. El plan perfecto!

And there you have it. Now you can tuck in to a perfect meal without even dipping into your pocketbook! Buen apetito!

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Do you need some bad advice? Write your question for Chico in the comments and it may get answered soon!


I am a Fan of Rejection

rejected2Twice now, a story of mine has been rejected by potential publishers. I just got the email saying so a few minutes ago. I won’t tell you who the publisher was, but it is one that I enjoy and respect (which is why I sent them my story in the first place).

The rejection was for a flash story that I wrote over a couple of nights and then edited over a couple of weeks. Friends and family read it and gave me feedback. I felt like it was ready, so I sent it out. And it got rejected. Twice.

And that’s okay. In fact, it is good.

Of course, I would have loved for it to have been bought by the first place I sent it, but the fact that it wasn’t doesn’t give me great pause. There are hundred of thousands of publishers out there and I haven’t tried them all yet.

I still feel like it is a good story, though I’ll take another look at it to see if there is some tweaking that I can do to make it a better story. And in the mean time, while it was out there in the slush piles, waiting for some editor to look at it, I had a chance to write another story. And that story is almost ready to send out to be possibly rejected like the first one.

But you know what? Even if I send them both out and they both get rejected twenty times each, I still have faith in the system.

Why am I so okay with rejection? Because in addition to being a writer and a bookstore employee, I am a paid reviewer for the Dove Foundation and I read books for content and quality. And in such a role, I just read what is possibly one of the worst books I have ever read. For the dignity of the author, I won’t speak directly about the book here (you can search my reviews at if you need to know), but I will say that the book was self-published.

Now, I know that the publishing industry has changed and that there are a lot of good reasons why an author might self-publish. I have blogging friends that are proudly self-published authors. They have done the research and decided that going it alone is the best financial way to go. But at the risk of offending those folks, there is another more obvious reason that an author might self-publish a book. BECAUSE NO PUBLISHER WOULD TOUCH IT.

My faith in the system remains because publishers make their money by screening out books that they don’t think worthy of space on a bookshelf. The self-publishing industry makes their money by accepting people who, for one reason or another, don’t want to pass through that screening process. And while I don’t think that rejection letters are a badge of pride (like some authors I know), I do see them as a validation that the system works.

Are there exceptions to the rule? Sure. But the rule exists because of the 99.9% who prove it true.

I have hope that all of my writings will be published one day, but for now I am happy to write, hone my craft, and be rejected enough times to learn from my mistakes and become a better writer.

Basement Editorial | How the Mind of Josh Mosey Worked in High School

Journal Entry: February 8, 1999

Remember when this was the best that digital cameras had to offer?

I am a teenager, but not a teenage mother. That’s the truth. Maybe. Yes, it is. I like girls. I like cheese and bacon on my hotdogs. I like cheese and bacon on my baked potatoes. I like Mr. Potato Head. Once, I sold a Mr. Potato Head to a kindergarten teacher who let kindergartners play with it. If I were a mother, I would send my child to kindergarten with he or she was five. That is how old they would have to be. I would make their lunch and they could trade it or keep it. I don’t care if they trades lunches. I don’t care if they eat a puppy, unless it makes a mess. Don’t make a mess!

Lashings of Ginger Beer

It started in high school, when one of the adult youth workers started saying, “Let’s all go out for lashings of ginger beer!” Why did he say it? I don’t know. It was the same guy who would stick his finger in your mouth while you were yawning. He was unpredictable.

Anyway, “lashings of ginger beer” became something of a catch phrase, so when, on a youth function, we stopped at a convenience store that sold ginger beer, it was a foregone conclusion that I would get some and drink it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with ginger beer, it is a non-alcoholic drink originally made from fermented ginger, akin to ginger ale, only spicier. In recent years, ginger beer is produced in the same fashion as most other soft drinks, but the best commercially available ginger beers are still made naturally and contain visible amounts of crushed ginger.

But what is a “lashing”? According to, “lashing” has British origins in “lash” or “lavish”, thus it means to have in abundance.

Back to the ginger beer. That first ginger beer that I drank on the youth event was made in the Jamaican style and it tasted how anti-flea dog shampoo smells. It was an experience, a throat-burning, eyes-watering experience. It wasn’t bad, per se. But it was different. And I kind of liked it.

Ginger-Beer-Taste-Off-1-of-1Since that first time, I discovered that there are all kinds of different ginger beers. Stewart’s, better known for their root beers and cream sodas makes a version. Ginger People have one, and it’s pretty good. And then I discovered the Australian style which is a bit tamer and Bundaberg Ginger Beer became my favorite.

But now I am tempted to make some of my own. I happened across a recipe in an old issue of Cruising World (don’t ask me why I had a sailing magazine sitting around) and it looks easy enough to try. Here’s the recipe:

Spicy Ginger Beer (from Cruising World, March 2003, by Ilana Stern)

  • 1/2 pound fresh ginger root
  • 12 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 9 liters cool water
  • 5 1/2 cups demerara or raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 liter ginger beer from previous batch (or New Starter – Combine 1 liter water and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to 90 to 115 degrees F, then add 1/2 teaspoon baker’s yeast, stirring well. Pour into a clean 1-liter soda bottle and let sit for two to four days. To use, pour off half the liquid and shake gently to distribute the yeast.)

Peel ginger root, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and crush with a hammer. Add crushed ginger, cloves, and cinnamon stick to 2 quarts of water in a large saucepan. Simmer for 30 minutes. Gradually add sugar and stir until completely dissolved, then pour it all into a large, wide-mouthed container. Add remaining ingredients, starter last. Shake well, cap tightly, and allow to rest for 24 to 48 hours. After a day or two of fermentation, the raisins will have risen to the surface and be surrounded by a light froth of bubbles. (If not, shake again and let sit another day.) Shake well, then strain into clean plastic bottles. Recipe makes 10 liters. Important: Use only bottles that have held carbonated beverages. Others won’t withstand the pressure that will develop. Cap tightly and allow to rest for at least 24 hours before moving to icebox or refrigerator. Consume within five weeks (three weeks if unrefrigerated).

Has anyone out there had ginger beer before? Has anyone made it? And for my British readers, does anyone still say “lashings”?

Basement Editorial | Bad Advice with Chico Martinez | Fashion

I happened across another edition of The Parable, the His House Christian Fellowship newsletter. So, here’s another article of Bad Advice with Chico Martinez (the first is here).

800px-BathingMachineDontBeAfraidWith summer just around the corner, we are all soon to see the summer fashion editions of the morning “news” programs. As your resident man of the people, I figured I would save you the trouble of waking up early and listening to annoying, overpaid, and chipper morning people. And if you are worried that you may not be getting the truth from me, just keep in mind that I’m not getting paid for my opinion. I’m not getting paid at all. I’m so poor. Please, someone just help me out… Okay, anyway, on with the summer fashion advice. This year, Chico can help you be Muy Caliente!

  1. Following the fashion trends of yesteryear, first we had the bell bottoms of the 70’s, then a rehash a few years ago. Then if you remember, we hit the 80’s, but rather than advise anything from the 80’s (except Stryper of course), we are going to skip ahead to the next fashion trend. Hammer Pants! You know you had a pair and if you still have that pair, whip ’em out! I don’t care if it was ten years ago and you are mucho grande now, Chico has spoken. Hammer Pantalones es muy In!
  2. Swimwear you say? Chico has the skinny on swimwear (figuratively of course, Chico is not a skinny man). Think back with me to the 20’s and 30’s. Those were the good old days of swimwear, when men wore full-length red-and-white striped swimsuits, and ladies wore full-length gowns (Chico doesn’t remember what the ladies wore, but he thinks that full-length gowns sound pretty good). Well, it is time for a little bit of that old-timey goodness again. Water, prepare yourself for the red-and-white striped cannonball!
  3. Why not does something new? Something no one has done before? Let’s get creative here… I’m proposing a new piece of clothing never thought of before. I think I’m going to call it a “t-shirt”. This is what it looks like. It has one large hold in the bottom that fits around your waist, a hold for the head and two “sleeves” for the arms (each “sleeve” has a hold for the “arms” to go “through”). It is made of lightweight cotton-like material and maybe it could have a logo or words or a picture on it, but it doesn’t need one. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that my “t-shirt” idea will be an instant classic!

And with that, Chico does it again! Pure genius as usual. And to all of you who are thinking that I’m just some crackpot bent on bringing people down to my own reviled social status… ummm… you might be wrong?! Well, until next time, keep your pants high and your socks pulled up, and don’t forget the wisdom of Chico when you go shopping at the Goodwill (like I do) for your new summer look. Adios mis compadres!

100 Word Challenge | The Queue Was So Long

Feels like a while since I’ve participated in the Julia’s Place 100 Word Challenge. Anyway, I’m back. Be sure to click the image to the right and see the other participants’ entries. Maybe consider giving an entry of your own!

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Tickets for the show in hand, my date and I went to the back of the queue.

“Was ‘So long’ the best you could do?” said a young woman in line ahead of us, staring at me.

“Beg your pardon?”

“Do you know how devastated I was when you didn’t come back?”


“Mum made excuses for you, but I knew that it was my fault. I was the reason that you left.”

“Miss,” said my date.

“Don’t ‘Miss’ me! I have waited too long.”

Icy cola splashes my face, followed by a fist. Then she’s gone.

“Who was that?”

“May have been my daughter.”


I am a Pog Collector

I didn’t realize that I still had them. But as my wife and I went through the things in the basement, deciding what would be given to Goodwill and what would be going to the dump, I came across as small red bag, filled with cardboard discs and a brass slammer.

Memories flooded back. In middle school, but about two weeks, possibly a month, Pogs were the biggest thing in the world. For those who don’t remember, Pogs are a cross between baseball collecting and a game of jacks. You and your opponent place your Pogs into a stack, then take turns dropping/throwing your slammer on the top of the stack. Those Pogs that flip over are your to keep.

And so the risk of playing Pogs is losing them. And the fun of playing Pogs is winning them. I never had much fun playing Pogs, because I hated losing them. And I never played enough to get good at winning them because I was afraid to lose the ones that I had left. I preferred safety to risk.

dc_comics_pogsIn my defense, I had some pretty sweet Pogs. You see, my dad sold them for a time in his hobby shop, so I got my pick of the good ones. My collection consists primarily of DC Comics Pogs. I have Robin, Hawkman, Deathstroke, Black Lightning, Superboy. I have Aquaman, John Stewart, The Joker, Metamorpho, and Lex Luthor. I even have Mr. Mxyzptlk, Lobo, and Shazam. The only one that I don’t have (that I wanted) is Batman.

Of course, I had some average Pogs as well. I have a number of Goosebumps Pogs (Copyright 1995) that came free in boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios. And I have a few stinkers like a sun wearing sunglasses pitching local grocery store D&W and a buoy for some reason.

The point is that I learned at a young age that I’m not much of a gambler. I never wanted to risk much in order to get better as a Pog player. And in the case of Pogs, this was fine, because by the time I had gotten good at Pogs, the fad would have been over and my skill would have been wasted. But the truth is the same.

I prefer safety.

And so, after finding them, you might be wondering whether they went to the dump or to Goodwill. The answer is…

Neither. It’s a fine collection of Pogs. If I wasn’t going to get rid of it in middle school, I’m not going to get rid of them now. Maybe I’ll finally find the missing Batman Pog and my collection will be complete.

Speedway is too cerebral for me

For years now, I’ve puzzled over the cups at Speedway, the gas station chain with the best Frozen Cokes around. The cups, you see, have a slogan on them.

“Un-RIVALed Refreshment”

Now, I know what it means to be “unrivaled”. It means that they have no rivals. But I did not understand the hyphen or the capitalization. For years, I just assumed that Speedway’s marketing people just had no idea what they were doing.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I finally asked them via Facebook (where I am a fan) what the deal was. And they got back to me.

ME: Speedway, can you explain “Un-RIVALed” to me? I know it means that you have no real competition, especially in the area of soft drinks, but I don’t get the use of hyphens and capitalization. What am I missing? Or rather, what am I Mi-SSing?

SW: It doesn’t answer all of your questions but I did find out that it was designed as a play on the fact that we carry both Coke and Pepsi products!

ME: Thanks for getting back to me. I have wondered that for years now. How about doing a customer contest to come up with a new slogan that won’t drive word nerds like me crazy? Winner gets free Speedy Freezes for a year.

SW: That sounds like an awesome promotion to me! I will forward that idea on to our beverage team but there is buzz, that there is already a new slogan in the works, that you should be seeing very soon!

So there we have it. It was a play on words. They took two rivals, Coke and Pepsi, and put them in the same soda fountain. They were using the hyphen and the capitalization to say that it was more than an adjective, it was a past-tense verb!

Boy, do I feel pedestrian!

I am glad to hear that they have a new slogan in the works though. But if it is anything like the last one, it may take me a few more years to decipher its hidden message.

In the mean time, I don’t really care what the cups say, as long as Speedway keeps the Frozen Coke flowing. Or should I say “Floe-ing”?

Get it? Ice? Ice Floe? Frozen Coke? No? Oh well. I’ll just leave it to the professionals, I guess.


Meatball & Pineapple Hoagie Massacre


I made dinner the other night. I make dinner a lot of nights. It isn’t like I am new to cooking. Thanks to the willingness of my beautiful wife to pick the girls up from Grandma and Grandpa’s house after she gets done working 8-9 hours as an accountant, I have the time to get home and make dinner before she arrives with the girls.

Anyway, I was making Meatball & Pineapple Hoagies. It’s a really good quick meal, but it had been a while since I made it. I dug the recipe out of the cookbook drawer and gave it a quick read-through. Here’s the recipe:


  • 1 Large Sweet Onion, halved and sliced (2 cups
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 16-oz. pkg. Frozen Cooked Meatballs, thawed
  • 1 cup Peeled, Cored Pineapple, chopped (about 1/4 pineapple)
  • 1 cup Desired Chutney (my wife and I like Mango Chutney)
  • 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
  • 4 Hoagie Buns, split and toasted (my wife and I like to melt in a bit of provolone cheese into the buns in the broiler)
  • 8 slices Provolone Cheese (optional)


In large skillet, cook onion in hot oil over medium heat about 8 minutes, or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in meatballs, pineapple, chutney, and crushed red pepper. Cover skillet; cook 3 minutes more, or until heated through, stirring once. Serve in buns. Serves 4.

So that’s the recipe. Very simple. Not many ingredients. Doesn’t take long to cook.

Here’s how I messed it up. I didn’t see 1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper. I saw 1/4 cup of crushed red pepper.

I remember measuring it out, thinking, “Man, that’s a lot of red pepper.” But did I double-check the recipe? No. No, I didn’t. I just dumped it in and mixed it up.

My wife got home with the girls while I was toasting the hoagie buns, the final step of the process. We got the girls’ dinner ready (both are still young enough to require their own prepared dinners), and my wife peeked at our dinner in the skillet and said, “That’s a lot of red pepper.”

I said, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

One bit into our hoagies, she asks, “How much did the recipe call for?”

“Um,” I said, “I’ll check.” I didn’t want to say how much I added, because now I was second-guessing how much I should have added.

“I’m up,” said my wife, who was getting us some more water to drink. “How much did you add?”

“How much does it say I should have added?”

“How much DID you add?”

“Um,” I said, “One quarter…”



My wife burst with laughter.

“Oops,” I said.

Anyway, it really is a good recipe, when you follow the directions. And it wasn’t bad the other night. But it was very warm. So, yeah, be sure to follow the directions.

Read twice, cook once.

Time Hack List

A while ago, I wrote about how new experiences put bookmarks in our lives and our experience of time slows down. This explains why childhood, where you are daily experiencing new things, is more memorable than years at a desk job, where you do the same thing every day.

Anyway, as I was cleaning my desk at work, I came across a list that I must have brought in one day. It is a list of experiences that I want to have before I die. I’ll call it my Time Hack List.

  • diet-coke-and-mentos_croppedTest drive a sports car
  • Shoot a handgun
  • Skydive
  • Scuba dive
  • Rent a tux for a fancy dinner
  • Cook with a chef
  • Play a gig in a coffee shop
  • Paint a picture on a canvas
  • Attend a musical
  • Open mic night at a comedy club
  • Dumpster dive
  • Create a sculpture out of car parts from a junk yard
  • Hike a trail and camp
  • Driving range
  • Mentos/Diet Coke
  • Attend a Renaissance Faire
  • Talk like a Pirate Day
  • Have a mohawk
  • Make a movie/commercial
  • Build a stool
  • Attend an Orthodox church service
  • Eat an item at a restaurant that is free if you can finish all of it
  • Send balloon mail
  • Write a letter to a famous person
  • Get a professional massage
  • Wear face paint to a sporting event

Now, some of the items on my list are there because I really want to do them, like the massage thing. Some are there because the idea of doing them scares the cheese out of me, but I think it would be good for me anyway, like skydiving. And some things are there because they are things that other people enjoy that I don’t understand, like shooting handguns, wearing face paint to sporting events, and attending Renaissance Faires. But all of the things on the list are there because I think that doing them will give me some insight about myself and my world.

As you can see, I’ve already crossed a couple things off since I wrote this list, and I believe that my life is fuller for having done them. But I’ve got a way to go before I can cross the rest off, and I have a feeling that my list will grow.

Speaking of which, what do you think I should add to my Time Hack List? What is on your Time Hack List?