Category Archives: Back Home Again In Indiana

This Enormous Falling Pierogi Pushed Me Right Off Facebook (via Vice Tonic)

pierogi drop 2017 whiting indiana

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Vice / Tonic — If there’s one thing we all know to be true, it’s that we should abandon Facebook now. I knew this. And in all likelihood, you know this.

You can’t swing a dead cat around the internet without bumping it into studies proclaiming how we’re all burning the precious gift of life on a yawning vacuum packed with screaming idiots, masked cries for help from vague sad people we no longer know and whatever our exes are doing, which, surprise, doesn’t help anything. (Science, incidentally, also frowns on swinging dead cats, but I couldn’t find any studies on that.)

So while we all should quit for very good reasons, I ended up quitting, like I do most things, because of pierogies. 

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Two Days Embedded in the World’s Hottest Brickyard (via Indy Monthly)

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Proud of self for taking this photo and not falling off a moving pickup.

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Indy Monthly — Two things about my experience at this year’s Brickyard 400, held Sunday on the surface of the sun: This was my first NASCAR race (though I’ve seen Cars 4,000 times, which counts), and I was lucky enough to spend it with Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski and his Miller Lite 2 crew. So while I can’t hear a thing anyone is saying right now, I can offer these thoughts from Keselowski’s pit box and Pit Road.

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John Mellencamp’s 10 Greatest Indiana Concerts (via Indianapolis Monthly)

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They come from the cities and they come from the smaller towns.

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Indianapolis Monthly — Ask John Mellencamp fans for memories of his best shows in Indiana, and one thing quickly becomes clear: The guy has performed in a lot of places around here. He has played bars and football stadiums, basketball arenas and fancy theaters, Farm Aids and guerrilla gigs. Regardless of venue, though, the shows have rarely disappointed. “As much praise as he’s gotten, I think he’s still underrated as a live performer,” says Anthony DeCurtis, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who received his Ph.D. in American literature from Indiana University. “I saw him in 1992, and it was just torrid. I don’t think I’d seen John in an arena to that point, and I remember thinking, ‘Boy, he’s not having too much trouble filling up this space.’”

In honor of Mellencamp’s August 4 date at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the final show of a tour that has made a number of Indiana stops already, we compiled a scattered, highly unscientific, and 100 percent debatable list of Mellencamp’s best Hoosier concerts over the past four decades. As you might suspect, the list is culled from minutes and memories, so if yours are different (and they probably are), drop us a line. Here are our choices, presented in chronological order because we can’t really rank them. Well, except for maybe that one.

Read the full list over at Indianapolis Monthly.

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My Son Tends to Vanish Into the Wilderness a Lot (via The Mid)

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JUST KEEP GOING, IT’S NOT LIKE THERE ARE BEARS AROUND HERE OR ANYTHING.

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The Mid — The thing about losing your child in an unfamiliar state park is how it hones your senses. Everything else falls away—everything. The scenery, the green, the humming of the birds, the voices of the other hikers. It all collapses, slips off black edges in your peripheral vision, so your mind and your instincts can focus on one thought, just one crucial thought: When I find him, I am going to kill him. 

I mean, we didn’t lose him lose him, in the sense that he was gone for days, or even hours. It was maybe 40 minutes, tops, although it’s hard to tell because time stands still when you’re tromping through riverbeds and into small valleys and over fallen logs muttering a near-constant torrent of curse words. There were four of us: me, my wife, our effervescent and adventurous 11-year-old and his much wobblier, less calibrated 3-year-old brother. If you’ve ever gone hiking, or walked on a beach, or in a parking lot, or in your house, you know it’s not easy to keep a party of children together, especially one of varying ages. So we came to a spot that required some climbing, and the 11-year-old went first, leaving the three of us behind. And apparently this is where there was some miscommunication: Where we said, “Wait for us at the top,” he heard, “Please wander off alone into the forest, and if you could take the bag with the water bottles, that’d be great.”

(We find him over on The Mid.)

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The Most Expensive Dog Wedding Ever Still Smells Pretty Much Like Kibbles

“You call that modern formalwear, Alfie? Get in your bed! GET!”

GateHouse — The dog we had when I was growing up was an adorable, slobbery wet mop named Cutty, a wonderful companion known mostly for her thick black fur, dragon breath and abysmal bladder control. (Seriously, best dog ever, but if you’d brought one of those hotel room black lights to our downstairs carpet, you would have seen nothing but a minefield of long-dried puddles. If I’d had girls over, it would have been a problem. It was not usually a problem.)

There was a lot to like about Cutty: She could smile on command, which might have actually been angry teeth-baring but whatever it was adorable, she could catch mice (which came in handy when you live in a 400-year-old house in rural Indiana) and she could consume an entire box of 12 chocolate Santas in one sitting, which, incidentally, is not something you want to have happen in a house with light carpeting, if you catch my gloppy drift.

But Cutty, being a dog, did not live a fancy lifestyle. She had one possession in the world, one, not counting the throw pillow in the living room she would occasionally make love to. (I know what you’re thinking, and yes, the guests were regularly notified, and we had Lysol or whatever.) And that possession was a red rubbery ball that she got seriously growly about if you tried to touch it. OH wait, she also had a red and white dogsweater my Mom made her wear at Christmastime, and every time you put it on her she would give you this look like, “Oh I see that you are trying to get me to run away from home?” So, OK, three possessions. But never, at any point in her 16 years, did she own a $6,000 custom wedding dress.

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Deep-fried fair-food cereal: Can it be worse than regular Trix?

Pictured: Step 5 of the P90X program cycle.

GateHouse — I am not a big eater of fair food, which you can probably tell, because I am not dead.

I am also not a very big rider of fair rides, which you can also tell, for the same reason. There was an annual fair that came through my Indiana hometown every year — it had to, because it was an annual fair, and if carnies are known for anything it’s their strict adherence to contractual obligations — and I would go every year, because it was either that or play fantasy baseball with my friends. And here is this only time this sentence will ever be written anywhere on Earth: The county fair was the much stronger option for possibly meeting girls. (It was also a much better option for eating funnel cakes, which was the far more likely outcome.)

This happened when I was in my teens, in the mid-1930s according to my hair and posture, back when my unformed adolescent body could do things like consume three consecutive funnel cakes without collapsing into a heap of convulsive stomach-clutching. (By contrast, if I eat one whole glazed donut now I must run four miles to destroy the attendant calories, which is hard, as I don’t really have the two hours to spare.)

And it is a DARNED or possible GOLDANGED good thing, too, because if I were a teen hitting up the Lake County Fair now I would have all manner of newfangled (and newdanged!) fair foods to consume while not meeting any girls. (Can I tell you that I have never understood the idea of fair foods anyway, and not just because of my aversion to throwing up into a Crazy Ball game, but because I cannot fathom why, when you’re going to be hitting 8 Gs in a rattletrap spinny contraption that was built in 1956 and contains most of its original rivets, you definitely want your waist parts jammed full of unregulated dough prepared by undocumented gypsies. God the kids are going to LOVE going to the fair with Fun Dad in a few years.)

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On your stupid bracket, Flagrant Foul 7s and THE DOMINANT INDIANA HOOSIERS

GateHouse — A few things about the NCAA tournament, which this year is being attended (and handled nicely, thankyouverymuch) by my Indiana Hoosiers, who have finally returned to the dance following a lengthy recruiting scandal in which the school hired a coach who was previously involved in a recruiting scandal and then came to Indiana and engaged in — this was weird — a recruiting scandal, a development which caused everybody in Indiana to gasp.

When this recruiting scandal happened Indiana — which, interesting story, had spent most of the previous few decades being coached by an overweight cartoon character with a spotty history of winning championships and not-choking people — lost everyone who ever played for them and spent many many years losing basketball games to schools that exist only online, such as the University of Phoenix and some people who met on FarmVille . So this is kind of a big deal, and please excuse my singing of the IU fight song, which is actually a new song, as we lost our original one in a recruiting scandal.

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1. Hey, guys! Guys in the office! Listen, I’m gonna be sitting at my desk this morning, just hanging around doing some work and drinkin’ me some coffee, so is there any way you could hit me up with some talk about how your bracket is doing? Really doing? I don’t mean just stats and wins and losses — those are boring and bourgeois NUMBERS, devoid of LIFE and FEELING and FEELINGS OF SELF-ASSIGNED SUPERIORITY. No no, I want to know how you did it, how you picked nearly 2/3 of your games right, what you were *thinking* EACH TIME.

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Doctors discourage boxing for kids, according to the September issue of Are You Effing Kidding Me With This

It would be easier to make fun of kids' boxing if this picture WAS NOT SO ADORABLE

GateHouse — Well, the chances are pretty good that if you’re the type of person who is moved to reflection by the headline “Pediatricians put the kibosh on boxing for kids,” you are already PRETTY WELL IMMERSED in the world of boxing for kids.

This is the sort of headline that only a country where half of the Major Presidential Candidates are still wobbly on this confusing “science” situation would require, the sort of news that’s news only if your daily planner includes the words “Nancy Grace” in pink bubble lettering, yet here we are: Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Canadian counterpart, Rush, issued a joint report that came out against the sport of boxing for children and adolescents. Reasons included: a high risk of injury, potential for possible concussions and Listening To The Instincts Burned Deep Within The DNA Of Every Human Alive Over Millions Of Years Of Evolution.

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Here’s to you, Jimmy: A salute to Buffett’s enduring appeal

Indianapolis Star — For many years my mom hung a framed towel that Jimmy Buffett threw at her in her living room.

This is actually not that big of a deal. Jimmy Buffett has also signed autographs for my mom, indirectly fulfilled a song request for my cousin, joked with us backstage at “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” about the showers at Deer Creek (“You should see the Port-A-Potties,” my brother shot back, brilliantly) and graciously played for us more than 30 times. (The towel, incidentally, was thrown at us in a 1998 Detroit concert and actually caught by said brother, who basically Spider-Manned himself across three seats to make sure he caught it, lest we suffer the indignity of going home without a towel full of Coral Reefer sweat.)

It goes on like this, the stories and memories and inside jokes about a man whose arguably biggest hit, “Margaritaville,” was released 34 years ago. If I have to choose, if there’s only time and budget for one trip home a year, I will without hesitation pick the Buffett show over relative silliness like “Christmas” or “Thanksgiving.” I know it, my family knows it, and everyone is extremely cool with this arrangement.

Click here for the article at the Indianapolis Star.

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Choc-Ola returns, and not a moment too soon

GateHouse — When you see the phrase “Indiana entrepreneurs re-launch” at the beginning of a sentence and you are from Indiana, a few thoughts rocket immediately through the parts of your brain not dedicated to inventing increasingly desperate excuses for why IU hasn’t won a championship since ’87:

  • “Mellencamp’s giant robot will soon rise!”
  • “There must have been tremendous increases in the production of rickety hoops which can be attached to barns.”
  • “Whatever it is, Peyton Manning is shooting a commercial for it in the morning.”
  • “Automated Mitch Daniels-hitting device”

Ha! I kid Indiana because I love Indiana, except its stupid approach to time zones, which is such that when my cousin asked me last week what time it was in my current location I CACKLED WITH GLEE FOR TEN MINUTES because that’s literally the first time the question has swung that way in 35 years. I’m still cackling. I think I’ll take a small cackle break right now. Ha HO! Oh, it feels so good to laugh when you’ve spent 12 years calling people at incorrect times for interviews, such as that one time I woke up “Weird Al” Yankovic’s baby. Still feel bad about that.

But though I love Indiana as a state, frankly many of their exports have left something to be desired, and yes, I’m looking at you, Babyface. You and Choc-Ola, an old chocolate-based beverage that’s being relaunched by two Indianapolis-based entrepreneurs, Dan Iaria and Joe Wolfla, the latter of whom said “It’s the greatest-tasting chocolate milk you’ve ever had.” The GREATEST-TASTING. Brave words, Wolfla; rare is the man who messes with Hershey and survives.

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Carolina Chocolate Drops – Knockin’

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