Want some light beach reading that'll keep you laughing? Buy an autographed copy of my book, "My Wife & Times." A mere $15, postpaid.

Mad about Dessert

I'm mad about dessert. Mad as in angry. I had the worst dessert I've ever had last night and I woke up mad about it. There's no excuse for bad dessert. None. It's a waste of calories, time, anticipation, ingredients and most of all taste. A waste of taste, that's it.

Before I continue to rant I'll preface this by saying that "yes, I'm lucky to have food." I know it. There are many people starving in this world, people who wouldn't complain about a bad dessert. For them I donate to www.secondharvest.org .

I was just reminded what hunger is because I had to fast all day Wednesday and ate almost nothing Thursday. Not by choice. I am not one of those people who thinks fasting is good for the soul (though it is possibly good for the colon) but I was having a colonoscopy and had to fast. Fasting for just a day made it one of the slowest days on record. All I could think about was food. And one of the major food groups I was thinking about was dessert. Then I go and get a bad one.

It's pretty hard to mess up dessert. At the very least it just needs to be sweet, unless it's a cheese course, and then it just has to be not too moldy. Easy. I am so easy about dessert I consider Jell-O acceptable. Not optimal, mind you, as it doesn't come in chocolate, but not bad.

I'm not a snob, either, I don't snub supermarket cakes, or even Twinkies (surprisingly good). If you can't make dessert, just buy it, drop it on a plate and give me a fork.

You have to go pretty far to serve a bad dessert. I've had a few, like when someone who shall remain nameless forgot to put sugar in the lemon pie so they ended up with pucker pie. Still, it had its appeal in very small doses. Or there are those cookies that look like pink and white plastic animals covered with colored ball bearings. But I don't count those as dessert and I'm not even sure they qualify as food. I once threw some outside on my deck for the animals and they went uneaten. The only things that go uneaten on my deck are in the rock, metal, and plastic families, so I now believe those cookies belong in the inorganic category.

But when you are at a restaurant you don't expect a dessert that tastes like a dentifrice. Of course, the entire meal was a mess. It started with packaged salad so hard and tasteless as to make me believe it would be tastier to eat the package. Then came the pasta course which seemed more like an exercise in extruded Play-Doh and ketchup.

The main course was somewhat more edible, as it involved the virtually indestructible potato, some resilient chicken, along with some vegetables that just seemed sad.

Then came the sorry excuse for dessert. It consisted of one small scoop of icy ice "cream" (it was bad, and there wasn't enough of it!), topped with one of those cookies that look like the sole of a shoe (in fact, the guy who started Nike used a waffle maker to make his first shoes, and this restaurant might have used the same one since it had a kind of polyurethane taste to it).

The ice cream had no flavor other than "cold" (which, come to think of it, isn't really a flavor). I guessed it was supposed to be vanilla, since it was whitish but it would require a lot of imagination to taste anything other than cold, except perhaps "greasy."

Then there was the so-called chocolate sauce. I couldn't taste it, but I could see a little brown, certainly no more than a teaspoon, tops—so little it seemed like a mistake, "What happened to this cold white stuff and why is there kind of a darkish trail running down it..." that kind of thing.

But the piece de resistance was the shoe-sole cookie. The cookie tasted like toothpaste. Not mint, which would have been tasty, but a no-doubt-about-it-Colgate quality that was frankly repulsive in a cookie, especially one that followed a greasy plasticy cold white ball.

To be fair, this was a "banquet" (or what passes for the word "banquet" these days, meaning it was a dinner for a bunch of people forced to choose between chicken, fish or pasta, guaranteeing that no one really gets what they want, which is just as well because no one really wants what they get).

I know it's tricky to have to serve 30 people at once, but this wasn't a huge affair, it wasn't 300 or 3,000 meals at once. I've been to some events like that and the food can still be good.

This was just lazy, crappy cooking. And I don't get it, because they could have gone down the street to Costco, bought a bunch of frozen entrees, shoved them in the oven and the results would have been better than what appeared on the plates (and cost less, too).

The final indignity was the price of $30 per person. I can get good food for $30, and a lot of it! And I don't have to sit through a lot of speeches and awards, either, which by itself is worth $30. I could have gotten better food for $5 and donated the rest to www.SecondHarvest.org !

When I got to the car I found some dark chocolate in the glove compartment (in case of emergency, like this one, or being trapped in the desert without dessert), and I let it dissolve in my mouth, washing away the toothpaste taste of the shoe sole cookie and delivering a dose of endorphins necessary to overcome this nerve shattering experience.

I've learned my lesson. Next year either I have to plan this event, or pretend to have temporary amnesia that causes me to forget the date.


Read about my latest movie role (you read that right), here!

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The best graphics program. Period.

I've tried countless graphics programs, including the big ones from Adobe (and they're great), but by far the best graphics program I've ever seen, and the one I use daily is XaraXtreme www.xara.com

It's the fastest, more efficient graphics program (and I think the easiest, too) and what you see is exactly what you'll get in your final graphics. I use it for all my work, including these web sites: http://www.will-harris.com/web-dez.htm

Xara invented real-time anti-aliasing so what you see on-screen is exactly what you get in your GIFs and JPGs, live transparency that lets you blend and see through any object, great bitmap handling (easy color correction), and has web-specific features like image slicing and rollover buttons. The realistic shadow tool is amazing. You can export to all major file formats, including Flash .SWF format.

Xara costs as little as $79, a new open source Linux version is free, and a Mac version is coming soon. You can download a trial version for free at http://www.xara.com/downloads/xtreme/

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Cell phone text messages are like instant messaging or e-mail for your phone. Yet you may not know you can use your normal e-mail to send a message to a mobile phone. The trick is to know the carrier of the phone you want to send a message to. Once know that, here are the addresses you need to send an SMS TXT message to a cell phone.

  • Verizon: 10digitphonenumber@vtext.com
  • Former AT&T customers (poor things): 10digitphonenumber@mmode.com
  • Sprint: 10digitphonenumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com
  • T-Mobile: 10digitphonenumber@tmomail.net
  • Nextel: 10digitphonenumber@messaging.nextel.com
  • Cingular: 10digitphonenumber@cingularme.com
  • Virgin Mobile: 10digitphonenumber@vmobl.com
  • Alltel: 10digitphonenumber@alltelmessage.com OR
  • 10digitphonenumber@message.alltel.com
  • CellularOne: 10digitphonenumber@mobile .celloneusa.com
  • Omnipoint: 10digitphonenumber@omnipointpcs.com
  • Qwest: 10digitphonenumber@qwestmp.com

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http://www.thehcf.org/challenge.html will donate $100 in your name to a carbon offset organization to help reduce global warming. All you have to do is read six web pages. That's all. That's worth $100!

If you want to help global warming direct, try http://www.terrapass.com which "offsets your carbon footprint" by investing in renewable energy.

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http://www.heifer.org/ You can change lives and bring hope and possibility to the people who need it most by giving the gift of an animal to a needy family. Heifer has helped more than five million families become self-reliant. Gifts start at $20 for chicks. It's a great gift for the person who has everything, for the person who doesn't. http://www.heifer.org/ or call them at 1-800-422-0474.

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One Final Word

While the best cookies are generally the ones you make yourself (you should taste my spicy ginger cookies), there are some really good packaged ones. I particularly like Beth's Heavenly Cookies http://www.beths.com/cookies.htm - truly delicious little cookies--and she supports Habitat for Humanity http://www.habitat.org .

And if you're in the mood for Oreo's, skip them and their bad trans fats, and instead buy Newman's Own At all costs, avoid "Golden Oreo Originals" which look as if they'd be good vanilla cookies with chocolate cream but really end up tasting oddly like asphalt and still contain those awful trans-fats. Besides, Paul Newman's Own




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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2006, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.