Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How to Be A Server

Waiting tables is tough work, no question. It can be a drag or it can be great. I have waited a few tables in my day and I got this from the New York Times Small Business section (what the heck am I doing reading the Times?)
Here are fifty things you can do to be a better server and I tip accordingly.

1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.
2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.
3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.
4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.
5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.
6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.
7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.
8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.
9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.
10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.
11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.
12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.
13. Handle wine glasses by their stems and silverware by the handles.
14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.
15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”
16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves.
17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.
18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”
19. Offer guests butter and/or olive oil with their bread.
20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another.
21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.
22. If someone is unsure about a wine choice, help him. That might mean sending someone else to the table or offering a taste or two.
23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.
24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.
25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.
26. Never assume people want their white wine in an ice bucket. Inquire.
27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.
28. Do not put your hands all over the spout of a wine bottle while removing the cork.
29. Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.
30. Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring. No one wants to drink the dust or dirt from the bottle.
31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.
32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.
33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.
34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.
35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.
36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage.
37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.
38.Do not call a guy a “dude.”
39. Do not call a woman “lady.”
40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.
41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.
42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.
43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.
44. Do not discuss your own eating habits, be you vegan or lactose intolerant or diabetic.
45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.
46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.
47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.
48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.
49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.
50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

R I P Norton Buffalo

21:11 PST PARADISE (BUTTE COUNTY) -- Norton Buffalo, harmonica virtuoso, one-of-a-kind performer and consummate accompanist to the stars,died Friday night from cancer in Feather River Hospital, near his home in Paradise (Butte County). He was 58. Mr. Buffalo, who appeared on more than 180 albums and spent 33 years as a member of the Steve Miller Band, was diagnosed with cancer in September. His life will be celebrated Jan. 23 at the Fox Theater in Oakland in a benefit concert starring the Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers,with special guests Huey Lewis, George Thorogood, Charlie Musselwhite and Bonnie Raitt. "He was the antithesis of East Coast cynical," said Raitt, who spent Sunday morning watching Buffalo videos on YouTube. "He was always in funny mode without being too gooey about it. He's been that guy all this time. In one guy, you got all the hope and optimism of the '70s." Mr. Buffalo played on the Grammy-winning Doobie Brothers album "Minute byMinute," and the recent children's music CD by Kenny Loggins. With Bette Midler, he played in the band and acted in the film "The Rose." He collaborated on tours and a series of recordings for more than 20 yearswith blues guitarist Roy Rogers. One of their songs, "Ain't No Bread inthe Breadbox," was a cornerstone in the '90s live repertoire of the JerryGarcia Band. "Norton Buffalo was a character and a half," Rogers said. "He had a sense of humor. He liked to have a good time, and the joy of his playing came out." Miller said: "He was a complete original. He worked with all kinds of people. He did tons and tons of projects. Everybody who worked with himl oved him, really enjoyed working with him." Mr. Buffalo joined the Steve Miller Band in 1976 at the beginning of the"Fly Like an Eagle" tour and has remained a constant presence in Miller's music ever since. Miller invariably introduced Mr. Buffalo to concert audiences as "my partner in harmony." "He had way more music in him than I could use," Miller said. "I just had more work for him than everybody else." Mr. Buffalo's own recordings include his 1977 Capitol Records release,"Lovin' in the Valley of the Moon," an album that maintains a strong cult following, and a 2000 blues-based release, "King of the Highway." Herecently released a joint CD with Hawaiian slack key guitarist George Kahumoku Jr. He was a virtuosic and technically accomplished chromatic harmonica player who could play anything - blues, rock, pop, country,folk, show tunes. Born in Oakland and raised in Richmond, Mr. Buffalo was raised in a musical family. His father played harmonica, and his mother sang in '40s San Francisco night clubs. His great-uncle, Herbert Stothart, was a Hollywood soundtrack composer who won an Academy Award for his work on"The Wizard of Oz." "His harp could become the valley of the moon, Krakatoa, a storm out at sea, then the sweetest sound this side of heaven," said Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, who played with Mr. Buffalo in a project called High Noon in the '70s and '80s. Mr. Buffalo joined one of the final editions of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen on a 1976 European tour, before returning to the Bay Area and forming the Norton Buffalo Stampede, a band that headlined Bay Area clubs for several years. In between tours with Miller and Rogers, Mr.Buffalo had been appearing recently with the Norton Buffalo Trio with his third wife, Lisa Flores. He is survived by his wife; children, Aisah of Lake Tahoe and Elias of Sonoma; stepchildren, Sierra Ruelas of Sonoma and Bo Winterburn of San Diego; father, Ken Jackson of Paradise; and five brothers and sisters. Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, Tom Rigney and Flambeau and theCarlos Reyes Band will appear Nov. 22 in a benefit and memorial at theParadise Performing Arts Center in Paradise. Funeral and other memorial plans are pending.

Norton's "Loving in the Valley of the Moon" was one of my faves. the song "Another Day from that LP is still in my top ten of all time. here is that video (quality notwithstanding). such a sweet song....

Monday, November 02, 2009

Of Football and Baseball...Basketball and music

As someone said..."it was as if your ex girlfriend showed up at the 25th year reunion with George Clooney." Brett Favre may be the greatest football player I have ever seen in person. That goes for Montana, Marcus Allen, John Elway, etc, all of whom I have seen live. I saw Brett play the Chiefs in the mid nineties and while the Chiefs beat them, Green Bay was never out of the game. He decides he doesn't want to play there anymore, spurns them and then puts the dagger in the heart of all Packer fans everywhere. While I thought Green Bay would show all why they are special fans, they dragged themselves down with the unbelievably hostile greeting. Stay classy Green Bay and while you do have a pretty decent guy as quarterback, no one will ever replacate the swagger and gunslinger attitude that Favre did in your city for so many years. The NFC title will go through New Orleans this year, but a Minnesaot with Favre and New Orleans with Brees championship game would be ideal. Might even make me a fan again. I won't ever jump off the Chiefs bandwagon, but it's "Tough Times in the Land of Plenty" as Larry Johnson continues to make an asss of himself. He needs Priest Holmes or Christian Okoye to punch him in the mouth.


Throw the slider, Brad...I kept repeating this mantra all ninth inning while Lidge kept throwing fastball after fastball. I have NO dog in this hunt, but I would hate to see a cheater like ARoid win his first series. I can not stand the Yankees and I am rooting for the Phillies to make a come back of epic proportions. By the body language of the Phils and their continued boneheaded plays that anit gonna happen. "Who's on third, no he's on first, I don't know is on third." Jimmy Rollins is the infield captain and no one thought it might have been at least a good idea to slow down, have a meeting on the mound and make sure this was covered. What to do if this happens? How about this? Gah. That was a tught way to lose a game. And the series. Not being prepared and not enough communication. That will derail most plans. Is it college basketball weather yet?


So Mizzou is picked to finish seventh in the Big 12? People must know more than I do, because I still think they have a decent team, even with everyone graduating. I am too much of a homer. KU is picked to win the whole thing come March. I love this time of year. I will actually make an attempt to go see SLU more, maybe they will be a sleeper, because the Rick Majerus era has yet to live up to expectations. The Hawkeyes? Who knows?


Leonard Cohen comes to the Fox on saturday night. Since my finances are in a bit better shape, I'm going. I know very little about his music (thanks, Brad for the best of CDs) but recognize "Suzanne" and "Hallelujah". He is in the rock and roll hall of fame and I have a buddy coming in from KC who loves him. He's in his 70s now and probably won't be doing this much longer, so I will go. So far, his music sounds like a New York version of the singer/songwriter type. I get a number of influences from his music and enjoy it very much. Apparently, his manager stole millions from him and this is the only way he can recover some of that money is by going out on tour. In my seventies, I hopw I'm yelling at the kids to get out of my yard. At the Fox, this show should be very sweet.
Basketball and weigh in tonight at the Y. Can I lose 15 pounds before January 1? We'll find out.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Springsteen and Baseball and Music

Last Sunday night might have been the night that made me rethink something I said a couple of years ago. "There are very few things that bring me the feeling of awe." I may be paraphrasing myself but it was something along those lines. When I was a kid, it seemed everything was new and awesome, so to speak. A great rainbow can still do it (I have no idea why) but other than that, not much. Last Sunday night Esther and I got into the car at 4:50 and headed downtown to one of our favorite restaurants, the Key West in Union Station. We had an order of chicken wings, many top shelf margaritas and got ourselves ready for the guy who defines and sings about my life more than anyone at this time, Bruce Springsteen. I am so incredibly lucky to live in a city that allows me the opportunity to go downtown at 2pm and get newly released production seats which were literally 50 feet from the stage. I don't think my friends in the Quad Cities are allowed that luxury. After the appetizer at Key West, on with the show. At 8:15, the band comes out and continually hits me on the head with a sledgehammer. I am in tears early and often. From the opening "Wrecking Ball" to "Rosalita", he has me in the palm of his hands. Incredibly playful, during "Hungry Heart", he body surfs the audience from halfway back in the arena to the front. "Surprise Surprise" was a great birthday present to a fifteen year old fan who he doted over the entire show. She'll be a die hard till death. The sign collection brought an open-ended request for Bruce to play piano — "An elegantly made sign... somebody went to the stationary store and did themselves proud!" — and he obliged with a solo rendition of "For You" that was stunning. We got lucky to have "Born to Run" done in its entirety. "Roll Over Beethoven" was his tribute to Chuck Berry, "After all, it is St. Louis". Nothing from "Magic" and only two from the new album. Awe inspiring, like him and his band, THE greatest American rock and roll band EVER!! Here's the set list: Wrecking Ball, Seeds, Prove It All Night, Hungry Heart, Working on a Dream, (Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freeze out, Night, Backstreets, Born to Run, She's the One, Meeting Across the River, Jungleland) Waitin' on a Sunny Day, Working on the Highway, The Promised Land, Lonesome Day, The Rising, Badlands' No Surrender *For You (solo piano) Roll Over Beethoven, Surprise, Surprise, Detroit Medley American Land, Dancing in the Dark, Rosalita. AWE inspiring american rock and roll.
Baseball has become a wussified sport. While the NFL has gotten tougher and the NBA seems to encourage toughness, baseball is truning into a wussifed shell of it's former self. Case in point...the constant preening and admiration of home runs from the batters box. Last night Nick Swisher (who?) of the Yankees got his first psotseason home run and preened. Watched it go but there is no bigger offender than Alex Rodriguez. Hit it, watch it, admire it, preen. I only wish there was someone with Bob Gibson or Nolan Ryan's testicular make up playing today. I swear they would put an end to this. The next time someone stands and admires it, either one of these guys would hit the next five batters along with the guy in the on deck circle and dare you to charge the mound. Wussies, all of them. What the hell has happened to the quality of umpires? Why should you need replay if you watch the friggin' ball at all times. It's easy. Fair or foul? In or out? You have eyes, use them. I cut them slack for the bang bang plays decided by .0001 of a second, but it's either in or out. Call it. I still stand by my earlier prediction...Phillies in 7.
I must take off twenty pounds and do it now. Follow me on my journey. I will weigh myself at the Y tomorrow night and then again on December 31. I hope to be down at least fifteen. We shall see. It's all about more calories going out than coming in. Are two a days in my near future?

With that in mind, I hit the pavement with the grand dog and did about 70 minutes. Here's what I had to listen to...
"The Grind"-Tommy Bolin
"Last of the Singing Cowboys"-Marshall Tucker Band
"Lady Elenor"-Landisfarne
"Heartbeat City"-The Cars
"Good Time Living"-3 Dog Night
"In My World"-Moody Blues
"Masters of War" (even jesus would never forgive you for what you do)-Bob Dylan
"Live and Let Die"-Wings
"Independence Day"-Bruce Springsteen
"She's Gone"-Hall and Oates
"Rainfall"-Shooting Star
"The Crunge"-Led Zeppelin
"Midnight Madness" Foghat

What a gorgeous day, one filled with awe and hope.

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