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Don’t Hide the Pickle!

January 10, 2012
Don’t Hide the Pickle!

I’ve decided that pickles are going to be the next big thing. The next “bacon” if you will. Why not? Bacon’s had a very nice run and still tastes yummy, but why not pickles now?

Pickles are more complex in flavor and take a more mature palette than bacon. Also, they’re a little friendlier to the heart and its network of arteries and vessels. My daughter, Cali, thinks they are just the coolest thing ever… although she won’t eat them… yet. But I think pickles are about to really break through the way bacon did a few years back. In fact, I’m pretty sure you can do just about as much with a pickle as you can with bacon. Maybe more.

Plus, 5,200,000 pounds of pickles are eaten in the U.S. every year. That’s nine pounds per person! Top that bacon! Okay, I’m sure bacon can top that, but bacon’s heavier to begin with.



Here are some of the great things about pickles:

  • Pickle juice cures muscle cramps. And you can have it on hand for all your sports events.
  • Pickles may prevent scurvy. Now that will come in handy.
  • You can make milkshakes with pickles.
  • Pickles are green.
  • You can fry pickles. Have you ever tried pickle chips?
  • Shakespeare favored the pickle and used the word as a metaphor:
    • Oh, Hamlet, how camest thou in such a pickle? (Act 5, Scene 1)
    • Tis a gentle man here a plague o’ these pickle-herring! How now, sot! (Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 5)
    • What say you? Hence, Horrible villain! or I’ll spurn thine eyes like balls before me; I’ll unhair thy head; Thou shalt be whipp’d with wire and stew’d in brine, Smarting in lingering pickle. (Anthony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 5)
  • Pickles are nonexclusive. They make themselves available to all religious communities unlike bacon (mainly because pickles don’t have hooves).
  • Pickles are phallic.
  • Come to think of it, you can pickle bacon. Why you would want to, I don’t know, but you can. I’m pretty sure you can’t bacon pickles.

Ultimately, the word pickle is funnier than the word bacon. Yes, they are both funny words according to the theory that words with the k sound are funnier than other words, but pickle ranks even higher on the funny scale because of the “ick” sound. Let’s face it, “ick” is funnier than “ake.” Right? Just saying the word pickle should bring a smile to your face. And I know from my comedy writing work, pickle is a go to word. When all else is failing for a comedian, the three go tos are sex, cussing, and the word pickle (which is double down on the sex go to).

So join me as I make this the year of the pickle. It’s time has come.

*This post was in no way intended to harm the bacon industry. I love bacon.

CKM sings “Spaghetti”

November 21, 2011

Courtney Kay Meyers, CKM as she calls herself, is endearing, entertaining, hilarious, and most importantly, an all around amazing person. The volunteer at the soup kitchen she frequents compares her to Carol Burnett. She is her mother’s 3rd favorite comedian of all time.

Chicken Cottage Mac

June 20, 2011
Chicken Cottage Mac

This is the chicken cottage mac

Sometimes good things come from the combination of  a few mediocre things.  Conceiving this meal was one of those times.  The Chicken Cottage Mac consist of 1/2 can chicken (water drained), 1/4 cup cottage cheese, and 3 slices wheat toast.  I seasoned this tower of protein and carbs with basil and black pepper packets.

I added the seasonings and cottage cheese to the 1/2 can chicken left-overs in my fridge and just mixed it all up right there in the can.  It was a message to dishes, “I will not be a slave to you”, take that, dishes! At the same time toast was happening.  3 slices of it.  Once can mixing meets toast stacked like a BigMac without the colorful stuff. beef, or hate, you’re ready for a filling meal you may or may not want to get to eat again (tastes best when eaten with a smile). :)
Courtney Kay Meyers, CKM as she calls herself, is endearing, entertaining, hilarious, and most importantly, an all around amazing person. The volunteer at the soup kitchen she frequents compares her to Carol Burnett. She is her mother’s 3rd favorite comedian of all time.

What’s on Your Dinner Plate?

June 3, 2011
What’s on Your Dinner Plate?

The Food Guide Pyramid is out. After spending two million dollars in tax payer money, the government (The USDA specifically) has gotten rid of the pyramid and created a pie chart (actually a dinner plate of some sort). Irony aside about the new symbol being a “pie” chart, is the whole “instructions on eating” really needed by the government? If ever there were something that could be handled by the private sector, it’s how to eat healthy. Face it, everybody has written a book on how and what to eat. Even I’ve done it.

SHAMELESS PLUG: The Starving Artist’s Diet by Jack Lugar

When I was in elementary school, I was taught about the four food groups. It was simply meats, grains, fruits & vegetables, and dairy. It was pretty straight forward, and from what I know, it never killed anyone… At least not directly (excluding allergies) and not without many years of over indulgence.

But apparently somewhere around 1992, someone in the USDA was bored or needed to spend budgeted money and decided to create a pyramid. Heck, it worked for the Egyptians. So, the simple food chart was modified. I was out of school when they did this, so I didn’t even know anything about the pyramid until I wrote my book.

SHAMELESS PLUG: The Starving Artist’s Diet by Jack Lugar

In the pyramid, the grains created the base and encouraged everyone to carb load. The next part of the pyramid consisted of the fruits & vegetables, but for some reason they had to be separated. I’m guessing some people (kids especially) were only focusing on the fruit and not the veggies, so the FDA wanted to make it clear that we needed some of each.

On top of the pyramid were three sections: one for dairy, one for meat (or protein type foods), and one for all the fats, oils, and sweets. Apparently the pyramid was a bit counter intuitive because the things you needed least were at the top and the things you needed more of were at the bottom. Pyramids are so confusing… Right, Mr. Madoff?

So, as of June 2, 2011, the Food Guide Pyramid is no more. Now the USDA will give us guidance with a Dinner Plate. I’m sure this will change everything (sarcasm).

Let’s face it, Americans know what to eat. We know what is good for us and bad for us. We know that sugary sodas are bad and water is good. We know that chicken or fish is better than a fatty slab of beef. We know that broccoli is better for us than potato chips. But, guess what? We don’t care. It’s as simple as that. If Americans wanted to eat healthier and stay fit, they would. In fact there are millions out there doing it.

If the government really wanted help the American people, the USDA would have invested those millions in buying copies of my book to share with the world.

SHAMELESS PLUG: The Starving Artist’s Diet by Jack Lugar

Amy Bleu’s Travelin’ Food

March 26, 2011
Amy Bleu’s Travelin’ Food

As a musician who performs and tours independent of record label support, I have had to learn how to scare up quality meals on a scant budget. For several years I toured as a soloist so it was easy enough to supplement a vending machine snack for an actual meal when I was laid over in a bus stop. But now that I have band mates, I try to remain vigilant about making sure we all get fed. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way:

A great way to save bucks and make sure you get a hot, nutritious meal is to tour places where you know people. If you are visiting friends or family you are usually guaranteed dinner, a place to sleep, and sometimes breakfast. If you’re traveling outside of your social network, you can always use the Internet to hook up with people who regularly host bands, sort of like a rock-and-roll bed-and-breakfast. If you’re staying at a cheap motel you can always load up on the continental breakfast and complimentary coffee before you hit the road again.

Some of the venues we play at offer free meals. If we’re going to be at a venue that offers meals we can stomach (my bass player/husband and I are vegans), we’ll eat something cheap and small while we’re en route, then eat a big free meal once we get to the venue or while on a break from our set. If you can’t secure a free meal as part of the guarantee, you can still usually count on free drinks. This helps if you are a beer enthusiast like me and my band mates. You can indulge in free aperitifs and then spend your drinking allowance on food.

If you are a vegan struggling to maintain your diet while your band struggles to make money on the road, you’ve got two strikes against you. But both things can be done and they are not mutually exclusive. If you can keep in mind a list of easy-to-locate staples, you’ll eat every day, in every town, in ways that don’t hurt your bank account or animals. Here are some of my staples:

- Bagels with hummus or margarine
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- Mexican food without cheese or sour cream (but make sure the beans aren’t cooked in lard)
- Italian food without cheese (e.g. spaghetti with marinara sauce)
- Veggie subs at sandwich shops

If you have a little more than five bucks to spend on your individual plate, you can always head to an Indian or Thai restaurant (but be advised: restaurants in small Northwestern towns claiming to serve “authentic” Thai don’t always serve food that tastes authentic or healthy). It’s a good idea to ask a local, perhaps someone at the venue you’ll be performing at, where one might find something cheap and appetizing.

If you are a vegan band touring a remote area and can only find one restaurant that specializes in traditional American diner fare, you still have options. If they serve burgers but not Garden burgers, you can still probably get the staff to make you a veggie sandwich on bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and mustard. If not, you can always order fries and a salad with a non-dairy dressing as a last resort. If they serve breakfast, you can usually get hash-browns with margarine, toast with jelly, oatmeal without milk, and a bowl of fruit.

Vegan, vegetarian and meat-eater bands alike can agree that sustenance is important for maintaining your energy on stage and on the road. There are several books that were written by independent musicians who wanted to ensure that people like them can find healthy food on the road. If you can find a good guide book, this could be a big help, or compile your own list by doing research on the Internet. There are many sites designed for people with dietary restrictions to find restaurants where they can eat in cities they plan to visit. There are also web resources for travelers on a budget looking to plan their meals beyond the perfunctory stop at McDonald’s. You can also find forums for travelers and/or bands who want to exchange tips, and, through the miracle of social networking sites, you can send out a mass message to let all of your friends and acquaintances know that you are in need of some ideas.

Experience has shown me that by making sure you have the right people around you – supportive band mates, hospitable friends and family, kind venue owners and staff, and like-minded bands to share shows with – you won’t go hungry. At least, not for too long.

You can find Amy Bleu at:


March 16, 2011

5 ingredients in the food version of purgatory called left-over-land came together to form 1 great dish.  This dish starts with chicken.

As a rule, if meat makes its way into my grocery cart it’s first been labeled with a bright yellow sticker that reads MANAGERS SPECIAL. This weeks mystery meat was chicken breast tenderloins, 3lbs for $4.27, SOLD!  I cooked all three pounds in a skillet first used to soften half an onion.  This dish was the third and final meal yielded from the bird, so it was time to spice it up.

I chopped the chicken fingers without their batter, then tossed them in a medium high olive oil coated skillet with what was left of their onion friends to let them get a fresh caramel crust.

Once they looked delicious, I threw in half a chopped tomato on its last leg and the tail end of a bag of spinach ready to turn. For flavor, sprinkle in your desired amount of black pepper and just a little salt. put a lid on the pan, turn off the heat, give it a shake, and wait 3 to 5 minutes until its ready for your bowl.

Top the dish with the heal of a loaf of bread, toasted then chopped. Think of it as crappy crouton if you’d like.  It’s what I had and delightfully delicious.
Courtney Kay Meyers, CKM as she calls herself, is endearing, entertaining, hilarious, and most importantly, an all around amazing person. The volunteer at the soup kitchen she frequents compares her to Carol Burnett.  She is her mother’s 3rd favorite comedian of all time.

I am an Artist

March 7, 2011
I am an Artist

One of the hardest things to admit to myself over the years has been the fact that I am an artist. Why? Fear of rejection? Fear of other “artists” not agreeing with me? A perception that I needed to be corporate? Thinking that my art wasn’t real art? You know… Writing isn’t art. Singing isn’t art. Acting isn’t art. Comedy isn’t art… or the fact that my performances were not art.

I’ve always been a fairly buttoned down person on the exterior while my mind has run rampant with creativity. So I’ve never really felt comfortable in the artist crowd. Nor have I fit in with the more mainstream community either. Of course most of this is my perception. It’s really not about how others see me. It’s about how I see myself.

Recently I was called a Renaissance Man. I found it humorous. I’d never really thought of myself that way, but there may actually be a morsel of truth there. I explored this term a little further because I wanted to know if this description had any veracity. Some of the things I found to describe a Renaissance Man were Polymath, Leonardo DaVinci, Homo Universalis (Latin for “universal man” or “man of the world”), and Jack of all trades. That last one really hits home, and I’m not so sure I like it considering that the common saying is, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

While a Renaissance Man is an expert in many disciplines, the Jack of all trades can be described as extremely capable in many fields but not particularly an expert. Renaissance Man seems to be a kinder label. A label that not only covers the traditional arts, but other areas of skill and knowledge. To me, it seems that the point of a Renaissance Man is to approach every practice as an art. To approach it with energy, passion, and confidence.

Where I’ve failed as a Renaissance Man is that I’ve always held myself back. I’ve been afraid that I might not be as good as I hope. I haven’t trusted my teachers. Again it’s an issue of perception. Just like my self-imposed perception of being inferior when I would speak with a respected artist. I often would feel as though they were talking down to me. I’ve decided that I no longer have to feel inferior. Sure I may not be as knowledgeable about styles of painting or a specific sculptor, but that is not my art. My art is writing and performing, so wouldn’t it make sense for me to be knowledgeable about techniques in these disciplines? And I am. In fact, I have one of the highest ranked websites on sitcom writing according to Google.

Writing The Starving Artist’s Diet opened my eyes. I reached out to so many artists because I felt they could bring an added dimension to the book that I could not have done alone. What I found interesting was that many were eager to participate and contribute. I also found a few who thought they were too good for the book. What I love about this book is that it isn’t pretentious. It let’s us laugh at ourselves and then in a way also encourage ourselves to press on. It’s about survival. It’s about the human condition. Pain without laughter is just pain. But pain with laughter will lead to joy. Artists create because they have to. It is a fulfillment of who they were created to be. It’s hard to be an artist. Most artists are underappreciated. Many are afflicted with emotional distress or came from broken homes and painful childhoods. Their art helps them recover and conquer that which afflicts them. And the artist’s audience helps the artist heal.

I guess one of the reasons I never claimed the moniker of “artist” was that I didn’t want to be judged. But why should I have ever cared? I don’t know why, but I did. I guess that’s just the plight of an artist. Being judged. Ultimately, I want to not care. I want to just be myself, but that is very risky and potentially devastating to the financial bottom line.

I can’t say that I’ll be a different person from this point forward, but I’m going to try and not be afraid of claiming that I’m an artist. It’s true. I am. I write, act, and sing. I’ll let everyone else be the judge of how well I do any of those things. But being an artist is not about talents, skills, clothes, or attitude. It is a state of mind. You are who you are.

Are you an artist? What is your art? Do you treat all your work as a masterpiece? Art is not limited to paintings and sculptures. It’s not limited to dance or music. Art can be whatever you do depending on how you approach it. It’s a mixture of skill, passion, and determination. It’s the thing you do to fulfill who you were created to be.

I am a Renaissance Man. More than a Jack of all trades. I am an artist.

Amy Tan on Creativity

March 7, 2011

Here’s a TED talk by Amy Tan about creativity. What do you think?


February 25, 2011

I am pretty certain the potato is the single most versatile food i have ever had the pleasure of loving. Spuds are filling in the belly and thin on the pocket book and have literally 1000 serving options.


Baked:  After a KO fight with a toothpick, olive oil massage, and sprinkling of salt. Throw that battered potato in the oven for 45 minutes and you’ve got a knock out side dish, every time.

Mashed:  Skins on and cubed. toss those carbohydrate cubes in boiling water until they break apart when poked with a fork, strain, return to the hot pan. Turn the stove off at this point, add butter, milk, and pepper to taste. Then play with the mixer until the perfect chunky creamy starch pot comes to life.


Saute-steamed spuds with spinach and onion:  I use a tall skillet with a lid for this and may start eating it daily. Stove set at mid-hi (just above the 6 on my stove) 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan.  I add the cubed spud first, shaking the pan to keep the little guys from sticking to the bottom. as they start to brown, I add 1 sliced red onion and season with white and black pepper, on goes the lid.  I shake the pot again at this point.  In another few moments, after the onions look appropriately sauteed, I turn the heat down to medium low (4) and add a tablespoon of butter.  Five minutes later the spuds are soft enough to eat so in goes 2 handfuls of chopped spinach and on goes the lid for another 3 minutes.  After a quick stir these bad boys are ready to eat.

You really don’t even need a meat.  I had the yumminess described above with broccoli last night and it about knocked my socks off and I wasn’t even wearing any socks. the kicker of this delicious recipe is that it cost around $3.  That’s a penny pinching good time.

CKM, as she calls herself is endearing, entertaining, hilarious, and most importantly, an all around amazing person. The volunteer at the soup kitchen she frequents compares her to Carol Burnett. She is her mother’s 3rd favorite comedian of all time.

The Starving Artist’s Diet Cereal – Magically Ficticious!

February 1, 2011
The Starving Artist’s Diet Cereal – Magically Ficticious!

I really could have used an Easy Button.

Somewhere in the process of writing The Starving Artist’s Diet I decided that I should make a collector’s cereal box as a gift and marketing tool for the book. After listening to a speech by Seth Godin, I was motivated to create the cereal box as an added incentive. Godin talks about how books today are more of a collectors item than something to read because now there are so many forms of media available to the reader. Anymore, voracious readers are buying books for their e-readers. If they buy a bound copy, it’s more likely there for display. What Hugh MacLeod calls a social object.

That was my desire. Create a cereal box for the book (appropriate because the book spoofs diet books and as with so many of the diet books on the shelf there is actually a corresponding line of food products) in which the book would be delivered. Ideally, someone would get the box and display it on their desk or bookshelf. Then when someone would stop by, they may ask about the book. The result is a conversation (although brief) about the box and book.

What I found in my pursuit to make my cereal box was that it is nearly impossible to create a limited number of cereal boxes for a reasonable price. I called the big guys who make boxes for Kellogs, Kashi, General Mills, etc. and they told their minimum run was 10,000 boxes. I didn’t even make that many books.

I forged ahead by contacting local printers. After consulting a friend, I concluded that all I really needed was a color print on a 21×13 posterboard. Apparently printers don’t like to print on poster board. Some were willing to do 11×17 card stock, but that was too small. I went to places like Stapes, and FedEx and was quoted around $15 to print on the larger format but not posterboard. And then I’d still have to use spray adhesive to attach the print to a posterboard. That wasn’t easy!

I also called mid-size printing companies and was quoted $14 per box. I was getting closer, but at that cost, I was not going to be making many boxes.

So finally I went to Costco. I’m pretty sure I was there for the selection of free samples passed out by the blue hairs, but what I found was that Costco could make a 16×20 poster for $5.99. Amazing. The only problem was that I still need to attach the print to a posterboard, cut it out, score the folds, fold it, and glue it all together. Trust me, that’s a lot of work.

Are you thinking of making a cereal box? Okay, probably not, but if you are, weigh your costs before making promises. When I promised cereal boxes to people, I had no idea I could be forking out close to $20 per box, and I didn’t even think about shipping. I often have plans that far outweigh my budget. This was a case in point.

In the end, the box has turned out nicely. If you think you might want a book in a Starving Artist’s Diet cereal box, you can order one for $55 which includes standard media mail shipping. Considering the time and effort that goes into making this creation, The Starving Artist’s Diet cereal box and book will be highly collectible because there will certainly be a limited number made.