Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

The Hottest Court in America August 13, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:00 am

Photo courtesy Doug Kapustin

As I wrote about in my previous post, the popular word game Wordle got its start during the recent pandemic. Something I dabbled in during the lockdowns and shut downs was Pickelball. I’d heard about it and since I love tennis, I thought I’d give it a shot. Just like Wordle, it’s taken the country (and some of the world) by storm.

 

When I first played Pickelball back in 2020, my neighborhood club had tennis courts but not official Pickelball courts so our pro improvised like many do and converted a couple of the tennis courts into Pickelball courts. It was so much fun and really easy to learn. Think of it as a brilliant combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis aka ping pong. It’s a blast and it’s the fastest growing sport in America! It’s also a game for all ages and the whole family so it’s only fitting it was invented by a “mature” dad and his family.

 

 

The game was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington state by three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum – whose kids were complaining they were bored and had nothing to do. Like all good dads, they put their heads together and said “challenge accepted!”

 

Returning home after a game of golf, Pritchard and Bell hit a hole in one when they looked at the property’s old badminton court but couldn’t find any badminton equipment. So….they improvised and began playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. What fun they had and the next weekend McCallum joined them and soon the three created rules for their new game; rules that relied heavily on badminton.

 

Fast forward to 1990 and Pickelball was being played in all 50 states. By 2019 the newly formed USA Pickleball Association had nearly 40,000 members, representing a 1,000 percent growth since 2013. Maybe they should be in charge of our economy! Two years later membership reached the 50,000 milestone and the sport’s popularity continues to explode. So what is it? Why so popular?

 

 

For one, like I mentioned earlier, if you can walk and bend you can play Pickelball. It is fast paced, but you get the hang of it fairly quickly. That’s the other thing: it’s easy to learn. The spread of its popularity is also attributed to the fact that it’s thriving at community centers, school PE classes, YMCA facilities, and retirement communities; the latter of which you could call the major league of Pickleball. It’s the ideal sport for those aging into or in retirement age as much like golf, it can be played at any age. Just be careful.

 

With the rise in Pickelball popularity has come a rise in Pickelball injuries – especially among Baby Boomers. In fact, experts say the popular pastime is leading to a rash of injuries amongst the senior set. Overuse injuries like tendonitis, arthritis, muscle contusions, and sprains are common and issues like patella; and ankle, wrist, and elbow fractures that require surgery are not uncommon. This older yet ambitious demographic is more likely to have weak bones, putting them at a greater risk for fractures considering the sport’s notorious repetive quick starts and stops. Loving the camaraderie and activity it brings to their often secluded lives, retirees picking up the Pickleball paddle may start slow but many get the bug and begin playing several hours a day and several days a week. I know the feeling. A tennis player at heart, I took the sport up again in 2020 after many idle years and before you know it I was at a pain relief doctor complaining of lower back and hip pain. I thought I was active enough to become my beloved Chris Evert again, but my body said no way. Enter Pickeball…the perfect competitive yet friendly game.

 

Played either inside or outside, Pickelball brings people together and is always played in doubles, meaning you play with a partner and have less court to cover. It involves both a cardio health aspect and requires strategic and quick planning that keeps the brain engaged. Just be sure to stretch before playing and work on balance, stability, and cross-training. I’m thinking yoga and long walks.

 

 

Play is done on a court that’s the same size as a doubles badminton court and it’s striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts. Excitement is added with the non-volley zone in front of the net called the “kitchen.” Rule #1: stay out of the kitchen as volleys are not allowed!

 

Pickelball paddles are smaller than tennis racquets but bigger than ping-pong paddles, although their handle is short like their table tennis counterparts. The balls are unique in that they have holes throughout and come in fun colors; colors that must be a single color to meet International Federation of Pickell specifications.

 

 

Yes, there is an international governing board as many new clubs are forming worldwide. Many European and Asian countries are witnessing Pickelball mania and courts are popping up everywhere. Do I foresee a future Olympic sport?

 

And to answer the question of all questions, how did Pickelball gets its name? Well, not from the food product and not after Pritchard’s dog whose name was Pickle. Many theories presume that the dog was the game’s namesake but sweet Pickles was born in 1968, years after the sport was named and being played. So then, what’s the real story?

 

Although I love the idea of Pickelball being named after a dog, it really got its unique moniker from Pritchard’s wife Joan who was a loyal crew fan and thought the fact that Pickelball was a thrown together game made up of parts of other games, it was much like the just-for-fun “pickle boat” races that regattas often hold for non-starters in a separate competition. I know, not the greatest of tales, but that’s the truth.

 

Our neighborhood club recently constructed designated Pickelball courts and play has commenced. I recently returned to the court and gave it a shot but with our 100+ degree weather, it was just too dang hot for me; even in the evening. I plan to return to play as our temperatures subside and can’t wait to dink it over the net and win the match. See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

Word Up! August 11, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:55 pm

It’s not often that I jump on board anything trendy, but two things currently have my attention: Wordle and Pickelball. I’ve been working on blogging on both for a week or so and then I saw the Pickelball feature on “CBS Sunday Morning” (and thought…they stole my thought!) last week so I figured I better get a move on! First up…Wordle.

 

 

I was kinda late to the game but this wordsmith is obsessed with Wordle. I’d heard about it and then one day early this year a fellow golfer talked about it after a tournament and raised my curiosity. I looked into it but it seemed a bit confusing so I let it go. Then, my good friend got me hooked. Now, I look forward to doing it every day and share my results with her and another friend who I got hooked on it. I gotta say…I love it!

 

I also loved learning that it was developed by a software engineer who made it for his girlfriend as a pandemic distraction during lockdowns. I guess Wordle is one of very few silver linings to come out of it all!

 

 

Brooklyn-based John Wardle, the guy behind it all, is actually Welsh and originally created the game for him and his friend to play. It all went public in October 2021 and players started posting their results on social media. In January of this year, more than 300,000 people played the game, up from a mere 90 players in November 2021. By mid-January, more than 2 million people were playing it daily. This success didn’t go to Wardle’s head however. In fact, all the sudden attention left him uncomfortable so on January 31, his little game was purchased by The New York Times Company for an undisclosed low seven figures and the game was moved to the company’s website.

 

 

AP/Michael Dwyer

IYKYK, but if you don’t, here’s the gist. Every day a five-letter word is chosen and players try to guess it in six tries. You simply enter any letters that make up a legit word in the five squares and go from there. After every guess, the letters are marked either green, yellow, or gray. Green means that letter is in the word and is in the right position, yellow means it’s in the word but not where you put it, and gray means it’s not in the word at all. It’s amazing and fun that some days you get it in two or three tries and others you’re hoping your sixth guess is the right one. All players worldwide guess the same word and there’s only one word per day.

 

So how are the words chosen? They are randomly picked from a list of just over 2,300 English words; a list that was pared down from the approximate 13,000 five-letter words in the English language by Wardle’s wife. It’s important to note that even though Wardle is Welsh, he is a long-time New York resident and all Wordle words use America spelling. That stuff that makes up fabric or your digestive system healthy? It’s “fiber” not “fibre” on Wordle. This doesn’t sit well with some foreign players, but no worries, Wordle has been adapted into other languages and now there are at around 350 different variants in some 91 languages. As for offensive words? They’re out. You’ll never guess “lynch” or “sluts” as the daily word, along with a few others.

 

There are some fun knock-offs out there, including Tradle, in which users guess a country based on its exports, and Airportle that involves guessing airports IATA codes. There’s also Heardle where listeners guess songs and that was acquired by Spotify just last month.

 

If you’ve played it, you might notice that Wordle’s mechanics are nearly identical to Jotto, the popular “write it down” game of the 1950s as well as the TV game show Lingo. Its method of playing is also similar to the board game Mastermind.

 

 

And speaking of board games, The New York Times and Hasbro have partnered to create Wordle: The Party Game, a board game set for release this October…just in time for holiday giving! Lots of clones have also appeared including many that incorporate the “le” suffix to appear connected with the original, but imposters have been removed and The New York Times filed a trademark application to protect its intellectual property. (Remember trademark info in my previous color blog?!)

 

It all almost didn’t happen though. Wardle had been doing his puzzling for roughly five years when he lost interest in 2014 and promptly set his prototype aside. Then, the pandemic hit. That’s when he and his friend became obsessed with The New York Times’ Spelling Bee and daily crossword puzzle. Wardle had created two online social experiments called The Button and Place while working for Reddit and in January 2021 he published Wordle on the web. And yes, he named it that as a play on word of his surname. It’s perfect!

 

The rest, as they say, is history. Today even Wardle himself plays it and says he doesn’t know each day’s word so he’s guessing right along the rest of us. He’s adamant about keeping it to one puzzle per day as a way of keeping players wanting more and also as a way of only spending mere minutes on it each day. In short, he just wants it to be fun and what’s a five letter word for fun? Wordle!

 

In Living Color August 9, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:16 pm

College football is almost here and being a huge fan, I cannot wait. But, since I promised a follow up blog to my one yesterday on color, the game of football itself has to wait but color does play a big role in the sport so let’s kick off this blog with a fun football story.

 

As I discussed previously, color has a huge effect on us and the color pink is often thought of as passive and calming. That, sports fans, is exactly why the visitor’s locker room at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium is painted pink! LOL right? It’s the brainchild of former coach and psychology major Hayden Fry who ordered the locker room painted pink. Everything is pink. The lockers. The walls. The floors. The toilets. Everything! It’s actually an interesting idea that I love almost as much as I love the Hawkeye’s tradition of waving to children in the next door children’s hospital during every game.

 

I’ve also heard of prisons using the color pink to calm their populations and there’s a reason why airplane seats are often blue. The fact that airlines across the board incorporate various shades of blue in the cabins is no accident or coincidence. In fact, it’s not so much about comfort but also about psychology.

 

 

Airline execs have researched it and found that blue is associated with the positive qualities of trust, efficiency, serenity, coolness, reflection, and calm. In today’s world of airline struggles and flight cancellation madness, we all need a little bit of calm on board, right?

 

 

 

 

You’ll also find a lot of blue when you visit Santa Fe, specifically on doors, windows, and gates. Not only does the color go beautifully with the city’s signature tan and brownish adobe structures, it is believed to keep evil spirits from entering your home when painted on entrances to it. This custom most likely came from early Spanish settlers when they established the city but their Native American brothers also come into play. It is said that blue indicates one of the four sacred directions of local Pueblo life; the direction of the southwest. If you’re wondering, red signifies the southeast, yellow the northwest, and white the northeast. Whoever gets credit for it, I think it’s a beautiful tradition.

 

 

We’re not done with blue just yet. Many companies use blue in their logos, either front and center or in the background. Just look at your phone or tablet’s desktop icons. Facebook. Twitter. Explorer. Venmo. Blink. LinkedIn. GroupMe. The Weather Channel. PayPal. They’re all blue in some way or another.  Blue is considered a rich and subtly bold color and is often associated with freedom and openness and a University of Illinois study found that people who worked against blue backgrounds scored better on tests that required imagination and inventiveness. (If you’re looking for detailed work, the study found red backgrounds are your best. No wonder I like red so much!)

 

 

Another fun fact regarding blue has to do with something you might have on right now. Did you know the iconic jeans we all love and affectionately call “blue jeans” may be as American as apple pie but the material they were originally made of was a French fabric probably in the Middle Ages. Levi Strauss may have received a patent for reinformcing his trousers with rivets in 1873, bu the twill weave fabric often using indigo and white yarns that defined them was originally called “serge de Nimes” after the French city where it was woven. That long French name morphed into “denim” but the indigo yarns still attach to the cloth’s threads giving us those blue jeans we so love.

 

 

Color also plays a big role in the medicines we take. It comes as no surprise that pharmaceutical companies are aware of the association colors have and incorporate the data when developing products. We all know what the “little blue pill” is, as Viagra is famously known, but did you know blue is also best known for sedatives? Look in your medicine cabinet. Check to see if red and orange ones are stimulants, cheery yellow ones are antidepressants, soothing green ones are to reduce anxiety, and white ones suppress pain. Not only do these color choices ensure manufactures don’t mix them up during packaging, they also are thought to help patients recognize what they’re taking. And yes, the drug makers ferociously protect their designs but you may find that generic versions somewhat resemble the originals.

 

 

 

And our last “did you know” color tidbit? Purple posts and trees. Huh? Yep, many states allow landowners to paint trees and posts on their property purple. Why? To warn trespassers. Think of them as pretty “No Trespassing” signs. I actually pass one big one as I go about my daily life. Why purple? Well, for one, it shows up well outdoors and it’s one of the only colors that colorblind people can easily identify.

 

 

 

Interesting, right? So is the fact that the color of your office impacts your productivity. I realize many of us are working from home and not going into an office, but look around anyway. What color is your WFH area? You might want to know that a University of Texas study found that gray, beige, and white offices induce feelings of sadness and depression, especially in women, while restful greens and calming blues improve efficiency and focus. Yellow is the best choice for artists, writers, designers, and developers as it is believed to trigger innovation and creativity. Don’t think you have to go crazy with these colors though; you don’t necessarily need to paint an entire room yellow or blue, but think of ways to powerfully pop it in the room.

 

 

Lastly and when all else fails, stick to colors close together on the color wheel if you want a calm setting and colors that are far apart on the color wheel if you’re looking for drama. And, did you know Sir Isaac Newton invented the color wheel in 1666? Who knew the creator of the law of gravity and reportedly calculus was also a color connoisseur?

 

Well now you know more about color then you probably ever wanted to. I hope you liked some of these interesting and fun facts and that next time you see a blue window or purple post, you’ll know why. If nothing else, happy coloring!

 

 

Color Our World August 8, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:00 pm

Walking into Home Depot the other day I noticed a row of John Deere lawn mowers parked out front. I knew they were John Deere long before I read the name on them because of their distinct green and yellow paint. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought John Deere owns that green and yellow. Come to find out they don’t but it’s not for a lack of trying.

 

In fact, the farm equipment giant tried to trademark their signature green but was shot down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But…many other companies have been successful in “owning” a color. Surprised? So was I.

 

Then I learned something very interesting but not all that surprising. Those brown delivery trucks, blue jewelry boxes, and yellow sticky notes? Yep, UPS, Tiffany, and 3M have all trademarked their famous brown, blue, and yellow shades in. the idea all started back in the late 1950s when Owens-Corning sought to distinguish its fiberglass insulation from that of its competitors. Rather than go with the standard tan hue, Owens-Corning decided to make their insulation pink and went all in. They adopted the slogan “Think Pink” and used the Pink Panther as their mascot and in advertisements. It worked, and after a five year battle the company became the first in American history to successfully trademark a color in 1985. Since then many have tried and failed but others have succeeded.

 

Quick quiz: what’s the difference between trademark, patent, and copyright? For starters, copyrights are registered by the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress (D.C.’s most stunning building interior IMHO) while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants patents and registers trademarks. In short, a trademark can be a phrase, word, or design that identifies a company and its goods and services (e.g., Campbell’s soup labels) while a patent is a granted property right to the creator(s) of a new, unique, and useful invention, discovery, or process that allows one to bar others from making, using, or selling their invention. Copyrights are different in that they protect original works of authorship including songs, books, movies, articles, and much more.

 

Enough school though; let’s have some color fun.

 

 

 

Get Tested

I love taking little quizzes. Personality quizzes. Likes and dislikes quizzes. Travel quizzes. The gamut. I recently took one on color and it got me thinking on how much color affects our lives, our world, and even our moods.

 

Textile designer Lori Weitzner identified 10 palettes in her book Ode to Color and then teamed up with a psychologist to develop an 18-question quiz that shows you which palettes suit you best. The quiz, which is available on Weitzner’s website, asks you about things like movies, books, music, sentimentality, personality, risk-taking and other interesting touch points. Again, I loved it and my results showed the “Fragrant Woods” palette suits me best followed by “Earthly.” Hmmmm…let’s look into those and the others.

 

Maria Flanigan

Shades like those found in a pine grove…think greens and browns…make up Fragrant Woods, are described as the colors of homecomings and hues that are nurturing and personal. They are all about slowing down, wellness, being present, and sensoring experiences like using a paper calendar or nurturing a houseplant. OMG. That’s me! The Earthly palette consists of colors like clay, sienna, and terra-cotta.

 

When it comes to my home décor, these pretty much hit the spot. I’ve always said I prefer coloring with the spices: paprika, saffron, basil, and cinnamon. I also love a splash of salt and pepper/black and white and tend to stay away from florals, opting instead for stripes, plaids, and checks. I also like a homey, traditional, and personal feel. Don’t get me wrong, I love home décor and design, but oddly enough when it comes to our home, I care more about comfy and cozy than trendy and styled. But that’s just me. What about the rest of the world?

 

Come to find out phrases like “seeing red,” “feeling blue,” and “green with envy” have some scientific back-up. In fact, study after study has shown color and mood are intricately linked and many of us actually have personal relationships with particular colors. In fact, our brains respond very powerfully to colors and one interesting study in Switzerland gave us some literal “food for thought” when it revealed people who use red plates tend to eat less. The thought is red is often associated with words like “stop” and “danger,” so our minds may put on the eating brakes when we see that color. Excuse me while I go buy some red plates…

 

The color red also increases your heart rate and evokes powerful emotions like fear, anger, and passion. Think red flush in the cheeks, fire trucks, and even “red light” districts. It also exudes strength and leadership, as well as confidence, ambition, and an outgoing personality.

 

 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to chill out, opt for blue, which psychologically lowers blood pressure. Think blue skies and tranquil blue oceans and if you’re looking to convey a calming presence on a first date or interview, wear something blue as it is associated with trustworthiness, strength, and dependability.

 

 

Jean Stoffer Design

Green is considered earthy, understated, and balanced and is part of the color family chosen by Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and Behr as Color of the Year for 2022. Rather than a bright emerald however, the paint experts went with more warm, muted tones like olive, sage, moss, and eucalyptus. On the other hand, global color authority Pantone went with Very Peri as its color of the year. The periwinkle blue lends itself to relaxing vibes and tranquil feels and boy are we all in desperate need of both this year!

 

“Mellow” yellow is anything but as most consider it joyful, fun, and bright. Orange is considered a combination of yellows sunniness and red’s depth. It evokes action and is said to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity. I personally don’t wear orange but I do wear purple now and then and come to find out the rich color is associated with royalty and luxury. It evokes and can even instill confidence and can make one appear more sophisticated if handled well.

 

Brown and gray both symbolize practicality and sensibility as well as a certain kind of down-to-earthiness and a more low-key personality.

 

Then there’s black. Think making you look slimmer and that famous little black dress. It can indeed be slimming and is associated with elegance and high class. Can you say limousines and black tie affairs?

 

Finally, white. Pure white. A symbol of purity and simplicity. You can do so much with it!

 

So there you have it; a roundup of all things color. But there’s more!  In my next blog I’ll share some fun facts and tidbits regarding color as well as how it can affect productivity. Stay tuned!

 

Winging It July 29, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:19 pm

 

Editor’s note: I wrote this back on a Super Bowl Sunday but it bears repeating today, National Chicken Wing Day. Enjoy!

 

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us tomorrow and I, along with millions of others, will be eating my share of wings. Chicken wings that is. Buffalo chicken wings.  As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that Americans will eat a record 1.4 billion of tasty wings this weekend. But what are they exactly? And I mean exactly?  Yes, you will find teriyaki, BBQ, and a host of other flavored chicken wing options, but there’s really only one real wing: The Buffalo Chicken Wing. When made right, they are uh-mazing and they have an interesting history as I learned many years ago from my Buffalo born and raised husband.

 

 

No, Buffalo wings aren’t buffalo meat (buffalos don’t have wings), and no, Chili’s didn’t invent the wing nor did Pluckers or Buffalo Wild Wings. That honor belongs to Frank and Teressa Bellissimo. Here’s the story: Frank and Teressa established The Anchor Bar and Grill in downtown Buffalo, NY back in 1935 and had quite the popular neighborhood watering hole. But, it wasn’t until 1964 that the hole-in-the-wall became historic.

 

It was on a Friday night in 1964 that their son Dominic and a group of friends told mamma Bellissimo they wanted a late night snack. Teressa looked around and saw some left over chicken wings, which were usually tossed or reserved for stocks or soups. Knowing she needed something fast and easy, she deep fried the wings and then tossed them in a cayenne hot sauce. She served them with celery stalks and bleu cheese dressing because she also had extras of them lying around and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

 

Teressa’s wings were a hit that night and it didn’t take long for word to spread that the Anchor Bar had a great new dish. Today, the original restaurant at the corner of Main and North Streets is considered the birthplace of wings and still serves up its famous fingerlings, as do restaurants around the world.

 

I will say however, that nowhere in the world are the wings as good as what you get in Western New York. And I say “wings,” not “chicken wings” or “Buffalo wings,” just “wings,” as that’s what they’re called by locals. Finding them elsewhere is a bit like looking for cheesesteaks in Oregon, Tex-Mex in Maryland, or gumbo in Iowa. They just aren’t comparable or even close to the real deals.

 

Wings in Buffalo are so delicious that I truly can eat a dozen of them all by myself. They are most often accompanied by drums and are big, crispy, never greasy or runny, and just the right amount of spicy. If you want them hot, you can but be careful, as your mouth will be on fire. My husband says he remembers eating wings so hot that he’d run outside and put his lips in the snow. I don’t know if that’s totally true but it makes for a great story!

 

 

Deep-fried chicken wings are nothing culinary new and have been a southern staple for years, but most of those wings are breaded. Buffalo chicken wings are never breaded. You simply fry them up and then then coat them with a level of hot sauce to your choosing. Simple, classic, and delicious. And please, no ranch dressing on the side. Bleu cheese only is the way to go.

 

 

No trip to Buffalo is complete without a stop at the Anchor Bar but if you can’t make it to the original location, not to worry, there’s one right inside the Buffalo airport. So, as you make your way out of the airport on your way to perhaps Niagara Falls, be sure to stop and get you some wings before heading out.

 

 

Wings are so sacred in the Buffalo area, that friends and family actually argue over which neighborhood spot has the best ones. The most popular one in my husband’s hometown village of East Aurora (where Mr. Fisher and Mr. Price started Fisher-Price toys in their garage, where America’s Arts and Crafts movement began more than a century ago with the original Roycrofters and thinker Elbert Hubbard, and home of The Millard Fillmore House that was once the residence of the 13th president of the United States), called the Bar-Bill Tavern takes no reservations, accepts only cash, and only recently began offering take-out wings. It also always makes local and national “Best Buffalo Wings” lists.

 

In 1977 the city of Buffalo issued an official proclamation celebrating the Anchor Bar and its owners and declared July 29, 1977 “Chicken Wing Day.” Frank Bellissimo died in 1980 at the age of 84 and Teressa died a year later in her apartment above the bar. They both passed at the age of 84. Dominic, the son whose late night cravings resulted in his mom’s famous wings, later owned the restaurant. He died in 1991 and in 1999 the franchising of Anchor Bar restaurants was established. An Anchor Bar bottled sauce line launched in 1999 and today can be found in more than 3,000 retailers. The world-famous brand was even included in a “Simpsons” episode.

 

I’m not quite sure how wings became so entwined with football watch parties but maybe it’s because they are a popular bar food, they are a filling finger food, and they are so dang good.

 

So there you have it, the story behind those wings you’ll be munching on during the Super Bowl and above you have Teressa Bellisimo’s original recipe. Now you know they’re not only yummy but truly a beautiful thing. They are bellissimo!

 

Winging It

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:00 am

 

Editor’s note: I wrote this back on Super Bowl Sunday, but it bears repeating today, National Chicken Wing Day. Enjoy!

 

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us tomorrow and I, along with millions of others, will be eating my share of wings. Chicken wings that is. Buffalo chicken wings.  As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that Americans will eat a record 1.4 billion of tasty wings this weekend. But what are they exactly? And I mean exactly?  Yes, you will find teriyaki, BBQ, and a host of other flavored chicken wing options, but there’s really only one real wing: The Buffalo Chicken Wing. When made right, they are uh-mazing and they have an interesting history as I learned many years ago from my Buffalo born and raised husband.

 

 

No, Buffalo wings aren’t buffalo meat (buffalos don’t have wings), and no, Chili’s didn’t invent the wing nor did Pluckers or Buffalo Wild Wings. That honor belongs to Frank and Teressa Bellissimo. Here’s the story: Frank and Teressa established The Anchor Bar and Grill in downtown Buffalo, NY back in 1935 and had quite the popular neighborhood watering hole. But, it wasn’t until 1964 that the hole-in-the-wall became historic.

 

It was on a Friday night in 1964 that their son Dominic and a group of friends told mamma Bellissimo they wanted a late night snack. Teressa looked around and saw some left over chicken wings, which were usually tossed or reserved for stocks or soups. Knowing she needed something fast and easy, she deep fried the wings and then tossed them in a cayenne hot sauce. She served them with celery stalks and bleu cheese dressing because she also had extras of them lying around and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

 

Teressa’s wings were a hit that night and it didn’t take long for word to spread that the Anchor Bar had a great new dish. Today, the original restaurant at the corner of Main and North Streets is considered the birthplace of wings and still serves up its famous fingerlings, as do restaurants around the world.

 

I will say however, that nowhere in the world are the wings as good as what you get in Western New York. And I say “wings,” not “chicken wings” or “Buffalo wings,” just “wings,” as that’s what they’re called by locals. Finding them elsewhere is a bit like looking for cheesesteaks in Oregon, Tex-Mex in Maryland, or gumbo in Iowa. They just aren’t comparable or even close to the real deals.

 

Wings in Buffalo are so delicious that I truly can eat a dozen of them all by myself. They are most often accompanied by drums and are big, crispy, never greasy or runny, and just the right amount of spicy. If you want them hot, you can but be careful, as your mouth will be on fire. My husband says he remembers eating wings so hot that he’d run outside and put his lips in the snow. I don’t know if that’s totally true but it makes for a great story!

 

 

Deep-fried chicken wings are nothing culinary new and have been a southern staple for years, but most of those wings are breaded. Buffalo chicken wings are never breaded. You simply fry them up and then then coat them with a level of hot sauce to your choosing. Simple, classic, and delicious. And please, no ranch dressing on the side. Bleu cheese only is the way to go.

 

 

No trip to Buffalo is complete without a stop at the Anchor Bar but if you can’t make it to the original location, not to worry, there’s one right inside the Buffalo airport. So, as you make your way out of the airport on your way to perhaps Niagara Falls, be sure to stop and get you some wings before heading out.

 

 

Wings are so sacred in the Buffalo area, that friends and family actually argue over which neighborhood spot has the best ones. The most popular one in my husband’s hometown village of East Aurora (where Mr. Fisher and Mr. Price started Fisher-Price toys in their garage, where America’s Arts and Crafts movement began more than a century ago with the original Roycrofters and thinker Elbert Hubbard, and home of The Millard Fillmore House that was once the residence of the 13th president of the United States), called the Bar-Bill Tavern takes no reservations, accepts only cash, and only recently began offering take-out wings. It also always makes local and national “Best Buffalo Wings” lists.

 

In 1977 the city of Buffalo issued an official proclamation celebrating the Anchor Bar and its owners and declared July 29, 1977 “Chicken Wing Day.” Frank Bellissimo died in 1980 at the age of 84 and Teressa died a year later in her apartment above the bar. They both passed at the age of 84. Dominic, the son whose late night cravings resulted in his mom’s famous wings, later owned the restaurant. He died in 1991 and in 1999 the franchising of Anchor Bar restaurants was established. An Anchor Bar bottled sauce line launched in 1999 and today can be found in more than 3,000 retailers. The world-famous brand was even included in a “Simpsons” episode.

 

I’m not quite sure how wings became so entwined with football watch parties but maybe it’s because they are a popular bar food, they are a filling finger food, and they are so dang good.

 

So there you have it, the story behind those wings you’ll be munching on during the Super Bowl and above you have Teressa Bellisimo’s original recipe. Now you know they’re not only yummy but truly a beautiful thing. They are bellissimo!

 

 

 

 

Call Me July 26, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:45 pm

I’m scurrying through “Where the Crawdads Sing,” a popular book I’ve not read but want to before going to the new movie.  In one part, a family sits down to a dinner of hamburger patties described as “thicker than a small phone book.” Oh phone books. Who remembers them?

 

 

The free and delivered to your doorstep books are shocking when you think about it. Not only were they never recycled, in them every person in your town was listed as was their phone number and address. Can you even imagine that information going out to anyone and everyone now? Weird right?

 

 

We are so incredibly private today and live in fear of someone “out there” finding our address and personal info that it’s no wonder phone books for the most part no longer exist. Oh sure I occasionally get a small business “yellow pages” businesses type of book in the mail but it immediately goes in the recycle bin. We have the internet now for all that info. And we have our phones.

 

 

Those phones have sure morphed through the years. Some former coworkers and I still laugh about how excited we were to get one of those “brick” phones pictured above. They were indeed big and clumsy, but they were mobile. Flip phones were cool but whatever happened to Blackberries? Whatever kind of cell phone we now have, they fit nicely in our purses and pockets and easily go everywhere with us.

 

 

Funny thing is, no one ever seems to answer those phones even though we all know we all have them right beside us virtually 24 hours a day and are always on them; even in a crowd and surrounded by people. Some of you even have a watch that serves the same purposes so you basically ignore two devices. You know who you are and so does everyone you know!

 

 

 

Growing up, I remember yelling “I’ll get it!” anytime the phone rang and running to it hoping I beat my sisters to the punch. It was so exciting to get a call even if the call wasn’t for you. If it was for you, you’d drag that long coiled cord into another room so you could have privacy. The actual phone you see, was mounted on the wall. My mom’s still is in the house I grew up in.

 

My mom also still thinks I have a “machine” as in “I called you and left a message on your machine.” Remember those? Answering machines? They were the bomb when they came out. A whole new way to get calls and screen calls. Then came voice mail and the machines were out the door. Call waiting and caller ID were also game changers. Except that is, when you were on the internet through your phone line and got a call. Off goes the connection. Sounds so weird to think now that I would have to disconnect call waiting whenever I got on AOL.

 

 

When I think of my mom and my childhood home, I also think of “the red phone” just like the one above. When our daughter was little, she loved that phone. Not sure why; she just did. I cherished and still do those pink Princess Phones. Still have one.

 

In their own way, phones were just as important back then as they are today and I can actually remember many a phone number from my childhood. Friends. Neighbors. My grandma. Friends of my parents. Restaurants my parents frequented. I can recite many of them to this day. Dialing them on a rotary phone day after day or pushing those “new and improved” push button phones made sure the numbers remained in our brains. Today, we push a button or contact. I couldn’t tell you anyone’s phone number on my phone now except for my husband’s and daughter’s. Even those I call (or text) frequently.

 

Whatever number we call today, it will include an area code. Back in the day, that wasn’t the case. I don’t remember exactly when the area code requirement came into effect, but it wasn’t all that long ago. A dear friend of mine from back in my TV news days recently shared an old press pass request I’d submitted that included my office phone number, sans area code. It looked so odd and naked on paper, clothed only in seven digits. Jenny would agree with her 867-5309 famous digits.

 

Today area codes are a type of calling card in some parts; excuse the pun. Ask Carrie Bradshaw. The “Sex and the City” character was devastated when she got a new phone number that didn’t have the legendary 212 New York City area code. In Austin, 512 before your phone number is coveted as is 214 in Dallas. No one wants to be the newbie in town and heaven forbid you have one of those California area codes. And BTW: all three of them were three of the original 86 North America area codes established in 1947.

 

 

So what is it; what’s changed so much in that we all have to have phones but don’t really like talking on them? Have we become that private? That’s kinda hard to believe being that we post anything and everything on numerous social media sites that are anything but safe and private, enter our credit card numbers willy nilly online, and track locations of friends and family.

 

Could it be that we’re overwhelmed and overstimulated? Information and requests come in constantly on the phones we own, which are really small computers and not merely phones. Having to talk to someone maybe stresses us out as does being “on call” 24-7. It’s a struggle and it’s a lot. Maybe we should bring back the “busy signal” to ensure callers know we are just to busy to answer the call.

 

 

I took this photo sometime back in an airport. Many of you know what it’s of while others have no idea. Spoiler alert: it’s a wall of what used to be pay phones. Yes, we used to have to pay money on the spot to use a phone in a public place. And I’m not talking waaaay back. In fact, I was recently watching an episode of “Friends” and Joey ran out of coins while making a call.

 

 

Guess I’ll go back to reading my book, which by the way is a real book; not one I read on my phone. I’ll save it for texting, scrolling, Googling, photographing, and just about everything but calling and talking. If you want to force me, do what another blast from the past Blondie would say, “Call me.” Maybe I’ll pick up.

 

 

 

 

Halfway Done July 9, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:29 pm

One week ago today we were officially half way through 2022. Often called “Halfway Day,” the day is seen as a good time to assess the first half of the year and to plan for the second half. It seems to have come very quickly, as the months have flown by. At least for me. Let’s look back and look forward.

 

Courtesy Max Lucado

 

I personally have had a fairly quiet year, save for the aging of my mamma and the loss of our sweet Beagle, Nikki. Our other Beagle, Barry, tore his ACL and had to have major surgery followed by weeks of PT. Minor as it may sound, it was not an easy road. My husband and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this year, which is something we celebrate big. In this day and age, we are so very grateful for our commitment and the little life we’ve created.

 

My year has been blessed with friends who I’ve come to appreciate more and more this year. Monthly lunches, weekly golf games, theatre and events outings, dinners, visits, and things like book club and bible study have enhanced my year and my life. I can only hope the rest of the year proves the same.

 

I was so lucky to enjoy fabulous trips to Punta Mita and Sedona, visited my mom in her new assisted living facility, and enjoyed reuniting with my dear college friends during a wedding in Nashville. Both the visit with mom and the wedding weekend were equally joyous and heartbreaking though, much as the year itself has been.

 

 

Our country started the year with somewhat high hopes, only to see inflation and crime skyrocket, our southern border virtually disappear, food shortages hit the shelves, gas prices surge, loss of confidence in elected leaders, damages inflicted in our schools and to our military, right to bear arms and right to life debates, and more protests and more division. Our country is not in good shape. Things can get a lot worse but let’s hope and pray they get better. November is right around the corner.

 

 

Something else to consider as we hit the mid-year mark is how we’ve done with our New Year’s resolutions. In a blog earlier this year, I suggested New Year’s “Intentions” rather than resolutions as the word just seems more user-friendly. I sent an intention for having more discipline, but sadly I now, at the mid-year mark, find that I really haven’t upped the discipline ante. There’s still time to do so this year, and maybe six months in is the perfect time to reset intentions and goals.

 

Looking back and examining the first part of this year, I will say one thing I’ve stuck with is having a “word of the year.” The word I picked back in January was “pause,” and I gotta say it has served me so very well. This over-thinker and over-planner sometimes just needs to let it go and telling myself “pause” has worked wonders. Woohoo! Accomplishment done.

 

Other than not increasing my discipline in certain areas of my life, I do have other regrets and intend to work on them as the year winds down. I regret gaining some of the weight back that I worked so hard to lose three years ago. Blame it on being locked down for months on end; blame it my own lack of discipline. Either way, I’m determined to get back on the plan and take those pounds off once again. I’ve also learned that hopes and dreams are rarely in my control so I’m learning to stop wishing so much and releasing part of the fantasy. Life is good and it’s time to accept it as is and be grateful for my blessings. Perhaps “acceptance” should be right up there with “pause” the rest of the year.

 

As I’ve written many times, one goal I have every New Year is to learn something new. I feel I can somewhat check that box as I learned to boogie board in Punta Mita. Completely out of my comfort zone, I found it to be so much fun and quite empowering. Keep learning people. Always keep learning.

 

So as we head into the last six months of 2022, take some time to reflect on the first six months and assess the highs, the lows, and everything in between. What are your accomplishments? What are your regrets? What might the rest of the year hold for you?

 

The State of Our Union June 26, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:22 pm

How did you read the above picture? It might depend on what you believe. Do you see “God is now here” or “God is nowhere?” Interesting, right?

 

Interesting too is that today is Sunday, or the Sabbath, the day traditionally reserved for religious services and when many attend church. Sadly, new polls are confirming less and less attendance. Coincidentally, another poll reported a record high number of Americans who rate the moral values of America as “poor.” Coincidence? I’m thinking no.

 

All one has to do to see the alarming American divide and our dying society is turn on the TV; especially during the past few days. I’m not going to even touch the current life vs. choice argument, but you could say it is the perfect storm of the religious and people’s perception of morals and values. With that being said…

 

 

A Fallen Nation?

Let’s start with the fact that, for the first time ever, “No Religion” is how more Americans replied to a recent survey. The findings were close, with 23.1 percent claiming no religion, 23 percent saying their Catholic, and 22.5 percent responding as evangelicals. Still, the numbers are considered alarming by many. The reasons for these reports are also many.

 

The decline of religion in American life is strongly to blame as the single most important predictor of adult religiosity is one’s religious experiences in childhood and how we are raised. According to an Eastern Illinois University survey, young people report being raised in less religious households than their parents. In other words, we can stop blaming young people for leaving religion as many never really had a religion to leave.

 

 

I don’t know about you, but my mom was and still is a huge influence on my faith. I was raised Catholic and am still a practicing one, all thanks to my mom and later in life, my husband. I by no means am a perfect Catholic but I do try to uphold my beliefs and church doctrine. Saying you’re a Catholic but publicly and powerfully advocating for the most obvious of no-no’s is both shameful and sinful to me. But I digress. Yes, we’ve raised our daughter Catholic but I can’t say she attends mass every week. She does consider herself Catholic and goes to mass and other Catholic services and has it at the top of her “list.” Thank God. Excuse the pun.

 

Her age group, according to the Survey Center on American Life, is less religious by every conceivable metric compared to young adults a generation ago. These Millennials and Gen Z’ers go to church less, say religion is less important, have more doubts about the existence of God, and increasingly identify with no religious tradition. (I bet they love getting Christmas presents and having the holiday off though!) This generation is also hungry for facts and have access to information that will support or deny anything they research. Parents today and say 20 years ago are and have raised a generation surging in secular identity and more Americans than ever before are being raised in secular households. Not sure if this was your plan mom and dad, but you might want to start paying attention.

 

But, it’s not just “the kids.” Americans from their 30s to 60s are also less affiliated and less involved in formal and informal worship than people their same age a few decades ago. Still, 57 percent of Baby Boomers say the attended religious services weekly during their childhood but only 40 percent of Gen Z’ers say their families did the same. Hmmmm….

 

 

This is troublesome as there are soooo many churches out there. You cannot drive around and not see multiple places of worship of many faiths. Mom and dad, who grew up going to church, are simply choosing not to take their kids to church and secular marriages are increasing. “It’s not for me.” “I don’t agree with all their beliefs.” “I won’t feel comfortable there.” “I will be judged.” These are all common reasons to avoid choosing church, but let’s all remember there is no perfect church because churches are filled with imperfect people. And the whole “I can be religious and spiritual without going to church,” defense? Okay. Maybe so, but remind yourself of the “strength in numbers” credo. It’s hard to be alone in what you feel. It can also be risky. As Pastor Joe Champion wrote, “Pirates attack solo ships not armadas and prowling lions attack stragglers not the herd.” Kids today are also saying religion in general doesn’t embrace their personal beliefs and values. Which brings us to…

 

 

Morally Wrong?

A new Gallup poll found a record high 50 percent of Americans rate the overall state of moral values in the U.S. as “poor” (the highest on record) and another 37 percent say it’s only “fair.” I’m no math major but even I can see that it’s nearly 90 percent. Ninety percent say the values of American are bad. Say that again and say that out loud. And just in case you’re wondering, 1 percent think the state of our moral values is “excellent.”

 

The future outlook didn’t fare much better, with only 18 percent of those polled saying morals are getting better while 78 percent said they’re getting worse. The latter number proves that majorities of both partisan (i.e.: political) groups agree that it’s all deteriorating with even Democrats becoming significantly more pessimistic (68 percent vs. the previous 49 percent) since Joe Biden’s first year in office. I guess it’s nice to see they agree on something. Baby steps?

 

So what’s up America? Why in heaven’s name are our morals declining? Is it the internet? Families? Schools? Lack of religion? I’m venturing to guess a loud “yes” to all four and more.

 

 

When asked to name the most important problem with the state of moral values in the U.S., the top response was the way people treat each other. Amen, right? Also mentioned often in the polling were lack of morals, sense of entitlement, racism, lack of faith/religion, and lack of family structure. I’m seeing a pattern here that should be obvious to all.

 

Our values and morals are lacking and declining at the same time our faith and families are declining. I’m not saying that if you aren’t religious your morals and values could be affected or just the opposite. Your religion does not make your morally superior or unflawed.  I just find it so interesting that the two polls mentioned here make it hard not to connect the two issues. Seems like a somewhat easy fix if we want to put the work into it. Stop with the wishful thinking. Stop with compromising. Stop with the doubting.  Find your armada. Find your herd.

 

Teach & Learn June 24, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:50 pm

Saw the movie “Top Gun Maverick” and gotta say, it was really good! Unlike every male I know (who thinks they are Maverick), I enjoyed the first one but I don’t count it among my favorites of all time. Same with Tom Cruise. Not my fave, seems a bit odd, but boy can he make good movies. “Top Gun Maverick” is one of them and a big salute to him and his fellow producers for keeping it unabashedly pro-America and woke-free. Whew and Amen!

 

Without giving too much away, Cruise’s character Maverick is back and re-engaged, only this time as an instructor. He’s not happy, only wants to fly, but takes on the challenge. That’s all I’ll say about it.

 

I will say it kinda ties into a post by Gretchen Rubin, one of my favorite bloggers and authors, that asked “If you could take a class on any subject, what you want to learn?” and “If you were to teach a class, what would you teach?” Hmmmm…

 

 

The first one is fairly easy as I love learning new things, which is always my New Year’s Resolution. I’ve taken Italian lessons and ice skating classes, have learned to cross-stitch and fly fish, tried zip lining (key word “tried), have dabbled in photography, and have discovered the power of yoga and meditation. This year I learned to boogie board! I’ve also taken many a class, including several “tastings” of everything from martinis to tequila, sake to whiskey, and balsamic and olive oils. All were extremely fascinating and fun. I’ve also taken lots of cooking classes but could certainly take a class (or two or three or 20) on how to bake. A baker I’m not. To this day however, one of my favorite travel experiences was taking a cooking class in New Orleans. Whether you like the city’s cuisine or not, I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

Rubin’s answer took an interesting twist in that she said she wants to take a class on the Beatles as she’s a huge fan, which got me thinking. Rather than learning something new, maybe I’d like to learn more about something I love, enjoy, or am already fairly familiar with. The first thing, sadly, that comes to mind is every and all kinds of self-defense and self-protection. It’s a scary and anger-filled world out there and I’m thinking I need to be prepared for the worst.

 

Unbeknownst to me, I’m kinda already doing this as in the past year or so I’ve discovered I’m a huge introvert and have been learning all about it. A blog on this is in the works but in a nutshell I’ve learned I’m not shy, I’m not antisocial, and I’m not stuck up. I just don’t enjoy big crowds or small talk. I crave alone time and love deep conversation.  I’ve also learned that we introverts are indeed powerful, the world needs us, and we don’t need to become extroverts.  Enough on that as I continue to learn about it all.

 

 

Courtesy Susie Davis

On a lighter note, I’d love to take a class on something random. My book club recently read a book about butterflies and even though it was waaaay to science-y for me, I loved the idea of simply learning about butterflies. My husband is suddenly into birds so for Father’s Day he got a bird feeder and book on birds. Love it! (He also got a keyboard years ago and vowed he was going to learn to play. Needless to say a key has not been touch since. Finger’s crossed!)

 

I don’t need to become an expert on anything; I’m just interested in learning all about things like the Gilded Age of America, anything spiritual or biblical, or maybe the joy of gift wrapping and bow making.  The thing with me is, it would have to be a short-term class as I’m not big on long-term drawn-out commitments or events at this stage in my life.

 

 

The second question is a bit tougher for me. What would I like to teach or more importantly what would I be good at teaching? Many would right away say “writing,” but I truly don’t think I’m qualified. I may be a stickler for grammar, punctuation, and spelling but I’m not an English expert. I couldn’t tell you a participle from a preposition dangling or otherwise.  I’ve always said writing is a gift God gave me and that it comes easy for me. How do you teach that?

 

I suppose I could teach a class on fans…the type that cool you down not the type who root for teams, although I could probably do that too but my class would be very biased! About those fans though, I read a great book titled “The Language of Fans,” was fascinated by them so I read more about them and researched them, which led me to write a blog all about their history, function, and beauty.  I’d probably be great at teaching how to organize and plan but neither sound very fun to me. I love fashion and style but am not sure I could actually teach about it other than what not to wear! My style tends to be very traditional and simple so anyone looking for fads and trends need not enroll!

 

 

What about you? What would you like to take a class in? What class would you like to teach? They say you always learn when you teach so maybe a good idea is to learn about something while teaching it. If nothing else, why don’t all vow to take a class in simply teaching by example. We could all learn from that, right? Class dismissed!