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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Going Gluten-Free!

Geez. How many articles can a Media Guy handle about weight gain during the holidays? 

More than ever, though, people understand that our bodies just weren’t designed to handle the amount of processed flour found in many of today’s food. 

Some people with vague, undiagnosed illnesses feel better after cutting out gluten, a protein in flour-based foods. Many Americans, including professional athletes and celebrities such as Zooey Deschanel and men’s tennis leader Djovak Nokovic, say they look and perform better since dropping gluten from their diets.

What if you could toss the flour in your pastries, but keep the flavor?

Follow Kyra Bussanich on Twitter like the Media Guy does.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people who commit to a gluten-free lifestyle believe they have to sacrifice their favorite desserts, because gluten-free treats are often loaded with sugar but low on flavor,” says Kyra Bussanich, (, author of a new, full-color recipe book, “Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Bussanich’s gluten-free cupcakes twice bested their floury competition on “Cupcake Wars” (2011 and 2012) and were a runner-up for the show’s Cupcake Champion. She shares her secrets in recipes such as Mexican Chocolate Baked Alaska, Persian Love Cakes with Cardamom Buttercream and Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Blackberry Coulis. 

After suffering a life-threatening illness at 20, Bussanich recovered with the help of a new diet without gluten. She began testing gluten-free recipes while attending the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program and later opened her popular business, Kyra’s Bake Shop.

“My recipes are not good ‘for being gluten-free;’ they’re just good, and that’s why people who eat gluten visit my bakery and order gluten-free desserts,” she says. “For me, being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease allowed me to turn lemons into gluten-free lemon meringue pie!”

Any doubt that gluten-free can be delicious? Try this one (and add in a Venti gluten-free cup of Starbucks!):

Apple Crisp
6 large tart apples (Pippin or Granny Smith)
1/3 cup sugar, or 1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Generous pinch salt
3 tablespoons cold butter

1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/4-inch slices. Put the apple slices into a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over the top. Add the tapioca starch, cinnamon, five-spice, ginger and salt and toss together to evenly coat the apple slices. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, dot the top with pieces of the butter and set aside. To make the topping, combine the flours, tapioca starch, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, five-spice and ginger in a mixing bowl. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix in the butter until it is uniformly incorporated into the flour mixture. Stir in the oats and pecans.

Crumble the oat topping evenly over the apples. Bake until the topping is golden brown and set and the apples are warm and bubbly, 55 to 60 minutes.

You can prepare everything ahead of time. Refrigerate the apple filling and keep the topping frozen until ready to assemble and bake. Don’t refrigerate the unbaked topping overnight since the millet flour will interact with the butter and taste and smell cheesy when it’s baked.

Get the book at

Monday, November 25, 2013

The AMAs and the One-Armed Man

A funny conversation happened to me during my mad rush to reach Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater to cover the American Music Awards for Fox. Cover might be a reach; I mean working the red carpet isn’t exactly a Pulitzer Prize assignment, but it helps pay the bills.

I know what you are saying right now, “Blah, blah, blah Media Guy…get to the freaking point.”
Okay, okay, sorry for digressing right at the start.

I ran into the talented and charming Ryan Stout. He’s a comedian who has made it to the big time on Comedy Central. H couldn’t resist telling me about what happened on a recent flight.

RYAN STOUT: I had a situation at the airport flying out of the country.

MEDIA GUY: What happened?

RS: There was a man getting on my flight. He only had one arm; just one.

MG: You mean like Dr. Richard Kimble?

RS: No, nothing like that. But he only had one arm. The arm, right at the shoulder, completely gone. No nub, no nothing. 

MG: Were you in danger?

RS: Quite the opposite. I’m watching him get on the plan, and all I could think was, “Please let me sit next to him.”

MG: Did you?

RS: I did! Wrong side. 

Believe me when I tell you he fought for the armrest! He fought for it. I can’t believe he didn’t want the window seat. Ruuuuuuuuude.

MG: How rude was he?

RS: I said to myself, “Oh great, I guess it’s my job to help with someone’s oxygen mask.” Then about half way through the flight, he said “do you know what the dinner is?” To which I replied, “cheese ravioli or braised chicken. Say if you get the chicken do I have to help you cut it?” He was taken aback, so I decided to make small talk. “Are you a big Def Leppard fan?”

Rick Allen aka the one-armed Def Leppard drummer.
MG: You didn’t

RS: I did! But this is where I lucked out, because the one-armed man was not into chit-chat and that’s a good thing because if he wanted to introduce himself [chuckles] I was not shaking that hand. Because chances are…it’s not very clean.

MG: Oh my.

RS: No, that’s not a disgusting joke. I mean how do you wash one hand? That’s all I’m asking how do you do it? You get a little soap and then what? How do you get the back? How do you scrub the knuckles?
You’re looking at me funny? I just want a few answers and I’m tired of the judgment.

MG: There’s no judgment really…

RS: The one-armed man is a tricky situation and I know what you’re thinking. We’re quick to label.  We’re very quick to label as a country.  Like you steal a few office supplies, now all of the sudden you’re “unemployed.” You refused to pay for sex, now you’re that “broke honky.” You forget to pull out one time and now you’re the “father.”

MG: So you’re saying beware of one-armed men on airline flights?

RS: I know you want to clap for me right now for bringing this thinking to light. But the one-armed people don’t like the clapping. They give it one-thumbs-down. That’s the lowest score you can give.

Honestly that was the funniest, politically incorrect conversation I’ve had in a decade. I laughed all the way to the AMAs. Here’s a few highlights…a link to the story that was filed (sorry I was a photographer only) and link to my photography handiwork

My AMA badge I posted on my Instagram account.

Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball with her pops, looking mighty sharp.
 See all my pictures on Instagram by following me here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Monica: The Proofreader

Typos give me nightmares. 
Really they do. 
In my early days as the PR Guy, you would have to get your news releases printed at an offset printing facility. You would have to collate multiple pages together, staple the pages neatly in the upper left hand corner, make a tight z-fold and stuff them into an envelope and mail them out to the media. I did this quite a bit for the Lakers and Jack Kent Cooke in the early seventies as a kid. (If you want these details, you’ll have to buy the book, literally!) Yet I digress as usual.

Anyway…If you noticed a typo, you would have to re-type your work and deliver the new manuscript to the printer and wait for a day for a reprint. It was expensive and your entire release schedule would be blown.

Today, big agencies employ proofreaders who read copy all day long. That’s all they do. They check for typos, grammatical mistakes, and general copy screw-ups. I used to do that. I was pretty good at. Still am. But, it’s a real drag. And the worst part is, it’s nearly impossible to proofread your own work.

Monica? You may never know. She's undercover.
This blog has a proofreader. Her code name is Monica. I’m on my third Monica, much like Roy Rogers had a bunch of Triggers and Elizabeth Taylor had husbands. I still get nightmares about typos and when I get a text or an email from a reader pointing out a typo, my face sports the ass of the baboon (meaning I turn bright red). I don’t get mad at Monica. After all, you get what you pay for; in this case: nothing.

She’s a great lady. Fun, passionate about her work, and damn smart. She’s undercover and never shows herself to the world. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to let her vent about proofreading and her life analyzing words.

MEDIA GUY: What happened to the long lost art of proofreading and editing? I've seen so many spelling errors on major news sites it saddens me. It wasn't this bad when most of the news was via the newspaper.

MONICA the PROOFREADER: They say in outer space, no one can hear you scream.  And in cyberspace, no one can hear you screech: “Typo!” The Internet is all about speed of spreading the word. Grammar, sentence structure and typos take a backseat in the mad dash to promote ourselves often and early.

MG: When did proofreading become a non-starter?

MtP: Let’s blame the Internet. Everyone else does. Proofreading become a neglected skill and an unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming step.  It is to the 21st century what blacksmithing was to the 19th. Of course, typographical errors online come in a variety of flavors.  I may flinch when I stumble on one in the New York Times online or in print, but I acknowledge that it’s the price I pay to get reasonably good reporting on the 24/7 Internet clock.  I make the same allowances for the comments I read online attached to e-Commerce product pages or news site articles, now that I know there are thousands who think the verb “to lose” is spelled “to loose” or that “disappointed” packs two ses and two ps or two ses and one p.

MG: Please don’t get me started because English orthography is a bitch.

MtP: Still, you’d think that image-conscious businesses or government agencies would take a slightly fussier stance.  Spelling stuff wrong on an authorized web site or official communication suggests haste or carelessness or indifference.  Those aren’t impressions you want to leave on customers or constituents. But there’s a cost to correctness and clearly it’s too high for some entities in the information business.

MG: Has a typo of yours ever gotten you into trouble?

MtP: I have, and it wasn’t anything obvious! I sent an email to a colleague / ex-boyfriend. It was innocuous, but I signed it with a wink. That’s a simple semi colon and a parenthesis.  Big deal, you say. I say it too. However, I meant to sign it with a smile—that’s a colon and a parenthesis. So long story short, I created this all-day fight for him and his trashy new girlfriend—honest it was really a mistake ;) — all over a semi-colon.

Who would have guessed the semi-colon would have that effect on a life? I mean it’s been sitting on the keyboard since the invention of it. Barely working. Barely making ends meet. Every now and again it would have to work in a bibliography just to pay the rent. But you have to give the semi-colon credit, don’t you? It’s a persistent punctuation mark who never gave up.

MG: Yet you digress…

MtP: Yes, sorry. You get me all revved up over copy! Anyway, he found his way into this argument and, you know, if it had been a colon -- with both eyes open -- and a parenthesis, it would have been a smiley face and not a problem. So a simple typo and it became a wink and she told him, “You’re still sleeping with her aren’t you?”

“Or her shift button is broken…” he said.

The semi-colon. The bastard child of the period and the comma. “Ah, some day,” the semi-colon must have said. You know, it literally has to look up to the colon. There it is below the colon on the keyboard staring up at it all day long biding its time. I can see it saying “Someday, I’ll separate email addresses and independent clauses and screw up budding relationships.”

The semi-colon is very powerful. Get a wink at the wrong time of the day and it’s on. That never happens with an exclamation point. You could say it’s the Viagra of grammar.

MG: What’s the worst editor you have ever had to work with?

MtP: I had a boss that used to keep me late a lot. When I would hand in my work he always tell me in a creepy voice, “"When God closes a door, he opens a dress." Yeah, real nice.

MGS: What are some of the biggest mistakes you noticed recently?

MtP: The list is endless. Here are a few:

At a United Kingdom McDonald’s—Yes, grammar issues give me incontinence as well:

Another Walmart home run:

An unnamed framing store:

This is quite a gaff:

MG: What’s the feeling you get when you really crank out a good edit?

MtP: Have you ever had sex so good you say to yourself “someone is going to have a heart attack right here”? That’s the euphoria you get when you catch a really out-of-the-way mistake.