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Today's word on journalism

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Career advice:

"Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was stabbed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire, then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to be a writer -- and if so, why?"

--Bennett Cerf (1898-1971), co-founder of Random House (Thanks to alert WORDster Tom McGuire)

Eating our way through Sam's Club is a great cheap date

By Maddie Wilson

November 1, 2007 | Sam's Club food samples might not sound like a sirloin at Hamilton's, but to my husband and me, they can make for quite the romantic -- and cheap -- date.

Ben and I last ventured to Sam's on a Friday, around noon. Apparently, this is a good time to go if you're looking for a variety of free tastes of food. We walked in the main doors and met the employee that greets us by checking our membership card. We headed past the big screen TV's, the glittering diamond jewelry and watches, and past the row with the furniture, but not without Ben trying out his dream chair.

Our round of samples starts back by the bakery. Just past the bakery, into the meat and seafood section, we met Gilbert. This middle-aged Hispanic man was our first server of the day, handing out pork tenderloins with toothpicks. Not without explaining how he cooked them with rosemary and garlic, though. He told us of the importance of adding flavor to food.

"You've got to nourish, not just feed," Gilbert said with a smile.

A couple feet from him was the warm, salty ham samples, also on toothpicks. No words from the woman who was serving at this stand; Ben and I just grabbed a toothpick and hurried away while she stared us down, feeling that we had just about our fair share of protein.

Little did we know, there was more to come. Over by the frozen food was the chicken tenderloin stand. The breaded chicken came in a little cup, and we got to pour alfredo sauce on top.

"I like your alfredo sauce better," Ben whispered in my ear. "This is too rich." I agreed.

Just a few feet behind the alfredo chicken was yet some more poultry: hefty three-bite samples of chicken burritos. I opted out of this one because I saw something deadly in those burritos: tomatoes. I've convinced myself that if I ever eat a tomato, I will never again see the light of day. Ben, however, said he enjoyed the melted cheese, chicken and even the tiny -- but always deadly no matter what size -- tomato-filled burrito.

Ben even got a response from the burrito server, after asking her if the burritos were any good. She said, "Yes." Okay, off we go.

We felt like we might be coming to the end of our sample journey, but Ben caught another stand out of the corner of his eye, hiding behind the frozen chicken isle. "Dessert!" he said.

It was potato salad, actually. I'm not sure how he mistook it for dessert. The crunchy celery did not favor me -- I have a hard time eating any potato salad unless my Grandma made it.

By now, we were past all the fresh and frozen food, and on to the isles with the powder gravy mixes, pop tarts and 50-pound flour bags. Here we ran into a warm, apple-flavored Quaker Oatmeal sample with a hint of cinnamon. The old woman serving us gave us a sweet smile as she told us that it's a very filling, healthy breakfast.

We're nearing the end, but our appetites are awakened. That's when we saw it: a line for one of the last, obviously highly popular, samples. We got in line behind an old couple with glasses and snow white hair. There was a slight whiff of pumpkin in the air. The Frisbee-sized pumpkin pie was going fast. We waited for the server to nervously and hurriedly dip up bite-size pieces for us and squeeze whipped cream on top. Her cheeks were red, and she seemed flustered by the long line at her stand.

"It just came out of the oven, so it will be a little hot," she warned said. It was warm and mushy as the layers of cream, filling and crust blended in our mouths.

This would have been a great way to end our sample feast, but there was yet another taste-test stand. The server in the wheelchair proudly announced the new vitamin juice supplement. Just one ounce of the dark brown liquid equals a daily value of fruits and vegetables, he said.

Feeling content that we didn't have to worry about eating anything healthy the rest of the day, we paid for the one thing we actually came to buy: my Nesquik. As another employee check-marked our receipt on the way out, I couldn't help but wish that chocolate milk contained a daily amount of fruits and vegetables. I'd never have to feel guilty for not eating tomatoes again.


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