Friday, January 30, 2009

And before you ask, no, it's not "cold"

Does anyone really eat cole slaw?

I guess they do, sometimes. I know I've seen people put it on barbecue sandwiches. But it sure seems like a lot of restaurants include a little foam cup of the stuff with every meal, and I can't remember the last time I saw one of those cups empty, a spork wedged triumphantly into it's base.

I feel bad throwing out food, but as with the stuffing I mentioned last week, I can only recognize one version of the dish, and that's my mothers's. So unless Cane's is willing to add some little chunks of apple to the mix, I'm not going to be won over.

I think the whole inclusion of slaw with fast food meals might just be a consumer-perception thing. On one level, one more item means more for your money, never mind that some cabbage and mayonnaise didn't exactly break Long John Silver's treasure chest. On another level, cabbage is a vegetable, which gives the whole thing a much more healthy, down-home vibe. And that's a comfort when your other side dish was likely fried in the same grease as the main course.

I wonder about the people that work in those restaurants, toiling to mix up a fresh batch of cole slaw everyday. Do they sit there, grinding up all that cabbage, thinking about how many cups of it are going to be thrown out? All that hard work just so that, maybe, one guy out of twenty will take a bite or two.*

*So I guess it's kinda like making an independent film.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Original Post

Time to play Tribond! What do these things have in common?

1. Hot-Alpha-Under

A: They're all kinds of dogs. (Hot Dog, Alpha Dog, Underdog.)

2. Invitations-Credit Cards- nouns

A: It's too good, I can't spoil it.

3. The works of Shakespeare-Japanese Horror Films-Classic rock songs

A: All things that, when a remake of it comes out, people get super-mad.

It's not an agument I've ever understood. People talk about remakes like they're going to replace the original, and you won't be able to get anything but the remake anymore. And that scenario just doesn't happen (except with Star Wars). 

It's not heracy to do your own take on a previous work, because it's not scripture to begin with.

(Please note that actual scripture has gotten plenty of remakes, many of which have been well-received.)

There's just no reason to get angry about remakes.* I mean, I think my mother's Thanksgiving stuffing is the definitive version of THAT, but you don't see me getting riled up when someone buys some Stovetop.

*Unless they cast Keanu Reeves. I'll give you that one.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Never start thinking about food late at night

I have to be hungry to attempt it, but one of my favorite meals in Athens is "El Gran Combo" at Calientito's. The place will always be known best for its "Cubano Especial," a sandwich consisting of beef, cheese, jalapenos, two scrambled eggs, some grilled slices of hot dog . . . there may be a whole other sandwich in there, somewhere, I'm not sure. Most cooking is about balancing flavor, but the Especial represents more of a juggling maneuver, where the tastes bound about in ways you didn't think possible.*

But the Gran Combo holds a unique place in my heart. It's less a "meal" and more of a "big plate of stuff."There's rice and beans (ok, conventional enough), two big thin cut pieces of steak (sounds good) both of which are hidden underneath an even larger fried egg (little weird, but I guess . . . steak and eggs are a thing, right?) with several fried plantains (WHAT.) and a slice of avocado (No.). 

And it's all delicious, the very best kind of greasy protein. But as "dinner" it's rather unassailable.

Usually, with a meal you can identify things like "the main course" and "the side dish" and "the other side dish" and you know how to manage that experience. You try a little of this one, a little of that one, then dig into the main dish before taking a drink of water and starting again.

But with the Gran Combo . . . where do you begin? I stare at the thing for a solid minute every time I order it, just trying to choose where the fork goes first. I can only compare it to trying to pick a major, or play an "open world" video game.

You are paralyzed by the options.

*It takes, on average, three visits to the restaurant before a person will order the Especial, even with strong recommendations. Once they try it, it's the only thing they get there for a least a year.

Friday, January 9, 2009


All my life people have been telling me to be myself. Teachers, camp councilors, Mr. T, Audioslave, Latawnya*, the list goes on and on.

The logic behind this message is that, by asserting myself as an individual, I won't be tempted into "drinking and smoking drugs" and other such dangers. I guess that's all well and good, but now that I'm well past the age when those things were a concern, I find myself with some serious issues toward the whole "be yourself" philosophy.

Namely, what if "who you really are" is a super-crappy person?

The underlying thesis of those PSA's seems to be that everyone is good on the inside, and they only do bad things because of outside influences. 

So how does that figure in with all the terrible things that people have done? Were all those invasionary wars started because it's what all the cool kids were doing? Were history's ruthless dictators commiting atrocities because they were tricked by some older kids?

No . . . here I think GI Joe would have to concede the point.

"Kids, if being who you are is hurting other people, yourself, or generally bringing negative things into the world, how about you just go be someone else instead? Eh?Sometimes it's ok to care what other people think, if they're good, moral people."

The More You Know

*Cue Star Logo*

*Can I tell you how tempted I am to click the "I'd like to read this book on Kindle" link? 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Random Play-All

-Listening to Stevie Wonder's music can be frustrating, because for every "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" there's an "Overjoyed." (Which is to say, for every really great song he's also got the worst kind of sappy elevator track you can imagine.) And no one gets in your car when you're listening to the good ones either. No, they open the door right as Stevie's talking about "climbing the tower of your heart" or something like that.

-Has anyone noticed that lately all the sandwich places want to sell pizza, and all the pizza places want to sell sandwiches? Are these secretly warring factions, each of them overflowing with anger that someone else is charging for "bread with stuff on it."

-I love it when game designers, desperate to change up the perfectly competent zombie-shooting they've been working on, throw a logic puzzle into the mix. Does that even make sense? I'm sorry, but if I were an evil overlord, I'm not sure I'd trust my secret antidote to one of those slider puzzles that children do.*

Instead, I think I'd probably just walk down to the store, buy a metal padlock with a key, and call it good. Seems like that would keep the hero occupied a lot longer than a jumbled picture of my family crest.

-In comedy duos, such as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, you usually have one guy who acts normal and reasonable while the other guy is all wacky. These two roles are traditionally called the "straight man" and the "comic relief."

It recently came to my attention that I'm the only person I know who's familiar with those terms, which is particularly frustrating while playing a party game that wants me to make people guess one of them.

*Of course, when I bring down a zombie-dog and find that it was carrying (CARRYING, mind you, I guess on some sort of fanny pack since dogs don't exactly have thumbs.) fourteen rounds of shotgun ammo . . . that's not a problem.