Monday, October 26, 2009

More Than Meets The Eye

SO UNDER- NEATH the eggs and ketchup and mustard is a Quirch brand Jamaican patty with jerk chicken filling. The grocers around the corner recently started carrying them, along with about seven dozen varieties of "tamale" a month and a half or so ago, with the result that all those schmucks screaming their heads off about the deliterious effects of Mexican and/or Sudamericano immigrants to our country and healthcare system can get frickin' bent.

End message.

The tater tots-- in this case, actually, Ore Ida Tater Crowns, tee em, arrrrrrrrrrrrrr, were inspired by a visit to Denny's. Long story short, we were narrowing down early dining options in the face of a trip out to the countryside for a family event, and after ditching a local on finding it crowded up with churchgoers of the first water of arrogance, we ended up at Denny's for perhaps the last time in living history. I used to like Denny's alot. My kind of place. Reliable, bacon & eggs, a few outlandish offerings, such as the Moons Over My Hammy, which is a ham, egg and cheese monstrosity that is dear to my heart in both the best and worse sense of the phrase, decent coffee, and, something which seems to often go overlooked, reliable entry level employment for a decent wage. (Or so I had word of it years ago; no idea if things within the corporation have changed in the interim.)

About five or six years ago, though, they raised the prices and started on the practice I enjoy refering to as Binge Denial: putting some things on sale to draw in those consumers who have become aware that nine bucks is too much to pay for a middling omlette. We didn't stop going there on that score alone, but it was enough to help us strike that off the menu (he he) on a regular basis. This time, though, I reasoned that I have not been out for eggs in quite a while, and the Grand Slam Breakfast is currently priced at $5.99.

To say I got had would be too much, but I was a little cheesed off by the deception the fine people at Denny's Corporate Drone Warehouse seem to think they have accomplished. The Grand Slam used to be two eggs, two sausage links, two strips of bacon, hash browns, toast, and two pancakes. I seem to think it used to include coffee as well, but that's as may be. The Grand Slam is now four items of your choice from a list of nine or ten, including "better-for-you" items like turkey bacon and egg whites. The result was not bad-- I had eggs, sausage, bacon and pancakes, which was not great for six bucks, but not a complete rip-off either-- but the dumb bastards missed one crucial step. They didn't change the shape of the plates. The pancakes come on their own properly proportioned plate, but the eggs and co came on the same oval plate designed to accomodate the full compliment, with the result that without the hash browns and toast, the rest of the lads looked positively sad and lonely.

But, hey. Now I got my eggs and potatoes. These are not proper hash browns, but they will most certainly do-- most certainly have done, rather, as I have now finished this portion of the meal. And there is yet another side of the experiment: last night we had Chinese take-out for dinner, dumplings and lo mein for me, scallion chicken for the Wifey, and for that meal I started out with the Saranac Black Forest, switching to the Brown Ale when it turned out that the Black Forest really didn't go all that well with the Chinese food. The Black Forest went pretty nicely with the spicy empanada and egg and potatoes, but the Brown Ale-- Shazam! Or, in the words of Dizzy Gillespie, Shoe-Bop-She-Bam, O-Bloog-Y-Mont!

The movie of the weekend, or, more precisely, the Saturday Night Weekend Movie was NOT Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. We made it through maybe twenty minutes of it, the first ten or twelve of which was CGI'd robots doing stuff, before we got to the going-off-to-college subplot, and then the uptight Mom eats pot brownies sub-subplot, before the Wifey began to feel her brain imploding. I was happy enough to turn the damned thing off at that point. While it might have been easy enough to appreciate Julie White's shrill schene chewery for a minute or two, after three or four, it just felt insulting.

No wonder Shia LeBouf drinks.

I can't say I recommend the Jamaican patty. I love it, but it is a very . . . singular sort of thing, I guess is what I mean to say. I came to it from several angles, initially, and I don't know that it is the sort of thing that could be leaped upon without truamatic results. But the strategic placement of a few blobs of ketchup for swabbing the tots in did bring to mind one of my favorite Kids In The Hall sketches, so I brought it up just so I could link to that. The Transformers franchise can go to hell. We watched the first one in the theater, which was fun enough just for being able to shoot "What the HELL are we thinking?" grins back and forth with the other patrons in the packed house. But after that, frankly, I'd just as soon get kicked in the shins.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Whattsa Schmatta U

NOW LOOK. I love New York as much as anybody. Which is to say I probably love it more than I ought to. I do, in fact, know a coupla people who don't love New York. One because he grew up there and spent a substantial amount of his adult life there, and I guess that can make you see the negatives in starker relief than is strictly healthy for holding romantic notions of the place. The other because, as near as I can tell, he's an idiot. But that's kind of beside the point.

The point, if I have one, and I am not entirely sure I do, is I love New York. The City. Manhattan. The clear inspiration for today's lunch, an Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions. (Back to construction in a moment.) The first one of these I had at the North Carolina State Fair, Road Company, when they were encamped at the local fairgrounds right outside Charlotte when I was seven or eight. They called it a Coney Island. It was good. The second one I had off a cart in New York, down in the Battery if memory serves. It was way better. Not just because it was in New York. The Metrolina Fairgrounds tends to cheapen any experience, especially food experiences, since the whole place smells like garbage. (Yeah, I know. But this was in the Battery, or at least someplace at the South end of the island, and far enough from the Fulton Fish Market-- still open in those days-- that the breeze off the harbor was all you really smelled.) The sausage was better, the peppers and onions were better, the bun was better, and the whole combination was just better.

The third one I had was in Philadelphia. It was just wrong.

For this one, the sausage is an Italian flavored with green peppers and onions the local Harris Teeter features. The onion is white, the pepper is yellow, and yes, of course, there's a drizzel of my beloved Plochman's yellow mustard. On top is a mixed layer of cheddar and provalone, which worked out even better than I imagined: buttery and sharp and velvety, providing a wonderful counterpoint to the rest of the sandwich. Part of the magic of this, I think, is that it si a bundle of near contradictions: the peppers and onion are sweet and squishy, the sausage is savory and chewy, the bun is starchy and slightly crisp (and chewy in precisely the way the sausage is not). Balanced against all that, the cheese layer makes perfect sense.

The movie of the day is this.

I had been meaning to watch this a coupla different times, but both times I came in late enough that I felt like waiting for the next opportunity. (And hey, let's face it: it's an HBO doc project, it's gonna play until their mathematical model shows every man, woman and child in America has had a chance to see it.) Today was that day. It happened to come on right about the time I had completed the day's early tasks and was ready to start lunch. And it proved to be just about exactly what I was hoping for: a healthy mix of New York porn and worker's rights history. A bit pendantic in spots, but not so bad as you'd notice if you were not looking for it-- and clearly I was.

I did have a hard time watching the transitional bits going into the fourth quarter, where the elephant in the room no one wanted to mention by name is fact that you cannot make a profit manufacturing clothes unless your workers are making, and eating, dirt. This was also the point where the filmmakers seemed to assume their audience would either appreciate the snarky contrast in the sweatshop conditions under which the clothes of celebrity-whore designers are produced, or else simply not care. I am probably reading that wrong, but I did get kind of a squirmy feeling at that point. In the end, they did seem to be awfully on the side of the textile set: pay for your clothes, people! Screw Wal-Mart!

So do I recommend it? Hard to say. I started out wearing my black Gotham Girls Roller Derby tee shirt, which no doubt helped jump start my New York nostalgia, but I do think that the sausage monster was more than satisfactory, just short of illuminating, in fact. Saranac Lager was probably the perfect match for it too. The HBO joint is probably not much you don't already know if you know anything about the history and current state of the designer textile industry-- or if you have any affinity for New York immigrant clans, for that matter. And there were some bitchin' streetscape shots too. Which might not matter. I mean, if, say, you grew up there. Or if you're an idiot.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Smart Dog

That was going to be the entire post, but as the hours ticked by I found I had more to say.

Fall is here, which in my part of North Carolina typically happens in a stuttered gathering of days, alternately unseasonably warm and gray and cold and wet and thoroughly unpredictable. The weather reports have an almost Kafkaesque, nay, Beckettian sense of irony to them. This year I let myself go and cheerfully bemoan our meteorologists' missed guesses as out and out cruelty, evil dissembling to no end save my individual suffering. One result of Fall's arrival is the annual decanting of the bed covering known in our house as The Chocolate Mousse (or Chocolate Moose, depending on mood and inflection), a synthetic down comforter I bought my wife for Christmas one year. It is so known for it's color and texture, which are respectively deep brown and marvelously, to use my wife's terminology for lack of a more wonderful descriptive, "squishy." The Dog has used her innate genius to find the best place in the house to spend the earlier portions of a cold Fall morning: my side of the bed, beneath the Chocolate Moose, shortly after my own willing evacuation from the spot.

Smart dog.

Fall also means I have brought out my beloved leather bomber jacket. I bought it many years ago, on sale, when I found it, and I have yet to see it's equal since. Everything about it-- color, texture, utility-- I love, to the extent that I usually put it away long after the season has called for it and pull it out much before it's required use. This season the mixture of rain and cold snap upon cold snap has proven my jacket's utility to a great degree, and so far it has only spent a small part of a single day in the trunk of a car, the day's warmth having robbed it of it's usefulness.

The leather jacket does not have a name, which is a bit odd for my household. It's The Leather Jacket. What else would there be to say?

Today the weather is bright and crisp and cold and clear, the low temperature for the morning setting a record at two degrees below freezing, predicted high of sixty-four, and we're nearly there already. Shortly I will be lunching, and then heading out to have my eyes examined, which, with any luck, means I will have a new pair of glasses for the trip we have planned for New York City next month. (Or if not, that will be just fine too.) My point is: my world is beautiful today, and I am grateful for it.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Put 'em In A Room Together And Let 'em Fight It Out

SO TODAY's lunch is grilled turkey and bacon on rye with mustard and three cheeses-- white American, provalone and cheddar-- largely because I wanted to use the last of the package of provalone before it went bad, and because I wanted to get closer to opening a new package of white American. It was going to be a turkey and bacon on rye with dill havarti, but the local Harris Teeter had but a single brand of the stuff, which I tought to be both over-priced and inferior in texture. So I settled on some sharp cheddar, which I have recently discovered-- referrence the previous incarnations of the grilled tuna salad on rye-- go remarkably well with grilled rye bread. Or say re-discovered, I suppose. It should come to no revelation to anyone who has previously dined on the American oddity know and the patty melt.

The revalatory element here is the ketchup sans hot sauce. No. The revalatory element here is the combination of beers. Never mind how I came about aquiring the Longhammer IPA; following it with the Saranac IPA was just astounding. The Longhammer has, as I have previously noted, a lovely, elegant, flowery high hop note, and the Saranac after was absolutely bold by comparison. The combination was just grand, stunning.

The film of the day was Appaloosa.


It was recommended to me by the friendly neighborhood mailman, if memory serves; I had seen a good five minute stretch or so awhile back, concluding that this was something I ought to see in whole. So today I happened to stumble on it right before it kicked off, two o'clock, smack dab in the middle of lunch, so I tuned it in.

Eh. It's a morality play. Bob Parker plays ducks 'n' drakes with the mythology of the old West to answer the immortal question: just what makes a hero not an asshole? And if she's "purty," is any woman ever really an asshole, really? HAH!? In this sense it is also very much an Ed Harris flim*: all heroes are ultimately flawed. See!?! Pollack? Flawed. Beethoven? Flawed. Old West Justice? Flawed. Nicely written though; Vigo gets some really choice lines especially. And everyone in it acquits him/herself nicely. Still, pretty much seen what it has to offer, and, as near as I can tell, anything it has to offer that I have not seen already is pretty much all bullshit. Damn those Indians! They are so noble and so savage!!!**

PS: The title of this post comes from a Stephen Wright gag: "For Christmas I got both a humidifier AND a dE-humidifier. So I put 'em both in the same room together and let 'em fight it out."

PPS: and then about 3/4 of the way through, the HBO service cut out. Since the Wifey works for the cable monster, we get a gabazillion channels, so I often feel I have no real right to complain on those rainy days when the cable service goes all futzy and half to 80% of the movie channels are not available or just plain go blank. It came back after a few minutes. I didn't seem to have missed much of anything.

*Intentional. Partially based on a series of typo-derived gags Doc Nagel and I have developed over the years, same way a work in progress, rather than being a poem, is a pram. Both of these actually derive from Monty Python gags.

**SARCASM!!! You can either waste two hours watching the thing to see what I mean by that or take my word that it's funny. Taking my word may be the less painful way to go, paradoxical as that might sound.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Tuna Melt

SORRY about that last outburst. It's just that people who hate America piss me off. If they hate the place so much, they ought to just leave.

This, on the other hand, makes me very happy. This is a grilled tuna salad on rye with white American and standard cheddar cheese. The tuna salad itself is heavy on mustard, both Plochman's yellow and Chinese process, and celtic sea salt and cracked black and green peppercorn. It was just an amazing combination. Oh, and the fries were supplemented by the standard ketchup-- Heinz, there is no other-- spiked with two kinds of hot sauce, a concoction which has come to be known, in our household, as kethchupo!

(Gotta have the exclamation point, there's just no other way.)

THIS, on the other hand, makes me very happy indeed. New strings do make me happy, as any long-time reader would know, but the package in the center makes me absolutely giddy. What you are seeing there is a GROSS of Fender medium gauge confetti guitar picks. A couplathree years ago I decided that I go through these things at a great enough rate that I could easily justify buying them by the dozen (which come in a container designated "clamshell") because of its design. But on going to to order strings, I found they were selling them by the gross rather than by the dozen.

So, on confabing with the Wifey, who reasoned that I would be good on picks for life, I ordered them.

There was a brief period of slight consternation, when it dawned on me that my order confirmation specified that I had requested, and was being sent, a gross of Fender medium confetti guitar picks (clamshell).

Was I getting a gross of packages of twelve? Was I getting a DOZEN GROSS of guitar picks!?! Ye Gads, man! Has the world gone MAD!?!

But that was just wishful thinking. What I got was a gross of picks in a clamshell container, which is actually rather stunningly beautiful. Or at least I think so.

But what makes me happier even than those is the casual result of Gracie, my Takamine jumbo 12 string, needing a truss rod adjustment. In order to accomplish this task, it was necessary to remove all her strings, with the result that I had the opportunity to dust and polish her head stock, something I had yet to do in the five years I have owned her.

Shiny shiny. That lump you see reflected above, behind and to the left of the digital camera lens is my noggin. Shiny as the day I brought her home from the music store. (Gracie's head stock, not my noggin.)

It's good to have distractions.

Have a great weekend.

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