Monday, July 27, 2009

Wash Me

Place: Taco Time
Lunch: 2 crispy beef tacos (no tomato), crispy chicken burrito, Coke

Ever have one of those things you need to do but just never get around to?

For, like, a week?

Mine was washing the car. I meant to do it before heading on vacation last week...actually the week before last as of now.

July 16, 2009 - Go to ShortStop to fill up and run through Soaks the Car Wash. Totally forget about Soaks the Car Wash.

July 18, 2009 - Filling up at Maverik in Evanston, WY. Spy the self-car wash next door. Plan to use said self-car wash. Finish filling up, run into store to purchase large soda, run out, leave without washing the car.

July 19, 2009 - Car is rained on. It's a very dirty rain. Poor thing is filthy. Pass dozens of car washes without even thinking about it.

July 21,2009 - Drive to Vegas and back. Look for car washes along the way. Never actually see any.

July 22, 2009 - Notice car is started to be covered in bird poop at Farr West 7-Eleven. Decide to swing by Chevron self-car wash up the highway. Drive by it five minutes later having completely forgotten why.

July 23-24, 2009 - Wake up determined to wash car. Forget the minute I walk out the door.

July 25, 2009 - Drive through heavy downpours in Colorado. Clean rain. Bird poop washes away. Most of the dirt too. Still needs washed though.

July 26, 2009 - I'm so tired and in a bad mood from driving through Nebraska that I just don't care anymore.

July 27, 2009 - Eleven days and seven states later, I finally wash the car.

Now if I could just remember to vacuum it...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Place: Wienerschnitzel
Lunch: 100% Angus chili dog, Sea dog, Pepsi

Yes, Wienerschnitzel has a fish dog now. The picture you're drawing in your head is truly frightening.'s just a long strip of battered deep fried cod served in a hot dog bun with lettuce and tartar sauce. It's quite "der"licious, just as the advertising says.

Wienerschnitzel has jumped on the "Angus" beef bandwagon. Why not...almost all of the hamburger chains have.
The new dogs replaced the "100% beef" dogs option that used to be there. They're a buck premium over the regular dogs, and they're much larger than the all-beef dogs they replaced. They're easily the best dogs Wienerschnitzel has ever offered. Well worth the upgrade.

Then there's Eisenberg hot dogs, which I saw at a theatre concession stand are advertising that they're "Angus" AND "Sirloin".

It's gotten completely ridiculous.

So what's the deal here?

"Angus" refers to a breed of hornless cattle that the American Angus Association promotes as having beef of a higher quality. To be certifed as "certified Angus beef", the beef itself has to meet certain criteria. As far as I can tell, there's nothing special about raising or processing practices of said cattle, unlike organic beef. It's just supposedly better beef.

Some regional chains have been using it for years. Back Yard Burgers and Arctic Circle...who use it in everything, even the cheap small hamburgers...are such examples.

A few years ago when Burger King and McDonald's were beating each other up in a dollar menu war, Hardee's abandoned their entire after-breakfast menu in favor of an Angus beef line of burgers called "Thickburgers".
It may well have saved the Hardee's brand from extinction. Sister chain Carl's Jr went to Angus beef in their "Six Dollar" line.

Success breeds contempt. Burger King rolled out their own Angus offerings (which they've apparently discontinued in favor of their "steakhouse" line), and now McDonald's even has a line. "Angus" has become the darling catch phrase of modern fast food.

It's not just Hardee's/Carl's Jr though. A whole bunch of former regional chains are making national strides by expanding into strip mall space. If you don't have a Fatburger, Five Guys, or Smashburger near you, look for one soon. The traditional players are trying to keep up with the Jonses, as it were.

I can't decipher any difference in taste of the pure patties, and I find nothing out there suggesting Angus or Sirloin patties are any more healthy than anything else out there. Flavor tends to come down to seasoning and cooking practices (ie. 'fried' vs 'charbroiled'). It's ground beef, for crying out loud. Sure it's dressed up...often in better buns with red onions and maybe premium pickles over the regular offerings, but it's really just flashy marketing to identify an alleged 'premium' product.

Then there's Jack in the Box, who are marketing "Sirloin" burgers. Jack in the Box made fun of "Angus" burgers in a couple of commercials that sort of implied "Angus" had something in common with "Anus". Carl's Jr even tried to sue them over it, which just made it funnier.

It all still comes down to taste for me. The Hardee's/Carl's Jr products are pretty good. The McDonald's "Angus" burgers are absolutely dreadful...WAY too heavily seasoned.

I'll take an "Original Freddy" at Freddy's Frozen Custard over all of them any day of the week. And I don't recall seeing anything "Angus" anywhere on the menu board.

As for the hot dogs, Eisenberg claims their product is made with "100% Black Angus sirloin steak and beef cuts" with a "unique recipe of Worcestershire steak seasoning and the Black Angus Franks are then cooked in smokehouses; the old fashioned way." They claim their dogs "do not contain extenders and meat substitutes such as phosphates, monosodium glutamate (MSG), potato starch, and milk solids."

I suppose I should have tried one.

Oh well. How many hot dogs can one eat in a couple of days, anyway?

Don't answer that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Place: Schroeder's Drive-In
Lunch: Double-Decker, Super Deluxe (no tomato), Pepsi

Never ever in the history of the world have I had a burger here that tasted microwaved.

But these do.

If I had a paper and pen with me, I would have dropped a note in the comment box that said "Lose the microwave".

Last night, my favorite band Over the Rhine played a one-off outdoor show with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, covering a few of their tunes, some great American classics, and a couple of unexpected quirky covers. It was an incredible night. Easily the highlight of the summer.

I did a lot of driving this weekend to get to and from this show, part of which required going around Indianapolis. Which prompted me to write this open letter...


Dear City of Indianapolis,

Recently, I approached your city on Interstate 74, heading east. I was greeted by a sign warning of construction on Interstate 465, the loop that circles your city. It advised to expect frequent delays and suggested to use "alternate routes".

My question is this...WHAT alternate routes?

You can't just take 74 through town because it and 465 are one and the same. There's no way to get to the other interstates that go through town without completely navigating the construction you are warning about. The only option for "alternate routes" that I can see is to drop off the freeway system completely and wander around town.

And what's with the speed limit, anyway? In the non-construction areas (where the speed limit is 45 mph), I-74/465 is 55 mph? Why? There's NOTHING around the south loop of town except wide open six-lane interstate, some distant industrial areas, the airport, and the rare "gas-food-lodging" area. It's one of the most boring half-hour drives there is. It feels like you're crawling in comparison to the 70 mph elsewhere in the state.

There's NO reason for that loop to be any less than 65 or even 70 mph. NONE. Except, of course, "revenue enhancement", which seems to be the going theme here.

I find this terribly ironic considering you are a city known for racing.

It's a good thing I only have to pass through a couple times a year.

You suck,



Okay. I feel better now.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Over the Top

Place: Incredible Pizza
Lunch: Buffet, Dr Pepper

Years ago (1992 or so), Radio Shack decided to get in the big box retail business and started a chain called "Incredible Universe". The massive outlets had a centralized entry area with a center court surrounding by what may as well have been mall slots specializing in different things. There was a camera store. A software store. A computer store. A music store. A phone store. A gadget store (in essence, a Radio Shack within a...never mind). In the middle was an entry into a massive television/audio/appliance area...itself the size of today's Best Buy's...with unheard of features at the time like listening rooms and home theater rooms. Then you wound around to a checkstand area where other miscellaneous items were sold.

It was very cool, but they only built a couple dozen of them before shutting it all down.

Still, it was unique and very impressive. Over the top. Even if my cousin and I referred to it as "the Incredible Overglorified Radio Shack".

Incredible Pizza has nothing to do with Incredible Universe, but I sure drew a lot of similarities to them on my first visit today.

It all started a month or two ago when I noticed they were painting the old long-since abandoned Albertson's. Then they started putting up signage. Buffet. Salads. Go-Karts.

An 85,000 square-foot buffet?!?

Turns out Incredible Pizza, a chain out of Missouri, is something of a buffet/indoor theme park. Think Casa Bonita without the waterfall. Cartman would LOVE this place. I don't think they're using all 85,000 square feet the building has to offer, but they're using at least half of it.

You walk in and pay for the buffet and buy a game card (the game card is optional). The game card is a "credit" card you put however much money you want on for games. Instead of tokens or quarters, the games all have card readers. How cool is that.

The "pizza" buffet, a 50's theme in white red and black, is far more extensive than just pizza. You can make a REALLY impressive salad here. They have soups. They have pastas, including lasagna. They have chicken strips. They have country-fried steak strips. They have some sort of mystery meat strip that falls somewhere between a Swedish meatball and meat loaf. They have potatoes, casseroles, all sorts of crap. They have fresh fruit. They have an almost Golden Corral-extensive dessert counter. They have taco fixings with TWO KINDS OF TACO MEAT! Soupy and non-soupy. I love you already.

And they have pizza, of course.

Nobody will credit Incredible Pizza for top-notch quality food. It's average at best, but none of it is bad by any means. It's well worth the price. $5.99, drink included, during lunch. $9.99 for dinner except Friday and Saturday, when you'll pay $10.99. The west side Cici's will hurt because of this place to be sure. Happy Joe's may as well close. Again.

After you fill your plate, you need to choose a dining room. By mean "choose", I mean there's FOUR of them, all themed. There's the "Gymnasium", the "Route 66 diner", a family room theme of some sort (it's the only one I didn't enter), and the "Starlite Drive-In", which is a dark blacklit room with a cheesy yet workable drive-in movie theme. No, you can't drive your car in. Yes, they show movies. "The Parent Trap" is running this afternoon. Oh yes...they also have several private party rooms.

Once you've eaten (and yes, you could make four trips and eat in each dining room if you fact, you can't really save your existing seat if you're alone anyway), it's off to the fairgrounds. This is an arcade room with video games, pinball, games of chance, miniature golf, bumper cars, and a go-kart track (they appear to be electric...they make no noise at all...and don't go very fast). The place is overrun with kids, of course, but anybody is welcome. And everything here could appeal to any age. Imagine your company department being on each other's nerves and settling the score with a trip to the bumper cars. The game rates are all reasonable too. The go-karts are the priciest option at $4.50 for a race. And yes, while you can't take food into the fairgrounds itself, nothing is stopping you from eating a plate, playing some games, and coming back out and eating some more. Totally legal. I'm **not** sure you could come in just for games, though. And kids can't show up under a certain age without adults. I can't remember the age. Actually, why would I care?

The only complaint I have is that they need more pinball machines. There's only one. Video games too, actually. Too much of the fairgounds is devoted to games of chance where you try to win tickets. There's easily space available for more.

But yeah...Pretty cool place.

Very over the top.