Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Place: Taco Bueno
Lunch: Taco Deluxe (no tomato), Cheeseburger Taco, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Coke

The Cheeseburger Taco is a flour tortilla half-wrapped around a flame-grilled taco-shaped hamburger patty with cheese and special sauce. And tomato, but I always skip those. You can add lettuce and onion upon request. It's...kind of odd. Not bad. Certainly unique.

What's better is Bueno's new Deluxe Taco. It's the normal taco with a new sour cream salsa sauce. The sauce makes all the difference. Brilliant.

It should be a beautiful evening for trick-or-treaters in Wichita (aka "home away from home"...where I am today). Iowans, being the weird know-it-all's they are, hold "beggars night" on the 30th. NO idea why. I had zero trick-or-treaters. Possibly due to the weather. It was nasty out last night, and there didn't appear to be any groups out at all. But the KWCH Eyewitness News (in HD) weather guy is proclaiming a perfect evening for Wichita.

Why does Wichita have a news channel with an actual HD newscast while Des Moines stations can't be bothered? I know, I know...But spending that kind of money might affect the general sales manager's bonus!


WHO-TV occasionally jury rigs in a report shot in HD and even the occasional news promo, and they do have some HD graphic overlay capability they use for sports and weather alerts, but otherwise they and KCCI shoot in anamorphic SD to fill the screen. Or, as I like to call it, "Fake-D".

KWCH is so awesome that they end their weekend newscasts with a dog occupying the fourth news desk chair.

Millie the weather dog.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Full Circle

Place: Hardee's
Lunch: French Dip Thickburger, onion rings, orange Hi-C

Less than ten years ago, Sonic Drive-In debuted their first area location on this very lot. They had to staff people on the frontage to handle the traffic flow. Across the intersection to the northwest sat an abandoned Hardee's, one of ten (out of twelve) locations to have closed in the metro around that time.

Now Hardee's has demolished that very Sonic and built their first new store in the metro in nearly two decades. The lot that used to have the old Hardee's building, itself long since demolished, is now parking for Family Dollar. The new Hardee's is doing a solid amount of business.

We've come full-circle.

Sonic is still in the market, but with only half the stores they originally opened with, and a completely different franchisee.

I can't believe how fast Autumn is flying by. High school football is in the playoffs. Colorado and Utah have snow aplenty already. None here yet, but the holiday Utah trip is just around the corner.

And we'll have it by then too, I'm sure.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blake in the Box

Place: Jack in the Box
Lunch: Bonus Jack, two tacos, and a wild cherry Slurpee I got at 7-Eleven earlier

Made a Texas chili and general supply run today. It was a completely spur-of-the-moment idea. I was halfway there anyway. It hadn't even been considered before 7:30 this morning.

On the way back out of the state, I hit the drive-thru at the Jack in the Box in Sanger. The drive-thru guy gave an extended greeting that I think included the company brand, the city name, his name, and "how may I help you" type stuff. Or something.

I placed my order and waited in line to move around.

A tall lanky kid greeted me at the window. He took my money. I noticed he had a Jack in the Box antenna ball tattoo on his right arm. I assumed it was temporary. Turns out it wasn't.

He pointed out the tattoo. He pointed out all of his company pins on his tie. And along with my food, he handed me a sheet of paper with search terms that lead to stories about him. It also had his work schedule. Then he autographed my receipt. He said something about making people smile.


Meet Blake Cartwright, easily the most enthusiastic Jack in the Box employee I have ever encountered. He's worked for Jack in the Box for eight years here and at the Corinth location (he doesn't work at Corinth anymore because, when he started getting press, the Texas labor board jumped all over him for working too long a work week...or something...) He works two 16-hour shifts per week now...Mon & Sat 2pm-6am. How awesome would that be. Work a long day, sleep a day, work a long day, be off for four days...(No, I don't think this is his only job, but don't tell the labor punks that.)

He never misses work. He has regulars who will call or text in orders if they're in a hurry, and he'll have them ready when they arrive. They can go straight to the window.

He is an unheard-of example of low-wage dedication.

If you're wondering, the "Bonus Jack" is a limited-time only sandwich that apparently used to be on the menu long ago. It's the Jack in the Box take on the Big Boy...a lovely double-decker with a thousand-island like dressing, lettuce, onions, and pickles (yes, actual pickles...not diced pickle mixed in the sauce.)

As double-deckers go, it's a pretty good one.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

You Wanted the Best...You Got...Something Else

Place: smashburger
Lunch: 1/3 lb All-American with egg (no cheese), haystack onions, Dr Pepper

Skinny blonde girl in front of me orders her burger. Counter girl asks "1/3 pound or 1/2 pound?"

"Whichever's smaller," she says.

Boss #25 and I were in here last week. One of the managers walked by and said "Hey! Our regulars!" I guess she was surprised to see her 'regulars' knew each other.

JEEPERS it's windy today.

Kiss released a new album today, which I snagged on the way to work because I've been a Kiss fan since the 6th grade and it's just one of those things one has to do. Kiss is only one of two bands from my teen years I still keep up with, Rush being the other.

Circumstances beyond my control kept me from seeing Kiss live until the Hot in the Shade tour, even though I'd been a fan since Love Gun came out. But I've seen them live twelve times since, so I guess I've caught up.

Kiss's last effort was an album they pretended was made by the original lineup and was largely forgettable. The hype on Kiss's website for the new album ("Sonic Boom", if you were wondering...yes, I also think it's a dumb title) includes reviews from around the industry that have gone as far as to claim this is their best effort since "Rock and Roll Over", a ridiculous statement considering "Rock and Roll Over" isn't exactly one of their best efforts. They've put out several albums better than "Rock and Roll Over" since it came out. I'm assuming the "Rock and Roll Over" comparison keeps happening because the same guy who did the cover art for that album did the cover art for this album.

I'd peg this one as their best album since "Revenge", but keep in mind they've only released two studio albums in between, and one of those was a throwaway project aborted when the original band reunion came together. And just because I say it's their best since "Revenge" doesn't mean it even remotely compares to "Revenge", which was their best album since "Love Gun".

One reviewer said the new album had a "70's feel with 80's sensibility". Pretty accurate statement. Basically, it feels like "Crazy Nights" but with heavier guitars and a more raw feel. And no synthesizers. And no ballads. I suspect they were trying to capture their 'live' feel.

There are riffs that sound strangely familiar (bringing to mind Phil Collins, Head East, even the Rock n Roll Over album, among others)
. As for the songs...Compare "Never Enough" to Patty Smyth's. She may have a lawsuit here. (Smyth's, for the record, is better.) There are three solid tracks ("Modern Day Delilah", "Danger Us", and "Say Yeah") and one decent effort that Tommy Thayer sings, but that one doesn't actually sound like a Kiss song. The rest is the filler some claim doesn't exist.

The CD is being sold exclusively at Walmart for $12 in a package that includes a bonus "greatest hits" CD of several classics re-recorded by the current band (why do bands re-record their classics? That drives me nuts), and a concert DVD from their South American tour. This has become a popular way for old bands to release new material. Journey recently did exactly such a package at Walmart. I would say the overall package as $12 is a good value. Not so much for the M&M's, though.

"M&M's?" you ask...

Walmart is devoting their entire "Music Spotlight" section to band merchandise, including Halloween masks, catalog DVD's, and Kiss M&M's...Collector packages of plain M&M's in Kiss colors with Kiss faces stamped on them. A 7oz package will set you back $6.00. SIX BUCKS for less than half a pound of M&M's.

Anyway, this should tide me over until the latest Tragically Hip CD shows up in the mail, which some are calling "their best since Trouble at the Henhouse", and others...mostly Hip fans who hated Henhouse...are calling "horrible".

I loved Henhouse and don't like their other stuff. So this should be awesome.

I should be dead tired right now. I was wide awake for no reason until at least 2am.

But I'm not.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Place: Chick Fil-A
Lunch: Chicken sandwich, chicken noodle soup, lemonade

So the Iowa Hawkeyes, who defeated number 5 Penn State last week in a stunning example of watching a team collapse, are looking to continue their perfect season at home against the impassable football titans known as the 1 and 2 Arkansas State of the Sun Belt league.

The game starts well for Iowa, with two touchdowns on their first two drives. Then they start thinking about caramel apple milkshakes and give up. Not enough to get behind, but it was a three-point final. Enough to shut up the fan base I'm sure, who are dreaming of a Rose Bowl bid. HA HA HA HA HA HA! Right. See you at the Outback Bowl. Again.

The play that will probably get the most press came in the fourth quarter. Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi threw a picture-perfect pass to Demario Davis, who ran 75 yards for the touchdown. Trouble is...Davis plays for Arkansas State. Oops.

As Davis enters the end zone, this poor kid who will probably never be on this big a stage again does a mid-air somersault for the score in celebration. Flags fly everywhere. "UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT! EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION! EVIL! EVIL! EVIL!"

He goes back to the bench. His coach is SCREAMING at him. The announcers are basically calling him an idiot. A group of Wiccans surround him and chant out a myriad of curses while pelting him with burning insence. His mother grounds him for the rest of the weekend.

How DARE he be excited!

Doesn't he realize football isn't something to be celebrated? That fun is simply not allowed? This is a for-profit business for crying out loud! How DARE he have fun! How dare ANYBODY have fun!

The whole 'excessive celebration' thing just drives me nuts. I'm waiting for the day they no longer allow fans to cheer or boo.

I'm just waiting for the day some college or professional athelete shows up at the press conference after the game and explains what the team has to do to be successful by saying something like "We need to continue to improve and win games so that our fan base will have incentive to spend ridiculous amounts of money on our tickets, re-mortage their homes to pay for a parking space, buy our $10 corn dogs, $50 T-shirts, $100 jerseys, and support our television sponsors. We must maximize our profit potential and overall return to our investors."

Said athelete would probably then be fined for saying that.