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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Official End of Year Report: It's Required...

I think it is a Blog-Law that you are supposed to write an end of year message, just so you can wrap things up into a nice package and people will feel like they have finished a chapter and tomorrow begins a new one. Who knows? Or maybe I'm supposed to wait until the 1st and provide a mission statement for what I expect will happen in the new year.

Regardless, if you are one of the handful (
really, there can't be more than two or three of you who visit daily) that made up the 65,000 hits on this blog, I hope you found the restaurant reviews useful, the pictures of strange things we saw, strange, and my occasional meeting notes from the Homeowners Association meetings informative.

I confess, I have no real format for what content ends up here, though I'm pretty sure there are at least a few cardiologists and fitness experts sending patients to the blog for an example on how not to live. In my defense, you really only see the unhealthy stuff; we actually eat 12 grain bread and lots of fruit and in spite of my girth, I seem to come up with pretty good blood work for the doctors.
Better living through chemistry, I suppose.

At the end of the day, we see about 120-150 hits on the blog, and close to 200 page views everyday. Seriously, you people should get lives. Of course, it is always fun to see what search words bring people from Google to SilverCreek78250, so I'll leave you with a few of those.

Everyone wants to know about Jennifer Broomes' boobs. She is the petite weather lady on News 4 WOAI. Well, they also want to know about Karen Grace' boobs. She is the reporter and weekend anchor from KENS 5 TV. They also like Kim Fischer from WOAI-TV but they don't ask about her boobs.

Lots of people come here for the first time because they share my view that the ending of the movie "No Country for Old Men" really sucked. I'm still getting the occasional e-mail from people trying to make me understand!

This December, we saw a lot of people looking for Christmas Lights, though I confess, they were more interested in Windcrest lights, not so much Silver Creek lights.

And of course, people still can't get enough of the Texas A&M Aggie fan caught eating boogers on live TV at the Alamo Bowl.

And finally, many people stumble upon the page because they are hungry and want to know where to get some catfish, a good burger or some proper BBQ.

If you would like to see all the pictures of food (and who wouldn't?) that don't make it to the page when I talk about a particular restaurant, you are welcome to visit the official Flickr page here. Your mouth may just water.

Whatever it is that made you visit in 2008, Eva and I appreciate the time you took to gawk at our adventures and our lunches, and we hope that you have a wonderful and healthy 2009. As always, I have a running list of small towns, good restaurants and strange places that we need to visit and tell others about. I enjoy the many suggestions we get and hope you will tell me your suggestions.

Dinner Report: Clear Springs...

You already know how I feel about Clear Springs Restaurant; I love the place and am a big fan of the catfish there.You'll like the stuffed animals inside. I looked up from the table and saw this duck and kept thinking of Gilbert Gottfried yelling AFLAC! That could make you ask for a different table.

So my daughter does not eat fish (something about owning a fish tank and not possibly being able to eat one of her friends), but she could not wait to get to Clear Springs for the burger.I wouldn't know. When I go to CS, I have one thing on my mind and that is the catfish. This is what a pound of it looks like.My son went with the Mahi Mahi, or in this case we joked, just the Mahi since it was only one piece.Anyway, we gorged ourselves something fierce and even though I didn't eat the whole pound of fish, my son and son-in-law stepped up to help finish things off. We ate so much that this is what we all looked like afterward! Such a precious little girl.If you haven't tried it, Clear Springs is some good eats!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lunch Report: Lulu's Update...

Okay, okay! We get it, Lulu's has some damn fine Chicken Fried Steak. When my wife and I visited for the first time, we also found out that they don't skimp on the platters. In fact, we had come to the conclusion that you could easily share the CFS between two people, and nobody would go hungry.

So this weekend, with my kids in town for the holidays, we rounded everyone up, put on the ol' eatin' pants and headed down to Lulu's for a gut bustin' lunch. You already know all the details about Lulu's (or if you don't, you can read the reports here and here), but we did find out two new important facts that are worth mentioning.

First, the CFS we had ordered before, you know, the one big enough for two, is apparently called "The Deputy". Well, if you are slightly a bit more hungry, why not order up "The Sheriff" which is what my daughter and son-in-law did, thinking between the two of them they could make quick work of it.
This is "The Deputy". Notice it comes with the sides on the same plate.And this friends, is "The Sheriff" complete with a second plate for the double sides! And no, in case you have to ask; they did not finish it. Not even close.The second thing is something called The Railroad Burger. Last time we visited, I had a bacon cheeseburger that was outstanding. This is big and includes half an avocado! Good stuff.Consider it a public service. Either go really hungry or be sure to have plenty of room in the 'fridge, because you will want to eat it all, sooner or later.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

You Make the Call...

We were on our way to World Market out at The Rim yesterday when we happened upon this guy/gal (I really think it was a gal) at the intersection of Tezel and Guilbeau.What do you think? Hard core UT fan or just someone trying to make a fashion statement?

Oh, while we were out at World Market, we were looking around and I decided to pick up a sampler pack of different beers.
This is what they had to choose from - not very much of a selection for the place being "World" market, in fact, I think you can get a wider choice at some of the HEB's around town. My son inquired about Yuengling, but unfortunately, we have none here in Texas. Whenever I go on a trip to the east coast, that is my brand of choice. What is it, some sort of conspiracy for that whole Coors thing back when you couldn't buy it east of the Mississippi or something?Anyway, these are the beers I picked up. I was looking for something in a Milwaukee's Best Light, but I settled for these. Perhaps I'll sample them on New Years Eve.

Any suggested brands that I need to test out? Oh, but won't make me gassy? That's pretty much a requirement made up by my wife.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dinner Report: The Stockyards...

For several weeks now, my wife and I have been looking for opportunities to visit The Stockyards, primarily a dance hall and saloon arrangement with an, oh by the way, steakhouse tucked neatly into the back. For whatever reason, we just didn't have the time to get over there. This afternoon, our kids were off doing their own thing and we decided to slip in for a late lunch.But when you show up at 3:30 in the afternoon, you'll get no lunch! Even though the Lunch menu on The Stockyards web page has a menu for daily lunch specials until 4pm, apparently, they don't open until 4pm. How convenient! No problem; we are flexible when it comes to eating. So, we did some errands and returned, hungry and ready for some serious steak.

By way of background, the building that houses this restaurant/dance hall/saloon, was originally opened as a restaurant called the Red Barn. The problem was, the place was huge with an enormously wide-open seating area not unlike an elementary school cafeteria. You could hear everyone but the people at your own table due to the crazy acoustics of the place. It was horrible. It was also the place where on our one and only visit, the waitress literally spilled the plate of food on my wife. Oops!
Anyway, the new owners must have realized the space was not used correctly and they instead turned it into a much smaller scale restaurant, and a large scale dance hall. Good plan.You can enter the steakhouse from the side entrance which has a really nice covered patio area. I'm guessing you can sit here and have drinks and wait for your table if the place is busy. Inside, lots of wood and a few TVs in case you need to see a score. I especially liked the large wooden booths that can easily hold a regular family of six or a San Antonio family of four. That's just a little joke there.

When we arrived (the second time) we were still the first people there and in fact, no other patrons joined us until we were already leaving. It could certainly be that we are in the midst of Christmas weekend, but I was surprised at the emptiness of the place, given the fact that Rudy's right next door was totally packed. My wife and I wondered about this quite a bit. What if everyone already knows something bad and we just hadn't gotten the word?
Our waiter was very friendly and suggested starters, perhaps the mushrooms or an onion, but to be honest, we had steak on our minds and didn't want to spoil the experience by being stuffed with fried food ahead of time. He took our drink orders and gave us a minute to look at the menu. By the way, in case you are wondering, iced tea is the same price as draft beer, so my wife had a sweetened iced tea that was very good, and I had a Miller Lite that was slight warmer than room temperature, but it was after all, the same price as the iced tea.We both ordered the house salad with Ranch and it was very good, though certainly on the smallish side. They also give you several pieces of hot wheat bread with some sort of honey drizzled on top of it. That too was very enjoyable.In no time our steaks had arrived. My wife ordered the 7oz sirloin cooked Medium Well and the loaded mashed potatoes as a side. Her steak arrived Well Done, but not so Well Done that she needed to risk sending it back. I'm sure she meant it as a compliment to me, but within her first or second bite, she told me that my steak is as good or better than this. I didn't try her steak but I took a bite of the loaded mashed potatoes and they were okay.I went with a 10 oz Rib Eye cooked medium (anything more is a crime) and I got a baked potato and asked for cheese and sour cream. I know this sounds bad, but I just assumed that butter would have been, well, assumed. Apparently not. Since they charge you 25 cents for each extra thing you put on the baked potato and the choices were cheese, bacon, sour cream or chives, I guess I didn't think I needed to say, "Oh, I'll take some of that free butter with my 50 cents worth of extras."

There was nothing wrong with these steaks; I didn't have to fight it to cut it and it chewed easily. But, technically, it did not taste good to me at all, but perhaps that was just the way they prepared it. I didn't ask for any steak sauce as that may have been offensive especially since there was none present on the tables or anywhere in sight. And by the way, you simply should not have to douse a steak in sauce. The cook can do all the fancy marinating and seasoning ahead of time but the eater of the steak should not be doing any messing around with it once served. I couldn't help thinking how good it might have been on a toasted bun with lots of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce or even slathered with about a pint of the sauce we purchased from Harmon's. But I ate it. And I drank the warm beer. And I ate as much of the dry baked potato as I could get down before running out of warm beer to swallow it with.

I'm not even a huge fan of Rudy's, but it was clear to me why, given the choice, Rudy's was packed and we were sitting alone in The Stockyards. We had great service - and I trust it wasn't simply because we were the only people there, but really, when it comes down to quality and taste, jeez; go to Texas Roadhouse or even Chili's, much less a no kidding steak house, and you'll be a lot happier.

Have you tried The Stockyards and found it to be a great experience? Tell me about it or leave a comment here.

Drive-in Movie Report: Well, Outdoors Anyway...

Okay, are we the only people who actually had the air conditioner running the day after Christmas? I'm not complaining, mind you. I prefer the need to run the AC to cool the place down versus the need to run the heater. I have no qualms about the image of Santa being a fat guy in Bermuda shorts.

And because the weather cooperated, we finally got to make use of my wife's favorite little Christmas present, the Torpedo Dark Room Projector. She has been wanting one of these things for a while and I just kept thinking it would probably be a real waste of money. But, without going into great detail, we tracked one down at Super Target and the box had clearly been opened (a bad sign to me) and the audio cable was missing. Long story short, they sell on E-Bay for as much as $150, we paid $85 at your friendly Super Target.

Now don't get all giddy thinking that you can purchase one of these Torpedo projectors and hook it up as your new 70" wide screen television in your home theater. It is actually a toy for kids (yes, you get it in the toy department), and I'm not quite sure what the life expectancy will be for the bulb. Also, when they say "dark room", they aren't kidding. The day we bought it, we went into a bedroom, aimed it at the white wall and connected it to a DVD player. It wasn't that great at all because even with the curtains shut, it was still somewhat light outside. I just don't want anybody to get any ideas of avoiding the cost of your huge wide screen TV thinking that you'll buy one of these and invite the neighborhood over for the Superbowl.
But my wife had a different idea, and last night we enjoyed our first "drive-in movie night" out on our new deck. We put a white sheet over the railing of the upper deck in order to create a screen and set the projector on a box on the new deck. Instead of using the sound that is built into the projector (it really does sound like an old drive-in) we connected it to the sound system I purchased for my laptop. Awesome!

If you ever recall going to the Mission Drive-in when it was still open (or any drive-in for that matter), there is something different about watching a movie and feeling the slight breeze, hearing the sound of something off in the distance that isn't part of the movie, and occasionally looking up and seeing the stars. It just isn't the same experience as inside a movie theater with obnoxious teens chatting or texting on cell phones or an unruly brat kicking the back of your seat.

We did have one minor irritant; somebody down the street from us must have been having a party because they had on a really crappy boom box turned on pretty high. During quiet parts of the movie we could occasionally hear the high pitched sound of a crackly speaker (not unlike a drive-in movie) tuned to KZEP or maybe KONO. But I guess it would have been rude of me to crank-up the volume on our little sound system to play stereo wars. I would have surely won the battle, but other neighbors may not have enjoyed all the squeaks and beeps and whizzing sounds of Wall-e in full Dolby quality.

Just like the drive-in experience, my daughter brought us some Bill Miller chopped sandwiches, fries and a bucket of iced-tea for us to eat while enjoying the movie. That was always one of my favorite things about packing up the kids to go to the Mission. We would take an ice chest full of beverages and lots of snacks to munch on, though I do recall always going to the snack bar for some pop-corn or maybe a hot dog.

Anyway, I'm not sure how often we'll enjoy a movie on the deck, but it was a nice way to spend a mild winter evening with a slight breeze. And when we were done, we didn't have to wait in along line of cars to get out of the place - we just got up and walked inside. Into the air conditioned house.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Wal Mart Report...

So you can just imagine that when my wife informed me we required a visit to Wal Mart at 3 in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, I might have been hesitant to take part in such a ridiculous maneuver, but in the spirit of, well, Christmas, I grabbed my camera and off we went.The Wal Mart near us was packed. Packed so much that people were actually parked off-road like it was some sort of NASCAR event. Course, I've never been to a NASCAR event, so that may not be a good description. And maybe this is just a Texas thing. The wife says, "Well, Dear, there are no parking spots." The husband says, "The hell you say! This piece of landscaping will do just fine."Anyway, I was shocked; shocked to learn that even Santa has succumbed to the evil Wal Mart. No, I don't think Wal Mart is evil at all but I do think that Santa could at least drive around in a red truck if he is going to do his shopping in broad daylight.

Actually, we drove behind the Wal Mart and came out on the other side by the garden department where there was plenty of parking. Apparently not too many people are purchasing lawn mowers or fertilizer for Christmas this year. And once inside, even though it was clearly crowded, there were no old people being trampled or fisticuffs over flat panel TV's, so really, it was sort of a let down.
Important Note: If you know who is in charge of the lights at the intersection of Westwood Loop (the road that goes from Wal Mart all the way to Alamo Ranch) and Culebra, please inform them that they should put turn signals up. Without a protected turn lane, people are backed up in both directions forever. It is easier to simply go straight across the road and make a U-Turn, which is what I started to do until my wife gave me the Starbucks Signal, letting me know that she was in need.

And with really no fanfare at all we made it safely back to our home and began preparations for Christmas with our kids. Our son is home from Florida and our daughter and son-in-law will fly in tomorrow morning from New Jersey. And we will eat.

Enjoy your Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You Make the Call...

My wife and I stopped in to the Salvation Army store by our neighborhood to look for a computer chair. Not so much a chair that is a computer, but a chair to sit on while using the computer. We have a regular office chair for the computer in the office, but we needed one to use for our laptop upstairs. None of this information is relevant to the story, other than the fact that we were at the Salvation Army store.

So, upon quickly not finding the required computer chair, we made one quick check of the section that has all sorts of odds & ends. You can find an old TV, a deck of playing cards (though not all 52 may be there), or perhaps an ashtray suitable for gift giving. If we're the type of people who will look through people's junk in front of them at a garage sale, why not check it out once they have already donated it?

Anyway, this one little ornament caught my eye which resulted in a slight giggle. My wife looked at me like I was nuts. The item was one of those wind up ceramic things that turns in a circle and music comes from it, similar to a music box. Though I didn't wind it up to test it, I can only assume the song was YMCA or perhaps, In the Navy. By the way, I am particularly good at singing both those songs on Karaoke Night.

Anyway. What my wife saw in this little figurine was a loving grandfather getting a hug from his grandson who was obviously picking him up from the old folks home to take him for an afternoon out at Luby's; perhaps the Luann Platter and some coffee afterward.
What I saw was a wedding cake topper.

You make the call. All I know is, I'm going back and if it is still there, I'm going to purchase that little gem.

Oh, and we ended up purchasing a new chair from Office Depot for $20.00. It is pretty cheap in design but at least we won't have anyone else's ass-sweat on it.


The other night I was flipping through the channels on TV and by chance encountered some sort of concert performance by Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister. You remember Twisted Sister - they had the video that had the teacher pulling the kid by his ear and the teacher was the guy who played Niedermeyer on Animal House?
So I know that as people get older, they tend to gain a little weight. But really, don't people who do live rock concerts get a whole lot of exercise moving around on the stage night after night?

I'm reminded of my Uncle Buzzy who saw me for the first time after I had been in the military for several years, then married with children. I had "grown" significantly. He said, "David, what are they feeding you in Texas?"

Perhaps this guy has found my wife's enchiladas.


Finally, while I am tossing out random notes:

My wife and I passed this car the other day that had an interesting sticker on the back window. I may have mentioned it before, but I have a full collection of pictures I have taken of stickers over the last year or more. I don't know why, but I just need to take the picture when I see something affixed to a car that significantly personalizes the vehicle while lowering the trade-in value.
Anyway, the funny thing about this one was that it was a family car and they had two little girls strapped into car seats in the back. You know what that's called, right? A retirement plan!

Thank you; I'll be here all week.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Late Lunch Report: Chick-A-Lay...

Well, you may call it Chick-Fil-A, but my wife had a little girl in her class who would always call it Chick-a-lay, so that is what we call it.And though I did not camp out for several days in advance to wait for the big opening, my wife was eager to give the new Alamo Ranch Chick-a-lay a try, so we slipped in this afternoon to get the feel of the new place.I don't know if you have noticed, but the place has been packed non-stop (well, except for Sunday) since the opening. The good news is, if you need to catch-up on your religious studies during lunch, they serve reading materials right along with the condiments.

This Chick-fil-A (like others I have been to) strives for outstanding, friendly customer service. It is like going back into a time machine to when the people at McDonald's actually gave a crap about whether or not you enjoy your visit or plan to come back based upon your experience. I tend to shy away from overly friendly people at restaurants because usually it means they have seen me with my camera and are trying to figure out why I keep taking pictures of my food and such, but in the case of these people, it is genuine interest in making the customer happy.
The restaurant staff was non-stop cleaning, asking people if they needed anything, smiling, offering to carry our tray, and more smiling. Very cult-like, but in a good way. I swear, the owners of Chick-a-lay ought to make videos and sell them to places like 'Donald's, Taco Bell and the other people who hire today's youth but fell to properly motivate them into being good service providers.The food is simple. We ordered up some chicken sandwiches (mine on wheat), those waffle fries and an order of nuggets. I'm always concerned about the sandwiches because when you look at it, it is nothing more than a piece of chicken on a bun with a few pickles. The first thing I instinctively think is DRY! So of course, I have to slather on some mayonnaise. Worry not; I have never, ever gotten a piece of chicken from any Chick-a-lay that was not seriously juicy.The nuggets are the same thing, just smaller and no buns. But we did get some honey mustard dipping sauce that was adequate for the occasion.Can someone explain to me the process for making these waffle fries? I mean, they are clearly potatoes, not some made-up substance that appears to be a potato. I just don't know if they have a guy in the back with a little waffle press or what? Anyone?The atmosphere was friendly, the place was clean, the food was as good as we knew it would be, and the service was fast in spite of the large crowd. I suppose it is like any opening where they have all the supervisor types hanging around, so maybe the workers are a little more enthusiastic. Time will tell. But for a tasty chicken sandwich and a good first experience, the AR Chick-Fil-A gets the Tasty Treat.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

HEB Plus Report: Madhouse...

What the hell! Apparently, for some inexplicable reason, everyone decided to go to HEB Plus at the same time my wife and I have historically attended each and every Sunday for the past year or so since it opened on Potranco and 1604. What a bunch of inconsiderate copy cats.

And don't even get me started on how freakin' freezing cold it is out there. On our way to the store, the radio guy said that we had already reached the high temperature of 46 degrees, and that was it; nothing but down hill from there. Hello? It isn't even winter yet, or is it? Anyway, thankfully we are supposed to be back up to 70 or so on Christmas Eve, so at least we won't have to keep the heater on. Two words: Brrrr!

Oh, I should mention that I am horribly ill and yesterday morning, I think the record should clearly show, my wife attempted to kill me by giving me a little something that she promised would make my throat feel better. I'm pretty sure that's what the hangman said as he tightened the noose around the neck of some poor guy on death row.

I have this really terrible scratchy and dry throat that really makes me want to throw-up after one or two good coughs. So my wife says, Here, take this little pill and suck on it for a little while before swallowing it. Then, she leaves the room and if my ears hadn't been ringing so bad, I might have been able to hear her giggling as she left. So, I begin to swirl this little thing called Tessalon or something equally evil sounding, on my tongue and really, it had no taste until about thirty seconds later it sort of exploded in my throat with a really, really horrid taste. Then I swallowed it and my throat began to tighten. I grabbed for a water but I think my throat was too numb and too tight to even swallow.

That was when I began to hyperventilate. Hey, choking is not for the feint of heart. I jumped up to the bathroom to see if I might projectile vomit the stuff from my throat but then it really hit me that I could not breath well enough to give myself the Heimlich maneuver, so I should just relax and try not to breath so hard. After a few minutes, I was able to brush my teeth and strangely enough, my throat felt pretty good.

So this morning when I woke up even sicker than I was yesterday, my wife wanted me to try the same little pill and I rejected the offer completely. Instead, I got up, had some coffee then promptly fell asleep on the recliner watching DVR'd episodes of Monk until about noon.

It was only later that I was able to make our scheduled appointment at HEB Plus, and even, I was forced to do something I never do, and that is open up stuff before I purchase it. But my throat was so dry and sore I had to break into the bag of Ricola cough drops and a box of Kleenex.
What was my wife doing during all this? Samples. I rest my case.


Did I mention it was cold?
This freak decides to put on some sort of snow suit and walk around the store yelling about how Co Co Cooold it is. Look at the little kid just staring at the guy.Now, the freak sees me with my camera and he gives me a look like he would prefer if I were to pay the nice lady with the Official Camera for pictures. Meanwhile, the little kid is still looking at him like he is a freak of nature.And speaking of strange. Can someone explain just what is going on here? I get the mattress. And I even get the mattress with the Santa hat on it. But what exactly is being advertised when you have some Ninja bumping and grinding on the Santa Mattress at the intersection of 1604 & Culebra?

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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