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Friday, April 30, 2010

Twenty Five Years of Wedded Bliss...

I returned from Dayton just in time to celebrate with my wife our 25th wedding anniversary.
This has been a productive marriage: two wonderful and successful kids and lots of happy times. Like any marriage, we have had our ups and downs, but what counts is that the good times outweigh the bad. By far.

Say Honey, is Matlock on yet? Just kidding.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dinner Report: The Flying Pizza in Fairborn...

With a Spurs-Mavs playoff game imminent, I needed to grab some take-out for my final night in Dayton.
I had seen this place, The Flying Pizza, right next door to One Eyed Jacks near my hotel. I checked it out on the Google and saw several good reviews.
The place is small. If you stood out front and peered inside, you could watch the pizza guy flinging the pizza dough around. Inside, there is a long skinny hall of booths and not much else.
I read that the Sicilian pizza was the way to go, so I ordered the smallest size which is way more than one person can possibly eat. I thought it might make a good leftover for my flight home.
I got pepperoni and sausage. The sauce includes onion and garlic. The outer crust was really good. It reminded me a bit of Pizza Hut's Pan pizza crust. The pepperoni was good and the sausage was alright. I ate a full piece and admittedly, ate most of the pepperonis and some of the cheese and sausage nuggets.

Did I mention that just next door they sell a very good Reuben sandwich?

The Fox News Censorship Conspiracy...

IMPORTANT NOTE: I don't do politics on this blog so I'm not interested in debating the merits or necessarily lack thereof, of any particular cable news outlet. I will confess that I used to be a news junkie and was happy to watch and listen to talking heads yell at one another for hours. I don't now. In fact, you can ask my wife; I simply don't watch any cable news channels of any particular flavor these days; it is all nonsense to me. Having said that, I don't want anyone censoring my ability to flip through channels and stop here or there to watch something and then move on as I choose. When I travel, I tend to fall asleep with the TV on and inevitably, I wake up at 3AM, flip through the channels until I find some news and then promptly fall back asleep until it is time to get up.

On Tuesday morning, it just so happened that my TV had ended up on Fox News, and it was showing a re-run of O'Reilly (being hosted by Laura Ingraham). I got up, brushed my teeth and started the little coffee pot and began to check my e-mail when the show ended and Fox & Friends morning news show came on, I left the TV on. I haven't seen Fox & Friends in easily two years, but I had no interest in the local Dayton news.

At exactly 6:10AM (EST) the sound on the TV muted. I noticed, but I just thought it was a glitch and I left the room to shave. When the sound never came back on, I thought it was odd but I just switched the TV to another channel and finished getting ready for work.

On Wednesday morning I got up and the TV was on the History Channel or something like that and around 6AM, I switched it over to Fox News. Once again, at exactly 6:10AM, the TV muted. This time, I started messing with the remote. I wondered if I was the victim of some prank. Once again, I switched the channel and of course, the sound on all the other stations was fine. For the remainder of the time before I left, I continued to go back to Fox News, and while the picture was never impacted, the sound was off. Out of 33 channels on my TV, one single channel had become muted at the same time, two days in a row.

During lunch on Wednesday, I met up with a colleague who I found out was staying at the same hotel, the Holiday Inn - Fairborn. I asked him if he by chance had tried to watch Fox & Friends, and he confirmed that while flipping through channels, he also found the sound muted. We joked about the fact that there was probably some anti-Faux-News guy working at the front desk and he was attempting to censor all the conservative hotel visitors. It was good for a laugh and that was about it.

Fast forward to this morning. At precisely 6:10AM, of course I am watching Fox & Friends, when the sound muted. And of course, I just switched channels again and in fact watched Imus (I thought that guy was dead). But after a few minutes, I decided it was time to call the front desk and just ask if this was a common thing.

The guy at the front desk picks up and I ask him if there is some particular issue with Fox News Channel because for some reason, it was muted. I said interestingly, this same thing had happened Tuesday and Wednesday as well. He said that in fact, someone else had called and reported the same problem moments earlier and that he would notify the maintenance staff as soon as they got in.

I took my shower and got out, and switched the TV back to FNC, and guess what; the sound was back on. Clearly, some maintenance had occurred. When I got to work and chatted with my colleague, he told me that when he called down to the front desk, the guy at the front desk suggested that it was his TV and he would alert maintenance. We suspected that when I called, they guy must have figured the gig was up and realized that the problem better get fixed.

Look, like I said before; I couldn't care less about Fox News or any other news channel for that matter, but what I don't need is some little self-appointed censor deciding for me what news is suitable and what news is not. And if tomorrow morning the TV mutes at 6:10AM, I'm going to shoot off an e-mail to the Fox & Friends producers and suggest they contact the front desk at the Holiday Inn for a little live interview. That would be TV worth watching.

Just to be fair and balanced (ahem), perhaps there was some technical issue causing this glitch. It would be interesting to find out if someone who has stayed at this same hotel before has had a similar experience.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dinner Report: Tickets Pub & Eatery in Fairborn...

If you are asking what part of San Antonio Fairborn is in, I should tell you that I'm currently on a short trip to the city of Dayton, OH and Fairborn is a nice community nearby the hotel I am staying at.
Regular reader and commenter FrankVW made a suggestion that I try the wings at a place called Tickets on Main Street. Of course, I did and I am glad for the tip. By the name of the place, I think it is reasonable to assume these days that it must be some sort of sports bar. Instead what I found was a very nice, well appointed pub with an awesome menu to choose from.
I took a seat at the bar, a really long affair where you could expect someone to slide a mug full of beer to Norm, sitting on the end. As a few folks would leave the place, the bartendress said goodbyes knowing their names. How very Cheers-like.
I should point out, and Frank may not be aware of this since it has been years since his last visit, but the demographic at least during my visit was well above middle-aged. So if the lady behind the bar was maybe 30, and I'm 47, I'm guessing the average age in the place was about 85. But they were a young looking 85. May have been the time of day; who knows? Either way, it had the feel of a place you could take your family for dinner and not worry that some liquored up guy was going to bust out a pool cue and start smacking someone. And if he did, you'd just tell Gramps the war was over and to finish his Souvlaki.
Anyway, I'm not complaining. While I waited for my order, I enjoyed a draft Killian's and read an arts paper, Dayton CityPaper.

Of course, I ordered the wings with some bleu cheese dipping sauce. Though I have to tell you, the menu offers some convincing alternatives. The place is heavy on Greek specialties, but I saw a special on Cajun Catfish. If only I had the time...
The reason I don't like places like Buffalo Wild Wings is that they serve up these overcooked, skimpy wings covered in syrup-like flavoring. No thanks. I ordered the medium heat and these were wonderfully large, meaty wings with the perfect flavoring. Of course they were messy, but that's part of the fun. The smallest order is 10. I'm stuffed. Frank mentioned hauling an order of 20 all the way too Alaska; I can understand why.
Oh, but I had to order up some Jalapeno Poppers. Everybody knows that you can't eat wings without some poppers. I realize these things are probably just pulled out of a frozen bag and deep fried, but they really were excellent. No nacho filled business here, actual cream cheese. Yum!
I appreciate the tip, Frank, and might even finish the deal with a scoop of ice cream from Young's Jersey Dairy! In Fairborn and need some wings? Bring a bib and a big appetite and get over to Tickets for a really Tasty Treat!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dinner Report: One Eyed Jacks in Fairborn...

Just a block over from my hotel in Dayton is a mall and loads of eating places to choose from. You can't ask for a better location for convenience. I pulled into a small strip shopping center that seemed to be anchored with a Texas Roadhouse. If all else failed, I had planned to grab a familiar staple to go.
As I was driving through the lot, I caught a glimpse of One Eyed Jacks, a pub with a noticeable sign on the glass: Reubens. That was all I needed to know!

Inside, it looked like a standard pub with the usual signage, beer coolers and taps. I took a seat at the bar and asked if I could get some vittles to go. The bartendress smartly suggested something to drink as I waited, and she offered me a sample of a beer called Great Lakes. A little sweet, but I had a pint while I waited.
Also while I waited, a guy who appeared to be a regular sat at the stool beside mine and began to play some sort of a Find the Difference computer game. You know that cartoon in the Sunday paper where they show two frames of the same picture, only a few items are different? The man's tie is always different, a shoelace is missing or a picture on the wall has appeared. In this game, it featured nekkid women. How cute. And apparently this guy has played the game quite a few times because he was damn good at picking out the differences.

The menu had a full selection of pub favorites - wings, burgers, and such, but I was pretty sure when I came in, I wanted the Reuben. I substituted fries for the batter dipped onion rings (of course) and enjoyed the smoke-free atmosphere while I finished the beer.
I made the short trip back to the hotel and found that the food was wonderfully piping hot. The Reuben was stuffed full! I'm not a huge fan of sauerkraut on hot dogs, but on the Reuben, it just works.
The onion rings are beer battered exactly like I need them. A perfect compliment.
Great service, a nice beer selection and an awesome Reuben, One Eyed Jacks in Fairborn hit the spot with a Tasty Treat.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Smelly Flight...

I used to enjoy traveling every few months for work, but to be honest, airline seats are like the seats at the AT&T Center; not made for those of us over 12 years old. I guess I kid a lot about the fact that I am a heavy fellow, but really, I’m not hugely obese requiring a seat belt extender or the assistance of flight crew with a crow bar to wedge me into my seat; I just have a beer gut – from all the hamburgers I eat.

When I get on a plane, my goal is to have a thin person sitting next to me. It isn’t that I spill over into the next seat, but I’m hoping to avoid a person that will spill over into mine. So when I got onto my flight from San Antonio to Detroit (always a destination of concern considering the propensity for underwear bombers) I was at first relieved to find a very thin woman seated next to me. Unfortunately, the nice young lady had an even thinner 18 month old sitting on her lap. When I use the phrase, “You have got to be shitting me”, I assure you; there is good cause. Kids at that age do two things: Scream and poop.

I don’t talk to people on planes, mostly due to the fact that I don’t talk to people in public unless I know them, and then only if it is awkward not to, but also because once the airplane starts, my hearing simply goes away. Those announcements about the exit rows? Can’t hear a word of it.

But I did make an exception seeing that the little child next to me had a little stuffed bear wearing an Air Force flight suit. I conversed long enough to learn that the child’s father was in training at Lackland and he would be an aircrew member. I offered that my kids were both in the Air Force and that was pretty much when my hearing began to fade.

It is a funny thing about the senses. It seems that as one of our senses leaves us, another becomes more sensitive. So at about ten or eleven thousand feet, that was when I couldn’t hear it, but I could smell that the kid next to me had crapped his pants. Interestingly, I’m guessing the lady that the child was sitting on could have heard a pin drop, because she obviously didn’t recognize the weight, the feel or most obviously, the impressive stench of her son’s nasty diaper. My God, did she feed the kid several bean and chorizo tacos for breakfast?

When my eyes stopped watering, I began to read a book (I’m trying to finish Camille Paglia’s Sex, Art, and American Culture, which I think I have been reading on and off for six months). I kept thinking that the minute the Captain turned off the Fasten Seat belt sign; the mom would go take care of a little diaper action. Then I started to worry that she might change the offending shit-sack on the tray table. Yikes! I lost my place in the book several times contemplating such an action. In the end, the mother simply rocked the kid to sleep and I guess I adjusted to the smell.

As we were approaching Detroit, the child began to stir and this basically rustled the diaper and a new wave of kid poop smell. Yuck. In a way, I was a victim of an underwear bomber, but I guess in this case, it wasn’t exactly the kind I expected.

I’ve been through Detroit several times, but this was the first time I went through the tunnel between concourses. I arrived in Concourse A but departed from Concourse C. This tunnel provides a light and music show as you stroll through. Loved it!

The flight to Dayton had the makings for a bad, bad situation. I was seated next to a guy bigger than me. The man was not fat per se, just huge in the broad shoulder sense. Seriously, I was literally leaning into the aisle because his shoulders extended 6 inches into my side of the armrest. I know what you are thinking; tell that fat ass to get over, but the man was easily in his late 60’s, probably a former member of the NFL and it was obvious that he was just as uncomfortable as I was.

I contemplated a fake heart attack. Hey, it could happen given the number of burgers I eat. As luck would have it, the waitress on our flight recognized the discomfort in our row of seats and she asked me if I would like to move to an empty row toward the rear of the plane. Hell, yes!

Imagine going from the worst possible flight ever, to the most comfortable. Okay, it wasn’t First Class, but I did have my own row.

Unfortunately, my good luck ended upon arrival in Dayton where the plane arrived a full half-hour ahead of schedule, but without any luggage!

At least it smelled okay.

Have you had a smelly flight or an overflowing seat assignment? Leave a comment won't you?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vandals, Little Hats, and BBQ...

Just a few quick notes for a Saturday morning before I start a very busy day.
First, this is the sort of thing that really pisses me off when I see it. We were in WalMart a few days ago and I had some reason to go in the section where they have computer stuff. They have all these laptops on display and some little creeps had pulled the keys off the keyboards on the laptops. Okay, I get it that it is a fairly harmless little prank, but would you buy a floor model that looked like it had been trashed? In my next life, I'd like to come back as an undercover WalMart security guard with a tazer. I'd also have one of those little hat mounted video cameras so I could record all the tazing of little vandals and shoplifters and post the videos on YouTube. The police don't have time to screw around with little brats who do things like this, but I think a well executed tazer would help.
Totally unrelated to the vandals above, I was at HEB getting gas when I spotted this fashionable youth. Of course, I was immediately thinking of Ducky from "Pretty in Pink". Is it the '80's all over again? Do you suppose I would look good in a hat like that? Strange.
Last night I spent the better part of the evening observing (and occasionally assisting) the process of cooking a trailer sized grill full of briskets for our Spring Fling which takes place from 10 to 2PM today, Saturday the 24th of April, 2010. You can buy some brisket on a bun for $3.00.
The briskets were seasoned and covered with brown sugar so they could caramelize, then wrapped in lots of foil and slow cooked for hours and hours. We had a few samples just to be sure they were cooking properly, and they were. Yum!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wooden Nickel Museum Grand Re-Opening: May 15th...

I received an e-mail earlier today from Amanda regarding a post I did back in Nov of 2009 about The Wooden Nickel, the fine folks who make the wooden nickels I leave at restaurants, HEB's and other places we visit in an immature effort to draw readers to the blog. She reports that they will be holding a grand re-opening of the Wooden Nickel Museum on Saturday, the 15th of May 2010.

She writes:
I'm emailing to invite you and your family and readers of your blog to the 7th Annual Wooden Nickel Festival.

It's Saturday, May 15, 2010. This year's festival is going to be bigger and better than previous years. We're holding the grand Re-Opening of the Wooden Nickel Historical Museum and are dedicating the World's Largest Wooden Nickel to the Fisher House. We're going to have food and game booths, a petting zoo, exhibits on Military and Western History and we're holding a raffle to raise money for the Fisher Houses at Ft. Sam and Lackland. We are also donating all proceeds from our "Support Our Troops" merchandise to the local Fisher Houses.

Admission is free. Dedication ceremonies will be held about Noon. It's going to be a lot of fun so we hope you can come out and join us. If you'd like more information, please give us a call.

My wife tells me that we already have an event that we must attend that Saturday, but I am going to try to at least go by early and take some pictures to do a follow-up report. Need more info? Why not call Amanda at the Old Time Wooden Nickel, 210.822.0552 or Toll Free: 800.750.9915.

GNW Spring Fling: Saturday the 24th from 10am-2pm...

A reminder to readers in the local area, our HOA, the Great Northwest Community Improvement Association will be holding a Spring Fling this Saturday, May 24th from 10AM to 2PM at the Lodge of the Great Northwest, 8809 Timberwilde in Silver Creek.

If you live in the GNW, you will want to stop by and visit the tables of the various clubs and organizations that we have. If you actually take time to meet the people behind the A-Team or the OWLS, the Garden Club and the Friends of the Great Northwest Library, you just may find a good group to join in. And, if you feel like complaining about things, you can meet most if not all of the members of the board of directors.

There will also be vendor tables and if you are hungry, you can purchase brisket on a bun with chips for $3.00; not a bad deal at all!

If you are a regular reader and we haven't met before (or even if we have), I sure hope you'll come by and say howdy! I'll be sure to be on my best behavior.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lunch Report: Guillermo's New Location on McCullough...

I reported a while back about a small restaurant downtown called Guillermo's which was located inside the YMCA on St. Mary's. I loved the bread they use. As it turns out, they moved just up the street to an old house converted to restaurant on McCullough just half a block up from St. Mary's. Further, a co-worker of mine told me that the burger there is to die for.
Being that I needed to be in a high powered business type meeting downtown anyway today, there was simply no excuse not to wrap my shirt and tie in napkins and proceed with a test of the Jalapeno Bacon Cheeseburger.
As they say on the Internet: Oh. My. God! Just look at it! The burger comes served on their own focaccia bread baked right there in the the restaurant. That stuff sprinkled all over the top is freshly cut/ground (I'm not sure of the proper cooking nomenclature here) Parmesan cheese. The half-pound Angus beef patty is hand packed and I am only guessing they must have some sort of seasoning in there. The sides include pickles, tomato, onion and lettuce, but all the fancy versions, not the stuff delivered from a fast food supplier. It really is something you could eat with a fork if you thought someone important was watching. In fact, if you didn't feel like adding all the salad fixings on the burger, you would have a pretty descent side-salad. Along with the fries, it was served piping hot.

I had always been a huge fan of Guillermo's salads and sandwiches and frankly, just never thought of trying the burger there. I am here to tell you, this was on the level of Lord's Kitchen, and that is quite a statement coming from me. I may have to hit Lord's one day this week just to reset my burger meter!
If you are downtown and need a serious burger, this is a must visit. Be patient because the place is busy during lunch and you may have to wait. The other thing is, do not under any circumstances attempt to eat this burger without first safeguarding your tie, and I only say that because it is embarrassing enough to spill this goodness on yourself, it is worse to have a room full of onlookers watching you lick the burger from your tie, simply because it is too wonderful to wipe-off. The Bacon-Jalapeno-Cheeseburger at Guillermo's is a Tasty Treat.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dinner Report: Toby Keith's in Bricktown..

On our last evening in OKC, we started to watch a little minor league baseball from the comfort of our hotel room overlooking the AT&T Bricktown Park.
We almost thought about ordering a pizza and just watching the game but of course, we needed to at least go into Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, so we made the short walk.

Inside, the place looks like a huge warehouse full of memorabilia from the road, huge murals and autographed black & white promotional photos from the many stars who have either been or at least donated a picture. I apologize for you not being able to see anything good, but it was dark and I didn't want to walk around and take a bunch of happy snaps with flash as people were trying to eat.

As it turned out, we walked right through the main concert/eating area and were seated in a glassed in patio. My son told us that originally, the patio was open to the river walk area but I guess they decided it would be better to add windows. Good call.
My wife was not all that hungry and she was thinking something along the lines of a kids meal when she ordered a Grilled Cheese plate. Needless to say, she was not expecting two full GC on Texas Toast. It was good enough for her to eat some and transport the remainder back to San Antonio for later consumption. That is quite an accolade for a grilled cheese sandwich, don't ya think?

My son told me that the catfish there was good and opted for a fish sandwich. How awesome is that?
And of course, I wasn't going to pass up on the catfish but I went with the plate including sides of green beans and some black eyed peas. The green beans were very wonderful though the black eyed peas seemed fairly out of the can'ish. The catfish was simply delicious. The breading was almost just a dusting (I think that is a cooking term), with just a hint of seasoning. The fish was very meaty and very good and the generous portion was almost enough to make me get a to-go box, but I prevailed.
As we were leaving, there was a band getting ready to go on stage and entertain the folks and as you would expect, the place was really filling up with people wanting to hear a little music. No actual sighting of Toby Keith, but I'd say the guy puts together a nice little bar & grill. If you find yourself in Bricktown, you'll want to give it a shot.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lunch Report: Earl's Rib Palace, Bricktown...

On our first afternoon in OKC and following a solid gut-stuffing at Pops in Arcadia, my son gave us a tour of Bricktown's version of the San Antonio Riverwalk. You can see pictures over on the Flickr Page. One of the places we walked by, Earl's smelled so incredibly wonderful that we knew we would be coming back for a snack.
Following our visit to the Cowboy and Western Museum, we had developed quite an appetite and decided it was time for a little barbecue goodness. And we hit Earl's just after the lunch rush.

Inside the place, it is your typical cover the walls with stuff to look at formula (which I happen to like) with an emphasis on the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team and their star, Kevin Durant, and of course, upside down UT Longhorns reflecting the fact that the OU Sooners are just a mile or two down the road in Norman. They had a bunch of licence plates on the wall and we noticed that all the Texas plates were upside down as well. It's all in good fun, though as a side note, my son did not take too kindly to the Texas Roadhouse nearby flying the Texas Flag upside down, and we made the appropriate calls to management. You can only take a joke so far!
My wife and I decided Pulled Pork Sammies were the order of the day, though there was some minor confusion with my wife's order. She ended up with the plate versus the sandwich served with some green onions and a piece of Texas Toast (not upside down, but cut in half). She also got a side of some potato salad that didn't work for her but I thought was pretty good.
I got the sandwich with some green beans. Good stuff. The pulled pork was very good and they offered both a mild and a slightly spicier sauce at the table. Don't get me wrong, not San Antonio spicy, but a soothing kick nonetheless. The buns were done right; grilled but still soft and fresh on top.
My son got a local favorite, The Smokestack which is chopped brisket and a hot link topped with Cole slaw (though he took his on the side). Yum! And as usual, he went with the fried okra. It's a vegetable, you know. And by the way, the Cole slaw was delicious.
All pokes at Texas aside, Earl's was a good value, the staff was friendly, the place was clean, and we all enjoyed it. Could you find better in Texas? Of course you could! But don't let that stop you if you happen to be in OKC; Earl's in Bricktown is a Tasty Treat.

About Your Host

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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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