Monday, April 5, 2010

baseball vs. football

Once it became inevitable that the Eagles would be trading quarterback Donovan McNabb, the issue then became one of timing.

And, coincidentally or not, the timing meshed with -- and overshadowed -- the bunting-filled launch of baseball season. To the dismay of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

Asked about the McNabb deal, Selig sounded off, per Mark Viera of the Washington Post. "Goodness gracious, I'm a football fan -- this is Opening Day," Selig said. "If you really want to know I'm going to give you a brutally honest answer. I got up at 5:30 this morning and did my daily workout. And I was watching an unnamed channel and that's all they were talking about. I turned it off, that was my reaction. My goodness gracious."

Apart from the fact that Selig violated the code of baseball elitists purists and openly acknowledged the sport they regard as pro wrestling on grass, Selig broke out a grossly outdated phrase -- twice.

Then again, "goodness gracious" probably is appropriate, since it rose to popularity in the 1960s, the last decade in which

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hey look, another list!!

Let's talk about one of the all time greats. Fajitas.

Legend has it that fajitas were invented in Houston by "Mama" Ninfa Laurenzo in 1971. After her husband died and she faced financial difficulty, Mama Ninfa opened a restaurant. One day, a customer asked her for something special. Mama Ninfa decided to place char-grilled strips of beef, along with grilled onions and peppers, inside a tortilla and serve these along with guacamole, sour cream and all the fixin's. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, whether this story is true or not is largely immaterial. It's a good story. And it's a good segue to our list.

1. Of course, the best fajitas are at the original Ninfas on Navigation Boulevard. None of the other Ninfas are related to this one, and none of the Ninfas are still owned by the original family. But, this one is owned by the son of a woman who worked with Mama Ninfa from the get go.

In essence, these are the best fajitas in the world. People drive from all over Houston to this restaurant, which is somewhat in the hood. All the food is good, and so are the margaritas. But the best reason to come here is for fajitas. There really is no room for discussion on this point. The rest of the places are in no real particular order, but this is number one.

2. El Tiempo. This group of restaurants, including the signature 1308, are owned by the family of the late Mama Ninfa. These are very good fajitas. You can get filet mignon fajitas, if you want to. These are served in a slightly more fancy way and come with a dipping sauce. Don't get me wrong, these are very good. But not quite as good as the original.

3. Lupe Tortillas. Now, in my opinion, Lupe can be a bit hit or miss. These places are PACKED on the weekends. There are too many little kids running around. And the wait can take forever. But these fajitas are great. Perhaps the best part are the tortillas. Just great. I will say that a few times I've had fajitas that were fat too well done. (Meaning burnt). But this is a solid option, especially if it's not a weekend.

4. Cadillac Bar. These fajitas are a bit different. They come with mushrooms and other veggies. There is an option with melted cheese. A little different. But the fajitas are good.

5. Goode Co. Taqueria. Of course, Goode Co. is known more for the BBQ and the pecan pie, but the taqueria is damned good too. If you ask me, the BBQ has gone down hill a bit in recent years. Perhaps I've become spoiled by the food in the BBQ Corridor of Central Texas, but still. Take a little pride. Anyway, back to the topic. These are good solid fajitas. Way better than the salmonela inducing Pappasitos (more on this in a coming post), Goode Co. is always a solid option if you're around Kirby.

6. Guadalajara. This place does not get enough credit. They have good food. And the prices are reasonable. Sure, the fajitas aren't as good as Ninfas, but nobody can compete with those fajitas. Solid option.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hey look, another list!!

You know one of the best part of weekends?

Breakfast. I'm not talking about a bowl of cereal or a granola bar, but a real breakfast.

Calmly and peacefully eaten, likely with coffee, breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, it's the most delicious. With that being said, not all breakfast is created equal. There are certain breakfast superstars. Being in Texas allows some of us access to the real cream of this crop (minus the #1 stunner, so to speak)

We will go in reverse order, for a change. Let's get to the list.

6. Hash browns/tater tots/home fries/any kind of breakfast potato. Maybe because I'm Irish, but breakfast potatoes are clutch. You almost can't have a good breakfast without potatoes.

5. Shrimp omelet. That's an inside joke. I'm sorry, you probably don't get it.

4. Kolaches. I've recently learned that some people don't know what these are. I pity you. Sausage and cheese is the best. And Christie's makes the best. That is all.

3. Brunch. I include this in the broader category of breakfast because this is the first meal of the day. And it's often the last one. Combining lunch and breakfast (two of the top three meals of the day in my opinion [sorry, I couldn't resist that one]) is a great idea. Mix in a blood mary and you're off to a great start.

2. Breakfast Tacos. There is a generic entry. Filled with eggs, cheese and another item, such as chorizo, bacon and or potato and topped with salsa, these little doozies are fan-damn-tastic. If you're close to Washington Avenue in Houston, try out Laredo Tacqueria or El Rey. If you're close to downtown, try Brother's Taqueria. Although you should know they speak NO English there.

1. Chef's Special Omelet at Camelia Grill. Bacon, onions, peppers, french fries, turkey, cheese and chili. It might seem weird if you've never had it but this is the best breakfast in the world. Trust me. The ambiance is great at Camelia, but the food is even better.

If you're absolutely starving, try the pie after you eat. There is virtually no chance you'll be able to do so, but might as well try. You won't eat again till dinner time, but the Chef's Special is too good to pass up.

Note: this used to be an off-the-menu special but is now on the menu front and center.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Welcome to the Freakshow Part 2

Ok, so earlier I blogged about some of the weirdos who live in my apartment complex. I'll reiterate that it's a fine place to live. Not the most glamorous of places but it is a good location. It's been good to me over the years. Anyway, on the the post.

The gym is seemingly the epicenter of the wackos and freaks who live here. I've maintained that for some time. I'll get there in a moment, but let me provide a little background.

Back when Frenchy and Stephen lived in this complex, we used to hang out at their apartment frequently. I'd walk over to the west side of the complex and a good time was had by all. Many of you have been to our parties over there. You can vouch for that.

Anyhoo, soon before they left, this weird, short, old lady moved in to an apartment on that side. She's always look at us (mostly me) in a strange and distrustful way. She'd frequently double back so we wouldn't know which apartment she lived in. I used to double back on her double back just to screw with her paranoid head. Good times, really.

Which brings me to today and the gym. I'm in there trying to do a little cardio. This wacko walks in wearing an overcoat. It must have come from the kids section because it wasn't dragging on the ground and she's at most 4'8". She walks around and cases the joint before deciding what to do. She really gave me the stink eye. It freaked me out. I thought she was going to go nuts and kill all of us with the shotgun she had tucked into her overcoat.

What does she do first? Shed her overcoat to reveal a hoodie. Which then comes off revealing yet another hoodie. I'm thinking to myself, lady, it's 50 degrees. Good lord. 5 shirts is a bit much. I'm wearing shorts. Relax. It's still Houston.

Anyway, after shedding her her three outer layers (kind of like a snake) she decides to clean off one of the leg press machines. She uses the provided sanitary wipes and cleans it off. Then she decides (in a gym full of 4 or 5 guys and her) to change on the the two TVs to Discovery Health. Mind you it was on ESPN.

The guys were all on that side of the gym and watching the end of a college basketball game. Well, the Duchess decides to change it over to some crap about grandmothers in Peru. I'm not even kidding. And flops down and begins to read a magazine. Not exercise. Not share the TV. But sit, read a magazine and monopolize the TV.

The guys all look around and are thinking did that really happen? Well, of course it did. So, me, being somewhat outspoken say (and I actually said this politely [there is a small contingent of you people {no, not those people} who think I'm abrasive at all times. This is simply not true. I certainly can be and I'll admit I've done my fair share and then some of mouth running but I'm capable of being polite and pleasant and spread my share of cheer] "Ma'am, we were watching that. Can you switch it back or change the other TV away from Bravo?"

Well, of course, this lady pretends like she can't hear me. I ask again. Channel 33. No response. I ask a third time. She says she can't hear me. She gets up from the machine she'd been sitting on (not exercising) and asks me if I want to watch channel 23. I say no, 33. I show three fingers on each hand. No avail. Finally, I ask if she'll hand me the remote. She relents. Order is restored.

Now, this isn't meant to be sexist, but if there are 4 or five guys watching sports, you just shouldn't up and change the dang channel. At least ask. That's why there are two TVs. If people are clearly reacting to what's going on in the game, have some sense. They're probably watching and couldn't give two craps about Peruvian abuelas.

Finally, and this got me the worst, was after the other TV was changed to her show, she didn't even look up at it the remaining time I was there. It was on mute and she read her magazine. What the hell is going on over there?

Freak show.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Movies that you like that I think are awful to disappointing

I don't mean that to be combative. I'm just saying that most people like the following movies and I just don't like them. Well, enough of this flim flam. Let's get to the list.

1. Super Bad. Maybe there was just too much hype. Maybe I should have seen it earlier. But I saw this on DVD (and yes, I have it on DVD) soon after it hit stores. I watched with Luke and Jay over Christmas break. They thought it was great. I was so disappointed.

I mean, there were some good lines. But for the most part, I thought it was just not funny. I didn't like Michael Cera's character, or the curly haired kid, or the nerd. Perhaps if I hadn't heard how great the movie was for a year before I saw it, Super Bad would have been funnier to me. But alas, I did and it was not.

2. District 9. When I first saw an ad for this movie, I thought it would be like Independence Day, only with better graphics. I mean, aliens, graphics, and Peter Jackson. And the result was...pure crap.

It's almost like somebody remade Jurassic Park, renamed it "Brian and the Clonoo-saurus" and it ended up being stupid. Plus some really subtle (and by that I mean as subtle as a sledgehammer) political themes about racism and Apartheid.

Now, of course, nobody is pro-Apartheid. And I'm not saying I am. But I don't want to watch a movie about aliens and be reminded of how terrible South Africa's record on human rights is. Call me old fashioned.

3. The Deer Hunter. On paper, a war move, De Niro, the guy who played Freddo and Christopher Walken sounds like a formula for success. And in the end, we're left with a slow, boring and stupid movie. There was only one good scene (di di mao) and most of the movie was about drinking beer. Anybody who says they like this movie and is under 45 should not be trusted to have good taste in movies. Even average taste is movies is out of the question for fans of this movie.

4. Departed. Now, this movie was good. But I thought it could have been an all-time great. Epic (hi Laura) caste, great story, good plot twist potential. All on paper though, unfortunately.

I thought Jack Nicholson mailed this one in. And it really killed the movie. He could have made this movie an all-time great like the Godfather or Godfather II by nailing the role of the head of the organized crime family.

But he was Colonel Jessup, the Joker and the author from As Good as it Gets. In other news, he was the same character he has been since 1989.

Next, it was a little (and by little I mean very) heavy handed. The rat at the end? Was that necessary, Marty? We're not morons, we understand what happened.

The killing at the end? A little too easily wrapped up. Damon killing Jack? Jack being a rat himself? Damon trying to screw over Leo's undercover character? Come on, we see this coming Marty.

In the end, this was a good movie. But it left too much on the table and could have been great or better. Too bad.

5. Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I couldn't even finish the movie it was that bad. Seeing the dude's junk in the first few minutes didn't help anything either. This movie is similar to Super Bad. I just heard so many people say it was so good. Expectations were somewhat high and the movie was just...disappointing.

6. Step Brothers. Now, I like John C. what's his name and Will Farrell. And I like stupid comedy. But this movie was crap. Another movie I couldn't watch. I had to turn off the TV both times I tried to watch it. What was good about this movie? Farrell shouting? I've see him do that ten times before. It's no longer funny. I hope you're saving your money, buddy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh when the Saints go marching in...

Sure, that was a cheesy title, but you'll live. It's also perfectly apt. This is a sports alert for those of you who don't care about sports (this means you, Abbie).

As you're well aware, I'm a huge Texans fan. They are my favorite NFL team, by a long shot. Even though they've been tough to watch at times. And the Longhorns are my favorite football team.

And you're also well aware that I'm a huge fan of all things Texan. Let's face it. You might have a different opinion of Texas than I do, but you're wrong. More on this later.

With the Saints going to the Super Bowl after a stellar game against the Vikings, things are different. (Quick side note: I can't believe how great that game was, considering five of my least favorite [read: most hated] players were involved: Reggie Bush, Brett Favre, Jeremy Shockey, Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen).

Anyway, the Saints going to the Super Bowl is just flat out enormous for the city of New Orleans. Remember, just a few years ago, the Super Dome was leaking and full of people fleeing from Katrina (the Storm, according to people in New Orleans). Now, the Dome is a symbol for redemption and rebuilding.

Now, of course, football is king in Texas. High school football. College football. Two NFL teams. It's all huge in Texas. If the Texans ever make it to the Super Bowl (hell, even the playoffs), Texan fans will go nuts. But it won't compare with what's going on with the Saints.

There is no city that loves one team more than New Orleans absolutely loves the Saints. For so long, the Saints were the only team in town. And they were bad for so long. Sure, there were a few scattered good years, but for the most part, the Saints were the Aints. Yet, the entire city rallied around the team. Not just the football fans, but the ENTIRE CITY.

For nearly the entire season, there wasn't a murder during a Saints game. For a city that is still among the most violent in the United States, that's a telling statistic. The Saints just bring people together.

After the storm, the Saints played an insane game against the Falcons on Monday Night Football. U2 opened the game. Then the Saints blocked a punt for a touchdown early in the game. Listen to the crowd. It was pandemonium.

Sure, it was just one play, but for people who live in New Orleans or love New Orleans, it meant much more. The fans were already in a frenzy, but this sent them over the edge. It seemed like this meant everything would be OK. New Orleans would not only survive, but would thrive once again.

Do you remember where you were when Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans? Do you remember feeling things might never be the same? Do you remember having sad conversations with your friends and family about what could happen? Do you remember having uplifting conversations reliving old memories at the same time? Do you remember taking in refugees? Do you think you'll ever forget that?

Now, do you remember where you were when the Saints made it to the Super Bowl?

Rooting for the Saints isn't the right thing to do because you've been to New Orleans and had a po'boy or a hurricane. Or a beignet or a hand grenade. Or a chili omelet (with cheese) or a Bloody Mary while doing your laundry. Or caught some plastic beads or golden coconut.

Rooting for the Saints means you're rooting for the city of New Orleans to survive and come back stronger than ever.

Having gone to Tulane and grown up to a degree in New Orleans, I'll always have a soft spot for the Saints. The Saints are more than just a football team. They are a symbol for the entire city. More than just a fleur de lis. Rebuilt. Redeemed.

Getting to the Super Bowl means that the city is almost all the way back. Winning the game would mean so much more. Even though the Colts are favored and likely to win, New Orleans is back.

Oh when the Saints...Go Marching in...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

You know what really grinds my gears?

You know what really grinds my gears? People who complain about me not blogging. Hello, I have a real job now. And that job is not writing this nonsense for your amusement.

I'm talking to you, Holly, Michele, Will Hayes, Trey, Jordy, etc. I appreciate you reading and I truly appreciate you wanting to read more, but come on. I can't blog from work anymore, since, you know, I have a real job and can't surf the internet most of the day. In all seriousness, I'm not really mad. This only gives me a jumping off point for this blog post and also gives me a (semi-legitimate) reason/excuse for not blogging more.

You know what else grinds my gears? The new "poppiness" in country music. Country music is only supposed to be about momma, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin' drunk. Not all this whiny crapola that comes on the radio now. I can count on two hands the newer country artists I still like. There are even some older (more established, perhaps) performers who have succumbed to poppy flavor in recent years. Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, etc. I'm talking to you. You are garbage.

You know what else grinds my gears? Two other things, actually, and I'll briefly go into them here. First, people who move their heads constantly while talking. Now, I know I move my hands when I talk. I'll admit. I'm not Italian guy bad, but my hands move when I make emphatic points.

But to move your head like an Alexi Lalas (not sure why I went with Lalas, it just popped into my head as an annoying bobble head guy) bobble head doll is just ridiculous. Stop it. You look like an idiot.

Finally, there is a woman who works where I do. I don't want to say where it is after the other blogging incident at Harris County, but let's just call it the Ralveston Rounty Ristrict Rattorney's Roffice, shall we? This lady, who I've seen walking, parks in a handicapped spot every morning. That's just not right.

There are a few people who work there who need to park close to the building because of their handicaps, and I'm in favor of that. But for a perfectly healthy woman who is just lazy to park there is shameful. And to do it outside the Criminal Justice Center is just flaunting her laziness to a higher degree. She's basically saying I don't give a $hit, give me a ticket, but I'm parking closer to the building than the rest of you suckers.