Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Top Burgers in Houston

After this Memorial Day's BBQ with three different kinds of hamburgers (with credit to Leighton and Wes, we made "Hometown, H-town, Get Down burgers (also called "regular" but where is the fun in that?), Chimichurri burgers, and B-4 Bacon and Blue Cheese Bunker Buster Burgers) I got to thinking about some of the best burgers in Houston. This is in no particular order, and if you know if an unlisted place, please pass it on in the comments.

1. Christian's Tailgate. These are big, greasy and delicious burgers. I like to add grilled jalapenos to mine for that extra little kick. Additional points for onion rings. Points deducted for karaoke contests, terrible weekend parking, and lots of Cougar High (University of Houston undergrad) students.

2. Lankford Grocery. This place is relatively new to me, but has been a Houston tradition for many years. Even though they are only open until 3 pm and closed completely on Sundays, you need to try one of the Fire House Burgers. Jalapenos, extra hot mustard and a home made habanero sauce that will literally make you cry. It's incredible. But you will cry. And it's worth it. Extra points for charm and tater tots, not to mention clientele. Without a doubt, I was one of the smallest people in the entire restaurant when I went for the first time.

3. Pappas Brother's Burgers. These are huge burgers. Very juicy, very tasty. Points deducted for cost (not cheap), terrible fries and huge crowds at peak times. Still, a good burger.

4. Hub Cap Grille. A tiny place in down town that is cash only, the Hub Cap Grille is simply great. They have good fries, and even better sweet potato fries. Extra points added for home made buns. One of the best burgers I've ever had, let alone in Houston.

5. Smash Burger. A lot of people say a lot of good things about Smash Burger. It's pretty good. But it's not great. The fries come in a number of options and the gourmet version with olive oil and rosemary is good. But the burger was only pretty good. I'm not saying it was bad, but it was far from great. I feel like burgers are like hot wings. It is not hard to make a decent one, but, despite the simplicity, is difficult to make an exceptional one. Smash Burger was good, not great. The smash sauce, incidentally, tasted a lot like Thousand Island dressing and Tabasco.

6. Onion Creek, Dry Creek and Cedar Creek. All these burger joints are owned by the same people, so I've included them in one listing. The places create an Austin feel and the burger are good. Much like Smash Burger, they are short of great. But the turkey burger with guacamole is a highlight.

7. Max's Wine Dive, despite its cost, has a great Kobe Beef Burger. Its around $25, but its incredible. Everything on the plate is top notch. Fries, burgers, sauces, cheese, grilled onions and on and on. It's hard to believe, but this is worth the price. It's as good as a steak. Good thing, because it costs as much as one.

8. Barnaby's. I'm including the one on West Grey close to Taft and not the others simply because I've only been to this one, but the burgers are very good. The only problem is that there are so many other options, such as Fattoush, that I rarely get the burger there. Bonus points for stimulus brownies. If you don't know what that is, until the Dow hits 11,000, brownie sundaes are one dollar. Major bonus points.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome to the freakshow...

There are many positive aspects about the apartment complex in which I live. It's close to school and work. There are plenty of things to do around this part of town. A good number of fellow law students live in the complex and other friends live in the area. But there are some drawbacks. There is a fire station across Washington Avenue and from time to time the sirens wake me up. There are also a number of complete nutjobs who deserve special mention. These people aren't necessarily a drawback or a negative. To be fair, they do make me laugh, even if I try not to laugh in their faces for obvious reasons.

1. Wetsuit guy. This gent walks from across the complex in a wetsuit and flippers to the pool, where he swims countless laps. Now, there is nothing all that weird about swimming in a pool in Houston during the summer in a wetsuit. Well, there is something weird about it. But walking a few hundred yards to do that is just a bit off.

2. Sweater jogger. Another one of the residents of Archstone is a guy who runs in a sweater. No, not one you can buy at a store, but an all-natural man sweater. Front and back. Full length. Ironically, he's bald as a cue ball.

3. Computer in the gym guy. There is a guy who wears jeans to the gym, charges his cell phone and plays on the internet on this computer. He sits on one of the weight machines, but does not work out. He also changes the channel on the second television to whatever is on the first one and turns the volume way up. I don't get it. Maybe he doesn't have tv or internet in his apartment? Maybe he's just a weirdo? It could be both.

4. Another one of the winners from the gym, it's argyle socks guy. This little guy wears argyle socks with his New Balance shoes in the gym. He doesn't really work out much, but he does try to spit game at every girl in the gym. He clearly has no shame, as I've seen girls laugh at him with little to no deterrent effect. All the while wearing mid calf high argyle socks.

5. There is the girl who lives here who is having an affair with a guy who does not live here. No names will be used, as nearly all of the people who know these two know they are having an affair. That is, everyone except for the guy's wife. It's pretty funny to see them in the parking lot, only to see people they know try to greet them awkwardly and then try to slip away. Hilarious.

6. There is the guy who has a full sized stuffed bob cat on his coffee table, which is right next to his front window. Pretty startling at night, trust me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

another tip on procrastination

This is another hilarious website with people's funny and awkward and even terrifying family photos. For all I can tell, it appears to be real photos. It's both funny and sad. This is not safe for work, unless your job allows walrus junk photos. You read that correctly. The comments are equally funny and from what I've read so far, not all that offensive. Of course, I also don't think Jeremy Hall is offensive while most of America does. So, there's that.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recap of an EPIC wedding weekend

First of all, congratulations to Laura (aka legal beagle) and Rob on their marriage. The wedding was unbelievable. Great food, great location, and great dancing (from mostly everyone) and some terrible dancing (hint: me) in Newport, Rhode Island this weekend. All in all, as a break between finals and Bar Bri, this could not have been more perfect. A lot of old friends were able to catch up and have a great time. Here is a quick recap, in bullet form, of an epic (copyright Laura Nicholson-Proccacanti [spelling]) weekend.

  • Quickly, the food was incredible at the wedding. The sushi bar was very good, the dinner itself was very good, the cake was good, and there was a candy bar. Basically, everyone could fill bags with different kinds of candy. The only drawback emerged when everyone (read: started by Will Yester) tried to throw candy into people's drinks (read: threw candy all over the place, including the hotel room). There may or may not (read: most certainly may) have been Reese's Pieces all over room 205.
  • At the end of the night, more food was served, including Mini Sirloin Burgers (not from Jack in the Box) and they were very good.
  • One of the flights, there was a stand by passenger named Dick Burns.
  • After the rehearsal dinner, we were all able to watch the Rockets victory in Game 6. Yes, I realize they lost in Game 7, but it was a great game for the Rockets. Some of the fans (read: instigated by me) were chanting "Houston" (clap clap) "Rockets" over and over.
  • On the way to Rhode Island, we stopped for a hot dog at a place in the Detroit Airport. They were not very good. Sadly, when I returned to Detroit for my connection back to Houston, the only place open around my gate was the same hot dog place. All I wanted was a Diet Coke. All I heard (while ordering my drink) was two monstrously obese female employees discuss why they don't like hot dogs but like sausages (it was a euphemism for male genitals). These rocket scientists assumed nobody was able to crack their code and loudly discussed the topic further. I was horribly offended. It was gross. Let's move on. I'll just add "Stay classy Detroit."
  • On the flight from Detroit to Rhode Island, I was lucky enough to sit next to a woman who had never flown before. She was a nervous and chatty passenger. Even when I wore both headphones, she proceeded to tell me her entire life story. I now know more about this woman than I do any other person in the world. All I can take away from this is that this woman was nowhere as obscene as the women giving etiquette lessons at the hot dog stand.
  • After the wedding, some of us including a fish named Betsy, Jacki, Paula and I wrapped what we hoped was the groom's car. We were able to "convince" people at the front desk to give us toilet paper, shaving cream, and tooth paste with which we covered what we thought was Rob's car. Thankfully, we were correct. That was fun.
  • We sat outside eating some clam chowder and, within 10 minutes, saw a fog roll over the city and blanket Newport in a thick fog. It was both a downer and impressive at the same time.
  • Whoever that handsome devil in the striking red tie that read the Prayer of the Faithful at the wedding did an incredible job. In my opinion. Especially considering he had only been given a copy of the prayer minutes before the ceremony began. Props.
  • The day after the wedding, those of us who remained in Newport went on a cliff walk along the Atlantic Ocean. We saw some very historic and famous mansions in Newport. Thankfully, Jeremy knew a lot about them and was able to educate the rest of us. For example, we all saw the mansion in which Andrew Carnegie murdered his mixed race butler. That is according to Jeremy Eric Hall, in case anyone from that Carnegie family reads this blog and wants to sue him. I'm not saying what he said is true or not, but that's what he said. Jeremy also told us the original Blarney Stone was housed in one of the other mansions. There were a few other stories he told us, but they are simply not safe for a family friendly blog such as this.
  • We saw a sail boat crashed upon the rocks next to the cliffs. There were two tugboats trying to save the ship. The mast broke. It was pretty surreal.
  • We met a girl who was so annoying and dumb we were texting each other about it while talking to her. I think we decided on calling her Talking McStupiderson, or T-Mac for short.
All in all, an incredible weekend. I'm keeping some of the stories and shenanigans off the internet just in case anyone who was there ever decides to run for office. Just kidding. Not really.

This Just In...

The Houston Rockets season official ends today, even before tip off. Why, you ask, is the season over before game 7 is even played today in LA? Because the NBA assigned Joey Crawford to referee the game. Crawford, who somehow always ends up reffing games where the home team must win because it is a media darling, is guaranteed to make countless shady calls against the Rockets and in favor of Kobe (the rapist. allegedly) and the Lakers.

I realize this is not a sports blog, but it's important to me. I officially hate the NBA now. It's dead to me. I'm now glad I will be on a plane and will miss game 7.

Photo Caption: The NBA. Where corruption happens.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tips for Procrastinating

So, if you're like me, and are nearly done with law school (hold your applause, please, until everyone is done), studying with finals is getting more and more difficult. Breaks arrive more frequently and last longer. It's ok, as long as you are saving your effort for the upcoming bar exam. That's how I look at it, anyway.

Also, if you're looking to waste a little time at work or just in general, the Internet is a heckuva place to go. There are a number of websites that are tremendously helpful in "spending" time on "breaks." Of course, there is Facebook, Youtube, and the usual sites. But, there are a few new ones I'd like to pass along. If you've already heard of them, good for you. It's not a race. Anyway, on to the list. I'll be sure to mention which ones are safe for work and which ones are not.

1. This is NOT safe for work, but is hilarious. Basically, people send in their stupid text messages and those from their friends. Many of them are "crude" and "off color" but are pretty darn funny. Enjoy this one at home.

2. This is one not quite as new, but there is an iPhone app for it. FML, as people call it, allows people to send in their embarrassing, stupid and awkward moments. Again, some are fairly crude and gross and this is also NOT safe for work. But it is funny.

3. This is safe for work, as far as I was able to tell. This has photos, videos, etc. of people at their most embarrassing, painful and stupid. So, to answer your question, it is hilarious.

4. This is safe for work, also. It's essentially a huge site full of different quizzes in categories such as sports, politics, movies, etc. Each of the quizzes is timed and you can compete against your friends. You know, if you enjoy competing in every aspect of life. Especially trivial things on the Internet.

5. WebMD. As I'm writing this, I heard on TV that Yao Ming is out for the playoffs with a hair line fracture in his foot. I figured since he was genetically engineered in China he would not break down every year, but apparently things made in China don't last like they should. This is still somehow Tracy McGrady's fault.

If you have any other websites I or people like me need to know about, pass it along in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What I want to be when I grow up (alternate reality)

In an effort to make this blog more interactive, consider the following hypothetical. Let me stress that this is merely a hypothetical and in no way is reality.

So, let's just say,again, hypothetically, this whole law thing doesn't work out. Granted, I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little kid. I've been defending my brother since he was born, practically. People say that they've never seen a kid get away with more shenanigans, but, hey, he had a good lawyer. And isn't that what our justice system is about? Getting away with stuff because you have a good lawyer. What's that? Equality? Justice is blind? She might be blind, but she knows rich people don't commit crimes.

Anyway, back to my point. If I could not be a lawyer, and were forced to enter another profession, I think I would become a chef.

I also realize that this is the last week of finals and law school and perhaps a strange time to think about what I would be if I weren't a lawyer, but Will McMillan keeps telling me he's going to win the lottery and what we won't have to work for a living and that I could be his chef. Wow, I really have procrastinated enough today. Back to Family Law.

What would you be in an alternate reality?

Movies you just need to know

Now, I realize I've spent (wasted, as my self-appointed "funny side kick" would say) a great deal of my life watching, memorizing (unintentionally) and quoting movies, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Family Guy, etc. I wish I could quote literature, poetry and things of the like. But, I can't do that. I've made my peace with it.

Anyway. There are a number of movies that people of this generation just need to be able to say the next line, or another line in the movie, at least recognize the movie. That is the hierarchy. If you can't even recognize the movie, you should be ashamed. Here is how this works. The situation and the movie that works with it. If you have an suggestions, please leave them in the comments. They are always much appreciated.

1. If something smells bad, you must quote Anchorman. You must say "It's a formidable scent. It stings the nostrils. I'm gonna be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline."

2. Bowling. Any time you're bowling and somebody steps over the line, or even if they don't, you should quote The Big Lebowski. "Over the line. I'm sorry Smokey. You were over the line, that's a foul."

3. Baseball. Any time somebody hits a home run, you must quote Major League. "Too high. What do you mean too high? Who cares? It's gone."

4. If you see somebody wearing a shirt with no sleeves in a situation that calls for sleeves, you again go to Major League. "Okay Vaughn. They say you're a pitcher, you're sure not much of a dresser. We wear caps and sleeves on this level, son."

5. Golf. If you're playing golf, Caddy Shack must be quoted. "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greens keeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"

Another option is "So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice. "

6. If somebody is unable to make up their mind about what to eat, you can go to Caddy Shack once again. "I want a hamburger... no, a cheeseburger. I want a hot dog. I want a milkshake...You will get nothing and like it!"

7. If somebody is going to the grocery store, you need to give them the list from Half Baked. "Get some sour cream and onion chips with some dip, man, some beef jerky, some peanut butter. Get some Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars, a whole lot, make sure chocolate, gotta have chocolate, man. Some popcorn, red popcorn, graham crackers, graham crackers with marshmallows, the little marshmallows and little chocolate bars and we can make s'mores, man. Also, celery, grape jelly, Cap'n Crunch with the little Crunch berries, pizzas. We need two big pizzas, man, everything on 'em, with water, whole lotta water, and Funyons." Since that one is a lot to memorize, a partial quote will suffice.

8. Jamaica. If you're talking about Jamaica, you go back to Half Baked for this little gem. "I be from Jamaica, man. Lord have mercy. What part of Jamaica? Right near the beach, boy-eeeee!"

9. If somebody is buying cheese, you must quote Borat and ask them "What is this? Is this a cheese?" till they are completely frustrated. It doesn't take that long. Note: this doesn't actually happen very much, but I wanted to get Borat on the list. There are a number of other quotes that come up but are simply not fit for this blog.

There are a number of other movies and quotes that must be left out in order for this to remain a family friendly blog.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I just have to say a little more about T-Mac

Knee-Mac. McLady. The insults and criticism have rained down on Tracy McGrady from both Rocket fans and foes alike. No heart. Lazy. Has never been past the first round. Not a team player. We’ve heard it all. Hell, I've said it all before.

But still, the prevailing opinion among McGrady’s current teammates, coach Rick Adelman and even some prominent members of the Houston media is that despite the Rockets’ gleaming 33–14 record this season minus McGrady (and a pedestrian 20–15 record with him) there is no way the Rockets are better with T-Mac on the injury shelf.

After last Tuesday night’s narrow game 2 loss in Portland, where Rockets center Yao Ming was banged, bodied, fronted, double and sometimes triple teamed into a 3–6 night, scoring just 11 points, Adelman commented, ”Teams can’t do some of the things they’ve been doing to Yao if we’ve got Tracy. He would make them pay.” Earlier in the year, Ron Artest had this to say to HOOPSWORLD: “I think when he was here, we played better. I don’t think we’re as good without him.”

Even local Houston writer and season-long McGrady critic Richard Justice recently reversed his position, siding with Adelman in claiming Houston could really use McGrady right now in its series with Portland.

So while everyone seems to be saying nice things in support of Houston’s 23-million-dollar missing "man" (gelding), a closer look suggests the Rockets would be better off cutting ties with their maligned swingman as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

For starters, despite McGrady’s obvious (former?) dynamic playmaking skills and achieving the two highest assist averages of his career since joining the Rockets, his tendency to rely too much on his erratic jump shot rather than his athleticism and his constant need for a high number of shot attempts too often disrupts offensive continuity and hinders opportunities for his teammates.

McGrady hasn’t shot above 43 percent from the field since the 02–03 season with Orlando, and he hasn’t averaged more than 7 free throws a game since joining the Rockets, even dipping to 5.4 FTs a game last year and down to 4.5 attempts in this year’s injury-riddled campaign, clearly demonstrating his aversion to driving to the bucket. And his three-point percentages have been rock bottom for a player of his caliber. He’s hovered around the 33 percent range from deep his whole career, even dipping to an atrocious 29 percent last season.

Perhaps even more detrimental to the success of the team than even his icy shooting percentages has been McGrady’s constant need to have the ball in his hands. The 2009 half-season has been the only season since he joined the Rockets in which McGrady has averaged below 20 shots a game. When you have a 7’6” center with a plethora of post moves and a career 52 percent shooting from the field in Yao Ming, a 52 percent shooting power forward who can score inside and out in Luis "El Guacho" Scola, and a young, dunking (pre-shooting) dynamo with a 58 percent career field goal percentage coming off the bench in power forward Carl Landry, pounding the ball inside at any opportunity becomes essential for success. At the very least, having such talented players on the frontline should have provided T-Mac with ample drive and dish opportunities, but instead he’d rather hover around the perimeter, dribbling down the shot clock and launching last second 23 foot jumpers.

Tracy McGrady, Yankees Fan

The Rockets, like most teams with a skilled big man, are much better when posting up their center and utilizing the opportunities created out of that. Whether it’s letting Yao work his array of turnarounds and hook shots one on one, having the perimeter players cut to basket to take advantage of Yao’s superior passing skills, kick outs for open threes after a double team or simply swinging the ball back around for a Yao repost, the chances for a bucket created by working through their unselfish center rather than their inconsistent swingman are clearly raised.

Even in a situation such as last Tuesday night, where the Blazers were fronting Yao with Greg Oden, moving Joel Przybilla in from behind, and occasionally even bringing Lamarcus Aldridge in for a triple team, plenty of opportunities existed for the Rockets without T-Mac, they just failed to take advantage of them.

Of course, with such attention being paid to the Minger, the backside was often opened up wide for ample scoring chances. And while Von "The Black Hawk" Wafer and Aaron Brooks were able to step up to the tune of 21 and 23 points respectively, with both shooting better than 50 percent for the night. Wafer, who is clearly Houston’s most athletic perimeter player, was inexplicably relegated to bench duty by Adelmen as a tight game wound down. (Perhaps an explanation is that Wafer plays little to no defense.) In his stead Houston’s coach chose to play both Shane "Batt-man" Battier and Ron "Crazy Pills" Artest simultaneously in an attempt to slow down a red-hot Brandon Roy (42 points) when it was plainly obvious to anyone watching that Roy was not going to be slowed by anyone and that Houston’s only chance was to continue to score. And with Artest mired in a 2–11 second half shooting slump and Yao draped on like a blanket, Battier, for all the positives he brings to the team, is hardly the right man to answer that challenge.

In the end, it was hardly the absence of an aging, never-really-was superstar with a 43 percent career shooting mark that was Houston’s ultimate demise in last Tuesday’s Game 2. With better coaching and more willingness to take advantage of the mismatches Yao creates, Houston took advantage of its best chance of advancing past the first round in 12 seasons - and the only thing that has to do with Tracy McGrady is the fact he’s been in Chicago rehabbing his knee rather than suiting up in Rockets red.