Monday, September 28, 2009

India: Day 2

I realize my last update was only a few hours ago, but with jet lag, the 11.5 hour time difference, etc, you'll just have to deal with it.

Today, I went to my other grandmother's house. I hung out with her and some other family, including two of my cousins whom I had not seen since 2000. The three of us went to see a movie, The Orphan, which was pretty good, actually. But the real experience was at the movie theater.

The theater was in a mall which looked like it could be in any American city. There were numerous shops, coffee houses, and cafes. There was also a TGI Friday's and Hard Rock Cafe.

Anyway, on to the theater. We bought tickets and went inside. The movie was scheduled to start at 6:50. We were standing outside the individual theater in the lobby at 6:48 and the doors were still roped off. I asked my cousin what was up, and he said it will open around 6:50 and the movie will start soon thereafter. Welcome to India Standard Time (IST from here on out), which meant around 6:50, give or take, whenever it actually happens -- just be glad you're standing inside with A/C and not outside.

The snack bar was also wild. People here love American things, especially the food American teenagers eat. Pizza, nachos, sandwiches, etc. were all over. There was also pasta, which seemed odd for a theater. But that was nothing compared to what I can only imagine a complete monstrosity described as "strawberry popcorn." I saw it and laughed out loud (LOL) and asked my other cousin what the devil that was about. He had no clue. Let's just move on.

My cousin, Tushar, the one who drove to the theater, is a good guy. Let me say that now. I was giving him a hard time (as I sometimes do, from time to time) about his driving. He honks his horn every chance he gets. Now, he paid for his own car, which is a big deal. He's in his mid twenties, and works hard at a good engineering job. But, when I asked him about honking, he said he didn't want anybody to touch his car. He seemed less concerned for human safety than a scratch on his car.

He also laid down newspaper on the floor in case anybody had mud on their shoes. My aunt asked him later if it had rained, to which he replied that it had, and only a week ago.

More on the driving to come soon, as well as an expose of sorts of mustaches.

India: Day 1

Greetings from India. I'm visiting my grandmothers here, as well as relaxing. I'll do this first post as bullets, as sort of a warm up. Some will be relevant and some may seem off topic, but I just flew almost 10,000 miles so cut me some damn slack.
  • Flying first class is the way to do. I don't think I can go back to coach. I need shrimp and crab appetizers. I need ice cream sundaes. And I definitely need a seat that is both wide enough, provides ample leg room and stretches nearly flat.
  • Elite access is also clutch. Walking up and getting right on the plane is far superior than waiting in lines. Lines are for bums at a soup kitchen. I'm over that nonsense.
  • The Texans sure blew another game, didn't they?
  • Traffic is insane here. Lanes are merely suggestions, I think. Often, on a 4 lane road, there will be a truck, 4 cars, a scooter or 2, bikes, and pedestrians. Everybody honks. It's like Mexico City, only worse, since they drive on the left side of the road.
  • My grandmother's house remains the same size, but I remember it being bigger when I was younger. Funny how time does that to your memory.
  • Having a driver and servants may make me seem like a snob, but it's both common place and great. I don't even have to open coke cans for myself. I didn't have to unpack my suitcase, everything I needed was laid out for me. I gotta tell you, it's really a highlight of the trip.
I'll have more soon, after some of this jet lag wears off. In the meantime, wish my Dad a happy birthday, as he turned 60 Sunday. What can you say to a person who has always been there for you? Happy birthday, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random Musings #2

I realize times are tough. People are out of work and are willing to take something that is not quite their dream job because they have bills to pay. But does Evander Holyfield, "The Real Deal", a former champion in multiple weight classes, have to dress like a woman in Taco Bell commercials? Isn't it bad enough he's appearing in a Taco Bell ad without having to play the role of his mustachioed mother to boot? Have a little pride, champ. I'm sure all those blows to the head did some damage, but you don't need to dress like a woman to pay the bills. I'm sure you can get licenced to fight in Russia, or China, or somewhere. On a related note, how bad is the Patrick "Chewing" Snickers commercial? I will note that some people like it (mostly in France....ahem, Leighton) but I think it's pathetic. Ewing is still a coach in the NBA. He made countless millions playing (and never winning a championship, but I'll not mention that). Does he need the extra scratch that badly? Maybe he could auction of one of his championship rings....oh right. I'd like to make a Gold Club joke, but I'll refrain, since this is a family blog.

A commercial that is really funny is the new Game Day commercial for ESPN with the crew and Mack Brown. (video credit to Dr. Alok Vij) So, Mack is strumming a guitar and the fellas are singing along to "Texas Fight" until it gets to Herby. He starts making up his own lyrics, something about being north of Mexico and Remember the Alamo. Mack shoots him a look and asks what he thinks he's doing. Herby says he's free styling. Mack says "We do NOT free style 'Texas Fight', big boy." Now that is comedic gold.

Will Yester (posts as Gizmo) told me about a guy on Twitter who is hilarious. Now, I'm not on Twitter. I don't really care what people eat for lunch. If I want to know what you're doing every minute of the day, I'll ask you (line credit: Will McMillan) but this guy is funny. Google Sh#t my dad says on Twitter. This chronicles the wacky things a 73 year old man says to his 29 year old son. I won't re-print any here, as they are profane (but not inappropriate). Trust me, this is one Twitter worth checking out.
To kill (editor's note: poor word choice) two birds with one stone, did you hear about Kayne West going to Patrick Swayze's funeral? He told everyone in attendance "I'll let you get back to your funeral in a minute, but Michael Jackson had the best death of the year. I'm just sayin."
In other news, we have a guest version of you know what really grinds my gears sent all the way from Cuba. Take it away Jacki.

Here's something to ponder: Who thought/thinks it was a better, safer, more efficient idea for cyclist to "share the road" vs share the sidewalk? ESP during rush hour in a city. Really? In DC (and I'm sure other cities [editor's note: Havana]) they open the outer (parking) lanes to move traffic... If there's a biker pedaling away there, you may as well park a car there because it causes the same [editor's note: expletive deleted] backup. And for what reason? So you can be "active" in the morning? And to not even be totally selfish about's just not safe. One careless driver (and there a a gazillion) and you're going to have a highly unfortunate situation, whereas if there's carelessness on the sidewalk, what's the worse that would really happen? Someone gets his foot run over?

On a related note, how is it permissible for delivery trucks to use the outer lane as a standing lane during rush hour when there's a side street every standard block (.1 mi). Believe me hoss, you can wheel your dolley around the corner. You don't have to park right outside the building! If I was a cop, I'd bike my law enforcing [editor's note: expletive deleted] (on the sidewalk) around during rush hour ticketing those people... That's a far greater service to the community than pulling over people at midnight on a wed for going 40 in a 25 on a 3 lane, deserted rd (yes, that happened to me).[editor's note: at least you were going the right direction on a one way street, which, on a related note, can not be corrected by turning onto another one way street]

Update on Sandwiches

So, after hearing good things from many people, including Jennifer Fung, Mary McDaniel, Weston O'Black, Seamus Finnegan, and Sully O'Leary (ok, I made those last two up, but those were some Irish sounding names [not Fung]) I went to Brown Bag Deli for lunch today. Even with all the hype, it was good. Very good. But not great. Let me get that out of the way first. Also, in a related ironic twist, I ran into Weston there along with his gray suit mob.

I got turkey on the jalapeno cheese bread. It was very good. But you know kept it from going higher on my list (currently, it's behind Which Wich and Jersey Mike's and perhaps even a fresh Antone's) was the lack of variety. Yeah, I hear you. Antone's and Jersey Mike's don't have that many options either. But, they make a great sandwich and you don't need a lot of toppings. Which Wich, like Brown Bag Deli, offers a few options for the main components -- meat and cheese. But, Which Wich goes above and beyond and offers close to 40 options (maybe even more) while Brown Bag offers less than 10. Come on. Anyone can make a turkey sandwich. But if I get get 4 different mustards on it, it becomes special. If I can get three kinds of onions, it becomes special.

I like to combine flavors (Wes Holmstrom or Leighton can tell you that) so topping variety is a huge bonus for me. Which Wich is like the America of sandwiches. Anything is possible. Brown Bag offers some of the advantages of America, but comes a little short. It's like Canada, if you think about it. And there's nothing wrong with being America Lite. Minus that whole moose thing, nobody can tell the difference unless they know what they're looking for. Luckily, I do know what to look for. And I like the variety available at Which Wich. And I'm proud to be an America. I will continute to prefer Which Wich to Brown Bag. I'm not going to sit here and listen to you bad mouth America. Not on my watch chief.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You know who really grinds my gears?

I said it at halftime of the first college game last Thursday night, but that song by Kenny Chesney is awful. Stewart Mandell of said so on Monday. ESPN, enough. Kenny, enough. That song "This is our moment" is already over-played and continues to be terrible. Now, I am a country music fan. Have been for a few years. But I'm not a Kenny Chesney fan. Never have been, and this song is not helping at all. Also, why does this guy never wear shirts with sleeves? I don't get it. I can see this song being played a few times each game that ESPN or ABC shows. Which is a lot of games. This could be a long season. I don't care if he is friends with Peyton Manning, Kenny Chesney sucks and brings nothing to the table.

Why do they even need musical introductions? Aren't real football fans going to watch games anyway? Would a casual fan really watch the Boise State vs. Oregon game at 11pm on a Thursday just because ESPN will show a 15 second clip of a sleeveless Kenny Chesney? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This might come as a surprise

Yes, this is another sports topic. Either deal with it or skip reading today. Thanks, and have a nice day.

Now, ever since I was about 10, the NFL has been my favorite sport. I always look forward to Sundays in fall and winter (relative term for those of us in Houston). I have and will watch any NFL game both in person and on TV. I read about the NFL. I watch highlights, analysis, and news on various channels. I anticipate Peter King's Monday column. Fantasy football is always fun, as are pick 'em leagues and survival football. The NFL has always been my favorite. A close second has been college football. But, the times, they are a-changin'.

I think, as of this year, college football has surpassed the NFL as my favorite sport. Perhaps since I went to Tulane and didn't really experience big time college football (understatement alert) unless I went to Texas games. (Photo caption: 2005 Rose Bowl. Note fellow Tulane alum and, apparently, a bigger Green Wave fan than me, Mike Naaman.) But, it took some time for me to come around.

Each game means more in college. State pride is on the line. When Texas plays (and beats two out of three times) Ohio State, more than a game or bowl game is on the line. It's a referendum on two different ways of life. The right way and the wrong way. Yeah, the Texans have beaten the Bengals. But it doesn't mean the same. Not even close. The passion, the hatred, the intensity are all dialed up in college football. Sure, we all joke around with the Aggies, but when the Aggies win (36 out of 115 times, for the record) it stings more than the Texans losing to the Colts. And don't even get me started on the Red River Shoot Out. Last year, I was so consumed with the game I may or may not have started a small to medium grease fire in somebody else's kitchen. May or may not have.

I remember one Christmas I gave my cousin Jay (an Ohio State grad) a Michigan shirt. He told me he was forced to wear it inside out by his roommates and could only wear it if he had no other shirts. And only in the house. Tell me that isn't passion. And they went to school in the Big 10!! Not even in the Big 12, let alone Texas.

Kieth Jackson vs. Al Michaels. Come on, it's not even close. Seeing a kid only a few years or months out of Algebra scoring touchdowns or making open field tackles is much cooler than enormous professionals doing the same. Not to take anything away from the pros, but it's not as exciting.

If you see somebody in a Texans shirt at the airport in Chicago, you may or may not say hi. But if you see somebody in UT gear, you say hook 'em as you walk by. I remember 2 years ago, in New Orleans, Trey and I were both wearing UT shirts. We were in the elevator at our hotel. It was only the two of us in the elevator, and a man in OU gear hit the button one floor down. He looked at us, sized us up, and declared he'd take the next elevator. Come on, that doesn't happen if he's wearing a Chicago Bears shirt and we're in Dolphins hats.

Am I late to the party? Yes. But is it the right party? I think so. Weigh in, please; let me know what your favorite sport is and why. And please, no jokes about Tulane. Tulane won the Sugar Bowl in 1934. And don't forget Tulane narrowly lost to the Havana Athletic Club 11-0 in the 1909 Bacardi Bowl. (Note: Tulane was coached by Buster Brown. I kid you not.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Worst Quiznos Ever

Let me start by saying that this is my own fault. Entirely. But, when has that ever stopped me from complaining? I'll take "never" for $1,000, Alex. You're damn right I went there. Anyway, let's get to the point.
So, Thursday night I ran out of turkey for my lunch on Friday. I didn't want to go to Kroger because it was raining. And the new cafeteria had just opened at the Criminal Justice Center. I thought, since it was under new management, that it would be good. Or at least better. Well, after seeing and smelling what was being offered for lunch, I decided to go to Quiznos. Now, I don't even like Quiznos. I thought of walking 8 blocks for Vietnamese, but since I was by myself and the chance of rain was high, I decided I'd just get Quiznos. It's only a block away, and how bad can a turkey sandwich be?
Or, so I thought. I don't mean to sound like a jerk (sound familiar?) but walking past urinating homeless people is not that appetizing. I realize this is not the fault of Quiznos, but when it happens on your doorstep, fair or not, it ends up impacting your business. So, putting that aside, I go in. There is nobody in front of me in the line. It shouldn't take more than 4 minutes for my order to be taken. In theory. But, so much for that. I finally order a turkey sandwich to go. Not exactly complex, but, please baear with me.
So, after waiting to order my sandwich, it's finally made and put into the oven. It comes out. I ask for lettuce. The lady behind the counter looks at me like I have 2 heads. Lettuce, she asks. Yes, lettuce. And tomato. It's a sandwich, not a bowl of cereal. Put some veggies on there. She had to ask the manager if I could have lettuce. After consulting with the manager (I assume he was in charge because he had a mustache [seems plausible]) and waiting another 2 minutes, lettuce is placed on my sandwich. About 3 shreds of lettuce. But, I thought to myself, this is a victory. Also, you haven't been shanked, so just go back to your office. You're not trying to be a hero.
So, when the guy at the register hands me my sandwich, I politely (seriously) remind him that I ordered it to go. He should remember, I thought to myself, he took your order only minutes before and has done nothing since slapping some turkey onto bread and sliding it into the oven. But, he doesn't remember. No big deal, I think. Wrong again, champ. He rolls his eyes, flips the recipt towards the floor, huffs, and goes to get wrapping paper. I didn't think, silly me, that it would be such a big deal to get a turkey sandwich to go.
So, after waiting to order, after having to argue about lettuce, after reminding the yokel who worked there that I wanted it to go, I finally bring it back to the office to eat. And the damned thing was terrible. I mean, how can a turkey sandwich be bad? If you really want to know, go to Quzinos at 1000 Main Street. It's the worst Quiznos in America. Which is hard to believe, since most of them (I assume all but had to qualify my statement to avoid being sued [thats how it works, right Legal? Fung? Hello?]) suck anyway; but this was awful. I'm officially never returning to any Quiznos.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I don't mean to judge, but...

Today, I saw a young child coming out of one of the court rooms in the Harris County Criminal Justice Center. He was with his brother, who was a defendant. I suppose that's largely irrelevant. Anyway, the older brother was 18. The younger brother could not have been more than 12 or 13, but was covered in tattoos. His arms were covered. I could see paw prints on his neck. He had tattoos on his legs (why he was wearing shorts and not pants in court, I'm assuming, was not much of a concern for him).

(Photo caption: this is NOT the child I'm referring to but the picture still works)

Now, I don't mean to judge (and when people say they don't mean to judge, it really means they do mean to judge, but don't want to sound like a jerk or a d%&k or a bi%ch for doing so. I mean, really. Has, in the history of people saying "I don't mean to sound like [insert derogatory noun here or "judge"]" and not sounded like what they were trying to avoid or sounded like they were judging? You're not fooling anyone. You are a jerk, or at least sound like one when you're saying what makes you sound like what you don't want to sound like when you say that. Just act like an adult and say what you want to say. You're not really sugar coating anything by saying you don't mean to sound like a jerk. Just say it. If you're coming up to the plate, you might as well swing the bat.) {hope you're still with me, I'm still on the first sentence of this paragraph} but where do kids get tattoos at the age of 12? Middle school? Toys R Us? Baby Gap? (I don't know any more kids stores, so just let that Baby Gap joke slide).

Now, I don't have a tattoo. And I don't judge people who do. But, at the age of 12, tattoos are a bit much. I realize kids grow up much faster in this age than we did (boy, did I just sound old as hell) even a few years ago, but 12? I think you should at least be able to drive yourself to the tattoo shop (Legally, I mean. I'm not endorsing hot-wiring cars, people [no, that was not racially motivated]) to get a tattoo. On another side note, do people still call them tattoos or does everyone call them "tats"? I'm unsure. And, honestly, I'm ok with that.

If you're old enough, go right ahead. It's your body, and you're free to do almost whatever you want to it (this is not an invitation to debate abortion, people). But 12? To have at least a dozen visible tattoos? Call me old fashioned, but I'm going to judge that kid. And his mother. Let me at this moment point out she was also a tattoo aficionado and was barely contained by her dress (was that a semi-polite way of calling her a skank and bad mother?)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Update on Best Burgers in Houston

"I ate the burger you were afraid to order."

That's what (my self-appointed side kick) Abbie told me moments after finishing the Monster burger at Stanton's. For the record, I wasn't scared, but the statement was both made and funny.
I have always maintained that if you're going to run your mouth, you better be prepared to back up what you say. As much as I run my mouth (Leighton told me last week, and he actually seemed surprised when he said it, that I talk a lot of shi%t. Way to step out on a limb, Frenchy) I'm always prepared to back it up. But I have to give respect to other people who do the same. There are a lot of people who do not back up what they say (I'm not naming names, but you know who you are).
Which brings me to my point. Abbie, who runs her mouth and rarely backs it up, and I went to lunch last week. After hearing good things about Stanton's (both from long-time reader Crystal and various Internet reviews) we were both interested in trying a new place for burgers. Also, the line at Lankford Grocery was around the block.
By way of background information, Stanton's big claim to fame is being home of the monster burger. 2 huge patties. Bacon. Numerous slices of cheese. All the veggies, including red and white onions. When the man at the counter heard Abbie order, he did a double take. He was shocked. So, at Stanton's, you order inside and take the food to go. There are no tables. We did not know this, so we decided to eat in the car. The photo above is taken inside my car on the arm rest. The monster burger is nearly as wide as the arm rest. To call it a monster is apt.
I ordered the Rio Jalapeno burger. The man at the counter cautioned me that the burger came with bacon. I was ok with that, even if I was somewhat surprised. The menu said nothing about bacon, but bonus bacon is bonus bacon. It's like finding $10 in your pocket.
Both burgers were good. Not better than Lankford Grocery. Not better than Miller's Cafe, or Christian's Tailgate. I suppose it would be on or close to the same level as Southwell's. I maintain my burger theory (which I stole from Nathan's hot wing theory. Thanks bud.) Anyone can make an average burger (or wing) but it takes something truly special to make an incredible burger. By the same token, it would take either an out of control fire or sheer incompetence to make a really bad burger (or wing). To be noteworthy, you have to try something bold. Stanton's monster burger is just a big burger which tastes pretty good. 6.5 to 7 out of 10.