Monday, February 26, 2007

When It's Cold in Cape Girardeau There's Nothing Much To Do

This last weekend the family went on sort of a mini-vacation. The primary reason for the trip was to check out this house design from Rocio Romero. Eventually, we'd like to buy some land and put this structure up on it. I don't think it's going to happen in 2007, though.

We left Indiana on Friday, and we stopped in Mattoon to eat at Villa Pizza. There was a guy on the Goner Records forum who was from Mattoon but currently lives in Austin (and when I mention Austin, I mean Austin, Texas, not any other Austin, such as Austin, Minnesota, home of the Gear Daddies and Hormel chili) who said that Villa Pizza was better than pizza from just about anywhere else, including New York. Andy in Oakland asked me about this place. I said it was just pretty good. I mean, it's GREAT for a town like Mattoon. But I was eating there at least once a week, so the thrill was gone. I remembered the first time I ate there, I was like, "Okay, this is what I remember GOOD midwestern pizza tasting like!"

We had the Villa Special on Friday, and it was great. If you're ever going down I-57, it's worth it to drive the couple miles to downtown Mattoon on Western Avenue (across from the County Market grocery store) just to have some of this pizza. Every night except for Friday-Sunday they have a great buffet, and I think every day at lunch as well.

The title of this blog comes from a lyric from "Song for a Deck Hand's Daughter," from James McMurtry's "Too Long in the Wasteland" CD. It's a great album. The song has always made me want to see what Cape Girardeau is all about. Abbe has been wanting to go to the open house I mentioned in the first paragraph for about 4 months now. The house is in the country, just outside of Perryville. We opted to stay at the Hampton Inn at Cape Girardeau, mostly because I've always wanted to see the town.

Cape G is on the Mississippi River. So the town has built a wall to protect itself when the river gets too high. I'm from Davenport, Iowa. We don't have a wall, we don't have a levee. We like to see the river where I'm from. If it floods every 50 years, we just say "fuck it" and clean it up. Cape G actually got creative with its wall, though, and covered it in murals. It's done very tastefully.

Overall, the town is like any town on the Mississippi; dirty and full of taverns. But I did enjoy the feel of it. Even despite the fact that it was a dreary day. Southeast Missouri (SEMO) University is located here, and looked to be a pretty decent school.

After we visited Cape G and the house in Perryville, we went to my folks house down the road on I-44. I-44 is a sweet piece of road to drive. Lots of hills, curves, and since it was built along old Route 66, there are a lot of old businesses and new businesses to look at.

We stopped at a gas station because my daughter had to use the bathroom. I carried her potty seat in. There was a guy smoking outside wearing a white North Carolina jacket, and he had gone in the bathroom before we entered the store. When we opened the bathroom door, Holmes was standing up, pissing in the toilet stall. There were 2 free urinals. He comes out of the stall and leaves. I go into the toilet stall and he's pissed into the toilet with the fucking seat down. There's urine on the seat. So I clean it up, and put the potty seat down.

What is up with that? Does this guy still have a case of stage fright? I'm okay with that. Maybe he had a bad experience as a child. But what's the deal with leaving the seat down and dribbling all over it? Am I missing out on some sub-genre of thrill-seekers here?

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chief Takhomasak

I'll preface this whole article by saying that if you wanted to read an article about quality hamburgers, you're looking in the wrong place. I had a discussion with Andy of the Touch-Me-Nots last Friday and we got to talking about Steak and Shake, which kinda gave me the whole idea for this article. For those of you familiar with my mid-90's zine, The Sh!tty, you may remember me doing some kind of fast food article or article on the best burger at one time. I don't think all that much has changed.

For the most part, the best hamburgers are ones you get at local places, and not at your average fast food joint. I still think one of the best hamburgers I ate was at a Allen's Barbeque in Gurdon, Arkansas. We used to host a lot of training for other International Paper lumber mills there, and they would always order a lunch for me and the HR Generalist, since our offices were in the training building. This burger came with two half-pound patties, and two slices of cheese. It was a HOSS. Some of my friends from NE Iowa are probably asking, "What about the Gunder Burger?" There was a little crossroads just south of Postville, Iowa called Gunder. In this town at one corner was a little tavern called The Shanty. Not sure if it's still there. They would take your standard sized bun and put a one-pound burger on it. With or without grilled onions. I would say it was huge, but not anything special.

As far as fast food burgers I crave, there was a time back in '92 when I would go get a regular cheeseburger at the A&W in Ripon, Wisconsin with curly fries and a mug of root beer. The regular cheeseburger, if I remember, was nearly $2; way more than you'd pay for a standard cheeseburger at McDonald's. But still, it tasted really good. Especially with that root beer in a frosty mug.

The only other burger I really craved was the Whataburger. A lot of people who have tried it say it is too bready, or it's not enough meat on the burger. They're probably right. Both the Sonic and Whataburgers kind of have a flat patty the circumference of a Whopper, but they're not as thick as a Whopper. Almost, though. The thing I like about both the Sonic and Whataburgers is the fact you can get jalepenos on them. Whataburger also gives you 3 slices of medium sized tomato, and 4 pickles. Most places only give you 1 or 2 tomatoes, and 2 or 3 pickles. I always get the #1 combo with cheese and jalepenos. They put mustard only on a Whataburger. Just the way I like it.

The other bonus about Whataburger is their ketchup packets. This is the best ketchup packaging outside of having a squirt bottle. Fuck those little cups you have to fill 6 of, or opening 12 ketchup packets (with greasy fingers). They stock them right at your table. Peel the lid off and start dipping. If you go through the drive thru at Whataburger, and the manager is running the window, he'll try to limit your ketchups. Here's my key: Regular fry, 2 ketchups, Large fry, 3. Holmes tried to tell me I only needed 2 for a large fry one night in Pensacola around 2:30 a.m. I'm like, "Dude, I know how many ketchups I need for a large, gimme 3!"

As for more standard fare, if I go to McDonald's, I alternate between the quarter pounder with cheese ("Royal with Cheese") or the two cheeseburger meal. For Wendy's, I like the burgers on the 99 cent menu. For Burger King...well, to quote Vincent Vega, "I don't know, I didn't go to Burger King." Actually, their version of the Big Mac, The Big King, is pretty good.

Steak and Shake is a total rip off. The chain has started sprouting up everywhere around the country the past few years. A "steakburger" will run you close to $2, and as far as I can tell, the only difference between it and a McDonald's hamburger is that it comes on white china. There was one summer back in '88 or '89 when I was hanging out with a guy who was the manager at the one in Davenport, Iowa, and we went in and made some burgers at like 2 a.m. Nothing like making burgers in the dark. I remember loading those burgers up. If I would have paid for that thing, it would have probably cost me like $7 at the time. I also had my first "bacon cheeseburger" experience at that same Steak and Shake as a child.

Andy also passed along this Steak and Shake story to me: As a child while living in Houston, Andy noticed that the Steak and Shake sign had the word "Takhomasak" at the bottom. For years he thought that it might be a reference to a Chief Takhomasak or something. His mom had to explain to him that it was the words "Take Home A Sack."

You can share your burger stories or tell me your favorites in the comments section, if you're into that sorta thing.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007


I got this today:

Hi I'm Devin the manager from Pan era Bread who emailed you earlier, I'm so sorry I forgot to ask you to email me your address so I could mail you a coupon for your next visit with us.

Hell yes! A complimentary coupon! Let's see if I get anything back from Jimmy John's.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Panera, Part 3

So they pushed the mail I sent to Panera all the way to the local store's manager:

Dear Jessie Trent, Thank you for contacting us about the pepper stem left on your sandwich. It is our practice to leave the stem on the pepper because other wise it makes the sandwich soggy from the juice of the pepper. We would be more than happy to cut your pepper stems off. In the future just let the cashier taking your order know and we will cut the stems for your sandwich,again thank you for your concern.
Best Regards,
D* M*
Manager at Valparaiso Panera

So it appears that I will have to make the effort to keep the stems off my peppers at Panera. I think I'll just switch to one of those grilled panini jobs from now on.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Fuck This Guy

It just baffles me why a Prime Minister of another country is shooting his mouth off about a person who isn't even a threat yet to become president. Barak Obama just announced his candidacy for president in 2008 yesterday, and already, this guy, John Howard, the PM for Australia is scrambling. No use in wasting time slinging mud. Conservatives must really be scared of a black man in the White House if they're starting shit this early. Especially AUSTRALIAN conservatives. Whatsamatter, John, did a dingo eat your baby?

The dude who runs Obama's campaign had what should be the last word on this subject, basically saying, that if you're so into fighting a stupid war, do the stupid thing and send more of your troops in to get blown up. Australia has sent only 1,400 troops to the desert. Shit, we've had more of our troops killed than that.

While we're on the subject of Barak, the other people who need to shut up are the people who say, "He's not really black." Debra Dickerson, who wrote "The End of Blackness," was on the Colbert Report the other day discussing how Obama is an "African African American." If I would have been drinking anything at the time, I'm sure it would have shot out my nose from laughing. I realize that for the most part, writing a blog is a waste of time, but actually thinking up the term, "African African American," defines the whole premise of pissing time away.

When this first came up, I was reminded of one of Chris Rock's first performances I saw in high school on an HBO "Uptown Comedy Club" special, where Eddie Murphy brought in a whole bunch of comedians. Chris Rock actually opened the whole thing up. One of his bits was about Rae Dawn Chong, that went something like, "Can Rae Dawn Chong sleep with a black man in any of her movies? When she's asked about her heritage, she goes into, 'well my father was Portugeuse, and my mother was Irish.' You're black, Rae! Try marrying a Kennedy and find out how black you really are!"

Now, technically, they're right. But I bet if you asked him, Obama probably experienced some of the same kind of racism black people experience in the tolerant United States at least one time in his life.

Can we stop worrying about this petty shit, like the person's ethnic background, and focus on how intelligent the guy sounds (is), especially compared to the piece of white shit we have now in the White House?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Getting Cut, Part 2 - Snip, Snip

The following article contains too much personal information, and if you're squeamish, it might actually hurt to read, especially if you have a sack. This is your warning.

I had my follow up appointment today for the vasectomy. It was for the real thing. I wasn't really all that nervous until I was called. And it didn't take very fucking long to get called in. I had signed in, handed the sheet of paper back, and by the time I had taken off my coat, they called me. With like 5 other people in the waiting room. I still had my hand on my coat as I placed it on the coat rack. And it was 10:55 a.m. by my watch, and I wind that thing 5 minutes fast.

As I walk down the hall, I'm asked if I want to use the bathroom, I did, just in case in the middle of this for some reason I ended up needing to take a whiz, but was trapped. At this point, I notice that "Hotel California" is playing over the P.A. They got it on the light rock station. It's even the live acoustic version. "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!"

I'm told to undress and get on the table. Socks and shirt can stay. I notice 2 syringes which turn out to be full of Lydocane. This is my biggest fear of the whole thing. Other than the fact that 1 out of 150 dudes get swollen balls after this procedure. That's what I'm really worried about, but I plan to take it easy. Ice those boys down.

At this point, The Bee Gees are singing about "Emotion, taking me over." The song selection is cracking me up today. The nurse asks if I've shaved. Shaved? I would have, if someone would have told me. If I'm going to have my private parts shaved, I would prefer it be me. I'm still not sure if I was shaved.

Doc comes in to do the work. I'm totally prepped, and kind of tense, mostly waiting for the needle sting. I get the needle in the left side, right side, and center of the sack. It doesn't really hurt except for a little sting. It's totally similar to getting a shot of novacane, which doesn't really even phase me anymore. You would think the location would make a huge difference, but I was surprised by how much it did not.

Doc makes the incision, and I can just sort of tell the knife is there, but I don't feel anything. During the whole procedure, I feel sort of pressure, somewhat in the testes and upper pelvic area, but nothing more than say if someone slapped your balls. Nothing that would double you over.

A little burning smell, and then it's over. He has to do both sides. I check my watch. We are done by 11:20 a.m. I'd say he spent 10 minutes doing the job.

It's 4:08 p.m. right now. I've been sitting on ice, playing Madden 2005 on the PS2. Every time I get up, it feels like I got kicked in the balls. It's been like this for 4 hours straight. Not hard, slam your scrotum in a dictionary hurt, but just a constant throb like someone grazed it with a ping pong paddle hurt. Maybe just a little swelling, but that's to be expected.

We went to Panera afterwards and I got the Italian combo. Two peppers. One stem. Motherfucker!


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dumb Fans

All week on the radio station 670 "The Score" AM, they've been talking about how it's sad that the Bears lost, but it's not the end of the world. Sports should be for fun, and just because someone isn't all downhearted 3 days after the Bears lost does not mean that they are not as passionate about there team.

And as sure as they said described it, this guy from Decatur, Illinois shows up in the news. He told people at a bar that he would change his name to Peyton Manning if the Bears lost. Signed a contract in front of all these people.

I need some coffee.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Panera Bread Writes Back

I got this little gem in my email the other day regarding my complaint about the stems on the peppers in my sandwich. Note that this is pasted directly from the email:

Derar Jesse,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Panera Bread. We want to provide our customers with thebest tasting, freshest food available. We also try very hard to deliver what customers want andto address their concerns as best we can. I am forwarding your comments to our productdevelopment department for review.

Best Regards,
Customer Comment Coordinator

At this point, I'm pretty sure my comments were filed in the trash or else will end up in a pile that no one will get to for at least six months. I'm still waiting to hear back from Jimmy John's, but that might take longer because I actually mailed them a written letter.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007


So the Packers didn't get into the Super Bowl this year, although with the young team they fielded, I think they did a pretty good job. Hell, they're responsible for one of the Bear's 3 losses. And maybe Rex Grossman decided not to show up to the game, but fuck it, he lost it for them with the three turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns, so that just goes to show you he's a "B" student like most of society. Yeah, I'll admit, there are days when I mail it in.

I do like Grossman, though. Unfortunately, some Bears fans rubbed me the wrong way this year. I know, I'm a Packers fan, so they SHOULD rub me the wrong way. But I love the city of Chicago. So I was willing to show some respect to the Bears. However, since a few people didn't give me that respect in return, I'm pulling for the Colts this game.

I do, however, dig this graphic that may or may not be on a T-Shirt in the Chicago area.

I had a dream last Sunday where the Colts were in the Super Bowl. Only I think they were actually playing the Dolphins. But somehow, I woke up with the score, Colts 59, Bears 12.

I don't think it's going to be that big of a blowout, but if the Colts defense shows up, then the Bears are going to have to put the ball into the Sex Cannon's (that's what Kissing Suzy Kolber calls Rex Grossman) hands, and he might succeed, and he might fuck it up. In that way, Rex is sorta like Brett Favre, only without all the successful years in front of him.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a safe Super Bowl Sunday. Don't drink and drive, folks.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Pepper Stems

I don't really mean to use my blog to bitch about things, but there was something that I wanted to discuss to see if anyone else had the same issue. And this issue, albeit petty, is in regards to getting a sandwich with those greek or "banana" style peppers that have the stems still on them.
There are two places in particular where I have this issue. Jimmy John's and Panera. Both of these places put pretty much the whole pepper on the sandwich, unlike Subway, which has both their banana and jalepeno peppers sliced.

Usually, I have to inspect the sandwich before I eat it. Sometimes I get lucky, and the peppers I get are stemless. Otherwise, I have to mess with the integrity of the sandwich which can kind of make for a messy eating experience if you don't pack the filling back into the bread successfully.

I haven't eaten at a Jimmy John's in quite some time, but the last time I did, I told the kid there, "Could you put some of those cherry peppers on there, but make sure I don't get any stems." The kid nodded and said, "Sure, I know what you mean." So I must not be the only one with this issue, right? Do other people just eat right through the stems?

I have the same issue when these come on salads. I guess I would just prefer they go with the sliced kind instead.

I wrote a letter to both Panera and Jimmy John's about this. Maybe they'll send me something for free at least. I seriously doubt they're going to change suppliers.

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