Archive for July, 2008

A bit of low comedy

July 31, 2008

This is an outstanding video of a rather portly young man making an idiot of himself. As he himself says of this on youtube, “I Was trying to dunk but then I was up and the ball didnt go in so i fell”.

I say that this is six seconds of comedic gold. From the opening remark (a guy not so subtly yells “RETARD” as our basketball underachiever takes off) to the thunderous launching of our young reject at the basket, to the final gleeful scream “HE’S OKAY”, pure freaking gold.

Turn on your sound, sit back, and prepare to watch six brilliant seconds again, and again, and again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFg9P_a6fOA

Joe

Continued favorite restaurant countdown- #3

July 31, 2008

Again, as the size of the list has increased, my willingness to recap it has decreased. Please check the prior posts if you want to know. They’re all there– I promise.

#3, Picnic’s, Asheville, NC.

               There are a lot of things I don’t like about Rachel Ray. Start with her shrill, annoying voice. Move on to her penchant for coining her own catchphrases– if I hear her explain again what “EVOO” means I may suffer a mental breakdown. Expand to include mass marketing. I could easily go on.

               Anyway, she did something right when she went to Asheville, NC, for “$40 a Day” and stopped at Picnic’s. Picnic’s is located in an unassuming building a mile or so from the middle of Asheville. The place is presided over by Ron Smith and his mother, whose name I cannot recall except to call her Mrs. Smith. The food at Picnic’s is fresh and authentic– no box mixes and canned veggies here. Wood-roasted chicken is a specialty; roasted duck is another that always draws me in. Honestly, how many times do you get to eat duck?

                 The last time I was there, the other options included Beef Wellington with a wonderful red wine sauce, pot roast, pork chops, and barbecue. These change pretty much day to day– the Beef Wellington was new to my Picnic’s knowledge.

                The sides at Picnic’s are inventive and fresh as well. I had some sort of black beans with cilantro and a nice brocoli and carrot dish. Salads of varied type and number are also available, and my wife swears by them. Bread is also part of the menu– whether cornbread, yeast roll, or sweet potato biscuit (which was so mild it tasted like gingerbread).

                  Somehow, you have to save room for desert. Mrs. Smith makes the cakes and pies fresh every day, and they are incredible. A few I can recall are apple and peach pies, an otherworldly key lime pie, coconut and red velvet cakes, etc etc etc. These are probably the best deserts I have ever had. Mrs. Smith is always on hand and will be glad to offer a helpful recommendation. I was amazed on my last visit to learn from a newspaper clipping that she is 93 or 94 years old; I would have put her 20 years younger.

                   When you go to Picnic’s, go hungry and leave very satisfied. Picnic’s is reasonably priced, has ample options to suit anybody, and offers indoor or outdoor seating, as well as boxing up your order so that you can take it away picnic-style. I would and have recommended it heartily, and have yet to hear from anyone who didn’t love it.

Joe

Bob Dylan kicks his own fans in the crotch

July 29, 2008

That’s more or less what is going down.

I am a Bob Dylan fan. Maybe I should type that I AM A BOB DYLAN FAN, because it would come closer to expressing my ridiculous devotion to the modern-day minstrel.

Today began very happily. Dylan’s next album, the 8th volume of his label’s official bootleg series, was announced for October 7th. As planned, it will consist of rare and unreleased tracks from 1989-2006. All sounds great. The 2 CD, 27 track set will sell for about $19. All is still well.

BUT.

And oh, is it ever a BUT

If you want 3 CDs and 39 tracks of rarities, you have to buy the “deluxe version”. THe “deluxe version” apparently comes in a nice case, has a little booklet of photos and a vinyl single not available otherwise (although one of the two songs on said single is available today at www.bobdylan.com for free download, and the other is a live recording which will not be new to either me or other sad Dylan obsessives). The price? $129.99.

So let me get this straight- $19 for two CDs or $130 for three CDs with some other odd paraphernalia. We few sad poor Dylan nutjobs are supposed to part with $111 for one more CD, a book of pictures, a nice case and a vinyl single that most of us can’t even play anymore?

So really, it’s $111 for one more CD, if we’re being honest. That extra CD has 12 songs, three of which are live recordings which likely any idiot who buys the deluxe set has already heard. I have. $111 for nine songs.

And the powers that be wonder why people burn CDs relentlessly, download illegally, and buy less legitimate CDs every month. 

On the other side of the coin, Bruce Springsteen recently released a sort of novelty fan sort of product. Available only on ITunes and amazon.com for download, Springsteen released a video/audio EP of four live songs from his Spring 2008 tour. I believe it sells for $7.99, and you not only get four videos and four songs, you get the satisfaction of knowing that all profits are going to the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund, which is a cancer research project, in memory of Springsteen’s recently deceased keyboard maestro.

$8 to enjoy some Springsteen rarities and help with cancer research or $111 for nine Dylan songs and some assorted swag? Or neither– and judging by music sales, neither is a big option right now.

Anyway, I’ve made a decision. I’ll pay the $111– IF and only if Dylan pays ME back for some of the crap I’ve had to endure. 1969’s flop “Self Portrait”? I figure Bob owes me $10. 1987’s live crapfest “Dylan and the Dead”? Dylan owes me $25 and the Dead probably owe me some brownies. 1986’s horrifying “Knocked Out Loaded”? $75 at least. I’d give back that money if there was any way to unhear that album. Paint by numbers concert after concert since about 2003? Well, let’s just say we’re to the point where “Seinfeld”‘s own Jerry and George’s TV pilot comes to life and Dylan has to work as my butler. The $111 might come in handy then. In the meanwhile, tidy the place up, Bob.

Joe

Counting down my favorite restaurants #4

July 28, 2008

Unlike prior posts, I’m not recapping the prior picks. To be honest, I can’t remember them off the top of my head anymore, and I’m getting too lazy to look. WIthout further adieu,

#4- Luigi’sPizzeria and Pasta, Louisville, KY

               I can’t talk about places I love to eat and not bring up Luigi’s. Mr. Luigi is an Italian immigrant with a fairly surly attitude and an incredible skill for cooking up unusual and magnificent pasta.

               He is a fairly hostile guy– think Soup Nazi from “Seinfeld”. I once walked up to the pasta counter when Luigi was there and asked him to run down the dozen or so pastas. He did so quickly, and then looked wonderfully annoyed when the woman behind me, who had not been paying attention, asked him to do the same. He pointed at one half of the pastas– “meat”, he said. He pointed at the other half– “vegetarian”, he said.

              But if you can get past Luigi’s relatively brusque attitude, you will be rewarded. He combines both familiar and unfamiliar ingredients in pasta, to great effect. The last time I was there, I believe I had a penne with proscuito (kind of an Italian ham/bacon) and peas. I also can recall a wonderful salmon pasta Luigi serves on occasion. He will have 8-12 kinds of pasta at once, and fortunately, will gladly prepare a plate with two or three decent sized servings of different pastas on request.

             Luigi’s pizza is fine too. I give special recommendation to the “garbage” pizza– apparently a Luigism for pizza with everything on it. Luigi’s also does hot and cold sandwiches, but I’m pretty much 80% pasta, 20% pizza on the all-too-rare occasions when I’m around.

               While it’s probably irrelevant to most, Luigi also gets props for having about the only soft drink machine in the world with ginger ale on tap. It’s a personal weekness of mine, and goes well with some of his spicer offerings.

                Luigi’s is at 712 W. Main in Louisville– so if you work or visit downtown, you can stop by. Also, be advised, Luigi’s closes at 5, and seems to limit his offerings later in the day. The place is pretty much a mid-day lunch stop. It’s worth your while though.

Joe

A little love for my elementary school…

July 24, 2008

I must be due for a weekly nostalgia post or something. Or maybe it was all the talk about high school reunions, but I don’t want my elementary school to feel neglected in all of this.

There it is– the majestic Burdine Elementary School. It wasn’t until I saw the place that the glorious memories of bygone days came flooding back. A few worth remembering, more or less:

1) Breakfast pizza eating contests in the cafeteria, which would generally go on until someone threw up.

2) Elementary school dances. And elementary school kissing.

3) Making a girl cry. Not related to above. I guess that was the day I learned that girls don’t like to be called “weirdo”.

4) Getting sweet and sour sauce in some girl’s hair. Unbelievably not related to 2 or 3.

5) Splitting my pants open on the jungle gym, which isn’t shown in the above picture (neither the jungle gym nor the split pants). Fortunately also not the cause of #3.

6) Hanging out with Chris Fields, who would patrol the playground with a boombox blaring M.C. Hammer, until a teacher would stop him.

7) Telling my second grade teacher to “shut up”. Not related to #6 (Hammer didn’t come along until 4th or 5th grade). Also not the cause of #3. While tears may have been shed, they were likely mine when I was beaten.

I’m sure there are more, but it was long ago and far away. Just thought I’d share a few vaguely embarassing moments, and a picture of the place where I spent five years learning– often learning things completely and utterly unrelated to any curriculum anywhere, but always learning.

Joe

Favorite restaurants countdown- #5

July 23, 2008

The countdown in review:

10. Ollie’s Trolley, Louisville, KY

9. China Express, Middlesboro, KY

8. Louis’, Knoxville, TN

7. Moonlite Bar-B-Q, Owensboro, KY

6. Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

5. Roy’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Russellville, KY

               Call me a homer if you want, but Roy’s is my pick for best barbecue in the world. Roy Morgan has two establishments in Russellville, one which is a shack for carry-out purposes and the other being the main restaurant. It’s the latter you want, although the former is fine if you’re doing carrying (but judging by how few of you live in Logan County, Kentucky, I doubt you would be).

               Roy’s barbecue isn’t too sweet or too spicy. It is more of a ketchup based barbecue than many, and the meat is trimmed very carefully. No surprise big chunks of meat or bone here. The rest of the menu is similarly no frills– baked beans, cole slaw, french fries, catfish, ribs, fried dill pickles, white beans (soup beans, if you’re a southeastern Kentuckian like me), etc. While I’ve only had them a few times, the fresh pies and fruit pies for desert deserve a special nod as well.  Pretty much everything I’ve ever had at Roy’s was tasty and cheap. A heaping plate of food can be yours for the $5-6 range.

                  Roy’s is the sort of place that you could drive by and never know what you would be missing. There’s nothing particularly unusual about the place. Consistent quality is the selling point here, and Roy’s doesn’t often disappoint. Stephen King (yes, THAT Stephen King) dropped by one day, and apparently shared my high assessment of the merits of its food.

                   This is probably the least glamorous pick on my list. But a small-town restaurant that does the things that it does with unusual quality always has a place in my heart, wallet, and ample gut.

Joe

High School Reunions

July 22, 2008

The slump of my blog has gotten to my feeble mind. Today, I’m wondering about high school reunions. This year would have been my class’s 10th reunion, but due to the incredibly small size of my high school, there was instead only a sort of uber-reunion, which thus promised to be filled with people from the last few years. I didn’t go and was later advised that two people from my class did.

So what say you, readership? Have you gone to your reunions? Will you go? Why/why not? I had a reasonably good time in high school and I might have been tempted had my school gone with a real class reunion, but as it is… nah.

And lastly, if you didn’t go, do you regret it? If you did go, did you enjoy it?

TELL ME TELL ME TELL ME

Joe

Favorite restaurants countdown– #6

July 21, 2008

The countdown to this point:

10. Ollie’s Trolley, Louisville, KY

9. China Express, Middlesboro, KY

8. Louis’, Knoxville, TN

7. Moonlite Bar-B-Q, Owensboro, KY

6. Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

Think Mrs. Colonel Sanders. While the Colonel gave us the twin gifts of some really greasy fried chicken and his white-suited self, Mrs. Claudia Sanders was a bit more refined.

The fried chicken at Claudia Sanders’ is really, really good. It’s infinitely less greasy than most, generally consists of massive pieces (see whole chickens), and is nicely and subtlely flavored. You can get any of a number of other entrees, all of which I recall as pretty good too.  

The best way to eat at Claudia Sanders’ is either showing up for a buffet night or ordering a dinner which includes their eight family style vegetables. I’ve never found anybody who likes all eight vegetables, but I’ve also not found anybody who didn’t chow down on four or five of them. I would list them, but it’s been entirely too long since I’ve been at CSDH and I’ve forgotten a few.

CSDH is the sort of place that has something for everybody. Good deserts, outstanding chicken and numerous sides, and nice ambience. It’s the kind of restaurant you could take your grandparents to, and yet you would enjoy it yourself.

If you’re in Louisville, head east on I-64, and if you’re in Lexington or Frankfort, head west. A very nice (and fairly economic) dinner awaits.

Joe

A brief Sunday night posting

July 21, 2008

Sorry to have been away for a few days, but Friday night, Julie and I went to Knoxville to see Tift Merritt. For the specifics of this glorious show, and our triumphant meeting and conversation with Tift, consult Julie’s blog, Work in Progress, linked off to the right.

I will say that Friday was as fun of an evening as I’ve had in a long while. Tift is a talented and lovely lady, who was rocking the house. The band played loud and tight, and all was right in the world of Knoxville for a little while.

Tift’s most recent record, Another Country, is an introspective acoustic/piano driven sort of record (although with a few surprises). Her prior record, Tambourine, is probably even better to me. I would summarize it as white girl with soul backed with horns. I dig them both, and her first one, Bramble Rose, is a nice twangier record. Check any or all of them out, go see her, or at least check her out online (she has a couple of videos, and was recently on Letterman– check youtube). 

Hope everybody’s week gets off smoothly and rolls along even better. More from me, in between trips to Clinton County, KY.

Joe

Favorite Restaurants Countdown- #7

July 17, 2008

The list to date:

10. Ollie’s Trolley, Louisville, KY

9. China Express, Middlesboro, KY

8. Louis’, Knoxville, TN

7. Moonlite Bar-B-Q, Owensboro, KY

           Moonlite (and the spelling of its name is official, confirmed via website) is one of those mythical places that I heard about literally dozens of times before I visited. When I first came west from to Bowling Green at 17, people asked me if I liked barbecue. Truthfully, I didn’t know. Eastern Kentucky doesn’t do barbecue really. Oh people might get together and grill some ribs on a Friday night, but it’s not a big restauranting thing like it is in the central and western parts of the state.

               I was actually well into my mid-20s before I managed to make it to Moonlite. It is that comparative foodie rarity that actually is what people say it is. First, there’s the barbecue. At Moonlite, you can get your barbecue pulled or chopped, and you can have your choice of pork (probably my favorite), beef, or mutton. I wasn’t that taken by Moonlite’s barbecue at first. It’s a bit more mustardy than ketchupy (as most authentic barbecue apparently is), but it has grown on me. Plus, with all of the options, you’re sure to like some of it.

             Speaking of options, it’s the rest of Moonlite’s famous buffet that really makes it a top restaurant for me. Mashed potatoes, baked apples, green beans, lima beans, barbecue beans, creamed corn, rolls, cornbread, and on and on and on. It’s all good, it’s all fresh and if you’re at all like me, you will eat until you physically can not eat any more.

              There’s a salad bar as well, not that I’ve ever made it that far, and a few scattered deserts, which sometimes are pretty good and sometimes frankly unimpressive. But the absolute deluge of mouth-watering fresh veggies and barbecue of all shapes, sizes, and types will keep you coming back again and again and again.

                  Moonlite is almost always crowded, and the buffet is a bit pricey for dinner ($12.25 Mon-Thurs, and Sunday, $14.95 on Friday and Saturday). A better bet is lunch, where all of the food discussed above, as much as you want, can be yours for only $9.00. You can also eat carry-out (which would unfortunately omit the buffet from the experience) or order from their web store.

               The only way Moonlite could be any better is if they assigned you a cot so that you could have a nice mid-afternoon doze after a battle with the buffet. Until then, I guess it’ll have to stay at #7 on my restaurant list.