Monday, April 26, 2010

Thought for the Night - April 26 Edition

Somehow, The Writings have yet to comment on the new sandwich that is sweeping the nation*: KFC's Double Down Chicken sandwich. It's not very often that new product is made available at a fast food chain that can raise one's cholesterol simply by thinking about it, but KFC has come up with just an item.

*Is there a reason that the phrase that reflects an object or idea becoming popular throughout the United States sounds like something coined to describe Paul Bunyan's days as a custodian (after his back went bad and he could no longer swing an axe)?

With this culinary work, KFC reinvents the sandwich by removing what most folks might consider the most essential part: the bread. (Apparently yeast is too expensive these days.) Instead, the breadless wonder smothers two pieces of bacon, slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese, and something called Colonel's Sauce between two boneless filets of chicken. Some call it delicious. I call it the first step to a triple-bypass.

When it comes to this "sandwich," I have many questions.

Is it called the Double Down because of it's pair of chicken patties, or because any person that actually finishes it doubles over?

Can you really have a sandwich without bread? Are we nearing the day when a weave of french fries and onion rings wrapped in bacon is also deemed a sandwich?

What exactly is Colonel's Sauce? After all, Harland Sanders passed nearly 30 years ago. I'm not sure I'm willing to partake in any sauce he created before the Reagan era. (Sorry, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.)

Is it true that the grease dripping from just one of these sandwiches could fill an inflatable kiddie pool?

What is true is that KFC has raised the bar. Until now, folks that wanted to cheat death were limited to skydiving, sword swallowing, and going to Raiders' games. Now, all they need to do is buy a "sandwich."

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's a hit... What? Really?

Twelve games into the 2010 season, the Kansas City Royals lead Major League Baseball in batting average.

Read that again to allow it to really sink in.

With over 7-percent of the season now complete, the Royals are batting .309 as a team, which leads the Majors. Is this a fact to get worked up over? No. Because the MLB season carries on longer than most stints in Purgatory, this could prove to be a statistical oddity that is long forgotten by game 162. Is it a topic worthy of receiving in-depth examination*by The Writings? Of course.

*Translation: Pointless commentary with a chance of childish humor.

The success at the plate starts with a newcomer. Scott Podsednik - a former Mariner, Brewer, White Sock, and Rocky* - leads the Royals, the Majors, and most video game leagues with a .457 average. Should he keep that up throughout the rest of the season, he'd set some records, be subject to a number of tests for performance enhancing drugs, and possibly be attacked by Lex Luthor. Podsednik's career batting average, though, is .279. Thus, those who fall on the sane side of The Great Wall of Mental Stability have pretty solid support for the argument that he's due for some struggles.

*Typically, you don't read the singular of White Sox and Rockies.
Then again, typically writers don't amuse themselves by writing about
odd folks at Burger King.

Behind Scotty Pods*, Jose Guillen is batting .367. Unfortunately, there's little to write about Guillen. After all, he's just a 34-year old who is making $12 million this season, once got in a verbal confrontation with Royals' fans, called his own teammates "babies," played surgeon on himself, was mentioned in the Mitchell Report, told reporters "Yes, I suck," and apparently nearly died over the offseason. Oh, and he's played for 10 different Major League teams in 14 seasons... I really wish there was something to write about with this guy.

*As those who don't know him at all call him.

Joining Guillen on the "baseball years" senior citizen list is catcher Jason Kendall. Kendall, 36 (which is actually 74 in catcher years)is currently batting .348. Kendall's career average is .290, which is very respectable, but he hasn't hit .300 or better since 2004. In fact, he has not hit higher than .246 over the past three seasons.

Podsednik, Guillen and Kendall are all playing well beyond their abilities, but no performance so far has been more surprising than that of shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Betancourt entered Monday night batting .318. Last season, he hit .245, or approximately what Albert Pujols would hit if he was swinging a ping pong paddle. It's nice to see the guy having success at the plate, but expecting it to continue is kind of like expecting hordes of friendly leprechauns to deliver fresh-baked donuts to your home each morning. It only ends in disappointment.

Unfortunately for the Royals, the unexpected offensive superiority has not meant success. Through 12 games, Kansas City is 5-7. The struggles can be largely chalked up to struggles by KC relief pitchers. Many around Kansas City say that the Royals' bullpen is unreliable. I, however, disagree. I think they're unbelievably reliable. After all, you can rely on them to give up four runs each game.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Sometimes, after a venture into the public setting, I'll scratch down a note of something I saw, thinking it would be good material for The Writings. Unfortunately for those who enjoy reading blogs with no semblance of a point, many of these notes end up lost and therefore unused. This Writing, dear readers, is my attempt to give these notes very poor literary treatment before they find the bottom of my trashcan. The title of each section is the note as it appears on my 8.5x11 wide-ruled sheet of paper. Enjoy.

Cowboy hat popcorn icee
This one seems pretty self-explanatory, but for those who need clarification, my brother and I noticed a gentleman sporting a cowboy had and a western vest at Target a week ago. He looked straight out of a western movie (aside from the sweatpants he wore to complete his attire), but did not appear to be shopping for anything in particular at the retail store. No, instead he was casually sitting in snack bar area, munching popcorn and sipping an Icee. No, this was not any sort of revolutionary sight, it just marked the first time I'd seen a pretend cowboy eating such menu selections in a public setting.

Favorite Flicks - Air Bud
While visiting another retail location, this one an electronic store whose name rhymes with "pest pie*," I noticed a rack of DVDs with a sign noting that the selected movies were "Favorite Flicks." Included on this rack were the films "Air Bud Spikes Back" and "Air Bud Seventh Inning Fetch." Now I love the idea of dogs playing volleyball and baseball as much as any sane person (clarification: not much) but I'm not sure anyone that would list that pair of films as their favorites should be allowed anywhere that sells DVDs. It's debatable whether they should even be allowed outside an area where they can be observed around-the-clock. Perhaps the creator of the Air Bud films now works stocking retail shelves. Honestly, that's my best guess.

*Pest pie is not for public consumption.

VG Employee - disgruntled
Same day, same store, I was walking through the video game ("VG"... see, my notes are almost discernible) department and I greeted the employee manning the area, ready to answer any questions. Unfortunately for him, I had none. Adding to this employee's unfortunate situation was the fact that there were really no other customers back there and he was growing bored. It was at this time that I made the mistake of asking him how things were going. His response went something like this (please read with a sarcastic tone to get the full effect):

"Oh, it's great. They tell me to watch video games, so I come back here to video games. There's nobody here. I just stand here bored. I'm so bored I'm reading the strategy guides. Yeah, great."

It was about this time that I said "look, Super Mario has come to life" and ran off the other way... That, or I smiled, nodded, said something like "Sounds like a good time," and stepped away with great caution, not wanting to set this guy off in an XBox-smashing frenzy.

VG kid - talks to self
Luckily, I had little time to worry about Mr. Rosy Outlook, because seconds later I encountered a kid talking to himself. While checking out the latest that the Wii has to offer, this lad was carrying on a game of verbal Pong and it seemed neither side had an advantage. "Okay, where's the new Mario. There's the new Mario. I read about this. Sounds fun... "

Chest hair @ BK
Right or wrong, in our culture showing off what one deems are his or her best assets is commonplace. Have nice teeth? You smile a lot. Have nice legs? You might put the "short" in "shorts." Six-pack abs? You jog in the park with your shirt off to make girls swoon and guys despise you. None of it is out of the ordinary.

That said, I find it odd when I encounter a guy like I did at Burger King a couple weeks ago. This guy, probably in his 50s, wore a button-down (or button-up, if you prefer) shirt. As we both stood waiting for the culinary artists behind the counter to call our order numbers and present us with nutritious feasts*, I noticed that this guy had (seemingly) purposely left a few buttons toward the top of his shirt free of their button-holes. The result was a Sherwood Forest of hair follicles on display for all to see. The question is, did this man think folks would enjoy seeing that? Was it "his look"? After all, this was before the 80-degree temperatures became commonplace in the area, meaning using the heat as an excuse was not an option. I'm not here to say that he was wrong for letting his chest breathe. He had shoes, he had a shirt**, he gets service. It just seems that, in a public dining*** atmosphere, more discretion could be used... I guess I should just be glad he wasn't working in the kitchen.

*Translation: Waited for lady behind the counter to pass us our grease-caked Whoppers and fries.

**I'll never figure out how "pants" didn't work into that equation.

***Yes, I am probably stretching it by referring to BK as a "dining atmosphere." 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

From the Archives - OKC Trip

I received a reminder recently that, aside from a story on floor moppers, I hadn't posted much from a recent trip to Oklahoma City for to view the NCAA Tournament. Now it's time to work on rectifying that.

When one is driving south on I-35, there's no need to look for a sign alerting you when you cross from Kansas into Oklahoma. No, the canyon-like potholes and road-shoulders littered with shredded tires provide a welcome that no sign could. "Welcome to Oklahoma. Be kind to our roads, as we sure won't fix them... Oh yeah, if you add to our roadside collection of shredded rubber, you better have Survivorman-like skills, as cell phone coverage is as scant as Aborigines in the NBA."

The trip is a scenic one. Not only does one encounter massive billboards boasting that a rest stop has "CLEAN RESTROOMS," but - on rare occasions - you might even see a person bundled up like an eskimo, perched atop an overpass waving at passing cars.  It was like the guy had been hired to welcome folks to Alaska only to later find out he was horrendous when it came to reading maps.

At the Ford Center - the finest arena in all of downtown Oklahoma City - my brother in I took in some pretty good action. Between the dancing mascots* and the stranger jabbering next to me as if we were old roommates**, there was actually some excellent action on the court. We saw a Wildcat victory, a double-overtime thriller between BYU and Florida, and a Northern Iowa squad just days away from crushing the hopes of Jayhawks everywhere.

*It seems that, away from Kansas State University, dancing is a hobby embraced by mascots. The BYU Cougar showed off moves straight out of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," and even the Florida Gator performed moves with the flair of the most ravenous death roll. Why doesn't Wille the Wildcat dance in similar fashion? Is it because it's tough just maintaining balance with such a large head? (I can support that statement.) Is it because he's confused about why he has an animal head, yet a human body? I need answers.

**A big fan of a school that I don't exactly adore sat next to me for the second pair of games. He proceeded to fill me in on his life story (unfortunately I forgot to take notes that I could refer to later when writing his unauthorized biography, titled "There's a Point in Here Somewhere."), and also ask me on multiple occasions whether my brother and I had attended the first session of games. This would not have been a strange question, except K-State played in the first session of games, and we were wearing shirts that spelled out "K-State" in pretty blatant manner. Also, the answer to the question remained the same every time he asked it: "Yes. Sure did."

Unfortunately, our weekend in OKC wrapped up early, once meteorologists decided to begin forecasting blizzards for the city. Thus, we traveled through conditions that would have made the Abominable Snowman quiver to make it home on Friday night and watched K-State's second-round victory and KU's surprising tournament exit from the comfort of Kansas. It would have been pretty memorable to have had the opportunity to view such action from the Ford Center*, but I certainly wouldn't have changed the way things turned out.

*Contrary to popular belief, the Ford Center is neither made of Fords nor is it home to Harrison Ford.

Monday, April 05, 2010

It's Madness

April 5 marks the end of March Madness.

Yes, I realize that sentence makes about as much sense as Rod Blagojevich appearing on Celebrity Apprentice, but it's true. The championship game of the NCAA Tournament, or "March Madness" as the kids call it, is currently taking place. Granted, I cannot see it at the moment, thanks to the fact that Mother Nature is wreaking havoc on some counties to the north, but I don't think things stop in Indy due to hail in Hanover.

March Madness has become quite an event in recent years. Corporations line up to sponsor it, cities line up to host it, and scalpers line up to sell tickets for absurd amounts of money... Everyone wins! (Well, everyone but those buying absurdly expensive tickets.)

It seems that everyone celebrates the the annual tournament in their own way. My favorite, however, was something I encountered on Saturday. The nearby shopping mall may not feature an abundance of stores, but it has the basics. Need a book? Head to Waldenbooks. Need a greeting card? Head to Hallmark. Need some pants? Head to Dillon's... or J.C. Penney... or Sears... or American Eagle... or Aeropostale. Need something to help embrace this silly vampire fad? Go to Hot Topic.

I'm not much of a mall shopper, but when I'm there, I always make a point to stop at the sports memorabilia/sports cards/sports frosty mugs/random sports crap no one will ever buy (Denver Broncos earmuffs? C'mon...) store. Granted, I rarely buy anything (partly because I have a hard time putting down $50 for an autograph of an old roommate), but a trip down the aisles can remind me of days long gone.

See that 1989 Topps card of Jerry Don Gleaton? Yup, I have that one. You like the 1992 Bowman card of Cliff Floyd dunking a baseball? Yes, I have that, too. It's nice to have the chance to remember the days when any money I came across after mowing, or pulling weeds, or robbing liquor stores while dressed up as the Energizer Bunny*, went toward packs of sports cards. Sure, most are no longer even worth the cardboard they were printed on, but that is beside the point. After all, if the cash hadn't gone toward sports cards, it probably would have funded my Laffy Taffy habit instead.

*Scratch that one.

Now that we're way off topic, let's get back to this NCAA Tournament celebration. Since this store deals mostly with sports, you might think any sort of promotion it would have in place would involve basketball. Perhaps they could give discounts on merchandise for the schools in the Final Four. Maybe they could offer a "buy one, get one half-off" deal on all basketball cards. If they had really wanted to draw interest, they could have brought in an obese man on a treadmill to give the store that authentic locker room smell.

Nope, instead this store chose to ignore Dr. James Naismith's invention entirely. Instead, the sign at the store's entrance read: March Madness! 30% off all knives and swords.

Yes, you read that right. The promotion using "madness" in the title offered a discount on knives and swords. After my first glance, I had to look again to see if a picture of Jack Nicholson's character from The Shining also appeared. It didn't, but it probably should have.

How does the true sportsman embrace the finest in college basketball? By swinging a machete haphazardly, of course.

Now that's madness.