Friday, February 29, 2008

Some people collect Pez dispensers for fun...

From today's police blotter in my small town's news rag...

Let me break this down for you...

Remington 28 shotgun
Remington 12 shotgun
Remington 30.06 semi-auto rifle
Browning 28 shotgun
Marlin .22 semi-auto rifle
Marlin 3030 lever-action rifle
Ruger 9mm semi-auto pistol
Ruger 12 shotgun
Ruger .22 semi-auto rifle
Ruger .22 revolver
Ruger .22 mag revolver
Ruger .45 semi-auto handgun
Ruger .357 revolver
Kahr Arms .40 handgun
Mini .22 revolver

"Just taking my little firearm collection out for a drive, Officer."

Who says the 2nd Amendment isn't alive and well here in my small town?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Buying beer...a beer in my small town

The cheddar and beer fondue recipe listed 6 ounces of beer as ingredient number two.

That's right, I said fondue. You wanna make something out of it?

It's a Valentine's Day tradition in our house (regular YASTM readers will attest to the fact that we have many traditions in our abode).

This year the girl's were old enough that we were able to train them in the ways of non-double dipping and anti-saliva-swapping fondue forking techniques, which made for a much more authentic fondue pot sharing experience for my in-laws (now infamous for their lack of food sharing proclivities...even with each other).

No, I didn't get the awesome USB powered fondue pot that I was jonesing for last year, but we did add a little dessert pot this year and I found a new recipe that looked promising.

Chedder and beer fondue.

Problem was, we're not beer drinkers, so there wasn't a drop of beer to be found in the house.

On went my Sketchers, up went my hoodie, and out I went into the chilly below-30 degree morning in search of a can of beer.

First stop, the local grocery store, which, much to my chagrin, does not sell beer.

3 years in this town and I didn't realize this. Shows how much I buy beer.

The barely 17-year old checker informed me that I'd need to go to the gas station to get beer. The gas station. Of course, how silly of me.

Gas stations in my small town have long been relegated to the Leave-it-to-Beaver era and are now meccas of consumables and general merchandise known in the modern vernacular as "convenience items."

The fuel gauge on my daily driver was hovering comfortably close to F, so I felt confident that the few singles I had in my money clip should be enough to cover my one and only purchase - a beer.

Unfortunately, the barons of petrol convenience stores have deemed single cans of beer as unshelfworthy, opting instead to populate the valuable wired real estate in the chilled coolers with multi-packs, multi-multi-packs, and mega-multi-multi-packs of the hopped up, malted, barley'd, grain'd, and pure mountain spring water'd beverage.

Way off at the bottom southern corner of the last cooler door on the left, I found what I needed....single cans of beer.

Only, not the 12 oz. normal 6-pack sized cans. These were 24-oz monster towers of pop-top aluminum, that are normally relegated to golf carts because the Beer Lady can be mighty scarce at times when playing 18 on a hot, summer day.

My dreams of walking out of the store with a single, little tin can of Bud Light along with change from a buck were dashed, as I reached for a can of the only non-multi-packed beer they sold.

Then the puritan in me (okay, I was surprised to find that I had a puritan side) found myself attempting to devise some sort of explanation to the elderly cash register wielding clerk for why I was buying what amounted to 1/3 of a six pack of beer at 9:30 in the morning....on a school day.

Quickly I reasoned that the truth would be too bizarre and more than the lady could comprehend, so I kept my fondue story to myself and resigned myself to accept that from now until the end, I will be labeled as a "morning beer guzzling alky" by a small portion of the population of my small town.

After I used the requisite 6 ounces of beer for my fondue, the rest of the can sacrificed itself to the spirits of the insinkerator.

Some might say, "what a waste."
Others may mutter, "what a shame."
My in-laws just said, "I liked that beer fondue."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hummus among us

Jobe's was closed.

Well, not closed for good, but while my nuclear wife and 2.5 kids and I dipped our pita bread into freshly made hummus and dined on Greek-style moussaka and kababs at the restaurant next door to Jobes's last Saturday, the lack of cars, people, and signs of life at the old Route 66 drive-in and the thought that they wouldn't be open for business on a Saturday was slightly depressing.

Whoa, back up there. Did I really write hummus, and moussaka, and kababs?

Welcome to Georgeo's Meditteranean Cafe, on Route 66 in El Reno, Oklahoma.

I had noticed this place whenever I did happen to drive by since it looked done and ready to open but never had it's shingle hung for business. And let's face it, an eatery that was hawking something other than burgers, chicken-fried steak and pizza within a 30-minute drive of my small town was bound to attract my attention.

Well, the place finally opened, Georgeo was a gracious and entertaining host, his wife's cooking was top notch, and the bill for the horrendous amount of food we consumed was checkbook pleasing.

And even though the food we were eating was deliciously Greek, the music pumping through the recessed speakers in the ceiling was Greek, and the sites and smells surrounding us in the tastefully decorated eatery were all very Greek, a thoughtful study of the menu revealed that we were indeed, still in Oklahoma.

Chicken-fried steak and dolmas.
Barbeque burger and baba ganoosh.
Spanakopita and spaghetti.
Gyro platter and 12 oz. ribeye.
And on the back page of the menu, pizza, any way you want it.

The menu reflects a hodgepodge of items I'm sure Georgeo would PREFER to offer alongside items he feels COMPELLED to offer, in dedicated service to the occasionally limited palate of his customers.

Or perhaps he took this episode of Seinfeld to heart, not wanting to repeat the error of Babu's ways.

BTW, a quick phone call today revealed that Jobe's, the burger joint mainstay of El Reno's stretch of the Mother Road, is indeed still flipping, frying, and flinging burgers. Whew!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Who's that peekin' round the bend?

Like most bloggers, I enjoy a little voyeuristic peek into who is visiting my blog now and again.

Tools such as SiteMeter and other hit counter/tracker type objects make it easy to not only track where the hits are coming from, but provide a bevy of other information about the hittees as well.

Such as this bit of info I screenshot recently from my own SiteMeter logs...specifically, look at the sixth category down, "Operating System."

Yes, you can run Windoze on a Mac. And according to this Mac ad (and PC World magazine), it apparently can run faster.

Unfortunately, the Microserf excuse-for-an-OS will still be as buggy, and ugly, and nonsense ridden, and cryptic as ever, regardless of what computer it's being run on.

Like putting a Yugo motor in a Shelby Cobra. It may start, and run, and get you to the grocery store once in awhile, but you'd be constantly wondering when (not if) the sad excuse for a vehicular powerplant was going to blue screen you, leaving you stranded by the side of the road.

And yes, I too enjoyed the irony that the hittee in this particular instance was using a corporate IBM connection to browse my blog.

So, near as I can figure, this person was an IBM employee, running WindozeXP on a Mac.

Course, I could have misinterpreted the data and be totally wrong.

But if not...sweet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Voices from the front, via down under

Back in September of last year, we sent a few packages of comfort items from home to a soldier we knew serving in Iraq.

Yesterday a package arrived from the soldiers Mom in Australia with some gift items for the girls and a nice card thanking us for the kind gesture we made toward her son last year.

I'm happy to report that the young marine is doing well and even though he didn't make it stateside for the holidays, he did make it back to his folks in Caringbah NSW where he went shopping and picked up a bunch of Aussie themed "prezzys" for the girls.

Among other items, the box of goodies contained their first glimpse of a stuffed kookaburra, platypus, echidna, and something that looks like an Aussie version of a capybara (wombat).

Along with the stuffies were a couple of Aussie flag caps, some tattoos, magnets, stickers and a bunch of sea shells which threw C into a whirlwind of emotion and commotion as she played "got it - don't got it - got it -don't got it" with each and every one.

Gonna have to find somewhere to put her vast shell collection.

And what Aussie gift pack would be complete without a jar or tube of this tasty bread spread...

Yep, our girls are going to get their first taste of the slimy brown yeast-whiz so popular with the youth of Australia.

I'll of course have their ACT fluoride rinse and toothbrushes ready and loaded to bear on hand for the inevitable American-post-Vegemite-consumption reaction. Those of us who sought out and tried the stuff after listening to the Men at Work croon about it in the classic 80's hit, "I Come from a Land Down Under," know exactly what I'm talking about.

It's an acquired taste.

We're starting to put together another package for the young Marine who is now stationed in Afghanistan, although seeing as how his home turf is the land down under, I'm not sure if our "taste of home" items we sent last time around actually gave him a true taste of his home.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cupcake got a tongue lashing

Already having documented and demonstrated how my youngest daughter ate a sprinkled donut, removed her slippers, and snarfs down a turkey leg...

I now present to you, the proper method for consuming a homemade Valentine party cupcake with butter cream frosting.

On the left, the before.
On the right, the after.

You're most welcome.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bada-bing...from a can?

Let me preface this blog entry by saying that the best pizza I've ever eaten, is usually the one I'm eating at the time I'm being asked, "what is the best pizza you've ever eaten."

I've walked the streets of NYC while chowing down on a locally bought folded quarter-slice wedge of cheese.

I've loosened my belt a notch after snarfing an entire deep dish masterpiece at Pizzeria Uno's in Chicago.

I've had crust so thin and crispy, a Ritz cracker would have felt overweight and dough so puffy and light that the air escaping from the crust as I bit into it sighed with pleasure.

I served pizza at my wedding, and eat pizza with my Wife for every nuptial anniversary in whatever state we happen to be in.

I'm not a pizza expert. Like any red-blooded American, I just appreciate a slice of the good stuff.

So imagine my reserved joy when I heard the radio ads for a joint in the city called Falcone's.

Encouraging signs that built my hopes up...
  • Online reviews were generally positive...# 9 on guys list.
  • A craigslist posting by the restaurant is looking for experience pizza throwers, not just generic pizza cooks.
  • Radio ad pitchman claimed to be the owner and even though he sounded a little too authentic New York Italian to be an actor and may have been pouring on the accent to get his point across, I gave him points for pitching his own joint to the masses...with attitude.
  • Even liked his cojones when dealing with the Edmond Planning Commission and City Council that tried to stifle his authentic use of his ancestral flags colors when detailing the exterior of his restaurant.
  • Finally, I heard the owner state in a local radio interview that he "...can't actually make New York style pizza crust here or anywhere's but New York, since he'd need New York water to do it."
  • It's true, look it up.

    I was starting to get hungry and readying a plan to take my family on a little trip to New York City via Bricktown OKC.

    But then there were these...
    Warning signs not to get my hopes up...
  • No website. What is up with that? Every business should have a website, period.
  • Use of the slang phrase "bada-bing" in their marketing strategy.
  • The take-out menu seemed to go out of its way to display more attitude than substance and did it's best to capitalize on the popularity of a certain HBO Italian crime family series that recently finished it's run. Okay, the Top 10 reasons to get Whacked kinda cracked me up.

  • I finally did get to sample the famous Falcone's pizza pie a few weeks back and I only have one question.

    Do canned mushrooms (like pineapple and canadian bacon) have any place on an authentic pizza made and sold by a second generation Italian American, born and raised in New York who still makes his meatballs by hand?

    Other than that, the pie was most definitely, "the best pizza I've ever eaten."

    Hey, you asked.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Hallmark -1, Parental Sanity - 0

    Due to my voluntary service last Valentine's Day of making deliveries for the local florist as a fundraiser for my eldest daughter's school PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), I was more than familiar with the overindulgent behavior displayed by many of the elementary school parents in our small town.

    What may have started as an innocent and loving gesture by a long absent Grandparent or traveling salesman father who was on the road and couldn't see his kids on Valentine's Day, has become an explosion of opulence and indulgence the likes of which even Britney Spears would probably approve of.

    Like in most things topical in my life, I choose to remain oblivious and non-opinionated on most matters of controversy, citing my advanced degree in clueless fatherhooding of my two daughters, as well as my status as a Stay-at-home-Dad (better known in my small town as a fish-out-of-water).

    However when my Wife went to spend 30-minutes with our 2nd grader at her classes Valentine's Day party and saw the following display of V-day goodies sitting on the school office counter awaiting delivery to ankle biters...

    ...she came home spitting caustic vitriol all the while questioning the negative effect that "Keeping up with the Jones' " is having on our small town.

    Apparently the effect was felt at the parochial school where our youngest attends Pre-K, as the Principal informed my Wife and I that the gymnasium floor was filled with V-day deliveries for the students, the most decadent display of parental affection for their kid manifesting itself as a dozen long stem roses sent to a kindergartener.

    Topper of the day came when a classmate/friend of our 8-year old that is suffering from an obesity issue proudly announced that HER parents sent a giant chocolate chip cookie to her in her class.

    And while it was only slightly painful explaining to our 2nd grader why she was one of a handful of her classmates NOT to have received a delivered bouquet of flowers, stuffed animals, or a mylar balloon tied to a 6 oz. can of Dr. Pepper, we were able to disseminate from her that the vast majority of her classmates who did receive an in-classroom delivery from their parents, we're bus riders and after school daycare devotees.

    To which my Wife murmured almost to herself and almost under her breath, "How much guilt relief does a can of soda and helium balloon buy nowadays?"

    Sometimes I think "harsh" is my Wife's middle name.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Tailgating is allowed ...and encouraged

    Is there anything that regurgitates nostalgia better than the sight of two tykekins swinging their legs on the tailgate of a classic car-truck parked in a cemetery while watching their Mother ride her road bike around and around, mile after mile as she trains for her big bike ride?

    Thought so.

    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    Lay-ing on the sweet and spicy

    A new item popped up in the impulse buy checkstand display at my small town's non-Walmart StupidCenter supermarket.

    Overheard conversation between two insulated-coverall wearing gents while standing in the checkout line behind them ...

    "Lookit wing flavored chips."
    Yeah. Looks good, thought we should try 'em.
    Get two.

    He nods and does, while the other Guy takes a good long look at the picture on the chip bag.

    "Says here sweet and spicy."
    "Yep, sweet aaaand spicy."
    "Terry-yakee. What's that?"
    "Look here, right here, says (slowly) terry-yakee."
    "Yuchy? "
    "Yeah, yuchy...maybe we shouldn't get these, says they're yuchy right on the front" (joking).

    They chuckle and make their purchases, while I am forced to pick up a bag for a closer looksee.

    One can see how one might mistake the coated drummettes in the picture for a miniscule pile of a plate of Hooter's finest hot wings...or didn't know what the heck teriyaki was.

    BTW, they were sweet and spicy and quite delicious.

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    The view from behind is often not pretty

    I am not a backing-into-a-parking-space kinda guy.

    Nor am I a one-handed parallel-parking-using-only-my-mirrors kinda guy.

    And the desire to own, drive, or attempt to park any vehicle that has a back end longer than the length of a typical garage, just isn't on my want/need list.

    Given those last three statements, it's quite obvious that I most definitely am not a pulling-something-behind-my-vehicle kinda guy.

    In my small town (and let's face it, just about anywhere in Okie-land), if you have a vehicle with a posted towing capacity in it's owners manual that doesn't have a tow hitch, ball, bar, or some other pulling attachment of some sort dangling off the back end, you are persona non-grata.

    And the only reason I have such a contraption on the back of the Elky, was because it came that way from the little old Cajun dude in Louisiana whom I bought it from some 3 years ago.

    As such, and since the Elky does have the little steel ball of pulling power and enough oomph to pull a trailer, my F-i-L thinks nothing of asking me to haul a load of our house restoration leavin's to the dump via his little 4-walled 12-foot trailer.

    And every time he comes 'round with his little trailer and we have a big day of demolition ahead of us, I get that anxious rattling at the end of my keychain, knowing that my trailer pulling and backing up skills (or lack thereof) will yet again be put to the test.

    Well, our 10'x17' mudroom is coming along nicely, and will be soon be resplendent with a deep doggie washing capable laundry sink, an industrial size slide out laundry folding table, four open lockers (NFL style...the NBA style just didn't suit S for some reason) complete shoe puttin'ontakin'off seats, upper storage for sports equipment, and lower storage for shoes, acres of cabinet space for linens, towels, and seasonal clothing, a sleeping area for Franny, a fold down hand-wash delicates hang drying rack, three overhead light fixtures, broom closet, hidden ironing board, and a gift wrapping area.

    Oh, and a little art space corner for the girls to get their painting faces on.

    But all this construction comes at a price, and that total was paid in full with my recent trip to haul away the lathe-plaster-sheetrock-lumber-nails, dust and dirt that we removed to make way for the new and improved mudroom.

    Let's just say that it probably took me longer to back that trailer up the 50 foot, 13 degree inclined ramp leading to the open maw of the dumpster pit, than it did for my F-i-L and I to load the old mudroom lathe and plaster offal into that darn little trailer in the first place.

    Luckily only one fella was waiting - with the patience of a Farmer watching his wheat grow - to dump his load after me.

    I was too preoccupied with the sweat-inducing goings-ons out my rear and side view mirrors to notice how smirky, surprised, or self-satisfied the Farmer was (and deservedly so) as he watched me struggle with and against my Sisyphusian 2-wheeled boulder.

    A good friend of mine in LA, after he bought his boat, took his trailer to a large empty parking lot to practice, practice, practice pulling and towing and parking his boat trailer.

    Very soon after, he became a pulling-something-behind-his-vehicle kinda guy.

    Maybe there's hope for me yet.