Monday, June 30, 2008

The House has one seat empty

Put the words "State House Representative" and "obituary" together and my SoCal born and bred brain conjures up images of gnarley 15 car pile ups on the 4-level interchange, death by law enforcement suicide, speed ball overdoses and chopper crashes in federally declared FEMA disaster areas -- hey, I'm from LA remember.

Then I move here and three years later something like this crosses my smog-clearing eyeballs...

I don't know anything about this guy, and couldn't care less about whatever political machinations he had in the works, however the fact that he was a duly elected official in one of the highest governmental bodies of the state...and he died while working his farm, well, that just blew me away.

A good portion of the population out here make their living working the land and living off of it's bounty and it seems they like people representing them who live and work in their muddy work boots right alongside them.

Reason # 4,892 why I'll never run for office here in my adopted home state. My credentials just don't hold up to the honorable Mr. Hyman.

Okay, the fact that he was a card carrying member of both the NRA and Democratic party kinda cracks me up as well.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Raising a geek for a daughter

Just returned from taking the girls to see Wall•E at our local theater.

Hopefully you'll dig it as much as they did. I dug it as they did, and then some.

Here's why.

A simple sound. This sound actually...or at least it's one of these sounds in the medley of Macintosh startup sounds...

During the flick, the little Johnny-5 inspired robot emits this particular sound when he recharges via his solar panels, or reboots from his overnight slumber. When my eldest daughter (8) first heard this sound emitting from Wall•E, she turned to me and gave me a knowing smile -- the one that instantly communicated to me that she recognized the sound and was smiling because she knew that I knew what the sound was.

This was my first brush with a "familiarity-of-shared-experience-while-watching-a-movie" type of moment between an offspring of mine and I and I'll treasure it always.

Thanks Wall•E.

Following are a few nerd herd wink-winks contained in the flick as gathered by a Times-Picayune critic.

"The bleeps-and-blips-heavy "voice" of robot WALL*E is provided by Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt, who did the same for R2-D2 in the "Star Wars" films.

The art-history-flavored closing credits are as sit-throughable as they come, including a nod to impressionists, to 8-bit computer graphics, and to everything in between.

Paying tribute to the film's sci-fi inspirations, "Alien" actor Sigourney Weaver -- who dealt with an overzealous onboard computer in that sci-fi classic -- provides the voice for the ship's computer in "WALL*E."

In-house, Pixar animators referred to WALL*E's cockroach friend as "Hal, " a dual tribute to legendary comedy director Hal Roach and the computer in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

As always, Pixar's "good-luck charm, " John Ratzenberger, voices a role in "WALL*E, " that of a newly awakened human named, appropriately, John."

Bonus points for the faithful Mac-heads out there if you can pick out which Macintosh model line that Wall•E's start-up/reboot sound derives from. (Personally, my dineros on either Jake, Mr. B in NYC, or Kmodem on this one).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I am Paddle to the sea...not quite

Yet another summertime sojourn found myself and my family unit on a Friday evening down at Lake Hefner in the city hosted by the good folks at OKCKayak.

We opted for the quick start lesson only to discover that our 5-year old was suddenly channeling Nanook of the North and our 8-year old was bugging Dave (the ultra cool owner) to teach her how to Eskimo roll her plastic lake buggy.

Several times we had to stop and marvel at PK, both hands firmly gripping the two-paddled oar, twisting at her little waist (kayakers don't use their arms to paddle -- it's more of an upper body twisting motion), sunglasses hanging low on her nose bridge, as she maneuvered and steered her solo 8' kayak with the ease and grace of a veteran river rat.

C, whose been paddling a canoe around my in-laws Lake Eufaula boat dock since she could walk, was comfortable enough in the water, but took a few frustrating pre-teen rants to get used to the two bladed paddle. She finally resorted to using her entire upper body to paddle (as she was instructed in the lesson) when her arms grew weary after the first 30 minutes.

While the kayaks we were paddling about were boldly labeled as ocean-ready vessels, the thought of taking one of these sturdy by small Polyethylene Thermoplast rigs out where the waves are crashing, the sharks are circling, and the only thing between me and the long walk towards the water-logged light is my pathetic ability to tread water for a few seconds, I think I'll stick to paddling around a calm, Oklahoma lake in the summer.

And at $15 a hour for solo rentals, the sunset social paddles could become a nice way to wind down the week on a Friday evening, tossing together a bit of exercise, cashing of some sanity checks and paddling around for some good old fashion family fun time.

Ideally, the splendid evening would have ended with hot chocolate and snuggly bedtime reading of one of my favorite stories, Paddle-to-the-Sea.

But alas, the girls both fell asleep in the car on the 45-minute drive home, both Wifey and I were upper body sore, and it turns out I don't have a copy of the famed Caldecott award winning tome to begin with.

So, in the late night stillness of our century old house, in the middle of our small town on the Oklahoma prairie, I fired up YouTube and watched the Academy-Award nominated film version instead.

Please put me back in the water...I am Paddle-to-the-Sea.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Discoveryland USA!

Our quest to find edu-tational distractions for ourselves and our brood of two, recently led us here.

Habitual YASTM readers may recall our centennial brush with the musical named for our great panhandled state. My Wife had heard about this little gem of live musical theater out in the environs just west of Tulsa for years, but had never experienced it for herself.

Other than the fact that a nice Jewish girl form Florida was playing Laurey and a handsome canuck did the honors as Curley (both of whom were terrific and a joy to watch on stage) the production was first rate and so far beyond our expectations that we promised ourselves we'd return to partake of the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers production before the theater goes dark in the fall.

The pre-show activities were a nice distraction from the heat and humidity offered by the Sand Springs atmosphere, as was the ribeye sandwich cowboy supper offered up as part of a deluxe D-land USA package.

Yet amidst all the cowboy frontier revelry -- the Pony Express demonstration, the Native American dancer, mechanical bull ride (couldn't get PK off of this thing yelling, "faster, faster" to the operator), not to mention the play itself -- a tad of pre-teen modernism crept forward in the face of my 8-year old when asked by the Native American face painter if she wanted some authentic "Indian" markings on her face, to which she replied, "No thanks...what'd I'd really like is a big heart with the words, "Go Girl!" around it."


Friday, June 20, 2008

Winds of change motoring down Main Street

The model of car that my Wife drives is considered sporty.

At least, that's what the manufacturer labeled it. And by bolting on some aero body kits parts, front air dam, a rear spoiler and a few well placed and colorful badges, the car company was able to jack up the price in an attempt to capture both the youth market as well as the buyers who wanted an econo import sedan that didn't look so much like an Avis rental.

My Wife bought this car off the lot when we needed to replace our old family truckster that met it's demise at the hands of a 16-year old on Easter Sunday a few years back.

She's been giggly over the 42-mpg (highway) mileage she gets on her 100 mile-a-day commute, with her only complaint being the increasing number of people who almost daily ask her if she was interested in selling her car.

When gas prices started climbing in earnest a year or two ago, we even started seeing a few more of these sporty little sedans around our small town. The elementary school principal's wife bought one (California transplants, like us). The mother of PK's 4th grade reader/mentor at her school bought one (again, California transplants). Recently, another one showed up in the parking lot of the church 2 blocks down and around the corner from us...with Washington state plates on it.

Three years ago when we moved to our small town, I could count on my fingers and toes the number of small, econo boxes that I'd see buzzing around town...most of which were either Dodge Neons, Chevy Cavaliers or Pontiac Grand Am (2-doors). Trucks and SUV's outnumbered the small sedans by such a significant margin that it wasn't even worth mentioning.

That has slowly begun to change and I'm wondering what, oh what pray tell, could be the cause of such a transition.

Just this morning, an acquaintance of ours that works at one of the large Toyota dealerships in the city was telling us in confidence (so of course, I blog about it), that the local mandate from Toyota corporate has stated in no uncertain terms, that they are not, repeat, NOT to take in any domestic SUVs or Trucks as trade-ins.

Which may explain why we're seeing a lot more Trucks and SUVs with "For Sale" signs on them, parked in the "Off-Off-Broadway Used Car Lot" that is our now abandoned old school WalMart.

Heck, I even saw a couple Prius' motoring down Main Street...very quietly.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tale of a mouse's tail

It was the night before we were to leave for what looked to be one of the most physically arduous and psychologically challenging weeks in my wife's recent memory.

We had dropped the girl's off at my in-laws and were flourishing the final checks on a myriad of leaving-for-a-week-and-camping-out-on-the-road check lists (house, garden, garage, car, camp stuff, cycling, video equipment, etc.)

A few ticks after the witching hour we felt confident enough in our trip preparation schematics and execution to retire, knowing we had an early morning drive followed by S doing a short 38-mile Day 0 ride from the start town (Marrieta, OK) to the Texas border and back -- see, it wouldn't be a true Texas to Kansas bike ride unless you actually started in Texas).

Enter the mouse's tail.

For some reason around wheat harvest time, the neighborhood cats are either overwhelmed by the sheer number of field mice running around town, or succumb to the heat and humidity in the atmosphere, as we always manage to shelter one or two mice during the running of the combines.

Past experience with what I've labeled, the "Cut Wheat Ralph Run" - named sympathetically for the infamous Mouse on a Motorcycle, Ralph S. Mouse has forced me to maintain vigil over a few traps set around the house, baited with peanut butter and cheese.

In the past three years, my varmint mini-WMD's have netted approximately 3 scores in the X column.

However, while we blissfully slept that pre-FreeWheel night, my snores drowning out the glass shattering winds buffeting our bedroom window while S dreamt of long downhills, 15 mph southeasterly tailwinds and endless water bottles filled with beef jerky flavored Gatorade (her two favorite road energy snacks), a fateful transaction was taking place at a mouse hole nearby.

The snap of the trap springing was barely enough to stir us from rem sleep. Nay, fear not for it was the systematic click-click-clatter-clatter sound that was organically motoring from one point to the next along the hardwood bedroom floor that finally aroused the sleeping giants from within.

When the unmistakable sound of the wooden and metal mouse trap being dragged along the floor finally ceased, only to be replaced by a periodic thunk --- thunk --- thunk --- thunk, that repeated with the regularity of a hard drives actuator arm stuck on a back disc sector, I knew our little visitor was stuck for good and ready to meet the master.

While S cowered under the, I mean fell back asleep to the soothing sounds of her husband politely evicting an unwanted tenant, it took me no time at all to find the subject of this weeks Ralph Run -- or at least I found the mouse trap being futilely pulled through a small hole beneath our bedroom's westerly pocket door.

Think large square peg in a small round hole. In this case, the square peg had snagged the middle of a mouse's tail.

As much as the girls would have loved to have kept this particular Ralph as a pet, I felt a more naturalistic demonstration of disposal to be appropriate, to which I donned my flip flops, carried trap and mouse outside, and promptly released the late night visitor in the tall grassy field at the end of the alley -- where the neighborhood feral cat gang regularly conduct their nightly furrapalooza.

Back in bed and looking at an alarm clock set to buzz a mere 20 minutes from that moment, I pondered the cruel hand of fate dealt to the field mouse, chased from the safety of the wheat fields and forced to seek shelter in the walls of my 113-year old house, only to find his favorite appendage snagged in the jaws of a spring loaded wooden and metal wonder, then released in the turf of his most rivaled gang.

I gave him 1 in 100.

Post-mortem of sorts, none of the traps we rigged were tripped upon our return from FreeWheel, so perhaps we've seen the end of this years "Cut Wheat Ralph Run." I am ever vigil.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"20 bucks on pump #2 and a maguro roll to go..."

Spotted on a rare trip to downtown OKC, to have lunch with Wifey.

Even I was not brave enough to follow the tempting red helvetica font letters of this sign into the Downtown Plaza Shell C-stop (in the shadow of some gold domed building) to sample their fresh, daily made sushi.

But who knows, someday, I just may be desperate enough.

Going back to my small town now, where such temptation is non-existent.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The road leads home...even on two wheels.

Oklahoma FreeWheel '08 is done.

Rather than go into a weekly, day-to-day, hour-by-hour breakdown of our week on the road (me in the 42 mpg import, chasing S down with a video camera on her LeMond road bike) I'm just going to adduce some observations and reflections.

Oklahoma is not flat, nor dry, dusty and barren.

If you think your town is a small town, hear me now, there are many, many towns that are much smaller than yours.

If all TV News Weather persons were cyclists, they may be a little less sensational with their forecasts.

Cyclists come in all shapes, sizes, skill levels, and sensibilities. You know that nearing-retirement guy standing behind you in line at the C-stop (cyclist speak for gas station/convenience store) with the truckers cap, a hard and solid beer gut, long beard and grubby stained dungarees? Well, picture him in spandex cycling shorts, a brightly colored jersey, streamline helmet, sunglasses and holding a sport bottle up to his mouth in-between pedal strokes and you've just met roughly a quarter of the male participants in OK FreeWheel.

Grandparents who looked more appropriate to be in line at the geriatric doctor's office than in biker's shorts and jerseys took up a good portion of the rides retinue, as did youngsters no older than my own two girls, family pets, and a good representation of father-daughter/father-son/mother-daughter/mother-son sets on tandems.

Basically, take the entire staff of the tv show, "The Office," (this includes Stanley, Bryan, and Phyllis) put them in cycling shorts and jerseys and you have the 800+ population of the Oklahoma FreeWheel in a nutshell...quirky personalities included.

S had several "moments of truth" moments while on the ride, the first one occurring during the day long 64-mile lightning and thunderstorm ride from Sulphur to Seminole (she rode the entire day).

Another screamed from within her while navigating the 10 and 12 percent graded hills on the 70-mile ride from Henryetta to Drumright (not once did she dismount and walk up a hill).

The most emotionally poignant moment came in the faces of the two young girls who were murdered in the small town of Weleetka (one of the rides final rest stops on Day 3) and in the faces of family and friends of the girls who were selling cookies and water to raise money for their funerals.

On a lighter note, my new can't-sleep-without-it tent camping item - my battery powered fan.

S' can't-go-to-the-bathroom-in-the-middle-of-the-night item - her noggin mounted headlight.

Finally, the can't-do-without item for anyone who camped next to our tent and couldn't deal with my snoring the way my wife can - foam earplugs.

There are several listings in the blogosphere with detailed accounts of the entire ride from Texas to Kansas, this being a decent one if you are at all interested (pics included). My take on laying out some heavy duty retrospection of the event is that it's one of those "you had to have been there," gigs.

Heck, I was there as a coat tailer myself with not a second of cycle seat time, so who am I to espouse "freewheelisms" so freely.

As a outsider observing the event through the lens of my video cameras and the filter that was my non-cyclist status, for me it was about the lives I was inventing for the people I would see on the journey or meet in the camp after the days long ride was over.

Like the young girl who we dubbed "Single-Speed April", that cruised along through life as she cruised through FreeWheel, on her own schedule, at her own pace -- seemingly always skirting the edge of deadlines but always making them none-the-less. A butterfly on the wind that managed to land on the right flower, not all that concerned with what flower it was, as long as she was out of harms way and near those who shared her interest in cycling.

There was the fella we all called "Forrest, Forrest Gump," the barely there, socially schitzophrenic, and borderline autistic savant character that pedaled his ancient, cobbled together Franken-cycle to the finish line every day, mumbled to himself for company, and cradled his new Camelbak water-filled backpack (presented to him by a king-hearted fellow cyclist) with the passion of a mother with her newborn.

We ran into "Lawton Jerry" several times on the road, at the rest stops and in camp, who had better luck with his cycles than he did with wife selection (4th wife, 2nd cycle). We bonded with "Prince Charming Barry" and his 14-year old daughter, "Princess Extremely Charming Lauren" from Phoenix, who were sharing a daddy/daughter bonding week on their Cannondale tandem cycle.

There were dozens more S cycle-bonded with on the road, dozens more we camp-bonded with at the end of the daily journey, and still dozens more we exchanged emails with in that final mile of the final day.

On the drive home from Kansas back to our small town, the LeMond happily secured to the trunk rack and the last of my stash of Cliff bars and G2 Gatorade being consumed by S and I, our thoughts and conversation soon left behind the talk of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and onto the weeks ahead filled with work assignments for her and girls of summer tasks for me.

Not quite willing to let go of this great thing that my mid-life wife had just done and the pride I was feeling for her completion of it, I asked her if she wanted to do it again next year, to which she replied, "It's kinda like pregnancy...ask me again in a month or so when I've forgotten how much of a pain it was to go through."

Meanwhile I'll be spending my Father's Day logging and digitizing 5 hours of miniDV footage and transferring 4, 16-gig SDHC memory cards worth of 1080i video - basically reliving the entire week all over again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Report from the Oklahoma FreeWheel road

Hot, humid, got rained on for an entire day (lightning, thunder, headwind), spent one night on the floor at a Methodist Church in Seminole, OK., but OK FreeWheel is rockin' and S is a pedaling fool.

Longest day of riding was today (72 miles), but the southerly tail winds helped her along -- the 90+ degree heat didn't.

Partying in Drumright, OK tonight. More from the road if I can find a library that's open late in the next 3 towns on our tour.

And I haven't run over any bikers...yet.

Friday, June 06, 2008

We're OKFreeWheel bound

OKFreeWheel is a cross state week long mass bike ride from the Texas to Kansas border in the heat and humidity of the Oklahoma summer.

Nutso x 1000...I'm right there with you.

Even more nutso when my lovely 40-something wife announced that she was considering doing it, was using her birthday check present from my Mom to get a road bike, and wanted me to document the entire process on video for her, from bike purchase to final collapse at the Kansas border.

That was a mere 6 months ago. Since then, she's trained and rode and shopped (oops, I mean, "outfitted herself in the appropriate biking attire") and agonized and fought against the Oklahoma wind and shopped ("acquired the required biking gear,") and changed a flat and shopped (ibid) and attended most of the FreeWheel seminars and shopped and bitched about how fast the start day was approaching and sweat and shopped and well...shopped.

So here we are, on the eve of the start date. Her mind, body, and spirit may not be fully prepared for the onslaught of physical tediousness and tension, but her wardrobe is ready, her outfits are set, and she has every doohickey, tool, gadget, bag and bottle that she'll ever need, ever, ever again.

Macgyver should be so well prepared.

Her duffel bags are not packed, the tent has not been seam sealed, her bike has yet to be picked up from the shop where it is being tuned up, and the laundry room is running in overtime since we also have to pack the girls up for their 9 night stay at Club Grandparent.

But somehow we'll be ready. Somewhere we'll be set. And sometime she'll hopefully come to her senses.

Six months later, it still seems like a nutso x 1000 thing to do.

But do it she will, struggle she might, and following her in my car I'll be, documenting her journey with my 3-chip video camera, a wireless lavalier mic hanging on her lapel, and a custom mounted Sanyo HD micro video camera riding shotgun on her handlebars.

Needless to say, I won't be blogging during our journey, but I'm sure I'll have more small town moments to report on, as we travel through some of the smallest towns in the state, in a most unusual (at least for these parts) mode of transportation.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gennie on standby

This time of the year in my small town (at least on the section of the locally owned and operated electrical grid where my house resides) is what we've coined the "bright-boom-dark-room" time of the year.

Seems that the utility pole that serves the 4 house block we live on is the favorite target of any and all lightning strikes that make their way down to terra firma Oklahoma.

That's right. Almost without fail, if there is a lightning storm within a 25 mile radius, our power goes out. I'm not saying our power grid is old and utterly vulnerable to the ravages of our weather, but at times it seems all it'd take to kill our power would be for an 18-wheeler on the highway to flash it's highbeams at us.

After the tenth or so instance of flash-boom-bang during our first spring/summer here, we're totally prepared with our flashlight/candle and matches routine.

Once the candles are glowing and the flickering of flames transports our 19th century home back into the days from whence it was originally built, I'll normally step out on the front porch, peer uptown and see if our historic downtown is powerless as well.

When it is, I rejoice knowing that the powerful powers that be that power and repair the power lines in our town will be powerfully motivated to get on the ball and up the power poles if more than one block (my block) is being affected by the "bright-boom-dark-room" event.

ETA for power restoration is about 20 minutes in this instance.

If, however, my porch view survey reveals that just our block is down, then I settle in for a good 45-60 minute wait.

Seeing as how the NOAA just announced Tornado Watch #462 (that's for 2008, thus far), I went out to the garage to test fire up my trusty old 5000 watt generator, run an extension cord from the generator to the house, and wait for the lights to go out.

Which in a wonky, roundabout way, brings me to the actual topic of this post.

For reasons I'm choosing not to reveal at this time (future post perhaps) I acquired a 5000 watt gas powered generator back in my grad school days. Gennie and I were quite popular and in-demand with the crowd I was running with at the time and she enjoyed many hours of use and abuse.

When I made the move out to the middle of the Oklahoma prairie, Gennie came with me -- even though it had literally been years since I had checked her oil, drained her gas tank, or fired her up. She however made the trip without complaint, being the trooper she was, and sat quietly in a corner of my garage for the 3 years since our arrival.

After the last several rounds of bright-boom-dark-room took out our power for the third night in a row, I decided to renew my past relationship with Gennie and see if she would see fit to service my electrical needs again, in times of power line failure and windless sorrow.

At first inspection, she wasn't a very pretty lady. The gas left in her tank and lines had turned to varnish. The needle valve in her carb was disintegrated, the float frozen in gunk and time, and the starter pull cord was frayed beyond repair.

She needed surgery, STAT.

Luckily, I live in the state of Oklahoma grace -- aka the lawn mowing lap of luxury, and found a crusty old dude sitting in a crusty old chair, repairing yet another crusty old lawn mower in the rear of the crusty old lawn mower repair shop.

Having spent a goodly amount of time and money in engine supply houses, I knew better than to question the total surety with which the shop owner plopped my needed parts on the counter, and the utter lack of hesitation with which he told me that the parts he gave me weren't for the Tecumseh powerplant at the heart of Gennie, but would work fine, "just the same."

Had he taken the time to look up the part numbers in a book, online database, or parts manual, I imagine my confidence might have been a little shaken. But in the time I've been around old dudes who have spent their lives working on things of a mechanical nature, I've only been burned once when handed a part that wasn't the exact part I needed and told it would work just fine.

True to my gut instincts and the Lawn Mower Shop dude, the parts worked fine, the carb rebuild went swimmingly, I flushed out the gunk, filled her up with some fresh ethanol free 87-octane,and got her fired up on the third pull of her brand new starter pull cord.

Gennie nows sits idly by, sporting a sexy blue nylon tarp secured by bungie cords of complimentary colors, waiting for the day when our power goes out for more than the requisite hour, and a few quick pulls brings extension corded light to our darkened abode on the prairie.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sgt. Schultz was right...Deutsch Lebensmittel ist wunderbar!

On our way home from our recent harvest sojourn, we passed through the bustling town of Lawton, Oklahoma (population 93,000) - pretty huge and culturally diverse city by OK standards.

What this meant to my immediate situation was a chance for my family and I to dine on food of a more international menu -- something we took for granted back in our LA days, but look back on now with fondness and gastronomical desire.

As much as my wife and I were tempted to tempt fate and tempt our taste sensations with the tantalizing temptations awaiting us at any one of the dozen Korean Buffet Restaurants, our ever widening search parameters (and the handy dandy State of Oklahoma's Tourism Department travel guide) brought us to the front door of a little wonder called, The German Quick Stop Restaurant.

The little greasy spoon didn't offer much in the quaintness department from the outside. In fact, my slightly nearsighted eyes detected a KFC facade circa 1970's hiding beneath the eggshell white paint and red and white gingham tablecloths.

But the wafting smell of freshly prepared food that wasn't a grilled hamburger, chicken fried steak, or combination enchilada plate was both welcoming and gratifying, in a "I'll be leaving this place in an hour or so with a well earned smile of gluttonous satisfaction on my face," kind of way.

Stay with me now...while the girls opted to share a small wurstsalat with a cup of potato soup and cup of goulash between the two of them, wifey and I went for the platter of plenty known as the Grill Teller for Two.

I'm not sure in what dimension this impressive menu item we ordered would feed two people, but wherever it is, my stomach and I want to retire there. This teller for deux could easily fill the gullets of a family of four hungry homo sapiens, and in that family I'm including the most ravenous group of Oklahoman's and Hawaiian's (the biggest eaters I've ever witnessed) on the planet.

Needless to say, it was plenty of food.

On a layered 1" thick bed of German potato salad rested a large-diameter 160 gram frisbee-sized wiener schnitzel.

Joining the delicately thin, crispy and tender breaded patty was a huge bratwurst (bursting out of it's crispy grilled skin), an even girthier pair of knackwursts, several robust wienerles (Dodger Dogs only smaller and grilled), several huge slices of leberkaese (think Spam only meatier and the size of a softball glove), a wurstbroetchen (some sort of sausage wrapped in puff pastry -- help me), accompanied by ridiculously generous family-style portions of al dente spaetzles, sassy sauerkraut with caraway seeds and enormous capers, and a sublimely spicy red cabbage salad, that effectively rounded out the meal and put the final touches on our perfect international meal.

The only disappointing moment in our meal came at the end when the pleasant waitress with the calves more muscular than mine asked us which type of strudel we'd like to try,", apple and cheese, blueberry, blueberry and cheese, cherry, cherry and cheese, mixed berry, mixed berry and cheese, or just plain honey...or honey and cheese."

Alas, we had left not a smidgen of stomach space for dessert. Double-dog-drat.

Our doggie bags were so full of food that any casual observer spotting us exiting the joint would have to assume that we had ordered take-out and were carting the food home to feed a small harvesting convention of combine operators and their families.

The bill was uber-reasonable, especially considering we had several full "leftover" meals from the styrofoam lunch wagon.

When in Lawton, I say go dutch. Or Deutsch rather.