Friday, August 17, 2018

This Too Didn't Pass

Well, I made the plunge.

It's probably been a full year that I've been yearning for a twangy guitar. I thought about building a telecaster for $110 (plus another $200 in parts to make it a killer guitar). I looked and looked but didn't find any seafoam green paint, which is the color I really want. None at the hardware stores, none at the craft stores, none anywhere. But the thing is, I find the telecaster shape, while classic, to be boring.

Then an ad server served up a Talman 302PM, which has the telecaster pickup configuration but an updated but retro body shape. Nice. But I've already covered this. The ad server also served up the Peavy Riptide guitar which also has the telecaster pickup configuration. To me it looks too gumby, but it's growing on me. Especially the price of under $200 used.

In the end, though, I decided on a Danelectro. Not only are they twangy but people consider them quirky, a little bit off the beaten path. And although my job/life has beaten me into a boring shadow of the potentially interesting person I once was, I still feel a bit different from most of humanity. Plus some reviewers said that Danelectro guitars lend themselves to open chords and have a nice glassy tone. Since I'm more of a folk-open chord-strummer than I am a two or three string rock guitarist, it seems like the Danelectros were made for me.

But which model? They have some far out designs! The Wild Thing is truly a crazy thing. But it's just strange for strange sake. They have some other models that are boxy but I don't like boxy. So I decided on the classic DC 59. They started remaking these in 1998 or 1999 and the latest versions have a recessed bridge (for greater sustain) and New Old Stock pickups. New they go for $400 and if you're lucky you can find a used one for $250, although they normally sell for about $300. Plus they come in seafoam green!

Just when I thought I had things settled I was reminded about their Mod guitar, the first guitar shape that ever caught my eye. While I like the DC 59 it's a bit too, er, normal for me. It's too symmetrical. And DUDE, like, Jimmy Page played one on Kashmir. The Mod guitar, however, is asymmetrical and to me it's perfection. The problem is that they only made these for a couple of years and they are quite rare to find, especially the six string version. This is where I kick myself because for weeks there was a plum Mod 6 for sale on Craigslist just thirty minutes from home. However they wanted $450 for it. If I was only going to have one electric guitar in my life I could justify $450, given my current skill level. But not for guitar #3 so I never even drove over to play it and now it's gone. So I started checking the interwebs to see if a Mod would show up and their current price. It seems $400-$500 is the range, which is a bit too much.

And then it appeared on the Guitar Center site: a lavender DC 59 from 1999. For only $149! I called the store to ask a few questions about the guitar.

"Is the neck straight?"
"It's good."
"Are the frets worn?"
"They're good."

It went on like this. I really don't think they knew what they had and priced it too low. There was another lavender DC 59 on the same site from another store for $250. Now lavender isn't my top choice of color but it's better than black, white, or red. And this model was made in Korea, which is better than China. And the cord jack is on the face of the guitar instead of the side, which I don't care for. But hey, for $150 it's almost priced like a garage sale! How can I pass it up? So I called that store and it was a snafu getting it ordered. So I called the companies 800 number and they too had problems with their "draft" system. So I called the local store and they had problems but they took my information and said they would work on it and call me when the order went through. Which they did.

It's now been four business days since those calls and the site said three to five business days. Honestly I'm a bit skeptical that the guitar actually exists and that it's going to show up at my local Guitar Center. Will I get called today? Tomorrow? Who knows! Maybe never! Patience... who needs it?

Oh, and of course I found a clearance can of Pistachio paint at Walmart the day after I placed the order. Yes, I picked it up for $2. Who knows... maybe I'll need a project in a few years.

Friday, August 3, 2018

I Can't Believe I'm Writing This

I'm reading a Donald Westlake book that I might not finish.

There. I said it. I've read almost all of his books that were published before his death and enjoyed all of them. The only ones left are those published after his death, the ones written when he was just getting started, The Blackbird, Comfort Station, Transylvania Station and High Jinx. Oh, and the political thriller Ex Officio, the book I'm reading now. At almost 500 pages it's much longer than his usual books. It's also written by a single-use alias, Timothy J. Culver, and it's boring.

Yes, a Westlake book that is boring. From interviews I glean that Westlake wrote this book mostly for the money and it seems like even he is bored. I'm about halfway through and found two things that made me laugh... the man couldn't resist! At a bar where two of the main characters go the bathrooms bear the titles "Pointers" and "Setters." No, Rollo isn't the bartender. The other chuckle came from a reference to a production company named Coe-Stark. I hope this continues to at least give some redeeming quality to the text. Otherwise I'm sure I'll skim it just so I can be a completest.

UPDATE: No surprise, I read it. Yes, I skimmed a bit in the middle. I was bored and I suspect that so was Westlake. It got a little bit better near the end where there was a kind of "caper", and you could sense Westlake getting into writing these parts, but overall it was the first mediocre Westlake book I've read. He was probably young and he needed the money.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rallys Eat-It-All #24 : Chocolate Shake and Tropical Punch Kool-Aid Slushie

Summer is a great time for me to fill in the chinks of my Rallys Completeness Catalog because most of those chinks are frozen desserts. I didn't really WANT a slushie or a milk shake but, you know, I have to for the sake of this blog.

And I know what you're thinking: A milkshake AND a Slushie? Are you serious? Yes. Deadly so. Plus I'm an adult so if I want to spoil my appetite I know that another one will spring up shortly (thank you, Mr. Seinfeld).

Before I get started I should note that usually the world kicks you in the financial shin* but every now and then a small shard of sunshine breaks through. Like today. I got their 2 for $2 special, which in itself is a good deal. I got their Rallyburger mit Cheese and a small chocolate shake. BUT I had a coupon for a free slushie with a $2 purchase. KA-CHING! But then they got my order wrong and gave me the burger with a small fry, which they couldn't take back. So for $2.16 I got a burger, a small fry, a milk shake and a slushie. I felt bad asking for ketchup for the "their mistake" fries so I didn't, putting a few on my burger for an instant Fry Burger and saving the rest to munch on here at work. After my carb-nap, of course.

A video blog I saw months ago said that the Tropical Punch Slushie was hands down the best and I likes me some tropical punch. And yes, it was good. Quite good. It tasted just like Tropical Punch Kool-Aid. Weird, eh? There were some big, uncrunched ice pieces at the end of the drink but hey, it was free and I had fun spitting those chunks at woodland creatures**. Also their outside sign says they now have Grape Kool-Aid Slushie and I have one more coupon. SCORE!

Unlike the other ice cream products I've eaten from Rallys, this milkshake was not quick to melt. In fact upon receiving it I figured I'd better drink it first before it turned into a puddle of goo but found that it was unsuckably thick so I had to eat my other vittles first. It was good, like any milkshake can be bad*** and tasted very much like Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. Based on the striations and separations of the product my guess is that they just mix in some Hersheys into their vanilla milkshake and call it good. In any case, it was surprisingly thick and stayed frozen all the way to the yummy end.

* Like when one of your offspring leaves the outside hose on for a day or two and your waterbill pulls an extra twenty out of your pocket... and there's nothing you can do about it.

** Except I was in downtown Fort Wayne, which would make them urban creatures. And no, I didn't really spit ice at any critters. I've seen a couple of rabbits downtown but no squirrels or naked mole rats or anything.

*** Arby's infamous BBQ Beef Shake being the exception.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Rallys Eat-It-All #23 : Funnel Cake Fries and Banana Split Shake

I know it really isn't a good excuse but I HAD A COUPON. It was for a free shake with a $2 purchase. How could I resist on these hot summer days?
For my shake I upgraded to the Banana Split milkshake for 79 cents. First of all, take a gander at that massive straw! It's almost big enough for a dime!!! Because I had a shake from this place that melted within minutes I drank this first. I was thinking (hoping?) it would be like a Banana Split Blizzard, forgetting that I was dealing with Rallys. If you took a Banana Split Blizzard, removed half the add-ins and replaced the good ice cream with uber-quick-melty-cream this is what you'd have. But hey, it was 79 cents and I got the surprise of the sewer-pipe-sized straw. I would have been ticked if I paid full price, though.

Maybe I would have liked the loaded funnel cake fries better if I ate them first but I knew I was against the clock with the shake. The picture is from about two minutes after being handed them through the window and they are already soggy. And visually unappetizing. Flavor-wise it was that classic funnel cake flavor but there was barely enough of the "loaded" part to go around. They had a spongy consistency, like they were made of foam. And they had a weird aftertaste. $2.50 or so for this sorry mess and I won't be getting them again, loaded or otherwise.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Biscuit and Gravy Review : Arbys

Of all the biscuits and gravy varieties in the world the one I've eaten the most is from Arby's. It's fast, cheap, and filling. The negative side, as far as this series is concerned, is that I've also had the opportunity to have it served poorly on more than one occasion. Tough biscuits. Salty gravy. No sausage. "Sorry sir but we are all out of that right now." WHAT?!!?! But this review will focus on the serving just inhaled from the downtown Fort Wayne location which is very typical of what one generally receives.

There it is... the double order. Also known as the 11:00 AM snoozer! You get two big biscuits that are not as generic as the food service biscuits but are fairly characterless. But they're big and not gummy. The gravy is plentiful (four ladles of the stuff), not goopy, not very peppery, not, not, not. Surely it is made by mixing a powder with hot water. The sausage is sliced up patties with hard edges that are slightly offensive to my palate. Not the taste but the shape. I mean, sausage is round bits, not cubes... can I get an Amen? Best of all there was just enough gravy to last the entire meal.

It was served up quickly and at only $2.99 (plus tax) it's a great deal. I'm going to be a bit embarrassed if Arby's wins this competition based on value and service. Maybe I should go back and weight the numbers because it I'm looking at just the food, Arby's biscuits and gravy is merely "okay." But here's the stats:

Biscuits - 6
Gravy - 6
Value - 9
Service - 8

Friday, July 6, 2018

Rallys Eat-It-All #22: Crispy Mushroom Steak Burger & Apple Pie Stacker

I gotta admit... when I first heard the name I was apprehensive about this one. I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms and when I do eat them they're soft, squishy things. Not crispy.

It's not much to look at but WOW! What a mouthful of flavor! This is one delicious, savory burger! A bit on the salty side, which may have added to it's enjoyment. The one problem was the steak bits. They were overcooked and TOUGH! I went mid-afternoon instead of over lunch (my lunch was insufficient) so quite likely they had dried out while waiting for me. I'll very likely get this one again but will go closer to noon.

And likewise while I'm a fan of pie in general apple isn't on the top of my list. I overheard one employee telling another how to make this so I'll let you in on the recipe: Caramel, ice cream, more caramel and then they stick a whole cinnamon covered apple pie into it. It tasted amazing, like pie a la mode. My only problem is that I ate the sandwich first and even though it was not even 80s degrees by the time I got to the stacker the ice cream was completely melted. We're talking less than five minutes from frozen to soup which indicates how much of the ice cream is actually air at this establishment. I ended up drinking a bit of it with bits of the apple pie so all's well that ends well.

UPDATE: I had another Crispy Mushroom Steakburger. The "steak" was properly cooked but it wasn't as salty or savory this time. So sad.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Humans... Who Needs 'Em?

It's been one month since I wrote Thoughts ? entry and things have been pretty level emotionally. In at least the last week (about the extent of my memory) I haven't had much more than a few minor short-term dips into the blues. Which is to say that I'm at a point (for at least the next five minutes) where I'm not yearning for a male friend and depressed that I have no friends or life outside of work and home (which usually involves lots of chores and taking the kids to the park again or sitting on the porch making sure they don't hurl themselves into oncoming traffic by my very presence.) All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and I certainly feel very dull.

So let's take a look at the "male friend" thing when I'm at least a 5, possibly a 6, on the Depression-to-Joy scale instead of writing when I'm down like I usually do.

Recently I was talking to a co-worker who was bemoaning the fact that he doesn't go out to lunch with people often. Now I've seen this guy go out more times in a month than I do in a year but whatever. So I made the first move and asked if he wanted to go to lunch sometime. And we did. I actually had a social event! However the lunch was 95% him talking with me interjecting a few tidbits now and then. Unfortunately that's what my wife and I have found when we spend time with other humans, that mostly it involves us listening while the other person purges themselves and not showing any interest in our lives. We might as well be mannequins who nod now and then and say "Yep." Which makes us feel like we've wasted our time and is draining instead of being a positive experience.

And while close friendships with any of the guys at church does not appear to ever be forthcoming, there's at least surface level banter. Which is to say that I'm not actively ignored like I have been at some other (ahem, Baptist) churches. Sure, I'm the one who approaches the other guy for small talk nearly all of the time but I don't get the feeling that he's anxious to get away from me. For the most part, that hour or so a week fulfills this introverts need for non-family social interaction.

Would I like a real friendship? Or perhaps someone to play guitars with? Certainly! But these are things for which I no longer hold out hope. And by not holding out hope they don't have the ability to hurt me.