Friday, August 11, 2017

Rallys/Checkerburger Eat-It-All #2, 3 & 4 : Lots of Stuff

Obviously I haven't kept up with this eating thing. And obviously I'm eating at this place way too much. I'm not saying that the food tastes bad but if I don't have leftovers to bring, or don't have a decent portion of leftovers, I kind of feel like I have to go to Rallys. It's a problem I have.

But let's get started, eh? About a week ago I got the Chicken Bits and Fries box for a paltry two bucks. I didn't have my camera so you don't get to see that these bites are really nibbles. Popcorn chicken or smaller. Twelve pieces and what is probably less than a small fries. The chicken was peppery but good.

A few days later I picked up another 4 for $3 deal, this time the Rallyburger with cheese. Gaze upon it in all it's glory! Actually it's nothing special, just your basic burger. What I like about the walk up area, though, is that you can see straight into the kitchen and see the guy use a special double-nozzled ketchup squirter to apply my favorite condiment and then see him wrap the burger up as fast as any magician. Not bad for a guy who looks like he just got out on probation!

Today I didn't have any leftovers so I walked over and made my selection. The Fry Lovers Burger was certainly a delightful surprise! I had expected a few meager fries but this is a healthy handful! And the mingling of flavors is ooo-la-la! At $1.50 I may have found a challenger to the bacon cheddar crisp!
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Last up for today was the chili dog. As you can see they load it with red onions and what is probably the chili they serve when you buy a cuppa chili. I had their chili years and years ago and thought it was somewhat spicy but it didn't seem that way today, although it could have been due to the savory sting of the red onions that overrode the chili and indeed still lingers in my mouth. Not in a bad way, though.

According to my dorky spreadsheet I'm about 12% through my quest. In a month or so it will be too cold to sit outside and eat so I'll likely take a break. But until then, well, I'll be looking for coupons because I'm almost done with the cheapie options.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Rallys/Checkerburger Eat-It-All #1 : Bacon All American Cheeseburger and Crispy Fish Sandwhich

I haven't written in a while so I guess it's time for "what's next."

How about about series? I no longer pass by Penguin Point but I do work within walking distance from a Rally's. I'm always amazed at the number of different options on their menu and usually stick to one (the glorious Bacon Cheddar Crisp) so why not try them all? I downloaded their menu, weeded out the side items and drinks and found that they have over sixty different items, and this doesn't include when they double the meat (Rallyburger vs. Double Rallyburger).

Perhaps some ground rules are in order. First, Doubles don't count... they're just crazy talk. Second, I may or may not include anything with the words "ANGRY BUFFALO" in the name. I'm not big on spicy and don't see the point of buying something just to throw it away after one bite. Third, I'm not going to include drinks and desserts unless they look extra yummy. There is no Fourth because I can't spell it. Rule Five is I order the item with no changes to the standard sandwhich.

That should do it.

I actually started on this gustatory undertaking last week but didn't have a camera with me. Too bad, young lad, you don't get to see a real life picture of the Buttery Garlic Steak Burger or the Fully Loaded Fries. The meat on the Steak Burger had a weird mouth feel, not stringy but something was off about it. The garlic flavor was very slight, as was the smell. The Fries were very good but I wouldn't buy them without a coupon. There was bacon crumbles and a couple squirts of the yellow cheese sauce (I presume cheddar) and a squirt of a white cheese sauce. Rally's was kind enough to provide a fork for use in their consumption. I'm also going to mark the Bacon Cheddar Crisp sammich as being completed. The bacon on these are large bacon bits that add a nice crunch and a medium glob of cheddar cheese sauce, just enough for flavor but not so much that it globs off and falls onto your lap while driving. Usually.

Today's adventure includes the Bacon All American Cheeseburger and, as part of the amazing 4 For $3 (Take THAT Wendys!) deal, the Crispy Fish Sandwich.

The Bacon AAC (pictured here with it's l'il apple pie buddy) had TWO complete strips of bacon on their usual patty, plus one piece of cheese and (between the cheese and the top bun) ketchup and mustard. It was fully adequate.

The fish sandwhich was surpringly tender and at one point a piece fell onto the wrapper and it had the grey bit of the fish in it so it's not a 100% minced-to-death product. Still, it's minced so maybe it just means that they don't do a good job of mincing, like I am with my words. It was pretty durn delicious. I've always avoided tarter sauce but found that it added a nice tang. Maybe I've added a new condiment to my arsenal. Maybe.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Garden Post 2017.1

If you can't tell, I'm not big on blogging lately. Mostly work is keeping me busy but I'm also working on short stories so that I can hopefully have enough for a book by the end of the year.

I also haven't been doing much in the way of gardening. Some pesky rabbit family has eat all the top off our beets but they've left the carrots alone... so far. They have also ignored the red romaine lettuce which I've been enjoying mixed in with my store-bought lettuce.

Of tomato plants, there are just four and they've been doing okay. My daughter put in some cucumber plants and they are acting strangely, making one deformed cuke per plant.

But the stars of the show, as always, are the melons. Right now (mid-July) on plant has three babies, each smaller than a tennis ball, and one other plant has one melon. Melon plant #3 is barren so far and a butternut squash has yet to make any squashies.

Continuing on with my experiment from last year, I just planted them into the bags of manure/compost/whatever. I made the top opening larger, to get more water inside.

Once again the winner, by far, is Black Kow in the yellow bag. It cost $5, where the others were $2 or less, but the melon plants in it are three times the size, plus it's the one with three melons. That said, I'll probably shell out for more bags of this magic cow dung next spring!

Here's a puny plant from some other brand of compost. Pitiful.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dollar Tree - Jamaican Style Vegetable Patty

When my wife overheard me saying to the kids that I was going to start eating things from the freezer section of The Dollar Tree she yelped out "NOOOOO!" and then started to question my sanity. "Why are you doing this?" For the same reason a man climbs a mountain, my dear. Because it's there.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Music Review - Steve Taylor - Wow to the Deadness

Steve Taylor is ON FIRE!
Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foils Goliath is the best album I’ve heard in the last eighteen-odd months. It rocks hard, in a rootsy way, but with enough wit, creativity and soul that I’ve yet to grow tired of it. The album was crowd-funded and fans waited patiently for over a year after the funding goal was obliterated. On top of this it took twenty years for Steve to get around to making this album so I wasn’t expecting anything new this decade. Always expect the unexpected. Apparently Steve and his Foil met with the legendary Steve Albini to lay down six new songs. And to up the “unexpected” ante they added a new member, the bewildering Daniel Smith, a.k.a. Danielson, a.k.a. the guy who discovered Sufjan Stevens.

If you’ve ever heard the plucky music of Danielson then imagine that with an inventive “always in the pocket” hard rock band instead of his usual approximately-played quasi-acoustic backing. This holds true for half the songs. “Wait Up Downstep” starts with a quirky Danielson-rhythm played on acoustic guitar before power chords occasionally punctuate the bridge with Taylor singing. The low key “Nonchalant” seethes with rumbling distorted guitars and Taylor handling lead vocals with Mr. Smith throwing in a squeaky “HEY!” at the most perfect of times before John Mark Painter adds even more grit compliments of a baritone saxophone. “Drats” begins with Danielson singing in his trademark muppet-like voice (seriously, it’s like if Beaker could sing, but in a good way) against acoustic guitar before the band once again hijacks the song with a surging wave of thundering guitars and pounding drums. More bari sax is found on the title track, which is more of a traditional rock song, although one with hand claps and some un-tuned glockenspiel thing that magically fits perfectly in the mix. “Dust Patrol” is pure punk energy and features some of the most ragged and ratty guitars put to analog tape, at least until the bridge when everyone has a seat while Danielson is accompanied by Mexican horns and possibly a mandolin. “A Muse” quietly opens with the lyrics “I wasn’t out late / I barely had anything / Why do you act like you even care?” before lashing out into a soulful, powerful and angry chorus, backing down in the next verse with “That came out harsher / Than when I rehearsed it.” Blistering.

Wow To The Deadness completely blew away my expectations, which wasn’t difficult because I wasn’t expecting anything. However it is a worthy successor to Goliath with its peculiar, punchy melodic rock that leaves a pleasant yet puzzled smile on your face.

Music Review - Jerry Gaskill - Love and Scars

An excellent album that deserves more of my time. Kudos, Jerry!

For the past few decades Jerry Gaskill has beat the skins for King’s X, a relatively unknown but highly influential power trio. While the other two members have added a string of side projects and solo albums to their work as a band, Jerry has released only a single solo album. Until now.

While Gaskill’s first album, Come Somewhere, sounded like it had been written on an acoustic guitar and later rocked up, Love and Scars is a full-on melodic hard rock onslaught. The modern sound is largely due to guitarist/songwriter/producer DA Karkos, plus friends like Andee Blacksugar, Billy Sheehan and Phil Keaggy. But as they say back on the farm, if you slap lipstick on pig and put it in a fancy sequined dress, you might have a date for Saturday but it’s still a pig. To that end, all the deluxe sonic treatments won’t do anything to make a poorly written song enjoyable. Thankfully as a co-writer for many classic King’s X tunes, Jerry excels at creating great songs and this time it’s obvious that his guitar was plugged in when he wrote them.

And thankfully for King’s X fans, Jerry solo sounds a lot like King’s X. Surprise! I’m sure it helps that the guitarists “borrow” Ty Tabor’s signature guitar sound and style but since it’s been awhile since a proper King’s X album, I’m not complaining. I mean, can you really rip off your own band? As a confirmed Beatles fan, Jerry also uses vocal harmonies to flesh out his rich melodies. Instead of going through song by song I’ll just say that there are grinding mid-tempo rockers, lighter songs filled with dreamy guitars and even a playful “live” song at the end. In short, it’s got everything a rocker could want.

Always one to write some way-out lyrics that leave the listener scratching their head (“Six Broken Soldiers” and “American Cheese” come to mind) Jerry combines poetic mystery with humor and enjoyment out of everyday activities. Just a few examples: “You’re only pretty when your heart beats / Or your lungs breath / After that I just don’t know” (concerning his heart attack), “So Patty cut my hair / We talked about the air” and “You’re so lovely when you’re far away.”

With Love and Scars Jerry Gaskill proves that he’s much more than just an excellent drummer and songwriter. He’s survived two heart attacks plus losing everything to Hurricane Sandy and is still able to kick back, laugh, and enjoy life. Thankfully the songs on this album invite us to sit down and enjoy the humor of life by his side.

Music Review - Mutemath - Vitals

In truth this album kinda sucks. I've have it on my MP3 player and every time a song comes on via Shuffle I hit the skip button. Sorry, guys, but I think you missed the boat on this experiment.
It’s been four years since Mutemath released an album, although this isn’t exactly unusual as the band has only released four albums in ten years. What’s different this time is that the band has left their label and gone the crowd-funding route which gave them the freedom to do anything they wanted. Why they went the way they did befuddles me.

While Mutemath is known for following their muse and having a different sound on each album, for Vitals they went for an indie-Euro-pop sound. After listening to the first three songs I thought that my fifteen year old daughter might like them. She didn’t. So now I’m listening to Vitals over and over, wondering if it’s just that I’m not overly keen on the sound or if, for the first time in their career, Mutemath has dropped the ball. But back to those first three songs. All are upbeat and fun, sometimes bordering on disco, and all incorporate a lot of synth and electronic sounds. There’s not a lot of guitars and drummer Darren King, one of the best drummers playing today, isn’t able to do much within the pop framework. Still, the songs are catchy and would make great workout music for those inclined to abuse their bodies that way. “Stratosphere” sounds a bit more like the Mutemath of bygone days with a pulsing, urgent rhythm under dreamy vocals bathed in reverb, but “Used To” is anything but, incorporating low bass synths and a solid wall of keyboards in the huge chorus. The opening line of “Best of Intentions” shows the bands sly humor: “I’d like to help you get those hangups under control / But I’ve got far too many of my own.” The chorus of this song harkens back the seventies and totally knocks it out of the park.

While listening to the closing track, “Remain” it hit me that Mutemath might have been ingesting quite a bit of Phoenix. While Mutemath is certainly less twitchy than the French band, this new album definitely shares their synthy-pop vibe. This is driven home in the two instrumentals, “Vitals” and “Bulletproof”, which are both thoroughly engaging but completely different than anything the band has recorded previously although somehow still distinctly Mutemath.

This past weekend I had many songs from Vitals in my head, which is always a good indicator of quality tune-smithing. Indeed the songs are great fun to listen to and there are solid melodic hooks underneath all those keyboards, so it’s likely that my problem with the album, if I have a problem and I’m not sure I do, is that I expected indie-rock guitars and got Euro-pop synths. Perhaps I should have expected that Mutemath, a band who always defies expectations, would deliver the unexpected and just get over my hangups.