Friday, March 9, 2018

Rallys Eat-It-All #17 : $2 Shrimp Box

I loves me some shrimp but it's expensive. When I saw the sign for a $2 shrimp and fry box at Rallys I figured that the shrimp would be pretty tiny but I didn't expect them to be non-existent.

I also wasn't expecting the ten minute wait in the drive through but you know how the Rallys ordering lanes are... they're like channeled chutes and once you're in there's no way you're getting out aside from driving over some shrubbery.

When the employee, at long last, handed me my bag and said, unsolicited, "These are really good!" I didn't expect the smell of garlic that entered my car. Shows how closely I read signs, eh? [NOTE: The sign only says BUTTERY shrimp, not GARLIC BUTTERY shrimp... VINDICATION!!!!]

So here they are. A bit on the overcooked side, eh? There may be shrimp juice poured into the batter, or possibly artificial shrimp flavoring (I don't have the gumption to go check their web site) but there were no discernible shrimp parts even in the largest pieces. The garlic sauce was squirted over the whole mess and as usual had more smell than taste. The fries in garlic sauce tasted pretty yummy but for the most part I paid for batter and not shrimp. It's a good thing it was only two bucks.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This Too Shall Pass Too

To follow up on my original G.A.S. (guitar acquisition syndrome) article, my sweetie bought me the top guitar back in 2007, the lovely natural finish monster that weighs a ton but sounds amazing. I would love to someday hear it played by a real guitarist! The only problem with it is that it has jumbo frets and I play too hard. I recently switched to heavier gauge strings and it has helped me quite a bit with staying in tune and not having the guitar sound “queasy.”

I still would love a Danelectro. Every now and then I search for used ones and they go for around $300. I missed the boat on a good investment, but maybe not because I kind of remember the clearance guitar being a seven–string. Maybe one day I will own a Mod or a 59.

The pawn shop by my work recently had the bottom/Artist guitar in. It was only $150 and was in great shape. However since I have two nice mid-range guitars I couldn’t bring myself to shell out $150 for a beginning guitar. It didn’t take long for someone to buy it.

Enter modern times.

Last summer I played a few times with a guy named Ricky who owned a half dozen or more Telecasters. Aren’t those country guitars? It turns out they aren’t and I soon started seeing Telecasters everywhere. Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, all your heartland rockers. I wanted that twang! I can build my own from BYOGuitars for $110 and have a decent guitar. Or I can add new pickups, new electronics, a Wilkinson bridge, through body strings, a better nut, copper shielding and have an amazing guitar. All it would cost is $270 (sarcasm) but it would be the equal of an $800 guitar when finished.

But there’s a problem. Aside from money and the fact that I think about guitars more than I play them. I’m not particularly fond of the Telecaster shape. It’s a classic but it doesn’t make me drool.

Then one of the ad-servers, based on my Telecaster browsing, showed me a picture of a Talman. It’s got a retro-Danelectro-Mod type body but with a Telecaster pickup arrangement. In sea-foam green!!! Sha-ZAM!

Speaking of sea-foam green, why are there two different shades from the same maker? The guitar shown above screams "That's ME!" but this one, with the same shape and pickup configuration, does nothing for me. Very strange.

Also strange is that they make a Talman bass guitar. I would probably use a bass more but once again it just leaves me cold. Is it the pickups? Is it the color? Should I get professional help?

Like most subjects of G.A.S., the longer I wait the less pull it has on me. But I enjoy the wanting. At my age there isn’t much that I need and very little that I want that I have any real chance of getting. A two week vacation with my family in the Smoky Mountains? I’d love it but it would cost five grand or more. Not in the budget if we want to eat and have money for medical bills. A house with enough bedrooms for every kid and one for my music stuff? A car that isn’t wishing it was ten years old? Pipe dreams. But two or three hundred dollars? I can scrimp/save that in six months, giving me something to hope and dream about the entire time. That is until a new guitar catches my eye.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Guitar Desire : An Introduction

And now it’s time for a new series, one that chronicles my involvement with electric guitars. No, not just in music but in wanting, owning, and possibly even playing one.

When I was a young teen I played keyboards. Hey, it was the eighties. There might have been magazines for keyboards but I didn’t know about them. What I knew about was Guitar Player magazine. I didn’t own a guitar and didn’t even really want to learn to play one… they were too complicated. No, I’d leave that up to Brad Owens, a friend of mine who could shred. Sorry, but I don’t remember what kind of guitar he had but I have a picture of it somewhere. It was white. But I would get the Guitar Player magazine each month and follow along with the music, following the lines of notes up and down as the featured guitarist did his thing.

Brad and I would sometimes drive to Music Manor, an independent music store (remember those?). He would lust over all the different guitars while I would look at the rack-mounted effects units and, if there was one around, the lone keyboard. All those things with strings sitting around the floor were ignored.

A couple of years later another friend, Roger, borrowed my brothers acoustic Yamaha guitar and learned it. Amazing! How do people learn these things!?!?! Keyboards make sense. The keys are lined up in a pattern and each one is a half tone higher than the next. Logical, eh? But the guitar… Insanity! I still had no desire to learn but once crucial thing happened: Roger suggested that I learn the bass guitar.

For a variety of reasons I didn’t take him up on the suggestion at the time. However in college another pal (hey, this makes it sound like I have friends! Unfortunately I do not. But that’s another series for another time) played a five string bass and once, at a live performance at the student center, he wanted to play the sax on a song and so handed me the bass. Wait… WHAT?!?!? He gave me a thirty second tutorial, turned down the high end on his amp, and very likely had me play open strings on some three-chord blues song. I have no idea of how well I played and really no way to judge. But between Paul’s lesson and Roger’s suggestion the idea was firmly planted. A year or so later I asked, and Paul allowed, me to borrow his bass to try it out some more. I had a bass sheet music book by one of my favorite bands, King’s X, and I wanted to try my hand at the songs. I don’t think it went well. And yes, I was in the habit of buying sheet music for instruments I didn’t play. I still have all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas plus a violin and piano set for Prokofiev’s first violin sonata. I just like following along, I guess.

Jump forward a few more years (1995ish) and I’m a young married guy in a very lonely marriage. I have no idea why but for some reason I had the urge to learn the bass guitar. As usual I just jumped right in without doing much research… kind of like the marriage. My purchase was a Yamaha four string natural finish bass from a pawn shop for $160. Someone has scratched, and then sloppily sanded off, something below the bridge. I didn’t even know how to tune the thing so I had to have someone come over who played guitar to show me. I was that green.

I learned to play, with “You Lord” by PFR being my first song. Again, I was so green I didn’t know that this was a pretty complicated song. Then I wrote “Lobster Boy” using every trick I knew: plucking, slides and hammer-ons. Within two months I was playing in the praise band at church and I learned that Roger’s advice has been very good. To this day, though I play other instruments, bass is where I feel the most at home, a place where in a group setting I have my voice.

Originally this series wasn’t going to include bass guitars but I see that they are insisting that they be included. How can I turn them down? Unfortunately I don’t think I have a picture of this bass and don’t even know the model number. Thinking about it, I don’t even remember what kind of pickups it had or even if it had one or two. So sad…

Note: It seems like I’ve touched on this subject once before in this here blog.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Rallys Eat-It-All #16 : Fry Lovers Baconator

So what do you do when you pay your last child support payment? I don't know about you but I celebrated with a Fry Lovers Baconator burger. That's right. I live right there on the edge, toes hanging over.

So there is it, the beast. Now Rally's is not exactly known for their meat patties so in this case the burger was totally overshadowed by two titans: their amazing fries and bacon. Lots of bacon. Each bite was like a cage match inside my mouth as these two struggled to commandeer my taste buds. Or maybe it was more like a game of RISK. In either case, it was pure deliciousness. If Rally's keeps this sammich a permanent part of their menu I'll celebrate every major life event with a Fry Lovers Baconator!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Rallys Eat-It-All #15 : Extra Crispy Chicken Strips and Fries box

First off, I found the coupon book which I purchased for a buck on December 29,2017.. and noticed that all the coupons expire 12/31/2017. RIP OFF! However I don't think it will be a problem because these are pretty much the same coupons you get in the mail or email if you sign up for their club.

There was a break in the January weather where it shot up to 35 degrees F from the -3 it was for most of last week so I decided to head out for a stroll during lunch. And what should my wondering eye see but a Rallys sign for a $2 Extra Crispy Chicken Strip and Fry box. So I meandered over.

For two bucks I shouldn't complain... but I'm going to. When the sign says "Extra Crispy" I envisioned KFC-type extra-crispy. These are just average crispy. Yes, they look average crispy on the sign but I didn't look all that close. The other beef I have with this chicken is that one of them was durn near burnt on one side. Not inedible, but pretty dark. I got the regular 'cause my taste buds are wimps. The strips were decent-sized and tasted yummy and the fries, as always, were MSG-licious!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Rallys Eat-It-All #14: Chili Cheese Dog, Deep Sea Double, Big Chicken Deluxe

It's a triple play!

First up is the Chili Cheese Dog. Yes, it was as messy as it looks. They offered me a fork but I declined, fool that I am. It was good but oddly it was kind of bland. TONS of red onions, as with the Chili Dog. I tasted them for hours and this meal definitely gave me heartburn.

A day or two later I was back to pick up two 2 For $5 items. First up is the Big Chicken Deluxe. This differs from the Big Chicken in that they add a single slice of American cheese. It's a decent chicken sandwhich but it'll never come close to Chick-Fill-A. And the cheese didn't really add anything to the party.

Last is the excellent Deep Sea Double. Just the name is worth it! Now I like deep fried fish but I was a bit wary of the (once again) single slice of American cheese. But the breading and the flavor of the fish are so mild (unlike the overpowering chicken breading) that the cheese added a really nice, creamy touch! Plus the fish was nice and flakey. I will most certainly get this one again.

Note also the coupon book. I couldn't resist and ponied up a buck. It has a couple of good coupons in it, specifically the, er... well, I can't seem to find it right now. I hope I didn't lose it because I remember two Rallyburger combo coupons for $1.99.

Speaking of remembering, I am salivating at the remembrance of an NEW item I saw on the dirve-through sign... The Fry Lovers Baconator! It's five bucks but definitely something that will one day be in my belly.

2017 Reading Roundup Review

It's time for the annual (really?) Reading Roundup Review!

This year I read 33 (ILLUMINATI!!!) books, which is about average lately. Fifteen were non-fiction, but six of these were from the tween "Who Is" series, which are read in about 20-30 minutes so I guess they don't really count. It's like the Wikipedia of biographies. But, ya know, the big non-fiction number makes me look smart. The rest were mostly biographies of musicians or comedians.

That said, the best non-fiction book I read on 2017 was not a biography. Supernatural by Michael Heiser will give you a different, expanded view of the unseen spiritual realm at work around us. Trippy stuff, man.

Of the fiction read I supposed that I Am Legend by Richard Matheson was the best, although it did tend to drag on at times. I also stumbled upon a new (for me) author while browsing through the stacks at the library... Clifford D. Simak. I've only read one book so far (it was about realtor aliens who often look like bowling balls) but I seriously think I've found a brother from another mother. Too bad he's dead.

Five of the eighteen fiction book were re-reads, including Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy that I first read in the late 80s and laughed so hard I got asthma. And I haven't read it since for fear that it wouldn't be as funny. And it wasn't but it was still good. Also read where Adventures of Huck Finn and three Westlake novels, which are fresh even on a second trip.