Sep 27, 2018

Fast Food Adventures: Eureka Taco Bell.

Today at Taco Bell I walked in and noticed a lot of people not eating... waiting with their receipt in hand indicated to me that there would be a bit of a wait but I ordered anyway.  Just before I ordered they called a guy's order number and he kept asking "is this mine" while digging through the bags, pulling items out.  They repeated his number but it was like the number didn't mean anything to him and he just kept taking inventory of the bag.   They read off his rather large order and was like ok this is mine, out everything back in, took it and left.  My order number was 43.  After a few minutes they called "38" and then I realized why everyone was waiting.  Oh man this is gonna be a while I thought to myself,  but it went by fairly quick.  It seemed as if the place was filling up as fast as they were calling orders.  They finally announce "order 43" and I get up to get it and this toothless old lady who had just ordered her shit starts moving towards the pick up counter behind me shouting "Is it a 7 layer?" Now, here's where  I'll give the other guy a pass on not knowing his order number, because he clearly had been waiting and was 98% sure it was his order but disregarded the order number process. This  saggy tweaker lacked the foresight that most people have, that I described at the beginning of this.  The foresight to look and realize that all these people aren't just hanging out at Taco Bell to enjoy the sweet aroma of rehydrated beans, they're all people who had already ordered their food several minutes before you leaned your stolen bike against the building to come in here.  No you hag, it's not 'yer 7layer'  Step the fuck of my shit, pay attention, don't throw away your receipt, take note of your number and sit the fuck down. The world Taco Bell doesn't revolve around you.

Update from the next morning. 

So this morning at McDonalds... (yea I eat fast food, and yes I hate drive-thru's) a crusty old biker-tweaker type kept bitching and asking where his muffin was and that "he wanned it b'fore mah dang coffee gits cold"  First of all your coffee is currently 10000 degrees and will not get cold for another 30 minutes, secondly and more importantly you were given a receipt with your order. That receipt has a number on it. They call out that number when your order is ready. There's also a big, bright TV screen in clear view that shows which orders are ready and which ones are still being made. Now when the lady asks you what your number is and you put up your arms and go "I unno?" like you've never been to a fast food restaurant in the last 20 years.  Then when she asks "do you have your receipt?"  you scoff and, with attitude, turn around, sift it out of the trash and hand it to her she then tells you that it's coming right up. Because there are other orders before yours, as you could see from the monitor right over your greasy head if you payed a-fucking-tention. Again assholes, don't throw away your fucking fast food receipt...there's important information on it that you'll need in a few minutes.  There's not a crew of people back there making McMuffins just for you Randy.

I swear these two are a match made in heaven. 

Sep 17, 2018

I Think I've Finally Found My Two Favorite Root Beers...

And they're not even root beer!  

As many of you know I've been a connoisseur of Root Beer and other soda's for quite some time.  I've had my favorites before but as my palate had become more refined I'm starting to realize that my two categories of flavor profile which leads me to lean toward certain favorites. Many Root Beers have a really molasses flavor or have a pronounced anise taste, neither of which I enjoy.  The other predominate styles are honey sweetened Root Beers or Root Beers with a honey flavor and   Root Beer with a strong minty bite which can only be compared to the flavor of Pepto Bismol.  Side note: I love that shit even if I don't have nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach or diarrhea.

In my quest to seek out a Root Beer that has these qualities in them I've landed on two top contenders which ironically, aren't even technically Root Beer. 

One day at Bevmo I took a chance on something I never considered, but I'd tried all the Root Beer's they had available that day and something called Birch Beer  caught my eye.  Birch Beer?  Birch is wood, wood comes from trees, trees have roots... So I figured it was Root Beer-adjacent so I gave it a shot.  Instantly I knew this was something special.  It embodies that wintergreen bite that I like about certain root beers, and of course Pepto Bismol.  My Girlfriend isn't a big soda drinker but likes to try my Root Beer discoveries.  She tends to like the anise flavors more.  When I tried the Creamy Red Birch Beer I leaned over and said "you wanna try this one?" she lit up and put out her hand "It tastes just like Pepto Bismol you'll hate it!"  She recoiled and said "ew gross"  She hates the taste of most over the counter liquid medicine so I knew she'd react.  It's red, it's creamy and it tastes nothing like the name suggests.   I don't know what makes it red but unlike other Birch Beers that can be too minty to the point that it's almost medicinal or chemical tasting, the Creamy Red gets the best of the Birch Beer flavor with that hint of creaminess that smooths it out and reminds me of Root Beer.  Unfortunately I haven't seen this in the stores around here for quite some time and from what I'm learning it's a little bit hard to find.  You can order it on the internet but you have to buy a whole case at a time.  I might just end up doing that.

And on the honey flavor side I've always liked a couple Root Beers that had a hint of honey.  I recently discovered Sprecher Root Beer which has a pretty good mix of minty and honey with other notes mixed in and for a while there it was my new #1.  But one night the store I usually got Sprecher from was out of the Root Beer. Usually I'd go for a Ginger Beer or Ginger Ale but this place only had the Ginger Beer brand I really dont care for, and the Sprecher Ginger Ale tastes like soap to me for some reason.  Even tho I have absolutely hated cream soda most of my life I picked up the Sprecher Cream Soda bottle to consider it. There was a
cartoon bee buzzing front and center on the logo so I went for it.  This was like no other cream soda I'd had before.  Usually to me cream soda tastes like carbonated sugar water but this was sweetened with honey and natural vanilla.   It was flipping all the switches for me.  This was the flavor that I was looking for in Root Beer! Finally!

So now, my new favorite Root Beers are Boylan's Creamy Red Birch Beer and Sprecher Cream Soda.   I would have never thought I'd like Cream Soda and I'd never even heard of Birch Beer before but there it is.   If you, like me have an affinity towards honey sweetened beverages or the minty pepto taste of some root beers, give these two a shot.  If you cant find the Creamy Red Birch Beer, many other companies make a Birch Beer which arent horrible if you like that type of flavor.

Happy Root Beering!

EDIT: while writing this I completely forgot about this
The Best Root Beer I Ever Had 

Sep 12, 2018

I took a stab at a weird r/writingprompts

After years of violence and surges of urban gang activity by the infamous 'Cereal Gangs" in the year 2439 a mandatory ban on natural sugar and sweeteners went into effect to try to curb this violence blamed solely on sugary breakfast cereals .  As planned the sweetened breakfast cereal industry amongst others crashed hard.  The violence waned but the city-centers of the planet entered a deep sadness.   It took underground food scientists 12 years to develop a new artificial sugar additive to bypass the ban.  Of course a development such as this came with great resistance from  the overlords of the Planetary Sustenance Consortium. After months of heated protests from the underground science community and their supporters, known as Sads, it was finally cleared by the PSC . Once this new chemical compound was readily available it started to show up in products that hadn't been seen in over decade.  One product that surged to popularity was a fruit flavored breakfast cereal Trix.  Trix was controversial because the Trix gang was thought to be at the center of the Cereal Gang problem which began nearly 20 years prior which many blamed for the sadness they'd all suffered through.

The Trix release was fairly benign at the beginning but on the day of the 20th anniversary of the sugar ban a man  enters the pages of our history books.  A name none of us will ever forget,  Peter Cecil Enzinger. Enzinger was an opponent to the PSC's decision to approve the new artificial sugar compound. On 15 March, 2459 Peter donned an antique rabbit costume, which was the historic mascot of the Trix brand, and moniker of the gang. He casually walked into a crowded sustenance station that had been the first to offer the new Trix Cereal and exploded a home-made plasma reaction bomb killing himself and an estimated 62,000 innocent people.

Sep 11, 2018

9/11 Post

17 fucking years?  Nothing will be the same no matter how much time passes.  Everyone who was old enough to remember has a 9-11 story, and once again here's mine as I remembered it from when I posted this back in 2006. 

It was Fall of 2001 and my band had just secured a demo deal with Madonna's record label, Maverick Records. A few weeks prior a rep from that company came to see us at one of our local shows. At that time my band was at the top of its popularity locally and we had a really good turnout. The rep was the guy who discovered the band Disturbed who was, and still is a pretty popular metal band from Chicago. The deal we got furnished us the opportunity to record a demo in Chicago with the producer that recorded all of Disturbed's music, Johnny K that would be listened to personally by the president of Maverick Records. This was the big break we had been waiting for. The weeks leading up to our visit to Chicago we rehearsed the songs we thought were our best and just started counting the days.

The counting was over. Our bags were packed, our flights all arranged and our songs were as tight as they could be. The night before we all tried to just get a good nights sleep for our big day. Earlier than I had liked, my phone rang the next morning. It was my good friend and photographer of many shows, Justin. I answered the phone and before I could rant about how early it was he said "you're not going to Chicago today" why not, what are you talking about? "turn on the TV... We're under attack" WHAT? ! Shut up man, we have our plane tickets and everything.. What the hell are you talking about? My girlfriend Meg is waking up and asking what is going on. justin continues, "no dude, they bombed the world trade center in NY" Meg turned on the TV .. I just stared with my mouth open.. Oh my god what the fuck is going on. Questions and emotions filled me, just as almost everyone experiencing this at this moment. Then, the other plane hit and I remember the news people confirming that this indeed wasn't some accident. It was an attack. As if anyone had real doubt, hope maybe, but not doubt that this was anything other than what it really was. After the reality of it all sank in, and they started talking about grounding flights I remembered I had a flight today. The chance of my life to get a real studio demo for a label just got cancelled. I heard the TV news guy say something about pieces falling off the buildings and I looked... The first tower fell.. INSANITY.. Me and Meg are just in complete awe. Then the second one falls... How could this happen?!?! Immediately conspiracy theories popped into our heads "bush probably did this" we both agreed. But why? Still worried about our flight, I called the rest of my band members who were still dealing with what they just saw on TV... We called our manager. We scrambled to the site to confirm that they would not refund our tickets... There was no clause in the agreement about terrorist attacks... We were frantic. What the hell do we do? On the TV, they were showing cheering crowds in Pakistan or somewhere, burning American flags and celebrating. whhaaat? I was like.. Why don't we fucking bomb those motherfuckers.. Look they're happy.. look it was them! THEY did it. This was the knee-jerk reaction for many of us in that moment. 

By the next day, after reeling from all that transpired we found out finally that Hotwire is refunding tickets because of the tragedy. Without a flight tho, we still needed to get to Chicago. We wouldn't let some terrorists stop us from our chance at getting a record deal. We did what any self respecting band would do. We rented a minivan, loaded it with luggage and band equipment kissed our loved ones goodbye and drove! We drove like the wind. Nonstop minivan from Martinez to Chicago.

On the drive out there we were constantly reminded of the events from the day before. Every car on the road had an American flag on it. Every house, every storefront all had the full 2 page American flag that the newspaper printed in that days issue. It was pretty crazy. We even got some cheap Chinese made flags to put on the minivan. You could really see how unified the country was at that time. And you could defiantly see the reality of the flights being grounded. No planes anywhere.. And if you did see a plane you questioned it and got a little scared. There were a lot more rental cars and people driving. When we stopped in Cheyenne Wyoming for dinner we started talking about the Matrix sequel which was in production and that it was being filmed back home in Alameda. At this time a family had been seated near us and the father got up and corrected us on some fact we were curious about as h e walked by. He was gone before we could ask how he knew but his wife told us. "He's a director in Hollywood" cool, has he done anything we would have heard of? "he just finished American Pie 2..." And something else but I cant remember. Anyway, they were in that shitty little dinner place because they too, were driving across the country back to LA. We chit chatted about 9-11, and bragged that we were on our way to do a demo with a famous producer. 2 up and comers in the entertainment industry having no business in that little Italian restaurant brought together by a tragedy.

We finally made it to Chicago. It was amazing.. I had never been further than Reno and now I'm in Chicago, having just experienced "the Heartland" first hand. As we got closer to Chicago the first thing you see is the Sears Tower, realizing that now its the tallest building in America. We got a little worried that it would be the next target. We didn't get to go to the top and see the observation deck because it was, of course, closed because of the attack. There were these little reminders everywhere. Even tho we were there chasing our dream to be rockstars, it was overshadowed by what had happened. I'm trying not to say "9/11" because at that point, on 9-13, it wasn't a phrase people used yet. It was still just the other day to us.

One of the reminders which hit home with us was when Johnny got a letter from a record company colleague about songs that radio stations were pulling because of the attacks... "Anything referring to death, airplanes, buildings, bombs, fire..... "
etc etc etc... The list of songs included the obvious, "let the bodies hit the floor" by Drowning Pool and other heavy metal songs similar to that.. And the not so obvious "Benny and the jets" by Elton John and other songs by unthreatening artists with similar songs with "jets" or "plane" or "fire" in the title. It was ridiculous and our first taste of the powers that be stripping us of our rights and freedoms in the name of "the war on terrorism" Next came the Patriot act.

Jumping a few months ahead, my band ended up not signing with Maverick due to them not giving us an actual contract to sign. We gave them 2 weeks to listen to the demo. We paid for the trip out to Chicago but Johnny liked what we recorded so much, he was so confident we'd get a deal, he waived his fees and said to pay him when we got signed. With our confidence from that, at an all time high we took that demo and shopped it to every Major Label. Jump to November 2001, after months of schmoozing, showcasing for labels in LA we wake up the day we fly to NY to Showcase for Island records to find out that a plane crashed in NY. Not again! Our flight was not cancelled but delayed a few hours while they determined it wasn't connected to terrorism, by now we're just pissed because those damn terrorists are keeping us from getting a record deal. We joked that it was a plot to keep us down. We arrive in NY, play for Island records and through an odd turn of events, we end up the next day in a NY high rise meeting with the head of rock music at Columbia records. Midway through our meeting we get on the subject of September 11th and he shows us a photo of him and his son on a boat in NY harbor with the twin towers in the background. He tells us that the picture was taken on Sept. 9th and continues to share with us how he remembers that day. It was interesting to get New Yorker's perspective. It really hit us pretty hard never really thinking about how regular people, not directly affected by it, but who were in NY dealt with it all.

Jumping even further now. Its been a couple years, we have recorded our album and are out on tour. We've been so caught up in our success and living the dream it sort of took us out of reality. We knew that there was a war, we knew there was shit going on but we kind of didn't think about it. I remember one day in like Iowa or something at a truckstop diner looking up at a TV showing war news and saying jokingly "so, did we win yet?" but the hardened down-home USA patrons of the establishment didn't think it was funny. I never felt so small in my life. And it sort of put everything back into perspective for me. The war was real and people were still very patriotic and concerned with what was going on. 

A part of me wonders if that same gung-ho-America feeling from back then somehow morphed into the brainwashed, right wing, racist sect of cult followers we have now trying to control the narrative.  Falling back on this horrible event 17 years ago to justify themselves.

Anyway, how could anyone ever forget?