Sep 19

Half parmesan pretzels and a pie, please

When I was in college — ahh, sweet college — there came this new restaurant downtown. All the drinkers liked it because they had a bajillion beers on tap. I forget the number, somewhere between 27 and 72, I’m sure. Truly it was impressive for the time, and probably still is today.

It was a pizza joint, and it turned out to be a really good pizza joint. You can have the taps, bring be the pretzels:

Ate there a lot in school. And then we moved back there years later and ate there almost weekly. And by then there were more franchises of Mellow Mushroom opened up nearby. So I could enjoy it several places.

And now I live in a college town with exceedingly average pizza. It’s a bizarre phenomena, really. The old Pizza Hut is now a Mexican restaurant, El Ranchero Mexican, which kept the iconic Hut silhouette and gets good reviews online. The consensus best pizza in town is on par with a good day at the Hut way back when. In a college town. Isn’t that sad?

So to get good pizza, to get Mellow Mushroom, we have to go an hour-and-a-half up the road, to the north side of Indianapolis. If you think I’m not trying to find reasons to go there regularly, or how to enlist students from that neck of the woods to bring me some back when they return from home you’re wrong.

So very wrong.

My social media campaign to get Mellow Mushroom to open a store here and clean up is also underway.

Aug 19

Travel day

Well we made it. Despite the rescheduling of yesterday — apparently several days of storms had thrown off the air traffic patterns of the eastern seaboard and they only needed the one more night, and the passage of one line of storms last evening, to reset the process — and a lot of choppy, bouncy turbulence today, we made it to New York City.

Meaning Laguardia Airport, which is precisely the same amount of mess we left it in our last visit. They say it will be completed in 2022. I say when have you ever known a massive project to hit its target. And, Laguardia is a massive project. The signage also says uplifting things about a better tomorrow, but you’re smarter than all of that. We’re all just hoping it isn’t as bad as today out there.

From a design standpoint this is a fascinating puzzle. How do you rebuild one of the nation’s busiest airports (20th, it turns out) while keeping it one of the nation’s busiest airports? It’s a dreadful experience today, but make it better. You can’t example implode the buildings and start over. You can’t add extra land (it covers 680 acres). You can’t move those 30 million annual passengers someplace else.

So across the Throgg’s Neck Bridge and up the coast of the Long Island Sound. Throgg’s Neck is named after an early 17th century settler, John Throckmorton. It was a Dutch to English name thing, as best I can tell. Anyway, the Bronx and New York grew up around it. And we were on our way out of New York to summer on the Gold Coast, or at least have a weekend with the in-laws.

We used to summer on the Gold Coast here in beautiful Connecticut, but now we are busier, I guess. This year we are having a long weekend and celebrating two important birthdays. So tonight we had a delicious Italian dinner at a local favorite.

I had the chicken marsala, which was great because so far today I’ve had … the bag of Cheez-Its they gave me on the plane. I don’t know why eating and traveling is such a difficult proposition, but this is the way it goes. I had a late lunch at Chipotle yesterday, some fries for an early dinner and a snack last night. I’m sure the little cup of apple juice I also had on the plane kept me at an appropriate caloric level until dinner tonight. It’s a curious thing, that’s all.

The important thing is the birthdays, and that I ate a lot chicken marsala. And it was delicious.

Aug 19

Happy weekend

Tonight we had pizza. I was told I could have whatever I wanted on my pizza. You see, my lovely bride makes the pizza (I retired from pie making my freshman year of college). And she always has a better grasp of what we have on hand for toppings. But, as ever, I am deferential to her tastes and wouldn’t dream of depriving someone else of an ingredient if we had only so much. But, she said, we had plenty of all of the things that she listed. And, thus, I could have whatever I wanted on my pizza.

“Except for whatever smart thing you’re about to say,” because I had the look on my face.

So I said I wanted Mellow Mushroom on my pizza. Mellow Mushroom, of course, being an incredibly tasty pizza every time. Sadly, there isn’t a store here. There’s one on the other side of Indianapolis and I am currently starting a low boil campaign to get them to open a shop here because they do great numbers in every college town they are in.

And they’d kill here. They would absolutely make bank here. I’ve had the consensus-opinion best pizza in town. And I honestly started asking people if I’d ordered the wrong thing. It was fine. It wasn’t bad by any stretch. But best pizza? In town? In a college town? It was Pizza Hut on a good day. I’ve also had their burgers, and their burgers were better. The best pizza joint in town is better at making burgers, is what I’m saying, and Mellow Mushroom should swoop in and capitalize, and we haven’t even started talking about the many side selections their menu offers.

So I could not have Mellow Mushroom on my pizza tonight, but I did want some. We did have some last month. It looks like this:

The Yankee’s pizzas are pretty good. They’ve been a fun experiment this year and great progress is being made. She makes a nice wheat crust pizza and there are fresh toppings and there’s just something about the sauce that I can’t yet quite put my finger on. It’s not Mellow Mushroom, but I think it is way up there on the best pizza in town list.

Unfortunately, I was too hungry to remember to take a photo of it this evening, but it looks pretty and it tastes nice. So it is definitely on the best pizza in town list.

Anyway, that’s the start of an easy weekend, pizza. And also we watched Endgame again. If you download the digital version from Amazon you get seven hours of material. That’s a lot of features, and I’m sure we’ll get to some of those later. Tomorrow we’ll have an early lunch at Chick-fil-A and the weekend will be warm and sunny and lovely and low key, the perfect kind of weekend, then.

Oh, and today I decided to send myself to Mars. I added my grandfather’s name early this year, and now we’re both going to be on a microchip sent to the red planet next year.

You can add your name here. The deadline to do so is September 30th. I mean, if you really need to get out of town …

But if you’re staying closer to home, have a great weekend there, too.

Feb 19

He said prolonged eye contact with a bear in the wild

Oh, look, the morning show crew brought back an old favorite game show.

Sure, it is The Dating Game, but local in all of its local glory. Plus college students! I watched them shoot this last week. The original run ended four years ago, at least, which means this particular set of people had never done this show before. They did a pretty nice job with it. And the guests were fun! And tarot!

My favorite part might be the “interesting thing about you.” As ice breakers go, it is a classic. Some are better than others and sometimes the ice breaker itself goes over better than others. I’m always intrigued by the things people say. You’re all interesting and all of us have varied experiences. I’ve no doubt that, given a minute or two, anyone could pull one or two or four notes from the memory banks with which to wow us. Now, the bear thing, from the title, that’s in the video. As interesting facts about a person might go, that’s pretty good. I am always intrigued by how a person arrives on sharing their particular tidbit.

Anyway, one of the station’s managers dug up some old archives of the original Big Red Love. It was a different studio, which was in the basement of a dorm. It featured different production values, a Barkeresque microphone, delightfully awkward interactions and a cubicle wall that “separated” bachelorette from contestants. It was a wonderful college television show. If they brought this new version back and streamlined their production, it would be an even better and more wonderful college television show.

This evening we went for a run on campus. Because hills! Hills are great to run in concept, and I am lousy at it in execution. The Yankee was done with her day a bit earlier, and wanted to go a bit longer than I did. So she started out, looped back and then picked me up. Here we are at the top of the very last hill for the day:

I was four miles in and she was about, or so. I finished with six and she finished at 10. And, also, it was about 30 degrees.

A young woman with flaming red hair passed us earlier in the run. She was so fast I couldn’t figure out if she was saying something encouraging or suggesting we get out of her way. Her voice dopplered very quickly because she was fast. And she had on a little cape. She might have been an actual superhero!

Generally, we avoid amateur nights. In a college town this includes New Years, St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s. Part of that might be because we spent so many years not in the same town on Valentine’s Day. (I started counting that and then stopped.) Mostly it is because we generally observe today as the anniversary of us being a couple.

It was a friend group, you see. There were about six of us who were all in the same grad school cohort and then within the group there were the two of us palling around all the time. People, in our group and in the larger cohort and some of our professors too, started thinking of us as a couple. Where there was the one there was the other. And then we realized that’s what people thought and so on and so forth. And that realization came today, 14 years ago. So we celebrate today. And the celebration is typically a low key dinner at the hibachi steakhouse because it is a tradition at this point.

So there we were, at 8 p.m., cleaned up after our run. The local place had two people sitting in the hibachi side of the restaurant. They didn’t look a day over 15 and one of them looked almost exactly like my second-cousin. His wife, I assume they were married, was an over-sharer. A nice couple, but before the man had wheeled out his cart to spin the spatula and pour the sauces and cook for us, we learned they had a 4-year-old. The cart comes out, the cook makes a great deal of noise with his cutlery, cooks the food, does the flaming onion bit, busts out the little squirt joke the restaurant likes so much, cleans everything up and thanks us again and again. As he leaves I said, “So a 4-year-old, huh?”

To which she immediately launched into a 20-minute speech about the dogs, and their territorial habits and, here, check out some pictures. Oh, and finally here’s one of our daughter. Who does she favor?

That’s always a loaded question for some reason or another, of course. We all know that. But she obviously favored the dad, who looks almost perfectly like my second-cousin. Only the kid isn’t his, biologically. And this is an intriguing conversation to be having with someone over fried rice. Oh and she had just had her gall bladder removed and he doesn’t eat anything green and … they were nice, truly.

Also, I can now tell you where to get the best sushi in town, and where you should absolutely not get sushi. No one had asked.

Anyway, in the back of the restaurant, by the restrooms, there’s a door into the kitchen area. And this is on the door:

If it ever said anything other than “Your uniform hangup” then I’m just going to assume it has a story to tell. I guess we’ll just have to keep going back until we figure it out. Oh, darn.

Jan 19

Already, for a moment at least, this is my year

We had ribs last night, and company. And all of that was grand. We also had brussels sprouts, which served the dual function of covering greens and my annual brussels sprouts intake.

Most importantly we had black eyed peas and no one else wanted any. So these all became mine:

I don’t know what the rest of the year or even most of this week has in store for me. Perhaps this is the high water mark. Maybe not, but last night, over ribs and peas, that seemed just fine.