A penguin and a polar bear are sitting on an iceberg. The penguin yells, "No Soap Radio!" They both jump in the water.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Painful strife of a sandwich eater

GO TRIAD -- The Reuben sandwich is not for everybody. Most things with sauerkraut are like that.

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to make a Reuben. During the summer I worked at a deli, where my manager, a Chicago native of Polish descent, introduced me to the right way: big and messy. The sandwich should consist of mounds of sauerkraut atop a steaming hot pile of corned beef, literally smothered in Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. The wrong way is anything else.

That deli, Cloud Nine Cafe, is the only place in Greensboro I've been able to find a decent Reuben.

Thus, I began my search for another suitable eatery in town that could measure up.

Full column here

I got a lot of email about this column today. Most people were suggesting tiny little hole-in-the-wall places around the Triad where I could find a decent Reuben; a few were just happy with the column; and only one was unpleased, but he was unpleased in the way that makes putting my mugshot next to the column a questionable move.

But then there was this email, which is the best letter I've ever gotten.

From: "xxxxxxxxxxxx"
To: triadcheapeats@yahoo.com
Subject: Thank goodness someone has finally brought our plight out into the public


I remember my first Reuben sandwich as if it were yesterday. My parents had taken my sister and I to a new restaurant in Florida called "Bennigans". My family being of the "Southern Baptist" persuasion rarely ate in places that served beer, and never took the kids to such sin holes, but we were eating out with another new family, and they chose.
I saw Reuben on the menu. I had never had corned beef, and didn't like Rye bread, but I was in a fancy place, I was going to eat a sophisticated sandwich. There are three magical moments in my life. My son was born, my wedding, and that sandwich.

Long story short, I made it a habit to order a Reuben everywhere I went. The last few times I ordered one in Greensboro, I got one fried lump of meat that all came out on the first bite, leaving you to scarf down a scalding hot, rubbery bit of pink flesh like a dog eating scraps, and then lingering over lonely rye and Sauerkraut.
Since then if I get bad Reuben vibes, I go for my second option "The
Cuban". (A buddy worked at a Cuban sammich shop in FL. They had like three things on the menu. There was always a line. The owner drove to Ybor city every day for fresh Cuban bread, Guava pastries, and we suspect weed.)

Please let me know if you find a good Reuben. I mostly go to Ham's, and like most things at Ham's, it is hit or miss. Right now my fave in town is the Cuban sandwich roll at Roly Poly.

You are an inspiration to all of us.

Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx

P.S. May Jared the Subway guy rot in hell.

Best. Email. Ever. Aside from inflating my ego, three things I liked here:
1. He shares my almost excessive love of the Reuben.
2. He said "sammich."
2. Screw Jared and everyone who looks like Jared.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An actual self-interest quiz

I've always hated those little self-interest quizzes that people often post on their blogs. They're full of meaningless questions like "If I could be anywhere now, you would be:________" or "If my daddy had hugged me as a kid, I wouldn't have:_______". (Most common answers to those are, respectively, "hanging from the ceiling" and "become a stripper.") But, since this particular issue seems to be in debate between some of my friends, I will take this quiz.


1. In the last month, have you taken a drink first thing in the morning to help recover from a hangover (hair of the dog that bit you)?
No. That's disgusting.

2. In the last year, have you had a drink while driving or have you driven while under the influence of alcohol, even just a couple drinks?
I fail to see how restricting yourself to two beers if driving is a sign of alcoholism and not of responsible drinking, but I'll play along: Yes.

3. In the last 3 months, have you continued drinking until you passed out?
How else would you know how to stop?

4. Are more than 50% of your friends drinkers?
All friends, no. Close friends, yes.

5. Do you consume more than 7 alcoholic beverages a week?
Week? Day? The answer is yes.

6. In the last 3 months, have you taken alcohol to work to drink during your workday or chosen a lunch restaurant because it serves alcohol?
I have to blame this one on a flexible sleep schedule, so quite often my "lunch" is at other people's supper time. But the answer is yes, I've said the words "Let's go somewhere else, they don't serve beer there."

7. Do you hide your drinking from any friends or family?
My parents are well aware of my drinking now, so no.

8. Have you failed to keep a promise to yourself or a loved one that you would quit drinking?
I would never do something stupid like breaking a promise, or promise not to drink.

9. Have you ever had trouble remembering what happened while you were drinking?

10. In the last year, have you done anything while drinking that you regret doing?
I've done very stupid things I should not have, but I also never regret anything, ever. Answer is no.

11. Do you find it difficult to stop after one or two drinks?

12. In the last year, have you wet the bed or wet your pants during or after drinking?
I've never understood how a person could get that drunk. No.

13. Have you ever woken up after drinking in a strange place, or at home, but you don't remember how you got there?
Yeah, but it's usually a simple matter of finding out who drove my drunken ass home.

So my total number of yes's is seven. According to the test, a single "yes" means you should investigate further and monitor yourself for three months. I'm not joking.

Three yes's means you "may be" an alcoholic. You should have a non drinking friend take you to an AA meeting, and then talk to your family about your drinking. Of course, "if you're unwilling or unable to do these things, you are an alcoholic." It's not that this test is stupid, or its recommendations are silly. You're an addict.

I answered "yes" to five or more, so I'm "probably" an alcoholic. I'll admit that my answers are probably skewed because I'm in college, have always been a heavy drinker, and have very few responsibilities that drinking would affect (e.g. an actual job, children, etc.).

The actual test for alcoholism, or any addiction, is whether it negatively affects your life and you keep doing it. Drinking isn't hurting anything so far, aside from the occasional hangover and taking up a portion of my paycheck. And then there's the inevitable cirrhosis of the liver. Either way, listening to stupid tests like this would most certainly affect my life in a more negative way.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanks for the update

NBC begins to describe situation in Iraq as "civil war."

Fark.com tag - "NBC becomes first mainstream media outlet to identify Civil War in Iraq. No word yet on if sky is blue, grass is green."

Score one for the motherland

THE SUN -- The break-up of the United Kingdom became a stark possibility last night as thousands of English and Scottish voters demanded home rule. Most people on both sides of the border want their countries to “divorce” after almost 300 years together, according to a poll.

It showed that more than half of Scots and three out of five English folk want the two countries to go it alone. And thousands more want breakaway governments for Wales and Northern Ireland, too.

I'm no populist, but in the fake words of fake William Wallace, "Go back to England and tell them there that Scotland's daughters and sons are yours no more. Tell them Scotland is free."

Scotland not being part of the UK is the only thing that could possibly make me want to go there more.

By the way, eat here

GO TRIAD - Fincastles serves the kind of Southern food that a lot of us from the South just don't understand.

Although it's primarily a burger joint, the menu is spiced up with things such as fried pickles and grilled pimento-cheese sandwiches –– foods we often have to defend to our Yankee friends, or simply shrug off as "a Southern thing."

Let's face it: Southern people eat some weird stuff. We'll cook parts of a pig that most sections of the country would only consider during a survival situation. And we will fry anything: corn on the cob, Snickers bars... . I've even seen a fried cheeseburger once.

Those of us used to these sorts of oddities will feel welcome at Fincastles. For a place that opened just last year, it already has the feel of an old-town diner. Over the grill you can see Polaroids of all the cooks like pictures of family you keep around the house. It's an oasis of Southern culture in the middle of busy downtown Greensboro.

Ful column

Some of the places for Cheap Eats are kind of random spots that I find or get tipped off on, go a few times, write a column about it and never really think about it again. Fincastle's is a place I really love. I lived downtown this summer, and I ate at this spot as often as possible.

Hopefully this doesn't make it weird going back. They were complimented, so they can't be pissed. I'm having to become more accustomed to happy restaurant managers coming out from the back and shaking my hand. I should take it as a positive thing, a sign of success or something to that effect, but it's just odd. Unlike some would pose, I'm not an attention whore (ahem, Kathryn). I gain nothing personally from strangers reading me or knowing who I am (or writing constant letters to the editor). In fact, I'm pretty open about not liking people, as in human beings in general.

So far the people coming out to say hello are pretty happy about the column. It's awkward, but friendly, and good to know they liked it. It's not like I expect them to give me a free meal or anything. That would be nice, of course.

A related story: Tim, the manager at Brixx, is a hell of a nice guy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Striking photo from BBC

This photo from the BBC's "Week in Pictures" mesmerized me.

A young girl sits among other worshippers during Friday prayers at Tehran University in Iran.

Symbolic and captivating, the kind of photo whose thousand words should be written.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A letter to the Human Rights Watch

BBC -- The trial of Saddam Hussein was so flawed that its verdict is unsound, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch says.

HRW said "serious administrative, procedural and substantive legal defects" meant the 5 November trial for crimes against humanity was not fair.

Dear Human Rights Watch,

Let it go.

Everyone on Earth except Saddam Hussein

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spartan Mail Center

I was looking up the UNCG Post Office website for an explanation as to why UPS had confirmed delivering a package I'm expecting but the post office is dragging ass in notifying me, and I found this.

I died. Does anyone know why this is funny? Does Sparty Spartan actually get mail? Can you open a mailbox with a spear? Is the helmet really neccesary indoors?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good god this made me happy

Hilarious. Ptthhp.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Failure to Communicate: This column contains curse words

The Carolinian -- You've been warned. If you are offended by the use of certain English words, then this column is not for you. It is about you, but it is not for you. You probably won't be able to handle it.

There are those among us who hate curse words just for existing. People who don't hate the meaning of the words, which can change given the usage and context, but simply hate the four or five letters making up the sound "fuck," "shit," or "bitch." A logophile by nature, I've always had a fondness for words. All words, including curse words. I've also always had a certain distaste for people who claim curse words to be useless collections of letters that inherently make a person sound dumber for using them.

For those who embrace the red-headed stepchildren of the English language, curses are like the spicing you sprinkle over a sentence. A properly placed swear can kick a statement up a notch. "What are you doing" is decidedly blander than "what in the hell are you doing." More emotion can be inflected, or the statement can take on a degree of seriousness, or any number of other meanings can be given to what are extremely flexible and useful phrases. We should be careful not to over-pepper our words, but nothing beats a little flavor.

And, like all words, curse words carry meanings and can be used for a purpose. During the course of any political discussion with friends, I will never say "I disapprove of President Bush's stances and I dislike him very much as a person." I will say, probably a number of times, "Fuck Bush." Those two words won't be the crux of my argument, of course, but it's a perfect description of how I feel about our president.

Full column

This is the column that didn't run last week. Enjoy, motherfuckers.

Also, check out the well-written article on UNCG's sex offender. Two things disturbed me about the piece.

1) "Silva was released from jail in September and is currently seeking treatment. He wrote he is on 'a long road to recovery.'"

He was released from jail as in he's out on bond, or he's out? There's only one way I'd be okay with him out, and that's if his "long road to recovery" involved a short trip to the doctor for castration.

On that note, I call dibs on Silva for next issue.

2) Do all sex offenders really just look like sex offenders?

Is it that we look at them differently once their name is next to the admission that he wanted to fuck a 14-year-old? Can guys who look like sex offenders not get laid, so then they have to resort to being scum? I don't buy that one, prostitutes who are at least of legal age still an option.

Or can you judge some books by their cover?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Casino Royale clip online

There's a clip from Casino Royale out on Doubleagent right now. I'm not sure why, but I'm excited about this one. I've never been into Bond films, for no reason other than not having seen a lot of them. Perhaps it's time to give them a go.

Maybe it's the prequel element that's more interesting, or a new blonde 007, but this one seems different somehow. Either way, I will be seeing Casino Royale.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"I have seen the past"

City of Legends -- After much pondering, I have finally, I think, come up with a definition and a distinction between Conservative and Liberal that is workable to my worldview.

Both seek to do what they think is best, regardless of whether the primary goal of their ethos is a better world or just a better life for themselves.

The split is over the form of that better place, that better world.

The Conservative honestly and earnestly believes that in the past, perhaps even in their personal past, the world was as perfect as they can perceive of it being. Whether their vision is the entrepreneurial 80's or their childhood in small town America, they believe that a return to the principles and framework of those times is ideal.

The Liberal believes in utopia. A place not yet visited, where abstract principles have become concrete and life is better than ever before in the past. They are visionaries and idealists, if sometimes without being able to explain why the world would be better, or even disagreeing as to what that "future, perfect" will look like.

Full post here

Forget greensboro101, poets101 is where it's at.

It's also just a guess, but a lot of southern conservatives could probably pin that moment in time down to anywhere before 1865. Or, for the more religious among them, the night of October 6, 1998, if you happened to live in Laramie, Wyoming at the time.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No words...should have sent a poet...


There's no need to embellish this moment with words. Last night we drank while glued to CNN. Tonight, we celebrate. We're not low.

Women are complicated

This blog post is an exercise in deciphering women. If you're reading this, you are required to participate. It won't take more than a minute.

I'm going to play out a short scenario for you, then you will post your response to it in the comments, and after you do that you can read my response.

A girl walks up to the guy she is currently seeing. He smiles, kisses her, and asks, "Why do you look so pretty today?"

Now, here's the question. Was that a compliment, or an insult?


I say that it is a compliment. The only argument one could raise is that telling a girl she looks pretty today infers that she's not normally pretty, but that's not what the guy did (and even then, that's a weak and bitchy argument, just take the damn compliment). He said why did she look so pretty today, inferring that she is pretty every day but exceptionally pretty on this day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Much love in this week's Carolinian

In this week's Carolinian you might have noticed that my column is absent, for several reasons (none of which was the usual "I didn't have time to write one"). But my name is still in the Opinions section, a few times more than usual this week. One, two, three letters were somewhat unhappy with my columns in the past couple weeks.

I really enjoy getting letters to the editor. It's not an attention thing. On the occasion that the letter is actually praising me I'm actually a little let down. The negative criticism doesn't faze me; it's entertaining to me, not sure why. It can't be just that I enjoy pissing people off.

When it first happened a couple years back (because you can't be a real Carolinian writer until your first angry letter) I remember being upset about it. What burned more is our Code of Ethics kept me from responding to it. Since then either my skin thickened up -- something we have to guide new writers through occasionally -- or my sense of humor about it grew. Between letters, emails, angry blog comments and Facebook messages, I suppose your skin has to thicken a bit.

What is good, or just interesting, is that people who comment to your face rarely say anything negative. I've had ISO members find me in the hallway and call me racist, but aside from instances like that people are nice about it. Too nice perhaps. Or maybe I'm just not that easy to find on campus.

Only my close friends tend to get in my face about something I wrote. Everyone else emails.

In any case, with the three letters this week I think I'm up to seven for the semester. I'm got to check with Killian and Brook, but I might be on the verge of a record. Then again, I've heard John Russel -- the sex columnist before Brook -- had more than his fair share. I've still got all year; we'll see what I can come up with.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Remember, remember...

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Friday, November 03, 2006

Zach's own my soul. Or is that my colon?

GO TRIAD -- Like Christmas without family, it just wouldn't be Burlington without Zack's.

The menu is simple: hamburgers, sandwiches, breakfast until 11 a.m.

But the hot dogs are the main attraction, enough so that the staff assumes they are what you'll be ordering. A vague "two with chili and slaw" gets me exactly the meal I want.

Chili is what makes or breaks a hot dog, and Zack's has been making it for more than 75 years.

Theirs is light and meaty, perfect for coating a hot dog and not dripping down your arm. Top it off with a couple squirts of "Mr. Zack's Secret Hot Sauce," and you have what may be the most sought-after dining experience in the Old North State.

People grow up on these hot dogs; my family has been eating there for three generations. My dad would leave his high school during lunch and, on days he had time to fight the crowd, get a large plate of fries. Zack's previous location, just a few blocks away from where it is now, was across the street from the firehouse where my grandfather used to work.

Full column

I'm not joking when I say that Zach's is a part of my family. Burlington is the hub of McIntyre cuisine; there's usually a pint of chili being mailed to some family member stranded by a job in some strange land like Colorado. Between my grandmother's sweet pickles, Zach's, and liver pudding (don't knock it till you try it), I don't know how I'll survive life outside of North Carolina.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cruise made studio head

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Movie superstar Tom Cruise and MGM are partnering to resurrect the historic United Artists movie studio founded by Charlie Chaplin and associates, MGM's CEO announced Thursday.

As an actor, I like Tom Cruise. Crazy actors are the best ones. I still like Mel Gibson's movies, though he's more into production nowadays. I'm a big Robert Downey Jr. fan too. Cruise's performance as a producer... not so spectacular. He's better in front of the camera, I think.

But the real question here: can they not use a normal photo of Tom Cruise anymore? Yes, he's crazy as hell. Do we have to emphasize that fact? Let's just be obvious with it; just use pictures of the Oprah debacle as the standard Tom Cruise picture from now on.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com)-- In a press conference today, movie superstar Tom Cruise confirmed that he is, and will continue to be, bat shit crazy. Cruise was not asked specifically about his craziness or the bat shit level of it, but rather was asked how Katie Holmes was doing as a new mother, to which he responded "corn cobs."

Failure to Communicate: Don't Waste Time Voting in 2008

The Carolinian -- Last week The Carolinian ran a staff editorial explaining bonds in this year's election, so everyone could be a bit more informed before they vote. A couple weeks ago we ran one basically calling you stupid if you don't vote this year. All the editors pretty much agreed on that point. If you don't vote, you're dumb.

That said, in 2008, don't vote.

Of course by 2008 I'm referring specifically to the presidential election. The one where, if you live in North Carolina, your vote doesn't count. It's true. Not including the 1976 election, it's been more then 40 years since North Carolina allowed its electoral votes to be cast for a Democrat. I say not including 1976 because, honestly, who wasn't going to vote Democrat after Nixon resigned?

North Carolina, like the rest of the south, goes Republican. It doesn't make sense to vote. It doesn't make sense to participate in an electoral system that allows for a president to be elected even though a majority of voters actually voted against him. For no reason at all, it allows for the possibility of "faithless electors." Our government, in its infinite wisdom, still gathers people from voters' districts who promise to cast their electoral vote the way the district did. When they don't, they're called "faithless electors." But putting the negative term on the elector isn't really fair. It's more a result of the "idiotic constituency."

You don't vote for president. You vote for a person who you've never met or heard of, who simply promises to vote the way he or she is supposed to, and a majority of the time doesn't even face legal repercussions for not voting that way. Faithless electors are probably not something we should worry about. It's only happened a little over 150 times so far. Are we insane?

Full column

Almost every time I discuss this point with my fellow Poli. Sci. majors, I get exactly the same response. "The founding fathers designed it this way because..." or some other version of what is not at all their opinion on the matter, merely a civics lesson in how the electoral college works. Or, I should say in how it operates. It does not work.

It does not work because it disenfranchises voters based on something as stupid as what state they live in. The electoral college treats states as a political entity. I say state governments have absolutely no business in a national election. The 2000 election should still be fresh in our minds as an example of how just one state -- one state full of election mistakes and fraud -- can screw it up for everyone else in the country.

I have similar problems with the Senate and each state getting two senators, regardless of population. The same position and power is given to each senator, so a US citizen who happens to live in Wyoming voting for their senator gets a vote that counts more than 70 times as much as a US citizen who happens to live in California. Maybe it's just me and this wild idea I have that everyone's vote should count equally. If only there were a word for that system of government...