Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The McRib, Donating to Medicine, Superman Rights, and... Really, America?

I was just looking through some e-mail, and realized I had not posted on any of the following items. Many of these things were sent my way by Randy.

The McRib Flowchart

I have taken some good old fashioned McRibbing over my annual pilgrimage to McDonald's for the McRib sandwich. The McRib is a sort of pressed pork patty which McDonald's decided, during the coked-up early 1980's, in a form which was actually rib shaped. For whatever reason, the circular nature of the hamburger (no doubt also from a press) is seen as the natural shape for all the parts of a cow you'd never consume normally. But forcing those same unspeakable parts into a shape resembling something from nature... draws the ire of both God and man.

But I like it. Really, its the sauce, onions and pickles I like, and maybe the big bun. And I am not alone. Apparently there are McRib fanatics who McDonald's appeases with the annual, month-long release of the McRib, usually right around the Holiday Season.

Anyhow, did a pretty good bit on The McRib. I invite you to check it out.

Sent by both Randy and Jamie

Glenn Beck is right!

Glenn Beck has founded his 912 Project, which I am just really enjoying.

Principle 7 is one I am really, really going to get behind.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

Which is why The League of Melbotis supports:

Leaguers, nothing makes me sadder than a stripper with low self-esteem. How can a sad-eyed stripper feel a sense of real worth in this world unless she's swinging some DD's? bridges the gap between those unfortunate, modestly busty souls and the folks who really want to believe in a bustier world. Also, those same boob-lovin' folks can buy credits to get an opportunity to speak to the women whose boobs they are embiggening.

This is the free market at work, Leaguers, and why I say thee nay when it comes to healthcare reform in the U.S. If our penniless strippers can make it work, then so can YOU.* That is, if its not just girls doing the old mail-order bride scheme with twist.

By purchasing those credits, you're not just handing a stripper a pile of cash, they're sort of working for it. By maybe talking to you. Which, you know, they would normally never do.

All this right-thinking Americanism just brings me back to principle #1.

1. America Is Good.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Glenn Beck.

Thanks to Randy for the link. The "free implants" link, not Glenn Beck.

Superman Rights to Siegels

JimD, Nathan C. and Randy all sent me links to news regarding a recent ruling that decided that material in Action Comics up to issue #4 was not "work-for-hire" by Siegel and Shuster, and so rights to a few more elements of the Superman property are reverting to the widow of writer Jerry Siegel and his daughter.

By way of explanation, Joe Shuster was the artist who co-created Superman. He has passed, leaving one heir, who also subsequently passed, leaving the Shuster's possible portion of the rights unclaimed.

The decision is a pretty big deal, honestly. Short article here.

The court ruled, for the most part, that the Siegels successfully recaptured most of the works at issue, including those first two weeks of daily Superman strips, as well as key sections of early Action Comics and Superman comics. This means the Siegels, repped by Warners' nemesis Marc Toberoff, now control depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as an infant, the launching of the baby Superman into space and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.

But Krypto still belongs to DC, you conniving Siegels! And without him, you have nothing!!!


(cough cough wheeeez)

I have very mixed feelings in regards to the entire issue. I do feel that National/ DC/ Warner Bros. didn't handle things as smoothly as they could have for decades. That's fairly well-documented. On the other hand, from a business standpoint, its not too hard to see how and why DC thought they were doing the right thing.

Unfortunately for Siegel and Shuster, they were kids with no legal expertise trying to get their foot in the door.

I recommend reading "Men of Tomorrow" for a much better account of the whole story. To keep it short, Siegel's wife and daughter have every reason to bear a grudge regarding what happened to Jerry.

It's not so much a big win for creators that Siegel's family won the rights, as the situation seems so unique, and lawyers became much smarter about this stuff as time passed. But it is a win for Siegel, even if it comes well after his death. Wherever Siegel and Shuster are, I have no doubt they're having a good laugh at Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz's expense.

My primary concern (and I've said this before) is that the Siegels are probably very good people, but they also haven't spent the past 70 years managing the business of Superman. As much as I hope my Superman purchases alone would put Joanne Siegel in ermine and diamonds (and they could), I think they'd be wise to find some deal to license Superman back to WB, and ensure they get to see the ledger sheets.

I have a sneaking suspicion that DC will find a way to make this work and everyone winds up happy.

The King of Pop at Target

I know that nobody ever proved that Michael Jackson actually molested any of the children he gave wine and had sleeping in his bed, but...

I was at Target today buying some cat food, and couldn't help but notice that (a) the record section had an endcap display full of Michael Jackson CD's, and (b) that the Junior's section had three separate Michael Jackson shirts available.

Sure, its tough talking to your kids about the unsavory business that took Michael Jackson from curiosity of a fading star to pariah. But, you know, we learn from tales such as these. Not by sweeping everything under the rug because a dude passed and your kids just found out about "Wanna Be Startin' Something".

I don't know how things work in Minneapolis, but I am failing to wrap my head around what occurred here at the highest corporate level. But, you know, whatever sells.

*Shake that booty, Jason.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good-Bye to McDonald's

So, today went oddly. Work just sort of blew up, but let's not dwell upon that. But let us agree that at the conclusion of the day's labors, I felt I deserved a break. Today.

Part of my day included the fact that I had not been able to get lunch, and so swung through a McDonald's on I-35 as I departed Waco around 4:00.

I don't get a lot of fast food, but I've had reason to hit Taco Bell of late, and I think I went to McDonald's about a month ago for some reason (I really can't guess why). Anyway, there's this new thing that fast food places are doing, that the voice one hears upon arriving at the drive-thru that welcomes you to the restaurant and offers you their current special (ie: "welcome to McDonald's, would you like to try our McDeathwhich today?"), is NOT the same person who then takes your order. But I strongly, strongly suspect that the day's offering/ promotion is pre-recorded, and there's now an odd layer of "what is happening here?" to the proceedings.

I don't know if there's some team action occuring, if its pre-recorded, if there's someone at McDonald's Central monitoring my order or what... but it's sort of freaky. And I decided today that the McDonald's coffees are sort of a travesty. Just FYI.

But did McDonald's really need to find a way to somehow de-personalize the experience at their restaurants even more? To just jettison the whole illusion of anyone working there giving a damn? That's a bold step, and I almost salute the cold efficiency of the move. Its just one more step before we all bow down before the Robo-Kaiser.

And, in case you were wondering, there is no sight sadder than watching your McLatte being made by a drive-through agent at a McDonald's. You realize how much this task is messing with their day. There's just no real passion in it when they add the three-inch high tower or Redi-Whip you didn't realize was going to adorn your coffee.

Alas, the day wasn't really complete until I was back in town.

As mentioned, I had been on the road, returning from that day-trip to Waco, and just before picking up my Wednesday haul at Ye Olde Comick Shoppe, I stopped at a McDonald's to, ahem, TCB (too much coffee) so as not to be distracted while looking at funny books.

I tell you, Leaguers... I'm a polite guy. When I stop at a gas station or McDonald's to use their facilities, I usually try to buy something so that I'm a paying customer. Even if I just bought a McCafe somewhere up the road. However...

No sooner had I entered the bathroom than I heard someone retching in the stall. For some reason, this McDonald's has a smaller door, so I could see the person standing over the toilet, at which point he hurled. Twice.

I stood there, time slowing to a crawl. I'm not a religious man, but I prayed in that moment:

Dear God, please... he's seen me in here. Please make this guy wash his hands and get cleaned up. I do not want to touch the doorhandle after this fellow.


The gentleman then proceeded to open the stall, walk briskly past me (without washing his hands), and wander out the door into the restaurant without washing hands, face, etc...

He was in his official McDonald's uniform.*

I stood there in slack-jawed shock for the better part of a minute.

Not sure of what else to do, The League completed his business, washed his hands, found a way to open the door with his shoe, jam hands in pockets and speed out of the store without touching anything. That was one Diet Coke not sold today, I guess.

And that, Leaguers, marks my final visit to McDonald's.


Sometimes we have to look at why a particular prayer goes unanswered, and in this case, I do not believe YHWH's actions were exactly mysterious.

Way to go, McDonald's. It wasn't the deadly food, crippling effect on the American Food Industry, plague of Childhood Obesity or seeming utter lack of respect for the item formerly known as the Hamburger that did it. It was being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that one instruction you seemed to leave out of the employee handbook.

"Thou Shalt, Upon Vomiting Before a Customer, Make a Big Show of Cleaning Up, And NOT Returning To The Kitchen."

or something along those lines. At least that's how my employee handbook wold read.

Indeed, McDonald's, you finally broke me. Our love/hate, on-again/ off-again relationship is done. No tears. I'll be strong enough for both of us.

*To be completely truthful, I can neither confirm nor deny that Johnny Yak went back to work. But I strongly suspect he at least had been working.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

shirt, zombies, bk ad, SC gov, ebert on transformers

Social Media Venn Diagram shirt

I need one. Here.

Thanks to Kevin.


Massacremike had posted this trailer.

this one is for JimD

Burger King takes that extra step toward dragging us as far into the pit as possible.


Thanks to the unfortunate soul who forwarded this one my way who I am not sure wants to be identified.

I think Quizno's threw down the gauntlet with their "torpedo" ads with Chad and the oven, but... anyway.

Family Values

Well done, elected official.

Goofy enough that Sanford skipped the country. But where were these stories coming from placing you on the Appalachian Trail? Who was awkwardly covering for you? Badly played, sir.

I don't think Ebert likes the new Transformers

From Jamie:

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.

here for the whole thing

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lazy Weekend

Hey Leaguers,

It was a nice weekend, all in all.


Friday night Jamie and I stayed in and watched Disney's "Bolt" on OnDemand. Quick recap: Bolt is a dog that's a TV star of a sci-fi show about a sort of superdog protecting his person, a 12-years-oldish girl, Penny, from an evil scientist and his minions. He is sort of lost from the studio and has to learn that he's not a superdog (he doesn't know he's a celebrity, so that whole part of the fish out of water bit is conspicuously absent).

The movie has some issues, not the least of which is that the opening sequence in which Bolt is acting as a superdog is the best animated, coolest part of the film. The rest of the movie is fairly pat, which is fine. Its family entertainment and the "incredible journey" part of the story will be new to your young 'uns. And, somehow, I found the whole movie kind of sad in a way I don't think was intended.

I do think it picked up substantially in the second half and the ending is sort of classic Disney feel-good. Disney's 3D animation wing has greatly improved, but they haven't quite mastered the form in the manner of Pixar, finding ways to humanize and animate more stylized characters.

Kids and adults will enjoy Rhino, the hamster who joins the journey. perhaps for different reasons, but I sort of loved Rhino. Who gave the best motivational speech I've seen in a movie in a while.

I should also note that for Superman fans, the comparisons between Bolt's sci-fi TV show character and Krypto, Superman's canine Kryptonian pal is inevitable. And, yeah, I would love to see Krypto receive the big screen treatment. So there's a little envy there, but it didn't last too long, given the nature of the story.

You should check it out, especially you Leaguers with kids.

Also, Jenny Lewis is on the soundtrack. Go figure.


As very little opened this week and it was raining, we wound up then watching "Role-Models" on OnDemand. It was pretty much exactly what I expected.

My Office

I also spent time goofing in my office and re-arranging junk. Ie: playing with my toys.

Korean BBQ

We wound up having dinner with Mangum, who recommended we try Korean BBQ, which I'd never tried before. I have to say that my first experience was, once I got oriented, very good.

I don't know if Matt and Jamie were terribly excited that I selected squid as one of our options, but I liked it. Of course, I know nothing about Korean food, so... just because I liked it doesn't mean a whole lot. But the prices were okay, and it was nice to try something new.


Letty and Juan are due fairly soon. We've not heard the name of the child yet, but Juan pitched Lando Calrissian Garcia, and that seemed to be a popular favorite.

We had a few folks over to wish Letty and Juan well with their final days as couple before they become 2 plus 1. We over purchased on meat, but that's what usually happens when I hit Central Market infrequently. Everything seems like a good idea.

Anyhow, it was nice to dust off the grill and have some folks over. I think Matt is right, that we haven't done this since football season. Hopefully we can roll right into football season with the cookout season.

It was a beautiful day, somehow, and we did manage to get outside a bit. Probably the last of that before things heat up and we're all running for air conditioning until October.

Hope ya'll had a good weekend.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Me and Chuck E. Cheese

Edit: I am a bit horrified to find that Whitney Matheson of Pop Candy has re-redirected her readership here to The League (big fan of Pop Candy! Hi, Whitney!). Welcome one and all. I also apologize for the many, many grammatical and typographical errors. If I'd time, I'd clean it up, but alas.

Every year on my birthday, people ask where I want to go for dinner to celebrate. And every year, I say the same thing. I say that I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese.

Its partially a test. The truth is, I sort of figured out a long time ago that even if its your birthday, you sort of need to pick neutral territory that everyone will like. You cannot say "I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese", because nobody over the age of 9 really wants to find themselves at Chuck E. Cheese for any length of time. Which is why they sell beer (or they did). So its always a fun litmus test to see how batshit people (especially Jason) will go when you quietly insist that, yes, you DO want to go to Chuck E. Cheese. When pushed, I insist that I like pizza, videogames and a complementary animatronic floorshow. And offer up helpful bits like "I told you where I wanted to go, and if you don't want to go there, that's fine. Just take me wherever."

I have actually had two birthdays at Chuck E. Cheese. When I was in 5th grade, my parents finally caved and agreed to let me have my party at a Chuck E. Cheese somewhere in Austin (probably off Burnet). And I recall pretty distinctly all of my friends just sort of milling around, realizing we were too old for Chuck E. Cheese. Whether we were too big for the "rides", or weren't into the robots anymore, or whatever... I just remember an awful sinking feeling that I'd made a mistake.

They probably still do this, but they would announce the names of kids having birthdays and bring out these cakes with these goofy sparkling candles, and Chuck would come by and give you a present. And as all of this was going on, all I could think was "Oh, Jesus Christ, I'm too old for all of this..." And as I was about to open the present from Chuck, this girl in a visor who worked there sort of apologized to me in advance, letting me know "we only have presents for little kids..." as I opened up what was a dollar-store Fisher-Price knockoff toy car. Pretty clearly intended for a kid, ages 2-6.

You Want Money, You Better Earn It

At age 16, I was informed I was to find a job once school let out. There was a certain window of time when school let out when people would plan to hire kids for the summer. This was kind of understood by me and my high school pals but possibly less understood by my folks. That year we headed out of town shortly after school let out, and remained gone for a couple of weeks. When I returned, I hit the road every day for several hours filling out applications, but to no avail. I was told at every place I applied that I could fill out an application, but they weren't hiring. For reasons unknown to me to this day, my inability to find a job was met with skepticism by my parents, who seemed to believe all you had to do to land a job was walk in the door of whever you wanted to work, and they'd hire you.

I confess I had a couple of rules.

1) I wouldn't sack groceries. Houston summers can be brutal enough, and I wanted to not wear the goofy bow-tie, long pants and smock get-up Randall's employed. Apparently the Randall's corporation believed that such a get-up would fool their patrons into believing that they were shopping in some Mom and Pop corner store during the early days of the 20th Century rather than in a state of the art grocery with automated rainfall on the out-of-season produce and endless aisles of preservative-laced foods.

In short, I didn't want to sweat so badly in my job that I'd not get tips, which is how the sackers made their dough.

2) I was avoiding the food industry. Apparently The KareBear had some amazing experience working at the same restaurant as a waitress for years as she made her way through school. But everyone I talked to made it sound like a lot of late nights and uncomfortable situations with assistant managers. Also, I get grossed out by other people's partially eaten food.

I wasn't going to land some sweet gig that my parents set up for me (which was something to always be jealous of), and I was starting late, after every 16 year old in the greater Spring area was already out and looking.

Landing the Job

But... Chuck E. Cheese was hiring.

When I asked for an application, the manager pumped my hand and asked if I could come back the next day. He was in his 30's, 6'4", wore a tie, and seemed like a great guy. The next day he put me in a booth, we chatted lightly (I had no experience doing anything but reading comics, shooting free-throws and doing homework, so... not much to chat on), and I thought we hit it off great. I was in!

I'd be nowhere near the food. I'd be working the Game Floor, which I imagined would be a bit like playing casino host to a bunch of 5-10 year-olds, handing out tokens, occasionally polishing a game, and getting free food.

Jason begged me not to work at Chuck E. Cheese. Family Pal Larry Lee had worked at a Chuck's in Austin when he and Jason were in high school.

"You don't just play the videogames," Jason told me. "You're going to hate it."

I steamed. Chuck E. Cheese was supposed to be fun, by definition. I had a job, and he didn't, so was clearly jealous of my job-landing skills, which... when the manager saw me, he clearly saw the potential that I thought pretty much darn near everyone SHOULD see in me.

I started a week later to the semi-surprise of the two managers on duty, Angel and Jim. Angel was probably in her early 30's, but looked older. I had a foot on Jim, and a head of hair he lacked, which at age 16, made me estimate him at somewhere between 20 and 95. The manager who had hired me was no longer with the store. No explanation was given.

With a few others, I was led to the back to be given a uniform and some cursory instructions. Stuff like "food isn't free, but it is half-off. Plan to be here for a two or more hours after closing every night. More on Saturdays" It was true I would be on the gamefloor, which thrilled me. No clearing plates of other people's slobbered-upon pizza crusts. No touching cups with lipstick smears. I would sweep up, I would wipe down machines. And, curiously, despite an utter lack of experience with anything more than a crystal radio kit, I would repair machines and games. And, give out tokens to kids who claimed they'd "lost" a token.

But there was literally no training. The tasks we were to perform were mostly so idiot simple (go sweep up pizza crusts), that I guess spending time training wasn't really necessary. And, what I would soon learn about the staffing issues probably led the managers to believe it was a waste of time.

Some vintage Chuck horror

The Uniform

Not clear on the spirit of the law, but intent to maintain the letter, I listened carefully to the uniform instructions. I was to wear what they gave me. No exceptions. A red, collared shirt with my name-tag. A blue visor with the logo. And a pair of khaki pants that was pretty clearly too small for me.

Someone asked if we could substitute our own clothing.

The answer was a definitive "no".

I have no recollection of my first day, other than squeezing into the pants I'd been assigned and worrying a great deal about whether I would burst, Hulk-like, from the pants should I squat down, and exactly how much of my wedding tackle would be on display at each shift, because... golly those pants were tight.

Plus, the visor pushed my hair up into a weird sort of explosion, jutting out the top of the elastic band.

I hopped into my disintegrating '83 Honda and headed off for work.

I was relieved to find we wore these little blue smocks that covered the area of primary concern, but did nothing to disguise the action going on in the aft.

The Way it Works

The most important thing to know is how totally gross a place full of children eating greasy pizza really is. Especially kids full of sugar who believe all bets are off because the ranting, robotic mouse keeps telling them they can "be a kid". Which, apparently, means pushing, shoving, kicking people in mascot costumes in the crotch and ass, and occasionally vomiting for no particular reason.

If I had a triumph in the summer of 1991, it was that I drew a line in the land which stated that I would clean neither the stalls, nor the vomit from the floor. That job, I bargained and bartered my way out of it. And you knew you were in dutch with the managers if you had to clean the bathrooms, but at our store, that usually fell to the "show floor" staff, who were perceived to have it somehow easier than the game floor staff during the usual hours.

But kids sort of leak fluids. Never, ever, ever allow your child to play in the ball crawl. No matter what they tell you, you can't actually clean one of those things. Just vacuuming the thing thoroughly, which was done a few times each week with a shop-vac, took the entire evening cleaning shift from 10 - 12:00 or 12:30. There was a semi-annual schedule for actually cleaning the ball crawl, and reportedly they found all kinds of stuff in there.

Walk into any Chuck E. Cheese, and you'll see some schlub constantly wiping things down. That's because greasy little kids are putting their greasy little hands on everything, always. Leaving handprints. The definition of sisyphian task was trying to keep the glass doors to the place hand-print free on a Saturday. Which the managers would do if they were displeased with you for some slight. Or, if they were really irritated, you could be condemned to rub the rubber floor edgings with lemon oil.

My Fellow Staffers

The turn-over was incredible. The entire crew I started with was gone within three or four weeks. Having a new person wander out to join you on shift occurred with such regularity, I mostly identified people by their physical traits instead of names. Guy Who Talks About Being Drunk All the Time. Girl With Too-Huge Boobs. Old Person. Too Much Make-Up Girl. That Guy Who Wears Shorts Even Though Its Not Regulation, But Nobody Says Anything. We were also not really supposed to talk to each other, anyway. Perhaps they feared Chuck himself would lead a Norma Rae-line uprising.

I didn't work many mornings, which was when you wanted to work. Customers tend not to hit the Chuck until later afternoon on weekdays, so the place is oddly sedate for the first few hours, especially before opening. And there were these two women who were in their late-40's, I'd guess, who had been there in a minimum wage position for over a decade. We were going through staff like people go through grapes, and these two had been there and seen it all. They were entrusted with the amazing "token counting machine", which had to be run every morning so they'd know how many tokens were in the store. I remember asking why they didn't become managers if they were there so long, and the conversation became suddenly very awkward until one of them assured me that they didn't want all the trouble of being a manager.

And from what little I knew of Jim and Angel, I didn't blame them. Angel seemed only like she constantly wished to be anywhere but there, but was at least kind of useful. Jim just dreamed up stuff for you to do, like polishing the baseboards. He just seemed particularly frustrated, and refused to crack a smile, even when I slipped and fell in the kitchen and the first words out of my mouth were "there's a lawsuit in there somewhere!" I spent that next Saturday cleaning windows.

Career Advancement

Sure enough, I learned how to fix the ski-ball machines through a sure-fire method of trial and error that would make any psychology lab proud. (If you perform this action, you will receive an electric shock... if you perform that action, the game will come back alive, and you get to play a few rounds to test the machine).

I cleared out hobos. Once ate a handful of the pink powder they use to make cotton candy, right out of the box (do not recommend). Gave away handfuls of tokens to kids who lied about losing them. But never dressed in the mascot suit, for which my carriage was too large.

I did almost wear it once on a slow day, but a party of several dozen showed up, unaware you were supposed to schedule a birthday party in advance. Thus, my one chance for wearing the suit (and going to Fiesta to drum up business, which is what I told the manager I was going to do), was foiled.

Losing Faith in Humanity

I don't know if any particular incident occurred during my summer at The Chuck, but I do recall coming home every night increasingly despondent over what I saw as some less-than-stellar parenting. Drunk parents. Parents who yelled. Parents who felt that Chuck E. Cheese was some sort of "time out" for them, and that whatever happened on behalf of their destructive little monsters within the confines of our store was our problem. Kids whose parents tried to use the Chuck as a daycare.

And I'll never forget the dad who walked up to the ball-crawl while I was on duty and just heaved his infant into the balls. I didn't actually see the action occur so much as looked over and saw the top of an infant's head disappearing beneath the balls, which were about 6-12 inches higher than the actual balls. Plus: Infant with no motor skills and 10 year olds doing flips off the sides into the pit is just a bad combo.

"Sir," I said, yanking the baby out of the balls. "Is this your child?"
A guy I know didn't look like Jeff Foxworthy, but that's how my brain recalls him, sort of stared at me through the netting.
"Sir, I don't think this is a good idea."
I now know that the look of incomprehension probably came from a pack of Coors Light which had probably been consumed pre-Chuck, but I watched as he tried to sort out what I was saying.
"The ball pit is actually pretty deep. I don't think its good for your child."
"She likes it!" he insisted.
The child was actually somewhat emotionless, which was impressive, given the fate which could have greeted her at the bottom of the ball pit.
"Aren't ya'll supposed to watch these kids?"
"Well, yeah. But this isn't really safe."
"You don't think...?" He said, resigned to the fact that he was going to have to return to the table with his child instead of just heading to the counter for a pitcher of the lousiest beer in Spring.
"She may be a little small for the ball crawl," I explained. "She can't stand up in here."
"I think she'd have fun," he was still looking for an angle.
"I don't think so......"
He reluctantly took the child back. And I flashed forward to a lifetime of similar decisions this child was going to endure at the hands of her idiot father. I imagined sitting on the handlebars of an ATV couldn't be too far off in her future.

The Floor Show @#$%ing Sucks

I'd been working at Chuck E. Cheese all of a week when I was having dinner at my friend Mari's house and her brother asked, "So, are you in the band?"

I didn't have super-fabulous memories of the Rock-a-Fire explosion from Showbiz Pizza, or the mishmash of other characters that had populated Chuck E. Cheese when I was little. But I do remember that they played familiar radio tunes. And by played, I mean awkwardly jerked around in something always approximating the beat, but not actually on beat, with the patented delirious eye-rolls and herky-jerky laughing, lifted straight from the on-cue guffaws one saw on TV variety shows of the era.

At some point between when I'd last stepped into a Chuck E. Cheese, and had been weirded out that Mitzy Mozzarella was receiving a spotlight solo for lip-synching the Bangles' "Eternal Flame", and when I started work, someone in the Chuck E. Cheese corporation figured out they could save money by penning original, family friendly tunes. About stuff like "Summer Fun".

And so, every 55 minutes or so, I was reminded of the summer fun kids were supposed to be having while I was pushing a dust pan around and sweeping up stray pizza crusts, waxing the floorboards and telling little scam artists that I would not give them a handful of either tokens or tickets at no charge. Not even if they volunteered to be my friend (which happened more often than you'd think).

The band was sort of a weird deal, in that they had the different pre-programmed sets, and I don't really remember them every breaking. They just never seemed to be programmed all that well to begin with. And when they were taking a break or whatever was supposed to be happening behind the scenes, they still bombarded the place with music and video of the band. So, really, from the minute you walked in until the minute we closed the door behind Tipsy McStaggerson and Family, you had to hear the same loop of half-assed, crappily penned and performed tunes about important topics like fun, friendship and hygiene.

This is sort of the set up we had.

Our store may have been a former Showbiz, from before the merger, as the layout was a multi-stage affair, and different from a lot of what I see on YouTube. They'd reskinned the Rock-afire explosion during the conversion, or something. I don't know. I never thought to care enough to ask.

The show emulated a bygone era of a band, an MC and a comedy act, which the kids, short on their fandom of "Our Show of Shows" may not have been picking up on the origins of the borscht-belt humor and stylings. But, hey, talking rat and his horrible, Italian stereotype, Pasquale and whatever the hell else made up the band (such as purple horror, Munch), always hit their cues and were far less trouble than the average Chuck E. Cheese employee.

I honestly think the kids kind of hated the band.

One Armed Bandits and Free Videogames

My friend Dave (not his real name) took a job at The Chuck shortly after me, apparently intrigued by the possibility of wearing the mouse suit or something. He somehow ended up behind the counter, which is where veterans usually worked (you know, people with 6 months of experience).

I noted that he would often be on the floor playing games during my shift. Often at multiple times, with the smock removed and his visor off, indicating he was "off duty". His girlfriend was often hanging out next to him, despite the fact she didn't work there.

"How did you swing two breaks today?" I asked him as I passed the Whack-a-Mole machine one day (I'd gotten amazingly good at Whack-a-Mole, which needed constant fixing). He looked at me like the sucker I was, and continued playing.

"Dude," he explained. "They never pay attention. I just take breaks whenever I feel like it."
"But don't they notice all the breaks on your time card?"
This was met with a sigh. "I don't ever actually clock out."
"Yeah, you're the only person who doesn't do it. Haven't you ever noticed that?"
"No," I answered honestly.
"You need to start."
I never did.
Like everyone else, he was also using the stash of tokens to play the games for free. And while he wasn't exactly robbing the place blind (really, there was little to steal in a commerce system that worked on Chuck E Currency), he had figured out how to game the system in about two weeks. I never did.

Dave had been born with one-arm, which hadn't slowed him down at all. He played sports, including lacrosse, which he was much better at than me, what with my two hands.

It was never an issue for anyone until he was assigned to wear the mouse suit and the kids noticed Chuck had an arm that didn't look quite right. The rules were pretty simple for wearing the suit, which I didn't do, as I was too tall. Put on the suit, walk around (but not when Chuck is on stage), shake hands, wave "hello" to babies, and when kids start to attack, which they always will... retreat. And never talk when you're in the suit.

And so it was that some kid spied Chuck's arm just sort of hanging there and called him out.
"Hey, you're not Chuck E. Cheese! You're the guy from behind the counter."
Dave waved a "no" motion with his one hand.
"Yeah, you are!"
"Yeah, you are!" a chorus of suddenly ugly little children chimed in.
"Shut up, kid!" the mouse said in a muffled voice, his plastic mouth never moving.
"Yeah, you are! You're that guy from the counter!"
And, of course, the kicking and hitting began as Chuck uttered some profanities and retreated to the stage door.

Here's a training video someone put together, probably in response to how uninspiring it is to get in the suit and beaten for $4.25 an hour.

Also, you can see the basic uniform I wore at the time. Also, why is there jazzy 80's keyboard music through this whole thing?

All Good Things Must End

In my final weeks, I remember feeling daring and going into work in non-regulation pants. After weeks of seemingly smuggling grapes into Chuck E. Cheese, not one person noticed or said anything about my pair of non-reg khakis that allowed for greater freedom of movement, shall we say.

I wound up scheduled in the ball-crawl a lot. Which I hated, but I kind of hated it less than other jobs, because usually you were scheduled alone in the ball-crawl, which meant it was less likely you'd get stuck with Only talks About How Much he Drinks Guy, and spend six hours hearing about how very much liquor he'd drunk out of his parent's cabinets the night before.

Until one day I crawled into the ballcrawl and someone came in right after me. We chatted for a while, agreed it was weird we were both scheduled in there, and then I went back out to check the schedule. I was nowhere to be found on the chart.

"What the hey?" I asked Angel.

Apparently after I'd checked the schedule on Sunday (when it was supposed to be final), she had changed it, and I was supposed to show up and work Monday instead of Tuesday. When i didn't show Monday, she'd assumed that, like everyone else, I'd quit and rescheduled my shifts to others for the entire week and closed me out as an employee. This was just how most people quit. You just quit showing up, and if you didn't show, they weren't going to pick up a phone and call you or anything crazy like that. My absence was taken the same as every other of the hundred or so similar disappointments they would see breeze through that year.

"We've made the schedule for the next week, already. You aren't on it. Maybe the next week?"

"Honestly," I sighed. "I was quitting then. I start school and have after-school obligations."
"Well," Angel and Jim (who'd shown up) assured me, I would have a place at Chuck E. Cheese any time if I wanted to come back.

I considered it that fall when the play I was in ended, but another play came immediately after, and so on. Alas, I never returned to The Chuck to work.

Return to the Chuck

I went back in high school after quitting to take some students from my mother's class out for a "special day". The food was terrible, I used up my non-free-tokens in about five minutes and so retreated to a booth and watched the show.

A few of my classmates were there working, and I saw nobody who had worked there with me. I felt badly for all of them. Especially when Michael P. was yelling at me through the Munch mascot costume so I'd know it was him in there.

They've changed Chuck's look. He no longer dresses like a ringleader, pimp or showman, all in red sparkles and a fancy hat. Instead, he's now a sort of mid-90's idea of corporatified "cool for kids", with a sort of sporty look, as if he might go roller blading or something else edgy or "in your face". I dunno. Miss the old Chuck. I sort of think of him as this old, outmoded entertainer, and I've always thought of him that way. No need for kneepads and a skateboard.

And then sometime in 2002, just before I moved, my co-workers packed into cars and took me to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch on my birthday. The pizza was better than I remembered, and the show just as creepy and bad.

We hung out way too long, and got back to work an hour late, thanks to playing video games. And I tore a four inch hole in the leg of my jeans jumping onto a jet-ski video game, ninja style.

I confess I don't know if I entirely feel good or healthy in regards to Chuck E. Cheese. Or about trying to drag friends and family into my annual desire for self-immolation by way of animatronic floorshow. But it is what it is.

There have been rumors we may be returning to Chuck E. Cheese pizza in the coming week in celebration of my birthday. I let my annual threat slip, and I think people are taking me up on it.

More reports as events warrant.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Not really doing it for me...

Am I the only one creeped out by the sexualization of the Green M&M in the animated M&M ads?

Aside from the obvious (it's an M&M), does the female gender assignment automatically equate to sexiness? And, for the love of mike, wasn't there another way to pitch these fancy-type "premium" M&M's?

And if I'm this creeped out, doesn't it really mean there's someone out there who likes Ms. Green a little too much?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In my Element @ 10K

I was driving home the other night in Babar (my light blue Honda Element) and looked down to see my odometer was at 9999. I've been through four cars in my life, and I never, ever saw the odometer turn any kind of significant whole number.

I have hit 10,000 miles without a hiccup. That is all.

Yes, I love Babar. Some days I want to hug him, but that would be weird.

Meatgrimage, Day 3

Jamie's childhood pal and our mutual current pal, Rebecca, returned to Austin today with her mother, Dr. Kinslow, in tow. They took us to Flemings down by the convention center where we all enjoyed a wonderfully terrific meal.

I have always been a steak guy, and while I am a fan of the backyard grilled steak, I am also a fan of the white-table cloth, let-them-work-their-magic steak. I highly recommend this joint. Especially if the Kinslows are taking you out on the town.

There are many good restaurants down by the convention center which cater to folks with an expense account. However, as Jamie and I are rarely in Austin for a convention, we tend not to make our way to those restaurants or some of Austin's other finer establishments.

Places I would like to go:

Hudson's on the Bend
And of the places that opened on Congress during our four year Arizona sojourn

I am scheduled to hit Mesa Ranch this evening, provided nothing goes off-kilter. Which means: even more meat.

If you want to go see The Flyin' A's with me Thursday evening, give me a shout.

UT @ Kansas

I shall be watching with a mix of exhiliration and trepidation. Tech plays Baylor this weekend. Poor Baylor.

UT Basketball

I park about a block from the Erwin Center, so I am pondering going to some UT home games this year. If you want in on that, let me know.

Ghost Hunters

I am increasingly convinced that, based upon the 100 hours or so of Ghost Hunters I've watched, Jason and I could totally do this.

Anyone want to grant us $25,000 in start up funds? We need money for:

-team shirts
-motion detectors
-flash lights
-EMF detectors
-video equipment
-Ghost Juice (ie: enough beer per ghostly investigation to limber up the mind)
-uniforms for the Lonestar Paranormal Club dancers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Today I headed to Baylor for what I thought was a productive and instructive meeting. Liked the guy I met there, and I think its going to be good working with the dance-less folks of Waco.

Apparently there's an unwritten rule that lunch is involved in these trips, which is great for me. I get a little annoyed when I've traveled in the past and my boss, etc... decides we don't need to eat because they're on some crazy diet of water and carrot sticks or something. Not going to be a problem with this bunch as we headed to Waco's "Jasper's", a side-road BBQ joint that had all you can eat ribs for $9. Plus, Dublin Dr. Pepper, which I tasted for the first time. And, yes, Dublin Dr. Pepper is completely different and much, much better than regular Dr. Pepper (Dublin uses Imperial Cane Sugar rather than corn syrup). So I can confirm that legend.

Jasper's wasn't screwing around with its portions. Despite the "all you can eat" promise, I ate three ribs and was done. Maybe because I was still reeling from Monday's lunch and then winding up at Threadgill's for dinner.

It turns out that the meat at City Meat MArket in Giddings is supplied by a friend's meat company. I'm going to look into whether or not I can get a map of the place Mikey's company supplies meat to, and see if that isn't one way for this to play out.

Also, Jason and I are already talking about a short trip to Elgin for sausage.

Sadly, I am bypassing food and friends on Saturday. Juan and Letty e-mailed me to see about hitting Snow's BBQ in Lexington on Saturday. Now, here's the weird part:

Snow's was recently voted "best BBQ in Texas" by Texas Monthly, a publication that doesn't screw around when it comes to food. Especially Texas cuisine. But... supposedly they sell out of their meat by 10:00 or so on Saturdays. Which means you have to BE THERE before 9:00 to get a meal.

I love BBQ, but getting up at 7:00 to eat BBQ at 9:00 on a Saturday somehow robs the Meatgrimage of its joy.


The Fox Terminator TV show (The Sarah Connor Chronicles) must not be doing very well in ratings. I hear its being shuttled off to Fridays.

I've been enjoying the heck out Terminator. As much as I dig sci-fi, I don't jump on too many sci-fi TV shows. Stuff like the Stargate franchise doesn't do anything for me, or the semi-popular "Highlander" series from the 90's. I think it helps that the Terminator premise is deceptively straightforward. Robots from the future are trying to kill John Connor.

Now you've inserted time travel, plus re-programmed robots, which all hangs from the central conceit of the first two terminator movies.

What really helps is that the rest of the world around our band of un-merry adventurers is very set in reality. Whenever a robot does start shooting, its not as if the populace is aware of what's going on, or would come to the logical conclusion that there are killer robots on the prowl.

Anyhow, I'm a little sad that the show is being moved to the death zone that is Friday night on Fox. But perhaps two really good seasons of a show is infinitely better than the bizarre, slow death spiral that we've seen out of "Smallville" (a show I quit watching for years, but came back to watching to revel in the badness).

Big Bang Theory

The show has taken a decidedly better turn this season, and I liked it last season. The decision not to further pursue the "it's a sitcom" romantic path of Leonard and Penny has been hugely helpful, and its given Kaley Cuoco a much wider range to play with instead of "pleasantly unaware of Leonard's affections".

Anyway, kudos to Jim and the cast of BBT.

One disturbing trend. It seems Jim is becoming a bit of an item of lust for nerd girls on the internet. See the comments on this post at Lady, That's My Skull.

Edit: The Office I should note that I have recently officially quit watching "The Office". As noted above, I do not find the "will-they-or-won't-they" romantic entanglements of sitcoms interesting or funny. They always stink of the suits forcing their way into the process. The Office has managed to drag the concept out, painfully, for several seasons. I was pleased they'd resolved the issue to some extent, and had hopes they were finally just going to @#$%ing move on with it. Last weeks episode proved that was not so.

I feel guilty, because Jamie and I really don't have that many shows we watch together, and The Office has long been one we can agree upon. That is no longer so. Worse yet, I lack the ability to just sit in the room on a laptop and quietly ignore a show. I must make comment upon it, which detracts from Jamie's enjoyment.

Anyway, we have a DVR. I guess we'll put it to use.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Many items

Football Update

Well, we can mark another win up for UT from this weekend. We're ranked #3, which is odd. Of course, we've only lost to Tech who seems headed for all kinds of glories this season.

Colt still looks great, but its clear someone or something is keeping him from running. And something has rattled him and keeps him from attempting passes further than a few yards at a time.

I am still rooting for my Horns, and I think we're set for a great bowl game this year, provided we can win our next two and do well if we're in the Big 12 Championship (if we so land). But I sincerely hope Mack brown has plans to build up our secondary for next year.

Good BBQ in Giddings

Today we met the A&M contingent of our office halfway between Bryan and Austin in Giddings where we ate meat. Leaguers, if you're on 290, I HIGHLY recommend the City Meat Market. That was some top-notch grub served in true Texas fashion.

And, hell, there were honest to god old school cowboys in there. The kind who could choke the life out of you if the notion so took them. Awesome.

It was one of those places where the smoke is cooked into the walls and you start salivating a bit just walking through the door. And the food totally matched the ambiance and first-smell guesses as to what you would get.

I need to use this winter to begin making BBQ pilgrimages around the state. Meatgrimages, if you will. I want to eat Elgin Sausage in Elgin. I want to eat ribs and beef in Lockhart. Shall I go to New Braunfels for Wurst? Or to Kerrville? What meats did our Czech forebears cook up? What about our Mexican forefathers?

So many meats. So little time.


Swedish dance bands from bygone eras.
For some reason I think I linked to an earlier version of this, like, four years ago.

Yeah, go ahead and laugh. Then ask yourself: who had better luck with swinging Swedish women, you or the dudes in "The Schytts"?

That, Leaguers, is the sound of the universe having a good laugh at you.

Beat it!

So I employ Technorati to help me track responses to blog posts. They track, somewhat imperfectly, whether or not someone has linked back to your posts.

A long time ago, I used to get linked around the net. When I don't post on comics, those links tend to dry up. But when I write for Comic Fodder, I notice that I get linked to a lot more often from sources of note (in the comics blogosphere, which is like being a big wheel on the island of misfit toys, I guess). Anyway, it gives me a little thrill to see myself linked elsewhere because (a) it lets me know others are going to come read whatever I wrote, and (b) it lets me know people I care about reading have actually read whatever I wrote. And that, Leaguers, is the blogging circle of life.

One of my fave-rave sites for YEARS has been Heidi MacDonald's "The Beat". So, I was thrilled to see in the links of Technorati that Heidi had linked back to a Comic Fodder article I'd written for last week about the economy and what comic publishers could do to save their skin in these troubled times. But at Technorati, when I clicked on the appropriate link... the article was no longer there.

I was sad. Heidi may have had good reasons for either pulling or never posting the article, but my fifteen minutes of Heidi-powered linked fame was gone, and I was left with nothing but a small reminder of what could have been.

Oh, Heidi... why hast thou removed my linky link?

Okay... yeah, the article was kind of weak.

That said, the guy who wrote the article that spawned my article DID link back (it's the line about "longish think piece"). Which is pretty huge in my world. Unfortunately, Spurge wasn't in the mood to elucidate on what he had in mind. Would have been interesting. Anyway, he's been covering comics and the economy for a few days and its good reading.

New Years Party Update

In case you missed it, here's the official flyer for the Melbotis New Years Hullabalunacy:

To see the invitation, go here.