Friday, December 26, 2008

My Dog Annie: 1993-2008

Today our family decided to put our dog Annie to sleep after the vet told us that she was suffering from kidney failure and ulcers, and that she was no longer eating or drinking.

Annie was a wonderful dog... she was a big fan of running and bird-hunting. Many a pheasant met their match through Annie's dedicated and skillful sleuthing in the fields. Until the last year or two of her life, Annie only had two speeds: stop, and sprint. She also had an impressive talent for taking off on short hikes, getting lost for hours on end, and then nonchalantly showing up back home after successfully eluding the search parties sent out to find her.

Annie lived a long happy life, and she will be missed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Cat

As I walked out of my house to get to my car on my way out of town, I noticed this cat sitting on a pile of pine nettles. The cat looked at me for a couple seconds before getting up and walking away. I decided to chase the cat down and take a picture of it, because I've seen the cat sitting in that same pile of pine nettles so often that I feel like it might as well be my cat. Sadly, I have never been able to pet my cat... This picture is about the closest I've ever gotten to the cat (it was taken about 10 feet away).

I still haven't figured out a name for my cat. Right now I'm thinking "Snookums."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Brunches in Winston-Salem

With the help of SarahSouth, JaryMane and others, I have been working hard to become an expert on Sunday brunches in Winston-Salem. Here are a couple highlights... I'll probably try to update this post retroactively from time to time.

Mary's, Of Course! The name is ridiculous, but the food is ridiculously good (I've probably been there a dozen times). They are very vegan friendly, which means JaryMane isn't resigned to eating side-salads or whatever it is vegans eat for breakfast at unaccommodating places. Also, very impressive/disturbing collection of Tammy Faye memorabilia. Faves: Breakfast burrito (w/ sausage); the tofu scrambles/burritos are terrific -- even for non-vegans.

Cat's Corner: I had never made it out to this place until about a month ago. I love the way the space is laid out - an open-air cafe with tables looking out into different stores around the Stevens Center. Faves: Andy's Pecan Crusted Trout (off the hook!)

Christopher's: This place is strangely located in a big house in the middle of a residential area. But the food is amazing, and eating here somehow makes you feel very classy and sophisticated. Faves: splurge and get the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese... they do NOT skimp on the lobster!

River Birch Lodge: I was staring hard at the Veggie Frittata on their menu - which comes with asparagus tips, tomato, red onion, roasted corn, eggplant, wild mushrooms, roasted red peppers and smoked cheddar cheese. I decided it was missing only one thing: ham. I asked them to add some to the frittata and they did so free of charge. It was so, so, so very good.... Faves: Veggie Frittata (w/ ham)

First St. Draught House:
A newcomer on the brunch scene. I went there w/ SarahSouth and co., and while they have some kinks to work out (instant grits?!) most of the food was pretty impressive. Also, where else can you get a pint of Guiness for breakfast? Faves: Carolina Crabcake Benedict.

...more to come! So much research to do...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Post

I finally bumped into our wonderful local blogger (and fellow A.U. alum!) Esbee on today's trip to Simply Yummy. She chastised me for not blogging at all in over a week, and said that she was thinking of posting a comment somewhere on my blog to register a formal complaint.

FINE. I'LL WRITE A NEW POST ALREADY!! Geez... give me a break...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Not So Happy-Go-Lucky: Winston-Salem and the Art-House

After hearing a passionate endorsement of the movie Happy-Go-Lucky by an NPR film reviewer about a month ago, I was determined to watch it. I ended up going to and doing a search for the nearest place where I could watch the movie. The closest place ended up being Washington, DC, a good 300+ miles away. This in turn partially prompted me to embark on what eventually became my sugar-addled DC trip.

Since then, the movie's made it to Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, but not Winston. So the moral seems to be that if you're willing to drive, say, up to 100 miles, you can generally find the movie you're looking for if you give it a couple weeks. But generally, an art-house movie is hard to find in this town. I regularly attended the North Carolina School of the Arts' Films on Fourth movies last year, which brought in some great movies. But then the series ended last December, because there wasn't enough interest and attendance to keep them going. Outside of the RiverRun Film Festival in April (mark your calendar!), this town's got nothin'.

C'mon people! If this town is supposed to be known as North Carolina's "City of the Arts," we can do better than this!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Barry: 7th Wonder of Winston-Salem

Tonight I ended up at the IHOP on the corner of Silas Creek and Peter's Creek Parkways with about 18 people sitting at one enormous table. Our waiter Barry came to take our orders, and after he was through about a dozen of them, I realized that he wasn't writing these orders down anywhere. Some of these orders included requests to hold a couple ingredients, add some others, or requests for items not actually on the menu.

At this point I turn to my friend Laura and say, "I'll bet you 5 bucks that this guy screws up at least one order."

Laura quickly takes the bet. "You haven't been here before. Barry NEVER screws up an order."

True to form, Barry got every damn order correct, right down to the subtracted and added ingredients, and I had to hand Laura the fiver. I then proclaimed that "Barry was the 7th Wonder of Winston-Salem."

Laura then asks "What are the other six?"

Eh, still working on it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving? Yes We Can!

I had a couple people over for Thanksgiving this year, marking the first time that I have ever hosted a Thanksgiving dinner ever! And they said it couldn't be done. Or shouldn't be done.

All the guests chipped in to help out, and it was amazing. As is my way, I threw pretty much every course onto the plate at once. And then I snapped a photo:
On the menu:
1. Cranberry Ginger Compote (courtesy of K.C. Recipe unknown. Delicious!)
2. Roasted Root Vegetables (courtesy of K.C. Featuring carrots, sweet potatoes, and... parsnips huh? I didn't know they still made those...)
3. Salmon steaks (courtesy of Little John*)
4. Turkey (I cooked it... And it was still edible, too!)
5. Rolls (I got $2 off the $2.99 rolls at Harris Teeter on Thanksgiving Day. Awesome...)
6. Herbed Oyster Stuffing (Recipe from Delicious! Also led to my first ever attempts at shucking oysters. Comic.)
7. Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes (recipe from Possibly too garlicky. I never thought I would say that.)
... And of course everything was thoroughly drenched in turkey gravy, as it should be.

I love Thanksgiving!
Is it just me or is Little John enjoying his slicing/dicing of the turkey a little too much?
* Sorry buddy. But when you work with Big John, you're gonna get stuck with Little John. Dems da breaks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Free Food & Drink @ Crunchytown's Mellow Mushroom

K.C. and her husband Solar joined me for a recent trip to Asheville, my favorite beautiful town. K.C. was hankering for pizza, so we went to Asheville's Mellow Mushroom.

It took a while to get a table, and then even after getting our table we hadn't received our menus or otherwise talked with a waiter for a good 15 minutes. So I eventually hailed a waiter, and a stout bald guy covered with tattoos came to help us. The waiter seemed genuinely apologetic for the delay, and had clearly taken it upon himself to make our remaining experience at the Mellow Mushroom a wonderful one. "I'm so sorry for the wait... I'll put your food order in as a rush order, and we'll it out to you as soon as possible!" In the meantime, I ordered the local Pisgah Seasonal beer, K.C. ordered a hard cider, and Solar a water.

A couple minutes later, the waiter came back with a Pisgah Pale, which I noted was not the beer I ordered. This might not have been such a big deal if I liked pale ales, but generally I don't. "Oh my gosh..." he sighed, apparently dismayed with himself, "Well, you can keep that one, and I'll bring the Seasonal right out." Soon I was stocked with two full beers (both were pretty good).

I get started on my complimentary beers and salad. With or without utensils...
The waiter then came back unannounced with a beautiful Greek salad, which he explained was complimentary for all the delays. This unexpected gesture was very nice of him, but after he left, I discovered that we had been left with a new dilemma, which I explained to K.C.:

"As I see it, we now have to make one of two choices, neither of them good. One, we can let the waiter know that he forgot to bring us utensils, which will probably make him feel really bad. Or two, we can just eat the salad without the utensils, and then ask for utensils when the main food comes out, and hope that he doesn't realize that we just ate our appetizer without utensils, which runs the risk of possibly making him feel REALLY bad."

In the end, we chose the first option, and were met with the predictable unpleasant wave of apologies... Poor guy...

New Photo

The new profile picture was taken by Blue Ridge Grass contributor K.C. on a weekend trip to Crunchytown. You have a gift, baby!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

STYLISTA betting pool

"Hannie" -- our hero(-ine)!!
Despite encouraging her readers to watch the CW show STYLISTA week after week... (...after week after week after week), SarahSouth confessed to me today that she probably would not find the show very interesting if it wasn't for the fact that one of her bestest friends in the world Johanna ("Hannie") was on the show. Shocker, I know! Her paraphrased words, not mine!

In contrast to FairweatherFan SarahSouth, who apparently will stop caring about the show the moment Hannie is eliminated, I have been thoroughly enjoying the show -- each seems to be replete with plenty of crying and catty verbal barbs. We even get occasional bonuses like a hospitalizing panic attack. But of course, there is a surefire way to make anything more interesting: senseless betting.

So although we are nearing the end, it is not too late to start a casual little STYLISTA betting pool. There are only five contestants remaining: Ashlie, DyShaun, Kate, Megan, and HANNIE(!). So here's the rules: Submit your predictions of the final ranks of the last five contestants any time between now and next Tuesday. After each week, you will get 1 point for predicting the people that will be eliminated by the end of that week. So for instance, if you think that Ashlie and DyShaun will be the eliminated in that order, but DyShaun is eliminated first followed by Ashlie the next week, you will receive zero points the first week (for failing to guess that DyShaun would be eliminated first), but two points the following week (for correctly guessing that both DyShaun and Ashlie would be eliminated by the end of that week). Etc.

To make it interesting, the winner at the end of the day will receive a paid lease for an apartment in downtown Manhattan, and a one-year clothing allowance at H&M valued at $100,000. Ties will be settled by deathmatch. Limit one vote per reader.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WFU vs. W&M -- a Tale of Two Fairweather Fans

The Wake Forest men's soccer team is ranked #1 in the nation, and so that means this year I'm a soccer fan (just as I became a new Illinois basketball fan when Illinois became ranked #1 in the nation). So on a frigid Tuesday evening, I decided to go to a playoff game with my friend Mike, who faced an interesting dilemma: The #1 Demon Deacons were facing off against William & Mary. Since Mike was an alumnus of William & Mary who now works at Wake, who would he root for? Would he pick his old school, or would he pick Wake -- OUR team, the team that paid his bills?

In the end, he took the wimpy position that he was just rooting for either team to score. As a Deac fan I informed him that his position was "still traitorious, you traitor." But mostly he just wanted the game to end, and as the score stayed locked at 0-0 and the temperature drifted toward freezing, eventually I appreciated the logic of his position. As regulation ended, we faced the prospect of spending up to another hour in the freezing cold between extra periods and penalty shots. Luckily though, Wake scored 4 minutes into the first sudden-death overtime, putting a quick end to the game. Mike and I high-fived and breathed a sigh of relief, and then parted by running back to our respective cars, turning on the engines, and blasting the heat.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

DW2's Infinite Playlist

My brother DW2 is living in Los Angeles, and I'm pumped that I will be able to see him in a couple weeks around Christmas. DW2 is positioning himself to be the next big thing in Rock N' Roll. (In particular, he intends to be the next Jimi Hendrix... he's even learned to play guitar both left- and right-handed, so that now he just has to commit to setting the occasional guitar on fire.)

To celebrate my arrival, he said he would try to play a couple songs for me at one of the open mic nights in town. I ended up sending him a CD with about 40+ songs that I thought would work pretty well in an open-mic acoustic set, ranging from the Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man" to Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life." But the one I was most excited about was to hear him try to craft a version of Joni Mitchell's "California". For some reason it struck me that with some very minor alterations of the lyrics, this would be an awesome song for a male vocalist to sing (even if it's not exactly Jimi Hendrix-esque). I'm picturing the singer giving it sort of a Greg Brown folksy treatment:
Sitting in a park in Paris, France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won't give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had
Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn't want to stay here
It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here
Oh, but California
California, I'm coming home
I'm going to see the folks I dig
I'll even kiss the Sunset Pig
California, I'm coming home
Oh California, I'm a-comin'! I'm going to see the folks I dig, and if I bump into the Sunset Pig I'll be sure to blow it a kiss.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall Foliage in Review

I walked outside today and spotted a quarter inch of snow on the car roofs and on the piles of fallen leaves. This prompted a "WTF!?" and made me wonder whether our string of Indian Summer-ish fall days were coming to a close. Indeed, a look at the 10-day forecast shows a nasty run of 50 degree highs with the occasional scattered snow showers (more WTF!?'s to go around!).

So I thought it would only be fitting to say goodbye to a wonderful fall with a couple recent pictures of the fall foliage.
A view from Crowders Mountain just outside of Charlotte, NC
Walking down a side-street in Georgetown -- just minutes away from cupcakes...

Goodbye Fall '08 -- we hardly knew ya.

Monday, November 17, 2008

That's Why They Call it a "Cupcake Transport Device"

We had a couple left over cupcakes from Cupcake Binge '08, and were having a beast of a time trying to figure out how we might be able to split the remaining cupcakes among ourselves to take home. By this time Sarah had finished drinking her chai latte, and had happened upon this brilliant idea for transporting her mint chocolate cupcake back home:

Someone else suggested that perhaps she would take her own cupcake back in her bra. To which I responded, "they're not called bra-cakes now, are they?!"

Cupcake Wars

A friendly cupcake-pusher next
to the goods at Baked & Wired
I decided to visit DC last weekend to visit friends, and discovered that I had walked right into the middle of a war -- for the last two or three months, the residents of Washington, DC has been searching high and low, near and far for the best cupcake in town.

Darcy asked if I would be interested in joining the hunt on Sunday with our friends Sarah, Michelle, and Shanley. I put on my coat, surrendered my man-card at the door, and went out a-hunting for the perfect cupcake.*

We soon found ourselves at the Georgetown Mall with a dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, half a dozen from Baked and Wired, and two from Dean & DeLuca (at total of 20) to split between the 5 of us. We started our sampling by trying to match similar cupcakes from the different vendors: the red velvets, the coconut creams, and the carrot cupcakes, and as sugar-sickness set in I eventually suggested that "we shouldn't feel obligated to eat the next 10..."

A look at the Georgetown Cupcake's cupcakes. The missing coconut cupcake is in my belly.
Our general conclusion was that Georgetown Cupcake made the best, although Baked and Wired won in the important Carrot-Cupcake category. Oh yeah -- Dean and DeLuca's cupcakes were awful. At the end, we took votes for the best overall cupcake, and this ended in a split decision between Georgetown Cupcake's chocolate ganache cupcake (middle row, far left in picture to the side), and their coconut cupcake (unpictured). The key lime cupcake (upper left corner) also pulled in a first place vote.

Finally, below we have a video of some of the exercises we did along the Potomac to work off the ridiculous amount of cupcake we had just eaten:

* Darcy attempted to convince her husband Andy to come by suggesting that they had manly cupcake varieties like "Rock-N-Roll Razorblades" at the shops, but Andy was not fooled.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Two Americas: Part 4382910

Blue America:
I ate lunch today with an African American friend of mine who got back from a trip to Chicago on Wednesday. She had bought her ticket months ago for a conference and was supposed to fly back to North Carolina on Tuesday. But when Tuesday arrived, it had became clear that win or lose, there was going to be "The Event" in Grant Park (as it was apparently called in Chi-Town). She decided that being there represented a sort of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and decided to pay an extra $100 to delay her flight a day.

For whatever reason, I was fairly (perhaps overly) confident that Obama would win for months. Not so with my friend. She didn't suspect foulplay, she just couldn't convince herself that Americans would vote for a black President. She said that it wasn't until the results rolled in on the jumbotron announcing that Obama had won Ohio and Pennsylvania that she realized that she was going to be on hand hearing Barack Obama give a victory speech that night. Then the fact that Virginia voted for Obama -- a state that only a little over 40 years ago had "separate but equal" laws -- blew her mind.

Red America:
On the night of Barack Obama's victory speech, I received a forward from a conservative I know presenting a case that Obama was a clinical narcissistic. One piece of evidence: Obama has written his own memoirs before attaining power, just like Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. The writer of this essay warned that the consequences of putting a clinical narcissist like Obama in the seat of power might be informed by looking at the examples of Stalin and Hitler.

In the process of responding to this email, I also made it clear that I was disgusted with another forward I received from him showing a picture of Michelle Obama side-by-side with a picture of a chimpanzee. Today the conservative replied to this email with another one of his own simply titled "Sigh..." which read:
Why are certain people so selectively offended?

Liberal "Sophisticates" thought the type of stuff below was Pretty Funny especially in early 2000:

Go ahead . . . google “Bush looks like monkey” and see what you get.
My response to this email? SIGH. . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blue Outpost

Latest election results from (11-5-08)
I've felt since I got here that North Carolina was on the front lines of the Red State/Blue State culture wars... sort of along the dividing line between the reliable reds of the deep south and the true blues of New England. On one hand, we have the Research Triangle which is home to some of the best universities in the country. On the other hand, you don't have to drive too far out of town to find Confederate flags waving proudly.

Well, North Carolina didn't disappoint me with my "blue outpost in the South" theory yesterday. It's amazing to think that after last night's votes were tallied, a female Democrat will be taking the Senate seat held for the last 35 years by Republicans Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole. And the state looks likely to eek into Barack Obama's column despite North Carolina never throwing their electoral votes to a Democratic Presidential candidate in the last 30 years... Amazing!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Best Thing about Being Bleeker

In no other Halloween costume that I'm aware of can you wander up to a stranger at a party, introduce yourself by saying "I fucked you!" and then watch as she gives you a hug and a free pack of orange Tic-Tacs.

Friday, October 31, 2008

First Fortune-Reading

I saw my new friend Cindy earlier today at the Krankster, who had a crystal ball by her side and a book on interpretation... apparently she will be on duty giving fortunes tonight at the DADA Community Center tonight for their Halloween festivities. I asked her if she could give me a reading and she agreed.

"What you need to do is count backwards from 20, and then ask me something you want to know from your future or past."

I did this, and then asked if she could give me some insight about who I would find myself with in my next relationship.

She asked me what colors I could see in the crystal ball. "I see some yellow, a little orange... And over here I can see some pink."

"Yellow has to do with work and business. So I would guess that you'll meet someone while you're doing something work-related. The pink indicates that there will be a lot of love and affection."

"Hmm... There are a couple conferences coming up I guess."

Then we noticed that the crystal ball was actually steaming. "What does it mean when the crystal ball is steaming?" I asked. She had no idea. I searched the internet for "steaming crystal ball" and found nothing. So we never figured that one out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot!

I located a list from my friend Michelle of the things she thought I should buy after my housewarming party:
- hot pads
- serving bowls
- baking sheet
- pizza stone
- grill utensils
- Swiffer
- chopping knives
This was all well and good, and I was working my way down the list just fine, until I realized only too late that the first item was actually "Hot Pads" and not "Hot Pants". The pictures from this misunderstanding are not shown. Instead, and as a little prelude to Halloween, I have posted a couple pictures of Bret buzzing around in B.F.F.'s fairy wings and generally looking pretty after Pumpkin Party #1 last weekend.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Carving in the West End

Yesterday I showed up at a friend's pumpkin carving party in the West End. This ended up being my second pumpkin carving party in about three days (after being to a sum total of about zero in the last... two decades or so?) and I was so tired from carving the last one that I decided to just spectate and snap this photo of everyone else's fine work.

At the earlier party, I discovered that the downside of having an extremely large pumpkin with cool warty skin is that trying to cut things into it with those little pumpkin carving tools is something like trying to cut leather with a butter knife. Luckily however, there were a bunch of kids that were willing to pick up the slack on the carving duties at Pumpkin Party #2.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trouble Brewin' at the Krankster

Krankies recently started offering $2 off their wonderful & impressive selection of Belgian beers about two or three weeks ago and apparently will continue the deal... "till the offer ends." Naturally, upon discovering this momentous event I celebrated by drinking three Chimay's (clocking in at 7 to 9% alcohol) in about an hour.

I'll just note in closing that this particular reaction was not the best idea I've ever had...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Patio Art #2: The Skull of Love

I was intrigued by Esbee's suggestion of following up my first contribution to patio art (Have a Nice Day on Dirty Concrete) with a power-wash drawing of "calaveras" (the Spanish word for "skulls"). Interesting... I could draw the bad-ass tattoo that I never gave myself on my patio! Sort of like vicarious wish fulfillment.

In any case, I drew this one yesterday:

Title: La Calavera de Amor
("The Skull of Love")
There was some intention of making this more bad-ass, but in the end I decided to draw lots of hearts around the skull, in the hopes that these happy, friendly touches would make my neighbors less scared/concerned about why I was drawing skulls on the patio.

...Epilogue/Coda: What now? I have learned some interesting techniques for drawing on concrete with water since the first sketch, and it has been an exciting journey. Unfortunately my patio now looks something like a page of doodles and scribbles created by an 8-year-old, and it is time to clean the slate. Unfortunately, I am now learning that removing patio art is harder than creating it. Next step: Learning How to Remove Patio Art!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Drinkin' with the Commonfolk

Between songs at Jenn and Andy's wedding reception in Bryson City, the bass-player from Commonfolk walked up to us and offered us a sip from his bottle of homemade moonshine. I was a little reluctant -- can't that stuff make you go blind? -- but this was the good corn stuff, and man, it was tasty. It tasted a lot like whiskey but had a nice subtle sweetness.

The next day, I was itching to get some moonshine for myself on the way out of town, but the moment was gone. I discovered only too late that you can't really get that stuff in stores, and I don't think it's legal to buy it from folks, either. If you want moonshine, you gotta have friends in the right places. I'm working some angles right now...

The Commonfolk play as Chauncey takes a hit from the bottle.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Patio Art #1

As I was washing old paint off a wicker chair with a power washer on my back patio, I discovered that I could use it to "draw" on the ground. A couple days later, I drew this:

Title: "Have a Nice Day" on Dirty Concrete

Amazing but true! --The "i" on the word "nice" was originally undotted. The dot is a final touch added by a bird a day later.

What should I do for Patio Art #2?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Coffee Search in Crunchytown

My friend C.C.B. and I had but a short time in Asheville, and our mission was simple: find iced coffee. The search started at The Cupcake Corner, where I asked the girl at the counter "What kind of iced coffee do you got?" She responded, "We got mocha java... Columbian..." And I interrupted with the really important question: "No no -- that's not what I meant at all. Ahem. Is your iced coffee cold-brewed?" (Yes, I am officially a iced coffee snob.)

Anyway, the girlwas very pleasant and pointed me to a place that sold cold-brewed iced coffee: The Green Sage Coffee House. We headed there, and yes, they advertised cold-brewed coffee on their menu. But I thought that it was a bit bitter. And C.C.B., who also cut her cold-brewed teeth on Cafe Kopi's wonderful iced coffee in Champaign agreed... it was not really The Stuff.

A shot of the Double-Decker Coffee Company taken on the way out of town. Man, this place was beautiful... I don't care what the coffee's like. If I lived in Asheville I would be at this place every sunny day.
Then I remembered a previous visit to Asheville where I had found WONDERFUL cold-brewed iced coffee. I arrived late one Saturday night with a friend to The Dripolator Coffeehouse. The place was packed and so we were forced to park next to a big garbage dumpster, which we weren't sure was a spot. When we got in, I found what I was looking for: The Dripolator served the finest iced coffee I've experienced in a coffee shop. It was absolutely terrific, and I sipped and enjoyed it in a state of pure bliss. However, when we got outside less than an hour later, we discovered that the car had been towed. Why?!? As I came to understand it from talking to a Dripolator server, it was because the owner of the Dripolator's building lived in eyeshot of the coffee shop and was a bitter, pathetic old man who had nothing better to do with his time than to look outside and call the towing company (presumably on speed-dial) when any towable infraction came around.

Ah, yes. Such good iced coffee, and ultimately such an unpleasant experience. So the next time you're in Crunchytown, you might try the Dripolator to meet your iced coffee needs. And while you're there, you might also leave some flaming poo on the landlord's doorstep. For me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wending Our Way Through Crunchytown

A couple friends and I recently drove from Winston to the Smokies to see our friend Jenn get married (congrats! -- & more on the wedding later). Since my iPod was dead, we were reduced to listening to North Carolina radio for the entire trip. Which is awful... just awful. It seems like 95% of the stations are Christian Contemporary, or Pop-Country. Blech.

Luckily, a small oasis of music goodness was found when we passed through Asheville. We found a station there that was playing the Bluegrass Music Awards, and heard a couple gems. The one that really stuck out was Del McCoury's "Moneyland." I just thought it was awesome (here's a link).

We had enough time to make a lightning tour of Asheville before continuing to the wedding. We bought some cupcakes at "The Cupcake Corner" (a store which pretty much just sells... um... I can't remember), and then I got to the all-important task of seeing if I could locate some cold-brewed iced coffee for the road. We were on a tight schedule, so I wasn't quite able to find what I was looking for (more on this later also), but in half an hour we passed enough strange-looking people to convince me that Asheville truly was the great Granola Paradise I had heard so much about. Yes my friends: The legend is real.

In turn, this inspired me to write my own lyrics to be sung to the tune of "Moneyland."

Now it seems crunchy to me
When the people you see
Are reakin' of patchouli
As you wend your way through town

If you score some pot
Then you got a shot
To make more friends than not

If you pass that stuff around

You can go hikin' the Blue Ridge
Or catch a show at the Orange Peel

Spend some time at Malaprop's Books

Or find yourself a vegan meal

It's a crunchy nirvana
Stocked with marijuana

And its home to head shops

And white boys with dreadlocks

Its Crunchytown

Oh it might seem phony

'Til you're drunk and stoney

Its Crunchytown

Aaawooooooh, crunchy crunchy crunchy crunchy crunchy
Oooooh, hippie hippie hippie hippie hippie

Woooooooh, crunchy crunchy crunchy crunchy crunchy

Your clothes are made of hemp and you're chompin' on tempeh in Crunchytown

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Kingergarten Teaching in Korea

My sister Doodles sent me a little how-to guide on teaching kindergarten kids from her current station in Korea [click to enlarge]. I especially like the implication in the last panel that she is thinking wistfully about those golden days of corporal punishment. What have those kids done to you, Doodles?!?!

And also: "Hmm... " you ask. "What is a post on teaching Korean kindergarteners doing on a blog about living in the South," you ask? Well, rest assured, she is living in South Korea. (I would double-underline the word "South" if I knew how, for extra emphasis.) So count it!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Thai Sawatdee Lives!

I talked to SarahSouth a week or two ago where she threw down this terrible piece of news: Thai Sawatdee -- the take-out Thai place in the Cloverdale Harris Teeter -- was closed! Gone! I was devastated.

But I soon discovered that the usually reliable SarahSouth had provided me with some unreliable info. Thai Sawatee was still there, still serving some of the best Thai food in town for the lowest prices around. In fact, it was never gone. Perhaps she was telling vicious lies. Perhaps she was delusional after a sugar high created by eating 12 donuts for $1.99, available just a few paces away from the take-out place in Harris Teeter's produce section. I know she drinks a lot of wine, so perhaps she was drunk. I don't know. But it is not important: I just wanted to get back to my Thai Sawatdee.

My friends Liz and Meghan were visiting from out of town, and and so we celebrated this by ordering amazing amounts of Thai food to bring back to my back porch. Afterwards, we erected a tower from the leftovers. I'll work through each level:

After lunch, Liz looks affectionately at our tribute to Thai food.
Level 1: Red Curry. Meghan ordered this, and it was very good. I didn't get the full experience because Meghan picked out all the pieces of eggplant for herself before I could try a single one. She said that these bits were the best of all, and that she was not interested in sharing.

Level 2: Green Curry. I ordered this, and specified that I wanted it at Spice Level 3 (is there a more elegant way to write this? Dunno...). The one complaint I have with Thai Sawatdee is that their food is usually underspiced by default, probably because of the local palette. Of course, they will make it as spicy as you like if you ask, but I have a tendency to forget this little detail.

Level 3: Tom Kha Soup. We all split two containers of this soup, made with coconut milk, mushrooms, tomatoes, and lemongrass. As you can see, almost all of it was gone at the end of the meal.

Level 4: Spicy Noodles. OK, you can't see in the box, but what's in there was delicious. Liz picked this one out per my suggestion... I order this entree all the time. The amount of food they give you with this is ridiculous (the box starts filled to the brim)!

Levels 5 and 6: Rice. The foundation of the Thai meal, and now the finishing touch on my Tasty Thai Tower.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

This just in...

I was pleased to discover today that my last entry on tacos can now be found on the very first page of results from a "taco de ojo" Google search. As you can see from the photograph, my link is about the 8th entry down or so, just a couple entries down from the scantily-clad, occasionally pornographic pictures that come up from the "taco de ojo" image results.

This is big time, folks! I am so pleased... I feel like the prettiest girl at the dance!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why... So... Serious?

Charlotte (the girl, not the city) recently showed me some pictures she took from her photo session with the bacteria "B. Cereus". I especially liked this one, which shows the bacteria as a tragic, Pac-Man type figure, world-weary from running away from his ghosts:

Charlotte writes about the picture: "The stain is indian blue. It is a negative stain, meaning that it stains the actual glass slide, leaving the bacteria unstained. It is viewed in a compound microscope in oil immersion under 1000x total magnification. I took the picture with my digital camera through the microscope's eyepiece; that's why it is sort of blurry. "

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Krisp to the Kreme

Holy shit, my friends. After 7pm at the Cloverdale Harris Teeter, something un-fucking-believable happens. Look at that sweet-ass sign: Twelve Krispy Kreme donuts for $1.99!

Harris Teeter just blew D.W.'s fucking mind.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Return to Chi-Town

Rich and I made it back to Chicago yesterday to catch our friends Evan and Miranda's wedding reception. While I've been covering the Winston-Salem beat, Rich has been an hour down the road in Charlotte. Rich's experience in the South has been mixed. A couple days ago, I got an email from Rich where he said that he was "stuck at work because there's no gas in Charlotte, apparently, and I can't get home because my tank is empty." I think Rich spent that night sleeping at work. So... he had kind of a rough week. As we landed in Chicago, Rich felt like he was coming home.

Since we made it to town pretty early, we had about half a day to kill before festivities started. We started by getting lunch at the Lao Sze Chuan restaurant in Chinatown. We were afraid that we had ordered too much spicy food, and when the food arrived, it appeared our worst fears were confirmed. The "Chef's Special Dry Chili String Bean" that we ordered is below:

Luckily, by picking around the peppers the dish was not fatally hot. When we were through with it, there were about 30 uneaten red peppers left on the plate. I offered Rich 20 bucks to down the rest of it, but he declined, reminding me that he wasn't a grad student any more, and therefore didn't need to do stupid stunts for a quick buck anymore, either. So I tried a different tact:
Me: "If you do, it'll make for a good story."

Rich: "Really. And what story would that be."

Me: "The one where you earn your 20 bucks, but then end up stuck in the bathroom for three hours at Evan's wedding."

Rich: "That sounds more like a good story for you than for me."
...So to make a long story short, it didn't happen, and I am now reduced to writing a story of a story. Or something like that.

We next went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, where we saw a very interesting exhibit by Jeff Koons, and then made it to the wedding reception. The location was amazing: the "Library" bar on the 40th floor of the 190 South LaSalle building downtown. But more than that, it was just great to see our old friends again.

View from the party near sunset. Batman can sometimes be spotted atop the building to the left.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Sunflower 'Do

My new roommate is a hairstylist, and so far we have been getting along swimmingly. So well, in fact, that he suggested that perhaps I could stop in and get a new haircut -- on the house, gratis -- sometime in the next couple days. I imagine that I will take him up on this, but I did have to pause for a second... was he trying to say that I need a haircut? I dunno.

All this talk of haircuts reminded me of a picture that I received several years ago from my friend Serpico. As it so happens, Serpico and I collaborated on bringing a previously unknown hairstyle into existence, which I called "the Sunflower." Basically, the idea was to take the Mohawk, and turn it sideways so that you had a strip of hair running across the top of your head. Then, the strip of hair would continue down the sideburns, under the chin, until finally you have completed the full 360 and your face was in the middle of something that looked like... a sunflower!

Serpico was very interested in this idea. After we discussed what this would look like, he decided to take a poll to determine whether he should end up getting the haircut or not. Since our friends knew Serpico well enough to knnow that he would go through with the haircut if we voted for it, people took their votes very seriously. Eventually the vote came out an even 12 in favor, 12 against. (I can't remember how I voted... probably for it. Maybe I abstained.)

To break the tie, Serpico determined that we should enlist the opinion of Lawrence Ferlinghetti -- founder of the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. We attempted to get in touch with Mr. Ferlinghetti several times without success, and when the matter came to a rest, Serpico ended up not getting the haircut.

Soon afterward, Serpico and I graduated from college and headed our separate directions. And that seemed like the end of the story. However, about a year later I ended up getting this picture emailed to me:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bad Cop, Worse Cop

Carrying home our quarry after
another garage sale expedition.
As a new homeowner, I have been faced with a challenge. How do I fill up the house with stuff? So I've responded by getting to it in the only way I know how: Get my mom in to town. My mom is a certified Dumpster Diver (there are pictures) and is recognized far and wide as the Queen of Garage Sales. Surely she will know what to do.

My mom did not disappoint. On her first walkthrough of the house, she went through every room with a measuring tape and was throwing out suggestions like gunfire: "You should add some shelves here -- add a long pillow to the window-sill -- find a longer table for the dining room -- this room would look good with a nice taupe rug -- maybe we could find a Chaise sofa for this room? --" ...and so on. Before we ever left the house, she had measured out the sizes for each ideal object.

Our search began in earnest yesterday, as we woke up early to hit the Winston-Salem garage sale circuit. After we found something we wanted, we would initiate our patented "bad cop, worse cop" routine. My mom would make an insulting offer, and then the sellor would make a counter-offer, and then my mom would look to me, where I would be pulling off my best "I don't know if I even want this piece of crap anyway" look, at which point the sellor would come down to about my mom's price. Here are a couple near-verbatim conversations:
Mom: "Would you take $250 for the armoire?" [which showed a sticker price of 395]

Sellor: "The wood alone is worth the asking price!"

Mom: (Looks at me.)

Me: (Face says "uggh, what an ugly piece of trash.")

Sellor: "Okay, how about $265?"

Mom: "How about $260?"

Sellor: "Fine!"
This was the typical story for big-sticker items, but my mom's haggling was unflagging. If something cost 50 cents, she would ask for 25. Here was another conversation:
Mom: "Would you take 50 cents for the coat hooks?" [A set of three which was offered for a buck.]

Sellor: "Surely you have a dollar."

Mom: (Looks at me.)

Me: (Face says "uggh, these hooks disgust me.")

Sellor: "I think we could do fifty cents."

Me: (Face says "This is 50 cents that could be better spent on used toilet paper")

Sellor: "Just take them for free if you like!"
In the end, we still paid the woman 50 cents anyway. With our bargaining powers combined, it just isn't even fair..

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Adventures of Johnny Coffee-Bean

Photo by Andrew Scrivani
of The New York Times
I've had iced coffee several different ways, and most are unexceptional... usually they are made by just chilling coffee that you've already made from a drip coffee machine or a french press. And this is pretty vile until you add large amounts of sugar and half-and-half to cut the coffee.

However, a couple years ago, I discovered cold-brewed iced coffee at Cafe Kopi in Champaign, IL. Making cold-brewed iced coffee is simpler than you would think: you simply add lukewarm water to coffee grounds and let it all sit in a container for about 8 hours (see the linked easiest recipe in the world ever)*. By never using hot water to extract the flavor from the beans, the resulting coffee is amazingly smooth, not bitter, and surprisingly sweet. Indeed, I almost always prepare it by just adding water and ice and drinking it black.

So after years of drinking this concoction in Champaign, I was very disappointed to find that none of the coffee places in town actually serve their iced coffee the cold-brewed way. As the self-appointed Johnny Coffee-Bean -- spreading the good news of the cold brew method -- I have traveled far and wide through this town with a Nalgene of my iced coffee, and sharing it to whoever I can without solicitation. Apparently my efforts are beginning to show dividends. Mitchell, one of the managers of Krankies, has recently been sighted drinking cold-brewed iced coffee around the store, and word on the streets is that cold-brewed iced coffee should soon be on the menu. So I recommend that the next time you head to Krankies (or indeed, any coffee shop), you ask "do you have cold-brewed iced coffee?" If they say no, throw on your best dejected hangdog look. But if they say yes, enjoy!

*Alternatively you can by a "Toddy" iced coffee maker. This is a huge waste of time and money. Seriously.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Searching for my Taco De Ojo

A couple fine tacos from
La Perlita on Waughtown Road.
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who wanted me to explain the appeal of the taco. Since she was a vegetarian, she figured she could join me on a leg of my taco quest and eat a reduced taco of lettuce, cheese and sour cream. Not so! I explained. No, the traditional Mexican taco never comes with lettuce, sour cream, or even cheese. Instead, the taco is made with a lightly oiled corn tortilla, which is then filled with a type of meat, diced onions, cilantro, and then accompanied with lime wedges and hot sauces to use to taste. "So I would be reduced to eating onions and cilantro on a corn tortilla?" she asked. "...With lime," I corrected.

It may not sound like much, but what makes the taco great is the tasty meats that you can put in these things. The standby is the taco al pastor (taco with barbecued pork), which are served at any taqueria and are almost always excellent. But I usually also try a place's taco de lengua (tongue taco). These are usually terrific, with the beef tongue tasting like very tender cuts of steak, although sometimes the tongue is cut in such a way that you can taste the tastebuds, which I'm not really so down with. It doesn't seem right to be eating a food that might be tasting you back.

Of course, I am adventuring to find places that serve other exciting taco meats. At one place a couple weeks ago I tasted my first taco de cabeza (head taco), which is made with cuts of muscles from a cow's head. Ultimately better than it sounds. What I would really like to find is a place that serves the elusive taco de ojo (eye taco). From what I understand, these are at least served in Los Angeles somewhere. Interesting fact: the phrase "taco de ojo" is basically used in Spanish the way we use "eye candy" and will return some very interesting results if you do a Google search.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sometimes a shirt is just a shirt

An idea for a t-shirt I came up with a couple days ago (the drawing is by Ralph Steadman):

After mocking this up, I discovered that apparently, I am not the first person to come up with this idea (see especially the "first" link), but I think my execution is better.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Roommate Search is On...

I've been toying with the idea of getting a roommate for the new place for some time. I discussed this idea shortly after moving into the house with fellow Winston-Salem blogger SarahSouth, who suggested that maybe I shouldn't be so eager to get a roommate, because often roommates are terrible people that suck the joy out of life. But then she thought about it some more and asked "how much would they be paying for rent?" and I said the going rate I was finding from Craigslist indicated that I might be able to get about $450 a month. Wheels turned, and soon the approximately $5000 a year of additional income snapped into her mind, and she asked "So... what are you waiting for?"

And it looks like soon, this will all be a go. A couple days ago, I posted an ad for a roommate on Craigslist, and ended up getting a number of responses. Auditions for the part of "DW's Roommate" will thus begin next week.

A Finalist in DW's Roommate
Search. Interesting guy!
I imagine little alarms are going off in some people's heads about Craigslist as a place for finding a roommate. And I have had my reservations. So how has this worked? In the end, the people I received responses from have ended up being both more and less crazy than I expected. This has been determined through Google-stalking. On the less crazy side, a couple candidates appear to be up-standing young professionals working in various capacities at my college. On the more crazy side, I had one person email me whose only match I was able to make from Google was to find his name on the list of people wanted for arrest by the Winston-Salem Police. Interesting...

In any case, the nice thing about the search is that you don't actually have to accept all the crazies that might have contacted you to be your roommate. As a person over-educated in the dark arts of studying people to peer deep into their souls and discover their true nature, I am hoping that my screening skills will be good enough to weed out the crazies. On the other hand, if these efforts and my Google-stalking efforts fail, and I do end up living with a wanted criminal, maybe they're offering some sort of bounty for turning these people in. And that might be another couple hundred bucks right there! Cha-ching!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Winston-Salem's Contribution to the Olympics

I'm glad that the Cat's Corner Cafe in Winston-Salem is doing its part to help our boy in Beijing:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

King of Kong: Just trust me

For weeks, I asked some friends to join me for a viewing of a movie called "The King of Kong." MJ for one asked me to describe it, and I told her it was a documentary about guys that play Donkey Kong a lot. Uh... you're not selling me on this one, she said. Just trust me, I said.

OK, so my sell wasn't very good. (My food sells aren't so good either, it appears... Aaron states: "Your food posts turn my stomach.") But in any case, I somehow conned a couple people to join me in watching this thing, and they ended up loving it. So there, you jerks. I know what I'm talking about. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll definitely mock. I'll just point you to the theatrical trailer and ask you all to do the same thing: just trust me on this one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another good reason to move to the South

Because it is thousands of miles away from Canada, where shit like this happens:

Riding buses may be for some, and may be good for the environment blah blah blah, but I will stick to driving my car around for now thank you very much.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great Feats from the Summer Olympic Challenge

While synchronized swimming and BMX motocross somehow are somehow considered "Olympic sports", I've been taking part in the local multi-sport Summer Olympic Challenge this summer, which has far more demanding physical activities.

I mean, synchronized swimming? Let's get serious.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

You make me sick, Winston-Salem Journal

I have nothing but contempt
for this award.
I bought the Winston-Salem Journal today, mostly hoping to find coupons and ideas to help with filling up my nifty new home. And inside, they had a special section called "Reader's Choice 2008" where they detailed some of the best things you could find in Winston-Salem for various categories. I'll provide some of the conclusions below as provided by the W-S Journal (followed by my commentary in parentheses).

"Best Place to Take a Date: Bambino Brothers Pizzeria and Sports Bar"

(Hmm. A sports bar. Okay... I'll just have to take their word that Bambino's is a good place for a romantic evening, I guess.)

(For the record, Bambino's also won the Reader's Choice awards for Best Place to Take the Kids, Best Pizza, and Best Italian. As a friend noted, if the Bambino's experience goes really well, then 9 months later you can take your new little bundle of joy to the same place.)


"Best Place for a Late-Night Snack: Taco Bell
...Winston-Salem agrees that it's the best place for a late-night snack of burritos, chalupas, tacos, nachos or the new spicy Queso CrunchWrap."

(Uh... Taco Bell. OK. Come on... surely there are better late night snack options. I hope.)


"Best Coffee House: Starbucks

...Even if you are not a coffee drinker, you'll find something you like at Starbucks."

(Starbucks? Starbucks! STARBUCKS?!??! Krankies didn't even make it in the top three?! God, I want to punch the Winston-Salem Journal in the face so badly right now.)


"Best Hamburgers: McDonald's
...Using only 100 percent pure beef, the hand-seasoning on the grill with a mixture of salt and pepper, rest assured you're getting the best burger, regardless of the McDonald's location you're visiting."

(Oh my god, I'm driving over to the Winston-Salem Journal office right now... I swear: There will be blood...)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Way of the Dodo

For a really really really brief time, I had a comic strip that I drew for the college newspaper that I called "Way of the Dodo"... I hadn't seen the strips for a long time, but found them as I was transferring files off my old computer. I did 5 strips total, and stopped because each 4-panel strip took me several hours to make. Those people that can do this kind of thing in 15-minutes make me sick (this means you, Doodles...).

Home Sweet Home

Just moved into my new place yesterday, and while everything is still in complete disarray, I've already discovered a couple things that are high on my list of favorite things about the house:
  • Cooking on the stove with gas burners. (Incidentally, this may also be the most likely thing to burn the house down.)
  • Filling the claw-foot bathtub with cold water for a soak after moving all day.
  • Looking out at the back patio when its raining, and pretending that I'm living somewhere in Europe (I don't know if this really makes sense, but it is a pleasant daydream nonetheless).
  • Getting hit with the smell of fresh rosemary as I walk down the steps to the house.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hazy Days

One of the more surprising discoveries of a hiking venture around Boone about a week ago was that the Blue Ridge Mountains really are blue. (The new banner I put on the blog is a picture I took out there, colors unchanged.)

It didn't take me long to figure out why: the South is so damn humid, that's why. By the end of the hike, and on a not-particularly-hot day, it looked like I had taken a jump into a swimming hole (I had not... I wish I could've). At the end I was able to wring out about 1/2 a cup of sweat from my shirt alone. Here's more information about it from the Frequently Asked Questions about the Blue Ridge Parkway on the National Park Services page:
Why is the Blue Ridge "blue"? According to "A Naturalist's Blue Ridge Parkway" by David Catlin, "it can be legitimately claimed that trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, for hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere by the forest contribute to the characteristic haze on these mountains and to their distinctive color." The entire Appalachian Chain is extraordinarily diverse and rich in its vegetation, so there is perhaps more "blue" to the Blue Ridge and more "smoky" to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Come for the Fried Peanuts, Stay for the Boiled

On the way out to hike some trails at South Mountain earlier today, Erik and I passed a place that sold fried peanuts... I'd never heard of such a thing before, so we vowed to stop and pick some up after the hike.

The fried peanuts weren't the greatest thing in the world (they actually tasted better if you ate the shells, if you can believe it), but when we arrived we discovered they had another special Southern treat: boiled peanuts. I bought one bag of fried peanuts and another bag of boiled, and while the fried peanuts are going to be around for awhile, those boiled peanuts were gone in minutes flat. I love those things...

My eagle-eye spots a sign advertising "fried peanuts" from the road... can you catch it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

While I was Eating Focaccia and Drinking Iced Americanos...

...Apparently the world was falling down around me. I drove home from the coffee shop and found that half the traffic lights I passed were black and trees were snapped like pretty toothpicks.

A couple shots of the carnage, just before sunset:

Ugly Man Symbol with Magical Powers

A couple days ago I was biking to school and noticed a new symbol lining the side of Reynolda Road. I have traveled the streets of Winston-Salem far and wide but had not seen this strange, vaguely menacing-looking symbol. I can only assume that it is an ancient hieroglyph of some sort. Each looked like a man wearing glasses, or perhaps with two black eyes, with a horribly crooked nose and small pursed lips.

I have not figured out the meaning of these odd symbols that now line Reynolda, but they nonetheless appear to be imbued with special powers. Immediately after seeing these new symbols, I have felt new confidence. Instead of zig-zagging through the neighborhood streets of Winston to get to work, I now bike along these symbols on the busier Reynolda Road, more secure that I will not end up a crush of limbs wrapped around someone's bumper. In turn, I've shaved 5 minutes from my commute. Magic...

Strange hieroglyph sighted on Reynolda Road.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Yer jest over there smilin'... what d'you got goin' on?"

After getting close to finishing up my 6+ hour session of touching up my latest 60+ page paper at the coffee shop, some guy looked at me from the next table over and said that, just like that.

I'm starting to love the South.

Triad Taco Quest: Part 1

Time passes, but the quest for tacos remains. I fantasize about that time where I will find myself on a beach along the Pacific coast of Mexico, washing down endless tacos al pastor with cervezas and limes.

Until that time, I am in Winston-Salem, and will have to make due with what I can get.

My taco lust hit a new high this week, and I quickly got to work trying to quell the storm. On Tuesday, I headed to Las Estrellas near the corner of Silas Creek and Peters Creek Parkway to throw down some fish tacos. Not quite Rubio's, I'm afraid. It is always a bad sign when they fail to provide you wedges of lime with your fish tacos. Call me picky.

The next day I took matters into my own hand and hosted a taco party. Taco parties are nice, because by separating all the ingredients and letting guests build the tacos themselves, it becomes easy to satisfy everyone. Vegans can do refried beans, lettuce, and grilled vegetables, or whatever it is that they do, and, of course that leaves double beef portions for me!

But I am not ready to give up on the Triad yet. Word on the streets is that mighty fine tacos can be found for those willing to make the long drive to the Hispanic areas of Waughtown Street. I also received a tip for a hole-in-the-wall taco joint in Greensboro. And as any taco connoisseur knows, a hole-in-a-wall is a very promising place to locate a tasty taco.

More later...