Aug 292019

Dudes and dolls, I’m keeping a few more balls in the air than usual right now, and alas, I’m going to have to let the one drop for a few days.

Thank you for reading We’ll be back after these important messages.

Hey, want something to read in the meantime? Guess what? There are 3,561 posts at Here are five random ones:

You can also check out all of my reviews here.

 Posted by at 8:28 am
Aug 262019

I will be presenting on human trafficking awareness at the Eleanor E. Murphy branch of the Huntsville/Madison County Public Library at 7910 Charlotte Drive on Thursday, September 5, at 6 pm, with question-and-answer period to follow.

Learn what human trafficking is, how to spot it in our area, what to do when you do, and how to prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming victims.

Click here to join the Facebook event. Hope to see you there!

 Posted by at 9:34 am
Aug 222019
  • College football is beginning a little differently this year. There are two games Saturday night to kick the season off (including Miami vs. Florida, which ought to be pretty good). Then, things begin the Thursday before Labor Day, as we’ve had it for some time now. I’ll watch Saturday night (well, around IndyCar at Gateway), but I think I prefer the Labor Day weekend start.
  • (And it won’t be football weather, but at least it’ll be 70-something. I’m thinking chili anyway.)
  • Lea and I are watching The Blacklist now and enjoying it more than not, but we get frustrated with the female lead’s intermittent and apparently random incompetence. Solo, I stuck with most of Zoo‘s first season, but may abandon it. There is too much good stuff out there to keep yourself talked into something.
  • Apparently the Popeye’s chicken sandwich has received a lot of social media love and emerged as an ostensible challenger to the Chick-fil-A sandwich. I have no doubt it’s tasty, but we’re talking chicken sandwich vs. cultural juggernaut here. The Chick-fil-A experience will have to decline significantly for its top-of-the-heap position to be threatened. Don’t see that happening.
  • Journeyman comic Kip Addotta has died at 75. I remember him most as the tag-along guy Bob Odenkirk’s Stevie Grant had to book to get Jerry Seinfeld at Larry Sanders‘ roast, and then Seinfeld bailing. RIP.
  • The XFL team names and logos have been announced, which Saintseester put on my radar. Not so sure about that Tampa Bay Vipers logo, which Saintseester also put on my radar.
  • Nathan got in trouble last night, heard from me about it, and is enduring a brief privilege restriction. Ruined my whole damned night. He didn’t believe me when I told him that punishing him was hard on me. I didn’t believe my parents either.
 Posted by at 11:59 am
Aug 202019

After successful regional testing, Burger King’s vegetarian Impossible Whopper, made with Impossible Foods‘ proprietary soy-based “meat,” is available nationwide.

Apart from a perhaps-bimonthly Chick-fil-A, I don’t eat fast food anymore. I will still have a very occasional premium fast casual burger—your Five Guys, your Wayback, your Smashburger—but I haven’t eaten mass-market fast food burgers for years. The Whopper was one of the last ones I ate regularly, so I still have a solid context from which to judge this product. I had my first Impossible Whopper this afternoon on Jordan Lane.

The initial presentation is that of a regular Whopper.

Hello, Impossible Whopper. (Click for larger.)

The Impossible patty’s uniform roundness and grill marks only on one side are perhaps slightly unsettling (but how often are you going to take your burger apart?).

A good look at the Impossible patty. (Click for larger.)

Have a bite.

You taste good, Impossible Whopper. (Click for larger.)

Guess what? It tastes like a Whopper. Apart from the slight visual differences noted above, I found the experience indistinguishable from eating a regular Whopper made with beef. I even pinched a bit of the patty off and tried it solo. The gustatory simulation is pretty remarkable, really.

So that’s the cool part.

(Updated with one more cool part, for those to whom this applies: I note no gastrointestinal anomalies 20 hours later. Some soy “meat” preparations have been less than predictable in this regard for me.)

Now, the questionable part:  for a great many of us, I’m not sure there’s much point to this product.

To be sure, there is appeal for a certain sort of vegetarian. If you’re a vegetarian for moral or ethical reasons and you’ve also somehow kept a fast food burger craving alive—and I’m not sure that’s much of a Venn diagram—then this is for you.

(And let me add a particular word of caution to people who keep vegetarian for religious reasons or because of allergies: Burger King will prepare an Impossible Whopper without using the common grill, but you must ask them to do so. If you just order one without special instructions, then the patty may contact beef on the grill.)

Beyond those folks, however, it’s hard for me to see the value here. The Impossible Whopper is $1 more than the regular Whopper. It has 630 calories—a whopping (sorry) 30 fewer than the beef counterpart. (To be fair, there are 0 trans fats here and 1.5g in the regular Whopper, 10g cholesterol vs. 90g in the regular, and 4g fiber here vs. 2g in the regular.)

Still, we’re talking about slight needle movement on what absolutely remains a fast food burger. So how is anyone but a die-hard vegetarian who still craves beef a regular consumer of this product?

And how many of those people are there?

Now I didn’t look extensively into exactly how this patty is produced, but there may be a little save-the-earth benefit here. Raising livestock is resource-intensive, and though there are various views, just about everyone agrees that we can’t sustain our current practices indefinitely. Generally speaking, plants are easier.

(I think the ultimate answer there will be cultured meat, actually. Can a cultured meat Whopper be reasonably expected in the near future? I think it can.)

For now, I’ll give the Impossible Whopper:

5/10 as a fast food item
9/10 as a simulacrum

 Posted by at 6:04 pm
Aug 192019

I find few things as gustatorily magical as fresh guacamole. This is the make-it-at-your-table guacamole at Cantina Laredo.

Cantina Laredo’s Top Shelf Guacamole, with charred jalapeno, red onion, and fresh lime, among other things. Marvelous! (Click for larger.)

I think it is the best in town, which triggers a little hey-man-that’s-a-chain guilt in me (though in my defense, it’s a small chain). I think Las Trojas is close. Haven’t been to Chuy’s yet, though I understand their guac game is strong too.

Where is your favorite guacamole in northern Alabama?

 Posted by at 6:10 pm
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