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  • May 25, 2017

    Fast Food Blues…

    BREAKFAST ON THE ROAD  / Photo by Carmela Cunningham

    We don’t eat fast food very often. At a certain age, you grow weary of hamburgers, no matter how much the purveyors of such fare attempt to make them special. But if you’re on the road with a spoiled little Yorkie in the front seat, you have to make concessions.

    We just finished a three-week drive to Florida and back, and we learned that these days, even eating at McDonald’s, the king of the fast food chains, can be a daunting experience. In an effort to please everybody, the McDonald folks have put out some sadly, unappealing items. The Big Mac is still around, and it doesn’t seem to have changed that much since it was introduced.

    I drove across country one time years ago with the teen-age daughters of a dear friend. The girls took a special delight in repeatedly singing the Big Mac jingle: “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.” Then just to show off, they would sing it backward. “Bun, seed, sesame, a, on, onions, pickles, cheese, lettuce, sauce, special, patties, beef, all, two.”

    The experience soured me on Big Macs forever – although I was never was a big fan before the trip. The good thing about McDonald’s – at least when founder Ray Kroc was alive and personally dropping in to enforce the Mickey-D’s standards on the franchisees – was the bathrooms. Back in the day, they were always clean. Now, not so much.

    There are a couple of saving graces for the chain.

    For breakfast, I usually order a McGriddle – which is actually a kind of syrup-soaked blueberry pancake sandwich featuring egg, cheese, and bacon. When my wife attempts to tell me how many calories it is, I just stick my fingers in my ears and go LA-LA-LA-LA-LA until her lips stop moving.

    I also must admit that I’m a sucker for the McRib sandwich – although it’s only offered infrequently. The soft-serve ice cream is not bad, and they even have a “Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait” that is both low in calories and refreshing. Some people rave about McDonald’s fries – but you’ve got to eat them when they’re still hot – and about the Mickey-D’s coffee, which now has a label warning you that it’s hot in case you want to hold it between your legs while you drive.

    Jack in the Box offers croissant breakfast sandwiches, which I think is just crazy. How do you eat a sandwich made out of a croissant without it falling apart? The chain now has sriracha curly fries, which do sound very good. Jack also offers monster tacos and bacon-ranch monster tacos which I wouldn’t mind giving a try, but my wife exercises her veto power when it comes to Jack in the Box – some nonsense she read someplace about e-coli. I frankly don’t care about that. As far as I’m concerned, Jack lost my business years ago when they discontinued the Moby Jack, a fish sandwich which was actually very good, and Frings, a combination of French fries and onion rings.

    I also like Sonic Burger, and since they have curb service, it’s particularly easy with the pup in the car. It reminds me of the 50s and 60s, when a car hop would bring you your order and hang a metal tray on your car window. The only problem is Sonic’s menu is lacking in any healthy choices and the chain’s best items are shakes and ice cream products. I love my wife, but the sound of her teeth grinding in the background as I slurp up a malted, does diminish the pleasure.

    I’m not complaining. My wife is the only reason that I am still alive and pumping air. If it wasn’t for her efforts to keep me healthy, I would not be around to be tempted by milk shakes and ice cream concoctions.

    When it comes to fast food, on the other hand, my wife is a Del Taco junkie. I like Del Taco too, but there’s something about the chain that continues to bug me. What is the difference between the Del Scorcho hot sauce and the Del Inferno hot sauce? They both sound really hot, but which is the hottest? I’m not the only one asking this question. A Yelp web page titled Del Scorcho vs. Del Inferno has an entire discussion about the issue.

    Jack K of Glendale says he prefers the vinegary taste of Del Scorcho which contains jalapenos. Del Inferno relies on Ancho chili peppers for its heat, which gives it an earthy kind of flavor, he says. However, either one of them “kicks Taco Bell’s fire sauce’s ass.”

    Anz L. of Long Beach agrees. Del Inferno is “too sweet and tangy,” he says. “I prefer the peppery bombness of Del Scorcho. He also concurs that Taco Bell’s Fire Sauce “sucks.”

    Which is all very interesting, but it still doesn’t answer my question – which one is the hottest?

    I’m also still trying to figure out the drink sizes at Starbucks. A short is eight ounces; a tall is 12 ounces, a grande is 16 ounces, a venti hot drink is 20 ounces, a venti cold drink is 24 ounces, and a trenta cold drink is 31 ounces. If they weren’t trying to be so fancy, they would just say a small, a little bigger, a medium, a large, and a super large. Let’s face it, there’s nothing fancy about Starbucks. And the company’s coffee isn’t really all that good. Peet’s is much better and far less confusing.

    Not that any of this matters anymore. We are back home and no longer having to choose between fast food outlets. We make our own coffee, we cook our own burgers (turkey), we get to have vegetables with our meals and sometimes even mashed potatoes.

    My wife is a good cook and she watches out for me. But sometimes, when I get a far-away gaze, and she asks me what I’m thinking, I always say something cool like, “just thinking about how lucky I am to have you in my life, sweetie.”

    It’s true. I am lucky to have her in my life. And what purpose would it serve to say I was just fantasizing about having a Peanutty Swirl with Snickers Bars Master Blast at Sonic.

    No purpose at all.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • May 23, 2017

    LYRICS, POETRY AND PROSE IX

    A place to share some words of beauty, inspiration, and fun. This week we are offering songs about Texas. Why Texas? Didn’t we just have some song about Texas a couple of weeks ago? What can I say? We like Texas. Click on the title of the song to get a video.

    By the way, last week we put the wrong link on the Dixie Chick’s song about getting rid of a wife-beating scoundrel named Earl. Here is that missing link: Goodbye Earl

    Amarillo by mornin’ Up from San Antone
    Everything that I got, Is just what I got on
    When the sun is high in that Texas sky, I’ll be bucking at the county fair
    Amarillo by mornin’ Amarillo, I’ll be there

    Amarillo by Morning Singer: George Strait, Writers: Paul Alexander Fraser and Terry Stafford

    When we dance together my world’s in disguise
    It’s a fairyland tale that come true
    And when you look at me with those stars in your eyes
    I could waltz across Texas with you

    Waltz across Texas Singer: Ernest Tubb, Writer Talmadge Tubb

    Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys
    This successful life we’re livin’ got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
    Between Hank Williams pain songs and Newbury’s train songs and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
    Out in Luckenbach, Texas, Ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain

    Luckenbach, Texas Singer: Waylon Jennings, Writers: Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons

  • May 19, 2017

    Chick Street Fight at 70 MPH

    NAVIGATING THE HUSBAND-WIFE DIVIDE

    These are confusing times for people who grew up in the olden days – meaning way back in the 20th century. Back then, when you went on a road trip, you got a road map printed on paper and all folded in upon itself. You would carefully unfold your map, decipher the lines and legends to plot your course, and try unsuccessfully to fold it back into its original state.

    That all changed when satellite navigation devices were developed – electronic gizmos that could instantly show you where you were in the world to within just a few feet and tell you what you needed to do to arrive at your intended destination. Now you would think that would be a giant leap forward, and it was, but as with all such advances, there were unintended consequences.

    For one thing, many married men end up driving long distances with their wives, and for some reason, most of the voices for the navigation devices are women. Being a relic from the previous century, I can’t really speak for married gay men or married lesbian women, but I do know this: Married women don’t like being interrupted ever, and they especially don’t like other women telling their husbands what to do.

    A man might be driving down the interstate at 70 miles-per-hour, while his wife is talking about what color to paint the bathroom, a new paella recipe she clipped from a magazine, or even how it looks like it just might rain. In other words, just every day stuff, which is all fine, except about that same time, the navigation device robot woman will say something such as “in one-quarter mile, bear right, get in the left lane, and take the exit to southbound Interstate-95.”

    It’s not that she has something more important to say than the wife does, but the information is very timely. You only have a few seconds to act on the information in order not to get lost. And as the captain of the vehicle, the driver might raise his hand for his wife to be quiet so he can hear the directions and execute the necessary maneuver to get the family to the final destination.

    The problem is, women don’t like their husbands to raise their hands and shush them, so he can listen to what another woman has to say, even if the other woman is a computerized robot. Now, I have to admit that sometimes the robotic navigation lady can be annoying. “Turn left in one quarter mile… turn left in two tenths of a mile… turn left in 300 feet… turn left…

    The other day, however, I  had one robot lady on the Garmin device and another robot lady on my iPhone, both giving me directions on how to get to the same place, and each had slightly different ways to proceed. It may be just my imagination, but the two seemed to be getting a little pissy with each other. And my real-life wife was the most irritated of all. I’m trying to decide which of the robot ladies to follow, and she just wants them both to shut up.

    “It was like a menage a trois, plus one, but not in the good way. “I don’t care which one you want to follow, but shut one of them off,” the real-life wife finally snaps. Now I like to think of myself as a manly man. A woman doesn’t tell me what to do, not by any stretch of the imagination. But in this case, I made an exception, followed directions, and did what I was told.

    I suppose I could get a male voice to give me directions – on most devices it’s merely a choice, but I don’t like asking another man for directions. I feel like he would tell me the whole trip at once. Turn left at the next light, go 2.4 miles, take a right on Jackson  Boulevard, go three blocks, make a U-turn and you are there. And if I asked any follow-up questions, he would get sarcastic, and start calling me a momma’s boy and telling me how I needed to listen up, follow directions, and stop acting stupid.

    And the worst thing is, my wife might agree with him.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • May 16, 2017

    LYRICS, POETRY AND PROSE XIII

    A place to share some words of beauty, inspiration, and fun. As Mickey and Sylvia used to say, “love is strange.” Today we’re talking about love gone wrong and how quickly love between men and women can turn deadly. Today we feature Marty Robbins singing about a victim of love waiting to be hanged. Then we have Willie Nelson singing about the red-headed stranger taking his revenge on the little darling that left him and the man with whom she ran off. And lastly we have the Dixie Chicks singing Goodbye Earl to the man who beat his wife. Click on the name of the piece to get a video or more information. You have some favorite lyrics? Please share…

    I took my pistol from my hip and with a trembling hand
    I took the life of pretty Flo and that good for nothin’ man
    That good for nothin’ man
    I think about the thing I’ve done, I know it wasn’t right
    They’ll bury Flo tomorrow, but they’re hanging me tonight
    They’re hanging me tonight

    They’re Hanging Me Tonight Singer: Marty Robbins;  Writers: Jimmy Low and Art Woltert

    But he found them that evening
    In a tavern in town
    In a quiet little out of the way place
    And they smiled at each other
    When he walked through the door
    And they died with their smiles on their faces
    They died with a smile on their face

     – Medley: Blue Rock Montana / Red Headed Stranger Singer: Willie Nelson

    Right away Mary Ann flew in from Atlanta
    On a red eye midnight flight
    She held Wanda’s hand and they worked out a plan
    And it didn’t take them long to decide
    That Earl had to die
    Goodbye, Earl
    Those black-eyed peas, They tasted alright to me, Earl
    You feelin’ weak? Why don’t you lay down and sleep
    Earl, ain’t it dark
    Wrapped up in that tarp, Earl

    – Goodbye Earl Singers: Dixie Chicks; Writer: Dennis Linde

  • May 9, 2017

    Ghosts of the Alamo

    MONUMENT TO HEROES/Photo by G. Cunningham

    We love Texas, from the vast emptiness of West Texas, to the beauty of the hill country, to the humid marshlands of the east. The people of Texas can be stubborn when the situation calls for it, but they can also be kind. Right is right and wrong is wrong and there is not a lot of confusion about which is which. Not in Texas.

    Nowhere is that clearer than at the most holy of holy places in the state – the Alamo, located in the middle of downtown San Antonio. The Alamo is where William Travis, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and a small band of Texans met their fate at the hands of the Mexican army under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna. The date was March 6, 1836.

    There is truth, and then there is the legend. And sometimes the second is more important than the first. What we know for sure is that the Texians were outnumbered about 10 to one, that Santa Anna issued an order to take no prisoners, that the Texians fought to the last man, that Davy Crockett died on the ramparts, swinging his rifle like a club before being overwhelmed by the Mexican soldiers, and that Bowie almost certainly died in his sick bed, armed with pistols and the Bowie knife that he had designed.

    The bloody battle was meant by Mexico to quell any idea of resistance from the remaining Texas population, but it had the exact opposite effect. “Remember the Alamo” became both the rallying cry for Texans in their efforts to separate from Mexico and a reminder for the generations to come of the independent spirit of the state.

    Today the Alamo seems small, almost insignificant, in comparison to the hotel and office towers of downtown San Antonio. It has become both a legend and a tourist trap. There are self-guided tours with rented headsets, a gift shop full of “Remember the Alamo” souvenirs, and a grassy, shady plaza leading up to the entry. City streets near the Alamo bear the names of the heroes – Travis, Crockett, and Bowie. You can stand at the corner of Crockett and Bowie and almost hear the gunfire pounding and the men screaming.

    RIVERWALK EVENING                                                        –By Carmela Cunningham

    The river that ran near the old Alamo mission is still there, but it has long-since been channelized and developed into the Riverwalk – a popular dining and drinking venue lined with restaurants, bars, and tourist shops that meanders through the downtown area.

    The brave men who died at the Alamo – on both sides of the battle – are long gone. The battle ground where they fought and died is a busy cityscape of skyscrapers and crowded shops. Like the little mission itself, the men who fought there have faded into legend.

    Once they were actual flawed and heroic human beings, caught up in a bloody and historic encounter. Now they are mere memories – glorified and deified shadows of themselves.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.