>I’ll See Yours and Double Down!

>My friend Becky in Denver, aka the Mile High Seductive Enchantress, keeps one of my favorite blogs over at Release the Kraken Please, and she is also a frequent commenter here on my blog. She’s humorous and fun and I get a real kick out of her blog posts and twitter updates. Sometimes they’re random, sometimes they are hilarious, and sometimes they are heartfelt and warm. They always have lots of pictures, something I really enjoy (which probably isn’t surprising considering how I usually load my posts with so many pictures). I like her style of blogging, the kind that is a little window into another person’s life that doesn’t feel all pre-planned and manufactured. So yeah, Becky is on my list of favorite people.

What is really odd to me, though, is that while she used to live in Missoula, and we know a lot of the same people, we’ve never actually met face to face. It’s possible that we did back in the day and just don’t remember, but it’s still strange to me.

The Office Experiment

She and her work friends occasionally do these little outings they call “Office Experiments.” It usually involves food of one kind or another, and usually food that’s kind of gross. For example, one time they did one around the McDonald’s McRib. Another was a trip to a Dave & Buster’s restaurant. The other day she mentioned on Twitter that they were going to go try the new Double Down sandwich from KFC. Literally minutes before I read her post, I had been in my truck running an errand and had heard an ad for the sandwich and was properly horrified. So when I read her announcement, I knew that I had to be IN on the project, as kind of a satellite member of her crew.

So what is the Double Down? Get a load of this:

The new KFC Double Down sandwich is real! This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel’s Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun! » Watch the TV Commercial

I haven’t been to a KFC in years, that I recall, though I have a long relationship with the place. When my friends and I moved to the Seattle area back in the 80s to become rock stars, the first job my roommate and I had was working at a KFC (for those who know the Renton area, it’s the one on Rainier Avenue just north of the I405/167 interchange, next to a strip mall that housed a Budget Tapes & Records store). We worked there about 8 months or so, at $3.35/hour, before landing bigger and better jobs (starting a $6.00/hour; we thought we were rich). Of the many things I remember about working there, one time KFC introduced these mini sandwiches called “Chicken Littles.” They were actually pretty tasty; basically oversized nuggets on a bun. What I recall though is we were all brought in on a Saturday morning to be indoctrinated on them. The regional manager, Tom (we referred to him as Dick because that’s basically what he was), gave this big speech about them, and we all got to sample a couple. A couple other little mid-management sycophants were there, and I specifically recall the trio standing near the back office, talking about the ramifications of their new sandwich in the fast food market. This guy said, stone cold serious, “What we are doing is starting a war. We are starting . . . a WAR.” I about died laughing; I had to retreat into the walk-in cooler to regain composure. What a dork.

So I don’t like KFC, even without going into a rant about their factory-farmed chicken. This particular KFC in Missoula, which is also an A&W, is in a building that used to be a fantastic pizza joint called Little Big Men Pizza, with a big round fireplace in the middle. I ate many a LBM pizza; it was a favorite. We’d splurge there now and then after band practice, when finances allowed us to deviate from the usual 4-hot dogs-for-a-dollar menu at Ole’s. It’s a travesty that this once great enterprise is now a friggin’ KFC and 2nd-rate burger outlet.

Via the genius of our synchronized efforts, you can check out Becky’s Double Down results right here! Dig ’em. Here’s mine. . . .

Fortune Favors the Bold

I was still game for the Office Experiment, though, don’t get me wrong. I was in the middle of a busy day when the whole thing went down, so I went for the drive thru, since the KFC is only about 6 or 8 blocks from my house.

I took it home and put it all on a plate to eat at my desk. The dining room table has pretty much been owned by Julia’s Project Selvedge work, and I don’t like to risk touching anything with my greasy fingers.

Opening up the sandwich, it somehow didn’t live up to the publicity photos. Imagine that!

I hate pepper jack cheese, so I just doubled up on the Monterey Jack. The whole thing was pretty slippery and squishy, and the bacon was essentially invisible. I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach the thing.

At this point I was a little grossed out. I ate a couple potato wedges (at least I think there was potato somewhere under all the grease and breading) and contemplated. I cut away the excess cheese and attacked the thing with knife and fork. I figured if I tried to hold it it was going to slip out of my grip and soil my desk. I couldn’t have that!

With all the excess gook cut away, it wasn’t too bad. I don’t know that I would order one again, though. If I’m ever forced to return to the Colonel’s, I’d probably go with a couple slabs of extra crispy instead. Or maybe some fake mashed potatoes and gravy and a couple biscuits.

All in all, I’d give it about 2.5 out of 5 stars. Sorry, Colonel. Should’ve stuck with Chicken Littles.

Don’t forget to check out how things went down in Denver right here!

>The Mayhem Continues — Design a Silkscreen

>April 9th: Challenge Five — Design a Silkscreen

Project Selvedge continues! Here’s a picture of one of the grand prizes — a fancy new, high speed sewing machine. The winner also gets a gift certificate for fabric, dance lessons, a spa day, and a couple other things too, I believe. So the stakes are high!

Leah was there, as always, laying down the ground rules describing this week’s skirmish.

Julia’s model this week was our friend Autumn, a woman Julia also bellydances with. She looked great!

So each designer came up with a silkscreen for a t-shirt provided as part of the challenge, then had a fabric budget to complete the ensemble. Here are some of the other entries.

I liked this last model’s tattoo.

Julia got vicious in describing the hows and whys of her silkscreen and the outfit she put together to accompany it. That’s my sister Mitzi in the far right of the frame laughing at Julia’s antics.

I thought the screen came out awesome. There were a lot of people asking how she did it and made it look so intense. I’m telling you, this woman knows her shit!

It was a good night.

There is no shortage of pretty girls as part of this competition either, and I’m not afraid to say so.

But the best of the bunch left with ME.

One more challenge, then it’s the finals for the whole enchilada! Cross your fingers for Julia!

>You Think it’s Break Time, Punk?

>Lately I’ve been thinking about taking down all the pictures on the walls of my office and replacing them with other stuff. I have some great prints — great to me anyway — that I’ve picked up, but I also have some awesome stuff I haven’t had framed yet, plus some other stuff I’d like to get. Just for a change of scenery for a while, you know?

Anyway, now and then I’ll find things and just pin them to the wall. Magazine covers, post cards, calendar pictures, etc. Last weekend when I was cleaning out my desk, I found a cover I saved from a recent GQ magazine that had Clint Eastwood on the cover, and pinned it up on the wall in front of me. Just now I was working on a story I’d like to get wrapped up, and leaned back in my chair to ponder a moment. I glanced, and I swear Clint is glowering at me to get back to work.

“You think that damn story’s gonna write itself? Get to it!” he’s saying. Jeez, even the dame in the A Hell of a Woman post card seems to be challenging me. The universe must know how lazy I am to be sending me these slave drivers.

So back to it. Band practice in two hours, and I have some words to see to first. I just wish Clint would say something to these dogs about the snoring and the gas.

>Relics of the Past

>Saturday I dug into my closet looking for something, and ended up overhauling the whole thing. Put together a big bag of clothes to go to the Goodwill, and managed to reduce my collection of hoarded shit from four boxes to two (but doubled what will go out on the street for garbage pickup this week)(and if I could bring myself to toss my old D&D stuff I could reduce the hoard another 50%)(still, not bad for a guy of my advancing years). While going through all of it, I found this little book:

This is a little journal I received as the “Reading Award” when I graduated from the 8th grade back in . . . 1981, I guess; Frenchtown Elementary was the school, in Frenchtown, MT. The inscription inside is from my teacher, Mrs. Parker. She was also my 3rd grade teacher, but then moved up to be a junior high teacher instead, so I had her again. It was a small school — my high school class of 1985 graduated a whopping 50 students. Here’s the inscription:

In case you can’t really see it (clicking on the image to make it larger should do the trick), it says:

To Chris —

This is a little something to help you on your way to writing your first “fantasy” novel. I have enjoyed having you as a student.

Best wishes always,
Mrs. Parker

And it did! The first few pages are filled with notes I took while interviewing a wildlife biologist about wolves in about ’92 or ’93. I submitted the article to Bugle, the magazine of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It didn’t see publication (I’m sure it sucked). Then a few pages are devoted to the first novel I ever wrote, back in ’93 or ’94, which was a fantasy novel. Perusing the notes, I could vaguely recall some of it, but it was still amusing to look at them. I toiled away on that thing, writing on an old computer that used two of the big floppy drives — it didn’t have a hard drive, if I recall — for a couple months and completed the first draft. I also used a little Brother word processor my folks had given me.

That novel, which was no doubt a piece of shit, does not survive to this day. It died the death of the un-backed-up when an old PC I had crashed. I wrote a second novel shortly after that one, collaborating with a friend, which is also a fantasy. I still have that one. It probably sucks too. I’ll need to take it out and look at it. I remember we were writing it in hopes of getting it published as part of TSR‘s (RIP) line of Forgotten Realms books. They weren’t interested, but some years later I received a letter from them (or Wizards of the Coast at that point, actually) asking me to submit a proposal for another Realms book. I sent my proposal but was denied. I was disappointed, but I don’t think they ever published the book they were after — it was to have a pretty specific theme, and they never did one that I know of along those lines. So maybe they just decided it wasn’t such a great idea. I had a sense they were trying to nick the theme from Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Legacy books.

Then I didn’t write for a long time afterward. I have notes for novel ideas going back into the late 90s, but it’s only been the last year or so that I started writing again with any seriousness. I started writing for New West and the Independent — neither of which I’m doing anything for now — a couple years ago, but didn’t dive back into fiction until just under a year ago. It feels good to be doing it again.

As for Mrs. Parker, she is one of those teachers that had an impact on me that I still remember fondly. She urged my parents to get me the original Dune Trilogy for Christmas one year, and that is a series that would be my desert island choice for sci-fi, without question. Beyond that she really pushed me, and wasn’t one of those teachers that looked down her nose at the choices I was making for what I wanted to read. That’s pretty important for young readers, I think.

Earlier this year I learned that a guy I play soccer with is actually a teacher out at Frenchtown Elementary. Turns out Mrs. Parker is still there. I think I might have to look her up. . . .