Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From DCFUD - Cheeseburger in Paradise, Reviewed by the 5PBFC

Have you ever been to a restaurant that you can't stand, yet can't wait to try again? Then you know how the 5PBFC feels about Cheeseburger in Paradise, a Jimmy Buffett-inspired tribute to three of Buffett's favorite subjects - eating, drinking and making money.

Cheeseburger in Paradise embodies and embraces pretty much everything I hate about chain restaurants. Cheesy, overenthusiastic servers who have to follow a greeting script? Check. Stupid names for ordinary menu items (in this case, with a Buffett theme)? Check. Day-glow menu with paragraph-sized food descriptions because "French-Fried Potatoes" is too nebulous for mere mortals to understand? Check. Bartenders who think they're Tom Cruise in "Cocktail?" Check. Acoustic singer/songwriters doing covers of Live, Guns and Roses and Nirvana? Check. Ungodly amounts of tacky crap on the walls? Check. A roaming gangbang of servers singing "Happy Birthday" while food waits under heat lamps? Check. A little too kid-friendly? Check. Mediocre food and drinks at inflated prices? Well...

That's the rub. The food is good - surprisingly so, given the sub-$10 mark on most of their chow. They'll prepare their burgers to any desired temperature, from scorched well-done to scared-with-a-flashlight rare - a nice, wonderful touch in the chain restaurant world. They'll also substitute a turkey burger or a vegan patty on any of their burgers for no charge. The appetizers alone are the size of a meal. Check out the Carnivorous Habits Platter (again with the Buffett theme!). The BBQ Jerk ribs were about as good as any ribs I've had. Perfectly seasoned, just the right combo of spice and sauce, and very juicy. The teriyaki wings were fantastic, almost as good as the wares from Bruce Lee Wings in Baltimore's Cross Street Market.

This is not a restaurant for Alcoholics Anonymous members. Their bar book is the size of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and lists dozens of various margaritas, pina coladas and mojitos. The place has more booze than a hip hop video, and the large variety of rums could make a pirate scream for temperance. The drinks are cheap, just a step above "college dive bar" cheap. The Goombay Smash, somewhat similar to the Gorilla Farts from my beloved Monterrey's in Virginia Beach, is $5.50. That seldom buys a draft beer around these parts anymore. I just wish the fruit garnish wasn't looking at me.

face in the fruit.JPG

CiP is a fine place to take any Parrothead, or perhaps a decent meal after a day in the malls. It's definitely a step-up above the run-of-the-mill suburban chains, and, at the very least, the cheap drinks will make you forget that a dozen servers are singing "Happy Birthday" to some screaming toddler. My biggest complaint is that it tries just a little too much to be cute and pleasing - the overall theme of a beach bar alone would be nice. I just wish it could be a little more Coastal Flats classic than Chuck E. Cheese loud, because the food deserves better.

CiP gets 5 out of 10 Whammies! The food, drinks and overall value would earn it more Whammies!, and the drinks are strong enough to make me think for a second, that, indeed, I am in Key West, but I simply can't fully endorse any place that calls its employees "Islanders" in the middle of a landlocked suburban strip mall.
Cheeseburger in Paradise
5 Virginia Locations - Woodbridge, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Virginia Beach and Newport News
2 Maryland Locations - Pasadena and California

The 4-1 Baltimore Ravens

So, my beloved Ravens got whupped last night in Denver, amid sleet and snow and 70,000 screaming Denverians...Denverites? Denverns? Coloradoans?

In any event, a 13-3 loss in Denver is usually nothing to be ashamed about, but it really looked like the Ravens' were not prepared to play. I don't want to mimic one of my favorite writers, Gregg Easterbrook, too much, but if there was ever a game that screamed "Tuesday Morning Quarterback," it was this one.

East Coast Ski Reports Do Not Make Good Football Weather

This loss can firmly be placed on the equipment manager.

The Ravens were slipping and sliding more than B.J. Sams on 695.

The icy conditions clearly affected the Ravens more than the Broncos. One team isn't really more manly than the other - in fact, they're both pretty similar squads, though Denver's OL is clearly better and the Raven's LB are amazing - but because the Broncos had better traction than the Ravens. I counted at least 5 plays in which the Ravens were falling down while the Broncos were able to cut and pivot.

If a Running Back Can't Catch and Doesn't Run Well, Is He A Lineman?

It's been over 20 years since the San Francisco 49ers' pioneered designed passes to the running back. Being able to catch a quick 6 yard pass is something taught to every back from the pee-wees to the pros.

Jamal Lewis couldn't catch crabs in a Thai brothel.

And yet, the Ravens had him out there on three passing downs.

That he dropped two of the passes was not surprising.

"Preposterous Punt?" Try "Pathetic Punt."

One of Mr. Easterbrook's favorite subjects is the punt; specifically those times when punting is the stupid, cowards' choice.

The Ravens had two such occurances last night.

Once, the purple-and-black were near midfield, playing against an offense that had been doing nothing, and they punted. The Broncos returned the ball to midfield. Horrible punt coverage, but a bad call started it.

Second, the Ravens were in Bronco territory, and attempted to aim the punt out of bounds.

The ball travelled about 10 yards. The 5 Paragraph Bitter (insert thing to be bitter about here) Critic wrote "game over" in his mental notebook, just like Easterbrook would...and probably did.

I'm not even IN the NFL and I can punt 11. Maybe 12. In the thinner air of Denver, I might be able to punt it 20 yards.

Pathetic punt. Two bad decisions, and they cost the Ravens the game.

6'5" is Taller Than 5'10", Right?

Clarence Moore is one of the tallest receivers in the league. Champ Bailey is a fine cornerback, but he's not going to be confused with Shaquille O'Neal anytime soon. That interception in the end zone was killer. Sure, Moore made almost no attempt to come back to the slightly-underthrown ball, but McNair has to be able to follow the simple physics involved with a seven inch height advantage.

So, the Ravens are 4-1, which is nothing to sniff at. They could be 5-0, but Denver did outplay them last night...almost as much as they out-thought themselves.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Foley Catheter

This is a picture of the Foley catheter. It is designed to go into a penis. Given Rep. Mark Foley's little scandal, there is a delicious irony in there, and I'd love to write a joke about it, but I'm not seeing much to laugh about.

If you haven't read the rather disgusting chat logs of the former Representative Foley and his page, check out ABCnews.com and, make sure you steel yourself before reading them.

I'll wait until you're either done reading, or can't read any more.

Pretty gross, huh?

I've been thinking about Foley a lot, though I usually pay little-to-no attention to Washington sex scandals. I just can't get too excited about pasty white men with a chronic need to fill their massive egos by schtumping emotionally-empty women looking to find solace in their vapid lives by humping sorta-powerful men.

Foley's scandal is different. Unlike former President Clinton's affairs, there's the potential for pedophilia, which is a bit beyond the normal scandal. Adding further to this particular situation is the overt homosexual tones, and the recent comments from his lawyer that he'd been sexually molested by a clergy member when he was a teen.

While I in no way condone what Foley has written or could have possibly done, I'm beginning to see a very faulty logic in him. He is surely a tainted, flawed man, ultimately unable to avoid the demons that have plagued him for decades. However, within his personal struggles, he attempted to strengthen laws protecting children from the very crimes he committed, and had committed against him.

His homosexuality has been the biggest unkept secret in Washington, yet he denied repeated accusations that he was gay. It's obvious he's been in the closet longer than that fondue set as a 60s' wedding gift. Could his fear to reveal his secret come from the conservative Southern background of his home district? Fear of being outed as a homosexual pedophile? Fear of reprisal from his Republican Party counterparts, not all of whom would cotton to a gay man in their ranks?

Possibly the fear placed in him from his own sexual molestation decades earlier?

His actions have not been terribly discreet over the years. Male pages have been warned about Foley since the mid-90s. It's unfortunate that he felt the need to channel his urges towards young teenage boys. In a city with a large, active homosexual community, he could have found any number of partners at all sorts of clubs - not only discos for openly gay men, but music and supper clubs; even dance clubs for conservative Republicans who would rather remain in the closet. While it seems amazingly stupid that he used America Online's Instant Messenger to contact teenage boys, using his own easily-traceable screen name, it makes me wonder:

Maybe he WANTED to be caught?

The classic "suicide by police action" mentality that causes desperate people to wave a gun at an officer? They don't have the cajones to kill themselves, so, let the trained police shooter do it for them.

His actions as a Congressmen, strengthening child molestation and assault laws, helped bring about his demise. Hoist on his own petard...or, spanked by his own towel, given the subject matter of his chat.

I think he knew he was living a lie. He knew he didn't want other children to be attacked like he was. He couldn't avoid becoming what he tried to prosecute. His chat transcript is gross, and clearly perverted - his lawyer may say Foley never touched any child, but, as clear from that transcript, he thought about it. How soon before thoughts become action?

Maybe he got caught to save himself, and others?

And while focus on this case is firmly pointed at the much older Representative from Florida, it's hard not to read the comments from the former page and get a sickening feeling from him as well.

The teenager, labeled as "Xxxxxxxxx," knows who he is talking to, and seems to rather enjoy turning on the old poof. Going into detail about masturbation - a subject that can cause grown adults to blush - is no problem for this youngster, as he willingly tells the Congressman how he uses a towel for rubbing and cleaning. He even tells the man how he's "growing" and the exact length of his penis. He can clearly see that Foley is really enjoying this conversation, and makes ZERO attempt to stop it.

This is no innocent waif, but a teenager who is a little too aware of his body, and how to use it to his advantage. Who knows what he was going to get from the Rep? A college recommendation letter? Job on the Hill? A cheap thrill?

It appears that while many people will rightfully shun and spread disdain to the Congressman, I'm not willing to call the teenager a saint in this situation. I do hope that somebody gets a hold of this teenager and has a good heart-to-heart conversation with them and how this kind of conversation with an adult is wrong, and highly creepy.

Funny that if a 16-year old boy shoots up a liquor store, he's tried as an adult, but if a 16-year old boy sexually manipulates an older, lecherous man, that boy is suddenly "just a baby." Sorry, society - you can't have it both ways. That kid is about as innocent as a vice cop, and saving the chat log of the Congressman's conversation indicates that, like Foley, he knew exactly what he was doing.

How bad is this scandal? When the normally uber-right-wing Washington Times calls for the ouster of House Speaker Dennis Hastert for his role in covering up this scandal, that shows a sudden change of pace - the ultimate case of the abused dog biting the hand of its master.

And while this will become a benefit for the Democrats come Election Day, as the Republicans on the Hill try to figure out who knew what, when and why, it underscores a rather frightening truth : it's TOO easy to be a politician. I'm not talking about celebrities or athletes or business leaders who use their fame as an advantage in the polls, but just the whole process.

To get a driver's license, I needed to take a class, past a written test and a driving test. I'm one of the best drivers I know, and I failed the driving part twice before finally getting my license.

To get a dog from the SPCA, I had to fill out a long form, with references, to make sure I'm a dog lover and not a dog lover, if you know what I mean.

To use a computer at work, I had to go through the entire security clearance process, listing every address I've lived in, every job I ever had, personal and professional references, every credit card payment and travel excursion.

To become a Congressman, I need to fill out a small application, pay the filing fee, and tell people I won't raise their taxes. Once elected, I get free reign in the Nation's Capital, free to roam the Capitol and the House and Senate Office Buildings, free to butt into any meeting or event I damned well want. I can be courted by any lobbyist, special interest group or political action committee, and my vote can be bought or sold as easily as a street walker.

I'd get to comment on any issue and vote on any piece of legislation I want - even if I don't know a damned thing about the issue!

I can avoid the draft, yet vote to send our country's young to war.

I can scream about the environmental impact of pollution, yet drive the city in a big black Chevy Suburban.

I can pander to my district's religious base, yet live like a harlot in the confines of the District.

Somebody explain to me, please, how this system still is in place.