Sunday, July 20, 2014

50 is the new _____


Sloan's Lake, Denver

______

I turned 50 last Christmas.  I did so on a beach far far away.  No "Over the Hill" texts, no Facebook messages.. just me, TVGal, TVSis and her husband on a beach in perhaps my favorite place on Earth letting the 24 hours tick away and saying goodbye to my 40s.

I liked my 40s.  I got married in my 40s.  We got our cats Chili and Pepper in my 40s.  They weren't perfect, as any ten year period of time will attest to.  I lost my job in my 40s.  I didn't keep most of my New Years Resolutions that decade as my pathetic attempts at speaking Spanish will attest. (Si!)
All in all though they were just fine.

Getting into and out of a decade with a round number (30, 40 etc) has always been a bit of a problem for me.  My parents have been gone a long time and I'm pretty much the oldest flag bearer of the Thow name around these parts and as such these numbers remind me that there are def. more Yesterdays in my temporal account than Tomorrows.  I'm not one of those folks that wants to live forever, or at the very least dip their toe in the waters of ages north of the century mark.  Somewhere around 80 and I'd be just fine with that if you please.

As I approached the 50 year mark I started assessing what it was about that number that bothered me so.  It couldn't be my health, as I was nearly in the best shape of my life (unemployment gives you a lot of time to menu plan and hit the gym as it turns out).  I still had virtually all of my hair (it started a mini-retreat in my early 20s and then stopped for some glorious, wonderful reason).  My hairline hasn't budged since.  I have just the right amount of grey mixed in with my brown, and as long as TVGal is fine with that so am I. (Besides, going grey has never bothered me... Richard Gere's head of hair is a thing of beauty and delight and deserves my admiration).

After I pushed past the magic number I thought about it less and less and eventually like all trivial things it disappeared from my mind for good.  Until I went jogging in April.

_______

We have a glorious lake near our downtown villa, Sloan's Lake.  It is just the right size for a walk or a run (2.6 miles gets you from Point A to Point.. well, A I suppose.)  It isn't crowded, there are plenty of pelicans to keep you company and the city skyline watches over it at all times reminding you how god damn lucky you are to have this large body of water at your disposal whenever you like.

I like to run, as it turns out.

I didn't really know that about myself til last year.  I will never run a marathon.  I haven't run a 5k or any organized race in my life (although I'm thinking about that a bit now).  But 2.6 miles is just the perfect amount for me.  You get sunshine.  Water.  Exercise.  Music (iPod).  Satisfaction of a half hour well spent.

I like to run.

In April I went out on a glorious early Spring day that was getting ahead of itself and borrowing some Summer temperatures.  It was early but not too early.  If I were to guess, I'd say there were a hundred of us using the lake as a boundary of sorts that morning... many of those were college-aged women.  Some had strollers with infants, being shoved against their will in a circular fashion around that body of water.  Some were in groups, perhaps running "clubs", talking and laughing as they ran. (I've never run with anyone before and the thought of talking while breathing hard seems mildly insane.)  But the common denominator for virtually all of these women was that they were uniformly in shape, dressed in lycra, and by and large incredibly good-looking. (I say this with a clinical eye only.)

I was invisible to these women.  Most people passing one another on a path sneak a peak at the person that is moving past... not too long, just enough to notice and then move on.

I might as well have not been there at all.  Person after person passed me by and I registered not one iota of awareness to these women.

Until the senior citizen on the park bench gave me the up and down look of appreciation affixed to a mildly creepy smile.

Bingo.

Eureka.

Light Bulb.

I was no longer attractive to young people.  Or middle aged people.  I was seen by them as someone in their parent's circles... hell, maybe an older friend of their parents.  I myself felt like I was around 30 years of age in an overall mental/physical/social kind of way... but not to the outside world.

I was an adult.  Adult.  Older.  Wiser.  Seasoned.

Ick.

I got in my car and as I was driving home I decided to not give a shit about this.  Don't let it fester.  Cut it out and move on.  Really, what did it matter?  I was happily married, had ten fingers and ten toes and a bald spot was nowhere near on the horizon... Dust myself off and move forward.  50 is the new 40, or 30, or fill in your own numerical cliche, won't you?

_______

Two weeks later....

I was dropping off some artwork I had sold at our nearby hotel bar... I would rather people not drive up to the TVGuy Mansion and its a block away and I have friends that work there so its a perfect meeting spot.  The meeting was at 5pm and I arrived a few minutes early to a nearly empty room... 1 person at the bar, the GM eating an early dinner and our friend Ryan the bartender.  I sat down and had a drink and chatted with the GM for a bit... my phone squawked at me with a new text message from the person buying the artwork asking forgiveness as she was going to be late and would it be okay if I waited for her a little while longer?

TVGal was out of town working and the kitties had been fed and I had nowhere else to be so I replied to the affirmative, took out my iPad and began reading.  (I've read countless articles over the years decrying the solo diner/drinker saying how sad it is to be along in a social setting... this has never been a problem for me, quite the opposite actually.  I am very comfortable being alone.  Movies, restaurants, bars, exercising, etc... Solo works for me just fine thank you very much.)

The one person at the bar was a woman in her early 30s, leaning towards perhaps being too thin, wearing a nice sundress and was, by all accounts, already well on her way to being completely inebriated by 530pm on a weekday.  I picked up snippets of her conversation with the bartender who was gamely being polite but I sensed he'd rather be having elective oral surgery than continuing this conversation.  Since he knew me he would from time to time try to lasso me in as well but I was having none of it... schmoozing with strangers was in his job description, not mine.

Unfortunately I caught a particular spoken nugget from our tipsy lady... she mentioned to Ryan that she was born on Christmas.  I (in hindsight of course) offered that I too was born on that holiday.  I mean, what are the odds?  (365-1 or something like that I imagine).

She was delighted!  A fellow Christmas baby!  We had something in common!  Wheeee!

She got out of her seat and came a bit closer and began complaining about all the things people complain about holiday birthdays (One present instead of Two!  Restaurants are closed!  Everyone else is busy doing other things!  I've heard them all....)

Since I agreed with her about all of these things (Christmas birthdays really do suck, btw) she moved ever closer and chose other topics to force upon me.  What do you do for a living?  Do you own the hotel? How long have you lived in Denver?  What's your favorite thing to do for fun?  Do you consider yourself adventurous?

Look, the warning signs were there but it never occurred to me until the end of this sequence of events that I should have been looking for them.  She was clearly interested in me.  Until the point of uncomfortableness it was mildly flattering.  The angel on my left shoulder was telling me to get the hell out of Dodge as this lady was both kinda drunk and kinda cuckoo.  The devil on my right shoulder was saying that the ladies running around my lake were crazy... clearly you have something to offer to the fairer sex.. obviously you are still an attractive, intelligent man.  Who wouldn't be delighted to spend time in your company?  Screw 50!

(As I look over this retelling, keep in mind that I in no way was interested in this person in the least other than to reaffirm my own masculinity.  I am a happily married man.  I place this parenthetical disclaimer in the hopes that TVGal doesn't hit me over the head with a heavy object of her choosing.)

As this woman moved to the seat right next to me and began flirting at Warp Speed I was devising my exit strategy.  Fortunately, circumstance dropped by in the form of the woman who was picking up her photograph.  She paid me by check, which meant she had to ask me some questions about amount, who to make it out to, etc... and I leapt from my chair and moved to her right, using her as a unwitting buffer between me and my attractive, mildly insane admirer.  I offered to carry my artwork down to the other woman's car, said goodbye to Ryan the Bartender and my Christmas Birthday Gal whose name I don't think I ever knew and skedaddled quickly away to the elevators.

As we waited for the elevator car to arrive the GM passed by.  She apologized for not staying around and leaving me in the orbit of the crazy lady... I responded that she wasn't so bad, def. on her way to passing out in a drunken stupor, etc...

(Oh, I'm sorry.. you're waiting to a point for all this aren't you?  I'm only too happy to oblige...)

GM: "Yeah, I should have warned you but I was having too much fun watching her work."
TVGuy: "Work?"
GM: "She's a prostitute.  Comes here once a month or so." (walked away laughing)
_____

This is 50.

__________________
Rob Coddry: See, if a pharmaceutical company advertises a prescription drug but doesn't say what it does, the FDA doesn't make them list the side effects. That's why the TV spots for the drugs I just mentioned don't give the foggiest indication for what those pills do other than that they seem to help old people ride tandem bicycles...
--"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central)


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Housecleaning...


Moon over Denver...or at least clouds.

________

So, it's time to empty out the iPhone.. what's next? who knows?  Let's get to it.. first up.. 

I was at the Broncos Stadium doing some freelance 2 weeks ago.. in the control room the graphics guy said he had to get some tickets to will call and I said I'd tag along.. as we approached the area where will call was we noticed they hadn't put up any signs or starting distributing tickets.  We chatted for awhile and then noticed that they started from the end of the alphabet and worked their way up.. his last name started with G so after this went up we were glad to be out of the sun.. but after a few seconds we realized it was a pretty.. well, fucking horrible sign...



Of course I went up and took a picture with my cell phone.. seconds later the folks on the inside saw me do this, looked at the sign and ripped it down.. a minute later, this sign appeared...


Pretty great, right?  I know, Will Call is pretty much a "FUCK"ing terrible spot to be in.. long lines, etc.  But how could they not have noticed this before now???

_________



No one will miss our bowl sinks more than these guys... 

_______





Kind of loosely throwing around the word "Lofts" here, right???

________




Watched the US round of 16 at a local bar owned by our friends.. this was their patriotic food entry.. I just made Hash Brown Crockpot Casserole.. no flag necessary as it was gone in under two hours...

_____




Look, I don't run a restaurant but this seems doomed to fail, right???

________




Yeah, there is always one of these guys at a bar... 

_____________




At my friend Curt's mountain villa this weekend and this was in the cabinet.  The expiration date.. well, let's just say Jimmy Carter would have approved of it... 

________




This was in a strip mall we had to stop at a few months ago.. does ANYONE wear their hair on the forehead like this????

_________




Hey, look.. I get that you may have run our of the letter "H".. but how the fuck do you not spell "Strawberry" right.. it's two simple words, "Straw" and "Berry"....

__________


Anyway, it's nice to be back blogging and I hope you all are having a lovely summer...

_______________
Sam: What'll you have Normie?
Norm: Well, I'm in a gambling mood Sammy. I'll take a glass of whatever comes out of that tap.
Sam: Looks like beer, Norm.
Norm: Call me Mister Lucky....
--“Cheers” (NBC)

Monday, July 07, 2014

Marketable...


Grapes in a vineyard in SF...

____________

One of my very favorite things is going to a Farmers Market in the Spring/Summer here in Denver.  The evils of the Pig keep me from being a vegetarian (never a Vegan though.. no cheese?  I think not.)  But I try to eat more veggies and I love going out on the weekend and filling a bag for 10 bucks with every delicious thing I see... please excuse the photos as I took them in 12 seconds but I wanted to illustrate how great these Markets are....

10 bucks.  Here's what I bought....



Zucchinis.  My current favorite food on the Earth.  I have a spiralizer now and replacing pasta with ribbons of Zucchini works in ways that I never thought possible.. I'm cooking dinner right now and here is our skillet so far...


Red Pepper flakes, a bit of minced garlic and olive oil over medium heat for 3 mins and you have the best excuse for not using pasta ever.  I threw some minced mushrooms and jalapeƱos in there as well.. it's really great... I'm assembling dinner for TVGal who isn't the world's biggest veggie fan and I'll report on her thoughts at the end of this post...

Other Farmers Markets additions are...




The largest tomato I've ever bought.. I think it was the size of a volleyball..



I normally despise the Green Pepper as it makes everything it touches taste like.. well, a green pepper.  But in marinara sauce it works so it came along for the ride...


Green Beans. Yum.  They have nothing to do with tonight's recipe but... yum.  A pound went into my bag....


Patty Pan Squash.. also has no part in tonights dinner but its def. TVGal's gateway drug into the world of Squash.. you roast these thinly sliced squash with pepper and parmesan cheese under a 375 degree oven for ten minutes and its a lot of goodness going on...


My BFF, Broccoli.. I'll cook with it on Wednesday when TVGal is traveling for work.. 


Cantaloupe.. simply Yum.


Orange Cauliflower.. at the Market there was Purple, Green and Yellow (obviously White).. I'm told they all taste the same. I'll be making Cauliflower Mac and Cheese tomorrow and I'll report back.


JalapeƱo Peppers. Nuff Said.

I bought mushrooms and anaheim peppers that didnt make the photo list as well... 

I got all those foods for ten bucks.  I tried to estimate at my local grocer later what that would have been and I think it was just north of 27 bucks.  Again, SHOP YOUR LOCAL MARKETS WHEN POSSIBLE.  

See ya later.. it's dinner time here...

PS: TVGal LOVED the zucchini spirals.. as did I.  Cauliflower Mac N Cheese tonight.. report later..


_____________________

Alton Brown: Now, wet stuff does not like sticking to other wet ...stuff. It's one of those universal axioms that keeps the galaxy from ripping itself to shreds and dissolving into the void.
Marsha Brown: That's funny. I could have sworn that was gravity.
Alton: That's one of them, too.
--"Good Eats" (Food Network)



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Answering the call...


Yeah, it's a Lite Brite.  Can you imagine a child in 2014 playing with this?  Me neither....


___________

Hindsight being 20-20 I could have been a better human being in my teens and 20s... as an adult I've tried to balance the cosmic scale in small ways ever since.  There are really three things that I do now by habit that, while insignificant to the planet at large still make me feel like I'm helping out here and there... and since I like lists...

1. Donating Blood.  I think I'm somewhere around 18 gallons at this point.  My mother was taken to the hospital 30 or so years ago and they "ran out" of her blood type.  They had to drive 20 miles to get more.  I was horrified, naturally.  So when there is a blood drive at work I always sign up... the bonus of cookies and juice is obviously a delight.

Downside: This exchange actually took place a few years ago.

Fellow Blood Donator Guy: (as he was leaving the "Blood Bus"... "Let's be honest, getting out of work is really the best reason to give blood".
TVGuy: "No.  Not really.  You actually are helping to, you know, save lives and..."
Fellow Blood Donator Guy: (Interrupting me) "No, I'm right. And you're wrong." (exits Bus)
TVGuy: (to nurse) "What the Hell??"

2. Roadside Assistance.  I got a ticket one time for a tail light light bulb that had burnt out.  I explained to the officer that I lived alone and that there really wasn't any easy way for me to check that other than my oil change place catching it.  He gave me the ticket anyway.  Since then, whenever I see a car with a light out, brakes or tail, I try to pull up along side them and let them know.  I think I've done this over a gazillion times now.. you'd be surprised how many there are that are burnt out.  99.9 of the time the driver is very grateful.

But sometimes....

Downside:  This exchange actually took place a few years ago.

TVGuy: (makes universal "Roll Down Your Window" Gesture with hand)
Fellow Driver: (annoyed, rolls down window using electric switch instead of hand crank that my gesture suggested they use -- when is that gesture going to be obsolete to this generation by the way? Anyway....)
TVGuy: "Your right brake light is out".
Fellow Driver: "Mind your own f***ing business!" (drives away)
TVGuy: (thinking) "What the Hell"?

3. Parking lot attendant.  About 25 years ago on a phenomenally windy Southern California day, I came out of a grocery store and saw a shopping cart on a beeline to give the side of my new car a door ding.  There was no way I could get there in time.  As the cart moved in on my defenseless auto, a bystander, much closer to my car than I, swooped in and saved the day.  He even refused my clumsy attempt to give him five bucks for his kindness and walked away, mysteriously and in slow motion. (Okay, that's just how I remember it...)

Anyway, most of the time between me and my grocery store entrance I grab stray carts and push them into the store. 99.9 percent of the time... well, no one really ever notices but it's just habit now. But occasionally...

Downside: This exchange actually took place a few years ago.

TVGuy: (pushing carts into the line of other carts)
Fellow Cart User: "You shouldn't do that"
TVGuy: (puzzled) "Do what?"
Fellow Cart User: "Put the carts away for the employees... they'll get fired and then you're the asshole". (walks away)
TVGuy: (thinking) "What the Hell"?

_______

I've worked in three call centers in my life and recently ended employment with Comcast, where I helped people with their technical issues.  Many of these callers were complete assholes.  As I took these calls, I realized that I too sometimes was kind of an impatient jerk with customer service folks (TVGal can attest to this as she nods her head slowly) and vowed to be better to these anonymous 800 number folks in the future.  I would no longer be impatient.  I would no longer wonder about the intelligence of these noble folks, working hard for their companies to further their financial wellbeing.

This lasted exactly 128 days.

As I left my bank branch yesterday I noticed that their two clothing donation boxes in the parking lot were overflowing, so much so that a few homeless folks were doing some "shopping" on the stuff that had fallen onto the ground.  Seeing a 800 number on the side, I quickly leapt to the call of duty and once again became TVGuy, Helper of Those In Need.   The companies name has been changed to protect the innocent....

Customer Service Representative: "Hi, thanks for calling ClothingCorp.  How can I help today?"

TVGuy: "Hi, I'm at my bank over in Edgewater and your clothing bins are completely full to the point of overflowing.  They probably need a pickup pronto."

CSR: "Thanks.  Let me start with getting some basic information from you.  What is your name?"

TVGuy: (puzzled) "I don't work for the bank or anything, I'm just doing you guys a favor.  Why do you need my name?  Isn't the only thing you need the address or location?"

CSR: "I need it for my records.  What is your name please?"

TVGuy: (still puzzled) "I really could just say anything here right? Okay, my name is Theodore."

CSR: "Is your name really Theodore?"

TVGuy: "How could it possibly matter, to be honest.  But you can call me Ted."

CSR: "I'll put that name in my system, but I think you're lying."

TVGuy: "Let me put your mind at ease. I'm definitely lying."

CSR: "So you aren't going to give me your real name?"

TVGuy: "My parents once told me that they thought Anthony was a nice name.  But you can call me Tony."

CSR: "I don't know why you won't give me your name... what possible reason could you have for not doing so."

TVGuy:  "What possible reason would you need it in the first place.  Look my name is Frank. (said with as much earnestness as possible, hoping she would believe me...)  Can I just give you the location so I can move along with my day?"

CSR:  "One moment please." (I hear typing in the background that goes on for at least a minute.  Either she simply can't spell Frank or she is finishing a novel.  It's a coin flip.)

TVGuy: "Hello?"

CSR: (finishes typing) "Okay, what city and state are you calling from?"

TVGuy: (still puzzled) "Aren't you a local company?  Your donation box says something to that effect..."

CSR: "Yes, we are located in Denver, Colorado."

TVGuy: "Why would you ask what state I'm calling from then.. isn't there just one answer to that question?:

CSR: "We have to ask it for our records."

TVGuy: "That simply doesn't make any sense. Okay, I'm calling from Arkansas."

CSR: "No, you're not."

TVGuy: "I most certainly am.  Beautiful downtown Little Rock.  Located in the great state of Arkansas.  Where I am calling from right this second."

CSR: "Sir, you're not calling from Arkansas..."

TVGuy: "How can you be certain?"

CSR: "We don't have donation boxes in Arkansas."

TVGuy: "You kind of just proved my point.  Look, the box is in Edgewater in the shopping center by Sloan's Lake.  It's in the (Generic Bank Name) BankCorp parking lot.  Is there anything else or can I go now?"

CSR: "What are the cross streets?"

TVGuy: "Sheridan. There is no other cross street close by.  It's in a very long shopping center, again in Edgewater.  It's probably the only one in your system listed as Edgewater."

CSR: "I need the cross streets for pickup or else I can't send someone out."

TVGuy: "Look, I'm just calling as a courtesy.  Whether you pick up the clothing or not is your business."

CSR: "If you didn't care about the clothing being picked up, why did you call in the first place?"

TVGuy: "I'm thinking it would be easier if I just lit the clothing on fire, saving us both some time..."

CSR: "Please Hold"

TVGuy: (listening to bad hold music and wondering why I had called in the first place.  I thought about hanging up but then stupidly stayed on the line... three minutes later...)

CSR: "Sir, what city are you in?"

TVGuy: "Edgewater, as I've said several times."

CSR: "We have no Edgewater in our system."

TVGuy: "It's a suburb or something of Denver."

CSR: (searching her computer) "Ah, BankCorp in Denver on Sheridan. I found it.  In the future, when you call in just say it's in Denver and this will go much faster."

TVGuy: "Do me a favor.  Think of the largest number you can.  Now insert that number into the following sentence.  What are the odds that I ever call this phone number again... (Your Number) to One?"

CSR: (not understanding or caring about my witty retort):  "Do you have a pen handy for your confirmation number?"

TVGuy: "Confirmation Number?  For what possible reason would I need that?" (I then realized instantly what she was going to say and starting laughing as she replied...)

CSR: "For your records."

_______________
Meredith: At the end of the day, there are some things you just can't help but talk about. Some things we just don't want to hear, and some things we say because we can't be silent any longer. Some things are more than what you say, they're what you do. Some things you say cause there's no other choice. Some things you keep to yourself. And not too often, but every now and then, some things simply speak for themselves....
--"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)








Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Final Frontier...


  Pacific Ocean Sky...

__________

Like millions of Americans over the years I found myself unemployed after our TV Network was closed in 2012.  What followed was a brutal process of applications sent out and no response back.  I'd estimate I received less than 5 percent of actual ding letters or emails or phone calls.. 95 percent there was just no response.  Which really really sucks.  400 days went by with only 2 offers of employment.  (The worst part is applying to places where you know people that work there or companies you've helped in one way or another over the years and hearing nothing in return.)

I am a semi-decent photographer who sells his work around town and on the internet.  I've sold enough images (1,500 pieces or so since January 2013) that financially I've been fine... TVGal makes a good living and our benefits are very good through her company.  I've been asked over the months why I just didn't do photography full-time.  First of all, that's a scary leap from amateur to professional.  Secondly, I'd like my 401k to get bigger with help from a business other than myself.  But more importantly, I like being around people and feeling like I'm part of a team.  I've had a lot of friends move out of Colorado over the past few years and I'd been by myself most of the time (apologies to the wondercats Chili and Pepper... you two have been a delight).



I'd hoped to get back into the TV business but after banging my head against the wall for the better part of 18 months (a couple of good scenarios were around but both involved leaving Colorado) I took a call center job with Comcast with the hope of returning back to the TV side someday.  My first day there they changed the policy of applying internally to another position to 1 year (from 6 months).   Brutal.

Despite being good at the job it was not good for the soul.  After doing some searching of that same soul for awhile I realized I needed to do something new and at the tender age of 50 I pretty much had one career change left in me if I wanted to build a career, move up the ranks, blah blah blah...

Despite the fact that entry level pay/hours were going to suck (the photography sales help offset that) I wanted to try to work in a field that I have always wanted to work in since I was 12 years old.  So four weeks ago I applied for a position with a local company with international ties.  The interview went very well and they did the drug testing / background check then and there.

Today I received the offer letter and I accepted the position (which begins in two weeks).  They have one benefit that is probably the best benefit I could imagine and I will use it (as will some of you) early and often as long as I'm there.

It will be challenging physically I'm sure and there will be days that will be stressful.

I honestly can't wait.

Thanks for the 28 years television... with the exception of the last two you've been great.  But it's time, for now, to move on to something new.

Besides, I've always wanted to work with animals...

(that last sentence is a hyperlink that you need to click on to answer the question "Where IS he working anyway?")

_____________________
Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, I’m telling you, amazing things will happen...
—Conan O’Brien, “The Tonight Show” (NBC)




Lodo Bites 2014, part deux.


Appetizer at 5280 Burger Bar...

_________

Lodo Bites, Part Deux.. when we last left our intrepid gastronomes they were on their way to Coohills Restaurant.. we now join TVGuy and AirportRob, already in progress....

10.  Coohills -- A bite of food the size of a thimble and the hard upsell to buy their alcohol.  Thanks but no thanks Coo...

Score -- (out of 20)  3.0

11. Protein Bar -- I thought it was going to be a smoothie joint only but they completely exceeded our expectations.. think of it as a super healthy Chipotle.  Tons of stuff that is good for you (Kale, Quinoa, etc) but was also quite delicious.  I'll be going back for breakfast on the weekends once we move the TVGuy Mansion to downtown Denver (Estimated early September)...

Score -- 17

12. Squeaky Bean -- Any place that serves brunch and has a giant Bingo board is okay with me.. Szechuan Chicken Wings and Vodka Watermelon snow cones helped cement this place as one of our next dinner/brunch spots for sure...

Score -- 14

13. Lucky Pie -- Last year's winner by a mile filled with me dread as there was no way they could top their Bacon Brownies (80 million times better than you think), delicious pizza, beer tastings and what was the best bite of 2013... Lamb Meatballs.  (I'm not a lamb guy by any stretch but dear lord were they outstanding... I think TVGal had 11 dozen of them alongside 14 brownies..).  As we went in I quickly looked at the serving station and sadness ensued as I saw there was no pizza OR Bacon Brownies (those things deserved to be capitalized btw).  While there was beer tasting (I think Airport Rob's favorite part of the night -- it was pretty great) and the aforementioned Lamb Meatballs (its definitely a marathon and not a sprint.. 18 restaurants in all but I still ate 6 meatballs) they made up for the no pizza with hot out of the fryer Cheese Curds.

They. Kicked. Ass.

Well played Lucky Pie.... well played...

Score -- 18

14. Backcountry Deli -- we were pretty full at this point and BC Deli in the past has put out pretty damn big samples of their sandwiches and that was what we faced this year as well.  The thought of eating large amounts of bread was daunting to say the least.  Let it be said that the quality of their vittles overcame my stomach's groans... pretty damn tasty.

Score -- 14

15. BD's Mongolian Grill -- 3 different entrees and we ate one only due to the stomach's capacity to only intake so much... It was fine and all... but part of the fun of Mongolian BBQ is picking out your own ingredients and sauces and having them cook it on that weird circular grill.  I realize that they couldn't do that for this event (this place was PACKED) but I left feeling disappointed.  I do love BBQ at this place though...

Score -- 11

16. McCormicks - They do possess one of the best Happy Hours of all time, but every year they treat this event as an annoyance.. we've never had good luck here for Lodo Bites and this year was no different.. dry tamales and something else was offered.. they had run out of whatever that empty bin promised... we quickly fled into the rainy night...

Score -- 5

17. Maggiano Pronto -- I've never eaten here and I should.. TVGal's favorite place from two years ago didn't disappoint this year.  I was hoping for a drink of some kind as the thought of eating more food was not appealing at the least.. their salami and mozzarella crostinis were so good I ate three.

Score - 12

18. Jax -- A simple shrimp gazpacho finished the night.  This place doesn't need the boost -- it's supposedly one of the best places to eat anywhere in Denver and is always packed -- but I appreciate that they showed up anyway...

Score -- 12

And... we're done for this year.  Fortunately we have Whiskey & Wings next weekend so the culinary summer adventures continue...

For the record, I did eat a decent-sized breakfast the next day.

_____________________
Alton Brown: Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt.
--"Good Eats" (Food Network)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lodo Bites 2014 - Part 1 of 2


Burger at 5280 Burger Bar, Denver...

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So... we're back.  I've deleted all old posts and we are starting anew.  This blog might be about food.  Movies.  TV.  Airports.  Cocktails.  Knitting.  Okay,  not Knitting.  But I'm going to try to post at least  twice a month.  We'll see.   First up, 2014 Lodo Bites review....

Lodo Bites is an evening in Denver where you walk around for 35 bucks and sample 18-24 restaurants offerings of drinks, appetizers etc... this year it was 18 and we always try to make sure we get to each restaurant before the end of the four hour time limit.  Turns out when you only have two people attempting that you can get done in about 2.75 hours. (Lots of folks that we normally do this with were out of town, in the Witness Protection Program, what have you...)

TVGuy and AirportRob began our assault at 5:01 and finished at 7:45.  A new track record.  Kids, don't attempt this at home... herewith, our journey....

(By the way, I haven't said yet that Lodo Bites is a great, fun undertaking for all.  It is.  Maybe our favorite summer day in Denver.  Keep that in mind for 2015 won't you?)

1. Wynkoop -- Normally a perennial powerhouse with brownies, beer, entrees... and this year.. not so much.. a single spoon of some shrimp thing that was tasty but still felt like we were gum on the bottom of their shoe and they couldn't be rid of us fast enough.. might be the biggest disappointment of the night and we are only one restaurant in...

Cumulative Score out of 20 (we award 10 each per place): 5

2. Vesta Dipping Grill -- Normally doesn't rank very high because they normally do a seafood taste and most of our normal group aren't seafood eaters.. this year because they weren't joining us Vesta decided to make a Chicken Salad Something or other that I could have eaten 10 of.  Again, just a bite and we did return at end of night for a 3 dollar white sangria that kicked ass... but the staff was great and despite the minimal food presentation a solid score...

Score: 14

3.  Crepes and Crepes -- You'll be shocked to learn that this restaurant served crepes.  I know, stunning right?  Anyway, AirportRob called it before we entered that it might be nutella and it was.. and despite the fact that it wasn't hot out of the oven it was pretty yummy anyway...

Score: 12

4. Euclid Hall -- Every year a top five finisher and this year continued their strong showing... bite size chicken and waffles, Gourmet sausages with homemade mustards, and a Killer Grilled Cheese cemented their standing as the best overall restaurant in LodoBites history.  Just a tremendous restaurant... (still the greatest salad of my life served to me during my last two dinners there... Cauliflower Salad... Eighty million times better than it reads, trust me...)

Score: 18

5. Hapa Sushi -- We both have never eaten dinner there but after this effort we both want to, and isn't that really the point of all this?  4 small Asian samplers that all were great.  Well done Hapa...

Score: 16.5

6. Jimmy's -- The surprise of the night... a new restaurant serving classic pub food that served up an incredible Greek Nacho chip and a delicious slider.. just great stuff...

Score: 16

7.  Wazee Supper Club - Known for its pizza (why, I have no idea.. it has really sucked in previous years) this year they went with a side salad.  Weird and not all that good.

Score: 8

8. Black Crow -- I have been here before but AirportRob hadn't... I knew it was pretty good but we were both blown away by the service, the fire pits, the gourmet drinks offered and Trout Corn Dogs.  Look, I know Trout Corn Dogs sounds weird.  It was also one of the best bites of food of 2014.  We are DEFINITELY going back this summer.  Insanely great.

Score: 20 (the maximum.. and we wanted to score it higher.. seriously...)

9. Fogo De Chao -- Cheese Bread and perhaps the greatest cocktail of my Denver life, the Brazil Caipirina... small but incredibly tasty AND a future gift card.. a quick in and out, but so worth it...

Score: 13

Part two tomorrow....

_____________________
Spike: We're out of Corn Flakes again.
Giles: We are out of Corn Flakes because you ate them all. Again.
Spike: Get some more.
Giles: I thought vampires were supposed to eat blood.
Spike: Yeah, well, sometimes I like to crumble up the Corn Flakes in the blood. Gives it a little texture.
Giles: Since the picture you just painted means that I will never touch food of any kind again, you'll just have to pick it up yourself.
--"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB)