Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Update on Dodge City Beef

A while back, I mentioned Dodge City Beef on this blog. At that time, they had just opened up a retail store at 11115 Johnson Drive in Shawnee, and they carried a line of responsibly raised beef from their family ranch in Kansas.

It's a year later, and the store has done quite well.

For starters, they carry an even wider array of beef. Their filet mignon, sirloins, and ground beef (over 90% lean!) have been joined by harder-to-find cuts like flank and skirt steak, along with at least 3 types of roasts. For the 'cue enthusiasts, they get a regular supply of briskets now too, though I would recommend calling ahead if it's any time near a major competition.

Also of interest is that they have taken on the products of other local ranchers with similar practices. They now carry whole chickens and a variety of pork including thick-cut chops, bacon, and shoulder. On my last visit, they even had some ground bison.

The chicken, pork, and bison come from neighboring ranches, so they are not supplied quite as often. If you're looking for something in particular, it's best to call in advance to make sure it's in stock. Heidi, who runs the store, is always willing to set something aside for you.

We buy all of our beef from there because we like the quality and knowing where our food comes from. If you're interested in that sort of thing, I'm sure you'll like their products as well.

They're open from Tuesday-Saturday, and their number is 913-499-0204. You can also like them on Facebook to be notified of special events and deals.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kansas City and The United States of Tara

When we switched TV providers last year, one of the promos was the inclusion 3 months of HBO and Showtime for free.

It worked. We got hooked on shows from both networks.

We've been catching up on The United States of Tara ahead of its 3rd season premiere next Monday.

The show is about a suburban family of four. The wife (Tara) suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder, which you probably know better as Multiple Personality Disorder.

There are at least 6 "alters" that have been introduced, each of which brings some semblance of levity, comic relief, or discomfort to the show's other characters.

One of the most striking things to me is that fact that the show is set in Overland Park. And the references are spot-on, both in terms of Kansas City and the Johnson County/suburban dynamic.

For example:

-The husband gets arrested, and the cops tell Tara that they're taking him to the County Jail over in Olathe.

-A creepy 27-year-old starts dating the teenage daughter, and he offers to buy her "a the Crossroads District."

-The teenage son (who is gay) and a friend drive to a park. The experienced friend wants to show the son how to cruise for sex. In an obvious reference to Penn Valley/Liberty Memorial, the son says, "Yeah, I've been there plenty of times, but just for school. You know it's the only dedicated World War I Museum in the country?"

-After Tara and the husband argue, the teenage son says he's keeping the house in the event of a divorce. He adds that he can't change schools because "Shawnee North has gangs."

(This one is especially true-to-life: when the Shawnee Mission School Board was going through their redistricting plans back in September, some students at one of the elementary schools that feeds SM Northwest High School were going to be reassigned to Shawnee Mission North. Parents went apeshit, going so far as to claim their property values would decline by 20% and ultimately cost the district money. It's funny because they're using typical suburban denial in lieu of admitting the real reason: more poor and minority students go to SM North, and that's scary to them.)

In trying to figure out how this came to be, I found an old article from Aaron Barnhart:

"We have someone working on the show who's from Overland Park, Kansas," said [show co-creator Diablo] Cody. "She said that everyone out there hangs out at the Ken-Taco-Hut."

That someone, Lindsey Allen-Springer, is the manager of development at DreamWorks TV, which is producing "United States of Tara" for Showtime. It was DreamWorks co-founder Steven Spielberg's idea for a comedy about a woman with DID, or dissociative identity disorder, that Cody developed into this series. Allen-Springer, originally of Olathe, is a 2002 graduate of K-State.

So there you go. If you have a chance, check out the show. It is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, and always interesting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How To Turn Someone Into a Control Freak

1. Promise a person you'll take care of something important.

2. Don't take care of said important thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Drunken Fish Sushi: A Detailed Account

A group of seven of us got together last night for a friend’s birthday dinner. The spot selected was Drunken Fish, the new outpost of the St. Louis-based trendy sushi restaurant. It’s located in the Power & Light District.

First, the opinion portion of the review:

The sushi was underwhelming. There was nothing wrong with it, but there was also nothing memorable about it. It’s probably a 4 on a 10-point scale.

It didn’t help that the wasabi was nearly flavorless and without heat. That is, except for one person’s plate; we sampled his green stuff and it had an almost-acceptable horseradish kick. I ate a huge glob of mine straight, and it was less pungent than fresh-ground black pepper. When we pointed out this discrepancy, our waitress explained that it depends on how much you mix into your soy sauce, as if we couldn’t comprehend the concept of dilution.

It was somewhat expensive, but probably not out of line with what you’d expect to pay at an establishment in your favorite KCMO-taxpayer-subsidized district.

The atmosphere was pretty noisy, and I think that’s by design. Places with drinks called the “Asian Fetish” and “Dirty Kimono” typically aren’t known for being relaxing. And that’s fine—it is what it is.

Now, the timetable portion of the review:

7:35pm We were seated.

7:40pm Drinks were ordered.

7:58pm Drinks were finally received.

8:05pm Our food order was finally taken.

8:30pm My blood sugar tumbles into negative integers and I become very crabby.

8:30:01pm My wife asks about our food.

8:35pm Our waitress says our food is on its way.

8:43pm A manager apologizes for our wait (finally) and says our food is on its way.

8:50pm Our waitress says our food is being plated and will be right out.

8:57pm Food finally arrives. We devour it quickly, thanks to hunger and our desire to get the hell out. Yeah…read on.

9:15pm We request our checks.

9:22pm We receive a round of Key Lime Pie shots from the manager as an apology. Um…okay, thanks, but we’re trying to leave.

9:31pm A birthday dessert is brought out for us to share. Thanks, but really? Now?

9:36pm Now it gets really bizarre. The waitress brings out COMMENT CARDS and jokes that you can use them to say “how awesome she was”. NOW she apologizes for everything taking so long, and this is their “soft opening”, and look over there—the general manager is making sushi, and we should come back for happy hour and their grand opening and all this other stuff. Also at this time, she delivers our checks, which we shove our cards in and immediately hand back.

9:51pm We are finally cashed out.

The first two timestamps are approximate within a few minutes (I had no reason to check my watch at that time). Everything else is actual time.

Really. Just check the intervals between some of those items and consider how long they really are.

A couple more things:

-“Soft opening” is bullshit. According to the Pitch's Fat City blog, they opened their doors 3 weeks ago. Also, this is the 4th Drunken Fish location—not some first-time restaurateur’s maiden voyage. They should be way better than this.

-Our waitress, while certainly not unpleasant, was somewhat…I think “tone-deaf” is the word. She never apologized during our painful wait for nourishment. Instead, after we sat foodless for quite some time (it was sometime after my blood sugar crash) she came over and asked how everyone was doing as if we were in the middle of our meal. Then the comment cards came out, and joking that we should say she was awesome when we clearly wanted to leave??? What would have been awesome would be to get our checks. There was just no empathy whatsoever; it was rather obvious that we hadn’t had a good experience and wanted to leave but she just never saw that.

-The staff was nice enough and meant well. The manager giving us shots wasn’t really what I wanted (especially at the time he gave them to us), but he was at least trying. And the water guy kept my glass full all night.

Bottom line? I was already a bit wary of a place whose spokesperson says, “It’s not just about eating sushi. It’s about the experience.” When the pedestrian Japanese fare is the best part of the “experience”, you’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Apple in This Economy

Immediately below an article about how badly an extra quarter per gallon of gas will hurt the economy, I saw news that Apple sold close to 1 million iPad2s on the tablet's debut weekend.

The most stunning thing about the article is that 60% of these toys, which cost anywhere from $499 to $829, were bought by people WHO ALREADY OWN A 1st GENERATION iPAD.

These were released at similar prices LESS THAN A YEAR AGO.

Look, I think I have a pretty balanced attitude toward Apple products. They're well-designed, stylish, and capable machines.

They're also very expensive. My laptop (i5 processor, 500 GB hard drive, 4 GB RAM) cost the same as the LOWEST-PRICED iPad.

I'm really stunned that this many people are shelling out this kind of scratch for something that does some really cool things, but is an absolutely unnecessary indulgence for 95% of the people who buy it.

What stuns me even more is that Apple fanboys/fangirls will just lap up every new release that comes their way, never questioning why the company they revere intentionally withholds features and technology so they can get in their wallets all the more frequently.