Saturday, June 24, 2006

Village Family Restaurant (Waynesville, OH)

I had never been to Waynesville, Ohio before; apparently it’s the “Antique Capital of the Midwest” or some such tomfoolery, so I dug it instantaneously upon stepping foot on its soil.  The picture on the left serves as a nice example of its modest downtown, a sleepy little community more interested in dusting decade old dishes than adultery or reality television.  This restaurant serves as a hub of communication, a place where locals can come and chat about their loved ones, hear the latest gossip, and if feeling crazy enough, perhaps indulge one another with a scandalous dirty joke.  They can also eat there.

To help understand the place’s ambiance I took a picture of this aloe vera plant that was used as decoration – it’s also where I buried a piece of chewing gum, but that’s neither here nor there.  We came right around lunchtime, and almost every other table and booth was full.  The other patrons were small town folk to the core, a loyal group of laborers just making it through another day, not sure what to make of my crew, nor myself, or the notebook of poetry and Buddhism notes I held, least of all the sleek digital camera I used to document our run-in.  On the right is my soda, a thirst quenching choice, surely inspired, and refilled routinely by a pleasant waitress who couldn’t have yet graduated high school, and had likely succumbed to the pressures of her equally naïve boyfriend and his wishes of late night explorations of the squalid sort.

There I am on the left, creator of this bizarre website and big-time fan of Contra.  Also joining me on this raucous romp were RtW staff members Nick (of the Freestyle Walking Club, and the RtW TV project) and Adam (of the famed wrestling section) who promised to be my strength should I falter. 

The menu had some diversity, which was a welcomed surprise.  I assumed there’d be the usual diner fare, like meatloaf, etc. and little else to select from.  However, there were many options and it honestly took awhile to make a final choice.  I went with the perch dinner, a bold choice from a bold dude.  On the far right you’ll see the coleslaw that came with my entrée, and I can safely say I’d rank it near the top of my all-time coleslaw list; that is, were I ever to create such a mad thing.  The meal also came with fries, which were unfortunately not so spectacular, in fact, they were downright bland; as well as a breadstick, which I used as a submarine in a little production I put on to the delight of nobody.  The fish reminded me almost instantly of the frozen variety fed to me in elementary school lunches of yesteryear.  It’s odd how a taste or flavor can catapult you back into the past so effectively, but nostalgia alone couldn’t save these pieces of fish from my biting review powers, which deemed them uninspired and lacking in taste and texture.  Later, I wanted to learn more about the variety of fish I ate, Perch, and stumbled upon the picture in the middle which does little in assuring me that I made the right choice for lunch.  Damn, I knew I should have got the steak sandwich!

Nick got an individual cheese pizza and an order of fries.  Either Nick’s usually hearty appetite didn’t show up in Waynesville, or he simply loathed the food, as he only finished about half of it.  He did make mention of there being too much sauce on the pizza, and that it was also a tad too sweet for his personal liking.  Adam got the chili spaghetti, which he appeared to be satisfied with for all intents and purposes.  Overall, in terms of food quality, our experiences ranged from acceptable to below average.

Near the counter I found a rack containing a variety of Christian themed books and pamphlets.  To my utter shock, there were also a couple religious comic books that floored me.  As depicted in the picture, I was temporarily astonished by this crudely drawn caricature of the mighty Samson, complete with loincloth and rock and roll red headband.

Ultimately, I enjoyed my experience, even if I couldn’t wholeheartedly recommend this place.  The food was tolerable, at best, but on the other hand the atmosphere was unique, and the service and price was swell.  The antiques aren’t the only things of a forgotten era in Waynesville, as places like this have become extremely uncommon, in our society where chain restaurants like Taco Bell and Subway outnumber these small homely places in a relentlessly major way.  These factors aside, they scored bonus points from me for schilling with a straight face comic book adaptations of bible stories – any place where I can get a decent piece of pie and an issue of Samson is okay with me.

Overall Grade: B- 

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Beast Raider - Warriors of the Savage toy

Beast Raider – ring any bells?  I hope not.  If you asked me a few weeks prior what I thought those words in conjunction meant, my first guess would have been the possible name of a bestiality website.  Although in reality these action figures aren’t quite that offensive, they’re certainly best enjoyed in private.  Nobody’s out there salivating over news tidbits regarding these, instead, they’re gathering dust on dilapidated store shelves.  If you’ve got a heart, surely you’d consider buying a few of these and freeing them from their plastic tomb, unleashing their mystery and adding them as morsels of joy in your sheltered life.  Or, you could just have them pillage and plunder your little sister’s collection of dolls – and in that case, bonus points for rebelliousness!  Per usual, I’m getting modestly sidetracked – let’s get focused on these toys.

Upon closer examining, the packaging is altogether confusing; a strange array of fantasy genre jargon containing not a single coherent thought is presented in the mess of text on the front.  The back is plain cardboard – I used it to draw a man with a funny mustache.  One thing those with a more trained eye, or just fellow pop culture geeks, will notice is that these are poor imitations of the much heralded He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series.  He-Man has a lot going for it, in that it not only had fantastically realized toys, but a brilliant animated series that spanned hundreds of episodes, a live-action film adaptation, and tons of other assorted merchandise.  The only thing Beast Raider has to offer is that you can add some of their meager toy offerings to your collection for a measly $1.99.  The question is, would you rather have an unhealthy burger for lunch, or own a sword-wielding psychopath with green tits?

Here’s what I can only assume is the lead villain of the series.  Going back to He-Man, this is an obvious homage to its beloved bad guy, Skeletor.  Upon doing some research, and no I’m not kidding, there’s actually one or two fan sites in existence for these, I found out he’s named BladeKiller.  Talk about unoriginality – it’s like the guys in charge of creative just put a punch of sci-fi and fantasy buzzwords on a wall and threw darts at randomly assembled words to use as potential names.  If talk around the water cooler can be trusted, apparently at last month’s corporate bachelor party for Edwin Michaels in accounting, the same geniuses threw strippers at the wall in a similar fashion.

BladeKiller strikes me as the kind of guy you don’t want to bum change off of.  His left hand is encased in gold armor, which is topped off by a hook-like blade that most assuredly isn’t used for horticulture.  If that’s not scary enough, from his ballsy (in terms of fashion) blue belt dangles three skulls.  This, mixed with the black cloak and lack of a stomach (where’d it go?) make this dude about as frightening as the prospect of watching your grandparents having sex.

His right-hand man is this goofball, lovingly named Slime, again by the aforementioned idiots.  Besides having a cliché villain alias, he’s also a weird amalgam, or hodgepodge if you will, of assorted genre staples.  From the goofily big teeth, to the metal combat boots, and overall dumb expression on his face, you know Slime’s role is to accidentally bungle his master BladeKiller’s plans for domination.  I’m sure he excels in this position.  Notice too, the gold bullets proudly adorned on his green torso.  These strike me as particularly odd, seeing as in all the Beast Raider toys nobody’s equipped with a gun of any kind – well, besides Slime’s affectionately dubbed “love gun”, but that’s neither here nor there.

Here’s the weapons and a shield that looks strangely like the generic ones polluting stores around Halloween time.  They’re all way too big and look overbearing when held by the figures, which is sort of endearing in its own unique way.

BladeKiller: I’m Bladekiller… bitch!

Slime: That line is so played out.  You’re not half as creative as Dave Chappelle, although you do like to quit in the middle of things like he does.

BladeKiller: This coming from an impotent imbecile with fin-ears and a serious case of overbite?  What’s the matter… was your Mommy fucking a walrus?

Slime: I hate being me.

Overall Grade: C 

Friday, June 2, 2006

Hungry-Man Sports Grill - Beer Battered Chicken

Although I eat more TV dinners than I’d personally like to admit, I rarely enter into the Hungry-Man domain.  Known by most for their large servings, I usually relate them more to their hefty price tag.  There’s also some mental imagery working there, most of which I’d rather not relive when I’m sitting down to eat.  I picture some lumberjack coming into his cabin after a hard day’s work, rocking the flannel like it’s going out of style, and stomping into the kitchen.  Ever since his wife perished – God bless her soul, he’s been too mournful to make proper meals, which results in this occasion in him ripping the freezer door right off the refrigerator.  Therein lies a Hungry-Man frozen meal and that’s when we get a close-up of the product, yell “cut!” and call it a day.  Now… that’s advertising!  I don’t have a fancy office where I spend more time looking at porn than spreadsheets like the average marketing executive, but I guarantee that commercial would make tons of money.

But not only did I decide to be risqué and lose my Hungry-Man virginity (not unlike the night in the backseat of that Toyota in ’96), I also took it decidedly one step further, venturing into their relatively new Sports Grill sub-category.  How’s that for balls?  Now, in the comfort of your own home, you can eat your favorite bar and grill favorites.  This should especially make your wife happy, since you won’t come home smelling like smoke after ogling obtuse breasts, but spend more time at home with the kids and the new toy she bought for Father’s Day.

I know little about beer and chicken’s paths crossing, but my curiosity is certainly getting the better of me.  I’ve dabbled in bear battered seafood once or twice, some shrimp at Red Lobster in the mid-90’s, and more recently, some fish at IHOP.  But, for some reason the concoction of beer and chicken teaming together seems to be sending my mind in a whirlwind of thoughts.  I daydream of chickens getting drunk momentarily, before focusing elsewhere on the meal’s other entry, potato wedges with cheese sauce!  Now that sounds a little more appropriate for sports bar fare, and shouldn’t be too hard to get right.

The picture of the frozen food looks downright ordinary now that I look at it; but, for some reason when I was taking this shot, I felt like I was peering at a baggie containing frozen human pieces.  Strangely, this illusion didn’t frighten me nearly as much as you might suspect – I think I watched too many Troma films while growing up.

My preconceived thoughts were that the food would likely be pretty tasty.  It doesn’t seem there’s a lot that can go wrong.  Although there were no major glitches, I wasn’t entirely satisfied after trying the food.  The picture is somewhat misconceiving – although it all looks nice and crispy, a lot of the food’s texture was quite the opposite.  Most of the chicken pieces were only dark on one side, the other side offering a weird wet white visage that didn’t strike me as pleasant or appetizing.  I found it hard to cut through a couple of the pieces with a fork, leaving me puzzled.  If you’ve never seen raw chicken before – it’s not an enticing sight, and that’s the mental image I fought with while trying to finish these.  The chicken had little flavor, especially in regards to its highly acclaimed beer battering.  The fries on the other hand weren’t too bad, although not spectacular; they did their part in saving the meal from being a total disaster.  There’s actually a lot more cheese than the photo suggests, and ultimately, I enjoyed snacking on these.

In conclusion, I went from being a hungry man to a humiliated one in short time.  The hoopla was unjust, as Hungry-Man strikes me as not wholly different than the multitude of substandard TV dinner producers on the market.  The Sports Grill concept is kind of a fun one, though; I applaud them for originality in that regard.  In the end, instead of stopping by the grocery on the way home from work, I envision most hungry men stopping by the bar, betting on professional football games, eating greasy food, making out with greasy women, and then finding their way back to the sanctity of home life.

Overall Grade: C+ 

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Review the World TV - Episode #1

The first ever episode of the original Review the World TV. RtW TV returned triumphantly in the Fall of 2011 but this is the original incarnation. RtW webmaster and creator Brian was often quoted as saying this original RtW TV most fully encapsulated the feeling of RtW he'd hoped to achieve.

This episode contains:

- The Search for Brian
- Ocean Paint Set
- Mario Kart Arcade GP
- Five Points Market (Hamilton, Ohio)
- Zone Wrestle Championship toy
- Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Fries
- Catapult Jet Fighters
- Q&A #1
- Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits