Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Clash - "What's My Name?" (1977)

I told you in the story!

The Knack - "Your Number Or Your Name" (1979)

You can call me "Gunther."  You can call me "8544."

Name And Number

Is my "real" name Gunther? No. Do I come from a long line of 8544s? Nah, I'm the first one with the attachment. The 40-year-old ink on my birth certificate means less to me than a cold plate of scrambled eggs and ketchup from Denny's. Perhaps it carries weight for a displaced drunk who peddles used clunkers somewhere in the Quaker State, but I've tipped the scales in favor of the "fake" handle since 1992 or so. What follows is a brief account of its origin.

Charged with the brain-dead task of verifying magazine orders, my friend David Beasley and I enjoyed the many lulls between dial-ups. We used the idle time to discuss music, surfing, tennis and female co-workers who struck our fancy. During an extended stretch of staring bug-eyed at our computer screens, I told Bease to come up with a cool alter-ego for me. After squaring the deal with a Discover magazine customer ("36 issues, right?"), my bud took note of the subscriber's first name and the last four digits of his phone number. Sandwiching the two, Bease arrived at my new identity ("Gunther 8544") and orated it for the first time inside the upstairs office at Touch Tone Marketing in Virginia Beach, VA. Within two weeks, I unveiled the fresh pseudonym for a tagged submission in the company's now-and-again newsletter. "Popcorn" was a pointed poem whose subtle verses concerned an unkempt woman with an 1800s fashion sense who lorded over the microwave with bags (Yes, plural!) of unpopped kernels. Presenting herself like a two-second extra from "Little House On The Prarie" who fell off a stagecoach, it was startling that "Pearlene" had advanced past Jiffy Pop preparations. I'd like to quote a couple lines, but the work has been lost to a BFI trash truck and history. Perhaps "Pearlene" still has a copy of said TTM issue, but it's doubtful the Okie-from-Norfolkie resides in Tidewater these days. Too bad, because I'd send her ten bags of Pop Secret in trade for the poem. Maybe a Mumford And Sons CD, too. It would remind "Pearlene" of the Top 40 songs from her youth that folks like Lewis and Clark hyped to death on podcasts.

Much thanks, Bease, for gifting me with a pen name I've used countless times in composition and conversation. Also, a special salute to longtime friends who've accepted me as "Gunther" without further inquiry.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Turtles - "Food" (1968)

Pickle Dogs!

Village People- "Food Fight" (1981)

Quite possibly the greatest song ever recorded about the subject.

Food Fight

Steak tartare has to be one of the worst entrees you could possibly eat. I'm guessing the caveman concoction of beef and eggs in their rawest form costs more than a large Papa John's pizza with unlimited toppings and decorates the menus of the most hoity-toity of eateries. If this were my last meal in prison, I'd instruct the guard to remove the offending plate and load my mouth with the intense heat of tasty bullets.

For those who have yet to sample the "cheese"-coated crunch of Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos, please save your pesos for the superiority of a sit-down Mexican restaurant or food truck. This past Saturday, I visited a Taco Bell/KFC hybrid joint in the Ocean View section of Norfolk, VA. I hadn't eaten tacos or burritos from the place in a great while, and the respective items in my combo meal maintained their mediocrity from earlier trips. As I took the first bite of the Loco Taco, one thing was readily apparent: The shell had about as much crunch as Erik Estrada crooning a Dionne Warwick number. Unless Doritos has a new flavor called Toe Cheese, any likeness in taste with the original product went undetected by my palate. The orange coating did not resemble the "Dorito Dust" I'm used to licking from my fingers. Rather, it took on an appearance of the gritty powder used to coat the vomit of elementary school kids with nervous stomachs. If your drunken ass has to make a 3 AM "Run for the Border," stick with the original hard tacos. Don't believe the hype generated by what I refer to as "The Black Keys of Fast Food."

As I've mentioned in previous musings, KFC has been on my shitlist for a number of years. I wish I were nervy enough to position myself outside the Main Street location in Suffolk wielding a "BRING BACK BIGGER PIECES!" protest sign. Against my better judgment, I ordered a newfangled Chicken Little sandwich and a side of potato wedges to complement the Taco Bell offerings. KFC's Chicken Littles from the 1980s were tasty sliders with an equally pleasing 39-cent price point. These updated versions, however, are wider and cost nearly four times more ($1.29). Served with pickles and mayo, the presentation is a half-hearted attempt to clone the unbeatable deliciousness of Chick-fil-A's shining star. That said, I can appreciate a good copycat. Great Value's Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, in particular, has spent several sessions in my microwave oven. If KFC is your only dining option,order the Chicken Littles over the miniscule breasts, legs and wings. Prepare to pound 6-8 of 'em!

The legend of the hot dog pie began inside the Thorntons' kitchen during their 2012 Labor Day cookout. Eyeing the two dozen or so frankfurters in the silver tray, Matt Mcgrath channeled his inner Jani Lane and mixed in some Weird Al for maximum comedic effect. Paraphrasing: "It's my hot dog pie/Got mustard on your face/That's no lie!/Beans and cheese/Such a nice surprise/Sweeeet hot dog piiiie!!!" Even funnier was Matthew O'Keefe's confirmation of hot dog pie as an actual dish. A co-worker of his had prepared one for a potluck, and the facing crust was cross-stitched a la the finest apple and cherry confections. Because Matthew was unable to secure a slice on the clock, he couldn't confirm the exact ingredients. That meant nothing to us, for we three were ready to construct and bake our own hot dog pie right then and there. But alas, our requests for a ride to Food Lion in search of Pillsbury crust or biscuit dough went unheeded. After four hot dogs, three hamburgers, two generous helpings of Denise's best-ever pasta salad and nine of Sue's wonderfully dusted cake-like cookies, could there have been any room in my stomach for hardy experimentation? Does Joey Chestnut crave another Nathan's mustard belt on Independence Day?

7-Eleven is my new favorite Chinese place. Why? Because the in-and-out store has been offering egg rolls amongst the Big Bite and pizza stand-bys. My friend/cabbie Pete and I have become regulars at the Godwin Blvd. stop in Suffolk. The amicable cashier always knows what we're craving, and the scrumptious egg rolls make for a most satisfying snack. If you've ever bitten into one at 3:22 AM after a night of kicking out the jams, you can appreciate this pedestrian form of "Chinese Rocks." Best song I've heard under the gasoline bay thus far? The English Beat's "Mirror In The Bathroom." While getting our grub on recently, I tried explaining to Pete the similarities between Howard Jones' "No One Is To Blame" and Alanis Morissette's "Ironic." Girl ripped the dude off! Pete didn't see it my way, but that's OK. The egg roll education is a continuing process.