... A Sour Apple Tree

Your source for fast and/or frozen food reviews, Huntington and/or West Virginia commentary, rasslin' (not wrestling) nostalgia, bad parody, dumb satire, rejected slogans, pointless lists, unreliable sports predictions, and funny local pictures.

Name:
Location: Huntington, WV, United States

I'm a 37 year-old guy from Huntington, WV.

Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Appies (Food)

Local Restaurants
  • Best Local Fast Food: M & M Dairy Bell (Chesapeake, Ohio)

    OK, I promised Stanton that I would not blog about hot dogs on ...ASAT, so I won't focus too much on their FIVE WEENIE-RATED HOT DOGS. I will instead mention that they have everything that a small-town burger joint/hot dog joint/dairy bar in Appalachia should have. The service is superb, the food is fast, fresh, and tasty, and the ice cream is so cold that it hurts your teeth. To my fellow Moneyton Metro folks that haven't checked it out, drive across the Robert C. Byrd Bridge and hang a left at the light. M & M is on the left, next to the second stoplight. Go. Now. Read the rest later. It'll be here.
  • Best Local Sit Down Restaurant: Jim's Steak & Spaghetti (Huntington)

    Duh. Next.
  • Best Local Incredibly Freaking Slow But Still Worth It Food: Rocco's (Ceredo)

    Arguably the best Italian food in all of Flyover Country. They get bonus points for making my pregnant wife a real cannoli (and not the generic whip cream kind) since here Italian grandmother was in the Pacific Northwest. A real class act all around.

Grocers and Grocery Goods

  • Best Grocer (Mom 'n Pop Division): Julian's Market (South Side, Huntington)

    The prices are kind of high on cereal, tuna, mayonnaise, etc., but they have by far the best meat and deli departments in the Tri-State. The beef is always fresh and competitively priced and their homemade sausages make any future coronaries totally worth it. Add to that their deli fresh Lebanese foods (especially their hummus) and you have Huntington's best-kept secret.
  • Best Grocer (Supermarket Division): Food Fair (1st Street, Huntington)

    Let me start off by saying that they have FOUR KINDS OF CINCINNATI CHILI!. IF that isn't enough, they do double coupons and have lots of specialty items that Kroger and Walmart can't be bothered with. You still may have to go to one of those two every now and then, but Food Fair can meet most of your needs.
  • Best Store-bought Food: Dixie Chili

    While some consider Dixie to be the RC of Cincinnati-area chili parlors (with Skyline being Coke and Gold Star being Pepsi) I find the company to put out not only the finest canned Cincy chili, but also my favorite heat-'n-eat grub overall. It has a more subtle flavor than its competitors that works on spaghetti, cheese coneys, or as a pizza sauce (as I write this, I am eating a pizza that I made with Dixie instead of pizza sauce and cheddar in lieu of mozzarella).
  • Best Soft Drink: Coke Zero

    Until Coke Zero came along, I have never liked diet pop and I had the waste line to prove it. It turns out that Diet Coke has a formula based on New Coke (remember that atrocity?), but Coke Zero is essentially Coke Classic with a couple of artificial sweeteners. Coca-Cola had to wait for FDA approval on one of those sweeteners (which had been used in Europe for years without incident). Now its here, and not a moment too soon. Now if I can just get the Coke guy at Target to stock enough...
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Thursday, December 28, 2006

The 2006 Appies (Television)

In honor of this year's achievements (both positive and dubious), ...A Sour Apple Tree is proud to hand out the first annual Appies. Up first will be TV programming and news. More awards in other fields will be announced in the coming days.

Television Entertainment

  • Best Television Drama: Heroes (NBC).

    This show reminds me of some of the best of Stan Lee's oldskool comic book characters: normal, flawed, fallible people that have superpowers (and the related responsibilities) thrust upon them, sometimes unwillingly. It has more of the heart and spirit of the X-Men, for example, than does the recent movie trilogy. I can't wait until the show comes back in January.

  • Best Television Comedy: Tie, How I Met Your Mother (CBS) and 30 Rock (NBC).

    HIMYM gets a share of the award for being the first genuinely great comedy aimed at the late-Gen X/early-Gen Y crowd. The show is well-written and superbly cast (Neil Patrick Harris should get an Emmy at some point during the show's run).

    30 Rock started off as kind of a disappointment but has really grown on me. Tina Fey is one of the best comedy minds working today and Alec Baldwin shines in the part he was born to play (basically an amped-up caricature of himself). If this show can stay fresh, it just might be considered a classic someday.

  • Worst TV show: Smith (CBS).

    Thank goodness that this was a one-episode wonder. Ray Liotta's antagonist character wasn't an anti-hero, he was just downright unlikable. Why does everything that John Wells touches turn to crap? Just look at The West Wing after he took over. Crikey. He is the Michael Bay of television.

Television news

  • Best Local TV News Outlet: WSAZ.

    While WSAZ has numerous faults (the most common complaint on the blogosphere is that they are too chummy), they really don't have much competition here. But they tend to get it right more times than not and keep coverage of news events and political figures rather neutral.

    WCHS, on the other hand, has become something of a generic corporate sock puppet, although they should get credit for being the only local station to cover international news with any detail.

    WOWK comes across as sensationalistic and obsessed with pushing an agenda that is firmly to the right of the political center (don't worry, the Gazette will get their dozens for being too Democratic, too). Their employees also repeat the phrase "Live and Local" every 15 seconds, matching the Head-On commercial in repetitive annoyance. I bet Rick Dayton is contractually obligated to say the phrase every time he does anything, whether or not he is on the air: "Live and Local from the golf course, Rick Dayton hits the damn water hazard again" or "Live and Local from my front yard, Rick Dayton wishes his neighbor's dog would find somewhere else to crap" are things that he may or may not have said in the past year.

  • Best Local Television Personality: Jessica Ralston (WSAZ).

    Both of my regular readers will know that I think that Ralston is one of the best TV journalist to work in the Chas.-Hunt. market in quite some time. She has a delivery that is both matter-of-fact and likable. JR has the news-iness of Sandra Cole mixed with the personable nature of Tim Irr. Her promotion to the anchor chair of the My Z 10 o'clock newscast was well-deserved and hopefully we will see here in the anchor chair on one of WSAZ's newscasts soon. Also, some of the other bloggers have told me that she is kind of attractive, too (sure beats looking at Randy Yohe, anyway).

  • Worst Local Television Personality: Bray Cary (WOWK).

    As a talk show host, he sure makes for a great marketing executive. That being said, if I owned a TV station, would I put myself on the air? Probably. Would I fire anyone that told me that I shouldn't be on TV? Sho' 'nuff. Seriously, though, I think that Decision Makers would be a much better program if he handed the reigns over to his uber-conservative-yet-witty Boy Wonder, Chris Stirewalt, and Dee DeLancey, the newly-hired former lefty talk radio host.

  • Best Local Television Newcomer: Tie: Gina Long (WOWK) and Amanda Barren (WSAZ).

    Both of these newbies earned their chops at the prestigious EW Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and are quite on the ball when it comes to reporting and newsreading. Look for both to move on to bigger and better markets, so enjoy them while you can.

    (Note: Honorable mention goes to Will Jones (WSAZ). He is doing a great job picking up some of the more thankless stories that Channel 3 covers. Hopefully he will get more meaty pieces than pig farms in Scioto County or cute puppies in Mingo County or whatever.)

  • Worst Trend in Local Television Journalism: The publicized disputes with cable companies.

    This year, both WSAZ and WCHS played the victim card in their disputes with Time Warner and Suddenlink, respectively. It is one thing to run adverts and crawlers to alert viewers of the dispute, but the doom-and-gloom news reports flat-out crossed the line. Newscasts should not be used for self-referential, one-sided op ed bits on a conflict that isn't even real news in the first place.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

More cool science stuff

While we have all heard of the water-treading Jesus lizard, it looks like a Komodo dragon in England is now the Mary lizard.

The natural world never fails to amaze me.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You take the good, you take the bad.

The last few days have been full of ups and downs for Huntington.

THE BAD:

Stanbery has announced that it no longer plans to build an upscale strip mall at KineticPark due to lack of interest from potential tenants.

Right after the strip mall was cancelled, officials from various quasi-governmental agencies began passing the blame around like a blunt at a skate park. Was it the HMDA? The city? Stanbery? The retailers? The TTA?

I, too, have been pwned by this and other attempts to get the KineticPark project in gear. I was quite certain that Pullman Square was going to be a turd in the swimming pool while KineticPark would surely thrive, with its approximatity to the interstate and whatnot. As it stands, Pullman Square is helping to revitalize the downtown area while KineticPark is reminiscent of a Bluth Company project on TV's Arrested Development.

In the nearly ten years since the plan was announced, over 18 million dollars have been spent on what was intended to be a technology-oriented business park. As of December 2006, the location currently houses a Bob Evans restaurant, an accountant, and a dermatologist.

Can we start using the word "white elephant" yet? If so, maybe we can move the pink elephant on Rt. 60 to the site and paint it white as a reminder to think twice about future pie-in-the-sky ideas.

I think that I am being a bit too harsh. Battin' .500 ain't too bad and maybe (hopefully) something good does come out of it. It is just unfortunate that 18 million had to be flushed with little to show for the investment. I know this is not how grants/earmarks/pork projects work, but wouldn't it have been rad/a better use of money if just half of the KP money had gone to make Pullman Square even more bad-ass?

Ok, enough grouchiness. Now for...

The Good:

A company called PRC announced that it will be opening an inbound call center in the former Arch Coal building (it's the one on top of the hill by Dairy Queen and the old Ames, just off of the 5th St. exit of I 64). They say that they plan on hiring as many as 700 people over the next few months, which will be a welcome shot in the arm of the economy.

They have also indicated that they will pay more than the average wage of other area telemarketing/call center firm, which if memory serves me from my time as a employee of a couple of these companies during my college days, is probably about $7 or $8 per hour. This means that we can roughly estimate that they will be paying around $8 to $9 per hour. While for a single-wage family that figure really isn't enough to make ends meet, that wouldn't be too bad as a second income and it sure beats working in fast food for $6 per hour.

Also, We Are Marshall gets its national release on Friday. Although the movie is getting mixed reviews at best, there is always a large demand for movies where sports is used as a metaphor for triumph in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. Granted, the sports movie has become something of a cliché, but those of us in the Y-chromosome crowd are inevitably going to be sucked in by the flick and by all accounts W.A.M. does portray H-ton in a good light.

Overall, I'd have to say that this crop of news tilts to the good side, as We Are Marshall stands to generate millions of dollars worth of free publicity for the city and the university and 700 people from the Tristate will be able to put a little more food on the table come next year. These bits of good news more than make up for the failure of a strip mall that could have been seen in and of itself as a failure of a high tech park. Plus, it isn't like the city loses the land or anything. It'll still be there, waiting for the next potential tenant. By the way, I'm rooting for a Skyline Chili.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Charity Wars?

In the push to get holiday donations, it looks like Sally Ann has resorted to negative (albeit passive-aggressive) advertising by taking a swipe at Goodwill and United Way, both of which apparently do less good.

Just kidding. In all seriousness, give what you can to your favorite charities this holiday season.
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Sunday, December 17, 2006

But I can put it on my CV?

Time Magazine has named "You." as its 2006 Person of the Year.

Congratulations.

This means you. And me, too, I suppose.
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Thursday, December 14, 2006

RIP, Peter Boyle

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We Are Marshall green carpet media coverage...

As can be expected, WSAZ and WOWK gave extensive coverage to the We Are Marshall premier this evening. Here are some of the winners and losers from the event coverage.


  • Winner: The Families. The families of the crash victims were given the utmost respect throughout the process. The WSAZ interview with their sportscaster Keith Morehouse (who's father was on the flight) was particularly poignant. The media has done a good job telling their story with respect and dignity.
  • Loser: Tim Irr. He kept trying to give away key plot points in the movie.
  • Winner: Penny Moss. She kept Irr in check quite well. Her Clay Aiken-inspired mouth cover was welcomed by all of us at home.
  • Loser: Bill Murray. In his live report from the memorial at Spring Hill Cemetery, he picked up various items left at the marker by mourners. He should go to the Vietnam Memorial and see what happens if he tries that same little trick. Overall, it was a pretty shameless act of crassness from Murray, who is usually one of the market's top journalists.
  • Winner: Matthew Fox and Red Dawson. Fox had nothing but kind things to say about Dawson and the city of Huntington. Dawson showed the kind of class that might get him elected sheriff in '08 if he chooses to run.
  • Winner/Loser: Matthew McConaughey. This might be harsh, as he had nothing but kind words, but he seemed kind of tipsy. But he has been a cheerleader for the city and the university in recent days, so all is forgiven
  • Winner: Spencer Adkins. The little weatherman who could held his own interviewing the Hollywood big shots.
  • Loser: Joe Manchin. No one really believes that he is a Marshall fan.
  • Winner: Jessica Ralston. Further proved her anchor chops as she held down the fort in the newsroom.

Overall, pretty good coverage. I'd give it a B+.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, Scissor Sisters...

Scissor Sisters is a band out of NYC that have become something of a sensation throughout the world. They got their start in the gay disco scene of NYC and spread to Europe. They are now making inroads into Flyover Country, USA, and I'm gonna do my part to bring them to the Kyova area.

Their musical recipe is 3 parts BeeGees, 1 part ABBA, a dash of Prince and Elton John, and a whole lotta stuff you ain't heard before.

Here is the lead single off of their new album, Ta-Dah. It is called I Don't Feel like Dancin' and it was co-written with Sir Elton, who also plays keyboards on the track.

OK, enough crap, just enjoy:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are you ready for some Christmas?

I think we are.

The gifts are all purchased. They include a wide variety of thoughtfully-selected gifts for each person on our list.

The cards are in the mail, thanks to my wife. She is a machine with Xmas cards.

The menu is planned: rib roast, quiche, yorkie pudding, pears with maple syrup, and broccoli casserole are all some of the stars for the various holiday meals.

Santa, bring it on.
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Hey WSAZ

This isn't real news. Please stop treating it as such.

By all means, let people know about the problems that you are having negotiating a deal with Time Warner and how they are in fact being a bit unreasonable, but do not do so under the banner of news, either on your broadcasts or on your website.

At Marshall, I did not take any JMC classes but even I can spot when the line of journalistic integrity is being broached (or outright ignored).

You guys are respected professionals. Start acting like it.

(12/11/06 Followup: The first link is now dead. It was basically a news report about WSAZ and Time Warner's negotiations. The situation is now resolved and we can go on pretending like it never happened. That is, of course, until the next feud flares up between a local TV station and a cable company.)
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Adventures in cat ownership

My wife and I own three cats. Mind you, the number was supposed to be one, but they kept coming.

We got out first cat, Mosby, at a animal shelter in a rural county here in WV. He was just a tiny kitten that was found under a trailer somewhere and my wife chose him over several less-odd felines (he was obsessively burying messes in his litter box while his siblings whored it up for a home). He has a gray coat so, like every other gray cat belonging to a history major, he was named for a Confederate general.

Cat #2 is Masala, a tabby-ish cat that came straight from the mean streets of Huntington. People from Huntington have seen this same cat a thousand times over: a kinda-splotchy, kinda-stripey brownish-yellowish-orangish cat that blends in well with the brick houses and alleys of the city. She ran up our stairs one day and has stuck around ever since. She has an almost dog-like personality: she is very friendly (almost to a fault), responds to her name and to whistling, and is prone to knocking crap over in fits of excitement. She also puts up with our baby's hair pulling, tail tugging, and face smacking.

Rounding out the colony is Poofly, the pretty boy of the bunch. He is a small, long-haired tom with tuxedo markings that, as a kitten, survived some intense flooding underneath a Jr. High with his mom. He is Mo's side-kick, hanger-on, and loyal lackey. As far as people go, he likes me and no one else. He jumps in my lap often and demands affection, but ignores my wife, runs from the baby, and hides from company (often for days).

Well, a couple of nights ago, I stayed up late to watch the news and manage my fantasy football team. When I went to bed, my wife got up to take out her contacts. Within 30 seconds, I heard a shriek that could only mean on e thing: we had a mouse.

My wife is one of the bravest human beings that I have ever met. She handled a tough labor quite well, flourished academically in a masculine-dominated field, and has been known to make appliance salesmen and auto repair department managers cry when they try to rip her off on account of her gender. But she really really really hates feral mice.

I saw the mouse in our bath tub, so I got Mosby to go in there and take care of the problem. Mo is by far the best mouse catcher of the bunch, but he doesn't go for the kill. He would much rather carry the mouse around and torture it for a while. Well, he catches it, but he sets it down to bat at it and it gets away. So I am off to Kroger to get some glue traps.

I hit Kroger on 1st St, but they only have poison and snap traps. I always hurt myself on the snap traps and I really didn't feel like playing a two week game of "find the rotting poisoned mouse," so I drive to the Kroger by the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse. There I find the glue traps that I prefer (don't worry, I always kill the mouse right after finding it).

By the way, apparently the purchase of glue traps made my Kroger Plus card spit out a coupon for frozen vegetarian food products. I'm still scratching my head on that one.

Anyway, I get home and see that Poofly, the wussiest cat, has the mouse in his mouth. I'm pretty sure at this point that it must be dead, as he is too dumb and slow and fraidy to touch a live squeaker. He runs with it into another room and drops it on the floor, where he and Masala bat it around (Mo loses all interest in playing when the mice die).

I pick it up with a bag from Target and toss it in the trash bag, which immediately goes to the outside can. While my cats usually just get dry food for dinner in the evening, this night they got two cans of the Fancy Feast that I got them for such occasions.

And I got a lesson never to doubt the ability of these three cute kitties to turn into stone-cold killers.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Z TV

I am having mixed feelings about My Z TV:
  • Good-- Jessica Ralston and Amanda Barren deliver the news in a manner that is much fresher and hipper to someone of my age demo than any of the other area newscasts, even those on sister station WSAZ. By the way, remember the name "Jessica Ralston." She will be a star.
  • Bad-- In order to get the signal over the air, I have to purchase a pricey digital antenna.
  • Good-- They post their newscasts online.
  • Bad-- The way that WSAZ is handling their dispute with Time Warner Cable over the channel is muy tacky. While the commercials kinda irk me, it really chaps my arse when they report about it in the newscast. WSAZ already skips or skims over enough news; we don't need any more airtime to be sacrificed 'cause Gray Television and the big bad MNC can't play nicey-nice.
  • Good-- A Different World reruns.
  • Bad-- Crappy everything else.

Overall verdict: I kinda want My Z TV, but not enough to really do anything about it. I'll prolly just keep watching the 10 o'clock news from the previous night at my lunch break.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Huntington's city hall building

I was stopped at the light at the intersection of 8th St and 5th Ave and had a chance to take a good look at the architecture of our city hall. You know what? It's actually a very nice building.

But....

Boy is it filthy. It looks like it hasn't been properly cleaned in decades. It is a shade of post-industrial Rust Belt gray.

And those ugly blue-green panels. Yuck. I guess it was meant to be Moneyton's new emblem at some point in the past, but the design is helluh-dated and the panels are helluh-faded.

It really is time to clean up city hall (in the literal, not figurative, sense...I like the current administration). Just as soon as we pave roads, fix the sewer, sort out the pension issues, hire more cops, do something with KineticPark, fund the parks, solve the drug and crime problems...

OK, maybe pressure washing city hall isn't a top priority. But maybe cleaning it up would be a sign that we haven't given up all hope just yet.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Ancient Greek computer found

There has been much discussion about a 2100 year-old device found in a shipwreck near Greece nearly a century ago that scientists now believe was an early computer.

The ancient computer could accurately predict the location of the heavenly bodies on a given day and identify when solar eclipses would occur.

Despite these capabilities, archaeologists believe that the device was mostly used to download porn.

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