... 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.

Location: Huntington, WV, United States

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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

What, exactly, did Posh do, anyway?

In honor of the impending Spice Girls world tour, I implore everyone to spice up their lives.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Wanna hear a grown man have a behavior?

Sure ya do.

Stroll on over to West Virginia Public Broadcasting's blog and check out Scott Finn's interview with Russell Sobel, author of Unleashing Capitalism: Why Prosperity Stops at the West Virginia Border and How To Fix It. When Finn brings up that someone could plausibly think that the book might have a political agenda, Sobel goes into a tizzy comparable to those of an ADHD 10 year old who has been told that he has to do his homework before riding his dirt bike. He also suggests that anyone who disagrees with his hard fact findings must be a Marxist or an idiot.

First, let me say that I agree with Sobel that the state's economic situation is indeed dire and there needs to be some dramatic overhauls to the way the folks in Chucktown conduct the state's business. However, coming from a social science background. let me tell you that anyone claiming to produced definitive, beyond-reproach research on the nature of human behavior on the individual or societal level is probably full of shit. This isn't just for Sobel and his hard-core supply-side homies. Same goes for some of my professors at Marshall and in England who occupied a chunk of the loony left (this especially goes out to the Marxist who thought I was a racist for agreeing with MLK instead X & Farrakhan. Sheesh.). People are not chemical compounds or waves of energy. There are no laws or absolutes, just pieces of a continuously evolving dialogue. If anyone tells you otherwise, smile politely and tell them you think that you left your coffee pot on and have to leave.

My guess is that ol' boy is used to sycophant grad students and softball questions from the like-minded folks at Decision Makers and doesn't quite know how to deal with those of a differing opinion in a civil manner (this is increasingly a trend on both sides of the isle). People do indeed need to read this book (my copy is on order) and need to start having a serious discussion on what this state needs to do to make it a slightly less crap-tastic place to work and do business. Sobel doesn't need to poison his own well by claiming the authority of an Ayatollah or flying off the handle in the face of opposition.

Serenity now, people. WV is counting on it.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lame WPBY DTV update for June 27, 2006

WPBY, the PBS station for Huntington and Charleston, has fiddled a bit with its digital transmission. Create is now on the brand-new 33.2 subchannel and the HDTV national feed is now on 33.3 (Create's former home) and, at least for the time being, still on 33.4.

More updates as my couch potato ass gets them...

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Shameless plug for Coca-Cola

OK, Coke fans, this is your week. Several stores in Almost Heaven has Coca-Cola product 12-packs on sale until Saturday:
  • Kroger has Coke 12-packs 4 for $11 & buy 4, get 1 free (essentially 5 for $11)
  • WalMart has 'em for $2.50 each
  • Food Fair is 4 for $11 with 3 free 2 liters when you buy 4.

With these prices, you can afford to introduce a little variety into your soda routine. I would recommend Vault Zero and Coke Zero Vanilla, for what it is worth.

Since you are stocking up, this is also a good time to sign up for My Coke Rewards. Inside most fridge packs and bottle caps, you will find a 12 or 15 digit code. After registering your account, you can enter up to ten codes per day and eventually earn some pretty nifty rewards. In terms of quality-of-swag, this is prolly the best rewards program this side of the now-defunct Camel Cash. I, personally, am saving up for the Wii (if my kidneys can hold out).

With mega savings and cool rewards, (warning, lame double entendre ahead) Coke hasn't been this much fun since the 80s .

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Huntington eats Benny's right outta town.

I went to Pullman Square today to check out Benny's Cheesesteak, but it turns out that they ran out of food!

Wow, I hope that they actually do re-open on Monday, but pardon me if I don't hold my breath until then.
Update: Benny's is indeed open today (Monday). Whew.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Digital TV reception in Huntington, WV: June 2007

Here are the analog and digital television stations that I can currently receive using a rather basic set-top VHF-UHF antenna in Huntington, WV as of June 2007:

  • 3-WSAZ (NBC), Analog. The signal is very clear.
  • 3.1-WSAZ (NBC), Digital, High Def when available, essentially rebroadcasts channel 3. Gets almost perfect reception 99% of the time; the only problems are during very bad storms.
  • 3.2-MyZ (My Network TV), Digital, Standard Def. Great reception.
  • 8-WCHS (ABC), Analog. Rather bad signal. Antenna manipulation is usually needed to make the programs watchable.
  • 11-WVAH (FOX), Analog. Same as WCHS in the signal department, but a tad bit worse.
  • 13-WOWK (CBS), Analog. Good reception most of the time.
  • 13.1-WOWK (CBS), Digital, High Def when available, essentially rebroadcasts channel 13. This channel sometimes requires the antenna to be moved around a bit to get the best reception. It has a great picture for HD, but when showing standard definition programs, there is a weird offset with an overhang from the right side of the picture on the left side of the screen. The channel is also prone to skitching out during any sort of cloudy weather event.
  • 13.2-Digital, Standard def live transmission of WOWK's Doppler radar. Also showed some alternative games in SD during March Madness. As with 13.1, sometimes requires some antenna tweaking. since it is just a weather map, however, perfect reception is not exactly necessary.
  • 17-Home Shopping Network, Analog.
  • 33-WPBY (PBS), Analog. Usually has very good to excellent reception.
  • 33.1-WPBY (PBS), Digital, Standard Def. Pretty good signal, but the 33.#s seem more prone than others to completely blank out for no apparent reason.
  • 33.3-Create, Digital, Standard Def, Shows mainly cooking and DIY programs from PBS. Same signal strength as 33.1.
  • 33.4-WBPY HD, comes from a national feed of HD TV format shows. Schedule usually (but not always) differs from main channel. The channel comes in perfectly 67-75% of the time, but it seems more prone to scrambling than the SDTV digital channels from WPBY. Program content is also heavily repeated, as PBS only seems to have a few things to show. That being said, the ability to watch HDTV episodes of Nova, BBQ U, nature documentaries, and Sesame Street is one of the few recent incidences where TV has actually enhanced the quality of life for me and my family.
  • 44.1-WTSF (Daystar) Digital, Standard Def. Christian channel. Is affiliated with channel 61.
  • 61-WTSF (Daystar) Analog Christian channel.
Note: Our analog-only TV in the bedroom can sometimes receive faint-but-tolerable signals on channels 25 (KET), 29 (ion) and 30 (The CW) and can also get a better signal for WVAH.


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Compromise and move on...

Once again, Huntington's Third and Fourth Estates have decided to get all worked up over a trivial spat in order to distract attention from demographic and infrastructural meltdown. This time it is a argument between Mayor David Felinton and Marshall University. Marshall wants a couple of old alleys so that they can build on what is now city property. The Marshall Board of Governors want to pay $10,000 for the strips of land, while City Hall wants $97,000.

Don't misunderstand me. I am a big Marshall guy. I think that, with the right growth strategy, we can be on par academically with area universities like WVU and maybe even Ohio University and both the health center and the engineering school (the two projects that would need the alleys) would go a long way to make those once-pipe dreams a nearer reality. This deal, however, would prove to be something of a raw deal for the city and the permanent residents of Huntington.

Felinton is totally in the right to demand a fair market value on these alleys. With a massive budget crunch and little economic relief in site, it would be foolhardy for the city to start dishing out tracts of public land to Marshall and the hospitals without residents getting something to show for it. Huntington should take no less than 40 large for the alleys.

That being said, I hope this gets settled quickly. Huntington should get what it has coming from Marshall, but should also remember that the city needs infrastructure, jobs, and people to survive in the 21st century and The Herd can and will play a big part in any future economic miracle. So to Felinton, get what you can and to the BoG, give what is fair (probably around $45-50K sounds about right to me). Then get on with the business of getting Huntington off of the nation's D-list.

UPDATE: Check out the story chat/comments section of this article from the HD. You can see the split between the Marshallites and the natives and read as the Pro-Felinton and Anti-Felinton factions call each other names.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Benny's Cheesesteak is now open.

The HD is reporting that Benny's Cheesesteak (check out the link for a menu and some background) has opened its door at Pullman Square.

Hopefully ...ASAT will get a chance to get down there in the next couple of weeks to check it out. When we (ok, I) do, you'll be the first to know my take on their steak.

If anyone beats me down there, let me know how well the joint is doing.

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Charlestonians set to pay extra to be recorded while picking their noses.

I just saw something on WSAZ about newly re-mandated/apathetically non-rejected Charleston Mayor Danny Jones planning to double the user fee so that CCTV cameras can be installed throughout the city. Here are some things to avoid doing while walking around A Brave New Charleston:

1) Nose picking.
2) Wedgie picking.
3) Zit picking.
4) Generally anything with the word "picking" in it.
5) Peeing behind a bar.
6) Trolling for hookers and/or crack.
7) Bribing a legislator.
8) Smoking a doober behind the dumpster where you work.
9) Flipping off cops.
10) Digging through your neighbor's trash.

So to Charlestonians who enjoy any or all of these activities, I invite you to move to Huntington where all of these things can be witnessed on a daily basis and are generally ignored by the public at-large.

Seriously, we gotta keep a population of 50 Large to keep receiving the mad Federal cash to build seven more KineticParks.

We'll take anyone.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

WV PBS giveth, WV PBS taketh away

Well, as of Sunday morning, the three digital PBS channels have gone bye bye. My TV is still getting some sort of signal, as it hasn't auto-deleted them, but all three have been a black screen for over 24 hours.

The kicker is that this shutdown comes right in the middle of a fund drive and I was finally going to send them a $50 check as a thank you for finally activating Huntington's digital feed. Not bloody likely, now, though, unless they show me the HD before the pledge drive is finished.

Update: The channels are back. I didn't really do anything special, but they came back online about 6 PM or so. Too bad that I already spent that $50 on beer and action figures (Demolition and Abdullah the Butcher).

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Slowest. Day. Ever.

According to my sitemeter, this is about the slowest day traffic-wise for the blog...and I couldn't be happier. It is waaaaay to purty of a summer day to waste timing hangin' out at some crappy blog about roadkill and digital TV in a medium-sized market. Get out and enjoy the rest of the day!

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm gonna go singe off my eyebrows on the charcoal grill.


Friday, June 15, 2007

...ASAT trolls country music.

Here is a semi-random samplin' of some of my favorite country tunes of the past 75 years.

The Carter Family, "Can the Circle be Unbroken" --- Along with Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil and Kool DJ Herc looping of percussion beats, the recording of this particular song is one of the most important moments in the history of American popular music. Before "Circle," guitars kinda hung out in the background with other instruments, for the most part, in popular music recordings. Mother Maybelle, accompanied by A.P. Carter's innovative arrangements and and Sara Carter's angelic voice, brought the guitar to the forefront and paved the way for acts as diverse as P-Funk, The White Stripes, Metallica, Gretchen Wilson, and that Taiwanese kid on YouTube.

Patsy Cline, "Crazy" ---Decades before the development of emo music, Patsy Cline was the unquestioned queen of the saddies. Of all of her songs about loss and heartbreak, her rendition of this Willie Nelson song is my personal favorite. If it doesn't initiate some sort of emotional response, then you might want to check a mirror to see if you still have a reflection.

Waylon Jennings, "Good Ol' Boys" --- Granted, the theme to The Dukes of Hazard has become a bit cliche for some purists to mention in arbitrary lists such as this, but to them I say "up yours, cracker." Anyone that has ever drank moonshine, shot rats at the dump, or that knows that it is damn near suicide to try to keep 'tween the yeller lines when coming off of Kennison Mountain knows what I am talking about.

George Strait, "Carrying your Love with me" --- Let me say upfront that I am a sucker for any song that mentions "West Virginia" in the lyrics. this is especially true for this tune, where Strait could have easily sung "from Virginia down to Tennessee" just as easily, but went ahead and threw in that extra syllable that made all of the difference. Frankly, any song by Strait leans towards greatness and I predict that, in 100 years, he will still be remembered and enjoyed long after acts like Rascal Flats and even the great Garth Brooks are forgotten curiosities.

Dixie Chicks, "Long Time Gone" --- In recent years, it seems that politics have overshadowed the music of the Chicks, with the coastal liberal media folk heaping praise upon them without actually listening to their music and the Idiot America crowd chastising them for having the audacity to exercise their freedom of speech. Both sides cited them in an effort to "divide and conquer" in order to ensure that they got that critical 50% +1 that was sure to be the margin of victory in 2004. The Kerry campaign paraded them around the blue states to raise awareness (and cash) while Bush lashed out at them in order to help solidify his base's support of his wacky misadventures in the Fertile Crescent. What became lost in the brain droppings of both sides, however, was the fact that Home was one of the best country albums in quite some time. The 1990s saw country drift away from its bird-flippin' outlaw roots towards a corporate, conformist, white-bread sound that relied heavily on tired bumper sticker cliches, sophomoric jingoism, and lame-assed puns. In this cover of a Darrell Scott song, Maines, Robinson, and Maguire lament how Nashville has lost its way but also give hope to fans of a rebirth of the music that made our grandparents tap their toes every Saturday night.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hittin' the reset button: August 1, 1981

The first in a series, from time to time ...ASAT will take a look back at some of the days that changed everything.

You've heard the story of MTV's first moments about a bazillion times, so I won't bore you with the details, but here is the first video ever played on MTV, thanks to YouTube and Universal Music. It really speaks for itself.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

...ASAT food review: Burger King's BBQ Bacon TenderCrisp

Last November, a friend of mine told me that BK was test marketing a new TenderCrisp sandwich with bacon and barbeque sauce and I nearly peed my pants with excitement. You see, I would rate the TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch sandwich from a couple of years ago as among the five or six greatest American culinary achievements of all time (and the commercial was among the best TV adverts ever made, to boot).

Well, today was the day when I finally got to try the new BBQ Bacon TenderCrisp and, I must say, I was mildly disappointed.

I guess my biggest complaint would be the lack of cheese. I paid $3.81 after tax, and for that amount BK could certainly drop a slice of cheddar or pepperjack on there to go with the bacon. The zing of cheddar was part of what made the TCBCR so special, and I really missed it on this sandwich.

Everything else about it was fine, and it really is a pretty good sandwich. I guess it all comes down to this: the Bacon Cheddar Ranch was sooooo delicious, why would anyone pull it from the menu in favor of half-assed rehashes.
To Burger King: thanks for trying, but knock it off and bring back the TCBCR right now!

Or at least pony up for some cheese.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

WV's other state flower...

With all due respect to the Rhododendron, my personal favorite wild-growing flower in West Virginia are those orange lilies that you see all along state highways from late spring to early summer. Folks usually call them tiger lilies, but I think that they are actually Carolina lilies (if anyone knows for sure, please clue me in). Here are a couple of photos that I snapped today while traveling about:

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Nelson Mandela, she ain't

TMZ.com is reporting that Paris Hilton has been released from jail and will now be placed on home confinement due to an unspecified medical condition.

My guess is that she chipped a tooth.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Crappy web round-up

From time to time, instead of a real blog post, ...ASAT dumps some craptastic links in your lap. Enjoy.

Dateline: Seattle---Pray for your favorite Starbucks baristas today. They're gonna be forced to listen to Paul McCartney's new album in a continuous loop all day today. Poor bastards.

Dateline: Washington---A federal appeals panel told the FFC and the Bush administration to "fuck off" regarding a policy where stations could be fined for airing so-called "obscene language." Basically, if Bush and Cheney (the swearingest Presidential battery this side of Harry Truman) can blurt out words like "asshole" and "go fuck yourself" when mics are around, the FCC cannot fine broadcast outlets for "fleeting expletives." Of course the social conservatives are in a tizzy with they're usual routine about families and how they, not me, know what is best for mine.

Personally, I think the feds have had it all backwards all along. They allow "bitch" and "god damn," both of which are much more offensive than the taboo "shit." Meh, this is probably why everyone ('cept me, apparently) has XM and cable TV.

Dateline: London---The organizing committee for the London 2012 Olympics spent $800,000 to create this logo. Meanwhile, a bunch of BBC.co.uk readers photoshopped a bunch of better emblems (#6, a play on the London Underground logo is my fave) in about a half-hour's time.

Dateline: Rostock, Germany---The same re-re's that got my wife teargassed on her way to work a few years back in Seattle are out in full force ahead of the G8 to remind everyone why no one really wants anarchy or a revolution of the proletariat.

Dateline: Chicago---You'd think that a wealthy energy executive could hire a non-shitty divorce lawyer. Instead, his wife hit 'em up style for damn near $200 million.

Dateline: Ottawa---Once again a Canadian team is on the verge of losing the Stanley Cup to an American team from a market where most people could give two shits about hockey. Remember how we felt those two years that Toronto had the World Series trophy? Well, that his how our well-mannered friends to the north have had to deal with for over a decade now.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

...ASAT trolls The B-52's

Today, one of ...ASAT's favorite party bands, The B-52's, gets a crappy retrospective.

"Rock Lobster": First up is an early live rendition (complete with more cowbell). You can tell that it is still a relatively new song, and Fred and the band are all kind of tentative as to how to get things started. There are also of different lyrics than later version. And damn, don' t they all look so young? A few years later, some record producers got hold of it, polished it up, gave it a Rhode Island School of Design-eque video, the song took off, and kinda-sorta helped to invent the alternative genre of music, thereby making it one of the most important (if not exactly one of the best) songs of the past 30 years.

"Private Idaho": No, Gus Van Sant didn't coin the phrase "My own private Idaho" to represent a person's isolated, delusional dreamworld/mind bucket. Nope, that'd be The B-52's.

"Monster": In 1984, Fred Schneider decided to put together a solo album called Fred Schneider and the Shake Society. Of the tracks on the disc, "Monster" is probably the most well-known. Its video features Fred (wearing a lambskin) and some phallic cartoon characters warning Ru Paul and Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth of a monster in his pants.

Cosmic Thing: Apparently, the only song from this great album that is till known by radio station programming directors and friends that make mix cds for me is "Love Shack" (tiiiiiiiiiiiiin roof, rusted"). While I, like everyone born between 1964 and 1981, enjoys the occasional shack attack, there are two songs on the album that are, quite frankly, better:

"Deadbeat Club" reflects on their early days in Athens and as always stuck me as something of a tribute to former guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDS in 1985.

"Roam" is by far my favorite B-52's song. The vocals are performed by only Kate Pierson (who really gets a chance to show her chops) and Cindy Wilson, while Fred's role is limited to mugging for the camera in the video. The song is, at least at the surface, about traveling the globe and experiencing life from a perspective and a place different from your own, in doing so creating a response to the existentialism expressed in fellow Athenians REM's classic "Stand." I think it was this song that first planted the seeds in my mind that would eventually lead to me studying abroad for a semester in college, one of the most valuable experiences of my life (it was even used in a PSA for student exchange). The song, especially when listened to next to "Monster," also proves that Fred needs Kate, Cindy, and Keith a whole helluva lot more than they need him.

They have done stuff since Cosmic Thing, but their later work has really just amounted to one crappy album (Good Stuff) and two lazy covers of cartoon theme songs (Rocko's Modern Life and The Flintstones). Fortunately, it appears that, during their concerts, they stick to the classics and venture very little into their mediocre work.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

The economy MUST be doing better.

Having taken exactly one business class since high school, I'm not exactly well-versed in the language used by those that analyze the various indicators of success and failure in an economy. Rather than trying to figure out what my friends from the Lewis College of Business are saying, I've come up with my own personal indicator of how well the economy is doing. Basically, it seems that quality of service at retail outlets and restaurants is inversely related to the overall quality of the economy.

Think about it. A few years ago when the economy was stagnant, you got great service. That guy that measured your foot at the shoe store had a MA and now works at a consulting firm. The girl at the toy store that helped you pick a doll for your friend's newborn in 2002 just graduated from law school.

In 2007 the economy is now doing quite well, despite downturn in the housing market and the gasoline crunch, and service has since languished. Educated folk can now get the middle class-upper class jobs that they spent 4-7 years cramming for in college. Meanwhile, the flex-shift $5-$7/hour have fallen to people that would not have been as readily considered a few years ago. Hell, some of them are even managers now.

In other words, the cost of getting that fat raise and having a booming 401k is getting charged twice for a box of granola bars at the store or getting 3x more mayo on your burger than any human would ever desire.

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