July 3, 2007


AND I HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE, since Mr. Husband TOTALLY fixed my LIFE (read: computer). He is a genius and great and perfect. I, meanwhile, woke up as sour as the very devil. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Here in Powder Springs, where we are being slowly overtaken by DOOM (by which I mean, chain restaurants) and you regs remember how I cried when Mexican Thai Castle closed…it was like the day the music died around here. We were singing,

BYE BYE Bean Burritoes with Thai
Took my Kia to eat MiKrob
But the well had run dry
“Where else can I get spring rolls, side of nachos,” I sigh,
Etc etc

But HEY at least I can spit in ANY direction---north, south-east or west, and (assuming I can clear the MILLIONS of housing development signs on every corner) I can hit a CHILI’s. *weep*

I love the city.
I love the country.
I cannot love the suburbs, and I am now officially living in one. I cannot move because I LOVE my church my kids love their school, I love my house, we all love our friends, etc etc etc – we have roots here in this little town, LONG ones, and yet a SUBURB has crept out and grown over it like MOSS until I can barely see the town any more. It’s the kind of place now where your crazy Uncle Abner would have to go to the nervous hospital. When we first moved here, you could have still let him live on the porch. Because everyone would have KNOWN it was just Crazy Abner, a little drool-y, perhaps, a little google-eyed, but essentially harmless.

It’s now a place where Boo Radley would never never never come out.

BUT! A ray of hope! In the old building where Mexican Thai Castle used to live, SEAFOOD SOIREE just opened. It is our new favorite place ever. The food is like--- I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico, so understand when I say this, I mean it in the BEST possible way – the food is like what you would get at a Church Fish Fry. PERFECT flaky delicious crisp fried fish and shrimp with hushpuppies or a REALLY good salad or SPICY sautéed mixed veggies or other stuff. They have chicken fingers and sautéed shrimp for CRAZY PICKY WEIRDOS who don’t like church fish fries, and mahi mahi and salmon if you are JUST that fancy. They have WiFi and TV and funky shaped tables and sofa seating.

It's hard to spot. We never would have known it existed if they hadn't put a chalkboard sign out on the sidewalk that said, simply, "FISH AND BEER," a combinaton of magic words that caused my husband's foot to AUTO-SMASH down onto the brakes.

The also have LIVE JAZZ on Friday nights, a total DATE NIGHT vibe, but are also rather family friendly and owned by a local couple the SHE of which runs the front and the HE of which is a COOKING GODLET. One of their small people brought us lemons last night. If you live anywhere around here YOU MUST GO. It is in the same building with the used bookstore slash coffee shop. GO. EAT THERE. You WILL go back if you go once.

And LORD KNOWS we could use some locally owned places with the kind of food that you can’t GET anywhere else.

To digress, and whine more --- I get how an Applebee’s has an hour long wait list for sloppy gross food that never comes the way you order it and tastes like plastic mannequin butt even if it does, served by a sullen critter with a lot of metal posts in her face while MEANWHILE, a hidden a gem of a local place struggles – I think it must be TV? Because the food looks good on TV and the commercials remind you it exists? But HOW ON EARTH is there an Applebee’s SURVIVING on Times Square, surrounded by some of the best food in the universe? It’s ALL tourists, quite frankly, so they don’t even have the local “We just wanted to grab a quick bite” excuse. I SERIOUSLY think if you VISIT New York and EAT AT APPLEBEE’S you WILL be sent to hell for it, come judgment day.

I would rather see people courting painful death by making getting a meal from the STREET NUT CARTS or POISONOUS LAMB OF SALMONELLIC DOOM GRILLED SAMMICH STANDS. ANYTHING but sit down and order from the same menu they could have ordered from without shelling out the air fare and paying several hundred dollars a night to live in a hotel cube the size of a BORG sleeper cell. I see tourists streaming into that Applebee’s in their flip flops and I HEART MANHATTEN T-Shirts, and I weep.

Man I amSO grumpy today.

I want to go live in Fairhope Alabama. AND RAISE MINI GOATS.

Scott asked me what the goats would do, like what would their JOBS be, and I quoted my friend Sara and said, "They would be full time employees charged with eating cereal from the hands of children in an enthusiastic manner."

I think this is a good job for a goat to have. I might like that job myself, the mood I am in today. I am going to shut my pie hole and slouch around grumbling to myself instead of whinging at you nice people, NOW, before you decide to drown my grumpelous self like too many kittens.

Posted by joshilyn at July 3, 2007 11:09 AM

I totally agree on the eating of Applebees in Times Square. Many years ago my grandparents were in Colorado on their way across country (starting in Portland, OR) attending baseball games. I wanted to take them to dinner. I gave them a short list of restaurants that I thought would give them something a little different. What did my grandmother want? Spaghetti Factory. Because they had one near their house and there's one in Denver. WHY would we go anywhere else? Why indeed.

As for Fairhope, that would be lovely. But I'm not sure you're safe there either. I've heard tale of a Pottery Barn in Spanish Fort.

Posted by: Catherine at July 3, 2007 11:26 AM

I totally get what you mean about chain restaurants in cities with good food. I had a former boss who loved Houstons. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some Houstons too (especially the FRIES!). But he ate at Houstons THREE TIMES while he was in New Orleans. THREE TIMES! While he was in New Orleans!! ARGHH!

I think you should run out to Yellow River Game Ranch today and let a goat eat out of your hand. I think it will make you feel better.

Posted by: Leandra at July 3, 2007 11:27 AM

Goodness, I don't even eat at Applebee's at home! I used to have a rule that I wouldn't eat anywhere that had outlets in more than two cities, but my favorite place for fish tacos went and opened in a third city and I broke my durn rule. OH and I had kids and the Cocos on the corner became a GODSEND.

Posted by: Jennilynn at July 3, 2007 12:03 PM

My quaint little town has been suburbanized, too. Costco is useful, to be sure, and Target comes in handy, but I sure miss The Nail Jail that was in an actual old jail. So, I hear you sister.

Posted by: Mel at July 3, 2007 12:15 PM

Here's the thing that really bugs me about chain restaurants--we have Red Lobsters in RI. WHY would you eat chain-restaurant seafood in New England? WHY??? But people do. We also have Olive Garden and other Italian chains. Again, WHY?? When you can get some of the best Italian food here? I can't imagine visiting the Southwest and eating in Chili's. I Just.Don't.Get It.

We did eat in some chain restaurants on our last "vacation" up the road to Boston, but that's because we had the kids with us. We needed predictability and food right near T stops or our hotel. But when they're older...no more of that.

Posted by: amy at July 3, 2007 12:22 PM

My husband just wept tears of joy when I mentioned there was a place where he could have "Church style fish/hush puppies and JAZZ!"

It's definitely a haul for us to get there, on a Friday night no less. traffic.....shudder.

But it MUST be done and I am willing to throw safety and caution to the wind to support the "LOP"s of this world.

I'll just have to bring a posse with me...the mroe the merrier!

Posted by: Lisa at July 3, 2007 12:24 PM

Three things:

1) When I used to travel both domestically and to London many times each year for work I had a rule for all of my staff that they were to eat at least one of their meals each day somewhere they couldn't find at home. (My personal rule was all meals, although I did get Burger King in London once when I needed a comfort food moment. I was weak!)

2) I like corporate food when one needs complete predictability from their meal. But that should only be seldom and should feel just a wee pinch dirty while doing it!

3) this kid (just caught him in a park all random and such) so knows how you feel!:


Administer Chocolate Immediately!

Posted by: Femtastic at July 3, 2007 12:31 PM

today's the PERFECT day to go see Sicko.
save a good-humored day for something more lighthearted. Sicko will make you forget there was ever an Applebees anywhere.

I brought Elise yesterday (11 years old) when the mansy and I went.
she liked it.
called it "Michael Moore funny"

Posted by: Dianna at July 3, 2007 1:37 PM

Oh, BTW, could we please get the rest of the lyrics for "The Day Mexican Thai Castle Died"? That was hilarious!

Posted by: Leandra at July 3, 2007 2:16 PM

I have the same travel rule as Femtastic. If I am traveling, I refuse to eat at chains. I don't really eat at them at home, either, but ESPECIALLY not when traveling. I think that stems from my heartbreaking high school trip to Germany and Austria, where I was the only adventurous one and because we all had to travel in a herd I ended up eating lunch at a McDonald's in Salzburg. Salzburg! McDonald's! Woe!

That fish place sounds fantastic. Yum.

Posted by: Aimee at July 3, 2007 3:01 PM

Such is what happens in the South nowadays. I think it has gotten so bad in our little corner of Georgia, we ought to put up a sign - "Will the last person out of Cleveland turn out the lights?"

I grewed up in Roswell, back when we had a football game and ALL the traffic lights were turned a lovely shade of blinking yellow. Everybody had to slow down, because if you weren't going to the Roswell High School football game on a Friday night, there was something seriously wrong with you.

My Daddy used to tell his friends we lived over the river in Roswell. You just follow Roswell Road until it crosses the river into no man's land. I climbed the water tower in the 70's, knew all the local police officers by name, and attended the cool parties at MYF at the Medthodist Church.

Roswell is now one big parking lot, dotted with McDonald's and Taco Mac. Ohh for the days of the Dixie Diner.

Posted by: Gin at July 3, 2007 5:01 PM

Okay, but Aimee? Yes, anyone who gets a Big Mac in a McDonald's while traveling has just bought a ticket to Hell (unless you're traveling with children, then you do whatever you have to to survive, granted), BUT. I went to that McDonalds in Salzburg, yes that very one, and here's why: they said they had a TIRAMISU MILKSHAKE. We had to try it, and I was glad we did because it turned out to be...




an eggnog milkshake with some cinnamon on top.

McDonalds. Masters of the cultural outreach... thingy. And, you know, stuff.

Posted by: alala at July 3, 2007 5:06 PM

I think the "no going to Applebee's on Times Square or you go straight to hell" rule should apply to ANY chain restaurant you can go to in your home town. If you're gonna travel, then experience some new stuff, ferpetessake, and that includes the food! I love finding little hole-in-the-wall places where you mostly only see locals eat when I travel. You can end up with some of the best stuff there! (Or, ok, sometimes food poisoning, but as long as you don't actually die from it, the risk is worth it. And it's not like you can't get food poisoning at the chains too!!)

LOVE the Mexican Thai song lyrics. :-)

Posted by: DebR at July 3, 2007 5:50 PM

I agree with the chain restaurant rule too . . . though I confess I love the St. Hubert's chain (and their salt-laden mystery gravy) in Canada when we visit - but at least it's not available down here!

I thought I was queen of grumpy . . . as soon as I get a gazillion billion dollars, I'm buying and walling-off a property the size of upstate New York . . it'll be a no-fly zone too. I don't want to see or hear ANYbody. Grrr.

Posted by: Brigitte at July 3, 2007 8:15 PM

Sigh ... I get like that a lot. My little farm town is being overrun with "development", snout houses and Chili's. Only we never had much for locally owned restaurants, except one little Italian place where the food is always burned, one little Tea Room way out of the way, and a great little coffehouse downtown. Now I pass two Starbuck's to get to the Village Grind (and five new sets of traffic lights!)

If I move, I'm afraid 20,000 more people will follow me, again.

Posted by: Patti at July 3, 2007 8:56 PM

Chain restaurants bother me so much, especially ones claiming to serve authentic foreign food. The Olive Garden- so not Italian! I was recently on vacation in Edinburgh and saw Starbucks all over the place. As if there weren't enough of them in the US! (I will admit going to Starbucks when I am at college because I can only go to places within walking distance and my choices are pretty much Starbucks and a nice non-chain pizza place called Everybody's that is fabulous but does not serve coffee and pastries.)

In any case, I regret that my town has gone the same way as yours. When my father grew up here, there were less than 25 kids in his graduating class and everything was nice and original and perfect, but now Duluth has gone all Stepford-wifey and is a giant suburb with cookie-cutter houses. My father still managed to know practically everyone he saw at the grocery store even then, how I will never know.

Posted by: Haley at July 3, 2007 9:04 PM

I ran across your jail saga accidently on a Google search this evening. Sorry that happened to you, but I laughed my backside off on how well you had written it. I'll have to check out your books. As someone who has done quite a bit of petty jail time (driving offenses - never get in traffic trouble in Florida, you'll never get out) I can relate. I'd have given several digits to have been able to go back into the police station and been able to completely exonerate myself.... awesome!

Posted by: Alabama Kevin at July 3, 2007 9:53 PM

It's the little out-of-the-way unexpected places that have the true magic. Lillian and I were trapped one Thanksgiving in Fargo by snow, and we had our Thanksgiving dinner at a truck stop. The food was absolutely fabulous and the company was great!

And Amy, I completely agree with you - we're on the other coast, there's lots of great seafood up in the Seattle area, so WHY go to Red Lobster?

But there are one or two chains I find addicting. Panera Bread calls to me with its siren song of fresh bagels and hazelnut spread. And they donate the leftover bread to shelters, so I think that earns them a pass from hell-consignment. Even if they are a chain.

I can't think of another one, but there might be so I'm keeping my options open.

Posted by: Fran at July 3, 2007 11:13 PM

I'm feeling sort of grumpy/exhausted/b*tchy myself today, so I appreciate the comraderie.

I too love the city and love the country and think the suburbs are 90% evil. We are far enough away from civilization to avoid becoming a suburb, but we have been changing. I'm still annoyed that they thought we wanted sidewalks put in our street this summer. We did not. We got them anyway.

I did allow William to eat at a few Burger Kings when we were in Europe. I was forced to eat at one of them, at a train station, because there wasn't time to find anything else. And we did end up going to Starbucks twice, but under extenuating circumstances - needed the bathroom, needed the bathroom, and... uhm, well, you can see a pattern there. But other than that, the entire month we only ate places we couldn't eat at home. The type of people who eat at Applebees in Times Square... it's sad how many lemmings are running around.

Oh, and the fish place - it sounds absolutely heavenly!!! I haven't had a good fish fry since I left the midwest as a teen. I weep at the thought of plate of pan fish deep fried in a crispy beer batter.

Posted by: Laume at July 4, 2007 12:57 AM

Bite me, girlfriend. I spit here and I hit--yes--a spitoon.

All we got in this town is Sonic and Mexican Food. Not that I'm complaining all that much (because I love enchiladas as much as the next person) but it'd be nice to get something different from time to time.

Applebees, Starbucks, Burger King...as boring as they are, it's bigtime here :-)

Posted by: Angie Poole at July 4, 2007 1:28 AM

Oh, if you want some perspective and lyrical writing to help you past your grumpiness, go to the Murderati site and read Ken Bruen's post.

I wept.

Posted by: Fran at July 4, 2007 1:31 AM

I still *heart* you, grumpy or not!

I do NOT *heart* Applebee's. They have ticked me off twice (though we have a GC for them, so....free food is free food. Sigh)

I had to sing your ditty to my hubby--we both laughed ;)

Goats ROCK. Except when they sneak out of their pen and eat your nearly-ripe watermelons in the garden.

Posted by: Angel at July 4, 2007 2:44 AM

plastic mannequin butt = AWESOME description

Posted by: catherino at July 4, 2007 10:33 AM

Oh, but alala? They did not HAVE the tiramisu milkshake when I was there. This was (gulp) twenty years ago, when I was a dewy high school senior.

Posted by: Aimee at July 4, 2007 12:40 PM

Hi! I ran across your blog the other day and think it is great! I love your writing style and creativity. I'll be reading your books in the near future. I just wanted to say "Hello" and let you know that you have a new devoted reader of your work in your midst. Take care, and keep up the good work. It's fabulous.

Posted by: Trace at July 4, 2007 12:42 PM

Don't they have a Red Lobster in Times Square too now? I swear I saw an add on tv for it the other day. Big freakin' fish market + cultural melting pot = Red Lobster??? WTF???

Even here in the heart of Cajun country we are being invaded by chains . . . and people are HAPPY about it. Happy, I tell you! I'm so glad we still have tons of little mom and pop type restaurants, and that the local food is still great. Still, I'd love to have a funky little restaurant with funky chairs and a jazz night and a really cool menu. But we're just not that kind of town. I guess I could live with that if they hadn't just built a Chili's next to an IHOP right down the road from me.

Posted by: Michelle at July 4, 2007 1:29 PM

Your link to seafood soiree took me to 'Join The Atlanta Hip Hop and Graffiti Group'. Ahhh... huh?

Posted by: pam at July 4, 2007 2:29 PM

My best friend in elementary school had a lake house near Powder Springs, and, back then (like 1974) the ONLY place to get food was the Country Store, where they made chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches, neither of which I liked at the time, but they also had Coke in those sweetly-shaped small bottles, which I did like, very much, and lots of penny candy. Sigh. I imagine I would not recognize the Powder Springs where you now reside.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at July 4, 2007 3:20 PM

Today when I was in Barnes & Nobles searching earnestly for books for work, I came across Between. Of course I stopped to lovingly stroke it's cover with a far off dreamy look in my eyes. As I was pulling myself back from Athens, I noticed a book stuck between Between and Gods. Of course I had to remove said offending book and give it dirty looks. Does that make me obsessive??

Posted by: Lisa at July 4, 2007 4:21 PM

HI! I'm a longtime reader, delurking here just to say:
1-LOVE your blog
2-just bought both your books
3-think your new pic is great!

Posted by: Sherry at July 4, 2007 4:37 PM

Well another job mini goats could have is eating the mini grass blades, if Scott doesn't have a fetish for mowing the lawn that would be a good job for mini goats, right after they eat cereal from the soft tender little palms of kidlets and halfings. But if Joss really like her beautimous flowers to actually blossom and have leaves...er well you might think twice.

Posted by: Cele at July 4, 2007 5:18 PM

Please do not even get me started on this subject.

I was just posting about the best ice cream place in Paris (in my opinion). What I didn't mention is that maybe five stores down from it is a Haagen-Dazs, that is ALWAYS packed with tourists. EVEN though it is an American chain AND the people sitting at it eating their ice cream can actually see people strolling past carrying ice creams shaped like flowers. It's an ice cream cone. How much risk is there in trying a new place in a city famous for its food, rather than going to a familiar chain from back home?

But...that's the way people are. When I was a kid, we traveled all over the country, and my parents would stop at a McDonald's four times a day. We never ate anywhere else. Not ever. My dad liked the security.

Posted by: Laura Florand at July 5, 2007 10:16 AM

WOW! the new pic on the front page is SO HOT!

Posted by: cheryl at July 5, 2007 12:42 PM

Personally I am glad that such a place as the Mexican Thai Castle existed and then disappeared just so you could write it's lyrical obituary. I haven't laughed that hard all week.

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I don't know about the goat job. In your current grumpy state, you might actually bite down on the small hands that attempt to feed you!

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