Five for Friday

My wife and I are reinstating date night. Or at least trying to. We're aiming to get out of the house - without the kids - twice a month. At least. And we still feel like we need a vacation.

But since a vacation for just the two of us is not currently an option, a date is better than nothing. A hockey game a few weeks ago, furniture shopping last weekend (don't knock it until you try it), and tomorrow night we're heading out to dinner with friends. I am looking forward to Texas Roadhouse.

Bekah and I are fans of Texas Roadhouse and have been for several years. We considered it good news when they announced they were opening a Coeur d'Alene location. So far, they've yet to disappoint. It is our favorite new restaurant. Coeur d'Alene's newest eatery is easily one of my favorites.

That's got me thinking. Mid-priced dining options are limited around here. I'm tired of Applebees and I burnt out on Olive Garden years ago. MacKenzie River Pizza was great when they opened but the service leaves something to be desired and the quality of food has declined. What does that leave? Chili's? Red Lobster? (I don't like seafood so that second option is out.) Texas Roadhouse it is.

But there could be more. here are five dining options I wish we had in Coeur d'Alene.

1. Old Chicago. The closest options are either in Boise or Bozeman - both over 350 miles away. Since I don't want to drive all day to get dinner, we need one here. Denver has one. Sioux Falls has one. Oklahoma City has one. I've eaten at all three. I'm bewildered that there are two in Boise but nothing around here, not even in Spokane. Great pizza, fantastic pastas. Their Italian Nachos is one of my all time favorite side orders anywhere.

2. Camille's Sidewalk Cafe. Bekah and I fell in love with Camille's while we lived in Sioux Falls. They make killer paninis and wraps. I'm sure someone around here makes a them, but I've not been able to find a suitable replacement. They use jalapeño-cheddar tortillas that have no rival. When we moved back to Idaho, I didn't realize that there were other Camille's Sidewalk Cafes. Turns out, they're all over. Unfortunately, none here. The closest is in San Francisco. We need one.

3. TGI Friday's. There used to be one in Spokane, but not anymore. What happened? I loved that place. Now, I'd have to drive to Nampa or Boise to eat there. Sad.

4. Sanford's Grub & Pub. This is one of my favorite places in Cheyenne (other than my grandparent's house). If you're ever in Cheyenne, it is a must see kind of place. It appears to be decorated by an obsessive-compulsive mechanic with a penchant for flair, their food is named in an auto-shop theme and it is all delicious. There are several locations in Wyoming but not much outside of the Cowboy State (Rapid City and Fort Collins being the outsiders). Could they make an exception and open one in Coeur d'Alene? Probably not, but it would be nice.

5. Hu Hot. Yes, I know there is a Hu Hot in Spokane. And yes, I realize there is a Mongolian Grill in Coeur d'Alene. But Hu Hot is far superior over Mongolian Grill. And I don't want to drive out to Spokane just to eat a meal. We need one here in the Lake City.

And for good measure ...

6. We probably don't need any more fast food options. After all, fast food is disgusting and unhealthy and should not be consumed. By anyone. But if there were a new fast food joint to open in Coeur d'Alene, I wouldn't object if it was a Culvers. ButterBurgers. Frozen Custard. Yum. We used to frequent the Sioux Falls location, and it's a customary visit every time we go to Cheyenne. The closest location to us is in Midvale Utah. It is mostly a Midwest franchise, but I think if Utah has one, we should too.



Happy Valentines Day

For those you are celebrating with their equal, and for those who have yet to find their perfect match. I hope you had a great day.


Humbling experiences

If you ask me, I'll readily admit that I'm not the coolest guy you'll ever meet. I was a dork in high school, and I'm a nerd today. While I do have some great friends who try to convince me otherwise, my self diagnosis is fairly accurate. I don't maintain this view to degrade myself (though I do have a self deprecating sense of humor), I just don't find it healthy to think too highly of ones self.

However, there are moments that I find myself inadvertently humbled. Those moments, despite my realistic ego, I discover I'm not as important as I imagine myself to be.

Like this evening.

Bekah was in the living room skimming facebook. The kids were playing in their bedroom. And I was in the kitchen cooking french toast. And I'm rocking out to some of the best cheesy music my iTunes has to offer: Sugar Ray, ABBA, Billy Joel, Uncle Kracker. I'm singing along, dancing in the kitchen, flipping slices of bread in the skillet. Then Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer starts playing. I keep singing - voice cracking - nothing I'd ever do in public.

As I'm shrieking those lines "hold on to what we've got, doesn't make a difference if we make it or not, We've got each other and that's a lot, we'll give it a shot, Half way there - livin' on a prayer" I have a picture in my head.

I could see in my minds eye: Bekah sitting on the couch, still surfing through her friends' status updates, silently laughing at me. She's realizing again that she married a giant nerd, but I'm her nerd. She has a loving way of mocking me when I most deserve it. And if I ever deserved her teasing, a time when I'm singing loudly in falsetto (and probably off key) along with a Bon Jovi song would be the most opportune moment.

I pulled a few slices of cooked toast of the skillet, dunked a few more pieces of bread into the batter and tossed them into the pan. The moment was at hand. I stepped into the living room fully prepared to receive the "honey, you're embarrassing yourself" lecture.

Bekah was nowhere to be found. Gone. She snuck out to go hide while I cooked. She missed it all.

I'm bigger in my head. Lesson learned, for now.

Five for Friday

I've mentioned it several times before, but it never hurts to reiterate the truth. I am a nerd. More specifically, I'm a music nerd.

Every now and then I geek out and ponder what it would be like if certain musicians teamed up for an epic tour. I've seen some of them in concert before, others I haven't. While these hypothetical tours I've constructed in my daydreams will never be a reality, I'd eat fish fried in peanut oil to see the show if they actually followed my suggestion. (And if you knew how much I despise seafood and hate anything cooked in peanut oil, you'd know that says a lot.)

Here is one of those potentially most awesome shows that will never happen.

The openers:

1. Bobby Bare, Jr. The son of country music legend Bobby Bare, and front man for cow-punk band Bare Jr, Booby is obnoxious, irreverent, and wildly creative. His current work as a solo artist has turned him into Alt Country's most reliable stalwart. He'd be a great start to the show with a 20 to 25 minute set.

2. Aaron Sprinkle. Aaron was the guitarists for one of my all time favorite band - Poor Old Lu. He's released one solo album (dancing the line between indie rock and adult contemporary) but is more widely recognized as a producer. He's produced albums for bands like Demon Hunter, MxPx, and Anberlin. He's got an ear for music and could fill out another 20 to 25 minute set.

3. David Bazan. Once known as the singer/guitarist for Pedro the Lion, Dave has maintained a healthy solo career, critical acclaim, and a small (yet loyal) cult fan base. Give him a mic and an acoustic guitar and he'll make a grown man cry. Give him a 30 to 40 minute set.

The headliners:

4. Mike Doughty. His band Soul Coughing made him famous. But in 2000 Mike quit his band, quit his label, and quit doing drugs. Then he launched a solo career that is better than anything Soul Coughing accomplished. In my opinion, Mike Doughty is one of the most creative people currently working in the music business. He could take an hour to and hour and 15 minute set.

5. Ben Folds. If I consider Mike Doughty to be the most creative mind in music, Ben Folds is the hardest working person in the recording industry. He recently reformed his original band (Ben Folds Five) for a concert tour, worked as a judge for two seasons on the NBC show 'The Sing Off,' all while writing, recording, and touring to support his solo work. And he's funny. Of the five artists on this list, Ben's catalog of songs is the largest and he would easily fill out an hour and 20 minute set.

Show starts at 7pm. Five to ten minute intermission between sets. Encore would include all five combining voices and singing each other's songs. Everybody is out of the building by midnight. If it were to come to fruition, it'd be one of the greatest shows ever.

I should note that there is a bit of overlap between these artists. Aaron Sprinkle produced for David Bazan. Ben Folds helped promote Mike Doughty's book. All five sonically fit together. The dynamics they could display if given the chance to play together would be amazing.

Of course, it will never happen.


Dear driver,

To the lady driving the candy-apple red Camaro in front of me this morning. Yes, you blondie.

I get it - you're easily ten years my elder and likely a recent Californian transplant. You're trying maintain your fading youth and So-Cal good looks while simultaneously experiencing culture shock and a midlife crisis. These women in North Idaho - they're not like you. They know how to shoot guns. They don't wear Prada. They drive Jeeps. They drink cheap beer. Their husbands have beards. Their husbands have tattoos of beards under their beards. It's OK to be different, but you don't have to buy flashy cars to exert your dominance.

Of course if you feel younger and more attractive from the drivers seat of a hot car, no one would blame you for spending $25 grand to do so while the rest of the nation is in the middle of an economic depression. What's a few thousand dollars worth if it can't help you find happiness?

Please don't misread my reason for writing you. I am not opposed to people wealthier than me driving cars more luxurious than mine. If you can afford to drive a car that costs nearly as much as the median income of your new home town - go for it. I won't begrudge you. I'm not the type that gets jealous of the vehicles driven by other people. Since you drive neither a Dartz Prombron nor a Mini Cooper (the two cars I would most want to see parked in my driveway) there is no cause for envy.

Besides, I am not much of a "car guy." Unlike many of my peers, my fondness for Hot Wheels did not translate into a passion for the life-sized counterparts when I reached adulthood. As a man that isn't that excited about cars I don't drool every time a hotrod passes me. The only reason I know your car is a Camaro is that a freshly reanimated caveman brought to life through cloned DNA from dead mosquitoes discovered in petrified tree sap would recognize your car as a Camaro.

In fact, my problem isn't that you passed me but rather that I had to pass you. As you sat at the red light with your blinker on waiting for non-existent traffic to pass, you failed to take your free right. Once the light turned green and we turned onto Highway 95, you slowly accelerated to a rip-roaring speed of 10 miles an hour under the posted speed limit. I had to go around you. If you are not a soccer-mom in a mini van, there's no reason for you to drive like one (no offense intended to actual soccer-moms in a mini vans who might read this).

Don't you realize what you're driving? It is a modern muscle car. It is a powerful machine. It is designed to go fast. As Chevy advertises, it is head-turning style without the sacrifice of performance. Unfortunately, the only heads you're turning are of drivers that are passing you as you piddle along in the slow lane. It just boggles my mind how you could sit behind the wheel of such a beast, to have the command of pure fury at your fingertips, and pilot that machine like you're afraid a stray leaf in the road might irreparably damage that devilish paint job.

If you are so afraid of scratching up that beautiful sports car, why don't you drive a car that wouldn't wound you if it was struck by an errant shopping cart? Why do you insist on owning a car that keeps in constant fear and paranoia?

Let's make a deal. We can trade. My car is only worth a couple thousand dollars, I am sure you would not be worried if it incurred a bump or ding. You can have my Ford Explorer and drive it like it was meant to be driven. And I would gladly take that Camaro off your hands.



p.s. - I completely understand if you decline my offer.