TYOLD Day 110: Potato Potahto

CVS has this big section of “As Seen on TV” products.  I bought this:

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So I open it up and I see this:

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There are more warnings on a printed thing that included:

  • Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Potato Express.
  • Potato Express contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
  • Do not use Potato Express on linoleum.
  • Discontinue use of Potato Express if any of the following occurs:
    • itching
    • vertigo
    • dizziness
    • tingling in extremities
    • loss of balance or coordination
    • slurred speech
    • temporary blindness
    • profuse sweating
    • heart palpitations
  • If Potato Express begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.
  • Potato Express may stick to certain types of skin.
  • When not in use, Potato Express should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of Potato Express, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company, Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.
  • Ingredients of Potato Express include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.
  • Do not taunt Potato Express.

Bonus points if you remember where that came from.

Anyway, I tried to cook a potato in it but it says DO NOT heat on high but it doesn’t say anywhere what you SHOULD heat it on.  So I did like 70% for 4 minutes and came out with a mostly raw potato.

I threw the bag on the floor, stuck the potato back in the microwave for a few minutes on a plate, and then ate it.

I’m pretty sure during the middle of the night I heard Potato Express laughing at me.

28 sit ups, 78 stomach crunches, 28 leg lifts, 1:22 plank.

TYOLD Day 109: Same Drink, Different View

My friend Fred and I occasionally go out and have a cocktail or two.  Or twelve.  Or until there is no more alcohol left in Los Angeles.

Or at least we used to.  We met working in a bar and drinking was a bit of a sport for us and sometimes a game.  There’s the $3 shot, in which you use the serial numbers of of dollar bills to determine which 3 totally random alcohols you will get in one shot glass.  There’s the ring toss game that involves… well, let’s just say it’s vaguely dirty and leave it at that.

When we went out we would drink as if it was the last time we ever would.  There were many all-nighters in which we would span the hours between 2am and 6am when the bars were closed by going to after hours clubs and going outside every 20 minutes or so to pound a beer or shots from the booze we had stashed in the trunk of my car.

But as we have gotten older we have become a bit set in our ways and usually wind up going to the same bars and drinking the same things and it’s usually a lot more tame than the crap we used to drink and we’re usually home long before last call.

So tonight we decided to go to a different bar – one we had never visited before.

We were going to go to a little bar up the street that used to be called The Silver Rail but was purchased, spiffed up, and renamed Studs Lounge.  Yeah, stay classy, North Hollywood.

So we went there but it had a big sign on it saying it was under new management and was now called Los Potrancos, which I now know means a young, male horse… or the kind that you would use to stud for breeding.

How do you say stay classy North Hollywood in Spanish?

We didn’t go in.

Instead we drove down the street to a place called The Other Side, which we’ve both been in before but when it had other names.  It hasn’t changed all that much, but at least it was different.  We had one drink and then went to the place we normally hang out in and we were home by 12:30 watching old episodes of The Golden Girls on DVD.

goldengirls

25 sit ups, 75 stomach crunches, 25 leg lifts, 1:20 plank.

TYOLD Day 108: The Big Burrito Machine

Chipotle is one of the fastest growing fast food chains in America.  They are everywhere here in LA and yet I have never eaten at one.  I don’t know why – maybe it’s because they don’t have drive throughs and I think that real Mexican fast food should be ordered through a speaker.

But today I went to Chipotle and got sucked into the burrito making machine.  There were approximately 27 people behind the counter, one who took the tortilla out of the tortilla warmer, one who asked me what kind of rice I wanted, one to spoon the rice onto the tortilla, one to put the meat on, one to put the veggies on, one to put the sour cream on, one to put the lettuce and tomato on (that person gets paid more because it involves two things), one to roll up the burrito, one to wrap the burrito, one to put the burrito in a bag, one to ring up the burrito, and one to take my money.  I think there were more in the process at some point, perhaps ones that merely thought about my burrito as it passed by.

The entire thing took 11 1/2 seconds.  Kinda freaked me out a little.

It was a pretty good burrito, though.

To help work off the burrito, I did 24 sit-ups, 70 stomach crunches, 24 leg lifts, and 1:15 of planking.

chipotle

TYOLD Day 107: Beach BBQ

At work, I’m not usually able to get away from my desk for too long to… well… do much of anything, much less take an actual lunch hour.  But we just finished a months long project to relaunch 9 websites (which we did over the last couple of weeks) and so I had a chance to escape the boring grey cubicle and the boring boxy office building and the blandness of Woodland Hills.

As I was sitting there trying to decide where to go I had this weird thought – beach BBQ.  I don’t know where it came from, but there it was.  So, I went to get a BBQ chicken sandwich from this little BBQ place on Topanga Canyon and then I just kept driving until I got to the beach.  It’s only about 20 minutes away from my office.

I sat there, ate my BBQ at the beach, and then turned around and went back to work in a much better mood.

By the way, Day 2 of Ab-solutely…. 23 sit-ups, 65 crunches, 23 leg-lifts, and 1:10 of the plank.

And yes, Clint and Sam, the plank doesn’t suck as much as burpees, but that’s sort of like saying getting stabbed in the stomach isn’t as bad as getting shot in the stomach.  Still sucks.

beachbbq_01

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TYOLD Day 106: Ab-solutely

I’ve always wanted to do one of those silly 30-Day Ab programs – you know, those things that promise to have you looking like Zac Effron at the MTV Movie Awards in just a month of doing little more than thinking about exercise.

I don’t need to lose weight – that hasn’t been a problem since the surgery.  I just want to tighten up what’s left, a challenge in a lot of ways not the least of which is that I’m officially in my “late 40s.”

Well, I did some poking around and found a bunch that don’t exactly promise miracle results but do say you’ll see results if you stick to it, so today I started one.

The basic concept is that you do four, simple exercises – sit-ups, crunches, leg-lifts, and the (dreaded) plank.

For the record, I hate the plank.

Anyway, you start at a level at which you are comfortable no matter what that level is.  If that’s 5 sit-ups and 10 crunches and 5 leg-lifts and 10 seconds doing the plank then that’s what it is.  The goal, though, is to do it every day and to increase each of them every day.  So maybe tomorrow you do 6 sit-ups and 12 crunches, and 7 leg-lifts and you go for 20 seconds on the plank.

I started rather aggressively but still comfortably with 20 sit-ups, 60 crunches, 20 leg-lifts, and a minute’s worth of plank.

And if I thought that the plank sucked before, imagine what I think of it doing it with a broken toe.  I’m basically doing a one-legged plank, which really, really sucks.

So here I am, officially committing before everyone, that I’m going to do this every day and I’m going to increase it every day.  We’ll see if there are results in 30 days.

And yes, I took a “before” picture but I’m not showing it to you.  Whether I share the “after” depends on what I look like in May.  I’m sure it’ll be something like this:

zac

 

 

TYOLD Day 105: Broken Toe-ing the Line

As I was getting out of the shower this morning, my foot slipped and I smashed my fourth toe on my right foot into the metal drain stopper.  Hard.

Now, y’all are going “owwww” and I did too. Well, actually I said a variety of curse words that were practically operatic in their depth and breadth.  But in reality, it didn’t actually hurt all that much.

See, I have a condition called peripheral neuropathy, wherein the nerves in my feet and lower legs have basically stopped working.  In short, I can’t feel my feet – they are just clods of meat.  Feel free to poke me in the ankle the next time you see me – I won’t feel it.  I’ve gotten used to it and other than the occasional balance issue, the biggest trouble I have with it is that if I injure my foot in some way – stepping on something for instance and cutting myself – I don’t feel it.  I’ve actually gotten a couple of infections this way.

So when I hit my toe and I felt pain – even a relatively small amount – I knew that I had done something bad.  Of course then when it got swollen and turned kinda reddish/black I thought, okay… I have broken my toe.

It was 8 in the morning and I knew that even if I could get in to see my regular doctor, he’d just send me off for an x-ray, so I decided to go to an urgent care facility instead.

I’ve done this before – oddly, for a toe thing I’m just remembering, when I bashed the nail on my big toe and it got infected.  But the one I have been to, which is right next to my doctor’s office and the hospital I have spent way too much time in, didn’t open until 11am.

So I went a-Yelping to find another one in the area.  It directed me to a Rapid Care facility in Burbank.

I walked in and was immediately horrified. The place was in terrible shape – cracked linoleum, a broken window.  It smelled like cat urine and despair.  I made it to the check in counter and then said, “You know what?  Never mind.”

A little more Yelping too me to another urgent care facility up near the Burbank airport.  This one wasn’t horrifying but it was really busy, filled with lots and lots of people coughing and/or limping.

When I came in I said, “I may have broken my toe” but I left the specifics out figuring the receptionist didn’t need to know about my shower habits.  Everyone else, thought, felt like going into graphic detail about why they were there.

One guy fell off a ladder   He was concerned he had broken his foot but then asked if he had time to walk over to Fry’s Electronics across the street before he got x-rays.  Another one had been in a car accident and had gotten glass in his eye that he picked out himself with a pair of tweezers but thought a doctor should look at it anyway.  (Ya think?!)

This is the part where I reaffirmed that there was very little in the way of urgency at urgent care.  I got there at about 8:30 and I didn’t get called in to be seen until about 10.  Then I sat in the exam room for another 30 minutes before the x-ray technician came to collect me.

She smacked my foot with the x-ray panel as I was getting on the table.  If I didn’t have peripheral neuropathy, I’m guessing that would’ve hurt.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I have a small fracture in my toe.  They wanted to tape it up and then put on a “shoe cast” but I said no.  Can you say overkill?  Tape that sucker up and get me outta here.

So yeah, my Differently for the day is that I broke my toe.   Fun, huh?

Not my foot.  But I'm guessing it looked something like this in the actual x-ray.

Not my foot. But I’m guessing it looked something like this in the actual x-ray.

TYOLD Day 104: Trapper Keeper

So the story goes like this… in 1941 a man named John Ehn, who had spent most of his life as a tracker hunting game in the woods, opened a motel in Burbank called “The Old Trapper’s Lodge.”  Thinking he could turn it into a tourist attraction in its own right, he filled it with Old West memorabilia.

For reasons that are lost to time, Ehn decided to add to the collection by having some giant statues of frontier-era people created by local artisan Claude Bell, who had done work at Knott’s Berry Farm and created the giant dinosaurs out at Cabazon near Palm Springs.  But Ehn never let Bell finish the job – instead he took over and then spent the next few decades creating crude statues of pioneer characters and even a cheeky, “Boot Hill” style cemetery.

Ehn died in 1981, the same year that his collection was deemed a California State Historical Landmark.   When the motel was sold in 1985, his statues were relocated to Pierce College where they were set up in a small grove of trees near the horse stables.

The great mystery about them is that no one at Pierce College will say who donated the statues or, more importantly, who takes care of them to this day, nearly 30 years later.  But every now and then someone comes in and spruces up the paint and tends to the paths that lead to the statue garden.

If you ever feel like looking at them yourself, you have to do it when the college grounds are open, so usually a weekday.  Take De Soto Avenue north from the 101 to El Rancho Drive.  You’ll pass the stables on the left and then you’ll see a single row of parking spaces right off the road facing a hill with trees on it.  The statues are in there.

trapper_01

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trapper_12

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TYOLD Day 103: The View from Here

Had dinner tonight for the first time at Yamishiro, a restaurant in LA high in the Hollywood Hills with one of the most killer views in town.  It goes a little something like this:

la

 

Yamishiro is in a fairly stunning building built between 1911 and 1914 by two brothers who wanted a palatial, Asian-inspired estate in which to show off their Far East art collection.  Over the years it served as a private home, an apartment building (where Richard Pryor lived for awhile), and now as a restaurant and bar serving Japanese food.  Here’s their picture:

yamashiro

 

Cobia ceviche, korubuta pork carnitas, crispy chicken with a spicy plum sauce, and pan seared crab cakes.  Darned good.

 

TYOLD Day 102: Cupcake Wars

As mentioned, yesterday’s post was supposed to be about a cupcake war between two new cupcake places I went to try.  But I got distracted by food trucks and so I held the battle today.

Now, before I begin, I want to reassure you that I did not eat 4 full cupcakes today.  In my younger, fatter, pre-stomach removal days I could’ve done that with my eyes closed, but these days I can have a few bites and then I have to move on.  So it’s sort of like a wine tasting, only I didn’t spit out the cupcakes into a little metal bucket.

Now let’s meet our contenders.  In this corner we have Dreamy Creations Cupcake Cafe, a little bakery in Northridge that actually won Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” show in 2012.  In the other corner we have A Sweet Design, a bakery in Granada Hills that was featured on TLC’s “Dragon Cakes.”

Round 1 was a chocolate off, with Sweet’s Chocolate Fudge (on the left) vs. Dreamy’s Double Chocolate (on the right):

cupcakewar_01

 

In all fairness to both cupcakes, the food truck distraction meant that these were day old, so the fact that neither made me swoon is partially my fault.  But the Sweet Design Chocolate Fudge eked out a win for me primarily because of the little white, milk, and dark chocolate pieces on top of the cake (an original touch) and some really good butter cream frosting.  The Deamy Double Chocolate, while fine, was a little bland in the frosting department and the cake was too crumbly.

Round 1: A Sweet Design by a chocolate shaving.

In Round 2 we went with specialty cupcakes.  On the left below we have A Sweet Design’s Creme de Menthe, a green mint cupcake with chocolate frosting and chocolate mint pieces.  On the right we have Dreamy Creation’s Campfire, a white cake with caramel frosting and toasted marshmallows.

cupcakewar_02

This one wasn’t even a contest.  I’m a huge chocolate mint fan but Sweet’s version of that concept was so far off the mark that I ate one bite and was done.  Dreamy’s Campfire, on the other hand, was fantastic – spongy cake, insanely sweet caramel frosting, and those perfect, blackened marshmallows.  It kicked Sweet’s cupcake ass.

Round 2: Dreamy Creations by a mile.

So, in the end we have a split decision with one victory for each place, but the overwhelming win for Dreamy in Round 2 makes me think that they are probably the overall better bet here.  I guess I’m just going to have to go back for another round!

 

TYOLD Day 101: Food Frenzy Part II

After all the food I ate yesterday, I didn’t intend today to be another food frenzy but that’s just the way it turned out.  And it all started with cupcakes.

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I was in a cupcake mood and stopped at a place I had never tried in Sherman Oaks – and came away highly disappointed.

Well, ever since then I’ve had cupcake on the brain, so after work I decided I wanted to do a little cupcake war.  There were two cupcake places I read about in the north part of the San Fernando Valley – one of which had actually competed on and won the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” show.  Gauntlet thrown.

I went to the one in Northridge and got a couple of cupcakes and then headed to the other in Granada Hills and as I turned on to the street where the shop is located, I was confronted by this:

foodtrucks

 

Now, the picture doens’t really do it justice… what you have here is basically every single food truck in Los Angeles taking up the better part of both sides of the street (and side streets) along several blocks of Chatsworth Avenue.  I counted about 32 trucks and there were more arriving every moment, jockeying for parking spots.

I went ahead and got the cupcakes but then went on the food truck prowl.  There was a lot that I wanted but I started with Postcards Central American Soul Food.  The what now?  Basically it’s soul food – BBQ chicken, brisket, greens, and/or mac and cheese stuffed into a burrito shape or in a bowl.  Kinda freakin’ genius if you ask me.

foodtruck_soul

I got the brisket burrito with kale and mac and cheese of course and it was AMAZING!  It’s on the right in this pic:

foodtruck_balls

 

On the left are grilled pork meatballs from an Vietnamese fusion truck.  Not as good as the brisket but still really tasty.  I should’ve tried their garlic filet mignon noodles.

And for dessert… let the pictures tell the tale:

foodtruck_beignettruck foodtruck_beignet

 

That’s a salted caramel dipping sauce, my friends.

HEAVEN!!!

The cupcake war will commence tomorrow if I can actually eat anything.