Thursday, October 30, 2008
"And $1.34 is your change."
"Can I get some more Dr. Pepper?
"Would you like some help with your tray to your table?"
"That would be great. Thank you."
"Please drive around to the first window."
That's just a sampling of conversations I've had with people that work at Chick-Fil-A, arguably the nicest collection of well-groomed fast-food employers on the planet.
Notice a trend?
Apparently the company has a policy that whenever a customer says "thank you" the employee is required to say "my pleasure." How nice. Seriously. How nice is that? Recall the last time you went to McDonald's and the 18-year-old high school drop out is standing behind the counter and giving you that look.
Oh, c'mon. You know the look.
The one that says, "Oh my gosh. What do you want? My break is in, like, 17 minutes and 38 seconds. You better make this quick and don't ask me any hard questions." Yeah, that look.
You don't get those at Chick-Fil-A. You get "my pleasures!" Keep your kid meal toys. This is good enough for me.
Sure, the sandwich is simple. Warm, sometimes scalding hot, chicken in between two pieces of white bread bun. Pure, simple goodness. Throw in some waffle fries and a brownie and you are this close to seeing the light come from the parted clouds and a voice beckoning you to come home.
Now topping it off, you get a "My pleasure" after every "thank you."
GLORIOUS! Cue the angel's singing.
Don't believe me? Try it. Go to your nearest Chick-Fil-A and try it. Heck, get greedy. Get stupid with it.
Try different variations of "Thank you." See what you get. See if you can get the well-groomed teenager to crack under pressure.
What happens if you say:
Thank you, infinity.
Thank you so much.
I just want to say thanks.
Thanks a million!
(In a very depressed voice) Thanks, I guess.
Oh this is my order? Oh, thanks.
Try it. You'll probably email me and say, "Justin, you are right. That is awesome! Thank you."
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I've always wondered what prune juice tastes like. I've never tried it. Never really had a desire to. But now I do.
I go to bed at 10 o'clock these days. I just can't keep my eyes open anymore. The byproduct of going to bed early is drinking prune juice, listening to some Sinatra, talking about the good 'ole days and driving slower.
I'm two for three folks.
This getting old business is foreign. Nice, at times, but very foreign. I love midnight oil. No, not the band. Well, actually, yes the band. Great band. Very underrated. But I do love midnight oil. I love to burn it. Correction. I loved to burn it. Now the match just burns down to my fingers because I have fallen asleep in the process of trying to light it.
My on the road lifestyle is catching up to me. I'm fighting it but it is winning. I can't stay up late anymore. I can't make it to the 11 o'clock news, let alone my main man Conan O'Brien.
"In the year 2000, 31-year-old men will fall asleep at 10 p.m. every night."
That's Armageddon, people. The gas shortage, the stock market crash, the horrendous options for president of this great nation? Puh-leez. That's nothing. This falling asleep early is the beginning of the end.
I'm off to Louisiana and Dallas for back-to-back weekends for week. How will I survive going to bed at nine p.m.? Oh, the humanity!
Dr. Pepper used to work. But caffeine doesn't have an effect anymore. That is a problem, right? I must be immune to it.
Does prune juice keep you awake? Just wondering.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Five Rivals.com shirts? Check.
More shorts than I know what to do with? Packed away.
Laptop? Got it.
Camera? Ready to roll.
My secret poker money stash? Check and double check. (Just don't tell my wife.)
Okay, I'm ready for Vegas.
My morning flight to
I love flights to Vegas. There isn't a bad mood on the plane. Just pure greedy thoughts of striking it rich in the casinos with no clocks and windows. The big bird is completely full and probably overbooked knowing Delta.
I'll be in one of my favorite cities in the world this week for work.
Here's my iMix for the trip. As you can imagine, I should have great report back from my trip. Let$ hope it i$ filled with lot$ of thing$ that have to do with ca$h, hoop$ and $tories from the land of heat and poker chips.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
“Um, yeah, wait just a sec.”
“Yeah, Brian. Hold on. I gotta pick up my Polo, extra starched, shirts. I’m going to Boston with Brittany.”
“Um, yeah, I need to pick up my Polos, extra starched. I’m going to Boston with my girlfriend this weekend for the Fourth.”
The Chinese guy behind the counter didn’t have to say much. I knew what he was thinking no matter what language we both spoke.
The Todd, that’s the name I gave him, got his extra starched shirts, paid, talked on his iPhone with Brian, and jumped into his Hyundai and drove off.
Yeah, a Hyundai. I bet The Todd and Brittney are flying on a red-eye that he bought on priceline.com for $79.
But his shirts look really good. And starched.
Friday, June 20, 2008
"Dammit, I forgot my Purell."
That was my initial thought in the taxi line at LaGuardia Airport last Thursday. I made a colossal mistake. How in the world can you go to New York City without any friggin' Purell?
Costly mistake on my part. I had to bite the bullet and take on the world without
After riding on nearly every train in the under belly in America's most recognizable city, touching hand rails, pushing my way through turnstiles, opening doors to cab after cab, shaking hands with basketball players, coaches, parents and even a ref for three days straight, I'm almost tempted to drive myself to a pressure washer or straight to the Center for Disease Control in downtown Atlanta.
It's Friday now. I've been home for almost a week. I'm still alive. I survived.
Other than fighting off diseases like S.A.R.S. and the West Nile virus, my trip to New York City was outstanding. Just outstanding.
My friend and Brooklyn resident Patrick took me on a whirlwind tour of The City. The first stop was in the Greenwich Village. Why not start with Joe's Pizza. Apparently the pie shop is one of the best in the Big Apple. For two bucks a slice (or something like that), I was sold. The pizza was perfect.
Later that evening we went to a nice Italian restaurant called Bocca in Manhattan. Small but super nice. My pasta was mixed up inside a giant cheese wheel. Very creative. Very tasty. The Nutella tort for desert was money, too.
Back in the day, hamburgers were a major staple on my dietary plan. However, you just can't find a burger like a Whataburger in Georgia. It's all Chick-Fil-A. If I lived in New York, Pop Burger would be my joint.
Do I need to explain more? You get two pop burgers per box and they are the size of a Whitecastle (sorry if you just threw up in your mouth at the thought of a Whitecastle) but the Pop Burgers taste like they just came off of your grill in the backyard. They were so money and they didn't even know it.
Perhaps the highlight of any trip to New York for true authentic food addict is spending time on the famous Arthur Avenue in Little Italy in The Bronx.
Since I was just a block or two away at Fordham University, making the quick trip to Arthur Ave. was an easy decision. I slide over there with a good friend of mine Steve DeMeo, a former assistant coach at Providence College. Great guy and it helped he knew the area. We found Tino's Deli.
Just trust me, go to Arthur Avenue if you go to New York it is worth the trip.
NOT SO GREAT BASKETBALL
I spent three days in the Bronx. There is probably a joke that should follow that line. I just can't muster one up. (Maybe an ameba got into my bloodstream and found my brain after all.)
I spent three days in the Bronx inside of a gym without air conditioning. That’s the joke. Sitting in a gym for a combined 22 hours over three days without air conditioning is worse than being in a prison camp.
There is an unfair knock against New Yorkers. The pigeon hole that they are cast in is that they aren't very nice, quite rude, wear jump suits and gold chains.
People, that's New Jersey.
I met Jesus. And he saved me. Right there on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx. I was granted my ticket to the heavens. This Jesus was also a crackhead and probably homeless and most definitely out of place in Little Italy. But at least my seat in heaven is saved. Thanks Jesus.
Everyone I met in New York was gracious and quite hospitable. My good friend Patrick showed me the city like a seasoned veteran. The Kansas City native has only lived in the city for a year and a half and dude had the subway system on lockdown. If you can experience New York with a local, that's the only way to go. What an experience it was.
I could go on and on about New York. It was a blast. If you can go, go.
Just don't forget your Purell.
Friday, June 6, 2008
I'm happy Boston won. Great game.
But seriously Paul Pierce? Did you get hit by a sniper? What's up with the crashing to the floor, being carried out by your teammates and the grimace on your face like you just passed a kidney stone? Really?
I thought he was great with the back-to-back three-pointers. Clutch. Money. Big players make big plays. Cliche, cliche, cliche.
Pierce was big but was this necessary:
Dude, you twisted your knee. You came back 10 minutes later like you were Willis Reed.
Great game, great win, great acting. I love this game.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
It was 3:30 a.m. and I was standing outside of a 15-passenger van on the streets of Crenshaw in Los Angeles.
That's so gangster, isn't it?
That, in a nutshell, was my weekend in the City of Bloods and Crips, er, Angels. And I was stranded on the streets of the hood. What a weekend.
Rewind with me for a minute…
Last Friday night, I went to a trendy little area in Westwood, just outside of UCLA's campus, and went to Jerry's Deli for a late night breakfast with a dozen or so friends and colleagues that were in town for the Pangos All-American camp that I was covering for Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports.
I was also working on 23 straight hours of being awake.
Jerry's Deli was a neat little spot and we were taken to the back table in the café, passing what was some sort of celebrity, some girl named Kardashian. I guess that's some sort of big deal or something. She asked if I was single. I proudly told her that I wasn't. Sucks for her.
At any rate, it was off to my hotel, you know the posh Vagabond Inn (pictured below) on the other side of town. After taking our exit to get to the hostel, er, hotel, I heard the engine make a noise that you just don't want to hear.
Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.
We ran out of gas at 3:30 in the morning. In L.A. In Crenshaw.
I was experiencing my own Blackhawk Down experience. It was me, seven others and our van minus the gas on the rough and tough streets of L.A. We were stranded with no help in sight.
Did I mention the community of homeless people that we parked right in front of? Did I mention that they weren't happy about our arrival?
Shortly after we coasted to the side of the road and in front of the homeless community, we saw our savior of night. A police squad car was driving up the street rather quickly and we jumped out and tried to flag him down.
Dude drove past us like Jeff Gordon. He had no interest in our stranded situation. The officer flew by without even blinking an eye. Our cries for help went unanswered.
The call to AAA ended like this: "Sorry, sir, we don't respond to the area you are in at this hour."
The night couldn't have been any worse at this stage of the tragedy. At one point, I decided to venture out on my own into the cool night air with two other gas shortage survivors.
We got two and a half blocks before realizing that we had no idea as to where we were. Things weren't going well.
After more calls for help and more passers by wanting no part of our crazed crew of renegades, help finally arrived and we were able to make it to our posh hotel.
I was up for 27 straight hours. I survived my experience of being out on the streets of L.A. I survived a Kardashian.
Los Angeles was a fun trip, outside of my Friday night of course. The basketball was okay. The company I had with me was great. My good friend, Rob, and I found the world's best taco stand on Figueroa Street, just a stone's throw away from USC's gorgeous Galen Center.
Chanos was the best part of the time in SoCal. The $1.50 chicken taco was a lifesaver. Pure authentic Mexican food on the cheap and it was beyond tasty. Pure spice too. I think I had six of them during my time in L.A.
Every bite was full of flavor and buying it as a walk-up customer on the corner of one of the busiest corners in South Central was a highlight of my spring. Washing the spice down with a milkshake from Fatburger, which was right next door, was so Cali.
I'm about to say something that is probably sacrilegious but here goes: Fatburger is so much better than In and Out burger. So much better. The burgers were better. The fries were better. The milkshakes were better. And yes, I feel really fat because of it.
In a nutshell, that was my L.A. experience. Gang violence, good food, okay basketball, great weather and great friends.
You couldn't have asked for anything better.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The road show is sending me to LAX for a weekend of wild basketball at the University of Southern California. Should be fun. I think. My lodging is being taken care of and I'm staying at a lovely establishment called the Vagabond Inn. That is the real name. I promise.
When time allows and when I'm not staring at the chalk line of the body on my floor, I am hoping to catch up on some music. I slapped together some music for the five-hour flight and for my stay in the Golden State.
Friday, May 23, 2008
There is something about going to
Not at the
One of my best friends, Shawn Davis, was born there. His family has roots in the state and his father, Chuck, was the biggest NC State basketball fan that I knew. He was the only fan I knew of the program, growing up in
I don't remember the games. I don't remember the guys we played with. I don't remember how good they were. I don't remember how long we played. I don't remember the particulars. Those things don't matter to me.
Chuck didn't teach me the game. In fact, he was quite intimidating. His
Chuck grew up with Jim Valvano and the NC State Wolfpack. The National Championship Wolfpack of 1983 to be exact.
But what he taught me was the passion that comes with it. Chuck's passion for all things NC State infused my passion and desire to learn more about the ACC. To learn more about the Wolf Pack,
Our games on the neighborhood weren't great. They were excepted to be great. They were fun as hell though. Passionate games, just like the way Jimmy V wanted the games to be played – with passion.
Chuck died one surprising day in 1994. It was one of the saddest days of my life. My best friend lost his father before he could graduate high school.
It doesn't surprise me know that I'm so passionate about the beautiful game. A lot of it can be traced to my days as a young middle school kid in the
Thanks for the passion Chuck. I'll enjoy
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I get a lot of emails. Probably 500 a day.
No, I'm not important. Not at all. I'm quite dull, unattractive and apparently I'm about to be absolutely loaded and my penis stopped working.
Judging by all of the emails I get a day from Mustapha Fukameli of
And my penis? Well, that is a sensitive subject. Please pray for me. I'm getting bombarded with all of these medicine emails to help me with my problem. Apparently the senders don't realize that awaiting baby number three.
I think my junk works fine, thank you.
My good friend "Harley" sent me this email about this magic cure-all pill. I think we are good friends because he seems so confident about talking about such a sensitive topic. So, thanks Harley. Glad we caught up.
If you receive an email from me, I promise to not talk about either topic with you. I guess you aren't as good of a friend as Mustapha and Harley are to me.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I kind of suck at this whole blog thing.
Who has the time for these things anyways? What was I thinking when I signed myself up for this? Who knows really. Peer pressure I suppose. Well, no, that isn't it. I never smoked pot. Peer pressure can't crack me, the uncrackable. Besides, pot stinks. I'm already fat enough. I don't need to snack on Cool Ranch Dorritos after hitting the bong.
Enough of my non-drug existence. Back to the blog.
So I've toured three of America's most interesting cities. Hampton, Virginia is a fine little city on the coast. Okay food, good weather when I was there and amazing basketball. The most exotic food I ate was at this cool little deli. Little did I know that Jason's Deli is a major franchise that has stores in nearly every state in the U.S. of A. I'm an idiot. Throw in my red convertible Ford Mustang as my rental car and I felt like I was some frosted highlights away from being a true life version of my gay alter-ego Stefan. Fantasy almost met reality folks. That's friggin' scary.
Fayetteville, Arkansas was my next stop. [Enter joke here.] Screw you, that's a cool little piece of the South. Other than landing in a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere, Northwest Arkansas is a fun little town. The University of Arkansas was my main destination and I love being on a SEC campus in the spring. Just a great vibe. I almost wanted to go back to college. Nevermind. Screw college, the most overrated part of anyone's life. The Common Ground is my go-to spot every time I am in Hog Country. It's a little coffee house with an artsy vibe. Very Portland-like. You know I like me some Portland-vibe. The chipotle chicken pizza is a fine, fine choice if you ever pop your head into this little slice of heaven.
Finally, capping off my month was a trip to America's playground - Akron, Ohio.
There really isn't a need to comment, is there? It's friggin' Akron. I ate at Subway four times. That's culture folks.
Speaking of culture, I bought a new book, "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. So far, so good.
New additions to the iPod included:
I'm off this weekend from the road. My brother Aaron is getting married. Weird. But oh so cool. The entire family will be back in the ATL this week. That will be fun. I'm sure there will be a fist fight. We're redneck like that. Or maybe I am just a gangster.
The road show will be local after the wedding. Work keeps me in town for a while. My next trips are to North Carolina, L.A. and New York City. That's a nice sampling of America if I say so myself.
Any suggestions on a new book to read or any new music is welcomed.
Don't worry, I already have Celiene Dion's greatest hit(s).
Monday, April 28, 2008
Death might have been better.
Filing taxing would have certainly been funner.
Listening to the newest Snow CD (you know that super ghetto white rapper from Canada that gave us the gem "Informer" in the 1990s) might have been more rewarding.
I was in Akron, Ohio last weekend and, no, that isn't why death, taxes and licking a boom boom down wouldn't have been more pleasurable although it could come close.
Instead, I had the luxury of having Celine Dion in my life all weekend. She was playing on the intercom in the Canton-Akron airport the minute I stepped off the plane. I was ready to go home right then and there. She was playing on my radio in my rental car the minute I turned the key. She was playing on the Muzak in the lobby of my hotel. That crazy biznitch was everywhere I was. I couldn't shake her near, far or wherever I was.
I heard all of the hits. I almost went out and bought a sequined shirt and learned French. That woman moves me. I'm almost brought to tears when I hear her angelic call.
Dion is a talented singer. Doesn't her lifelong Vegas contract prove that? Doesn't the hordes of women from South Florida that look like dried up Gucci bags that worship her prove her dominance in the worldwide sphere of modern music? Of course not. That's why we have to be subjected to her Top 400 hits on the radio wherever we go.
Please. Her reign must end.
Besides, I can't wait for the new Snow Greatest Hits tape to come out. I'm so buying it.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
That's why I love the playlist.
I'm off to Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Hampton this weekend for work. This is my 19-song playlist for the trip.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
My Whopper was delicious, as you'd expect it to be. The grill marks were ever-present. The onions were crispy. The mayonnaise doused the bun. Pure deliciousness. And then there was my Sean John cup.
I swear to you.
The rap mogul apparently has gone into the fast food cup design field. Why not? He's already capitalized on a war with the dead Tupac Shakur (someone tip a 40 for him), a clothing line that is easily reproduced and sold on the black market, over-hyped restaurant, horrible reality television shows and I'm sure his own energy drink line.
Sean Jean is taking over our world. Fo sho.
What's next? The Jay-Z gas pump? The Snoop Dog recyclable grocery bag? The KRS-One encyclopedia line? (That's old school, kids.) The Soulja Boy action figure? (I spelled Soulja right. I looked it up.)
I had to look at my cup for a long time to truly believe what I was seeing. The dollars and cents world of advertising , cross-branding and tying entertainment, if that is what you want to call Sean Jean, aka Diddy, aka Puffy, aka Puff Daddy, aka Sean Combs, has now truly been taken over in the pleasurable experience of consuming 39 grams of fat.
How depressing is that? I can't even clog my arteries without being fed, literally and figuratively, the propaganda of today's advertising age.
I won't buy a Sean Jean shirt, a Puff Daddy tape (that's old school, kids), eat at Justin's (a restaurant owned by Combs) or watch one of his many bad television shows on MTV, you know that channel that claims to be a "music" television station.
In fact, the Sean Jean cup may lead me in another direction. I might pass on eating the 39 grams of fat for another heart weakening wasteland.
Maybe they'll have a Dave Matthews napkin line. That would be sweet.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Marquette head coach Tom Crean to Indiana. Western Kentucky head man Darrin Horn to South Carolina. Sean Sutton is out at Oklahoma State.
The sky is falling. Indiana has a legitimate head coach (finally) that can really recruit (minus the phone calls). I wonder if he'll bring his tanning bed to Bloomington with him. Crean is the tannest person in Milwaukee. I can promise you that.
Who gets the Marquette job now? I'm sure Anthony Grant, Virginia Commonwealth's head man, to be mentioned. Isn't he in the running for Cal, Sacramento State, NJIT, Western Kentucky, the New York Knicks, the Shamrock Rovers and the Marietta Baptist Wednesday night over 40 league, too?
Horn and his Hilltoppers danced their way to the Sweet 16 this year in the rather boring NCAA tournament. He will now take his march through March to Columbia. Finally, some personality in the SEC East.
The Sutton era is over at Oklahoma State. Billy Gillispie to Stillwater? That's one rumor. Expect that job to create a lot of buzz in the political convention, er lobby of the host hotel in San Antonio during the Final Four.
Over the next couple of weeks we'll be hearing about this coach looking at this job or that job. Every time I hear of coaches looking at jobs I think of good 'ole Roy Williams when he was at Kansas. CBS reporter Bonnie Bernstein asked Williams about North Carolina after his Kansas team lost in the NCAA tournament. His response was classic live television.
Roy's North Carolina Tar Heels, you know the ones he could give a shit about, are playing in the Final Four this weekend in San Antonio.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Yeah, I kind of like my job.
As the grassroots basketball season begins, I wanted to start a blog (who doesn't have blog these days? It's the new iPod.) about where I'm going, where I went, what I saw, what I read, what I listened to and what I ate at the various cities across God's green Earth (or not so green depending on who you talk to).
I hope the blog opens up some journey's to where I go, what I see and what happens in little pockets of the world.
Here is my schedule for April:
April 11-13 Boo Williams Invitational - Hampton, Virginia
April 18-20 Real Deal on the Hill - Fayetteville, Arkansas
April 25-27 King James Shooting Stars Classic - Akron, Ohio
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? I actually like two of the three cities on the list. Figure out what those two are.
I'm hoping to read some great books, maybe catch a good movie or two and listen to some new music along the way. I'll blog about it all here in the handy little space on the World Wide Web. Hopefully having this doesn't kill some rare animal in Indonesia because of the energy I spend typing it. Hopefully you get a little peek into my world along the way.
Buckle up, sit back and make sure you watch the safety instructions.