Just The Facts on Just The Tip

So, here’s a little article that I’ve been patiently waiting to bless y’all with for quite some time. In truth, it’s more like an epic tome, but I think it’s finally time. It’s the hot, wet, sticky summer, its wedding season, and spring is fresh in our minds. And there’s nothing on TV: conditions are perfect. Also, as I have written a lot of cover letters of late, I’ve been aching to scribe something truly meaningful. Something tells me I can’t use this as a writing sample for potential employers, but nonetheless, here it is, Just The Facts on Just The Tip.

Fact #1: Most, probably all, readers of this article will disagree with the parameters I lay out for JTT. Many will not like the principles. Some will find it childish, ignorant, garish or off-color. A few will be very offended. But all will find that is does exactly what Just The Tip discussions are meant to do: stimulate (debate that is, you’re so immature). I’m hoping for a long, hard (as in challenging, shame on you!) discussion thread.

Fact #2: When I say JTT, we’re not talking bout Jonathan Taylor Thomas anymore. When you get old enough, JTT takes on a whole new meaning.

What is that meaning, you might ask. Just what is Just The Tip? Before I get into the specifics, let’s break it down nice and slow. Do I have your consent dear reader? Good. JTT is an age old ‘game’ if you will, more like a tango, played out, often inebriatedly, in beds, futons, public restrooms, and backseats of minivans (a personal favorite) across America each and every night. It’s the gray area between the “everything but” hook-up and Pleasure Town. In my younger years, the simpler times, I had thought that things were pretty black and white. Either you had sex with someone or you didn’t. Oh ignorant bliss, I had no idea how wrong I could be. There IS a gray area, no matter what your friends, hook-ups, or the law says to the contrary.

Fact # 3: JTT as a phenomenon is alive and well. A little too much so if you ask me. [Ed. Note: While I can only speak to the existence of JTT in the heterosexual community, I’d have to think its presence is felt in the gay community as well, making it a nearly society-wide experience. It is not all-encompassing; however, as my guesstimate is that it does not exist in the bestiality, necrophiliac or Brazilian-fart-porn communities]

So, JTT is the uncomfortable gray. And to be honest, I’m pretty comfortable wandering that gray, and as such will act as your guide. But, as with all gray areas, it will become an exercise in line-drawing, and slippery-slope arguments will certainly be in effect. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though; I will lay out these lines later in the article, I’m just warming up for now.

Fact #4: I have played JTT much more than the average person. This certainly affects my views on the game and its rules of engagement. I thought people were playing more often, but apparently I am one of the few in the PJTTL [Professional JTT League, of course. There used to be an arena league, but they went under two years back].

Hopefully my experience will be helpful to you. After reading this manifesto, my aim is that each reader not only has a better understanding of the phenomenon, but goes on to explore it more themselves. JTT can be wonderful when used correctly and in the right amounts, kind of like with truffle oil in cooking, or with heroin in a homeless person’s arm.

Fact #5: I hate to say it, but Fitty was right. In his song ‘Just A Little Bit’ he raps “All a nigga really need is a little bit, not a lot baby girl just a little bit,” which is pretty true. That’s not to say that after a night of playing, I think: “I’m glad I didn’t get to really have sex last night and just played JTT”. But at times, JTT ends up being what you NEEDED. It’s a good way to find out a little bit about someone / their expectations / craziness etc. before it’s too late. Because we all have woken up in the morning after not stopping at JTT, not collecting $200, and going directly to jail, a.k.a hearing “We are SOOOO perfect together. We should name our first kid Linoleum, and call her Lynn for short! I’m so glad we found each other”. Well, maybe you haven’t heard that, but the point is that sex is a variable experience for people. What was casual, carnal, and hedonistic for one may have been raw, emotional, and deeply connecting for another. Fuck, I recently heard about a woman who BRANDED a guy with a hot wire hanger bent into an ‘R’ because he never called her after they had sex. This was over two YEARS after the one-night stand. I bet he wishes he stuck with JTT so he could’ve found out first [The article is here: Woman Brands Thoughtless Date With Hot Iron, read it, it’s actually more ridiculous than I can adequately describe here].

I stand by this statement as true, very true indeed… buuuuuuuut… Yeah, there’s a ‘but’. So calm down a second you haters of Fact #5, cause Fact #6 has you covered.

(more…)

The Fast-Casual Mexican Food Throwdown: Qdoba vs. Chipotle

In America, we have a long and storied tradition of great corporate rivalries, especially in the food and drink sector. Generally, the best part about these battles is watching them unfold from the comfort of your couch. Those of us who enjoy watching scantily clad women jump around as chimpanzees kick unsuspecting people in the nuts have benefited greatly from the Miller vs. Budweiser duel, which has generated more ridiculous (not in the good way, which is spelled ridikalus) commercials than any rivalry. For the slightly higher-brow among us there has been the McDonalds vs. Burger King war. Burger King’s weapon of choice: The King, whose goofy smile and shenanigans have kept me entertained for many a 30 sec clip (for those interested, “The King” was the brainchild of the much lauded ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky). McDonald’s weapon: Close ups of their fries, which grace most commercials even if just ever so briefly. But that brief moment is all it takes, because those fries are ADDICTIVE, my guess being that they are seasoned with 7 parts salt, 2 parts crack rock, and a pinch of meth (these are ballpark estimates). And of course, what’s more American than back to back Coke and Pepsi commercials during the Superbowl? There is a new battle, though, one that isn’t being fought on the tube, but on the streets. Yes, I’m referring to the fast-casual Mexican food battle royale that is Qdoba vs. Chipotle.

All the aforementioned battles were duked out by corporations pumping tens of millions of dollars into broadcast advertising every year, in an attempt to sway enough opinions to beat the other guy. The brilliance of this battle royale is that it is fought not by ad agencies but by foot soldiers, delirious Don Quixotes who would ride to the end of the Earth to fight for the honor of their beloved Chiptole…or Qdoba. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Ask any friend who dines frequently at one of the two establishments which one is better, and wait; their eyes will start glowing and then a diatribe of hate for their rival will rain down on you. But which one IS better? Surely there has to be a victor in all this. I will spell it all out for you, so you can make an informed decision, and if you’re lucky, I may even tell you who, if any, (didn’t see that one coming?) I pick as the champion of the Fast – Casual Mexican food showdown.

Here are the relevant factors, laid out in escalating importance. One thing that some fast-casual diners consider is convenience. Both places have been consistent and fast in my experience, and the number of locations seems to be regionally variable, but both chains are expanding. The bottom line is they’re fast food, fast is in the fucking description. Another less important factor is the atmosphere / décor, as a lot of diners will end up taking their food home. Chipotle’s roll with metal tables and a darker, modern, industrial look. Qdoba’s are all decked out in yellow, with light wood tables. I have to give Qdoba the edge for a more inviting atmosphere to slip into a burrito induced food-coma.

Now for some categories that matter. First, the menu. Both feature a pretty similar menu, but then again, all Mexican food is the same (meat / beans + cheese + tortilla = taco / burrito / enchiladas / tostada / taquito…the list goes on). Both made their names building burritos where you start with cilantro-lime rice, chose black or pinto beans, chose your meat, salsas, and cheese or sour cream. It’s literally the same. They even both officially call their rice “cilantro-lime rice”. Chipotle’s other options include tacos, a salad, or a Burrito Bowl (tortilla-less burrito). Qdoba gets fancy by adding the tortilla soup, nachos, quesadillas, breakfast, and the all – too -important queso sauce to the list, on top of calling their tortilla-less burritos a far cooler name (Naked Burrito!). As queso sauce is the spice of life, I have to give it to Qdoba again, especially as Chipotle could similarly expand their menu without adding any ingredients. They have tortilla chips and cheese already, so why can’t I order nachos? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, but it doesn’t add up to me. The last category is one that is near and dear to my heart, and it is quality of ingredients. These ‘fast-casual restaurants’ claim to offer the convenience of fast food and the quality of a sit down establishment. Well, they’re definitely half-right at least. Both places use ‘fresh’ ingredients, in that almost everything is prepared on site, not at a central location and shipped out to individual chains. That doesn’t mean it’s actually fresh however. I give you Qdoba’s guac as exhibit A. That stuff tastes like packaged guac, so who cares if it’s fresh, it has the consistency of doo-doo butter. Chipotle fares much better in the guac department, but still can’t bang with the good stuff Mama Densen makes every time I go home. I do like watching the meat get grilled and sliced at Qdoba, it’s a visual guarantee on their part, but Chipotle has a little edge in my opinion. Maybe it’s because they keep it simpler, or maybe they’re truly more committed to quality, but either way they snag the all-important win. So what’s the deal, which place will I crown?

I wish I could say “neither” was my choice because my palate wouldn’t allow me to eat at either place. But alas, it is not so. In fact, with both chains boasting a location within a five minute walk of my apartment, I happen to eat a LOT of fast casual Mexican. Right now I actually have a pretty bad case of the shakes, which means it’s time to get my fix… of Qdoba’s queso-crack sauce (they took a page out of McDonald’s book, and added crack as a seasoning). Both places are decent at minimum, but for me, Qdoba is markedly better. Here’s what I am going to get there right now:

Chicken Queso Burrito

  • light on the rice
  • black beans
  • grilled peppers
  • onions (extra $)
  • pico de gallo
  • corn salsa
  • habanero salsa
  • shredded cheese

Cheers,

– Densen

Why Jäger Bombs are for Douche Bags & Red Bull Should be Banned

Densen post

For those Trifecta faithfuls out there, and I’m talking the day one cats (yeah, all seven of you not including Warsh, Danny, and Rich’s family), you will remember that I have some dislikes from my introduction. For the Trifecta stumble upons here is a quick recap in no particular order, they are: jean shorts, stupid people, and bees. Today I’d like to add Jäger bombs to that list, as well as each of its components. For those of you who have never spent a long night at a Señor Frogs / Hooters / Carlos / Charlies / (Insert generic cheesy bar chain) and have no idea what I’m talking about, a Jäger bomb is a combination of Jägermeister and energy drink. In the proper form, it is a shot of Jäger that is dropped into half a glass of Red Bull. I am certainly not the first to be drinking the haterade in regards to Jäger bombs, but I have an even better reason than the fact that people who consume them regularly are most likely douche-bags (the infamous My New Haircut video serves as evidence). My hatred for Jäger is rooted in cold hard facts.

Jäger is alcoholic liquorice-candy, and serves no purpose other than to intoxicate. Not a single redeemable drink can be made from Jäger (no, Liquid Crack is not a redeemable drink; now take off those damn jeans shorts!). If you want to get drunk, there are a million better options other than Jäger (a million and one if you count MadDog 20/20’s “Bling Bling Blue Raspberry” flavored fortified wine), so why not try one? Here are some suggestions that may surprise you in that they are tasty, complex, worldly AND can get you staggeringly drunk:

dogfish

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA:

India Pale Ales were first brewed with lots’o hops to help the beer survive the long boat ride from England to India back in the day. This extra-hoppy version clocks in at a surprising 19% ABV, which means drinking a four pack (they don’t sell sixers of this stuff) is equal to about 16 regular beers in alcohol content. Hooray Beer!

cachaca

Cachaça:

This Brazilian made liquor is a close cousin of rum except it’s made from sugar cane instead of the molasses obtained from sugar cane. It has a mellower flavor and is the key ingredient in a cocktail called a caipirinha, which is like a better, stronger, mojito. To prepare, muddle half a lime and 2 tsp. sugar in an old-fashioned, fill with ice, and add a shot or two of cachaça. Pitú is the name of the only brand of cachaça I have ever seen in the US.

mezcal

Mezcal con Gusano:

This literally means ‘liquor with worm’ in Spanish. Mezcal is a type of liquor made from agave, and can include a worm (or scorpion) in the bottle to add flavor. Tequila is also made from agave, and is similar to Mezcal, but NEVER includes a worm (tequila production is heavily regulated and region-restricted, just as champagne and cognac are). Mezcal has a ‘wilder’ taste than your pal Jose Cuervo, so prepare to cowboy up.

Now that you all have some new options to explore, I’ll quickly wrap this up so you can go try one of them. But first, I must denigrate the other half of the Jäger bomb: Red Bull. I personally think Red Bull tastes like doo-doo butter, but that’s not even why I despise it so. My hate stems from the fact that, like Jäger, it serves no purpose. Sure it has caffeine, but why not drink coffee or pop a No-Doz? That way you’ll skip on the sugar and taurine found in Red Bull. Not only do we, the energy drink scientific community, not fully understand the effects of significant taurine consumption over time, but that shit, and I kid you not, is a derivative of bile (yeah, THAT bile) and hasn’t been proven to be energy providing. But go ahead and sling back seven more of those bad boys this weekend. Hell, make em Jäger bombs, you might as well. Oh yeah, did I mention that Red Bull is BANNED in several countries, including Denmark, France, and Iceland due to health concerns? Oh well, drinks up, and Salut!

– Densen

The Biggest Scam in the History of the Flavored Corn-Tortilla Chips Industry

Densen post

I was hoping my first post on Food/Dining would cover a topic that is new and exciting to those not engrossed in the world of ‘foodies’ like myself. However, I have no desire to write about the antioxidant powers of the Goji berry (it’s the new pomegranate apparently, whatever that means), but instead find myself hung up on Doritos. I have discovered the secret to Doritos supremacy in the flavored corn-tortilla chip kingdom, and it’s not that they’re the only ones in said kingdom. It’s not their catchy, spicy, Spanish-sounding name either. They have achieved dominance by making only two kinds of chips, but packaging and selling those flavors under dozens of different names for decades.

Let me break down their brilliance for you. In the beginning, Doritos’ Genesis if you will, there were Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch. Then some genius in a marketing meeting said “Hey, we need to grow this brand, so let’s make Nacho Cheesier and Cooler Ranch instead of, uh… Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch”. Well, that only worked for a little while, but the Pandora’s box of giving new names to the same original two flavors had been opened and there was no going back.

doritos

From the two grandfather flavors, Doritos has birthed an army of bastard child variations whose enticing names seem to promise a meal’s worth of flavors. I remember the first time I was hoodwinked. A few summers ago, I went on a fly-fishing trip to upstate New York with my friend Chris. We stayed out on the water very late, and had eaten little all day as we’d spent the whole time hiking stream to stream. Starving, and with no other options due to the late hours and our location in very rural New York, we begrudgingly headed into a gas station mart to get a late dinner. After a few minutes of searching, and with hope of finding something tasty quickly fading, I looked up to see a shiny black beacon of goodness, a bag of Black Pepper Jack Doritos. I had never heard of these, which only fed my excitement. I love black pepper! I love Jack cheese! My heart thumped to a crescendo as I realized how spicy and cheesy deliciousness would soon be colliding in my woefully empty stomach. My hands trembled as I pried the bag open and tore into the golden triangles, feeling like I had the whole world at my feet. That feeling lasted for .7 seconds. I turned to Chris after my first handful and said, “Dude, these are just Nacho Cheese Doritos”, to which he replied “Wait, there must be some mistake.” No, Chris, there was no mistake, just cold, calculated marketing brilliance.

I realize that my theory may come across as hard to believe, but I have supporting evidence: the Doritos flavors list. If a chip is cheesy with a little heat, it falls into the Nacho family. These flavors include Nacho Chees(ier), Wild White Nacho, Spicy Nacho, Taco, Fiery Habanero, Black Pepper Jack, and Smokin Cheddar BBQ. Is there really a difference between any of the THREE types of ‘Nacho’ Doritos and the ‘Taco’ flavor, much less a difference between the three variations on Nacho? Not all Doritos fall into this category. If a chip is creamy with some added spice (flavor, not necessarily heat), it falls into the Ranch family. Cool(er) Ranch, Ranchero, Salsa Verde, and Blazin Buffalo & Ranch all fit the bill here. I think that Doritos is getting a little too forward with this strategy with their latest creation, Collisions, which combines two flavors in one bag. The flavors are Zesty Taco (clearly of Nacho lineage) and Chipotle Ranch (of Ranch lineage). What was Frito-Lay thinking; let’s not put all our eggs in one basket gentleman. Doritos fans can now just purchase one bag, and get both grandfather flavors, which is a big step back for Doritos.

doritos2

Of course, not literally ALL flavors of Doritos fall into the two categories. I mean, haven’t you ever heard of Guacamole, Smokey Red BBQ, or Pizza Cravers Doritos? Of course you haven’t, because they’re all long discontinued flavors. One’s immediate reaction to such a list of discontinued flavors would likely be that the flavors were yanked because they were neither very good nor popular. Not true my friends. Guacamole was once a favorite flavor of mine, and it was often not in stock at my local 7-11 (the Mecca of Doritos) due to its rampant popularity. Guacamole got axed, like many flavors before it, because it is not a derivative of one of the grandfather flavors. Unique flavors are more expensive, so Guacamole had to say ‘Adios’.

Somewhere, in a corner office at Frito-Lay headquarters, there is a team of two guys whose job it is to create the new flavors for Doritos. One guy’s job is to sit there and think of a new permutation of either Nacho or Ranch tortilla chips. The others guy’s job is to just sit there and laugh at how stupid the stoners and fat kids are for buying the bags of the newest flavor, say Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ, and actually expecting to get something that tastes different than every other bag of Doritos. Well laugh away my man, because I’m just waiting for someone from Fox News to read this fucking post and totally bust your ass for the biggest scam in the history of the flavored corn-tortilla chips industry.

– Densen

Published in: on September 16, 2007 at 9:38 pm  Comments (24)  
Tags: , ,

Ode to the Cove

Densen post

Do you know which state gives out the most B.U.I’s (boating under the influence)? Florida has a ton of coastline, a big ol lake, and year round boating weather, but it’s not them. How about the self-proclaimed ‘Ocean State’, Rhode Island? Nope. Minnesota has 10,000 lakes and you know they’re drinking to take some of the bite out of the cold, but they don’t top the list either. The unassuming state of Missouri wins in a landslide because of a dirty little secret. Their secret is a little place called Party Cove.

Basically I have come to find that around the country there are a few giant annual parties masquerading as more legitimate events, Party Cove being just one of them. Ever seen the infield at a NASCAR race? I used to think that the Kentucky Derby and Preakness were just important horse races. Then I went to Preakness, and found it’s really just a frat party with horses running around it. I know some people that went and didn’t see a single horse (I wouldn’t have had I not entered the infield by walking across the track). The Triple Crown races, however, are for another time, as this is my Ode to the Cove. Unless you live in the Midwest, or happened to catch the July 22nd, 2005 issue of the New York Times as I did, you probably have no idea what Party Cove is. There is a relatively large lake in central Missouri called Lake of the Ozarks that has many arms and coves as it was the product of damming a river. Most of the lake and shore are privately owned, but there is one cove in a public state park of all places, open to all 21 and older (wink wink elbow elbow) called Party Cove. Every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, thousands of boats from all over the Midwest descend upon the half-mile long cove, each carrying people who are there solely to party like the word ‘responsibility’ is French, and we all know how much the Hoosiers love the French. The craft there range in size from one person wave runners to some yachts that would look more at home tied up in places like Miami or South Hampton, and they’re all tied together forming masses of floating islands. In one part of the cove, two absurdly long straight lines of boats face each other in what is known as The Gauntlet, creating a floating Bourbon Street nearly as wild as the original.

Wherever you tie up, the boats nearest you (about 5 boats away on each side) form a walkable social area, an area in size, concentration, and raucousness that is very comparable to a basement frat party. As such, it is very important to choose your tie up spot wisely, as I learned on my trip to The Cove this past Labor Day Weekend. The first day we made friendly with a boat carrying a bachelorette party on the way into the cove. We met them by exchanging a friendly volley from alcohol filled water guns, as is standard for the cove. Their weapon of choice was a rum filled phallic gun, ours a vodka and energy drink watercannon of a Super Soaker. Tying up to a bachelorette group was a wise choice for day one, even though they kept trying to give us their bush league jello shots. The next day, we tied up next to a female heavy group of SIU Edwardsville kids. They made fun of us for drinking Miller High Life Lite, which won me over immediately as I personally would definitely chose Schlitz, and briefly consider goat urine, over High Life Lite. Great choice, but our next one wouldn’t be. A lone middle aged dude on a big pontoon boat motioned to me to tie up next to us not long after we got in. I gave him my best “no way bro” look (the kind I usually only use to settle things when someone thinks they’re before me in line for the beirut table) which he clearly read as he replied, “Don’t worry, I got ten more people coming in, they’re meeting me here”. Well, due to the long boat ride on which there wasn’t much to do but kick back a few, I was less sharp than usual, and agreed to let him tie up. What the fuck was I thinking? His ‘friends’ couldn’t just stroll on over because of the whole ‘we’re in the middle of a lake thing’, so they’d be coming in on a boat. A DIFFERENT boat, one on which they could party without this creepy middle aged dude. Needless to say, after four hours, no one had shown up to meet him, and all his presence did was make it hard to get to the boat full of K-State kids the next boat down. And being that their football team had just lost their opener, which would have been a pretty good upset had they pulled it off, I was trying to show them a good time. A quick swim over with the Super Soaker did the trick.

That was the best part, that I could have swam up to any boat and been welcomed aboard, and probably charmed a few free drinks from the occupants. But that’s what Party Cove is all about, a gathering of like minded individuals coming together in public, but largely below the radar, to do something that society generally looks down upon: party hard. Many a Midwestern Labor Day BBQ is spared dealing with ‘that drunk asshole’ because that same guy instead hitched his bass boat to his Dodge Ram and hauled on up to Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend. Ok, that was just a shot at Midwesterners, but the point holds true; we are a free society, and one of excess, so just as that morbidly obese guy you saw on TLC is going to eat another 17 cheeseburgers today, partiers are going to party. Why not provide them a place to do it where they don’t disturb others and where the Coast Guard can stay safely nearby in case things do get dangerous? Party Cove, ladies and gentleman, is a blessing. Here’s a list of other blessings which I have been to or plan to go to soon, in case you’re thinking of taking a road trip:

  • The Kentucky Derby
  • Preakness
  • A NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway
  • Burning Man
  • Miami Regatta
  • Party Cove part deux
  • New Years Eve in Times Square (At a place with open bar tickets, not outside)

If you can think of any other parties posing as (quasi) legitimate events, feel free to post them, I’ll add any to my list that I couldn’t think of for this post. That’s the Special Guest’s take on things. Marinate on that.

– Densen

Densen

Densen Intro

Let me first say that if you wear jean shorts, you probably shouldn’t read my posts. Confused? We’ll get there; I just wanted to take care of a little business before getting into the good stuff.

I probably should be doing something else right now (specifically laundry, only 1 pair of boxers left before I either switch to mesh shorts or deal with the inevitable: a trip to the local Laundromat which, thankfully, is next door to a Mexican restaurant that has good queso sauce and cheap pitchers of dos equis). But no, I’m sitting at my laptop, writing this little intro so you all can get to know the wonder that is Densen. I’ve chosen mesh shorts over fresh boxers, a small sacrifice but a sacrifice nonetheless, to bring to you my opinions on a few choice subjects. My reasoning is that I have a passion for what I’ll be writing about and that passion has led to my exploration of these topics, mostly dining, beverages, and nightlife. Through my experiences I have gained a fair amount of knowledge and formulated some opinions and tips that I think could be useful for like-minded individuals. You may not agree with what I have to say, but the beauty of this whole internet thing is it works both ways so you can turn my advice into intelligent discourse with your comments. Unless you don’t have anything smart and salient to say, in which case I will be forced to make fun of you, and I’m a nice guy so I don’t want to do that, even though it can be very funny, unless your stupidity forces my hand. I hate stupid people, almost as much as jean shorts. Fuckin jean shorts. Luckily for me, stupid people often wear jean shorts, making them easily identifiable and therefore avoidable. Anyways, what you’ll be getting from me is ancillary to the Trifecta, but hopefully significantly more interesting. In all seriousness, I’d like to thank the guys of the Trifecta for giving me a forum for my thoughts, and hopefully people will find this stuff more valuable than the ranting and raving of your local crazy homeless person, but equally entertaining (Growing up in my hometown we had ‘Opera Man’ and the ridiculous homeless rapper ‘Phenomenon’). I figured I’d end with a little recap since I figure most of you reading this don’t know me, which is not the case with the other guys. So, Densen in a dozen words or less: Likes-cooking, drinking, going out. Dislikes-jean shorts, stupid people, bees. Sound good to you? Then check back soon for my first full post, and be sure to check out the others guys’ stuff, they’re all very smart and funny too.

– Densen

Published in: on September 12, 2007 at 12:08 am  Comments (2)