Archive for April, 2011
Missouri, our good neighbor to the southwest, has some pretty interesting and historical sites for someone looking to get out of Quincy on a nice Spring or Summer day. Some of the places I like to drive to are historic downtown Hannibal, Mark Twain Lake and Wakonda State Park. All these places are about a 30 minute joy ride from here.
You notice that I didn’t include Canton, Mo., in this list? Other than to “party” at Culver-Stockton College, I’ve never really had a reason to go to Canton. Can you blame me? It’s a quaint little town of 2,500 people. You just never hear stories that start off like this: “Dude, there’s this place in Missouri, called Canton, that you have to see…” Well, last week, my girlfriend Belinda actually turned to me and said, “There’s this place, in Canton, called Riverside Smoke House that is supposed to have some of the best barbecue in the area.”
So I’m not going to write Canton off because its small. If I was the kind of person that did that, I would have never founnd places like Weston, which is another small town in Northwest Missouri on the Lewis & Clark trail with a great winery and outdoor venue for blues concerts. Heck, I wouldn’t have the awesome opportunity to write this blog. Needless to say, Riverside is where Belinda and I ended up for her birthday dinner this past weekend.
The place has a real small town feel to it. Sickles, Scythes and other archaic, rusty farm tools are hung up on the wall with nails, the dining room has red and white weave table cloths and concrete floors, the paper towels at each table are spooled around old plumbing, the condiments are held in cardboard six pack bottle containers, there are tables outside on the front patio, and of course, the bar faces you right when you walk in the front door.
For a Saturday night, our wait wasn’t bad. We walked right in and sat down. I had drank the night before, so I wasn’t in the mood for beer. I really wish that I was though. They carry Moose Drool and Trout Slayer Ale, which are brewed and bottled by Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, MT. It’s really good beer, and you don’t see it on the menu at too many places around these parts. Still, you know how unappetizing beer can look after a night of drinking? I had iced tea.
The menu had a decent variety of seafood, barbecue and even breakfast. I went straight for the barbecue. I always look for the pick-two or pick-three options on the menu at barbecue joints. From my experience, they are usually called just that, but Riverside disguises it a little bit. They call the pick-two option “Emilie’s Combo Platter,” and you get to choose between brisket, smoked pork, sausage, BBQ chicken and ribs.
Belinda and I ordered the combo, working together to get the best sample of meats. She picked smoked pork and brisket, and I picked ribs and brisket (at this moment, we faced the fact that we’re both stubborn people who love brisket). The entrée’s also come with two sides, and you can choose from baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, garlic mashed potatoes, potato wedges, green beans, baked potato, garden or Caesar salad, a sweet potato, cinnamon apples and mixed vegetables. And (that’s right, there’s more) the meal is also served with buttered corn on the cob and a corn bread muffin. You have to love the Heartland. Only the Midwest would make corn and corn bread mandatory with your meal.
As for the BBQ sauce, you get four homemade, original sauces to choose from — Gold, Original, Spicy and Sweet. I love the names. No beating around the bush. And why should they? It’s BBQ sauce. No need to jazz it up with special names. Gold is the only one that isn’t named for its flavor, but it’s literally gold in color so I assume that’s where the name comes from. Gold was also my favorite, but they are all good and worth a taste.
After it was all said and done, our check was $25, including drinks. Come on. You can’t beat that for delicious barbecue. And, in my experience, it really is some of the best barbecue in the area. I never really imagined myself saying this, but I recommend making a drive over to Canton. It’s worth it.
Riverside Smoke House is located at 305 Lewis Street. For more info about services, menu and weekly specials, call (573) 288-3986 or access their website. In addition to dining, Riverside also caters. Their hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 6:30am-9pm; Friday, 6:30am-11pm; Saturday, 8am-11pm; Sunday, 8am-8pm.
While walking through your town, if you happen to see a group of reptilian men walking around the first question that probably would come to mind is “I didn’t know The Rolling Stones are on tour?”
The leathery creatures you’ve seen may not be an aging British rock band but a group of creatures simply known as The Lizard People.
In various locations around the country there have been reported sightings of these creatures in swamps and walking the streets. Some seem to be harmless, trying to live a quiet existences while others are much more violent and full of rage.
Deep beneath Los Angeles is rumored to be an intricate working of tunnels filled with Lizard Men guarding a wealth of gold. These lizards are also said to have a mass amount of knowledge about the creation of the earth.
The website for Weird California cites a legend about the Lizard Men from Chief Greenleaf of the Hopi Indians. It is believed the Lizards are scientifically advanced to humans and can predict the coming of earthquakes. The website also says that Chief Greenleaf spoke of golden tablets the Lizard Men kept about the history of earth.
According to the book Midwest Haunting by Lee Prosser there are Lizard Men living on the outskirts of the Kansas City, MO. At nights they sneak into the city and steal supplies. The Lizards are frightened of humans so they try not to make contact.
Midwest Haunting claims the Lizards can shape shift to blend in with the general population. The book concludes that no remains of the creatures have been found.
A final famous lizard person living among us is the “Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp” in South Carolina. The majority of the sightings of the creature took place in the summer of 1988.
According to a CNN report in 2008 the scaly beast made his return after a two decade absence. The video report was shot in light of a local couple’s minivan being ravaged with deep claw and teeth marks that some thought could be a bear. No matter the logical explanation the incident was enough to arose fears in the community that the Lizard Man was back.
The CNN story describes the South Carolina Lizard Man as a seven foot tall creature, covered and scales, three toes and three long claws on each hand. The temperament of the creature is described as bad. What the Lizard Man may have against minivans remains unclear.
Even though they have their shortcomings, the Lizard People should be welcomed into our culture. Treating them like monsters is wrong and eventually could hurt our country. Befriending the Lizards of Los Angeles could lead the creatures into sharing a portion of their gold. This could aid heavily in paying off the national debt. Furthermore our scientists could make amazing leaps with the knowledge about the planet that these Lizards possess.
Also we seem to have a lot in common with these Lizard People. The creatures of Kansas City only collect supplies at night and in disguise. A peaceful trip to the supermarket without unwanted disturbances is something anyone can agree with. Then we have the Lizard Man of South Carolina. After being caught in traffic behind a mini-van I also have wanted to claw and bite the hood of a vehicle.
If America truly is the “great melting pot” then let us welcome the Lizard People. Not only could we take on a wealth of knowledge and potentially create an economic stimulus, we might just gain a few friends.
— Jordan O’Donnell
When my mother was a little girl, one of her biggest fears was a doll.
It was not just any doll, but one of Emmitt the Clown. Those unfamiliar with Emmitt, he is a clown that looks unshaved, a bit dirty, clutches a knapsack and always frowns. My mother was so horrified, she would try and stuff it deep into a hallway closet with the hopes my grandmother would never find it. Sure enough my grandmother would find it and the doll would make its way back to its throne on the mantle. My mother attempted many times to rid herself of this menace, but Emmitt would always return still frowning. My mother was certain this doll was evil.
As it turns out Emmitt the Clown was not the first sinister doll to cause torment. Recently, I was listening to an old episode of the radio show “Coast to Coast” with George Noory. He was interviewing a paranormal investigator named Joshua P. Warren and their discussion centered around one of Warren’s recent investigations that found him in Key West, Florida. He was there visiting the Fort East Martello Museum, which is home to Robert the Haunted Doll.
As the story was told on air Robert originally belonged to Eugene Otto. The doll was given to him by one of his family’s servants. Though the doll was given in the form of a gift, it came harboring evil. This particular servant had become angry with the family and to make matters worse, she was skilled in the art of voodoo.
Eugene loved his new toy and would carry on long conversations with it. His parents would listen in and initially thought it was a young boy playing. When the extended talks between Eugene and Robert escalated to sometimes angry shouting, the parents began to have their concerns. These occurrences were only the beginning of the troubles with little Robert.
The Otto’s would often wake up in the morning or return from being out, to find their home in complete disarray.
Hauntedamericatours.com elaborates on these situations. The site explains The Ottos would find chairs overturned, torn clothes, silverware thrown, and frequently unused rooms looking as if a tornado had come through. Initially The Ottos placed the blame on their son to which Eugene replied the now famous Key West phrase, “Robert Did It!”
New Owners eventually took over the house to find Robert waiting in the attic. Hauntedamericatours.com once again elaborates by pointing out that the family didn’t last in the home long due to finding Robert in various rooms as if he had moved on his own. Even in one situation, the site reports that a family member saw Robert at the foot of a bed clutching a knife and giggling. After hearing that story, it should come as no surprise that Robert is the inspiration for the popular horror movies “Child’s Play.”
On the “Coast to Coast” Show Joshua P. Warren discussed the current state of the curse surrounding Robert. Visitors who wish to take a picture with the haunted doll must politely ask him first. He will give his nod of approval by titling his head to one side or the other. If the visitor dares to snap a picture without asking Robert bad things could be coming their way. The worst is that the “rude” visitor is cursed with bad luck. Hauntedamericatours.com points to the story of a woman from Orlando who claims the doll followed her home in spirit. She would see Robert’s silhouette creeping around the walls and even the doll’s face in a window.
The other negative that can occur if you chose to not have a proper meeting with Robert is the film will be blank or exposed, even on digital cameras. On Robert’s own website robertthedoll.org, a story is cited covering a visit from the Travel Channel. The team attempted to video Robert with top of the line HD cameras. When they would try to review their results the screen was blank. Several explanations were made and the crew worked to fix the problems with the camera. Despite their efforts, still the footage remained blank. Finally they asked Robert if it would be alright to film him, they began to shoot again and upon viewing the results the footage came out clear.
You can still visit Robert today. He currently makes his home at the Fort Martello Museum in Key West Florida. If seeing Robert in person may be to much, go to his website robertthedoll.org.
My days of sleeping in until noon on the weekends passed a long time ago. In college, I only slept in on Saturdays and Sundays, because I was hung over from the night before. The truth is, I don’t like wasting my day anymore. You wake up at 1, 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and the day is completely gone, especially during the colder months when the sun sets at 5 p.m. Don’t get me wrong. I still go out and drink and hoot-and-holler and all that, but I’ve discovered the power of moderation, an internal alarm clock, fresh toothpaste, and if all else fails, ice cold water.
Waking up early has its benefits. For one thing, it means you have a greater chance to experience something you haven’t, or in this case, taste something new and delicious — the “It’s All Greek to Me Omelet” breakfast at Village Inn.
Normally, I like to write about local restaurants and promote local business. Village Inn, on the other hand, is a chain. I had no intention of writing about my meal until I tasted it. Plus, the Village Inn seems to be a traditional breakfast stop on Sundays for families in Quincy, so I figure I’ll give it its due.
Most people were wearing formal clothing, so I assume the routine is something like church and then breakfast. I also saw a lot of heaping piles of syrup-drenched pancakes. I’m up for a big stack of flap jacks as much as the next guy, but the menu was a little too rich for me. Everything was smothered in dollops of butter and fruit and fruity syrup and jam and jelly and whip cream; I think I even saw a stack with coffee and caramel on it? That’s not me. I wanted breakfast, not dessert. I had the whole day ahead of me, and I didn’t want to spend it with a rock of sugar in my gut. That’s when I saw the Greek to Me omelet, which seemed like an excellent alternative.
I’m a big fan of Mediterranean flavors. I like the strong bitterness of feta cheese and olives, and I like that the ingredients are very healthy and organic. It’s a diet rich in fruits and vegetables unique to our everyday steak-n-potatoes: tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, artichokes, okra, lentils and chickpeas. A Mediterranean diet also utilizes healthy cooking practices that we don’t in our traditional Western diet. This includes cooking with olive oil instead of butter or vegetable oil, and replacing red meat, which can be high in saturated fat, with leaner lamb and fish. Even their fatty foods, like avocados (which are nicknamed the “butter pear” and contain 30 grams of fat) are rich in vitamins and monosaturated fat. Monosaturated fat is considered a “good” kind of fat that actually lowers cholesterol.
The Greek to Me omelet combines all of these good things — artichokes, spinach, fresh tomatoes and feta cheese tucked inside an egg. It tastes fantastic, and it’s a nice break away from the traditional American breakfast. I think you can also order the omelet with only egg whites, which cuts down on the fat without cutting out the protein. If you do have a sweet tooth, the meal is served with a side of vanilla yogurt, naturally sweetened with honey and granola, which is a much healthier dairy alternative to whip cream.
I know, I know. This is America, the land of deep-fried butter, the KFC Double Down (which I can’t, in good conscious, ever order), and the Cheesecake Factory’s Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake, but America is also a land with a startlingly high rate of heart disease. So, I challenge you to step away from the biscuits and sausage gravy for one morning, head over to Village Inn, and try the Greek omelet. At just over $5, you don’t have anything to lose.
Now that I’m working three jobs, Mondays are a demoralizing nightmare. Sometimes it can feel like standing at the base of K2 with a backpack full of lead bars and bricks. But hey, you do what you do to get by. I have worked multiple jobs since I was in high school, bagging groceries at Hy-Vee on Broadway and then schlep across the parking lot to peddle tacos at Taco Bell. What I’m trying to say is that I’m used to it, but, no matter how accustomed I am to labor, I still need to take the edge off sometimes.
A good martini will do the trick. All the booze with none of the bite. But martinis aren’t cheap. Who wants to work their butt off all week only to go out and blow it all in one night for $8 drinks. Well, you do have some options. If you followed my blog from the beginning, you’ve read about half price martinis at Fuji. There’s also a new contender special for those martini drinkers out there: Martini Monday’s at One Restaurant and Bar.
One has set aside a menu of $5 martinis especially for those beginning-of-the-work-week, Monday blues. I know their good and strong, because I make them. For anyone that doesn’t know, one of my three jobs is bartending at One. I also get to drink the martinis — not while I’m working of course. I get to partake, because I don’t usually work there on Mondays.
Our usual Monday bartender’s name is RJ, and he came to Quincy all the way from Atlantic City in New Jersey, where he worked as a bartender in busy clubs for many years. He knows how to make just about any drink that’s out there and then some. I didn’t have a whole lot of bartending experience when I started, so, for my first few weeks, I’d always go to RJ when someone would order a dirty Bombay martini on the rocks, which is basically Bombay Sapphire gin, a little vermouth, olive juice and ice. I’ve gotten a little better over the past month, but RJ is still the man to go to for a good martini.
If I had to pick my favorite $5 martinis at One, I would say I like the melon ball. It’s nice and froofy. You won’t look masculine at all when you drink it, but it’s good. I like the grape martini too. You’ll have to come in and go down the list. I believe we have about five or six to choose from, and we might be adding more. I wouldn’t recommend doing this all in one night, or you’re going to have an even rougher Tuesday morning. But hey, the more you drink, the better they taste.
Here’s how my weekend was supposed to shake down:
I was supposed to get off work from my day job at 4 p.m. on Friday and bartend at One Restaurant at 5 p.m. until 1 in the morning. Usually we all go to The Phoenix after we shut the bar down and blow our tip money. Get rowdy.
Saturday I had the same schedule, more or less. Saturdays are my favorite nights to bartend because One is always packed with reservations and good regulars at the bar. Then I was supposed to cover the Bret Michaels concert for the The Local Q on Sunday. Sounds like a great a weekend right? Well, the reason I say it was “supposed to shake down” this way is because it didn’t.
On Thursday night I caught one of the worst stomach bugs I’ve ever had. I was as sick as a dog, and my doc put me on weekend house arrest.
But I’m not the type to stay down and out. It’s just not in my nature. I admit I rested most of the weekend. I took the opportunity to catch up on some new albums by my favorite musicians. I didn’t have to download anything illegally or disobey my doc’s orders and drive to the record store. I actually used this website called Grooveshark (www.groveshark.com). If you create an account, you can search almost any artist and create playlists just like you would in itunes, only YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY ANYTHING. That’s right. Creating an account is completely free; the music is streamed live on the internet so you don’t have to buy the mp3s; you have complete control over the music you want to listen to; best of all, no commercials. I’ve found some of the most obscure artists. It’s one of the greatest things on the internet right now. Literally.
Saturday was a different story. I was getting a little strength back. My girlfriend had to work, so I called up my buddy to hang out and watch some stuff on Netflix. I purchased a subscription to Netflix for $7.99/month, and I can stream thousands of movies, documentaries and commercialless TV shows in season sequence right from my computer, which I have hooked up directly to my television.
My buddy’s been real into conspiracy theories lately, so I thought he might like to check out a documentary called Collapse. It’s basically a videotaped interview with a man named Michael C. Ruppert, who explains his findings and theories about the collapse of modern industrialized civilization. Unfortunately for my state of mind, Mike seems to be a very smart and experienced man. I won’t dive into his background. If you want to know more, do some research or watch the documentary. If I had to give you the most concise synopsis I could, I would tell you that Mike has spent 30 years analyzing mainstream media and world economics. He states that we conduct our lives as if our economy will perpetually progress, but we must face the reality that our economy is fueled entirely by fossil fuels, which are a finite resource. Once those resources run out, the world economy will implode, and, essentially, industrialized civilization will collapse.
You have to take this kind of theory with a grain of salt. You can’t let fear run your life, but Mike does have some good points. You might want to know how to live off the land; grow food without chemical fertilizers or genetically enhanced seeds. Invest in organic seeds. You might want to know how to build your own shelter. I feel the important message is to be resourceful.
I know I’m resourceful. While my buddy wanted to drink of few beers while we were watching the documentary, I knew that would tear my stomach up and possibly make me sicker. My doc told me to drink white soda. So I used my noggin, and we compromised. If you mix white soda with Evan Williams Honey Reserve whiskey, it won’t tear up your stomach, and it tastes awesome. Simple recipe: fill a rocks glass with ice, add 1oz or so of Honey Reserve and fill the glass
the rest of the way with 7Up.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend everyone drink when they’re ill. I know my body, I knew how I felt and I knew I could handle it. Plus, I only had a drink or two. I still took it easy. Remember, drinking while you are sick can dehydrate you, so you probably shouldn’t do it at all.
So, what’s the point to this whole blog?
Simple: You live in an age where media and information are easier to access than they have ever been. Ever. Take advantage of it. Challenge your mind. Learn Something. I pay next to nothing to access all the movies, music, news and print media (ebooks) I want. I was supposed to have a very socially stimulating weekend. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Instead of burying my head in the sand, I had a very intellectually stimulating weekend even though I had to spend most of it lying on the couch.