Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mental Vacation

Lately I’ve been experiencing a profound sense of nostalgia. I’ve been seeking songs, movies, images from a time two decades before I was even born. Past-life regression practitioners would claim that my longing for the past represents an attempt by my former self to contact me. Well, I’ve heard what people admit to under hypnosis, and I’m not about to hand over control of my faculties to a spiritualist. Still, there must be a trigger for my neurosis-de-jure – and this time I’m pretty sure it’s not something I ate.

Take this picture for instance. Try to look past the plaid skirts and bobby socks for a moment and ask yourself who would pass up a chance to travel in time and spend a carefree afternoon in a malt shop? I’m equally intrigued by photos like these two, and find myself staring at them – wondering what life would have been like to live in a war-time steel town. Then there’s my renewed fascination with art deco locomotives – please, no Freudian comments here folks, it’s nothing like that - really. Big band music, film noir movies, and Time Life photo journals have become like comfort food for me, and I’m eagerly consuming all that I can.

If I dig a little I might be able to come up with an on-the-fly diagnosis as I write this entry. Here’s one possible explanation: The past 18 months have been very traumatic for my family. We’ve battled cancer and are still in the midst of a long recovery. But, scans are clear, Ema’s pain is easing, and as things fold back into whatever our new ‘normal’ lives will be – living with the immutable threat of the disease, perhaps my mind is taking a little vacation. For over a year, I was forced to live every moment as it was dealt – with no room for anything but the immediate present and worrying about the future. There was no time to reminisce, think about the past in any context, and certainly no time to daydream about what life would have been like some six decades ago chatting with friends over a cherry Coke.

If I’m correct, and my mental holiday is just that – a well-deserved respite from the mayhem, then it won’t last too long. For the moment at least, my preoccupation with another era provides sanctuary from any pending turmoil and allows me time to rally my wits for the next battle. Don’t worry baby - I’ll be ready.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 7 - Countdown to Christmas

Annabelle’s mother sat at a drop-leaf table which was flush with the far wall of the small room. A ceiling fan moaned and buzzed as the motor, which had been in its death throes for the better part of a year, labored for one more revolution of its dusty, yellowed blades. Everything in the parlor, in the whole house for that matter, looked much older than it should. Even Annabelle's mother, Charlotte who at 36 should be in the prime of life, wore the weathered countenance and chalky pallor of a much older woman.

Charlotte smiled as Annabelle approached, and she placed her cigarette in the ashtray. “Come here.” Charlotte said, patting her skirt above her knee. Annabelle scooted onto her mother’s lap and wrapped her arms around her, resting her head on her shoulder. She closed her eyes as she squeezed her mother and as she opened them her gaze fell onto a wall calendar which hung in the laundry room. The picture for December depicted Santa clutching a bag Chesterfield cartons. His ripened cheeks glowed red and healthy and his teeth sparkled. Annabelle pulled back and looked at her mother’s face. Charlotte smiled, pulled a few strands of hair away from her daughters face. “You are so pretty,” Charlotte said. Annabelle just looked into her mother’s eyes. They were bloodshot, but not too bad. There were hundreds of tiny wrinkles around her lips that Annabelle hadn’t noticed before. She stared at them, wondering if she would have wrinkles like that when she gets old. “Mommy?” Annabelle said, “Does Santa Clause drink?” Charlotte took a breath that triggered a cough which turned into a deeper, throaty bellow. Annabelle slid off her lap and put her hand on her mom’s back as the coughing continued. When it finally stopped, Charlotte reached for her cigarette and took a long drag, blew the smoke toward the fan, then snuffed out the remainder in the ashtray. When she turned back to her daughter, Annabelle saw that her eyes were very red. “That’s a funny question. I don’t think he does.” Charlotte said, reaching for her wine glass on the table. “I saw him on the back of one of dad’s magazines and he was drinking a bottle like daddy drinks.” Charlotte was quiet for a moment. She sat back in her chair and took a sip of wine. Annabelle used that moment to walk into the laundry room and pluck the calendar off its nail. She walked it back to her mom and showed her the picture. “Does he smoke too?” Annabelle said, placing the calendar on the table. “Santa Clause doesn’t do either of those things honey, and neither should you.” And as she spoke, Charlotte looked down at the table, eyeing the evidence of her hypocrisy.

[to be continued. . .]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 8 - Countdown to Christmas

There’s a problem here, and it’s not an easy one to solve. Santa Clause is recognized as a fictional character, or, more precisely, is not recognized as a real person, by the United States Copyright Office. Therefore, unless you duplicate the copyrighted version of Santa that CocaCola designed some 75 years ago, he can work for you to sell anything you want! Through the decades, advertisers invented often disturbing, certainly insulting ways of exploiting Saint Nick as their seasonal go-to guy for shilling just about every product and service imaginable. Such irresponsible advertising surely had consequences on children whose innocent visions of Santa were continually challenged.

Seven-year-old Annabelle walked through the living room and glanced at the back cover of her father’s “Field and Stream” that sat on the edge of the coffee table. She stopped, looked closer, and was shocked at the sight of Santa drinking the same funny-smelling juice that makes her daddy boil with rage, throw his shoes at the news reporter on the TV, and curse in his sleep. Annabelle was lost as she tried to decide whether her discovery made daddy’s actions acceptable, or Santa’s actions objectionable. Certainly these two worlds could not exist within such a small universe. She picked up the magazine and thought about asking daddy about the ad, but remembered that by this point of the evening he’s halfway through another bottle and she could already hear Walter Cronkite’s voice escaping from the den. Her mom would have an answer, and luckily she was easy to find. Annabelle followed the pungent scent of Chesterfields to the small parlor off the kitchen. She could hear the “chink” of her mom’s cigarette lighter from the hallway, and as she approached the parlor, the air grew thick and grey.

[continued tomorrow]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 10 - Countdown to Christmas

Most of you over the tender age of 35 can recall images of Santa with his pipe. Although currently out of vogue, I suspect pipes will have a resurgence of popularity someday – possibly to the extent that cigars had a decade ago. Pipe smoking was always regarded as a genteel pastime, a dignified pleasure enjoyed by men of worth who earned their lot in life and deserved the peaceful swirling bliss that only a well-packed pipe could deliver. People like your favorite grandpa, the tenacious sea captain, the entire English department faculty, or indeed – Santa Claus.

Over the next few days I’ll post photos showing the image of Santa savagely, perversely manipulated by Madison Avenue to promote very un-Santa-like products. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Easiest Way to Help Find a Cure

Hi Folks! Feel the urge to somehow ‘give back’ to humanity, but simply don’t have the time? Got a computer that’s powered on most of the day, but not always in use? Then let your computer(s) donate their time instead! Step on up and join The Unreal OC team on World Community Grid.

If you're already a member of WCG and want to join The Unreal OC team, then click HERE.

If you'd like to join WCG and become a team member of The Unreal OC, click HERE.

World Community Grid's mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Donate the time your computer is turned on, but is idle, to projects that benefit humanity! The WCG (World Community Grid) provides the secure software that does it all for free, and you become part of a community that is helping to change the world. Once you install the software, you will be participating in World Community Grid. No other action must be taken; it's that simple!

As of this posting, there are over 417,000 members of WCG with over 1,130,000 devices (computers) donating time on the network, worldwide.

Ema and I are donating CPU cycles during the times our three home computers are on, but not in use, to Help Conquer Cancer, which is just one of the programs offered through the WCG. But, as you’ll see from the WCG Web site, there are other humanitarian and scientific projects that you can choose from as well.

Choose your cause, download the free software, and you’ll automatically become a member of The Unreal OC team!

I’ll post periodic status reports on this blog, but you can also visit the WCG site anytime to see how our team is doing and to check your individual contribution.

And by the way – tell a friend! Anyone can join WCG, and The Unreal OC team. Once we get about a dozen members we can join in on team challenges, but more on that later.

Ema and I will be talking more about this during our next podcast, but you can also send us an email with any questions and we’ll be happy to help.



How Grid Technology Works
Making a difference has never been easier! Grid technology is simple and safe to use. To start, you register, then download and install a small program or "agent" onto your computer.

When idle, your computer will request data on a specific project from World Community Grid's server. It will then perform computations on this data, send the results back to the server, and ask the server for a new piece of work. Each computation that your computer performs provides scientists with critical information that accelerates the pace of research!

World Community Grid runs on software called BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing,) developed at University of California, Berkeley, USA with funding from NSF (National Science Foundation).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pei Wei Asian Diner - Seal Beach / Los Alamitos Review

Pei Wei Asian Diner in Seal Beach opened just about one year ago and serves up tasty Asian fusion cuisine for a decent price. The chain is owned by the folks at PF Changs, and that influence is apparent in the quality of food, the service, and even the attention to the decor with dark, angular Asian forms and plenty of wood, stone, and water environmentals. There’s seating available inside, but my daughter and I opted for take-out and ordered from the menu attached to the front counter. We were taking home food for the whole family, and as always, finding something other than corn dogs or grilled cheese that my four- and six-year olds will eat is a challenge. Happily, I saw that Pei Wei offered very reasonably-priced kids choices including the Lo Mein which is chicken with egg noodles. For the rest of us I ordered the shrimp fried rice, the honey seared chicken, and sweet and sour chicken on fried rice. Brown or steamed rice is included, or you can opt for fried rice with any entrĂ©e for only one dollar more. All three of these large-portioned main dishes were packed in easily-resealable clear lid containers which made both food identification and carting the left-overs to work a breeze.

All of the food was excellent, in par with what I remember about PF Changs typical fare. I would have liked to see more egg in the fried rice, but that’s a matter of preference, and for my wife, who doesn’t like egg all that much, she’d probably like to see less. Unlike the majority of food we get from our other local Asian take-out, Pick Up Stix, the food at Pei Wei was distinctively flavorful and fresh. It’s common that carton carry-out food can taste rather homogenized as if all the food came from the same pot. This is especially the case of Asian foods where several flavors are held captive in a single box and the time from pan to plate allows all the flavors to congeal. Somehow the food we brought home from Pei Wei avoided that problem, or perhaps it was just so good that our taste buds were giddily preoccupied and we ignored it. Within a few bites we knew that Pei Wei was going to replace Pick Up Stix as our Asian food choice. With competitive prices, kid-friendly foods, and potentially addicting vittles, we’ll be back soon for sure.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Got a New Hammer

I bought this $90 hammer for $12 with free shipping on Buy.com. I love Buy.com. Two weeks ago I bought a power accessory kit for my iPhone for $3.95 with free shipping. I was at Circuit City yesterday and saw the iPhone car charger - just one of the three power accessories that came in my kit - for $39.

I suppose the only thing I don't like about Buy.com is that, by offering new items at below-yard-sale-prices, I feel obligated to purchase things I really don't need. In fact, in a brilliant marketing maneuver, Buy.com has somehow reversed the effects of 'buyer's remorse' to produce guilt when I don't buy something.

Right now I'm feeling guilty about not shopping for my wife's Christmas gift yet. I wonder if she'd like a hammer? Naw. . .I have a sneaking suspicion she'd use it to make sure I wasn't around to celebrate the new year.

Until next time. . .

- Tom

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Are You Being Manipulated by Your Candidate?

I may be the last person people go to for political advice. Primarily because I just don't follow politics, so I'm about as far from an authority as you could find. It took Senator Obama to make me sit up and take notice - to root for the candidate with integrity.

Today I'm angry. I'm angry because of McCain's blatant mischaracterization of Obama. How many times during the debates and McCain's speeches did you hear him mention the $3 million earmark for the "overhead projector for a planetarium?" Look, I knew from the first time I heard that that it had to be false - who wouldn't assume that? Overhead projectors go for $29.00 on eBay - Less than $200.00 brand new! More importantly, what does that say about the person making that claim? McCain is banking on people listening and reacting instead of listening and thinking. That's manipulation my friends, and like so many politicians, McCain is attempting to manipulate the public.

The "overhead projector" was in fact the main projection system for the planetarium in Chicago, IL. The earmark was used to replace the 40-year-old existing projection system. This earmark was both justified in the interest of science and education as well as potential revenue for the city from tourism. The point is that McCain wasn't misinformed - he knew exactly what the earmark was for, but chose to exaggerate the story to draw people away from his opponent. Do we want a president who purposefully misleads the people of this country to promote his agenda?

One final point. Integrity isn't something you can claim you have, and it isn't something you can buy - it's earned. You earn it by demonstrating honesty. We don't need a maverick in the White House, we need a president with integrity - you choose.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2002 Toyota Avalon

I'm selling my 2002 Toyota Avalon - $9,750. 00. Details HERE.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sallys Audio

I've been working with The Salvation Army to help them sell some of their donated stereo equipment on CraigsList. I price this stuff to sell, so if you're interested, follow THIS link and check out the booty. . .or is that bounty?

Items are updated throughout the week, so subscribe to the blog to keep informed of new items.



Sunday, August 31, 2008

Too Sick to Groom?

Went to an arcade today with the family - Nickle Nickle - all games take nickles instead of quarters, hence the name. Ema described it as "Kind of like Chuck E. Cheese, but not quite as formal." I laughed so hard my cranberry Slushie ran out my nose.

Then it was off to haircuts for us boys where an elderly barber confessed he wasn't feeling well then proceeded to tell me how he shouldn't have come to work today with such a high fever. I believe that people in charge of grooming others should abide by strict rules against showing up to work while sick and then massaging viruses into the scalps of unsuspecting clientele. With every passing hour, I await the symptoms - no, I welcome them so the tortuous waiting can be over and the healing can begin. Soon, tonight probably, as I lay sweating in my sheets, fighting for each breath and praying for the peace that only the soft kiss of death can bring, I'll think of my experience at the barber shop, my lousy haircut, and whether or not the old man who cut my hair has someone to take care of him when he's sick. Right now I just wish I would have tipped him more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Really? Is That All You Could Think Of???

Found this graffiti scrawled onto a sink in a 7-Eleven bathroom in Oxnard, CA. Interestingly, it was in the women's bathroom (yes, there's an explanation - the men's was closed due to a flooding incident that I had very little to do with). My point is this: If you're going to take the time and effort to scribe something into a sink, to permanently leave your mark for an audience of potentially millions of weary travelers and other weirdos, couldn't you come up with something more creative? How about "Carpe Diem?" "Free Tibet?" or the venue-appropriate "Don't Eat the Hotdogs!!!" Then again, perhaps in her moment of enlightened artistic expression, the patron simply felt compelled to say it like it is. While "Fart Barf" doesn't lend much to the imagination (or possibly too much), and may not find its way into any of Bartlett's upcoming editions, it certainly paints a clear picture and evokes a visceral response from the reader.

So yes, perhaps this was all the author could think of; and the more I consider the work, as one would reflect on any great piece of literature, the more it speaks to me. I'm humbled by its truth and simplicity. So, to the author, whoever and wherever you may be - my hat is off to you. May you continue finding inspiration in unlikely places, and sharing your porcelain poetry with all who deserve to appreciate your art.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Unreal OC is Back!

Well folks Ema and Tom are back after a five month hiatus. You’ll hear about our medical journey, but don’t worry – it’s all good news. You’ll also hear some of your favorite bits like Nick’s List, Things I Hate, Things I Love, and we’ve even resurrected the Police Blotter!

Click HERE to Listen.

Click HERE to be transported to The Unreal OC Web Page.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

So proud. . .

You're looking at an unaltered photo of my 11-year-old son's desk. People say he takes after his old man when it comes to his love of gadgets. I'm just happy that he's wise enough to choose healthy hobbies.

As a tween, he'll be subjected to many "hobby" choices over the next few years. He's entering a time of growth and decision, where he'll begin laying down the foundation for who he'll become as an adult.
So what if he has four PDAs, seven gaming platforms, his own computer and a love of cheesy horror movies.?

Yeah, who wouldn't be proud of such a fine young man?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Happy Birthday ?

Upcoming Birthdays

Happy Birthday!

Wow! An automated birthday greeting from Geni is my first official birthday wish!

Well, I just don't know what to say to the database that found time to send me such a sincere, heart-felt sentiment.

Thank you, Geni!

Now, back to business. . .who's got the cake?!?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

SNL - Hit or Miss?

SNL Has always been hit or miss with me. This one is pretty good. . .

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mel's Drive-In Seal Beach - Three Strikes

It's rare that a reviewer (or casual blogger) gives an establishment three tries to get it right. I'm sorry to say that my third trip to Mel's, although better than the previous two, still left my wallet too light and my appetitie unsatisfied.

(You can read my first two reviews of Mel's

I will say that our server, Maria was fantastic. Prompt, polite, and very friendly. I'm a firm believer in giving props to my servers and not blaming them for things they have no control over. In fact, my only gripe this time was the prices were still too high. I'm sorry, but a toasted egg bagel should NOT cost $3.00, or, (gasp!) $3.50 with cream cheese.

The photo here shows my whole grain pancakes ($6.75 - as shown, not including coffee). This was the normal size order - 3 pancakes. There's also an option for a short stack. I don't know how many pancakes you get with that - 1 1/2? Anyway, these tasted fine, but aren't pancakes usually one of the cheapest items on most menus? Mind you, this is a DINER, and a "DRIVE-IN" diner at that. These pancakes should be no more than $5.00. The bagel - $1.75 or $2.25 with cream cheese. I'm suggesting these prices in hopes that someone from Mel's corporate office accepts my invitation to read these reviews and adjusts their prices down to where a normal family who's paying $4.00 a gallon for gas to arrive at Mel's can actually afford to eat there.

Yes, I realize that the days of $5.00 breakfasts (at least in Southern California) are gone. I've witnessed the radical, recent jump of lunch prices from $7 - $10, and have eaten my share of $11.00 burgers. But breakfasts, especially ones in 'diners' should be reasonable. Or not. It's up to Mel's to decide if they want to stay in business. I, for one am not going back until the prices become more appropriate relative to the portion size and the 'diner' genre.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Blog for Ema's Recovery

I created a new blog exclusively for Ema's recovery, and copied all of the "Breathe In, Breathe out" posts to it.

I'll be updating this more often, and it will also include posts from Ema's own cancer journal which she has kept from the beginning of this whole escapade.

If you'd like to subscribe, here's a link to the RSS.

You can also subscribe to this new blog via email notifications by going to the new blog and entering your email into the field at the top of the page.

Thanks folks,


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Two Pounds Per Week

Started a new diet, and this time it's personal! But I'm sharing my progress with y'all! http://www.twopoundsperweek.com Stop on by!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Am I Totally Losing it???

Lately Ema has been looking at me a bit funny. There have been a couple 'Barefoot in the Garage' episodes that have left her wondering if I've finally gone off the deep end.

Most recently, this happened today when I played her my latest episode.

About a week ago, I made an episode that just about motivated her to send me out for milk and change the locks.

Perhaps she's right. I may be too far gone to tell anymore. I'll let you decide.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Well - It's done and we LOVE it! Ema knew she didn't want to watch her hair fall out, day-by-day and feel self-conscious about it. Plus, she said looking in the mirror was becoming depressing because she looked sicker than she really is!

She called Linda and between the three of us, we rid her of all that pesky hair. The kids were great with it - even Juliana said "Mommy, you look beautiful!"

Chemotherapy is hard. She has her good days and bad. There's one drug, in particular, that Ema gets to help her boost her immune system that makes her feel flu-ish - ironic, ehe? Besides that, and the general fatigue from the treatments, she's doing great, and her attitude is as terrific as ever.

More photos HERE.

Back soon -


Sunday, March 2, 2008

First Signs of Spring - Call for Photos

Hi -

As part of an [Utterz] "Barefoot in the Garage" photo project, I'm collecting "First Signs of Spring" photos from around the world. Of course, if you live south of the equator, you can send me your "First Signs of Fall" pics.

Send them to barefootinthegarage AT gmail.com, and you'll see them posted HERE.

If you send me the city you're in, I'll add that to the map in comments section below your photo.

You can hear more about this project here.



Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sunset Gondola

Our friends own Sunset Gondola in Sunset Beach - Give them a try!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Buster's Beach House - Long Beach - Review

I purposely waited until our second visit to Buster’s Beach House before I wrote this post because I wanted to give it a fair shake. I’m pleased to say that this visit was nearly as enjoyable as our first. Only the service suffered this time, but I’ll get into that later.

Buster’s is located in what was once called Seaport Village in Long Beach, California. It’s off the beaten path, in a picturesque little village on the Seal Beach border. The restaurant is in the building previously occupied by the Jolly Roger restaurant. Long-time locals will remember that the Jolly Roger was there for decades, and, in fact, Busters is owned by the same parent company, Aloha Restaurants. Somehow it’s comforting for me to know that the Jolly Roger of my youth didn’t go out of business, but was simply ‘swapped out’ for a new model. But I digress.

Come for the food. . . Busters offers a good variety of dishes that span the spectrum from pizza (served on a scaled-down surfboard) to prime rib, to fresh seafood, salads, and even a Thai lettuce wrap. To be honest, we’ve only tried the pizza, chicken sandwich, cheeseburger combo, tortilla soup, and clam chowder, but all were very good. Even something as seemingly easy to pour out of a can as tortilla soup tasted particularly good as if Buster’s actually put thought into the ingredients instead of making it taste like every other tortilla soup in town. Portions are generous as well, so bring your appetite or plan on taking some home. For desert, try the Fruit Fantasia, a large, pizza-sized fruit pastry served on a surfboard . . . tasty and somewhat healthy – can’t beat that!

Stay for the view. . . We were fortunate to sit in the same part of the dining room during both visits, and I recommend asking the hostess for a table with a view. Buster’s is situated at the head of a jetty overlooking Alamitos Bay, and offers one of the most picturesque vistas in Long Beach.

Service is adequate, although, on our last visit, our waitress visited our table about half as much as we needed – considering we were dining with our three children. This can’t be blamed on how busy she was because I could see her just standing in an area near the kitchen, apparently waiting for someone to snap their fingers. By contrast, service during our fist visit was very good. So much for consistency. This averages out to an ‘adequate’ rating in my book.

The combination of great good, big portions, and a fantastic view make Buster’s one of Long Beach’s more unique family dining experiences. Let’s hope that its location doesn’t work against it as it has to so many other failed restaurants in the same little village. Spread the word!

You can find Buster's Beach House at:

168 N Marina Dr
Long Beach, CA 90803
(562) 598-9431
Get directions

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Unreal OC Promo

Ema went on a rant during our latest podcast (#51), and it was classic enough to isolate and send out to the world. Enjoy. www.theunrealoc.com

Mobile post sent by The Unreal OC using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Barefoot in the Garage 8

Mobile post sent by The Unreal OC using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Friday, January 4, 2008

Barefoot in the Garage # 6

Mobile post sent by The Unreal OC using Utterz. Replies. mp3

The Small Cafe - Long Beach California

Decided to go somewhere besides Mel's last night, and that kind of rash decision making paid off. The Small Cafe in the heart of Naples Island in Long Beach proved somewhat of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the food at The Small Cafe is very flavorful. However the wait for the food, the overall atmosphere (very bright lights at eye level over each table), and the odd tasting grilled cheese sandwich left us wondering if we should give this diner a second chance.

The 20 minute wait for our food could be explained by the fact that there's only one cook in the tiny kitchen. Granted, he's a great short-order cook, but when there's only two other tables occupied in the restaurant and we had to wait that long, it makes us wonder how long of a wait there would be if the place was packed.

I had the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich which was one of the best I've ever tasted. It came with my choice of side dishes, and I chose a small salad. My wife had the vegetarian sandwich which consisted of a variety of grilled vegetables topped with a slice of mozzarella. This was also quite good. My oldest son had the tripple-decker club sandwich which was delicious. The sandwich had a couple of nice touches not usually found on clubs - thick bacon and good quality turkey. Those two ingredients may have bumped the price up by a buck or two, but certainly also made for a more memorable meal.

My daughter's grilled cheese was just plain off. I don't know if they used Velveta cheese instead of American, or if they ran out of both and used a dollup of Frito Lay nacho cheese, but it just tasted wrong. Not spoiled, mind you, just not right. The waitress happily offered another meal, but my daughter chose the blueberry muffin instead.

The muffin was so good that we decided to get four of them to go to have for breakfast this morning.

So yes, The Small Cafe does go the extra mile in selecting quality ingredients and even making something as mundane as a blueberry muffin memorable. This cafe serves up tasty food, and if you don't mind the possibility of having to wait a little while, this cafe may be worth putting on your regular lunch list.

Barefoot in the Garage # 5

Mobile post sent by The Unreal OC using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mel's Drive-In Seal Beach - Take Two

I'm not usually one to add salt to my food, but this morning I made an exception when faced with Mel's version of a vegetable omelet. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the wizardry of such established egg and potato masters as The Porch, Chuck's, and The Potholder - all in Long Beach, or Cafe Del Sol, here in Los Alamitos. Maybe Mel's just needs time to become 'seasoned' in their food preparation. Is it fair for me to expect greatness from such a new kitchen? I just figured that since it's part of a chain, the chef's would be with the program out of the gate.

With my omelet, I had my choice of Mel's Special Grilled potatoes or regular hash browns. I suppose I started worrying about this meal when I asked the waitress which one she recommended and she said the hash browns. They had even less taste than the omelet which had only one taste that rose above all others - burnt. It wasn't scorched, just singed enough to become the dominant taste of the entire dish.

My daughter's French Toast was fine, but unremarkable. My dad had two eggs, scrambled and an English Muffin - nothing there to complain about.

Trust me when I say that I really want to like this diner. I live close by and have been looking forward to its opening for nearly a year. That being said, we will continue to visit Mel's to try out different menu items, and I'll continue to have faith that one day soon I'll experience a meal there which will leave me smiling with the comforting realization that our neighborhood diner has finally arrived.

I look forward to writing that review.

Barefoot in the Garage # 2

Mobile post sent by The Unreal OC using Utterz. Replies. mp3