Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stephen's Suggestions 7/27/2011

Another burger for your culinary pleasure, real life COPS, Breaking Bad, and did somebody say football?

The "Detention" - 2 weeks worth of nutrition.

SUMMER OF BURGERS: Bernie's Burger Bus. This mobile honor roll of burgers has been on our list ever since I heard of them on Southbound food with @LanceZierlein. It may be a little smaller than the bus that picked me up in grade school, but this is definitely not the short bus for burgers. This mecca of mobile meat easily served up one of the top 3 burgers we've had this summer. My friends talked me into trying the "Detention", a double meat burger with all the toppings including some delicious caramelized onions in between two apple wood smoked bacon grilled cheese sandwiches that serve as the bun! The closest comparison I can make to picking that burger up out of the brown paper bag is when I pick my 3-month old up out of his crib. This thing was massive! Several times I thought it would get the best of me, but I can proudly say I finished the burger and I haven't enjoyed a detention that much since the last time I watched The Breakfast Club. The only two strikes against Bernie's was the outdoor heat we had to endure and the less than stellar sweet potato fries. However, the truffle fries were some of the best sides we've had on our burger tour. You can follow the bus and find out where it's going to be @BerniesBurgers. I strongly suggest you do that and find the time to try one of Houston's BEST burgers.

This bus serves burgers that are slightly better than the ones from the cafeteria.

TV: Breaking Bad. As usual I am late to the party here, but Breaking Bad is all you've heard about. I was able to watch a few episodes and read some reviews before the season premiere and felt as nervous during that show as any of the fan boys who have been on board since day 1. Really this show has become enough a part of pop culture that most of you reading this already know the basic premise of the narrative without even watching one episode. If you'd like a great review of the season opener which left me on the edge of my couch here you go. All this to say, if you are like me a month ago and still haven't got on board with Walt, Jesse, and the rest of the gang, spend a day catching up and jump right in. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

ADVENTURE: Ride Along. One of my best friends is a police officer and we had been talking about doing a ride along for a while. I thought it would be an adventure to tag along while he patrolled the night shift. Well, last week it finally happened and what an adventure it was. I'm actually not sure what all I should say here so let me keep it simple. My night featured a suspect shot, a high speed police chase, and ended with me in police interrogation. Possibly the craziest ride along of all time and I definitely feel qualified to do play by play during COPS episodes now. My adrenaline was through the roof, and I walked away with a much greater respect for what those officers do on a daily basis. We spend a lot of much needed time thanking our military (rightfully so), but the police officers deserve a lot of thanks as well for protecting us on a daily basis even in times of "peace".

SPORTS: Football is back. YES! This lockout hasn't fazed my love for the NFL one iota. This week has been like one long Christmas morning all ready. If you're like me, since Sunday night it has been all NFL all the time. If not, then you can get your football fix by reading my latest two efforts over at the Sports Report: Texans Edition and Fantasy Football 101. Now let's get these fantasy football drafts done and open the season with a statement win over the Colts. Texans fans.....I'll see you in the playoffs this year!

Those are my suggestions for the week. Take 'em or leave 'em.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stephen's Suggestions 7/14/2011

Summer of burgers continues and much more to occupy your time.
Little Bitty Burger Barn

SUMMER OF BURGERS: Little Bitty Burger Barn. This place off 290W was high on ambiance. The atmosphere in this very small burger joint was great.There were lots of burgers to choose from and we sampled the Juicy Lucy (2 cheeses grilled into a 1/2 lb burger), the Big Juan (Pepper jack and jalapenos grilled into a 1/2 lb burger), and a double meat double cheese jalapeno bacon burger. All were good burgers, although after eating so many great burgers a few of us (especially those eating Juicy Lucy's) felt like the quality of the meat wasn't up to par with some of our previous spots. That being said, this spot can deliver a mean burger and the fries were excellent. If you go be sure to get there early as the room for seating is sparse. Also, it seemed the smaller 1/4 patties had a better taste than the 1/2 lb, so if you're hungry do a double meat instead of the larger patty.

Our best choice.
SPORTS: Women's World Cup. I know what you're saying, "Who is this guy telling me to watch women's soccer and what has he done with Stephen?" I didn't expect to get sucked in either, but after catching the end of Sunday's miracle win and Wednesday's improbable 3-1 victory, I am anxious to see these ladies finish the job Sunday. Contrary to popular belief I am not a complete sexist when it comes to sports. In fact if you watched Wednesday's game at my house and guessed it was me who said, "Our girls are a lot better looking than these French women." You would be wrong, although I did vehemently agree with my wife's astute observation. So congratulations ladies you have done what the men's team has never accomplished, keep me interested in soccer for more than one game. Good luck to Hope Solo and the rest of the team. I would be shocked if they don't close the deal against Japan.

TV: Friday Night Lights. Somehow I never caught this show when it first aired, but over the summer I have corrected that embarrassing line in my TV resume. I have said it here before, but this is really a great show. If you are a fan here is a great oral history of the show from Robert Mays. The finale airs on Friday and then it can forever enter the TV conversation of greatest dramas ever. It's currently on Netflix on demand, so if you haven't already dropped the service because of the price increase do like I did and start watching. I'm pretty sure Coach Taylor could solve his marriage issues, counsel young men, and win the state championship game faster than Coach Kubiak could call a play in the red zone.

BLOGS: Apedonkey. I have mentioned this website before, but I do so now to tell you that more of my sports takes will be appearing there. These guys do a great job reviewing television shows and have begun to include more music and movies too. Think of it as a Tom Haverford entertainment 720 type takeover of media. I was asked to contribute to the sports side of the site, and am excited to get another outlet for my takes. I guess I could be considered the Detlef Schrempf of Apedonkey. Anyway, I hope you get a chance to check it out. My first article is here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Andre Johnson....Still Unappreciated

The best WR in football.
       Since starting this blog there hasn't been much to write about in regards to the NFL or my favorite team, the Texans. Sunday night's conclusion of the NFL's top 100 players gave me reason to blog. In the players' poll, Andre Johnson came in at #7 overall. A very respectable spot and the highest position given to a wide receiver. However, let me take some time to explain why this was still WAY to low for one of the all-time greats.
      Since joining the Texans in 2003 Andre has twice led the league in both receptions and yards. No player in NFL HISTORY has EVER averaged more yds per game(79.7) than AJ! He brings it every single game. The one knock on Johnson is his low touchdown numbers supporting those impressive receiving stats. He has never finished a season with more than 9 touchdowns, by comparison Randy Moss had 23 touchdowns in 2007. However, talk to any fan of the Texans and one of the first of many complaints is likely to be the team's lack of targeting AJ in the red zone. For some inexplicable reason the Texans conveniently forget they have the NFL's greatest weapon and one of the finest physical specimens to ever play the game as soon as they cross the 20. The season the Texans realize this Johnson should have 13-17 touchdowns. Watch the video below to fully understand my man crush on #80. (Notice score and time of game)

       Most wide receivers in the league would be happy to stop right there, but Johnson takes his passion for the game to more areas than just his yards and receptions. It's widely known that Andre is a rarity among the NFL's position of prima donnas. He chooses to let his game talk more than he does, and because of this he isn't in the public eye as much as T.O., Ochocinco, Moss, or even a Larry Fitzgerald. But ask one Courtland Finnegan if that silence should be seen as a weakness. My Dad always told me the ones who talked a lot usually couldn't back it up, but be careful of the strong silent types. This guy takes pride in going hard on every play. You want him to run a slant over the middle for first down? Done. You need a key block to spring a run play? He does it. You want him to clear two defenders out by selling the deep route? Fine. This guy runs EVERY route well and blocks like a tight end. The bottom line is Andre Johnson is the BEST WR on the planet AND a great teammate who will do anything to win football games.
      So where should Andre rank? I don't disagree with Brady and Manning being top 2. Those are the only two guys who surrounded by a decent team will guarantee you playoffs every year. Adrian Peterson number 3? He is a great talent, but has already hurt his team in key situations with the ball. Then there was a run on defense with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Troy Polamalu. All these guys are impressive but we're talking about two who are in the twilight of their careers and one who can't stay on the field. Also, those three guys play for GREAT defensive squads that allow them to shine without feeling too much individual pressure. Name Andre Johnson's best #2 receiver. He has had David Carr, Sage Rosenfels, Matt Schaub, and Dan Orlovsky throwing him the rock. Not exactly the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks. All 6 players ahead of Johnson do have one thing in common. They have all had deep runs in the playoffs. Looking at the fans vote for top 100 makes this fact stand out even further. Andre finished 10th in the fans ballot behind recent Super Bowl champions Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. In fact all 9 players who finished ahead of Johnson have had multiple playoff games in their careers. So AJ was the #1 rated player on both the player and fan ballots who had never been to the playoffs. I think the only thing separating Johnson from being top 5, and for my money #3 overall, is a deep playoff run. Texans fans would love to see the team go far this season and finally get Andre the National attention that one of the greatest wide receivers to EVER play the game deserves.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Stephen's Suggestions 7/1/2011

Look the NBA is locked out, the NFL is still not coming back, and the Astros are a train wreck. You need suggestions now more than ever.

SUMMER OF BURGERS: Rainbow Lodge. Every Friday Chef Augie at Rainbow Lodge creates twelve wild game burgers to be eaten for lunch by twelve lucky Houstonians. This Friday I was one of the lucky twelve. This week's burger was made from buffalo tenderloin, elk, and venison. It is topped with a generous portion of creamy Gorgonzola cheese and served with the freshest tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles you have ever topped your burger with. Sometimes you just want a candy bar, but sometimes you have to splurge for a chocolate mousse right? Well, this is the chocolate mousse of burgers. Priced at $11 this burger was worth every penny. It was an excellent mix of meat and did not taste too gamey in the least. If you are ever on the North loop around 11:30 on a Friday, then you should do your best to be one of the lucky 12 who gets to eat this rarest of Houston burgers. You will thank me.

TV: Colbert Report. I've been watching this show for several years now and it still can make me roll off the couch laughing. As the sports world goes silent, the political landscape is heating up. There are a lot of choices on cable for you to get your news from, but none of them are half as good as the Daily Show/Colbert Report double header. These shows get even more ridiculously funny as the campaign season begins. To be honest though, I find myself not only laughing with Colbert but often thinking he has the most accurate views on our government and political systems.

MOVIES: Bigger, Stronger, Faster. I caught this documentary on Netflix after a friend recommended it to me this week. I thought it was excellent. The film follows three brothers from New York who grew up taking steroids at various times in their lives. The brother making the documentary attempts to find an unbiased opinion of the benefits/drawbacks of steroids. I thought he did a great job demonstrating how to approach the task of making a moral choice by listening objectively to both sides of the argument and never taking a holier than thou attitude. If you think you know everything about steroids already, you should check this film out. I was blown away by some of the facts and interviews included, and the classic wrestling scenes were a huge plus too. In the end, the film examines the relationship between American competition and excellence to our history of steroid use. Beware, this doc may cause you to rethink some of your preconceived notions of "drug" use.

BOOKS: Classics. The NFL and NBA are not coming back right now so what better time to catch up on some classic literature that you never got around to reading? There is a reason these books have stayed in circulation long after they were initially written. Now is a great time to discover an old book that could fill your lazy Sunday afternoons. If you're like me, as soon as the NFL is back you're going to go on a football bender that would make Charlie Sheen and the dudes from the Hangover blush. Believe it or not, some women find a man who reads the classics much sexier than a guy who runs 6 fantasy teams. Lucky for me my wife digs both. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is a personal favorite. Some other suggestions would be: Slaughter-house 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Those are my suggestions for the week. Take 'em or leave 'em.