Monday, June 06, 2016

Red Shack

Red Shack is hard to categorize. Apparently there was, at one time, something red and shack-like from which it got its name. But now it's in a store front in what I'm told is Dogtown. Or possibly Maplewood. At any rate, the establishment is bare bones but not unpleasant.

I got enchiladas. The sauce you see covering them is basically smoke in sauce form. The rice and beans are not super flavorful, but decent. My dining companion said his tacos were very good.

If you're in the neighborhood, this is fine place for quick-and-dirty Mexican, but I wouldn't go out of my way.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Chimichanga's Mexican is on south South Grand, south of Ted Drewes even!

I got a lunch special for $5.75: a taco with chicken, an enchilada with ground beef and refried beans. The salsa was good and the food was good. Not great, good. It hit the spot like a SpaceX rocket and the prices are right. I liked the atmosphere; it seemed like a fun neighborhood place.

I wouldn't go too far out of my way for Chimichanga's, but if you're in the 'hood it's a good bet.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Crystal Skull or Temple of Doom: Which is less bad?

In the seven-plus years since the fourth Indian Jones movie came out, I've steadfastly maintained that, while it's not good, as IJ movies go, it's not as bad as Temple of Doom. Going in, I wanted to like Crystal Skull. My hopes were incredibly high after such a long wait since Last Crusade. And it had Marion. MARION! I knew my hopes were higher than the movie could realistically meet, because I'd heard the bad buzz, and I knew all about the years of struggle over the script, and the insanity with Lucas insisting that there had to be aliens. So, being a grown-up(in some senses at least) I was able to bring my expectations down (I had a lot of practice doing this in my years as a Cubs fan). And I didn't hate it. I knew it wasn't great, but I enjoyed myself. I didn't mind Shia LaBeouf as much as most people seem to, and I was able to get on board with the weird alien crap.

Today I listened to this hour-plus podcast about the movie and all its plot holes and flaws. I'd never heard of this podcast before, but Stitcher brought it up in my recommended list, so I thought, what the hell. Basically, these podcasters (3-4 dudes and one woman) have problems with the overuse of CGI (a valid point), the implausible plot points (um, it's an Indiana Jones movie?) and the story elements that are brought up once and don't get any follow-up (another valid point). Yes, the movie has problems, but these folks are harder on it than it warrants.

In the final 10 minutes of the podcast they address Temple of Doom, noting that most people like it less than Raiders and Last Crusade but that it's not as bad as Crystal Skull. At least one of them says that people's complaints about it--the annoying and sexist female lead, primarily--are not that bad. The female lead, to the shock of no one, is my main beef, really. To go from one of the strongest female leads there is to this shrieking mess is just too much. Elsa was clearly one of the aspects of Last Crusade that made it so strong. So maybe it's a gender thing? Guys just don't care as much if the plot is inherently sexist. The second point of my why-one-and-three-are-superior theory is that Indy needs a worthy adversary, and Nazis are pretty great as adversaries go.

I tried to rewatch ToD a couple years ago, and I couldn't get past the first scene. But you know what? I'm open minded. I'm not afraid to have a long-held belief challenged. To that end, I will attempt to rewatch ToD yet again. I wonder if it will traumatize my 10-year-old or if I should wait until after he's in bed...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Las Palmas

Las Palmas has been around for a long time and now has three locations, including the one we went to on Washington Street downtown for lunch.

Service was a little slow considering there were only two or three other tables, but the waiter/host was friendly. Salsa was almost too smoky, but still decent. In the atmosphere category, the music was a god-awful mix of country, pop and hip hop. I'd take mariachis over this any day.

I got Lunch Special #1: a pork tamale and a chicken enchilada. The corn tortilla was very good, meat was tender and tasty and all the sauces were very good. The corn part of the tamale was a little bland.

Bottom line: It's all pretty standard fare, but well-executed standard fare. If I still lived in California and this were close to my house, I would would make it a regular lunch destination.

It will be interesting to try the Maplewood location, which is closer to my house.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Nachomama's is a weird little fast food place (includes drive-through) on Manchester in Rock Hill. It gets some good buzz and has a fun atmosphere and menu variety.

I got a beef taco and a chicken taco. They were fine. Nothing special. Guac was great. Salsa was spectacular. Tons of flavor and four levels of heat (I had the lowest two).

This is my second time going to Nachomamas and I don't feel like it's high on my list of favorite places. I have heard the rotisserie chicken is excellent, so I will check that out before crossing this one off my list.

Next up: Las Palmas.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

NaNo reflections

Well, I did it. I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in November. Along with hundreds of thousands of other people--from those who have never written fiction before to professionals who've published a half-dozen successful novels. The idea is to write write write without self-editing as you go. I attempted NaNoWriMo last year and got just past half way. I had an idea but it wasn't real well-formed and the free-writing strategy just wasn't for me; the story completely ran out of steam. At some point I'd like to go back and work on that story, but we'll see. Maybe next year. For 2015, I started outlining my NaNo novel in June. I formed an idea and had it mapped out to a pretty fine level of detail. Then on November 1 I started filling in the blanks. And it worked! I still have more of my story to write. I like my story. Some of the writing is just awful, but that's OK. I wrote FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS.

Will I finish writing this first draft? Yes. Will I pitch it to a publisher? Who knows. It would need a LOT of editing before that happened. But I learned a lot. And right now I feel like one of the most important things I've learned is that I *do* have time in my day to work on things that are important to me. My estimate is that those 1,667 words took about two-three hours of my time each day. If I can squeeze that writing in among my regular daily activities (which include sharing home-management and toddler-wrangling duties with my husband), I can devote time to a lot of other things I've been wanting to work on. I can keep working on my novel or other fiction projects, AND spend 10 minutes learning some Spanish AND take 15 minutes a day to practice the piano AND work on my hiking book. The arbitrary 50k goal and, in no small measure, the peer pressure from people in my writing group, made me buck up and put aside my excuses about how I "don't have time" for this or that. Clearly I do. I can't wait to see what I end up accomplishing with it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

La Tejana Taqueria

I had never heard of Tinga before, but the three-word description was enough to get me to try it: "chicken, chipotle, chorizo." The dish was a bit different than I had expected, but I was far from disappointed.

I should pause for a moment to point out the this restaurant is pretty much in a liquor store. Same building, same register. It seems like they probably have some unusual tequilas, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Anyway, Tinga. They serve it with tortilla, rice and beans, with a bit of cheese on top. You fork it into your tortilla, take a bite and basically you're in heaven. This may actually be my favorite meal of all the ones I've tried in the St. Louis area so far. 

And now that I know about Tinga, I am going to try to make it :-)

La Tejana also has the best guac we've had so far. Cilantro, lime, a bit of tomato, all perfectly balanced with some seriously legit avocados for November in Missouri.

Next up: Nachomamas