Sunday, July 31, 2005

Food grab bag

One thing I love about Akron-area food is the sheer number of pizza joints that also serve chicken. I'm not talking about wings, I mean real honest-to-goodness fried chicken. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I grew up here, but I've always found pizza and chicken to be a natural combination. Order a large pie and an 8-piece box of chicken and you've got an instant picnic on a mild Northeast Ohio evening. Not that I'm well-traveled or anything, but I haven't seen the pizza-and-chicken combo anywhere else (have any of you?). Another wonder that can often be found at these restaurants is what is known as the jojo. Whereas chicken shacks far and wide serve potato wedges, jojos are a different breed entirely. These are some big shanks of potato, deep-fried and agreeably seasoned, often served as a side order with fried chicken. When I was younger, I used to dip mine in macaroni salad, but as you all know I'm weird, so don't mind me.

Another local delicacy, which I know can't be found elsewhere, is the Galley Boy, the signature burger of local legend Swenson's. The recipe is fairly simple- two patties (which if I recall correctly are seasoned with cinnamon), two slices of American cheese, barbeque sauce, chopped onions, mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish, all on a toasted bun. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. I just found out there's a Swenson's near my new place of employment- another movie theatre, surprise surprise- and I'll drop in before work tomorrow to see if they're up to snuff. Although there's no reason to believe they won't be...

Cross at your own risk

Again, maybe it's just that I've been living in the city for so long... but ever since I moved back home I've noticed that the state of railroad crossings is far different here. In Columbus I don't think I saw a single crossing without both the swing-down gate and the flashing lights for whenever a train passed. But here in Portage County, OH, I'd say those highfalutin' railroad crossings are the exception rather than the norm. More often than not I see a crossing with only the flashing lights, although sometimes it's just the gate. And on lightly-traveled residential roads, I'm even prone to seeing railroad crossings with no signals whatsoever- just a sign that reads "Railroad Crossing" and a striped pylon. It's a good thing the pylon doesn't rotate, or else I'd stop there to get a haircut. I'm not complaining, understand- variety being the spice of life, things just wouldn't be as exciting if everything was standardized. But still, these things couldn't be reassuring for the railroads' insurers- what's the railroad company going to do if a car gets into an accident with a train at night because he couldn't see to stop? Are they just going to say "well, it's not like we didn't warn you or anything..."?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Notes From Flyover Country

- I know "flyover country" is a pretty condescending label that usually gets applied to Middle America by cosmopolitan-and-proud types on the coasts, but I can't help but feeling like one of those people as I survey the scene in my new hometown of Suffield, Ohio. I should have known this would happen when I was taking the highway through Akron and saw a city bus with a "SCAT" sign on the side. Of course, SCAT is an acronym for Summit County Area Transit (or something like that), but being Captain Irony from the Big City I couldn't help but giggle. And it happened again earlier today when I drove past Hustler Turf Equipment. I can't help it, I guess- and I'm a big fan of the Robert Rossen movie. While some might ask the question, "what kind of dirty mind would think of porno mags automatically when he sees the word 'Hustler'," I can't help but ask, "what kind of person would name a business with little regard for the potential negative connotations of the name?" I guarantee that nearly every teenage boy who sees the sign thinks the same thing I do.

- Went shopping with my mom yesterday, mainly so I could more easily find my way around the local stores if I had to buy something. Little did I suspect that I'd end up spending nearly ninety minutes inside a Marc's. For those of you who don't know, Marc's is a kind of discount retail emporium that sells a little bit of everything- groceries, health and beauty, home and garden, etc. But the real bargains, as I found out yesterday, are to be found in what's called Aisle One. Aisle One is a catch-all of all the week's sale items, and unless you're the bargain-shopping type, it's pretty much hell. Think plastic kids' sporting goods next to travel-size toiletries next to school supplies next to (I wish I was kidding) cheap lingerie. If you have the stomach for it, you can spend pretty much all day in there. My mom, happily, confined herself to about half an hour or so. But still, I was reminded of a fundamental difference between the two of us- our shopping philosophies. Years of living on my own have made me the kind of shopping who will buy only what he needs, whereas my mother is fairly compulsive in her bargain shopping (actual quote: "I might as well buy two of these basting brushes while I'm here"). One of the few arguments I've ever gotten into with my mother came when I was a senior in high school and I was in a store with her for some reason, and she insisted on buying me another backpack in spite of the fact that mine was perfectly fine. Her reasoning? Why, "it's such a deal," of course. But I wasn't having any of it. I liked my backpack, there was nothing wrong with it, and I'm still using it almost a decade later. Later, I felt kind of bad, not only to get into an argument with my own mother in public, but also because it seems like such a petty reason to argue. But some ideological gaps aren't easily breached. Anyway, a question for any parents out there- is bargain-shopping a typical obsession once you have kids?

- I've also decided to maximize my earning potential by getting a second job while I'm home, which should have the added bonus of making me feel slightly less down on myself. So today I went around to various local business to pick up applications. Checking out the four area banks, I noticed there was not a single male teller or manager working this afternoon. Of course, this may have simply been a coincidence, and there could very well be male employees who just weren't scheduled today, but it seems a bit of a stretch to me that there wouldn't be ANY guys working in banks here.

- The local library is TINY (seems weird that I'd capitalize in this case, but nevermind). They didn't even have a copy of THE LONG GOODBYE- the book, I mean. Or any of the other Marlowe books, actually.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Unthinkable

All of you folks who've been waiting on pins and needles ever since my New Year's mirthfest to hear what direction my life will take, wait no longer! Because help is on the way...

Not that I'm thrilled about it or anything, but desperate times, etc. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I'm going to moving back with my folks for a bit. Now you understand why I'm less than ecstatic.

Ever since I've graduated from college, I've been in this funk that has me wondering if I should incur the wrath of Cruise and submit to various drugs to make me feel happy again. No, it's not really that bad. I've just been kinda unmotivated to do anything. My lifestyle isn't really condusive to a get up'n'go attitude. I spend my days alone in a dark projection booth, and when I finish working I usually sit for a few hours in a dark movie theatre. Maybe I should start quilting or something, find people with similar interests who live near me.

So for the time being I'm going to bite the bullet and, at my parents' suggestion, bunk up at their place. The idea makes sense, I suppose. Aside from the twinge of shame I'd feel moping around THEIR house on a Friday night (at least when I moped around my place on a Friday night it was still MY place, right?), there are more practical reasons why this is a pretty kind of okay temporary arrangement.

To begin with, I'd be closer to my extended family, who I don't see nearly enough. In particular my grandparents, who are all still around but are currently all between the ages of 85 and 90 years of age. Some of them have not been too well of late, and I feel bad that I'm unable to visit them more than two or three times a year. I always enjoy talking with them, and I hope my company isn't too much of a bother for them. One of my assorted problems is that I'm lousy about calling people. Personally, I chalk this up more to the fact that I've always despised impersonal telephone chit-chat (Miranda July would be so proud of me) than to simple rudeness. Plus I always worry that I'm interrupting something when I call. So the opportunity to see them face-to-face on a regular basis is a positive of this move. Also, if any of them should take a turn for the worse, I'd like to be able to lend a hand if needed.

On a more selfish note, I need to save my money. I'm currently pursuing the idea of going to film school in fall '06, and while I'm sure I could get some monetary help both from my family and through various loans, I'd also like to chip in some of my own green. So I'm planning to work through the shame! In addition to transferring to another theatre (the theatre manager is also from Columbus) in order to keep getting health insurance and free movies, I'll also be getting another job for during the day. Between the two jobs and the decreased cost of living, the money will, if all goes according to plan.

Of course, there are drawbacks. My parents live out in the country (their property backs up into a farm), so I'll probably have to spend more on gas. I'll also need to get used to how quiet their house gets at night compared to the trains, garbage trucks and lawn mowers I'm used to hearing here. And if I want to see a remotely that is even remotely "artsy," I'll have to drive about an hour to Cleveland instead of the ten-odd minutes it takes me to get to the Wexner Center from my current place. In other words, I'll probably get much more selective in my viewing (unless I get paid to screen something).

At this point, the folks are limiting me to a year at their place, which sounds doable. It's not that I don't like my parents, I just feel like this is a step backwards for me from living on my own, independently, barely making ends meet but nevertheless getting by. Then again, sometimes one needs to take a step backwards to better see what needs done. If the film school thing doesn't work out for whatever reason (if you have any advice along these lines, don't hesitate to drop me a line), I'll probably look for a grown-up type job. Maybe I'll move back to Columbus, or maybe an even cooler city (one without asswipe Buckeye fans). But until then, I'll have a year to evaluate. Watch this space for occasional updates on my situation. I thought about doing a regular blog on the subject of my year at home, but right now I'd rather not commit to something like that. But if I change my mind, you'll be the first to know.

"My name is Paul. Your name is Paul. I'll find a job. You'll find a job. I'll get a friend. You'll get a friend. I won't fall into the rut. You won't fall into the rut. Good night. Good night."