Wednesday, January 19, 2011

goodnight, elisabeth

favorite songs entry #2 is counting crows with "goodnight, elisabeth".   counting crows became popular when i was in high school, but i never really got into them much then.  i was too busy listening to my angst filled music - you know, nirvana, pearl jam, weezer and more rap than i can remember.  but when i got to college, i started listening to them more and more and they became one of my favorite bands.

"goodnight elisabeth" is my favorite crows song.  there are others i think are unbelievable, but there's something about this one.  it's definitely slower than most of their others and has a mellow, almost depressing vibe.  but i think that's what really draws me to it; when i'm depressed, i listen to it and i always start to feel better.  it's tone is plaintive, but it has a soothing and ultimately healing effect on me.

i know many of my peers are too cool to listen to counting crows.  they will dismiss them as posers, hipsters or whatever other term they deem appropriate.  they are definitely not hard rocking band.  what they are is melodic, cohesive and smart.  frontman/songwriter adam duritz is underrated as a lyricist and knows how to work his words.  but i will admit, his dreads are terrible.

on to my favorite lyrics of the song, two lines which really stand out to me.  "we couldn't all be cowboys, some of us are clowns" - that just about sums it up for me.  we all have a place and purpose.  it may not be what we want, but it's what we've got and we have to try to make the best of it.  my favorite lyric is "me, i just say my prayers and i just light myself on fire and walk out on the wire once again."  we keep going and we live to fight another day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

feel good inc.

this is the first entry in an ambitious new series that i'm starting - my favorite songs of all time.  pretty bold, i know.  but this will be more than just a list.  i'm going to explore my feelings toward the song in question, what emotions i feel when i hear it and try to generalize why it's one of my favorites.

we begin with "in your eyes" by peter gabriel.  my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and i were watching say anything, we were probably seniors in high school at the time and we decided that it would be our song.  we even danced to it at our wedding and whenever it comes on the radio i always think of her.

different people have different takes on the meaning of the song, but that's what makes music so great.  it's open to interpretation so you can make it about anything you want, even if it's not what the songwriter intended.

my view of "in your eyes" is that the narrator is saying his love for this person is what keeps him sane.  wherever he may go, he always ends up back with her where he belongs.  many people see this as a testament of faith, a relationship with God.  i can definitely see that side, but for my purposes i'll stick with the romantic love view. 

this song makes me think about all the ways i love my wife and how lucky i am to have her in my life.  i feel like a teenager whenever i hear it because i'm instantly transported to the early times in our relationship when everything was new.

the years have changed us but i still love her as much, if not more, than i did back then.  and "in your eyes" reminds me of that every time.  it's a great song by an underrated artist from a movie that helped shape my views of love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

simply the best

Best of Houston – Food Edition

Here are my favorites around town. Please take into account, I haven’t been everywhere so there very well could be better out there. I just haven’t found it yet.

Sandwich – Bahn Mi at Tropical Smoothie and Sandwich

I’ve had good bahn mi sandwiches before, most notably at Les Givral. But this sandwich ups the ante with a fried egg on top. Combine that with the fresh cilantro, jalapeno and carrots and you’ve got my favorite sandwich in town.

Dessert – Apple pie at Heights West

Simply put, the best apple pie I’ve ever encountered. I won’t spoil the surprise, so please go to Heights West and check out this awesome creation.

Chile con queso – Tony’s Mexican Restaurant

This will be a hotly contested category. Everyone has a favorite, but to me Tony’s is the best. The queso is creamy and delicious with a hint of spice. It’s also the perfect texture, something I think is key when determining a good queso.

Burger – Rancor Burger at Petrol Station

Let me get this out of the way first. This burger is not good for you. I wouldn’t recommend eating more than 2-3 a year, if that many. But when you do, you’re in for a treat. It starts off with an awesome homemade bun. Then, you have your ½ lb patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and a fried egg. I see a trend here with me and these fried eggs. Anyway, I get my Rancor with mayo, tomato, pickles, onions, bacon, cheese and the aforementioned egg. No room for lettuce here, my friend.

Chicken Sandwich – (tie) The Yardbird at Armadillo Palace and The Clucker at Miller’s Café

Each is distinct – the Yardbird comes with Mayo, avocado, cheese and bacon; the Clucker is dressed with BBQ sauce, with everything else optional. I prefer mine with grilled onions, bacon and swiss cheese. Both are delicious in their own way. Try them and you won’t be disappointed.

Brunch – Cadillac Bar

This is obviously personal preference. There are many great spots for brunch, but for sheer number of options, Cadillac Bar can’t be beat. Ever since my favorite brunch spot, Jalapenos, closed a few years ago, Cadillac Bar has been there to pick up the slack. They have a little bit of everything, from typical breakfast fare such as waffles, omelets, bacon, eggs benedict and chilaquiles to enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and desserts like tres leches, flan and an assortment of postres and cakes.

Pizza – Pink’s

With apologies to my runner-up Raia’s, there’s something special about Pink’s. Can’t put my finger on it, but it’s plain awesome. However, Raia’s thin crust is to die for.

Ice Cream – Mexican Vanilla at Amy’s

Sure, the place is run by dirty hippies who would probably rather be playing hacky sack, but their ice cream is something from Heaven. Creamy, smooth, delicious. But please remember to keep the hairnet on, dreads…

Steam Table – Simo’s Diner

Simo’s is old school. Nothing fancy, just straight up goodness. Their steam table includes salad, entrée, 2 sides and bread for anywhere between $5.50 and $7.50. They have awesome chicken fried steak, baked chicken and turkey & dressing. But what really sets them apart is they menu selection, which includes a solid gyro. Give Simo’s a try – you’ll like it.

Breakfast Tacos – Balderas Tamale Factory

A hidden gem on the Northwest side at Jones Rd. and Grant Rd. Their eggs are buttery, the cheese is melty and has the perfect amount of salt, and the tortillas are phenomenal.

Chinese Buffet – Hunan Chef II (I-10 Location)

Everything is fresh, nothing is ever left waiting to be filled (food or drink) and it’s always crowded. That equals a winner for me. But beyond that, the food just tastes better – it’s seasoned well and you don’t feel like you’re eating spoonfuls of MSG.

Grocery Store-Prepared Food – HEB

Hands down the best place to stop when you need to pick something up on the way home, but don’t have the time to wait anywhere else. They have a great selection, from steak to chicken dishes and fish as well. The sides are fresh and they have many healthy options as well. Did I mention it’s only $5.99 to $7.99 for an entrée and 2 sides?

So there you have it. Any comments?