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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Economic Update: Fast Food in My Future

         Last week I talked about the recent business closures in my neighborhood of Staples and an AT&T phone store.  The space previously occupied by Staples shows no indication of any new business moving in, however I noticed that there was a great deal of activity occurring in the much smaller phone store space.  On my morning walk last Thursday morning, I decided to check in to see if I could figure what exactly was going on there.

         As neared the store I could see one of the front doors propped wide open.  I moved in closer to read a notice posted in the window.  There were no clues given as to what was happening since the paper was merely an obligatory posting of a city license allowing the contractors to renovate the store space.  Looking inside I could see that progress was well underway as the entire place was gutted and the new business was being set up.

         Suddenly a friendly looking fellow appeared before me. "It's going to be a Habit Burger."  Seeing my puzzlement he continued, "They're kind of like In-and-Out Burger but less expensive".

         "Habit Burger?" I said.   "I've never heard of them."

          "There are quite a few of them.  We've already installed several locations around L.A."   I don't know if the guy was a construction company foreman or a spokesperson for the hamburger chain.   It was almost like he was doing a sales pitch for the restaurant.  He continued, "The hamburgers are really good.  They also have sides like onion rings."

           He would have to mention onion rings.   I love onion rings.  I also like In-and-Out Burger.   Anyone in California and a few other fortunate localities know this chain which has rabid fans and has been named in many polls as one of America's best hamburgers.   This guys pitch was starting to make my mouth water and my stomach rumble for lunch and it was only 9 AM.  Visions of burgers and onion rings danced in my head.

ETR 102 The Habit Burger Grill 05 2012-12-02 12-47-53
Check out the review at "Eating Through Roseville"
          "You'll have to try them when they open," the unofficial spokesman persisted with a grin.  He could have been one of Santa's helpers with his impish demeanor.

         "Well, I live just across the street so I'm sure I'll be here."  I thanked the fellow for the information and continued on my walk.

          Habit Burger?  Talk about a business name that gets right to the point.  The goal of any fast food restaurant is to get patrons hooked on a habit.   Many of us have become fast food junkies with a habit as bad as any drug addict.   I've never even tasted the food at Habit Burger, yet I'm salivating as I think of it.  My visit to the Habit Burger website didn't help matters.

          After they've opened I'll give you my thoughts on it as well as my observations on my local fast food scene.  The way those contractors are going at it, this Habit location will probably be ready to go in a couple of weeks.  Fast construction for fast food.  Makes total sense to me.

         Here's a promo about the place--you'd think I've got some kind of investment in this establishment the way I'm going on about it:

          Have you eaten at Habit Burger?    What is your favorite fast food habit?   Do you have any fast food restaurants within easy walking distance from where you live?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Battle of the Bands: "The Man I Love"

      Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the one, the only Battle of the Bands brought to you by those fantabulous bloggers at Far Away Series and StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.  This is the event where you listen to two versions of one song and then vote on the one you like best.  Don't forget to visit our hosts to vote on their contests as well as the other sites that you will find listed at the end of this post.   

       Now let the show begin...

The Man I Love

         George Gershwin is indisputably (for those in the know) one of the finest composers of melody of all time.   Teamed up with his brother, the genius lyricist Ira, the pair wrote some of the finest songs ever written.  "The Man I Love" is a perfect example to offer as proof of the argument (and there is no argument as far as I am concerned).  

          The song was initially written in 1924 as "The Girl I Love", but became more known in its present form becoming a standard for many a female singer.   The melody is haunting.  The lyrics are impeccable.  In my opinion this is one of the most perfect pop songs ever written and the two versions I present here provide strong evidence for my case.

"The Man I Love" by Lena Horne (1941)

         Lena Horne is one of my favorite female singers.  Smart, beautiful, and incredibly talented, Lena Horne left an amazing legacy not only as an entertainer, but as an outspoken activist for the Civil Rights movement from the 1940's until her death in 2010 at age 92.

         The sultry forlorn sound of Horne's interpretation of "The Man I Love" is achingly beautiful.  Seductive winds back up the vocals with weeping strings and guitar.  A steady percussive effect behind it all suggests the beating of the longing heart or perhaps the tick tock of the passage of time.  At the 2:08 mark a plaintive violin plays a brief solo.   Hearing this song takes me back through time and almost makes me want to stay.

"The Man I Love" by Benny Goodman (1938)

          Take away words of this song and you have the elegant simplicity of perfect melody.   It doesn't get much better than this jazz rendition by Benny Goodman and his Quartet in a live performance at Carnegie Hall.    No flash or flamboyance, instead we are dazzled with pure rhythm and melody with only the slightest variations in the tasty solo work of Teddy Wilson on piano and Lionel Hampton on vibes.  The often showy Gene Krupa isn't pounding the skins here, but softly keeping the steady beat with brushes.

          "Wow!" is all I have to say every time I listen to this version of the song by Goodman and the Quartet.

Now You Tell Us

       What do you think?  Hopefully we won't be getting a lot of  "I don't like this kind of music" because it's hard to imagine anyone having this opinion of near perfect music.  So give us the positives.  What did you like about the song and these versions of the song?   Which did you like the best?   Listen and give us your vote and reasoning in the comment section.

Don't Forget the Other Battles

          Click the following links to find other possible participants and if you're doing a Battle and aren't included in this list then please tell us in the comment section:


 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands






         The results of my Battle will be posted next Friday.   Vote!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


A typical Staples office supply store, in Onta...
A typical Staples office supply store, in Ontario, California. Photographed on March 22, 2005 and uploaded the same day by user Coolcaesar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        Kind of a running gag that I have upon returning from a vacation is that as I exit the freeway and head toward home, I'll say to my wife, "I wonder if much has changed while we were gone?"

         Whether it be a few days or seven weeks like our most recent vacation, I'll make my little joke.  Most of the time there is no change or, if any, only something minor.   So it seemed when we rolled into our hometown last Tuesday--everything looked the same.   It took me two days to realize there was a very big change--one that was very disappointing to my wife and me.   The Staples store across the street from us was closed down.

          This change won't affect us too adversely, but it was convenient to have an office supply store so close that I could easily walk to it.  I had grown so used to looking out our back windows to see that friendly Staples sign across Rosemead Boulevard.  Now there's just a sad red rectangle where words used to be.

          The demise of our neighborhood Staples came without any real warning unlike the closing of the Borders store that was in the same shopping center.   Borders advertised their closing for a few months ahead of time and each week cut prices until that last week when the little remaining stock went for ultra-bargain prices.  You can bet that I stocked up on books during that closing sale.  I reaped benefits but I was disappointed to see the store close.   A major bookstore in easy walking distance was like a dream come true.

         And now Staples.   Not only Staples but also an AT&T phone store where my wife and I had bought all of our cell phones over the past several years.   Losing the phone store is no biggie since phone stores seem to be on every corner around here.   The closest office supply store will now be at least five miles away.   Still convenient, but not as much as one I could see from our house.

         So what will show up next in those empty store spaces?   It took a while to reoccupy the Borders space.  Eventually a Petsmart--a mega pet store--moved in.   I was not particularly thrilled about that since I don't own any pets and don't intend to.    Only once have I entered that store and that was to buy some of those colorful rocks like you put in aquariums.   My granddaughter kept emptying decorative vases that we have around our house to add to her rock collection.   I bought her a bag of colored stones so she might let our vases be.   Haven't been in that store since.

         The phone store space will probably find a new occupant relatively quickly since it's a smaller space.  The former Staples site might be a tougher proposition.  It's a big space.  I'm not sure what I'd like to see there next.  I wouldn't be too surprised to see a pop-up Halloween store open in that space for a couple months or maybe a temporary Christmas store.  

        The shopping center already has  Lowes, Walmart, Ross, Marshalls, and a plethora of smaller shops dealing in clothing and other sundry items.  With stores closing all around us I'm not sure who else would venture to open up business in the current economy.   Goodwill maybe?   I suppose I could see that though I hope I don't actually see it.   Then again, I wouldn't have to go so far to take my cast-off items for tax write-off donations.

        Whatever does end up opening in those spaces--and I do hope the spaces become occupied quickly--I hope it's the ideal store for me.   A place that I'd love to go to look around and even maybe buy something now and then.   At the moment I can't imagine what that  store might be.  There's not much I want these days.    After all, I'm trying to get rid of stuff.   Hmm--that Goodwill store is starting to sound like a good idea.

Battle of the Bands

       Another Battle of the Bands is coming this Friday August 15th.   Participation grew to greater numbers last round so I would imagine we might see similar numbers this time around.   And even if you aren't staging your own Battle we hope you will vote on the ones who are.   My next Battle will be the start of a themed series where I will be pitting "Boys against the Girls".   The classic tune I've chosen is an oldie but excellentie.  It's one of my favorite tunes--one that I hope you too will enjoy.  Please stop by on Friday.

          What were some stores in your area that you were sad to see close down?    What new stores would you like to see open near you?   Do you ever shop at Goodwill?

Friday, August 8, 2014

The End Is Just Another Beginning (BotB Result)

"When the Children have Gone to Bed."...
"When the Children have Gone to Bed." From A Home (26 watercolours) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     My vacation is over.   That fun is done, but now it's time for a new round of fun stuff.  Mail is piled up--both from the post office and my email box.  There's so much to do that I guess I'll keep my vacation posting schedule on my blogs for a while.   Gotta catch up.

       Catching up is nothing new for me.   It seems like I've been trying to catch up for years--maybe decades.   When one thing seems to be about wrapped up, ten new things seem to take its place.  I guess that's life.  Don't want to grow stagnant do we?

         For now stagnancy doesn't seem to be an option for me.  My plates are full and there's plenty left on the buffet.  I'm home--home sweet home--with my own bed, my pillows, my bathroom, and my internet service.  Maybe that last one isn't so hot.

         One of the first things on my agenda is to get my computer situation in more optimal shape.  While in Tennessee my mother gave me the computer that belonged to my late step-father.  It's a newer machine than what I've got and since she doesn't use a computer it was just sitting there so she let me trade one of my older machines for that one.  Haven't hooked it up here yet, but when I do I think I'll have a much better system.

        Also I was talking to the husband of one of my nieces and discovered he's an IT guy who works in computer security.  I'll be sending him info about my system for him to analyze and he said I could contact him with any problems I ever ran into so he could help me resolve them.  We'll see how all this goes.  Maybe I'll be operating at 2014 standards soon instead of being still stuck in the 90's.

          My vacation journey may be over for now, but my life journey is far from over I hope.  I'll be posting more about my summer travels later.   And if you're really interested you can always visit my memoir blog Wrote By Rote where I've been reflecting on my travels and how they related to my past.

           And now....drum's time for:

Battle of the Bands results!

     First of all if you missed the two song versions I pitted in my recent Battle you can find them here.  Voting is over but you might be curious to know what we're talking about and you can still voice your opinion about it.

       To recap, I offered up versions of a beautiful jazz tune called "Cristo Redentor".  I was almost swayed to change my vote--the more I listened to the Donald Byrd version, the more I liked it.  Still my original pick by Harvey Mandel remains my favorite.  

        My vote didn't change the winner voters picked.  It was a close contest, but there is a clear winner.

Donald Byrd     9 votes

Harvey Mandel  13 votes

      I hope you'll join me again on Friday August 15th for the next Battle.  I'm going with a theme for the next few Battles:   Boys versus Girls.   It's a Battle of the Sexes done with songs.   First up a classic tune with a jazzy flair.   Be here to see what the song is.

           Do vacations wear you out?   Who do you turn to for computer help?  How often do you upgrade your computer?    Are you operating on a stone age system?