Foodie Review: Franklin BBQ (Austin, TX)

They call it a culinary religious experience in the heart of Texas. Since around 6am peopled lined up in the morning at Franklin BBQ to be amongst locals, tourists, and fascinated fans of BBQ.

They come for the best BBQ in Texas, or some say.

I got there around 8:30 and the line was already at the 2 hour mark at least according to a bearded man who boasted a belly providing testament he had quality checked many briscuits over the years.


There isn’t that much to do waiting in a long line. People talked for the most part. People brought their own coolers but for the most part everyone was chilled out. You can watch dozens of YouTube videos of this place, but the thing I found amazing was that people would wait so long for food in America. I asked people why and all they could say is “it’s good.”


The place serves around 2k lbs of briscuit daily and once it runs out, it’s gone until the next day. I think the limited supply factor and promise from the founder of the company that he would never expand or franchise gives the place a certain mystic. This is the same concept behind Black Friday sales. 


We arrived and sat down and I realized another factor. There is only one line where people order their cuts one by one. This makes it incredibly slow compared to anything. Chipotle could probably process a line 10x as fast, however there wouldn’t be the certain marathon feel of crossing the finish line. I mean, people spend on the upwards of 5 hours for their food, so some one on one time with the man cutting your meat is the least they do.


We sat down maybe 15 mins early as a person in our group did a big order instead of 5 seperate orders. It kind of comes out to family style but since we all order by the pound, it results in the same, in 1/5th of the time. The downside was the bearded belly manager eyed us 6 times and then actually asked where in line our food orderers were. It was kind of annoying, considering it was 105 degree Texas heat and the fact they purposefully have few tables to sit at.


It was the moment of truth. We got a bunch of briscuit and some ribs and some sausage. It came with bread and onions and pickles and we ordered potatoe salad.

What did we think? We all agreed the briscuit was awesome. The sauces they had on the table were great as well. The ribs were terrific too. When they smoke the meat, they truly seem to rely on salt and pepper. They made the baby back ribs at Chiles seem like chewy dog food that was nuked and lathered with sauce. 

As for the sausage, we were split. Some said it was ok, while me and my wife said it was pretty greasy, so much so that it was the only thing we didn’t finish. 

The briscuit and ribs were an A. The sausage was like a B- at most.

The line sucked. I would only do it once with that long of a wait. 

Now the black eye…The bathroom at Franklin BBQ is absolutely disgusting. It’s also right across the hall from the kitchen. Maybe they want to keep it in the same spot to keep the magic going, but at least tear down and remodel parts of it.

Foodie Review: Torchy’s (Austin, TX)


On South Congress Street in Austin, Texas you can partake in a variety of culinary delights. My meetup group decided to choose Torchy’s, a burrito/taco fast casual joint with the architecture of a Whataburger. 


At the door you can purchase a variety of swag. I particularly liked this version, but only if the signature sauce met the hype of image of hell in my mind. I mean, come on, the entire brand evoked hotness of food … supposedly. 


I ordered a grande burrito and a fountain drink. I almost ordered a glass bottle Coke just to fit in the local crowd. Austin is kind of like the Portland of the Midwest. Overall my bill was something like $10.


This is it, the grande burrito itself. I asked for the hottest sauce which they put on the side. The burrito reminded me a little of Freebirds, but the hot sauce was better. It was hot, but didn’t quite live up the hype of hell inside a tortilla. It was kind of like a branding over promise and under deliver, but it was tasty.

The folks I was with got the tacos and they said they enjoyed it. I looked around the table at the rest of the group and everything was chowd down so it had to be to everyone’s liking.

Foodie Rating: 8/10 Tortillas

Movie Reviews: Ocean’s Eleven

Oceans Eleven directed by “SS” 

I used to like films by “SS” that is, before he resorted to Magic Mike. Before that, he was the innovative filmmaker with “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Out of Sight.” Oceans Eleven is when he hit the big time with an ensemble cast that can’t really fail even if they hired somebody off the street to direct it (Even that douchebag behind the last Fantastic 4 could have made this … Well, maybe)

Simply put, this is a hesit-by-the-numbers film. 

But it works, because it is done with charisma. Charm. I don’t know. Everything is so positive. Danny Ocean just got out jail, but he is a swell guy because he can recruit the hippest crew to rob the biggest make-believe casino vault (ludicrous in that the properties are not even under the same company nor near eachother, as many of you who have walked the strip before would know). 

But who cares, we root for them because they are cool and hip and money is cool. If they were thugs or gangsters this would not be as entertaining. But because Danny Ocean is doing it for a girl, (robbing a casino is the fastest way to a girl’s heart, right?) we root for him. 

I liked this movie when it came out and I still do. 

Although I contend the plot of the movie is simple and is purely built on the charisma of its actors. I recently got rejected pretty bad from the blacklist for my script with a heist as part of the plot, and some poor excuse of a reviewer told me in my review (which you can read on my blog) is that Tony Benedict is an even more evil person than Danny and that’s why we like Danny. 

Bullshit. 

That reviewer is an amateur hack because the movie didn’t even make an attempt to make Tony (Andy Garcia) look bad. He just manages a casino. He got conned for one comment about Julia Roberts at the exact right time and he was bad? 

If there is a con story or heist story we always root for them if they are the main characters and especially if they are funny. Only if the main character is the person stopping it, (first character introduced), do we root for them. Trust me, the trope works from Die Hard to Paul Blart.

I know how to break down stories and the mechanics behind film. Whoever is introduced in the first 10 minutes is who the audience is supposed to root for, unless it is a horror film of some sort, because in that trope they have to show some scary stuff early on so that we know the MC will be in danger. 

With that said, the movie is entertaining and fun. I like everyone from Bernie Mac to Don Cheedle to Casey Affleck in the supporting roles. I like how Brad Pitt aka Rusty is eating in almost every scene before the heist. I like the switcheroo at the end. 

I know, this is another weird movie review but it’s coming from me, right? Maybe I should rename my reviews as commentary.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 S.W.A.T trucks. 

Travel Blog (Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, TX)

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Voted as the best waterpark in the world, we needed to see where the action was on a hot summer weekend. I knew a little bit about the park, having been to the one in Galveston, TX a couple times, but this was the original.

Schlitterbahn started as a small motel on the bank of the Comal River in New Braunfels, TX. This is around 30 minutes from where I live in San Antonio. Since then, the park has expanded almost as fast as the population of San Antonio. Despite having competition from Splash Town USA, Aquatica at Sea World, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Schlitterbahn has remained the most popular water attraction.

Now I know why.

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First off, the park is huge. The original park outgrew the available land, so a second west park was bought (a former campground of some sort), and built on. As a result, Schlitterbahn has a sort of small town feel, mixed with an old school Disneyland feel. The parking is free. The bus (1970 style with no windows) that moves you from one park to the next is free. The employees are seasonal and Texan, and kind of bring a chill vibe to the whole operation. Is there some complicated thumb print system to triple check if the person paid that day and only once? Nope. They just give you a wrist band and cut off the ends. They really don’t care that much. The colors rotate every so often, so I assume a few people have a collection of the rainbow of bands instead of just springing for a cheap season pass.

Full price admission is around $50. A season pass is a bit more, but not bad if you plan to go a few times, and a really good deal if you plan to go all summer. Online, there are a bunch of seasonal promotions the park does. I remember seeing one in South Padre Island where free food was included (during a 2 hour period).

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I guess this was the original tower. There are tubes chutes that swirl around it, but from the looks of the people, they seemed to enjoy the leisure stroll through, despite hundreds of people looking at them with their shirts off. If they were at the mall, they would be uptight as hell. At Schlitterbahn, nobody gives a shit. This is opposite mob theory, when everyone is chill and takes off their shirt, people are not as uptight to take off their clothes.

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Here was some face first slide of some sort. You sit on your stomach on a mat and hold on for dear life. What? Does that sound like I was scared or something? The thing about sides is the bigger you are, the faster you go. I forget how many different slides I went down, but I swear I got air a number of times, especially one where I don’t even know what happens the last 2.5 seconds of the slide because my face is covered in water.

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The place is fun despite it being about commerce. At the park, you are actually able to bring in your own food, unlike practically any other park who wants $10 for one slide of pizza. Do you want to haul in a 24 pack of water? Go ahead. The park staff doesn’t care. There are bag checks at the entrance, but they are mostly looking for contraband like a big ass bottle of Grey Goose. We figured why stress about it when we can just buy a pizza. $19 isn’t that bad compared to a pizzeria on the outside.

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How was the pizza? I would rate it slightly above Chuck E Cheese pizza and slightly below Dominos pizza. Like with many things, when you have been out in the sun all day and are hungry as hell, this pizza was like an 10/10 (first slice) with diminishing returns on each subsequent slice. Why eat soggy sandwiches in the cooler when you can eat something hot?

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The attractions appeal to all demographics. Are you a young kid? There are kiddie parks and slow riders everywhere. Are you a little older and more adventurous? There is wake boarding and water slides and high angle chutes that might scare some travel bloggers. Someday, I’ll post the pathetic video of me on the Schlitterblast. It was short and tragic but had a brief moment of hope in there somewhere, I swear.

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I don’t think I can look at other lazy rivers the same. Schlitterbahn literally has like 7 of them, ironic since Schlitterbahn is literally next to a river that people tube down in the summer. Why tube down a murky looking river when you can float in an artificial lazy river like this?

Overall, the place was fun. The cost wasn’t too much and the parking (like 30 yards from the gate) was much better than the half mile it takes to walk to Six Flags from your parking spot (after paying a crazy amount just to park) plus another 500 yards to get to the waterpark after passing through the gate (plus the return trip). The staff at Schlitterbahn was more relaxed. And most importantly, the attractions were not packed in with people. I swear, at Six Flags in the summer, I’m not even calling that tiny and narrow thing a lazy river, it is a “mosh-pit river.” The one in the picture above is like 4 times as wide, with an actual current.

Theme Park Rating: 10/10 Floating Alligators (you’ll understand the reference when you go there)

 

 

 

Movie Reviews: Fight Club

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Fight Club directed by David Fincher

The first rule about Matt’s Movie Reviews is you don’t talk about Matt’s Movie Reviews. You’ve all done a fantastic job respecting this first rule. The only viral post I’ve had wasn’t a movie review at all, it was Game of Thrones fan theories regarding Hodor. I have to stay underground as a rogue reviewer, so thank you for not forwarding or retweeting or posting any of my bizarre reviews on Facebook or other social media. The last thing I would want would be underground movie review clubs sprouting up all across the country.

Back to the movie; Fight Club is one of my favorite films. It is always ranked in my top 5 because of how well it holds up. Maybe I was the appropriate age when I first saw it in college. Maybe its my generations mantra, not really the need to get back to basics of genetic evolution, but rather, the world of commerciality we are stuck in as humans. I’ve watched this movie maybe 25 times in my life, twice with commentary tracks. I’ve read the book twice. I’ve watched all those corny videos of all the mistakes in the film. The film has aged well.

So let’s get to the real question. Who would I fight?

Bruce Lee

Why? What kind of story is it to fight Shatner or Gandhi? That isn’t impressive. If you had one choice, why not go to the top of the mountain? Maybe some of you will pick Chuck Norris, it doesn’t matter. Be bold, be brave, be a badass.

The casting is perfect. Ed Norton is great. Brad Pitt should have been nominated for an Oscar for this film and competed against Kevin Spacey. Not sure who wins that fight.

This movie it a masterpiece.

Movie Rating: 11/10 Soaps.

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Movie Reviews: The Martian

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The Martian directed by Ridley Scott

I had a little deja vu when I watched this. I swear I saw Tom Hanks Matt Damon who worked for FedEx NASA get stranded on an island Mars and have to figure out how to get off, not before losing a ton of weight and growing a beard.

Yes, I know, I jest a little, but the movie was totally like that. On one hand we have Matt Damon talking into a video cam so the viewer can know this thoughts. On the other, we have Tom Hanks talking to Wilson the volleyball.

I preferred the volleyball.

The producers had already made the conscience choice to deviate from the novel and focus half the story with people on earth to give it an Apollo 13 vibe. I don’t know why we had to suffer through a ton of dash cam footage of Matt Damon as he attempted to grow potatoes. They could have treated the audience as adults and not made the feel like they were in 9th grade chemistry. People didn’t give a shit about the sciences that goes into potato making before and won’t give a shit after. Just show a montage of what he was doing and fast forward.

And for this, I’ll have to say we have a decent film, but caked in a red planet for boredom. Riddle me this; why did Matt Damon want to get off of Mars? Because it was boring as hell.

The movie could have done more. Maybe they should have totally copied Apollo 13 and showed Matt Damon on Earth beforehand and the relationships he had built before the mission, and then the reaction of when everyone thought he was lost. Then we could have pulled for those people the entire film. Can you imagine the emotional reaction of his loved ones knowing he was alive instead of random scientists? I don’t know about you, but most films don’t typically rely on scientists, in this case actual rocket scientists, to be the emotional counterweight.

It’s tricky adapting books into film. Sometimes the film is better, like in The Bourne Identity, The Hunt for Red October, The Shining, 2001 Space Odyssey, Jurassic Park, and Get Shorty. Sometimes it is reverse, like in Timeline, Sphere, The Hobbit, Enders Game, and Atlas Shrugged. I don’t really know how this movie compares with the book since I’ve only read the first 30 pages or so, but based on how boring it was to watch, I am unlikely to ever finish reading the novel.

Leave a comment and let me know which category the film fits in.

Movie Rating: 7/10 Potatoes

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Movie Reviews: Any Given Sunday

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Any Given Sunday directed by Oliver Stone

I saw this movie when I was in High School. I had seen the previews that advertised it as the most intense movie about football ever made. I went in with my father and was blasted with the story of Willie Beamen and his coach, Tony D’Amato of the Miami Sharks. This really wasn’t I expected, despite being an Oliver Stone film. I walked out in a little dazed, to be honest.

You see, the vast majority of sport films on the professional level are a comedy of some sort: Major League, The Replacements, Bull Durham, and The Longest Yard. Many times, the team stinks at the beginning, but through a diverse group of eccentric characters they come together and overcome their obstacles to win at the end. It’s a trope, but America loves tropes.

This wasn’t that movie.

It was about the sacrifices of professional football through he lens of those coming into the league and those on the way out. It showed the limits of what people pushed themselves to in order to achieve what they wanted, on the field, in their personal lives, and professional ambitions.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite appreciate the film when I first watched it. I said, “hey, what the heck, I can’t quite believe this is pro ball because the uniforms are different.” Now, I understand the NFL is protective as hell over their brand and only allow it to be used in fake fairy tale stories. I didn’t understand the big deal about Cameron Diaz wanting to move the team. Now, shit, that has been the NFL ever since with the constant moves and threats of moves for stadium deals. I didn’t understand Al Pacino’s message, which I have come to understand wasn’t to Willie Beamen, it was to the viewer. And most of all, I didn’t understand all the fast cuts Oliver Stone used to interweave players of a bygone era. Now, I’ve come to understand and appreciate he was trying to say the players today forget the sacrifices of the mangled football player of the past who grew the sport to the moneymaking venture today.

The movie was ahead of it’s time.

I’ll argue this. If the NFL would have a allowed them to use a real NFL team, this would be considered the greatest sports movie ever made (competing with The Natural, Remember the Titans, Miracle). The casting is good. The directing is great. The story is relevant (talking about concussions 15 years before anyone else was putting the issue out front).

And it gives one of the greatest sports speeches of all time with Al Pacino’s story of fighting for inches. I feel like I want to put on a helmet and get some plays in after watching that scene each time.

Movie Rating: 7/10 Pantheon Cups

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