More Barrel Than Pork (Do You Like Dry Wood? I Have the Restaurant for You)

I had really crappy barbecue the other night. I wish I could say it was an accident. I can definitely say it was a mistake and I should have known better.

I may not an expert at barbecue, but I’m not exactly an amateur either. I am from Texas, so I know good barbecue. My Pitmaster Extraordinaire XFE and I do our homework. We go back to Texas at least once a year and gorge ourselves. I’ve got sauce-covered clothes to show for our last trip.

What I’m saying is, we know the difference between hickory and mesquite smoke. We know our way around a Big Green Egg. No party at our house is complete without a couple of briskets. We’ve spit roasted a whole pig, for crying out loud!!!!

Fine barbecue is kind of a passion around the PoeLog household.

And of course, I know that you cannot get decent barbecue in DC and Northern Virginia. I know this. I know from experience. They use vinegar-based sauce up here, for grill’s sake.

But, I was lured into a false sense of hope. I recently went to lunch at Hill Country BBQ here in DC (a second outpost of the popular New York eatery) and well, I did not hate it. There were things I hated about it, sure, such as the stupid ordering and paying system, and they had the worst pickles I’ve ever encountered, and the side dishes were suspiciously fancy, but the meat? The meat was pretty good.

Plus, XFE was out of town. So I figured, if I was ever going to try Pork Barrel BBQ, it would be a good time to go.

Where there's no smoke, there's bad brisket.

XFE and I met the Pork Barrel boys a couple of years ago at a Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival about three years ago. They were hawking their meat rub. We stopped and tasted and it was pretty good. They told us their story about how they both had worked up on the Hill and were turning a hobby into an occupation. It was a pretty neat story. We bought some rub, wished them luck and went in search of bourbon.

They're such nice boys, but really bad pitmasters. Sorry.

We saw them mentioned a few more times over the years: they were apparently on that show Shark Tank and got some seed funding. They put out a cologne called Que. Pretty funny.

Then, we heard that they were opening a restaurant. Uh-oh, we thought. Just because you make a decent rub doesn’t mean you know jack about smoking meat. It took them more than two years to finally open their restaurant, and when they did, it was in our neck of the woods, not far from our house.

We’d driven past a few times and it looked fancy. But it’s in a residential neighborhood, which means no smoker. Big warning sign.

Nevertheless, since last week was Meat Week here in the DC Metro region (don’t even get me started on how sad it is that there’s only a week to celebrate meat. Why not Meat Month??), which means that local barbecue places were having specials. So, Running Buddy Amy (now to be renamed Eating Buddy Amy, because, let’s be honest. Neither one of us has been running much, and certainly not together these days.) and her fiancé Leland picked me up and we went down to Pork Barrel.

The place was mobbed! We were there around 8:30 or so on a Tuesday night, but as I mentioned, it was Meat Week. I don’t know if they’re normally that busy. The main problem with the place is immediately evident – the bar area is huge. More than half the space is bar focused. So, I guess what it’s trying to be is a neighborhood bar where you buy some barbecue on your way out.

They have a sort of catering kitchen/expediting area at the back of the place where they are packing up orders (no sign of where the food is coming from), and then about seven or so booths/tables for those who stay in – no table service. If you want something, like a beer from the bar, you have to navigate through the long line waiting to order food and get your drinks at the bar.

We got the meat sampler, which was $21.95 and included brisket, Texas sausage, ribs, pulled pork, chicken and two sides. Tons of food, but no bread, no pickles. Weird.

Pale, tasteless pulled pork. Made much better with gobs of sauce.

Again, the sides were really fancy, including “monster” mac and cheese, skin on potato salad, redneck ratatouille, collard greens, and the like. They had a lot of things labeled “gluten free,” which is good for my delicate Eating Buddy Amy. She can’t even look at gluten, poor thing.

Dry brisket, dry sausage.

As I was ordering, I was told they were out of sausage but they’d substitute in another side. Now, a side dish is no substitute for meat, but whatever. I ordered the sampler plate with potato salad, mac and cheese and bbq beans.

It took a while for them to call our numbers. They were quite busy and seemed a bit overwhelmed. We got our BBQ sauces (sweet, regular and mustard), got our drinks and stalked some poor people until they finally gave us their booth.

Those people should have been slower. The food was horrible. The meat was so, so dry – especially the brisket. The ribs were inedible – charcoal black. I literally took one bite and threw the rest out. The pulled pork was not dried out, but totally flavorless. The chicken was the one highlight, but that’s not really a ringing endorsement. Oh, and there was a sausage in my bag. A dry, overcooked sausage.

Decent chicken next to Worst Ribs Ever. Inedible. I mean it. Not good.

Without tons of the very good BBQ sauce, you really couldn’t choke anything down. They just seemed to have rushed the cooking on everything and as a result everything was bone dry. It’s impossible for me to believe that these guys are going slow and low on anything. They can’t possibly be basting either.

The sides weren’t much better. I did not get my beans. Instead I got some collard greens. The mac and cheese had good flavor with cumin and jalepeno spicing it up, but it was watery and bland. Yes, mac and cheese with jalepenos was bland. I will say the potato salad was very good – creamy and tangy. Amy went TO TOWN on the collard greens, so they must have been pretty good.

My two sides. Meh.

It was all pretty disappointing, but I can’t say I’m surprised. I definitely won’t be returning or recommending that anyone else go there. Just buy the sauce online.

Also: Eating Buddy Amy wasn’t feeling too well the next day. She suspects gluten contamination. I suspect just bad barbecue.

Listen, I get that it’s hard to make large amounts of barbecue and have it all be consistently good. So maybe you just focus on one or two meats and perfect that? Let the fancy sides slide. There must be ways to salvage this place.

Thank the grill gods that XFE made ribs tonight for Super Bowl Sunday. Tons, and tons of delicious, smoky, made-with-love-and-patience ribs. That fell right off the bone, but not because they’d been charred into oblivious.

Can you hear the angels singing?

Those Pork Barrel guys are nice and all, but they should leave the barbecueing to real pitmasters, like XFE.

A thing of beauty.

 

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Turkey, Breasts and Hog Wrasslin’: The Perfect Holiday Recipe

Damn vegetarians try to ruin everything, including Texas. And Thanksgiving.

As Thanksgiving approaches, PETA has asked the mayor of Turkey, Texas to change the name of his town to “Tofurky,” a vegan turkey alternative.

Now, I know that industrial farming in this country is horrible. I know this. I read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” I’ve wrestled with my own guilt on this one. And I was a vegetarian for about 7 years, while living in Austin, if you can imagine. I’ve actually tasted Tofurky. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Besides, my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the sides – I pile my plate with mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, candied yams, gravy, rolls….turkey actually makes up a very small part of my Thanksgiving feast. So I’m not here to defend or criticize the eating of turkey. Do whatever the hell you want. I don’t care. I’ll be on the couch with my stretchy pants shoveling multiple types of pie in my face.

But I certainly don’t feel like a small town in Texas (population is around 500, according to Wikipedia) should be embroiled in this debate. I agree with this resident on CNN:

“Well, I believe in everybody having their own opinion, but there’s a bumper sign that you can get any place in Texas at tourist bureaus. It says, ‘Don’t mess with Texas.’ My theory is, we’re going to make a new sign– don’t mess with Turkey, Texas.”

But don’t worry. Good will prevail. The grill-master-of-my-domain XFE alerted me to this story.

“In response to the open letter from PETA calling on Turkey, Texas to change its name to Tofurky, Texas, co-founders of Pork Barrel BBQ, the nation’s fastest-growing barbecue sauce company, have presented Pat Carson, the Mayor of Turkey, Texas with an appetizing offer to temporarily change the town’s name to “Barbecue, Texas.”

“Heath Hall and Brett Thompson, widely recognized for creating the award-winning all-American BBQ sauce and spice rub company and their reality TV show appearances on ABC’s Shark Tank, are offering to fork over $1,000 immediately and $5 from every Picnic or Party Pack sold on its website from November 18th through December 9th in exchange for the town changing its name to “Barbecue, Texas” for 16 hours – split evenly between three Turkey, Texas Charities.”

We love these guys. I mean, they created a cologne called 'Que' for crying out loud! Guess what it smells like?

All capitalization issues aside — That. Is. Awesome. I hope the town takes them up on this. I’d buy a party pack if they did. By the way, Pork Barrel BBQ is based here in DC.

And the quotes in this story are THE BEST:

“It’s not that we have a beef with PETA,” said Thompson. “We like BBQ veggies as much as the next person. We’re just not sure the people of Texas are ready to embrace Tofu in the shape of a Turkey.”

“As we approach Thanksgiving the great people of Texas have a lot of things to be thankful for, including access to some of the best slow smoked barbecue in the world,” added Hall. “If barbecue can claim to have a power, it is the power to bring people together and we hope our efforts to raise funds for these worthwhile charities will do just that.”

Damn straight.

Speaking of Texas barbecue, there is a show on A&E called American Hoggers, where this awesome redneck family in Texas goes around helping to eliminate the hog overpopulation in Texas. It’s truly great American television art.

“American Hoggers is a new original real-life series that follows the Campbell family and their struggle to rescue Texas residents and ranches from the devastating chaos caused by millions of invasive wild boars.

Each episode of “American Hoggers” follows legendary hog hunter Jerry Campbell, 64, his level-headed son, Robert, 28, and firecracker daughter, Krystal, 23, as they respond to those threatened by feral hogs.”

XFE and I have stumbled on it a few times and watched a bit here and there. Jerry is so indecipherable that they actually use subtitles. He’s speaking English, but you can’t make out a word of it.

One of the things I noticed right away is how attractive the daughter is. Her name is Krystal Pistol Campbell. She’s pretty dang hot. And she’s running around, getting sweaty and wrestling hogs. All in a tight tank top with heaving busoms on display. And she’s riding a galloping horse.

Those puppies are in 3-D. Or is that 36-D? Whatever. They're all BAM.

Well, apparently A&E got a clue, and now there’s a spinoff. Now there’s Lady Hoggers. Here’s the description:

“In the heart of Florida, hog hunters are taking a stand against an ever-exploding population that is ruining the livelihood of their communities. Around Lake Okeechobee in Florida—Hog Country—there is another breed of hunter that is taking on these insane boars bare-handed—and they mean business: Gary Stamper, Christine Chreene, and Julie Snead are the most passionate hog hunters you’ll find anywhere.”

They’re passionate alright. And mighty easy on the eyes. And scantily clad, if I do say so myself. Except Gary. Gary’s in overalls.

I'm saying this as a hetero woman in a long-term relationship: that's kinda hot.

Both ladies are from Texas, by the way. Here’s a line from Chistine’s bio:

“Now blazing the swamps of Florida, she’s been proving that this fine-looking southern woman can take a hog by the hinds like no other.”

Indeed.

I’m gonna go eat some of XFE’s awesome ribs. He made pork ribs on the Big Green Egg and while I put up a fuss about him buying four racks when we were at Costco, I’m pretty happy he did since there are all these delicious leftovers.

Food Porn: Meyer’s, Louie Mueller

Before we went to the king of all BBQ festivals, we had our own little mini festival after touching down in Austin.

Last year, my personal-pit-master-for-life XFE and I made the pilgrimage to Lockhart for Smitty’s and Black’s. This year, we went to Elgin for sausage and Taylor for everything awesome about BBQ.

We started about 30 minutes drive from the airport with a stop at Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse. We got there right around lunch and the place was hopping, but no line. We bought about a pound of sausage (beef and pork) to share amongst the four of us, since we knew we’d be having a second lunch in about another 30 minutes.

The sausage is, of course, very good. I like a courser sausage more like the kind you get in Lockhart, but this was good as well, just more smoothly processed. Also, I like a bit more snap in my casing. Again, that’s just a personal preference. We didn’t try any sides other than the standard white bread, onions and pickles that comes with it. I was pretty tempted by the banana pudding though. They had two fancy barbecue sauces, both of which were pretty good. I’d give the honey chipotle one a slight edge because of the smoky flavor from the chipotle.

Meyer’s doesn’t serve beer or alcohol, so I loaded up on a childhood favorite, Big Red. From a fountain machine no less. You can’t get this in DC for some reason.

After refilling our Styrofoam cups and loading back up in the car, we headed north to Taylor to pay our respects at Louie Mueller Barbecue.

XFE and I had Muellers’ at the BBQ festival last year and it was hands down our favorite. It was one of the last spots we visited and even though we were stuffed, we both finished our tasting of brisket and ribs. We loved the thick peppery crust on their brisket and XFE is a beef rib fanatic, so he was very happy. Plus, since the lines at the festival had died down, we were able to just shoot the breeze with the two guys manning the booth (including Wayne Mueller, grandson of Louie), and they were really, really nice guys. We were quite surprised that they didn’t win in any of the categories last year. Redemption was theirs though, and they won People’s Choice for best beef ribs and best sausage this year.

Photo: JW Walthall/EATX
As soon as XFE and I left the 2010 festival, we made a plan to make the drive up to Taylor to go to the restaurant. This year, with Matt and Melissa in tow was the year.

It was amazing. You step up on the wooden porch, open the screen door and step back in time. It is a time machine. As your eyes adjust to the darkness of the interior, your nose is overloaded with the smell of smoke. You take in the cavernous room with its blackened walls, including a James Beard Award casually hung behind the coke machine.

The counter to place your order is about a mile from the door and the line runs straight back. But it moves, so better hop into it. To the right is a bulletin board covered in business cards, each a different shade of smoke-tinge. To the right is another, brighter dining room — a screened in porch with beam rafters and exposed iron farm equipment.

So yeah….the place was long on atmosphere. 

And the food didn’t disappoint either. Of course, we ordered way too much, but what can I say? We ordered a pound of brisket, a selection of their three sausages (original, jalapeno and chipotle), several ginormous 1 pound beef ribs the size of a man’s arm, and a couple of slabs of pork ribs (baby back, but they also have spare ribs). Again, no sides necessary. And they have sauce on the table, but it’s a thin sauce and didn’t look like a sauce I would like, so I skipped it.

The sausage was coarser ground than Meyer’s and de-freaking-licious. I think the jalapeno was the crowd favorite. It was a bit greasy, but that’s what the bread is for. Also: they smoke it, which really brings out the flavor.

The beef ribs were very good and flavorful, with that thick peppery crust, although I’m not a fan of beef ribs in general – too fatty for my liking. But these were good, although there was no way I could take a whole one down. It was quite a bit of work and I barely made a dent.

The brisket was good – smoky and tender — but not quite as good as we remembered it. The crust wasn’t as pronounced as I had remembered. It was probably an off slice because when we tried it at the festival the next day, we again fell in love all over again. The festival version was moist and delicious.

Also: I’m getting a teeny bit brisket spoiled because XFE makes the best brisket in the whole damn world. We’re talking the kind of brisket you beg for on your birthday good. We’re talking last-meal-on-death-row good. We’re talking willing-to-commit-a-crime-just-to-get-on-death-row-and-request-it-for-your-last-meal good. But Mueller’s will do in a pinch.

The pork ribs were disappointing. I did not like them at all. But again, I’d always try them again, if given the chance. I know how these things can fluctuate day by day.

The counter staff and everyone overall could not have been nicer. Walter Mueller saw Melissa and me taking pictures of everything and came walking out with a large brisket — straight out of the smoker — and asked us if we wanted to take a picture of it.

That's a damn good looking brisket. And tasty.

Way different than the snooty attitude we have gotten at some restaurants on the picture-taking front. I’ll never understand why you would be offended that someone wanted to take a picture of all your hard work. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Alinea. Walter has it right….he’s proud of what he produces and he’s happy to share it with you. It made a huge impression on me, and he’s got a superfan for life.

Hands down, my new favorite BBQ place in Texas. Go. Bring a cooler. Buy lots. Take it home and hoard it. Oh, and look for thePoeLog business card on the bulletin board (it’s the purple one in the middle there).

Another Reason Michael Vick is a Jerk

Welcome to Meatville. Population: 3,000

The main thing to know about this year’s Texas Monthly BBQ festival is that I threw up.

That puts thePoeLog household at two-for-two on throwing up after the BBQ festival. They should probably hire us as spokespeople.

Last year was my meat-lover-for-life XFE’s shot at toilet glory. This year was all me.

(*Disclaimers: Neither of us threw up while we were actually AT the festivals. What kind of uncouth people do you think we are? Also: Our propensity to gorge and purge has nothing to do with the quality of festival meat products. Er, well, it does, actually, but it has more to do with the exceedingly high quality of the food, not because it’s bad or tainted. It’s not a repeat of the Great Salami Food Poisoning of Northern Italy 2011 [GSFPNI2011 for short]. Also2:  The newby festival goers we brought, our friends Matt and Melissa, did just great. No reported vomiting.)

Matt & Melissa: Hardcore festival goers. Appreciators of chicken shit bingo in dive bars.

We had a good strategy. After last year’s debacle of eating our own tastings at every single place (there were 21 restaurants in all), we decided this year to share tastings (there were 23 restaurants this year). We slipped up a couple of times and ate our own tastings, but overall, we did pretty well. We also stopped at Franklin’s booth twice for brisket, but it was really, really amazing brisket. Totally justified. And, by the way, they did win for People’s Choice for best brisket, so obviously, we were correct.

Our strategy also included skipping any sides (I did have some potato salad from Country Tavern). I also succumbed to some fried pies from the originally named The Original Fried Pie Shop. And we stopped eating anything that we didn’t deem just wonderful, and yes, there were a couple of places that weren’t very good. We left the festival quite full, but declared ourselves not stuffed.

Good thing they were giving away Tide pens. No really, they were.

We followed up with a visit to Ginny’s Little Longhorn for some chicken shit bingo and more beers. So far, so good. (Oh, do you not know about chicken shit bingo? It’s exactly what it sounds like: You put a chicken in a cage with numbers on a board. You buy a ticket for $2. You watch the chicken walk around. You drink $2 Lone Stars. You listen to Hank Williams’ songs on the bar’s sound system. Perhaps you avail yourself of the free hot dog and garnishes Ginny provides on a side table. Finally, the chicken poops. If the chicken poops on your number, you win the pot.)

Eventually, after not winning the pot, we finagled a cab back to the downtown area and decided to go to a bar. And that’s when things started to go downhill for this little Poe. There was queso and spinach dip. And unfortunately, an ill-advised shot made with mango puree, cilantro, and tequila.

Tequila is no friend of mine. It makes me ornery. I must have argued/shouted at Melissa about whether Michael Vick had sufficiently paid his debt to society for ages. For the record: I said [quite loudly] no. The much-more-forgiving-Melissa says yes. She’s wrong, by the way.)

Needless to say, I woke up in bed at 4 in the morning full of embarrassment over fighting with my friend and a queasy, sloshy stomach. I fought it, but eventually I had to succumb, knowing that XFE–who has been the subject of my relentless teasing for the past year–was about to tie this one up.

He was quite gracious in victory, only mentioning his pleasure in the situation once that morning.

(Final note: Can I just remind everybody that I did get up and run a race the morning of the BBQ festival. Sympathy? Anyone? No? Tough crowd.)  

 

No Time to Blog. Stuffing My Face with BBQ.

No, seriously, I’m at the Texas Monthly BBQ festival right now stuffing my face. We dragged these fine people here along with us.

I’ll have a couple of posts about the weekend next week; including, obviously, LOTS of food posts, and a race review of the Run for the Water 5k.

In the meantime, I thought you might like to read a little essay I wrote about my eating-buddy-for-eternity XFE and my efforts to get into the festival last year. Needless to say, we were a whole lot more on the ball this year. We even bought the damn VIP passes.

 

(Sidenote: XFE and I were watching the season finale of the “Rachel Zoe Project” last week, which featured a backyard party for Team Z. The deadbeat husband Roger said he was “barbecuing,” and XFE piped up to correct him, noting: “That’s not barbecuing, that’s grilling.” I have never been so proud in my entire life. XFE might be more Texan than me at this point.)

Here, without further ado, is my 2010 essay: “No Sauce, No Forks, No Tickets”

We bought our BBQ festival tickets from a scalper. There, I said it, and I’m not ashamed.

Our friendly scalper, Will, showed up at the Hotel San Jose on Sunday morning, wearing one of two Dallas Cowboy shirts we would see him in that day, with a wide open face and two coveted tickets.

We paid more than we wanted —$200 for the pair—and we didn’t even try to haggle. We wanted them that bad. And later that day, with the sweat running ticklish trails down our backs, our lips and chins shining with meat grease, and our bellies painfully distended, we looked at each other and agreed it had been totally worth it.

Please understand:  my boyfriend and I are good people. We volunteer, we donate to charity, we, generally, obey the law. It didn’t start out this way, this descent into illegal activity. Let me explain.

I first heard about the BBQ festival in my March issue of Texas Monthly. A transplanted Texan now living outside Washington DC, my Texas Monthly is a lifeline to my roots. We tore out the “save the date” announcement and put it on our fridge. A few weeks later, my boyfriend XFE booked our flights and hotel.  The lack of actual festival tickets did not seem so great of a problem to us. We’d get them when they became available. No big deal.

A few months went by with nary a peep on the event. It would come up in conversation once in a while, but nothing beyond speculating about what venue it might be held at, or how much the tickets might be.

Finally, tickets were available. I filled my checkout cart with two. I had my wallet out and was about to purchase when my boss stopped by my cube to shoot the breeze. Now, my boss is not a man of the meat. He’s not a vegetarian or anything, but he’s not spending his weekends perfecting his sauce or fretting over whether to use a mop, a rub or a fork. He would never understand the significance of interrupting me when I was trying to purchase BBQ festival tickets. But he’s my boss, so I didn’t think it would be prudent to blow him off.

My boss and I chit-chatted for maybe 10 minutes – I don’t even know about what. But in that time, my checkout cart had timed out. I tried to checkout again, adding two more tickets to my cart – no dice. It was recommended that I try again later. I did try again later that same day, only to find that the festival was now sold out.

We tried to console ourselves. “It’s ok, we’ll do our own BBQ festival,” or “They probably won’t get all the good places to come out,” and “maybe someone we know got some extras or knows somebody at Texas Monthly.” We monitored Craig’s List and Ebay, but no one was giving up their tickets. I think it says a lot about Texans love of barbecue when they aren’t even willing to make a sizeable profit by selling tickets to a sold out event. Instead, I saw listing after listing titled “WTB,” which I later realized meant “Want to Buy.” Our festival dreams were not looking good.

We got on the plane from DC to Austin with heavy hearts and empty bellies –we planned to do our own barbecue tour when we landed that Friday. We drove to Lockhart, passing fields of cotton and tollway construction, on a hot mid-September day. After eating at two of the three of the holy trinity – Black’s and Smitty’s – we drove to Austin and checked into the San Jose. Neither of us mentioned the festival, but it was hanging as heavy in the air as the smoke that clung to our clothes.

We proceeded to numb the pain with two days of queso and Shiner Bock. We contemplated a Saturday morning trip out to Snow’s in Lexington. We ate Amy’s Ice Cream. Still, the unspoken regret lay heavy between us.

The morning of the festival, we lounged around the hotel room. We had done most of what we wanted to do in Austin – we’d been to Broken Spoke, we’d ordered boots at Allen, we’d watched the UT –Texas Tech game at a bar on 6th Street, we’d had our picture taken with the fiberglass Bevo in the old parking lot at the University of Texas Co-op. But there was still one more thing we wanted to do – the whole reason for the trip – the BBQ festival.

XFE was the one to suggest it, an hour before the event’s start time. Why don’t we check Craig’s List again? Sure enough, there were two people offering to sell tickets – for considerably more than their face value. But, it was the reason for the trip. Will called first.

We saw Will a couple more times that day, mostly when we were resting between multiple tastings. We went to all 19 vendors, starting out eager and hungry, each getting our own servings, savoring each bite, finishing all the meat, washing it down with Shiner after Shiner. We took diligent notes, comparing the crust and smoke of the various places, noting which ones had not quite lived up to the hype and which ones were surprises.

After the 11th plate, we started to slow down, sharing a tasting, maybe skipping a rib here or a side of beans there. The last four spots were really just endurance…..my jaw hurt from chewing. I couldn’t tell the difference between a beef and pork rib anymore, all the sausages began to run together. One of the notes for one of the restaurants on my tasting card says “don’t remember.”

We did not make it till the end of the day. We had to scoot up town to get to Ginny’s Little Longhorn for chicken shit bingo. So, we left before the fan favorites were announced (although, not before texting our own favorite: Louis Mueller’s).

The only question now is: how quick do you think the tickets are going to sell out next year?

 

10 (or so) Questions for My Favorite Reality TV Shows

Holy jobs agenda, y’all, work has been kray-kray the last two days. I’m leaving tomorrow for Austin to attend a wedding on Saturday. I am beyond excited to be returning to God’s Country, even if it’s apparently on fire. I’ve lived through natural disasters before. This better not impact my barbecue and margarita consumption, though.

But the thing about going out of town is you have to do a lot of ass covering to get the hell out of work. And while my ass is not very substantial (ok, almost non-existent), I still have a lot of covering to do. (Speaking of booties: it looks like they have identified the infamous NoVa Butt Slasher! But still no arrest. WTF?? You have his name and car details. What the what??)

By the way, blogging may be a bit sporadic the next couple of days (no Totally Pretentious Food Truck Review), but you should totally read all my other posts in the meantime. And if you’ve already read them once, read them again. Although, I’m pretty sure there might be a Food Porn or two.

Also: seriously, reread yesterday’s booger post. My pictures were jacked by my computer, but I’ve fixed them. Honestly, you wanted to see the photographic evidence, didn’t you??

All this running around has got me feeling nostalgic for this past weekend. My personal-chef-for-life XFE and I had a delightful Labor Day weekend full of good eating (highlights included a seafood boil), celebrity magazine reading (including a riveting edition of a magazine I don’t usually buy, Star), napping (for me and Petunia at least), and catching up on a few of my favorite reality TV shows.

But as much as I love these shows and their all-inclusive access into the lives of mundane individuals with personality problems, sometimes, I’m left wanting a bit more background information. So, I’ve compiled a list of burning questions for my favorite reality show characters.

(1) Abbie Lee from Dance Moms – Can you expand (PUN INTENDED) on your former dance career? Specifically, how did you gain soooo much weight? It’s obvious from the way you hound on your students that you are quite concerned with appearances, so perhaps you can clear up this little mystery for us.

(2) Courtney from Most Eligible Dallas – Girl, I love you. I really do. You tell it like it is, which is a character flaw I can totally relate to. And, you like your wine, which I also can appreciate. But you have got to get down off that high horse sweetie! And, more annoyingly, please explain to me how Neill having a child is like a “slap in the face” to you? Get your own damn child! Although, seeing you being all awkward around Major and given your love of the wine, perhaps you should just go ahead and hold off a little bit longer on that life plan. Also: Can you please tell Drew to stop smoking that electronic cigarette? It’s bad. Really, really bad.

“Drew, I need to talk to you about a very serious fake cigarette matter.”

(3) Bonnie from Big Rich Texas – Please tell me where you got your PhD. Just because you’ve BEEN to a plastic surgeon multiple times does not make you a doctor. By that logic, I’d have a PhD in celebrity gossip. By the way, when this does become available, I think I should get an honorary degree. According to Bonnie, she has a PhD in Physiology, a Masters in Microbiology and a BS in Pre-Medicine. I challenge you, Bonnie, to even spell ‘physiology.’ No peeking.

 

"What do you mean you can't inject me with smart?"

 

(4) Dave Hester from Storage Wars – How scared were you when your brother showed up at one of the storage auctions being filmed for the show? And producers, why haven’t you further exploited that crap?!? I thought for sure we’d have a dysfunctional family drama running through the season. You guys are nothing but a bunch of teases! Also: Can you ask Darrell Sheets if he owns any shirts with sleeves?

(5) Will Hayden from Sons of Guns – When are y’all going to run out of crazy hybrid gun ideas? I can’t think of any other combinations you can possibly pursue. And do all these guns really sell? Is there a huge need for a shotgun with a taser attached? It actually looked kinda awkward to operate. And which gun are you going to use on that shop dude when he finally hooks up with your daughter, Stephanie? Because they are building that scenario up like crazy.

(6) Bert on Project Runway – Listen, I have a lot of sympathy for the fact that your husband died of AIDS and you turned to alcohol to recover. I’m proud of you for fighting your way out of addiction. But why are you so full of piss and vinegar? You seem like you’re capable of being nice, but you just choose to be crotchety and argumentative. Do you need a hug? Also: Can you please tell the producers that 90 minutes for this show is just far, far too long? Someone inevitably falls asleep while watching this and we’re on the verge of deleting it from our DVR lineup forever.

 

"I just want to be alone with my blanky and my thoughts."

 

(7) Jeff Lewis from Flipping Out (BTW: We have the season finale on the DVR so this may be out of date already) – Can you really not see that Gage is evil incarnate? He’s a scythe running through your office, mowing down anyone who preceded him. I fear for Zoila and Jett. I really do. Although, watching him take care of Casey after her back surgery was quite touching. But mark my words, more heads will roll if Gage has his way. He wants you totally reliant upon him.

 

"He will be mine and only mine!"

 

(8) Lindsay Jackson from Toddlers and Tiaras – I actually don’t watch this show, but a coworker told me about this little stop at dysfunction junction in the kitchen at work this morning. Did you really stuff your four-year-old-daughter’s shirt for a Dolly Parton skit? Seriously?? What the what?? I’m not exactly gearing up to be mother of the year or anything, but even I know that’s wrong. And super creepy.

(9) Paul Sr. on American Chopper – Do you really think you’re ever going to rebuild a relationship with your son when you keep trash talking him all the damn time? You look like an ass, and make him look better and better the more you open your trap.

(10) Cast of Real Housewives of New Jersey – It’s not a question so much as a request: just stop having parties, please. People keep getting in fights and getting hurt. When people fall on their face on a stone floor, chip a tooth and then keep on drinking wine, something’s not right. And that whole trip to the Catskills earlier this season still gives me the “Deliverance” chills. And all this back and forth on slights and disrespect is snoring. None of you are exactly Miss Manners. Please, just stop entertaining. 

Honestly, she should be shot for those pajamas.

I have to go now. Rachel Zoe is on and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is on after that. I don’t know when I’m going to have time to eat or pack.