Nerd + Lunch

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Generally the posts on this blog are either about nerdy stuff (sci-fi, comics, RPGs, etc.) or food. Thus, the name of this blog being great for combining both interests into one succinct phrase. Every so often these interests merge. And in the last couple days, I've noticed a few of these nerdy lunchy things.

Michael DiGiovanni of The Atomic Geeks posted this picture of Kenny "R2-D2" Baker eating a sandwich on their Facebook page.


With Iron Man 2 coming out, Burger King has snagged the license and is releasing a limited "Whiplash Whopper."


And I have on display in my Nerd Lunch HQ this wonderful piece of 1980s memorabilia -- an A-Team lunchbox.


And no, the lunchbox is not for sale.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Kronos Deli Mediterranean Chef Gyros

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A few years back I moved away from the Nerd Lunch ancestral home and one of our favorite places on earth, Niro’s Gyros. Though unlike CT, I moved closer to the Chicago sphere of influence and didn’t expect to have any trouble finding good gyros in my new locale. After all, a quick perusal of Grease Freak shows no shortage of greasy goodness in Chicago.

How wrong I was. Despite trying six different gyro stands in my area, I’ve not yet found anything to rival Niro’s. I intend to continue my great gyro hunt, but several weeks ago the local grocery provided an interim savior.

Mmmm... gyrosKronos Products, the main provider of gyro products to restaurants, offers a frozen food kit with the core ingredients required to make 6 gyros. The box includes:

  • About 25 slices of gyro meat
  • A tub of tzatziki sauce
  • 6 pita breads

I picked up some onions and tomatoes and then was ready for some gyro hossin’ in the comfort of my own home. I was skeptical as I started preparations, but the end results were surprisingly delicious. The kit ingredients are good quality and, like homemade pizza, the ability to tailor the amount of meat and toppings to taste makes it even better. The gyros weren’t as good as Niro’s, but they were awfully close.

Mmmm... gyros

There are only two negatives to the Kronos kit.

  1. 25 slices of meat isn’t enough for 6 Jeeg sized gyros. I ended up with about 4 complete gyros, a wimpy half-filled gyro, and a lonely leftover pita.
  2. It doesn’t come with a deep fryer. I currently don’t have a way to make restaurant quality french fries at home, so the tasty gyros have to be paired with oven baked Ore-Ida fries or some other side.

Even with my minor quibbles, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Kronos Mediterranean Chef Gyro Kit. It’s an especially good option for those poor souls like CT who live in a gyro desert. As soon as my arteries clear out, I’ll head back for another box.

Tales Never Told: Dixon & The Dude

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This is a reposting of a story I wrote for my other blog. No one cared over there, so I thought I'd repost it here and see if I could make more people not care.



I have a few ideas that I've pitched or even just started and not pitched over the years. I hang on to almost all of these little scraps, sketches and notes in case they come into play some day. Odds are they won't, but you never know. Some things I know are over. They're not going to happen. Not going to get published or shot. They are Tales Never Told.


I don't know all of the early history on this one. My friend Bill "Wiisty" Wiist, who I have teamed up with in the past for the Von Fange Brothers comics, drew a comic page as a gag and posted it on the message board that famous comic book writer Chuck Dixon runs. Dixon is known predominantly for his long run of writing Detective Comics and assorted other Batman titles. He co-created Bane. He's a great writer and I've respected him and his storytelling and even got to eat dinner while sitting right next to him once.

Anyway, somehow this idea comes up for a buddy cop comic starring Chuck Dixon and comic artist Steve Rude. Wiisty drew one full page and posted it to Dixon's message board. Hilarity ensued. Laughs were had by all. And then Wiisty tracked down Steve Rude's message board and posted it there.

Now, I'm hazy on what exactly transpired, but somehow it turned into Wiisty pitching this story concept to Steve Rude. And I think his idea was that Dixon would write it. Rude said go for it and he'd run it as an 8-page back up in one of his anthology titles. However, Dixon never committed to writing it and Wiisty came to me. I initially turned him down. Wiisty took a stab at it, but eventually came back and asked if I would help.

So...I said I would.

All I had to go on was the one page story Wiisty drew, an okay knowledge of Chuck Dixon and his personality, and almost no knowledge of Steve Rude and his personality. In reading this page, I thought of TV buddy crimefighting teams from the 80s and decided to take that approach in telling this story.

The story was corny, over-the-top action and had some lame dialog. Fitting for a spoof of an 80s buddy crime-fighting action series. I sent in a rough, first draft for Wiisty to review and for him to pass along to Steve Rude. And I got the feeling that Rude and his wife/editor hated it. And that's fine. It wasn't stellar. But then he said he wasn't fond of the overall concept and wanted to go with something more quirky and less straightforward. He wanted something all-out crazy. He wanted something more like "Beavis and Butthead." He also said he wanted the art less realistic and sent in a sketch of where he wanted to see the art head.

First, that went against the style of the original piece. Second, I saw one...maybe two episodes of Beavis and Butthead. I didn't like the show. Making what I was doing like something I wasn't fond of didn't sound like fun. I almost quit but Wiisty persuaded me to take another crack at it. So, I said I'd think about it some more.

Wiisty's not the type of guy to pull a big joke on me, but I have to admit that I was beginning to wonder. But he gave me Steve Rude's phone number (never used it) and then he sent me a link to a podcast by Acme Comics. In the podcast, Steve Rude was interviewed and went into more details about his plans for his new line of books. In the interview, he mentioned Dixon & The Dude and Wiisty. Although, he said his name wrong.


Rude Interview



So the pressure was on. While riding in the car on the way home for Christmas that year, I came up with a rough two-page pitch and started writing a full script for the first issue. Here are the opening paragraphs of that pitch:

As I was reading the most recent Bruce Campbell book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, I decided that the same approach used in that book could be used with Dixon and The Dude. A parody of the comic book creation process told using real people and familiar settings, but in a farcical way.

This story follows the process of two real comic creators as even they have to struggle to find work in this modern day of comic creation. They will come up with a comic they want to pitch and we will follow their adventures as they get the comic produced, printed, and in the stores. Along the way, they will interact with real comic creators like Mike Baron, Graham Nolan, Beau Smith, Matt Idelson, Dave
Sim, and many more.


I felt like I had found the funny and this lent itself to some real topics in comics. Can long-time, proven creators continue to find work in this industry that seems too cool for itself these days. And I was going to draw on some of my own experiences that Wiisty and I went through when we tried to get the Von Fange Brothers comics published years before. It seemed really fun and I was excited about it.

I sent Wiisty this e-mail summarizing the first story:
Basic outline shows Rude and Baron getting into a fight about a project and Baron storming off. Steve decides he needs a new writer to help him and calls up everybody. Jeph Loeb, Mark Waid, JMS, Bendis, all the "hot" guys. No one will help him. Then he calls all the second tier guys. No one will help him. Finally, he gets a call back from Dixon who is very cautious but wants more info on the project. The Dude wants to meet with Dixon in person, but Dixon is getting ready to go on a hunting trip. Trying to impress, The Dude lies and says he loves hunting (although, he's never actually fired a gun). The Dude meets Dixon and Beau Smith, and some other buddies at a hunting preserve in Kansas. Steve keeps trying to talk to Chuck about the project, but the others tell him to shut up so he doesn't scare away the animals. Finally, Steve has an opportunity to shoot a deer, but can't bring himself to do it and he fesses up about his lack of being so manly. Dixon, impressed with this honesty and resolve, agrees to do the project. The story ends with Beau Smith leaning over to Dixon saying "Don't say I didn't warn you."


So, I begin writing the first script to hand in with the pitch but for whatever reason, Rude needed to see progress right away. So Wiisty sent him the pitch. And he loved it. I got this e-mail from Wiisty:
I sent Rude the stuff, walked away from my desk to get coffee, came back and found a message on my phone. He says he couldn't be happier with everything. Then he said he wished I had a caricature style like Beavis & Butthead so it would reinforce the lunacy of the strip and would help me turn out pages quicker. He said if I'd like he could sketch out a quick rendition of how he's thinking each character would look.
He says the stories all work good for him. He asked that at some point you include his "farmer's daughter" story and then laughed at the joke. He then added that at the end of the story he'd like for him and Baron to be reunited, realizing that they can only work with each other. No one else can stand them.
So, this baby has been greenlit.
If I had some candy cigars I'd be handing them out.

Thanks, buddy!

Awesome. I couldn't wait to knock out some scripts and see this thing in production. Something I didn't want to be a part of at the beginning had turned into something that was so very exciting. And then, an hour later, Wiisty got another message from Rude. Rude's wife suddenly liked the first script better and had talked Rude out of liking the new approach.

So I quit. And Wiisty didn't even try to talk me into it again this time. He knew I was done.

Wiisty took a crack at it again and my understanding is that Rude didn't like that either. Not giving up, Rude contacted his old writing partner, Mike Baron. Baron took a pass or two at it. I think Baron quit at some point but did come back and finish the script. But Wiisty eventually dropped out of the project and it doesn't even matter because Rude still hasn't hasn't managed to publish much of what he was planning including the anthology.

However, even though this fell through, I think Steve Rude is one of the greatest comic book artists in the business. The World's Finest mini-series he did was amazing. I was sad when he left X-Men: Children of the Atom because those first two issues are so good. And I do wish this had worked out. It would have been great.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: KFC's Double Down

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The KFC Double Down, a monument to greasy indulgence. I've had one and it was tasty. Very tasty. Two pieces of cheese, two pieces of bacon, and some tangy sauce stuck between two piece of fried chicken breast...what's not to enjoy?

Speaking of indulgence, if you don't mind indulging me a little rant, I have one...

I make no claims that this thing is healthy, but the lynch mob against this creation needs to stop. Barring the fact that the negative publicity against it was likely a plan by KFC to increase awareness, somehow, every media outlet and thereby, every mindless idiot who can't think for themselves is suddenly down on the Double Down.

Why? Or more importantly, why now?

Some media is asking if it is responsible of KFC to offer this new menu item. When did they ask it it was responsible of them to sell buckets of fried chicken or an all-you-can-eat Colonel's Buffet? Was there public backlash against Pizza Hut's Meat Lover's pizza? Was there public outcry against the Earl of Sandwich when he had the idea to stick some meat and cheese between bread in the first place? (Thanks for this idea, Beth.)

Just for comparison, the KFC Original Recipe® Double Down is 540 calories, has 32g of fat and 1380mg of sodium. That's fewer calories than the Whopper's 670, slightly less fat than it's 40g, and only slightly more sodium compared to the Whopper's 1020mg.

I love eating the occasional Whopper. It tastes great. That's what fast food is all about. We all have our vices. Be it drinking, smoking or eating junk food, we all enjoy life a little at the detriment of our health. I don't need the media and it's mindless agents judging me for my choices. I don't get on Twitter and condemn your actions. Nor do I judge tobacco companies or alcohol companies for offering products that have many drawbacks.

I for one wanted to try this, and despite the price, I'll grab one again before it's gone. If for no other reason, to support this absolute indulgence in one of my favorite things...fast food.

I posted some more pictures at the Nerd Lunch Facebook page.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Filet'o McDouble

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I once gave you step-by-step instructions for the Double Meat Sandwich. I love doing these mash-ups and learned of a couple recently, one that I jumped on immediately and the other I have yet to try. My sources for both prove that I have definitely become as much of a social media junkie as I have a fast food junkie.

Over on our page on the Facebook, one of our fans posted about the Mc10:35 where an Egg McMuffin and a McDouble are combined. I have yet to try this, but it shall be done soon! On the Twitter, one of the folks I follow on my "professional" account tweeted about doing what he called a "Filet'o McDouble." Thanks to Easter and all that goes with it, McDonald's has their Filet-o-Fish sandwiches on sale this time a year and I knew I had to jump on this fast if I wanted to take advantage of the price break.

Same deal as the Double Meat Sandwich, my instructions call for removing both bottom buns and then combining the innards and top bun into one big sandwich. Here are pictures documenting the process:






This was not as good as the Double Meat Sandwich, but surprisingly tasty. I love the McDonald's tartar sauce. I wish I could buy a jar of that. I would put it on every sandwich I ate.

Someone remind me that I want to combine a McChicken and Filet-o-Fish next year. And maybe, if I'm feeling really daring, all three.
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