We’re Going to Eat 1,560 Shrimp This Year

brw. #0042

Hi hi hi a new year’s disclaimer to start and then plenty of Internet to follow. I think 2020 has the possibility to get especially heavy (the election, climate, Iran, all of it!) and just wanted to share that the plan for these e-mails is to generally keep the same breezy tone throughout. I think there are plenty of ways to get/share your politics but am not necessarily sold that every space requires it. If that starts feeling out of place in your inbox though, I totally get it! UFO updates and robot pics while whatever __________ is going on might not be your thing. No worries if you go but a genuine thanks for following along so far. This was a personal highlight last year and am grateful that you take the time to read these.

-Bret

P.S. I’m not sure my Star Wars review remotely held up consensus-wise (lol nope) but I just saw Little Women over the weekend and LOVED IT and Florence Pugh is A STAR!!! Stay tuned for my new podcast A Guy Who Likes Movies Reviews The Movies.

P.P.S. Also - a stray Star Wars/Disney+ thought. Love a weekly drop (vs. the entire season all at once) but who do I write about suggesting a PM bounce rather than the AM. It’s so weird to start feeling streaming pressure before the work day and I kinda have to nope out of anything show-related that afternoon because the recaps start piling in. HEY MOUSE - let’s start dropping these shows at 7PM! Same for you Apple Television!

See - again, there’s so much going on in the world and my two cents is evening streamers. Thanks for subscribing. ❤️

🌳 📚 “Mother Nut” by John Jeremiah Sullivan

One of my favorite writers on the planet published a short story over the holiday. I don’t think anything excerpt-able would help as an extra push so:

  • If you like short stories, this is an enjoyable one.

  • If you’re looking for another JJS piece, A Rough Guide to Disney World is fairly definitive.

  • As far as books go, I’d point you towards Pulphead (a collection of essays) first and then if you’re really in it, Blood Horses.

👫 Couple Has Eaten at the Same Wichita Restaurant Six Nights a Week for 15 Years

The details sprinkled throughout this are a delight.

Ron Watson is a creature of habit, he admits. 

He’s also someone who doesn’t want to cook — and doesn’t want his wife of 20 years, Diana, to have to cook after a long day at work, either.

So nearly every day for the past 15 years, the couple has slid into table 412 at the west-side Texas Roadhouse restaurant for their only meal of the day.

She orders the “Roadkill” — a chopped steak topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms, plus a house salad with Ranch dressing, no tomatoes, and a baked potato, no salt.

He orders barbecue chicken breast — or if he’s feeling a little crazy, the pork chop, well done — plus mashed potatoes with brown gravy and an iceberg lettuce salad with Italian dressing. Though recently, he’s discovered sweet potatoes. Turns out, he likes them.

Do they have an appetizer coupon for shrimp? Of course they do!

At Christmas, the Watsons noticed a promotion being offered that would afford anyone who bought a $200 gift card a free appetizer serving of shrimp on every visit for a year. They bought that gift card, and now, their meals start with an order of five shrimp on a skewer, which Ron always cuts into 10 equal pieces to share with his wife. (The kitchen mixes the couple up some special cocktail sauce, just how they like it.)

Ron has done the math. 

“We’re going to eat 1,560 shrimp this year,” he said.

👩‍🍳🧑‍🍳👨‍🍳 You Have to Follow the Recipe

A fun read, I think, for those of you not eating at Texas Roadhouse nightly (and a useful distinction for yours truly re: cooking vs. baking):

Baking is an ancient science, based on the principle of alchemical transformation: the combination of disparate elements, that, in the presence of heat, becomes a new substance. Masters of the art can describe these substances in terms of their component molecules down to the percentage point. A recipe for a baked good is a chemical formula arrived at after centuries of trial and error. Which is why it becomes necessary to ask the question: why are you fucking around with it?

Good start!

“But I hate following recipes!” This is the refrain of a person who believes their rugged independent spirit can only be expressed through failing to produce satisfactory baked goods. This attitude is misplaced. Here is the fact of the matter: if you hate the following the recipe, you can’t bake. You will not be able to do it.

Closer.

The thing is, there is usually no trick to baking. It is not the sole province of culinary school graduates or wise old villagers to know how to bake. Remember Auguste Gusteau’s maxim from Ratatouille, the second best cooking movie after Big Night and the second most communist children’s movie after The Lego Movie: “Anyone can cook.” It is all there in the recipe and if you follow it you will most likely end up with something that tastes good. This is not an elitist principle, it’s an egalitarian one. Following the recipe allows you to do things at home that Big Pastry doesn’t want you to know you can do.

And there we go.

📽 Long Shot Was the Best Romantic Comedy of 2019

I love an outrageous take and wow take a look at that headline again. The best romantic comedy of the year is the one where fictional Nikki Haley (Charlize) was a babysitter in high school for someone (Seth) who now writes at a Vox-equivalent and hey look at that they’re in love.

“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” Frank Sinatra said. “But then again, too few to mention.” Well, isn’t that nice for him. I personally have many regrets, one of which I need to mention immediately. Here it is: I have known for several months that Long Shot was the best romantic comedy of the year and I haven’t said anything about it until right now.

When I saw it in theaters this past spring, it was underperforming. It made $9,740,064 its opening weekend (which is not good), and I assume you did not see it. Would it still have underperformed at the box office (“partially attributed to its premiere one week after the blockbuster success of Avengers: Endgame,” according to the Ringer, according to Wikipedia) had I said something about it earlier? I’ll never know.

But now that Long Shot is available to stream on HBO, and now that it is the last day of the year, I have decided I need to speak up.

Long Shot is very good.

Alright, I’m going to give it a try and will be back in your inbox Thursday with another installment of A Guy Who Likes Movies Reviews The Movies. Until then:

“That was … the best movie I have ever seen?” I texted my friend immediately after seeing Long Shot. She saw it separately on the same night, and she agreed. You might be wondering: Was the comment due to a general springtime happiness? Or due to having had a glass of wine in the theater? No. In fact, I watched it again recently and it was still very good. It is a movie that your friends will watch and then report back to you saying, “Wait — that was really good?” Which is insulting to the movie, but what can you do. I’m not sure what to tell you that will not spoil the plot more than I already have. Just watch it? It will take two hours and four minutes. You can trust me. And, if for no other reason, please watch it to clear my conscious for the New Year.

🏈🪑 The Importance of Owning a Camp Chair

Finally, it turns out camp chairs (who knew?) are the new Thanos glove:

I have become very powerful.

I have acquired a third camp chair. 

I know, I know. It seems rash, yes? I believed two camp chairs, while practical, also indicated serious ambition. I believe it indicated a confidence, a real belief not only in my ability to carry the camp chair, to remember it and plan ahead, but also that somebody would want to sit next to me, and enjoy the company of me, my friends, and the day together. 

I have some data to support the conclusion this plan has worked. Seven people have enjoyed the $8 seat of EXCELSIOR TWO since I purchased it at the sporting goods store. People have consumed beverages in it. They have eaten in it. They have discussed football while sitting in affordable comfort for long stretches of time. 

All of the chair-occupiers seem to have enjoyed it, though I have not given anyone surveys, and I do not plan on collecting any data or anecdotal evidence in the future. I also am not completely sure everyone enjoyed my company, but at the very least nobody seem openly antagonistic. 

Of the seven people that have enjoyed my pair of camp chairs at tailgates, I have remembered four new names. This is a personal best. I have also acquired three new phone numbers, and have texted each of them in a social capacity. This outreach campaign on my part has been entirely owing to the quality and deployment of two $8 chairs. 

Based on this, I have reviewed my budget, and have done what was once the unthinkable. 

I have purchased an unprecedented third camp chair.

He buys a fourth. Ok bye!

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