No More "No Rules" [2/25/2009]

Dear Outback,

I like my burgers with three things on top: mushrooms, grilled onions, and Swiss cheese. That's it. No lettuce, tomato, fresh onion, ketchup, mayo, or mustard. Definitely no bacon or onion straws!

A few years after my husband turned ex-vegetarian he acquired a taste for prime rib. I don't like steak or seafood. This meant that on our quest to find the best prime rib in town, I was eating a lot of burgers and chicken at all the steak house chains. His favorite turned out to be Black Angus.

I tried about twenty times to get them to make the mushroom, grilled onion, and Swiss burger for me. (They have a steak add-on/topper of grilled onions and mushrooms. So, theoretically they could get it right.) Well, every time they either left on multiple toppings I didn't want, forgot one of my three things, or both. They were just incapable of making my simple burger.

Luckily, I found I liked their chicken alfredo penne. So, I ordered that every single time. Then, they changed the chicken to shrimp. So, now, I have to ask for chicken instead of shrimp (good thing they haven't got that wrong yet).

One time I went to Outback with a group of friends. Most of the menu was steak and seafood that didn't interest me at all. Finally, on the back page, I found a small section with the "No Rules" burger. It was a design your own burger.

I ordered my burger and got what I wanted!! It was a miracle. And, it was delicious! Fantastically good, and it wasn't wrong. It wasn't wrong to break their rules and change their designed burger recipes. I could get my burger without trouble and without a lot of explaining.

Needless to say, I convinced my husband to go to Outback much more often. In fact, we were going several times a month. I was in heaven ordering my "No Rules" burger how I wanted it every time. I wasn't interested in the few chicken options. Especially not when the burger was so good.

Well, last month, I went to Outback expecting to get another yummy burger. They had changed their menu and removed the reason I came. The "No Rules" was no longer. I had to ask the waiter to remove everything from the new "The Outbacker Burger" and add what I wanted.

But, even worse, I thought (maybe mistakenly) that the whole vibe/feel of Outback was about being laid back and easy going. By forcing me to break their new rules and go through a lot of trouble to get my burger how I wanted it, I was not feeling laid back at all.

I don't know if I'll go back to Outback again. I'm hoping you will come to your senses and see the error of your ways. I hope everyone complains and you are forced to add the "No Rules" back on the menu. But, for the time being, I'll now be arguing for The Cheesecake Factory where I can somewhat easily order my burger.

A former devotee

Subway in the Sky! a Conoco ad from February 28, 1953 [2/20/2009]

All this exciting talk lately about high speed rail lines has reminded me that I never posted this ad. It's framed and up on the wall in my study. I found it in one of the antique shops in Prescott.

The middle copy reads "Commuters in Los Angeles soon may rush to work by this monorail overhead transit system, unhampered by street level traffic. Super-streamlined 100-passenger cars can travel safely at speeds up to 100 miles an hour. The 44-mile run through metropolitan Los Angeles will cut the present commuting time in half." (Click to read the full text of the ad.)

Lee Bontecou is Awesome [2/20/2009]

I first saw Lee Bontecou's artwork featured in the March 2004 issue of Vogue magazine. I loved the intricacy of this piece. Click to see it in more detail.(Back view of the same piece)In December of 2006, I saw her work in person at the Phoenix Art Museum.Some more of her amazing pieces:She also does some great black and white drawings. I especially like this one:

Amazing Stories Cover (May 1932) [2/18/2009]

For some reason I'm really digging the idea of a civilization of intelligent birds as depicted here. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the artist's name yet. (I'm still looking.)

Finished Oryx and Crake [2/07/2009]

I really loved this book. And not just because I've been into post-apocalyptic novels lately. I dislike reality tv shows, and yet strangely it didn't bother me that this had the same flavor. In some ways, it also had a similar feel to Southland Tales. Mostly, I'm at a loss to describe why this book is so good. Just read it.