“The Chris” Sandwich
I wouldn’t say I’m hopeless in the kitchen, but if not for printed recipes and frozen dinners, I’d be a favorite on the inevitable Top Chef spin-off, Flop Chef. And, let’s face it, we’d all totally watch.
“Well, Tom, I’ve microwaved shredded cheddar and jack on top of these spray-tanned Doritos, and I’m serving them with salsa, still in its jar. Also, I’m going to use the phrase ‘sous-vide’ incorrectly, and you’re just going to have to deal with that.”
My palate is limited to what you’d find in an elementary-school cafeteria. Burgers, nuggets, pizza and sandwiches are my four food groups, and I’m not proud of it. It’s not for a lack of effort. I’ve enjoyed fine-dining experiences; I just don’t prefer ornate culinary presentation unless my date is rocking the hell out of a little black dress and distracting me from the adventurous, slimy proteins clinging to shiny white ceramic.
I remain on a quest for the perfect sandwich. And with enough trial and error, as well as the help of my local deli — which sadly just closed — I might have come up with it.
On a soft, seedless hero, start with sliced Boar’s Head Chipotle Chicken Breast, then top it with melted muenster, chilled coleslaw, sliced tomatoes and Russian dressing. In addition to cheese serving as a mandatory component to any ideal sandwich, it helps cool down the spice of the chicken. Paired with tomato, the coleslaw acts a tasty lettuce alternative, and Russian is probably the best dressing this side of Caesar.
I ordered this sandwich so often, after a while I’d just call it “The Chris,” and the owner of my local deli knew exactly what I was talking about.
Serve it with a deli pickle, and you’ve got the kind of sandwich you’ll want to eat without anyone talking to you.
Photo-Only Instagram Feeds
Launched as a photo-sharing app, Instagram can oft be a source of angst. I’ve joked that “On weekends, Instagram should be called We’re Having Fun Without You,” and it’s easy to feel that way when friends are popping bottles on a private beach while adjacent supermodels flash duckfaces and peace signs. And, wait, is that Bill Murray in the background, giving you bunny ears? God dammit.
But if you can get past the jealousy, Instagram’s photos have an inherent, peaceful purity about them.
I follow a lot of friends and comedians’ feeds, and am often floored by their genuine eye for color, light, and space. Sure, I tend to gravitate toward artsy types, and many of these people are eye candy unto themselves. But I’m still appreciative of the way they frame the moments of their lives: the skyline sunset, the view from an airplane seat, the drunken karaoke crew that’s belting out some ’90s R&B jam. Despite the obligatory snaps of food (“The Chris” notwithstanding) and fireworks on the Fourth of July, I still can dismiss the cliché and admire your inner paparazzo.
That said, I’m still waiting for the day when I can hide Instagram videos from my feed. Oh, you’d like to post videos in a similar fashion? That’s what Vine is for, kids. With or without sound, they’re noise in a medium that once found strength in silence.
I’m not a huge fan of screen-grabs from the phone and Internet, which feel like a cop-out on Instagram — amateurish in the way they ruin the flow of more organic visuals. Are you proud of your tweet, or someone who followed you on Twitter? Great, that’s what Twitter is for. And as great as Grumpy Cat is, I’d prefer you take a picture with her, rather than post one of her memes. Stop cheating.
Videos and screen-grabs detract from traditional photos on Instagram, and I’ll often swipe right by them in favor of someone’s 493rd selfie in as many days.
And before you complain, I’m writing this post just as much for me as I am for you. I’m just as guilty of posting videos and screen-grabs on Instagram. Still, I try to keep them to a minimum. I take a hell of a lot more pride in taking, cropping, framing, and filtering photos. By far, those are the most popular visuals in my feed, and I wish more users would realize why.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
By now, you’ve probably heard about the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain, famous for serving suds, banning unaccompanied kids, and having a zero-tolerance policy targeting texters and talkers. Hell, its co-founder demanded that Madonna apologize for allegedly texting during an October screening of 12 Years a Slave, so you know they mean business.
Thankfully, there are other reasons to remember Alamo, which blew me away soon after it opened its first New York City-area theater in August.
Beyond the gimmick of selling beer — which is not to be overlooked, especially given the selection and coordination with local breweries — the menu puts stale popcorn and oversized candy bars to shame. There are too many highlights to mention, but the soft-baked cookies are the stuff diabetic dreams are made of.
The fun begins a full half hour before the previews. Prior to the previews that accompanied a screening of Gravity, the audience guffawed at a collection of curated clips that included Homer Simpson’s hilarious space flight, as well as movie and TV characters falling off cliffs and out of buildings, mimicking Gravity’s end-over-end visual of Sandra Bullock’s tumble into the void.
And then there are the movies themselves. Sure, you may have joined me in catching Anchorman 2 the week of its release, but there’s so much more than that. Alamo plucks favorites from the vault for monthly programming series, which often include classic cinema but are anything but stuffy. Last month, perhaps tying into the Anchorman 2 premiere, the theme was the news, with screenings of Superman, Citizen Kane, All the President’s Men, and Almost Famous, among others.
On top of that, the special events that these theaters coordinate are nothing short of inspired. There are guest speakers, trivia contests and music-video dance parties, but my favorite was a Ghostbusters quote-along, which encouraged audience members not only to shout their favorite lines in time with the dialogue, but also to utilize items from an “Action Pack” distributed in the lobby, Rocky Horror Picture Show-style. Glow-sticks became proton-pack streams, and marshmallows were eaten (and launched) with the climactic arrival of Mr. Stay Puft.
It’s not perfect. Servers at my local Alamo have the best intentions, but sometimes food service is slower than one would expect, especially given the two hours they’re allotted to pull it off. That may be a function of being a new business, but when I want my freshly baked pretzel with two gourmet sauces, I shouldn’t have to wait any longer than necessary, because America. It’s also not the cheapest way to spend two hours, as I’ve found that dinner-and-a-movie on site sets me back at least $30.
But it’s worth every penny to have the solace of great movies and a crowd that loves and respects movies as much as you do, even if it means irking a Material Girl in the process.