All posts by Brian Beaudry

I'm a proud Kennewick HS and EWU alum and I live in Irving, Texas. Contact me on Twitter: @BeaudryDFW.

Colonel America and the Americaneers

When you see photographs of the five living former Presidents uniting, as they often have recently, there are three ways to look at the photo: 

  1. To be happy to see them all together and uniting as Americans to achieve a common goal, 
  2. To be mad that they undermine President Trump by reminding us that America used to not be a cesspool of hate, or 
  3. Think “Holy crap! What if they were like the Planeteers and, by their powers combined, they could produce something that could battle those attempting to destroy our nation?”

I think it’s clear what my reaction was. 

We absolutely can’t use the same elements from the Captain Planet series, because then they’d be uniting to make Captain Planet. We’re not really looking to save the world at this point – we’re starting smaller by saving America. So we need to decide what “elements” we would use to make up Colonel America…

…Okay, we also need to figure out a good name for the combination of their abilities. Captain America, the obvious parallel to Captain Planet, is already taken; General America sounds like a vague concept of America instead of someone capable of battling evil, so I’ve settled on Colonel America. If you have a better one, tweet me with your improved names at @BeaudryDFW. Secondly, we need to know which former President to assign to each element. It was easier for me to come up with elements if I had a President in mind for each element.

Here’s what I’ve settled on as the best possible element/President matches:

Freedom

If you ask any American what the first word that comes to mind is when they think of America, a majority will say “Freedom!” I don’t know if that’s because we’ve just done such a good job of telling ourselves we’re so free or if because we actually are pretty free, but there’s no way we can create a Colonel America (again, pending name change) without it. I’m aware that the Patriot Act and other legislation makes my pick for this element contradictory, but c’mon, if you’re going to associate a President with someone arbitrarily yelling “Freedom!” Dubya is the guy immediately coming to mind.

Equality

Sure, we’ve never really achieved this, but it’s an ideal we’ve had since the founding of the nation. We wanted to get rid of the class system we’d inherited from the English, which never really happened, and our leaders probably never REALLY wanted to get rid of it (people in power tend to opt to keep it). But since we’re supposed to be making the union more perfect, it’s something we’re called to work on.

Obviously here, we’re picking the first Bu…no, of course we’re picking Obama. Not because of his own color making him the first black President, which would be the surface-level, basic person reason for putting him in this slot, but because his Administration produced several moves toward equality. From marriage equality to DACA to women being allowed to serve in combat roles, Americans were more socially equal to each other than ever. 

Brotherhood

Okay, we’re supposed to be crowning our good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea, so I’m using this. After looking at the first three options, it seems I’ve ripped off the French motto (taken from their own revolution) of “Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité” and converting it to more “American” terms.

Using this option allows me to use OG Bush and Clinton together. They already (SHOULD HAVE) had their own buddy reality show going on during the Bush II and Obama Presidencies, so it’s natural to have them represent brotherhood. A Republican and a Democrat that campaigned against one another and can still be friends and both support America together? Done. And, y’know, if anyone decides to spin them off into their own cartoon, I’m good with that. 

Dream

I managed to get four of the former Presidents into three categories, with one President sitting out there all alone, just like the original Planeteers managed to get all of nature’s elements into four people with a five-person crew. That means we have to shove someone into the last category, which will always seem like the cheesiest and worst one, but is actually maybe the best. Much like Heart is really an incredibly powerful element, especially among people, Dream encompasses hope and the idea that we’re constantly working to obtain a better future for ourselves and for America as a whole. Dream is what makes the whole damn thing work and keep growing through time.

President Carter, already kind of the outsider of the group due to the years he was President being separated from the others (by Reagan, who is dead, so he can’t participate in this), is also the best possible representative for Dream. The dude came up on a one-acre peanut farm, actually lived on government assistance for a while, and eventually became a successful farmer and President. He also continually works to improve others’ lives through Habitat for Humanity and is generally thought of as a good dude, if not a great President.

Great! Now we have the…Americaneers? Dammit, we need to work on that name, too. 

Finally, who’s the villain? In case it wasn’t obvious who the villain was…he was also a villain in Captain Planet. And I’m not even the first one to notice the similarities:

Let’s save America from Hoggish Greedly, Americaneers. With your powers combined…let’s unleash Colonel America. 

Ugh, that sentence would be so much better if I had better names for the group and the superhero they create. Please help me out with better names at @BeaudryDFW.

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Klyde Warren Park Food Trucks (Dallas, TX)



While I’m on board with food trucks in general (I like that my office building now has a different one outaide for lunch every day), I do have to complain about the artisan food trucks. 

To go “back in my day” again…

Back in my day, food trucks were taco trucks – you’d go to these little stands that were known only by word of mouth and pay absurdly small prices for a good amount of Mexican food and eat with a bunch of strangers on some nearby picnic benches.

Now you’re (OK, I’m) dropping $8-10 on a basic gyro or a mini-pizza; it costs MORE than it would at a restaurant, somehow.

The park was fun – lots of cool stuff to do and you can visit nearby art museums for free if you want some culture (but honestly, for the air conditioning). The food trucks were so-so – the food was adequate but overpriced, but I didn’t have to go try to park again or walk around to a restaurant, so I guess it’s a convenience fee. 

The one food truck that was especially delicious was called Cool Haus, maybe, (I’m writing about this about 11 months later). Snickerdoodles with ice cream between them? Yes, every day of the week. The $5 or so for an ice cream sandwich felt ridiculous, but given that I’d just paid like $20 for basically a personal pan pizza and an aggressively mediocre gyro, it was the best waste of money I had that day.

Thank you, Cool Haus (probably).

Starburst, Symbol of the Alt-Right

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but America is in the middle of a messy divorce. Sure, the thought pieces and studies describing our separate news sourcesbook selectionsTV series, and how we’re all talking past each other make good observations, but one thing truly epitomizes what is tearing us apart: Starburst.

FaveREDs, which are bags of Starburst with only red and pink colors included, were introduced in 2016. In 2017, the product went a step further and released all-pink bags.

This was inevitable, probably. The proliferation of “Have it your way” culture has given seemingly everyone the expectation that they should get everything they want, exactly the way they want it, right now, and for free.

Back in my day (I’m 34, so basically a senior citizen), Starburst came in four flavors, like it or not. Pink and red were the favorites among most, but orange and yellow, for people that didn’t like them, allowed us to grow as human beings in one of two ways:

  1. You could give the orange and yellow Starburst to a friend (or a stranger, starting a conversation and making a new friend). This ensured we were all at least capable of generating small talk and acknowledging others’ existence. It reminded us that people had different opinions than us and that we could not only live with those differences, but that those differences could help us get the job done.
  2. You could learn to like orange and yellow Starburst. They provide a tangy pop in a line of overly sweet, soft candy. It’s a nice curveball to keep your tongue from getting too comfortable at the plate (or tube, as it were). This option had the advantage that you could also work with others who refused to grow their character to acquire THEIR candy, providing an incentive to broaden your tastes and learn to appreciate new things.

Instead of strengthening ourselves as a nation, now we’re focused on getting only what we want – never trying to grow beyond what we already like; never trying to understand why other things exist; never appreciating others for what they bring to the table.

If I post #OrangeStarburstMatter on social media now, I’m bound to be shouted down by the #AllStarburstMatter crowds who are constantly spewing nonsense about how the entire Starburst empire was based on pink and red Starburst, and orange and yellow should be happy they were allowed to exist in the same bag for so long. They would praise Starburst for eliminating those pesky orange and yellow Starburst for them. Are those the kind of selfish people we want running the show?

Let’s get back to uniting, not dividing. Don’t be tempted by the ease of having your preferred flavor pre-separated for you. As Denzel Washington said: “Ease is the greatest threat to progress, not hardship.” Don’t allow them to tell America that only one flavor really matters.

Stop Starburst now. For America.

Popeye’s (Irving, TX)

If you like cold chicken tenders and gross fries, this is the place for you!

Just close the rest of the prep area down and turn it into a bakery for those biscuits, ’cause they were the only acceptable thing associated with this place. In fairness, I would probably eat 70 of them at one sitting, given the opportunity, they’re so delicious (and I’m such a glutton). I discovered afterwards that I could’ve just bought a dozen biscuits – had I ordered that, I might have been willing to overlook the flies coming around the table every so often. 

I have been to other Popeye’s that weren’t gross, but I wouldn’t go back to this particular location with your money.

El Pollo Loco (Grand Prairie, TX)

Somehow, despite them being all over the place when I grew up in Southern California, I don’t remember ever having gone to El Pollo Loco.

That…was a mistake. (Or perhaps they have changed their menu in the 20+ years since then.)

Thanks to their insistence on moving into my work’s neighborhood and what I’m calling a “Take 5” day, wherein my favorite CEO gives us five bucks each to go grab some food at a local restaurant as a team, I went and tried an avocado chicken burrito. And I added a chips and queso. And some avocado salsa.

If you’re squeamish about seeing a couple dozen chickens on sticks being grilled, maybe order your food ahead of time and don’t look up as you’re paying for your food. If you’re not, appreciate the presentation, which is certainly better-looking than the typical assembly line of frozen food at many other fast-food joints.

Each time I’ve gone to this location (and it’s now been a lot since I’m writing this about nine months later), the food has been fresh and the service has been great. I went to another location (Watauga) and they had horchata, which is apparently Spanish for “Churros you drink.” 🔥🔥🔥

Also, they have regular churros if you like. Is it REAL Mexican food? Nah. Is it 💣? Yup.

Hyatt Regency Dallas (Dallas, TX)

Last October, the company I work for had an International Conference at the Hyatt Regency (and around town). I played no part in selecting the menu, but I salute those that did.

Since I didn’t have to pay for the food, it was already automatically great in my book, but when you can have things like unlimited fajitas or meat from land, air, and sea in one meal…what more can a fella ask for?

(This isn’t so much a review as it is me telling you I ate a lot of great food for free. Sorry for bragging.)

A dish as tasty as it is made unattractive by my desire to mound as much of it on one plate as possible.
Plating, schmating. Fish, chicken, and beef along with various sides? Yes.
Breakfast sandwich and cantaloupe. Not seen: Pineapple, which I either ate or waited for a second plate to eat.

Chick-Fil-A Catering

First of all, let’s make something clear. Waffle fries are overrated garbage, an insult to both fries and waffles. You can’t fit many into a fry container and the few that you get don’t fit well into sauce containers. They have way too much potato for their surface area as well.

That said, waffle chips are absolutely amazing. Everything that is wrong with waffle fries is corrected -they’re just as salty as regular chips, but with a little more airiness and texture. If I were putting chips in my sandwich, they would be ideal…but they’re too good to NOT eat by themselves. Why do they continue with the foolishness of waffle fries in their restaurants?

We’ve had Chick-Fil-A’s catering a few times at work, and I’ve tried a few of their meal options, all of which are good. The chicken is tasty and they top things properly. But all the meals come with waffle chips and the cookie in every box, so really, the main course doesnt matter. Somehow, there are always extra chips and cookies left over, too! Man, I love seeing the email saying we have catering for lunch.

Chapps Burgers (Grand Prairie, TX)

Chapps was just a restaurant I passed by daily on my way to work, until they closed down to remodel and rebrand as Chapps Burgers. When you add “Burgers” to a name, there’s at least a 90% chance I’m interested in eating there (exception:Burger King).

Emoji review: 👍 (The emoji reviews are probably going away soon, in case you can’t tell.)

Anyway, the new place had a Mooyah/Five Guys style ordering process, with a slightly classier vibe. The vibe costs a little more, and the burgers are different, but an acceptable option.

As you can see in the photo, the burger patty is on the thick side and doesn’t reach the edge of the bun. (I think I’m becoming a fan of thin patties; you can get more flavor with that extra surface area and that just makes more space for more cheese. That’s what we call a win-win, unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case, I’m sorry for your loss.) So if you like ’em, in the misapplied words of Sir Mix-A-Lot, “real thick and juicy,” Chapps might have the burgers you’re looking for. 

Their fries were…well, it’s been a few months, but I’ve forgotten them, so they’re forgettable.

Major selling point: They did have Big Red as a fountain drink option. That’s very Texan of them and also something I heartily endorse. 

I wasn’t upset about my experience at Chapps, but Im not really compelled to break my new streak of days driving by it on the way to work without going in, either.

Arby’s (Irving, TX)

I know, I always eat at super-classy joints, so what am I doing at Arby’s? Why, trying a smokehouse brisket sandwich, of course.

Emoji review: 🐄😐

I ate this a longggggggg time ago, but I remember the restaurant was fairly empty and clean. The tables looked cool. The Kid’s Meal toy was a pretty fun little flip book with constellations and galaxies.

The brisket sandwich was a disappointment, because of course it was. I ordered brisket at Arby’s and I live in Texas. So that’s on me. I had forgotten that curly fries were standard at Arby’s, so that was a nice surprise.

All in all, a very OK experience that doesn’t provoke anger towards Arby’s, but I wouldn’t ever say “Let’s go to Arby’s!”*.

*Unless they’re bringing back the 5 for $5. Or the real Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich, which was incredible to have at a fast food restaurant.

Wingstop (Irving, TX)

Apparently Wingstop’s Facebook advertising worked to gain them at least one customer. I already knew I liked them because I like (boneless) wings and french fries, and they have tasty versions of both.

Emoji review: 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍟🍟🍟😙😙

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