Monthly Archives: December 2008

I-10 Tastiness

Well, I’m back in Virginia, but not without a three-day gastrointestinal journey through the South. My route, TX-71 to I-10 to I-95, was an exhausting 1600-mile ride, but it was the tasty gems along the way that made it memorable.

Sidebar: thanks to three people for their great suggestions for the route: MJ, SO, KG. Fantastic picks!

We got to see several cities I had never been to before on the route: Houston, Baton Rouge, Mobile and Jacksonville. Also went through some more familiar places, including a hilarious interlude at South of the Border, the biggest tourist trap in the world (just ‘cuz), and any east coast must — a stop for vinegar-based NC BBQ. Oh how I’ve missed this delicacy in my time in Texas.

I got to sample three of the suggested eateries along the way: The Chimes, an off-campus LSU haunt where I tried the crawfish etouffe, and across Baton Rouge, Coffee Call, a great 24-hour coffeeshop with stellar beignets, hidden in a strip mall. Finally, in Jacksonville, I dove into a fried chicken dinner with all-you-can-eat sides for $8.46 at Beach Road Chicken Dinners. It was quite the culinary marathon.


The Chimes was a good place to relax and enjoy some Louisiana fare in a laidback college town environment. While I slaughtered the pronunciation of etouffe and roumelade and other French words, I made up for it with my prowess in taking down Coffee Call’s beignet fingers 15 minutes later. My “small” order of beignets (about $3) was a large enough serving to feed me breakfast for three days. I ate the majority in one sitting though: I’m just that gross (or awesome, depending on the judge).

Night two brought me to the granddaddy of all southern feasts: Beach Road Chicken Dinners. I chowed down on perfectly crispy fried chicken and an endless supply of buttery biscuits, hush puppies, fries, mashed potatoes, gravy, cole slaw and cream peas. All was sloshed down with an endless stream of sweet tea. All this for under $10. Unreal. The meal was quite the spectacle. We ordered drinks, my dad excused himself to wash his hands, and upon his return our entire table was filled with family style side dishes and a massive centerpiece of fried chicken. Doesn’t get much better than that!

A preview of what Southern Living called the Best Fried Chicken in the South in 1997 and #1 in Jacksonville Magazine:


Here is where I found what may be the tastiest equation discovered in 2008:

French fries + mashed potatoes + gravy = Insanely awesome (translated: fries dipped in mashed potatoes with gravy could be the world’s best kept food secret)


Since every great meal should end with dessert, I leave you with a taste (sorry this isn’t Taste-o-vision) of Coffee Call’s beignet fingers…

Beach Road Chicken Dinners pictures courtesy of the Travelin Man’s Photostream on Flickr
Coffee Call picture also from Flickr

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Filed under Florida, food, Louisiana, road trips, The South, travel

Chuck Brown goes wild

Today we wrapped up our portfolio class with the end-of-semester critique. Everyone finished in time and it was nice to see my classmates’ work (and my own) come to fruition. We got some helpful feedback from industry pros which enabled us to gauge our progress on “making our books.”

No matter how you slice it though, it’s been an exhausting journey. As my friend Stacey put so precisely early this week, “P2 [intermediate portfolio] is full of growing pains.” I agree. Unlike in P1 (beginning portfolio), we’re sorta at the point now where we know when our stuff sucks, but are still grappling at making things good or great. There’s a whole lot of being satisfactory or adequate, but not special. Needless to say it’s frustrating, but all part of the learning experience.

Anyway, like all things in life besides the really important things like family and friends, you just have to remind yourself “it’s just advertising.” We all get sucked into our own little worlds and forget about the world going on outside. We don’t return phone calls. We go underground for unknown periods of time, conversing only with others in the same situation. Our tempers are short and we’re ready to pounce on unsuspecting copy center employees, should they mess up our order or coloration on our final ads. We worry about the most infinitesimal details… “I don’t have time to get coffee, I have to redo the Gaussian blur.” To quote my undergrad econ professor, Ken Elzinga, “In the long run we’re all dead.” How much difference will that extra 10 minutes for a snack or caffeine break make in the long run? Will it be the difference between a lower and higher score at critique? Probably not.

But who am I kidding? I got sucked into the madness just as much as everyone. As usual, seeing everyone else stressed out frazzled me as well. Call it pathetic, but I was glad for it to end because for the first time in a week I sat down and watched three TV shows in a row. I stress the word watched, because I’ve been listening while graphic designing/art directing or cutting my foamcore for the final mounted ads for the past week, but hadn’t truly enjoyed the art of watching TV.

Going back to “it’s just advertising,” a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this unbelievably hilarious YouTube video parodying agency life. I laughed loudly at least six times during the video, and thought over and over again “this is what I’m going to school for.” I think if you can’t laugh at yourself you won’t be able to survive in the working world. It was the perfect thing to watch after a day, week, month, and really, semester of portfolio obsessing.

I love that it doesn’t miss a single detail. Egotistical creatives* driven by the incessant need to win awards (and toot their own horns about it). The mention that Crispin always comes up with the great ideas, looking for inspiration in the CA annual, which works perfectly, as that issue arrives in December. Guerilla marketing. KISS – Keep it simple stupid (I enjoyed the surprising substitution of “shithead” though for that final S in the acronym). “Concepting.” There’s a word you don’t hear enough of in the advertising world.

Well enough with the overanalysis. I’m going to KISS and get ready for and go to bed — a plan that has worked for thousands of nights of my life already, and yet never loses its freshness.

*I will post my opinions on this word in a future post. Stay tuned.

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Filed under advertising, agencies, graphic design, Peanuts

Happy December

Hi to the five people who read this! Sorry for my lack of updates lately. Things are a whirlwind with finishing up school, yadda yadda. Saturday I graduated, so now I guess I’m a Texas Ex!


OK, so maybe not quite. I still have two classes that haven’t finished. Thursday @ 8 am all of our ads for the semester are due for critique. Two or so creative advertising bigwigs will come in and crush our souls and tell us we aren’t good enough for the ad biz. Won’t be anything I haven’t heard before. I’m just looking forward to being done.

Friday I have my final sports journalism project due. We have to write three articles: a 1000 word main story, a 600 word sidebar and a 600 word column about topics related to Central Texas, Austin or UT sports. My main story will cover the history of UT athletics from 1970 to present. In my sidebar, I’ll write about women’s athletics director Chris Plonsky and how UT athletics are able to thrive with a two-AD system. (Piece of trivia for you: only two D1 schools do this: Texas and Tennessee). In my column I’ll argue what’s ethical and what’s not in collegiate sports marketing. My opinion may surprise you!

Anyway, I got to interview both Plonsky and men’s AD DeLoss Dodds. Both were absolute class acts and a joy to talk to. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve learned in this class, not only about sports, but about careers and writing as well.

Anyway, Dodds actually wanted to get to know me first before we even got to the interview. Asked all about where I’m from, why Texas, all that good stuff. At the end of the interview he gave me a copy of this, saying “I figure you’d appreciate this anyway, but especially as a history major and fan of 20th century history.” Wow. No really, wow.

OK, but really, I have a whole lot of work I need to get back to. Legit post coming soon. And I get my life back in only a few more days! Til then, enjoy your Christmas Pandora station and watch some Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and/or Rudolph for me!

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Filed under advertising, college football, journalism, sports