Monthly Archives: June 2013

BonChon Chicken

Sometime last year my wife started talking about this chicken place that she found out about with her sister. “It’s so good! You have to come with us! We can’t get enough of this chicken!” over and over again she’d tell me, every time she’d go out with her sister it was the same deal, “This chicken is the greatest!”


And it was annoying, seeing my wife and my sister-in-law this happy, over chicken. Watching them talk about their experience at this restaurant, I’d think to myself, I don’t ever get to that level of joy about anything in life, let alone fried chicken, and so I sank my heels in deep, determined not to let myself try the chicken, lest I start to believe that maybe this type of happiness might be real.

I was afraid, deep down, that I’d buy into whatever hype they’d bought into, and then after trying the chicken, I’d be naturally disappointed. I’d come back home with a stomach full of grease and I’d wonder, am I fully here? Is there something wrong with me, preventing me from enjoying what everyone else seems to be genuinely in love with?

Just let them get it out of their system, I figured, they’ll eat it to the point where they get sick of it and then we can all get back to our miserable, regular lives as usual. But the chicken fever, it wasn’t running its course. If anything, their love for this chicken place was growing deeper, stronger in intensity.

And try as I might to make them keep their chicken business to themselves, it got to the point where their occasional, “Rob, you really should try this chicken place,” snowballed into a daily, “Rob! I order you to try this chicken! Rob! I’m serious!” But like I said, I had already made up my mind. For better or for worse, I’m a stubborn guy, a real asshole, and so this went on for weeks, me, just trying to go about my life, attempting ever more unsuccessfully to evade this fried chicken propaganda.

One day I was getting off from work and my wife was like, “I’m getting off from work too. Let’s meet up and grab a bite to eat.” In a lapse of judgment, I agreed. She told me where we’d meet, but failed to mention the place. I showed up a little earlier than she did only to find that I’d been duped.

There it was, BonChon Chicken. I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming. It’s like, I don’t think my wife had eaten anything else besides BonChon Chicken for the past month, and here I was being guided to a restaurant of her choosing. Of course it was going to be BonChon Chicken. Had I really missed such an obvious trap? Or had a part of me started to cave? Somewhere from behind my active consciousness, was my brain maybe starting to at least wonder if any part of this hysteria might not in fact be true?

Reluctantly, I went inside and sat down at a table. BonChon? What kind of a place is this, Korean? I like Korean food, but I’ve never really made any sort of connection between kimchi and fried chicken. And that’s what the menu was all about. Legs, thighs, kimchi, scallion pancakes. Whatever, I was hungry and this place actually seemed pretty cool, that aroma wafting through the air …

Snap out of it Rob, I tried to ground myself back into my skeptical mind, let’s have a bite first, at least. I ordered the scallion pancake, some kimchi, and some assorted legs and thighs, some of them spicy, some of them garlic and soy sauce. “Ha!” I said to my wife after placing the order, “That’s not a fried chicken flavor!” But I just sounded like an idiot.

And I can admit that now, because as soon as I took that first bite, everything changed. I did a complete mental one-eighty. This was the best fried chicken I had ever had in my life. I’m not like a fried chicken connoisseur or anything, but I’ve eaten it elsewhere, I’ve made it in my own kitchen with varying degrees of success. Whatever, it’s fried chicken.

But BonChon is fried fucking chicken. It’s like, I have no idea how they do what they do with legs and thighs. Somehow the chicken winds up coming out of their kitchen almost too perfect in appearance. If you asked a professional artist to render the ideal fried chicken leg, he wouldn’t even come close to what BonChon is able to achieve.

The chicken skin is somehow not only fried to crispy perfection, but it balloons out slightly, absorbing whatever flavor it’s seasoned with, becoming one with the skin, and expanding just enough past the meat to where your first bite, it’s like crunchy skin, pause, then juicy meat. You know what I’m saying? When you have your standard fried chicken, the skin always kind of slides around on top of the meat, so when you start to dig in, you wind up swallowing most of it during those first two or three bites. But BonChon skin, it’s like its own entity, it’s almost structurally apart from the rest of the meat, ensuring that eat bite of chicken has at least a little bit of delicious, chewy, almost candy-like skin.

I’m a total convert. I wound up polishing off eight pieces on my first time. And every time my wife brings home a box, or I wind up sneaking away for more, I can’t help but finish every last morsel of meat from each bone. It’s almost crazy how good this chicken is. I like to brag about how much I can eat and all of the different foods that I’ve had, but BonChon is levels ahead of anywhere near where I’ve been before. I see that plate of chicken and it’s like I black out, like I get possessed by something inside, something primal, and the next thing I know I’m staring in disbelief at all of the bones that I’ve made short work of.

Go to BonChon Chicken. It’s a chain. There are several locations in New York. It’s usually crowded, so be prepared to wait. I hope this thing takes off and puts all other fried chicken places out of business. I hope that someday there is a BonChon on every corner. Hey President of South Korea, maybe it almost seems like too easy of a solution, but if all else fails with the whole North Korea stalemate, you might as well try some BonChon diplomacy. Fly them some chicken. Watch the Kim regime dissolve as they beg for more. It could happen, I really think it might work.

I deserve a promotion

I want a promotion so badly. Johnson got a promotion over a year ago, and we started like two weeks apart. And now that I think about it, I think it was me who started first. Or I interviewed first. It doesn’t matter, except that he got the promotion, and I definitely want one too. I didn’t even know he was up for a promotion. Real nice of him to let me know there was one up for grabs.

Fuck, Maggie got a promotion like last week, and she definitely didn’t start until like six months ago. What the hell man? Part of me has a mind to just barge into the boss’s office, I want to be like, “Boss, that’s it. I want a promotion right now, or I’m walking.” But that’s a little too aggressive, right? It’s like, I don’t know how to approach these situations.

And we haven’t even really talked, the boss and me, not since the old boss’s retirement party. What a fucking mountain out of a molehill, excuse the cliché, but that’s exactly what it was. I showed up, it was just in the conference room, right? And he wasn’t even half a day away from taking the reigns of the business and he’s like, “You! Hey! You! Where’s your tie? Show some respect!”

I didn’t even know what to think, how to respond. I was wearing slacks and a button-down. Nobody on four wears ties. Come on. And I probably should have just faded into the background, yeah, I wasn’t even that close with the old boss anyway, but, and maybe it’s because I wasn’t really aware that this guy was going to be the new boss, like I was aware of it, but my mind hadn’t made the official connection yet, and I was like, “Come on man! We never wear ties on four!”

And I know how it looked, like I was double-fisting those beers, but I wasn’t. I always do that at those corporate open bars, I get there early, I grab two beers, then I wait for the line to get really long and I’ll go up to somebody way in the back, somebody I haven’t necessarily talked to in a little while, and I’ll be like, “Hey! Long time no see, huh? Hey I got you a beer!”

But I kind of botched that this time around, I went up to this guy Phil, I hadn’t talked to him since orientation, like way back, and I was like, “Phil!” and right away, like before I even got a chance to really say hi, he just kind of puts his hand up, “I don’t drink.” OK, fine, don’t drink, but let me say hi at least. How did he know I was going to offer him a beer?

That’s what I was thinking, in my head I was like, who the hell does this guy think he is? So I took a sip out of each beer, just to be like, I don’t know what you’re talking about Phil, you don’t drink, fine, this beer wasn’t for you, I’m drinking double. That’s right, I’m double-fisting.

And that’s when I got called out on the no-tie thing, and after I told him that we never wear ties on four, he actually did call me out on the double-fisting. And so, yeah, I get how it looked, but there was more to it. There was a whole thing going on, with Phil, with the beers.  I started to tell him and he just walked away, fine, whatever, that’s not exactly a quality I would personally look for in a potential successor, but I’m sure the old boss had his reasons.

That’s when my friend Greg came up, one of my friends down on four, and he was like, “Hey man!” and I held him out that beer, whatever, I only took a little sip just before to show Phil, but it wasn’t that big of a sip, and Greg didn’t care, he was like, “Thanks man! You’re the fucking best!” Which was great, Greg’s a great guy, although I couldn’t help but notice he was wearing a tie, which I found kind of surprising.

And it’s ridiculous because Greg got promoted like three months ago. Greg! I need a promotion. It’s really not fair at all. All because of one corporate cocktail party? One no-tie situation? I was like three beers deep, and that’s another thing, why have an open bar if you’re just going to stand around and judge your employees for taking advantage of it? But whatever, all of the sudden the new boss showed up, “Here, put this on,” it was this old, like old green tie. It was like permanently warped, I don’t even know where he found this thing. It was green and slimy looking, like a dead garden snake.

“I don’t want to put that on, you’re not the boss,” not yet he wasn’t. Like I said, that hadn’t yet sunk in fully, I probably should have chosen my words a little more carefully, I could’ve been like, “You’re not the boss, yet.” And that was when my open bar trick kind of got me in trouble, right as I was arguing about the tie, Greg came back with four more beers, two for him, two more for me, and I was already holding two.

The boss put the tie in his pocket and told us both to leave immediately, to which Greg laughed and said, “You’re not the boss yet, get out of here,” and then he walked over to the old boss and got him a beer also. And the new boss just stood there in the corner for a while and scowled.

But it’s like, come on, you’re going to hold a grudge for that long? Can I please just have a promotion? I’ve been down on four for forever. Come on, I’ll start wearing a tie. Greg, you can put in a good word for me, right Greg? Greg? Does Greg still work here? You know, the big fat guy with the shirt always sort of untucked? No? He got fired? When? I thought he got promoted. How come nobody tells me anything around here? Am I on the email lists? Do I still work here?

I’m still pissed that I failed my first road test twelve years ago

If there’s one thing I’d love to go back in time and redo, it’s my road test. The first one. The one that I screwed up. It seems like a crazy thing to obsess over, but it was such a scam. There’s no reason why I should have failed that first time around. I think the whole system was set up against my passing.

Whatever, tell it to the judge, right? Yeah, well, find me a judge, get me a cheap lawyer, let’s go back into those DMV records, I want to find out just who administered my road test. Let’s get her on the stand and make her swear under oath that I didn’t deserve to pass it that time. Scratch that, if she was willing to lie the first time around, about my driving ability, she’ll probably lie to the judge anyway.

Nobody deserved his license more than I did. From a very early age, all I ever wanted to do was to drive a car. I have very vivid memories of me being a little kid, strapped in some car seat in the back of my parents’ station wagon, dreaming of the day when I’d be able to get behind the wheel and drive myself around. As I got closer to turning sixteen, time conspired against me, each day that passed felt like a year, ever closer to gaining my license yet infinitely further away.

Sometime in between my fifteenth and sixteenth birthday, I had everything set up, all of the paperwork filled out for my learner’s permit, my application for driver’s ed. All I had to do was wait for the earth to complete another partial revolution around the sun so that I’d finally reach that arbitrary age that our government decided was old enough for me to officially begin to learn how to drive.

I turned sixteen. Learner’s permit, check. All I had to do now was sit around some classroom every week for a couple months and watch boring educational videos on such compelling topics as, learning that you’re not supposed to play with the radio volume while you’re on the highway, or, understanding that getting cut off in traffic does not entitle you to pull a crowbar out of your trunk and start smashing the offender’s windshield in.

Even the instructor’s knew that driver’s ed was a joke. Our behind-the-wheel lessons consisted of us splitting our time between running errands around town for the teacher and going to get ice cream at various locations around Long Island. I think the final exam included a collage, magazine clippings glued to poster board like it was some sort of a rinky-dink teen-driving convention.

I didn’t totally mind however, because it was at least something to do, a reason to get out of the house. Plus, I actually got to spend time behind the wheel. It was a tease, sure, looking over at my instructor in the passenger’s side, he had this extra brake installed by his feet I guess so if I lost control or something.

After I accumulated the necessary classroom hours, I was able to set up my driver’s test. And this was where it counted. This was everything that I had been waiting for, the chance to prove to a representative of New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles that I, Rob G., was ready to join the ranks of the licensed to drive.

So I showed up to take my test and the inspector pulls up in a Chevy Cavalier. “Wait a second,” I asked her, “I have to take my driver’s test in this? What about my car, the one I’ve been practicing on?” And she agreed, yeah, usually you do get to take it in your own car. But for reasons that she refused to divulge, I’d be taking it in the Cavalier.

I hopped in the front seat and tried to move the seat back. “Don’t move the seat back,” she snapped. “Why? I’m like six foot three, come on.” And she just glared at me. In that moment, while she was probably already deciding that she’d fail me for having the nerve to adjust my seat to an appropriate position, I got a good idea at what I was up against. I don’t think this lady had a soul. She appeared miserable, like the only joy she had left to hope for in life was denying a guy like me my right to the open road.

“Pull out here and go straight,” she mumbled. I pulled out. I started going straight. “Make a right at the light.” I made a right at the light. “OK, pull over, you failed.”

What? I failed? Why? What did I do? She wouldn’t tell me. She wouldn’t say anything. She made me get out of the driver’s seat and drove us the block back to the starting point. It was obvious to everyone standing around that I had failed. She handed me a yellow slip of paper that awarded me absolutely zero points toward my road test. What a bunch of bullshit. I had to wait like three months before I was allowed to even schedule another test, one that I passed without any problems.

Whatever, I guess I should get over it. I don’t even have a car anymore. Still, I can’t believe that I failed. Everybody else in my family passed right away. Do you know how pissed off I get every time a road test conversation gets going? Everybody pointing and laughing, talking about how I’m the worst driver in the family.

I’m the best driver in the family! Oh, how I wish I could go back and redo it. But what would I even do differently? I don’t know. This lady had it out for me. Maybe I’d just reschedule. Or I’d fake a seizure. I don’t know. Or I’d let the person in front of me go ahead while I pretend to try to find my permit, hoping that I’d get a different instructor. I have no idea. It doesn’t matter I guess. But I still think back and I get really pissed off. Because I am the best driver in the family, I swear!

I’d like a cup of strong coffee

I was at work the other day and this old guy said to me, “I’d like a cup of strong coffee.” And I smiled and I said, “Yes sir,” and I went back into the kitchen and came out with a cup of coffee. I put it down in front of him with a little milk and I said, “Here you go sir, one cup of strong coffee.”


Guess what? It was just regular coffee. He made a point to order his coffee strong, whatever that means, and I also made it a point to deliver his coffee, repeating the word strong back to him as I set it down on the table. By my logic, his strong and my strong effectively cancelled each other out.

Listen old timer, I don’t know how restaurants did things back in the twenties, but what you think you’re exactly going to accomplish by telling your waiter that you want a cup of strong coffee? What do you think, we have different options back there? Strong, medium, weak? Who would order a cup of weak coffee?

Although, now that I’m thinking about it, it would probably make actually a little more sense to order some weak coffee. I’d just cut it with hot water. There you go, weak coffee. Although, I don’t know why anybody would drink weak coffee. Or decaf even. If you don’t like that caffeine kick that accompanies regular coffee, well then I just don’t understand where you’re coming from, what your idea of life is all about.

But the strong coffee guy, I put down that cup, I looked into his eye, I tried as best as I could to nonverbally communicate, hey mister, I heard you say strong coffee, yeah, and guess what? This is regular coffee. I’m almost daring him to call me out on it. “Waiter! I asked for strong coffee!”

And I’d just be like, “That is strong coffee.” Because strong is a subjective word. If I found myself in the unlikely scenario where I’d have to defend my position, I could genuinely say, sorry buddy, sorry boss, I thought our coffee was strong. I thought that was a pretty strong cup of coffee.

But all the while I’d be making that same eye contact, that same kind of half grin, like if you’d look at me you’d think, this guy’s either trying to be really friendly, or a huge dick. And of course it’d be the huge dick look. Because as soon as you start making my job that much more difficult, with your strong coffee request, I’m automatically not at your service anymore. I mean, I’ll still do my job.

But I’ll be looking at you dead in the eye, and all I’m trying to say to you is, what exactly is it that you expect from the service industry? You’re just coming in here and automatically assuming that the strength of our coffee isn’t up to your standards, that you’d like me to go back to our one industrial sized coffee machine, empty the whole thing out, make a fresh pot with extra coffee, just so you can take a sip and probably still flag me down and complain that it’s not strong enough?

And then what, I’ll have to go back into the kitchen and listen to my boss start shouting at everybody, “Hey! Who made this last batch of coffee? Why did you use so much coffee? Everyone’s complaining. And look, there were too many coffee grounds, they all got in the machine. Come on guys, this stuff is portioned out individually for a reason!”

It’s funny because, they actually have a whole industry set up for people who are particular about their coffee. Yeah, you can just go to Starbucks or some other coffee shop and they’d probably know exactly what you’re talking about when you ask for your strong coffee.

It’s like people that come in and ask for a stiff cocktail. You know what? All of that stuff is portioned out also. You want free booze? Too bad, buy another drink. And that just gave me another idea, hey Mr. Strong Coffee, get a shot of espresso. Or even better, order a red-eye. Stop trying to get free strong out of me.

Give me a half-regular, half-decaf. All right, all decaf for you. I’d like a thick steak. You’re just getting a regular steak. Give me a nice sized baked potato. You’re getting whatever baked potato the line cook is closest to. I’ll have a sweet soda. What do you think I’m mixing the syrup back there?

OK, nobody ever asked for a sweet soda. But come on, just order like a regular person. People ask me for crazy stuff and I just want to be like, come on, stop asking me for crazy stuff. Stop asking me things in general. Just point to what you want on the menu and that’s it.

Movie Review: World War Z

The zombie apocalypse has finally arrived, for real this time. It’s not some rinky-dink comic book, or a cable TV show based on a rinky-dink comic book. This is a serious major motion picture. And it’s not based off of a comic book, ahem, graphic novel, no, it’s based off a real book, with real words. Go ahead and go to the bookstore, it should be right on display when you walk in, the booksellers are all like, “Please! Come inside please! Buy our books, any books! Buy anything! A cup of coffee! Something, please, we need to eat, we’re starving! Look, they just did a reprinting of World War Z, and Brad Pitt’s on the cover!”

Brad Pitt man bob World War Z

Because Brad Pitt is the costar of the movie. Rumor has it that Pitt was a little burned that he couldn’t secure the lead billing. The studio execs were like, “Listen, Brad, we want to give it to you, and normally we would. But we’ve got a huge new star taking center stage, a real up-and-comer.” And Brad Pitt was like, “Who is it? Who’s bigger than Brad Pitt?”

Brad Pitt’s haircut is the real star of the film. And once he and his new hairstyle were formally introduced, the rage kind of subsided somewhat as even Brad Pitt couldn’t help but look at the new do in the mirror and think to himself, damn, that is a ridiculously cool haircut.

It’s a groundbreaking new cut, perfect for breathing fresh life into the kind-of, about-to-be-played-out zombie movie genre. You’ve seen the trailers, right? I don’t know how to describe it other than that it’s like a man-bob, but masculine. It’s long, definitely longer than my hair, but professional. Each strand of hair, when combed or pulled back behind his ears, rests precisely at the top of his neck.

It’s great because, while I already told you that it’s professional, it’s also versatile. Perfect for that zombie apocalypse type of … well … what is it that Brad Pitt does in this movie? I never really got it, other than the fact that he works for the UN. They go about telling you what he isn’t. “I’m not a doctor. I’m not a soldier. I’m not a baker.”

And my missing his exact occupation wasn’t due to a lack of me paying attention. I thought I paid pretty good attention. Whatever it is that he does, he gets ferried around by the government from location to location, running around, trying not to make any noise, because that’s how these zombies know you’re coming, noise. But still, you know, he steps on some glass sometimes, and the zombies hear that, or he’ll kick a can of Mountain Dew down the hall, again, it’s an accident, but the zombies hear that also.

He keeps making so much noise I started to doubt that he was a … what should I call him? A specialist? Man, it’s going to drive me crazy, especially because at one point, right after he gets off the plane at a new location, some guy comes over to him and he’s like, “Who the hell are you?” and Brad Pitt’s like, “Do you know exactly what it is that I do?” And I thought to myself, here we go, things might start to make sense here, like maybe he’s an operative, or …

“I work for the UN.” Back to square one. But it’s all inconsequential. Because there’s this haircut. Oh my God, it’s like, if you have this haircut and, let’s say, you’re on a plane and the plane goes down, you’ll wake up and most of your hair is still going to be tucked neatly behind your ears. The man-bob makes it through! And I know that I keep spending a lot of time on shape, bounce, the way that, when he wills it to, Brad Pitt’s haircut can kind of fall playfully in front of his face, just a little, only obscuring say, one eye, the other eye looking back at you mischievously.

But there’s more. It’s like perfectly highlighted. Brown underneath, yeah, but sun kissed, just the right amounts of blond that, while still maintaining its professionalism, it screams out: what isn’t this haircut capable of? It’s the men’s haircut of the future. It’s perfect for at home or at the office. From casually running away from a hoard of zombies to frantically running away from an even bigger hoard of zombies. I don’t know why the director didn’t make the obvious choice to change the title to World War H.

As if to highlight the magnificence of Brad Pitt’s new haircut, they give him this woman soldier sidekick, and her head is completely shaved. What a role reversal! Hey lady, hope you’re not too attached to your hair, because if you want to act along Brad Pitt and Brad Pitt’s new haircut, you’re going to have to buzz your head entirely.

I feel like I’m not saying enough about the haircut, but I haven’t said much about the movie. It’s an OK movie. The scenes where it’s classic zombie stuff, like running, or trying to get through a building, stuff like that, those scenes totally work. It’s just the right amount of suspense and shit-in-your-pants zombies popping out of the closet.

But in terms of plot? Eh. I don’t know. Again, I didn’t not like it. It’s just, you know, what do you think happens in a global zombie movie? Yeah, that’s about it. The ending is kind of lame. But endings are always the toughest part of a movie, and I’m trying not to let my entire judgment of a film be based solely on how well everything wrapped up. Because I’ve found that most movies are constitutionally incapable of having a decent wrap up.

Kind of like this review. I spent so much time talking about the haircut, and then I made that awkward, forced transition to review, and now I’m trying equally as hard to abruptly end it without really making it too obvious that I don’t know what I’m doing. So, uh, yeah. It’s not bad. The movie, that is. The haircut is fantastic.