1. I’ve been thinking of ideas for a new writing series, having recently finished another mega-review piece, this time with helpers easing the load a bit. Even with assistance from Wilson and Goat, though, that “Great Out of the Gate” project took a lot of time and energy, which is good, but hard to duplicate on a regular basis. So I’m pondering the idea of a series called “Five by Five Books,” which will provide the structure I like, but force it into manageable pieces that don’t lend themselves to the 25,000-word essays that I’m prone to create if not regulated. Here’s the concept: I will write about books I love on some periodic basis, and will cover five facets about my experience with each book, with each facet being covered in five sentences. The framing facets for each book would be:

  • What it’s about.
  • Who wrote it.
  • When and where I read it.
  • Why I like it.
  • A five sentence sample text.

That appeals to my sense of tidiness and structure. Does it have any appeal to any of you as readers, or am I better off sticking to what you know me for (long-form music stuff) than trying a new trick as a old blog dog?

2. I take convenience stores seriously, as evidenced by bullet number two in this post about things I expected to miss when I left Albany. So it’s with no small sense of import that I am now prepared to report, after two and half years in Iowa, that I have declared Casey’s as the best convenience store chain our region, giving it my official Indie Moines Seal of Approval, with various huttahs and wavings of hands. The chain’s distinctive red-roofed stores have become my desired stops whenever I drive around the state, which is often, and I will often go from town to town to town while on the road to get to the one with a Casey’s on the main drag. I’m also happy to have one about four blocks from my house, for those quick convenience emergencies, like “Oh wow, we don’t have any wine,” or “Gosh, some Twizzlers would be good right now, wouldn’t they?” While Casey’s doesn’t have the awesome ice cream selections that my much-missed Stewart’s offered in Upstate New York, they generally offer surprisingly good pizza, great donuts, good coffee, generous sandwiches, reasonably priced gas (especially if you buy the Iowa-subsidized Ethanol-fortified strain), and sizable beer and wine selections, sometime with large walk-in coolers, even. Plus, I appreciate the fact that there are no embarrassing misspellings in the name of their stores, unlike all the other convenience destinations out here, e.g. Kum n’ Go, QuikTrip, Git n’ Go and their ilk. Literacy matters to me, even when I’m just running out to get some beer and beef jerky, you know? Think of the children.

7 thoughts on “Farrago

  1. Was in Dubuque for a couple days in December. One thing I found puzzling is the three convenience stores we tried all had powdered creamer for coffee rather than half-and-half, cream, or milk. Are there only powdered cows in Iowa? We have meetings in Dubuque coming up in June, and I may try smuggling Stewart’s half-and-half in my carry-on luggage.


    • Huh!! I drink coffee black, so I have not noticed that . . . . but I know that Marcia only drinks half and half in her coffee, and I am pretty sure she can get that at the convenience stores hereabouts, so powder may be an eastern Iowa thing. We just got our second Dunkin’ Donuts in Des Moines a month or so ago, so that’s exciting news on the caffeine, fat and sugar fronts . . .


      • I noticed the same thing when I moved here. Even the upscale, $3-per-cup places did not provide half-n-half. Casey’s Stores usually have a creamer station with regular half-n-half and flavored cream.


  2. About # 2, interesting idea, sounds worthy to me. I am not very interested in music posts (silence is my music), but books? Yes.
    About #3, Stewarts is announcing their 5 new ice cream flavors this week, one per day. (Last year one was blueberry greek yogurt, called blueberry patch – definitely a winner). So far they are Brownie Points & Salty Caramel Mochaccino. A couple of months ago they started adding to their premium chocolate bars (a new thing since you moved, I think). The new bars are milk chocolate & maple and tonight they had samples of dark chocolate & mint cookie. OMG. Glad to hear you have found an acceptable substitute convenient!


    • Mmmmmmmmmm . . . . . swirly chunks of salt and chocolate and fat . . . . . mmmmmmmmm . . . I will be back in the ALB in a couple of weeks for a board meeting, so will have to make a stop at a Stewarts for some ice cream and one of their awesome rubbery hot dogs!


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