One full order of cheese fries

Regular readers of The Cheese Fry, all nine of you, will notice our shiny new header image.

The photo* is indeed of a plate of hot cheese fries, served up last January at Snuffer's in McKinney, Texas. These are the cheese fries from which this blog got its name. If you're the sort to keep a list of things to do before you die, add towards the top "have a plate of Snuffer's cheese fries." That's no joke.

Back in the day, you'd get your order of cheese fries (inexplicably called by the more haughty name "cheddar fries" on the menu) in a basket lined with crumbled tin foil. Welcome to the 21st century, where cheese (sorry, "cheddar") fries arrive on a porcelain dish.

* Not pictured: the side of chives, bacon, and jalapenos.


"EA Sports... It's in the game."

In light of John Madden's retirement this week from NFL announcing, which probably came 4 or 5 years too late, Sports Illustrated posted the covers of all 20 editions of EA Sports' "Madden NFL Football" video game.

The influence of that game on 20- and 30-something men cannot be understated. It's a cultural touchstone. A shared experience. Most guys you meet today, if asked, will have played Madden sometime in the last 12 months. It's just the way it is. Its appeal is universal and undeniable, made better of course with beer, soft drinks, and/or greasy burgers and/or pizza.

There's the competition and camraderie, sure, running your favorite team against your friend's favorite team. Those two teams are probably awful in the real world, but there you are, throwing for 400 yards or organizing a 85-Bears-like defensive shutout. You prefer the sweep left, but don't mind an occasional bootleg right. You could be a coach. Hell, you could be a player. Look how you pushed that X button and hit that hole. That was a busted play, bro, but you turned it into a first down. Glorious.

But it's not all lollipops and roses. You're human. You push the circle when you meant to push the triangle. You call a time-out when you meant to just pause the game. Adding to the anguish of making a mistake is having to suffer the indignity of Pat Summerall stating the obvious and mocking your miserable play. Like you didn't know that was a bad throw. Or that time is running out. Thanks, Pat. And he makes his comment with the same obvious and mocking phrase - embedded deep in your PS2's electronic brain - you've heard a million times before. That's when you make a cruel comment about Pat's alcoholism. Or his advanced age.

Aside from all of that, though, the even more meaningful contribution of Madden is football education. The Cheese Fry probably learned more about the Xs and Os of football from calling Madden plays than from watching actual games. It's one thing to hear about the value of the running game or the need for savvy clock management. It's quite another to experience it first-hand and learn hard lessons.

Madden makes us better fans. And it makes us better people.

Thanks, John Madden, for giving us "Madden."

Do you know what stands in the shadow of the statue?

Variety's Michael Schneider offers some great ideas on how ABC can milk "Lost" between the end of this season and the start of next season, its last.

Mr. Drummond is a kidnapper

Via Newsweek's Pop Vox comes this ingenious YouTube clip that illustrates the power of music in film and television. Change the opening theme music and "Diff'rent Strokes" suddenly becomes a creepy exploitation thriller in which no good will surely come to the poor Jackson brothers.


Sitcom sets in Lego

This strange collection of 1970s-80s Lego sitcom set replicas is one pop culture obsession that we at the Cheese Fry can truly admire. It's the sort of oddball OCD thing we would have done. (If you ever want to see an extensive collection of handmade Star Trek props rendered in balsa wood and Testor model paint, let us know.)


The 1-800-Dentist lady

It could be another of those love/hate things or some people, but the Cheese Fry is strangely intrigued by the oddball chatterbox woman in the recent batch of 1-800-Dentist spots that take place on the world's biggest office elevator. You know the ones.

If you share our interest, you may want to know that the 1-800-Dentist people have actually created a whole YouTube channel that features this campaign. (It also features a lot of corporate office party type videos that don't seem designed for public consumption.)

Our investigative team have discovered that the actress in the spots is improv comedian Suzi Barrett. You'll find five long "outtakes" on the YouTube channel, which allows Suzi to riff in all kinds of tangents and play up the sexual tension between her and Fred the 1-800-Dentist guy.


Cassette tape rewind: College graduation

April 1994 was a good time for the Cheese Fry as its four-year college journey slowly wound down. Back then, the most pressing decision to be made was whether or not to skip a lame Film Criticism class (Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Here's the top ten songs from the week of April 16, 1994.

1. R. Kelly "Bump N Grind" - Really? This was a number one song? Are you as surprised as us?

2. Ace of Base "The Sign" - A fairly annoying song in its day, in constant rotation on the radio, but the years have been quite kind. Nostalgia has given it a glossy sheen. We turn it up when it comes on now.

3. Mariah Carey "Without You" - Mariah Carey's songs all sound the same, don't they?

4. Crash Test Dummies "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" - This is the one A+ keeper on this list, a deeply weird, deeply catchy song involving families who have seizures at church and kids who go directly home right after school. A karaoke staple for us. And a textbook definition of "one-hit wonder."

5. Celine Dion "Power of Love" - Whatever.

6. All-4-One "So Much in Love" - No idea.

7. Salt N Pepa "Whatta Man" - This one may not have aged well, but it's one of those hooky rap-meets-R&B songs before such a thing became so ubiquitous. (Plus Fox Sports used it to showcase Dallas Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith in a huge game against the Giants.) The quintessential Salt N Pepa song, of course, remains "Push It."

8. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" - We can take it or leave it. It's good, sure, but we won't be sad if we never heard it again.

9. Richard Marx "Now and Forever" - Marx was huge back in the Cheese Fry's high school days, so this must be the song that Marx figured would signal some kind of 1990s comeback. No idea what it sounds like.

10. Bruce Springsteen "Streets of Philadelphia" - Lots of people find Springsteen to be a modern-day poet, a genius of music and lyrics. The Cheese Fry is not one of those people.