Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mom's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there.  My wonderful wife, Teresa, passed from this life less than a month before her first official Mother's Day, so everyday spent with our daughter, Melody, was Mother's Day.  Teresa was a great mom.

Melody was so fortunate to have my own mother, as well as Teresa's mother, as moms, so we celebrate them because they were so wonderful and supportive.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  Happy Mother's Day, Mom2!  Happy Mother's Day, T2!

Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, May 11, 2018


I consider myself a pizza connoisseur.  Though it is not the best thing for me to eat, I can’t help trying an old favorite or a brand new, never-tried-before pizza parlor.  So many of my favorites over the years have disappeared off the map, many of them childhood favorites that helped develop my pizza palette, and I miss them terribly.  I’m sure they weren’t necessarily good, at least not all of them. 

Places like Shakey’s were pretty awesome, though it likely wasn’t the pizza, but the ambience that I remember so well.  In the mid- to late-70s, my grandfather, Kenny Fulcher, displayed his powerful trumpet playing chops with a Dixieland Jazz band called Southern Comfort every Friday night at the Rockville, MD, Shakey’s restaurant, on the Pike.  The place always seemed packed with patrons, and the pizza wasn’t bad.  It closed back in the 80s, eventually replaced by a Hooter’s.  Where Shakey’s was certainly children-friendly, Hooter’s is not.

I’ve mentioned this place once before on this blog, but another favorite pizza restaurant was the Dino Restaurant, in Suitland, MD.  It’s also long gone, but not forgotten.  Eating at Dino’s was a lot like eating in someone’s Italian dining room.  It seemed very formal to my child eyes, but we loved going here for special occasions, or on a Friday night when we had a craving for it.  It was very similar to Ledo’s recipe, with a somewhat thin, rectangular crust, slightly sweet sauce, and nicely portioned layer of cheese.  I remember going more than a few times with my grandparents, and once tried anchovies, which my grandfather would order separately and add on to his slices of pizza.  The Dino is missed.

I generally stay away from the chains (though I know Shakey’s was a chain, and Ledo’s, my current favorite, is, too), but I’m going to mention Pizza Hut.  I haven’t liked their pizza for many years, but when I was a kid, we went to Pizza Hut often, and it was pretty good.  The crust was always thicker than anything else we tried, and the cheese was laid on pretty thick, too.  I guess it was the pan pizza that really attracted us, though, and we loved every greasy slice.  While my family always seemed to go to the Clinton, MD, store, it was the Upper Marlboro Pizza Hut, near Osborne Road on 301, that became “ours.”  I went to Frederick Douglass High School, and the school’s band adopted it as our hangout.  After every football game or concert, we would gather there for a celebratory pizza.

Speaking of Clinton, another really good pizza place was Margellina’s.  I didn’t “discover” them until I was in my 20s, but it became a favorite of mine, and I loved dragging friends there to eat.  My parents loved it, too.  Many times, I’d order a couple of pies and take them home.  They were really good, slightly thick, and packed with toppings.  They were unique enough to want to come back often.

A shopping center near my childhood home in Upper Marlboro opened a Pizza Oven restaurant in the early 80s.  While the pizza was nothing special, it really grew on me and the thick tomato sauce and thin crust satisfied my pizza cravings often.  They were a fairly decent local chain for a while, but now there’s only one left in the DC area that I can find, near Riverdale, MD, just off of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.  Ironically, it’s in the exact same shop that my parents used to get their pizza fixes when I was a baby and we lived in Riverdale, called the Pizza Wheel.

In my mid 20s, I moved in with my cousin, Dan, in Montgomery Village, MD.  MV seemed far from where I grew up, and I had to find all new pizza places and learn what was good.  Dan was a pizza guy, too, though, and he knew where to get the good stuff.  He and I began ordering a large pizza from Armand’s Chicago Pizzeria almost every Friday.  They delivered, which was perfect, and he and I could put away a large pizza easily.  Armand’s pizza was thick, Chicago-style, and had a slightly bitter, thick tomato sauce.  And we loved it.  Our regular order was pepperoni, mushrooms, and extra cheese.  There are still a couple of Armand’s in the area, though they seem to come and go.  There was one in Bowie, near my parent’s place, but it only lasted a few years.  I don’t know if the MV store is still there, but there is one in Silver Spring, not too far from my office, and I surprise my management team with a pizza lunch every once in a while.

I’m still searching for good pizza places in Howard County, where I live, but I haven’t been very successful.  My current favorite is Trattoria E Pizzeria***, on Guilford Road at the King’s Contrivance Village Center.  It’s a New York-style pizza that retains its Italian heritage.  I wish they delivered, but I don’t mind going to pick up a pie when I get a craving for it.

Other pizza joints in Howard County that I’ve tried, both chains and standalones, include (with my subjective ratings):  Bertucci’s*** (Columbia), Coal Fire** (Ellicott City), Facci** (Fulton), HomeSlyce*** (Columbia), Ledo’s*** (Columbia and Fulton), Lucero’s*** (Fulton), New York J & P** (Fulton), Pasta Blitz*** (EC), Squisito** (Burtonville – technically Montgomery Co), Pub Dog*** (Columbia), Waterloo** (Columbia), Waterloo** (Elkridge), Vennari’s** (Columbia), Bella Mia** (EC), Gateway Pizza*** (Elkridge), Upper Crust** (Columbia), Pazani*** (Elkridge), Luna Bella** (Columbia), Roma’s** (Columbia), Pizza Presto* (Laurel), Pizza Primetime* (Laurel), Royal Pizza*** (Columbia), MOD*** (Columbia), Pie Five* (Columbia), Papa John’s* (Laurel), Domino’s* (Laurel), Pizza Hut* (Laurel), Jerry’s** (Fulton), Grotto’s** (Columbia), Wegman’s*** (Columbia), Weis** (Laurel), and Three Brother’s*** (Laurel/PG County – Columbia location is closed!).  

Some are pretty good, many are not so great, though I’ll say I did really like Three Brother’s and was saddened that the Columbia location closed.  The Ledo’s chain is the closest to great, but they’re still not at the level of the Original Ledo Restaurant**** (College Park) and TJ Elliot’s**** (Bowie – they use the original recipe).

So my search for great pizza continues.  If you have recommendations, please pass them along.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Short Takes

Today is Free Comic Book Day, the annual celebration of all things related to comic books on the first Saturday in May, featuring a variety of books offered for FREE by publishers working with comic shop owners to provide access to the world of comic books.  My daughter and I have participated in Free Comic Book Day for much of the last decade, and will be visiting our favorite shop, Big Planet Comics in College Park, MD.


My Dear Daughter Melody began her Summer concert tour by seeing Lord Huron perform at the relatively new venue at the DC Waterfront, The Anthem, last night.  While Lord Huron likely won't overtake twenty one pilots as #1 in Melody's heart, they are a current favorite, and the first of another series of live concert performances we plan to attend this season.  On tap is Imagine Dragons and Yes, with more to come.  We love the music of our favorite bands, and seeing them live is a great opportunity to celebrate that love.


Melody and I saw AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR last weekend.  If you're a fan of the genre, and/or you've seen the previous Marvel movies, you owe it to yourself to check out this movie.  It is really good, though it ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and you'll have to wait a year to see the rest of the story.  But we were mesmerized.  We loved seeing the various team-ups of the characters, and while a cast as large as this one makes it difficult to go too deeply into anything but surface characterizations, everyone gets at least a few minutes in the spotlight.  We do lose a few favorite superheroes, as you may have heard.  SPOILER WARNING:  I don't believe that any of the character deaths are permanent, however there are a couple that are integral to the story, and we may not see their returns.  That's as far as I'll go.  END OF SPOILER WARNING.


Medical updates:

Mom is at home, resting and feeling better.  She started physical therapy a few days ago, and that will continue for the next several weeks.  She's on the road to recovery.

Mom-in-law is at a rehab center for the next six weeks, going through physical therapy while keeping her "knee-less" leg from taking any weight.  After the six weeks, she will have surgery to place a new knee into her leg, and then she will have six more weeks of rehab.  She's doing okay.

Daughter Melody is still dealing with Spring allergies, resulting in stuffy nose and sore throat, but she's feeling better.

My sister is preparing for toe surgery on Tuesday morning.  She'll be off her feet for at least a week.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Prayer Requests

It has been a rough week, with my mother's surgery on Friday to fuse a vertebrae after her fall down the stairs last week, and my mother-in-laws surgery, also on Friday, to remove her knee for a knee replacement.  Daughter Melody and I found ourselves making multiple visits to two different hospitals over the weekend.

The good news is that Mom came home on Monday, though she has a long recovery ahead of her.  She was finally able to walk, with assistance, on Sunday, which led to her release from the hospital, but she and my dad have had a rough week awaiting word on a rehabilitation facility.  God is so good, and we're so thankful that things are looking up, overall.

My mother-in-law was released from the hospital yesterday.  She had a bad infection in her knee, and the replacement knee she received five years ago had to be removed.  She went to a rehab center where she'll stay for the next six weeks, at which point she'll have another surgery to install a new knee.

With the Spring weather comes pollen and allergies, and Melody always seems to have a bad reaction.  She has been miserable for the past several days, and I elected to keep her home from school for the past two days.  I feel so badly for her, especially with the warm weather.  She's had to be indoors while she recovers.  It has also kept us from visiting the grandmothers this week.

Finally, I'm having two more big, bad moles removed from my back tomorrow.  My dermatologist apologized to me in advance, telling me that I'll have some pretty nasty scars, but I don't really care.  I'd rather have them out.  I'll never see them, and it's not like anyone else will see them, except doctors, most likely.  Anyway, I'm going to be confined to the couch for the next several days.  Nothing like a little forced rest to take some of the stress away.

I feel like all I'm doing is asking for good thoughts and prayers for healing, not just me, but for Mom, Mom-in-law, and Melody, too.  As I said at the top, it has been a rough week.

Have a great evening, everyone.