Friday, July 28, 2017

Movie Review - Spiderman: Homecoming

Spiderman: Homecoming is a largely successful attempt to return to the fun-loving roots of the character.

  I went to see Spiderman: Homecoming last week at the local movie theatre on Saturday night along with Kathy, Ben, and 9 other movie goers. This is the second reboot of the character following the acclaimed 2002-2007 trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and the less than successful 2012-2014 reboot starring Andrew Garfield. The Maguire films were revolutionary for the time with iconic characters like The Green Goblin, Sandman, Venom, and Doctor Octopus brought to life battling with Spiderman across Manhattan and to my recollection was the first movies to make super hero battles look like they were really taking place in New York city with our heroes (and the bewildered onlookers) having to dodge bricks and edifices falling from the tall buildings surrounding them. This decade’s reboot was still financially successful but seemed too dark and out of tune with the generally light-hearted tone of the comic Spiderman I remember. In the comics it took years to lead to the death of Captain Stacy and then another couple of years for the demise of his daughter Gwen Stacy but the reboot led off with these two darkest moments of the comic series. The lack of overwhelming success led Sony (who own the license for Spiderman and related characters from Marvel) to delay their plans to create a ‘Spiderman Cinematic Universe’ and re-license the Spiderman character back to Marvel. Spiderman made his Marvel Studios debut in last years ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and was well received with teenage Peter Parker (aka Spiderman) mentored and given a spider suit by none other than Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) who proceeds to put the moves on the rebooted franchise’s younger attractive Aunt May. The Spiderman character looked great in Civil War and whetted my appetite for his return to the screen this year.

  I was pleased to see this reboot skip right past the origin and Uncle Ben getting killed. Instead we get to see the origins of the villain of the piece, Adrian Toomes (aka The Vulture), who is a general contractor that made a winning bid on cleaning up the wreckage of the Avengers HQ from the first Avengers movie when he is put out of business by the government and Tony Stark’s decision to clean up the wreckage using their own personnel for security reasons. These reasons prove to be well founded when Toomes and his exceptionally technologically proficient cleanup crew fashion devastating weaponry out of the alien technology they found on the job site. The weaponry includes Toomes’ Vulture suit, the Shocker’s powerful glove, and enough tools to allow the crew to steal more alien technology from the official cleanup crew.

  The movie centers itself around Peter Parker as a high school sophomore and his balancing act between his school life at the talented and gifted school he attends and his secret identity of Spiderman. Parker’s internship with Tony Stark allows him the freedom to stay out late fighting crime without undue scrutiny from his aunt or classmates. And it’s a good thing too because the movie spends a large amount of time in Peter Parker’s high school training for the academic decathlon challenge, or in detention, or preparing for the Homecoming dance. One good thing about the emphasis on the school is that Parker has a buddy (Ned) who learns his identity and even hacks into his Tony Stark designed spider suit to allow access to the suits advanced features which include a personal assistant named Karen. Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spiderman seems more suited to playing a light-hearted character and needed a foil to bounce lines off. It was a welcome change from the brooding Spiderman with the weight of the world perpetually on his shoulders although those aspects of the character do make their way into the movie occasionally.

  The school stuff is pretty boring but the action more than makes up for it. Michael Keaton is a great Vulture, menacing and brilliant and tough while being a devoted family man and a perfect Spiderman anti-villain and there is a great plot twist written for him. His crew is mostly a bunch of dimwitted goons but their enhanced weaponry make them at least able to compete with Spiderman. The Vulture’s crew seem best at making high powered laser beams so there are plenty of buildings, cars, planes, and boats being sliced and diced for Spiderman to contend with. My favorite action sequence was Spidey being scared of heights while climbing the Washington Monument and his inability to break the thick window to get inside. The task is eventually accomplished but the limits of Spiderman’s powers make him more of a likable superhero that has to use his wits to get by.

  There are a few plot holes like the absence of any media speculation as to why Spiderman was in Washington in the first place without anyone trying to figure out his secret identity. Too much of the action was set at night where the action was hard to follow. I think Spiderman is better off in the daylight looking like an insect set against the skyscrapers of New York. There were guest appearances by Captain America in high school motivational videos that served as welcome comic relief with the Tony Stark/Happy Hogan/Iron Man interactions serving more as plot devices to keep the story moving along. The high school dramatics were a little much for someone like me that is almost 40 years out of high school but maybe younger people have a more favorable view. I liked the new take on Parker’s high school friends with the exception of Flash Thompson changing from a jock/bully into a spoiled rich kid with a fancy car who teases Parker instead of physically threatening him.

  I think Spiderman: Homecoming was a small cut below the Maguire series in terms of quality and storytelling but it would fit in and if this was the first ever Spiderman movie I think it would have been a huge hit. I found it superior to the Garfield pair of movies. It was light hearted, well-made, showed Spiderman/Peter Parker in an understandable light without going overboard on the teen angst, and the Vulture was an awesome villain that I hope will return someday. I don’t think it is a must see theatre movie for non-comicphiles but I think this movie was looking at a larger audience.

  Despite starring what is THE iconic character of the Marvel Comics universe, this film has grossed a fairly disappointing $250 million in its first three weeks which is in line with the last reboot despite having the guest appearance in ‘Captain America : Civil War’ as a lead in. I see a number of factors for the less than overwhelming box office numbers. This is the first Marvel character to have its THIRD reboot. Batman can be successfully rebooted since he (and the Joker) can be played by a-list actors that will attract moviegoers who want to see their favorite actor’s interpretation of the iconic characters to offset the lack of excitement at yet another retelling of the Batman origin, etc… As a teenager, Spiderman will almost always be played by an actor without that kind of following which leaves nothing to offset the inevitable character fatigue. The X-Men franchise suffered slippage at the box office with its reboot and we have yet to see Marvel Studios replace Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc… which they will surely have to do over the next half dozen years as the actors age beyond the point of believably.

  This reboot places Spiderman at a much younger age with the Daily Bugle, Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, Curt Connors, etc... still to come. I think this movie was more of an investment in the future than a cashing in of the present value of the character. By going so young I think Marvel is hoping to attract a younger audience that can grow along with the character as apposed to yet another Marvel superhero movie. This was a large part of the initial attraction of Spiderman in his debut over 50 years ago. Peter Parker was the same age as the DC sidekick heroes like Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Wonder Girl but was a full-fledged hero with real world problems instead of a second banana to the real hero with a secret identity of a well-heeled ward to a rich superhero. In this sense Spiderman has truly had a homecoming and perhaps a realistic chance at reclaiming his place at the head of the Marvel Universe.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Five People I Don't Want to Meet in Heaven - Part 2

  In continuing my series on the five people I don’t want to meet in heaven I want to stress that I don’t think any of the people I’m going to profile don’t deserve to be in heaven or won’t be in heaven – I just don’t want to meet them if we both happen to end up in heaven. My last profile was about the dumpster diver that called me heartless when I didn’t even let him ask me for a handout. Here is a sample of another group of people I meet enough to know I don’t want them to meet them in heaven either.

  I’m five months into my new occupation as a self-employed contractor hiring myself out as a programmer. At present I’m working at a company in Ames and am supposed to be there to the end of the year. I say ‘supposed to’ because all it takes for any job to disappear is one person with the authority to draw a line through your name. Then you aren’t there anymore. In the last ten years I’ve had the company I worked for sold and my job change from writing software to documenting the software I wrote so the new programmers in Indianapolis could rewrite it, played Survivor with the company I was working for laying people off and cutting the pay of those not being laid off, and had my company eliminate my entire department this year. I’ve come to realize that there is no such thing as job security – only the illusion of job security. I wish I could tell my younger self to never take less money for job security because you are only paying for the illusion of job security. The idea of job security is something I believed that isn’t true and like most things you believe that aren’t true this disbelief comes with a heavy price tag.

To Tell The Truth (NOT)

  I am enjoying my time at the company in Ames. I am treated like a valued member of the team, I get along with everyone, and most importantly my invoices get processed right away which to me is a sign of competence and respect which I value very highly. Since I was working at this same company through my old job the only thing that changed in my work situation was that I didn’t have to be the backup for the program I had worked on from 2010 to 2015 that interfaces with a government entity. That lasted until April when the government entity’s program had a series of major malfunctions which brought the interface program to a halt. The person in charge of the program couldn’t get it working and I was offered a part-time contracting assignment to get it running again.

  I got the program running and within a few days the government entity had solved their meltdown. The person in charge of the program was still having problems getting it to run smoothly. Two weeks later I was asked if I would be available in the early mornings to monitoring the program in order to head off any small problems before they became big problems. At the ripe old age of 56 I’m a little old for having two jobs but I agreed because my current assignment is only ‘guaranteed’ (don’t forget what I said about the illusion of security) until the end of the year and the extra money would come in handy when my current assignment ends. Also this particular piece of software is something I put a lot of time and effort into and it won a prestigious software award a few years back. Not only do have a sentimental attachment it makes me feel good to know a program I spent so much time on is still running like a top which it does until the government agency it interfaces to has one of its all too frequent problems. When a problem arises I adjust what I can on my end and let the agency and my clients know what went wrong and what needs to be done on the government side.

  Monitoring the software was easy enough until the beginning of June when the government agency started having problems with their nightly data refresh that makes the available information that is needed to balance accounts and make data available for the program's end users. The refresh finished by 4:30 am for years most of the time but now was finig=hing between 5:30 am and 7:00 am every morning. This was causing delays in my program getting the government data to the end users. I wrote to the government’s support email every day the data was late but got no results except to thank me for my patience until June 28th when I received an email saying that “We have escalated the issue and it has become our lead developer's highest priority.”

  That sounded good to me but after two more weeks of no results and late data I wrote to the government support email and mentioned that this situation had now been going on for 41 days. I received an email from the author of the June 28th email which said “Because of limited resources, it is unlikely that this issue will be addressed prior to a potential fall release.”

  So much for having the issue escalated and becoming the lead developer’s highest priority! I wrote back asking what had happened in the intervening two weeks and was given this reply “Unfortunately, the development team is now down to 1/4 its size from last year. I apologize for overcommitting in my June 28th message.”

  Now at this point I didn’t see any reason in having a correspondence with this government entity. I don’t know what overcommitting means since either it was or was not the lead developer’s highest priority. If it wasn’t then I wasn’t being overcommitted to – I was being lied to. It is clear that this was just something said to me in the hopes that I would stop asking about the issue which I did for two weeks. If the development team had been cut to a quarter of its size in the past two weeks I could understand the shift in priorities but a development team having been cut over a year shouldn’t be a reason to tell me the delays had become the highest priority of the lead developer.

  I understand why people don’t tell the truth sometimes. I was working on a program change for a company and when it was done I sent an email out to all the interested parties detailing what the changes were. Ten days later (the day before the changes were to go live) I got an email from the president of the company saying my changes weren’t what they wanted. I sent an email back referring to my prior email mentioning there was ample time to let me know that my changes weren’t what they wanted. Then I got an email from the project manager saying they didn’t get my earlier email BUT I had an email from this same project manager thanking me for the update so I know they got the original email. This was a lie but I can understand someone dropping the ball and not wanting to admit it. I don’t agree with it but I understand it. A few years ago I wrote about this person from the chess world whose advice was to "never tell anyone the truth" and showed an example of how he lied to me in an email the very next week. I didn't agree with this liar either but I understand why someone whose stated philosophy is to never tell the truth would lie all the time. One thing I don't understand is why telling the truth is so often the last resort instead of the first option.

  I don’t understand why I wasn’t just told that there was no hope of having this issue resolved weeks ago. I could have changed my interface to run later or let the end users know the delays are now a part of their daily process or adopted any other number of strategies or just done nothing. Maybe the government support person I talked to was instructed to tell me something that wasn’t true or maybe they thought it up on their own. In either case I don’t see how I can believe anything that comes from this particular support group. I could look on the bright side and be glad this group isn’t in charge of kidney transplants (“Your kidney is on its way! It’s our driver’s highest priority!”) but I’ll settle for hoping I don’t meet any of these lying types if we both make it to heaven.

If Benny from the 1990 film classic 'Total Recall' ever needs to find a job to feed his '5 kids' I know a certain goverment agency where he would fit right in although he might need to clean up the language a bit...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Congratulations Are In Order, I Suppose

  I have no doubt that NBA basketball is taking over as America’s number one sport. The 2016-2017 season ended over a month ago yet the NBA has been front and center of the sports pages ever since with pre-draft trades, the actual draft, and the free agency period. Twenty years ago baseball and the upcoming football season would have been at the front of the sports sections and talk radio – now it is the NBA off season. Most of the experts I listen to and read expected very few teams to pick up high salaried players because there is seemingly no possibility of competing with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers teams that have won their conferences the past three years.

  It didn’t quite work out that way since good teams are not easily dissuaded from trying to take the step to greatness and as good as the Warriors and Cavaliers have been they are always just one major injury from falling back to the pack. The Houston Rockets have not had a losing season since 2006 and have won 50 games in three of the past five years since acquiring all-star James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, making it to the conference finals in 2015. After a promising regular season ended in a disappointing second round playoff loss to the Spurs, Rocket General Manager Daryl Morey managed to get Los Angeles Clipper All-Star Chris Paul to come to Houston as a free agent. Normally the team that currently employs a player can offer them the most money in free agency but Paul won’t have to sacrifice any money because the Clippers arranged a sign-and–trade deal with the Rockets in which the Clippers signed Paul to the contract he had agreed to with Houston and then traded him to the Rockets for starting guard Patrick Beverly, former sixth man of the year Lou Williams, and a pair of rotation players (Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell).

  This looks like a great fit. Morey is known for his pioneering use of basketball analytics and the Rockets were one of the first teams embrace the philosophy of taking either three points shots or close range shots like lobs and layups that would either lead to a high percentage of baskets or foul shots. Paul just had his career high in three point attempts and percentage. He also gives the Rockets a second all-star which will allow Morey to try to convince another top 20 player to head to Houston for a realistic chance to compete for a title.

  I don’t like this deal for Houston. In getting Paul, they sacrificed a lot of depth (even if the trade to Clippers wasn’t made, signing Paul would have led to the release of most of the same players to create salary cap space). Paul is 32 years old which seems pretty old to me (Harden is 27) and his performance and durability could tail off drastically at any time. And if Paul’s effectiveness doesn’t drop off he will be eligible for a max extension at the end of next season. The Rockets just gave Harden a $228 million dollar extension and if Paul gets something even close that will be their team for the foreseeable future. Another thing I don’t like about this deal is that both Paul and Harden seem to have the ball in their hands a lot on offense so either or both players will have to change their game to accommodate the other superstar which could make either or both players far less effective.

  I can’t see the Rockets being able to beat the Spurs or Warriors even with Paul. The only way I see this deal working for the Rockets is if Morey is able to obtain another superstar and make a title run. I can’t rule it out and it seems LeBron James is looking to leave Cleveland next year. If he does Houston may be a promising destination for him. I look at the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul as a home run swing that has a small chance of paying off.

  The Boston Celtics were another big player in free agency. The Celtics had the best record in the eastern conference this year and made the conference finals but were blown out by the Cavaliers in 5 games, two of which were 30+ point losses. The Celtics had the top pick in the draft by virtue of their trade with the Nets in 2014 which gave them the Nets #1 pick by swap or outright for five years. The Celtics traded the top pick to the 76ers for a future #1 pick and the #3 pick which they used to select small forward Jayson Tatum of Duke. Then the Celtics were able to sign free agent Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz to a $128 million dollar 4 year deal. In order to sign Hayward, the Celtics had to renounce the rights to center Kelly Olynk and trade guard Avery Bradley to the Pistons for power forward Marcus Morris for a salary cap savings of three million dollars.

  I like the Celtics getting Hayward more than the Rockets signing of Paul but not much more. Hayward is young at 27 and has been in the league six years. He made his first All-Star team this past season leaving open the question of whether his all-star status is proof of his hitting a new level or a fluke. While Paul’s best years are not ahead of him it is possible that Hayward is ready to ascend to a new level.

  Even if Hayward is an all-star and the Celtics other all-star Isiah Thomas successfully recovers from the hip injury he suffered in the playoffs last year I can’t see this team challenging the Cavaliers for the eastern conference championship. I’m not even sure if Hayward is better than Avery Bradley who was dumped in order free up the salary cap space to pay Hayward.

  Is this move going to lead the Celtics to a championship of a Finals appearance? I don’t think so but James decides to leave the Cavaliers after next season this is probably the best team in the East by a small margin over the Wizards and Raptors. The Warriors are on another level but if they should get upset it is not impossible to see this group of Celtics become champions.

  While no teams vaulted themselves into championship contention in my eyes during free agency the Thunder and Timberwolves have improved themselves the most. The Thunder picked up perennial all-star Paul George from the Indiana Pacers for an overpaid Victor Oladipo and 2016 first round pick Domantas Sabonis. It was a steal except for the small detail of George becoming a free agent next season and already telling the Pacers that he wants to play for the Lakers. Even so, this is a great gamble by the Thunder. George is an immediate upgrade and shows MVP Russell Westbrook a season before he can opt out of his contract that the team is willing to take risks to add talent. The Thunder aren’t championship contenders because of this move but are markedly better and if all the pieces fit just right could beat anyone in the playoffs.

  The other big move I like is the Timberwolves acquisition of Jimmy Butler from the Bulls for 2016 first round pick Kris Dunn, slam dunk champion Zach Lavine (coming off a knee injury), and a swap of the 7th and 16th picks in the NBA draft. Butler is under contract for two more years at $20 million and while not the high flyer that Lavine is has proved to be a durable hard-working player. Butler will either infuse the Wolves young stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins with his work ethic and defensive intensity or be ostracized and tuned out by the young talented core. I expect the Wolves to return to the playoffs for the first time since they traded Kevin Garnett.

  It seems like the entire NBA press is congratulating the Rockets, Celtics, Thunder, and Timberwolves for signing or trading for their All-Star player. I'll hold off on my congratulations until I see how these new acquisitions mesh with their teams. For now, all that has been won is the right to pay each of these players 20 million dollars of more. Everything else is the hope that future performance will outweigh the risk of under-performing players with large contracts or fractured team chemistry.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The 2017 Fried Chicken Dinner Winner

It is time once again to turn over the Broken Pawn to America's favorite beagle bloggers – Daisy and Baxter,
who for a change have matters of vital public interest to discuss!

Hi Everybody! Daisy here along with… …Baxter and it’s time for another blog post for our many fans! It’s about time we got to write another post. I mean how often can Hank keep writing about movies and television shows? That’s right, Daisy! Especially when there are so many more important topics in the world to discuss. Like what, Baxter? Like how last week Hank ran out of bologna for his sandwich that he takes to work. It could have been a disaster! Luckily Hank realized he wasn’t going to have enough bologna for the next sandwich and made an emergency meat run! It was so exciting. We were wondering what kind of emergency meat Hank was going to bring home. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be one of those tiny Carl Buddig cold cut packs that hardly have any meat in them to share with us. Luckily there was a happy ending because Hank brought home a whole pound of Oscar Mayer turkey. There was plenty to share and it was very tasty. It was the best emergency ever! YUM!! Turkey is one of my favorite meats! Is there any meat that’s not one of your favorites, Baxter? If think of one I’ll let you know.

We did get some bad news this weekend, Daisy. That’s true Baxter. Hank cancelled our annual beef stick taste test awards. I was so sad. Except for the Jiffy and Casey’s all the other convenience stores don’t sell beef sticks out of a container. They all sell tiny, greasy Slim Jims at 2 or 3 for a dollar. And most of these stores get upset with Hank for taking pictures because of all the drug paraphernalia they sell. I’m sure they sell more than drug parapan…parphanal…drug stuff, Daisy. That’s why they don’t want any pictures.

Luckily Hank decided to put our taste testing skills to another task, Baxter! YES! Hank decided we should judge who has the best fried chicken in town. YUM!! I love fried chicken. I love fried chicken too. The rules were Hank would get a three piece dinner from each fried chicken place in town. And he would give us a drumstick to share! YUM!! I love drumsticks! Then Hank would eat the rest of the chicken meal but he always shares with us. We got to grade the chicken and the winner would be the… ‘Daisy and Baxter 2017 Fried Chicken Dinner Winner’!

Hy-Vee's chicken was so large it needed it's own tray!
Which thankfully kept it far away from the disgusting sides.

We had our taste test last month when Kathy went to Idaho to bring Ben and his stuff back from college. Hank was alone in the house except for us pets and we had the entire weekend to concentrate on our fried chicken taste test. Our first tasting was on Thursday night. Hank went to the Hy-Vee and brought home a three piece chicken dinner! There was a leg, a breast, and a thigh. Hank got cole slaw and potato egg salad for his sides. Hy-Vee has really big chicken pieces, Daisy. They were big, Baxter. Last time we had their chicken it was dry and tasteless but not this year! I found our chicken leg moist and tender! I thought it was delicious. Juicy without being greasy. And the breast and thigh was so big there was plenty for Hank to share. We shared a lot and it was all delicious. There was only one problem. What was that, Daisy? Hank thought the cole slaw and potato salad were disgusting. The cole slaw had more of that runny cole slaw juice than the cole slaw. And the potato salad didn’t have any chunks of potatoes! Hank took a bite that had some egg and said the egg was rotten. He threw out his sides after a few bites. He said it was so bad he wouldn't even feed it to us. Hank never throws away food, Baxter. The sides must have been really gross. Hank paid $10.47 for the dinner and it’s a shame he couldn’t enjoy the sides. I’m giving the Hy-Vee chicken 4 paws, Daisy. They had big, tasty pieces of chicken and we are supposed to judge the chicken not the sides. I think the owner experience is important as well as the chicken, Baxter. I’m only giving Hy-Vee two paws for making sides so disgusting that Hank couldn’t eat it or feed it to a dog! Sigh…What’s next? Grading the ambiance?

Hy-vee – 3 paws 

KFC gave Hank a soda with his $9 Big Box.
I wish the chicken was bigger and the box smaller...

On Friday, Hank went to work but came home early with a $9 Big Box from KFC! The KFC had a leg, breast, and thigh just like Hy-Vee. The chicken leg was the best tasting chicken I ever had. I agree the KFC leg tasted great but it was very tiny and the breast and thigh were very small also. There was hardly any chicken for Hank to share with us. On the bright side Hank did get a soda and a biscuit and he must have liked his sides of cole slaw and mashed potatoes with gravy. What makes you say that, Daisy? Because of how fast he gobbled them down. I think they were gone in 10 seconds! That’s even faster than I could eat my piece of the tiny chicken leg. Even though the KFC chicken was small it did taste great. Hank liked the sides and the meal cost a dollar less than the Hy-Vee. I’m going to give the KFC 3 paws. None of the chicken cost me anything and I didn’t get any of the sides of even a sip of Hank’s soda. I’m giving the KFC 2 paws. If they want more paws they need bigger chicken in the $9 Big Box! If Hank reads this that may be the last chicken either of us gets…

KFC– 2 1/2 paws 

Steven Seagal's 2016 classic "Contract To Kill" has everything I want in a Steven Seagal movie. Namely, Steven Seagal and his steely glare...sigh

We had a great Saturday. Hank was home all day and we took a lot of long walks! Yes we did! When Hank is alone with us walks us through the alleyways instead of the streets. Lots of people put their garbage in the alleys and we get lots of new smells. It’s not all garbage, Baxter. Some people have nice backyards with pretty flowers. I like to smell garbage! When we got back from our noon time walk Hank left us alone but he came back with two special treats. Hank brought home a three piece broasted chicken dinner from Haley’s! YUM! I love broasted chicken. I liked the chicken but had a hard time concentrating on it when I found out Hank brought home a DVD of my favorite movie star, Steven Seagal! Was it the movie where Steven beats a lot of people up? Of course! We watched the 2016 classic "Contract To Kill". Steven plays a former CIA agent who has to assemble a team to take out drug cartels and terrorists. In one scene Steven Seagal beats up three terrorists without even getting up from his chair! And he looks at villains and his girlfriend that's 40 years younger than him with his steely glare…Sigh….It must be wonderful to have Steven look at you with his steely glare… I liked the movie because the good guys won and Steven Seagal barely had to touch anyone. I wish Hank was more like him. I’ll bet Steven Seagal’s KFC Big Box is full of chicken! The Hy-Vee wouldn’t dare give Steven disgusting sides with his chicken dinner… Not unless they wanted Steven Seagal to break their arms and legs without even getting up from his chair!

Haley's had a golden brown chicken leg for each of us! It's a winning combination!

Well, we can talk about Steven later, Baxter. Let’s get to the Haley’s chicken. Hank got the Haley’s 3 piece dark meat box for $10. It had two legs and a thigh. There was no soda but Hank got potato salad and green beans for his sides along with a biscuit. I think Hank was chickened out because he gave us both legs. We each got one! The chicken leg was excellent. Crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Broasted chicken just tastes better, It’s a combination of fried and roasted chicken. And there was a lot of meat too. The legs were just as big as Hy-Vee’s but the thigh was a little smaller. It may have been a mutant chicken. If being delicious is a mutant power I agree! I’m going to give the Haley’s four paws. Having a whole leg is way better than half a leg and a piece of a chicken breast! I agree, Baxter. And Hank wolfed down the sides so fast they must have been excellent! I’m giving Haley’s four paws, too! I'm sure Steven Seagal will eat Haley's chicken if he ever comes to Marshalltown!

Haley's – 4 paws 

So Haley’s is the runaway 2017 Daisy and Baxter Chicken Dinner Winner, Daisy. Yes indeed Baxter. They provided the perfect combination of taste, portion, and non-disgusting side dishes! Congratulations to Haley’s! I can’t help but be sad, though. Why’s that? Because we won’t have another fried chicken taste test for a whole year. Don’t worry, Baxter. There’s plenty of other things to taste test. And Kathy is going away with Ben next week so we’ll be alone with Hank again. Maybe Hank will rent another Steven Seagal movie and we can taste test hamburgers… …Or ribs!.. …Or pizza… …Or Hamburgers! OH BOY! I can’t wait! YUM!