North Korean At-Will Employment

Kim Jong Un

Comrade Kim Jong Un pays respect at the Tomb of the Unknown Donut.

Next man up!

Kim Jong Un apparently executed another top general, allegedly for factionalism, misuse of authority, and corruption. Ri Yong Gil is the latest member of North Korea’s military elite to receive a one-way ticket to the woodshed.  Recently, General Pyon In Son got the axe (figuratively) for refusing to purge some junior officers and (former) defense minister and General Hyon Yong Chol got the ol’ heave-ho for falling asleep during a public event at which “Outstanding Leader” was present. Don’t forget the death of his uncle (and former defense minister) Jang Song Thaek – purportedly by feeding the feeble old guy to a pack of wild dogs.

I must say, I agree with Kim’s leadership style in principle, but not in execution. (See what I did there?) Subordinates must be kept on their toes. Comfort is the enemy of quality. You serve at the pleasure of the boss. This is why right-to-work laws work and why the federal civil-service shields don’t. (I haven’t seen anyone get fired from the Veterans Administration lately).

I have a crew working on my bunker right now. Maybe they forget to install a toilet in my panic room, maybe Truman doesn’t like the way they chew their food. It’s nice to have that baseball bat available. Or not.

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Restaurant Review: Mad Fox Brewery

Mad Fox Brewery, you had me at “hello.” The wife and I recently gathered with The Goat and his lady for Sunday brunch, which provided a hearty, satisfying, and greasy salve for their hungover bodies.

Mad Fox has two locations, one on Wisconsin Avenue in D.C. and the other in Falls Church, just off Route 7. We stuffed ourselves into a booth at the Falls Church restaurant, which features a spacious bar area and large dining room. It was a half-hour before noon but craft brews beckoned, but none of us were in the mood to drink – not even a Bloody Mary.

It’s difficult to screw up brunch, but just as hard to make dishes that stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. Mad Fox’s brunch entrees managed to fulfill the latter. I had the Frank’s Sammy (far-right photo), a stout waffle with a house-ground sausage patty, Tillamook cheddar, sunny-side up egg, and maple bacon vinaigrette. I used to be quite the bigot – strict segregation of sweet and savory foods in my Balkanized first quarter-century of life. Now it’s a habit – chicken and waffles, an egg sandwiched by waffles, etc. … What took me so long to come around?

The ladies’ dishes (middle photo) were equally delicious. The wife ordered fried chicken and waffles, which featured a delicious honey butter and an IPA syrup that fooled her into consuming a hoppy substance, which she abhors. The Goat’s lady devoured the “Benedict Your Way,” which comes with your choice of crispy pork belly, beer-braised carnitas, roasted portobello and asiago spinach, and black bean and fresh mozzarella. (I think she went with the portobello and spinach).

His head aching from shots of scotch, The Goat went for the grease: “Uncle Bill’s Hatchet (far-left photo) features two Saunders eggs, Kölsch biscuits, sausage gravy, Plumrose bacon, carnitas, and jasmine rice, topped with green chili sauce. He’s incapable of silence, and tried to carry on multiple conversations while chewing his food. I’m pretty sure he enjoyed his meal as well. He practically licked his plate clean.

On a different occasion, the wife and I have enjoyed dinner and drinks at Mad Fox, which has a diversified menu that includes everything from meal-sized salads, burgers, and pizzas to jazzed-up versions of traditional American fare for reasonable prices. Tthe most expensive thing on the menu is the ribeye steak and fries, which costs $21. More inexpensive is Kerry’s Grilled Meatloaf, which Chaz from “Wedding Crashers” would love.


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Restaurant Review: Marble and Rye


Appetizer and dessert – Maker’s Mark.

I love whiskey. I also love alliteration, which makes Whiskey Wednesdays at Marble & Rye in Arlington doubleplusgood. This Columbia Pike neighborhood location supplanted the locally beloved RedRocks pizza joint in late November and boasted two big-ticket items on the Chairman’s goody-goody list: whiskey and wood-fired cuisine.

Exhibit A was my appetizer: a snifter of Maker’s Mark, which colors my memory of everything else that happened afterward. Don’t stop at my favorite – Marble & Rye has more than 150 whiskeys and a bartending staff eager to please.

Can you screw up a burger? Yes you can, comrades.

Exhibit B was the burger, served with a side of carbs in tube form. I asked for a medium-rare burger and received something closer to well-done.  This would’ve been fine if this version of well-done was more red than brown. In other words, I would’ve been happier with medium rare. The matchstick fries were OK, but it’s difficult to mess up fries.


Margherita pizza with burnt crust. Just the way I like it?

Exhibit C was the wife’s order, a margherita pizza with large dollops of buffalo mozzarella. I’m lactose intolerant, so I only had five slices. Notice the burned crust? We did.

We weren’t impressed with Marble & Rye. The menu seemed limited and our orders were off enough to leave a bad taste in our mouths. The staff was nice and responsive, but it didn’t make up for the bad food. The only thing I did enjoy was the bourbon.

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Restaurant Review: Texas Jack’s Barbecue

A few months ago I asked my BBQ muse, The Goat (a former resident of Texas) what he thought of D.C. favorite Hill Country. He replied, “Oh, that’s dog food.” Fair enough, I thought. Like Caine in “Kung Fu,” my search for enlightened BBQ – both good and affordable – in Northern Virginia continued.

The wife and I came close with Texas Jack’s Barbecue, which replaced the shuttered high-end Tallula Restaurant about a half-mile east of Clarendon in Arlington County.

We visited Texas Jack’s two weeks after its grand opening, so the tables and bar area were still packed with curious diners looking to try the neighborhood’s newest restaurant. After a 20-minute wait, the hostess seated us at a wooden table and chairs that were surprisingly comfortable. The interior was warehouse chic, with exposed rafters and jet-black walls. No booths, but lots of tables, benches, high-tops and stools.

I used my command voice to be heard over a hundred patrons. After supplementing it with a little sign language and lip-reading, the wife and I agreed on three items for dinner – the “87 Cutlass Supreme” pork nachos as an appetizer (left half of the above photos), a half-rack of “St. Louis-Style” spare ribs, a spicy sausage link (upper right), and a brisket sandwich (lower right). It took a half-hour for the entrees to arrive, so they comp’d our appetizer after profuse apologies from our sleeve-tattooed server. (Really, who doesn’t have a tattoo these days?)

When I think of nachos, I remember the cold, stale garbage served at the local bowling alley, but Texas Jack’s were close to perfect. Just enough hot, dripping cheese sauce covered the tortilla chips. I feared the chef would screw up the pork, but I was pleasantly surprised to find every bite moist and savory. A few chunks of diced tomatoes and scallions provided color and texture.

After smearing the remaining cheese residue on my bare torso, the entrees finally arrived. My ribs sang like Adele, and the meat dripped off the bone. The sausage link was mediocre – it was too spicy for my palate and its texture was surprisingly rough. My sides of potatoes and beans cooled while I lavished attention on our protein. The wife’s brisket came nestled on a bun and a white queso, but I’d be happy to enjoy the brisket by itself. Neither of us whined for sauce; the dry rub for the brisket and ribs gave us plenty of flavor.

During a different visit, we came back with The Goat and his doe. I ordered the brisket sandwich with a fried egg on top, which might be one of the five decisions I’ve made in my life. (Best decision: I proposed to the wife; it was so-o-o romantic). Meanwhile The Goat, a BBQ snob without peer, made sweet love to his meat.

So the good news is it’s very good. The bad news is it’s expensive. The aforementioned brisket sandwich is 10 bucks with no sides – and it’s a Chairman imperative to have sides. A half-rack of ribs costs 23 bucks – $5.75 per rib. Add beer (mandatory) and it could become an unhealthy habit for your heart and wallet if you visit too often, but an occasional indulgence is OK now and then.

Texas Jack’s gets an overall grade of B+/A-. Improve the sides; the potatoes were tasteless mush. The Politburo is watching.

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Sidestepping Holiday Traffic Hell, East Coast Style

Oy! Here’s a good WaPost Q&A on how holiday travelers can avoid or, more likely, mitigate D.C.’s dreadful traffic. Big shocker: Many questions on how to suck a golf ball through the I-95 garden hose. Good luck.

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Fixin’ Big Decks


The wife is addicted to HGTV renovation shows, which absorb my valuable “True Detective” viewing time. Slightly related, ever wonder what it takes to renovate an aircraft carrier? Check out this interesting story from Wired.

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Schumer Against Iran Deal

Here’s some big news tucked away on a busy GOP presidential debate night: Sen. Chuck Schumer is opposing the Iran nuke deal. Here’s the scoop from The New York Times.

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