Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A break

There hasn't been much going on in Hamville for about a month, due mostly to my work on other things. And it may be a while before things start popping up again. We'll have synopses of some different restaurants for you to consider when planning your next visit to Hamville, as well as some interviews with some respected Hamvillians. Until then, we're on hiatus, and I'll update everyone in the Bloglish Blog when new things are on the horizon. Feel free to visit the other Bloglish productions, all of which are still up and running.
-Dr. Worm, Mayor of Hamville

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sub Subs

When Donald, Marcus, and Victor Ham founded Hamville in 1944, each provided a restaurant to go along with it. Donald started the Hamville Diner, Marcus opened Ham's Deli, and Victor gave us Ham's Creamery. The Creamery was the first to close, in 1966, three years after the death of Victor. It sort of reappered in 1974 as the You Scream Ice Cream Parlor, though in a completely different format and now run by ghosts. The Diner went under in 1977, three years after Donald's death, and never reopened as a restaurant, though a museum of Hamville history now occupies the premises. The Deli enjoyed the longest success of the three, though it did finally shut down in 1983, two year after Marcus' death.

When Marcus died, he was planning a renovation for the restaurant, one that would emphasize the historical significance of the Deli. His son, Leonard Ham, inherited the restaurant, but decided the renovation would be too expensive and did not follow the plans. In 1983, however, an opportunity arose, and Leonard shut down Ham's Deli.

Hamville residents were outraged. Here was the last remaining restaurant of the three Ham brothers, and Leonard Ham had the gall to shut the place because of some other secret opportunity. Protests mounted around Leonard's home, and the man had to devise other ways of getting to his office downtown to continue with his plans. Within three months, Leonard Ham had become the most hated man in Hamville.

On June 27, 1984, Hamville residents heard the sound of low flying helicopters approaching Hamville. What they saw was four military choppers carrying what a ppeared to be a large submarine. They placed it in Hamville Harbor, and flew away, leaving no explanation.

Obviously, the government officials of Hamville were assaulted with questions, and quickly a press conference was announced. The submarine had been purchased by a local restaurateur looking to open a new restaurant in Hamville. There was nothing sinister about it. They refused to offer any further explanations, but it didn't take long for apprehension to give way to gossip, with people clamoring to try and figure out what the new eatery would be.

On August 17, 1984, a press conference was called to announce the opening of Sub Subs, owned and operated by none other than Leonard Ham. He apologized to the residents of Hamville for the secrecy, but explained that Marcus had wanted it this way. The plans were not exactly what the middle Ham brother had been working on at the time of his death, but in a way, those plans had led to the opening of this brand new version of Ham's Deli. The sandwiches would be the same, but the eating environment would not. Patrons could pass through the sub, pick up their food, and proceed to the deck or the dock to eat. Unfortunately, there was no room on board for the diners. The sub, Leonard explained, was a decommissioned military sub. An anonymous naval official who had been working with Marcus on the new restaurant plans had pulled the right strings to get it delivered to Hamville for a relatively inexpensive price tag.

Sub Subs officially opened on August 24, 1984. There was still a considerable amount of resentment towards Leonard Ham around town, but it gradually wore away. Today, Sub Subs is still going strong, with Leonard Ham still in charge. The sandwiches are exactly what Marcus Ham always provided, and it's a great pleasure to see his legacy live on through his son.

Friday, March 14, 2008


One of the great things about Hamville has always been the innovation of the restaurateurs that call the place home. Grand designs, seemingly impossible concepts, and unique presentations have always been hallmarks of the city. However, with all the new ways to serve food around, Hamville has also had its share of colossal failures. These are restaurants that, for one reason or another, just didn't work. It could have been a result of poor planning by the designers, or misinterpretation of what the public wanted, or just a flat out bad idea. Here are five of the more notorious failures in Hamville History.
  1. The Bubble - The Bubble started out in 1986 as an ambitious project to appreciate nature in its natural habitat, as well as to provide some competition for the recently opened Aqua Tube. However, it just didn't work. The basic idea was to build a large structure in the middle of Hamville Harbor and underwater, with glass walls where diners could look out and see the local fish swimming around. The project was never completed. The expenses were going millions of dollars of budget, the wildlife that did not completely flee the area wasn't all that interesting to look at, and they could never quite solve the problem of how to get people there. The beginnings of the Bubble's structure still remain in the center of the Harbor, in case someone else wants to give it a try. So far, no one does.
  2. Drivin' Diner - The Drivin' Diner was simply a double decker bus equipped with tables and a small short order kitchen. The bus would make several stops around Hamville to pick people up and drop others off, then would give diners a moving experience as they tried to eat their dinner. Tried is the operative word here. The unfortunate thing was that no matter what the owners did, every time the bus would take a sharp curve, food and drink would fall off people's tables. This, plus the fact that there were a lot of cases of motion sickness, plus the crowded nature of the diner, plus the length of the drive, plus the problem that if you missed your stop, you'd have to wait at least an hour before you could get off again, made the Drivin' Diner a complete disaster. It lasted for about a month in the spring of 1992, then closed forever. The bus was donated to the Hamville History Musueum, where it can be found in the Hall of Shame.
  3. The Petting Zoo - The Petting Zoo was supposed to be a family restaurant where people could come, eat their dinner, and play with the cute barnyard animals. It was built like a barn, with a loft, tables all around, and lots of hay. The animals would walk around amongst the diners. For some reason, it was one week before the restaurant was scheduled to open, in June 1993, before someone in the design team realized how cruel it would be to have someone eating a bacon cheeseburger or chicken sandwich in front of cows, pigs, and chickens. The menu was completely restructured to be exclusively vegetarian, but the problems kept coming. The animals would steal food off of people's plates, people kept geetting bitten, and the stink was awful. The restaurant closed after a week, and no one has attempted to ressurect it.
  4. Pizza Art - Pizza Art was probably one of the best ideas in Hamville history that just never found an audience. It opened in April of 2003 with the premise of arranging the toppings into pictures. Diners could choose from a list of pictures that went with the toppings they wanted, or they could just request something new from the pizza artists. At first, it was a hit. However, the pizza just wasn't very special apart from the art on top. People began to get bored with the concept. After all, the art is nice to look at, but pizza is there to be eaten, not looked at, and since the pizza itself wasn't exceptional, people began moving on to other pizza options around town. Pizza Art held on until 2005, then closed its doors.
  5. Y - Y was a disaster. In 1971, the restaurant opened on the strength of great buzz. It was going to challenge the traditional concept of a restaurant, and was based on a lot of the popular philosophy and trends of the day. On opening night, patrons came in and were instantly confused. The decor was abstract, the layout was bizarre, and frankly, no one had ever even heard of the foods being offered. The prices were completely outrageous, sparking criticism aimed at the owners' hypocrisy. Somehow, word got around on that night, and people began to argue what they owed, claiming that price was a subjective value and they should be allowed to pay what they want. Y made no money its first night, and on the second night, no one came. Y lasted two nights, giving it the dubious distinction of having the worst collapse in Hamville history.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Global Village - International Cuisines

Here is a list of the 100 countries and principalities whose native cuisine is represented at The Global Village.
  1. Afghanistan
  2. Albania
  3. Argentina
  4. Armenia
  5. Australia
  6. Austria
  7. Azerbaijan
  8. Bahamas
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Belarus
  11. Belgium
  12. Bhutan
  13. Brazil
  14. Cambodia
  15. Cameroon
  16. Chile
  17. China
  18. Colombia
  19. Costa Rica
  20. Cuba
  21. Denmark
  22. Ecuador
  23. Egypt
  24. El Salvador
  25. Estonia
  26. Ethiopia
  27. Fiji
  28. Finland
  29. France
  30. Georgia
  31. Germany
  32. Greece
  33. Grenada
  34. Guam
  35. Guatemala
  36. Haiti
  37. Honduras
  38. Hungary
  39. Iceland
  40. India
  41. Indonesia
  42. Iran
  43. Iraq
  44. Ireland
  45. Israel
  46. Italy
  47. Jamaica
  48. Japan
  49. Jordan
  50. Kenya
  51. Korea (North and South)
  52. Kuwait
  53. Laos
  54. Lebanon
  55. Libya
  56. Luxembourg
  57. Madagascar
  58. Malaysia
  59. Malta
  60. Mexico
  61. Mongolia
  62. Morocco
  63. Myanmar (aka Burma)
  64. Nepal
  65. Netherlands
  66. Nicaragua
  67. Nigeria
  68. Norway
  69. Oman
  70. Pakistan
  71. Peru
  72. Philippines
  73. Poland
  74. Portugal
  75. Puerto Rico
  76. Romania
  77. Russia
  78. Samoa
  79. Saudi Arabia
  80. Scotland
  81. Senegal
  82. Singapore
  83. Serbia
  84. Spain
  85. Sri Lanka
  86. Sudan
  87. Sweden
  88. Switzerland
  89. Tanzania
  90. Thailand
  91. Trinidad and Tobago
  92. Turkey
  93. Uganda
  94. Ukraine
  95. Venezuela
  96. Vietnam
  97. Wales
  98. Yemen
  99. Zambia
  100. Zimbabwe

Sunday, March 2, 2008

VS - First Bracket

For historical purposes, here is the very first bracket used by VS. It was a music tournament and lasted from January 5 to March 8, 2003. You can find it at VS Music.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


After a wait of about 15 minutes, the man at the front desk informed us that our table was ready, then told us confidentially that we were getting special treatment and should repay him by voting for Lynyrd Skynyrd. The woman walking us to our table told us that the man at the front desk said that to everyone and that we should get even with him by voting for Queen. Our waiter told us the specials and promised to rush them through the kitchen if we voted for Queen. A random busboy kept walking by the table, refilling our water, and waxing philosophic about the joys of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Across the room, we saw two employees get into a heated debate about the artistic merits of the rock epics “Freebird” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And, to top it all off, the Vernon brothers themselves both came by the table to make sure everything was OK, and to campaign for their favorite band - for the record, Jonas was rooting for Skynyrd, and Elijah was pro-Queen.

All in all, a typical night at VS*. Fiercely competitive, Jonas and Elijah Vernon grew up bickering with one another about everything. As children, Elijah would want peanut butter and Jonas would insist on balogna. Jonas wanted to watch Looney Tunes, Elijah wanted to watch Mickey Mouse. As they grew, their argument subjects became more sophisticated, but the disagreements were the same. Movies, sports teams, current events, actresses, music, etc., they disputed everything. Really, they didn’t even care what they were arguing about - their only agreement was to disagree about everything else.

As adults, Elijah and Jonas remained close but still remained contrary to one another. Jonas voted Democrat, Elijah voted Republican. Elijah married, Jonas vowed to remain a bachelor. Jonas drove a foreign car, Elijah insisted on domestic. And they continued to argue.

Finally, one of them came up with an idea. History will never know exactly who came up with it...true to form, both brothers take credit. However it happened, Jonas and Elijah Vernon made one of the few agreements they ever made - to open a restaurant dedicated to the argument.

Their competitive concept was fairly simple, but at the same time, it was fairly complex. Every day would feature a new argument between musical legends, in a tournament style set-up. They picked 64 different artists/bands and pitted them against each other in pairs. That very first round featured such match-ups as the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel vs. Phil Collins, the Doobie Brothers vs. the Allman Brothers, Aerosmith vs. U2. Brackets were put up to cover both the eastern and western walls (according to legend, the Vernons couldn’t agree on which wall to put the bracket on, and thus made their first ever compromise by using both walls). The winner of the tournament would be inducted into the VS Hall Of Fame. Then, a new tournament would start.

It was an amazing success. Employees quickly polarized themselves, realizing how much fun it was to bicker and get paid for it. Diners would come and get in on the fun by voting with their check at the end of the night. Elijah and Jonas made it a point to be there every single night, more to make sure the other didn’t sneak something than anything. A deejay came in to play the music of both artists of the night. With a grand total of 63 match-ups (32 in the first round, 16 in the second, 8 in the third, 4 in the fourth, 2 in the fifth, and 1 in the final), the tournament ended up taking exactly nine weeks.

The first tournament went off without a hitch, with the Beatles defeating Queen in the final to become the first inductee into the VS Hall Of Fame**. However, the second tournament threatened to undo the already tenuous partnership. Elijah wanted to use a whole new batch of artists, so the patrons would not get bored. But Jonas wanted to reuse many of the artists from the original tournament, remembering how difficult it was to decide on 64 the first time.

A stalemate might have destroyed everything. Fortunately, the Vernon’s mutual friend Stan Durd stepped in with a possible compromise. What if, for the second tournament, they come up with some new artists as well as some old artists (maybe the ones who had done very well in the previous tournament) and set it up that way. Then, for the next tournament, use a different concept.

Grudgingly, the Vernons decided the only way to succeed was to work together, and agreed to Durd's proposal. The second tournament was won by the Queen over The Beach Boys, and the third tournament began using movies. VS installed TV screens all over the restaurant for the process. Patrons were treated to various movie clips, with pauses in between each to allow for debate by the staff. Again, it worked.

In the five years of existence of VS, about thirty tournaments have been staged, using a variety of different mediums - music, movies, television, sports teams, actors, actresses, comic strips, and a brief experimental tournament where they had competing food styles.*** The Hall Of Fame is quite diverse now, with such greats as Humphey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, M*A*S*H, and Calvin & Hobbes looking out at the diners.

For the experience, VS is a wonderful place for the competitive geek in all of us. Food is usually standard American style, with burgers, sandwiches, steaks, southwestern cooking, salads, soups, and bread. You’ll meet the Vernons when you go, still quibbling over the littlest things, but it seems clear that they’re doing it with a good deal more civility than in the past.

*No one knows exactly how this name is supposed to be pronounced. Elijah pronounces it “Vees”, as in the initial of the Vernon’s last name. Jonas says “Versus.”
**Paul McCartney himself is said to have been “amused” at the concept and honor when he visited Hamville on tour.
***The set-up of this tournament was to have two major food styles - Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Greek, Indian, Japanese, or American - on the menu each night. The one that got ordered more would advance. The Vernons worked out a deal with the Global Village to have chefs come and prepare dishes for the night their food was featured. The tournament only took a week - the first round took four days, the second round took two, and the final took one (Italian beat out Chinese). The idea was so unique and such a departure that diners loved it, and the Vernons now plan to have a one week food tournament annually.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cosmic Cheeseburger

May 4, 1987. It was a typical day in Hamville. Everyone was going about the business of preparing food, serving food, or eating food. No one knew what was coming.

It was the height of the dinner hour. A shrill whine could just be detectable. People decided they were imagining it and continued preparing/serving/eating. The sound grew in volume. People began to look around casually, noticed other people looking around casually, went back to preparing/serving/eating. The sound grew still louder. People could no longer ignore it, and stopped their preparing/serving/eating to try to see what was going on. When it became apparent that the sound was coming from outside, they poured out of the restaurants to see what was happening.

The sound was now deafening, and coming from the sky. When everyone looked up, they saw a bright streak of light plummeting towards the ground. The screams of the townspeople were completely drowned by the approaching object as it fell, and crashed with a massive explosion on the eastern edge of town.

The official search party (which included just about everyone in town that night) found a giant craft that seemed to have crashed on the edge of a field. The craft was silver and very smooth. It was unlike anyone had ever seen before, with its array of lights, windows, propulsion systems, and various other objects unknown to planet Earth. It didn't take long to surmise that it was from outer space.

When a door finally opened, a tall purple man emerged. At least, it resembled a man in most respects, other than its eyes where its mouth should be, and its mouth where its eyes should be. Plus, it had four arms. And pointy ears. And it seemed to be glowing. And it had seven fingers on each hand. And its feet resembled flippers. And it had wings. But otherwise, just like a man. That was purple.

No one spoke the alien's language, nor did the alien seem to be able to communicate with the residents of Hamville. However, a crude communication system was worked out over the next few months, and it was discovered that the aliens were lost in the wrong galaxy, had run out of gas, and had mistaken Earth for a planet that previously had had instellar connections. They had misjudged the atmospheric qualities, and had crashed.

They were anxious to get home, but unfortunately, it was estimated that it would cost more than quadruple the entire Earth's economy to get their ship working again. The planet could not afford to bankrupt itself for these visitors, and so they were stuck.

Well, if you're stuck for what seems like eternity in Hamville, what do you do?

Cosmic Cheeseburger opened in the alien spacecraft in June of 1989. The aliens offered all kinds of food, including a lot of recipes from their native planet of Thlunk (about forty-six million light years from Hamville). They, of course, had to make some substitutions in the ingredients, not having Snorks or Pitterpees here, but they found great use for mosquitoes and skunks.

They also perfected some Earthly fare, including their cheeseburgers. Now, I can't speak for the rest of the universe, but I will say their cheeseburgers are the best on this planet.

The Thlunkians have mastered English by now, and still serve their food. After almost nineteen years on Earth, they excitedly report that they have nearly earned a trillionth of the money it will take to fix their ship and fly home. They may get there eventually...apparently their life expectancy is several million times what ours is. In the meantime, go for a dining experience that is literally out of this world.

Well, I guess not exactly literally out of this world, since it is on this world. It's just the food is out of this world. But, since they use Earthly ingredients, maybe it's of this world after all. Maybe...you know what? Just go.