Local Noms: Zaxby’s



A Big Zax Snak meal at Zaxby's includes chicken fingers, fries, Texas toast and a drink.

In a little less than a week, I’ll be leaving Columbia, Mo., my home for the past five years. A lot of things about this make me sad. Leaving behind a lot of people I love, leaving behind a school and town I love, moving on from college stuff to the *~*real world.*~*

But here’s the real sad part: I’m leaving just two weeks after discovering the wonderful thing that is Zaxby’s.

Zaxby’s opened two locations in Columbia in January — the Georgia-based chain’s first Missouri locations — but I didn’t make it to either until recently. I wasn’t interested, because I’ve never been a fan of Chick-fil-A and I assumed they were basically the same thing. But I figured I should give Zaxby’s a try before I moved out of Columbia, and I’m not sure if that was a good decision or a bad decision — I’m glad I got to try it, because it’s great, but now I have one more Columbia eatery to miss. Womp.

Anyway, in search of a quick dinner on my way to work the other week, I made a spontaneous stop at the Stadium & 63 location while driving back into town from Jefferson City. I ended up with a “Big Zax Snak Meal,” which, okay, do you see that thing pictured at the top of the post? Is that a snack? No. Chicken fingers, fries, Texas toast and a drink? That, friends, is a meal.

And a darn good one, too. The fries are fantastic, with some kind of seasoning that is great. The chicken tastes like real chicken. The Texas toast was a surprise for me (I opened my to-go box in the newsroom and said out loud, “Why is there bread?”) but it’s a nice touch.

A piece of chicken sits next to a packet of Zaxby's special sauce.


And the Zax Sauce! I like the sauce a lot. I was wary — I am typically not a sauce person — but I think it’s great. It’s a little spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. People who are used to spicy things would probably not even think it’s spicy. But it has a nice kick. Put it on your chicken! Put it on your fries! Nom nom nom. I enjoyed every part of my meal. Two thumbs up, Zaxby’s.

Also, on a non-food note, it’s worth mentioning that at both the Stadium & 63 location and at the Nifong & Providence location (I went there over the weekend on a fries-for-dinner run, sorry I’m not sorry), the service was great. At Stadium & 63, the guy working the drive-thru answered my many first-time-visitor menu questions with patience and kindness, like he really cared about helping me order something I would like. At Nifong & Providence, I ended up waiting a few minutes while they made the fries fresh, and several employees checked in with me, making sure that I had been helped and that I had everything I needed. Lots of smiling faces, lots of genuinely nice people. I wasn’t at either location for long, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. And I plan to do so at least once more — I want more of those fries! And I might take a few packs of Zax Sauce back up north with me, too 😉

So, in conclusion, don’t be a dummy like me and get yourself over to Zaxby’s ASAP. You won’t be sad that you did.

(PS, to clarify, I don’t actually think leaving Zaxby’s is the real sad part of my impending departure from Columbia. I have better priorities than that. But it is really tasty food.)


True/False 2014: Demonstration


Is it weird to call a documentary about protests delightful? Probably. But that’s what I thought of Demonstration, even though people got injured and things got set on fire and the police rolled in. There were plenty of serious moments, but I watched most of the film with a smile.

Continue reading

True/False 2014: Private Violence


Domestic violence against women is something we see in the news unfortunately often — women killed by their husbands, beaten by their boyfriends, attacked by their exes. But for all the headlines, how much do we actually talk about it? How many people hear about a “domestic disturbance” and dismiss it, thinking, “Oh, that’s between them, it’s not anyone else’s business”? How many ask the wrong questions — “What did she to do make him so mad?” or “Why didn’t she just leave?” — instead of asking, “Why does this terrible abuse continue to happen?”

Private Violence, directed by Cynthia Hill, brings domestic violence out of other people’s houses and right onto your screen, where you have to face it. And it’s powerful. It’s so powerful.

Continue reading

True/False 2014: Jodorowsky’s Dune


After seeing Jodorowsky’s Dune, here’s what I know about director Alejandro Jodorowsky: He’s a little crazy, he has an amazing imagination, and he’s not afraid to chase exactly what he wants.

Throughout the documentary, which was directed by Frank Pavich, Jodorowsky tells several stories about recruiting people for his dream adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune. Most of them go something like this:

I saw that man’s work, and I knew, he is the one! So I called his agent [or encountered him at a party, or chased him down at a restaurant] and said I wanted him for the movie. And he said yes.

Artists. Writers. Pink Floyd. Salvador Dalí. Orson Welles. Whoever Jodorowsky wants, Jodorowsky gets.

Unfortunately, because of financial problems, Jodorowsky never actually got his movie. But this documentary doesn’t give the story a sad ending. As the True/False host said while introducing Jodorowsky’s Dune, it’s about a failed movie, but it feels like it’s about an artistic triumph.

Continue reading

Cookie review: Girl Scout Cranberry Citrus Crisps


New Girl Scout cookies are citrusy with pieces of cranberry.

February is great because it is part of two of my favorite times of year: Oscar season and Girl Scout Cookie season.

I was eating lunch with friends today when we heard Scouts were selling cookies down the block. A minute after we started out in their direction, we ran into two girls selling cookies out of a wagon. How smart are they?

Confession: I’m that weirdo who loves Lemonades, the lemon-frosted shortbread cookies. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. Thin Mints are fantastic, and I will happily eat a box of them, but Lemonades have been my No. 1 since they started selling them a few years ago.

So when I saw new fruit-flavored cookies, Cranberry Citrus Crisps, sitting in the wagon, I had to try a box. You know, for science.

Continue reading

Oscar Project 2014: ‘Nebraska’


Last year, I trekked to Columbia’s Ragtag Cinema after a snowstorm to see my final Oscar nominee of the year, “Amour,” a sad movie about an old couple. I really didn’t like it, I thought it was depressing and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

So I was wary when, last week, I trekked to Ragtag after a snowstorm to see my final Oscar nominee of the year, “Nebraska,” a movie about a guy and his aging father that I assumed would be sad because it’s filmed in black and white (logical, I know). I thought I was headed for an unfortunate case of repeated history.

Nope! Very wrong. Parts of Nebraska were sad, yes, but it was also very funny and very clever, and I enjoyed it a lot.

To me, at its heart, Nebraska was a movie about family, and about people and the relationships between them. It’s about how people affect one another’s lives and what people will do for one another. I loved watching all the lines play out, between father and son, brother and brother, old business partners, crazy distant relatives, the works. And none of it felt fake, either; they all felt like real people, vaguely familiar.

Before the movie started, the Ragtag worker said that “Nebraska” was a  “Midwestern” film, and I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. But as I watched, I understood. If you’re from the Midwest, I think you’ll get it, too.

Parts of “Nebraska” made me laugh; parts made me uncomfortable. There were a lot of emotions involved throughout the film, and — this is a stupid thing to say, forgive me — but at the end I felt pretty warm inside. Not warm and fuzzy, just, you know, warm.

Best lines: Any time the mother, Kate (June Squibb), opened her mouth. Gracious.

My verdict: Enjoyed. Would highly recommend and watch again, though probably not buy.

Oscar-nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor (Leading, Bruce Dern), Best Actress (Supporting, June Squibb), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Writing (Original Screenplay).

Rookie Opinion: I’d love to see June Squibb win, because I liked her character a lot. Bruce Dern was also wonderful, but Best Actor is (I think) the hardest race this year, so I doubt he’ll get that. I don’t know much about cinematography, but I thought this film was lovely; being up against “Gravity” is probably bad, though. For screenplay, I’d put this and “Her” in my top two. And I don’t think Director or Picture will happen. But “Nebraska” was great! It was so great. This is such a strong year.

*~*COMING SOON*~* This was my last Best Picture nominee! I’m 9 for 9. I will eventually have predictions, but probably not until closer to March 2. I’m still judging. Stay tuned.

Oscar Project 2014: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’


I have a lot of feelings about “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but mostly I’m just kind of mad about it. To be blunt, I don’t think it deserves to be an Oscar movie. It didn’t feel like an Oscar movie.

At first, it was fun. It threw me into the stock world, which, apparently, is full of profanity and bullying and drugs, creating an amusing bit of culture shock. The characters were all just the right amount of crazy to keep me laughing.

It wasn’t long, though, before I got tired of it. I got tired of the profanity, the bullying and the drugs. I got tired of the constant objectification of women, the gratuitous nudity and general lack of respect. I got tired of people behaving terribly with little to no consequences.

And then, after I hit the point of being way over the movie, it kept going for another hour. I thought it would never end.

I’m not saying “Wolf of Wall Street” had no merits. The music was good. The performances were good. It was visually pretty fun to look at.

Again, though, I just don’t think it’s an Oscar-worthy movie. It felt like a movie for 20-something guys who just wanted to sit through a few hours of profanity, nudity and drug-driven shenanigans. Compared to all the strong contenders in the Best Picture category this year, “Wolf of Wall Street” just doesn’t belong.

My verdict: Did not enjoy. Will not watch again. Might recommend to a few people, but would tell most to skip.

Oscar-nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor (Leading), Best Actor (Supporting), Best Director, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Rookie opinion: Personal dislike aside, I don’t think “Wolf of Wall Street” will win anything. The competition’s just too strong.