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Today's word on journalism

Friday, May 12, 2006

THE FINAL WORD

PETERSBORO, Utah -- Gloom like a Bulwer-Lyttonesque pall hung heavily over the Cache Valley as word came that the WORD had gone.

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire. . . ." No, wait. . . . That's actual Bulwer-Lyttonism. Scratch it.

We conclude, with joy and trumpets and a tankard or two, the 10th season of TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM. What began in 1995 as a professor's strategy to get his students to read email (guess that worked!) now has spread, birdflu-like, far beyond that unwilling audience to self-flagellating WORD volunteers on five-and-a-half continents. But the willing and unwilling alike--the halt and addled and addicted and deluded--will have to get a life and smell the roses, for a while anyway.

Today marks the end of the WORD for this academic season. Even ere the rosy dawn that didth bust o'er this glade, this vale, this happy home. . . . ooops. Avert already, Sir Bulwer, you mangy cur!!!!

See you in the fall. . . TP

Pardon me, but let me rant about why I hate the Hub

By G. Christopher Terry

April 6, 2006 | Take a poll of any 10 students leaving the eatery on the ground floor of the TSC after any given lunch hour and ask them why they dined there, and I'll bet not one of them will answer "taste."

You're far more likely to hear convenience or ease cited for dipping their snouts into the communal trough we call The Hub.

As a longtime unwilling patron of The Hub, I can sympathize. Fitting a quick bite between classes leaves no time for anything but the offerings from the Quickstop, candy machine or Hub. Which is why it makes me want to climb a water tower with a rifle when I am standing in the back of a long line, looking up at a group of four or five blue-shirted cashiers milling about the two out of five registers that are open, staring vacuously off into space.

One of them might be new and doesn't know how to use the touch-screen interface yet. Either that or someone made the -- gasp -- inexcusable mistake of trying to pay for their meal with a credit card. They've got brand new Dell workstations set up but after they scan your Visa we all have to wait while somewhere, someone is banging out the number and expiration date with two rocks; then waiting for a lantern to flash back the sign for "Approved."

At least while I wait in line, the clerks keep me entertained by either A) reciting a blow-by-blow account of What They Did Last Night or B) proffering a detailed report on Their Most Recent Phone Conversation With Their Crush.

It is a good thing they usually list off every common acquaintance they have who was present at Last Night's Institute Activity because if they stopped chattering the people standing next to me would be able to hear my teeth grinding inside my skull.

After achieving the feat of giving someone my money, I am free to go eat my food, if you can call it that. Let's see, what did the chefs at chez Teriyaki Stix prepare for me this time? How about a plastic bowl of rice topped off with random chicken sauce? Or perhaps I'm eating a "Big Juan Burrito" from Taco Bell. I recommend you spice up your extruded meat paste with plenty of green sauce. Ole.

I never eat at Pizza Hut, because first of all, I'd rather cut out the middleman and just inject a liter of amber-colored grease directly into my arm. Secondly, the word "Hut" has the following connotations for me: Malaria, Raw Sewage, Typhoid, Squalid and Jabba The. Seriously, if you can market a Pizza Hut, why not Pizza Shed or Pizza Shack?

There's also Hogi Yogi, but I always get fed up with the sandwich assembly line worker's inability to remember more than one of my instructions at a time.

Me: "I'll have a 6-inch turkey and swiss on the cheesy bread, please."

"Helper" In Visor With Bread In Hands: "What kind of meat would you like on that?"

That adds up to a lot of conversing with someone I'm usually unconvinced deserves their thumbs when you consider I like my Hogi Yogi sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, extra pickles, olives, cucumbers, mustard and mayonnaise. It's just not worth it, which is why I'm far more likely to purchase a white Styrofoam container full of items that have been coated with bread crumbs and then deep fat fried by "Chikkin Stix," or whatever that place next to the Grill is called. I am also able to tolerate the reconstituted potato powder with reconstituted gravy powder they serve at Chikkin Stix.

A quick word about the Grill: the food sucks, but there's something worse than seeing the little grey chit of meat (I use the term loosely) you are about to eat being fished out of the holding tub of brown fluid with a pair of tongs, and that is listening to the employees reinforce the strict social hierarchy of Hub workers while you are waiting. Last time I ate at the grill I received mushrooms in my Philly cheese steak sandwich after specifically asking for no mushrooms, in part because the grill-man was busy lecturing some young sprout he kept calling "rookie." (The grill-man had apparently attained the rank of "colonel" in the Hub pecking order. If you learn how to pay attention to customer's requests at The Hub you can rise as high as Supreme Commander.)

I understand the pay is a humiliatingly low wage, and that affects the quality of applicants. The part that upsets me is that the university administration filled these food-station openings with franchises of chain establishments when there are tons of local businesses that might appreciate the opportunity to sling hash for a captive clientele of students every day.

USU grad Justin Hamilton's Café Sabor would be a marked improvement over Taco Bell, as would Logan's Hero's over Hogi Yogi.

The Factory, Firehouse and Callaway's are all better than Pizza Hovel (excuse me, Hut,) any day of the week. Likewise Crumb Brother's Bakery has a better product than Hazel's. I would rather eat La Tormenta's authentic one-dollar tacos than the breaded offerings at Chikkin Stripz and I would prefer almost anything to the mélange at the frighteningly ambiguously-named "The Grill."

Lastly, the Korean Barbeque between Logan's Hero's and The Factory on South Main Street makes delicious sushi rolls that are miles ahead of the Chicken Gizzards & Necks Bowl at Teriyaki Stix. I could go on listing great local eateries with better food than anything you can get at The Hub but this is already turning into a long column.

Sure, my dream of a perfect Hub populated by local businesses is farfetched and idealistic. Apparently, these people think students are best served by making finding the plastic forks into a frustrating game or by having "Funny Hat Day." (And, to quote Dave Barry, no, I am not making that last item up.)

MS
MS

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