Happy Thanksgiving! A New Turkey Day Tradition!


With our kids grown and (at the moment) moved out, we have started a new way of celebrating Thanksgiving. This being the third year, it now qualifies as tradition. We go to Knoxville and have a big Thanksgiving lunch at Brazeiros.


Brazeiros is a very nice churrascaria. A churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse, with an endless supply of meats brought to the table. Sadly these have become rather popular in the last decade. I mention sadly because a good churrascaria is amazing but a bad one will put you right off the concept. The difference appears to be the quality of the meats used. Top quality meats such as at Brazeiros (Knoxville) and Chima (Charlotte) ensure a top quality experience. Unfortunately many churrascarias use bargain basement meats (filet mignon that tastes like sawdust for example). The churrascaria on Norwegian Cruise Lines has a $20 upcharge and is just awful as is my local churrascaria, Brasilia.

Mockingjay 2

Every Thanksgiving, my wife and I drive to Knoxville, eat picanha, drink a caipirinha, and have papaya cream with chambord for dessert. We go to the movies afterward (The Hunger Games Mockingjay this year I think) and a motel for the evening. We go to Mckay’s, do some Christmas shopping Friday morning, and return home.

I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving, with or without family.

Frozen Knoxville Pinnacle Stadium 18 Catching Fire

Along with apparently everyone else, I got to see Catching Fire and Frozen over the holiday weekend. We were visiting Knoxville and went to the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 Imax & RPX.

Frozen Marc

The last time we came we saw Raiders of the Lost Ark at the Imax. The movie was great but their Imax cinema is unimpressive. It is one of those baby Imax theaters. The screen is large but not as large as at a real Imax theater. Remembering this we saw Catching Fire in one of the normal cinemas.

Pinnacle Lobby

This Regal made a number of improvements since the last time. As with my beloved Carolina Cinemas, the soda fountains are out with the customers. This is such an easy and marked improvement. Soda costs almost nothing – it is still true that most of the cost of the soda is in the cup. Cups were a little oddly sized as the lids were one size fits all (except kiddy). The Regal 56 oz. bucket of soda that I could barely carry one-handed was gone as there is no need to ‘stock up’ on soda when you can slip out for a quick refill.

Wife Selfie


They also had a frozen yogurt dispenser which was fascinating. At the condiment cube, they had both popcorn ‘butter’ and salt so you can season your popcorn to your heart’s content. The bathrooms had not only the Excel jet dryers but also the Dyson ones. The Dyson ones look cool and dry quickly but it’s much like playing a game of Operation, trying not to touch the germ-ridden sides.

Lego Marc


The lobby was nice and spacious with plenty of room for displays and arcade games (and lines should circumstance require).

Happy Black Friday!

I think it’s a real shame that the major retailers are now open on Thanksgiving. On the other hand, those retail employees join the movie theater and restaurant employees already working that day as well as the hard-working grocery employees catering to all the people who forgot the basting butter or suddenly realized that fresh cranberry sauce is awesome but the canned stuff is junk.

My wife and I waited to do our shopping today, Black Friday. She loves the early morning specials. I hate the crowds but she’s taking me to my favorite used book emporium, McKay’s, afterward.


McKay’s is a used book/CD/DVD/game store the size of a Wal-Mart. Below is one of my favorite walls, graphic novels.

McKay's comics



McKay’s Books & Raiders of the Lost Ark IMAX

Yay! We (my long-suffering wife and I) went to one of our favorite mini-vacation spots, McKay’s Bookstore in Knoxville, TN. McKay’s has three wonderful warehouse-sized used bookstores – one each in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville. The Knoxville and Chattanooga ones are wonderful. I’ve not been to the Nashville one but it claims to be the largest on the planet.

I would love to know the whole sordid history behind McKay’s Books. There are three McKay’s Bookstores in Tennessee. In North Carolina, there is a chain of Edward McKay stores with the same basic concept executed on a much smaller scale. Asheville has a Mr. K’s bookstore which is a sad, anemic knockoff. Virginia has a Richard McKay store in Manassas.

(That’s me in front of the three horror DVD sections)

The Knoxville McKay’s has an upper floor devoted to music (CDs and Vinyl). They have a huge used DVD selection (so much so that just Horror DVDs covers 3 three-foot sections from floor-to-ceiling) and video games galore. The only complaint I have, besides being too far away, is that there is not enough seating. I can’t complain too much about that though because even with a huge warehouse, there isn’t much wasted space.

Unfortunately the amount of credit they offered me this visit was much lower than normal. I’m not sure what happened but it marred an otherwise nice trip.

Yay! To celebrate the release of restored versions of the Indiana Jones movies on Blu-Ray, there is a one week release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX. Yes, the tickets are ridiculously expensive but when is the next chance to see Indiana Jones on the big screen? Besides which I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to attend the AMC Indiana Jones marathon in Charlotte on the 15th as that is closing night for Richard II by the Montford Park Players.

* Just got back and I loved seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen. On the other hand, I do have a bit of a quibble with what they are calling ‘IMAX” these days. The Pinnacle Theater in Knoxville, TN’s IMAX is just a smidge larger than our RPX theater at Biltmore Grande.

I had not been in an IMAX theater in maybe a decade but wow have they shrunk. This was not huge at all but merely big or large. The sound system was quite nice and all of the employees were wonderful. When was the last time you got thanked for coming to a movie while you were exiting?

Where does their corporate office get off thinking that it is okay to charge $17 a ticket (a $7 surcharge on their adult price) for a slightly larger screen? We went to the 11 a.m. showing on a Saturday and there were only a half-dozen or so other patrons. Anyway rant mode off.


Lazy Weekend Musings – Mckay Movies and More


I-40, the only major route for us to cross the mountains into Tennessee, had a major rock slide late last year. I-40 has been closed ever since until last week.

We are celebrating the re-opening of I-40 this weekend by going to our absolute favorite used bookstore (and moviestore and gamestore).

Mckay (not to be confused with Mr. K which is not very good) is unbelievably amazing. They have three gigantic stores – each the size of a warehouse. Here is a small picture which shows only a portion of one of the stores (Knoxville).

Those light brown shelves in the photo hold books in various categories. The second floor holds all the CDs. The dark brown shelves hold the audiobooks and a small portion of the movies.

Mckay sells used books, CDs, DVDs, video games, electronics, and more. My wife shops mostly the book section, especially the bargain shelves which are filled with books from 50 cents to a buck and a half.

I love the incredible selection of movies they have. There are DVDs from $1.99. The last time I was there the horror DVD section took up four shelving sections from floor to ceiling.

They have a Blu-Ray section which was overpriced when we went last year. I am hoping for better prices this year but if not I will be looking for books, DVDs, graphic novels, and maybe even an old PC game or two.

Yes they sell used PC games – even Gamestop does not do that. Unfortunately they do have a cut off date. I think they only carry PC games from the past 5 years or so.

We have never been to the Nashville store but one of our favorite plans is to take a holiday weekend and go out to the Knoxville store one day, grab a cheap hotel, and hit the Chattanooga store the following day.

The funnest part about McKay is that they are filled with hidden gems. You really never know what you will find but I always come home with a basket full of goodies.

UPDATE: Okay everything I said above still applies but a minor cash flow issue means that we will be going in June instead. This works out fine as we will be taking a friend of ours who I hope will be impressed.

If you ever do visit the Knoxville location, visit Puleo’s Grille for lunch/dinner. An expensive but personal favorite there is Shrimp & Grits – “A Charleston Favorite” Sautéed shrimp, Italian sausage, peppers, and onions served over stone ground cheese grits with Tasso gravy.

My guess though is that when we go in June, we will have lunch at Sonnys Bar-B-Q as we do not have one anywhere near where we live. Their sauces are incredibly tasty and are quite reasonably priced. Also I can get a large iced tea to go for the long ride home.