A Look Inside Big Shucks Oyster Bar

Hello again!  I haven’t done a food review in a while, so here you go.  Yes, it’s another seafood place (I’ll think of something different for next month).  Big Shucks is a place we’ve been to a fair amount and we always have a good experience food-wise.  Here’s a reminder of the rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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Borrowed from their Facebook.

Normally, we go to Big Shucks in Dallas, but this last time we went to the one in Richardson.  Locations can be found at their website, linked above.

Let’s start off with accessibility as usual.  The very first time we were going to try this place, we actually wanted to go to Aw Shucks (they’re sister store) in Dallas.  At the time, Aw Shucks was inaccessible (they may have upgraded by now, but I have no idea), so they sent us a couple of blocks over to Big Shucks after explaining that it was the same thing, only accessible.  Since, we’ve been multiple times, plus twice that I remember to the Richardson location.  The tables at the Dallas store are a mish mash, so some are perfect and some are knee bangers.  The Richardson tables aren’t as eclectic, and they’re pretty nice height-wise with legs that don’t get in the way.  Both locations have outdoor seating as well.  I didn’t check out Richardson’s patio, but Dallas’s has picnic style tables.  The ends are usually long enough for me to get under them, so it’s pretty nice.

A brief mention of service.  It’s basically self serve.  You go to the counter and give your order, sometimes they bring it to you and sometimes they just call your name and you go to the pick up area, then you go back and forth if you need things.

Onto the food!  We always get oysters as a start.  They also have shrimp cocktails and ceviche, which are delicious.

Oysters at Big Shucks
Yup, I ate half of them. Be jealous.

It’s one of those places where the food comes out as it’s ready, but I’ve never felt rushed.  Their pacing is pretty nice.  So, we were able to savor the yummy oysters before our entrees arrived.  Now, I admit Big Shucks has a fairly limited selection, but what they do have, they do well.  I almost always get the scallops.  They’re grilled with a little seasoning.  No fuss, no muss.  None of this fancy bacon-wrapped special sauce crap.  You get pure scallop goodness.  Dad usually rotates through a few selections, but this time he got the salmon.  Again, there’s nothing fancy to it.  Just lovely, cooked to perfection fish.  That’s the great thing about this place.  You get to taste the seafood instead of a bunch of sauce and toppings.

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Dad’s Salmon and veggies, and my scallops with rice and veggies.

Dessert… It’s less than spectacular.  All they have is “homemade” key lime pie that is almost certainly from a box.  It’s not bad, it’s just not great.  Luckily, Dallas’s Big Shucks is just down the street from TCBY and a few streets over from Pinkberry, so if key lime pie doesn’t blow your skirt up, you can go get yogurt!

That brings us to the price.  It’s actually really reasonable considering it’s seafood in North Texas.  Also, remember that they use the honor system.  It’s your job to keep track of what you ordered.  So, I suggest bringing a pen and paper if you order a lot.

Overall Rating:
MMMM

Back to answering questions next week!  See you then!

Is Reading Actually Work?

Hello, hello!  I recently asked people on my personal Facebook account for advice on what to ramble about on here, whether they had questions for me, etc.  So far, I’ve received four ideas, which I will address in this and future posts.  But first, I wanted to invite anyone who reads this to send me suggestions or questions or just random comments!  You can do it here on the blog or Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

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You have questions, yes? Art by Heise (Lian Yan Fang)

The topic I’m going to address today comes from my dad.  Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of my time reading instead of writing, and he randomly asked me if reading was part of my work.  I had to pause, and formulate a satisfactory answer.  He just wanted a yes or no.  Unfortunately, I had to re-convince myself.  It’s something I’ve thought of before and I consistently arrive at the same conclusion, but I always feel kind of weird saying yes, simply because I enjoy reading.  No one actually enjoys “work,” right?  So, how can reading be work?  It is.  I think.

The more I think about jobs, the more I realize that they’re constantly changing, and people have to study to keep on top of it all.  It’s not far-fetched for companies to keep an eye on the competition (also known as other companies).  Well, in the writing field, your “competition” is other writers!  What better way to keep track of what everyone else is doing than by reading their stuff?  At least that’s how I rationalize reading current authors.  It’s studying!  It’s not my fault that my studying involves zombies and werewolves and fun stuff like that.

And anime/manga. I get to study that too.

Actually, studying applies to basically all of my reading.  When I read the classics, I’m studying form or the craft or whatever you want to call it.  That pretty much goes along with any author, current or past.  I blame Stonecoast.  I used to read just for fun, but once I had to focus on certain aspects (characterization, pace, diction, the list goes on), it took over my entire reading life.  I can no longer open a book without noticing parts of the craft that the author excels at (or fails miserably at).  In that way, reading definitely gets tedious if I don’t enjoy the story enough to override all of that.  Those books are most certainly work, but I can’t forget that I get something from every book.  I learn things.  That sounds like good work to me.

One last reason that reading is work for a writer is actually the most obvious.  Writing often requires knowledge outside of the author’s wheel house.  This means they have to study those things, and if they can’t do so with a more hands on approach, they have to read about them.  For example, I write about serial killers every so often.  One way I prep for such stories is to brush up on psychology.  Granted, I studied the field in undergrad, but terms are always changing and I know very little compared to people who spent years studying it.  I do this because I get irked by authors who obviously have no idea what they’re talking about.  So, if you’re writing about something and only have a vague idea how it works, please go read up on it.  Google makes this fairly easy.

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It’s not wrong.

So, what does all of this mean?  Basically, there’s more to writing than just the words you put on the page.  It requires studying, which means it requires reading.  It’s all part of a writer’s job.  At least that’s my take on it.  What do you think?

Moving Forward and Looking Back

Howdy, again!  It’s May 12th, as I’m writing this.  According to Facebook’s “On This Day” thing, I graduated from Southern Methodist University exactly three years ago.  I never really put much thought into this supposedly momentous occasion.  I had my issues with SMU (some of which I will probably complain about here), but it was always just a necessary stepping stone to me.  It wasn’t a big deal for me or anything.  It’s funny how time changes your perspective on things like this.

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The obligatory fountain picture, again.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that SMU held a lot of firsts for me.  It was my first major unpleasant experience with lack of accessibility issues.  It’s a major university with millions and billions of dollars being sunk into its sports programs and stadiums, so of course I assumed it would be entirely accessible.  But you know what they say about people who assume things!  Yeah, I learned my lesson.  (Major eye-twitch inducing moment for me.)

It was the first place where some of the classes actually challenged me.  That was an impressive experience.  My first C+ on a test, however, was not as impressive.  And yeah, I know that sounds cocky, but it’s true.  School was always a place where I excelled.  The real world, not so much.

It was also the first place where my graduation day was uneventful (like no broken bones and no family squabbles).  Yeah, I had serious bad luck with my previous two graduations.  I really didn’t want to go through another, but I did, and it wasn’t bad.

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Dallas Hall… I could get in the basement, but couldn’t fit in the elevator. Good job, SMU! Also, the date is wrong. This was some time in April of 2012.

Anyway, it’s three years later, and I’m still in touch with a number of the faculty (I fully admit SMU had an awesome faculty and staff, despite my other issues with it).  I didn’t come away with many friends (one who I keep in regular touch with, and two I fall in and out of touch with every now and then), but I wasn’t looking to make friends at that point, so I’m okay with that.  For someone who was in “get in, get degree, get out” mode, I’m impressed by the connections I did manage to make. 

Now, I’ve got a Master’s degree, which I wouldn’t have gotten without my SMU adviser’s advice, and letters of recommendation from others at SMU.  I’ve made a number of connections during my time in my Master’s program, some of which actually tie in with my SMU connections.  I’m in the process of cleaning up a novel that started as a short story in one of my SMU fiction classes.  I learned very quickly what kind of critiques to take to heart, and which to brush off thanks to my writing classes at SMU, which made my time at Stonecoast that much easier.  So yeah, I guess SMU was more than a stepping stone after all.

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SMU Mustangs. Pretty sure this was the day or so before graduation.

Why am I rambling on about all of this?  Honestly, because I couldn’t think of anything productive to write about.  But sometimes it’s good to take a look back, especially at things you took for granted.  It often gives you a new perspective to move forward with.  And moving forward is all we can really do, right?

What Exactly is an Avid Reader?

Hello, hello, hello!  I have a confession to make.  As much as I love books, I’m not a voracious reader.  I think that one summer when I read like 15 books (including the uncut version of The Stand) kind of killed that part of me.  Granted, there are some books that I can still binge read, but usually two or three chapters at a time is all I can sit still for.  But it’s important for a writer to be an avid reader, right?  Well, yes and no.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely important to keep up with what’s hot in your genres, and reading certainly is key to improving your own writing.  It’s the word “avid” that I take issue with.  Mostly because people seem to mix up avid (“having or showing a keen interest in or enthusiasm for something,” according to Google) and voracious (“wanting or devouring great quantities” of something).  In other words, yes you should be an avid reader, but that doesn’t necessarily mean being a voracious reader.

You might be thinking that I’m splitting hairs with this, but am I really?  We all read at a different paces (and I happen to be on the slower end of the spectrum), so my “avid” is going to be different from yours.  I have friends who talk about the three books they started and finished within a week, and others who read two or three books simultaneously.  Meanwhile, I’m not even halfway through a book I started a week ago!  For a long time, that frustrated me.  It was like I was doing this whole reading thing wrong. 

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But then I wondered how exactly one could go wrong with reading.  You can’t.  Not really.  About the only way you can go wrong with reading is by not doing it.  I finally figured out that I am an avid reader, despite the fact that I read fairly slow and don’t binge read as much as others.  I’m perfectly okay with that now.  Plus, I’ve discovered other areas of reading in which I most certainly am voracious.  Manga is one of those areas.  I can read three volumes in one sitting if left to my own devices.  I think it’s partly because the pictures keep me from getting distracted the way I do with “big girl” books that have no illustrations.  I’m not ashamed to admit that.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that reading is important, but don’t let the reading rates of other people discourage you.  And for the super fast readers, keep it up!  Don’t look at us slowpokes like we’re nuts when we say things like “wow, that’s a lot,” though.  Everyone should be comfortable with their own pace.  As long as you find the magic meant for you in the book, that’s all that really matters!

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Read on!  Write on!  I’m off to get lost in the book I’m currently (slowly) working my way through.  Have a great day!  I’ll see you next week!