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Think of that wacky pizza you've always wished would materialize. Was it a buffalo chicken with bacon? Maybe it was a love dumpster pie with every meat and cheese in the house. Whatever the case, a Maple Grove joint called Pieology Pizzeria empowers you to compile a mix disc that fits your wildest whim.

The format is simple: For $8, you can put whatever you want on an 11-inch pizza -- even their pre-designed models -- with no fears of an extra charge. Bacon on a Cowboy Jack's build-your-own cheeseburger? Fiddy cent. Bacon on a 2012 Hyundai Sonata? Probably an extra few thousand bucks. Bacon on Pieology's chicken alfredo?


The Basics: You can find Pieology online at http://www.pieology.com. They're big down in Cali, but they've got three Minnesota locations. The gift card balance text could have been done in a slightly less difficult color, but look! There's an Order Online button right by it.

"My" location is in The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, one of those wacky faux-city shopping complexes in which it's nigh impossible to find parking (but the extra "PE" means it's fancy) . I out-maneuvered a Yukon for a spot behind a lingerie shop and took a hike into Pieology.

The sleek and sterile design scheme fits the name's deductive impression. One wall is lined with intelligent quotes; the rest of it's decked in shiny metallic and glossy wooden surfaces. Lights and chairs are all squarish and straight. Think of Chipotle, but without all that maroon shade contamination.

Staff was extremely welcoming and helpful, explaining their format and price without being too weirded out by my happiness. I could tell they get that a lot. Across two trips, I ordered four:

The rustic veggie was harmonious and leafy, eschewing the sad vegetable misfit toy shelves I'm used to. My cube neighbor had the lioness' share of this one, saying it delivered on its promise of deliciousness. Aimlessly-plopped cheese globs made it bite a little funny at times, but it was still good enough to trade a slice of buffalo for.

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Look at this buffalo chicken pizza, to which I added bacon. America. Doesn't it look like a leaf pile? Don't you want to just jump in it and roll around? Like everything ever, it could have used some more buffalo; yet, few "buffalo" food items manage to kick the way this one did. Eating too much of it made my nose run. That's exactly what I want from my buffalo.

Alfredo's alfredo (not pictured) is not the usual mess of unremarkable white sauce and flavorless toppings. This was done up with olive oil, fresh vegetables, and just enough chicken. The amount of chicken on it would have left me lukewarm, had I not added bacon.

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My final request: "Whatever looks like meat and cheese, throw it on." I excluded ground beef; I didn't want it throwing off the aesthetic. It was a gooey, stringy, meaty, Olympian mess and I loved every second of over-eating it. What sold me on Pieology once and for all was the young lady behind the counter piling saying after piling it up, "Do you want me to put some more cheese on top of this?" Bonus points for the cook holding my pizza up to the top of the oven to melt the cheese after everything else had cooked.

On all four pizzas, the crust was sturdy yet chewable when eaten fresh and was floppy without being soggy after stints in the microwave. The toppings check out as good and the staff checks out as great. From there, whether Pieology makes a good 'za or whether it's worth the $8 is entirely tied to your decision-making. You're going to have a bad time if you ask for a black olive pizza with nothing else on it, but a pizza like that should be cause for exile from humanity anyhow. Any pizza made with between 2-15 toppings, though? You'll be glad you did it.

Until the teleporter pad is up and running next to the register, the parking will be the only bad part -- but hanging around the back of a lingerie shop is only weird if you make it weird, right?

Dagger Dolls

Less than two feet away from me, a pack of young ladies are shoving each other this way and that while they advance 'round a skating rink. Two women are trying to free themselves of the melee, and one careens out of play. She loses her footing, falls onto her back, and slides to a stop inches from my little concrete plot.

I wouldn't have been able to move. I had been sitting cross-legged for probably longer than I had in my entire life combined up until now. My hips aren't taking it well. After the bout, I scoot myself to an empty area, rise, and re-learn to walk.

Comfy cushions and ease of access are typical of expensive seats, but that isn't the case with the Minnesota Rollergirls. Here at The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium, trackside seats come with a free contortionist course and the risk of a skater falling into your lap. Just as it is on the track itself, "not being a wuss about it" is a cornerstone of the close-up experience.

It's one of the best tickets money can buy.

While I was enduring an uncomfortable sitting position, the Rollergirls' championship bout was settled in two edge-of-your-skate bouts nine days ago. One team, the Dagger Dolls, advanced after being down 19 points in the second half.

The Dolls look adorable with their pink and black outfits and their fuzzy pink mascot, but they live by a fittingly backyard-fight strategy. They all play jammer. They all push people. They've an arm-wrestling champion who goes by Jacked Pipes, who last Saturday moved through opposing lines the way I fantasize walking through mall traffic but don't really because it's illegal. Their primary point-banker is Shiver Me Kimbers, the league's director of training, who turns almost every one of her shifts into the 25-on-1 hallway scene in the original Oldboy (watch the whole thing).

Victory was secured in the second bout by the Garda Belts. They entered the rink behind the Macalaster College pipe band, and left with a one-point victory after Second-Hand Smoke lined up for the final jam in a three-point stance and bashed everyone in her way.

Wiper Fluid

This was my attempt to photograph Shiva Shank'n and her windshield wiper fluid jug. Not pictured: Anything.

Smoke appears to be the Belts' powerhouse. She's part-JJ Watt, part-my pet whippet (Did I mention another dog at the park recently puked from exhaustion while chasing him?). They've also an eight-wheeled nightmare in their employ, named Shiva Shank'n, who skates in denim and drinks from a wiper fluid jug between jams. She's by far my favorite Rollergirl to imagine skating while smoking a cigarette, and I am keeping track.

Sitting in the balcony would save you a whopping $3 (trackside is $16), but why would you? The trackside view gives you the tattoos, the face paint, the numbers (The Belts have a skater whose number is "FU"), the names (My vote for most intimidating name goes to "Bi-polar Bear"), and the expressions to go with the action. And believe me, it's action.

Do people even go? Hell yes, people go! My wife and I got to The Roy 30 minutes early to see if we could score the free T-shirts for the first 200 people; they could've had 500 and we'd have missed out. I don't know how many seats are in The Roy but the Rollergirls just about sell it out. It's an impressive, diverse crowd: Hipsters and metalheads take seats next to Brady Bunches and canoodling couples. The environment is far from exclusive.

Except maybe halftime. Fans crowd the rink to rock out to a family-friendly musical group -- not exactly idyllic for a guy with only a Grain Belt to look after. Instead, my wife and I go into the front lobby and she gets a black eye painted onto her face. I spin the Luce wheel and win free desserts. The beer prices don't sting, either. If you want to be creepy, you can even follow the skaters to a St. Paul bar after-party (which I totally do).

The final bout of the season is March 14. Belts vs. Dolls isn't one you'll want to miss. I can promise you at least one "Holy crap she's fast," a few "How does she get through people like that"s, and plenty of "Please don't lose control and careen into my lap"s if you're trackside.

I'll even sweeten the deal and throw in a rickety old fudd who gets up at halftime and walks out on what appear to be the back legs of a newborn deer. I won't even charge you for that.


I'm officially your citizen the day I defend your Cowboy Jack's. Mess with my Burgers and Birds Wednesday and my Captain America mask just jumps right on. That said, I'll apologize now in case I come off as too passionate.

Here's a story I read yesterday. The jist: The Plymouth City Council saddled Cowboy Jack's with a downright psychotic stipulation at the risk of possibly losing its liquor license in Ply-Town: Quoting Aaron Rupar's FOX Twin Cities story, "The bar cannot be the place of last drink for suspects involved in disorderly conduct, assaults, driving while intoxicated, or medical incidents involving intoxication on more than three occasions in any consecutive three month period."

Bear in mind: This doesn't say "occurring at Cowboy Jack's." This is, or at least sounds like, "you could have one Miller Lite at Cowboy Jack's after 15 at home, go back home, light your davenport on fire, and Jack is on the hook if you say your last drink was at Jack's."

The article states this is happening because Cowboy Jack's had far more drinking-related police incidents than any other establishment in town; of the 57 total suspects and victims, 43 of them say they tossed back their last drink at Jack's.

Sounds awfully Titanic, huh? It's just as easy to sink, though. Watch this:


The restaurant with the second-highest total has closed. Number three is called The Sunshine Factory. That should tell you all you need to know about drinking in Plymouth.

Yes, Old Chicago and Buffalo Wild Wings are there; and yes, their numbers were surprisingly low. Wait, no they weren't -- patrons only get drunk there on game day, and guess where they're swerving to afterward: THE ONLY PLACE TO HAVE A LAST DRINK IN PLYMOUTH, that's where!

The city's action does two things: First, it drops an undue onus on already-overworked bartenders and waitresses who must now gauge customers' drunkenness while making drinks, taking orders, balancing plates of food and politely turning away pick-up lines while a crappy cover band plays at 10,000 decibels.

I understand it's illegal to sell to an obviously intoxicated person, and that's a good thing; but how often can you really tell when all you're doing is looking at them, hearing them say "Whiskey Coke," and hustling back to whip up a Whiskey Coke?

This is a genuine question. I'd like it if someone could answer.

My assumption is, while it's obvious in some cases I'm sure, even the almost-drunkest can at least keep it together during an order. The story states: "Plymouth Deputy Police Chief Dan Plekkenpol tells us that condition isn't meant to discourage employees from calling police when tomfoolery happens at Cowboy Jack's", but that's exactly what's going to happen. "Shit, did we already have one this month?" is going to linger behind every decision if someone starts to get real lary at Jack's.

And it'll happen. As the Midnight Group representative quoted pointed out, Cowboy Jack's gets crowded. It isn't like the Sunshine Factory, which I'm still not sure even exists. Even on Wednesdays, when I just want a burger and water, I'm lucky to get a seat. I never have that problem at Old Chicago, and I never had it at Digby's.

Second, it sends the wrong message to drunk-drivers, rabble-rousers, and people with serious alcohol problems: It's the bar's fault, not yours. Punishing a business for housing the wrong crowd doesn't get rid of the crowd, it just spreads it out. If I'm Buffalo Wild Wings, I'm watching this story with restless legs -- should Jack's lose their license, that's where their crowd likely winds up. They'll get their last drink in Plymouth someplace.

Maybe not, though. Perhaps they'll simply drunk-steer to St. Louis Park or the downtown Minneapolis Jack's for their nightcaps. That's especially unfortunate, and exponentially more dangerous, but this doesn't seem to be about solving a problem for the City of Plymouth as much as it is just making sure it's not theirs.