Monday, December 22, 2014

Pre-Xmas Snackfood Blowout!

Hello darkness my old friend
I've come to eat bags of chips again
Because of flavors softly creeping
Onto my tongue and I am weeping
And a sickness that is lodged into my brain
Still compels
With the burn of Red Nuke Powder....

FUNYUNS!?!  Again?!?

I bet you know where this gets its 'color' from...
Chile Limon Funyuns. . . Let's be honest, these were better than expected.  There were, however, liberally powdered with RNP and that funky chemical acidic twang.  The Chile and the Limon if you will. Overall you end up with a nice zing on top of the rock-solid funyon flavor, and not too much RNP to make them inedible.

Overall, I'll be generous and say 2.75/5.0

Fritos Honey BBQ Flavor Twists
Mmmm, open my bag and dump me into your maw until my spices get lodged in the back
 of your throat and you start hacking like a cat with a hairball....

I for one welcome our old corn chip overlords...  As I ate these I realized that the coating on these fantastically crunchy spirals is in a way the progenitor of the Red Nuke Powder we've all come to love and fear.  Strange then, that I so fondly remember this snack food.  Obviously, the coating on these dense and super crunchy corn chips is not as overwhelming or obnoxious as RNP.  I would also like to add a side-bitch about BBQ chips of any kind never actually tasting like barbecue at all, but like BBQ sauce.  Were I to wrest control of some chip empire from the weak I would immediately make all Barbecue chips under my control taste as much like slow smoked pork-butt as chemically possible.  BBQ sauce is a sickly sweet miasma you spread over either over or under cooked meat in which you want to hide your failure as a pit man. (/rant)

These are still my go to snack food when my brain literally takes a dump on me and I can't pick (and there's nothing new to try).  Solid, crunchy, dense, satisfying and flavorful without being overpowering.

Yee-Haw 4.0/5.0

What madness lies within this festive bag?
Okay, this one I actually ate today and I didn't die, ...yet.  These just threw me for a loop from the moment I opened the bag.  The bag suggests these may contain RNP, but I was relieved to see that the color on the front was mostly from the Cheetos and their orange pseudo-cheese dusting.  There is a very faint bite from the "jalapeno" part of the cheddar, and the cheddar part comes mostly from the Cheetos and whatever scant flavor silt has fallen off them and the Doritos.  Speaking of Doritos:
These are the the most adorable chips ever seen by human eyes...
This is intended to look like a snack mix your friend's mom would make in a big popcorn bowl so you boys can chew on something while you play SNES and grabass.  Obviously you're not going to get much variety if you used full sized chips, so they've been miniaturized to give the illusion of either freakishly giant hands, or an overflowing cornucopia of snack food variety.  The result is that every grab in the bag is going to yield at least a piece of every type of chip in the bag.  I know there were tiny pretzels in here but they seemed to slide off my mind whenever I tried to think about how they tasted.  As a result, I'm sure there were little pretzels in there, but I don't remember eating any and they seemed to vaguely flavor the whole bag with a foundation of pretzelness.  This is not a bad thing, but an interesting choice on the part of Frito-Lay.

Very satisfying if benign:  3.25/5.00

Huzzah!  I got through a whole review without fucking swearing!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2014

In which I throw social media under the bus and make you sad...

We're dealing with a lot of shit lately.  Not just me, or my loved ones, but everybody everywhere; 2014 has been a hard year. This post is not intended to make anybody on any of my social media outlets feel guilty, and it is not a plea for help.  This is just me making an observation about how many of our lives work in the age of modern technology.  It is also, unfortunately, a post in which I will also reveal myself to be a hypocrite about the thing I'm going to bitch about.

Modern day social media, especially Facebook, is a prophylaxis for genuine social interaction and rendering aid to others in their time of need.

In days of yore, you'd hear news of a friend or family member who had become ill, or whose house had burned down, or some member of their family had passed away and you would feel sad or an urge to help.  To show this person that you cared for them you would put pen to real paper and write a letter of condolence, or bake up a box of cookies to send, or if you lived close enough you would just call upon their house and spend real physical time with that person.  We as a society don't really do this anymore, myself included.  We see the tragedy that has befallen our fellows and we experience it through the lens of status updates and twitter feeds.  Sick parent?  "thinking of you".  Survived car accident?  "Like".  Lost limb in farming accident?  "High five dude, I'll buy you a beer next time I'm in town."

We say we care, we even write reassuring thoughts as comments, but few do anything to actually help.  This is not to say that there is anything that can be done in many situations.  Obviously, if someone loses a family member you cannot run to their house and magically will them back to life; nor can you undo the trauma of accident or disease.  But just being there for someone is helpful in its own way.  Being available for a person can make all the difference in the world.  Is your friend sick?  Maybe instead of well wishes you could send a card in the mail, or try hand writing a letter to them?  If you're close by, offer to bring them some soup.  More importantly, if you go on someone's status update or in chat or whatnot and you offer them help, you had better be able willing to actually help.  Nothing will break a friendship or damage a family dynamic like offering help and then when asked for it saying that you're too busy right now.  This goes the other way as well.  For those who are honestly offering their assistance to you in your time of need, if you think you might at all need the help you should take them up on the offer.  Letting someone help you not only lessens your burden, but can make them feel like they were able to actually do something in an otherwise unfixable situation.

As some of you know, we have been going through a rough patch this year.  Someone close to us has been fighting for their life all year and it has been very taxing for all of us in all aspects of our lives.  Our time, finances, health and emotions have all been strained or are already in tatters.  We have been making a lot of posts online, not just to inform, but also in a way to lean on our groups and friends lists for support as we navigate these bitter waters.  But no matter how much we post online, and no matter how much response we get to those posts, sometimes we still feel alone.  There have been many lonely dark times in the small hours of the morning.  Don't get me wrong, I am just as culpable for my own loneliness precisely because I haven't reached out to friends and family as much as I should be.  Having an unexpected lunch with my mother and sister this week I could see the worry in their eyes.  I could also see the relief that came from seeing that things, while bad, were not so dire as had been imagined.

So, reach out to your friends and family!  A direct text is so much better than a status update, an actual phone call is so much more real than a text.  In the last 10 or so months that this has been going on we have had almost no help.  Yes, there was a fund-raiser which was very successful, but I'm talking about one-to-one interaction.  Aside from close family and some few exceptions, nobody has just "dropped by" to check on us.  No care packages, no cards, no letters, and no time given.  Nobody has just shown up to be with us, even for an hour.  Nobody not already intimately involved with this scenario has just offered time, even if we sat in silence, to show that we are not alone.

All we get is "Thinking of you", "Hang in there!"


Friday, November 21, 2014

Do I really have nothing else to write about?

Doritos "Jacked" Spicy Street Taco. . .

Jacked. . .

Taco. . .

Doesn't this bag just say, "Eat Me!"?

What can I say that hasn't been said?  There is a lot of Red Nuke Powder on these.  Way more than necessary.  They are also so predictable yet forgettable that I had to buy and eat two bags to remember what the hell I was going to write.  Even now, I'm only putting fingers to keyboard out of insane boredom during my afternoon break.  I had the first bag over 2 weeks ago, took these photos and then didn't write a review.  Last week I remembered not writing a review but couldn't think of anything to say.  Then today I realized I hadn't posted anything lately; no chips reviews or weird dreams or depressing stories of my youth for 3 weeks.  So I said to myself, "what the hell can I say about Doritos JACKED Spicy Street Taco flavored corn tortilla chips?" (I actually did not say this outloud, but bear with me.)

So, as I was rushing back to the office at the end of my lunch and stopping by a stuffer-shack on the way to get some savory roller-dog action, I saw once again on the shelf a bag of DORITOS JACKED SPICY STREET TACO....  mocking me in its immemorable assault on my senses.  I realized then that this bag of Red Nuke Powder-covered monstrosities was not going to do me over again.  So I bought something else entirely.

Perhaps this is the best way to review a chip/snack/thingy.  What are the impressions of this oppressive equilateral triangle of corn meal weeks after our initial run-in?  First, these things are huge.  I don't know what Doritos is compensating for, but these are big and thick and good fucking luck getting a whole one in your mouth.
Ridiculous man-hand for scale...
Secondly, as I stated above, they are absolutely doused in Red Nuke Powder (RNP™).  Who invented this stuff?  It's on everything and it is not welcome.  From now on I am instituting an automatic rating reduction for the addition of RNP™ to the product.  The flavor on first bite is very vaguely taco-ish, but the goddamned RNP™ soon turns this bag of snack food into a gauntlet of mock-pain.  It doesn't really hurt and doesn't really get "hot", but the combo of whateverthefuck chemicals in the RNP™ makes your mouth think it is on fire for a least 5 minutes after you stop chewing.  I'm sure I'm now in the early stages of throat cancer or something.  

And yet, I ate the whole bag.  Twice.  What does that say for my personality?  Why can't I just throw away a bag of bad chips?  And why the hell would I buy two bags?

I couldn't give this any better than 2.5/5 but then I looked at the low bar set by previous posts and these were not better than Funyuns, no matter how much RNP™ was involved, so we'll adjust it down to 1.99/whatever.

But Wait!  There's More!

I could see how, perhaps, my cathartic word vomit here is helping me to be a better person, so I will regale you with another tale of bag-fail.  Instead of buying the dorootoos jooked spoocy stroot toocoo again I went for some lighter fair today:
New product, different brand, lighter bag...
Yes, some Lay's Potato Chips!  Pico de Gallo "Flavored" chips!  We're not talking GRRRRR-ARGH IN YO FACE ADVERBS IN PRODUCT NAME snacks, just some nice. . .simple. . . chips. . . 
GOD DAMMIT!!!  Why am I being Punished!?!

So, now we've got a competitor brand of a different "flavor" that actually tastes very similar to the DJ-SST, it has less RNP™ (but still way too much), and all of this on a flimsy chip that is less satisfying that biting through an unflavored rice-cake.  Seriously, these have no substance to them at all.  It's like you sprinkled really really shitty instant tomato soup powder over a bowl of old communion wafers. (if you've never "gone catholic", just imagine crunching into a millimeter thick disk of quick dissolving starch packing-peanut material)

And the flavor just gets muddied and undifferentiated and soggy and insubstantial and everything just tastes worse and worse until you just wish Flanders was dead. . . 

Seriously, fuckit.  In the trash.  I will no longer subject myself to other people's mistakes.  You may have tricked me out of money, but you won't get my anguish to sweeten the deal.

Rating: FU!/5.0

Friday, October 31, 2014

Finally, a practical review

So, here we are.

It's Friday.

It is Halloween.

Here, at last, is a truly useful review for all of us:

Equate Antacid Tablets

You can pick one of these bad boys up for less that 4 bucks at your local Wally World
As you can see, they fill the hand nicely.  The package feels heavy for its size.  This is not surprising since the contents are more or less powdered rocks, but still reassuring.

The texture is, in a word, chalky.  They chew rather easily and it is very easy to imagine yourself as the rock-eater from Neverending Story.  The flavor is strong without being overpowering.  It definitely leaves a fresh minty feeling in the mouth.  I quick inhale over teeth and tongue after swallowing will give you a great freeze-rush in the mouth.

These are not the full size tablets you may be accustomed to in a TUMS 1000 or similar.  But I find that this smaller and thinner tablet makes it easier to dose when you don't need 2 or 3 of the big guys.  They're also much larger than the pocket rolls of Rolaids.  These are the nickels to those quarters and dimes.

But do they work?  Absolutely!  I find I am getting almost instantaneous relief as soon as I swallow.  I will say that there is some chemical reactions at work here once it reaches your stomach.  Gas is the first thing I usually notice (have you ever put baking soda and vinegar together?).  Furthermore, don't chase these with a slurp of Coke.  You may find that you lose esophageal integrity and get some backflow into your head.

Rating: 500mg out of 5.00

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Hate Myself and Want to Die. . .

Today I will be reviewing the Doritos brand DINAMITA Fiery Habanero because I am an idiot.
I find the purple accents quite appealing. 
As some of you who have read previous posts will know, for some reason I am a sucker for the tightly rolled corn-chip snack phenomena.  I think this stems from my noticing them everywhere.  It is now far easier to find one of these spice rolled chip snacks than traditional corn-chips.  Even Frito's are hard to find in their pure form, being composed now mostly of twists and scoops.  A quick mental count of the corn-chips available at this stuffer shack today showed 7 varieties of DINAMITA and TAKIS and only 3 Frito's.  Since the last two reviews were less than spectacular I felt compelled to continue sampling until I figured out why this style of snack was growing in popularity.

So, let's open a bag.  The aroma is subtle at first, I have to put my nose right up to the bag before I can smell the corn-chippy smell and a twang of spice before, I. . . *ACHOO!!!*  Okay, that was unexpected.
Like a orange-tinted log-jam spilling out of the mouth of hell.
The bag is 4oz, which seems pretty standard for a corn-chip snack (notably more than most potato chips at 2.25oz). The bag is also slightly smaller than some others, making it seem fuller.  The very first thing that I notice is that these are not completely caked in Red Nuke-Powder as the last two varieties were (and the FunYuns).  They're still pretty bright orange from that red dust over yellow corn-chip, but not the deep red that leads to permanent lip and finger staining.

It is by the Red Nuke Powder
that lips acquire stains
the stains become a warning
it is by will alone I set my mind in motion...
Okay, let's actually eat one.
The flavor is the standard corn-chip meal.  Very crunchy, mostly dry, really sets the saliva rolling.  The spice is nice, very hot sauce + Dorito.  There is actually some heat here!  It creeps up on you at first, and you can feel it working down the back of your throat.  Very nice, these are actually the best rolled corn-chip snack I've had yet.  They're ver- AHHHhhh!!! WTF?!?  Wooooooo!!!!  *COUGH*  What The HELL, Give Me Something to Drink!!!

*Ahem* as I said, it creeps up on you.  This is especially the case if you start munching through the bag.  (Also, don't inhale while chewing...)  When you eat a single *ACHOO* chili you only get the capsaicin in that chili and then the effect wears off.  However when you eat a product like this which is dusted *slurps soda* with Habanero Red Nuke Powder, the effect is cumulatory.  At some point you'll get 1/2 way through the bag and the mouth heat reaches a crescendo of pain, and you- GRAAAANNGGGHHHH!


I͜͞ ̀҉C͏̷̧O͢Ḿ̸E ̷̡̕F̕ROM͢ A̶̵͞N͢ ̸͢A̶̵͘N̡̢͝C̸Ì̴E̷̸͟N̵T̀ ̵̢͜Ļ̸A̷̧N̢̛͘D̛͠͝ ̵̧T̵̵O҉ Ẁ̨͜R͡E͟͜C̀͢Ķ ̶HÁV̶̢̛ǪC̢͢ ́͞U҉P̷̡͠O͢N ͢͞T̢͘H̢E͟͡ ̧W͏O̷̧͘R͠L̵̕D̶͏.̡̛
̛͟͟SÈ͘E̸̵̡K ̴SH͝E̛͘͏L̸T́E͏͢͞R̴̵̡ M̢̀O͡R͝T̀A̡̡̨L̸̛ ̸͞FOR̀ ҉̸͜I̕ ̢̕A҉̸͟M̵̷͠ ҉H̵E̸ W͞H͏̨̡O͡ RĘ̵̀Ń̶DS͘ ̴̸̧S̷͝Ǫ̀UL̵S̵͜͡ ̢Į̕Ǹ̴̸T̷͞O̧ A͘͟͞ ̴̧N̢̕I҉͢C͞E̵̕͢ ̧̡̧C̷Á͏K̀E ̵̛͡B҉̧Ą҉͟T̸͜ŢE҉̴R ̛̛̕F̢̢́O̷̢R̴ ͟D҉̸ES̕S̶͝E̸̵͘R̸͡T̷
͡T̷̡HE ͠F̸̴͢I̡͜RE̡S̷͞ ҉̛O̵̕͞F̴̀ ̵̛H͏̶E̷L͜L̶̨ ͜͢S̵H̡A̕LL̕͜ ̛́B̡͝A͠K͏̧E ̸҉T̛H̴̨̛E̴E ̸͞A͘T̷͞ ̕͜3͝͏50 ̨̛͝F̧̛ÓR͞ ́A͘҉B̵̀OUT̴̡͟ A̶͡Ņ ̨͟͜H̴O̵̢̨Ù̡͢R̴͜
̴͟L̕͟É͘T҉̛ ̷COO̶͢͞L̶̢̛ AND͏̨̢ ͘F̧̛R͏̡OS҉̵͠T̛ ̀͟Ẁ̵I̢T͜͝H͘͞͝ ̶͟͢TH̕E͞ T͟E̶͡A̸Ŗ̵̛S͞ ̶̀O͡͡F͝ T͘H͜͢E͡ ́͢͢Í͢͢ŅN̶̷̨O̧C̴̢EN͡T͘
̵͠S̸͠E̴R̶͡VE͝R̴ ͏́͏C̡̀Ơ͢L̢D̀,̶͞ ̷͘W̢̕Į̵T̕Ḩ ̡͢R͏͠E̛̛̕V̧E͞ŃG̛̕É̢͡!҉̷!̢͜!̡͏͜

RATING: Fahrenheit 4.51/5.00

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fun + Onions = Funyuns?

Before we even start here, why the hell does every "hot" chip/snack now have to be completely covered in hyper-red finger and pants-staining flavor nuke powder?  It's like all chips/cheesepuffs/snacks need to come with a pair of disposable chopsticks for me to maintain my not red-handed dignity.  But I digress...

Flamin' Hot Funyuns!  
Hank Green is not impressed...
I honestly can't remember the last time I had regular Funyuns, so when I saw these I immediately thought, "New Blog Post!"  Actually, I think that a lot lately.  I hope this doesn't degenerate into LA Beast territory...

So, when I saw these sitting on the rack at the stuffer shack I knew I wasn't getting out of buying some.  As with many non-chip-shaped snacks lately, they are in an air-filled bag and tend to settle to the bottom.  The over-inflated bag is actually a safety feature which keeps the individual rings/sticks/orbs from being crushed to a powder from rough handling by being its own airbag.  That being said, there was a disappointingly meager volume of actual snack laying at the bottom of the bag.

Forced perspective makes my hand look even bigger than it normally is.
The whole bag weighed out at 2 3/8th oz or, at $1.49 a bag, just over $10 per pound.  I think to put snacks in perspective we should all think price per pound; I bet we would buy less or at the very least pay less than we do.  The snack itself tasted okay I guess.  They really phoned this one in.  It was literally just regular Funyuns coated with that slightly sour, ever so slightly bitter, but chemically hot, red spice-powder.  I think it's supposed to imitated a halfway point between buffalo sauce and Frank's Red Hot, maybe.
Please enjoy our hard-fried spicy prolapse rings...
One could say that they phoned it in so hard, that I am phoning in this review just for eating it.  I am torn between putting in a moratorium on reviewing any snack with the red spice powder of death on it, and not having anything new to review.  Since it seems that every new and "extreme" chip is absolutely covered with the stuff.

Maybe I'll just switch to doing reviews on yogurt or salad....

Rating: Meh, out of Ehh  (2.25/5)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Am I running out of snacks that I am willing to eat for a review...?

Today we have yet another "chips" review.  I have to put chips in quotation marks because we've moved beyond potatoes and even on to popcorn products.  I figure they all hang together on the shelf in bags, they're all fair game.

TAKIS - Salsa Brava flavor Hot Sauce Corn Snack by Barcel
(a company of Grupo Bimbo <--awesome name)
Net Wt 4oz
4 servings at 160 calories each (640 for the bag)

This bag is weird.  When unopened the air pressure inside made it difficult to determine what was actually in the bag.  Once opened everything settled to the bottom which appears to be some sort of space-time distortion, as it seemed I needed to put my hand all the way in to the elbow to come in contact with the snack.  Furthermore, the net wt of the snack is 4oz on the bag, but it feels deceptively hefty like it weighs a pound.

Once you get by the TARDIS effects of the snack in its bag, you are rewarded with a crunchy rolled corn-chip with a powdering of tomatoey-salsa flavoring... and salt.  I was immediately reminded of the Doritos DINAMITA review I put on Facebook back in August.*  Except this snack appears to have been created by a sane person.  The corn chip base is okay, not quite Frito's standard, but with a good crunch.  The flavor powder is only on the outside of the chip, applied post-roll.  The flavor powder itself is not overpowering, and has much less of the Alum-like pucker of the Doritos snack. I'm not sure of the chronology of these snacks, but since the bag is a TARDIS, I'll just say that I perceive Takis as coming first in the timeline, which makes the Doritos product the insane knockoff.

The rolled up chips are dusted lightly enough in places that the flavor is almost subtle (at least in comparison to the Doritos).  I also noticed that my fingers are not permanently stained, nor have I altered the hue of my pants.  I find that the ability to easily taste anything else after eating several of these make me like them more for what they aren't than what they are.  That being said, they are not spectacular in a way that makes me want to eat more of them, or suggest them to others.  Though, I think paired with a good guacamole or creamy/cheesy sauce these would be fantastic.  I have read elsewhere that I got the wussiest flavor of the grouping and there are more crazy flavors involving not only lime, but also jalapeno or even habanero that are supposed to be rather feisty.  Mayhaps those flavors are the ones that DINAMITA are copying.

Keeping all this in mind and the fact that I already had the Doritos and gave it a 3.14 for being crazy, I must give this a higher rating because it is a better snack.  I would still force the DINAMITA on people before these, but in rank of quality it beats out craziness.

Rating: 3.5/5.0

*BONUS - I have included the original short review I originally posted on facebook, August 28, 2014 about the Doritos DINAMITA Chili Limon flavored rolled corn chip snack:

"Please excuse me, as it would appear that my face has unexpectedly exploded...

These are ridiculously crunchy in a hard way from being tightly rolled tortilla chips. The flavor is, in a word, intense. YOU WILL TAKE A LOAD OF OUR INTENSE FLAVOR RIGHT IN YOUR MOUTH! It is a spicy-hot almost offensively south of the border cliche combo with a slightly chemical-tasting lime flavoring that is more like a powdered vinegar derivative than actual citrus juice. YOU'RE GOING TO CRUNCH AND PUCKER, FUCKER, AND YOU'RE GOING TO COME BACK FOR MORE PUNISHMENT FROM OUR HATE TUBE! Overall I am not repelled by this possible social experiment in food acceptance, but I am glad I have a coke to counter the "rolled to explode with flavor" sensation with every crunch... on a side note, I'm sure my fingertips are now permanently stained a deep red. 3.14/5.0")"

Friday, October 17, 2014

I am Erik's fictional childhood nostalgia. . .

Remember the good old days?  Those days way back when, before the Internet; things were simpler.  A day that will live on in your mind forever.  That day when your father picked you up from school on a late summer day in September at noon with a surprise.
"Hey, Slugger!" He said, "What say you and I take the day to go see a ball game?"
So you went down to the local field and watch your heroes stride across the grass.  Your Dad drank a half dozen beers from frosted plastic cups and he bought you a bag of caramel covered popcorn, but only if you yelled at Tommy Lasorda that he was a "Fat Fuck!  Eat a Dick!"

Yeah, I don't remember that either.  Also, this is Nebraska, WTF is professional baseball?  Is that what they're playing on WGN all the time?  At least my imaginary popcorn snack was great...

It doesn't come in a box anymore, which is too bad.  I seem to remember them making for great foil-lined coffins for a variety of action figures.  Though this classic snack now comes in a bag that hangs with all the dead potatoes at your local quickie-shop, it at least still comes with a prize.  It says so, right on the bag, "FUN PRIZE inside".  In hindsight, perhaps the word fun isn't an adjective which describes what you will have when you get the prize, but that it is "fun" to get a prize regardless of what that may be.

I made quick work of the thermo-sealed top of the bag and was soon rewarded with that sugary crypt smell of industrial caramel product over popcorn. I can also actually smell the salt, but not so much the actual popcorn. Assailed with these olfactory conundrums I decide to dive in, lest I lose my edge and leave this bag by the wayside.  My first bite reminds me instantly why I haven't eaten Cracker Jack in, like, 10 or 15 years.  The popcorn is stale, the "caramel" sticks to your teeth and the overall texture is that of regret.  The combo of the amber sugar coating and the popcorn hulls creates a mouth sensation not unlike epoxy-bonding beetle carapaces to your dentition like a sick facsimile of armor.

Working my way maybe a handful through the bag has taken the nostalgic wind out of my sails.  Each mastication of my overworked jaws rendering these starchy sugar-coated packing peanuts into a swallowable paste...
"But wait!" I say out loud in front of a confused coworker, "There is always a prize!  I bet I'll get a cool metal airplane trinket or an awesome tiger tattoo for my face!"
So I go digging, and digging, and digging.  During my excavations I come across one, single, peanut, which is also coated in the caramel flavored epoxy.  What the hell?  If the package says "Caramel Coated Popcorn & Peanuts", does that not suggest that the quantity and/or volume of the ingredients should be nearly equal?  I need more than one miserable peanut to make this work.  Oh, never mind, now I'm distracted:

YES!  Prize!  It is definitely tattoo shaped!  Time to see the glory of my new face adornment!

A sticker. . . of a shitty, uh. . . sports team?
I suppose it is ironic that I started this post with a fictional visit to a ball game and I am presented with the sticker for a baseball team (seriously, I thought it was hockey or something until I looked it up). I was going to defend my slightly dinged up man-card by saying this must be one of those new bullshit teams they started, but then I saw it was founded the year I was born. . .   But, like I said, Nebraska = WTF professional Baseball?

I am not going to finish this bag.  I just can't.  It doesn't live up to my memory of the product, it isn't good as a snack, it hurts my mouth to eat it, and quite frankly I don't know what I was expecting but this wasn't it.  As I type this fully 2/3rds of it is in the garbage

I give it: 1.0 out of 5

Other people are also disappointed in Cracker Jack.  People I can relate to.  If you go to the Whole Foods for normal people known as Trader Joe's, you will find a product called Grand Slam.  Whoever invented the Grand Slam for TJ's obviously wanted it to taste like their memory of the Cracker Jack of their youth.
The popcorn is huge, not stale, and covered in a crunchy caramel coating.  It has peanuts!  But it also has almonds and cashews and pecans.  They're rare in the bag, but only rare enough to make their discovery a tasty surprise, not wondering if you've just found the last white rhino. Every time I go to get more sparkling lime water I end up with chocolate and a bag of this, which I immediately open and eat in the car.
(by comparison to CJ, Grand Slam gets 4.0 out of 5 for caramel popcorn snacks)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Down the 700 steps to deeper slumber…

I don’t know what city I was in when the dream started.  It looked like southern Florida, except the weather was drier.  I was being held captive in a medium rise, semi-luxury hotel, with a view of a sea of trees from the 14th floor. 

The green was a rich deciduousness of a river hollow in mid-July slowly undulating in the wind.  From that height it seemed that broccoli waves slowly crashed into the base of the building as the breeze blew through. Nearly all of the antagonists looked like a cross between Mike from Breaking Bad and Ed Harris.  They had guns, lots of guns, and while cordial they were very clear we were not allowed to leave.

I actually thought to myself in the dream that it was really dumb to let us keep our phones and allow us access to wireless internet as everybody seemed to have a laptop.  In hindsight (as dreams often replay scenes over and over) I believe there was a Stockholm Device activated in the room, as nobody mentioned the hostage situation in all their phone calls to loved ones or updates to social media. "Oh, hi, Mom. . . No, we're just hanging out at this hotel", "Do not order room-service in this hotel. #HelpYelp!".

I never knew why we were being detained, none of us were anything but what we were in the waking world.  Friends, acquaintances, family, and so on were all spread across several rooms in a blocked off floor of the hotel.  The leader of the group was the most embarrassing cliche' of a terrorist with long robes, crazy eyes, unkempt beard and quite literally a lit black spherical bomb under his turban.  This cartoonish madman had somehow obtained a nuclear weapon and was intent on detonating it in downtown Dreamtown, USA.

Now is when things get disjointed and weird.  Crazy McTerropants leaves with his cartoon bomb and we are left to our own devices.  There is a scuffle, a firefight and I'm pretty sure I gunned down actor Burt Young who was a thug but father to one of the other prisoners. . . but I digress

I had a superpower.  Or at least a nearly supernatural talent of transportation.  I could instantly know the best route to get someplace, what plane to catch, what bus to hop and even which taxi to skip to avoid a future collision.  I then spent the rest of the dream logged into Travelocity, arranging flights out of the city for all my friends and relatives before the bomb went off.

You will note that nobody, not even me, ever mentioned to the authorities that there was a terrorist plot (because, dream logic).  After giving specific directions to everybody as to how to most quickly leave the city and reach safe distance from the oncoming fallout the dream came to a close.  The final scene before I awoke was myself and my mate clinking champagne flutes on a comped first class flight to Hawaii while a mushroom cloud rises out the window in the background.

The End

(What the Actual Fuck?)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Actually putting some thought into an internet book meme...

I was threatened with social network failure by a coworker on facebook, so I’m doing this whole 10 books thing.  I actually tried to think back to books I enjoyed and stuck with me when I was younger and more recent reads that have really resonated with me.  So, in no particular order, my “top ten”:

DUNE – Frank Herbert
I’ve read the original series at least 7 or 8 times, but I’ve read the first book at least a dozen.  Really hit me in the sweet spot around 9th grade or so.  The extended library isn’t as bad as it could be, so keep reading the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson novels if you want more.

The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
I actually “read” the Hobbit as a comic book and so technically I read LotR first, then found the Silmarillion, etc.  This is the standard by which all other fantasy is measured.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan
This was my first “foodie” book, and has really improved the way that I eat, the way I think about food in general, and I think improved the way that I cook almost as much as Alton Brown.  I think everybody who eats should read this book.

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemmingway
I never read any Hemmingway before this, and I only just read it the first time a few years ago.  I was kind of pissed about life at the time and this really struck deep on my view of how I thought my world should work.

House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
Perhaps the greatest horror-genre book I’ve ever read, and definitely the best “haunted house” story.  Go for the hardback with multiple ink colors if you can.  Difficult to encapsulate in a sentence, it will draw you in.

Wonderful Life – Steven Jay Gould
First book I read for class that I just finished the whole damned thing because it was amazingly interesting.  This really kick started my natural history reading trend and was followed shortly by Annals of the Former World by John McPhee.  I now have a crap-ton of books from both authors and Gould also lead me to David Quammen who’s books I have read more lately.  Check out Spillover by Quammen to get the scoop on how Ebola works (among others).

Guinness Book of World Records/World Almanac
They came out every year, and I read them every year after I discovered them in elementary school all the way through high school.  These spoke to my inner nerd, also allowed me to destroy at trivial pursuit at the time.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis,_the_Witch_and_the_Wardrobe
I read all 7 of these in elementary school.  They may well have been the only fiction or books with a plot I read between 4th and 7th grade, as everything else I consumed came from the reference section.  Before LotR these probably gave me my taste for fantasy fiction.  (also, it made the Christian myth more palatable at the time).

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories – H.P. Lovecraft
This was the first, I now have them all.  Of the horror and weird fiction category Lovecraft is my master.  I have every major compilation of stories from Arkham House press as well as many others from Brian Lumley and others.  The modern reader is aware of Cthulhu only recently and the wider world is beginning to understand that after Poe, Lovecraft is perhaps America’s greatest early author of the weird.

Since I technically named more than ten above I’ll put some notable mentions here.  The Black Company (series) – Glen Cook, The Harry Dresden Files – Jim Butcher, A Brief History of Time (and later books) – Stephen Hawking, and the art books of Wayne Douglas Barlowe and Dougal Dixon

I would like to challenge my Dad (who isn’t on facebook), my Grandfather Frank (who is dead and so, also not on facebook) and my favorite brother-in-law, Heath William Anthony!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dakota Style Honey Mustard Kettle Chips

The bag is green. The chips are slightly yellow. . .

I am assured by "Spud" the tractor-driving potato in a straw hat on the top left of the bag that these chips are made of a better potato. (they guarantee it!)  These potatoes go to a veggie day-spa where they are lovingly bathed and scrubbed.  They are then dumped like a truck-load of silently screaming lemmings into a thick-gaged industrial slicer.  To limit the amount of stress on the potatoes, knowing of their impending doom, the whole process of washing to deadly slicing takes less than an hour.  Too much stress before a potato's demise can concentrate negative flavonoids in the flesh of the spud.  This obviously reflects poorly on the finished product, which we want to be clean, fresh, and crisp with no taste of murder most foul.

However, these chips must have been made from potatoes lingered in the hot-tub long after they knew what awaited them after their bath, and so they suffered that mental anguish of one's own imminent severed mortal coil for days.  While the initial aroma from the freshly split bag was at first somewhat vegetal and musky, it soon took on a not unpleasant odor of a mediocre brown mustard. Upon tasting these fine sloughings of potato death I was gently assaulted by the taste of both bland mustard and honey (if that honey were stolen from bee-prison where the inmates were trying to make toilet hooch from their ill-gotten flower nectar).  The honey had a tang to it that may have been part mustard, and may have been part green rot.  And then the texture reared its ugly head, not unlike a horse drowning in thick ropey molasses would breach through the surface to gasp a last breath before sinking to a sucrosian liquid tomb.

The initial crunch that suggested these potatoes were given a clean death was, upon the second or sometimes third mastication, replaced by a gumminess of such viscosity as to be outright chewy. The flavor did not subside, either, instead intensifying upon continued enamel pummeling until, after the mass was finally purged past the epiglottis, a lingering sensation of vague horse radish twang remained. I do not think I shall try this variety of potato chip again, I have seen into its dark malaise and do not wish to subject my soul to that anguish again.

Perhaps some day Spud will realize the horrors he has been akin to, as he leads his own people to a genocide of pseudo-crispiness.  The flavor of that dark extermination breaking through into this bag tuberous corpses...


(I have a really boring lunch break...)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The sinking of the USS Constitution

When I was a child a story I heard over and over again involved one of our country's most historical of vessels coming to a horrible end.  Often this story, or reference to the story, would be brought up by my father against my mother during arguments.  I'll back up...

You see, when I was very very young (actually, I may not have even been born yet) my father had at least one manly hobby that he doesn't practice today.  Specifically, he built model ships.  Or, at least I imagine he did.  It is difficult to say as I cannot remember events before my conception.  Then again, considering the number of model ships displayed about the house in my youth (that number being zero), some would conjecture that there was only ever one ship.  To the best of my deductive reasoning I can say with some certainty that there was a model ship, that model was of the USS Constitution, and that model was never finished.  To hear my father tell of it, he worked diligently piecing together that grand vessel.  A labor of love, he devoted hours, days, weeks!  Months!  YEARS of his time to bring that model to a fully assembled glory!  To hear my mother tell of it, there was a box with some plastic parts in the basement that she never saw him do anything with, and after several years of inactivity she cleaned the basement and threw it out. . .

As you can imagine, this was seen as a breach of trust and a violation of personal property.  I literally could not begin to guess how many times the USS Constitution, "My Model Ship!" was brought up as verbal cannon fodder in various arguments.  Eventually, the mention of the model ship became a joke unto itself and was brought up when the argument was as humorous as it was likely to be and still considered an argument.  The ship was lost, never to be recovered, and never again would my father devote time to that grand vessel.

Until I became a man of professional employ.  When I am able, I always like to get my Dad something spiffy for Christmas.  Doesn't have to be spectacular, but I at least try to put thought into it when I can.  You can only give so many Bass Pro-Shops gift cards before the concept is stale. One holiday season was particularly successful.  I had asked my father at Thanksgiving what he wanted for Christmas.  To this he replied with a smile, "A good smoke and a piece of ass!"  I still remember him opening the box on Christmas to find a few nice cigars and a plush Eeyore toy.  The joy that spread across his face as he put two and two together still makes me smile.  Eeyore is still Velcro-taped to the dash of his pick-up truck.

The next year, I recalled the USS Constitution and thought to myself.  "Wouldn't it be grand if I could find another of that model and give it to him for Christmas?"  I thought he would be thrilled at the prospect of tackling that project all over again.  For my part, the search took months.  I did hours upon hours of research online, found old modelling forums, and eventually located one on Ebay.  The model was in perfect condition, from the year before I was born and matching my father's description perfectly.  For a reasonable sum I bid and won that model kit, checked all the parts on arrival for completeness and carefully wrapped the box months before the chosen holiday.

Fast forward to Christmas morning, we were all seated around the living room opening gifts.  I passed my father a rather large, but light, flat box.  He eagerly opened it and for several minutes his face was bound in confusion.  At last he asked me what this was.

"It's your model, the USS Constitution!" I said
"Uh, what model?" he replied
"The one Mom threw away so many years ago!" I exclaimed, "It's a copy of the one you described, I thought you would like to try again."
". . . "

"This isn't my model."
Fuck, at least I also gave him the gift card.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On the Trials and Tribulations of Cologne Selection:

There is something which some men never learn, and that is that your cologne is not being worn for you but for her.  I learned this after a longish bout with singledom.  I have always been one to do the more hedonistic thing, the complete thing, the old school because it works better thing.  Case in point: I use old fashioned double sided razor blades in a Merkur handle based on the Gillette 1912 Safety Razor.  I do all the fancy shit too; puck of soap, shaving brush to work up a lather, buy my blades from some guy in Germany (or is it Japan?).  Anyway, the short story long here is that if I take an extra 10 minutes to give myself a really good shave after a shower I may not have to shave again for 3 days.  It's just that smooth and close to the skin. Now, granted, at the end of that three days I'll look scruffy, but I can at least avoid the 5 o'clock shadow on the day of the shave by using all my gear.

Now, here's the thing about shaving with a real razor or an open blade, all the accoutrements associated with the process make you feel more manly and they make you (think that you) smell good.  The products I use all seem to be some variation on Menthol or Bay Rum.  Bay Rum as an AWESOME smell, to me at least.  It originates in the Caribbean/West Indies and when first invented was literally rum from the island that had been infused with spices, specifically the berries of the West Indian Bay Tree.  It's an old, rugged, spicey, rummy, and all around awesome scent.  Those who knew me 3 to 5 years ago are probably familiar with the scent whether you like it or not.  I was awash with it, many varieties, daily, sometimes even hourly.

Now it may come to no surprise that the scents that you like may not be so hot with someone else, they may be downright repulsive.  Also, your nose should become accustomed to what you're wearing so that you don't ever really smell it after the first couple minutes.  So, if you find yourself in a situation where (for example) you apply a new sample of cologne and you can still smell it strongly and easily on your person 12 hours later, rest assured that the entire room can smell you and has been smelling you since you stepped through the door.  Have you ever crossed paths with that stereotypical gold necklace-wearing track suit-bedecked hirsute gentleman at the bar/gym/gas station.  Did you imagine you could see the looney-tunes animated wafts of aroma trailing behind him like Pepe Le Pew?  All too often, that has been you, and me, and every man who splashed on a little extra whether to hide the need for a shower or just because they thought is smelled extra good.

In short, we all need to cut our dosage.  We also need to throw away anything our fathers or grandfathers would have worn.  My first clue I was going down a dark road should have been years upon years ago at the ripe age of 25, smoking a pipe at the bar.  I would have strange women walk up and sniff me, often remarking how much I reminded them of their Dad, or worse their Grandfather.  Right now, go to your medicine cabinet.  Do you have any Old Spice?  Chuck it.  Tabac? Chuck that, too.  Bay Rum?  Chu- . . Actually, ask your partner if she likes it. (seriously, it hurt to throw those all away)

Now, next time you want to do something for your lady-friend a little unexpected ask her to accompany you to the store to pick out cologne.  She is the one who has to smell you and if she doesn't like how you smell you're just not helping yourself.  Not to say that you can't find something you like, too.  Just try to discover what's available that makes both of your noses smile.  I have found after a while you will be able to somewhat predict what your partner's nose goes for.  Look up her approved scents on or other fragrance forum (yes, there are surprisingly many).  Find the base-notes, mid-notes, and top-notes of the ones she likes and look for others with similar profiles.  Now, go to Ebay.  Find those colognes, EDTs and so on and buy a sample vial for a couple bucks.  Try it on, let her smell you at the beginning, middle and end of the day.  Once you're sure you have a winner you'll feel okay dropping 60 bucks on a bottle (or more for some of these high end flavors).  And if she doesn't like it (or you hate it) you're only out a couple of bucks.

(damn, this one wasn't funny either.  Maybe I'm only funny in person?)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How does one start a blog without sounding like a egotistical prick?  Or for that matter, how do I put thought to paper on a regular (semi-regular) basis without it all turning into the "me" show?  I keeping thinking of the Demotivational poster hanging in my office:

But if I were to write under the assumption I were pissing into the abyss I might as well get a LiveJournal account. (or reactivate my old one...)  So, fukkit, I'm going to do as I have been urged and just write as though this is something people would want to read.  If nobody does, than, really, it doesn't matter that I threw-up all over this first paragraph.

So what would be entertaining to read?  My recipe for "passed-over" soup using the ingredients from the Seder Plate?  Embellishing my already fucked-up dreams into something more filmable?  Unenlightened insights to my day-to-day misadventures?  Perhaps I should just start typing and see what happens, flow of consciousness style. . and. . .wait, am I in front of a computer?!  Maybe I'll just stick what what I know and go from there.

This weekend (okay, Monday, but I was off work so, weekend) I fixed my car.  I had the windshield replaced and I installed a new rear wheel hub assembly.  Parts and labor all together was about $400.00. The wheel hub bearing has been humming loudly for months and months; I just got my income tax refund if it's not apparent.  I estimate by putting on the hub assembly myself I saved at least another three hundred in labor.  After buying tools as I broke the shitty old ones I have and busting a lot of knuckles between said tools and my car, and beating the shit out of the old rusted hub with a hammer, I put a several punches onto my Man-Card.  There are a lot of people who can't or won't do their own car repair, not even change their own oil.  There's nothing wrong with that, we each have our own talents and strengths, but I want to make a point that just because I can do this sort of thing doesn't mean I'm special or talented in that department.  I have no formal training, I just feel confident that I have a chance of success.  I like to think that any technical or mechanical task set before me I can absolutely do, so long as I give myself enough time to do research about it.  I've built computers from scratch with no formal training and so far, beyond oil, I have changed headlights, brakes all around, a new brake caliper and now the wheel hub (same wheel, it's a pain).  All in all, I'm guesstimating (especially since I have repeated called for quotes from the dealer) that I have saved myself at least fifteen hundred bucks by doing it myself just in the last year.  All that money, armed only with YouTube and whatever mechanical aptitude was passed to me by my father.

I think this confidence, in a way, makes my father sad.  He is a diesel mechanic and has been since before I was born.  First it was farm implements, then radiator repair and odd-jobs, and the last couple decades has been as in-house mechanic for two different county road maintenance shops.  When I was growing up I was not. . . how do I say this, smart with cars.  I was either living in a demo-derby or just not putting water in the radiator until the engine seized.  I even had a tire just fall off at one point (though that was not entirely my fault), crashed in the Utah desert, and left steaming wrecks on the side of the road in Wyoming.  So, it is safe to say that being a lifelong professional my father was always my go to guy for any reversal of vehicular misfortune.  One thing though, no matter what the problem was, or even just basic upkeep like an oil changes, I was always allowed (or forced) to come with and "help".  Helping was mostly staying the fuck out of the way or fetching tools, but I did get to watch a lot.  But while I watched I picked up some stuff and put it in mental storage.  Even after I left for college I would always come home for oil changes and tune-ups. (this was a common occurrence given my tendency to drive hearses [that's a later post])  So, while I've always been rather independent, you can imagine that my desire for vehicular life-support helped my dad feel appreciated. (even if he grumbled all the way to the shop to get his tools)

Keeping that in mind, I put on my own replacement starter motor once.  I was a freshman in college, an hour's drive from home with my first Cadillac (not a hearse) and had to fix the problem or the car no start no mo'.  I could hear the pride in my father's voice when I called him and told him that I had done it all myself and the car actually started afterward.  But there was a certain undertone to his voice that has only grown stronger in recent years.  When I bought my new car nearly 6 years ago I brought it home to show off my good fortune my dad was obviously proud.  Except, upon looking under the hood at this compact Japanese fuel injected block of metal and plastic he could only say, "Well, you're on your own now!"  He was my master of carburetors, but this was, without a computer and some training, beyond him.  In the intervening years I have taken some windfalls and spend time unemployed, but I kept up my payments and kept the car.  And because of a lot of things, not just vehicular maintenance, I made a lot fewer trips at home.

So, sometime this week, I will call my father (or more likely he will call me) and we will discuss my car and the repairs I have made to it.  He will be very proud, this is a project on par with any of the other difficult things I have fixed in the past. But under that pride will still be my Dad, knowing that but for my confidence and ability to try new things this was another opportunity to spend some time with his Son that he didn't have.  So when I have that conversation I will also be proud of my achievement, but in hearing the undertone to his voice and knowing what it means will also make me sad.

I'm going to make damned sure we go fishing this summer.  We can talk about how many cars I killed previously while we drown some worms.

(Huh, that was kind of a downer. . . I swear the next one will be funnier.)