Look, I fully realize that food manufacturers have to exaggerate how great their stuff looks on their packaging. I realize this because I make a living creating perfect photos for food manufacturers to use for just that purpose. The idea is that the photo is representing the absolute best-case scenario for the product. Everybody knows to lower their expectations, so no harm no foul, right?
The problem is that sometimes the packaging photo so grossly over-exaggerates the look of the product as to be complete fiction. I wrote about this before when I posted my IN-DEPTH SPECIAL REPORT for Hello Kitty Pop Tarts...
Not only is the pink frosting on the box not even remotely the same color as the putrid magenta glop that's been smeared on the Pop Tart, but they grossly exaggerated the number of kitty sprinkles you'll get. In cases like this, it's not a "best case, idealized scenario"... it's an outright lie.
But it's a fucking Pop Tart, so what can you do?
When shopping at the grocery store, I saw that Kashi had added a new Four-Cheese variety to their pizza line-up. I kind of like their Mediterranean flavor, so I thought I'd give the new pizzas a shot and bought three of them. The picture on the box just looked so darn appealing!
Unfortunately, reality had to come along and fuck everything up...
So... you tell me... Four Cheese Pizza... or BARELY Cheese Pizza?
Other than the three badly-distributed slices of Provolone, the other cheeses are nowhere to be found. Just a tiny sprinkling of assorted shreds scattered around the crust. The pizza was mostly sauce, not cheese at all. So I'm chalking this one up as a BLATANT LIE. And, unlike a Pop Tart, it's not like you can so easily write off.
I don't know if this is a design-issue or an implementation-issue, but I'd appreciate it if Kashi would actually put a half-way decent amount of fucking cheese on their Four Cheese Pizza. I shouldn't have to have to deal with this kind of disappointment when it comes to pizza-related life choices.
Picking up from yesterday's unexpected journey...
The 3-1/2 hour drive to Spokane is not one of those awe-filled journeys that you look forward to. It's pretty much 30 minutes of civilized nothing followed by three more hours of nothing nothing. The Columbia Basin is vast, flat, and uneventful, with only a few farms and a lot of road to distract you from the tedium. Not to say that there can't be some pretty moments in the summer when the crops are out... I've seen some amazing sunsets, for example... but mostly? Not a lot to look at.
And now it's the middle of winter, which means there's even less to look at than usual...
The truth is that I never minded the drive that much, because there was always the best pizza on earth waiting for me when I arrived in Spokane at David's Pizza. But then this happened...
Needless to say, my trips to Spokane are not quite what they used to be. The owner of what was once David's Pizza is co-owner of a bar/restaurant called Famous Ed's where they claim to serve the same pizza... but not so much. The crust at David's was crispy with a nice snap to it when you took a bite. The Famous Ed's crust is tough like shoe leather and has to be torn off the slice. There's also something different about the sauce, but I can't put my finger on it. David's just had a better flavor profile somehow (though I'm sure it's the same recipe). The biggest problem is that Famous Ed's is always changing the toppings for "The Da Vinci"... last time they added clove garlic and salt... this time they added green peppers (which totally overpowered the feta and pesto notes that make this pizza so amazing). Oh well. They were running a special where you could get a large for the price of a small, so at least I'll have something for breakfast tomorrow...
For those who have never been here, Spokane is an interesting place. It's more like a humongous town than a big city. It stretches for absolute miles, but it never seems densely populated because it's so spread out. Even the downtown area, which is fairly cosmopolitan, never really seems like you're in a modern metropolis. The end result is actually kinda nice... you have most of the stores and services of a big city, but without the massive crowds and craziness.
Meaning "Children of the Sun" in the Native American Salishan language, Spokane (the second-largest city in Washington State), has a few claims to fame that I know of. It was the site of the 1974 World's Fair Expo. It was the setting for the Johnny Depp movie Benny & Joon and the Madonna-soundtrack-fueled film Vision Quest. It's the city where future Ted Mosby (from How I Met Your Mother) designs his first skyscraper (though, honestly, the idea of a skyscraper in Spokane is ludicrous, as I had previously talked about). Spokane is also home to the Lilac Festival in mid-May, which is kind of a notable event. At least it is here in the Pacific Northwest. And then there's the Bloomsday Run, which claims to be the largest timed race in the USA. And, of course, Bing Crosby grew up here and this is the city where Father's Day was invented.
Most important of all, Spokane is home of Gonzaga University Basketball, which is all kinds of famous. Oddly enough, some out-of-staters have asked me where the "City of Gonzaga" is, not realizing that the college is named for a Jesuit saint and not a city (the university itself having been founded by the Roman Catholic "Society of Jesus").
The geography of Spokane is also worth mentioning, because that massive blob on a map of Eastern Washington is not really all Spokane. It's divided into two parts... Spokane and Spokane Valley...
The city of Spokane Valley picks up at the eastern edge of Spokane proper and extends almost to Idaho. If you ever question which city you're in, all you have to do is look at north-south streets. In Spokane, they're labeled as "streets" but in Spokane Valley they're labeled as "roads." The distinction between the two cities is kind of important, and some Spokane Valley locals will be offended if you say they're from "Spokane" (just as a Spokane resident might be offended if you were to say they live in the "Spokane Valley," which has a specific meaning in this part of the state). It's not quite so contentious now, but decades ago it was kind of a "West Side Story Jets and Sharks" situation where Spokane kids and Valley kids did not mix. Even today, both cities have separate ecosystems for living, shopping, and eating... they're just not so isolated as they once were.
And that, as they say, is that.
Probably more about Spokane than you wanted to know, but that's what you're paying me for.
I've been back from Oakland for one day.
And while I already miss my friends (and civilization), what I am missing right now... and quite badly... is food. Here in my little corner of Redneckistan, my culinary options are severely limited.
Just days ago I was eating an amazing falafel wrap...
As for today? It's a box of shitty dehydrated julienne potatoes in "cheese" sauce...
So gross. And exactly the kind of thing that makes you lose your will to live.
Reeeeeaaaly looking forward to me next trip.
Well this day didn't get off to a good start either!
Sometimes events happen in life that are too traumatic for words. They can only be expressed in song.
So now, in the tradition of Bitch Got Three Spaces, Blogography proudly presents yet another Grammy-worthy edition of Song Lyrics from Redneckistan...
Eggo Didn't Leggo My Waffle
Lyrics and Music by Blogography Gangsta.
Sung by Blogography Gangsta (featuring Killa Kyleon, Ice Burgandy, and Gucci Mane).
Got my butter!
Got my syrup!
Got my fork and knife!
Now all I need is a delicious Eggo waffle
To complete my life!
Open the freezer!
Open the box!
Open that plastic wrap!
What the hell? they gave me half a waffle
Now I think that I might snap!
Eggo ruined my breakfast,
The most important meal of the day!
This ain't no way to be livin',
Ain't nothin' goin' my way!
Yeah, yeah, yeah... yeah!
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
Pray for peace!
Pray for freedom!
Pray for world harmony!
Lord, they done gave me half a waffle
Why have you forsaken me?
Rage on Eggo!
Rage on Kelloggs!
Rage on breakfast too!
Don't need no haters messin' with my waffle
Or else I'm comin' for you!
Eggo ruined my breakfast,
The most important meal of the day!
This ain't no way to be livin',
Ain't nothin' goin' my way!
Yeah, yeah, yeah... yeah!
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
— All lyrics copyright ©2013 by Blogography.
And so it begins again.
For the past three months I've stuck pretty close to home. Sure, I flew to my sister's house for the holidays in December, made a quick trip to Spokane for work in January, and took a wonderful trip to Oakland to visit friends and get a tattoo in February... but the bulk of my Winter was spent taking a vacation from travel.
Now the vacation is over, and the next nine months are back to travel as usual.
A part of me is sad about that. It's just so nice to stay in one place for a while... but, on the other hand, holy crap am I happy to get back to big city living. I've only been in Chicago for three hours now, and I already feel a change coming over me. This is normal. This is the way life is supposed to be. This is where I belong. At least until I've been on the road for nine months, at which time I'm sure that I'll feel the same way about being home in Redneckistan. But until then, I'm quite happy to be metropolis-hopping.
One of the things I love about being in cities like Chicago is the food. But perhaps not in the way you think.
It's not because the city is filled with five-star fine-dining options... though I do enjoy treating myself to five-star cuisine from time to time... no, it's the variety of things I can get here that I can't get back home.
Case in point... can you guess where I was dying to eat in Chicago the minute I landed?
Not a five-star restaurant, but instead a local fast food chain of Mexican grill restaurants in the Chicago area. Heaven only knows I can get pretty good Mexican food back home... but I can't get Burrito Beach. And I love Burrito Beach. Their grilled rice & bean burrito tastes amazing, and I'm a huge fan. It costs under $5. And it was delicious.
Another thing I'm craving? A Chicago-style vegetarian hot dog. Can't get a veggie dog back home... and certainly not Chicago style for $4.18... or any price. Tomorrow is the day, and this is what I'll be dreaming of tonight...
Yet another food I'm dying for? A falafel sandwich. Just a simple, $4.99 falafel pita sandwich. Back home, most people don't even know what the fuck falafel is. It's one of my favorite foods on earth, and yet there's no place that serves it in all of Redneckistan.
I could go on and on (don't get me started about the amazing pizza here).
People make fun of me because I travel all the way to big cities and, for the most part, don't take advantage of the haute cuisine that's available. But it's not because I'm cheap... or can't appreciate it... or am opposed to it... it's because I'm too busy stuffing myself with all the simple foods I just can't get when I'm at home.
Hell, it used to be that my favorite restaurant in all of New York City was McDonalds Times Square because they had a McVeggie Burger.
When it comes to the food you love, the price doesn't really matter.
Even when it means the price is five dollars.
Just one day in Chicago.
A really pretty day in Chicago.
Don't go going off all half-cocked... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Cheese! April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and grilled cheese sandiwches just happens to be one of my favorite foods on earth. Sadly, most people seem to think that a grilled cheese consists of a slice of cheese melted between two slices of bread in a skillet. Not even close. Great grilled cheese sandwiches are creative culinary delights that are a little more interesting...
I've already blogged about my "Death By Cheese Sandwich," which is one of my favorite recipes... but lately I've been experimenting with shredded cheese recipes (which melt so very, very beautifully) and adding things like sliced green apples or tomatoes to my sandwiches. The last batch I made had Feta Cheese mixed in, which was mind-blowing. Next up I'm going to try a recipe which is made with potato chips. The varieties of grilled cheese deliciousness are endless. Which is why I want to encourage everybody to take National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month by the balls and seek out a few of the more inventive ways of cooking one of the world's most classic foods.
• Hannibal! Let's just get this out of the way... I feel that Sir Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is one of the most inspired performances in all of cinematic history. It is one of the few times I can use the adjective "flawless" when describing what actors do. With that in mind, I put my expectations into low-gear when tuning into NBC's efforts to turn the character into a Dexter-style television series...
So imagine my surprise when I start watching the premiere episode of Hannibal only to find that creator genius Bryan Fuller wisely decided to sidestep a failed attempt at mimicking the Anthony Hopkins movies. I was riveted as I watched a much more flawed and interesting version of investigator Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) rope me into one of the best homicide dramas in recent memory. As the show continued to play out, I found myself excited at the prospect that this might actually work out.
But then Hannibal Lecter showed up and everything went sideways.
No offense to Mads Mikkelsen, who is a fine actor (he was really good in Casino Royale)... but the guy is horribly miscast as Hannibal Lecter. For reasons that escape me, he's playing the part as about as flat and uninteresting as it gets. I certainly wasn't expecting Sir Anthony Hopkins, but I was expecting to see some of the sparkle and charm that makes Hannibal such a compelling character. Well, there's none of that here. It's the idea is that Lecter is so charming and fascinating that you don't want him to be evil. The fact that he IS a psychotic serial killer is what makes him so terrifying. With Mads Mikkelsen being so eerily lacking in charm, he comes off as exactly what he shouldn't... a psychotic serial killer! I dunno. I'm going to keep watching in the hopes that Hannibal grows on me because Will Graham is so beautifully realized here... but, unfortunately, I can see a day when Lecter's half of the coin pushes me over the edge.
• Bridegroom! "It's not a gay thing. It's not a straight thing. It's a human thing." — I was really happy this Kickstarter project got funded, and I can't wait to see what Linda Bloodworth-Thompson has done with a story that everybody needs to see...
• NIK! When Google bought out NIK Software, I was gutted. They obviously bought the company to get their hands on Snapseed, and I worried that the rest of their brilliant apps would be tossed aside. That may yet come true but, in the meanwhile, Google has dropped the price of NIK's plugin suite to a astounding $149! If you're a photographer who uses Photoshop, scrape together the $149 and RUN, don't walk, to their website and snap it up before Google changes their mind. Color Efex and Silver Efex are sheer magic for punching up your images, and all the rest of the tools are just gravy. If 70% off and my praise doesn't compel you to jump onboard, they have a 15-day free trial available.
• WTF? Seriously. I wants to die now.
• Mini! More and more I have been uploading double-sized photos to my blog, then manually down-sizing the dimensions in the HTML. This makes it so that readers with a Retina Display get a much better quality photo to look at...
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right
The problem is that readers without a Retina Display (or equivalent) are downloading a bigger image file, only to have their browser throw out every other pixel. Kinda a waste of time and bandwidth but, sorry, one day all displays will be "Retina" in quality, and I'm trying to future-proof my images here. To make this as painless as possible, I am using a tool called JPEGmini to reduce the size of my large images (small images don't net much of a savings). So far, it's worked surprisingly well, and my largest images are being reduced as much as half. Yes. Half. But the best part? The image quality is maintained! Looking as hard as I can, I can't spot any difference between the original and the JPEGmini version! It's been working so well that I've taken to compress my camera libraries as well. If you're looking to save some space with your JPEGs, I highly recommend giving JPEGmini a try (there's a free version to check it out, so what are you waiting for?).
• Veronica! If you loved me, you'd donate one measly dollar to the Veronica Mars movie project so it can become the most backer backed project in Kickstarter history. If you don't love me, then you can still donate a dollar and pretend to love me... I'm perfectly fine with that. Just five days left...
And now... TIME TO MAKE FRESH BREAD FOR MORE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES!
Today was kinda a play day where I had no real agenda. That's the good news.
Today was filled with disappointments. That's the bad news.
But, all in all... any day away from the office is a good one, am I right? I mean, sure, I worked a bit... but most of my time was spent looking for things to do in Salt Lake City that I haven't done before. I've been here many, many times, so that is a bit of a challenge.
My first stop was decided last night when I saw "BRUGES WAFFLES" flash across my hotel television's concierge screen. "Wow. I could go for some authentic Belgian waffles!" I said to myself. And so I got up and walked the three lonnnnnng blocks to the waffle shop in time for...
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 1
On their website, Bruges Waffles says that they have "authentic caramelized waffles," which is exactly what I wanted. The reality? Not so much...
Don't get me wrong... it was a delicious waffle, and the cream was out of this world. Overall, a wonderful breakfast. But where is the pearl sugar that makes that delightful speckle of caramelized bits that I love? I sure couldn't find them. If they were there, my waffle would have looked like this...
Photo from A Feast for the Eyes... which has a recipe for the waffles you're looking for!
And let me tell you... those pearls of caramelized sugar are what makes a Belgian waffle go from "good" to "FOOD OF THE GODS!"
Next up? I wanted to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah. I had been there before years ago, but they relocated to a new building in 2011, and it's supposed to be pretty spectacular. The problem is that there's no real "elegant" way of getting there via public transportation. By car, it's a 16 minute drive from downtown to their location on edge of the University of Utah campus. But I had to spend an hour and fifteen minutes taking the Blue Trax Line to the Red Trax Line all the way out to the University Medical Center... then catch a campus shuttle over some gawdaful roads to get to the museum where I was faced with...
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 2
The Natural History Museum of Utah is, indeed, in a spectacular new location and has some exhibits that are incredibly well done. The dinosaur exhibits alone are worth the price of admission. Honestly, if you're in Salt Lake City, you owe it to yourself to check it out... it's totally worth it, even if you have to go through public transportation hell to get there.
HOWEVER... when I was there it was absolute bedlam because (I'm guessing) there was a school field trip going on. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except the kids were running around going ape-shit insane. Museum staff didn't even attempt to reign them in, which was just senseless. And the "chaperone adults" that were accompanying the kids didn't bother to "chaperone" at all. They just lounged around while kids were yelling, screaming, running, kicking, and beating on the displays. It was beyond crazy. Even if they didn't make the kids behave, you'd think they would AT LEAST attempt to keep walkways clear so people could get around the museum... but... no. After 45 minutes, I couldn't take it any more and left. But I still got to see some cool stuff...
The dinosaur exhibits are truly first class.
RAWRRRRR! Says the ancient giant crocodile!
The dioramas were nicely done too... if you like looking at dead stuffed animals.
The "Sky Deck" offers amazing views of downtown Salt Lake City and beyond.
There was a really nice weaving exhibit that was much more interesting than I would have thought.
I complained about the ordeal of using public transportation to get to the museum, but there's one cool bit I should mention. When I was ready to leave, I checked my phone to see how often the campus shuttles ran. Much to my shock and delight, they have a web app that shows you where the shuttles are AND you can tap on a station to get an estimate as to when the next shuttle will arrive there...
Now THAT'S cool... and so useful! I wish the TRAX light rail system here had the same feature.
The one thing I wanted to do above anything else while I am here is to visit The Leonardo so I could see the awesome-sounding MUMMIES OF THE WORLD exhibit. Unfortunately, that brings us to...
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 3
The show was sold out for the day. And the next day. And the next day. Talk about a soul-crushing sense of defeat... I missed getting to see mummies, dammit!
Last night Marty had mentioned that The Apple Store had relocated from The Gateway to a new shopping mall built by the Mormon church called "City Creek Center," so I decided to stop because I really want a different case for my iPhone 5. When I first got it, there were like -zero- cases available, so I thought I would have a better selection now that seven months have passed. You can probably imagine that this brings us to...
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 4
The iPhone 5 case selection at the Apple Store is only barely better than it was back in September. They don't even have a simple bumper I can buy... they come attached to a hunk of ugly plastic. And the rest of the cases they have are pretty lame. WAH! Oh well... City Creek Center is really a beautiful mall (if you're into that kind of thing) so I was happy I got to see it...
After bumming around beautiful Temple Square for a while (which is never a disappointment), my waffle started wearing off so I decided to head back to the Bruges Waffles shop again for a late lunch. They advertise having "wonderfully crispy 'frites' or fries, with 10 delicious homemade mayos." Now, as anybody who has read this blog for even a little while knows, I am absolutely crave "patatjes met" (Dutch Fries with Dutch Mayo) and also love "frites avec mayo" (Belgian Fries with European Mayo). So this was kinda a no-brainer idea, right? Not really...
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 5
Patatjes Met? More like Patatjes Meh. First of all, the mayo is NOT creamy, delicious, Dutch/European-style mayonnaise with that delicious taste I love. Nope... it's no different than the clumpy, egg-flavored American mayo you get out of a jar. In fact, I would't be surprised if that's exactly what it is. The "homemade" stuff they're talking about must be American jar mayo mixed with spices or whatever. "Disappointed" doesn't even begin to cover it. But that's just the beginning, because then I got the "frites"...
They weren't "bad"... but they also weren't the big, crispy, golden frites you get in Belgium. Not by a long shot. Too many of the fries were limp, waggy, and overly-greasy. But making matters worse was that a full half of my frites were crusty little nubs that aren't fit for dipping... they're barely fit for eating...
BULLSHIT! Even the worst frites shop in Belgium would never serve this. I make better fries at home. Hell, McDONALDS makes better fries than this. The entire time I was eating this mess, all I kept thinking about was flying to Belgium and getting me some real frites. Or, better still, flying to the Netherlands and getting me some delicious patatjes met...
Oh damn. Just look at those beautiful fried potatoes! AND LOOK AT THAT LUSH, CREAMY, FLAVORFUL MAYO FOR GOD'S SAKE!!! This is the stuff you want!
Not wanting to risk any further disappointment, I headed back to my hotel so I could rest up and get some work done.
And now it's time to leave all my disappointment behind me so I can put some pants on and head out for an evening that promises to be anything but disappointing...
Am I doing the smart thing and packing my suitcase right now? No. Instead I'm here blogging... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Awarded! I pretty much think that all award shows are crap, but the MTV Movie Awards at least show stuff you want to see. Not just with the nominees, but also in the commercials, which featured looks at upcoming hot movies... including two I'm dying to see: Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. I think I've rewound and rewatched both spots on my DVR at least a half-dozen times now. Here's hoping they live up to the hype.
• Beebus! I know Justin Bieber is young and all... but holy shit...
I've been to the Anne Frank House. It is a very somber and emotional ordeal to experience how her family was forced to live and what they went through to survive. Once you've seen Anne's hopes and dreams on display throughout the museum, you're reminded that she ultimately didn't survive, and it's like a punch in the gut. You feel it.
But all Bieber seemed to take away from the experience was how cool it would be if she were alive today so she could be his fan. I honestly don't know if I should chime in on what a fucking moron he is... or just feel sorry for the little wanker being so blissfully clueless about anything except his own ego.
• Graze! In the UK they have a service which delivers healthy snacks directly to your mailbox once a week called "Graze." They're kind of famous for their olives, but they've got a pretty big assortment of nifty treats. Not so long ago, they launched here in the US, and I've been a member for the past twelve weeks. To make a long story short, it's probably not the greatest value for your money, as the four portions you get for $5 (delivered) are pretty small. That being said, I do like the variety and convenience...
Recently Graze sent out paper doll bunnies to their members(?!?). I have no idea why, as it seemed like a huge fucking waste of money. I would have been happier to get a dollar off my next box or something useful like that, but oh well.
About the only thing I don't like so far are their "flapjacks," which are a slimy granola bar of some kind. Other than that, everything is pretty decent. For some reason we Americans are denied the olives, but hopefully they'll be added at a later time. I think the service is still in beta, so signing up is limited to invite codes... but they should be launching for reals any time now. Might be worth checking out when they do.
• Coachella! Tonight OMD played Coachella and YouTube was streaming it live. While not quite the same experience as being there, I was really happy to see the show from the comfort of my living room...
Oh how I love this band. If you wanna take a look, YouTube may still have it up.
• Opener! Speaking of OMD, their opening act was a guy calling himself Diamond Rings. Surprisingly, his band exceeded my expectations in just about every way. Most of his music is inspired directly from 80's acts, and Marty and I spent his entire set tossing out which bands were the template for the song he was playing. I ended up buying his latest album off iTunes, as it has some good tracks...
If you're into 80's pop and looking for something new, Diamond Rings is worth a listen.
And... now I suppose I should pack that suitcase.
Still in pain. But instead of doping up and laying in bed, I doped up and went to work today. I figure if I'm going to be miserable, I might as well try and be productive.
It didn't go very well. I got some stuff done, but never felt like myself. Sometimes in the middle of a project I'd forget who I was and what I was doing. Then I'd have to start all over again, which is the opposite of productive. Oh well. At least my mind was taken of my brain exploding. Kinda.
In happier news, I bought a new heavy-duty KitchenAid mixer for making bread...
Previous loaves were mixed by hand... but I could never get the recipe-stated 7 cups of flour into the mix. My arms would start to die at 6 cups. But this mixer easily manages to take the 7 cups, which makes for a much nicer, more elastic dough.
And now for my review of the KitchenAid KV25MCX Mixer (which is a model made for Costco).
I have mixed feelings on this product, and really wish I had researched more before making my purchase. The only thing I did know was to make sure I got a "fixed-head" mixer instead of a "tilt-head" mixer. "Fixed-head" mixers are supposed to be more powerful, which is what you want when you are kneading bread. I also heard that KitchenAid was a high-quality, made in the USA brand.
The problem is that this model has a "wide" bowl, which is what you don't want when kneading bread. Apparently, wider bowls allow for too much slop, which makes the bread want to climb up the hook more easily instead of staying in the bowl. The problem is nowhere near as bad as I've read, but it does happen every once in a while during the mix. The good news is that wide bowls are better for just about everything else. Except I'm going to be using it for bread 95% of the time, so I guess I should have looked for a more appropriate model.
In non-bread-making news, the mixer is awesome. The wire whisk aerates like a champ. The flat beater is nicely designed to mix thoroughly, quickly, and with minimal mess. I like the controls. I thought I'd be unhappy not having a tilt-head, but the bowl-raise alternative isn't bad at all, even though it's a bit less convenient.
When it comes to build quality, my initial impression is favorable. It's looks tough and feels solid. KitchenAid claims the gears are metal, which should make for good longevity. The problem is that customer reviews claim that not all the gears are metal, and some people are reporting that their gears are stripping after 4-8 months of use. Needless to say, this would suck ass when I paid $330 for a professional, high-quality mixer. But KitchenAid has a one-year warranty, so hopefully I'm covered.
If I was starting all over again, I would have probably invested the extra $110 and got the Pro Series 600, which apparently excels at bread-making. Oh well. Live and learn, I guess.
The cost of a trip to the supermarket has reached such epic heights that I've developed a genuine fear of grocery shopping. The panic sets in the minute I enter the parking lot, and all I can think of is how I am not escaping for less than $50 no matter how little I have on my list. This is especially scary when you consider that I'm vegetarian, don't eat a lot, actively look for sale items, and buy the cheapest option whenever I can.
I have no clue how large families can afford to feed themselves now-a-days.
Guess I'm going to have to start buying in bulk, look into buying a FoodSaver, and start freezing everything.
Or start a garden.
Or beg for food in the streets.
For the past seven months I've been saving for a new camera and I finally ordered it today. It arrives tomorrow. But after my latest trip to the grocery store, I'm starting to wonder if I should have kept the money in savings so I can eat.
Priorities and all that.
Today I had to run some errands to the "Barbarian Village" of Leavenworth, Washington.
Well, actually it's billed as the "Bavarian Village" because it's a themed town meant to look like something out of the German Alps, but when the crowds of tourists arrive, it rapidly degenerates into something much more savage.
Anyway, I couldn't very well leave without some German food, so off I went for a bratwurst. Well, a veggie brat, but still... the best part is figuring out which mustard you want, because there's always at least a dozen on-hand...
I went with a more traditional "sweet & sour" because half the stuff is difficult to decipher (what the hell is "Backyard Brat" about?)...
Of course no faux-German sausage garden would be complete without freaky murals to keep you company while you eat...
And since one good thing leads to another, I could not resist stopping by the Danish Bakery for one of their glorious almond custard pastries...
After than I stopped at a chocolate shop because, ya know, it was there. Then I decided to head home while I still had insulin levels that were somewhat respectable.
All I'm missing now to make my day complete is some lederhosen.
I didn't know what could possibly top the Ke$ha concert last night, but darn if we didn't try!
After packing up all my crap and stowing my luggage, Becky picked me up for a day of fun and excitement that only Pittsburgh can offer.
Breakfast was at a cool, old-fashioned diner and consisted of crepe-pancakes, scrambled eggs, and Lyonnaise potatoes. If you're hungry in the morning, then Pamela's Diner is the place to go...
You just know that if there's a pink door it's gotta be good, right?
I could have spent an hour wandering around looking at all the knick-knacks and photos that cover the walls...
There may be two packs of smokes on the counter, but you still can't smoke in the restaurant!
After stuffing our faces, we wandered around the corner to The Strip District, which is an eclectic neighborhood packed with lots of cool shops, restaurants, and other wonders...
Who can resist taking a photo of a building with a giant chicken on it? Not me!
Just about everything in The Strip is interesting in one way or another.
A remnant of a time when helping the poor was considered a good thing.
At Wholey's Market, which is much like Disneyland with it's animatronic cows and pigs and such.
Becky takes her life in her hands when she gets friendly with the ferocious Wholey's Market Bear!
Happy piñatas at the Mexican market want you to beat them with a stick until their guts fall out. Sick!
Becky searches for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Hat at the Mexican market.
As we were walking back to Becky's car, I was compelled to stop at a mini-donut shop. Like most people, I don't possess the will-power to resist a freshly-made, warm, mini-donut that's straight from the hot oil...
If forced to choose between peace, love, or mini-donuts, I'd take the fucking donut.
If I had this job, I would weigh 700 pounds and have oil for blood.
As punishment for giving in to mini-donut temptation, Becky thought I needed to go to Church...
Surprise! It's The Church Brew Works, built in an actual old church building!
Yes, they are totally brewing beer where the church's altar once stood.
Mmmmm... beer! Becky came up with this great shot idea, I just copied her.
Becky spotted this sleepy moth hanging on for dear life in a flower bed outside The Church. He's scary-cute.
From there Becky decided to run out to Randyland, which is so interesting on its own that I'm saving the details from THAT visit for tomorrow's entry...
It's pretty remarkable in a photo, but really needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.
From here it was off to see Star Trek Into Darkness in IMAX OMNIMAX at the Carnegie Science Center.
Then it was time to get me out to the airport. But we simply couldn't say goodbye until we had one last beer. This time at Sharp Edge Creekhouse...
Yeah, that goose tap handle is pretty much the ultimate tap handle.
Earlier it was pointed out to me that I was hanging out with Princess Merida (from the Pixar movie Brave) all weekend. I had always thought of Becky as a QUEEN, but darn if it wasn't true...
And thus ends my perfect four days in Pittsburgh with the coolest of Disney's princesses.
Going back to Real Life ain't gonna be easy after this.
Don't go getting yourself blinded by the Super Moon... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Animal! I've been too busy to spend much time playing it, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released for the Nintendo 3DS. It's pretty much the exact same game as Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing: Wild World, and Animal Crossing: City Folk. Basically you run around catching fish, hunting bugs, harvesting fruit, collecting seashells, and other tasks... all so you can earn money to buy cool stuff for you and your house. Except this time the little character you take control of is mistaken for the mayor, so you have other responsibilities as well. It's fun and all... but if you've played any of the other games in the series, you've pretty much played this one...
That being said, it's still an entertaining way to kill some time each day. And the 3-D effects are done very well, which makes it visually interesting as well. If you've never played Animal Crossing before, this would be a good place to start. If you have? Well, if you didn't tire of it before, you probably won't mind playing it again.
• Twikies! And so Hostess has a new owner and is going to start distributing their snack-cakes once again come mid-July. This will mean nothing to me... unless they decide to at least try to have the appearance of healthy ingredients by eliminating the LARD from their products...
A switch to vegetable oil would mean that I can start eating Ding Dongs again after 23 years of avoiding them like the plague. And it might give them a fighting chance of surviving in a slightly more health conscience world where parents are not wanting to feed their kids LARD.
• Devious! I could never get into Desperate Housewives because it didn't really go anywhere and wasn't a very entertaining ride. Now creator Marc Cherry has come up with his next television distraction... Devious Maids. The cast is really good, so I had high hopes that this time it would be worth watching...
Sadly, after watching the first episode, it seems as though it's just going to be more of the same. Somebody's been murdered and everybody has secrets. I'm guessing they're just going to dance around everything for years until the show is so senseless and boring that they get canceled and have to slop together some answers. Again. No thanks.
• Equality! Here's hoping that the highest court in the land remembers what America is all about in the weeks ahead...
If nothing else, we could finally tell the equality opponents to take their ridiculous "arguments" against freedom and just shut up already. Though the parodies of their faux pain over something that doesn't even affect them are almost too good to give up...
Yeah, definitely going to miss that.
• Shiiiiiiiiit! I don't even know what to say about this...
People be crazy. People be crazy.
Annnnd... it's going to be a long week.
Yesterday morning I had to head back over the mountains early so I could make it to work on time. The drive is usually 2-hours, 15-minutes... but I always budget 2-1/2 hours just in case something weird happens.
Like some asshole in front of me deciding to drive 15 miles an hour under the speed limit while in a no-passing zone for 20-minutes.
Or, more likely, because I have to stop at McDonalds for breakfast. Which went something like this...
"Welcome to McDonald's! Would you like to try our new Egg White Delight McMuffin Sandwich?"
"What? — No. — Oh gross. No."
"Sorry, we have to ask. What can I get for ya?"
Now, I'm not doubting her word... I'm sure they really are required to ask people to try the Egg White Delight. My question is why? Do they expect that you'll order that hideous-sounding sandwich in addition to what you're already buying? That's not very realistic. Best case scenario is that you'll eat that egg white shit-sandwich instead of what you were already going to buy. Are they cheaper to make, thus more profitable or something? I doubt it. So I just don't get it.
Especially since the Egg White Delight McMuffin looks like this...
Oh hell no.
Because that photo comes directly from McDonalds where it was undoubtedly styled perfectly and still looks like shit. I can only guess how utterly awful it looks "in real life." The best part of an egg is the yolk, and I sure as hell ain't going to go for a sandwich without it. Go sell that disgusting, slimy, mass of vomit-inducing hell to somebody else, McDonalds.
And speaking of food styling... this is what I'm talking about...
From experience, I can tell you that a really good food stylist is worth their weight in gold. The better they are at making stuff look amazing, the less time you have to spend in Photoshop!
But even the best food stylist in the universe would have trouble making the Egg White Delight McMuffin look edible.
= shudder =
In order to save money on airfare, I flew into Atlanta a day early. Sure it meant getting up at 4:00am this morning, but the cost of flying is getting to be so outrageous that you do what you gotta do. The up-side was that I ended up getting into town at 2:00, which left me time to meet up with some Atlanta peeps for dinner.
And what a dinner it was...
Dante's Down the Hatch "Jazz and Fondue Restaurant and Club" has been an Atlanta institution for 43 years that I've never heard of. Which is odd, because it's fairly famous. It's a themed restaurant built around a "sailing ship" that's surrounded by live crocodiles. Kind of like dining in the middle of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, but without the animatronic pirates and stuff...
All this plus CHEESES OF THE WORLD!!!
The menu is a bit confusing. I thought I was ordering vegetable fondue, but it ended up being vegetables and a pot of boiling oil. But that didn't stop me from unintentionally stealing some of somebody else's cheese, which was delicious (Houston, I owe you dinner next time I'm in town!)...
The jazz was good. Really good. And since our table was inside the ship, we had a front-row seat!
All in all an awesome way to spend an evening. I'm sad that the place is closing at the end of the month, as I would have absolutely come here again.
Many thanks to blogger buddies (et al) The Muskrat, Whipstitch, Coal Miner's Granddaughter, Copasetic Beth, and Houston's Problem for strawberry daiquiri-infused dinner fun!
Pretty much the only thing on the agenda today...
I swear, if I lived here in DutchyLand, I'd undoubtedly weigh 600 pounds.
Say hello, wave goodbye... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Bad! I've been dreading the impending final episode of Breaking Bad for months. I love the show, didn't want it to end, and was worried sick that the writers would build everything up to a shitty, "artistic," non-ending ending like The Sopranos. Or, more recently, a shitty, shitty, non-ending ending like Dexter... both of which sucked ass. But, surprise, Vince Gilligan and the rest of the Breaking Bad crew actually pulled it off...
If the show had to end, this was a great way to do it.
• Go Martha! Heaven only knows I am no Martha Stewart fan... there are times I downright despise the woman... but her taking a stand against patent trolls has me cheering her on. If only we could get rid of these do-nothing, innovation-killing shit-bags for good.
• So Long! If somebody were to unfriend me for supporting my friends or family, then they were never my friend to begin with, and wouldn't be missed...
People who live in the past should be left there. If they remove themselves from the game, so much the better.
• Delicious! For those of you keeping up with my love/hate relationship with Earl of Sandwich, THE PHILADELPHIA AIRPORT LOCATION STILL HAS THE EARL VEGGIE ON THE MENU!!
A little saltier than I remember (I think they over-did the salt/pepper/spice mix) but still oh so delicious.
• High Society! Betty Who's "Somebody Loves You" is getting a lot of attention... but my favorite track off of her her "The Movement" EP is called "High Society." And seeing her perform it live in this video has now made seeing her in concert a priority for me...
If you haven't picked it up yet, The Movement EP is worth a listen.
And, I guess it's goodbye!
Before I get to the part of this post where everybody starts hating me, I just want to say that I think Genetically Modified Organisms (better known as "GMOs") are a horrible idea for our food supply.
Life on this planet has evolved over millions of years to create a delicate balance between we animals and the food we need to survive. To go mucking around with this balance by modifying the gene sequence of a crop so that it's stronger, more virile, tastier, and bug-resistance, is reckless, dangerous, and probably immoral. I don't care what the FDA says, we simply do not know enough about GMO foods to declare them "safe"... and the consequences of consuming such products could have dire health consequences that won't become clear for generations. The fact that numerous countries outside the USA consider GMOs to be unhealthy and have restricted their use (or outright banned them) should be a serious wake-up call to Americans about the foods we eat. Especially considering that a shocking 80% of processed foods in this country are estimated to contain GMO ingredients.
To put it another way, if you live in the USA and are not at least a little concerned about the GMOs that are plaguing our food supply with unknown consequences, you need to pull your head out of your ass.
Given my serious objections to the use of GMOs in our foodstuffs, you would think that I would be a big supporter of Washington State's Initiative 522... which would require all (non-exempt) GMO foods to be clearly and conspicuously labeled on the front of the package.
And yet... I am not.
Or rather I was not, because it looks like the initiative failed to get the votes it needed.
There are a lot of reasons I think that 522 is/was a bad piece of legislation.
First of all, have you actually read the thing? I have. It's just so absurdly written that after trying to parse my way through it... three times... I was left looking for the benefit to consumers. It's so inconsistent and incomplete as to be laughable. Genetically-modified fruits and vegetables would require labeling. But a steak coming from a cow that has been fed nothing but a diet of genetically-modified foods from birth to slaughter would not. This alone makes 522 a complete joke. If consumers believe everything GMO is labeled, and their meat choices were not, they would naturally assume that the meat had no GMOs. But here's the rub... if GMOs are so horrible for the health of people that it should be labeled, wouldn't it also be so horrible for the health of cows that any product coming from that cow should also be labeled? And what about fast food restaurants, arguably one of the biggest movers of GMO foods in existence? Oh... never mind... they are exempt from labeling laws! I mean, come on! This is absurd. Unless everything is labeled, then labeling a selected subset of our food supply renders the whole idea of forced-labeling for "The Public's Right to Know!" useless. And don't hand me this bullshit about "Something is better than nothing" and "It's a good start" because that is the stupidest damn response I've ever heard. That's the equivalent of saying "THREE OF THESE FOUR FOODS WILL KILL YOU! But we're only going to label ONE of them BECAUSE THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW!" And yet people buy into this crap hook, line, and sinker every time. Well, helpful hint... IT'S ALL OR NOTHING OR IT DOESN'T WORK!
Next up, the labeling is categorically unfair to manufacturers. And I'm not talking about the giant conglomerates like Kraft or Coca-Cola or Unilever or whatever... they manufacture such massively huge quantities of processed foods that making a packaging change would hardly cost a thing in the grand scheme of things. No, I'm talking about the thousands of small companies who sell food products in Washington State. To them, the cost of changing all their packaging (or adding a label to their existing packaging) is a pretty big expense. First of all, if they did go to the expense of changing their packaging (because it's cheaper than adding a label), odds are they would not be able to afford packaging exclusively for Washington State. Nope, the new packaging would be what they have to use to sell to all fifty states. So they would either A) Have to stop selling in Washington... or B) Have to splash "THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS GENETICALLY-MODIFIED INGREDIENTS" across their packaging, which would then have to sit on the shelf in California next to a competitor's product which doesn't say a damn thing about the GMOs in its contents... how is that fair? Well, it's not. I am sick and tired of people who consistently paint all food manufacturers as these massive corporations when it's decidedly not the case. Again, helpful hint... IT'S ALL (FIFTY STATES) OR NOTHING OR IT DOESN'T WORK!
And then... ultimately GMO labeling laws do nothing to help a significant portion of our society. Namely poor and elderly people who have to buy cheap food or they're not going to eat at all. Let's think about this for a minute. Say 522 gets passed, so a canned spaghetti manufacturer is forced to label their product because the noodles are made from GMO wheat and the tomatoes in the sauce are from GMO tomatoes. Now some 85-year old woman on a severely restricted income goes to the store and sees a can of friendly organic spaghetti at $2.69 sitting next to a can of scary GMO-laden spaghetti at $1.89. Do you honestly think she gives a flying fuck about GMOs when she barely has the money to buy food at all? But hey, at least she can make an informed buying decision! The process required to grow organic crops ain't cheap. And do you know why? Organic foods are ineligible for federal subsidies! That's right... apparently "organic" is categorized as some kind of "luxury" instead of a necessity... so organic farmers get no federal monies to help them out. So what they sell is actually the real cost of growing food. Take away the subsidies from Big Farm so they have to pay real costs, then make them responsible for the environmental impact of their business, then sit back and watch as GMO food prices increase to organic price levels. Hey, I have an idea! WHY DON'T WE ELIMINATE THE SUBSIDIES SO THERE'S A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD? Or, if we're going to do the whole subsidy thing, why not allow organic farmers to get a piece of the pork pie too? Then perhaps GMO labeling would actually mean something because consumers on fixed incomes would truly have a choice. Of course, taking on the demonic Special Interest Groups which work 24/7 to exclude small farmers from federal funding so Big Farm is consistently at an advantage won't be easy... and it sure as hell won't be cheap. Welcome to American politics!
Up next... GMOs, while certainly the subject of considerable concern, do not automatically make manufacturers, suppliers, or especially the farmers producing them... some kind of evil bastard out to kill you. Genetic modification is not something that is done for fun. There's a reason behind it. One significant "advance" (assumably) to food production was modifying plants to survive drought conditions. Questionable? Yes. Unhealthy? Possibly. But evil? Every time I see somebody play the "Evil Card," my eyes roll so far back in my head that they are in real danger of getting stuck there. Sure, I can buy into a corporation like Monsanto being evil... hell, they are beyond evil for the heinous shit they do... but using such inflammatory words to turn public opinion against farmers who are just trying to make a living by using seeds they are told are perfectly safe by the FDA? That just makes you an irresponsible asshole, NOT some kind of champion of the people.
And now, for the big gun... GMO labeling is completely unnecessary. Shocker, I know, but it's totally true! Do you know why? Because non-GMO and organic products are super trendy and hot right now. It's the fastest growing segment of food production by far because consumer demand is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Which means manufacturers who sell products without GMO ingredients would be insanely stupid to not make that claim as huge as possible on their packaging. And guess what? Manufacturers who sell products without GMO ingredients are not insanely stupid. THEY ARE ALREADY LABELING THEIR PACKAGING AS ORGANIC AS HUGE AS POSSIBLE! There's even symbols for organic certified products and non-GMO products to identify them. Hell, even pet food manufacturers let you know when their products are organic! There's so much "green" in the supermarket now-a-days, there's no way you can miss the organic bandwagon everybody is hopping on...
So, seriously, think about it. IF SOMETHING ISN'T LABELED AS "ORGANIC" OR "NON-GMO" THEN IT'S GOING TO CONTAIN GMO INGREDIENTS! This is all the information that shoppers need to make an informed buying decision if they are concerned about GMOs in the food they buy. But if this is the case, and people already know how to identify non-GMO foods, then why the big push to label products containing GMO ingredients? Because information by omission is just not good enough for the anti-GMO advocates. They want to scare people into buying organic, non-GMO foods with labeling laws because fear is the easiest way to manipulate the masses to supporting your agenda. It always has been. "But wait!" you may be saying, "Isn't that a good thing? GMOs are bad, right? So scaring people into eating healthier is okay!" Except... no. It's not. Leading people to make informed buying decisions is what's okay. Scaring them into doing your bidding... no matter how altruistic... is not okay. Should not be okay. Which brings me to the most damning condemnation of Initiative 522 yet... if you are so fucking concerned about GMO foods, then spend the money to educate people instead of manipulating them. Granted, there are going to be people too damn stupid or ignorant to get the message, but it's not like they were candidates for using mandatory labeling in the first place. Which brings us to...
Lastly (well, not "lastly"... I could go on and on here), Initiative 522 was destined to fail, so wasting millions of dollars trying to pass it is/was categorically stupid. Seriously, who thought that GMO abusers like Monsanto were just going to sit on their hands and do nothing while their bread and butter was being challenged? Anyone? Anyone? Of course not. Monsanto pumped millions of dollars into a counter-campaign, completely dominating the political landscape with their limitless funds. There was no question... none... that Monsanto and its confederates would spend whatever money necessary to smash Initiative 522 to pieces. And, given how incredibly badly the legislation was written, it's not like there wasn't boatloads of opportunities to turn public opinion to their favor. Initiative 522 was just a colossal waste of time and money and that's my biggest problem. Just think of what could have been done with all that cash wasted on an unwinnable battle!
And now is where you are probably saying to yourself... "Wow, Dave... if you were so dead-set against Initiative 522, why didn't you write this BEFORE the ballots were cast?"
Simple... I just didn't want the drama. There are many, many, hard-core advocates of GMO labeling (some of them good friends of mine), and dealing with the fall-out of writing an inflammatory opinion piece (no matter how unintentional) was more than I wanted on my plate. In my heart, I knew that 522 was going to fail (too much was at stake for Big Farm for it not to) and so what would be the point?
In closing, I'd just like to say that my opinion about genetic modification in our food supply still stands... we should not be doing it. Recklessly defying the millions of years of evolution and adaptation it took to get where we are is the height of hubris, and the possible consequences are just too dire. We need to spend more time and money trying to figure out how to get our food back to the natural state our bodies have evolved to consume instead of trying to solve our food supply problems with potentially hazardous genetic modification. We also need to spend more time and money educating people as to why this is important. Initiative 522 was never about either of those things. It was a mis-use of funds for a campaign of manipulation, unfairness, and inevitable failure that distracted people from what is truly important. Even worse, once all the cards have been counted it probably set back the cause of the pro-organic foods movement.
That's a shame, really. But it's not like politics ever aspire to be anything more than that now-a-days.
This morning I stopped by the mini-mart so I could get a bean-n-cheese burrito for breakfast.
I know that sounds odd, but it's not really the burrito I'm after at 8:00am... it's the ketchup. And since I don't like ketchup on breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, Captain Crunch cereal, or any other "traditional" breakfast foods, a bean-n-cheese burrito it is.
Alas, much to my horror, they were out of bean-n-cheese burritos.
And you know how hard it is to get something out of your head once you've got a taste for it.
So most of my day was spent trying to concentrate on work while my head didn't want to think about anything except how I was going to satisfy my craving for ketchup. I thought about running to get French fries at lunch but, when it comes to condiments, I'd rather have mayonnaise on my fries.
That I ended up eating a packet of ketchup left over from the last time I had a bean-and-cheese burrito is neither here nor there.
The important point is that I was finally able to focus on work.
At least until my craving for saltwater taffy kicked in.
Don't give another thought to your impending doom... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Einstein. You know how somebody comes out with a product you just love, so you buy and buy and buy... fully expecting to get sick of it, but all that happens is you end up loving it more? That was me when it came to Kraft "Bagel-fuls." These delicious bits of amazing are pre-cooked bagels wrapped around cream cheese (and other fillings) then frozen. You keep them in your refrigerator, then pop them in your toaster when you have a bagel craving. The brilliant part? The outside is deliciously crispy while the cream cheese stays cool. Truly an amazing product, and I ate them constantly...
Until they were discontinued. I couldn't find them anywhere.
Then, like a miracle, Bagel-fuls mysteriously reappeared in my grocer's freezer... but now they're branded as coming from Einstein Bros. Bagels. Regardless, they're the same thing and taste as amazing as ever. Now everybody needs to go to their local grocery store and buy every box so that they don't get discontinued again. Thanks!
• LEGO. At long last, the follow-up to LEGO
If you've played any of the LEGO video games before, this is pretty much more of the same... but with some nice upgrades in play mechanics and graphics. For the most part, it's an amazing game that's just as good as
IMPORTANT... I should note that the reviews for the Nintendo 3DS version of LEGO Marvel Superheroes are really bad. I bought a copy because I love LEGO on the go gaming... but I returned it unopened the minute the reviews started pouring in. This is really sad given the quality of other 3DS LEGO games (save Lord of the Rungs, which is a rare exception), and I wonder how something like this happens given how great Batman 2 was. Oh well. Money saved and all that.
• Kermit. I admit that I am not a big fan of the post-Henson Muppets... but holy cow does this look like fun...
Count me in!
• LAIKA. Speaking of fun... the stop-motion animated film ParaNorman was on sale for Halloween and I had heard good things about it, so I grabbed it. For reasons unknown, I only got around to watching it now. It's absolutely beautiful. Between this and films like Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, stop-motion-animation just keeps blowing me away. Bravo LAIKA Studios...
Interestingly enough, this cartoon was considered "controversial" when it was released because one of the lead characters ends up being gay. I kept waiting for the kid-inappropriate graphic gay sex scene, but it never came. All I saw was one quick throw-away joke about a character's sexuality at the end, and that was it. So, apparently, just the fact that gay people are acknowledged to exist in a cartoon is enough to spark controversy. The only thing controversial to me is that idiots who find this controversial n the year 2013.
• Hunger. And, while we're on the subject of movies... THIS has to be the funniest movie review I've ever seen...
The Onion strikes again! When it comes to The Funny, they consistently knock it out of the park.
And... another Bullet Sunday slides into the sweet abyss.
I finally made it to Taco Bell so I could try their new "Cinnabon Delights"... which are little balls of dough that are filled with Cinnabon frosting, then rolled in cinnamon-sugar. Kind of a faster-food version of a fast-food version of a cinnamon roll.
When I first heard of them, my reaction was to say "God exists. And he's working at Taco Bell. I love stuff like this... totally bad for you, yet utterly delicious. Much like so many things on Taco Bell's menu (Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, anyone?).
Here is what got me so excited...
Even the photo is orgasm-inducing.
But how does reality stack up?
First of all, none of my bites were filled with hot frosting goo as shown in the ads...
They were kind of mooshy inside... like the frosting goo had been absorbed or something. Maybe they had been sitting out too long? But they did taste like there was Cinnabon frosting inside, so I guess that's what's important.
But the bigger problem with these things is the texture. The sugar crystals are a bit big, so they add a grainy gritty feeling when you take a bite. Do not like. If they could fix this, I'd probably enjoy them a lot more because the flavor is pretty decent.
In the meanwhile, I'll just track down a Cinnabon shop when I have a craving for cinnamony goodness.
Of course the nearest Cinnabon is just over two hours away, so maybe time constraints or desperation will have me cruising Taco Bell after all.
Such is my lot in life.
Times to put down that snow shovel and grab a mug of delicious hot chocolate... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thrice Nine. I am very happy to announce that today we have released the ninth issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine, featuring a bevy of talented writers and artists all wrapped up in this stunning cover by the amazingly talented Katelin Kinney...
Do yourself a favor and go download a FREE copy at the THRICE Fiction website... you'll be glad you did!
• Light. If I ever come up lacking blog fodder, all I have to do is drive down Wenatchee Avenue (the main drag running the entire length of the city of Wenatchee). Today I nearly ran over a guy crossing the street against the light while hauling a filled body bag! Filled with what, I have no idea. But that's not all, as I also saw... two white guys poppin' and lockin' on a street corner... a woman in a motorized wheelchair dragging a wagon filled with Christmas presents... a little girl twirling like she just don't care in front of an Indian restaurant... Santa Claus... a guy in shorts and a fur parka sitting on the trunk of his(?) car smoking a cigarette and drinking from a giant coffee mug... AND this...
It says "CHURCH THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"... but they drew a streaming pile of shit in the middle of it? Which is covering the secondary brake light, rendering it useless. Oh... and if you think that I managed to get into Denny's at 2:30 on the Sunday before Christmas? NO! No I did not! Which makes me sad, because that Hobbit Specialty Menu ain't gonna last forever.
• Mango! I'm a Kool-Aid kid. I would rather have a cold glass of Kool-Aid than soda pop any day. Tropical Punch is my favorite flavor, but I try to shake things up by making classic flavors like Orange, Grape, Lemon-Lime, and Watermelon. I also have tried specialty flavors that pop up from time to time like Purplesaurus Rex, Arctic Green Apple, and Sharkleberry Fin. And then this week I found Mango, which I almost skipped because I worried it would be too weird like the Pineapple flavor I tried last month. But, sanity prevailed, and I thought I'd give it a try...
Delicious! Really good color, aroma, and flavor! If you like mango, then this is absolutely worth a shot.
• Reel. I've mentioned a couple times how I'm really stoked to see the Russian film Stalingrad, which takes place during World War II in the middle of one of the bloodiest battles in world history. The trailer looks absolutely amazing, even though I'm not a big fan of war movies. And now they've released a special effects real showing how they were rendered for 3-D. It's pretty mind-blowing...
Needless to say, I want to see the movie now more than ever. I guess it's in limited release, because I haven't seen it playing anywhere yet. It'll be a pretty big bummer if it leaves theaters before I can see it.
• Bittersweet. On one hand, New Mexico and Utah have joined the marriage equality bandwagon...
On the other hand, Uganda has passed an "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" which mandates life in prison for anybody having gay sex. I suppose we should all be thankful that the punishment wasn't set to "death," which was their original idea for a sentence. But I'm too busy being absolutely horrified. Even more so because anti-gay abominations of humanity here in the USA played a part in it. The very ideal of "The United States of America" is one of a beacon of freedom and hope known throughout the world. What in the hell happened? Our government is spying on its own people. We're passing horrific laws allowing the indefinite unlawful detention of American citizens. Our politicians are bought and paid for by Special Interest money with no consideration given to the people they profess to serve. Our media so thoroughly polarizes us that we've become a country hopelessly divided in venom and hate. And now? Now? We have assholes so filled with blind hatred and homophobia that they're exporting it to other countries because their efforts are finally failing here at home. Hardly a new concept, to be sure, but still fucking abhorrent given that these people are professing to be spreading hate in the name of religion. God bless America.
Because somebody has to.
• Pass. And lastly, in what I can only describe as a Christmas miracle come early, BARRY EFFIN' GIBB actually made an effin' appearance on The Barry Gibb Talk Show on last night's surprisingly funny Saturday Night Live...
Ordinarily, I wouldn't spoil the surprise like this, but... 1) he's right there on the video frame, and 2) The show featured guest host Jimmy Fallon and musical guest Justin Timberlake... was there any question that The Barry Gibb Talk Show wasn't going to make an appearance? Not the best installment of the long-running sketch, but certainly one of the most eventful! And a sad reminder that Robin Gibb is no longer with us, having died May last year.
And... time to make some holiday magic happen, people...