Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Googling Allowed!

After last night's escapades, I think I'm going to make it an early night tonight. So, instead of being boring and posting another YouTube clip, I'm going to post five, count 'em FIVE trivia questions from the new trivia book Goof sent me in the mail today. I won't mention the name of the book until I post the answers (I wouldn't want you to go run to the store and look 'em all up) but, needless to say, being the trivia hound that I am, I'm thrilled with Mr. FedEx man's most recent delivery.

The first person to correctly answer all five questions will receive some sort of prize for me which I haven't thought of yet. Prize expense will probably be determined by how much I like you. If I don't like you at all, I'll just say you cheated, provide no real evidence and disqualify you anyway. Sounds fair, right? Good. Ready? Here we go:
  1. What type of insect is kept in apiaries?
  2. Only three American presidential candidates won at least 520 electoral votes in their race for the White House. Who are they and how many votes did they get?
  3. How long have people cooked with chili peppers?
  4. Why should you be concerned if your elderly grandparent suddenly likes Rock and Roll?
  5. For what activity is baseball player Moe Berg best known?
Answers will be given in a future post along with the title of the book these questions came from. Good Luck, all you Cliff Claven wannabes!


Friday, June 29, 2007

Poop Airways

I hate getting up on a soapbox (so it therefore makes perfect sense for me to have a blog) but I feel I can no longer stay silent on this issue. It is time for me to hate on Continental Airlines.

Why here? Why now? Easy. I'm supposed to pick my sister and her family up at the airport - or rather, I was supposed to pick them up at the airport yesterday, but they've been stranded in Newark, NJ.

Now, some of it is the airport's fault (I've known from my days working in the travel industry to stay well away from Newark and Atlanta airports - delays like you wouldn't believe) but I, and now my sister, have had several bad travel experiences, and Continental has always been at the center of them.

Will you allow me to entertain you with a few travel horror stories? They'll be quick, I promise (unless of course, my sisters flight is delayed again. Then we might be here for a while.)
  • In 1999, I am flying from London to Boston via Newark on Continental (unfortunately I was rebooked on this flight, and flying through Newark was unavoidable.) I get pulled out of line twice (not Continental's fault, but it's part of the experience) and searched by London's finest. I imagine this is because I have both an Irish and an American passport (dual citizenship), long hair, a surly attitude, and at the time smoked like a chimney (which you could still do at Gatwick airport.) They probably thought I was an Irish terrorist. Anyway, we get to Newark without issue, but when I arrive I'm required to collect my bag so I have it with me when I go through customs. I do so, and when I finish, I put the bag on a conveyor belt for the trip to Boston, making it the last time I ever saw it. After six months and constant complaints, inventorying, and check-ins, Continental reimburses me $500 and calls it a day. Oh, and that flight out of Newark was delayed for three hours.
  • In March of '06 I fly Continental from Boston to Houston (first class on the way down thanks to the generosity of my cousin Brian who was using his miles to pay for the trip as a birthday present.) The flight down is delayed by an hour. The flight back by two. Otherwise, they were both very pleasant flights with good service.
  • This next one doesn't involve me, or anyone I know, at all but it seems so ridiculous that I had to mention it. Two weeks ago, an eight hour non-stop flight from Amsterdam to Newark ended up being a 32 hour ordeal with an unexpected layover in Shannon Airport in Ireland. That's not the worst part. Once they finally got airborne to Newark, the passengers had to deal with toilet sewage overflowing into the cabin (that link goes to the Boing Boing coverage of the story which provides several more links, including lengthy written accounts of the whole ordeal.
  • Yesterday, my sister is returning home with her family from a vacation to Europe and are flying from Barcelona to Boston via Newark on Continental. As the plane approaches Newark, they discover they're not allowed to land due to congestion and potential thunderstorms. The plane is instructed to circle until they're given the all clear to land. Unfortunately, the plane didn't have enough fuel to circle, so it was diverted to Newburgh, NY where it could refuel, and then proceed back to Newark, which it does. Unfortunately, however, almost everyone on the plane who had a connecting flight has now missed it, including my sister and her family. When attempting to rebook they find that all flights to Boston are canceled due to thunderstorms (which certainly didn't take place in Boston last night, although they may have in Newark - I'm not sure. When I talked to my sister yesterday, however, it was bright and sunny.) The earliest flight they could get booked onto was for 7:00 PM this evening. All well and good, however as you'll have noticed earlier in this post, I still haven't picked them up. The arrival time has been pushed back at least six times since it's scheduled departure - three of those coming since I started writing this post. The reasons given by the airline were that they were waiting for the plane to arrive from another flight, and when it finally did, they then had to wait for the crew - coming in from another flight - to show up. I have - just this minute (10:33 PM) - received a text message from my sister saying "Finally leaving!" and the flight status page on Continental's website indicates an arrival time as 11:43 PM, but it still lists the flight as "delayed."
OK - so looking back on it, this isn't so much a "hate on Continental" as it is an explanation of previous experiences with the airline, and my expressing an extreme reluctance to fly on the airline again given them (I could conceivably fly them to Houston again, if Brian wanted to provide the ticket. Ahem. Blatant hint there... Oh, hey there, gift horse! Nice mouth!) I understand that bad airline experiences are a common occurrence and that everyone has one - on every airline - but there are too many incidents here to ignore, and I think I'm finally getting the hint. Thanks for letting me vent, amigos. Until mañana.

[Update 06/30/07 - 02:10 AM: Just got home after dropping sister and family off at her place. She thought I should mention that Newark Airport was almost entirely to blame for her travel woes over the past couple of days - particularly this evening. They brought all ground traffic to a halt which is why both the plane and the crew couldn't get there in time. So, apologies to Continental for the rush to judgment. But, I still want my suitcase back.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Yawn.... THUD!

Sorry boys & girls, it's been a VERY long day today and, quite frankly, I can't be bothered to type up anything. I'm feeling tired and grumpy, and it's occasions like this when I normally tell people to piss off. BUT, since you're (mostly) all fun and I like you, I'll stick to the YouTube. Besides, I could use a laugh myself. We have here two classic skits from everyone's favorite British comedy troupe. Both of these start out strong and then kind of tail off, but no matter, they're still well worth it. Enjoy, and see you tomorrow.

The Dead Parrot Sketch:

The Argument Clinic:

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday Is Rotten Spaghetti Day

Would it surprise you to know that I have a Rachael Ray cookbook? Would it surprise you even more to know that I whipped up a recipe this evening using it? Would it further surprise you to know that I'll be watching Top Chef in, oh, just about a half hour from now?

Have I lost every shred of masculinity I once had? I mean, c'mon... Rachael Ray??? Top Chef??

Well - you can thank my mother for the cookbook. It was a gift she won in a Christmas grab which she had no use for, and as such, gave to me, the aspiring cook. And, believe it or not, it's pretty useful. Despite what you may think of Ms. Ray (Did you know she now does ads for Dunkin' Donuts? Dunkin' Donuts!!!) the cookbook is actually darn good and has some great (and thankfully, rather easy) recipes in it. Tonight, I made, what for me is becoming an old standby, a 15 minute vegetable stoup which included both green and cannellini beans, zucchini, celery, carrots, garlic, onions, vegetable stock, fresh basil, and (optionally) red pepper flakes. Understand that for me to not screw up a recipe with even minimal complexity is a MAJOR accomplishment - and by complexity I mean more than two vegetables. So, if you'll forgive me, I'm going to pat myself on the back, while thanking all of you who post your culinary expertise in the comments.

As for Top Chef, well Goof's to blame for that. Once, during a visit to New Orleans, just as we were about to head out to the French Quarter, she glanced over at the TV, stopped in her tracks and said simply, "Oh, Top Chef's on. I love this show." And that was that.

Well, that's not ALL that. You see, I got hooked too, dammit. And now I, Eric, the guy who wouldn't watch a TV series other than Red Sox baseball (nevermind a REALITY TV show) am sitting down every Wednesday to see which chef can cook the crappiest dish and get sent home. Unfortunately, Goof's a little irritated with this season because the only two Southerners on the show were also the first two to get the boot. Naturally, she thinks her fellow Confederates are being unfairly targeted - particularly since there are two loathsome New Yorkers still left (and I do mean loathsome - attitude, accent, the whole package.) But it's still fun to make fun of the contestants over IM while watching what happens. Kind of ridiculous drama, but sometimes that's the most fun.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tuna tartar to visually critique. Ciao!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You Gets No Bread With One Meatball

Errands and a desire to get into bed at a reasonable hour prevent me from posting anything of length tonight. However, it's times like this when Boing Boing and YouTube save the day.

We have here two rather rare videos of blues artist Josh White, whom I'm familiar with from my days working the board during the late night Blues show at my college radio station. Watching/listening to these bits makes me wonder why I didn't pay more attention to him at the time.

This first video is one of him singing 'John Henry' (no, not the current Red Sox owner) with Burl Ives (he of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and 'Holly Jolly Christmas' fame), Will Geer & Winston O'Keefe. Some great video/sound quality for a YouTube video, much less one that was originally filmed in 1941.

Sadly, I'm not able to embed the next clip in the blog - I can only link to it - but trust me, it's a good'un (and also where I got the post's title.) Josh White singing 'One Meatball.' Some more excellent stuff.

I love these old timey musical performances - particularly those of blues and jazz musicians. Netflix will be shipping me the Ken Burns' Jazz series soon which I'm hoping will be chock full of them. Although, Disc 1 seems to have gone mysteriously missing on their end so I might have to get it from the public library.

Anyway, if you're into this type of stuff too, you might want to check out 'The Real Blues Archive' also located on YouTube. It contains over 600 videos of live Blues performances - many of them utter gems. Enjoy.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

What Now, Farmer Jones?!?

You can keep your chipmunk. Now, THIS is funny.

The image you see below looks like it could be a photo of one of the many crop formations "mysteriously" found on farms all over England and New Zealand, and most notably, on the cover of the first Led Zeppelin box set (which I still own - on cassette - and is currently in storage under my bed.)

Some would have you believe these formations are caused by aliens, and were it still 1990, I might have been naive enough to fall for such an argument (although apparently, some people still are.) As the link above shows however, crop circles have long been considered to be hoaxes - albeit very artistically pleasing ones.

Or, at least, most of them are. Alas, the crop formation you see below wasn't created by an artist's collective, or even an alien being. Rather, it was masterfully etched in corn by a cocaine addict in Holland who apparently would stop at nothing to evade police capture. He drove his father's car into the field and created the masterpiece you see before you now - completely ruining the farmer's crop in the process.

I really shouldn't be chuckling so much. After all, this is someones livelihood. It's just that I could so clearly envision the proverbial old farmer in the straw hat - blade of wheat between his teeth - coming out to find his crop in such a mess, and throwing a fit - like something out of the cartoons I used to watch as a kid. But still, the farmer may yet get his day in the sun. I propose that Linkin Park, or some other band equally full of suckitude, release their own box set and throw this photo on the cover, giving the farmer a portion of the royalties. Not only would it be incredibly fitting, symbolically showing the distinct difference between the two bands and clearly indicating which is superior, but it would sell like hotcakes making everyone happy - most of all Farmer Jones. Sound good? Good. And we call the war on drugs a failure...

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Alvin, Simon or Theodore?

This is currently making the rounds as the "funniest video on the Internet." Personally, I don't see what makes it that amusing, but given that I can be a bit of a grump on even my best days, I guess I won't argue with the masses on this one. And, while I won't agree with those who give it the above mentioned title, even I'll admit it's worth a chuckle.

Oh, and one other thing. People seem to incorrectly be calling this little guy a chipmunk. I know what a chipmunk looks like, having seen my Dad spend countless hours trying to catch them in his backyard. THAT, my friends, is no chipmunk. Prairie Dog, maybe. Chipmunk, no. But, we can always imagine.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Vive Le Brabançonne!

A map of the United States with each state renamed for countries with similar Gross Domestic Products.

I, for one, am a proud Belgian, and will fight for the glory of my beloved Brussels Red Sox. Further, I shall smite any naysayers with my sword and shiv. So there.

Just reinforces what my junior year Economics teacher said:

"You live in one of the richest corners, of one of the richest corners, of one of the richest corners of the world. Never forget that and always be grateful."

Hear! Hear!

Incidentally, I had a good friend in college who was from Belgium (for real), and you wouldn't believe how many people, when informed of this, responded to her with, "Oh, so you speak Belgian, then?"

I fear to speculate on what that map might look like if the states were renamed for areas with similar education levels. I suspect half of the country would be called Antarctica.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Boxing Nationalists

Just a quick check-in today as I don't have a whole lot of time to write much. Got to finish up what's left in the Inbox this Friday, and then head out to see The National at the Middle East. They are the hip band du jour these days, and are quietly selling out venues left and right.

It should be a fun show. I expect to see lots of twenty-somethings in dark, thick-rimmed glasses and corduroy pants who "strongly oppose" lots of cultural and political norms they feel are being forced upon them, and who are deeply moved by the profundity of the artistic display to which they are witness.

Musically, I don't really know what to expect. I've listened to their newest album, The Boxer, only once, and enjoyed it very much in that one listen, but am not all that familiar with the rest of their work. But, I'm always up for new music, and since I've liked what I've heard thus far, I predict a thoroughly enjoyable set. Call me an optimist. And if it isn't? It'll still have been worth the $14 dollars spent. I just like seeing live music.

Anyway, if you're interested, the first link above points to the NPR live concert series page where they are featured. You can hear their performance in Washington D.C. from a couple of days ago (I think it's the whole set - I'm not sure as I haven't listened) and it looks like there's an interview with the band as well. Enjoy and Happy Friday!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

At The Movies: Part Three (I Think)

The American Film Institute has updated it's "100 Greatest American Films" list to accommodate the efforts released after their first list was introduced (I've forgotten when that actually was, although I want to say 1998 or so.) So, because I feel like it, I shall post the list here and include in bold those that I've actually seen. The first number in parentheses is obviously the year that the film was released. The second number is where the film fell on the previous version of the list. I've also included my own commentary where appropriate. Special thanks to Edward Copeland's blog, where I found the list to begin with (and where I subsequently stole it from):

1. Citizen Kane (1941) (1) - Hey! Nice sled!

2. The Godfather (1972) (3) - Still don't see what the fuss was about, but I admittedly need to watch it again.

3. Casablanca (1942) (2) - Thought I was gonna hate it. Loved it. Great film.

4. Raging Bull (1980)(24) - THIS is the highest rated Scorcese film? Man, I could think of three others that could take it's place. Still good, though.

5. Singin' in the Rain (1952)(10) - Been awhile. Forgot most of it.

6. Gone With the Wind (1939)(4) - If you're gonna be stupid enough to name a house, why the hell would you pick something as plain as 'Tara?' I'd have gone with Mildred, myself.

7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)(5) - Yawn.

8. Schindler's List (1993)(9) - Rewatched it recently. Excellent and powerful... but #8?

9. Vertigo (1958)(61) - NOT to be trifled with. My man Alfred is all over this list. Incidentally, I'd have swapped this with Rear Window, further down.

10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)(6) - Take a hit and then start 'Dark Side' at the third roar of the MGM lion, dude.

11. City Lights (1931)(76)

12. The Searchers (1956)(96) - Hope they found it.

13. Star Wars (1977)(15) - What can you get a wookie for Christmas (when he already owns a comb?) - Track #4

14. Psycho (1960)(18) - Coming, mother!

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)(22) - Another artsy fartsy film that I thought would suck, but ended up loving. Paved the way for all space related sci-fi to come.

16. Sunset Boulevard (1950)(12)

17. The Graduate (1967)(7)

18. The General (1927)

19. On the Waterfront (1954)(8) - Have it at home from Netflix now. Will probably watch it tomorrow.

20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)(11) - Mah mouth's bleedin', Burt! Mah mouth's bleedin! Should be #1 - no question.

21. Chinatown (1974)(19)

22. Some Like It Hot (1959)(14) - but they don't know how hot 'til they try! (Bum, Bum! Bum, Bum! Bum, Bum, Bum, Bum, BUM!)

23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)(21) - Gee Willikers, Martha! Them grapes sure are angry! - I won't watch this until I've read the book, which might happen in 2043.

24. E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)(25) - A tad overrated, but man it rocked my world when I was, like, five.

25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)(34) - I'm still afraid of Boo Radley, but I LOVE this film.

26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)(29)

27. High Noon (1952)(33) - Sounds like college.

28. All About Eve (1950)(16) - Hey! I didn't know porn was allowed on the list.

29. Double Indemnity (1944)(38) - Really, just a plain old indemnity would have sufficed, but I love the noir aspect of it all.

30. Apocalypse Now (1979)(28) - Now? You mean NOW now or 1978 now? Either way, I call bullshit.

31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)(23) - Dashiell Hammett. Word.

32. The Godfather Part II (1974)(32) - Think this placement'll cause a riot? Me too.

33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)(20)

34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)(49) - Grumpy lives.

35. Annie Hall (1977)(31)

36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)(13)

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)(37)

38. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)(30) - Blech. Shouldn't have made it at all, much less this high.

39. Dr. Strangelove (1964)(26) - Classic line: Gentleman, you can't fight in here! This is the war room! Love it.

40. The Sound of Music (1965)(55) - The hills are still alive.

41. King Kong (1933)(43)

42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) (27)

43. Midnight Cowboy (1969)(36)

44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)(51)

45. Shane (1953)(69)

46. It Happened One Night (1934)(35) - Well, that clears things right up.

47. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)(45) - Sucked. Screw Brando. He's King Shit because he knows how to scream, "Stella!" like a hyena?

48. Rear Window (1954)(42) - Must see, even if it does sound raunchy.

49. Intolerance (1916)

50. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - Wow. Deserving, but I thought this was the worst of the trilogy.

51. West Side Story (1961)(41) - OK, answer me something. When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying day, right? So... is it possible to have a first dying day, then? How 'bout a third?

52. Taxi Driver (1976)(47) - Hell yeah, I'm talkin' to you! SHUT UP!

53. The Deer Hunter (1978)(79)

54. MASH (1970) (56)

55. North by Northwest (1959)(40) - Probably my least favorite Hitchcock film on this list. Good crop dusting scene, though.

56. Jaws (1975)(48) - Gotta plug the Bunnies again.

57. Rocky (1976)(78)

58. The Gold Rush (1925)(74)

59. Nashville (1975)

60. Duck Soup (1933)(85)

61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)

62. American Graffiti (1973)(77)

63. Cabaret (1972)

64. Network (1976)(66)

65. The African Queen (1951)(17)

66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)(60)

67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) - Will someone tell me what this movie is about, please? I'm sick of hearing about it. Even now.

68. Unforgiven (1992)(98)

69. Tootsie (1982) (62)

70. A Clockwork Orange (1971) (46)

71. Saving Private Ryan (1998) - Never got the credit it deserved. Everyone was too shocked by the first 10 minutes. A FANTASTIC film.

72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - My favorite film on the list, and a welcome addition.

73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)(50)

74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)(65) - Everybody do the Buffalo Bill dance!

75. In the Heat of the Night (1967) - Foul Owl on the Prowl! (How many people got that? Raise your hands!)

76. Forrest Gump (1994)(71) - Deah God, make me a bird, so ah kin fly fah. Fah, fah off'n this here list.

77. All the President's Men (1976) - couldn't put Humpty together again.

78. Modern Times (1936)(81)

79. The Wild Bunch (1969)(80)

80. The Apartment (1960)(93)

81. Spartacus (1960) - I, Spartacus! No, I Spartacus! - Oh wait, I mean Claudius

82. Sunrise (1927)

83. Titanic (1997) - Iceberg! Right ahead! We like Kate Winslet here at Murky Words.

84. Easy Rider (1969)(88) - Stupid hippies.

85. A Night at the Opera (1935)

86. Platoon (1986)(83)

87. 12 Angry Men (1957) - That's right! A-N-G-R-Y, ANGRY! Another favorite of mine.

88. Bringing Up Baby (1938)(97) - Hey, yo! Baby is brought UP!

89. The Sixth Sense (1999) - Wow. I liked it, but, just... wow. Shocking placement.

90. Swing Time (1936)

91. Sophie's Choice (1982) - Pick me, Sophie! Pick me! I kick ASS in dodgeball!

92. GoodFellas (1990)(94) - Should be in the top 10. Rally against this injustice!

93. The French Connection (1971)(70) - Rented it a year ago. Fell asleep 3/4 of the way through. Loved the afro's though.

94. Pulp Fiction (1994)(95) - Should have cracked the top 40. Samuel L. Jackson's performance is sheer brilliance.

95. The Last Picture Show (1971) - Well, I guess we're ALL screwed then. No more lists!

96. Do the Right Thing (1989) - MOOKIE! Why you gotta play me like 'dat! MOOKIE!!! That's enough, Rosie. Thanks. Really.

97. Blade Runner (1982) - I saw the blade. It ran. End of story.

98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) (100)

99. Toy Story (1995) - No way does this belong up here. Before The Little Mermaid? Please.

100. Ben-Hur (1959)(72) - Great for sore leg muscles.

So, by my count, that's 56 movies on this list that I've seen, including all of the top 10. Not bad, but I'm still going to make an effort to see even more of them. Since I'm the worst film critic I know, I'm in no position to really say how good of a list this is, so I'll assume they know what they're talking about, and let you voice your opinion in the comments. How many have you folks seen? Anything not included that should have been or vice versa? Whither Trainspotting or When Harry Met Sally? Have at it, folks. I'll catch you tomorrow.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sweet Scottish Sorrow

Back in '99, when I was working for an educational tour company, I had an opportunity to participate in one of their tours as an employee perk. The tour I chose was basically a whirlwind trip through England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and, overwhelming though it was, it was an incredibly enjoyable trip. I had a blast in London, despite it's crowds, it's litter, it's weather, and it's rudeness. It just had so much to offer. In fact, it was probably a lot like New York in a lot of respects, except because it wasn't New York, I didn't have to hate it. Quite the opposite, in fact.

And then there was Edinburgh. Oh, Edinburgh... We got there by taking an overnight sleeper train from London (which I, of course, didn't sleep on - I was too busy looking out the window, and hitting the beverage car for pints of Smithwicks), but I distinctly remember being in a grumpy ass mood and not particularly wanting to go (I thought it would be nothing but a city of industry and unintelligible accents), but then pulling into Waverly Station, looking up on a dreary early morning and seeing the towering monument to Sir Walter Scott, followed by Edinburgh Castle, and absolutely falling in love with the place, right there on the spot.

And, in the two times I've been back since, my opinion of the city hasn't changed one bit. In fact, I told myself that I would make a concerted effort to live there at some point - maybe to settle down, maybe not. I mean, who knows? I could be unemployed and hanging out writing in the Princes St. cafe's. Next thing you know I'm a top selling author, a la J.K. Rowling. Thanks, Edinburgh!


But, I still need some practice first. And, anyway it now looks as if it'll be a lot harder to get there, damn it all. Mercer HR has just released it's Top 50 Most Expensive Cities to live in list. Edinburgh (thank Christ) did not make the cut, but depressingly enough, London did (at #2... #2!!!!) and Glasgow - Edinburgh's chief rival for the title of Scottish City Supreme - chimed in at #36, jumping up all the way from #60. And although Edinburgh didn't make the list, you can bet it's not very far behind. For purposes, of comparison, Boston didn't make the list either, and this city is RIDICULOUSLY priced - same with San Francisco. In fact, the only U.S. cities to make the list were New York (another reason why it sucks) and Los Angeles (I kinda like L.A., so I'll give it a mulligan. Wouldn't live there though, not unless I wanted black lung from all the smog.)

So, unless I get some major dinero very very soon, Boston it shall be for the foreseeable future, unless... well, I hear New Orleans is pretty cool. Anyone got an in there? Heh.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Asian Curry Spice & Jelly?

In the interest of saving some cash, I've taken to brown bagging my lunch and bringing it with me to work. It's really nothing special, and if you were to look inside yon brown bag, you'd definitely think my mother had packed it for me (except for one key difference - I don't put canned fruit in sterile urine specimen containers, pilfered from the hospital where she works - they double as a great grade school conversation piece, by the way.) Each lunch I pack contains a sandwich (of course), some Stacy's Pita Chips (my favorite snack food), an apple or an orange, some celery and/or carrot sticks, two individual Dove chocolates and a Diet Pepsi. What can I say? I learned from the best.

And, although I've been doing the bagged lunch thing for the past couple of months, the response from my co-workers has been one of perplexity, to say the least. Many can't understand why I would waste so much time in such an undertaking (clearly others have the same problem, which this article explains. I actually have to force myself to do it on occasion.) Others don't see why I would dull my lunch so, when the employee cafeteria serves excellent meals at fairly reasonable prices.

Were I not all that concerned with job enjoyment and security, I'd probably answer their questions thus:

"I bag my lunch because in doing so, I think it saves me a little bit of cash, and it means I'm less pressured to venture down to the employee cafeteria and eat with the likes of you. Secondly, I know what I'm eating this way, and how healthy it is/is not for me to consume." Then I'd look them up and down and say, "Clearly you can't say the same."

But, I very much enjoy my co-workers and I really am concerned about job security and comfort, so I don't say these things. I just like to daydream from time to time, and maybe stretch out a blog post here and there. In reality, it's 99% finance, and 1% health.

My coworkers have a point, however. Bringing your own lunch day in and day out can get very dull after awhile, unless your creative about it - which I tend not to be. My idea of living it up is alternating days and types of sandwich. Turkey on Monday, Ham & Cheese on Tuesday, etc... Clearly, I could use a little excitement in my life. That's why I was so excited to discover P.B. Loco. Hefty price tag aside, look at some of those flavors! Peanut Butter with CoCoBanana, Peanut Butter with Sun Dried Tomato (OK - that sounds disgusting), Peanut Butter with Raspberry White Chocolate. I mean, would you even pair these with jelly? It almost seems sacrilegious.

I think I'm going to order a can of this stuff (flavor to be determined although I'm open to suggestions), but in the meantime, I guess I'll have to rely on my own noggin for creative consumption. So, tomorrow - I think I'll eat a pomegranate, and Thursday... maybe a kiwi. Any of you want to throw some recipes or suggestions my way, feel free. In the meantime, chow down boys and girls. Say no to girth, and all that jazz... I'll catch you tomorrow.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sweathogs & Barfly's

Thank god for Mental Floss. It always comes through when you're in a pinch. Here I am, at 10:18 on Monday evening, ready to brush my teeth and then lie in bed for a little bit with my new book (see? There it is on the sidebar. Doesn't it look, cool? I'm all excited. Ooh, and I'll let you in on a little secret... a friend of mine helped to write it. Yes, really!) with a couple of good ideas to blog about, but unfortunately not enough time to write a lengthy enough post that the topics warrant.

So, this ought to tide you over until such time arrives. We have here, not one, but TWO television theme song quizzes. Fifteen brief sound clips from various television theme songs of yesteryear are provided, and you have to match them up with the correct show. Easy, right?

Well, I thought so. Normally, I'd be proud to have scored 100% on both quizzes, but then I remembered the subject matter we're dealing with here, and realized what such a score says about me. Namely, that I'm a loafing TV junkie with no life, and fewer prospects - or at least I was at one time (jury's still out on whether or not that's still the case.) Anyway, see how you do. Any child of the 80's is bound to score reasonably well. So, here you go.

TV Theme Song Quiz #1 - I found this the more easier of the two, but only because I'm not nearly as familiar with the "newer" TV shows as I am the older - go figure, right? Some of you may find this a bit frustrating. (Note: At the risk of giving away one of the answers here - the Family Ties theme song is one of the soundbites, however, there was an error on the page rendering and so the graphic you're supposed to match the song with doesn't appear. There's just a place to enter the number, with nothing next to it. Don't let that throw you off.)

TV Theme Song Quiz #2 - I'm betting we'll see lots of high scores on this one. I almost blew it at one point, unable to decide between the Dawson's Creek theme and Ally McBeal (both shows I despised.) I kind of guessed on those two... correctly as it turned out. Yay me.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Expectations? They're Grrrrrr-EAT!

It's been up there for months and months, but God willing, tomorrow I should finally - FINALLY - have a new book up there in the sidebar.

As you no doubt noticed, it's taken me a long time to get through Great Expectations (the book that was up there for those of you reading this post months from now), but don't read too much into that. I have very much enjoyed the book thus far (at the time of this writing, I have about 25 pages left) and am glad to have made Mr. Dickens acquaintance yet again. Prior to this current novel, the only Dickens I'd read was 'A Christmas Carol', which I don't particularly remember all that well, largely because I read it during college and was drunk during most of the time I'd set aside to read it (Note: I still got an 'A' on the test, however, because I'd seen about eight different variations of the movie - including the musical with Albert Finney - about 50 times each. When the professor handed me back the test, I started singing, "Thank you very much! A-thank you very much! That's the nicest thing that anyone's ever DONE FOR ME!")

Still, I'm a little shocked that there wasn't more Dickens required in my high school. Almost everyone else I know had to read Great Expectations in their junior year. So, I'm a little behind the 8-Ball but, quite frankly, I think I enjoyed it now more than I ever would have then, and because of that, I plan on adding more Dickens to the reading list in the future. I also threw Great Expectations - the film - in my Netflix rental queue (the 1946 adaptation, not the recent movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke - everyone has told me to avoid that one.) Hey, if I get a raise maybe I'll even go to Dickens World.

But, I'm not going to go on a "Dickens only" tear right away. No, first I have some other stuff I want to get through. And what's going up in the book space tomorrow? Well, you'll have to wait and see (although a few folks will, I'm sure, correctly guess. Daily Show, anyone?) Hopefully, now that I've devoted more time to reading and writing, I'll be able to get through the next title a little more quickly than this current one.

But, regardless of how long it takes me to get through it, I'm excited. It's been a long time since I actually read with any consistency, and I forgot how much of an enjoyable past time it is. And, if I keep reading regularly, I figure it'll help me become a better writer, too. Or, at the very least, one who doesn't have to steal his post titles off of cereal boxes. Cigarette packs? That's another story - literally. You'll understand what I mean tomorrow. For now, I'm off to make these expectations a real...

Naw, screw that. I wasn't about to type that. For real. Trust me.

Anyway, I'm off to finish my book. I'll be back blabbin' tomorrow. Toodles.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dear All, Please Step Off! Thank You! XO

When was the last time you got mad at somebody? I mean, like, really mad. You got in their face, called them all sorts of expletives, read them some sort of riot act (because they undoubtedly deserved it) and left them curled up in a ball in the corner, shaking with fear and horror.

You have to think about it, don't you? In fact, I bet you can't remember. I (unfortunately) can. It was just last week actually, and I remember it pretty well because it was the first time I'd gotten that angry in a long time. I won't go into the gory details - frankly, you'd be bored - but suffice to say, I'm still a little shocked by the whole thing.

I'm just guessing here, but I'd be willing to wager most people have similar experience. That it to say, long periods of emotional restraint punctuated by the occasional furious outburst. Those outbursts are necessary, but often times they're not enough. We all have other outlets. Some people exercise. Some people form addictions. Some people withdraw. And, some people leave notes.

Incidentally, that may be my new favorite website, for reasons that are, as yet, unclear to me. And no, I'm not the "Eric" who signed off on this particular novella. I have much better handwriting, and I'd like to think I'm not that much of a sanctimonious bastard.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Murky Words Mad Libs

Is it me, or has journalism gone to the dogs? Not all of it, of course. There's still a fair bit out there that worth reading, but when cares more about the sisters' Hilton than, say, global warming, the war in Iraq, or the New England Patriots, then you know something is seriously wrong.

But it's not even that so much. In their (failed) quest for objectivity in journalism, most media outlets spew forth stories that all sound the same. It's as if they all have the same template, and they just fill in the applicable words.

And now, we have the template - or at least one of them. The Morning News has provided us with a sort of Mad Lib, which any journalist, aspiring or otherwise, can use for their next general interest piece. I gave it a shot and this is what I ended up with:

"The city was invaded by small balls over the weekend when a convention landed here, drawing 973,921 fans of Gymboree.

Slaphappy-T-Grunt, otherwise known as Gunther, a 64-year-old software engineer, was dressed in motley as he waited in line to pay the $81 fee to carouse, enjoy turkish delight, and discuss bat guano with others drawn to this, the greatest spectacle in the tri-state region involving Gymboree.

“This is it. This is the Olympics of Gymboree,” said Deiter, a 23-year-old video-store clerk whose mother drove him here all the way from Las Cruces for the event. “Everyone who’s anybody in the world of Gymboree would give his left nostril to be here with his co-equals.

“I spent the last 10 years of my life making sure I had every last large plastic ball, watched sweatshirts for 42 hours this week and spent $ 310 having my mom sew up this costume—all in preparation for this,” he said. “This is the most important thing in the world to me for reasons that will make absolutely no sense to me once I get a girlfriend. Unless, of course, she’s into this, too, in which case I’m going to become really weird.”

The co-founder of the event, Gertrude, a 46-year-old sheet folding-store owner, said the event would also feature sheet folding and a tarot-card reader.

“The rest of the world could really learn a lesson from this,” she said. “I mean, where else can so many different people of different backgrounds get together so peacefully and have a good time like this? Except for the Skeksis and Gelflings.”

While taking a break from popping zits, Arturo addressed the mainstream criticism of Gymboree fans as socially inept people who use their obsession with an inconsequential and unconstructive esoterica to escape from reality and avoid dealing with the challenges of improving their own lives or the world around them.

“We’re not geeks or Thoughtprints members,” he lisped. “We may be netherweavers, but we’re also human beings. If you prick us with a magic wand, do we not bleed? We’re not here in this soulless, overpriced and plastic-smelling convention hall just for the amusement of the quote-unquote mainstream with their 40-ounce beers, wildebeest in a bowl or gazelle in a cage. We’re here to be with other people like us, other people who are scared of the real world like we are. We’re here to be the mainstream for a brief few hours before we have to go back to a real world that relegates us to the fringes. Here we’re not freaks.”

With that, Slaphappy-T-Grunt lifted up his kettle and disappeared into a crowd of raisins.."


Actually, never mind. There might be something to the study of journalism after all. Knew my alma mater was good for something...

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Say What?

Alright - this is infuriating. Twice, I've taken this test on tone deafness (speakers are necessary, and you run the risk of really pissing off your co-workers, so use caution) and twice I've gotten a 77.8% - which, in case you were wondering, qualifies me as normal. NORMAL! The nerve! I'm special, dammit, and I demand to be recognized as such. I don't listen to all this schlock pop for nothing!

Although, I suppose it's a good thing that I'm not completely tone deaf. I was good friends with a kid in elementary school who had that particular malady, and to hear him sing in chorus was a cruel punishment. And still, all the girls loved him.

Whatever, they're all stupid if they don't know enough to go for the guy who can hold a tune. Oh, but wait - did I mention I had near perfect pitch perception?

Redemption is mine! Ladies, the line starts right over here...

Oh, er... sorry, Goof. Heh. Um... Here, take this rhythm test and show 'em who's boss.

I'm, uh... gonna mosey now... Bye! Happy Bad Hearing!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So, uh, Eric... what gives, huh? What's with all the blog posts? Why you, uh, makin' like a keyboardist and tappin' all dem keys?

Glad you asked, amigo, because I was looking for something to post about tonight. The short answer is, I don't know. This time last Tuesday (or maybe it was Wednesday, I can't remember), I was sitting at my dining room table (which is, appropriately enough, where my computer/writing instrument is kept) thinking it had been way too long since the last post, and I just sort of decided, "What the hell? Why not just write something every day?"

So, that's what I started doing - and I might as well do it for the foreseeable future. You know - 200th post and all, blah, blah, blah. Really, I'm just self-centered, attention seeking, and looking for an outlet. So there.

A few people have complained, as they got used to the "once every two week post" and ended up checking in recently, only to find that there's way too much for them to read - even at work. Don't know what to tell you. Although, I will say that I'm still trying to get a handle on this "post every day" thing, and so you might find the topics a little boring. But hey, it's better than reading the most recent post 15 times. Oh, and I also may miss a day here and there, but not to worry. I'll be back in short order.

Anyway, glad I could at least milk this decision for a post tonight, seeing as I was fresh out of ideas. Tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe I'll just copy and paste what I just wrote. Now, there's an idea...


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Murky Words: 200. Haters & Imitators: 0.

Know what this is? This here is post #200 on Murky Words. It took us two years, one month and thirty days to get here, but "here" we finally are. Although really, there's nothing final about it because, frankly, I see no reason to stop now. In fact, I feel like I'm only just getting started... or rather, I'm getting my second wind. Maybe that's it.

In any event, I won't sit here and reminisce about previous posts and days gone by. God knows I already link enough to my past stuff to make everyone a little sick. Plus, the archives are just over there to the right if you're really interested.

Nah - I'll continue to write here as long as all six or so of you continue to read. And even if you don't, well, I can always use the practice. Just thought, in the absence of anything else to write about today, I'd mark the milestone with, what else, a post. Word.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Dinner Is Served

When it comes to fast food, and the dangers therein, I'm often reminded of a story my father likes to tell about an exhibit he once saw at the local YMCA. In it, particular types of food were shown, and next to them were vials (or actual cups, in some cases) full of whatever harmful substances were contained in them. So for example, a can of Coke was displayed, and next to it you'd see a cup full of all the tablespoons of sugar that were in the can (in this case, some ridiculous amount, which I can't quite remember, but trust me, it was shocking.)

And, shock value was among the things the exhibit was trying to achieve, along with an increased knowledge of just what it is we're consuming (ever actually see the amount of fat in a Big Mac? It's repugnant.) I mention all of this simply to introduce another such display which is so brilliant, yet simple, that I'm surprised I haven't seen something like it before. The West Virginia Surf Report (which appears to just be one guy with a fantastically named site) has taken it upon itself (himself?) to take pictures of fast food advertisements and place them next to specimens of the exact same product purchased locally. Truth in advertising? Nooooooo way, Jose. Check out the Arby's Beef n' Cheddar burger:



Yicccck! Anyway, here's the link to the full "report." It's not really all that surprising, but at the same time, it is. Hope you enjoy, or not. Oh, and if he needs an extra hand, I'd be happy to lend him my photo of the Grizzly Burger. Yummmmmmmm.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Say Hello To My Leetle Friends...

Apologize, folks. Introductions are in order. If you'll take a look in that sidebar over to the right, you'll notice that there are three new entries at the bottom of the 'Good Peoples' section. I can't just serve 'em up like that and not offer any explanation about them. So, here goes.

Greg's Climbing Blog - Greg is a guy I know from (what appears to be the now defunct) Milk St. Writers Group - which was never on Milk St. while I was a member of it. Maybe that's why it now appears to be defunct. Or, maybe it's because Greg was usually the only one who bothered to submit anything for others to critique. The rest of us usually claimed to be "too busy", and Tom, the guy who hosted the meetings week after week - in Somerville - always had an out because, well, he hosted the meetings (although he does deserve props for his devotion to Quisp Cereal.) Anyway, Greg is quite the mountain climber as well, and given his devotion to both that and writing (the absence of the writer's group notwithstanding), he's done a good thing by combining the two. His blog proves an interesting read, even if you're not into a climbing person (such as myself.) Greg is also in the habit of leaving nasty comments on other people's blogs (as he has done here on a few occasions), so feel free to return the favor while you're visiting.

The Mountain Biker - Yet another blog whose title says it all. The Mountain Biker is written by a gentleman who refers to himself as Snot Rocket - a more elegant moniker there never was - and like Greg, Snot Rocket is quite serious about his craft. He also has the added distinction of being my brother in law, although he'll probably be pissed at me for mentioning that, given that he's a little obsessive about privacy. Still, his is also a good read (and quite a scientific one as it turns out - physics anyone?) and if you're into mountain biking, give it a shot. Or, even if you're into pictures of really cute kids and sweaty mountain bikers, you can still give it a shot.

Adventures of a Whinging Pommy Down Under - We finally come to the Pommy, whatever that is. Mr. Pommy is another relative of mine - this one, my cousin Stuart. He's a Brit (hence the title of his blog. If you have any idea what it means, let me know. I'm surprised he didn't use the word toppin... er, tuppence.) Anyway, Stuart is now living in Australia and writing about it, along with a myriad of other topics. And, by myriad I mean American politics, which is interesting because the last time I saw him he went to great pains to explain to me why the United Kingdom is a far better place to live (Note: he won't get nearly as vehement an argument from me these days.) Anyway, I've always thought very highly of Stuart, and I very much enjoy reading his blog.

I hope you enjoy reading the adventures of my fine feathered friends, and check out their blogs from time to time. I'm also planning on updating the rest of the sidebar in the near future. The listening/reading/watching links will stay, but many of the Time Wasters are no longer Time Wasters (at least for me), and one or two of the Good Peoples, while still good, haven't updated their blogs in months (I know - the hypocricy!) Whatever - I just figured I'd keep it current. Enjoy, folks.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

Oh, man. I can already tell this will be the end of my social life.

I think I've mentioned Metafilter on this site before, haven't I? Well, whatever - for those of you not in the know, it's essentially a multi person blog which anyone can post to (after a week of being a registered user and having submit a few comments to some of the threads, etc...) Some of the posts are interesting. Almost all of them are littered with links which you could potentially get something out of. But to my mind, it's... well, information overload, I guess. There's some fascinating stuff on there but there are just SO MANY links to sift through. I find it more than a little overwhelming. Plus, the posts themselves are often written in such a way as to be just abstract enough to not really understand, and then you click on one of the links to get further clarification and you find that you're either more confused, or it's about a subject that you're not really interested in. I realize "interest" is all relative, but I don't know... I guess I'd just like to know what the subject is about first, before I go diving into it.

But then, someone told me about the "ask" portion of the Metafilter site, and suddenly information overload didn't seem to be that much of a problem. Why? Well maybe because I find myself interested in the most mundane and utterly random topics. Really. For instance, last night I found myself reading up on desirable places to live in Ottawa. Why should I find any sort of appeal in this?

And, there's more! How to use a 1930's Singer sewing machine, various computer questions, what to say to the doctor when you have a migraine headache. I mean, this is bordering on the absurd. I simply go to the main page and start reading the topics - topics which I should have no business being interested in - and I'm hooked.

What is it? Is it the "voyeur" in me? Why do I so enjoy this, but feel so blah about the Metafilter main page? Will I ever leave my house again, or am I destined to become a hunchbacked, long bearded recluse (actually, I prefer the term 'oracle', thank you) who knows small facts about everything?

I know not, people. Maybe it's just that I like to read comments from people who know what they're talking about, and enjoy the idea of a free forum where people help each other out with their small every day problems. Whatever the case, it's one hell of a pleasant time waster. Hell, maybe I'll even ask them how much my furniture costs. Hmph.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Isn't it good? Processed Wood.

You guys remember my roommate post, right? Good. Well, I found one, and she moves in tomorrow (yes, it's a she but that's another story for another post.) In the meantime, I have some bedroom furniture to sell, and I ha... huh?

No, no, NO, you idiot, we are NOT sharing a bedroom. How dare you suggest such a thing? Goof'd karate chop me in the kneecaps, and may well go after your throat for mentioning it. Heathen. No, if you must know, my old roommate (who moved all the way downstairs) very generously sold me his old bedroom furniture (gorgeous stuff - dresser w/ mirror, armoire & nightstand) and so now I'm left with some extra.

So, my plan is to do the usual - post an ad on Criagslist, and see if anyone's interested. But, I have a bit of a dilemma, and I'm hoping you can help. I've never done this before (sold crap on Craigslist, I mean) and I have absolutely no idea how much I should ask for the stuff. That's where you, dear reader, come in. If any of you have a good gauge on these sorts of things, I'd appreciate a comment telling me how much you'd pay for the stuff if you were buying, or how much you think I can reasonably expect to get. Two things to consider when estimating the value:
  1. Both pieces are almost exactly 9 years old. They were bought at Jordan's Furniture for about $600 total (I forget how much they were individually.)
  2. I will not haggle with any potential buyers after I place the ad. I suck at it. So, the price listed will be the price the buyer will pay.
So, without further ado, the furniture:

First we have a bedside table/nightstand which is 26 inches tall x 27 inches wide x 15 inches deep. Nothing fancy about this bad boy. Three drawers - all of which hold a decent amount, and a great place for lamps, alarm clocks, etc.

Next up, is the dresser, which served me rather well over the years. It's dimensions are 48 inches tall x 36 inches wide x 18 inches deep. Five spacious drawers, and the slim piece of wood in the middle is a hideaway drawer. Open it up and you have four small compartments in the front and one large compartment behind - all of which are lined with black velvet (in that little boys smiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile.)

Now - there, um... well is a bit of damage to the rear of the dresser. The thin wooden backing has a small hole near the bottom left corner - there as the result of a collision with a stairwell railing on it's move into this apartment. I've provided a photo of said damage below, but do you think I should include it in the ad, so any potential buyer won't feel stiffed upon seeing it? Goof suggested I should mention that it got shot by John Wilkes Booth. When I expressed confusion, she simplified things and said I should just mention that she shot it - with her gat. Well... O.K. then.

So, what do you think? I'm envisioning $150 - $200, but that's kind of an arbitrary number. I could be lowballing or completely overpricing. I simply don't know. However, did I mention that the dresser had black velvet (in that sloooooowww Southern style?) I did? Oh, good. Well, there it is. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Gracias, amigos.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Goodnight, Cap'n

Sad news to report today. Cap'n Crunch, our beloved Sultan of Cereal, has sailed off into the sunset.

Well, in a manner of speaking. Quaker Oats has most certainly not killed off the character, and the breakfast cereal is still being sold (Heh - can you imagine the outcry if the good Captain were to get killed off in a television commercial? American children would be forever scarred... and it would probably do something about the obesity epidemic in this country, but that's besides the point.) Sadly though, the woman responsible for the flavor behind the cereal, Pamela Low, died last Friday in New London, New Hampshire.

From the Boston Globe:

"'Grandma would make this concoction with rice and the sauce that she had; it was a combination of brown sugar and butter," Ms. Low's brother William of Westerville, Ohio, said with a chuckle. "It tasted good, obviously. They'd put it over the rice and eat it as a kind of a treat on Sundays."

Three decades later, Ms. Low drew on the memory of her grandmother's delicacy to create the taste that made Cap'n Crunch a popular breakfast cereal. Taking a job at Arthur D. Little, she became a flavorist, a scientific connoisseur of the artificial tastes that tempt consumers to return for more. She tinkered with flavors of products such as Almond Joy and Mounds, but her biggest achievement came when Quaker Oats developed a new cereal.

"I developed the flavoring, the coating," she told UNH Magazine in 2002."

As a kid, there wasn't a meal to be had that would satisfy me more than a big bowl of Cap'n Crunch. I can remember seething with anger when my cousin Brian would brazenly help himself to serving bowls full of MY cereal on summer family vacations spent in New Hampshire (he has since apologized tenfold.) That cereal was heavenly stuff. I couldn't even be bothered with the many variations they packaged in it's wake. Crunch Berries? Peanut Butter Crunch? Nuh Uh! It was the straight and simple, red-boxed original Cap'n Crunch for me. (And now, they apparently have even more abominations on the market. Cap'n Crunch's Oops Choco Donuts?!? Please. That's repugnant.) Anyway, I apparently have Miss Low to thank for my many moments of childhood bliss, and I just thought I'd take a few moments and a blog post to do so.

And for those of you that are game - a few fun facts about our favorite Breakfast Cereal Naval Hero:
  • His full name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch.
  • It first appeared on the market in 1963. Crunch Berries would follow in 1967, and Peanut Butter Crunch debuted in 1969. The four or so other varieties that aren't even worth mentioning all made their appearance in 2002 or later.
  • The name of the ship he sails on is the S.S. Guppy, and the dog that used to sail with him was, aptly named, Seadog.
  • Famed animator Jay Ward originally created the Cap'n and all his pals. Ward was also known as the genius behind Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle, and my favorite, Sherman & Mr. Peabody.
  • And, if you're REALLY interested - the Cap'n Crunch Wikipedia page and the post from Boing-Boing where I stole all this from, and which contains even MORE links - many of them classic finds (look in the "Update" section.)

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Buffalo Meat, Wont'cha Come Out Tonight?

There are times like tonight when I think I might as well just go vegetarian. You know why? I had Steak-umm for dinner, that's why. Top notch meal for a future gourmet chef, wouldn't you say? In my own defense, the meal was a last resort, but really, that's part of the problem. Before I cooked the Steak-umm, I'd tried to cook Buffalo Burgers. Twice.

I don't know what it was about the package that made me pick it up. It was just this brown box in the freezer section of Trader Joe's that said "Ground Buffalo Steak Burgers", but right there and then, I knew I had to have them.

Perhaps I'm a sucker for marketing. The box, while for the most part, unappealing, did say that these were 'Grain Fed Buffalo' and 'Raised without the use of Hormones or Antibiotics.' Hmm. Well, no funny stuff injected into yon bison. That's always good. Growth hormones and the like are evil (thoughts like these are one of the side-effects of sharing an apartment with an ultra progressive vegan for four years.) Grain fed? Can't hurt. In fact, it's... it's wholesome - that's what it is. Clearly these buffalo parts came from someone else's home, where they roamed, and the deer and the antelope played (before, of course, they too were shot, killed, packaged and frozen.) And if all that weren't enough, 'Buffalo Burgers' had the added bonus of sounding either like something Fred Flintstone would eat, or George Bailey & Mary Hatch would sing about. You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Trader Joe, but you got me.

They sat in my freezer for two weeks, did the frozen yak patties. I had all sorts of reasons for not eating them right away. Once, I had no hamburger buns, or appropriate condiments. Another time, I preferred to experiment and make pasta. Still another time, I was cooking with the Goof-Monster and forced off to the side to make the salad (packaged Dole with some cukes and tomato thrown in) while she made some delicious lemony, spicy, Alfredo pasta dish (YUM!) But yesterday, with my food supply dwindling, my inner caveman burst forth. Buffalo Burgers it was to be.

Or rather, it was to be attempted. The box contained four frozen ground buffalo patties - frozen rock solid as it turned out - in stacks of two each separated by white paper. Unable to separate the two patties, I did what any normal bachelor would do. I threw a bunch of grapeseed oil into a frying pan (living on a third floor apartment, I am sans grill - something I should have considered before making this purchase), let it sit on a medium high flame for a couple of minutes, threw the two stuck patties in and... splatter, splatter, sizzle, spit, fry, fry FRY!, BURN (skin), splatter, splatter, splatter!!!!

Maybe not the best idea. My thought process was that if I could let each side fry in the oil for long enough, eventually I'd be able to split the two patties apart with ease. Not so. I tried forcing a spatula in between the two patties (while still in the pan sizzling with oil - village idiot's got nuthin' on me) and, when unsuccessful, a butter knife. No way, Jose. Those bad boys were not coming unstuck. Eventually, I burned two sides of two patties and much of my right hand. I settled for salad and a frozen pizza (which I, thankfully, baked.)

Tonight, as you might have guessed, fared little better. I had the good sense to defrost the remaining two burgers this time around, and the oil splatter was definitely lessened, but this time they were woefully undercooked. Brown on the outside, red on the inside. Grain fed E-coli, anyone? Still, I was able to salvage a few bites by nibbling around the edges, and you know what it tasted like? A hamburger. Stop the presses - can't wait to rush out and by me some more!

So, my emergency stash of Steak-Umm it was. It was edible, and... edible (I used to LOVE these things in the grammar school lunch room. What happened?) but hardly what I'd envisioned a buffalo burger to be - summer evenings on the prairie, harmonica's a-playin', and Pa in his rocking chair. Instead I got gelatinous fat, a third floor walkup, and a Honda rattling bass boost. Not surprising, because really, I should have known that the Great Tatonka in the sky would be pissed. I could have at least used peanut oil. Still, I think I'll stick to vegetable soup for a while. Easier on the hands. It's likely Mr. Flintstone wouldn't touch it, but whatever. He was a whining fatass, anyway.

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