8/31/2007

Never Ceases To Amaze Me….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:05 am

….how far search engine technology has yet to go.

How else might I explain how someone from North Carolina happened across my blog ’round 5:00 yesterday morning whilst searching for “frog droppings pictures“?

Errrr….sorry to have wasted your time there, buddy. Best of luck.  😕

The weirdest part? This is not the first time I have been the target of a request for pictures of frog droppings….from an IP address in an entirely different part of the world.

There are some trends of which I’d rather not involve myself in the setting; this may be one of them.

8/30/2007

Is It Just Me?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:17 pm

Be honest now: tell me if you think this is a little, well, odd.

So I’m spell-checking the latest version of our Fall catalog from within Adobe InDesign—my favorite DTP tool since version 1.5, because the people at Quark are pig-nosed ass-brained dorkmasters of the purest ray serene—when the word “fettucine” gets flagged.

I’m used to a lot of words I use in our catalog not existing in the standard InDesign dictionary; Lentinula, Ganoderma, mycoremediation, et cetera. Just par for the course when you work for a mycologist. But fettucine? I double-checked the spelling online and everything seemed kosher. (Kosher fettucine? Guess it’s not for pasta carbonara then.) So I added it to the custom dictionary with all the other weird words I use every day.

But that’s not the odd part.

The odd part came when, searching its internal database of words for an acceptable alternative, it suggested “feticide”.

Had to bang my head on the desk a few times to get my brain to pivot back right-way ’round after that. If you’re wondering why, try rolling the phrase, “Feticide Alfredo” around on your tongue for a while. 😯

8/29/2007

omigodomigodomigod….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:17 pm

Bioshock is SUCH a cool game. 😮

The whole thing is just so creepy. And not in a cheesy direct-to-video slasher pic sort of way like, for instance, Doom 3, where you just know that halfway down every corridor the lights are gonna go out and a creepycrawly is gonna jump out from behind a hidden panel and start gnawing on your ass. This is atmospherically creepy.

bioshock11.jpg

Aside from being hands-down beautiful–someone on a message board hit it right on the head when they said that every moment of the game is a screen capture moment–the entire set of the game is an amazing study in contrasts. It’s a nightmare combination: 40’s-era happy-go-lucky high-society culture and Art Deco design, coupled with insane mutants, scores of bodies amongst the wreckage and the ever-present press of the surrounding deep water. Brrrrr. For those who don’t care to investigate the story line of the game, I’ll just Reader’s Digest it for you here.

bioshock4.jpg

The whole game takes place in an underwater city called Rapture, built in the mid-forties by a hard-core libertarian industrialist named Andrew Ryan (it was Shawn who pointed out the similarity between that name and “Ayn Rand”; quite clever). Built as a haven/playground for the finest minds of his generation, you inadvertently stumble upon Rapture in the 1960s after it has fallen to ruin. The whole place is slowly being reclaimed by the ocean, as evidenced by the constant streams, trickles, pools and floods of water you encounter throughout the city. You are trying to find your way back out of Rapture before it is completely destroyed by its creator.

bioshock5.jpg

The water effects are simply astounding. Streams of water coruscate around obstacles though they were actually there, breaking and parting around furniture, rubble, corpses, whathaveyou.

bioshock3.jpg

The citizens of Rapture have mostly died off or killed each other, and those who are left have been transformed (and eventually driven insane) by unchecked free-market genetic manipulation that pioneered by Rapture’s scientific elite and was fashionable at the time of the city’s ascendancy.

bioshock6.jpg

They have turned into an amazing and bizarre array of creatures; many (disturbingly) human in appearance.

bioshock9.jpg

The most famous denizens of the game—and the most controversial—are the team known as Little Sisters and Big Daddies. Little Sisters have been genetically modified to process a substance called Adam (a precursor of the compound that allowed Rapture’s populace to undergo such fast and complete genetic mutation; basically the currency of this game) from the corpses of the residents, using a big, nasty-looking syringe gun. She is followed by a Big Daddy everywhere she goes: a huge, armored creature with tremendous strength and, surprisingly, speed. At least when it’s pissed off. One of your first major battles–sort of a sub-boss fight–is with a Big Daddy, and it was only through sheer luck that I managed to finish it off in only two lives. I tend to avoid them whenever possible, despite the wealth of Adam contained in the Little Sisters. Though it can be useful to get someone else to accidentally take a shot at one so it’ll go off and mish them flat for me.

bioshock8.jpg

In addition to the usual complement of armaments that are scattered everywhere in typically unseemly volume (of course, the fact that this is a libertarian Utopia where everyone just happens to have gone stark raving bananas might go a long way towards explaining all the guns), you can avail yourself of the same kind of genetic goodies that pushed everyone else in Rapture over the edge. There are Plasmids, which give you cool powers like Telekinesis, Incinerate and Electroshock; then there are Gene Tonics, which give you new physical characteristics like extra health capacity or extra strength with melee weapons. Overall it’s a very nice addition to the standard pistol/shotgun/machine gun/rocket launcher/BFG9000 that is typical in the first-person shooter genre.

There have been a few problems along the way. I’ve had some audio issues at times, though I think I’ve identified the problem. I added a second EVGA GeForce 8800GT to my computer so I could run both cards in SLI mode (which is giving me super-screamy frame rates; more than 45 frames per second at 1280 x 1024 average, with all the eye candy turned to maximum and a bunch of sprites on screen), and the inside of my case is getting hot enough to make my sound card go a little crunky. So in addition to buying a new motherboard, RAM, power supply, and two video cards so that I would be ready for this game, I now have to get a new case. Picked out a NZXT Zero, which has (count ’em) seven 120mm fans. I’m hoping that will be enough to keep me from having to go water-cooled; the very idea just gives me the heebie-jeebies.

And there is another issue: the game comes packaged with a nefarious copy-protection scheme known as SecuROM, a “phone-home” variant that installs under the Windows API as, for all intents and purposes, a rootkit. SecuROM is largely innocuous by itself, but any piece of code that simultaneously operates totally under the resident OS (rendering it essentially invisible) while simultaneously elevating the privileges of certain programs is a huge security risk. Had I known that 2K Games was planning on using SecuROM, I would have bought the game on disk, then installed one of the many cracked versions that have been blasting around the Torrents since the day after it was released. Assholes. 😡

I’m about a quarter or fifth of the way through the game–I don’t have a lot of spare time right now, given the upcoming holiday catalog–and I think that this is the kind of game I’ll be able to wander through again and again, just drinking in the scenery and experimenting with the environment. If you have a relatively strong gaming rig….or an XBox 360….I strongly recommend Bioshock. It has everything you might want in a quiet evening at home: a demented nightmare of mutants, monsters and aquatic claustrophobia. 😉

8/28/2007

Blast From The Past

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:35 am

Been so busy with work lately I haven’t really had time to do much blogging, so here’s a little space-filler and time-waster for y’all:

Many thanks for Sara for pointing this out to me. (No, not that Sara. The other one.)

8/26/2007

My Review Of The 11th Hour

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:29 pm

Went to see The 11th Hour this weekend with Margaret and the majority of my fellow staff at Fungi Perfecti. Kind of depressing that our group of perhaps 25 people easily made up a quarter of the total audience for the Seattle debut of a fairly important picture. Ah well; it’s a documentary, it offers no titties or gun fights and it wasn’t made with top-of-the-line Silicon Graphics workstations in a server farm in the Valley, so what should I expect. It was worth going to see, not the least of reasons being that Margaret spotted my name in the end credits, under “Special Thanks To…” Wow. Shawn is so pissed I ended up in the credits of a major motion picture before him. 😆

The 11th Hour intersperses brief excerpts from on-camera interviews with luminaries from a wide range of primarily scientific fields (with just enough in the way of philosophers and holy men to appease the Newer of the Ageists in the audience) with film clips of natural disasters, fast-paced animated graphs and timelines, and “mood” shots of either a positive (clear water coursing down a stream) or negative (fletcher clubbing a harp seal) affect, depending on the point being emphasized at the moment. At regular intervals, Leonardo DiCaprio appears against a background appropriate to the mood and makes some sort of statement to bind the preceding section with the proceeding. His role in the film as narrator is in fact fairly low-key; he obviously did not want the show to revolve around himself, despite having produced and bankrolled it.

Overall the direction is very good, in my opinion. They obviously knew that they were dealing with a really depressing subject, and paced the film appropriately. Just when you are about to become overwhelmed with the impending doom of, say, the effect that global warming will have on the release of CO2 currently bound in the depths of the ocean (this little gem courtesy of Dr. Stephen Hawking, his eyes pinning you to your seat all the while), they change the subject, filling the gap between the sections with some gorgeous, contemplative footage of ocean life and waves crashing on a reef. Kind of a small dish of cinematic sorbet with which to clear your emotional palate.

The last perhaps third of the film is all about solutions, something that is often missing from this sort of endeavor. My boss was one of the scads of idea (wo)men offered up at this juncture, talking primarily about the ability of fungi to absorb and convert a dizzying array of harmful substances, from coliform bacteria to VX gas. (This is not conjecture or academic proselytizing, either; Fungi Perfecti has proven this in laboratory and real-world experiments conducted with the Washington State Departments of Transportation and Public Works, Battelle Marine Science Laboratories, and the United States Defense Department. Nyeah. 😛 ) Others described manufacturing technologies that mimic natural processes; green architecture; photovoltaic systems that allow buildings to power themselves and pump energy back into the grid; wave-action power; wind- and water-driven rotor fields; hybrid technology diesel-electric rail systems, and on and on and on. I think the idea was to dazzle the viewer with the possibilities, and for me it was a show-stopper. My inner nerd cries out for technological solutions to the problems we face (especially since the other major alternatives, like the collapse of the world economy, ceaseless resource wars or the return to a semitechnological agrarian way of life would all suck ass), and the thinkers in this film were definitely all about that. These weren’t “Got to get ourselves back to the Garden” types. None of them believed that we could sustain our current population without a technological society. What they–and most of us–are hoping for is simply the implementation of thoughtful technology, carefully planned and implemented. Reduce the pounds of waste generated per pound of manufactured goods. Increase the efficiency of our mechanisms, reducing, trapping and reusing waste and byproducts. Eliminate wherever possible our dependence on resources that cannot be renewed at the rate at which we consume them. Use our big fucking brains to get us out of this mess, and not let existing power structures petrified of change keep it from happening.

What the fuck, it sure wouldn’t cost 200 million dollars a day to accomplish.

The very end of the film is about what you would expect: time is running out, we’re at the 11th hour (hey, that’s the name of the movie, too! Whoa, weird), you can be part of change, get off your fat asthma-choked PCB-poisoned TV-watching ass and get to it. The last word is given by Oren Lyons, who says, basically, “Even if we don’t make the changes we need to, there will be clear rivers and blue skies and forested mountainsides again. We just won’t be here to see them. The world will prevail, because it has all the time in the world. We do not.”

The film is definitely one-sided. There were no contrasting opinions on the subject of global climate change and Man’s role in same. But that was to be expected. Frankly, the anti-environmentalists have their own entire goddamn 24 hour news channel from which to enlighten their followers, so I don’t think this was a big problem. The overall message is one of optimism, which is never a bad thing. I recommend The 11th Hour to anyone looking for some hope in the face of everything we’ve managed to do to the planet. Make sure to drag along a couple of Fox News devotees while you’re at it. Maybe they’ll agree to come if you promise to pay for their popcorn.

8/24/2007

Hee hee hee…..BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 9:23 am

Got my official last minute information e-mail from the Breast Cancer 3 Day this morning. It includes route information, campsite information, last minute packing tips, opening and closing ceremony information and the cheering stations listed below.

Now it isn’t so much the cheering stations that are making me so hysterical this morning. No, what’s making me so, well, cheerful, is knowing the route.
See, opening ceremonies are at BCC – a few miles from my parents’ house. No problem. Somewhere to stay the night before with good beds, good company, good food, and an easy trip to the opening ceremonies. On my first 3 Day in 2002 we ended up staying at a hotel in Federal Way and catching a shuttle at 4:45 in the morning for the trip to Enumclaw.
This year the route on the first day winds us southwest from Bellevue, over the I-90 bridge, through Renton, Tukwila, and ending at the camp in (SNERK!) Burien.
Burien. We’ll be camping in Burien. Five minutes from my house with good beds, good company, good food, flush toilets, and A HOT TUB!
Let this stand as my official announcement. I will not be availing myself of the carefully planned services of the 3 Day camps, spending the night on my Therm-a-Rest camp mattress and hiking for the porta-potties when I have to pee. I will, however, be sloping off home in the evenings to sleep on my Tempur-pedic mattress after soaking my weary bones at 100 degrees for half an hour.

As noted above, the cheering stations are listed below. It would be a great pleasure for me to see y’all at one (or more) of them.
Opening ceremonies, for those who are lunatic enough to want to do it, start at 0630 on the campus of Bellevue Community College on Friday September 7th.
Closing ceremonies start at 1630 at Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center.

Watch this site for further developments and what I hope will be a very interesting travelogue.

Cheering Stations
Please discourage your family and friends from driving along the route, as it can create a safety hazard. The following Cheering Stations are safe, recommended places for your supporters to cheer you on along the route.

Day One – Friday, September 7

Mile Marker 9.5
9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Stan Sayres Park
3808 Lake Washington Blvd S
Seattle, WA 98118
Map

Mile Marker 19.7
12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Family Fun Center
7300 Fun Center Way
Tukwila, WA 98188
Map

Day Two – Saturday, September 8

Mile Marker 8.3
8:30 am – 1:15 pm
Highline Community College
2400 S. 240 St.
Des Moines, WA 98198
(Parking lot off of S 240th – click here for map )

Mile Marker 13.3
10:35 am – 4:00pm
Key Bank
22033 Marine View Dr S
Des Moines, WA 98198
Map

Day Three – Sunday, September 9

Mile Marker 4.7
7:40 am – 10:15 am
Alki Beach
1702 Alki Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
Map
(Walkers will be traveling for several miles along this beach path. You’ll be able to cheer on walkers from any spot along this stretch of beach.)

8/23/2007

From The Department of “No Feces, Forensician” Department

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:02 am

Got this off Fark today:

Man, Fox News is like its very own religion. Bet they apply for tax-exempt status before the end of the year, or the end of the world….whichever comes first.

🙁

8/22/2007

Pluggy McPluggington

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:41 am

Thought I’d take a moment to feather my own nest by urging everyone to go see The 11th Hour, a film bankrolled, produced and narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio about Mankind’s effect on the biosphere and what can be done about it. Dozens of luminaries in a host of fields are featured, including my boss, mad scientist Paul Stamets. The film is as much about solutions as it is about problems, which makes it somewhat unique in the genre. The entire Fungi Perfecti crew will be at the debut this Friday at the Egyptian Theater, including myself and Margaret. Paul will be taking part in a Q&A session afterwards. If anyone is interested, feel free to show up; it should be a good time.

EDIT: The Stranger’s review of the film is pretty positive:

The concrete and warring policy proposals that crowd the end of the film are exactly what you were thirsting for at the end of An Inconvenient Truth. This isn’t just a good movie; it’s a smart one. And that’s about the highest praise I can give.

Yay Earth!

The 11th Hour

8/18/2007

Back In the Saddle

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:45 am

It’s two o’clock in the morning, and I’m sitting here in front of my computer, listening to an old Alphaville CD and wishing for Christ’s sake that I could sleep. There isn’t a single sleeping position that is truly comfortable. About the only thing that even partway works is to lie on my back with four pillows under my knees and my head propped up on another two, and in that position I snore so loudly I wake myself up, much less my poor wife.

Up until about two days ago I was able to get in a decent night’s rest by taking a Tylenol #3 with codeine and two Benadryl and slapping a transdermal Lidocaine patch on the base of my spine. For some reason that just isn’t cutting it any more. I can’t decide whether that’s because my back is getting more painful or because of a growing tolerance for the codeine. Problem with codeine is that, if one doesn’t work, two tends not to work any better, though they make do me a little dizzy and give me weird dreams. My doctor would probably be perfectly happy to prescribe something stronger, but I really, really do not want to go that route if at all possible. I kicked a mild hydrocodone addiction once during this little escapade already, after my surgery; I don’t care to do it again.

I go in to see my GP on Monday and my back specialist the day after. I’m planning on discussing the next phase in the overall strategy with the back man, be it more cortisone shots or surgery. I suppose I could deal with another round of cortisone. It really does seem to help. I need to start going to physical therapy as well, though where I’m supposed to find time for it between producing our upcoming holiday catalog, my other myriad work duties, my domestic chores (I am the Creator of Most Things Comestible ’round these parts) and of course the release of Bioshock (after all, all work and no play make Homer something something), I have no frigging idea.

Hmm….I wonder if a codeine and a White Russian would pick up where just the codeine seems to have left off….

Codeine Roominations:  Alphaville’s Lassie Come Home is one of the weirdest songs written in the 80s. Alphaville had a real knack for evoking a sort of cosmic sensibility in their music, an impression that one was listening to music written by futuristic space hippies from another dimension. This song is a classic example of that affect. There’s some wistful, bittersweet emotion behind the song, yet the lyrics make little or no sense. My favorite passage:

In the park, shes giving out some photographs
On which shes giving out some photos of what she hands around
They videoed a ghost tonite, she said before I turned it off
It rode an orange paper bike and left without a sound
Keep on riding, sir, open up the door and shout it out
Lassie come home, come home

If you don’t know the tune that goes with these lyrics, don’t even try to place them to music in your head; you’ll get it wrong.

More Codeine Roominations:  A lot of people speed on our street at two in the morning. Or maybe that’s just at two in the morning on a Saturday.

Okay, I’m going to go try this sleep thing one more time….

8/16/2007

Can’t Sleep….Big Daddies’ll Eat Me….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:43 pm

If things are a little slow on Uncle Andrew dot Net for a while, it’s because my connection is busy pre-loading Bioshock, which is now available on Steam, kaloo kalay!

So happy….

Bioshock

So….happy….

Bioshock

8/15/2007

So Many Misinterpretations, So Little Time….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:05 pm

Checking my referrers this morning, I happened across this little doozy from a Netizen in Barcelona, Spain, searching via Google UK:

procedure for cortisone injection in lumber region

I find it interesting that Google did not pick up on the misspelling of “lumbar”, as it so often does with other misentered search terms. As it was, there were plenty of poorly-proofed pages for this person to access. Mine only came up because of the purely coincidental juxtaposition of the actual term “lumber” in a previous post about my back and the phrase “cortisone injection” in a more recent post about my back. Backity back back.

(Hmm; that last part has just the right cadence for the “A Team” score. “Backity back baaaaack, back baack baaaaack, backity back baaaaack, ba-cky backy baaaaack….”)

*Ahem* Anyway, setting aside the probably non-native-English-speaking status of this person (a typically uncharitable move on my part), I found lots of humorous and/or ominous possibilities in this search string. Perhaps this person was trying to save a few bucks by looking for online tutorials on injecting cortisone into his own spine? I’m picturing some yahoo with an old 13-gauge horse syringe he found in the back of an uncle’s barn, freshly filled with an entire economy-sized tube of Anusol Cream (cortisone, hydrocortisone, whatever), looking at his back through a hand mirror and preparing to jam the thing into his third vertebral interstice. 😮

Or maybe the “lumber” part wasn’t a misspelling at all. Maybe this person was looking to shore up old, worn decking by tapping into the magical healing powers of the modern pharmacopeia.

Or, taking it a step further (perhaps a step too far), maybe the guy was having a little trouble in the “lumber region”, and was hoping that a cortisone injection would help him….um….get wood. 😛

8/13/2007

Food Fright, Part 18

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:09 am

Food Fright, Part 18

Eagle-eyed Margaret spotted this in the Dog Food aisle as we were leaving the QFC this weekend. Food Fright is no longer just for humans, if it ever was.

I don’t even have to expound on this one; a picture is worth a thousand words.

Though I will add one observation: the bag ought to have a big yellow starburst on it reading, “FREE RIFLE IN EVERY BAG!”

8/11/2007

The Saddest Things You’ll Ever See Are At The Starbucks

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 9:07 pm

I saw the saddest thing I hope to see in a long time last Saturday.

Andrew and I were in our local QFC, the one that just opened the Starbucks stand despite the fact that there’s a Starbucks storefront not 500 yards across the parking lot.
We were picking up some things for dinner when we rounded the end of an aisle and I saw, standing in the bakery looking at the catalogue of fancy children’s birthday cakes, a mother and daughter. Mom was maybe mid-30’s, somewhat taller and somewhat heavier than I, but not in the obese category. She looked a lot like a woman who exercised some but not enough and cared about her diet some, but not enough.
Her daughter however……

Daughter was maybe, maybe, 6 and had to weigh over 100 pounds. I’ve never seen such a truly, morbidly obese child.
And the worst part of it was that both mom and daughter were sucking on giant blended Starbucks drinks. Daughter was carrying a bigger Starbucks cup than I’ve ever ordered.
I just wanted to scream.

To a certain extent it is hypocritical of me to rant about this sort of thing, especially when I witnessed it on a shopping trip where we ended up purchasing a chocolate cream pie for our weekly dessert extravaganza. But I’m overweight, I know I’m overweight, and I put a lot of effort and thought into reversing the situation (or at least in keeping it from getting worse!)

This woman knows her daughter is obese and on a trip to the grocery store she purchases for her daughter and her daughter alone, a 32 ounce blended coffee drink (now in all fairness it may not have been coffee, it may have been one of the chocolate/caramel drinks, but regardless) that came in a cup that was longer than the child’s arm.
I wanted to go up and talk to her, to ask her if she knew that at no other time in her daughter’s life was she likely to have such a big influence and such rigid control over what her daughter consumed. To ask her if she knew that she was shortening her daughter’s life by setting an example and providing resources for her to further a problem that was already well advanced. To ask if she had considered purchasing her child a piece of freakin’ FRUIT as a treat while they were shopping. And why does a trip to the grocery store automatically require a treat anyway?
I wanted to rant a lot.

I know that there are underlying situations in the lives of this woman and her child that I’ll never know. Maybe the Starbucks drink was as a reward for the child who has been on a diet and had already lost 10 pounds. Maybe the kid has cancer and isn’t going to live long enough for diabetes, heart disease, blindness, amputations, and progressive debility to be a factor for her.
And I know that it would have been pretentious of me in the extreme to walk up to this woman and light into her about how she is raising her child. On the other hand I also think that my failure to act was a part of the problem that this increasingly obese country faces. Maybe if more people were willing to make an embarrassing public scene about things like this, more people would be shamed into being a little less permissive about their children’s diet. Sure the rant would end up backfiring on some people (“Well! How DARE you! My child has cancer and won’t live another 6 months. If she wants a giant coffee drink, a giant coffee drink she shall have!”), but since these days society frowns on calling an obese child obese, especially in public, societal pressure to do something to keep your child from being morbidly overweight has disappeared. Or at least it’s gotten very lost in the background.

While I decry in every way allowing words to become weapons that are used against the vunerable, I think that using words as weapons against those who are supposed to be protecting and nurturing the vunerable but ain’t is probably okay.

8/9/2007

Food Fright, Part 17

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:57 pm

Food Fright, Part 17

This one courtesy of Shawn, who spotted this at the grocery store and brought me a couple to feature here.

Where to begin, where to begin….

I think I will start where I would more typically end one of these entries; at the taste. A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is by no measure an epicurean delight. The chocolate that constitutes the major sensory platform doesn’t have much of a flavor at all besides “sweet”, and the peanut butter features a texture that is a miraculous alchemical combination of waxy and crumbly. For all that, it’s a pretty decent wad of low-bandwidth yumminess, just right for bingeing on during a schlocky horror film while waiting for Trick-or-Treaters to come a-knocking on your door.

That being said, the addition of a layer of mucilaginous artificial-banana-flavored “creme” (and it’s always “creme”, never “cream”; like spelling “crab” with a “k”, that novel nomenclature should hip you to the fact that there is in fact nothing cream-based, cream-like or even cream-esque about this substance) does nothing to contribute to the overall experience. It’s a fairly valiant attempt at banana flavoring as these things go, with a note of tart underlying the basic bland sweetness. (Ever have a stick of banana-flavored Tangy Taffy back in the day? [It’s since been taken over by the Wonka brand, and that site is so goddamn overloaded with Flash content that I won’t deign to post a link] Take that flavor and dial it back from “10” down to about “4”, and you get the basic idea.) But the effect is almost totally drowned out by the other signature flavors of their standard peanut butter cup, leaving the taster with only a light “off” note. Sort of a “milk on the edge of going sour” thing that makes you wonder if someone tampered with the package.

So thanks, Reese’s, but no thanks.

Then there’s everything else about this concept. Like, f’rinstance, the very notion of a “Collector’s Edition” peanut butter cup. I mean, I understand the basic concept of a collector’s edition: take the same old thing you’ve been manufacturing for eons, and change the packaging slightly in order to get impulsive whackjobs to buy thousands of them in the hopes that some day they will become valuable….or perhaps just to fill the black-and-cold-as-deep-space hole in their soul stemming from the knowledge that they may not have an absolutely complete set of Flintstones jelly jars/Microman action figures/Franklin Mint commemorative chess sets. (Hell, I myself have three different cans of Limited Edition Spam®: Hot & Spicy Spam®, Spam® with Cheese and Hawaiian Spam® No, it’s not as weird as collecting Flintstones jelly jars. Why? Because shut up, that’s why!).

But the main difference between collecting glass or plastic objects—or steel-jacketed foodstuffs so laden with nitrites and other preservatives that they are the nutritional equivalent of glass or plastic objects—and collecting a delicate, perishable and highly temperature-sensitive confectionery is that everything about the candy, from its constituent ingredients to the packaging, is not designed to withstand the tests of time. From the standpoint of the manufacturer and the reseller, this would seem to be the perfect collectible: a commodity that is by its very nature and composition ephemeral, fleeting, essentially uncollectible. Guaranteed repeat business.

And if the “Collector” idea isn’t weird enough, there’s the whole Elvis thing. Of course the connection between Elvis, peanut butter and bananas is well-established (not so sure about the addition of chocolate, but where The King is involved I wouldn’t label any gastronomic peccadillo beyond the scope of possibility). But, one’s feelings about his music aside, is anyone out there really interested in eating like Elvis? The fact that the Reese’s company chose an earlier portrait of Presley for their wrapper artwork instead of the more contemporary, anatomically accurate “Fat Elvis” should tell the consumer everything they might like to know about the wisdom of taking one’s meals ala King.

And what’s this “Live Like The King” sweepstakes? What exactly to I get if I win? Underage wife? Drug addiction? Early grave?

All in all, the total user experience of this product runs the gamut from slightly icky (flavor) through totally creepy (play our sweepstakes for the chance to live—briefly—like a famous fat train wreck of a pop star). Think next time I’ll just have a Twix instead. Assuming they’re neither offering their limited-edition Mackerel Creme Flavor, nor running some sort of Kurt Cobain-based sweepstakes.

8/7/2007

Recently Sighted

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:48 am

Wild Salmon Patties

Shot this at the QFC the other day.

*Sigh* You know, time was the waterways of the Puget Sound region were aswarm with shoals of gamboling wild salmon patties. During the spawning season you could visit just about any waterway and see the little fellers struggling valiantly against the current, while black and brown bears lined the wild rivers and streams, massive paws extended, hamburger buns at the ready. It was a sight to behold, and one of the things that first drew me to the beautiful, sylvan territory of the Pacific Northwest. Well, that and the fact that Evergreen was the only college that would take me.

Sadly, those days has passed, perhaps forever.

Some say the wild patties’ numbers have dwindled due to overharvesting; others cite the destruction of their habitat and the life-giving Tartar Moss that sustained them during their arduous journey to their ancient spawning grounds.

Me, I place the blame square on the shoulders of the commercial fish-patty farmers, and their unwitting introduction of a deadly competitor for resources: the salmon patties’ faster breeding, more aggressive cousin, the Filet-O-Fish.

8/5/2007

My Review of Moral Orel, Season 1

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:35 am

Okay, so it’s not really a movie, but if it comes into this house on a DVD then I’m going to treat it like a movie, including filing this under Movie Reviews. My server, my rules. 😎

For whatever reason, I’m not a huge consumer of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (save my feverish wait for the return of The Boondocks). So I had not heard about Moral Orel until we were over at my in-laws’ place for dinner one evening and Ron handed me an article from the Sunday edition of The Newsly Times (or whatever it was) about the show. From what I read in the paper, this show sounded like it was right up my pew. (Hmm, that came out sounding wrong, for some reason. Best just let it go….)

Moral Orel

Moral Orel is the story of Orel Puppington, a young boy who lives in the town of Moralton in the great state of Statesota. The show is loosely–l o o s e l y–patterned on the old Davey and Goliath, though there’s no dog character. I say “loosely patterned” because Moral Orel is Davey and Goliath turned on its head….perhaps suspended from the ceiling by leather straps, covered in Thousand Island dressing while five midgets spank it with mink-covered cricket bats.

See, Orel is constantly misinterpreting the messages given to him by the spiritual leaders in his life: his minister, his parents, his teachers. This leads him to do things like reanimate the dead, smoke crack, and fornicate with Moralton’s female population whilst they sleep. Aiding in his confusion is the fact that the whole town seems to have a dark, perversely sinister streak running through it, with all sorts of racial, sexual and other perfidies bubbling just below the WASPy surface.

With all this going for it, you’d think a cranky agnostic like me would give the show a rousting thumbs up.

Sadly, despite its originality and creepy cleverness, Moral Orel falls pretty short of the mark. I think it’s the nature of Orel’s misinterpretations that leave me uninspired. When I read about the program, I was expecting the producers to riff on actual Biblical verses and dicta, like that gorgeous letter to Doctor Laura did a few years back, or to expose the underlying weirdness of religious lore and doctrine when removed from its context, the way Parker and Stone did in their infamous Mormon episode of South Park. Instead, Orel is just taking the wrong tack on sermons and proclamations made by the adults in his life, who are for the most part oblivious, pathologically self-centered, a- or immoral yahoos. The show is more a commentary on the hypocritical and questionable aspects of life in a seemingly pious community, rather than a send-up of the wackier aspects of religion in general and Christianity in particular. And while this may be a viable angle for exploration in an adult comedy setting, I was really looking forward to something with a little more thought behind it than a tedious string of so-called “Lost Commandments” that the adults of Moralton use to justify every bizarre and inappropriate impulse they may have.

You might want to give Moral Orel a looksee during a rerun on Cartoon Network….certainly it’s worth a few chuckles….but I don’t think it rates going to any great effort to track down and watch. Pity, really; I had such–well, low hopes for it. 😈

8/2/2007

I’m a 3-peater

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 8:53 pm

So it looks like I’ll be walking solo for this year’s 3 Day. I’m really rather looking forward to it.

I’m about a month out and walking (or making every attempt to walk) somewhere between 15-20 miles per week. In another week or so I hope to increase that to 20-25 miles per week, but I’m running into some logistical problems for the longer walks.
In other words, it’s hard to continue to walk when all one is doing is trying to find a convenient and private bush behind which to have a desperately needed pee. It’s much easier to walk distances and remain well hydrated while doing so when one is provided a comfort station every 2-3 miles. I’ll figure it out.

I’m enjoying my training. It’s very soothing to have nothing to worry about besides what song is coming up next on the walking music file I’ve got on my i-Pod and the area through which I walk most of the time is drop dead gorgeous. I am trying very, very hard to include hills (both up and down) and multiple walking surfaces on my training route. Since I’ve made the basic rule that I have to walk to the beat of the song that is currently playing on the i-Pod, sometimes those uphill climbs can be remarkably strenuous.
I also find it fairly distressing to note that disco music in general, and The Village People in specific, makes extremely good walking music. I find it much easier to go up hills with “Go West” blasting at me.

I’ve thought a lot about what I’ll do walking 10-12 hours a day 3 days in a row with no specific group with which I am associated. I’m not by nature a tremendously outgoing person, but I’ve found in previous years that it’s an easy thing to strike up a converstation with just about anyone on just about any topic (although the conversations are very often boob or walking centered). I’m considering carrying a small digital voice recorder with me so I can record some of my conversations with people, full disclosure ahead of time of course, and have some sort of coherant written commentary to blog on as well as photos. Still working on fleshing that idea out, I’ll have to get back to you all.

I’m also wondering a lot about the route this year. In 2002 we walked from the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw to Auburn on the first day, from Auburn to Bellevue on the second day, and from Bellevue to Seattle Center (via the I-90 bridge and south Seattle) on the third. The I-90 crossing and the walk through downtown were a real hoot. In 2005 we walked from Lake Sammamish State Park to Marymoor Park on the first day which was remarkably frustrating because I know the area like the back of my hand and was tempted more than once to take off in an unapproved short cut just to keep from having to walk back and forth. On the second day we walked from Marymoor to some place outside of Shoreline and on the third we walked from Shoreline through Ballard and Freemont to Magnuson Park on Lake Washington. I didn’t get to walk last year but my understanding is that they camped in one spot and walked loops from camp to camp on the first two days, suffering many a shin splint on the second which mostly consisted of up hills, and then walked from camp to the closing ceremonies in Seattle on the third day. I don’t know that I’d really enjoy the loop walking as much. At least with the long strung out route you really felt like you were accomplishing something. This year they’re starting us out at Bellevue Community College and ending 3 days later at the Seattle Center again. I think I’m in for loops unless they plan on sending us WAY south and WAY east before letting us head WAY north and WAY west. I hope we get to cross the bridge again.

And I’m a little concerned about how the tummy weasels will behave. Most days so long as I am careful about eating frequently (shouldn’t be a problem), eating carefully, and swallowing a shocking handful of dietary supplements, the tummy weasels and I get along quite nicely. I’m anxious about the affect that significant physical exercise paired with frequent infusions of food with which the weasels may not be completely familiar will have on same. I’m considering carrying a small bottle of Pepto with me in my waist pack but the idea of honking down a slug of Pepto while hot, sweaty, and constantly in need of liquids is a little (okay a lot) horrifying. YUG! On the other hand the idea of getting pulled off the route and sent to the medics or sent home with chronic debilitating indigestion is considerably less appealing so maybe I’ll just suck it up and carry the Pepto

Andrew has promised to do the shirt design. I’ve got a really good idea of what I want, I just need to hand it over to him for coordination and fine tuning. Hee hee! This year’s design is even going to blow the first shirt (the “Because Pets Have ’em Too” shirt) out of the water. Hee hee hee! This one’s going to involve Sperm whales and gerbils and I refuse to answer any more questions until the design is done.

Anyway, that’s the latest update from me-n-my feet.
Please consider following the link below and sponsoring me. I’m about halfway to my minimum amount and every little bit helps a lot.
http://www.the3day.org/seattle07/margarethammond

8/1/2007

Wow, Icky And Stupid!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:04 pm

Hey, you! Yeah, you, the perv from Lima, Peru, who happened to leave tracks across my blog around eight-thirty this evening.

By this time you’ve already seen (or at least glanced at) my personal feelings regarding your desire for incest porn, since that’s exactly where your grotty little search landed you on my site. However little I may care for your taste in titillation, I feel the need to offer this particular bit of tid regarding your search technique:

If one is, in fact, trawling the Web via Google Image Search for “uncle fuck niece”, perhaps, for the sake of efficiency, one might elect to also show at least the minimum requisite forebrain and turn off the Safe Search function?

This has been a public service announcement. 🙄


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