cooking, meme slut

Yet more food

This post was first published way back in 2006. I’ve updated it (things in italics) to reflect the what I’ve eaten since the post was originally sent forth to wreck havoc on an unsuspecting world. Using the tags on my last post [1] lead me to schustafa’s blog, where he linked to a list compiled by the BBC of 50 Things to Eat Before You Die. The list is:

1. Fresh fish
2. Lobster
3. Steak
4. Thai food
5. Chinese food
6. Ice cream
7. Pizza

8. Crab
9. Curry
10. Prawns
11. Moreton Bay Bugs
12. Clam chowder

13. Barbecues
14. Pancakes
15. Pasta

16. Mussels
17. Cheesecake
18. Lamb
19. Cream tea
20. Alligator

21. Oysters
22. Kangaroo
23. Chocolate
24. Sandwiches
25. Greek food
26. Burgers
27. Mexican food

28. Squid
29. American diner breakfast
30. Salmon
31. Venison

32. Guinea pig
33. Shark
34. Sushi

35. Paella
36. Barramundi
37. Reindeer
38. Kebab
39. Scallops
40. Australian meat pie
41. Mango
42. Durian fruit
43. Octopus
44. Ribs
45. Roast beef
46. Tapas
47. Jerk chicken/pork

48. Haggis
49. Caviar
50. Cornish pasty

Things struckthrough are things that I’ve eaten; things in red are things that could kill me if I ate them [2].  I am now down to just “guinea pig” as an uneaten “delicacy”. Anyone know a ten year old with a spare pet? (I kid!)

So – how well do you score? And what would your alternate list of “50 things ya gotta eat” look like?

John

[1] This is one of the better features of Vox, IMHO; it encourages “browsing” in much the same way that looking up an unfamiliar word in the encyclopedia does. Inevitably, the information gleaned from those unplanned stops is more useful that what I originally went looking to find…

[2] Lobster was quite the experience. It was a good thing that it was badly prepared so I only ate a mouthful; that alone almost put me in the hospital. It turns out that I cannot eat anything with a shell, nor anything prepared with anything with a shell. This made living in Louisianna, where “crawfish boils” are a local tradition, somewhat interesting.
geek points, humor, meme slut

A Little Nonsense

A wise man once said that “a little nonsense every now and then is relished by the wisest men” [1,2]. And so that’s what I present today – a little nonsense for you to chuckle over or chuck out, as you wish [3]. The folks over at the Movoto Real Estate Blog have ranked (almost) every zip code in the US from most desirable to least desirable based on the usual set of characteristics [4]. They came up with a nice map (see below) and a handy-dandy “How’d you do” button.

Movoto's map of the best zip codes to live in
Movoto’s map of the best zip codes to live in

Not one to let a source of amusement lie idle, I’ve put in the zip codes for the top fourteen places that I’ve lived over the past mumbledy-some years. That gives the following results [5]; the ones in bold are where I still own houses for one reason or another:

Place Zip Code Rank
Portland, OR 97239 2,134
Benicia, CA 94510 3,293
Alexandria, VA 22304 3,408
Katy, TX 77450 3,494
La Habra, CA 90631 9,395
Norman, OK 73071 9,959
Houston, TX 77055 15,594
New Orleans, LA 70116 17,957
Narrows, VA 24124 19,216
Chicago, IL 60626 20,497
Miami, FL 33125 23,309
Lafayette, LA 70501 24,357
Oklahoma City, OK 73129 26,515

It is worth noting that I started off on a high note; I was born in the best zip code in the list. (And it’s been all downhill since then – just ask my folks!) And honestly, I don’t agree with a lot of the rankings. I wouldn’t live in Alexandria again on a bet. The city was crowded with terrible transportation and amazingly high prices; if I want that, I’ll live in Houston. (Oh. Wait.) And Oklahoma City is getting very short shrift; it is one of my favorite places to live. (Though having most of my family there might have something to do with that…)

So where was the “most desirable” place that you’ve ever lived? Where was the worst? Can you beat my high score?

John

[1] Chocolate geek points for the reference!
[2] I am listening to “The Sound of Music” while writing this (don’t judge me!). That phrase fits in perfectly and weirdly (and perfectly weirdly) with the “Do-Re-Mi” tune.
[3] Geek Points of Unusual Size for the reference!
[4] Median income, housing costs, unemployment, number of troll attacks, that sort of thing.
[5] One of the reasons that this sort of thing is nonsense is because those rankings aren’t static; places gentrify and become more desirable (witness Alexandria) or decay and become less desirable (witness Alexandria).

humor, meme slut

Cookie for your thoughts

Just when you thought it was safe to go back onto the blog, here is something that combines the two worst [1] inventions of the 20th century: personality quizzes [2] and Girl Scout Cookies.

Jezebel’s “What Kind of Girl Scout Cookie Are You” quiz is refreshingly simple. It has five questions and even asks you to tally the score yourself. Unfortunately, it is also a little non-diagnostic. My score was “one of each”. Either I’m not a cookie [3] or I’m a sampler tray. Either way, it was a fun little quiz.

John

[1] By which I mean “most addictive”.

[2] A typical guy personality quiz: “Are you breathing?” A typical non-guy personality quiz: “It is the ninth of May. The weather is sunny and fair. Your best friend’s uncle’s niece’s teacher just had a car accident. What do you have for breakfast?”

[3] “Dammit, Jim, I’m a breakfast cereal, not a cookie!” (Classic geek points for the reference!)

humor, meme slut

Meme slut: How scholarly is your discourse?

There’s an amusing report out this week that discusses the deplorable level of discourse in the Congress. Of course, what they deplore isn’t what you and I might. They don’t care that the two sides have gotten further from the middle, nor that they have gotten less likely to compromise, nor that they are playing politics with our future even more than is their standard wont. No, what the report deplores is the ever-decreasing level of education apparent in the rhetoric [1]. In 1996, the typical Congressman spoke at a twelfth-grade level, with words such as “foreasmuch” and “heretofore” peppering an otherwise bland spate of political drivel [2]. This year’s Congress took it down a couple of notches and speaks at a tenth-grade level  [3].

But this begs the question – at what level do we speak? Is the level of discourse on my blog elevated above the norm, or are we dull, plebeians suited for nought but a life of reality TV and lottery tickets? With that in mind, I hied me hence to a Reliability Index Calculator similar to the one used by the Sunlight  Foundation to rank Congress’ speeches. The results were interesting. In general [4], my entries on this blog come in at about an eleventh-grade level. So, if you are reading my stuff here, you are at least as smart as the typical Congresscritter [5]. And my “Secret Science Society” entries on the other blog come in at a sixth-grade level, which is exactly where i wanted them to be [6]. But my entries on planetology are coming in at a twelfth-grade level. Honestly, I don’t know if this is good (raise the level of discussion) or bad (limit the number of readers). But there it is.

So – where do you rank?

John

[1] To the extent that some members of Congress cannot even spell rhetoric, much less use it.

[2] The drivel part has unfortunately not changed.

[3] This still puts them ahead of the typical American, who speaks at an eighth-grade level. Sad, isn’t it?

[4] I.e., by using the first three entries to catch my eye.

[5] If you don’t know whether to laugh or weep at that, join the club.

[6] Yeah!

meme slut

Meme slute: Back of the line!

As you may have heard, there are now more than 7,000,000,000 humans living on Earth. In honor of that, the UN has created a web site [1] that allows you to find out where you are in line. Me, I’m number 76,953,987,440 (the most recent person is #83,215,467,008):

John

[1] More precisely, they have created an overly intrusive website that tells you where you are in line, but only if you volunteer information about where you are today. Do what iu did and tell the truth about where and when you were born but lie on the rest of it. That is none of their business!

meme slut

Meme slut: How unique is your household?

The New York times has a fun interactive on their web site right now. Using data from the 2010 census, it allows you to find out how many households in the US are like yours. For example, there are approximately 461,000 households like mine, and only 11,279 households like the one that I grew up in (two parents, six kids, middle class) [1].

The graphics are basic, but the information is fascinating. So go, explore!

John

[1] I guess that means that I am becoming more mainstream, huh?

meme slut

Look! A crowd!

Let me go follow it!

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?

Yes, I was named after approximately 3 billion people and before another 6 billion.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?

Last night, when I roamed the town with my sign-board and bells shouting “Oyez! Oyez!”

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?

I prefer my hand doing other things.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LUNCH MEAT?

Whom are you calling “meat”?

DO YOU HAVE KIDS?

No, I don’t like goats.

IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?

Yes, because Siamese Twins typically get along fairly well. But if I were two other people, I’d probably duel to the death because three heads are bitter then none.

DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?

Only on squirrels.

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?

No, I lost them in a game of high-stakes poker.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?

If it were in the way.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CEREAL?

Barley. Preferably served with hops and water.

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?

No – do you have any idea how difficult it is to put loafers into a knot in the first place?

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?

No, I think I am John.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ICE CREAM?

The kind that is in my bowl.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?

That they rarely use the phrase “Sesquipedalianism has been the death of antidisestablishmentarianism among bookkeepers.”

RED OR PINK?

Up or down?

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?

That I am not the Evil Overlord of the Universe [1].

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?

Jack Lynch, as he would have told you that the proper usage is “whom“.

WHAT IS THE PAUL MCKENNA TECHNIQUE THAT YOU NEED TO WORK ON THE MOST?

The one that makes all women love me and all men give me their wallets [1].

WHAT COLOUR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?

I am wearing out several pairs of shoes, so the question has several answers, the most correct of which is “All of them”.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?

Gum, by gum!

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

The sounds of silence.

IF YOU WERE A CRAYON WHAT COLOUR WOULD YOU BE?

Melted.

FAVOURITE SMELLS?

Then give him a bath.

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?

Nobody.

MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?

Which one gives me closest access to a volcano?

FAVOURITE SPORT TO WATCH?

Pitz

HAIR COLOUR?

He’s a small, grey hare.

EYE COLOUR?

I don’t know – do you color?

DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?

No, I call them.

FAVOURITE FOOD?

One that somebody else cooks.

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?

The two are not mutually exclusive.

LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?

Debbie does seismic.

WHAT COLOUR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?

An infinitely colored one.

SUMMER OR WINTER?

Yes.

HUGS OR KISSES?

Hugs are kisses.

FAVOURITE DESSERT?

The one I’m about to have (may I be truly thankful).

STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?

Sleep.

COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?

Mad robot.

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?

None. I’m answering poorly-phrased questions.

WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?

A mouse. Eek!

FAVOURITE SOUND?

Ka-ching!

ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?

It is much easier to roll a stone. The beatles try to run away

WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?

24,901 miles.

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?

Yes. I keep it in a vault so that none may steal it.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN?

Over there.

WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?

Right here.

WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR HOUSE?

It was red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ocher and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve and cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and grey and purple and white and pink and orange and red and yellow and green and brown, scarlet and black and ocher and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve and cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and grey and purple and white and pink and orange and blue [1]

WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR CAR?

Gun-metal grey.

DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 50 QUESTIONS?

I can’t say – there are only forty-nine questions here!

John

[1] Geek points for the reference!

meme slut

Day 30 – Your favorite movie of all time

And here we are at the end of the month with the all-time showstopper question: What is my favorite movie of all time?

Being me, I’m going to weasel out of answering the question because it is poorly phrased. In the first place, I can only tell you my favorite movie of the past century, as we haven’t passed through all time yet. In the second place, I have as many favorite movies as I have moods. So I’ll just tell you my favorite movie to cure the “Working at the carwash blues” [1]. Whenever life gets me down, Mrs. Brown, I sit myself down with a big bowl of popcorn and watch Flash Gordon.

Why Flash Gordon? First, because it is so cheesy that it is good. The stilted acting, the wonderfully bad special effects and costumes [2], the kitschy dialogue [3], and the over-the-top plot just add up to something mind-blowingly bad. And second, because it has the worst soundtrack by the best band [4]. And third (and most importantly), because it reminds me that if the folks involved with this turkey can survive, so can I.

John

[1] Which, technically, I shouldn’t get as I have a great job. But life is no respector of what should and should happen; it is merely what does happen.
[2] The lizard-men are a particular favorite.
[3] Say it with me, everyone: “Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!”
[4] Two hours of “Flash! A-ah!” does not a soundtrack make, Freddy!

meme slut

Day 29 – A movie everyone hated but you liked

This question is a logical impossibility. If everyone hated a movie, then I cannot have liked it, as I am a subset of the set “everyone”.  What I suspect the question is supposed to be is “What is a movie that you liked but most people did not?” If we use that question, then there are several answers, from the maudlin to the obscure. I’ll just tackle the end-members and leave the interstitia as an exercise for the student [1].

On the maudlin end, we have Secondhand Lions. A combination of bildungsromans and period comedy (with touches of künstlerroman thrown in for spice), the movie is both an homage to and a parody of the old serials. The plot is simple: Young boy is left with unfriendly relatives (his putative uncles). They bond while dealing with even more unpleasant relatives. Life lessons are learned [2].

The plot is advanced in a serial way, with set pieces that themselves serve as backdrops for films within the film; these are set in Europe and Africa during the first half of the 20th century, and feature the uncles’ adventures as they amass a fortune that their relatives all want in the regular part of the movie.  All in all, the movie is enjoyable, though some of the characters are rather more broadly drawn than one might like. Despite this, the movie was a “failure” in that it only made a 60% profit [3].  Nevertheless, I enjoy the movie (especially the way that the lead trio play off of each other) and am glad that my sister introduced me to it [4].

On the obscure end, there is Down and Dirty Duck. A relic of the mid-70’s cheap and slightly pornographic  animation craze that is neatly book-ended by Fritz the Cat and Rock & Rule, Dirty Duck (as it is known to its aficionados) is a mix of Head [5], The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, picaresque novels, and Busby Berkeley in a glorious polysendetic mess. The protagonist is a nebbish insurance adjuster named Willard Isenbaum who lives a rich fantasy life. For example, in the opening sequence, a flower on his windowsill turns into the object of his desire (a secretary at work). The problem is that he all too frequently lives in that fantasy world instead of the real one, which causes him interminable troubles [6]. His problems only get worse when he is sent on an adjustment call to refuse the claim of a woman who says her Ouija board told her that she would die on Tuesday and could she please have her payout now? The woman dies during the call [7] and Willard inherits her child/lover, the Dirty Duck. From there, things just get strange, with homages to Easy Rider, 200 Motels, the Beatles, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The movie is an equal-opportunity offender that both pokes fun at and points out troubles caused by racial tensions, sexuality laws, and assorted other societal ills.

As was the case with Secondhand Lions, I was introduced to the film by a sibling. My brother had bought the movie from a predecessor of Blockbuster that was being closed and needed a place to hide it. As I was living in my own apartment at the time, I agreed to stash it for him. My friends John and Ken came over one night and we watched it and laughed ourselves silly. Ever since then, we have gotten together at least once a year to drink beer and watch the movie.

So there are two movies that most people didn’t like but I did. What are your entries into the sweepstakes?

John

[1] Educator-speak for “This problem is too hard for me, so I’ll let you work it out.”
[2] The most important of which is “never trust a salesman”.
[3] There is something seriously wrong in an industry where a 60% profit is considered to be a failure. Then again, if they had accounted it as a “success’, then we might be faced with the dubious prospect of “Secondhand Lions 2: The Uncles’ Revenge”.
[4] Though my eviler self [i] wonders if she was trying to give a subtle clue as to what I should do with my “fortune” [ii] when I die.
[5] Which I have just learned was orginially going to be called “Changes” and was produced by the same folks who would later do Easy Rider. Why the shift? So that Easy Rider could be promoted as being “From the same guys who gave you Head!”
[6] To the point that his boss tells him “You’ve been at  the top of my shit list so long that I’m going to have to start a new shit list just for you, sort of a shit list supreme”.
[7] “The Ouija board was right. It is Tuesday.”

[i] I don’t have a better self. Just evil and eviler selves.
[ii] If I die before I retire, I’ll leave enough for each kid to put him/herself through college and not much more. And my will already leaves the money to the kids, so there was no need to nudge me.

meme slut

Day 28 – Favorite title

I was severely tempted to go with “Duke“, but decided to tackle this one from a more pedestrian viewpoint. There are any number of good movie titles, ranging from the appropriate [1] to the hilariously inappropriate [2]. But my favorite is La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful).

The title alone tells you that this is a movie about how wonderful life is. What it doesn’t do is tell you how it will tell you about the glory of life. The movie itself plays with your expectations. Set in the late 1930’s, it opens looking like any number of understated English comedies. Except for “understated” you should read “wildly slapstick” and for “English” you should read “Italian”. The protagonist Guido is a goon [3]; that is, he is socially inept, physically awkward, and completely charming.  During the first act of the movie, Guido slowly woos a beautiful young woman (Dora) using his quick wits and child-like joie de vie. By the end of the first act, he has ruined a reception for a local official and ridden out of the hotel with his lady love on a horse that has been painted green by fascist vandals.

But it is in the second act that you discover why life is beautiful. It opens abruptly, as Dora and her mother come back to the house where Dora, Guido, and their five-year old son Giosu live. The doors are open, the furniture has been smashed, and everyone has disappeared. Following Dora, you discover that Guido and Giosu have been loaded on a train for a concentration camp [4].

The remainder of the movie follows Guido and Giosu as they try to survive the camp. In order to shield his young son from the dangers and horrors of the camp, Guido convinces him that they are playing a game – and the winner gets a real Army tank. Using the “rules” of the game, Giodo manages to shield his son from the horrors that surrounds them while protecting him. On his father’s directions, Giosu plays hide-and-go-seek and avoids being sent to the gas chambers with the rest of the children. Guido sneaks Giosu into a party for the camp commander’s children; on the way back, Guido gets lost in the fog and you see one of the best images ever filmed as the bodies of the dead slowly come into focus through the mist. And Guido keeps this up throughout the entire war, until the camp is finally liberated by the Americans. But before that happens, Guido does one last act of supreme heroism and self-sacrifice [5].

And, at the end of the movie, your faith in humanity is renewed. Despite everything that the war and the Fascists and stupid, blind racism could do to convince you that man is evil and life is crap, you decide with the child that life is beautiful.

And that’s why that is my favorite movie title.

John

[1] E.g., The Ring, The Grudge, The Fly – the title gives you just enough information to be intrigued but not so much that you don’t want/need to see the movie.

[2] E.g., Repo Men, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies! – the title shouldn’t be a joke and that tells the audience that they are the ones being used as a punch line.

[3] Figuratively speaking [i]. He was unfortunately born too late to be part of the Goon Show – but he would have given Peter Sellers a run for his money!

[4] And you hear one of the most perfect lines in all of moviedom. Staring straight at the Fascist officer who has just told her to go home and forget abotu her husband and son, Dora says “My husband and son are on that train. I want to get on that train. Did you hear me? I want to get on that train.” Get on it she does.

[5] No, I’m not going to tell you what it is. Go watch the movie. Bring plenty of tissues.

[i] Using the original meaning of the word, of course. Like “nimrod” before it, common usage has changed the meaning.