Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indiana Jones and The Zimmer Frame of Doom

I haven't seen the current Indiana Jones flick, so don't take the title as a slam on Harrison Ford or the movie franchise. Ok, you can take it as a slam on Temple of Doom, but I think everyone here would rather pretend it just didn't happen. What I'm trying to talk about, and will get to eventually, is the power of marketing not only to shape our perceptions, but the fabric of the very reality in which we sit. Note to those of you who stand while reading the internet: Siddown!

For the past few days I haven't been able to move the left side of my face. [Don't Panic. They think it's Bell's Palsy, and temporary.] No particular reason, really, I just lost a little function Friday night, and by Saturday it felt like I'd just come home from the Dentist in a tingly-novacaine-about-to-wear-off kinda way. The odd twist came when I realized that my left cheek and surrounding area wasn't numb, it was paralyzed, in an Hey-My-Face-Doesn't-Work-Anymore kinda way. To stifle the immediate reaction of an undisclosed number of You People out there, I am aware that there are some for whom my face has never worked. However, it has always worked for me. (And for Steffi Graf? You'll have to ask her. That's all I've got to say about that.) Now hush.

Faces are, on the (and when) whole, wonderfully handy things. Handsome faces even more so. Being able to blink your eye fully closed keeps it moist and irritant free. Being able to control your lips helps you spit instead of slobber, smile instead of smirk, clearly annunciate your bilabial aspirated fricatives, and keeps other people from fleeing the table when you're eating soup. It also allows you to kiss beyond Junior High School Level. On the other hand, my hopefully temporary partial paralysis has done wonders for my Elvis impersonation*, and my People's Eyebrow has never been more convincing.

Faces also sell things. Babies learn early early on to zero in on Mom's face. It makes everyone smile (another facial skill) and the little tyke gets what he needs. And a baby that can do his own smiling can make even the coldest, meanest, orneriest sumbich melt like a Nazi in an Indiana Jones movie.

So when Harrison Ford's face shows up on a movie poster under the Leather Fedora, we whip out the cash and troop to the theater like good little drones. Because the marketing folks know what we like. Of course they know, they trained us. More to the point, when Harrison Ford's face shows up on a Snicker's Bar, we whip out the bucks and buy them too. But it's not just a candy bar. Not with Harrison Ford's mug on the wrapper. It's an "Adventure Bar". How about that?

So let me see. I can either swing through the mosquito infested rain forest, tracking down some antiquity of inscrutable origin and even more unfathomable evil, pursued all the while by Nazi's, henchmen, savage monkeys, (did I mention mosquitoes?), and I don't know what-all, OR (and here's where I get back to marketing like I promised) I can just eat a candy bar and have: Exactly. The. Same. Experience. Hmmm. Risk dismemberment, consumption, partial facial paralysis, or eat a Candy, no, Adventure Bar? Geez Monty, that's a tough one. Let me get back to ya. I got a guy on the other line about a set of white-walls.

*"Thank ya. Thank ya very much. Hey... uh.. C-can I get some more gravy on this?"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Food Groups

Snacks can be classified by how well they balance the four basic food groups: sugar, salt, fat, and caffeine. Any decent junk food has two of the four. Doritos: Salt and fat. Coke: Sugar and caffeine. Add a third and the value goes up dramatically. Chocolate: Sugar, fat and caffeine. Yumm-tasty!

Achieving casual nosh-nirvana isn't as easy as just gobbing on the goo. I almost found the courage to try a deep fried snickers bar at the state fair this year, but my gall bladder clenched up and wouldn't let go of my esophagus until I'd cleared the exit. On the other hand, peanut butter chocolate chip rice crispy treats are quite tasty. That 255 mg of sodium in one cup of Rice Krispies sure cranks up the old blood pressure in the morning, and peanut butter hits the trifecta [FAT, SALT, SUGAR] all by its lonesome.

The best I've been able to do is the humble offering below, which would have won a ribbon at the state fair if those old biddies hadn't let them dry out for two days before proclaiming them "good flavor, but dry". Well, Thank you Martha Stewart! They were left out for two freakin' days! Geeeee-zus! I'm sure the Queen was all over the Royal Catering Society to get Princess Di's wedding cake finished and set out in the sun a full 48 hours before the reception so it would have time to properly cure. Lord. Ham. Mercy.

So here's the recipe for Tom's No Bake Ultimate Hell-Raise Peanut Butter Fudge Oatmeal Cookies (AKA Horse Patties). By the way you can either take my advice and eat them when they're barely cool enough, or follow the lead of The North Carolina State Fair Old Bat's Committee to Frustrate Aspiring Bakers Who Really Have Better Things to Do With Their Time But Figure What the Heck I'll Give it a Go Just for Fun and Defenders of Traditional Country Women's Domain (wow, it's hard to type with this much blood deforming my eyeballs from within) We'll Teach Those... Those Men to Stay Out of Our Kitchens and Sit Back Down in Front of the Television Where They Belong and let them dessicate on the sidewalk in front of your flat for a fortnight or so.

Am I bitter? No, I'm angry.

Tom's No Bake Ultimate Hell-Raise Peanut Butter Fudge Oatmeal Cookies (AKA Horse Patties)

2 Cups sugar [SUGAR]
1 1/2 Stick of Butter [FAT, SALT]
1/2 Cup Milk [FAT]

3 TableSpoons Cocoa [CAFFEINE]
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter [FAT, SALT, SUGAR]
1 TableSpoon Vanilla Extract [Smells nice]

3 Cups Quick Oats [Takes up space]
1/2 Cup Sweetened Coconut [FAT, SUGAR]

Heat the Sugar, Butter and Milk slowly in a large saucepan, gently stirring until it starts to boil. Reduce heat slightly and let boil gently for 3 minutes without stirring. (This keeps it from hardening too much later. If it's boiling too violently, just remove it from the heat.)

Quickly stir in Cocoa and Peanut Butter. When combined, remove from heat and stir in the Vanilla Extract, the Coconut, and then add the Quick Oats a cup at a time.

Distribute on wax paper, let cool, then consume.

Makes two cookies. One to eat and one to share.

Road Tunes

One of the reasons I really like my car stereo is that it plays mp3 and wmv files. Which means I can put all of my Paul Thorn albums on one disk, and not have to shuffle them in traffic. I suppose I'm a luddite for even owning CDs, but I'm not inclined to cough up the bucks to Bill's Evil Coupertino Twin until he can promise me he won't take my music away.

I snapped this horridly appropos picture as I was leaving work after a long day.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I'm a #9 Curly McCoy

Myers-Briggs don't know nuthin'. It doesn't matter if you're Empathic-Aggressive, Extroverted-Logical, Effusive-Misanthropic or any other useless combination of terms slapped together by The Man. What matters is your position on the Stooge-Trek Matrix. Line up your favorite Stooge with your favorite Trek-guy and all will be revealed.

#1 Moe Kirk: You're a bossy, philandering, control freak. You mete out destruction when you don't get your way. Everyone still likes you, despite your hair.

#2 Larry Kirk: You have a Walter Middy-esque fantasy life. Outwardly reserved and loyal, you'd be a leader if you weren't such a great target.

#3 Curly Kirk: Chaos follows in your wake. The center of attention, you'll go over, under, around, or preferably through, all obstacles.

#4 Moe Spock: It's no coincidence they had the same hair cut. MoeSpocks are smart, and hindered only by their smug sense of superiority.

#5 Larry Spock: You're a right-hand man all the way. An indispensable Man-Friday. Many US Vice Presidents were LarrySpocks.

#6 Curly Spock: Full of contradictions, you struggle to control your inner demon-child, and rationalize the occasional odd outburst.

#7 Moe McCoy: A meticulous neat freak. You do things by the book, regardless of which book it happens to be.

#8 Larry McCoy: Sensitive and artistic, you're happiest alone or in small groups. Music is your life.

#9 Curly McCoy: You do it all in the name of misapplied science. You mix chemicals just to see which ones blow up.