Our Own Southern Strategery

Last week was a week full of fun, family, friends, frivolity and lots of driving.
Brad has already admirably covered our brief stint in Norf Caruhlienuh, so I will decline to comment upon it except to note that I look far more like John Belushi as “Samurai Delicatessen” samurai than the prototypical Westernized depiction of Jesus.
So wife, child and I bundled ourselves into our Folks Vaagen Wagon Of Misery two Saturdays ago and made our way towards the shores of northern South Carolina. We stopped overnight at my aunt’s place in Richmond, VA and set off towards North Myrtle Beach somewhat refreshed and reinvigorated on Sunday morning (as refreshed, etc. as one can be when sharing a room with a 20-month-old in unfamiliar circumstances, that is).
My brother’s in-laws own a series of 4 condos in NMB and so they graciously allowed us to use all four for the week. We arrived in North Myrtle Beach and spent the better part of the next four days trundling ourselves between our condo and the beach, accompanied by 25 of my relatives — parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and even a great aunt. We slathered on great amounts of 30+ SPF sunscreen, thus I returned no tanner than I had left, which is to say: I am visible at out to 1800 yards with the unaided eye. I reflect more light than three Moby Dicks and roughly 103.5 reams of 20-weight copier paper.
I golfed with my brothers and father on Wednesday afternoon and scored (and I am not making this up) a 133. The course is a regulation one, meaning that par is 72 strokes per 18 holes. That’s right: I scored 61 over par. With cheating. Hooyeah!
We dined out at a seafood buffet on Wednesday night to celebrate my grandfather’s 80th birthday and managed to make an already loud restaurant that much louder. A good time was had by all.
After our two day foray into NC, we headed northwards again. We stayed at my aunt’s again Friday evening and then trekked our way back towards Philly, detouring from I-95 briefly around Frodericksburg (“Eyegor!”), VA to visit a Sonic Drive-In, a culinary treat that is prolific in the South but sadly lacking in the Yankee hinterlands. That, plus the Krispy Kreme run I made and the hushpuppies consumed at the seafood buffet almost made for a Southern fast-food delicacy trifecta; unfortunately, I was unable to obtain any SC mustard-based BBQ, thus I think the trifecta was more like a 2.5/3.0-fecta. Ahhh well, there’s always the next time.
In all, ’twas fun-but-draining. As so often is the case, I need a vacation after my vacation…
(Left undiscussed due to space constraints are GPS devices, Women of the Night, drug deals, manta rays and a rousing game of twilight beach bocce.)

Conspiracies, Man, Conspiracies!

Several disturbing conspiracies have come to light recently and I just can’t keep quiet about them any more.
First up is the Great Shrinking Cadbury Creme Egg conspiracy, as pointed out by noted researcher and comedian B.J. Novak:

I knew something was up when Cadbury, that most English of companies, was gobbled up by a Swiss company in 1969(!). There’s something about that year, man!
First there was “Loose Change“, the insane and ignorant of basic physical realities and, well, physicsbrave documentary that first inspired 9/11 “Truthers” to look into the truth behind our government’s involvement and complicity in the WTC attacks, the Moon landings and disco music. Also, I think Rosie O’Donnell and Charlie Sheen may have watched it a time or two.
In any event, there still remain great conspiracies to be busted: JFK’s assassination by CIA-trained Cubans left over from the Bay of Pigs Invasion and funded by Texas oil interests, Bell Helicopter and the Mafia all supervised by LBJ, George Bush’s 2000 Presidential “win” and the Great Eye on the back of American paper currency (check it out! It’s straight from the Illuminati!). One of the last unvisited conspiracies, though, is the sinking of the Titanic. Fortunately, a brave filmmaker, inspired by Loose Change, has composed Unfastened Coins, a riveting documentary that proves, once and for all, that the Titanic wasn’t sunk by an iceberg but by some kind of “Berg”, if you get my meaning:

That stuff is on the Internet, man, so it must be true!

The Day This Passes In The U.S. Is The Day Texas Passes A “Concealed Stinger Missile Law”

Via Best of the Web we have word of a troubling development in the world of outdoor food preparation:

The government of Belgium’s French-speaking region of Wallonia, which has a population of about 4 million, has approved a tax on barbequing, local media reported.
Experts said that between 50 and 100 grams of CO2, a so-called greenhouse gas, is emitted during barbequing. Beginning June 2007, residents of Wallonia will have to pay 20 euros [That’s around $27 in non-metric currency. -ed.] for a grilling session.
The local authorities plan to monitor compliance with the new tax legislation from helicopters, whose thermal sensors will detect burning grills.
Scientists believe CO2 emissions are a major cause of global warming.

Emphasis mine.
All I know is that if any such madness were ever approved in the U.S. and A., those helicopters would be dropping from the sky at a rate that would make Al Qaeda In Iraq look like a bunch of poofters, I tell you whut.

Happy Thanksgiving, Three Days Late.

I hope all of your Thanksgiving weekends were nice. I spent most of it AFK, as it were. Wife, child and I trekked over to my aunt and uncle’s place in Reading for Thanksgiving Day festivities. In tow we had my wife’s famous cornbread dressing (“stuffing”, to we Yankees), pecan “tassies” (think “miniature pecan pies” made in a mini muffin pan) and my own attempt at a dessert, a pumpkin cheesecake. Based on a crushed Sweetels crust (in lieu of the more traditional graham cracker one) and a whole lot of cream cheese, I thought it came out rather well. Turkey, ham and Titusville Potatoes were in abundance and a good time was had by all.
We stayed the night at my parents house so that my wife could spend Friday in the now-traditional “Black Friday Female Shop-Fest” – and kudos go to her for doing so with a bum foot. Will and I stayed behind at my parents’ house and hung out with my oldest-younger brother for the day.
The rest of the weekend has been largely devoted to cleaning up ’round the ol’ homestead and watching DVRed Mythbusters. Hopefully posting will resume on a regular schedule very soon. I mean, the stress and deadlines can’t continue forever, right?

Trader Joe’s: Penny Wise, Pound (Extremely) Foolish

Those of you fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s grocery store nearby know the wonders of shopping there: vast and various (and ever-changing) selections of foods for prices that lead one to suspect that “Trader Joe” is actually “Trader Joey ‘The Shiv’ Giambino”, ever-willing to sell foodstuffs that just “happened” to “fall off the back of a truck”. My experiences at our local TJs have been largely positive – the food is good (the produce – meh.) and I always end up spending far less than I think I will and yet come out with more food than I was expecting. Plus, they have balloons which the cashiers hand out to Will each and every time we go, resulting in hours of helium-fueled fun back home.
However, TJs recently made a horrendous, nigh-unforgivable decision: they changed their paper bags. In what can only be some mid-level manager’s idea of a cost cutting tactic, Trader Joe’s switched to a far inferior bag. Their bags used to be on par with Whole Foods’ bags: sturdy, hefty and rarely prone to handle-rippage. Their new ones are mere waifs compared to their old ones;handles rip exceedingly easily and always at the most inopportune times, bag bottoms drop out suddenly and double-bagging is required for anything heavier than a carton of orange juice. These ghostly, wispy bags have cost me several loads of groceries thus far – fruit bruised, jars of salsa smashed, cookies and crackers crumbled. This evening, one of their bags even disintegrated in the parking lot before I could make it to my car. Fortunately, their store management is ever-willing to address issues and replaced all the contents of the broken bag, without question.
I can see where the idea may have initially made sense to some pointy-haired buffoon. Still, if you have to double-bag everything and you end up replacing loads of groceries for disgruntled customers, I fail to see where the cost savings will possibly accrue. You’ll lose more in good will, additional bags and replaced food than you ever save on bags in the first place.
So Trader Joe’s, listen up: bring the old bags back. You’ll certainly turn this customer back into a happy one.

Oh, The Huge Manatee!

Memo to Brad:
If you are unable to convince your employer of the folly of their recent moves, I will hold you personally responsible. I mean, they can sell cigarettes, lunch meat and mac n’ cheese all they want, but when the mess with Miracle Whip, why, they’ve gone too far! They must be stopped, I tell you – it’s no longer a Miracle, but rather more of a “Striking Coincidence” or “One-In-Ten-Thousand” Whip.

It’s No Twinkie-Wiener Sandwich*, But…

I bow before the meat-eating prowess of R. “Bacon Is A Vegetable” Stevens of Diesel Sweeties fame for his construction of the ultimate American food: Hot Dog Loaf. Take two all-beef franks, wrap them in traditional meatloaf-y goodness and then bake it to completion. Mmmm, beefy. I would have used Ball Park franks instead of Hebrew National, but then, there’s no accounting for taste.
Commenters on his LiveJournal thread and on the Flickr photostream linked above suggested adding strips of bacon to the top of the loaf, but I think that’s overdoing it, personally.
*See UHF or read the Wikipedia entry to learn of the disgusting genius of the TWS.

Attention, Kellogg’s: Do NOT Hire Sean Gleeson

Dear Kellogg’s Management,
As tempting as it may be, I would ask that you actively reconsider any pending hiring decisions for the position of “taste consultant” or “flavor engineer” involving one Sean Gleeson, as the damage to your corporate image could well be irreparable.
As evidence for my request, I offer his recent articles Rejected Pop-Tart flavors and More rejected Pop-Tart flavors. While your vast and varied Pop-Tart product line already features such flavors as “French Toast” and “Frosted Cookies & Creme”, I doubt the American public is ready for Mr. Gleeson’s suggestions, such as “Candy-Apple Guacamole”, “Shamrock Cinna-Tuna Crunch”, “Pizza-Berry Mint” and “Popcorn n’ Lox”.
Signed,
A Concerned Citizen

Apparently The Pickle Business Is Booming

In the interests of pursuing a healthier lifestyle and scintillating conversation, several of my coworkers and I take a walk during our lunch break on a nigh-daily basis. Our usual route leads us through the Vlasic parking lot which generally resembles your run-of-the-mill corporate parking facility. However, a couple of days ago, we noted something a bit out of the ordinary:
Ferrari F-430 (smaller)
Yup, that’s a Ferrari F430, captured by my very own CrapCam. And I believe that’s a C6 Vette convertible directly behind it.
And, from another angle:
Ferrari F430 and Bentley Continental GT (smaller)
That’s a Bentley Continental GT in the background, if you can’t tell. The pickle business must be very, very good these days…