Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Best Snack Food



Corn meal, vegetable oil, (partially hydrogenated Soybean or Corn Oil), reduced lactose whey, whey, cheese [cheddar and bleu (milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes)], Salt, Maltodextrin, Disodium Phosphate, Artificial Color (including FD&C Yellow #5 and #6) Citric Acid, Buttermilk Powder, Corn Syrup Solids, Tomato Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Spice, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Flour, Sugar, Sodium Caseinate, Malic Acid, Natural Flavors, Food Starch Modified, Disodium Guanylate Sodium Insinate, Non Fat Dry Milk, Partially Hydrogenated Soy/Cottonseeed Oil, Vinegar, Lecithin (soy), Artificial Flavor, Red Alura #40, Lake and Blue #1 Lake.

All otherwise known as Vitner’s Big Bag Cool Ranch Baked Corn Pops.

You’ll recall that I a while back decided that the more artificial something is, the more I like it. And the Best Snack Food is about as artificial as things can get. Not one, but two kinds of partially hydrogenated oil. “Artificial” is used twice in the ingredients. And it contains something called “Food Starch Modified.” (Into what, I have to wonder.) They have phosphates and something called “Red Alura #40” to go along with that “Blue #1 Lake.”

And that combination, which looks as though it might be for mustard gas or a new hybrid fuel, creates the greatest possible flavor of the greatest possible snack food. These Pops are light, airy, crunchy before and melty after you bite them, and ranch-and-salty enough that you’d better have something to drink with them. They can clog your arteries from across the room and once I start eating them I have to leave the room or I won’t stop. It’s insane.

Not as insane as they guy who thought this was worthy of putting on the Internet, but to each his own:


And they create the best Fallout – you know fallout, that powdery stuff that great snack foods leave on your fingers when eating it? If you ever get a chance to see me after a long ride, note that I’m always stretching my fingers away from each other and flexing them. That’s because of the fallout. I eat snack foods – especially Ranch Pops—on the road and never remember to bring along some sort of washcloth. As a result, I’ve appeared in court with orange-stained fingertips secretly being thankful it wasn’t a jury trial. And the Ranch Pops Fallout is the best. It coats your fingertips and gets all greasy until you scrape it off with your teeth and create a miniature Ranch Pop in your mouth, sucking it to the back of your tongue.

(As an aside, I only realized after reading an article on Slate where the “ranch” flavor comes from. It turns out there was, in fact, a “Hidden Valley Ranch” that created its own salad dressing, and from that we have the flavor known as Ranch.)

(As another aside, I once noted that we were running out of new flavors to entice people into eating chips, and mentioned to Sweetie that I thought it was about time to get a new one. I predicted that the next big chip flavor would be… Caesar. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will, judging from what they're doing overseas.)

As another aside, I should note that I had the bag of Ranch Pops sitting here while I was writing this, but didn’t eat even one of them because of my rule, sometimes observed, that I don’t eat after 8 p.m. But it was tough. And maybe that’s not even an aside, but an on-point comment, since that’s what this nomination is all about anyway: how great the Ranch Pops are.

I found Ranch Pops entirely by accident, when they were rearranging our grocery store to (as it turns out) make a few new aisles primarily to hold more foreign food, and particularly really really weird or scary foreign food, like “Spotted Dick.” Which is a real food. I was wandering around the store in a daze, trying to make heads or tails of things. We’ve been shopping at that store for something like six years, and I knew it like the back of my hand. In writing out the grocery list each week (I do the shopping because I’m less impulse-prone than Sweetie, and because if I go alone I can listen to my iPod while I shop, or even watch an episode of “Lost” while I wait in the inordinately long lines) I could make it out in the exact order of the aisles in the order I would go down them.

Then they moved things around and began construction and I was spending too much time there, wandering around looking for the Diet Mountain Dew and Febreze spray, and I turned the corner to a section of chips in a new order, and there they were . They had all the things I look for in a snack food. They were fake, of course. They were orange. And they were cheap.

I bought them, and never looked back. I could eat them every day, and I do; they’ve become a regular staple of lunch along with my bologna sandwich and Ramen noodles and diet soda. Check them out. Once you go Red Alura #40, you never go back. Posted by Picasa

I couldn't figure out what else to add to spice up this entry, so here' s a song. It's hard to find a song related to Ranch Pops. I gave up trying. Instead, listen to this because it's good.

Do Not Feed The Oysters -- Stephen Malkmus

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Best Talk Radio Host

I work at a desk and I don't like silence. I like something on in the background to break the monotony, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood for music.

So I turn to talk radio, and my talk radio tastes have changed over time -- as has talk radio. No longer is it a bastion of right wingers knocking liberals around and taking calls that ultimately bore you off the airwaves ("Hello? Dittoes! Couldn't agree with you more.") That kind of stuff started to turn me off of talk radio a long time ago; frankly, I don't care much to listen to the opinions of the callers, most of whom have nothing new to add and no interesting way to say it.

This is not meant to bash callers to talk radio. This is meant to celebrate The Best, so I'll move along to tell you that I currently have only two realistic talk radio options in my area. There are, technically, more than that what with the internet and all, but I can't be bothered always finding internet radio stations. And in my area there are three talk radio options that come in clearly. There's station 1, which features Rush at midday and a local conservative host in the afternoon, and, despite being quite conservative myself, I can't stand -- CANNOT STAND to listen to conservative talk radio hosts anymore. Even if they did not take callers, I couldn't handle it. They're snotty, to put it bluntly. They're annoyingly snotty and smarmy. And I can't handle the contrast.

I'll put it this way: I don't like annoying people. Take Tina Fey. She annoys me, and annoys me on a genetic level because just writing her name has made me angry. And I think it's because every fiber of her being, every iota of the mass that is Tina Fey, radiates self-important smugness, a general air of superiority, and somehow she not only radiates that but manages to seem like she's directing it personally at me. So I can't stand Tina Fey because of that, and her level of annoyingness manages to deprive every single thing she does of humor or fun or enjoyment for me. (That's why I won't be watching her new show.) I remember once watching Saturday Night Live, and I forget the exact joke but she told a joke on Weekend Update, and it was a joke I'd ordinarily find funny, but because she told it, it was not only not funny but it actually made me want to take the opposite point of view.

Let me hasten to add, it's not that I disagree with what I presume to be Tina Fey's politics (a presumption I base partly on her jokes and partly on her glasses), because I also disagree with Jon Stewart's politics but I would happily spend hours hanging out with him anyway and love The Daily Show. It's that I disagree with (as I said) Tina Fey's annoying smugness, something Jon Stewart does not have, so I can watch him and enjoy it even when he's in effect laughing at me.


Bad.

Good.
All of which is a long way of saying that the first talk radio station is out due to the level of annoying smugness demonstrated by not just Rush Limbaugh, but by the local host who manages to make me want to open an abortion clinic just to spite her.

Then there's the second talk radio station, which has at least one interesting character on it (another one I typically don't agree with but will listen to and enjoy) but which suffers from being... how can I put this? Oh, yeah, mostly boring. They tend to drone on and on about things that are boring-but-important (unions, living wages, Halloween parties) or boring-but-also-not-important (Humane Society board of directors infighting.) Since I've long since ceded that I no longer pay much attention to boring-but-important things, you can see where I can't spend the day listening to that station, either.

Which leaves station three, which is an ESPN/sports talk station. And while I like some sports, there are other sports (basketball) which I don't care about one way or the other, and some sports (baseball) that I kind of like but not really, and some sports (hockey, everything that's not football including soccer and NASCAR) that aren't really sports at all and so shouldn't take up any of my time.

But sports radio stations need to cater to fans who like those "sports," and a sports station that spent its time only on football would have not much to do for big chunks of the year. So I'd be lost in talk radio land most of the time, when they're talking about all those other so-called sports, I'd have no choice but to listen to union-busting discussions or music (because I'd somehow chew my ears off before listening to the conservative station, which could only be less appealing if they hired Tina Fey) if it wasn't for one guy, who gets me through two hours (he's on for three but my station only carries two) of the day:

Colin Cowherd.

Here's a link to his Wikipedia bio. I'm not here to write a biography of the guy. I'm here to praise his radio skills, which are second-to-none and which keep me listening even when the topics turn away from football to those less-appealing "sports," because Colin Cowherd does what other hosts should do but rarely do: He entertains.

I can only demonstrate the level of entertainment by paraphrasing an example. He was talking on one recent show about whether you'd want Randy Moss or Terrell Owens on your team, and he compared the choice to a guy choosing between two "smoking hot" girls with drug problems. I know that my relating it to you does not do justice to how great his discussion was, but that's why he's the radio host and I'm writing about him being a radio host.

Here are some actual quotes that give you an idea what he's like:

"UVA football is the softest bunch of cream-puff bow-tie wearing bree-cheese-eating, Nascar-wearing wussies I've ever seen in my life. There's not a softer bunch of cookie dough eatin weenies than the UVA football program. Those guys wear make-up to games. That is the biggest bunch of fru fru dacari drinking non-alcoholic beer chuggin weenies I've ever seen in my life. Dude, you want to know the most popular drink at tailgating at UVA football...? Zima!"

UVA Fan: "I'd rather be a softie from UVA than a redneck from Virginia Tech"

Colin: "I wouldn't. I'd rather win football games and that's why you're not committed. They'd rather win football games, you'd rather be sophisticated. Go like baseball loser. [Mockingly: 'I'd rather be a sophisticate than a redneck.'] I'd rather win football games weenie! That's why you're no threat in big college football. Cause you'll wanna watch Anderson Cooper on CNN. Congratulations, you're very sophisticated. Good luck with that Chardonnay. But Virginia Tech would walk right up and punch you in the neck."

(Click that link for the source.)

Colin Cowherd manages to cover a wide variety of sports and do so in a way that makes me listen even when talks about stuff I don't care about. He's a good interviewer, he's got a great way with an analogy, and he will never, ever, ever let you down if you listen to him. I can honestly say I've never turned off his show, never stopped listening if I didn't have to, never turned away from that station. For someone with my attention span and lack of patience, that's probably the highest praise I can give him.

So go listen to him -- find your ESPN sports radio and when he's on, and tune in. Even if you don't like sports. You'll not be disappointed by Colin Cowherd, The Best Talk Radio Host.


Very Good.

Here's another longer transcript that shows the genius that is Colin Cowherd. Click here for the source. What I like about this is not just the straight talk, not just the use of "ain't" but the random insertion of a pop culture reference to really tie it all together...


Great high school players who play offense go to Florida State to die. Then they go to the NFL and get better. Why? Because the coaching is better. Chris Rix, Drew Weatherford, never got one bit better. It's called coaching. Florida State is the worst-coached offensive team in college football, and it ain't close. Their offense is loaded with premier high school All-Americans - at the very least, all-state ... They have the No. 1 high school running back in the nation five years ago, Lorenzo Booker. He had two carries last week.

If you can't see what's going on, you're not paying attention.

Jeff Bowden should resign because that's what a good kid would do when he's hurting his dad.
Florida State football, folks, has become the movie, 'Tommy Boy'. The incompetent son is hurting the program. All you have to do is look at the quarterbacks, Chris Rix and Drew Weatherford. Both really talented, neither got better. It's coaching. That's coaching.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Best Celebrity Hairstyle

Hi! If you're looking for this entry, it'll be found in my upcoming book, Do Pizza Samples Really Exist! Details on that will be posted on this site when it's ready.

Click here to see all the other topics I’ve ever discussed!




Waiting for the book? Until then, read my first book of essays:


Click here to buy Thinking The Lions, And 117* Other Ways To Look At Life (*Give Or Take)


Friday, October 13, 2006

The Best Magazine... Make that Copycat

It's The (We Wish We Were As Good As TBOE) Onion.

When originally posted, this entry celebrated The Onion as The Best Magazine. Then, in the June 14-20, 2007 issue, The Onion ran a feature it called its "First Annual Absolute Best," about which it said
"[s]ometimes you just have to declare things the best."

Sound familiar?

They had features like "Best Use of Multiple Weapons in an Action Sequence," Best Oddball Legion of Super-Heroes Superhero," and "Best Bill Murray's Brother."

Sound familiar again?

So here' s the thing. You can't copyright an idea. The idea of declaring things The Best is obviously not new. But here at TBOE, we feel very strongly that the format we've chosen -- declaring things the best in categories ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary -- is unique. Up until The Onion ran their piece, we were not aware of anyone else anywhere doing anything like this.

Writers work hard to come up with creative, funny ideas and make something unique for you to love. At TBOE, we slave over these entries and spends hundreds of hours on this per year.

Then you turn around and see someone doing the same thing.

If The Onion wanted to name The Best things in unusual categories, all they had to do was ask. TBOE did it first, and did it best. The Onion can chase after us, but they'll never catch us.

Because of this, we have REVOKED The Onion's standing as "The Best Magazine," and have instead replaced it with this category.


Update, June 15, 2007: I went to The Onion's site today, thinking I might forgive them because I really think "The Hater" is funny. And I see this intro to their article: "Just what it says: We name the best of everything." (I added the underline.) Nice.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Best Gossiple?

I'm torn about how to post this nomination because (a) it's hard to know what to label it, hence the title, and (b) it's hard to narrow it down between the two best subjects, and (c) it's kind of embarrassing to admit just how much, as a percentage, of my time is devoted to consideration of these subjects.

I mean, I have a bachelor's in political science, and a law degree. I spend 40-50 hours per week litigating serious cases. I have run for public office, and written serious treatises and given lectures on weighty subjects. I've been considered for professorships at one of the country's top schools. But when it comes down to it, I'd say 60% of my conversation deals with people like Paris Hilton. Who, as you might surmise, is who I am nominating for The Best Gossiple?


I'll dissect the hesitation en route to explaining the nomination.

Because I feel I should be engaged in headier pursuits, I'm going to deconstruct this a bit.

First, the title of the category. I coined the word "gossiple" a while back. I use it when I'm talking about someone who most would call a "celebrity" except that they've done nothing for us to "celebrate." (But maybe the word "celebrity" doesn't mean as much anymore, since the number one meaning is now just to be "widely known.") A "gossiple" is someone who is famous for reasons that would be gossip if it was about the person in the next office. Did you hear about Jim? I heard he videotaped himself having sex with that girl from accounting. See? Gossip, not celebration. My use of the word "gossiple," though, implies that these are less than weighty subjects. They aren't even celebrities, so I should be spending less time on them, right?

Wrong. I spend more time on them. I can tell you that the total amount of time spent discussing the war in Iraq in my house is less than it took me to write that paragraph. And it's not like I'm trying to have serious discussions, either. I'm more than happy to dissect Paris' life, or Britney's marriage. In fact, I think gossiples are perhaps more fun than celebrities. Think about these two conversational lead-ins, based on true life events peeled off Google today (these being the top stories that came up on Google news by typing in the names):

Hey, did you hear that Tom Hanks was voted the most trusted celebrity recently?

Hey, did you hear that Paris Hilton's ex-boyfriend Nick Carter claimed he slept with Ashlee Simpson to get revenge on Paris?

Come on, which of those do you want to talk about? Plus, gossiples regularly appear scantily clothed (if at all) while "celebrities" have some shame and therefore less Internet appeal. Which would you rather have alongside this story:


It's not that I'm completely uninterested in world affairs or serious subjects. I'm just being honest with myself.

So "gossiples" loom large in my life, which is how this category had to eventually make it on here. But I wasn't sure that "gossiple" was the best label because, like I said, it's a made-up word and it might not be accurate to say there's any difference between a "gossiple" and a "celebrity" anymore.

Especially when the gossiples are going to make the weeding-out harder by going and doing something with their lives beyond simply living them in such a manner as to make them good gossip fodder. By which I mean, once I get comfortable calling Paris a "gossiple," she goes and achieves something. You'll scoff, you'll all scoff, but it's true. I'm not talking about her ghost-written book or eponymous perfume, or the tv shows or the sex tape. Those are simply hallmarks of fame here in the early 21st century. I'm talking about the music. Paris Hilton has made two, count them two good songs so far. By my count, that puts her two ahead of the Simpson sisters, combined.

First, there was "Stars Are Blind." I heard that song ing into work one morning, and left it on out of curiousity. (The middle daughter had been in control of the radio the night before.). And I liked it. Liked it enough to download it onto my iTunes (where, to retain my cred, I'll note that it resides just after The Paper Chase and just before Parks and Recreation.)

I thought that was just a curiousity, though, and figured it was a one-time deal, like the one Michael Jackson song I liked. But then her second song came out, and I watched that video, too. And I liked that song, too. So I was really confused, because now here was a Gossiple who had achieved something. (I know, she doesn't write or produce, etc., but, hey, Elvis didn't write or produce all his own songs.) So then I wasn't sure that "gossiple" was the word, still (but I'll stick with it) and I wasn't sure that Paris Hilton was a gossiple, but I'll stick with that, too, since I decided that she's a gossiple for becoming famous before she actually did anything. So the title of The Best Gossiple? (including the question mark) will stick.

Having now settled on a category, I had to narrow the nominees down to one. Like presidential elections (and that segue would tell you how my mind weights the relative importance of gossip and politics: A nomination of Paris Hilton is like a presidential election. Oh, how my old professors would be dismayed!)(Purists will note that I also compared Paris to Elvis. I have no shame.) But to carry on: Like a presidential election, these nominations tend to grind down to the two frontrunners, and there was an obvious second choice for the Best Gossiple?, the
anti-Paris, if you will:


Britney is the
anti-Paris because she achieved something first (and achieved something very similar, in my mind, that being my unexpectedly liking a song she sang [but it wasn't one of the famous ones, it was this.] Despite that early pace-setting, Britney descended to the level of gossiple through the well-chronicled events of her life. When was the last time she even released a song? Or starred in a movie? Or did anything but be mentioned in the tabloids for something other than an achievement? Someone dropped onto Earth today and checking out our news (or, at least, my news) would wonder why we cared about Britney Spears, because she appears (now) to be famous for marrying losers, imposing identical initials and almost-identical birthdays on her babies, nearly dropping those babies, and otherwise doing not much else besides hanging out in scanty clothing. She is, therefore, a gossiple despite her former achievements.

And, she held my attention in a way that not many people do. I was, in the past, riveted by Britney's life. Quickie marriages, visiting the ex's kids, ill-advised pregnancies, stopping payments on K-Fed's credit cards, simply being married to Mr. Popozao , it was all too much. I loved it. It was the intellectual equivalent of the junk food I love so much. It was the only thing, in the summer of 2005, that could while I recuperated from back surgery distract me from my morbid fascination with watching Nancy Grace's hyperventilating, pure-speculating, overwrought coverage of Natalee Holloway. (I love Nancy Grace's kind of questioning. She'll get a defense attorney on there and say something like With the evidence stacking up against this suspect in a way that makes me wonder why our founding fathers even bothered with the innocent until proven guilty thing, Mr. Defense Attorney, what I'd like to ask you is why you love child molesters so much? and then, when the defense attorney sputters and tries to work her way out of that one, Nancy cuts her off and goes back to her law enforcement guest and says See, Chief of Police? No defense here. When will they hang him?) And Britney could tear me away from that so that I could find out she'd dropped the baby or bought $10,000 worth of watches or something.

So I was torn. Who to pick, who to pick, who to pick? How can I choose between these two worthies? And how could I actually tell people that I'd spent time not just thinking about these two, but thinking which one would be a better nomination for a category on this blog? I, who have spent time pondering the great art of the world, perusing literature, unraveling the mysteries of creation, have spent perhaps an equal amount of time in deep thought about who was more worthy of this entry, Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.

Let's look at them again, and then I'll get into the actual nominatin':


So, with my embarrassment out in the open, with my absolute lack of intellectual depth exposed to society, you are now asking, Why Paris Hilton? That's what you're asking, right? And I'll tell you why Paris beats Britney, in short, declarative sentences (for a change.)

When you Google "Paris," Paris Hilton is the fourth entry down (at least as of this posting.) She is preceded by three entries on "Paris," the City. The CITY has been around for hundreds, thousands, of years. It has played a major role in human history. It is home to great art, great architecture, great thinkers... and it's almost being surpassed by its namesake. A whole generation is going to associate the word "Paris" with an entirely different sort of Eiffel Tower, if you get my drift.

And, Paris gets no sympathy. She continues to engage our attention while being almost universally reviled. (I don't revile her, but everyone else does, or says they do. They don't, though, or she would no longer be famous.) Britney had to resort to tears to get us to stop insulting her. (And even then, she went and did this, losing that sympathy.) Like the Buffalo Bills, I guess, I have a soft spot for people that nobody else likes.

Then there's the fact that Paris is on her way up. Like I mentioned, Britney has fallen from celebrity to gossiple. But Paris has made the climb out of the pit that contains Nicole Richie, Anna Nicole, anyone who ever appeared on Survivor, The Real World or similar shows, and a host of others to stand... well, just beside that pit, but out of it nonetheless. Back someone who's climbing, I always say.

And, finally, Paris is involved in everything. I used to think that Puff Daddy was the center of the fame universe, but I think that it now revolves around Paris. She's not just on reality tv and singing; she's also dating Travis Barker, feuding with Lindsay Lohan, questioned in that weird Girls Gone Wild case, pranked in the UK, involved in some kind of lawsuit that included her not knowing the Prime Minister of the UK (which is obviously the intellectual level I'm headed for) ... I could go on, or you could just go to The Superficial, like I do, to find out what else she's been doing.

So that's what it comes down to. Once you, like I, are willing to admit that you spend a lot of time thinking about these people, too (and come on, Star magazine isn't going bankrupt) and once you actually spend that time thinking about it, and then you start talking about it, odds are you're talking about Paris Hilton. Or you should be. And you will, beginning with watching this:




Paris' nomination was revisited, and nearly destroyed the universe; read The Best Gossiple-- Again.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Best Cartoon Character

I've got babies on the mind, so you'll have to allow me to indulge in categories that are absorbing my thoughts nowadays. But, while I'll use little A & B as an excuse, the truth is that cartoons are never very far from my mind.

Cartoons have changed nowadays. They're all over the place, and they're nothing special anymore, it seems. When I was a kid (here we go with the nostalgia again...) Saturday mornings were for cartoons. There were some cartoons on Sunday, but they generally were religous-themed and so, of course, sucked. While I enjoyed the stop-motion animation of Davey & Goliath, it was too moral and too boring to enjoy for real. It might have been better if it had been more like this:



But it wasn't, plus the fact that we had to get ready for church took away the pleasure of watching cartoons.

But Saturday! Oh, Saturday! With its plethora of cartoon shows that changed slightly every year but always had my then-favorite, the "Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show." I still know the theme by heart and Bugs & Company had some of the greatest cartoons. They introduced me to some classical music ("The Barber of Seville") and had wonderfully existential episodes, like the one where Daffy was having trouble with the animator and it turned out Bugs was drawing the cartoon? Or the one where a hat truck crashed and as the hats landed on them they took on the personality of the hats (that was a favorite of mine and my brother's for a long time.) Or "Rabbit Season?" (

Shoot me! I'm a fiddler crab!).
You can see it made an impression on me. I still love them. And I love the other older cartoons: Tom & Jerry, which is almost completely forgotten now but which were great cartoons (I plan on making A & B watch them.)



Those were the classics that live on in my mind, and when I see cartoons nowadays, they hardly compare. There are great cartoons -- Family Guy, The Simpsons up until a few years ago when they stopped caring about being funny, South Park -- but those are more aimed at adults and don't quite fit this category. Plus they do not have any iconic characters and the general zaniness that fits, in my mind, into a "cartoon." The mood of each of those is such that they could just as easily be sitcoms as opposed to cartoons. Maybe it's because they feature people as the main characters. It's hard to picture a bunny being the main character of anything.

And cartoons that do aim for cartooniness are rarely good. I watched a free episode of Invader Zim, and liked it , but it didn't make me want to watch more (very much.) Other cartoons on the air now just suck or are too weird.

Except for one, and you probably already know who I'm talking about. There's only one new cartoon character I can think of since I was a kid who absolutely perfectly captures the spirit of a kids' cartoon while being entertaining for adults and, in fact, updating that feeling and improving on it. I give you...

Spongebob Squarepants.




Spongebob is GREAT. I heard about him a few years ago when The Boy was young enough to watch him and so I checked it out, and I was hooked. Here was the natural successor to Bugs Bunny: funny, weird, breaking the fourth wall, but, to top it all off, while he had the same mischievous bent as Bugs had, he had none of the secret malice.

Let's face it. Didn't you always think that Bugs was only pretending to be innocent? It's like he was setting everyone up and then enjoying watching them fall, and because he wasn't overly mean about it, and because he was picking on people who had it coming, we didn't mind. But Spongebob doesn't have that. He doesn't dislike anyone. So when he's making them miserable, he's doing it out of love.

I have watched nearly every Spongebob episode to date. I am proud to say, at age 37, that I own more DVDs of Spongebob than I do of any other TV series, and that I pop them in and watch them. But Spongebob doesn't really need me to say all of this; he'll win you over himself. So here's a series of Spongebob cuts. Watch them and agree with me: Spongebob Squarepants, the Best Cartoon Character.






Tuesday, September 12, 2006

250=1, The Complete List Of Stories.

Page down for an explanation of this.

Here are all the stories.

HEY! Some of these links will take you to other blogs where I posted the stories but DO NOT WORRY because you can always read the story and hit the "BACK" button to get back here.  I'll be here, waiting for you.

1. Children's Magazines Are Full Of Lies

2. Everyone In The World Is Copying Me In Advance.

3. What Happens When The Symbolism of McDonald's Cheeseburgers Is Questioned?

4. What Hannah Said When She Hugged Her Competitor

5. Higgs Boson's Adventures In Space: Episode 37:

6.  One Morning A Mother Gave Birth... 

7.  Han Shot First. No, He Didn't. Yes, He Did. Wait...

8.  These Dead Composers

9.  Introducing The Beatles?

10.  Q+U, A Love Story (Part One)

11.  Junior The Third.

12.  The Things We Don't Tell Are Most Important.

13.  Icarus' Lesser-Known Sister.

14, 15, 16, and 17:  Five Stories about Time Travel, all in one post:  "Time Travel Has Always Existed", "He's A Perfect Boyfriend, But..." , "Time Was...", "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Hunker Down Behind This Lead Windowshade," and "Thinking About Time Travel At The End (Or The Beginning?) of the Universe(s)". 


18.  All Emotions Are Now Colors, and Also They AreAlive

19.  When a Really Good Song Comes On
  

20.  Skyfall

21.  Skyfall, 2

22.  Skyfall, 3

23.  Skyfall, 4

24.  Skyfall, 5 


25.  What It Is Like To Be A Frog (You Think?)

26.  July 17, 2057


27. Sometimes At Night I Imagine The Parrot Is Talking To Me

28. When The Rope Broke

29.  A story about a young man who one day or rather one morning...

30.  Stories I Wrote On The Way To And From Work 1

31. The Circus Of Twice

32.  Stories I Wrote, etc. #2

33.  Stories I Wrote etc. 3:

34.  Stories I Wrote, etc. 5:

35.  In the Beginning, 1 

36.  In The Beginning, 2

37.  The World's Shortest Mystery Story

38.  Advertisements From A World Not Entirely Similar To Our Own, 1

39.  Four.

40.  In The Beginning, 3

41.  In The Beginning, 4.

42.  It All Began With LOL.

43.  ,1

44.  Miniautobiography, 1

45.  The Bus

46.  At The Institute For Not Asking Questions

47.  Tips For Young Astronauts

48.  Then

49.  Some Zombie Stories: 1

50. We Were At A Party When We Decided To Quit.

52. 8 Things That Happened To Him, And Two Things That Didn't.

53.  Some Zombie Stories: 2

54. Some Zombie Stories: 3

55.  It's the Higgs Boson Xmas Special!

56.  , 2

57.  God, Part 2

58.  All These Things Happened On My Birthday

59.  Some Zombie Stories, 5

60.  How To Cook A Delicious Cake

61. Electricity

62. Ads From A World Not Totally Unlike Our Own, 2

63. Fences

64.  Ignatius In Hiding.

65.  Killing Time

66.  Meat.

67.  A Single Moment Of Red

68.  Naomi Does It Again, Again.

69.  Time Is A Penumbra

70.  Questions

71.  Resolutions To The Story.

(Yep: I skipped a number there; if you go back in the list, as I just did, you'll see that I missed counting 1 of those 5 time travel stories.)

250=1 is a challenge I've set for myself. I began it in 2012. It cae about because I like writing long stories. The longer the better, as far as I'm concerned, because if I like a story I never want it to end. And so I decided to challenge myself, the way I once saw a giant, steep hill in Oakland, California and went jogging there just so I could try to jog up that hill, but in this case the challenge was to write short stories.

And not just any short story: A short story of exactly -- exactly -- 250 words.

Counting the title.

I'll be posting new ones from time to time, so check back often.  When I get to 250 of these, I'll probably be done. Probably.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Best Romantic Song

No mystery here. This really comes down to just two songs, each representing a different time in my life and each representing a different romantic ideal.

In this corner: "Dreamweaver" by Gary Wright. This is the video for this one:



Listen to it. Listen to it again and again. This song was popular, or re-popular, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and would go to all ages dance clubs (those who know me can't believe I did that but I did and sometimes I danced, too, but not well...). After a night of dancing to the Communards and such, this song would come on, and it was almost always the last dance. And all the people who were part of a couple -- I almost never was -- would pair up and dance and go out into the night.

I, meanwhile, would head on home with this song playing in my mind, and the lyrics had an extra meaning to me, because this song represented to me my hope that someday I would find my own dreamweaver who would get me through the night.

That was then.

This is now, and in this corner stands the other contender: "True Companion" by Marc Cohn. Here is the Bolt stream for this song:


Upload music at Bolt.

I can play this song on guitar, and almost on piano. I can sing this song. I sang this song to Sweetie way back when we first started dating, playing along on my guitar for her.

This song represents the newer phase of my life, the one where I met Sweetie and decided to spend my life with her. It has all the right words: "Sometimes I'm an angel and sometimes I'm cruel..." "I've got my heart set on our wedding day." It captured, and captures, my new outlook on love since growing up and getting engaged and then married... sometimes it's not perfect (it's not a dream) but it's there waiting for you at the end of the road, at the end of the day, and at the end of life.

What tips the balance for me, what makes me go with "True Companion" are two things. First, I used it in our wedding as our first dance song. Second, the reason I did that is becuase of the last verse, which I'll reprint here:

When the years have done irreparable harm
I can see us walking slowly arm in arm
Just like the couple on the corner do
'cause girl i will always be in love with you
And when i look in your eyes
I'll still see that spark
Until the shadows fall
Until the room grows dark
Then when i leave this earth
I'll be with the angels standin'
I'll be out there waiting for my true companion
Just for my true companion


When you hear that sung, and when you have just been married and are dancing with your new wife in your tuxedo and she's in that brilliant white dress, and all your friends and family are around you, and you look into her eyes and see that spark, you should, like I did, get a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes. And everytime after that that you hear that song, you should, like I am now, get that same lump in your throat and tears in your eyes, because that perfectly captures what love is: Spending your entire life with that person, and then waiting for them in Heaven because they're what you want.

So, "True Companion," experience has triumphed over hope, and you are The Best Romantic Song.
I can play this song on guitar, and almost on piano. I can sing this song. I sang this song to Sweetie way back when we first started dating, playing along on my guitar for her.

This song represents the newer phase of my life, the one where I met Sweetie and decided to spend my life with her. It has all the right words: "Sometimes I'm an angel and sometimes I'm cruel..." "I've got my heart set on our wedding day." It captured, and captures, my new outlook on love since growing up and getting engaged and then married... sometimes it's not perfect (it's not a dream) but it's there waiting for you at the end of the road, at the end of the day, and at the end of life.

What tips the balance for me, what makes me go with "True Companion" are two things. First, I used it in our wedding as our first dance song. Second, the reason I did that is becuase of the last verse, which I'll reprint here:

When the years have done irreparable harm
I can see us walking slowly arm in arm
Just like the couple on the corner do
'cause girl i will always be in love with you
And when i look in your eyes
I'll still see that spark
Until the shadows fall
Until the room grows dark
Then when i leave this earth
I'll be with the angels standin'
I'll be out there waiting for my true companion
Just for my true companion


When you hear that sung, and when you have just been married and are dancing with your new wife in your tuxedo and she's in that brilliant white dress, and all your friends and family are around you, and you look into her eyes and see that spark, you should, like I did, get a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes. And everytime after that that you hear that song, you should, like I am now, get that same lump in your throat and tears in your eyes, because that perfectly captures what love is: Spending your entire life with that person, and then waiting for them in Heaven because they're what you want.

So, "True Companion," experience has triumphed over hope, and you are The Best Romantic Song.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Best Breakfast Cereal

As you read through these, you're no doubt thinking Just how many of these things are going to be about food? My former life as a fat guy should tell you that, yes, a lot of them will be.

And my love of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch may tell you why I was formerly a fat guy and will in all likelihood return to that. But first, since my writing is the equivalent of driving using only your peripheral vision, two asides.

One, click on that link. Our breakfast cereal is so unhealthy that it's advertised as American candy.

Two, how dumb do the cereal manufacturers think we are? As cereal gets more expensive (it might be cheaper to serve a bowl of steak for breakfast soon) the boxes stay the same height, and width, but depth-wise they are almost two dimensional. I see the cereal on the shelf, reach for it, and it's like grabbing a piece of paper. I imagine the little Quisps and Frankenberries stacked single file in there.

And a third aside that occurred to me as I got those links. One of the things I like about writing these is the odd search terms that occur to me as I look for ways to jazz it up a bit, and, because of those odd search terms, I then get to see just what kind of things people will post on the Web. Things like this... an actual bowl of steak.




So with that done, I've already given away the nomination, and it's of course Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. I have had a fixation on this cereal since I was little. It's like an addiction. I have to have someone else put away the cereal or I'll keep eating bowl after bowl. Even now, when I have a modicum of willpower, I can't leave the box out or I'll keep going. I'll pour a bowl of it and then reach into the box and grab a few extra anyway.

And I have a theory about why I like it so much, beyond the obvious that it's peanut buttery and crunchy and gets kind of melty when you chew it (not soggy, I can't stand soggy cereal and I use so little milk that I might as well not bother, as opposed to the rest of the family, which in eating cereal employs a formula with a ratio of 1 piece of cereal per gallon of milk).

My theory is this: I like fake flavor better than real flavor. I've been raised on preservatives and additives and riboflavin and the like, and by this time, I don't want "real" flavor, I want real flavoring. I prefer Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch to real peanut butter and prefer generic peanut butter to natural peanut butter and prefer all of those to the taste of an actual peanut, which if I eat them at all I get the honey-roasted kind (so I also, obviously, prefer sweets.)

That's why I like McDonald's chocolate shakes and cheeseburgers, two foods so far removed from "natural" that they might as well have been created in one of those Jetsons-style food-a-lators or whatever they called them. And why I prefer "Pajedas" to Doritos -- although Doritos is hardly a natural flavor, it's more "natural" than a Pajeda. It's why I love a soda that has so little actual relationship to "natural" flavors that they can only refer to it by colors -- "Red Pop" is what I drink. (You can read about that here, where they claim it's strawberry flavored, but they don't call it "Strawberry Pop," they call it red. They also say it's "infamous.")

And so, to circuitously and overanalytically come back to where I started, that is why I like Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch so much. Because they are the ultimate expression of the fake flavors I love. Think about it. They start with a peanut.
A peanut looks like this:



They then process it, mash it around, bake it, send it to college, however they transform it, and end up with a Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. Which looks like a Bizarro Peanut, a peanut created by the use of kryptonite. So from a natural product we go to something that vaguely recalls that product in shape and taste and texture.

Or am I overthinking it? Either way, Peanut Butter Cap'N Crunch is the Best Breakfast Cereal.

I wanted to, as further celebration of both the Cereal and weird things on the Internet, show you a the number one video that pops up if you go to YouTube and search for Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. But there's no such thing. So here is the video for "Peanut Butter Captain Crunch."





If you go to Babel Fish you will learn that "Pajeda" means... "pajeda." It has no English translation. I thought it might mean something. It doesn't.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Best Pizza

Pizza has played an important role in my life. Not, perhaps, as much as it has in the life of this girl:


But an important role, nonetheless.

Sure, you say, we all love pizza, but I'm not talking about just loving pizza. I'm talking about pizza being an integral part of the biggest days of my life.

When I got engaged, I proposed to Sweetie on our regular Thursday night at her apartment, back when we used to play chess, then watch TV, and the loser had to clean up while the winner -- using that term loosely, given the prize -- got to watch "Veronica's Closet." And for a pizza tie-in to that, here's Dan Finnerty, who is credited as "pizza guy" on that show:


Which is not how pizza played into the engagement. How it played into it was, after we got engaged (which I did cleverly by tying it into the chess game: I'd start the game by holding a pawn in each hand and then having Sweetie pick one to see who went first. This time, I had the ring in one hand. Smart, right?)(People still ask me, what if she picked the other hand? I have no answer for that. I never thought about what would happen if she did that.) And then she got the ring (because she picked the right hand) and we were engaged, and we celebrated by ordering... Pizza!

Your interest is waning. Here's another picture:


And while you look at that, let me warn you. Do NOT go to Google and type in "hot girls with pizza." I don't know how those sites come up, but it's certainly not what I expected from that search.

Then, we got married. We had an hors d'oeuvres reception, and as you know, the bride and groom very rarely get to actually eat at the reception. So when we left the reception to begin our honeymoon, we celebrated our first night as a married couple, in the honeymoon sweet at the Holiday Inn, by ... eating pizza.

And so it goes. A big event in our lives is followed by ordering pizza. Any significant occasion is met with a pizza. Last year, when I had to have back surgery and couldn't eat for 24 hours before, the last thing I ate was pizza. We've had Valentine pizzas made, we've given them as gift certificates. I don't doubt that when the twins are born, we will order a pizza. I may bring it with me to the delivery room.

So I am uniquely qualified to weigh in on The Best Pizza. (I am, in my opinion, uniquely qualified to weigh in on The Best Of Everything. That's why I run this site. But Pizza is a particular qualification.) And I am here to tell you that The Best Pizza is, simply, Rocky Rococo's sausage pizza.

That's it. No fanfare. Just that one. It's got the great crust with Rocky's sort-of-sweet flavor. It's got big thick chunks of sausage. It's got melty, congealed, thick cheese. It's square. You can hold it in your hand and it won't slop off. And, perhaps most importantly for a pizza, it holds up as a leftover. That's significant because the only thing better than fresh pizza is leftover pizza that's been put in the fridge overnight. I deliberately over-order or over-make pizza simply to have leftovers, and then I get up early the next day to get to them before The Boy does. The leftover-quality is where Rocky's really puts themselves ahead of everyone else, because, man, does it ever hold up. Pizza Hut and frozen pizzas get soggy or the crust dries out. Papa John's? Don't make me laugh; the cheese falls apart. But Rocky's! The night before, you had a piping hot steamy slice of pizza dripping with sauce and juice and the cheese was stringy, just the way it should be. The next day? The cheese has insulated the crust, which has retained its flavor and shape and solidity perfectly. The sausage juice and sauce have hardened up and support the sausage, oh, man, I'm getting hungry just typing this. Look at it:



I've got to go, or I'm going to try to take a bite out of my monitor.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Best Superhero

Update: Did you get here by googling The Best Superhero? I posted this way way back when and didn't know the controversy it would generate -- but don't let that stop you from weighing in, as all the others have done. See the end of the post for more.



This is a real bone of contention in our house, I have to tell you. The Boy is a Batman fanatic. Nobody else will do. He's watched all the Batman movies, even the boring re-run with Christian Bale (and, seriously, Batman's origin is among the most boring of all of them. How often do we have to watch that again), he has a Batman poster on his wall, he just went to Six Flags Great America and came home with a Batman hat and a Batman shirt for Twin A, you see my point.

In a different corner is Sweetie, who loves Spiderman, and hopefully it is Spiderman she loves and not Tobey Maguire. (Because how could I compete?) Sweetie is not a superhero person, or a comics person, per se but Spiderman gets her, so much so that she threatened divorce if we were late for the premiere of Spiderman 2. I do not think she was joking.

Then there's me, and my encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes that people who limit themselves to movie and TV do not ever get. That's because I grew up reading comic books, and, boy, did I read them. And the more obscure the superheroes, the better I liked 'em. Blue Devil? Loved it. Firestorm? Thought he was great. Ambush Bug? Had the entire series. I collected volumes of the Legion of Superheroes, (and thank you, Wikipedians, for concentrating on comic book history.) I even knew some of the more obscure members of the Justice League of America after it was no longer the original Justice League. (Steel? Come on, he sucked.)

But I loved even the lame superheroes, like Aquaman, whose miniseries was underrated (James Cameron, take note!) And I liked the weird ones, like Wildfire (whose potential was never really explored.)

So I believe that I am uniquely qualified to weigh in on the Best Superhero. And I have to tell you, it's not Superman. What's so great about Superman? First of all, there's no suspense. He can't be hurt -- barring Kryptonite, which given that Superman is supposed to get his powers from the sun, makes no sense as his Achilles' heel, and which the other superheroes should have long ago rounded up and thrown into a star somewhere-- and his powers make no sense. Turn lakes to ice by blowing on them? X-ray vision? Heat vision? Okay, if I give you X-ray vision because his eyes are so strong they can see in different spectra, fine, but how can he shoot beams out of his eyes? And why not cold vision, then? (Oh, right, because his breath is super-cold but apparently not enough to freeze Lois Lane's face when he kisses her.) And does he have to eat? He's invulnerable and can fly in space without oxygen, so why eat? I don't like Superman.

And, sorry to The Boy and the Batgeeks, but Batman sucks. Yeah, mystery, yeah, haunted past, yeah, yeah, yeah, but he's just a rich guy with improbable gadgets. He's not a superhero, he's a well-equipped CIA agent. Hero, maybe, but SUPERhero? Not by a long shot. Plus, that boring origin story.

And we've come full circle, because despite my love of the obscure and weird and underrated superheroes out there, the correct answer was in front of our faces all along, and Sweetie got it right.

Spiderman is the best hero ever.

Superpowers that make sense? Yep. Weaknesses to add suspense? He got beat up by his own suit! Sympathetic background story that explains why he fights crime? He let his uncle's killer go while he counted his money. How sympathetic is that? You'd spend your nights brooding while hanging upside down from a web, too.

But Spidey's got more going for him. He was the first modern superhero, and by modern I mean: hates his job. He doesn't want to be a superhero anymore than you and I want to go into the office everyday. He doesn't get the benefits from it and has to try to make ends meet and get the girl anyway, and all he'd really like to do is spend his time making out with Mary Jane (I might be a little out-of-date on the comics that I haven't kept up with) and studying science and taking pictures. But he has to keep getting captured by the Beyonder, or fighting Doc Ock, or (once) meeting up with Superman to go into space to fight Lex Luthor (a great crossover!) and then, when that's all done, he comes home to find he's facing eviction.

Spidey has cool powers, a cool backstory, the best villains, and a real life outside of the webslinging. He's clearly the Best Superhero.

Excelsior!



Other nominations:

Spawn.


Ultimate Spidey

Batman.

Dr. Manhattan

The Hulk.

The Hulk, Juggernaut, Doomsday, Thor, Superman, Yoda.

Spider-Man. (That one was mine!)

Captain Carrot
(Me, again!)

Batman, again.

And, if you like Supervillains, you can check out these articles:

"Carnage."

The Three Best Supervillains Who Deservedly Just Kept Coming Back And Should Keep Doing So.

The Best Worst Villain Ever,
a five-part series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

_______________________________________________________


When Saoirse died in the plane crash, she had no idea that her life was just beginning. Now, she's running around her afterlife trying to find a way home... or to keep William Howard Taft from finding his way home.
Read the After, a thrilling novel published online at 5 Pages.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Best Band Name

I started thinking about this the other day when I downloaded a song by I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. I have a thing about band names. People have always said that you can't judge a book by its cover, but I have a theory that you can, in fact, do just that. I know I wrote about it on my other blog, but I'll summarize it here because I can't find it there. The theory is this: if you like the band name, you are more likely to like the band and its music, because (stay with me now) the band and you think alike-- you both think that name is cool, and so you both might like other things in common. Follow me on that?

Never mind. The point is, band names have come a long way from the Hollies or The Beatles or even Pink Floyd. They are all over the map now. You'll notice, as you peruse the list of some of my favorites (culled off my iPod just now) that I tend to like the longer ones, but I have some criteria for declaring a band name the best that I'll explain more in a moment.

Anyway, here are the ones I like just on the basis of I like them:

The Apples In Stereo
Cake (and there's a story behind why I like that one.)
Dropkick Murphys
The Flaming Lips
Fountains of Wayne
Kings of Leon
Loveninjas
Mercury Radio Theater
Modest Mouse
Nine Inch Nails
Over The Rhine
Say Hi To Your Mom
Spinning Jennies

Remember, I'm not saying these are the best bands, just great names for bands. Although since they're all on my iPod I do like them, or at least some of their songs.

A good band name -- not the best ever, but a good one -- catches your interest, makes you think for a second, and, ideally, tells you what category your music is in. Group called "The Killers"? Straightforward pop, right? (Which is why it was so sad that Da BoDeans became The Bodeans, and why Spooner became Firehouse -- and both suffered a little as their name watered down their music.) But "Nine Inch Nails?" You know you're not getting Clay Aiken-stylings there. When My Sister first made a tape for me with a band called "Modest Mouse" I knew to expect something a little different.

But the absolute best is not listed there. The absolute best is not just kind of lengthy (which I like) but also sticks in your head because it's self-contained, and also happens to more or less give you a feel for the kind of music they make: when you say the band name, you get a sense of what kind of music that band should make, and then when you listen to the song, they actually make that kind of music.

I'm talking about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, which is commanding, and kind of funny, and also captures the mood of their quasi-Talking Head-esque music, which is complex and interesting and also mysteriously upbeat -- like the band name. So Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, you've got my vote for The Best Band Name. To help you agree with me, here's a video for "Over And Over Again."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Best Mascot, New Nominee

Once a snowball begins to roll, it can't help but get bigger and bigger, and that's how it is working with The Best Of Everything. From humble beginnings (me) TBOE has grown to captivate a readership of... well, dozens. But dozens of very smart, very cool, very hip people who certainly know what they like and certainly know that what they like is, in fact, The Best.

Cool, smart, hip people like Horrorgirl, who in her everyday life is doing the smart thing-- spending most of her time writing the next great horror novel, which she expects to not only be excellent, but also to feature (and I quote) "gore, aliens and sex." So much so she feels it necessary to warn that: "If you are an alien interested in gore and sex, and you are reading this in dismay, my book IS about you."

So, if you are the alien version of Quentin Tarantino, you should perhaps be looking for royalties from Horrorgirl, who you can learn more about by going to her Myspace page. Horrorgirl has not weighed in yet on The Best Horror Movie Ever. I'll be eagerly awaiting that. But until then, we have to be content with Horrorgirl's opinion on The Best Mascot, which she says is:

"those slugs from Santa Cruz." Asked to expound on just why, Horrorgirl replies that she "used to get drunk in Santa Cruz with a bunch of punkers back around 1990. Santa Cruz has a special place in my heart." And she gave me permission to quote it!

So there you have it: A new nominee: the Santa Cruz Banana Slug, nominated as The Best Mascot Ever, and for what might be the best reason ever. If getting drunk with a bunch of punkers isn't a great reason to love a banana slug, I don't know what is. Thanks, Horrorgirl, and good luck on the novel.

This is the Santa Cruz Banana Slug when you're sober:



This is the Slug after a few drinks:

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Best Soda Ever

I drink a lot of soda. A LOT. Soda (pop, whatever you want to call it) takes up a disproportionately large percentage of our grocery budget. That's probably not surprising, since my dad worked for Coca-Cola when I was growing up.

And it's mostly limited to diet soda now, since I lost all that weight in part by not drinking 90 ounces of Mountain Dew per day (which alone would be almost 1200 calories) but there is one soda that I'll drink that's not diet* and which is so good that I buy it only periodically because I like it so much (I've learned that willpower begins in the grocery store, not in the 'fridge.)

That soda is

Honestly, I'm at a loss for words. Do you like those Dreamsicles, or Creamsicles, or whatever they're called (Having checked, it's Creamsicle.) Stewarts has captured that, which means they've captured not just orange, and not just cream, and not just cold carbonated bubbly beverage, but they've captured YOUTH. They've captured a frozen treat on a stick, filled with a surprise of sweet-cream ice cream, melting and ephemeral as you sit on the back porch in the shade taking a break before going back to the world series of wiffle-ball where the crabapple tree is second base and invisible men can steal home. That's what Stewarts has put in a bottle and sells you in a four-pack. It's the Best Soda Ever, not just for the taste but for the memories caught in that taste.

*PS: I know that they offer it as a diet soda, but I think that would take away from the forbidden-fruit pleasures of it. So I drink the regular.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Best Painting Ever

When I was a kid, I remember going to the Milwaukee Art Museum on many a field trip, and each time, I was somewhat mystified by a painting there. I was mystified because I thought "That's not art." I thought "That's nothing." I thought, "I could do that." And I saw it every single time I went there, and never understood why it was art.

This is that painting:

It's called "Red Yellow Blue II" and it's by Ellsworth Kelly.

Later, when I was reading a book -- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, if you must know -- I came across a quote that explained to me, finally, why "Red Yellow Blue II" is in an art museum. I'm not going to quote him verbatim here, but the gist of it was that things are genius because they don't seem to require genius. In a discussion about the catflap, a character pointed out that Isaac Newton discovered it and that it was genius because it makes everyone say "I could have thought of that" but they didn't.

So "Red Yellow Blue II" is an artwork that displays that particular kind of genius, the kind that makes you think "I could have done that," but you didn't.

My nomination for the Best Painting Ever is not "Red Yellow Blue II." I'm not as interested in celebrating the quiet, thoughtful kind of genius that takes 27 years to accumulate. I'm interested in celebrating the open kind of genius that demonstrates itself to you right off and makes you want to cry because it's so beautiful, and for that you need look no further than this:



Just sit and look at it for a minute. Look at the way you can see brushstrokes and the colors mixing and the stars are larger than the houses below. There is nothing about that painting that isn't perfect. It reduces its elements to their constituent parts-- you can almost see the atoms that make up the trees and the stars and the house, suggesting that we are all made of the same stuff (right, Moby?) and with the stars being that big he creates the feeling that they are close, they are looming, their beauty becomes almost overwhelming.

But what really gets me is you can see the wind. You can actually see the air flowing around the things in the picture. I don't know why that makes the picture so great, to be honest -- I'm not an art critic -- but it does.

You can't look at Starry Night without feeling the madness and pain and love of life that Van Gogh is expressing, and feel how your own life embodies that painting, too. It takes what everyone thinks of as a quiet, peaceful, beautiful thing, a starry night, and retains that quality while also showing the turbulence that surrounds us even at the quietest times. And that, my friends, is what makes it The Best Painting Ever.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Best Joke, New Nominee

I have to tell you, I think MySpace is a glorious thing. Since I got more active on my site there, I've been getting more hits on these pages and more nominations, and it just keeps going up and up.

Now, here comes yet another disagreement with my opinion (I have teenage kids, so I'm used to that) and a new nominee in the category of The Best Joke Ever. Here is Allex Spires (who right now is featuring the very cool, very classical Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5 on his profile page) commenting on my nomination (The Monk Joke) and setting up his own favorite for your review:

[When asked whether I could post his nomination on TBOE:] Sure, I don't know how. It's not my joke, however, but I think it's better than the monk, which is great to tell but just pisses you off if you read it.
. . .
From: Allex Spires Date: Jul 6, 2006 7:14 AM I disagree. Funniest joke I've ever heard:

Sherlock Holmes and Watson were out in the woods one night, camping, they had their tent set up and a fire, roasted marshmallows and sang Kum-Ba-Ya or some late nineteenth century English variation, cooked sausages over the open blaze and then decided to go to sleep.

During the night, Sherlock felt a chill and his eyes opened and he looked up, his eyes widened as the night sky so much more pure than in the heart of London, on Baker Street, gazed on him as he gazed up he woke Watson and said, "Watson, my dear fellow!"

Watson woke and asked "Whatever is it, Holmes?"

Sherlock pointed up and Watson exclaimed, "how beautiful the stars are out here."

"What does that mean to you, my dear chum?" asked Holmes.

"Oh, when I was a boy we used to look at the stars," returned the doctor, "we would gaze up and just imagine how insignificant we are and how vast and amazing all of the universe would be. We'd try counting them sometimes but there are far too many. Maybe," he turned and looked at holmes, "in all that vastness there is life on another planet, perhaps looking back at us as we look at it and we'll never know. "

Sherlock Holmes looked at Doctor Watson and said, "no, you idiot, someone stole our tent."


Now, I have in fact heard that the Sherlock Holmes Joke was voted to be the best joke ever but I can't remember where I heard it and I can't find confirmation of that. If you can, let me know, but since TBOE is the official Internet site for determining what is The Best, I can't promise that I'll consider some other source binding. But now you have two nominations for The Best Joke, and you can just hear the world gearing up for this battle.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Best Disney Princess Ever


Wonders will never cease, it seems. In a short span, this site has begun to attract newfound attention and now, for the first time ever, we have a category that I did not create. From TBOE nominator Susan comes a brand new category, one I wholeheartedly endorse as being suitable for submission to the masses (that's you.) Here is Susan on her nominee for The Best Disney Princess Ever:

I would like to make a nomination for best disney princess ever. [My friends and I have had an ongoing debate about this for a few years now.] The best Disney princess ever is Sleeping Beauty.

There are many reasons for this, first of all, she is one of the classic Disney princesses and was first released in 1959. She is the only Disney princess who is seen most often wearing pink. The movie also has no hidden innuendos in it like "The Little Mermaid" or "Cinderella." (e.g., in "The Little Mermaid" girls are taught to do anything to get the boy and in "Cinderella" children are taught that they should just deal with abusive parents by creating a fantasy world. Sleeping Beauty is also a real princess but she isn't spoiled and grows up living as a peasant, which makes her more appealing. She also doesn't seem to be the main character in the movie, sharing the spotlight with Prince Charming, the fairies, and Maleficent, who is one of the coolest Disney villians. Overall Sleeping Beauty is just awesome and she is definitely the best Disney princess ever.



I have to confess that my favorite of the movies referenced was "The Little Mermaid," which, if Susan's right about the message would be only natural, what with me being a guy and all. But it's hard to argue with her logic, and so there's your newest nominee in your newest category: Sleeping Beauty, the Best Disney Princess Ever.

The Best Horror Movie Ever, New Nominee!

I CANNOT believe it. My opinion is being challenged, and not in a very meek way, either. Susan, who has also weighed in on the best fight scene now has gone and read my entry for The Best Horror Movie Ever and has come up with a
contrary opinion?

So I suppose I'll allow not just nominations but comments and dissents, and I'll post what Susan has to say, and we'll let free speech reign and the public decide:

[responding to my nomination about The Amityville Horror]

Oh man. No way. I have to step up in the name of good horror movies ever and tell you that, that movie and all its sequels and the remake were all horrible. Yes I said ALL horrible. I like horror movies so much its hard for me to decide on just one nomination... Not to mention the fact that there are so many different categories of horror movies. I could probably nominate one from every type of horror movie, but I'll just go with my most recent favorite.

Hostel was an amazing movie in general but it was a really great horror movie. I mean how many horror movies have you ever watched and were actually intrigued by the plot line? Not to mention there were plenty of guts and death to go around and of course enough jumpy parts to make the girls scream in the theater. I just loved it because it actually made me nauseous. :)


To show what she's talking about, here's a clip I pulled:



So there it is. The second nominee for The Best Horror Movie Ever. Like I said, we'll let free speech reign and allow the public to decide that I'm right.

The Best Fight Scene In A Movie, New Nominee!

As this snowball gets rolling downhill, it'll just pick up steam. My excitement, and hence use of metaphors, is because there is a NEW NOMINATION! And not even from someone who's related to me but from a total stranger who nonetheless was cool enough to recognize not just that The Best Of Everything is great fun, but also that she has an opinion and wants it to count.

But enough about me. Let's talk about the nominee and the nominator. Not in that order. The nominator is Susan, who goes by the myspace name [love]slave. In her own words:

"I'm Susan, I'm 19, I work at Shoney's as a waitress, I'm a junior at UNC at Asheville, I love movies and writing, and as far as classification goes, I'd have to say I'm a punk rocker. I think that pretty much covers me."

To learn more about her, go to her myspace page and read about her already.

And now for her nomination. I don't pretend to understand it because I never saw the movie, so I let her know that and she was nice enough to explain it to me. So here is the nomination and her explanation in full:

I think my vote for best fight scene in a movie would be at the end of Fight Club when you get to see all of the fights "Tyler" had with himself. And when he makes the gun be in his hand by believing it.

Fight Club is a movie about a man who is played by Edward Norton, even though that character is never acutally named in the film. At the beginning of the movie aformentioned character befriends a man named Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. They start what will later be called Fight Club by having a brawl with each other outside a bar. Fight Club is and underground fighting/boxing/wrestling league and through this organization Tyler starts building an army. He eventually uses his army consisting of all middle class citizens to demolish all of the credit card buildings in America to erase debt. Toward the end of the movie, the viewer comes to discover that Tyler and Norton's character are really one in the same. Norton's character then has several flashbacks one in particular to his first fight with Tyler outside the bar. In the flashback, he's the only person there and he's hitting himself. He also fights Tyler over the demolitions that are about to occur. When the camera is on the two directly you see both characters, but at times the camera shows the view from either a mirror or a security camera in the building. In these scenes Norton's character is the only visible one. He is even shown dragging himself by his neck down a corrodor. It's a great movie and I think its a great fight scene because its a a physical and mental struggle all at the same time within one character.


So there you have it. Susan/[love]slave, thanks for your nomination, and the battle for the Best Fight Scene In A Movie is on. And, because I could not find a clip of that scene, I've got what Fight Club would be like if it were a romantic comedy:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Best Horror Movie


Look, I know it's dated and I know that by today's standards there is not enough blood and there is not enough sex and the special effects look like something done with Christmas lights. I know they made it into a crummy remake, too, although I don't hold that against it. And I am a fan of horror movies, and know a little something about horror myself.

I know all that, but I also know this: when I was 12, I first watched The Amityville Horror, the original one, and I saw that Jody The Pig in the window at the end (you've got to look for it) and that night I woke up screaming. And about two years back I watched it again -- the old version, again, bad special effects and all -- with the Older Daughter, and I got scared ALL OVER AGAIN. And thinking about it now, frankly, is a little scary. The babysitter in the closet? The moved carpeting? The blind priest, fly room, the pit to Hell in the basement?

AND IT'S ALL TRUE?

There can be no other choice. The Amityville Horror, the original one, is the Best Horror Movie. Ever.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Best Fast Food (Non-Hamburger Category)

I remember when they first came out with Kentucky Fried Chicken's "Popcorn Chicken." I thought it was ridiculous. I thought it was just the skin, really, wrapped around a tiny morsel of chicken. Although I liked KFC, I did not like the idea of Popcorn Chicken. (Which I never really considered a "McNugget" although that link shows they are apparently in the same category.)

Then about two or three years ago Sweetie and I went to a friend's wedding (the rare occasion when we were social) and in between the ceremony and the reception we had some time to kill and had not eaten lunch. We located a KFC and decided to try that. Sweetie went for one of their platters. I was taken in by the packaging for the Popcorn Chicken, which looks like an old-fashioned carnival popcorn box. (Yes, that is how I make many of my decisions.) So I tried it, and I loved it. I was overwhelmed by the experience of eating a box of KFC chicken skin. It cuts to the chase: it is the exact part that we want to eat, without all the messing around with bones and white-vs-dark and all that.

I know that nowadays we are not supposed to fry foods before eating them, and take the skin off of chicken if we eat meat at all, and generally not have fun. But when we were kids we didn't have those concerns, and when we were kids we'd peel the skin off the chicken, eat that, and hide the meat under the beans. Popcorn chicken gives you that same experience without wasting food.

To help celebrate Popcorn Chicken, the best (non-hamburger) fast food, I've included the South Park episode that shows the allure of chicken skin and how Popcorn Chicken might save lives: