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:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Best Stand-Up Comedian

There are a lot of people I could nominate in this category, a lot of people whose jokes are funny when you first heard them and funny when you hear them again and funny when you tell them to your friends. There are people who have classic routines: Bill Cosby talking about the beatings, Eddie Murphy's welfare burger (or his impression of Richard Pryor!). There are people who somehow redefined comedy, like the guy I was going to nominate for this, Jerry Seinfeld. (A show about nothing, and some of the best routines ever that I quote back and forth with Sweetie and who even the kids like. "I've got my arm on it!") There are the weird guys: Jake Johannsen, or Steven Wright.

But there can be only one best and I kept coming back to her: Ellen DeGeneres. This may come as a shock to those of you who know her only as a talk-show host and commercial-dancer. But Ellen is, or was, a stand-up comedian, and if you watch either one of her HBO specials (all I've seen of them) you will understand why I am so impressed. I didn't stop laughing when I watched either of them. They are funny, they are crazy, and they all tie together. In her second special, when she told the last joke, you suddenly realize how she tied up the entire show and that makes it even better somehow (and I won't ruin it for you.)

She's got the memorable one-liners, which if you've watched you'll recognize: ("M In The P." "Gloria Estefan.") She has the great stories, and she's so talented you just sit back after a show and realize just how likeable and funny and great she really is. I can't find video of it, but you can check out video clips from Ellen's show, and bits of her stand up, here.

Go, Ellen, the Best Stand-Up Comedian ever.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Best Summer Food

As promised, I'm trying to insert some less-strange categories in here. And what is less strange than a life-size hot dog squeezing ketchup onto itself? This would be a good place, too,o to insert a video of the Will Ferrell as Harry Caray on Weekend Update skit where he asks Colin if he were a hot dog and got hungry would he eat himself, and then congratulates Colin on his wise choice.

When I was 21 I moved out of my parents' house and into a crummy apartment with two roommates in a terrible part of town -- so terrible that a year later I would learn that Jeffrey Dahmer had lived 6 blocks away. And I went through a series of jobs in that first summer, among them a one-day stint as a canvasser for a political action committee. That was depressing. But there was nothing depressing about my job as a hot dog vendor. We would go to the store front in the morning, and load up our carts with dogs and buns and relish and onions, and load them onto a truck, and we'd all sit in the hot, dark truck, talking quietly sometimes, as it drove around the city and stopped occasionally to have us hurriedly unload a cart and then continue on. My corner was downtown, near a bunch of banks and an insurance company. Boring, but easy work. And I worked the night of the Fourth of July fireworks, too, and sold over 700 hot dogs in 2 hours. That's a lot of hot dogs, all made by me.

The point is, I guess, that hot dogs are associated with summer in my mind, and with an idyllic summer of easy work and no parents for the first time in my life. And beyond that, they taste GOOD. And you can do anything with them. You can fry them and coat them with chili and cheese like I saw Rachael Ray do last week while I was on the stationary bike. You can bread them and put them on a stick and people will pay $3 for them at the State Fair. You can wrap them in 59-cent ready-bake croissants to make cheap pigs-in-a-blanket. You can eat them from a hot dog stand on 5th Avenue with a pretzel and a Diet Coke everyday on your honeymoon, like Sweetie and I did. But mostly you can (as I did that summer) put them on a bun, put a lot of onions and relish and mustard on them, and eat them as you sit in the sun and watch people go by to their jobs that do not let them sit on an upside-down pickle bucket and bask in the sun. Here's to the Hot Dog, the Best Summer Food. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Best Pop Song with "Pop" Or "Music" In The Title

I confess to two minor problems.

First, when I started this site I sort of thought of it as a site where there would be nominations in actual categories, like "Best Hamburger," or "Best Movie." And I've sort of gotten away from that because of fun with other categories. So in the future I'll try to put up some nominations for more 'regular' categories, although it would not hurt for one of the 20,000,000 people who view this site daily* to go ahead and nominate something, anything. Until then, I will continue to be the Ultimate Arbiter of What Is The Best.

The second minor problem is that sometimes I want to rethink my nominations or can't make up my mind, and like having a kid or voting for Bill Clinton one time, you can't take some things back. Also, it doesn't make sense for me to nominate two different things for "The Best Of" something because I have to think one or the other is the best, right? (I plan to never throw that logic at my pending twin boys.)

This is all brought about because on the drive into the office this morning I pulled one of my old cassette tapes out of the box in the garage, since our second car has a cassette deck and I didn't want to go through the trouble of bringing the iPod and its transmitter along. (How lazy is that, right? So I pulled out "Pop Goes The World" by Men Without Hats, and it was revelatory. I first heard the song "Pop Goes the World" on a two-day trip to visit a friend in Fort Knox at his graduation from basic training, a trip that involved so little sleep I hallucinated towards the end of it. And I bought the album the minute I got back to my dorm room. And I loved it and I've loved it since then. And I loved it this morning and thought "Why didn't I nominate this for Best Album?" (Short answer: because I'd forgotten it.) (Thought: An album that slips your mind probably is not the Best ever, right? Maybe, maybe not. I forget a lot of things.)

So I'm driving in and listening to that little tinkly piano beat behind the drum machines on the title track, and I still know all the words to the song and this song is GREAT, and I decided that rather than create the logical problem of my thinking both Graceland and Pop Goes The World could be the Best Album, I'd create a new category. And one that has some meritorious potential nominees itself. Because it's not just "Pop Goes the World" the song that could go in here. I gave consideration to "Pop Muzik" by M, and "Music That You Can Dance To" by Sparks, two great songs, but "Pop Goes The World" ultimately beats them for its catchiness, for the way the "Intro" (which I count as part of the song) is so overbearing and then goes into music-box-like piano, for the silliness of the little girl announcing the song, and for the lyrics, which tell the brief but enthralling story of Johnny and Jenny and their crazy dream. Oh, and the video is a masterpiece. It really is. Elvis and a drumming snowman and the baby on the Casio.

*Dark hits. For an explanation of this new Internet statistic, go to Thinking the Lions. But don't doubt the veracity of that count just because it cannot be proven.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Best Celebrity Baby (Right Now)

This is a very exciting time in the world of celebrity babies for The Best of Everything. No, not because of the Infangelina (with thanks to Fametracker for that), who TBOE will refer to as "McGruff," because (as The Superficial and TBOE's wife pointed out) "Shiloh" is a popular dog's name, and The Superficial suggested McGruff would be appropriate (and if you don't believe me, at the end of this post are the top 3 images that turn up on Google when you look for "Shiloh.") No, it's not because of all that at all. This has nothing to do with McGruff.

The excitement is because there is finally a nomination from someone other than me. Now, true, the nomination is from Sweetie, but that's still an accomplishment because the members of my family support my websites in a "You-do-great-but-don't-make-me-get-involved" kind of way, so Sweetie nominating someone is an achievement.

And her nomination comes in the category of "The Best Celebrity Baby (Right Now)." Currently, that category features Apple Martin as the first nominee. Sweetie's nominee is none other than Leni, the daughter of Seal and Heidi Klum:

Sweetie's reasoning behind the nomination, verbatim:

"How can you not say that Leni is the cutest?...Because she is so silly that is why she is the cutest.”*
*The intervening was my saying that she had to provide reasons for her nomination.

So there you have it. We have a race on: Apple vs. Leni, for cutest celebrity baby.

Oh, and here are the Shiloh searches. Good job, Brangelina!