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.


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.