Thursday, December 29, 2005

Quick note to Target shoppers... The Christmas selection of their incredible Choxie chocolates are 50 percent off. Let the rejoicing begin.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Aie. Meltdowns suck.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Some days I wish I didn't have such a curious mind. I'd never find out about various things that man should just not be privy to. For example, the people who brought you the notorious Chia Pet now sell confidence in a tub. You think I'm kidding? Take a look... See, it's Confidence!

I'd still rather have my good ol' Method cleaners any day.

Speaking of which, the nice people over at Method recently sent me a couple sample packs to give to friends. If you're local (metro Phoenix area), let me know you want one and I'll set you up.

Friday, November 25, 2005

What The Jester Had to Drink: The New Fresca(s)

The marketing gurus at Coca-Cola have let yet another soda jump on the remixed flavor bandwagon. We've seen Coke with your choice of cherry, vanilla, lemon, or lime; Sprite with berry or tropical flavors, and now... Fresca? That old bastion of diet soda? Yes, it's been reinvented, complete with sleeker labeling and two cousins of the original grapefruit flavor- peach and black cherry. The original flavor hasn't been messed with; if you have had any in the last 20 years it still tastes just the way you expect. The peach flavor is by far my favorite of the trio; the aroma is dead on for a ripe, fresh peach, giving a slightly synaesthetic sensation of the gentle fuzz on your tongue. The flavor itself isn't quite the same, giving way to a bit of an artificial edge, but generally is one of the better peach flavors I've come across. I can't quite say the same for the black cherry, which was overwhelmingly candy-sweet and very little else.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Just noticed that the marketing wizards at Bose have started offering "widescreen sound" from their new line at Target... The sound ain't coming from the screen, folks. In other Target news, they now offer Reidel stemware at about ten bucks a stem... The only place I've seen it cheaper is Trader Joe's.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

On Holiday Gifts (and the occasional lack thereof)

A quick warning to the lot of you... Yes, I know an awful lot of people, and HanuRamaKwanSticeMas is very quickly on its way. Due to my job this season, my free time will rapidly diminish as the 25th of December draws near, and shopping opportunities with it. I'm going to give you my holiday shopping methodology now so you all understand... I don't like going out to buy gifts for people. If I suddenly have a flash of inspiration and go "Aha! I know what to get for _____", or I'm out and about and I see something that makes me go "Hey, I'll bet _____ would LOVE that!", then I'll get it. If I don't see anything or have anything come to mind that you would like, then I won't get you anything. Don't take it personally. This comes from many, many Christmases with the folks where I would get *one* thing I liked, and have to take back eight or ten various items. Then there was the year they surprised me with a horse... hooboy, is that ever a rant in and of itself. Readers' Digest version: Don't surprise anyone with anything big-ticket unless you are absolutely, completely positive they really, really want it. If the thing is alive, this counts triple.

Anyway, where was I... oh yes, having to take stuff back. It's a pain in the ass, and I'm tired of it. If you know me well, you already know I can be brutally honest; if I don't like something, I'll be very thankful that you thought of me, and then tell you I don't like it ;-) If you feel obligated to get me something but can't quite put your finger on what to get me, don't worry about it. Just let me know you didn't see anything that screamed that it was perfect for me, and I'll understand completely; I know damn well that I can be very tough to buy gifts for. One hint I'll give you- no board games. If you think I'll like it, I probably have it already.

In meeting... Ow, DLP projector rainbows hurt.


*grumbles* left my knitting over at Anna's place (ever more becoming Home 2.0, I do everything but sleep there lately), I could have used some work on my sweater over break. And then since I have things going on tonight (like baking my legendary pumpkin cheesecake), I'll miss out on the November Stitch 'n Bitch over at Changing Hands. C'est la vie.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mmmmm.... I (heart) Lush!

The new Lush store is open over at Scottsdale Fashion Square, and I have but one thing to say about it:

DAMN, I love this stuff!

I picked up a bar of their Karma soap, and Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo. Both are utterly wonderful. The Karma scent is very citrusy, and has a lot of patchouli in there; I don't like the smell of patchouli but it hides very well in the Karma blend. The scent sticks around for a long time... after a day at a recent Renaissance festival, friends were still commenting that I smelled really good. I've noticed that hugs from people last much, much longer, mostly because their nose is now buried in my shoulder and they're giving me a really good sniff. God help me the next time I'm around my friend Gypsy; she'll be gnawing on me for hours. The soap is a beautiful bright shade of orange, too. It makes a nice contrast to the blues-and-greens color scheme I went with in my bathroom. And it cleans really, really well. I don't think I'd recommend it for faces, but for a luscious whole body clean, you'll love it. Something I just noticed... I washed my hands with generic soap out of a hand dispenser, and somehow it amplified the Karma scent. Sweet.

Then there's the Cynthia Sylvia Stout. Lush, thank you from the bottom of my heart for realizing that not everyone out there wants to add tons of body and volume to their hair. Our dogs are now getting washed with Paul Mitchell shampoo because the Cynthia Sylvia Stout just works that well. You see, the main ingredient in CSS is Guinness beer. Yes, that means it's dark brown, smells toasty and malty, and then Lush gave it notes of lemon and a little cognac oil to make it even yummier. All the ingredients help to keep your hair from going POOF, and make it nice and shiny too. Now to pick up a tub of The Strokes conditioner... and some other yummy smelling soaps... and maybe a bath melt or three... and... and... and...

Now if only it wasn't 12 bucks for a 250 mL bottle of shampoo. Aie. At least it's one of those "little dab'll do ya" shampoos.

Friday, November 11, 2005

How Much Longer?

Seen in an ad for one of the casinos dotting our landscape:

Win $100,000 a year for life!*

then down in the fine print...
*Life is defined as a 20-year period.

All I can say is... Eep.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thought for the day... Enjoy yourself. After all, if you don't, how can you expect anyone else to?

Friday, October 21, 2005

In lieu of flowers...

you want us to send what?!

And for the record, I'm independent.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Piece of Brain Lint

Three words: Oprah for President.

Can you imagine the landslide she'd win by?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Note to self... Look up stuff about East Village Opera Company, and decide if it has crossed the line between innovative and schlocky.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wow, what a party...

Well, it's all over now. I certainly had very much fun at the party. There were fire eaters and fire breathers, live musicians, bellydancers, and the party ran quite literally from dusk til dawn.

And there's so very, very much that happened that I really can't talk about in public forums like this...

Friday, October 14, 2005

This and the preceding pictures are for my friend Anna, who could not join us in the west valley. Bienvenue... to the first incarnation of ZuLounge.


I had a very thankful near-miss on that bug I told you about the other day. I'll attribute it to the wonderful stuff known as Airborne. It's wonderful stuff; all you do is plop the little disc into a small glass of water, and about a minute later you have a pleasant tasting orange or lemon-lime fizzy drink packed with vitamins and electrolytes and herbs and whatnot, all geared to boosting your immune system. If you feel something coming on just plop one and whatever it was you were worrying about will suddenly be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Uh Oh...

Achy body? Check.
Lightheaded? Check.
Unstoppable craving for fresh squeezed orange juice? Check.

Something wicked this way comes. Usually if I'm getting sick, I start craving Gatorade and saltine crackers. I know I'm calling in sick if I'm walking through the grocery store, pass a display of Gatorade, and get a strong urge to buy about 2 gallons of the stuff. Last time I was craving fresh squeezed orange juice like this, I was half-asleep in my bedroom for 36 hours solid.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm walking around in the most evil retailer on earth, Super Walmart. This is not a regular habit; they just have a good price on an oil change. Anyway, I was looking through the board games (if you know me, this shouldn't be a surprise in the slightest) when my eyes happened upon something uncommon in American game stores, a Spanish board game. I took a gander at the back of the box, and printed on the box was something resembling a warning label. The English translation was "ATTENTION: Three AAA batteries not included... because you don't need them."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tivo Alert!

After gazillions of people griped over the water cooler that John really should have won, Dancing with the Stars returns tonight. Kelly and John have a live 90-minute dance-off. It's on ABC half an hour after the prime time block starts (7:30 PM if you're in Arizona, your mileage may vary).


After reading the recent installment of OGHC (see the sidebar), I'm sure the headline made a few Psychonauts players twitch violently. Fear not, this is something completely different. An Italian art group has put together an extremely enormous pink bunny on a hill in the Italian countryside. Check out the story in The Guardian for more details, including a charming yet creepy picture of this 200 foot long cuddly beast.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Chat Exchange of the Night

Just had to share it... it works as a capsule summary of why American culture is going to hell in a handbasket. We were discussing what we had done this weekend, and he told me he went for a drive down the Apache Trail from Roosevelt Lake into Phoenix. (Tip for non-native Arizonans: You want to take the Apache Trail from west to east. Vice versa is much more harrowing.) Anyway, a fair amount of that road is dirt. It's the kind of thing Miss Océane, my green Honda Element named after the water elemental in Cirque du Soleil's Dralion, lives for, twisty roads and great scenery everywhere. We had this exchange while chatting not just a couple of hours ago:

[him] "I should have kept driving on paved roads. My poor vehicle."
[me]"What do you drive?"
[him]"A Jeep."

Lordy, I wish I was shitting you on this one.

Oh Damn, Another Time Sucker

As you can tell by the link bar to the right, my preferred Sudoku puzzle is the one created by Nikoli for Britain's Guardian newspaper. Now, the brilliant souls at the Guardian have imported another Nikoli puzzle, Kakuro. It's a little more like a crossword, but adding up numbers instead of figuring out words. And it's every bit as interesting as sudoku. Regrettably (or thankfully depending on your POV), I don't have a direct link to the online version of the puzzle like I do for the Guardian's daily Sudoku (right now you'll have to dig through the online print edition's G2 section), but you know darn well once I do, you'll get the link and already be hooked on the puzzle weeks before everyone else is addicted to it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Subway Code

Something possessed my brain to go get a meatball sub from Subway for lunch... food coma should set in any moment now. I have noticed there are two kinds of Subway locations in this world. The first will put the same amount of toppings even if you specify that you want three pounnds of lettuce on it. The second kind (the one I went to today) has a befuddling Standard Operationg Procedure; if you specify that you want a lot of something, they put 1 piece of it on the sandwich, and if you say you want just a little bit, they give you three big handfuls. Since I wanted just a little bit of red onion on my sammitch, I am now something of a social leper for the rest of the day.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Prize That's All Wet

The Price Is Right is currently in reruns. Yesterday, they showed an episode that originally aired in December... I hope they already got their prize. One of the prizes in the Showcase was a trip to beautiful New Orleans. The prize offered after that? A shiny new speedboat.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What The Jester Had For Lunch: Atlanta Bread Company, Tempe AZ

One of my co-workers recently got a free lunch for everyone in the office at Atlanta Bread Company. It was being done by a company that offers financial planning services. The lunch I had selected was a half-and-half combo consisting of half of a turkey sandwich and a bread bowl of baked potato soup, a favorite of mine. Things got off to a bad start when the guy from the financial company didn't bother to get up from the table, welcome us, or shake my hand... First impressions are everything, and theirs sucked like a Hoover. We then found out that the menu selections that we had sent to them a week prior had been left back at his office. Puh-leeze, if you can't keep track of a goddamn order slip, do you *really* think I'm going to trust you with a cent of my money? I'd rather leave it with the evil bastards at Wells Fargo, at least I know for certain they'll suck my account dry.

Speaking of dry, it's a perfect adjective to describe the turkey sandwich. I think the most flavorful element of the sandwich was the lettuce; nothing else even registered on my palate. And for being the Atlanta BREAD Company, they could put out a decent baguette. HA! This was everything a baguette shouldn't be, dense with a very soft crust. The baked potato soup was bland as hell, a marked contrast to the overpoweringly sour sourdough loaf that held the soup. Did they throw in extra acid just to make sure it was really, really tangy? The crust on said loaf looked to be crisp, but one bite told me it was closer to plastic in nature. The interior of the sourdough reminded me instantly of those cottony, dry French bread loaves one can get at supermarkets for a buck. The one noteworthy thing about the entire meal was how incredibly bland everything was (with the exception of the one-dimensionally tangy sourdough); it's almost as if they attempted to deliberately remove all flavor from the food so that nobody would complain about weird tastes in the food.

I've noticed after eating there that I have been insanely thirsty. I normally drink a lot of water, but I'm slugging it down like it's going out of style. I just did a quick check of the nutrition info at Atlanta Bread's website, and I found out that my menu selection had a whopping 3,195 milligrams of sodium! The FDA recommends no more than 2400 mg a day, meaning not only did I get my entire sodium intake in one meal, but enough for tomorrow's breakfast as well! While it's true you don't always get what you pay for, a meal of this caliber wasn't even worth what I paid for it... zero dollars, zero cents. If someone offers to take me to Atlanta Bread, I'll strongly suggest dining elsewhere. If they still want to go, I'll politely decline. It really is that awful.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Die, spambots, DIE!

Eight spam comments in half an hour... grrrrr, who the hell opened the floodgates? I'm turning on the word verification thingie. To all of you humans out there, I do apologize for the inconvenience.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Over at the fantastic resale venue Bookman's, one can find all sorts of interesting things... Indeed, things one has never seen before. This time, it was not merchandise, but mannerism. I had seen a gentleman pull a glass out of his pocket, fill it at the drinking fountain, and drink the contents. Quite a nice idea, I must admit... But odd enough that I don't recall ever seeing this before. If you decide to try this, I have but two words of advice: don't trip.

Lola Weekend

I'm coining the phrase "Lola ____", where _____ is a period of time. It's when you can tell there are multiple possibilities as to what will happen, all of them quite different (as in the excellent movie Run Lola Run. Here's the two things that may happen:

1) A friend of mine decided that he doesn't want to go to a concert in Vegas alone, and invites me at the last minute. This is not likely (he has about three hours to finalize the plan with me), but possible. In case you're wondering, the concert is Backstreet Boys. I wouldn't be my first pick, but it does invoke my Rule of Concert Going: Unless you completely, utterly hate the band, if someone offers to take you to a concert, just go. You'll have a wonderful time. Since I don't utterly hate the Backstreet Boys, if he wants to take me, I'll gladly go.

2) I wake up early Saturday morning, do an odd job of checking people in for a medical seminar at the Ritz-Carlton, meet up with a different friend of mine, go have lunch and watch The Aristocrats with him, possibly sneak in a swim and a nap, head up to *another* odd job where I'll be handing margaritas to conventioneers up at Fort McDowell Adventures, then head back into town, sing my heart out at karaoke (JJ's Cantina on Scottsdale north of McKellips) and try Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life" for the first time in public (eep!), hand out with friends after the bar closes, and stumble into bed so late it's early once more. Whew.

Either way, this weekend should be pretty darn fun. I'll let you know how it goes either way, and if I'm in Vegas, expect mobile picture goodness.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I was standing on the corner...

"Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega is a pretty darn good song. There are two bits of trivia about it that you likely do not know: First, the original song is nothing more than Vega singing. There's no backing music of any kind, just her. A group called DNA liked it and did the remixed version of it that you hear on the radio. The second bit of trivia is that the song was used as the benchmark track for the now ubiquitous compressed music format known as the MP3. So in effect, mp3s were designed to play Suzanne Vega songs.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What the Jester is Having for Dinner: Amazing Jake's, Mesa, AZ

Wow, it's actually good. Roasted poblano corn chowder with a nice spicy bite to complement the sweetness of the corn (almost too sweet), spinach salad with bacon, hard-boiled egg, and roasted almonds; tasty pastas that are FOR ONCE al dente (and a mac n cheese that isn't neon orange!), the only weak point is the pizza. Fun game selection (i.e. they have DDR), and good prices (50 cents for three songs on DDR), now if only you didn't have to buy dinner in order to play the video games.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Song lyric for me to look up later... "you're unforgiven, so go on livin'". I have a sneaky suspicion that Belinda Carlisle is the artist. If you can name the song off what I've given, I'll be thrilled.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

GMail Weirdness

I've gotta say I absolutely love GMail, Google's email service. The storage capacity is massive and growing by the second, I can easily search for any message, and the spam that gets sent is almost nonexistent. The weird thing about the spam that I receive is that all of it is in Japanese (or maybe Mandarin Chinese, kinda hard to tell the difference when it comes out as gibberish characters). Does anyone else out there have the same thing happen with their spam?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Why I love Washington Mutual

Apologetic ATMs. I made a withdrawal this morning. After I entered my PIN, I got this message on screen:

Sorry, I just ran out of paper
(It's been a crazy day!)

At Wells Fargo, I just get a very business-y screen saying that the machine is out of order.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Yay work!

I just got hired on for a seasonal position at Fairytale Brownies. Thank you to the great people at Pridestaff over in Mesa. There is a certain perk to the job that is certainly unique. Some of you may be familiar with Starbucks's perk of giving all of its employees a complimentary pound of coffee every week. Fairytale Brownies does something similar... a half-dozen complimentary brownies every single day. So, if you need some chocolate solace, just let me know and I'll set you up ;-)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Plans To Take Over The World #3,872

While driving down the freeway listening to a catchy tune, I had what may be a very brilliant and very ridiculous idea- a CD full of earworm songs. Nice thing is, if you get a song stuck in your head all you have to do is pop the CD in and it is guaranteed GONE. Only problem is that a different song will be very firmly lodged. So far I'm thinking of using:

  • "There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" from Disney's Carousel of Progress
  • "Katamari On the Rocks" from Katamari Damacy
  • "Cruel Angel Thesis" from Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • "Take a Chance On Me" by ABBA
and I'm sure I'll come up with many more. Got any ideas for ones to add? Let me know in the Comments. And don't dare suggest "it's a small world". That's why the Carousel of Progress song is in there- it's a Disney earworm without being as sickly saccharine as small world.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Could Ya Pass the Aloe Vera Gel?

Today was my first time in a lonnnnnng time out at Saguaro Lake. If anyone tries to drag me up that way again, remind me to convince them to go to Canyon Lake, it's really much nicer there- fewer crowds, far fewer idiots with glass bottles (Really people, what the fuck ARE you thinking?), and a really pretty drive (albeit a very harrowing one when going back into town). This was my first time on a jet ski, and all I can say about that is "Wheeeeeeeee!" Those things are much too much fun. If you've never been on one, there's really no way to describe it; you just need to try it yourself. My little cousin Noah (I think he's like 4) wanted to ride, so we put him on there with me at the helm and we took off. We took off at a good clip, and he was immediately asking me to slow down. I guess he won't be taking after me when it comes to roller coasters. So, we puttered around the lake at a moderate pace, and I got a quick lesson that jet skis are easier to control at top speed. I went to make a turn at the slow pace, and both Noah and I got a ducking in the lake. He was definitely ready to call it quits after that. Not too long after that, Noah was playing with the Fantastic 4 Human Torch action figure that he just got that morning, even after he nearly lost it once. Well, he lost it again, this time for good; the water was just too murky to see anything past about 18 inches deep (Eeeew). I scuttled around feeling the bottom for anything that might be an action figure, and came up empty-handed, at least in that respect. I did find a pair of sunglasses, though- Maui Jims. The solid metal frame was a bit bent up, but I managed to reshape them to good as new. I remembered MJ sunglasses being a decent brand, I think we sold them at the JW Marriott in the golf pro shop. I looked around online just now for the model I snagged, and it's one of their titanium line. So, either I have a pair of fake Maui Jims, or my attempt at helping my cousin was rewarded by dredging up a 250 dollar pair of sunglasses. Knowing my luck with things like this in the past (I have a genuine, honest-to-god real Prada duffel bag worth 750 that I picked up at Goodwill for 8, and a pair of 400 dollar Ferragamo loafers I got for 7)... I'll bet it's the genuine article.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hey, remember Surge?

If you do, have I got great news for you. Coca-Cola is re-releasing it! It's now called Vault, and is the same product you remember, but with almost 50 percent more caffeine, bringing it up to the caffeine level of the legendary Jolt soda. Alas, it's only in test markets on the east coast right now, so those of us out here in Arizona will just have to wait. If you're reading this and happen to see some, send it over to me... I'll be the happiest jester you have ever, ever seen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What the Jester Had for Dinner: Cornish Pasty Co., Tempe, AZ

Warning: I'm in a linky mood. Click as you wish, just don't be surprised if the link itself is out of context.

I love monsoon season. It's a great break from the constant sun we get here in Arizona, with short but intense thunderstorms rolling across the valley at irregular intervals. Today at my house we had a rare type of storm- most monsoon storms start in the late afternoon, this one hit us just before 2 PM. For much of the day you could see clouds building outside, and the rain lasted just long enough for me to get into a mood to put jazz selections on iTunes. The weather got me into a food mood, too- something suitable for a rainy day. Chili sounded good, but I really didn't feel like taking three hours to make a bowl of (admittedly awesome) red. Then, the idea struck- British food. There are a few places to go in town for chow from across the pond, and my favorite is the Cornish Pasty Co. (and before we get any farther, it's pronounced PASS-tee), tucked away in a little strip mall on the northeast corner of University and Hardy.

As you can imagine, they specialize in Cornish pasties. What is a cornish pasty, you ask? It's a relative to the Italian calzone, the Spanish empanada, and the American Hot Pocket- ingredients of your choice wrapped in pastry and baked. The Cornish pasty has some function designed into its form; as long ago as the 1200s, wives and mothers of Cornish tin miners made them with the folded over edges twisted along one side. This provided a handle for the miners (who were not only covered in dirt from head to toe but arsenic as well) to hold while eating the pasty, ensuring that the meal itself stayed clean. Traditionally, the pasty is filled with a mixture of steak, onion, potato, and rutabaga (known to the Cornish as swede), but the Cornish Pasty Co. offers over 30 variations on the theme, with ones that follow the original closely (the Porky, a mix of pork, sage, potato, onion, and apple) to other popular British fare such as bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, even chicken tikka masala (which you would think is Indian but is indeed British) to things with all manner of international flair such as carne adovada, Greek chicken, even the good ol' American Philly cheesesteak. Every time I get in the mood for a pasty, the one I want is the Oggie, the steak one described above. This time, I branched out a wee bit and got the Porky. It, like the Oggie, is quite delicious. It's seasoned with a heavy dose of sage (enough that if you don't fancy sage much I would recommend trying something else on the menu), and the light sweetness of the apples rounds out the meal nicely. My friend Phil tried out the Philly Cheesesteak pasty, and it hit all of the right cheesesteak-y notes, with one minor quibble: The pasty uses a mild Swiss cheese, while the most common cheeses on a Philly cheesesteak are American, Provolone, or Cheez Whiz. My other dining companion, Anonymous, tried the Meat and Cheese, a combination of house-made sausage with cheddar, swiss, and mozzarella cheeses. I recommended he try HP sauce (a popular Brit condiment that has no equal stateside; A1 comes closest but is still miles away) with it, and the combination worked well... so well that I didn't get a chance to snag any of his. Le sigh. Somehow, both Phil and I had room for dessert (your guess is as good as mine, the main course pasties are HUGE), and both of us opted for a caramel apple pasty. Thank God it wasn't the size of the regular pasties, I would have likely exploded on the spot if I'd managed to eat two full-size pasties in one sitting. The caramel apple pasties are sweet, but not overly so, with a nice hit of cinnamon; the whipped cream and vanilla ice cream add a silky mouthfeel to round out the dish. (Wow, that last bit sounds like something right out of Iron Chef!) The only thing holding this back from being utterly fantastic were the apples themselves, likely because apples are currently nowhere near in season.

I'll definitely go back to Cornish Pasty Co. many more times; it's a place that I want to go through and systematically try every single item on the menu, if I wasn't already so damn hooked on the Oggie. Some great things about the place I haven't had a chance to mention- it's some of the best (and most filling) cheap eats in town (most expensive thing on the menu is 7 dollars, most everything is around 6), they're open til 10 PM every day but Sunday, they have vegan pasties available (just call ahead an hour in advance, they'll be glad to set you up), and if you want, you can take home some par-baked once and heat them up at your convenience I think next time it would be a good idea to get oh, about a dozen Oggies to go...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

People for the Execreable Treatment of Animals

I love writing original material for the blog. It's a lot of fun, and lets me vent my spleen in a way that others find amusing. But sometimes, you run across something that really, really needs to be heard by as many people as possible. This is one of those times; I had heard earlier information about this story from the Penn & Teller series Bullshit!, and it has only become worse since P&T did the show. Read on... The following story is from This is True dated 17 July 2005. It is Copyright 2005 Randy Cassingham, all rights reserved, and reprinted here
with permission:

"Ethical" Defined

After more than 100 dead dogs were dumped in a trash dumpster over four weeks, police in Ahoskie, N.C., kept an eye on the trash receptacle behind a supermarket. Sure enough, a van drove up and officers watched the occupants throw in heavy plastic bags. They detained the two people in the van and found 18 dead dogs in plastic bags in the dumpster, including puppies; 13 more dead dogs were still in the van. Police say the van is registered to the headquarters of People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals, and the two occupants, Andrew B. Cook, 24, and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, identified themselves as PETA employees. An autopsy performed on one of the dogs found it was healthy before it was killed. Police say PETA has been picking up the animals -- alive -- from North Carolina animal shelters, promising to find them good homes. Cook and Hinkle have been charged with 62 felony counts of animal cruelty. In response to the arrests PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said it's against the group's policy for employees to dump animals in the trash, but "that
for some animals in North Carolina, there is no kinder option than euthanasia." (Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald) ...Oops, my mistake: that's "Playing God" Defined.

In his author's notes section, Cassingham had more to say about this story:

The more I learn about PETA, the less I think of them. The story of them killing animals isn't even unusual. According to PETA's own filings, in 2004 PETA killed 86.3 percent of the animals entrusted to its care -- a number that's rising, not falling. Meanwhile, the SPCA in PETA's home town (Norfolk, Va.) was able to find loving homes for 73 percent of the animals put in its care. A shortage of funds? Nope: last year PETA took in $29 million in tax-exempt donations. It simply has other priorities for the funds, like funding terrorism (yes, really). But don't take my word for it: I got my figures from -- and they have copies of PETA's state and federal filings to back it up. The bottom line: if you donate money to PETA because you think they care for and about animals, you need to think some more. PETA literally yells and screams about how others "kill animals" but this is how they operate? Pathetic.

And you know what I wonder? PETA's official count of animals they kill is 86.3 percent. But if they're going around picking up animals, killing them while they drive around and not even giving them a chance to be adopted, and then destroying the evidence by dumping the bodies in the trash, are those deaths being reported? My
guess: no. While 86.3 percent is awful, the actual number is probably much, much higher. How dare they lecture anyone about the "ethical" treatment of animals!

(This is True is a weekly column featuring
weird-but-true news
stories from around the world, and has been published since 1994. Click
the link for info about free subscriptions.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tips from your friendly Postal Service

Just in case you have exotic pets, the United States Postal Service has provided tips on how to move them to a new home:

Or if your pet is a bit less exotic:

It just goes to show you, the US Postal Service does have a sense of humor. It's just repressed.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

microcosms of bliss

Every once in a while, little things that just sort of happen bring great joy. The one that just happened to me was taking a deep whiff of a glass of wine while there was a great big crescendo in the music I was listening to. There are days like this that I think that the Shuffle on iTunes is not quite random, but instead run by a guy who is watching you very closely.

Incidentally, the music is "Jenny" from The Rocketeer. If you've seen David Copperfield do the trick where he levitates a sofa (and a couple of audience members sitting on it), it's that song. The wine is my personal house red, the cabernet/shiraz Wine Cube blend from Target. Yes, the cube means it's box wine. It's pretty darn good. And at the equivalent price of 4 bucks a bottle, it's certainly an everyday luxury.

Two Things From Inside Super Target

Number one: Joy! Method makes body wash now. A bottle of the Mango Mint is now happily residing in my shower; it's only a matter of time before the other ones (olive leaf, cassia flower, and lavender-thyme) show up to join the party. The Mango Mint joins up with a bottle of the most refreshing soap I've ever used, Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. Ya see, Dr. Bronner's uses real peppermint oil in the soap... You haven't lived until you're minty fresh all over your body.

Number Two: I just saw someone with 1337 tattooed on the back of their neck. My brain is still going "WHY GOD WHY?" You want something 1337? Who's the one updating their blog from inside a grocery store? I would have been delighted to provide you with pictorial goodness, but there's no way that I could have snagged a pic of something that small without risking getting a restraining order (and the pic coming out blurry as hell because the lens was too close to the subject).

Freakin' posers.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A Short Open Letter To The People of London

Congratulations on nabbing the guy responsible for your recent tragedy, and thank you very much for actively demonstrating the right way to react to a dire situation. Our fiasco of the World Trade Center is far from over; we cried, cried, cried some more, put out American flags, then The Powers That Be went and invaded a couple of countries to topple corrupt regimes that didn't have much to do with the task at hand. You cried, got over it, stood up and proclaimed "WE ARE NOT AFRAID!", and then The Powers That Be went and got the bastard. Again, I thank you.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ugly Lamp Of The Week

I think lamps like this:

are banned by the Geneva Convention for crimes against humanity. The image really can't do it justice; the thing was at least three feet tall, and had more of a greenish tinge, a sort of baby barf green if you will. To think, for it to end up at a thrift store, someone somewhere bought it at retail.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Awful Lyric of the Day

"The sky resembles a backlit canopy with holes punched in it"
--Incubus, "Wish You Were Here"

This is what happens when punk artists try to be deep.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tempe 4th of July Tips

#1: Stand somewhere that you can see the length of the Mill Avenue bridge. A number of low pyro shots are effects that go racing across the bridge, and if you're standing near the end of the bridge (as we were) it just looks like stuff getting tossed into the air for 15 seconds.

#2: Park way the hell far away and walk to the venue. We parked at a garage (that's free after 7 PM) north of Terrace, just west of Rural, quite literally on the other side of ASU from the big event. Some friends parked in the big lot where everyone else did; we both got in our cars at roughly the same time, and we were at the rendezvous point (that they were a mile closer to!) by the time they were just getting out of the parking lot.

Friday, July 01, 2005

We Have A Winnah!

Remember that contest we were having not too long ago? Well, it's July. That means the contest is over and our winner is Chris, who found 9 items out of the fourteen in the image! The ones he found were:

hanging lampshade
its fixture
and bulb
the nightstand
throw pillow
pillowcase and bedspread
the flooring
the IKEA catalog
the bowl on the nightstand

The other things in the picture were:
the candle holder on the nightstand (the tall black thing)
the candle (round thing on top of said candle holder)
decorative stones (in the bowl)
floating candles (in the bowl)
the orange pillowcase

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New Link Up

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to present to you... Su Doku!

[utter silence]

[cricket chirps]

[clap... clap...]

OK, so I'm one of about five Americans aware of Su Doku puzzles. It's pretty simple- you have a 9x9 grid with some of the numbers filled in. All you have to do is fill in every row, column, and 3x3 cell with all of the numbers 1 through 9. Sounds easy, doesn't require math skills (just logic); be warned, it's harder than it looks... well, at least on the Difficult and Fiendish ones. Once you get the hang of it, you'll likely find out what much of the world already knows- these things are crack in convenient pencil-and-paper format. The link is to the right.

Friday, June 24, 2005

There's an In-n-Out going in at scottsdale and the 202. Woohoo!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

One More Week...

until the end of Cosmic Jester's first ever blog contest. Don is currently in the lead with 6 things in the room that came from IKEA. Technically, Thomas is tied with him since the item Thomas mentioned did *not* come from IKEA, but since Don got his answer in first, he's in the lead. You have until the clock on the Comments page for the original contest post says July.

Small hint for those of you who have been procrastinating- there are at least 14 items that came from IKEA; things that had to be purchased together count as one, things that could be purchased as multiple separate things if desired count for each individual part.

A Minor Neurosis Developing...

Since I ship orders around the globe for a living, I've become quite well aware of how many various countries prefer to have their mailings addressed. One thing I've noticed is that people from England want their mail to go to United Kingdom. You aren't United Kingdish, you're bloody English! I know it all gets to the same place at the end of the day, but still... :-X

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

/me reaches around to his back...

and feels wings start to sprout.

Some days, you feel like a friend turns into a guardian angel. Today, it's my turn to be one. The one I've been called to lives in England, and has seen more of the earthly underworld than anyone should ever have to. Addiction, dependence, you name it, he's been there. Sometimes, when I run into a person like this, I wonder why I've been picked out of six billion people to save this one person. But then, deep down, nothing is more satisfying than helping a lost soul find themselves again.

I had just realized that with addictions, the reason it's so hard to stop doing it (no matter what it is) is because any negative feelings that get pushed aside all come back to haunt you when you try to stop.

And yes, I know that's not quite coherent. I'll hash it out more when I have the time; consider the previous paragraph a stub to grow later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ikea: Taking Over The World, One House at a Time

Your house may already have Ikea stuff. If you're European, there's a 10 percent chance you were conceived on an Ikea bed. Now, they're offering the whole house too.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Congratulations, Thomas.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Holy Shit, It Worked

Last week, I mentioned a new show on ABC called Dancing With The Stars. I'm proud to report that it is a damn fine show. I had no idea just how retro they were going to go; not only did they have the flowing script logo, they also do a kaleidoscope effect on the intros and outros, they even have a live 15-piece orchestra. Watching the dancers is an awful lot of fun, too- Kelly Monaco from General Hospital looks positively frightened out there, but the rest of the crew is having a wonderful time. My money is on John O'Hurley, he and his partner have absolutely ripped up the dance floor on both outings so far.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Little Known G-Mail Features

Not too long ago, G-Mail, the Google webmail service, was an exclusive, prestigious address to have. These days, everyone and his cat has eighteen addresses. It's still a really cool service. If you want an invite, let me know (puzzle time: Put these parts together to get my email- gmail, com, jkgrence, ., @.) I was just clicking around and noticed that instead of the usual tech tips at the top of the inbox and small ads at the top of emails, the Trash section offers recycling tips. These can be slightly dubious ideas... one I just got was "You can make a lovely hat out of previously-used aluminum foil."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

It Is Done

Some of you may have been aware that I was working on redecorating my room. This:

is the result. It looks just as good in person. To celebrate, for all of my loyal fans out there (both of you), we're having a contest! It's called The Great IKEA Search. The rules are pretty simple- as a result of my IKEA addiction, the room is chock full of stuff from the place. Your challenge is to name everything from IKEA in this picture. The first person to leave a comment on this post with everything listed (or whoever has found the most by June 31) wins... are you ready for it? Dinner at IKEA! Yes, that's right, you and a guest (me) will be whisked away to IKEA of Tempe, where you'll dine on traditional Swedish fare presented in a modern setting. After your fabulous repast, you'll get to tour the store with the Cosmic Jester himself (translation: We go shopping!), and pick up valuable tips for decorating your favorite spaces. As a super bonus prize, if you can actually give the IKEA name for every single item, you'll get a 100-pack of IKEA's Glimma candles (and possibly some other Swedish swag too)! Good luck, everyone!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I heard some political pundit toss out a very frightening idea for the 2008 presidential election... John McCain vs. Hillary Clinton. At least it's not the 2004 election of Frankenstein vs. A Monkey, but still... the mind reels.

So weird it just might work...

Tonight, ABC is premiering a brand new show that has been popular in Great Britain. Over there, it's called Strictly Come Dancing. Stateside, it will be known as the very retro sounding Dancing With The Stars. Six celebrities team up with professional dancers in a heated competition, three judges critique the performance, and then America gets to vote for their favorite. Yeah, it's a bog standard talent competition. At least this time we aren't subjected to voices that had no right to leave the karaoke bar. And one of the judges played temptress Fook Yu in Austin Powers in Goldmember.

Monday, May 30, 2005

there we go

20,000 steps it is.


That's how many steps I've taken today according to my SportBrain pedometer. So close to 20,000... I'm tired, but maybe a quick walk around the block will get me over the edge...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Oooo, color!

This is amazing- these two areas that you see are the first two walls of the house that are *not* painted white. The rest of the room is getting color, too- the remaining walls will be painted a tint of the yellow you see in the bay window, and the trim will be a very pale version of it. I'd love to get some blue curtains in the windows, but the maternal unit (Mom for short) says it would "look too Mexican". Got news for ya, blue curtains may look Mexican (I prefer to think of it as a Southwestern palette) to you, but the Styrofoam that's been in the windows as long as I can remember is pure Apache Junction.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Remodeling Mindfuck

I may have told some of you that I was planning on doing some changes to my bedroom- first, new flooring (the stack of what looks like wood in the photo- it's laminate flooring from IKEA), and repainting the room. Actually, I'll paint first, THEN put the floor down (harder to get paint all over the new floor if it's still in the plastic, ya know), but that's just semantics. Anyway, to get to the point of this entry:

What you see here is a closet space that was retrofitted into the room. How do I know it was a retrofit into the existing space? The carpet and floor moulding both go straight under the wall protrusions. I couldn't believe it. The question for me now is, "How the fuck am I going to get the carpet up if I can't pull up on it? At this point, I'm all for knocking those walls back out of the floor plan, and putting in a couple Pax wardrobes from IKEA. It would definitely look nicer, the closet as it stands right now appears to be a shitty rush job.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I feel like Too Much Coffee Man!

Awesome new Cirque du Soleil dance remix compilation plus SoBe Energy equals WEEEEEEEEE!

It's not fun having this much energy when you have a desk job.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Human Embryo Cloning/Human Embryo Cloning

You may have recently heard the news that a British team of scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo. Naturally, a major advance in science such as this is immediately shunned by right-wing wackos everywhere. To these wackos, I have but one question.

When was the last time you had eggs for breakfast?

Speaking of eggs, now would be a good time to mention the recipe I hinted at in an earlier post, eggs fried in bread crumbs. It's quite simple. Start out with three tablespoons of well-packed, slightly stale bread crumbs. Dump the crumbs into a bowl. Measure out 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and pour just enough of it on the crumbs to get them really soaked; set the rest of the olive oil aside, you'll be using it in a moment. Put the crumbs into a pan over medium heat, and cook until they start to sizzle a bit (it will sound like quiet radio static). Shake the pan a bit, stir once or twice if you like. When the crumbs start to get some color, add the rest of the olive oil, and some herbs; whatever you happen to have handy will work great whether fresh or dried, I've been using bouquet garni (a mix of various delicious herbs, you can get some at Penzeys Spices) and enjoying it quite a bit. Crack two eggs directly onto the crumbs, and cook until they're as done as you like, flipping halfway through cooking. If you like your eggs over easy, be sure to save some of the crumbs and sprinkle them on top of the eggs just before flipping. Once the eggs are done, slide them onto a plate, and add 1 teaspoon balsamic, red wine, or sherry vinegar to the skillet. Once it is sizzling furiously (it won't take long), drizzle over the eggs, and serve. It's really good with some great bacon or sausage (and Penzeys offers sausage seasoning too), and maybe a slice of the same bread you used for the crumbs. Oh- almost forgot to mention, using great ingredients is essential to this dish. Even Wonder bread will do in a pinch, but if you use a nice artisanal loaf, some ultra-fresh free range eggs (and what better way to get those than by raising your own chickens?), and home-grown herbs, this dish will be positively transcendent.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Quote of the Day

"We could all just do it at our desks."

--A Coworker

Upcoming Concert

"Pop-Tarts presents American Idols Live"

And vice versa.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Mmmm, great breakfast... Eggs fried in bread crumbs. I'll tell you more about it later

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Tale of Two Banks

Recently, I got a new bank account with Washington Mutual. I have had one with Wells Fargo for ages now, but have come to realize that unless you have 50 million dollars in a corporate account with them, you don't mean jack shit to them and they treat you like it. Washington Mutual, on the other hand, has been treating me almost like I'm somebody famous from the moment I stepped into one of their branches. When you see one of the desk bankers at Wells Fargo, you sign in on a clipboard at the receptionist's desk (where there is never a receptionist, and if there is one, she's too busy to look at you), then wait forever to see an arrogant bozo who seems to have wished for a big prick and became one instead. At Washington Mutual, I was looking at the various pamphlets they had, when someone approached me and asked if I needed help with anything. I told them I was interested in getting a new account; the lady who greeted me invited me to have a seat and asked if I wanted a glass of water. In the more than ten years that I've had a Wells Fargo account, this has NEVER happened. WaMu has gone on to amaze me with nothing less than wonderful service.

Over the last two days, I have received a piece of correspondence from each bank. From Wells Fargo was an email saying that they would help reach my financial goals through sending advertisements to my email. Bullshit. If you haven't been able to help me at all yet, how are emails going to help at all? Then there was the piece from Washington Mutual... a hand-written thank you card, welcoming me to Washington Mutual, and saying that if I needed help with anything, to just call. Ladies and gentlemen, I was truly amazed by this. They totally didn't have to do that, but they did. I have a good feeling that I'll be quite pleased with Washington Mutual.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Bill Gates is optimistic, that's for sure...

“As good as Apple may be, I don’t believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run”
--Bill Gates, at the unveiling of the new version of the XBox console today (or at least very recently)

"640k of memory ought to be enought for anybody."
--Bill Gates, 1981

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


While looking at a picture of the great pyramids in Egypt, I thought of the numerous people out there who have all sorts of odd postulates as to how the timeless monuments were built, including space aliens and time travel, to name but a couple. I have but one thing to say to them:

Just because you're too dumb to figure out how the people did it years ago doesn't mean they were, too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Great Quote

"Those were the days... of not getting much accomplished."

- a co-worker, talking about times when she was stoned

A decade or two ago, this would qualify as Sufficiently Advanced Technology

Yup, that's right, a latte that heats itself up. The drink itself ain't bad either.

Morning Juxtaposition

I saw a couple of Harley-Davidson motorcycles parked outside QuikTrip this morning. Once inside, it was pretty easy to spot who owned them; a couple of burly, handsome guys practically pulled out of Type-Casting for the role of "Yuppie Biker Dude Wanna-Be". Any macho biker-dude aura they had at first sight faded pretty fast when I saw them in the store taking Yoplait yogurt and a bottle of Frappuccino to the register. Is there such thing as manly yogurt? I'm not sure I'd want to find out, it would probably end up with flavors like steak or buffalo wings. Then again, maybe I'm on to the next big marketing craze...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Yay, mobile blog works now!

Dammit, take three... Last message got eaten by the system.

(added later at the computer)
woohoo! It works! can't wait to go out and take lots of pictures, see if that works well too.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity-fuck fuck FUCK fuck.

I weigh more than I ever have in my life. My clothes fit a bit tighter, I don't feel as energetic as I used to, and the thought of it is leaving me in a serious blue funk. The solution itself is simple: Eat less, move more. It's the actual doing it that will be the hard part. I know I can do it; all I need to do now is believe myself more than I do now. I need to leave behind my destructive behavior, including staying with my folks- being that far out in the boondocks, living with overbearing people, is destroying me physically and mentally. If you know me, please help me on this in any way that you can. I'll appreciate it more than you know. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Time Travelers' Convention

As many of you have likely heard by now, there is a time travelers' convention being held somewhere around MIT this weekend. Some may think this is fairly short notice, but hey, since you're inviting time travelers, why not announce it *after* the convention?

And In Other News...

I'll be doing a Looney Labs Mini-Experiment next Saturday, May 14th, at Gamers' Inn in Mesa (northeast corner of Southern and Gilbert, on the second floor near the Jo-Ann fabric store on the north end of the strip mall), from 1 PM until 6 PM. Stop by, play three Looney Labs games, and get a cool prize! How much fun is that?

Thought For The Day

You don't realize how dirty your glasses are until you clean them.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Attention Phoenix Drivers

The little yellow blinking light on the side of an automobile does not mean the driver of said vehicle is requesting you pull up next to them, nor pass them on that side immediately. Thank you.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Stephen Lemons "WTF?" Of The Week

If you've read the Phoenix New Times lately, you may have found that the guy doing the food reviews, Stephen Lemons, does not exactly have a gift for pleasant prose. Indeed, he goes into overzealous metaphor so much that you start to wonder if he's trying to paint a picture with the words, or just assault your senses into total numbness. Here's a doozy from this week's review of a Colombian restaurant, where he waxes overly poetic about a Colombian dessert called brevas con arequipe, candied figs with caramel: "And figs are one of my many gustatory passions, right up there with marzipan, green tea ice cream, and persimmon pudding. I could gobble a freighterload of figs and a volcano full of caramel, for the largest brevas con arequipe ever!"

Clever use of alliteration talking about the figs, but a volcano full of caramel? And that exclamation point worries me; I'm almost expecting him to go into Valley Girl dialect. "It was, like, the largest brevas con arequipe ever! Like, Oh my god!" Another thing I find funny is how he does his best to throw bonus-point words* into his reviews whenever possible, but tosses them about like a junior high school student who just discovered what a thesaurus does.

Then there was last week. Lemons showed his utter ineptitude at food reviewing by going to the freshly re-opened Stockyards restaurant less than a week before they opened. It's one of my many Chowhound Rules of Thumb (and yes, I really should index those... just as soon as I figure out what Rule Number One should be, it has to be something that oversees all the other rules, standing mightily on their shoulders as it looks off into the distance at the setting sun... oy, where the hell did that last part come from?)...

Do Not go to a restaurant within 4-6 weeks of their grand opening.

You see, restaurants are incredibly complex operations. Even a well established restaurant runs at a breakneck pace that feels like it's on the verge of complete, utter chaos. When one just starts up, there are many things that need to be figured out and settled. All of this has to be done while the restaurant is operational; if you don't have actual customers, you won't be able to predict what will happen. As a result, the servers are much less than on the ball, the food takes FOREVER to come out, and may not even be all that good. Going out to a brand new restaurant may be exciting in theory, but when it's all said and done, you really should wait until they get the kinks out. Lemons went exactly against the Rule of Thumb, and then bitched about things like spotty service and dishes that needed tweaking. What the fuck did you expect?

*Bonus point words are known in some circles as five-dollar words. I prefer calling them bonus point words after an acquaintance I was chatting with gave me 50 bonus points for using "dreck" to illustrate a point. I have no idea what these points are good for, but hey, bonus points are bonus points, I'll take 'em!

It Was Thought of at Oregano's

Can you imagine painter Bob Ross announcing golf? People wouldn't take a nap, they'd slip into a coma.

Mobile Thought Number One

OK, I was going to post a stub of this via mobile phone and edit it later, but since it didn't go through as planned, you'll never know that's how it was originally supposed to work. Whew.

One of my favorite local radio stations, The Peak, has been giving away tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld when he blows into town in May. While the winner was being excited, I was trying to figure out what it is that everyone really loves about Jerry Seinfeld. I've seen bits of his stand-up routines through the beginning of episodes of Seinfeld, and find that his material falls apart given two seconds' thought. An excellent example that comes to mind is why bookstores don't let you take a book into the bathroom. It's because they don't want you stuffing it under your shirt while you're in there, dumbass. These short thoughts get drawn out into 22-minute long segments of three people whining about why something is a certain way, and Kramer being his wacky self. It's the same damn thing every time, with the same one-dimensional characters and plot moved along by people who are a perfect example of "There are no stupid questions; only stupid people asking the smartest questions they possibly can."

Thinking about how I'd love to see Seinfeld blasted clean off the airwaves got me thinking about other stand-up comedians that really should have had a sitcom before Jerry did. Then it hit me... Eddie Izzard. Brilliantly funny comedian, and the main concept for the show practically writes itself: British transvestite adapts to life in a small American town. Or maybe a large one. Much better than "Three schmucks whine about daily life while a friend does pratfalls in the background", if you ask me.

That Damn Technology

While I can add to my blog by emailing to a certain address, it turns out that if the message is coming from my mobile phone, Blogger will think that it's a piece of spam and kill it quite impressively. I had good hopes for this, too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I'm Moving A Holiday!

I have decided that I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving on the 25th of November, the day after Thanksgiving proper. Why? Easy, it takes me at least two days to make Thanksgiving dinner, I don't have to call in sick to work. That, and it makes inviting people over a hell of a lot easier since they already did their family Thanksgiving dinner the day before. Now all I need to do is work on perfecting the unbelievably, indescribably delicious Thompson Turkey recipe that I did two years ago. It was one ugly-ass bird, but MAN was it ever tasty.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

On Destiny

Have you ever had the feeling that everyone on this planet is here to accomplish certain things? I'm not talking the big life-purpose stuff, I'm talking the little side tasks. You know, like that person who always brings the chips to a party. I've come to realize that one of my side destinies is to change out rolls of toilet paper. It's weird, the new roll will be sitting there RIGHT NEXT TO the spindle, waiting for someone to take care of it. I rarely have to go find it, all I have to do is toss the old roll, and put the new one on. Do you have any side destinies like this? Give the bells on this jester's cap a ring, I'd love to know.

Currently listening to:
Peter Gabriel, "The Man Who Loved The Earth/The Hand That Sold Shadows", OVO

Friday, April 22, 2005

What The Jester Had For Lunch: AJ's

I was trying to eat a healthier lunch today. Really, I was. The plan was to go to Chipotle and have a vegetarian burrito (filled with their luscious guacamole), but alas I was shanghaied by the delicious aroma of freshly grilled meats coming from the outside grill at AJ's Purveyor of Fine Foods. This, my fellow Chowhounds, is quite possibly the best picnic you'll ever find. Not only do they have burgers and hot dogs, they have Kobe beef hamburgers, and the dogs in AJ's meat department are the best I've ever had. They also have not only grilled chicken sandwiches in THREE different varieties, but you can even get grilled salmon! I went for the Kobe beef burger, laced with cheddar cheese and bacon. Everything about this meal was completely perfect. The burger was one of the juiciest I have ever had, and they used REAL thick cut bacon, cooked up nice and crisp. This is all accentuated by a great burger bun, sturdy enough to stay cohesive but light enough to let the burger and condiments shine through, and wonderfully fresh condiments. On the side were baked beans and macaroni salad, and both of these were exemplary versions; the beans were well-seasoned and tender with hunks of bacon throughout, and the macaroni salad had perfectly chewy pasta married with just enough of the flavorful dressing.

For beverages, there is a wide array of bottled drinks waiting in an ice-filled tub. They will gladly supply you with a cup with real ice cubes should you wish to cool down your drink. The ice cubes were a pleasant surprise- they do quite a bit to enhance the aesthetic of your drink, and they don't water it down nearly as much as the various shapes of ice you find at many other eateries. I had selected a Thomas Kemper grape soda from the refrigerated case at the back of the store, and wish I had picked something else. There just isn't much flavor to this particular potion, and watching the fizz settle is mildly unsettling, as the red coloring slips out of the fizz faster, and the foam turns a swirly electric blue. I'm sure that if you were to partake in *ahem* alternative herbal recreation, you could be entertained for hours with a case of this stuff. They do have a very wide range of beverages both in the tub outside and back at the fridge case, so you'll certainly find something that tickles your fancy.

I will say that my only quibbles about a lunch this spectacular are that parking (at the location I went to on Frank Lloyd Wright and Thompson Peak Parkway) is a nightmare supreme (there were literally three spaces left in the entire parking lot when I got there, and both of them were hiding behind Walgreen's!), and since this is a fancy gourmet lunch at a fancy goumet grocer, it's expensive as hell. My Kobe burger with sides and a drink came to just shy of twelve dollars. Certainly not the kind of place that I can go to every day, but very worthwhile when I have a little extra time and money on my hands. Oh, speaking of money- the outdoor grill only accepts cash. If you have to put it on plastic, you can always go inside to grab your drink, and then get cash back on your debit card. I think that they also let you order and then pay inside at the registers; ask the nice person taking orders at the grill before you get in line if you would like to try it.

Quickie: Bushism on the radio this morning

"...We know that 'Marine' is shorthand for 'can do'..."
--George Bush

And apparently "George Bush" is shorthand for "can't count worth squat."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

On Sports Drinks

Not much of a post, more of a theoretical question that I wouldn't mind somebody answering...

How do the folks that make Gatorade get it to taste so much sweeter after you've worked out? I know that everything does this to some extent (such as how dehydrated sludge that's supposed to be chicken chow mein tastes great if you've been hiking long enough), but Gatorade does it to a scary extent. I had some from a soda fountain after playing a couple hours' worth of Dance Dance Revolution tonight, and it tasted like the pure syrup they use for the mix. In the bottles, it's the same thing, but it tastes more like someone dumped a few packets of NutraSweet without my noticing. Why on earth does Gatorade do this?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

What The Jester Had For Dinner: Elephant Bar, Chandler AZ

The Music I'm Listening To: "Destiny" by Zero 7, selected by LaunchCast (I rated this song 85)

Fabulous decor,
But high prices ruin this
Friday's wanna-be.

Yeah, the synopsis of the restaurant review is in haiku. Be glad I didn't whip out my iambic pentameter. Besides, if I whipped that out I might get arrested. I went out with a friend of mine to the Elephant Bar by Chandler Fashion Centre*. We decided on it by what seems to be one of my typical methods: We got in the car, and drove around largely at random until either something we passed looked tasty, or we thought of something. My friend mentioned Elephant Bar, and since it's been on my try-it list for a while, I figured we might as well go. Upon walking in, we are greeted by what TGI Friday's would have looked like if the creators had just been on an African safari- all kinds of artwork on the walls, ceiling painted with animal prints, and lots of safari artifacts (lots and lots of steamer trunks) placed up high on the walls. This bodes well that they paid attention to what the place looks like. What does not bode well is that the whole decor is extremely busy, with your eye bouncing around from place to place on the walls. Often, the more spectacular the atmosphere in a restaurant (whether it's the interior decorating, a nice view, or beautiful bodies inhabiting the joint), the less ambitious the kitchen gets... but more on that in a moment.

We ordered drinks; my friend got a Mudslide and a mango Tazo iced tea, I selected their signature martini**, the Tropitini, a concoction of the vodka of your choice, piña colada mix, and mango puree. It was reasonably tasty, but weak to the point that I think I paid $6.50 for pineapple juice straight up. My friend's Mudslide was tasty enough, but certainly could have used more ice cream than ice in it. As for the Tazo tea, it was as good as always, but three bucks a bottle? That's how much the much more pretentious Republic of Tea brand goes for anywhere you see it!

The menu itself is much like the decor- so busy that you don't know where to look. A zebra print pattern leads your eye down the menu pages, swaying side to side with a feeling that you're missing half the menu and getting a bit seasick at the same time. Now, with an intensive African safari theme to the restaurant, you may expect to find a menu with influences from Morocco to Egypt, and everything in between. This excellent opportunity is completely missed, as the menu goes for Pacific Rim and Caribbean influences! Ah well, I'm sure the wonks in marketing for the place still have their jobs. My friend got a chicken quesadilla (sans tomatoes), I eventually decided on one of their specials, the Jamaica Mojo Grilled Shrimp Salad. The entrees came out, we dug in, we found the quesadilla to be the same damn thing you get whether you're at TGI Friday's, Applebee's, Chili's, or any of the other casual clone restaurants. How do The Powers That Be ensure such cross-brand homogeneity? The mind boggles. My salad was certainly... interesting. Remember the "interesting" I talked about yesterday? This was the Aunt Boris interesting. The salad was your standard spring mix (can you escape this stuff anymore? Not even five years ago you were lucky if the salad greens were anything but iceberg lettuce, now it's frisee, radicchio, kale, endive, and goodness knows what else!), mixed with dried cranberries and walnuts, tossed in their "sweet and zesty" (the restaurant's words, not mine) Jamaica Mojo dressing. I'm not quite sure how to describe the dressing. I think it consisted of little more than honey and balsamic vinegar, reduced to a syrupy consistency. The ingredients of the salad were all very assertive, needing a careful touch with the dressing to make sure that it doesn't take over the entire salad. Alas, like so many restaurant salads before this one, it was very overdressed and tasted of nothing but the dressing. The shrimp were tasty, but had two very serious presentation problems. For starters, they offered the shrimp on skewers. While it makes for a pretty plate, it makes the shrimp seem less like a salad ingredient, and more like a side order. To make matters worse, the shrimp didn't have the tail end removed. Again, while this does look pretty, it makes it hell to eat. The easiest way to eat tail-on shrimp is by hand; while this works for eating the shrimp on their own, when it's a salad ingredient, it keeps the shrimp separate from the rest of the dish. So, back the dish went to the kitchen, and I ordered the other item I was pondering, the Smokehouse BBQ Chicken Sandwich. This was better, likely because it didn't stray too far into original territory, only being adventurous enough to put onion strings and ham on a de rigueur chicken sandwich. About two thirds of the way through this very generously sized sandwich, I noticed they were playing Eurythmics's "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" on the sound system. Anywhere else, I wouldn't have batted an eyelash. In a place that is quite intensely themed like this, it was like hearing the same song in a fancy restaurant. There are all kinds of music they could have done that would fit the theme better (the CDs from Buddha Bar in Paris come to mind very quickly), but instead went with the DirecTV Party Favorites route. Sigh. At least dessert was excellent... we went down the street to Angel Sweet, home of the best ice cream on the planet.

On the bright side, our server at Elephant Bar, Kara, was wonderful. A bit overenthusiastic at times (I think more and more that this is a requirement to work in a place like this, being on Prozac and caffeine at the same time), but friendly and eager to please. I'd love to go back to see Kara again, but with overpriced, lackluster food like the kitchen sends out, I don't know if I want to go back anytime soon.

*Yes, I know that the official name is Chandler Fashion Center, with "er" at the end instead of "re". I like the idea of something that's the middle of something being the center, and a place where people go to find something being a centre. Since CFC is not the middle of fashion in Chandler, I hereby proclaim it a centre.

**More usage footnotes! Exciting, huh? I'm a serious cocktailian, and have realized there are two different kinds of martinis out there- the Martini with a capital M is gin (or vodka), vermouth (or not, if you prefer extra-dry martinis), stirred over ice (or shaken), served straight up (or on the rocks), with an olive garnish (or lemon twist). Yes, that's a lot of variations. It's just the nature of the beast. The martini with a lower-case m is a modern invention, and more of a category of drinks. These are generally fruit flavored (sour apple is very popular), and always served straight up in the classic Martini glass. Years ago, these were simply known as cocktails (and indeed the older ones such as the Pegu Club Cocktail are still known as such), but martini has taken over, largely due to the cosmopolitan air it provides, while cocktail sounds kind of frumpy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's JesterBlog 3.0!

Hi, welcome to the brand new blog for JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester). I'm a regular poster on, a conoisseur of board games (I currently have about 200 in the collection), and have enough trivia stuck in my head to be considered a major threat at Trivial Pursuit or You Don't Know Jack. Look forward to all kinds of ramblings about events in my life, and the regular feature What The Jester Had For Dinner, where I review restaurants I have been to, and do so with a style that gets you hungry for another posting and whatever it was I was just talking about. Stephen Lemons, eat your heart out. Something else to look forward to is what I'm listening to, a sub-feature from LiveJournal. It's pretty simple, I'll tell you whatever music I'm listening to as I write the blog. Currently, LaunchCast internet radio is playing "Once I Loved" by Astrud Gilberto. I gave it a 52 on the 0-100 scale, where 100 is "WOW!", 70 is "Hey, that song's really neat", 50 is "Yeah, I like it. Nothing special though.", 30 is "Enh, it was OK, I guess..." and 0 is "Computer, if you play that song again I'm coming after you with a baseball bat."