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