Monday, December 29, 2008

Niman Ranch St. Louis Style-Pork Ribs

Pre-cooked AND St. Louis-style? This can't be good.

Niman Ranch St. Louis Style-Pork Ribs

These were a Christmas present. Meat as a Christmas present? Yes, my wife is that incredibly awesome. She transcends all ideas of swellness, of amazingingness. She's also a vegetarian.

That latter part is where the problem started. Vegetarians love things marinating in plastic bags at the health food store. My lovely wife went to a Trader Joe's and saw pork ribs marinating in a plastic bag, and thought of me. A great idea. Tofu is good pre-cooked and marinating in a bag, seitan, and every other vegetarian thing is good marinated in bags. Ribs must be good this way too. She brought them home and hid them.

I found them early, there's only so many places you can hide something in a refrigerator and my wife cleverly went for "in plain sight". When I went hunting for food, I would look right past the ribs. They were label down and looked like a pack of flavored tofu, sort of. Anyways, they were out in front of everything else so I couldn't possibly want them. The delectable treats are half-rotted in the back, waiting for my blind hand to come grasping after them, King Kong style. I pull out moldy grapes, they scream just like Fae Ray.

Is that how you spell Fae Ray? My spell check doesn't think so, but my spell check also fails to alert me when I write "fro" instead of "for".

But I found the ribs by chance, my eyeballs racked focus and I noticed them. Hurrah for me, spoiling Xmas.

The original plan had been for me to have them for Xmas dinner, that changed when we picked up two last minute house guests. I bought a big ham instead, and it was incredible. Heavenly. But that's another story. A happy story.

My wife kept pressuring me to make the ribs, both before and after Xmas, emphasizing that my food hoarding is an exceptionally bad idea and that the ribs will spoil on Jan 30th and 12:01 AM. Today, the 28th, she throws them in the oven as I'm on my way home.

She followed my instructions about how to put the ribs on balled up bits of tin foil, so one side didn't turn to meat slush. She followed the cooking directions for the conventional oven, right there on the package. I get home right as the time is up, I take a taste and they are disgusting.

If God had made Eve out of ribs like these,
Adam would've stuck to pornography.

There is a fundamental lie about "St. Louis-style" barbecued meat, and that is that I don't think there really is such a thing. I'm from St. Louis and ate barbecue with voracious abandon, there were a million different kinds of basted and grilled meat in the city. They were all barbecue, there really wasn't a unifying theme. I mean, there was VINEGAR and KETCHUP barbecue places within miles of each other, if that doesn't speak of an unacceptable level of bbq integration in the city, I don't know what is.

So the Niman Ranch ribs came sealed in a bag, soaking in "St. Louis-style" BBQ sauce. This is a disgusting barbecue sauce, thin and weak and not like anything I had ever eaten in St Louis except maybe a McRib. And the embarrassing thing is that I kind of liked McRibs. This was a foul, non-sauce, not worth covering any meat in, and I did not like it one bit.

I had a bite, it was inedible. Almost inedible. I swallowed it. Of course, I've swallowed rocks and plastic, so maybe I CAN call it inedible. It went in me, though I fought it, and it'll come out of me, and I'll probably have to fight it then too. Call that what you wish. Either way, the test bites were awful.

That steer on the label is so delicious someone ate its eye.

It was a bad situation, the ribs had to be salvaged. I had some Bull's Eye Brown Sugar and Hickory barbecue sauce handy, not as good as Olde Cape Cod, but still pretty high on the store bought sauce list. I basted the ribs, flipped them, let 'em cook, flipped and rebasted. Let 'em cook. A test bite (I mistyped "test" as "teste" on my first pass, how awesome is that? A teste bite.) and I could still taste the disgusting sauce that the ribs came in.

Another baste, then a run in the broiler to candify the sauce. It came out delicious, with only a hint of the foulness hidden within. Now I could tuck into the ribs themselves...

...which heightened the disappointment. The few test bites I'd had were a hint of what I got with the proper meal: grey, bland, greasy meat. It was fall-apart in the way a hamburger falls apart, not the way actual intact meat should. It split with any casual poke of the fork, needing little help from the knife, and the splits were any old random way, not along the grain of the meat.


These ribs leaked, too. The grey meat wept a clear, yellowish fluid. It pooled in the pan and filled my bowl as I ate. My suspicion is that the ribs were "injected" with some sort of marinade/saline solution. They were that weird and liquidy. This is only conjecture, nowhere on the label does it say that the ribs were treated in any way except for the BBQ sauce soaking.

The BBQ sauce, by the way, has a name - "Mad Will's BBQ Sauce". "Mad Will's" sounds like a discount, urban oriented lawyer service. It also sounds like a nickname for someone who is crazy and therefore shouldn't be allowed to prepare food. William is mad, therefore we should keep him out of the kitchen. We are probably lucky we got off with the stomach churning we got from his sauce, he could have chosen to poison us. I wonder how he prepares food without access to a knife?

So imagine a McRib taste on a public school cafeteria hamburger and you have Niman Ranch ribs as I had them in my kitchen this day, December 28, 2008. I've cooked a enough ribs in my time that I knew I could salvaged these with a coating of candied barbecue sauce. This particular trick can make anything delicious, up to and including the tinfoil that catches the drippings. My delicious band-aid worked, but there was still a jellied scab underneath, and I couldn't forget that. I could see it in the ugly grey meat and taste it in the ugly grey taste.

In fact, the only reason I trooped on through and ate the ribs was because they were from Trader Joe's and therefore very expensive. And that, my friends is some fucked up reasoning.

Bob: Tim, don't eat that sandwich. It's arsenic flavored with real arsenic.

Tim: You mean it's all natural?

Bob: No, I mean you'll die if you eat it.

Tim: Can I trade it for another sandwich which (Pause for laugh at "sandwich which") won't kill me?

Bob: No, the poison sandwich store is closed till Monday.

Tim: I paid eight dollars for this sandwich. I can't throw it away. Do you want it?

Bob: No.

Tim: Well, I guess I have to eat it then. (Tim dies.)

That's why I need a royal taster. Not to detect poison unknown, but to eat poisoned items that I wouldn't be able to bear to let go to waste.

A telling note though, "Niman Ranch" might not be a ranch at all. The package says "Produced especially for and distributed by: Niman Ranch..." That tells me that Niman Ranch is most likely just a label invented to sound all natural. It might be all natural, but it still smacks of a level of corporate fake that I don't approve of.

This whole thing sucks start to finish. The label on the ribs boasts that Niman Ranch is all about things I approve of: No antibiotics ever, no hormones, all vegetarian feed, humanely raised on environmentally sustainable farms... These are all good things. I approve and I want to eat things with these characteristics, but not if they taste like crap. And especially if they don't HAVE to taste like crap.

C'mon folks, shame on me for having a wife who bought pre-cooked ribs soaked in sauce, shame on you for putting out such a crap product geared toward fooling loving wives.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Old Colony Uva

Lots of enticingly clad girls in roller skates,
and I photograph a stupid soda.

Old Colony UVA

Okay, what the hell is "UVA"? Context makes me guess that it means "grape" or "soda" in Spanish. But if it's Spanish, then why do we have a guy in a tricorn hat on the label? That's old timey English/American colonies crap. I prefer to think of it as an acronym for something science fictiony. The word "Colony" in a sci-fi context always sets my innards to an excited quivering. The worst possible things you can imagine happen on space colonies. The WORST.

Old Colony UVA is not the worst. It's actually pretty good. More popsicle than soda I think, though it is on the foamy end of the carbonation scale. I'd like to know exactly how all these different sorts of carbonation work. You have hard, burning carbonation and foamy, expanding carbonation, and probably a few other kinds but they elude me at the moment. Anyways, this is foamy carbonation, something of which I am normally not a fan.

I don't hold it against O.C.U.V.A., in fact, it helps it out. Somehow makes it sweeter. Refreshing. Nothing nasty about nuthin' in there.

I drank the stuff at a roller derby match. The NYC teams were playing against two visiting teams, one from Canada and the other from I don't know where. I had unknowingly worn the Canadian teams colors, pink and green, and must have seemed a long time fan what with my determined under-dog cheering. One of the Canadians even pointed at me and waved. Anyways, thats why you can see derby stuff in the background, though nothing exciting. (I finally broke down and called my derby pal who told me that the Canadian team was "The New Skids on the Block" from Montreal, a particularly offensive and silly name. They had a lime green and pink flash dance thing, which was sort of funny, though. The Canadians lost after a strong start.)

Drinking something at a derby match doesn't add much to the drink, but it did mean I was with my pal Dino. Dino thought the UVA tasted like Big League Chew, which is not unreasonable. Big League Chew was a favorite gum of mine as a kid, though I preferred the regular pink flavor.

Anyways, the UVA drink isn't as cool as it sounds but it isn't bad at all. Especially for a Dr. Pepper/7up product.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cool Tommy's Ginger Ale

The arrow to nowhere.

Knowing it's gonna suck makes it easier.

Cool Tommy's makes a fizzy attempt to escape out my nose.

Cool Tommy's Ginger Ale
Light Rock Beverages, Danbury, CT

Cool Tommy's is mostly carbonation with a touch of flavor and a whole lot of numb. Yes, numb. My first big swig and I could hardly feel my mouth. As I was writing this I emitted a low garbled noise, just to make sure I still could make sound.

Think about eating Pixie Sticks or whatever other granulated sugar you ate as a kid, then taking a drink of soda immediately afterwards. You had that expanding gas thing go off in your mouth as the carbonation met with the granular crap and had a foam party. That's what every drink of Cool Tommy's Ginger Ale tastes like, a foamy party in your mouth. But a sort of boring party where you walk in and no one is particularly friendly, and the people you came to see aren't there.

Fuck that, you say, I think I'll leave. But you can't, as you still have a 20 oz of the "Big 24 oz" to finish. Blech. "24 ox of Thirst Quenching Coolness!!" is the second most important thing on the bottle label, right after the "Cool Tommy's" text with the funny bendy Adobe Illustrator arrow behind it. An double-sided arrow which points at nothing on one end and maybe the bar code with the other.

The bar code is probably the highlight of this design package, I think.

As with all cool things marketed at children, "Cool Tommy's Ginger Ale" appears to come in a regular version and a "battle damage" version. If a Tie Fighter is extra cool bearing the scars of conflict, that clearly applies to beverages as well. A handful of white rub marks travel vertically through the label, the edges of which are peeling and torn. A few random sticky spots testify to friends that didn't make it, exploded en route to the store.

I pour some out in memory of all the "homies" that didn't make it. There, now I'm down to 16 oz of Refreshing Coolness.

Easily the best thing about Cool Tommy's is the price. Fifty cents. Yep, that's right. I didn't think anything in NYC cost fifty cents except air for my bike tires. Fifty cents, that's incredible. How can a deli afford to keep something so cheap on the shelves? One would think that the shelf space itself costs more than fifty cents. When the guy told me the two Cool Tommy bottles I bought were a dollar, I thought I misheard him. It would have been an easy mistake, as a crazy guy in a leg cast was sitting inside the door yelling at everyone, it was hard to focus. Anyway, fifty cents. I didn't even get taxed, which means it was actually something like .465 dollars.

Now with that in mind, that this stuff cost half a dollar, I'm going to say that it isn't that bad. It's probably on par with Schweppes ginger ale, the most common stuff out there. It's a hell of a lot of better than some of the fancy schmancy wannabees I've tried. Especially by the smell, it smells great, much better than it tastes.

It also gets points for making me burp up my White Castles from earlier. Good job, Cool Tommy, good job, but points off for that cheap ginger ale heart burn.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tymbark Apple-Mint Drink

Horror or not horror?

Not horror? Crom be praised.

Tymbark, a surprisingly not disgusting apple-mint drink.

Tymbark Apple-Mint Drink

This tiny bottle contains a surprisingly drinkable pseudo-juice. It's awfully syrupy for an apple juice, but I'm not complaining.

It's a cold and tastes clean, but there is something wrong with it. Something missing. The normal bite of apple juice isn't there, I guess. It's just too watery. The mint is pretty subtle, but so is the apple taste so it all evens out to bland water. Yep, it's just cold water with a little bit of appley-mint.

But that's the trick, it mostly tastes like water but it's still syrupy. Syrupy water, that's a good trick. Nicely done.

Looking at the ingredients list there is nothing to indicate any sort of thickener. The actual list is pretty commendable aside from possible corn syrup:

water, apple juice from concentrate (25%), sugar (D), and or glucose/fructose corn syrup (G), acidity regulator (citric acid), natural mint aroma. D,G - depending on the used ingredients.

So maybe the corn syrup thickens it up. That'd make sense. The "D or G" thing is pretty interesting, it makes reading the ingredients into a choose your own adventure. Choose G, flip to page 34 and get diabetes.

And what is "natural mint aroma"? It sure heck tastes like mint, so it's not just aroma. In fact, it tastes more like mint than it smells. Perhaps the crafty Poles are learning the art of misdirection? "No, no, no. I got it. We tell them it smells like mint when it actually tastes like mint, that'll confuse them, eh?" Without a Polish Pope to keep 'em in line, no telling what hijinks they'll get up to.

Of course, I think a German Pope would be better at keeping them under control. Eh? Get it? Eh?

I've always been a fan of the Polish over-sized juice boxes. This is basically the same thing, just in a tiny bottle with a cool pull off cap and a lot more wateriness in it.

Randomly placed stickers are always welcome.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tizer and Club Diet

Tizer and Club Diet, a two for one review

Tizer tastes like fermented lime juice. Fermented lime juice which someone thought too weak, so they added beer. That is what Tizer tastes like, and nothing else.

I had this stuff at the Chip Shop, a British style restaurant in Bay Ridge. I'm a big Chip Shop fan, and state with confidence that this is one of the worst things they've ever served me. The Chip Shop menu stated something along the lines of Tizer being a "chemically loaded and flavored soda", yet when the crap arrived at the table the can boasts no artificial "colours", "flavours", or "sweetenours".

Of course, the can also claims "Great taste", so I don't know where to stop believing. If you can't trust socialists, this world has indeed become a dark and awful place.

Now, I've heard some confusing things about Tizer and have trouble confirming or denying what is or isn't truth. I don't, as I've often stated, do any research. This is a little extra confusing, as I don't seem to have a photograph for this Tizer, which I feel was yellowish. (Oh wait, there it is. At the end of the article.) The confusion is that there is something called "Tizer Red" which they no longer make, but I managed to acquire a can of. I think I tried the new Tizer, whatever that may be. Orange. Whatever, it sucked and I'm sure I'll get botulism from the outdated cane of Tizer Red. When I drink it. Which isn't now.

Club Diet, on the other hand, was worse. I thought this was a British made soft drink when I bought it. Instead I learn that the Irish really DO hate the British in ways I can't even begin to imagine.

With my first sip I had to flap my arms like a penguin to shake off the horror. It's terrible, terrible stuff.

I feverishly typed out notes on my stupid iPhone, which claims I wrote down "Need more inbreyigayion." I don't know what that means at all. Information? Carbonation? Or was I temporarily possessed by a Great Race of Yith? I dunno. I do think that this might be the gibberish I would write if I thought my hands were claws.

Club Diet Orange is flat and foul. It has bits of what I presume are orange in it. I mean orange the fruit, not orange the color, though the bits are that too. It also has a lot of "diet" in it, which is always awful.

When I drink a British soft drink, or a soft drink the British have claimed as their own, I expect quality. I expect the sort of drink that King Arthur would give to his trashy wife, or that Robin Hood would give to cottagers. Britain is a land of moustached men smoking in gentleman's clubs, and not the kind of "gentleman's clubs" we have here in the US. It's class all the way. But this crap, is this some sort of World War II hold-out, like that awful yeast paste?

Two dirty "hoes" looking to "party".

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chersi Tarragon Flavored Carbonated Beverage

Possibly distilled in Cherynobl.

Please note that this is Premium Tarragon Flavored Carbonated Beverage.

Everyone was shocked at the color,
they thought the bottle was bright green and had merely created
the illusion of the drink inside being really, really cool looking.

Cole, spit it out in horror? No?
Your nipples tell a different story.

L.J., you're all blurry like you're about to spit it out in horror. No? No?

Well, I guess it's safe...

Chersi Tarragon Flavored Carbonated Beverage

I cracked this open at my last Call of Cthulhu night. Or just before the night began. Everybody laughed at the ridiculous color, comparing it to a cleaning product or mouth wash. Not that mouth wash isn't a cleaning product.

It smelled and tasted like an unsweet cream soda, a watery cream soda with a touch of weeds in it. Beside the highway weeds, I mean. Really watery, really weak. Maybe it's a "trainer" soda that the Russians use to get their kids ready for all that other awful Russian crap.

But mostly it was boring. The tarragon taste wasn't tarragon, just a hint of something chemical/weedish. My gracious host LJ dug out some actual dried tarragon, which didn't taste anything like the Russian soda. Blah. For something that green and that not-American, I was expecting everybody to be rolling on the floor screaming after just one taste. I was expecting fish flavor mixed with urine.

I was disappointed. The hideous kvass I brought to an earlier game set a pretty high bar for foul. Next time, Russia. Next time.

Okay, I cheated:

I looked up the Chersi company to see if they were Russian, Georgian, or what. I didn't want to be fundamentally wrong about where the crap came from. Lo and behold, Chersi is based out of Oceanside, New York. Go figure. It's basically a Russian import company that might import some of the more bizarre flavors and rebrand them. It's unclear. They definitely make some of their more mundane sodas here in the US.

The tarragon in the Tarragon Flavored Carbonated Beverage is listed as coming from "Isreal". That gives conflicting messages. That they made a point of saying the tarragon is from Israel makes me think that this is a Jewish oriented company. But they misspelled Israel, so...

I dunno. All I can say is that I am shocked at the number of American companies that half-masquerade as companies from abroad. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm just sayin'.

These are these crazy Eastern European gelatin things.
They are super sugary, each layer is an obvious flavor
but with a creamy layer dividing it. Weird, weird stuff.

I'd like to dedicate this blog to the memory of Clyde Stennis, without whom I would not be here to write this and most likely you would not be here to read it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The You're All Great, But Some Are Greater Than Others Awards

So I use a mixture of Google Analytics and Mixmap to track traffic on my blog. Google Analytics is good at not working well, and at telling me what links people clicked to get here. Always fun to know. But Mixmap, Mixmap tells me where you folks live, and that's fun. It resolves down to neighborhoods, not to specific houses, so don't get scared.

It also lets me tag people, lets say I think this IP is my pal Polly because Polly said "I looked at your blog at 5:35 EST, it sucked then and it sucked when I looked at it again at 7:37." I can find the hits that landed at that time which are near where Polly lives and label that IP: "Polly is a jerk." Of course, only I get to see these labels and this information.

But today I'd like to take a moment and acknowledge the most active clickers, the folks who have looked at my website more than anyone else in whatever that default amount of time is that Mixmap keeps track of things (I think it's two weeks). Some of you I know, some of you I don't, so here goes:

7th most active reader: Anonymous from Oakland, CA (is that you bkh and co.?)
6th: Some sucker from Bristol, UK (is this a certain archaeologist I know?)
5th: Paula from St. Peters, Missouri who only discovered my blog about four days ago. That's a lot of clicking there, Paula.
4th: Anonymous from Le Francois, Martinique. Really? Martinique? Don't you have topless beaches to go to?
3rd: Someone from Show Low, Arizona. No doubt plotting my doom.
2nd: D.S. who hates the DS, from Brooklyn, New York.
and the most visitingest guy of all:
1st: K.L. from St. Louis, Missouri. K., I'll buy you a Vitmo next time I see you.

But that's not all. A freakishly busy region gets an honorable mention:

Port Richey, Florida, come on down. I get about a zillion hits from around Port Richey every day, but seldom from the same IP. Is some crazed hobo travelling the library circuit, visiting my blog at each in turn? I'll never know.

Thank you all very much. Tell your friends.

You all get ice cream.

Vanilla Cream Slurpee

You'd think I could've taken
a more interesting photo in an art studio.

Vanilla Cream Slurpee

One of the most basic lessons every American learns is to taste a little bit of the fountain beverage before you commit to it and fill your cup. There are plenty of reasons to do this; the best reason is to avoid filling your cups with a drink whose mix is off, usually with too little syrup. In the Midwest, I would sometimes find a business substituting one cola product for another, the fountain serving King Kola instead of Coke, for instance. Very wicked, and something to be watched out for.

Of course, I say every American learns this, but I really mean they SHOULD learn it. How many times have I watched some asshole fill their cup all the way and then empty it out for no discernible reason and fill it with something else? I confess, my friends, that it isn't even always because the drink was inferior - it was just because they wanted something else. Because their taste changed half way though the filling process.

I hate waste, and I hate when I'm put in a situation where I have to be wasteful. Like today. I stopped in at a 7-11 on the way to my studio, to pick up a drink. I knew I wanted to get something without caffeine, but I also knew I wanted a slurpee. The non-coke slurpees are pretty foul, as a rule, so I fretted about this my entire ride in.

At the 7-11 Slurpee dispenser I spotted a new flavor, Vanilla Cream. Following the common sense actions described above, I tried a little bit in the bottom of my recycled cup. It tasted all right. Full of hope, I fill my cup 4/5s full with vanilla cream and the last bit with Coke Slurpee.

The vanilla cream was the color of old semen, but tasted good nonetheless. At first. By the time I sit down in my studio, I am dancing on the edge of a bellyache. It's awful. The stuff is so sweet and creamy and cloying that I feel as if I might vomit. And it's the only thing I have to drink unless I feel like walking a block to the water tap in the restroom.

Bah. I kid you not that I have to walk a block to the restroom. Hold your arm out at full length, pinch your fingers down to about half an inch apart from one another. Now that's the door you have to walk to in order to use the toilet. Doesn't that suck?

But, seriously, this crap tastes like a vanilla scented candle was used to burn down a Sweettart factory. It's awful. And the taste is so overpowering that I can't just skim the coke off the top, I'll probably have to take my reusable cup out and shoot it.

Those clumpy white bits are the vanilla
showing through the Coke. Yuck.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blue Sky Black Cherry Cherish

The can looks like it's wrapped in some kind
of pre-EU currency from a European micro-republic.

Notice that my Aryan Nation haircut is finally growing out.

And then, Oh no! Shanked in the belly.

Blue Sky Black Cherry Cherish

This stuff hearkens back to the bad times I had with the "sour cherry" Greek drink and Polish cherry syrup. It's sour, almost bitter, and has an odd chemical taste. It has a bunch of strange flavors hidden inside of it, none of them very good. This foul host is followed by a phalanx of after taste calculated to clean up any survivors. Fear it.

A few drinks in, I figure out what I was tasting: The closest thing I've tasted to this are inflatable vinyl toys. Yep. The kind you have to blow up yourself because you don't have an airhose. I wonder if I drink this for a half an hour if it'll make me woozy, too.

I'll go ahead and confess that the last time I tasted that inflatable vinyl taste was inflating a blow up sex doll for a friends bachelor party. We made him crawl through giant tube full of dead squid, pornography, a spiky durian, and said blow up doll, all the while filling the tube with icy water. It was great. That blow up doll was disturbing, it had these pull-tab "hymen" things blocking all of its orifices. And the face was a photograph of a real person, a porn star I presume. That part was as creepy as fuck.

Anyways, this Blue Sky Black Cherry Cherish crap is vicious. Every sip tastes like something different, and usually something foul. It tastes like a Bosch painting, I think, with something evil and unique at every turn.

Ok, this stuff is pretty awful. I'm going to commit some ice cream to it and try and see if can be made into a float...

Looks innocent enough, but so does an eye dropper full of e. coli.
The actual stuff was more of a brown color,
the photo doesn't do it justice.

My stomach churns just looking at the photo.

First off, the color revolted me when I poured the soda into a glass. The only thing "cherry" that should be that color is my daughters hymen. When she's sick. There comes a time when artificial coloring is a great idea, certain things need it. Cherry soda for certain, margarine being another example. I was reading a book recently about rationing during WWII, they mentioned that certain items became more expensive both cash and ration points-wise after they were aesthetically treated for consumer sale. Margarine was their example, quadrupling in price if you bought it with yellow coloring already added. The savvy shopper bought the yellow coloring and the au naturale margarine separately for big savings.

That margarine has to be colored is pretty gross. I mean, I knew it was artificially colored but I assumed that was part of what made margarine into margarine - just like you can't add granular sugar to Coca Cola. This breaks the whole raw and cooked process.

Anyways, I made the float and my first sip, I shit you not, tasted like the big jar of creamed herring I have the refrigerator. A big jar, by the way, that I have to throw out soon as I suspect it's going bad. Turns out my creamed herring eyes were bigger than my creamed herring stomach, not that I didn't try my hardest. The stuff just keeps puffing up, though, I'd eat a bunch and the next time I opened it the jar was almost full. Magic, like the renewing coin poor whatsisname has at the end of Mazes and Monsters.

That taste went away after that first sip, as did the horror show of morphing flavors I got when drinking it straight. The vanilla ice cream mellowed it out. It's still not good but it is certainly drinkable. The smell has taken an exceedingly interesting turn, smelling like my grandparents old house a few hours after they'd cooked bacon. Imagine that with a hint of sour cherries, and that's the smell.

You know, rereading the above makes me wonder if I had a stroke while drinking this.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Uludag Gazoz

"Uludag Gazoz" sounds like the name of a monster
in the Fiend Folio, a copy of which you can
barely see in the middle left.
Silly Fiend Folio monsters. Only a few were any good,
like the githyanki. The other day I was looking
at a web page for the band "Mindflayer" and they had
something on it about how "githyanki intestines are our costumes".
Ah, the githyanki/mindflayer rivalry, did that make it
into the 3rd and 4th edition?

Uludag Gazoz
MOVE: 3"
% IN LAIR: 90%
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Save vs Poison or nausea for 2d4 rounds
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Save vs Spells or confusion for 1d6 rounds
ALIGNMENT: Neutral Evil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil


Gack, glub...Oh yeah, that bubblegum/champagne
whatever yuckiness. Wasn't really expecting that.

Uludag Gazoz
Produced by Erbak-Uludag of Bursa-Turkey for Sama Foods of London

Another utterly generic champagne/raspberry/bubble-gum soda. Smells better than the average, tastes a little better too, not that this doesn't mean it tastes like crap. It isn't crazy tasting, not as strong a flavor as these things usually kick out. Ehh... Boring. I guess I'll be able to finish this one, which is a point in its favor. It's not too foul.

The label identifies it as 'Fruits Flavoured "Fizzy" Soft Drink'. I like that it has a mix of English English, "Flavoured", and not-good English, "Fruits". Not much else to like, though.

Boring taste. And has nothing to do with Thanksgiving.

The real treat of this soda is the mystery of how it got here. I mean after the "momma and poppa soda fall in love" part. It was made in Turkey for a company in London. So the stuff goes to London. It hangs out there for a few years, gets tired of the scene and somehow makes its way across the sea to New York. Probably by raft. A short while in NYC finds its dreams shattered, and the can winds up in a Middle-Eastern deli in Bay Ridge.

How awesome is that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goya Coconut Soda

That's a disconcerting picture
once you take in the background.

Free yellow jaundice in every bottle.

That's the look when the coyote runs off the cliff
and he looks at the camera,
sharing the realization of his
impending demise with the audience.

Goya Coconut Soda

I didn't really want to write up a new soda tonight, but it was either that or watching "Desperate Housewives" with my wife. She insisted I watch it after I'd subjected her to half of a Futurama movie earlier in the day. The two things aren't exactly equal, when she watches "my" television programs she has her laptop to fiddle with, I do not any such luxurious distraction. I sit and keep my eyes on the screen, not wanting to hurt an actor's feelings by letting my attention wander.

In a moment of inspiration, I gave my wife a choice between my watching her television program or my drinking a soda. Her hatred of my soda shelf far outstrips her desire to spend time with me, so here I am with a Goya Coconut Soda.

It tastes a little like suntan lotion, tasty suntan lotion. When I say "tastes a little bit", the emphasis is on the little. There's hardly any taste here at all, it's all just cold and sweet. A little syrupy, too. Goya Coconut Soda has the consistency and carbonation and faint vanilla tinge of a cream soda, but coconuty. And again, it's very very slight.

The barest trace of taste is not a bad thing, in this case. I'm not a big coconut fan, so much more and it would have registered too strongly. I like that it tastes like I'm drinking 7-Up out of the cooler that held my leaky sunscreen. It's a good thing, tastes like a beach without the dead fish and loud radios.

There's a fizzy end to the taste that kind of feels like drinking a sparkling water, that flat carbonation taste that dries off your tongue after a sip. Goya Coconut Soda has that, but its competing with a bit of waxiness.

What the hell is that waxy feeling that some sodas leave in the mouth? I think I've been encountering it mostly in fruit sodas. Is a coconut a fruit or a nut? Either way, I fear this waxy aftertaste - no good can come of it. Oh wait, it's obvious where that taste comes from: They make this stuff out of wax fruit. Duh.

Here's some more of that crazy Goya dithering.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Boylan's Natural Cane Cola

All brown and boring looking.

Boylan's Natural Cane Cola

After the unpleasantness of Boylan's Ginger Ale, I was braced for the worst and that was for the best. The Cane Cola is pretty unremarkable, but by not being as bad as I'd expected it cleverly creates the illusion of it being better than it is. Again, it's an illusion so "attempt to disbelieve".

The smell is like a clean parody of your average cola, like the cola flavored Bottlecaps candy. The taste is alot like King Cola, a watery King Cola. It's not bad, just not that great. Pretty boring, pretty bland. I wouldn't cross the street to buy a bottle of the stuff, though I might do so to pick a discarded bottle up and recycle it.

Cause that's the kind of guy I am. Classy all the way.

What else... It comes in a glass bottle. Glass is made from sand, or at least it used to be. My glasses get scratched by sand, that's part of the reason I avoid the beach... Maybe instead of padding this with useless words I'll just tighten the margins and increase the font size, that always worked in school.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Blue Sky Jamaican Ginger Ale

Deer poop is natural too, and probably tastes better.

Blue Sky Jamaican Ginger Ale

Blue Sky used to make an orange drink that tasted like liquid baby aspirin. To be clear, this is a good thing. A friend of mine would sell it to me at a discount or give it to me for free, letting me guzzle it by the case. When I left the Midwest I went without Blue Sky for a long time, and when I found the orange flavor again it had changed into something else. That was very sad.

My feelings about the Blue Sky have darkened once again. My wife brings out a "research" can of Blue Sky Jamaican Ginger Ale from the kitchen and begins to drink it with dinner. This is a new ploy in our ongoing war over a refrigerator a quarter full of soft drinks, a new way to "disappear" a can of soda. Playing it cool, I ask her to save a few drinks for me at the end, then I take a swig to give it a try. It's awful. I wish I'd let her have it. Not only do I wish I'd never bought the crap, it makes me wish I'd never had a refrigerator.*

Yeah, awful. It has that awful burned tang of honey, though supposedly none is inside. It boasts "real sugar" on the ingredients list, and natural ginger flavor. The ginger taste is way off, I've drank enough ginger beer to start a distillery in my stomach and none of it tasted like this. It doesn't have the cardboard foulness, but it does have a bitter burn competing for my attention with the honey tang and some vague chemical flavor. The whole mess sits in the back of the throat like the "before" image in a Prilosec commercial.

This is pretty unpleasant stuff, real sugar or no. Not much to do with ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger soda, ginger any damn thing. Best just to walk by the Blue Sky aisle without making eye contact and not make a scene, there are healthier things in the health food store that won't make you as unhappy.

*I wrote this article up a while ago, when I reread it I found this asterisk where you see it now. I have NO idea why I put an asterisk there. Maybe I was going to say "No, I really am glad I have a refrigerator, it keeps my food fresh."**

**For the record, I've always been bothered by the word "refrigerator" and the abbreviated form "fridge". Why does a letter get added to the abbreviated form? I can think of no other informal condensation of a word where an entirely unrelated letter is thrown in. I mean, it's obvious why you need a "d" in "fridge" - otherwise you'd have "frige" which is a French word which means 'scaring young children with malicious intent'. What I really want is for that "d" to migrate backwards into the word "refridgerator". But my spellcheck says no.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


So I've been a little busy lately, so I'll just fake a review:

Ooh, yuck! It's a funny color. Lookit that label. It has corn syrup in it, I don't like that. My wife is yelling at me. And here's a picture with a funny caption (imagine a picture here, with a sort of funny caption).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Columbiana Kola Flavored Soda

Columbiana Kola Flavored Soda, Brooklyn Bottling, New York

My great uncle Reinhardt had
a bunch of medals like that from WWII.

Colombiana Kola Flavored Soda is a lie. There is nothing Kola flavored about this, it's that meringue flavor, that generic Hispanic mixture of bubble gum and raspberry or whatever it is. What does Kola mean in Spanish? Does it mean "blatant deception" or "meringue"?

Is that how you spell "meringue" flavor? Is that right? I think I've also seen this atrocious flavor called "champagne", but that is usually in the North American versions. An awful flavor you find in the discount soda section, made by a company you've never heard of. A company that hates New Year's Eve and tried to spoil it by selling liquid noxiousness disguised as champagne.

The lies don't stop with the flavor, the distributor, too, is full of misdirection. "Imported and Distributed by Brooklyn Bottling of Milton, NY". Yeah, shooting for that Brooklyn street cred, eh? Well Milton is a long way from NYC, my friends, and I ain't buying it. That they have a Brooklyn phone number only compounds the lie.

Now I have to admit, the stuff isn't as bad as it could be. Maybe if you liked this flavor of soda you could dig Columbiana. It's sweet and not too chemical tasting, a little watery. Really carbonated, and leaves a heartburn feeling in the back of my throat. A few quick, consecutive drinks leaves me with a waxy coating on my tongue which quickly dissolves away.

Interestingly enough, the bottle is returnable in eleven states, usually it's only a couple. That's pretty neat.

I get up at the crack of dawn to drink soda for you fools.

That, my friends, is a Grade A flinch.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Perfect Water and imperfect ribs at the street fair

I don't see "snake oil" anywhere on the ingredients list.

The perfect Perfect Water stand, first stop on our day at the street fair.

I think the man is showing me where the water comes out.
Does that give it calcium?

My wife and I wandered by the local street fair and, lo and behold, a healthy new beverage was being offered. A high oxygen bottled water, scientifically designed to put pep back in your step and make your stiffy less whiffy. I've always been a fan of water, namely because my body is almost ten percent water - concentrated in the knees.

A kind gentleman offered to PROVE to me that his water could improve me physically with just one tiny cupful, in less than a minute. He also told me that a hospital was doing studies about how great Perfect water is because it helped CANCER patients by making their chemotherapy less bothersome. That's incredible! I plan to have cancer one day and asked for more information. Unfortunately, the gentleman couldn't remember which hospital was doing the study, I guess this magic water doesn't help the memory so much, eh? He told me that the manufacturer has used SCIENCE to insert extra oxygen into the water molecule. Exciting stuff, that science - kids love it.

My wife had made plans for us to meet some folks at a movie, so I wasn't allowed to linger long over this liquid marvel. However, I did take the three step test which PROVES that this magic water immediately improves your body.

Test 1, right when I get gut kicked by a karate little person.

Test 1: The guy moved me off to one side of his tent, undoubtedly afraid it could be toppled during the vigorous physical demonstrations to come. He asked me to touch my toes, which I did. If I may say so, for a doughy guy I'm pretty flexible. I did this once. I could've done it more, but he didn't ask me to.

Test 2, I'm sure my face is that way because
I was photographed in the middle of saying something witty.

Test 2: I am told to flex my waist. I got excited as I was confused by the homonym, but no, I am made to stick out my arms and pivot my waist to see how far I can reach one arm behind me.

Test 3: This is the big one, what he called the "tip" test. The guy cozies up next to me, makes a fist with his arm straight down and has me hook my hand underneath his. At first I thought we were about to do another homonym, but instead he "tips" me by pushing down on his arm. He pushes his arm down, pushing my hand down, which makes me rock over toward him a bit where he leans up against me so I won't fall. He sits me back up and they hand me a tiny cup of water.

As we will come to see, this man is a master of the dark art of illusion. Illllllusion (wave both hands in the air in front of listener). So let's stop and guess what he's going to try to prove from these tests. 1... 2... 3... No, don't answer out loud, just think it over. I knew what was coming when he asked me to touch my toes just once.

The water. The magic. "The Ultimate Fluid to Empower Your Body and Mind". Perfect Empowered Drinking Water. I am given some in a little blue cup, it has no smell. They all laugh when I smell it. I drink it, it tastes like distilled water. Because I am too ignorant to feel my new super powers flow through me, the man now will complete his test and prove I'm now a better person.

Test 1a: I am told to touch my toes again. Knowing full well the trick, I refuse to touch any further than where I touched before. Everybody in the world knows that you don't have your full flexibility till you limber up a bit. It stands to reason that I will be slightly more flexible on the second stretch than the first. When I stall out at the same place, the guy tells me to stretch further and see if I can touch the ground - he didn't do that the first time. During Test 1 he told me to touch the tips of my sneakers and stop there.

Test 2a, that woman behind me works for the
Perfect Water people.She's telling me that
I turned further this time than last,
if you look at the photo for Test 2 you'll see
that she's not even behind me.
For shame.

Test 2a: To test their scientific rigor, I twist to the right instead of the left this time. They don't correct me, thus invalidating their carefully constructed control situation. That, and see Test 1a. The woman standing behind me cheers that I twisted much further than before, even though I pointedly did not, and she hadn't been there the first time to see.

Test 3a, I'm ashamed to even look.

Test 3a: This is where, we slip across that tricky line from silly to fraud. I strike the fist in hand pose and the guy pushes down again, tilting me slightly toward him, but THIS TIME I DON'T TIP! It's absolutely the most unnatural thing I've ever encountered, positively eerie. I mean I DIDN'T TIP OVER, but of course that wasn't the eerie part. I didn't tip over because the man was standing much closer this time and leaned against me with his shoulder so I wouldn't move any further than he wanted me to. What was so unnatural was this grey haired old fellow being so deceitful, perpetrating a fraudulent scientific test worthy of a snake oil salesman. Oh wait, I've been having grey haired old men tell me lies my entire life. Maybe that's why I didn't react with surprise and anger.

It was kind of neat to be there first hand for something so sneaky, to be told a bald-faced lie in person instead of through the television. To personally witness a "scam". I was wondering what would follow, but all they said they wanted was my email address which no one proceeded to take. Did they detect the savvy look in my eye, or were the two old ladies behind me better targets? Do they try to sell oil shares to the more gullible? I've been wanting to pick up a bridge.

Because the folks working this booth were so shady, I am going to pointedly say that everything I'm writing and have written is MY OPINION. I'm not going to assert as a fact that these people actually lie, cheat, or seek to defraud by misleading trickery but that is merely my interpretation of their actions. I'm not going to say that anyone so sleazy as to pull stunts like this would probably try to sue for supposed defamation, provided they were willing to show their snakey heads in a courtroom.

Houdini style, I will invite them to present these tests again, under controlled circumstances. I will bring a few people in rented lab coats to make up facts to oppose their made-up tests. I would love to see FACTS which can be drawn out from that wonderful "tip" test.

Folks, water is good for you. It's true. I'd suggest you drink it in almost any form or flavor outside of "sea". The Perfect water test is a poorly thought out deception, and if it wasn't old people administering it I'd've told them so loudly. Of course, if they were strapping young men I wouldn't have told them off, either. The water doesn't instill courage.

Fortunately, I was wearing my disguise that day - dopey fake beard, false glasses with novelty nose attached, and a derbie masquerading as a cap. Next time I see a street fair I'll find them and take the test again, then ask the sort of quick-cutting questions one expects of a blog like this. The most important being: What is test 3 actually trying to prove? Wha? It's so odd as to refute any sort of logical sequence that could lead one to wondering anything about it.

So this is a fair and there are many folks wanting to separate you from your money here, I won't focus in one just this one shyster but skip along to the important bit. More food. After wending our way through obnoxiously loud DJ booths and bad cover bands, past carpet sales booths and so, so many sausage stands, I bought a portion of ribs and a sweet tea.

I put the little black bar on there
to protect the identity of that awful sweet tea.

I asserted earlier that great sweet tea was had from bbq restaurants. I'll stick to that by insisting that a stand is not a restaurant. The tea I bought was watery powder mix, with a lemon in it. Not great sweet tea. Not at all. In fact, it was barely drinkable.

The ribs, however, were very good for what was there. Not very meaty for their size or price, the bulk of the piece I was given was that nightmare of bones that all the ribs attach to. That mess that looks like half an alien face hugger after you pick that meat off. Not enough meat, but the glazing and the bits were good. Really good. NOT as good as my home-made over ribs, which is saying a lot as these actually came out of a real smoker.

There were only about four bites this big in the whole cut.

I will assure you that after eating these ribs, no old fellow selling snake oil could tip me over easily. My center of gravity had found a new low, not to mention I was still full of ribs from the time before. Does Perfect Water have fiber in it? I could sure use some of that.

When I mentioned Olde Cape Cod BBQ sauce before,
I lefte the "e" offe of Olde. Howe thoughtlesse.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bahamas VIII: Mrs French's AK-100 Vanilla Corn Drink

Who the Hell Goes to the Bahamas? Eighth and Final Installment

Before the Ring of Comprehend Languages...

...and after.

If I could strike that hand from my body, I would.

My eyes tell it all.

I don't know if this photo is of me trying to not vomit
right after the first drink,
or nerving myself up for a second drink. Either way I look hilariously unhappy.

Mrs French's AK-100 Vanilla Corn Drink
Acassan de la Senora French AK-100 de Mme French
by French's Drinks

If I was being generous, I would say that Mrs. French's AK-100 Vanilla Corn Drink tasted like burned chocolate. That's what I would say to get you assholes to drink it, so I could see your faces and then laugh. Instead, I'm going to tell you the truth. It tastes like sucking the cock off a rotten corpse, and I mean OFF, not on. Like you suck on it till the whole skin casing breaks loose and slides into your throat, bringing most of the insides with it. It dissolves into a mess of rancid fat and decaying veins leavened in congealed blood, smearing through your mouth like Vaseline.

You spit it out but it's too late, your tongue has had a stroke and you've defecated in your pants. You can never forget the horror of it and the taste will live with you for the rest of your days.

I thought about writing this up like a Lovecraft "found narrative" parody, but Lovecraft deals in cosmic horror, this is visceral. This is like sucking puss out of the drainage tubes where your dog got stitches.

This drink is very, very bad and I do not know why it exists in this world. It truly makes me wonder if we do, indeed, live in Hell and this is a drink devised for the exceptionally bad sinners out there. It is made in France, so does that make them angels or devils? Either way, I am now officially shifting over to the Freedom Fries "bomb the French back to the Stone Age" brigade. Truthfully, I think Stone Age is a little extreme, I'll settle for Pre-Corn Drink Age.

But wait, that was trying to be funny and there is nothing funny about this. I'm writing about utter and complete wrongness, and will try to be truthful and specific not matter how hard it is. I will begin at the beginning.

We were in the Bahamian air port waiting area, waiting to fly home. Having gone through several layers of security, I felt safe. I saw the can of Corn Drink sitting in a refrigerator and bought it. Hurrah!, I think, a new drink to try. What an idiot.

We sit down with our steam tray breakfast and I eat a bit, give the can a good shake up and pop it open. I take a swig, spazz out in some sort of primitive urge to defend myself, then spit the Corn Drink out on my tray. Struggling not to vomit, I snatch up an orange juice container and try to kill the taste. Sadly, the only thing that could kill the taste was a knife and mine was in the check-in baggage.

After a bit of eating, I try it again and force myself to choke it down. It was as bad as the first time and I regretted my sense of fairness.

The plane ride home was spent trying not to think of the stuff, or else I'd've vomited.

The taste is hard to describe. Like I said earlier, a charitable soul would say burned chocolate. A soul that charitable would also forgive my spit roasting their child. The taste is almost forgotten, and I am not going to try to bring that back - instead I'll leave it at that.

The texture though, the consistency... That was what nearly killed me on the first go round, it's thick thick thick and slimy, more like drinking liquid fat than anything wholesome. You know what, as for the taste, go back to paragraph one. There's no truth or goodness left in the world, and no words that can explain what the fuck this is supposed to be.

Once, long ago, I drank out of a container of Gatorade that had sat too long in the refrigerator. It was full of these beautiful colonies of mold, floating globes at least an inch and a half across. I sucked one or two down before I knew what was happening, it was pretty awful in consistency, but not a tenth as bad as this.

I'm getting sick at the memory of it. While writing up my Bahamas notes I've been eating a delicious banana pudding from Sugar Sweet Sunshine, an incredible NYC bakery. The best cupcakes I've ever eaten, puts Magnolias in the dirt. But I can't eat any more of their corn pudding... Look, I just wrote "corn" when I meant "banana." I can't eat any more of the banana pudding now or I will, I swear to God, barf.

You win, Vanilla Corn Drink. You are utterly and completely vile, and you win.

I wish I could fake faces like that, I'd never
pay for another restaurant meal again