Friday, June 12, 2009

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

I get those stupid plastic pillows
from Amazon and keep them to reuse, but they suck to
store as they are just little balloons which take up
a lot of space en masse. Keep forever, though.

Maine Root Sarsaparilla
Maine Root Sarsaparilla smells like a mixture of lake water and SweetTarts, being from Missouri I like this. Really. It smells like a good summer's day spent menacing fish from the safety of a flat bottomed boat. Taste-wise it ain't so hot, though.

It has a great aftertaste, a bit like minty discount toothpaste. The initial flavor though, ugh. Somewhere between freezer burned vanilla ice cream and cardboard. You only get a flash of sarsaparilla about two seconds into a taste, then it yanks off it's Halloween mask revealing itself as root beer.

Yeah, this is a pretty bad flavor right out of the gate. Too foamy, too, right when it's opened but much better after it sits for about fifteen minutes. The foaminess early on covers some of the nastiness, but it really is better flatter.

Maine Root is puzzling in the big picture. It's part of a wave of designer soft drinks waving the flag of environmentalism and responsible social activism, which rocks. These are great things. What baffles me is that I bought this at Duane Reade in a fancy 4-pack. Why are these hoity toity drinks being carried by a big pharmacy chain? Is this part of the movement that put fancy coffee and fresh made sandwiches in 7-11s? It's puzzling.

The thing is that I don't trust it. Maine Root sells itself like it's a small label, but it must have a pretty significant factory output to fill all the Duane Reade's and everything else in the world. It says right on the label that it's a handcrafted beverage, but how? It's that sort of fake down-homeiness that puts my guard up.

I mean, yeah, it's awesome that it has certified organic fairtrade sweeteners and spices. That's hard to beat, but it feels... disingenuous. And it doesn't taste good, which is a bummer.

By the way, I used to work in Maine during the summers and have no idea how this relates to Maine at all. It doesn't taste a bit like the state.

I dub thee, Sir Buck the Cat, defender of the true faith
and upholder of my right to look at internet
pornography when my wife isn't around.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sweet Leaf Cherry Limeade

Diluted with my wife's spittle.

Sweet Leaf Cherry Limeade

Who would ever have thought that Sweet Leaf tea and etc products could prove so vexing? Not I, or else I would never have embarked on such a hopeless venture. At every turn I am faced with insurmountable obstacles, threatened by unfathomable forces, and generally menaced. I find my capers cut short and my spirit leadened by the hopelessness of my Sweet Leaf quest. I shall endeavor to explain:

After a long travail, I finally acquired a bottle of the Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea, only to have it consumed by a vengeful wife fueled by spite. She, no doubt, converted the organic cane sugar in the drink into further evil plots designed to thwart my life's ambitions. A kindly angel from the Sweet Leaf company sent me a packet hoping to rectify the situation. It contained some stickers, some postcards, some coupons, and a business card.

The business card was unusable as it didn't have my name on it, but the coupons proved useful. Very useful. They rode around in my bag until I found stores carrying the Sweet Leaf brand beverages, few and far between I found them, too. I would trade one coupon for one drink, and never had a coupon refused.

Mind you, this is New York City. I've never had a manufacturer's coupon accepted EVER until now. I travelled all over town trying to pass a trash bag coupon and had it universally reviled. Sweet Leaf has pull in this town, and it's a rush of power to be attached to them, even if in such a small way.

Excited through and through by my easy acquisition of the drink, I sampled a Sweet Leaf Black Tea, or maybe it was Earl Grey?, and wrote a review. The review was long, insightful, amusing. No man could have found fault with it, the only woman who could have done so would be my wife. If she had ever had a chance to see it.

Which she did not, for fickle fate flung me far afield from chosen path. That review which I labored over, which I loved, was lost. How? I have no idea. After writing a review I set it aside for a little while, then come back after I've forgotten most of it. I reread it, fix all the spelling errors, remove the accidental curse words, and post it on this blog. This time, however, I couldn't find the review anywhere. Between the initial writing and the second examination it had completely and utterly disappeared. Not even Apple-F could uncover it.

What I now call the Sweet Leaf Curse had struck again. Clearly the puffy cheeked goblinoid on the bottle label was set on my complete and total dissatisfaction.

Still reeling from the hurt of my great loss, I stagger into the living room only to find my semen-thief of a wife glugging her way through one of my cached bottles of sacred Sweet Leaf - a bottle of "Cherry Limeade". Having not been detected due to her haste to deprive me of my sole ambition, I laid her low with a hearty swing of a stout chair. Her skull was so damnably thick I knew the stunning effect of my blow would be short lived, I spirited away the paltry remainder of the Cherry Limeade bottle and concealed it in the refrigerator. Then I hid on the top shelf of our hall closet until after her rage abated and her loss forgotten.

Now, weeks later, I slip to my computer with the precious bottle concealed in the pocket of my cargo shorts. Door closed and braced with a table, I pop open the cap of this nearly lost treasure...

A slightly odd aroma. Something like a public swimming pool full of watermelon juice in use by anthropomorphic lemons from the trailer park side of town. I can't stop smelling it, though, finding in it the forbidden pleasure I might find in sniffing a finger rubbed in nether regions on a hot summer day.

The taste is baffling. The tart aftertaste of lemonade from a cardboard container is all I can remember after the first swig left me totally overwhelmed. I might have blacked out for just a moment. I brace for the second taste, refusing to let it overwhelm my reason - having met it on its own terms and asserted my dominance, I find the taste pleasant. I have its respect now, we can speak together as equals.

Another pull on the bottle reveals myself the victor. Now the Cherry Limeade is working for me, doing what it can to bring me pleasure in the humble manner of bottled beverages. The organic cane sugar is deployed in a manner bereft of the sarcastic grinning so common in other natural drinks, it's an earnest handshake with a friendly smile. The cherry lurks in the background, in the shadows but ready to step forward to help the limeade should it show any sign of difficulty. The "other natural flavors", no doubt, are contributing as well, but most likely as a support role. Maybe caterers.

Inexplicably, when I took that second drink I had a vivid mental image flash through my mind of the place my mother took me to buy my Cub Scout uniform as a child. It was a private home in a run down neighborhood, the garage of the house was densely hung with used Scout uniforms. I can only imagine the pit out back was just as crowded with the naked bodies of the previous owners.

A final toss of the head and the bottle is empty, my day brighter and the world more colorful. I've made a friend this day, and look forward to meeting them again under a more auspicious star. The rest of this enlightening evening will be spent following my treasure map to the concealed sugar maple grove where I buried my bottle of Sweet Tea Original Lemonade. This will be spirited back to the apartment and concealed in a location proof against my wife's crafty fingers and keen nose, and saved for another day.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jones Berry Lemonade

Jones Berry Lemonade

There's one of those fancy metal
water flasks in the background. See? I'm hip.

I knew this stuff was trouble the minute me wife took off the cap. A thick roiling blue cloud of berry/bubblegum/champagn horror billowed out and flowed knee deep around the living room, I half expected to see some stupid blue Disney djinni appear. My first wish would've been that I hadn't let my wife buy the Jones Pure Cane Berry Lemonade Soda. The second wish would be for the paradox to go away.

This is a real loser. It's like an American soda tried to imitate the cheap Central American champagne sodas. It did it just about perfectly, which means they copied the "suck" part just as well. Bah. It's slightly lemonadey, which tempers the horrible champagne berry crap. It also helps to take a drink, recoil in horror, put the cap back on and let it sit overnight. Drinking some more the next day you'll find that foamy foam foam aspect of the drink has calmed down.

It's sweet and potent, filling my mouth with a skim coat of sugar scum that makes my teeth vibrate and my gums go numb. I'm wondering if this some side effect of the diabolical "inverted cane sugar". This "inverted" sugar is that same stuff that gave St. Peter all his martyr cavities. (Is it St. Peter? I think he was the guy who was crucified on an upside down cross, right?)

All my complaining aside, the stuff is bearable after it airs out. The berry perfume drops off and the lemonade is allowed to come through. The ingredients are all pretty good, you know things are comparatively healthy when "Natural Flavors" shows up fourth on the list.

I'm embarrassed to say that this is my first Jones drink that I can remember. They aren't terribly common, and are usually sold in four packs, not the sort of thing I buy - I'm a low commitment kind of guy. A few years ago they had that Thanksgiving stunt, where they made sodas that were turkey flavored and the like, sadly I didn't get to try any of those.

So overall, I dunno. I think this is probably a crap flavor from a pretty good company. It's certainly a better "champagne" than most, and certainly healthier. The best part, though, is that it's something I can hold over my wife for a few days, "Honey, I let me pick what we watch on the television because that soda you bought was total crap."

Note: I did the tasting about ago, two full bottles still sit in the refrigerator, waiting for some sucker guest to come and drink them.

Note note: It's been three months and I think there are still two bottles in the refrigerator.

Note note note: Four months, still two bottles in there. That's a horribly long lag between writing and posting this article.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A-Treat Big Blue

The bottle wears a hall monitor sash.

A-Treat Big Blue Soda

My pal Dino bought this for me. It's from Pennsylvania and is a fond or hated reminder of his childhoood. I can't remember which as it was many months ago that he donated it to The Cause. I finally cracked it open to entertain some house guests, one of whom said that he liked to drink anything that's blue. I opened this stuff up and tried to trick him into taking a berry Jones Soda home which he conveniently forgot. We each had a taste of the A-Treat Big Blue and...

I was shocked.

A-Treat Big Blue is heaven. It's a carbonated, not frozen version of the blue part of the bomb pop. Now I've had people tell me that the blue part of a bomb pop is raspberry, but I've always disagreed. It's far to lemonadey to be something as awful as raspberry. It's its own flavor, unique and wholesome, proudly bearing upon it's head a shining torque crafted from pure delight.

Seriously, folks. A-Treat is great.

I'm a little nervous about the ingredients list. It says it's sweetened with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. That speaks to me of something that might be uneven in its sweetness, perfection in one bottle and a horror in the next. Being that this is probably the only bottle that I'll ever have, I guess I can't really complain though I can grow incredibly sad. No more A-Treat breaks my heart.

It's absolutely true that I have not had A-Treat Big Blue at it's Big Blue Best. I think I was given this at Thanksgiving, which means it sat in my room unrefrigerated for six months before I sampled it. Who knows how long it sat in whatever Pennsylvania market Dino bought it in. There was blue sludge in the bottom of the bottle, a sure sign of it being past it's prime. Then I opened it, shared, capped and put it back in the fridge for two weeks before finishing it off to write the article. What I'm having now is pretty flat, and that sucks.

But... it's still really good. Really good. Certainly reason enough to move to Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ground Ork

I assume that's a Warhammer 40K ork.
Hope it's not a cheap gretchin substitute.

Ground Ork

I would like to take this time not to address the amusing misprint on ground pork package, but instead to write about orcs. Briefly and in a poorly realized manner.

Orcs are many things to many people. With the coming of the Lord of the Ring films, they became one specific thing to many more people, and that was my greatest fault with the LotR trilogy. The orcs sucked. They sorely suffered from guy-in-a-mask-on-Star-Trek syndrome.

You want orcs? You want scary fucking orcs that'll make you wet your pants? Rankin and Bass orcs, that's where you go. They're abso-fucking-lutely the most unhuman, evil looking orcs you'll see in moving pictures. They are twisted, stubby limbed, shifty eyed walking mouths full of hatred and teeth, not a guy with a fake vampire fangs and some black face paint. I mean, fuck!, at one point an orc is about to bite off Frodo's head! The live action orcs cannot begin to compare to the animated versions, it's not even a fair comparison.

And as long as I'm here, I'll say the Rankin and Bass dwarves were dwarfier, the elves elfier in the case of wood elves and more majestic in the case of the not-wood elves. The hobbits are more charming, and the trolls about a zillion times more interesting. Hands down.

The Lord of the Ring movies were entertaining, but I honestly believe that the Rankin and Bass films were better at capturing a J.R.R.T. feeling and I could only imagine how much more fantastic they could have been given a gabillion dollars like the Hollywood blockbuster which has, sadly, redefined on-screen fantasy. The Lord of the Ring books weren't about backflips and overdone fighting, and that's about all the LotR live action films were - action films with backflips and incredibly long fight scenes.

So, yeah. All you folks who think the live action version was better can go to hell, and not MY hell as you are completely and utterly foreign to me and I don't want you hanging around for eternity. And those of you who babble on about the greatness of the LotR story and never read the books, and I've met you, can come over here and lick this cat shit stain off my desk as I can't imagine any other possible use I might have for you - unless I was to take a core sample of your stomach fat, mold it into a vagina, microwave it up to body temperature and use it to pleasure myself. That you would let me do that sickens me.