May 28, 2009

In which chocolate, chocolate, caramel, chocolate and cookies are "good for you"

Being lactose intolerant, it makes all the sense in the world that one of the Twitter feeds I follow is that of Baskin-Robbins.

Perhaps it's to test my will power. For example, since starting to follow BR's tweets, I have successfully avoided going to my nearby BR31 despite my deep passion for BR Rocky Road ice cream. I even managed to stay away during last month's 31 cent scoop promotion (which, as I write this, is still being promoted on the company's home page despite the fact that it was held - in case you missed it earlier in this sentence - last month).

A few minutes ago, those crazy ice cream-making geniuses actually posted this* on Twitter: Try our new Brownie a la Mode w/ layers of chocolate brownie, chewy cookie, & caramel. Good for you & your friends!

Which seems accurate. Except maybe for the, uh, second sentence. So I retweeted part of the message with a quick commentary:

I'm not saying it was necessarily in response to my tweet, but 14 minutes later - I counted - BR had deleted the original tweet and posted this version, deleting the "good for you" and replacing it with "big enough for you":

My guess is that in order to keep the promo within Twitter's 140-character limit, the writer translated "enough servings for a party of five" to "good for you." Here's the nutrition info** - you can decide for yourself whether the two are synonymous.

SFTC: Looking out for your saturated fat intake, one post at a time.

* It's possible that I'm off by a character or two - they may have had "and" instead of "&" in order to stay within the 140 chracter limit, and I couldn't access the original message once they deleted it. But the "Good for you & your friends" language is precisely what was in the original tweet.

** Worth reading, if only because this confirms that - I am not making this up - the dessert does not contain crustaceans.

May 27, 2009

Extra pleasure formula

(I wonder what ads Google will pop up here when its magic scanner thingies read today's headline. And now, on with the show.)

My next blog post after this one will be Number 300, and I was thinking about using my 299th entry to announce some kind of big celebratory SFTC contest in which you, the reader, would have the chance to win fabulous gifts and prizes, but that's as far as it got.

Instead, I want to tell you about a new mathematical equation I'm working on. It's going to be a formula that will calculate the likely amount of enjoyment that can be derived from any given dining or entertainment activity.

I'm using variables such as amount of time waiting in line (let's call it Tw), amount of time enjoying the food or activity in question (Ta), impact of weather on the wait time (W)*, cost of the activity ($), and something that I'm calling the X factor (strangely, this will be represented in the formula as Z), which is really just going to be a way for me to fudge the equation if necessary in order to come up with the result I want.

Now, I haven't actually gotten around to plugging in various numbers to see if it will make any sense**, but in my head, the formula looks something like this:

(Tw - Ta) * W
__________ + (3.14 - Z) = ENJOYMENT FACTOR

What brings up this sudden dive into advanced mathematics, you ask? The answer: two activities from the past weekend that ranked at opposite ends of the enjoyment scale - and the realization that I waited in line for 35 minutes to do one of them and for no minutes to do the other.

The activity that was worth a wait of more than half an hour? Eating a pair of $2 tacos. You read me right, mamacita: Tacos.

But not just any $2 tacos. These were a Korean short rib taco and a spicy pork taco, hot off the grill from one of the Kogi barbecue trucks. If you live in L.A., you've probably heard about Kogi, which has two vehicles that stop all around town for three hours at a time (you can follow them on a twitter feed), serving up the aforementioned tacos, plus burritos and other specialities like Kobe beef hot dogs. Oh, and if you don't live in L.A., this actually might be a reason to move here.

Waits at the trucks' late-night stops outside of bars have been rumored to be an hour long or more, but based on what I ate Sunday, those line-waiting drunks are actually making very good decisions.

Unlike, say, the people behind Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which I also, um, experienced this weekend. (Oh, just to tie this back to my Enjoyment formula - no waiting in the ticket line, but 115 minutes of waiting in my seat for it to be over.)

If you haven't heard, the film stars Matthew McConaughey, which I mention only because my favorite movie reviewer, The Regular Guy on WXRT, accurately described his performance this way: He's "the man who has the whitest teeth in the world - my god, they're blinding!"

It wasn't just that GGP is horrifically, abominably awful - which it is. It's how a movie that is nominally a chick flick could be so misogynistic. (All of the "comedy" comes from McConaughey's character learning to use women and his ensuing misadventures - oh and Lacey Chabert's bride-to-be character acting like an insane shrew.) It's like it's a film for women who love men who hate women.

There's something about that formula that doesn't work.

* A long wait could actually work as a positive factor, if it's sunny and 70, which it pretty much always is where I live. I swear I'm not rubbing it in.
** Of course it will make sense.

May 26, 2009

Sold! And why Tuesday is the new Monday

I'm just starting to read up on new Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, but if our old pal Mitt (Schlag) Romney is against her, I feel like my decision is probably made.

I'm sure thrilled that today is the beginning of a four-day work week, but Tuesday is still off to a sucky start because (listed in chronological order of when I read and/or tasted them, not in order of importance)...

1) I read that former Wilco member Jay Bennett died this weekend. Bennett was an influential part of the band when it recorded the albums that are by far my two favorite, Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. 

Although I think all of Wilco's music has been interesting since Bennett was fired, it's not nearly as much fun anymore - an assertion that I think is strongly supported by the band's latest, Wilco (the album), which is online now and being released soon. In an NPR music blog, one reader referred to Wilco's recent music as "dad rock," which, sadly, I had to agree with. But someone once told me never to speak ill of a recently deceased multi-instrumentalist's former bandmates, so I'll leave it there. Point is, Bennett helped create some of the songs that became my favorites during the past 10 years, and it's sad that he's gone. R.I.P., Jay Bennett.

2) I cracked open my Trader Joe's Essential Greens Veggie smoothie? juice? residue-in-a-bottle? for some healthy, mid-morning refreshment and - I probably should have figured this out from the photos of cucumber, kale, spinach, parsley and probably fungus on the packaging, but - blecccccchhhhhhhhh. Maybe it's considered healthy because it's crushing my will to eat or drink anything else today. 

I think it's ironic that where the expiration date is printed on the bottle, instead of "Use by" or "Drink by," this item has "Enjoy by May 29." I don't think so. I don't think there's a date by which I will enjoy this.

3) The California Supreme Court missed a really big chance to do the right thing when the justices voted not to overturn the unfair state law created by Prop 8. Other states have figured out this issue. Can not figure out why it's so tricky in this state, which was once considered to be progressive. On the plus side, more protest marches coming up, I'm sure.

Still, I'm determined to finish this veggie drink. Maybe if I add some sugar, things will start to turn around.

May 21, 2009

Mouse memorial

The Internet sure does let people get news out quickly.

Which is why you have to be impressed that the L.A. Times was able to report today that Wayne Allwine, the actor who was the most recent voice of Mickey Mouse died ... three days ago. I'm not saying I really needed to know about this on Monday, the day Mr. Allwine left us, but it does seem kind of strange that the paper of record in Los Angeles took so long to bring us the story, considering he lived, worked, and died here, and that the Mouse is sort of an institution.

I'm going to guess that most of the newspaper's remaining entertainment "reporters" have been tied up making sure they had up-to-the-nanosecond blog coverage of more important stuff like Idol (OMG! What an upset!) and DWTS (OMG! That's all I can think of!).

Anyway, if you're into this kind of thing, one interesting note about Allwine was that he had been married since 1991 to Russi Taylor, the woman who voiced Minnie Mouse. How sweet, right? And, if you're really into this kind of thing, here's video of the couple being interviewed about how they got the gigs.

Unfortunately, I really don't have any interesting Mickey-related stories for you. But - hey, here's an idea - feel free to share your own in the comments space below. Or add yourself as a follower over there in the right sidebar. Mickey would want you to.

May 19, 2009


I'm not really sure why it's necessary, but boating has a language all its own.

So, as I'm sure you all know, the sides of a vessel are not front, back, left and right, but bow, stern, port and starboard. As if there's a need to use some super-secret code for the highly sensitive information that denotes which part of the boat you're talking about. Call me crazy, but maybe if sailors used plain English, they'd have an easier time warding off those pirate attacks.

I mention this because this weekend on the 405, we drove by a small truck that was towing a fishing boat. And, you know how every boat has its names painted on the back ... er, sorry ... stern? Seems like boaters usually pick women's names (Andrea Gail, anyone?), weather phenomena (Hurricane, maybe) or cliches that were probably lifted from Jimmy Buffet songs (say, Life's a Beach).

Well, this boat on the 405 had a name that didn't quite fit into any of those categories, and frankly, I couldn't figure out why someone would paint this on the rear of their ship. Unless it was one of those nautical code words I just don't understand. But there it was in big, black, bold script: Priapism.

May 17, 2009

Shaken, not stirred

I'm writing this because there's a good chance* my East Coast peeps will be awake before me tomorrow and there's also a good chance that while I'm still asleep with my cell phone off, one or more of those peeps will see news reports about an earthquake in Los Angeles. And they will wonder whether it did enough damage to prevent me from - at long last - adding something interesting or amusing to this blog.

On the contrary, mon frere: After a long blogging dry spell, the damn thing might have been just the tonic I needed to get me to swing back into action. (To the extent that typing messages that 10 people will ever read qualifies as "action.")

So, just to get the Q&A out of the way: Yep, I felt the quake. The floor shook for what felt like three or four seconds - enough time for me to remember that I should probably get underneath the desk I'm sitting in front of, but not enough time for me to actually do it. It was strong enough to freak me out a little bit, but not serious enough to rattle dishes or knock stuff off of walls. As of right now, it's being reported as a 5.0, which makes it the second biggest one I've felt so far.

Oh, also the U.S. Geological Survey web site says it took place about five miles from where I'm sitting.

Which I really don't like that much.

Anyway, how about a map? Here's how it looked on the USGS site shortly after the shaking was done:

I think the red makes it look a little more dramatic than it actually was - the colors just correspond to how recently the quake took place, though. It's the (huge!) size of the box that shows the relative strength of the quake compared with other recent ones in our area.

And now that I look at the map: Good lord, there have been a lot of earthquakes around here lately.

This is also a good excuse to tell you a short but touching** story about my family. When I first told my parents that I was planning to move to California and how happy I was about it, I knew they would share my excitement. Indeed, the first words out of my mother's mouth were these: "They have earthquakes there."

* a 100 percent chance, to be exact
** or whatever the opposite of touching is

May 13, 2009


I don't think I'm breaking SFTC Blog Rule No. 1, which dictates that I will not write about the office - or maybe I am, but it's a slow week, I need material, and also, who follows those dumb rules anyway? - to share with you one of my personal workplace pet peeves:

I have to meet with a colleague about some super-exciting project, so I email to ask her what time she's free. Colleague writes that any time between 11:30 and 12:30 would be good. "OK," I respond. "Call me at 11:30." Colleague writes back: "OK. I'm going to be running back to the office from a 10:30 meeting so I might be a few minutes late."

Right. If you're going to be a few minutes late, then 11:30 actually isn't a good time for the meeting, smarty.

Pick another time - one when you are actually available. Because it's not my job to sit and wait while you walk back to your office. But thanks for playing.


May 8, 2009

Subpar for the course

Looking for more negative economic indicators? OK, good.

Today's announcement that they're canceling* this year's Skins Game - an annual televised event in which four already-rich professional golfers win tens of thousands of dollars for each hole they win - seems like a particularly bad sign.

Nobody I know is going to lose any sleep over one less golf event on TV. But whether it's because sponsors are too broke to cough up the prize money or the golf people feel it would be in bad taste to make a spectacle of people winning an amount roughly equal to a bazillion times the average annual U.S. salary for hitting a ball in a hole - or both - it feels like a very Depression-era kind of move.

So, uh, enjoy your weekend!

Oh, just one other thing. Have you read about The Oprah "giving away" KFC chicken or some such craziness? (I'm not adding to the hype by posting a link.) This is probably going to be really lame, but I'm high on Tabasco sauce so I'm just going to say it...

It strikes me that it's too bad she didn't time her KFC endorsement to coincide with that Oprah Book Club recommendation a few years ago. They could have had a promotion called A Million Little Pieces of James Frey Chicken.

Thank you, thank you. Don't forget to tip your servers.

* Note to PGA: "Postponed" plus "no makeup date" equals "canceled."

May 7, 2009

Octopus is still the new black

If you've been paying attention, you know that SFTC has proclaimed this the Decade of the Octopus. Those crazy coleoids are getting all the headlines lately.

It's clear that people are taking my proclamation to heart. Now comes further evidence in the form of a new restaurant here in L.A. that takes its name from the suddenly very trendy eight-armed creature.

SFTC: The source you can rely on for the latest in octopus news.

Three strikes

1. Damn it.

2. Damn it.

And, just to drive home the point:

3. Damn it.

Although, on the plus side, my beautiful wife should be happy because this could mean that one of her two favorite Dodgers, the speedy Juan Pierre, will get some more playing time. So that's good.

To cheer myself up, I'm just going to think about one of my favorite baseball-related quotes from Cheers. It's from the first episode of Kirstie Alley's first season. Rebecca has just taken over the bar and is upset about something Sam has done to try to get his job back. She decides she'll give him one more chance.

Or, as she puts it: "It's the bottom of the ninth. There are two outs. You have two strikes. And no balls."

May 6, 2009


The abstinence movement sure picked the right spokesmom this time, didn't it?

When Bristol Palin says that abstinence is the "best path for teens" to prevent pregnancy (as the New York Times put it), is that kind of like me saying that not regularly eating pizza and not watching SportsCenter every day is the "best path for thirtysomething men" to keep from getting ridiculously out of shape?

Also, I like how her publicist told reporters that young Bristol wouldn't answer any "personal questions" hours after two national TV appearances in which she said she wished she had waited to have sex.

Gonna wash that flu right out of my hands

I'm sure this has been covered elsewhere, but everyone* is clamoring for SFTC updates on swine flu, so I wanted to share the following thoughts:

First, with all of the talk of quarantines and school closings and everything else, it seems like we're supposed to be scared shitless of this unprecedented pandemic. But the experts keep telling us that the way to prevent this horrible, deadly disease is by washing our hands? That makes me a lot less worried: If Softsoap and agua are the keys to prevention, how bad can it be?

Oh, and my workplace has responded to this massive health threat by posting laminated placards with hand-washing instructions above every sink in every bathroom. I don't understand - are there some people who have been doing it wrong? (Now, wait: At what point do you actually dry your hands? Before or after the soap part?)

Second, this magic virus is changing names faster than P. Diddy in a witness protection program. Started as swine flu, of course, but now most everyone now seems like they're on board with the H1N1 moniker. I'm proposing - right here, right now - that the virus take the next step, and adopt as its new name a symbol, kind of like Prince did.

What do you think of this? ۞

* At most, one person.

May 5, 2009

All the review that's fit to print: State of Play

Writing this on the first day since Friday that I haven't had a migraine...

Saturday, I went to the show to catch State of Play, in which an ace newspaper reporter played by Russell Crowe investigates the connection between the death of a congressional intern and the power brokers on the Hill.

Let me skip to the end - or past the end, actually. When the end credits roll, they're accompanied by a series of lovely, un-narrated scenes showing the production of a newspaper, from film to metal plates to newsprint to the final product, as stacks of newspapers are loaded onto a delivery truck.

Coming at the end of this movie, those images sure felt like a requiem for newspapers. (Well, that, and the fact that in real life, every newspaper seems to be shutting down.) And for a few minutes, that was somewhat depressing. But then I got to thinking: Most newspapers suck, and they use up an awful lot of paper, which must kill a lot of trees, and I get all of my news online anyway, so never mind, I guess.

In any case, the newspaper for which Crowe's character writes, the fictitious Washington Globe - including its web site, reporters, editors, lawyers and all - plays a significant supporting role in the movie, and watching those credits, I couldn't help but think: This could end up being the last great newspaper movie ever made.

A few other quick thoughts about the movie before you get your world-famous six-word review:
1) I don't know anything about acting (well, other than what I learned in the audition scene from Waiting for Guffman), but it seems to me that no movie actor is having more fun right now - and in a good way - than Jason Bateman, who plays a sleazy, drugged-up Washington p.r. guy (which might be redundant), and makes him very entertaining to watch.

2) I still don't know anything about acting, but I do know that a lot of moviegoers pick on Ben Affleck. I also know that "picking up regional dialects" isn't exactly the first requirement for an Oscar, but the guy did a kick-ass job with his Philadelphia accent. It was very subtle, but it was consistently right on. And it really made me want to eat a cheese steak.

3) The movie featured this dude in a supporting role, which I like because he was in a few episodes of my current favorite TV show, House, M.D., and one of my favorite movies, Garden State. (In the latter, he's the young traffic cop who pulls over Andrew Largeman for speeding and then, realizing it's an old friend, asks if he seemed cop-y enough.) So I guess he sticks to movies with the word "State" in the title.

4) That same dude I mentioned in #3 wore an Orioles cap in most of his scenes, which I also like because it's probably about as well as the Orioles will do this year.

5) There were a few shaky plot points (the way that Crowe's character comes by photographs of the murdered intern was pretty ludicrous) and one that seemed tacked-on at the last minute (which I won't give away), but if you can do that suspension of disbelief stuff, they shouldn't derail the movie for you.

And now, after a long hiatus, it's the return of the Six-word Movie Review! (Wow, seriously? I think I just heard someone cheer outside my window.)
The film: State of Play
The six-word review: Implausible plot; a solid thriller anyway

Not related to any of that, here's your song of the day, guaranteed to make you smile. Unless you have a problem with all that is right and good in the world. And I know you don't because you're reading this goofy blog.

May 1, 2009

Save me a seat!

It might just be because I'm looking for an excuse to post one more link to the all-time greatest T-shirt in the history of ever*... but I saw this headline about a very prominent soon-to-be-vacant seat and I'm wondering if anyone has thought about getting the well-coifed ex-governor of Illinois to take care of filling it. I think Mr. Blagojevich has some time on his hands and I'm sure he'd get top dollar for it.

* Come on, people. Pony up a few bucks and get one for yourself or a loved one. It's the perfect Mother's Day gift!

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