Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Mussels:   In previous attempts in the arena of mussel consumption, I have been less than thrilled with the outcome.  However, the Pook really loves them and when she saw them on sale while we were grocery shopping, she declared that she was buying some and if I didn't want them I could eat something else.

Conceptually I've always rather liked mussels [1] and from time to time I like to give things that I haven't liked in the past a new try, just in case my taste buds have changed their mind.  Also, there's the whole "setting a good example for the kids" thing.

So, today when she made them, I dutifully sat down to dinner and gave them a new try.

When the Bear saw the bowl of linguine and mussels he said very matter-of-factly, "I'm not eating that ever."

I pulled the little bit of meat out of the shell and gave it a sniff.  It smelled neither good or bad. [2]

With the best of hopes and intentions, I popped it into my mouth and gave it a chew.

Initially the flavor was not too far from that of fried clams (minus the fried and adding in a LOT of salt).

I gave it a few more chews and the next wave of flavor came.  It wasn't what I would normally seek out as it was quite a bit "fishier" than the seafood things I usually like, but it wasn't bad.  Okay, I thought, mussels are better than they used to be.

Then the next wave hit me.

Remember when you were a kid and you ate something so nasty you would literally try to scrape it off your tongue?

I found that mainlining chocolate syrup helped a bit.

The Bear found the whole thing quite amusing.

The Pook got a double helping of mussels.

Mussels: F

[1] - I don't know why, but I suspect the Squeeze song is partly to blame.
[2] - Which I took as a good sign.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Days of Thunder & Real Racing 3

Days Of Thunder & Real Racing 3:

In case you don't know what one of these two things are, Days of Thunder is a movie made in 1990 about race cars. Real Racing 3 is a video game that came out this year and is also about race cars.

And what, you might ask, do these two things have in common besides the aforementioned race cars, such that they deserve to be rated together?

The answer?  Nothing, but here we go any way.

Days of Thunder stars the real life couple of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  Back when Tom couldn't fail to make a hit movie and Nicole hadn't yet had enough of his brand of crazy.  It also has a slew of other famous stars: Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes, Michael Rooker, Fred Thompson, John Reilly and even Robert Duvall.[1]  Not to mention a ton of actual stock car drivers.

Real Raching 3, doesn't actually have any people in it.  Unless you count yourself steering the cars and thus has no famous stars [2] including Nicole Kidman. [3]

One big similarity between both Days of Thunder and Real Racing 3 is that neither of them has any actual plot to speak of.

You wouldn't expect RR3 to have one, it's basic premise is you buy and race cars around a variety of tracks so that you can make enough money to buy and race more cars around more tracks.

You might have expected DoT to have a plot, but you'd be wrong.  Okay, perhaps I exaggerate I little.  It does have a plot.  Here it is in its entirety:

Cole [Tom] is a race car nobody who convinces a car dealer to sponsor him as a driver.  In one season of racing, he wows the racing world and wins important races.  Along the way he gets into an accident and falls in love with his doctor [Nicole] and makes friends with a driver he started out being semi-enemies with.

Done.  There is no more plot to be had.  And I'm not exaggerating in the least.  Here it is boiled down a bit:

Cole races cars.  Cole gets hurt.  Cole meets girl doctor.  Cole makes friends.  Cole wins races. [4]

I'm pretty sure that is the initial plot treatment that they used to sell the script to Paramount in the first place.  The conversation went something like this:

Movie Person: Here's the movie we want you to pay for. [Shows the initial treatment.]
Paramount: That's it?  Hell no.
Movie Person: It will star Tom Cruise.
Paramount: Here's $50,000,000.  Let us know when you need more.

Since DoT is about stock car racing, everyone ostensibly drives the same car. [5]  Of course they paint them all different with big numbers so you can tell them apart.  And so that they can sell more movie memorabilia.  Since it is American car racing all of the tracks are a big oval.

In RR3 there are currently something like 48 different cars for you buy and race, including: Porsche, Audi, BMW, Dodge, Nissan, Bentley, Ford and Chevrolet. There are a bunch of different tracks and only one of them is just an oval. [6]

The change of cars and tracks keeps things interesting.  There are also a variety of different events to complete, only some of which are traditional "races".

In DoT all of the races are pretty much the same.  In fact if you pay close attention, you'll see that they keep repeating the same action in all of the races.  Including the "bad racers" bumping Cole, the various crashes and spin outs and even how Cole nearly wrecks but manages to stay in the race.  But of course, they change the cars and the numbers so you won't notice.

From a 'realism' perspective, one of the biggest problems with DoT is that the actual racing is pretty bad.  Cole can be in last place and somehow in just a few laps he can pass everyone in the race and get back to being right behind the race leader for some dramatic last minute passing to win the race. [7]

From a 'realism' perspective, one of the biggest problems with RR3 is that you win most races by several hundred yards.  The game claims that it carefully picks opponents to keep the racing challenging, but I think I can count the number of races that I had some dramatic last minute passing to win the race on one hand.

When DoT came out I happen to be working at Toys R Us and I can remember the frenzy among the car collectors as they tried to get all of the various replica models that were for sale.  There was one set of cars by Matchbox or Hot Wheels that had both the stock car and the trailer transport together.  Grown men would wait for hours around the store hoping that our next delivery truck would have a case of the cars in it and that the case would have the rare, limited edition, Cole Trickle black car. [8]

I wonder if those same fellows think back now and wonder what were they thinking? [9]

RR3 is completely free.  You can download it on your phone or iPad whenever you get a hankering. Of course you can spend actual money to get more "in game" money, but if you are doing that, you need to rethink your use of disposable income. [10]

RR3 also touts its "Real Time Multiplayer" technology.  Which supposedly is that the game records how you run a race and then when I run that same race, your car will be one of the people I race against.  Only, I don't think it actually quite works that way.  I say this mainly because I've run a lot of races in the game and I've never seen one single person drive at all the way I do. [11]  Neither have I ever seen another car suddenly go running off the road for no reason. Which is also something I do from time to time. [12]

The best part about RR3 is that you get to drive by tilting your phone or iPad like a steering wheel. [13]

The best part about DoT is Nicole Kidman, but I think I already mentioned that.

Despite DoT's lack of plot and general cheesiness, I find myself drawn to it every few years and I end up rewatching it.  And every time as it ends I think, "Man is that movie way worse than I remember."

Despite RR3's gaming flaws, I find myself drawn to it several times a day.  If you happen to play, send my an invite on FB. You get more money for racing against friends and I have my eye on a new Bugatti.

Days of Thunder: C

Real Racing 3: B+

[1] - Yeah, I have no idea how they got him to be in this movie either.  I'm assuming a boat load of money.
[2] - Unless of course you are actually famous, in which case, thanks for reading my blog, can I have an autograph?
[3] - Which is a shame cause she's a hottie.
[4] - Actually when you look at it, RR3 has more plot than DoT
[5] - Thus, "stock" cars
[6] - The Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is in America of course.
[7] -  Which begs the question if it's that easy, why isn't everyone doing the same thing?
[8] - I was actually offered sizable amounts of money by more than one person if I would "set one aside" for them.  If only it had been that easy.  I could have completed my Ninja Turtle action figure collection.
[9] - I suppose it is possible that they sit at home looking loving at the shelf that holds their complete set of Days of Thunder memorabilia and marvel at how rich their lives are.  Possible, but not bloody likely.
[10] - And perhaps go look at your Days of Thunder collection again.
[11] - Which is to say reckless and crazy.
[12] - Like say when a four year old jumps onto your lap in the midst of a race.
[13] - Hey, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to racing a Porsche so let me have my small pleasures.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dead Again

Dead Again (1991):  I get asked what my favorite movie is pretty regularly. [1]  Though there are scores of movies that I love, I can never seem to think of any reply to that question except for Dead Again.  Thus, I supposed that seems pretty strong evidence that this actually is my favorite movie of all time.

Which isn't a bad thing, because this movie is awesome.

Justify that, you say?


A great movie needs to have great actors.  This one has plenty.  It stars Kenneth Branagh [2] and Emma Thompson.[3]  If for some reason you don't know who these people are, I'm sorry.  Please go rectify that immediately. [4]  The rest of us will wait.

. . . .

Right, let's assume you've taken care of that.

Not only does the movie have these two amazing actors, they are playing roles in which they fall in love at a time when they are in love in real life.  Which, certainly can't hurt your performance.

For side characters we have Andy Garcia, Robin Williams, Derek Jacobi [5] and Wayne Knight among others.

Okay Wayne Knight isn't what you'd call a top tier actor [6], but he's great in this pic.  Robin Williams, who also can be in movies that are real stinkers, is great in this movie, in a sort of twisted, alternate reality, preview of the character he plays in Good Will Hunting.

Anyway, trust me the acting is top notch.  Also if I didn't sell you at Branagh and Thompson, there's no hope for you.

Hopefully you've accepted the awesome acting, but we also need awesome directing.

Well, hey now are you in luck, because it is also directed by Kenneth Branagh. [7]  What else has this guy directed you ask?  How about:

- Henry V
- Peter's Friends
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Frankenstein
- Hamlet
- Love's Labour's Lost
- As You Like It
- Thor [8]

If I didn't have you at Henry V, you got some watching to do.

It's usually at this point that people ask me, "What is the movie about?" and no matter how well I've been selling them on the movie so far, no matter how passionate I remain, this is where the wheels start to fall off the wagon.  Because no matter how much I preface the description trying to make them believe that it isn't a goofy weird movie, at some point in the description that's what they start to think. [9]

Branagh is a private investigator trying to help Thompson figure out who she is.  She evidently suffered some sort of emotional trauma and can't remember anything or talk.  They go to a hypnotist and through her remembrances while hypnotized, it becomes clear that she was married to him in a previous life.  A life in which he murdered her . . .

I could go on, but it's around this point that I realize I've lost them.

Look, just trust me on this.  If you've read any of my previous posts and thought even for a minute that I might know a little bit about whatever it was I was talking about, go rent [10] this movie right now.

You won't regret it.  It's that awesome.

Trust me.


Dead Again: A++++++

[1] -If you do what I do for a living, it seems to come up two or three times a year.
[2] - Though you couldn't hear it, I just pronounced his name correctly.
[3] - Please, please tell me you know Emma Thompson from something besides the Harry Potter movies.
[4] - If when you begin to rectify that the words, "But I don't like Shakespeare" or anything similar should come out of your mouth.  You are excused and can go away now.
[5] - He's the guy I always think looks like Harvey Korman, but if you saw him you'd know who he is.
[6] - Newman. (Yes, I just said that in the right voice.)
[7] - Okay, I admit it.  I'm a huge Branagh fan.  And yes, I'm still pronouncing his name right.
[8] - If the only movie you have seen on this list is Thor, please do yourself a favor and fix that as soon as is humanly possible.
[9] - In this description it will begin to happen at word 33 and by word 51 it will all be over.
[10] - Or better yet, buy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Probable Turning Point

The Bear found a lady bug in the back yard.

He brought it inside and showed mom and dad.

He received a bug jar with a magnifying top from his grandmother and having failed previously to catch anything worthy of study (or anything at all for that matter), I suggested he put the lady bug in the jar and get a good look at it.

All was well in the world.

When it was time to come inside, we reminded him that he needed to let the lady bug go.

Why? he asked.

Because if you don't the lady bug will die.

I don't want to.  He's my pet.

Said with the beginnings of a quiver in the voice and impending tears on the lids.

You have to Bear.  If you keep him in the jar, he'll starve to death and die.

More than able to empathize and vaguely able to summon the vestiges of my own memories in similar situations, I attempted to make the release into something more than dumping a bug back into the garden.

The effort had minimal effect

And then seven words I never saw coming and never knew I would dread so much to hear

I want a pet of my own.

The quiver now fully evidenced and the tears now flowing.

This is not going to end well.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hot Dogs

Hot Dogs: As I am writing this, tomorrow is national hot dog day [1], so I thought I would give you my opinions about hot dogs.

As a general rule, hot dogs are awesome. [2]

Actually, as any kind of rule, general, specific, major or corporal, hot dogs are awesome.

I like them with various and sundry toppings and I like them plain.  I like the kosher ones that have that bit of twang to them and I like the plain old non-kosher kind.  I like them made of beef, pork or made of whatever combination of bits of meat leftovers go into making the really cheap kind.

Simply put, hot dogs is good eating.

I'm not really sure why they are called hot dogs.  I get the hot part [3], but why the dog?  Gut reaction says perhaps it has something to do with Dachshunds, also known as wiener dogs, but then again I also think they are called wiener dogs because they look like hot dogs.  Thus they can't both be named after each other. [4]

Hang on, I'll check the interweb . . . grumble grumble . . . the things I do . . . [searching].

So it appears they were originally called Dachshund sausages and in 1901 a fellow making a cartoon about them being sold at the New York Polo Grounds couldn't figure out how to spell Hot Dachshund Sausages[5], so he just wrote Hot Dogs.  In other words, he was too lazy to do a little research [6] and thereby changed the course of history.

I like hot dogs enough that I did some consumer research a few years back and tried nearly every kind I could get my hands on.  For my taste, you can do no finer than the plain Publix brand hot dogs.
Believe me, I was doubtful at first too, but my research says you can waste your money buying expensive all-beef high falootin [7] dogs that don't taste as good or you can save some cash and get what tastes best. [8]

If you want to blow your diet and eat your entire calorie and fat intake for the day, you can get these giant hot dogs from Sam's [9] that are made by "Best". [10]  They aren't foot long dogs, but they are easily the size of three or four regular dogs put together and they are awesome.

As much as I love hot dogs, I usually don't order them when I go out to eat.  Mainly because I always feel like they should be priced cheaper.  At any rate, that means I don't really have a hot dog restaurant recommendation for you.

I've had them at Five Guys and at Quik Trip and both are plenty good.  But if you are at Five Guys and not getting a burger, you've kind of failed.  And if you're at Quik Trip and surfing the rolling grillers for grub [11], there are other more tasty things to buy [12]  I also recently had one in the Magic Kingdom at Casey's Corner, if you care enough you can see my review of that here.

If anyone knows of an amazingly awesome hot dog eatery, please let me know.  But before someone mentions this one, I know of Brandi's but have somehow managed to fail at eating there.  Perhaps I'll go there tomorrow to celebrate the holiday. [13]

Though, if you want to save a buck, "like" Quik Trip on Face Book and search through their posts from today.  They will email you a coupon for a free hot dog that is good tomorrow only.  And just in case you haven't been in a QT recently, they have a "hot dog bar" where you can put all kinds of stuff on your dog. [14]

Whenever I think about hot dogs and there composition of potentially mystery meat, I always think of this anecdote from my younger days.  So I'll leave you with it.

My younger and brother and I would often rush home from school to watch some afternoon cartoons. [15]  On one day we were channel surfing looking for something to watch and we stumbled on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  I've never been a huge fan of the show [16] but as it happens it was just at the point of this episode where the bicycle delivery guy was delivering a movie.  So, we stopped surfing to watch.

The film was about how hot dogs were made.  In retrospect, I have no idea how any sane TV producer thought this was a good idea.  The film showed them grinding up meat into a pink paste that more than resembled off-color Pepto.[17]  Then it showed a automated system where limp hot dog casings were squirted full of the stuff.  It was perhaps they most disgusting thing I'd ever seen up to that time in my life. [18]  It literally made your skin crawl.

Well the film ended and my brother and I sat in disturbed silence contemplating what we'd seen.  After a moment he broke the silence by saying, "I'm never eating another hot dog again."  I pondered for a moment and then replied, "Meh, I love hot dogs too much."

Hot Dogs: A+

[1] - July 23 to be specific.  Which may in fact be today, yesterday or some time in the past for you.  If you follow the instructions on the right side of the page on how to follow this blog, you could get notified the instant there is a new post.  And honestly, wouldn't that be better?
[2] - You might think that having given you my opinion, this post would essentially be over.  I think we both know that's not gonna happen.
[3] - Though for the record, cold hot dogs are might tasty too.
[4] - Barring some sort of incident involving a time machine that is.
[5] - God bless spell check.
[6] - Why does that sound familiar?
[7] - Technical term.
[8] - In my opinion anyway.
[9] - And possibly other similar stores
[10] - Honestly I forget the exact name of the hot dogs, just look for the retardedly large ones made by the company "Best".
[11] - Have you stooped so low?
[12] - Buffalo Chicken Rollers and the Jalapeno Sausage to name two.  Clearly, I have stooped.
[13] - Such as it is.
[14] - Sonic is also having a hot dog sale tomorrow.  $1 each for some (but not all) of their dogs.
[15] - Back in the days when cartoons only came on a few hours in the weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings.  To think we were so deprived.
[16] - That's a bit of an understatement, but that's a post for another day.
[17] - Actually it's possible the film was in black and white and that my mind has filled in details that weren't there, but that's memory for you.
[18] - I'm a father of two boys.  That has been beaten before and will surely get beaten again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orange Juice

Orange Juice: I like orange juice. Anyone who sees me in the morning on a regular basis can tell you that I drink it nearly every day.  And I don't have one brand that I am sworn to defend with a fiery passion. [1]  Mostly I just buy whatever type is on sale. [2]

The thing about orange juice that I find so odd is how different it all tastes.  There must be thirty different brands of OJ available for sale and every one of them tastes different.  And they all claim to be made from 100% orange juice [3].  So you might think they would all taste the same.

But they don't.

I assume this must be because they are made from various types of oranges.  My question then is why don't they advertise this?  They try to make everything else about the juice such a big deal, why not the type of orange?

The thing is, I bet most people can name two, maybe three types of oranges.  Give it a shot.  I'll wait.

[Idle humming.]

Let's see, you named Valencia and Navel and that's it. [4]  For the record your other options are Moro (or Blood) and Cara Cara.  Except the thing is that Cara Cara's are just a type of navel orange that is a little pinker inside. [5]

Anyway, that's nearly my point.  If I'm Sunkist, Simply Orange or Nature's Own[6], I'm clearly not winning any market share by hyping how fast I'm getting the oranges from the tree to your juice glass. [7]  I need something to set my product apart from the rest.  That's when I start saying my juice is made with "Nature's Goddess" oranges.  Or maybe "Divine Nectar" oranges. [8]

The things is, and I'm 100% guessing here.  I bet they can't say that because the orange juice they are making probably comes from 100 different groves scattered around the country or state during the year and some of them are supplementing with oranges from groves scattered around the world in the off season.

Which brings me back to my original point.  If all that is true, how do they all manage to taste so different?  Or does 100% not actually mean what it used to?

Also, as long as I'm ranting, [9]  What's with all the random sub-varieties?  Tropicana's website boast 14 varieties of orange juice.  Fourteen varieties!  Who needs this much selection in their orange juice?

Let's see among other choices there's, low pulp, no pulp, high pulp [10], and extra Calcium and Vitamin D.  What's that all about anyway?  It's like orange juice realized it had a lock on the Vitamin C market and decided it needed to branch out.  Milk was taking a hit with all of the lactose intolerance out there, so OJ decided to muscle in on its territory.

Finally, I'd like to end by bringing back to mind this product:

Donald Duck Orange Juice.

That's right, Donald has his own brand of juice.  It's been around forever and somehow survives selling orange juice that still comes in a tiny can.  Why Donald Duck exactly?  Got me.  I mean, nothing says refreshing breakfast drink to me like a duck with no pants.  Am I right?

Orange Juice: A-

[1] - If we were talking cereal that would be another matter altogether.
[2] - And since lately we shop a lot at Aldi, that means Aldi brand.
[3] - Possibly from concentrate.
[4] - Florida and Sunkist, while in the realm of things "orange" are not actually types of oranges.  And to the person who said grapefruit, you aren't even trying.
[5] - It seems I know a bit too much about oranges.
[6] - Maybe that's actually a bread company but whatever.
[7] - Because nothing makes me thirstier than the image of a dirty work gloves manhandling an orange juice box.
[8] - Before you mock too hard, I invite you to do some research on "Rich Corinthian Leather".
[9] - And I think I now am.
[10] - For people who like to chew their morning beverage.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Finding a Literary Agent

Finding a Literary Agent: So I've written a book. [1]  And unless I am kidding myself and the people who were nice enough to proof read for me were all lying to me, it's a pretty good book. [2] Of course, I didn't spend a huge amount of time writing and rewriting the book to just have half a dozen people read it.  I would love to get it published.

At this point then, I have three options.

Option 1 is to try and directly contact and convince a publisher to publish it.  If this were an easy thing to do, there wouldn't be literary agents.

Option 2 is to self-publish.  I have not totally given up on this idea, but from what I have read, it seems to me this is akin to a last desperate measure and that self-publishing is essentially accepting that your book will never be published any other way. [3]

Option 3 is to find a literary agent.

One might think that this cannot be that hard of a task.  And I guess as I've stated it, it really isn't.  Let me clarify a bit.

Option 3 is to find a literary agent who is willing to represent you.

Those extra six words representing the stickiest of wickets.  Because it is easy to find literary agents.  There are literally books and books listing them.  There are websites [4] listing hordes of agents and how to contact them and what they are looking for [5] and they all have discussion boards where you can read about someone's desperate attempts to find a valid email address for the J. Q. Smith & Associates Literary Agency and does anyone know for sure that they aren't out of business. 

Oh but finding an agent willing to take some time to even give your manuscript [6] a decent look over is like finding a four leaf clover. [7]

One of the biggest issues is the "Query Letter".  With one exception every agent I have solicited or even thought about soliciting is asking for a query letter.  This is basically a one page letter in which you have to summarize what your book is about and who you are and what writing accomplishments you have to your name.  But you have to do it in such a way that your query letter stands out from the other six thousand query letters the agency also received . . . today. [8]

Here's the problem with that.  That's not my forte.  If I were good at saying things in short, brief, one page letters that made the story [9] sound amazing, I wouldn't be writing several hundred page novels. It's not in my skill set.  It's probably not in most authors skill sets.  And I can say this with some assurance because there are literally dozens of books and websites our there just about how to write the perfect query letter.

But even if I could dedicate myself to becoming able to write the best query letter in the universe, the truth of the matter is, I don't want to.  I don't want to learn how to make myself sound amazingly awesome-er than I really am.  I don't want to learn how to sell myself and my book [10] like I'm trying to convince someone to buy a used car.  I want to write great books.  I want to write stories [11] that make people forget their own lives for a few minutes and when they finish say, "Hey, that was pretty good" and maybe even, "I wonder what else this guy has written." 

Of course right now nobody is going to be able to say even that because I lack the perfect query letter. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to read something by somebody who could write the perfect query letter.  I think I've seen that before.  It was the pamphlet lying on the table when that company was trying to browbeat us into buying into that vacation time share. [12]

And so every few days, I dutifully spend an hour or so of my time tearing out another small piece of my soul and attaching it to a query letter and if I'm lucky the first three chapters or thirty pages of my manuscript [13] and I send them off either electronically [14] or by snail mail and you hope that one day someone might just say more to you than:

Thank you so much for your interest in [Name of Literary Agency]. While your project has much merit, I'm afraid I don't feel strongly enough to take it on in this tough marketplace. I wish you the best in placing it elsewhere. [15]

Of course I should probably be thankful I got that.  Most of them don't respond to you at all.

Maybe I'll go online and see if anyone else has gotten a response from J. Q. Smith and Associates.

Or better yet, maybe I could better spend my time writing a book.

Finding a Literary Agent: D

[1] - Technically at this point I have written three books and, depending on how you figure such things, either a novella or a long short story.
[2] - Granted some of those proofreaders were related to me by blood or marriage, but others weren't.
[3] - The picture of whatever self-published person Amazon is hyping on their home screen notwithstanding.
[4] - Plural.
[5] - Supposedly.
[6] - Technical term.  Nobody is looking for books, they all want manuscripts.
[7] - In the Sahara.
[8] - Granted 6,000 is just my estimation, but based upon the websites and books and upon the rejection letters I've received, this is, if anything, a conservative number.
[9] - And myself
[10] - Oops sorry, I meant manuscript.
[11] - That are longer than just one page.
[12] - And yes, I was totally just there to get free tickets to Disney World.
[13] - Not that I believe anyone actually reads them.
[14] - For faster more efficient rejection.
[15] - With the exception of removing the name of the agency, that is a direct quote of a complete, and I'm sure heartfelt, rejection.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Disney Food

Here, in one giant post, is a grade for all of the food we ate on the Disney trip.

Each entry tells:  the food I ate (what restaurant I got it at/where that restaurant can be found) a brief review, and then the grade.

Day 1 Breakfast:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pop-Tart, (the box of pop-tarts/my hotel room): cheap breakfast for the win.

Pop-Tart: B-

Day 1 Lunch:
Reuben Stromboli w/ Caesar Salad, (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): I like a Reuben [1].  I like a stromboli.  Seems like the two together should be a pretty tasty combination.  The crust had a few random holes in it, so that when you bit into the stromboli, thousand island dressing would come oozing out the holes like some kind of food world gunshot wound.  It made things kind of messy, but overall it tasted fine.  The Caesar salad was awesome. [2]

Reuben Stromboli: B-
Caesar Salad: A

Day 1 Dinner:
Buffet (Crystal Palace/The Magic Kingdom): The food was okay and forgettable.  I had several different things, but all I can remember is boiled shrimp w/ cocktail sauce, some kind of roast meat [3], paella and a cucumber salad.  There was more but like I said, it was forgettable.  There was a buffet full of desserts too: chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, lemon tarts, key lime tarts, tiny cheese cakes, apple cobbler and more. The best part was that they had Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger walking around and meeting folks.  You could get your pick with them and such.  The Bear gave Piglet and Pooh a hug.  He gave Eeyore and Tigger a wide berth.

Buffet Food: B-
Buffet Dinner: B+
Wandering Pooh Characters: A- [B if you're the Bear.]  

Day 2 Breakfast:
Same as Day 1

Day 2 Lunch:
Fish and Chips (Yorkshire Fish Shop/Epcot Center [UK pavilion]): The fish was fully covered in greasy fried goodness.  The chips [4] were fat and hot.  There was tarter sauce, but no cocktail sauce. [5]  For dessert you got a giant sugar cookie.  There was also a squad of ducks pandering for castoffs.  They got quite a few chips from us before we noticed the "Don't feed the ducks" sign.

Fish: A+
Chips: A-
Sugar Cookie: B+

Day 2 Dinner:
Roasted Chicken w/ Potatoes (The Chefs de France/Epcot Center [French pavilion]): Though we arrived early, we got seated pretty quickly.  There were only about four options and while I'm not too particular, my actual choices that I was willing to choose from were pretty small.  French Onion Soup for an appetizer.  It was awesome.  As good as the French Onion Soup I had in Paris. [6]  The Pook and I debated asking if we could cancel our main dishes and just have more soup.  Baked chicken with potatoes and a smattering of gravy and broccoli.  The chicken was fine.  It was pretty good for chicken, but then it was chicken so, meh.  The potatoes were actually quite tasty.  I'm not one to go gaga over potatoes, but I actually quite enjoyed these.  The gravy was great, but like most "fine dining" restaurants you didn't get nearly enough of it.  The broccoli was whatever.  For dessert I had profiteroles.  Basically, small puffs of pastry with vanilla ice cream between them, doused with chocolate sauce.  I seriously debated getting the chocolate mousse but the waiter recommended these.  They were quite tasty, but I really love me a chocolate mousse and afterward I wished I had gotten it. [7]

French Onion Soup: A++
Baked Chicken: B-
Potatoes: B+
Broccoli: C+
Profiteroles: A-

Day 3-5 Breakfast:
Cherry Cheese Danish (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): It was the size of a 45. [8]  And so awesome I had it every morning for the rest of the trip.  The Bear got a Pain au Chocolat, which is essentially a flaky croissant type of roll with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce in it.  He took the tiniest of nibbles and declared he didn't like it. [9] So the Pook and I finished it off for him. [10]

Cherry Cheese Danish: A
Pain au Chocolat: A-

Day 3 Lunch:
Barbecue ribs (Flame Tree Barbecue/Animal Kingdom): I know, there's something contrary to eating ribs in a park all about animals, but hey they were right tasty and I really appreciated them.  Our guide book told us to eat here and it was not wrong.  The ribs, as stated, were excellent.  It came with some coleslaw that was sub-par, some baked beans that were awesome and for desert the Pook and I decided to split between us a Chocolate Mousse and a Key Lime Pie [11].  However, after we each had tasted both, I ate all the rest of the Mousse and she had all the rest of the Key Lime.  Which wasn't unusual at all for me (cause Chocolate Mousse is awesome) but was strange for her since she usually is anti-tart desserts in general and anti-Key Lime Pie in specific.

Ribs: A-
Coleslaw: C- (I didn't even finish mine.)
Beans: A
Chocolate Mousse: A+

Day 3 Dinner:
African Buffet (Boma/Animal Kingdom Lodge): I will admit from the outset that I wasn't really looking forward to this meal.  I wasn't dreading it or anything, but I had a strong suspicion that I wasn't going to enjoy it too terribly much.  The restaurant "Boma" has a buffet of various dishes that are supposed to either be African in origin or at least African influenced.  There were four different meats.  I found two of them (chicken and something else that I've already forgotten) to be just meh.  The beef was okay and the pork was quite tasty.  There were four different soups, but I only had one of them.  It was essentially a spicy chicken soup akin to chicken tortilla sans the tortilla.  The other three soups were non-starters [12].

Then there were a variety of side things.  I tried a little of this and that.  The guide book recommended the watermelon rind salad, so I took some of that.  But the one bit I put in my mouth didn't stay there very long.  It tasted nothing like what you would think watermelon rind salad should taste like and everything like bad.  I tried to spit it out without the Bear noticing.  Nothing else was memorable enough to remember.

There were again a bunch of desserts.  The highlight for me was the Kenyan Coffee Tarts and as I usually can't stand coffee that was odd.  The Bear ate chocolate chip cookies and wished for ice cream.

Boma buffet overall: B-
Watermelon Rind Salad: F
Chicken Soup: B+
Kenyan Coffee Tarts: A-

Day 4 Lunch:
BBQ Hot Dog (Casey's Corner/Magic Kingdom): There was a bun.  It was much bigger than your average hot dog bun.  There was a giant pile of coleslaw and there was a giant pile of pulled pork barbecue.  I suppose there must have been a hot dog in there somewhere, but you certainly couldn't taste it.  Don't get me wrong, the barbecue was right tasty, but I was craving a good dog.  I should have got the chili cheese dog that the Pook ordered.  It was the same giant bun but with a lake of chili and cheese.  Either way it came with a pile of fries too.  The fries were average.

For dessert I got a brownie which was prepackaged and okay in its own prepackaged brownie kind of way.  The Bear and the Pook got cotton candy. [13]

BBQ Hot Dog: B+ [14]
Fries: B
Brownie: B
Cotton Candy: A

Day 4 Dinner:
Chili Nachos (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): Our dining plan only paid for five dinners, so we had to slum it for one dinner.  We decided to go cheap and eat at the hotel. [15]  I had the nachos even though they looked kind of weird.  But the menu board said the were homemade chips so I gave them a try.  They came with ample amounts of the usual assortment of nacho toppings.  When I got to the table I found that they were not nacho chips at all, but instead homemade potato chips.  Which was strange but okay.  The biggest problem is that they were seasoned with something that made them taste like barbecue potato chips.  That was kind of off putting.  So once I ran out of nacho toppings, I quit eating the chips.  We may have had some kind of dessert, but I'm drawing a blank.

Chili "Nachos": B-

Day 5 Lunch:
Pizza Bread (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): Just as we only had five prepaid dinners, we also only had five prepaid lunches.  So after spending a hot morning/early afternoon at Disney's Hollywood Studios we went back to the hotel for lunch.  Judging by how often everyone else ordered it, the hot dish at the restaurant was the Pizza Bread.  It came from the same line that my Stromboli from day one did.  It was pretty standard french bread, sauce, cheese and pepperoni.  As an added bonus, it came with the same Caesar side salad as the Stromboli as well. Only this time the salad was not nearly so good.  The service however was just as bad as the first day.  This time there were two ladies, one of which was leaving and thus couldn't be bothered to do more than a minimal amount and the girl just coming on shift who clearly didn't like the girl leaving telling her what to do and thus took it out on us customers by sucking at her job.

On the plus side, after lunch we got giant ice cream sundaes from the ice cream counter.  Mine had mint chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream, toffee, chocolate fudge, cherries and two gummy worms that I have to the Bear.

Pizza Bread: B
Caesar Salad: B-
Ice Cream Sundae: A

Day 5 Dinner:
Ohana Dinner Buffet (Ohana/Polynesian Resort): You start off with a salad that has honey-lime dressing [16], pork dumplings and chicken wings.  Then for the main course you get some noodles, stir-fried vegetables and all you can eat pork, beef, chicken and shrimp that have been cooked on their giant grill.  The waiters bring the meat around on skewers much like a Brazilian restaurant and give you all you want.  The salad was okay as were the wings.  But as I didn't want to fill up on them, I didn't each much of them.  The dumplings were awesome, even though they had honey drizzled on them.  I think I ate four.  The noodles were no good, too much of some seasoning for my taste.  The Pook said she thought it was ginger.  The vegetables were standard.  Of the meats, the first round of meats we got were hot and juicy and awesome.  The second round were mostly overcooked and not so awesome..  The shrimp are giant and unpeeled.  I must have eaten twelve or so.

For dessert there was a bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and a banana caramel sauce.  I'm not usually a big fan of things with bananas cooked in them or of bread pudding.  Nevertheless the Pook and I finished the whole thing and all of the Bear's leavings. [17]  I contemplated pouring the remainder of the caramel sauce straight into my mouth, but ultimately restrained my self.

Perhaps the worst part of the experience was the "floor show".  A Hawaiian lady gathered all of the kids and had them do a race around the restaurant with brooms and coconuts.  Then she taught everyone a Hula Dance.  Both of which were fine.  Her condescending demeanor however made the whole thing seem annoying and interruptive. [18]

Honey-Lime Salad: B-
Chicken Wings: C+
Pork Dumplings: A-
Noodles: D+
Stir Fried Vegetables: C
Pork the first time: A
Pork the second time: B-
Beef the first time: A-
Beef the second time: C+
Chicken the first time: B+ [19]
Shrimp Every Time: A+
Bread Pudding with Ice Cream and Banana Caramel Sauce: A++

Day 6 Lunch:
Quiche Lorraine (Boulangerie Patisserie/Epcot Center [French Pavilion]): I got the Quiche Lorraine [20] and the Pook got a ham, cheese and bechamel on a baguette sandwich and then we went halfsies.  The quiche was very good.  The sandwich was okay.  For dessert I got a chocolate tart.  It was amazingly good.  Though a tad large because by the end I was a little over done with the chocolaty goodness.

Quiche Lorraine: B+
Ham Sammie French Style: B-
Chocolate Tart: A

Day 6 Dinner:
Pork Chop (Akershus[21]/Epcot Center [Norwegian Pavilion]): The Pook had fond memories of this restaurant from when she had eaten here with her parents as a kid.  Among other things was the memory of butter pats pressed into Mickey shapes.  Sadly the butter pats were gone, but they've been replaced with a lot of princesses.

For an "appetizer" you can eat all that you want off of their appetizer buffet.  The buffet has enough on it that you don't actually need to order anything else.  I had salami, muenster cheese, salad, cucumber salad, and several other things that I no longer remember.

My main course was a pork chop with lingonberry sauce, potato casserole, and asparagus.  The pork chop was the size of my head and a bit over cooked to my taste.  When it is served anywhere else in the south, the potato casserole would have been called hash brown casserole, but nevertheless was pretty standard.  The asparagus were grilled and as good as you could ask asparagus to be.

For dessert you weren't given a choice.  Instead they brought you a plate with Chocolate Mousse Cake, Apple Cake and Rice Pudding.  The Chocolate Mousse cake was as good as the words chocolate mousse profess it to be.  The apple cake was a bit dry and thick.  Even though rice pudding is evil, I dutifully tried a tiny bit.  I think I only shuddered once.

The real draw of this restaurant is that it is filled with Disney Princesses.  You get your picture taken with Belle when you first enter [22] and then Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Mary Poppins all wander around the room chatting with everyone and getting their pictures taken.  The Bear wanted nothing to do with any of them.  Pook got her picture taken with all of them. [23]

Appetizer Buffet: B
Pork Chop: B
Potato Casserole: B
Asparagus: B
Chocolate Mousse Cake: A
Apple Cake: C+
Rice Pudding: D-

Well there you have it.  Way too much info on the food that we ate.  If you bothered to read this far, give yourself a pat on the back.  I'm gonna go see if I can find anything close to a chocolate mousse.

[1] - In case you don't know, a Reuben is corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing, usually on rye bread.
[2] - The service at the counter that prepared the food was horrendous.  The guy taking orders had the short term memory of a goldfish.  The next day I saw him cleaning off tables.  Just sayin'.
[3] - The kind where a guy dressed like a chef (but who actually had nothing to do with cooking the food) slices you off a bit of the whole and lays it on your plate with his knife and two pronged fork thing.
[4] - French fries to you unwashed heathens.
[5] - There was ketchup too, but I'm not much of a fan of ketchup.
[6] - Actually I had French Onion Soup several times in Paris.  Most days it was great, but on some days it wasn't that good.
[7] - When the Pook and I went to Paris, I had chocolate mousse just about every meal as well.  Much like the French Onion Soup, it was a varied experience.  The one I had the first night was to die for.  The one I had the last night was no better than Jello Pudding.
[8] - The record, not the hand gun.
[9] - Leave it to my son to turn down chocolate for breakfast.
[10] - We went back to the room and got a Pop-Tart for him.
[11] - Technically it wasn't a "pie" but a cup of Key Lime Pie goodness.
[12] - Curry soup, coconut soup and butternut squash.  No thank you.
[13] - Blue and pink respectively.
[14] - Probably would get a higher rating if I were to have it knowing to expect BBQ and not so much hot dog.
[15] - Which was good because dinner at the hotel was about $30.  Dinner at any of the other places we went too would have been between $120 and $150.
[16] - The dressing doesn't sound right to me.  I could have sworn it had pear in the name, but that's what the website says.
[17] - He just had ice cream with Mickey Mouse sprinkles.  But he wasn't feeling very good and we could let the ice cream just go to waste could we?
[18] - Which is a word that I just made up and doesn't at all mean the same thing as annoying, except for a bit.
[19] - I didn't have the chicken a second time, but the Pook said it was just as overdone.
[20] - Ham and cheese quiche.
[21] - Gesundheit
[22] - They give you a big picture and several smaller prints for free.  Well, not free but the price is included in your meal.
[23] - Later the Bear got his picture taken with some snails we found on a ledge.  He was quite excited by that.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2013

The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2013: We got this book hoping it would be slightly useful in helping us pick restaurants for our trip. [1]  If it helped us avoid one bad meal, we figured it would be worth the $20 price tag.[2]

If you are planning to go to Disney World any time soon and they've doubled the price of the book, it would still be a solid value and you should purchase it immediately.  Simply put the book is awesome.

Granted a large part of the book is taken up with reviews of hotels, but that doesn't detract from it's worth.

A similarly large section is given over to rating all of the restaurants in Disney World and since the book isn't written or created by anyone actually associated with DW, they can and do tell you when things stink and when you should avoid them. Using it to pick the places we ate lunch and dinner more than covered the cost of the book.

It also reviews all of the rides and shows and tells you which ones are awesome, which ones aren't and which ones haven't been updated since the 80's.

But perhaps the best part of the book is that it tells you what rides to ride in what order.


Wait you say, the book tells me to go ride a certain ride first and then what to do next?

Exactly.  And while that sounds like you are having your vacation dictated to you, what it really means is that you will get to ride more rides and see more shows.

For instance, are you interested in riding the Toy Story Arcade ride in Hollywood Studios?  If you follow the book (as we did) you end up waiting about five minutes.  When we went back later the wait was 110 minutes. [3]

Evidently, the writers of the book went to the park and watched and rode everything at all times of the day.  They watched traffic patterns [4] and saw when certain rides were busy and when they weren't. And then they put together several different agendas designed to maximize your time riding and watching and to minimize your time standing in line.

We spent six days in the four different parks at DW and the longest we waited (with one exception) was probably 10 minutes. Okay, let me hedge my bets and say 15 minutes, tops.

The book is very clear that to maximize things you need to follow their order religiously and that to deviate means you risk losing your ability to zip from ride to ride and instead get to stand in a queue like a sheep.

And if there are things you want to ride that it doesn't have listed or there are things listed that you don't want to ride, it tells you how to replace and deviate without hosing yourself.  Also there are several different agendas to choose from. [5]

The book claims that it reduces average wait time per day by about four hours.  I would have to say that it made it even less for us.  On most days we finished everything on the list with hours of time to spare.

Which is why we ended up standing in line for a longer time, once.  We had ridden everything and seen everything that we wanted to see at Epcot and it had started raining.  So to waste time until our dinner reservation,[6] we waited 20 minutes to ride the ride at the Mexican pavilion.

You could also spend a few more bucks to get more info and updated lists and wait times on their website, but we forgot to do that so I can't tell you how good that was.  But I can say that we didn't need it.  The book was plenty good.

The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2013: A+

[1] - They'll be an entire post about eating at Disney World soon.
[2] - We bought it at Barnes and Nobles, it's actually $5 cheaper on Amazon.
[3] - No, that's not a typo.  The wait was nearly two hours.  What's more astonishing is how many people were willing to wait that long.
[4] - The traffic patterns of people.
[5] - Spending 1 or 2 days in a park and with or without small children.
[6] - That's right we were wasting time while at a Disney theme park because we had nothing else to do, in June.

Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness:  While I have been told on more than one occasion that my hair is perfect[1], it may come as a surprise to some of you that as a whole, I am not. [2]

If it turns out that life is in any way like a giant RPG, way back at character creation I clearly took a few disads, to gain more awesome abilities and super powers. [3]  One of those was clearly motion sickness.

If you like to think of life in more genetic terms, I have my mother to thank for this. [4]  As she and all of my siblings get it as well.

For those of you who don't really know what it is, let me explain.

Whenever motion sickness occurs, I basically feel nauseated in the extreme.  If I don't stop whatever it is that is causing it, I eventually break out in the cold sweats, the blood rushes from my head and I feel like I really, really, really, really, really want to lose my lunch. [5]  Fortunately or possibly unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I never actually do blow chunks. [6]

So you ask, what causes this motion sickness?  Well let me tell you.

Basically it is a problem with your inner ear and your eyes communicating with your brain.  Way down deep in your ear there is a little chamber partly full of liquid.  Your brain uses this chamber [7] to keep track of whether you are right side up, upside down, on your side or whatever.  When you are walking around, gravity keeps the liquid on the bottom of the chamber and your inner ear reports back that you are right side up.

Should you go upside down, the fluid will now be on the side of the chamber that used to be the top[8] and your inner ear will report to the brain that you are upside down.  If you should wreck your car and do a barrel roll, the liquid will slosh all over the place and your inner ear will tell your brain that things aren't going so well.

The problems start when your brain starts comparing that data to the data from your eyes.  When your inner ear says, "Brain we are upside down." and your eyes are reporting back data that confirms that, there is no problem.  But when those two sets of data don't coincide, there can be trouble.

I say "can be trouble" because for many people there isn't.  The brain sifts through the data figures out why they aren't both reporting the same thing and moves on.  But for some people, the incongruity of this data means motion sickness.  It goes a bit like this:

Eyes: Brain, we appear to be flying upside down in a jet plane.
Inner Ear: Hate to argue with the eyes, but that's simply not true, we are in fact right side up.
Brain: Okay you two, calm down.  We are watching a movie about Tom Cruise as a fighter pilot.  There's no problem here.  Except perhaps the acting, plot, etc.
Stomach: LET'S THROW UP!!!!!!
Everyone else: What?  NO!!!!
Stomach: Increasing sweat production, 500%!

As that little scenario clearly shows, for some it can be something as minor as a movie.  Fortunately for me, it takes more than just a standard movie.

Also, it can work in other ways.  For instance if it is pitch black, you can get something like this:

Eyes: Brain, nothing is going on.
Inner Ear: What are you blind!  Everything is flipping around like crazy.  Are we trapped in the dryer again!"
Brain: We're on a roller coaster in the dark.  Calm down everyone.
Stomach: LET'S THROW UP!!!!!!!!!

Finally, it can be set off if your eyes and inner ear are reacting too much to unanticipated changes.  Like when you are a passenger in a vehicle and you can't get a good look at the road to see how the car is going to move in the future.  And not just big turns and curves, the minor wheel adjustments the driver does subconsciously are actually worse.

Eyes: On the one hand, based up the completely stationary headrest in front of me, I posit we are not moving.  However, the trees moving by at a rapid pace out the window seem to indicate fast movement.
Inner Ear: I got some slight variations in the chamber liquid [9], so nothing to indicate great speed, but I also don't think we're sitting still.
Brain: We're in the back seat of a car.  There's no problem.
Inner Ear: We've got some definite tilt of the fluid plain.  We seem to be banking left.
Eyes: Nope, headrest is still not moving.  Though those trees are really going.
Brain: The road is a little curvy that's all.
Stomach: LET'S THROW UP!!!!!!!!!!!

For the most part, it really isn't that much of a problem.  I just make sure that I'm the driver whenever I can.  And if I can't I sit where I can see the whole road. [10]  I avoid certain rides at theme parks and I just suck it up and hope for the best if I have to go on a plane. [11]

Because I know you're dying to know, here's a list of some of the things that can make me regret my current life choices and a relative rating of how bad the motion sickness will be on a scale of 0-10: [12]

- Riding in the front passenger seat: 0-4 (depending on the driver)
- Riding in the back passenger seats: 3-8 (depending on the driver)
- First person shooter video games that are realistic [13]: 2-8 (depending on how recently I've eaten and how long I play)
- First person shooter video games that are not realistic at all [14]: 0-3 (depending on how recently I've eaten and how long I play)
- Theme park rides that spin around a lot [15]: 5-10
- Theme park rides that are in the dark: 4-8
- Theme park rides that are in those simulator pods that move the entire pod around to match the movie/ride [16]: 8-10
- Airplane rides: 3-10 (depending on length of ride, turbulence, and other factors)
- Boat rides: 0 (boats don't bother me, go figure).
- Circle Vision 360 movies: 8-9
- 3-D movies: 1-4 (depends on how much movement is going on and how realistic the movie is)
- 3-D, IMAX movies: 2-5
- Virtual Reality anything: 1-10 (again depending on how realistic but usually more on the 10 side of the scale.)
- Anything in the world if I am overly hot and/or hungry: +5 to scale
- Riding backwards: +3 to scale
- Riding in the passenger seat to the hospital with a major inner ear infection while my wife is driving: 27,000 [17]

To sum up, while it is an annoying problem, if I avoid certain situations it's not a big deal. [18] Of course, if you say, take a week long vacation to Disney World, those usually unavoidable things, suddenly become much less unavoidable.  But hey, it's a small price to pay for a perfectly coiffed do.

Motion Sickness: D+

[1] - I'm actually serious.  People have told me that.  Go figure.
[2] - Perfect that is.
[3] - Like wicked smarts, dashing good looks and perfect hair.
[4] - Thanks mom!
[5] - That means throw up.
[6] - I say possibly unfortunately because I often feel like I would probably feel a lot better if I did.
[7] - I'm sure it has a technical name and I'm not even 100% sure it's a chamber, but I'm too lazy to look it up.
[8] - But is now the bottom, because you're upside down.
[9] - I really should have looked up what that stuff was called.
[10] - Which basically means I end up hogging the front seat.  Sorry 'bout that.
[11] - There are anti-motion sickness medicines, but for me they make me feel worse than the motion sickness, but in a completely different way.
[12] - 1 being minor queasiness and 10 being a state akin to, "I wish I was dead".
[13] - Skyrim, Call of Duty, etc
[14] - Original Duke Nukem and the like
[15] - Mo-mo the monster, drunken barrels, Mad Hatter's Tea Cups
[16] - Body wars, Back to the Future Ride and I'm led to believe the Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios is that way too, but I can't confirm that.
[17] - Including actual puking!
[18] - Just realize that if you invite my family over, we're all coming in separate cars.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's New Scooby-Doo? (Seasons 1-3)

What's New Scooby-Doo: Complete Seasons 1-3: As previously stated, we here at Mr. B-Grades love us some Scooby-Doo.  Which is why I was pretty excited to get all three seasons of What's New Scooby-Doo [WNSD] for my birthday. [1]

WNSD season 1 came out in 2002, which makes it a little over thirty years older than the original.  Despite the passing time, the gang looks essentially the same.  If you are a Scooby purist and you can get past a few minor changes, these three DVD's will serve you well.

One of the biggest changes is that Daphne and Velma don't sound the same [2]  Which initially I was disappointed about, but quickly got over.  I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, 'c'mon, it was thirty years ago.  You really think they could get the same people?"

While I didn't actually think that, that is what you partially get, because both Fred and Shaggy are played by the same actors who did their voices for the original series. [3]  But really I just wanted voices that sounded reasonably close.  And for the two girls, especially Velma, I don't think they even tried.  But again, you quickly didn't notice the change.

The plots are slightly better. [4]  They do all make at least some logical sense, which can't necessarily be said for some of the originals. They aren't necessarily possible or really that believable, but they at least make sense.  And all of the characters have at least a little more depth to them. [5]

Perhaps the biggest change is that Daphne isn't completely useless.  She's still fashion/beauty conscious, but she can also pick any lock with the random contents of her purse and she's much more athletic.

Best of all, the show has many honest to goodness laugh out loud moments.  Many of the other characters names are references to other movies/books/shows or are bad puns. [6]  There are a few recurring gags, some of which are possible because the characters have more depth.  And lots of fairly famous guest actors.  Enough that you end every episode by pausing on the voice credits to see just whose voice that really was.

In truth, the thing about the show that made me the saddest is that there was only 3 seasons.

What's New Scooby-Doo? (Seasons 1-3): A-

[1] - Or possibly Christmas.  I'm bad at remembering things like that.
[2] - As they did before, not the same as each other.
[3] - Fred Welker and Casey Kasem, respectively
[4] - I said 'slightly'.
[5] - Fred's a big Elvis fan.  Daphne's a big surfer.  Velma loves Hockey.  Shaggy is a putt-putt champion.
[6] - Like, Owen DeCastle.  He's the owner of a spooky castle.  Or Sonny Les Martines.  "Ding Dong Ding".

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga:  It's unlikely, barring your being a Luddite, that you don't already know what Candy Crush Saga is.  Which is not to say that you necessarily have played it, but at the very least you've been spammed by your friends and acquaintances who have been sucked in.

Hi, I'm Mr. B-Grades and I played Candy Crush. [1]

But it's important to notice the tense in the that previous sentence. [2]

I actually still like the game, but the owners/creators of it have beaten whatever joy there was to be had out of me.

Just in case, you actually are a Luddite [3] or by some other way have managed to avoid the game, here's a brief description.  Any time there are three or more identical pieces of candy on the game board they are removed (or crushed).  And new candy falls in from the top of the screen  You attempt to facilitate that removal by swapping pieces that are next to each.  Along the way the different layouts on each level and other obstacles make successive levels harder and more challenging.

Currently there are something like sixteen magillion levels [4]

The problem with the game is directly related to why the game exists.  And as any first year Econ student can tell you, all businesses exist for one reason and one reason only.

To make money.

And Candy Crush is made by a business [5] and thus is ultimately there to make them money. [6]

How do they make money?  By getting you to spend your real life dollars for their in-game bonuses.

Run out of lives?  Spend a buck and get your lives refilled.  Want to have the ability to create special candies that explode and in other ways assist your efforts?  Cash can do that for you too.

But wait, you say.  Isn't candy crush free to play?  Sure, but the people over there at King Games also want your money, so they have to balance making the game free and fun with making it hard so you want to spend money for extra perks.  If they make it too easy to play and win, nobody will spring for the bonuses.  If they make it too hard, you won't ever get hooked.

Which brings us to level 165.

Technically, there are several levels akin to 165 you will encounter first, but 165 was the straw that broke this camel's back.

The different layouts and obstacles do require you to use strategy to get past a level and on every level there is some amount of luck, but with good skill and a mere modicum of luck you can get past most levels in just a few tries.  But for some reason every so often you run into a level where it is essentially 100% luck.  Your skill doesn't matter.  Unless the game gods arbitrarily decide to give you the right pattern of falling candies, you are not going to win.

I suffered through several of these.  Some of which took me a few days to win. [7]  Then came 165.  A board in which your decisions mean little.  Where unless the game decides to make every other candy a blue one, you aren't going to win.

King games is hoping this will get you to shell out for bonuses to get past the level.

King games is wrong.

Candy Crush: C+  (Good concepts.  Fun levels.  Decent strategy.  All of which is ruined by a few rotten apples. [8])

[1] - The first step towards getting better is admitting you have a problem.
[2] - In case grammar isn't your forte, it was past tense, meaning done in the past, but not necessarily now.
[3] - Of course if you are a Luddite how/why are you reading this now?
[4] - All numbers are approximate.
[5] - King Games
[6] - For the record, I'm not a business and as such get no remuneration for these efforts.  Not that I would turn such things down.
[7] - Or more accurately to be given the win.
[8] - Whether those apples are the levels, the people who run the game, or something else, I'll let you decide.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Epic, First Movie

Epic, First Movie: So I went and saw Epic.  It was pretty good.  Good animation.  Good action.  Several funny bits.   My favorite scene was with the fruit fly.  Looks to me like it is setting itself up for an Epic 2. [1]

But enough about the movie.

More importantly, the Pook and I took the Bear along with us.  It was his first movie theater experience.

A few weeks ago after seeing a commercial for the movie on TV, he told the Pook that he really wanted to see it.  More than likely it was a typically fleeting passing fancy of a four year old, but the Pook took it to heart, so we made it happen.

When he found out we were going, the Bear was stoked.  When he found out he had to wait until after lunch, he immediately asked if we could eat lunch right then. [2]

Since it was a semi-big deal, we decided to splurge and buy popcorn and a Coke as well. [3]

In truth, I thought we would probably get about forty minutes in and then antsy pants would get antsy and we'd have to leave.  There were one or two times in which he stood up to look around the theater and take it all in, but he sat through the whole thing no problem. [4]

The Bear's take on the movie was: "The slug was my favorite part . . . and everything else, that was my favorite part too."

The Bear's take on the entire theater experience was: "The popcorn was my favorite part . . . and everything else, that was my favorite part too.  Why can't we get more popcorn?"

As you can see everything went well and a good time was had by all.  Upon leaving the theater, the Bear asked when we could go to another movie.  I'm sure that will happen soon. [5]

If you are friends with me on Facebook, look for some pics of the Bear at the theater, to be posted soon. [6]

Epic: B+
First Movie for the Bear: A

[1] - The Pook says it will probably have the Leaf Dude get large for some reason.
[2] - It was around 10:00 a.m.
[3] - The adults in the party near fainted at the total bill.  The youth in the group started demanding more popcorn about a third of the way through the movie.
[4] - Except for the evidently appalling lack of popcorn that is.
[5] - Just as soon as I can secure a small line of credit.
[6] - If you are reading this several weeks or longer in the future, you missed them.  They were epic.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Charlie's Angels (1&2)

Charlie's Angels (1&2): My memories of Charlie's Angels the TV show are pretty sparse. [1]  In fact, my only specific memory of the show [2] is an episode in which someone is trying to kill at least one of the angels and some bad guys replace the shower head in her apartment with a flame thrower.  Fortunately for whichever angel it was, she was the type of person who leans in and turns on the shower before getting in. [3]  Thus she avoids the trap.

That's it.  That's the only actual memory of any plot line or scene from the show.

So, in 2000 when the first movie came out, I can't say I was overly excited.  I wasn't antagonistic or anything, but I felt no burning desire to rush to the theater either.

When I did finally end up seeing it [4] I was pleasantly surprised on all fronts.  The movie struck all of the right nostalgia chords with me[5] and I was particularly pleased that they got John Forsythe to continue as the voice of Charlie.  Casting Bill Murray as Bosley could have been a disaster, but wasn't. [6] There were good stunts, well choreographed fights and an ample amount of explosions.  You got Crispin Glover in a role that let him be as creepy as he wants [7].  Plenty of cameos.  And best of all the plot was not too terrible.

It was good enough that when the sequel came out, I was actually excited to see it.  And I have watched it on DVD several times since then.

Which isn't to say that it doesn't have its problems.  Instead, it's just that any problems are minor enough that they are easily forgiven and quickly forgotten.

Charlie's Angels 2, is actually called Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.  It has nearly the same cast (Diaz, Barrymore and Liu all return as the angels) with one big exception.  This time the role of Bosley is played by Bernie Mac.  [Insert sound of screeching tires here.]

That's right, Bernie Mac.[8]

To give the writers some credit, they don't actually expect you to believe it's the same guy.  Instead you are supposed to believe that they are brothers. [9]

Mac does a fine enough job, but you can't ever quite get past the fact that he's not Bill Murray. [10]

As for the movie, my guess is that when they decided to make a sequel they sat down and said, "We want it to be just like the first one, but with more of everything."

What they got was too much of everything.

The movie somehow loses the nostalgia feel completely.  John Forsythe is still there playing a small plastic box, but everything somehow seems less Charlie's Angels than before. [11]  The stunts are way too over the top and at times just downright stupid.  The fights are not nearly so well choreographed and at times you can practically see the wires. [12] And worst of all the plot is just stupid.

I mean really really stupid. [13]

Which really makes it no surprise that they never made a third one.

Charlie's Angels (2000): B
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003): D- 

[1] - Which is another way of saying that I didn't watch it much.
[2] - As opposed to vague impressions of the three main women being good looking, Bosley being kind of a dork, Charlie essentially being a box on a desk and of the quick sound they used for a scene change.
[3] - Which I pretty much assume is most everyone.  (Except for people who think freezing their bits off waiting for the water to warm up is a great way to start a shower.)
[4] - Which was actually in the theater, but I don't remember how or why I went to see it (as opposed to seeing something else).
[5] - Which given my lack of specific memories was impressive.
[6] - Don't get me wrong, I like Bill Murray.  But putting him in as Bosley meant Bosley becoming more front and center and let's face it, nobody was at the theater looking to see Bill.
[7] - And boy can that fellow get weird.  Anyone else remember that time on Letterman? "And I can kick."
[8] - I suppose the fact that Bill Murray evidently turned down the opportunity to be in the sequel should have been a red flag.
[9] - I said, 'some credit', not 'a lot of credit'.
[10] - Especially since they keep bringing it up.
[11] - Which is strange because they have a cameo by Jaclyn Smith, one of the original Charlie's Angels
[12] - Okay you can't actually 'see' the wires, but the laws of physics make their presence undeniable.
[13] - Seriously bad stupid.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Oblivion: Having missed this film in the regular theater, the Pook and I just watched it at the cheap theater. [1]  It's one of those artsy sci-fi movies in the same way as Solaris [2].

With out spoiling anything, Tom Cruise and his co-worker/girl friend are the last two people on earth.  They are doing some last minute 'care-taking' before getting sent off world to go Titan to rejoin the rest of humanity.  Only, it turns out that nearly everything that precedes this sentence in this paragraph is a lie.  Seriously, there isn't anything there that turns out to be true. [3]

Among those falsehoods, is the fact that there are other humans on the planet, one of which is Morgan Freeman.  And if he's in a movie it has to at least be decent.  Right?

[One quick check of later.]

Okay, so he was in the giant stinker "Dreamcatchers", but hey nobody's perfect.

Anyway, back to Oblivion.

The pacing of the movie is a little slow. [4] And a lot of the revealed surprises, aren't that surprising. And the whole movie has a little bit of a flavor of every other similar sci-fi movie you've ever seen.  Which doesn't lend itself to standing out as a great movie.  But in the end, despite all of that and one part of the ending that is a part of movie endings that generally makes me not like those types of movies, I still rather enjoyed the whole thing. [5]

Oblivion: B

[1] - Not sure why that fact is relevant or noteworthy, but there you go.
[2] - The remake w/ Clooney, not the original.
[3] - Including the first sentence.  Sorry about that.
[4] - Like Solaris.
[5] - fwiw, the Pook said she'd rather have watched it at home where she could have done something
else at the same time.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Pook's Awesomeness, by way of my Birthday

So as you have undoubtedly already been told by FB, it's my birthday.

But this isn't about that.

Instead it's about how awesome the Pook is.

You might be asking how old I am. [1]

But that's not what you should be asking.

Instead you should be asking, what does a lucky fellow like me get as presents from such a wonderful girl.  Well here's a list:

- Dominion: Dark Ages Expansion
- A Dremmel rotary tool
- A pull up bar [2]
- And the following DVD's [3]
  - Apollo 13
  - Platoon [4]
  - Stand By Me
  - Expendables
  - The A-Team
  - Brian Regan: Standing Up
  - Penn & Teller's BS, Season 1

Two things to note about that list.

First, it's awesome. [5]

Second, it contains no clothing.


My Wife: A+++++++++++

[1] - 43
[2] - I asked for this.  We'll see how well it goes.  There will probably be a post in the future.  Assuming my arms still work.
[3] - Which were technically also from the Bear.  And I suppose the Bean by proxy.
[4] - I know, it's embarrassing that I didn't already own a copy.
[5] - But then that was obvious

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nothing to Envy

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (by Barbara Demick).

Imagine a world akin to 1984, Logan's Run or Brave New World.  The government controls everything.  Life is hard and often short.  Brain washing is so common and prevalent that it isn't even really commented on by the population in general.  There isn't enough food and what food there is is often plain and unexciting.  Not that the populace knows that their lives are odd or different, because they've no basis of comparison.

Outside of this dystopia lies a world where none of that is true.  People are free.  Life is full of fun and possibility.  The only brainwashing is advertising and you are free to ignore it.  There's an abundance of food and it comes in a multitude of varieties and flavors.

However, the people in the government controlled section aren't upset that they are being denied, because they don't know anything about the other places.  They think everywhere is as bad or worse than where they are.

Now realize that you don't have to imagine this dreary, oppressive world.  Because it exists right now.  It is called North Korea.

Nothing to Envy was compiled from several people who defected from North Korea.  Their stories have been woven together to create a tale that is at times so hard to believe you have to assume it is fantastical fiction.  At other times it is so sad and depressing you can't believe that such a reality can be allowed to exist.  Finally, it is so scary that it does exist and there isn't much anyone can do about it.

Sure if the people of North Korea rose up to overthrow their government, there would be plenty of help from the outside world, but they are so brainwashed and unaware of the outside world that it would never occur to them that they either could rise up or that they should.

Even if you are someone who typically doesn't read or even really like non-fiction, I encourage you to give this one a try.  Page after page is filled with stories that literally amaze you and stun you at the same time.

I could give a hundred examples, but to do the book justice I would just be reprinting the book here.  So instead, I'll just give three and hopefully that will encourage you enough to buy it yourself.

1) North Koreans are not allowed to hang anything on the walls of their homes.  Because every family is given a picture of the current leader to hang and nothing else is allowed to compete with that picture.  In addition they are all given a special white cloth that is to be used for nothing other than cleaning the picture that they were given.  Further, there are special police who come to your house for surprise inspections to make sure that the picture is hung.  It is the only thing hung.  And that it is completely spotless.

2) The North Koreans all believe that the Japanese and the Americans are evil and out to get them.  They are brainwashed from birth and have no reason to believe otherwise.  School begins every day with a lesson in communism, but the indoctrination doesn't end there.  All of the lessons from reading to math also contain and reinforce these ideas.  For instance the average math problem would never be what is 8-3?  Instead it is "You are walking home with 8 apples.  A Japanese soldier steals 3 of them.  How many apples do you have left.  Another example is that one of the most popular rhymes that small children sing as often as American children sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" is a song that talks about growing up to join the military so that you can kill lots of Americans.

3) The lack of food in North Korea is astounding.  The average North Korean man is something like six inches shorter than his South Korean counterpart, simply because of malnutrition.  When the one lady in the book defects to China, she sneaks into a building to hide for the night.  There she sees a bowl of food full of rice, fish and other things sitting on the floor.  It is more food than she has seen or eaten in months.  Then when she hears growling, she realizes it is food left out for the dog.

The book was completely enthralling from the first page to the last.  At a time when Kim Jong Un is threatening to attack at any moment, it is an interesting way to see what the average North Korean's life is like and to get a bit of a glimpse into the crazy mind of the men who have been leading their country down the road to ruin.

Nothing to Envy: A+

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Long Lavender Look

The Long Lavender Look: Having read a lot of non-fiction [1] and heavier fiction [2], my mind was aching for something lighter and simpler.  So I dove back into familiar waters and read another in the Travis McGee series.

This one started out in a way that made me think I was not going to like it much.  Travis and Meyer end up stuck in a town halfway between nowhere and the swamp.  All of the characters looked to be the Florida equivalent of swamp people and I was not too excited.

Except that in the time it took me to make that discernment, I had read another page or two and MacDonald had me hooked.  I read the whole thing in three sittings and in the middle sitting I only read about fifteen pages.

The story is about small town people who live near the swamp in Florida, but the story doesn't actually go into the swamp and while some of the characters had clearly been there a time or two, MacDonald doesn't wallow in it. [3]

There's murder and unsolved crimes and the requisite "love" interest. [4]  Drugs, solicitation, misdirection and the hiding of a dead body.  Everything you'd want from the tale.

At a couple of points near the end the writing got a shade to "implying" the action and less "telling" the action. [5]  And the ending was kind of rushed in the way MacDonald endings sometimes are.  Sort of like he either was tired of the tale or had hit a page limit and decided to wrap it up quick.  But neither of those things can keep me from saying I was thoroughly engaged and very much enjoyed it.

So much so that I'm going to start the next in the series as soon as I post this.

The Long Lavender Look: A-

[1] - If you're lucky I'll write about it.
[2] - If I'm lucky I'll finish it.
[3] - Like Reality TV would have.
[4] - Such as they go with McGee naturally
[5] - Of course it is just as likely that I was tired.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cryptic #2

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  Life is always busy and is even more so currently because of extra-curriculars.  And while this is technically a post, it probably isn't what you were looking for.

Anyone who cares to attempt solving it will be appreciated.  Please let me know of any errors and if you get stuck and need a hint or two, I'll be glad to help out.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Didn't Want to Go Here, But You Made Me

I'm not sure how this post is going to end or even where I'm going to go in the middle, but I do know what started it.

Facebook started it.

Or more specifically, reading through the posts on FB by people who either clearly never took a civics/government class in high school or more likely paid no attention while they were in it and/or have simply forgotten what little they did learn.

I have to admit that I'm going a little afield of the stuff I usually post about.  This is not going to be rant on some movie, book or random food that I recently ate.  Instead I'm putting my foot in where I should probably not tread and I'm going to talk about politics.  But the completely stupid things that I see otherwise reasonable people posting is driving me up the wall.

Before you start predisposing yourself to disliking what I'm saying, let me get this out of the way.

I am not a democrat.

I am not a republican.

Instead, I'm one of those (evidently) rare people who actually looks at the issues and the candidates and then picks the best match for the job.

And if you just responded to that sentence by saying, "That's what I do too!  And the best candidate is always a [insert your political party here]" then think again.  Both parties have had their share of wonderful, brilliant people and both have had their share of dolts.

Anyway, back to where we were before, with you driving me up the wall with the stupid reposts of fundamentally retarded posts.  And if it looks like this rant is starting to lean a bit to the left, that's only because those of you on the right have lately been hogging the spotlight shouting out to everyone trying to prove your ignorance.

Let's start with this bunch of geniuses.

And while were at it let's throw in all the memes, pictures, posts and other FB flotsam and jetsam in the same vein.

Obama is the worst president ever?


And what are you basing that on?

Because it is clearly not your extensive knowledge of U.S. History.

Spending two minutes reading about Warren Harding and then get back to me.

Now I am by no means saying Obama is the greatest president ever.  He wouldn't even make the top ten.  But let's be realistic.  By any reasonable measurable test he wouldn't make the bottom ten either.  Not even close.

Again, go spend a few minutes alone in a closet with a book about the 43 presidents.  Then get back to me.  [1]

I think through a little arguing, debate and compromise we could probably agree that currently he's pretty solidly in the middle of the pack.  [2]

The new round of FB nonsense posts will inevitably be about the sequester. [3]  I've already seen one that has a banner essentially blaming Obama because the average American now has less money.

Again, go read a government textbook.  I bet probably has a Government for Dummies or something. I'll wait.  [4]



Okay, did you notice the part about the three branches and separation of powers?

Go back and reread that part.  In particular look and see if says anything about who in our government spends the money and who sets the taxes.  It'll probably use some phrases like 'appropriations bill' and 'revenue bill'.  Go ahead.  I'll wait again.


Did you find it?

In case you were having trouble locating it, I'll go ahead and spell it out for you here.

It's Congress.

That's the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In other words the Legislative Branch of the government.

More importantly, it's not the Executive Branch.

Also known as the President.

So, if you find that your paycheck is suddenly short a few or even a lot of dollars, or perhaps completely gone because of government budget cuts, then the people to blame number 535 and not 1.

Perhaps some of the more astute of you kept reading in the book and got through the part on checks and balances.  And now you're throwing back at me that the President actually is involved because he can veto anything he doesn't like.

I might even agree with you IF, and this is a big if, IF Congress had actually passed something that he vetoed.

But they haven't.  In fact, the sequester happened because Congress continues to do what it's been doing for the last four years.  Which is essentially, "nothing".

It's no defense to say, "Yes, but if they did Obama would just veto it."  Well, if that did happen then you could rightfully blame him.  But blaming him because he might do something, if Congress ever actually tried to do something is like saying your not going to apply for a job because they might not hire you, or your not going to ask out the girl you like because she might say no or your not going to turn on the light switch because the bulb might burn out.

Give it shot!  It might work!  If it doesn't then you have a gripe.  Before then, you're just somebody that never bothered to try to do anything.

And let's be clear that this isn't a problem with just the Republicans or the Democrats.  It's both.

Neither party is willing to compromise at all.  And so instead of trying things that might be solutions, they stand around arguing while the house burns down around us.

Oh No!  I've once again used that dirty "C" word.


It's seems to me that lately, both parties feel like compromising at all is akin to death. [5]

Check that book again, this country was founded on compromise.

And if you just responded to that by saying something along the lines of, "No it wasn't!  This country was created by people standing up for what they know was right and then laying down their lives to make sure that happened", let me fill in a few blanks for you.

First of all, after the Revolutionary War [6] we created a country based directly on the ideas that they were fighting for and guess what?  It didn't work.

It was called the Articles of Confederation.

Then when it became clear that the Articles weren't going to work, we scrapped them and wrote the Constitution.

And then we immediately compromised to get it ratified.

Go ahead, check that book again.  Look for the part about the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.  I'll wait.


You done?

See those two groups were essentially our first political parties.

And they couldn't agree. [7]

The one side wanted this.  The other wanted that.  It was a mess.

But then, after a lot of discussion and debate, they Compromised. [8]

To get that new Constitution ratified, the Federalist gave the Anti-Federalist some of what they wanted so that the Federalist could get what they wanted.

What did the Federalist want?

The Anti-Federalist to sign on to the Constitution.

What did they give the Anti-Federalist?

Not much, except the Bill of Rights.

So when the Republicans say that they aren't going to budge.

And the Democrats say that they won't give in.

It just makes me want to sigh and tell them both to remove their heads from their . . . [9]

Okay, I seem to be losing steam here.  I could go spend a few more minutes on FB and get riled up again, but it's late and I'm tired.

I'm not sure what you'll take away from this post, but if it is anything hopefully it's something like this:

Don't post and/or repost political nonsense that you really have no idea about.  Especially when, if you did have some idea, you wouldn't be posting it.

Better yet, in all seriousness go buy a book or two and read up about our government.  You might find two or three [10] of other Compromises we've made along the way as well.

Seems like it might be time for another.

[1] - Someone out there is currently saying, "Shows what he knows.  Obama's the 44th president."  My response: Yes genius, but Cleveland served twice.  So if you want to read the chapter on him twice be my guest.
[2] - Granted in four years he could have moved substantially in either direction and in twenty years some of the longer reaching effects of his actions and policies might move him further.  But how about let's wait for some evidence.
[3] - If you don't know what that is, then why are you posting about Obama making you poorer?
[4] - A quick search of Amazon finds several.  If you aren't comfortable calling yourself a dummy.  There's an idiots guide to government as well.
[5] - Seems like not compromising might just get the country there quicker.
[6] - During which a lot of people did lay down their lives for their beliefs.
[7] - Sound similar?
[8] - Big 'C' intentional.
[9] - Well, you know.
[10] - Or 50 or 400 or who knows maybe even thousands