Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fast food pranks you can play

precious bucket   There is never more than 1 person in my town KFC when I am in there, but there is always one, taking a long time at the counter so that I have time to stand there and think of how silly it is to succumb to a KFC craving now and again, and inventing reasons to justify my standing there.

They also have a disproportionate amount of food cooked and ready to be served, to the 2 of us who are going to come in the entire day.  Ours is a KFC/Taco Bell store, a pairing I have never understood, but no less than (say) Pizza Hut/D’Angelos.  Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins.  Brangelina.

Once, on my way to a party, I stopped in for a party box 'o’ wings, which they do sell – 20 of them for 14.99.  I asked for 2 orders and the kid behind the counter said, “we don’t have that many.”  I said, “It’s on your menu,” pointing to it, to show him where it hangs.  From where I am standing, I can see a full banquet of chicken in all of the Col’s recipes.  I bet I could find 40 wings in there.  I said, “It’s ok if you mix them up,” and he said, “No, he could not do that.”  Sometimes Dunkin Donuts will tell you that can’t fill a Box of Joe, which menu item is entirely their idea, but they will gladly sell you a gallon of ice cream.

Today, I went in for just a 5-box, because I had justified to myself that it would feel like eating a lot of KFC without really doing so.  The popcorn chicken will serve this purpose, too, because there is no chicken in there. You must realize that.

The menu (still right there…point) offer 5 wings for something like 4.99deer in headlights in branded sauce names like “hot,” “b-que” and “extra sticky.”  I asked… stay with me on this one… could I get 5 original recipe wings. 

Counter lady punched the cash register buttons in a purposeless way, like I move my cursor around while running a Webex.  Buying time.  She pointed at the menu – it is such a helpful gesture – and said, “those are… hot… or buffalo.”  I said, “Could I get 5 of the original recipe?”  Now I point at the racks of chicken behind her, somehow already made by 12:30 on a Saturday.  “It’s not the same price,” she says.

How much is it?  Of course, you would ask.  There is nothing else for them to do until the next person comes in behind me while I am taking too long at the counter.  It comes to over $8, and I say “that’s crazy,” but in a way that includes her as a partner in my surprise.  We’re working people; we know that’s crazy.  Ri-i-i-i-ght…?

Never mind that.  I switch to breast and wing, which the menu lists as a meal.  And I say, “can I get just the chicken?”  And she says to the cash bemused spockregister, “It’s better if you get the meal.”  for whoooom….

While she is ringing it up, I ask, “Why is there such a difference in price? You’ve already cooked them.”
“Those are really small,” she says, and makes a little OK with her finger and thumb.
“That’s interesting,” I say.  (No, isn’t.)  “Because you would think chicken wings would all be the same size.”
She shrugs and mumbles, “No, those are…” voice trails.
“Not really wings,” I say, with an intelligent nod. 

They can’t wait to get me out of there.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The margarine wars


#34 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true. 

Why buy the cow when butter can be made in the lab?

Margarine was not new in the 1970s, but brand loyalty to commodities like milk, meat, fruit juice, and “spreads” was.  And clever advertising was definitely at its peak.

Enter the margarine gimmicks, presented here for your diversion.  Spread yourself a big Premium ® Saltine thick with it and enjoy.

Flavor:  Imperial was “fit for a King.”  Packed in the gold foil box,imperial its flavor made a crown appear on your head on the first bite.  This was a delight because your Libber of a wife couldn’t cook anything properly, and you needed processed food to choke it down.  Sadly, the crown never fit properly. 

Camouflage:  It is not at all nice to fool mother chiffonnature.  If she had wanted you to eat vegetable oil, she would have churned it for you.  More to the point, she wasn’t so annoyed that you were eating it, as she was that you had made her do so.

Parka-a-a-y would also fool you.  No, Parkay would taunt you.  In an eraparkay when your kitchen was cluttered with spokes-characters commenting on your cooking, this little gaslighting bastard was bipolar before bipolar was cool.  Shortly after this scene, Mel told Parkay to Stow It.

Consistency:  Soft, soft, soft.  A generation into refrigeration, we had become obsessed with chilled food, but dosh-garn blue bonnetit, you can’t spread cold butter!  It’s not really butter’s fault; we had engineered bread so soft you could roll it into a ball.


Healthy:  0% Cholesterol.  The link between heart attack and cholesterol was put forth in the 1970s when it was discovered that Eskimos had no fleishmansword for it.  A sure-sell technique was to put out there that your product had no cholesterol.  It was the Gluten-free of its day.  And of course vegetable oil has no cholesterol. Our love affair with corn byproduct was born.   This is Fleishmann’s – by the logic of this ad, a perfect substitute for Italian food.

I have to throw this commercial in, though it clearly pre-dates the 1970s – Mrs R had left us by 1962 – but this was such a bizarre find I have to share.  WHO left someone name a food “Good Luck.”  “Well… here’s some kind of spread.  Good Luck.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Plants as pets for people who would kill theirs



  I made myself a promise (threat) that the next remotely nice day (not hot or cold, but ok it could be raining) that I was not doing anything (couldn’t make up an excuse) I would repot the plants.


The only thing label I deserve less than plant-owner (or maybe homeowner.  Employee.  Pet-owner.  parent… what were we talking about….?  close parentheses

I have 3 plants.  All over the house.  2 I inherited from a former roommate and the 3rd I bought on a whim to prove I was the kind of person who could adorn her home and her sphere of care-giving with plants.  That one is usually completely dead, but I can’t bring myself to throw out the 2 yespots of it.  The other I did rescue from dead about a dozen years ago where it had been left to make the best of it on the back porch.

It is one of these – whatever they are --  

but it looks like this


“This tree needs you indeed.”  This tree needed the compassion of the Oregon state legislature.

It has grown to several versions of itself, spindly trunk and all, in pots that sit on the floor around the house because I can’t figure out how plants are supposed to work.  When they look like they are dying, I water them.  In exchange, they probably exhale sulfur dioxide.

The 3rd plant is a tree of unknown quality that I took off this same roommate when she downsized/upscaled into the city.  It was so unhappy in my house, it required raking after.  And this recent weekend I decided to cut it back, an effort which quickly turned into “oh the hell with it.”  I chopped it to smithereens and put it on the curb.  I kept the pot.  Why throw out the bathwater with the baby?    Flower_Pot_Baby_Small12

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Conspiracy Theory

The hardest part of forming a conspiracy theory, as it turns out, it identifying motive.  But I am certain there is something being Ruffles hoarding, and I intend to get to the bottom of it.

It’s a 2-part question, really – neither of which is listed on the Frito-Lay page as one of the “most common questions.” 

1 – why aren’t plain original Ruffles in the vending machine?

2 – why aren’t they included in the lunch-box package?

After those 2, the questions involve Masonry, the Opus Dei, and other variety-pack-logogeneral rantings from my tin hat.  But here’s what I want you to know, Frito-Lay:  I am much more likely to buy a big bag of 12 individually bagged Ruffles than I am the $3.99 family size back.  But you won’t make it.  whyyyyyy?  

With a lot of people, it’s Ruffles or nothing.”  I am not joey-wears-all-of-chandlers-clothesone of those people.  But I do prefer it to other chips, and leaps-and-bounds over heinous Ruffles flavors like Molten Buffalo Wing, or Salt & Vinegar, or that weird Canadian flavor “All-Dressed.”  I haven’t tried any of those, but I come from a time when we invented dip specifically because our food had no flava.

Vending machine stockers (not stalkers – that’s me, apparently) prefer the Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles in the rack.  This is just Kraft Dinner powder sprinkled over the original.  The variety pack will sometimes have (1) Ruffles bag just to give you something to make a teachable sibling rivalry moment out of.  And you will never find a full bag of only Ruffles 1 oz’rs.  EXCEPT.. it seems… at Sam’s.wal1

aHA!  How could I have left the Walton family out of my list of conspirators?!? 

Two more searches later, and I can report that you can also score the box of 50 through Amazon, and (oddly) Sears.  Not Walmart.  They seem to be specializing in the other flavors.  See them all in one view here.  It’s mind boggling.

I also enjoyed knowing that Ruffles have an outstanding No Taboos rating, which really out to be a thing. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dream a little dream of mii


You never really see yourself until you see yourself in a friend’s Wii Plaza

mii plaza

You never really see your friends until you watch them make your Mii (which really ought to be your Yuu).  But let’s get past it.

In a short span of time, I got to witness this in 2 very different households, and was surprised to discover how similar this process could be in both – and how identically creepy it made me feel.

I should add that in one of these households, I was being re-added, after having been removed.  re… MOVED.  This is like coming off the Christmas card list, surely, since you don’t need to actually be playing for your Mii to show up driving the speed boat or cheering on the beach Frisbee. (registered trademark of the Wham-o company).  You are part of the action!  So be removed from the Wii plaza is to no longer c-o-u-n-t.  It might have hurt my feelings if I had known it was going on.

One’s plaza can also include “celebrity Miis,” representations of stars, sports figures, fictional characters with whom your Mii can partner or Jodiicompete.  People with a lot of Internet time post instructions for how to make them.  They are surprisingly accurate, considering the limited number of variables you have at your control. 


Mii creation requires the use of the remote, and any home has a remote holder and a not-the-remote holder.  But just like when watching TV, the not-the-remote holder is much more vocal about their wishes than the one who holds it.  (They would have to be.)  Imagine this as Vermeer’s wife:  “Less BLUE!  And hurry up.”  They will shout instructions that are mostly unheeded by the portraitist.  You will just sit there and watch your closest friends argue over your caricature.

We have covered in this space before how you can put glasses on any cartoon and make it look like me.  Where it goes from there depends on your portraitist.  But I can tell you based on my 2 Mii-sessions in a week, that this is what you can expect:

A lot of back-and-forth staring at you.  When they glance back at you, you will do a goofy smile.  Or you will jut your chin out as if it makes you somehow more 3-D.

Drosophila_eye_colorsDiscussion of your eye-color.  You will discover that your friends do not know what color your eyes are, and neither do you (even the 2nd time you are asked).  In any case, Wii only has a few options, like Mendel’s chart.

Height is subjective.  Miis are essentially bobble-head dolls.  You would have to make one the size of the TV screen for the head to make sense.  People seem to like their plaza in a pleasing symmetrical array, so expect to be unrealistically the same size as other people you know – in this digital Noah’s Ark, Tom Cruise finally gets to stand tall beside Nicole Kidman.   Ticole

Your hands are little balls.  That’s not your hosts’ fault.  It’s just weird.

Body “morphia” is also in the hands of the designer.  They will not look at you as they make this choice, so you can let out your breath.

Facial hair is funny.  They will put some on you even though you are a girl. 

“whatever.”  They will ask what color you want to wear.  They all look like Up with People costumes.  Say any color.  The artist will indulge your choice for a second, say “whatever” and choose something else.

You will still suck at Wii.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yes, I want to be writing

Yes, I have a list of topics I have been thinking about (LISTS!).  It's right over there.  I can only reach this far.

It is Friday and I have the day off today.  You would think it would be a grand opportunity to catch up on the list -- on this the first cold day of the season (too early by a mile) and the house (fairly) clean for a moment -- not because of anything I've done, but because I haven't done anything.  Including hand up the unmentionables drying on the landing.

The neighbor just came by, all full of home-owner zeal about putting gutters on the back roof to stop the cascading that is growing mushrooms on her deck, but not mine --- and frankly, she would like to know why.  But I agreed that I would partner with her on mold if she will partner with me on mice, and damned if she didn't get the maintenance team to agree they could occlude the foundation.

So that might have been worth getting out of bed for, where I was lying like Amanda K Plummer (look it up) and wondering how long I could linger there before I need to leave for the annual visit to a fully lab-coated medical professional whose best advice tends to be "you need to fu**in' relax."  I have missed another opportunity to lose 30 pounds before this appointment.

It is a to be a gorgeous fall weekend; unfortunately, I have summer events planned.  But a day in Fenway is a day in Fenway, and that's why baseball players wear 2 shirts.

These diversions should keep me from working, but be advised that the next 30 days will bury me Parents' Weekend style after being stabbed in the back by 2 co-shirkers (which I can't write about either) and I have to pick up their mess of Legos and make a theme park out of it.

If you have come here looking for my rant about why  plain Ruffles are never in the vending machine, a pondering of why I bother to own plants, a retrospective of the 1970s Margarine Wars, or an expose on the game Heroica -- which a 7 year old can play, but not me... you'll have to come back.  Something may happen in this space; something may not.  But I think I can't use my few off hours to sit in front of another computer.

Saturday, September 3, 2011




The trouble with working in the suburban office park is that there is no watering hole you can reasonably count on for after-work bitching, unwinding… performing of “numbers…”

That’s probably for the best.

The place across the street from where we work is very much a chain, and very much a family spot after hours (the very poor pre-op Tranz at the bar last night aside) and in fact the whole town is a mass of post-shopping mall watered down drinks, faux antiques on the walls and “death by…” on the dessert menu.

I said, “where do the locals go?”  And we went in search of a bar bar.

Well, not a noir bar, but somewhere nobody would know our names, and the drinks would have drink in them.


I was not expecting to wingman – we weren’t even paying attention to our surroundings, more mesmerized by Reba McIntyre on the “CMT Pure” video screen, and the mystery of her lost upper lip.

Study that here.  Weird, right?

We flirt with the hardest-workin’ waitress in Bill’rica, ask her how her week is and throw on some accent – because she’s our age and looks like our moms.  She calls us “dee-ah;” we call her “hun.”  Flo_Taking_Order

So when my friend excuses herself to the ladies, and Joe Bag ‘o Donuts crosses the room to our table, I honestly expected him to be borrowing the ketchup.  We were suddenly Hot in Cleveland.

“How ya doin’ – I gotta ast ya.  Is yaw friend single?”

This is not insulting at all, by the way.  I know my role in bars.  I’ve been wingman to lovelier catches since my first boyfriend used to flirt with the shoe salesmen.  Always a Pink lady, never Stephanie.  (Notice how I picked Grease 2.  Also never the A team, me)


  I wasn’t prepared with my best lines, and not enough Pabsts-es in to be creative.  I said, “I don’t… really know…”

This he did not believe, by the Larry David face he gave me.  I tried to recover: “It’s an off-again, on-again thing.”

“Well, she’s very attractive,” he says, as if I grew her.  As if she is a #9 Pocket.  As if we bought her off the Seattle Mariners.  He is a big guy, workin’ man size, with a sox cap over his certainly bald head and a sox jersey over his pocket T.  Which is weird because what we are watching is pre-season Patriots.

“I’ll let her know you said so.”  I say, and he goes back to his place behind the bar where he can see and not be seen from behind the tap-pulls.  He never does come back over and make his move, because I never leave the table.  Lisa has promised (she never threatens) to tell him that I am into him so she’s going to back off if I leave her alone in his sights.  Instead he checks his phone for several hours, then picks another hunting spot.

We move outside after the DJ gets too loud (and anachronistic).  Outside you have to transfer your drink to plastic because the road is right in front of the deck, with a view of the local packy, which we decide is selling drugs after a number of pick-ups pull up and little bad-asses run in and out without anything in their hands.

At the end of the deck some good old girls smoke loudly and disagree “No SUH!” on something of no importance.  And a guy named Mike (because they are all named Mike) “asts” us if we are from around here.  Lisa, in corporate fleece, cops to “we work down the road,” which I think is actually Raytheon but does give us some cred.  He is a thousand.  Or 50.  Who can tell.

We stay until the mosquitos and the threat of karaoke drive us out (because Lisa really  doesn’t “threaten”) and admit that we got what we were looking for (down to the great burger), but we should probably not become too regular.  We might be in over our heads.