Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pork Donut: A Triumph of the Human Spirit

That, my friends, is a chocolate donut (with sprinkles!) split in two and stuffed with bacon, tomatoes, and it looks like there's some ketchup smeared on there as well. Seriously, I don't know whether to barf times a million or start a religion devoted to worshiping marble statues carved in it's image.

Either way, I fucking have to try this. It is my destiny.


via the incredibly funny Cake Wrecks

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Morning Hodgepodge

First up, some art appreciation...

"All Drunks Go To Heaven"

This was sent to ZFS! headquarters (my apartment) by long-time commenter, friend of the blog, and Rock n' Roll SuperJesus, Lioux, who created it using techno-science during what must have been either a moment of divine inspiration, or a mind-melting freak out brought on by huffing spray paint out of a White Castle sack. Either way, I think we can all agree that this is the finest piece of Photoshopped art ever created and it should be hung, at minimum, in a very sad, very dark bar.

Also, by reading these words, you've legally bound yourself to make this image your desktop photo for the next year or until your significant other leaves you for having a creepy man-baby angel fetish, whichever comes first. I'm sorry, I don't make the rules. (I totally make the rules; fuck your happiness)
Last night, I watched American Idol, followed by the premier of Hell's Kitchen, and then I capped the evening off with a new episode of Ace of Cakes, after which I promptly fell asleep listening to a rerun of Iron Chef. This all-reality line up of television tells you everything you need to know about me as a person. To wit:
American Idol - I really enjoy watching people worse off than me, however I also like hard-luck stories about people who's parents died and now they just want to sing because they think their songs will penetrate the atmosphere and their dead parents will hear them up in Heaven and fly back down on angel wings to give them one last hug. Shit like that gets me EVERY TIME. Also, you know when the people get sent through to Hollywood and they burst out the doors with the golden ticket and their families all go apeshit and the producers crank up whatever shitty Hoobastank song is playing and everyone cries? I cry along with them about 85% of the time. Basically, what I'm saying is... yes... of course I like to watch the dregs of society have their dreams smashed, but I'm also a total pussy who just wants people to succeed and be happy.
Hell's Kitchen - Gordon Ramsey reminds me a of a British version of an old football coach of mine who was literally the scariest person I'd ever met when I was fifteen. It was rumored that he (my football coach) was an ex-Navy Seal and one time he lifted me up with one arm and carried me around the field to prove a point; I forget what the point was, exactly, but I'll always remember it as being something along the lines of "Clinton is a sissy girl who's fear-peeing down his football coach's back." Anyway, watching Hell's Kitchen helps me face my fears and get over these long-standing traumas that have held me back all these years. On an entirely different level, it's fun to watch Gordon Ramsey yell at fuck-ups because he swears creatively and I appreciate that. The food, incidentally, has never... not once... mattered on Hell's Kitchen. It's all incidental; a medium to further instigate screaming fits, threats of violence, and... yes... additional master classes in the swearing arts. I have to respect a show that's ostensibly about food, but then isn't at all, ever.
Ace of Cakes - My enjoyment of this show kind of ties in with part of why I like American Idol. There is no drama whatsoever in Ace of Cakes; it's entirely a show about creative and talented people just trying to do a good job. That's it; that's the whole premise. And it's executed brilliantly because... they always do a good job!!! Okay, sure, every once in a while someone will spill food coloring on a cake, or some fondant will crack and they'll have to do an emergency repair job or something like that but... no matter what... skill and ingenuity always win the day and when the credits roll, everyone is smiling and best friends with each other and the viewer can go to sleep comforted that everything is a-okay in this crazy world of ours. I crave shows where it all works out in the end, and that can be extrapolated outward until you get to my true feelings on how I want the world to work. Ace of Cakes proves that I'm eternally an optimist, if perhaps a shockingly naive one who doesn't understand that the show's producer just edits out all the (many, I'm sure) times when things went wrong and they screamed at each other and one dude tried to cut another dude with a big, serrated cake knife. I want badly for my life to be edited like a pleasant reality show on the Food Network, I guess. Also, I would enjoy some cake.
Iron Chef - I really love food and wish that people would battle it out to prepare me food and then I could eat the food and judge them on the quality of their food and eventually pick a Food Champion who would then have to make me more food. This is my dream and one day it will be so.
Yesterday, while coming home from having lunch with a friend in the city, I saw the fattest policeman I've ever seen. He was SO FAT. I'm not a skinny dude by any means, as I've stated many times, but seriously... this guy made me look like a prima ballerina or a runway model in the 90s or like popular cartoon character Olive Oyl.
Think about that for a second; roll it around in your mind and tell me it does not boggle. How does he chase after criminals without his heart exploding ? Does he own an NYPD-approved Rascal? When he goes undercover, does he disguise himself as a building? Does he keep slices of ham in the pocket where his handcuffs are supposed to be? Ugh... so many questions! I should have talked to the fat cop when I had the chance, chubby-to-chubby. Instead, I just stared... gaped, really... contemplating all the various ways in which he was both literally and metaphorically a pig.
NOTE: All due respect to cops in general, of course. Haha... we're all buddies here! Don't arrest me! I'll never survive in jail! I'll be traded for cigarettes and made to perform burlesque shows at dinner! Horrible, horrible burlesque shows...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Top Chef: New York - Episode 10

Previously on Top Chef...

Restaurant Wars! Gross hook-ups! Radhika leaves us to not cook (but totally cook) Indian food elsewhere!


-I was noisily eating popcorn during the opening minutes of this episode, so correct me if I'm wrong, but did Bravo censor the word "shit," but NOT censor the word "shat?" And not just once, but a couple of times? Because I'm pretty sure there was a lot of un-bleeped "shats" flying around and that's a weird double-standard to have. (don't ask me why the contestants were talking about shit; I was focused on my popcorn)

-It appears that the whole "Hosea and Leah made out OMG" series low-point debacle has finally been put to rest. (Fingers crossed) This, however, does not make we want to punch them both in the face as hard as I can any less. They are whatever the plural of douche is, times a million, superpowered by toxic waste.

-Fabio, bitching about being an adult who has to sleep in a "bunky bed" was fantastic. Give this guy a spin-off because foreigners are hilarious! He's like if Fez from That 70s Show could cook.


I'm going to go ahead and call this as this best episode of the season so far. Lots of shit going on, challenges that were new and exciting, some interesting contestant interactions... it really felt like everything was firing on all cylinders FOR FUCKING ONCE. Sure, I have some quibbles... we'll get there, my children... but, overall, this was the very best end-to-end hour (and fifteen minutes) of engaging television Top Chef: New York has given us. Producers: Keep doing this; it didn't make me want to throw my cat at the TV.


I know that I've been Mr. Anti-Product Placement this season and, well, that hasn't really changed. HOWEVER, with the introduction of the Quaker Oats Quickfire Challenge, I have to admit that I'm kind of on board... just this once... with the concept. Why? Hang on... first, let me tell you what the QC was all about.

As it's football season (here and now, as opposed to when this was shot, but I'm not getting into why that's irritating for the millionth time), the contestants are presented with a chalkboard all done up like an office "squares" betting pool. After they've all picked their square, the food group they've chosen... nuts & grains, vegetables, dairy, etc... will be revealed, along with the key ingredient they have to use. It's all sort of needlessly complicated, which is a running theme this episode, but it boils down to this: The chefs have to cook oats. QUAKER oats. As Quaker is paying for all this shit.

But here's why I'm okay with Quaker Oats demanding the chefs cook with their product... cooking with oats is hard. Seriously. You can make oatmeal with it, and you can make oatmeal cookies with it (side note: yum), and... that's about it. So even though it's another egregious example of product placement and that's a vile, terrible thing with claws and it's all slimy... I'm going to let it slide this week because, hey, anything that spices up this season by making the chefs sweat a little is a-okay in my book.

Anyway, the contestants get their oats on. There's a lot of crusting going on, that's for sure... as in, fish crusted with oats, tofu crusted with oats (and... a-BARF), eggplant crusted with oats. Some other people did stuff with oats, too, but I don't take notes so... let's just say they either made oatmeal or oatmeal cookies.

In the end, Stefan wins for his oatmeal (or whatever) and we get lots of talking-head interviews with the other contestants about how much they want to shank Stephan in the shower. He's a jerk. Got it. Ya bunch of nerds.

We're past the point where contestants get immunity, but he DOES get a special advantage on the Elimination Challenge (these advantages are completely useless 9 times out of 10, fyi, and that is the case tonight).


Ooookay... I'm going to try to explain it as clearly as I can, but this challenge was a bit of a conceptual mess; there were many moving parts, a cast of thousands, and a point system that fell from outer space and made all of MIT go, "Huh?"

So... we're doing football this week? Okay, let's have a head-to-head challenge with "teams." One team will be our remaining contestants (they even get chef jackets with their names on the back; how cute) and the other team will consist of contestants from previous seasons who were out of work or otherwise available for a sixteenth minute in the spotlight. We'll call them "The Top Chef All-Stars," but only ironically, seeing as how all of these former contestants didn't exactly set their respective seasons on fire.

For the record, the returning "All-Stars" (a phrase that, when used to describe this collection of knuckleheads, will forever remain in quotes) are:

Miguel - The fat guy from Season 1 who everyone liked even though he's extremely off-putting and kind of dumb.

Andrea - The vegetarian chef from Season 1 who I don't really remember.

Josie - The contestant from Season 2 who's more famous for being the victim of a hate crime than she is for anything she did on the actual show.

Camille - The something from Season 3 who's something or maybe something else... I don't really know... she's kinda cute in a Bjork sort of way...

Nikki - The slightly leathery-looking Italian (as in Little Italy; not like Fabio is Italian) chef from Season 4 who made pasta for every challenge and then got sent home the one time she fucked it up.

Spike - The Season 4 contestant who actually made it to the final four in what history will one day recognize as the most spectacular example of failing upwards ever broadcast on televison.

Andrew - The complete spaz from Season 4 who started out hilarious and then, right before he was eliminated, you realized that he was actually a crazy person who might try to stab people and THAT'S probably why he was asked to go home. To wit: At one point during tonight's episode, he threatens to "pee on all [the current contestant's] bodies" as a manner of intimidation. Yikes.

The "All-Stars" all basically behave like morons throughout and it's pretty embarrassing. I feel bad for their parents.

Anyway, so each team is then further broken down into seven individual head-to-head battles. They'll be cooking dishes based on the regional cuisine of a given NFL football team. For example, Stefan gets to choose which NFL team he wants first, as well as which "All-Star" he wants to cook against (this was his QC prize)... he chooses the Dallas Cowboys (woo!) and Andrea. The remainder of the two teams huddle up and, amongst themselves, decide which NFL team they will each represent. They are paired off thusly and they begin their prep work for the next day's competition. Shit gets EVEN MORE muddled and screwy from there... there's a whole thing with scoring, where "touchdowns" and "field goals" are awarded and then some culinary students judge part of it, but not ALL of it, and the chefs do their cooking live in front of an audiance and... whatever... it was interesting to watch but not interesting to read about, so just imagine a football-themed cooking competition that's like a really sad version of Iron Chef and you've mostly got it. And I'm not going to get into who battled whom and what they cooked; seriously, you don't care (and also, this post would be three and a half years long). Besides, it's not really integral to the main thrust of the episode, which is this:

The team of our current contestants actually manages to eek out a win. Only by about six or seven points, but still... victory is victory, no matter how you slice it. However, I think they should consider themselves very lucky the producers couldn't get any of the... you know... GOOD contestants from past seasons to answer the phone. Or maybe that was the point all along; maybe they cherry-picked the weaker cast-offs in an effort to make THIS season not look like a bunch of clueless dipshits. Wouldn't surprise me.


The one rule of the challenge that did make sense: If you lose your head-to-head battle, you're automatically up for elimination. Seems fair. Only three chefs lost their battles and, in a wacky turn of events, it's WASN'T Carla, Leah, and/or Hosea (who all usually suck out loud). In fact, those cats are among the winners, along with Jamie. Carla ends up taking the whole challenge and she, predictably, freaks the fuck out and starts climbing the walls like if Spider-man was powered by pure craziness. Oh, for the record, she had picked the New Orleans Saints and, thus, made a 20-minute gumbo. I would have thought that was impossible, but apparently anything is within reach when your brain is from beyond the stars.

This of course means that our three strongest competitors... Stefan, Fabio, and Jeff... are on the bottom. A topsy-turvy world, Top Chef is.

Their various crimes:

Stefan... He picked Dallas, which apparently is an "in-your-face kind of city," at least according to Coliccio, and then made food that was kind of boring (I don't even remember what it was). He also gets called out for picking Andrea, because it was pretty clear he only picked her because he thought she'd be an easy knockout. He chose... poorly. Needless to say, the other contestants are THRILLED that Stephan has been knocked down a peg. However, he was never in any real danger; his food wasn't great, but it wasn't worse than the other two losers.

Fabio... He picked Green Bay, and that means venison (because they hunt there) and cheese (because they wear cheese on their heads in Wisconsin). His main issue was overcooking the meat... which... I'm pretty sure he's gotten called out for in the past. That AND undercooking meat. Dude needs to check himself before he wrecks himself with regards to protein cooking. He also made a really unappetizing salad with big flakes of cheese in it. THEN he argued with the guest judge... some cook guy, I don't know. It was amusing; arguing and passing blame is adorable when it's in a funny accent.

Jeff... As has been his problem with just about every challenge since the beginning of this season, he tried to do WAY too much. He picked Miami and, thus, made some sort of a faux-ceviche with a million different ingredients including a big blob of sangria-flavored sherbet or something. He really sunk himself with his defense of said dish, though; when the judges argued that his competitor's dish tasted better, he literally said, "yeah, but look at all the different techniques I used to create MY dish; mine was way more complicated than hers." The judges, naturally, responded with a hearty... um, yeah, but it didn't taste as good, dumbass.

In the end, this was enough to send him home. Yes, Jeff is gone... the seasonis now at least 60% less hunky. Honestly, I was surprised; it really seemed like Fabio's bags were already packed (openly fighting with the judges is never a good idea). Even he seemed shocked when his name wasn't called. Nonetheless, the Italian stallion lives to fight another day.

Next week on Top Chef...

Eric Ripert! Some sort of sludgy something! Frenchness!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Slow Day At DC Comics...

Granted, this is just a Jimmy Olsen book, as opposed to a proper Superman title, but still... marbles? Really? Things sure were different in the 60s, I guess. Not to mention extremely lame.

Friday the 13th: The Reimagination

In a couple of weeks, the latest in a long line of unnecessary horror remakes will hit the big screen. Friday the 13th, a classic of the horror genre, has been given the Platinum Dunes "reimagination" treatment and that sound you here is the collective wail of despair from a million nerds exhausted by the constant raping and pillaging of their fond, gory memories (I'll be joining them as soon as I finish typing this). The big question is... What's different? What has been changed or altered or outright excised in lieu of more scenes with a talking, wish-granting dog? Well, fear not my little lambies... the journalistic might of ZFS! has struck once again!!! Mightily!!! I actually think I've broken something. My knuckles are all purple.

Yes, my friends, I hold in my (one, good, unbroken) hand a bootleg copy of the Friday the 13th (2009) master print! Let's watch it now and survey the extent of the damage. Onward...

CHANGES MADE IN THE NEW FRIDAY THE 13TH; or, "My, Jason, what a lovely singing voice you have"

-Jason now attacks through a videotape, and only seven days after the victim watches it. He also makes use of cellphones, mirrors, grudges, and a bunch of other ghostly crap that all sort of looks the same. Jason is also now Asian.

-There seems to be a heavy emphasis on wacky sound effects; loud gongs, slide-whistles, cuckoo-clock chimes, and fart noises are placed indiscriminately throughout.

-Less slashing, more Slash.

-Due to budget issues, Jason's hockey mask is now just a paper plate with two eye holes cut out affixed to his head with a piece of string.

-A lengthy prologue explains that this is NOT the story of Jason Voorhees, the retarded child who drowned in a lake due to camp-counselor negligence and then came back to mete out bloody vengeance on teenagers everywhere. Apparently, THIS is the story of Jason Alexander, the popular actor who starred on TV's Seinfeld and has now come back to mete out bloody vengeance on teenagers everywhere.

-For cross-promotional synergy purposes, Jason chugs a Red Bull before every kill.

-In some theaters, Friday the 13th will be shown using fabulous 2D technology. In other theaters, it will not be shown at all in favor of more Paul Blart: Mall Cop screenings.

-Half the movie is Jason sitting up in bed, reading a tattered copy of "He's Just Not That Into You," pausing only to gaze longingly at a photograph of Freddy Krueger.

-All the teenagers are non-threatening, gorgeous vampires with deep, romantic souls, save for one. He is Harry Potter.

-Going for that horror fan-pleasing, hard-R rating, it seems the director insisted on a lot of full-frontal nudity. From Jason.

-The whole movie is told through the POV of a person holding a video camera. And Jason is actually thirty stories tall and a monster. And this is just Cloverfield with a different title sequence hastily inserted using Apple's iMovie software.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2012: We Are Fucked

Look, I don't want to scare the shit out of you guys or anything, but apparently we've only got like three years to live. According to a History Channel documentary that I fell asleep watching the other night, the year 2012... which ain't exactly that far off... is when the Apocalypse is going to happen. I KNOW! I was surprised too; you'd think this would be a major topic of conversation on, at the very least, the cable news stations seeing as how they have 24 hours of airtime to fill every day and, frankly, not that much shit goes on unless they're going to start reporting on the Twitter updates of celebrities and/or my dong (oh yes... it's newsworthy).
But I digress... the point is, we've got like three years to live. That sucks. UNLESS... a hero were to rise. A handsomely chubby sort of hero... perhaps one who has a blog and a lot of time on his hands right now... yes, if a hero like THAT could show up with a bunch of ideas about how to save the world, then maybe... just maybe... we could make it to 2013 unscathed.
Here I am to save the day.
Using the finest research techniques at my disposal (the Google), I have discovered a list of all the many different ways the world could potentially end in 2012. Here now, said list, along with my notes on how to prevent each and every disaster from happening and, thus, saving the world. I promise not to be all brooding like Batman. It's millionaire-playboy Tony Stark all the way for ol' C-dog. Anyway...
2012: IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT, or, "I feel fine, as C-dog is here to save us!"
NOTE: The list is broken down into sub-groups for easy reference
Human-Caused Apocalypses

Flu Pandemic - Scientists need to find a cure for the flu between now and then. Seems pretty simple to me (it probably has something to do with orange juice). C'mon dorks... quit draggin' your feet.
Nuclear War / WW3 / Biological War - You know those lead vests they make you wear at the dentist's office? Just wear one of those at all times. If it's good enough to protect your nads while you get your teeth x-rayed, I don't see why it wouldn't also keep bombs away or whatever.
Large Hadron Collider - Um... you know it's got an off switch, right? Let's just switch it off. Seriously, some of these are pretty easy...
Nanotechnology - I read half of that Michael Crichton book about this and, before I got bored, I learned a whole lot of crap about these tiny, swarming robo-fuckers. Namely, I learned that they can't be stopped unless we run them through an MRI machine. So... let's all get in MRI machines and never leave.
Religious Apocalypse - Are you there, God? It's me, C-dog. Don't apocalypse us okay? Thanks! Hey, we're all good, guys!!!
Nuclear Accident - Lead vests.
Rise of the Machines - I'm going to say it one more time for the slower students: Off. Switches. That was my whole problem with the Terminator movies; he's a damn robot... clearly there's a big, red button on him somewhere that, when you push it, he goes "BWwwwooop" and slumps over in a comical manner. Unless cartoons have been lying to me all these years.
Genetic Modification - Huh? Like we restructure our DNA to give us like wings and crazy claws and junk? Or like laser eyes? That wouldn't bring about the end of the world. It would be AWESOME!!!
Time Travel Error - Alright, now you're just making shit up. Stop being a dick, I'm trying to help here.
Apocalypses From Space

Nearby Supernova - Uh... yeah, I don't know how to stop that. Lead vests, maybe?
Explosion from the black hole at the center of our galaxy - Wow. These space ones are hard. Tell you what, I'm getting a Subway sandwich with Stephen Hawking later; I'll ask him if he knows what's up with this.
Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) - I recognize all three of those words... but... I don't know... look, I'm just going to to pretend that says "Sugar Ray Burst" and then we can all finally have an excuse to kill Mark McGrath.
Asteroid/Meteor/Comet - Ah, okay, now we're in business. I'll go rent Armageddon, take some notes, and then we'll just do what those guys did. Someone should check on Bruce Willis' availability; I'll need him for moral support.
Coronal Mass Ejection (CRE) from our Sun - Sunglasses and some Coppertone with a high SPF rating.
Cosmic Rays - Lead vests.
Solar System Falls Apart (butterfly effect) - Holy shit, could that actually HAPPEN??? Fuck me. I'll be honest with you, I got nothing... if the whole fucking solar system starts falling apart, I guess maybe just stand in a doorway or go down to the cellar or something.
Alien Invasion - Sneeze on them/attack them with our PowerBooks.
Apocalypses From Within the Earth

Magnetic Pole Shift
- Everyone should just keep a lot of magnets on hand, like the ones on your fridge from the family trip to Niagara Falls, but... like... WAY more. Then if the Earth's magnets starts shifting around, we'll just move OUR magnets to the other side and it will balance out. God, I'm so fucking good at saving the world.
Crustal Pole Shift - This is an STD, not a potential apocalypse.
Supervolcano - ie Yellowstone - Giant cork.
Ice Age - Big-ass hairdryer. Long-ass extension cord.
Global Warming - Just do whatever Al Gore tells us to. He made a movie about it, so he must know what he's talking about.
So there you have it. All our problems, solved like a motherfucker. I'm just chillin' on the couch all morning if any of you nerdlingers want to swing by with my Nobel Prize.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Life Of The Male Model

Say you're incredibly handsome. Say you have no talent to speak of (other than walking in a straight line without pitching over into a gully). Say you possess such an absence of character that you are considered to literally be a living blank canvass just waiting to be draped in all manner of fashionable expressions of art. Say you possess these unique, oh let's call them, qualities. What's the job for you? What will your career be? What will you do with your life?


Let's look, shall we, at the fabulous life ahead of you:

Sure, you're standing around in the middle of the street with a bunch of other dudes dressed up like if JC Penney's cost a million dollars, but... hey... that's a street in Paris! Fancy! You've always wanted to travel, right? Trust me, you've always wanted to travel. Have many, many Adderall.
What's that? You forgot your pants? That's okay! You don't need them!

Pantsless cowboys are in this year. It's very Brokeback Mountain but without the dignity and emotional heft. I'll explain to you later what dignity is. Actually, no I won't. Champagne?
And look, it's even okay if you're ugly. As long as it's quirky ugly:
Ginger Emo Phillips from Asia is a look we can use. We can even do wonders with High School Science Fiction Nerds, provided there's enough wallet chain to work with:

Ah... isn't he glorious? His hair is so pouffy and strange, his skin is so pale he's like a walking bike reflector. See, quirky. So you've got options. Stop eating with your hands!
There's excitement in the world of male modeling, too. It's a world of make-believe and dressing up, of enchantment and wonder and, here, have a few more Adderall. Hey... have you ever wanted to be a robot cowboy from the future?

Or an Easter version of Boys II Men?

How about a heroin addict Edwardian prince?

Yes, you can live out your wildest fantasies as a male model. Or at least the wild fantasies of others, which is almost as good. Now, granted, it's not always going to be late-night disco parties in Milan or cocaine snowball fights in Brazil. There will be low points. You will have long, dark nights of the soul.
I don't want to scare you, but you should hear the truth... at least once... before you make the life choice of being a male model. Know this, okay; though the hotels you stay in will be extremely fancy, though they'll have bathrooms that look like marble visions of a plumbing-themed Utopia, the showers there will not clean off you the sticky shame that comes from occasionally wearing stuff like this:

I don't know. It's some kind of Nuns of Satan thing crossed with a combat-ready Chippendale's dancer. The point is, it's not all nice suits and fun hats. Sometimes it's work, and by "work," I mean, "you, looking like a fool times a million, loaded into a rocket launcher and fired at the heart of the sun where you explode in a fireball that looks like your father crying and wondering where he went wrong, dammit, he wanted you to be a lawyer!"
Oh and also... one last thing... it won't last forever. Your pretty skin is going to wrinkle. Your hair is going to thin out and turn grey. You, sir, are going to get old. I know, it's scary. But hey, you never know; maybe shoplifting bottles of Maalox and newspapers while dressing up like a wealthy Amish elder will come back into style.

The key is to never, ever forget how to walk down a runway, stop, gaze out blankly into the dark abyss that you instinctually know is the audience but might as well be what's left of your soul, turn back around, and walk away. Always practice that. Old models will one day be ironic and then, oh yes, your time will come again.
But that's to worry about later. Right now... ah, the world is your oyster. You are gorgeous! You are devoid of emotions! You have so many illicit substances in your system, you're practically the second coming of Pablo Escobar's fortune! You're ready to live the life of the male model, kiddo. Grab it with both hands and don't let go.
Francois, strike a pose to close it out!!!

Yes... that's it... oh, that's amazing... Work it, Francois. Work it. You magnificent male modeling douchebag, you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ZFS! Will Cure Your Hangover, Guaranteed*

NOTE: ZFS! really cares about you, man... or lady... or lady-man (ZFS! also does not judge)... and, as that's the case, ZFS! wants to help you get over your horrible, no-good, very bad hangover. ZFS! has lots of cures. You should listen to ZFS! It is The Way and The Light. Here now, the ZFS! patent-pending methods for destroying a hangover (patent-pending).

-Get in the shower and make the water so hot that it nearly scalds you. Stand there for like five minutes, or until you're steamed like a dumpling. Then, all fast, make the water so cold, it hurts your balls. Even if you don't have balls. Stand there for like five minutes until you nearly die. Keep alternating between scalding hot and freezing cold. Hot then cold. Hot then cold. Hot then cold. Eventually your body will explode, but just before that happens... hangover cured.

-Order a bunch of shitty Chinese food and eat it so fast you don't even taste it. Also, before you eat all the Chinese food, rob the Chinese place. The rush of adrenaline that you get from pointing a loaded gun at the head of a man who came over from Kowloon to make a fresh start in America will feel amazing and it will evaporate all the alcohol in your body in a flash. Don't forget to get some fortune cookies! Those are so good and it's fun to read your fortunes allowed to friends! Or your new cellmates!

-Are you allergic to bees? No? Eat a bunch of bees. Their stingers carry a poison that's the same thing as Gatorade so it will replenish your fluids. It's true! (this is most likely not true, I just want to see somebody eat a bunch of bees)

-Make your roommate punch you in the stomach as hard as they can. Now you can finally sue that bastard for assault! This will teach them to leave their dirty socks lying around when you've got a lady or a dude over that you're trying to get with (sexually). See how they like a little jail time... heh... serves them right... oh, and... uh... this will somehow cure your hangover.

-Anything cold is always soothing to the hungover, so stick a tray of ice cubes up your butt. Not the WHOLE tray, silly... just the cubes FROM the tray. Or, actually... you know what... go ahead and stick the whole tray up there. That would be pretty hilarious. And gross. Rectal trauma will probably cure your hangover though, or at least it will make you stop thinking about it. Because your rectal will be traumaed.

-Sit your hangover down and try to explain that you're just not that into it. Then snap your fingers all sassy. Then go shoe shopping! Then cry your lonely self to sleep. Then go to brunch! Then cry all over yourself in line at a Cold Stone Creamery. Then take dance lessons! Then cry at your dance lessons until they ask you to leave. The point is, your hangover loved you and YOU were the one that couldn't deal.

-Whatever you do, DON'T take an entire bottle of Tylenol to make the headache stop. This will kill you apparently. Which is a fact I wish I'd Googled before I took a whole bottle of Tylenol just now. Hm. Well... who wants all my stuff? Show of hands... okay, that's most of you. Tell you what, whoever eats the most bees wins.

*Not a guarantee

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Morning Hodgepodge

I know that every blogger and their sentient rolls of belly fat have already weighed in (no pun intended) on yesterday's Oscar Nominations and that, if you're a normal person who quite frankly has other shit to worry about that doesn't involve silly awards given out to millionaires, you probably don't even care... HOWEVER... I, being someone who enjoys movies a whole lot (and run-on sentences, apparently) would like to throw out my two cents worth so, please, just bear with me for a bit. I'll try to keep this brief.

Actually, all I want to say is this: The Dark Knight got dick-shanked and... really, Academy? REALLY? I want all of you to look me in the eye and tell me that The Reader, a movie about Nazi statutory rape, is a better movie than The Dark Knight, a movie about awesomeness to the power of three. I want to see if you'll actually lie to my face. Because, quite frankly, you haven't a leg to stand on. You want proof? How about...

Their Rotten Tomatoes scores:

The Dark Knight 94%
The Reader 60%

Thanks Rotten Tomatoes! You've given us cold, hard numerical facts that The Dark Knight is a far superior film! Suck it, Academy!!! Please, just go ahead and issue a de facto statement making it clear, once and for all, that if a studio makes a film about the Holocaust and casts in it a big enough star, it WILL get an Oscar Nomination regardless of it's inherent quality. Seriously, I'm fine with you implementing this practice; I just want you to be honest about it.

Anyway, that's basically all I had to say about the Oscars. It's just disappointing because it really seemed like, given their Best Picture choices from the last two years (The Departed and No Country For Old Men), there had been a definite uptick in quality appreciation amongst the ranks of the Academy. But I guess that was just an anomaly; we're definitely back in the realm of Crash and Million Dollar Baby and A Beautiful Mind and Gladiator and... wow... the list just keeps on keepin' on...


So, I've been doing the whole Twitter thing for a couple of weeks now and... I don't know... I've really enjoyed it and all but I also feel like it's kind of ruining my life on a cosmic, metaphysical level. See, I've been Twittering a lot... like, A LOT, a lot... many times a day, mostly out of a stir crazy-induced need to communicate with the outside world. And that's understandable, I guess, however I fear that I may have gone too far. It feels like, to a growing degree, that I've cracked my brain open and released it's gooey contents onto the internet in a free-flowing river; like the thoughts that I think are not my own, but now belong to EVERYONE. It feels like I've twittered myself into a state of mass consciousness! My mind is now one with... let's see... 25 people!!!

Wait... only 25 people? What the fuck? I know there's more than 25 of you bastards out there that want to join my metatextual brain orgy, so what's the hold up? To paraphrase Prince in Purple Rain... you have to purify yourselves in the waters of Lake MY MIND!!!

But anyway, yeah, Twitter has turned me into a real freak.


I'm eating a bag of Cheez Doodles for breakfast. They're a soothing shade of orange and they taste... well... like "cheez," however you want to define that. It's not cheesy, it's not buttery, it's not like anything made from natural ingredients... it just tastes like a thing that has an unnecessary "z" in it's name. And that's okay; sometimes you need a little synthetic empty calories in your diet. For one thing, when you do decide to eat something actually grown in nature... a Granny Smith apple, say, or an ear of corn... you'll have something to compare the clean, fresh flavors against. I think nature would win that battle. Particularly if we're specifically talking about Cheez Doodles here; even as far as junk foods go, Cheez Doodles are pretty fucking lousy. They taste like if you licked the side of someones face right after they died of a heart attack during a Green Bay Packers play-off game. Or like if a package of Velveeta went to live in a sewer for ten years to get away from society but then resurfaced and fell asleep on the hot sidewalk for a week. Or if the whole concept of cheese got mummified in a pyramid in Egypt but came back to life because of a curse and...

Well, I think you get the point I'm trying to make about my breakfast. Ha ha... I really don't take care of myself AT ALL, huh? When I die, spread my ashes in the grocery store snack section. Clean up on aisle... sadness...?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Chef: New York - Episode 9

Previously on Top Chef...

Farms! Farmers! Farm Animals! So long, Mom!


-New Judge Toby Young managed to keep his groan-worthy "cleverness" to one tortured career-of-Elvis analogy and, otherwise, gave good critique and generally acquitted himself like an intelligent person who was getting paid for paying attention. He has been upgraded from a C- to a B+.

-It's Restaurant Wars week on Top Chef and that means everyone is shitting themselves and freaking out and hoping they don't screw it up because this is THE MOST IMPORTANT CHALLENGE OF THE SHOW!!! Guess what? They screw it up.


As I said... Restaurant Wars. For the uninitiated, this means: The eight remaining contestants split up into groups of four; both groups are then tasked with opening a restaurant the next day. Or as close as possible to a restaurant given it's a reality show and they're not REALLY opening anything... they're just decorating a big room, giving it a stupid name, and cooking some food. But everyone gets their collective panties in a wad over it and, thus, we have quality television.

On with it...


This was more of a means to an end, as opposed to a separate challenge, so we'll buzz through this quickly. Each chef is supposed to cook a dish that represents what their restaurant would be like. Two winners will be chosen... they will be the head chefs (or "the owners") of the Restaurant Wars restaurants; it will be their concept, they get to pick their respective teams, etc. So the cooks make their dishes. There's a lot of fish, Fabio makes a fancy cheesesteak and then gets pissed when the guest judge calls it a cheesesteak, Jeff... whom I've actually started to like, despite him being beautiful... fucks up salmon, Stefan makes three mini-dishes all with asparagus and that sound you hear is me barfing, and everything generally looks pretty boring...

And the winners are? Radhika and Leah, the two wimpiest dipshits on the show; they will be leading our teams towards Restaurant Wars glory. I can't see how this could possibly go wrong.


Okay, a couple of things you need to know as we head into this ill-fated Restaurant Wars battle:

Thing, the 1st... Citing his being difficult to work with, neither Leah and Radhika want to pick Stefan for their teams. This ultimately leads to him being picked dead last, by Leah, because she HAD to, not because she WANTED to. This will end up being hilariously ironic later on.

Thing, the 2nd... Leah and Hosea, during the overnight break between the choosing of the teams and the actual day o' the challenge, like, TOTALLY hooked-up OMG, Y'ALL!!! Well, they made out on the couch a little bit. Whatever. It was all very bald and whiny and gross. The next morning, the two of them are having nerdy panic attacks because... d'oh... they are both in relationships outside of Top Chef-land and, oh shit, those cameras that caught them smooching probably have film in them! So, needless to say, neither of them particularly have their heads in the game.

So... how did the actual challenge all break down? Like this:

Restaurant: Sunset Lounge (catering to 80s-era Miami coke dealers)
Team: Leah, Hosea, Fabio, Stefan
Concept: Vaguely Asian-y, meaning they had an egg roll.

How Badly Did They Suck: Pretty bad, but not as bad as the other team. They are the winners, despite the fact that Leah was an exploding fireball of disaster. She didn't do anything in the way of leading her team, she spent most of the day whining about how her dish sucked, and then... during service... she sent out fish that was so poorly prepared and cooked, I feel confident in saying that I, C-dog, could have done it better. And I can barely make a grilled-cheese sandwich.

Fortunately for her, she was FORCED AGAINST HER WILL to take Stefan (ugh, he's SUCH a JERK, OMG). Stefan elected himself the team's dessert maker and, wouldn't ya know it, his desserts ended up being not only the best things about their restaurant, but the best dishes of the entire challenge. I can totally see why no one wants to work with him; he's at least three miles ahead of everyone else and he makes the rest of the competition look like a bunch of fuck-ups. Which they are, mostly, but still.

Needless to say, Stefan wins the challenge. The judges tell Leah, point-blank, that Stefan... with an assist from the always-a-charmer Fabio, who handled FOH duties... basically saved her annoying ass; had this team lost, she would have been sent home.

Restaurant: Sahana (Sanskrit for "???")
Team: Radhika, Jeff, Carla, Jamie
Concept: "The old spice trade." No, I don't know what that means either. We'll just assume that, because it's Radhika running the show, and because she doesn't want people to think she ONLY cooks Indian food, that her restaurant is cooking Indian food.

How Badly Did They Suck: Bad enough to be the losing team. With them, though, it wasn't so much the food that brought them down... well, okay, Carla's dump-taking on the desserts was the final blow... but their main issue was Radhika.

She didn't do anything. Like, at all. She was "the owner," and sort of came up with the concept (sort of), but left all the cooking to Jamie and Jeff... both of whom, it should be said, did the best they could with a bad situation. And then, when it came time for service, Radhika just kind of wandered around looking exhausted and scared; the dining room was a mess, Carla's desserts were clearly a disaster from the get-go, Jamie and Jeff were busting their asses trying to get the food out and she... like I said... just didn't do ANYTHING.

At the judges table, Jeff and Jamie are told they did a good job and, hey, sorry you got stuck with a shitty team. Carla and Radhika are called on the carpet for executing two crappy desserts... soupy, lotion-y frozen yogurts and a dead-ass chocolate cake, for the record... and for being the worst leader in the history of leadership, respectively. What's awesome is that they both defended themselves totally in character... Radhika just kind of took it, saying lots of things like "yeah, I should have done..." and "I don't know why I didn't..." etc. Carla, on the other hand, wrapped herself in a long, flowing coat of crazy (as she is wont to do), going on and on about how, yes, she KNEW the desserts sucked, but it shouldn't have mattered because she was SENDING OUT THE LOVE! What? Exactly. She's like an insane version of a skunk; the more trapped and cornered she gets, the more crazy-stink she begins to spray.

So the big debate comes down to this: Which is worse, two horrible dishes or an overwhelming failure from the supposed head of the whole operation. In the end, it's Radhika that gets the knife and, in my opinion, rightly so. Carla may have sucked and been crazy, but Radhika... once again... DIDN'T DO ANYTHING. Sorry, but that's way worse.

Next week on Top Chef...

Old contestants come back to remind us of what this show was like with GOOD competitors! Fabio argues adorably! A Super Bowl-inspired football theme!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Movie Poster A Go-Go (Cranky Edition)

Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail

I didn't realize it was a crime to set back one's own race fifty years as far as cultural tolerance is concerned, but hey... whatever keeps Tyler Perry off the streets is fine with me. I mean, okay, credit where it is due... the guy CLEARLY has a head on his shoulders for marketing... how else do you explain the success of his terrible movies, terrible TV programs, terrible books, terrible line of grill seasoning, terrible electric cars, etc. The dude knows how to move product; no denying that. But have you actually SEEN the stuff he produces? I'd like to think that if Dr. Martin Luther King were here today, he would set aside his message of peace and love and just beat the living shit out of Tyler Perry, if for no other reason than the cackling minstrel shows he's got on TBS right now. Watch the commercials sometime and then look me dead in the eyes and try to tell me that wasn't the worst thirty seconds of your life, including the time you got shot in the face by mobsters behind a check cashing joint. Tyler Perry... you should be ashamed of yourself and all the things you do.

But I guess what I'm REALLY trying to say is that this movie looks pretty bad and I don't want to see it.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

How they think they're going to make a Street Fighter movie without the soulful, moving performance of Raul Julia as M. Bison, I'll never understand. Who's playing M. Bison in this one? Neil McDonough? Who's that? Is he Raul Julia? Ah... he's NOT Raul Julia. So what the fuck is the point of making of another Street Fighter??? I'm sorry, but the "Legend of Chun Li" is not a legend that anyone is particularly interested in seeing writ large on the big screen. Here, let me save you twelve bucks: There's this chick named Chun Li. All the guys like her because, when she does her patented helicopter kick thingy, you can see her little animated underpants. If you're the type of guy who plays a lot of Street Fighter 2, this is the sort of thing that gets you really excited. Because you are a greasy perv. END OF FUCKING LEGEND. And what's hilarious? I bet this movie has exactly zero panty shots. Which means you're going to have a lot of mad, blue-balled nerds to deal with, Hollywood. Enjoy that. Bring lots of hand-sanitizer.

H2: Keep Beating The Horse; Let's Make SURE It's Dead

Rob Zombie... dude... I like you, okay. "Dragula" was a cool song and, hey, I even enjoyed The Devil's Rejects, even though it was the first movie in history to actually smell like unwashed crotch. I think your heart is genuinely in the right place; you seem like a true horror fan, however misguided, and that always gets a generous amount of slack from me, a douchebag with a blog who thinks he knows everything (this is false self-deprecation; I *do* know everything). But here's the thing: Why are you... someone who purports to deeply love the genre... participating in the ruination of our beloved classics? Are they just firehosing you down with cash? Do they have some of your family members tied up in a basement somewhere? Jangle your facial piercings slightly if yes. Because otherwise you seem to be working at cross-purposes with your stated agenda; i.e. making quality horror flicks. With the aforementioned Devil's Rejects, you were actually starting down the right path. But then you veered off course to take a dump on history. Unacceptable. And now you're really smearing that dump into the carpet of our society by making a SEQUEL? Man, I don't know. You've really changed Rob Zombie. You're not the guy I thought I only sort of liked anymore.

Race to Witch Mountain

I refuse to believe that we live in a world that contains a major box office star named "Dwayne." That's the name of a guy who drives a tow truck in a small town outside of Fort Worth. It's a name that should be stitched over the pocket of a dirty, short-sleeved work shirt. It's a name born of the trailer parks, and there should it stay for time immemorial. Go back to "The Rock," dude. That at least was descriptive of your acting style.


Some movie posters are obscure about the movies they're promoting and you look at them and go, "I am intrigued; I will remember the title of this film and perhaps, if my instincts are correct, I will pay money to see it when it arrives at a theater near me." The poster for Knowing, which depicts the Earth flaking of numbers like some sort of math-inspired dandruff, only causes people to think to themselves, "Ah, excellent, another shining example of how Nicholas Cage is squandering all the good will he worked so hard at building up early on in his career. Peggy Sue Got Married, Vampire's Kiss, Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation... all great films. Hey, maybe I'll go rent one of those instead of watching... whatever this is. It can't be good, I know that much is true."

Transformers 2

This has been kind of a bilious, mean-spirited edition of Movie Posters A Go-Go, so let me add an additional poster to the usual five; something I'm actually looking forward to seeing.
Um... so there it is. Up there. Transformers 2. I liked the first one because there were Transformers that turned back and forth from cars to robots. And there were big explosions. Kinda sick of Shia LeBeouf at this point, but that's okay. Robots go boom, and so forth.
Yeah, that's going to be sweet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Little Known Inauguration Facts

Hey, you kids smell that? It's... could it be...? Why... yes... it's HOPE! And also, my cat just took a dump. Sorry about that. But mostly it's hope; the kind of hope you get when a brand, spankin' new President gets inaugurated! One that, for once, we as a nation aren't completely fucking depressed about. What an exciting time to be alive! And, bonus, this inauguration is totally historical. Because the new President...? Black guy.

I bet racists are so pissed right now.

Anyway, in the spirit of the occasion, I thought it would be fun to drop some knowledge on all your sweet, sweet asses. As you're I'm sure aware, I am one of the preeminent historical documentators of America and, as such, I have just a shitload of exciting trivia at my fingertips. So much trivia... it's kind of retarded, actually. But the point is, I've spent the last few months combing through the archives (Google) in order to dig up some fascinating crap about all the Presidential inaugurations that have happened in this great country of ours and... hey, why not... I'm going to share them with you now.

Hold on to your nads...

LITTLE KNOWN INAUGURATION FACTS, or, "Why yes, Mr. President, that IS a Bible in my pocket!"

-In 1789, just minutes before his inauguration, George Washington crossed the Delaware with a cherry tree clenched between his wooden teeth. There was a poem written about it. Then I think he married Betsy Ross, but nobody knows for sure because there weren't cameras back then. Anyway, then he got inaugurated which made him unable to tell a lie.

-Abe Lincoln got inaugurated in a theater and then ran to a warehouse, Kennedy got inaugurated in a warehouse and then ran to a theater. SPOOKY!

-Martin Van Buren kicked the shit out of an Irishman instead of giving a speech. Nobody knows why, except for twelfth United States Attorney General Roger B. Taney, and that dude isn't saying shit about it. We, the historical community, suspect that Roger B. Taney hated the Irish as well.

-At his inauguration, Andrew Jackson handed out his business card to everyone and, because he was so popular, people started to use them as currency. This is how we got the $20.

-Everybody knows that William Henry Harrison died thirty days after his inauguration because he was too stupid to put on a coat and he caught pneumonia or whatever. But here's what you DON'T know about William Henry Harrison. Three days after he died... dude rose from the grave! That's why he's known in certain circles as William ZOMBIE Harrison. He ate Roger B. Taney's brain.

-Harry Truman's inauguration speech was so filthy, popular rap group 2 Live Crew later used large chunks of it verbatim in their hit single, "Me So Horny."

-Jimmy Carter was a President once. He even had an inauguration. I know, I just found this out too and was like, "whoa."

-Popular entertainer David Lee Roth was the guest of honor at Ronald Regan's inauguration in 1985. I managed to dig up a rare photograph of the event, taken just after the swearing in and right before Roth's stirring performance of "Panama:"

-Bill Clinton, in lieu of an Inaugural Ball, just had sex with everybody. It's collectively known as the greatest inauguration day in our country's history, as well as the stickiest. I'm also told that the pre-sex waiting room's buffet made grown men weep all over their hideous, naked selves.

-In 2001, George W. Bush was inaugurated even though he WAS NEVER elected President!!! Just sayin', someone really should have done something about that.

Monday, January 19, 2009

UPDATE: Due to a scheduling issue, and because it was snowing really hard, and also I was kind of nappish, we ended up NOT going to see My Bloody Valentine 3D. Whatever, though, we'll see it this week sometime. I assume all three dimension will still be there and if not I'll just burn the place down. As that is how I roll


Not feeling especially bloggy this morning; maybe it's the grey-ness of the weather or the laziness of a Monday holiday (not that it matters in my case; when you're unemployed, EVERY day's a holiday!), dunno, I can't really pin it down. What I do know is that the ol' well of creative juices is, for the moment, dry as... you know... something really dry. You see my point?

HOWEVER, there is hope on the horizon. Later on today, we are finally going to check out My Bloody Valentine 3D and, when that's done, I'm sure I'll have just loads to talk about. One way or the other.

Until then, here's a song that I've had stuck in my head for the past week like a piece of radio-friendly pop shrapnel:

WARNING: 90's Nostalgia Ahead; Wear A Cup

Friday, January 16, 2009

Exclusive Images of Flight 1549

Because we here at ZFS! are committed to journalistic excellence, our crack team of researchers and reporters have worked long into the night (while I ate a plate of cheese fries and fell asleep watching Iron Chef) to bring you some exclusive pictures of Flight 1549 making it's miracle landing in the Hudson river. They assure me that NO ONE ELSE on the internet has these images and, by displaying them on this website, I basically can just sit around in my boxers waiting for the Pulitzer Prize committee to come a-knockin'. That Pulitzer is going to look so kick-ass when I hang it over my toilet...

Anyway, without further adieu, here are:


Okay, so here is Flight 1549 immediately after it ran through the flock of geese, causing both engines to shut down...

And here we have a snapshot of the tense few minutes where Capt. Sullenberger had to make all the crucial, critical decisions...

Here's the plane just before it touches down in the Hudson...

The crash landing...

And finally, the pure, uncut heroism of the flight crew is revealed...

And before you ask, the answer is no... I wasn't aware either that US Airways currently had planes in their fleet that looked like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. However, my research team assures me that all of these photographs are %100 accurate, so... hey... learn something new every day, I guess. Boy, I wish you could here my team right now; they're so pleased with the work they did for me, they're laughing hysterically.
Great bunch of kids.
In all seriousness, to Capt. Sullenberger and the rest of the crew aboard Flight 1549... nicely done, dudes. I'm a terrible flyer and a total weenie when it comes to even the slightest amount of turbulence... knowing there are professionals in the air such as yourselves goes a long way towards making me feel alright about air travel. I mean it's still scary, but you guys certainly help.
I say again... nicely done.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Midwesterner Interviews Josh Radnor

Hey kids...

Just wanted to draw your attention to ANOTHER great interview by our boy The Midwesterner, who is really tearing shit up over at Starpulse. This one is with Josh Radnor, who is the lead guy on that How I Met Your Mother show that everyone tells me is amazing, but I've never actually, technically seen. So if you like that show, you'll definitely enjoy this interview. And if you're like me and ignorant in the ways of CBS situational comedies... well... read it anyway. Or I'll hit you. In the face. So... yeah. Guess you better read it, huh?

*shakes fist*

The Midwesterner v. Josh Radnor

NOTE: Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Top Chef: New York - Episode 8

Previously on Top Chef...
New judge! Goodbye Hillbilly Deluxe AND Eugene! Diet Dr. Pepper got rammed down our throats!
-I still haven't figured out if I like new judge Toby Young yet. I hate it when he farts out his little "oh so clever" bon mots, but then he turns around serves up some trenchant criticism that shows he's actually thinking about the food and the contest and not just how to rework an old saying as a means to his pseudo-witty ends. So I don't know. He's a C+ right now.
-Top Chef producers... pay attention... NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE BURGEONING LOVE BETWEEN HOSEA AND LEAH. Seriously. Two boring people being all boring and cuddly together isn't worthy of camera time. Otherwise 90% of all the couples in America would have their own TV shows.
-However, Top Chef producers, I will say this to you: Thanks for laying off the rampant product placement this week. I'm sure you'll be back to ramming Madison Ave. up our asses in subsequent episodes, but just know that we all appreciate the break.
An improvement. There was an overarching theme this week, which is always appreciated, and the challenges were well thought out and actually related in a meaningful way to the concept of high-quality cooking. SHOCK. It's too bad the contestants pooped all over your rare good intentions, huh?
Hung is back! Aw, I always liked the little spaz. For those of you just joining us, Hung was the winner of Season 3 and it's always fun when the winners from previous seasons come back to pitch in with the judging. Unless it's Ilan. Ilan can just die.
Anyway, so the QC this week is cooking sans ANY fresh ingredients; they can only use stuff out of boxes, cans, bags, etc. I was particularly amused when they revealed the huge pile of pre-packaged products... all of which had tape over the brand names. The thought of Top Chef shying away from product placement made me laugh heartily, then shed a tear for days gone bye.
So of course all the chefs bitch and moan about having to use ingredients that they would NEVER in a MILLION, BILLION YEARS even THINK of using in THEIR kitchen! Heavens to Betsy, canned peas!!! How offensive to my refined palate, and so on and so on. Nerds. Everyone likes, for instance, Chef Boyardee, so don't get all high and mighty.
The chefs get busy, giving the kitchen can opener a grueling workout and in the end we get a wide selection of dishes that... eh... look pretty goddamn unappetizing. Okay, so maybe they have a point about the fresh ingredients, whatever. While I think these kind of challenges are interesting because they totally rattle the chef's cages, they really don't ever end up with particularly good or interesting food. I'm thinking mainly of the infamous "Gas Station Cook-Off" from Season 2....
At any rate, Stefan ends up making the best chicken salad out of chicken shit, so to speak... it was some sort of bean soup and a sandwich... so he gets immunity. Not like he needs it, of course; he's had this season in the bag since Day 1.
The chefs draw knives and are divided up into three groups... Team Chicken, Team Pork, and Team Lamb.

Then... It's off to the farm!!! With real live chickens and pigs and little lambies, awwwww! And veggies grown right in the ground, ripe for the plucking! It's the exact OPPOSITE of the Quickfire Challenge! GET IT!!!
Oh but I kid... making them use nothing but fresh ingredients after using nothing but pre-packaged ingredients is a nice episode theme. The only thing that would have made this EC better would be if the contestants had to slaughter their group-name animals themselves. But, alas, the squares at Bravo aren't DOWN with that! Oh, and that whole human decency thing, too.
So there's a nice montage of the chefs dicking around the farm... messin' with animals, doing some light gardening... uh... walking... in nature... I don't know, nothing particularly interesting. Let's just get to the teams and how they all, to varying degrees, screwed the pooch.
Team Chicken - Stefan, Jamie, Carla
Tons n' tons o' drama on Team Chicken. Yes, Stefan is kind of a know-it-all prick. However, Jamie went into their group already deciding that she hated him and, thus, was a prick right back at him. Nicely done, lady... you made a prickly situation worse! Poor Carla got stuck in the middle of their fussing and fighting and, as you can imagine, this was NOT GOOD for her spirit. But, in the end, they pulled it all together and made a bunch of chicken dishes; some sort of chicken cutlet with a salad, a chicken ravioli soup, and a fruit tarte with thyme and lemon cream, among others.
I'll spare you the suspense... Team Chicken wins.
Team Pork - Fabio, Jeff, Radhika
How do you fuck up pork? By taking all the fat away from it and then taking it off the bone to cook and then magically sapping it of all it's flavor through an elaborate voodoo ceremony (that wasn't technically on the show, but I made it happen in my mind to perk up the proceedings). In addition to their Shame Pork, they made some fried green tomatoes with red tomato jam (yumtastic) and some other crap I don't remember. Oh, and at one point Fabio over-used pesto.
Team Lamb - Ariane, Hosea, Leah ("the last of the red, hot lovers")
Even though the pork sucked, it at least wasn't a train wreck. The lamb was. Poorly butchered, cooked badly, and generally an affront to the animal that lost it's life so we (meaning the judges) could eat, it was the Hindenburg of lamb dishes. And it was all Ariane's fault. BECAUSE HER TEAMMATES DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!!! And they admitted as much during the Judge's Table. Hosea and Leah let Ariane do all the work, knowing full well that she wasn't up to the task, so they could... I assume... go have a quick dry-hump in the pantry.
So, fine, it was clear that Hosea and Leah didn't do squat and left Ariane to twist in the wind. Clearly, one of our lovebirds should get sent packing, right? Nope... see ya later, Mom. Now, look, I think and have thought throughout this entire season that Ariane is kind of a dipshit. I think she's been lucky more than she's actually displayed any real talent and, to boot, I find her personality grating. That being said, she DID NOT deserve to go home tonight. There were three chefs that clearly didn't feel like working during this EC (Rahdika on Team Pork was the third); at least Ariane was TRYING. She sucked, but she put forth the effort, unlike some people.
But that doesn't matter, I guess... it's what is on the plate that counts, and, as Ariane was basically the shitty lamb's sole master, she got the knife. Right in the back, by my estimation.
Next week on Top Chef...
Restaurant Wars!!! Maybe this episode won't be such a let-down!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Brief Word About Scams...

How do you know... REALLY know... if someone is scamming you?

It used to be so easy. Back in the old days, all you had to do was look at the guy's mustache; was it black and did he continually twirl it? Was he also wearing a top hat? And did he have a squat assistant that laughed manically while bungling up schemes, but was kept around due to his slavering devotion?

If the answer to all those questions was, "Yes," then you, good sir, were about to be scammed out of your farm's harvest money by no-good carpetbaggers from back East.

Now though... it's all slick and computerized and they use sexy women who are really just large mounds of dynamite and you ended up exploded and being held upside down by your ankles while a large man shakes you vigorously to ensure every last coin in your pocket falls out and into the waiting top hat below. (scammers still all wear top hats; some fashion accessories never die)

It's scary out there, particularly for those of us who are generally broke and living off the good will of others. We lot can't AFFORD to be scammed; we don't get the luxury of shrugging off the loss, having learned a valuable lesson that will only make us that much wiser in the future. No. We get scammed and that's it; blowing businessmen in parked cars outside of bus stations for rock money is what we will henceforth refer to as "our life."

Frankly, that doesn't sound like something I'm all that into. Sure it might be fun at first, but so is paintball. After a few hours, though, you're covered in bruises and blobs of sticky goo and you suddenly realize that you're lost and alone in a cold uncaring world and that's when your brain shuts off. Then you're just a shell of a man, turning hard-hearted tricks for handfuls of loose change/singing up for a Labor Day Round-Robin All-Day Paintball War and Weenie Roast. Tragic times, man... tragic....

Look, my point is, there are people out there who want to take your money. Bad people. EVIL people... remember what I said about the top hats? The kind of guy who would wear a top hat in this day and age; THAT'S who wants to take your money. Chilling, I know.

So you have to be vigilant. Always watch your back. There's no such thing as a "wallet inspector," nor are there people out there who can take your bank account number and turn it into three Ferraris and a mountain of girls in diamond lingerie that all think you're the nation's #1 sex machine. They are lying to you, just trying to get ahold of, essentially, your innocence to use for their own sick, twisted designs.

So, in conclusion, be smart. Be safe. Watch out for scammers. And, changing the subject, would anyone like to invest in some hot stocks that haven't hit the market yet but are about to blow up HUGE? It's for a company that makes... ah... baby AIDS destroyers. They destroy baby AIDS. Don't you want in on that??? It's going to go nuclear! Here, let me inspect your wallet for a second. Don't worry, I have a license...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

8 Further Examples of Pop Culture-Themed Religious Flair

NOTE: Part Three in a series. Here's Part One & Part Two.

Starbucks Jesus

Decent, if only because the designer took the time to make the Jesus look pretty damn close to the mermaid that lives inside the Starbucks logo. So close, in fact, that people will see this on your Facebook flair page and go, "Mmmm... yeah, I agree with that piece of flair entirely," and then they'll take a closer look and say, "Oh, wow, I just meant I could go for a latte but... well... I guess I believe in God now. You tricked me, Christians!" It's a tactic known as "The Sneaky Conversion" and it's the devout version of cigarette companies using Joe Camel to make kids think smoking is cool. (there's also a deplorable sex act called "The Stinky Conversion;" you should REALLY be on you guard against that one, as it is much worse)

YouTube God

A classic example of the religious community taking a recognizable bit of graphic design and making it their own without any regard towards the greater social commentary missing from their message. What does repurposing the YouTube logo to a holy end have to do with watching videos on the internet? Nothing. There's nothing clever about this piece of flair; it's just cynical propaganda along the lines of, "kids will recognize the logo and be drawn to it, thus they will be drawn to Jesus because they will think he is cool." This is EVER MORE SO the aforementioned Joe Camel thing, but it's actually even worse because using sleazy advertising techniques to aide a "good" cause is like throwing handgrenades to promote peace on Earth.

Reese's Jesus

I nearly left this piece of flair out because, at first glance, it's the same sort of brainless agitprop as the YouTube one, HOWEVER... on closer inspection... there's a lot more going on here than I initially thought. Forget the awkward Reese's-to-Jesus switch and ignore the pseudo-thorny crown at the bottom... look at what is happening in the middle. There are two words there, faintly: "Sweet Savior." Now, look, I'm not stupid... I know that in theory they're using the duality of the word "sweet" to play off the candy logo concept, as well as to infer that Jesus is "pure, kind, etc." That's all well and good. But they're also shooting themselves in the foot because, in actual application, that duality ends up being less clever and more creepy. Using food-centric words when talking about the intake of religion implies that it (religion) is a life-sustaining force; something we NEED, as opposed to something we ENJOY. While there are those out there that believe this is the case, a lot of people... myself included... find that sort of rhetoric a major turn-off. Particularly if you're trying to win people over to your flock, implying that Jesus is sweet, delicious, and all the candy you'll ever need is just going to make people think you're a freak. There should be a distinct separation between church and snacking.

American Idol Jesus

Topical, as tonight is the season premier of American Idol. And, bonus points... it's a singing competition and you used a religious song title in your logo reappropriation. A nice harmony (see what I did there) of concept and execution. If this piece of flair were being judged in the early rounds of said reality show, it would be sent on to Hollywood and pitted against other pieces of flair in a grueling two-day flair-off where it would either move up to the Big Show, or be called "a disaster" by a mean British man and we'd see it crying in the hallway before never hearing from it again. Analogy sufficiently tortured? Okay, good. Moving on.

T.G.I. Friday's God

Lousy, as God has nothing to do with potato skins or jalapeno poppers. However, grand scheme, this is actually pretty awesome, if only in an entirely meta way. To wit: It's a piece of flair for an internet application, reappropriated to a religious end, using the logo of the place where the concept of actual, physical flair WAS INVENTED and, thus, was the inspiration for the application found on the internet. Full circle, man. Did I just blow your MIND???

F.R.O.G. God

This piece of flair is completely unique because, unless I'm way out of touch with the kids these days, it appears to be trying to actually CREATE it's own pop cultural reference. It doesn't entirely work, of course... frogs don't have anything to do with religion, unless you're talking "a plague of," and I doubt that's what they meant... but you can tell the designers of this flair were thinking to themselves, "The happiest day of my life will be when I hear my fourteen year old daughter say to one of her friends, 'I don't need drugs, I just F.R.O.G.'"

Tweety Love Jesus

I never knew that Tweety Bird had such strong ecclesiastical leanings and, to tell you the truth, I'm sure the good folks over at Warner Bros. would be surprised to hear it as well. Not that they would SUE the creators of this piece of flair or anything... same goes for all the other companies who's logos get flipped in the name of the Lord. Suing religious people for doing religious things is the PR equivalent of playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun. You can't win, plus some religious folk aren't shy about inferring that you, Mr. Fancy Lawyer man, are ACTUALLY Satan and maybe someone should bomb your house, or at the very least start hucking bricks at it for a few weeks. Nobody needs that kind of hassle.

Fed-Ex Is Against Satan

Besides the message not having even the slightest thing to do with overnight package delivery, this piece of flair is terrible because... look... if you're only "fed up" with Satan, then it stands to reason that you're not the best person to be out there proselytizing. "Yeah, that Satan... what a pain in the butt. Always being evil and poking people with his pitchfork and damning souls to Hell. I tell ya, I'm just FED UP with that guy. I mean, I have had it!!!" Doesn't really carry a lot of the gravitas so essential to scaring the pants off of people in an effort to get them on board with the cause. Then again, you might want to consider abandoning the whole "pushing Jesus through pieces of flair" idea all together and maybe just go do some charity work. Serve at a night shelter or help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Seems like those would be much better ways to get your point across.