Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Flying pigs and other miscellany

My deepest apologies to anyone who read Monday's post and thereafter heard the little voice in their head singing The Violent Femmes' "Kiss off" on constant repeat for the remainder of the day. Nabbalicious in particular was apparently a bit peeved. Can't say I blame her, though I do maintain that there are plenty of far worse songs I could have embedded in your brains instead. (See GG today if you don't believe me.) Still, if I had simply added another bullet or two to the list, the whole incident could have been avoided, as I can't really imagine myself ever writing the sort of post that would warrant the title Nine for a lost god. Incidentally, I had to look that line up. I have never had any idea just what they were singing there. (Did you?)

By the way, I do realize I have probably just successfully planted the chorus of "Kiss off" right back in your brain again. Terribly sorry about that. I'll move on now, OK?

As it turns out, if I had included a ninth bullet in my weekend recap post the other night, it might perhaps have been a snack food review for your consideration. Frito-Lay has a new brand of "healthy" snacks that they deem so "Impossibly Good," they've chosen a flying pig as the snack's logo. (After perusing the ingredients list on the bag, I am actually not entirely sure just how "healthy" these snacks really are, but that is not the point of this paragraph.) Anyway, they are called Flat Earth crisps, and a team of smiling Frito-Lay representatives in matching t-shirts was handing them out at the Stone Arch arts festival on Saturday. I took a bag of the Wild Berry Patch flavor and examined the description and ingredients. I am not sure exactly what I expected a chip made from "a blend of rice, potato, and fruit" to taste like, but I definitely did not expect it to taste like Pop-Rocks. Do you remember Pop-Rocks? I have not had that weird fake-fruity, bubbly, exploding candy in years, but upon my first bite of Wild Berry Patch Flat Earth crisps, I said--out loud, I might add, because I am inappropriate like that, and I apparently want people in public places to see me talking to myself and deem me a lunatic (Is it really any wonder I rarely meet prospective dates in my normal day-to-day life anymore? I guess not.)--Anyway, I said (out loud), upon my first bite, "These taste like Pop-Rocks!" And then I smiled to myself and continued snacking on the chips because, hello, a rice-and-potato-based snack chip that tastes like an absurd candy from your youth? Tell me that doesn't sound weirdly delicious to you.

When I went to the grocery store last night, I saw that Frito-Lay's marketing efforts are in force there as well. The outskirts of the Natural and Organic Foods section featured a tremendous pallet of all six flavors. I decided to stay away from the veggie ones for now, because while they might be differently but equally tasty, I could not imagine anything but disappointment when compared to Pop-Rock Candy fruit chips. I bought the Apple Cinnamon instead. (They are reasonably tasty as well, though likely wouldn't have warranted any review or mention on their own.)

Incidentally, if you happen to try these and decide that the absurd berry flavor is anything but delightful, I do apologize. Many of us take blogger recommendations fairly seriously, but not every recommendation can be a hit with everyone. As an example, let's talk about Miss Peach (or, not Miss Peach herself, but a thing or two that she has recommended). By my assessment, Miss Peach is, in all ways, quite awesome. She is lovely and whip-smart and wrote some damn amusing blog entries before real life clearly interfered and took her away from all of us. I even met Peach last fall, and I can vouch for her being a charming and affable dinner companion off the blog as well.

So. Big fan of Peach. That's what I'm saying. Unfortunately, not everything that Miss Peach loves is really for me. College football, for instance. Couldn't give half a damn about that. And Lifetime made-for-TV movies. I thought I could enjoy the occasional guilty pleasure of a dreadfully contrived drama. I have, after all, sat with semi-rapt attention through both She Fought Alone (starring both Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Brian Austin Green, in an awesome pre-90210 pairing) and A Friend to Die For (also known as Death of a Cheerleader, starring Kellie Martin and the always-talented Tori Spelling). This past weekend, however, while I was immobilized in the heat coma on my living room couch, I decided to see just how many Lifetime movies I could sit through before I started wanting to make terrible things happen to the women in the movies myself. (Answer: two and a half. Likely less if they'd been consecutive.)

All of this round-about rambling is my way of getting to the explanation of why I had to abandon Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, despite my long-standing and rarely broken "when I start a book, I must finish it" rule. (Did you all read Metalia's cautionary tale about how writing a little outline before you start a post might be helpful? Yeah, apparently I am not taking that advice.)

Anyway, Miss Peach raved about The Sportswriter a few months back, and because I trust the woman's opinion (and I enjoyed the excerpts she included), I added it to my ever-growing "Get at the library some day" list. Shortly before my Austin trip, I went to the library in search of an on-deck book to start after Prep, and I found The Sportswriter met my requirements. (My requirements, by the way, were three-fold: I needed a book (A) whose title and author I could recall, (B) that the library actually had on the shelf at that moment, and (C) that was small and light enough to fit in my mid-sized messenger bag.)

Don't get me wrong. This book is well written. Unfortunately, it's well-written the same way The Corrections was well written. It contains some beautifully crafted prose, some passages that are awe-inspiring in their spot-on capturing of ordinary life in not-so-ordinary detail. But I didn't care one whip about any of the characters, and 80 pages in, I still had no idea when any sort of interesting or engrossing story might actually start.

I did make it past the point where the famous Nancy Pearl would say I could stop. Her Rule-of-50 (described at the end of this post, which I wrote after seeing her speak in Minneapolis last year) says I should give every book at least 50 pages before deciding if it's worth the effort. If you're over 50, you get to subtract your age from 100 and read that many pages instead. I actually stuck it out past page 67, which, at age 33, is the point I'd have to reach if following that alternate rule. On page 80, though, I read this line:

But that is not so much the point as a way of getting around to it.

And at that moment, I nearly hurled the book at the wall because it so aptly described the entire novel up to that page. I was tired of waiting for Ford to get around to the point, so I will be taking Nancy Pearl's wise advice and not finishing this one. Life's too short and there are far too many better books out there to read. Like The Time Traveler's Wife, which I am fully enjoying even if I can't really accurately describe why. Or Prep, which I might have enjoyed more had I not read it immediately after my favorite so far this year but which I thought was well-written and enjoyable anyway. I still want to write some sort of recap of that for my own records (and those of anyone else who finds that sort of thing at all interesting), and I realize I said I was going to be chronological and not mention The Sportswriter until I'd posted that last one. I just want to get The Sportswriter out of my house, however, so out-of-order will have to do.

Know what else will have to do? This abrupt and non-conclusitory* end to one of my most meandering posts to date. "Kiss off," Pop Rocks chips, Lifetime television, and aggravating novels. How else would you sum all of that up?


* So totally a word. Or, not, really, but I am tired, so it's a word for now at least.


NancyPearlWannabe said...

Wow. That was a whole lot to absorb so early on a Thursday morning. This is what I got out of it: 1. You had me at Pop Rocks. I will buy anything flavored like Pop Rocks, including Pop Rocks themselves. If your Earthy Crisps snapped and exploded in your mouth, I wouldn't even have had time to respond to your post, I would already be at the grocery store buying them. 2. I love that you follow Nancy Pearl's advice. I do have to admit, however, that at first I thought you were talking about me and I actually searched my brain to try to remember when I wrote about the rule of 50. Hee! said...

I also enjoyed 'The Time Traveller's Wife', but can't really say why either. I think that 'Lucky' also falls into that category. It was so disturbing, but I just couldn't put it down...

And I have to admit, I don't know how I would feel about pop-rocks flavoured chips. I would think too much about the popping and wish there was little explosions in my mouth instead of a blend of rice, potato and fruit.

lizgwiz said...

Did you know they have chocolate-flavored Pop Rocks now? They do. I like Pop Rocks, but the unexpectedly fizzy candy from my youth that I REALLY miss? Zotz. Cherry-flavored Zotz. Are you old enough to have experienced those? They were THE candy when I was in sixth grade. Back in the dark ages.

The Other Girl said...

I remember Zotz! There was no warning about the fizzy center, so pretty much every kid I knew spit the first one onto the sidewalk thinking they were being poisoned. Good times.

The Japanese grocery I shop at stocks all manner of rice- or corn-based vegetable chips, but I don't think they're healthy at all, given that they're mostly MSG. They're really tasty, but if I eat more than two or three chips, I feel like I'm having a heart attack.

Darren McLikeshimself said...

I appear to be the only blogger not mentioned in this post, and it hurts.

I liked The Corrections.

The idea of fruit flavored chips makes my stomach turn.

-R- said...

I had a free sample of the fruit flavored chips a while ago. I thought they were weird because I don't know if I really want chips to taste fruity. I didn't notice any resemblance to pop rocks, but maybe I had a different flavor than you did.

I already forgot the other topics you wrote about. I should have made an outline for my comment!

stefanie said...

NPW--A lot to absorb. I know. I was sort of all over the place in that one. Sorry. And honestly, I was going to make some mention of you and point out that I meant the ORIGINAL Nancy Pearl and not the self-proclaimed "wannabe," but that would have involved linking to yet another blog-friend who wasn't Darren, and you can see by his comment that he was already feeling left out.

Melissa--I've not read Lucky, but I just looked up the description. That one looks pretty intense. I haven't read The Lovely Bones by Sebold, either, and by many accounts it sounds like I should.

Liz--Chocolate flavored Pop Rocks sound disgusting (says the girl who just endorsed fruit-flavored potato-rice chips). And I don't think I've ever had Zotz, but there's a drugstore a couple blocks from my office that has just about every candy that you thought had been discontinued for years, so perhaps I could look for them there.

TOG--I'm not so sure about the legitimate healthfulness of the ingredients in these chips either, but at least they didn't make me feel like I'm having a heart attack. But then, I eat pretty poorly. Chances are my stomach can endure just about anything at this point.

Darren--I know; could I have included any more links in that post? I don't know what got into me. As for The Corrections, I think you are yet another example of someone whom I like and whose opinions I respect, but whose reading preferences don't often align with mine at all. For example, all those Civil War books you read? Those would put me to sleep immediately. (Even quicker than The Sportswriter did, I think.) To each his (or her) own.

R--I think if you don't think of them as chips, they're less off-putting. That or they're just disgusting and I am crazy. That's entirely possible as well.

L Sass said...

Hee! I learned a lot in this post!!

But most importantly, in addition to brief condom-store-visiting, my girlfriends and I totally ate ACTUAL Pop Rocks in Philly last weekend. They're still pretty tasty.

guinness girl said...

Hee! YOu sound as ramble-y as me in this post! Love it. :) Embrace the ramble, my friend.

Still on the fence about BlogHer, btw. I suck that way.

Paisley said...

I'd much rather have Violent Femmes in my mind than songs from Grease 2.

I always thought they said 9 for a lost cause. Hmm..who knew?

Pop rock flavored Frito chips? Um...I may pass on that one. However, I do delight in the pop rocks and have been known to buy them in my middle-age. Whee!

stefanie said...

L Sass--Well, you know, I aim to educate. :-) I think I would still like Pop Rocks today, too.

GG--Thank you for your permission to embrace it. It is so ingrained in me that I think it would be hard to shake at this point.

Paisley--"Middle age"??? If I remember correctly, you are the same age as I am (possibly even a year younger). Please do NOT call us middle aged just yet! :-( (I plan to live well past 66, don't you??)

nabbalicious said...

I know Darren will not be shocked to read this, but I've had those fruit-flavored chips, and my word, they are DELICIOUS! But what do you want from a girl who's planning to make a frosting sandwich someday?

I liked "The Corrections," too. Good readin'!

And I wasn't so much annoyed with "Kiss Off," because it was one of my favorite songs in high school (and for the longest time, I thought he was singing "Nine for my loss, God"), but I really don't want ANY song in my head for nearly three days straight.

Aaaand it's back again. Stefanie, I am coming after you!

Red said...

She Fought Alone!!! Oh my gosh, I LOVE 90s LIFETIME TV!

Ahem. I'm reading Eat Pray Love right now, and you are so right. It's awe-some. And I agree with you about craptastic books. I'll start employing that 50 page rule, because I always feel guilty for stopping. No mo'.

Blitz Krieg said...

Phew, I'm dizzy. That's a good thing though. I just received a new book for father's day and started reading it this afternoon. I wasn't sure about it after reading the jacket but I was hooked hard after I read the first page.

metalia said...

I have, in fact, had that song in my head since I read that post. :)

I actually liked The Sportswriter, but we seem to think alike with respect to most of the other books we've been reading lately, so let's not worry about that. :)

Come to BlogHer! Pretty please?!

stefanie said...

Nabbalicious--As I spread Nutella on a piece of bread recently, it occurred to me that I was making, basically, a frosting sandwich. Nutella is European, though. That makes it totally OK. Classy, even. And definitely adult-appropriate. I'm sure you agree.

Red--Yay; so glad you like it! I hate when I recommend something and people end up hating it (like the Pop Rocks-flavored chips, quite likely...)

BK--I was a bit dizzy myself after writing that, though I think that was just because it was way past my bedtime (as it is now as well). What book did you get?

Metalia--I am glad we can still be friends even if we do not agree on the merits of Richard Ford. We're all mature like that. :-) And I am definitely still thinking about BlogHer. It's within driving distance for me, for fuck sake. Seems silly not to stop by.

Maliavale said...

I read "meandering" as "endearing," as in "This will have been one of my most endearing posts yet" (paraphrasing here), and I thought, how presumptuous! And yet true! And then I realized what it really did say. Still, I vote endearing.