Monthly Archives: July 2009

Friday Random 10: Ketchup Edition

Pax Arcana

KetchupIn the 1970s, consumers had very few choices of mustard at the supermarket. Flavors ranged from yellow to extra-yellow.

Then something happened. As with beer, salsa, olives, and lots of other things in the supermarket, demand for fancier types of mustard skyrocketed. All of sudden you could easily buy spicy brown mustard, mustard with seeds in it, mustard with honey in it, mustard with cranberries in it, and — of course — Grey Poupon, which has white wine and other faggy French-sounding stuff in it.

So why has ketchup — mustard’s happier cousin — looked exactly the same all this time? In 2004, Malcolm Gladwell predicted that ketchup was bound for a revolution of its own. But that never happened:

But five years later, ketchup is in the same place: Supermarkets still feature the same tiny selection, a handful of restaurants make their own, and tiny gourmet producers barely make a nick in the ketchup market. In fact, it would appear that the fledgling company Gladwell wrote about in his article, World’s Best Ketchup, has gone out of business — a Google search for the company primarily brings up links to Gladwell’s 2004 article, and a phone number for the business has been disconnected.

The article suggests that we start making our own ketchup at home to get the bright flavors we’re missing in the standard mass-produced bottle. I say that sounds like an awful lot of work just so I can paint fake blood stains in my wife’s ears while she’s asleep. It’s hard enough remembering to wake her up in the middle of the night, screaming that the cyborgs are eating our brains.

The songs:

Magic Number — De La Soul
Warning Device — Teenage Bottlerocket
The Czar: Usurper/Escape/Martyr/Spiral — Mastodon
Kick out the Jams — Bad Brains and Henry Rollins
Learn How — Mission of Burma
Who’s Laughing — Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
Pennyroyal Tea — Nirvana
Rosalita (Come out Tonight) — Bruce Springsteen
The Crane Wife 3 — The Decemberists
Bess, You Is My Woman Now — Miles Davis

Bonus video:

Bret, You’ve Got it Going On — Flight of the Conchords

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.


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I swear it’s not mine

Pax Arcana

panda_boyThe L.A. Times is reporting that Bai Yun the giant panda is pregnant, and is expected to give birth next month. Which is a total surprise to me — I mean it’s not like I know the intimate details of Bai Yun’s sex life or anything.

Doctors at the San Diego zoo — which I did NOT visit last winter — say ultrasounds show two fetuses in Bai Yun’s womb. Unfortunately pandas rarely carry twins to term, so chances are good Bai Yun will deliver only one interspecies hybrid baby panda cub.

In the meantime, the 17-year-old Bai Yun has been removed to a special “denning” area prior to delivery. Hopefully they took her cell phone away, too — if only to keep her from calling the father every twenty minutes and howling into the phone. Not that I know who the father is… I’m just saying that could be pretty annoying if that’s the case.

Bai Yun’s last offspring ended up giving birth to six more cubs, all of which were 100% PANDA DESPITE MEDIA REPORTS TO THE CONTRARY. Although it would be crazy if a panda and a human were to mate, and live together in a bamboo grove somewhere in the suburbs with their half-breed child. I guess it would be a “manda” in that case. I’d name her Amanda the manda. Just daydreaming is all…

San Diego Zoo announces giant panda Bai Yun is pregnant (and may give birth to twins) [LA Times]

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Quien es el bandito?

Pax Arcana

According to the Newton Tab, it appears there is a bandit of some sort run amok on the leafy streets of that suburb. At first the bandit merely covered someone’s car with flour, but recently he or she covered another car with flour, eggs, and salsa.

banditoThe presence of an exotic foreign ingredient like salsa indicates that this bandit is actually a bandito — perhaps a cartoonish one like the image at right. If you don’t mind, I’m going to use the rest of this post to address the bandito directly in his native language. Foreign languages have always come naturally to me, so perhaps I can help diffuse this situation.

Hola Senor Bandito,

Me llamo Paxito Arcanana. Yo soy escribador del Internet. Y tu eres un bandito muy fuerte y intelligente. Yo creo que eres el mejor bandito en todo el mundo. Tienes huevos aceros, mi amigo.

Por favor, bandito, no molesta mi coche. Es muy viejo, y no tengo dinero por un otro.

Entonces, yo se un otro hombre que tiene un coche. Se llama Father Scott, y su barba es muy feo. El coche de Father Scott es en Dedham usualmente. Busca un coche con fragrancia raro — como Pringles y flatulencia juntos.

Gracias, bandito mysterioso. Gracias.

Newton’s flour vandal experimenting with new dishes [Newton Tab]


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I like Shatner’s version

Pax Arcana

I’ve tried to ignore the dim light shining down upon us from the great American north, but I admit I am captivated by the free-form verbal jazz odyssey that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has been on lately. And nothing brings her, um, talents into sharper relief than this clip of William Shatner doing a dramatic reading of her farewell speech:

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Ready for some cold, milky refreshment?

Pax Arcana

got_milkIf you’re like me, you’ve often found yourself near exhaustion and covered in sweat from tending to your stable of Arabian studs (these bandwidth bills don’t pay themselves, people, and boy do the Arabs have money). At times like those, you probably reach for a fizzy carbonated beverage to slake your thirst.

Now, thanks to the Coca-Cola company, you can have the immediate satisfaction of a burst of sugary carbonation combined with the life-giving sustenance of milk.

According to the Guardian, Coke is currently piloting a new milk-based soft drink called Vio. The idea, I suppose, is to give people the ability to literally shoot effervescence out of their noses:

Coca-Cola is trialling a new carbonated “vibrancy” drink and it will depend on Americans’ tastebuds whether other countries experience what the company claims is “a refreshing sensory experience”.

The soft drinks giant has so far launched its new Vio products only in New York, but milk-based products are popular in Asian markets such as Hong Kong and Japan.

The new offering, which has “a hint” of skimmed milk, comes in four flavours – citrus burst, peach mango, tropical colada and very berry – and is being sold in 8oz aluminium bottles for the equivalent of £1.50.

At first blush, the idea of drinking a flavored, carbonated milk beverage may sound just plain crazy. Yet we all love root beer floats, right? Plus, if carbonated milk is popular with the Japanese I say let’s do it. If that’s what it takes to come up with awesome game shows and hilarious baseball players, then I’ll choke down the first milky bottle myself.

Coca-Cola trials sweet, fizzy, milky ‘vibrancy’ drink in three US cities [Guardian]

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Monday evening filler: Butt Stank Deodorant

Pax Arcana

Hamilton Nolan at Gawker says this is a real thing. I’m not so sure. It’s a thing, to be sure, but it is a real thing? Are things like this on TV? Am I talking English now? My whole world is inside down and upside out from watching this maybe-real commercial.

Well at least it’s made in the USA. So there’s something.

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Friday Random 10: Anniversary Edition

Pax Arcana

It’s as gloomy and shitty as ever outside today, but thanks to the Joy of Sox my spirits are buoyed. That’s because today is the five year anniversary of one of the greatest games in baseball history — the July 24, 2004 brawlfest between the Red Sox and Yankees that featured not only loathsome douche Alex Rodriguez getting a glove sandwich shoved between his stupid purple lips, but also a six-run comeback by the Sox, capped by a game-winning 9th inning home run from Bill Mueller.

And I was there.

arod_varitekNot just me, but the straight-but-not-narrow then-future Mrs. Pax Arcana, her mother, sister, and mother’s husband. We were in the right field grandstand, at first just hoping the rain would hold off (it did) and that none of the calzone-stuffed mongoloid Yankee fans in our section decided to shave their backs mid-game. Instead we were treated to the wildest game I’ve ever seen.

In the third inning, Bronson Arroyo hit A-Rod with a curveball. Because he’s dumber than a sack of turnips, A-Rod assumed it was a purpose pitch. Jason Varitek intervened and the fisticuffs erupted. Normally I’m not one to condone fighting in baseball. But if there was ever douche who needed to be slapped in front of 40,000 people, it was the 2004 version of A-Rod.

Tek and A-Rod were both ejected, Tanyon Sturze (nice career, dick) bled from the ear, and the Red Sox capped a miracle comeback when Bill Mueller smoked a 3-1 cutter off Mariano Rivera into the visitors’ bullpen — a two-run homer to give the Sox the win.

At the time, the Red Sox were 8 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Soon after the brawl they would embark on a crazy win streak and end up winning the World Series after executing the greatest comeback in history in the ALCS. Several of the players on that team still point to the July 24, 2004 game as the spark that led to their eventual triumph. I don’t know about that. All I know is I was convinced that Fenway Park was going to crumble into pieces from everybody jumping up and down.

Update: Cool interview with Curt from the Car on his site at the new

The songs:

Waterfalls — TLC (Chili I still love you. Call me.)
Don’t Know When But a Day Is Gonna Come — Bright Eyes
Elq Milq — Black Moth Super Rainbow + The Octopus Project
California Stars — Wilco
The Piano Has Been Drinking, Not Me — Tom Waits
We Are All Accelerated Readers — Los Campesinos!
Windowsill — Arcade Fire
Can You Tell — Ra Ra Riot
Boneless — The Notwist
Public Service Announcement — Jay Z + DJ Danger Mouse

Bonus video:

The Rake’s Song — The Decemberists (Live)

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change

15 Spring Street W. Roxbury, MA 02132


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The Wall Street Journal is concerned about your cankles

Pax Arcana

canklesWhile I have criticized the newspaper industry and its often boneheaded business sense at length in this space, it is true that these organizations still provide the overwhelming majority of in-depth and important newsgathering. For example, did you know that some people have thick ankles? And that thick ankles are often derisively referred to as “cankles”? And that people are embarrassed by them?

Of course you did. You probably heard your first “cankles” reference in the late 90s. But hey, look — the Wall Street Journal just found out about it, too!

To get swimsuit-ready, Jennie Succio adopted a grueling workout regimen that included running uphill and doing dozens of lunges and squats. But she wasn’t going for a sculpted derrière or a chiseled abdomen.

Ms. Succio, 32 years old and the owner of a housecleaning business in Minnesota, wanted to slim down her chubby ankles.

No one will notice your dishpan hands if you have slim lower gams, cleaning lady.

But surely there’s more to the story than one sad 32 year old struggling to reengineer key components of her natural body composition. Clearly this portmaneau deserves its own trend story — like the riches heaped upon puns like “staycation” and “metrosexual”. Oh hey look:

The circumference of a woman’s ankle is about 11 inches, on average. That’s not much to obsess about. But enough Americans are concerned about fat ankles — or “cankles” — that gyms are coming up with new ways to tone them; plastic surgeons are pushing $4,000 to $6,000 liposuction procedures to slim them; and shoe companies are offering special models designed to minimize them.

If I were a cynical person, I’d say it appears that there are entire industries out there that profit from women’s insecurities. And that they actively increase the volume and strength of women’s insecurities by promoting “cures” for problems women didn’t know they had.

But I’m not cynical. That’s why I just founded The Pax Arcana Eyelid Stapling Program. Because let’s face it, ladies — no one likes a blinky woman.

For the Body-Conscious, It’s Now the Ankle That Rankles [WSJ]


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Monday Morning Filler: Kurt Cobain is looking pretty pasty

Pax Arcana

Since it’s Monday morning and you’re all probably just getting over your weekend long meth binges, here’s a little something guaranteed to make you throw up in your mouth just a little bit:

Via Father Scott via Will Leitch


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Friday Random 10: Funk Brunch Edition

Pax Arcana

gdaI don’t know about you, but I’ve been pretty stressed out lately. The economy is in the shitter, the Mets effing suck, and it’s done nothing but rain for two months in a row.

In dark times our spirits beg to be uplifted. What I need — what we ALL need, I say — is something positive to hook our hopes on to. Something that transcends the snark and cynicism. Something that cuts through the bullshit make-work and drudgery of our quotidian life. Something that offers our souls the sweet release they yearn for.

We need to go to Lowell.

Not for the murderous local newspaper or piles of duck corpses lining the Merrimack River, but because our friends at Lucy the Blog and the Western Avenue Studios are hosting the 1st Annual FoWAS Funk Brunch — a FREE celebration of the arts featuring live music from Glen David Andrews. I’ve posted a YouTube video of the man himself down below. I think you’ll see what I’m talking about. The July 26th event coincides with the Lowell Folk Festival, so you can make a whole day of it.

Anyway, the hosts of the FoWAS Funk Brunch want you to be a part of the celebration. You can find out more details on Facebook by searching for “1st Annual FoWAS Funk Brunch.” Here are the basics:

1st Annual FoWAS Funk Brunch

Sunday, July 26, 2009
11:00am – 2:00pm
Western Avenue Studios
122 Western Avenue
Lowell, MA

Now onto some songs:

Welfare Bread — King Khan and the Shrines
Twilight Galaxy — Metric
The Lie and How We Told It — Yo La Tengo
Call me Calmly — Barenaked Ladies
Plastis Wafers — Of Montreal
Mind’s Eye — Josh Ritter
Down in the City — The Sea and Cake
Hey Jude — The Beatles
Energy Spent — Liam Finn
Together — The Raconteurs

Bonus Video:

I’ll Fly Away — Glen David Andrews

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.


Filed under music