Comic-Con 2013

There are a lot of places where you can read about the extremely cool reveals and sneak peeks about the coming year in pop culture and general nerdery that is the San Diego Comic Con.  But chances are you’re seeing the Con through the eyes of someone with an all-access media pass or perhaps someone who enjoys some kind of celebrity status because of their cultural musings.  But, if you want to see the Con through the eyes of a regular, every day kind of geek (like myself), now is the time.

Having greased the applicable wheels, Sheree and I got a four day pass including preview night.  Typically, preview night is a chance to hit the exhibition hall with the intimate crowd of around 100,000 rather than 120,000 people.  This is the time for hardcore ebay merchants to secure all the Comic Con exclusives so they can hawk them at about 200% of their original value.  It’s a tactic we’ve tried before, but I think you need to have the predatory stock market mentality to make this work.  Like, you’ve got to be okay with stomping a sixty-year-old woman in the neck in order to make this lucrative.  They were also screening some new shows that will be out this fall, but I personally like to use preview night to get a feel for how that particular year is going to go.  Will there be a face-stabbing? Will the line gods be merciful? These are the important questions to contemplate on preview night.

Thursday was actually a pretty good day.  We started the day with a panel made up of film composers who have worked on superhero films.  This panel was cool for a few different reasons.  First, we got to see some footage from upcoming films.  For example, we saw a pretty decent clip from The Wolverine and one from the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show.  Second, it was kind of funny to see these guys address the fact that making music for a superhero movie often leads to their work and the work of an entire orchestra get drowned out by the audio assault of sound effects that are also a superhero staple.  John Debney, who did the score for Iron Man 2 was particularly eloquent about this dynamic.

After that, we hopped in line for Hall H.  Ah, Hall H.  There are two large venues at the Con–Ballroom 20 and Hall H.  These lines are governed by fickle deities who share a twisted sense of humor.  We’ve never had a positive Ballroom 20 line experience, but Hall H has its ups and downs.  On Thursday, the gods were sleepy and unfocused on tormenting lesser beings.  We were able to get in and see some footage from Ender’s Game and Divergent which was pretty cool.  The crowd freaks out about Harrison Ford, but you can’t really blame them.  Characters that he’s played make up a pretty huge chunk of the geek universe–Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Rick Deckard and let’s not forget that crotchety news anchor from Morning Glory.  He always seems to be slightly pissed off to have to come to Comic Con, and I’m not sure if it’s hilarious or off-putting.  I did like his response to a fanboy who asked him what would happen if Indiana Jones and Han Solo met eachother: “I imagine they’d say something like, ‘Hi.  How are you?'”

Immediately following this panel was one of Entertainment Weekly‘s Visionary panels, where they get a few random actors/directors to sit and chat about life in the creative arts.  I actually really like these panels–we’ve seen James Cameron and Peter Jackson discuss the future of motion capture and J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon discuss stage magic and films from the 1980’s.  This year, the lineup included Alfonso Cuaron, Edgar Wright and Marc Webb.  Occasionally these panels have an odd man out–someone who might not be on the same page as the other panelists, and this year I felt that Marc Webb was an odd choice.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a totally cool dude and I love (500) Days of Summer, but Alfonso Cuaron and Edgar Wright have these passion projects coming down the pipe, and he’s working on The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  All the same, it’s fun for a fan of movies and filmmakers to see these three guys chat about life in their world.  They always have a positive message about creativity and success to share, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Then Friday happened, and it nearly ruined everything.  In line at a quarter to seven, didn’t get into Hall H until around five.  Missed the Veronica Mars movie panel, and The Walking Dead season four panel.  Got in to see footage from the new Spider-Man, but that wasn’t worth the ten-hour wait.  Also, there was no way Hall H was filled to capacity.  We later heard through the grapevine that they were late letting people in, so way to screw up, Comic Con.  Dejected and sad, we went back to our hotel where we learned that there was no Santa Claus and that it was our parents that were leaving us money for our lost teeth.

We resolved to get started even earlier on Saturday–hit the Hall H line around five in the AM.  This time around, the line staff had learned from their mistakes and got a pretty early start.  We started off down by the bay, but as we slowly inched forth, it looked like the line gods were smiling upon us.  We managed to see all of the Hall H programming, and here’s the short list:

Sandra Bullock and Alfonso Cuaron: Gravity–movie looks awesome, Alfonso Cuaron is extremely polite and self-deprecating, and I thought Sandra Bullock was genuinely cool.

Godzilla, 300 2: 600, The Lego Movie: Meh.  Also, that’s not the real title for the new 300 movie.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt: Edge of Tomorrow–Tom Cruise and Chris Hardwick (the moderator and one of my personal idols) sang some Foreigner together–apparently Chris Hardwick played Stacee Jaxx in a lesser known production of Rock of Ages .  Not sure about Edge of Tomorrow, though.  I think they should have kept the title of the graphic novel from which it was adapted–All You Need is Kill.  The way the actors described it made it sound decent, but the trailer made it look like just  another sci-fi whatever-the-hell movie.

Then Zack Snyder popped out and was all, “Hey guys, here’s a thing with a guy!” which was followed up with a brief teaser image for an upcoming Batman/Superman movie.  It made me a bit tingly.

Catching Fire and I, Frankenstein: Lots of folks on hand for Catching Fire, though it was hard to keep track of all of them with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson being so damn entertaining and attractive.  I liked The Hunger Games and am looking forward to the sequel.  Boy, but I, Frankenstein looks like a steaming heap.  Aaron Eckhart was there, but I kinda felt bad that it was for this movie.

I’m sure there was some other stuff, but let’s talk about the moments that reignited the Comic Con magic that Friday had tried really hard to snuff out.  X-Men: Days of Future Past had all kinds of awesomeness happening.  Bryan Singer is directing, and it’s going to team the original cast of the X-Men films (minus Cyclops and Jean Grey.  Thanks Brett Ratner, you tool) with the cast of X-Men: First Class.  You know what that means? They were all there! Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy sitting next to Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart.  Badass.

At this point, I officially felt that particular type of Comic Con magic coursing through Hall H.  Regardless of how long I waited in line or how many people have gotten their sweat on me, seeing all of these amazing actors lend their talents to characters that have been like close friends throughout my childhood hanging out on one stage is pretty damn joyous.

And that was just the preshow.

The Marvel panel has traditionally been known to crank it up to eleven.  After all, we saw the Avengers assemble for the first time on that stage.

So.  Thor 2.  The panel starts off innocently enough.  Chris Hardwick brings out Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios and they chit chat a bit about their upcoming movies.  Then the lights go out.  No big deal, though.  They’re probably just showing the footage early because they’re behind schedule.  Whatevs.  Loki’s voice booms, “Humans.  Humans gathered in this pitiful kingdom of Midgard,” Right on.  Loki’s gonna be in this movie, so it makes sense that he’s the first voice you hear on the footage, “Known as…Hall H.” What? What? Whaaaaat? Boom! Tom Hiddleston in full Loki garb takes the stage and mocks us for our weakness.  Calls Chris Hardwick a “mewling quim.” Great stuff.  It looks like Thor 2 is going to involve lots of Dark Elf bashing.  Plus a possible love triangle among Lady Sif, Natalie Portman and Thor.  I’ll totally go see it.

Captain America 2: The whole cast was there–Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson.  My favorite part of the footage: Cap finds himself in an elevator at what I assume to be S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.  Small groups of dudes get in on each floor, but Cap notices some strangeness–one dude is sweating profusely, another shifts his weight like he’s packing heat.  When the elevator stops, Cap’s all, “I just have one thing to say: Any of you want to get out?” Cap proceeds to take these chumps down in a wicked close-proximity melee.  Very cool scene to open with.

Guardians of the Galaxy: I admit, when Marvel announced the movie adaptation of this comic, I thought to myself, “Wait.  The one with the space raccoon? Really?” But since following some buzz–James Gunn signing on to direct and Chris Pratt as Starlord–my interest was piqued.  And then, they showed the damn trailer and it’s now become a bit of an obsession.  John C. Reilly as a Kree detention officer going over the dossiers of each of the Guardians, and Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser claiming, “They sound like a bunch of a-holes.” was enough to make me giggle like an idiot.

Oh, and they wrapped with Joss Whedon popping out to announce the title of the new Avengers movie which will be…The Rise of Ullllltrooooon!!!! Well done, Marvel.

Sunday found us visiting panels chock full of authors, which is always a good way to spend the last day of the Con.  I really enjoyed the spotlight on Neil Gaiman, as he has a wonderfully soothing voice and when someone with a wonderfully soothing voice talks about books, writing and literature in general, I’m usually quite satisfied.

And that’s Comic Con year six, folks.  Though this is a pretty long post, and I feel like I’ve masterfully encapsulated our experience, it’s no match for attending and seeing it all for yourself.  It’s a bitch to get tickets, but my friends, it’s something that you must do at least once before someone kills you.

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2013: My Favorite Books So Far

It’s true; I’ll admit to it readily.

I’m kind of a book nerd.

I’ve been on a big reading binge for the last year or so, and I’ve been loving it.  I just hit 50 books read so far this year–you can see them all here, if you’re curious–#50 was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

So in honor of my nerdy milestone, here are some of my favorite books I’ve read this year.  And no, not all of these came out this year; these are just my favorites I’ve read so far.

My favorite novel so far:  After Dark by Haruki Murakami

(Runners up:  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Bridget Jones’ Diary)

I’ve never read Murakami before, but I after this, I’ll seek out more of his books.  It’s lovely, completely odd, and totally unforgettable and fascinating.  This book is set during one night in Tokyo–from midnight until dawn.  The book is grounded by the main characters Mari and Takashi, who meet at a 24-hour Denny’s that night.   The surreal elements sprinkled throughout the book might not be for everyone, but I loved the small, lovely moments Murakami creates, regardless of the weirdness–the conversation Mari and Takashi have when they first meet was captivating.  Short, sweet, and phenomenal.

My favorite YA book so far:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

(Runner up:  Code Name Verity, The Raven Boys)

This book caught me off guard with its awesomeness. It’s a simple story–misfits Eleanor and Park meet and fall in love… which kind of sounds horrible when I think about it.  Plus, it switches point of view between the two main characters, which is one of my book pet peeves.  But in spite of all that, somehow, it all works.  It’s really great little love story without the cutesy ridiculousness that bothers me about a lot of YA romance.  This quality of this book blew me away; I loved every bit of it.  I’ve already requested Rainbow Rowell’s next book, Fangirl, at the library.

My children’s lit. pick:  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

(Runner up:  The One and Only Ivan)

I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon for this book (since it won the Newbery three years ago), but I’m pretty glad I did. This is a phenomenal little story–for anyone, not just for kids.  Miranda, the main character, is a normal 6th grader in NYC, until she begins to receive mysterious notes from someone who appears to know her future–kind of an ambitious premise for a children’s book.  The references to A Wrinkle in Time were fun, but the characterization and setting actually reminded me more of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler–definitely a good thing, since that’s one of my all-time favorites.   Smart and charming and clever and likable.  Check it out if you haven’t yet.

My favorite nonfiction:  The Glass Castle

(Runners up:  Relish:  My Life in the Kitchen, Book Love)

It’s hard to believe that this is a true story, and it’s even harder to believe that someone could have that kind of a crazy childhood, become successful, and then be secure enough to write about it.   I recently read an interview with Jeannette Walls and her mother, who is now living in a cottage on her daughter’s property.  Really interesting, considering how horrifyingly irresponsible her parents came across in this book.  I had a bunch of students recommend this book to me, and I’m glad they did. I really liked it. It was very readable; it had great pacing and flow, which I think is sometimes lacking in nonfiction.

Lots and lots of good books–some disappointments, too (I’m looking at you, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, The Book of Lost Things, and Blood, Bones and Butter).  If anyone has recommendations for my next 50 this year, let me know!

If We Cancel the Apocalypse, What Video Games Will We Play?

Nuclear Grunge Sign - Sepia

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend E3 in Los Angeles (I dare you to read about it here).  While I was there, I noticed a pattern among several upcoming games–they all take place after the world as we know it has been ravaged by nuclear war, zombies or aliens.

I found this interesting, because it’s not just the video game industry that has cashed in on this post-apocalyptic goldmine.  Take a look at the most popular movies, TV shows and books, and you’ll notice this pattern as well.  We’re obsessed with the end of the world.

It’s a phenomenon that isn’t lost on me.  When I watched Night of the Living Dead for the first time, I found myself romanticizing the zombie apocalypse.  And why not? I wouldn’t have to go to school anymore, I could take whatever I wanted and maybe that girl I liked would finally see what a badass I really was after I saved her life by decapitating her zombified father.

It’s not hard to romanticize a world where each survivor is a lone gunman (or gunwoman) that is in complete control of his/her destiny.  It might involve scavenging for food, it might involve plugging someone who was once your friend, but it would be 100% your call.  I get it.  It’s cool.  But it’s also kind of scary.  Are we so sick of the way things are that we’d be willing to have it all flushed down the toilet regardless of the result? Is that why we’re obsessed with the end of the world? Or is it just that cool?

Either way, it’s tough to get around the nightmarish reality of surviving a hostile wasteland teeming with acid-spewing mutants and giant insects.  This is where video games come in.  I will always appreciate the fact that whenever I feel like roaming the skeletal remnants of my hometown in search of adventure, I can pop in my copy of Fallout: New Vegas and get it out of my system.

Aficion

Found on the Lego wall at Comic Con

Years ago, during one of my first semesters in college, I read the classic Hemingway novel The Sun Also Rises.  For those who haven’t read it, the book focuses on Jake, a WWI veteran and expat living in Paris,  who decides to travel with a group of his friends to Spain to see the running of the bulls.  When Jake is there, he meets a guy named Montoya and the two bond over their shared aficion–both men are passionate about bullfighting.  For these aficionados, there is a respect for the sport that goes beyond mere fandom, almost becoming a reverence aimed at something they both admire deeply.

In John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, the main character loves a book called An Imperial Affliction, and she expresses what it’s like to be an aficionado:  “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal.”

If you’re like me, you’ve experienced the same thing:  someone starts talking about a book, a TV show, a movie that you truly love and instead of enthusiastically joining in the conversation, you pause, trying to keep the skeptical look off of your face.  You get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.  These people, you realize, have no idea the awesomeness of the thing they’re talking about.  They lack aficion, you think, while simultaneously feeling slightly embarrassed at your own snobbery.  You smile at the offending parties, perhaps you nod as they talk about their favorite parts.  But inside, you know that these people aren’t aficionados and never will be.  They don’t understand or appreciate that album/book/song/movie the way you do.  So you politely change the subject and breathe a sigh of relief when the topic changes to something you don’t really care about, like boating trips or Game of Thrones.

Lines at Comic-Con are an interesting place to experience this very phenomenon.  Most people waiting are hard core–they know their fandoms and they take their love of pop culture seriously.  Last year, I had the most interesting conversation with two Canadian guys about whether The Big Bang Theory accurately portrayed nerd culture or, as they theorized, it was a form of “nerdface.”  Two years ago Alex and I met two actors in line for Hall H who just wanted to shoot the breeze about the movie industry.  They were casual and down to earth about their various stints in acting and screenwriting and fandom, completely lacking the pretention you might expect from that kind of conversation.

Not all fans at the Con have aficion, however.  We once encountered a Han Solo cosplayer who was loudly talking about Star Wars and Firefly without any level of true aficion, as if he were showing off for the rest of us in line.  I also found his distaste for Twilight fans to be a bit ironic–if you’re obsessed enough to dress in a Han Solo costume, you don’t get to pass judgment on other people’s fandom.  Considering how far back we were and how unlikely it was that we were getting in to see the panel we were waiting for, it was particularly frustrating.

So, where does your aficion lie?  What fandoms transcend mere interest and become a passion for you?

Books about Clones: A Double Feature

Quick note:  I recently read these two books back-to-back.  I had no idea they were both about clones; I just knew that both had gotten good reviews, so I checked them out.  It just so happened they were both about an obscure science fiction topic.  Go figure.

Never Let Me Go

Summary from Goodreads:  As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

My review:  Really great idea here–I love the fact that this is essentially sci-fi without any of the typical tropes and conventions of the genre–no flying cars or lasers here.  A book about kids who are raised for the sole purpose to be organ donors?  Very interesting idea.  It could have been really heavy-handed with the message, too, but Ishiguro never lays it on too thick.  However… I just didn’t love it. I appreciated it, but it didn’t grab me and slap me in the face.  I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and Kath’s narration, while I understand the point of it, just never clicked with me. She’s a very detached narrator, simply impartially telling the story while letting readers interpret all emotion from their side.  Interesting, but the impassivity made the book not as gripping as it could have been if told otherwise.

The House of the Scorpion

Summary from Goodreads:  Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?

My review:  This book has a great premise–it tells the story of a young boy who is the clone of a powerful drug lord. This is futuristic dystopia, but done in a really unique way. I really liked the setting and the plot setup–creating a drug country between the US and Mexico called Opium is a bold move in a young adult novel; however, I didn’t love the writing style. It felt a little too children’s lit for me, especially considering the intense subject matter.  And I wasn’t the only one confused by where this book fits:  it got a Newberry Honor (one of the top children’s book prizes), a Printz Honor (one of the top YA awards) and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  Granted, that also means that it was a pretty good book; I just wish it would have come down more on the side of YA, and perhaps cut scenes from Matteo’s childhood.  The characterization in this book is definitely a positive point.  Matteo’s conflicted relationship with the 150-year old El Patron is complex and fascinating.  El Patron is a supremely evil dude, but he treats Matteo well in a world that devalues the lives of clones.  It’s also interesting how Matteo exhibits some of El Patron’s personality traits–is Matteo destined to become like the villainous El Patron?  The ending of this book felt a bit rushed, but apparently Nancy Farmer’s working on a sequel.  It’ll be interesting to see where she takes Matteo Alacran next.

Why Parks and Rec Could Be As Successful As The Simpsons

The cast of the first season Parks and Recreat...

This is Leslie Knope, and she wants to recruit you.

Having adorned The Office with a schmaltzy series finale and sending it on its way to TV heaven (or hell, depending on how you felt about the last few seasons.  My vote is for hell), NBC is in dire need of a flagship sitcom that can carry the network through the often risky waters of new programming.  The obvious–and correct–choice is Parks and Recreation.  I’ve often thought that Parks and Recreation and The Office share the same relationship that Kal-el shares with Krypton.  Right when The Office was starting to suck, Greg Daniels jettisoned Parks and Recreation into the vast galaxy of network television.  Enhanced by Earth’s yellow sun, Parks and Recreation became a symbol of truth, justice and mockumentary shenanigans.  Since I’d like the show to stick around for as long as possible, I’m willing to open my brain to those Jack Donaghy-types at NBC and explain why Parks and Recreation has the potential to become as successful and prolific as The Simpsons.

The City of Pawnee

One of the brilliant ideas that has kept The Simpsons pumping for twenty some-odd years is the fact that the city of Springfield is a character.  It’s a weird city that can generate weird characters and events in a way that doesn’t seem forced.  When writers have a huge roster of supporting characters that they can weave in and out of the main characters’ lives, their options for stories expands.  Exponentially.

Parks and Recreation has this going for it.  Pawnee has been established not only as a setting, but as a place that can spawn a certain type of person depending on what the story needs.  They’ve taken advantage of Pawnee, and as a result, we’ve gotten some great recurring characters–most notably the sex-crazed Councilman Dexhart (Kevin Symons) and exhibitionist/journalist Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins).

Guest Stars With a Purpose

Though The Simpsons has kind of been failing at this lately, I remember when they would create a character that paired perfectly with the guest star.  When John Waters guest starred as the flamboyant owner of “Cockamamie’s,” it was epic.  His presence in that episode could not have been emulated.  

Parks and Recreation has featured some of the best guest stars in recent history.  There’s Paul Rudd as so-likable-he’s-hateable Bobby Newport, Lucy Lawless as a love interest worthy of Ron Swanson, Will Forte’s Twilight-obsessed time capsule enthusiast, Louis C.K. as Leslie’s terminally awkward love interest/law enforcement officer, and let’s not forget Patton Oswalt ad-libbing a filibuster that was so grandiose that it spawned a faux-movie poster.

Excellent Supporting Cast

From the get go, I loved the decision to cast talented actors who–until now of course–have spent a considerable amount of time under the radar.  Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari and Nick Offerman (though I do miss Paul Schneider)  make up perhaps one of the greatest supporting casts of any TV show ever.  The showrunners even handled the addition of Ben and Chris (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe) with a surprising amount of grace.  Their integration into the existing cast was seamless, and it opened the gates to some excellent storylines–my personal favorite being when Donna and Tom try to cheer Ben up by talking him into buying a Batman costume.

If you’re like me, then you don’t really care that The Office isn’t on anymore, because you’ve been watching Parks and Recreation anyway.  However, if you’re pining for Jim, Pam, and the rest of the Dunder Mifflin crew, it’s time to get over it.     The first four seasons of Parks and Recreation are streaming on Netflix.

Food That Tastes Like Other Food

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Recently, Jones Soda announced a limited-edition poutine-flavored soft drink to be sold to our neighbors to the north.  The popular Canadian food poutine–which is french fries, covered in cheese curds, covered in gravy–is delicious, in case you’ve never tried it.  Poutine soda?  Sounds pretty gnarly.  Unfortunately, this product will only be available to adventurous Canadian eaters.  However, there are lots of companies that have done a similar feat in merging two food flavors.   Here are some greatest hits:

Turkey dinner Jones soda:   That’s right, people; I’ve eaten something very similar to the poutine soda.  An entire turkey dinner in soda form.  This limited-edition boxed set was released about 7 years ago, which contained five repellent flavors:  turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry, and Brussels sprouts.  Yeesh.  The worst offender?  Stuffing flavored soda.  It tasted like salt water, flavored with some dried herbs.  Even the cranberry and pumpkin pie flavors were gross.  The whole thing was a soda abomination.    D-

Doritos Locos tacos @ Taco Bell:  The latest fad in food-that-tastes-like-other-food, the Doritos Locos taco is a normal taco, with a nacho cheese or cool ranch Dorito shell.  I’ve tried both varieties, and I’m not as sold as others in the mass populous.  To me, the cheese flavor just tasted like an overly salted taco, and the cool ranch variety kinda got lost in the faux-meat flavor of the inner filling.  But not repellent.     Both varieties:  B

Root beer milk from Winder Dairy:  I recently discovered that at any moment, I could walk to my local grocery store and buy a jug of milk that tastes like root beer.   My mind was blown.  This stuff is delicious; it is reminiscent of the moment when the ice cream melts in your root beer float.  Refreshing, tasty, and strange.   A

French toast Goldfish cookies:   It wouldn’t surprise me to see crack listed as an ingredient in these little cookies. That’s how delicious and addicting they are.  This isn’t the only variety of Goldfish cookie that tastes like another food; they’ve also got vanilla cupcake and s’mores varieties.  But the french toast flavor is by far the best:  a strong maple flavor complements the graham cracker flavor of the cookie, and each fish is covered with a nice douse of sugar.  I have a serious problem with these cookies.  I may or may not have a few empty bags on the floor at my feet right this second…   A+

Bacon-flavored foods:  I’m not sure what exactly happened, but all the sudden, bacon has a cultural cache that has taken the food world by storm.  Pretty much anything can be bacon-flavored nowadays.  I’ve seen bacon-flavored popcorn, bacon chocolate, bacon candy, bacon-flavored drink syrups…  and most sound pretty disgusting.  The one I’ve tried is bacon salt–which doesn’t sound like such a horrible idea.  Perhaps the smokiness of bacon would be a nice addition to salt?  Think again.  This was slightly smoky, but mostly just tasted processed and weird.    C-

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