The NULL Solution = Episode 14

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The NULL Solution = Episode 14

…there is a shiny spheroid here, close enough to the Sun that it should be melting to its core…

… as a propaganda video put together by Bassett’s people is keeping everyone occupied, Roy is getting unexpected feedback from back in SOL Control.

“Gus isn’t making the turn.”

A simple ‘What?’ will not do. He flees the stage like the prune juice he had for breakfast had suddenly done its job. He commandeers a security hovercraft to hasten his presence where it counts most. Is Gus incapacitated? That’s his stepson out there about 80 million miles + rising. The possibilities are endless.

Once at the interspace communication cube, he tries to get some answers. “Are you there, Gus?”

After a few seconds, he repeats the simple request.

“Yes Roy, I’m here. This thing seems to have a mind of its own.  I checked my heading and it wants to go to other side of the galaxy or somewhere thereabouts.”

“Override the auto-nav. Even at SOL you’re in no man’s land. This mission is over, get back here STAT.”

There are multiple factors at work here.

“I am exactly on the other side of the sun… and there is a shiny spheroid here, close enough that it should be melting to its core!”

Mercury by Maddy P. from Palmcrest Elementary

“Could that be Mercury, we haven’t looked at it much since Messenger back in 20-teens?”

“Negative on Mercury, I passed that hotspot in a flash 5 million miles ago.” Human beings are so adaptable. “I’m back in control of SEx, slowing down to get a closer look. I can tell you one thing, somebody made this thing. It ain’t no run-of-the-mill planetoid.”

“Make sure you get some selfies of that thing and head back,” That is the good news. The bad news, “I know it’s a bitch, being Saturday and all, but land over at Osceola AFB instead… I got them believing Deke is with you.”

There is no response from an astronaut who is anxious to get back to wife Mindy and a carefully planned, long overdue date-night…


The NULL Solution =

Episode 14


page 20

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 262

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 262

…the McKinney custom of sharing a meal with the Eridanians continues, but…

Van Gogh: Three People Sharing a Meal

…One solitary creature stays behind, having eavesdropped on the serious, troubling conversation between family members. Ekcello did not enjoy spying on them, but it is the only way he can gauge their emotional temperature; not only the immediate, but the long run effect. The humans have permeated his perfect previously ordered world and it concerns him.

Would he, could he allow Eridanus slip back into that trap, the morass of emotion and busy-ness that they had worked so many years to suppress? Or is this Earthly infusion what his world needs to step away from the sideline of galactic influence, back into the main-stem of time and space?

And what is best (or fairest) outcome for these strangers in a strange land? Ekcello knows full well that this is not where they belong. —

Strangers

— For some reason, perhaps wanting nothing to do with sleep, after two-point-five years of it, or maybe the overall mellowing of his general personality, Gus lightens up considerably. Being in the presence of universal beauty may be part of it, along with his brother’s keen interest in one specific beauty; “Cool beans… Say Deke, when was the last time you’ve been on a real date? Was it that electrical engineer in the propulsion department; smarter than she was pretty, but prettier than she was interesting?”

He glares back at him. Gus has the Sampson McKinney gene for speaking out of class, as well as forgetting that the walls have ears, “She can hear you, fool!” He is quite protective of her feelings. “Cerella is explaining a specific function on the food module and you are talking smack!”

“Tell me they have pizza here?!” Gus can only hope.

“She has done her best to program some of my favorites.” Deke has the dope. “She is closing in on liver & onions (pause for effect),” the steaming round object, flat and smeared with a red sauce, dotted with something, and topped with something else that seems to have melted, has miraculously appeared in their wall-mounted food dispenser, “oh and pizza”.

Together, this cosmic trio, consisting of 2 prospective lovers and one Gus, sit around a table sampling the neo-American delicacy and its odd gratification. The one who is new to pizza is exhilarated by the experience; thus are the unpretentious pleasures of the simple life.


THE RETURN TRIP

Artwork by @david_rollyn #liveyourquest

Episode 262


page 305

Contents TRT

Beer Garden Heaven USA – WIF Travel

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THE  BEST

BEER GARDENS

IN AMERICA

Radegast
RADEGAST | COLE SALADINO/THRILLIST
barleygarden
BRILLIANCE PHOTOGRAPHY

BARLEYGARDEN

ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA

A fairly recent addition to the ranks of America’s finest beer gardens, having just opened in April 2017, Barleygarden’s made what could have been a fairly stale suburban outdoor shopping plaza/ mixed use development… legitimately cool? Part of that legitimacy comes from owner Kraig Torres, whose Hop City has been making Atlanta beer drinking craftier for years now, and having big-time local chef/butcher Kevin Ouzts in the kitchen turning out charcuterie-centric grilled cheeses doesn’t hurt, either. Throw in a two-tiered open-air patio and the fact that you can take to-go drinks throughout the development and… maybe the suburbs aren’t so bad?

 

bangers austin
BANGERS

BANGER’S

AUSTIN, TEXAS

With over 100 beers on tap and 30+ house-made sausages, the sprawling, perpetually thronged Banger’s isn’t just one of Austin’s best beer gardens. It’s also one of its best beer bars. And one of its best booze-soaking sausage parties. And its best dog-friendly drinkery. And a great brunch spot. And… look, this is is a must-visit spot no matter how you slice it. But you should be slicing it with a couple hundred other thirsty revelers on a patio lit by hanging lights on a cool Austin night. Oh, it’s also one of the best places to hang out on a cool Austin night. Did we mention that this place rules? Or that they have a fantastic brunch. Or firkin tappings? Or…

Radegast
COLE SALADINO/THRILLIST

RADEGAST

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Now pushing a decade of ably providing Williamsburg residents (and guests) with all the liters of beer, beer-absorbing brats, similarly functioning pretzels and time-passing card games they can possibly handle, Radegast remains a favorite of the neighborhood and, more (or less?) importantly,Thrillist editors. There’s live music daily (which may or may not include an accordion player jovially foot-tapping on your table). There’s a retractable roof ensuring that your biergartening plans remain steadfastly weather-proof. There’s a good time to be had, every time.

VBGB Beer Garden
VBGB BEER HALL & GARDEN

VBGB BEER HALL & GARDEN

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

Being located adjacent to the NC Music Factory makes VBGB an essential Charlotte stop if you’re headed to a concert. But even if it was located next to a ferret-breeding center (good lord, no!), this sprawling beer garden would be a must-visit. Beers flow from 30+ local-centric taps into 12-, 18-, and 34-ounce glasses, the latter of which could seriously hinder or help your abilities to play giant Jenga, Connect Four, and chess. But if you really want to channel your inner Maverick, there’s also a five-court volleyball sandbox where you’ll be too busy executing wayward spikes to lament the fact that there’s no Goose (Island) around to help you out.

 

sheffields beer garden
WILL BYINGTON PHOTOGRAPHY

SHEFFIELD’S

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Sheffield’s has evolved as an establishment over the years, evolving from a craft-centric dive to… a craft-centric dive with a BBQ-based menu and a bar-within-the-bar dubbed “Beer School” that has its own tap list. But changes aside, the welcoming beer garden has remained its constant spiritual center (yes, even in the punishing winter). The shade-giving cottonwood trees and vine-covered walls make it feel like you’re enjoying a beer in a friend’s backyard… if your friend happened to have the space to stock some 200 varieties of beer, including 40 on tap. No one has friends like that, which is why Chicago has Sheffield’s.

Park & Field
PARK & FIELD

PARK & FIELD

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

When Park & Field in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood in winter 2016, it was abundantly clear that the colder months would just be a prelude to the real debut for the vintage-channeling sports bar, thanks to a simultaneously sprawling and cozy 6,000 square foot patio. OK fine, they didn’t necessarily wait entirely to use that outdoor space, thanks to some fire pits and Adirondack chairs, but beer-garden life is inarguably better when the sun is shining and you’re clutching a cold Half Acre and maybe some s’mores (yes, they still use those fire pits in the summer).

MECKLENBURG GARDENS

CINCINNATI, OHIO

Even tougher than Angela Merkel’s shoulder pads, this historic spot has survived for nearly 150 years — and not without a fight. When Prohibition came a-knockin’, Mecklenburg employed the services of a bootlegging boat to keep its customers hydrated. When it entered a ’60s slump, the management turned the place around into a Mobil (now Forbes) four-star restaurant and got the building on the National Register of Historic Places. And when debt closed its doors in 1982, it patiently waited for the current managers to come along and restore the place to its Bavarian glory. A story like that deserves a liter of Spaten. Lucky you, they’re happy to accommodate.

Truck Yard
TRUCK YARD DALLAS

THE TRUCK YARD

DALLAS, TEXAS

The grand beer garden tradition gets a healthy dose of ‘Murican influences at this 15,000 square foot space, styled with the finest trailer-park decor touches like crappy lawn chairs, spare tires, and scrap metal art. Even better? Food trucks slinging tacos and pizza are parked there every day, so you can go ahead and have another Shiner. Or another Community Mosaic IPA. Or another frozen trash can punch — beer gardens don’t have to be ALL about beer, you guys.

BAVARIAN INN

FRANKENMUTH, MICHIGAN

Frankenmuth is one of those weird wormholes of a town where most of the city is emulating a place halfway around the globe. But holy shit do they do it right. This is, in fact, a place sandwiched between Lakes Huron and Michigan where the men don lederhosen and the women squeeze into dirndls while carrying enough liters of beer to make a CrossFit enthusiast buckle at the knees… and that’s before they bring out an all-you-can-eat fried-chicken spread. Excessive? You betcha. But when you’re sitting on the humid patio of the massive property’s Schnitzelbank Bier Garten among hundreds of contented people with bellies full of beer and over-salted chicken, nothing else really matters… especially when the live polka band makes the rounds like a lederhosen-clad mariachi band.

The Rathskeller
THE RATHSKELLER

THE RATHSKELLER

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

“Rathskeller” translates to “basement beer hall,” but you’ll just have to overlook that as you resist the taxidermied charm of the moose heads lining the interior walls. The real attraction here’s the outdoor area, loaded with picnic tables and featuring a band shell for live music and plenty of thirsty Hoosiers. The beers are large, the people drinking them are friendly, and heat lamps stand guard to ensure the drinking continues deep into the night, even when the weather’s not ideal… weather seldom keeps a Midwesterner from a beer.

 

beer park vegas
ANTHONY MAIR

BEER PARK

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

You had to figure beer gardens would manifest themselves a bit differently in Vegas. Case in point: This Bud-sponsored, second-story oasis in Vegas. Because it has 100 beers available, including two dozen taps. But you should get bottles, since the tables have built-in ice troughs to keep them cold. The grounds are outfitted with turf. The open-air bar is surrounded by flat-screens. And there’s pool, cornhole, and giant Jenga. It’s like a high-tech biergarten theme park, and it’s incredible.

 

Estabrook Beer Garden
ESTABROOK BEER GARDEN

ESTABROOK BEER GARDEN

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

If you want to visit a quite literal beer garden, we direct you to Estabrook, a spot located in Estabrook Park along the Milwaukee River that’s so legit, it’s out of the public transit’s reach. (The official site recommends arriving by “foot, bicycle, automobile, kayak, or canoe.”) Estabrook prides itself on being a truly public beer garden, so patrons are encouraged to bring their own picnics or even steins. And if you’re not into providing your own food supply, complete the full-on Wisconsin picture and hit up the Friday fish fry.

 

the pharmacy nashville
MIMOSA ARTS

THE PHARMACY BURGER PARLOR & BEER GARDEN

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

Slinging some of Nashville’s best burgers along with a murderers’ row of some of the finest German and Belgian beers available in Nashville, the Pharmacy would be a great bar even before you stumble onto the beer garden. This is a place that takes the “garden” part of that word mighty seriously, with tons of crowded tables shaded by overhanging trees and rows and rows of greenery. And at night, the place takes on an almost ethereal glow under the hanging lights. It’s kind of likeThe Secret Garden, though considering it’s always crowded, we’re guessing that the secret got blown long ago.

 

Bayou Beer Garden
BAYOU BEER GARDEN

BAYOU BEER GARDEN

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Surrounded with palm trees and rocking multiple flat-screens, the sprawling Bayou Beer Garden is like a glorious melding of beachside bar, sports-centric drive-in theater, and raucous New Orleans beer bar all rolled into one. The place rocks 180 global beers to choose from — including 24 rotating taps — that you can pair with everything from amped-up crab-cake bites to Disco Fries loaded with roast beef debris. And if for some reason you wandered into a beer garden with somebody who hates beer, the nearly identical adjoining Bayou Wine Garden helps you split the difference.

 

Prost!
PROST!

PROST!

PORTLAND, OREGON

Portland’s blessed with tons of great beer served at picnic tables. But Prost! has long been the king of local biergartens. It’s not just the fact that the dog-friendly outdoor deck is equipped with its own bar that serves up a wide array of German beers in its proper glassware, though that’s a huge plus. It’s also situated next to a food cart cluster where you’re welcome to go grab a sushi burrito or vegan BBQ if the excellent schnitzel from Prost! doesn’t do the trick. The joint — located on the wildly popular Mississippi drag of Portland hipness — also hosts a glorious Oktoberfest party, and the owners recently bought the entire property and the adjoining cart pod. If you don’t live in Portland, that just sounds like good business. In a neighborhood where beloved businesses are razed daily to make room for condos, it means that the carts — and the biergarten — represent a longtime anchor in a neighborhood whose identity changes with more regularity than this institution’s taps.

 

bohemian beer hall
FLICKR/WALLY GOBETZ

BOHEMIAN HALL & BEER GARDEN

QUEENS, NEW YORK

Established in 1910, this Astoria institution has seen more beer-soaked nights than 35 frat houses combined. The place is owned and managed by a Czech and Slovak community group, and those influences are apparent in dishes like the fried muenster and drafts like Staropramen. Oh, and in the absolutely massive beer garden — the Czechs and Slovaks like beer, in case you haven’t heard.

BIERGARTEN

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

After six years in business, Biergarten has established itself as a big dog in a city that isn’t exactly hurting for great spots to drink beer outside. The extremely limited beer selection (don’t fix what ain’t broken) leans Bavarian, and comes by the liter or half liter. Food’s less traditional, with brats and currywurst holding court next to burgers and pretzel dumplings. And everything here is served up on a massive patio with a lone centerpiece tree holding court over everything from Friday movie nights to raucous happy-hour drinking.

 

Lowry Beer Garden
LOWRY BEER GARDEN

LOWRY BEER GARDEN

DENVER, COLORADO

Sure, this beer garden is situated on the grounds of a former Air Force Base, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get sweeping views of an old B-52 bomber (courtesy of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum next door) from any of the 225 seats outside. Colorado cools off when the sun goes down, but two outdoor fire pits, 16 taps of Colorado’s finest suds – Avery, Odell, and Left Hand among them — and a panoply of “creatively topped” brats and burgers — like the B-52 Bomber with double bacon, mushrooms, onions, and blue cheese — will keep you plenty warm if the beer doesn’t during one of the venue’s many outdoor concerts on a cool summer night.

rhein haus
COURTESY OF RHEIN HAUS

RHEIN HAUS

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Now that lawn darts have been outlawed, bocce ball has become the de facto sport for launching potentially injurious projectiles toward competitors, and it’s the game of choice at this Seattle institution. That mostly goes down at the courts inside this 420-seat beer hall, while the massive outdoor biergarten lets you cool off/calm your pulse after almost being beaned by a wayward ball over German-centric pints in the packed, sunny (well, it’s Seattle, so that’s relative) biergarten. Indoor or out, it’s the perfect collision between German food/drink and Italian sports that you never knew you needed.

 

american fresh beer garden
COURTESY OF AMERICAN FRESH BEER GARDEN

AMERICAN FRESH

SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS

You don’t necessarily expect to pair a trip to a top-flight beer garden with a trip to Legoland and maybe some sensibly priced khakis from J. Crew, but such is the existence of American Fresh, the cool kid in Somerville’s otherwise somewhat corporate-feeling Assembly Row development. Run by Somerville Brewing Company, it augments plentiful craft drafts with a funky, colorful space flanked by shipping containers supplying merch and sustenance (don’t miss the pretzel). Also, this beer garden’s equipped with a heated tent, and thus impervious to Nor’easters.

 

Dacha
DACHA

DACHA

WASHINGTON, DC

Opened back in 2013 by a couple of Russians with an affinity for German beer (you know, before “Russian” appeared in every fifth news headline), Dacha has become a DC day-drinking must thanks to an airy mural-backed beer garden where you can rest easy knowing you’re in equally good hands if you’re feeling like downing a crisp lager from das boot or helping yourself to something hop heavy. In a similar vein, the menu blends beer garden musts like pretzels that are equal parts large, soft, and delicious with less expected fair like rabbit croquettes and beer-braised goat poutine.


Beer Garden

Heaven USA

– WIF Travel

A Little Skittle-butt – WIF I Candy

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Tasty Facts

About Skittles

Unless, like us, you always have a bag of them ready to rock in your freezer (seriously, try Skittles straight from the freezer, they taste amazing), you probably don’t spare much thought for the rainbow colored candy snack unless you’re eating them. Well, we do. So we compiled this list of stories and facts about the candy. Partly because it’s interesting, but mostly because we really want them to sponsor us so we can live our dream of Scrooge McDuck-ing our way into a giant pile of these delicious treats.

 10. They once drained all of the color from their packaging and product during Pride Week

One of the most visually distinctive aspects of Skittles is that each bag contains more colors than a blender full of Marvel comics. Mars (Skittles’ parent company) has played up to the smattering of color each bag of their product contains by coining the tagline “taste the rainbow” and it’s hard to imagine the company would ever abandon their distinctly fabulous design and color scheme.

In fact, the company has only ever dropped the rainbow colored profile of their brand once, in 2016, in celebration of London Pride Week.

As Skittles detailed in a PR letter, they wanted the only rainbow that week to be the Pride flag and to that end released an unsettlingly boring special edition bag of Skittles totally devoid of any color. In addition, the Skittles inside the bag were similarly Spartan, being entirely white (though they were still flavored). The company then handed out thousands of these nega-Skittles from a giant, colorless float in the Pride parade. Speaking of being pelted with Skittles…

9. There’s a band who love them so much they get showered with them every time they play

Relient K is a Christian rock band that has enjoyed moderate mainstream success and has toured extensively since the late ’90s. The author of this piece is actually a big fan of the band and highly recommends their cover of Africa, his favorite song. Moving on, the band, along with loving them some Jesus, adores Skittles, going so far as to release a hidden song on one of their albums (a thing people owned before MP3s became a thing) talking about how great they are. Prior to this the band would often eat entire bags of Skittles between songs while performing, and made sure to mention on their rider for each performance that they needed their green room to contain a near infinite amount of the candy.

This love of Skittles saw it become a tradition of sorts for fans to pelt the band with bags of Skittles while playing. Amusingly, years later, the lead singer of the band admitted that he wasn’t a big a fan of the candy as his bandmates and was getting kind of annoyed with being beaned on the head 3 times per show by a large bag of flavorful delights. Information that just encouraged fans to throw even more, because of course it did.

8. They have one of the few non-embarrassing corporate Facebook pages

Skittles are a brand noted as being one of the earliest to recognize the marketing potential of social media, and have been consistently praised for their genuine understanding of the platform strengths and limitations and humor while interacting with fans. In particular, the Skittles Facebook page has often been singled out as one of the best corporate fan pages out there because it’s actually kind of entertaining.

Along with doing boring corporate stuff like responding to complaints and sharing fan photos, the brand seemed to have hired whoever runs Ryan Reynolds’ social media accounts, sharing irreverent observations that have both bemused and entertained fans for years. Gems dropped by the Skittles Facebook page (which, remember, is an official arm of the brand) include:

“If chinchillas ever lost their cool they’d have to change their name.”

“Everytime you like this a turtle learns kung-fu”

“Marshmallows don’t dissolve, they just use hot cocoa to teleport to their homeworld”

All of which we think we can all agree are infinitely better to read than the sterile corporate doublespeak touted on other, lesser official Facebook pages. Then again, it’s not like Skittles didn’t have some early missteps while using social media. For example, consider the time they…

7. Brought down Twitter, with fisting

Early in 2009, when Twitter wasn’t yet the massive, globally recognized force it is today, Skittles tried to dip their toes into the world of tweeting by changing the front page of their official website to display the feeds from their various official social media platforms. In specific regard to the Twitter bit, the brand decided it would be a good idea to display any tweets people sent to the company. You can probably guess what happened next.

Fisting happened. Or rather, thousands of people tweeted the brand with a deluge of profanity that was then proudly displayed on their official website. So many thousands of people tried flooding Skittles’ homepage with profane content that, for a brief moment, they actually brought down Twitter. In other words, Skittles once actually broke (a small part of) the internet, by inviting people to have the most offensive things they could squeeze into a 140 character long tweet displayed for millions of people (and Mars’ shareholders) to see. Take that, Kim Kardashian. And while we’re on the subject of viral tweets…

6. Their response to a Donald Trump Jr. tweet is considered a textbook example of how to respond to controversy

In 2016, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted an image comparing refugees fleeing ISIS with a bowl of poisoned Skittles. You probably heard about it. It was pretty big news and for a moment, everyone was looking kind of awkwardly at Skittles, wondering how in the hell they were supposed to respond to something like that. Think about it: not commenting on the statement would look like tacit endorsement of the sentiment of the comment, whereas addressing it could be misconstrued as trying to capitalize on the controversy. Skittles were, in most people’s eyes, kind of screwed no matter what they did.

With all eyes turned to them and a public waiting for the brand to slip up, a few hours after the tweet going viral, Skittles issued a frank statement through an official from Mars to a newspaper simply saying that Skittles are candy and refugees are people and that they didn’t wish to comment further. This astonishingly classy way of handling what could have been a minefield of controversy for the brand has been cited by experts on PR as a sterling example of how a company should operate online. In other words, the same company that talks online about chinchillas losing their cool also somehow managed to smoothly shut down controversy about their brand being used to dehumanize people fleeing an active warzone. Say what you want about the controversy, this just shows that Skittles has some amazing people working for its PR department.

5. A pack of Skittles somehow contains a decent percentage of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C

Moving away from politics and Donald Trump, which we’re sure has already got some people arguing in the comments, let’s discuss the fact that Skittles are one of the only a handful of candies that could technically be part of a balanced diet.

This is because unlike most every other kind of candy that have less health benefits than the wrapper they’re packaged in, a small bag of Skittles supposedly contains about 50% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C for an 8 year old (which is about 49% more than we assumed when we started researching this), and 25% for an adult. This means that unlike, well, any other candy, there’s a quantifiable benefit to eating Skittles rather than, say, M&M’S or Jolly Ranchers, which have no real nutritional value. While we’re not saying that you should shovel these things into your mouth by the handful, it’s quite nice to know that at the very least, you’re getting something from them to make you feel ever so slightly less guilty.

4. If you leave them in water the trademark S will mysteriously float off

One of the last things Mars does before they send off Skittles to be bought and consumed by the public is add the little S you can find on every candy. This little S is written using a non-water soluble ink that is attached using an apparently delicious kind of edible glue we’re annoyed you can’t buy in stores.

When you submerge Skittles inside any kind of liquid, this S will magically float off and rise to the surface and sit there, waiting for you to either drink it or try to pull it out using your fingers, only to watch it do that annoying thing where it moves just out of the way every single time you pinch your digits together. There’s no real reason to do this, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re ever at a party, have a few on hand, and want to make someone think their drink is being haunted by an angry snake. And you always know it’s going to work because…

3. They destroy any Skittle that doesn’t have an S on it

Like any brand, Skittles are subjected to strict quality control measures that see them being checked against perfect examples of the candy we assume are kept in a comically well guarded vault. Since so many millions of Skittles are produced every single day, people in charge of quality control simply check one Skittle out of every so many thousand produced, and if it doesn’t look right, all of them will be destroyed.  

Since there’s not exactly many things that can really go wrong with producing a small, spherical candy with an S on it, that’s really the only thing they check for. In other words, Mars will happily destroy thousands of perfectly edible Skittles just because they don’t have that thing on it nobody really cares about. For anyone curious about what happens to these imperfect Skittles, the company crushes them and sells them as animal feed, meaning somewhere out there is a cow that eats nothing but Skittles all day. And now, we’re jealous of that cow, even if it does have to eat those awful yellow ones. Speaking of which…

2. There are always more yellow Skittles in a bag, for some reason

Millions of Skittles are made every day in roughly equal amounts, which are then sorted into the bags you can buy in stores. However, if you’ve ever actually opened up a bag and counted how many of each color are in there, you may notice that there are way more yellow ones.

Nobody is really quite sure why this is the case and Skittles won’t answer our emails, but if you take a look at videos of the candy being made you’ll notice that for some reason, yellow Skittles seem to end up in the same vats as other colors. Exactly why this happens isn’t clear but a theory is that since yellow is the cheapest color to produce, it’s the one made in the highest quantities. The theory continues that the plentiful yellow Skittles are then accidentally sorted along with other colors, explaining why you always seem to find more of them. Again, we have no idea if this is true but it’s for sure a better explanation than Skittles just like messing with us.

1. There’s a terrible film where they tried to be the next Reese’s Pieces

There’s a scene in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial where the eponymous E.T. is lured out of a closet by a trail of Reese’s Pieces. This scene is noted as being one of the singular most successful cases of product placement ever, resulting in a sales increase of nearly 300% for Reese’s Pieces. As it turns out, Mars were originally offered that lucrative deal for M&M’S, but turned it down.

Not wanting to pass up this kind of chance twice, Mars jumped at the chance to have Skittles appear in an almost identical movie called Mac and Me. If you’ve never seen it, Mac and Me is often referred to as one of the worst movies ever made, mostly because it’s an unapologetic cash grab full of shameless product placement for Skittles, Coke, and McDonald’s. As an example of how utterly flagrant this film is in promoting the brands, it features: a break-dancing scene set entirely inside a McDonald’s; Coke as the only thing the aliens in the film will drink; and a character who wears a McDonald’s uniform in every scene they appear in. Unsurprisingly, Skittles didn’t suddenly notice a 300% boost in sales after the movie was released because nobody went and saw this movie. In fact, we’ll bet more people have seen that clip where a kid in a wheelchair falls off a cliff. Particularly since Paul Rudd shows it literally every time he ever appears on Conan O’Brien’s show.


A Little Skittle-butt

– WIF I Candy

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 134

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 134

…after Francine self-parks her new bulletproof baby from Buckaroo Bob, they go up to the 20th floor where Braden King’s room is; Pediatric CCU

“Uncle Roy told us you that you drive a Corvette?” Deke McKinney is confused about Francine picking them up in an eight-seat APV (armored personal vehicle).

Buckaroo Bob Bumfort Sr.

“Two seats, three people, one license and stranger danger, all add up to me using this APV. That’s why it took me so long to pick you up. I had to park the ‘Vette, go to my GMC dealership and test drive something more sensible and safe.”

Buckaroo Bob Bumfort?” Gus has seen his car commercials way too many times.

“‘Where they will lasso you a great deal every time’, yeah that’s my dealer.

“Can we visit Braden in the hospital Miss Bouchette?” Deke asks.

“Please call me Francine {not Aunt Francine} and it is getting pretty late, visiting hours are over.”

“You must have connections there,” he insists.

“Okay, but only if he is awake,” she cannot resist.

Aunt Francine caves in like a new-favorite-non-relative-relative should. So after she self-parks her bulletproof baby from Buckaroo Bob, they go up to the 20th floor where Braden King’s room is; Pediatric CCU.

Once they see that he is alright, albeit hooked up to every medical device known to man, Deke jokes, “Don’t they have an old folk’s floor in this place?”

“Come here you wisecracking whippersnappers. I have been worried sick about you two…  I mean you too Miss Francine!”

“You mean worried about “everything in the Universe” Braden and that’s what put you in the hospital,” Francine goes over and kisses him on his forehead.

“I am so proud of you guys… and you too Francine.”

And how about our Uncle Roy? You should have seen him fly his chopper right on top of the bad guys, then the Coast Guard guys came up and rounded ‘em up like a bunch of stray calves!” Gus gushes.

“Not before you went and took off. They had guns you know,” Braden has been piecing together events by conventional means.

Related image“How is the food up here?” Francine wants the boys to settle down before they get home; amped on Mountain Dew, M&Ms, chips… and a day full of shoot ’em up hijinks.

“Hot dogs, pizza puffs, mac & cheese, and Kool-Aid, that’s pretty much it, but I managed to talk my way onto an adult menu and some takeout from BBQ Heaven.” Braden has many reasons to be grateful.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 134


page 165

 

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Snacks from Around the World – WIF Fast Food

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Delicious Global

Snacks

You Should Try

There are many, many reasons to travel: to meet new people, to explore new cultures, to see awesome cities, to hike through spectacular scenery. But what about food? For some, sampling the cuisine of another country is like peeking inside the mind of an entire culture.

We’re not talking Michelin-starred, fancy, five course dining, either. From Europe, to Asia, to the Americas and Africa, some of the best eats on the planet are stuff you can pick up at markets and from street vendors. Here are ten delicious snacks from around the globe that will blow your mind and leave you craving more.

10. Okonomiyaki (Japan)

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It’s said that you haven’t really tasted Japan until you’ve tried Okonomiyaki. In the land of sushi, noodles and seafood, Okonomiyaki stands out by being exactly what you wouldn’t expect. A sort of cabbage-based pancake traditionally served with aonori seaweed flakes, bonito fish flakes, super-sweet mayonnaise and the heavenly Okonomiyaki sauce (not unlike the UK’s HP sauce with a hint of soy), this snack is eaten across the country by the truckload.

Garnish aside, it’s tricky to say what actually makes an Okonomiyaki. The name itself loosely translates as “what you like, grilled.” This means the combinations are essentially endless. You might nab a shrimp or octopus one in Osaka, then high-tail it to Tokyo for a pork filling. There are even local variations on how to cook it. Hiroshima style means putting the ingredients on top; Osaka style means mixing them all into the batter.

You can grab one of these taste-explosions at one of the many Okonomiyaki bars across the country. Just rock up, place your order and prepare to have your tastebuds blown.

9. BeaverTails (Canada)

beavertails

The standard joke is that America is a nation of bulging waistlines, while Canadians are svelte and trim. Judging by the existence of BeaverTails, the only rational explanation for this is that those north of the border are riddled with tapeworm. A fried dough pastry stretched into the shape of a beaver’s tail and loaded with more sweet stuff and condiments than you can shake a proverbial stick at, BeaverTails are a delicious heart-attack-in-the-making.

Just look at this picture, for example. Really, look at it. For those of you who hate right-clicking, it’s a pastry snack the size of your face, coated in chocolate and topped with Smarties (chocolate buttons that inexplicably aren’t available south of the Canadian border). It looks like everything you never knew you wanted while mildly drunk at an ice hockey game.

A branded snack, BeaverTails have only been around since 1978. But our sweet tooth would take them over poutine any day.

8. Kürtoskalács (Hungary)

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If you’re ever wandering around the top of Budapest at night, follow your nose to the ancient castle. That sweet, doughy smell tickling your senses and making your mouth water like Niagara Falls? That’s probably coming from the Kürtoskalács stalls. Known as Transylvanian Chimney Cakes, these Hungarian bad boys are even tastier than they smell.

Supposedly, the dish originated in modern-day Romania (hence the Transylvania part of the name), among the Hungarian community living there. Today, Kürtoskalács are called the oldest pastry in Hungary, and pop up at street food stands everywhere. So, you might be asking, what the heck are they? It’s pretty simple, really. Chimney cakes are made by rolling dough slowly round a wooden spoon (or similar vessel), coating the outside in sugar and oil and heating it over a fire. So you get a sweet, crunchy exterior and a warm, doughy inside. Just to send the calorie count even higher, plenty of Hungarians take them with chocolate spread.

The absolute best time to try Kürtoskalács is when it’s so cold out you can see your breath. Then the heat of the dough and the sweetness combine to feel like an elixir of life.   

7. Tamiya (Egypt)

tamiya

Everybody in the Middle East does falafel, and most countries do it excellently. No one, however, does it as well as the Egyptians. Only they don’t call it falafel, oh no. They want to keep a dish this good a secret. If you’re ever in Cairo or Alexandria (according to food critics, the two best places for Egyptian falafel), keep an eye out for Tamiya. It’ll change your ideas of just how freakin’ good falafel can be.

The secret here is fava beans. While most Middle Eastern countries use chickpeas to make falafel, Egypt bucks the trend by using fava beans. The result is a falafel that’s moister and lighter than anything you’ll find elsewhere. It’s cheap, too. Stalls will sell you a tamiya wrap for around the equivalent of 30 cents a pop. According to the experts, though, the place to head for is Mohammed Ahmed, a cheap eatery in Alexandria. There you can combine it with fuul (a bean paste) and eat yourself into a coma. In fact, tamiya is so cheap and delicious and plentiful that many joke Egypt is the best country for making vegetarians fat.

6. Red Red (Ghana)

red red

West African food is famous across the continent for its intense flavors and inventive style. But in West Africa itself, the country that takes the crown is probably Ghana. While there’s plenty to be said for Nigerian or Senegalese food, Ghana just edges its neighbors out the running. Part of the key to that success? Red red.

A kind of simple tomato stew made with black-eyed peas, red red is practically Ghana’s national dish. People eat it at home, on the way to work, while hanging out and at restaurants. The reason being that it’s delightful. The texture of the beans, combined with the vague, smoky flavor of the meat all combines to make a mouthwatering dish. Then there’s the red palm oil. Supposedly, the mixture of this oil with tomatoes is why the stew is called red red in the first place.

Although Ghanaians eat red red at pretty much any time, apparently the time to really appreciate it is breakfast time. It’s a fair point. We’re trying and we honestly can’t think of any better way to start the day than with a spicy, smoky, tomatoey African stew.

 5. Klobasa (Czech Republic)

kolbasa

The Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than literally any other country on God’s green Earth. Yes, that includes Ireland, Austria and Germany. As such, you’d expect their best street food to cater to the needs of drunks; i.e. warm, fatty and deeply delicious. Enter the infamous klobasa. A smoked, German-style sausage traditionally served with mustard and two slices of brown Czech bread, its 1:00 a.m. drunken street food elevated to an art form.

All this is a pretty recent development. In 1948, the Communists took over what was then Czechoslovakia and immediately started being jerks about it. One of the things they were jerky about was what people could eat. A book was published, called Recipes for Warm Meals. If you cooked and sold anything that wasn’t in it, you’d get yourself thrown in jail. Combined with meat shortages in the ’70s and ’80s, this led to Czech sausages almost vanishing. When the Communists were overthrown in 1989, Czechs went klobasa crazy.

Today, klobasa is so popular that English-speaking locals even runinternational blogs about where exactly to chow down on the best Czech sausage. One to study before you go.

4. Hormigas (Colombia)

ants

In the heart of Colombia’s Santander department sits a little, whitewashed village called Barichara. Legendarily beautiful, it looks like a slice of southern Spain relocated to South America. That’s not why people go there, though. For foodies and snack fans, there’s one overwhelming reason to visit this sleepy village. Barichara is where you can buy hormigas.

The slightly gross part first: Hormigas are ants. Specifically, they’re female leaf-cutter ants with a butt so big it could star in music videos. Harvested in the spring, they’re toasted with salt and served from little packets, just like peanuts. But this isn’t an entry we’ve thrown in just to make you go “eww!” Hormigas are considered a local delicacy, with high protein levels and aphrodisiac qualities. They’re so renowned that upscale restaurants across Colombia use them to make expensive sauces. But the best way to try them is to grab a pack in Barichara and chow on down.

Salty, earthy and a little strange, hormigas in Santander are traditionally eaten under the blazing sun with an ice cold beer. You take a sip of beer, eat an ant, then take another sip, and so on until the packet is empty.

3. Chilli Crab (Singapore)

chilli crab

Singapore is one of the smallest countries on Earth. How small? Well, you could fit the entire nation into Rhode Island four whole times and still have a bit of space left over (confused UK readers can replace “Rhode Island” with “Cornwall”). At such a reduced size, you might not expect any incredible foods to come out of Singapore, but you’d be wrong. The micro state’s chilli crab is some of the best street food in Asia.

The snack does what it says on the tin. A stir fried crab, coated in a sweet and super spicy sauce, it comes served with deep fried buns. But that explanation can’t convey just how tasty chilli crab is. CNN ranked it the 35thmost delicious food in the entire world. There are more shops, restaurants and stalls selling it in Singapore than there probably are people in Wyoming. People fly to Asia purely to sample it. That’s how good we’re talking, here.

Chilli crab is so widely available in Singapore that there’s no point in us telling you where to go for it. Just step off the plane and head towards the nearest group of people. We’re like 99% sure one of them will be able to point you to a stand within walking distance.

2. Tacos (Mexico)

tacos

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Tacos. Of all the street food in the world, they go and choose the dish that inspired the abomination we call Taco Bell. Well, hold your horses there, pardner. What you probably think a taco is, is light years from what you’ll get on a street in Mexico. Forget the Tex-Mex thing with the crispy shell, real tacos are as close to them as your fourth grade art project was to the Sistine Chapel.

Let’s start with the basics: Proper Mexican tacos come in a flat, homemade tortilla. They also contain more than just a begrudging serving of meat and some salsa. El Chupacabra’s taco stand in Mexico City, for example, claims over 100 different ingredients go into each and every one of their tacos…and that’s before you get onto the sides. Here’s a picture of their truck. See those endless vats full of sauces and garnishes and deliciousness? If you want to, you can pile in stuff from each and every one of those (plus many others off camera) to make a taco exploding with so many flavors you’ll wind up accidentally recreating that scene from When Harry Met Sally.

Basically, get away from the border cities, and tacos in Mexico go from being cheap junk food you eat when you hate yourself and no longer want your pants to fit, to awesome, working class street food that deserves its spot on this list.

1. Burek (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

burek

The Balkans have easily some of the best food in the world, and that includes the best street food. Pljeskavica meat patties in Serbia, shkembe chorba soup in Bulgaria…the list goes on. For our money, though, there’s one clear winner. Burek (also called Borek) from Bosnia-Herzegovina is perhaps the tastiest snack in the whole of the Balkan region.

Originally from Turkey, this pastry snack really came into its own in Bosnia, where it was brought along with Ottoman rule in the middle of the last millennium. Basically, you take some pastry, fill it with aromatic mincemeat, goat’s cheese, spinach and herbs, roll it up, lightly spice it, glaze with oil and bake until it is golden and delicious. The result is a kinda-sweet, kinda-savory dish that’s crispy on the outside, and has the consistency of al dente pasta on the inside.

 The best place to grab burek is on the streets of Sarajevo, where a serving goes for around the equivalent of $1.70. Awesomely, it tastes good both drunk and stone cold sober, meaning it’s probably, therefore, the most perfect snack in the entire world.

Snacks Around the World

WIF Fast Food-001

– WIF Fast Food

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 81

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 81

..the flavor of the food is analogous to “the chef” telling you that calamari tastes just like chicken or the wisdom of  Popeye the Sailor coming up with scientific evidence that spinach gives you superhuman strength.

singing-chef-vickie-wade

Singing Chef by Vickie Wade

 

“Not bad, but lay off speaking in gobbledigook {Newfoundlian}. Because I can’t read your lips.”

With his initial inhibitions decreased, two different colors are selected, Alpha Centauri-amber and dark matter-mauve. A longer rendition of what sounds like an alien remix precedes the arrival of his selection, again whooshing open, exposing a 2-dish assortment of steaming nourishment. It is unrecognizable, but it isn’t moving and is marginally aromatically tempting.

Cupbearer to the King

Again, with the aid of the air-water-food scrutinizer, “Enzyme modified something, xanthan concentrate, autolyzed extract, and hydrogenated disodium phosphorate. gobbledigook {you first}

“Where are the knives and forks,” Celeste asks pretentiously?

“Use your fingers until and when I can find the right colors to push. You know we cannot be sure how these guys consumed their food; for all we know they may stuff it into their stomachs through a navel valve.”

“Assuming they have navels.”

“Do you want to do an autopsy on one of them?”

“Not before we eat Sam… you don’t want me to lose my dinner, seeing I am eating for two.”

“Or more.”

“Stop yourself and eat!”

Describing the flavor of the food is analogous to “the chef” telling you that calamari tastes just like chicken or the wisdom of  Popeye the Sailor coming up with scientific evidence that spinach gives you superhuman strength; to each his own.

“Eat, eat, there is plenty more!”

When cast in that subjective light, the food they sample aboard the NEWFOUNDLANDER is an acquired palate, as opposed to Grandma Sally’s home cooking. Overall the adage cliché “never look a gift-horse in the mouth” applies on this distant planet and you are going to run out of your own food.

Sampson makes mental notes of all his happy-finger combinations while using the magical-meal-machine, as he calls it. They can only hope to get better at working it… perhaps some Italian? —

— Energized and ever curious, the two-remaining visitors on Mars press on to the depths of the alien ship…


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 81


 

page 100

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