Emergency Barbecue!

Emergency Use Only

Emergency Use Only

Afternoon, readers.

I understand quite clearly what it’s like to be lost on a desert island with little to no chance of survival. Well, to be precise, I understand that Tom Hanks knows what it’s like to be lost on a desert island with little to no chance of survival. But that’s irrelevant.

The point is, at some point in our lives, many of us come across some disaster, some impossible circumstance which has pushed us  to the brink of death and despair.

Some feel fear–nay, terror. I, and I feel many else like me, when I am put in a desperate and dreadful direction, feel something else. We are not afraid. We look fear in the eyes and spit on its boot and high five our colleagues and walk away into the sunset, kicking conveniently placed dirt in fear’s eyes. Aye, we do not feel fear. We feel a need, a primal need that transcends all changes and limitations. It is a need rooted in the empty bellies of our omnivorous primogenitors. What is this need, you say? It is the need, the desire, the absolute utmost foremost necessity in a stressful situation, passed down through millennia of natural selection–it is the need to barbecue.

But how could we possibly satisfy such a need when in a desperate situation with no means of escape? The answer is simple: the patent pending (not really, don’t sue us!) Armenian Fungus Cake emergency barbecue kit.

To access the kit, all you need is a:

  • Table
  • Something with which to barbecue
  • A being intelligent enough to participate in table-top athletics

However, once you have these things, a whole world of possibilities opens up. Before, you were stranded on an island, in a jungle, in a concrete jungle, in a desert, in Asbury Park on the 4th of July, in Atlantic City, in a Broken City, on Bleecker Street, in Beverly Hills (even if “That’s where [you] wanna be!”), in Grimsby, in My Hometown, or even In Dreams. Now, you’re stranded in those places, but you’re able to have an emergency barbecue.

How? Well, in the (not) patent pending Armenian Fungus Cake barbecue kit, everything you need that we

Precooked, and ready to...cook again?

Precooked, and ready to…cook again?

have not told you to provide is there for a good barbecue.

In the kit, there is a:

Smoked Ham Sausage (dried)

Spicy Beef Summer Sausage (dried)

Miniature table table tennis set

That’s right, we’re giving you two whole dried sausages, and a table tennis set that you can use with a regular table. It’s a marvel of modern science!

You can fire up the barbecuing apparatus, heat up those sausages, and eat them alongside your sentient ping pong partner!

Once you’re done, suction cup the net to the table, and start playing intense mini ping pong. You’ll never know that your chances of survival are next to nothing, since you’ll be satisfying your urge to ‘cue with our top quality emergency barbecue set.

Happy grilling! Don’t die!

Arren.

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GoJo Hands Free Adjustable Headset

*Almost* Useful

Morning, readers

We at Armenian Fungus Cake understand the convenience of cell phones. We live busy lives, constantly on the go, trying new foods and beverages and making strange, but astute observations, and we need to be constantly communicating. However, sometimes, it’s hard to manage our lives when we have to hold those cumbersome, palm sized cell phones up to our faces. Some people remedy this with bluetooth headsets, which serve as miniature phones that rest in the user’s ear, and allow them to make and receive calls. They are very popular, even though they make the user look rather ridiculous, albeit successful.

But for some, like TV host Joe Gray (who hosts an infomercial about his own product–this product, for that matter, and nothing else), Bluetooth headsets just won’t do. Maybe they’re too expensive. Maybe you’re a selective Amish person, and you only use some technology. Maybe Bluetooth is simply too practical, and something else is simply a better alternative.

Well, for those people, TV host Joe Gray, who, as mentioned before, only hosts his own infomercial, invented the GoJo, which he humbly named after himself.

What exactly is the GoJo (Hands Free Adjustable Headset)? Does it use Bluetooth technology? Is it easy and convenient, even for someone not as genetically superior as TV host Joe Gray? Or is it none of these things?

TV Host Joe Gray watches you undress–his eyebrows approve

Well, it doesn’t use Bluetooth technology, as Bluetooth just makes too much sense, remember? It doesn’t make the user look like a professional idiot, either–just a regular idiot. In reality, the GoJo (used and created by TV host Joe Gray) is a glorified headband with a suction cup on one end and an annoying rubber tab on the other. The user puts his or her phone on the suction cup, and puts on the GoJo (by TV host Joe Gray) like he or she would a headband. Then, they can communicate on the phone with it held up to their ear by the GoJo (really, courtesy of TV host Joe Gray), which is held in place by the rubber tab, which uncomfortably rests on the temple, adjacent to the ear.

This is really the only function it serves, as in order to answer calls, make calls, or do anything else, the user has to remove the GoJo (did I mention it was created by TV host Joe Gray) and use their phone normally–with the exception of  the strange headband thing anchored to the back of said device. The GoJo (I guess you didn’t hear–it’s by TV host Joe Gray) packaging also makes the claim that it works for all phones, which isn’t exactly true, as anything that doesn’t have a completely flat surface doesn’t stick with the vanilla GoJo (TV host Joe Gray created it), and the adapter isn’t terribly functional. I also tried using the GoJo (TV host Joe Gray is the proprietor of this product) with my telephone from the 1950s, but it just dragged the GoJo

Some of those “Namely” people

(TV host Joe Gray…etc) off of my head and fell onto the floor, cracking a tile.

So, maybe the GoJo (TV host Joe Gray) isn’t exactly the best method of hands free communication, but for some, namely those who hate convenience and not looking completely stupid, it is simply the only option.

Regards,

Arren

Categories: Curious Commodities | 10 Comments
 
 

Budget Cuts

Good Morning, readers.

Let’s be blunt. Armenian Fungus Cake is going through some rough times. The espionage committed by the Russian spies left our website economically crippled. We knew from the start that we would need to make some sacrifices to keep the website afloat. Originally, we were going to take away funding from the quality department because our iPads are awesome, but our advisors convinced us to do otherwise. So, we sold off our electronic equipment to the local pawnshop, fired the advisors that stopped us from dooming the website (In hindsight, this was a bad move) and we moved out of our office. I now live in a Feng Shui kiosk in my local mall, and hitchhike to the library every day to write an article on an early 2000’s eMac. However, some have been charitable. I was offered a 2000 Dodge Neon with a near-broken timing belt, which I gladly accepted. When pulling out of the parking lot, I felt a loud thunk, got out of the car, and saw that my engine was on the ground.

I started impersonating Jimmy Fallon impersonating Bob Dylan in front of my local coffee shop, and I accumulated enough money to fund some very small purchases. The first step was to replace some of our electrical equipment. David and I started out at a consignment store, and realized that even the electronics there were out of our range. So, we moved on to a 99 cent store. Here, we were fortunate.

Close enough

While looking through the shelves, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. I pulled it out of a pile of plastic pieces. It was a tablet.

The Mentally Deficient Smart Phone

I felt incredibly lucky. Admittedly, it didn’t have a touchscreen. Or a screen of any sort. Or a keyboard. Also, it was made out of plastic, and was predominantly hollow. However, there was a speaker, and a single button. This button made a variety of sounds, most of which are usually found in a phone, but I didn’t mind.

Meanwhile, David made a discovery as well. However, he found a cell phone. Unfortunately, the cell phone had the same attributes as mine. It was smaller, but it continued with the elegant design of sticker on plastic. It also had one button, which made a host of strange cellular sounds. We figured that it was better that than nothing, so we bought a disposable camera, took some pictures, and hung out by the river leading out of the nearest chemical plant to expose the images. That may have been a bad idea, as I think there’s an eye developing on my left elbow.

Once we had the technological budget figured out, it was time for us to move on to the next item on our agenda: defense. As a part of our monetary hardship, we were forced to sell all of our old FBFCR weapons. After the Russian incident, we knew that we needed more protection. We didn’t have money for any actual weapons, so we scoured strange stores searching for something sufficient. To our surprise, we found what we needed behind the shelf of the clearance section at a foreign import and novelty store. What we found was a boxing glove…of sorts. A normal boxing glove wouldn’t have been terrible, since, at one point in my life, for various complicated

Plus or minus some bang for your buck.

reasons, I was a championship boxer in the Pyongyang circuit. But this wasn’t so much of a boxing glove as it was a jury rigged robot claw with a bulbous red fist at the end. We would be doomed in a fight using that, but I can use my repurposed Red Army fighting moves as a last resort. Besides, we’re on a tight budget.

Well, with any luck, we’ll be able to straighten out the financials before long. Until then–

Regards,

Arren

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The Curious Case of the Conspicuous Croatian Candy and the Consequent Croat Connection, with assistance from the Croatian Contact

This Machine Kills Capitalists

Evening, Readers

Today, I have a story to tell you. There is a short review at the bottom, but I highly recommend reading the story. It is a story detailing some of my activities as a young lad (last week). It begins with my time as a very specific kind of law enforcement officer.

I WALKED into the main office building of the Federal Bureau of Foreign Culinary Relations, or FBFCR. My secretary, Barbara, soon told me that the commissioner wanted to see me in his office, immediately. At the time, I was a young, successful, and very motivated young investigator, with numerous cases under my belt, from facilitating the growth of the edible Mangoustani diaspora after the East-West Mangoustan split, to making sure that the Vast Soursop Conspiracy remains a conspira–I can’t say more. Anyhow, I entered the commissioners office.

“Alright, Agent Kimbel-Sannit,” he said. “You have a series of choices for your next assignment. One, you can try to assassinate the Foreign Foods Minister of East Mangoustan. Two, you can see why the Croatian Connection has gone dark, and why they’ve stopped assisting us in our quest to discover the true taste of Ledena filing in Dorina brand chocolate bars. Or, you can silence an overly sly individual who is snooping around the bowels of various soursop production facilities.”

“What’s this about Ledena?” I said.

The commissioner responded, “Well, it is the flavor of a specific kind of Croatian Candy produced by Dorina. However, it gives no information as to what Ledena is, and the word doesn’t check out with any of our translators. The wrapper depicts a series of clear cubes–either ice chunks or rough cut diamonds. As none of our tasters have gotten rich, or choked from consumption of a rock, we need to figure out what the ice cube signifies, and what Ledena is.”

“Well… I suppose I’ll take that case, then,” I said.

“Good,” the commissioner responded, “as I wasn’t going to give you a choice anyway. You need to fly to Croatia and see what’s going on over there. We have a contact in the Croatian government, who is no friend of the Foreign Foods ministry. She’ll help you  figure out what’s going on. You leave tomorrow. Be careful, though, as the Croatian Culinary Cabinet is Crammed with Cruel Communism.”

“Fine. I’ll return with the results,” I said.

I LANDED at the airport in Zagreb without knowing what was to come next. I stepped out onto the street, met with a cool breeze, with an almost minty quality. However, something felt…off. A woman in a tight black leather jumpsuit approached me.

“You must be Tatiana, my contact,” I said.

“How did you know that my name was Tatiana?” She responded.

“Well,” I said, “women who wear tight black leather outfits have to be named Tatiana, and women named Tatiana have to be contacts to various secret agents and government workers.”

“You are very good. Agent Kimbel-Sannit, I presume?” She said.

“Indeed,” I responded.

“Here’s the deal. This isn’t a movie, so you DO NOT have time to seduce me. The building of the Croatian Connection is around the corner. However, a bomb went off in front of it during your trip here. The building is fine, but it is roped off. I imagine that whoever, or whatever, is stopping the Ledena identification process will have used the opportunity to sneak into the building. You must do the same.”

“Agh! Damn those crafty conniving Croatian communist culinary cloggers!”  I said, angered.

WE WENT to the building, thinking of ways to get in. The lights were off, as the building had been evacuated. However, from the back of the building, we could see a faint white glow coming through an open window.

“A computer,” we said in unison.

“I’ll clamber up into the window, and hide behind something. I’m unarmed, but I imagine you are not. I’ll throw something down if there is someone there, and if there isn’t, I’ll come down myself. If someone is there, and I give the signal, come in too,” Tatiana said. I agreed, and stood by as she climbed up through the window. Unsurprisingly, the signal came. A stapler hit the ground beneath the window with a thud, and I quickly made my way up to and through the window. We made eye contact, and she gestured towards the computer. A man sat hunched over the screen. He appeared to be deleting files.

“Ah!” I whispered. “The Croatians had the information all along. They were witholding it from us!” Tatiana nodded, and I stood up from behind a desk we were hiding behind, pulling out my pistol. I yelled, in my mediocre Croatian.

“Stop whatever you are doing, and turn around with your hands up!” I hollered. The man complied. I checked the screen, keeping my gun on the man, only to see that all of the files were gone. “Tell me!” I said.

“Tell you what?” He was flustered, and clearly afraid. I could tell by his lack of composure and nice clothing that he worked for the Croatian government. He probably thought he was safe.

“Ledena! What is it? You can’t distribute it without stating what it is!”

“Never, you capitalist pig!” He responded.

“Fine, then. Before I shoot you, tell me why you deleted the files!”

“Never!” He said. I saw that he had something sticking out of his pocket. I wasn’t sure, but it looked like a flash drive. I didn’t know what else it could have been. So, I shot it out of his pocket. He wasn’t hurt, but he was now even more frightened, and worried at the loss of the drive. “Fine,” he said. “We were sick of you westerners telling us how to eat our food. Ledena was the only thing you didn’t know about, so the head of the Foreign Foods Ministry contacted us, telling us that if we stopped you from knowing about Ledena, they would join us in creating a Workers Utopia, filled with food for the people–the Croatian People.”

“Whatever. I don’t really care about your politics. Tell me what Ledena is. You are just a pawn of the Connection and the Ministry. They will go corrupt. You don’t need to ally with them. Tell me.”

“Okay, I give. Ledena is–”

“Don’t tell him, Agent Yogreb.” Tatiana said. She had a gun pointed at my back. I dropped mine.

“You know each other!? Agh, you DO sleep with government agents, you liar!” I yelled.

She ignored me. “Tell me, she said. I want to help realize your dream. You are not a pawn. You are a person. A worker. The information needs to exist in two places, with the flash drive gone.” He approved, and whispered into her ear. She nodded. He made his way out the door. However, as he did, she spun around and drove a bullet through his skull.

“Well, you’re indecisive today, aren’t you,” I said.

“Stop with the jokes. You might make me want to kill you yet.”

“So, what is it? What is Ledena?” I said.

“Get headquarters on the phone. Tell them that Ledena flavor is actually a combination of menthol and lemon, and that the ice cubes indicate the minty flavor,” she said.

“Ah! It all makes sense now,” I responded. “So, does this mean that–”

“No, you still may not try to seduce me,” she said.

“Whatever.” I made my way out, and down the window, looking for the nearest phone booth. I was content, knowing that I had solved the great Croatian Confection Caper, and only in two blog-days.

THE END

In all seriousness, however, David and I did try a Dorina Ledena chocolate bar, and the taste was…ambiguous. It was sort of minty, but it did have a sort of citrusy taste. Other bystanders, when offered the chocolate, could not come to a conclusion in regards to the taste either. There was no indication on the wrapper, save for the ice cubes on the front. Eventually, I decided to do some secret agent work myself, and I ventured to the dark, corrupt land of Google. Multiple pages in, I found the answer. Ledena is menthol and lemon. Imagine a taste resembling such. When encased in dark chocolate, it tastes like a sort of sickly peppermint and chocolate patty. I didn’t enjoy the taste originally, but it sort of grew on me. When all was said and consumed, I wasn’t particularly pleased with me Ledena experience. Well, you win some and you lose some.

Regards,

Arren

Categories: Strange Snacks | 2 Comments

Where Does Pumpkin Spice Come From?

Pumpkination complete!

Pumpkination complete!

It seems that from about September until January, everything in the world mysteriously appears in a pumpkin spice variety. It wasn’t always this way. Just a few short years ago, the only thing you could get in pumpkin spice flavor was pumpkin pie. But then the slow pumpkination of the world began. First it was pumpkin spice coffee, then pumpkin spice donuts. The pumpkin spice muffins came next, followed shortly by pumpkin spice bacon. Everything is good when it’s baconated, but I fear that baconation in combination with pumpkination could produce a dangerously unstable compound.

That wasn’t the end, though. They also started making pumpkin spice shampoo, pumpkin spice deodorant, and pumpkin spice bath bombs. Not only could you eat pumpkin spice, but you could also bathe yourself in it and smell like it all day.  You could quite literally be a giant walking mess of pumpkin spice for at least five months out of the year.

This was all well and good, but then it happened. They went and pumpkinated the last thing that had, until recently, escaped the plodding progress of pumpkination: they started making Pumpkin Spice Oreos. I could ignore the pumpkin spice bread and the pumpkin spice butter, but once pumpkin spice founds its way into the beloved Oreo, I knew I had to investigate.

The first thing I had to do was trace the source of this pernicious piquancy. This would have been quite difficult for most people, but my previous experience with the Vast Soursop Conspiracy had given me a lot of practice in finding secret lairs and obscure hideouts. When I had completed my calculations, I was shocked to realize that this vast pumpkin-spice operation had been operating almost right under my nose the entire time. I’d always wondered why that one part of the local shopping mall had suddenly been walled off, removed from the map, and never spoken of again. As it happened, that was the very place where all of this pumpkin spice was being made.

I arrived at the mall and began looking around, while pretending to be an innocent shopper with no interest in pumpkin spice whatsoever. No one really seemed to notice until I began asking a few innocent questions about what happened to the rest of the mall. At that point, people started to get a little nervous. They told me that I must be confused, and that the area had been closed some time ago, and that in fact it had never existed at all. Clearly I wasn’t going to get a straight answer, so I was going to have to investigate on my own. I needed to find a way into this secret space that everyone said had never existed. I needed to create a diversion.

I thought about it for a moment, and then I came up with the perfect idea. As loudly as I could, I pointed toward a random store and shouted, “Oh my god! They just released pumpkin spice toothpaste!” In an instant, everyone began running toward the promise of yet another pumpkin spice product. This gave me the chance to slip through a door and into the terrifying world that lay behind it.

What I found was a vast, dimly lit factory filled with rumbling machines, bubbling vats, and enormous pipes. I moved stealthily at first, but I soon realized that no one was taking any notice of me. It was as if the idea that anyone could even locate this place, let alone actually get inside, was completely incomprehensible to whoever was running this operation.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized that the factory was staffed, not by humans, but by creatures that I can only describe as pumpkin spice elves. These weren’t the happy little elves that make toys for children at Christmas; these were the hideous, menacing elves that appear in your nightmares. They shuffled about, turning valves and stirring mixtures. They seemed almost completely oblivious to anything other than their role in the production of pumpkin spice.

After I’d observed them for a while, a gong sounded. The creatures who had been tending to the machines and working with the ingredients stopped what they were doing and began to shuffle away. Moments later, a new group of creatures took up their positions and continued the pumpkin spice production. I followed the group that had just stopped work to find out where they were going.

After taking a few turns and passing several unidentifiable spice-making machines, I found myself in a large, open room. In the center of the room was what appeared to be a throne, and seated there was a being that I don’t even have the words to describe.  All I know is that she (I’m assuming she was a she) was clearly the ruler of this little kingdom: she was the Queen of Pumpkin Spice. One by one, the elves, or whatever they were, approached her. She said something to them in a language that I couldn’t understand, then then gave each of them a small vial. Each elf immediately opened the vial and frantically drank the contents. Shortly thereafter, the elf appeared to enter a state of extreme euphoria, as if whatever were in the vial was the elixir of life itself.

At one point, the queen appeared to admonish one of the elves, and refused to give it a vial. The elf became panicked and distraught, and seemed to plead with the queen to change her mind. When it became obvious that the queen would not change her mind, this unfortunate elf collapsed to the floor, writhing and screaming. The rest of the creatures ignored it, and seemed focused only on obtaining their own share of whatever substance the queen was handing out.

Sensing an opportunity to make a significant discovery, I decided to take a risk and get in line with the rest of the creatures. Within a few minutes, I was standing in front of the Queen of Pumpkin Spice herself. Without so much as a second glance, she handed me a vial. I carefully opened it, and the smell was familiar. I carefully put the tiniest drop on the tip of my finger and touched it to my tongue. With the intensity of a bolt of lightning, all of my senses were overpowered with the essence of pumpkin spice: I tasted pumpkin spice, I smelled pumpkin spice, I felt pumpkin spice, I saw pumpkin spice, I heard pumpkin spice. For a brief moment, I think I actually was pumpkin spice.

I immediately realized what was going on. These creatures, whatever they were, were completely addicted to pumpkin spice. It seems likely that they are born that way. This gives the Queen of Pumpkin Spice a virtual army of laborers who will do her bidding without question in exchange for a concentrated sample of the very product they work to produce. Whatever she is, and whatever they are, they seem to have a relationship somewhere between symbiosis and slavery. The elves make the spice, she keeps them docile by giving them some of it, and then she sells the rest to the pumpkin-addled public. I never did figure out what she gets from this arrangement. Maybe she just thrives on the sense of power, or maybe there is some even more powerful spice that she is working to attain.

After all I’d witnessed, I felt it best to make a quiet retreat before I was noticed. I slipped out the same way I’d come in, and tried not to let anyone see the look of horror on my face. One thing is certain: this operation, as efficient as it was, could not possibly supply all of the world’s pumpkin spice. There have to be others like it, with their own nightmarish crews and their own nightmarish queens. So next time you see a store that’s been inexplicably boarded up, or part of a building that is suddenly and permanently closed, you can remind yourself that there is probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for it. It’s probably not filled with rumbling machines, bubbling vats, and enormous pipes. There probably aren’t any strange creatures shuffling around inside, desperately hoping to earn the approval of their hideous queen. Just tell yourself that it’s probably not a pumpkin spice factory. It’s probably not a pumpkin spice factory. It’s probably not a pumpkin spice factory…

Categories: Strange Snacks, Wacky Weirdness | Leave a comment

Chomsky To The Rescue!

As you might have guessed by my lack of recent contributions, I’ve been thoroughly engrossed in the task of learning the Mangoustani language. After poring over Volume 1 for many weeks, I thought I might actually be making some progress. Then I opened up Volume 2, only to find a brief explanation stating that the analysis of the Mangoustani language is still underway, and that the remainder of the books were blank. They were apparently included merely for their aesthetic value. Along with this enervating explanation was a coupon that I can return in order to receive the actual books once they are written (shipping and handling not included), as well as a suggestion that if I need to learn Mangoustani right away, I should probably enroll in a linguistics course and learn how to analyze the language myself.

Faced with such a dilemma, most people would simply throw the blank books away and start binge watching Breaking Bad. Unfortunately, the political tension in the former East Mangoustan makes such a decision impossible. And besides, I’m never one to pass up a good challenge. After several weeks of learning the ins and outs of phonology and morphology, I arrived at the unit on syntax. I learned about the linguistic theories of Leonard Bloomfield and Noam Chomsky. Suddenly, the whole world made sense.

The linguists studying the Mangoustani language are obviously trying to understand it based on Bloomfieldian structural linguistics. That’s obviously why there were so many examples of rote phrases and so much emphasis on the surface structure of the Mangoustani language. In case you didn’t know, Bloomfield’s approach emphasizes “explicit systems of relations between linguistic units” rather than focusing on the mental processes that people use to generate the things they say (“Linguistics” para. 3).  Once I’d learned about this distinction, I understood the reason that the Mangoustani language textbooks were so full bizarre phrases and a were based on a “rigid set of learned rules” (Rowe & Levine, 138). I’d love to share some of these phrases with you, but I haven’t yet installed the Mangoustani language pack on my computer.

It seemed that the theories of Noam Chomsky would be a much better way to understand this confusing cant. Instead of analyzing language in terms of mimicry and the production of fixed phrases, he explained that language learning was an innate capacity of the human mind. His mentalist approach to linguistics suggests that all people mentally form ideas in a similar way (the “deep structure” of an utterance) before applying subconscious grammatical transformations to generate the actual sentence (the “surface structure”). (Strässler para. 5) It seems like this would be a much better way to understand the complexities of the Mangoustani language, and it would avoid spending months memorizing dubious phrases such as, “this cow is disrespectful to most hedgehogs.” Under the Bloomfieldian model, one would have to hear that phrase before he or she could use it in a conversation, but the Chomskian approach shows that the productive nature of language would allow a competent speaker to produce this utterance spontaneously if the need arose. And in the former East Mangoustan, that need seems very likely to arise.

WORKS CITED

“Linguistics.” Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2003. Credo Reference. Web. 4 October 2014.

Rowe, B. and Levine, P. A Concise Introduction to Linguistics Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2009. Print.

Strässler, J. “Mentalism.” Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language. Edinburg: Edinburgh University Press, 2009. Credo Reference. Web. 4 October 2014.

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Caramel Corns & Peanut Snack

Dang ol'...

Dang ol’…

Yee haw! Y’all have been waitin’ a long time for this down-home country fusion of caramel corns and peanuts. A dang ol’ long time, in fact! Well you ain’t gotta wait no more, ’cause that dang ol’ crazy peanut guy gonna put on his big ol’ green hat and his big ol’ green gloves and bring y’all some Caramel Corns & Peanut Snack! He’s also gonna wave around his big ol’ gun, but you gotta just try to ignore that. It’s the way they do things ’round them parts, y’know?

If y’all ain’t too gol’ darn flustered by…I mean…If you can manage to overlook the peanut guy’s reckless disregard for firearm safety, what you’ll find inside the bag of Caramel Corns and Peanut Snack is a bit different than what the name implies. It sounds like you’re going to get caramel-covered popcorn and peanuts. But what you actually get is a bunch of caramel peanut-butter flavored corn puffs. They’re sort of like cheese puffs without the cheese, but with caramel and peanut butter flavoring instead. Apparently that’s the meaning of “caramel corns” as opposed to “caramel corn”. As for the promised peanut, it was there. In fact, there were a whole five peanuts rolling around listlessly at the bottom of the bag. You could be forgiven for missing them, but make no mistake, the crazy peanut guy came through on his commitment to supply both caramel corns and peanut(s).

Overall these are a tasty snack as long as you aren’t expecting popcorn. If you are expecting popcorn, look elsewhere, unless you want to find yourself cursing that dang ol’ green-hatted gun-totin’ peanut guy.

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The Search for Mr. Brown, Part 2

With our search for Mr. Brown entering its second week, the trail seemed like it was getting cold. Just when we were about to give up and accept our Croatian clown consequences, we received another baffling ballad from Mr. Brown:

Halfway to here and halfway to there,
A circle’s a loop unless it’s a square.

A double construction of dubious fame:
One like the other, exactly the same.

A river, a lake, and cars down below,
I can tell you no more. Do you know where to go?

Well, of course I know where to go. I really don’t see why Mr. Brown had to spend a whole week being so coy about it.

After arriving at the (in)famous Marina City by way of Chicago Midway Airport, it was a simple matter for me to locate Mr. Brown’s unit. I rung the bell, and the door slowly opened to reveal an imposing figure in a large chair surrounded by small blue cans. Suddenly it all made sense: Mr. Brown’s hideout on Blue Mountain was nothing more than a big stack of Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Iced Coffee cans. I started to say something to him, but before I could, he spoke with a booming voice:

“At last you have found my Blue Mountain lair.
Perhaps you would like to pull up a chair?”

That one really sounded a bit forced, but I obliged, and took a seat in front of his makeshift coffee fortress. “So, I’m here. What were you going to tell me about the Croatian Clown Conglomerate?”

His voice boomed again:

“The clowns that you seek…”

Then there was a pause, and he started fiddling with something in his ear. In a much less intimidating voice, he muttered: “It’s not working. I told you it wasn’t working. I told you three times this week. Why didn’t you fix it?”

Mr. Brown’s intimidating voice returned, and he continued:

“Uh…the Croatian clowns are…around…someplace you don’t know.
And they also have a hiding place…and there’s this one clown….named Joe. Named Joe!”

I must have gotten a derisive look on my face, because Mr. Brown started to get upset. He bellowed:

“If you…think you can laugh at me like that…I won’t help you with the clowns!
And then you’ll be sorry because…they’re Croatian clowns!”

While Mr. Brown was stumbling over his words, I looked off to the side and saw some activity behind a curtain. I pulled it back and found what appeared to be a graduate student frantically trying to fix a microphone. Mr. Brown raged:

“Don’t touch that…that curtain!
Because…I’m getting…very angry!”

Just then the hapless graduate student appeared to have made a breakthrough, and he whispered into his microphone:

“Ignore the strange man standing behind the curtain.
Heed my words, or your defeat is certain!”

A moment later, Mr. Brown regained his composure and belted out the same words:

“Ignore the strange man standing…”

At that point, I interrupted him: “Wait. Stop. What’s going on here? Is that guy telling you what to say?”

The graduate student behind the curtain seemed to be mouthing words to himself, trying out various combinations. But Mr. Brown realized that his secret was out, so he stepped down from his throne looking dejected.

“Oh, it’s true,” cried Mr. Brown, who suddenly seemed much less intimidating. “All of the elusive supervillains speak in couplets. I just wanted to be taken seriously, so I hired a bunch of graduate students and paid them with an unlimited supply of Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Iced Coffee. It was working out so well until you came along.”

“So you’ve led other people to your hideout with your…his…cryptic poetry?”

“Well, not really. You’re the first one who ever managed to find me. No one else could ever figure it out. Or maybe they just ignored me altogether.”

I was about to ask him to at least make good on his promise to help me defeat the Croatian Clown Conglomerate when I noticed big red clown nose on his desk. I pointed at it and asked, “Are you…?”

“Yes, it’s true,” admitted Mr. Brown. “I’m the Croatian Clown Conglomerate. I’m not even Croatian, but it seemed like a good way to get your attention.”

“But why would you go through all this trouble?” I inquired. “Why put that hidden message on the bag of Kras Ki-Ki if there wasn’t even a Croatian Clown Conglomerate to begin with?”

“Because,” he said, and his demeanor became more serious. “Because there might not be a Croatian Clown Conglomerate, but there really is a secret world in the realm of snacks. You’re one of the only people who can actually see it. Everyone else looks right past it and just gobbles down the junk food, but you understand the secret messages and the underhanded machinations. I wanted to be sure you were still keeping an eye out for those things.”

“Of course I am,” I replied. “It’s my job.”

After taking several cans of coffee as a souvenir, I left Mr. Brown’s secret hideout and returned home. It had been quite an adventure, even if it seemed rather pointless in the end. At least I can say that one coffee connoisseur will sleep better tonight, secure in the knowledge that the FBFCR is still keeping the snack food world safe.

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