Monthly Archives: August 2014
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.
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.
After a nearly twenty-year cease fire, fighting has unexpectedly broken out between Bamboo Village (Takenoko no Sato) and Mushroom Mountain (Kinoko no Yama). While it had been thought that this conflict was essentially forgotten by all but the most ardent historians, it now seems that it is poised to escalate into a full-fledged war.
Bamboo Village and Mushroom Mountain possess little military strength on their own, but the legions of mercenaries loyal to each side have the potential to turn what began as a minor disagreement into a protracted battle.
The Bamboo-Mushroom War originally started when one side claimed snack superiority in the area of chocolate-covered cookie confections. It had always been accepted that Mushroom Mountain fired the first shot, but the remastered edition now seems to indicate that Bamboo Village was the actual aggressor. Regardless of who started the war, it went on for many years and was never officially ended. A tenuous cease fire was negotiated by a now-retired delegation from the Federal Bureau of Foreign Culinary Relations, and the war was essentially over. While the rest of the world went on with its business, a small but dedicated group of Internet food aficionados became dedicated to proving once and for all which side was right.
Unbeknownst to the FBFCR, these soldiers of snacking were recruited by the governments of Bamboo Village and Mushroom Mountain. They slowly became more radicalized until the situation came to a head and the fans of each candy began fighting with each other.
While the FBFCR has not yet been asked to intervene in the Bamboo-Mushroom War, we have analyzed the situation and come to the conclusion that both candies are, in fact, essentially identical. Unfortunately, we don’t expect either side to accept this conclusion, and we are preparing to be quite involved with this conflict. The time after the reunification of Mangoustan was a nice break, but we knew we couldn’t relax forever.
We spent much of the day attempting to decipher the strange message we received from Mr. Brown. We picked apart every word, translated it into several different languages, played it backwards, and even fed it into the giant 1960s-era computer that fills about half of the basement at the FBFCR headquarters. All we learned from that is that my Mangoustani language lessons aren’t really paying off, and that when played backwards, the message sounds a bit like, “Sell your soul to the Great White Peccary.”
Thankfully, one of us had the good sense not to sell his soul to the Great White Peccary. While my colleague was off spending his soul money on oversized decorative furnishings, I continued to examine the vexing verse. Several hours passed, but I was no closer to a solution than when I started. (Also, the FBFCR headquarters now has a nine-foot tall lava lamp. Apparently that’s what people sell their souls for these days. Giant lava lamps. Go figure.)
Just when I was about to give up and accept that we’d never find Mr. Brown, he sent another message:
What’s in a color? What’s in a name?
I hope that you know this isn’t a game.
There’s no time to wait, not a moment to lose.
Don’t tarry, don’t dally, don’t linger, don’t snooze!
Come to Blue Mountain, it’s where I await.
I’ll rescue you from your Croatian fate.
But heed my words closely and follow my themes,
For a mountain is rarely the thing that it seems.
“A mountain is rarely the thing that it seems?” Is this guy for real? I’m starting to think that Mr. Brown doesn’t even exist. He’s probably just some persona created by one of those crazy Internet people who writes bad blog poetry. Because if he is real, his rhyming clues aren’t helping things much. I mean, first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain? Is that what he’s trying to say? How am I supposed to find him if there is no mountain? I really can’t deal with this. And then there’s that lava lamp. It’s just…so…big. I can’t get away from it. No matter where I look, I still see it.
Why? Why does there have to be bad poetry and a giant lava lamp on the same day? I just…I can’t handle this right now.
We recently received the following cryptic communication from one Mr. Brown:
Do you recall the Croatian clowns?
That conglomerate of world renown?
Did you really think they would forget?
Were you planning to ignore their threat?
They take their time, they find a way.
They track you down and make you pay.
At last they will unleash their wrath,
And leave destruction in the aftermath.
If you would avoid this tragic fate,
You must seek me out ere it’s too late.
Make your way to the rendezvous
At my fortress on the mountain blue.
Why do these type of people always have to speak in abstruse rhyming couplets? And how are we supposed to find this Mr. Brown and his fortress anyway? He sure didn’t give us many clues. Obviously it has to be done, since the Croatian Clown Conglomerate does present a credible threat, but it will require quite a bit of work. We’re going to need a lot of coffee…