Monthly Archives: July 2012

Out of Respect


Good Morning, Readers

Today, we will refrain from posting an article.

We do this out of respect for the many who have been lost and injured, and those who have lost, in a shooting that took place last night outside of Denver, Colorado.

 

Rest in Peace

Categories: Uncategorized Units | Leave a comment

Plastic Model Airplane An-24

Plastic Model Airplane An-24

Quite a while ago, I bought a plastic model kit. More correctly, a box of several identical plastic model kits; it was a package deal. I knew that it would be useful someday, and that day has finally arrived. These weren’t just any plastic model kits, though. These were models of the Antonov An-24 produced by the Krugozor Toy Factory in Moscow. That’s right, straight from the Soviet Union circa 1970. Like all good Soviet products, this one was centrally planned. The package identifies it as Article MG 085-01-6873 with a price of 1 ruble and 60 kopecks. And just in case you weren’t sure what it was for, it helpfully explains that this is a toy for children from ages 10 to 15. There was none of that “8 and up” crap in the Soviet Union. You would get your plastic model kits starting when you were 10, and they had all better be finished by the time you turned 16. And no one would even think of pulling one over on the Krugozor Toy Factory, either. They had agents everywhere making sure that Article MG 085-01-6873 was used only by children from ages 10 to 15. If you think the Vast Soursop Conspiracy is frightening, just imagine getting a visit from Krugozor’s enforcement team.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, children from ages 10 to 15 no longer had any interest in building plastic models of the Antonov An-24, even at the low price of only 1 ruble and 60 kopecks. Thus, these plastic fantastic flying machines made their way throughout the world. After I acquired the box of these kits, I decided that it would be only fitting to construct one for that supreme Soviet experience.

Fortunately, the kit came with clear instructions:

Instructions (front)

Instructions (back)

All of the parts came in a plastic bag, including a tube of glue, which was completely useless after several decades in a Soviet storehouse:

Includes everything you see here!

The bag containing the parts features a carefully concealed cameo by Cheburashka (we’ll talk more about him another time):

Cheburashka who?

After much gluing, filing, and painting, the mighty Antonov An-24 flies again:

Much nicer than the comrades at Krugozor could have ever envisioned!

The quality and construction of this model probably rivals that of a real An-24:

Long live the aviation of the mighty socialist country!

This was only a model of an Antonov An-24 (which was inexplicably given the NATO code name “Coke” during the Cold War), but I have no doubt that with a sufficiently large green plastic stand, a full-size An-24 could return to the skies in all its Bakelite glory.

Categories: Curious Commodities | Leave a comment

Toothpick Auto-Case Bird

Good Morning, readers. Before you is a stylized representation of an interrogation I had with a supposed East Mangoustani spy:

 

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

What do you know about the Vast Soursop Conspiracy!?

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

Stop mocking me!

Head down

Pick up

Give me an answer!

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

How did you become privy to this information!?

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

TELL ME!

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

Head down

I SAID TELL ME. you petroleum based avian bastard!

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

YOU MANIAC!

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

You won’t get anywhere by not talking!

Head down

Pick up

Head down

Do you have weapon blueprints!?

Pick up

Head down

Pick up

AGH!!!!

Swish

Bang

Crrkshplgn

 

“Sir!”

“Yes, agent Kimbel-Sannit?”

“The bird wouldn’t talk. I started reciting Planet of the Apes and flung it against the wall.”

“That’s unfortunate. Who did you quote?”

“Charlton Heston.”

“Well, I guess it isn’t the worst possible scenario. Why do you think it wouldn’t talk?”

“Well…it was a plastic bird. You pressed its head down, and it picked up a toothpick. Honestly, it could be quite handy in more civilian circumstances.”

This blue bird is red

“Don’t complement the enemy. Are you…red?”

“No, I swear! I’m just saying… We don’t even know if it was an enemy. But it could have been. I swear it was trying to lull me into sleep before killing me by being so monotonous.”

“Good point, Kimbel-Sannit.”

That surmises my experience with the Toothpick Auto-Case Bird. We later found out that it wasn’t a spy, but an incredibly confusing, and perturbing, decoy. As we struggled with the baffling blue bird, several Mangoustani agents made it in to the FBFCR headquarters, but managed to be hypnotized by the Pink Whale, and subsequently suffocate on the barrage of ballooning bubbles. We eventually reconstructed the bird, and it now sits on my desk. Upon further inspection, I realized that the bird was Chinese, which probably explains the fact that it wasn’t a Mangoustani spy. There wasn’t any recording equipment inside of it, so chances are, it isn’t a Chinese spy either. However, I’ve heard that the Chinese are occasionally in cahoots with the East Mangoustanis (We’re now banned in China). We realized that it would make more sense to inspect the bird more thoroughly, but that made too much sense for the FBFCR. Practicality is a communist ideology. We did, however, take a video of the bird and its actions, as well as the probably dangerous receptacle that we found it in.

Thankfully, the whole ordeal was over before anything terrible happened. Albeit, several Mangoustani spies managed to internally drown, but they don’t matter, since they’re trying to destroy our pure and virginal daughters.

Regardless, I survived, as did my cohort, and we live to write and eat another day.

Regards,

(Agent) Arren

Categories: Curious Commodities | Leave a comment

The Practicing Horse

The install method of practicing horse

“Put the carbon pole through the rubber pipe.” Ok, got it. Carbon pole. Rubber pipe.

“Make sure the rubber pipe is 45mm from the end of the pole.” Wait, is that the end of the rubber pipe closest to the end of the pole? Or is that the middle of the rubber pipe? These instructions aren’t very clear.

“Then put the ball through the carbon pole.” Put the ball…through…the carbon pole? How am I supposed to do that? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

“After that, put the other rubber pipe on the carbon pole to fix the floating ball.” But how am I supposed to do that?! I already put the ball through the carbon pole. It’s not going to be doing much floating after that experience.

“Use the horse locating set…” What?! The only horse locating set I know about is the one where you put out some sugar cubes and wait. After a while, your horse is located!

“Use the horse locating set to locate the four horse accessories…” Uh, excuse me? I thought the horse locating set was something I used to locate horses. Now I’m supposed to use it to locate horses and horse accessories? And what are the four horse accessories anyway? Pestilence, war, famine, and death?

“Use the horse locating set to locate the four horse accessories on the related place of the plane feet.” The horse accessories are on a plane? No, on the feet of a plane? The plane has feet? And does that mean the horse is also on the plane’s feet? What’s going on here?! Why are there horses on this plane? That ramune was supposed to be non-alcoholic!

“And then install the flying saucer pan.” …?!! I think I just lost my mind.

Categories: Curious Commodities, Wacky Weirdness | Leave a comment

Jackfruit

Cai Cai Jackfruit Chips

My first experience with jackfruit was in the form of Cai Cai Dried Jackfruit Chips. Before I offer my own version of this event, let me share with you the description of this snack, straight from its purple packaging:

“The Cai Cai jackfruit chips dried fruit does not increase any food additive during the fresh fruit to dried fruit producing process. It completely retains the quality and the natural flavour of fruit flavour. It is very delicious and contains many kinds of vitamins and mineral substance which are good for health. It is a kinds of fashion and fallow foodstuff.”

Did you catch that? It’s a fashion and fallow foodstuff! I didn’t write that; they did. Apparently the concept of alliterative snacking is starting to catch on. I’m not quite sure what it means for a foodstuff to be fashion and fallow, but these jackfruit chips are the best example I could ever hope to find.

The chips themselves actually tasted quite good, with a flavor that was like a cross between a pineapple and a banana. After I finished these dried delicacies, I decided that it was time to go on a quest for a fresh jackfruit. Fortunately or unfortunately, this quest was not nearly as epic as the quest for the dragonfruit, and therefore no poem will be written about it.

That’s a lot of jackfruit!

The bag of jackfruit chips gives the impression that the jackfruit is sort of like a round, rough pear. Considering the size of the jackfruit chips, this seemed like a reasonable possibility. The reality turned out to be quite different. If the makers of Cai Cai Jackfruit Chips had intended to show a jackfruit at its actual size, they would have needed a much bigger bag. A whole jackfruit can weigh up to 80 pounds and is covered with short sharp spines. If you’ve ever worried about getting hit in the head by a falling coconut, you can rest assured that being bonked by a falling jackfruit would be ten times worse.

The whole jackfruit comes in its own box, and requires a machete or other large knife to cut it open. It also contains quite a bit of natural latex, which will make a mess of that machete if you don’t coat it with oil first. Also be sure to put down some waxed paper so that you don’t end up with latex all over the laboratory. Once the jackfruit is open, the edible part of the fruit can be removed by hand. The yellow-orange morsels are even tastier than their dried-fruit counterparts, and their tropical flavor is perfect for any time you want a strange snack. Just be careful when you’re cutting open this fashion and fallow foodstuff, and whatever you do, always watch for falling jackfruit!

Categories: Strange Snacks | Leave a comment

Mizuho Melon Flavor Ramune

Pay no attention to that Lychee Flavor Ramune!

I almost passed up this bottle of Mizuho Melon Flavor Ramune, but then I noticed that it was telling me to give it a try. Right there on the label was the clear and convincing command: “Enjoy POP Soda!!” Since I’m psychologically programmed to obey the orders of all strange snacks, I had no choice but to purchase this pop.

Upon closer inspection, the most unusual aspect of this demanding drink was the baffling bottle in which it arrived. The label included a 55-word essay on the proper method for opening the beverage, along with seven dire warnings about this risky ramune. I soon began to suspect that this bottle, and its persuasively punctuated slogan, was in fact a plot by the Vast Soursop Conspiracy to inflict harm on agents of the Federal Bureau of Foreign Culinary Relations.

Instead of a traditional bottle cap, this strange soda is confined in its container by a glass marble inside of a plastic neck. This is known as a “Codd stopper” after Hiram Codd, who invented this in 1872. The bottle is filled upside-down, after which the marble falls into place and forms a seal thanks to the pressure of the carbonated beverage.

To open the drink, it’s necessary to push the marble out of the neck and down into the bottle. With Mizuho Melon Flavor Ramune, the necessary tool is helpfully included right on top of the package. All you have to do is disassemble the cap to remove the opener, place the opener in the neck of the bottle, and press down. Be sure to hold the opener in the neck for five seconds, or else the contents of the bottle might escape. Once that’s done, carefully drink the soda, but don’t tip the bottle up too far. If you do that, the marble will clog the neck and you’ll be left with a frustrating fizz experience. If you look carefully at the bottle, you can see an indentation which prevents the marble from falling all the way to the bottom.

While the Codd stopper was a revolutionary idea in its time, it isn’t a common sight among modern fizzy drinks. As a result, it requires several warnings:

  • “Please ask an adult to open the bottle.” I’m pretty sure kids in 1872 would have been able to open this bottle without losing more than one eye. In 2012, apparently not so much.
  • “Parental supervision is advised for small children.” In 1872, parental supervision was advised for firearms larger than .22 caliber. In 2012, supervision is also needed for consuming soft drinks.
  • “Do not try to remove the marble from the bottle to avoid an injury.” In 1872, these bottles were the primary source of marbles. It was the toy surprise, sort of like the temporary tattoos of the 21st century, except getting this toy out required handling broken glass.
  • “Do not place the cap opener or marble in your mouth.” In 1872, this warning fell under the category of “natural selection”.
  • “Do not store this product in the freezer or expose to high temperature.” In 1872, they didn’t have freezers, so I can give them this. But I’m starting to wonder what this green stuff really is, since bad things happen when it gets too cold or too hot.
  • “Do not drink if the seal is broken.” In 1872, no one would have dreamed of contaminating a bottle of ramune.
  • “Do not drink if the marble or bottle is damaged.” In 1872, I don’t think anyone had to be told that it was a bad idea to swallow broken glass. This says a great deal about 2012.

Fortunately, the Armenian Fungus Cake team heeded all of the warnings and narrowly survived the encounter with Mizuho Melon Flavor Ramune (take that, Vast Soursop Conspiracy!). The ramune itself tasted as green as it looked, and this flavor did seem to hint at some sort of generic melon. While the soda was unremarkable, this was a very valuable lesson in how to cope with confusing Codd containers. These skills will surely come in handy when dealing with future bubbly beverages.

In case you’re wondering just what “ramune” is, it’s a Japanese word for soda that comes in a Codd bottle. It’s a loan word from English, which is derived from a phonetic pronunciation of “lemonade”. No angry letters, please. That’s really where the word comes from.

Categories: Strange Snacks | Leave a comment