Friday, April 16, 2010

The Diet Diaries: #3 (A baking miracle!)

Over the years, the Internet has brought me countless hours of wonder and delight.  Starting with the family's first dial-up connection to Prodigy (technically more of an intranet, but I'm not here to split hairs) I have been glued to that magic portal.  After all this time together, today I experienced my first Internet-related religious experience.  It was a baking miracle.

Behold, the 100-calorie cupcake:

Oh.  My.  God.  The only problem you will have is figuring out how to stop yourself from cramming the whole batch in your mouth at once (which, at 2,400 calories, still wouldn't be the most decadent dessert in the world).  These cupcakes, inspired by a post over at Omnomicon, are dangerously simple to assemble.  You will need four ingredients:

 One box of cake mix.  I chose Devil's Food, because it's decadent.

One 12oz. bottle of diet soda.  My pick was Jones Diet Black Cherry.  Yum!

One container of Fat Free Cool Whip (thawed) and one box of Sugar Free/ Fat Free pudding mix.  My choice was Cheesecake flavor, for the obvious reason of deliciousness.

Stir together the cake mix and the soda in a large bowl.  You will need to whisk the batter fairly vigorously to ensure all of the dry mix gets incorporated.  Follow the baking instructions on the box, adding about 5 more minutes to the baking time, until a toothpick comes out clean.  You can make cupcakes, bundt cake, whatever your little heart desires.  I went with cupcakes because it forces a bit of portion control on my dessert-greedy self.

While these little beauties are baking, whisk together the Cool Whip and the pudding mix.  It will be a little thick, so you will probably need an icing spatula to spread it on the cupcakes.  Also, since it's made primarily from Cool Whip, I would recommend storing excess icing in the fridge.  When you're finished, they will look a little something like this:

And there you have it.  100 calorie cherry-chocolate cupcakes with cheesecake icing.  It's not the richest dessert in the world, but if you're on a diet it's a culinary orgasm.

Children and Animals

It's been suggested that a well-placed dose of adorable goes a long way in helping to sell a product.  Take, for example, Oscar Mayer hot dogs.  Get a kid with a few missing teeth to smile and exclaim that they wish they were a weiner and it's advertising gold.  Get a guy in a grubby sweatshirt with a few tattoos and it's a public service announcement.  Statistically, children and animals are basically irresistible to the average consumer.

However, I think I've found the exception to that rule.

At first glance, he may seem like your run-of-the-mill cutie pie.  He has great taste in clothes, is polite to the neighbors, and knows when to flash that winning smile.  For all intents and purposes, he is a perfect example of the innocence of childhood.  Now, fast forward 15 years.

I knew there was something fishy about that kid.  He just wore that adorable costume to throw you off while he was casing your home.  He'll wait patiently until you drive away in your Subaru Legacy and  :::bam:::  kick in your back door.  I'd keep an eye on that one if I were you.  Next thing you know, he'll be showing up to your dinner parties and catching you off guard with his winning charm (and door-kicking-in abilities).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Photo Limbo

I may be the only person on this planet who still does not own a smartphone.  Shocking as this may be (especially considering my penchant for online media), it's simply the unfortunate reality of unemployment.  Therefore, despite all my wishful thinking, my phone is just a phone.  I make calls, I send texts, and from time to time I use it to snap a photo.  The problem with this is that, without any web enabling, the images remain trapped in limbo.

When I first got this phone as part of a Verizon upgrade back in August, I searched it high and low for any sign of a camera card.  There were no buttons, no slots, and no information about image storage in the little instruction booklet that was included with the phone.  In fact, the instruction book is quite literally tiny, supposedly part of "green" efforts from Motorola.  This didn't stop me from taking pictures, but it did stop me from showing them to anyone else.

Yesterday, after seeing a pretty hilarious inflatable gorilla in a shopping center, I decided to take some drastic measures in an attempt to share the fun.  I completely took apart my phone, and hidden under the battery was a card slot!  After poaching the camera card from my old phone, transferring the images, and borrowing a card adapter from my dad, the images have now been freed from limbo and I am left with only one question:

How many pints of blood do I need to sell before I have enough money for an iPhone?

 Some snow art following Snowmaggedon.

A moment of hope outside the post office.

My neighbor's Bradford Pear tree (looks nice, smells fishy)

Mmmmm, vodka tonic.

Rat treats at PetCo.  French rat treats.


Thursday, April 8, 2010


Looking for a cd to play in the car, I found a bunch of old mixes from my college years.  Most of them are only labeled with the date, and those that have titles are non-descriptive things like "for the drive to Waldorf."  (Apparently my creativity did not extend as far as my music collection.)  Among them were several cds I burned as play lists for my college radio show (also marked only with the date).  Armed with a stack of mystery albums, my drive down the highway ended up being more like a trip down memory lane. 

It was a fairly pleasant trip, but this song really threw me for a loop.  I had completely forgotten about it but the words all came flooding back to me, along with some emotions I was not prepared to handle while operating a moving vehicle.  All I could find on YouTube was a live version, and while it is still beautiful it doesn't have quite the same solemn power as the studio version.  The way things have been going  it was both the best and worst song to come across today.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kitty want to get high?

Ever wonder what it would be like if you were a cat on LSD?  Me neither.  However, Friskies seems to think that taking your cat on a wild dance through fields of baby chickens at each meal is a key selling point.

If this looks at all familiar to you, perhaps you recall the extra-trippy Sid and Marty Krofft show HR Pufnstuf.  In the late 1960's, apparently this was perfectly appropriate children's programming:

Actually, come to think of it, this commercial perhaps more closely resembles the Mr. Show interpretation of good old Pufnstuf and his merry pals...

I think someone at Friskies spent a nice long weekend in the Altered State of Druggachusettes...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Look with your special eyes

It's not often that something can make me laugh, without fail, every time I see it.  But when he looks with his special eyes and sees ::gasp:: his brand, I nearly pee myself.  I can't get enough of this commercial for 1-800-Contacts.

It reminds me a bit of an ad that was done by Publicis for Sprint as part of a campaign back in the early 2000's (boy does that sound odd).  The ads featured the results of phone conversations ruined with static, my favorite being one where a spouse brings home a soap opera star instead of "soup from the store."  There is a dramatic pause at the close of the commercial where the hunk is leaning against the mantle over the fireplace holding a can, and he mournfully states with his Spanish accent: "Soup."  I've been searching for it on YouTube to add to the post, but I can't find it anywhere.  You'll just have to trust me that it's hilarious.

Not all soap opera ads do it for me though.  In particular, I can't stand the current Cheer detergent campaign that uses a fake show called "Brighten Beach" to highlight how well their product cleans whites.  A woman (who is supposed to be a babe, but actually looks a bit like a drag queen) wakes up from a coma and thinks she sees an angel.  But, no!  It's just the shiny white coat of the dreamy doctor, who carries around a bottle of Cheer for no apparent reason.  It's pretty awful.

1-800-Contacts, however, is pure genius (thanks to the comedic stylings of the Perlorian Brothers).  I can't wait for the next Overly Dramatic Dramatization to hit the airwaves!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Kids in America

After a rather dismal winter, it's been a relief to see that Spring is finally making a solid appearance.  With the sun shining, a lovely breeze, and temperatures in the upper 70's, today seemed like a perfect day to enjoy an outdoor lunch.  Well, in all honesty it was an outdoor lunch under a very large umbrella, but until scientists invent a sunblock that keeps my translucent skin from burning after 10 minutes in direct sunlight I'll just have to make do with cautiously watching the sun from the safety of the shade.  I settled in with a good book and a salsa-drenched salad (the only Q'doba food I can safely consume during Passover) and enjoyed a tranquil meal.

For about five minutes.

That was about how long it took for the gaggle of teenagers who had been in line behind me to make their way to an adjacent table.  In general, I try to refrain from "kids these days" rants, because I know that maturity (as its definition suggests) does take time.  Plus I still enjoy some things thought to be juvenile, such as video games and violent slasher movies (just to name a few), and I think that the world could benefit from people taking themselves less seriously from time to time.  That being said, listening to these kids talk over lunch made me want to bang my head against the metal patio furniture.

Maybe it's because I've been reading Bob Dylan (I'm halfway through Chronicles, Volume One and it's fantastic) but their empty conversation really got my blood boiling.  The topic that got them most excited?  Discussing some girl who likes to carry chocolate-covered pretzels around in her purse and musing over how sour patch kids would be a much more normal and desirable option because, "If the sugar gets all over your things you can just lick it off."  As they were getting up to leave one girl dared to dip her toe in the current events water and asked her friends what a "Chechan" was.  She was informed that it was probably someone from "Checha."  Where is that?  "I dunno, a city in Russia or something."

A passage I read while listening to this drivel seemed eerily relevant to how I was feeling:

"A lot was changing in America.  The sociologists were saying that TV had deadly intentions and was destroying the minds and imaginations of the young- that their attention spans were being dragged down.  Maybe that's true but the three minute song also did the same thing.  Symphonies and operas are incredibly long, but the audience never seems to lose its place or fail to follow along.  With the three minute song, the listener doesn't have to remember anything as far back as twenty or even ten minutes ago.  There's nothing you have to be able to connect.  Nothing to remember."

I'm not going to rail against technology.  I love technology.  I would probably trample your grandmother in a race for a free iPad (although I would certainly have great respect for any granny hip enough to want one).  However, I still believe that it's important to get in touch with the real, with the visceral, with the raw.  My generation, and the generation following, seems to have lost touch with what it means to create.  They don't have enough of an attention span to absorb their surroundings, process them, interpret them, and understand the significance of the experience.  Unemployment is driving me mad, but I'm still grateful to have this free time for introspection.  The way things are going in the world today we all could use a slap in the face, either literally or metaphorically, to wake us up and get our pulses racing again.

So, in a way, I'm glad these teenagers invaded my ears today.  It has reminded me how passionate I am about my writing and about my art, and how crucial it is for me to reconnect with my creative self.  It also taught me the socially appropriate candy to stow in my purse, but I guess that's more of a secondary lesson.
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