There was certainly a lot going on in the grocery store today, and not just because of an impending blizzard. There was also a quiet kind of mayhem afoot: out-of-control claims and typos on some weird nature cereal!

Grain Berry? What was I thinking?

Grain Berry? What was I thinking?

The Silver Palate, eh? Who the FUCK are you and what are you doing in my cereal aisle?

The beauty of this discovery is that I didn’t register a single thing about this cereal box until I was back home standing in my kitchen and saw “Network of Smart Antioxidants;” I almost dropped the box. My eyes, contorted by wonder, drifted down to find:

IMG_20150126_151046

High Tannin WHAT? I can’t hear yoooou

I thought this was just some shredded wheat, for shit’s sake. Should I use red wine instead of milk so I can get some RESVERATROL PLUS ANTIOXIDANTS PLUS TANNIN too?

The best of all is the side panel. Behold:

"Drink every time you make a mistake!"

“Drink every time you make a mistake!”

No. No, you don’t “grow” the antioxidants you senile old man. And even if you did “antioxidants” do not “makes” anything. Oh, and nice title, “Grain Berry Grower…”

The back of the box contains too much text to want a picture of, but I will share with you some choice quotes.

“If you have access to a computer and the internet, I urge you to check the discussion about antioxidants by leading medical institutions and universities” Uhm, don’t tell me to just go Google shit about your product, you lazyface.

“Bottom line, antioxidants, and its helper bioactive compounds, fight the attack of these chemicals called free radicals before they can do serious damage and other very bad things.” Science just exploded.

“A leading university of public health states unequivocally that ample evidence suggests that a network of various antioxidants from fruits, vegetables and whole grains provide protection against many of the ‘scourges of aging.'” That’s some flowery language from a leading university of public health…

– –

BONUS CHECK-OUT AISLE MAGAZINE MENINGITIS MAYHEM:

Mmmmeningitis

Mmmmeningitis

What does public health have against ice cream?

Like, an Alice in Chains music video or something.

http://40.media.tumblr.com/2d428524619f088629551548744c343f/tumblr_mwkkw8zO6j1qigcnqo2_1280.jpg

Two hours of meaningless, empty, vapid, BORING plotless meandering emo bullshit. I fell asleep THREE times– on purpose! There’s that part In Amadeus where Salieri is explaining that if the Emperor yawned three times during an opera it would be a one-hit wonder and fail that same night.

http://content8.flixster.com/question/43/23/50/4323506_std.jpg

Here’s what I was able to glean from the movie in between naps. Tilda Swinton looks like Powder’s sister:

http://media.weirdworm.com/img/misc/6-movie-characters-with-actual-god-like-powers/powder.jpghttp://www.flixist.com/ul/215678-Jim-Jarmusch-Only-Lovers-Left-Alive-Tilda-Swinton.jpg

Modern vampires are nothing more than loathsome bohemian hipsters who drink artisanal blood like Fernet and make whimsical blood popsicles:

http://d1oi7t5trwfj5d.cloudfront.net/7c/99/4649161745d4a164c0fdc8db82fb/only-lovers-left-alive-tilda-swinton.jpghttp://i.ytimg.com/vi/-TbxI_oRSKI/hqdefault.jpg

Oh, and there’s no plot.

A.O. Scott is weirdly gentle in his two-and-a-half star review:

“What sustains “Only Lovers Left Alive” is less a story than a sensibility, an attitude of nostalgic and somewhat cranky connoisseurship. Plots are for squares, which is not to say that nothing happens.”

Of course things happen– vampires mope around wearing sunglasses, looking for blood, feeling suicidal, playing the lute, looking like Robert Smith– but in the end, who cares? You can go to Brooklyn or a Whole Foods and see this shit in real life and STILL not care!

If Nihilism is the underlying theme here, then really embrace it and just stay home.

https://attemptedblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/50716-1416263462931.jpg?w=608&h=342

Today’s edition of The Anthology of Pizza Box Graphic Design brings us to Picnic Pizza in Kingston, NY. Like so many excellent New York area pizza holes, Picnic is located in a cement building minutes away from the highway.

Don’t be alarmed by the aforementioned cement and the casual use of neon — this place is gourmet at its best. During our last visit, Mr. Max, Lena and I shared 4 slices: white with broccoli, eggplant parm, tangy roasted tomato and mushroom, and classic tomato basil (natch). All were exceptional — bold flavor, crisp crust, and the perfect amount of sauce. Massachusetts has NOTHING on this.

Before we left, we made sure to snap a pic of their collection of pizza box designs (assisted by the ever-obliging counter staff).

Box #1:

A somber take on the city scene genre. In addition to the tiled streets and brick buildings, this abandoned square features a stone fountain flanked by adorable decorative plants. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be any water in the fountain. And where are the people? Is this a post-apocalyptic city? Is that a drone in the sky? Should I stop watching so many war documentaries?

Box #2:

Another quaint city scene. I’ve reached the point with TAOPBGD where i have to search my own archives to find out whether or not I’ve reviewed something. It turns out I’ve seen this one before, albeit in a color scheme I termed “autumn vomit.” It looks much better in traditional pizza box red and black ink, and I definitely appreciate the classic script font. Look at those swirls and loops! God I just love tacky fonts. (Take that, Helvetica.)

This prime example of higher education marketing dots the landscape on my daily commute. It was put up fairly recently, and Mr. Max and I both screamed the first time we saw it. And why wouldn’t we? The concept is hilariously absurd. Forensic… accounting? Having never heard these two words together, we assumed the field would involve some kind of high tech investigative crap, like whatever it is that’s depicted here:

But no, there’s no fancy technology or CSI drama in forensic accounting — it’s more like garden variety number crunching with some paralegal stuff thrown in. That’s almost as disappointing as when the someone tells you they have fireworks and it’s just one of those lame snake things.

Disclaimer: I’m probably not the best person to comment on graduate education, as my standard response to the ol’ master’s degree question is “I’m learning to play the drums.” If accountancy floats your boat, more power to you. But I think we can all agree that rebranding the accounting field as having a sexy side is probably NOT in the best interest of, you know, reality.

The glitz! The glamour!

 

 

Knowing that nobody would want to see this movie with me and might feel awkward coming up with an excuse, I, as a benevolent friend, headed to the theater solo. “Date night!” I declared enthusiastically to my parakeets, and stopped to consider that I was going to see a rom-dram Stephen Hawking biopic. Perfect.

There were no theater beers to be had at the venue, so I bought a giant brownie and some Earl Grey. I figured mainlining sugar and caffeine would keep me awake during the film, as Matthew McConaughey does not play Stephen Hawking (but wouldn’t THAT be something). No, the cast was basically a bunch of unknown British actors and before the opening credits stopped I had come to a beautiful realization: in addition to being yet another movie mashup, The Theory of Everything is also Lifetime movie. It’s like they tried to establish a unified theory of how bad movies are made. Some observations:

Aspergerporn

Most Lifetime movies feature a bunch of hunky guys for the leading ladies to fall for and reject, but ToE serves up a gaggle of awkward geniuses gallumphing around the well-manicured lawns of Cambridge University.

The Right-Hand Rule never looked so good

As someone who’s first crush was Spock, I’m okay with all of this. In addition to cluttering up chalkboards with Calculus, these physicists fraternize (read: clutter up napkins with Calculus)  in dimly-lit pubs where they make winsome-yet-minimal eye contact with the occasional group of ladies standing in the corner. This is how Stephen ends up meeting his wife, and is basically exactly the same as the beginning of A Beautiful Mind.

The future Mrs. Hawking’s outgoing personality and nerd love make it an idyllic match, and awkward Stephen cuts loose. She gets him to dance which is, like, huge– it’s like the money shot of aspergerporn.

Our love still exists behind a wall of math

You gotta do you

The whole “leaving someone who needs you because you need to take care of yourself” Lifetime theme (The Dive from Clausen’s Pier) takes a twist in ToE. Typically Lifetime presents a strong woman who can’t tied be down to, say, her quadriplegic boyfriend. In ToE it’s fully-Lou Gheriged Stephen Hawking who decides to run off to America with his nurse, leaving his long-suffering wife with the billion children he managed to sire. Nice move, Dr. Asshole.

Next he’s going to buy a sportschair

He takes old wife to meet the Queen, at least.

Stupid ending

It’s the whole movie rewinding to the first time he met old wife. Derp. We have to see Hawking’s decline in reverse; the chalk he broke during a Lou Gherig’s-onset moment is repaired in an impossible reversal of entropy, etc. Then it’s over and they slap up some “where are they now” text. Classic Lifetime plot wormhole where tons of shit happens in the last 10 minutes– montages, speaking engagements, a big ceremony where the whole audience slowly starts standing and slow clapping-to-fervid applause. That definitely happened in Mr. Holland’s Opus at least once.

Bonus: Cumberbatch comparison

On my way out of the theater I remembered that Benedict Cumberbatch played Stephen Hawking in Hawking.

No.

I’d never heard of the new guy who plays him in ToF (Eddie Redmayne) but he definitely wins the Hawking-Off.

Yes.

Cumberbatch looks straight out of Hufflepuff; soft, naive, and generally lame. Redmayne has it nailed down. Case closed.

Also, don’t see this movie.

THE PINK ERASER: WHAT IS THIS THING AGAIN? I SURE WISH IT WOULD TELL ME.

I love it when people find strange things out in the world and save them for me. It makes me feel like I have the ability to turn the crappy commercialized world into an ironic treasure hunt. And I like that.

Anyhoo, this excellent example of marketing mayhem comes courtesy of co-author Lena Webb’s eagle-eyed mother, who spotted it at a Dollar General. Her only comment in handing it to me was a look of disbelief, with which I agree 100%. It’s not every day that regular consumer goods take the time to explain themselves. I can’t remember the last time I saw a writing instrument adorned with the text, “This is a Pencil.”

But there was something else — something familiar — about this little self-identifying eraser. On further inspection, I realized what it reminds me of: an old childhood relic, the Sanford Pink Pet.

I googled Pink Pet eraser hoping, irrationally, for a Wikipedia entry. No dice. I’ll just have to rely on memory. And Amazon, where these are still available (and poorly reviewed):

I have no idea why the eraser is a ‘Pink Pet.’ Or why the other, nearly identical, eraser is called a ‘Rub Away.’ I do know that I always thought the name Pink Pet was strangely cute. It sounds like a pet rock or a Polly Pocket accessory or something.

As the Amazon reviewer notes, these are crappy, rock-hard erasers (I would add that in addition to not erasing anything, they also leave pink skidmarks all over your paper). Preliminary research indicates the same is true of the Pink Eraser, and that combined with the rubbery aroma tips the nostalgia indicator to ‘High.’ Well played, Pink Pet Knockoff.

CHECKERS: THE NEW BATCH

A few weeks ago, I found myself with a group of co-workers at 5 Below, a neo discount store where everything is under five bucks. This is the kind of place where it’s easy to blow $45 on useless stuff that probably doesn’t meet minimum import restrictions for lead. It’s also the place where I found this:

Neon! Checkers!

I love the idea of attempting to market an old game as new and fresh by… changing absolutely nothing except the color of the pieces. What was that marketing team meeting like? I imagine a group of creatives throwing around all kinds of crazy ideas: an iPhone app, a crossover with Settlers of Catan, a Justin Bieber edition, a 21+ version (the pieces are mini shot glasses), etc. etc. But no. The old guard of Milton Bradley won’t budge.

“What if,” the VP for Sales says, “we just… brightened up the color a bit?”
“Exactly!” yells the CEO. “How about if we redo it in the fresh, modern colors of a 1980s ski jacket? Now THAT would really make it pop!”

And it does. In fact, the only way this set could be better is if it were glow in the dark.

I’m going to be upfront here and disclose that I drank two pints of theater beer during this movie and although these were not potent drinks I may have blacked out for the last 20 minutes. It reminds me of the time I nibbled on a xanax before taking the GRE subject test in biochemistry and molecular biology. By the end I was just filling in random scantron bubbles and giving zero shits.

Clocking in at 3 hours– about as long as it takes one to complete the GRE subject test– Interstellar became as trying an ordeal for me as it was for Matthew McAstronaughey and the rest of the mission crew. What I’m trying to get at here is that it simply wasn’t very good– certainly not as gush-worthy as so many seem to think. It was an extended remix of Gravity, Contact, 2001, Apollo 13, Moon, and maybe even a little Powder and E.T. sprinkled in there too. The only thing that was able to hold my attention after a certain point was McConaughey’s complete and utter hotness. Like most people with a brain and two eyes, I have been reveling in the so-called McConaissance ever since “True Detective.” In Interstellar he’s both a rugged Carhart-wearing farmer AND a sexy astronaut– SPLOOSH.

Ahem. Anyway, if you want pith, I’ll give you a one-word review: Intersmellar. But, because I had to sit through 3 hours of it, I’m going to bloviate.

Hour one:

Everyone on Earth wants to pack up and head to another habitable planet because they are forced to reenact Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl,” which, as we know, is super boring. Old people are interviewed, black and white photographs are slowly zoomed in on– all that’s missing is a mournful violin whimpering out Ashokan Farewell.

We meet the family McConaughey (Cooper and his kids Murphy and Tom) and boy do they love Science. Mom is out of the picture for whatever reason, and Cooper takes the kids on irresponsible adventures like plowing through a cornfield in his pickup truck to fly the family drone around a quarry. Murphy, affectionately “Murph,” is a tomboy and very obviously Cooper’s favorite of the two kids.

Hey kids, let’s play a game called “foreshadowing”

Murph (very unscientifically) thinks that there is a ghost in her bedroom because books keep falling off her shelf. Cooper calls her out on her illogical thinking, but Murph has been taking careful Rainman-like notes documenting the patterns of which books fall. When she leaves her window open during a dust storm and sees some perfectly normal looking lines on the dusty floor she and dad make a giant conceptual leap that “it’s gravity!” I’m all “whuhh?” Wikipedia helps me not feel so dumb by describing this part of the plot thusly: they discover the “ghost” is an unknown intelligence sending coded messages using gravitational waves, leaving binary coordinates in the dust that direct them to a secret NASA installation led by Professor John Brand (Michael Caine).

Oh.

It’s like they wadded up a bunch of sci-fi and threw it at my face. It was jarring and felt unfair.

Hour two:

Michael Caine is in charge of Secret NASA and his most memorable (and irksome) character trait is that he quotes “Do not go gentle into that good night” FIVE TIMES throughout the movie. I guess we can add The Cider House Rules to the movie melange.

“Goodnight you prince of Space, you king of the Universe”

He’s also dying, like the old guy with cancer who funds the space travel machine in Contact. His daughter, Anne Hathaway (Amelia), is a biologist (a nice “soft science” for a pretty lady). Cooper makes a shitty remark about her looking too good to be a scientist and I hate McConaughey for about a second– until I see his glistening cheekbones and degrade him in my mind– he’s too pretty to be a scientist.

Toss in a couple sarcastic robots and some expendable crew members, and they’re ready to boldly go explore habitable planets. Murph is heartbroken and extremely pissed that dad is going to space and literally leaving her in the dust, and she has decoded some more book patterns into a message reading “stay.” He doesn’t. He gives her his watch. We’re supposed to cry now.

Sadsville: population Murph

The all-star crew is whisked off to space towards some planets scattered around near a black hole that have been identified as potentially life supporting. I don’t know what these people were smoking when they decided this, because the first planet is just a planet-wide ocean with giant killer waves. Water only equals life when it’s not drowing you. Amelia tries to haul some data storage machine that’s floating around back into their spacecraft but is doing a real bad job so Expendable Crew Member (ECM) slogs out to try and help. Amelia makes it back to the craft, but the other guy does not. Then everyone is mean to Amelia because she sucked. And is a woman.

We definitely need this wet machine that will probably contain data telling us NOT to try and establish civilization here

Cooper’s all pissed off because on this planet for every one hour spent on the surface, years pass on Earth. This is because it is too close to the black hole, and is yet another reason this planet sucks. He is concerned about Murph growing old without him (still couldn’t give two shits about whatever the son’s name is) and she’s indeed now 20-something years older. She’s followed in dad’s footsteps (but is still super pissed at him for leaving) and is now working with Michael Caine to solve the money equation that will let them harness gravity to launch humanity into space. But after Michael Caine wheezes out a few more do-not-go-gentles, he admits that he made everything up and there is no way to get everyone up into space. It’s a lot like grad school. He packed a bunch fertilized embryos from god knows who and figured we’d just begin anew. Murph is, like, WAY pissed and also assumes that dad knew this all along.

“Shut the flux up.”

Hour three:

Up in space, they try for a second planet inhabited by Matt Damon– always a bad idea. Matt Damon is stationed on an ice planet– again NOT habitable; someone seriously needs to get fired– and lures the crew so he can try to get the fuck out of there. He’s gone crazy in the hostile and isolating environment and tries to kill Cooper when they arrive by smashing his helmet. Lots of explody stuff happens and we lose another ECM and Matt Damon. Amelia does something right for once and rescues Cooper, swooping him up like a Rescue Ranger.

Now we get into the hot and heavy screamy-fake-science-word-commands time, followed by wormhole visions (a la Contact). This is where I start to black out. Again, I defer to Wikipedia’s total WTF-inducing plot summary:

Nearly out of fuel, Cooper and Amelia plan to slingshot Endurance around Gargantua on a course toward [the third “habitable” planet]. [Snarky robots] detach into the black hole, sacrificing themselves to collect data on the singularity and to propel Amelia by dropping the ship’s mass. They emerge in an extra-dimensional “tesseract“, where time appears as a spatial dimension and portals show glimpses of Murphy’s childhood bedroom at various times. Cooper realizes the alien beings have constructed this space so he can communicate with Murphy and save humanity. Using gravitational waves, Cooper encodes [robot’s] data on the singularity into the adult Murphy’s watch, allowing her to solve Brand’s equation and evacuate Earth. Cooper awakens years later aboard a NASA space station and reunites with the now elderly Murphy, who has led humanity’s exodus. Murphy advises Cooper and [robot] to search for Amelia, who has begun preparations on [the third] planet.

The “slingshot” move has totally been used in another space movie, maybe Apollo 13 or Gravity. Using gravitational waves to encode the singularity onto a wristwatch has not been used in any other movies because it is stupid. Anyway, Anne Hathaway ends up stuck on the third planet, doomed to toil away raising the embryos in another kind of dystopian grad school scenario, while Cooper’s snug as a bug in a space station. I’m sure he’ll get around to finding her sometime.

And then Neil deGrasse Tyson says “for every hour you spent watching this movie, you aged 20 years!”

SURPRIIIISE you are almost dead!

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