Of course, the main feature of baconfest is the annual taste test. We had a nice collection of bacons this year. We didn’t get as many sort of rare or local varieties as I would have liked (especially compared to last year), but overall I thought everything was really good. It was a pretty wide range of flavors and appearances.
|Boar’s Head (Smoked)||5||Good crisp – Light|
|Sobie Meats||6||A lot more tasty fat (by tasty I mean full body) thicker cut but still a crunch.|
|Nueske’s (Wild Cherrywood Smoked)||4||All the fat was at the end instead of throughout|
|ThinkGeek Tactical Bacon||2||super thing – nice for crunch but lacked flavor|
|Trader Joe’s Black Forrest Bacon (dry rubbed)||5||very similar to #1. A good flavor, very light.|
|Boar’s Head (Smoked)||7||Sweet. Thin. I liked the crispiness|
|Sobie Meats||2||Very meaty taste is strong. Like fish.|
|Nueske’s (Wild Cherrywood Smoked)||5||Smokey & salty|
|ThinkGeek Tactical Bacon||6||Not much flavor. A good breakfast bacon.|
|Trader Joe’s Black Forrest Bacon (dry rubbed)||7||Taste is very different in a good way. I like how thin it is.|
|Boar’s Head (Smoked)||8||thin (which is nice), no overpowering flavors which is also nice|
|Sobie Meats||5||blah. has sort of a stale flavor, a little chewy|
|Nueske’s (Wild Cherrywood Smoked)||7.5||a little sweet, a little salty, tastes liek a delicious campfire|
|ThinkGeek Tactical Bacon||4||I confess to recognizing this one. Honestly, it tastes like nothing, which is better than I expected. The texture is fine|
|Trader Joe’s Black Forrest Bacon (dry rubbed)||6||Has a subtly sweet flavor. Not bad, nothing fantastic either. Also, thin in a good way.|
|Boar’s Head (Smoked)||5||average bacon, decent taste, bacon size was a little uneven|
|Sobie Meats||8||good appearance, just the right amount of fatty, good after taste, a little smokey|
|Nueske’s (Wild Cherrywood Smoked)||9||great flavor, salty, little fatty|
|ThinkGeek Tactical Bacon||2||blech|
|Trader Joe’s Black Forrest Bacon (dry rubbed)||8||good taste, a little different, more tough than I usually like, but it all came together for me|
|Boar’s Head (Smoked)||6||smiley face|
|Sobie Meats||1||frowny face|
|Nueske’s (Wild Cherrywood Smoked)||2||unsure face|
|ThinkGeek Tactical Bacon||10||smiley face|
|Trader Joe’s Black Forrest Bacon (dry rubbed)||8||smiley face|
|Brand||Average Rating||Average Rating (with Evie)|
|Boar’s Head (Smoked)||6.25||6.2|
|Nueske’s (Wild Cherrywood Smoked)||6.375||5.5|
|ThinkGeek Tactical Bacon||3.5||4.8|
|Trader Joe’s Black Forrest Bacon (dry rubbed)||6.5||6.8|
Very, very close this year. I can’t believe that Trader Joe’s bacon has won 2 out of 3 years! That’s crazy. It’s also interesting that the winner didn’t change with the inclusion of Evie’s rankings.
Ollie’s ballot was exactly what you would think Ollie’s ballet would be, each one signed with an “O” to be sure there was no hanky panky.
I would like to talk for a minute about the Tactical Bacon from ThinkGeek.
Even though it lost pretty badly, everyone was very impressed with the TacBac. This can of bacon has been sitting in my pantry for more than THREE YEARS. Sara was so disgusted by the idea of it, that she couldn’t even look at the can. And given all that, i would put it up against any of the “precooked” bacons on the market. It was remarkable, and certainly worth eating in the case of a zombie apocalypse. In fact, you’ll notice Evie gave it a full 10! I think this is probably because she doesn’t like strong tastes and it has a pretty muted flavor, but nonetheless, if anybody can give old bacon from a can a 10, I think we’ve got a winner. (Full disclosure, I did drop the slices in the bacon grease from one of the other bacons to better disguise it.)
Some people get tired of all the stupid April Fools jokes that run around on the Internet. It seems like every company has some “joke” up their sleeve, to the point where there’s just no chance of anybody tricking you on that day.
On the other hand, I like it. April Fools day has turned into something like an Internet holiday. Wearing a green, pseudo-Irish outfit and drinking beer doesn’t make sense either, but everybody goes along with it because it’s St. Patrick’s day, and why not? Putting out a silly fake ad or doing something dumb on your website is the April 1st equivalent of wearing green. It shows you’re participating.
So, in honor of the 3rd annual baconfest this weekend, I give you Scope’s contribution this year: bacon flavored mouthwash, “for breath that sizzles”
This is the perfect example of an April fools joke. It’s a ridiculous and terrible idea, and yet it’s *just* plausible enough that a bunch of talking head idiots at a company might try to capitalize on the bacon sensation. Plus, there’s some serious production value on that commercial. It’s more enjoyable than a lot of actual commercials.
ThinkGeek, on the other hand, continues to use April Fools “pranks” as a way of beta testing perfectly good ideas to see what people actually want to buy. Seriously guys, there is an art to a good April fools joke. You have to start by making something that’s ridiculous, and then convince me, despite my skepticism, that it is a real thing. That’s a well done joke. Just showing me some products that you could make and sell, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, is not a joke.
Scope link via Sylvain (and it should be mentioned this video came out *before* April fools, lending it credibility).
Remember those little army men you used to play with when you were little? I used to love those things, but what could you really do with them? Not much. And honestly, is it really appropriate to have kids waging little wars? Probably not.
UNLESS those army men were doing something a little more constructive than fighting wars, such as fighting zombies. Thanks to ThinkGeek you can now get scaled down zombie and zombie fighter army men.
Not just for kids either: now you can practice your zombie plans easily and accurately. You want to talk about constructive toys that can really teach your kids something worthwhile…
Over the weekend, Sara and I had to go to a movie to maintain our average of 1 movie in the theater a year since Evie was born. Just to recap, the other 3 moves were Slumdog Millionaire, Public Enemies, and Avatar. That’s right, we go to so few movies in the theater, each one is worth a blog post. Now, 2 of those movies were really good. But if you’re only going to see 1 movie a year, you can’t afford to have just an average movie in there. So this time, we didn’t want to waste it, so we saw the last of the Harry Potter movies.
I saw a lot of people being bummed about the end of the long-running series, and calling this the “end of an era”. I don’t know, I just didn’t feel any sentimentality over it. Maybe it was because I was into the books more so than the movies, so my era already ended. Certainly I was very excited to see the movie (but then again, that might just have been the fact that Sara and I were getting away from the kids for the 4th time ever), but I didn’t feel any sense of loss or absence or whatever afterwards.
The movie was really good. It was fast paced (after all, they had to wrap up an 8 movie series in just over 2 hours, which the shortest of all the movies), it was well done, it was superbly acted (especially Alan Rickman), and it did everything it needed to do, which is apparently harder in a series finale than you might guess.
Now that all is said and done, I doubt I’ll ever go back and watch the movies again. I tried watching the first one awhile ago, and man is it silly. I didn’t notice at the time, but now that we’ve seen the darker movies, it’s hard to go back to the early, goofy ones. It’s how they had to do them, however.
In fact, I’ll go on record saying that’s the single biggest reason why the Harry Potter series was successful.
The books (and consequently the movies) started out as kids books, but they didn’t stay that way. They grew with the audience. Children who read the first book at an appropriate age were 10 years older when the final book came out. If the books would have continued to be written for children, they would have ceased to be interesting to the kids who were no longer kids.
So the question is, will something like Harry Potter ever happen again? Well sure, in the sense that there will always be some sort of high-selling-cultural-phenomenon that everybody just has to go see. So in that sense, I guess Twilight is/was the new Harry Potter? There are a couple of significant differences though, and not the least of them is the fact that Twilight focused on a much narrower audience (mostly teenage girls)(and before you yell at me, I read them all, so don’t try to tell me they’re not focused on teenage girls), and Harry Potter has something for everybody.
I would certainly think that making 8 movies with virtually the same cast would be the hardest part of it. To me, that is the most amazing part, and I’m still impressed they were able to do it. Think of everything that had to go into that. You had to have actors that were able to carry on the roles that long (consider how many were unknowns, and how many started as kids and ended as adults). You have to have no scheduling conflicts or egos demanding more money (maybe that last is the hardest one). You have to have a studio that is really committed to doing everything right, with no egos on their end who demand changes or certain directors, etc. You have nobody who decides they don’t want to be typecast, or wants to move on to something new (I guess this goes back to the ego thing, but hey! This is Hollywood! Ego plays a big part.)
So that’s it I guess. I’m looking forward to someday reading the books with Evie and Oliver. That won’t be for quite some time I think.
Oh, a final note about seeing movies in 3D…I’m over it. The 3D in the movie was interesting, maybe even neat, but at the end of the day, it added nothing. It is certainly not worth paying a couple of bucks extra to see. Movie studios won’t stop doing it until we stop paying for it people. Stop them now before there are no 2D options left! (Of course, we can always go buy 2D glasses from ThinkGeek to down-convert 3D movies into 2D movies…)
We went to church on Christmas Eve, and Evie was really excited. However, we’re still struggling to find a Christmas service that both starts at a reasonable time, and is around an hour or so long. They tend to draaaaag. I understand, you want to get your big choir in, and read all the best readings, and have a Christmas play, etc., but it is very, very stressful to try to keep Evie entertained and quiet while all of this is going on. Especially when you factor in that you have to get there 30 minutes early if you want a seat.
There were still some good moments though, like Evie playing peekaboo with the president of the Cook County board, who sat right behind us. The big thing for Evie was singing Christmas music. Of course, she likes the more commercialized songs and the church ones tend toward the religious. She asked me if we were going to sing Deck the Halls and I was like, “I don’t think so honey.” She likes Hark the Herald Angel Sings, so I thought we might have a better chance with that. However, when we looked in the program, sure enough, Deck the Halls was on there! Who would have thought?
Of course, once we opened the door to Deck the Halls, as far as Evie was concerned, everything was fair game:
Evie: “Are we going to sing Santa Baby?”
Of course, Deck the Halls was at the end of the service and Evie didn’t quite make it. It was a big relief to me when she fell asleep, since I didn’t have to threaten her anymore, but I knew she would be disappointed that she missed it. The first question she asked when she woke up was, “Was it beautiful?” Then she made us all sing it when we got home in reenactment.
As far as the presents go, there were so many under the tree that the meager additions from Santa sort of went unnoticed. The presents I was most excited about were the balance bike, the sizable donations to college funds, the “my first bacon” from Uncle Nathan, and the beautiful, amazing doll house that Sara and Anna had when they were little (which Evie adores).
The bacon, in particular, has caused quite a stir. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “I’m bacon!” in the past few days. It was a present for Oliver, but Evie is the one who keeps playing with it.
Evie: “Mommy, shh! Bacon is sleeping!”
However, there were two presents that really take the cake.
Well, the first wasn’t technically even a present. For months now, Evie has insisted that the only thing she wanted for Christmas was a new bed upstairs where everyone else sleeps. Her bedroom is downstairs, by itself, and she’s terrified. It makes me feel pretty bad. So naturally she wants to sleep upstairs where everybody else is, and who could blame her? So, since Santa gave her a bed last year, she figured he’d be good for another one this year.
So my mom had a trundle bed she was willing to give up, so we got that to put into Oliver’s bedroom upstairs. We tried to make it very clear that it was not a Christmas present. It’s Oliver’s big boy bed in Oliver’s room, that he doesn’t mind sharing with her while he’s not using it. Her bed, and bedroom, remain downstairs.
For my part, the grand prize was my new accordion. I have really been wanting to learn how to play the accordion for some time now. I don’t know the first thing about it, but you know what they say: the first step is buying the accordion!
Something tells me you might hear a thing or two about the accordion on the blog in the future…
If you recall, I blogged previously about a Harry Potter-style wand that can change the channel. I must be a sucker for any kind of wand related merchandise, because I can’t seem to get over it.
Check out this voice activated wand flashlight. Say “Lumos” to turn the light on and “Nox” to turn it off. Tell me that’s not cool??
Also, there is a Harry Potter dueling wand game, which is sort of like laser tag. I don’t think this is as cool as the spell-activated flashlight, but they have more styles!
If you prefer something a little more practical (or useful at work), ThinkGeek has non-Harry Potter related merchandise, such as Rebel Leader headphones, for that perfect Star Wars look:
Or some awesome medieval weapon pushpins:
I never get tired of looking at their stuff, and I look forward to getting the catalog the way you look forward to getting a magazine you subscribe to!
Lloyd the gnome is currently guarding our garden, and doing a decent job at it. So far this year, no poachers. However, I think Lloyd is about to be superseded. Gnomes aren’t really that scary. But zombies are.
That’s right, a garden zombie from (who else?) ThinkGeek. It’s a little pricey at $90, but who hasn’t wanted to have their own garden zombie?
Yeesh, never mind, that thing’s too scary.
Nerds like bacon (periodically):
And I like bacon, so we’re all in agreement.
Every April Fools’ day, Think Geek, puts up a host of new products. Of course, these products aren’t available for order, just as a joke. However, they fool me with this every year. Why? Because the products are so ridiculously simple, and so ridiculously desirable, there’s no reason NOT to make them. For the most part, there are no technical barriers to creating these products, and yet there is a demand. Why make it a joke? Why not just sell the products? (Note that it has happened in the past, that they did end up making a product, since the demand was so high).
So here are some of the products that you CAN’T BUY, but you should be able to!
First up is a lovable plush toy that any child would love (come on Rachael, even you have to admit it is adorable!).
It’s not just a stuffed animal, it’s also a puppet. It even says, “I’m bacon!” when you squeeze it. And who doesn’t love the tag line, “You’ve got a friend in me(at)!” The sooner you encourage the consumption of bacon, the better the lives of the children will be. Please, think of the children!
Once the alarm begins, punch in “the numbers” on the keypad or suffer the consequences! No simple snooze button on this one, you have to type in the complicated numbers and hit enter. And if preventing the end of the world isn’t enough motivation to get out of bed in the morning, then I can’t help you. (And, if you are a true Lost fan, I would recommend watching the short video showing the clock in action!)
Finally, the third product is both interesting and frightening, at the same time. The “Tell Me Your Secrets” Bear.
Kind of reminds me of the Robot Chicken intro.
So, let me allow Think Geek to explain this one:
When hugged, he’ll profess his love for your child, and stress that friends always share their secrets. He’ll ask, “Do you have a secret, best friend? You can tell me anything.” When the bear completes a trigger phrase, the audio and video turns on, recording your child’s secrets, which are then wirelessly transmitted to you via email.
Now even the most despicable, spying, hovering parent has a friend they can turn to!
Okay, maybe that last one is pushing the bounds of believability, but the other two are totally doable.
By the way, if you actually want to buy any of these products, you can go to their website and click to show interest…I’m guessing that at least some of them will show up as real products before too long.
Calling all Harry Potter fans!
How awesome is this? It’s a universal remote that looks like a magic wand! Basically, you train it from your regular remote and assign button functions to various movements of the wand. Then you can literally change the channel with a flick of your wrist!
I would totally buy one, but I don’t think I need a $90 remote…
Now I go on and on about ThinkGeek on here and all the great products they have, but I have finally found one that seems a little silly to me. They have a flashlight that is so powerful, you can literally cook an egg with the beam! According to the website, you can actually set fire to paper with this thing. What purpose could there possibly be for such a flashlight?
Now that Thanksgiving is past, I don’t feel bad about putting up some Christmas stuff (It is the 1st of December after all). Now, if you work a desk job like me, your cube (or what have you…I don’t actually sit in a cube) can always use a little sprucing up. The problem is, the second you start plugging things in, the safety people are all over you. But if you work at a computer, you have a convenient source of power just sitting there. As always, we turn to the leader in USB powered devices, ThinkGeek, for all our festive desk decorations.
First up, a USB-powered Fiber optic christmas tree.
ThinkGeek always goes above and beyond. In this case, they not only provide us with a nice product, but even a festive song to go with it:
O USB! O USB! A wonder of technology;
O USB! O USB! A wonder of technology;
Our favorite toys are plug and play,
Just stick it in and we’re on our way.
O USB! O USB! A wonder of technology!
If you’d rather go with something a little more low key, more traditional, you can just stick with the USB-powered Christmas Lights:
So obviously all of my loyal listeners are wracking their brains trying to figure out what to get me for Christmas. Well, you can’t all get me bacon-of-the-month club memberships. On second thought, you could…packages upon packages of bacon arriving every month…but then again, if I’m too fat to type, you’ll miss my posts.
Well, if one person out there doesn’t want to get me bacon, how about Last Night on Earth, a zombie board game. $50 seems a little steep on the price, but surely it is worth $50 to try out various survival techniques. Also, you can play as the master of the zombies, and that just sounds cool. I don’t think I even need to mention the “epic CD soundtrack”, I think you’re already sold.
Okay, let’s be honest, ThinkGeek had me at the words “Zombies are officially the new black.” Truer words have never been spoken.
I make no attempt to hide my love of ThinkGeek here on the blog. Every time I get the newsletter, there is always something cool to report. This month was no exception, giving us the amazing Tac Bac – Tactical Canned Bacon. This is amazing, you can stockpile it up and it will last for 10 years. Well, it won’t last for 10 years, because you’ll eat it, but maybe in your hunger to get at the bacon you accidentally knock a can back behind the shelf or something and find it 9 years later…it’s still good! Why would you need to stockpile bacon? Well, for tactical purposes obviously (if you read the webpage closely, you’ll notice that they specifically mention the zombie apocalypse…I’m just saying)
But wait, there’s more! Special bonus ThinkGeek product, the Force Trainer. This thing blew my mind, basically you can train your Jedi skills in the use for the Force, like, for realz. You clamp this headgear on, which measures your brainwaves. Depending on how hard you’re concentrating, the ball will go up or down in the tube. I think this is probably as close as we are ever going to come to actual Force usage.
I shill for ThinkGeek so much I’m waiting for a paycheck, but they just have the greatest stuff. Tell me this wouldn’t be an awesome shower curtain / bath mat set for your guest bathroom:
I also think this is a stellar idea. Basically, you can add a little extra monitor that runs off your USB port, no external power cord. So you could conceivably add as many extra monitors as you have USB ports! They’re small, but it could be good if A) you have a laptop, or B) you have a lot of them. They could also be useful to keep up certain apps like instant messenger or winamp.
Once again, my favorite online shop ThinkGeek comes through with an awesome product, just in time for summer! The Swashbuckling BBQ Sword. As the ad says:
Now you don’t have to choose between seeing your enemies flee before you, and roasting the perfect weenie.
The full block list is as follows, and I think you will agree that it covers all the bases your future Evil Genius needs to know to help her grow.
|A - Appendages
B - Bioengineering
C - Caffeine
D - Dirigible
E - Experiment
F - Freeze ray
G - Goggles
H - Henchmen
I - Invention
|J - Jargon
K - Potassium
L - Laser
M - Maniacal
N - Nanotechnology
O - Organs
P - Peasants (with Pitchforks)
Q - Quantum physics
R - Robot
|S - Self-experimentation
T - Tentacles
U - Underground Lair
V - Virus
W - Wrench
X - X-Ray
Y - You, the Mad Scientist of Tomorrow
Z - Zombies
And if that isn’t enough of a learning experience for your little one, you can also get a nice plush pirate which will help teach skills like shoe tying, snaps, buttons, etc. I assume you can also practice eye patch application and sword buckling, so your little one will truely be prepared to face the day.
Here’s hoping Evie can be the first to cross mad genius and pirate!
(Pirate link courtesy Meg)
Once again, ThinkGeek comes up with a stellar product. In this case, it is Weasel Puke Coffee, and it is no joke! Basically, these weasels eat the best beans off the plant, but the beans irritate their stomach causing them to vomit. Somehow their stomach acid affects the beans which are harvested by Vietnamese people and brewed into a drink which is treated as a delicacy.
There are weirder symbiotic relationships in nature. I suppose they probably could have come up with a better name that is a little less descriptive. Maybe it is lost in translation or something.
After posting this story, many people have mentioned to me that there is also Weasle Poop Coffee, which is definitely more disguting but, unfortunately, not for sale.
So, after yesterday‘s less-than-stellar trial, today I came armed with several things to try that would be more appropriate to test the properties of the pills. Yesterday I only had my lunch and it was not really geared towards the type of thing that the fruit is supposed to affect. Also, as pointed out in the comments by someone from ThinkGeek, the fats in my cheese and oatmeal cream pie were working against me and breaking down the proteins that make the whole thing work.
Trial II was nothing short of a rousing success! You have to get a hold of these things, it was as amazing as I could have hoped it would be!!
1) A lime – Absolutely delicious! I tried it before hand to make sure it was not some secret delicious sweet variety of limes and I assure you, it was very sour. After letting the tablet dissolve, the lime was just so sweet and delicious and sugary like candy. The weirdest part was that you could feel a feeling of citrus in your mouth but you couldn’t taste it as sour. Very odd.
2) A plum – I had to prove that yesterday’s delicious plum wasn’t a fluke. Sure enough, it was super ripe and sugary tasting.
3) A tangerine – This was crazy. It was so sweet I almost couldn’t eat it.
4) A cherry – Mostly like a cherry still, but definitely sweeter, almost like cherry pie.
We had about 4 people from work trying it and every one agreed it was pretty cool. One person was impatient and chewed his tablet and he didn’t notice any difference. So the lessons learned are:
1) Make sure you dissolve it fully on your tongue.
2) Make sure you have the appropriate items to try (i.e. sour things and fruit).
3) Sweet things don’t really get sweeter, so don’t bother with those.
There are several items I would still like to try such as Tabasco sauce and sour cream. The guy from ThinkGeek also recommended beer. I would absolutely try it again at home when I could gather some more items together.
As a side note, why do people from companies only comment when I bash their products?
Unfortunately I didn’t have anything prepared to give them a fair try, so I will probably need to try this again. This is what I had with me:
1) Oatmeal Cream Pie – It tasted about the same, I really didn’t notice a difference. I was warned it could be super over sweet, but I didn’t notice.
2) Plum – At first I thought it tasted the same and I thought the pills were bogus. But after eating it for a little bit I thought, “Either those pills are working or this is the finest, ripest plum ever picked!” By the end it was almost too sweet! But I didn’t taste it before the pills, so I don’t know how much improvement there was. It could have, in fact, been the finest, ripest plum ever picked.
3) Venison and Cheese sandwich – It seemed to taste extra delicious, but I think I am chalking that up to my heightened awareness of taste as I scrutinized every bite for the effects of the berries.
4) Diet Dr. Pepper – It had a sort of bitter taste at the end. Definitely not an improvement!
Nothing was that dramatic however. I’m wondering how much of it is a placebo effect, meaning, I know this is supposed to taste different so now I’m thinking it tastes different. The Emperor’s New Clothes in pill form. To be fair though, the pills are supposed to turn sour things sweet and I didn’t really have anything sour. I will need to try again with some lemons or the like.
I will, of course, keep you posted.
As I have previously reported, there is a crazy Miracle Berry that messes with your taste buds such that everything you eat tastes totally different and delicious. I really wanted to try it out and a berry only costs about $3 a pop, but I couldn’t really find a place in Chicago to get them. You could import them by the hundreds, but that was pretty expensive! I even considered buying a plant and growing them myself, but they sounded pretty difficult to take care of.
But finally, a light in the darkness! And from who else but my favorite store, ThinkGeek? Now available for purchase, you can buy Miracle Berry Tablets, which work the same as the berries. I am really itching to try them and now they are affordable (even if they are on back order).
So, anyone up for a flavor tripping party?