Category Archives: Various and Sundry

As American as Sriracha Meat Pies

Look, I’ve been doing food posts for the past few Fridays, so I’m not going to stop now… certainly when I can share the story of Sriracha, which is a surprisingly American story.

Illustration by Koji Yamamoto

Okay, maybe it’s surprising to me because I first noticed Sriracha when I was in Indonesia, which was sometimes next to homemade sambal on the table. I got so used to its omnipresence at Indonesian food stalls, the first time I saw Sriracha back in the States, I thought, “Oh, it’s that brand of sambal!”

Well, Brian Gray and Connie Lo over at Vice correct my misconceptions about Sriracha and give you quite the tale of Americana as well.

(And for the record, I have put Sriracha on meat pies, because that it both just and right).

Infinite Ire in Infinite Combinations

I’m well overdue in updating my rankings of every episode of every Star Trek series because, in case you haven’t noticed, they keep on coming out with new seasons… and new shows!

And if you’ve seen my rankings for both Discovery (seasons 1 and 2) and Picard (season 1), you’ll know that I am okay with both, space warts and all. There has been far, far worse Trek.

If anything, I’ve grown weary of the people who can’t deal with the fact that both those series (and Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds) are all in same timeline as the original series (and all the 90s shows), despite clearly having bigger budgets and designers feeling free to utilize them.

Candid photo of certain Star Trek fans watching Star Trek.

Craig Elvy over at ScreenRant.com has a good summary of modern Trek’s divisiveness. In many ways, the new shows really are different… though in many ways, the ire has remained very similar to the 1980s wrath at there being a new Star Trek show (The Next Generation) without the original cast. And while I agree with Elvy that “Most viewers – even the unhappy ones – can appreciate how adhering to almost 60 years of canon isn’t feasible…” there are some few unhappy ones that refuse to admit infeasibility… and they are dang loud about it.

For more details, I guess that will go into my expanded rankings… one of these stardates.

McRib: From Only the Best Boneless Pigs!

Continuing the Friday food series and hinted at earlier this week, it’s time to talk about the McRib: McDonald’s occasional and much-coveted porcine menu item.

The McRib: and object of cult-like desire unless you’re in Germany or Luxembourg

Unlike the Choco Taco, I have had a McRib within recent memory (though I think it was still in the Before Times). I have not used the online McRib Locator, though I know people who have that site permanently bookmarked on their browser. Now, I am somewhat interested in comparing which I like more: McRib or Choco Taco? Or is this the perfect cult food item meal?

In any case, NPR’s Peggy Lowe delves deep into the processed meat history about the origins of McRib in an article that may surprise you.

Tanks for the [Movie] Memories…

I greatly enjoy the expert-reviews-movies-depicting-the-area-of-their-expertise videos, especially when it’s clear the experts understand some creative license occurs in the best of times.

So with that, and for the 10-year-old boy in me (and possibly you) here is one about tanks.

My favorite part: he confirms what I always suspected since the first time I saw Kelly’s Heroes: every tanker wants to be Oddball.

Wherefore Art Thou, Choco Taco?

Evidently, I wasn’t the only one who noticed that the Choco Taco was being discontinued.

Indeed, there was a public mourning worthy of the McRib (more on that artificial food product later).

So, in what one friend cynically thought was Unilever’s plan all along, they are reconsidering the discontinuation, as noted in Fortune.

I don’t know what to believe, other than the fact that I believe I want to see more pictures of a giant Choco Taco at a podium answering questions (see the article). Well done, Klondike graphics team. Well done.

What would you do for a Choco Taco?

Continuing my Friday series on the origins of various food items, I was all ready to delve into the history of the Choco Taco, possibly the best ice cream-based mimicry of Mexican cuisine. Jason Cohen’s article for Eater does a great job capturing the unique, American mass-produced mystique of the Choco Taco.

Image: Esra Erol for Eater.

And now, this week, we learn that Klondike may have people do many things for its bars, but it won’t be standing by its tacos. The Choco Taco is discontinued!

As with so many things you don’t know you’ll miss ’til they’re gone, I now long to taste a Choco Taco. I haven’t had one in years. Were they good? No, I don’t think so. But they were okay. And let’s not forget the shape: a shape as the history article above points out is superior to the average cone as you get better distribution of ingredients in every mass-produced bite.

People are not taking this blow to faux tacos lightly. In fact, Chicagoans already have an option… and I’m guessing other cities will follow. Now all we need is a Choco Taco truck.

Stargate’s Staying Power… or 25 Years of Kawoosh

On this date in 1997, the TV show Stargate SG-1 premiered. To this day, 25 years later, that still elicits “wait, like that 90s film Stargate?”

Indeed.

The series soldiered on through 10 seasons and a couple wrap-up movies. Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe followed, and a legion of fans are still very much around for this lesser known, but very much beloved “star” franchise.

Over at Inverse, Ryan Britt details some of the ways that Stargate SG-1 became an unprecedentedly successful reboot of sorts. He does slight the original ’94 movie a bit sharper than I would (my dad and I saw it in the theater and found it to be a perfectly adequate “Doctor Who story with a budget”). However, I can’t deny that the TV series far eclipsed the film, doing worldbuilding far beyond anything that one could possibly imagine for a feature nor would expect when confined to filming locations in British Columbia.

If you saw and heard this picture, you might be a fan.

I caught the first season when it first aired, but then only saw episodes intermittently, only really sitting down to watch the whole series (and then Atlantis and then Universe) after they were all off the air. If you’re a fan of military sci-fi, the early episodes are easy to jump into, with its Star Trek-meets-G.I. Joe styling. What really gets fun, however, is as the seasons progress, and the upstart humans of Earth really start to improve their technology as the bad guys begin to realize they’re more than a nuisance.

And besides the honest-to-goodness arms race that goes on over the seasons, there are the characters you really come to enjoy along with some absolute standout episodes like “Window of Opportunity” and the two-part “Heroes.” Indeed, I’ve thought of what sort of playlist I could concoct to get introduce people to Stargate, get them to “Window of Opportunity,” and hopefully get them hooked on watching the whole series.

Image: Allison Corr (from the Gizmodo article)

If I sound enthusiastic for the show, I’m not alone. Eleanor Tremeer has a great piece in Gizmodo noting the achievements Stargate and providing a lot of fun history behind the production, the people, and how they all evolved — and her interviews really illustrate what made the show work so well — and why it has fans even though it’s been off the air for over a decade. (Fans do not seem to want to acknowledge Stargate Origins, a web miniseries from 2018. I have yet to seek it out.) She also hints at the beginning and then at the end of the future of Stargate, something I’ve seen buzzing ever since Amazon bought MGM, the Stargate rights holder.

Naturally some people are very passionate about what Amazon should do. Adam Barnard has a plea to uphold the legacy and continuity over on GateWorld — and I can’t say I disagree. General Carter would be wonderful to see. Stargate Universe ended in such a way that one or more of the characters could appear at any time in the future. There’s a rich backstory they built so that any sort of Stargate: The Next Generation doesn’t need to ignore all that has gone before. As Jack O’Neill would say, “We’ve been in worse situations than this.” Lock that chevron. Lock it, I say!

Drunk and Coke

In last Friday’s post about the not-so-secret history of Fanta, the author of the Atlas Obscura article goes a little bit into the history of Coca-Cola itself (since that company begat Fanta). And got me thinking a bit more about the origins of Coke and cocaine and then I got to Drunk History, a series that, if you’re in the right frame of mind (or sheets to the wind) is tremendously fun. Happy Friday!

A Moon Landing, You Say?

You probably already knew that I enjoy debunking a conspiracy theory as much as the next secret member of the Illuminati, but today seems especially appropriate, being the date back in 1969, when humans walked, @#$ing walked, on the moon.

Stranger Things’ Subtitles are the Squelchiest

Maybe it’s the overwhelming melting pot of 80s that speaks to my Gen X self. Maybe it’s the fact that this past season has included the best Munsons since Logan (the quality and fate of characters named Munson throughout media is a post for another time). In any case, I’ve very much enjoyed the latest installments of Stranger Things, what we were almost certain was the last season, but… it’s not.

So many fun touches were put into the show, but one of the most talked about has been the subtitles, which seem to take a certain subversive pleasure in communicating moments with unusual specificity.

Vulture decided to interview the people behind these inspired subtitles and the resulting article is a thing of beauty.

I laughed so damn hard a slipped on the wet floor with a squelch.