VI. 3 Musketeers: The Bane of Chocolate Aficionados

Originally posted at A List of Grievances on August 30, 2011.

So it’s been a while since I had any grievances to air. Plus I was busy graduating and shit. (Someone tell me what to do with this B.A. in English because, seriously, right now your guess is as good as mine.) But I found something that grinds my gears (and it isn’t Asian pop fangirls – this time): 3 Musketeers candy bars.

I was at the grocery store with my mom the other day before Hurricane Irene whipped through Wilmington (and by whipped through, I mean “missed by, like, fifty miles”), picking up the necessities – booze, peanuts, Coke – to get us through the ‘cane. We were sort of drifting aimlessly because we were hungry, and you really shouldn’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, lest you buy four bags of chips and forget the milk. Anyway, we ended up checking out the candy aisle. My mom and I have a nasty sweet tooth between the two of us; every time we say we’re going to quit the sweets, she or I will invariably open the freezer and yell, “Why don’t we have any fucking ice cream?” (You can see my quest to get back to a size four is working out really well.)

We were poking around the mixed bags because, you know, variety is nice. Why buy three different bags of things when you can get one bag with everything in it? So we found one we liked – Milky Way, Milky Way Midnight (I don’t like them, but my mom does, so it works), Snickers, Twix… and 3 Musketeers.

3 Musketeers fucking suck. They’re like diet chocolate, and thus a total waste of guilty calories. 3 Musketeers consist of fluffy, super-aerated nougat encased in a chocolate shell. They have no textural component and they taste like… nothing. Sugar. They barely even taste like chocolate.

I ask you, what is the damn point of eating a 3 Musketeers? If you’re going to eat a candy bar, fucking eat a real one. I mean, shit, who even likes nougat? Nougat is the stuff you eat while you ask yourself where the goddamn caramel is. Even Milky Way realized that no one fucking likes nougat, so they released the Milky Way Double Caramel bar. Snickers has nougat, but at least it’s got peanuts and caramel to add flavor and texture! 3 Musketeers is a cop-out of a candy bar, the bastard stepchild of the Milky Way. If your favorite candy bar is 3 Musketeers, you need to re-evaluate your priorities. If you’re trying to eat healthy, eat a freaking apple. Don’t waste your time on this sorry excuse for chocolate.

Needless to say, we skipped out on the candy and bought Sara Lee frozen chocolate lava cakes instead. Suck on that, 3 Musketeers.

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V. It’s That Time of Year…

Originally posted at A List of Grievances on May 5, 2010.

No jokes today, kids. Serious post is serious.

Okay, so my old high school’s budget vote is coming up soon, and in the last few years the budget either hasn’t passed, or it’s been pretty low so there’s not much funding for anything. If it doesn’t pass this year, all hell is going to break loose because they’re going to:

a) cut literally every extracurricular activity (they work on an “all or nothing” policy, so even if you have outside funding you can’t run your club or whatever because it’s not fair to groups who don’t have outside funding) that isn’t a sport (3, 2, 1… RAGE ASDFLKJSDF;SDLFSD)

b) drop all university in the high school programs – so all of the SUPA (Syracuse University Project Advance; bio, psych, sociology programs), FMCC (English, calc, history), and UAlbany programs (English, French, Spanish) are being dropped from the curriculum. I find this particularly grating because now the curriculum won’t be half as rigorous, and therefore students who want to go to prestigious schools with top-notch academics will be completely fucked because pretty much anybody can get an A in a system where there’s no challenges. I had a hard enough time getting into college as it is, and I had all those courses. I graduated fourth in my class with a 95.57 cumulative GPA and I got either waitlisted or flat-out rejected from all the schools I applied to (with the exception of Elmira because I had a scholarship, but I’d have sooner offed myself than went there). Imagine next year’s seniors applying to schools with literally nothing but standard curriculum on their applications. No amount of extracurriculars (of which there will be none, as mentioned previously) is going to hide the fact that you went to a school that gave you a barebones education.

c) lay off more teachers, increasing class sizes and forcing teachers to spend way more time on behavior management than actual teaching (especially in the lower grades, where kids aren’t as disciplined anyway). Among other things, I’m sure; those are the major cuts. So there are a couple of Facebook groups started by Broadalbin-Perth students and alums (my sister’s friend M., who goes to Tufts [which, for those of you not in the know, is a school on par with Trinity], for one) dedicated to spreading the word and encouraging people to vote. There was a discussion board topic on the group M. started, so I quoted something he’d said and posted a response:

“BP will become simply a facility for basic and simple learning, with no extracurriculars or intellectually stimulating curricula”

THIS THIS THIS. i mean, it’s bad enough that BP doesn’t offer proper AP curriculum (and yet allows students to waste $85 to take a test that the school doesn’t prepare them for), but cutting ALL of the university in the high school/SUPA/FM programs is going to be seriously detrimental to the future of any student who doesn’t want to necessarily go to a SUNY school (and may even affect them as well). if this budget fails, the students might as well not even bother GOING to school anymore – it’s not like they’re going to have any learning resources (especially with the proposed faculty cuts and increased class sizes on top of everything).

argh. this whole thing is so aggravating. i don’t see why a bunch of old people who don’t want to pay taxes because they don’t have kids in the district anymore get to call the shots. we’re the ones who are going to be paying for your flipping medicaid and social security. the least you can do is make sure we have the kind of education where we can find a job to pay for your flipping nursing home. god.

My sister’s friend J. was like “Thank you for articulating what I was too angry to write,” and I was like “HELL YEAH, rock the vote etc.” So I didn’t think I’d said anything too bad, because I think most students feel like that. Well, apparently some people (including my sister’s friend J.Q.’s mother, although she didn’t write the paragraph below) took offense to that last paragraph of my post.

But your offensive, immature, “in-your-face”, whiny attitude in your last paragraph will make those that are sitting on the fence go the other way. Attacking taxpayers and “old people” (many of which are struggling) is not conducive to winning them over.

First of all, it’s “many of whom.” Second, I’m offended by these people who consistently keep voting down the budget! Of course I don’t mean to lash out at people like K.’s husband (J.Q.’s dad) who qualify as senior citizens – you have kids in the district, obviously you’re going to support the budget, and I’m glad. I’m directing my rage at people who think they don’t have any sort of civic responsibility because they and theirs aren’t directly affected by whether or not the budget passes. It is extremelygrating to me that we are forced to support the elderly (because FICA and social security are taken directly out of our paychecks), and yet they have no desire to give back to the community.

I know as well as anyone that there really isn’t anyone in Broadalbin with money; my mother is a low-income single parent with two kids in expensive colleges. We make do, but it’s hard. And there’s not a lot of money or room for advancement in the Capital Region at all. But if you vote the budget down, you are taking away so many opportunities from students who maybe don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in a good-for-nothing town like Broadalbin.

So you know what? I’m not sorry at all for saying what I said. These people need to realize the consequences of their ignorance and if I have to get “in their face” to do it? So be it.

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IV. Beef: Literal and Figurative

Originally posted at A List of Grievances on April 21, 2010.

I am a little concerned, people.

(Look at me using the word “people” when the only people who read this are my sister and the Tripod staff! Delusions of grandeur, I has them.)

I just got back from dinner at the Bistro. (And by “back,” I mean… I’m tutoring at the Writing Center. But I practically live in the English Department, anyway, so it is sort of like being home. In a sad, “I’m so overworked; help me, Rhonda” kind of way.) They have those nifty little dinner options where Trevor will cook something awesome for you and it costs anywhere from $7-12, which is practically highway robbery given the exorbitant prices Chartwells charges (but that’s a post for another day, sadly). Last night was penne alfredo with chicken & broccoli (which is pretty much my favorite meal ever). Tonight was steak, tiny potatoes (because I’m pretty sure to be a “fingerling” potato, you kind of have to look like a finger, not a crippled grape), and grilled asparagus (which had some kind of sickeningly sweet marinade, was cold and therefore unappetizing, and I am pretty sure I saw Trevor pour coffee on it, which I found disturbing, to say the least.  Unless it was balsamic vinegar, in which case… gross, I hate balsamic vinegar).

I asked for my steak medium rare, because I prefer my food to pretty much walk onto my plate, but I don’t usually trust anyone who is not a restaurant chef to get that right. So I usually order it a bit more done if I’m at some sort of casual event. I am thinking I should have requested medium, though, or even medium well, because I tried to cut into this thing and it was very, very rare (read: pretty much still raw) on one side.

The sad part is that I was so hungry I ate that bit anyway.

I probably wouldn’t have had so much time to think about it if I had a knife that could actually, you know, cut through stuff. Plastic knife + steak = it’s not going to happen. (I actually snapped one of the tines off of my fork because the steak was so hard to hold down and cut. I am a little scared that I swallowed it and I am going to get a perforated bowel and die.)

(I think I need to up my dosage.)

Anyway, I don’t know what would be so terrible about actually providing cutlery that… cuts. This is Trinity, Chartwells, not juvy. My mom’s best friend used to teach cosmetology at Tryon School for Girls in Johnstown, N.Y. (AP STYLE WHAT WHAT!) and the girls were never allowed to have actual scissors or anything remotely pointy because they might go crazy and start stabbing each other or my mom’s friend. But I don’t see why we can’t have actual steak knives just for the act of… cutting steak.

… This is kind of a stupid post. I’m gonna blame A. P. for that.

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III. A Letter to Trinity College

Originally posted at A List of Grievances on April 19, 2010.

Dear Trinity College,

I would like to lodge a complaint with you on behalf of the entire student body.

For college students, the Internet is invariably the most useful tool given to us to aid our education. It’s how we receive the copious amounts of e-mail various departments of the College (I’m looking at you, Career Services) send out on a daily basis. It’s how we register for classes. It’s how we buy our wristbands for Spring Weekend (and, on the flip side of that, it’s how we pay the judicial fines incurred on Spring Weekend). Professors post their syllabi and assignments on Blackboard, and often expect us to submit assignments or posts that way. (The Internet is also the biggest help in honing our procrastination skills, but that’s a story for another day…)

What I’m trying to say is that college students need the Internet. So I’m curious as to why TrinAir, the main wireless internet connection on campus, insists on, you know… not working half the time. It’s either impossible to connect in the first place, or the signal disappears in the middle of browsing, forcing me to fight with/frantically turn on/off AirPort until the Internet starts working again. This is really, really unhelpful when I am trying to post on Blackboard for Professor Kuyk’s class (in which I am dismally falling behind, to the point where I almost want to punch myself in the face) and the Internet craps out and eats my post. Don’t tell me that I should write my posts in Microsoft Word and copypasta to Blackboard; the point is that the frequency of these Internet blackouts is troubling and I am not the only person who feels that way (judging by an informal poll of the Tripod staff, and by poll I mean Aley Pickens was swearing at her computer for, like, half an hour because she couldn’t connect to the Internet).

What makes this even more grating is that a lot of people (excluding myself; I ♥ you, Long Walk Scholars Society!) pay a metric buttload (and yes, that is a technical term, thank you very much) of money to go here; the least you could do, Trinity, is make sure to provide fully-functioning, basic amenities like indoor plumbing (the problems with which are worth another post, frankly) and wireless Internet.

Also, while you’re fixing the terrible wireless service, maybe you could also go ahead and increase the upload/download bit rate. It is so annoying to buy stuff on iTunes or try to send e-mails with pictures attached and have to sit there and wait 40 minutes for the damn thing to upload/download/send. I realize it’s meant to be a preventative measure to dissuade students from downloading through peer-to-peer networks (Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, you’d think we were selling crack online instead of downloading music), but it’s so annoying. And you can’t get around it even if you bring your own router, because everything connects to TrinAir.

Basically, you guys are a bunch of cheap bastards and I hate you.

No Love,

E. A. VI, Ph.D., CBE, D.D.M.

P.S. Now “Internet” doesn’t even look like a word anymore.

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II. Cool Ranch Doritos

Originally posted at A List of Grievances on April 17, 2010.

Today’s topic (because I’m pretending the last entry was from yesterday even though I posted it after midnight because I went to sleep between then and now, so, yes – yesterday) is Doritos.

Because I am sometimes (okay, often) too lazy to peel my ass out of bed and go to Mather (the main dining facility on campus) to obtain food of questionable nutritional value, I eat snack food for breakfast. (Although since it’s after 2:30 at this point, I would say lunch would be the more appropriate meal… but then, I only got up at noon. Considering I went to bed at 5:20 a.m., that is pretty outstanding.)

This snack food can be pretty much anything, ranging from chocolate chip cookies to various kinds of chips to those breadsticks I bought last week at Trader Joe’s. (I should probably throw those out, now that I think about it.) This morning it was Cool Ranch Doritos. These are pretty much the only kind of Doritos I will actually eat, because I have severe misgivings about the nature of the “Nacho Cheese” on the standard red-bag variety. Also, they stopped making the Salsa Verde ones I used to love so much. They were really popular when I was in third or fourth grade, and I would spend my breaks from school–

Okay, digression: in Las Vegas, where I spent the majority of my pre-pubescent formative years, we had a year-round system, so you’d go to school for 12 weeks (something like three months) and then get a three-week break. There were five “tracks,” so basically every three weeks one of the tracks would be on break. If you were really lucky, you’d get Track 1 or Track 5, the former allowing you to start the school year three weeks late, and the latter allowing you to finish the year three weeks early, with a two-week break following for the entire school – effectively our summer vacation. I have included a diagram up to about Christmas because I was too lazy to do the entire year, and also I don’t remember how long our Christmas breaks were and that would fuck everything up if I did it wrong.

But you get the picture; the black sections are breaks and the colored ones are when we’re in school. This system was good because you never got bored on vacation like you do by the end of the summer, and also there were not actually enough classrooms to permit the students from every grade to be in school at the same time, so when your class went off on track break, you’d come back to an entirely different classroom – the classroom of the next track to go on break. So basically you’d have four classrooms each year, one for each new quarter (or trimester? I can’t remember how they ran things, I am getting senile in my old age).

GETTING BACK TO THE POINT: So I used to spend an inordinate amount of my track break lounging around on the couch watching Pop-Up Video (god, VH1, why won’t you bring it back? That shit was my life) and eating Salsa Verde Doritos and basically purging my body of evil by chasing them with sips from a two-liter Pepsi bottle filled with water because they were so damn spicy. (My mother later came up with the suggestion of dipping them in cream cheese to cut some of the heat. Mmm.) Still, TRL never tasted so good.

Then they stopped making those and I had to return to my first love, Cool Ranch.

(Scary story: When I was seven, our babysitters – the girls who lived in the apartment upstairs – decided it would be a great idea to throw a house party. In our apartment. While they were babysitting us. I tried to call my mother to rat them out, but Summer, the idiot babysitter who clearly thought she was smarter than a seven-year-old and a five-year-old, headed me off at the phone and point-blank refused to let me call my mother. Shaken, and not in a fun way like a James Bond martini, I returned to my room to protect my little sister and think up another battle plan. Eventually Summer told everyone that my mom was due home and they all started to filter out of the apartment. My mother saw people trickling away from our building and was perplexed but didn’t think much of it since there were other people who lived there and maybe they were having a party or something. My mom came in, gave Summer her pay, and sent her and her sister off on their merry way. Not five seconds after they were out the door, Ali and I blabbed. My mother, in a fit of maternal rage, stomped upstairs to chew the fuck out of them [and probably their mother, too, for raising such irresponsible shitheads]. When she returned, I guess one of the first things I said I was mad about during all this was the fact that Summer’s stupid boy friends ate my Cool Ranch Doritos, which were reserved for my lunch every day. My love goes deeper than my fear of molestation by high school boys, I guess.)

But something that has always bothered me is the chip-to-flavoring ratio. You know how you open up a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and sometimes you get the ones that are totally loaded with spices, and sometimes you get the ones that have the perfect amount (such that your lips aren’t burned off by the sodium content), and sometimes you get the naked chips with no flavoring at all? So you try to skirt the latter, and then by the end of the bag you just have a pile of chips that taste like disappointment, and a pool of spicy powder hiding in the corners of the bag, laughing at you while you curse the gods at Frito-Lay who made you spend that extra money on deliciousness when all you ended up with was half a bag of Tostitos.

Get your shit together, Doritos. Get some new spice adhesive, or improve your bagging process, or bake the deliciousness into the chips. As Brian Littrell would say, “Quit playing games with my heart.” Don’t promise me a Lamborghini and show up with a 1999 Hyundai Accent. Maybe if I start hanging out with my friends Tostitos and A Large Bag of Shredded Cheese With Which to Make Awesome Nachos, you’ll start to care.

Yeah. You heard me. Homemade nachos. With sour cream and salsa. Suck on that, Frito-Lay.

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I. The Follow-Up Album

Originally posted at A List of Grievances on April 17, 2010.

I hate it when musicians release a new album and it’s not as good as the last one. Like they decide in the studio that whatever they were doing before – which other peopleactually liked; I know, weird – was crap and it’s time to go back to the drawing board and eliminate everything that was awesome about the last album.

OK Go seem to be experiencing this phenomenon right now. I loved their debut, and their second album Oh No is pretty awesome, even if the sound is slightly different. It’s still them. But then they released Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, and I am disappoint, son. It’s weird and instrumental and experimental. It doesn’t have the same fun vibe the past two albums had. It sounds like pretentious douchebag art-rock. (I reserve “art-rock” for special cases. It’s practically an insult; at least it’s an insult when so-called “critics” [and I guess you could lump me into this category as well] try to pin it to my beloved Muse.)

Also, OK Go: You are not British. Please, for the love of innocent baby Jesus, stop spelling things in American English with your silly extra “u”s and replacing “z”s with “s”s. You are not T. S. Eliot, and I don’t even like it when he does that. (You can take the boy out of St. Louis, but you can’t take the St. Louis out of the boy.) Now, I realize that OTBCOTS takes its name from a book (The Influence of the Blue Ray of the Sunlight and of the Blue Colour of the Sky, “a pseudoscientific book published in 1876,” according to Wikipedia) and thus the band cannot be responsible for the spelling of the word “color.”

Now I’m not so much concerned about the spelling of “color” as I am by the fact that the band decided it was a good idea to base the “name, lyrics, and concept” of the album off of a “pseudoscientific” book. Do they haveany idea whatsoever about how highbrow and pretentious that sounds? It’s not even charmingly obscure. It’s just obscure. And it’s weird, because they’re all about being accessible to their fans. But I don’t this album is helping them in that regard. That said, I still really want to see them when they come to New Haven (in hopes that they will play some of the hits from the old albums, and, okay, maybe “This Too Shall Pass” and “I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe” aren’t terrible), but considering my ride recently withdrew from school, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. And I won’t be home from Connecticut in time to see them at Tulip Fest in Albany, so there go some more of my hopes and dreams.

Have a list of other bands that have disappointed me with their follow-up LPs. I’m going to go read Bridget Jones’s Diary and gorge myself on Doritos.

Five Bands or Artists That Have Fallen Victim to This Curse and the Offending Albums

1. Coldplay, X & Y
In which Chris Martin has a love affair with a synthesizer and this is their bastard child. Sometimes I like this album because it was my rock in a raging sea of awful during the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school, but then I listen to something like “Low” or “Swallowed in the Sea” and I kind of want to punch myself in the face. Thank god Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends came along, or I might have totally lost faith in Coldplay. And they were pretty much my first grown-up favorite band. I couldn’t just give them up without some serious consideration.

2. Muse, The Resistance
This is debatable, because the songs are good, but it’s a weak album altogether. At least Black Holes and Revelations was a decent follow-up to the fucking worshipfulness that is Absolution. You can’t just follow upBHAR with an album whose opener contains the crowning lyric – according to Matt Bellamy – “If you could flip a switch and open your third eye / You’d see that we should never be afraid to die.” I’M JUDGING YOU, MBELLZ.

3. The Killers, Everything That Came After Hot Fuss
This is up for debate as I don’t actually own the entirety of Sam’s Town butDay & Age sucks ass, for the most part. I like “Spaceman” and sometimes “Human” and “I Can’t Stay,” but the rest is sort of pointless.

4. Lifehouse, Lifehouse
I also blame the fact that they got a new bassist and I am certain he was the reason why Jason Wade wrote that fucking “You and Me” song that makes me want to stab my eardrums out every time I hear it. I don’t mean that he and Jason Wade are gay for each other, I just mean that clearly his tastelessness – have you seen his haircut? – has rubbed off on other band members. The release of Who We Are in 2007 was some consolation, and I haven’t heard anything from Smoke and Mirrors yet, but I don’t think anything they do will ever match up to the lyrical and musical perfection that was Stanley Climbfall. And that makes me sad.

5. Ingrid Michaelson, Everything That Came After Girls & Boys
I don’t know what my sister is smoking – although she likes Jack Johnson, so maybe that explains everything – but she thinks that Everybody is a really great album. There are maybe three songs that are okay, but it’s boring musically and lyrically for the most part. And Be OK was a sad EP marketed as an LP. Don’t make me pay $10 thinking you’re releasing some original material when it’s actually some crappy live versions of your songs and a cover of one of Elvis Presley’s best songs (“Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” bitches!). I mean, it’s great that she did it to raise money for cancer research – Lord knows that’s a cause near and dear to my own heart – but Christ, couldn’t she have, you know, written some new material? I mean, if I’m gonna buy a live album, there better well at least be a DVD with it.

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