Friday, October 26, 2007

The Pharyngula mutating genre meme

So we've been called out. A southerner now in England has thrown down the gauntlet and has questioned our ability to maintain a blog. The last time I knew a southerner that talked smack while pretending to be an Englishman, I was a sophomore in college taking a British literature class. The professor was a guy from Alabama that spoke with a really fake British accent. But unlike the aforementioned literature professor, this blogger I speak of doesn't speak with a fake accent (as far as I know) and he doesn't wear cheap tweed jackets with elbow pads.

Anyway, the challenge it to answer the questions in this meme. Now, most people wouldn't know what a meme is. Heck, I don't even know quite how to pronounce it! But from what I can tell, it's defined as "A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another." Or in more layman's, blogger terms, its a way to get something posted on your blog for the day while also getting other people to visit your site. Clearly, we might be in need of something like this as our last post was almost a week ago.

To get back to the point, this one should be particularly appealing to us as it has something of a biological theme...albeit a loosely biological theme. Being a developmental biologist, I'm familiar with the term "pharyngula" but I'm not sure that most people would. Basically, its a very early stage in vertebrate development at which time all vertebrate embryos pretty much look the same. Do a google image search and I bet you'll see that this is true. The relationship to this posting is that all of the people that have done this before have all started with the same basic format, but they have then made a minor change or two to a question. Not enough to drastically change it, but just enough to distinguish it from the other posters.

Here's the deal:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

•You can leave them exactly as is.
•You can delete any one question.
•You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.
•You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”.
•You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

The Lineage:

P: Pharyngula.
F1: Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
F2: Flying Trilobite.
F3: A Blog Around the Clock.
F4: archy.
F5: Why Now?
F6: Rook’s Rants.
F8: Kathy F.

The Questions:

I'm going to have to make a few changes here because otherwise I wouldn't be able to answer much here. Sorry, but alien encounter songs in sci fi? Anyway, here goes.

The best recent skit on Saturday Night Live is: “The Barry Gibb talk show"

The best “bad” movie in chick flicks is: “Blue Crush“.

The best non-pop song in pop is:
Well, I'll take this to mean a song that's played on the pop stations that doesn't bear any resemblance to Britney Spears or Fergie. Lately, I've really enjoyed the song "Teenagers" by My Chemical Romance.

The best flavor filling in sandwiches is: Grilled cheese with tomato and onion, otherwise known as "The Sconnie" at the Old Town Pub in Madison, WI.

The best beer is: Madtown Nutbrown from the Ale Asylum.

The Victims:

Well, we're not really established in the blogging world and as such, we haven't really known other bloggers much. Jenelle recommends we tag her high school friend Jamie.

Know someone like this?

I have to admit to some of my guilty pleasures....
I watch WAY too much TV, especially reality shows like Hogan Knows Best, Scott Baio is 45 and Single, Rock of Love, The Real World, The Hills, Meerkat Manor, America's Next Top Model.... the list could go on and on.
Something else that I do on a regular basis is read advice columns, especially when they are a headline on Here is blurb from 'Ask Prudie' earlier this week. I think I was rolling on the floor I was laughing so hard. We all know people like this but even worse most of us, at some point in our lives, have BEEN a person like this.
Hi Prudence,
I'm an office manager at a very small company, where I work with three other girls. In short, I am much smarter than my co-workers. When one of them asks a dumb question (i.e., "What's so bad about Fox News?"), I try to be sensitive and explain without making them feel stupid. Sometimes, though, I get very frustrated, and it's difficult to hold my tongue. Yesterday, my co-worker's sister came in to visit and announced shamelessly that she had never heard of Craigslist. After she left, I exclaimed to my other co-workers, "I can't believe she's never heard of Craigslist!" My co-workers defended her, saying they had never heard of Craigslist until they moved to New York City. I find this preposterous. I didn't say anything else because I didn't want to come off as a snob (which is probably how I'm coming off in this e-mail; my apologies). How does one handle working with people like this? I could keep my mouth shut and go with the flow, but it makes me feel dumb when I don't speak up—I feel that if I don't acknowledge their stupidity, then I'm not doing my duty as an informed young woman.
—Dumbed Down

Dear Dumbed,
Since you're so knowledgeable, I'll leave it to you to answer the following letter:
Dear Prudie,
The three of us work in a small office with an overbearing braggart who thinks it's her job to constantly tell us how smart she is and how dumb we are. If we say something that indicates we don't agree with her political views, she rolls her eyes and gives us a lecture on how to think. If it comes up that we don't know about some Web site she's familiar with, for example, she sighs and tells us it's impossible to believe that we could be that unsophisticated. Her attitude almost seems to be that she feels it's her obligation to point out how superior she is. In some small way, we feel sorry for her because she's so unlikable, but mostly we just can't bear the sight of her. How do we get her to shut up?
—Sick of the Show-Off

Good for you Prudie!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Presidential Candidates

The other day, Jon Stewart compared Fred Thompson to the breakfast cereal cartoon character Frankenberry. It was never something I considered I guess, but the resemblance is certainly there and it definitely garnered a laugh.

After the laugh, it also caused a little thinking. With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries coming up in just under three months, I wonder if any of the other candidates bear any resemblance to other cereal cartoon characters. Who could play the Count Chocula, for example, to Fred Thompson's Frankenberry? Could it be Mike Huckabee?

Now, as to not seem biased against either of the political parties, I absolutely had to turn my attention towards the Democrats. Is it just me, or does Dennis Kucinich just a little TOO MUCH like "Pop" of Rice Krispies fame?

How about John Edwards? With his goofy smile and $200 hair cuts, he's just asking to be made fun of. Which cereal cartoon character could he resemble? The last poll I saw had him in 3rd place trailing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Edwards chasing after Clinton and Obama seems kind of analogous to Lucky the Leprechaun chasing after the kids that stole his Lucky Charms.

Back when I was in college, my favorite cereal was probably of the Pebbles variety, either the fruity or the cocoa. Could any of today's presidential candidates possibly fill the shoes of Fred Flintstone? While it would seem appropriate for Mike Gravel to fill this spot because of his famous commercial where he throws a rock into a lake and because, well, his name IS Gravel, I'm going to have to give this honor to Bill Richardson.

But I don't want any Mike Gravel supporters to feel left out here, so let's see if we can come up with any cereal cartoon characters that he resembles. Seems to me that if you put a big, poofy chefs hat on Gravel's head, he would look a lot like the chef mascot for Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Caramel Chip Bars

1/2 c butter
32 caramels
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg (18 1/4 oz) yellow cake mix
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 c miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup vanilla or white chips
1 Heath candy bar (1.4 oz) chopped

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, caramels, and milk; cook and stir over medium low heat until smooth. Cool. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, oil, and eggs; mix well. Stir in chips and chopped candy bar (dough will be stiff). Press 3/4 into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 15 min. Place on a wire rack for 10 min.
Pour caramel mixture over the crust. Crumble remaining mixture onto caramel layer. Bake for 25-30 min or until edges are golden brown. Cool for 10 min; run a knife around edges of pan. Cool 40 minutes longer; cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

This is a recipe from the November/December 2002 issue of Quick Cooking. I have to admit that I didn't wait for all the cooling for a taste test. It is SO good!
I figured that it was about time to post another recipe. I have made this numerous times in the last few months. Once to test, once for a shower, once for Jason, and most recently I made 3 pans of them for the grand opening of my parents' new store. They always disappear very quickly!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Walls of the Cave

"I'm leaving you a message,
I'm leaving you a trace,
I'm leaving thoughts for you
I hope that time will not erase.
And when the moment comes
To read the words that I engraved,
You'll find them on the walls of the cave,
Of the cave."

- Phish, "Walls of The Cave"

This past weekend, Jenelle and I went to explore the Cave of the Mounds. The Cave of the Mounds is a local national landmark and park that was surprisingly more impressive than I expected. I had heard of the park since around the time we moved here but just never got around to going to check it out. The caves themselves are between 1 million and 2 million years old but like many natural wonders, these caves were discovered accidentally. There was a long story to describe the history of the caves but to make a long story short, it was found when they were digging for the limestone in the area and when they blasted this area, they were amazed to find this huge series of caves below the ground. If you'd like to see some of the pictures we took, check them out here.

While I was looking through these pictures, this Phish song popped into my head. I'm not nearly the music expert that another particular blogger is, but I thought I'd start this blog post with a little excerpt from this song. Not only am I not much of a music expert, but I'm also not much of a fan of Phish. I probably couldn't even name half a dozen of their songs. But this song is one that stuck with me. Reading the lyrics, it kind of seems like a retrospective on one's life, almost something written with a postmortem perspective. But I also remember that there was a little controversy about the meaning of this song when it came out. An alternate theory held that this song was about 9/11, and the conspiracy theorists held that the abbreviated title for this song (WoTC) could also be an acronym for World Trade Center. I'm not sure if I believe this and I can't find any evidence that the writers of the song had this intent, but its an interesting meaning for the song nonetheless. I'm wondering if the people that believe this latter meaning of the song are also the ones playing Beatles records in reverse listening for hints that Paul McCartney was really dead.