Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mmmm... Potpourri.

Sharing My Food

This is a really touchy subject for me. I mean, sharing food is fine - and there are different ways to share food. In general, a family style meal like you'd get at a Chinese restuarant or a Buca di Beppo is okay. The problems only occur when, through the magic of sharing, I'm simply not allowed to eat the food I want to eat. There was a recent situation at a sushi dinner that illustrates it exactly. "Hey," says my friend, "Let's go out for sushi!". Great idea. The thought of two spicy tuna rolls dipped generously in soy sauce and wasabi sounded perfect. I'm on board. So a whole bunch of us go to my absolute favorite sushi restuarant: Sumo. Now, it's important for the story if you remember: I just want my two spicy tuna rolls.

But you see, we're all sharing. One of us becomes the sushi order-slip MC and starts writing down all our sushi requests. When it comes to me, I say "Put me down for two spicy tuna rolls." This is where the trouble begins.

MC: "No no, we already have a spicy tuna roll."

Me: "Yes, but I'd like to eat two spicy tuna rolls."

MC: "So you want to put another spicy tuna roll on there? Are you sure?"

Me: "Well actually, if you already have one, you'll have to add two more, because I want two spicy tuna rolls."

MC: "But the first one was for sharing. You can already have the first one."

Me: "Well, no... Look, I want two spicy tuna rolls. Order as many as you have to so that when the food comes, I get to eat two spicy tuna rolls."

MC: "You know we're ordering family style. I think two spicy tuna rolls is more than enough for the whole table."

Me: "No. I want two spicy tuna rolls. For me. I want two dedicated spicy tuna rolls for my own personal use."

MC: "So what, you're just going to eat your own private meal in the corner while the rest of us share?"

Me: "I don't mind sharing. I just want to be able to eat a quantity of spicy tuna roll equal to two. Let's just order three of them."

MC: "Why don't we order two, and then if you're still hungry, we'll order another round."

Me: "Why are you trying to stop me from eating two spicy tuna rolls? Why are you so motivated to block me from eating this food? I don't give a shit about your caterpillar roll, or your unagi, or your salmon roe. I just want two goddamn spicy tuna rolls, that I can eat myself. Put me down for two separate rolls or so help me I will dunk your head in a boiling pot of edamame."

Well no, I didn't say the last part. But you see where I'm coming from right? "Sharing" is fine if at the end of the day, I ate the food that I wanted to eat. But if sharing means I have to cut back on my spicy tuna roll so that we can round out the order with a Philadelphia roll that no one's going to eat anyway, well fuck that. What ended up happening is that we did order three spicy tuna rolls, but then I ended up in the confusing position of having to numerically keep track of how many I was eating, because everyone else was taking from the same plate. It was like "That was my tenth piece... no no, eleventh!"

The Politically Correct Bastardization of My Beloved Zebra Puzzle

There's this incredible, fiendishly challenging puzzle known as the Zebra Puzzle or the Einstein Puzzle. (Einstein supposedly authored it, but it wasn't published until the 60's) I first encountered it about ten years ago in college. It starts out fairly simply, but requires increasingly nuanced deductive and logical abilities to solve. There are few puzzles that have been more satisfying to crack than this one. I'll just cut and paste the puzzle here, in case anyone wants to try it.

  • There are five houses in a row. Each is a different color and is inhabited by men of different nationalities - with different pets, drinks and cigarettes.
  • The Englishman lives in the red house.
  • The Spaniard owns the dog.
  • Coffee is drunk in the green house.
  • The Ukrainian drinks tea.
  • The green house is immediately to the right of the ivory house.
  • The Old Gold smoker owns snails.
  • Kools are smoked in the yellow house.
  • Milk is drunk in the middle house.
  • The Norwegian lives in the first house.
  • The man who smokes Chesterfields lives in the house next to the man with the fox.
  • Kools are smoked in the house next to the house where the horse is kept.
  • The Lucky Strike smoker drinks orange juice.
  • The Japanese smokes Parliaments.
  • The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
  • Now who drinks water? And who owns the zebra?

    The puzzle is often used as a educational tool, and this of course is where the hippies step in and make me furious. You see, kids can't be permitted to see this. No no no. People smoking cigarettes? Houses inhabited by men? People drinking coffee? A Japanese man being called A Japanese? Where are the positive messages about women in the workplace? Where's the affirmative imagery of senior citizens maintaining active lifestyles? Where are the necessary lessons about the handicapped meeting all of life's challenges? Does the puzzle at least offer a cautionary reminder about our historical treatment of Native Americans? Sadly, the zebra puzzle lacks any of these things. But all that has changed, thanks to our nation's educators. Now the zebra puzzle can teach us all something about cross-cultural understanding and recognizing the hidden potential in every human heart. Let's look at a few of the new versions, shall we?

    (Becuase in case you didn't know, a woman really can become an engineer.)

    (The orange juice drinker hang-glides? Get outta town!)

    (The "Japanese person" "grows gardenias.")

    You pussies. The "Japanese person" doesn't grow gardenias. He smokes Parliaments. He will always smoke Parliaments. You know who says so? ALBERT EINSTEIN says so. Not Andrew Dice Clay. Einstein. You don't just take Einstein's zebra puzzle and substitute flowers and career women wherever you want. The Japanese smokes Parliaments!

    (And just as a side note: Frenchman = fine, Englishman = fine, Chinaman = offensive. Someone want to explain that to me?)

    These Widescreen TVs

    I mentioned this over a year ago in one of the annoyance lists, but since then the problem has just gotten worse and worse. It's out of control now. People buy these widesreen TVs. They're really big and expensive. Unless they're watching one of those very few channels that broadcasts in widescreen (those HDTV channels) they're getting a normal, square TV, 4:3 ratio picture on their screen.

    So what the widescreen TV does is either blow up the image and crop it on the top and bottom, or it stretches the image horizontally to fit the whole screen. a newer method I've seen recently is even uglier: the middle slice of the screen shows a non-distorted picture, and the edges of the screen do a superstretch to compensate. It creates a fishbowl effect where if the camera moves around, the stuff in the middle of the TV pans at a normal speed - while the image on the edges whips around really fast. It looks like absolute butt.

    Here's the message that the opulent, luxury, forward-looking TV crowd needs to hear: If you truly claim to care about resolution and fidelity and clarity and crispness, and S video and all of that bullshit, then you do realize that the crappy distortions you put up with as your TV performs sleight of hand to take a square broadcast and fill the whole screen - you do realize that the distortions completely, utterly, entirely outweigh any benefits you get from improved picture quality?

    You do know that right?

    It's like getting the crispest, clearest television image on earth, but having to view it through a fun house mirror. The one alternative you have (with some brands) is to choose to view the broadcast in 4:3 as it was intended, with vertical black bars on the side of your TV. But as it's been pointed out to me - if you do that for an extended period of time, the black bars will burn the screen. So you're really pretty much just screwed.


    Matt Vella said...

    I have a 16:9 TV, a 480p DVD player and hi def cable.

    It's a DLP TV, so I don't have to worry about burn in from viewing 4:3.

    Watching hi def programming in 1080i is worth every penny we spent. We've had it for over a year now, but still look at each other sometimes and say, "Damn, that is a NICE picture."

    Most DVDs (Netflix pwns) are in 16:9 or anamorphic, so it really does look quite nice.

    Don't forget also that the new gaming systems support hi def and 16:9. Having played Project Gotham in hi-def on a 16:9 TV, I have to say - I like it.

    Rowsdower said...

    No distortion - no problem. True AV nerds like yourself are not the object of my scorn. I'm talking more about these guys who think wide TV = better, without even noticing that the 4:3 image is getting stretched. I sit in a casino all day surrounded by about 150 televisions all showing the same basketball game in stretchyvision. It just makes me want to throw an 8-deck baccarat shoe at the Wheel of Fortune machine.

    Matt Vella said...

    If you do end up giving in to that temptation, and I can't say I blame ya - the stretchyvision is Petarded - please forward me an AVI of the security reel.

    Anonymous said...

    On the Frenchman, Englishman, Chinaman comment, I have to say, the difference is whether it is an adjective or not. French=France, English=England, Chinese=China. So you should say Chineseman to equate it with the other two, or you would have to say something ridiculous like Franceman or Englandman.

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