Thursday, August 24, 2006


If you're anything like me (and I hope for your sake that you're not), you spent a large portion of your formative years playing Nintendo. Not Super Nintendo or your Wii. No. Nintendo, with ROB your Robotic buddy and Duck Hunt and Gyromite and Oktoroks. That Nintendo.

We didn't have eighteen buttons and a magic wand. We had two miserable buttons, one of which didn't always do anything.

To tell you what a hep cat I was in high school, I would get together with my friends, go to Blockbuster video, and rent a Nintendo game that we would play slavishly for hours, with only a twelve pack of hyper-sugary soda to sustain us.

And what was the game that ate so much of our time? Black Bass. That's right. A fishing game. Black Bass was great because everyone could sit around and root on the person holding the tiny, uncomfortable, non-ergonomic Nintendo controller as they tried to land a video fish, fighting with both the A and B buttons...OK, just the B bring that baby in. You'd hold that B button for all you were worth, until the pleasing reeling sound changed to the hated, grating your line is going to break! sound (the two sounds were, in fact challengingly similar.) Then, you'd have to hold off on the reeling for a while and wait, while that beautiful pile of pixels sat there in the video water, mocking you.

And then, if you were lucky, you had that pile of pixels in the net, and the moment of truth would arrive--TOO BAD! IT'S SMALL! Words that the video fisherman (and most other kinds of video men, obviously) spend their lives hoping not to hear.

Perhaps the best part about Black Bass was that you would play for hours and hours and, well, hours, and finally get to the highest level of the game. At this level, the fish were huge. Half the size of our 19" portable screen. And from what we could tell--and I want to emphasize here that my friends and I played this game probably more than anyone else on the planet...possibly more than the developers--there was no way to land them.

You'd get them so, so close to your video net, and those bastards would jump, and they'd fight, and OH! THE FISH GETS AWAY! I tell you, it brings tears to my eyes.

And now, I pass this gift on to you.

Black Bass on

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Lion Content

I just saw a headline on CNN that said Mountain Lion Bursts Into Man's Home. Besides the obvious "well, we probably have been bursting into that mountain lion's home for years now," I kind of hope the guy was sitting around watching teevee in his underwear and the lion came crashing through the window.

"Hotcha!" it would say. "Get me! I'm a mountain lion! Raar!"

Cheetos would be spilled.

Also, I heard NPR babbling away today about lions. I don't remember in exactly what context, but I know they mentioned lions. Lions are on the rise. They're bursting into people's homes! There could be one under your desk right now! A small one!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Poo Brew Review

I found out a few weeks ago that a coffee shop near my work sometimes stocks the rare and expensive Kopi Luwak. Kopi Luwak, in case you've never heard of it, is sometimes known as Civet Coffee. What makes this coffee different?

It's pooped out by a small mammal. Here's a picture of the pooper now:

Luwaks eat coffee berries at Indonesian coffee plantations, selectively choosing only the ripest berries. The coffee berries pass through the luwak, where they are partially digested. The luwak then excretes the berries, as small mammals are wont to do, wherever he feels like. Then, some fortunate soul harvests the nuggets of luwak feces. Through some esoteric process, the beans are (hopefully) cleaned, and ready to be roasted and brewed.

I convinced a few coworkers that it was essential that we try this coffee, so we cruised down to the cafe and shared a fifteen dollar cup between four of us.

The ordering process was less grandiose than I had anticipated. I was hoping there'd be a luwak hanging out on the counter and, when he heard you place your order he'd sigh, grab a newspaper, and trudge off to the toilet. Instead, the owner made a nice drip cup for us.

The coffee is very good. Maybe not fifteen dollars a cup good, but good. The (erk!) digestion process removes much of the acidity of the beans, so it's very smooth. I am in recent years a wimpy milk-in-the-coffee type of guy, but I drank this black with no ill effects on my stomach. It was rich and aromatic and, I have to say, not terribly reminiscent of jungle animal poo.

I did have a moment's doubt. I mean, there was no certificate of authenticity presented to us before we took a sip. I mean, anything could have digested the beans. A cat, a dog? The owner's infant child? But what can you do? Something ate and partially digested that stuff, and I say more power to it.

As one of my coworkers pointed out, it seems OK to eat the excreta of a cute and unfamiliar Indonesian animal. "Dog shit coffee," on the other hand, doesn't sound nearly so appealing.


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