Sunday, December 31, 2006

Jones Soda 2006 Holiday Pack Tasting Party

Back towards the beginning of October we gallantly went where few others dared to tread, and reviewed last year’s Jones Soda 2005 Holiday Pack.  The results were simultaneously disastrous and tremendous.  Bad in that, we suffered through drinking expired broccoli casserole-flavored soda, but good due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback the video received.  So, when I found out that the Jones Soda Co. were unleashing an all-new collection of disturbing drinks for this year, I instantly knew that our paths would cross yet again.

Our brave test testers: Amanda and Brian, and Jessie and Eddie

This time around there’s nobody getting physically ill or on their knees desperately clutching a garbage can, that’s thanks to the fact that the drinks weren’t severely outdated.  Still, we had a lot of funning sampling the sodas and making the video, and hope you’ll enjoy it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Jones Soda 2005 Holiday Pack Tasting Party

Jones Soda Co. is widely known for their sardonic refusal to fit into stereotypical soft drink norms, and for being an unabashedly bizarre company.  They deliver flavors of soda that continue to boggle the mind, and delight many dejected college students during long nights of studying botany notes.  Today, we honor them, and I use that term loosely, as consumption of these beverages caused many fits of nausea, by giving them exposure via our first-ever video review!

The (expired) soda flavors sampled: Broccoli Casserole, Smoked Salmon Pate, Turkey & Gravy, Corn On the Cob, and Pecan Pie

My friend Steve picked these up at a lonely gas station last year, since then, they’ve done nothing except gather dust in his basement.  We figured, with the holidays right around the corner, it’d be an excellent time to give these unique drinks a thorough testing and analysis.  Without further adieu, watch as Review the World’s patented four-man test testing team battle year-old Thanksgiving inspired soda!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm All Alone In My Worry

She doesn't know I'm waiting for her on this chilly October afternoon.  She gets out of school at 3:15PM, and I, cold and confused, await her.  Last week, seemingly out of the blue, I'd told her I had developed immense feelings for her.  I spit it all out, in one long, mumbling but genuine gush of affection.  It didn't go too well.

I'd been friends with Sally Cartwright since 3rd grade; thus, me spilling my heart to her so many years down the road proved to be a delicate and difficult situation.  I watched a dead leave get pushed across the pavement of Hensley Ave. by the frigid wind.  I looked up at a classroom window, saw a boy, he was staring at me.  I meekly waved; he blinked, and then disappeared.

The sounds of school buses grinding to a stop, the smell of fuel, the murmur of excitement were all around.  I looked down at my feet, my red Converse shoes I'd had since two summers ago, the very same ones I wore on my first vacation, a trip to Colorado last spring with my father.  He and my mother divorced when I was 9, I lived with her and my younger brother Anthony in an older two-story house right outside of downtown.  Anthony had a pet frog named Frogzilla, wore glasses, and liked to have me take him to the magic store on 4th & Boba St.

The bell sounded and students started pouring out of Eisenhower Jr. High.  I saw Sally turning a corner with two of her friends, they stopped briefly, said their goodbyes, and then Sally continued by herself.

Brandon: "Sally!  Hey!"

I caught her attention, but her smile seemed somehow forced, as if it wasn't necessarily a pleasant surprise.

Sally: "Hey, Brandon.  What's up?" 
Brandon: "I thought I could walk you home, and, you know, talk."

She didn't respond.

Brandon: "Is that okay?" 
Sally: "Sure."

I could tell this wasn't going to be as smooth as I planned.  We started walking down the leaf-covered sidewalks of our hometown, past the noise and commotion of the school, into the quieter neighborhoods.  I saw old man Mr. Matthews raking leaves on his front lawn.  Before his wife died, they'd always pass out the best Halloween candy in town, big candy bars and handfuls of suckers, taffy, and other sweets.

Brandon: "So, how was class?" 
Sally: "It was alright, I guess.  I've got this history assignment due for Mr. Bomholt tomorrow.  I need to study for my French test, too." 
Brandon: "Foreign languages are cool."

What?  Why did I have to say something so stupid?

Brandon: "And, so is other stuff, like I guess cars, or hockey, and movies are pretty cool.  Well, some of them, at least.  Remember the first movie we saw together?" 
Sally: "How could I forget?  Toy Story 2 with our moms, and Anthony, of course, who ate too many Goobers and nearly got sick." 
Brandon: "Man, Buzz Lightyear can really soar, huh?"

Oh, my, god.  Did I take a stupid pill this morning?

Brandon: "I'm planning on taking Anthony to the arcade Saturday afternoon.  Play some games; maybe grab a hot dog or two, and a few root beers.  Want to come?" 
Sally: "I don't know.  I'll be pretty busy this weekend." 
Brandon: "You used to love going to the arcade.  You're the only girl that's ever beat me at Tekken 3, although, I don't admit it publicly.  I'd even pay for a round of laser tag!" 
Sally: "How generous."

We arrived at Sally's house.  I could see her mother inside, diligently washing dishes.  Sally's mom liked me, or I liked to think so, I made her laugh.

Sally: "I'll call you.  If I decide to go, or, whatever." 
Brandon: "Sounds good." 
Sally: "Thanks for walking me home, Brandon." 
Brandon: "Hey, my pleasure.  Any time, really."

I waved goodbye, watched her enter her house, and then started off across Prairie Dr. towards the city.  I was going to go home, sit by myself in my room, all alone in my worry; but opted instead, to head downtown for an hour or two.  I went into Opal's Diner; it was nice and warm inside, a nice change from the chilly autumn air.  I took off my jacket and scarf, hung them up, and then took a booth in the corner with a window so I'd have a view.  I ordered pancakes with blueberries, bacon, hash browns, and coffee.  As I ate, chewing extremely slowly to get the most out of each and every bite, I stared out at the bustling streets and watched vehicles and faces go by.  The warmth of the restaurant, and of the food, filled me with not just heat, but life.  What was love, really?  I pondered this, and came to the conclusion that I really don't even know myself.  But, I do know there's a few people in my life I care deeply about, and that's important to me.  I sat and reflected on childhood, a particular memory of Sally, little Anthony, and I, rolling down a hill together.  I took a bite of a pancake and a big blueberry, grinned, and almost laughed a little to myself when the thought occurred to me how content I was sitting there in my booth watching the world go on busily.  How utterly hopeless and silly it all was!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Ha Ha Pizza (Yellow Springs, OH)

Ha Ha Pizza is the definition of a small-town eatery.  But, before I delve into my review of their restaurant, food, and legacy, I need to discuss the town it resides in, Yellow Springs, Ohio.  I’d heard rumors and stories, all of them, dare I say, were true.  This is the quintessential hippie town.

The small downtown, which runs all of two blocks, is populated by small thrifty shops, including a little bookstore, a couple stores specializing in occult items, and a few designated as your one-stop shop for all of your drug-related paraphernalia.  Hell, even the bank likely sells bongs!  The overall mood, tone, and atmosphere could only be described as overwhelmingly mellow.

But, Yellow Springs is famous for another reason, too.  Comedian extraordinaire Dave Chappelle calls it home.  Instead of nestling into Los Angeles, or any other bustling city for that matter, he choose to retreat to this quiet little collegiate down populated by intellectuals, artists, and lots of stoners.

Ha Ha Pizza and Dave have a relationship, too.  I’d heard that someone in his family owns the restaurant, and my girlfriend Amanda actually ran into him there back in 2002.  Most recently, this famed pizzeria was featured prominently in a scene of the major motion picture Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.

And, if you thought the whole thing about this being a hippie town was a improper assumption, just take a glimpse at Ha Ha’s menu, featuring a chef chilling with a massive blunt.

I was in Yellow Springs to also explore their historic nature scene, including the famed Clifton Gorge.  My mother Beverly, niece Jade, and girlfriend Amanda accompanied me.  After a nice hike through the woods, we made our way to Ha Ha Pizza for lunch.  The interior was nice and cozy; kind of contemporary, including some neat artwork like the samurai shown above adorning the walls.  I paid the restroom a quick visit, where I happened to put a little propaganda graffiti on the wall, plugging my website.  Surely by now, a few weeks later, after the “Review the World” I wrote, someone has written “blows!” or “sucks ass!” or something equally clever after it.

Beverly and Amanda both got a salad for starters, and for a little extra, you could pay to get unlimited trips to the salad bar.  Truth be told, the salad was one of the most surprisingly satisfying parts of the dining experience.  Their salad bar was loaded with fresh and unique ingredients, not the generic buffet fare you’ll usually come across.  The salad pictured, covered in a deliciously tasty and light dressing, was near perfection.  Our waiter, whom I might add was a swell guy, did look like a beatnik version of comedian Carrot Top.

Amanda and Jade were all smiles, awaiting their pizza.  Jade was playing her coveted Nintendo DS, of course; kids these days, right?  On the right is yours truly, a few weeks before I cut my shaggy hair that I already desperately miss, and enjoying some iced tea and quality conversation.

Now it’s time to discuss the main course, the pizza itself, which wasn’t groundbreaking but not bad, either.  Key to their unique style is their crust, including their acclaimed whole-wheat crust.  The textures of the pizza, and diversity of their menu, were both much better than that of your everyday pizza place like Pizza Hut or Domino’s.  Speaking of Domino’s, and its times like this that I love having a site, as there’s a story I’d like to share with you all.  When I was a kid, a bunch of local ruffians and I were in my parent’s basement playing with an Ouija board, which for the unknowing, is a device that supposedly allows you to communicate with the dead.  Well, this girl took over, acting as though she was having a conversation with a dead teenager, leading all of us others to be suspicious to say the least.  When the girl asked the dead teen to spell out on the board where they worked prior to their death, she misspelled Domino’s leading to a fit of laughter in all of us, as her poor spelling totally debunked the legitimacy of her séance.

Back to reviewing Ha Ha Pizza, though – Amanda got green olives and banana peppers, Jade just cheese, and I choose ham and pineapple.  My mom, wanting mushrooms and artichokes, had a slip of tongue, and accidentally ordered mushrooms and anchovies.  I traded her for a slice, having never previously tasted anchovies, and was wowed by their strong salty flavor.  As far as my pie went, it wasn’t bad, but not necessarily unique or tasty enough to herald as great pizza.  Overall, the food isn’t really Ha Ha Pizza’s main draw, in my eyes, it’s their unique charm that gives them character.  If anyone lives in the Dayton, Cincinnati, or Columbus areas, a trip to Ha Ha Pizza wouldn’t be too painful of a trek via the freeway, and a worthwhile experience for those looking to try something different.  If you’re wanting to have some extra fun, ask to speak to one of their staff out by the dumpster after their shift, to score some of their “special” mushrooms.

Overall Grade: B+ 

Friday, December 1, 2006

Review the World TV - The Lost Episode

During the original incarnation of Review the World TV back in 2006 we wound up with a handful of reviews and other material left on the cutting room floor. That winter I edited it together as a special "lost" episode. Now, for the first time on YouTube, it's available to be seen by all (in glorious 280p!). Yes, the video quality is low, but the level of fun had is undeniably high. Enjoy!


- Checkpoint Rally arcade game
- Rip It Energy Fuel - Power flavor
- Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets
- TMNT Giggle Splashers candy
- Hawaiian Punch Grape Geyser
- Crayola Candy Palette
- Goya Raspberry Soda
- Flea Market Fun w/ Tim
- Pringles Salsa Verde flavor
- Popcorn arcade game