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ill or on their knees desperately clutching a garbage can, that’s thanks to the fact that the drinks weren’t severely outdated.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

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper Creme Cake

I’m a sucker for soft drinks unveiling new flavors – any time a popular beverage adds a new twist to their time-honored taste, it equates to an instant visit to the grocery store by me.  Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper was no exception, attempting to capitalize on the old-fashioned soda fountain charm; it was met with seemingly passable enthusiasm by the common consumer, but far from a big hit.

So, to my chagrin, I was totally startled to find a dessert based upon this peculiar soda spin-off.  Upon a late-night visit for snacks at the local Wal-Mart, where they’re always happy to exploit the working class, I stumbled upon this for a measly $2.00.  I was glad to pay it, too; it’s not every day you get to eat cake, yet alone a cake made to emulate the qualities of a second-tier soft drink.

Feast your eyes upon Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper Creme Cake!  Here, in all of its sugary glory, is a gift from the gallivanting gastronomical gods.  If you didn’t know any better, upon first glance, it’d likely appear to be a generic strawberry dessert of no discernable origin.

But we, as critical consumers of culture, do know better.   Just like we knew better in Super Mario Bros. 2, when Tryclyde tried to breath fire on us.  Momma didn’t raise no fool, Tryclyde!

Be forewarned, if you leave your Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper Creme Cake lying about, someone’s sure to try and cut themselves off a piece.  It’s all good in the hood, though; I’m no hater.

So, all of these formalities and pleasantries aside, it’s time to discuss our cake and if it’s any good.  I’m here to tell you, emphatically, it’s tasty.  It was fresh, the texture very airy and moist, and extraordinarily sweet without being too sugary.  It also has a hint of something, which at first, I foolishly thought was cinnamon; but, upon further bites, was very pleased to find that it was the essence of Dr. Pepper itself my mouth was recognizing.  Generally, I’m not a big fan of icing, be it on birthday cakes or whatever, it’s just too much – but here, the icing is absolutely essential, reminiscent of the kind on homemade cinnamon rolls, and really adds to the overall quality of the dessert.

In closing, for only $2.00, you’ll get six servings of soda pop inspired cake, and you’ll undoubtedly be happy with your purchase.  It was just weird enough to warrant a buy on uniqueness alone, but after tasting it, any fears were quickly vanquished.  Also, they had 7-Up, Orange Crush, and Hawaiian Punch cakes, which all sound interesting in their own respective ways.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have the one soda pop I’d truly like to have seen given the cake treatment, and that’s Crystal Clear Pepsi, but a boy can dream.

Overall Grade: B+ 

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Me vs. Scotland - Part #3

Monday, March 14, 2005 - Got up with a slight sore throat, which isn't a good sign, but otherwise feeling good. Kieran took the day off of school to go with us on our trek. Want to the train station and got tickets to Edinburgh.

It was my first train ride so I was pretty stoked, especially because of one of my favorite films Before Sunrise starts on a train ride in Europe.

We arrived in Edinburgh, where it was raining, and walked a couple blocks to Edinburgh Castle.

Before we took in any major sights we stopped at a cafe, grabbed some sandwiches, cakes, and sodas ate in the Jacobite Room. Let's get started talking about the most historic spot in Scotland...

Edinburgh Castle - This place has so much history that I'd seriously recommend reading up on it, but below are my top ten favorite parts in no particular order.

Not to mention the amazing views of Edinburgh from atop the castle stronghold.

#1 - Mons Meg - Built around 1450, this giant medieval cannon is legendary.

#2 - Black Dinner - Off the beaten tourist path is a dingy dark cavern where the infamous "Black Dinner" took place, where two people eating with the royalty were put up suddenly on false charges and beheaded. I had read up a bit on this prior so it was cool seeing it.

#3 - One O' Clock Gun - Every day they fire a cannon at 1:00PM, which is a powerful sight to see.

#4 - St. Margaret's Chapel - Dating in the 1100s, this is the oldest building in Edinburgh. This little place has so much history and was extremely inspiring.

#5 - Scottish National War Memorial - Added after the first World War I felt particularly spellbound inside this beautiful building with spectacular medieval architecture.

#6 - Great Hall - Absolutely stunning hammerbeam roof built by James IV inside very regal building.

#7 - Crown Square - The principal courtyard where many people were beheaded.

#8 - Honours of Scotland - Most famous attraction holding the Crown Jewels, some of the oldest surviving regalia in Europe. The scepter, crown, sword, and the Stone of Destiny.

#9 - National War Museum - Not to be confused with the earlier memorial, this museum contains hundreds of articles like weaponry, uniforms, and tons of info.

#10 - The Prisons of War - The newest exhibit, showing graffiti and other items from actual prisoners held in the 18th and 19th centuries.

They recreated the sights and sounds the prisoners experienced, you can make counterfeit money, and my friends even locked me in an actual old jail cell!

After leaving we hit up shops and walked the famous Prince St. Went to a McDonalds that was a lot different from ours back home. Totally different menu (example: Cadbury Creme Egg McFlury), 3 stories high (with super views), etc. Went to Princes Mall, which I saw in a travel video, but wasn't too impressed. Saw this place titled The Edinburgh Dungeon that caught our eyes; think one-part history the other part-haunted house. With exhibits ranging from torture, vampires, murderers, etc. The tour took one hour. I got some good footage, there were a lot of live actors involved, and although somewhat cheesy very fun. Highlight coming at "Anatomy Theatre" where I was asked to come on stage and help this woman dig through a corpse's stomach; where I pulled out a sandwich, intestines, and a heart. Steve filmed the whole bit, and I really played along well and got involved with the show... awesome moment. Took the train back where exhaustion hit us hard, walked home in the cold rain in the dark, and arrived here where uncle William proceeded to yell, bitch, and scream for a solid hour. Feeling sick, my throat definitely showing signs of impending difficultly, and beat from being out since 9:00AM for 10+ hours I try to relax. Feeling homesick for the first time I resort to writing in my journal and listening to music. I hope to get online for an hour or two before bed, and make a phone call. We're supposed to take it easy tomorrow which'll be a nice change.

Tuesday, March 14, 2005 - I didn't do anything today. When I got up I was made quite clear that I was sick because I felt horrible. However, over here it's a lot easier and less expensive to get medicine, so I've got some antibiotics on the way. I spent the entire day on a floor, wrapped up like a mummy. Joseph, Steve, and Kieran were going for a guy's night out... so I ended up throwing on some clothes and joining against my better judgment. We had a couple drinks and shot some pool. Joseph told us this incredible story about a threesome he recently took part in. Steve told his favorite story about me; back in high school during our final exam my teacher left the room and I pulled out my penis and stood on my chair... I don't remember why I did it. In Steve's version I'm 13 inches long and I've heard this story retold countless times. I came back to the house, turned out the lights, and thought about all the girls who've came and gone through my life that I "loved", and fell asleep.

Wednesday, March 15, 2005 - We pretty much laid in bed again today until the afternoon. Took a walk to get Kieran a birthday card and gift because he turns 17 today. We go to Steve's cousin's house for dinner. She's only 23, and recently got married and had a child. She visited America before and I met her, although all of our buddies were trying to impress her and fight for her attention so I just ignored her on that night. She's grown into a really beautiful woman, though... and seems happy in the new family role. Her baby boy was super cute, and they say he is very shy but he really took to me... which surprised all of us. Her husband is from America, but could easily pass as British. We ordered Chinese takeout, and I had sweet and sour king prawns (shrimp) with fried rice. I tried to be polite and a good guest. She dropped us back off here around 9:00PM. Police stopped by earlier in the day and I answered the door, I guess uncle William punched some hotel worker in the face a while back. Steve and I got comfy, and he fell asleep around midnight.

We don't look like any other people here. The majority of the teenage guys here all have gel in their hair, and it spiked or teased up. I think I look especially foreign; my long wild hair, beard, and thick rimmed glasses. I'm still taking medicine; hopefully I'll be feeling better soon. We're supposed to go to Stirling Castle tomorrow, but Steve's ditching out and leaving me with his uncle Thomas, which I'm not thrilled about. Not sure what'll happen... but I miss home.

Goodbye Europe - I was feeling a little better today, and the sun was shining, so I opted to take a solo bike ride. It was very relaxing, although I got a little lost. I do tend to find myself missing home more and more.

Today, I also went to New Lanark and Falls of Clyde.

I saw the most spectacular waterfall and did some mountain climbing.

It was so beautiful. I also went to this quite little tearoom, where they had all sorts of chocolates, scones, and cakes. My last day here has been a nice one.

This will be my final entry written in Europe. I'll be in a plane above the stunning Atlantic Ocean and arriving home Monday. My experiences here will not be forgotten, and I'm very thankful for the opportunity. I saw some amazing and beautiful things, like my train rides through Scotland, and a handful of others... the majority of which I've already discussed in detail in prior posts. I've been sick the entire second portion of the trip, and didn't get to do a lot in that time, but kept my spirits high and I'll be leaving with no regrets.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Creepy Classics - The Curse of the Werewolf toy

Well, it’s Halloween time and I run a website, so I figured the least I could do was write something Halloween related.  But, this assignment quickly turned from task to something indubitably better.  I went to the local Dollar Tree, and for those unfortunate enough to not have one nearby, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of cheap goodness.  They had a relatively impressive collection of Halloween goods, ranging from bulk candy, to stretchable vampires, and so on.  But, having only a dollar in my wallet, I had to choose wisely.  My choice?  Look above, and just maybe, you’ll feel what I felt when I first laid eyes upon this miniature wolf/man hybrid behind a plastic prison.  Much like a common prostitute, he was begging to be freed and fondled, but not necessarily in that order.

The first major misconception I had was that I prematurely assumed I was taking home a figurine based upon the famous film The Wolf Man (1941).  I was mistaken.  As you’ll see on the left, that’s the most recognizable werewolf of them all, from the aforementioned horror masterpiece.  So, if not him, what werewolf did I now own?  Peer upon the mysterious austere figure to the right for the answer to that query.  From the film The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), I now owned Leon Corledo, which sounds neither scary nor appropriate to me.

At first, before doing the proper research, I must admit I wasn’t particularly awestruck by this figurine.  The attention to detail provided nice touches, but overall, it wasn’t doing much to warrant its admittedly cheap price.  Once I found out that it was in fact based upon an actual film, and that my werewolf wasn’t wearing dress clothes for the hell of it, I was definitely more satisfied.  Based upon what meager photos I could find of the film, the figurine’s ripped shirt and pointy ears are extremely close to its cinematic counterpart.

In fact, here’s a side-by-side comparison of our wolf-like pal Leon in his two unique forms.  You’ve got to admit, just the fact that now, 45 years later, this obscure horror character is being immortalized as a figurine sold exclusively in dingy dollar stores is kind of bizarre enough to be noteworthy.

Even after the ghoulish holiday is over, Leon Corledo now has a permanent home on my stove amongst the spices.  Subsequently, to make him feel more at home, I ripped the shirt I’m wearing now to shreds.

Thus ends Review the World’s foray into the wicked world of Halloween for 2006.  I made this rad image for you all as a token of my sincere and genuine appreciation of your support.  Although we weren’t deeply steeped in the holiday on the site, it’s always been one of my personal favorites; also, albeit a bit premature, I do already have some great ideas for next October.

In conclusion, if anyone’s got a copy, be it an original or homemade dub, of The Curse of the Werewolf (2013 edit: No need I finally tracked it down!) and be willing to mail it to me I’d be forever grateful.  I’d also be remiss not to recommend my all-time favorite werewolf film to anybody looking for a fun horror movie, and that’d be The Howling (1981), which is available on DVD.  I hope everyone has a swell Halloween.

Overall Grade: B+