Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting the Lead Out

How anticlimactic that a Pakistani-made candy bar calling itself Nuclear Sludge (a member of the exclusive Toxic Waste brand of gourmet confections) has been recalled by Indianapolis candy company, Candy Dynamics, because it contains dangerous amounts of the most mundane of all toxins: lead.

Is that all you got, Pakistan?  Lead?  C'mon, you're a nuclear state.  Where's my depleted uranium?  Where's my plutonium?  Hell, I'd settle for trace amounts of iodine-131.  Screw anemia; I'm talking leukemia!

Anyway, someone already cornered the market on lead, so deliver the radioactive goodness or knock off the phony advertising.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where's the Beef?

At least the Fritos are real.
In the warm, mellow afterglow of the State of the Union Address, it's only natural that we should set our differences aside and let our heretofore scattered consciousnesses collectively bend toward thoughts of what truly defines American exceptionalism.  I am of course referring to the dollar taco.

In the spirit of the moment, the deep thinkers at Taco Bell and Frito Lay have put their heads together to bring us a unique merging of faux Mexican flavorings:

The new 99-cent beefy crunch burrito, the crunch of flaming hot Fritos chips, seasoned beef and nacho cheese sauce...

Wait, wait, wait.  It's no mystery how much actual cheese can be found in 'nacho cheese sauce,' but let's back up to that 'beef' part for a second.

Because just what constitutes beef these days?  That's the question on everyone's mind as we learn of one law firm's effort to sue Taco Bell over the nomenclature of its signature seasoned beef filling.  The USDA defines beef as containing at least 70% cowflesh, with fat making up the balance.  Nutritionists at Taco Bell have a slightly different take on what the proportions should be.  Like, how does 35% beef sound?  Oh yes, it seems there's more filler in that filling than meets the eye. 

It does occur to us that anyone who makes a run to Taco Bell for a Frito-filled snack food doesn't give a good goddam what's in the taco, aside from the Fritos of course.  Still, such revelations do beg the question: what the fuck is in the beef?  We decided to send a sample to the lab.  Here were our findings:

Ground beef - 32%
Ground beak - 23%
Textured soy protein - 13%
Slurry - 10%
Sawdust - 6%
Dung - 5%
Crud - 3%
Unidentified scrapings - 2%
Cookie Crisp - 2%
Coffee grounds - 2%
Embryonic stem cells - 1%
Synthesized aluminum polyhydriglyceride - 1%
Proprietary blend of herbs and spices (sodium, artificial taco flavoring, paprika)

Thus is a Mexican delicacy made fully American:

1) Replace food with filler

2) Stuff with chips

3) Sell dirt cheap


This post is dedicated to the memory of fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne, who died Monday at the ripe age of 96.  Jack would tell us to put down that 99-cent beefy crunch burrito and do a jumping jack or two.


Monday, January 24, 2011

More Highlights from the McBone Mailbag

That's it, Kid Shay.  Let it all out.
Though it is highly irregular for us to publish more than one letter within a two year span, this one so tickled our fancy we thought it deserved an audience more far flung than the population of our mailroom:

Dear McBone,

This morning I threw up.  It was the first time in many years - I can't actually remember the last time I vomited.  It took me by complete surprise.  I'm not sick, didn't eat anything bad (that I know of).  I just threw up.

It was after breakfast.  I normally take two pills each morning: Glucosamine and Vitamin C.  Glucosamine went down fine, as usual.  When I tried to take the C pill, though, something strange happened.  I wasn't able to swallow it.  I tried once, twice, three times.  I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to swallow all of a sudden.  I spit the pill out, then felt my stomach heave.  I made it to the sink in time to lose most of my breakfast.

I threw up thrice.  The first time was a bit chunky; I had cereal and tea, so it looked like that.  The second time it was more liquid, and the third time was a dry heave.

Isis said I hit a gag reflex by accident.  That sounds true.  I wasn't feeling off, and hadn't eaten differently this morning.  Now I'm at work and feeling (mostly) fine.

What a way to start the week.  My only consolation is that you'll get such a joy from reading this.

Kid Shay

Dear Kid,

You sure you didn't catch a glimpse of some Comic Sans this morning?  What kind of cereal, by the way?  Not Cookie Crisp, I hope!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Case Against Karma

Is karma bunk?  Or does the universe of sports follow its own unfathomable code?  Because for the life of me I can't figure out why this guy deserves another trip to the Super Bowl.

"Spell Roethlisberger?  Um ok, wait!...uhh...R-O...umm..."

Honestly, whatever did Cleveland do to offend thee, oh angry, angry Sports Gods?  How drunk must we get to set things right?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Chan Marshall?

As I have a tendency to get caught up in reading and writing about the more relevant news events of the day, it is perhaps no great surprise that we must sometimes neglect the thousands of correspondences that daily flood the mailroom here at McBone Manor. The sheer volume can be overwhelming and, I'll be honest, not all the letters are worth the time.  Still, we appreciate the trouble it takes to put pen to paper and so we like to give each mailing equal treatment before filing it away for posterity in our state-of-the-art, climate-controlled storage facility.  Luckily, our crack team of unpaid interns is there to separate the chaff from the grain.  Here's one we agreed was worthy of a post all to itself.

Dear McBone,

Before Stabbone and McGraw, I was a flabby weakling who couldn't keep his finger out of the mayonnaise jar.  When I discovered your amazing miracle diet, I knew I was hooked for life.  I've been a loyal reader ever since, but every time I see your tagline, I have to wonder: who is Chan Marshall?

Yours in eternal gratitude,

McBoner 4 Life

Dear 4 Life,

Good to see that you, like so many others, have noticed the tag that, regardless of relevance, decorates the bottom of most every post on this blog.  Perhaps you have also seen the 500-foot woman who looms Godzilla-like over the city of Cleveland on our internationally known, Kid-Shay-designed banner (for sale here).  That's our gal, and to answer your question, Chan (pronounced 'Shawn') Marshall is an American musician who has been recording for Matador Records since the early nineties under the name Cat Power.

I first learned about Cat Power through her album You Are Free, which my sister had given to my sometimes-popular wife as a birthday present back in aught-three.  We liked the music and gave it a few spins, but ultimately it found a home in the more obscure reaches of our record collection.  Well, I never gave the disc another thought until I stumbled upon this video a few years later:

Suddenly obsessed, I dug the album out and listened, over and over and over again.  I read about her too, about how she struggled constantly with extreme stage fright and alcohol abuse until she decided to take control and vault herself into the stratospheric heights of total awesomeness.  I could go on about how goddam cool I think she is, about how she's a great singer who plays guitar and piano and writes killer songs to boot, but I think Chan can express much more eloquently just why she has been appointed the involuntary spokeswoman/resident Rock Goddess of McBone:

If the music is not convincing enough, you may also have noticed that she is pretty cute.

Just sayin'.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nate Eats a Bowl of Cookie Crisp!

Growing up, our mother did her best to assure we ate a healthy, well-balanced diet.  That crusade started each day at breakfast.  Cold cereal was the popular choice, and our cupboard was usually stocked with a wealth of nutritious options.  Wheaties, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Grape Nuts, Chex and Cheerios were staples.  There may have been the odd box of Frosted Mini-Wheats or Life to satisfy the sweet tooth, but we were far more likely to find a stash of Special K, Product 19 or, to our chagrin, Cracklin' Oat Bran.

Hey, I get it.  Our old lady was trying to get the vitamins in and keep the sugar out.  We didn't mind.  Hell, we loved our cereal.  So much that we typically ate a bowl or two for breakfast and another right before bed.  We loved it, yes, but that doesn't mean we were entirely satisfied with our selection, not when Saturday morning commercials, those seductive little mini-cartoons, told us there were other kinds of cereals out there.  In those ingenious adverts, lovable characters acted out their cereal dramas, all the while telling us how deliciously sweet breakfast could be.  Nutritious too, an integral part of 'this complete breakfast,' as a matter of fact.

And if these colorful concoctions seemed too good to be true, that's because they were.  Indeed no amount of begging could secure us a box of Cocoa Puffs.  Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo Berry and Fruity Yummy Mummy were treats other kids got.  The embargo on sugary cereals meant no Trix, no Cap'n Crunch, no Lucky Charms.  Even when the manufacturers, so clever, dropped the word 'Sugar' from Sugar Frosted Flakes, our mother wasn't fooled.  If the number one ingredient was sugar, the box stayed in the store.

Well, that was the stuff of decades ago, and you know what, Mom?  You don't boss me anymore.  I can smoke, drink and eat myself into an early grave if I want to, or at least into a diabetic coma.  So this morning, giddy with the knowledge that, at age 35, I was free to select any goddam cereal I wanted, I prowled the aisle of the local Kroger.  My goal: pick the cereal Mom would be least likely to buy and blog the fuck out of it.  Many of the old tried and trues were there: Golden Crisp, Honeycomb, Corn Pops.  There were some new ones too: Reese's Puffs, Smorz, Cinnabon.  These last three seemed especially promising.  Figuring I was on the right track with the dessert-for-breakfast theme, I picked out one I had long coveted but have no recollection of ever tasting.

Cookie Crisp.

Perfect!  What could be more contrary to the idea of starting the day off right than eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast?  Although disappointed that the Cookie Crook and Officer Crumb had been replaced by some sort of ravenous wolf named Chip (he's a lefty), I grabbed a box and a quart of lactose-free milk and burned rubber back home.

As ever, I like to begin these little eating adventures by reading about what I'm about to ingest.  General Mills advertises its 'naturally & artificially flavored sweetened cereal' as being 'Whole Grain & Calcium Guaranteed' not once but twice on the front panel.  'Nutrition Highlights' include zero trans fats, 100 mg of calcium and 40 iu of vitamin D.  Already convinced I was about to do my body a world of good, I turned to the ingredients:

Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Corn Meal, Brown Sugar, Chocolate Flavored Chips (sugar, wheat starch, cocoa processed with alkili, corn starch, yellow corn flour, soybean oil, corn syrup solids, salt, dextrose, baking soda, soy lecithin, distilled monoglycerides, chocolate liquor, natural and artificial flavors, tricalcium phosphate [anticaking agent]), Salt, Rice Bran and/or Canola Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Cocoa Processed with Alkili, Corn Syrup, Color Added, Trisodium Phosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor.  BHT Added to Preserve Freshness. 

For the hell of it, why not compare that formidable list to what you'd find in a batch of regular old Toll House chocolate chip cookies?:

Flour, sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract

Final score: Cookie Crisp 32, Toll House 8

Enough!  Breakfast time, so let's eat.  I admit to being mildly surprised by what I shook out of the package.  Perhaps I was expecting a pile of Chips Ahoy! to tumble into my bowl, but this Cookie Crisp looked shockingly like...cereal.  These tiny discs dotted with ersatz chips were cookies in name only.  I'll tell you that the smell, a heavy waft of corn sweeteners, in no way recalled anything I've ever smelled baking in an oven.  

Feeling gypped (and an ominous sense of doom), I poured the milk and dove into my first bowl of Cookie Crisp.

I don't know about the whole grain and calcium stuff, but they sure got 'sweetened' right, especially the 'artificially' part.  As far as resembling a batch of Toll House, or even a box of Famous Amos, forget it.  You're as likely to find Apple Jacks growing in an orchard as you are to mistake this cereal for something Grandma whipped up.  No amount of added flavor could bridge the infinite gap between corn cereal and chocolate chip cookie.  The only thing at all chocolately to be found is a faint cocoa taste that takes me back to the days when I would spoon out the Nestle Quik in an effort to transform ordinary Rice Krispies into its more appealing Cocoa version.  Truly, this is an awful, awful food.  So bad that I managed a mere two bowls before calling it a day.

Yet, as sickening as was the taste, I was in no way prepared to what Cookie Crisp would do to my body.  I am confident that eating a couple of real chocolate chip cookies would be a better option than a daily bowl of Cookie Crisp.  I'm no paragon of health and fitness, but neither am I accustomed to a barrage of cheap sweeteners.  I noticed the effects only moments into the 40 minute walk we embarked on following breakfast.  Alex, fueled by eggs, toast and orange juice, took to the trail with zeal.  I, meanwhile, feeling mildly fatigued, nearly succumbed as the sugar bomb detonated.  Extreme lethargy in my limbs was at odds with the frantic racing of my heart.  Certain I would never make it home, paranoia set in.  Also hallucinations.  Wolves surrounded me on all sides.  Hungry wolves lusting for fake cookies.  Sniffing the cache in my digestive tract, they howled.  I ran.  Darkness took me.

Well, I woke up, guts intact, on the stoop of our back door.  I'm not sure how I got there and god knows where I got this tattoo, but I guess I'll count myself lucky to be alive.  I can't say I'd recommend Cookie Crisp to anyone, let alone a growing child, so I reckon I'll go ahead and add it to the McBone List of Boycotted Substances and say thanks, Mom, for doing right by us kids.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Giving a Rat's Butt

Interesting stuff from the Plain Dealer this morning and from the mouth of Ohio's new chief executive:

"I don't pay attention to my critics."

That's governor John Kasich discussing why he doesn't see anything problematic about his cabinet appointments.  Out of 20 appointees thus far, 20 are white.  Sixteen of them are white males.  When asked to answer early criticisms from black and hispanic leaders in Ohio about the striking one dimensionality of his team, Kasich gave the above answer.

Sounds an awful lot like a certain president we recently endured.  Plow ahead and who cares what the world has to say about it?

John Kasich won the election fair and square.  He has the right to appoint whomever he likes, of course, and of course we should expect him to choose those best suited for the work.  And let's face it...the well of prominent minority Republicans in the Buckeye State may be running a bit low these days.  That said, Ohio is a diverse place.  John Kasich may not think in terms of race when populating his cabinet, but his selections send a message, loud and clear, that minority groups are not on his radar.  Your bed, John.

Anyway, this really is more about the attitude the guy is copping about 30 seconds into his tenure.  There is something to be said about resolve and fortitude and the like, but you will have critics, John.  They're called constituents, and you should pay attention to them.  White, black or what have you, Ohio does not want to be ignored.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Gun Stuff

"'I wish there had been one more gun there that day, in the hands of a responsible person, and that’s all I have to say,' Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, said, brushing away a question about gun control."

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dear Arizona

Because this man

was able to buy this weapon

this girl is dead.

Would stricter gun laws have saved Christina Green from Jared Loughner?  Maybe.  Is that maybe worth making it tougher for a psychopath to obtain a semiautomatic weapon capable of spraying 30 bullets into a crowd in a matter of seconds?  Ask Christina's parents.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Peace, Peace, Peace

Can you hear that?  The gears of the NRA are turning, mobilizing for the inevitable and rabid defense of gun rights that is certain to follow the bloodbath that today claimed the life of six Arizonans and critically wounded congresswoman Gabby Giffords.  As we speak, Charlton Heston's cold, dead hands punch through the turf covering his grave.  He staggers toward Tucson.  Moses wouldn't miss this one.

And on and on it goes.

I'm so tired of this.  I'm tired of guns and bullets and bombs and violence and blood and war and death and misery and hate and vitriol and 'the Founding Fathers said this' and 'the Constitution says that' and 'you're a communist!' and 'oh, yeah?  Well you're a facist!'  I'm tired of anchors and hosts and bloggers (yes, bloggers) and talking heads and columnists and bumper sticker commentaries.  I'm tired of Tea Parties and Blue Dogs and debts and deficits and gold standards and death panels and all of the ingredients being poured into the increasingly toxic, bubbling swill that we are force fed every day from the media, our friends, our neighbors, our families, all of us, everyone, everywhere.

It's time to calm down.

I don't want to hear 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'  That was a line from a movie.  That's all. Take a quick look around the world and I think you'll agree: mad isn't working for us.  Mad makes crazy people do crazy things, like shoot up 18 civilians outside of the Safeway.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Formerly of the NBA, Your 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers

Happier times: a preseason photo-op
I'm not sure what happened to the feisty group of overachievers who beat the Celtics on opening night and ran out to a surprising 7-8 record, but ever since being shellacked in LeBron's return to Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland fans have been rooting for a shell of a basketball team.  Something happened on that night.  The team's collective spirit was broken, shattered into a billion microfragments that only a total rebuilding can repair.  I mean, the Cavaliers aren't just losing, they are losing in epic fashion, on the road, at home, to good teams, to bad teams.  How bad has it gotten?  Try a season sweep at the hands of the Timberwolves.  Defense has become a myth and ball movement an afterthought to a group that prefers to brick 19-foot jumpers instead of making an extra pass.  Heading into an inevitable blowout loss at Golden State tonight, their record stands at a frightful 8-27.

Surprisingly though, I'm pretty OK with this and I'm looking forward to seeing the team rebuild over the next few seasons.  In the meantime, we are going to have to live with a squad that will be lucky to win 15 games.

Let's run through the lineup real quicklike.


PG: Mo Williams - His team needs him to put up 20-6 to have a chance of winning on any given night.  I thought he was up to it.  LOL!  Instead, his dagger jumpshot has deserted him entirely and he has devolved into a turnover prone role player who hasn't made a three pointer since November.  His contract has two more seasons after this one.  At this point, if GM Chris Grant can unload him, that would be quite a coup.  Am I being too hard on Mo?  Probably.  His arrival two years ago coincided with the Cavs becoming a 60 win team.  Clearly, though, he is a player who needs to be surrounded by talent.  He will not succeed when opposing teams are able to sag on him.

G: Daniel Gibson - Likable guy.  Winning smile.  Good for an occasional 25 point outburst.  Otherwise, we are watching BJ Armstrong trying to lead a team to the promised land.  Can't pass, can't defend, can't create his own shot, can't make a layup.  Also injury prone.  Current status: injured.

SF: Anthony Parker - It's been hilarious listening to Cleveland announcers try to put a positive spin on this season.  For a few weeks, Jim Chones was going on about how the loss of LeBron James meant that 'the new Anthony Parker' was somehow going to cut loose and start pouring in the points.  The great Euroleaguer is old, slow and, ultimately, ready for the glue factory.  The ineptitude of teammates has required him vacate his normal position and replace LeBron at small forward.

PF: Antawn Jamison - A classy pro who can still put it in the bucket, but cranky knees mean he couldn't guard Joe Tait.

C: Anderson Varejao - Earns the purple heart, but the lone player of real quality has been forced out of position after the departure of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal.  The only capable defender on the team doesn't have enough juice on the offensive end to deliver any wins.  Major trade asset.  My sentimental side doesn't want to see him go.  Recent cracked cheekbone followed up by timely ankle sprain.


PG: Ramon Sessions - Probably the quickest player on the team.  Can get to the basket, sure, but he won't hit a jumper if you're pointing a gun at his mother.  Not much of a defender, either.  It's easy to see why bad teams have been quick to give up on this journeyman.

PF: J.J. Hickson - Plenty of talent.  Has the basketball IQ of a medicine ball.  Seems little inclined to learn.  Top move: fumbling the ball out of bounds.

PF: Leon Powe - Slow and slower.  Knees like porcelain dolls.  Currently slated for surgery.  Again.

F: Jamario Moon - Utterly wilted when asked to replace LeBron.  Seldom plays.  Total goofball.  Perfect fit for the Globetrotters.

F: Joey Graham - Journeyman forward who could supposedly defend.  Not so, it turns out.  Second Graham twin to have a cup of coffee with the Cavs.  Second player unable to start at small forward.

F: Jawad Williams - Third player to fail at small forward.  Waived for the second time in as many years. 

C: Ryan Hollins - The smallest big man I have ever had the misfortune of watching.  I honestly would feel more confident with Earl Boykins on the block.  Worst rebounder in NBA history.  Tiny, delicate hands a microcosm of his tiny, delicate game.

PF: Samardo Samuels - Don't bother remembering his name.

SG: Christian Eyenga - Freakish athleticism.  A blown ACL waiting to happen.

PG: Manny Harris - Manny Harris?

F: Alonzo Gee - Alonzo Gee?

Joe Tait - When it rains, it pours.  In his final year as the Cavs' radio voice, Tait's preseason pneumonia has led to double bypass surgery and a pacemaker.

Yes, folks, that there is a team built to lose.  And lose they will.  Let's hope the Cavs can bury the ghosts of draft picks past and trick some free agents into believing that South Beach is on Lake Erie.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

This Didn't Suck

A full recap of our trip to Venezuela is in the works.  In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of me sipping rum while reclining on a comfortable lounge chair at our hotel in Puerto la Cruz.

Oh, and fear not.  What may look like a meager quantity of liquid gold was but the first of many rums I drank by the sea on this day.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

McBone Is Back

At McBone, the rum is never gone.  Here is a picture of me enjoying the latest addition to the McBone family of rum (currently boasting 9 bottles from various locations in the Caribbean), an absolutely outrageous Santa Teresa 1796:

'Ron Antiguo de Solera'  Translation: 'Kick-ass fucking rum!'

God DAMN, that's good.
Aged in French oak for 15 years, it is impossible to imagine a smoother, spicier, more harmonious beverage than this producto de Venezuela, quite possibly the new crown jewel in our glass menagerie.

And yet, this tale was almost one of tragedy.  After an 11-day sejour in the Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela, I flew home solo, leaving my sometimes popular wife in Caracas to spend a few more days with the familia.  Upon opening my baggage, I discovered that the bottle of 1796 we procured had not survived the journey home.  In the suitcase, resting among the shards, was an unapologetic note from US customs.  My bag had been rifled through, re-packed all willy-nilly, and sent on its merry way.  I beheld the shattered remains of the Santa Teresa and I wept.  I wept as I washed the rum out of our clothing.  And then I wept myself gently, gently to bed. 

Happily, my wonderful, beautiful, sometimes popular wife surprised me with another bottle of the 1796, one who enjoyed a much safer flight back to the States.  Tonight, Santa Teresa joins 8 companions on our bar.

The Fellowship of the Rum

Every time we drink, we shall remember their fallen sister.

Happy new year, everyone.