You’ll be happy to know the staff here at The Jimbo List has come up with a great way to combine America’s love affair with cereal and its fixation on famous people: celebrity themed breakfast food! This wouldn’t be a mere endorsement. It would involve celebrities in the look, taste and texture of the product. Of course, it also would need a catchy name.
This is an amazing time to be a middle-aged list maker. Around every corner, there are wondrous, vexing, inexplicable things to be seen. And I don’t understand them even a little bit.
My phone rang the other day and when I answered it, I was staring into the eyes of the sweetest 2-year-old you can imagine. She proceeded to show me a series of items around her living room and tell me details of her very momentous day. And this was normal, to be able to see each other as we talked on the phone. I’m sorry, but how are we not jumping up and down and slapping our heads in wonder at the fact that our iPhones are superior to Captain Kirk’s communicator? I don’t have a clue how the thing works, either. Do you?
THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
Sure, I could rattle off some of the reasons why the dreaded “Check Engine” light comes on, things such as faulty oxygen sensors and cracked gas caps, but I’d be kidding myself. For me, the Check Engine light has a mystical, almost religious connotation. You know how some mathematicians say they experience God by calculating pi? That’s how I feel about the Check Engine light. Sometimes it goes all Old Testament on me, coming on just to show me who’s boss; other times, it’s more New Testament, going off just long enough for me to pass emissions. It’s unknowable.
Hello, people from 1943. Sit down for this, it’s a doozy. Far in the future, folks are going to walk into their local movie theater and pay – get this – $6 and $7 for about a dime’s worth of popcorn! They won’t even get any butter for it. The kid at the concession counter will pour a bit of oily, greasy glop on it. What’s that you say? Yes. Betty Grable did have nice gams.
DIGITAL DELETIONS & SONGS FROM THE CLOUD
The technology gods give and they take away. That’s what I’ve come to understand. Thanks to the Cloud, my wife and I can’t seem to get rid of the song “Beer Barrel Polka,” that we downloaded for my dad some years back. Every time we think we’ve deleted it, it finds a way to come back. On the flipside, that amazing essay full of insights into the human condition I jotted down a couple of weeks ago? Gone forever.
How is it possible I’ve been able to live this long without Golden Oreos? True, there have been other vanilla cookies filled with creme, but they didn’t have the distinctive look and mojo of an Oreo. And that’s the mystery. How can a cookie be this bewitching?
I’ll bet you have a few modern mysteries in your life, too. Go ahead. Add to The List!
Oh, but the tug of the open road is contagious. We’re draw to the uncertainty, the adventure and the promise of new experiences. Any number of artists and ordinary souls have been inspired to share this excitement. These are some of my favorite examples.
ON THE ROAD
For many, Jack Kerouac’s classic story of wondering and wandering is the last word on road trips. It’s a marvel of stream-of-consciousness writing. “On the Road” perfectly conveys the intoxicating, surreal, gritty, dangerous sexiness of hitting the open road.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a road trip and found myself warbling Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” It has such a pleasing lilt and sense of movement. Road trips may be grueling sometimes, but they usually start off happy.
Here’s an action movie comedy, featuring odd couple Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin. DeNiro is a bounty hunter bringing in a mob accountant, played by Grodin, who has skipped bail. Like many great tales of the road, it’s a journey of transformation – in this case, with guns, punches and comedic slow burns.
TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY
Toward the end of his life, the great John Steinbeck directed his magnificent reporting skills and humanity to a cross-country road trip. He and his dog, Charley, traveled the highways and byways in an RV. Through brief interactions and keen observations, he painted an insightful picture of postwar America. Some critics have questioned his journalistic accuracy, but the power of his writing is unassailable.
In a way, road trips are just an excuse to search for the best slice of banana cream pie or the best plate of cheese fries. Jane and Michael Stern dug deep into the heart and soul of America’s glorious greasy spoons and dreamy diners for this gem. On a personal note, I found the best banana cream pie, ever, while traveling a mountain road in Montana.
For more than a decade, Trail Journals (www.trailjournals.com) has provided a digital home for hundreds of thousands of photographs and pieces of writing by long distance hikers around the country. The Appalachian Trail is prominent here, but there are many other trails represented, as well. The best trail journals are utterly engrossing. They tell stories of beautiful vistas, animal encounters, physical hardship, budding friendships and deep, solitary thought – all unfolding day by day.
I loved everything about this old TV show from the 1960s. The variety of locales, the gritty narration by William Conrad, the central storyline of a guy on the lam from the law for a murder he didn’t commit. Mostly, I loved David Janssen’s low-key, understated hero. After four seasons, “The Fugitive” ended with one of the most satisfying finales in TV history.
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT
Hundreds of films since 1934 have attempted to recapture the chemistry and romance of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in “It Happened One Night.” It’s a silly story about an heiress and a newshound making their way across the country during the Great Depression, but it’s sheer bliss. Witty banter, funny supporting characters and a classic hitchhiking scene. For a different sort of road story from the Depression, there’s …
THE GRAPES OF WRATH
We return to Steinbeck for one of the great American novels. “The Grapes of Wrath” follows a family searching for work and dignity as they flee from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. Instead, they encounter greed, poverty and indignity. It’s a harrowing journey, one that strips individuals down to their core beliefs and little else. I’ll never forget reading this book for the first time and thinking about the pure poetry of a human being deciding who and what he is.
Now let’s go a bit beyond the reach of the American road.
THE AMAZING RACE
This show actually IS amazing. You want to test a marriage/friendship/relationship? Send people halfway around the world in the middle of the night and ask them to go from the airport to some out-of-the-way local landmark as fast as they can without killing each other. It exposes every hidden grudge and emotional sore spot before the first commercial break. Want to have your mind blown? Imagine your parents as contestants.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
Best. Road. Ever.
Matt Harding, also known as “Dancing Matt,” has recorded a series of videos of himself doing a crazy, happy dance in dozens of countries around the world. Millions of people have watched these videos and been charmed by the simple joy of a goofy, global dance. That’s what I call a great road trip.
So tell me, what are your favorite road trips from pop culture?
The staff here at The Jimbo List has been trying to figure out what could possibly be worse than having a “Frankenstorm” throw a big, wet blanket over Halloween. Nothing comes to mind except this – a list of the absolute Worst. Candy. Ever.
The Jimbo List has long been a big fan of the tasty goodness of pancakes, in all their various incarnations. Well, maybe not all incarnations. Here are some pancake flavors that didn’t quite make it past the testing phase.
GERBER BABYCAKES WITH STRAINED PEAS
AMERICAN CHOP SUEYCAKES
KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS WITH BOURBON SIPPIN’ SYRUP
ELECTION LOSER CAKES STUFFED WITH SOUR GRAPES
MOO GOO GAI PANCAKES
RAZORBACK STACKS SPRINKLED WITH PORK RINDS
CHICAGO DEEPDISH WITH POLISH SAUSAGE
Actually, the Kentucky Bluegrass pancakes might just work…
In the interests of neighborliness and civic harmony, we here at The Jimbo List want everyone to be prepared with a quip in all circumstances. That includes those times when you discover something extra in your fast food purchase. Feel free to use these:
HEY, THERE’S PART OF A DUDE IN MY FOOD!
WHO ORDERED THE McKNUCKLE?
APPARENTLY, THEY’RE USING REAL TOES IN THE BURRITOS
The Jimbo List has noticed that certain foods seem to have better publicity machinery behind them than others. For one thing, they’ve hit the name jackpot – getting tagged with much more appetizing names than they merit. It happens up and down the tastiness scale, from yummy to yecch. For example:
By any measure, Florentine is a beautiful, beautiful word. It has style and elegance. It flows off the tongue. It … is spinach. Come on, now! I enjoy spinach as much as the next guy, but calling it Florentine when you add it to chicken should be an actionable offense.
Sorry to get all Seinfeldian here, but sweetbreads aren’t sweet and they sure as hell aren’t bread. Unless, of course, you like to spread peanut butter and jelly between two slices of a lamb’s pancreas. Sweetbreads, those yucky innards of calves or lambs, stand as possibly the most misleading culinary name of all time.
RED DELICIOUS APPLES
I would contend that this entry in the pantheon of apples has not had to earn its own way. While all of your Galas, Empires and McIntoshes have had to scrape and scratch for every admirer, the Red Delicious sits back and lets its name do all the heavy lifting. This, from an apple that turns to mush if left unattended long enough to answer a text.
RED BLISS POTATOES
Might as well deal with this other “Red.” I happen to be a fan of the Red Bliss Potato, but is it honestly any more worthy of “bliss” than a Yukon Gold or a trustworthy Russet? I think not.
Also called Welsh Rabbit, I have a sneaking suspicion that people are so pleased it’s not made with actual rabbit that they’re willing to put up with the insanely fanciful name. I mean, we’re really only talking here about a grilled cheese sandwich that went rogue.
Sorry, the name is simply too cute. By rights, a “Hush Puppy” should be something that is covered in powdered sugar, with a prize inside. Instead, it’s a cornbread ball… a delectable, warm, cornbread ball.
Once the U.S. Supreme Court sorts out national healthcare, I really think it needs to do something about Truffles. Here we have a mouth watering word that means one of two things: a decadent chocolate treat or a misshapen bit of fungus growing in damp darkness. I know which one I want to see the waiter bring to my table, and it’s not the fungus.
Obviously, your tastes may be different. What are some food names you find vexing?
Here we are in this season of caring and kindness, yet if I’m being honest, some things are creeping me out. Not big things, thankfully. But they keep popping up, like irritating people at a wedding reception. Here are the ones currently causing me to gnash my teeth.
THE ABILIFY BATHROBE
Sweet mother of all that’s holy, please, someone, toss this ratty bathrobe onto the advertising scrapheap. I understand the symbolism. I get it – depression can be this smothering outer layer we take off with the help of medication. I also get the notion that depression may never completely go away, which is why the bathrobe hangs around, floating, in the background. But does it need to have eyes? Does it need to sit in the next chair at the doctor’s office and take notes?! In terms of basic creepitude, the Abilify Bathrobe is off-the-charts yucky.
BOBBY VALENTINE’S VOICE
I’ve become convinced that Valentine’s larynx is tucked somehow inside his nasal cavity. That’s the only explanation for a warble that sounds like Kermit the Frog on sodium pentathol, after a session in a sensory deprivation tank. Now that he’s the manager of the Boston Red Sox, we’ll all be hearing a lot more of him.
CHRIS COOPER’S RAP SONG IN ‘THE MUPPETS’
I happen to have a ton of respect for Chris Cooper, going all the way back to TV’s “Lonesome Dove,” but this just doesn’t work. The only reason the Muppet characters in this scene don’t have their eyebrows raised to the top of their foreheads is because a handler is physically preventing it.
PEOPLE WHO WEAR PAJAMAS IN PUBLIC
Have we NO shame, whatsoever? When did it become OK to swing by the Post Office, do the grocery shopping and grab a cup of coffee in our pajamas? As a society, I think we need to seriously consider the implications of saying to the world at large, “My desire for a Mountain Dew right now outweighs the common decency to pull on a pair of actual pants.”
BREAD PUDDING FRENCH TOAST AT DENNY’S
As a fan of both bread pudding and french toast, I feel I’m qualified to say (while letting out a sigh) this is just too much. It’s too much. For pity’s sake, look at that plate of food! Unless you’re an Appalachian Trail hiker, those slices of french toast are going to adhere to your midsection like a shopping mall sandwich board.
TARGET COMMERCIALS LADY
That maniacal grin, those twitchy eyes – why, it must be the holiday season! It’s a matter of personal taste, certainly, but I find these ads grating. This is a style of comic acting that works much better on “The Office” or “SNL” than it does in a commercial being shown again and again.
And now it’s your turn. What stuff is creeping you out?
Golden Corral’s recent addition of the Chocolate Wonderfall – a giant fountain of flowing chocolate, into which patrons can stick skewers of fruit and such – got The Jimbo List thinking. What other sorts of decadent food indulgences are in need of a fancy gimmick? Turns out there are more than a few: