Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

We all got up around 6:30am to open presents, since my aunt (who was in town for a couple days from Vegas) was coming around 7:30. After presents, we ate breakfast - a full breakfast, not just Pillsbury Orange Rolls like we traditionally do - and then we talked and stuff and my dad and my aunt messed around on Google Earth for a while.

Anyway, time for the typical present list I put up here for Christmas:

-Black sweater (early gift)
-Black casual pants
-Dark wash jeans
-Orange baseball cap with flowers & butterfly
-$50 cash
-Gold clip bookmark with black cross and cloisonné detail (I think it's cloisonné, anyway)
-Triangular highlighter
-2 packs of the Write Dudes ballpoint pens
-3-pack of Pokémon TCG booster packs, HS Triumphant set (with special Porygon holo & a game coin)
-Allscripts pedometer
-NLT Manga Bible (see the box and the cover below)

-Jones New York in the Classroom T-shirt (that's a model wearing it btw, not me)

-Style & co. blue T-shirt w/ faux white layering (i.e., it looks like you have another shirt on underneath, but you really don't)
-The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader Aslan poster

-Godiva Gems box (I got Dark Chocolate originally, but I swapped with my dad for Milk Chocolate since we all got Godiva Gems boxes from my aunt)
-Starburst Sweet Game Book
-Two packs of "wedgie free" underwear (it actually says "wedgie free" on the package. I'm not making that up)
-2-pack of Volumes 1-2 of Avatar: The Last Airbender Book I: Water
-Glass Coca-Cola cup
-Light green pajama set with pink trim and cute white sheep on it
-Various mini candy - Mini Milky Way, Mini Milky Way Midnight, Mini Twix, Mini 3 Musketeers
-Fluffy peach-colored robe
-1 Fry's Turkish Delight
(yep, Turkish Delight exists! I'm glad, because trying to make it yourself is ridiculously hard; trust me, I tried)

-1 roll of Mentos, mint (original) flavor
-Timbuk2 Villiage Violet/Barley Nylon Kindle Envelope Sleeve
(I got an Amazon Kindle for my birthday, and now I have a case! No more worrying about it breaking in my backpack)

-GelaSkins Little Red Kindle skin
(this shows it on the Kindle, mine didn't come that way obviously)

-Movie clapboard keychain
-Black headphones
-Trader Joe's 73% Belgian Dark Chocolate Non-Pareils
(It's become a yearly tradition that I get non-pareils for Christmas. I used to always get a Life Savers Story Book too, but that didn't happen this year. It's ok though because they only do the Life Savers Story Book now with the Gummy Life Savers, which aren't as good as the classic hard ones).


We had a smaller Christmas this year - since none of us had much money - so there were fewer presents, but that's ok. Somehow, I don't mind so much. Having pants - and especially jeans - that fit is great, as lately the only pair of jeans I've had is this pair I got at Torrid (a store for plus size women that is cool but SUPER expensive) that is a size too big and keeps slipping down because I don't have any belts to wear with it. I don't know why I bought the wrong size jeans; I think the day I bought them the clerks brought stuff to me in the dressing room, so I wasn't paying attention. The Kindle case was much needed; I was constantly worried when I took it to school in my backpack that the screen would break. The skin I got for it was a surprise, though I had been looking at them online; it is really cool actually. It kinda goes with my floral-design iPod case too.

The Manga Bible was really cool. While I don't need another Bible (I own 4 already - my old NIV Bible that I had to tape the cover back onto, a KJV one in leather that my friend Emily gave me, the paperback ESV Life Recovery Bible that I got from this guy who I'd helped at Loaves and Fishes and told that I was looking for a good Bible, and the ESV Study Bible I got from my parents for I think last Christmas), this one is kinda unique with the cover and the manga pages. Unlike the initial Manga Bible that came out when I was at Loaves and Fishes (this one, I think), this one has not just manga representations of Bible stories but the whole text of the Bible as well. And the manga part is done by NEXTmanga, which (according to their website) employs actual Japanese artists. It shows - the art is really well done, very manga-like, and surprisingly accurate (Jesus and his disciples are shown reclining on the floor at the Last Supper, which is what they would've done for a meal in first-century Israel, and in Eden the serpent is shown more like a lizard, with arms and legs, which is what many scholars think it looked like since it was specifically cursed by God after the Fall to slither on its belly in the dust). The translation is the NLT, which is great because I used to have an NLT Bible back in I think junior high and I really liked it. It's one of the "dynamic equivalent" translations (meaning a translation translated more so you can understand the concepts rather than translating word-for-word; "dynamic equivalent" is the geeky industry term for that which I had to learn when I worked at Loaves and Fishes), but that's ok. It also has a dictionary/concordance in the back and a list of "Great Verses to Memorize" (which is good because I was going to try to memorize more Scripture anyway).

Gah I need to stop eating these Mentos. But they're soooo good. Though if we had some Diet Coke I'd be tempted to sacrifice a few for a scientific test, Eepybird style. (Although Mythbusters already tested this scientifically).

(For those who have no clue what I'm hinting at here, stop reading and check out the video below)

I ate the whole thing of Mentos. I'm bad.

I'm still trying to plan websites. I'm blanking on names for my website collective (I figured out that's what I want as a personal site/domain hub) and for my anime/manga guides site. I tried to brainstorm, but to no avail.

We might go to a movie today, it's up in the air. Speaking of which, something else is apparently up in the air - I could end up going back to bakery department. Jose, our new manager, hinted as much to me either yesterday or the day before. It would definitely be better than bagging. Nothing's for sure on that though. Not yet, anyway.

I'm bored. I may watch my neglected videos of the Project for Awesome live show or my new Avatar: The Last Airbender DVD's. Later!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Short Thoughts Before Going to Bed - Christmas Eve Eve

This has been a crazy week. I went from not a ton of work hours to full shifts every day, and it's a big switch. Plus, it's Christmas week, so there's lots of anticipation and suspense. It doesn't help that Christmas is on the weekend, so you have to wait the whole dang week for it.

But...*deep exhale* It's Christmas Eve Eve (and will be Christmas Eve in about half an hour, as it's about 11:30pm as I write this). Only one more day of work before Christmas. Yay!

I know I need to go to bed because I have to get up early to go to work, but thanks to the WAY too many sodas I had today, I am still very awake. But I'm restless too...I couldn't even make myself sit through the four 40-minute videos making up the live show of the Project for Awesome (an annual project headed by John and Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers where they essentially "hack" YouTube by posting all these videos to increase awareness of charity organizations) or through the 2-hour-long first part of Alice (a Syfy miniseries where they imagine how Wonderland might've changed in 143 years...I've never seen it, but I've read about it - it's a weird, kinda dystopian take on the story, not unlike the previous Syfy series Tin Man, which did more or less the same thing with The Wizard of Oz), which my dad recorded because he thought I'd like it.

This morning I marked pages for further study in The Web Designer's Idea Book, which I checked out once again from the library when I went there yesterday to return a few books. Though it was published two years ago (and thus may be slightly out of date), I still think this book is awesome. It gives five different ways of categorizing websites: by type, by design style, by theme, by color, and by element, and gives examples for all of them. It's a great reference. If I end up actually getting through my web design certificate in one piece and becoming a designer, I'm going to get it as something to keep with me.

Speaking of computer books, when I went to Barnes and Noble to Christmas shop yesterday, I ended up getting a book for myself too. It's called The CSS Pocket Guide, and it looks like it's by the same people who made the similar pocket guide I got for the iPod and iTunes. I thought it was cool because quick references to CSS don't seem very common. Also, this book covers CSS3 in depth, and as I haven't had a chance to really explore CSS3, this book will be useful. I plan to try to improve my CSS skills over winter break. I checked out two books for this purpose from the library. I tried to renew them both (since I hadn't used them yet) but there's a hold on one of them so I'm going to have to either do a marathon session of the lessons in that book or put it off till later.

My refund check from school came today. It was $1,800! Woohoo! The reason it's so big (and why I already have it so soon after the most recent semester ended) is because due to some reevaluation of my financial aid eligibility I got approved for another grant, one I'd received the last two years but didn't get this last semester. These grants are applied to the whole academic year, so while it was applied to next semester (spring), it was also applied retroactively to this semester (fall). But since I already paid for fall (with my Pell Grant, which covered some of my tuition and fees, and a tuition payment plan, which I recently paid off), the money from that grant isn't needed for fall, so it gets refunded to me. (The rest of the money from the grant - minus the $1,800 they sent me - will go toward covering me for spring). Normally, I get a refund check from the school for the difference between what tuition and fees cost and how much the grant is worth, if there is any difference (generally these checks have been around $600). I may still get that check as well, depending on how my aid for spring works out. Then there's the scholarship I applied for from Sigma Tau Delta. I don't know if I got it yet, but if it ends up that my grants cover everything and I don't need the scholarship, I don't know what I'm going to do if I end up winning it.

At any rate, it looks highly likely that I will graduate college without any school debts. Very few people can say that. I might even graduate with honors - I've had almost straight A's so far at Cal State, except for two B's (in History of Foreign Policy, a class I took for no real reason other than interest, and in LTWR 465, which was a hard class anyway) and a C+ (in Human Heredity, because the class was so dang hard and my group kept failing the quizzes and tests - group quizzes are a bad idea anyway). I got almost all A's at Mira Costa too, with a few exceptions - three C's, a D (in Sociology, because I missed a bunch of assignments), a couple "no credits" (in P.E. because I didn't finish all the hours and in Legal Environment of Business because I dropped it), one F (in College Algebra), and 13 B's.

Ok given that I was totally tired tonight (and yet also too awake due to drinking too much soda thanks to our Christmas potluck at work), I will have to wrap my presents on Christmas Eve after all. Oh well.

Ok it's getting late and I'm just rambling at the moment. I should stop. Good night.

Oh and apparently my "blogoversary" came and went on the 14th. My blog is now officially 6 years old. Happy birthday, blog!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Rainy Christmas Season

Hi everyone. It's four days before Christmas and it's raining buckets here in "sunny" California. It's been raining fairly consistently for five days. It's driving me nuts. I don't like rain AT ALL. Rainy weather makes me feel sleepy and depressed. Plus, having to get carts from the parking lot in the rain is NOT FUN. They have a poncho for us to wear, but it's useless. It's somehow gotten torn on the bottom and the hood won't stay on. Plus, I have to put my hair down in a ponytail in order to get my head through the head hole of the poncho, and risk having my hairtie slip off. (It actually did the first time I wore that poncho. I had to put my hair up with a rubber band for the rest of my shift, which does work but hurts a lot when you try to take the rubber band out). To top it all off, I'm quite certain I left my umbrella - the nice one I JUST bought - on the bus this morning. I'm going to try to track it down at the bus lost and found, but that's probably not too promising.

At least I'm off tomorrow. I have to finish Christmas shopping, but as my mother said we were going to not buy as many gifts this year (since none of us has a ton of money), I don't have a lot to get. I bought the rest of the stocking stuffers today - all stuff from my work. (Grocery stores are resourceful places for things if you really look around. I remember a challenge on HGTV Design Star - I think it was the infamous "White Box" challenge - where they had to only use stuff they could get at a grocery store as decoration, minus the provided paint, furniture, and tools). Now I just need both of my dad's gifts for under the tree and one gift for my brother for under the tree (I bought the other one already). Then I need to wrap the stuff going under the tree. Nothing I bought is super huge except this one gift I bought for my mom. (I'm purposefully being vague about the gifts in case anyone in my family reads this blog). Plus we have quite a lot of wrapping paper so I don't really need to buy more, plus I still have gift tags left over from last year that I added to our storage bench full of gift stuff. Other than shop - which I can probably do all at two stores - I'm going to return a few library books and also probably go get my umbrella if Lost and Found does happen to have it. I just hope it doesn't rain too hard - my iPod weather thing is now saying it's going to THUNDERSTORM tomorrow. Dang. Scary.

Speaking of weather things, did anybody see the lunar eclipse this morning? It happened on the day of the winter solstice too, which is really unusual. Astronomers say it's very rare for that to happen. Just watched an AP video about it - the last time a total lunar eclipse happened on the winter solstice was in 1638! That was 372 years ago. Wow. I admit I did not see the eclipse. I'm not the sort who gets up pre-dawn to see eclipses and meteor showers and the like, though I do like astronomy. I would have to go to the mountains to see this stuff anyway.

Fortunately, I am no longer required to call the number for my federal jury duty instructions. I had rescheduled my service to this week, but when I called last night, I got this message: "Your jury service is over. You are no longer required to call this number." Just verified this online as well. Kinda weird, but a nice surprise for Christmas at least. I don't know why they would have on-call jury service to begin with.

I've been reading bits and pieces of magazines when I come down too early to clock in for work or from lunch. I read some of Nintendo Power (whose latest issue's cover is devoted to Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded), some of Sparkle World (a magazine meant for girls ages 3-8 that has stuff from the Disney Princesses, Rainbow Magic, Polly Pocket, etc), and some of a special edition magazine made about Prince William of England and his new bride-to-be, Kate Middleton. I admit I have sort of been following their story through the magazine headlines and such, maybe because I used to have a crush on Prince William. Also, I watched a documentary about "Wills and Kate" (as they're called) that my mother recorded.

I've found you can follow a news story simply from the headlines on magazines at the grocery store checkstand, because with the stories that make the cover of People, OK!, Life & Style, etc., nothing is truly exclusive. You will see some variation of the same headline on every one of those magazines. Like this week the news is the new Teen Moms, the supposed budding romance of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (Edward and Bella in Twilight), and the miracle pregnancy in the Kardashian family. Oh and Tom and Katie appear to have "separated." (Good for them).

Speaking of Twilight, I finished reading the second book in the series (New Moon) - which I finally was able to get from the library after months of checking - not too long ago. Despite New Moon being 563 pages long, I finished it in like 3 days (about the same time it took me to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). It was more fast-paced than book one, which helped the story along immensely. Also, it was nice to see Bella on her own for a good portion of the book. I like Bella. Edward I don't care for. As my friend Jessica said to me recently, he's intense. But Bella I can relate to - I mean, you should see how much this girl talks about literature. It's actually cool. Bella Swan is a very smart girl. She could totally go on to college and have a successful life. And yet she wants to become a vampire and stay a teenager forever with the intense, a-bit-too-perfect Edward? Is she out of her mind? I mean, granted, she loves the guy. He loves her too - after all, he goes and tries to get permission to die when he thinks she's thrown herself off a cliff. But honestly?

Fortunately, Bella is a bit more sane in New Moon, and I think this is largely due to the increasing role of her childhood friend Jacob Black. He's a cool guy who likes Bella for who she is. Bella seems actually like a normal person around him. Granted, Jacob turns into a not-so-human character later on in New Moon (I'm not going to spoil that), but for some reason I'm more ok with that than with Edward being a vampire. Maybe because I already encountered that in Harry Potter with Professor Lupin. And as Jacob says in the Eclipse trailer (which, thanks to TV spots, I think I've seen at least 50 times), Bella wouldn't have to change who she is if she went with him rather than Edward. I would like that better.

So, basically, I'm "Team Jacob," as the Twilight fandom calls it. Though I'm not completely anti-vampire - I like Alice and Carlisle Cullen quite a lot. Just not Edward. Maybe cause Alice and Carlisle are more controlled? I mean, Edward seems so...passionate I guess, like you know that at any moment he could totally bite Bella because gosh darnit her blood smells so dang good (but of course he's afraid of sentencing her soul to eternal hell). He should just take some of that synthetic blood stuff they take on True Blood, for goodness' sake, or the blood pills the vampires take in the anime Vampire Knight.

The Volturi were interesting. I'm kinda curious as to what the heck Jane's power is. In the scene with them we learn that Bella's thoughts are immune to even the power Aro (the head of the Volturi) has. (We already know she's immune to Edward's telepathy).

Oh dang, it's midnight already. I'm going to stop here and get some rest.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Katie the Little Jedi, Web site reflection

Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone WarsI read a sad story today about a little girl named Katie who was bullied at school for having a Star Wars water bottle. The bullies told her Star Wars was for boys, not girls.

Thankfully, Katie's mom blogged about this, and Katie's been getting a ton of support, even official merchandise from the people behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars and special made-for-girls Star Wars gear from Her Universe, a community for female sci-fi fans run by Ashley Eckstein, the voice actress for Ahsoka Tano (Anakin's padawan in Clone Wars). [That's Ahsoka on the left].

I'm glad this story is turning out well for Katie. But it raises the issue of bullying once again, just as the recent "gay student suicides" did. I think that there is nothing wrong with a girl being into geeky things. But then, I am a geeky girl. However, I remember being teased as a kid for being different too, so I feel for Katie. Poor thing. May the Force be with Katie (as the Twitter hashtag her supporters are using says).

I think this bullying comes from a fear of difference. Popular marketing writer and blogger Seth Godin talks about this a lot, usually using the idea of the lizard brain vs. linchpins/tribes. Even Star Wars itself suggests this; I'm thinking particularly of Yoda's line in Episode I, where he warns the young Anakin Skywalker about fear:  "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." And, not surprisingly, it is fear that ultimately leads Anakin to embrace the Dark Side - Anakin is afraid because he's been having dreams that Padmé is going to die, and Palpatine promises to help him prevent this. Palpatine's infamous order in Episode III to kill the Jedi (known to Star Wars fans as "Order 66") is also an example of hate of difference in Star Wars.

While bullying can't be 100% stopped - after all, we're all born with a nature that tempts us to sin - I'm glad that it's becoming an issue in a way, because now maybe measures will be taken to deal with it. It's like the whole childhood obesity crisis, another issue that's being dealt with years after it initially arose. The publicity that's getting is prompting people to do something about it. It's all really a matter of educating people. Even the Bible says this when talking about preaching the Gospel: "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'" (Romans 10:12-15, ESV).

People say we need tolerance. But how exactly that's defined is a fine line. It's been used in this postmodern way to suggest we need to tolerate everyone because no one should judge anybody else's way of living. I think we need acceptance more than tolerance. I could tolerate you if you annoy me, but that's different than acceptance. Acceptance means that I accept you, with all your eccentricities. Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter is an excellent example of this. Even though she knew people thought she was weird, she embraced her weirdness and was still nice to everyone. Of course, someone's lifestyle shouldn't make you hate them anyway (the whole "love the sinner, hate the sin" principle). For instance, while I don't approve of homosexuality, that's most likely not why I don't have any homosexual friends (that I know about, that is). I probably don't have homosexual friends because the ones that are really open about it annoy me. These are usually those overly effeminate men - lesbians seem to be less overt.

Ok maybe I should stop talking about this now. Here's some articles about the Katie story:

Okay, moving on.

Last time I posted about website plans. I did some thinking about it and this is what I have determined:

I had said I want a personal site/domain hub. What I realized is that I should do a site collective. Basically a site collective is a launching place for all the sites branching off from a certain domain. Most people do it with fanlistings, but regular site collectives exist as well. Most webmasters of site collectives put a little bit about themselves on these sites as well, so it could kinda serve two purposes.

After reading the personal site case study in Building Web Sites for Dummies: All-in-One Desk Reference and some online articles about types of websites, I realized that my idea of a "personal site" was slightly off. They're really for promoting businesses, like with the cellist in the case study, or for posting photos and such to share with friends and family, like the example website in the kids' book I taught myself HTML out of. So my writing site really is a personal site, since it is meant to market me as an author. So that's a relief to know.

As for the anime guides site, maybe having something like Screen It would be too much to start with. Having the episode/manga guides would be good, and then maybe start out with a basic little info area for parents, with something like The Librarian's Guide to Anime and Manga. Or maybe just a list of resources? I'm not sure since I'm not a parent myself and I don't know any otaku that are (except Elly-san and maybe my best friend Amy, though I'm not sure she's still into anime). And I still don't know what the guides site will be called; I initially was going to call it WindKnightFuu's Anime and Manga Guides (my YouTube backup account username came from this) but that sounded kinda stupid, and the proposed URL ( didn't sound right. (I was afraid people would think of WTF).

I had also been worrying about hosting, but today in church, I remembered HomeWithGod, a Christian web hosting service I once had a site with. They do domain registration there now. They also have a search engine, though I'd probably submit it to Google first. If I can think of a good domain name, it could be a possibility. I think they're even cheaper than GoDaddy. Then there's DreamHost, which a lot of people use; I don't know if it's any good though.

Not really anything else to say at this point. I should be working on homework but I'm really tired all the sudden. I did get an outline written for my final paper for Lit Theory and sent it to my teacher to see what she thinks, and I got the last two plays for Drama class read, but so far that's it. Maybe I'll do something else for a bit and have more energy later. Not sure though.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Website plans, again

I know, I know, I keep posting about my plans for websites. But I find that this blog is a good place to work out ideas.

My main enigma is my personal site, which was originally at One error I made there was that I forgot the e-mail account I had tied to that domain also disappeared, and my main YouTube account was tied to it, so now I can’t login to the account. Yet, I don’t know how you change the e-mail address your YouTube account is tied to. I can’t change it to my primary e-mail because I think one of my previously suspended accounts was tied to that e-mail. I guess I must have some kind of Google dashboard that I can change it at. But I was able to get into that account before yesterday, so maybe it was just a glitch.

Anyway, my personal site/domain hub is on the back burner right now, as I don’t know what to do with it. I imagine if I go through with my web design certificate and complete it, I’ll want to have a portfolio site of sorts. I imagine I’ll be doing that in the Portfolio Development class I have to take for the certificate. (I just realized I don’t have my work from last semester, because I lost all my old college work when I was forced to format my flash drive. Shoot! But I might have the final stuff for my e-commerce class still in my author site folder, and the MAT 135 Ning might still have my graphic design stuff, but I doubt it). But the idea I initially had for was of a personal rather than a professional nature. I just can’t figure out how to go about it. I thought about doing a site offering translation or transcription services, since I have experience in both though I’m not licensed or certified in either. Again, though, that seems more business than personal. I may have to do some research. I’ll look at the personal site case study too in the Building Web Sites for Dummies: An All-in-One Desk Reference book I got from the library a couple days ago.

So my main sites right now are my writing site and Myu Corner. My writing site’s fine, though it needs some updating, and I need to do something about the Javascript I put in so that I could avoid having to manually change the “updated on” date on every single page every time I updated the site (I have to do this because every page has the same basic layout coding; only the content is different), since it updates every time someone refreshes the page, which is not what I want. I also realized I need to make the most recent documents I put up on Scribd excerpts like the others.

Myu Corner hasn’t been updated since the end of October. Since I got busy with school and was constantly being late with the Song of the Week feature, I decided I needed a break. I also need to reevaluate the mission of the site in light of the feedback I got from the Miss Dream forum. Do I want it to continue to be a comprehensive information site, or do I want to zero in on something, like the omake segments or character info? At any rate, I’ll have to change up the navigation situation so it is less confusing. I like having the navigation on the top, but maybe I can make more of a banner with navigation integrated into it. As for displaying updates, I need to figure out how to do that. Maybe I’ll need a Content Management System, as I said before. I could do them by hand, but I tried that and it didn’t look good.

As for other sites – ones I haven’t made yet – there are a few of these. One is Sparkle Moon, a site about PGSM (the Sailor Moon live-action series) and the sister site of Myu Corner. I have the content all planned out and even have most of the character profiles written already. I just need to actually make the site. I am unsure of what sort of layout it will have at this point. I do know for sure that it will be information-centric and that I am going to try to start some sort of community around it if I can garner enough interest in it. The main draw of the site is going to be transcripts, but there will also be a “creative” section for creative things inspired by the series, such as recipes (which Elly-san has graciously offered to provide for me; I will make this open to others as well). If I can figure out how to do the sort of table-esque side navigation that Kirari-PGSM and have, that would be good. I think when I peeked at the code for Kirari-PGSM it was pretty basic.

I have had troubles making fanlistings thanks to Enthusiast, the PHP fanlisting management code that EVERYONE uses for their fanlistings nowadays. But I definitely intend to go ahead with my Pokémon Ranger series fanlisting, which I can do now that three games have been released (a game series has to have had three or more games released for you to have a “series” fanlisting, according to The Fanlistings Network’s rules). It will have basic info about the games, as well a walkthrough for each of the games. I considered resurrecting one of my old fanlistings Memory of Time, a fanlisting for the anime series Fancy Lala, but now I’m thinking I won’t.

Other than this, I’ve planned to resurrect two of my old character shrines: Liquid Mercury (which was, among other things, my first and only Geocities site), my Sailor Mercury shrine, and Ayeka’s Palace, my old shrine to Ayeka from Tenchi Muyo. I’ve started remaking Liquid Mercury using a very nice premade layout from Manga Angels. Generally, I like to have as much control over the layout as possible, doing all the coding and such. But since the site is primarily content-centric, I decided to go for using a premade layout. I got anxious about it though, to be honest. But now, I realize it’s something worth trying. If I don’t like it, I can change it once I know more about doing layouts. As for the content, I have a lot more content available to me than I did back around 2000 when I first created Liquid Mercury, now that I know about the musicals and the live-action series. But I am going all-out as far as video clips go, even including video game clips (if Maraviollantes of, the ultimate site on the Sailor Moon video games and the source of pretty much all my clips and video game book scans, will let me do so).

Ayeka’s Palace I need to decide on a direction on. Fortunately, there is only one other Ayeka shrine on the web – The Ayeka Fan Club – and they haven’t updated since 2007. I suppose I could go for a similar info/media focus like Liquid Mercury. Or I could do something different. I did consider a sort of blog-in-character approach, where I post blogs pretending to be Ayeka. I guess I should watch more of the series before I decide; I really haven’t seen as much of Tenchi as I have of Sailor Moon.

I'd also like to do a general anime and manga guides site, a sort of way of fulfilling my long-held desire to create a site encompassing my whole anime and manga interest. (Makes me think of Freud - was it Freud? - and how he said literature is a wish-fulfillment). I'm thinking this will consist of basic guides and info, as well as maybe a section for parents with something akin to Screen It!, that site that has guides to movies for parents to look at and see what their kids are really watching. Probably I'd build it with Wordpress or something to make building a community easier. I considered a wiki, but I'm too baffled by the wiki-making process to even try.

I’d also like to go forward with my two stories about magic that aren’t specifically Christian-based. I know, sounds awful, doesn’t it? Heresy! But I got inspired to write two stories – one a sort of “otaku senshi” series about a group of music-based magical girls from a long-ago kingdom in the constellation Lyra, and the other a series called “Enchanted Supermarket” that is meant to be part memoir in that the stories will mostly be based off my real experiences working at a supermarket but will feature a supermarket run by a group of people who come from a magical land (tentatively called “The Archlands”) and run the store as a cover so they can investigate the activities of this evil prince who’s trying to destroy them. The main character’s name is Alice (who, I admit, I probably named after Alice Cullen, Edward Cullen’s precognitive “sister,” since I came up with the character names for this series right after reading the first Twilight book…which reminds me, I finally was able to get my hands on a copy of New Moon, which has been checked out of every public library in the county system since the summer. I had a librarian request it for me, and lo and behold they were able to get it). She has powers over both wind and time, and her power object is this “windglass,” kinda like an hourglass, that she wears around her neck. (I guess it would kind of look like the Time Turner prop from the 3rd Harry Potter film). Kinda like the kid from Sky High (great movie btw), her parents are the strongest magical people in The Archlands, the Windsinger and the Timeweaver. Unfortunately, the evil prince has them locked up in his dungeon. I haven’t developed it much more than that because I’ve been focused on my novel and, more lately, on the music-based senshi series. I will probably base the characters on some of my coworkers, and as I said, most of the stories will be inspired by real events.

Anyway, I may make mini-sites to feature these two stories. I had envisioned “Enchanted Supermarket” as a webcomic, but again the lack of artistic skill on my part is a snag in that regard. The other story, called “Music Land Maestress,” I already have plans to make a site for. I even started doing profiles for the senshi characters, using the templates from a great site called Create Your Own Otaku Senshi, which walks you through all the steps needed to complete the templates, along with a lot of other useful things.

So I have a lot of sites planned, and doing them could take a lot of work. I would like to try to pick up where I left off with my web design certificate next spring (a lack of money prevented me from taking classes this semester, and it’s just as well), if I can take it. If I can do that, and if I take a class or two in the summer, hopefully I can have it finished within a year of getting my B.A. That would be good. I could hang onto my current job for another year, I think. I'm going to try to do some self-education over winter break as well, using the two other books I found at the library -- Hands-On Design: CSS Web Site Design and HTML Dog: The Best-Practice Guide to XHTML & CSS -- both books intended for CSS newbies like myself.

Okay, I’m kinda tired, and I’ve been writing out this post in Word intermittently for two days, so I’m going to end here. Good night!
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Monday, December 06, 2010

Secret menus

Yesterday I found this amusing article about secret menus at a number of restaurants, so I thought I'd write about it.

First up, Arby's:

•Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich - This spin on the cordon bleu is a chicken breast with a piece of ham on top of it with melted Swiss cheese.

•Wet Fries - Hot fries smothered in cheese sauce.

•French Dip – This is a classic Arby’s menu item that is off most menu’s but can still be ordered.
Ok first of all, the idea of ham with cheese does not appeal to me AT ALL. I strongly dislike ham. And that on top of chicken?! Ew.
The "wet fries" sound kinda like the "animal-style" fries at In-n-Out (more on that later) or like any other kind of cheese fries. At any rate, I like my Arby's fries just the way they are, thank you very much.
Now, I'm surprised that they don't have a French Dip on every Arby's menu seeing as they specialize in roast beef sandwiches. I mean, a French Dip is like the quintessential roast beef sandwich. I seem to recall seeing it on the menu at least one Arby's though. But I guess you can still order it anyway.
Next up is sandwich chain Blimpie:
•Cheese Trio - This sandwich is a no meat alternative to the normal Blimpie sandwiches, and combines three different types of cheese.
To be honest, I've never been to Blimpie (I'm not sure they even exist out here). I'm not sure why you'd want a sandwich with no meat, unless of course you're a vegetarian (or have some other dietary restriction - for instance those who eat kosher can not eat certain meats, either at all or combined with other menu items). But to pile on the cheese instead doesn't sound like a great alternative.
Next, Burger King:
•Mustard Whopper - This is a normal Whopper with one difference, mustard is spread onto the sandwich instead of mayo.

•Veggie Whopper - A great alternative for vegetarians who love the flavor of Burger King, the beef is substituted for with a veggie patty.

•BLT - A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich that comes in either a small or medium size.

•Ham and Cheese - A classic sandwich option that you can have served either hot or cold.

•Frings - An order of frings will split your French fry order with onion rings.

•Suicide Burger - This is a large burger including four meat patties, four slices of cheese, bacon and special sauce.

•Rodeo Burger - A burger assembled with onion rings and bbq sauce on it.

•BK Club - This sandwich is the Original chicken sandwich with bacon, tomato, and cheese.
Ok, starting with the Mustard Whopper. I wasn't aware that the Whopper didn't usually come with mustard. Pretty much every fast food burger there is comes with mustard. But hey, if you like your mustard, go for it.
I applaud Burger King for offering a veggie patty option though. I don't eat there often, but I will say that their burger patties are pretty greasy. Maybe this is because I get the Double Stack (that small burger that's combo #11 or something like that).
The BLT confuses me, but then again not many fast food chains have BLTs, so it's nice that they offer it.
Ham and cheese I have already condemned above.
Frings has got to be the weirdest portmanteau I've ever seen. So with this I guess you get half French fries, half onion rings? Like how when my dad orders double rice for his side at Mexican restaurants?
The "Suicide Burger" is probably named that for good reason. Generally, I avoid anything with more than two burger patties on it. Plus it has bacon to boot, and cheese. And sauce! Totally not good for you.
The Rodeo Burger I don't quite get. They don't already have a burger with onions and BBQ sauce?
I could've sworn I'd seen the BK Club somewhere before, like on the actual menu. Maybe I was wrong. Still, one should really not put cheese on chicken. Tomatoes and bacon are one thing, but cheese and chicken just should not go together.
Next, a fave of mine, Chick-Fil-A:
Fried Club - This is their normal club sandwich with the fried chicken substituted for the grilled chicken.
I wasn't aware they even had a grilled chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A (I usually just get their regular chicken sandwich), but then again who doesn't these days? I guess the Fried Club is a way for people who would normally order this grilled chicken sandwich to cheat a bit on their diet.
Next up, Chili's.
Chili – This food is the name sake of the company, so even though it has been off the menu for many years they will still make you a bowl of chili if you request it.
I find it terribly ironic that a place called "Chili's" does not actually serve chili.
Next, PotterCast host John Noe's favorite restaurant, Chipotle:
Chipolte will make you any combination of ingredients they have available to them. Listed below are some of the favorites.
•Nachos - Made with tortilla chips, your choice of salsa and meat, beans, and topped with a layer of cheese.

•Quesadilla - These come in two sizes, the children’s size which is made with two soft taco shells layered with your choice of fillings, or the full size which is a normal burrito tortilla folded in half with your choice of fillings. You can get a side of salsa or sour cream for no additional charge with these.

•Quesorito – A quesadilla with any of the fillings used in a burrito, rolled together and baked in the tortilla warmer. This is a crispier version of a quesadilla.
I find it strange that a Mexican restaurant would not have nachos and quesadillas on their menu, but then again they do mostly focus on burritos at Chipotle. A quesorito actually sounds like it could be good. Another article states that you can also try to get taco salads and single tacos at Chipotle, and that some locations are trying out quesadillas as a regular menu item.
Next, Dairy Queen!
•Chocolate Chip Blizzard - This blizzard sounds like your basic chocolate chip ice cream, but its not. It is made with quick to harden chocolate usually used on the dipping cones.

•Banana Split Blizzard - All your basic banana split flavors blended together into a blizzard.

•Jack and Jill Sundae - A classic sundae with marshmallow and hot fudge.

•Lavender Blue Sundae - This is a blueberry sundae with marshmallow.

•Frozen Hot Chocolate - In some places this is still on the menu seasonally, but basically it is hot chocolate blended with ice to give it a frozen crunch.

•Peanut Buster Parfait - This is a multi level sundae combining fudge, vanilla soft serve, and peanuts.

Naturally, it's all ice cream and frozen drinks. "Frozen Hot Chocolate" sounds like an oxymoron. The Chocolate Chip Blizzard sounds like it's made with Magic Shell (that stuff you can buy at the grocery store that is also "quick to harden chocolate"). Overall though, it sounds like a lot of marshmallow is going on here.

Here's a little coffee item from Dunkin' Donuts:

Turbo Hot Coffee - An extra shot of expresso in your coffee.

Woohoo. I could get that at Starbucks.

Here's a fun one from burger chain Fatburger:

Hypocrite - A veggie burger topped with bacon.

This one made both me and my parents laugh. It's a perfect name - because if you're eating a veggie burger with bacon on it, you are a hypocrite. Good for a inconsistent dieter or vegetarian.

Next we come to the granddaddy of all secret menus: In-n-Out Burger. Now this is not really so secret anymore; it's posted on their website now for goodness' sake. But people in SoCal (where most of the In-n-Out locations are located) have known about this menu for years. Here's the scoop:

•Double Meat – Two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, spread, and bun. You can always order onions either grilled or sliced.

•3 by Meat – Three beef patties, any veggies and sauce you desire with no cheese.

•3 x 3 – Three beef patties, three slices of cheese, veggies and bun.

•2 x 4 – For those who love cheese this is a great option, two meat patties with four slices of cheese.

•4 x 4 – Four beef patties, four slices of cheese, veggies, and a bun. A cure for anyone’s hunger

•Grilled Cheese – 2 Slices of cheese melted with lettuce and tomato and a bun.

•Protein Style – A low carb alternative to any burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun

•Animal Style – A beef patty smothered in mustard before its cooked, with lettuce tomato, pickle, extra spread, and grilled onions.

•Animal Style Fries – Cheese, spread, grilled onions, and pickles piled high on top of fries.

•Flying Dutchman – Two meat patties and two slices of cheese, with nothing else not even a bun.

•Fries Well Done – Fries cooked extra crispy, almost like potato chips.

•Fries Light – Fries cooked less, they will be more tender and oily.

•Neapolitan Shake – Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream blended together into one shake.

•Extra Toast – Buns that have been left on the grill longer until they are extra crispy.

•Veggie Burger / Wish Burger – This burger has no meat or cheese, but lots of grilled onions lettuce and sauce along with double tomatoes.

•Cheese Fries – Fries with a layer of cheese melted on top.

•Untoasted – Any burger with a bun that has not been toasted.

•Mustard Grilled Patty – A burger with mustard spread on it before grilling.

•Chopped Chilies – Diced jalapenos can be added to any burger.

•Large & Extra Large Shakes – Although they are not on the menu they are available upon request.

•100 x 100 Burger – Although they are not on the menu they are available upon request.

You'll notice these are pretty much all burger things, since that's what In-n-Out specializes in. The "Mustard Grilled Patty" sounds gross. The "100 x 100 burger" I can't even imagine eating. The Animal-Style Fries I have seen for myself because my best friend and I went and got them for her boyfriend once. They look kinda gross. The "Flying Dutchman" I could go for since I usually order my burgers plain anyway, though the lack of a bun would be a strange experience. I guess it would work if you wanted to use your own bread (like sourdough; I had a burger on sourdough bread at Bourdin SF a few days after my birthday and it was really good). The rest I can't really comment on.
Next is Jamba Juice. Apparently they have some not-so-healthy hidden drinks. Because Jamba Juice is very tight-lipped about its ingredients for these drinks, we only know the names.
•Pink Starburst

•Raspberry Dreamin’

•Pineapple Dreamin’


•Sourpatch Kid

•Now and Later

•Peanut Butter and Jelly

•Apple Pie

•Fruity Pebbles

•Strawberry Shortcake

•Red Gummy Bear

•White Gummy Bear

•Chocolate Gummy Bear

•Push Pop

I don't go to Jamba Juice (or any juice place) with any regularity, so I really can't say anything about this. The idea of a gummy bear drink sounds good (since I love gummy bears) but then again it might not make a very good drink.
Next, a dish that you can get at KFC and A & W restaurants:
Poutine - This is a Canadian favorite that includes French fries, fried cheese curds, and gravy layered together.
Gravy is something that ought not to go on anything but potatoes. I know, fries are potatoes, but it's not the same. As for fried cheese curds, I've never tried one, but I know what they look like, and I can't imagine combining those with gravy and French fries could taste good.
Here's something from pizza chain Little Caesar's:
Stuffed Crust Pizza - If you ask for it they will make you a pizza with the cheese stuff crust made famous by Pizza Hut.
Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Not to mention that Little Caesar's is probably less expensive than Pizza Hut overall, so you'd probably get a good deal on this.
Next, an amusing item from seafood fast food chain Long John Silver's:
Side of Crumbs - This is a (Free!) box of fried batter parts that have fallen off the fried fish or chicken. Great to put on top of salads.
Now, some people might be surprised that these "crumbs" are actually edible. But they are. I've tried fried chicken crumbs; they're not bad. Now my only concern about this is where they get the crumbs from. I would assume they don't get them from the floor or the trash, though, since that would be a sanitation hazard, something fast food chains (or any food establishments for that matter) desperately want to avoid. But hey, it's free, and if you like salad, it's probably worth your while. It beats croutons.
Next up, the great and mighty McDonald's. I was surprised by the length of this list!
•Biscuits and Gravy - This one may only be available in the South – but it’s the classic combination of gravy smothering hot biscuits.
Again, gravy belongs only with potatoes, really. But they do like their biscuits and gravy in the South.

•McKinley Mac – A big Mac with quarter pounder patties.

Essentially the same thing as the "Big Mac with Quarter Pounder Patties" below.

•Grilled Cheese - A bun grilled with American cheese inside.

No way! They have a grilled cheese sandwich? I want that!

•Big Mac with Quarter Pounder Patties - This is great if you are looking to decrease the cost and calories of the classic Big Mac Sandwich. You get the entire flavor with less meat.

Essentially the same as the "McKinley Mac" above. Now, they make a good point about less meat - generally you want to go for smaller pound amounts of burgers if you have a choice. The Big Mac has two 1.6 oz patties normally.

•All American - This is a normal sized hamburger with only pickles and ketchup.

I'm not sure what's "all-American" about pickles and ketchup.

•Big McChicken - This is a huge sandwich in which the chicken patties replace the bun.

This is interesting. I get the McChicken a lot now because I figure chicken's healthier than beef. Still, the lack of a bun bothers me.

•Fries with Big Mac Sauce - Fries smothered in the secret and special big Mac Sauce.

I don't get why people put anything sauce-like on their fries. (They do this a LOT in Belgium, where the supposedly "French" fry had its beginnings). Anyway, for those who don't know, the secret "Big Mac sauce" has been identified as a variant of Thousand Island dressing. So, yeah, picture having salad dressing on your fries.

•Chicken and Waffles - This is a McGriddle sandwich with chicken in the middle.

Just the name sounds unappetizing. A McGriddle, btw, is basically a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich served on these little pancakes that have maple flavor already in them. Not a bad idea to start off with. But adding chicken? Yeah, not too sure about that.

•Neopolitan Milk Shake - 1/3 vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams blended together into one shake.

You'll notice above that In-n-Out offers this too. I've never seen a McDonald's with strawberry ice cream though.
•McLeprichon - This shake is only available in March and is composed of the shamrock shake mixed with the chocolate shake making a mint chocolate shake.

Mmm this sounds good.

•Pie McFlurry - If you purchase a pie you can have it blended into your McFlurry.

Hm, I wonder if my dad knows this; he actually likes the pies at McDonald's. They don't have a big selection of pies at McDonald's (I think just apple and cherry) but still it's a good idea.

•McGangBang - This is a double cheeseburger with a chicken patty in between the two beef patties.

First of all, the name is really bad. Second of all, a double cheeseburger WITH chicken in there too? That just seems like too much meat. It would probably top the Big Mac in size.

•Land, Sea, and Air Burger - The Land, Sea, and Air burger, has a beef patty, chicken patty, and fillet-o-fish patty all piled high onto a bun.

This is an even worse idea than the McGangBang. Beef, chicken, AND fish. Yeah, wayyy too much going on there.

•Root Beer Float - You can pick any size of root beer and they will add the vanilla ice cream on top.

Do they even have root beer at McDonald's? I guess so.

•Coke Float - Any size of coke with ice cream. You can even get it with chocolate ice cream.

Ooh, sounds good.

•Monster Mac - A big Mac composed of 8 meat patties.

Dang, isn't a regular Big Mac enough? This is like the Big Mac times four. It does not sound good for you at all.
•2 Cheese Burger Meal Mac - Two cheese burgers, fries and a drink.
Otherwise known as combo #2 on your typical McDonald's lunch/dinner menu.
Moving Popeye's Chicken!
Naked – Any Popeyes sandwich you can order “naked”, meaning their will be no breading on the meat.
Breading is kinda a big part of what makes fried chicken fried chicken, though the average person is probably better off not eating all that breading anyway. KFC proved it could be done with their grilled chicken.
Next a place called Potbelly's, apparently a sandwich chain:
•Cheeseburger – This is a meatball sandwich with ketchup replacing the marinara and the addition of mustard, cheese, and pickles.

•Fireball – A meatball sandwich with chili on top.

•Wrecking ball – A combination of both the meatball sandwich and the wreck sandwich.
Sounds like basically variations on one sandwich (or maybe two with the Wrecking ball). Not sure what to say here.
Next up, the famous drive-in place Sonic:
•Frito Pie - This is a southern favorite with layers of chili and fritos.

•Grilled Ham and Cheese - This is your basic warm gooey ham and cheese sandwich.
Ok, the Frito thing is just SO wrong. Fritos are not even that good. As for the second one, I've already said how I dislike ham and cheese.
Next up -- the mighty Starbucks!
With the large variety of different Starbucks franchises it is important to know what’s in any hidden menu drink you order. Many should know these options however, since they are not all the same just remember the ingredients in case they do not know and they will be happy to make the drink for you.

•Biscotti Frapuccino - This is a typical frapuccino but it has a biscotti blended inside. You will have to purchase the biscotti separate when you are checking out, but you can have it in any flavor frap.

•Short Drink - This is a less expensive version of any Starbucks drink. It is smaller than a tall with a lower price.

•Red Eye - This is a shot of espresso in regular drip coffee.

•Black Eye - This drink has 2 shots of espresso in regular drip coffee.

•Green Eye - This drink includes 3 shots of espresso in regular drip coffee.

•Poor Mans Latte - We recommend you do not tell your Barista you are planning on creating this drink when you order. Order an iced Americano with no water and half ice, then use the free milk on the side to mix it up to your standards.

•Poor Mans Chai Latte - Same recommendation as above applies here. Order a Chai Tea Misto with extra foam, two tea bags, and half cinnamon and half vanilla syrup.

•French Pressed Coffee - If you want coffee served fresh from a French press you may have it with any variety in the shop.

•Chocolate Cream Frapuccino - This is a frapuccino made with chocolate syrup and chocolate frapuccino base.

•Cake Batter Frap - Order a vanilla frappucino and ask for both the vanilla bean and almond flavorings. It will taste just like cake batter.

•Crunchberry Frap - Flavored like the crunchberry cereal, this is a strawberrys and cream frappucino with hazelnut flavoring.

•Strawberry Blended Lemonade - Although this had been taken off the menu, most locations will still blend the strawberry flavoring with lemonade for you.

•London Fog - This is made with vanilla flavoring in Earl Gray Tea.

•Zebra Mocha (also called a Tuxedo or Penguin Mocha) - This is a mix of the white chocolate and regular chocolate mochas.

•Red Tux Mocha (also called Bleeding Penguin) - The same mix of white chocolate and regular chocolate mocha with raspberry flavoring.
Now, I am not a coffee fan and do not usually go to Starbucks. But that there are this many secret drinks says something about the ones you can normally order. I like the "poor man's latte" one; I've known about that for a while. I also was not aware there was a size smaller than Tall. But it makes sense.
Next, Subway:
Pizza Sub – This sub was taken of the menu in most locations when Subway began marketing itself as healthy alternative to fast food. However, upon request you can get the Pizza Sub which combines cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni.
I actually remember when this was on the menu. Of course, the whole Jared thing - and probably their painfully obvious sponsorship deal with The Biggest Loser - forced Subway, much like Jamba Juice, to market itself as healthy.
Next, Taco Bell:
Cheesy Gordita Crunch – This is a seasonal favorite for many, however it can be ordered year round.

•Green Sauce – Although this sauce is still available in most South West locations, if you request it at your local restaurant usually they will have it on hand.

•Double Grilled Quesadilla – An extra crispy quesadilla.

•Chili Cheese Burrito – A burrito filled with chili and cheese instead of the usual mixes.

•Enchirito – This is a enchilada of beef, beans, cheese, diced onions, and red sauce.
I think they actually have some of this stuff at my local Taco Bells - they definitely have the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, though only seasonally. The name "enchirito" reminds me of the "chimirito" named by Ron Stoppable of Kim Possible as a menu item at Bueno Nacho in "The Naked Mole Rap." (I think Bueno Nacho is meant to be a sort of spoof of Taco Bell anyway. Which reminds me, it would be awesome to have a ringtone of that cool guitar riff that plays whenever the establishing shot of Bueno Nacho is shown. I should hunt that music down).
Next, some place called Taco John's:
Ranch Burrito - We’re not certain what exactly is in the ranch burrito, however it appears to have either a beef or chicken option.
Ok that wasn't very helpful.
Moving on to my old workplace, Wendy's!
•Grand Slam - This burger has a total of four meat patties.

•Big Bacon Classic - This is your classic burger with bacon.

•Value Crispy Chicken Club – A reduced price Crispy Chicken sandwich with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

•Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe – This value sized burger includes lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and ketchup.

•Barnyard – A spicy chicken sandwich with ham, bacon and beef separated by cheese.
Since I used to work at Wendy's, I can definitely comment on these. They still did have the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe and the Big Bacon Classic on the menu when I worked there, however they have made changes to the menu since then. The Value chicken sandwich doesn't surprise me - one thing I do like about Wendy's is that they do have cheap burgers/sandwiches you can get (like the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe and this sandwich) that are good alternatives for the big, more expensive combo sandwiches. No one really matches Wendy's in terms of value menu stuff, except maybe McDonald's with their Dollar Menu. The Barnyard I've never heard of, though again UGH HAM AND CHEESE. Trust me, the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is just fine by itself. The Grand Slam I've also not heard of - Wendy's usually draws the line at three patties on a sandwich, as with the regular Triple Burger or with the Baconator Triple. Honestly, I don't see why you would need four patties, thank you very much.
I don't think I ever had the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe, though it's a nice choice if you just want a cheap, basic burger. The Big Bacon Classic I can definitely recommend, though the Baconator (which IS on the menu) is more or less the same thing.
Ok, last one! White Castle:
Seasoned Fries - Classic fries with additional seasoning for flavor.
Wow. I'm impressed. Seasoned fries, what a concept!
Ok, I got that analysis out of my system. Going to go to bed now.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

iStart a Fan War, school stress, and other thoughts

So I just watched the newest iCarly episode, "iStart a Fan War," and I just feel compelled to talk/write about it so I'm going to. WARNING: NERDY FAN ALERT. Oh, and since it just aired yesterday and not all fans might've seen it, SPOILER ALERT!!!

Okay, so basically the A-story is that Carly, Sam, and Freddie are going to be guests at Webicon, the con they tried to go to the previous year but were unable to because they got kidnapped by their crazy fan Nora (in "iPsycho"). This commitment spoils Carly's chances of a date with a dreamy guy named Adam (who sort of looks like the guy Carly was into in "iDate a Bad Boy"), but Adam ends up showing up at Webicon as a surprise. Anyway, after some issues at the front entrance (during which Freddie gets pulled - twice - into a literal mosh pit of fans), they get into their panel. A chance question from a fan about whether Carly and Freddie are dating, and Sam's joking response, ignites a raucous fan war in the panel that goes on for most of the episode. Adam, who's there, gets disgusted and leaves. Carly tries to reason with him but can't, so Sam goes out to talk to him and ends up bringing him back in tied up with an extension cord. Anyway, Carly gets a motivational moment to try to change the fans' minds, but one of the fans accuses her of lying and the fighting starts again (this time with Adam as the victim, as the fans think he stole Carly from Freddie). Security personnel quietly escort Carly, Sam, and Freddie out of the room.

The main B-story is about Gibby, who's now a regular on the show, and his brother Guppy, who are getting a ride to Webicon with his grandfather. They're very late, but Gibby can't get his grandfather to understand this. Gibby's grandpa ends up having an argument with a drive-thru attendant at Inside-Out Burger (obviously a spoof of In-n-Out Burger, a burger joint they have all over California and also in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah) about why they don't have soup on the menu. In the end, Gibby has to lie and say they have soup at Webicon to get his grandfather to get him to drive Gibby and Guppy there.

The other sort-of-B story involves Spencer, Carly's brother. He's totally addicted to a MMORPG called "World of Warlords" (obviously a "World of Warcraft" spoof; resident geek Freddie's also into it, naturally) and attends Webicon with Carly and friends to go to a World of Warlords costume contest. (Or " 'stume" as he calls it). He comes dressed as Aruthor, the most powerful warlord of this one people group in the game, and is told he might win the costume contest with his outfit. But, someone says, he might get beaten by the guy dressed as Aspartamé, Aruthor's archnemesis. (I saw the name spelled "Aspartamay" in an article, but "Aspartamé" makes more sense for a fantasy MMORPG; I'll wait till the creator posts on this episode to confirm the spelling; same for "Aruthor"). The Aspartamé cosplayer, played by guest star Jack Black, comes out and they begin to duke it out (after a lot of trash talking), to the amazement of all the "World of Warlords" fans gathered there. Some people are even playing medieval music in the background! Anyway, once Carly and co. show up after being escorted out of their panel, she tries to stop the fight but can't until a quick-thinking Freddie tells Carly to yank off Aspartamé's medallion, which contains his lifeforce. After a parting song, Aspartamé "dies" and Carly, Sam, Freddie and Spencer leave. The "World of Warlord" fans look at the "dead" Aspartamé and then all depart, leaving him on the floor.

I admit I laughed a lot during this episode. I can't speak for MMORPG fans - I've only tried a couple (Free Realms and now this fantasy MMORPG called Fiesta that I found out about from a Facebook ad) - but the "World of Warlords" fans here still made me laugh; I guess because I know how nerds are. I also caught a lot of references to fantasy game tropes that are in non-online fantasy games too. Also when one of the fans said "Aruthor's getting pwned" I got what that meant. I also could relate to the fan war over Creddie vs. Seddie because I know some things about shipping thanks to other fandoms. Shipping even with made-up characters can get out of hand, let alone "real" people like the iCarly trio.

Other things I caught:

  • Comic-Con signs? In a shot early in the episode of the exhibit hall at Webicon, there are signs hanging from the ceiling that look just like the signs used to indicate rows in the exhibit hall at the San Diego Comic-Con, a con I've attended four times. How did those get there?
  • Yet Another Socko Relative: We still have never seen Spencer's best friend Socko, but here we see yet another of his relatives, this time a welder who appears during the scene where the webshow is being shot to demonstrate how to properly blowtorch a pickle. How many relatives does this guy have anyway?
  • Great Wit from Carly: In the scene where Spencer is making his Aruthor costume, Carly has some great witty lines. First she says "I'm drinking diet soda" when the guys are talking about World of Warlords and why Aruthor and Aspartamé can't meet. Then when Sam spits out the soda and complains that it's diet, she says, "I told you it was diet. Now will you please get a sponge." Awesome.
  • References to other episodes: This is what reminds us this is not an episodic series. There are a couple references to "iPsycho," the last time the group tried to go to Webicon, and a reference to "iSam's Mom" when Sam mentions the therapy incident with her and her mom in that episode. There are a few Fat Cake references too, which refer to a cake kinda like a Hostess Sno-Ball that's appeared in other iCarly episodes (like "iMust Have Locker 239"), including the appearance of a Fat Cake Shake, which Sam says is "like drinking heaven through a straw." (It doesn't sound good to me at all).
  • DanWarp Sign: A sign saying "DanWarp" (the online name for iCarly creator Dan Schneider) is shown prominently in several shots of the World of Warlords booth.
  • Jack Black as Théoden? Jack Black's Aspartamé getup, the beard particularly, somewhat resembles King Théoden from Lord of the Rings. (I just thought of this).
  • The PearPad Appears Again: The iCarly world's version of the iPad, which first appeared in "iGot a Hot Room," appears again during the iCarly panel, held by a fan. One thing that amuses me is how much bigger the PearPad is than its real-life counterpart.
  • Guppy Repeating Things: Gibby's little brother Guppy has a tendency to repeat what people say, to the frustration of his older brother. Also at the very end of the episode, Guppy says "Happy Birthday," a reference to "iPsycho" where the iCarly trio sent a urgent message to Gibby to get him to let them out of Nora's house, disguised as a birthday message.
  • Blow-dryer on Carly's Desk: When Carly's room was remodeled in "iGot a Hot Room," this button was added to her desk that is sort of like a blow-dryer. We see it again here.
  • Carly's Table Has Water: Apparently Carly's sea-theme coffee table has real water in it, as Freddie asks if he can drive a remote-control boat on it.
  • Aspartamé's Rivets: Spencer says Aspartamé is supposed to have 12 rivets on his breastplate, but this Aspartamé has 13. The 12 rivets are supposed to represent the Elf Lords. 12 is considered a number of completion in some traditions, so that number would make sense. 13, of course, is an unlucky number.
  • Aspartamé an Elf?: It's suggested that Aspartamé's people are elves, but Aspartamé doesn't look like an elf at all. He also doesn't use a bow and arrow, which elven warriors in RPGs usually use.
  • Vegetarian Elves: When Aspartamé says he had a corn dog (to explain his mustard stain), Spencer mentions that Aspartamé's people are vegetarians. This might be a reference to the elves in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, who don't eat meat. Or not.
Oh dang it's really late. I better stop here.
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