Author Archive

dear chemistry guys: thanks. love, jimmy

October 11th, 2006

Acesulfame K

It’s about time modern chemistry contributed something valuable to our lives. Look, I love soda. I’m aware of how plainly awful the content of refined sugar is for us, but as hard as I’ve tried, I could never drink a diet soda. The horrid aftertaste that was symptomatic of any of the artificial sweeteners was just too much to take. Well, a while back I tried a sip of my fiancé’s Coke Zero. There was still that familiar bite, however it was noticeably less severe. Though not overwhelmed by the drink, I was encouraged by the thought that whatever the Coca Cola company was doing was definitely a step in the right direction. Then I noticed there was a Sprite Zero. I tried it and thought that was a little more like it, as the citrus flavor seemed to lend itself to masking most of the rudeness that had been inherent of the artificial sweeteners. Ok, so now there are two zero-calorie drinks that I not only can stomach, but after drinking them for an extended period, I could actually enjoy because of the fading frame of reference that was their non-diet counterparts. Naturally, I wondered what was going on. The primary sweetener in these drinks, as well as the rest of the diet sodas that I wouldn’t drink to stay alive in the desert was still aspartame, so what gives? Well, a quick glance at the ingredients indicated the presence of an extra component that was included in the recipe of only those soft drinks that I found palatable: Acesulfame Potassium. Ovulation Tests. Armed with this new knowledge, I began looking for anything new and improved with this miraculous agent on the supermarket shelves. I am happy to report that I have discovered a number of other once-cherished brand names that currently offer a pleasantly drinkable counterpart inclusive of Acesulfame K. Among those that I’ve tried are Pepsi One, Diet Mountain Dew and Fanta Zero Orange. Next up on the list are Diet Fresca and Vault Zero. The “thanks but no thanks” award in this category goes to Sierra Mist Free, as not even the inclusion of a drop of dewy-sweet sweat shaken from the hips of Shakira herself would encourage me to ever again imbibe this viciously rank brew…. Not to mention my complete spiritual aversion to their cosmically unfunny ad campaign.

Oh, and contrary to some very near-sighted reports of differing “fact”, I’m down three belt buckle holes since May. True story.

when dinner IS the movie (not intended as a book review)

May 18th, 2006

mcdonalds empire

Long before Morgan Spurlock gave us the film “Super Size Me“, an entertaining but often-times whiny, obnoxious and more than a little self-righteous look at the media-driven eating habits of Americans, author and investigative journalist, Eric Schlosser, released the non-fiction best seller, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. While Spurlock’s work is a relative Cliffs Note on the battle of the American People vs. Nutritional Common Sense and the Corporate influence to keep the fight unfair, Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation is an immaculately researched, fact-heavy juggernaut that throws enough punches to stun even the most jaded reader. However, it is tempered with such eloquence that it often reads with the ease of a Garrison Keillor-approved essay on the dusty, long and winding road through the history of all things Americana. It fascinates by offering a historical perspective on the growth of the fast food industry moving in lock-step with the emergence of new technologies and consequently the new habits of the industrialized American. It moves with melancholy tales of migrant workers pulling grueling shifts in the slaughterhouses and suffering dehumanizing injustices at the hands of their superiors with no hope for recourse and no legal ground on which to mount a defense. And it infuriates by revealing the industry’s perspective of the consumer– a rather accurate portrayal that we are naught but cattle whose every move can be predicted and affected thanks to number-crunching technology that is nothing short of military-grade, and trade publications that delve so deeply into the minutiae of the psychology behind our habits, as well as the habits of small children and infants, that they can only be described through Orwellian reference.You are correct if you’ve arrived at the idea that I am a big fan of this book. I am not a militant vegan or even a passive “make-up-my-own-rules” vegetarian (chicken and fish are meat, asshole). And though the occasion is rare, I do, in fact, treat myself to fast food from time to time, with none of the Evil Empire corporations exempt. However, for whatever reason*, I purchased this book shortly after its release in 2001-2002, and I cannot recall a time before or since that I so savagely devoured a work of non-fiction from cover to cover. It’s that good, and at the risk of punching myself in the face for saying it, I would even go so far as to call it a triumph…but…

Sadly, and with frigid irony, this book– championed many times over as a shining example of investigative journalism at its most deft– is getting the McTreatment as a feature length film to be released later this year. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What’s so bad about that? Nobody reads anymore and this will make it easier for message to get across,.. you know, like a Michael Moore joint”. I would agree were it a big screen interpretation of this fine work. However, rather than an interpretation, it is to be released as an adaptation. More specifically, a “fictionalized thriller”, written for the screen and directed by Richard Linklater, and featuring the likes of Ethan Hawke, Kris Kristofferson, Avril (fucking) Lavigne, Luis Guzman (you’d know him the minute you saw him) and Greg Kinnear.

Oh well. In any event, it looks to make the film adaptation of I, Robot look like nothing short of an artistic conquest.

Anyway, if you’re bored, check this link to what’s new regarding the ultra stoop-o-phonic, futuristic, George Jetson kind of number crunching sheeb these corporations are digging on these days.

*Perhaps it was my love for all things conspiracy theory (conspiracy fact for those of us in the know. ~wink~)


February 15th, 2006


U2 gets on my nerves, and it’s no secret that aside from a song or two — tops — Elvis Costello makes me want to maim. Coldly. Chillingly. Without logic. Without calculation. Without mercy. So why would I like this song? Aside from an ill-conceived bridge section, it’s so hopelessly derivative of those I mentioned, as well as many others that come to mind that I’m lukewarm at best over (Feelies, Long Winters, etc). I’d say it was like the chocolate-and-peanut-butter-together trip, but I like those components both as much if not more so alone. That’s certainly not the case with regard to the aforementioned ingredients.

Anyway, now my sweet tooth is acting up. And with the spoils of valentines day lying about, I’m off to get a treat. So while I inch my way closer to adult onset diabetes and all of its blissful complications that will, god willing, waltz me towards renal failure and eventually throw me from this mortal coil, take a minute to listen to this song and try to figure out why it has infected me so.

Not that I think I need to, but I’ll take this time to remind you that “Because you’re a pussy” isn’t really what I’m looking for.

our milky way is warped and vibrating like a drum

January 31st, 2006


No, dude. Seriously.