Never has one man done so much for so cheap.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cranberry juice

I am trying to wean myself off of high fructose corn syrup. It is dang evil suff, a processed sugar which the body essentially turns instantly into fat because it doesn't know what else to do with it. The #1 vessel of HFCS in the American diet is of course soda pop, and I am a dude who can drink some pop. I was doing rather well in avoiding the stuff until they came out with that raspberry Dr. Pepper, which is just stupid good, but regardless, I am forcing myself to forgo soda and choose 100% fruit juices as the casual non-alcoholic beverage of choice.

Now, I like a juice with some dynamism, some legitimate power. Apple juice is useless. Almost no nutritional value, almost no flavor...were it a beer it would be Coors. Orange is ubiquitous to the point of verging on the mundane, apricot nectar's a bit heavy, prune is for the geriatric and the geriatric only. I had a long and successful run with grapefruit juice. 100% pure Ocean Spray White Graprefruit juice to be specific, and that's a juice that bites back right and proper. Nothing more refreshing on a scorching day than a swig of ice-cold grapefruit juice sending tart little slivers to the core like a frozen electric shock, like lightning made of ice.

Then there was that whole hurricane thing, and we ran out of white grapefruit for a while.

So what IS a boy to do?

I have climbed the mountain of truth, and on its peak grows the mystical cranberry. Actually, that's complete rubbish. Cranberries grow in acidic marshes. Still, I have tasted the crisp, clear future, and I have had to wade through a wall of overvarietized consumerism to do so.

For to buy a suitable 100% cranberry juice blend in this country is a thoroughly infuriating task.

Firstly, what most people know as cranberry juice is in fact cranberry juice COCKTAIL, which is a 27% juice blend that's mostly, you guessed it, High Fructose Corn Syrup. So forget anything with the word "Cocktail" on the bottle. On a wildly tangential note, Tom Cruise can go fuck himself. But anyway.

Second, once you have determined that you are looking at a bottle of something that is indeed 100% juice, you must wade through the various trendy Cran-Whatevers. Cran-Raspberry, which tastes like perfume. Cran-Pomegranate, which isn't bad but is sort of a distraction from the pursuit of truth. Cran-Blueberry, which is just disappointing. Et cetera, ad nauseum.

Now you've found it. The bottle says Cranberry, 100% Juice. Thing of it is, it is almost certainly not 100% Cranberry Juice. This is in fact available, however expensive, and moreover it is proof that Man can indeed burn himself if he stands too close to the infinite fire of truth. I have tried it, and it is rather like having your lungs forcibly filled with cranberry sauce in some sort of Thanksgiving ritual gone awry.

It is in the best interest of the casual consumer to find a cranberry-centric 100% Juice that exhalts the cranberry without smothering it.

And to understand smothering, you must understand the grape.

I am fond of that vine-ripened potentate, and of its viscous liquid that has graced the lips of Caesar and the veins of Jesus Christ. But there is a time and a place for the vino, and it is not in the humble Zen temple of the cranberry.

Yet, America's premiere juicierre, Ocean Spray, insists on draping their 100% Cranberry with the thick cloak of the grape, and the truth becomes lost. I do not want to think of the grape when I drink the cranberry. I do not want my mind polluted. The grape is an ass, a lugubrious houseguest overstaying his welcome. This is not a Roman bacchanal. This is serious.

This leaves us, at least in the Milwaukee market, with Langer's and Northland brand 100% Juice Cranberry Blends, and both of them know the answer: pear juice.

The pear is a solid yet perennially underrated pillar of the community among fruits, its stalwart nobility tarnished by the indignity of cafeteria fruit cup. Yet in the company of the cranberry, the two become truly alive, like the tall, square-jawed man of few words with a vivacious red-headed whirlwind on his arm, the type of couple who are a must-have on any social scene, the sort who assert control of any business arrangement or high-class soiree.

Yes, there's a bit of apple juice along for the ride but to hell with it. Northland even allow the boorish grape to stick his nose in the door like a third-rate W.C. Fields. This is inconsequential. These two brands allow the clarion chords of integrity and justice to shine through their beverages, even if you must hunt through literally dozens of timewasting varietals to find the one true beacon.

On a manufacturing perspective, I salute you.

And now, to get to the core of the annoyance. The Jewel-Osco chain of supermarket/drugstores have permanently gone under. Their location on North Avenue has been bought out by Pick 'N Save, and already compromises are surfacing in their stock. No longer can you purchase the $1.89 box of eleven Twix bars, you must buy the bag of ten for $2.79. Actually, that in and of itself has helped me swear off the Twix bars, but there remains the looming juice crisis.

Langer's Cranberry 100% Juice has vanished entirely from the shelves, and the Northland equivalent is now only available in the smaller size.

I am annoyed.

But I bought the small one anyway, and am drinking it now. It's nice.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sucked into another Internet argument.

The last couple of days have seen an exchange between myself and a high-school classmate of mine, Richard Draeger, Jr., that verges on embarrasing.

The only reason I've pushed it as far as I have is because he's entertaining the thought of running for public office, and if he's seriously calling for the impeachment of any judge who dares strike down as unconstitutional the anti-gay marriage amendment that brought every last homophobe out to the polls from every last cubbyhole and bureau drawer last November, I'm not just inclined to vote against him, I'm inclined to -run- against him.

And I, as a Christian, still believe that marriage as God ordained it is strictly between one man and one woman. I'm just sensible and civic-minded enough to realize that that has absolutely ZERO to do with what should be enforced by the government. As a Christian, it bothers me that it is the government and not the church that defines "marriage". Go ahead, take your vows in front of the altar, in front of God and all your friends and relations. You ain't legally married until you sign a little piece of paper out in the narthax.

Gays aren't after our altar. They're not after our God or our friends or our relations. They are after that little piece of paper, which I'm content to give them, since it's morally worthless. That piece of paper has all the moral heft of a land covenant, car title, or articles of incorporation for a business. It is a thing of lawyers. It is not a thing of God.

Besides, it's incredibly Christiocentric to think that we invented marriage. People have been tying the knot in a myriad million ways for thousands of years across the globe before our Savior hit the scene. It's not ours, we don't own it, and we should only dictate what it means to our own flock. Meaning, not on the political stage, and for damn sure not down the barrel of a gun.

This is not solely a Christian nation. I don't care what deity you believe in, Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu, Xenu, Cthulhu, or J. R. "Bob" Dobbs. Even if deities ain't your bag, the Constitution protects your rights to free speech, freedom of religion, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Which means, as long as you are not infringing on the rights of others, let your freak flag fly.

You do not have a right to protection from what you percieve as "moral decay". You DO have a right to protection from murder, assault, theft, vandalism, slander, libel, fraud, oppression, and genocide. Which is pretty good, really, considering the world at large. Your right to say what you want, think what you want, and for the most part, do what you want is the most unique and precious thing about this country, and I won't see it eroded in the name of my God or any other.

At any rate, it's a bit bizarre for me to be as invested in this as I am, considering that, for me, heterosexual sex is still as abstract a construct as homosexual sex and the concept of romantic love is nothing more than a pleasant but remote fantasy with precious little bearing on my day to day life. In fact, I'm keener on repealing the income tax and legalizing drugs than I am on really getting my hands dirty over the whole gay marriage issue. Still, the same libertarian principles are at play here, and when it comes right down to it, the legal definition of marriage has nothing to do with sex or love. It's about money, and it's depressing to see the lengths to which our government will go to keep the incomes of a very, very, very small minority taxed individually instead of jointly.

To change minds you must persuade, not coerce. You must entice, never dictate. Without exception, government = coercive force; meaning, if you don't obey, ultimately men with guns come and make you obey.

Coercive force being what it is, I find government wholly unsuited as an instrument for the promotion of morality. The easiest way to make someone want something is to tell them they cannot have it, and vice versa. All the laws in the world will never make human nature go away. The nice thing about America is that we can legally profit from human nature.

I'm an American. I want everything all the time. I want to see people free to do A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G they want to as long as it's not harming others. Yes, I enjoy chaos. Yes, I want to walk down my street and salute the guy painting his house chartreuse just to annoy the neighbors. That's beautiful. That's American, goddammit, and the entire consumer engine of this country is built on impulse purchases and the commodification of rebelliousness. You want it because you can get it. You want it because YOU WANT IT. Because -YOU- want it, you should get it. Because you -WANT- it, you should get it. And all at a discount price, because you are an American. And I like to see this freedom equally applied. If the choice is deny or allow, allow! If the choice is do or not do, do! If not, you are standing in the way of social efficiency, man. People could be doing something, but aren't, because of you. How the HELL could you sleep at night like that.

I am openly calling for all of you, my friends, to become enablers for the wacky lunatic extremes made possible by the freedoms supposedly guaranteed by this country. If we don't stand up for the freaks, one day they will be gone, and we'll all be eating at T.G.I. Friday's drinking pisswater beer and listening to Top 40 radio.

Radicals of whatever stripe are the first and last line of defense against mediocrity and stagnation.