San-J Traditional Japanese Soup Dark Miso

Dark MisoProduct Name:San-J Dark Miso Soup Cup
Prep-Time: 1 minute!
Requires: Hot water or microwave, something to stir with
Price: $1.49
Purchased at: World Market, Friendship Heights

Review in Brief: Mostly broth, it still manages to be a cheap cup-o-soup that doesn't suck.

Full Review: I love miso soup, because it comes free with sushi dinners, it has a subtle, distinctive taste, and if you don't eat it fast enough it settles and you have to stir it.

My wife and I popped into World Market in Friendship Heights while waiting for our table at The Cheesecake Factory. I saw the store from the mezzanine and was hoping for a kind of Trader Joes meets ethnic food section at Shoppers, but it was mostly a Pier One knockoff. Fortunately, just past the $15 wine section there was about 7 aisles of "international" fare, mostly candies and snacks (such as delicious Ginger Chews), but also some curries, spices, and oxymoronically upper-shelf instant meals like the miso.

They had two San-J offerings; a San-J Mild Miso featuring the profile of a Japanese woman in a kimono drinking from a bowl, or a San-J Dark Miso, with a Japanese dude doing the same. I spent a couple of minutes arranging the soups so that the man and woman were facing each other (happy meal times) or back to back (angry, post-argument miso consumption) before grabbing two of each.I decided to try the "man's" miso first, because I have a long history of allowing Japanese food to validate my masculinity.

Opening the cup revealed two individual packets, one of dehydrated tofu and seaweed, the other of miso paste--no worrying about puncturing the cup's thin paper top and having powdery crap all in my bag. The fact that the miso is in paste form was encouraging, perhaps unjustifiably.

The miso paste is relatively easy to squeeze out of its packet, but make sure you mix the soup well before drinking.

The cup itself is not insulated, so handle carefully after you put the hot water in (I used the hot water tap on the office coffee machine).

I was surprised on how much the tofu cubes and seaweed revitalized in the hot water. The dehydrated tofu was not as good as fresh tofu, but the seaweed was crisp and flavorful.

I hadn't had "dark" miso before, and it took a couple sips to get used to the stronger flavor, but I like it. Because I am a man. After spooning broth into my mouth a couple times I gave up and drank it as illustrated on the cup (I still needed the spoon for stirring).

All in all, it was actually almost as good as the miso I've had in restaurants, although whether that is a commendation of San-J or a condemnation of the restaurants I frequent is left up to further study. The tofu lacked texture and flavor, but the broth and seaweed both pleasantly exceeded my expectations, especially for the price, just slightly more than a regular cup ramen. I will definitely be buying more of this.


Re-live the frustration of childhood.

I've been spending way too much time building a new website around an idea I found on SomethingAwful.com.

Fellow goon GreyWanderer proposed a new Let’s Play where goons would play classic games for the first time, with no previous knowledge of the controls, storyline, etc. Comedy and frustration would ensue and be captured in all it’s audio-visual glory, in a kind of gamer-nerd-rage MST3K.

It can be pretty funny to watch, but it is extremely fun to do.

Check it out here. DEAD


Reliably less than excellent

Apparently, I have received an honorable mention for a story I wrote for the LA View. This is the second time I have received notice for being appreciably less than totally awesome by The Michigan Press Association.

Come to think of  it, I place between 4th and second in any endeavor I compete in, from spelling bees to mathlypics.

Jeremiah Britt: Thoroughly Adequate.

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Life on Mars, Stagnation in the States

British television makes American TV look like reruns of school board meetings on cable-access television. I'm not just talking about ideas so innovative we steal them (and ultimately beat them to death, see: reality television), or writing so good we ridiculously refilm it, practically verbatim, but in the local accent (The Office).

Their programming manages to make wildly successful ideas, run with them, and, most importantly, know when to end them. Unlike stateside television, which panders to the lowest common denominator and insists on milking a cash cow dry, British television knows when a story should end.

I just finished Life on Mars, a fantastically written police drama with a fascinating twist the succeeds where others would become a mere contrivance. The entire premise is explained in the opening credits: "My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever happened, it's like I landed on a different planet. Now maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get back home." The show follows Sam as he does his best to deal with the culture shock of having modern police tactics and morals in a station where roughing up a suspect and bigotry is the norm. The show is fantastic, the writing tight and the acting superb. A lot of the humor and drama are caused by the conflicts between Sam and his DCIGene Hunt, a man with pure goals and questionable means.

Hunt is, of course, my favorite character, always spouting surreal one liners:

"She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot."

"He has his fingers in more pies than a leper in a cookery school."

"You great soft sissy girly nancy French bender Man United-supporting puff!"

The show is great, and while it does risk the regular sitcom rut of "main character has theories contrary to those around him, must struggle to prove himself, is ultimately right", (see:House, staring Brit Hugh Laurie) it manages to combat this by the uncertainty and visions of a hero who may be mad or merely trapped in a fever dream. Rent it as soon as you can.

Ironically, I just found out the series is being remade in the United States, making me feel ashamed and a little depressed. There is good writing out there you bastards, you just have to give it a chance. Networks now either want to see immediate returns on new ideas (nearly impossible in such a varied landscape with 100's of channels), or they wimp out and either endless rework the tried and true (reality TV again) or steal a show they know has already worked in another market (The Office, Let's Make a Deal, etc.).

The worst part is that when a US producer does finally make a fresh new show that takes off, like Lost, everyone becomes so enamored with its success they can't stand to see it end. The series ends up stretching on and on, questions that should have been answered the first season are still up in the air, ridiculous plot holes develop and the big American pitfall looms: if are constantly building climaxes, stringing cliffhanger after cliffhanger, after a while the only direction left to go is down.

Also, Anne Cartwright (Liz White) of Life on Mars is fantastic. Earnest, kind and unassuming in a way that few actresses can pull off without a nod and a wink to the camera, she's also so darn cute you almost don't notice how gorgeous she is. Liz White and Maggie Gyllenhaal are currently foxy boxing in my mind for the title of "Sexiest Woman in Showbiz" and, I, uh. I'm sorry, that mental image is just too damn awesome for me to continue.


Possible T-Shirt Design

The website I'm looking at deals with vector images and high-quality printing, meaning the pictures will look crisp and delicious and also the purchaser can customize all colors, sizes, placements etc.

Give me some feedback one what this needs to be more awesome. Also, Construx rule.

Time Bank

Autumn found this in her email, apparently a short story I started writing and never finished or edited. It was written Oct. 29, 2000, and the only reason I'm posting it is because Autumn said she would let me have one of her Thin Mints if I did.


Midget Alien humilates Jeremiah in the ring!

In a surprise upset in last night's featherweight division qualifying rounds, Midget Alien (8", 2
lbs) knocked Jeremiah Britt (5'11", 140 lbs) flat in a record-setting 5 seconds, destroying the previous record of 10.5 seconds set in 1946 by Aurele "Al" Couture.
The sound of the bell still rang in the air as Jeremiah hit the mat, after one light glancing blow from Midget, who claimed he was merely feinting when Jeremiah stepped into it.
"Pathetic," he added.

The crowd, not knowing what to make of these developments, fell into a shocked silence before erupting into a 15 hour riot, killing seven.

Truly, this will be known as "The Tap Heard Round the World".

Jeremiah remains in critical condition, and while he cannot be reached for comment, his girlish sobbing is easily audible to the crowd of press gathered outside George Washington University Hospital.

Midget Alien is set to fight Rock-I-Found-in-the-Garden next Tuesday at the Verizon Center in a match sure to last at least a minute.


The last thing I ate was carrot cake

Normally, about this time, I am feigning sleep: bus seat reclined, earbuds in, cap pulled low. I do this so I don't have to interact with this group of familiar strangers. So they don't comment on the weather, don't ask me to put my seat up, don't ask "Is that one of those iPods?"
Shit. I din't realize how much the bus moved. Hard to write. Of course, it's always hard for me to write, physically at least. I still write like the consummate teacher's pet, hand curled over, covering, smearing my words. Fingers tight and cramping after only a few sentences. I don't hold the pen, I throttle it.
Write, damn you.
If this is ever found, if the finder can read my scrawl, s/he will see just another mundane journal, true life colored by the small narcissistic lies that tint our perceptions of grandeur and paranoia. OR maybe they'll see another mediocre manuscript, rambling and pointless, lies shaped by truths poorly hidden by the writer. Or maybe they will see garbage and throw it away.
Of course, as you already know, all three hypothetical finders will be 100% correct.


Spam, Poetry, Aphasiology and Machines

They show up in your email, opportunities for investment that suddenly become the strangely beautiful, often amusing, nonsense of email-filter avoidance. Most of the time they are entirely inscrutible; you'd get more sense firing a dictionary out of a shotgun. Sometimes, however, an underlying theme appears to develop, as if, perhaps, in code.

And while I know these snippets of surreal poetry are nothing more than tiny Racter robots attempting to sneak their HOT YUNG NUNZ FCK messages past Gmail's Bayesian systems, part of me nevertheless dreams of insane, but sentient, computers, drunk on Carrol and telling their own versions of the Walrus and the Carpenter.

Or perhaps karma stepped in and the spammer suffered a severe stroke just before hitting "SEND". Perhaps the resultant debilitating schizophrenia or Wernicke's aphasia caused him to spew out this bizarre word salad in a vain attempt to ask for immediate medical help.

Sometimes the gobbledygook seems to have been drawn from a single, identifiable source (as with the constant prescription emails I receive that contain conversations between a Mr. Fogg and John). Other times the spam tries to lend itself credibility with unscrambled sections of books, most commonly The Bible or a Harry Potter book.

In any case, it has become somewhat an obsession of mine, this wonderfully strange convergence of several of my passions (however ineptly indulged): aphasiology, poetry, prose and AI.

I am not the first to notice this, but I am going to do something not many have yet-done: read the emails aloud as performance pieces. The only editing I will do is to refrain from saying the urls and email addresses contained in each, and I will only be reading words that appear as text within the email (most of the spam poetry is sent with an image file of the actual wording of the ads, to further confuse the filters).


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