Feel Free To Order Chinese

Recently, the atmosphere here in Canada has gotten really tense even all the way here in BCIT. The regular emails trying to assure students and faculty that “nothing’s happened yet” don’t help, either. But seeing as concerns are on the rise something has to be done, if ever so lightly. These are just good tips to know anyway so write it on a Post-it or something.

Whether you have an iPhone, Android, or a flip phone, that thing is freaking filthy, ok? According to Deloitte, a professional services network, people check their phones 47 times a day (on average). Couple that with all the other surfaces you touch (i.e. public tables, kitchen dishcloths, etc.), it should come as no surprise. A study from the University of Arizona has stated that phones have (generally) 10 times more germs than a public toilet, and we don’t clean our phones nearly as much.
“We need to wipe our phones with [disinfectant] solutions at least once in two days,” says Lokesh Sharoff (MBBS, doctor at P.D Hinduja National Hospital & Medical Research Centre).


At this point, you probably realize by now that anything your hands touch is in the red (i.e. money, steering wheels, etc.). You probably don’t even clean the keyboard you own, never mind the ones in ehPod or the library. Which? (a consumer group) tested 33 office keyboards in London and found it contained 5 times more germs than the same office’s toilet seats. It was so bad that the tester couldn’t resist putting one of them in containment.
How to properly clean your keyboard:

  • Buy a can of compressed air
  • Use Post-its, cotton swabs, and screen wipes
  • Just DON’T eat at your desk!

Chinese takeout is really brown, isn’t it?

There really should be more to be included, so just remember this: anything you can touch, something else can too. Ok, that sounded less redundant in my head but you get it. Just keep in mind not all germs and viruses are all that powerful; pay attention to the news and remember what we’ve already been through. We’ll get over this one too, so feel free to order Chinese (it’s not like everybody had a holiday in the past two months).

Instant Noodles = Instant Happiness

Most of us here are either in post-secondary or close enough, so we’ve all had instant noodles before. First marketed on August 25, 1958, a lifetime has passed and it seems like we’ve reached the bottom of the barrel on ways to eat ramen; or have we? Japan, being the great innovator of food, has found ways to serve it to you in a restaurant. Here are three places that you should visit on your next pilgrimage of food:

At least he got to see the museum dedicated to his creations in his lifetime.

  1. 3 Minutes Kitchen
    Are you in a hurry but you really want to eat something special? 3 Minutes Kitchen in Port Town of Chiba Port Square is a self-serve instant ramen restaurant where you can choose a bowl/cup and add classic ramen toppings (fresh and for a fee). With over 50 different local brands, you can get a really good deal for under 500 yen. For a big eater like me, the prospect of trying rare flavours I’ll never get in Canada is reason enough to go to Chiba.

    Seating 60 in house, and free to take out.

  2. Raō Instant Ramen Restaurant
    Was the last one too ghetto for you? This restaurant boasts the incredible ability to turn regular store-bought ramen into a restaurant-quality bowl for a measly 250 yen! Same old ramen packet, with a few extra garnishes, served to you in a bowl in a cozy little set up in Shibuya station, Tokyo. The only downside is they only have three flavours: soy sauce, miso, and shio.

    The restaurant itself is pretty small too.

  3. Yokohama Cup Noodles Museum
    Ok, I know technically this isn’t a restaurant but it’s that and more! One of two facilities designed to honour the late Ando Momofuku, it boasts a DIY chicken ramen experience (the original cup ramen) and a build-your-own cup noodle factory. There’s even a Noodle Bazaar where you can try noodle dishes (the real deal) from around the world! This is beyond a restaurant; it’s a spiritual noodle experience.

    Your very own cup noodle experience.

Cup noodles may be the symbol of the economist here (well, it still is over there), but it’s also the symbol of fun and convenience. Have fun with your food, the breadth of your wallet doesn’t determine the breadth of your life. What is the most fun you’ve had with food (comment below!)?

BETTER McDonald’s Options!

If you’re talking about burgers in North America, you can’t not talk about McDonald’s. The perfect harmony between meat and bun, the true American dream. But ever since the Mighty Angus burger, there’s never really been another one that deserved to stay. We need change, and I know where it is. McDonald’s, it’s time you brought in your foreign goods.

  1. Ebi Filet-O Shrimp Burger
    We all know filet-o fish burgers and shrimp tempura, so why hasn’t anybody else tried combining the two? This permanent menu item has a patty filled with whole shrimps, rather than another mysterious mixture X. Which means we can finally get an update over that tired, sad-looking piece of fish. Come on guys, we’re tired of fast seafood that sucks!

    Whole shrimp definitely has the texture advantage over shrimp paste.

  2. Rice Burger
    Is it just me, or is this not the first time we’ve heard of a McDonald’s rice burger? Released on February 5th, this Japanese limited-edition burger comes in teriyaki beef, BLT, and fried chicken. The crunchy rice-bun is definitely an improvement over the loosely put-together Chinese version, which is crucial to a good burger.

    This is MY reason to travel to Japan!

  3. McCurry Pan
    Finally, a vegetarian option that isn’t a salad (sorry P.L.T.). This Indian McDonald’s item is everybody’s best friend (curry) stuffed into a pan you can eat. Tell me, has there ever been veggie fast food item that is this satisfying? The mounds of refreshing spices are designed to perk up even the weariest souls coming back from the many pilgrimage points in India, fit for the hungry souls that are always looking for better vegetarian options!

    I almost thought that was Japanese because pan = bread.

It’s possible Canadian McDonald’s most likely wants to give this opportunity to smaller businesses in order to cement their position as the “go-to fast food”. But these options aren’t coming fast enough! If America gets to have a turn, Canadians should get theirs too. Besides, how are you going to get a strategic advantage over Panda Express and Taco Bell without a big move like this?

Why can’t we have nice things?!

 

World of Coffee

Recently, I’ve been getting into coffee through Japanese canned coffee. You’d be surprised how good it is, Japanese food technology is terrifying. Do you feel coffee is something that can’t give you surprises anymore? Well, if you have the opportunity to try any of the following coffees you’ll see just how different coffee can be.

Coca Cola actually has a subsidiary that sells canned coffee, called Georgia.

  1. Flaming Waterfall of Coffee
    Ever heard of a flambé? This is the coffee version of it, with some help from a little Kahlua and tequila. The sloshing from one cup to another creates a waterfall of flame that would make for a great memory on your next trip to Puerto Panasco, Mexico.
  2. Scandinavian Egg Coffee
    This is a hit in cold places like Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the American mid-west (?) where it’s called “church basement coffee”. It’s a popular item in Lutheran churches because it’s very easy to make a lot of it. Add a few spices and it becomes a winter favourite. The egg goes with the coffee grounds and it absorbs some of the bitterness and acidity, making for a smoother coffee of the masses.

    The coffee itself looks perfectly normal, not to be mistaken for the Asian egg coffee.

  3. Elephant Dung Coffee
    Did you think civet poop was the only excrement on the menu? This is the mass-produced version of Kopi Luwak, hailing from Thailand. Black ivory coffee is still one of the world’s most expensive brews, coming in at £30 a cup. The producers claim that the less acidic environment (an Elephant’s digestive tract, yeah) produces a flavorful cup with notes of chocolate, fruit, and nuttiness.

    That’s cute. Btw, there’s also an elephant dung gin if you’re interested.

This world is weird. It wasn’t that long ago that somebody had the brilliant idea of carbonating coffee so who knows, maybe somebody will freeze-dry it into pellets next. The next time you’re on a break, maybe go the extra mile for a truly exceptional cup, at the very least it’ll make for a good story.

Being A Happy Vegan/Vegetarian

Have you ever considered going vegan, but can’t convince yourself to give up meat and fish for tofu and fake meat? Here’s a little tip: check out Asian food. Asia has had centuries of experience eating anything but animal products. Definitely the direction to look for meat substitutes that don’t have funny aftertastes or are just lacking something compared to meat. You’ll be surprised to see the things Asians make with soybeans.

Should I?

  1. Tempeh
    This block of solidified cereal is the cornerstone of Indonesian cuisine. It might look sweet, but it’s almost a cross between soybeans and mushrooms. The fermentation turns the beans into a cake so it’s tougher and more satisfying than tofu, and the taste isn’t as bland either. The locals like to season it with soy sauce and fry it, but it has its place in salads, stews, and even sandwiches.

    That’s tempeh in the middle.

  2. Okara
    Ok, I know you might not like tofu. After all, you’re reading this because you wanted alternatives to it. But this is tofu’s sweeter, creamier cousin. Tofu and soy milk both need to be strained, and the residue is okara. Traditionally, the Japanese stew it and the Chinese fry it like fritters but nowadays people like to put it into ice cream (as a binding agent) and veggie patties. If you come across fresh okara, then feel free to put it into your smoothie for extra consistency.

    Okara used in a potato salad-like Japanese dish, looks pretty similar to pure okara.

  3. Seitan (Allergy Alert: Gluten)
    This is probably the worst food to feed somebody who is allergic to gluten because this is ALL gluten. Seitan was invented in 6th century China as a noodle topping, by washing away all the starch in the dough to leave only the gluten. The result is a versatile and chewy meat alternative loved by monks. Have you heard of mock duck? It’s a stewed form of seitan. You can also fry them into gluten puffs, bake it like bread, or steam it like dumplings.

    Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

I’m not going to kid you, there are a lot more I could talk about but then not even 1000 words would be enough. Choosing not to consume animals is a noble pursuit, and it doesn’t have to suck. Asia’s food culture is a lot more diverse than you might imagine, and I am always happy to see more potential fans!

Tea, Anyone?

Fancy a spot of tea, rather than the bean water most of the Western world is drinking these days? While you might be talked into drinking Earl Gray or Pu-erh, the following teas are a bit more adventurous than that.

The three basic types of tea in China, according to colour (and fermentation levels).

  1. Russian Brick Tea
    Yeah, you heard me right. Similar to how the Chinese keep their tea lying around, it’s Russian black tea compressed into a brick. When you’re feeling a little parched, just grind a little off and brew the dust. The antique ones have all sorts of designs and words on them, some date back to Tsar Nicholas II. Just be sure to sanitize it first, they’re meant for travel, after all.

    An antique tea brick from the time of Tsar Nicholas II. Seriously, don’t drink antiques. The older the brick, the more mould in it.

  2. Awabancha
    This tea is pickled.
    Tokushima, Japan pickles their green tea like sauerkraut. The tea is picked, boiled until brownish, leaves mashed, and pickled in the water it boiled in. In the end, it’s dried so it looks like any old Japanese dark tea, and I hear it tastes great (a bit sour, though).

    I don’t know about you, but I find fruit teas far more revolting than this stuff.

  3. Pocha
    This Tibetan and Indian staple is highly popular with its people, and you’d have several cups of it before work. It takes a bit of work churning the dark tea with yak (or cow) butter and salt, but it sits in your fridge very well. But nowadays people lead far busier lifestyles, so you’d get tea bags to brew, then throw in the butter and salt in the blender.

    Mmm, nice and salty.

There are a LOT more teas I wanted to show you guys, but those really might make you lose your appetite so I’ll leave it there. Wherever you’re travelling to try out their local teas. Who knows, you might find it pleasant and it’ll make for great watercooler conversation.

No Partner, No Problem

Does the sight of red and pink decorations make you red with rage? Lost your appetite seeing Valentine’s Day deals at restaurants and bakeries? Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about that. Valentine’s Day is about YOU, and here are some tips to bring it back to you.

The vices of Capitalism…

Do you remember the cards you sent to your mom back in elementary school? Valentine’s Day celebrates love, so how about taking some time to celebrate the biggest love of our lives? Take your mom on a day out: brunch with double-shot Caesars, watching a movie you both like, taking a spa day together, the works! The important thing is to spend your time with the people you know love you, not forcing yourself to comply with the wishes of a stranger.

What would you call the one on the right?

It’s unrealistic to think you can dodge Valentine’s Day propaganda while you’re in an urban setting, and unhealthy to try and run away from all of it. Remember, it’s not just you. The city’s full of poor schmucks like us, find somebody to have a chat with. Single friends, family, even your cat/dog (do it indoors, though). Don’t bottle your feelings in, they’ll make you do things that you’ll regret. Taking it out on objects is a good idea too, just do it safely; you don’t want to have to spend your day in the hospital, do you? Take the free trial to your closest kickboxing gym, or try out those stress rooms the news talked about.

You can re-experience the freedom of a child, pretty cool!

It’s perfectly fine to want to be alone. Perhaps you can’t make time with your parents, or maybe you don’t have friends that are single (those traitors!). Treat yourself, life is too short to live with regret. Places like concerts, galleries, or large-scale functions are accommodating to singles. Laser tag is especially so, you’ll be surprised how many people go there alone or in small numbers and need strangers on their team. Eat dinner at a communal table or a bar, that way you can do your own thing while also experiencing company.

The bits of gossip you can overhear at the bar are great!

It’s ok to be alone, we all need time to find that special one. You’re still young, there are many more Valentine’s Days to spend. Remember, you’re the main character of your life. Nobody else is in charge of your life!

Beer’s Best Friend

Before food colour, before idiot sandwiches, before sprinkles, there was the original food entertainment. Alcohol is the first in a long history of pleasant food accidents, and boy have we gotten creative with it. Let’s talk drinking food.

  1. KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)
    In South Korea, there’s no such thing as straight drinking. It’s always beer (maybe a little soju) with your chicken; together, that perfect union is called chimaek (chi-MEK). One big gulp of ice-cold beer, one big bite of fried chicken, that’s how South Koreans old and young spend their weekends. The thing I often hear about authentic KFC is it’s not greasy like the other KFC. The outside is crispy, the inside is bursting with juice, and there are as many flavours as there are KFC menu items.

    A proper South Korean Saturday would include more than one location; i.e. round one chimaek, round two karaoke, round three massage parlour.

  2. Izakaya Food
    If you think this is anything like pub food, you’re sorely mistaken. Traditionally, the Japanese drink sake with small cups and small sips (it’s strong stuff) so the sides are usually pretty small. But the variety is amazing: karaage (JFC), skewers, grilled fish, omelets, sashimi, and loads more. If you a little lost on your first time, yakitori (chicken skewers) is a staple. You can’t go wrong with charcoal-grilled chicken dripping in a light sauce, coupled with some roasted scallions.

    South Korean and Japanese beers are generally really light, so they tend to chill it really well.

  3. China: It’s not just chicken feet
    Chicken feet do make for good drinking food, whether it’d be chilled in vinegar or hot in spicy sauce. But that’s overlooking the deep-fried noodlefishes, stir-fried clams, lamb skewers, and so much more. Combine that with a nice Heineken, Harbin, or Tsingtoa beer and you got the quintessential Chinese night out. Be careful trying traditional Chinese liquors though, drink with friends because we’re talking an upwards of 65%.

    Traditionally, the skewers are kinda small so ordering 20 or so for one is very common.

If you’re like me and got tired of burgers and fried fish a long time ago, try looking for a place that sells good skewers or fried chicken. Drinking is how adults have fun with food, so it’s high time you bought new toys. I’d be happy to hear your stories down below, stay safe you guys!

Behind The Kiss (XOXO)

Are you the type to give a box of chocolates to your significant other? How about cards? Can’t go wrong with the classics, but when did they start being classics? Let’s take a look to see how holiday traditions get started.

  1. The First Valentine’s Day Card
    It seems you can leave a mark in history if you’re a rich guy who fights in a war, win or lose. The first Valentine’s Card was sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans as a prisoner of war. When he was caught in the Battle of Agincourt (UK vs. France), he sent letters to his second wife. I’m guessing the English don’t mind sending letters for their prisoners when they’re going to keep them for 20 years. It also helps that he wrote poems in his letters, so somebody can eventually gather them into a book and spread your good name for profit.

    That’s the first Valentine ever written on a Valentine’s Day “card”.

  2. XOXO
    Have you ever signed a card with x’s and o’s? Looks awfully familiar to the contracts in old cartoons, don’t you think? Back in the Middle Ages, everybody signed their names off with an “x” as a gesture to Christ’s cross. When you’re done, you’re supposed to kiss the cross to seal the deal a.k.a. “sealed with a kiss”. It started with contracts, then books, and pretty soon everything was signed off that way.

    Hugs, kisses, all that good stuff.

  3. Sweethearts
    Have you had sweethearts? No, not the kind that’ll slap you funny if you call him/her that. Those chalky little sweets with words on them. Those candies were the combined efforts of two brothers, Oliver and Silas Chase. Oliver developed a lozenge-making machine that could make candy; you might know it as necco wafers, it was put on hiatus in July 2018. Anyways, Silas had the idea to make a new candy with words on them in 1866. In 1901, they turned them into heart shapes to appeal to the holiday crowd. Fun fact, it was suspended in 2019 because the new owner needed more time to make a new batch.

    What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on one?

Hopefully, you found this guide to be helpful. The most reliable way to start one of your own is definitely the last one, much more attainable. Jokes aside, I hope you all the best of luck with your Valentine’s Day shopping!

 

The Future of Spider-Man (Discussion & Theory)

With Morbius and Venom 2 on the horizon, everybody is concerned with the future of Spider-Man. I, personally, am very concerned with how Spider-Man will continue after Tom Holland’s third MCU film. There is so much material to deal with: Will Venom be part of the Sinister 6? Will Marvel make him into a new leader? Or will they just pretend Spider-Man doesn’t exist? I assume you’ve seen all those videos on the Morbius re-shoots and Hardy’s “leaked” photos, because I’m throwing out some theories of my own.

The inevitable “leaks”.

We’ve confirmed that Spider-Man is on the run with the bus ad, so this is the perfect opportunity to do one of those everybody’s-your-enemy movies. The problem is there aren’t enough villains to do a proper Sinister 6; for argument’s sake let’s say Vulture, Scorpion, Shocker/Taskmaster, Mysterio, and Venom. We’re still missing Doc Ock or Green Goblin (Hobgoblin?) or anybody. I suppose they could start the process with the Venom movie, introduce a baddy that’ll team up with Venom in the post-credits.

Another possibility is we do Venom vs. Carnage next, then have them go against Spidey in his movie. This battle could progress towards space somehow, the Symbiote being of extra-terrestrial origin after all. Then the ending or post-credits could hint towards S.W.O.R.D. and we could have fun guessing whether or not it’ll be a tv series or be its own movie.

This could mean war.

Then there are the classic Doctor Octavius or Green Goblin routes, which is a gamble because it’ll be inevitably compared to the Sam Raimi movies; and Sam Raimi will win despite Tobey Maguire’s cringe dancing.

Really?

I’m leaning on the Sinister 6 theory, even though I’m curious to see the MCU move on to more off-world stuff. It could not be six villains for all we know, because it wouldn’t be the first time they surprised us and it definitely isn’t the first time it isn’t six (16 is a bit much). What are your thoughts and theories on the MCU? Feel free to comment, I can’t guarantee it’ll be approved though.

One thing’s for certain, I’m looking forward to this!

 

Fights Over Food 2

The history of food is the history of humanity, therefore fights over food are great battles of history (lol)! Jokes aside, these kinds of fights will probably never end because people are born into these conflicts. Maybe your local supermarket’s waffles are always on sale so you’ve grown up eating them, or maybe you’ve never seen crunchy peanut butter before so you never knew what it’s like. But there’s a bigger world (of food) out there, so let’s talk food!

Asian food is the shortcut to going vegetarian, try it!

  1. Drums vs. Flats
    Not all wings are created equal, nature’s made sure of that. In one corner we have what you might call the symbol of the wing, the flats. In the other is the piece that might as well have been the namesake for buffalo wings, the drums. Both fair candidates. Wings have all the benefits the skin can give, both as a crunch factor and as a sponge for the sauce. Drums lead the charge on ease of eating and texture, being darker meat. As a kid, I always looked forward to the days my mom made chicken wings because they are so flavourful. When it comes to bigger pieces of chicken, it’s much harder for the flavours to sink in. Personally, I think it’s a shame most cooks don’t take advantage of the skin and give flats a crunchier skin; the texture would’ve elevated the flavour. So I have to give my vote to the drums. A drum with a good amount of crispy skin is so good, the perfect side to a refreshing pale ale.

    I’m guessing a new record has been set on wings eaten.

  2. Fold Pizza vs. As-Is
    I actually didn’t find out about this debate until just a while ago from Buzzfeed. This is a completely foreign concept to me, so sorry in advance I can only analyze this logically. As with most things, not all pizzas are made equally. When you have a fresh pizza with a thin crust you’re going to want more support, so folding it becomes natural. I, however, would just support it with the other hand. I have a fixated way of enjoying pizza because that’s how it comes to you, any other way would be too similar to other foods. What’s that, you like to fold it all the way to make a pizza sandwich? That’s ok but at that point, it’s not that different from a calzone. But to each their own, it’s not like actual calzones come in as many flavours as an actual pizza anyways.

    By the way, which comic book Batman is your favourite?

  3. Salt On vs. Salt Off
    Now it might seem weird to all you Westerners, but this IS a thing. In Asia, sometimes we put salt on fruit (and not just when we want to preserve it). It’s only certain fruits (i.e. watermelon, pineapple, etc.), but we think it makes it taste a little bit better. Now, hear me out. There is a theory on how it works. You know how some makers put salt on caramel (more on its pronunciation later), the salt brings in extra stimulation to the tongue and emphasizes how sweet the caramel is. The same thing for watermelon; go on, give it a try. You guys do the dipping fries in ice cream/milkshake thing, right? It’s like that and maple bacon. There’s an old Chinese wives’ tale that describes how it’s not ok to overeat certain fruits, and the salt somehow offsets it enough to eat a bit more.

    The Japanese and Chinese are pretty into this. (Source: Persona 4 The Animation)

  4. Coke vs. Pepsi
    Ah, the age-old question. It’s like chocolate and vanilla. Ultimately, this is the question of taste. Economically, Coke is superior to Pepsi because of all the other drinks and branches it has. Coke is seen and favoured in much of the developed nations, but Pepsi has an iron grip on the Middle East. Fun fact, the Arabic language doesn’t really have a sharp “p” sound so they would pronounce it as “Bebsi”. These two drinks have too much in common to draw any conclusive line but in my opinion, coke is richer and more addictive than Pepsi. I would have a Diet Coke with my fried chicken because the lack of sweetness helps with the greasy chicken (and it’s also the only way I can deal with the aftertaste).

    Next time you got to Dubai, DON’T say that. A lot of them know English.

  5. Is a hot dog a sandwich?
    People often have a tendency to rely on others to define things.I’m not saying you’re always right, it’s just that some things don’t need outside influence. A sandwich, by definition according to the Oxford dictionary is, “consisting of two pieces of bread with a filling between them, eaten as a light meal” But another dictionary outright challenges that; the Merriam Webster dictionary says it’s, “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in-between”. Don’t forget, behind the dictionary is just another group of authorities pushing their own thoughts and agendas. In my opinion, hot dogs, tacos, and burritos cannot be sandwiches. They each have an identity and culture that’s unique to each other, and thus can never really cross over. Subway subs are sandwiches, by the way, their loaves of bread are conceptually supposed to be apart. They’re stuck together because it’s easier to just make a shallow cut.

    She used to work as a sandwich artist, so it’s no wonder she’d try it.

It may be futile to fight, but I believe this isn’t all bad. Humans need to continue evolving, so does their food. The common sense of food needs to be constantly confirmed and challenged in order for change to occur. I sure welcome it, because I want to see and try new things (except that sushi croissant, the heat would kill the freshness of the fish)!

Even if that was added on afterwards, a sushi’s ratio of carbs to everything else is pretty much perfected. I don’t need my sushi to be sucked dry either.

The Hottest Talk Show Online!

I LOVE spicy food. The first stage is always so exciting, it makes the food taste good and it gets you moving. But spiciness is actually a type of pain so humans will instinctively try to escape the pain, which is the premise of Hot Ones. Hot Ones from the First We Feast channel on YouTube is probably the most fire internet talk show (pun intended), leaving the others in a cloud of ghost pepper dust. It’s so hot, that the moment the season 11 premiere came out it was instantly #1 on trending. I guess you could say it wasn’t just about the show, the guest on the thumbnail is the villainess we’re all talking about Margot Robbie (you know, Harley Quinn). I don’t usually watch talk shows and interviews, but this one I cannot sleep on.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen Gordan Ramsay driven to insanity and not the other way around.

For those of you who live under a rock (#SuperBowl2020), this is a talk show where the host Sean Evans interviews celebrities with hot wings. Yeah, you heard me right. The guest has to eat 10 different wings with 10 different sauces (that they change up every season) that ascend in the Scoville Scale. You can imagine how hard it is to keep a straight face and answer a different question every time you take a bite. These aren’t your regular pub wings sauces either, the last sauce is 2 million+ scovilles (not to mention all that build-up). It’s honestly kind of fun to see the usually calm and collected celebs’ faces all scrunched up and howling, while they recall what they were thinking when they were tweeting this or said that. Sean Evans really does his homework too, time and time again his guests are surprised how he can find out about the most niche details (like how Nick Jonas attended the Dodgers’ spring training). If it weren’t for him, I have no doubt the interview would’ve blown over with all the heat in the room. It also helps that the number of times he’s actually reacted to a wing across all seasons you can probably count in one hand; not a twitch or pitch higher. The sound/visual effects are just the cherry on top, very timely (props to the editor).

Margot was wonderful; even though she said the first wing was already hot for her (it’s pretty much sriracha), she finished the course which is more than I can say for DJ Khaled. She doesn’t hesitate or rush through it, fitting for a woman that learned how to hold her breath for five minutes. I didn’t know that she’s not only the star of Birds of Prey (BoP) but also a producer, I’m seeing that more and more nowadays. It’s also a rising trend in China, where the lead actress of a tv series would sometimes be the head of the company producing it. They switched things up a little for this episode because while it’s not uncommon for other members of a group to also be invited, I was surprised to see questions coming from Margot’s co-stars in BoP. Around the fourth wing she was already in trouble, she says beyond this point is unchartered territory which must be true because she missed Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s (Black Canary) question on the toughest part of her role. The interview must’ve run for a while because Sean let more questions slide than usual, I’m guessing it’s her reaction to the spice or maybe they didn’t have much time to do this. She is the first guest in a long time to not do the last dab, but it’s understandable because she really was on her wits’ end. Sean usually asks the guest to do it with him and it kind of eggs him/her on, but despite how sadistic he is he actually advised against it. I’m guessing his experience with Bobby Lee tells him he shouldn’t push his guests too far.

Me and Billie Eilish have one thing in common (no it’s not that we breathe air), loving spicy food but can’t stand to eat much. But unlike me, she has the guts to take a huge bite off of another nugget right after the last one. Two of the hottest sauces, Da Bomb and the Last Dab, taking it like a hero. Her special segment was really thoughtful (props to the crew), I can see she’s still close to her roots. I got to say, it was pretty childish of her to throw a fit so big that she sprained her ankle but we all have days like that. I don’t know about you, but I’m not that attached to my clothes. When Sean and Billie talked about designing a video game, I was pretty happy to see that she played ilomilo. She should definitely try her hand in designing; if Pewdiepie can do it (with moderate results) what’s stopping her. I can tell she doesn’t watch this show because when she saw Sean shake the last bottle in preparation for the last dab, she had a “what” look before realizing he was going to open the bottle.

That’s how I felt after Wings’ Bobby wings. Btw, the “antidote” does nothing to help.

Sean and the crew really choose the best celebrity guests to torture. It’s not just fame and achievement, all of his guests are intriguing in one way or another. And Sean seems pretty determined to show that part to the viewers. It was a good job as always, I hope you’ll have as much fun as I did.

 

Trailers That Are Actually Fun To Watch

Don’t you hate it when the trailer just spoils all of the plot twists and cool scenes? I’m the kind of guy who cannot watch the rest of the series if the last episode was spoiled by somebody. Not even a vocal description, because I watch movies for the plot.  Movie trailers are alright, but video game trailers can spoil everything. But there’s a YouTube channel that has just the right kind of trailer for me, and their take on MIB: International is pretty on point. Why watch a trailer before a movie, when you can watch it afterwards? The Screen Junkies channel’s Honest Trailers are the perfect trailers; it’s a chance to review the events of the movie in only a couple of minutes, with a bunch of jokes. It’s so much more fun than seeing a whole bunch of dramatic cuts of nobody talking (or the exact opposite).

Of course, he would be invited to do this!

To the uninitiated, Honest Trailers poke fun at the movie trailer stigma of either being cryptic to the point of not telling anything, being way too dramatic, or giving a completely wrong impression of the film. The trailers they make will have to strive to be anything but that, by being brutally honest. By brutally honest I mean stating the obvious while we regular folks are still in awe at the ending of (*insert movie*). I’m just joking, they do have fun by stuffing it with jokes; in Spider-Man: Far From Home’s honest trailer, they made fun of the fact that Tony Stark has a legacy of making enemies out of his employees. I love how much fun THEY had writing the script! It always starts off with a barrage of comments requesting the trailer (obviously the first trailers didn’t have any), followed by an old-timey film reel winding scene with a made-up warning. The cast list is the best part, situated at the climax after you heard all the awkward details and cultural references. It’s adult name-calling, but actually funny.

Technically this is an honest trailer for Sun & Moon, but you get the idea.

The thing about Honest Trailers is that they can make bad movies good, in a self-deprecating way of course. MIB: International is one such movie; the original trailer gave nothing, the movie wasn’t much better. The most badass thing(s) about the whole movie is probably the oil paintings of Jay and Kay. (*Sigh*), the good old days. This trailer did a good job pointing out that their partnership was what held the movie, and the new duo didn’t have that chemistry. Well, what can you expect when the actors themselves hired personal screenwriters. You know, I never really noticed how many times Thor and Valkyrie bumped fists but that’s just awkward. The best part of watching these trailers is getting to know the juicy behind-the-scenes details, like how the director wanted to back out multiple times. Watch the trailer for yourself, it’ll save you the time and money describing how bad this movie is.

Now, this is a good buddy cop dynamic. With Chris and Tessa, you can’t tell from their appearance or relationship.

I think we can all agree the Aladdin remake was definitely one of the better ones. It fixed plot holes, updated the ethnicity representation, and made sure the songs fit the new way the characters were being portrayed. I played Assassin’s Creed before, so I burst out laughing when they pointed out how much parkour was in the beginning. I was pretty disappointed in the lack of a Fresh Prince joke; neither the movie nor the trailer had one. Wasted opportunity, people! It’s a good touch to confirm the merchant theory, it works with Will Smith’s genie. You can’t expect Will Smith to be so straight-laced during a party, and it adds depth to the genie. Now that I think about it, is that Icelandic(?) Prince supposed to prove the other big fan theory of the shared Disney world?

Isn’t he hot in that thing?

If I had to pick a demerit to the Honest Trailers formula, it’d have to be the Commentary. Honest Trailers Commentary is a weekly podcast the Screen Junkies do to talk about everything they can’t shove into a movie trailer. The podcast does do a good job revealing exactly how hard it is to invite Ryan Reynolds, and it’s always a pleasure to see all the bonus features. But the hosts obviously aren’t pros at this sort of thing, because they almost always talk over each other at some point in each episode. Then there’s the occasional host that sounds like they’ve never seen the movie nor have they done any homework on it. It was clearly in the movie, did you go on a toilet break or something?

Usually, it’s not the guest’s job to cool the situation, but that was his role in the room.

Tony Revolori, who played flash from the new Spider-Man movies was a real treat in Honest Trailers Commentary. He’s amiable, talkative but patient, and confirmed that he came up with the airport pickup scene. Well, there goes the conspiracy theory where Flash will be the new Carnage or something. One of them pointed out that Marvel created this situation where everybody overanalyzes, effectively making sure very few people can actually guess the ending (and build hype). It’s oddly comforting to hear that even they got nearly screwed over by the Spider-Man ownership mayhem; they were this close to devoting the entire honest trailer to Spidey being back with Sony. But what will happen to him after the third movie? Will he ever appear in the later Marvel films that will inevitably require Spider-Man cameos? Well, only time will tell…

Forget that, he might actually have a multi-verse to save later.

Trailers by nature are difficult. I’m not trying to bash regular movie (and video game) trailers, but perhaps there’s a different way to look forward to movies. Especially the whole multiple trailers business. One is good enough, any more will spoil too much (even including plot twists). Honest Trailers is like a trip to the spa, the perfect after treatment.

Love Is In The Air!

‘Tis the season to be all lovey-dovey! Hello folks, are you looking forward to Valentine’s Day? This is the universally recognized holiday dedicated to romantic love, after all. Are you going to share a nice box of chocolates with your significant other and chill? Or perhaps a nice night out in a restaurant with a Valentine’s Day special? These are what come to mind here, in the West. But what about over in its land of origin, Europe or farther East? The way we celebrate the holiday is pretty different from how it is celebrated over in Europe, never mind the East that started off without it. Today I want to take the time to share with you how this holiday is celebrated worldwide.

The bottle of wine has no labels at all, that’s how you can tell it’s fake.

We’ve all heard the stories, the holiday originates from some bloke called St. Valentine. He did something that made people want to remember him forever, evolving to a holiday that commercializes kisses. Ok, hold on. Rollback the clip. Holidays that relate to love (or love-making) have been around since the beginning of organized religion, and sometimes holidays “evolve” thanks to religion. This one is one of them. Historians believe this (along with Christmas) has roots in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a festival of fertility that celebrated the coming of spring. The festival served the important social mission of hooking up the youngins together, through the lottery!

Don’t trust everything you watch on tv (except for this).

As with anything pagan back then, the church just has to step in. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced the holiday with one that celebrates a long gone martyr called St. Valentine (this is his cue). There have been several Valentines, it’s a pretty popular family name for martyrs apparently. This was before the Roman legalization of Christianity, so hoods and secret codes were part of the Christian experience. Anyways, one Valentine was martyred by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus. We know this because he sent a letter to his jailer’s daughter, whom he supposedly saved from blindness; it was signed “from your Valentine”. This sounds like the plot of a 70s historical movie, not the erotic Italian kind. Another story says he secretly married couples so the men won’t have to go to war, which generally made Roman emperors mad. Unfortunately, the holiday doesn’t really change into a celebration of romance until the end of the 14th century.

Real subtle message guys, real subtle.

Do you remember doing Valentine’s cards in elementary? If we were lucky it was pre-made cut-out cards with some kind of Nickelodeon character on it, and those were fun/easy to make. If we weren’t so lucky, we had to make them from scratch using construction paper. The sizes weren’t uniform, and it was just a few scribbles inside (blegh). This has its roots in the 1500s when the printing press was just invented. Although it wasn’t really a thing until the 1700s when papermaking was more widespread. The cards usually featured Cupid (the Roman god of love), hearts (which were believed to be the seat of emotion), and birds (because it was commonly believed at the time that birds mate during this time). Roses had been established as a symbol of love and passion since the Middle Ages, so naturally, it became the traditional flower of Valentine’s Day. Candy is just customary on special occasions all over the world; it’s a luxury item, has special meanings, and it’s just so good.

I didn’t know it was also a French play.

The Americans got their own card-making business going in the 1800s, but this is where Valentine’s Day starts to diverge dramatically. Our version, as you know, gets taken to new heights (and new lows) by the businesses that provide for the holiday. We still do cards, but it could be decorated with anything from superheroes to body part humour. France, the possible birthplace of the Valentine’s Day card and world-famous city of romance, had a very fun (but now illegal) event called the loterie d’amour, or “lottery of love”. Men and women would take turns calling to each other from buildings that faced each other, and they’d pair up. If the men didn’t like who they got, they can leave. But the single women had to stay together for a bonfire and burn their pictures, possibly swear and curse them. See, this is where it starts going south. The girls shouldn’t HAVE to stay for the pity party, they should’ve just went to town and have some sort of bachelorette party. This is how they end up escalating the situation and eventually, the French government has to ban this altogether. What a shame.

I did NOT know this was a thing until I googled for a nice picture but here you go!

Boys, have you ever wondered why YOU have to do all the work to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you ever wish the girls can understand the pressure that comes with it? Just take a trip to South Korea (or Japan)! I’m guessing it’s leftover from ye olde days of women staying in kitchens, but it leaves the men in the dark too. The fun doesn’t stop there, because there are two more months of fun! On March 14th, the boys are expected to return the favour. Traditionally it’s some kind of candy (that’s not chocolate), and different kinds mean different things. Depending on who you are, the chaos continues to April 14th where all the singles lament their pain and eat bowls of jajangmyeon or black bean paste noodles. Granted, that dish has been around since before the holiday but it does fit. The darkness of the sauce fits the atmosphere.

The instant stuff is good, but it doesn’t compare to the real thing.

Love is so interesting, and there are so many more ways to express it. If you have the opportunity, I suggest you go out and see these celebrations for yourself. You can thank me with a wedding invitation.

Can You Trust What’s On The Label?

Continuing the pattern here, let’s talk about artificial food colouring. Pretty much all of the bad wrap food dye gets from the masses comes from the artificial kind. I’m talking allergens, ADHD, cancer, death; you know, the works. In the last five decades, the consumption of artificial food colours have risen 500%; it can even be found in certain brands of pickles, pickles! it’s no wonder people are getting scared. Are all those articles, studies, and influencers right? Let’s see what we can find out under the label.

See, anything can look fancy if it’s in a lab setting. Even coal tar.

Artificial food colours/dyes (AFC) are food additives designed to make food more appealing because the demand for food has forced producers to make it from just about anything. If you’re lucky it looks bland, if you’re not it can look pretty unappetizing. People have been doing this for a LONG time, just not with synthesized chemicals. The first synthesized food colouring was made in 1856, from coal tar. Nowadays we use petroleum, which doesn’t sound much better but it’s altered into a chemical that’s used very sparingly. Think of it as paint for food (that sounded better in my head). Over the years, many AFCs were developed but most of them are toxic. Thankfully, we have organizations like the European Union (EU), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the Food and Drug Association (FDA) backing us up. Everybody’s standards are different and one chemical might be ok for one but not ok for another, but what can you do?

I don’t think I can come up with more than three or four uses of this stuff.

“But dude, we have natural food colouring too. Why not use that instead?” Well, for a detailed explanation you can look at my previous story. But the short answer is, “it’s not good enough”. Not sharp enough, not long-lasting, and not easy to use. It’s also a lot easier to just mass-produce chemicals, and when you’re a businessman you want as much green (lol) as possible.

The 90s were a wild time for snacks. I’m sure the FDA has fond memories of work back then.

For the purpose of this story, let’s limit ourselves to the colours approved by the EU, EFSA, and the FDA. These are the ones that matter to us, and there are a lot of colours out there that are approved by nations like Japan that aren’t elsewhere. There used to be 700 colours in circulation but the American Congress cut that number down to just seven in 1906. There were some changes over the century but these seven dominate the US market.

FD&C stands for “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act”, it was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1938.

  • Blue No.1 is usually used in ice cream/ popsicles (thought so), canned peas (?), soups, etc.
  • Blue No.2 I’m guessing is a more visually appealing blue, because it’s usually used in candy, cereal (Lucky charms?), snacks, etc.
  • Green No.3 or “Fast Green” was originally brought in to replace the old Light Green because it lasts longer. You can find this stuff in veggies (more peas?), jellies (not Jello-O!?), fish, desserts, etc. But this stuff is also the least popular of the seven, it’s also not approved by the EU.
  • Red No.3 used to be popular; you can see it in your candied cherries, those red popsicles, and cake-decorating gels.
  • Red No. 40 is a high-quality red usually seen in sports drinks (Gatorade?), condiments (ketchup!), cereal (Special K?), etc.
  • Yellow No.5 is a pretty common yellow you can probably find in microwave popcorn, sodas, cheese puffs, and cereal (corn pops?).
  • Yellow No.6 is more orange than yellow and you can probably find it in marmalades, sugar cookies, candy, and canned fruit.

Amongst the seven power rangers, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 take up  90% of the US market.

Whilst the US mainly focuses on those dyes, The Europeans have the E numbers. All additives to food are in the E numbers and the food colours are listed in E100-199; there aren’t 100 of them, though. More like 20-30. Just as the EU doesn’t accept Fast Green, the US also doesn’t accept Quinoline Yellow (E104), Carmoisine (E122) and Ponceau (E124-126).

Even as an adult, I want Lucky Charms. But there’s no way I can finish it myself, too sweet.

In 1973, Dr. Benjamin Feingold proposing his article theorizing how ADHD (et al) has a connection to AFCs of all things. Based on his observations, he’s determined that to be the cause and he devised an AFC-free diet; apparently 60-70% of his patients recovered this way. By the way, this is bull. He’s presenting, in front of his esteemed colleagues, basically guesswork. He may mean well, wanting to discuss with his colleagues and/or do some proper research. But the media ate this up and spread this like Australia’s wildfire (too soon?). He even has a best-selling book called Why Your Child is Hyperactive. Obviously, the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry argued greatly against it, but the public was already indoctrinated. He even established the Feingold Association of the United States (est.1976), persisting even now their diets. Over the decades, various studies have tackled this subject with mixed results.

  • Conners et al. at the University of Pittsburgh did some research in ’76, nothing (conclusive).
  • Kavale and Forness (’83) found nothing to support Feingold’s K-P (“Kaiser Permanente”) diet.
  • A clinical study from the University of Southampton in 2004 showed results, only when they included sodium benzoate.
  • A small study from the North Shore Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (NY) said 73% of children with ADHD did see a decrease in activity when the AFCs and preservatives were removed.

Yeah, nothing conclusive has ever been found about this connection to ADHD. Yellow No.5 can cause symptoms including irritability, restlessness, depression and difficulty with sleeping, but that’s not it is it?

If you think you can’t get fat from fruit, you got a whole other thing coming.

There is some concern over whether or not to keep Blue 2 and Red 3 in circulation. Apparently, they have connections to tumours. In 1985, an animal study observed a significant increase in brain tumours when high doses of Blue 2 were used. But not enough evidence. Other cases didn’t find anything on  Blue 2. Red 3 was in some real heat in 1990, when the FDA issued a partial ban on it. A big boost to thyroid tumours (in rats), especially in these two cases. It was eventually unblocked, but it was still (mostly) replaced by Red 40 afterwards. Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 can have carcinogenic contaminants in them, which are in low enough concentrations that it’s safe (probably).

The chances of you contracting anything from ACFs is pretty low, let’s be honest. How many people do you know has suffered harm from them? Probably none, thanks to the various health organizations. But it’s also generally accepted that eating these isn’t good for you, either. Western society is generally too obsessed with sugar, salt and oil anyways, no need to make it more appealing. Try cooking, it’s like exercise. The more you do it, the less of a bother it becomes (is what I heard, I have no time for it).

 

What’s So Natural About Food Coloring?

When was the last time you’ve had salmon sushi or enjoyed a refreshing bottle of Coke? Believe it or not, these foods are coloured, because the demand for food has caused the natural colour to not match what we expect. We all want salmon, but none of us want gray or whatever colour salmon. Before you start a social media crisis for the salmon industry, it’s worthwhile to point out that the colouring is something pretty much the same chemical that’s in natural salmon food (fish). It’s safe to eat, but if you’re so grossed out by it you can limit your consumption or get the wild ones (for about twice to three times the price). It doesn’t help that Canada’s salmon was experiencing difficulty getting upstream due to environmental changes, so the actual price is probably higher. To feed all of us humans, we need food colouring. Without food colouring a lot of our food would look disgusting, so think of it as food cosmetics. Imagine skittles all off-white or yellowish, yum!

Take one, any one!

You may think of food colouring as a relatively new concept, but people have been dying foods for centuries. Of course, back then all the Egyptians could cook up were some plant extracts and wine to may food look a bit more appetizing. When the industrial revolution came rolling, a lot of really dangerous synthetic food colours were used. Red lead, vermillion, Prussian blue, stuff you’d expect in textiles NOT food. People actually died eating lozenges and drinking tea, that’s how bad it got. Nowadays we have the European Union (EU) and the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and they have lists of approved artificial and natural food colours.

Think a little more before jumping into that TARDIS.

Natural food dyes are additives that come from natural sources, like caramelized sugar, seeds, and insects. Blue is very rare, and it’s a constant challenge to develop more. Technically they exist but there are issues with shelf life and the food matrix. Some common natural dyes include carotenoids, chlorophyll, anthocyanin, turmeric, and betanin.

So there’s no such thing as a black canary?

Carotenoids are anywhere between deep red to yellow in colour, and very common. A common one is beta-carotene, which is what makes pumpkins and sweet potatoes orange. Since beta-carotene is soluble in fat, it’s mostly seen in cheese and margarine. Carotenoids are very prevalent in nature and thus very easy to produce as food dyes; they serve to collect light energy in plants and various animals consume such plants gaining reddish pigments (i.e. lobsters, flamingos, salmon, etc.). They are also found in human eyes in the form of macular pigments so eat your vegetables! Overconsumption of beta-carotene can actually cause your skin to turn orange, but it’s harmless so think of it as observing the nature of canaries.

Ever wonder why you don’t get these in bars or cookies?

This is a chemical we all come to learn about in school, but little do you know it’s a natural food colouring. Chlorophyll is found in all leafy green plants and is the cornerstone of the photosynthesis process. It’s gained popularity as a healthy alternative for artificial food dyes and you can find this colouring minty or lime snacks but since it’s affected by pH, temperature, lighting, and air uses are limited (i.e. ice cream). Well, to be honest, a lot of natural food dyes have that problem. There’s a group of more stable, semi-synthetic salt made from this called chlorophyllin that sees use in medicine as well.

Some of the few blue natural food coloring comes from a group of similar compounds called anthocyanins. They’re anywhere from black to deep purple to more or less blue, and they can be found in blueberries, grapes, black soybeans, and purple cauliflower. These are water-soluble, so they are very easy to use in foods. We’re talking sodas, jelly, even blue tortilla chips. Anthocyanins are reported by some studies to contain antioxidants capable of staving off cancer, to which the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says:

  • There was no basis for a beneficial antioxidant effect from dietary anthocyanins in humans.
  • There was no evidence of a cause and effect relationship between the consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods and protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage.
  • There was no evidence for the consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods having any “antioxidant”, “anti-cancer”, “anti-ageing”, or “healthy ageing” effects.

Not a sponsor (I drink another brand), but this stuff is pretty good. 

As of 2019, there are no clinical trials that can counter what the EFSA Panel on Dietic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (2010) stated.

A while back turmeric was all the rage for its health benefits, something about reducing inflammations. I personally know this subterranean stem, seeing it in traditional Chinese pharmacies since I was five. It’s also prevalent in Indian curry, with its almost mustard-like flavour. But what if I told you turmeric can also be used as a natural food dye? Some companies turn to use spices to colour their foods. It’s also a good acid/base indicator because when you put something basic in there it turns red.

It’s not perfect, but if you’re bored try it out.

Do you like to drink cranberry juice or eat strawberry-flavour yogurt? Are you somebody who frequents deep red cosmetics? Do you want to know what all these have in common? They can all be coloured by carmine, a natural food dye made from carminic acid. The extraction of carminic acid is quite labour-intensive; after all, you have to crush about 70,000 beetles called cochineals to produce a single pound of this stuff. Yep, this is the infamous Natural Red 4. The Aztecs once used this to dye clothes, and production was seen in Persia since at least the Middle Ages. Carmine or E.120 in the EU list of food additives has been proven to cause allergic reactions in rare cases, but at the moment both the FDA and the EU are ok because it poses no threat to the general public. The EFSA, however, decided to at the very least pull it from medicines; using artificial colours instead. If you find carmine, cochineal extract, carminic acid, cochineal, or Natural Red 4 in the ingredients list, this is it.

Yeah, considering Starbucks is frequented by teenage girls, of course, they’ll replace it.

Nowadays, people are promoting natural food colouring over the artificial ones, with YouTube DIYs on how you can make your own. I can understand, considering what they’re made from. But are they really so bad? Check out my next story to find out more. Natural food dyes may be feasible in a domestic environment, but commercially we have a long way to go. Until then, you’re gonna have to live a pretty drab life if you’re only consuming “natural” foods.

I Have A Theory…

If you didn’t catch it from my last story, I love movies. They tell a complete story in a convenient, neat little package. They captivate your eyes, ears, mouth, and I hear smell is in its experimental stages. But after I’m done watching I get all these theories, sometimes it’s enough to talk with my friends but sometimes I want to get a different, educated opinion on the subject. Film Theory (YouTube) follows the host MatPat or Matthew Patrick on his quest to talk about the logic and lore of a movie (sometimes it’s a tv show or cartoon). Granted, sometimes his theories fall flat (especially his Star Wars prediction videos) but we’re pretty much in the same boat too. It’s nice to see somebody actually putting in research for once on the crazy theories they post online.

I would have never thought of this, so I’m glad he did!

For the uninitiated, Film Theory is a branch channel shooting off from Game Theory (MatPat’s original channel). Both series pride themselves on the fact that they have research and scientific calculations backing their theories; sometimes he does overdo it, like when he compares the heights of various actors to trailer footage when it could easily be some stunt doubles (Black Widow prediction video, I’m looking at you). He likes to start off videos with a joke or some kind of fun banter, and he always ends it with his signature catchphrase (that’s just a theory, a ____ theory!). He’s such a light-hearted host and he genuinely sounds like he has fun recording his theories. He also has a channel where he live-streams games called GTLive; he plays well, doesn’t rage (often), and his reactions are great (his Doki Doki playthrough was awesome).

He can’t be right about this one!

His video on trying to predict the Black Widow video by extrapolating as much info from the trailer as possible was interesting, but it really was just a theory. I really liked how he got all this footage from past videos and events to indicate when and where. The big question of the video was who, who will be the villain of the movie. Obviously the easy answer is Taskmaster, who he gives a brief introduction to alongside Melina Vostokoff (one of Widow’s “sisters”). He obviously pays homage to the original, comic book Taskmaster Tony Masters (again with the convenient names), but he proposes that maybe it’s not him and it’s a disguise by Melina. I suggest watching the video to understand who she is, but I think that’s just another case of his overthinking. I don’t think Marvel will overlap his appearance because this is a good chance to bring him into the MCU. He fits in with this movie and he can always just partner up with Melina. This is also the perfect segway to bring him into Spider-man’s movie because he’s traditionally a Spider-man villain too. So no, I think this theory will be the next to fall flat on his face.

That was me until I forced myself to remember it’s the flat side to the spring.

The Mandalorian may have just ended, but I’m afraid the Baby Yoda Fever has just gotten started. To that end, of course, Film theory would post a theory on the cutie. Right off the bat, he makes a good point about the retirement age in the Empire. I’m sure they don’t have one, precisely for the fact that (he points out) the lifespans between species are too different. I don’t want to live in a galaxy where I’ll never get to retire… Jokes aside, the issue this time is “how come there aren’t any more Yodas”. I like this theory, it’s based on confirmable facts and it makes sense. MatPat has the sense to check what years in the Empire corresponds to here (it’s the same), and the average lifespan is before going on with his theory. He didn’t think to bet on any war, natural disaster, or internal conflict; or more like he couldn’t because there is so little known about the “Tridactyls” (fan name). George Lucas hardly put anything regarding them in the movies or canon material. Apparently, it’s to make Yoda fit the Japanese trope of the mysterious sensei. MatPat made a breakthrough with basic evolution theory, which I had completely not thought of. If this theory is proven, baby Yoda will be more than just a cute character in a spin-off. Well even without it, the “last Yoda” sure has more weight to it than Luke’s “last Jedi”; I may not be a marketing major but I sure the hell can count how many Jedis there are in the current trilogy and how many Tridactyls there are after it. This theory has the quality that’s been lacking in his Star Wars trilogy predictions, no wild guesses just reasonable deductions from solid information.

That’s more than I can remember about my first crush.

Avatar: The Last Airbender was my jam. I remember chasing the series as a kid, playing the moderately fun game on the Nickelodeon (?) website in the library, and being disappointed horribly by the movie (*shivers*). You know, I was kind of scared watching this, because I watched the Doctor Strange one and that was bad. Both Avatar and Doctor Strange features masters of elements (or something), but the Strange one tried to justify shaping reality as crystal images and magic tricks (seriously?). The same stuff that creates wormholes and manipulates time, you’re going to liken it to misdirection? And then there’s the quantum mechanics and applications of light, without explaining how a human body can create any of those forces. Granted I realize that they are just trying to explain the principles of it, but calling this debunking magic? At least in the Avatar theory, they don’t try to prove it all and focus on the natural equivalents to bending; his partnership with Nickelodeon actually worked in his favour because he’s not overdoing it.

He’s pretty good live.

Honestly, this man is whack. His ideas are SO out there sometimes, which means occasionally he’s wrong or giving the wrong idea. But that’s what’s so brilliant about this show. He thinks about the things you do and more, so it’s always a treat seeing his latest video. The fact that he can be wrong sometimes makes him feel like a fellow fan whom you can interact with on a similar level, so I don’t mind it. We’re all free to express our own ideas. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to write my own crazy theories.

Marvel Has A New Challenger!

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of watching and re-watching trailers for the Black Widow movie. I need my Marvel fix, but the release date seems so far away. So just when I was about to watch the latest trailer for the 10th time, I saw Death Battle released a new episode! And they just so happen to release a battle with Marvel and DC characters; you know that feeling when the algorithm matches your thoughts, that feeling is so eerie but it’s a necessary evil if you’re going to get your next fix of (insert niche here). Death Battle is a series I’ve been chasing for years and it covers such a wide variety of fighters; I want to share with you what I like about it.

By the way, he’s not sad for the fighter. I’m pretty sure he’s sad about Lobo’s space bike.

To the uninitiated, Death Battle is a YouTube series originally from ScrewAttack, part of Rooster Teeth Productions. But they’ve been effective on their own since February 2019. You can probably guess from the name, but it pits two characters who share some sort of similarity (same powers, traits, origin) together to fight to the death. Even if the character is a pacifist (i.e. Aang from Avatar), it assumes he/she can fight at 100% to the death to get the most accurate display of their strength. It doesn’t matter if the characters come from comics, movies, or video games; no character is safe from their grasp, and I love it. Some powers have been done so many times and sometimes I just wonder, who is the strongest? So as not to anger the fans and leave no stone unturned, they even go the extra mile and look into ANY material that they appear in. For example, Ryu from Street Fighter is (obviously) a video game character, but he’s appeared in the manga, guide books, anime, and movies. They actually go through all that material to find out all of their possible capabilities, so I’m not even angry that I have to wait a month for each episode.

That’s him (unfortunately).

I love the two hosts: Wizard or Wiz (Ben Singer) and Boomstick (Chad James). You might know Wiz from Red vs. Blue, the awesome Meta vs. Carolina fight. Funny thing is, I got to know Boomstick from Dubbletalk, the Funimation talk show that reviews the anime they air (it’s better than you think). He’s so amiable, chipper, and full of jokes; when the show ended I decided to check out his main show. You might know him from his voice work in Gen:Lock, Camp Camp, or Nomad of Nowhere. The two combine forces to become the hosts of Death Battle, with their own animated characters and lore. Wiz is a scientist who lost an arm thanks to Boomstick and a tachyon table saw, but he’s ok with it because robot arms are cool. Boomstick is a redneck with a shotgun for a stump. There are two things he loves most: beer, and crazy explosions. They have their own dynamic, with Wiz explaining the technical points and Boomstick making jokes and commentary. But it feels natural, like when they mention moments from their own “lives” (i.e. the time Boomstick’s dog ate Wiz’s devil gene candy).

Not bad, right?

For a show that does their own animation, they actually aren’t half bad. They can do 3D (i.e. Weiss vs. Mitsuru, Ryu vs. Jin), cartoon animation (Miles Morales vs. Static), and old-fashioned sprites (Mob vs. Tatsumaki). They even had a live-action fight for Nightwing vs. Daredevil, which was a real treat for fans; it wouldn’t look out of place in the real deal.

That’s what happens when you pit two 4th wall-breakers against each other.

One of my favourite episodes has to be the Deadpool vs. Pinkie Pie episode (you, you heard me right)! A Marvel character against a My Little Pony character, it was every bit as ridiculous as you just imagined times 10 (at least). Deadpool is a character who doesn’t play by the rules, which is something Pinkie Pie shares. Cartoon physics, comedic invulnerability, obsession with chimichangas, and the fact that the fourth wall is not safe around them; it’s almost scary how similar they are despite one of them being a self-serving mercenary and the other being magical pony. I love how the match didn’t even progress as “planned”, from a death battle to hopping around in past battles and then a direct confrontation with the crew. It brought back memories of cartoon characters messing around with real people. This episode is definitely the best one out of all of the episodes where ponies fight, the fact that there was that ridiculous turn of events and it worked; it didn’t feel forced because one of them wanted peace and together they celebrated Deadpool’s birthday, something Pinkie Pie is very passionate about.

This would’ve never happened without the success of Persona 5, and I’ve never been happier!

Anybody who knows me knows that one of my passions in life is JRPGs, so obviously one of my favourite Death Battles would be Weiss vs. Mitsuru (I also like RWBY, just not as much). First of all, solid info gathering with the RWBY comics and Persona 3 movies, manga, and games. The comics and manga are not so popular, and they generally have a lot of original stuff; that’s hard work. I like how they used the footage from the Persona 3 movies because the game is pretty old now (for a game), the original cinematics just isn’t going to cut it. The outcome of this fight was pretty obvious before it even started, this fight has got to be one of the most unbalanced in Death Battle history. We have one ice queen up against another, but only one is immune to ALL ice attacks. Yeah, I just don’t know (*smirk*). As for the fight itself, the 3D animation was on point. I personally prefer having stronger outlines, because the characters stick out more but it’s ok. When it was coming to an end, I was glad they chose a more graceful one instead of the usual cruel and bloody fare.

Let’s see who has the last laugh!

This series is on its 7th season right now and over a hundred fights have already been fought, you’ll be surprised what kind of fighters have already shown up. Granted not every fight is perfect (I’m looking at you, Green Lantern vs. Ben 10), but seeing fighters that would’ve never met otherwise fight is so cool! These days, they’re able to put more effort into it so there are bloopers and podcasts discussing development too. This beats fighting with local nerds over small details any day; man, what a time to be alive. See you at next week’s Black Canary vs. Sindel!

What To Expect: From Mars Exploration

This year is starting off rough for Mars exploration. On January 20, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity was moving its arm around (I’m assuming it’s to collect more samples) when suddenly it stopped. Apparently, its observation of its altitude (position in space) went wrong, so it couldn’t do its regular safety protocols and calculate the proper angles for its arm. Without those measurements, it runs the risk of smashing its arm against a boulder. NASA got it fixed in a day, which sounds pretty good for something that landed in 2012.

It looks like a place on Earth, actually.

Thinking back, it’s been an eventful decade for Mars exploration. The rovers Spirit and Opportunity alongside the bigger Curiosity working with the InSight lander on observing the surface; this whole project is a huge investment with a total of three orbiters: Mars Odyssey, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN). Of course, we can’t forget about the emergence of other powers who want a piece of Mars: India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), and Europe’s Mars Express orbiter and Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).  The team found definite proof that Mars was inhabitable (give or take millions of years), and the next item on the agenda is, according to Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California): finding definite proof of life there.

The overall shape is pretty much the same, isn’t it?

Big plans are coming for Mars from a variety of powers; the space race for Mars is kicking into high gear, no more cute baby steps. Pretty soon Curiosity will have two new colleagues; the two new rovers will be leaving for Mars sometime around July 2020. One from NASA and one from a joint European-Russian commission, the Rosalind Franklin (because it’s going to look for life, huh). The other rover, (currently unnamed, temporarily Mars 2020) will follow the age-old tradition of having students name it; NASA shrank the number of candidates to three each from primary, middle, and high school, totalling nine. There’s a website open for the public to vote on the winning name; better hurry, the contest will end on the 28th. As for me, I’m partial to Promise or Perseverance. The Rosalind Franklin is the second wave of the European-Russian ExoMars program that sent the TGO. China is launching their own rover-orbiter mission at pretty much the exact same time as NASA and the ESA. India is launching one, Japan, UAE, everybody wants a bit of Mars. What I’m getting from all of this is NASA and the nations of Earth, are getting serious about colonizing Mars. Everybody is afraid to drop out and possibly die, huh? Who knows, all I know is Elon Musk is trying his hardest to commercialize space travel NOW. SpaceX’s Starship Mars-colonizing vehicle is currently in development and it seems like they want to start talking about colonization within the decade. If they’re successful, this could mean the second coming of the East India Company or the UAC from Doom (2016).

Back to the present, Rosalind Franklin is expected to go in March 2021. It’s most likely aiming for Oxia Planum, a plain in the planet’s northern hemisphere that has many signs of ancient water activity. There it will use its scientific equipment to find visual and chemical evidence of life. But wait, what if it’s underground? After all, there’s a good chance it’s buried. Well, good thing the Rosalind comes with a drill that can dig up to 6.5 feet (2 metres). As for Mars 2020, it’s scheduled to land in February 2021 onto the 28 mile-wide (45km) Jezero Crater which scientists think is an ancient lake bed. There the rover will use its equipment to observe the fine textures in the rocks, because certain bacteria are responsible for certain rock formations here on Earth. Using regular methods of sampling would simply tell us it has carbon, end of story. Lakebeds are also really good at preserving signs of life, even long after the water has left. But obviously this still isn’t enough, they learned that lesson well enough with the Viking lander and its analyses of the Red Planet meteorite ALH84001. Which is why the Mars 2020 will collect 20 or so samples and send them to Earth, with some help from other pieces of equipment. It’s going to be this huge joint mission between NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency), and it’s DEFINITELY going to happen (probably, the budget hasn’t been approved yet). The current theory is NASA will launch the Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL) plan in 2026. The plan details a lander from NASA, a rover to retrieve the samples and a specialized rocket from the ESA. The samples will come back at approximately the next decade, no promises. Oh, and there’s the ground-penetrating radar that can look for underground sources of water and equipment supposedly capable of creating oxygen on Mars. You know, no biggie.

Sol 0 is a pretty neat game, the fact that it’s always those cumbersome rockets gives a sense of reality.

Mars Exploration has everybody excited; whether you’re old or young, Asian or European. Heck, Catherine: Full Body (a Japanese game) has the main character sign up for space colonization as one of its endings, and that’s an adult block-pushing puzzle game to decide your fate! It certainly has that race for Africa feel, and it’s anyone’s guess on whether or not it’s too much too soon. I think this is a good step forward, it’s better than using it for war anyway.

Japan must be in cahoots with Elon Musk!

 

What To Expect: Common Food Additives

Humanity loves food. After (some of us) have conquered the need for food, we began pursuing different ways of preparing it. This is natural, as our sense of taste originates in what we perceive as nourishing. At some point, however, we’ve begun to treat food as a form of entertainment. Changing ingredients, inventing and perfecting techniques, incorporating unnatural concepts; yet none of them was enough, so we began pondering what is flavour and what triggers it. And thus the first artificial food additives were born. I know what you’re thinking, “eww, disgusting and bad for you!”. Let’s take a deeper look into some common ones first, because at the very least it’s delicious and bad for you.

The original name “Aji-no-Moto” means the source of flavour.

  1. MSG
    We’re all familiar with it, we love to put it in everything (savoury). Its purpose is to enhance the flavour of all things savoury, not a replacement for salt as some might think. It’s the sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is found naturally in tomatoes, grapes, cheeses, etc. Monosodium glutamate has been the subject of much debate since a 1969 study stated it caused considerable neurological damage and stunted growth. But how does it go about doing that when it can’t even pass through the blood-brain barrier? Thanks to fervent advertising of this fake report and the inability of the masses to think for themselves, a decades-long misunderstanding was born. I suppose it might cause weight gain and metabolic syndromes, by enhancing the flavour of foods that can do that. There really isn’t a cause for alarm, although it’s still an artificial additive. It’s designed to add flavour, which not everyone is accustomed to. Some people even get headaches, sweating, and numbing from overconsumption of it. In one study, 61 people were either given 5 grams of MSG or a placebo. To my surprise, a third of the participants really showed negative reactions while only a quarter reacted to the placebo. If your friend displays these traits and they eat a lot of fast food and take-out, tell him/her to try eating fresh for a while. But there’s no need to overreact to MSG, so feel free to eat at your neighbourhood Chinese restaurant!

    Go the extra mile and get the good bacon.

  2. Sodium Nitrite
    Do you LOVE bacon? Can’t resist the taste of cheap, processed meats? Then there’s a good chance you’re having a hearty amount of sodium nitrite with it. Processors like to put it in because it’s a good preservative. Goodbye bacteria, hello salty flavour and reddish-pink colour.
    There’s just a teensy-weensy problem.
    It reacts negatively to heat and amino acids (which are what proteins are made of), turning it into the carcinogen nitrosamine. Nitrates and nitrosamine raise the chances of stomach cancer, according to one study. Others tell of raised risks of colorectal, breast and bladder cancer. Do yourself a favour and try to cut out processed meats as much as possible; don’t be swayed by the bacon memes and stay strong, or at least get the better stuff. Making some yourself shouldn’t be too hard either, there are many commercial smokers out there.

    It kinda looks like couscous.

  3. Guar Gum
    You know, when I first heard about this term all I could think about was negative terms. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat something that sounds like it can gum up my insides. But it’s actually made from guar seeds; they’re mainly grown in India, Australia, Africa, and America. The seeds are mechanically dehusked, hydrated, milled and screened and you get a fine, off white powder. It basically acts as a filler; if it’s a liquid, it thickens it. In doughs, it can (to a certain extent) substitute the yield and improve the thickness which is necessary for whole-grain flours because it leaks gas in the leavening process (when bread rises). It’s famously used in ice cream as a thickener if you don’t want to use eggs or xanthan gum. You can also see it in soups, ranch dressing, ketchup, frozen food, and pastry filling. This stuff is good for you, it’s a good source of fibre and it makes you feel full for fewer calories. One study even shows that it can help relieve bowel conditions like bloating and constipation. Other studies even go as far as to say it can help to lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol. However, be careful of diet foods and supplements that have them. Putting aside real or fake, since this stuff expands and thickens so well the EU bans it in diet pills; for fear of clogging your intestines and esophagus. The FDA restricts how much it can be added to food products for the same reason. On the plus side, it is gluten-free. In the 1980s, it was heavily used in and advertised as a weight-loss product. However, due to the fact that it can expand 10-20 times its size, it caused quite a few hospitalizations despite being water-soluble. One brand alone sent ten people in, one of them didn’t make it. In conclusion, just don’t eat too much of it. Follow the recipe when you make ice cream and feel free to use whole-grain flour in baking.

    You don’t have to add enough marmite to salt a fish, ok?

  4. Yeast Extract
    This doesn’t sound appetizing, does it? But this, like MSG, is used to flavour foods by boosting the umami of the food. It can be found in soy sauce, gravy, frozen food, Lay’s, etc. But what can you extract from yeast, you might ask. Well, when you have nothing but cells that’s what you shake out. Yeast extract is made from a mixture of yeast cells and sugar, in a warm environment, in a centrifuge. The mixture is heated beforehand so the cell walls are damaged, and when the centrifuge activates it shakes out the cell wall and the insides are all that’s left. I realize that sounds gross, but when you consider these are just the insides of cells you would otherwise consume in other foods it shouldn’t be that jarring.
    This additive may seem foreign to us, but it’s been very familiar to Europeans for over a hundred years. Yeast extract, which is a byproduct of beer brewing, has been used to make marmite from the UK and vegemite from Australia. By the way, marmite and vegemite were invented by two different people. If you have the chance, try them both side to side. Just don’t be THAT kind of foreigner and put a whole bunch on a cracker. A popular way to eat it is to add a thin layer to your avocado toast; the salty malty flavour adds to the avocado. Both marmite and vegemite are good sources of vitamin B, and they can be used in a lot of things.
    Yeast extract is not only a good source of vitamin B, but it also contains glutamic acid just like fermented foods; which is an amino acid that gives off an umami flavour. It’s found in cheese, meat, mushrooms, tomatoes, even broccoli.

There’s a lot more I wanted to talk about (like artificial colours), but they deserve their own articles so I’ll hold off for next week. Additives, by their definition, aren’t necessarily all harmful. They’re crystallizations (sometimes literally) of human food research, so just be careful around them. Especially those who follow strict diets, don’t want to accidentally eat something coloured with crushed beetles now do you? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have McDonald’s takeout to enjoy.

I just couldn’t resist, be stronger than me!