m&m color conspiracy

As Katie pointed out, the folks behind M&Ms are auditioning new colors — pink, purple, and aqua. This may seem like a simple publicity ploy, an attempt to draw attention to a candy some would say has passed its prime. I say: no. This is a sinister plot, nothing less.
You may remember the last time a new color was added to the M&M menagerie, 1995, when purple, pink, and blue were candidates for entry. The “competition” got all sorts of attention from lemming-like media types. But two salient facts usually go unmentioned:
1. The contest was a fix! Purple and pink are far too close together on the color wheel for voters to successfully differentiate them. The pro-purple/pink axis had its votes split, while blue was allowed to run with the support of a united party. Just as Nader cost Gore the election by splitting the liberal vote, pink cost purple the vote by siphoning off its support, leaving blue to romp to an easy victory. I hate to be cynical, but I wouldn’t be surprised if M&M had already bought huge vats of blue dye when the voting began — the fix was in from the very start.
(One could, I imagine, argue that purple cost pink the election, not the other way around. Highly doubtful to these eyes — I’m not sure America is gay-friendly enough yet to go pink.)
Notice that this time around pink and purple are back in the voting, which will no doubt lead to more Florida-style allegations of vote fraud. But at least blue was a legitimate, strong candidate — aqua is such a spectacularly poor color choice that it’s possible purple could pull it out, despite M&M’s best efforts to keep it down.
2. At NO point during the 1995 election was it made clear that the addition of a new color would come at the expense of one of the old ones. While the charade of a fair election was being forcefed to the American public, M&M executives were secretly plotting the demise of that most noble of M&M colors, tan. Had the question been phrased fairly — “Would you, the American public, prefer that we keep the noble tan in our M&Ms, or would you rather it be summarily replaced with the usurper color of your choice, blue, purple, or pink (even though those last two are awfully similar)?” — the groundswell of tan support would have been earthshattering.
Instead, the public was hoodwinked into thinking they were voting for the addition of a color, not the elimination of an old favorite. It’s as if your mom asked you one day, “Honey, would you like a little brother or sister?” You think about it and say, “Yeah! That’d be great — a new little kid to play with! I wonder which one I’d prefer, a boy or a girl?” Then, a year or so later, along comes your new little baby brother — and next thing you know, Mom’s put you up for adoption, ‘cuz she just don’t need you any more. “Oh, sorry, honey — didn’t I tell you that we were just going to swap you out?”
What isn’t the American public being told this time around? If aqua edges in to the pack, who gets cut out? Who’s next on the chopping block, yellow? It’s sort of tannish, a “boring” color that probably doesn’t have the highest Q rating. Or could it be green? Orange? Brown? I bet blue’s feeling pretty good about itself, but the tide could turn quickly — M&Ms could kill off its young starlet awful quick if it wanted to.
Once Congress is done digging through the corpse of Enron, I demand a full investigation. True, some would call it a fishing expedition, and it could touch on other hot-button issues, like the peanut-butter M&M debacle, the E.T Reese’s Pieces scandal, or perhaps even the Good & Plenty money laundering cases of the early 1980s. But justice must be done. Justice must be done.

home movies from late 1970s

I haven’t yet posted about the other highlight of my weekend back home in Rayne. On Mazie‘s birthday, a bunch of family came over, and conversation turned for some reason to the family vacations we took in the late 1970s. At the time, my aunts and uncles were starting to pop out babies (I’m an only child, so my first cousins are the closest sibling equivalents I’ve got), and we took a couple summer trips across the south. (I’ve mentioned these trips before, although I got the chronology wrong in the previous post — three of the four trips I described were actually combined in one 1978 jaunt.)
Anyway, someone mentioned that my uncle Alton had taken an old 8mm film camera along on these trips. These films hadn’t been watched in at least 15 years, probably longer. Upon learning of these films, I immediately dispatched a search team to Alton’s attic; they returned with four canisters of film and a non-functioning, dust-encrusted projector.
Another uncle managed to get the projector working (through the careful use of a rubber band, I kid you not — try that with a Pentium), and soon enough I was watching the 1- and 2-year-old versions of Josh, enjoying life at some of the region’s great tourist traps. Some observations:
– My grandmother, as much as I love her, should have been punished at some point for the things she made me wear. There’s a sailor suit I wish could be forever stricken from my permanent record. Alas, Super 8 does not lie.
– I had forgotten that I had a thing against going down playground slides the standard, butt-down way. For some reason, I convinced myself at an early age that going stomach-down was much more fun. Inevitably, this led to tummy-burn.
– All of us cousins (there were four born at this time, with three more to come along in the next few years) were cursed with parents dedicated to the forcing the knee-high-brown-socks-with-shorts look upon us.
– A cabbie named Irving Schaeffer showed us around Washington, D.C. one day. I know this because his name was emblazoned on the side of his cab. I also know that he was very, very nice, because his legend has survived among my aunts and uncles to this day, 24 years later.
– Uncle Alton evidently believed that filming endless miles of interstate highway through rural Alabama was a good way to use his precious Super 8 resources.
– My family had a habit of setting down the camera in front of an important building — say, the Capitol — standing shoulder-to-shoulder in line, then walking slowly toward the camera. In other words, my family invented the opening shot of Reservoir Dogs.
– Speaking of legends that have survived for decades: we tried to go to Graceland in 1978. Family legend has it that we waited in line to enter Elvis’ home, but the sky turned a horrific black and we were chased away in fear of approaching rain. Film evidence, however, clearly refutes that notion: the 1978 Memphis sky is as blue as can be.
– Seeing Roy Acuff’s house and the Country Music Wax Museum were clearly formative events in my family’s life.
– When eating cake, my cousin T-Ron had a habit at age 2 of grabbing some icing, looking at it, and smearing it on his right knee.
I’m hoping to get these reels (and others I haven’t yet seen) transfered to VHS so they can be preserved for posterity (and future T-Ron biographers). If anybody’s got a company to recommend to do the job, let me know.

pitcairn honey

For those of you who read my Pitcairn Island stories (linked a couple of entries below), you may have noticed my reference to the island’s honey. Since the few bees on the island have been segregated from other populations for so long, they haven’t developed a couple of diseases that, evidently, have afflicted just about every other bee in the world in the last century. Plus, all the fruit that grows on Pitcairn (which all tastes absolutely amazing) has always been pesticide-free, so the bees have only top-notch stuff to pollinate.
The result is that Pitcairn honey is probably the best honey in the world. I brought some back from the island (I had to sneak it through customs at LAX, since it was an unacceptable agricultural product from overseas). A coworker of mine who loves honey — he buys the imported French stuff for beaucoup bucks — said it was far and away better than the honey he pays top dollar for.
I mention all this because you can now buy the honey for a very reasonable price, $5 a jar. If you’re a honey lover, it’ll be worth it, I can assure you.

dallasnews.com makeover

It’s a new look for my employer’s web site. Critiques? I’m mixed: I think the bolder type on the front isn’t bad (if a little too MSNBC, down to the typeface), but the color scheme makes grey a little too dominant, and the yellow story boxes beneath the main header (and all over pages like this) look a little amateurish. Actually, that yellow looks awful in bulk, sort of jaundicey. And there are uneven-white-space-around-text-box issues all over the site.
Okay, maybe my feelings aren’t all that mixed at all, but really, it’s not so bad. (Anyway, TXCN needs a facelift much more than dallasnews.com or wfaa.com did.)


Want to email a dangerous Islamic militant? Well, according to the New York Times, you can send your missive to kidnapperguy@hotmail.com — that’s the email address used for hostage negotiation by the militants who’ve kidnapped a Wall Street Journal reporter.
It’d be great if someone could hack into that account — aren’t there enough holes in Hotmail security for someone to get in? Or maybe someone should just start trying passwords, like “iloveosama” or “unveiledgirls” or “diegreatsatan.” (Or “d1egre@ts@t@n”?)

calvin trillin on boudin

New Yorker readers: I direct your attention to the piece on page 46 of the Jan. 28 issue. It’s a funny bit by my hero Calvin Trillin on the hunt for the best boudin in south Louisiana. (Boudin, if you don’t know, is a delicious Cajun sausage made of rice, pork, liver, and seasoning. Calvin’s been writing about the wonders of Cajun food at least since The Tummy Trilogy in the ’70s.)
The main character in the tale is James Edmunds, one of Calvin’s friends in New Iberia, former head honcho of the once-great Times of Acadiana weekly newspaper, and (oh by the way) a blogger his own bad self.
I was once lucky enough to eat a seven-course meal of nutria rat with Calvin and James, which remains one of the highlights of my life. But that’s a story for another day.
My favorite quote from the story: “When I am daydreaming of boudin, it sometimes occurs to me that of all the indignities the Acadians of Louisiana have had visited upon them — being booted out of Nova Scotia, being ridiculed as rubes and swamp rats by neighboring Anglophones for a couple of centuries, being punished for speaking their own language in the schoolyard — nothing has been as deeply insulting as what restaurants outside South Louisiana present as Cajun food.” Too true.
In related news, Calvin’s got a new novel out.