Archive for Evil

A Little Bird Valentine

Little Bird is more metal than you.

This is my daughter, the Little Bird. This photo is a few years old, but she’s still pretty bad ass.

Today she brought home the Valentine she created for me at school. Pretty standard, hand-written stuff. Heart on the front.

Then I opened it and read it.

One note before you get to feel the love:

She has a friend who has a goldfish. Little Bird came home after visiting said friend one day last week and asked if she could have one, too. Why not, right? What’s it cost, like ten bucks at Wally World to get her all set up? It’s a no-brainer for her next birthday present this Spring.

There. Now here’s the card:

Dear Dad,

You are the best dad ever. I like beating you at Candyland. It is fun beating you at every single game. It is nice of you to let me have a fish. You are the best dad ever when I beat you at games.

Love,
[Little Bird]

Translation:

You’re cool because I can beat your ass at games and you buy me stuff.

Maybe I should buy her a piranha.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Why the Hell Would You Eat That? McD’s Fries

It doesn’t take a genius to understand McDonald’s food isn’t great for you, and after seeing Supersize Me, I tend to avoid the golden arches as best I can. There are times, however, I’m in a hurry or I want to let the Rugrats abuse the McD’s indoor playplace, so I cave and order something.

This time we’d just finished a veterinary visit for our cat and needed to grab something quick on the way home. McD’s was handy and convenient. As I ate my fries, I recalled a claim that, “McDonald’s fries haven’t been within two miles of a real potato.” I was never sure that was accurate, but the fries certainly don’t look or taste like fresh-cut fries I get at some restaurants, or like fried potatoes made at home.

I know someone who worked for McDonald’s briefly in the ’60s, and she said potatoes used to be delivered directly to the restaurants. Today, a manager I know says the fries are delivered pre-cut and ready for the frier. So what’s really in them?

To the Internet! Here’s a video of how McDonald’s fries are made, courtesy McD’s Canada:

At first, it seems all is well. Lots of potatoes, peeled and sliced and sent off to the restaurants where they’re fried in canola oil. Okay, fair enough. But let’s listen a little closer, shall we?

At the 2:10 mark, Mario says:

Once the potatoes are cut, we push the strips through a blancher to remove the natural sugars from the strips. This will prevent some variation in our color once we re-cook the product.

So McD’s fries are blanched to remove natural flavoring? WTF?

So following the blanching process, we add a dextrose solution to add that nice even coat we see at the restaurants.

They “remove the natural sugars” but then turn around and add dextrose, a sugar. And then it gets a little scarier:

We also add an ingredient to our strips to make sure we prevent the graying of our product throughout the process.

Note he doesn’t tell us what this ingredient is. I’d have to guess it’s some kind of preservative, or something like a bleaching agent. I’m no organic nut, but it seems to me we just don’t need that crap. McD’s, if you’re going to go through the trouble to tell us how you’re doctoring up our food, at least have the balls to fess up on the mystery ingredient.

Keep watching and we learn after the fries are sprayed with the mystery ingredient, they’re dried, fried, and frozen. In other words, they’re cooked twice before they leave the factory, then they’re re-fried (read: re-heated) at the restaurant.

I don’t get it.

Their point to this video seems to be, “Hey, look, we use real potatoes!” My takeaway is more like, “We care more about how the food looks than what’s in it.” Most of the flavor in these things is the salt. Hold the salt and a McD’s french fry doesn’t necessarily taste bad, but it sure doesn’t taste like a regular potato. Most of their flavor is marketing.

There’s a bar not far from here that slices their potatoes in-house. Order them loaded and you get real shredded cheese and chopped bacon, not cheese sludge and bacon bits. They cost a little more, but I’ll take their fries over McD’s any time.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Kids Freak Me Out

I told my kid a little about Children of the Corn.

Child of the Corn

When you see it…

Yeah. I think I’ll sleep with the lights on, now.

And string a bunch of pots and pans across his bedroom door.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Karate Rap

This kind of shit is why most people don’t take martial arts seriously.

On one level, whoever wrote the song seems to have at least a basic understanding of what they’re talking about. Sadly, they had no idea how to write a song, and they should be flogged for the parakeet rhyme alone.

Yes, parakeet. But I’d be shocked if most of you can make it that far into the video.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

McDonald’s Will Kill Us All

When the Superflu comes, McDonald’s will be the vector.

I let the kids talk me into McDonald’s for lunch because it’s one of the few places we can get something to eat and then I can get some work done while they stay occupied on the indoor playground. I always end up regretting it, but today my regret went to a whole new level. Check out the photo below of their service counter, shot in the middle of the lunch rush.

McDonald's will be the death of us

Not pictured: the Grim Reaper and the circling buzzards

Looks like any typical day at a McDonald’s, which most of you have seen before, right? Right. Now let’s take a closer look at these people, from left to right.

The boy in the black baseball cap is probably nine or ten years old. He walked up to the counter, and he rested both elbows on somebody else’s tray.

The old lady in the obnoxious shirt has set her purse on someone else’s tray. The manager in the black shirt is not bothered by this in the slightest as she sets food on the trays around it.

On the other side of the counter, you can just make out a shorter employee in a yellow cap. Just a moment ago she exchanged cash with a customer, directly over someone else’s uncovered french fries and a chicken sandwich. Her arm passed within an inch of the fries, and do I need to remind anyone how filthy cash is? I may have just become a germophobe. Also, minutes after this photo was taken, I told her I still needed my daughter’s chocolate milk. See the cooler on the right in the background? She couldn’t reach into the back, so she knelt on a stack of trays and used it as a step stool. The same trays which are about to go onto the counter for customers’ food.

On to the lady in the blue t-shirt. She had the sense to push a tray back a bit to set down her purse, as the tray had food on it already. However, she then leaned over the tray to speak to the cashier. Had it been my food, I would have asked them to take it away and make me some food that other people hadn’t breathed on. Or potentially spat on if she ordered something with a lot of P sounds.

So what’s the lesson here? Order everything to go so it’s in a bag while it’s sitting on the counter? No, the lesson is to stay the fuck out of McDonald’s until they fix their horrible line management and customer order practices.

This ordering system is a mess in general. People are forced to negotiate their own spot in line and nobody seems to know when it’s their turn to order. Then there’s nowhere for them to stand after they’ve placed their order, so there’s constantly someone in the way. This is compounded by groups of people—usually parents with small children—who don’t have the sense to have some of their group sit and wait at a table rather than near the counter. Having to watch total strangers breathe on, lean on, and handle cash over food is injury on top of insult.

The drink station is just as bad. People jam their way around it, cut in line, stand there for ten minutes while their kids decide what they want, allow their kids to attempt to fill their own cups and make a mess, stand in the way while they wrestle with lids and straws, and generally do their best to create a traffic jam. Once again, this is compounded by groups, especially parents who keep their swarms of children around them while they fill drinks. They ran out of lids, they later ran out of tea, and because the ketchup is at the same station, you have to wait for all the drink jerks to get out of the way so you can get your ketchup.

I have to assume McDonald’s went to this new setup to speed things up. It’s got to be faster than the single line through a corral, right? Apparently not. It’s like the toll plazas all around Chicago: they added a whole bunch of booths, and now the traffic jam occurs after the booth, when people have to fight their way back into fewer lanes, rather than before the booth, when they’re stacked up to pay.

News flash, McDonald’s: the food doesn’t cook any faster. Now you just have to try to fill ten orders at a time instead of two or three.

“Welcome to McDonald’s! If our food doesn’t kill you, our horrible line management practices will.”

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

SOPA Must Die

If you surfed the Web Wednesday, I’m sure you ran into a SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) blackout somewhere. If none of that made sense to you, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s one-page summary of the problems with SOPA.

It’s a good example of Congressmen not understanding what they’re legislating, or what they’re asking this legislation itself to accomplish. A SOPA supporter and PIPA (SOPA’s sister, the Protect Intellectual Property Act) co-sponsor Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) recently posted copyrighted video to his own YouTube channel. His excuse? “YouTube is excluded from the bill as it is written right now.”

Say what?

This means posting copyrighted clips to YouTube violates the spirit of the law, but not the word of the law. In other words, someone can upload pirated crap to YouTube and get a free pass. (Or, more likely, it’s a matter of “We’re afraid of Google’s lawyers.”)

Make no mistake, this is not about protecting the little guy, it’s about protecting big corporate bucks in the guise of protecting the little guy. Do the Hollywood unions like the WGA, SAG, or the production support unions support these bills? Not the general membership. In fact, most creators oppose SOPA, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep Lamar Smith, says they don’t count. It’s all about the lobbyists who are protecting their own interests.

As a creator myself, I’m not a fan of pirates. In fact, I would prefer to deal with pirates like this:

Whoops, I guess that would get my site blacklisted! No, wait, the video is on YouTube. Guess I’m golden after all? Brain hurts. Moving on.

No, I’m not a fan of piracy. But I’m also not convinced they’re doing as much harm to me as some think, and I’m sure as hell not convinced protecting my meager income by destroying the very network I’m leveraging to make a living is going to do a damned thing to help any of us.

The worst case scenario? We end up with a censored, restricted Internet that countries like China and Iran have. We rally behind freedom of speech and condemn other countries for blocking their citizens from access to information, yet we’re attempting to pass legislation to give corporations the same capabilities to shut down websites that China and Iran have. It’ll be a new age of digital McCarthyism, where Hollywood will point a finger and someone will get blacklisted.

It just boggles the mind.

Here are the 67 pinheads (as of this writing) who think $$$ trumps freedom. SOPA may be “shelved” for now, but that’s not good enough, and PIPA has to die with it. Make sure these people understand the damage they’re trying to do, even if it’s just by taking a few seconds to sign petitions like Google’s.

UPDATE

Khan Academy has posted an excellent video explaining SOPA and its problems, as well as outlining some of the scarier provisions of the bill.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Cat Can Go to Hell

Our cat wanted out. I told him he wouldn’t like it. He insisted. So I let him out.

He figured out pretty quick it’s cold and rainy and just sucks in general out there. So he came to the window and wanted in. I went up and let him in.

Then he wanted out again. Once again, he decided it was a bad idea.

Cat wanted out. Weather hasn’t changed in the last twenty minutes. Cat wants in.

Cat wanted out. Cat got rained on. Cat came to the window.

I’m done being his doorman.

Cat can go to Hell.

Cat Can Go to Hell

How do you like THIS bird?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Trick-or-Treat!

The Oliveris don’t screw around on Halloween: we walk door-to-door until our legs give out, hitting every single house with the porch light on. We see a lot of people driving their kids around, or only visiting certain houses, and that just doesn’t make sense to me.

The Rugrats in Costume

Morticia, a chainsaw killer, and a Grim Reaper

My kids all opt to dress as something horror-related, which makes me a proud papa. It bums me out seeing all these kids dressed as clowns, fairies, princesses, bugs, and (this year) Cardinals baseball players. Yeah, I know that’s their idea of fun, but come on! It’s Halloween, people! Haunted houses and ghost stories! While we did see a few other reapers, skeletons, and ghost-faced killers, they were in the minority.

Little Bird Snarling

Tomorrow she cuts her first black metal album

We chose a new route this year, and according to Google Maps we logged a hair over two miles. I was ready to take the kids down three more blocks, but they were done. In fact, the oldest had collected so much loot, the handles on his bag broke just as we hit the last block before home.

Chainsaw Killer

"Leatherface was a pussy!"

We got our first religious paraphernalia this year, too. Some old lady handed out a little booklet called “The Devil’s Night” and a book on 101 favorite Bible stories. The latter is a full-sized book and is actually kind of nice, but the little pamphlet is a comic book telling kids Halloween is evil and leads them to witchcraft. I’ll scan it and post it when I have time. It’s pretty bad, even for what it’s trying to do.

Phantom Reaper

"Your candy... or your SOUL!"

The middle child, dressed as a reaper, didn’t get anything from the old lady. I didn’t hear the conversation and didn’t find out what they got until after we were walking away, but the kids said she claimed she only had two books left. I half wonder if she figured the poor little guy was already damned and she didn’t want to go near him.

If only I’d refilled my Zippo…

Trick-or-Treat Loot

They made out like bandits!

On a positive note, we also ran into our first adult trying to scare people. I spotted a scarecrow on a porch, and I thought it looked a little sketchy so I kept my flashlight on him as the kids approached. Just before they got to the door, he jumped up and said “Happy Halloween!” The kids jumped and I got a good laugh out of it. Good to see some people in town still have the Halloween spirit. I heard another family had a haunted house in their garage and gave out full-sized candy bars to everyone who went through, so we’ll have to look for them next year.

All in all, we had a good night and landed more candy than the kids will be able to eat for the next few months. We got so much, in fact, the Wife and I are taking two gallon bags of the stuff to our respective workplaces, and we still have more than enough left for the kids.

Now that the kids are getting a little older, maybe next year we can look at decorating our own place. Muhahahahahah!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Great American Fake

I don’t think I’ll ever eat at Great American Steak again.

We went to the mall looking for a smoothie joint, couldn’t find one, then decided we were hungry for a regular meal after all. One would think sandwiches would be just fine.

One would be wrong.

I last ate at one of these when they were still called Great Steak & Potato. I guess it was too expensive to keep real potatoes around? They have the same sandwiches but ditched the baked potatoes, and now have frozen crinkle-cut fries instead of the fresh-cut fries and peanut oil fryer. Lame. Also, the “All Natural Lemonade?” Not so much. I expected a lemon shakeup but got some concentrate bullshit no better than soda.

My son wanted to eat at the Famous Wok across the court. I told him that’s crap Chinese, not near as good as some of the places we go to. Too much MSG. Thirty seconds later, I watched the guy at Great American Steak sprinkle something on our sandwiches. I’m betting MSG, because while the Wife didn’t get violently ill, she could only stomach half her sandwich. The Rugrats opted for the chicken fingers and were just fine.

And now I’m reminded of why I don’t eat in the mall food courts anymore.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Dental Insurance: Part Deux

Several phone calls to the insurance company mean I’ll be keeping my wisdom teeth for a bit longer. Their payout isn’t horrible, but their annual max doesn’t even cover half of the prospective charges.

Not to mention we’ve already cut into a chunk of that by just going to our cleanings and examinations. What a load of horseshit.

I’m just going to call this guy:

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Extract THIS, Ya Bastards

So this is what the inside of my face looks like:

Yeah, that tooth is just a little crooked.

You didn't know I was the Ghost Rider, did you?

See that sideways tooth on the bottom left? That’s my right wisdom tooth.

I have no pain, but my dentist was concerned about it and suggested I go consult an oral surgeon. Six months later, my next dental appointment rolled around.

“Did you do anything about those wisdom teeth?” he asked, knowing full well I had not.

So I went to the damned oral surgeon. They sat me down in a chair to wait, and directly across from me was a tray of tools, most of which were concealed beneath a drape.

US Navy 060516-N-1745W-039 Hospital Corpsman Steffon Corna sets up dental tools for a tooth extraction in the Dental Department aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

Is it safe?

Meh. I’ve seen tools before. I’m really not worried about surgery. The oral surgeon came in, took a quick look at my bottom wisdom teeth, and said he would take out all four.

This does not shock me. One of my top wisdom teeth is making like it wants to poke through at any time, and I know it’s easier for him to go in there and take them all out at once. Then I don’t have to deal with two surgeries and two recoveries. Hell, it may even be a good time to try the reboot diet since my face will have been flayed open and I won’t be able to eat normal for a while.

He said “Okay, I’ll send in the office girls to go over the insurance with you.”

Right on. I have insurance. It’s cool. I can use a few days off work.

Office girl came in with a fat stack of papers. To my relief, it was just a pad of the same form over and over and over. It basically said “If we screw this up, you can’t sue us.” Whatevs. Scribble. I’ll just kick his skull in instead.

Then she handed me the quote, and the real terror began.

Dental Quote

The horror... the horror...

They’ve got to be kidding. Yes, this is sans insurance, but one would think they’d have told me this before sticking it in my face. Also, one would think they would tell me they are not in my insurance network before I sat down and agreed to have my face ripped apart.

It occurs to me, this isn’t a bill to pay for the surgery. No, it’s a bill to assure me the surgery will go well. That I won’t feel anything while he’s in there gouging out chunks of my jaw with a carving knife.

It occurs to me I can save a ton of money if I ask my karate instructor to put a few well-placed punches into the side of my face.

Time to make a few calls.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

An Exercise in Restraint

Two years ago, the diamond fell out of the Wife’s wedding ring. I finally got it replaced and surprised her with it Wednesday night. Here’s how things went down on her Facebook page:

Facebook Comments

9 weepy women and 1 dude

Softy? Sweet? Bah. I could have ruined it all with just one video. So, so tempted.

But I exercised epic levels of restraint (for me, anyway) and did not post the following:

I don’t know, maybe I really am getting soft.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.