November 2005 Archives

what i learned on thanksgiving


What I Learned on Thanksgiving

Our dog, Cassidy, will wear a festive, holiday-themed bandanna without protest if one is tucked into her collar. Will she like it? Not really. Will she look cute? You better believe it. Is the bandanna reversible? Yes – Thanksgiving on one side, Christmas on the other. Do we have three other reversible bandannas for upcoming holidays? Oh, hell yes.

"" is an answer in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Trivial Pursuit. Unscientific research has determined that, if you are unsure about an answer in this game, your best odds are to guess "Belarus", "Kurt Cobain", "John Updike", or "Sweden".

My father is wrong about meat thermometers. He is on record claiming that they are "overrated", and that you "might as well just cut into it" if you want to see if your turkey is done. The day after Thanksgiving, at a different gathering, a meat thermometer calculated our turkey's cooking temperature in both Celsius and Farenheit, and also projected when the bird would be done with pinpoint accuracy. In fairness to my dad, that meat thermometer appears to be from the future, but if anything, it is underrated. And if we keep underestimating it, that meat thermometer will kill us all. Just not with salmonella.

Denver Broncos quarterback Jake "The Snake" Plummer is not particularly snake-like. People sometimes claim, "Oh, he's elusive, like a snake," or, "He often gets ill-advised passes intercepted, like a snake," but really, no one ever thought Jake Plummer was treacherous or venomous. The only reason he got that nickname is that "Jake" is one of the few male names that rhymes with the name of a dangerous animal. Currently, Plummer does have the best mustache in professional sports, narrowly edging out Jeff Kent and Bill Cowher. However, snakes cannot grow facial hair. That is a fact of science.

The dog would really like some turkey, if there's extra. Or turkey bones. Or turkey skin. Or even turkey fat. The dog isn't picky. Did you just eat some turkey? Or just throw a turkey bone in the trash? The dog would love to lick your fingers. OK, fine, but if you change your mind, the dog will be out in the garage.

It is a sad sign of one's maturity and old-growing when the most exciting part of Thanksgiving dinner is roasted brussel sprouts.

If you were willing to show up at Best Buy by 5 AM on Friday morning, they would have sold you a brand-new laptop for $300, and thrown in a free, white, Christian baby for your trouble.

My parents insist on referring to stuffing as "dressing". Even though I should have become accustomed to this practice by now, hearing them argue about how much dressing to make, given the weight of the turkey, still briefly evokes a disgusting mental picture of a turkey cavity filled with Hidden Valley Ranch.

Not that I didn't enjoy this year's turkey, but I feel almost compelled to up the ante next year, by preparing a turducken (a duck stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey) or by deep-frying a turkey next year. If we do end up making a turducken, I think we ened to follow John Madden's example. The choicest cuts of meat go to the family member who showed the most toughness during the holiday, through drinking or tenacious Scattergories play. Every portion is distributed along with a brief speech about what they contributed to the successful Thanksgiving, and, if our budget allows, a Telestrator explanation of the contribution. Also, Dad will talk incessantly about the turkey's cankles, and yell "Boom!" ever time he makes a slice.

where? right in the crotch

New Cheers for Cal

My first memory of the Big Game was sitting with my little sister in the stands at Stanford Stadium. Even though we were surrounded by Cardinal fans in ugly maroon sweatshirts, we were undaunted. My sister even made up her own cheer that had a beautiful simplicity to it. It went: "Get. The Ball, Bears. Kick 'em in the crotch." It's remarkably effective, especially when the person leading the chant is five years old. You can try it at home, watching the game. "Get. The ball, Bears. Kick 'em in the crotch!"

It works in place of many standard Berkeley cheers:

Students: Hey alumni! Kick 'em!
Alumni: In the crotch!
Students: Kick 'em!
Alumni: In the crotch!

There's "Kick 'em in the crotch you bears". There's "You know it. You tell the story. You tell the Bears to get the ball and then kick 'em in the crotch." And, of course, "Give' em the axe, the axe, the axe. Where? Right in the crotch, the crotch, the crotch." Unfortunately, you really aren't allowed to kick the other team in the crotch, as much as they might deserve it.

A Short Play About Joe Ayoob

(JOE AYOOB is sitting at his desk, distraught over his poor quarterback play. He balls up a piece of paper and throws it fifteen feet past a wastebasket sitting roughly four feet away from him. He balls up another piece of paper and tries another toss, this one landing two feet short of its target. AYOOB sighs. There is a knock at the door.)

AYOOB: Come in.

(Offensive lineman RYAN O'CALLAGHAN enters. AYOOB raises a whiskey bottle, but misses his mouth.)

O'CALLAGHAN: Pull yourself together, Joe! We need you this Saturday!

AYOOB: What's the use? I got benched. I can't complete a pass to save my life, and I single-handedly ruined this season for Cal. I'm worthless.

O'CALLAGHAN: You're not worthless. No one on this team is worthless, Joe. Sure, you've had some tough stretches, and, sure you cost us the games agaisnt Oregon and Oregon State, and sure, no one's buying that "dyslexia" excuse, but would this team be the same without that Joe Ayoob smile every day in practice? That Joe Ayoob laugh? That Joe Ayoob tackle on interception returns? No way.

(AYOOB sighs)

AYOOB: You're right, Ryan. You're always right.

O'CALLAGHAN: Let's go out there on Saturday and beat those lousy Stanford guys.

(O'CALLAGHAN tries to high-five AYOOB, but AYOOB slaps himself in the face. O'CALLAGHAN grabs AYOOB's hand and guides it into his own for the successful high-five.)

BOTH: Stanford sucks!

O'CALLAGHAN: OK, I'll meet you at the Bonfire Rally. (O'CALLAGHAN walks to the door, and pauses.) Joe, it smells like you've been drinking. Want to toss me your keys?

(AYOOB goes into a crouch, springs up, and sets to throw his keys to O'CALLAGHAN.)

O'CALLAGHAN: Wait! (AYOOB fumbles his keys onto the ground.) On second thought, hand those keys to Marshawn instead.

Comparing the Alumni

Stanford has Tiger Woods, the most boring professional athlete in history. Cal has Chunk from The Goonies, the inventor of the Truffle Shuffle. Stanford has Chelsea Clinton. Cal has Jerry Mathers, The Beaver. And on Saved By the Bell, Zack Morris got recruited by "Stansbury", the fictional version of Stanford, but he and Screech, and Slater, and even Kelly Kapowski, decided to go to California University, the fictional version of Cal, instead. And you know who advised him to go to Stansbury? That's right. Mr. Belding.

A Short Play About Jeff Tedford
(JEFF TEDFORD is talking on the phone with AARON RODGERS)

TEDFORD: I just wish we still had you here, Aaron. I can't help but think this whole season would have been so different. I mean, do you know what it's like, every week, to have to sit there and watch your quarterback cost you your chance to win? Wild throws, poor decisions, interceptions, fumbles - he's killing us! Seriously, Aaron, can you imagine that?

RODGERS: Um, yeah, Coach. I back up Brett Favre.

TEDFORD: Oh. Right.


TEDFORD: In that game against Cincinnati, how far --

RODGERS: Four yards past the line of scrimmage. At least.

TEDFORD: Has he ever thrown an interception while diving out of bounds?

RODGERS: No, but we've got six games left.

TEDFORD: Maybe Joe Ayoob is just a gunslinger.

RODGERS: That's exactly what he is. He's a gunslinger.

tips for aspiring stand-ups

A boozy audience is a laughing audience. Passing out small bottles of Winner's Cup vodka (the discount hard alcohol with the heart of a champion) is a cheaper investment than you might imagine, and worth every penny.

Making eye contact with the crowd is good. Making physical contact with the audience is not so good. Using contact paper to trace members of the crowd is just silly.

Sure, Gallagher has the monopoly of smashing fruit with a mallet. But what about emotionally abusing a watermelon? "What's the deal, with you? You're not water, and though loosely considered a melon, you're certainly not a member of genus Cucumis. And why are you such a racist symbol, man?"

It's not nearly as messy and just as devastating.

Saying the name of the town in which you are performing is a good way to get cheap applause. Even if you're from that town, and you never perform anywhere else, and you haven't even left the city limits in a month and a half, you should still tell the crowd how it's great to be "back" in San Francisco. They will clap. Other phrases that will get you some cheap applause:

"Call me crazy, but I believe that people who love each other should be allowed to get married."

"I don't care what anyone else says: San Francisco is the greatest city in the world!

"I just became the father of a beautiful new baby girl."

"Can I get a big round of applause for the wait staff/earlier comedians/yourselves?"

"That Dick Cheney sure is a butthead, huh?"

The regional device works even better if you can make disparaging comments about inferior cities in the same region, and their inferior audiences. Popular targets include Fresno, Bakersfield, or Redding. Since I only perform in San Francisco, and occasionally Berkeley, I can't really speak with authority about other locations, so I try to play neighborhoods against each other.

"Thank you," I'll say. "I tried that joke in the Richmond District, and it did not go over well. They were like, 'I don't understand that, maybe because I was on the bus for three hours today and then a Russian Mafioso wearing a track suit kicked me in the shins.' Thank God, you're not like that here in Western Addition."

Trying to banter with the audience is a risky proposition. When you're telling your jokes, you always know what you are going to say, at least. With the audience, there are no guarantees.

At a recent open mic, a first-time comic was telling jokes about growing up as the son of a priest. He wasn't doing too badly, but he was nervous. So, when he began to falter, he decided it was time to interact with the audience. "The worst thing about having a priest for a father," he began, then addressed me directly. "Wait, what do you think is the worst part of having your dad be a priest?"

I said the first thing that came to mind. "I don't know, the molestation?"

He froze, and his face reddened. "No," he stammered. "No!" he almost shouted, then closed his eyes and shook his head, like he was trying to shake my accusation out of his mind. It turns out that the worst thing about having a priest for a father is that you have to confess your sins to him, something he explained while shooting me disgusted, disappointed glances. Such is the dark side of banter.

If any East Bay readers have an interest, I will be performing at Laugh Your Axe Off on Wednesday evening (8 PM, 2060 Valley Life Sciences Building), part of UC Berkeley's run-up to Saturday's Big Game versus Stanford. Friday is of course my headlining debut at 50 Mason in SF (8 PM, $10), and the official promotional info is after the jump.

Independence Day

(Pilots are assembling on the tarmac, when President Bush appears, clad in a flight suit.)

PILOT: Mr. President!

PRESIDENT BUSH: All right boys. Let’s do it.

PILOT: Sir – you’re going to attack the aliens with us?

BUSH: Nope. I just need you to pose for a few photos with me. Won't take a minute.

Return of the Jedi

(Han Solo and Lando Calrissian stand in front of a banner advertising the Endor Relief Telethon)

HAN SOLO: The Battle of Endor has devastated this once-beautiful forest planet. Storm troopers on speeders and exploding shield generators did extensive damage, leaving many residents of Endor homeless. Now, more than ever, these people need your help, to rebuild their lost treetop homes. Please donate to the--

LANDO CALRISSIAN: George Bush doesn't care about Ewoks!


(President Bush addresses a crowd of reporters.)

BUSH: As you all know, Titanic, the ship of dreams, has hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. Forces assisting in the rescue effort will be arriving in two to three days to help the waterlogged passengers. But first, I want to thank the crew members on the Titanic assigned to watching for icebergs. We've got some courageous sailors working those lookout shifts, and the nation thanks you. The good news is – and it's hard to see it now – the good news is that out of this sinking ship is going to come a new and better class of unsinkable luxury ocean liners. I pledge, right now, that the Coast Guard will find Trent Lott's lifeboat, and we will rebuild his first class stateroom. And I'm looking forward to sharing a drink with him there, while the Irish stay below-decks, where they belong. Again, I want to thank the crew of the Titanic – Captain Smith, you're doing a heck of a job.


AIDE: So, the team will drill into the asteroid and detonate an explosive charge, which should throw the asteroid off its collision course with the Earth. It's a desperate plan, sir, but we only have a few days until the asteroid hits.

BUSH: Sounds good. Have Cheney call Halliburton and set it up.

AIDE: Actually, Mr. President, we have already selected an eclectic, ragtag group of roughneck drillers to carry out the mission.

BUSH: I trust Halliburton. Halliburton does good work.

AIDE: With all due respect, sir, the Halliburton Corporation simply does not have the drilling expertise for a job like this. In fact--

BUSH: Look, my vacation ends next week. We can talk more about it when I'm back from the ranch.


KEVIN COSTNER: I don’t understand. How did the budget get up to $215 billion?

BUSH: Our intelligence indicated that the Craft Services table was at risk for insurgency attacks.

KEVIN COSTNER: That doesn’t make any sense.

BUSH: We stand by our intelligence. Rest assured, Universal Pictures, we will not cut and run from this motion picture.

belated world series recap

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Everybody's already forgotten about the World Series by now, but I have some leftover material about it. Perhaps this will help assuage the pain caused by the end of Two Dolla Wednesday baseball in Oakland.

The right to choose

There was a great deal of fake controversy before Game 3 of the World Series. The games were moving back to Houston and Minute Maid Park (née Enron Field), the Astros' swanky new ballpark with a retractable roof. While the Astros feel they have an advantage playing with the roof shut, the commissioner's office chose to keep it open for Game 3, since the weather was nice. This decision did not go over well with Houston's players and fans.

Now, the Astros are one of the more notably Republican teams in the country. Former President Bush has tickets right behind home plate. Enron bought naming rights to the stadium, before its bankruptcy. The owner, Drayton McLane, is a Southern Baptist deacon, and the Astros are the only team to employ a full-time chaplain. And, like the Republican Party, the Astros do not have a single African-American on their team.

As a result, the rhetoric coming from Houston sounded like an NARAL rally. "How can the commissioner impose his beliefs on our team?" "The Astros should have the right to choose how they want the roof!" I expected to see signs in the stands proclaiming, "Keep Your Laws Off Our Ballpark!"

However, the roof was left open, and the game proceeded the way baseball was meant to be played: in the open air, in a ballpark named after a juice company, with a replica of a 19th-century locomotive running on a track behind left field, and a gigantic hill in center field with a flagpole stuck in the middle.

Back, and to the left

The most crucial play in the Series came in Game Two, when Paul Konerko hit a dramatic grand slam to put the White Sox ahead. Afterward, there were plenty of replays from the FOX broadcast team, but not of that home run. No, FOX chose to show replay after replay of the previous hitter, Jermaine Dye, and a missed call on a hit-by-pitch. They ran the tape forward and backwards, and even used CSI technology where they zoomed way in on one particular part of the replay to show that the pitch had likely hit Dye's bat, and not his arm. It felt less like watching a baseball game then like sitting in on the Warren Commission. Yes, the ump missed the call, but it was a 3-2 count - Dye could have easily ended up on first on the next pitch. The more significant play, the grand slam home run was mostly ignored.

Me and TiVo down by the schoolyard

Game Three was a marathon. I got home at 10:30, expecting to watch an accelerated, TiVo-ed version of the game with "Waffles" Keagy. Instead, the game was still on, and entering its 12th inning. Soon after that, Geoff Blum hit a home run, and the Sox went up three games to none. Being a dedicated baseball fan, I decided to watch our recording of the earlier innings, alone, since others can't really fathom the appeal of watching a sporting event when you already know the outcome, and it's five hours long.

I watched, trying to pay close attention, as the Astros jumped out to a lead and then blew it when their manager left in starter Roy Oswalt to throw a staggering 46 pitches in a single, five-run inning. I was doing my best to pick out the subtleties of the game, but what came through instead were glaring, obvious truths: when your pitcher gives up six hits, a walk, and hits a batter in one inning, maybe think about warming up a reliever. It was after this inning that I realized Chicago wouldn't be scoring the winning run for three more hours, and no amount of 30-second fast-forwarding was going to make it worthwhile. So I went to bed.

New Stats

One thing I really enjoyed about the FOX broadcast was their embrace of Little League World Series broadcast elements. Normally, a baseball telecast is full of graphics showing statistics of questionable value, like "Record in night games versus left-handed pitching", or "Batting average with the roof open in post-season games taking places in odd-numbered years." Even standard measures like batting average are basically worthless when they're based on a sample of two or three games. Thankfully, in Game Three, FOX didn't bother, Instead, when Jason Lane stepped to the plate in the fourth inning, the graphic below his name informed us of his favorite movie.

This is what baseball needs more of. I've seen close to a thousand Giants games during his career, and I can't say that I have any idea what Barry Bonds's favorite food is. That is, if steroids don't count as a food.

Spin Cycle

There were multiple signs in Minute Maid Park exhorting the Astros to "Wash the Sox". Oooh, spin cycle. Very threatening, Houston. I wonder what missed the cut there: "Put The Sox In The Dryer! You Know, So One Of Them Gets Lost! Man, Why Is That, Anyway?"

The Philadelphia Eagles have suspended upstart wide receiver Terrell Owens after he bad-mouthed the team, the organization, and Donovan McNabb in a recent interview, one day after getting into a fistfight with one of the team’s assistant coaches. Zembla reported on Owens‛s performance for the 49ers back in 2003, so this page is quite familiar with his fanciness, surliness, wussiness, and increasingly less-frequent awesomeness. He‛s obviously a great player, as he showed in the Super Bowl, and even more obviously an asshole.

Still, Zembla feels that T.O. has not quite reached his full potential. He‛s pretty hated right now, definitely Pro Bowl-caliber hatedness, but he has a unique opportunity to achieve Hall of Fame hatedness this year. Below is a hypothetical scenario, by which Mr. Owens might reach the pantheon of athletic hatedness occupied by such luminaries as John Rocker, Albert Belle, and Tommy Lasorda:

Week 9: A suspended Owens conducts interviews for reporters on the front lawn of his house in New Jersey. He exercises while fielding questions, but the journalists are disturbed when he exclusively does "girl push-ups".

Week 10: Despite Andy Reid‛s wife, five children and strong Mormon faith, Owens alleges that the Eagles coach is a homosexual. After the Eagles defeat the Giants at home, 27-13, Owens says, "I just think if a man was sexually attracted to women, and not men, he‛d call a few more deep passes." Fans are horrified, not because of T.O.‛s rampant homophobia, but because, for the briefest of moments, they had to imagine Andy Reid having sex.

Week 11: In a goodwill gesture, Owens invites quarterback Donovan McNabband the Eagles offensive linemen to have dinner at a fancy restaurant. This backfires when it comes time to pay. Though it‛s his treat, T.O. "alligator arms" the check, failing to pick up the crucial tab. Observers comment that it looks like Owens feared the harsh contact with his bank account. A disgusted McNabb puts it on his credit card.

Week 12: Terrell expresses his belief that the Saints should move away from New Orleans on a permanent basis. "Clearly, San Antonio has a much more promising metropolitan area, not to mention a larger television market," says Owens. "At some point, the NFL is going to have to put aside sentimentality and a misguided sense of loyalty to the Gulf region, and do what is best for both the franchise and the league as a whole. Also, I heard Deuce McAllister likes to wear women‛s underwear."

Week 13: Terrell modifies his usual pre-game outfit by adding a codpiece to his white, skin-tight Lycra bodysuit. He also demands that reporters begin to accent the second syllable of his first name instead and refer to Andy Reid as "the greatest Pro Bowl coach of all time."

Week 14: After a road victory over the Rams, Owens departs from his usual practice of ripping teammates and coaches, and begins to criticize historical figures. In his most controversial statement, Owens declares that,"if Brett Favre had been leading the Civil Rights Movement, we‛d have probably had a black president by now." Owens later insists that he had never criticized Martin Luther King, Jr. by name, and that his quote had been taken out of context. Then he calls Mother Theresa a "lying whore".

Week 15: When placekicker David Akers reinjures his hamstring during a crucial game against Arizona, T.O. comes in and misses two PATS. The Eagles eventually lose by a single point, 20-19. T.O. calls the injured hamstring a "stupid little fairy".

Week 16: The Eagles lose their final game and barely miss out on a playoff spot. After the game, Owens demands a contract extension and signing bonus. As his teammates dejectedly clean out their lockers, Owens demonstrates his entire repertoire of unused touchdown celebration dances, all of which are suspiciously similar to the Electric Slide. Hours later, T.O. is arrested while defecating into the Liberty Bell.

a nickname update from chile


Sister-abroad Molly has written in response to the recent post about her nicknaming style. Apparently, she has taken her brand of nicknomenclature to Chile, and it is no longer restricted to professional athletes. She writes:

In my group of friends at the house, everyone has a Spanish nickname if Spanish is their second language, and an English nickname if it is their native language. The list so far:

Molly - "Maldición", AKA "Dammit", and sometimes "Maldita", which you put in front of a word to use like "fuck". Por ejemplo: "maldita suerte" = bad mother fucking luck.

Ashlee - "Has leido", or "You have read".

Darcy - "Darse cuenta", to realize. It also means "Yes, give". This is especially funny because when you call a person "Yes (with a pause for the comma), give" in public, everyone laughs!

Eva - "Evacuación".

Felice - "Felicidades".

Rocío - "Misty river (a combo of "rocio", meaning mist, and the movie Mystic River).

Sofía - "Sooooo fine".

Perry - "Perrito" o "Perdición".

Soizic (French) - "Suavemente"

As you can imagine, I am extremely excited that the monker engine is still chugging away, and spreading to other nations. In fact, I have begun mentally assigning nicknames to my friends, which I often quietly think to myself while I say their actual names. Por ejemplo:

My roommate comes home from class. I say, "Hi Christine", but in my head I'm thinking, "Waffle". Because, Keagy->Eggy->Eggo->Waffles. And, because she's so sweet.

Also, she really likes waffles.

november 18th


On November 18th , I will be taking the stage at 50 Mason as part of their Friday Comedy Showcase. I've played 50 Mason half a dozen times, but this time will be special, as it is my first headlining spot at that club. In fact, November 18th will be my first ever performance as a headliner anywhere.

I have hosted shows with outstanding comics like Dave Attell, Jim Short, Al Madrigal, and comedian-abroad Luke Filose, but those were all shows run by UC Berkeley's humor magazine, The Heuristic Squelch. Sadly, the Squelch no longer puts on comedy shows, but aspiring comics should still take note: It is much easier to get a prime hosting gig when you and your friends are doing the booking. Also, most comedians will be psyched to have beers with you after the show, provided there are attractive nineteen year old girls in your party.

There are a lot of misconceptions about one's responsibilities as a headliner. Some believe you must scour the nation's newspapers, searching for bizarre, typographically rich headlines to mock, and a sycophantic bass player to laugh at the punchlines. Others think being a headliner means you must be willing to put a watermelon on the line anytime someone challenges you to a game of horseshoes. A game of horseshoes! Still others harbor the foolish belief that you need to write a full twenty minutes of material, rather than simply delivering your ten-minute set at half-speed.

Really, you've got only one job when you're headlining: Bringing the funny. It's still a few weeks until this gig, so I can't state with absolute confidence that I will bring the funny, but I can say this: I'm packing the funny. I'm writing a note to myself reminding me to bring the funny I packed. I'm tying a string around my finger in case I forget to read the reminder note about the funny. I'm sneaking into the club on the 16th and stashing some emergency funny in the bathroom, and it's going to be good material. I don't want to be coming out of that bathroom with just some dick jokes in my hands.

So, mark your calendars, or better yet, headline your calendars for November 18th, at 8 PM. I won't be coming on until 9:30 or so, since, like Vanessa Williams, 50 Mason likes to save the best for last. Also, 50 Mason let an old boyfriend take some ill-advised "artistic" photos of itself back in college, had to relinquish its crown as Miss America, and later carried on a six-year relationship with former Los Angeles Laker Rick Fox. The parallels are truly stunning, once you think about it.

Some thoughts on the 3 Musketeers bar

The 3 Musketeers bar is just chocolate and nougat. If you want something really tasty, you get the Snickers bar, which has nougat, caramel, and peanuts. If you want something nut-free and still delicious, you can opt for the Milky Way bar, with nougat and caramel. The 3 Musketeers bar seems to appeal to people who like candy, but want to minimize its deliciousness.

Big on Chocolate, Low on Fat

Mars, Incorporated has begun to market the 3 Musketeers bar as a low-fat alternative candy bar, I guess for people who are watching their calories and/or carbs, but still purchasing and consuming candy bars. They do have "45% less fat", presumably compared to something like a Milky Way.

This may be a marketing strategy akin to Subway. In the last decade, Subway has begun to market itself as a healthy, alternative fast food outlet. The poster child for Subway sandwiches was Jared, whose inspirational weight-loss story centered around him walking to Subway twice a day for meals. Jared lost over 200 pounds due to a combination of exercise, a low-fat, sandwich-only diet, and a crippling methamphetmaine addiction. Sure, the sandwiches don't taste all that great, says Subway's parent company, Doctors & Associates, but they're much healthier.

However, Subway still keeps a big rack of chips right next to every counter. There is a discount on chips and soda with purchase of a sandwich. And the "low-fat" menu items become much more "high-fat" if you add the freely available mayonnaise or olive oil to your sandwich. It still isn't healthy by any means; it's just less unhealthy than a place like McDonald's. One almost wonders if Subway is intentionally attempting to lure in the obese, people who might identify with the "Before" Jared, only to eventually give in to the temptation of the Value Meal. People who overeat would seem to be a golden demographic for a restaurant chain.

Gateway bars

By the same reasoning, the 3 Musketeers might be considered a gateway bar. If the weight-watcher who buys 3 Musketeers as a less-tasty, less-unhealthy snack has a slip, he will hopefully binge on 3 Musketeers, rather than some other brand. Even while a healthy, Musketeer-heavy diet lasts, the dieter still has to get that selection from the candy aisle. Once he's there, there's little to stop him from getting a "harder" candy bar, like a Snickers, or even a Butterfinger.

Butterfinger is the candy aisle equivalent of heroin: its filling is sugar and peanut butter blended together in its most concentrated form, without any nougat to provide a protective layer of blandness. The Velvet Underground had an unreleased song where Lou Reed sang, "Honeycombed peanut butter center, it's my life, it's my wife." Even the official Butterfinger web site says that buying the largest possible Butterfinger bar to share with a date is a surefire "deal-sealer", whatever sort of honeycombing that is supposed to imply.

Urban Legend

Someone told me a story about the origin of the names of Milky Way and 3 Musketeers bars. The legend goes that Milky Way and 3 Musketeers were released on the same day, but the labels were accidentally switched. This has a strain of plausibility, because a Milky Way bar has three ingredients (to review: chocolate coating, nougat, caramel), and it is easy to envision the smooth chocolate nougat interior of the 3 Musketeers bar as a veritable galaxy of mediocre taste.

So, the labels were switched, and both bars were so popular, the candy company couldn't very well reverse themselves and change the names back after they were such a hit. And that is the Just So Story of why 3 Musketeers has only two damn ingredients.

However, Milky Way came out in 1923. 3 Musketeers wasn't released until 1932. Originally, it had three different pieces and three different flavors: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. This legend is just not true, though people in Mauritania might believe it.

Little differences

In England, our 3 Musketeers is known as a Milky Way. Our Milky Way is England's Mars bar. The American Mars bar no longer exists. Because of the metric system.


My lovely roommate bought large candy bars for the trick-or-treaters, only some of which were later confiscated by the author. Most kids demonstrated the proper awe for the too-much-fun sized candies, and the impressive selection, except for one bold young boy, dressed as a Power Ranger. (Kids still watch Power Rangers? That show is still on? I need to check in with Mom about this one.) The young Green Ranger reached in and snatched two full-sized Snickers at once. I was horrified by his greed, but quite impressed by his moxie, as the candy bars barely fit through the top of his plastic pumpkin pail.

Now, would he have demonstrated such courage for two full-sized 3 Musketeers bars? I sort of doubt it.

Fun Facts

My tireless Internet research has failed to discover when 3 Musketeers changed to their current flavor configuration. However, the FAQ on the official 3 Musketeers site yields some fascinating information.

The chocolate nougat (mostly egg whites and sugar – sorry, vegan friends) is covered in chocolate by a process called "enrobing" (in a facility that also manufactures peanut products – sorry, Matt). Enrobing involves "a continuous curtain of liquid chocolate" and also "a rotating chocolate covered wheel". Awesome.

Actually, since it's milk chocolate, the nougat didn't really make or break the candy's veganosity.


After the runaway success of both the Count of Mighty Crispy bar, and Queen Marshmallots, candymakers scrambled to adapt another of Alexandre Dumas pere's adventure novels into a confectionary treat. They ended up choosing the Musketeers.

D'Artagnan represents the candy bar, though he's not one of the titular Musketeers. He stepped in when Aramis got the boot from Mars, Incorporated. Maybe it's because Aramis became a priest, and he's not a worldly, nougat-hungry gentleman like the others. After all, the 3 Musketeers® Brand Athos is "brilliant and brave but also clumsy like a nutty professor" and "a scatterbrained hero with a heart of gold." 3 Musketeers® Brand D'Artagnan is "always the first to charge into a fray". He's "courageous, gallant and always wins the day". Meanwhile, 3 Musketeers® Brand Porthos is "James Bond with a saber".

I like to think of D'Artagnan as sugar, Athos as milk chocolate, and Porthos as blended egg whites. Blended egg whites with a saber.

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