Monday, August 27, 2018

Kotas Reviews Disenchantment

As a relatively recent convert to Netflix, I feel there is no better time to be watching shows on it. My child adores much of their original children's programming, no matter how much I might find it annoying. My spouse and I have bonded over a mutual love of British baking shows. I've managed to catch up on several series I missed over the years, and now the producer of two of my favorite all time shows is back for a round three. Ladies and Gentlemen, elves of all ages, let's take a dive into Disenchantment.

Photo Credit:
Disenchantment is the third animated series from Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons and Futurama. At first glance, it appears to be "Futurama, but for Fantasy!" and in a lot of ways it does trend in that direction. The trio above is, from left to right, Princess "Bean" Tiabeanie, the youngest and smallest of the students at Battle Scho...wait, wrong Bean. Bean is the Princess of Dreamland, and an alcoholic layabout who resents her father, King Zog, for not really caring about her ever since her mom died. The little two dimensional imp looking chap above is Luci, a demon sent by...uh...some people as a cursed wedding gift. He's a scamp. The green fella is Elf-o, an outcast from the Elf Village who leaves because he doesn't fit in and wants to experience the world, particularly misery. They get into various hi-jinks.

It would be remarkably easy to match them up and say Bean ~ Leela, Luci ~ Bender, and Elf-o ~ Fry, and honestly that's what I did at first. However, the dynamic between the trio is different enough, along with their motivations for friendship, that I feel it is a unique spin on the Heroic (Well, Protagonistic anyway) Trio. There is a LOT of characterization of Bean, and to a lesser extent Elf-o. Luci is pretty much along for the ride and for some cheap laughs, and to serve as a Diabolious Ex Plot Convenience point, but the unique character design is just fantastic. In fact the whole show is just gorgeous from an art perspective.

The first trio of episodes sets up the premise for the entire series and lays the groundwork for a number of running gags: Bean is to be married off to a prince of another realm for political purposes. Luci shows up, and shenanigans begin to ensue. This is exacerbated by the arrival of Elf-o, on his quest to find "true misery". These episodes are a lot of set up and not so great payoff. The comedy is often pretty hit or miss (except pretty much everything in the Elf Village which is solid gold) but it sets up the scene and puts the pieces in position. The middle four episodes of the season are where it really takes off. The character dynamics start to show themselves, the plots are episodic but with call backs to previous events, and the jokes start landing a lot more than they miss. "Love's Tender Rampage" has some incredibly insightful commentary on standard sitcom tropes. The last three episodes tie into several running plot threads and introduce a whole heaping helping of character development and story, and of course set us up for the next 10 episodes that have already been ordered.

The series has a number of flaws. Since it is set in a fantasy world, there isn't nearly as much low hanging fruit as the modern day or futuristic settings of the Simpsons and Futurama, so many jokes beyond "LOL the middle ages was dirty and gross" require a lot of set up or just don't stick the landing as well as they should. Joke density, outside of some visual gags, isn't as high as with other series. It takes a while for the characters to become somewhat likable so that we sort of care about what happens to them. Then there's the fact that so much characterization and story was crammed into the end of this set of episodes, along with trying to make us have feelings that the series hasn't really earned yet. The Season 3 episode "Luck of the Fryish" from Futurama pulls several heartstrings, but because we've spent enough time getting to know Fry and Company, when it takes a more dramatic turn in this otherwise hilarious gonzo comedy series it actually works. Disenchantment tries to pull that off in Episode 9, rather than Episode 36, and it comes off as rushed. If these elements had been better spread out through the season, or over a full season rather than just 10 episodes, it would have been a better experience. 

On the FACE Rating System, I give Disenchantment 2 Smiley Elf Faces. The art is gorgeous, the characters are interesting, everything involving the Elf Village is pure comedic gold, and I look forward to seeing what happens next. Its weaknesses lie mostly in the beginning and ending of the series, but there is more than enough to be entertaining. If nothing else, I've gotten a few more quotes for the Matt Groening section of my brain. Give it a whirl!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Kotas Reviews Lays Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers Wavy Chips

Well well Lay's. I see we're having another flavorsplosion for the late summer. I also take note that you are ditching the whole "vote for a flavor" thing in favor of just having a giant pile of limited edition flavors. Well, never let it be said that I backed down from a manufactured food challenge (the Ol' 96er notwithstanding), so today we dive right in with...uh...Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Wavy Lays. Because the world doesn't make sense anymore. 

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

I can safely say I've never been a fan of the Jalapeno Popper, not even when it was bacon wrapped. I'm just not a huge fan of jalapenos in general, let alone stuffed with cream and cheddar cheese. Adding bacon may help, Just not my deal. Still, when Lay's issues a challenge, I cannot help but stand up. This one is certainly very unique in chipdom. That's a lot of different savory flavors to pack into a lowly potato chip, even one so noble as the Wavy variety. Will it stand up? Let us tear into the bag and find out. Did I mention this is one of like nine or ten different flavors? I am not prepared.

Nothing ever ends, Adrian.
Well, the scent in the bag is incredibly "Bac-Os", or fake bacon bits. You know, the kind you shake out of a container. It basically overwhelms any other odor that might be present. The chips themselves look like Wavy Lay's with red flavor dust and green chive-like flecks. But who gives two rat's asses about the look? We all want to know what they taste like.

In a phrase, "pretty dang good". The fake bacon flavor is very strong, but not necessarily bad. The chips do not have any jalapeno flavor, but they do have a nice slow build of heat, and while they don't have a particular cheese flavor, they have a creamy sour cream note that really brings the whole thing together. Hot damn, these are actually good! I guess the only problem for some might be that they don't really taste like bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. Oh, there's plenty of fake bacon (or facon, if you will) to go around, but the only hint that there is a jalapeno is the heat, and no cheese flavors I can distinguish. Weird, but good. 

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Smiley Faces. They are super tasty and I want to eat them by the bag, but some people might be disappointed they ain't what they say they are. More like Bacon, Sour Cream, and Hot chips than anything else. Definitely give them a try. Oh man, only...nine more flavors to go? Sheeeeeeesh.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Kotas Reviews the Sonic Pickle Juice Slush

We are definitely in the dog days of summer now. Not only did I see a dog in my neighborhood this past week, I saw two! On two different occasions! What is this world coming to anyway? Oh well, I suppose nothing matters anymore. Black is white, up is down, dogs and cats, living together...Mass Hysteria! So to celebrate the impending heat death of the universe (only several million billion years to go!), I decided to give in and try a little something at a drive in. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we review the Sonic Pickle Juice Slush.

Not really the fastest thing alive, is it?
Apparently pickle flavored stuff is a food tread this year. I mean, I don't really see it as a "new" trend, as there have been dill pickle flavored things out on shelves for a while, particularly potato chips. Still, I hadn't seen it as a 'sweet' before, so while it may not be that new, it's certainly new to me! I mean, I like red bean paste, so I'm not a stranger to the concept of the 'normally savory sweet thing', but pickle juice? Really? Let's get one.

It's not easy drinkin' green.
I'll be honest, I don't often go to Sonic for food. I mean, it's fine and all, but it is rarely convenient to go there rather than somewhere else, and Sonic's menu doesn't have enough pizzazz to pull me away from other options I might pass on the way there. Still, the fam and I were on our way back from Dollywood when we're like "Food is good. And hey, a Sonic! Let's go there." Thus you now know the long pointless build up to this story. Holy crap that shit is super fuckin' PICKLE colored ain't it? It isn't NEON green, but it's damn near and smells just like pickle juice. This is gonna be a bumpy ride for sure.

You know, I was expecting to absolutely hate this, but it's not bad. The sugar counteracts the sourness of the pickle juice and makes it almost refreshing in a weird Gatorade kind of way. It absolutely tastes like a pickle, but not a sweet pickle or bread and butter or anything like that. It's definitely dill pickle, but...less sour? Maybe slightly sweet? It's an odd flavor indeed. So odd I puzzled over it for half an hour while we ate lunch. It went fairly well with the burger I ate, but it wasn't something I would want a lot of. I don't even know if I would ever want it again, and I didn't finish the serving I had, though that was a matter of "we only have so many cup holders and we have better drinks than this to put in them". Still, I drank half of it, and I can't say I didn't enjoy it. Mostly, it left me somewhat puzzled. A very interesting flavor, if not a preferred one.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a baffled 0 Faces. It's not a bad flavor, but it's also not a flavor I think I would seek out on any kind of regular basis. I would recommend it as a sharing drink, and one you don't get a lot of, though if you love it, awesome. I am mostly just confused by it though. Super interesting, super weird.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Kotas Reviews Skynacks Nsenene Chilli Ready to Eat Snack

Occasionally I get pulled into that ever hungry vortex known as "the long term project" at work. That plus family stuff has really put a crimp in my reviewing adventures. Still, I've managed to claw my way back into the sunlight, illuminated by the warm glow of my community. So of course this means I'm gonna eat some bugs. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a gander at...whatever the hell this is.

This amazing monument to culinary adventure was found on the counter in my work break room, next to this sign, which helpfully told me what the terror can contained within:

So of course I knew I had to try them. I can't help myself. It's like I have some sort of weird compulsion to eat odd things and then inform others of my opinion on said things. Such is the true extent of my suffering. Oh well, let's open this thing up and see what we get. 

Open up and say AAAAAAAAAAH!
Oh sweet Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young this smells terrible. A sharp, pungent scent assails the nostrils with a musty, earthy odor redolent of dank soil under a rotting log, but also peppered with a spiciness that haunts the nose. It is a much stronger odor than the one from the Larvets I reviewed last year, probably from the sheer volume of grasshoppers as compared to the tiny box of meal worms. And yes, those are heads on the right of the picture above, beady little eyes and all. DOWN THE FUCKIN' HATCH!

The flavor isn't as bad as the smell, thank goodness. It's mostly "stale popcorn with some mustiness and chili flavor", coupled with several dashes of terror and despair. It lingers in the mouth in a most unpleasant way and practically requires a large gulp of water (or soda or Everclear...) to clear it away. Like a lot of foods from far away places, I suspect this is an acquired taste, but I have no desire to eat enough of them to acquire that taste or ever eat them again.  

On the FACE Rating System, these get 3 Frowny Faces. They taste terrible, they smell terrible, and the packaging is terrible. If you are super into eating these, uh, good for you, but this is a Hard Pass for most everyone who reads this blog. No.