This will likely come as a surprise given my affection for food items that reasonable adults shouldn’t really be eating, but I only recently tried Jif Hazelnut Spread (yes, it’s just Nutella in an easier to manage container) for the first time. I might run a little behind the times in the spreadable-morning-type-foods category – I didn’t have my first bagel until I was 20. (In my household, all “religious” foods were shunned for fear that consumption would cause radical evangelism.) I’m pretty sure I had Nutella once before – in a NYC-street-fair crepe, paired with bananas and powdered sugar. However the Nutella didn’t really stand out to me at the time, as there was a lot going on in that concoction, and one has to use discretion when evaluating street fair food. So when I stumbled upon what appeared to be an empty bottle of Jif that had been refilled with chocolate sauce, my expectations were low. I threw a piece of oatmeal toast in the TO (that’s what toaster oven owners refer to their TOs as) and enjoyed a culinary delight that combined the warm crunchy texture of peanut buttery toast with the debauchery of drink/eating a candy bar that’s been on the dashboard in direct sunlight for a little too long.
As I discussed my new find with other folks, I heard the same story over and over again: “yeah, that stuff is delicious, but don’t be fooled – it is NOT good for you!” Luckily, I was able to sniff that one out without any research – my keen intuition suggested that spoonfuls of chocolate sauce might not be the nutritional equivalent of broccoli. Basically this spread tastes like a Toffifay – which on taste alone had a chance to make this esteemed list- but without the pain in the ass of the worst packaging in the candy industry. Put another way, it tastes like that damn hazelnut coffee smells – without the pain in the ass of drinking a cup of coffee. This stuff goes good on anything you’d normally put like jelly, jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, marinara sauce on – you could also probably make a nice mole sauce if you were into that kind of thing. I like to put a spoonful in my oatmeal – then it’s like eating a mushy candy bar with a spoon. Just be careful – it’s apparently not good for you (but if you eat it with oatmeal – which IS good for you – isn’t that a push?) And don’t worry, Sriracha - I haven’t foresaken you. (Sriracha at $2.64/bottle at Wal-Mart in Arkansas represents the greatest arbitrage opportunity since Kramer and Newman figured out how to get a mail truck to Michigan.)
One surprising thing about the large rice field I find myself sequestered in, it has a pretty sweet T-Mobile 4G signal. Yes, I’m still loyal to the T-Mobs and their most excellent spokeswoman. And, despite being a fan of Apple the stock, I’ve never owned an iPod (although I rocked a sweet Creative Labs Nomad way back in the day when iPods were just a gleam in Steve Jobs’ eye; the 64 meg version was the bomb, it could store up to twelve songs. Astonishingly, these are apparently still available- although the reviews are a little stale.) The only thing I’ve ever purchased from iTunes is two episodes of Party Down (that I will cherish forever).
So how do I get my mobile listening on, you ask? For years I used a stream (pun intended) of low-end mp3 players that worked with Napster-To-Go (you paid a monthly fee and could put songs on your device as long as your account was current). I had a bit of a chemistry problem with the cheap mp3 players though – they could not withstand the deluge of sweat that always ensued during a typical Chilly workout. Somehow, even on a treadmill, I managed to get the damn things wet and they would cease to operate. Spending $60 every two months wasn’t gonna work, nor did I desire to start gasp – paying – for individual songs. So, I just gave up and started running without music, letting the pleasant harmony of my graceful gait fuel my daily runs. And at home I would use Pandora – until I got tired of hearing Michael Jackson songs featured during any possible playlist. (Seriously, the third song on the Slayer station is “Billie Jean” – check it yourself.) I needed some control of the situation – and at the time (a year ago?) Spotify wasn’t in the U.S. yet (and wasn’t going to be free when it hit our shores). What to do?
And then I happened upon Grooveshark. The legality of it is still somewhat being determined, but it is apparently legal (by the words of the law, if not the spirit) as of now and has been operating for years. It works almost exactly like the original Napster did – the songs are uploaded by users. How the f*ck could that work? The songs can only be streamed – somehow this is within terms of the DMCA and Grooveshark apparently has agreements with some labels so I think there is a royalty mechanism of some kind. Also, they will pull songs if the artist requests (Adele disappeared for about a minute, but it looks like she’s back on there. Not that I love Adele or anything) – but that’s all neither here nor there, not my job to provide legal or moral opinion, I am only obligated to point you toward free sh*t so that the title of this post isn’t misleading.
So here are the steps to getting some free stuff on your Android phone:
1. Go to Grooveshark and sign up for an account (Two Notes: 1) I’m not getting anything for this, this is just a public service – like when I challenged Gristedes about the absurb Arriba salsa pricing, and 2) Feel free to use a fake name when you sign up – I went with a character from a Mel Gibson movie)
2. Type in the name of some songs you like and drag them to the bottom of the screen – if you push the play icon, you should hear music and words similar to those you are familiar with based on the song title you typed in
3. Save these songs as a playlist
4. Go to the android market and download tinyshark (Note: Grooveshark provides a mobile option directly as well – but they CHARGE monthly for that, and that’s not what we’re all about. tinyshark is an app that (I believe this is what it does, I could be off by 1,000 miles) works around the need for the paid mobile app by basically mimicking the online version
5. Go to your phone, click on the tinyshark icon and login with your account info established in step 1
6. If you get a good synch, you should have access to your playlist and all music therein; feel free to listen to it wherever you have wifi or a good 4g signal.
7. Thank me later. (Note: I resisted the urge to add: 8. Call me maybe. So maybe you should thank me twice.)
Back in the summer of 1986, when I was but a wee lad of 17, I got kicked out of the house for the egregious crime of going to the lake with my friends since I had the day off work. They say events tend to repeat themselves in 26 year cycles, and now I find myself living in a $350/month apartment in a dry county where the biggest attraction is the size and sheer number of mosquitoes. In a nod to the Olympics, the gods of karma (I have not been a great person recently) have even increased the degree of difficulty – I just found out I have plantar fasciitis and my faithful canine has infected scent glands (conveniently located in her butt – it has been suggested that I learn how to “express” them…I’m pretty good friends with my dog, but not that good.).
This situation is very similar to the time I quit college and went back to my hometown to work at Taco Bell, occasionally sleeping in my 280ZX as I “figured out WTF.” People were like “what the hell is that kid doing not going to school?” Presumably now people are like “what the hell is that middle-aged dude doing not making any money during his prime earning years?” Hopefully my response will be on par with the stretch of good (ok, very good) fortune I had following dropping out.
Top Ten Reasons It’s Better To Get Kicked Out Of The House When You Are 43 Than When You Are 17
10. Now have total custody of my dog (with the attendant shedding/exclusion from certain hotel chains), back then my dog stayed at home (note: not the same dog)
9. [yellow tail] is my friend now, back then could only drown my sorrows in Mt. Dew
8. Large pizza at Pizza Hut inexplicably now costs half what did 26 years ago #deflation
7. The internet exists now, I don’t have to go to Food 4 Less to read projections about the upcoming NFL season (and I hear there are images of attractive and naked females easily available on the internet as well, but I have not yet endeavored to confirm this)
6. If I find myself homeless during winter, at least there’s been 26 years of global warming – and, sleeping in the Escape with a warm dog would be much more comfortable than wrapping up in a USA Today in a sweet 280ZX (with louvers!)
5. I have almost twice as much money in my checking account as I did back then
4. This time I didn’t have a bright yellow OP shirt fly out of a boat on the day I was getting kicked out. (I cannot believe that I found an image of the EXACT shirt – the internet is insane. I had long yellow shorts that matched. This somehow was an improvement from my “hey-”Beat It”-was-a-cool-video-two-years-ago-I’m-gonna-wear-parachute-pants-and-a-sleeveless-white-t-shirt” phase. Also, trembling with fear at my mom’s reaction to learning I lost that shirt on the lake, I had to pay a 200% markup to buy another one from a kid at school who had the same shirt.)
3. At 83, mom’s punches barely leave a mark (however, her words still do a lot of damage)
2. 2010 Ford Escape holds more (okay, all) of my treasured belongings than that crappy Oldsmobile
1. Back then I was burdened with having friends and fun stuff to do when I left home, now I’m free to work on sh*tty websites to my heart’s content
(Editor’s Note: After writing the self-indulgent stuff above (in an effort to make the narrative more internet-compelling) I got some unfathomably bad news – and the kind of news that generally makes people say “well, that gives things perspective” but in this case it gives zero perspective because it makes no fucking sense. One of my buddies from my boat passed away unexpectedly the other night…there are no words that can do justice to something so tragic, but I will say that Chuck – a great guy and probably the most capable officer in our entire wardroom (no small accomplishment with a roomful of workaholic geniuses) – was basically Ron Swanson before Ron Swanson existed. He built a large fishing boat by himself – from f*cking SCRATCH: welded the frame together, coupled a couple of diesel engines to power the f*cking thing, did the most ornate woodwork you’ve ever seen throughout the cabin, it was astonishing to behold – and I took several skeptics over to do just that. Despite all that hands-on prowess he was actually an electrical engineer and something of a computer expert (he partitioned a hard drive and added a second operating system so he could run CAD on a government laptop in 1997) and was the only person on the boat who really understood the arcane Navy QA system. He also was pretty much always in a good mood (no small feat in the military) and is probably the only person I’ve ever met who literally did not give a shit what other people thought about him – totally comfortable with himself. Rest in peace, you will be missed greatly. Elizabeth, stay strong during this terrible time.)