Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top 5 - Holiday Candies

I'm feeling hale and hearty tonight, so what do you say we go for another 3 BLOG NIGHT! Oh yes, I think it's time for one! Brace yourselves. I've noticed that a lot of my friends blog about lists, and the Internet is certainly suffused with a great many "Top 10" and "Top 5" and "Top-Random Number" lists. So, I thought to myself, "Self, you need to get with the times, and do a list post." So, here we are. My first list. In honor of the Christmas and holiday season, may I present: Jon's Top 5 Holiday Candies! 5. Peeps - I love Peeps, not because they taste good exactly, but because they're such a fun candy. As a young boy I remember eating them and doing strange scientific experiments by melding more than one peep together. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. You bite off all the little chicken heads, or chicken butts, and then stick them together to create some strange animal fit for a KFC Urban Legend! Nowadays there are even more possibilities owing to the wider variety in both species and color of peep. Ever want a blue, yellow and black Chicken-Bunny-Bat? Just save your peeps for a year and go crazy. They'll last. This brings me to the other reason I like the humble peep. There is a thriving community of peep enthusiasts that discuss at length the methods and nuances of peep aging. Two extreme schools exist who prefer either the perfectly fresh, soft peep, or the delightfully crusted stale peep. I myself am of the latter school. There are of course those in between who age their peeps to some middle ground. I find the intellectual discussion of silly topics like peep aging to be immensely enjoyable, and this scratches that itch. The only reason peeps are not higher on the list is because they have lost a lot of their "exclusivity". Peeps used to be an Easter candy, but now they have them year round with everything from Christmas Tree Peeps, to Bat Peeps, to Chinese New Year Peeps. Well, maybe not those. For a candy to really grab you, it has to make you want it, and the fact that you can get a Peep of some kind just about all the time, kind of kills the thrill for me. I am a purist however. I'll only eat yellow chick peeps myself. :) 4. Candy Hearts - On the list for fun and exclusiveness more than taste, (though I've seen some variations for different occasions and holidays, and they taste pretty good if you're into Necco candy like I am), the classic Necco Sweetheart set many a grade school boy or girl's heart racing around "VALEMTIMES DAY" every year. Tell me you never got one of those awesome fancy Valentines from that girl or boy you had a crush on in the 4th grade. Sure his/her parents bought, signed and sealed one for everyone in the whole class, but that doesn't mean that he/she didn't smile just a little when he/she dropped it into your artsy-craftsy Valentine mailbox. 3. Candy Cane - Tasteful; elegant; classic. The Candy cane is a staple of the Christmas season. These powerhouses of holiday cheer can brighten a day without fail. I don't usually fall for a piece of candy that is just reshaped and repackaged for each holiday. It's still the same candy. However, the candy cane is a little different. Sure it's just a long curvy Starbright mint, but in this case, you don't see a lot of peppermint trees, bunnies or bats. The cane is a classical symbol of Christmas sweets. I listed the candy cane at number 3 just because I love a good candy cane. It's mood candy. Deck the Halls and Silver Bells and all that! :) 2. Cadbury Mini Eggs - Actually my favorite Easter candy. I could polish off the whole bag. I mean, the BIG bag, in one afternoon if I were not so adverse to becoming sick on them, and then losing my love of such a great candy. These are as simple as it gets. Chocolate and Sugar Coating. Like an M&M, but bigger, with Cadbury chocolate. This is the holiday candy I dream of all year. Yet they are listed at number 2. Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you. As much as I love the flavor and the tactile crunchy sensation of a good mini egg, they aren't quite the total package that the number 1 entry has become. 1. Cadbury Creme Eggs - Being that Easter traditionally rolls out the big guns when it comes to candy, it's hard to stand out amongst a sea of contenders. There has been some controversy surrounding the Creme Egg and its size, which seems to be on the decline in recent years (Here, on Conan O'Brien, we see proof from BJ Novak) , but by and large, the Creme Egg has remained a pure, rich and sweet champion of Easter candy. Some say that the Creme Egg is too rich, but I disagree. If it's too rich, you're eating it too fast...slow down. Enjoy. You think these things grow on trees? Actually, they're laid, by none other than the Cadbury Bunny. *bok bok bok bok BOK* Honorable Mention: There are some good candies out there that are holiday themed, but a lot of them are repackaged and reshaped. You can get a peppermint patty, or a peanut butter cup anytime day or night. The holiday versions are just marketing tricks. You can list the Peppermint Batty and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs/Trees/Pumpkins and a truly tasty candy, but the truth is that they are just the regular candy in a different pair of pants. Though the Batty is a nice pun. I'll admit it. It made me chuckle. :) So these are my Top-5. Anyone out there have a favorite that I didn't list? Don't worry. With holiday candy, there's no right or wrong. Faves? Anyone? -J

General Update

I thought I would make a general update along with my pottery post. A lot of things have been going on and you, constant reader, deserve to be informed! What kind of blogger would I be if I didn't tell you all about everything? Let's start with how the running thing is going. Michelle and I have continued our pursuit of fitness. In fact, we joined a local gym for the winter months and ran a week and a half ago in the Jingle Bell Run in Huntington, West Virginia. I posted 28 minutes and 42 seconds (This was the accomplishment of another of my 43 Things as well! To run a 5k in under 30 minutes) and placed 114 out around 180. Michelle was about 10 seconds and three people behind me. It was 25 degrees and snowing. 5K in the cold and snow is definitely a new experience for me. Next year, and I will run it again next year, I plan on having a full balaclava. My face wasn't working when we finished. I raced the guy who placed 115 neck-and-neck for the better part of two blocks. At the end I had a little more than he did and pulled ahead, but I went to congratulate him and such, and as I was shaking his hand all I could get out was "Conssazhhalahyan...goofinsh." It was then I realized that my jaw muscles were too cold to function. I have to say that I had a good time with the other crazies, running in the snow. I've always prided myself on being a little odd, and I think this falls right in line with that assessment. Ok, what else...the novel! Not too much to report here, with the exception that I have done some work WITH it, but not exactly ON it. See, the last two times I have started to write, I have ended up working on the world building and magic system. Two things that Brandon Sanderson touched on at his signing in Dayton. I started thinking things through and ended up realizing that I needed to understand the world I was writing in a little better before I could progress much further. It is tricky to write in a world of your own making, because you really can't take anything for granted. Everything from the geology to the political climate can effect your writing. (Robert Jordan is perhaps the best world builder I have ever read. I don't intend to go into nearly as much detail as he did, but I love the idea of it. I get the feeling that when RJ wrote about a broken teapot, he knew when it was broken, and who did it, and why, even if he never told you.) Most of the writing I've done in the past two months won't be in the novel itself, but it is the framework on which the book must rest, and for that reason is it very important. Possibly more important than the book itself. Let me leave it at the fact that Merrick is progressing, however slowly, but progressing nonetheless. In other news, Michelle and I actually went on our Vesuvius Backpacking Trip! I think I can be brief and just say that we had a great time, and found our equipment to be sufficient for the kind of weather we'll be expecting on the AT, but the trip itself really deserves its own entry to do it justice. Though, you can view 39 pictures from the trip with comments by going HERE. You know, looking at the gallery, it's kind of a photo blog in and of itself. Let me know what you think! Lastly, I would like to say that I really appreciate you, the readers. It's cool to know that you're enjoying reading along with me here. It keeps me looking for the next post in my day to day life! :) Additionally, It is amazing enough that friends and family read what I write, but I was particularly jazzed (I know what you're thinking. "Jazzed? Who talks like that?") to get a comment from someone I've never met! Thanks for the note of appreciation! I'll close this entry before it gets too much longer. More to come, guaranteed! Talk to you soon! -J

Pottery - Night...oh nevermind.

Hey all! It's me! I know I've had a bit of a hiatus here, but let me tell you that the past 4 weeks have been ridiculously busy. I have been running around like crazy with work and with everything else. New accounts have been opening at work, which can be a little bit of a headache, but I think all in all we have things running. Also, I played a wedding this past weekend with my good friend TJ. I hadn't done much with my saxophone and I had to work really hard to build my chops back up. Anyway, tonight begins my vacation until the beginning of the new year. Now I can relax, and catch up on my blog. As well as get ready for Christmas. And a host of other things. Ok, so maybe RELAX isn't the word, but I can at least do some other stuff. :) On to pottery! Ok, so I have been a few more times since my last update, and I want to report that all is going well, and I will be continuing into the new year with the classes. Last night I went down to the studio to work on a few things. I threw three pieces that were by far my tallest work, and I think my most complex. Each of them fell into the 10-11" range, and I used a throwing stick to create the kind of urn-like pieces you might imagine when you think of a genie bottle, or a classic long necked vase. The throwing stick is basically a wooden tool that lets you reach into said long necks where your hand would not be able to go. A new batch of glazed work is coming out next Monday. I keep promising pictures, and you probably think I'm deliberately putting you off. This time you'd be right. :) Y'see, several pieces are going to people as gifts, and I think one or two actually read my posts. Owing to a strict no peeking clause here in the Cook household, I'm delaying a bit to maximize the potential for surprise. I think it might also be more efficient to link to my gallery where the pottery will be shown as well. So, here I am, now an 18 week veteran of the Bill Meadows pottery class in Ashland Kentucky. How do I feel, looking back? I am amazed at how much I have improved, and also amazed at how much improving I have to do before I would consider myself proficient. I like being where I am though. It is so much easier when you are a beginner in a particular skill to see your improvement. As you get better, your leaps become smaller, and it can get discouraging. The fortunate thing about pottery is that I decided to do it for fun and don't have to improve at any rate, nor do I need to be graded, or anything that would make it seem like some required class for credit. Nope, this is a hobby and I am quite enjoying myself. -J