Snapple Peach Passionfruit Tea Review

Look, I know what I'm talking about.

It's been a little under two months since Ash Wednesday, when I gave up all things sweet, including the obvious like cakes and cookies but going on to include everything from fruits to Snapple. Catholic Easter was last sunday, but this sunday is Orthodox Easter and I am free to forget my Lenten promise. Two months without drinking Snapple is a long time, made even longer when I discovered on the last two weeks that my grocery store now stocked two new flavors of Snapple. Cherry Pomegranate Tea and Peach Passionfruit Tea. I bought 3 each and tucked them under my desk and waited out the two weeks until I could finally try them.

So here I am, Sunday April 15th. I have an open box of citrus marmalade half moons, a SiteBuilder mugsworth of PG Tips (the biggest mug I have), and a classy little glass for the Peach Passionfruit Tea. It's one of Snapple's white teas, which is just another way of saying it's gonna taste a lot like flavored water. Respectable flavored water, but the point stands. Some things to note before drinking is the washed out color of the bottle. This threw me off at first because Snapple usually reserves that color for their diet drinks, ie the light pink of the Diet Raspberry or the light orange of Diet Peach. I have never enjoyed diet drinks so seeing the pastel coloring of these bottles initially turned me off. Luckily, these aren't "diet" in the sense that they use artificial sweetener. Instead they are just lightly sweetened. Which is good, I'd prefer if more drink companies chose to do that instead of using artificial sweetener. Only 80 calories!!! :O :o :O

So, open the cap. It's #735: "A full moon is nine times brighter than a half moon." Well, I have at least one of every snapple fact between 600 and 900, so it isn't a new one. Oh well. Into the pile.

First sip, it's pleasant and light. You do get a bit of the coarseness of the white tea from it, which is good as that was lacking in their Nectarine White Tea (which truly tastes like water with flavored sugar mixed in). Getting it under my tongue a bit it certainly doesn't taste lightly sweetened, though that might just be the sugar withdrawal talking.

The peach flavor comes across pretty well, passionfruit maybe less so. Passionfruit has always been one of those exotic flavors for which I have never had a good grasp. Passionfruit always plays second fiddle to other flavors in most new age drinks and thus I don't quite have a good idea of what it should taste like. In the aftertaste I can definitely make out something that isn't quite peach, though. Except maybe that's just the Acerola Fruit? Which, after looking at the wikipedia page, has bisexual flowers. Sounds sexy. Apparently it's a good source of vitamin c as well which makes sense, on top of the citric acid already added to the drink you can make out the dry and sour taste that comes with that vitamin.

I normally like to cleanse palette with regular black tea, which I know is stupid, seeing as tea doesn't exactly cleanse the palette, but I like how it tastes. Because of this, I may be thinking the white tea is stronger than it really is, which is shocking, considering the drink really could do with a more pronounced tea taste. It's a step stronger than the Nectarine, but a step isn't much. It's a full Ziggurat's worth of steps away from where I'd like it to be. But I recognize that not everybody wants the bitter of tea in their refreshing summer drink. But why are they buying snapple then?

A brighter, cleaner variant of Peach Tea. 3/5

For people who drink Snapple's regular Peach Tea, which is by far one of their best flavors, their Peach Passionfruit Tea isn't very moving. It is a good, light drink, but in the absence of a stronger, blacker tea flavor the acidity of the drink drowns out the peach. That is the real problem, that the label flavor is neither subtle or strong. It washes off quickly and leaves behind the clenching, dry taste of citrus. Peach and white tea are both very meek flavors, even over-steeped white tea is a far cry from a weak black. The drink does right in using less sugar than usual, and I continue to hope Snapple will one day find a way to do their white tea flavors right in the way it does its black tea, in a way that plays off the strengths of the tea and the flavor, but this is not the day nor the drink.

Edit: Since the first tasting of this new snapple flavor, I have come around to liking it more and more. It really is just a crisper version of their regular Peach Tea, and I'm okay with that. I'm keeping it at a 3/5 because in my mind that's still a mark of quality. The tangy-ness of the drink I've come to accept.

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Team Fortress 2 Is the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me

 And I don't even play TF2.
 
So for those of you who don't know (I don't know how you wouldn't but regardless), within the game Team Fortress 2 there is an intricate hat and item trading system. It was deployed several updates ago, it was called the "Mann-conomy" update.
What this allowed players to do was trade items that they had gained while playing TF2, or items they had crafted, or items that they had gained via special means. I'm told that hats are a big deal in TF2, and I believe it. Rarely, it seems, these days that a major game is released on Steam without some sort of TF2 items tied into its preorder. Homefront, Rift, Poker Night...
 
and Shogun 2.
 
With a preorder of Shogun 2 came 4 hats and 4 items. And some sort of noise maker thing. The game itself cost 50 dollars.


However, in reality, it only cost 30 dollars.
 
Yes, you are reading that correctly, 30 dollars. For a game that released yesterday.
How is this possible?
Team Fortress 2, my friends. The Team Fortress 2 community pretty much actively subsidizes pc gamers and their developers.
Yes, if you've done the math already, I sold those hats. I sold them for 20 dollars.
 
It wasn't hard either! It wasn't sleazy. I literally just launched tf2 and put my items up for sale. I don't play TF2, so what the fuck do I care? I sold all of it. I sold it for 20 dollars.
The developer gets 50 dollars, the consumer pays 30, and the TF2 community foots the rest of the bill. Supply Demand. TF2 hats are some of the most mystical, incomprehensible objects known to man.
 
In fairness, the game was bought as a gift, and if you're reading this brevman, thank you again! I was sure to send that 20 bucks to him, so really he's the one that benefited from this. But still, this revelation is pretty shocking to me. I play a lot of games that others don't. Games like Shogun 2. And now, as long as the fish are biting, I have a pretty fair chance of paying a lot less for them. Thank you, Team Fortress 2, truly, you are the greatest hat trading simulator known to man.
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VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy, also I Fold Cranes

I beat VVVVVV (did I get that right...? 1... 2... 3... argh this hurts my eyes whatever)
What I was thinking after I beat it?
Damn, this beat is fresh.
  

And then I went on to play Super Meat Boy.
Again:
  
 
What's up with these games and having the best music? I mean, I can't think, really, of a genre that consistently has abso-fucking-fantastic in-game music. Is it because you die a lot and you need some sick jamz to make people keep playing? I don't know. But I kept noticing it while I was playing both of these games. Other than in 2d platformers, I never seem to remember or really dig the music. I don't purport to be a video game expert, I certainly haven't played enough games to say with any sort of difinitive-ness that music in 2d platformers is great, but man, from my experience it feels that way. Dunno.
 
On the subject of Super Meat Boy, I have to say... the levels to unlock the Kid are pretty disappointing. Sure, they're hard, which is great... but no bullshit apples? No invisible walls? No lasers coming at you from EVERYWHERE? It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to be honest, seeing as the level in Super Meat Boy are just bunches of spikes.
Still love the game, though.
 
And finally.

I fold cranes.

I don't know how the habit started, but it's been going on for something like 3+ years now. I fold cranes when I'm not doing anything else. If I'm watching a movie, I'm probably folding cranes. If I'm talking to someone on the phone, probably cranes. If I'm watching a Day9 video, probably cranes too.
2-3 weeks ago I decided I'd start saving them instead of throwing them away, here are the results so far:

 They are made from Snapple labels (I drink lots of snapple, more on this later)
I also have a whiteboard in my room where I write down what I need to be doing for the week. I am now also using it to keep tally on my cranes.

 I'm writing this instead of doing that CS assignment
 
Now, as well as folding cranes, I also drink a lot of Snapple. I don't know how this started either, but I've taken to collecting the snapple caps as well. I don't know how many I have, I haven't counted. Maybe I will sometime.

 There are a lot, though. The bag is heavy.

ANYWAY. THAT FROOD OUT. GIVE TO THE FUCKIN' KIDS
  
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Educational Games or: Where the Fuck is Carmen Sandiego

Months ago, packing up for my return to University in the fall, I went downstairs and opened the cupboard by the family computer, the cupboard that contained all of the software we had collected over the years. Ranging back all the way to 1994, when my family first came to the United States, it was an incredible catalog of the electronic history our family had gone through. 
 
From the installation disks of Windows 95 to the bootleg copies of Visual Studio from when my dad first began his business, it was an incredibly nostalgic and bizarrely touching display. My eyes, of course, quickly went to a very particular section of our software collection. I wasn't here for photoshop, visual studio or outdated operating systems. 
 
I was here for video games.  
 

 There isn't a game I have fonder memories of.
And there they were, the cd cases of every video game from my childhood. Our family never owned a console, not a nes, commodore, playstation or game cube, I grew up only with pc games. I began leafing through the thick stack of games, looking for something to bring with me to college. The original Age of Empires, Black and White, Myst, Myth II, Rise of Nations, Unreal, Master of Orion... I could honestly feel something pulling at my heart as I lovingly gazed at these games that meant to me so much.

 
There was something else, I noticed, however. Besides those games I had played at age 8 and up, there was another category of games: Educational Video Games. Carmen Sandiego. Jump Start. Reader Rabbit. Magic Schoolbus. The memories from playing those games strongly imprinted in my mind. I could still remember how absolutely horrifying I found the goo monster that would appear in one of the levels of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I remembered the sick jamz that played on the radio of Jump Start: 1 Grade. 

 Some of the levels in Carmen Sandiego Math Detective were fucking scary. Amnesia, you ain't got shit on this.
Above all what struck me was just how well I remembered everything in those games. These were games I played when I was as young as 6 years old. I can't even remember the gender of my teacher from back then, and I couldn't write in cursive if my life was on the line, and yet I could tell you everything you do in Jump Start, Carmen Sandiego or Reader Rabbit. In order to unlock this door I need a key that has six sides. Do you want to know what sort of shape has six sides? Because I can tell you what fucking shape it is. It is a motherfucking hexagon.
 
That was when I had a sudden, shocking, and even frightening revelation. Where were they now? Where was Reader Rabbit? Jump Start? Magic Schoolbus?    
 

 Where in the motherfucking world is Carmen Sandiego?
I thought back to the last time I was at best buy. Typing tutor? Rosetta Stone? Learn Math ? What the fuck was this garbage? Who the hell was responsible for this? The internet, surely, would have the answers. I looked up the names of the companies on the boxes of these games: The Learning Company. Nothing could be more direct and true tho the company's purpose than that. Taken from wikipedia:

“ The original The Learning Company was founded by Ann McCormick, Leslie Grimm, and Teri Perl, three educators who saw the Apple II as an opportunity to enhance the ability to teach young children concepts of math, reading and science, along with Warren Robinett, fresh from a stint at Atari.”

Fuckin' right they saw it as an opportunity, because it was . I don't remember my elementary school education, the only thing that shit taught me was how to treat girls: 
 
contemptuously.


 

Reader Rabbit, though? I owe my knowledge of shapes to that dawg (rabbit). 

And then I read the rest...

The Learning Company first went public on April 28, 1992 - Morgan Stanley and Robertson, Stephens & Co. served as the lead underwriters. In 1995 TLC became the target of larger software firms interested in purchasing it. In that year a "bidding war" took place between Brøderbund and SoftKey, with the latter eventually acquiring TLC for $606 million in cash. SoftKey took up The Learning Company's name and continued acquiring other software companies including Mindscape, Inc. in March 1998 for $150 million and, ironically, former rival Brøderbund in June of the same year for $416 million. Mattel purchased the company in 1999 for $3.8 billion from the Canadian Entrepreneur Kevin O'Leary, [2] renaming it "Mattel Interactive", in what has been called one of the worst acquisitions in corporate history. [3] Mattel sold Learning Co. to Gores Technology Group, receiving $27.3 million for the unit. TLC, along with Brøderbund, is now a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; however, some of the acquired entertainment holdings were sold to Ubisoft. “

... 

“ As of December 17, 2008, TLC closed its online store, leaving their products to be found at retail stores and other online distributors.

I wanted to choke. What was this? A joke? 
 
Dudes, you know... maybe this is the reason cartoons are garbage and kids are morons these days. Maybe this is why Twilight is popular and Justin Bieber gets any sort of attention. Maybe it's not because the older generation always thinks the younger one is dumb, maybe it's because the younger generation is dumb. Maybe it is because something is missing. 
Carmen Sandiego is missing.
For real missing.

 Damnit Carmen! Time travel? How're we supposed to compete with that?
 
This blog entry all started coming together one long bus-ride ago, months after my revelatory moment looking at the catalog of games from my childhood. I opened up Steam and searched my library for a game that could be played with a trackpad and the only game I saw there that was already installed was Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition. Why I bought the game I don't know, I had a passing interest in chess and it was on sale one day, the devious power of Steam at full effect. 
 
I booted up the game and the game greeted me with two options: to learn or to play. 
 
This caught my interest. I was nothing resembling an impressive chess player by any means, the opportunity to learn to play was an incredibly enticing one. I was dubious, however, as to how helpful it would actually be. Most likely it was a simple tutorial on how the pieces moved.  
 
It was not.  
 
For the next four hours I found myself learning chess in a way that was more in depth and interactive than anything else I would have had access to. By the end of the bus ride I was actually... miraculously... interested in learning more about the game. And by learning more about the game, I mean playing more Chessmaster . My performance in chess saw real, noticeable improvement. I began playing games recreationally, and even skillfully. After I had exhausted most of the lessons in Chessmaster I continued to learn mostly from practice, though I did purchase a book on the subject, but already the videogame I had played had taught me so much about the subject that I could handle myself well on the board. 
 
It was after that experience that I realized just how amazing video games are at teaching , and also how incredibly overlooked that fact is. I was 18 years old, and I was sitting down and playing a game to learn more. Not only that, but it was incredibly effective and very engaging.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Video Games get a lot of bad flak from the media, and maybe there's something to it. Maybe there isn't. That isn't what this blog is about. I'm here asking a simple question:
What the fuck?
How did this happen? Where did these games go? Were they not effective? I have a hard time believing that's true, especially since my experience with them seems to point to the exact opposite. Remember when we were taught that bullshit about the types of learning? Kinetic, Auditory and Kinesthetic? Well hey, guess what is all of those things? A fucking videogame.
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The Most Oddly Soothing and Enjoyable Short Stories Ever

Years ago I came upon a website containing several short stories, short stories that centered around singer and songwriter Roy Orbison being wrapped entirely in clingfilm.
That was the subject, the goal, the point of every story: a man with a large collection of clingfilm wraps Roy Orbison in clingfilm.
 
It was strange, the stories possessed a certain... mesmerizing quality, a quality that I remember to this day and occasionally attempt to emulate in my own writing. You might say to yourself: "ha! what a strange and silly thing to write about... wrapping a man in clingfilm, how is that entertaining?". And... I would no doubt have agreed with you.
...but then I read the short stories myself and it was... strange. It was calming, in a way. I was drawn in to the narrative and --strangely --I almost felt like I... related. I became enamored myself with the idea of wrapping an individual that I admire, be he Roy Orbison or Jeff Bridges, in clingfilm. Then patiently watching him, making small talk, enjoying the moment.
 
The first short story is here, I highly recommend you take the time to read it:

 Truly, read the story. It's difficult to describe but... it's calming. Endearing in a way, relate-able... everything is okay.
 
For those who prefer their stories to be interactive, there is also the Roy Orbison Wrapped in Clingfilm Adventure Game 
 
Read, play, and become engrossed in the state of mind it puts you in. The state of mind of wrapping loved ones and those you admire in clingfilm.
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Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy

Something's been bothering me for a long time, it's something I see endemic in how the people I interact with talk about the world around them. To put it plainly: they hate it. And it's not just some tight-nit bunch, not some closed-off sector. Everywhere I seem to go, the people I meet feel this way.  

*sigh*
 
Now I'm no ancient, I've been on this world for only 18 years. Perhaps people have always been this way, uncompromisingly bitter and jaded in the context of their environment. But God... I hope not. I have to imagine that people used to take their surroundings for what they're worth and make the best of it, as opposed to this horribly stagnant view of the world. 
 
The idea for this blog post has been long in the making, originally it was supposed to simply be a rant about how tired I am about hearing people complain about planes. See, I live in the United States but am a citizen of Russia, so I travel a lot. Recently, since entering college, a lot of these trips have been by myself and the stuff I overhear is ridiculous. What constitutes an inconvenience worthy of note? Apparently something as petty as waiting 30 minutes extra. I know you people have places to go but New York isn't going anywhere, it won't care if you're 30 minutes late, it'll still be there when you arrive.   

 It reminded me of a youtube video I was shown years ago, which is where I got the title for this blog:

  
  

 
I love the world and I love people. Seriously, I do. I don't even consider myself an optimist, I consider myself a "your jaded ennui is doing fuck all"-ist. Is there something in our society today that's brought this about? Maybe the speed with which things are available to us has made patience a thing of the past? If so then that's really a tragedy, if that's how people want to roll then so be it. At least be fucking witty about it then. Cuz hearing about how shitty airline food is for the 100th time is getting me really close to killing myself. I'm sorry, your food doesn't taste good? Maybe the airline was too busy ensuring we remained airborne to bother with your fucking five star meal.

 
So what's up world? What's ailing you? Why the need to hate? I don't want to hear "it's just human nature" because I'm no alien. I like consoles and pcs. I like pc and mac. Maybe the trick is to just hate hating crap. Once you get into it, you might notice just how exhausting it is listening to all of the whine.

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You were harmed by the game that harms you.

Please be prepared to have the truth of everything revealed to you, for today I have played The Evidence o

 you
f Everything Exploding and my world has been forever changed.
 
The Evidence of Everything Exploding is not a game that you play, it is a game that plays you . 3 levels in and you will experience something peculiar. You will feel immersed, you feel li
 YOU CAN SEE THE EVIDENCE
ke you have always felt. You will feel like you are watching tv

and words, many words are coming at you and you understand all of them. They shoot into your heart and mind and embed themselves and you ca n feel the contour of every one expressing a deep underlying paranoia that you have always known but never expressed but now... now it is there. Now it is a feeling that you have. Irrefutable evidence makes manifest in manners that verifies without recourse that yo u have alwa ys known it. Y ou have always kno wn explosions.
You have always known explosions. 
There is no remorse, n or a reason for doubt, the evidence of its existe
 EVIDENCE
nce is there as plain as you are sitting at your screen.
But you have not yet been enlightened, the facts not yet not un/de/re/vealed.
 
You will pla
 You have always known but you did not know
y the Evidence of E verything Exploding and Bill Gates will attempt to stop you, y ou are your own greatest threat, his seed manipulate s into your monitor to bring closure to your mission of refound destructive truth. You are playing a game that harms you, harms you in ways you cannot understand or begin to comprehend or apprehend or deapprehend. You can only feel in terror as Evidence. Evidence of Explosions.
 
Now you must go on your own journey through the annals of conspiracy to over come and realize what has always been (un)known. You must make your journey through this cruel, harmful poetry to realize  the thing that your media and your president, NASA, has always been meaning, telling you through mediums and venti coffee cups and posters of children going to movies that there is something you have to understand and that is 

 

THE EVIDENCE OF EVEYRTHING EXPLODI

 the evidence of everything exploding

NG

 
 
The evidence of everything exploding. <-------------------- the evidence of everything exploding 
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Alas Poor RUSE, I knew him well, Giantbomb...

Today the RUSE public beta has closed and so ends my 4 week long obsession with that game.
 
To call it an obsession perhaps may be a little strong, I only spent the weekends playing it, as my weekdays are devoted entirely to College. But when I did get to play... I really threw myself into it.
As a little background, I've always been an avid RTS player. Some of my earliest memories of videogames are of playing the original Age of Empires and Warcraft. I played Starcraft nonstop for a long time (though I was too young to really get competitve). The last RTS that I seriously sunk a lot of time into was Rise of Nations, where I managed to climb ranking ladders and even top the charts a couple times.
But then that all stopped for awhile. I started focusing more on studies, games like Civ 4 and the Total War series drew my attention away.
 
But then, just 4 or so weeks ago, a friend tapped me on the proverbial shoulder and asked me to play some RUSE with him. I was hooked instantaneously.
 
I could go on and on about what RUSE has done right. It's truly a phenomenal game. It's core concept is to make an RTS unlike any RTS before it... an RTS that does not focus on "micro".
For those unfamiliar with the term, "micro" is what you call minute manipulations of your units to gain advantages on the field. To give a good example of "micro", take a look at "muta stacking" in Starcraft.
For many new players to RTS, micro is incredibly frustrating and counter intuitive. Most new RTS players want to build up their units and invest in large numbers and the late game. Micro is tedious and annoying to them, and they get beaten because of it.
 
I don't disagree, "micro" can definitely be a huge pain. There were times when I bemoaned micro. I've come to terms with it now and employ the same tactics to win matches. I still, however, feel that muta stacking is... well. Silly. It's a Real Time Strategy game. Not a Real Time Click a Bunch game.
 
What RUSE sets out to do is remove as much micro hassle as possible and focus all of its gameplay design on making the focus being outwitting and outmaneuvering your opponent. You do this by concealing your units and fooling your opponent into making mistakes, small ones over and over, until they lose.
------------------
 
But I digress. This is a blog post, not a what's-so-great-about-ruse post.
All of this RUSE hysteria I've had culminated last weekend when I and a friend I made playing RUSE online entered into the 2v2 tournament sponsored over at the official RUSE ubisoft forums. The prize: 2 preorders of RUSE.
 
We started off shaky, narrowly escaping some early losses during the lightning elimination rounds. Miraculously, though, my friend and I made it to the semifinals and finally... the finals.
 
It was a complete shock to us, we incredibly nervous. We hadn't been involved in the RUSE forum community, which pretty much all the other high ranking players were, we were complete unknowns. Here we were up against the no. 1 best RUSE player and his teammate, the 4th best.
 
Here's the match:
 

 
I'm ThatFrood (blue). My ally is Pofig (green). Our opponents are red, Xoy (no. 1) and Wolfy (no. 4)
I'll spoil the video for you (it isn't too great quality anyway!)... we won!
 
We were absolutely elated, never in a million years did we expect that to happen. My friend and I managed to beat the top RUSE players in a RUSE 2v2 tournament, winning for ourselves copies of the game.
---------------------------------------------
 
The RUSE beta is over now, and I am very sad. The game doesn't come out until June 3rd and I will patiently wait until it is released. In the meantime, though, I felt I'd write this blog and get the word out for this game, maybe promote the guide I wrote for the beta as well! (now unfortunately useless until I'll need to likely rewrite it substantially for the changes made in the final release).
 
RUSE is a fantastic game and a very easy RTS to pick up. I'd like to point out that despite the fact that I had a bunch of prior RTS experience, my teammate, Pofig, did not! This was his FIRST RTS. And look, he's winning tournaments!
Why? Because RUSE is all about strategy and tactics. It's Macro, the big picture. It's deceiving and outmaneuvering your opponents. If you've got a smart head on your shoulders and a knowledge of the game mechanics,  you can play RUSE, and you can have a fucking great time doing it too!
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