Monday, July 31, 2006

It's all Bacardi's fault...

Woman Claims Bacardi Rum is Dangerous

MIAMI (AP) - July 26, 2006 - A woman who says she was severely burned at a Miami night club four years ago is suing Bacardi, claiming the company's rum is dangerous and defective.

The lawsuit says a bartender was pouring shots when a customer lit a menu on fire and placed it in the stream of alcohol. A bottle of Bacardi 151 that was being used to pour the shots turned into a flame thrower.
The woman says she suffered second and third degree burns and was permanently disabled and disfigured.

Miami-based Bacardi USA hasn't commented yet on the suit.


Damn Bacardi for making yummy alcoholic things and damn chemistry for making alcohol flammable.

I'm amazed she didn't also sue Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Smokey the Bear.

Let me see - she's at a bar that is full of alcohol which is, by nature, flammable. That a bartender happened to be pouring alcohol is not important - that's his job. However, what was a customer doing setting a menu on fire?

And a bar that uses paper menus is pretty much asking for it.

My question is this - why didn't she sue the dude with the fire fetish?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Light Weight and Losing Weight - Whatever Your Reason - Ride

After such a heavy post earlier, this seems much more my speed - 18 of them.

Jim Caple at offers a great essay on why Floyd Landis' Tour De France win should inspire us to ride our bikes more often.

Then let Landis be an inspiration. He grew up under strict Mennonite parents who were adamantly opposed to competitive cycling on religious grounds. His father tried wearing him out with a draining list of daily chores, but Landis simply trained late at night, and he rode his bike in the worst a Pennsylvania winter could throw at him. As if that weren't difficult enough, he also wore sweatpants instead of Lycra biking shorts when he competed in races, a practice that meant carrying an extra 10 pounds of water by the end of a sweaty event.

Thanks to the most stirring bike ride that didn't include someone wearing a Cutters T-shirt, he also just won the Tour de France despite an arthritic hip that needs replacing.

And we can't ride to the grocery store? The Tour de France is over for another year; now, let's make a Tour de America a 365-day-a-year event. Get out of the car and get on the bike.

Ride because you're patriotic and you know it makes far more of a difference than just slapping a flag decal on your bumper. Ride because it will hurt Exxon's profits. Ride to improve your health. Ride because it's fun. Ride because it will piss off the French if we develop yet another Tour champion (America has won 11 titles since France last won one). Whatever your reason, ride.

Awesome...just awesome.

9/11 is no joke in this town.

In between the World Cup and the Headbutt Heard `Round the World and the current attacks in Lebanon and Israel, and the pleasant distraction of Floyd Landis winning the Tour De France, you may have missed the controversy going on at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The University hired a part-time instructor, Kevin Barrett to teach a course on Islam...who believes that the Government is behind the 9/11 attacks.

Now, a professor's personal beliefs should not be a criteria for employment, just like political, religious or spiritual beliefs be the basis for anybody's employment, within reason. I'm not sure if I'd hire a pacifist as a sniper, no matter how good of a shot that pacifist is, but that's just an obvious example. Nor would a Catholic make a good Rabbi.

What sets apart the UW employee apart is that he intends to teach the 9/11 attack as part of his class - not the known facts, but that the Government essentially sponsored the attacks. The World Trade Center was brought down by controlled demolition, no plane actually hit the Pentagon - basically, everything we saw on that horrible Tuesday, the images that are etched into our collective subconscious - are all lies to further fuel the winds of war.

It's a rather stretched conspiracy theory as such things go. There's no Zapruder film that clearly shows a second bullet, or a ridiculous Warren Commission report on the "Magic Bullet Theory." There's no missing aircraft carriers in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, nor is there a headline in New Mexico that a UFO crashed into the desert, only to be denied vehemently the next day. In this case, we have several million eyewitnesses who watched planes, either in person or on CNN, collide into the World Trade Center. There are fewer eyewitnesses regarding the Pentagon collision, probably because the proximity of Ronald Reagan/National Airport causes a certain tune-out factor when a low-flying plane is in the area. Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, has a couple of varying eyewitness reports, lending some credibility to those who refuse the accepted notion that the plane was retaken by the passengers.

What the conspiracy folks do have is some shaky ideas of physics, poorly designed websites, and footage of the Towers that show small explosions out the sides of the building as it came down. Just search for World Trade Center collapse, and you'll see what they consider "compelling evidence" that it was a controlled demolition.

Funny - what I saw was a skyscraper that just had a big-ass aircraft plow into it at a few hundred miles per hour, full of jet fuel, making a really big fire. I'm going to guess that not too many people have ever seen a big-ass aircraft plow into a skyscraper like that before, and have studied the intricate physics involved when structural engineering meets ungodly heat and weakened structural integrity.

Popular Mechanics devoted an article on debunking the 9/11 conspiracy theories, showing where each of the popular ideas from various websites was factually wrong, if not completely fabricated. But, for those who either hate the United States, the Administration, the Press, the Bush family, or simply want to believe in a conspiracy, no amount of proof will dissuade them of that.

What bothers most people is that Barrett is allowed to teach this class, supposed to be on the fundamentals of Islam, and to lecture his belief as fact. His employment by the University has been a popular debate on the comment boards of UW Law Professor Ann Althouse's blog. I have no problem with him teaching the class per se - he converted to Islam, has a doctorate, and was the teaching assistant for the class in the past - he's qualified to teach.

What bothers me is that his belief is based, according to this article, on a preset anti-Establishment mindset, a preset slant towards conspiracy theories, and partially on a REALLY bad piece of faulty logic by his mentor, David Ray Griffin. From the article:

During the speech, Griffin made the case that it was implausible the Pentagon could be hit by an airplane, since it is "surely the best defended building on the planet." The U.S. military has the best radar systems in the world and "does not miss anything occurring in North American airspace," he added.

This is what happens when people ASSume. Surely the building is well-defended - but by traditional attacks. What's traditional about using an airliner as a missile?

Moreover, have any of these people ever really BEEN to the Pentagon, or even driven NEAR it? I drive past it all the time, with millions of dollars spent to rework the surrounding highways and parking lots to make it more secure. I drove past it all the time, pre-9/11, as my family was spread between Maryland and Northern Virginia. The building is surrounded by the major commuting thoroughfares of Interstate 395, US Route 1, Virginia Route 27, Columbia Pike, and various other support roads. Just a few thousand feet to the south is Pentagon City and Crystal City, all part of the city of Arlington. Just across the Potomac is Washington, and just a mile north is Rosslyn. There are millions of people who live and work within a couple miles of the Pentagon. There's a huge bus stop and a subway stop at the Pentagon's sprawling complex.

Now, where are all the ASSumed anti-aircraft batteries? On top of Macy's at the Mall? Room 1000 at the Sheraton? The rotating restaurant at the Doubletree? "Excuse me, Chili's - no more fajitas for you, we need to put in a Patriot missile system." To my knowledge, Hertz Rent-a-Car doesn't rent Apache helicopters with Sidewinders...and if they do, I know what *I'm* renting the next time I go to Los Angeles!

I would invite Mr. Barrett and Mr. Griffin to look at a map of the DC Metropolitan Area, and look at the 3 Major International Airports all within 10 minutes of flying time to the Pentagon, including one that is less than 30 seconds flying time from the building (Ronald Reagan/National Airport). Then, I'd like him to explain the logic of shooting down a commercial airliner with missiles over one of the most densely populated regions of the country. Northern Virginia is not exactly rural Wisconsin - it's more like Southern California.

Now, explain to the residents of Arlington and Fairfax Counties why their homes, lives and property were destroyed because the military shot down a commercial airliner full of innocent civilians, causing the wreckage to rain down on their pleasant suburban communities. If crashing jetliners can cause massive damage to the biggest office buildings in the US, then imagine what it could do to an unsuspecting cul-de-sac, with burning hot wreckage and boiling jet fuel.

I am so disgusted with these low-rent Fox Mulders convinced the Government is involved with every evil in the world, or that is has every possible solution. It's awfully easy to Monday morning quarterback five years after the fact, that there should have been anti-aircraft measures in place. These people who believe "The X-Files" was a documentary have forgotten that the US was not at war on September 10th. No Homeland Security, no troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, no removing shoes to enter a plane. There was no reason to line DC with anti-aircraft batteries...and considering the nearest installations with anything like that are at least 30 minutes from the Pentagon, perhaps that explains why the building was hit. It's mostly an office building, not a top-secret base tucked away in the Nevada mountains, that same base where no doubt Barrett and his ilk believe where the Roswell UFO is stored and the moon landing was faked.

I'll try to find something a little less meaty to blog about later.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chai Booze - Are You Kidding Me?


As part of my weeklong desire to drink away the heat, I stopped by my friendly Virginia ABC store. I've never been in a government-run liquor store before, and was interested to compare this place to private-run stores in my hometown in Maryland. The VABC store had all the staples of liver-crushing goodness - fine aged tequilas, dark spicy rums, flavored vodkas - and the low-end ten gallon plastic drum-sized gins and whiskeys. It was a good mix of high-end taste and low-end value. A couple of their prices seemed a bit high - Sauza and Jose Cuervo tequilas seemed about 10 to 25% more expensive than Maryland and DC - but they had some good specials and discounts to bring it back to par.

What really caught my eye was Voyant Chai Creme Liqueur, a relatively new entry in the market. The website describes it as:

Aged Virgin Island Rum, Fresh Dutch Cream, Black Tea from India, Premium Spirits from Holland and a Distinctive Blend of Spices from Asia give Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur the Rich, Creamy Smoothness that you should expect from a Premium Liqueur.

Other than an Annoying Habit of Randomly Capitalizing Letters incorrectly in a Sentence for No Reason, the stuff sounds prettty good. In three hours, give or take, I will be partaking of this new beverage. The Voyant website offers some recipes, a few of which sound pretty interesting, but definitely a little heavy on thicker liqueuers and milk. The stuff sounds perfect for a cold winter day; in fact, I can already picture using this in a rum & coffee mixture to keep warm at football games and ski lodges. Has anybody tried this stuff, and have some tips to share?

I'll do some experimenting tonight...all in the name of research and service to you, dear readers. Behold the effort...nay...the sacrifices I make for you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

you can get cavities there too?

I hope they change the brushes.

How the hell do you gargle down there?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Stay Cool and Get Plowed - Posted on DCFUD

lil umbrella.jpg

The next couple of days are going to bring to mind several burning questions, not the least of which is "why in the hell did the Founding Fathers build the Nation's Capital on a swamp?," and, for the purposes of this post, is "how can I beat the heat and drink myself into denying either my existence or the 98% humidity?" As a former bartender, I occasionally get asked this and similar questions, kind of like Barry and Ira, the two ice cream guys in City Slickers, except less about dessert and more about alcohol. However, while the booze is important, the mixer may be more so.

1) When it's scorching, nothing does the trick quite like a good sour mix or fresh-squeezed limes. Most sour mixes are made up of limes, some lemon and an ungodly amount of sugar. However, that dose of vitamin C can really recharge your batteries on a crazy hot day. The margaritas at Lauriol Plaza, Oyamel and the Banana Cafe' are all winners, though Oyamel is closed on Mondays. Now I know how The Boomtown Rats felt, if not Brenda Ann Spencer.

2) Fizzy drinks cut through dry mouth like emo kids listening to Death Cab for Cutie. Drinks made with tonic or soda waters, or ginger ale can keep you sane. Tonic water contains quinine, a potion that helps treat malaria and leg cramps - who knew gin and tonic could classify as medicine? Excuse me while I go self-medicate...

Some bartenders freely swap ginger ale and Sprite, and that's one of my pet peeves, along with people who wear sports gear unrelated to the teams or the sport they're watching. You know what I'm talking about - the dude who wears a Portland Trailblazers NBA jersey at a Washington Nationals/New York Mets basketball game. Gawd I hate that. Along that line, ginger ale is slightly spicy, and should be used to contrast overly sweet alcohols or mixers. Sprite can smooth over strong, sharp drinks with its citrus base. A well-stocked bar will contain both beverages, and the wise mixologist knows the difference. A Jack-and Ginger would taste like refried hell with Sprite, though a splash of Sprite in a margarita made with a sharp tequila like Sauza Hornitos can make it more tolerable for those who like lighter drinks.

3) Ice cream is good; fruit is better. Some people swear by ice cream drinks when the heat's on, and a good frozen mudslide can be a fine idea, but who wants to walk the streets with too much dairy in their gullets? I learned the lesson of Ron Burgundy well when he said on that fateful sweaty San Diego day"Milk was a bad choice." ronburgundymilk.jpg

I prefer more of the lighter, fruit-based frozen drinks on days like today. A Banana Nutbread is an awesome drink but is heavier than Beltway traffic. I'd suggest an old standby - the pina colada - and a tolerance of the Rupert Holmes' song.

For the record - I had no idea that guy had a greatest hits collection, and if I had to guess, it would have come out on cassette single. I figured he did that one song and realized he'd have to play it EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE and just ended it all Budd Dwyer style. Nah, he's a famous writer, playwright and seems to have weird taste in eyewear.

Also, there's nothing wrong with adding crushed ice to an old favorite. A frozen Cuba Libre - a.k.a. rum and coke - is awesome, as is a frozen Cape Cod and Long Island Ice Tea. A frozen Mai Tai is like drinking an adult Slurpee but without that weird spoon-straw thing.

4) Malternative - the term used by the industry to identify drinks like Cider Jack or Bacardi Silver, these beverages, besides having more sugar in them than the Nintendo 64 kid, can really cool you down on a hot day. A Mike's Hard Lemonade usually doesn't suck, and to make them a little more palatable and colorful, pour a shot of a colored liquor like Chambord, Midori or Key Largo Schnapps. Watch the whole beverage change color and provide a bit more kick!

5) Combine them all and make the ultimate summer drink - The Frozen Tom Collins. Sour mix, a good gin like Beefeaters or Gordons, a splash of tonic and fresh lime juice - prevent malaria AND scurvy, get refreshed. I make mine served over crushed ice, and then float a layer of Grenadine, blue curacao or Midori for fun. Using a little umbrella is up to you.

What do you guys like to drink on a hot day? I'll be glad to do some research.

Friday, July 14, 2006

FIXYOURTHINKING.COM: Congress To Get Personal About The Personals

FIXYOURTHINKING.COM: Congress To Get Personal About The Personals

I have a new hero.

Not the guy I linked to above, though I've been stuck on his blog for the past couple hours, sifting through scores of Apple-related posts. But my new hero is my young coworker Mr. Garcia. Fresh from Austin, Texas, working for a defense contractor here in NoVA, he seemed somewhat out of his element when he joined my agency last month. Nice enough fellow, I figured I'd introduce him to some of my friends if he was feeling lonely. I've got a good group of Austin Ex-Pats around here, and we could all pound a couple of Shiner Bocks and talk about S. Congress Street like a new-wave Virginia-based Merry Pranksters, albeit with better grooming and high-speed internet access.

Mr. Garcia had commented to me about an intern at a nearby agency who seemed to have a certain look about her - that look being hot and blonde. I hadn't noticed, and once Mr. Garcia pointed her out, I was a big fan. However, there was something I couldn't figure out - who wears skin-tight jeans at a government agency in the summer?

Answer - a European intern, that's who! I ran into her the other day at the elevators, and she was talking to one of her friends in that Eastern European accent that makes me wish I had been born a decade ealier, gone to the CIA, and become a spy. She's pretty decent in all physical aspects - a solid 7 or 8, I'd say, and, in the DoDefense, that makes her The Hottest Woman Ever.

Well, I saw Mr. Garcia today, and to tell him of the encounter, and he told me "Yeah, she's Romanian." I said "You've done your homework." He said "Yeah, we went out on a date already. Going out again."

That, my friends, is a man who is going places.

Anyway, back to the post. I was Slashdotted to this guy's post about the worst date ever. I didn't pay any attention to it - honestly, the internet is full of gawd-awful dating stories - why should I care about somebody else's?

Well, his story is truly awful. About the worst I've heard, and makes my previous horrible experiences all move down a notch in comparison. Suddenly, Woman Who Heard Voices, Girl Who Danced at The Exorcist house in Georgetown, and, the coup-de-grace, The Woman With Sandpaper Hands have all paled under the shining light of Internet Dating Hell this poor Apple tech has faced.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Kings Dominion - Reviewed by the Five Paragraph Bitter Theme Park Critic

In the hazy days of the 1970s, nothing excited young kids in my neighborhood like a trip to Kings Dominion. It was almost three hours away from Annapolis, Maryland, nestled in a small town near Richmond, Virginia called Doswell, and the drive there surely meant waking up before sunrise to get there at a decent hour. It was great - we'd ride past the big city of Washington DC, fall asleep through the country of Virginia and wake up staring at the 1/3rd-sized Eiffel Tower replica that dominated the Dominion. These were the days when the Rebel Yell and King Cobra were the wildest coasters on the coast, and even the cable car ride provided a thrill. The Scooby Doo Roller Coaster was a right of passage of any elementary school kid, as the 35-foot drop separated the diaper-wearers from the potty-trained. Poor Hershey Park in Pennsylvania was for the fat kids, and Six Flags America wasn't even Wild World yet.

It's a different ball of wax nowadays. The Rebel Yell is still around, the cable cars were removed (apparently, the park realized that keeping people suspended above the games kept those people from spending money on the games), and the King Cobra is in duty at the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. The King Cobra has been replaced by the Anaconda - bigger, taller, faster, with more loops. The Rebel Yell has been eclipsed by the Grizzly and the Hurler - both bigger, taller, faster with more turns.

Somewhere along the line, some maniac decided to make the Hypersonic XLC, which shoots people straight up and straight down at nearly 100 miles per hour. That wasn't enough, so they built the Drop Zone, which pulls people up nearly 40 stories before dropping them in a free-fall, and then stopped by electromagnets in the last precious few feet to a gentle rest. Somewhere between XLC and Drop Zone, I realized that, if pressured enough to do so, I can shit a brick.

This year, the Flight of Fear indoor coaster has been moved to Canada, the Volcano Blast Coaster has been having maintenance issues, and the Shockwave, so daring back in 1991, seems too tame by today's G-Force-addicted standards. The new Italian Job Turbo Coaster provides a heck of a thrill ride, and in a cute widdle Mini Cooper car. The Scooby Doo Roller Coaster is still there, though surrounded by the Fairly Oddparents instead of Daphne and Shaggy.

The park, like most theme parks, does not attract as many doctors and lawyers and investment bankers as they'd like. There's more than a fair share of gangstas, rednecks, greasy hyper children and people who came straight from the set of the Maury show. You're more likely to find a preppy kid in Tikrit than a full-set of teeth in a Kings Dominion visitor. However, at the end of the day, watching the sun set over the 1/3-sized Eiffel Tower, the stomach a little turned, the wallet a little lighter, and lugging around an oversized German Shepard, the park still has the ability to make any day 1978 again.

7 out of 12 Whammies! - 4 Coasters were outta commission, deducting a Whammy! each. Another Whammy! was deducted by the 10 year old southern kid who assured me, during our hour long wait for the Water Slide ride, that helicopters have M-16s (a rifle used by ground forces) on their sides, and no "dough-hers" - his two syllable way of saying "door" - and he was so certain, he told everybody in line. He's exactly why siblings shouldn't mate. The 7 Whammies! were awarded on the basis that I still feel like I'm seven years old there, no matter how old I really am.

from DCFUD - What to Eat Before Getting Motion Sickness

This summer, I decided to give myself the happy childhood I so rightly deserved. Trips to the non-Air and Space Smithsonians that my school field trips forgot, and civilly disobeying the "No Swimming" signs in the Potomac have been my hallmarks of Summer-06, replete with the crowned jewel of my immaturity empire, a season pass to Kings Dominion near Richmond. It *should* only take about 90 minutes to get from the Beltway to the faux Effiel Tower at the park, but the real art in any roadtrip is the travel, not always the destination. There's some good old fashioned eating between the speed traps and sprawl-induced traffic jams. Here's my comfort food-based guide to surviving a drive to the park.

1) I've always maintained that the true South doesn't start at the Mason-Dixon Line between Pennsylvania and Maryland, but at the point where you can rely on a Waffle House at every interstate exit; therefore, the South technically begins around Potomac Mills. Open 24 hours, Waffle House is known for breakfast foods - huge waffles, greasy hash browns with your choice of toppings, and coffee stronger than a wino's stench. They also serve dinner foods and sandwiches, like burgers and chicken. Stay away from the shoe-leather steaks, and you'll eat well for under ten bucks.

2) With a name like Cracker Barrel, you know you're not in the District anymore. Another Interstate exit staple, Cracker Barrel serves up massive meals of Southern-fried comfort. Their breakfasts are legendary - fantastic pancakes, smoked breakfast meats and hashbrown cassaroles. Their dinners are no joke, either, with country-fried steaks, chicken dumplings and a heaping serving of gravy on everything.

3) Feeling a little less chainy? If you're in Woodbridge, just off Route 1 is Dixie Bones a barbeque joint that invited me to attend after my lackluster visit to Capital Q in Chinatown. So far, I've only had a couple of sandwiches, which isn't enough for a full review, but their sweet, slightly-smoky sauce is fantastic. I can't wait for another trip to Woodbridge...that is a sentence I never thought I'd write in my life.

4) So, you say you've had Waffle House, and have mastered the Cracker Barrel menu. Like Stewie from Family Guy, you're addicted to "click-click-bloody-click pancakes!" There's one place for you, my friend - Aunt Sarah's Pancake House. As any self-respecting UVA Cavalier can tell you, Aunt Sarah's makes some good `cakes. Light, fluffy - always good. They don't stay open as late as the other I-95 joints, and, sadly, the Charlottesville location seems to be a lot cleaner than the ones in Fredericksburg or Richmond. Here's hoping somebody steps in with a mop, some Scrubbing Bubbles and a bad attitude, and saves those pancakes.

5) When a place advertises an all-you-can-eat buffet and sub-$10 prime rib, you're either in Vegas or the Iron Skillet near Bowling Green, Virginia. I hadn't been there in nearly 15 years, when I would refuel there, driving from Maryland on 301 down to my uncle's farm in Buckingham County, Virginia. A recent trip has shown that they've cleaned the place up, and the portions are generous, if not thrilling, and the "stinky trucker" odor has subsided.

6) Once you get to Kings Dominion, you're stuck eating their food. You can try to sneak chow in from the nearby Burger King or 7-11, but those security guards at the park examine packpacks like they're looking for Waldo. Kings Dominion offers everything that a standard theme park has - funnel cakes, overpriced pizzas, listless hamburgers. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Frozen Lemonade stand or Dippin' Dots - Ice Cream of the Future! kiosk (by the way, hasn't Dippin' Dots been the ice cream of the future for like, 20 years now? When the hell does the future get here?) but those are two tasty places for a quick sugar high. Your best bets at Kings' Dominion are the Subway shops - they offer decent sandwiches at $5.99, which is about the best deal in the place. Also, the Bubba Gump Shrimp joint near the new Italian Job roller coaster makes surprisingly good Cajunesque chow. Plus, they serve beer and margaritas, which come in handy if you want to survive a place with too many kids, rigged games, long lines, broken rides, people with questionable hygiene and clothing styles, and where the word "door" somehow picks up extra syllables.

Monday, July 03, 2006

If you needed proof America's drug problem is out of control...

Crack Is Found in Shuttle's Foam Insulation
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times


My Goodness, first baseball players, now astronauts??!? Is anything sacred anymore?

And wouldn't a trip into space be more of a high than any drug could make?

Stacker - Reviewed By The Five Paragraph Bitter Game Critic

What started off as an innocent 5PBFC review of Cici's Pizza in Falls Church became a struggle between man and machine. Namely, yours truly versus the Stacker machine. For those of you who have never seen the device, then you need to head to your local amusement park or family entertainment center, like a batting cage, mini-golf or Chuck-E-Cheese. The concept is simple enough - a row of three lights go back in forth in a row, like K.I.T.T.'s red lights on Knight Rider, and when you hit a button, the lights stop moving in that row. Then, three lights in the row above that starts going back and forth in the same manner, but a little faster. You have to stop the lights when they're directly over the ones below it. That continues for a couple more rows, until it goes to two lights, and then ultimately, one light. By that point, the light is moving a lot faster, and trying to make a stack of lights with one block is harder than it looks.

Unless you're me. Now, since I was a youngin', I've been preternaturally good at video games. I don't need cheat codes, have wicked good hand/eye coordination, and can lock-in like a highly-trained athlete. I tried this machine yesterday in Cici's small game room. Why would a grown adult attempt to win at such an easy game? Easy - the prizes rock! These aren't fake Lance Armstrong cause bracelets or ten-month old chewing gum, but real prizes, like iPod Nanos and Sony PSPs! Hells yeah I'm gonna play!

I put in two dollars worth of tokens for two attempts to win. My second dollar got me to the final row, and I *just* missed winning a major prize. I figured that a couple of more dollars would easily get me one of these major prizes. I fished through my wallet, found a twenty, and figured I'd win an iPod for everybody in the joint.

Twenty dollars later, and I didn't win shit. I got to the final line 7 times, and on 4 of those attempts, I *KNOW* I timed it perfectly. 1 time I admit that I botched it, and the other 2 were darned close. But 4 of those, and DEFINITELY 3 of them, I got it right. What I noticed was that the top row would often skip the winning column, sort of skipping over it by not blinking. This thing was rigged like a carny game! I left Cici's a little broke and a lot bitter.

So, today I decided to Google the Stacker game. I found this great entry on Wikipedia: "On the last few levels the system appears to "cheat" by not stopping the moving block when the player pushes the button. This is to maintain the odds the operator specified and to ensure the operator maximum profits." That's exactly what I saw, as it sucked down 20 bucks quicker than a slot machine in Vegas. I then checked out the website of the manufacturer of Stacker, LAI Games. They include a handy comic strip about the Stacker, basically pointing out to would-be buyers that they can rig it however they want. The best thing about the comic strip? The dumbasses used "loose" instead of "lose." You may have my twenty bucks, LAI Games, but I know basic English, you speds.

5 Whammies! out of 10. Cici's Pizza is actually pretty good, considering it's all-you-can-eat for five bucks. Mac & Cheese, Ham, Sausage, Apple Pie pizzas - they have some good stuff and CHEAP! Still, I can't believe I lost a Jackson on a rigged game. I pray LAI Games burns like a painful case of anal warts, and I own the last tube of Preperation H in the country.