2009 Scion xB

April 20th, 2009

The Scion xB’s styling has always struck me as something a five-year-old would design: lots of right angles and a profile only a cardboard box enthusiast could love.

But looks, as they say, can be deceiving. Lurking under the cubist exterior is enough interior space to host a banquet. Yao Ming wouldn’t run out of headroom in this car. Er, truck. Minivan. SUV? Maybe minus the Sport part of the acronym. A mobile office space for urban professionals who can’t afford a car payment and rent.

Acceleration won’t snap your neck, but the handling isn’t bad. Sure, it feels really, really wide, almost ponderous, but it never threatened to topple, even when the Generalissimo decided to give it the old Scandinavian Flick.
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2007 Bota Box Pinot Grigio

April 16th, 2009

This was my first foray into the exciting world of boxed wine, and the Generalissimo insisted we start off with something simple: a 2007 Bota Box Pinot Grigio.

Thank God.

My wine palate is a lot like my finger painting palate: minimal, trending toward the mundane, with an odd fascination toward anything showcasing shiny colors and smelling faintly of vanilla.

The Pinot Grigio was fine. It smelled like wine, tasted like wine, and didn’t burn my throat on the way down. The box said it “has rich aromas of tropical fruit and citrus which perfectly complement its light, crisp flavors of pears and peaches.” Um, okay. All I tasted was a slightly sweet wine with undercurrents of mediocrity and a light dusting of alcohol.

“It has the nose of a much younger woman, with extracts of nutmeg and allspice!” The Generalissimo sniffed his glass like he knew what he was doing.


“I certainly hope so!”

“And the taste?” I asked.

“Tastes great! Less filling!”

“I meant—”

“I can taste the ocean! And the subtle aroma of misplaced keys, interrupted by an incandescent effervescence of intransigence!”


“I like it!”

“Effervescence of intransigence?”

“Indubitably! I give it six mustaches!”

“Out of?”

“Out of petty cash!” He drained his glass and went searching for the box. Again.

I’ll give it a:


2009 Mazda 3 5-door

April 13th, 2009

This one was a head scratcher. It didn’t help that we drove the Mini Cooper half an hour later and saw how a small hatchback should be done.

The car is good value for money at a base price of $19,295. The front seat was a little snug on my oversized butt, which really shouldn’t cross it off your list. The sunroof was small and the trunk will only hold one body with the seats up (2-3 with them down). The headroom was fine. Rear passenger space is small but okay for short trips or short people, your choice. It had four cup holders up front, and four in the rear, though I can’t imagine ever remembering to use the ones in the door panels.
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Tina’s Lemon Cheese Turnover

April 9th, 2009

Tina’s Lemon Cheese Turnover is not a cheese Danish. Let’s just be perfectly clear on that before we continue. Tina’s makes Danishes, but I have been unable to find them. Don’t think this means I’ll stop.

The first thing you’ll notice is the total lack of frosting. Yep, that’s minus ten points right there. Then there’s the lemon filling. It’s not very good. It also looks (from the outside of the package) that there’s enough filling in this thing to give me diabetes. Nope. And it’s not very good. It’s sorta sweet, but lacks punch. It’s all rather bland. Same with the read. It’s smooth and soft, with some moisture, but not lots. And the flavors, when combined, create a giant ball of nothing.
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2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

April 6th, 2009

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is the answer to a question no one was asking.

The basic two-door Wrangler is an institution. Few cars can take you anywhere for so little money. It’s not flashy; it’s not meant to be. The interior is cheap but functional. The dashboard has what you need and nothing more (unless you spring for the navigation system, which sorta defeats the purpose of “getting lost” off-road). It’s not a car you’d take to the opera, but to an amphitheater ten miles from the nearest road.

There’s plenty of cargo room. Plenty. Fit and finish are less than stellar. The steering wheel wasn’t on straight. The passenger door wouldn’t close without slamming. It drove well enough, but the stick shook in my hand under acceleration off the line. Speaking of which, the Unlimited wanted more gas from a standing start than my right foot wanted to give. I’m ashamed to admit I stalled it twice. I had to rev it well above two-k to get it going. Yeah, not gonna happen on a daily basis with EPA estimates of 15 city/19 highway.
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Wal-Mart cheese Danish twist

April 2nd, 2009

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to feed a small family, then this is the way to go. If you’re looking for a refined taste experience, keep walking…

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” the Generalissimo barked in my ear.

I hadn’t heard him come in. No big surprise there. “So you liked it?”

“Not really!”

Didn’t think so. It’s not that it’s a bad Danish; it’s not. It’s just not a good one. The bread is okay. The texture is less traditionally flaky, but still pretty good. In fact, I’d say it’s the highlight of this Danish. The taste was bland. The moisture was there, but not in quantities to overcome the lack of flavor.
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2009 Toyota Camry

March 30th, 2009

My dad’s got a Camry. It’s a 1997, with 135,000 miles on the odometer its second coat of paint. He had the gas filler door spring replaced and the interior cushioning has gone a little soft. It’s still on its original brakes. The On knob for the radio broke a while back and he hasn’t bothered to replace it.

And it will never die.

Sure, he could wake up tomorrow and decide to drive it into a tree, but barring some kind of catastrophic event, he’ll eventually have to decide which of my brothers to leave it to in his will.

Which brings us to the current model. By all accounts, it’s a better car than Dad’s. Bigger, more powerful, with a well-designed cockpit and the ergonomic efficiency one expects from middle management, i.e., the Camry’s natural environment.
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Fred Meyer cheese Danish

March 26th, 2009

I had such high hopes for this one.

“As did I!” The Generalissimo paused to wipe some frosting from his mustache. “It looked better on TV!”

“Um, okay.” But I sorta understood his point. Individually wrapped snack treats fall into two categories: bland rest stop food, or unexpected treasures. This was definitely the former.

The bread was dry and tasteless, but had a touch of sweetness to it that most Danishes shy away from. It gave me hope, which was then dashed by the pitiful amount of cream cheese filling. The filling wasn’t bad. It also wasn’t great. It had a pleasant tartness to it that the sugar tried to mask—unsuccessfully I might add—but the texture was too grainy for my tastes.
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2009 Mini Cooper

March 23rd, 2009

This car took us all by surprise. My impression has always been that the Mini is a chick car: cute, nonthreatening, and small, the kind of car you want to paint bright pink and put a set of magnetic eyebrows on above the lights. A VW New Beetle for people with a little style.

Then you get inside. The tach gauge sits above the steering wheel, right where it should be. It moves up and down with the steering column, like the old Porsche 928. The center stack, dominated by the massive round speedo and the other controls, sticks to the retro-cool theme. The buttons and switches scream “Apollo moon landing.” The sport seats (a must have option at $250) hold you in place without squeezing.

The trunk will only hold a small child, or a medium size adult if you take a chainsaw to their limbs. The backseat only works if you don’t have legs, unless you move the front seats way forward. I’m six-one; no one is sitting behind me in this car.
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Safeway cheese Danish

March 19th, 2009

Safeway’s bakery makes some pretty good deserts, including today’s subject, a cheese Danish. I managed to arrive at our local store just as the baker was putting the frosting on the morning’s pastries. It was still warm when she put the bag in my hand, and I skipped out the door to the car. The Generalissimo was less than amused.

“You mean I have to wait to eat this scrumptious morsel of righteousness?!”

“Yep.” We went back to my place, where the Generalissimo stared at the Danish for three hours, barking my name from time to time so I’d check the frosting for the appropriate amount of dryness.
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