America's new favorite feature is back, baby! Like/Don't Like has taken the internet by storm. The perfect storm. The kind of perfect storm you might think George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg won't survive, but then they do. Cloons makes it to the end of that one, right? Granted, it's been a long time since I've seen The Perfect Storm, but there's no way they kill off Cloons, right? I mean, yeah? Anyway, here's something I liked and didn't like this week. #RIPClooney
Like: The Sword and Scale podcast is a true crime podcast that takes you so deep into the minds of the weirdos and degenerates whose stories it highlights, you may find yourself at the end of an episode--brain in a haze, stomach in knots--questioning why you just voluntarily subjected yourself to a full hour of depravity. The show can be a horrifying, scary, depressing, engrossing, vile, fascinating and mind-altering experience, but one worth trying. Maybe.
Remember when the first season of Serial came along, and you listened to every new episode the moment it appeared in your podcast app because the story was so interesting and twisty and it felt important sorta? And then remember when the second season of Serial came along, and you realized while updating your blog one Saturday night that you were roughly seven episodes behind, but you didn't care because Serial didn't feel essential anymore? Well, Sword and Scale is like the first season of Serial, only shorter and sicker. And better.
I can't listen to every episode of Sword and Scale. I had to turn one episode off when during the cold open a detective was heard describing his arrival upon a grisly murder scene in which the victim had been decapitated and then had his head replaced on his spine in an unnatural way. Even a horror fan like me can't stomach stuff like that these days. Plus, I don't particularly enjoy serial killery stuff, so, I skip those episodes, but most of the stories host Mike Boudet chooses to tell, while undeniably upsetting, are engrossing in the way a good episode of 20/20 used to be, you know, when you didn't go out on Friday nights and watched 20/20 crime stories instead. Remember that? We all did that high school, right? Chose to stay home and watch glossily produced "news" stories about homicidal pastor's wives and angry teenaged parent murderers?
I'm currently taking a small hiatus from Sword and Scale to catch up on the live Comedy Bang! Bang! tour episodes, because as a new and enthusiastic listener to the podcast, I kind of overdosed. I listened to a few too many stories about murderous husbands and vicious killers who post their deadly handiwork on social media for all the world to witness, and I found myself a little dizzy and disconnected. It was the two-part episode about Luka Magnotta (Episodes 33 & 34)--the Canadian psychopath who ruined New Order's "True Faith" FOREVER!!!--that made me step back for a second and take a much needed breather. The show is that intense.
If you'd like to take the plunge and check out Sword and Scale, something I do recommend, but only if you like this sort of thing, I recommend starting with Episode 62, which recounts the story of Jenelle Potter, a severely sheltered young woman who somehow convinced her parents she was a CIA agent and encouraged them to murder a couple in town she'd had a series of social media altercations with. It is one of the strangest stories I have ever heard, and it's made all the better by having the district attorney who prosecuted and wrote a book about the case as the guest. I also enjoyed the two episodes highlighting incidents of "Satanic Panic" both here and abroad (Episodes 47 & 51); a nearly two hour episode about cult leader Jim Jones (Episode 50), which includes most of the infamous "Jonestown death tape," which is so deeply depressing and something I regret listening to so much of; Episode 49, which is one of the craziest stories I've heard in my life, but one I cannot even begin to explain here; and Episodes 45 & 46 about the Carnation Murders.
Don't like: Look, I don't know what you call it--The AM Sausage Crunchwrap; The Breakfast Crunchwrap w/ Sausage; The Tortilla Filled With Breakfast Shit--I just know it sucks.
I love Taco Bell, but I have been avoiding Taco Bell's breakfast menu for years, convinced they'd give it up eventually, like Wendy's before them, and return to what they do best: late night eats to soak up the booze. But, nope, Taco Bell has hung in there, wrapping breakfast meats and scrambled eggs inside tortillas, and serving it to the public without a second thought. They should be ashamed.
The Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap tastes how I imagine those protein bricks in science fiction stories about dystopian societies taste: bland, rubbery, possibly made out of people. The Crunchwrap, for those of you who haven't tried one, consists of a fried hashbrown square (think McDonald's hashbrown, only devoid of all flavor), topped with the blandest sausage patty money can buy, which is itself topped with college-cafeteria-grade scrambled eggs and shredded cheese made of some variety of space age polymer that doesn't melt. This tower of meh is then wrapped in a tortilla, crisped up somehow, and served in a paper sleeve for easy consumption while commuting to work.
It is important to note that I was eating the Crunchwrap while driving to work, so I was unable to apply any of Taco Bell's wide variety of sauces to it. Perhaps with the application of a packet or fifteens-worth of "Hot" sauce, the Crunchwrap becomes more palatable, but that's bullshit, because the Crunchwrap is clearly designed to be eaten while driving. There's no mess since everything is contained in a tidy, edible package. So, arguing that the flavorlessness of my Crunchwrap is my fault is a notion that I wholly reject. Maybe some people feel comfortable tearing sauce packets open with their teeth while driving to the office, but I don't, and I refuse to run the risk of being pulled over by a police officer or cause a horrific multi-car accident killing thousands of commuters that might one day be a story featured on Sword and Scale just because I want to add a little pizzaz to my gross, fast food breakfast pouch. Put some salt on the hashbrown or toss some pico into that tortilla before you panini press it, and give me something that tastes good in my mouth, not a brick of sawdust wrapped in paper towel.
Taco Bell should just serve their entire menu all day. In fact, that's what every fast food joint should do. I could care less that McDonald's serves breakfast morning, noon and night now. Let me order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Value Meal on my way downtown in the morning, and you've got a customer for life. I don't want breakfast tacos, well, ever, really, I want a good old Doritos Loco taco for breakfast. I want to roll into the office with my fingers stained orange and my ass ready to explode. Because that's how I like to start a morning dammit!
(I think you can get steak in your Crunchwrap rather than sausage. I haven't decided if that's worth giving Taco Bell a second chance yet. Stay tuned.)