Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This post is loooooong overdue, but it took me a while to figure out how to embed that song. Actually, embedding wasn't as difficult as finding a host for the tune (without violating copyrights).

Anyway, I'm a Supertaster! I've always known I was special and destined for great things. This just confirms it. Now I just need to figure out how to use my Supertaster abilities for good (or evil- I'm still undecided on that part). I mean, "With great power comes great responsibility," right?

From Wikipedia: "A supertaster is a person who experiences taste with far greater intensity than average...due to an increased number of fungiform papillae." That's right: fungiform papillae. I rule.

Let's look at some more of the things that make me extraordinary:
  • Perceive all tastes as more intense than other taster types, particularly bitter tastes
  • Tend to be fussy about their food and have strong food likes and dislikes
  • Usually don't like coffee, grapefruit, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and spinach
  • Have lots of papillae, the tiny bumps on the tongue that contain taste buds
  • Around 25% of people are said to be supertasters
That third one is definitely true, except for spinach. I've actually grown to like spinach over the years.

If you'd like to find out how you rank on the Supertaster scale, there's a quick test you can take here. But don't get your hopes up. Not everyone can be a Supertaster like me. Only about 25% of the population in fact, so don't be too heart-broken if you don't make the cut to be among we privileged elite.

But this new knowledge about myself opens up so many questions! What am I to do with these strange and wonderful powers? What would happen to me if I went to one of those tasting parties where that weird berry (Synsepalum dulcificum) changes flavors? What should my crime-fighting costume look like? Who came up with the term "foodie," and why have they inflicted it upon us? Is it this decade's version of cigar smoking?

So, where do you rank on the supertaster scale! Maybe you could be my arch-nemesis.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Into the Wild x2

When I first read Into the Wild, by John Krakauer, I was fascinated by the story of Christopher McCandless. A young man who left everything behind to commune with nature, with tragic results.

However, I actually hated the book. Krakauer comes across as an ass when he inserts himself into the story and tries to equate his experiences with those of McCandless. And no matter how much the author lionizes him, McCandless was still very clearly an idiot. Idealistic, poetic, determined, but still an idiot. Anyone who would go into such dangerous wilderness as he did with so little preparation, well, the results are not very surprising.

But still, I was fascinated. Why? Because that easily could have been me. McCandless was born just eleven days after I was. I bet we read a lot of the same books, falling for the romanticism and shallow philosophy of Walden, On the Road, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I often fantasized about abandoning everything and hopping on a train to who knows where. I wanted adventure, excitement, and most of all new experiences that couldn't be planned. Had I hopped one of those night trains that I longingly watched pass me by, I would most likely be just as dead as Chris. So I feel comfortable calling him an idiot, since I know I was one, too. I understand him.

All that being said, I expected to hate the movie as much or more than the book. A dreamy individualist going against all odds to follow his spirit to the end. Blecch. But in spite of myself, I actually liked it.

The acting is pretty mediocre, but Emile Hirsch does well as Chris McCandless. It also has the always wonderful Catherine Keener, the always conspicuous Vince Vaughn, and the increasingly wooden William Hurt. The directing by Sean Penn is uneven, but mostly effective. There are times when it seems as though he doesn't know how to tell his story. Of course the story glosses over the foolish decisions he made, even more than the book, but that was to be expected. In some ways, the ending of the movie makes it appear as though Chris didn't even try to avoid his fate.

The key for me came early on, and I'm not really sure what triggered it. As long as I looked at it as a fictional story trying to appear real, I liked it. Whenever I looked at it as a true story trying to have a narrative, I hated it. Yes, they beatified him. Yes, the ignored, omitted, and changed facts. But it was an interesting journey to watch.

For another story of an idealistic fool who tragically met his end in nature, I highly recommend the Werner Herzog's fantastic documentary Grizzly Man.

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