Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jones Soda Dessert Pack: Lemon Meringue Pie

Well, next up should be one of the Christmas Pack sodas, but the next one in line is Christmas Ham flavor, and since I don't feel all that well today to begin with, I'm going to give it a pass for the moment. Instead, I'll do another selection from the Dessert Pack, Lemon Meringue Pie. Sorry for wussing out, but don't worry--I will drink the Christmas Ham soda in the New Year.

To go with Lemon Meringue Pie soda, I'm listening to assorted songs by Oranges & Lemons, best known for the opening and closing themes to the anime Azumanga Daioh ("Soramimi Cake" and "Raspberry Heaven" respectively.)

Lemon Meringue Pie soda is the same cloudy, pale yellow color of lemonade. So that works. The picture on the bottle appears to depict a piece of lemon meringue pie that has been splattered against a wall.

The message under the bottle cap says, "Serious trouble will bypass you." Of course, if it bypasses me, how will I know that I've missed anything? Still, it's a nice thought, that whatever happens, I have magically dodged something much worse.

The aroma of this soda is absolutely perfect, with the right balance of lemon and meringue. It smells exactly like the real pie.

The flavor likewise perfectly replicates the flavor of the pie. I don't really get any sense of the crust like I did with the apple and cherry pie flavors, but I don't think that's a big minus. Overall, it's quite delicious.

I'll be out of town visiting family over the next two days, so the soda reviews are on hold until January 2. See you then!

Oh, and for those of you have been waiting with bated breath for updates (that would probably be nobody) . . .

1. Although I didn't get sick from the few sips of Apple Pie soda I took while writing the review, I did get an upset stomach after finishing off the bottle later in the day. So I guess even "natural flavors" are enough to get me.

2. The antibiotics didn't work. My teeth still hurt like the dickens, and I'm still taking uncomfortably high doses of ibuprofen to keep the pain in check. Of course, because of the holiday, it will be Wednesday before I can contact my dentist's office to beg for the next treatment option, whatever that might be. Oh well. Such is life.

Everyone, have a happy and safe New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jones Soda Dessert Pack: Cherry Pie

The next selection from the Jones Soda Dessert Pack is Cherry Pie. Seriously, this one would be about impossible to mess up, so if it's not good, I'll go into shock. And cherry pie is one of my favorite pies, right after strawberry rhubarb and French silk, so it's a flavor I know well. (Digression: I wish Jones would make a strawberry-rhubarb flavor! That'd be awesome!)

Now despite the fact that the soda is cherry pie flavored, the picture on the label is of a guy eating either turtle or Snickers pie. I see chocolate, caramel, nuts, etc. You'd think they would have picked a picture of a cherry pie, or at least some cherries. But, whatever.

Anyway, the music choice for this bottle is the only song in my collection that has "cherry" in the title, "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall.

The message under the cap says, "Good news is on the way." Bad news, too, I expect. Both are always true at any given time.

The soda is the same clear red color of any number of other cherry sodas I've had. None of the murky cloudiness of the apple pie soda here. The smell, however, is actually different from other cherry sodas. As with the apple pie soda, I get a whiff of flour, that wonderful pastry crust aroma.

And the taste, too, has the crust flavor mixed with the cherry. And the cherry flavor has that appropriate syrupy taste, like real pie filling. We have another winner. The taste is not merely cherry, but really and truly cherry pie.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jones Soda Christmas Pack: Sugar Plum

The next bottle in the Jones Soda Christmas Pack is Sugar Plum. I expect this one to be good.

What is a sugar plum? All I know is "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" and "Visions of sugar plums danced in their heads." Is it a plum coated in sugar? Is it a confection made in the shape of a plum or with plum flavoring? I just don't know.

Consultation with Wikipedia tells me, "A sugar plum is a piece of candy that is made of sugar and shaped in a small round or oval shape." Okay, that's sort of helpful. But I still don't know what a sugar plum is supposed to taste like, so I won't be able to judge whether the soda's flavor is accurate; only whether it is good.

To get into the proper spirit, I'm listening to "A Mad Russian's Christmas" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a kicking arrangement of pieces from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, including "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies."

The soda is a beautiful shade of dusky lavender. It's definitely one of the prettier sodas I've seen. The picture on the label depicts a startled guy trying to catch a falling Christmas tree.

The message under the cap is, "You just helped save a child's eyesight. Thank you." I guess that means that Jones donates some percent of their proceeds to help children with vision problems. That's very nice.

The scent has kind of a nondescript artificial tang to it, like Skittles or Starburst candies. It's not the most inviting scent, actually. On second sniff, I can detect the plum.

The taste is not bad. It reminds me just a little of those Japanese Ramune pops. You know the ones with the marble in the bottle neck? (If you don't know what I mean, check your local Asian grocery store to see if they have them. Everyone should experience Ramune at least once. I call them "exploda-pops" because it's nearly impossible to open the bottles without making a mess. But, as usual, I digress.)

Back to the Sugar Plum soda. It's good. I like it. The mild plum flavor is there, but really, the primary flavor is the sweet itself. It's like a hard candy, except without the hard. Given Wikipedia's description, I'd have to say that Jones' Sugar Plum is probably spot-on. In any case, it's really quite tasty, and with every sip, I like it better. I would buy this year-round if it were available.

As the lolcats might say, it is "full of win."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jones Soda Dessert Pack: Apple Pie

I'm going to alternate between the Christmas Pack and Dessert Pack flavors of Jones Soda. Unlike the Christmas Pack, where I'm saving what I expect will be the worst for last, I'm going to get the flavor I'm dreading most out of the way with the Dessert Pack. And for me, that means Apple Pie.

What's wrong with apple pie, you say? Ain't I American?

Well, yes, I'm American. I'm also allergic to apples. Or, at the very least, I get sick whenever I consume anything with real apple in it. And so I am hesitant about the Apple Pie soda. I checked the ingredients carefully, and there is no apple juice. There are "natural and artificial flavors," so it is possible that there is some kind of apple derivative in it. It shouldn't be any more dangerous to me than, say, an apple flavored Jolly Rancher, but still, I'll probably only have a sip or two.

But now you've been warned--I am obviously not going to be able to accurately judge how closely the taste compares to real apple pie. One time I had a piece of saltwater taffy with what I thought was a strange flavor, and it took me ten minutes to figure out that it was apple. My diet had been apple free for so long that I'd forgotten the flavor. So you see, I'm likely to be comparing the soda to that taffy.

In the spirit of "American as apple pie," I'm listening to "Song for America" by Kansas. Yeah, I know, that's just a little cynical. But I like the point of the song--we have a wonderous and beautiful country, but we've trampled and destroyed the land. The implication being, stop--we're already in paradise; we ought to treat it better.

Returning from my digression, the Apple Pie soda is not the bright, unnatural green of Jones' Green Apple flavored soda (which I've obviously never had, but I've seen in stores), but instead a sort of dingy, cloudy beige. It is exactly the color of apple pie filling, so they've got that perfect. The picture on the label, of course, is an apple pie.

The message under the cap says, "A balance is needed between home and business." Don't need to tell me twice. I've got that down.

The scent is very apple-ish. I can't detect anything other than apple in the smell, but that's probably because my defense mechanisms are warning me away.

The flavor is nice. I think I can detect a hint of cinnamon, and even a bit of pastry flavor, which brings to mind a lovely, flaky crust. The apple flavor lacks the nasty weirdness of the apple Jolly Rancher candy or that piece of yucky taffy; it's actually rather pleasant. I expect someone who actually eats apples and apple pie might find it a fairly accurate reproduction of the flavor.

Unlike with the Egg Nog soda, the cane sugar flavor does not stand out. All I taste is Apple Pie, which is how it should be.

Well, I've had a couple swallows. Now I'm going to put the rest in the fridge. If my body isn't rebelling within the next hour, I'll assume that whatever "natural flavors" are present are so far removed from the apple that they won't affect me, and I'll be able to enjoy the rest of the soda without hesitation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jones Soda Christmas Pack: Egg Nog

Fabulous news! Well, for me, anyway. Indifferent news for everyone else. I may not need a root canal. The constant, throbbing pain in my teeth may just be an infection. My dentist started me on antibiotics and said I should be feeling relief within a day or so. Hooray! Because for the last four days (the weekend and the two-day holiday while the dentist's office was closed) I've been having near constant fantasies about ripping those two teeth out of my jaw with pliers. Yes, I realize that in the short term, that probably would have hurt rather significantly more, but I was imagining the long term payoff of those aching teeth just being gone.

Anyway . . . who cares but me, right? Onward to something more interesting, the first bottle from this year's Jones Soda Christmas Pack. I'm going to start off with a flavor I actually expect to be pretty good: Egg Nog. To stay in the Christmas spirit, I'm still listing to carols. Right now, I'm listing to "Joy to the World" in Japanese ("Morobito Kozorite" sung by a chorus featuring Iwao Junko).

The Egg Nog soda is very yellow, much more so than real egg nog. And of course, being soda, it is clear. In other words, it looks not so much like egg nog as a substance one hands to one's physician in a tiny plastic cup. I'm going to do my best to keep the visual out of my head, instead focusing on the cute snowman picture on the label.

The message under the cap says, "Encourage tranquility if you are feeling agitated." Can't argue with that sound advice.

The scent is just a little eggy and just a little noggy. With my eyes closed, I can easily deceive myself into imagining that it's the real thing.

With the first sip, the dominant flavor I noticed was actually the cane sugar. Now, I love cane sugar sodas, however, it really works to the disadvantage of the egg nog effect. The sweet should not overwhelm the other flavors, but here, it really does. But of course, the biggest detriment to the egg nog effect is, of course, texture. Soda can not mimic the creamy, mouth-coating thickness of real egg nog. This ends up being rather more like cream soda with a hint of nutmeg.

It is, at least, very tasty and enjoyable.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bad Teeth and Weird Soda

Merry Christmas!

I've been fighting a toothache since I broke a lower left molar two weeks ago. It's been worse since the first phase of my repair work on Monday (when I got temporary crowns on the shattered tooth and an adjacent tooth that was badly damaged), and I've been in so much pain this whole weekend that as soon as my dentist's office opens on Wednesday after the holiday, I'm going to be calling and begging for a root canal. (Or a double root canal, since I can't tell which tooth is worse. They both seem to be causing an equal amount of agony.) Probably best to get that done before the permanent crowns are on.

The tooth that broke? It happened when I was eating a piece of soft peppermint. The dentist said my tooth was in such bad shape I could have been eating a marshmallow and it would have still happened. Apparently those old silver-amalgam fillings, of which I have many, expand and contract with heat and cold, and so eventually, they can break a tooth apart in the same way potholes form in roads. Oh, goody. That probably means I can look forward to more problems in the future. If you have any of those old silver-amalgam fillings, you might want to have your dentist give them a close looking-over.

I'm essentially eating and drinking normally, so long as I chew only on the right side. Sure it hurts, but it's not as bad as a migraine, so I can function.

Which brings me to the actual reason for this post--the first of this year's round of Jones Soda special edition holiday flavors.

A friend gave me both the Christmas Pack and the Dessert Pack. The four flavors in the Christmas Pack are Sugar Plum, Egg Nog, Christmas Tree, and Christmas Ham. The flavors in the Dessert Pack are Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Blueberry Pie, and Lemon Merangue Pie. Most of those sound okay, except for Christmas Tree. I can't even imagine how nasty that's going to be. So I plan on making that one the very last one I try.

I'm planning to do the same as last year--drink one soda a day and blog the experience. I will start after Christmas. But for now, to tide you over, I'll review a couple of the Jones holiday flavors that are available outside the special box sets. I bought a four-pack of Christmas Cocoa flavor, and when I got it home I discovered that someone in the store swapped one of the bottles for Gingerbread Man. So I got two flavors without even intending to.

I had the first bottle of Christmas Cocoa a couple of days ago. I'm not sure what it tastes like, but it is most assuredly not cocoa. It reminds me of a chocolate soda I had when I was a little kid. I don't remember the brand name, and I don't think it was on the market very long, but the Jones Christmas Cocoa really trips my memory, so I think it must be essentially the same flavor. It wasn't very good back then, either. It's one of those things where you take a sip, smack your lips, furrow your brow, and think, "What eees it, man?" It's somewhat odd and disconcerting.

Tonight, I will have that bottle of Gingerbread Man soda. Opening it now . . .

The message in the bottlecap says, "A tantalizing prospect will come your way." How very fortune cookie. "Tantalizing" could well refer to a yummy Christmas dinner. Actually, at this point, "tantalizing" could also refer to that root canal. Oh, what sweet relief that would bring! But back to the soda . . .

It is a pale amber color, very pretty. The aroma is definitely ginger, with a hint of spice. The flavor is very good, like a smooth, mild ginger ale. The spicing isn't as apparent in the taste as in the scent, although there is just a hint of molasses. All in all, a very pleasant, comfortable flavor. I may have to get a couple packs of it if it goes on clearance after the holiday.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Peace and blessings upon you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Canada Goose

I made this little Canada goose tonight, for my dad's Christmas present. (He doesn't have a computer, so there's no danger of him seeing this picture before Christmas.) He always wants me to sculpt something for his gift, rather than buying anything, but he usually gives me complete latitude to pick the subject. This year, for the first time I can remember, he actually had a specific request. He wanted a Canada goose to go with the mallard I made back in 1989, just over half my lifetime ago.

So I present the goose and the duck together, along with a penny for scale.

The duck was made with Fimo, which was the only kind of clay I had back then. If you can't tell, that's a slice of bread in its bill. For as long as I can remember, Dad and I have always gone out to feed the ducks and geese in the park.

The goose was made with a mix of Fimo, Promat, and Granitex. I didn't have a shade of brown I liked for the wings, so I mixed glittery dark brown Fimo and "stone" flecked light brown Granitex. I really expected the end result to have a bit more texture to it, given that both components have speckles, but it looks almost matte. I'm a little bummed that a small bubble formed during the baking, marring the goose's white cheek. But I think it still looks pretty decent overall.

And just for grins, here's the real thing.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Rest in Peace, Reuben Kee

I was saddened to learn of the passing last week of Reuben Kee (1984-2007), widely known simply as "Reu" by fans. I did not know him, but I loved his music. He was a very talented young pianist, and seeing his name attached to a piece of music, I would leap to download it. I never had to wonder if I would like it. I knew I would. His work was always magnificent. I am sad to know that the world will never hear a new track from him.

Some of his arrangements of music from video games are available at OverClocked Remix. I especially recommend "Ascension to Cosmo Canyon," in my opinion, the most powerful and moving arrangement of Nobuo Uematsu's "Cosmo Canyon" in existence.

The rest of his work is available at his own website. I only learned of this site today, so there is much there I have not heard. Based on the 17 tracks by Reu in my iTunes playlist, though, I am sure they are all wonderful.

Rest in peace, Reu. You brought beauty into the world with your music, and your imprint shall last as long as people listen.