Today’s Lazy Comedy Retread: “Chopped” Basket Tweets

I am traveling and don’t have time to craft fresh original comedy for you today. I did, however, download my Twitter archive and have something special to share: Tweets of made up baskets for the Food Network cooking competition show “Chopped.”

It really is a great show. In three rounds, chefs prepare an appetizer, main course and dessert using four unknown and often incongruous ingredients under ridiculous time constraints. Four chefs start, with one voted off by guest chef judges in each round until a winner is crowned. It’s frantic fun, with some impressive culinary craftiness under pressure. (And a few years ago, Atlanta’s iconic, beloved (and tragically prematurely departed) chef and friend Ria Pell won the show in a particularly inspired performance.)

A few years ago, I would join a weekly Twitter party to mock the preposterous ingredient combinations in the Chopped baskets. I actually made a few close friends bonding over Chopped. So here are some favorites:

  • Chefs, your basket contains: Linseed oil, pre-chewed ostrich, shirt buttons and a tarantula. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Persimmons, angry bees, chlorine tablets and pure cocaine. Time starts now! 
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Pony filets, Anbesol, a prosthetic hand and a rock tumbler. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Pop rocks, a rabbit’s foot, eye drops and a Shake Weight. Time starts now! 
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Pumpkin seeds, most of a cow’s head, mint flavored dental floss and a toupee. Time starts now! 
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Rice, conjoined twin pelicans, a rotary phone and deodorant spray. Time starts now! 
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Tang, transmission fluid, drywall and a transgendered armadillo. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A cremated bison, bong water, marigold petals and an abacus. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A goat’s hoof, Silly Putty, Vicodin and a glow stick. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A jar of trout eyes, whey, mascara & a pleading Princess Leia hologram. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A raccoon, Pixy Stix, eye drops and a tire pressure gauge. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A rusty saw, pecans, Play-Doh and a Polaroid of Steven Tyler’s junk. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A syringe of botulism, Aqua Velva, a ping-pong paddle and an owl. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A tin of Skoal tobacco, pepper spray, artificial sweetener, and Yahtzee dice. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A veal cutlet, Epsom salt, single-ply toilet paper and a Tae Bo video. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A vial of my tears, a turtle, Vick’s Vap-O-Rub and a deadly black widow spider. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A white-winged dove, a wind machine, a cape and modest Wiccan powers. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: An Atari 5200, pickled bison testicles, a balloon of heroin, and MSG. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A gerbil with glaucoma, eyebrow wax, leeks and a macrame owl. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A goat’s stomach, Rogaine, pine needles and “cheese.” Time starts now! 
  • Chefs, your basket contains: An obese canary, four Cialis tablets, a toilet brush, and plutonium. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: An origami swan, potted meat, cauliflower and a parking ticket. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains a blackbird, savoy truffles, a glass onion and hot sergeant peppers. #beatles
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Poison ivy, Elmer’s glue, a mitten and one of my teeth. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains squirrel bladders, a Speedo, lint from my dryer filter and clam juice. Time starts now! 
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A bald eagle, talcum powder, plasma and a soldering iron. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A raccoon’s paw, bok choy, shampoo and fleas. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A rattlesnake, Oil of Olay, Flintstones vitamins and a tank of nitrous oxide. Time starts now! 
  • Chefs, your basket contains: A boa constrictor, Liquid Paper, an adult diaper and peyote. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Apple butter, wet moss, a bruised rabbit and cyanide. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Armadillo bacon, chocolate sprinkles, antifreeze, a Cabbage Patch Kid. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Bone-in coyote loin, nasal spray, paint chips & a contraceptive sponge Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Boysenberries, seaweed paper, hand sanitizer and a live blue jay. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Carrots, goat cheese, quick grits, pomelo and Oxycontin. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Cheetos, toothpaste, Kalamata olives and Ryan Seacrest. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Egg yolks, sheep gums, a kaleidoscope & a season 2 DVD of Designing Women. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Ginger snaps, banana peppers, a photo of ginger snaps & Ben Gay. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Ground pork, camembert, sweet vermouth, haricot verts, Axe Body Spray. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Heavy cream, a Magic 8-Ball, cigarettes and a quail with Avian flu. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Licorice whips, malt liquor, gun powder and Insulin. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Two pelican feet, paint thinner, udon noodles and a ThighMaster. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: War Horse, marigolds, silicone implants and Tang. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Yak jerky, Canadian pennies, turtle broth and a Thighmaster. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains: Yarn, a book of haiku about pudding, a chipmunk and model glue. Time starts now!
  • Chefs, your basket contains:Tylenol Liquid Gels, a jelly fish, dentures and a Sudoku puzzle book. Time starts now!

Pizza Hut Launches New Line of Bad Grammar

Have we just given up completely on language? It’s troubling enough that people are buying their meals from the Pizza Hut counter at Target, where pizzas and pasta mingle alongside moist glistening hot dogs. But do the Pizza Hut folks really think it sounds cooler to the kids to say they want to “Plus Up” their meals? “I’m wanna plus up my food box with breadsticks.”

Change My Pitch Up! Plus My Sticks Up!

Change My Pitch Up! Plus My Sticks Up!

I can only imagine the phrases that missed the cut in these marketing meetings:

  • I’d like to “More On!” my meal with some Cinnamon Crust Nuggets.
  • Let me “Extra Do” that pizza with another, larger pizza on top.
  • Could I “Barf Include” a side of Pepperoni Pods?
  • And I’ll give mine some “Fatitude” with quadruple cheese and cheese.
  • Sure, I’ll “Go All Insulin” with the Alfredo Keg.

Now watch John Mulaney decide between salad or fries.

“♪ Rot Pockets! ♫” Nestle Recalls Diseased Meat Hot Pockets, Gaffigan Updates Material. Also, Balls.

Nestle voluntarily recalled its Philly Steak and Cheese and Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets because they are disgusting. No, wait, it’s because they might contain meat from “diseased and unsound animals.”

Hmm. Is this really a huge departure from the typical contents of a Hot Pocket? Don’t we have pretty low expectations to begin with?

This follows last week’s recall of 9 million pounds of tainted meat by Rancho Feeding Corporation. (Coming this fall on NBC: Meat Recall, which stars Thora Birch as a brash, no-nonsense USDA inspector with a photographic memory.)

Also, someone on Twitter asked the very valid question: When they recall meat, do they fix it and give it back to you? Like a Kia?

As always with these stories, the real fun is in the details. So let’s take a closer look at some of the meat products Rancho Feeding Corporation recalled:

  • “Beef Carcasses” (wholesale and custom sales only)
  • 2 per box “Beef (Market) Heads” (retail only)
  • 4-gallons per box “Beef Blood” (wholesale only)
  • 50-lb. boxes of “Beef Feet”
  • 50-lb. boxes of “Beef Hearts”

Apparently, the bulk of the recalled items were from the Rancho Pagan Ritual Meats Division. But here’s the real story the “mainstream media” missed:

  • 30-lb. boxes of “Mountain Oysters”

In the famous words of Barry Zuckerkorn: “Those are balls.”

That’s right, mountain oysters are beef testicles. Apparently also known as mountain tendergroins and cowboy caviar. So yet again, the news media miss the real story, and headline editors miss this golden opportunity:

“Ball Recall, Y’all”

Of course, as in all matters of the Hot Pocket, we ultimately defer to Mr. Gaffigan:

“True Detective” Is Better Than Every Other Thing, and Matthew McConaughey Can Make Anything Sound Cool

Last night I cooked chicken for dinner. I am obsessively meticulous about continuously washing my hands and utensils when cooking, especially with raw chicken.

Rah, Chicken

Rah, Chicken

In fact, my fixation on food preparation and cleanliness borders on pathological. I had a boss once who walked into the restroom on our floor with an uncovered salad from the cafeteria downstairs. I’d rather have witnessed a plane crash.

Seriously, he just set it on the counter while he peed, letting his open salad mingle with airborne particles of his colleagues’ excreta. I’m lathering up with hand sanitizer now just from typing about it.

So last night, as I tore open the clear plastic chicken packaging, for some reason I thought about how disgusting it would be to just lick the raw chicken. That would be the kind of trauma from which I might not recover. So “lickin’ the chicken” took root in my head as one of the grossest phrases imaginable.

Unless Matthew McConaughey said it. His easy Texas drawl just pats you on the shoulder and hands you a beer no matter what he’s saying. He would make it sound like a cool catchphrase, something you wished you could hang out with him and do after surfing.

“Hey, Matthew, what’s up, how’s it going?”

“Alright alright, you know, JK liivin’, just lickin’ the chicken.”

Given that he landed on Neptune in his SAG award speech for best actor recently, I’m hopeful that he will somehow find this and work “lickin’ the chicken” into his likely upcoming Oscar™ acceptance speech.

Which brings us to his current project, the astounding series True Detective on HBO. He and Woody Harrelson absolutely mesmerize in their roles as Louisiana State police detectives alternately investigating in flashback and currently reflecting on a murder set 18 years prior. McConaughey crackles with dazzling, forceful nihilism. And Harrelson startles viewers with a turn as a volatile, complicatedly sinister cop and husband with what seems to be a genuine but entirely pliable morality. Their evolving narratives slowly fill the gaps of their complex and ferociously flawed characters, as well as the pursuit and apparent capture of the murderer.

Scenes bring you to your knees with their riveting visual power and dark beauty. At times every fractional second is exhilarating and fascinating. Below is one such scene, the harrowing chunk of dynamite that closed out the fourth and most recent episode.

Even if you don’t know the full setup for the story, this scene will amaze you. Quick context: McConaughey is undercover with a drug gang staging a violent raid on a rival gang. His crew members are falsely dressed as cops in the scene. That’s really all you need to know to behold the fierce artistry of this six-minute, unbroken one-track scene.

Here, Inquisitr.com breaks down how they filmed the remarkable scene.

And here author Michael M. Hughes takes an interesting look at how the show incorporates an obscure 1895 work or strange fiction called The King in Yellow, written by Robert W. Chambers.

Deadwood has long been my favorite TV drama ever, but I have a feeling that may change by the time this eight-episode season ends.