back to the Black Table

SAN PELLEGRINO LIMONATA, a refreshing Italian imported beverage thing: A+

EMERGEN-C, a powdered cold/hangover remedy that actually sorta works: A

COLGATE TOTAL, a toothpaste that actually lives up to its billing: A

FAST FOOD IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES, an oasis of culinary comfort in an otherwise dreary existence: A

QUENTIN STAYS IN THE PICTURE, or when we're not being clever, a review of KILL BILL, VOL. 1: A

KASHI GOLEAN CRUNCH, a healthy cereal that does not taste like milk and gravel: B

MACAULEY CULKIN'S COMEBACK, which is going really well, except for the making good movies thing: B

HOWARD DEAN doesn't support gay marriage, but he's the best Democrats got right now: B-


PAM ANDERSON'S PROTEST OF KFC, which is a horrible idea no matter how tight her outfit is: DDD-

THE PRESIDENTIAL PRAYER TEAM, which is 2.8 million strong and scares the holy hell out of us: F


PAM ANDERSON'S PROTEST OF KFC: Pam Anderson loves animals apparently as much as she loves lanky rock stars and tight pleather clothing. Fair enough. However, speaking out against one of the greatest fast food institutions in the world is not going to sit well with me no matter how many times I watch her and Tommy make magic when the video camera's on. I'm sure KFC doesn't treat its chickens very well. In fact, the KFC chicken farms are probably the animal equivalent of Auschwitz. Bottom line is, it doesn't matter. KFC could smash their chicken's beaks with aluminum baseball bats, cut off their heads with scissors and set their wings on fire, or just run an assembly line of screaming baby chickens through a grist mill, I will eat KFC until by arteries break off like old twigs from cholesterol consumption. Stick to puppies and dolphins, Pam and let these chickens die their unnatural, horrid deaths for the sake of human sustenance. DDD- -- A.J. Daulerio

EMERGEN-C: If it cost more, they'd sell it on street corners. Luckily for those who like to get their thrills respectably - or at least to recover from them that way -- EmergenC is a steal at three packs for a buck. By the register at finer bodegas -- no stumbling around the store - and colored brightly enough to pierce through the wickedest hangover haze or bleariest on-coming cold. The powder dissolves as it hits the dregs of your Poland Spring with a cloud of pink or yellow and a satisfying, furious fizz. A little sugar, lots of vitamin C, and a list of long words that induce flashbacks to chem class. Why does it fizz? What makes it work? What do you care? With each sip, your head is clearing, your step is quickening and flashbacks to the night before are dissolving into that soothing citrusy fizz where they belong. A -- Sandra Barron

COLGATE TOTAL: I've used this before, but whatever new formula Colgate's kicking is good times. While I don't know if the "12-hour protection" lasts as long as Colgate claims, it's pretty close. My mouth didn't have that assy taste the morning after using Colgate Total. It didn't feel as though I'd been chain-smoking in my sleep. While I wouldn't recommend leaving the house without brushing, I'm still impressed. Something's going on with this stuff. Also, I'm not a fan of gels. But Colgate Total is 80 percent gel and 20 percent paste, a combo which makes for improved consistency. (Gel just doesn't feel like it does anything.) And Colgate Total tries to whiten my teeth, despite my daily dental assaults with cigarettes, coffee and cranberry juice. Here's a coupon. Become a believer. Totally. A -- Aileen Gallagher

FAST FOOD IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES: Living in Asia for the past three years you learn a lot about Western fast-food colonialism and such. Yeah, we've got Starbucks and all that, but you can't go three feet in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei or wherever without smacking your grille into a McD's, KFC or Pizza Hut. Don't listen to all that "Fast-Food Nation" crapola: it is not the same as back home. Get your corn and tuna on your pizza (with thousand island dressing instead of tomato sauce if you want), a red-bean pie at Mickey D's and maybe some egg tarts at KFC. Oh and if you're not into the red meat, McD's in Thailand


has the Samurai Pork Burger (it's NOT Japanese) with ginger and spicy flavors and such. Local food rules but sometimes you do want a Big Mac or whatnot, and those are pretty much the same but for the local "beef" they use. Truly though, you must admire Asian ingenuity and flava in the face of Western fried-food domination. Props to the dude who dishes up the side of fried rice with my McNuggets. A -- Jonathan Gardner

MACAULEY CULKIN'S COMEBACK: Mac is back! Okay, not really. But his lips are. And sure, his comeback vehicle, Party Monster, sucked a big, sparkly one. And so what if the movie's strongest performance (surprisingly) was Seth Green's dead-on impersonation of club kid James St. James. All of this, of course, begs the question "Who Cares?" And most critics agree that nobody does care, and the fact that the movie is just one, big, gay revelation that "Drugs are Bad" didn't make me any more forgiving. So what? Mac is back on the big screen, his face has softened slowly with age, but those lips are still there. God, are they! You can't really even say he's "pouting" it's more like the lips are acting. Think Peter Gallagher's eyebrows. In Monster, Culkin's lips portray a sort of fractured innocence, which is brought into sharp focus when partnered with costar Chloe Sevigny, who just comes off as tired and confused, no matter how much 'research' was put into her club kid character. Go Mac! I'm not ashamed to profess my love for all Culkins -- and hopefully now that the shock has subsided and Mac's a real adult, with a bad club kid movie under his belt, maybe he'll get a second chance. B -- Rachel Elder

QUENTIN STAYS IN THE PICTURE: The prophet of a neurotic, self-hating, compulsively-retro generation is back, with a film that's better than you're willing to admit. Kill Bill Volume 1 is a gory, campy, indelible skullfuck, and a chimeric postmodern classic, bounding from Peckinpah stark to Five Deadly Venoms dumb, consistently ironic yet strangely sincere. Uma Thurman beats long-overdue hell out of Vivica A. Fox and Lucy Liu, who are surprisingly non-aggravating, on her vengeful way towards faceless arch-badass Bill (an off-camera David Carradine). And let's get something straight-this isn't Once Upon a Time in Mexico (a.k.a. Spy Kids 4). For every headless geyser there's a moment of blistering melodrama, and when the Rza-penned score overkills you with the mounting assertion that Lucy Liu is cool, you suddenly find out, she is! Kill Bill is a tumbling collage of katanas, nerve endings and thunderous MILFs, and it's all too much, but for once, that's completely perfect. A -- Erik Sofge

KASHI GOLEAN CRUNCH!: She thinks I do it to annoy her. But maybe it's just the dizzying array of choices. Or perhaps it's the fact that I only go grocery shopping once a month and know that whatever choice I make, I must live with for four weeks of breakfast. Whatever it is, I just can't make up my mind in the cereal aisle. Am I alone? I have my favorites -- Corn Pops, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Honey Bunches of Oats, Cracklin' Oat Bran, etc -- but this time I wanted something different. Normally, it wouldn't have been this Kashi stuff, what with the ugly box design, superfluous exclamation point and the fact that my mother stocks three varieties in her pantry. But I had a coupon. And you know what? It ain't half bad. It's crunchy and sweet and, in spite of the fact that it doesn't taste like the box it comes in, has lots of fiber to boot. And we all know why that's good for us, right? No? Just ask your proctologist. B -- Tim Brixius

THE JOHN HOLMES "WHAT PORN CHARACTER ARE YOU" QUIZ: What is this crap? When I saw the little ad for the quiz advertising Wonderland, I got all excited about another pointless internet quiz. Thus far, by answering a few simple questions with thinly-veiled relevance, I've found out which early 90's Nickelodeon sitcom, which Jessica Simpson song, and which line from Donnie Darko I am. Unlike all these quizes I've found through LiveJournal, however, this was not an ersatz personality test. Instead, it was crap trivia I'd only know by seeing their shit movie, with cooler characters given to better answers. NO WAY! Not happpening, buddy. I wanted to tell them my favorite color, favorite type of music, and plans for my first date, and I wanted *them* to tell *me* that I'm the randy yet handsome plumber. This misleading shit is unacceptable. D- -- Tom Fleischmann

HOWARD DEAN: How many more articles will we have to read about his "outsider" posing? He was a governor, just like Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc., not a porn star, child actor, sumo wrestler or professional clown (not Arnold, but an actual professional clown) like the candidates in California's performance art mockery of democracy. Admittedly, his stances are preferable to Lieberman and his cadre of Republicrats, but his refusal to support gay marriage casts a suspicious light on his Wellstone-purloined schtick about representing "the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." B- -- Ross Mudrick

THE PRESIDENTIAL PRAYER TEAM: Polls show that over half the people in America (Mostly outside of NYC) believe that Mary was actually a virgin and that evolution is a myth invented by liberal evildoers. That may be why George W. Bush's "Presidential Prayer Team" is 2.8 million strong. After all, Bush said in 2000: "God wants me to run for President." The team urges you to pray for "a return to biblical values, integrity and honesty." Ah, yes. Killing people based on lies, selling out the evironment to polluters, leaving 40 million people off health insurance. Tax cuts for millionaires. Praise the Lord. F -- Chris Goldberg

SAN PELLEGRINO LIMONATA: Hands down, San Pellegrino Limonata is one of the most refreshing Italian imports since Roberto Benigni. And, unlike Benigni, the slightly sweetened, sparkling 11-ounce Limonata is void of a peculiar aftertaste. At around $5 per six-pack, Limonata is perfection at picnics and Parties -- and righteously accompanies wasabi coated green peas after partaking in some 'puff-puff-give'-or so I've heard. Also try San Pellegrino's Aranciata-an orange sparkling beverage. Delish. A+ -- Andrew Noyes