Unlabeled Pickled Sausage and Watching In Bruges and Wondering about Its Marketing Team['s drug habit]

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Summary: I have a jar of pickled sausage that has no label. Not a stitch. Not an ingredients list. Not a calorie count. Nothing. Why did I do this? Also, watching In Bruges with Sarah tonight I was struck my deep ironies and complex situations: most of them found in the discrepancies in the movie versus the back of its DVD case.

BLOT: (24 Apr 2011 - 01:23:08 AM)

Unlabeled Pickled Sausage and Watching In Bruges and Wondering about Its Marketing Team['s drug habit]

I like pickled sausage. There, it is out. Why is it out? Because I am a Southern Man who grew up deep enough in the South that the four nearest businesses to me (minusing the two wood mills) were three gas stations and a out-of-their-home hair dresser. Who was my hair dresser, for years. I guess, in all fairness, only two of them were gas stations. The third was a convenience store that had no gas but did have a racket in trading food stamps for about half their worth in cash. It also had those little Cokes in the cold glass battles. Oh, so good.

Back to the gas stations, though. You know what else I like, because of that? While other kids were being told how awesome Pizza Hut was, or were stuffing their faces with Burger King combos with fun toys? Sweettarts, gummy worms, pork skins, really crappy gas station pickles, boiled-in-a-crockpot peanuts, drinking sodas straight from the two liter, and cornnuts. And pickled sausage. With names like Hot Mama and Big Bertha and Fiery Red Death Jane Stick of Doom. I don't know if they even count as food, or why we think adding a horrific amount of red food coloring justifies them in a way that the harsh brine and vinegar drenched in hot sauce doesn't. They are just a thing. And you eat them from gas stations. Sometimes from a huge jar that could have had any number of hands in, and sometimes from a plastic pack that opening requires you to be squirted with foul, ancient juices that you will soon gladly suck from the junk meat inside. I'm making you hungry, ain't I?

I don't eat them a lot. Hell, last time I had a good pickled sausage was probably a year or two ago. Likely from a gas station. Got a hankering though. My normal one-stop shop for Southern foods we don't talk about in mixed (includes Yankee) company is John's Big Brother, on Holmes Ave near Jordan Lane. But they only carry Matt & Dana's, which first-off makes me think of Matt & Kim (we cut the legs off of our pants, threw our shoes into the ocean, sit back and wave through the daylight...) and secondly they don't appeal to me as much as other brands do. I've been thinking about giving them another chance, but I figured I'd look around. Now, let's play a brain teaser: if you are in North Alabama, and it is 10pm-ish on Friday, where are you going to buy pickled sausage? Did you say gas station? Because that would have been brilliant. I didn't, though, I said Wal-Mart.

First time I had been to the place in a while, and it was crazy. I don't like shopping there. Normally I don't. Friday night explained the reasons why a bit. Crowded, the parking lot was vaguely insane. People were kind of pushy and just a little mangy. Hey, at least they were generally smiling, except for those that look scared of everyone. Agoraphobic freaks. At any rate, I grabbed my pickles (as the cucumber kind) and I grabbed a jar of semi-promising looking pickled sausage and bolted for the counter. Got there, and the cashier says something about not being able to ring it up. Now, in my mind, I am buying pickled sausage from a store and so I assume it's the kind of place that needs a price tag. I say that the shelf said $5.98, which it did. She then asked what it was. I told her, pickled sausage. Guy behind me, with a couple of half-cases of beer, said they were great. We nodded. Shared a moment. She made a face. Sarah agreed with her.

Got home, tried a few. Excellent. Except they weren't really pickled sausage, they are much more like pickled Gwaltney hot dogs with extra kick to hide that fact. That's cool, I like the little chicken franks. Yummy yum yum. Here's the thing. There is no label on this jar. None. Not a one. No calorie count. No brand name. No UPC code. I mean, there isn't even some faint sign of glue where a label fell off. There was a sealed lid, and a big old almost homemade looking Due By Date sticker on the top, and that's it. Now, my brain completely said, at first, "Well, obviously, it had a label and I just knocked it off while dodging the mangy eyed fuckers giving me the look near the beer aisle." Now, I am not sure. I think I picked up a jar of pickled wienies utterly devoid of label or other identification, paid money for it, and then proceeded to eat from it. Who taught me this was acceptable behavior? Who failed me as a child?

Ah, well, still tasty, though.

From things with no label to things with mis-labels, let's finish this post off looking at In Bruges. The movie. Go on, and watch the trailer. Alright, now, let's look at some quotes from the back of the box...

...edgy, action-packed comedy, filled with thrilling chases, spectacular shoot-outs and an explosive ending you won't want to miss!...a life & death struggle of comic proportions against one very angry crime boss...! Get ready for the outrageous and unpredictable fun...

Let me break this movie down a little for you, and there will be edges of spoilerism (nothing you won't find out in the first half hour). Collin Farrell's character, Ray, the foul-mouthed man-child hitman who hates Bruges because he doesn't get its charms, was sent out of Britain after a hit against a priest ended with him accidentally shooting a kid. His partner, Ken, wonderfully acted by Brendan Gleeson, gets the news he is to shoot Ray. Ray who, by the way, is suicidal and spiraling down with guilt. Are you laughing yet? The movie is not action packed. It does not have any real shoot outs (there is only one, maybe two, scenes I can think of where more than one gun is involved in an actual it's going to be used sort of way). There is a chase scene that mostly works because the audience can't quite keep the streets apart and so maybe they are running a long ways or maybe they are running in circles.

It has an hour or so of somewhat thoughtful, human discussion about the weird shit that is life, with throwaways to tourism versus non-tourism and what makes you happy, and it has half an hour of jokes aimed at Americans and/or midgets (including one prominent American dwarf, who asks a couple of times for you to not hold his nationality against him before going off on a cocaine infused discussion about how the non-white races, aka "The Blacks", are going to one day declare war on "The Whites"). It is actually a movie I enjoyed, and it has occasional laughs as long as you like it a bit dark and kind of meanly surreal, but the campaign for it, what littler there was, sold it as something it is not. It is a movie about two hit-men, one old and one young, coming to grips that sometimes you cross a line and there is nothing like an easy exit in that job.

I also realized, after the movie, that part of my issue with it, what issue I had, is that it involves a lot of un-ironic humor. Most good jokes, at least my favorite, are effectively ironic: they misdirect you or mislead you or lead you to examine something in an unexpected light. This movie has a lot of "jokes" that are basically things turning out to be exactly what they are, with maybe the humor coming from the fact that life is just absurd, man. That's the kind of observational humor that was really vogue a couple of years ago but feels somewhat shallow taken out of context. Yes, people selling tickets expect you to have the amount your ticket costs to get a ticket. I. Oh. Um. Ha? Ha? I guess we are just lucky that Ray didn't start going on about what the fuck was up with those fucking airplane peanuts, huh?

Good movie, though, complaints aside and good sausages, lack of label be damned. Maybe. I....really need to go back to Wal-mart and make sure I'm not eating Zeke's special blend he snuck on the shelf while no one was watching. I have no idea what I am going to do if none of the jars match the one out of which I've been eating.

Food, Movies


Written by Doug Bolden

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