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The Jiffy Pop Incident

Christmas night, a friend of the family threw his annual Christmas party, a grand excuse to gather together, share holiday cheer, get the hell away from relatives and have a few drinks. Part of this grand tradition is the Secret Santa gift exchange. Unlike a usual "Secret Santa" program (which basically involves stalking somebody with anonymous gifts for a couple of weeks until the big reveal) this one is pretty straightforward--bring a gift that cost you less than ten bucks, put it under the tree and at the appointed hour all the gifts are distributed at random to everybody who brought something.

I took the pretty blue bag I'd had stuffed in my work mailbox (see previous entry), threw in a few random gifts I'd accumulated and wasn't sure what to do with (including the Splat Pig) and sauntered off.

When gifts were being passed around and my name was called, I said "Just hand me anything." Thus was I handed a peculiarly shaped bundle in shiny mylar paper. Peeling off the tape (mylar doesn't tear, really, without sharp metal objects involved) revealed not one but two items within--a DVD and Jiffy Pop. The DVD was clearly done on the cheap--it had a cardboard sleeve instead of a plastic case, and, as my brother-in-law pointed out, a hilarious typo on the back.

Brandon Lee, son of marital arts master Bruce Lee, stars in this enthralling thriller filled with action and incredible fight sequences. A renegade government agent (Lee) has been given a seemingly impossible mission: to uncover a top-secret Soviet laser weapons operation, blow it up and recover the scientist who holds the deadly formula that could destroy the world!

(That is typed verbatim. Can you spot the error? Hint: the spellchecker didn't mind it at all.)

Cool. A craptastic action flick with a hawt boy in it. Clearly, this is from when dear ol' Brandon, God rest him, was paying his dues in the acting biz back in 1990.

So I traded a Splat Pig for a Brandon Lee cliche-action-probably-sucks-in-that-hilarious-way-flick. I felt almost a little guilty, seeing that I came out better than what I'd put in.

But I see that karma is a sneaky bitch and things do indeed come back to haunt you.

Remember, there was something else enclosed in the package. Jiffy Pop.

Jiffy Pop, for those of you not immersed in American pop culture, is popcorn that comes in a little metal pan covered with aluminum foil. The pan is rubbed on the burner of a stove in a circular motion as it heats and as the popcorn pops, the furled aluminum expands into a ball full of fresh, hot popcorn. That's the theory, anyway. "As fun to eat as it is to make!" the slogan cheerfully promises. I thought it was a delightful extra-cheesy touch to the DVD viewing pleasure.

Tonight, my parents are out at the Shakespeare Tavern, so I thought it would be a good evening for bad movies and Jiffy Pop. So, as I waited for the evening news to finish taping, I heated up the stove and put on the Jiffy Pop. The instructions are as follows--"Place pan on burner. When sizzling sound is heard, continuously shake pan in very fast circular and back and forth motions until foil is fully expanded."

Right. Back and forth. In a circle. Alternating, or at the same time? Okay, I think the point is to keep the pan moving instead of letting it just sit on the burner. I can do that.

There's an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where Joel (I think it's Joel, though it might be Mike, sacreligious of me as it may be to get the two mixed up) is making Jiffy Pop, doing the circular-back-and-forth shooka-shooka motion that Jiffy Pop requires. Nothing happens. In the end, it turns out the burner isn't even on. All in all, he did better than I did.

So I moved the pan around in a circular motion and waited for something to happen. And waited. And waited. The aluminum foil remained in a crinkly spiral around a circular smooth patch with a hole in the middle, much like the shape of a hurricane. And still, nothing happened.

Finally, I heard it. The sound of one kernal popping. Then a few more. Dents started to appear in the foil. Instead of gosh-wow-something's-happening delight, the first thing that came to my mind was some alien force breaking through the unbreakable steel door in a sci-fi movie. Bang. Bang. Bang. Dent. Dent. Dent.

Then the popping began in earnest and the foil started to expand. Once again, my brain veered into unpleasant territory--it started to look like some Lovecraftian monster bulging outwards with a single wide eye with steam seeping out of the hole in the center. Only, like, shiny instead of slimy.

Then the popping died down. Was it done? It hadn't expanded as much as I'd expected, but I know better than to believe the hype. Then I started to smell burning things and figured it was about as done as it was ever going to be.

I carefully opened it with a fork, per the directions, and then realized that eating it straight out of the container while watching TV was completely out of the question. My parents' den is now done up in leather and there really is no safe place to plunk a metal pan that's been sitting on a stove burner for five minutes. So I tore the bag open and poured the contents into a bowl. Only half the contents were willing to dispense--a mixture of popped and unpopped kernels that ran about 50/50. The other half remained stuck to the pan.

I sampled a few of the unburned pieces. Bleah. Let's see--pain in the ass to make, disgusting to eat, yep, it's about right.

I'm going to go make some proper popcorn in the hot air popper and sit down and watch my flick now. It can't be much worse than the Jiffy Pop.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2005 02:31 am (UTC)
now CyFi
THAT was an excellently narrated entry. I felt like I was reading a very crafty short story. I want you to know I thoroughly enjoyed it. :-)
Jan. 8th, 2005 02:55 am (UTC)
Re: now CyFi
Aw, *blush*, thank yew. I'm glad you found it amusing. It warms my little writerly heart to know my words are enjoyed. :)
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 8th, 2005 03:47 pm (UTC)
*ding ding ding!* We have a winnah!

Heck, I figure his wife probably appreciated his mastery of the marital arts. ;)
Jan. 8th, 2005 05:51 am (UTC)
*dies laughing*

Oh, and I know the flick. Was it one he did with Dolph Lungren? Cause that was hella bad.
Jan. 8th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC)
Actually, it was the one he did with Ernest Borgnine. No, really. It's called Laser Mission.

I may track down the Dolph Lungren one and rent it sometime. Weren't you with me at a mall or something when they were doing some kind of survey and showed us the preview for that and asked us what we thought?
Jan. 8th, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC)
Ernest Borgnine? God, it must be bad, then. God knows the man hasn't done anything decent since the 70s. *grins*

Um, I think I might've been. All I remember is that the film was righteously bad.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )