Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Halloween Candy 2012 Part 1

While I struggled to put together last year's feature, given how little Halloween candy I was able to turn up, this year should have been different. I was on the candy beat in a couple of different stores, on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, all I managed to find was a couple of bags of Haribos, only one of which I hadn't seen before. The situation could have been dire, but this time I had a back-up plan - a terrible, terrible back-up plan.

Haribo Spooky Ghosts

Well, this was it as far as new, locally-available candy went. In here we've got gummy orange and blackcurrant ghosts, as well as softer vanilla-flavoured ones. Tasty flavours all round, and I think the two slightly different types of candy compliment each other nicely. Good job, Haribo. 4/5

And that's where I'd be wrapping things up, if I hadn't taken the likelihood of this happening as an opportunity to do something dumb I've wanted to do for a long time: take this feature to it's logical, inevitable conclusion by ordering this big, €50 box of American candy for the occasion.

My body is ready.

Mayfair Candy Corn

Everything I kew about American candy is wrong! For some reason I always thought candy corn would be a hard candy that probably tasted a lot like barley sugar. Imagine my surprise when I popped one in my mouth and discovered something in taste and consistency that's pretty close to a fudge. Not that I'm complaining though; this was great, and I'd almost consider giving it full marks if it hadn't been for the amazing candy corn lurking a little deeper in the box. 4/5

Mayfair Mellocremes

Of the three bags of candy corn here, this is the only one I didn't like. This may not taste terrible, but it's extremely bland, which surprises me given that this seems to be made by the same people as the candy corn above. Don't know what went wrong here. 1/5

Brach's Milk Maid Caramel Apple Candy Corn

From the initial hit of tangy apple to the rich caramel flavour that follows, these taste freaking fantastic. Hands down, the best candy corn I got with this order, and well worth your time checking out. 5/5

Brach's Assorted Halloween Mellowcremes

Another offering from Brach's. In here we have four Fall-themed caidies made from the same stuff as candy corn, which I suppose is mellowcreme, to get technical. Running through the candies: There's a brown, chocolate-flavoured bat that's easily the worst, least convincing chocolate flavoured thing featured in this part; There's a fairly bland orange-coloured pumpkin that I'm assuming is supposed to be candy corn flavoured; There's a yellow-coloured moon, with your typical fake banana flavour, which I'm actually quite a fan of for some weird reason; And finally, there's a toffee flavoured, and coloured bundle of wheat, which I was quite a fan of. So, all in all, a mixed bag. *gets shot* I'll give a three out of five for the two candies I liked, and hey, even the blandish pumpkin is decent, unlike the Mayfair Mellocremes. 3/5

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Quite liked the filling in these; it was exactly the sweet, but slightly salty peanut flavour I was hoping for, with a nice mix of smooth and crunchy textures. The chocolate coating though, is kind of nasty. It's got a very artificial, over-sweet flavour with a weirdly chewy texture. It reminds a lot of the cruddy chocolate and raspberry icing on those awful Demon Slices last year. I'll give these a three out of five for the filling and nothing for the chocolate. 3/5

White Reese's

These are almost exactly what you'd expect, with the same filling as the regular ones, but with a white chocolate coating that's actually pretty tasty this time. That should be a recipe for success, but I just didn't think the two worked well together. The filling overpowers the white chocolate flavour to the point where it might as well not be there, which is a pity.

Out of the two versions of these I tried though, these are definitely the ones to go for. This coating might get lost in the mix, but that's infinitely preferable to tasting the crud on the outside of the regular ones. I'll give these a 4 out of 5. 4/5

Halloween Peeps

Texture-wise, I thought the gritty sugar coating and the marshmallow interior of these worked surprisingly well together, and they look great. Unfortunately, they also taste like freaking disinfectant. Maybe this lot are just defective somehow, but if these are the Peeps I've heard so much about over the years, colour me disappointed. I'll have to give these a big, fat zero out of five. 0/5

York Peppermint Patties

For the uninitiated, these are round candies with a soft, peppermint fondant filling, coated in a thin layer of dark chocolate. While I wish the peppermint was a little bit stronger here, the dark chocolate/mint mix is a great combination of flavours and I really liked the consistency of the fondant: firm, but still a little chewy. I could happily go through a bag of these in one go, providing I wasn't already feeling nauseous from having consumed pounds of candy over the course of a few nights. 4/5

Tootsie Roll Midgees

For the unfamiliar, these are chocolate-flavoured chewy candies. As such, these don't really have the most convincing chocolate flavour, but they're tasty enough and certainty provide a solid, satisfying chewing experience. I'll give these a solid three out of five. 3/5

In Part 2: Taffy!, non-reviews of expired products, chocolates that taste like vomit, and an exciting bonus international section. Continue >>

Den Magazine Issue 16

In late 1994 RTÉ put out a magazine based on its popular children's programming block The Den. Aptly titled "The Den", it was a mix of pop culture news and interviews, cartoon strips and educational content, leveraging characters from, and contributors to the show throughout.

Aside from its (kind-of-terrible) video game coverage, I don't remember ever particularly enjoying it, but as a fan of The Den itself, I still picked it up whenever I saw a new issue. Being a bit of a hoarder, I still have all of them, and I thought it'd be a neat idea to scan a few of them in and post them here. Classic literature they ain't, but I'm sure someone out there will enjoy them.

Kicking things off is Issue 16 from November 1995, which features, among other things no one cares about, interviews with D:Ream and OTT, guides to ghosts and endangered animals, reviews of the Batman Forever and Demolition Man games, and all the hot news on First Kiss' second single.

Download (53.3 MB)

Note: The magazine is in CBR format, so you'll need CDisplay or something similar to view it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Clearoutageddon Part Two: Free Junk!

Whatever faint possibility there was of someone buying a VHS copy of Titanic in 2011, would anyone really want to take a bunch of wrecked PS2 discs or a pile of obsolete software off my hands, much less pay for the privilege of doing so? Well, mostly no. But there were a few surprising exceptions, as I took to some classifieds sites last year to unload some more clutter.

On first inspection, it looks like we've got a set of perfectly good PS2 games here (also, Sonic Heroes). Flip the discs over though and... can see they're all scratched up pretty badly. Not unusual for used PS2 games of course, but in all my time hauling stacks of cheap PS2 games out of my local GameStop, these were the only ones that flat out didn't work. I guess I could have returned them, but given how little I paid for them, it never seemed worth the hassle. Instead I hung onto them in the hope that I'd be able to repair them later. Well, with something other than toothpaste anyway. I'd already tried that with unsuccessful, yet minty fresh results. :D

Tired of hanging onto them, I put up an ad up last September to see if anyone would take them off my hands for the cost of postage. And someone did. Or at least it looked like they were going to. Then they pulled out citing of a funeral in the family. As a newcomer to this classifieds site I thought "fair enough", but after the second time I had someone do that, I started to suspect that this was a go-to excuse for pulling out of a deal there. That, or a very strange coincidence.

In the end I wasn't able to get a taker for these so they found their way to the bottom of a bin bag.

I mentioned back in 2009 that I had a launch GBA that just randomly died while I was in the final stages of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. This is that GBA. At the time, I assumed that the whole system was fried, but after a bit of experimentation, I discovered that it was just the screen that had died. Replacements seemed to be relatively expensive though and I wasn't too confident in my ability to put in a new one, so I just put it aside.

Three years later, I decided I'd put up an ad for it and maybe let someone else have a crack at repairing it. I really wasn't expecting much interest, but within minutes of posting it, I was swamped with offers. In the end, I sent it to this guy, who seemed much more concerned about the (pretty well-preserved) box and the manuals than viability of the unit itself, so much so that I wondered if he was just planning to flip it as an "as new" handheld onto some unsuspecting sucker. Man, I really hope not.

I made this video to show that it really was just the screen that was broken, in case anyone needed proof. I guess I didn't need to bother. :)

007 Spy Files was this crappy, in-universe Bond magazine aimed at children from 2002. As such, I can't really explain why I picked up ten issues of it. I don't remember enjoying it in any capacity and I certainly had no interest in the Top Trumps style cards they were giving away with it. I guess there was precious little else to buy on the news stand of my local supermarket back then.

While I was initially surprised that someone who appeared to be a grown woman was interested in picking these up, it made much more sense when she mentioned they were for her nephew. I guess they finally found their way into the right hands. I have to wonder though, if he's only got into the series via Daniel Craig, will he have any idea who the Irish guy is on most of the covers is. :)


These, I got as fucking Christmas presents one year. Someone thought "Hey, you know what JiliK just loves? Knowledge. In CD-ROM form" Well, fuck that. These things ended up sitting in a pile of junk for a good decade or so afterwards. :D

A quick trial on Windows XP last year revealed that they probably wouldn't work on a modern PC, but I put an ad up for them anyway. Maybe someone, somewhere would be able to knock some use out of them. The same day, I did get one person willing to pay the postage for both these and all the French stuff below. After a month of waiting though, the guy never come through with the payment and into the bin they went.

I mentioned before that I had to learn French in secondary school. One of the most time-consuming parts of that, homework-wise, was always looking shit up in a French dictionary. A computer-based alternative would have been a godsend. Unfortunately, the Learn to Speak French set above was all I could get my hands on, but it absolutely wasn't what I needed.

Also included in the same ad as the above set was a French phrase book and tape I randomly picked up in a supermarket in 1999 and another bloody CD-ROM, that the same relative gave me the Christmas afterwards, still not grasping that PCs were for playing Doom, not learning. Out of these, the cassette/phrase book ended up going into the charity shop box and everything else got binned.

deviantArt Update 16/07/12 *Updated*


I spotted a really gorgeous sky outside on Saturday evening, so I grabbed my camera and took a few pics. I think this was the most interesting-looking one of the lot. UPDATE: Just put a few more photos from this batch up on Flickr. Thought this would be the best place to put them. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Let's Recycle an Old Picture (in Excruciating Detail)

In June I took an old, sun-bleached picture we had, and reused the frame to hold a poster-sized print of one of the photos I took last May. For some reason, I documented the process with my digital camera, so I guess we're doing that now. :D

Here we have the picture in question. My grandparents used to have it over their fireplace. I'm not sure exactly when they got it, but it's got to be at least twenty years old. As you can see it wasn't looking too hot.

Flipping it over you can see the tape's gotten pretty yellow too. It's going to have to come off so I can dismantle it.

The next thing I needed to get out of the way was the board behind the picture itself. Unfortunately, there were complications here. The board was kept on by these metal pins embedded in the frame. Some I managed to bend back successfully, others snapped off, taking small chunks of the frame with them. Whoops.

Inside was the picture, attached to a card mount with only a single bit of tape. Cheapskates.

After carefully pealing the tape away from the mount, I was able to get a good look at the print itself for the first time.

You can get a good idea of just how much it's faded over the years here.

Right. With the old picture out, it's time to put my own one in. Several minutes and numerous measurements later though, I realised the print I ordered is far too big the size of the frame. Welp, back to Snapfish I guess. :D