Happy Chocolate Day!

If you know me, you know I’m not much a fan of official holidays, especially those that seem a bit on the artificial side (although National Waffle Day is something I would celebrate). That said, I’m not entirely untouched by a holiday that demands chocolates. Or roses, one of the very few flowers I do love. (Rose gardens are awesome.)

So I was delighted to see that, not only do Minnesotans have good sensibilities when it comes to voting politically, we also have good sensibilities when selecting our favorite Valentine’s Day candy.

See full map below. ION: Saw a cool new SF movie last night!

I saw the map in an article in The Takeout (dot com), an online magazine for people who love food and dining out (and I do love both).

The article is, Map of each state’s top Valentine’s Day candy leaves us worried about California, written by Marnie Shure. The map she uses comes “from Zippia, a job-hunting firm that occasionally pulls fun tidbits from Google Trends and whips them into aesthetically pleasing infographics for our reading pleasure.”

Ain’t technology something!

Without further ado, here it is (click for big):

Ms Shure’s  article was concerned about California’s favorite apparently being candy necklaces. My suspicion is the Californians think of them as Puka shell necklaces, which are required wearing in some sectors of the state.

Some comedian, long ago, might have been Richard Pryor, said that after God created the United States (of America), he grabbed the whole thing by Florida and gave it a good shake to get things going. But that made all the lose nuts and bolts roll down into California, and they’ve been there ever since.

I lived in Los Angeles for almost 20 years, and can attest to the truth of this. California, especially Southern California, is weird.

(Really, all three giant boundary states, California, Texas, and Florida, have something notably weird about them. California, of course, is especially weird, and it’s possible it has something to do with having multiple MLB teams in one state. Florida and Texas each have two, but only California has five.)

Anyway, Puka candy necklaces aside, I was struck by my state’s excellent taste, not just in candy, but in chocolate. Dove choc is great choc!

Go Minnesota!

§

One caveat. As Ms Shure points out, searching for candy isn’t the same as buying candy, and probably few need to search for those ubiquitous generally tasteless chalky candy hearts. Every store on the planet is overflowing with them at this time of year.

That, the author suggests, may explain why only four states seem to favor that traditional, if childish, Valentine’s Day candy.

Since she loves the Sour Punch Hearts (never heard of them) she also rejoices in that 45 states of 50 go for chocolate of some kind.

§

I found the regionality a bit interesting.

Look at the concentration of western states who are into M&Ms (a very decent choice; they melt in your mouth, not in your hand).

There’s a similar concentration to the east for chocolate strawberries. I wonder if the latter one is due to an eastern firm that specializes in them?

On some level it almost makes sense to me that Alaska and Hawaii would also be into the Dove chocolate, but Utah, too? Okay…

I am a little surprised Hershey chocolate doesn’t make a stronger appearance. I’ve recently realized they make some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. I wonder if many, as I once did, think of them as a minor player, an also ran compared to Dove and the fancier brands.

But honestly, I’ll take Hershey chocolate any day. Great stuff!

§ §

In Other News: Until last night, the above was all I intended to post today. I saw that article about the candy last week and have been saving it.

But last night, on Netflix, I watched, Space Sweepers, a new Korean SF space romp I’d heard about, and really enjoyed it. At first viewing, I’m giving this a Wow! rating.

It’s perhaps halfway between Firefly and Star Wars with maybe a dash of The Expanse thrown in. The protagonists are a crew of four (one is a robot) on their ship Victory. They’re independent space trash cleaners — they track down and capture errant space junk.

It’s a competitive business, and an early scene features them literally ripping a prize away from other sweepers. Who come off as deadly enemies, but apparently it’s all in the family, so to speak.

It all takes place in 2092, when the Earth is dying in its own wastes. Humanity has begun fleeing into orbit (those who can afford it), and there is also a project to terraform Mars using a genetically altered “super tree.” A powerful genetically altered visionary is behind all this. It will surprise no one that he’s the main villain of the piece.

This isn’t just a swashbuckling space opera, it’s also incredibly sweet and touching. The crew, while salvaging some space junk, discover what appears to be a very young child who was protected from whatever wrecked the spaceship they’re salvaging by being stashed in a cargo hold surrounded with crash balloons.

But it turns out this is apparently “Dorothy” supposedly a killer robot with a hydrogen bomb inside her. Oops. The crew is terrified of her (which makes for some light comedy), but realize this could be their golden ticket.

As with all such rag-tag, they live on the edge of existence, constantly in debt and never able to get ahead. But “Dorothy” — if they can just sell her to the right people — is worth millions.

Unless, of course, things aren’t as advertised and they all come to love this special child.

Good action and space CGI, some humor, and a lot of sweetness. If you like space opera, this is definitely worth seeing!

§ §

Stay chocolate, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

24 responses to “Happy Chocolate Day!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I forgot to include in the post this hot lava heart from Kilauea:

    It was posted by the USGS volcanoes group two days ago on their news page.

    I’ve been keeping an eye in Kilauea in general since the 2018 eruption, but especially since lava returned to the summit.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I find lava absolutely fascinating. It looks like something I’d want to play with. The only problem is, the stuff is over 1000° (F)! But it looks like something I’d love to stick my hand in.

  • Anonymole

    Looking forward to 7 minutes of terror this Friday…

    Hershey’s chocolate is nasty/bitter and only works on smores. Nestle is much more palatable. Dove is similar to Nestle’s in my book. What the hell are Chocolate Roses? or is there a comma between those words?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      To be honest, not much interested in Mars. Dead, dry, and boring. It has some scientific interest, but not a place I’d want to visit, let alone live. (OTOH, maybe we should send all the Republicans there. I’m sure they’d love the red color scheme.)

      I think we have rather different tastes in chocolate! My only exposure to Nestlé is their Crunch bar, which in my book is “just okay.” I don’t like hot chocolate (or chocolate soda or drinks), so their Quik was never on my menu. (If I’m gonna go Swiss chocolate, it’ll probably be Lindt & Sprüngli. I love those Lindor bon-bons.)

      You say bitter… and I wonder, do you like the IPA beers? I can recall the first time I had a Surly Furious. Thought I was drinking a pine tree. Now I think it’s just a mildly hopped IPA compared to some I enjoy. Point is, bitterness is a taste that may (or may not) need to be acquired. OTOH, there are tastes that seem very difficult to attain: I’ve never been able to get a taste for eggs or certain veggies, and I think the reason is the sulfur content. The smell of fried eggs, let alone imagining actually eating them, causes a literal gag reflex.

      Food tastes are, I think, the poster child for the phrase, “There’s no accounting for taste.” Maybe you’re as sensitive to bitter as I am to sulfur? It is true I don’t like overly-sweetened chocolate, although that 95% stuff is a bit hard to take.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Oops, sorry, I forgot to answer your question about chocolate roses. No comma, it’s apparently a thing. Chocolates in the form of rose flowers (I assume). The author of the article mentioned they’re common in gas station stores and are usually made from cheap chocolate. The implication was they’re a last-minute gift by a desperate lover who forgot to think ahead and is hoping flower-shaped chocolates will cover his error.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    It’s interesting that my state has chocolate truffles as its favorite. I only just discovered these things in the last year or two (ironically mailed to me by my aunt in Florida, although she’s from Louisiana), and I have to strictly limit how often I let them in the house. Otherwise I’d weigh a million pounds.

    I started watching Space Sweepers, but it wasn’t really clicking for me. But I’ve been thinking about going back to it. I had reached the point when they contacted the crime syndicate whatever to sell the child / robot. Netflix has been pestering me to finish it ever since.

    Mars doesn’t interest me all that much, but that helicopter thing looks like it could be very cool. If it doesn’t crash on its first flight.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I didn’t get into chocolate truffles for a long time because I thought they involved actual truffles, and I’m not a fan of fungus. When I learned they were just named after the shape

      And, absolutely, they’re very, very dangerous. I allow them in the house pretty much for Christmas only. (I’m generally more a cookie or cake guy, anyway, but there are a few times and types that are exceptions. Candy corns for Halloween, except I’ve recently come to understand why so many people hate them and have largely given them up. Chocolate for Christmas, jelly beans for Easter, and that was kinda it until fall again. These days it’s mostly just chocolate for Christmas.)

      There is something about Asian films that makes them different from American films. It sometimes feels like things are missing, or requiring explanation, or unexpected in character’s motivations, or something that seems to make them vaguely “off” somehow. I don’t know how many Asian films you’ve watched. I went through a martial arts movies phase where I watched a lot, and after a while I think maybe one just gets used to it.

      Mars. Whatever. My eyes are on Europa, Io, and Titan! We’ve done Mars; let’s go somewhere new!

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I’m the same way on truffles. Christmas season only, mostly because the first bag arrived as a Christmas gift and it’s turning into a sort of tradition.

        Yeah, I know the cultural thing is an issue for Asian films. Sometimes I can get past it. It wasn’t overwhelming me (as it does sometimes on anime stuff), but it probably reduced my ability to connect with the characters. Strangely enough, it doesn’t bother me that much with martial arts movies. (The El Rey Network showed a ton of them. I miss that cheesy channel.) Although the characters in most martial arts movies are so stock, I don’t really expect that much of a connection with them.

        But I feel like I’m missing out on a lot in the Asian market, so there might be some value in powering through enough of it to get used to it.

        Part of the problem with the outer solar system is it’s a lot more expensive to reach and do things there. Actually exploring Europa’s oceans is going to be an expensive and tricky mission.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, Europa is quite a ways off, I’m sure. (At least we’ve had the Juno mission, and I miss Cassini.) Titan is the one that interests me most. I’ve heard there’s an evolved robot society there… 😀

        Asian films the last couple of decades have really grown up, and if you do enjoy martial arts films, modern ones are amazing. Everyone knows Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; there are many more as good, if not better. For a while I got into the Tony Jaa films out of Thailand. That industry has the jaw-dropping idea regarding stunts that broken bones heal but film is forever, so the stunts are a little mind-blowing.

        If you watched a lot of Jackie Chan movies, you know the credits often included outtakes of stunts that went bad (Chan was seriously injured many times and casually injured more times than he can count). I’ve seen outtakes of serious injuries in Thailand films for stunts that went exactly as planned. That is some serious dedication to the art.

        Have you ever seen Hero, with Jet Li? Maybe the most visually stunning martial arts film I’ve ever seen. The use of color and sound, among other things, truly beautiful.

        And then there are the Japanese ghost stories. The only ones that can get to me. And unlike American films, often times the ghosts win. (Ju-On may be the scariest ghost movie I’ve ever seen as an adult. Yikes!!)

        Point is, there are some amazing modern Asian films to be missing out on!

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        On Titan, which franchise is that?

        I don’t think I’ve seen Hero. Maybe something to dig up tomorrow. That and/or finish Space Sweepers. Or maybe some other movies. It looks like I’m going to have the next couple of days free.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Evolved robots on Titan is a reference to the James P. Hogan novels Code of the Lifemaker and The Immortality Option. Long ago a badly damaged Von Neumann probe managed to land on Titan. Hogan offers what is a rather interesting account of how those machines evolved into intelligent lifeforms requiring a merging of combined and edited code between two existing units in order to create new units.

        Free time due to the cold? Looking at my videos shelf, House of the Flying Daggers is another beautiful one. So is Curse of the Golden Flower. I’d probably start with Hero, though, although that might be my own taste speaking. The film is a visual treat, but it’s been criticized as a bit plot-thin (although I have to say that mystifies me; the storyline is stronger than in many martial arts films, which, as you noted, can be on the cartoonish side).

        What I’ve come to believe is that Wuxia (and Wushu in general) for Asians have always been what Superman and Spiderman are to westerners: fantasy superheroes with special abilities or powers. A difference exists in the amazing physical skills of the actors — the fight scenes require highly skilled martial arts talents. (You may recall the intensive training Keanu Reeves went through for The Matrix. His fight scenes involved real (film) fighting.) That skill level allows the camera to stand back and watch. None of those quickly edited closeups that western films use to disguise the fact that the star has no fighting ability whatsoever (or that stunt doubles are involved).

        Speaking of awesome fight scenes and the way Thailand martial arts films up the ante, one of my favorites is Tony Jaa in The Protector (Tom-Yum-Goong). Features the Thailand fighting style Muay Thai, a style designed to maim and disable quickly. There’s a 20-minute sequence (max film that can be loaded in a camera) filmed without cuts in which Jaa ascends many levels of a building fighting the whole way. They had to film it over and over again (on different days) because of various issues. It’s an astonishing piece of fight choreography and cinema.

        Enjoy your time off!

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Ah, ok, I haven’t read those Hogan novels. But I’ve seen the idea of robot evolution show up in a lot of sci-fi, most often in books by British authors.

        Thanks for the recommendations. So far my free time has been spent watching frozen tree branches fall and hoping one of them doesn’t put a hole in my roof, while also hoping the power doesn’t go out.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I thought it was really clever how Hogan set it up. The probe was badly damaged by being too close to a supernova and just barely managed to make landfall on Titan. Its mission, of course, was mining for resources to (a) send back home and (b) make more probes, but both those goals were lost due to damage. There were also memory limitations that required two existing robots selectively combine their code in order to create a new unit, so there was a “genetic mutation” component involved that led to evolution.

        Ice storms are the very worst! Good luck!!

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Hogan’s idea sounds pretty cool. It resonates a little with VGer in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Alastair Reynolds has a race of robots evolve on Mars after an accident (can’t remember the details). For the first several decades, it isn’t really intelligent, but eventually turns out to be. And Neal Asher has a race of alien AIs that, once their parent species is gone, over the eons evolve into more of an animal like state.

        That’s the thing about anything that reproduces itself. Eventually evolution is going to kick in.

        The storm’s over. Now it’s just falling temperature. There are large branches down all over the place in the front yard. Not looking forward to the cleanup.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Gee, dude, it’s almost like you lived around here! Ice and wet snow are great for tree pruning. 😮

        I noticed the conversation you and Paul had about whether information could be preserved over time, and I’ve been pondering it ever since. I think it’s probably possible, with all sorts of redundancy and error correction, to maintain information for a very very long time, but given enough time there’s always some combination of events, no matter how improbable, that have the potential to cause undetectable errors.

        But I still think it’s possible to make that require many eons given multiple separated data centers that constant check themselves and each other. The idea would be to create a “chain of custody” that requires a large combination of improbable events to have any effect. One could probably manage to achieve millions, if not billions, of years of accurate data.

        Of course, the usual premise in these evolving AI stories is that no one thought it required that kind of massive investment and, in truth, probably very few things do.

        As with the Asher series you mentioned, in the Hogan books, the race that sent out the probes is long gone. After the damage from the supernova, the probe drifted for a very long time. I forget, but maybe millions of years before it managed to come across Titan.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I actually had forgotten about that conversation (even though it just happened). But yeah, you can delay the onset of evolution, but it would take a lot of redundancy and infrastructure. Eventually entropy would win and copy errors would happen. We also have to remember that these physical systems would also be experiencing degradation from the environment (radiation, etc), including in the error correcting systems.

        In the end, whoever is designing the system has to decide how much of it they’re going to dedicate to preserving its fidelity. It might be worth it for a data vault of some kind to have the redundancy that preserves information for eons, but for anything that needs to be out there doing things, the trade offs in effectiveness seems like it would be a constraint.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, it’s kind of the classic locksmith-lockpick trade-off.

        re physical systems: Part of the equation would be a service, automated or otherwise, that periodically replaces physical equipment. Not unlike how every major part in an airplane has a doc trail and service time clock that indicates when it needs to be refurbished or replaced.

        I’m reminded of how, a few years back, “they” (for some value of “they”) determined to re-master all the James Bond films, and they scanned all the original camera negatives to digital and then processed all the digital frames (and the sound). The result was actually stunning. Doctor No, the first Bond film, looked just as good on the screen as the most recent. Just a lot of old-fashioned cars making it look period. Anyway, the documentary I watched talked about how they recorded each film on three separate hard drives and set up a protocol to have the data copied to new hard drives every (IIRC) three years.

        In a sense, thanks to the wonders of digital copying, that gives you a fresh start on entropy. Of course, you have to be very careful about entropy during the copying process. It’s always lurking in the corners… waiting and waiting… It knows it’ll win eventually!

  • Michael

    I enjoyed Space Sweepers, Wyrd! One thing that was awkward for a while was the voices not matching the movements of the mouths. Am I correct it was probably filmed in Korean and over-dubbed with different voices in various international markets, and they use that little scene of the translator being broken early on to explain why you’re hearing most of the film in your native tongue?

    It took a little while for me to settle into, as the scene cuts early on seemed so fast, but I got into it.

    Hero was amazing as you say!

    Michael

    • Wyrd Smythe

      There might be (hopefully) a setting in your Netflix regarding language and/or captioning? When I watched it, the dialog among the ship’s crew was in Korean with subtitles. There are points in the film where people speak other languages (there was the French guy lusting after the captain, for instance, and his dialog was in French). And the villain and the other white guys generally spoke English.

      I would have to rate the film poorly on giving the viewer a good sense of what was happening in the action scenes. Too many closeups, too much fast cutting, and not enough wide establishing shots to give the viewer a better sense of the scene. (They’ve learned, no doubt, from American action movies that frequently do the same thing.)

      Sadly, that’s all many viewers want. I’ll never forget reading a comment long ago by some wag who said that all he wanted in a movie was motion and sound. Many apparently just don’t care about getting a sense of what’s really happening in the scene.

      It’s also a movie that kinda demands an SF background, since they don’t explain much of anything.

      That I loved the movie anyway speaks to something very good about it, I think. Part of it was a good story and engaging characters, and the family feel with the little kid was just so sweet.

      I’ve see Hero many times — I keep showing it to people — and I enjoy it every time. The use of color in that film is really something. And that first fight, the mental, then physical, battle in the rain, with the Chinese musician and the sounds of the rain… I could watch that scene over and over.

      Have you seen any of the others I mentioned to Mike? I recommend them all!

      • Michael

        I did see Houss of the Flying Daggers and enjoyed it. I should watch it again sometime. Obviously Crouching Tiger. Another the comes to mind is Red Cliff. You see that one? I don’t think I saw Curse of the Golden Flower or The Protector. I will check out Golden Flower one of these days. 🙂

        I am sure you’re right about the Netflix settings. I didn’t try too hard to correct it. Shit was flying around too fast. Haha. The later action scenes I seemed to follow fine, but the first ones, when characters haven’t even been established yet, were overwhelming.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        FWIW, as I recall, Golden Flower is more a castle opera than a martial arts film, but it’s lush and beautiful. Definitely worth seeing.

        I have not seen Red Cliff, and, looking at its Wiki page, that seems a serious omission! John Woo’s first major film since Paycheck, and I’m definitely a John Woo fan (although Face Off was a bit too creepy for me; I have a hard time with women-in-jeopardy plot lines).

        I very much agree, that first action sequence in Space Sweeps had a huge WTF?!? component. (The one where they steal the space junk prize from the others, right?) Maybe it was just a way to get audiences into the flow, but I was almost wishing for a DVD copy I could run as slow speed or even freeze frame.

        It almost seems a pity such incredible CGI work passes too quickly to be appreciated.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    Arizona likes M&Ms? How lame. I’m going with Tucson’s very own Monsoon Chocolate bonbons. Or LA Burdicks in New Hampshire…behind Ken Burns’ house, actually.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Aw, M&Ms aren’t that bad! Although your alternates do sound a lot more tasty!

      I knew someone who was a confirmed chocoholic, and she kept a bag of M&Ms in her desk and only ate one a day just to get that chocolate fix. I do not know how anyone can eat just one M&M! That’s much worse than just one Lay’s potato chip.

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