September 2006

I thought I loved Sherbert. I thought it was a tasty treat that was basically the same as Sorbet. So much so, that I had guessed that they were essentially the same thing. Sorbet was the French recipe, Sherbert the English. Boy was I wrong.

First of all, they don’t have Sherbert in the U.S. They have Sherbet. There is no second R. I’m going to pause while you stare at the sentence below and reality sinks in.

There is no second R in Sherbet.

Why the hell does everyone still call it Sherbert? It’s insane! Last night, I was buying some at the store, and the friendly old man who works nights commented on it. “Oooh, Swiss Orange Sherbert with dark chocolate chips! That looks excellent!” He read the lable, and without even thinking he added the second R! We all do!

I remember when I first noticed. I was shopping at Larry’s Market (R.I.P.) and noticed that the not quite Ice Cream was called Sherbet. I assumed it was because it was some crazy organic brand that was using some non-standard spelling. So I continued looking, and noticed they ALL said Sherbet. The world spun. Nothing made sense. Had I been saying and hearing it wrong all this time, or was everyone saying it wrong. It was a world gone mad.

I decided to do some research, and once again the foundations of my world were rocked. They had Sherbet in the U.K., but not like you know it. Originally a sweet, fruit flavored powder which would be added to water in order to create a fizzy drink, the powder was now typically consumed on it’s own, often with a candy stick or lollypop. Think Pixy Stix or Fun Dip, but with the effervescing power of Pop Rocks.

More shocking still, Sherbert did exist! It was what they called U.K. Sherbet in Australia and New Zealand. How did this happen? How had the spelling and pronunciation for two entirely different types of sweets come into use on opposite sides of the planet?

I continued to learn about Sherbet, and found that some of my early ideas weren’t far off. It comes from the Persian word Sharbat, which means “drink.” It refered specifically to a fruit puree drink, often cooled with snow. Unsuprisingly, this is indeed the same root word as Sorbet. The practical difference in the US is that Sherbet includes a small amount of milk (less than Ice Cream), some egg white and/or gelatin.

Finally, there’s an interesting coincidence. The only slang terms I was able to find in actual use (Wikipedia often includes some fairly Apocryphal slang) are Sherbet as a term for Cocaine in the U.K., and Sherbert as a term for Beer in Australia. It strikes me as interesting that the fizzing powder version should function as slang for intoxicants, while the delicious not-quite-ice-cream remains entirely wholesome.

I’m actually working on something a little longer that will be about videogames to a degree, but is really more about aesthetics. Anyway, I currently have the following question:

How does one pluralize Wii? Is it Wiis? Wiii? Is it like buffalo, where you just leave it the same? Like, “Nintendo will have 1,000,000,000 Wii for the North American launch.”

I checked the official Nintendo style guide, and it doesn’t know either.

Man, I love videogames. Here is a post about them.

Ninja 5-0
HOLY CRAP. Ok, it’s a GBA game, and the name is retarded, but if you ever loved a Super Nintendo, you need this game. It’s kind of a cross between Bionic Commando and Ninja Gaiden. It’s about a ninja who is also a cop, and who saves hostages by murdering everyone else. Also something about evil ninja masks? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because the story is totally unimportant. What’s imporant is swinging in with a grappling hook, dropping from the sky on some dude, and killing him with your sword before you touch the ground.

I decided to stay up and be there live for the Japanese press conference for the Wii. It was AWESOME. Someday, years from now, videogame news will be professional enough that we will know the details ahead of time. Like, when the event starts, for example. No one seemed to know. Then there was the “live” feed of the conference that turned out to be from another press event in June. After that we suddenly started getting reports that the show was starting. Several sites were posting roughly the same information, when we all realized it was everyone copying the posts of some guy who was watching the same video we had already realized was old. Everyone quickly covered their tracks. Hours later, when everything had died down while people waited for the real conference, a link to a New York Times story posted by the Seattle PI showed up. It had all the major launch details. And not the Japanese launch, but the American launch that wasn’t supposed to be announced until the next day. It was incredibly anti-climactic, totally disorganized, and online reporting is going to quickly make nights like that a thing of the past. Which is a good thing overall, but I’m glad I got to experience it.

Proof that a strong, cohesive design process is more important than all the technical bells and whistles in the world. This game is nicer to look at than any game so far for Xbox 360 or PS3.

I have Opinions. I think they are Very Important. That’s why I have this website. You can click any of these words starting now and be taken away to a Wonderland of Polaroids saying things that I think!