Category Archives: Articles

This is nuts!

GQ has an amazing story about a slightly unhinged film director, who seems to have gone a bit off the rails with his Stalinist movie set – which has developed into a permanent totalitarian mini-state stuck in the 1950s Russia.. and still no movie appears to have materialized, after 5 years in the making! Read the incredible account here.

Some more of the author’s experience along with pictures can also be found here


The Argentinian art of flirting is an interesting article by an American journalist describing the Argentinian version of the chat up line.. commonly referred to as the “piropo” which as she describes manages to evoke a combination of poetry and nostalgia:

I met Oscar, a vaguely creepy street artist and tango dancer. Handsome and aging, he absolutely dripped with Argentinity beneath a pale fedora and worn blazer. My question about what time the art stalls opened prompted the first piropo of my trip: For a woman as beautiful as I, he said, the stalls would open at any hour. With a hint of a smile, I asked if it was true that they say less piropos these days. “Sadly, it is,” he replied.  Asking my permission, Oscar led me to a nearby park bench, arranged his silk aviator’s cravat, lit up a cigarette and told me the history of piropos. “In the old days,” he said, looking straight into my eyes with familiarity, “men came alone to try their luck in the New World. They left their wives and families behind. Soon there were far more men than women in Argentina. How do you get the attention of the only woman around?” His eyes followed a passing teenage girl, whose deep tan traced its way from her painted toes right up to the hem of her 4-inch skirt. “By saying the most beautiful words. It’s the same as dancing the tango– maybe you’re ugly, but if you are a beautiful dancer, you have a chance.”

The most complicated coffee order ever.. we have a winner!

The most complicated coffee you could order according to someone on the straight dope message board… love it!

You’ve groaned when you’re stuck behind them in line … yuppies at Starbucks that order something like a “grande iced half caf triple mocha latte macchiato”, while all you want is a large cup of joe to go.

What’s the most complicated, longest-named order you can make at Starbucks that would result in a single drink?

What the heck, I’ll take a stab at an analysis. Where would the world be without pedantry?


1. IANASBE. I welcome corrections and addenda from the professionals.
2. I will make the totally arbitrary assumption that we’re looking to maximize the number of syllables it takes to order the drink.
3. We’re using the standard lingo that the baristas use. (E.g., no fair saying “decaffeinated” to get three extra syllables.)
4. I’ll limit myself to variations which result in a drink that might be remotely drinkable. One could order seventy-seven pumps of every flavor of syrup they have, but that seems a little excessive.

OK. We’ll start with the cup size — short, tall, grande, or venti. We’ll take “venti” for two syllables, bigger because there’s going to be a lot of stuff in this drink.

There are six boxes on the side of the cup: Decaf, Shots, Syrup, Milk, Custom, and Drink.

1 – Decaf. Sorry guys, to maximize your syllables, you’ll have to drink some decaf. You can increase the syllable count by ordering partial decaf, though. This fits with the next item, which is:
2 – Shots. Seven shots is a lot, but not unreasonable for a venti drink. Eleven shots, for one more syllable, would probably be excessive. I think “seven shots, three shots decaf” would be legal protocol. Nine syllables so far.
3 – Syrup. Lots of different flavors to choose from. Amaretto is probably about the best choice for four syllables. Syrups are measured one pump at a time, and I believe they accept half pumps, so “One and a half pump amaretto” is good for a total of nine more syllables.
4 – Milk. Two percent is the way to go here. You can also specify the temperature, which is good for lots of syllables. Initially I thought this would make all the iced drinks not worth considering, since “hundred and seventy degree” is worth eight syllables. But “Java Chip Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee” is worth twelve. You can’t order “extra foam” on a blended drink, but that still doesn’t quite close the distance. Also, the blended drinks take longer to make, which annoys the people behind you further.
5 – Custom. I confess that I don’t know the full spectrum of choices here. I know you can specify whipped cream or not, extra foam or not (for hot drinks), chocolate, caramel, sprinkles. Let’s get “no whip, extra chocolate, extra sprinkles” for eleven. Almost forgot sweeteners — “seven Nutrasweet” for five more.
6 – Drink. As I said above, “Java Chip Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee” is pretty hard to beat.

So, for a grand total of 49 syllables (and probably about seven bucks), you can get

a venti seven-shot three-shot-decaf one-and-a-half-pump amaretto two percent seven Nutrasweet no whip extra chocolate extra sprinkles java chip frappuccino light blended coffee.

Anything to eat with that? No? Thanks for waiting, and bon appetit.