In 1992 the human race survived the release of Right Said Fred's single "I'm too Sexy." Millions of people the world over were seized with inexplicable compulsions to dance to and sing the lyrics of a cut-rate Narcissus. Then, just four years after that near-genocide, we were placed in a death grip of unquestionable force by the Spice Girls' "If you want to be my lover," and then again later by Eiffel 65's "Blue." Our species has survived troubling times, and the world will continue to face frustration after frustration until we figure out what keeps mucking up the human condition and how we can save ourselves.
Identifying the collective handicapping flaw that continually debilitates our planet was not easy. I had to ask myself, "What is it that has infiltrated the souls of millions and corrupted our sense of being?" After 20 minutes I deduced conclusively that the scourge of the 20th century is undoubtedly General Tso's Chicken.
Who was General Tso? Why did he get his own dish? Did he mangle his enemies to the point that they were unrecognizably human and then deep-fry them with hot peppers? Do all war heroes get a chicken dish (see the Colonel at KFC)? And lastly, what is it about that dish that blinds our hearts, deafens our ears, sells O-Town records and keeps us in continual frustration?
These questions are just some of the tens of thousands of questions in a puzzle of confusion that keeps us wound-up and unfocused on saving the world from damnation and MSG.
Perhaps it was foolhardy, nay, imprudent to find out what General Tso's Chicken was all about, but as a journalist with the best intentions of seeing mankind triumph once again over the perils of evil, I took my investigation to the streets.
At a restaurant known to many, I jumped up on the counter and demanded that for humanity's sake, I be allowed a tour of the facilities and shown the process by which chicken is generally Tso'd. I was on a mission to unfrustrate the masses and expose the truth behind this cuisine of misfortune.
It was another crowning moment in my undergraduate experience, and looking back, I probably shouldn't have jumped into the rice machine and started lathering my body with soy sauce. I was so close to understanding the mystery that I could almost taste it
but alas, I was summarily taken out of the rice machine, beaten up in a back alley and told not to come back.
It was frustrating to say the least. I was bloody, dirty, covered in rice and soy sauce and barred from another fine eatery here in Ithaca. Fortunately I had a ticket to the Cake concert and ran over to see the show.
Once inside, I pushed my way through the crowd so I was easily 15 feet from the stage. The lights were on and from what I gathered from the conversations around me, Rahzel had just finished a 45-minute set of warming up his voice. I had a perfect position to see Cake, and then, as soon as the house lights went down, the token tall guy found his way to the stage and planted himself in front of me.
"This is the final brick in a wall of frustration that me and my kind aren't going to take today! I'm not going to let you just trample all over me!" I yelled and pounded my fists on my chest. "Why is it that the tallest guys who can see over everyone have to go all the way to the front, didn't you learn anything from picture day? I could be ice-skating for the homeless right now, but no! I've decided that this is where I want to be and what I want to be doing, and you're not going to stand in my way!" I continued.
Unfortunately, Cake was playing a loud guitar rift, and Paul Bunyan's ears were so fixated on the lead singer's gut-wrenching love ballad about the importance of sheep in heaven that he didn't notice me being cranky. Luckily though, my ranting had tapped into some of mankind's saving characteristics; our nature to band together in times of frustration and our tendency to be violent.
When the lights went back on Mount Saint Human turned around to find hundreds of angry concert goers behind him, approaching menacingly like the Brothers Karamazov in Fyodor Dostoevsky's patricide novel. His eyes showed no fear, and he clenched his fists in preparation to end a few lives and maybe get in a fight.
The horde of angry music lovers growled and mumbled incoherently as only an angry mob can. The smaller concert goers stared at him, trying to pierce through his skull with looks of aggravation. Another group of concert goers wearing all-cotton tunics who thought that they were actually going to a Star Wars convention, stared at him and withdrew their plastic lightsabers. The sides were drawn, and as the low hum of imminent battle shook the floor, I looked at the man.
"Don't worry," I said as I punched my own fists together in an effort to look tough, "if we win, you'll be short enough not to be made fun of
and if you win
maybe you'll get a chicken dish named after you."