Monday, April 27, 2020

16 Comics Overdue for an On-Screen Adaptation (and Why)

The below article was written specifically for my application for the position of content creator for Ranker.  If you're a hiring manager, coming to this blog after receiving my resume, welcome! Might I say you look lovely today. :)

In no particular order...
16 Comics Overdue for an On-Screen Adaptation 
(and Why)
American-Born Chinese (by Gene Luen Yang)

What it’s about: This semi-autobiographical account of Gene Luen Yang’s childhood centers around a Chinese-American boy struggling with his identity. It’s a coming-of-age tale that mixes three stories simultaneously to reflect the character’s struggle with resolving his own multi-faceted life.

Why it’s overdue: The themes are timeless, but what really stands out is how this graphic novel incorporates externally experienced racism with internalized racism. It offers a window into the life of a modern-day immigrant and how integrating into a new culture looks and feels.

What would be perfect: One or two seasons of a live-action TV show, which fits nicely with one of the three stories; the “American” viewpoint is presented as a sitcom, complete with laugh track.

The Goon (by Eric Powell)

What it’s about: The Goon is a huge, hulking, ugly mug living in a film noir universe that is populated with zombies. A mob enforcer, he and his plucky sidekick, Frankie, engage in cartoonishly violent fights with sinister characters ranging from undead, flesh-eating preachers to magician-assistant harpies.

Why it’s overdue: The Goon has long had a cult following and a cadre of fans desperate for a movie, but the graphic nature of its content always got in the way. With the success of films like “Deadpool,” that’s no longer a hurdle.

What would be perfect: An animated feature-length film, presented as a violent adult comedy.

Beasts of Burden (by Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson)

What it’s about: The only thing standing between supernatural evil and a quaint suburban town are its pets. A group of dogs (and the occasional cat) investigate and confront ghosts, spirits, and witches in a series that calls to mind a fluffier version of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.

Why it’s overdue: Supernatural shows are in a golden era, with Riverdale, Sabrina, and Stranger Things all capturing people’s attention by making the hairs on the back of their necks stand up. Beasts of Burden gives us spooky feels, but does it with cuddly animals.

What would be perfect: A hand-drawn series on a streaming service, in the style of Disney, but much darker.

Hawkeye (by Matt Fraction)

What it’s about: Hawkeye, of course! But not the one you’re probably familiar with. Clint Barton lives in a New York apartment as a schlubby hero, fighting human bad guys and struggling with issues such as doing his laundry and running out of coffee.

Why it’s overdue: Matt Fraction’s version of Hawkeye is a fully realized character, not the butt of every Avengers joke. He’s the “bow and arrow guy” we know and love, but with relatable human flaws and a wicked sense of humor.

What would be perfect: A live-action show, preferably with Jeremy Renner. Good news! This series is actually in development by Disney. Bad news? It’s not expected for release until 2021.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (by Jhonen Vasquez)

What it’s about: This ultra-violent comic made by the creator of Invader Zim was a look into the life of a homicidal maniac named Johnny. It’s never entirely clear whether his violent murders are a compulsion he has due to a mental deficiency, or whether he’s doing it because he’s forced to by the eldritch horrors lurking just behind the wall in his basement. Either way, Johnny’s gleeful killing sprees were always cathartically and irreverently fun.

Why it’s overdue: The people who grew up reading JTHM are now adults. JTHM was an edgy comic for teens back in the ‘90s. Now grown, it would be exciting to see it adapted for its grown-up fans who have fond memories of trying to hide their copies from Mom.

What would be perfect: A black-and-white, ominously animated web series.

Pride of Baghdad (by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon)

What it’s about: The true tale of the 2003 bombings of Baghdad is told from the point of view of the lions who escaped and roamed the city. It’s a standalone graphic novel depicting war from a viewpoint other than that of the humans, and it’s poignant, sad, and beautifully illustrated.

Why it’s overdue: CGI is now capable of rendering lions worthy of the art of “Pride of Baghdad,” and the Middle Eastern conflict remains in living memory. It should not be forgotten.

What would be perfect: A film for theaters in the realistic CGI styling of Disney’s remake of “The Lion King.”

Fritz the Cat (by Robert Crumb) 

 (Poster from the 1972 movie)

What it’s about: This classic from the ‘60s was an adult comic about a bunch of cartoon animals. The titular Fritz is a wise-cracking, smoking, womanizing jerk who struts about New York solving crimes in the grooviest of eras. Think of it like Austin Powers, but with a cat.

Why it’s overdue: Fritz the Cat was hugely influential in its time, and had a feature-length film in 1972. With adult cartoons being all the rage in the 21st century, and Bojack Horseman’s Meow Meow Fuzzyface being out of work, there’s no reason for a show about a sassy cat detective not to go viral.

What would be perfect: An multi-season animated series on Netflix.

Gambit: King of Thieves (by James Asmus)

What it’s about: Gambit is many people’s favorite member of the X-Men. A card-exploding telekinetic mutant who lives in the Bayou, Gambit was always the cool guy that Cyclops could never hope to be. In “King of Thieves,” Gambit goes on a series of heists that feel like the love child of Indiana Jones and Ocean’s 11.

Why it’s overdue: Gambit’s only appearance was as a supporting character in one of the less popular X-Men films that was centered around Wolverine (X-Men Origins). He never got the screen time or back story he deserved. A Gambit movie was in production and scheduled for a 2020 release, starring Channing Tatum, but that production was halted when Disney and Fox merged.

What would be perfect: A full-length, live-action Marvel feature film.

A Contract with God (by Will Eisner)

What it’s about: A series of vignettes by Will Eisner (of the Eisner awards) and published in 1978 features Jewish immigrants living in turn-of-the-century tenement buildings in New York.

Why it’s overdue: As we enter 2020, it’s a good time to reflect on our past. The roarin’ twenties are here again, and it’s worth a look back to see what life was life was like a hundred years ago.

What would be perfect: A non-fiction movie done in “roto” animation, released to a streaming service online as an original.

Tank Girl (by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewle)

What it’s about: Tank Girl and her friend, a mutant kangaroo, go on various punk- and anarchy-themed adventures in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In the 1995 film, Tank Girl stands up against corrupt government officials who are controlling a scarce water supply.

Why it’s overdue: Tank Girl was an instant cult classic when it was released in 1995, but it was way, way ahead of its time. Let’s reboot it in an era when comic book anti-heroes and post-apocalyptic settings are all the rage!

What would be perfect: A live-action theater-released movie.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (by Ryan North)

What it’s about: The plucky and unbeatable squirrel girl possesses the ability to talk to squirrels. Think that’s not a very useful superpower? Think again! This ongoing series follows Squirrel Girl as a college student who moonlights as a superhero, facing such villains as Galactus and Ratatoskr, the demon-squirrel of Norse legend.

Why it’s overdue: Squirrel Girl has been seen on screen a number of times, but has yet to really make her mark in the Marvel universe. After the intensity of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, fans are in the mood for some palate-cleansing stand-alone pieces that are a little lighter in spirit.

What would be perfect: A CGI animated, theater-released movie, like Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse.

West Coast Avengers (by Kelly Thompson)

What it’s about: They’re not the original. They’re just a tribute. With Clint Barton trying to lead a rag-tag team of quirky, off-brand characters like Kid Omega, Gwenpool, and America Chavez, these hapless heroes blunder around Los Angeles in a loving, tongue-in-cheek homage to their east coast counterparts.

Why it’s overdue: Marvel may be the indisputable champion of live-action superhero movies, but they have often overlooked the fun simplicity of animated comedy. With DC rolling out Harley Quinn, it’s clear there’s a void to fill for this publishing giant.

What would be perfect: An adult animated comedy series, like Harley Quinn.

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat! (by Kate Leth)

What it’s about: Patsy Walker is Hellcat, but her story is less about her being a superhero (or Satan's daughter-in-law) and more about her being a person within a superhero world. It’s an incredible world-building comic set in the Marvel universe. We got one episode of “AKA Hellcat!” in the Netflix series Jessica Jones, plus some cameos in Luke Cage and The Defenders, but there’s enough Patsy Walker content for its own series.

Why it’s overdue: Marvel fans are craving more, and Patsy Walker has the potential to do what Agents of SHIELD was meant to do: flesh out the Marvel world with details the fans are desperate to see.

What would be perfect: A live-action series on Netflix.

Sweet Tooth (by Jeff Lemire)

What it’s about: After the Affliction, humans are born as animal hybrids. These anthropomorphic animals live in a gloomy end-of-the-world situation with a rural backdrop. Gus, a half-human, half-deer, teams up with one of the rare fully human characters to try to help solve the origins of the plague.

Why it’s overdue: People seem like they can’t get enough of anthropomorphic animals exploring humanity (Bojack Horseman and Beaststars being two examples), and that’s “Sweet Tooth” in a nutshell.

What would be perfect: An offbeat animated web series.

Y: The Last Man (by Brian K. Vaughan)

What it’s about: In a post-apocalypse world, all the men have died off from a sudden, bizarre incident in 2002. Only one remains. The series follows Yorick as he navigates a world where he is suddenly the most important and infamous character in it.

Why it’s overdue: Post-apocalyptic settings are always interesting, but this one really stands out because not everyone is dead. Just the men. It’s an exploration of gender roles and expectations, and it’s fantastic at world building.

What would be perfect: A multiple-season, big-budget live action series like AMC's The Walking Dead.

Rat Queens (by Kurtis J. Wiebe)

What it’s about: Four women team up as assassins-for-hire, witches, and general badasses. They roam around a rat-infested town causing trouble, fighting trolls and otherworldly beasts. It’s like a D&D adventure come to life, and we are here for it.

Why it’s overdue: This is a great example of a female-centered comic done right. It’s a team full of Harley Quinns who have great chemistry together, and it’s fun, feminist fantasy that’s easily accessible for anyone to enjoy.

What would be perfect: A CGI online movie, limited theater release.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

No, You Are Not "Entitled to Your Opinion"

Hold on folks, because today's blog post is gonna be a bumpy ride.

I have mostly avoided talking about Covid-19 or the last month-and-a-half we've been quarantined at home, because no one needs more of that.  We're all in this together, right?


It would seem not.

Today, then, I'm going to try to get us all on the same page, and that page is this: GO HOME YOU MOUTH-BREATHING GERM FACTORIES.  GO HOME BEFORE YOU KILL US ALL.

Most people who are sensible, literate, educated, and inclined not to die are taking the precautions recommended to them by the CDC or the National Institute of Health or the now-famous immunologist Dr. Fauci.  Precautions like covering their mouths and noses so that they don't breath germs everywhere, and only going out for essential business, and staying apart from each other to delay the spread of the virus in order to "flatten the curve."  The problem is, we've been a little too effective.

That's not fair, actually.  Unbeknownst to the protestors, they are being manipulated by far-right economic interests, including gun lobbies, to stage these protests.  They are pawns, on the frontlines, and they have no idea.  But that's just my opinion (we'll talk about that in a second), and not what this article is about, so let's move on.

The thing I want to talk about today is the two-pronged phrase: "Well that's just my opinion," and its petty, passive-aggressive cousin, "You're entitled to your opinion."  These are cop-out phrases meaning that we'll all just "agree to disagree," and in a pandemic, they are part of a dangerous, destructive, public healthcare crisis.  We need to shut this shit down.  Now.

First of all, let's separate a "fact" from an "opinion."  A fact is a thing we know is true.  It's been proven with evidence, or it's very easy to observe, or we simply all have conceded to it as such.  An opinion is a view, judgement, interpretation, perception, idea, or belief.   Opinions lack "falsifiability."  They cannot be disproven by fact because they themselves are not fact.  Let's use an example:

1) The sky is blue.  This is a fact that nearly all people can observe.
2) The best color is blue.  This is an opinion.  Blue does happen to be America's favorite color, but you cannot prove or disprove that it's a "good" color.

Real-life example: Recently, on Reddit, someone asked who the best member of the Umbrella Academy is.  Someone who was probably 13 years old and taking a break from screaming at people on X-Box Live, who we will call Jaxxon, stated their opinion that Ben was not the best.  I gave my reasons (also opinions) about why he is.  Jaxxon then responded to about half of my points, seemingly at random and out of order, and said he had "disproved" that Ben was the best.

No, Jaxxon, you little shit.  Neither of us "proved" anything.  We're like two kids arguing over whether blue is the best color or not.  (Mind you, according to most of the world, it is.  And according to the very casual Reddit poll, Ben is the 3rd best.  Suck it, Jaxxon.)

Take a moment here to imagine Jaxxon.
Do you think he has friends?  Why not?
Do you agree Ben is a really cool UA character?  Hint: yes.
Draw Jaxxon crying.)

This Reddit argument, based on opinion, would have been a good time to have used the argument shut-down phrase, "You're entitled to your opinion."  Because saying who is the best in a fictional TV show is totally up to personal interpretation.  This is a great example of an unfalsifiable opinion.  Jaxxon is 100% entitled to his opinion.

So.  Facts can be proven; opinions cannot.  Opinions suffer from a very basic falsifiability logic.

Now, let's consider the "I'm entitled to my opinion" situation.  I've seen people say this after being given indisputable evidence that contradicts their belief in something crazy, like a flat earth, or Big Pharma having some sort of magical all-purpose cancer cure that they're keeping under wraps.

These are not opinions.  They are a sort of anti-fact.  No word that I know of exists in the English language for what they are, but we need one.  It's an untruth, a thing that can be and has been falsified or disproven.

3) The sky is red.

No it's not.  Sure, you could say you saw it red once, perhaps at sunset for a few minutes, or maybe just before a storm.  Perhaps you remember this because it was at night and you're a sailor.  I don't know your life.

Here's a soothing image of sailboats at sunset.
You're doing just fine.
Have some more Malbec.)

But to go around under a blue sky for the rest of your life telling people it's red is simply not true.  It's misinformation.

And this is why "You're entitled to your opinion" as a dismissal during a pandemic is so dangerous.  Because  "agreeing to disagree" or saying people are entitled to their untruths means not correcting misinformation.  It's not only an agreement to disagree.  It's an agreement to be passive in the face of another person who is actively spreading misinformation.  And in a pandemic, misinformation is dangerous.

Others who are smarter than me (or at least, have larger budgets and staff) actually just recently opined on the topic of misinformation, so I won't speak much on that.

However, I will say this.  It's critical that we all come together, not merely to spread good information, but to actively combat misinformation.  We cannot let people be "entitled" to their "opinion," because they aren't entitled, and those aren't opinions.  Those untruths that people are spreading have the potential to kill people.  Not just the people spreading them, but innocents who cannot protect themselves.

Already, we've seen instances where restrictions were lifted and shit got worse.  What we're seeing is domestic bio-terrorism in action, and the worst part is, a lot of people are laughing because the terrorists look dumb, instead of focusing on the innocent lives lost.  If the protestors get any comeuppance, I hope it's the kind that doesn't take out Grandma along with them.  In the meantime, we all need to realize that the actions of a few morons is putting all the rest of us in danger, like a drunk guy waving his dad's cool gun around at a party.

This infograph is meant ironically, fyi.
You cannot "shit out" the coronavirus, no matter how many cans of Miller High Life you drink. 

Here's the problem: people's mental flaws are designed to protect themselves.  People who distrust a massive body of scientific evidence and a ton of experts and a large consensus (2/3rds of average, non-medical-doctored Americans are worried of re-opening the country too early) are like schizophrenics who stop taking their medication because they realize the medication was a mind-control drug.  This isn't a diss on schizophrenics; it's a well-studied phenomenon that affects pretty much everyone.  People resist change; they miscategorize their flaws, misidentify their biases, and romanicize their own toxicity.  Their traumas become their identities, and they are terrified of losing them.  In particular, people who believe in conspiracies tend to self-radicalize.  They have what I call a "Neo complex."  They feel themselves to be like Neo in the Matrix, "The One," the lone hero who is standing up against a massive conspiracy against them.  The problem is, there's no fucking red pill.  Only a blue pill, which is your goddamn medication, Neo, take it, there is no Matrix and you are having an episode.

Lest you think this entire essay is my ranting about people with blinders on without checking my own, let me reassure you that I recently performed an exercise myself.  It would be hypocritical of me to demand that others consider their own opinions without considering my own.  And I have, and I have changed some of my opinions.  All of us have biases, including me.  So I tried to find a coronavirus story that I believed and went through the thought exercise of changing my viewpoint. 

Here it is: the story I want to believe.  Although the CDC currently states that people with asthma are possibly more at-risk for Covid-19, the New York Times reports that only about 5% of Covid-19 fatalities have asthma as a complication.  But here are a few considerations:
  • People with histories of asthma are going to be more reactionary to any hint of a respiratory illness.  They'll see a doctor sooner, and their cases will be taken more seriously.  People with asthma are more likely to get tests, be treated sooner, and be treated more aggressively.  There's a possible "survivor bias" here.
  • They are going to have medications on hand that actively battle respiratory infections, such as rescue inhalers, and long-term inhalers that include steroids or anti-inflammatories.
  • People with a "history" are people who also have a history of medical care for their asthma.  People lacking a diagnosis might be slipping through the cracks and shifting the data.
So maybe the New York Times is wrong.  I want to believe asthma is a non-complicating factor, because I have asthma, and it scares me to think I'm at risk.  But as desperately as I want to believe the shiny new information, I have to step back and say, "Well, the experts at the CDC have not said anything, and I can't throw caution to the wind.  I need to be scared, but more importantly, safe."

The difference here is that asthma is, happily, not something you can transmit to others.  Covid-19 is literally defined by its highly infectious nature.  People who flaunt safely regulations are not merely dangerous to themselves, but to others.  They are literally driving around yelling racist abuse at nurses demanding their right to die and to take others with them, and said nurses are out there protecting them in ways they shouldn't have to.

Why the hell are we, as a country, tolerating this?

I know the arguments.  Oh, I know the arguments!  That it's "free speech," that it's a "Constitutional right."

I love free speech, but guess what?  It has its limits.  And that's not my opinion.  It's a legal, established fact: freedom of speech doesn't extend to instances of "incitement," as determined by several cases that went to the Supreme Court.

So, no, those protesters are not entitled to their opinion so long as it falls into the "incitement" category (which it does).  Their "opinion" extends far, far beyond them, unlike the conspiracies they believe, and those "opinions" need shut down.  In light of a massive national disaster, we need to come together as we have previously.  My partner has said, "I wish people could direct these energies into supporting neighbors and taking pride in sacrifice in the name of country.  If WWII were today, I seriously doubt our national character would meet the challenge."  

Take a moment here to imagine trying to explain to Steve Rogers the anti-vaxx movement.
What are its flaws?  What are its other flaws?
Does it have any strengths?  Hint: no.
Draw Captain America crying.)

And one of my close friends, who is a meteorologist, says that in the case of a weather disaster, such as a tornado, "We want all messages to continue to be unified because people in general will check multiple sources they trust before they take action; and that takes minutes they could be using to take cover." 

I believe it is a national duty to correct misinformation rapidly when exposed to it.  Saying people are "entitled to their opinions" is allowing that misinformation to propagate.  Their opinions are not opinions, but anti-truths, and their entitlement is unearned.  In this country, we have rights, and privileges.  By putting others in danger with their reckless actions, they have violated a social contract, and they are not longer "entitled" to some of the privileges they think they are, like being absolute fucking morons.  Because with great power comes great responsibility, and these people are not being responsible, or logical.  They are breaking a social contract.

Next time someone says they're entitled to their opinion, tell them they goddamn aren't.  Not until their opinion goes back to being benign.  So long as someone's "opinion" leads them to terrorist action, it's not one we should tolerate in our country, because that's not what our country stands for.

Monday, April 13, 2020

15 Pasta Shapes, Ranked

Here’s a fun fact about the word “quarantine:” it comes from the Italian word, “quarantinza,” meaning “forty days.” In the midst of the 14th century Black Death plague, ships were docked for 40 days before allowing the goods and sailors to come onto land, in an effort to contain potential contamination vectors.

We’ve been in quarantine for almost 40 days now, but there’s no end in sight yet. So, in the spirit of the Italian “quarantine,” I have decided to make a post rating pasta shapes.

Dry pasta is a great food item to have in these times, since it’s cheap, easy to make, stores well, and is relatively versatile. I’ve been eating a lot of it lately and since my Quarantine Madness™ has set in, this seemed like a fantastic use of my time and writing skills. Without further ado...

(Pasta Shapes Ranked from Worst to Best)


Manicotti - #15

The bastard son of cannelloni and “shells.” A gross tube stuffed with crap. Like a large model of what your arteries would look like after eating it. It’s like an undercooked burrito and it’s horrible. The pasta is barely even present. You’re just choking down a pile of soft cheese and calling it “pasta” because there’s some manicotti floating wetly around the bottom of the casserole dish. This shit is awful.

Conchiglie - #14

“Shells.” I hate shells. The bigger the shell, the grosser the pasta, and there’s a reason for this. The reason is that “shells” are designed to entrap sauce, but if you graph the surface area increase to the volumetric increase, you’ll see that the volumetric increase FAR OUTSTRIPS the surface area. This leads to the “manicotti problem:” blobs of sauce or cheese with little to no pasta involved.  The starch:sauce ratio is a delicate one and shells are poorly designed to get it right.
This graph is for a blobby cell-shape, a sphere or ovoid similar to a shell. 
Shell pasta has even less starting surface area, since they aren't entirely enclosed, 
so the intersection of the surface area and volume slopes occurs sooner.

Small shells are acceptable, though if too small, they end up having the reverse problem: there’s a wad of chewy pasta starch with not enough sauce.  On the graph above, you want to find the sweet spot where the surface area and volume are roughly equal.  Most shells fail abysmally at finding this sweet spot, and I'd rather not have my meals complicated by math, anyway.

Cannelloni, calamarata - #13

Straight tubes. The only difference is length; calamarata is shorter than cannelloni. Slippery, boring, and shapeless, these pastas are unimaginatively terrible for conveying to your mouth with a fork. (I give a pass to ditalini, which are the tiny version used in minestrone.)

I include elbow macaroni in this category, by the way.  The gentle bend in the tube doesn't make it less of a tube.  It's still a tube and it's still one of the worst shapes because of their slipperiness and general sadness, and inexplicably popular. A cheap and common pasta shape. If elbow macaroni were a person, it would have a YouTube channel with a million followers, most of whom were bots and 12-year-olds, and its channel would consist entirely of “It’s just a prank, bro” videos and titles like “CALLED MY EX’S MOM AT 3 AM (GONE WRONG!) (SEXY!)”

Now, about ziti. Ziti is a tube and most ziti has striations. I don’t like ziti because it’s too big. Smaller, striated tubes, or tubes with pointy ends, like penne, are reviewed later in this post. But “ziti” is too manicotti-ish for my liking, so striated or not, it’s getting lumped in with the cannelloni and calamarata.

Tagliatelle, fettuccine - #12

 Pictured: pad see ew, which we'll get to in a sec.

Like spaghetti, fettuccine is a one-note pasta. (Note: linguine means “little tongues” in Italian. Gross. No thank you.) Fettuccine noodles have potential, but they always seem to be used for the same dish. You order fettuccine and you’re getting a creamy Alfredo sauce, every time. Also, it tends to stick and clump together, making leftovers into a pasta-blob nightmare that no one wants to eat.

This post is about Italian pasta, but I want to give a shout-out to pad see ew, a Thai dish which uses flat tagliatelle-like noodles in the best way possible.

Farfalle - #11 

“Bowtie” pasta. Not a bad shape, considered its ruffled flairs and the ease with which one can spear it onto a fork, but often overly-slippery due to the flatness.

This might just be an anecdotal observation not based in fact, but I have a notion that "bowtie" is the pasta most likely to be dyed a stupid color, as seen above.  Pasta should, in my opinion, be Italian-colored: greenish, whitish, or reddish.  Any other color is incorrect.

Also, I think I have a personal bad association with this particular type. I closely associate bow-tie with buttered noodles and Kraft parmesan, a phone-in meal my mom made on nights when she was tired, and I think that association has ruined bow-tie for me.

Ditto “wagon wheels.” In general, I guess I just don’t like pastas with English non-food names.

A pass is given to “dinosaur” pasta, however.  For obvious reasons.


Spaghetti, capellini #10 

Frustratingly variable in length, these are basic bitch noodles. Spaghetti, as previously discussed, has the problem of being a one-note pasta shape associated with a single sauce, marinara. This isn’t spaghetti’s fault but, nonetheless, it bumps spaghetti down on the list.

On the other hand, spaghetti escaped "shit-tier" placement because of its meme-worthiness and its cultural necessity in films about the mob and/or dogs who are in love.

"Capellini” is basically just very fine spaghetti, and it's more commonly known in English as “angel’s hair,” a thoroughly unappetizing name.

Penne, rigatoni - #9 

The slightly better version of macaroni, but only slightly, due to the striations along the outside. The striations allow for better sauce adhesion and also make the pasta a little easier to get onto a fork.

Bucatini - #8

Speaking of tube pastas… it’s spaghetti... with a hole! This is the only “tube” pasta that makes sense. Also it’s sea-turtle friendly. Bucatini is a big improvement on spaghetti and I wish I saw more of it.

Orecchiaetti - #7 

Flattened shells resembling ears. “Little ear” sounds gross but I can excuse it for solving the “shell” problem; the open design of these semi-shells ensures no clumping up of cheese or sauce, and offers a relatively uniform distribution in each bite.

Let the record show that this is officially the point in this article wherein I have gotten hungry.

Campanelle - #6 

This pasta has ruffled edges folded into a cone to create a tubish interior. A lovely flower-like shape. My only complaint is that it very vaguely looks like labia to me.

HONORABLE MENTION to the mid-tier list: radiatore.  This pasta occupies an awkward place between "small shell" and "orecchiaetti."  Had I thought of it at all, I suppose it might have taken spot #8 or #9.  I was not originally included in this list.  When Andrew discovered his favorite pasta shape wasn't included at all, he demanded I rank it, and then grew outraged that I compared it to a small shell, where the starch:sauce ratio is potentially too large, and that, at its best, it's only a mid-tier pasta, ranking below ravioli.

After a brusque argument, he has written his own counter-article on pasta shapes, titled "Radiatori: The Best Pasta Shape, Fuck You Tony."


Pansotti, tortellini, ravioli - #5 

These stuffed pastas are OK due to solving the volume-to-surface ratio, simply by being smaller. Having irregular shapes (ravioli had ruffled, wavy edges) bumps them up on the list by adding texture. They are also pretty versatile; ravioli comes in a huge variety of flavors. If you go to a restaurant and order spaghetti, you’re getting marinara sauce. But if you go to a restaurant to order ravioli, you’ll have to define what type: mushroom, beef, buttersquash, spinach, cheese. The list goes on and on. Ravioli also gets a special acknowledgement as the  second most meme-worthy of the pasta shapes, after spaghetti.

Casarecce - #4 

This is a scroll-like shape. In my notes, I wrote, “better than eggshell.” I don’t know what that means, but clearly, it means something.  I was probably drunk when I wrote my pasta notes (and conceived of this idiotic article in the first place.)

I wish this shape were used for Mac n’ Cheese, honestly. (“Cas n’ Cheese?”)

Strozzapreti is another scroll-shape, but with the widths bent in opposite directions, like an "S."  The name is Italian for “priest-strangler,” making it the most badass of the pastas on this list.

Cavatappi - #3 

A hollow, cork-screwed pasta and one of my personal favorites. Some are smooth. I prefer the tubes with ruffles, the Frankenstein hybrids that are half-cavatappi and half-rotini. Corkscrewing pasta is superior to other shapes because it doesn’t clump, evenly distributes sauce, and is decidedly easy to consume using a fork. Also, it’s easier to measure out, because the rigid, uncooked corkscrews take up more space, giving you a better sense of how much you’re making as you pour.

Gemelli - #2 

This under-rated shape is a twisty-stick helix that looks a bit like rope. What can I say except that it’s fun? It’s got a great texture and attractive look, and it has just enough weight to give you a full bite of pasta without blobbing up like fettuccine.

Fusilli - #1 

My favorite pasta, this is a cork-screwed, delicately ruffled noodle (like cavatappi), but not hollow. It has all the strengths I expect in a pasta shape, and I knew from the beginning it was going to come out on top.

The fusili above is not in the cork-screw shape I most prefer, but even without the corkscrew, I like the ruffles.  Look at how fancy this pasta is!  He's going to have a nice time at the ball.  :)

Congratulations, fusilli, on your well-deserved win. I can’t wait to stop eating you. I can't wait for quarantine to end, for grocery stores to go back to normal, for this whole mess just to be over with.  Except that deep down, I know it won't go back to normal any time soon.  Maybe never.  But it's easier to write about pasta than it is to write about the pandemic, so here is where we find ourselves in these frightening, uncertain times, where the only thing we know for sure is that manicotti, like Covid-19, can go fuck itself.

May the pasta-gods have mercy on our souls.