Brunching Rates A+

10 April 2003

By Stentor Danielson
Scarlet Staff

"It's my love song, and it's a quantum physics love song. Of sorts."

If you caught this line in the Scarlet personals last week, then you’ve already experienced a little taste of The Brunching Shuttlecocks. The quote is part of "The Björk Song," a token of Shuttlecocks proprietor Lore Fitzgerald Sjöberg's love for the umlauted (ümläëtëd?) pop star. Located at, the Brunching Shuttlecocks is a sort-of-weekly humor site written and illustrated by Sjöberg, Dave Neilsen, and the mysterious Self-Made Critic.

Brunching's offerings are divided into several categories -- The Ratings, Toys, Features, Bandwidth Theater, and the Self-Made Critic. The Ratings are, in my expert opinion, the site’s highlight. Sjöberg picks a category -- Deadly Sins, Apes and Monkeys, or Japanese Snack Foods, for example -- and gives a grade to five or so items in that category. But it’s his commentary justifying the grade that's really outstanding. Here’s what he had to say about "Oops, All Berries" Cap'n Crunch:

"I guess it's supposed to be charming to pretend that this cereal was invented by accident, like potato chips, penicillin, and the Church of Latter-Day Saints, but frankly the lack of quality control over on Crunchberry Island is a little disquieting. Who's to say that the next box won't be labelled "Gosh Darn It! Discarded Turkey Parts"? Commercial fantasias aside, though, they're pretty darn yummy. In the long run, you really need the Cap’n Crunch to balance your ch'i, but as an occasional distraction it's pretty good. B+" And if you just can't get enough of The Ratings, pop on over to your favorite online book shop and place an order for The Book of Ratings, a dead-trees collection of Sjöberg’s best work featuring some new material.

The Toys -- litle CGI nuggets -- have probably brought the Brunching Shuttlecocks the most attention. Some years ago Newsweek featured the Alanis Morisette Lyric Generator, which gives you an authentic-sounding Alanis song based on the topics you suggest. I'll be honest -- I'm not that impressed with this one. Your web time will be better spent at some of the other toys, like Roshambo Rampage. Roshambo Rampage allows you to play Rock, Paper, Scissors through email. This is what computers were invented for.

The Self-Made Critic is a neurotic moviegoer who reviews the latest films. Of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, he says "Even great actors can't do anything with Dick and Jane go to Naboo." His editor sometimes has to pop in to restrain him, and even the credits get funny-fied (Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd ... and a bunch of other guys who aren't named Viggo and therefore, simply don't matter).

Bandwidth Theater is Brunching’s showcase of multimedia fun. You get introduced to characters like General Charlie's Chicken (a resident of the Island of Misfit Chinese Food), a Transformer who turns into a pretzel cart, and a ninja massage therapist. As an added bonus, each movie contains an "Easter egg" -- a secret spot to click for extra fun. Here's a giveaway to get you started: in the "Kitchen Floor" clip, click on the depleted uranium beholder statue.

Features are various humorous essays and other doodads. It was a feature -- "Billy and God" -- that first broght me to Brunching. The two friends head over to the big tree by Old Man Riordan's Pond. But Old Man Riordan isn’t too pleased to find them there: "Hey!" he shouted! "No kids in the tree! And no Judeo-Christian deities, either!" But it turns out that Old Man Riordan isn't so mean after all. He rescues them after they fall in his pond, and Billy introduces them: "My name's Billy, and this is God," said Billy. "He made the world from void and nothingness, but I'm better at marbles. We're sorry we climbed your tree."

Full disclosure: I'm a part of the Brunching community. Lore (I get to call him "Lore") is kind to those who have helped him with the site. So he instituted the Order of the Individual Cereal Unit (OICU) as an honorary society for those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to promote Brunching. Members of the OICU get classy titles like Lady Cheerio, Contessa Choculum, Baron Von Fruit Loop, and Marquis d'Weetabique.

A couple years ago, I nominated Lore for president, on the Brunching Party ticket. His campaign website ( included a theme song, a campaign platform culled from past Brunching features, and a "Lore-igami”" paper folding project. Our unwitting candidate didn't get any votes, but he did name me Lord Smack. So not only are the Brunching Shuttlecocks funny, but they're amenable to sucking up.

Brunching has spawned a large fan community, spanning two discussion boards (one of which I am co-administrator of) and an IRC channel. Brunching fans express their love by doing their own Ratings, offering Lore sexual favors, and patiently checking the site even though updates tend to be sporadic these days.

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