Monthly Archives: April 2009

It’s A Kind Of Magic

I know that I’ve geeked out about movie trailers on this blog before. Post But that was about the general concept of trailers not just one trailer specifically.   Anyway, I just saw one today that I need to freak about.  I’ve been a bit of a Harry Potter dork since the beginning of the franchise.  I’d read all the books (a couple of times), eaten all the nasty Bertie Bott’s jelly bean tie-in candy, and purchased a Gryffindor scarf (the school that the Internet says I’d belong to if I actually attended Hogwarts–a girl can dream–and skive at work) from the Warner Brothers shop in Glasgow.  Weirdly though, I’d sort of started drifting away from my loyalty to Hogwarts and all things Harry Potter.  I’d even been merely skimming the behind-the-scenes articles in both Empire and Total Film.  I’ve just been consumed with other nerdish obsessions, like Kristen Wiig sketches on SNL.  But, with one scorchingly awesome 2 minute trailer, school is back in session, witches.

81.  The Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Trailer

There are actually three or four trailers for the film out but this one is the winner by far.

Watch it first and then let’s nerd-splode over it together, shall we?

That John Williams score– woo wee.  Like so many of his other iconic compositions (Superman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones), “Hedwig’s Theme” sends you to the zone within the first few notes.

Look at those craggy shores at the start of the trailer and those majestic castles and Ginny Weasley.  Such sights for sore eyes.  And the actors, they’ve all grown up so handsome…sniff…

I also dig the sneak peek at what the chaos of magic entering the Muggle world is going to look like.  Collision!

But perhaps the best thing about this trailer is how it teases us with the promise of good quality Snape time in this film.  Snape and Remus Lupin were my favorite characters in the books and Alan Rickman is fricking perfect (I’m not convinced that they couldn’t have cast Lupin better than Thewlis, however.)  Please oh please let this film be chock full of dialogue that I can try my best to intone in a molasses-drenched Snape fashion.  Things like “people will think you’re…UP to something”.  Here’s a handy collection of Rickman on Snape quotables I found online:  Snape Says

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If only...

At any rate, this trailer definitley passes the goosebump test.  My arm hair was at attention.

I think I might need to host a Potter-a-thon before this comes out.  I’m going to whip myself up into a right frenzy.

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You Got Awesomeness in My Deliciousness

Now that I eat Cadbury’s chocolate on a regular basis, I’m in a better position to comment on something that I kind of understood before I moved to the UK.  Hershey’s chocolate isn’t great.  Let it be confirmed.  On a standard gas-station candy bar grab, the Brits are going to win hands down.  Even their Kit Kats have better chocolate coating the wafers than our Kit Kats.  It’s not that you can’t find good chocolate in The States–we have local chocolatiers and higher end sweets available…it’s just that British chocolate has better BASIC standards.  The same rationale lies with the cheese comparison.  What’s an American standard?  A Kraft slice?  Take that vs a standard mature English cheddar. The Brits win hands down.  We might make award winning boutique chocolates and cheeses but you aren’t going to find them at a 7-Eleven.  Whereas you could buy a decent bar of chocolate at a corner shop over here.  It’s called a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

But, in our defense, the US is still tops when it comes to the world’s best flavor combinations (buffalo wing pizza and maple syrup and bacon for two delicious examples).  Now, a British candy bar might give you a toffee filling (not bad), or a nut and raisin filling (does what it says on the tin) or a vanilla fudge filling (chalky and boring)–but, thanks to today’s great thing, we can never be bested.

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Damn Straight.

80.  Reeses

America might still be terrified of the gays getting married, but we care a nation that can ALL stand behind the blessed union of chocolate and peanut butter.  In fact, I might try to sell my girlfriend on the idea of a choco-peanut butter wedding cake for our big gay wedding.

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I do. I totally do.

Almost as famous for their memorable ad campaigns (previous slogans include “You’ve got chocolate in my peanut butter!  You’ve got peanut butter in my chocolate!” and “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s”, Reese’s was the brainchild of Harry Burnett Reese.  Harry was a dairy farmer from Frosty Hill, Pennsylvania.  He eventually sold his properties–including Reese’s Pieces (which are also blog-worthy)– on to Hershey’s (in 1963).

Though you can experience similar euphoria simply by dipping a block of milk chocolate into a jar of Jif or Skippy peanut butter, Reese’s pb filling has a certain grainy and candied consistency that isn’t easy to substitute.  I think it has something to do with the artery-drying levels of salt that they inject into the normally quite oily peanut butter.  That’s something that this heroic snack-pimper found out when he made his own giant Reese’s peanut butter cup.  Worth a look here–  Giant Reese’s

That gorgeous giant Reese’s was actually made by a British cup-fan, which is strange because they aren’t as popular over here as they are in The States.  They’re considered a novelty that you either love or you hate.  Peanut butter in general is underused as a dessert option in The British Isles.  They even had to change the candy trail in E.T. from Reese’s Pieces (in the Yankee version) to M & Ms in the Brit version so they would know what the heck the little alien was going on about.  The UK imports select Ben & Jerry’s flavors and went with Cherry Garcia INSTEAD of Peanut Butter Cup.  Wha?  I don’t know why they embrace Marmite (see Twiglets) and shun peanut butter.  Peanut butter is magical.  Heck, it’s the ONLY thing that can make a vegan dessert REMOTELY tolerable.

Come on Britain.  Even a camp-raiding bear knows where the goods are.

Sigh…you always want what you can’t have.  Oh George Washington Carver, how I miss you!

Though there are several variations on the theme, including the addition of caramel to the peanut butter and a hazel-nut whip incarnation, the only reason to part from the original Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is if you wish to engage in the holiday specials.  Basically, they’re just bigger and fatter…and possibly in the shape of a Christmas tree or something.

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Pinenut Butter Cup

For further adventures in chocolate and peanut butter, check out this glorious website.  chocolate and peanut butter gallery I like the looks of the devil’s foodcake peanut butter-filled Twinkies and the chocolate peanut butter martini…  Two things that can help me on my way to being a fat drunk.  Thanks Internet!

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The Best Song You’ll Ever Hear About A Toxic Plant

Over the Easter break (four day weekend…Thank You Jesus!), I farted around on Itunes for a good  four hour stretch.  I rarely listen to the radio, so I was scoping out some new tunage for my Ipod.  I found a few good newbies to sate my short attention span.  I also uncovered a song that I had temporarily forgotten about.
79. Tony Joe White’s Polk Salad Annie

I do owe some of my musical taste to my Mom.  You live with someone for 18 years and some stuff is bound to rub off on you.  Though, these days, it’s usually me trying to expose my Mom to cool music.  She flips back and forth between VH1 Country and CMT all the live long day, hypnotized by the likes of Shania Twain and Toby Keith.  Terrible.  When I visit, I try to help her by foisting some Ditty Bops and Rufus Wainwright on her.  Things weren’t always this dire though.  Like I said, I owe some of my discriminating palate to her good record collection.  When I was growing up, she’d spin some pretty rad vinyl.  I twirled around my living room to Abba, Earth Wind and Fire, Buffy Sainte-Marie, The Hollies, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and Sly and the Family Stone.  Niiiccce.   Besides those heavy hitting LPs, two of her absolute favorite tracks were Loudon Wainwright III’s “Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road” and today’s great thing, Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie”.

I remember buying it for her on 45 for one Mother’s Day.   (I had found it at a record store at the mall).  She’d been talking it up for the better part of a year and didn’t have her old copy around any more.I felt like such a hero–A. for paying attention to things she talked about and B. for having an eagle eye at the ‘discontinued’ bins.

“Polk Salad Annie” is an ode to a southern girl who dines on the weed Pokeweed.  She’s portrayed as a typical–maybe a bit underprivileged–Louisiana gal that eats the spinach-like greens of the pokeweed and gets chased around by gators and has a mean mother…and other Southern Gothic type stuff.  It’s a cool song.  Not cool to that you should actually eat pokeweed though.  Containing both phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin, the plant is as poisonous as Fox News.

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Leave it, lady!

Here are the effects of the herb on humans (as lifted from Wikipedia):

“The eating of limited quantities of poke, perhaps of the shoots, may cause retching or vomiting after two hours or more. These signs may be followed by dyspnea, perspiration, spasms, severe purging, prostration, tremors, watery diarrhea and vomiting (sometimes bloody) and, sometimes, convulsions. In severe poisonings, symptoms are weakness, excessive yawning, slowed breathing, fast heartbeat, dizziness, and possibly seizures, coma and death.”

Rock music..always trying to get you to do drugs or eat pokeweed.

But hey, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.  Am I right?  Here’s what the stuff looks like when it’s pre-packaged.  (It’s prepared by thrice-boiling the stuff in an attempt to strip it of its toxicity). Get down to your local Piggly Wiggly and pick some up today!

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Salet?

Tony Joe penned this song in 1969 and it was a bit of a slow burn to say the least.  It took several months for it to chart but fans were persistent and the popularity grew.  Or, as Tony Joe puts it: “They had done given up on it, but we kept getting all these people in Texas coming to the clubs and buying the record. So we would send up to Nashville saying, ‘Send us a thousand more this week.’

Tony Joe White may not be known in the majority of households across the U.S. but that just serves to elevate his legend-material mystique if you ask me.  He’s been around a long time and his contributions are many.  Lots of big names made a buck off of his tracks.  Here’s a recent interview with Pure Music: Interview

This guy is rad.  Check out the big chops!

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Red leather pants!

Look at this pic!  He’s like a combination of that idiot from “Once” and Wolverine!

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I'm the best there is at what I do. Play you a song, Bub?

Now, enough fashion admiring–here’s that song.  This clip is from some Swedish program and it’s got some weird psychedelia going on with the lights, but whatever.  You get the gist:

White also wrote “Rainy Night in Georgia” which Brooke Benton crooned into popularity and  “Steamy Windows” which was popularized by Tina Turner in the cheesy guitar portion of the early 90’s.  Benton and Turner are in good company as his songs have been recorded by over 60 artists including the likes of Chet Atkins, Etta James, Emmylou Harris, and Joe Cocker.

The French labeled him The Swamp Fox–which is a pretty rad nickname.  It’s apt as well as the genre of music that he helped to define is known as “Swamp Rock”.  Credence Clearwater Revival are another example of purveyors of this cajun sty-lee of music.

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Bringing The Swamp To A Town Near You!

He’s currently playing the shit out of Australia, but check out his webpage to see if he might be coming at you soon.

Tony Joe White

Now, just as an added treat for my homo homies…here’s Elvis’ version of the song.  It’s not as good (no disrespect to the king) but I AM including it because it contains the shocking vision of Presley deep-throating a microphone.  Check it at about 1:50

Just a final thought here…could you plan a meal with food references from songs that you dig?  Here’s my stab at a good menu:

Appetizer–Polk Salad

Main Course-I Am A Pizza (Peter Alsop)

Dessert–Cake (B-52’s)

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Io-MWAH!

Just when I felt completely spent from my last entry (an ode to Julie Brown), along comes a national news item so very very great that I am forced to celebrate the existence of a place that I never even dreamt I’d drive across …not even in order to get to a better place.
78. The State of Iowa

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That’s right–Iowa!  My admittedly ignorant opinion about Iowa was previously based on assumptions I had about their corn-fed-white-bread constituency.  I mean, we’re talking real heartland-breadbasket-Midwest territory here.  Naturally, as an  east coast liberal and current ex-pat, I thought that I could close my mind to any hope of progressive change coming from Iowa–or anywhere East of New Mexico or West of Pennyslvania for that matter.    I just sort of lumped Iowa in with places like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and other such shit-bergs.

Here’s a guy on youtube articulating almost word for word what is going on in my head (without the cymbal-clapping chimpanzee in my brain that normally overwhelms my thought process):

Well colour me dumbfounded! But what has Iowa gone and done but legalized gay marriage?!  Never in a million years would I have predicted that in the late 2000 and noughts that California would repeal it’s gay marriage rights and Iowa would institute their own.  But, reading up, I now understand that not only is Iowa the food capital of America and that its economy, population, and landscape are incredibly diverse but that it has often been a trailblazer in regards to civil rights.  In 1868, Iowa discarded the notion of separate but equal.  They also ruled against segregation in public places 91 years before The Supreme Court came to that ‘no-duh’ conclusion.  Furthermore, Iowa was the first state in the Union to permit women to practice law.  Consider me schooled!

Now, not only is Iowa only the 3rd state in the Union to allow same-sex marriage but the ruling was a unanimous one.  UNANIMOUS!  Is there any better word when it comes to decisions regarding civil liberties?

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Kickass State Motto

What else can I say about Iowa?  Well, it’s one of the safest states to live (unless you’re allergic to corn).  More than just harvesting niblets to stuff inJolly Green Giant tins,  its major industries include biotechnology and green energy production.   I think I’m in love.  Oh, and get this–its population is both literate and well-educated. Governed by democrat Chet Culver, it has the 3rd highest high-school graduation rate in the nation  Totally better than that hunk of shit Nebraska!  Or that waster Montana.

Iowa, named after the Native American Ioway peoples, is also home to the driftless zone which sounds like a place that the Fantastic Four would travel to.  In reality, the driftless zone is a Paleozoic plateau featuring deeply carved rivers and a lack of glacial ‘drift’.  Reed is such a douche.  He’s always picking the vacation destinations.

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To Iowa!

This all sounds great, you might be thinking to yourself.  The corn, the fresh air, the civil rights, the lack of glacial drift–but what about Nobel prize winners?  I only like to visit locations that have birthed winners of this international award.  Well you’re in luck, because Iowa’s home to three of them including Norman Borlaug–a humanitarian and agronomist.

Other children of the corn include:

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Funny lady-Cloris Leachman

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Big band leader- Glenn Miller

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Hard as nails cow-actor-John Wayne

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Sensible advice columnist-Ann Landers

Well, there you have it–my ode to Iowa.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour as much as I have.  I can’t wait to go there now.  No seriously, I might–now that I know a little more about it…I mean not for a whole week or anything but I might go canoeing on the river for a day or two the next time I plan on some inter-state travel back home.  What?  It could happen!  Doubters.

In closing, here’s a fun little ode to Iowa that I found on Youtube.

Thanks Iowa!  You totally did us homos a solid!

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