Friday, October 29, 2010

Sugared Cinema: The Shining (1980)


Wendy?  Darling?  Light, of my life.  I'm not gonna hurt ya.  You didn't let me finish my sentence.  I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya.  I'm just going to bash your brains in.

Let me get something straight:  I'm not above cake mixes.  I'm all for cutting corners as long as the end result isn't compromised.  When you've got a maniacal husband on your ass, creepy twins in the hallway and a deluge of blood to wade through in the lobby, sometimes you just want to bake, eat and GTFO.

(Mom, a quick translation:  GTFO = Get the F Out)

The original plan was to make (Red)Rum Cake.  The recipe called for boxed cake mix and boxed pudding and the reviews were pretty positive overall.  So, I made it.  And it was...boring.  Paint drying.  Grass growing.  Yanni headlining a New Year's Eve party in Time's Square.  Total snoozefest.

That being said, I'm going to have to file this one under "Avoid Like the Bubonic" and hope for a happier ending next week.  Sorry guys.  If anyone needs new insoles for their shoes or a small pillow for their kitten, I have plenty of leftover cake.

Have a safe, spooky Halloween weekend, everyone.

All work and no play makes you a dull dude/girl.  All work and no play makes you a dull dude/girl.  All work and no play makes you a dull dude/girl.  All work and no play makes you a dull dude/girl.

2007.  Berry White's scariest costume to date.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mischief Managed.

It started like any other morning.

Berry White and I got ready at the hotel, stopped at Super Target to replenish our dental hygiene products (which were still on our bathroom sink back in VA) and to buy him some new socks (the ones he was wearing were bunching at the heel.)  After a quick, classy toothbrushing session in the parking lot, we headed over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

(Got a little picture happy on this trip.  Just a heads up.)  

Remember that giddy, pee-your-Osh-Kosh-B'gosh-corduroy-jumper feeling you got as a child when you walked into Disneyland or the circus or Toys 'r Us on your birthday?

Yep.


Can I interest any of you in a cheeseball?




Welcome to Hogsmeade, HP heads.

"Snow-topped" roofs with crooked chimneys, intricately decorated store fronts, cool signage, carts selling butterbeer and pumpkin juice, Harry's Wondrous World playing in the streets.  You don't know where to look, what to do, where to begin.








In case you need to deposit some galleons into your vault.



Oh Padfoot.



Hermione's Yule Ball dress.  Tiny little thang.


If you've had too many butterbeers:


Listen for Moaning Myrtle while you're in there.  She's quite chatty.

Towards the end of the village, we caught a performance by the Frog Choir.  




I didn't tell Mike at the time but my eyes got a little dewy during their performance of Hedwig's Theme.  I'm so ashamed.

We made our way out of the village and up the hill...and there it was.  Off in the distance.  Sparkling like a majestic sandcastle in the sky.


Hogwarts.

I wasn't sure what to expect prior to arriving at the park.  The castle was the part I was looking forward to most and I was worried that it was going to be a scaled down version.  Like, great on the front of a postcard but lacking grandeur in person.


It wasn't scaled down at all.  It was beautiful.


There was a 90-minute wait to get into the castle for The Forbidden Journey, which we were cool with.  Both of us were eager to take pics and didn't want to rush the experience.  We figured it would be wise to keep the big buddy secured in a locker and use our smaller, ride-friendly camera phones instead (hence the shoddy pics ahead.)

Herbology.



Most epic entrance ever.


Yes, some of them actually talked.



Not Slytherin, not Slytherin...


I did as little research on the park as possible so that my expectations weren't already set high by another parkgoer's review.  It paid off.  The castle and the coaster/simulator hybrid at the end totally blew me away.

After The Forbidden Journey, we headed back to Hogsmeade to recharge.


So, how was the butterbeer?  Oh, it was only the most ridiculously tasty cream soda in the world, topped off with a thick, frothy layer of butterscotch clouds.  That's all.

Mike's not even a soda drinker and he destroyed it.


Three Broomsticks for lunch.




The ribs aren't going to win any Thomas Keller throwdowns any time soon but for an amusement park, not bad!  Better than the Raptor nachos or whatever they were serving at the neighboring Jurassic Park area.  The cool thing about the Wizarding World is that nothing is commercially labeled.  The menus, the trash bins, even the soda fountain is Potterized.


The Hog's Head pub is attached to the restaurant.  They offer a selection of English ales, hard cider and their own Hog's Head brew on draft.  A great place to unwind with a pint, meet with other members of a secret student organization, etc.


Hagrid's crib.


Will work for dead ferrets.


Ollivander's.



Amazing.  Every last inch of shelf space was crammed with wands. 

The wandmaker didn't choose me, unfortunately.  Sad face.


I take that back.  Swoon face.


After perusing the wand shop, it was time to start packing up our trunks and head back to Platform 9-3/4.



If you're considering a trip to the Wizarding World, I can't emphasize enough how incredible the place is.  Seriously, just go.  Find that one friend who is always up for some crazy, impulsive shit and go.


Mike doesn't know it yet but I'm going back next year.


Permanently.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sugared Cinema: Flatliners (1990)


Some lines shouldn't be crossed.

In an attempt to explore the afterlife, five medical students take part in a risky experiment where the heart is stopped for a short period of time before being resuscitated.  During their temporary deaths, each of them is confronted with a dark memory from their childhood that continues to haunt them after they've been brought back to life.

Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon and Oliver Platt make up the impressive ensemble cast.  Oh, and William Baldwin's in it, too.  Hey-oh! 

I was 10 years old when Flatliners came out and I still remember how freaked out I was after watching it.  Being the fourth child had its perks, one of them being my mom's leniency when it came to watching or renting R-rated movies.  I really should thank her for inadvertently exposing me to psychological thrillers at such a young age.

With Halloween just around corner, I figured what the hey...get a little morbid.  You only live or die once.  Or twice.

Chocolate Flatliners


Here's what you'll need:

 Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Recipe from Allrecipes.com
Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

Two small batches of royal icing (black/dark brown, green)

Disclaimer:  I'm still learning how to work with the external "hot shoe" flash Berry White gave me for my birthday.  Some of the pics look a little weathered, which isn't always a bad thing but I wanted to acknowledge it anyway.  Thanks for your patience.  Help yourself to a cookie.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, flour and salt.  Mix it up.

Cut in the butter.  


 The recipe said to use chilled butter but 1, I don't own a pastry cutter and 2, it's kind of a biotch to cut in butter, period.  So I used softened butter and life got a little bit easier.

Cut until pea-sized crumbs form.


 Add the egg and vanilla then give it a good stir.


The dough will still look pretty crumbly and dry so give it a good couple kneads with your hands until it starts to come together.

Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and cover it with a second piece of parchment.


Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  You can do this on a floured surface but it's easier to use parchment.  Once you've rolled it out, you can slide it right onto an ungreased cookie sheet, paper and all.

Use a rectangular cookie cutter to cut out the shapes.


Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let the little heart monitors cool completely while you prepare the royal icing.


Since we're working with a dark canvas (as opposed to regular shortbread), you want the first layer of icing to be dark.  I added cocoa powder to the mixture so that when it was time to tint it with black food coloring, I didn't have to use as much.  Not only does the color turn out beautifully rich, it tastes really, really good.  Nice and chocolate-y.

Dam and flood your cookies.  Promptly get rid of any rejects.


 When the first layer is set, pipe on the details.

CLEAR. 


CLEAR!


We lost it.  To my stomach.

Enjoy your weekend, friends.  Watch something scary.  I dare you.