A Few Random Observations

Here’s my favorite line from Road House: “A polar bear fell on me.”

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I recently saw the preview for American Ultra, and as I listened to Jesse Eisenberg announce that he had just killed two people and was mildly freaking out about it, it occurred to me that maybe this movie was actually a modern version of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which would have been weird since I just saw The Double a few weeks ago, and Jesse Eisenberg was in that, too. And for one brief shining moment, I had this vision of a world in which Jesse Eisenberg’s career was actually one long Andy Kaufman-esque performance, and he was secretly making his way through every single one of Dostoevsky’s works, spinning them out beautifully and theatrically like ships onto the ocean, his personal tribute to one of the greatest writers of all time, all without anyone knowing. Anyone other than me, of course. What a beautiful thing that would have been. But then I remembered that he’s playing Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman, and that pretty much shot that theory to hell.

And speaking of The Double, I don’t like to part my hair on the opposite side because it makes me feel like I’ve become my own doppelgänger.

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And now, a bit of heresy. In my opinion, silent film comedian Harold Lloyd is much, much funnier than Charlie Chaplin. Take THAT Chaplin fans. (Chapsters? Chapniks?) Consider the film, Safety Last. You’ve got scene after scene of incredible physical humor, all cleverly choreographed by Lloyd himself. You’ve got the backwards “kick me” message that Harold writes in chalk on the wall to trick the policeman (only to have it end up on his own back), as well as the scene in which a drunk man has a hilarious conversation with several nicely dressed store mannequins. And of course there are capers. So many capers. It’s got everything you could want in this type of movie, including a bewildered yet optimistic protagonist who does crazy stunts and is bendy like Gumby. In contrast, Charlie Chaplin movies are just cloying and overwrought. Too many little orphans with giant eyes and frayed pants gazing wistfully into the camera while sad violins play. Weren’t a lot of these films made during the Depression? Wouldn’t people have been looking for an escape from all this down-and-out crap? Ugh. Give me pure physical comedy any day.

One last image from Safety Last. Picture this: Lanky Harold Lloyd is sitting awkwardly on a flagpole that is VERY high up on a brick building, trying desperately not to fall, when a dog starts barking at him from a nearby window. The owner leans out and shouts at Harold, “Get out of here! Don’t you know the dog might fall?”

What can Chaplin do to compete with this? A tap-dance routine with shoes on his hands? Boo. Hiss.

TEAM HAROLD!!

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My daughter, unsurprisingly, is obsessed with Superman. We own Superman II, which is beyond question the best of the Superman movies (General ZOD!!), but so far we’ve only rented the original Superman. We used to own Superman Returns, but at some point the DVD was compromised by little hands and Jell-o, and that was the end of that. So the other day, Zooey asked me if we could please buy the Superman movie where he saves the plane and lifts the island. Well, clearly, she was referring to Superman Returns, so when I happened to find a used copy at our local game store, I snapped it up. Excitedly, I handed it to my daughter, and she was thrilled! Until the next morning, when she came storming into our bedroom after having watched the first twenty or thirty minutes of it. “What is this movie?” she demanded. “He isn’t a baby and Krypton didn’t blow up!” This tiny little person, this beloved daughter of mine, was bristling with rage.

“But this is the one where he saves the plane!” I protested. “This is the one where he lifts the island! You said you wanted the one where he lifts the island.”

“No! I don’t want this Superman!” she shouted. Honest to God, there were tears in her eyes. She angrily stomped back into the living room and defiantly turned on My Little Pony instead. Ouch. I guess the Internet was right—no one likes the Bryan Singer Superman.

Witness Me!!!

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So you know how I’m obsessed with Mad Max: Fury Road? Well I’ve just taken my bizarre and somewhat unhealthy fandom to a whole other level. Behold! The canisters of Valhalla!

 

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First off we have Furiosa being badass and holding the brown sugar like a boss.

 

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Next we have Max in full blood-bag mode, raging against the flour that he now contains.

 

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Here is the opposite side of the flour canister. This side is only to be displayed on Sundays and holidays.

 

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Up next is Nux and Capable! Two of my favorite characters, with their adorable almost romance. I’m not totally thrilled with how this canister turned out, which is a shame, because Nux was actually the inspiration for this whole project. You see, the War Boys always covered themselves with powder before going into battle, and one day it occurred to me how great it would be if I could paste Nux’s image onto a jar of sugar and give him a prominent place in the kitchen. So, I guess, mission accomplished, despite that obnoxious fold that I just could not get rid of. Ugh. “Mediocre!!!”

 

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And finally, here’s the villainous Immortan Joe, driving his sugar canister into Valhalla! We live! We die! We bake delicious snickerdoodles again!

Ladies and gentlemen of Earth, behold my formidable kitchen!!!

Hot Dog!

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So I made these wacky hot dog cookies for an Independence Day barbecue last weekend. I got the idea from a lovely lady on the Internet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQtq00bfrVM), and they turned out really well, although not without some harrowing complications along the way.

The first issue was that I used gluten-free sugar cookie mix. (There were some gluten-sensitive kiddos in the group.) This was my first time making gluten-free cookies, and I found it fairly difficult to manipulate the dough in the usual way. I tried to roll it out on a sheet, but without flour to dust it with, it got all gummed up and stuck to the pin. When that approach failed, I just started grabbing handfuls of dough, rolling them into a long shapes in my hand, and then pressing a wooden spoon into the center to create the opening of the bun. Amazingly, this worked! Next, I dyed the reserve dough a bright cardiac red, rolled it into dog shape, and used a knife to score each one like grill marks. So far so good. I popped them in the oven and sat back to relax . . . for a whole 3 minutes, at which point I took a peek inside the oven and noticed that the buns were flattening like pancakes. (Insert sad trombone sound.) I panicked and yanked them out of the oven, then used a knife to lift the buns and fix them back in place. I did this at the 3-minute mark. Then at 6 minutes. And then again at 9 minutes. Each time I despaired of ever completing the project. I tried to think of something else I could whip up on the fly, something that would be both whimsical and within the scope of my creative abilities. (Haggis? Another dragon cake?) But my sloppy mid-baking corrections actually got the job done. Hot dog cookies saved!! Once they were cool, I just had to decorate them, and fortunately all of that went exactly as planned. Black edible marker for the grill marks. Yellow icing for mustard. Chopped up gummy bears to represent relish and onions, in varying configurations. I also really wanted to do some chili dogs, so I tried something that I honestly did not think would work AT ALL: I half-melted some mini chocolate chips, so that they still retained some of their shape and texture, slopped them on the top, and then piped some orange frosting on top to function as the cheese. Voila! Fancy, fancy chili dogs. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like the cognitive dissonance that occurs when you put something in your mouth that looks like a chili dog but tastes like chocolate chips. It’s like . . . yay, chili! . . . but wait . . . chocolate?! . . . er . . . what? . . . do I still like this? . . . actually yeah, I like it! All in all, a fun project! Nick asked me later, “exactly how much did you spend to make those twelve cookies?” The answer is: more than I would like to admit. But that wasn’t really the point of this exercise, was it? The point was truth and beauty! Sweetness and light! And of course, cheese and onions.

Bon appétit, fellow Fourthers!!