Saturday, December 28, 2013

91 and kicking!

Friday, December 27, 2013

I watched over one hundred horror films in 2013. I try to see as many of the new releases as possible, both indie, low budget, and big budget, big screen. Below is a list of ten of the horror films that disappointed me the most and then a list of horror films that were my favorites. These flicks are in no particular order as it was difficult enough to think of my top ten, much less put them in order.

I personally think it was a good year for horror. Even if I don't like certain films - like the remake of Evil Dead - I am sure it inspired a couple filmmakers to try their hand at the craft. In the future these budding filmmakers may be the next Soska twins.

I don't mention the synopsis for the films because either you've seen them or you have not. If you haven't watched them, then I don't want to spoil anything. Remember my philosophy, even crappy movies typically deserve viewing. Please let me know want you think of my lists either positive or negative.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What's wrong with fruitcake?

Okay, okay... I know what's wrong with fruitcake.

1) The treat was constantly the focus of holiday jokes for years. Long into the 80s, when people had stopped serving fruitcake, it was still the topic of wishful comedians. When something takes this kind of abuse without any sort of defender... well, it becomes part of the suburban lore. Even if you've never had fruitcake you instantly know that it is not going to be good and that it has been passed down over the course of a decade as a re-gift.

2) The fruitcakes people recognize are the very suspect store bought abomination that looks like the "Old Fashioned Claxton Fruitcake." I can understand the appeal 100 years ago... Don't feel like baking? Buy a couple of these modern marvels and hand them out! It's the thought that counts, right?

Well, yes... Times have changed though.... To give someone this crap now is to imply the thought... "I don't care enough about you to remain friends or even family." Seriously, these things are given out as joke items.

Manitou Springs, Colorado hosts the annual GREAT FRUITCAKE TOSS where people participate in various activities involving flinging fruitcakes.

Now, seriously, what in the hell do these people know about giving and receiving fruitcakes? Are we really to believe that people in Colorado were inundated with so many gifted fruitcakes that they decided to take charge and shoot them out of air powered cannons?

Let's face it, most of these people would have never witnessed a fruitcake in captivity had it not been for this event.

So, if I know what's wrong with the fruitcake then why bother asking?

Because the fruitcake can be an amazing part of the holiday experience. People like baking during the holidays but they are constantly making complicated little finger doodads for people to nibble on. Instead, one should fortify their pantry and make a couple knockout fruitcakes this year.

It's not too late to take back the fruitcake!

Do you know why Jimmy Buffett likes fruitcake?

Because a real fruitcake is soaked in booze!

That's right! Another treat for the holiday concocted as a reason to celebrate with some whiskey or rum! Society might frown on downing a fifth of rum at the holiday table, but saturate a cake with it... and you are free to partake in a gluttonous feast!

Sure, a fruitcake still has the "weird" looking fruit... it is after all a fruitcake. But when you soak any sort of cake in rum you are making dramatic steps toward the positive.
Gosling's Black Seal... My rum of choice.

This is a classic recipe for Spiced Rum Fruitcake
For the fruit
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • 4 oz. dried apricots, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (3/4 cup lightly packed)
  • 3 oz. dried apples, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup lightly packed)
  • 3 oz. currants or dark raisins (3/4 cup lightly packed)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
For the batter
  • 5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
  • 5 oz. (1 cup plus 1 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (preferably muscovado)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 3-1/2 oz. crystallized ginger, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • Dark rum, as needed for brushing
Tip: If you can find it, use muscovado sugar. Made from sugar cane juice, it has a smoky, spicy complexity, with notes of butterscotch.
Soak the fruit
Put the rum, dried fruit, and orange zest in 2-quart saucepan, cover, and warm over medium heat until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 3 days. Before making the cake, bring the fruit to room temperature and drain, reserving any liquid for basting. (If the fruit was very dry, it may have absorbed all the liquid.)
Make the cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-1/2x4-1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Line the pan with two strips of parchment in opposite directions, leaving an overhang for easy removal of the cake.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy and no lumps of brown sugar remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and mixing for 30 to 60 seconds after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Add 2 Tbs. of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat briefly. Reserve 2 Tbs. of the flour mixture and add the rest to the batter; beat on low speed for 10 seconds to incorporate the flour and then on medium-high for 1 minute.

Combine the crystallized ginger with the drained fruit. Scrape the batter into the center of the bowl. Put the marinated fruit on top of the batter and then sprinkle the reserved flour evenly over the fruit. Using a rubber spatula, fold the fruit into the batter until it’s evenly distributed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pressing it in to eliminate air pockets and smoothing the top to make it level. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 300°F and bake until the center of the cake has risen slightly and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, about 1-1/2 hours.

Remove the cake and let it cool in its pan on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. Use the parchment overhang to lift the cake from the pan. Place it on the rack, peel down the parchment sides, and cool completely. When cool, brush the cake with 2 to 3 Tbs. of the reserved fruit-soaking liquid or fresh rum. Wrap tightly in plastic and then in foil; store the cake at room temperature for a minimum of 48 hours before serving.

If serving within a week of baking, you do not need to baste the cake again. For longer storage, baste once a week with 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum and wrap in fresh plastic and foil. The cake will keep at room temperature for at least 3 weeks.

Nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 400; Fat (g): 13; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): 8; Protein (g): 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): 59; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): 95; Cholesterol (mg): 95; Fiber (g): 3;

So, there it is... in black and white pixels. Make one of these for yourself and you will discover that they are more than worthy gifts for your adult friends. The kids can eat the cookies while the adults nosh on some dark rum cake.

This recipe calls for sun dried fruits instead of the super bright candied fruits. That is the reason the cake looks so much darker than what one would expect from a fruitcake. I still like to toss a few green and red candied cherries into the mix just for some Christmas ambiance.

Have a few slices of Spiced Rum Fruitcake and a glass or two of some Rum inspired Egg Nog.... You will be caroling throughout the neighbor with your pants off in no time!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Back in the day, before words like web page existed, we pioneers of porn the internet traded insults on things called newsgroups. I frequented a newsgroup known as It hosted a group of people that were very passionate about the flavored drink powder known as Kool-Aid.

They traded flavor packs and posted recipes and DIY hair dye recommendations. They were a good group of people that genuinely loved Kool-Aid. I guess I should say WE were a good group of people that genuinely loved Kool-Aid. It was through this group that I discovered my favorite flavor of Kool-Aid, Mountain Berry Punch, was being discontinued.

At the time I realized the significance of this discontinuation but not really. Mountain Berry had always been a part of my life. Even telling me that it was no longer going to be around... well, it's like you just don't believe it.

I believe it now.

A few days after I found out about the cancellation I happened to be in a grocery store with my friend Phil. I mentioned to Phil about the soon to be loss of Mountain Berry Punch. I proceeded to count out 10 packs of Crack-Aid and then I counted out a $1.07 in various amounts of change to cover the cost.

Phil found the last case of Mountain Berry Punch and bought it. I was so jelly but Phil told me he would occasionally make a batch and I could have a few sips.

He made one batch, that bastard. I often imagine his wife and child savoring the sweet berry taste like a vintage wine while I am left to linger in my dream time.

I realize that Mountain Berry Punch features 4 berries and has the word Berry in the title.... but I swear on Phil's life that it tasted like pears. I know that many liquid juices use pear juice to boost flavor of their treat. With a powdered drink I'm not so certain that pear is a factor, For that matter, I'm not sure that berries are a factor.

I know I am not alone in my longing for Mountain Berry Punch. It is one of the top requested resurrection flavors. Kraft has remained oddly silent for years. You would think that they would occasionally release a select batch during the Summer or my birthday.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is there anything better than an ugly Christmas sweater?

How about a dog wearing an ugly Christmas sweater? Oh yeah!

As a Christmas present to Candy Cane I spent the last 724 hours dredging the depths of the internet searching for dogs in Christmas sweaters. See, Candy Cane is not a cat person, and demanded equal time for doggies since I devoted an entire entry to .

This dog is squatting for a reason... to pay you back for the sweater.

Someone is in sweater time out.

This dog deserve to wear sweaters.

The dog probably picked this outfit.

Destroy their dignity while they're still young.

This dog looks like it wants to apologize. I think the owner needs to apologize to the dog.

I'll bet these two cuties love to wet your bed.

Proof that dogs trust their owners.... until they do this.

This dog is a suck up.

Hmmmm. Good look.

He's not sure what he's wearing or why.. but he loves you. So, it's okay.

These two hooligans are pleased as punch to be wearing sweaters.

I know you are thinking, "Who is Candy Cane and why should I care?"

I share the same thoughts until she shows up at my door with homemade lasagna.

I think Candy Cane lives next door to me, but I am not certain. I don't even really know her name, but it doesn't change after Christmas, which makes me think she really enjoys Christmas... or Candy Canes.... or she's a stripper.

Merry Christmas, Candy Cane! I hope you enjoyed dogs wearing horrible sweaters!

C'mon, you know you don't get enough cat pictures in your daily adventures on the internet! I imagine I see, on average, 10 pictures involving cats in my Facebook feed, 3 pictures in my email, and 1 text, daily. Of course I want more!

I noticed a trend involving cats in Christmas trees and rather than involve my friend's personal pictures, I thought I would just steal some of my favorites from Google.

I hope you enjoy this brief interlude from horror, nerd porn, and egg nog.

It is Christmas after-all.

Hell yeah! Nerd porn after all! Dig the Hulk ornament!

That angel is so pretty. I can't blame this kitty.

Nice.... King of the Mountain!

Nuff said.

Better that than an electric cord.

Just wait 'til that kitty is grown!

Another cat that appreciates the angel.

Tree: 0 Kitty: 1 Time for a rest.

Kitty jumped the gun! You gotta wait for the ornaments and lights, Dude!

Nothing good is about to happen.

Better than catnip!

Nothing good is about to happen Part 2.

Yeah, it is a bit bright.

Candy Cane inquired if I had plans to steal pictures about Christmas trees and dogs. I told her, "No. Because dogs usually just knock the tree over, eat my Mickey Mouse ornaments, and then poop plastic for the New Years." I will admit that I think it is funny to be minding your own business and suddenly notice a cat literally inside your Christmas tree. Soooo, no, sorry Candy Cane. You should be busy buying my Christmas presents and not worry about what I am going to steal from Google.