Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cereal Combinations

Cereal Combinations:

If you've been reading this blog for a while [1] you are aware that I have more than a passing fancy with cereal.

Since it is unlikely that you have ventured into the realm as much as I, here are some combinations involving cereal that you might not have thought to try:

1) Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch: This combination occur earlier today because of two factors.  First, I wanted to finish off the box of Froot Loops that had been in the pantry forever and secondly because the Bear ate half the bowl that was left. [2]

Turns out it isn't that bad.  Actually, I would call it an improvement on both of the base cereals.  A problem with Froot Loops is that the flavor is overpowering.  With the Cap'n Crunch in their the flavor was diluted and quite enjoyable.  A problem with Cap'n Crunch is that it can tear up the roof of your mouth.  The presence of the Froot Loops eliminated this.

I suspect to get the best out of this combo you should mix the two cereals together first.

The resulting combo wasn't anything amazing and will likely be forgotten never to be eaten again, but there's one less box in the pantry and I enjoyed consuming it.

Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch: B

2) Cocoa Krispies and Honey Smacks: Unlike the first entry, this is actually a combination that I intentionally eat from time to time.  It tastes best when you do not mix the two cereals but have a bottom layer of one and a top layer of the other.

In truth, I've had this enough times that I've come to realize that it actually matters which one is on the bottom and which is on top.  Unfortunately, I can never remember which goes where.  Right now my gut instinct [3] is telling me that the Krispies go on bottom and the Smacks on top.

You can also sub out the Honey Smacks for Golden Crisp.  Though Golden Crisp is a bit too sugary sweet for me and I don't prefer it.  And you can sub out the Cocoa Krispies for Cocoa Pebbles.  That swap gets you a slightly different taste that is just as good, but does subject you to the problem of Pebbles which is that they quickly turn to mushy paste in the bowl. [4]

The resulting combo is really good and different enough from the originals that it stand on its own.

Cocoa Krispies and Honey Smacks: A-

3) Frosted Flakes and any type Ice Cream:  It's possible you've ventured into the "cereal on top of ice cream" genre.  You almost [5] can't go wrong.  But in my vast experience, the king of ice cream toppers is Frosted Flakes.  Any variety of Frosted Flakes will do, but as previously stated, I prefer the Aldi brand. [6]

Granted I technically haven't put them on every type of ice cream in the world, so I can't testify that they will do much to help out your Pistachio Nut, [7]  but they are solid additions to the many varieties we frequently buy.

Frosted Flakes and any type of Ice Cream: A+

4) Grape-nuts combined with anything: Grape Nuts are guaranteed to completely have no effect when paired with anything else.  That is, as long as you leave the Grape Nuts off and just eat the other thing.  Because let's face it, as previously stated Grape Nuts are disgusting.

They might slightly improved the taste of a bowl full of cold poison, but I'll never know for sure.

Grape Nuts combined with Anything: F 

[1] - Or for just the last seven posts.
[2] - It is also the inspiration for this post.
[3] - Ha!
[4] - The solution is either eat really fast or eat half a bowl at a time.
[5] - Note the "almost".
[6] - Here is why.
[7] - But then I suspect nothing will.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Alien Resurrection (2003 Edition)

Alien Resurrection (2003 Edition):

There were five years between Alien 3 and this film.  The special effects took another jump forward. The plot took a huge leap backwards. [1]

The movie is in no way scary.  There was not one single time during the entire film that I felt the least twinge of fright. [2]

Honestly, I could go on and on about the things that sucked in this movie, but I'll spare you.

Just trust me.

Fine, you don't trust me.  Here are three of the many reasons you should trust me when I tell you this movie is bad.

The actors: we've got Warrick from CSI and Nick Tortelli from Cheers.

The acting [3]: Did I mention Tortelli from cheers?

The plot: Have you ever surfed around the net and found some film made by a second year theater major who wanted to make a movie using the names and ideas from his favorite group of books or movies, but he couldn't because the studio would sue him?  So instead he changes all of the names and places and things just enough to avoid getting sued.  And as you are watching this film, in whatever backwater of the web you found it in, you think, "Well, it's not so bad given where it's come from."

Well I imagine that is what happened with this movie.  Only the studio, instead of suing for copyright infringement, gave them several million for special effects [4]

If you somehow end up watching this movie and you're getting close to the end and you think, "Well, it wasn't that bad."  Just wait until you get to see Ripley and the Alien queen's love child.  You will regret the choices that brought you there. I do so declare.

The special 2003 edition is not changed from the original theater version.  At least that is what the director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, says at the front of the movie.  Though he also says that he saw no reason to make a 'directors cut' because the movie shown in the theaters in '97 was the movie he wanted to make. [5]  Which given all of the other movies he's directed ought to mean it's gonna be good.  But it isn't. [6]

Alien Resurrection: D- [7]

[1] - There is clearly an inverse relationship between quality of spfx and quality of the movie when it comes to the Alien oeuvre.
[2] - Unless you count the disquiet I felt when about a half hour in I realized I was going to have to suffer through the rest of the pic.
[3] - Or should I say the over acting?
[4] - And for Weaver and Ryder.
[5] - Which I take to mean he's proud of it.
[6] - I wonder if he thought it was supposed to be a comedy? Amelie was a great movie.
[7] - Overall, the spfx are pretty good. That's got to count for something? Right?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Alien 3 (2003 Directors Cut)

Alien 3 (2003 Directors Cut):

The third movie in the series and a third director.  And also a third type of movie.

As previously stated in my posts on Alien and Aliens:

Alien (directed by Ridley Scott) is a sci-fi horror movie.

Aliens (directed by James Cameron) is a sci-fi action adventure/war movie.

Alien 3 (directed by David Fincher) is essentially a sci-fi art flick (with an alien that's trying to kill everyone.) [1]

It is once again noticeable immediately.  From the beginning much care is given to how each shot looks.  The sets are big and elaborate and rusty. [2] There's rain and steam and fog, which aren't used so much to hide the monster, but to make it all look just so.

We're back down to only one alien, but there's no real attempt to establish the horror aspect of the first movie.  And there are zero guns. [3]

There's plenty of running around and dying.  The monster is plenty nasty. [4]  But the plot and the director are more interested in the morality tale and the well shot visuals than the action or horror.

I remember when this movie came out a lot of people were kind of disappointed in it. A fact born out by the fact that on this film rates a full two points lower than the first two films.  And I can understand people's disappointment.  This film is not its predecessors, but then the second film wasn't the same as the first.

If you watch it realizing that.  If you watch it on its own merits, I think it is just as good as the other two.

For the record, six years had passed since the second movie was made and the spfx have jumped forward again.  We once again get to see half an android talking and this time it looks pretty awesome. Not much to say on what the computers and other technology look like, since it takes place on a prison planet and that's pretty much what it looks like.

Alien 3: A-

[1] - But in an arty way.
[2] - Seriously rusty.
[3] - Until the very end when the "rescue" ship shows up.
[4] - Though it now has a sort of bovine aspect to it because of its initial host.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Aliens (2003 Director's Cut)

Aliens (2003 Director's Cut):

Aliens originally came out in 1986, which is just seven short years from Alien, the original film, but it might as well have been the fifty-seven years Ripley was asleep because that is how different these two films are.

As I said in the last post, Alien is a horror movie.  It's dark and scary and creepy and did I mention scary.  Aliens is an action movie.  It's got space marines [1] and they have lots and lots of firepower. This isn't seven people stuck on a spaceship trying to hide from the monster.  This is a straight up war between the good guys and the bad.

Really everything you need to know can be seen in the two opening titles.  In Alien, there is a painstakingly slow crawl across space during which bits of something slowly, oh so slowly appear. Until finally it's all there and you see the title, ALIEN. [2]

In Aliens, there is some fuzzy blue light and then very quickly it resolves in the title, ALIENS.  But the whole thing is done in 1/20th the time. [3]

Don't get me wrong, I like this movie a lot.  In fact, I've seen it many more times than the first one. Probably in part because they show it on TV much more often, but also because it is more fun to watch.  It's not scary, scary boogums.  It's guns and explosions.

A big part of the difference in the movies is just the number of aliens.  In the first movie there is one alien.  You never get to see it clearly.  It could be anywhere.  It's terrifying.  In the second movie, there are hundreds of the aliens.  You see them, if not clearly, more clearly.  And while they are everywhere, they are just the "bad guys" of the film.  They don't really have any more power or coolness then any other nasty from any other us verses them film. [4]

The special effects in the second movie are also worlds better.  Many advances were made in the seven years between the two films.  The spaceship shots, while still clearly models in some shots, most of the time look great.  The computers and technology in the world and on the ships, while still not "modern" looking are much better than the TRS-80's [5] the first movie was using.

Even the painful fake head from the first movie is improved upon.  Granted in this movie there is half android [6] but it looks so much better.

In watching this Director's Cut, I could definitely see where things were added.  Most of it was fine and I liked the addition.  However, the early scenes with the colonists find the space ship and such were really not needed and took away from the whole.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the movie doesn't have its tension but it's just not the horror movie creepiness of the original.  Which is fine by me.

Also, while it's way crueler than my statement about leaving the cat behind in Alien.  Sorry Newt, but if it was me, there's no way I'm going down into that nest to get you.

Aliens: A

[1] - And that should tell you everything you need to know.
[2] - Just like the movie.  There's something out there.  What is it?  Can you see it?  Oh dear god!
[3] -  Just like this movie.  There's something wrong! It's Aliens. Let's start shooting.
[4] - Don't get me wrong, they still bleed acid and can bite your brain out of your skull, but in the end that's no different than bad soldiers who throw grenades and fire machine guns.  Either way you are dead.
[5] - Or is that too obscure a reference?
[6] - Sorry, artificial human.
[7] - I mentioned this in the Alien post, but I didn't see a clean way to talk about it in this one.  So here's a long footnote.  Aliens was the first rated R movie that I ever saw in the theater.  It came out before April in 1986.  I know this because I was only 15 when I saw it and I turned 16 in April of that year.  I had not yet seen the original and I went with my older brother and a friend of his.  I had no idea what to expect.  Anyway, the funny part of the story is that we all bought our tickets separately. My older brother, who is six years older got carded to get into the movie.  They didn't ask me for ID at all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alien (2003 Director's Cut)

Alien (2003 Director's Cut):

I got the Alien Anthology for Christmas or my birthday a couple of years ago and for one reason or another I haven't had a chance to watch it since then. [1]  Well, I finally managed to watch it.

The movie came out in 1979, the directors cut came out in 2003 and it is now 2014.  This version starts with Ridley Scott, talking for just a second saying he is proud of the film and that he had added some new footage that had never been seen before and changed a few things that needed fixing.

I never saw the original Alien in the theater, which really isn't surprising as I was nine at the time. In fact I didn't see Alien until after I had seen Aliens. [2]  Since then, I would guess that I have seen the original movie maybe three times (not counting today's viewing).  I've not seen the film enough times to be considered an expert on it, but I didn't see anything that stuck out as new or substantially different.

The Alien movies are supposedly 'sci-fi' movies, but let's be realistic.  The four movies are not all of the same genre.  The later three are more of what you would consider a sci-fi action movie.  The first one is a straight up horror movie.  Sure it's set in space and in the future, but don't kid yourself.

The movie holds up pretty good even though it is now thirty-five years old.  The special effects are pretty dated in some places. [3]  The computer systems on the ship are laughably low-tech, but I suppose in 1979 they were cutting edge.  The shots of the ship flying in space are pretty bad, but the real loser of the spfx is when they reactivate Ash's head so that they can talk to him.  The detached head they manipulate and the talking head [4] are not even close to similar.  Actually, I can remember thinking the same thing the first time I saw the movie in the late 80's.

The super secret computer interface room that only the captain is allowed to go into is kind of dorky too.  It's got eight million blinking lights on the walls that would serve zero purpose.  I wish they had just made that room dark and spooky like the rest of the movie. [5]

Anyway, as for the rest of the movie, as previously stated, it's scary.  Really scary.  Super duper scary. [6]

They do a great job of never really letting you see the alien monster clearly.  It's always around a corner, or there's bad lighting or there's steam everywhere.  Occasionally you get a clear look at an arm  and and it's obvious that it's a man in a suit, but those fleeting moments don't make you feel much better.

As I said, I've seen it enough times to know what happens and it's still a nail biter.

Other things that stand out for me are:

- Awesome cast including: Sigourney Weaver and Yaphet Kotto. [7]
- I like that they bothered to make the alien ship in Prometheus very similar if not identical to the one from this movie. [8]
- I've also always liked how the Alien monster was super drooly. [9]

Finally, let me just say that if I was on a space ship and there was a monster running around killing everyone, the cat better get its own butt into the escape pod, because I will straight up leave its butt behind.

Now excuse me while I go watch something nice and safe.  Maybe a musical or a kid's movie.

Alien (2003 Director's Cut): A

[1] - Mainly it's because, if the Bear and the Bean are around there's no chance I'm watching it and the Pook isn't a fan either.
[2] - Which I did see in the theater, but we'll save that for another day.
[3] - Pretty dated is a nice way of saying really old looking.
[4] - Which is just the actor sticking his head through a board.
[5] - There are some other spfx moments that fall short (like the stiff unbending baby alien), but really they are not that bad and again, this was 1979.
[6] - Especially when you are watching it alone because everyone else in the house is in Tennessee.
[7] - He's awesome.  Homocide: Life on the Streets anyone?
[8] - Prometheus still sucks in the plot department, but it's a nice bit of continuity.
[9] - Don't ask me why.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014



Our country seems obsessed with coffee.  There is a coffee house on every corner and many times there's another between those.  The Pook loves the stuff. [1]  You can find it every where.  If a business only gives away one free drink you can bet that drink is coffee.  You get it free when you stay at a hotel, get your oil changed or talk to just about any type of professional.  The bulk of half an aisle in every large grocery stores is devoted to the stuff and yet I think it tastes like sewage.

It's just straight up nasty.

And please don't write me and try to sway me to join the coffee legion with one of these lines:

"But if you tried brand X coffee you would like it."

"You've got to prepare it right.  If you put enough Y and Z in it, it is [insert your favorite high praise adjective here]."

"It's an acquired taste."

Please, do me a favor. [2]

I've tried coffee many times.  It's so prevalent in society that every few years I thinks to myself, "Maybe it's changed.  Maybe I've changed.  I'll try it again."  So I do and then I spend the next five minutes shuddering.

I've tried lots of brands, styles and flavors.  They all smell wonderful.  That's the nasty trick of coffee. It smells divine.  If you catch me when I'm pushing the buggy down that aisle in Publix you'll see me breathing deeply.  The aroma is just so good.

Then you taste it.  If you get a good brand, or a one that has good flavors, that first second can be pretty good, even down right tasty.  Then the back end of the flavor hits your taste buds and it tastes like, to steal a phrase from the Pook, "liquid butt." [3]

Long ago before coffee was everywhere, they used to make coffee flavored ice cream that wasn't actually made with coffee.  If I had to guess, I would say it probably had as much to do with coffee as a hand grenade.  Anyway, that ice cream tasted like the first half of the flavor of coffee.  I rather enjoyed that ice cream.

Now, in the interest of authenticity, coffee flavored ice cream is made with real coffee and thus includes the horrible bad taste that comes after the good. [4]

So to all of you who swear I would like it if I just tried Brand X, unless your coffee is made with something other than coffee, don't waste my time.

As for the, 'you've got to prepare it right' people, I've heard this one many times too.  Someone once told me this, "If you put enough cream and sugar in it, you can hardly taste the coffee."  If you've got to add enough other things to mask the drink's flavor, why are you drinking it?

But just so we're 100% clear here, even if your "cup of coffee" is actually half cream and a quarter sugar, you may completely kill off the first 'good' half of the flavor of coffee, but that nasty after taste is always still there.

And if you are drinking it for the caffeine, in this day and age there are plenty of other better tasting places to get your fix.

Last we come to the "It's an acquired taste."

What kind of stupid argument is that?

I'm willing to bet earthworms, mountain oysters and pickled dung are acquired tastes too, but I don't see too many people doing what it takes to become a fan of them on Facebook.

Why force yourself to drink something that you think tastes bad just so one day you can fool your brain into liking it?

I know.  I know.  I'm in the minority here.  The planet's already been brainwashed and coffee is king. Long live the king.  Just don't expect me drink it.

Coffee: D+ [5]

[1] - Not quite as much as me, but it seems a close second at times.
[2] - Not really, it's a British phrase.
[3] - It's how she describes grapefruit.
[4] - Oh well, I'll stick with mint chocolate chip.  The kind with the big chips if you please.
[5] - The smell keeps me from giving it an "F".