Matzah and Miscellany
We have fewer than 36 hours left in the annual effort of unleavened endurance that is Passover, but it's still worth sharing a delightful snack idea.
The festival commemorating the Jews' exodus from Egypt is a strange one in that we're asked to honor the trials of our ancestors by eating certain foods during the ritual seder meal — as well as by depriving ourselves of normal bread products for the following week — but at the same time we celebrate our freedom by literally treating ourselves like royalty at that same meal.
So I don't feel too bad about indulging in Nutella and peanut butter on matzah.
Image © 2010 Ferrero USA.
Nutella is a creamy hazelnut-cocoa spread. As I've mentioned here before, I love hazelnuts and their flavor, especially with coffee or chocolate (or both). I also love the salty-and-sweet combination you get from chocolate-covered pretzels or chocolate and peanut butter. When I need to satisfy the craving for a little dessert, a spoonful of one part Nutella and one part peanut butter, washed down with some milk, really hits the spot. I have no idea how I never thought to spread the divine mixture on matzah ere now.
You really can't skimp by getting a generic Nutella alternative, by the way. I'd never even seen one until a store brand popped up in the supermarket on a recent visit; since the only jars of Nutella in stock were the relatively new larger size, which offer a mild economy in price but get hard to scoop from, I opted to try the standard-sized jar of the America's Choice knockoff for what was the first and what will be the last time.
On to other tantalizing topics, from a Top One to worlds of legend!
Logos TM Worldwide Pants.
An entry of mine was selected for The Late Show's online Top Ten Contest again. I had a good run not quite a decade ago, in the waning days of dial-up AOL, then didn't enter for several years (in large part due to not having a computer) and then spent a couple more years entering occasionally with no success.
My dry spell was broken the last time I entered, back in December, making the cut with one of the jokes that I submitted based on the show's own running gags. I seem not to have entered again until a couple of weeks ago, when my sole submission to "Top Ten Signs Katie Couric Is Leaving CBS" was chosen: "Is transferring all of her prescriptions to Rite Aid. No, wait... That's a sign that Katie Couric is leaving CVS."
You used to hear back via E-mail if an entry of yours was picked to run on the website, and until fairly recently you'd receive a mousepad or T-shirt. Now apparently the winning entries don't get anything but the satisfaction and you only even find out that you've won if you check online or subscribe to the weekly Late Show E-newsletter. I still plan to enter when a topic moves me and I feel in the zone, because it's a fun exercise and I can run all of my submissions here on the blog, although it definitely requires a certain kind of focus that can be hard for me to summon.
Screencap from Red Riding Hood trailer © 2011 Warner Bros.
I realize that this comment makes it obvious, since Red Riding Hood has now come and gone from theaters, that I've had some of these pieces lying around for a while waiting for a patchwork post of quick hits — also, that it's mean — but I still have to ask: How much nerve does it take to cast Amanda Seyfried in a movie that calls for her to exclaim "What big eyes you have!"? That's the pot calling the kettle black, metal, and boiling hot. Now, I didn't actually see the movie in question, but I'm guessing that no reference to Seyfried's bulging orbs (the ones up here, guys) was actually made in the scene.
Still from Thor © 2011 Marvel.
The above remark reminds me of a post I never completed on "fantastic" literature being so in vogue now.
Movie franchises based on existing comics and young-adult prose novels, as well as new films and TV projects trying to capture their feel, have become the thing, from superheroes to vampires to fairy tales to sci-fi action. All of them are character-based yet allow for grand spectacle, which I think is a large part of the selling point, but it may also be that a new generation is gaining control of the ticket-buying and green-lighting, prioritizing its own nostalgia; some combination of (1) new technology finally catching up to doing this stuff justice and (B) rising ticket prices requiring more bang for the buck on the big screen is likely also behind the trend.
Still, though, the geeks have inherited the earth in this regard, which is something worth discussing. Even more interesting is that with these kinds of projects so popular they're not just for geeks anymore but taken in stride by the general public — quite possibly seen as special-case indulgences, presented as populist popular entertainment, or safely enough removed from their source material that appreciating them doesn't feel, for lack of a better word, threatening, because Godzilla forbid normal folks should identify as geeks. Sports fans and car aficionados and Hummel-figurine collectors, those people just have obsessive hobbies that are part of the well-balanced diet of life that allows for thrilling to The Dark Knight and plowing through Harry Potter novels and maybe a guilty habit of DVR'ing Chuck, but of course they'd never really get into anything nerdy.
The networks' 2011-2012 development slate has included such pilots as Wonder Woman, a new series starring the Amazon princess as superhero and corporate supervisor, as I wrote last month; a Charlie's Angels redo; 17th Precinct, a police drama set in a world where magic exists; Grimm, a police drama set in a world populated by characters from the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales; Once Upon a Time, in which a boy discovers a town where magic and fairy tales seem to exist; Locke & Key, from Fringe's co-creators, based on a graphic novel, about a family living in a supernatural house that leads to strange places; Poe, following the exploits of the horror/suspense author credited with inventing the modern detective story as he solves crimes in 19th-century Boston; Heavenly, a legal drama teaming a young attorney and a former angel; and Secret Circle, adapting a series of books from the author of The Vampire Diaries.
And that's without mentioning all the swords-and-sandals-if-not-outright-sorcery series on cable now, from Spartacus to The Borgias to Game of Thrones, or a summer-movie season laden with sci-fi and superhero sagas that includes Green Lantern, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Cowboys and Aliens, and X-Men: First Class. We've already seen a take on Red Riding Hood; dueling live-action versions of Snow White are also in the works. It feels like after vampires and zombies — which haven't run their course yet — Old World myths are the next wave that writers, producers, and executives are trying to ride, which bodes well for adaptations of the acclaimed Fables graphic novels as well as other comics and prose works in a like vein.
Chris Buck photo for Wired © 2010 Condé Nast.
The preceding jogs my memory of a piece for Wired that Patton Oswalt wrote last year about the double-edged phenomenon of niche culture becoming mass culture yet also exploding like a tesseract for committed in-group adherents online. You might find it tough going in some places if you don't speak Nerd, although you'll surely get the gist of it. He writes with the same dense, passionate intelligence that's the galvanizing force in what little I've seen of his stand-up (or, via talk shows, sit-down), and I should really check out his essay collection Zombies Spaceships Wasteland.
Note: A couple of the passages from this post were moved for technical reasons.