Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mocktober

Inktober day 17 from the movie Neon Maniacs
Are there any other months of the year that get their name abused as much as October? We have Shocktober, Rocktober, Spooktober, so on and so forth. October is great, without it we wouldn't have Oktoberfest. Which brings up an interesting side note about horror movies. Do you snack during movies? Candy, popcorn, soda, beer? When I go to a movie theatre it's almost mandatory to have popcorn and a cherry coke. HOWEVER, I always refrain if it's a horror movie. Seriously, I should start the horror movie diet plan. There are just some really grody parts to most horror movies and they make me lose my appetite.  A couple of the movies I used for this week's inktober sketches have some of the grossest death scenes, even if they look completely low budget, they still make my stomach turn.
These two sketches are from the movie Alice Sweet Alice, aka Communion, aka Holy Terror.  They've all but outlawed these type of Halloween masks for what they claim are safety reasons, but I'm pretty sure it's because whoever's in charge of making those stupid rules just got tired of wetting their pants every time they saw them. The creepy masks were put to good use in several horror films.


These next two sketches are from the ridiculousness that is Neon Maniacs.  It's actually not completely horrible, it just needed someone to reign in the ridiculous. A lot of people refer to it as the Village People at Halloween. It does have potential to be good so it's worth a watch.


This one is from Death Ship, another one with George Kennedy.  It's probably one you've never heard of but if you're a fan of horror movies you need to find it and watch it. "This old ship, seems to have a life of its own".  Yes, yes it does and it's what makes it scary. Well, that and then you find out the ship is a Nazi. WHA!? Yea, just watch it, especially for George Kennedy's performance, his descent into madness is pretty great. 

Night of the Creeps is just an all around great 80s horror flick and one of those that will put you on the fast track to weight loss that I mentioned earlier. The first time you see those slugs coming out of somebody's body you'll find yourself not so hungry for Junior Mints. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October Was Made for Horror

As I'm sitting here typing this there's an awful storm going on outside, with a tornado warning to boot. The strange weather, rustling leaves and earlier sunsets make October the perfect month for all things spooky.  Continuing the inktober and movie mashup this first one is from Just Before Dawn.

 It might seem like your typical campers go off in the mountains to be terrorized, but it's a little better than your average cliche camping horror film. One, it has George Kennedy in it and he fully warns these five morons that there's a machete wielding weirdo out in the mountains but they go just the same.  In situations like that it's hard to feel sorry for the victims. They were warned, weren't they?

This next one is from Psychomania
 The Brits and their bikes, what's not to love here? It's got one helluva good soundtrack and a good story too.  Of all of the types of horror stories out there the ones involving witchcraft seem to intrigue me the most.  Why? Because who would be crazy enough to tempt that sort of fate? Walking into an abandoned house, or like the previous movie, a spooky wooded area I can manage that type of fear.  Messing with spirits and the un-dead, that's completely unknown to me and holy crap what happens if something really does happen? Perhaps Bloody Mary won't come after you if you say her name three times in the mirror but who's to say she won't? Just because she doesn't come for you immediately after you say it doesn't mean she isn't coming years down the road. Seriously, she's probably working her way down that long list of names. Hope you didn't do anything stupid when you were a kid to open some sort of portal or curse.

This uber creepy one is from New Year's Evil
I always wish that when the person wearing the mask pulls the mask off they look exactly like the mask. This is another one where I just don't know if I can feel bad for all of the victims. Cheesy but it was the 80s and man the 80s were great. 

This is from The Burning. Another camping excursion. This one is the first instance I learned about Cropsey.  Turns out Cropsey has his own story, a true one. Look him up if you have time. 
Sometimes Youtube gives us great things. Here's the whole movie from start to finish.  

These next three drawings are from Saturday the 14th

When I was a kid my mom thought Friday the 13th would be too scary for me but she believed this movie was a spoof on it and would be ok for me to watch. 

While there is some humour it does have some bits of horror too.  As for Friday the 13th being too scary, she must've had no idea the treasure trove of Argento and Fulci movies my dad had already let me watch. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Craptober

When is someone going to make a horror movie about how the stores put Halloween items out in July and Christmas stuff in September? Going shopping now is causing too much stress, you never know if you missed a birthday because you're so confused about what month it actually is. Thanks to Inktober I know exactly what month and day it is, unless I get behind, but so far I've done well at staying on track. In order to keep October less crappy and more creepy I chose to celebrate Inktober/October by inking ,mostly, B horror movies. 
The first one is from Mr. Sardonicus. 

This one is Norma Bates from Psycho, the only non "B" movie I've done so far. The following scene is where Norman Bates is being questioned about his mother. Anthony Perkins is nothing short of amazing here. 

For the love of a Norton Commando this is from I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle.  It's cheesy British humour at its best, plus a couple of really great death scenes. 

Deathbed:  The Bed That Eats.  It's so bad you have to watch it because when was the last time you saw a train wreck?  The idea behind it isn't all that bud, it was the execution of it that wasn't so great. The scene I drew for Inktober is one of the worst. The bed is eating his hands in super slow motion and the actors make it completely unbelievable. They cut back and forth from shots of them trying to pull his hands from the bed to what is probably supposed to be the bed's digestive juices eating away the flesh from his hands. His reaction to his new hand modeling career isn't quite what you'd expect. 

This one is from The Stuff. Highly recommend this to everyone. It's along the lines of They Live. It's one of those that will go over a lot of people's heads but it's great commentary on consumerism and how people can be pretty blind and foolish sometimes. 

Tobe Hooper was a master at the terror horror film.  The movie trailer mentions a parallel to Jaws but Jaws didn't have a creepy motel attendant helping him, or I guess Jaws was a girl as she had babies to keep that franchise going.   

The Boogeyman may be low budget but it's a good one.  The story behind it could be retold with better effects and such.  There are newer movies with the same name, don't confuse new cheese with old cheese. 


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Satanic - Official Trailer

The Saturday evening horror flick for this week, Satanic. Recently I was in the position where I was at the mercy of Netflix.  That's right, some people think Netflix is a godsend, I however use it as a crutch. If I'm in a place where I can't get a DVD I turn to Netflix. You might be asking why because lord knows everything is streaming now and soon they won't make DVD's blah blah. Windows has even gotten so lazy, cheap and presumptuous that they no longer include a media player on new computers. WHA!!!?????? Yea, that's pretty crappy considering the horrible selection of horror movies Netflix has on its streaming service. You could say the selection of horror movies is horrific. (whaa whaaa.....) A smattering of, not even B more like D movies that were made in the last ten years. Which means they rely heavily on gore and a viewer who's either stoned out of their gourd or slightly comatose. I took a chance on this movie simply because I thought I'd enjoy it for the cheese factor. 
In all honesty it started off mediocre, got better then just abysmal. Sarah Hyland and Anthony Carrigan are two of the more well known actors in the movie and their performances were great considering what they had to work with. I was pleasantly surprised by Hyland.  Someone please hand her some better scripts. The dialogue was awful and the ending was even worse. The general idea of the movie is actually not bad it just didn't come together very well. A group of young adults are off on holiday.  They're touring some "haunted" sites before they go to Burning Man, or whatever the musical festival du jour was. It's your typical weird girl, good girl, tough guy and annoying asshole group. They end up getting themselves into a lot of trouble when they follow Satan worshipers to their hideout or whatever it's supposed to be.  When they try to rescue a girl they thought was going to be a human sacrifice it goes really bad for them. The girl is off her rocker and kills herself after vomiting and urinating on the hotel floor. If the movie had ended there it probably would have been better but it kept going.  
If you want to suffer through the ending and come back here and discuss I'm all up for that. Or if you've already seen it and want to leave your take on the ending in the comments I'd gladly read what you think. Also, if you have any better suggestions for streaming good horror movies I'll take those too.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me (1981 - Original Theatrical Trailer)

The horror flick for this Saturday, Happy Birthday to Me.  Since it's my birthday I chose one to go along with the theme however, it's one of my all time favourite horror films simply because it scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid. 
My brother, John, and brother from another mother, Chad, thought we were brave enough to watch this movie and not be scared. We watched the whole thing and nobody batted an eyelash until Chad had to go home. He lived behind us, just catty corner across the back yard, maybe 80 yards from back door to back door and he was too scared to walk home alone. Considering the content of the movie it really was no surprise we were freakin' terrified. Made in the early 80s this movie hit on a lot of things we were familiar with, dirtbikes, older brothers lifting weights pretending to be tough guys and crazy angry people. Angel dust was the drug du jour and whenever we saw a juvenile delinquent getting in trouble adults would immediately blame the angel dust. You know, because that kid came from such a nice family, it could only be drugs that would cause them to act that way. So it wasn't far fetched in our young 5 and 7 year old minds that an angry angel dusting pissed off prom queen could be lurking in the darkness between our yards. That night we spent most of the evening walking each other back and forth home. We had to walk Chad home because he was too scared. Then Chad had to walk us home because we were too scared. This went on and on until Chad finally was brave enough to just go alone.  I remember waking up the next day with a great urgency to go check on my best friend. You can imagine how horrified I was when I looked out my bedroom window and saw his body impaled on the neighbour's fence. OK, that didn't happen but that's what I thought I was going to see when I woke up. You'll be happy to know Chad is still alive and well and telling stories about how my dad used to make us breakfast before we went to school. 
Aside from the personal trip down memory lane I do enjoy this movie. There are a few movies similar to this so we could almost come up with a category called adolescent revenge horror or something like that. It was just creeping into the gory horror but not ridiculous or overly cheesy. The early 80s were good for horror in that the special effects were still special and not all computer generated. When an artist has to create a reality they tend to use a few more tricks, causing the viewer to fill in the blanks.  With computer generated effects it's spoon fed to the audience, no imagination involved. This one may be a little more nostalgic for those who grew up in the 80s, but definitely worth watching if you're a fan of horror. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Cabinet of Caligari (1962) - Trailer


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is one of those old horror flicks where you're not sure you know what the hell you're really watching. It stars Glynis Johns and everybody knows her as the mother in the movie Mary Poppins. The first time I saw Johns in a movie aside from Poppins was in The Vault of Horror. Of course she was also in the Batman TV series as Lady Penelope Peasoup, but that's not a movie. Anywho, after seeing her in Vault of Horror I wasn't as surprised to see her in another horror flick. This one is more of a psychological thriller type. The cinematography is fun in this one but the dialogue might make you a bit uncomfortable. Jane Lindstrom, Johns' character, is seeking help after her car breaks down. She finds a house and asks for help but soon she finds she's being held prisoner in this home belonging to a man by the name of Caligari. He says highly inappropriate things to her, watches her while she's in the bathtub, just all around creeper kind of things.  She believes he's some sick sort of pervert, keeping her there against her will just for some sort of amusement. The end comes and you think this is where the idea for Shutter Island came from which isn't a bad comparison because in both movies there's still that slim chance that the "crazy" person may really be the sane person and we were all tricked. There are a few unanswered questions that make you wonder.
This movie is worth watching for the cinematography alone, it's all black and white and the lighting is fantastic. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Apprentice To Murder Trailer 1987

The last few Saturdays were spent at painting competitions and I didn't set up any posts to have ready while I was gone so now I'll play catch up. The trailer for this movie makes it look REALLY creepy. In parts it really is creepy but mostly I walked away asking myself, what exactly were those Pennsylvania Dutch smoking back in the day? 
At first it looks like a cheap made for TV movie, the kind that used to come on late afternoon on a Saturday and you'd watch only if it were hailing outside or the other kids were trying to shoot you with their BB guns and you went indoors for safety. It says it's based on a true story, which usually hooks me. I'm a sucker for those kinds of stories.
 The eerie music really makes this movie up until you near the end of it. Before that it's more of a pervy kinda creepy and not a scary/horror kinda creepy. Donald Sutherland plays John Reese, a "powwow" medicine man.  Basically he's like a cult leader who seems to believe in his own powers to heal. He takes a liking to Billy Kelly, played by Chad Lowe. Billy is an aspiring artist and John teaches him to read and how to practice the "powwow" medicine. It's really unclear who the evil person is in this movie and it ends without ever really telling you, it's just that bizarre.  It's absolutely worth watching just to see a man spit fire.  
At the end of the movie it states that Billy Kelly and his wife Alice, played by Mia Sara in the movie, lived happily ever after in Philadelphia where he became a successful commercial artist. I tried to look up information on this story and Billy Kelly but didn't get anything. 
As far as horror movies go, this one isn't bloody and gory but it gets you thinking and has its moments of suspense. My favourite line in the movie, "The Lord loves artists, Billy". 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Trailer: I Bury the Living (1958)


This Saturday is "I Bury the Living" from 1958 starring Richard Boone. It begins with Boone's character getting the rundown of his inheritance, the Immortal Hills Cemetery.  He runs a department store but this year he's been given the task of being director of the cemetery. There's a very elaborate map that shows the cemetery, where an occupied space is it has a black pin, and the space with the white pins are not occupied but spoken for.  It's quite possible this is how cemeteries actually work in real life, it seems like such a strange business to be in. Robert Kraft (Boone)  gets a strange feeling that pushing those pins in the map is somehow a curse or oddball coincidence that people are dying when he pushes in the pins.
It's a typical black and white horror film, lots of suspense, a pretty damsel in distress and tons of foreshadowing. Stephen King refers to this movie in one of his books, "The Bazaar of Bad Dreams".  Apparently when he wrote the story "Obit", a story about a guy who could kill people by writing their obituary, he had this movie in mind. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Chaos and the Undertaker

In an attempt to refresh this blog, I'm going to start by bringing back my Saturday Screamfest. I used to do a yearly Halloween "special" where I'd recommend horror movies and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This time around though, I'm going to share all of the movies, not just the ones I thought were good.

The Undertaker and His Pals, maybe you should watch this twice. It was released in 1966 and is labeled as a horror comedy.  IMDb has it at 4.9/10 stars.  Perhaps you just have to be in the right mood to watch it and appreciate it. It's low budget which probably gives it it's low rating. As far as entertainment value it's at least an 8/10. The whole time I watched it I thought, with all of the movie remakes that don't need to be remade this one should be.  It could actually be a really good movie with some better quality film and effects.
It's a strange story that doesn't make much sense until about half way through.  Young, single women are turning up murdered and a shady undertaker is scamming the victim's families. That is a story that could be well developed on it's own but that's not the "meat" of this movie.  Two guys running a diner are what the movie is really about. At first it seems it's the way they're cutting costs for the restaurant, but it's even more strange.  The cook is a nut job trying to become a surgeon or something. He's practicing surgery on these women for what reason, it wasn't really clear. Real life horror rarely gets a straightforward explanation so why should it in the movies? The sound quality is crap, the acting is mediocre, the music is fun and it's only 63 minutes long so definitely worth watching. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

You're Now at DEFCON FOUR

So many people say they hate Math, the adding, subtracting and oh my God, FRACTIONS!  Seriously, there are people who will go out of their way to avoid doing any kind of math. What's so scary about math?
Well, the other day I was in line at the grocery store and it hit me, parents are putting the fear of numbers into kids heads right from the start. This little kid, maybe he was three years old, was being very cheeky.  He just wanted a bit of attention and he was fussing with the grocery bags and that sort of thing. This sort of behaviour was unacceptable to his mother so she started counting to him. "You're at ONE".  This was funny to me so I chimed in, "Uh oh, you're at one".  Couldn't wait to see what he would do to get to two. He started pulling on the rope that blocks off the aisle. "You're now at TWO".  He smiled and gave another tug. "NOW YOU'RE AT THREE".  Good lord woman, how high are you going to count? At this point I was starting to fear the numbers too and thought I had better get out of there. The kid didn't do anything wrong at number three it was just that he wasn't obeying his mother's commands. She wanted him to go round the counter and stand next to the cart. "YOU ARE NOW AT NUMBER FOUR".  No, really, how high was this woman going to count? I was very close to provoking that child to do something wrong just to see what happened when she hit five. Was her head going to launch off of her shoulders like a missile and annihilate us all? What was with these numbers?  I can only imagine what's going to happen to this child when he goes off to school.  The teacher asks him what two plus two is and he'll probably wet his pants.  10+10 is probably the equivalent of digging your own grave then throwing the dirt on top of yourself. The kid only made it to number four then straightened up and did what his mother told him to do.  Still, I find it hilarious that parents can put fear into their children's heads just by counting. Poor Count von Count.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cry, Baby, Cry

This past weekend I had the pleasure of going on a short tour of a very old theatre. I don't have the exact history of the building but the tour guides told me that the theatre began as an opera house back in the late 1800s. It then moved on to become a live theatre venue, then a movie theatre, then some sort of warehouse until it was lovingly restored to a movie theatre again. Some of the lights were original and the windows in the projection room are also original. One thing that was also preserved was the door to the cry room.
I've spent a fair amount of time in theatres but have never had the pleasure of being able to send a mother with a crying baby to a room where they'd no longer be seen nor heard. Seriously, the last time I went to a movie theatre a two year old was allowed to run around the dark theatre, unattended, while the movie was playing. Not only was that dangerous for the child's safety but it was incredibly annoying for the other patrons. They also strategically started screaming every time there was a quiet part in the movie. Don't get me started on what I thought of the parents who took their young child to The Wolf of Wall Street. Back to this cry room. From what I understood, the cry room was a place where mother's could take their children but there was still a window for them to watch the show, but it would muffle the sound of their upset child.  This particular theatre only had the evidence of where the window once was. It was covered over when converted to the projection room/office area.
After doing a quick search the cry room is still being put to good use in some theatres and churches. Unfortunately they just aren't in use at any of the theatres I frequent. So it got me thinking, when did they go out of fashion? According to this Mental Floss article cry rooms aren't the only thing to go out of fashion.  What happened to the movie going experience? It seemed like it was such a formal experience to go watch a show, or "the pictures" as my grams would call them. Besides having to put up with crying babies some theatres now charge you a ticket price but it also includes popcorn and a soda. OK, that's not that huge of a deal, but what if I don't want soda and popcorn? You don't get a discount you just don't get the "free" junk food. Another theatre I go to assigns you seats. Well, technically you get to pick them but you don't just walk in a grab an empty chair. What kills me about that is, the theatre can be relatively empty and some weirdo will choose seats right next to you. Then  the theatre where I go the most barely gives you any sort of service. You can go to the concession stand and get popcorn and pay for everything else but that everything else you have to get yourself. Yea, they can't even take five seconds to grab you a box of Junior Mints, you have to do that yourself. It's a far cry from free pieces of china with your movie.
So the cry room is a new to me concept that I think is a genius idea. Can we get a cry room in every type of building or for every situation?  What other cry room type amenities are we missing out on? We could use sneeze/hack rooms for those obnoxious gross people who hack and insist on blowing their noses at the dinner table. We could have a shut the hell up room for those awful people who yell at their family members in public. We could use a check writing line for the old people at the grocery store who insist on waiting until the last item is rung up before they even put the date on their check. Also, why are you still writing checks at the grocery store?
So what do you think, should we bring the cry room back in fashion? We could probably all spend some quality time in a cry room from time to time.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Too Far

IT'S TOOOOO FARRRRRRR...
Not that long ago some friends and I were discussing things that are out of our control. Why do we do that? Why do we talk about the things that annoy us knowing full well that we have no way of changing the circumstances? It feels good to vent I s'pose. Our gripes were simple that day, we simply can't understand people who leave the house in their pajamas. It takes a minimum amount of effort to put on a pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt. Nobody's asking for a three piece suit, just put in a little effort and get out of the clothes you slept in. On the other hand, if you sleep nude and you put on clothes that look like pajamas we should be thanking you for that. At the end of our discussion we all agreed that people could be doing a lot worse things in this world and yes, there are those who do. But I posed this question, if we continue to just except this type of lazy behaviour then what's next? WHAT NEXT!?
Unfortunately I got my answer last week. I now know what's next and it's just another shade of lazy. My friends and I were in line at a cafe.  We ordered our food and stood in line waiting to pay and pick up our food at the end of the queue. As we waited I took notice of a group of teen aged girls sitting at a table. One of them had dropped a ten dollar bill on the floor underneath their table. Two of them looked at it then looked towards me with eyes pleading for me to pick it up for them. My eyes looked back in their direction with the expression that said, are you freaking kidding me?  The two girls then gave me a look of disapproval, like how dare I not pick up the money for them. (It's fun to have a conversation without actually saying a word) After many exchanges of facial expressions one of the girls attempted to pick up the money. She slightly bent over then gave up. "It's too far away", she panted. She even made an excuse about how the chair was preventing her from bending over far enough to reach it. As if she were strapped in with a seat belt or something. The girl who dropped the money gave this girl an even angrier look than she gave me and finally moved her chair back, ducked under the table and grabbed her cash.
After we got our food and sat down I asked if anyone else had witnessed what had happened.  I was the only one but they laughed and asked why I didn't pick up the money. Some of them said they would have kept the money. It would have served them right if someone had taken the money, like some sort of lazy person's excise tax or something. You're over your limit of laziness for the day, that'll be $10.  The funniest comment was, I bet they were trying to find an app on their phone that would pick it up for them.
What kind of lazy is this that you drop money and look towards a stranger to pick it up for you? Some might say I should've just been nice and picked it up for her. Perhaps if she were 102 years old and incapable of getting out of her chair to pick up her money from under her own feet, but she wasn't.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nice, Not Nice

A friend gifted me a box of books and it was a treasure trove of illustrated covers. I could have just enjoyed the cover art but curiosity got the better of me and I had to start reading them.  The first book I chose was, The Indiscreet Confessions of a Nice Girl, written by Anonymous. There is little to no information available about the book, other than it was originally published in 1935 by William Godwin Inc. No information on who 'Anonymous' really was.
Considering the book was originally published in 1935 it makes this book even more head scratching.  When I began reading the first thought that came to me was, this nice girl is anything but. She begins by describing how she was not only the girlfriend of a married man but she was the type of girl who would pick up random guys at parties and not remember their names the next day. As it goes on she introduces us to her friend. This friend assures her that in order to know if a man is worth marrying he should already be married. In other words, she should only try to marry a man who is currently married. Considering she's spending mornings and random lunch breaks with a married man she should have no trouble finding a married man.
Reading further into the book it occurred to me that the word nice is clearly undefined, or it's quite possible that I have no idea what the word nice means. This girl obviously considers herself one of the nice ones. What is nice?  Has the definition of nice changed since the 1930s?  Perhaps there are too many opinions about what the word means. Perhaps the word has been misconstrued in the last few decades.
Reading this book and questioning what the word nice actually means it reminded me of this guy I dated back in college. When my friends asked me why I quit seeing him my answer was, he was too nice. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?  It meant that there was something off about him, being too nice felt like he had something to hide. Perhaps it's just my superpower to see through people's BS, but I could tell there was much more to his niceness. Much like Hansel and Grethel coming across a nice woman with a house made out of candy, there has to be something lurking behind that niceness. Those two discovered she was a witch and I eventually discovered this guy was only two weeks away from having a baby with a girl he went to high school with. In this case you might say too nice is sort of like too good to be true.
It's sad because it makes me sound completely jaded but I'm not. I truly have super powers. In all honesty intuition can take you pretty far in most cases. It still doesn't help me get to the bottom of this word nice. The protagonist clearly thinks of herself as a nice girl. She never sees any fault in her behaviour. If anything ever goes wrong it's on the other person. When one of the many men she dated turned out to be dating five other girls it turned out that he was the snake, in her eyes.  Never mind that she was still having an affair with a married man and plotting and scheming how she could get married to someone else she hasn't met yet. After reading the book I have yet to find one nice thing about this nice girl. Perhaps I'm confusing the word nice with kind. Maybe this girl is nice but far from kind.
The dictionary's definition of nice is as follows; pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.  The definition of kind is; having or showing a friendly, generous and considerate nature.
There it is, she could quite possibly be a nice girl, but not kind. So this is more of an issue with the use of the English language and how it is evolving. How is it I've been alive this long and incorrectly using the word nice? That's an easy question to answer, it's because it's what I've been taught and I never questioned the definition until I picked up this book. What other words am I misusing? What words are you LITERALLY misusing?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Super Supper

Every year I have a Super Bowl party and every year I try to serve something different. One year it was pizza, not creative but easy, and one year was brisket, etc. This year I decided to try my hand at Maid-Rites. Maid-Rites seem to be a local term and others call it "loose meat" sandwiches. Loose meat sounds like a really bad Ron Jeremy movie so we'll stick to calling them Maid-Rites.
Searching for a recipe for Maid-Rites gave similar results so I chose one at random. At first I thought it would be simple, brown the ground beef, throw in some onions and salt and pepper, but the recipes all called for a little more, so I took a chance and loosely (no pun intended) followed the recipes. The first problem I encountered, how much meat and what kind?  This is why I went to a local butcher shop and didn't just grab something off the shelf at a big box store. The young men at the butcher shop were very helpful but weren't afraid to look to their fellow female meat cutter when they couldn't answer all of my questions.  First up, how much meat to get? One young man said you should consider 1/4 lb per person. After he said that it made sense, most restaurants serve 1/4 lb burgers so yea, that's a good portion. Then there was the choice of meat. They had three choices of ground beef; ground chuck, ground round and ground sirloin. Which one would make good Maid-Rites? The pleasant woman suggested ground round. After looking it up I learned that ground round comes from the hind leg, which is a little leaner than the chuck, which comes from the more fatty shoulder. The ground round ended up being really good, as it was just the Goldilocks amount of fat to keep the meat from drying out.
Here is the recipe I ended up using:
3 pounds of ground round
1 1/2 C warm water
2 Tbsp french onion soup mix
1 tsp beef bouillon, or one cube
1 tsp chicken bouillon, or one cube
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Add the water and all of the ingredients except the meat into a crock pot and set to high.  Stir until everything is dissolved and mixed well. Then add the meat and stir well, making sure the meat is all coated.  Let cook on high for 4 hours. Stir often to prevent the meat from clumping. I think I stirred it every 30 minutes or so but it probably didn't need it that much.

The ingredients list sounded so bizarre to me when I first read it but these were the best Maid-Rites I've ever had. If you're familiar with Maid-Rites you may have tried a Cheese-Rite which is just a Maid-Rite with, wait for it, Cheez Whiz.  Melt some Cheez Whiz and put it on a bun and oh my God, it's so good.
Maybe the half-time show was lame, the commercials were boring and the Falcons blew a huge lead but the food made it worth it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Princess Pickles

It's hard to believe it's almost been 12 years since I brought Pickles home from the humane society. She was so teeny tiny when Petey and I went to rescue her from jail. When we got her we had no idea she had so many health issues but she's the best and has the biggest most loving heart. She loves everybody and I can't even imagine a life without her.
Getting back to her health issues, she has hip dysplasia, which is managed with glucosamine, and some severe allergies. She not only has environmental allergies she has food allergies. Because of these allergies she's on a medication called Apoquel, for environmental allergies, and a special diet of kangaroo and oats. Some people think this is ridiculous and that Pickles is just a "princess" and gets babied. Pickles is my best friend and I take her health very seriously so yes, I spend a lot of money on her special needs and ignore the haters.
Yesterday I ordered more food from her veterinary clinic and they informed me that they were no longer going to keep it in stock. Apparently there are less expensive alternatives that other people are choosing for their dogs with special diets. The thing with Pickles is she's tried every limited ingredient food out there and the kangaroo and oats are the only thing she will continue to eat. She started out on fish and potatoes and although her coat was extra shiny, her puppy breath turned to dead fish breath. I was actually glad she decided she no longer wanted to eat that stuff. Anywho, the news was kind of a kick to the shin because I didn't know where I was going to get the food she'll actually eat. Luckily someone told me about Chewy.com  I normally don't bother with sites like this or Barkbox, etc.  because of her allergies. I'd love to be able to get a box of treats every month and let her eat and be merry but she usually eats and blows up like a strawberry.  So Chewy.com saved my life and will also be saving me about $25 a month. Yes, I can continue to get Pickles's food and at a much lower price than the vet's. Not only that it gets dropped off on my doorstep. I ordered a bag yesterday and Fedex just dropped it off.  I'm not even sure it was a full 24 hours from when I ordered. On top of all of that I found some treats she can actually eat. They have kangaroo treats, which are like jerky and smells horrible, but she tried one and is one happy pibble.
Lucky for me, and the bank account, I didn't have enough time to browse the full selection on the site but it looks like there's a lot of ways to spoil your best friend on there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Know it all at Alison

El sol
The quest for knowledge took me to the Alison site. It boasts over 750 online courses, many which you can get a certificate or use towards a diploma. Obviously I was curious as to how good these free courses are. I figured one of the best ways to test the waters was to take a course that I would be sure to pass, Introduction to Spanish.
It was easy to sign up, and there are several easy ways to sign up for an account. If you have a google, facebook, yahoo, Hotmail or Linkedin you can use any of those accounts to sign up. If you don't you can create an account. The Intro to Spanish was posted by the Global Text Project that comes from the University of Georgia. It said it had 81,866 other students, would take 1-2 hours, study at your own pace, zero cost and you can get a certificate upon successfully completing the course.
It was broken down into six modules and even though it's free, there are ads that play before you begin each module. S'pose they have to pay the bills somehow. The modules also use Flash, so if you have a flash blocker you'll need to disable.
This was a basic course in Spanish but I found it very thorough. It gave you beginning Spanish lessons with very helpful vocabulary and most important some basic grammar rules. There was no video but there was audio with someone speaking the dialogue. Most of them used the Castilian lisp and one sounded like she was trying out to be the next WHASSSUUUUPPPPP guy in those old Budweiser commercials. She almost made the whole course worth taking.
There was a module that was supposed to teach how to type Spanish accents which I was excited about because I never know how to do that. Unfortunately none of this information worked for me. It's just easier to set up your keyboard to do the accents if you need them.
The course said I could print out a certificate upon successfully completing the course, which meant a passing grade of at least 80%.  I got a 95% because I messed up the question on putting the days of the week in order, I didn't read the part that said starting with Monday. Anywho, so I passed and went to print out my certificate but NOPE, there was no certificate. What I did get was five e-mails telling me I could print one out. Then I received another e-mail telling me that I could print out my certificate for $10. Since I know how to speak Spanish and don't need a piece of paper that tells me so I skipped that.  Unfortunately after signing up and successfully completing a course I'm now getting e-mails from Alison every day. Aside from that the first course went well.
Now if they just had a course to teach me how to like avocado and onions.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Here's to a Knowledgeable New Year

Just before the new year rolled around I came across an article that boasted how you could learn new skills in an afternoon. Of course I was curious. Who wouldn't want to learn something new and at such an accelerated pace? After the initial excitement of "something new" wore off I continued to read the article and laugh at myself for falling for such a scam. Sure you could learn any of the skills but not in ONE afternoon and not for free. Sadly this article had me hooked on the idea that I needed to learn something new and learn it RIGHT NOW.  Since none of their suggestions were going to get me there I searched for a place that would help feed the need. https://alison.com/learn/ was the answer I was looking for. This site states that it has 750 online courses in various subjects, some that you can even print out a diploma or certificate of completion when you've successfully finished the course. Some of these courses even come from prestigious schools such as Harvard and Yale. The one drawback, some of the information is old. That sounds silly because most information is old but in the age of technology it's tough to take a course using a specific software. For example, if you're using Photoshop and the material is ten years old, the info is old. Still usable but recent updates may make it difficult to follow along. Either way I'm going to attempt to work my way through some of the more interesting sounding courses. Data Analysis and Typing aren't high on the list, but I look forward to learning French and Carpentry among others. I'll keep you posted on how many diplomas I print out throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Whipping My Way into the New Year

2016 was filled with adventure and lots of fun. It's hard to sit here and think of one new thing I tried that I didn't like. Perhaps trying to brush the beagle's teeth with an electric toothbrush would land on the list of things I tried but will never attempt again, but that's about it. Hopefully 2017 will be just as adventurous and fun.
It only seems fitting to share a few of my favourite things from 2016.  First up is meringue. I had never attempted to make meringue before in my life and was completely intimidated. It looks really difficult and on top of that, people who already know how to make meringue do their utmost to make it seem like an impossible task.  You know the type, they try to make something seem incredibly difficult simply so you'll sing them praises. For all we know those people buy it at the store and pretend they made it themselves. Anywho, I'm here to tell you that as long as you have an electric mixer there's absolutely zero difficulty involved. I'm so glad I decided to not be intimidated by meringue because it turned out to be one of the most successful Christmas "cookies" I've ever made.
Here is the link to the recipe that I decided to try. I ended up having to make this twice because the first time I around I forgot to put in the powdered sugar. WHOOPS! Except it didn't make that much of a difference.  The second time around I did add more lemon though and that did make a difference. Since I wasn't sure I would even be able to make the meringue I didn't want to spend a lot of money on the rest of the materials and I bought the Cake Mate brand disposable piping bags.  I highly recommend you don't bother with them. I think a regular plastic freezer bag would have worked just as well, so maybe spring for a more reputable brand piping bag and tip. In order to put the yellow stripes on the bag I used a chopstick. I simply coated the stick in the gel colouring and drug it up the sides of the bag and it worked really well. Just a word of warning these are highly addictive. Now that I'm no longer intimidated by making meringue I'll try this same recipe with different flavours. Coconut, lime, raspberry, the possibilities are endless.

The favourite book I read this year, The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. I've read a lot of very, very good books this year but this one tops anything I've read in quite awhile. I'm not going to go into too much depth on it because it presents itself in a way for you to form your own opinion. Basically it's about the study of animals and how much we don't know.  I was just discussing this book with friends the other day and one brought up the idea that maybe humans are just scared of the thought that we're not the smartest animal on the planet.
One of my favourite things I got was this Lomography Konstruktor 35 mm camera. I put it together myself! Seriously, all on my own and it actually works. Maybe 2017 will bring me my own darkroom so I can have even more fun with this. 
With only four days into the new year I haven't yet compiled a list of things I'd like to try. I know I'll be taking several fun road trips and going on lots of new adventures but as far as meringue and attempting the impossible, I'll have to wait and see what comes my way.