Sunday, November 30, 2014

Some thoughts on the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Teaser

I'm sure everyone has seen this by now, but it won't hurt to post it in one more place.




I still remember when the teasers and trailers for the new trilogy were being released, and this one seems, different, somehow. Granted, this was just a teaser, so we don't really get any story details, but what we do see has certainly piqued my interest.


My first question is, who is this guy, and what has him so frightened? From the little bit that I've read, at least part of the movie will take us back to Tatooine. So, there are any number of things, from Krayt Dragons to Sandpeople, that this guy could be worried about . Also, if he is actually in the employ of the Empire, it seems that they've exhausted their clone army and are actually taking recruits now. I seem to remember that being the case in the original trilogy, so I'm sure they definitely need warm bodies now, 30 years after Return of the Jedi.


Here we have another shot on Tatooine, this time of a tiny wheeled droid speeding through what appears to be a used spacecraft lot. He sounds a bit like R2, what with his worried sounding beeps and his nervous nature. Again, we have a character that looks like its on the run from something, but what?


The Stormtroopers are back, and going by this pic, I have a good feeling the clone army is no more. Check out the fourth guy back, and you can see how much taller he is compared to his comrades. I'm digging the new helmets as well. They look less bulky and more streamlined than the older versions, and seem to take some cues from the Clone Wars troopers. The eyepiece is a bit more intimidating, and it actually reminds me of a scene in "Saving Private Ryan" where the Germans' helmets shaded their eyes, making them look almost inhuman. I'm just hoping the quality of the Stormtrooper armor has improved, along with their aim.


Yet another scene on Tatooine. It seems like the desert planet is to Star Wars what New York City is to the Marvel Universe. Everything happens there. It's also another shot of someone either rushing to or away from something else. Everybody is in a hurry in this movie. I'm not sure who this girl is, but I'm going to guess it's one of Han and Leia's kids. Han was quite the racer in his youth, so it would make sense for at least one of his kids to take after him. That speeder actually reminds me of the engines used on the pod racers from the first prequel. It's basically all engine with a seat and controls, but no weapons. That leads me to believe it's just for personal transportation or racing. The speeder bike scene in Return of the Jedi is one of my favorite parts of the original trilogy, so I'm a little anxious to see if there will be something similar in Episode VII.


This is easily my favorite scene from the teaser. The X-Wing is one of my favorite fighters from the Star Wars universe, so it's nice to see them again. There appear to be some minor changes to the design, such as how the wings come together, but it still looks like the classic ship that I've grown to love. The best part about this clip is that we get to see a planet other than Tatooine. I don't know exactly where they are, but there's just something awesome watching a squad of X-Wings kicking up spray as they skim the water. I've seen some complaints about the Rebels using fighters that are at least 30 years old by this point, but then the US and other countries are still using planes designed almost 40 years ago. And none of our stuff is anywhere near as awesome as an X-Wing.


Gee, I wonder if this guy is evil? The Star Wars universe isn't exactly known for its subtlety, and there's no better example of this than the Sith. There are some exceptions to the rule, but in most cases in this world, black and red means bad guy. We never get any clues to this guy's identity in the short time we see him, but going by his body language, he looks rather determined to track someone down. The way he powers up that lightsaber gives me the impression that he may have found them.

Speaking of that lightsaber, I'm loving the design. I know some folks are calling it impractical, but I think practicality has always taken a back seat to intimidation when it comes to Sith lightsaber designs. I'm particularly fond of how "dirty" the blade looks. No longer is it a featureless beam of light. Now it's jagged and more flame-like. I like it.


Last, and certainly not least, we get a little clip of the Millennium Falcon performing some evasive maneuvers on what can only be Tatooine. Again. I know Han is a good pilot an all, but I actually wonder if he's the one flying in these scene. I know Luke is quite the pilot, and he's got that whole Force thing behind him, so perhaps he's the one in the captain's chair? Either way, they're pulling off some fancy flying for a ship with no wings in the atmosphere.

The presence of the Tie Fighters raise a few questions as well. Even with the destruction of the Emperor and the Death Star, it seems like there could still be a lot of Imperial Forces scattered throughout the galaxy. But, with the Emperor gone, who is leading them now?


The teaser did its job, and got me excited to see the next trailer. I've always been hard on the prequel movies, but honestly, I can find something I like in all of them. From the little bit I've seen, it looks like the continuation of the series is in the hands of someone more than capable of making Star Wars great again.

So, I'll just be sitting here waiting patiently for December 15, 2015 to get here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lance Pumpkin Cheesecake Nekot Cookie Sandwiches

I know Christmas commercials have already started airing, and you're all chomping at the bit for Black Friday, but it's still Fall, dammit! And that means pumpkin related foods are still fair game. With that in mind, I present to you, Lance's Pumpkin Cheesecake Nekot Cookie Sandwiches.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thomas' Cranberry English Muffins



I'll admit, cranberries are rarely my first choice when it comes to small spherical fruits.That honor almost always goes to blueberries. Still, I can buy foods stuffed with blueberries any day of the week. Cranberry infused baked goods aren't exactly common, so I couldn't help myself when I stumbled across the Thomas' Limited Edition Cranberry English Muffins.


The packaging on Thomas' English Muffins never had much real estate, so they had to get creative in order to stand out from all the other packs of baked hockey pucks. I actually love everything about this tray, from the cranberry laden muffin half, to the fruit bunch just under it. Speaking of that bunch of cranberries on the side there, at first glance I thought it was the top of a Christmas tree. It wasn't until I got them home that I realized it was just a cluster of berries. Look at it from the corner of your eye and tell me you don't see a Christmas tree there. I love how the writing reminds me of the title of a DVD of a straight to Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. Actually, I wouldn't be that  surprised to learn  Limited Edition: Cranberry was the name of an actual Hallmark movie. It could be about two people that get together due to their mutual love for seasonal holiday foods. Starring Harry Connick Jr. and Lauren Holly, probably.

Also, I have to mention that the entire package is the same color as eggnog. Thomas' covered all of their subliminal bases with this packaging.




As with all foods, Thomas' Cranberry English Muffins aren't nearly as beautiful as they are on the box. The muffins may not look pretty, but there's no denying that they are just loaded full of cranberries. Open the package, and you'll think you just stepped into the middle of a cranberry bog. There's a hint of citrus that brings back memories of the Panettone my parents used to buy from a local Italian eatery. I really don't like raisins hiding in my bread, but if you substituted cranberries in there, I would probably devour the whole thing. I'll be the first to admit, Thomas' English Muffins look rather unappetizing right out of the box. Sure, you could eat them untoasted, but what kind of savage are you? No, to properly enjoy them, they need some toaster time..


Now that's gorgeous. A couple minutes in the toaster, and they go from being pale and chewy to crispy golden brown discs of deliciousness. Even the nooks and crannies seem to open up, allowing them to really hold on to all that butter you are going to slather on top. I don't know if it's from being cooked in a toaster, but the cranberries seem fresh, rather than dried. The muffins have a slightly citrus-y flavor, without the sourness I usually expect from cranberries. If you're the type that likes some fruit on top of your muffins, you can probably hold the jelly with these. Speaking of toppings..


It's not exactly Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner leftovers, but it's close enough. Throw some leftover turkey on there, with some stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and you have the makings of a mini holiday feast. There's just enough cranberry flavor in the muffins that you can leave off the cranberry sauce, and save yourself some mess.

So go out and get yourself a pack of Thomas' Cranberry English Muffins. They're the only way you'll be able to enjoy a McThanksgiving.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Christmas soda? Sprite Cranberry Zero



I'll be the first to admit, I'm not a fan of Sprite. I hear it's great for hangovers, but it tastes one step removed from regular seltzer water. It's not something I actively avoid, but it's also not my first choice in carbonated fizzy drinks. Still, I'm a sucker for season specific food stuffs, so there's no way I could resist having at least one or two cans.



I've always had trouble discerning whether cranberry is a Thanksgiving or Christmas specific flavor, and I honestly still have no clue. I know cranberry sauce is a staple of both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day dinners, but I feel like neither holiday has really claimed it like Halloween has with pumpkin. Sprite doesn't come right out and say this is supposed to be a Christmas edition, but there's no arguing with that color scheme. The only thing missing is Santa Claus dancing around a lit Christmas Tree while snowmen and polar bears look on. I guess they could have wrapped some cranberries around that lymon up there, too, but then it might end up looking like a diseased fruit. Besides, do cranberries even wrap around things?



A drink that sounds as fancy as Sprite Cranberry Zero deserves to be drunk out of a fancy glass. So I took one of my finest goblets and poured out a can. Right away, I was hit with a slight aroma of cranberry. I can't say I was instantly transported to a winter wonderland, but I thought I might have heard jingling bells off in the distance.


This is one time I wish Sprite had thrown a little coloring in their formula. Even dark sodas like Cherry Coke and Pepsi manage to have a reddish tint, so it wouldn't have been hard for Sprite to toss a little red dye in the mix. I'm not talking a deep OceanSpray red, but a light pink would have been nice. The cranberry flavor mixes nicely with the lymon, with neither one really overtaking the other.  I'm betting it would make a great mixed drink, with some dried cranberries and an ounce or so of vodka mixed in. Or, make a big batch in a punch bowl, call it a Cranberry Smash, and watch your uncle get so trashed he hits on your girlfriend.

Of course, if your family is anything like mine, your uncles won't need any alcohol to start hitting on your fiance.

So, buy lots of Sprite Cranberry Zero and mix it with alcohols. Your family will love you for it.


Monday, November 3, 2014

October Leftovers


Yet again, I only managed to cover about half the things I wanted to talk about this Halloween season. That being the case, I had a lot of leftovers that I wasn't about to let go to waste. This was a banner season for Pumpkin flavored junk food, and this stuff is just a small fraction of what was out there. There isn't much new about my pile of junk food, since I'm sure it's all been covered ad nauseum on numerous other blogs, but I guess there's room for one more quick look at Halloween and Fall themed goodies.


Kelloggs Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts

These certainly aren't a new item, but it's my first time having them. As the years go on, I'm finding companies like Kelloggs are getting better at reproducing off the wall flavors. Depending on the variety, Pop-Tarts can be hit or miss when it comes to how accurately they represent their flavors. Still, even when they're off, they're still on, know what I mean?


They look like every other variety of Pop-Tarts; They have a pastry crust, white frosting, and sprinkles. Kelloggs actually used fall colored sprinkles, and you could be forgiven for thinking your toaster pastries have been covered in candy corn shavings. There's no mistaking it, these are for Fall, and Fall only.


Thankfully, the flavor actually lives up to the name on the box. It definitely tasted like Pumpkin Pie, perhaps even a bit spicier. I have to admit, I never tried them cold, as I've found just about every Pop-Tart is better after a good browning in the toaster.



Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses

I was a little apprehensive about trying these at first, since I have yet to talk to anyone else that likes them. They have an intriguing aroma, reminding me of a cheap dollar store scented candle. There's definitely a scent of Pumpkin Spice, though it definitely smells artificial. The Kisses are  a bit waxier than normal, which only forces me to think of those small incense cones I always find at the flea market. The flavor on the other hand, is rather bearable. There's a layer of Pumpkin Spice flavored chocolate surrounding a smaller white chocolate Kiss. I discovered that  letting them melt in your mouth rather than chewing them up improves their flavor by a factor of 17. I kinda wish Hershey's has made the whole Kiss out of the Pumpkin Spice chocolate, but maybe orange food coloring was too expensive for all that.



Kraft Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice and Candy Corn Marshmallow

This is the first time that I've seen Kraft release marshmallows with flavors specific to one holiday. Sure, they've released chocolate and vanilla ghosts before, but those can hardly be considered Fall specific flavorings. This year, we have two different varieties to choose from; Candy Corn and Pumpkin Spice. The Candy Corn marshmallows definitely have the look, but they really lack any discernible smell or flavor. Opening the bag, I was greeted with the scent of plain old marshmallow. At first taste, I thought I could detect a bit of candy corn flavor, but I might have to chalk it up to the power of suggestion. I packed my mouth full and still wasn't able to pick up anything other than "marshmallow".  The Pumpkin Spice fared a bit better, and I was able to actually pick up the scent when I first opened the bag. The taste was a bit subdued, but I think that's a result of it being infused into a marshmallow. The marshmallows also have a suitably wrinkled looked, and if they had faces on them, they would make great evil Jack O-Lanterns for your Halloween food diorama.



Turkey Hill Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Turkey Hill has the honor of being the only pumpkin ice cream I was able to find in my little corner of nowhere. Even if I had found other brands' take on ice creamed pumpkin pie, I'd probably still name this one king of the freezer. The ice cream itself has a great flavor, but the cinnamon graham cracker swirl is what puts this one over the top. My first taste of that swirl immediately threw my tongue into seizures, it was so overcome by its deliciousness. I wish Turkey Hill sold the swirl by itself, because I would gladly plop down in a chair with a carton and a spoon. If they had included bits of pie crust and swirls of whipped cream in the ice cream, I would forsake all other foods and eat Pumpkin Pie ice cream for the remainder of what would inevitably be a very short life.

With all this pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice food scraps lying around, I thought I should put it to good use. Since I already had a bowl of ice cream sitting there, I started prepping some toppings.


Much like with Thanksgiving leftovers, I just chopped everything up, and tossed them on top of the mashed potat..err..ice cream.


Okay, so I probably should have started and stopped with the Pop-Tart crumbs, but I'm a firm believer in using all parts of the animal. No junk food left behind.

Thus ends the Halloween season. It was a fun one, but like always, it went by way too fast. Now it's time to get ready for the season of Cringle, my other favorite time of the year. It should be full of food, toys, movies, stories, and most of all, fun.


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