Sammy the Seal

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Strawberry kiwi shortcake

In delicious, vinyl on Monday, 30 January, 2012 at 11:36

Song: Strawberries
Artist: Asobi Seksu
Album: Citrus

Sounds great live. I was rather indifferent until seeing them. Pretty rocking. Aww, fun memories. Anyway, I can’t remember which came first, the song or the dessert idea, maybe they were concurrent. I suppose I coulda gone classic, without the kiwi, but I saw it on sale, so why not. I mean, strawberry kiwi flavors exist in candy, drinks, etc. I just wanted to be different, I suppose. The entire process was surprisingly easy and quick, though the cream needs to be whipped and refrigerated a couple of hours beforehand so it can set. So:

2 c flour
½ t salt
1 t baking soda
¼ c sugar
½ c cold butter, sliced
1 egg, beaten
¾ c buttermilk (or, 2 T vinegar, with milk added to make 3/4 c– let curdle for five minutes)
1 c heavy cream, whipped (sweetened with 1 T superfine sugar)
1 pound kiwi, peeled and sliced thinly
1 pound strawberry, hulled and sliced thinly

I blended the flour, salt, soda, and sugar, then cut in the butter until there were only tiny lumps. I then mixed the egg and buttermilk, then poured it all into the flour mixture and stirred until there was no loose flour lying about. It was rather wet and sticky, and hard to form, so I plopped it all out into eight mounds onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Perhaps next time I use a spoon instead of hands. The bake went for twenty minutes at 375°, the biscuits should be a light/pale brown on top. Let cool a bit. When serving, slice the biscuit in two near the bottom, then add sliced fruit, then whipped cream on top, then put the top of the biscuit back on. Then photograph and/or eat it.

I was going to add a glaze on top, sprinkled with demerara sugar, but forgot to bring the sugar to my destination. Oh well. Also, I thought about decreasing the liquid or increasing the flour for next time, to make for a more stiff, less amorphous dough, but the biscuits came out fine, despite the difficulty of portioning out. I also added about a tablespoon of sugar to the strawberry and kiwi before tossing them together. I might add a little more next time, I actually could’ve gone with sweeter. Same with the whipped cream, maybe a little more sugar. I don’t like to overdo it with sweetness, but a little more could’ve been done with. That aside, I was pleased. Very pretty they are.

strawberry kiwi shortcake 1

strawberry kiwi shortcake 2

strawberry kiwi shortcake 3

strawberry kiwi shortcake 4


“I don’t know, but it can’t be this”

In celluloid on Saturday, 28 January, 2012 at 22:14

Thank goodness– again, I didn’t know what I was going to do. It’s hard to find clips that don’t have potential spoilers. As always, you come up with something overlooked and unexpected, like so many other moments. There’s no one-liners, no posing, no cool, no flash to the scene. Just two favorite characters, Cutty and Slim Charles, holding it down. Of course, it’s hard to understand if you haven’t been on board with the story and the characters since the beginning of the series, but if you have, you know how much heart is in here. This scene exemplifies one of the cornerstones of the show, to me, anyway, which is that you can’t typify people, because you don’t know where they are from. Just because you think you know someone or something doesn’t mean you do.  Authority does not automatically equal good, street does not always equal thug. If you want to presume upon a person’s character from a cursory glance, just make sure to do so in your head, unless you want to open yourself to criticism, or expose yourself as closed-minded.

What’s impressive about the power of this scene, other than its simplicity, is knowing the context. The two soldiers here have just come from a hit, where one of them dropped a fucking 12- or 13-year-old kid, and yet, I am still moved– by the responsibility, the honesty, the respect, and, above all, the heart. The world may seem cold and shitty, but it can’t snuff out every flame.

Butter-less cinnamon cocoa raisin banana bread

In delicious on Friday, 27 January, 2012 at 14:07

In ascending order of ingredient prevalence. After the disappointments for easy concoctions of last week (excuse: I was ill, hence I was distracted), I feel good and proud to make something mostly successful, especially when trying something new. It’s not too drastic a change, I’d just been wanting to replace butter with applesauce for a while, save my heart some trouble in the future. But, baking relies on a balance of lipids, carbohydrates, waters, emulsifiers, etc., so you can’t go willy-nilly in taking out something as prominent as fats, blind to possible effects. That being said, I might make my quick fruit breads this way from now on. The replacement was made 1:1, with a little more soda thrown in due to the increase of fruit and, consequently, acid, with the rest being a kitchen sink approach that I usually refrain from– cocoa (I had a teeny amount to get rid of, which was bugging me, since I don’t use choco too often, for personal reasons), cinnamon (why not?), raisins (I didn’t have any nuts, and also, why not?). Except for the one cup of sugar, this is pretty damn healthy, and I didn’t notice much of a difference in taste– i.e., I didn’t miss the butter one bit. And here I’ve been, for years, suffering and subjecting others to chest pains for nothing!

3 bananas, mashed good
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c applesauce
2/3 c mixed jumbo raisins (bigger ones chopped in half)
1.5 c, less 2 T, flour
2 T cocoa powder
1.5 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 superfine sugar
1/2 c brown sugar

In one bowl, stir the banana, egg, applesauce, and raisins. In another, sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, and cinnamon, then mix the sugar into the flour mixture. Stir the dry ingredients into the moist just until no loose flour remains. Bake in a loaf pan at 350° for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I was quite afraid that the added water in the applesauce might result in gooey innards and that I’d regret not adding a little more flour because of all the moisture, and that I’d have to leave it in longer (normal bake time is 55-60), which would in turn increase the risk of a tough crust, but fortunately, all turned out fine. If you like moist bread, this is for you, though I personally would add a little more flour. The bread came out darker than I expected, I guess two tablespoons cocoa is enough. Because of that, the final product is not terrible photogenic, just lots of brownness with raisins interspersed. But it’s tasty, that’s the best you can hope for.

banana raisin cocoa cinnamon sliced 1

banana raisin cocoa cinnamon sliced 2

banana raisin cocoa cinnamon slices 1

banana raisin cocoa cinnamon slices 2

“I stank I can, I stank I can”

In vinyl, You're a kitty! on Thursday, 26 January, 2012 at 21:20

Song: Humble Mumble
Artist: Outkast featuring Erykah Badu
Album: Stankonia

Ah, 2000, the days when the music press all saying how Stankonia was here to save hip-hop, even if it didn’t really need to be saved. And still fresh. Overshadowed by all the singles, not to mention stashed in the middle of the album, but sleep on it no more. I love Andre’s opening, that “oo-hoo” is hilarious. But the joker is quite capable of putting stereotypers in their place, as well: “…she thought hip-hop was only guns and alcohol… don’t discrimihate ’cause you done read a book or two.” Yeah, there are plenty of people like that. Snaps aside, it’s empowering too, talk about freedom and self-expression, work your dreams, roll with the punches– to borrow from another song, “make a fat diamond out of dusty coal.” Hell, Big Boi’s whole verse is one big rah-rah:

“Life is like a great big roller coaster
everything in life don’t happen like it’s supposed to
trials and tribulations make you stronger, live longer
you wanna reach the nation, nigga, start from ya corner
everything in life don’t always happen like you planned it
demand it, overstand it, then you handle it
fuck wishing, you missing the ambition on your mission
now you switching– why you quitting, ’cause it’s heated in the kitchen?”

One love, thank you, sir. Normally, “positive” hip-hop borders on cheesy and touchy-feely, which is why you keep it funky like this– then you got real power. Everyone’s on point. Hold off on the dancing at first, though, you gotta wait until 1:36 to get down and cut loose. What a great track. Feel it, yow!


“What’s this back fat right here?”

In funny ha ha on Wednesday, 25 January, 2012 at 21:47

Bless the person who put these up. First off, I freely admit how lame it is to be a fan of a nostalgia clip show with commentary. That said, I love this episode. I also admit I’m slightly biased, speaking as a child of the ’80s. The first half of the second installment (“Strikes Back”) of the 1980s is pretty solid all around. Here, you have Laura Branigan’s “Gloria”, The ToyThe Road Warrior, Wayne Gretzky, and The Beastmaster. Most everyone in this one has a couple of good lines, with Mo Rocca, Hal Sparks, Michael Ian Black, and especially Donal Logue with most of the highlights. And call me simple-minded, but I can’t get enough of using song clips as punchlines, e.g. Hall and Oates “I Can’t Go For That” (“I can’t go for that, noooooo!”) playing as the gay and S&M aspects of The Road Warrior are shown and discussed.

My favorites:

“Fame! I want to rip my t-shirt, exposing my nipples in the streets of New York!”

“Someone go buy four disco balls– small ones, though, don’t spend too much.”

“Oh, did this song suck. I don’t have to listen to crap just because I like to eat it.”

“The movie The Toy teaches you that money can’t buy you everything, but it can buy you a black man.” (great facial expression to end this line)

“Gee, maybe I am gay.”

“Tiger, you stand there. Ferret, you climb in his pants and bite his penis. Let’s go!”

“Check out my purple yellow KangaRoos®, wanna do it?”

“The kid with… the hair… looked like a mini-Ted Nugent…”

“I love his little itty-bitty gay mustache— what’s this back fat right here?”

“His chest is huge!”

“They put him in a sunglasses case and fired him into space!”

Yes I’m biased because I’m a child of the ’80s, but I still like this. Th

“One more, dudes, and then we’ll go for the triple crown– just watch”

In vinyl on Tuesday, 24 January, 2012 at 17:07

Song: Bandwitch
Artist: Broken Social Scene
Album: Broken Social Scene

It’s not that the act of writing siphons off a lot of energy when one is ill, it’s more the motivation, or actually, inspiration, that’s affected. The process is nothing, it’s getting started. I’m still getting over, which is why I’m intentionally playing a song that doesn’t really go anywhere, to save me the energy of having to write much. But, a song that doesn’t go much of anywhere nor have much form to speak of isn’t always an undesirable one. If nothing else, it can soothe: “it’s okay if you’re not feeling so dynamic, we’re taking it easy too. No place to be, no pressure, no hurry.”

“These bitches in here are no joke”

In celluloid, funny ha ha on Saturday, 21 January, 2012 at 22:52

Rather than showing more dramatic and ponderous material, I thought I’d get some light-hearted in here. The episode it’s from is pretty watershed itself, probably one of my favorites of all the seasons. I was thinking of a scene to put up, but spoilers and too much serious stood in my way. Then, a moment of “how could I forget that???” came to me.  As any fan of The Wire should tell you, it’s nigh impossible to single out any favorite episode, scene, line or moment, as there are so many to be found. If you asked someone about their favorite lines, I bet they’d forget this one. Even a top-ten list would be difficult, as this show is incredibly dense. A top-twenty might be possible. Anyway, this is yet another one to file under “that’s a good one, I forgot about that!”

For the record, the title of the video is incorrect. The stripper is not played by porn actress Nyomi Banxxx, it’s played by Toni Hunter. Either way, she’s a hoot. Despite my declaration last paragraph about the impossibility of superlatives, I think I can safely say here that she has the best cameo on the entire run. Two minutes of screen time as indelible for just one character would be hard to find. Of course, I could be wrong– this is The Wire.

“Things that seem so silly now once were everything I ever thought about”

In vinyl on Friday, 20 January, 2012 at 14:31

Song: All My Promises
Artist: The Mr. T Experience
Album: …And The Women Who Love Them EP

Unpolished? You could say that. Imperfect vocals and limited range? Technically, yes. Cleverly turned phrases? Yes, but who doesn’t try to be cute now and again? Fortunately, good, sincere writing shines and vindicates all. Dr. Frank’s voice is admittedly undistinguished and unsexy, but I’ll be damned if he couldn’t pen a memorable tune and honest lyrics when he wanted to. Uncomplicated as the sonic aesthetics of pop-punk may be, I’ll take a snappy song, with a bit of verve, over some quietly sung and played confessional style. Hell, it’s more uplifting at the very least, regardless of the subject matter.

Three things I’d like to note: the small, barely-there guitar flourishes in the second verse, the extremely subtle backing vocals on the “I’ve used up all my promises…” at the end of the second verse, and the harmonic echoes in the second stanza of each verse.

“I guess I should say thanks for having me
Now that I’ve been had, what have we got?
Something that survives
casts a shadow on our lives,
turns our promises to lies and second thoughts

We’ve got a lot of time to think it over (over)
to re-adjust our expectations even lower (lower)
I suppose we’ll think it over ’til we think it’s over (over)
I still think about you all the time

I guess I’ll straight out as everything progresses
I guess one day I’ll know what I’m supposed to do
From now on, I have to go on guesses
’cause I’ve used up all my promises on you

I wonder why I’m still waiting here
trying to turn everything around
and piece together how
things that seem so silly now
once were everything I ever thought about

You’d go crazy if you tried to take it all in (all in)
How far we’ve come, as opposed to how far we’ve fallen (fallen)
I wonder how long it’ll be ’til we start to call them (call them)
things we used to think long ago?

Whether they are failures or successes,
one day I’ll figure out what I’m supposed to do
But ’til then I have to go on guesses
’cause I’ve used up all my promises on you
yeah, I’ve used up all my promises on you”

“Yulia” revisited

In music videos, vinyl on Wednesday, 18 January, 2012 at 23:07

It’s a bit of a cheat to do a song I’ve already done, but the topic of space come up and also, I don’t think I had the lyrics up last time, which is the point here. I don’t need nor do I like when things/lyrics follow in a straight line and make perfect, nice, clean sense. I like having room for interpretation, as I find comfort in not knowing everything. On a similar note, music videos with slavish, literal representations of the lyrics stink– imagination, please. This here is an exception to both. The song alone is great, possibly my favorite thing they’ve ever done, but if you know the story of the lyrics, it’s sad enough on its own. But then, I’ll be damned if the literal dramatization of the video isn’t absolutely heartbreaking. Nothing much to get, just a cosmonaut who gets lost in space on a mission and spends his last moments thinking about his girl. Great little short story. Very affecting.

“Diamonds in the face of night time
Watch them as they float along
I was up there floating with them
And you know that I was gone
The radio sings a patriot song, it’s a devil that you know


We were standing on the platform
Favored (favorite?) sons of history
While you’re back in Prostronaya
Writing in your diary
They flip one switch at mission, and I’m never coming home


(Oh oh) I woke up from a fever dream
(Oh oh) of floating in a salty sea
I’m stranded up here
Drifting along
And my heart beats slow
And I hope they bring my body back


So when they turn the cameras on you
Baby, please don’t speak of me
Point up to the dark above you
As they edit me from history
I’m 20 million miles from my comfortable home, and space is very cold


There’s nothing out here, nothing out here”

“Spacelab…. spacelab….”

In vinyl, You're a kitty! on Tuesday, 17 January, 2012 at 23:17

Song: Spacelab
Artist: Kraftwerk
Album: The Man-Machine

I’d like to do a little sewing/mending, however, I’ve been cold and I’ve been moody, so I think I’d better just curl up like so and call it a night. While drifting through space might be nice, as long as I can have this kind of sweetly understated and awe-inspiring ambience, and come back safely.

falling asleep while cute 1

falling asleep while cute 2

falling asleep while cute 3

falling asleep while cute 4

falling asleep while cute 5

falling asleep while cute 6