Sunday, 22 February 2009

Walkers Crisps - New Flavours

What are Walkers thinking?

They've produced 6 new flavours of crisps, and are asking for votes for the one they take into production.

The Sparkly One and I tasted 3 of the flavours today, and I'll be writing to Walkers to tell them not to bother with any of them.

We had Cajun Squirrel first, which was quite ordinary, but turned out to be the least offensive of the flavours (perhaps because it's the most bland?). Disappointingly, it contains no squirrels, and very little cajun. Its ingredients list is not dissimilar to that of the Duck crisps, see below.

The second bag we tried was Crispy Duck and Hoisin, which tasted like stale parma violets. I had two crisps, just to make sure there wasn't something wrong with the first one, then put the pack beyond use. Horrible.

Finally, then, Chilli and Chocolate, which I was rather excited to try; Chocolate Chip and Chilli Cookies being one of my favourite own-brand recipes. So there's no fear about the sweet and the savoury here. But there is nothing good to report about this crisp: foul, sweet, horrid from the first to the last. In fact, the first and the last crisp were one and the same because these were so unpleasant that I didn't eat more than one.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Movie review: Mamma Mia!

Oh dear, where to begin?

The Sparkly One and I watched Mamma Mia! tonight, and I will say right now that there was a certain amount of "under sufferance" on my part, but there was absolutely no ill will. After all, it's a spectacularly successful film (the most successful Hollywood film musical ever, the most successful British-made film and the highest grossing film of all time in the UK), and I was intrigued to see why. I'll try anything once, with the usual nod to Sir Thomas Beecham.

Besides, I couldn't find Hellboy 2 in Blockbuster.

Well, what a revelation. Within five minutes and 22 seconds, the shrieking buddy-greeting of the girls had become wearisome, and it didn't get any better. That the three women greeted each other in the same screechy fashion didn't provide amusing synchronicity, it just rankled. No one acts like that. Not even in movies. Not even in musical movies.

Now, I've no problem with the suspension of disbelief, with lightweight films, and I've certainly no problem with jukebox musicals, but there was just nothing to this one. It was trite and saccharin, the characters were blander than bland and thinner than thin. All of which is absolutely fine in a musical film, because the music and the dancing are the thing, and the music of ABBA is a fine thing indeed.

But the casting was way, way off! Casting fantastic, talented actors that can't sing or dance in a movie that requires them to sing and dance reduces the whole £28 million production to ear-blistering drunken karaoke. Pierce Brosnan's attempts at singing has been commented upon at length, but I do not rate any of the leading men's voices. Christine Baranski is a wonderful actress, but clearly not at home dancing on screen. And that awful, hammy over-acting that's required of stage performances where the audience is miles away from the performers, but not in movies where cameras, shooting and editing make subtlety the thing!

Oh yes, and the dance numbers were lacklustre, unexciting, small-scale, unimaginative. Or perhaps my heart had given up by that point. I found the routines in Ice Age 2 more engaging.

Two high points included the dancing-in-fins sequence, the best of the ensemble pieces, and one laugh-out-loud moment involving Stellan SkarsgÄrd's bottom. And that's it, in a movie that was trumpeted in the press as an anecdote to credit crunch misery, the feel-good hit of the year.

Can I have my £28 million back, please?

Friday, 20 February 2009

Movie Review: Hot Fuzz

So, I finally saw this tonight, and it was...well, it was underwhelming.

Oh, I'm sure I will be vilified for making anything-less-than positive comments about a Great British Movie, but it didn't really do it for me. Yes, there are some laugh-out-loud moments, particularly some of the slapstick, and there are some genuinely funny snippets, but the rest of the movie doesn't ever really get going.

In brief: Mildly funny, quietly amusing.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

We found happiness in IKEA

I have previously visited the living Hell that is IKEA. Indeed, the last time I visited such a place, in Sweden, the land of its conception, the visit was pleasant enough. On this occasion, however, it was far closer to Hades than I had remembered.

We had been in there but a few moments before I turned to The Sparkly One and said

"I've just remembered."

"...that you hate IKEA?" Did I detect a tremble in her voice?


"Let's get out of here."

Seizing one another's hands, setting our jaws to Stern, we battled our way through the showrooms, heading for the signs that said EXIT. Finally, we reached the market place - the vale of thorns through which we had to journey to reach our promised land.

At the sight, I quailed. I turned to TSO.

"Hold me." I pleaded.

"Take me home," she replied.

We fled.

But there was, finally, light at the end of the tunnel; Kalles Kaviar in the Food Market, treasure beyond belief.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Two Pies in One Day

This afternoon, steak and kidney pie (snake and pigmey (sic) as it appeared on the bill) at Pudding Face ("The Pie Place"), at the Crown and Tuns, Deddington, Oxfordshire.

And this evening, humble pie to keep the peace.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Whatever happened to biscuits?

When I was smaller, we used to bake biscuits and buns (or "small cakes" as my home economics teacher called them).

Now it's all cookies and muffins, what's going on with that?

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Foglight Derangement Syndrome

I have but two questions regarding car foglights, generally (but not confined to) the rear lights:

  1. Why do some people persist on using them when the weather is a long way from fog?
  2. Why is it so gosh-darn irritating when they do?

Answers to the usual address.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Banana Flapjack

The Sparkly One made flapjack today, one of my secret weaknesses (promise you won't tell Lex Luthor?).

But whatever is that unusual, distinctive undertone-of-fruity-flavournote? Ah, banana!