Sunday, August 31, 2014

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Shandies

     This is yet another post where cultural biases are pretty obvious.  That is, in Western Europe a shandy, from what I’ve learned, is a pretty common beverage.  But here in the U.S. shandies are still fairly exotic, or at least unusual.  So that’s why it’s the topic of the day.
     I’m a little late on this one, too, as shandies are often considered a summer drink.  The calendar tells us that summer lasts for another 3 weeks or so, but I think most Americans consider the end to be Labor Day (tomorrow), or when schools open again (which can vary from state to state, but it’s usually the last week of August up to the first week of September).  And of course for readers in the Southern Hemisphere, summers are the colder months, so there are cultural differences there as well.
     Anyway, a shandy can refer to a wide range of drinks.  Essentially it’s a beer cocktail, a beer mixed with a non-alcoholic beverage, like a soda, fruit drink, ginger ale, etc.  Lemonade appears to be the most popular.  Here’s yet another cultural difference, because “lemonade” means different things to an American than to those in the U.K. and other English-speaking areas (kind of like soccer/football).  In the U.S. (and most of Africa, and Asia) lemonade is non-carbonated, and is usually lemon juice, water, and sugar (and sometimes honey).  In the U.K. and some other places it’s a lemon-flavored soda, a carbonated drink.  Other popular mixers for shandies are apple juice, peach lemonade, and various fruity syrups.  Also, some folks mix in other alcohols, like champagne or vodka.  For the kids there are “rock shandies,” which are completely nonalcoholic mixtures such as lemonade/ginger beer, orange soda/cola, or the American “Arnold Palmer” (after the pro golfer, who invented it), which is (U.S. style) lemonade and iced tea.  It should be said that even the alcoholic shandies (except for the champagne and hard liquor ones) tend to be relatively weak—an alcoholic content of less than 3 or 4% is pretty common.  This befits their image of being pleasant, thirst-quenching drinks rather than something that will probably intoxicate you.
     The difference in soft drinks caused a bit of a problem.  I couldn’t really locate any European “official” shandy sodas or drinks.  Therefore, purists might turn up their noses at this post, since nearly all of my attempts aren’t technically “real” European shandies.  But I wanted to give it a go, anyway, and I did find at least close approximations of shandy ingredients.  In most cases I used 7UP as the “lemonade” lemon flavored soda mixer.  For the concoction requiring Coca-Cola, at least, I was able to use the actual, definite drink.  As you’ll see, I also tried several American breweries’ versions of shandies.  I’m not sure these are considered the best examples, but there were, as always, practical considerations—i.e. what I could find for sale.  For the shandies I made myself I did use European beers, mostly German ones.
     As in my pumpkin-flavored beer segment (see October 17, 2013 post), and my investigation of light beers (see June 19, 2014 post), I’m using the U.S. scholastic system of “F” through “A,” with F being a failing grade, D bad but passing, C for average, B being good, and A for excellent, with pluses and minuses if necessary.

                                     Premade, Brewery Options

1)      Leinenkugel Summer Shandy (Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, U.S.) 4.2% alcohol.  B-.  This is a weiss beer (wheat beer) with honey and lemonade flavor.  In Europe this would probably be called a “Russian” or “Russ.”  I think it was okay, but not great.  There was a hint of lemon flavor at the end.  Alright.
2)      Shock Top Lemon Shandy (Anheuser-Busch, U.S.) 4.2% alcohol.  B.  Also a weiss beer, with spices and lemonade flavor (so it’s also a “Russ”).  Had a nice lemon punch at the end.  Solid.  Kind of a surprise to me, since typically I’m not a fan of Anheuser-Busch products.
3)      Saranac Shandy (Matt Brewing Company, U.S.) 4.2% alcohol.  B.  This was a lager and a lemonade, so would be termed a “Clara” in Spain, or a “Radler” in Germany.  Again good but not spectacular.  Very drinkable.  Sweet at the beginning, nicely sour-ish at the end.
4)      Narragansett Del’s Shandy (Narragansett Brewing Company, U.S.) 5.0% alcohol.  D.  Like the Saranac it’s a lager with lemonade, or a Clara/Radler.  Not well balanced at all.  Very sour in an unpleasant way.  Pretty bad.
5)      Leinenkugel Orange Shandy (Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, U.S. again) 4.2% alcohol.  F.  Weiss beer with honey and natural flavors and colors.  Horrendous.  The orange flavor didn’t work at all.  What is this?  A drain pour.

               User Mixed Options (These are the ones I made up myself.  As per directions, I did the beer first, and then the soda/mixer.  For most I drank half the beer, and then filled to the top of the bottle with the mixer.)

6)      961 Lager (961 Beer, Lebanon) 5% alcohol, and 7UP.  C+.  (Couldn’t locate a Spanish beer, but this would be a Clara/Radler.)  Okay—neither good nor terrible.  Drinkable.
7)      Paulaner Original Munich Lager (Paulaner Brauerie GmbH & Co. K.G., Germany) 4.9% alcohol, and 7UP.  C.  I guess because it’s a German beer, it would be a Radler.  Again, alright, but nothing more.  Drinkable, but not awesome.
8)      Hacker-Pschorr Weisse (Hacker-Pschorr Brau GmbH, Germany) 5.5% alcohol, and 7UP.  B.  A Russ again.  Solid.  Wheat beer and lemon soda seems like a better combo than other beer styles.  Sweetish beer flavor seems to mix well with a soda.
9)      Konig Pilsner (Konig-Brauerie GmbH, Germany) 4.9% alcohol, and 7UP.  D+.  This is termed an “Alster.”  Very mild, and weak.  Soda doesn’t add anything.  Bad combo, and rather a waste of time.
10)  Czechvar Lager (also known as Budweiser//Bud depending on where you are in Europe, see my World’s Oldest Breweries, March 8, 2013 post for details on that Budweiser name dispute, Budejovicky Budvar, n.p., Czech Republic) 5.0% alcohol, and Woodchuck Amber Hard Cider (Woodchuck Cidery, U.S.) also 5.0% alcohol.  C-.  This isn’t technically a shandy, as both halves are alcoholic beverages, but it’s a mixed beer cocktail, so I included it.  It’s known as a “Snakebite.”  Doesn’t really work.  Didn’t like much, but not horrific.  Weird, in a mostly negative way.
11)  Spaten Lager (Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau, Germany) 5.2% alcohol, and Coca-Cola.  F.  This is known as a “Diesel” in Germany, and a “Fir Tree” in the U.K.  Really awful.  I like both beverages separately, but putting them together is a major failure.  Another drain pour.

     So, in conclusion, looking at my results, shandies are kind of a mixed bag for me.  In general I disliked the Diesel and Alster types, found the Radler/Clara style okay, and liked the Russian or Russ the best.  But even the ones I liked, I didn’t really love.  Plus, as I often state about unusually flavored beers, I doubt I’d enjoy drinking even a shandy I like all night.  At this point I put them in the “every so often, a single one or two might be an alright change of pace” category.  But, to qualify this, as I mentioned before, I found approximates of a shandy, and not the “genuine” ones  If/when I return to Europe, or when I can purchase legit European sodas/mixers, I would be willing to give the resulting “proper” shandies a try, and it’s possible I might find these excellent.  Also, admittedly, my sample size was small, and I might have liked certain combos better with a different beer (most of the beers I used here I think are at least okay, but still).  So take these ratings with a grain of salt, or to stay with the theme, a dash of flavored soda in your beer, so to speak.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Plantains

     Growing up, I was never that wild about bananas.  I ate them occasionally, both raw and peeled, or cut up and served atop breakfast cereal, but they were never that dazzling.  The flavoring, too, I found disappointing, whether in candy, or fruity drinks.  (There is one exception to this—I do inexplicably like the banana-like taste in some hefeweizen (wheat) beers.)  As I aged, I began to notice that I evidently have a very mild food allergy to bananas, as they tend to give me a slight upset stomach.
     Therefore, when I first heard about plantains, I wasn’t optimistic.  It was in a Jamaican restaurant.  Obviously, in Jamaican cuisine plantains are a common entrée side, so in many cases it’s difficult to eat Jamaican dishes and not try plantains.
     When I researched plantains for this post, I learned that I had some misconceptions about them.  For one, they’re not just casually similar to bananas.  They’re very closely related, and are barely subspecies of each other.  Botanists don’t technically differentiate the two.  In essence, it’s like the difference between a Golden Delicious and a Cortland apple.  Plantains are just starchier, and less sweet than what we refer to as bananas, which are almost always the Cavendish variety.
     Bananas/plantains are an ancient food source for humans, as they were domesticated between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago, starting in Papua New Guinea.  Since then they’ve spread all over the tropical world, and are staples in the Caribbean, parts of Central and South America, and West and Central Africa.  In fact, they’re the tenth most important food staple in the world today.  One of the reasons for this is that they produce fruit all year round.  Nutritionally, they’re good sources of potassium, fiber, Vitamin B-6, and they also have some Vitamin C.
     The ways they’re prepared are many and varied.  They’re eaten raw (in banana form), fried, roasted, grilled, and boiled, and as a side, or mixed in with soups and stews.  Sometimes they’re mashed up as an easy food for babies.  And it’s not just the fruit, either—particularly in Southeast Asia, their shoots and flowers are consumed in salads.  In India the broad leaves are commonly used as natural plates.
     I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed plantain, despite my misgivings.  As I recall, they were served as a roasted side in that Jamaican restaurant, and I thought they were quite tasty.  Nicely starchy, and their flavor was reminiscent of a potato.  I’ve had them several times since, and they continue to complement meals very well.  Fried and salted as plantain chips (or crisps, for any English readers) was also good.  I recently had a canned Dominican Republic stew called sancocho, which featured both green bananas and plantains.  This was only okay, but I blame that more on the other ingredients, and the stew format isn’t one of my favorite meal types, too.  To be fair, I should try bananas cooked as well—maybe I would like them better that way.
     Plantains/bananas have a few odd attributes.  For example, despite the full grown plant size, it’s actually a herbaceous plant, and not a tree.  (They’re the largest herbaceous plant, in fact.)  Also, even though their appearance and size make this seem strange, to botanists the fruit is technically a berry.  Finally, because of their relatively high concentration of a naturally occurring potassium-40 isotope, bananas/plantains are radioactive.  Clearly it’s a small amount, nothing to worry about, but still, it’s weird.
     Wrapping up, the Frank Silver/Irving Cohn novelty song, “Yes!  We Have No Bananas,” written in 1923, was for a time the best selling sheet music.  And in both Thai and Malay folklore, banana plants contain a spirit which manifests itself as a young woman.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Underrated Horror Movie Gems--"Twitch of the Death Nerve"

     “Twitch of the Death Nerve” (1971) concerns the events occurring at a small bay in Italy.  Certain parties want to make it into a tony resort, while others are appalled by this idea.  When the overall property owner dies, confusion and violence ensue.  There is a disputed inheritance, interested tenants, and even a group of vacationing/squatting young people all grouped together.  A series of brutal murder occurs.  Who will be left alive, and what will they have to do to survive?
     “Twitch of the Death Nerve,” hereafter referred to as “TOTDN,” is an example of the horror subgenre called a “giallo.”  This is a 20th century Italian literature and movie type.  Giallo is actually Italian for “yellow,” and this is due to the books’ trademark yellow covers.  Although the written giallo dates back to at least 1929, the movie variant is younger, starting in about the early 1960’s (depending on who’s doing the classifying).  The film genre is typified as pulpy, murder mystery thrillers, which are full of suspense, extremely graphic and gory kill scenes, usually liberal amounts of sex and nudity, and a mysterious, black gloved killer.  Director Mario Bava’s 1963 film, “The Girl Who Knew Too Much,” and his 1964 effort, “Blood and Black Lace,” are considered the pace setters of the genre.  In addition to Bava, directors Dario Argento, Paolo Cavera, Umberto Lenzi, Lucio Fulchi, and Sergio Martino are some of the genre’s most famous and active practitioners.  Giallo’s glory period was about 1968-1978, with 1971-1973 being the most active years.  Some of the classics of giallo, besides the ones already mentioned, are Bava’s “Hatchet For the Honeymoon” (1970), Argento’s “The Bird With the Crystal Plumage” (1970) and “Deep Red” (1975), Fulchi’s “A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin” (1971), Pupi Avati’s “The House With Laughing Windows” (1976), and Martino’s “Your Vice is a Locked Door, and Only I Have the Key (1972).  (Obviously, giallos are also known for long, sentence-length titles, and this last one has to be a candidate for one of the longest titles ever!)
     (SPOILERS AHEAD UNTIL NOTED)  TOTDN is, no doubt about it, an incredibly nasty film.  Of the 13 adult main and supporting characters introduced, all 13 are murdered, in disturbing, bloody detail.  Stabbings, a hanging, impalements, decapitation, strangulation, shootings—a wide variety of ways of destroying a human being are utilized.  And these dispatches are surprisingly convincing, considering the film’s age.  Despite a limited budget, the filmmakers didn’t stint on the effects, hiring long time maestro Carlo Rimbaldi.  Rimbaldi later won two Oscars for his effects in “Alien” (1979) and “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” (1982), and also worked on “King Kong” (1976), and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977).  So be forewarned—if you don’t like seeing the red stuff, maybe give this one a pass.
     I’ll give a quick, spoiler-rich recap to get readers up to date on the plot.  Real estate agent Frank Ventura is pressing the overall bay property owner, Countess Federica, to sell him her land for development.  She refuses, but her husband, Donati, is interested, enough so that he murders her and makes it look like a suicide.  However, he in turn is almost immediately killed, and his body hidden.  Now the inheritance is in dispute, as there is the Countess’s illegitimate son, Simon, and a daughter, Renata.  Four young people (Duke, Denise, Bobby, and Brunhilda) head to the bay for partying, and they break into Ventura’s closed up vacation house.  After Brunhilda discovers Donati’s body in its watery grave, she and the rest of her group are quickly executed.  Renata and her husband, Albert, are watching over the proceedings in the bay, and Renata discovers the four corpses in Ventura’s house.  After Ventura attacks her, Renata apparently stabs him dead.  When the neighbor couple, Paolo and Anna Fassati, witness the carnage, Renata kills the latter, and gets Albert to dispatch the former.  Ventura’s girlfriend, Laura, who helped get Donati to kill his wife, arrives and is promptly strangled by Simon.  We then learn that Simon also killed Donati, and the four young people (since they were witnesses), to gain the inheritance, as he’s made a deal with Ventura to sell the bay.  Albert and Renata kill Simon, and then, after a brief struggle, Ventura (who survived Renata’s initial stabbing).  Renata and Albert are triumphant, in the clear as the sole heir, when, boom!—their 6-8 year old son and daughter inexplicably gun them down, thinking it’s a game.
     TOTDN makes the bold decision of making its main characters fairly unsympathetic, and in fact, pretty reprehensible.  Aside from the vacationing young people, the bystander Fassati couple, and the Countess herself, everyone is basically completely amoral, and willing to kill to get what they want.  But, in an odd way, this works to the film’s benefit.  It’s certainly hard to predict what will happen next, and there are no clear heroes or heroines.  Anyone can die at any time (and they often do!).
     Much is made about giallos being sexist (or even misogynist), and this is frequently a fair accusation.  TOTDN isn’t immune to this—the only real gratuitous nudity is a female character, and women certainly get slaughtered in hideous, camera-lingering ways (as do many of the men).  However, in other ways this tendency is subverted.  Although she only actually kills one person, Renata is clearly one of the main drivers of the murderous activities, ordering/manipulating her husband Albert into killing folks to suit their needs.  It’s kind of a weirdly refreshing change in a movie—in this one the husband is the only one to express regret about killing, and disgust with the mechanics of it.  His wife, Renata, meanwhile, shows no such qualms, and coldly pressures him to kill even more, for the good of their family (and of the kiddie killers, the boy apparently pulled the trigger, but his sister is clearly a gleefully enthusiastic abetter and witness).
     Also, while I clearly appreciate TOTDN, it’s certainly not without its faults.  Its characters, especially the ones that are killed almost immediately, are rather thinly drawn.  And some plot aspects are unrealistic.  For starters, the “Murder on the Orient Express”—like ability of much of the cast to savagely attack and kill people is a little far-fetched, to say the least.  Most people care deeply about large sums of money, but how many in one small group are capable of callously slaying (sometimes innocent) folks who might get in their way?  Finally, the ending, while a shocker, and rather karmic, is pretty absurd.  Why are these kids psychotic?  Did the near sociopath Renata intentionally raise them this way?  Not to mention, can a normal 7 year old effectively wield a shotgun?
     (END SPOILERS—SAFE FOR ALL READERS)  Horror fans usually credit “Halloween” (1978) as the first “slasher” movie, but clearly that horror subgenre owes a debt to giallos (I would also throw out 1974’s “Black Christmas” as an earlier slasher, but that movie was obviously not as widely seen, and thus as influential as “Halloween”).  This influence is rough in spots.  Slashers, of course, typically have a known, often supernaturally gifted killer, ala Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, etc.  Whereas killers in giallos (with some exceptions) are usually more mysterious, and aren’t imbued with incredible otherworldly healing powers, strength, and the like.  TOTDN’s killers aren’t even technically psychotic—they’re amoral, definitely, but they apparently only kill for money (with one exception, see spoiler-ridden paragraph above).  But the influence is nevertheless pretty clear.  The heavy use of the unseen killer’s point of view, the fetishistic killer uniform, the large body count, shown in excruciating detail—these are all incorporated in giallos, well before the slasher boom of the late 1970’s and early 80’s (and beyond).  In the “Friday the 13th” series this copying of TOTDN is very easy to see.  A couple of killings in Part 2 (1981) are essentially shot for shot ripoffs of the 1971 film’s blade-to-the-face murder, and the couple-impaled-as-one-while-copulating double slaying.  And, of course, the usual slasher killers’ preference for dispatching young nubile women, and the rough equation sex=death, can be seen as carryovers, or at least arguably influenced by giallos.
     The production of TOTDN was apparently quite limited, as Bava was operating under a shoestring budget.  So much so that for the movie’s many tracking (moving camera) shots, a child’s wagon was used to house the camera!  In addition, the bay that they shot in had only a smattering of trees.  Some fake leaf-covered branches and strategic camera shots were used to give the impression that the bay was heavily wooded.
     As mentioned previously, the director of TOTDN, Mario Bava, is credited with making the original giallo films.  But he accomplished more than just this.  He also made classic gothic, witches and castles horror films like 1960’s “Black Sunday” (which made star Barbara Steele into a horror icon), various sword and sandal epics, and sci-fi, including 1965’s “Planet of the Vampires,” thought to be one of the influences for “Alien.”  Aside from these, his most famous movies were 1963’s “Black Sabbath,” and 1966’s “Kill, Baby…Kill!”  His son, Lamberto, went into the family business, and directed “A Blade in the Dark” (1983), “Demons” (1985), and “Demons 2” (1986), among others.
     As for the actors, while most of them had fairly busy careers in Italian cinema, not many are probably familiar to international audiences.  Claudine Auger (Renata), is surely best known for playing “Domino” in the 1965 James Bond movie, “Thunderball.”  Luigi Pistilli (Albert) appeared most famously in two of Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti westerns”—1965’s “For a Few Dollars More,” and 1966’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”  Laura Betti (Anna Fassati) was in 1960’s “La Dolce Vita” and 1972’s “Last Tango in Paris.”  The man who played her husband, Paolo, Leopoldo Trieste, appeared in “The Godfather II” (1974), and “The Name of the Rose” (1986), among others.  Roberto Bonanni (Bobby) acted in several U.S. television series, including “Beverly Hill 90210” and more recently (and respectfully), “Mad Men.”  Finally, Albert and Renata’s daughter was played by Nicoletta Elmi, who went on to act in 1975’s “Deep Red” and 1985’s “Demons.”
     Like many outrageous and controversial horror movies, and especially Italian ones, TOTDN went through many titles.  It’s best known as “Twitch of the Death Nerve” or “A Bay of Blood.”  Other monikers include, “Before the Fact,” “Chain Reaction,” “The Odor of Flesh,” “Thus Do We Live to be Evil,” “The Ecology of Crime,” “Blood Bath,” and “Last House on the Left Part 2.”  This last one is a peculiarly Italian phenomenon, of naming a movie as a sequel to a famous (usually American) movie, even when the filmmakers have no legal rights to the name, and the movie has nothing to do with the original, as in this case!
     To sum up, then, TOTDN is an engaging movie, which might appeal to those who like their horror flicks disturbing but energetic, and who appreciate viewing an important trend setter and influencer in the genre.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Rabbit

     This is the first blog post I’ve done about eating a member of a species that I had as a pet.  Well, technically I also have eaten catfish, and had one of these in my aquarium for a time, but that’s not the same thing.  Fish aren’t exactly cuddly, or petted, and don’t have the same personalities as a mammal, or even some reptiles and amphibians.
     Because of my own, and other family members’ dander allergies, we couldn’t really have typical mammals when I was growing up.  Meaning we never had any dogs or cats.  So it was goldfish, guppies, gourmis, hermit crabs, a newt, a salamander, a guinea pig, several mice, and then a rabbit.  Since Fifi the rabbit lived in a hutch outside, our allergies weren’t bothered.  I recall Fifi fondly.  She was quite friendly, liked to be petted, and made weird, pig-like grunting noises.  Also it was kind of funny to watch her be walked around the backyard on her leash.  But, obviously, this didn’t stop me from eating a couple of her comrades later.  (And if you’re curious, I think I would try eating other “pet” animals, even cat, guinea pig, or dog, etc., if given the opportunity in a grocery or a restaurant.)
     Rabbits as food aren’t very common in the U.S. these days, except for rural hunters and in certain ethnic restaurants.  But throughout history, and into the present day, they’re common, especially in the U.K., Morocco, China, and several Asian Pacific countries.  It’s easy to see why, since they’re so plentiful, and relatively easy to hunt or catch.
     (DISGUSTING SUBJECT MATTER—SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF EASILY REVOLTED)  While researching Peter Cottontail and his kin for this post, I learned something odd and disturbing about them.  Specifically about their digestion.  Rabbits produce two kinds of droppings.  One is digested fibrous material, and is hard.  The second is black colored and soft, and is called a cecotrope.  Here’s the gross part.  Due to a quirk in their digestion, rabbits get extra vitamins, minerals, and protein by eating their cecotropes as a regular activity.  I’ve always thought that ruminants, animals like cows, that essentially chew on and reswallow their own vomit (the “cud”) were disgusting, but rabbits have them beat.  So I guess that explains why you see so few rabbit reaction videos to “2 Girls, 1 Cup”—they don’t see what the big deal is.
     Rabbits have found their way into several expressions, too.  In boxing, a “rabbit punch” is an illegal blow to the back of the opponent’s head.  This comes from the usual way of dispatching a rabbit that’s been caught in a snare.  And this is outdated now, but in the first half of the 20th century or so “The rabbit died,” was a euphemism for indicating that a woman was pregnant.  (Which incidentally was a misleading expression.  Originally this test involved injecting a prospective woman’s urine into a female rabbit.  If the woman was pregnant, hormones in her urine would cause detectable changes in the rabbit’s ovaries.  However, since checking the ovaries required killing and autopsying the rabbit, the rabbit died whether the human lady was pregnant or not.  Later revisions allowed lab tests to determine pregnancy or not without killing the rabbit, and later still, of course, tests were developed that were more accurate and didn’t need an animal test subject at all.)
     And then there’s “rabbit starvation.”  Rabbit meat is almost completely lean, with almost no fat.  Because of this, in situations where rabbit was folks’ only source of food (most notably, during Arctic explorations), this caused a bizarre and nasty condition.  Sufferers of this have diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, and are left in a state of constant hunger, even when their stomachs are packed with rabbit meat.  So if you’re lost in the wilderness, or if there’s a zombie apocalypse or something, make sure you augment your diet with other sources of fat and carbs if at all possible.
     For one final rabbit related anecdote, there was actually a nature-run-amok horror/sci fi thriller involving rabbits as the “monster.”  This movie was called “Night of the Lepus” and came out in 1972.  The plot involves a plan to cut down on a rabbit population explosion by using a serum designed to cause birth defects.  Alas, some test subjects get free and breed.  The serum unexpectedly causes the resulting rabbits to grow larger, and become carnivorous.  Incredibly, this is all played out straight—not at all the campy, tongue in cheek movie you would expect.  (And unlike the humorous tone of the source novel, Russell Braddon’s “The Year of the Angry Rabbit.”)  Reportedly the special effects were cheesy even by low budget sci fi/horror standards, as they used unconvincing miniatures, smeared ketchup on rabbit’s faces to simulate blood, and even used human actors in bunny suits!  Famous actors Rory Calhoun, Janet Leigh, Stuart Whitman, and Dr. “Bones” McCoy himself, DeForest Kelly star.  (Allegedly Leigh basically agreed to do it largely because the movie was shot near her home.)  Obviously this sounds like a perfect “so bad it’s good” and “laugh at it, not with it” type of film, and I plan to try to track it down.
     It’s been some years, but I tried rabbit as a main entrée in a Greek restaurant (I think).  Some people say it “tastes like chicken” as the cliché goes, but I didn’t think so.  I found it completely underwhelming.  Not flavorful, and forgettable.  A couple of years ago, I had some combined with some other meats (I recall maybe wild boar, and perhaps lamb?) in sausage form from the cool Eastern Market in Washington, D.C.  This was good, but I don’t know how much of this was due to the rabbit’s credit, and how much to the other animals’ meats.  I would (rather grudgingly) try it again if I get the chance, but I don’t have high hopes at all.
     To add one last tidbit, evidently one term for a young rabbit is a “kitten.”  Which, when you think about it, is a ridiculously stupid and confusing name.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Another Anthology

     I'm happy to report that a story of mine has recently been accepted in an anthology.  This anthology, entitled "Coming Back," will be published by Thirteen O' Clock Press, which is an imprint of Horrified Press (
     To quote from the website, the stories are, "From where, when, with someone, without someone, coming back from--space, another country, another time, another dimension, coming back to...." They include dark fairy tales, bizarre, horror, surrealism, dark science fiction, and steam punk.  My story is called, "Next to Godliness," and it is a surrealistic horror story about a guy named Larry, who discovers that joining a group that advertises spiritual growth from studying existence in all its forms isn't what he expected....
     There isn't a firm ETA, but it should be out by the end of the year.  I'll of course post when the cover is chosen, and when the publishing date is decided.