Saturday, April 30, 2011

Time For (A Little) More Woody

Here's Some Anton:

Real Killer Plant #6

I'm from Florida, by father was a botanists of sort (he used to run the state forest system in that state)....yeah I grew up in Tallahassee....and bromiliads are very native, in some many varieties to that state, and the Caribbean, and central and south America.  Florida has everything from "Spanish Moss" (it's not Spanish and, obviously, it's not moss) to pineapples.  Bromiliads are plants that evolved in hot and humid climates and take a almost all nutrients out of the air vapour around them.  I don't know why then, since the grow to collect dew and other humid moisture in pools in the stem structure that it has taken so long for real botanists to realize that some of the these plants are going to evolve to digest insects that get trapped in those moisture pools.  Well this plant has been proven to be in a state of carnivorous evolution.  It has started to produce the building blocks of what can be recognized as digestive enzymes in it's fluid build up.  Hey at least those bugs didn't die in vain! It has various name in it's native range of central and south America, most are native American and I couldn't find any on the web.  So we're stuck with it's Latin name.

Send In The Clowns...

Been talking so much about Jessie Eisenberg, thought there was not was no way I wasn't going to play this.  Besides I love a good zombie munch-a thon.  Of course, with the release of Night Of The Living in 1968, the USA, via indepentent film maker George Romero, redifined forever the zombie genre, creating the the undead walkers with the worst case of the munchies in history.  Then in 2004 along came Shaun of the Dead:  insanely funny, no skimping on the zombie chomping, awesome inane action plot...a really freakin' good and hilarious zombie flick!!!  We offered up a remake of a Romero classic the same year.  The Brits stole our zombie chops!!  October 2009:  pay back time!!  Time to nut up, or shut up! (ok..I just had to)

Oh yeah!  I'd haul ass!

Random Recipe

Since I'm celebrating today with a few random movies, I thought a random recipe would be in order.  Sushi Su (aka Sushi Rice).  A lot of people still confuse Sushi with Sashimi, or more often, thick sushi is always about raw fish.  The true foundation of sushi is always the rice.  Here is a recipe that comes from one of my all time favorite Hawaiian cookbooks Maui's Marvelous Munchies.  A charity cookbook that was put together with volunteer recipes from working Hawaiians and sold to benefit the Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry.  Of course, there are a sushi rice recipes that are just basic, what I like about this is that it can be served sort of buffet style, where various toppings can be put on a plate, in an attractive fashion and the rice served so each diner can make their own formed sushi--with whatever topping they like.  This is even a cool way to serve a purely vegetarian meal, with topping that from vegetables, fruit, vegetarian products (like tofu and natto) and egg or even some dairy--great for Meatless Monday.

3/4 cup white vinegar, warmed a bit
1 cup sugar
1 heaping Tbsp. salt
Grated fresh ginger (at least tbsp or more, much more 
    if you like)
Dried Shrimp, chopped (optional)
5 cups short grain (Sushi) rice

Prepare the rice as you would regular short grain rice for a Japanese meal.  Let cool, stirring a few times, to release steam.  While the rice is cooking and cooling, mix the sugar into the warm vinegar.  Stir and let dissolve.

Mix the sweetened vinegar and the salt into the mix with a wooden "rice paddle"--fold in well.  Fold in the fresh ginger.  Then the shrimp, if using.  This is a sort "kicked up" (sorry about that) version of sushi rice.  Use it to make sushi rolls, scattered sushi, Onigiri (rice balls), any kind of sushi.  If you are wanting to serve it as a buffet, put the rice into a really nice decorative bowl.  Serve bowls with soy sauce, wasabi, sweet pickled ginger, and any other topping that you like, such a toasted sesame seeds, grated chili daikon, red ginger, etc.  Hey you can even use this stuff to make those sushi thingy's that they love in Hawaii, made with Spam!

Real Killer Plant #5

This insect eating plant has such a nice, innocent sounding name!  All sundews belong to the genus Drosera, making it the single most widely distributed carnivorous plants the globe over, with around 135 different species in the genus.  All of them are insect eaters, with fairly large appetites.  They all have small sticky tentacles on the end of their leaves, in so many variations on color, structure distribution and plant size (the above plant is called a "Spoon leaf Sundew".  These are probably the best carnivorous plants to purchase for first timers who want to grow a carnivorous garden.  3 more reasons bear this out:  1) they are relatively easy to grow, 2) they are in no way endangered in the wild, 3) as mentioned above, they eat a lot, so people grow several at a time to control pesky summer insects.  And, hey, they are really cute!!

The Social Network

Since first seeing Cursed (watched earlier) I have been a fan Jessie Eisenberg.  As mentioned I really enjoyed his neurotic comedy of being the uber-nerd bitten by a werewolf and suddenly finding himself with super strength and a sex symbol.  In 2009 I saw Zombieland in the theater and was splitting at the seams with his performance playing off Woody Harrelson's "Tallahassee." with all his rules and his (again) neurotic fear of clowns.  So when I saw that he had be cast to portray Mark Zuckerberg in a movie about the founding and evolution of Facebook, I admit to being a bit puzzled.  Not because I though Eisenberg couldn't pull it off or didn't have the acting chops to play such a (in)famous real person; but because David Fincher is the type of film-maker that puts the tedium into tedious (much like in that respect, Stanley Kubrick was).  I knew, too, that Aaron Sorkin's book had caused a bit of a stir and that Zuckerberg is such a ego-maniac I wondered how in the world they were going to get him not to make a stink about it (the answer is there, they sort of conned by appealing to that ego).  Eisenberg just seemed too nice, too much like the hyper neurotic, sensitive characters from a Woody Allen film.  So when I saw this for the first time, I was really, really impressed with his performance.  My understanding is that he did have a time with Fincher's directing style, but that, like so many actors that worked with Kubrick, that style got one heck of a creepy, sometimes downright scary, performance out of Eisenberg. Then, there is that soundtrack!  I was really pleased when Reznor and Ross took home the Oscar for Best Original Score.  Overall, it makes for one of the spookiest movies ever made about a true life event. In some respects, these types of films can be much more unnerving than just about any horror film.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still a total whore for horror of all sorts!

In fact a reader emailed a link in the UK's Guardian newspaper this morning, an interview with Jessie.  I feel for him.  He really does seem like the kind of person that fame would get too, and he doesn't come across as being another one of those fortunate people to find success and then complain about it some fake way.  This seems real to me.  Although, he won't really ever have to worry about work again!

Real (Not) Killer Plants #4

Man eating trees DO NOT exist.  Although, that didn't stop some "naturalists" from out and out fabricating stories about them that were reported as fact and people did believe them.  Take the above image, for example, which is the most famous killer tree illustration, from J.W. Buel's Land and Sea 1887, called the Ya-te-veo (or I see you tree), which is supposed to grow in Central America, and it seen devouring a native tribal member.  It is widely believed that Buel was inspired by the most circulated account of such a thing actually eating someone.  In 1881 a so-called "German explorer" whose very name turned out to be a fabrication--one "Carl Liche" reported that he had seen a tree on the island of Madagascar devour a member of a Malagasy tribe called Mkodo.  It took until the 1950's to prove once and for all time that the entire story, including the tribe were made up.  Of course that doesn't stop all kinds of carnivorous trees from populating works of literature; in reality, there not really many real trees that can consume live prey.  It is known that white pines, for example, have the ability to consume small insects, ONLY when a certain type of fungus is growing on it, which works with the tree in a symbiotic relationship to digest insects--most of the nutrients going to shroom.  There is a Wikipedia entry on so-called "Man Eating Tree."  

This looks like it could eat you--but it can't.

Ironically The Onion hilariously has a bit on trees in their "Sunday Magazine"

Iron Man 2

Getting in a little additional super hero action with Iron Man 2.  I have to admit that it took a couple of viewings for me to really warm up to this sequel--which irked me with myself, because I was so glad to the role that was originally intended for Don Cheadle actually finally went to him.  OK, so a few people who liked the film for it's humorous script basically told me lighten up.  I gave another chance, this time not taking the film or myself so damn seriously, and found that it is a pretty solid piece of entertainment.  I mean it has Garry Shandling in it!!  And he has that rule about being super picky about movie roles, basically he does movies as favors to friends only.  So they were right and I was wrong, and this is funny in a good sort of way.

Real Killer Plant #3

This the one carnivorous plant that everyone had heard of, seen or even grown at home (I had one when I was a kid, it's name of Dorothy).  Which is kind of strange considering that it's natural distribution is extremely limited.  It grows wild only in a small marshy area in North Carolina, and it's habitat is highly endangered.  Also, that is called a "fly trap" is also a misnomer.  In reality it eats all kinds of insects.  At home, people often feed their "fly traps" meal worms.  

I really don't know how this plant came to be so well known worldwide.  Do we have director Roger Corman to thank for this??  Was it the original Little Shop of Horrors (1960) that caused the world to go "fly trap crazy"??

For more info, including a cool little video of a trap being "sprung,"  click here.  See another video from Attenborough's Private Life Of Plants below.


This is the Wes Craven horror comedy that often gets overlooked as serious Wes Craven vehicle (or even that it was directed by one of king's of horror in the first place).  I personally like it.  It's a straight forward werewolf flick with does not have a plot that gets in the way of the story.  It is also, thanks in large part to Jessie Eisenberg (recently really famous from The Social Network), who is natural at comic relief.  Also, just couldn't resist putting this on after "Fringe," since Joshua Jackson (who is Peter Bishop) does a pretty credible job of playing the no-comic straight role; sure Jake seems a little weird, but he's a super successful L.A. club how weird could he really be???!

Real Killer Plant #2

These killer plants are found in various form all over the world.  As you can see from the You Tube clip below, they do eat mammals, just like Audrey from Little Shop.  It's actually a little horrifying, in that anything that falls into one of these guys is slowly digested alive!  Common meals for many of these plants include mice, rats frogs, and bats.

For more information go to Wikapedia here

As can be seen below, unlike the Water Wheel Plant below, these weird plant critters can be grown at home pretty easily.  They also have a much wider natural distribution around the world and have one of the largest families in the carnivorous plant world---i.e.:  there's bunch of different types of them, and they are everywhere! In actuality they don't have come from the same genus or even family; they are called "pitcher plants" because of their similar shape.   I know of one, for example that in unique to the Okefenokee Swamp that specializes in eating bees.

From the swamp

The Bishop Revival--A Favorite Fringe Episode


Having recently imbibed the first two seasons on "Fringe" on Blu-Ray, there is no doubt that the experience far out-weighs visually the broadcast crud that is broadcast on cable; this episode looks particularly good.  There is not a great deal of serious action or dynamic shots in this episode to show it off; instead there are lots of really well framed close-ups, particularly of Bishop and Peter, that look velvety.  The creepy clarity, also, of the dead bodies is clean, crisp, and well creeeeepy!

The story too is good.  It is a kind of intermediary episode.  On the one hand, it's story of Nazi's, formula and the central murder mystery plot is pure "stand alone."  On the other, it's also an important pivotal episode that advances the central arch subject of the series.  Not many television series can really pull off this type of episode convincingly.  So the writing is clever and a little unique.  

It is not often that writers of television can invoke history as horrible and meaningful as Nazi death camps.  But here the fact that is a show essentially about a mad scientist, going straight to the Angel of Death himself, the mad doctor Josef Mengele of Ausschwitz infamy makes for a good solid plot foundation, without seeming insensitive to the real history involved.

Within the over all plot arch of the second season, this is really the last episode to present an independent mystery to be solved within the episode, before the season settles into the greater issue of Peter, who he really is, and where he's really from.  It also the first time when anyone sees, whether that be an audience member or the characters themselves, that something is amiss on a really fundamental level with Peter and Walter.  When the Nazi gas hits Walter in the house where is examining a crime scene, only Walter is affected.  We know that the gas can be "programmed" to go after specific genetic DNA markers, yet Peter is unaffected.

This, for me, is just really smart television.  I am a fan in general of any type of "horror" television, such as "Supernatural;" but "Fringe" takes the whole genre to a much higher level.  If you have only watched this show on broadcast television, and you own, or plan to acquire a Blu-Ray player, I highly recommend both seasons on Blu-Ray.  I am eagerly awaiting Season 3!

Real Killer Plant #1

Everyone has heard of the Venus Flytrap.  They are one the most common carnivorous plants available for growing at home.  This plant, of the aldrovanda genus, is one the most rare to horticulture.  It is fully an aquatic plant and one of the only carnivorous plants to feed exclusively on aquatic animals and water bugs.  It is found in various parts of Africa, Europe and in a few places in Africa.  It thrives best in Australia, where it is an introduced species (introduced species of anything, usually thrive in that new environment, because there are not natural checks on their behavior, and they quickly become, at best, a nuisance and at worst a threat to their new found environment).