Does the “bumbumbum” of Bing Crosby send shivers of fear down your spine? Do you secretly hope that when the little girl pulls Santa’s beard that it will come off and expose him as a fake? Maybe you even hope that Ralphie really will shoot his eye out with that BB gun. You, my friend, have Christmas movie fatigue. What hides under the guise of tradition mostly means getting stuck watching the same five movies every single holiday season, year after year after year. Apparently some people find comfort in this, but few movies are good enough to warrant such reverence – or repeated viewings. So here are a few truly alternative alternatives, most of which can be ordered from Amazon, or found online for download if you’re into that sort of thing.
The film God.Bless.America played last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. I didn’t see it there – too many people. I hate crowds. But I did get a chance to see it recently, and despite a few flaws, it’s probably in my current Top 5 movies of all time. Because who hasn’t dreamed of picking off stupid people with an automatic weapon?
Okay, maybe some of you don’t have that fantasy. Maybe some of you aren’t misanthropic curmudgeons. But I know quite a few people who, given the right circumstances (such as a series of life disasters and a terminal illness) might just say to themselves, “Why the hell not?”
This is not actually a post about who I’d take out if I were in the same situation as Frank, the lead character in Bobcat Goldthwait’s movie. (The husband and I discussed it, though – he’d go after specific celebrities, whereas I’d just stand on the street corner and take down people who text while driving or ride their bikes on the sidewalk), but rather a discussion about the changes in society that lead Frank to snap.
Despite my plan to avoid social media while working on my book, I’ve spent the earlier part of this afternoon over on FaceBook discussing meat glue (why yes, I am procrastinating, how did you guess?), and its implications in the greater food service industry, aside from its use in molecular gastronomy. Because it seems that there are a few restaurants and food supply companies that are taking chunks of stewing beef and mushing them together with meat glue to make what looks like a reasonable facsimile of a filet mignon.
These filet mignon, so far, seem to exist within the realm of large-scale lower-end food service – school cafeterias and catered weddings were two such examples given. I wouldn’t expect to see them at high-end steak houses or places that are known for the authenticity or terroir of their beef, but it’s reasonable to assume that they will eventually show up (unannounced, no doubt) on the menu of low- to mid-range restaurants across both the US and Canada.
(Note that the meat glue itself is perfectly safe. The concern comes from creating a “steak” out of various cuts of beef and then cooking it to less than medium well-done because of possible bacteria that may have been on the surfaces of the various pieces of meat that are now in the centre of the steak and might not be cooked to the appropriate temperature to kill said bacteria. A standard steak has no such problem since the centre is untainted and could not have come in contact with any kind of contamination.)
Back in January, I posted a rant on TasteTO, asking where were the Canadian chefs, activists, TV shows and documentaries that would advocate for better food in our country, as is the case with chefs in the UK such as Jamie Oliver. I specifically called out CBC, suggesting that they should start running food-related documentaries, especially related to various political issues.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email advising me that CBC would be running a 4-part documentary series called The Great Food Revolution. The first two episodes ran last night, and the final two will run next week.
Now I know these docs had to have been in the works well before I posted my rant (part of the second episode was filmed at an event I attended in November – my chest makes a cameo appearance), so I really can’t bitch too much about the fact that they don’t exactly address the issues I mentioned. But part of the problem is, they don’t exactly address much of anything – and what they do address is kind of scattered and incomplete.
There’s a book called The Celestine Prophecy, a novel based on some new age spirituality, mostly rooted in some old spirituality. This post is not about that book, which has a number of detractors, as well as a number of fans, although having read the book, it’s what I tend to think of when coincidences occur.
Basically the premise of the book is based on 9 spiritual insights. The Third Insight – A Matter of Energy – is based on the theory that there are no coincidences, that things or people come to us because of a draw of energy, and the more times a theme occurs, the more attention, or energy, we need to focus on it.
No doubt every person has had the experience where something will come up in conversation, and then a day or so later, it will come up again. The phrase “speak of the devil” works on the same premise – you can be having a conversation about someone and then they’ll unexpectedly appear. These things happen all the time, but when they start happening in groupings, then it begins to get a little weird.
We spent Saturday in the darkened confines of Innis Town Hall, a theatre on the U of T campus, watching films from the Planet in Focus film fest. It was a very foodie day with very foodie films.
The morning started off with the organic pancake breakfast prepared by Real Food for Real Kids. For $10 you got two hemp pancakes with organic maple syrup, organic green salad with organic brie, fresh fruit, breads made from the ovens at Dufferin Grove Park, plus a selection of organic jams and hemp spreads. And of course organic fair trade coffee and Happy Planet juice. The price included a free travel coffee mug, and the juices retail for $1.99 each, so it was not only delicious, but a really good deal.
A Fallen Maple
The first film was called A Fallen Maple and looked at one family’s issue with lead content in the maple syrup produced on their farm. Turns out, while the maple syrup industry is highly regulated in Quebec and Vermont, in Ontario, this is not the case, and small family producers using older equipment often have problems with lead in their syrup. The only solution is to replace the entire production system, which, for this family, would have cost in excess of $100,000. The kicker is that the woman running the farm, one of the few women maple syrup producers in Ontario, had voluntarily agree to test the province’s “Best Practices” system, only to discover that they actually caused higher levels of lead in her syrup than she would have had otherwise. The maple syrup production, which had been in the family for generations, had to be shut down because they couldn’t afford to upgrade the equipment.