Skip to content

Month: February 2016

Midweek Music Break: Fantastic Negrito – An Honest Man

While I had started Amazon’s “Hand of God” back in the fall, I hadn’t gotten around to finishing it until this week.  While the show was decent (though, I’m still thoroughly confused about what it’s trying to be), the opening credits always struck a chord, thanks to Fantastic Negrito’s “An Honest Man”.

The song has that awesome dark and foreboding blues style, and reminds me of The Brothers Bright’s “Blood on My Name” (from an episode of the Blacklist, which coincidentally also had Ron Perlman in it) and The Heavy’s “Short Change Hero” (which was so well used in the Batman: Arkham City trailer).  While a bit more soulful than those other efforts, the mood is very similar and conjures up a plethora of emotions, which matches the show very well.

And learning a little more about Fantastic Negrito, it’s also nice to see an artist hitting their stride after spending so much time in the industry.  It’s taken almost 20 years, and he appears to be finally hitting his stride.

Midweek Music Break: Wolfgang Gartner – Illmerica

While I’m not quite sure what to make of the video, which is a mish-mosh of some of the more ignominious portions of the US’s history, Wolfgang Gartner’s “Illmerica” is an excellent electronic track.

What I really enjoy about this song, and most of Wolfgang Gartner’s work, is that the song is an elegant composition, with several phases in the 5+ minute piece, but executed with non-traditional electronic sounds.  However, they sound like they could easily translate to an orchestral piece.  Even the slower portions of the song have their place to round out the composition, knowing the song can’t go full-tilt for the full 5 minutes.

Some of that may be because I also associate Wolfgang Gartner with Wolfgang’s 5th Symphony, his take on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.  It’s a beautiful mashup of classical and modern music, and I can fully see “Illmerica” being executed the same way.  All the pieces are there, and it could easily be interpreted in a number of different ways while retaining it’s full richness.

That said, I don’t really connect this composition with the video, but artistic license is artistic license…so whatllyado?

Midweek Music Break: The Vines – Ride

While the early 2000’s were good to The Vines, “Ride” is the song of theirs that has stuck with me the most, probably because I really enjoy the video:

The idea of them playing the song with a bunch of other bands it cool enough, but it’s the drum buildup late in the song, with all the drum sets grouped together that is the selling point.  I don’t know whether to take the video as an acknowledgement of their roots (with a “everybody starts somewhere” vibe), or just recognition that the song is a lot of fun with so many performers can get into, or something else completely different, but it’s clear that regardless of how many takes it took, everyone in the video was having a lot of fun!

Rock on!

A Visit to the Pennsylvania Coin Operated Gaming Hall of Fame

haunted_house_pinball

Today, I had a chance to go to the Pennsylvania Coin Operated Gaming Hall of Fame with my son and our Indian Guides nation (aka, all the tribes in our community).  While having seen the website, I still wasn’t quite sure what was in store.  Sure, video games had been a part of my childhood, but it was mostly in the heyday of the original NES.  On occasion, we went to the mall and got to play in the arcade there, but that was the days of Mortal Kombat and NBA JAM, late in the bell curve for arcades and very late for pinball games.

Getting to the Hall of Fame, I found an amazing array of pinball and video games, many older than myself.  There were the classics: Donkey Kong, Centipede, Space Invaders, etc.  Some were familiar from other platforms, like Super Mario Brothers and Dig Dug (which I knew from the Commodore 64).  And then there were about a dozen different variations of Pac-Man.  There were also a numerous games I’d never even heard of…

However, I ended up being more drawn to the many pinball machines.  As a kid, I was never drawn to the pinball machines…they weren’t flashy, and didn’t have the same draw as many of the video games.  However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate the mechanics and creative ways in which they can be made.

At the Hall of Fame, there was a lot of variety and some really interesting approaches.  “Hercules” was a huge machine that appeared to use a pool cue ball as the pinball.  “Orbiter” was a bland looking case with a martian-surface style, but when I played, I found that the board was controlled by spinning magnets, which made it hard to aim at targets, but made for an interesting game.

However, my favorite was “Haunted House” as pictured above.  This one was interested, because it had 3 distinct levels of playing areas and two sets of flipper buttons.  There was the main level, which had a lot of your standard pinball elements and layouts.  Then there was the upstairs level, which was worth double points, and had it’s own pair of flippers operated by the second set of flipper buttons.  From the upstairs, you could drop back down to the main level or roll down the ramp.  Then, on the main level, there was a “secret” bumper which would lift up and drop you down into the basement level.  In the basement level, it was almost like a mirror image, with it’s own flippers, also operated by the second set of flipper buttons, which would it the ball towards you.  If you managed to fall past the flippers, then the ball was launched back up to the main level.  It was really interesting to see so much packed into a single machine, and I ended up playing it several more times just to see what else I might find.

Overall, even though it was just a few hours, it was fun, if a little noisy.  And not once did I hear my son, who’s grown up with PS3’s and Wii U’s, complain about the games.  If anything, he’s astonished at the mechanics of these older games in a world that is now so digital.  And it made me appreciate much of the history behind where the industry has come today.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

20151119_221651

I made these cupcakes last year for a company thanksgiving pot-luck at work, and it’s a great single-serving ode to the classic sweet potato casserole.  While a bit denser than my typical cupcake, they were a big hit among my coworkers.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Ingredients
For Cupcake
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
For Cupcake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pans with liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the sweet potato. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, followed by the whole eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Beat in the flour mixture one third at a time, mixing alternately with a third of the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pans.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick or baking probe comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.
For Frosting
  1. Cream butter and shortening in an electric mixer with whipping attachments.
  2. Mix in vanilla, brown sugar and honey.
  3. Stop mixer, add confectioners' sugar, and slowly combine with other ingredients. Increase speed once fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add heavy whipping cream and incorporate at high speeds. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy.
Recipe Notes

To evenly and cleanly fill the cupcake pans, I use a triggered ice cream scoop.  It makes the process much easier.

I also topped these with half a jumbo marshmallow (cut with kitchen shears) to complete the "sweet potato casserole" feel to these cupcakes.

Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Midweek Music Break: The Submarines – 1940 (AmpLive Remix)

I featured The Submarines back in September of 2014, with their lighthearted song “Birds“, but am bringing them back this week with a much different feeling song of theirs…

This song is expertly remixed, as it is barely recognizable from the original, which has some familiar flares, but a completely different pace and tone.  This version is a head-bobbing, gritty and haunting melody which frames the clean and sharp vocals provided by singer Blake Hazard.  And the heavily distorted guitars that chime in halfway through add a whole new dimension to the song.

This is one of those songs that almost every time I hear it, I’m quickly reaching to replay it.  At three and a quarter minutes, the song could easily be two or three times as long without losing my attention.