Monthly Archives: May 2014

Ideas & a Glowing Review

Light-Bulb-3It’s brilliant when an idea works, when someone tries something and it comes together so well.

For the sake of my ego, I’d like to label myself as an “Ideas Man”. Someone who thinks up fresh takes on products, tools, lifestyles and writing.

I’m also someone with a bad habit of not following these through. Ideas for iPhone apps, fictional writing, thoughts which had potential but never got worked on. It’s a sort of counter-action within myself. A need to think up solutions to issues, but never knowing how or trying to put them into action. An element of Sisyphus, permanently rolling the idea up the hill, only for it to fall back down that moment of productive action.

So, when an idea works. There is a joy to be held. A satisfaction. When it is an idea for someone else, when they pick up on it and turn it into something beautiful, it feels simply wonderful.

This happened recently.

One of my oldest and dearest friends is a food obsessive. The last time I saw her, I pushed and pushed for her to write her ideas down. I wanted her to write a blog and to tell the world about her adventures with food.

She wasn’t convinced, and she didn’t seem keen. Since that point though, things have changed. We no longer communicate due to forces outside our control. I miss her constantly, but I understand and approve of her reason for saying goodbye. There were reasons, and these were accepted for a greater good.

Since we stopped talking though, something magnificent has happened. That blog has developed, and in ways I never could’ve expected. She’s bought an actual web address, she’s set up a Facebook page, she’s written some wonderful receipes and stories which leave you drooling and desperate to try them yourself.

She’s written something she should be proud of, and I hope she continues to work on it.

When ideas pay off, they pay off big time.

Here then, is my favourite piece she’s created so far. I hope you enjoy Meals with Mel. I know I do.

As the French would say, Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

Mel’s “Mean Green” Chicken Florentine Lasagna

 

This past week I have been on an adventure making homemade pasta dough. One of the first pasta dishes I made this week was my take on Northern Italian Lasagna. This is a béchamel base lasagna is packed full of sautéed spinach, chicken, pesto, and all topped off with a nice cheesy crust.

The lasagna filling is a beautiful pale green color because of the spinach and the pesto. Since my sister was coming over for dinner and she attended the University Of North Texas, “The Mean Green” I decided to name this lasagna for her. This lasagna was not complicated to make, but there are several steps and if you decided to make your own pasta noodles you can add 3 more steps to that, but the dried Barilla No Boil Lasagna noodles work great. This lasagna is also a great way to use up any leftover grilled chicken you might have from a previous meal, just add the grilled chicken in place of the rotisserie chicken, you will need about 3½ cups of chicken.

Making lasagna can be a process sometimes but at the end of the day the aroma that fills your house makes it worth every step. The best part about making lasagna is not only does it feed a crowd, but lasagna can be assembled 1-2 days in advance and sit in the refrigerator then baked right before people arrive. Hope you enjoy! Go Mean Green!

Mel’s “Mean Green” Chicken Florentine Lasagna

 Ingredients:

2 boxes Barilla no boil Lasagna noodles or fresh pasta noodles

1 rotisserie chicken shredded; or 3½ cups leftover grilled chicken chopped.

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

3 cups warm whole milk

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cups fresh pesto** recipe follows

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 small red onion finely diced

2 cloves of garlic

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 cups baby spinach roughly chopped

1½ cups fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

1 cups fresh grated mozzarella

Directions:

Step 1: Make the Pesto

3 cups fresh sweet Italian Basil leaves

1 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

3 cloves of garlic

1 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano

½ cup toasted pine nuts

1 lemon (the zest and juice)

2 pinches of red pepper flakes

½ of good quality extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade add the garlic cloves and pulse 4 times. Then add in your basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice and pulse another 5 times. Next add in the parmigiano reggiano cheese and the toasted pine nuts and pulse another 5 times. Last with the machine running slowly stream in the olive oil until well incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Put the pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Step 2: Make the Béchamel Sauce

Warm the 3 cups of milk in the microwave for 2 minutes.

In a large heavy bottom pot melt the 4 tablespoons of butter on medium heat. Add one whole clove of garlic (smashed with the back of your knife) to the melting butter. When the butter has completely melted take out the garlic clove and add the 4 tablespoons of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is lightly browned (about 2 minutes). Slowly add in the warmed milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low.

Step 3: The Filling

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and add in the finely diced onion, red pepper flakes, one clove of chopped garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Once the onion has softened, about 5 minutes, add in the roughly chopped spinach and cook down for another 5 minutes. Then add the spinach and onion mixture to the béchamel sauce along with the shredded chickenand 1/3 cup of the fresh made pesto and give it a good stir to make sure everything is well combined. Take off the heat.

Step 4: Assembly

If you are going to bake this immediately then pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a 9×13-baking pan. Add 2 large ladles full of the béchamel mixture to the bottom of the 9×13 pan then cover with the lasagna noodles. Add another layer of the béchamel mixture, a little of the grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, and cover with another layer of noodles. Repeat this step until you are out of noodles, ending the final layer with the béchamel sauce and the remaining parmigiano reggiano cheese. Then top with the fresh grated mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly, then take the foil off and bake another 15 minutes, finally bake under the broiler for 5 minutes to get a nice crust on top. Let the lasagna rest for about 5 minutes after you take it out of the oven.

Serve with a Green salad, a nice crisp Pinot Grigio, and Good Friends.

When Democracy Fails?

It’s 1am on Saturday morning. I should go to bed, but I’m stuck on Twitter waiting for arguably the most controversial decision of the United Kingdom Local Elections to come through.

For some reason, and it’s one I’ve never understood, the United Kingdom schedules their Local Council Elections on the same day as major votes. Well, okay I DO understand, it’s about money.

Summing up the Local Election, Wikipedia says:

The 2014 United Kingdom local elections were held on 22 May 2014 as provided by ‘The Local Elections (Ordinary Day of Elections in 2014) Order 2013’ (S.I. 2013/2277). Usually these elections are held on the first Thursday in May, but they were put back from 1 May to 22 May to coincide with the 2014 European Parliament Elections on that date. Direct elections were held for all 32 London boroughs, all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 74 second-tier district authorities, 20 unitary authorities and various mayoral posts, all in England. Elections to the new councils in Northern Ireland were also be held on the same day.

All registered electors (British, Irish, Commonwealth and European Union citizens) who were aged 18 or over on the day of the election were entitled to vote in the local elections. Those who were temporarily away from their ordinary address (for example, away working, on holiday, in student accommodation or in hospital) were also entitled to vote in the local elections, although those who have moved abroad and registered as overseas electors cannot vote in the local elections. Those who were registered to vote at more than one address (such as a university student who has a term-time address and lives at home during holidays) were entitled to vote in the local elections at each address, as long as they were not in the same local government area.

Overall in England, the Labour Party saw 1,891 Councillors elected (up 292), The Conservatives 1,259 (down 201), the Liberal Democrats 404 (down 284), the Green Party 157 (up 17), Residents Associations 38 (up 7), the Liberal Party 2 (down 2), the British National Party 1 (down 1), Independent Community and Health Concern 1 (down 2) and there were 68 Independents elected (up 19).

Throughout the UK on Thursday, people spent their time to go out and vote. They went primarily for European Elections and who should represent us in the European Election, but arguably of greater importance, they voted for their local Councillors. People who would deal with issues at a local level, and where day to day events would be greater felt.

This joint election has lead to confusion throughout. Parties preaching stories about how the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, how we should look at issues at a National Level. Subsequently people were electing their Local Council representatives for the wrong reasons. This was true for ALL parties. Watch the following video:

Now whilst the Labour leader Ed Milliband is a smart man, this borders on manipulation.

He talks about the NHS and maintaining it. This is little to do with Local Councils, and even less to do with Europe. However this doesn’t stop Ed preaching to the masses. Someone somewhere will have elected a Councillor without knowing who it is, purely based on this manipulation.

So this leads me on nicely to the reason for my late night…

Lutfur RahmanLutfur_Rahman

Rahman, a 47 year old originally from Bangladesh, is the Directly Elected Mayor for the area of Tower Hamlets in East London.

Gaining the post in 2010, Rahman is a controversial figure. Claims regularly circulate about his corruption, whether it is leaking money to friends, or the fact that he has a chauffeur driven limo. He is regularly investigated for corruption and abuses, and there are concerns about links to hardline Islamic groups.

In fact, to really summarise some of the concerns, the best thing to do is to read these 30 facts provided by Journalist Andrew Gilligan in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday May 21st. These are worrying.

30 Facts About Lutfur Rahman

1) In 2008 Rahman (then a Labour councillor) won the leadership of Tower Hamlets council with the close help of an Islamic extremist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which which works to create a sharia state and an “Islamic social, economic and political order” in Britain. In secret filming, IFE activists described how they exercised “consolidated… influence and power” over the council.

2) Rahman channelled millions of pounds in council grants to IFE front organisations and appointed a senior IFE figure as assistant chief executive of the council, though he was wholly unqualified for this senior post. Both the assistant chief executive and Rahman were subsequently removed from their jobs.

3) An extremist preacher was invited to speak in the council chamber and extremist literature, including audio tapes by the al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was stocked in Tower Hamlets libraries.

4) In 2010, after a campaign including large numbers of fake signatures led by the IFE, Tower Hamlets was changed from having a conventional council leader to a far more personally powerful, directly-elected mayor. In secret filming, senior IFE activists described how they would “get one of our brothers” into the new post.

5) Rahman personally signed up entire families as sham members of the Labour Party to win selection as the Labour mayoral candidate. He was selected, but was then removed by Labour’s National Executive Committee, and subsequently expelled from the party.

6) Rahman won election anyway as an independent, on a tiny turnout, after his (Muslim) Labour opponent was smeared as a wife-beater and enemy of Islam in thousands of newsletters produced with Rahman’s full knowledge. The new mayor was said by his campaign manager to have a “strategic relationship” with the IFE, with “most” of his campaigners being “either Respect or IFE activists.”

7) Even though Tower Hamlets is only 34 per cent Muslim, Rahman appointed a 100 per cent Bangladeshi and Muslim cabinet. He has never appointed any non-Muslim to any cabinet post and has no non-Muslim councillors.

8) Rahman has given control over the council’s finances to Alibor Choudhury, a former employee of an IFE front organisation with a long track record of encounters with the police. Rahman has himself taken personal control of all grants over £1000.

9) Under Rahman and Choudhury, council grants have been diverted away from secular bodies serving the whole community to IFE fronts and to other groups serving largely the Muslim community. Several of these groups, the council’s scrutiny committee found, are new and without any track record. Several appear to be based in people’s private homes. Several involve individuals with close personal connections to Rahman. (For a full account of Rahman’s Muslim grants favouritism, see here.)

10) Rahman has transferred valuable council properties to close personal associates at far less than their true market value, including a 10,000 square foot office building a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf which was sold for £875,000 to the man in charge of his election campaign website.

11) Key Rahman allies have been witnessed, and have not denied, engaging in a practice known as “vote-harvesting,” registering people for postal votes and then collecting their blank ballot papers.

12) Some of the supposed voters do not appear to exist. “Ghost” voters registered to empty properties or huge numbers of voters registered to small flats have been regular features of Tower Hamlets elections.

13) Rahman has presided over an atmosphere of menace and intimidation at council meetings. Phalanxes of Rahman supporters drafted in to the public galleries shout homophobic abuse at several key opponents of the mayor, who are gay. Rahman’s cabinet members, such as Alibor Choudhury, abuse their opponents as fascists.

14) Rahman has used council officers to hound and bully opposition councillors, spending tens of thousands of pounds of public money to make spurious, but time-consuming, legal attacks on them.

15) At council meetings, Rahman refuses to answer questions about any of these or most other issues, with officers saying that to do so would breach his human rights.

16) Rahman also refuses to engage with most other questioning. He has made almost no public appearances in this election campaign at any event where he would be required to answer questions.

17) Rahman largely ignores the non-Bengali media but pays tens of thousands of pounds of public money to UK-based Bengali-language TV stations – including £50,000 a year personally to one TV channel’s chief reporter. In return, they give him fawning coverage. The channels have been repeatedly censured by Ofcom, but it appears to make no difference.

18) Rahman has channelled further millions of taxpayers’ money into an extensive cult of personality. He has a weekly newspaper delivered to all households at public expense, containing often as many as a dozen pictures or mentions of himself.

19) Rahman has had hundreds of copies of his own picture displayed at public expense on billboards, lampposts, and even council dustcarts (to comply with election law, most have recently been removed.)

20) Rahman has used public funds to send thousands of personal letters, again with his picture on them, to residents claiming credit for things which are not his doing, such as the Government-funded council housing refurbishment programme.

21) Rahman has been hostile or indifferent to the borough’s non-Muslim heritage, threatening to close the local history library (reversed only after a storm of protest), selling off pubs and threatening them with closure, and attempting to dispose of a Henry Moore artwork whose form offended Islamic sensibilities. At the same time, he has created a new programme to channel hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to (mainly Muslim) faith buildings.

22) Rahman’s cabinet member for education, Oliur Rahman, appeared on a public platform with a group campaigning for the “unacceptability of homosexuality.”

23) Rahman’s cabinet member for the environment, Shahed Ali, avoided £25,000 in tax by liquidating his restaurant business, then immediately reopening the restaurant under a new name. He boasts that he used the proceeds to buy a Porsche.

24) Rahman’s cabinet member for culture, Rania Khan, mocked gay people and published pictures of knives on her social networking site, saying: “I know it’s not ladylike, but I luv my weapons.”

25) Rahman’s key funder, Shiraj Haque, a restaurateur, has a criminal caution for selling counterfeit wine. He was sacked from his chairmanship of a council-sponsored festival after suspicions that it was being used as a front for illegal immigration, but was reappointed by Rahman. Despite being a millionaire who owns at least seven properties, Haque has been given subsidised social housing by the council.

26) Rahman has repeatedly given character references for convicted criminals, including a sex attacker.

27) Rahman charges taxpayers up to £60,000 a year for a Mercedes car and chauffeur, which he has used, among other purposes, to collect his dry cleaning. No other elected mayor, including Boris Johnson, has a limousine. He claims he has now given it up, but this appears to be only for the election period.

28) Rahman has also spent large sums of public money on taxis for himself, including one purported fare of £71 to travel a distance of 400 metres and another £28 fare from a local McDonald’s to his office.

29) Rahman is accused by the Government of practising “divishttps://thenorthernmonkee.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpive community politics” and the “mismanagement of council staff and resources.”

30) Neither of the neighbouring boroughs, Hackney and Newham, will work with Rahman. The Labour mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, describes Rahman as “very bad news” and as creating a form of apartheid in his area.

So yes, there are concerns.

When I started writing this, it was looking that despite all his flaws, Rahman was on course to be re-elected.

The obvious question is how can this happen? More importantly, how is this not covered in greater detail in the news?

Well we can all speculate, but Gilligan tends to answer this question above when he refers to Rahman’s links. There’s all manner of other potential reasons, but none I’m willing to put on here.

What I will finish off with, is the story as it happened on Twitter…

After all this, I made one “harmless” tweet. One I already regret.

Almost straight afterwards, a response…

It’s going to be interesting in Tower Hamlets over the next few days. That’s Politics for you though.

Elf

ElfElf (2003) – Originally written November 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS (but then, it was always going to be predictable!)

So it’s Christmas time again, and as per usual, in amongst the “Lord Of The Rings” and the other big blockbusters, there’s the occasional Christmas fairytale. This year’s offering is “Elf” staring Will Ferrell, a film which is really exactly what should be expected.

In “Elf” Ferrell plays Buddy, a baby who one Christmas crawls into Santa’s sleigh, and is then raised by Elves as their own. Thirty years later and Buddy finally realises that he’s different to everyone else (despite being double their size of course). So with this in mind, Buddy heads off towards New York looking for his biological father (James Caan). Whilst there, Buddy influences everyone around him, and eventually revives the Christmas spirit.

So what can actually be said about “Elf”? Well, first and foremost, someone on here wrote that this film will be shown every Christmas for years to come. That person is spot on. “Elf” is forever going to be shown along with a selection of films (“Jingle All The Way”, etc) over Christmas at times when adults will want to sleep and children will want to be distracted. Secondly, it’s worth stating that this film isn’t as bad as some people might expect. If you expect cheese and you expect that weak plotted family film, your probably spot on. The special effects are simplistic when used, and the plot might be as weak as previously mentioned, but all in all, what would you expect from a film about an oversized elf?

I guess it’s hard to say too much about Farrell as I must admit to being a newcomer to his humour. He does what seems an acceptable job, and he cracks the occasional hilarious line. What seems ironic though is that some of the funniest lines are actually designed for adults and spoken by James Caan. Right now I can imagine people reading this review thinking “what the hell is he on about?”, well all I can suggest is to listen more carefully. There is, I admit they’re rare, the occasional really funny comment made in this film which, as a result of it being a childs film, probably won’t be noticed in a cinema full of children. These comments aren’t particularly hidden, but they are throw away comments which aren’t fussed over.

To summarise, “Elf” was never going to be anything special. It was always going to be a typical Christmas story, designed primarily for children, but with the occasional throw away adult line. With this definition in line, “Elf” fulfills it’s pledge. It doesn’t look though like the type of film which would really make too much money (In England anyway, it’s run has coincided not only with the final “Lord Of The Rings” film, but also with the far more appealing live action version of “Peter Pan”). This film is in the end of the day, definately one for television.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

LOTR-return of the kingThe Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (2003) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS

Well here we are, the final chapter in what is being referred to in some circles as the greatest trilogy of all time. Ultimately though, does “The Return Of The King” hold it’s ground against the other two? Truthfully, I’d say it’s ten times better.

I must confess before really considering this film, that when I think of the first two chapters, I find myself gritting my teeth together and wishing they’d go away. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good films which for the first time or two keep the audience gripped. The problem though with the first two is that they were so over publicised and so overly pushed that I’m just incredibly sick of them. Now, I know your probably sitting there and thinking “but surely the same can be said of chapter three?”, well at this moment in time, you’d be wrong. I remember going to see the second film at one of it’s first showings and coming out of it happy. I really enjoyed it. The problem was that whilst I did find it a breathtaking experience I found myself frustrated by talks of Oscars (neither of the first two films deserved anything other than technical awards) and of constant pushing to see it. In “The Return Of The King” however, whilst again leaving with a feeling of awe and satisfaction, I do confess I can hear Oscars for Best Film and Best Director in the background.

In this film, everything built up in the first and second films are concluded, often in the heat of battle and also often with a tear in the eye. The paths of all the characters are woven together in a Spiders Web which even Shelob the Spider would be proud of.

Moving away from plot (as I don’t want to ruin anything for people), what can be said about this film?

The special effects are absolutely beautiful, the makeup superb, the acting good (but possibly not quite Oscar winning), and everything else which is part of this film is by and large superb. I won’t deny that the beginning and ending do take what seems like forever, however both are necessary. It’s hard really to describe the good points of this film, but as far as I’m concerned, if something can’t be heavily analyzed, that’s a sign that there’s nothing wrong with it.

Having said all of the above, is there anything I really dislike about this film? Only two things really stand out to me in all honesty. Firstly, I can’t help but feel that by enlarging it by 20minutes and including Christopher Lee’s scenes, then it would add a bit more of a dimension to the conclusion regarding the ending of “The Two Towers”. His absence is noticeable and rather than just cutting it, the film feels as if he has died and they’ve looked for loop-holes to avoid featuring him. The second thing I hate about this film? Truthfully, it’s not as much this film as the Trilogy. Basically, I HATE Cate Blanchett’s character. Galadriel the Elven Queen is an incredibly irritating and infuriating woman. It feels at times in this film like herself & Liv Tyler’s Arwen have simply turned up and attempted to share the glory without actually doing anything. Add this to the fact that Blanchett’s voice seems almost satirical in how bad it is, and you’re left with a spine scrappingly frustrating character.

Ultimately though, I mustn’t complain. Some die hard fans have already began to complain about a few changes from the book plot, but I’m left with the naivety of life as I’ve not read them. This, sided with the fact that as with most males, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the whole knights and swords scenario, leaves me feeling a glow after watching this film. If someone complains about this movie, let them go ahead, but don’t listen to hard. If someone (including myself) complains about how over publicized these films have been, again let them moan, but ignore them. Finally, if someone would state in no uncertain terms that the third film in the trilogy isn’t the best, then leave them to it as simply put, they probably are lying and haven’t seen this film yet.

To conclude, I’m just going to say three words, See this movie!

Road Trip

RoadTripRoad Trip (2000) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS

It’s hard to know what to say about “Road Trip” really. Done in 2000, right in the middle between “American Pie” and “American Pie 2”, this film carries on the traditions that the original Pie film introduces, and whilst it lacks the coming of age meaning, it is still worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as the Pie Trilogy.

In “Road Trip”, Josh (Breckin Meyer.. soon to be seen as Jon Arbuckle in “Garfield”), E.L. (Seann William Scott in Stifler mode), Rubin (Paulo Costanzo) and Kyle (DJ Qualls) embark on a road trip from Ithika University all the way to Austin University a total of 1,800 miles away. On the way the guys have many crazy experiences happen to them, and things then round themselves off nicely. Truth be told, that’s about the whole plot. As was shown in “Master & Commander” three years later however, a simplistic plot is not necessarily a bad thing.

Ok, I admit it’s not going to take much time to analyse this film, but that is a good thing. “Road Trip” contains typical gross-out humour, standard acting by a young cast, the inevitable scenes of brief nudity and ultimately everything to keep a teenage boy happy.

Truthfully, I can’t really think of anything bad to say about this movie. I could insult Tom Green, but for once the guy makes me laugh a lot and I’m grateful for his participation. The soundtrack is excellent, scripting as you’d generally expect, and even the limited special effects (for example, a car blowing up) are done to acceptable levels.

Whilst it may not have the originality of the very first “American Pie” film, “Road Trip” is still something which people can watch over and over again. It doesn’t stretch the brain at all, and it wouldn’t win any awards. However, if you love the “American Pie” films, then I can’t think of any reason for you to hate this. Sit back, relax, shut your brain off, and enjoy.

Bruce Almighty

BruceAlmightyBruce Almighty (2003) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS (Although lets be honest, it’s not like you didn’t expect these before the film even started)

“Bruce Almighty” is Jim Carrey’s attempt to return to his face twisting, funny guy ways, and by his standards, I quite like it. In this film, Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a News Reporter who dreams of that elusive Anchor slot. After an awful day, Bruce curses and swears at God, until eventually God answers. God (played without any real effort by Morgan Freeman) blesses/curses Bruce with his powers and sends him out into the real world to experience the ultimate job. Bruce sets off straight away to fix his life and only ends up making parts of it worse. By the end, most of what you’d expect to happen, happens, and you finish watching the film feeling like you’ve just watched any regular none descript comedy, which ironically, is what you have done.

Let’s get this straight right away, “Bruce Almighty” would never win any awards, it was never meant to. This film is there for you to relax to one night and be able to shut your mind off whilst watching. Carrey performs in his old style, and whilst he infuriates me in so many of his films, in this I found myself actually warming to his character. Carrey is a good actor, we saw that in “The Truman Show”, and in this he shows in a few scenes how emotional he can be.

Other than Carrey, what else can be said about this film? Not much really. The script is at times hilarious, at times sickeningly sweet, but ultimately satisfying, the other actors acceptable, and the message simply that if you want something, you’ve got to work for it.

Some people really hate this film, and whilst I can appreciate that Carrey might infuriate them, I just don’t get why someone would detest this so much? It’s nothing special for sure, but it’s by no means awful either.

I suppose the one thing which, looking back on it, really makes me laugh about this film is how so many people on this website have made comments about religion. I mean, yeah this film is about a guy who becomes God for a few days, but ultimately, it never had to be God. God is a recognisable, easy to explain figure, but really Bruce could have got his powers from anybody. All this film ever needed to do was allow us to sit back, relax, and show us that (to quote Spiderman) with great power comes great responsibility. That’s all.

If you choose to watch this film, and I recommend you should, leave your brain outside as it isn’t needed. “Bruce Almighty” is simply another chilled out film for a family to watch on a night in together. It’s by no means the best film of 2003 (not even close), but at the same time, it’s by no means the worst. You get what you pay for and that’s really the best way to summarise. Enjoy!

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

JimmyNeutronJimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS

There’s not too much that can really be said about “Jimmy Neutron” as far as films go. A previous reviewer described it as something to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon and that sounds like an adequate description. There are a few reviews on this website of the film though which feel a bit harsh. Ultimately, theres no denying that “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” is a kids film, that’s what it was meant to be, that’s what it is. That’s not a bad thing though. Whilst it may not have the adult humour of other animations (mainly the greatest animation of them all, “Shrek”), it does still have the occasional funny joke that will make people of all ages laugh. Whilst the plot is a bit wafer thin and the animation a bit simplistic at times, I’d like to see most of the reviewers on this website try and do better. Ultimately, I can understand that to some people, this film may not be their cup of tea, and for a long time I avoided trying to watch it. Once you sit down and give it the time of day though, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Not the best animation of the last few years, but definately worth a viewing.

Here’s Looking At You Kid

“Goodbye”

She whispered in his ear & looked at him. A tear softly emerged from her eye and dripped onto her cheek.

He looked at her & held her tight.

He had no idea how it’d come to this. He thought about the days & nights together. The variety of meals, the long moonlight strolls along the dimly lit streets of the London river bank. The nights where they’d lay on the bed, intertwined as one, relaxing as the television pictures had flickered in front of their eyes. That amazing day in the French Capital, drinking coffee, walking until their feet didn’t function at all.

It all felt like a dream looking back. A time long gone. He didn’t know what he’d felt then, he didn’t know how he felt now. He just knew he had been happy.

Now, all that time later, he was losing her.

Their time together had been at the avoidance of one truth. Something they’d struggled to forget. One fact that there was no work around from. She was married.

He’d freaked out about it at the time, but when they were together, it faded into memory. He thought to himself on reflection that it would probably be insurmountable, but it was something to forget & savour their time together.

He saw himself as a Humphrey Bogart. A man who cared, but that would always lose her. She would go back to the husband & who knows what would’ve happened next.

His trademark curled smile appeared gradually on his lips & a faint chuckle. He’d been stupid. They both had really. To think that the other man, her husband of many years, to think he wouldn’t find out about their time together. About their bond. About this happiness. He was bound to.

Their escape from reality had been discovered. Their moments of joy unearthed. They’d looked into the abyss & the darkness of life had engulfed them whole.

It would go without saying that her husband would end their communion. That he would threaten her with the worst if she had anything further communication.

The husband wasn’t stupid. He, like the pair of them, was aware of the truth. The simple fact that history never really accepts. The fact that despite our better judgement, it IS possible to love two people at the same time.

She’d been put on the spot & she was only ever going to be able to go one way. Her husband, a decent man really, had been honest. He was hurting, but he loved her. He’d promised to be a better man, to talk more, to put more time into their relationship. To right his wrongs.

By contrast, our hero, our Bogart. He didn’t even know his own emotions. He knew she meant the world to him, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He certainly wasn’t willing to put that “L” word out there. It meant too much to him. It had been thrown around by everyone far too many times. When he wanted to use that word, he wanted to be 100% sure. For her, that could never be enough. There was too much to lose from her old life, too much to risk. The husband was always destined to win.

So here they were. Parting. Was it for the last time? He didn’t believe so. He just suspected it would be a while.

She’d heard him chuckle & looked into his eyes.

“What?”

He looked back at her & then softly, barely touching the skin, kissed her forehead.

“I don’t believe in goodbye.”

She frowned, looking at him like he was living in a dreamworld. Maybe he still was. For now, he wasn’t ready to lose her forever.

“I know you’ve got to go.” He softly spoke, stroking her hair as the words left his lips.

“This isn’t the end though. We’ll see each other again. One day. You’ll see.”

Her frown softly faded away & a her lips faintly curled, a sad smile gradually began to form.

“Yes, perhaps.”

The smile formed.

“And if not… We’ll always have Paris.”

She kissed him softly & then broke their connection. She’d stolen his line. He’d wanted to say that himself. In that moment though, it didn’t matter.

They sadly looked at each other, then, with a sad forelorn look, she turned around & walked away. He watched her as she went. Then, for the first & last time, a word left his lips.

“Goodbye.”

Cottage Pie – An Idiot’s Guide (hypothetically)

I’m not a cook, I never have been.

Personal attitude has always been that spending an hour knocking up a meal for 10-15minutes of eating, it just tends not to make sense.

I guess that’s why I’m a bit happier to try larger meals, ones that’ll last for the whole week (or at least the majority). I’ve never been that bothered about learning though, so it has been a bit of a slow development.

Today however was different. Unemployment, it turns out has benefits.

Whilst the job hunt never really developed today, the run down & mucus cough didn’t prevent me from (using the below instructions from the Joyce Bonney Cookbook) trying my hand at a spot of Cottage Pie. It wasn’t perfect, slightly too much water, but as a first go, I’m pleased with it.

So, here, using my Mother’s instructions is How to make Cottage Pie, an Idiot’s Guide.

Ingredients

  1. 500g of minced beef
  2. 3 x decent sized Potatoes
  3. 2 x Onions
  4. 2 x Oxo cubes
  5. Butter (personal preference for quantity)
  6. Cheddar Cheese (again, personal preference)

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Potatoes

  1. Chop up potatoes, not necessarily peel, but cut out mouldy bits.
  2. Put in cold water in pan & simmer until potatoes are soft (approximately 30minutes).
  3. Tip away water and mash up with butter.

Onions

  1. Peel and chop the onions [Good God this stings] into thin slices.
  2. Throw away any manky looking bits.
  3. Fry in the oil until soft (approximately 5-10minutes). Try not to burn.

Mince

  1. Add the mince to the onions and fry until brown (approximately 10minutes).
  2. Add boiling water, enough to cover the mince & onions.
  3. Add Oxo Cubes (crumbled not whole).
  4. Simmer for 30-45minutes.

Post Cooking

  1. Put the mince/onions into a metal tray, smoothing it out.
  2. Add the mashed potato on top.
  3. Sprinkle gratted cheese on top.
  4. Put in the oven until cheese melts.

 

Conclusion

Over did the water covering the mince, so the gravy was a wee bit weak, but for a 1st attempt, I’m happy with it.

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Next time, I’ll try to get the sacred Sausage Roll receipe! Next time!

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