My character… he realizes that the apocalyptic crime rate is because of global deceleration. The rotation of the earth is slowing down at a rate of point zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero six miles per hour each day disrupting the chemical equilibrium in the human brain causing very irrational criminal behavior.
–Boxer Santaros, Southland Tales
Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic then they originally predicted.
–Krysta Now, Southland Tales.
Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales has got to be one of the strangest movies I’ve seen in a long time. It makes his previous film, Donnie Darko (which I loved), seem completely linear and normal by comparison. Half way through Southland Tales (which by the way is quite Lynchian, although it almost seems to want to out-Lynch David Lynch to the point where if Richard Kelly continues down this path you might have to describe Lynch’s movies as being quite Kellyian), and I’m shifting and fidgeting, still undecided as to whether I loath or like the film. Occasionally I’m still laughing out loud; almost relieved that I’m able to find some connection and relatable humour within the film. Boxer Santaros’ (Dwayne Johnson) mixture of anxiety and innocence is amusing, and I love the character of Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Other times, I’m confused and irritated by how messy and unexplained it appears to be. Later I discover that there were three graphic novels released by Kelly that preceed the story told in the movie. Would that be like watching The Return of the King, without first seeing The Fellowship and Two Towers?
Anyway, I still like Richard Kelly.
Onto a more straightforward topic : Cake.
My boss set me the task of making two small birthday cakes for his kids. A Barbie cake for the girl and a Spiderman cake for the boy.
Sometimes I envy children, whose worlds are so small that the only choices they need to make are whether to have chocolate or strawberry milk. As we grow up, suddenly there seems to be so much choice. When did buying toothpaste become so complicated, for example? I don’t understand why there are so many types to choose from when it seems more logical to want your toothpaste to do everything for you. Tartar control, whitening, fresh breath.. are there really people out there who want white teeth whilst retaining the uniqueness of possessing bad breath?
There was nothing complicated about having to choose what cake to make for these kids. Charlie was adamant about wanting a Spiderman cake for his 4th birthday, despite having a Princess and Pirates theme for his joint birthday party with his 2 year old sister. I’ve seen the photos, and it’s quite cute to see all the little pirates gathered around a Spiderman cake.
With the Spidey cake, I was supplied with a few examples to pick from. One was of Spidey’s face as the whole cake, but I was quite taken by the one of a sugar figurine crawling on top of a web. Having never made a figurine before, I was a bit worried about doing a decent job of it. It seems to have turned out okay in the end though. Once you paint on the black webbing on his legs, arms and face, it starts to look a bit more like Spiderman. The cake started out as a plain vanilla cake from the Confetti Cakes book, with a vanilla and white chocolate ganache. It was covered with fondant, with a border of red fondant balls to compliment the colour of Spiderman’s suit. The figurine which I kneaded and rolled into shape at home, in front of the tv (too busy at work to complete it there), was later placed on top of the cake after it had hardened a bit. I agonised over the end result, because there were parts I wasn’t completely happy with, but then my boss said, “Don’t forget, it’s a cake for a FOUR year old!”.
The Barbie cake was slightly more fun to make. I’ve never owned a Barbie before, so I found it intriguing that once I had released her from her box, I had this urge to want to play with her hair and tweak her limbs around. This was just before I suffocated her with clingwrap so as to keep her clean while the cake construction was happening around her. After walking down several pink Barbie aisles at various toy shops, I couldn’t find any accessories (is Barbie on the wane?), so I made her a necklace from piped royal icing. The cake was a dark chocolate mudcake (a Planet Cake recipe) with dark chocolate ganache. The best part was decorating the skirt – like being a kid again, playing dressups. If you’re thinking of making a similar cake, I found this site very helpful.
Lastly, a girl and boy-themed set of cupcakes for the kids to take to their respective (pre)schools. Pictured below, are the boy ones, which were a collection of monster cupcakes. While I’ve never been a fan of licorice allsorts, it’s hard to deny their usefulness in doubling as monster eyes. I remember my niece was quite into the whole gross-out thing at a similar age so I thought extra lurid, ugly monster faces would appeal to Charlie. Apparently they were a hit. With the leftover cupcakes, I iced them rather haphazardly and set them out for co-workers to eat. One with spiky blue icing resembled cookie monster quite by accident, so for future reference, I could probably do a set of Sesame Street cupcakes – the cookie monster one would have a bit of a chocolate chip cookie wedged into his mouth! 😀
Embracing my inner monster, I’m submitting these cupcakes to Arfi’s Cupcakes Spectacular event. Yes, they don’t look very pretty, but I think they’re spectacular all the same. Spectacularly monstrous, that is!
Vanilla Cupcakes :
(from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook)
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g softened unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 170C. Line two 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake papers.
Sift together the flour and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes.
Add caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.
Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each minute or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
Add a third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process.
Add the remaining third of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined; do not over-beat or the mixture will toughen.
Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.