Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Party Gras!

Mardi Gras is my favorite holiday. What's not to love? You get to dress up, wander around New Orleans dressed up as a pirate or a flashing cow, drink heavily, eat Popeye's and king cake, and at the end of the day you have a big pile of beads (and, occasionally, herpes).

It's like everyone's favorite things all wrapped into one holiday!

But ever since Betty and I had kids, Mardi Gras has become extra fun... because we get to use our kids as props to get more beads. We still dress up, but now we're more like extensions of their costumes.

And it all starts with Betty.

She's the brains behind any operation dealing with the Tanory clan. I generally just write about stuff - but she's the one who thinks of it in the first place.

This year we went to Mardi Gras as characters from Peter Pan. My son, Peter, was Peter Pan (naturally). My daughter Anne was Tinkerbell. Betty was Wendy, her dad was Mr. Smee, her mom was the crocodile, and I was Captain Hook.

I should say that I was one of two Captain Hooks. Betty's cousin Julie dressed up as Izzy from Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and her son dressed up as a much better looking Captain Hook than I did.

I'm not too old to admit that I was jealous of his outfit.

We usually hang out on the neutral ground side of St. Charles near Napoleon or General Pershing. The good thing about that place is that there's a school - I think it's Sacred Heart - that's right behind us, and they have dozens of port-o-potties. $1 gets you a fast pass to the port-o-lets, and $5 gets you an all-day pass. This was the first year that I didn't have to use the restrooms a single time at Mardi Gras, but I'd like to take this time to apologize to the people standing in front of me - I think I ruined your tarp. When in New Orleans, right?

Thanks, New Orleans, for another great Mardi Gras! Or as we called it in Pirate talk, Maaaardi Graaaaaas! See you next year! By the way, my suggestion for next year's family theme is to make t-shirts that just say, "Boobies!" and then flash our shirts to random strangers. Why not? It's New Orleans!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Does Marvel Comics Hate Science?

I love comic books. I love reading them, I love movies based on comic books and graphic novels, and I love pretending to be Wolverine when my hair gets really long.

But I also love science. And that's why I'm disappointed that apparently Marvel Comics hates science even more than it hates logical story lines.

Let's look at the facts, shall we? For starters, nearly every super-villain got his or her powers as the result of some scientific experiment.

Dr. Doom built a machine to project the astral form of a person into another dimension, but it exploded in his face. Magneto wears a helmet that protects him from Professor X's psychic powers, so he's free to go rearranging all of your magnetic letters on your fridge at will. Norman Osborn ran Osborn Industries, which created chemicals and robotics, and he became the the first Green Goblin after he injected himself with a serum his company developed. Sabretooth was a product of the Weapon X Program.

And all of those guys were dicks. Thanks a lot, Science.

But you're probably thinking (if you're in nerd-mode like me), didn't many superheroes get their powers from scientific experiments gone awry as well?

Yes: Bruce Banner became the Hulk due to his exposure to gamma rays while testing an experimental gamma bomb at a nuclear facility. And the Hulk is always angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry, by the way. Reed Richards became Mr. Fantastic due to something dealing with aliens - I don't know, it's really complicated, even for the comics. Plus you've got to be pretty arrogant to call yourself "Mr. Fantastic." (Although, if he had so chosen, he could have been called Dr. Fantastic.) Peter Parker becomes Spider-man after a radioactive spider bites him. Who would radiate a spider, anyway? Probably some ass-clown scientist, that's who. And Wolverine was also a byproduct of Weapon X, although to be fair, he was already pretty awesome before he joined Weapon X.

If we've learned anything from the comic book movies, it's that being a superhero is tough work. When everything is going well then everyone loves you, but when you don't stop every little super-villain from destroying city hall, everyone's on your case. Plus your loved ones get targeted and kidnapped by the bad guys, you can never stop to go to the bathroom for fear of someone needing your help, and you've always got to wear your spandex superhero costume under your regular work clothes.

Basically, being a superhero sucks. You know what all those superheroes are thinking: Thanks a lot, Science, for making us into superheroes.

There are a lot of aliens and galactic beings in the comics as well. All of these are basically there to tell you to not go into outer space. And even some of these galactic beings, such as Galactus, were scientists on their home planets.

I was about to say that I would never again be interested in science knowing now that it's so harmful to our lives, and could either turn us into super-villains or superheroes (and thus have to save people from super-villains all day), but then I got a look at some of the female superheroes and decided that maybe science is OK after all.

Thanks, Science!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Symbology of Peter Pan

I love watching Peter Pan with my kids. I especially love the music that comes on whenever the crocodile appears. Tick, tock, tick, tock!

But is something else going on, maybe on a deeper level, with Peter Pan? I think so, only I've just realized it after having watched the Disney cartoon several hundred times with my kids.

Let's look at Peter Pan's name, specifically the "Pan" part. In Greek religion and mythology, Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. Does that sound familiar?

Peter Pan is sort of godlike in the fact that he can fly, never grows up, and can travel between the stars (well, at least from Earth back to Neverland). He plays a flute called a "pan flute" (also known as a pan pipe). He hangs out with nymphs - clearly Tinkerbell is a nymph if I've ever seen one, and I've looked at enough softcore Japanese anime to know a nymph when I've seen one. He wears all green, which is associated with nature. Pan is always characterized by being a lady's man (er, goat?), and Peter Pan loves the mermaids hanging out at Mermaid Lagoon. He's sort of like a shepherd to the Lost Boys, always keeping them together.

If Peter Pan indicates Pan, then who is everyone else?

For starts, I think Captain Hook could represent the devil. Hook is definitely evil. He's always trying to kill Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and this is probably symbolic of trying to take a child's innocence. Hook dresses all in red, smokes, and has a mustache that ends in two sharp points, possibly indicating the horns of the devil or even a forked tongue. Hook only has one hand, which may indicate that he's not whole. Luckily for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, Hook is surrounded by bumbling idiots. Hook is a pirate so is always on the sea, although it could easily be a lake of fire if we stretch this analogy out far enough.

And sure, I get that Captain Hook also symbolizes adulthood, and also that Captain Hook is the Neverland counterpart to Wendy's dad. The same actor even usually portrays both Wendy's dad and Captain Hook, even in the Disney movie. So maybe Wendy has daddy issues.

So Peter Pan is Pan, Captain Hook is the Devil, Tinkerbell is a sexy nymph... who is everyone else?

Wendy, although just a child who is about to be kicked out of the nursery by her father during the events of the movie, may represent the Earth Mother or Mother Goddess. After all, Peter Pan wants her to be a mom to all of the Lost Boys. And naturally enough (being nature spirit-ly and all that), she chooses to go back home and grow old.

Let's say that I'm grasping at straws here. Maybe it's nothing more than Peter Pan represents childhood and Captain Hook represents adulthood, and Wendy and her brothers are just caught in between. I think I'll have to do more research in order to really find out. So, I guess I'll go look at some more softcore Japanese anime and try to determine if I'm right. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Proof That Every Idea Has Already Been Thought Of

There's a theory that every idea that could ever be possibly thought up already has been thought up by someone else. And in an effort to do something worthwhile, I decided to test this theory by thinking up horrible puns, and then determining if someone has already created one or more web pages about them.

Because, you know, if there's no web page dedicated to it then there's no proof that anybody actually thought about it.

I tried to think up something simple, something that everyone recognizes and then add a little twist to it. So I thought of how a golf ball has dimples. I decided to draw a golf ball, magnified so you can see the dimples, and then write something under it that says, "I love your dimples!" or "Dimples are cute!"

But it's been done.

My second idea was to have a salt shaker sitting next to a battery (preferably a C or a D, since they're thicker), with the words, "A Salt and Battery" under them. But that's been done, too.

I thought of a pack of Life Savers candy being actual life guards, and saving someone's life, and then that person looking up at the Life Savers candy and saying, "Thanks, man! You're a life-saver!" And although I didn't find that exactly, I did find a website that not only has anthropomorphic pictures of Life Savers dressed as people, but also explains how and why Life Savers give off a spark when you chew them (in case you didn't know).

I know these puns are awful, but I'm determined to think up even worse puns and then search for them online. If I find any, I'll let you know. But not before I make a website about them so that everyone else knows that it's already been done.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Super Bowl Super Foods

We decided to make Super Foods for the Super Bowl. And what's more super than pizza?

After all, New York is known for its pizzas, and I was pulling for the New York Giants because Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard were on my fantasy football team this year and they both play for the Giants. (Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis - RB for the Pats - was also on my fantasy team, but he didn't give me as many points as Cruz and Ballard.)

Here's how you can make your own Super Pizzas:

Step 1. Get your wife to buy all of the ingredients for you ahead of time. You don't want to be stuck "making groceries" (as we say in South Louisiana, for no reason whatsoever other than it's funny) the day of the game.

Step 2. Get your wife to take out all of the ingredients for you. Also have her preheat the oven to the correct temperature.

You can optionally do these first two steps yourself. I'm basically not capable of doing this myself, and my wife knows this so she just handles it for me.

Step 3. Make the dough in advance. We used yeast from a California Pizza Kitchen package. We chose California Pizza Kitchen in order to make our pizza non-biased towards any particular football team, even though I was pulling for the Giants.

I was in charge of making dough for our pizza, and I screwed up royally: I used a whole cup of water instead of a half cup of water when mixing in the yeast. When I poured my water into the rest of the flour and mixed it in, it was all watery. The end result? We had to add more flour and yeast, which resulted in more dough, which resulted in MORE PIZZA.

See how I turned this tragedy into an inspiring story of perseverance? I'm like the Rudy of pizza.

After you've made your dough, put it in a bowl greased with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We don't want that skank olive oil that's been all over the neighborhood - we want the Extra Virgin kind. We have to eat this thing, after all. Let the dough sit in the fridge for two hours, then "punch" it down (while insulting its mother), then put it back in the fridge again until it's time to use it.

Step 4. Roll out the dough for your pizza. Alternative name for this step: Make a gigantic mess in your kitchen.

This step is the most fun, because this is where you get to use a big roller. Holding a roller is a very manly thing to do. Think about it: If anyone comes by you while you're cooking, you can always bonk them on the head; or, if you prefer, you can simulate sex acts with it. Either way, both activities are what is to be expected from a male making pizza in his own kitchen.

Just be warned: your wife is equally capable of assaulting you with the roller. Stay at least six feet away while she's working, especially if she's helping you with your pizza because you are, like me, completely incapable of doing it yourself.

Because Betty fixed my watery dough by adding more flour, we had extra dough. That meant we could make extra pizzas. We decided to make some mini pizza pockets. They started out like this:

We just cut the dough into football-ish shapes, put some pizza sauce down, sprinkled on a few miniature peps, then added a dash of cheese. Then we covered the whole thing with another layer of dough. You can use a fork to make little bird's feet (as I call them) in the dough, to keep the top and bottom together. Here's what the insides looked like before we cooked them:

And here's what they looked like when they were finished:

Dip those tasty pigskins in pizza sauce and you've got yourself a party snack that both tastes great and can also be thrown in a spiral!

Step 5. Put the pizza in the oven for 10 minutes, then eat it. Most cookbooks leave off the part about eating it, but we here at the Tantrum have your back!

OK, so I said that we had more pizza dough due to my miscalculation with the yeasty water. It's true. We had enough dough to make three pizzas, so that's what we did. Our first pizza was in the form of pizza pockets, as shown above. The second pizza was a giant football.

Here's a "Before" picture, to show you what we were going for:

And here's our "After" picture:

Close enough for us!

In between was basically a lot of me asking Betty how to do stuff. Like, should I have put the Pam cooking spray on the pan before putting the dough on it? (Yes, she sighed, as she fixed my mistake for me.) Should I put the pizza on the top or bottom rack? (Bottom, she sighs, as she fixes my mistake for me.) Oh, I forgot to set the timer, can you check the pizza for me? (Yes, she sighs, as she handles this for me.) I asked another thousand questions, but can't remember them all, otherwise I would list them here. I was pretty pathetic about the whole thing.

Our third Super Food pizza was a pepperoni pizza with bacon. We had eaten grits earlier in the day, and Betty and I like to add torn up bacon to our grits. I made an insane amount of bacon, but my kids ate it all. I didn't mind because I was happy to see them eating at least something, but I was in the mood for bacon all day. And since Betty denied my request to smother her with bacon later in the evening, I had to go with bacon on my pizza.

For dessert we had strawberries and chocolate. If you're wondering, yes, Betty also denied my request to smother her with this later in the evening. (I wanted to make a life-sized chocolate statue - what were you thinking???)

The best part about making pizzas today was the quality time with my family. Betty helped me every step of the way, my kids helped to pour in all of the ingredients and mix everything in, and my parents helped to eat it while keeping the kids entertained.

As for me... well, we made three pizzas today and couldn't eat them all. But writing about them has made me hungry. So I guess it's off to have a late night snack! And the next time I make homemade pizzas, I'll need to remember to add that extra half cup of water to the yeast!