"A Christmas Story" cookies

Merry Christmas!

These are some of our low-sugar sugar cookies made with Splenda and Splenda-based frosting. Alas, the label on the decorating gel reads, "corn syrup, sugar, water, ..." so we can't call them sugar-free.

This was my wife's first attempt at frosted cookies, made trickier for trying to use Splenda to make the frosting. The frosting turned out a bit grainy but it's delicious. She's sure she can correct the process next time she tries it, to achieve a smoother frosting. Also, we found the frosting a bit tricky to spread upon, without breaking, the cookies. We lost one bunny ear and two bunny feet before we figured out the best way to do it. Be generous with the frosting. Rather than spreading it onto the cookie, like butter, we put on too much and sculpted away what we didn't need. I managed to give the turkeys and the leg lamps a nice 3-D impression by using the sculpting method. Having never done this before, I'm fairly pleased with the results and look forward to trying again.

Next, we tried to add details. Neither of us had used decorating gels before and we found them a bit tricky to manage, made no easier by the rough frosting. First off, the gels seem to separate a bit inside their tubes which makes the first bits to come out runny, rather like the watery stuff that comes out of a mustard bottle. Some of the mistakes are evident in this photo, particularly the red on the candy cane, the yellow on the bright tree, and the blue on the same tree and the teddy bear eyes.
I tried mushing the tube of yellow around a bit to blend the gel but it didn't seem to help. Best bet is to simply squeeze out the runny part onto a paper towel or something until the thickened gel comes out. Also, it's a good idea to let the frosting dry well before applying gels. Shaped or sculpted frosting tends to have rough edges which can make applying fine lines of gel difficult. Perhaps our future frosting, being smoother, will help alleviate this problem. It's worth noting that yellow, blue, and purple were the runniest colors in this project. I believe the red on the candy cane only bled because the frosting was still moist when the gel was applied.

These cookies aren't perfect, but my wife always does a great job in the kitchen. She normally won't let me near anything she's working on, but this time was different and I think we'll be collaborating again. We're proud of our sophomore effort and these cookies taste great. I'm sure they'll go over well with the family tomorrow. They're meant to be a special treat for Dad, but I know he'll share. ;-)

Once again
Merry Christmas!
Posted by Picasa


9. Speed Racer - The Top 10 Everything of 2008 - TIME

9. Speed Racer - The Top 10 Everything of 2008 - TIME: "Speed Racer is the future of movies" - Richard Corliss
Go, Speed Racer. Go!

Obsession? Perhaps.

I've only seen the movie twice (on opening weekend and again upon the DVD release).
I will absolutely be enjoying it again, many, many times.

"Speed Racer" was such a gem, and so poorly received, that I am determined to defend and recommend the film every time it comes up.

As for the ranking... I wonder where "The Dark Knight" is and why I've never heard of the movie at #10. I'd have to place "The Dark Knight" above "Speed Racer" on my movie list. Included would be "Kung Fu Panda", "WALL-E", and "Burn After Reading", but not in that particular order.

For the rest of TIME's Top 10 lists for 2008 visit:


R.I.P. - Forrest "Forrie" J. Ackerman (old post hiding in draft until now 1/30/09)

There is no shortage of information about Forrest J. Ackerman. I've spent most of my life either admiring or envying the man... I'm not really sure which feeling is most accurate. The only thing I have to add is my remembrance of his influence on me. I never met the man, though I would certainly have enjoyed doing so. Until the announcement of his passing, the last thing I'd heard about/from/of him was an interview in the "Geeks On" podcast. He seemed a warm fellow, but a no-nonsense sort... he put me in mind of my Grandpa.

When I was a kid I was an avid reader of "The Monster Times" and I dutifully disemboweled each issue to place it's monstrous centerfold somewhere in my bedroom. Back then I didn't actually read much in the issues but I would pore through every page for cool pictures of things both familiar and never before imagined. Star Trek and Godzilla were familiar to me. I loved "sci-fi" and all the gigantic beasts from Japan, but the horror movies and monsters were new to me.

I remember being easily and frequently scared when I was little. Steve McQueen's nemesis, "The Blob", prevented me from ever developing a taste for puddings. The mere sight of Phyllis Diller on TV caused me to hide in another room, away from the set. I don't know when it happened, but I somehow got over my frights and "The Monster Times" was a big part of that.
Later came Starlog. I collected Starlog from issue #1 through issue #43. By this time I was doing a bit more reading. I would flip the pages of every issue and try to learn about only the things that caught my eye. "Sci-fi" was my primary interest, having been groomed with Trek, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Space: 1999, UFO, Silent Running, and that damned Blob.

Starlog is where I became aware of Forrest Ackerman. I seem to remember a photo of him standing next to Robby the Robot but I could be mistaken about that. I had only seen Robby once before, versus B-9 (aka 'Robot') on "Lost in Space", but this photo of a regular man standing next to a menace out of space and time finally broke the spell, the horror was gone, and new ideas were planted in that freshly tilled soil of imagination, mystery, and fear. Forrest Ackerman was playing with toys, just as I did. But, his were the coolest toys in the history of Humanity.

With Forrie serving as a mental ground-wire for my imagination, I began to learn a little bit about how these cool movies were made. He reminded me that these monsters and aliens weren't REAL and allowed me to tremble with other fears, like UFO's, Bigfoot, and the supernatural.

I owe you a big load of thanks Mr. Ackerman. You were a sort of lighthouse, steering this man's young mind away from the rocks of childhood horrors. Thank you.