Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Retro Review X 4 or: How I Got Netflix Back

Insidious: Chapter 2
Thankfully, among the many things my amazing sister did for me, was help an electronically-challenged old fart reset his Wii, which got me back to Netflix, where I caught two of the four movies I finally got to see in between visits and the work they did.

The first was last year's Steve Carrell box-office failure comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a movie from which I think most people expected too much. And while it fails at being the Anchorman of magician movies, it succeeds quite well on smaller levels. Burt (Carrell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) have been best friends and magical partners since they were bullied 5th graders. Ten years after signing a multi-million dollar contract to headline at hotelier Doug Munny's (get it?) new Vegas hotel, they have done the same tired show thousands of times and have been reduced to bickering strangers thanks to Burt's full-on Diva mode. In comes Criss Angel-inspired Steve Grey (a VERY in-shape Jim Carrey), who is clearly insane, and suddenly ticket sales for Burt & Anton are falling. At the urging of Munny (the late, great James Gandolfini in one of his last roles), the two try a spectacular new stunt, which goes immediately awry and splits the pair for good. Alan Arkin plays Burt's childhood hero as his patently crotchety old man, but it serves the role well and Olivia Wilde is the perfect foil for Carrell's antics as stage-hand-turned-assistant, Jane. Of course, the eventual romance between the two was telegraphed well into the first act, but was still completely unconvincing. One of my favorite character actors - Jay Mohr - has a supporting role of a fellow magician with the hilariously unlikely name of 'Rick the Implausible.' What struck me most about this movie was it's heart. You could tell it was made with love by people who believed in it, and it actually is a sweet story of friendship and redemption, the last act is so ridiculous as to make what's come before, meaningless. I went in with lowered expectations and came out surprised by it's goofy sweetness. ** 1/2 (Two and a Half Stars Out of Four). The Incredible Burt Wonderstone currently playing on Showtime.

Next up was Insidious: Chapter 2 on Netflix. I was very much a fan of the first film, but missed it's sequel's theatrical release and was excited to return to the creepy realm created by Leigh Whannell and James Wan in the first film. The original cast is back, though it was odd hearing Lin Shaye's voice coming out of the mouth of  'young-alike' actor Linsey Seim. Whannell's script goes a long to explaining why the events of the first film happened, though oddly giving the explanation an exceptionally Freudian twist (though the Mama in this movie puts the 'batsh*t' in 'batsh*t crazy.'
Performances are fine, across the board though it is apparent that Wan has lost his taste for horror (he has announced that he is through with the genre) and the sequel lacks the intense creep factor of the original. ** (Two Out of Four Stars)

Showtime again  for 2012's The Watch. Originally titled Neighborhood Watch, the title was changed after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade form a Neighborhood Watch after Stiller's co-worker is found murdered at the Costco he manages. What follows is a weird mash-up of Science Fiction; buddy comedy and a d*ck joke every two to three minutes. Sadly, none of it works. That's not surprising since it's directed by former SNL writer/director Akiva Schaffer. The movie plays like an extended SNL skit with a fertility issues subplot that has little to do with the impending alien invasion they uncover. Nothing new. No surprises. Lots and lots and lots of d*ck jokes. I must admit to chuckling once or twice, but hardly enough to recommend The Watch. (Zero Out of Four Stars).

Finally and quite happily, the last movie I watched this weekend was also the best. Worst Best Movie is a very heartwarming documentary I've been wanting to see for the past five years, about the cult-status surrounding the 1990 horror movie Troll 2, which many believe is the Worst Movie Ever Made. I've seen Troll 2, several times. I agree that it is terrible beyond terrible, but fully understand it's watchability. Seeing the cast (most of whom were embarrassed to have been in the film) get their moments in the sun is quite fun and even inspiring, despite the obvious mental decline of one its members. I've been reading about Worst Best Movie for a long time and am very glad that I finally got to see it. If you haven't, you should! Nilbog! **** (Four Out of Four Stars). 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Az én családom

A húgom
While my mother's heritage was German, Scottish and Welsh, as kids my sister and spent much more time with Dad's decidedly Hungarian side of the family and primarily identify our cultural heritage as Hungarian. And therein lies the title of tonight's post which translates into English as "My family." 

My concept of family and the dynamics within my a family have changed a lot in the past seven months. A húgom (my sister) and the BIL have been here all this weekend, primarily to help me with work on my house. They spent all day Thursday working on installing my new washer; installing new locks on the downstairs doors; repairing my toilet and cleaning out tons of our mother's hoarded junk (Barb found 5 separate gallon jugs of windshield washer fluid in my shed and on my porch, which we assume Mom must have smuggled home from the car dealer where she worked). I came home from work Thursday night to be overwhelmed by what they had accomplished.

Today, the three of us went visit our decidedly Hungarian Auntie, who took us to lunch. Auntie, who will be 78 this September, is wracked by severe arthritis in her hips, knees and ankles, reducing her to basically a shut-in, so it was good to see her getting out of her condo, though I don't imagine she'll be with us much longer, either. Yes, that makes me sad. But it also again reminds me that we need to make the most of the time we have with the people we love.

I think a lot of my friends and family thought I was going to really fall apart when Mom passed away. I knew I wouldn't. Yes, I'm still in mourning, but I'm happy to prove to them that I am much stronger than they thought. I also am happy to acknowledge that most of the credit for my current strength goes to their love and support as part of my chosen family over many years. 

Of course, having a sibling who is also a best friend (and who understands you like no one ever can - we had a moment in Home Depot today that no one else would ever get) who is married to an awesome human being I am proud to call Brother, helps. And while I am not fond of the religious connotations such a phrase might invoke, I can only hope that all of you are as 'blessed' to have such an amazing natural and chosen family as Uncle P does, however dysfunctional it may be.

Nope, not that dysfunctional! Whew!

More, anon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Most Gratuitous Things You'll See this Week

Joe Manganiello
After appearing in Magic Mike, the world's hottest werewolf, Joe Manganiello, was apparently so enamored of (well, fascinated by) the the world of male strippers, he felt compelled to make a documentary about them. His film La Bare focuses on the lives of the men who dance at the Dallas strip club of the same name, and the women who frequent it. Oh, did I mention there's a murder, too?

Dancer/Fitnesss Trainer Ruben Ruguero was shot to death in La Bare's parking lot following an altercation at the club in September of 2012. Ruguero's family released a statement which blamed 'mistaken identity' for the shooting. As far as I can tell, the case remains open with no suspects in custody.

The Red Band trailer for La Bare is out there, though I don't seem to be able to embed it, for some reason. Instead, enjoy this tidbit from the club, itself:

Many years ago, Uncle P made the acquaintance of a rather beautiful young man who stripped in gay clubs to earn money for his upcoming sexual reassignment,. "Jimmy" was truly a stunning specimen of male beauty, who looked even better when dressed as a woman. While dressed as Marilyn Monroe for a Halloween party, Jimmy hooked up with a straight guy who believed Jimmy was a woman. When the straight guy discovered Jimmy had a penis, Jimmy was lucky to escape with is life. I have no idea if Jimmy got his surgery or not - we didn't stay in touch. And while I'd seen him perform as both a male stripper and a 'Gender Illusionist,' I couldn't help but think he was wasting his time with straight boys who would never fully appreciate all his attributes. And no, that's not transphobic. At least, I don't think it is. It's merely an observation about a trans person I once knew.

And speaking of Queer things: Today, Pennsylvania (where Uncle P lives) became the 19th State to strike down anti-Marriage Equality laws! We finally join the right side of history. 31 to go! If PA can get there, so can the rest of the country!


More, anon.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review: "Godzilla"

I saw a picture of one of those digital signs above a multiplex auditorium door that announces the title and show time: "GODZILLA - In IMAX" and under that, a very funny sign programmer added "Now with 100% Less Matthew Broderick." And thank goodness!

Fellow Kaiju fans, wipe the stench of Roland Emmerich's 1998 fiasco of a remake from your noses forever. Dry the disappointed tears of Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim from your eyes. Director Gareth Edwards (2010's indie fave, Monsters) and his team have crafted the modern Godzilla movie true Godzilla fans have been waiting for.

Writers Max Borenstein and David Callahan (The Expendables films) wisely don't try to give us an origin story and assume the events of 1954's Gojira did take place. 15 years after a catastrophic accident at a Japanese nuclear plant kills his wife n 1999 (not really a spoiler as that's part of the prologue), the plant's engineer Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is arrested for trespassing in the contaminated area, still looking for answers. When son Ford (Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson) arrives to bail him out, Joe convinces him the site is experiencing the same type of disturbances that preceded the last accident. Of course, his warnings come too late for Dr. Ichiro Serizowa (Ken Watanabe) to prevent the birth of an insectoid behemoth they soon dub a M.U.T.O. (Massive Unidentified Target Organism). Think of a cross between a praying mantis, a bat and steam shovel. When the MUTO's mate hatches in Nevada (it makes sense, trust me) their meeting place is apparently San Francisco, where Ford has just left his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and young son. 

When the King of Monsters does show up, the Army drafts a plan to draw all three radiation-hungry monsters out to sea and blow them up, despite Serizowa's insistence that Godzilla has come to kill the MUTOs and restore nature's balance. There is, as in every great Kaiju movie, massive destruction (though this time it's Honolulu, Las Vegas and San Francisco that take the beatings) and an intense battle between three super-gigantic (Big G is at least 10 times his original size) monsters, two of whom should have known better. What little plot there is, mostly revolves around Ford trying to both save the world and get home to his family. Everyone seems to be having a grand time, despite the hyperbolic circumstances of the story. Cranston is as wonderful as always, while Juliette Binoche is wasted in a what amounts to a cameo as Joe's wife. But this is Taylor-Johnson's movie, and his beautiful green eyes (the same shade as my mother's) don't make up for the fact that he never takes his shirt off. Seriously though, it's nice to see an action hero outside of a Marvel movie who can actually act, despite not being given much more than genre tropes with which to work (not that those tropes don't serve the film - they are actually de rigeur.

The CGI is just terrific and the astonishing score by the prolific Alexandre Desplat really works to help Edwards paint moments of nearly silent terror in what could have been an ear-splittingly loud movie from start to finish (far from it). Expect Oscar noms for Sound, Sound Editing and Sound Effects on top of those for Special Visual Effects and Cinematography. My companion specifically requested that we not see it in 3D (his eyes are worse than mine) and I didn't miss it, per se, though I think I really need to see it again in 3D for the fullest effect.

For my first big Tent-Pole of the season, Godzilla  really had the potential to go either way. Thankfully it totally went the right way! Do yourselves a favor and see Godzilla on the big screen in a theater with a good sound system. **** (Four Out of Four Stars). Godzilla is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence."

I must admit, Godzilla was a very happy cap to Uncle P's most excellent weekend. It started with a completely painless purchase of a new washing machine (finally and thank His Noodly Appendages) at h.h.gregg. If you don't have them where you live, write them and ask them to open a store near you (that is a rare and completely unsolicited endorsement -- I have found that major appliance purchases are often painful, drawn-out affairs, but they were terrific). I then celebrated the last trip to the laundromat I ever want to take. That same evening, my dear K, who has been in a show for what seemed like forever, came over for cheese-steaks; "Will and Grace;" "Grimm;" "Face-Off" and Yahtzee! (I kicked her butt!) Today, after a thorough dusting, I made a very successful and yummy batch of mozzarella-stuffed meatballs and sauce for dinner and then met M for a terrifically fun movie! It's the little things... life finally seems to be getting back to (or gaining a new version of) some semblance of 'normal' in my life. That's a very good thing.

More, anon.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers' Day 2014

The first year's worth of holidays after losing a loved one is not fun. Mom's passing last October was so close to the winter holidays, they seemed very surreal (especially spending Christmas in Florida). I'll be staying home this Christmas, mostly because I'm going to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Just the three of us going: Me, myself and I. No schedule while there (except the ticketed shows I'll be seeing); no agenda. Just some insane people-watching and the sights and food of Sin City. I can't wait.

Still, today has been the most difficult holiday, so far. Most of my friends spent the day with their Moms. I can't begrudge them that. I would have done the same, if I could. Picking out just an "Aunt" card for my father's dear sister was certainly tough, given the lack of them at the store. And not looking for several new books for Mom to read was even tougher. She was midway through the last book I bought her (for her birthday) when she passed. 

I think I've mentioned before that all my mother wanted to be was a mother. She wanted seven children, but ended up with just two. When my parents split up after 27 years, she picked herself up and reinvented herself as a savvy working woman, dating but never re-marrying. She even briefly entertained a hot Russian who was five years younger than I was. She settled down when her health started to fail in her late 50's, but she was kept active by her job and the few friends she had. But once she was forced to retire (the Cadillac dealer she worked for went out of business), she sort of gave up and I watched her steady decline with a very sad heart. When she went into the hospital for the last time, I still had hope she would pull through. I thought we'd have a few more years with her, at least. But it was not to be.

Mom loved kids and animals. She's feeding a lorakeet at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa in that picture, the last time we went to visit my sister together (I'm guessing 2009). A voracious reader, she often went through two or three novels a week; mostly thrillers and mysteries. The last book she finished was "Under the Dome" because she like the series. She loved "The Walking Dead;" "Falling Skies;" "Grey's Anatomy;" "Scandal;" "Mike and Molly" (a show I find terribly unfunny); "Rizzoli and Isles;" "The Closer"/"Major Crimes;" and "Castle" and she'd be really pissed if she knew she was missing the "24" mini-series. She couldn't spell if you held a gun to her head; she mangled pronunciations and was the Queen of Spoonerisms. She was quick to laugh at herself about it, too. She often got celebrity names confused (Morgan Freeman was always Morgan Fairchild) and while she said she never had a favorite movie, if forced to pick one, it would have been Doctor Zhivago

She taught my sister and I to cook and do laundry when we were young so we would never have to depend on her. Her cooking when we were kids was awesome, though she often admitted my marinara (based on hers), was better than hers (even though she didn't really like either version). She raised us to be kind to everyone and to not have prejudices. When I finally came out to her, she cried - not because I was gay (she already knew that) but because she thought I was afraid to tell her. She came to almost every show I was in or directed until it became physically too difficult for her to do so and was always supportive of my artistic endeavors. She could out-swear most truckers and occasionally let her own mother's prejudices sneak out, but never with real malice and never without an admonition from me.

It's only been seven months since she left us and I know it will be a long time before I'm really used to the fact that she's gone, but today was just a little bit harder. I miss her - a lot -  and am not ashamed to admit it.

If your Mom is still with you, I hope you at least called her today. If you and your Mom are estranged or if your Mom is also gone, I hope you got through today as painlessly as possible. 

Happy Mothers' Day, Mom. And Happy Mothers' Day to you and your mother, as well.

Comedian John Roberts (of the terrible "Bob's Burgers") nails the suburban mom on the head with his video "Mother's Day."* And while Mom wasn't nearly as whiny as Roberts, I can hear her voice in plenty of the things he says.

*The placement of the apostrophe in Mothers' Day causes tons of anxiety. I must insist that since it is a day for all mothers, it should come after the final 'S,' while there are those who insist on making it singular by placing the apostrophe before the 'S.' IMHO, punctuating it the latter way makes it about one mother only.  Bad form, indeed.

More, anon.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What's the Deal with Eurovision?

Austria's Conchita Wurst
My dear ex-pat; entrepreneur; adventurer friend Adam (a handsome, towering gentle giant I first met in 94 when he played Theseus in my production of Midsummer...) is currently living in London with his equally awesome wife. After wishing him a happy birthday on Facebook, he asked if I was watching the annual Eurovision song contest. I admitted that I was not (I'm not even sure FiOS carries a channel that would air it), but had caught snippets online. He then posted a several clips, including one of Austria's entrant Conchita Wurst and her song "Rise Like a Phoenix." And while I knew who Conchita was (and that she riled up the homophobes running Russia these days), I don't know that I had actually seen her perform. Turns out, "Rise Like a Phoenix" (which - SPOILER ALERT - won today) is a pretty good song. The fact that the contest was won by a sexually ambiguous* performer, makes it all the sweeter.

*Conchita has described herself as "...a gorgeous woman with a beard." I am not one to argue with her. Of course, Conchita is not the first of her kind. Long before anyone had ever heard of Conchita, Bulgari's goateed Azis was making headlines and waves with his gender-bending music videos. 

Adam also suggested I check out Finland's entry, the Finnish Boy Band Softengine and their entry, "Something Better."

He found them a cross between A-HA and Erasure and while I mostly agree, I think we should add a dash of Pet Shop Boys.

Now, I understand talent contests. But a song contest? Each country competing only gets one song? Does it get performed over and over? How do they whittle it down to a winner? I just don't get it. 

More, anon.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Vienna Waits for You

Vienna Waits for You
No, I'm not talking about the Billy Joel song, as much as I love it and everything on 'The Stranger.' I'm talking about the award-winning horror short from director Dominik Hartl for Glaciar Films. Spitzendeckchen (Vienna Waits for You) is a take on a trope that's been around a long, long time. Living Places/Buildings show up all throughout literary history. 20th Century versions include Tom Tryon's Harvest Home, Robert Marasco's Burnt Offerings and Stephen King's The Shining, all three of which were turned into films of varying financial and critical success. While none of the three examples I've sited end happily (and what true horror story does?), Vienna Waits for You at least ends appropriately. It's well worth the 27 or so minutes:

Vienna waits for you from Glaciar Films on Vimeo.

And here I thought CGI had killed stop-motion for good.

Here a a few trailers for films which feature similar themes:

Honestly, Kubrick's film, while brilliant, falls far from King's terrifying novel.

Even animators have visited the trope:

And in case you don't already have an earworm:


More, anon.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

TV Review: The Best of 2014 So Far

NBC's "Hannibal"
Some TV is so, so very good these days, especially for genre fans. And while I'm sad to see my beloved "Warehouse 13" come to a close (I was sadder about "Fringe," to be honest), I am happy to report that the envelope continues to be pushed by both brave network programmers and smart basic-cable presidents. The success of the most popular cable program of all time (do I need to spell it out?) on AMC seems to have inspired the competition.

NBC airs both it's best genre shows on Friday, traditionally a dumping ground for shows on the bubble. Still, "Grimm" and "Hannibal" are both fascinating and well-produced, which has made them "Must See TV," while holding their own in the ratings. The humor in "Grimm" makes it fun, while the exceptional art direction; bizarre, hallucinogenic dreams and the amazing cast of "Hannibal" make it so hypnotic. 

The picture above was found by a Facebook friend; a graphic artist who primarily creates Sci-Fi & Fantasy art for any number of clients. It is a picture of a meal Lecter made in season one. Click on it to make it bigger and really look at it. Do you see it? Top center of the plate, among the garnishes. Yes, that's a bird's skull. And don't the cheese and fruit slices look like a body with feathery greens for wings and pea pod legs? Oh, to be a food stylist on that crew! Now I have to go back and just look at pictures of the food. As they say, the devil's in the details. With just a few more episodes left of each show this season, I'm glad so many summer shows are coming back. Not to mention this Sunday's premiere of "Penny Dreadful."

This week also saw the season finale of A&E's "Bates Motel," and what a finale it was! SPOILERS AHEAD Now that the prolonged pot-wars plot of the modern reboot seems to have finally (albeit quite conveniently) played out, it looks like we can finally focus on Norman and his particular psychosis... Vera Farmiga continues to give television's best performance (sorry Jessica) and the amazing young Freddy Highmore matches her note-for-note. The final shot of the finale literally sent chills down my spine as we finally met the Norman Bates we've all come to know and love. 

Truth be told, the best show on TV right now is also the best new show, FX's astonishing "Fargo." I know I've already reviewed it, but four episodes in and it just gets better and better. Showrunner and writer Noah Hawley ("Bones") says that the Coen Brothers are hands-off, but you can tell everyone involved is all about making a show the Coens would make. Set in the same universe as the 1996 film, until this week's episode, it was only marginally connected. SPOILERS AHEAD The episode started with a flashback to young Stavros Milos moving his family to Minnesota out of desperation. After running out gas in the middle of nowhere and being nearly run over by an 18-wheeler, Stavros prays to God for help and promises to serve Him all his life. When he looks up, he sees a red snow scraper in snow along the fence in front of him. He begins to dig and finds... the money buried by Carl (Steve Buscemi) in the movie. As in the film, the cast of "Fargo" is incredible. Billy Bob Thornton is both terrifying and hilarious while Martin Freeman ("Sherlock;" The Hobbit) is astonishing as the poor schmuck who becomes a most unlikely villain. Alison Tolman ("Sordid Lives") gives a star-making turn as a frustrated young deputy thwarted by an incompetent chief (Bob Odenkirk) at every step. Colin Hanks; Kate Walsh; Adam Goldberg and Oliver Platt all lend stellar performances in this quirky, creepy, violent and exceptionally funny show.

Next up: The Worst TV of 2014 So Far.

More, anon.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Food, Glorious Food?

Yes, It's Real!
Yes, that is a slice of scorpion pizza, which is supposedly for sale at the Calgary Stampede this summer. Fans of cable celebrities Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain and Samantha Brown have long seen scorpions and tarantulas offered up as street food snacks in Asian and South American countries. There are protein bars on the market made from cricket flour, while insects and arachnids are staples in many non-Western diets. I had chocolate-covered ants, once. It was like a Nestle Crisp bar. And I really don't mind the idea of cricket flour, as long as I don't feel legs and antennae in my mouth. That's the biggest problem I have with this pizza. I can only imagine it's like biting into an unshelled shrimp. UGH! I'd rather eat anchovies. And I LOATHE anchovies.* That very comment led to a discussion of fish (naturally) with a Facebook friend. Like myself, Pam doesn't eat much fish. 

For Uncle P, it's cod; flounder; shrimp; crab (in crab-cakes only), scallops and clams (fried only - which means I haven't had clams in forever); tuna, though NEVER hot! Nothing salty, slimy or fishy. Nothing unborn or unhatched and NEVER anything that has tentacles or is an eel of any kind. All seafood MUST be fully cooked, ONLY. Don't give me raw tuna and charge me $30 for a 'steak.' That's like paying for the flu. I will always prefer battered and fried, but have learned to like some things grilled and others broiled. If I MUST eat clam chowder, it's Manhattan style (I NEVER eat any kind of chowder). Oh, and I do like conch fritters with a nice remoulade or papaya chutney with a side of deep-fried dill pickle chips.

Last weekend, Uncle P and his regular band of foodies got together for yet another of our themed dinner parties. Thankfully, the theme was NOT 'Seafood.' It was, however, another particularly successful meal. Breakfast for Dinner included gigantic, fluffy waffles; sausage meatballs; bagels; a supper-yummy hash-brown casserole; citrus scones; clotted cream and assorted jams, preserves and syrups all topped of with pineapple/orange Mimosas. I haven't found a name for that particular combination, so if you think of a good one before I do, I'll give you full credit. My dish was a variation of a recipe I found on Facebook: a breakfast ring of eggs, cheese, veggies and pastry, served with salsa. The photo below does not include the final layer of cheese on the top. And no, it is NOT burnt on the right. My lame kitchen lighting makes everything look darker than it actually is. 

Uncle P's Breakfast Ring
On Tuesday, most of the first floor at the Day Job will be holding a Cinqo de Sies party (I know... ) and I was going crazy as to what to make. I needed something easy that didn't need heating. I found some pasta and beans and an interesting vinegar and decided to create a new recipe I call "Fiesta Salad." Too Corny? Too Martha? Too gay? I will say this: White Pineapple Vinaigrette. Yes, you read that correctly. I received it as part of a gift of several specialty vinegars from a local presser called "Olive n Grape." It seems to pair quite nicely with the peppers and green onions in the mix. If it's a hit, I'll share the recipe. If it flops, we shall never speak of this again.I think it's yummy, even if I undercooked the pasta by just a bit... More dressing will fix that, I hope... It has a while to marry.

I love to cook and love it when people like what I cook. I hate cooking for just myself. Tonight I tried a Parmesan-crusted chicken that was not bad but not what I'd hoped it would be. The brown rice and peas side-dish I made to go along with it wasn't exactly thrilling, either. I ended up toasting half an egg bagel and spreading it with butter and an all fruit raspberry preserve with fiber. That seemed to do the trick. 

Of course, despite all these carb-loaded meals I seem to be having, I have lost 16 pounds since October, without trying. My appetite seems to have diminished quite a bit and I rarely find myself finishing everything on my plate (and I NEVER go back for seconds anymore). I'm not sure if that's anxiety or a manifestation of grief or something else altogether. I take supplements (my sister finally convinced me to include CO-Q-10) and try to eat plenty of fiber and protein, though I'll admit I should eat more vegetables. And it's not that I don't like them. I do. But the way many markets package produce (I'm looking at you, asparagus) makes it difficult to by some of them for just one person. Packaged salads and greens go bad before I can use all of them and loose versions of the same products end up being even more wasteful. Ask the dried-out asparagus and nasty Brussels sprouts I just threw away. And don't tell me to can and/or freeze them. Ain't nobody got time fo dat!

*And my dear Q is allergic to them, so feh!

More, anon.