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Category Archives: Hedonism
Posted: January 9, 2022 at 3:57 pm
Religious View: Noel Reese
My wife and celebrated our wedding anniversary on New Years Eve in Tiburon.
I saved for a year to take a couple of days off and booked a room at a hotel that looked across the bay at San Francisco so we could watch the fireworks and have a real celebration.
I didnt know when I booked it that the fireworks would be canceled, apparently due to Covid.
We enjoyed great food, a deluxe room and loved looking at the real estate ads in the windows of the local Realtors. We saw some nice-looking places in the $20 million range.
As we sat by the fire pit on the roof deck, we met a lovely couple who were there on a scouting trip to see about moving there. They were moving from Marthas Vineyard and were not remotely troubled by the prices.
When they found out I was a pastor, I thought they would excuse themselves, but no, they had a couple of hours of questions.
Seeing the frustration of futility in our society has left many people searching for answers that hedonism and the endless quest for unanswered self-gratification cannot provide.
I am so thankful all the answers to all the problems all people face can be found between the pages of our Bibles, and if we are willing to listen, we can receive hope.
For myself, I am thankful I found Jesus, who rescued me from that life of hedonism and the futile, frantic search for happiness. He brought joy, peace and love.
I fly to Orange County on Friday to perform a wedding for a couple of friends and then fly back Saturday to deliver the Sunday sermon for our little church.
Then I have to prepare for a memorial service at our church for a close relative.
As I think about all this, I think there is hope, new life, joy, but there is also death. No one likes to talk about it, but everyone dies.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:27: Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment.
No one ever asks, What happens after you die? and yet we all die and if we believe Gods instruction book, shouldnt we at least prepare?
Our new friends were checking out what kind of schools there were in the million-dollar home neighborhoods, but what if?
The following verse in Hebrews states: Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Confess your sins to him, ask his forgiveness, accept that he sent his son to pay for your sins, and get your ticket for the kingdom of heaven.
Theres no A/C in hell, and if your friends are there, its not going to be enjoyable. Its going to be hell!
Jesus loves you. Accept his love today.
The Rev. Noel Reese is the pastor at Calvary Chapel Rio Vista. He can be reached at http://www.calvarychapelriovista.com.
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Posted: at 3:56 pm
The party had to end sometime. Now that the holidays are behind us, we must reconcile all the eating, buying, hedonism and general gluttony. After the crest comes the crash. Which is why in January, the diets, the budgets, the self-improvement resolutions, and the once-and-for-all promises to get organized debut. And we pledge yet again to get a grip and get it together.
Fortunately, professional help is available. Lord knows, and I'll speak for myself here, I got myself into my mess, so I sure as heck can't be trusted to get myself out of it. Like good diet counselors, financial planners and fitness trainers, professional organizers are filling their appointment books as people call in saying, "This is the year ..."
"People call when they get overwhelmed," said Amy Tokos, a certified professional organizer based in Omaha, Neb., and president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.
"They're overwhelmed by their stuff, or by other people's stuff their parents' stuff, their kids' stuff. They struggle going through this themselves because it requires making a lot of decisions. Most people always have something they would rather do, so they put it off.
"Some are trapped by perceptions of how everything should be (thank you social media)," said Tokos, who joined the profession in 2008. An engineer by training, Tokos specialized in finding ways to streamline processes in manufacturing plants. After she had four kids, she applied those skills to her own home, then did the same for friends and family. "Just a few moves can eliminate friction points and result in a lot less frustration."
Most of the people she helps have tried on their own to fix the problem, but their solutions haven't worked, she said.
When certified professional organizer Danielle Tanner Liu, of West Linn, Ore., got into the field in 2004, she soon realized that the work "involved much more than making drawers and cabinets look nice," she said.
For those who want to make 2022 the year they get their house together, here are six fundamentals Tokos and Liu recommend for starters:
Identify your trouble spots. "Nine times out of 10, when people have an area that isn't working, they are asking it to do too much," Liu said. Commonly overused spaces include the hall closet, the pantry and the laundry room. They become catchalls because they don't have a defined purpose. This is how the extra toilet paper winds up in the guest room closet. "Before you put anything in a room, ask does this item support this room's purpose?" If not, put it somewhere else.
Acknowledge that space is your boundary. Your space is finite; your stuff is not. While you cannot change how much space you have (short of moving, or heaven forbid, getting a storage unit), you can alter how much stuff you have. Cut back, and live within your means.
Question your values. Be honest. Would you rather have an orderly room that functions and cupboards with breathing room, or lots of stuff? "At some point, you have to ask, do I want to live with books piled everywhere, or fewer books and nice-looking bookcases?" Liu said. "Some people will choose the stuff over the function. And that's fine, so long as they consciously make the choice about what they value."
Categorize by like items. When tackling a messy room, start by making piles by category: memorabilia, office supplies, clothes. "The act of sorting and seeing what you have is instantly satisfying," Liu said. You can now visualize what you have, what you have too much of, what belongs in a different room and how much space you have to fit what does belong.
Don't binge on bins. "Every January, we see stores selling bins, bins and more bins, to help customers get organized, but bins alone do not solve the problem," Liu said. While they are great for storing holiday decor in the attic or off-season clothes in the basement, they themselves don't impose order.
Be realistic. Don't let social media set your expectations, Tokos said. You might see a picture of a beautiful pantry on Instagram, but photos on social media are often staged. "You don't see the newspapers or homework lying around." Set your own goals. Aim for function, then make it pretty.
Join me next week to learn when and how to work with a professional organizer, and hear from someone who did.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including "What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want."
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Posted: at 3:56 pm
On Jan.8, film-loving pop star The Weeknd released a new album called Dawn FM. The cover features him drastically transformed by prosthetics and makeup into an elderly man at the end of his life. Dawn FM moves away from some of the heavy hedonism of the stars previous work and leans into 80s inspired cinematic pop. The album has gotten widespread acclaim, with Kate Solomon at i saying it has that perfect marriage of music, narrative and emotion and Will Dukes at Rolling Stone calling it a refreshingly light and accessible listen.
Of course, a cinematic album needed a cinematic star to take the reins when it came to the narration, so Abel Tesfaye chose fellow Canadian Jim Carrey to narrate the project. The iconic star used his unique vocal tone to guide the listener through the purgatorial tracks, taking the role of the soothing host of the fictional Dawn FM radio show that the album is structured around.
There was a time in the 90s/early 2000s where you couldnt go to the cinema without seeing Jim Carrey in one film or another, whether it was Dumb and Dumber or How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In recent years Carreys appearances have been much rarer, with his biggest recent film being his appearance in Sonic The Hedgehog (2020). Given how we get to see him less now, it was great to hear the comedy veterans dulcet tones on this album.
Dawn FM is available wherever music is streamed/sold and you can next see Jim Carrey in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on April.1 2022.
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Posted: at 3:56 pm
I experience frequent, urgent cravings for very specific things and act on them immediately. As soon as I open my eyes I often know exactly what I want: to wear a particular little outfit, buy a sandwich of a certain heft and filling from this shop in this postcode, eat it (for instance) on a bench under a tree. Its a shame that the place in me capable of conjuring these whims also regularly churns out other, much more boring urges, and occasionally dangerous ones too. My brain is a constant game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, my dopamine receptors snapping noisily at an alarming rate, urging me to do things that actually bring me very little pleasure at all. Why do I want things that dont make me feel good? Im at the mercy of my lizard brain and the mechanisms of society designed to exploit it.
The concept of the three-tiered brain a primitive reptilian brain nestled like a living fossil in the clay of our most recently evolved, superior brains, was proposed in the 1960s by the neuroscientist Paul MacLean. Its scientific credulity holds about as much significance to me as that of the astrology app that sends me notifications each morning it just provides a structure for me to think about my habits and how to change them. In short, the reptilian brain is the most primitive part of the brain. I visualise it quite literally as the lizard-like baby from Eraserhead, mewling and requiring constant attention from the other parts of the brain, the parts that have evolved over 10m years to quieten its cries.
The less regulated this part of the brain is, the more regrettable the desires. We are generally more capable of regulating these desires as we grow out of childhood, although for some people myself included it is harder than others. Desires can run away with themselves, and become all-consuming, without us really noticing. The caterpillar that simply wants a lovely apple on Monday is the same caterpillar that wants two pears on Tuesday, three plums on Wednesday, four strawberries on Thursday, five oranges on Friday and then, inevitably, a piece of chocolate cake, ice-cream, a pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, a lollipop, cherry pie, a sausage, a cupcake and a slice of watermelon on Saturday.
Giving in to our reptilian desires has been encouraged, rebranded as a sort of self-care both by a society that wants us to consume and those of us who enjoy consuming with impunity. But often we are simply experiencing anxiety dressed up as hedonism. If you have experience of any kind of addiction, this is obvious. Saying yes to every desire that occurs to us seems quirky and fun if it involves dyeing your hair orange and eating too many Haribo, but a little less so if instead what youre doing is climbing into a strangers car to buy cocaine. The truth is though, cravings and their related behaviours dont have to involve life-destroying habits to rob us of joy. I may no longer lose days of my life to bingeing booze and drugs, but the same lack of impulse control insidiously robs me of my time. I, like the majority of people, pick up my phone over and over again and open apps that Ive just closed, scrolling and refreshing without agency. How did my phone even get into my hand? I watch reality TV instead of the films that Ive been meaning to watch for years because my lizard brain tells me that it will feel good: instead what it often feels like is closer to nothing. It urges me to do things that require little energy and, in return, provide little in the way of reward.
Dopamine controls our desire for things, but it isnt cognitive. It isnt that it doesnt know whats good for us it doesnt even know what we actually enjoy. To submit to these desires and consider that submission as an act of self-care is extremely misguided. Our lizard brain doesnt know what we like doing, and it doesnt care. It has very little purpose and succeeds, ultimately, only to make a noise annoying enough to distract us from what we originally set out to do.
So how can I want what actually brings me joy? How can I quiet the Eraserhead baby which nobody is convinced is actually a baby at all but instead simply various unhappinesses, swaddled and reach for the things that provide lasting joy and satisfaction? If only I knew. We are taught to want, but not too much. We are rewarded for consuming, but judged for taking more than our fair share. It is a strange thing to navigate a world that encourages and shames us for the same behaviours, and difficult not to assign moral value to our urges to categorise each desire as either good or bad. Instead I focus on remembering times when I have felt calm and fulfilled not the sweet little drip, drip, drip of dopamine throughout the day but the deep, quiet satisfaction at the end of a difficult task, or a long journey with something beautiful at the end of it. Of course, its not about one or the other. Thankfully for me. I will try to live life mindfully, to create long-term goals, etc but ultimately I will always serve my lizard-brain king.
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Posted: at 3:56 pm
A new year is upon us, which means it's only a matter of hours until the hedonism surrounding New Year's Eve fades and everyone starts looking for ways to better themselves in 2022.
Come January, it no longer feels acceptable to eat five mince pies in an afternoon, or spend hours devouring leftover turkey sandwiches and washing them down with port.
But before you start signing up to restrictive dieting plans or militant exercise regimes, consider simpler adjustments that won't feel quite so gruelling and could even be more rewarding.
If you want to give yourself a bit of a health boost in 2022, rather than thinking about which foods you should cut out, the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) suggests looking at which nutrient-rich foods you can add into your diet.
Who would have guessed one of the most romantic scenes in cinema would involve two dogs eating scraps in an alleyway? And, yet, the iconic spaghetti kiss from Disneys 1955 animated film has been oft imitated but never surpassed, as the two pups indulge in an Italian delicacy, all soundtracked to Sonny Burke and Peggy Lees Bella Notte. And, as Tramp proves, theres no greater act of chivalry than offering your date the last meatball
Gabriel Axels Oscar-winning 1987 Danish film is a visual treat for any self-confessed gourmand. The story sees two pious Protestant sisters offer refuge to a French woman fleeing the political tumult in Paris after the collapse of the Second Empire in 1871. They agree to hire her as a housekeeper, discovering later that shes the former chef of one of Pariss best restaurants. When she wins the lottery, she uses the funds to whip a meal to remember for her kindly hosts.
All the very best chefs know that a dash of pure imagination is key to creating a true culinary wonder. Its a lesson well-taught in Steven Spielbergs 1991 classic, Hook, as a grown-up Peter Pan (Robin Williams) looks on in disbelief as the Lost Boys tuck into what appears to be nothing at all. Its only when he truly believes that he can see the brightly colour feast laid out before him. And what childish feast would be complete without an old fashioned food fight?
Sure, the 1961 films title may be a little misleading. Its protagonist, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), in reality only has breakfast outside of Tiffanys, popping out of a cab in the early morning light to peer into the jewelry shop window, all while enjoying a pastry and some coffee in a paper. The moment has still remained the peak of glamour, decades later, so who cares if its all a little white lie?
Keystone Features/Getty Images
Its a classic scene that proves to be surprisingly instructional. Francis Ford Coppolas 1972 film has a full-blown recipe tucked within its elegant drama, as Vito Corleones close associate, Peter Clemenza (Richard Castellano), offers his version of the perfect pasta sauce. As he explains: You start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; you make sure it doesn't stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs. And a little bit of wine, and a little bit of sugarthat's my trick."
Although the 1971 musical is, as a whole, a sugary delight, its hardest to resist the temptation of Willy Wonkas Fizzy Lifting Drinks, a soda described as so bubbly that it lifts anyone who drinks it right off the ground. Its no wonder that it was the one stop on the tour that ended up tempting the pure-hearted Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) and his grandfather (Jack Albertson). Now, the real question is: does it come in different flavours?
For anyone who considers pizza to be the true love of their life, Ryan Murphys 2010 romcom is a perfect cinematic match. Its hard not to relate to the moment Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) bites into a piece of authentic Italian pizza, during the Naples stop on her global adventure of self-discovery, and declares: Im in love. Im in a relationship with my pizza.
Although we might not fully be convinced that the grey stuff is delicious, the dinner and show approach to Lumiere (Jerry Orbach)s hospitality is something we could certainly get used to. In Disneys 1991 animation, Belle (Paige O'Hara) is presented with a whole cavalcade of sumptuous dishes: including beef ragout, cheese souffle, pie and pudding "en flambe". And theres a sage piece of advice to go with it all, too: If you're stressed, it's fine dining we suggest! Indeed.
While theres been a growing fad of ambitious, unusually themed cakes you need only look at the success of the TLC reality series Cake Boss there are few cinematic cakes that quite stick in the memory like Jackson (Dylan McDermott)s armadillo-shaped groom cake from 1989 comedy-drama Steel Magnolias, a spin on the tradition from the American South of having another cake separate to the main wedding cake. And did we mention that its red velvet on the inside?
When it came to director Sofia Coppola conjuring the ultimate image of decadence for her 2006 biopic on the French queen, there was no more perfect treat than Ladures famous macarons. Delicate and pastel-toned, the meringue-based confection has long been the speciality of the French bakery, first established in 1862. A new flavour was even created in honour of the film, with the Marie Antoinette offering a combination of rose and anise flavours.
Food is often regarded as one of the best ways to understand a culture, and The Hundred-Foot Journey is wonderful for showing the efforts the talented, self-taught novice Hassan (Manish Dayal) goes to in order to comprehend that. During a picnic he reveals he has mastered the five mother sauces of French cuisine, and the delicate tasting process that follows demonstrates just how important food is to France.
In prison, dinner was always a big thing. So much so that the Wise Guys ate better than most people on the outside. Beyond the Sea plays in the background as the gangsters prepare their meal: Garlic sliced so thin with a razor blade that it would liquefy in the pan with just a little oil, meatballs in a tomato sauce thats a little too oniony, steak cooked medium rare, iced lobsters, prosciutto, salami, cheese, red wine and good Scotch. Maybe crime does pay after all.
There are few pleasures in life more fulfilling than that of cooking for others. In Chocolat based on the book by Joanne Harris a slow-motion scene where dinner party guests tuck into the feast created by expert chocolatier Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) is full of warmth and laughter.
In a world where people seem more than happy to fork out 15 for some mushy avocado on toast, $5 for a milkshake doesnt seem too unreasonable. Vincent Vega (John Travolta) takes his boss wife Mia (Uma Thurman) out to Jack Rabbit Slims for a burger, where she decides she wants the $5 dollar shake. You dont put bourbon in it or nothing? a bewildered Vincent asks the waiter. When it arrives, Mia takes a long sip: Yummy. I gotta know what a $5 shake tastes like, Vincent says. He takes a sip. Then another. Goddamn, thats a pretty f***ing good milkshake.
Nora Ephrons feature film based on the intertwining stories of chef Julia Child and Julie Powell, the blogger who rose to fame after documenting her pledge to cook all 524 recipes in Childs cookbook, is all about the joy one can find in food. It is some of the earlier scenes that capture this best, like when Julia (Meryl Streep) and her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) arrive in Paris and stop at a French restaurant, where Julia is served a sizzling platter of sole. It looked so mouth-watering in the final edit that Ephron wanted to call up Martin Scorcese and say, youve never shot a fish like that before.
Fearsome critic Anton Ego takes a bite of ratatouille and is transported back to his childhood, where it was a favourite comfort food, in the best scene from Pixars wonderful animated film. The detail is superb, from the process of Remy the rat preparing the dish to the moment Egos pen falls to the ground as he remembers the power of a favourite meal in evoking memories we thought were lost.
YouTube screengrab / Jeugos para ninos / Disney Pixar
I dont want this, I want large bread but I can rise above it, Im a professional. The miniature bread catastrophe is a beautiful parody on every self-absorbed rock star to have kicked off over something as ludicrous as the food theyre served backstage. Guitarist Nigel Tufnell sits next to a tray of sandwiches looking baffled as his manager walks over. "Look," he says, picking up a sandwich. "This, this miniature bread. It's like... I've been working with this now for about half an hour. I can't figure it out. Let's say I want a bite, right, you've got this..." "Why do you keep folding it?" Ian asks. Nigel looks down at the broken bits of bread, then tries again: "This. I don't want this." He throws the sandwich to the ground, disgusted. "I want large bread!"
After all the trauma she has been through at the hands of her abusive husband and a racist ex-employer Minny (Octavia Spencer) arrives at her employer Celia Foote to find a beautiful dinner cooked for her as a thank you for everything she has done for Celia and her husband. You see the care that has gone into it as Celia lays everything out on the table, from a mile high meringue to the fried chicken Minny taught her how to make. That table of food gave Minny the strength she needed, the narration explains. She took her babies out from under Leroy and never went back.
AP Photo/Disney DreamWorks II, Dale Robinette
Robert Dupea (Jack Nicholson) just wants some toast to go with his omelette, but the waitress is stubbornly sticking to the diners no substitutions rule. Ill make it as easy for you as I can, goes the famous order. Id like an omelette, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast. No mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce and hold the chicken.
It was a scene that helped propel a revolution in American dining. Il Timpano, a dish inspired by the notoriously tricky-to-make Italian meal, is the star of a moment in Big Night where chef brothers Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) prepares it as the centrepiece for a feast attended by their rival, Pascal. Goddamit, I should kill you, he screams, throwing his fork down after tasting Il Timpano. This is so f***ing good, I should kill you.
A spokesperson for the BNF suggested 10 foods to eat that will help those feeling vitamin-deprived in the wake of a party-filled festive season.
"We want people to eat a range of fruit and vegetables," the BNF spokesperson told The Independent, "but we have tried to get a balance between suggesting specific foods that are rich in nutrients but are not too expensive or niche".
Put down the kombucha, here's the 10 foods you should be eating in 2022.
Salmon provides a range of vitamins and minerals, including omega 3s as well as protein, vitamin D, selenium and iodine.
The BNF recommends having two portions of fish per week, one of which should be an oily type like salmon. Registered nutritionist Daniel O'Shaughnessy, aka The Naked Nutritionist, advises choosing wild salmon where possible because it is richer in omega 3 content and usually pinker, which means it has more of the antioxidant, astaxanthin, which studies show has been found to improve skin health.
The BNF says that oats are a brilliant source of fibre, providing a specific type called beta glucan, which can help to lower cholesterol.
Incorporate them into your breakfasts if possible, the organisation suggests, either by making porridge or overnight oats.
Plant-based protein's like lentils and beans are a rich source of fibre, says the BNF. They also contain iron and folate, which could help boost energy levels.
Author and nutritionist Jo Travers suggests making dahl with your lentils, when you can add plenty of vegetables for additional nutrients.
If you add tumeric, you can benefit from the anti-inflammatory effect as well while enjoying a slow-release carbohydrate meal.
Nuts are often lauded by health professionals thanks to their fibre, protein, unsaturated fat content. The BNF notes that they also provide a range of key nutrients like thiamin and iron, which can help with energy and support your immune system.
Go for unsalted varieties and keep portions to a small handful as theyre high in calories, the BNF warns.
O'Shaughnessy suggests opting for walnuts (rich in omega 3) and brazil nuts, which is one of the richest forms of the antioxidant, selenium. "This is also an important nutrient for thyroid health," he adds, "so if you suffer from an under-active thyroid then make sure you are eating at least two brazils nuts per day."
Tomatoes are often underrated. But the BNF says they are rich in vitamin C and natural phytochemicals like lycopene, the natural pigment that gives tomatoes their vibrant red hue.
As for how to eat them in an interesting way, try thinking beyond caprese salads and pasta sauces. You can add tomatoes to curries, soups, or vegetable bakes.
Apples provide soluble fibre as well as polyphenols, which can treat digestion problems and help protect you from cardiovascular disease, notes the BNF.
They are best eaten as either a healthy snack, or with porridge for breakfast.
We've all heard this one before. But leafy green vegetables are one of the healthiest foods around thanks to the multiple vitamins they contain.
Vegetables like spinach, broccoli and cabbage tend to provide vitamins C and A, folate and potassium, notes the BNF, subsequently boosting immunity, energy and skin health.
Broccoli is also one of the most nutritious, says O'Shaughnessy, because it contains DIM (Di-indolyl Methane), which is a powerful aromatase inhibitor. This means it can support hormone balance.
Plain yoghurt might sound uninspiring but its a great base for snacks and desserts when youre trying to avoid sugary foods, says the BNF.
It also provides protein, calcium, riboflavin and iodine, which plays a vital role in thyroid health.
Choosing plain versions also means you avoid any added sugars. For flavour, try adding dried or fresh fruit, or nuts and seeds.
Wholegrain carbohyrates like bread, pasta, bulgar wheat or freekeh are quick and easy to cook and rich in fibre as well as nutrients like niacin and phosphorus, which helps the body repair tissues and cells.
"These foods give us the energy we need to function without spiking blood sugar," says Travers. "Stick to a fist-size portion at a time."
Citrus fruits are in season at this time of year, meaning they are a sustainable choice as well as a healthy one.
Foods like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, says the BNF, and provided folate, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy and is crucial for women during pregnancy.
You can easily add lemons and limes to your diet by adding them to salad dressings or using them to season other dishes, which the BNF says could help you to cut down on salt.
[This article was originally published in 2019]
Posted: at 3:56 pm
In my humble opinion, the Mardis Gras king cake is by far the coolest holiday dessert. Its got a little bit of everything: a fun design, bold colors, a rich history (more on that later).
Made with yeasty cinnamon flavored doughand heaps of symbolismthis regal pastry-cake hybrid is usually oval shaped to resemble a crown, along with tri-colored icing in gold, purple, and green to represent power, justice, and faith.
And lets not forget the piece de resistance: that miniature plastic baby, destined to be found by one lucky individual. Lucky in the sense that finding it means they now have the honor of providing the cake for next year.
However, there wasnt always a baby hiding in the dough. Like most traditions, this one has evolved and adapted over time. And of course, it began with pagans.
During this winter solstice celebration, Saturnthe Roman god of agriculturewould be honored by using the gains of the seasons harvest to make ceremonial cakes. And instead of a miniature baby, one singular fava bean would be placed inside. And whosoever should find the bean would be named king of the day.
Which is a bit odd, considering in ancient tradition they were regarded as omens of death. But other sources note that favas were considered magic and even used for voting. Certainly makes that infamous Hannibal line take on a whole new context
In Roman Catholic tradition, The Epiphany denotes the day when the three kings first saw the baby Jesus. The Kings Cake came to represent this day, even taking on the name of Epiphany Cake.
So it stands to reason that if this sweet treat became associated with the celebration of baby Jesus, then of course the plastic baby was originally intended for such representation, right?
By then, the king cake had already been a prominent Mardi Gras item.
Owner of one of the 20th centurys most famous bakeries, Donald Entringer of McKenzies was approached by a salesman carrying a surplus of tiny porcelain dolls from France, according to food expert Poppy Tooker in an interview with NPR.
"He had a big overrun on them, and so he said to Entringer, 'How about using these in a king cake, Tooker told NPR.
Though a simple case of supply-and-demand isnt terribly exciting, the way this simple concept has advanced to become the dishs golden standard is pretty remarkable.
Plus, the fact that this Louisiana tradition is steeped in history of bawdy hedonism and sacred spiritualism, all with a healthy dose of capitalizing on the comboI mean if thats not New Orleans in a nutshell, I dont know what is.
Pecans, jeweled rings, gold coins, and small charms have also been used. Some bakeries have even made their own customized trinkets. Others have started avoiding placing them inside altogether, attempting to thwart potential lawsuits. Baking with plastic is a tad more frowned upon these days.
Theres the French galette des rois, which is less colorful but oh-so-flaky, topped with a golden paper crown.
Also theres Spanish rosca de reyes, flavored with lots of orange and topped with dried fruit.
Theres even a Greek version, vasilopita, thats very similar to coffee cake. Not that you couldnt have any of these cakes for breakfast, but theres an excuse baked right into this one.
No matter what style you try, or whether or not you find that plastic baby, the Kings cakealong with its festive history and captivating loreare definitely worth celebrating.
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We werent allowed feminism we had the Spice Girls: the two comics unpicking ladette culture – The Guardian
Posted: at 3:56 pm
When Shaparak Khorsandis teenage son recently discovered 90s music the Shamens Ebeneezer Good, Pulp and more he had questions for her. What did Jarvis Cocker mean when he sang I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere, somewhere in a field in Hampshire? Were they singing about ecstasy? Did she go raving, too?
Khorsandi was in her teens and 20s in the 1990s, and being swept along in ladette culture. Used by the lads mag FHM as early as 1994, ladette came to describe bolshie women who could out-party and out-gross any hardened lad. Sara Cox, Denise van Outen and Zoe Ball were the media favourites: often pictured binge-drinking and out on the town. Ladettes went hand-in-hand with 90s lad culture, where Britpop, banter and sport collided in a blizzard of hedonism. These new lads, posited one researcher, were retreating into a more simplistic masculinity in response to the Spice Girls concept of Girl Power; and middle-class boys were co-opting the dress and behaviours of working-class men.
Writing her latest show, It Was the 90s!, for the Edinburgh fringe last summer, Khorsandi reflected on the decade. Weve glossed over ladette culture a bit; its been fun to revisit it, she says. It was initially meant to be a feminist action. We thought we were taking power back by making ourselves very ill with booze and selling ourselves short when we went out. The men do it, so should we! But what we didnt have, which my sons generation has, was the notion of self-care.
It Was the 90s! delves into Khorsandis time as a ladette and how attitudes have changed. What do we dismiss under the guise of nostalgia? Was the pressure to go out every night, drink until you were sick, and separate sex from emotions really as good as she thought at the time? Khorsandi explores it all. The way I deal with bad times is to make them funny and this is the most fun show Ive done, she says. This is an honest conversation between 23-year-old me and 48-year-old me.
Khorsandi started out in comedy in the 90s. Standup then was the closest thing I had to punk. We just drank until some kind of career happened or you died. There were no other women that I worked with, and it was all about being as hard and as gross as you could.
Esther Manito has also been looking back on 90s ladette culture in her show #NotAllMen, which won the Leicester comedy festivals best show award in 2021. She comes on stage to Robin Thickes Blurred Lines and opens with: Do we have any violent misogynists in? Growing up, Manito would spend summer holidays in Beirut. Friends would ask: was it safe? In reality, her happy experiences in Lebanon stood in stark contrast to simply walking home from school in Essex, where she faced catcalls almost daily. The female empowerment she was fed through pop culture back then was incredibly lacking. We werent allowed feminism in the 90s, Manito jokes in her show. We had the Spice Girls.
During the pandemic, living with her Lebanese father, British husband and son, Manito began to explore masculinity and how its expectations can damage men. She spoke to old school friends about the way lockdown pushed many couples into stereotypical gender roles. One friend found a list Manito had written as a teenager, detailing the qualities of her dream boyfriend, including: Must not touch me with the light on.
That projection of what a womans body was through lads magazines meant I was really self-conscious, Manito says. She had grown up in a progressive, feminist household, so the pressure to conform felt doubly bad. I thought: Im not this hairless, skinny, big-titted, oiled-up figure, and I dont want to be.
She recalls a column where Zoo magazines agony uncle Danny Dyer suggested a man whod split with his girlfriend should cut your exs face so no one else would date her. (He later claimed he was misquoted.) Such flagrant misogyny, she thought, must affect how boys and men interacted with women. Looking at my husband and others, I think it took them a really long time to be able to have relationships with women that werent sexual, she says. While some of this was shocking to look back on, you find humour in the bizarre, she says.
Both Manito and Khorsandi recall being labelled shouty or fiery after voicing their opinions. Khorsandi cultivated a posh accent because she was made to feel like I couldnt be brown and working class. She shortened her name to Shappi because I was so ashamed every time anyone said Shaparak out loud because thered be titters of laughter. This is the first full tour shes performing as Shaparak. Khorsandi received an ADHD diagnosis earlier this year another prompt for reflection. Was it partly her undiagnosed ADHD that drew her into ladette behaviour? Looking back, the booze medicated my ADHD, she says. I think not understanding about self-care and neurodivergence played into the 90s binge-drinking culture.
Looking back has made them both appreciate where society is today. I definitely dont feel nostalgia for the 90s! Manito says.
I dont want to be stuck in my youth, says Khorsandi. Ive watched how things have changed my standup and values have changed. Comedy is part of culture it all moves forward.
Both women have noticed a refreshing acceptance among their childrens generation. Theres no othering, Manito says. Ive never heard my boy say: Girls cant do that, something I always heard growing up. I think my kids will face fewer hurdles when it comes to creating connections with people.
The tolerance they have for one another is astounding, Khorsandi agrees. It doesnt occur to my sons generation to be negative about someone who is transitioning or non-binary. I had to explain to my children that ginger people used to get teased at school. They looked at me like: Are you mad?! Things have really changed.
Shaparak Khorsandis It Was the 90s! tour resumes 21 January at Otley Courthouse; Esther Manito is at the Beck theatre, Hayes, Friday 7 January, and performs #NotAllMen at the Glee Club, Birmingham, 22 April
Tim: The Official Biography of Avicii by Mns Mosesson review private struggles of the EDM poster boy – The Guardian
Posted: at 3:56 pm
Tim Bergling the Swedish DJ and producer known as Avicii killed himself in Muscat, Oman, in April 2018 at the age of 28. The very worst happened when things were apparently looking up. The successful but troubled electronic dance music (EDM) star had retired from relentless touring in 2016 to focus on his wellbeing. He had weaned himself off opioids prescribed by doctors when bouts of alcohol-induced pancreatitis led to debilitating pain and, later, surgery. He was communicating regularly with a therapist, was often surrounded by childhood friends, donated to charities. He meditated.
Having crossed over from pure party music to making tracks alongside established stars such as Coldplay and Nile Rodgers, Bergling was working on new material he was excited about. A documentary about his meteoric rise and his stress levels Avicii: True Stories had been broadcast in 2017, seemingly with a happy ending.
When it appeared on Netflix, True Stories reverberated well beyond club culture, super-charging the existing public debate around the mental health of performers. Viewers were witness to a life unravelling, privy to alarming practices that were normalised.
Stardom has always come at a high price, but in EDM, capitalising on your hot streak seemed especially urgent. Quite aside from the usual hedonism, the hours an ambitious, in-demand EDM DJ had to keep were gruelling: multiple gigs in one night, sometimes in different countries or time zones, with constant travel (especially hard for the flight-phobic Bergling) and scant basic self-care. In 2019, an anonymous book by another industry insider, The Secret DJ, went even deeper into the lunacy of the lifestyle.
Tim: The Official Biography of Avicii retells Berglings story, adding considerable context and lashings of pain: parents Klas and Anki Bergling are major sources. Written by Swedish journalist Mns Mosesson and translated by a US academic Brad Harmon, the books slightly wide-eyed tone finds strait-laced grownups grappling with the extremes of youth, from World of Warcraft an obsession of the younger Bergling to the wild west of club culture, via the monomaniacal perfectionism of digital music-making.
The book succeeds in fleshing out Bergling, an elfin poster boy for hyper-commercial EDM who wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. Mosesson is very good on the path to fame and the wider ecosystem around Avicii. A shy, curious, stubborn youngster who feared he would get cancer, he suffered from serious acne and social anxiety, affecting his self-esteem. An interest in the esoteric led Bergling to name himself after a particularly punishing zone of Buddhist hell. He ended up in something like it.
Mosesson had access to Berglings rehab journal and almost everyone in his life ex-girlfriends, childhood pals, fellow superstar DJs, psychotherapists. The author was also privy to Berglings digital life texts, emails and messageboard posts; a level of intimate access biographers must surely have only dreamed of until now.
Berglings former manager, Arash Pournouri, declined to participate. After Berglings death, online opinion swirled around the relentless schedule over which Aviciis management had presided. But in a recent interview, Bergling senior was specific in exonerating Pournouri, with whom his son had reconciled, and keen to examine the bigger music industry picture, beating the drum for swifter mental health interventions.
There are no kneejerk conclusions here, just candour and context: pressure, both external and internal, absolutely played a role in Aviciis unravelling, as did the US prescription opioid scandal. As the book draws to its harrowing ending, Mosesson offers up a series of factors at play in 2018.
Although he had kicked virtually everything else, Bergling still smoked a lot of weed. The book discusses how insidiously or suddenly psychosis can affect THC users.
Bergling became involved with transcendental meditation, which he credited with reducing his anxiety. But he would meditate intensely for hours, impatient to achieve enlightenment at speed. In messages to his therapist, he confided that he had become confused by what felt like a torrent of insights. At the same time, Bergling texted his mother, full of love and excitement about a move from LA back to Stockholm.
In the aftermath of Berglings death, many of his closest associates sought help for their own issues and dependencies. The DJs father is especially keen that the word suicide be used in relation to his son; to speak plainly about what the mental health charity (Tim Bergling Foundation) set up in the DJs memory calls a global health emergency.
Tim: The Official Biography of Avicii by Mns Mosesson (translated by Brad Harmon) is published by Sphere (20). To support the Guardian and Observer order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply
Posted: at 3:56 pm
After the days of sheer decadent hedonism that we lovingly refer to as Christmas, January always invites us to question what we wish to decorate our clean new year slate with.
Generally the big headliners are shopping and food, and our resolutions are invariably linked to our diets. According to new polling for the New Statesman by Redfield & Witton Strategies, 34 per cent of people wish to consume less meat in 2022.
Consumption is at the forefront of our minds, especially after multiple Christmas dinners and seeing friends we havent seen in an age because of Covid. Some of us may have had smaller Christmases but with an even bigger sod it mentality on food and drink. Its no wonder we are now questioning what we should eat in the coming weeks and months.
In an ideal world we all want to eat well, feel better and allow treats from time to time. How do we navigate this in terms of priorities?
As a butcher, I can only really answer this question in terms of meat. Despite my job, I think cutting down on the amount of low quality meat you eat is a noble aim, both for yourself and for the planet. But its also important to think hard about what meat you do eat.
If you swap cheap supermarket meat for high welfare and locally sourced meat bought close to where you live, youre giving a lot back ethically and economically.
Locally sourced food cuts down on food miles drastically. Besides food moved by airfreight, which creates around 10 times more carbon emissions than road transport, if youre heading out of town to big supermarkets youll clock up around 135 extra driving miles a year. When you reinvest in your local economy, your money doesnt just go to butchers; it goes to farmers, feed suppliers, abattoirs, their workers and their drivers.
Its important to note that as well as farmers working every hour God sends to ensure the survival of the animal, they also have to work the land and ensure levels of management in terms of renting or owning the fields and hedges themselves.
So we should make sure none of their animals go to waste. Naturally, I am biased. I have an independent butchers shop in the North East of England. We are fortunate to have some of the best farms in the country on our doorstep, and I work closely with the abattoirs to ensure welfare and quality standards are high and pricing is fair.
You can actually feed between 1,000 and 2,000 people from one beef carcass thats from the prime cuts all the way down to offal and stock from bone broth that can be made. Independent butchers like to keep waste to an absolute minimum not least because they have to pay for it.
Buying meat from a butcher is better because you can also get the exact quantity you need rather than bulk buying, and you also get fresher meat. We get the full carcasses in, which means that we do not process anything so that it can sit on a supermarket shelf for a few days whether thats gas-flushing packaging or adding extra sugar, salt or preservatives.
The start of every new year is a chance to break some of our habits and I think balance is the best course of action. Of course, we should all consume less. This is Januarys annual confessionary sermon.
If you want to shop and eat ethically Id suggest supporting your local butcher, baker, milkman, coffee roasters and independent shops. Most operate a delivery service, or can work around your working hours, or give you advice on how to store their product so it keeps.
With the climate crisis looming ever larger, eating less meat but better meat is a simple change that makes a big difference. And not just in the world at large, but throughout your local community.
Your local butcher will get to know you and can help you establish this relationship with moderation we can mediate between the natural farming world and what youre cooking for dinner, ensuring you know more about your food.
Charlotte Mitchell is the owner of Charlottes Butchery
Posted: at 3:56 pm
Saturday January 8 2022
Still recovering from the unmitigated chaos that was 2021? Do you also find yourself submerged in not so ideal temperatures? Well then, nothing is more necessary now than a source of relief. We have each selected our personal favourite comfort watches for when times are not so pleasant. What better form of escapism is there, when you are looking for a temporary retreat, than a film? With a wide variety of modern movies, this list offers something for everyone. We hope it encourages you to watch one or two!
Of all the romcoms in the world, Pierre Salvadoris Beautiful Liesalone can always be relied on to bring you ultimate satisfaction. Set in the South of France, the film tells the story of a hair salon co-owner, milie (Audrey Tautou) who receives an anonymous love letter from the salons handyman Jean (Sami Bouajila). Rather than falling for the letter herself, milie passes it on to her depressed mother Maddy (Nathalie Baye), who is struggling to get over the failure of her marriage.
Audrey Tautou, best known for her role as Amlie in Le Fabuleux Destin dAmlie Poulain (2001), brings a youthful vibrancy to her character. Tautou effortlessly loses herself in all of milies good-hearted mischief, as she meddles with her mothers romantic relationships. A story of tangled mistruths, the film abounds with smiles and tears. Cringeworthy moments are served up in equal measure, with some characters dignity hardly left intact. Luckily for us however, milies lies lead to a lot of laughter, such that by the end of the film, we can only forgive her messy misinterpretations. The question is, can her mother or Jean find the heart to do the same?
Olivier Nakache and ric Toledano, the directors of Untouchable, have perhaps cracked the formula of the feel good film. Untouchable becoming Frances biggest box office hit only nine weeks after its release might just testify to this. If youre still not convinced, prior to Lucy (2014), it was the most viewed French film worldwide, selling 51.5 million tickets. Based on a true story, the film follows the unlikely friendship of two men, Philippe (Franois Cluzet) a wealthy quadriplegic, and Driss (Omar Sy) a Senegalese ex-convict living in the suburbs of Paris, who has no ambition to work. When Driss shows up to an interview, held by Philippe and his assistant Magalie (Audrey Fleurot) who are looking to hire a live-in carer, all he wants is a signature to prove he has been rejected for the position, so that he can receive his welfare benefit. Philippe instead has other ideas, and takes Driss on.
Both friendship and film alike can be described as endearing, rewarding, and ultimately life-changing
This film is a heartwarming take on the documentary film la vie, la mort (2002), detailing the lifelong bond developed between Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and French-Moroccan Abdel Sellou. Perfectly balancing humour and grit, with themes of crime and companionship, Untouchable pays beautiful homage to the story of these two men. It is a raw, yet an undeniably tender presentation of all that they each gain, having come to know each other. In three words, both this friendship and film alike can be described as endearing, rewarding, and ultimately life-changing.
Of all the Studio Ghibli films, Ponyo is the most heart-warming and essential viewing for a frosty January. In a loose adaptation of The Little Mermaid, the film follows Ssuke, a young boy who rescues a goldfish that he subsequently names Ponyo. Gradually, Ponyo transforms into an impossibly adorable human girl. Unfortunately, her metamorphosis causes jeopardy for the pairs budding friendship because it catalyses tidal waves that submerge Ssukes coastal home under water. The newfound friends embark on a search for Ssukes family while escaping Ponyos possessive creator.
Following the translations encourages one to never peel their eyes away from the screen, thus becoming absorbed in Ponyos whimsical visuals
Ponyo invites an allegorical reading about the climate crisis. However, Hayao Miyazaki infuses his creation with the optimum level of wonder so that this wider theme never becomes oppressive for the viewer. Id recommend watching the subbed rather than the dubbed version, as following the translations encourages one to never peel their eyes away from the screen, thus becoming absorbed in Ponyos whimsical visuals.
Hot Fuzz is the splendid concoction of Edgar Wrights quintessentially fast-paced editing, lovably flawed characters, and goofy humour. Follow PC Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) as he is relocated from Londons high-stakes crime scene to the seemingly tranquil village of Sandford. With the help of the enthusiastic, yet slightly incompetent, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the pair begin to uncover the darker underbelly of Sanfords idyllic exterior.
Wrights humour is always the appropriate level of absurd and rarely at the expense of others. On top of this, Hot Fuzz skilfully pays homage to a plethora of action films. As a result, the viewer becomes unexpectedly immersed in crimes revolving around florists, village fetes, geese and garden fences. When life is becoming too heavy, this light comedy is the ideal antidote.
Almost Famous is one of those rare films that is funny yet meaningful, touching without being clich or overemotional. In his semi-autobiographical masterpiece, Cameron Crowe presents the story of a sheltered 15-year-old who gets assigned by Rolling Stone magazine to cover a rising rock band on tour.
"Almost Famous transports you to a time of adventure, hedonism and rawness, leaving you feel wistful yet fulfilled.
The film is filled with first class performances, most notably Kate Hudsons warm and compelling interpretation of Penny Lane. It is the painfully realistic, achingly humorous and ultimately heart-warming portrayal of the characters and their relationships that elevate this film to its status as one of the best feel-good films around. Accompanied by one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, featuring artists such as Simon & Garfunkel and Led Zeppelin, Almost Famous transports you to a time of adventure, hedonism and rawness, leaving you feeling wistful yet fulfilled.
Kogonadas Columbus details the story of Jin, a renowned architecture scholar who falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, leaving him stranded in Columbus, Indiana. Here, Jin strikes up a moving friendship with Casey, a young architecture aficionado. The film provides the perfect balance of serene cinematography and a sincerely emotional story, unlike many cinematographically successful films, which often lack narrative substance.
Similar to Before Sunrise (1995) and Lost in Translation (2003), Kogonada presents a dialogue-heavy, gentle, calming film about the passion between two strangers seemingly placed together by fate. A beautifully made, skilfully directed and simply charming film, Columbus hypnotises its viewer with its beauty and comforts them with its tenderness.
As we look towards a brighter, sunnier 2022, we hope that these films can tide you over until the end of January. And in doing so, that they ease just some of your blues with their wit, warmth and spirit.
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