Saturday, October 24, 2020

The History in Prospect Park

 

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon c. 562 BC


The Battle of Salamis c. 480 BC

Balboa sights the Pacific c.1513


The Battle of Lepanto 1571


The First PEZ Dispenser c. 1927

Woodstock (not pictured: Hippies) 1969

Friday, October 16, 2020

A Power Grab by Ben Nardolilli

The best I could do for a public image for "power grab"

Not a grab for power, but a poem called "Power Grab," which you can read here in Flashes of Brilliance. Your mileage my vary on how much flashing it does. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

An Interview with the Poet/Writer/Former Actor/Celebrity Pharmacist

 


Thanks to Meagan J. Meehan for asking me some questions, allowing me to answer them, and then publishing said answers. Come read all about me.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Poem and a Video About a Poem

 


Thanks to Christine Sloan Stoddard for recording me reading my poem "Drunken History" and then making a video out of it. Enjoy. The inspiration for the poem came from studying the Battle of New York during the Revolutionary War and comparing the displacement of artists due to development, to the retreating Continentals. 

Also, it wouldn't be a blog post without a link to a poem. BOMBFIRE has published a poem of mine called "Getting You from A to B with Peace of Mind."

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Attack of the Ink Sac

 


The Resident Chronicles, a poem inspired, or imposed, by quarantine, is up at the Ink Sac (a subsidiary of Cephalo Press)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Great British Candy Bar Review

Time for something sweeter in place of all the sourness in the news. Last Christmas, I got an assortment of British chocolates as a present. For the most part, I had never had these particular candy bars before. Now, some of you reading may be thinking to yourselves, “Christmas? You mean it took you until September to finish these chocolates? You have that much willpower? Didn’t they go bad?”  Let me start by saying, yes it took me that long. Yes, I do have that willpower. No, they didn’t go bad. 

Okay, I should confess, it wasn’t all willpower. I had these candies in my desk at work when quarantine hit and only just now was able to access them once again. There were only two bars left, but that was all that stood between me and finishing this review. Before we begin, I need to say that British chocolate is better than the standard American fare from things like Hershey’s and Mars. We may be better at putting things in chocolate, yet when it comes to plain bars, Cadbury has them beat. Maybe someplace is able to bring these two skills together to create the best of all possible candy bars, perhaps Canada.

Now onto the confectionary!

Curly Wurly

First up we have the Curly Wurly, which may or may not have been named in honor of the 1977 Song Blinded by the Light. This candy bar looks like barbed wire Willy Wonka would use to keep the Oompa Loompas in his factory. It consists of three strands of chocolate-coated caramel that wind together in a sort of double helix pattern. It’s quite possible this is what the genome of the cacao bean resembles. 

Eating it is not exactly pleasurable. It is a delicate piece of candy and breaks easily in the packaging. The caramel-based nature of the confection also leads it to stick to one’s teeth, not ideal either. I tried it with coffee to see if that would change the experience, and it did. The heat of the drink dissolved the chocolate nearly instantly, leaving behind the caramel, so that it could stick to my teeth more easily. 

I give it a 5 out of 10, if I unknowingly got this on Halloween, I would eat it, if I couldn’t trade it. To quote Blinded by the Light, when eating a Curly Wurly, it feels like “the calliope crashed to the ground.”

Flake

Despite being a British candy, this bar was obviously named in honor of former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who seemed formidable in his opposition to Trump, but over time ended up crumbling, breaking down, and leaving a mess everywhere. Or maybe it’s named after the structure of the bar. It is nothing but chocolate, yet there’s a twist! No, not an actual twist like with a Curly Wurly. The Flake is filled with tiny perforations, like coral. 

So that makes it a light treat in a sense, though I’m sure the calorie, fat, and sugar counts are the same as any other standard chocolate bar, at least from Britain. I didn’t experiment to see if it sinks or floats like a pumice stone. For sure, it must pass that test. The chocolate itself is incredibly sweet, maybe the sweetest of all the candy bars I had in the assortment. Then again, it might just be because the chocolate taste is more concentrated instead of being spread out. 

The candy is a bit dry, and difficult to savor because the bar does in fact flake. So, the name works to describe the candy as both a noun and a verb. I thought it has a nice-looking wrapper. Trying the bar with coffee failed to improve the experience. Unfortunately, despite the collective holes in it, one cannot use a Flake as a chocolate flavored straw. Everything melts before the drink can reach your lips. I could try next time with an iced coffee, I suppose. Dunking it does make for an easy, instant mocha.  Six out of ten, because it didn’t stick to my teeth.

Double Decker

This is the double filling bar. It’s probably meant to evoke those red two-level buses you read about in children’s book set in London. The two flavors that Cadbury uses? The top is nougat, and the bottom is…well, it’s crunchy. I’m guessing some kind of puffed grain. Rice would be my guess. It’s strange not to have the nougat on the bottom, so one thing this candy bar does is give nougat its time to shine. It tasted okay, I like nougat, I like puffed ambiguous grains, and I like Cadbury’s chocolate.  

It doesn’t go well with coffee, which is crucial for me. It has a weird mouthfeel as well. The solid, chewy nougat and the pop of the grains didn’t sit well in my mouth. The way the bar is composed in a cross-section resembles the way some roads are laid out, with asphalt on top of a mixture of ground up rocks. This could be a further homage to the fabled red buses of London. After all, what do they drive on? Roads, or as the British spell it, Rhodes. 

nougat top and crispy bottom" is what it says on my Tinder profile

Overall, not a favorite of mine. Five out of ten, only good for strange cravings for nougat. The combination doesn’t make much sense to me. It combines two ingredients that go into other candies all the time, but almost never share the same chocolatey blanket.  The Double Decker is ambitious, I’ll give it that. But ultimately it embodies a poor synthesis, an example of Adorno’s “negative dialectic.”

Crunchie

British candy bars have such utilitarian names, don’t they? The legacy of Jeremy Bentham lives on it them, and not just as a stuffed corpse in a university hall.  On the other hand, it is far more golden than its name would imply. You see, The Crunchie bar is on a higher plane than the Krackel. Instead of mere rice pieces, the Crunchie has golden honeycomb encased in milk chocolate. It may make the same sound as its American cousin, but it is on a higher alchemical level. 

“Get that Friday feeling with Crunchie” is what the advertising says. I’m not sure how many people celebrate the weekend with honeycomb, golden or not. In the UK things might be different. Honey on everything while hitting the public house with the mates I suppose. The inside was light in the middle and it melted in my mouth. On one level it was reminiscent of a Butterfinger, or astronaut ice cream, (now I want a candy bar made out of that childhood treat).

It is fragile, though it has more structural integrity than a Flake. When added to coffee, the bar dissolves easily. However, it doesn’t quite go with the drink. Being honey-based, it would probably be better to dip into tea. I wouldn’t know though, I’m not a tea man. My American taste buds can’t stand that weak stuff. We got rid of those leaves and brought on the beans during the revolution. Back to the Crunchie, I give it an eight out of ten. If I got it for Halloween, I would probably save it for later.

STARBAR

I wasn’t sure if it’s meant to be in all caps, or that’s just a stylized rendering for the wrapper. When contracts for the candy are finalized do they say Starbar, or STARBAR? The world of chocolate is filled with many a mystery that is not Wonka related. The wrapper promises the eater a chewy cosmos of peanut and caramel. Maybe this is supposed to be a reference to the Milky Way without borrowing the name of that American candy?

Structurally, the STARbar (let’s compromise on capitalization) is flat on the bottom and round on the top, with the filling packed inside. It’s built less like the celestial cosmos and more like something subterranean: the London Underground. It is chewy and it evaporates in your mouth with you eat it. Unlike your standard American candy bar, it needed more of the advertised peanuts. Clearly Britain needed its own version of George Washington Carver. It gets a six out of 10 from me. I’d trade it on Halloween for a Snickers.

Wispa

By the time I got around to eating this bar (I didn’t eat them all in one sitting, have some faith in me) I realized that British chocolate bars seem to advertise their prices prominently. I don’t know why that is. This one costs 55 pence, in Freedom terms, that’s 70 cents. Don’t read this post and fly to the UK with seven dimes in your pocket, hoping to get one of these babies though. With Brexit, that number may change. Remember how that thing is still going on?

The Wispa is an aerated Cadbury milk chocolate bar. Unlike a Flake, it has more of a dense, lattice-like structure. The Chocolate isn’t folded or bunched up together, but seemingly punctured. It’s light, which is to be expected. Imagine putting holes in something and making it heavier. When you let a piece of it sit in your mouth, the holes speed up its dissolving. Occasionally they tickle the tongue. 

A Wispa seems shorter than a Flake bar, and it’s way less messy. They don’t just break up in your hands. When exposed to coffee, the Wispa is a real delight. The bubble feeling that the hole creates is much more pronounced. Once you get a hang of it, you can swish the coffee around in your mouth to feel the liquid go through the holes. I suppose you can use lots of other things this way to enjoy your Wispa. Milk, for instance, or whiskey. I give it an eight out of ten, a little plain in taste, but amusing in texture.

Twirl

Onto our next candy bar. It is twirling towards freedom perhaps, but is it twirling towards taste? I want to believe so and give this Twirl a whirl for what the wrapper promises will be an intense Cadbury milk chocolate hit. This confection comes with company. Open up the wrapper and you will find two sticks to enjoy. I guess it gets its name from the way the chocolate is structured. It is bunched up and folded around in a way that’s like a Flake. The major difference is the folds are more circular, and covered with another layer of chocolate.

The chocolate was certainly fine. I was expecting another ingredient to be part of the bars. You know, a real twirl of caramel, nougat, or peanut butter. When mixed with coffee, it creates a nice taste behind in the mug. It’s superior to a Flake in that regard. Looking at the two bars though, it’s hard not to compare a Twirl with the American Twix. Which one comes out on top? I have to side with the U.S. of A on this one. To be fair, it does manage to do more with its chocolate than a Twix and doesn’t cheat with cookie and caramel, the steroids of the candy world. 

Compared to my Platonic idea of a candy bar, Twirl gets a seven out of ten.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel


First things first, this is not to be confused with a Caramello, which was my favorite candy bar as a kid. The Dairy Milk Caramel (DMC) is a different candy of candy. It even has its own mascot, the Caramel Bunny. Apparently, it was voted the third sexiest cartoon character of all time in a 2009 poll. It was only beaten out by Jessica Rabbit and Betty Boop. Make of that what you will about the sexual proclivities of the average British male. Of course, it should be noted that the poll was conducted by Cadbury.   

The bar in question here is made of bumpy pieces fused together. Each one is filled with caramel. Unlike a Caramello, each piece is completely segmented off from the others, like the famous compartment system under the Titanic. Does that make this candy bar unsinkable? The caramel does not come out when you break off the pieces. I’ll admit they look a little like pills, or un, suppositories. As for the chocolate itself, I found it a bit dry compared to what’s in a Wispa, for instance. I guess the caramel is supposed to counteract that, like gravy on mashed potatoes. 

When I tried the candy bar with coffee, it dissolved quickly, leaving a mass of chewy caramel behind. That could be fun for some. Overall, I’d give it eight out of ten.  

Picnic


We’re coming up to the last two of the bars I tried. I ate them last week, after going back to the office where I was storing this candy. Quarantine interrupted my survey, but in a return to normalcy, I was able to resume it. America is opening up and back for business, baby! Nothing tasted off, like it had passed an expiration date. This is something to keep in mind when stocking up for disasters. Forget beans, just buy candy. 

Anyway, time to shake it up with picnic, as the wrapper says. This candy bar comes in a very colorful wrapper. It is not a picnic to look at, more of a circus to be honest. It describes itself as a crunchy chew and fruity feast, all covered in Cadbury milk chocolate. Taken out of its wrapper, it looks like a Baby Ruth candy bar. That means don’t have a picnic in the pool, if you catch my drift. 

 It's a light candy bar. It has a crispy texture due to what seem to be rice puffs. It also doesn’t have too much fruit, which it good. According to the wrapper it contains “dried grapes.” They tasted like raisins. I don’t know if it’s a legal thing or a British thing to say dried grapes instead of that. I could see myself eating one after the other and not realizing how much candy I’ve had until it’s too late. 

I like the way it tastes just plain. With coffee the fruit ends up becoming separated from the rest of the bar and it lingers around. So you end up with a mouth full of “dried grapes” wondering why the British just don’t say “raisin.” Let me be clear, I’m not attacking the general taste of fruit here. It’s just the fruit in this candy bar, which is good in small doses. After all, we are talking about something put inside a chocolate dessert. It doesn’t need to be the ripest and juiciest thing in the world.

I give this one a nine out of ten. To be eaten right after Trick or Treating, or maybe during if you want to feel like having a “picnic” while dressed as a witch, vampire, or insurance salesman. 

Dairy Milk:

Finally, the end of the sampler and variety pack. The classic Cadbury candy bar. The name has always thrown me off. Why the need to emphasize the milk as “dairy?” Is it supposed to imply freshness? Like, straight from the dairy and into the vat (or river) of chocolate? It makes me wonder if the milk is real. Did these crafty Cadbury types actually add “malk” to adulterate these bars instead?

A Dairy Milk is a solid bar of milk chocolate. It is made of pieces that can be broken off. They are smooth, without jagged edges. The taste is velvety and there’s no bad aftertaste as with a Hershey’s bar of milk chocolate. No embedded ingredients are necessary. I suppose one could break off a piece, savor it, and return to the others at a much alter date. I did not do that, but it could be done. With coffee, a Dairy Milk slowly dissolves, making a mocha in your mouth. 

A good solid bar (in more ways than one). Let’s give this one a nine out of ten and bring our confectionary adventure to an end. 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Here Comes the Beatnik Cowboy

No, not Neil Cassady. I'm talking about a website, a website where they put up three of my poems. Thanks to Chris Butler for accepting them.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Some Virtual Housekeeping



My short story, Delusions of Failure is up at the Purple Wall. You can still vote for it to be your favorite versus the other story by that other guy. 

These Lines contains these lines by me, look for the poem "Some Virtual Housekeeping"

Beliveau Books in Stratford, Ontario (city hall pictured) has put out another issue of the Beliveu Review, and I'm in it with a poem called Easy to Ignite.

Plus, a reminder another reminder to read and vote for my short story Delusions of Failure

Friday, September 4, 2020

Bronze Age Scenarios in a Rusty Truck

 


Happy autumn to you all. Celebrate going ahead by going back, back to the Bronze Age with a poem of mine in Rusty Truck. It was inspired by reading the beginning of Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy

(Also, don't forget to read my short story Delusions of Failure up at Purple Wall and vote for it)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Short Story Up Against the Purple Wall

A short of mine, "Delusions of Failure" is up at Purple Wall. Normally I would tell you to read it and enjoy this story about a mysterious DVD of the movie Ishtar. HOWEVER, this is different. Purple Wall posts stories and readers can vote on their favorites. So, read the story, vote using the link at the top, and look for an email with a code you can use to confirm your vote. Said email might be in your spam folder, so check there too.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Let's Break it Down with a Poem About Tinder

 

(image from Wikipedia, not my phone)
(Not fro my phone, Wiipedia)

A poem of mine about Tinder is up at Jack Henry's site, 1870 Poems. Why not give it a look, then swipe right, as the kids* say.



*not to be confused with the kids in my basement


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Quote the Raven in its Cage: "Here's Your 5 Poems, Evermore"


Don't let the skulls put you off. I have five poems in issue 48 from Raven Cage Zine. Click on the link to read them. Another literary mention of Ditmas Park thanks to me. (Scroll down on issue 48 to see my works)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Conforming to the Nonconformist

 

New poem at the Nonconformist, called If This Makes Sense Take Action. It's not a call to action though.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Your Word of the Day Is Mehfil


A Mehfil is a festive gathering where people gather to perform music and poetry, often of a religious nature. They are commonly seen (or heard) in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. It is also the name of a journal that has published a poem of mine called "A Solid Theory."

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Poet Man Thinks About Being a Preacher Man



I was thinking of affecting a Cajun accent for this one, mon cher, and talking about making a poem real spicy-like in a way that only Grandma could down on the bayou. But we're not doing that today. Here are the facts: Cajun Mutt Press has published my poem Preacher Man.