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Quote of the Day

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.
-- Luke 12:48


Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

This is apparently an Alton Brown recipe. My family thought the sharp cheddar was a bit much, might be worth going half and half with a mild cheddar. Either way, it is a good place to start.

Ingredients
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded


Directions

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.


Quote of the Day

Success makes life easier. It doesn't make living easier.
-- Bruce Springsteen

Wii U hooks up to the TV

The kids and I home due to weather related school closings. I know that on days like this that I have to watch them like a hawk. If boredom sets in we could end up with a completely trashed house. It was this situation that led me to investigate a suddenly quiet living room. Instead of problems I found my kids were crowded around the gamepad watching something via Netflix. It looked ridiculously uncomfortable so I suggested they just turn on the TV so they can both watch easier. Now, they had been playing with just the gamepad a lot lately. I operated under the assumption that my kids were trying to be polite or save electricity. It seems they thought the Wii U was the worlds largest Gameboy. My son actually said he forgot that the Wii U works on the TV.

Marketing is not always a dirty word

Marketing is one of those things gets a terrible rap. The only marketing that most of us like is the kind that is more entertainment than anything else. The kind where when asked to state what they were selling we can only answer, "I think it was a beer commercial...". The second it starts to influence us in anyway the same people who made us laugh are now the devil incarnate. We love it when marketing people pay for things we want. Most of the web is free because of marketing. Over the air television is paid for with marketing. Huge numbers of other things from sports to community events are also paid for in large part by marketing people. Again, we want it on our terms, if any of the marketing people's needs and desires start to become noticeable we flip out and complain. Marketing is there to buy us things with never any hope of reward or thanks.

I find this all terribly funny because to be honest when I look at marketing all I really see is fashion. Why do people shop at Target over K-Mart? Target is more fashionable. All the best people shop at Target. K-mart is for poor people. Nevermind, whether quality or pricing. We know that Target is better. If for some reason Target is to expensive we can always run to Walmart. After all, everybody knows that Walmart is the cheapest store. It makes it okay to shop there because now you are getting a bargain. Walmart is a fashionable place to buy stuff because you tell people you got a deal. Fashion once again rears its ugly head.

In the end though, this post has to have to a point. Marketing is about fashion which is about making people comfortable doing what you want them to do. After all, as elections have taught us for years. People usually just want to fit in with the crowd and not be on the losing side. This brings us to one of the great moments in marketing history. Nobody likes prunes, they're just fiber for old people. Nobody wants to be associated with that. Folks would much rather have a dried plum.

Big Hero 6

We went to see Disney's Big Hero 6 over the weekend. I was not planning on seeing it opening weekend but we had family visiting so we were looking for fun things to do together. The movie itself was pretty straight forward. The world was an off the shelf modern Asian city and required little in the way of explanation. The villain was pretty obvious but the story did not really care so there is no loss there. The characters were straight from central casting archetypes that you have seen in a dozen other movies. Again though, this matters little since they are clearly bit players in the story. The action was even set in "San Fransokyo" so clearly we were looking for broad appeal.

The animation did nothing to distract from the movie but it didn't add anything either. It was that now so common CGI look that just tries to get out of the way. In many ways it was computer animation trying to be live action. Maybe it is a case where you do not notice the special effects when the entire movie is one giant special effect. To get on my soapbox for a second, this really is a mistake, the best part of animation is that you can use the art to help set the mood and tell your story. At least give me a different color palette once in a while! You can do more with animation than we're doing right now and without resorting to expensive hand drawn art. Once you you make the decision to go animated, you need to take advantage of it.

Overall, Big Hero 6 was also very well done. The downsides do little to distract from the story. The lesson of the movie was felt by the kids without any of us feeling like we were getting hit over the head with it. The action did not get boring. Baymax had enough light-hearted moments to balance out the more serious points. If you have kids it is worth seeing this movie with them. However, you may find there's not enough there if you aren't aiming for a good kids movie experience.

I should mention this movie has a new short at the beginning called "Feast". This is where you get something with more broad spectrum appeal. The kids loved it and the adults were really into it as well. The dog was expressive and told a story that we do not normally see. Although it is still the generic computer animation look, it felt like the there was a bit more effort put into using colors, time of day and perspective. Hopefully, they will keep exploring with their shorts. Disney has better movies in them than we're seeing right. If we are lucky, they will break out of their comfort zone in the future.