Hmm Weekly for October 22, 2019
From the bakers at HMM DAILY
Another Week, Another Hmm Weekly
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NOTE: The Destination Is the Journey Dep’t., our serial travelogue, will return next week, picking up where it left off outside Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Dain Ironfoot brings a hammer to war in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
DON’T HURT ‘EM DEP'T.
THE YOUNGER BOY and I had time to kill on the Upper East Side, after we'd dropped the older one off at a birthday party, so we walked over to the Met to see the arms and armor. At the suggested-admission desk, I ignored the $25 suggestion and paid $5 for me and nothing for him. We weren't going to be there long, and the Met has plenty of Sackler and Koch money in the vaults, and it's greedy enough to force out-of-state visitors to pay, which also means the in-staters have to wait in line to show I.D., rather than just hitting the automated ticket kiosks. I should have given them zero dollars, but I'm oversocialized.
The last time I took the younger boy to the Met it was kind of a bust, and he spent most of the time whining and wanting to leave. But that time, we'd had his brother with us. Although on most things the two of them are compatible, or at least complementary, in a museum, their differences in outlook—the elder's slow-twitch wiring versus the younger's fast-twitch—become unbearable.
With no one forcing him to drag along thoughtfully absorbing one thing at a time, the younger one was perfectly happy to spend his time and attention in the galleries of weaponry. Now and then he needed to dart from one place to another, but between those bursts he was just as likely to want to settle in and work through the classification of every spear or halberd or glaive in a case.
He was interested in the Japanese swords, as I'd expected he would be, and less absorbed by the firearms than I might have guessed. I was not expecting, however, that he would be fascinated by the war hammers.
The war hammer was not a weapon I'd paid any attention to, when I was young and had weapons on my mind. It was there in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook—2-5 damage versus small and medium foes, 1-4 versus large, and a mere 1 gold piece in price—but for me it was there to skim over, like a fauchard or a spetum. My clerics, barred by the rules of role-playing-game piety from spilling blood with edged weapons, armed themselves with maces or flails.
The flail—a spiked ball swung on a chain, from a handle—may be an apocryphal weapon. Ewart Oakeshott, in European Weapons and Armour: From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution, called it "a squalid weapon" used only by "infantry or rebellions peasants."
"These crude weapons lack any kind of aesthetic appeal," Oakeshott wrote, "and in close combat they must have been as much of a threat to one's friends as a menace to one's enemies." It seems reasonable that swinging around a heavy ball in the middle of a battle, awesome though it may look in the mind's eye, might not have been among the best practices of pre-industrial warfare; other historians go further and dismiss the flail as entirely fake. The Met has some in its collection, but they're not on display.
(Oakeshott was likewise skeptical of the premise, borrowed into D&D from literature, that holy men were required to use blunt weapons rather than swords: "Can we really believe that medieval prelates were so simple-minded [or imagined their contemporaries to be] that they sought to avoid the wrath of God by so childish an evasion? Evidence for this belief is extremely slender.")
The war hammer was real. But did I truly know what it was? In my mind, inasmuch as I thought about it at all, I'd always thought about Thor's hammer Mjölnir, not so much as in Marvel comics but as in the D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths, where part of the story was about how short the handle of it was. And from that I thought of the little one-handed sledgehammer we had among the garden tools, stubby and awkward to use, or the big two-handed one, clumsier to swing than even the full-sized ax.
And that's the way it seemed to be in high fantasy, a huge whopping maul with a heavy timber handle and a gigantic crushing head. It's what Peter Jackson would decide to give Dain Ironfoot in the Battle of the Five Armies (which the younger boy came along to see in the theater when he was really much, much too young for it). Even if you'd rolled a 17 or 18 in Strength, it was hard to daydream about heaving something as ponderous as that around in a fight. Certainly nobody pretended to be swinging one in any stick battles in the woods or fields, not when you could slash and parry with an imaginary sword.
But a war hammer is not that thing at all, in reality. It's a hammer—a hammer-hammer, like one from a toolbox, enlarged and lengthened only slightly, with a modest-sized and fairly narrow head. Of course it is! The back side has more of a spike than a claw or a ball peen, that's all. Think how bad you'd hurt someone if you hit them with a hammer, and how fast you could swing it. Wham! Didn't you see Oldboy? Why would you need any more weapon than that in an age of heroism or chivalry?
Proper war hammers, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
So there they were, sleek and shining steel, by the end of the great central hall with its armored horse-figures bearing armored human-figures with lances. There were maces in the case too, and they looked great, all flanged and sinister, but the hammers were hilariously simple and straightforward. I told the boy why I thought it was funny, the distance between the oafish mythic strongman weapon and these compact little tools for efficiently dealing out harm, and he thought it was funny, too. When we got home, he told everyone else about it.
GIG ECONOMY DEP’T.
Vending Machine Food, Reviewed: QUAKER® BREAKFAST COOKIE
I do not have a Day Job, so I have started working “Temp Jobs.” One thing about the Temp Job is you generally don’t have an assigned space of your own, plus, you’re not always sure if you’re coming back the next day, so you can’t leave a little stash of stuff to eat, and if you forget to bring your lunch or some snacks, you are frequently at the mercy of the Break Room, quite possibly patronizing a VENDING MACHINE.
FOR THE RECORD, this is my second trip to the vending machine at my temp job for the same item, a Quaker® Breakfast Cookie, because I didn’t microwave the one I ate on site, so for a more strict Scientific Evaluation, I bought another one (I think it was $1.25) and took it home and nuked it for 10 seconds per the instructions.
The heated-up Breakfast Cookie. I took a bite out of it to make it look like the serving suggestion on the wrapper, but then I thought: Why would the serving suggestion have a bite out of it? Anyway.
I guess the idea of Breakfast Cookie is to make it competition for those energy bars like Clif and the other energy bars I don’t know the names of because I don’t eat Energy Bars, but I eat cookies, and when I saw BREAKFAST COOKIE, for a sec I thought it was going to be made out of bacon and eggs somehow, like somehow they finally solved this whole Meal Replacement bar thing and made a Bar out of an actual Meal, but no, this is just a fucking cookie with a bunch of vitamins jammed in, like some crappy breakfast cereal.
It has a lot of fiber, and it is somewhat substantial. For $1.25 I guess it’s not a horrible way to stave off hunger, but I was disappointed when I read the Ingredients and saw there was an Artificial Ingredient, technically an Artificial Flavor, but it’s an Ingredient that makes a flavor, so it’s an Ingredient, I don’t want to get into semantics here, cookiewise. I’m not talking about the vanillin listed, because it’s way too confusing to figure out what the hell that even is, I’m talking about the other Artificial Flavor listed here, which doesn’t even get name-checked. Also, cyanocobalamin bothers me. You couldn’t just make a goddamn cookie and leave out an Artificial Flavor and some shit called “cyanocobalamin?” I don’t want to eat a cyanocobalamin! According to this Wikipedia entry, it’s made using cyanide! I don’t care if it’s a B vitamin, I don’t want it, all I want is something to take the edge off because I was late for work and didn’t have time to eat any breakfast and now I’m at the vending machine doing Magical Thinking about a fucking Breakfast Cookie!
This is not a great cookie, heating it up didn’t help, and I don’t really buy that MICROWAVABLE WRAPPER thing, it seemed weird and carcinogenic that you’re supposed to heat it up in the wrapper. This cookie is too soft and it has sort of a mildly bitter aftertaste, which I’m hoping is not the cyanocobalamin, but I guess it might be healthier than eating a cinnamon bun. But it’s not good. Try not to be late for work so you can get a decent breakfast and not have to go to the Vending Machine for a bookmark to put in your stomach.
This review is the second of a series, unless I don’t have a Temp Job anymore with available Vending Machine Food to sample, in which case it is the Final Installment. Thank you.
Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK DEP’T.
DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, directed by Craig Brewer
IT’S NOT LIKE Eddie Murphy hasn’t been working, but all of a sudden it seems like he’s back from someplace. He’s starring in this movie Dolemite Is My Name, a lighthearted recreation of self-made success Rudy Ray Moore’s path from Chitlin’ Circuit entertainer to Hollywood Box Office Dynamite as the crude, rude, and occasionally nude Blaxploitation film hero Dolemite.
Tituss Burgess in Dolemite Is My Name
You can watch this flick at home on Netflix, but it also opened in small theaters over the weekend, which I believe was done as a salute to the storied business model of Blaxploitation films. I saw the movie Saturday in Baltimore at the Beltway Plaza theater for the “Beltway Bargain” price of five bucks. I don’t care if it’s on Netflix, it’s still a first-run movie! FIVE BUCKS!
Da'Vine Joy Randolph in Dolemite Is My Name
The Beltway Plaza is a great value - look at what they’re charging for the new Star Wars coming up in December, you can’t beat this place! Value!
The reason to watch Dolemite Is My Name is to witness the unbridled joy Eddie Murphy radiates playing Rudy Ray Moore playing Dolemite. There’s an Ed Wood vibe to this film, as everyone gets together to make a movie, put on a show, and Murphy channels the unstoppable faith of Moore’s creative process.
Craig Robinson in Dolemite Is My Name
This movie is loaded with great performers: Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Tituss Burgess, Craig Robinson, Snoop Dogg, and Chris Rock. Wesley Snipes sort of has a comeback of his own going, now that he’s home after doing a few years for being bad at filing his taxes. Snipes has a nice turn as D'Urville Martin, a classy actor who was in Rosemary’s Baby, and ends up directing the Dolomite movie because nobody else in Mr. Moore’s company knows much about movie making.
Wesley Snipes in Dolemite Is My Name
I wish Chris Rock would get acting lessons or something, he is not a good actor. Snoop Dogg is not somebody you’d think would be a good actor, but he is way more comfortable on screen than Chris Rock, I just don’t get how somebody so successful at being a standup comedian is so tense on camera.
Snoop Dogg in Dolemite Is My Name
A while back Eddie Murphy had some trouble with the cops, and then it seemed like he was hiding out doing children’s films, keeping a low profile, and now it’s like he’s high on life or something. He did a big Saturday Night Live reunion a few years ago and didn’t tell any jokes, he was just pleasant and expressed his gratitude at being there, and a little while ago he did one of those Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, and now with this Netflix movie, he made something that’s funnier than Adam Sandler’s entire catalog.
VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.
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WE PRESENT A selection of recipes for ancient but reproducible sandwiches, found in The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, by Eva Green Fuller; 1909; McClurg and co, Chicago, now in the public domain for the delectation of all.
Run three good sized boiled potatoes through the potato ricer, season with salt and pepper, add the yolks of four hard-boiled eggs that have been rubbed to paste, and one tablespoonful of melted butter. Mix thoroughly and place between thin slices of lightly buttered brown bread. Garnish with a pickle.
Creole rice may be shaped to a circle, in which to make a cavity; leave this to stand in a cool place until firm; when so, cut in half, horizontally. Spread peach preserves neatly on lower ring, mask well with syrup. Put on upper ring and mask well with the syrup. Put in a cool place until ready to serve; cut V-shape and serve with unflavored cream.
Pass two cupfuls of freshly popped corn through the meat chopper, place this in the chopping bowl, add a dash of salt and cayenne pepper, five boned sardines, a dash of Worcestershire, and enough tomato catsup to form a paste. Spread this on circles of hot buttered toast. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and crisp in hot oven. Serve as soon as made.
Spread thin slices of gluten bread with peanut butter, mixed with crisp brown bread crumbs, put the two slices together, and cut in strips.
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