Phase IV’s Long Lost Ending (SPOILER ALERT)

Well now I know why the studio took control of Phase IV and removed most of Saul Bass’s original ending. It was almost like I was having a brief flashback to the first third of the movie Beyond the Black Rainbow–but without the same artistry.**

The downside is that while they removed as much of the 70’s psychedelic montage as possible (supposedly it was pulled because it didn’t test very well, but I personally felt it distracted from the way majority of the movie was filmed anyway), they still managed to cut out a few seconds that contained one of the most important pieces of the movie!

The way the movie was originally released–each phase is titled in the movie–with the exception of the the final phase. Because of this, I originally thought that the movie title “Phase IV” referred to the fourth step in the evolution of the ants; but once I saw the movie with the missing ending, I realized that I had it backwards.

Phase 1: The first phase was the unnamed cosmic event that triggered the ants’ intelligence and coming together of all different species of ants to work as one hive.

Phase 2: I’m mentally kicking myself right now because I can’t remember what the second phase was and that means I’ll have to watch the movie again soon.

Phase 3: This one was interesting because all it showed was the activity of normal desert animals – but without any of the animals being attacked by ants. And this is after we were previously told that the ants had chased out or killed off many of the other desert creatures. Once seeing the missing footage, including the unintentionally humorous bits with humans flying and interacting in other ways with animals, this segment makes a bit more sense. The third phase was the integration of other creatures into the hive way of life where all animals have their specialization or place in society.

And that brings us to Phase 4 and what I consider to be the most important few seconds of film footage cut out of the ending.

In the missing ending, right before the bizarre montage begins that shows the integration of humans into a similar hive society, the title “Phase IV” appears in the same place and in EXACTLY the same way as the previous three phases. That’s when I realized that humans joining the ant society was the fourth and final phase, and that eventually the entire planet would be one massive hive containing all life.

Why was the part with the final phase cut? Probably because once the rest was cut out, it would have left it appearing in the upper right hand corner showing the beginning of the fourth phase right before the final credits began, which also includes the title “Phase IV”. With everything else cut out, there was nothing between them and it would have looked like an odd duplication. I just wish they had put in a bit more of the montage, as it wasn’t all bad (just most of it), so that the final phase could have appeared correctly.

In a perfect world, a completely different ending should have been filmed. And I don’t mean changing the way the story ended–a vague, abstract ending is fine, but in all honesty, neither of the endings were very well done.

Do I still like this movie? Yes. And knowing how it was supposed to end makes it even better in my mind… as long as I never have to watch the missing footage again. I guess I’ll have to hunt down the novelization by Barry Malzberg so I can see how close I am to the real story.

 

**I didn’t find out until after watching the movie at the Alamo that Panos Cosmatos had mentioned in an interview that Phase IV had inspired the general look of Beyond the Black Rainbow. (I still haven’t decided whether I loved or hated that movie, but it really does deserve to eventually have its own post rather than simply being a footnote in this one.)

Splurging at Vosage on International Chocolate Day

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One of my goals for this year’s trip to Las Vegas is to visit as many chocolatier shops as possible. Well, more like as many as I can afford. Today I stopped at Vosges Haut-Chocolat in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, which was unintentionally appropriate as today is also International Chocolate Day.

Why unintentionally appropriate? Well, I had forgotten about International Chocolate Day, and the Vosges business card provided by the lovely and knowledgable Kara has the tagline “Travel the world through chocolate“. Like my name, it couldn’t have worked out better if I had tried (that’s actually a quote from my Mom about the translation of my name–which includes donkeys. And that’s probably more than you need to know).

Back to Kara and traveling the world through chocolate. I had heard so much about Vosges’ exotic chocolate bars, but once I was there, I couldn’t make up my mind about which ones I wanted to try. I certainly couldn’t afford all of them. Luckily, I found the Mini Exotic Chocolate Bar Library for $25. It contains nine 1/2 ounce candy bars, including: Black Pearl, Red Fire, Naga, Amalfi, Barcelona, Woolloomooloo, Oaxaca, Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee, and Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar. I haven’t decided if I’m sharing any of these with anyone as they’re tiny little bars.

While ringing me up, Kara talked me into sampling one of the truffles. This was the first time that I’ve ever picked out a food item based on nothing else other than its name.

Funk and Disco.

How could you not eat a truffle called Funk and Disco?

It was wonderful and I had to have more.

So… I ended up purchasing a four-piece box of truffles. And because the Taleggio cheese truffles were too large to fit in that box, I had to get another set of two (I really wanted to try it).

I’d have also walked out with the Red Fire Toffee (sooooo tasty!!!), but they only sell it by the half pound. If I win another few games, I’ll grab some to take home.

NOTE: I would like to take a moment to point out that our room is not set up for taking photographs of candy. The lighting sucks, as does my photography skills, and I had to use my pillow case as the backdrop. Also, chunky, serrated knives are not very good at slicing tempered chocolate with delicate centers without mangling them a bit.

Now to introduce the truffles:

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Funk and Disco
Buttermilk banana pudding + vanilla powder + milk chocolate truffle (41% cacao)

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It was pretty damn good, which is how Kara suckered me into purchasing more than I originally planned. Dusted with vanilla powder, the banana pudding flavor was nicely strong and the slight tang of the buttermilk kept the milk chocolate from being too sweet. (Now I need to find out if adding a little buttercream will improve my banana pudding recipe.)
 
Ambrosia
Australian macadamia nuts + Cointreau + white chocolate

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I’m a sucker for good white chocolate and anything with orange, so the Ambrosia truffle was an obvious choice. I’d have preferred a few more of the chopped macadamia nuts, but other than that, it was very smooth and non-greasy with a light taste of triple sec (I hate it when all you can taste is the booze. If I wanted that, I’d be drinking instead of eating truffles). Definitely one that I’d purchase again.
 
Tlan Nacu
Mexican vanilla bean + Venezuelan 65% dark chocolate

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This one had a card with a full description. “Tlan Nacu, meaning “good heart,” is the name of a small vanilla bean plantation in thetown of Papantia on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Plump vanilla beans are infused in warm cream imparting a very distinct Mexican vanilla flavor. Dark chocolate and hand-picked vanilla beans…simply enchanting!”

I’m in love. Dark, velvety chocolate love. I’m going back for a box of Tlan Nacu before leaving Vegas. (I only ate half of this one. I’m saving the other half for a perfect moment.)
 
Balsamico
12-year aged balsamic vinegar from Modena + dark chocolate + Sicilian hazelnuts

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The one thing I’ve noticed about the truffles so far is that the additional flavors don’t overpower the chocolate. That’s important, especially when you’re adding vinegar to the equation–even if it’s balsamic vinegar. While I selected the Balsamico because I was curious about it, I’d definitely eat a few more of them.
 
Rooster
Taleggio cheese + organic walnuts + Tahitian vanilla bean + bittersweet dark chocolate

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The Rooster has a fairly long description that starts off reading like a description of wine and ends up asking you to open your mind and deconstruct what you know about chocolate. Warning: When someone starts asking you to open your mind before trying something… it may be time to rethink what you’re getting ready to do.

The truffle center didn’t immediately melt when hitting the tongue like the other selections, probably due to the inclusion of cheese. The cheese was slightly strong and salty, and it worked surprisingly well with the bittersweet chocolate. While I wouldn’t purchase the Rooster again, it was interesting and I was still more than willing to eat both of the ones I purchased.

Overall, this experience has taught me that Katrina Markoff, Vosges Haut-Chocolat’s owner and chocolatier, has a way of making exotic, and sometimes extremely odd, ingredients work with chocolate. At their best, they’ll have your eyes rolling up in the back of your head while and making obscene moaning noises (you–not your eyes); and at their worst, they’re still edible (utterly unlike a bleu cheese truffle I purchased in Austin).

I’d even give the Olio D’Oliva truffle a try, and that means a lot since I absolutely despise Kalamata olives.

FINAL NOTE: If anyone from Vosges reads this, please, please either give Kara a raise or at least let her know how amazing she is. Kara was willing to answer any questions I had without making me feel like a complete idiot, and she’s obviously great at up-selling chocolate–which should make any company happy.

More Candy Corn!

Deadly Sweet - Halloween 2011

(The plushies in the photo can be purchased through Michelle Coffee’s Deadly Sweet Etsy site. I’d have used one of my own photos, but the little green zombie candy corn was just too cute to ignore.)

Last year I tried 12 different flavors and/or brands of candy corn. If you missed that, you can catch up here. Today, I found two more brands of candy corn that I’ve never tried before, so I’m testing them out right now. The control candy corn is still Brach’s as it’s my favorite (that is until I can locate that gourmet candy corn I had once many years ago that was FABULOUS).

First up is Zachary Candy Corn mello-creme. This is as soon as I can rip the bag open… crap. Now I have to put the computer down and hunt up a pair of scissors. Hold on a sec. Oh wow, very fragrant. And somewhat odd. I can definitely taste the honey in them. And if you can imagine it, a hell of a lot more sugar than candy corn should have. I know that’s a strange thing to say about something that is almost all sugar, but most brands have enough salt in them to keep the huge amount of sugar from being too cloying. Zachary’s candy corn doesn’t seem to and they make my teeth hurt.

The second bag is Autumn Corn from Cost Plus (sold at World Market). And it tastes like Cost Plus is a distribution point for Zachary’s after a rather large markup.

Wow, now I have two more bags to dump on someone give to a lucky, lucky person.

Brach’s is $1.49 for 11 0z.

Zachary Candy Corn is $2.99 for 16 oz.

Cost Plus Autumn Corn is $3.99 for 10 oz.

Brach’s is still the winner and will soon be joining some salty cashews for me to snack on.

Starkist Albacore Tuna Comparison

I’m not a big tuna consumer, but every once in a while I have a craving for a tuna melt.  Since I don’t buy in bulk, I have to deal with the choice between canned tuna or the non-juicified flat pack tuna.  Normally I go with the flat pack, but now I was curious, which of the two is cheaper after all the liquid has been removed?  Is the convenience of not having to drain it worth the price?

So I decided to figure it out once and for all.

Starkist Albacore Tuna Comparison

For this comparison I chose Starkist albacore tuna. The can is 12 ounces packed in water, and the flat pack (not sure what the correct term for that really is…) is 6.4 ounces with very little water.

Starkist Albacore Tuna Comparison

After draining the canned tuna and dumping it into a bowl and weighing it, it came to a total of 8.25 ounces. So there was 3.75 ounces of water in the can. It was also nice and chunky, which is why I usually get albacore instead of the cheap-ass leftover ends of shredded tuna.

Starkist Albacore Tuna from a can

The flat pack tuna didn’t have as much liquid, but it was still kinda soggy so I drained it too. It came out to 6 ounces. It also looked like the cheap-ass leftover ends of shredded tuna mentioned above.

Starkist Albacore Tuna from a flat pack

The total price isn’t that different between the two. The can was $3 and the pack was $2.69. The difference between the price per ounce was a bit larger. Once the water was removed from both products, the canned tuna came out to $0.36 per ounce, and the flat pack tuna was $0.45 per ounce. So you can purchase the nicer looking chunky tuna for about $0.09 an ounce less than the nasty shredded tuna. Since I still had to drain both of them, the flat pack wasn’t convenient enough to make it worth purchasing and the product quality was crappy as well.

So, from now one, I’ll stick with canned albacore tuna and leave the more expensive flat pack for those who like soggy tuna pieces.

A Halloween Candy Corn Review

Before I begin, I just want everyone to know that I am ALMOST sick of candy corn now. Not quite sick enough to give away my stash of the winning brand, but enough to unload the 9 remaining bags on my coworkers.

I reviewed a combination of flavored candy corn (flavors other than the regular one everyone is familiar with), and the normal everyday variety of candy corn but from different manufacturers. They are not reviewed in any particular order.

  1. Gummy Candy Corn (Target Gourmet brand): I don’t know why I bothered since it’s not really candy corn, but I was curious to see what it tasted like.  Not good.  It was sort of sour and not much of a candy corn flavor. It’s better than eating a gummy eyeball, but not by much.
    Gummy Candy Corn (1)
  2. Pumpkin Pie Candy Corn (Target Gourmet brand): Most of the Target Gourmet candy corn had a softer texture than the regular stuff.  It tasted less like pumpkin pie and more like candy corn with cinnamon and all the other standard pumpkin pie spices.  I didn’t care for it at all, but some of my coworkers have been contentedly munching on it.  Unlike the other flavors of this brand – it left an odd coating on the tongue.
    Pumpkin Pie Candy Corn (2)
  3. S’mores Candy Corn (Target Gourmet brand): Once the bag was opened, all I could smell was brown sugar with a hell of a lot of molasses. The first blast of flavor was ass gas… sweet, sweet ass gas.  The second wasn’t as bad, but I didn’t try for a third.
    S'mores Candy Corn (3)
    4. Chocolate Covered Green Apple Candy Corn (Target Gourmet brand): The bag had a combination of the Green Apple candy corn without chocolate, and some completely coated in chocolate. The plain candy tasted like the combination of a green apple Jolly Ranchers and candy corn. The chocolate covered version was pretty darn good. The bag currently resides in a desk drawer where I can sneak it out without having to share with my coworkers.
    Chocolate Covered Green Apple Candy Corn (4)
    5. Blood Orange Candy Corn (Target Gourmet brand): Sadly it didn’t taste anything like a blood orange. It was everyday fake-orange flavored candy. Okay for mixing with regular candy corn, but not great on its own.
    Blood Orange Candy Corn (5)
    6. Strawberry Cotton Candy Candy Corn (Target Gourmet brand): It actually tasted like cotton candy. Sadly, that only came out at the end after almost being overpowered by the mandatory artificial flavor that everyone uses when you want candy to taste like strawberries. It was also way too sweet, but then again so is cotton candy, so I’m not sure if that’s good or bad here. After trying this one – I’d like to see a regular cotton candy candy corn without the strawberry.
    Strawberry Cotton Candy Candy Corn (6)
    7. Hill Country Fare Candy Corn: Hill Country Fare is the low end house brand at the HEB grocery stores in central Texas (mid range is HEB Brand, and high end is Central Market). Do not purchase this candy corn. Please, please do not even think about purchasing this unless you hate the person you’re giving it to. It was remaniscient of plastic and cardboard soaked in bug spray. I threw this one away because I don’t hate anyone that much.
    Hill Country Fare Candy Corn (7)
    8. Brach’s Candy Corn (made with real honey): It took two bags of Brach’s Candy Corn to get this review written. The first bag was emptied before the review actually started, and the second kept me going in between some of the nastier entries. Tonight a friend introduced me to the best way to eat Brach’s candy corn – add a can of salted cashews to the bowl/bag and eat both at the same time. I will now need a third bag to make sure that I wasn’t imagining it’s salty-sweet goodness.
    Brach's Candy Corn (8)
    9. Market Pantry Candy Corn (Target house brand sold in bulk): This candy is 2/3’s the size of Brach’s, and the flavor was only about half as much. It was sorta like eating a wax copy of candy corn.
    Market Pantry Candy Corn (9)
    10. Lammes Candies Candy Corn: These looked exactly like the Market Pantry Candy Corn (and were the same size), but they tasted much better. Not quite as good as Brach’s, but close.
     Lammes Candy Corn (10)
    11. Brach’s Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn: It tastes like cheap caramel candy. I assume they’re supposed to taste like Brach’s Milk Maid candy, but in this case, that’s not a good thing.
    Brach's Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn (11)
    12. Brach’s Indian Corn: This tastes like candy corn with a little caramel and chocolate added. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I guess I could try a few more.
    Brach's Indian Corn Candy (12)