The Banshee Flash Fun

I love spooky stories and I especially love the spooky stories that have been told for hundreds of years.  It’s like a provocative way to pass superstitions and family stories for generations to enjoy around a fire or scare their kids as they are tucked in for the night. Folklore and legend make for wonderful lessons and childhood memories.

A good example would be when I was probably seven or eight my Great Aunt Margret was tucking me in bed for the night around Christmas time. She was straight off the boat from Ireland just a few years before I was born and I always remember her shrill tone and pure Irish wit as she chastised us for watching TV or late for dinner.  It wasn’t until much later after her death did I learn she would smile when she was really angry. My entire childhood I believed she was only kidding when she yelled, confused by her facial expressions.

I’ll never forget the story that she told me while tucking me in, warning that I needed to be asleep before the Banshee arrived and that every night she could pop in to see if all children were asleep. If they weren’t she would let out a horrible scream and steal their soul. If that story wasn’t terrifying enough, she imitated a Banshee-like scream at the top of her lungs, raising her hands in grabbing motions and that terrible, terrible look on her face as she finished to a growl still sticks with me today.

That’s an excuse to piss the bed if ever there was one. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Great Aunt Margret didn’t have any kids.

To this day the legend of the Banshee is one of my favorites like the Headless Horseman or Dracula. The thought of a horrible female ghost coming in a house at night to collect souls really had me quaking under the sheets as a kid but now that I am an adult, it’s a fun story. That’s why this amazing flash animation of The Banshee by Ed Bain at the site, Darkartsmedia.com, is so great and unbelievably well done.

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This short animation has such an eerie feel to it. You listen to the ghostly winds and the lack of music adds to the dreary and melancholy effect as a woman tells her story of the Banshee coming to reap the soul of her grandmother.

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The story has a bit of everything that makes the hairs stand on the back of the neck from the graves to the skeletons creeping behind the Banshee. The narrator tells of farm hands who report seeing a young girl walking alone in the woods and when they call she disappears. That is pretty creepy, I will admit.

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It ends with the Banshee screaming out at night from the roof of the house of the narrator as she took her Grandmother’s soul. The moon turns blood-red and skeletons creep up the yard towards the house.

She did, however, fail to include the part when she shit her pants. I guess that would detract from the story but I wouldn’t lay blame for something I would absolutely do.

This is a cool little piece of the internet that I like to visit when the days get a little shorter and the air is crisp. Please take a gander and turn the speakers up high. Ed suggests visiting between the hours of 3am and 4am.

It requires Adobe Flash so unfortunately iPads and iPhones aren’t able to play this but everything else should be A-OKAY. Truly a love of mine.

THE BANSHEE

 

Comfort Holiday Food or CHF For Short

Wow, I never thought a title could be so stupid until I actually saw it typed. And yes, it is amazingly bad so I will leave it. Then again, it does cut to the point of this pointless blog and today I am writing about an easy concoction that any dude can follow. Seriously, if you can’t make this I…I just feel for you. Turn your kitchen into an indoor pool or something because you are obviously like Ozzy Osbourne trying to make breakfast. So let’s get started on this holiday-cold weather-need a sweater-don’t care about calorie CHF for the season: Will-Bill’s take on Shepard’s Pie.

Have you ever had truly authentic Irish food? Not what you were thinking, was it? No, these folks are great at whiskey but when it comes to food in Ireland, I can say from experience, you need an unassuming tongue. But what do I know? I hail from the land of Cheeseburgers. And that being said I have turned Shepard’s Pie into just that…a mashed-up cheeseburger.

First on the list of list is to brown the meat. I always go with the 80/20 because I saw Alton Brown cooking with it on TV and if it’s on TV it has to be right. With the meat I usually add a table-spoon of salt and pepper but thanks to the good people at McCormick, they have their own version that I add to almost everything now.

McCormick’s Grill Mates have a Montreal Steak seasoning that is good on almost everything. If you are worried about your sodium level, they boast to have 20% less salt but lets face it, it’s still a shit load of salt. THIS IS COMFORT FOOD! Read about seaweed and poached kale diets on some other blog. Douse this seasoning liberally to your meat and continue to brown.

Ah, nature’s flavor sponges. I take a package of mushrooms and quarter them. Why do quarter them and not slice, you ask? I really think they are better this way. Don’t worry, mushrooms absorb everything so they shrink. They’ll still fit.

No dinner that I cook is void of these three ingredients: jalapeno, garlic and onion. I chop the jalapeno into halves and add them to the meat right away. (Don’t forget the seeds!) Next I slap-chop the garlic and onion to oblivion. God I love the SlapChop. The only thing I hate though is removing the damn skins from the garlic. But there is no way around it so I guess I will always have to do the whole smash, cuss and peel method. See below.

Alright, the meat is drained (often), and the garlic, pepper, onion and ‘shooms are added. I reduce the heat, cover  and let the mix…mix. Now go to the fridge and get a second beer. GO TO THE FRIDGE AND GET A SECOND BEER!!!

While you are giving the mushrooms time to simmer and soak in the jalapeno and garlic, it’s time to bring out the second phase. I call it “Phase Two”. We are adding one and a half cans of cream of mushroom soup (fat-full kind) and one can of drained whole corn. Usually peas are added too but a certain someone who will be eating this hates peas. I can’t think of a substitute so corn is going solo.

When you feel that the mushrooms have taken in all flavor they can we add the soup and corn, cover and let simmer for about five minutes or so on low heat. By now the smell of garlic should be chasing all vampires out of you attic. I assume that your beer is almost done so head over to the fridge and get another. If I have to say it one more time….IF I HAVE TO SAY IT ONE MORE TIME!!!!!!

We are almost there so next comes the third phase or as I like to call it, “Alpha one”. You need to bring four cups of water to a boil in a medium size pot. Once you have achieved a boil, remove the pot from the heat and pour in two bags of Idahoan instant potatoes and whip with a fork until firm. Why instant and not real? Because I’m not a real cook. These potatoes take less time than Kraft Mac&Cheeze so be ready for them. And by read I mean you need to pour the meat’n-stuff into a cooking pan like so…

God, that looks like the worst brownie in the world, doesn’t it? I looks like you invited an old Eastern Euro-Bloc guy to a holiday office party an assigned him deserts to bring. He would say, “I vill bring brownies for holiday party and you vill like!”. I imagine he would look like this.

I forgot what we were doing. How’s your beer?

Now we pour the potatoes over the Bosnia Brownie (I served 3 consecutive years over there. Let me have that joke!) and spread them over the top much as you would ice a cake.

For the final phase or Phase “I don’t know, Margo” we will add an entire bag of cheese. Generally I use cheddar but when I see the word “new” on a bag I buy it immediately. Now, I forgot to tell you to preheat the oven to 375 but I assume you aren’t reading this in realtime as you cook. If you are, then I love you. But sorry, you need to preheat the oven to 375. Time for another beer or SO HELP ME! Cover the whole…casserole(?) with aluminum foil and bake this masterpiece for 25 minutes.

After all that work you should be looking at something similar to this. Wait till it cools before digging in. I feel like I have to say that for some reason. This is an easy dinner that most anyone will like unless they hate beef, mushrooms, garlic, cheese, potatoes, onions, jalapenos or life. In that case there are TV dinners.

ANNOUNCEMENT! The Practical Cook and I are challenging each other to a video review where we assign one another to holiday items to, well, review. Later today I take on that challenge and it will be posted right here. Rock on and be merry, Harry!

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