Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Favorites

1) New Copy of Wuthering Heights - Just have to expand my leatherbound Barnes & Noble classics collection every so often, this time with at least my third copy of this book. Aren't the branches such a pretty touch to this cover?

2) J.R. Watkins Lip Tint - This is very similar to the Burt's Bees lip shimmers. Like Burt's Bees, there are no iffy ingredients. This one might be a little grainier, though. But it has a nice minty flavor, adds a touch of color, and is low-priced. It isn't my absolute favorite, but it's alright.

3) Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea - Especially for such inexpensive tea, this stuff is wonderful. I wondered how well the peppermint would blend with the green tea, but somehow it works. It tastes sweet along with the mintiness, just like a candy cane; the green tea works because it doesn't give off the strong flavor that black tea would. It's the perfect holiday tea; I love it. Also available right now is the Vanilla and Cinnamon Black Tea, which I don't like nearly as much; it almost tastes dull.

4) Tarte Lights, Camera Flashes Mascara - Sephora was selling a Tarte eyelash curler in a set with a sample-sized edition of their new mascara, which I really wanted to try. It's a good mascara, but not quite my favorite. The liquid is thick, so it really piles onto your lashes, which is good. But somehow the brush (which looks like a good shape) separates lashes a tad too much. So maybe with a slightly different brush it would be better.

5)  Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea - Here is a November tea. It smells very much like pumpkin pie--perhaps too much. Fortunately, though, it has a more calming taste. There is just a touch of pumpkin and spices, along with the warmth of the rooibos. I don't usually like rooibos that much, so I was surprised that I did enjoy this tea. Instead of being thick, it's fairly delicate.

6) Fresh Sugar Favorites set - Oh, Christmas Time; Oh, Christmas Time; I bought myself a present. I just couldn't resist; I've been planing to buy this for months. If you've ever used Fresh's Sugar lip products, you know how amazing they feel on your lips. Soft, sweet, luxurious. And since they can get messy if you're not careful with them, I like the small size that's in the Christmas sets. I'm still not a fan of the purple in Berry (I'll probably use it to wear at night) and the red of Passion has to be reserved for occasional days. Cherry is a nice sprightly red alternative, and Petal is a gorgeous light shade of pink. Honey is still a nice casual, light, warm shade, and I had almost forgotten how beautiful Rose feels. Rose might be my favorite.

7) Mrs. Bridges Christmas Preserve - Oh, World Market, how I love thee. This jar of preserves tastes like Christmas: berries and spices, richness and fruitiness. It's a way of spreading fragrance onto toast.

8) Bite Beauty lip primer/liner - When winter comes and I do my occasional red lip, I really feel like I need a lip liner. But I didn't want to get one color that I wouldn't be able to use with multiple products, so I opted to try out Bite Beauty's colorless primer/liner. I'm still getting used to it and trying it out, but I think it does make my color last longer.

9) Banana Republic Skirt - Let's just pretend that I actually got this skirt at Banana Republic (actually, I don't really care; if I did, I wouldn't have said anything). Even though it's short, I feel like it has a cool weather look. I wore it with green tights, tall boots, a brown knit sweater, and a gold and dangly vintage necklace.

10) Christmas Decorating - I got a new, small Christmas tree this year; it looks colorful and happy with dinosaurs, a turkey, a lizard, beaded animals, a clay dog I made years ago, and a wise man on his camel.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Fifth Day of Thanksgiving

On this the Day of Thanksgiving, I found myself cooking a greater percentage of the dinner than I probably ever had before, in addition to trying out a couple new recipes. First thing, then, to be thankful for: the new pie crust and stuffing recipes. Butter really does make everything better. 

Pictured are just three turkeys from my collection. The largest I got in Third Grade, as a prize that I chose with our class tokens (which we would get for completing assignments, good behavior, that sort of thing). Initially, I wanted to paint this turkey, but as soon as I "bought" it, I knew it was perfect just the way it is. Then a couple years ago, someone found the smaller version in a secondhand store: now the big turkey has a baby turkey. The colorful, glittery pilgrim turkey is from World Market this year; it adds a little color to the more natural ones. 

As I reflect on the close of this day, I just way to say that peace feels so much better than stress or anger or strife. When the world is quiet, our hearts smile. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Third Day of Thanksgiving

You know, Thanksgiving is sort of like New Year's: they both, informally, cover two days. New Year's parties are on New Year's Eve, but the official day is New Year's Day. For Thanksgiving, Thursday is the day for gathering, but Friday is the day for tradition. Black Friday, that is. For some, it's a day for shopping. For me, it's always been about the decorating. And I've usually had Thursday and Friday off, so the two have gone together has a short holiday. Friday is sort of the after dinner course that follows Thanksgiving Thursday.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that Thanksgiving initiates the holiday season. Not only does Christmas decorating directly follow the Day of the Turkeys, but so do gifts. And, no, not gift-shopping: I mean bringing out the wrapped gifts. I've sort of done possibly all of my Christmas shopping already; maybe I will get a little bit more later if I see anything good, but on the whole, I'm done. Everything's wrapped, too. It's almost ridiculous. And, yes, that is the Downton Abbey wrapping paper on the present on the right side. 

Maybe it's that not only is it nice to beat the holiday crowds (it's easier to find what you're looking for when there are less people), but it's also nice to have the commercial side over when you settle into the holiday season. If you're done thinking about how much money you're spending and such like, then you can think about the people you bought those presents for and the joys of home, candy cane tea, crisply cold weather, and lights around the tree. If you take care of the details first, then you're free to enjoy and to live. 

Speaking of preparing details, tomorrow is pumpkin pie baking day. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The First Day of Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. I used to love it because it initiates the holiday season, but now I love it on its own merits.

Thanksgiving is like Fall's version of the Fourth of July. It's about patriotism (more toward home than specifically country), family, and food. But instead of barbecues, everything moves indoors to warmth and coziness. Whether your gathering is large or small, it's a time that people actually reflect on fellowship, and celebrating fellowship is a wonderful thing. So I dub this day the First Day of Thanksgiving, like the First Day of Christmas. Let the week of the turkey begin.

Thanksgiving can also be a strange one because it is a time of traditions and while every family's traditions can vary greatly, there are also more similarities with this holiday than with, I think, any other. People might choose from any number of possibilities for Christmas dinner, but Thanksgiving always means turkey unless you're vegetarian. It nearly always means pumpkin pie, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. What else you add and whether you go more formal or more casual, that varies. But I think there is more of a sense of national unity with this holiday; it's like we're not only reflecting on the company of family and friends, but also of our nation. 

Now who thinks I should make these turkey cookies I tried out today into a new Thanksgiving week tradition? 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Callebaut: Milk Chocolate

There has been a pretty steady downpour of rain all day. While the clouds are pretty, so much darkness is almost-depressing to those used to sunshine. So I come seeking solitude in chocolate. And not just any chocolate is this, but a special block I have been saving. It just so happens to be Barry Callebaut chocolate from New Frontiers in Sedona. 

Now, I have heard of Callebaut chocolate; I have heard that it is wonderful and that some of the talented chocolate makers use it as base for their chocolates and truffles. But I have never had any myself, so naturally I was delighted to find this block. And it is always such a delight to taste a respected chocolate brand for the first time. New Frontiers packages this chocolate up in clear wrap and sells them for about $10. Given that little Amano bars can be about that price, this really isn't that expensive: the block is thick and sturdy. It would be nice to use in a recipe where you need quality. But it is also nice broken up by a knife and served on a plate in small shavings. Perhaps at a Christmas party or Thanksgiving dinner?

Sorry, sorry, I just had to display my new turkey plate from World Market; I love turkeys and I love chocolate, so I had to love them together. But picture, instead of a painted turkey, a small dessert or a piece of fruit in the center of the chocolate rim. How elegant that would be. Don't let yourself be limited by the bulk size of this chocolate block or others like it: they can still be pretty. 

Setting my turkeys aside, I must also address the chocolate. It's milk chocolate, with no cocoa content listed. But it can't be any higher than 42%, and I don't think it's even that high. Perhaps around 38% cocoa? The first piece I slipped in my mouth struck me with the smoothness of its melting. As soon as it touches your tongue, it begins to melt; there is absolutely no hint of graininess in this absolute luxury. It melts so well that eating it is almost like sipping hot chocolate. The richness of the flavor is what provides the warmth; there are vanilla and caramel notes mixed in with complete softness. It's possible that the aftertaste is marshmallows. Is it worth the wait? Oh, yes. In fact, I might even consider serving some up with Thanksgiving dessert on Thursday, perhaps on this very turkey plate. Don't you worry, pumpkin pie: I won't replace you, just accent you. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why Star Wars is Fantasy

They say that, technically, Star Wars is a Western because of the way the plot and characters are arranged. But genre-wise, the series is usually put into sci-fi, right? Because it takes place partially in space and includes space travel and people from different planets. But I usually think of the Star Wars universe as fantasy.

Rewatching the entire series (starting with the original trilogy, then the prequel trilogy, of course), I started thinking about little things that I liked when I was younger. I liked Tatooine, with its beautiful sky and desert architecture and white linen clothing. I liked all the green on Endor. I liked all the braids in the hairstyles.

This type of thing, it reminds me of some of the things I loved while watching The Lord of the Rings for the first time. The trees and blue lights of Lothlorien, Galadriel's long hair and skirts, the cloaks of the Fellowship, the rolling hills of Rohan. Beautiful and/or fascinating things to look at. That's what fantasy often offers since it portrays a different world, only partially designed after our own. And Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far, far enough away that it might as well be a whole new universe. It has its own rules, system, settings, and people. To me, Tatooine is as fascinating as Lothlorien, if in a completely different way.

Instead of dwarves or fairies or unicorns, there are jawas, wookies, and droids. And instead of magic, there is the Force. Think about something like Harry Potter, where the characters have to learn to use magic, choosing either good or ill as you do with anything in life. That type of journey is not so unlike Luke's and Anakin's journeys toward understanding their power. They can levitate things with their minds, after all; that's more fantasy than science.

Maybe it's also because the space element is engrained in the Star Wars world that it feels more like fantasy than sci-fi. We're not dealing with a future version of our world where Earth has gained space travel; we're dealing with a different territory where space travel is just one of the facts of existence. Isn't fantasy wonderful?

Monday, November 18, 2013

The "Alice" Character

Wasn't last night's episode of Once Upon a Time fantastic? It was like we had been waiting two and a half seasons to see all that unfold--and I guessed correctly about the identity of a certain Peter Pan, I might add. But I'd like to take this opportunity to go over another fantasy-related concept I've been pondering: the "Alice" figure.

The story of Alice in Wonderland has always made for a bit of a conundrum for anyone adapting it to film: there is very little of a real (traditional, I mean) plot line and the main character does not change or progress or anything like that from beginning to end (symbolically, she does--but not within the physical framework of the story). So Alice often looks very flat on film, because she is in fact, purposefully, written fairly flat. Some filmmakers know how to work with this; others just bypass it and turn Alice into an active character. Tim Burton kept Alice fairly restrained while still trying to show outward signs of her growth, as though the Jabberwocky and the proposal. In Alice, Nick Willing made Alice into a dynamic character while keeping her as the straight man to the more comedic or dramatic characters.

It's a very similar route that Once Upon a Time in Wonderland takes. Alice usually speaks in the same restrained manner as we're used to, keeping her facial features in line--but she knows how to sword-fight, she's courageous, and she initiates action instead of just reacting to it. The concept of her is sometimes perhaps a little too evocative of Nick Willing's approach, but we'll just hope that's because the two character interpretations come from the same era in time, right? (Even their outfits are slightly similar . . . but I digress.)

While I still don't much like the book Alice in Wonderland, it's interesting how interpretations of it work. The book is hugely symbolic: you can interpret it based on psychology and social behavior and whatever else. In adaptations, people often make the symbolic level active and alive. Instead of leaving symbolic interpretations possible for the audience, they design their story according to one interpretation. Nick Willing focused on Alice's loss of her father and her need to grow past that childhood event. The TV show also explains that Alice has a troubled relationship with her father, but she doesn't seem overly troubled by it in the present day; her focus is more on getting Cyrus back. So that makes her much more of a traditional character, driven by a simple desire and goal.

It's strange to me that this spin-off show almost entirely takes out the flat "Alice" character when Once Upon a Time itself created its own Alice through Emma. By now, Emma has experienced character development and we've learned about who she is and who she wants to be and all that. But she began much like Alice in Wonderland: she was the fairly flat, emotionally stoic character thrown into the midst of other colorful characters and situations she didn't fully understand. For me, Emma can be one of the weak points of the show because of the way her character is designed. When the Alice character is already so difficult to give to a modern audience, I sometimes wonder why this show (and other stories) decide to create an Alice character. Maybe a story just needs a straight man to contrast with more layered characters?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Copper Monkey: Milk Chocolate

"I wish there were somewhere to get a salad or something. I'm not hungry yet, but there are just dirty fast food places up ahead."

Words, more or less, spoken by me two months ago on the drive back from California. It's easy to bring lunch on the way over, but harder for the way back. So our attempt to not end up with gross (even for fast food) fast food led us to a little grocery/deli place, where we picked up food to go and a couple of extra items. Chocolate, it goes without saying, was one of those extra items. 

I'm always on the lookout for new chocolate companies, and I had never seen or heard of Copper Monkey Chocolate Factory before. The company is Australian, so whether or not they are still working on a U.S. presence or are just entirely new, I'm not sure. Their snazzy-looking website gives little information. Nor does their card box, which just lists an explanation of Rainforest Alliance certification and the company's use of fine ingredients--without exactly saying much about those ingredients, I might add. But I move ahead of myself. 

Let's return to that card box. While I'm not a fan of advertising products solely on ethical claims (although a company should certainly be able to make those claims), somehow the way that Copper Monkey uses those claims works okay. All of that text on the lower half of the box is explaining what the Rainforest Alliance does (I actually didn't know that it strives to help the people, too; I thought it was just about the environment, although people are certainly part of the environment). But it's in a light brown print that blends into the dark brown background. So you can read it if you want, but it doesn't burst out into your face. The focus is more on the "100% Australian Made." And that's interesting: there aren't a huge amount of Australian chocolate companies, especially ones that make it overseas. The Copper Monkey logo, against an image like a sign, is industrial and raw, while the blue monkey is silly and fun. Those two sides pair well. It's a funny and serious tone at the same time. 

Given that it took me so long to get to this bar and that the Best By date is already next month, I wasn't expecting it to be in top condition when I peeled away the foil wrapper. But the wrapper is a sealed one, like Lindt uses. So besides a couple of little bumps, the bar was still in good condition. No bloom, no melted sections, nothing. A couple of little bubbles in the mold give it a handmade look, and you know I like the small square size. The forty little squares are just the right size for a chocolate bite. They may look small, but the bar is thick enough that it works well.

Especially for a 32% cocoa content milk chocolate, the texture is a little hard. But this may be because it isn't the newest. Even after chewing somewhat, it still melts on the slow side for a milk chocolate; not that I mind. The mouthfeel might be ever so slightly gritty, though not to a bad point. Maybe it's the monkey on the card box, but I keep thinking of bananas when I eat this chocolate. While milk chocolate frequently tastes like vanilla and caramel, I'm getting a more sprightly edge to the caramel here that gives this bar quite a unique flavor. It must be due to the cacao origin (which Copper Monkey has simply ignored supplying); I have had chocolate with banana notes before. Whether or not I'm making up the banana thing, this chocolate does have a nice flavor. For only 32%, it isn't overly sweet and the flavor is fairly layered. 

Along with Theo's Creamy Milk Chocolate (which is 45% cacao), I would feed this to the uninitiated-into-quality-chocolate milk chocolate lover. Now hand me a spoon so that I can eat the rest of this hefty, 200 gram chocolate bar. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Approach of Forte

Click here to read about my initial thoughts on Forte.

Today was the official release date for Forte's self-titled debut album; given that their time on America's Got Talent was so recent, this is very soon to be getting music out. Keeping the timing quick is smart since it also keeps them on people's minds, but a rushed album can probably only be a rushed album.

Their first single, "Caruso," I really enjoyed. But listening to the album, I tend to respond more to the songs that they performed with on the show than the new ones. I suspect that this may be because they had the opportunity to put more time into those songs, since they had done them before. Of course, it is their voices that makes Forte a success; yet it is only their voices that are great in this album. The short timeline didn't allow for the greatest background instruments and arrangements and such--like the good accompaniments that, say, Vittorio had on his self-titled album. The way the songs are put together gives away the short timeline--but I don't overly mind that fact since I know this won't be the last we hear of Forte.

After all, the wonderful thing is that they themselves can deliver this level of quality on their first album. I said it was all about their voices, and it is: musical ability paired with clear delivery. Their unique take on "My Heart Will Go On" and their version of "Somewhere," both of which we saw on TV, are some favorites from the album. Also is "The Prayer," which features former fellow competitor Cami Bradley; the song suits her voice well, making me glad they brought her in (I just learned that she put a short album on iTunes back in May; it looks quite nice). While there was something about "Bridge Over Troubled Water" that didn't draw me in and "Something" didn't interest me, I was glad that they included "Silent Night" at the end. Christmastime doth approach.

So it's a short album, and I know it won't end up being their best. But I enjoy hearing these three singers, so I'm glad to have material available so soon; not only does it give me something to listen to, but it also seals in their success.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ender's Game Deconstructed

Click here to read my thoughts on the movie. 

In my voracious appetite for movie books, I quickly acquired the companion book for Ender's Game after seeing the movie. Going through Jed Alger's Ender's Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure reminded me of my early days delving into movie companions. This was back before I was willing or able to go see a movie more than once in theaters, so sifting through the companion book was a way of reliving the movie experience. 

While average movie companions are slim, paperback beings, this volume is hefty and hardcover. That's all good and well, but it does come with a higher price tag. It's hard, though, to complain when you hold this book in your hands. The design of it is almost seamless. There are movie stills, behind the scenes pictures, and a large amount of concept art; the images are all arranged well with the text so that you can read page by page without having to flip back and forth. The text is also arranged in small enough sections that you can move easily through it. As the book advertises, it has two little fold-out posters, an I.D. badge, and stickers with the team/army logos. Although all that made me feel like I was twelve years old (who ever said this was a children's book or movie?), I was tempted to peel off those stickers--but don't worry, I kept them safely unused for preservation purposes.

The content of this book deals primarily with the themes, settings, imagery, and overall look of the film. This includes things like the sets, the uniforms, the battle rooms, and various props. Unlike some companions, it isn't heavy on what it was like to be on set; it's more about the craftsmanship, whether physical or digital, involved and the philosophy behind this work. In describing everyone's interpretations of things in the book, there ends up being quite a bit of talk about plot. It all starts to get a little too plot heavy (most people reading this companion will have already watched the movie and read the book it's based on). However, Alger doesn't simply retell the plot; he is providing interpretations of it. And since this is a book for which you can form many interpretations, this plot-heavy approach does make a certain sense. I mean, I've come to love this story enough that I don't mind reading more about it. But for me, the real value in this book is in the images it provides (particularly the concept art and the images of sets, things being built, or mechanisms that were used) and the quotes from the cast and crew (these are all woven straight into the text instead of being isolated). This book was well worth reliving the movie and learning more about how this story was brought to a new medium, the screen. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pacifica: Mexican Cocoa Perfume

Apologies for the minor delay and greetings to the new readers (seriously, there are a lot of you). I had planned to finally get to a chocolate bar that has been patiently waiting for me on its shelf, but it will have to wait until next time. For now, let's return to Pacifica's Mexican Cocoa Perfume.

You will recall that I put this perfume in my July Favorites; it has, then, taken me over three months to finally go over it in more detail. The problem, and my overall opinion of this perfume, is that I like the idea of a cocoa perfume more than I like the delivery. 

Pacifica Perfume is a U.S. company, and this product is in fact made in the U.S. That alone is probably reason enough for the little, non-chain shop I bought it in to stock Pacifica. However, I could do with some improvements on it all. The box is alright: rich brown and red form indie, gypsy shapes to give an offbeat, hip vibe. But the bottle is plain. Not only is its shape basic, but the top piece (what would you call that?) is boring. It sounds more interesting if you say it has an industrial look, like an exposed lightbulb. But, honestly, I'm not overly thrilled about how this bottle looks next to my others. The lettering and the three brown flowers just don't add enough to it for my tastes.

But if the bottle were my only complaint, that would be okay. I'm also not sure what to think of the scent. This perfume has a plentiful spray, so the fragrance comes on with strength. And that's why I don't think I've ever actually sprayed it on myself. The perfume is labeled as Mexican Cocoa; I bought it because I have to investigate everything chocolate related. But the label only talks about cinnamon and clove. These are both elements of Mexican-style cocoa, especially the cinnamon--but what are they without the chocolate? When I spray this perfume, I smell the cloves foremost and then the cinnamon; but there is not really anything to remind me of chocolate. Granted, it must be difficult to get a chocolate scent that doesn't smell fabricated, cheap, and artificial. But if you can't present Mexican Cocoa as a whole, why do it halfway?

I can't wear this perfume. It smells alright, so I use it sometimes as an air freshener; it's like a candle in that way, I suppose. But given that I don't wear it and don't love the way it looks on my perfume dish (an old silver tray), it just wasn't what I was expecting or wanting.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ender Succeeds, in Multiple Ways

I went to see Ender's Game today, and it was one of those movies that did make me feel the same way as I did when reading the book. I was absorbed while watching, and I couldn't get the ending out of my mind all day. Just like with the book. (Click here to read my thoughts on the book after reading it for the first time this summer.)

Now, I didn't even know there was a controversy going on; I just went to watch a movie. So that's all I'm addressing here. You know, I find myself feeling similar to how I did after watching The Host earlier this year (click for Parts 1 and 2 of my thoughts on that movie). It's gladness for enjoying the adaptation as a whole, but also contentment with my reaction to what is in the story.

Ender's Game, to me, is heartbreaking. It's the story of someone who so desperately wants peace but so easily can commit violence. I suppose, on different symbolic levels, we can all be that way: we want to do right, but there is just so much going on in the world to react to. War and conflict, representing the exterior and the interior, will always exist.

As soon as I read the book, I knew Asa Butterfield as the perfect casting choice for Ender. He has that ability to transmit both innocence and power through his face--even just through his eyes. One of the things that makes this book so good is the way that it shows Ender's thoughts; with a movie, you can't show thoughts in the same way. But with a tad of voiceover and close-ups of Ender's very expressive-yet-also-unwavering eyes, we could still follow along and understand what he was feeling at different points. Granted, I know that not everyone read the book; I went to see the movie with someone who hadn't. I think there must be more gaps or less emotional weight if the movie is your first introduction to the story. But I kind of like the idea of the book and movie coming as a pair: sometimes it was hard to visualize things in the book, so the movie helped with that. And if it's hard to understand the emotional or symbolic weight of everything in the movie, the book helps with that.

A word on those visuals. They looked great, and it wouldn't really have been worth it to make this movie if the studio hadn't invested enough to make everything look right. If I had no familiarity with the story, maybe I would have thought it was just about effects. But I'm not sure. The effects, whether in the battle simulations or the mind game, are all about what is going on with this one character.

One of the odd points is one that we all knew was coming. The book presents us with Ender at six years old, allowing him to grow up across the pages. That's hard to do in a movie without getting bogged down by all those years or having an unconvincing combination of actors playing one character. So while I definitely missed seeing Ender so young in the beginning and even wished we could have seen him a little older at the end, I think they did the best they could with making the smaller timeframe work. And, as I said, Asa Butterfield was perfect in the role. If I'm repeating myself, it's because Ender is the most important thing about this story: if he's right, then everything else sort of follows along. Oh, Ender, you still make me want to cry--and get up and live my life with awareness and intention.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Captain Hilly Sparrow Is Back

Pirates are always in season. While The Hillywood Show, lately, has been keeping to parodies of more recent movies, this month they have gone back to their roots with a Pirates of the Caribbean Parody. It was several years ago now, before the viral Twilight and Harry Potter and Lady Gaga videos, that Hillywood was still doing Jack Sparrow-centered episodes. For someone who has been a fan for a few years, it's exciting to see the return of Hilly as Jack. 

As you can see, this video is in the music video style they are now known for. But that's not the only thing that is different from the old episodes: the sets, the makeup, Hilly's imitation of Johnny Depp's facial expressions, and the production value as a whole has all grown. In these five years, Hilly and Hannah may have set Jack aside, but they've still been busy making new content and improving their methods. It shows; this video is sleek. I think they have also been learning how to give a video good rewatchability. That was one of the things I said was good about their Breaking Dawn Parody (for Part 1), and that video how has over 21 million views. At first, I admit, I did think that this Pirates video could use a little more plot; plot, however, is one of the things that can drag a YouTube video down and make it less rewatchable. And a simple plot is fitting to POTC and to Jack Sparrow himself. The "Jack is Back" thing is, really, enough.

Oh, yes, and you must watch the Behind the Scenes, as well. That's thirty-eight minutes of Hillywood goodness. See the ship they filmed on, the mansion they used for some of the indoor scenes, and just how they got that amazing Kraken. It's like we've finally connected the dots between the original episodes and the later music video style parodies. The Hillywood Show is great. 

Remember: #JackisBack