Monthly Archives: May 2010

First Week Jitters

I’ve started my first week at the McKinney Courier-Gazette. I’ll make sure to post links for those stories somewhere on the site. I’ll probably just dedicate a tab to my clips if I ever take the time out to. The idea of settling in at a new paper was terrifying at first. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still thawing at this new office, but it’s a slow process. Either way, this should be an exciting¬†opportunity¬†and a chance to really expand on the entertainment writing, among other things, that I want to grow old doing.

Before going in, I made sure to cut my hair down. Take note, that Will does know how to clean up. ūüėČ

Fresh out of the gate, on my first day, I made sure to bring on the sweater vest to my final interview at the Plano office of Star news.

I’m amped to be doing something new. Let’s see how things go, and I’ll keep you all updated with links.

– Will, THG

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A Home Grown Recipe Brought from Overseas.

By William Johnson

After a only a month of operation, Paciugo Gelato & Caffe, in McKinney’s Historic Downtown, is bustling with eager patrons. This¬†gelateria delivers¬†a regional Italian treat to north Texas customers.

As I soon discovered, There is an obvious difference between American¬†ice cream and Italian¬†gelato. Paciugo advertises that it’s frozen foods contain 70% less fat than traditonal ice creams, a fact well hidden by it’s luxurious taste. This hand whipped treat is prepared fresh, and onsite for daily consumption. From chocolate and fruity, to alcohol and dairy, Paciugo has a flavor for everyone.

The atmosphere in Paciugo is calm, even when full of customers. The hardwood floors and intricately stylized ceiling designs set free into the air the European gelateria vibe the store aims so accurately for. The walls are decorated in a simple theme, containing the occasional contemporary piece of artwork or cupboard of the stores many ingredients. The customer service is unusually patient while may patrons experience gelato for the first time, answering the many questions that come their way.

Eating gelato is an experience that the people behind the counter at Paciugo whip together daily for customers. With three different sizes to choose from, patrons can mix up to five flavors together in a cup or cone . The superior taste in gelato is often attributed to the proportion of whole milk to creme. While standard ice cream contains a legal minimum of 10% milk fat, gelato has a more proportionate amount of whole milk to creme, giving it a richer taste. Also, gelato is whipped at a slow pace that ice cream, leaving less opportunity for air to be mixed it, and making it a denser dessert.

For those of you looking to avoid fats entirely, the water based sorbet comes in various fruit flavors with zero fat content. Made from fresh fruit, sugar and water, this Pacuigo advertises that it’s sorbet fits the standards for a healthy food. I bought a mixture of lime and the store’s signature Tutti Fruitti flavor, a daily changing ¬†mix of four seasonal fruits.

Another alternative for the health¬†conscious are the store’s non sugar recipes. These 100 calorie desserts blend healthy lifestyles with Paciugo’s trademark taste.

After watching a fellow satisfied customer, I plan to go back for a cup of the store’s Affogato. This inspired blend is a mix of coffee and milk based gelato. In a¬†similar fashion, the store’s Affogato al Cioccolato brings together Italian hot cocoa with intensely flavored gelato.

Overall, this store delivers a rich indulgence for a price that has proven to be worth it by the customers that come back to it ever so frequently. And with options for those with their health in mind, a market commonly overrun with bland boxed meals, Paciugo has a selection for everyone that walks through it’s doors.

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First Impressions: Robin Hood.

By William Johnson

Director Ridley Scott re-invents the classic with his signature hack and slash cinematography.

Set in the late 12th century, Universal Pictures Robin Hood re-imagines the humble beginnings of the hero. Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) teams up with director Ridley Scott( Gladiator, American Gangster) for the fifth time in this remake of the classic ballad. Also along for the ride are Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings), Oscar Isaac (Body of Lies) and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes).

Enter Robin Longstride, an infantry archer serving under Richard the Lionheart, on the way home from the Third Crusade. This film places Robin in the middle of a political storm that involves the ascension of Richard’s brother, Prince John to the throne after the former’s death and the impending invasion of the Spanish.

By now Scott is used to directing hack and slash battle scenes, making his brutish portrayal of the man in tights unsurprising. For those of you familiar with earlier incarnations of Robin of the Hood, this version may seem grossly different. There are no men in tights, nor hats with feathers in this tale.This movie excels in telling to story of a battle torn warrior, attempting to live peacefully after war, but ultimately fails in rendering the traditional tale of Robin Hood.Within the first ten minutes, the film bears a strong resemblance to Scott’s other epic tale,¬†Gladiator. This may attract some, while distracting others.

While the battle scenes are intense and lively, any attempts at comedy fell flat in the audiences faces. With a botched delivery on nearly every attempt at humor made, all this film had left was the action.

Blanchett and Crowe feel awkward together for the first half of the flick, lacking any sort of connection until the second half, where they really hit their stride. These two academy award winners work almost effortlessly together, in a sharp contrast to the first half of the movie.

The supporting cast featured strong performances, as well. Kevin Durand (Legion) assumed the role of the unsuitably named Little John, the resident strong man.In keeping the tradition of the classic duel between Robin and John, the producers enabled the two actors to really highlight the fierce camaraderie between the two men. Mark Addy (Still Standing) performs a more traditional Friar Tuck, showing genuine delight in his characters love of ale and pleasant demeanor. Another strong performance is that of Oscar Isaac. His version of the power hungry and manipulative King John mixes malice and jealously with occasional comic relief in few moments.

This film isn’t the original Robin Hood, that’s understood. The director embraces this and moves forward with this original story. This movie may be different, but it does an excellent job at following through with it’s deviations from the classic legends. The children of the wood are explained, as well the formation of the merry men. This movie suffers only because it is unrecognizable to ¬†it’s audience. For those looking for a merry troupe of traveling archers, you’re out of luck. But in an industry where Tony Stark’s use of the iron man suit can be rewritten to fit the hostile political climate of the Middle East, Robin Hood is an acceptable retelling.

While the film leaves open the possibility of sequels to come, in¬†similar¬†fashion to¬†Sherlock Holmes, I don’t think we’ll be revisiting Nottingham anytime soon.

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