Saturday, October 31, 2009
A friend of mine posted a link to People Of Walmart the other day, and I like a fool, clicked that link.
Yes, I clicked it.
And I spent an hour or more at that site laughing my ass off.
I should be about 20 lbs lighter for that, but that's another rant all together.
But I dare you to click that link.
Once you've been there for awhile, you'll start to wonder when they took those photos at your Walmart! I don't know about you, but every time I go into that store, I ponder how some people can continue breathing from their own fashion stupidity.
If you can't come up with a decent outfit that covers all your parts, you really aren't fit for society. (matching is optional but will get you bonus points with me)
So go on...CLICK AWAY!!
Friday, October 30, 2009
I remember when you could go to the Hallmark website and find scads of wonderful FREE ecards.
I don't send many cards anymore, its too costly. Sure you can go to the dollar store and get cards 2 for a buck, but they aren't quite what you always want to say to someone.
Plus with ecards you don't have to feel like a dork when you send the card to the person on their birthday. Its going to get to its destination on time!!!
I was really pissed when I went to the site today to get a spiffy ecard for a friend only to find the selection of "free" ecards diminished and a deal for all the ecards you can send in a year for $9.99.
I always loved Hallmark's collection of freebies. Hoops and Yoyo made their rounds to all my friends. In fact, when I spend money on greeting cards, Hallmark usually gets my money. I buy a few Christmas ornaments there too when I can.
To say that I'm disappointed now, is an understatement. I understand that in this economic climate you have to find ways of making money, but surely they didn't have to totally ruin the little freebies.
BOO you suck Hallmark!
So basically I've got a sucky selection or pay $9.99 to get the good ones. I don't send enough ecards in a year to warrant spending that kind of money for a service.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
...okay, so I've been slacking off. As a peace offering, here is the most awesome video I've discovered this week. I can honestly say it's the best cover of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme played by a cello that I've ever heard.
See you next Tubesday!
Have any of you seen the trailer for Nine?
No not the film by Tim Burton that strangely seemed to pass by Pittsburgh, but another movie musical by Rob Marshall with a cast that is just absolutely stunning.
I know nothing about the musical, because that was in the period of time in my life when I wasn't caring about such things but the cinematography in the trailer is amazing.
Of course that really means nothing. I thought the same of Phantom Of The Opera when I saw the trailer and when I got around to the movie I just wept because it was such a blatant travesty of what the musical was, not to mention the book.
So perhaps that's a good thing, because I can go see the movie and enjoy it without haven't any idea of how good or bad its been done.
Oh and one last note..why won't Julie/Julia come to the Maxi Saver!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Can I just make a brief shout out to Castle's shout out to Firefly from the other night? Castle was trying on costumes for his upcoming Halloween party, and comes into the room all decked out as Mal, Fillion's character from Firefly, which was just a fabulous show.
This was their dialogue:
Daughter: What are you supposed to be?
Castle: Space Cowboy!
Daughter: First, there are no cows in space, and second, didn't you wear that like 5 years ago?
Daughter: So, shouldn't you move on?
Castle: I like it!
I thought it was just a cute little bit of self-referential dialogue. Also, the line about how whoever killed the vampire must have been a Lycan due to their centuries old feud made me giggle. This show is starting to grow on me, even if only because Fillion can do no wrong.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I'm sorry guys but I haven't drunk the Glee Kool-aid. I tried but it gives me indigestion.
I'm a fan of the sitcom. Good sitcoms. Sitcoms that aren't about a 40 year old skinny bitch trying to get laid. Oops was I talking about Cougar Town? I think I was.
No my favorite show next to Big Bang Theory is the new comedy starring Patricia Heaton, The Middle.
Why do I like it? It feels real while still being funny, kinda like Roseanne was for the longest time. These people could be your crazy ass neighbors. They are dysfunctional to say the least. Perhaps saying they were fucked up would be the best description. After all, the youngest child's best friend is his backpack and he whisper repeats the ends of his sentences.
Yup. They are weird.
That's why I like them. They make my rather screwed up family look, dare I say it, NORMAL!
Another plus is that they don't ugly up, or prettify the characters. The kids look like normal kids. Sue Heck has braces, Axl (yes he was named after the lead singer in GNR) doesn't like to get dressed and Brick, well, I already told you about Brick.
Its so nice to see a family sitcom that isn't totally ridiculous and unrealistic or about a bunch of horny friends trying to get laid. I hope this show lasts for awhile. Its pretty damn funny.
Watch clips and get more info about the show here.
Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. I can wear ridiculous costumes that get me the Stink Eye most days, like silly hats and boy drag. It's also the time of year for some of my favorite things! Horror movies, pumpkin spice, haunted houses, October beers, candy galore, popcorn balls... the list goes on forever.
But one thing gets under my skin, that tired old fembot rant: sexy Halloween costumes. I have no problem with the costumes themselves. If you want to doll it up for Halloween, then good for you! My friends love getting sexy Halloween costumes, and their pictures look pretty adorable.
My problem is that sexy costumes seem to be the only option for women when you go into costume shops. My costume idea was DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba, but the costume was not made to fit a lady's body, especially since the only sizes any of the shops seemed to carry was Large or XL. I looked into DIY-ing it, but the cost was outside of my budget. Thankfully, I found another costume at Goodwill that didn't bust my budget, but I'm still a little bummed about the experience.
While at the costume shop, I looked for alternate ideas in the ladies section. Hmmm, I could be a sexy bee, a sexy cop, a sexy border patrol officer (no shit), Ana Rexia (double no shit), or a plethora of other options that didn't work so well for a chilly night of Halloween debachery. Dude, all I want is a costume that isn't going to make me freeze and covers more than my Rocky Horror Picture Show costumes. (and jeez, half of my Rocky costumes are less revealing than some of the costumes I saw.) So for the past 20-odd Halloweens, I've DIY-ed it or dressed like a guy.
I'm not out to be the Puritan Police and legislate Halloween. If you want to be a sexy bee girl, then go for it! I'm just curious where the options are for people who want to be a not-so-sexy bee girl.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I don't know if there's anything else that's a day to day activity that I hate more than cleaning. I hate it with a passion. Yet for some reason on Sunday nights I always find myself knee deep in some project that takes me way into the early morning hours to finish.
I think its because deep down I must not ever get a good nights sleep and in starting a cleaning project at about 6 p.m. I'm guaranteed not to have one.
That's why I'm sitting here at ten minutes to midnight, because I can't find my damn bed, because there's a huge pile of clothes on it.
At least they are mine.
I spent the last 3 hours with mom, going through her clothes and I have 7 bags of clothes for Goodwill. SEVEN!!!
At this point I could sleep on the floor.
I just want to sleep!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
This year I got roped into reading two of those "OMG you've got to read these books or your life won't be complete," books.
Though both have been good in their respective ways, for me they both were a huge disappointment.
The first book foisted on me by just about everyone was William Young's The Shack. This is actually my favorite of the two books I've read.
I like that the author reminds us in a very in your face way, that God made man and woman in his image and well that image can be like anyone you'd see on the street. But there's more to the story than some troubled soul who lost his child communing in a shack with God, who just happened to send him a note to come there.
Uh yeah. If God sends me any notes, the first place I'd go probably wouldn't be a shack, but that's beside the point. My biggest gripe with this book is the cheap cliche ending that really spoiled the whole thing for me. I don't know what I was expecting but from the rave reviews I did expect an ending that would have stood up with the rest of the story. Sadly it didn't.
Next up is The Lovely Bones, which came to me highly recommended after I read Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. I expected a story of a similar nature, and it kind of is, but truth be told its a pretty depressing tale that really has made me wish I hadn't picked it up.
I have no problem with stories about crime or the afterlife, but this book was really gruesome at the beginning and as Susie starts seeing the way things played out of earth it just gets more and more depressing. I have a little over a hundred pages left in this book, but as it stands now I wish I hadn't picked up the book at all. I don't like books that are such downers. I hope something changes in the next 100 pages to make me rethink my opinion on this one, because of the two books, I was most excited to read this one. Its not even that its a hard read, because I've been whizzing through it. Its just too damn depressing and I don't need that.
Have you ever had a book recommended to you that you wished you hadn't read?
Friday, October 23, 2009
Movie review: The Informant!
The Informant! is a difficult movie - that's the best way to describe it. It's a little difficult to watch and wrap your head around. Therefore, it's difficult to review and strike an appropriate tone. It would be easy to sound like I hated it or loved it, neither of which is the case.
The Informant follows Mark Whitacre, a hilariously square and self-confident businessman, as he helps the FBI take down corn syrup manufacturer ADM, the very company that helps run. What ADM, the FBI, and the media don't realize along the ride is that Mark isn't quite who he appears to be... and isn't quite all there. By the end of the movie, to quote Alan Jackson, it's hard to know who's cheatin' who.
There are lots of standout performances in the movie. It made me happy to see Scott Bakula acting again, and Joel McCale pulls off a very subtle performance that's a good distance from his public persona. No doubt, though, that Matt Damon steals the show, turning Mark Whitacre in to an overcompensating spy wannabe. His inner monologues propel the movie, giving it some of its most hilarious moments and making some of the more boring moments bearable (the noise of business meetings fade out as Mark has deep thoughts about polar bears).
That, though, is where the flaws of the movie lie. The movie is about an informant in an investigation on price fixing in the corn syrup industry. That's really freaking hard to make sexy or witty. The screenwriters and Soderbergh do their damnedest and make it an enjoyable movie, but they aren't voodoo lords. There ARE going to be boring parts no matter who directs or writes it. The trailer definitely did a disservice to the film, making it look like a madcap comedy by putting the movie's few kooky moments all in one trailer.
So getting this out of the way, there will be dry spots, but the movie is still enjoyable. Being a filmmaking nerd, my favorite part was the style of the film, especially the coloration that made it look so dismal and early 90s. It's not something I'd rewatch, but I had a good experience the first time around.
Final verdict: 7/10 (I promise, I'm not stuck on this rating!)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I really had no interest in seeing this movie when it first came out. Despite the fact that everyone seemed to love, love, love it, I was skeptical.
For starters, I loathed the hand drawn, kitschy poster. So much that I refused to use it to illustrate this post. It was totally aimed at the hipsters, yelling "I'm quirky and adorable!" and I generally feel that anything that tries that hard to let you know it's quirky really isn't. The declaration of a script by Dave Eggers turned me off too. I generally like the man's writing, but he can be way too emo, and being a screenwriting aficionado, it's rare a screenwriter gets prominent billing like that, unless of course you're pandering to a specific audience. Also, being a quirky film about a pregnant girl, it obviously reminded me a lot of "Juno," which, I have to be honest, I didn't really love.
But it came up in a Netflix suggestion, and everyone did have good things to say, and even though I don't watch "The Office," John Krasinski fascinates me, so I figured what the hell. I'm glad I did. Much like "Adventureland," the shitty marketing overshadowed a really great film.
Burt and Verona are in their early 30s and six months pregnant. They are perfectly lovely and sane. No one else in this movie is, but that's most of the fun. Burt's parents drop the bomb that they're moving to Belgium and won't be around to help out with the baby, and as they are the only reason Burt and Verona live where they are, the two go on a road trip to find a new place to live. A change of scenery, perhaps with friends nearby. They go to Phoenix: Allison Janney is perfection as always. They go to Wisconsin: Maggie Gyllenhaal is a psychopath, and I wonder how much of a stretch from her actual self. They go to Montreal, my favorite city, and meet the Benetton family, which is so very Montreal.
The journey they take is less of one to decide on a place to live as it is to figure out what sort of family they want to become. They meet parents who are too close to their kids, and parents who aren't close enough. It's a journey of self-discovery, but one they take together, which is really sweet.
Burt and Verona are darling. They're not unhappy but they don't know if they should be something more than they are. At one point, Verona asks Burt, "Are we losers? I feel like we're losers." I can relate to that. Their relationship is quite realistic, even though devoid of conflict.
No, the movie isn't perfect. It is whimsical and sometimes overly twee. The supporting characters are very one dimensional, but it works to support the main characters' journey and that's the most important point.
Despite my initial skepticism, I loved this movie. Love, love, love. It's a beautiful little snapshot of two people who are lost, but still have each other.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Yeah, it came out months ago. I know. But it's still a great movie.
Marc Webb's directorial debut, at least in film. Music video junkies know Marc already, mainly in rock, & if you knew him before you probably want to see this movie. You probably want to see this movie, too, if you like Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, good music, & cute indie romances.
The story doesn't really move in chronological order, which works really well. It tells you where you are in time, & therefore Tom & Summer's relationship. And this way, we see how things are not only from Tom's point of view, which is crucial, but also how things progressed - what was good, what was bad, what went right, & what went wrong. We see snippets of Tom & Summer together, which is also crucial. And right from the start, we know where each character stands. It becomes more obvious as the movie progresses, but Tom & Summer have vastly different perceptions of their relationship, to the point that Tom deludes himself into thinking things are perfect when, really, they're not. This brings up the idea of the unreliable narrator, which I'd heard another review mention, & it's true. Mainly, we get Tom's point of view, & Tom's too obsessed with Summer to realize the truth - Summer is a total bitch. This is joked about early on, but it's true. And she cites Ringo as their favorite Beatle, & "Octopus's Garden" as the best Beatles song. Not that I hate Ringo or that song, but that's a sign of trouble.
That's the kicker - Summer is not a likable character. My cousin sat next to me when we saw it & said out loud, more than once, "Summer is a bitch." Sure, she starts off well enough, but as you see more of her, you see how difficult she really is & wonder why Tom puts up with all of it. It's also interesting because Tom & Summer kind of have this gender role-reversal going on. Tom believes strongly in love, Summer doesn't want to be tied down. I love a film that explores something that's not exactly typical of a gender.
But really, aside from Summer, there's not much to dislike about this movie.
The whole movie is brilliantly, subtly funny. It's mainly in the little things, like Tom smashing plates & the whole Sid & Nancy exchange at the very beginning that was in the trailers. The karaoke scenes are all gems. And my favorite scene of the entire movie is Tom's big "You Make My Dreams Come True" sequence after a night with Summer.
Plus, the acting is great, even from the supporting players like Tom's little sister & his friends & co-workers. Joseph-Gordon Levitt is fantastic. Ladies & boys who like boys will fall in love with him. He's adorable, he's in love, he's likable, & you want him to be happy. He acts it wonderfully. Plus, we get to see him sing & dance! Zooey Deschanel was good, too, especially considering that often, she seems to be hit-and-miss. Don't get me wrong, I think she's adorable, & that's why I continuously forgive her lackluster acting - see The Happening & SciFi's mini-series Tin Man, because both show some of Zooey's worst moments.
The soundtrack is brilliant. Regina Spektor highlights, beautifully, the opening credits. Tom & Summer bond over The Smiths. "She's Like the Wind" makes a very brief appearance, & I already mentioned "You Make My Dreams Come True," which gets a band & dance sequence. Even the instrumental music is really pretty.
All in all, fun, cute, & witty. Definitely worth seeing.
Movie Review: Paranormal Activity
It's hard to tell whether this movie could ever live up to all the hype it's received. Almighty Savior of the horror genre? Not so much. Good, old-fashioned creepy movie? You betcha!
A lot of comparisons have been made between this and 1999's Blair Witch Project, both for the way they were shot and the blitz of internet promotion. Sidebar here, I'm not buying so much into the "You demanded it a million times, and YOU brought it to the theaters - YAY!" marketing. Tre convenient that the American public just happened to reach the million mark on a Thursday, the day before new released hit theaters, and two weeks before Halloween. Still, that marketing bs aside, I'm glad it's gotten a mainstream theatrical release.
Paranormal Activity tells the story of a young couple - Micah, straight out of college daytrader d-bag, and Katie, a student sensitive to the paranormal - mildly taunted each night by....something. They're not quite sure what, so they bring in a psychic, who promptly says, "Whoa, out of my territory, good luck kthxbai." Micah decides to play junior detective with a night vision cam and some other stupidly brilliant devices, which of course makes matters worse.
Any more plot and I get into spoiler territory, but I will tell you this. Watching the movie in a theater, you'll think "Wow, this isn't that scary and is kind of cheesy sometimes." Hours later, when you're lying in bed trying to sleep, it won't seem that ridiculous. Not that, uh, I say that from personal experience or anything. Nope. Ovaries of brass, this lady.
What sets this one apart from the Blair Witch Project is the character development. All we knew about those three kids in the woods was that they enjoyed filmmaking, marshmallows, and the f-bomb. Paranormal Activity goes beyond that, actually giving the characters back stories and distinct personalities.
Micah is the sort of character you love to hate. From his constant dumb-ass moves that prompt the plot along to his machismo statements, you find yourself wishing that whatever is plaguing this couple would just push the dude into some swirling abyss and spare us one more refrain of "I'm getting some really cool shit on the camera, babe!"
The thing I liked best about the movie was the style. It just wouldn't have worked as a big budget CGI guts-o-rama horror flick. The mundane looking handycam grain sets up the scares when even the smallest thing happens. Also, for something so low budget, they reach that tender territory in special effects - between Plan 9 from Outer Space and Jerry Bruckheimer - know as "believable," mostly because they're minimal in scope and sparse. No visable wires and no exploding national monuments. So when it came time for [POSSIBLE SPOILER] the few wire-fu scenes [END POSSIBLE SPOILER], I found it to be pretty convincing.
In the end, I don't think Paranormal Activity's revolutionary. Might cause a few horror producers to rethink their gore budget, will probably inspire a few weak sauce knock-offs *coughthefourthkindcough* , but I don't see The End of Over Produced Horror. Still, if you're a horror fan or simply someone looking for a good Halloween movie, put this on your short list ASAP.
Final verdict: 7/10
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
There are several places that I frequent on a daily basis.
1. I Can Has Cheezburger: Who can resist those sweet and silly LOLCats or for that matter I Has A Hot Dog. I can't begin to tell you how much happiness these websites have brought to me. Heck there's even a Celebrity LOL site. This is my new favorite pic
2. Eharlequin.com: Yes, my friends, that is the Harlequin website. But its more than just a place to buy cheesy and sometimes very smutty romance novels. Its also a place to blog and connect with authors and review books. I visit the site many times a day.
3. Hungry Girl: I have a love and hate relationship with this lady. I love some of the tips and hints she gives for healthy eating but I flipping hate everything revolving around Splenda, Egg Beaters and Boca Burgers. I like all in moderation but I'd love to see her healthify something without using one or all three of those ingredients.
4. Facebook: What can I say, I'm a game junkie on that website. I openly admit it. I enjoy building restaurants, farms and amusement parks on my little space on the web. Its an addiction, I tell you.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I think there's a problem when you have a bunch of friends that like the same artist and then you really like that artist and it kind of dominates your mind and becomes an obsession.
I have one of those. His name is Mika and its disturbing to me.
I really thought I'd given up celebrity crushes for good awhile back and to make matters worse, I usually pick older celebrities to crush on.
Suddenly there's Mika! And he's a wee bitty baby of what...26!
I mean just watch the beautifulness of him on Letterman last week.
And all this talk and the fact that The Boy Who Knew Too Much hasn't left my car CD player in over a month has managed to produce strange dreams. Last night I was dreaming that Mika and Sliimy were at Monroeville Mall!
Strangest dream ever!
And I didn't even take any Nyquil!
Somehow I ended up shopping with Mika and looking for a place to eat! He looks like he's never eaten a day in his life!
One thing I know, I'm glad that there's a snowballs chance in hell of me ever meeting this boy, because I know I'd make an ass of myself when I came face to face with these eyes.
Too flipping beautiful.
I'm going to bed now so I can dream some more...and ponder if it would be possible to clone him. A Mika for anyone that wants one!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I get a lot of newsletters for recipes in my email and today there was a recipe that really intrigued me. Its not that its anything hard or really unique, but it just looked so good.
Sassy Fiesta Spaghetti!
1 package (16 oz) spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef (For those vegetarians out there, I bet those Boca or Morningstar Crumbles would work too)
1/4 cup sugar
1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso® taco seasoning mix
1 can (28 oz) Muir Glen® organic crushed tomatoes with basil, undrained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (11 oz) Green Giant® Mexicorn® whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained
1 jar (4.5 oz) Green Giant® sliced mushrooms, drained
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired
1. Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package; cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion and bell pepper in oil 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove from skillet. Add beef to same skillet. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain.
3. Add onion and bell pepper to beef; mix well. Stir in sugar, taco seasoning mix, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn and mushrooms. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over spaghetti. Sprinkle with cheese.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): No change.
So should I be brave and inflict this on my family?
Friday, October 16, 2009
I always hate it when I see people make really close comparisons to artists I like. However, in this age of music that spawns so many clone bands, its hard not to see these.
For me the lastest annoying sound alike is the Mika and Sliimy.
We all know I adore Mika. I love him from the top of his curly head down to the tips of his Converse All Stars! But what about Sliimy. Of that I'm not too sure. At first glance he seems like a bad wannabe. He has a similar disheveled mop of curly hair. His fashion sense if so far over the top that it just jumped the Eiffel Tower from his native France. His music is distinctly pop.
Having listened to Mika's two releases and Sliimy's Paint My Face I really can't see the why people are comparing the two, other than they both are very very poppy.
Mika, in my opinion, which is both personal and arrogant, is the better artist. He's got more pizazz and personality and his music just gives me more fun happy vibes. Mika has a more distinctive voice too. That cross between Freddie Mercury, Andy Bell with a touch of the falsetto of Jimmy Somerville makes him stand out.
Regardless of what critics may say about The Boy Who Knew Too Much, all the tracks are very listenable and are the kind that you sing along to at the top of your lungs and bounce around the bedroom too, or your office. You can't help but feel good when you listen to him.
Then there is Sliimy. I'm kinda put off by his name to start with. Then there's the fact that he looks like Prince if he was dressed by a few gay guys playing wardrobe practical jokes. But all looks aside, its his girlish sounding voice that puts him a couple rungs down from Mika. The first time I heard him, I wasn't really sure he was even a "he."
Now before you think I'm slamming Sliimy, I'm not. His album is quite good, but he doesn't sound like Mika. He just does cheesy pop music and has a similar style, that in my book shouldn't put him in a "sounds like" category. I find Sliimy's songs to be a bit more trite, especially when he's singing about ebay auctions.
I do love his single Wake Up, which is very infectious, though the way he sings "birthday" makes me want to run for the hills. He also does a creepy cover of Britney's Womanizer that should be banished from the world.
If you haven't checked out either artist I suggest you do so, NOW! I don't think any fan of pop music would be disappointed in either.
Check out Sliimy's website here and Mika's website here
That said I'm going to watch the video for We Are Golden again, cos I love Mika dancing around in white boxer shorts.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or applesauce)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups apples - peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup broken walnuts (optional)
- In bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, place oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and apples. Stir into flour mixture. Add walnuts and mix. Divided mixture between two greased 8-in. x 4-in. bread pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bread test done. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack before removing from pan.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I love cookbooks and cooking magazines, which is funny as I'm not much of a cook. I do it when I absolutely have to and not a minute sooner.
My mom has a subscription to the Food Network magazine which I read and laugh at.
The food is flipping pretentious and not very easy to make or find ingredients for. If I'm making something, I want to be able to assemble the ingredients quickly and if I need to buy them, I want to be able to find them at the store without going on a treasure hunt.
One of the recipes I fell in love with in the Thanksgiving issue was the Meyer Lemon-Cranberry Bundt Cake. (See the picture)
Here's the recipe, its a heart attack waiting to happen.
For the Cake:
* 3 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature, plus more for the pan
* 3 cups cake flour, sifted, plus more for the pan
* 1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed if frozen
* 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 6 tablespoons whole milk
* 4 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Syrup and Glaze:
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
* 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Prepare the cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter and flour a 10-cup fluted Bundt pan.
Cook the cranberries with 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a pot over medium-high heat until juicy and the mixture reduces to 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Whisk the milk, whole eggs and yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl; set aside.
Whisk the 3 cups flour, the remaining 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, the lemon zest, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the 3 1/4 sticks butter and beat with a mixer on low speed until moistened. Add half of the milk mixture, increase the speed to medium and beat 1 minute. Add the remaining milk mixture in two batches, beating between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again, about 30 seconds.
Transfer two-thirds of the batter to the pan. Spoon the cranberry mixture in a ring around the middle of the batter (do not let it touch the pan). Top with the remaining batter and smooth evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the syrup: Dissolve the 1/4 cup granulated sugar in 1/2 cup lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat. Remove the cake from the oven, poke the surface all over with a skewer and pour the syrup on top. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a parchment-lined rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit overnight.
When ready to serve, whisk the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth. Spoon over the cake.
Where's the semi-homemade lady when you need her? Surely this could be done with a cake mix. Me I'm in it more for the cranberries then the meyer lemons which cannot be found in my area.
The thing that gets me about this recipe is that its labeled "easy" and maybe it is...if you have all the ingredients.
Oh I don't recommend getting your cholesterol checked after having a piece of this..or for that matter stepping on the scale! Personally, this cranberry cake recipe looks less threatening.
Any of you ladies know of any good recipes for cranberry baked goods?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So shoe designer Christian Louboutin is the first fashion outlaw in a few months that has decide to use Barbie as an inspiration and give her a makeover. No news there, right? Except that Louboutin thinks that Barbie has fat ankles. Barbie, whom in real life would have no space for internal organs, has friggin' cankles.
Now I'm not one of those people that are anti-Barbie. In working in the childcare industry and also from my own memories, I've found that kids are pretty creative and usually destructive about the doll. Yeah, there are the select few kids who are all about Barbie having the cute outfits and looking all prim, but most kids just destroy/eat/make ill-conceived almost-porn with the doll. (I used to chop off all their hair and give them grocery bag parachutes.)
Nope, what bugs me is what this says about my age bracket. I mean, if Barbie "has cankles," then what does that say about RL women? For starters, I guess it means that we aren't supposed to wear Louboutin shoes, but come on! Way to boost my self-esteem, douchebag! If Barbie has fat ankles, then I'd hate to think of how you view most of the women in this country!
Gah, and people wonder why I like my Birkenstocks so damned much. At least Birkenstocks don't make me feel like a cow. Or look like they could kill a person if used in combat.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I was discussing the fact that my weekends are almost never relaxing on one of my other blogs.
For some reason, even when I have no plans, things go haywire and that weekend of vegetation goes out the window. A lot of it has to do with my living @ home and caring for my two older (I hate the term elderly) parents, both of which can be demanding, but not in a bad way.
All I really want is two days of sitting around, doing nothing but staring at my computer and maybe catching up on some tv and reading. OK, catching up on a lot of tv and reading.
Not much to ask for, but somehow my empty weekends get filled, or worse yet, I feel guilty that I'm not doing something and I find something to do. This is something I do constantly and yet when Sunday evening rolls around, I find myself exhausted and in need of 2 more days off.
Not good when I have limited vacation and no paid sick days.
I don't know why I can't get any peace and quiet of my own. It really shouldn't be that hard.
If I had the funds, I'd take all my books and my laptop to one of the motels that are close and I'd just forget about the world around me.
Good dream isn't it?
How do you guys manage to get relaxed? What do you like to do when you are relaxing?
Happy Tubesday! This week there's a little change in format, as I had to go to another video site to escape YouTube's militant music policing and bring you some of my favorite music videos of all time. Remember those? The mini-movies that used to promote bands before ringtones were invented? (or at least, when ringtones were MIDIs of "Flight of the Bumblebees") In fond memory of those times, when even the "super too-cool-for-you" kids could find something they liked on M2, here are some of my faves.
First up is one of my favorite bands since my be-pimpled middle school years, Squirrel Nut Zippers. I finally got to see them in concert last night, and it reminded me of this video. Horn section plus morbid humor, and wait, is that a cameo at the very end of a certain Bandit idol?
Number Two is another of my faves since forever, Harvey Danger. I remember thinking this video was soooo cooool because it had a rave, before I got out of my small town and found out that raves are a bunch of hopped-up hipsters sucking face to bad music.
And you didn't think I'd end this without mentioning Ben Folds, did you? Of course not! To be honest, most of Ben Folds Five's videos were.... what's a nice way to put this? Clusterfucky. They didn't really match the tone of the song (see "Underground") or were kind of hackeyed (see "Brick"). Other than "Kate" (which is fun only if you're into BF5 slash), this is the only video of theirs I really like. But boy does this one work.
Enjoy! Happy...erm... Yahoobesday!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
After doing some research I took myself to the Carmike Cinema today to see Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. For those of you not in the know, its adapted from the children's book of the same name. However I'm pretty sure that the movie bears little resemblance to the book that was written by Judi and Robert Barrett back in the late 70s.
I'll pretend to forget all that and concentrate on what was really a funny, heartwarming film that didn't get too depressing, much like Up! did at the beginning.
The film is Flint Lockwood's story. A tale of a young scientist who always gets it wrong, but one day creates a machine that makes it rain food. That's better than some of his other inventions, like spray on shoes, ratbirds, and a machine that lets you know what monkeys are saying. The raining food invention puts Swallow Falls on the map and the mayor played by Bruce Campbell, changes the name of the town to Chewandswallow.
The story has quite a cast of characters, from a national news weather girl, Sam Sparks, to the town's police officer, Earl, played by Mr. T. Not to mention the mascot of the Sardine company that once was the town's main industry. You'll fall in love with all of them.
This is one film that's suitable for the whole family. Even when you get to the parts that are a bit more...dramatic, the kids shouldn't be bothered. Like when the invention goes awry causing the food to grow larger as well as a huge funnel cloud of spaghetti and meatballs that nearly destroys the town.
Its up to Flint then to save the day, and like all good animated tales, he does and he gets the girl and his father even tells him that he's proud of him.
Everyone feels good. Oh and the 3-D is fantastic!
This is another animated winner for 2009. Get yourself to a theater to see this one while you can.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Upon looking at this, you may think you are seeing a copy of Duran Duran's Rio album that was released back in 1982.
If you think that is what it is, well, you're wrong.
No this is the Collector's Edition of that same album
The album has been expanded to two discs now of demos, b-sides and remixes. Look here for the full tracklisting.
This is the 2nd time this album has been repacked in less than 10 years. Now don't get me wrong, I like Rio, but wouldn't it be great if the guys or rather the music industry would stop repackaging old music in hopes that we'll keep buying the same albums over and over again and maybe do something different.
If the guys have enough material for a bonus disc on this album, how about a b-sides and rarities boxset? I know there are still plenty of Duranies out there that would shell out the money for that. I know I probably would. More fool me.
Enough is enough.
Friday, October 9, 2009
In the crappy economy of SW Pennsylvania, you have to do anything you can to save a buck. Last week I went to Goodwill. Usually, I reserve Goodwill for donations, but I was with a friend that's a Goodwill junkie, so in I went.
I was pretty much converted instantly as I am a fan of vintage clothing stores and consignment stores.
I'm not saying that this is how you should buy all your clothes, but when money is tight, this is an awesome place to look. I bought top that was definitely from J.C. Penney and another from Ann Taylor for $3.99 a piece! Plus I got a handful of paperbacks at 99 cents! Then to make mom happy I found two teacups that were only a quarter each.
Not a bad deal at all.
Needless to say I'll be going back and combing the aisles looking for good deals on sweaters and whatnot for winter. OK, I'll be back in the corner looking at the books. I'm a sucker for stores with cheap books.
The secret to shopping at any place where you are getting things second hand, is too look everything over with a fine tooth comb, but once you get into the habit of looking at everything closely you can find some great things. Believe me, you are getting a better deal buying second hand @ Goodwill than at a place like Gabriel Brothers where you get a lot of imperfect items.
If you are brave and a good bargain hunter, these are stores definitely worth checking out. I'd really like to find one in an area where there are more upscale residents that might be getting rid of their clothes. One could dream right?
Where are you favorite places to hunt for bargains?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I think we've established that I like food. One of my favorite soups is Italian Wedding Soup. Not having a good Italian Grandma due to the fact, I'm not Italian, I'm forced to hunt around for my soup.
Meloni's in Uniontown makes killer soup and killer everything else, but that's an hour drive and my car is shite, so I don't get that very often.
Progresso and Campbells' Select Harvest make wedding soup and for awhile both were awsesome. Then they decided that they should make them healthy by removing salt from the soup or taking out the MSG.
My soup tastes like shit now.
FYI to all you people. Have you ever watched Food Detectives on Food Network? Watch out for the episode on MSG. Most people do not have any reaction to it at all. In fact most of the people saying they were getting headaches etc were in the placebo group!
Put it back in my soup!!!!
Stop ruining my food for me!
Oh and take your artificial sweetners and shove them up your collective backsides too. I don't like them. I don't want them. I want sugar, which BTW, moms, doesn't make your kids all that hyper, it just rots their teeth if they don't brush.
I want food that tastes like food.
I want to enjoy every last bite that I shovel down my gaping piehole, thank you very much.
Now I have to try to figure out where to get a good wedding soup close by, because sadly making it is a pain in the backside.
Screw you Progresso and Campbells for making something I loved taste ICKY!!!!!!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
So I've been trying to write a well thought out post on this, balancing both my own personal and political beliefs and my interests as a filmmaker. And you know what? Fuck it.
I'm really getting sick of some of my favorite directors and Hollywood folks rallying around Roman Polanski. In case you missed it, the Rosemary's Baby director drugged and raped a 13 year old girl in the 70s and escape to France to avoid incarceration. Recently he was apprehended in Sweden en route to an awards show.
No doubt that horrible things have happened to him in the course of his life, and I can also understand that you can do very fucked up things under the duress of grief. I can also agree that extradition laws can be weasel-y. Still, none of this excuses the fact that he has raped a 13 year old girl after putting Quaaludes in her drink.
Even if it has been decades ago, it still has not been punished. And no, testifying in court and leaving a country is not punishment, especially when you can still win an Oscar. Seriously, does the fact that you make some amazing movies give you a "get out of jail free" card? I don't think it should. As Chris Rock so eloquently put it a few nights ago on Leno, "Even Johnny Cochran didn't have the nerve to go, 'Well did you see OJ play against New England?"
You know who else was a great artist? Phil Spector. I'd argue that his contributions to pop culture top Polanski's. And yet when he murdered a woman, the Unilateral Celebrity Voice didn't say, "Oh he's old" or "Oh, bad things happened to him in his life" or even "Oh, but he produced 'Be My Baby!" Nope, the majority opinion was "Holy shit, this guy's crazy and look at his hair!"
So what does it take to get a crime recognized? Does someone have to die before a celebrity isn't given a free pass? Fuck me, do people actually think "the 70s were a different time" is an acceptable defense for rape?!
And seriously? For all you film snob types that think his movies are God's gift to cinema, might I suggest Dance of the Vampires? That was more enema than cinema, amirite?
I'm sure by now most of you know it doesn't take much to annoy me. I'm pretty easily peeved. I'm a curmudgeon. I know it. I accept it. You guys and gals have to deal with it.
There are two things that have really been bugging me lately.
1. Album Reviews On Amazon: OMG, for every one that's actually thoughtful there are usually at least 10 that either have nothing to do with the album are just OMG SQUEE or OMG SUCKED!
I now have a new policy. If I like an artist, I will ignore all reviews on Amazon. I know my taste in music is a bit off the wall, so when I see people talking shit on bands/artists that I like, I get pissy. (Guess who got sucked into reading a few reviews of Mika's new CD....Guess who turned red and exploded last night).
I think reviews are useful tools, but I hate reviewers or rather morons that review or say things just to be nasty. I'm not saying that you can't say something sucks because you should. Not everything released is fantastic. (Even though The Boy Who Knew Too Much is) I call em like I see em, even with artists I love. Just an aside, what does the video for We Are Golden have to do with the album? Methinks a reviewer was jealous that he didn't look as cute in his shorts as Mika...but I'll stop. My blood boils.
2. Perez Hilton: This dude is seriously the nastiest queen out there. OK, the bitchiest. I love celebrity gossip, but I don't like drama, which is why I get my info from Popeater. Besides Perez himself, the people that comment on his site and the other big ones, make me fear for humanity.
I bite my tongue a lot because stupidity makes me mad and I want to share my opinions, but I'll find another outlet for them rather than comment with all those creepy people. I just don't get the hatred for everyone or if you say that someone doesn't look great that you are suddenly hating on them.
Uh yeah. Whatever.
Have you read some of this stuff? Its mindboggling. Granted I admit to wishing some celebrities to go away..but they go way overboard, and that my friends is really annoying and scary.
So what's annoying you guys these days, besides grammar?
Monday, October 5, 2009
Give Me A Little Romance
All my friends know I'm a romance novel junkie. I love the stuff. I eat it up like those strawberrified peanut butter M & M's. Mmmm.
I always laugh at the reactions I get from people when I say I'm reading a "Smut Novel". I love my smut. Though truth be told, I like chicklit and regency romances better than the mostly sex no plot variety of books.
I made a comment on my Facebook page saying that I was reading a brain book when I was reading "A House For Mr. Biswas" and an old friend commented "I thought you only read brain books."
No please. My head would have exploded by now. Not that I have any problems with that. I've read my share of the classics. Some I've liked, some I haven't. I've read most of them because I wanted to, as well. For me it works better that way. But after any novel like that I have to go for something lighter and for me that's always a romance novel.
I like them. I like to think that fairy tales can come true. I like to think that true love can happen even with hot monkey sex. I like to think that maybe some day I might even have some hot monkey sex...without the monkeys of course...maybe with a Monkee...cos I've always been partial to Davy Jones, but hey, he's getting old now, so that's probably out of the question too.
My favorite authors are Janet Evanovich (for humor), Stephanie Bond (for humor and a little, ok a lot of smut), and Maggie Shayne (for paranormal fun)
So give me a good Harlequin or any other brand of romance novel and I'll be happy as can be. Romance is the way I escape into fantasy. What way do you escape into a fantasy world?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
First let me say I'm not a devoutly religious person but I do believe in God, though perhaps not organized religion so much. That said, I enjoyed this movie, but it also left me feeling a bit meh, at the assumption that everything about God is a lie.
I'm not going to go into a huge religious dissertation about the film, because there is more to the film then that.
The alternate reality that Ricky Gervais created is one where everyone's words are taken as the truth. Mark (Gervais) is the first and only man ever to tell a lie. Hilarity ensues as he changes from an unemployed loser to a rich and famous writer.
Just when he thinks he's starting to have it all his mother suffers a near fatal heart attack and isn't expected to live. As she's dying, Mark comforts her with his tale of a "heaven" which soon spreads through the world.
Through his lies he becomes closer to the woman he loves, Anna (Jennifer Garner)but he still can't win her heart because she still believes she's wants perfect children and not fat snub nosed ones.
I kinda found it hard to like her even at the end when she admitted her love for Mark. I found her character to be shallow and just generally unlikable, much like all the other characters in the film. Marks secretary/assistant Shelly, played by Tina Fey made me want to smack her in the face. Rob Lowe's Brad Kessler was obnoxious, pompous and well what does it matter, he was supposed to be that way. I just couldn't grasp that only a few other loser types seemed to like him, when most of the time I wanted to give him a big hug.
The film was cute but it wasn't great and it definitely wasn't up to Gervais' usual standards. I'd probably put it behind Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past on the entertaining scale, which is sad because Ricky Gervais is flipping funny, and he was funny in this movie, only his writing wasn't quite up to par, and him being funny wasn't enough to make this a fantastic comedy. Why was he the only man that could lie? Why didn't any of his friends learn from him when they saw his success? There were too many plot holes for me, and I'm the type of person that thinks about things, even silly movies
This is a movie that's best Netflixed. Don't waste $9 or more on it. If you have a Maxi Saver theater in your area, check it out there. Its good but there are too many other things worth spending that kind of money on.
2.5 stars out of 5
Saturday, October 3, 2009
The very fact that I was able to go on iTunes and download the audio file of Kristen Chenowith singing "Maybe This Time" from this week's episode of "Glee" is proof that technology really is going in the right direction. She might be four feet tall, but that bitch can sing.
Excuse me, I need to listen to this on repeat and sing my lungs out seriously off key now. kthanxbye.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Just when I thought I was out...the Wenches (OK, head Wench Andrea) pulled me back in. This is my second round as a Wench, having made sporadic appearances during the last incarnation of this blog.
What's left is: cycling. Before this summer, my interest in cycling was limited to watching the Tour de France mainly for the scenery. But during this year's Tour, something happened. Pieces of the sport's complexity clicked into place for me, and as a result you'll have to endure all the results of my trawls through fan websites and hours of watching skinny guys pedal down endless roads. Oh, and you'll hear a lot about this cutie.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
This past year has seen quite a few albums from just about every genre that rank as great or must haves for your music collection. Here are some of the albums I think everyone should own from 2009
Elvis Costello - Secret Profane & Sugarcane
Any year with a new Elvis Costello album is a good year. Of course, this guy doesn't often go that long without a new release so that means happy times. For some his voice is a trial, but not for me.
With Secret, Elvis goes back down a slightly countrified road, but for him this is a genre that strangely enough, works well. He's collaborated with some country superstars too, like Loretta Lynn. Together they penned I Felt The Chill Before The Winter Came, which is one of the high points of the album.
There's a reworking of Complicated Shadows as well as I Dreamed Of My Old Lover, which is something Elvis concert goers will be familiar with, especially if they saw him in the late 90s touring with just Steve Nieve.
Gloriana - Gloriana
This is probably the best country debut album of the year. The songs tend to go more along the pop lines, but it really doesn't matter. From the first single, Wild At Heart, this band is going to capture your heart.
The songs are catchy and the harmonies superb. Even people that profess not to like country will have a hard time dismissing Gloriana, because their music is pretty universal. You're head will bop along to How Far Do You Want To Go and The Way It Goes. Oh and you'll be singing along too.
Their out for exposure too, they are opening for Taylor Swift. That tour and this album will make them a household name fast and with good reason, they have talent.
Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Everyone on the planet needs this album. It superclafradgalisticexpaliawesome.
There are 12 songs on this album and every one of them is strong and fun and just about everything that anyone could want in a pop album.
Mika, as I'm telling everyone is a the bastard love child of Freddie Mercury and Andy Bell (Erasure). Had those two reproduced together this curly haired sweetie pie would have been their baby.
I could go on and on for hours about how great this album is. The songwriting, the arranging, and the vocals, everything is superb. There's nothing weak about this album, and in a world of potboiler music this is a rare find.
Buy this album and come with me to worship in the church of Mika.
Diana Krall - Quiet Nights
Much like her husband, Elvis Costello, Diana makes quality albums and any year with a release by her is also a good one. When that year has a record by her husband too, well it can't get much better.
Diana woos us with some old standards like The Boy From Ipanema and the beautiful Every Time We Say Goodbye and the gorgeous title track, Quiet Nights which has a beautiful video that you can watch here.
Diana's voice is what sets her apart from all the rest. She's not a squeaky sounding soprano, in fact, she's just the opposite. Her voice is deep and rich and resonates romance.
This is an album to pull out when you are curling up on the couch with a book and a steaming cuppa.
These are my four favorites so far from this year. I tried to pick one from each genre of music that is popular right now, rock, country, pop and jazz. I hope you might enjoy these albums as much as I do.
Grammatical Pet Peeves
Let me start by saying that I am by no means an expert, or perfect. I did not obtain my degree in English or communications, or grammar for that matter. I just happen to have a gift for writing and spelling, and when people abuse it, it really frustrates me!
Some examples of my current grammatical pet peeves:
- Abuse of you’re. Your = your. You’re = YOU ARE. I am also annoyed when people use “abbreviations” that they normally use while texting when writing comments in Facebook.
does NOT equal YOU ARE! Stop being lazy and type it out! If you text that much then you must be a fast typist! ur
- Misspelling of words in the media, such as on major local news stations. I know they have to type things out fairly quickly, but with all the technology we have today, I believe a quick run through spellcheck would do wonders.
- When people say something such as, “It’s a lot of people going into the store”. It’s = it is, meaning singular. They should be saying, “There are a lot of people going into the store”.
- Improper use of the pronoun “I”. Many people think you should always write “John and I’, when this is not always correct. When posting a picture on Facebook, you should be writing “John and me”. If you were just listing yourself, you wouldn’t write “I”, would you? No, you would write “me”. A common error but still annoying.
- The word irregardless. It means the same as regardless! Why anybody started saying it, I will never know. So stupid.
OK, thank you for letting me rant. These are things that annoy me on almost a daily basis. Feel free to comment on any of your grammatical pet peeves as well! I can’t be alone here!