7.25.2007

Mostly Martha

This is a really cute German Romantic Comedy. Wait, what? Most German films I've seen are really intense, very serious, and to say there's a German romantic comedy, is kinda strange. But this one is really good. The re-make is getting released shortly, No Reservations. It's funny because the preview for the new one could be the preview for this one. Not having seen the English version, it looks like it's pretty much shot-for-shot the same movie. The German version stars Martina Gedeck, and she's great as the uptight chef who takes custody of her sister's daughter. Sergio Castellitto plays Mario, the chef who invades her kitchen and they fall in love. It's a really fun movie, about neuroses and letting people into your life.

A really good German Romantic comedy.

7.23.2007

Delicatessen

This one was directed by the same guy who did Amelie. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world where meat is scarce, and so cannibalism isn't frowned upon so much. It's really, really funny. One of the same actors from the other movie is in his one, Dominique Pinon, who after looking, is recognizable from a lot of other films as well. He's really a very good actor, and enjoyable to watch. The movie is completely absurd, and dark, and funny, in only the way that the French can do. It's got a bit of the same feeling as Amelie, like even though it's modern, people are stuck in the past, in the 50s or 60s. It's a great feeling, and the look really works.

A really fun movie.

7.20.2007

The Art of Spaghetti Sauce

I decided to make spaghetti & meatballs for everyone tonight. And I don't cheap out and do jars of spaghetti sauce when I do it. I am doing the all day cooking thing. I went to Whole Foods and bought tomatoes, and ground beef and all that stuff. As I was starting the cooking process, I decided to write my rules of making my sauce. They are very flexible for the most part and you can get retty creative with it as long as you follow some basics.

  • The first thing to to buy the best ingredients you can find. If you can't get good ripe fresh tomatoes, use canned, it's what I usually do anyway.
  • Tomato paste is your friend (I'm using 3 cans of it today--I like it thick & chunky).
  • Dried herbs at the beginning, fresh at the end.
  • It's really easy to chop garlic in a blender, or just smash it.
  • Choose your ingredients based on what you like, and what you think will go together. Don't leave out onions just because someone doesn't like onions. The only time you should take their opinion into consideration is if they have actual allergies, like mushrooms, or peppers, or whatever.
  • When using fresh tomatoes, PEEL them. Otherwise you will have skins stuck in your teeth, and it gets disgusting. You can do thing by boiling a big pot of water, sticking a fork into a tomato and dipping it into the water for 5-10 seconds. You will see the skin start to peel back from where the fork is sticking into it. With the fork still in it, use a paper towel to grab at the skin and slide it off. It should come off easily. If it does not, dip it back into the water for a few more second. Be careful of course, as the water, and the tomato, are hot.
  • When using canned tomatoes, never buy tomato "Sauce." This has spices in it, and is liquid-y, and does not leave you a lot of room to play. If you want a smoother sauce, go for a tomato puree, but check to see that it's seedless. Make sure you read labels. I buy Diced tomatoes. if you want something smoother, buy Petite Diced, Del Monte makes it, and probably other. I usually go for large diced and whole tomatoes. I use a combination because that way you get a few really large chunks and some more bite-size chunks. All of these come with liquid. I try to get organic, but it's not always available. The only problem with the whole tomatoes (and the reason I don't use those exclusively), is that they still have seeds. The Diced are usually seedless.
  • Use Onion.
  • Use lots of Garlic.
  • Use lots and lots of herbs like basil and oregano.
  • Beyond tomato, garlic, onion and herbs, you can add pretty much whatever you want:
    • ground beef
    • sausage
    • clams and/or clam juice
    • green peppers
    • mushrooms
    • broccoli
    • anchovies
    • melt in cheese
    • chunks of roasted garlic
    • It's pretty much just limited by your imagination

  • The way I always start is by sautéing the onion & garlic (and mushrooms and peppers, etc), then I add meat or meat juices (if a clam sauce). This is the only point I salt anything until the very end. If I'm not adding meat, which I usually don't, I add a can of tomato paste and some juice from a can of diced tomatoes. Then I add whole tomatoes first, so I can cut them a bit with whatever spoon or stirrer I'm using (always wood) against the side or bottom of the pot. Then spices: dried basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning. Diced tomatoes get stirred in, and then the whole thing simmers for a while. At some point meatballs get made and thrown in. You can add any other liquids, wine, vinegar, more clam juice, based on taste and texture at this point. Stir in any fresh herbs then throw over pasta.

Play with the texture and ingredients. I figured out a new sauce today with onion, 2 cans of tomato paste, and a large can of diced tomatoes with a bunch of spices. It'd be really good as a super chunky Arabiatta sauce.


And don't forget the garlic bread...




Question of the Day: What's your favorite kind of pasta?

7.17.2007

Crank

So I went into this movie expecting something slightly cheesy, something that wouldn't live up to my expectations. What I got out of it was pure, unadulterated fun. Adrenaline, unabashed, mind-numbing action, and some really cool stunt-work. And severed limbs, can't forget the severed limbs. I'm not going to talk about the acting, because it's an action movie, with comedy thrown in. Very much aimed at guys, for guys, and by guys (though I can appreciate that). There's a ton of extremely unlikely situations, but in this frame of reference, it's completely plausible (driving through a mall for instance). The basic storyline is that Chev wakes up having been give some kind of Chinese cocktail of drugs, and the only way he can stay alive is to keep his adrenaline pumping (something about the drug blocking receptors or something). So, to that end, he gets into car chases, has sex, beats people up, gets into gunfights, all with the aim of killing the guy who has injected him (who of course conveniently left a DVD telling him exactly what he did). The movie relies on some really cool camera-work, and some split-screen, which surprisingly works to its advantage. It gives the whole film a frenetic pace. The camera is jumping around, you have two different angles of the same thing to look at at the same time. At one point, two cameras are on two different characters, until one comes up behind the other and the cameras merge. Overall, I'm surprised to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

It keeps the adrenaline pumping.

7.12.2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I didn't enjoy this one as much as the last one. There are a few spots where the movie dragged, and they left some cool stuff out of the book. (I know, I know, the movie is supposed to cut out a bunch of stuff for pacing and length.) The peripheral characters in the movie lacked development, they did stuff and they didn't have any kind of motivation that was visible on-screen. The movie tried very hard to condense the book, and instead threw in characters that didn't make sense on-screen. Knowing what will happen in the next book, they were able to do some 'character development' of peripheral characters, but unless you've read those books, you don't understand it. Supporting characters are glossed over, and rather than given proper screen time for the telling of their story lines, they are given cursory glances. The Cho storyline is nothing more than a kiss. And while I understand this, from an adaptation standpoint. But from the point of watching the movie, thing were missing.

Not the best in the series.

Transformers

This movie is mostly overrated. I'll grant that the special effects are spectacular, but the script is pretty bad. The overall storyline is fairly good. It makes sense with the topic ofthe movie, and the fact that it's based on a cartoon. Some of the bits are very good. Like before you really see any of them transform, there's a bit with the car (when you see it, you'll know what I mean) and it's really funny. But then other parts, Optimus Prime (who had absolutely no good lines in the movie at all) drones on and on with canned monologues about peace and domination. The fights were a little hard to follow, because they didn't spend enough time introducing the 'bots, so it was hard to tell who was on what side during the big fight sequence. Shia LeBeouf is a really surprising actor. He's really quite good, and I plan to be impressed when he gets older. Megan Fox, was the standard hot chick, really normal, kinda boring. Josh Duhamel was miscast. They cast all these really big guys are the stereotypical army guys. Then they threw in Duhamel, because he's got a bit of a name, who compared to the big guys, is tiny.

In the end, it's not a bad movie, but it's definitely got that's cartoon feel.

7.11.2007

Everything and Nothing

I've been thinking lately about my personality, and my tendency to try to be everything all at once. And I'm not even sure I"m trying. So much of it is natural... I'm both very straightforward in asking for what I want, but I'm very shy, especially when it comes to relationships. I'm blind, but only in one eye, and I can see perfectly out of the other. I'm bossy, and still follow directions well (I like to think). I'm easy to get along with, but I can be very high-maintenance. It's so weird, like whoever built me decided they wanted me to be good at everything, but at nothing, and be neurotic and lazy, and all this other crap that I've got going on.



GAH!!



No wonder I can't find a relationship, I'm far too complicated. Nothing is ever easy...



Question of the Day: What makes you complicated?

7.03.2007

Puccini for Beginners

This movie tried so hard to be a Woody Allen movie. One of the really good ones from way back when. The problem was, they tried to follow some formula, that didn't quite work. It missed some things, and it was trying too hard to be everything all at once. It tries to do the bits where people around the main character, Allegra, are talking to her, telling her what she's thinking, but only where it's really obvious. There's the love triangle thing, but the main character doesn't seem neurotic enough to pull everything off. She's commitment-phobic, and somehow manages to get into two relationships at once. The whole plot-line is thin and drawn-out, convoluted and silly. It does have its funny moments though. The characters in it are thinly played. Allegra is annoying, Grace is vapid, and Philip is whiny.

It could have been good, but it just tried too hard.

Live Free of Die Hard

I think the best thing that I can say for this movie, is that I immediately want to turn around and see it again. It was classic John McClane, lots of explosions, Bruce Willis getting the crap kicked out of him, and bad guys that really should have gotten away with it. This one is particularly scary because rather than being based on a book, or novel, it's based on an article that was published in Wired Magazine. Basically, the terrorists in this film, rather than attacking people and specific places and blowing things up, they've figured out how to shut down the entire country. In the film, they call it a Fire Sail (I think). It's scary to think about because it's completely possible. One of the things I loved about this movie is that the stuff they reveal in the trailer is at the beginning of the movie. For example, the helicopter thing is about 45 minutes in, rather than at the very end, like in so many trailers. There's a part in the trailer with a fire extinguisher, and that's in the first 10 minutes. It's very unusual for a trailer to get it's good stuff from the beginning of a movie rather than the end. There's a lot of good bits throughout the movie, it's definitely a worthwhile watch. Bruce Willis is always good, but Justin Long is the surprise, because he totally holds his own as a smart-ass computer geek with knowledge that just confuses McClane. Rather than submitting to the will of a dominating personality, Matt Farrell (Long's character), rises to the challenge. Plus, Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Lucy, McClane's daughter, and you get to see what someone would be like growing up with him for a father. It's really surprising in the character development.

Yippie-kay-yay, mother-f....

7.02.2007

lots going on

The wedding this weekend was beautiful. I know, I know, people say that about every wedding they go to, but this one was special because it was between two people that I've known for 6, 7 or so years. I can't really remember. I think I met them both in 1999, so that would even be 8 years. Geoff & Rissa. If there were a better way to combine their names than Georissa (which just sounds silly) or Riff (just, no), we would have. The Hollywood thing of combining names totally copies off of us. At any rate, the wedding was at Rissa's parents' place, which was a completely genius place to have it. Parking was semi-evil, but it all worked out. They live on a tiny road on a cliff in Santa Barbara, that overlooks the ocean, and one of the islands that're out there (Which look a lot closer than they are). The wedding started around 5:45-ish, and it was beautiful. There was a point in the ceremony that the celebrant, Charles (a friend of their family), asked if we would witness their union and uphold it, and we didn't give an enthusiastic reply, and Rissa turned and asked, "Are you sure?" But they were so obviously happy and everyone was smiling, and then I started tearing up. Not sad tears, or anything like that. It was one of those moments where you're just so happy, the emotions just kinda overflow.



Afterwards, we went to the front yard for cocktails and snack-type foods, all mexican themed, and all tasty. That way the staff of caterers and people could move chairs around, set up tables and all that stuff. Eventually, we got called back to the other side of the house to dinner and it was kinda do-it-yourself Mexican food. Tacos and such, which sounds odd at a wedding, but it worked. They did the cake, which was tasty, and then Rissa threw the bouquet. Now, honestly, I should not have been the one to catch it, but the person who should have, had her gallbladder removed on Wednesday, so she was lying down in the back of the house. The only reason I caught it was because I'm so freakin' tall! I literally just reached up and there was really no chance of anyone else getting it.



After the wedding, I had to drive Derrek & Emily to the airport here. We went back to Geoff & Rissa's apartment, slept for like 3 hours, they packed, and then we left at like 4am. It was a relatively easy drive only because Derrek kept me awake. I was tired. I haven't done an opening shift in a long time, and I needed just a little more sleep at that point.



Yesterday, I got to play Hannelore and count everything in the store. I had to completely re-organize the back room first, but it all kinda worked out. Plus, I got like an hour of overtime.



In other work news it looks like I'm getting another promotion on top of the one I have now. I'm currently training for the Shift Supervisor position, and I'll spend 6-8 months doing that, then I'll get the ASM promotion. I'm excited about it!!



I just have to find a boy to go with that bouquet...



Question of the Day: Whose was the last wedding you went to?