Monday, February 27, 2012

Photography/Cooking (sort of)

Over the weekend I finally bit the bullet and, after many months of research, ran out and purchased my first DSLR camera. I am by no means a photographer: I've used the school's DSLRs on occasion over the last few years and even halfway payed attention in class about how to use them properly.  That being said, I was fully excited to dive right in to my new toy and take pictures of... something.  Sadly, that something ended up being whatever happened to be in my kitchen cupboards that day.

For Christmas my grandma bought me a Babycakes Cake Pop maker.  If you don't know what that is, that's fine.  I didn't know what it was even when I was staring at it on my lap.  Nevertheless, I jumped right into it over break, trying my hand at what my family not-so-elegantly named "cake balls" (mostly because I was too lazy to put the sticks in them and decorate them).

This is the part where pseudo-baking meets college laziness: I rarely (never) posses eggs, butter, or consumable milk in my refrigerator.  At one time someone mentioned to me being able to bake a box cake mix by mixing it with a can of Diet Coke, so that's where the cooking/photography journey began this weekend.
I had one random box of cake mix shoved in the back of my cupboard that I had purchased on a whim (at BigLots, no less), so I was all set.

If you're thinking the mixing-powder-with-soda event sounds moderately disgusting, you are correct.  The carbonation creates a strange texture, but once you get it mixed thoroughly the texture is basically the same as if you had made it with real food ingredients.  Once it gets to that point, my loads of previous cake ball creation experience told me the next important step was to pour the batter into a gallon Ziploc bag to properly inject the cake ball holes.  As easy as this sounds, it is messy and ridiculous to try to do alone.  I probably should've thought twice about exposing my new camera to such circumstances, but everyone made it out alive this time.  Anyway, after the batter is in the bag and the corner is snipped off it's time to go to town squeezing it into the molds and waiting about 4 minutes for them to bake.
If the stars are aligned correctly and the world decides to spare you the disappointment of raw-inside cake balls, they come out cute and delicious.  Well, not as cute as if you have the patience to decorate them properly, I guess.
I ended up with a big bowl full of Cherry Chip cake balls, which is ordinarily something I'd be thrilled about, but it turns out Cherry Chip cake is pretty freakin' gross.  I donated them to a friend to take home to her family, which is lovely because even the smell of them was a bit too much for me.

A learning experience, times 4.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Movie (plus social media!): Tenure

I first watched this movie on Netflix about a year ago, choosing it solely because Luke Wilson was on the cover. Shallow? Perhaps.

I was at a loss for a movie the other night and came across it again on Netflix so I decided to revisit. Not long into it I remembered that it's freaking hilarious in a completely-fits-my-personality-and-outlook-on-life-exactly way. After watching for about an hour and freaking out my neighbors with my audible laughter, I sent a tweet to a friend saying "Tenure will be your new favorite movie!"

The next morning I woke up to a re-tweet of my tweet by none other than screenwriter and director of the movie. Sweet! I tweeted him to tell him how much I liked the movie and he responded promptly. COOL! I love real people. Later that night my friend came over and we watched it again while trading funny lines from the movie back and forth with the director. He's freaking awesome, check him out: @mikemillio

But anyway, Tenure is an indie comedy that follows college professor Charlie Thurber (Luke Wilson) as he does his best to make some progress in his teaching career and gain some respect from his colleagues.  Even though he's an awesome teacher he can't seem to get a break, running into ironically hilarious failure at every possible moment. His trouble at work is compounded by pressure from his father: an educated man living in an assisted living place with an "I don't need to be here" attitude. (see The Savages: another hilariously sad and honest film I wholeheartedly recommend)

After surviving the trials and tribulations of Bigfoot Club, Erotic Poetry Club, childish pranks, being hit on by a student, and being accused of getting pee in places it shouldn't be, Charlie is forced to choose between the respect and prestige of tenure and staying true to his own teaching philosophies: just enough emotional mushy-ness to not ruin the humor of the rest of the film while simultaneously adding a little meaning.

Thanks, Mike Million!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music: The Grammys

fair warning: I don't pay any attention to new music. I live under a rock to the point that on any given day I couldn't tell you one song/album/artist that's in the iTunes top 10. My perspective on the Grammys is probably comparable to that of a 40 year old man.

some thoughts:
1. Overall: WOW, that's a lot of flashiness. From Lady Gaga's weird fish net outfit to some of (basically all of) the performances, there was a lot going on. Everything that went into Rihanna's (I think? the cracked-out looking one) performance must've been so overwhelmingly time consuming and stressful that they forgot to attempt to make her singing sound decent. She was so off of her voice track that it sounded like a duet. This theme seemed to run throughout the entire show. Coldplay's performance was decently respectable but was all of that neon, epileptic-seizure-inducing flashiness absolutely necessary? What little time I spent reading Grammys tweets revealed something ironic that made me quite happy: Adele's performance was the star of the show even though it was pretty much as bare-bones as it could be.

2. I'm tired of the Foo Fighters. Their early music was cool. Dave Grohl irritates me. He seems to love himself a bit too much for my taste. We get it, you're famous. Get that hair out of your face.

3. Is it a requirement that all of the performers reenact their music video? amps up the cheese factor pretty hard for me. Taylor Swifts hillbilly thing: why?

4. The friends I was watching with got rather irritated with my constant questions. "Who's that?...She's like a rapper, or what?...Does she always look like that?...Is this the song right now?" (compare to: Phyllis in episode of The Office where they're watching Glee)

5. The Coldplay/Willie Nelson/animated/Chipotle ad caused me to nerd-out pretty hard in a "zomg this is coooooool!" way. I was in hopes it was some type of "support organic/free range food" ad, but nevertheless, a thumbs up for Chipotle.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Music: Music Monday Part 2

(click to enlarge)

A rather exciting week for me, musically speaking.

After rolling with this playlist for a couple days, I found an awesome deal on a 160gig iPod on CraigsList (the 80gig I purchased a year ago as 'broken' just couldn't be limped along much further) and it was filled with wonderful, magical amounts of music that filled in some holes in my own collection plus gave me DAYS full of new (mostly worthwhile) things to explore.  I hope I can drag myself away to attend my classes.

disclaimer: stealing music is bad. sorry, music industry.

Movie: All Good Things

From what little I've heard/seen, people generally didn't seem to like this movie as much as I did. Then again, most people don't like Ryan Gosling as much as I do. Case in point, I just saw this on IMDB:

Did You Know?
Ryan Gosling
felt so bad about a scene he had to pull Kirsten Dunst's hair, he sent her flowers the day after.

Though that alone really should be enough for anyone to swoon over Ryan Gosling, I genuinely thought he had a brilliant performance in this movie.

This crime/drama/mystery film follows an extended flashback narrated by old-man Ryan Gosling. It is based on a real-life unsolved murder mystery case...which serves to make the entire movie even more twisted and terrifying.

David Marks (Ryan Gosling) is the son of a super-rich real estate tycoon in New York and struggles with falling into the family business even though he hates it, the death of his mother, and some sort of weird talking-to-himself thing. Kirsten Dunst plays his period-appropriate, too-submissive wife Katie: a woman from a loving family and dreams of attending medical school. Things get a little messy, he gets a little abusive, she turns up missing.

After that, things get a lot more twisted and Ryan Gosling ends up running on a beach wearing a woman's wig and makeup. Always a sign of a fantastic movie.

Needless to say, my hungover wishes of "ugh, I hope this holds my attention" were granted with this movie last night. Recommended without question.