Cookie-Palooza

Recently my mom, unfortunately, had to undergo surgery. As an art teacher, this meant she was out for a few months to recover. During this time she became fearful that the newer, younger, hipper sub would usurp the hearts of her impressionable high school classes. And thus she concocted a genius plan to win them back over; enlist her oldest daughter to bake cookies for every single student.

Of course the original plan was to go through a few bags of Tollhouse mix but I,unbelievably bored after two weeks home from college with basically nothing to do, decided to go a step further and embark on what I like to call:

Cookie-Palooza

The plan was to create four different types of, collectively, 100+ cookies to be distributed throughout her art classes. The hard part was really sifting through my ridiculous amount of unused cookie recipes to come up with some exciting but not terribly experimental options. I finally decided on the following:

1. Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies – Just like you might guess from the name, chocolate chip cookies with a gingerbread-like dough. Wanting to spice up the traditional chocolate chip cookie (pun unintended but appreciated), I found this recipe floating around the archives and thought it was interesting enough to try but normal enough to not scare off high school kids.

I got the recipe here from www.sugarhero.com, where pictures of ooey-gooey molasses-darkened cookies temptingly laid out alongside what I imagine as chai-spiced hot chocolate drew me in. You can watch the cookie-making process in the delightful slideshow featured below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2. Red Velvet Cookies – Probably the least adventurous of the crop, but who doesn’t love a good red velvet crinkle cookie? I know I do. I always feel using a recipe with a ready-made mix base is a bit of a cop-out, but I had three other recipes to get through here so I thought I could cut myself a little slack. The recipe came from Duncan Hines and required only 3 real ingredients: a box of Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix (obvi), 2 eggs and 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Simplicity can be nice for a change. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3. Chocolate Peanut-Butter No-Bake Cookies – I originally got this recipe from a friend, but found an identical one online to share and OHMYLORDARETHEYAMAZING. Like, cookie perfection, not lying to you. If it helps convince you further, they were the first ones to go, and we all know how much high schoolers love food.

They’re scrumptious, unbaked concoctions of sugar, cocoa, milk, butter, peanut butter and oatmeal. Yummmmm. And the best part? You can eat all the dough before you even make the cookies and not feel a bit guilty (or rather, you might feel guilty, but at least you don’t need to worry about salmonella…)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

4. Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies – This is the one Cookie-Palooza recipe I’ve actually done before, and posted about before, so I already knew they were amazing (although I might’ve forgotten exactly how amazing). Again, I used the recipe from Picky Palate (this woman should be considered a baking Messiah. Patron Saint of Baking. Really good baker.) with drool-inducing results. Although it is slightly worrying that we, as a society, feel the need to sandwich sandwich cookies in between chocolate chip cookies. ‘Murica.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And so that’s it, the four unique baking excursions that joined as one to deliver unto us Cookie-Palooza. This might have to become an annual thing (so much consumed raw cookie dough, no regrets). And below is the awe-inducing finished product:

What can I say, every once in a while a girl has to go crazy and bake an obscenely prolific amount of cookies. We all get that urge, right?

Right?

2013 Oscar Nominations: Best Picture

I rarely sit through the Grammys or VMA’s, have never seen the Golden Globes, hold a passing interest in the Emmy’s and, despite my love for the theater, I only watch the Tony’s for Neil Patrick Harris. The one awards show that really gets me riled up, however, is The Academy Awards.

Although they almost always fail to honor any films not in the box office top twenty, and tend to get more things wrong than right, for some reason I can’t help but get all up in arms about nominations and wait breathlessly on Oscar night glued to my TV, hanging on each announcer’s every word (Obviously I’ve got some issues).

Anyways, the 2013 nominees have been announced and I’m here to lend you my entirely engrossing and insightful take on what is and what should have been.

I was expecting more films in the category for Best Picture, quite honestly, but I think they’ve got a pretty good selection. Kathryn Bigelow’s buzzworthy and somewhat scandalous Zero Dark Thirty (code speak for ‘really, really early’), Tom Hooper’s musical version of Les Miserables, Ben Affleck’s sensational Argo and Spielberg’s frontrunner Lincoln were all sure bets for nomination, with Ang Lee’s stunning Life of Pi nearly equally expected.

The rest are hardly surprises, but didn’t exactly have the lock-in status the previous five claimed. Benh Zeitlin’s much-talked about indie Beasts of the Southern Wild, it’s greatest boast being the impressive performance of then six-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy, and Michael Haneke’s emotional Amour, a poignant French tale of love in old age, are probably Lincoln‘s greatest competition for Best Picture, right after Argo. I say this because they’re the only  (relatively) small-budget imports that didn’t break the American box office, and although The Academy is rather predictable regarding its nominations they have an aversion, at crunch time, to letting themselves appear too mainstream. So naturally if Lincoln doesn’t walk away with the award it seems likely one of the more ‘artistic’ options will, to satisfy The Academy’s image of themselves as upholders of artistic integrity (Wow, that sounds so sassy, my bad. I’m dialing it down a notch.).

The other nominees are David Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, which personally I find the weakest of the bunch, and Tarantino’s Django Unchained. While I don’t think The Academy will choose Django for the win, it’s nice that they’ve loosened up enough to again honor Tarantino with the distinction he deserves.

I guess it was really too much to expect a nomination for The Dark Knight Rises, which I felt, along with it’s predecessor The Dark Knight, transcended typical comic-book fare and delivered a tense, gripping and emotional story. And of course The Avengers isn’t exactly the type of film to get lauded at the Academy Awards but hey, it was funny, clever, well-made, and artfully brought together what was previously four separate story arcs into one coherent plot. I know Oscars usually go to films with a little more emotional resonance and somber storylines, but it is an award for best-made film, not film that got you most misty-eyed, right? I’d list Skyfall among this collection of films as well; excellently made and stunningly shot, why doesn’t Bond get a shot at one of those statuettes?

Some of the most surprising absences go to The Master, Flight and Moonrise Kingdom. Although I’ve only seen the last of the three, The Master struck me as standard Academy shoe-in material, and I’ve heard only good things about the dramatic Flight and Denzel Washington’s forceful performance. And while I’m slowly learning Wes Andersen’s not exactly my cup of tea, I can appreciate the quality of his latest creation, Moonrise Kingdom, and am moderately surprised the quirky coming-of-age-esque tale didn’t at least get a nod. Did this have something to do with hanging chads?

Anyway, I’m still equally excited for the awards and all the glitzy glamouressness and silly show antics and promenading, and of course the celebration of the craft. That too. Here’s to hoping they bring back Franco and Hathaway as hosts, huh? Those two slayed it.

Our Latest Foray into the Slightly Twisted World of Tarantino

Film Review

Django Unchained, in the vein of Inglorious Basterds and basically every Tarantino movie ever, is a great film that makes you feel a little guilty for admitting you like it. Of Django Unchained Postercourse Tarantino’s brand of violence, inspired in great part by cheap B-grade exploitation movies of the past, is mainstream enough that you can still praise his name and come off looking classy (vouching for I Spit On Your Grave or Toxic Avenger might not earn you as much film cred). But just because Tarantino has successfully found a niche for excessive violence outside of the horror genre doesn’t neccessarily make watching volcano-style gushes of blood and close-up headshots any less gritty.

I begin the review by discussing gore because Django Unchained has a lot of it. It’s mostly what people like to refer to as ‘fun violence’, the kind so unrealistic and over-the-top that it passes the point of disturbance and just becomes silly, and (I begrudgingly admit) enjoyable. But nonetheless, the level of cruelty observed by both Django‘s heroes and villains at times gets a little stomach-turning for even a Tarantino vet such as myself (torn apart by wild dogs, anyone? Not to mention that extremely unsettling scene of a ‘mandingo’ fight to the death.).

Despite, and probably in part because of, Tarantino’s trademark violence, Django delivered and is definitely up there as one of my favorite films of the year (although Basterds still holds its number 1 spot on my list of Tarantino favorites). The story follows Django, who has been sold and separated from his wife after attempting to escape the plantation to which he was enslaved. In an entirely brilliant opening sequence Django is rescued by a German dentist-turned-assassin Dr. King Schultz, who needs Django for information regarding his latest targets.  No matter the movie, my face lights up every time Christoph Waltz takes up a frame, so his entrance driving a horse-pulled wagon with a bouncing model tooth, attached to the roof via spring, was especially entertaining.

We then follow Django, who agrees to help Dr. King take out his nefarious victims. We watch as he begins to form a friendship with his savior, and pick up some tricks of the bounty-hunting trade along the way. All this eventually leads to a plot to rescue Django’s wife Broomhilda (Meant to be ‘Brunhilde’, as she was originally owned by a German mistress) from the iniquitous Calvin Candie, a sinister, merciless and incredibly wealth Southern plantation owner.

For a while the scheme appears to be rather successful, but, seeing as it’s a Tarantino movie, you know from the get-go it’s all going to end in a bloody show-down. I’ll just fill you in now; it does just that. And this off-the-rails ending is where Django loses a lot of its steam. The film spends a lot of time building a very compelling relationship and repartee between the two leads, Django and Shultz, which makes for the backbone of the movie. We watch Django rise from overwhelmed and heartbroken slave to fiercely determined and confident killer, and take out some white supremacist baddies along the way. But towards the end, with our main villain already dispatched, we lose what emotional investment we had in the story and the climactic gunfight feels like less of a pay-off and more an ear-splitting, bullet-hole ridden slogfest.

Waltz is fantastic and charismatic as ever in his role as Dr. Schultz, while Leonardo DiCaprio brings to life villainous Calvin Candie as equal parts upper-class brat and depraved scoundrel, with the perfect dash of southern gentleman. Samuel L. Jackson also comes across strong as sinister and cantankerous head house slave Stephen. While I hold ambivalent feelings towards Jamie Foxx as an actor, I feel his portrayal of Django, while not the film’s strongest, is more than adequate for the film’s purpose. He’s got this sort of lost puppy-dog look towards the opening I couldn’t quite see original choice Will Smith pulling off, at the same time imbuing Django with a sort of unconscious, Foxx-esque swagger, more and more clear as the film drags on. He never comes off as a cold-hearted killer, but a victim of circumstance who just happens to be a crazy-good shot. It takes a careful level of confidence, detachment and a pinch of bewilderment to pull that off.

So while I think the film does start to lose steam after a few principle characters are blown away, this act is precipitated by some hilarious and incredibly high-intensity scenes, making Tarantino’s latest work more than worth the watch.

Light Up the Sky

Wanderlust

Usually every week I like to pick out and feature some exotic location I hope to one day travel to. But this week I’d like to present less of a place and more a particular event; to be specific, the Lanna festival of Yi Peng in Thailand.

Lanna, the area of Northern Thailand, is known to employ the use of ‘sky lanterns’ for celebration throughout the year, but the Yi Peng festival is the most well known. It is held on the night of a full moon, and it involves the launching of several lanterns into the sky. Wikipedia, at the most poetic I’ve ever seen it, describes the lanterns as such: “they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the sky.” No reason to try and improve on such a flowery description.

The lanterns function in about the same way as a hot air balloon, but it’s not the mechanics of the floating lanterns that interest me, and honestly I know very little about the reasons for the festival itself. What piques my interest about the Yi Peng festival is the effect created by thousands of lanterns being simultaneously released into the night sky :

Wgh3b

When just a photo is this breathtaking, I can’t imagine what it must be like to actually be present. Here’s a few more shots, but if you simply Google image the festival you’ll be bombarded with stunning photographs. I don’t think it’s possible to take a bad picture of an event like this.

yi-peng-lantern-festival-chiang-mai-7

lanterns30

3403629436_258b7f3294

1113loykrathong01_G_20101112173739

I tend to be sentimental regarding any sort of ceremony or gathering that peacefully bring people together such as this one, and the added touch of beauty and otherworldliness brought by the lanterns only adds to the emotion. Why the contraptions haven’t caught on over on this half of the planet I don’t know, but there’s absolutely no denying their beauty.

Mark Northern Thailand down on the list of places I need to get myself to stat.

Rainbow Concoctions

I didn’t exactly make this recipe with blogging in mind, but after it turned out so pretty I thought I’d post it and share with the world!

My sister, a cheesecake aficionado, told me I could make as crazy a cheesecake as I wanted for her 16th birthday. So, as such, I decided to go out and combine this white chocolate cheesecake recipe (minus the brandy sauce, although I’m sure its delicious) and this colorful recipe for a rainbow cheesecake. Baked goods are already the best, but throw in a rainbow and they get even better.

Image

 

 

Basically I followed the white chocolate cheesecake recipe, split the batter into six bowls, died each a different color, and poured one on top of the other. The batter was a little too thick for it to spread properly at first, so I realized pretty quick a little spreading with the spatula was necessary after each layer.

And then, of course, after baking and sitting in the fridge for a while, it completely deflated. But it nonetheless tasted delish and looked gorgeous once you cut inside:

Image 1

 

And I topped it all off with a homemade chocolate syrup sauce. Just save the sauce until after you show off the final product, a glob of brown syrup doesn’t look nearly as nice as a cheesecake rainbow.

So for my first foray into the world of rainbow baking I feel like this ended on a fairly successful note. 🙂 Good luck in all your own culinary adventures and have a lovely Tuesday!

That Time Again

It’s been roughly six months since I posted my article Film OverSaturation, meaning it’s a new film season with a new upcoming film crop. And that means, in turn, it’s about time for me to unveil my new list of most-anticipated movies of the next few years!

I say next few years because some of these projects haven’t even finished casting, much less bearing release dates. In fact, many of the movies from my past two lists (To the Wonder, Ender’s Game, Gangster Squad, Knight of Cups and the Untitled Terrence Malick Project) have yet to hit theaters. And an even greater amount that have long since come and gone from cinemas are still diligently awaiting to be reviewed by yours truly (my bad).

Anyways, without further adieu, here is the unveiling of my newest semi-annual films-to-watch-for list.

11. Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher is based on the true story of multimillionaire and schizophrenic John du Pont, who murdered his friend and Olympic wrestler David Schultz. It will be directed by Bennett Miller, responsible for the award-garnering Moneyball and Capote. The premise promises drama, but most intriguing is the casting: Mark Ruffalo as David Schultz and Steve Carell as killer John du Pont, who replaced original choice Gary Oldman. There’s been a lot of talk regarding the comedian’s ability to play such a serious role, but I’ve many a-time been pleasantly surprised by comedians in dramatic turns; Jim Carrey in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine, Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, and Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, to name a few. Foxcatcher mainly makes my list because I’m so curious to see how Carell’s performance plays out. The film will also feature Sienna Miller, Channing Tatum and Vanessa Redgrave.

10. The Wolf of Wallstreetdicaprio-wolf-nyc-92112sp

Wolf of Wallstreet is a buzzed-about upcoming drama again pairing director Scorsese and leading man Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo will play real-life swindler Jordan Belfort, who was sent to jail for stock market manipulation and fraud, and the film will take an unsparing look at his drug addiction and hard-partying ways. Not gonna lie, this one’s giving me a bit of a ‘look how hard I’m trying to be deep, edgy and relevant’ sort of vibe, but then again, it shows potential.  The cast is rounded out by Jonah Hill (who proved his dramatic acting chops with Moneyball and beat out Chris Evans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for this role), Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal and Ethan Suplee.

9. Twelve Years a Slaveyoung-beasts-of-the-southern-wild-star-quvenzhane-wallis-joins-12-years-a-slave

Director Steve McQueen may bring to mind images of a talking red racecar every time I hear his name, but he is nonetheless being heralded as one of the next great directors of his time. Having helmed previously lauded films Hunger and Shame, he will be teaming up with the incredibly-talented Michael Fassbender a third time for the film adaptation of Twelve Years a Slave, about a black man living in New York who is kidnapped and finds himself sold into slavery. The film will star the underrated and unpronounceable Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, and will feature Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti  and Raising Hope’s constantly overlooked Garret Dillahunt.

8. Sexy Evil Geniusimg01307228695249

A smaller-scale indie that happens to bring together three of my favorite geekdoms under one roof, this film will center around “a group of strangers brought together in a downtown Los Angeles bar by their mutual ex-girlfriend.” This ex-girlfriend, the titular Sexy Evil Genius, will be played by Battlestar Galactica alum Katee Sackhoff, with a cast rounded out by Buffy‘s Michelle Trachtenberg and Seth Green, as well as Lost‘s Harold Perrinau Jr. . I’m not exactly expecting the most original of story lines in this tale of love and revenge, but I’m expecting a lot of fun and a lot of heart.

7. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His/Hersjessica-chastain-james-mcavoy-rigby-set

All I know about the plot is it chronicles “A New York couple’s relationship”. That’s literally it. And judging by the title, their might be some sort of Beatles tie-in. What strikes me is that the story is being told in two separate films: one from the husband’s point of view (His) and one from the wife’s (Hers). While this partly just sounds like a cheap ploy to sell more tickets, the parties involved make me think this is less about audience manipulation and more a legitimate exercise in story-telling. It will star Jessica Chastain as Eleanor Rigby and James McAvoy as Conor Ludlow (the husband, I assume) while also including Ciarán Hinds, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert. Whatever exactly this experimental two-parter reveals itself to be about, count me as among the intrigued!

6. At Swim-Two-Birds200px-FlannO'BrianAtSwimTwoBirds

I’ll say right now, I’ve always loved all things Irish. The landscape, the literature, the folklore, and the accents. Good lord, those accents. Originally a book by Irish author Brian O’Nolan, At Swim-Two-Birds is a rather curious novel composed of student sharing three different stories. These stories eventually begin to intertwine, interspersed with information about our college-attending narrator, as the fictional characters created by the author’s fictional character begin to turn on their creator. How to even begin converting such a story into a coherent film is beyond me, but the cast features the crème de la crème of Irish actors: Cillian Murphy (swoon), Colin Farrell (double swoon), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (fainting), Michael Fassbender (officially unconscious), and Gabriel Byrne (…. I appreciate your work). So basically this all sounds like one big tribute to our beloved Emerald Isle (notice the use of the words our; I have a problem). And it just so happens to be directed by Brendan Gleeson, my favorite crotchety teddy-bear of cinema. I’m stoked.

5. Black Wings Has My Angel

Elliot Chaze’s 50’s crime novel, Black Wings Has My Angel, is undergoing the arduous journey to the big 7-4_chaze-black-wings-bigscreen. The novel follows the escapades of escaped prisoner  Tim Sunblade and his intensive love/hate relationship with call girl and partner-in-crime Virginia. The two partner together to rob an armored truck, and the story follows them through capture and escape, as well as detailing how their ill-gained fortune impacts their character. I like that the familiar plot is being paired with a 50’s setting and southern flavor, and the fact that producer Christopher Peditto fought for ten years to secure rights to the out of print novel suggests it’s a story worth seeing play out. But it’s mostly the cast that piqued my attention: The film will star Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers’  Loki) as Sunblade, Anna Paquin as the backwoods belle, and Elijah Wood in a supporting role.

4. X-Men Days of Future Past

X-Men-FIrst-Class-Magneto

Okay, I’ll start by saying this might be the worst movie title I’ve ever seen. I know sequel subtitles don’t tend to make a lot of sense (they’re generally just impressive looking words nonsensically strung together), but really? Days of Future Past? Your writing team sits down to brainstorm at the conference table and this is all they can come up with? Anyways, despite the title, if you’re at all a fan of superhero movies you have to get excited about this. Involving all our favorite X-men on a time-traveling quest to alter history, the film will combine the casts of both the original X-men trilogy as well a 2011’s prequel, X-Men: First Class. The current cast boasts Jennifer Lawrence as young Mystique, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as both old and young Magneto, James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as young and old Professor X, plus a slew of other characters and a possibility of Halle Berry and James Marsden stepping back into their roles as Storm and Cyclops. Yeah-ha-ha. Get excited.

3. Zero TheoremChristoph+Waltz+Django+Unchained+Press+Line+FiHefbISAWUl

Slated for 2013, this upcoming film directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Dr. Parnassus, Tideland, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, and all other manner of delightfully insane projects) caught my eye, thanks to its attention-grabbing premise and top-notch cast. The current imdb summary reads, “A computer hacker’s goal to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management; this time, they send a teenager and a lusty love interest to distract him.” The story will take place in a 1984-style environment, and it appears ‘the Management’ is a single entity acting as an instructor to our angst-ridden protagonist. This protagonist, Qohen Leth, will be played by one of my top five actors, German import Cristoph Waltz, with Matt Damon as Management and Mélanie Thierry as the ‘lusty love interest’. Zero Theorem will also feature David Thewlis, Tilda Swinton and Ben Whishaw.

2. Winter’s Tale200px-MarkHelprin_WintersTale

Winter’s Tale is a film based on a novel by Mark Helprin, set in a mythical, Victorian-style version of New York City. I haven’t read the book but the general gist seems to be an orphaned boy winds up joining a gang, making enemies of the leader, falling in love with a girl suffering from consumption and happens to come across a flying white horse. The film will be directed and written by Akiva Goldsman, who has served as the screenwriter for TV show Fringe, films I Am Legend and Cinderella Man. The movie will star Colin Farrell, as well as Goldsman’s go-to-boy Will Smith, Russell Crowe, the always-beautiful Matt Bomer, and Jennifer Connelly.

1. Don Jon’s Addiction

I am hopelessly in love with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and have been since his Mysterious Skin days. So the fact that he is writing, directing and starring in 2013’s Don Jon’s Addiction is more than enough to get me excited. It sounds like a typical redemption tale about a modern Don Juan and his attempts to reform. Gordon-Levitt convinced some pretty heavy-hitting actresses, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Brie Larson, to get on board, so I’ve got pretty high hopes. And even if it doesn’t turn out that well, at least I get to stare at Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a few hours.

don-jons-addiction-scarlett-johansson-joseph-gordon-levitt

Honorable Mentions:

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Not gonna lie, I’m ambivalent towards this new let’s-mess-with-The-Wizard-of-Oz craze (See Tin Man, Dorothy of Oz, 2014’s The Wizard of Oz, Drew Barrymore’s Surrender, etc.). I’m a fervid lover of Broadway’s Wicked (not so much the book…), but how many let’s-explore-the-history-of-Oz-and-darken-everything-up stories do we need? But the cast is killer and, gotta be honest, I’m intrigued.

This Is The End

Why hello there again, James Franco! The 60’s had the Rat Pack, the 80’s the Brat Pack, early 2000’s the Frat Pack, and in this decade has emerged what I like to refer to as the Hash Pack, our favorite gang of stoners/comedians. And they’re reunited once again in This Is The End, starring Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride (not a fan, not gonna lie), Jay Baruchel (huge fan, not gonna lie) and Craig Robinson, all as themselves. Over the course of the movie a celebrity party is crashed by the impending apocalypse, and the actors must resolve their differences and fight for their lives. The comedy will include cameos by Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, David Krumholtz, Michael Cera, Martin Starr, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari and Rihanna. It’ll either be Pineapple Express-caliber hilarious, or Your Highness brand of godawful.

Devil In the White City

I never actually got through this book. My friend had it for required reading in high school and told me to look at a passage involving late 1800’s serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes, a historical figure, and the fictionalized account of one of his many very real murders. I got too queasy to finish and haven’t picked the book up since. But if just a few paragraphs of this unsettling story can leave pictures that vivid in my mind, a properly-done film might be able to blow audiences out of the water. And since Leonardo DiCaprio is on board as Holmes, I think we can expect good things. Or horrifying things. But in a good way?

Films I Plan to Avoid:

Romeo and Juliet

I’ve got my 1968 Romeo and Juliet if I feel like being a purist, and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet if I want something artsy and feel like bawling my eyes out. I don’t need any more. How many times has Romeo and Juliet been done? And the majority of those have been straight, like the upcoming 2013 time-appropriate version. We’ve seen it so many times before, not just through different versions of Shakespeare’s classic but through pretty much every story/film romance since it was penned. Do we need to see it again? The film will star True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet, pretty boy Douglas Booth as Romeo (untried, but he has been cast as Pip in an adaptation of Great Expectations and Shem in Noah, which almost made this list…), with Paul Giamatti, Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick and Stellan Skarsgard.

Justice League

In the Justice League vs. Avengers debate I’ve always sort of placed myself in the DC camp, mostly because I didn’t really know about The Avengers existence until the movie was announced. But even though I’ve got a place in my heart for the Justice League, any attempt at a film kinda just seems like a cheap attempt to compete with The Avengers (and I use ‘cheap’ as a turn of phrase, I don’t even want to think about how much money’s gonna get poured into this). Plus, while Avengers made a bold move and combined a collection of previously-established superhero film franchises, Justice League  plans to ignore all previous installments (that means Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and the upcoming Man of Steel) and supplant both with new versions of and background story for Batman and Superman. I mean, we’re already on our second Superman reboot within a seven-year span, and Dark Knight was so fantastic, do we really want to see either of these characters redone so soon?

Untitled Batman Reboot

Speaking of which, there’s already a Batman reboot planned for 2015. Because if there’s any superhero franchise that really needs an update, it would be Batman.

Here’s to a New Year

One More Thing…

So, it’s been a while since I blew off the dust on my beloved Zebu. It’s so much easier to keep up with a project like this when it’s for a grade. But since I’m stuck in Amherst New Hampshire for an entire month for winter break with pretty much nothing to do, I thought I might as well try to be a little productive and get in some writing.

Since most of my days have consisted of lying in bed under three layers of quilts, watching Netflix for hours on end and gorging myself on all ungodly manner of junk food, I’m having trouble coming up with something thrilling to write about.

I could talk about my New Year’s attempt to go on a 7-day paleo diet (For all you crazy cats out there who don’t hate yourselves and therefore have never considered a paleo diet, it basically means subsisting on meat and plants humans could’ve gotten their hands on back in the caveman days. That means no grain, no dairy, no sugar, and no happiness).

This isn’t exactly my first healthy-eating kick. They start out well; I can get through breakfast with my detox smoothie and my lunch of kale and tomato salad. But a few days in they all end in similar manners; generally involving me, a roll of raw cookie dough and a tub of ice cream.

Day 1!

Day 1!

junk-food-binge

Halfway through Day 1.

And I could write about my attempted new exercise regimen, required in part by my crew team coach but also a genuine, self-motivated attempt to get healthy, involving hour-long workouts where I strut from machine to machine and pretend I kinda know what I’m doing. I will take this moment to gush about how much I love being fit. The ability to put your body in a crazy situation and just feel how capable it is of handling the workload, there’s basically nothing better. Empowering would definitely be solid word choice.

Note: This is actually me. My  body looks like this.Post-Note Note: lol jk. /sob

Note: This is actually me. My body looks like this.
Post-Note Note: lol jk. /sob

And oh hey, now that I’ve rambled for half a post I’ve finally discovered the best and most non-cliché topic to write about: my New Year’s resolutions! So let’s see, I guess we have to begin with… A title, actually, it can’t be a list of New Year’s resolutions without a title.

Amy Butenhof’s

2013 New Year’s Resolutions

1. Be Healthier. That means keep up daily visits to the gym, whether or not I choose to remain part of a certain athletic club, as well as try to subsist more on kale and Greek yogurt and less on Jif and Ben and Jerry’s.

2. Get More Involved. Do a play, join an a cappella group or get on board as editor of or contributor to a campus newspaper. I feel like I’ve gotten really comfortable where I am and although I love the people I’ve surrounded myself with at college, there’s more I could be doing, and ample room to push myself.

3. Take Steps to Plan Out and Prepare Myself for my Future Career. So right now the plan is to become an English Education major and teach English in high schools. I’m taking all the necessary classes, sure, but I want to find a job that ties into my chosen field, and definitely work to scout out an abroad program that will cater to this chosen path (Florence Italy, here I come!!).

4. Do Something #Reckless. As I said earlier I’ve gotten pretty comfortable where I am, and although I like to entertain ideas of cross-country road trips, tattoos and working as a princess in Disney World (it’s gonna happen), it’s always with the mindset that these crazy adventures need to be put off until later. After college, after I have find a job, after my masters, after I’ve earned enough money. But keep putting things off and later will start to look a lot like never, so I’ve made a promise to myself that at least one of these crazy things is going to get ticked off the checklist in the upcoming year.

5. Write. It’s what I love to do, but I so rarely make sure to set aside time for it. I’m promising myself I’m going to find time every week to write something, not for school or work, just something for myself. And this blog happens to be a rather convenient vehicle for keeping up this particular resolution.

There you go, my five New Year’s resolutions, which I’m determined to uphold and not let fall to the wayside as so many past resolutions have been wont to do. And, assuming I uphold resolution number 5, I’ll keep you all posted on how the other four are faring.

And with that, good luck with your own resolutions (if you’ve made any) and here’s to ridiculous idealist attitudes brought on by the dawning of a new year. /clink.

Cheers!

Cheers!