March 26, 2016

Me and Naked Anthony Bourdain

Sometimes people appear in my dream and I had no idea they were even in my head; people I haven't seen or talked to in years and years, famous people...
I've kept a dream journal since 2001 and I have to say, there is some weird shit in mind is a very strange dwelling. Some of the famous people who've appeared are Michael Jordan, Al Pacino, Paul McCartney and the pope.
Last night my dream starred Anthony Bourdain, of all people. Why Anthony Bourdain? Undoubtedly that came from a book I've been reading called My Last Supper (thank you Mikki, for the early b'day present), where famous chefs answer questions about what their final meal would be, where, with whom, etc., and Bourdain is one of the chefs.
And there are pictures that accompany each spread - some normal, some funny, some bizarre... and here is Bourdain's.
The dream wasn't all that interesting (he wasn't naked) but he was very charming and very tall.
He started chatting me up as we waited in a line for something, and after a while I could see he was getting interested in me, which was amazing since I'd just come from the gym and my hair was a fright and I had on no makeup.
Every night there's a little adventure in my brain.

March 21, 2016

Movie Review: 'Tis the Season...

Oscar season is over, it's way too early in the year to release a film that might be a contender for next year's awards so what's being released now are the throwaways. If you're looking for a movie to see right now you should be aware: 'Tis The Season of Stupidity.

Two cases in point:

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, the Tina Fey vehicle. Immensely stupid. Tina Fey has an engaging screen presence no matter what she's doing but this film isn't worthy of a review. I couldn't sit for more than an hour of this.
0 stars

Hello, My Name is Doris, the Sally Field vehicle. Almost more stupid than Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot but I sat through it. If you can buy the concept that a sixty-something woman (even an adorable little woman like Sally Field) believes that a cute (not as hunky as the movie would have you believe) 30-something would be interested in her romantically, well...then maybe you'll like this. I couldn't and I didn't. Too stupid for me. I do love Sally Field and she does her best in the role but I couldn't get into the story at all. And I hated her clothes.
1 star

Meanwhile, some others I've seen recently:
Eddie the Eagle - A silly little movie that's over-directed in parts (mostly the downhill crash scenes, which no one could survive yet he just gets up and does it again), but sweet, too.
3-1/2 stars

Race - Well-done, well-written, well-acted, touching story.
4-1/2 stars

The Finest Hour - Melodramatic, crazy music, terrible direction.
2 stars

February 28, 2016

The Academy Awards: Should Acceptable be the New Exceptional?

I look forward to the Academy Awards all year long; I've seen all the nominated films, I read all the press, I watch Entertainment Tonight - I keep up with it all. It's 5:00p on Oscar night and I'll soon turn on the TV and watch all the Red Carpet hoo-hah until the Oscars begin.
But before I do that I just have to say I'm a little weary of all the grousing about how 'white' the Oscars are this year. I don't see that there's any 'snubbing' of people of color. I believe the Academy judges the films on  excellence in film making. Should they also judge by who wrote/produced/directed/acted in the film? Wouldn't that compromise the quality of the awards?
I believe in equality. I believe everyone has the same opportunity. I believe that people like Jada Pinkett Smith should do something to right what she thinks is wrong, instead of boycotting this celebration which will serve no real purpose. She has enough money to hire people of color to write great scripts and then to produce them and then to hire amazing black directors and actors. If there are no black people up for Oscars this year maybe it's because other performances/films outshone them.
It's not snubbing. It's rewarding excellence, regardless of color. That's equality.
Should 'acceptable' be the new 'exceptional' so we have more diversity?

February 26, 2016

The Good and The Bad of Writing

Let's get the bad out of the way: Writing is tough. Not that it isn't fun, but it's not an easy process and even if you finish a book or two, it's certainly not easy to get published. But if you love to write then you write. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Harry Bernstein

And here's the good: You can write whenever you want; you don't need any special equipment, you don't need a partner, you don't even have to get dressed. Just sit down at your computer, or whip out your favorite notebook, and start writing. All you need is motivation and inspiration.

Maybe you started writing in your youth, without success. If you gave up back then, but you still love writing, then get back to it. It doesn't matter how old you are.
If you need inspiration check out this post from one of my favorite writing sites: Live, Write, Thrive
about late-blooming writers (of which I'm proudly one).

February 11, 2016

Recipe: Savory Appetizer Cookies

Here's how I fake myself out when I want something sweet but I'm trying to stay away from sugar (which I'm addicted to): I make savory appetizer cookies. These are Cheddar Thumbprint cookies with Pepper Jelly. They're not exactly like eating an Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie (that's a sinful recipe for another time) but for some reason I look at these little beauties and my brain says, "Yay! A cookie!" so I'm satisfied, and I won't eat an entire tray of them, as I might if they were laden with gooey chocolate and filled with sugar.
Did I mention I'm addicted to sugar?
There's no sugar in the dough, but lots of butter and cheese (I never said they were good for you) so they're like shortbread, and they're delicious. And that little spicy bit of pepper jelly is just the right contrast.
Great to accompany a bowl of chili, or ham and bean soup, or just for a snack with an ice-cold beer.

Cheddar Thumbprints with Pepper Jelly
Makes 24 cookies

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 tbs butter, softened
1 cup flour
¾ tsp house spice (salt, pepper, garlic powder)
Pinch of cayenne
1/3 cup pepper jelly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, mix cheese, butter, flour, and spices until it looks like peas. Pinch together enough dough to form into one inch balls and place on a prepared pan, 1” apart. 

Bake 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and press an indentation into the dough, using the end of a wooden spoon. Fill with ¼ teaspoon jelly and return to oven; bake additional 10 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. 
Remove to wire rack and cool completely. 

January 17, 2016

Movie Review: Mad Max Fury Road *

Mad Max: Fury Road is nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
Granted, I'm not a fan of this genre, but isn't the true test how many people outside the genre it appeals to?
There's a lot of shtick here: the sexy babes in skimpy clothing, the endless car chase, the pyrotechnics, the snarling. And then there are the characters I didn't care about.
The only good things about this film:
1. It has zero chance of winning the Oscar.
2. I watched it on HBO so didn't have to pay for it.
One star out of five for Mad Max Fury Road.

January 16, 2016

Movie Review: The Revenant ***

Have you ever used the word revenant before? I guess it takes a Mexican (Director Alejandro González Iñárritu) to teach us a cool new word.
Here's how to use it in a sentence:
1. This film is revenant. (Definition: half an hour too long, so be sure to get a snack.)
2. The situation in this film is revenant. (Definition: preposterous, so be prepared to suspend disbelief.)
It's beautifully filmed and well-acted, and excruciatingly gory. I can take a lot of gore but even I winced a few times. The bear-mauling scene is, of course, really hard to watch. But, voila! he not only survives that, but he's resurrected (making him the revenant) by revenge, and during his long, crawling journey he manages to save a young Indian girl from rape, ride a horse off a cliff and (even though the horse dies) once again survive, and then he guts the horse and crawls into it for shelter. That's a charming scene.
Much of this film is DiCaprio crawling through gorgeous, frozen scenery. And then he crawls some more, and then he gets to his feet and limps along for twenty more minutes, and then just when you're so bored of all that walking, he walks some more, without a limp now, for twenty more minutes.
I needed this story to move along - I got his passion to survive - how could I not, when it's thrown in my face over and over again.
Is The Revenant an Academy Award winner? Obviously not in my book. Is it a great film? It's a good film that would have been better if it were shorter. Will it win? Probably. But there are other films that, in my opinion, are more deserving of the award.
Three out of five stars for The Revenant.