Monday, August 30, 2010

Piranha 3D - Movie Review

Dave and I went to go see this with a friend of ours, in the hopes of an amusingly bad horror flick. That's what it looks like in the previews, doesn't it? There were some laughs, don't get me wring, they were just few and far between, and overshadowed by so much blood and guts I was occasionally nauseous. It takes quite a lot to bother me and make me turn my head from the screen, but I caught myself doing that a few times in this movie. I was warned about one scene, by Jocelyn and I will pass the warning along - do not look during the propeller scene. You'll know when you get to it, and you'll thank me.

The main character in this film, Jake, is played by Steven R. McQueen, the 22 year old grandson of the great Steve McQueen. Steven has yet to gain the acting talent of his grandfather, and hopefully he will do so soon, or I fear we will not see much of him. Jake is the son of the sheriff in town, played by Elisabeth Shue. The location is Lake Victoria, an apparently fictional hot-spot for college spring break madness. I have never heard of college students going to a lake for spring break, but maybe that's just me.

As it is spring break, and as Lake Victoria is a go-to place for drunken college kids, there are a lot of boobs. I repeat, A LOT of boobs. I think, it fact, there may be more boobs than piranhas. If all you want in a movie is full frontal, female nudity, and screaming 20-somethings being ripped to shreds by fish the size and shape of a football, then Piranha 3D is the movie for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for some witty dialogue and a half interesting plot, you might want to save the $15.

As the title proudly proclaims, it is in 3D. It wasn't supposed to be, however. When the movie first went into production, it was, and then it wasn't, and then it was again. This back and forth is painfully obvious, as it clearly wasn't actually filmed in 3D. The screen is occasionally so dark you can't actually see anything, and there is a sequence at the beginning where I had to take the glasses off to uncross my eyes.

Now that I have soundly trashed the movie, I would like to list the few things I enjoyed about it. Elisabeth Shue was, as always, good. Jerry O'Connell was amusing as a truly lecherous porn director. The piranhas were pretty creepy looking. Richard Dreyfus, Christopher Lloyd and Ving Rhames were all in it, but had a collective 10 minutes of screen time, so I'm pretty sure this was a paycheck movie for them.

So, yea. Not my favorite. Not really that fun, and certainly not worth the insane price for a 3D movie ticket.

IMDb movie link

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Baron LeClub - the swashbuckling seal

A few weeks ago I was in the process of transferring my bokmarks from Safari to Firefox (if someone more technologically inclined can tell me how to do this in any way better than one link at a time, please do) when I ran across a website I found years ago full of fluffy happiness. is home to a large amount of enormous stuffed animals, most of which are adorable to the point of squeal-inducing. I say 'most' because the giraffe is kinda ugly, and looks more like a lovechild of Bambi and Marlon Brando than anything else. To my great delight, unlike the last time I looked at the animal inventory, Squishable had acquired a stuffed seal. A few, in fact, and I instantly fell in love with the harbor seal.

I sent Dave an email containing the link, with the heading "CAN I HAVE THIS PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE?!?!?!?!?!", really meaning it as a joke. Two weeks later, this arrived in the mail.

He is adorable, and I love him, and I literally cuddled in bed with him for two hours after I released him from his cardboard prison.

A quick side note on packing: Is it really necessary to pack a stuffed animal in a box twice it's size, and surround it with 23 inflated plastic cushions? What harm could possibly befall something that comes from a website called 'Squishable'? Needless to say, he was fine. He did, however, need a name.

All of my stuffed animals have names, and usually they just come to me, but for whatever reason, I had difficulty naming this one. I turned to Facebook for help, and got suggestions ranging from 'Seal' to 'Spot'. None seemed to fit. Then a friend of mine with a sick sense of humor suggested 'Clubby'. This was a bit too cutesy for my taste, but Baron LeClub had just the right amount of twisted humor and coolness that this giant cuddly thing deserves. I have yet to procure the eye-patch necessary to complete the Baron's look, but I hope to do so soon.

The Baron, as Dave and I refer to him, has taken up permanent residence in our bed. One or the other of us will clasp him tightly as we sleep, and I have been awoken more than once by Dave prodding me in the face, using The Baron as a poking device. He also sings to him. I was shutting my computer down for the night and from the bed I heard,
"Me and my seal, together forever.
Me and my seal, best friends forever."
Sometimes I fear I am engaged to a toddler in a man's body.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Apple Pie!

No, this is not The Pie - those of you who know me are aware of what this is, those who don't will have to wait until Thanksgiving for that recipe. This is a plain, old, very delicious apple pie that my dad used to make all the time. It can be found in James Beard's American Cookery - a book that was to American cuisine for Americans what Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to French cuisine for Americans. It has everything from cocktail food to candy, and a copy has been in my family's kitchen for as long as I can remember. But I digress.

The main issue I have with pies is that I love eating them, but I don't really like cooking them. The filling usually isn't a problem - unless its lemon meringue - but the crust is a bitch and 3/4. At least. It crumbles and sticks to the rolling pin and falls apart when you try to put it in the pan, and by the time you're done your already hot kitchen seems like you have somehow fallen into the oven itself and sweat is dripping down your back and you don't even want to eat the pie anymore because everything sucks!

So when Beard says that you can start with the filling or the crust, it is simply a matter of preference, I'd advise starting with the filling, because by the time you are done with the crust, you won't want to do anything else, possibly ever.

Apple Pie Filling
5 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced apples
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
lemon juice (optional)
pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie

Slice the apples into a bowl, add sugar, cinnamon and salt. Put in the refrigerator until the crust is done.*Seriously, that's all you have to do with the filling. It's hella easy.*

Pastry for a Two-Crust 9-inch Pie
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups shortening
1/4 cup cold water

Sift the flour with the salt or stir together with a fork. Add the shortening and cut it through with a fork, or rub between fingers until the mixture is in pieces about the size of a pea.
Add water a few drops at a time and mash together with one hand to combine the water evenly. The dough should not be wet, but just moist enough to hold together in a ball. The type of flour and the temperature of the mixture will make a difference as to how much water you need, so be attentive. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes if it seems too soft.

Take out between slightly more than a half to two thirds of the dough for the undercrust (depending on how thin you want the top crust to be).
Roll it out, fit it to the pie pan, and trim the edge.

*This little sentence sounds so easy. It isn't. It is the most time consuming part of the pie making experience. It helps to roll the dough out onto wax paper, so you don't have to peel it off a table. Also make sure to dust your rolling pin with flour, so it too doesn't stick.*

Put the filling into the pie crust, dot the apples with butter. Roll out the top crust and wet the edge of the undercrust. Place the top crust on top of the apples, pinching the two crust together so they seal. Cut vents in the top of the crust, preferably large enough that you can see the apples underneath - this allows you to check that it is done cooking without piercing the crust.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 20-35 minutes more, depending on the variety of apples used. Sweeter, softer apples require less cooking time. Allow to cool and solidify for at least 45 minutes. Serve with cream, ice cream, or cheddar cheese.

The crust really was an incredible pain, and I'm not terribly inclined to do it again soon, but its deliciousness makes up for it. You really can't beat a homemade pie crust. I'm going to go eat more.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My fiance and I, and our relationship with food

Dave and I love food.

Yes, everyone loves to eat - it is rather vital to our existence, so the majority of people enjoy eating. There is a difference, however, between loving to eat, and loving food.

There are very few things that I do not like eating - tomatoes, eggplant, mollusks - and fortunately for us, they are the same few things that Dave will not eat. To be fair, he is a little more picky than me - he doesn't like cheese (who doesn't like cheese?!). He will protest and say, "I do like cheese, if it's in something", like pizza or salad, but that still means he can't enjoy a nice slab of Wensleydale with cranberries*. Shameful.

When we went to see Julie & Julia, we saw quite a lot of ourselves in Julia and Paul Child. I rather agree with Julia's sentiment of 'what I really love to do is eat'. If I could find an occupation that allowed me to eat, travel and write, I would be happy for life. Food is a passion of ours - finding new places to eat, new cuisines to try - part of the reason we love visiting New York City so much is that you can find almost anything to eat.

This does not mean, however, that we are food snobs. Amazing meals are wonderful - Asian cuisine is a shared favorite, and we will eat just about anything with garlic or mango or shrimp. On the other hand, if we are on the road, Arby's is a common solution to hunger pains. A month or so ago, I went all out and made a three-course meal based on crepes. Tonight, we shared a rotisserie chicken - to hungry to bother taking it out of the plastic contaner it came home in, we tore at it with our bare hands and ate like ravenous hyenas. Seriously. I said that a little savagery never hurt anyone - Dave said that he would sooner eat our children than let them eat like that. I imagine that parenting will bring forth a whole new set of issues.

When we grow up (I still use that 2nd grade phrase, despite being 23, because I simply do not yet feel like an adult) I want an amazing kitchen. I don't really care about the rest of the house - though a jacuzzi bath would be lovely - I just want a fully stocked, massive kitchen where I can make anything. And, of course, enough money to buy the ingredients with.

*He is trying. We recently ate at a restaurant where one of the appetizers was baked brie with apple butter. I had to have it. We both loved it. But still. He hates cheese curds. Makes me want to weep.