28 July 2011

Blueberry Crumble Bars

Another wonderful contribution from Erica's Sweet Tooth, only she made hers with mixed berries.  I did that the first time I made a batch but they were far too moist-- even though I kept the strawberries to 1 cup-- and turned to mush after a day.  I highly recommend keeping it straight blueberries AND sprinkle a bit of sugar on top for crunch.  Yum!

Quick Fire Movie Reviews: July

With the exception of Harry Potter, I can't justify spending movie theater prices for the less than entertaining films Hollywood has released lately.  So this review round is for RENTALS.

Burlesque: Normally, a concoction of Xtina, Cher, Stanley Tucci, stilettos, and peek-a-boo outfits all wrapped in a musical package with an over-the-top glittery bow is a recipe for fantastic.  And let me say, Burlesque has its moments (not really) BUT... I was bored.  It's the same Cinderella story about the same small town girl with the same big talent (hey! this gal can sing-- give her a record deal!) trying to make it in show business-- all of which I knew-- but the lack of Cher and overabundance of Xtina made the film more painful than fun.  See it if you like this sort of thing, but have your fast forwarding finger ready.

Faster: Originally we rented Faster as a "Good Bad Film" rental, aka a movie that takes itself seriously yet is completely ridiculous and cheesy.  Surprisingly... it was actually a serious film with a powerful story about revenge and a great performance by Dwayne Johnson (how far he's come from Smackdown).  If you like a darker, grittier story then check it out.

Dylan Dog: Oh my... what can I say about this movie... don't bother.  It's not horribly offensive, gory, scary, funny, entertaining-- nothing.  Dyaln Dog is simply boring.  It's so dull I can't even make the review interesting.  The jokes fall flat and I'm not sure if that's because of the writing, directing, acting, or everyone was hoping for a quick buck.  Brandon Roth is usually great. I have a feeling the graphic novel about an investigator for the undead "living" among us is far more interesting than the film.  

Limitless: First let me say-- Bradley Cooper is the type of guy who will become more and more delicious as he gets older... and those eyes.  Back to the point, Limitless was a good film and has me intrigued for the book (yes, like most interesting plot-based movies, this too was an adaptation).  It's intense and has you asking: what would you do if you could take a pill that made you limitless?  And I wasn't entirely sure about where the film was going and if it would work out, but the last 30 minutes really brought everything together.  A must rent.

Source Code: If you love Chicago and have a blu-ray player... SEE THIS IN BLU-RAY!  It's beautiful. At first I really liked the film-- I became invested in Jake's character, the story (even though it was incredibly predictable... all the way through the end)-- but then it ended.  The ending went just one step too far and that's when I became confused... like Inception confused.  But with Inception I'll allow it because you know going into the film that there are layers upon layers of realities to be discovered; with Source Code they take the time to explain what's going on throughout the movie... then contradict it at the end.  ARGH!
If you like to think about films after you watch them, avoid this movie-- it will just make you angry.

Sucker Punch: This film is HORRIBLE.  Being from the director of Watchmen (awful) and 300 (good) you can expect great visuals: color themes, unique costumes, and lots and LOTS of slow motion.  While slow motion can be a great visual accent in action scenes, Zack Snyder's overuse of it made the action boring and repetitive-- we fast forwarded after awhile.  And then there's the sad sack of a story: you need a stiff drink after watching this film.  Yikes. Part of the problem could be that Snyder wrote, directed, and produced the film; in other words, he bit off way more than he could chew. Definitely felt sucker punched after watching this movie.

And finally...

The Mechanic: That's right, it's Jason Statham in a typical Jason Statham film!  How can you not love Jason Statham doing what he does best: kicking ass and taking names?  Well... he didn't kick that much ass and took almost no names in this film.  It's more about him training a younger "Jason" to be an assassin-- nothing we haven't seen before.  And then there's the usual random sex scene.  This is definitely not a worthy "Good Bad Film."

20 July 2011

End of an Era

Even if you live under a rock-- though you wouldn't read my blog if you do-- you are probably aware of a small movie premiere last weekend: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  It's the eighth and final film in the Harry Potter movie series, opened in over 4,000 theaters across the country in 2D, 3D, and IMAX, and had the largest box office opening of a film ever in the history of the world.  No big deal.

Being a film and fantasy nerd, I, of course, had tickets to the midnight release in 3D. Normally I prefer 2D as the 21st century interpretation of the third dimension is a joke, but 3D was all they had left and beggars can't be choosers, right?  Thus my husband and I arrived at the Appleton movie theater two hours before our showtime to snag decent seats... and it's a darn good thing we did because the place was hopping!  I know this seems like common sense to you cool urban and suburbanites, but northern Wisco doesn't always jump on the Geek Train like you'd expect.  When we saw Part 1 up here a couple years ago, we didn't buy midnight tickets until the day of and got in without a hitch.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see an array of kids, teens, and adults sporting Trelawney glasses, homemade T-shirts, and full on costumes hours before the bell tolled twelve.  My favorite costumes in our theater were  an older man (like in his 50's older) as Dumbledore-- he even had a wand from the Harry Potter theme park!-- Professor Trelawney and Tonks (dyed hair and all), and finally Mad Eye Moody, complete with walking stick and glass eye. Amazing.

Unfortunately our actual film watching experience wasn't too great.  My husband had some annoying too-cool-for-school jock next to him making snide comments the entire time (dumb ass should've left), the 3D glasses were especially annoying to wear over my real glasses, and the speakers buzzed (like BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ) the whole time-- and if you've seen the film you know there are several key moments that are super quiet.  Needless to say we should go for one more theater viewing.  Though I liked much of the film, it seemed to dwell on scenes that didn't require extra time and placed little to no emphasis on a few key parts (like Fred's death).  I'm not going to do any type of review because you've probably already seen the film; all I have to say is, if you're a fan of the films and books then just see the movie so you too can relate to everyone else.  :)

I would, however, like to briefly reflect on this magical journey provided to me by J.K. Rowling for more than half my life.  On Friday I turn 26 (hooray for birthdays!) and this milestone coupled with the release of HP7P2 made me realize that I've had a relationship with Harry Potter (I promise I'm not a pedophile) and his adventures for 15 years! I began the books at age 11-- the same age Harry was when Hagrid broke down the Dursley's door on that secluded island and said, "Yer a wizard, Harry"-- and am one of the small but fortunate generation that actually grew up with Harry Potter himself.  I love that I have such an experience; it brings the books and Harry's story that much closer to my heart.

The story of how I got into the books is similar to most: my brothers and I received the first three books as a Christmas gift from an aunt (who had a reputation for giving odd presents).  We were less than thrilled, especially since we'd never heard of J.K. Who and Harry Whatshisname-- plus books rank right above clothing as "Presents Kids Love to Get."  Thankfully I enjoyed reading even as a youngin' so I took advantage of the time off Christmas allowed and the rest is history.  It's funny to remember a time before Harry, Ron, and Hermione became household names and wearing black rimmed glasses was cool, but how exciting to see literary history made before our eyes.  My children will never know life without Harry Potter and that's okay, but it's a shame future generations won't get to experience the anticipation for the next book in a series, hanging out at Borders (so sad they're closing) for a BOOK's midnight release-- I was working there when the 7th book came out-- dressing up for movie premieres... we're truly lucky to have known such a phenomenon.  I wonder what the next one will be...

05 July 2011

Current Favorites: July 2011

It's that time of the month again!  No... not that time... here are my CURRENT FAVORITES!
Teavana Loose Leaf Tea-- One of the perks of working here is unlimited free drinks on your shift.  How much tea can you really drink, you ask?  A lot when it comes to the tasty variety of teas offered by Teavana, not to mention the unending combinations.  I'm obsessed. 

Starbucks Iced Coffee-- Because I adore the JavaVana Mate iced tea lightly sweetened with a teaspoon of cream... I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try iced coffee.  It's delish with a bit of flavoring and a tiny amount of Half and Half! A refreshing summer boost.

Thread Earrings-- I have these in coral with a gold frame from Charming Charlie's.  I just wish I had more outfits to wear them with.

Shark Bite Tanks-- This is a nice one from Lane Bryant, but the one I got from there is gray with a lovely black and silver rose print.  They're figure flattering (for me anyway), comfortable, and an easy look to accessorize.

Jessie J-- You might be more familiar with her song "Price Tag" but "Do It Like a Dude" (this specific rendition of it) is awesome.  Jessie J is one of a few artists who is BETTER LIVE than recorded.  Hopefully I can see her in concert over and over again!

Graham Norton-- Whenever I'm feeling blue or having a blah day, GN never fails to make me laugh out loud. Never. The new season on BBC America just started but I record the reruns as well because this show is that much fun.  Of course I do have quite the Brit obsession...

Hope you check out some of my faves and have a great July!  Are you into anything new?