Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Love for Chris Brown's New Album

Found this courtesy of my long-time favorite blog List of the Day!

Check it out here:

Chris Brown Review

Kitchen Adventures: Orange Juice Cookies

I'm a typical college student in that my cooking repertoire consists of Easy Mac, frozen pizza, and various things you can prepare in a toaster. I've become determined as of late to change that, but wasn't sure where to start. My mom gave me a copy of Eat This: You'll Feel Better, Dom DeLuise's first cookbook, for my birthday. She had seen reviews that said his recipes were easy to follow, plus I've always liked Italian food.

Trying to cook an entree was intimidating to me, so I figured a dessert recipe was a good baby step before trying something else from the book. After all, I've been helping with baking (and later doing it on my own) since I was about 4 years old. I chose his recipe for Orange Juice Cookies because we already had all the ingredients on hand.

As I set to work, I thought I had read the book wrong because the recipe said to mix the wet ingredients in a blender. I frowned curiously at the page. Yeah, it definitely said "blender."

"Well, you were the gourmet, Dom," I said fondly. He'd been one of my grandma's favorite celebrities; his voice had more or less been the soundtrack of my childhood via classic cartoons like Oliver & Company and An American Tail.

Once the dough was mixed, it had to be kneaded by hand. I stand an impressive five-foot-even, making this task a little difficult. I had dough almost the way up to my elbows when I realized it needed more flour, because it was incredibly sticky. Not surprising since there was orange juice in the batter. Now I just had to figure out how to add more flour without getting this goo all over the entire kitchen. Eventually, I was able to put the flour in and make the dough the right consistency.

I rolled out the cookies and popped them in the oven. The second issue I encountered was that I ended up having to bake them a lot longer than the time listed in the recipe. I had no trouble making the orange juice glaze to dip the cookies in once they were baked. They tasted slightly chalky, probably because I ended up adding too much flour. Overall, though, they were pretty good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive, Part 2

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Downtown Harlan


Coal Miners' Memorial

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive: A Photo Essay

 I have been a huge fan of the show Justified ever since the premiere of the pilot. I can empathize with Raylan Givens's feelings toward his home state of Kentucky, seeing as I'm also a lifelong resident. I was quite excited to hear that an exhibit of show props and memorabilia was coming to Harlan. My dad has never seen the show but wanted to go see what the exhibit was like. He took the day off work and we made the 2 1/2-hour drive to Harlan. Below are just a few of the pictures I took.

"In the deep, dark hills of Eastern Kentucky..."
"...That's the place where I trace my bloodline..."

Harlan during its heyday as a coal town

A Furby that met an untimely end during Season 2

Family portrait of villainess Mags Bennett

Poster autographed by Timothy Olyphant *swoon*

Harlan County's #1 bad boy: Boyd Crowder

TV's favorite U.S. Marshals: Art Mullens, Tim Gutterson, Rachel Brooks,
and, of course, the man himself--Raylan Givens

Rockin' my souvenir T-shirt

Dad and I also explored some of the other local landmarks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Magic Mike"

Image source

Let me begin by saying that I wasn't a huge Channing Tatum fan going into this movie. In fact, the only things I'd ever seen him in up to that point were 21 Jump Street and an old episode of CSI: Miami (although I didn't know it was him at the time). However, the trailers that prominently featured his perfectly sculpted abs were enough to convince me that this was a movie I could not miss.

I've gone to movies by myself before and I have no problem doing so, but I felt this experience would be best shared. I brought my mom and long-time best friend with me to the theater. The place was incredibly crowded for a Sunday afternoon matinee. Not surprisingly, the audience was almost entirely female. My best friend and I counted a total of 4 guys. There didn't seem to be one single target demographic for the fairer sex; I saw girls that were definitely too young to be at an R-rated movie all the way up to little old ladies.

The movie follows the life of Mike (Channing Tatum), a male stripper in Tampa, Florida. His dream is to own his own business designing and building custom furniture, but he can't get a start-up loan because he has no credit. In an effort to make his dream come true by earning the cash to get the business off the ground himself, Mike has several day jobs, including one as a roofer. One day on a roofing site, he meets a new worker named Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

Adam ends up being fired on his first day because he took an extra Pepsi from the cooler at the job site. Mike gives him a ride home. He feels bad about the guy losing his job, so he decides to take Adam out and show him a good time. He has to sneak Adam into the nightclub since Adam is only 19. Once inside, they run into a group of sorority girls, one of whom is celebrating her 21st birthday; they think Adam is just adorable. Mike slips the girls a promo flyer for the Xquisite male dance revue and invites them to attend that night's performance. He promises them that Adam will be there.

Mike takes Adam over to Xquisite, which is run by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). When Dallas finds out Adam is under 21, he initially wants him out of the place for fear of losing his liquor license (and therefore his business). Mike says they can just stick Adam backstage, let him run props for the night, and give him a cut of their tips. One thing leads to another and Adam actually ends up stripping onstage under the name "The Kid." At first, he's desperately uncomfortable. He quickly changes his mind at the end of the night when Dallas informs him that the dancers get to keep every dime of the considerable tips they make.

When Mike drives Adam home, he meets and immediately develops a crush on Adam's older sister Brooke. Everything seems to go fairly smoothly for a while, but the darker side of the business catches up to Adam. Not satisfied with his income, he teams up with the club's DJ Tobias (played by Gabriel "I'm not fat, I'm fluffy" Iglesias), who deals ecstacy on the side. It isn't long before Adam becomes a drug addict. Brooke blames Mike for her brother's new-found problems.

The drug plotline came as a bit of shock to my entire group. It comes in at around the halfway point of the movie. Up until then, it's a fairly light movie about male strippers. We discussed it afterwards and none of us cared for that part of the movie. It probably would've been a different story if the trailers had even hinted at the subplot instead of making it look like a "stripper with a heart of gold" romantic comedy.

Speaking of the stripping, two words: Oooh, Lordy! Channing Tatum actually was a stripper before he became an actor and it shows in the way he takes command of every dance scene. Matthew McConaughey didn't do too bad himself during his solo numbers. However, I was disappointed by the caliber of the dance moves displayed by every other stripper in the revue, particularly Adam Rodriguez. I always loved him on CSI: Miami and figured there was no way I could be disappointed seeing him shirtless in a movie...well, I kinda was. I couldn't help thinking the producers or somebody figured that with a real ex-stripper in the movie, they didn't have to bother teaching anyone else how to dance. Alex Pettyfer's performance can be forgiven since he was playing the new guy.

I also really enjoyed the way that the dance sequences were filmed. The camera angles made me feel like I had a ringside table at Xquisite. I almost reached into my purse for some singles once or twice (haha). Having never been to a male strip club, I would have to guess that songs like "It's Raining Men" and "My Pony" are pretty appropriate for the setting. The original number "Ladies of Tampa" performed by Matthew McConaughey bare-chested in leather chaps was really funny too.

Part of what makes a movie fun for me is the way the audience experiences it. Magic Mike had without a doubt the rowdiest crowd in my movie-going memory. My best friend and I kept looking at each other and saying "Oh my God" every time a stripper routine came on, our jaws dropped to the floor. Pretty much every woman in the crowd shrieked audibly at least once, usually when Channing Tatum started doing his thing.

Overall, I'd give this movie a 7/10. It's a lot of fun and very sexy for us ladies, but I took points off for the drug dealing B-plot and some of the poorer dancing by the cast. Definitely recommend it! Great girls' night bonding experience!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 10 Quotes: "Young Guns II"

This was another popular post from the blog's previous incarnations:

1. Billy: I'll make ya famous!

2. (Chavez has just recited one of Doc's poems)
Doc: I never wrote that. I always meant to tell ya. William Shakespeare wrote it.

3. Arkansas Dave: (says variations of this line throughout the movie) You do know who I am, don't ya? I'm Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh. Ever hear of me? I killed 65 men, not countin' Mexicans and Indians.

4. Brushy Bill Roberts: I had small hands and big wrists and that has saved my life more times than Colonel Colt's Equalizer.

5. Jane: Patrick, I'm gonna part with a nasty secret. You used to make me hotter than a June bride sittin' bareback on a depot stove. But I don't share my bed with the law.
Garrett: And I don't keep with whores no more. So ain't we both content?

6. Chavez: (about Billy) The villagers say he's diablero, can change into a coyote, disappear, never gets killed. Me? I just think he's the luckiest white-eye in New Mexico.

7. Garrett: I've shot everything in the world 'cept you and you still wouldn't go below. This hurts, Kid, but I'm in a place I can't get out of.

8. Tom: What's "scum"?
Billy: Well, Tom, that's bad types. Politicians, bankers, cattle kings...scum.

9. Ash: Garrett! Get me off this animal! I have to have a movement!

10. Doc: You rode a 15-year-old boy straight into his grave and the rest of us straight to hell. Straight to hell. William H. Bonney, you...are not...a god.
Billy: Why don't you pull the trigger and find out?

Top 10 Quotes: "Young Guns"

This is was one of my most popular posts on my original blogs, so it seems fitting that I repost it. These quotes are in no particular order of awesomeness:

1. Dirty Steve: Did you see the size of that chicken?

2. Billy: See, if you got three or four good pals, why, then you got yourself a tribe. There ain't nothin' stronger than that.

3. Chavez: Many nights, my friend...many nights, I held a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're all right.

4. John Tunstall: We're congregated here to learn to read and write. You'll need more than skill with a firearm to succeed in the new world, Billy.

5. Billy: You have to test yourself every day, gentlemen. Once you stop testin' yourself, you get slow. And when that happens, they kill you.

6. Dirty Steve: (repeatedly about Billy) He ain't all there, is he?

7. Charley: You sent a lamb into the slaughter and he walked out a king sheep.

8. Doc: Trouble? You think I look like trouble? I'm a poet, carrying flowers, of all things.

9. Billy: Reap the whirlwind, Sheriff Brady. Reap it!

10. Charley: We work for Mr. Tunstall as regulators. We regulate any stealin' of his property and we're damn good, too. Mr. Tunstall's got a soft spot for runaways, derelicts, vagrant types. But you can't be any geek off the street. Gotta be handy with the steel, if you know what I mean. Earn your keep.

Did I miss your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Overhaul Notice

This blog was once called "Cinema Passion" and penned under the screenname Aspiring Ebert. Because of college classes etc., I woefully neglected that blog for almost two years so I decided to start completely from scratch under its current name. I tried blogging on tumblr, but it wasn't the same at all. I missed the more interactive nature of Blogger.

Once again, life happened and my blog fell by the wayside. They say the third time is the charm and I'm determined to make it work this time.

I will be redoing my most popular old postings as well writing new things. The pop culture content and my snarky commentary will not change.

Happy reading!