Monday, August 30, 2010

Movies 111: Top Five Picks

I know, I'm terrible. I'm going to be hideously self indulgent and share my personal favorite films of all time. I don't have any particular order of preference unless it's sorted by genre, because you can't really compare apples and oranges without just saying, "they're both fruit."

Click the title for their movie trailers!

Epic/Action:
#1 - Avatar, because it is amazingly well produced and the most perfect inspirational story ever, however much of a rip off it may be of Pocahontas. And Jake Sully is hot.
#2 - Gladiator, because the ending makes me cry and I'm a sucker for tragedies and coup d'etats.
#3 - The Matrix, because the cinematography is gorgeous and the plotline is so philosophically inspired. And Neo looks good in those specs.
#4 - V For Vendetta, because it's another coup d'etat story that makes me cry.
#5 - 300, because the cinematography left me breathless and Gerard Butler had some really nice abdominals.

Romance:
#1 - Amelie, because the cinematography was so original and colorful, the story was very cute and I could relate to main character.
#2 - P.S. I Love You, because I'm a sucker for tragedies and second chances.
#3 - Penelope, because I'm a huge fan of James McAvoy and the cinematography has the same sort of vibe as Amelie. The story is also just so adorable, I want to squeeze its cheeks.
#4 - Romeo + Juliet, because, what can I say, it's a tragedy. And Shakespeare is awesome. The mesh between modern day world with old world language is fantastic.
#5 - The Notebook, because it's just so sweet. Timeless love wins.

Thriller:
#1 - Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, because it has an amazing score, acting, cinematography, story, everything. It's the perfect movie. With Alan Rickman in it, too. What more could you ask for?
#2 - Inception, because the story is so original and perplexingly mesmorizing. The film was well made and the acting was really great.
#3 - The Usual Suspects, because Kevin Spacey is totally wicked in it and you could never expect the huge twist at the end.
#4 - The Orphanage, because you're just not quite sure what to think at the end, even with everything explained. Foreign films have a different sort of element to them than American ones.
#5 - Pan's Labyrinth, because it's so vivid and brutish and dreamlike with lovely cinematogrpahy and acting.


Comedy:
#1 - Monty Python & the Holy Grail, because the Monty Python crew are all comical geniuses and I can quote along with the movie.
#2 - Hot Fuzz, because I just cannot get over the granny getting drop kicked.
#3 - The Princess Bride, because the story is sweet and it's really funny when Princess Buttercup and Will are rolling down that hella steep hill. I could rewind that over and over again.
#4 - Arsenic and Old Lace, because it's a G rated horror story with Cary Grant and his crazy expressions and yelling about. Good times.
#5 - Young Frankenstein, because a Mel Brooks movie should make the list and I get a kick out of Madeline Kahn's performances.

Animated:
#1 - Spirited Away, because the animation is gorgeous, the music and story is so sweet and poetic, and I want to hug Haku and No Face.
#2 - Howl's Moving Castle, because the music and story is also so sweet, directed by the astounding Hayao Miyazaki, and I love Turnip Head and Christian Bale's voice as Howl.
#3 - Wall-E, because the romance between robots is so freaking adorable I just burst into fits of squeeing and wiggling my arms in front of my chest. Also, it helps kids understand the importance of protecting the Earth.
#4 - The Emperor's New Groove, because it's randomness never fails to please and Yzma wants to put the mouse-sized emperor in a box, inside of another box, mail it to herself, and smash it with a hammer.
#5 - Up, because I'm a sucker for tragedies and the story of a romance through old age tugs at my heartstrings.

What are your top 5?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Art 110: Long Exposure

Ready for another bout of photographic awesomeness? Good.

There's a function on your camera that allows you to adjust the exposure, the amount of light entering the camera lens over a period of time. Using long exposures for taking portraits or macro shots is a completely horrid idea, but the prolonged shutter speed does have some rather lovely perks if you know how and when to use it.

The most common ways to use long exposures is in the dark with a bit of light that you may wave around to create awesome shapes and streaks, in the big city to capture the movement of traffic, or creating a misty waterscape:


The most essential item you'll need to do this besides a camera with an adjustable shutter speed is a tripod. If you don't have a tripod when you take long exposures, then you will have nothing focused upon no matter how stable you think your hands are, and the photo will be a flop. That is, unless you're doing something along the lines of this where it's all about the light shapes and nothing else:


Just be careful when you're creating light streaks with a laser pointer, flashlight, etc, to move around a lot so that you're not caught on the film/photo like the E=MC2 photo above. Although, that's just a matter of taste, obviously, whether or not you'd like to be seen.

As for your exact shutter speed, it really depends on the circumstances. Just experiment and find what works best for your situation. If that's not enough info, I suggest checking out this chart to help you determine the shutter speed and ISO setting for the best producible photograph.

Another photography post: The Tilt-Shift Effect and Bokeh

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Food 110: Back To School Bento

There's nothing I hate more than a soggy sandwich. PB & J, Turkey, Veggie, it's all the same gross nasty-ness after a few hours.

For years I have been searching for the perfect home made lunch combo that will not only taste good, but not look like the largest man on earth has sat on it. It's hard. But fear not, I'm here to share some of my boxed secrets to a yummy lunch.

First, dump that crummy, non tree friendly paper bag in the recycling bin and head over to your nearby store and pick up something reusable. Cookies, sandwiches, juice boxes, etc. are are somewhat crushed or banged up by lunch time, and if you packed something cold in there, chances are you're bag is soggy too. Buy tin, plastic, or wood boxes, they all do the same job. Personally, I like using something small, yet big enough for me to have 3 or4 compartments for different foods. Small, well sealed plastic containers are great to have also for sauces or dips. While paper bags are really convenient, and of course a classic, they aren't really that practical, so end whatever kind of relationship you have with paper baggies and splurge on something a little more durable and heck, even cute.

Once you have your reusable container consider next what you'll be packing. Traditionally meals consist of 1 main hearty protein, and 2 supplementary sides. When packing for lunch consider what the highlight of your lunch will be. Pasta, rice, tofu, meat are some of the few things you can consider. With sides you can get colorful and creative.Ok, so maybe you don't have time to be that creative in the morning or the night before, but choose colorful foods like dried cranberries, sliced carrots, strawberries, even little clementines to give your eyes a little candy while you eat. And if you want to try something a little less greasy than potato chips check out Melba Toast. However if you do decided to try Melba Toast I recommend packing some sort of spread to go along with it because they are VERY dry.

Another thing you can do is make a mini parfait. Get some yogurt, fruit, and granola if you like that extra crunch, layer them in a small container, then put in the freezer overnight. By the time you get to lunch they'll have thawed, but still be cold, yummy, and ready to eat.

To substitute for a sandwich, pinwheels are a great thing to consider. And honestly, anything you can put on bread you can put on a tortilla. Roll up anything from a yummy cream cheese and meat combo to a diced banana and nutella, or even make a fluffer nutter, the combinations are endless!

So please, with all of these ideas hopefully you'll be convinced to leave paper baggies for something a little more food friendly.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movies 110: The Switch


To tell you the truth, I'm not a fan of Jennifer Aniston. Not once have I ever seen her make the other actor look good in a romantic comedy. So with that thought, I was thinking I dunno. The premise was so predictable. Shrug. Sigh. I get to the matinee and its a packed house. Did they know something I didn't know? Yes, its by the people of Juno which means, the people who produced Juno, not written nor directed by the people of Juno. While we hated Jason Bateman's character in Juno for running out like he did. Well, guess what? Jason Bateman is the one who makes Jennifer Aniston look good. His character is so genuine in this movie.



Jason Bateman's Wally Mars is negative and neurotic, yet adorable and real. He's best friends with Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) in downtown New York. Kassie's biological time clock is almost in overdrive and to make it fun she has a party to get pregnant. Well, not that fun. But Juliette Lewis definitely makes it fun. She seems to get some of the best lines in this film. Or maybe its just how she works a scene. Of course, Wally feels this whole artificial insemination is a bad idea. Thus he gets drunk and well, you've seen the trailer. But don't go thinking you've seen the best part of this movie.



This movie has layers and depth. Especially, seven years later when Wally meets Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), Kassie's son. Of course, not only does Wally see himself in Sebastian, but so does the sperm donor Roland (Patrick Wilson). Its interesting how life works that way.



Of course, Wally starts remembering little by little about that night at the party so long ago when he got drunk, and thanks to his boss Leonard ( Jeff Goldblum), he sorts it out, just to be caught up in another dilemma. But he and Sebastian are two peas in a pod, so to speak, he really gets to know Sebastian. There are some really poignant moments in the story that we can all relate to. I think what makes the film work is that Wally learns a lot from Sebastian too. It really is a unique film because of this. I really enjoyed this film. Its quite a little gem. It made me think of a lot of the important things in life.




10/10

TV 110: 18 to Life

If you remember that great Canadian teen sitcom "Life With Derek" that even Disney thought was good enough for their channel, well..guess who's back? This time on the CW. Its been said Michael Seater really has the magic touch with teen sitcoms.

Michael (Tom Bellow) plays a teen newlywed, married to the girl next door played by Stacey Farber (Jess Bellow). This new "18 to Life" is seriously funny. Can you imagine? Well, this show makes the best of the premise. The young couple live in the Bellow's attic. Of course, they are learning new things about themselves all the time even if they practically grew up together.



The supporting cast, especially the four parents, are played to perfection. The show definitely has a much more grown up comedy vibe to it. And who knew that Stacey Farber as Jess had such comedic timing. She was once Ellie, the goth girl on Degrassi. Jesse Rath plays Tom's best friend on the show. Of course, they are always getting lots of help, sometimes unwanted help, from friends and family. But there definitely is a sweet chemistry between these two that makes the show click. Really, the show almost has a British comedy feel to it. And of course, no one does comedy quite as well as the British. Canada is a close second.


Truly, it's quite Canadian with all it's 18 or 19 drinking age scenarios. Still it gets a few inside jokes as everyone who comes across the newly-weds is "When's the baby due?" Which has been an on going question for Farber on message boards since she is so tiny and if she dresses a certain way..that question gets asked. Unfortunately. Neither she nor her character are pregnant. One more Canadian show showing you what comedy is all about with family situations and growing up. Maybe the parents will grow up too.




18 to Life

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Good News 109: School is Starting!


Ah, yes, everyone's favorite three-letter phrase...back-to-school. Time to pack up your new backpacks, sharpen your new pencils, and get ready to wake up at six in the morning again...every day! For states such as Florida and California, school is already in session, and if you're already feeling worn out by the classroom, here are four reasons why school is a pretty cool thing to have:
  1. You get to see your friends every day! During summer, it can be hard to keep up with people. Vacations, summer camps, and just general laziness tend to get in the way of seeing your friends all the time. But now, no more! Now you know that every day, you have something to look forward to!You, you know, get an education. It's been statistically proven that getting a good education increases your salary when you're older. Plus, it's always good to be knowledgeable of the world around you. You wouldn't want to end up working at McDonald's, not knowing what England was or something. School makes you smarter, and that's always a good thing to be!You get to buy all-new school supplies. At least, I hope you do. I'm sure there are some people who like to reuse their old supplies, but I'm also sure that everyone out there has gotten new stuff at least once. If you have, I'm sure you can attest to the sheer joy of holding a new pre-sharpened pack of pencils, some binders that haven't been drawn all over by your friends when you weren't looking, shiny fresh notebooks all ready for you to doodle in instead of take notes, breathing in the smell of fresh paper and ink. Who wouldn't enjoy that?There are some really awesome teachers out there. You know the ones I'm talking about: the cool ones that let you work with your friends, always assign fun projects to do, and are forgiving if you're entire backpack (including that 50-page essay on guinea pigs you just spent the entire night writing) gets mauled by bears. Now some teachers can be pretty nasty, but at least you know you can catch a break with the awesome ones.



So, is school starting again good news? I say: yes, yes it is. And if you ever wonder what exactly is the point of learning what the integer exponent of an obtuse polynomial is, just remember this list and remember that yes, school is pretty darn awesome.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Books 109: Nineteen Minutes


Written by bestselling author Jodi Picoult, who also wrote the movie-turned-book My Sister's Keeper, Nineteen Minutes takes place in the town of Sterling, New Hampshire. Ever since his Superman lunchbox was thrown off the school bus on his first day of kindergarten, now-seventeen-year-old Peter Houghton has suffered years of bullying at the hands of classmates. Josie Cormier, the closest person that Peter had to a best friend, now hangs out with the popular crowd that are often the ones harassing Peter.

A final series of unbelievably embarrassing events of bullying ends up sending Peter over the edge. Peter enters Sterling High School one morning, and in nineteen minutes commits an act of violence that forever changes the lives of everyone in Sterling.

"In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn; color your hair; watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five. In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world; or you can just jump off it."

Even those who were not inside the school that morning find their lives torn apart by what happened. There are Peter's parents, Lacy and Lewis Houghton, who are distraught by what their son has done; Peter's defense attorney, Jordan McAfee, whose position has turned the town against him; Patrick DuCharme, the investigative detective who was one of the first at the scene of the crime; Alex Cormier, the superior court judge assigned to the Houghton case and mother of Josie; Josie herself, who was a key witness to the events that unfolded that day, but cannot seem to remember anything.

This highly emotional novel is sure to keep you captivated, understanding the stories behind the different characters, unraveling the chain of events that led up to Peter's attack, and waiting along with the rest of the town for the outcome of the Houghton case.

I read this book for the third time for over-the-summer reading, and I'd read it again in a heartbeat. I definitely recommend it!

Poetry 109: Walt Whitman

When I think of my favorite commercials, those that I don't mind being played so often, one comes to mind. It is a Levi jeans commercial, and it gives me goosebumps all the time. Some people think it's weird, but I like.





See, when I first saw this commercial, I was not yet introduced to Walt Whitman's poem "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" which is the inspiration behind the commercial. The poem is fantastically patriotic and I love that it's directed at the youth.


"Pioneers! O Pioneers!" -Walt Whitman


Come my tan-faced children,

Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?

Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,

We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,

Pioneers! O pioneers!


O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,

Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,

Pioneers! O pioneers!


Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?

We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,

Pioneers! O pioneers!


All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,

Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,

Pioneers! O pioneers!



There are 21 more stanzas. Yes, it's also fantastically long, and I thought I'd do y'all a favor by focusing only on the first five. Go forth!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Food 109: Nutella


Look up synoynms for the word "delicious", and Nutella should be one of them. I don't precisely remember when or how I first discovered the absolute amazingness that is Nutella Hazelnut Spread, but thank goodness I did, cause I can't imagine my life without it. Haha, okay okay, so maybe that is exaggerating a bit, but my fellow Nutella enthusiasts understand what I'm talking about, right? And if you have never tried Nutella, I implore you, run out to your nearest grocery store and buy some, and I'd bet my bottom dollar that you'll enjoy it. I mean, what's not to like? Sure, Nutella is probably the last thing that you should consume if you're trying to watch your weight, but a little bit every once in a while can't hurt... right?

I've found that Nutella goes very well smothered on a piece of toast for a peanut butter, banana, and Nutella sandwich. That's definitely one of my guilty pleasures. It goes great with strawberries, too. Mmmm. But really, there are about a gazillion and one different scrumptious ways that Nutella can be incoroporated with other foods to make some extremely tasty treats. Nutella combined with graham crackers, bagels, pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, cookies, brownies, poundcake, cheesecake, donuts, cupcakes... basically the list is endless, so is there any real need for me to go on? You could probably spread some Nutella on just about anything and it would be scrumdiddlyumptious. Just feast your eyes on some of these mouth watering creations:







Or, you can just grab a spoon and eat it straight out of the jar! That always works.... :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fashion 109: Yummy Accessories

Think back to 2006. If you were in middle school, or possibly high school you'll most definitely remember those somewhat horrible kool- aid pouch bags, or those capri sun bags.
Yes those bags. Everyone in my grade had them and I hated them with a passion. I refused to stoop as low as to follow that fashion trend because I knew that in a mere 3 or 4 months they would go out of style. Sure enough, as soon as they started to sell them at Wal* Mart everyone dropped them and pretended that they never begged their parents to buy them one in the first place. While this trend didn't last long, here are some things that are sure to stay in style and grab a few compliments as well!
1. Hand made by the ever so cool blogger Agent Lover, this petite cake headband is the perfect topper to any eccentric outfit. Although it is on the pricey side running a cool $60, they come in multiple colors and are sure to attract attention. Also, the actual band is translucent, so it'll seem like you have this cute little cake perched on top of your head without anything keeping it on! You can check it out here!

2. With this pouch you can somewhat deceive muggers by putting your valuables in this potato chip pouch designed by Fred Flare. It's reasonably priced at $10, and apparently has 0gs of trans fat! You can check it out here!

3. Also designed by Fred Flare this buttered toast wallet is sure to deceive most at first glance. Being a toast enthusiast myself, this wallet is a must have, and for $16 you won't go broke while trying to show off your love for toast! You can check it out here!
4. For all the breakfast lovers out there this ring is on sale at Etsy for $10! Since it is from Etsy it is most likely a one of a kind item so if you want it, be sure to get it quick before someone else snatches it up! You can check it out here!

5. Also from Etsy (Coolbeans717) this pop tart cozy can be used as a wallet, business card holder, or even a little Ipod holder! Hand crafted, and made from felt it's super soft, and only $13.50! You can check it out here!

And, even though this isn't a "yummy" accessory I couldn't help but share this one!Made by the same designer that crafted the pop-tart cozy this cool little gadget pouch can be found here!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed these few yummy accessories!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Movies 109 : Scott Pilgrim vs. the world


What have I been waiting all summer to see? Chances are, you have been waiting for it too. Why..Scott Pilgrim, of course. Or the thought of seeing Michael Cera in an action packed film based on the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Or maybe it was Johnny Simmons you couldn't wait to see. It may have been Brandon Roth that you so wanted as an evil blond. However, it could have been that chick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead who plays Ramona.

So, you've got a story about a slacker, in-between jobs, Scott who is 22 and in a band, dating a 17 year old high schooler, endearing Ellen Wong as Knives Chau but then Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) comes along. And Scott has a hard time breaking up with Knives since he knows he shouldn't be dating someone in high school. Lets just say, Scott is a little weak. And as always, an in-betweener of sorts. Old girlfriends, his band, even his roommate and family. But everything changes when he meets Ramona and has to defeat her seven evil exes. Thus is the basis of this movie along with battle of the bands and his roommate's (Keiran Culkan) obsession with guys he can't exactly have and yet he conquers in the most outrageous ways.

The movie has its "A.D.D. generation" atmosphere. The film pays homage to video game culture with references of Zelda and Pac-Man. Edgar Wright co-wrote and directed the movie. This is his third major film. And you know how much we loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. This however, uses new elements that you'd find right in the graphic novel with its special effect. This is definitely a film for those who understand it while and older generation might find the film not nearly as appealing. But hey, this film has an energy all of its own.


Its a quirky world that we might all know... just a little of, from time to time. Either, it be video games, music or part-time jobs. There is a hero and his name is Scott Pilgrim.

As with any relationship comes baggage. Even Scott has his in the form of the pop princess Envy Adams that he once called Natalie played by Brie Larson. Of course, he's history with her cool band and her main squeeze, vegan Todd Ingram (Brandon Roth). And lets not forget the drummer in Scott's band (Alison Pill) as Kim. Her performance was of course, priceless.

Yes, you'll get your kicks in this summer flick, spreading Canadian cheer everywhere even if in the last part, Jason Schwartzman steals the show as Gideon. This movie was packed with so much fun. Off-beat quirky lines, cool character development from every angle and still giving you the graphic novel you can't put down. Yeah, there is only one Scott Pilgrim and that's Michael Cera with a mega-uber cast! Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Mae Whitman, Erik Knudsen, Nelson Franklin...just to name a few. And punk wannabe sounds from Beck, Broken Social Scene, Metric, T. Rex, and of course Sex-Bob-Omb.



In theaters now, 10/10

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Art 108: Zentangles

I was recently introduced to Zentangle, a creative art form that requires only pencil, pen and paper. I immediately thought it would be fun to share because it requires so few materials and no real "'artistic talent." In other words, even if you don't define yourself as an artist, or even think you can draw a straight line, I suggest you to try this stress-reducing activity!

The first step is to decide what the outline of your Zentangle will look like. You could use a shape (heart), an object (paintbrush) or just a random contour. This is not as important as you would think since the designs within it will better speak for your creativity. My advice is to find something with rounded corners or else the else the designs look trapped inside a box, so to speak.

Next, divide your shape, contour or object into multiple sections. The lines you draw will act as a guideline for drawings and patterns within the tangle. Obviously the more sections you create, the more intricate the final product.

Now you're ready to let your imagination run wild! Fill in your sections with a variety of drawings and designs. You can surf the web for ideas and/or ask friends to join in and draw a design. I recommend using pencil first and then tracing over it with an ink pen or sharpies. The latter comes in different widths which, depending on what you want to draw, may or may not be useful.

After you've finished drawing all your lines and going over them with pen, you can feel free to add color to liven up the bold black and white.
You can visit www.zentangle.com for more resources or click the photo for its source.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Poetry 108: Love That Dog


So I'm in third grade, and the elementary school librarian walks into the classroom for reading time with a small yellow book in hand. It's called Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech.


Love That Dog tells the story of a boy named Jack and his dog, Sky, written through poems that Jack writes for a school poetry assignment. I suppose by showing you guys Jack's poem "My Sky" it's kind of a spoiler, but if I'm going to include a poem from the book it pretty much has to be this one, cause it's definitely my favorite.


MY SKY: By Jack

We were outside
in the street
me and some other kids
kicking the ball
before dinner
and Sky was
chasing chasing chasing
with his feet going
every which way
and his tail
wag-wag-wagging
and his mouth
slob-slob-slobbering
and he was all over the place
smiling and wagging
and slobbering
and making us laugh
and my dad
came walking up the street
he was way down there
near the end
I could see him
after he got off the bus
and he was walk-walk-walking
and I saw him wave
and he called out
"Hey there, son!"
and so I didn't see
the car

coming from the other way
until someone else--
one of the big kids--
called out
"Car!"
and I turned around
and saw a
blue car blue car
splattered with mud
speeding down the road
And I saw Sky
going after the ball
wag-wag-wagging
his tail
and I called him
"Sky! Sky!"
and his turned his head
but it was too late because the
blue car blue car
splattered with mud
hit Sky
thud thud thud
and kept on going
in such a hurry
so fast
so many miles to go
it couldn't even stop
and

Sky

was just there
in the road
lying on his side

with his legs bent funny
and his side heaving

and he looked up at me
and I said
"Sky! Sky! Sky!"
and then my dad
was there
and he lifted Sky
out of the road
and laid him on the grass
and
Sky
closed his eyes
and
he
never
opened
them
again
ever.


Oh gosh, maybe it's just my inner third grader, but that poem still gets to me every single time! As you can imagine, that caused basically the entire third grade class to start bawling their eyes out, haha. But the book isn't all sad, don't worry. There are a lot of fun, lighthearted poems written by Jack about memories with him and Sky as well. If you're a dog lover, I think you'd appreciate this book of poetry as much as I do.

Books 108: The Old Man and the Sea

Every so often one comes across a novel that has such a wide variety of allusions, imagery, themes, and symbols that it can be incorporated in practically every essay. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is such an example. One benefits academically for having read this novel. (It's also a great novel to use for the SAT essay portion). Thus, I recommend this novel to all high school students.

In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago, an aged Cuban fisherman, goes head-to-head with an enormous marlin. Santiago's adventure at sea is both a physical and moral challenge. Physically, Santiago is in no condition to try to catch a marlin. He is hungry, dehydrated, and alone in the ocean with predators near by. Morally, Santiago has become attached to the marlin. He calls it his "brother." However, Santiago realizes that if he does catch the marlin, he will return to his village a wealthy and respected man. This novel led to Hemingway's receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1954.

There are many allusions to Jesus, so keep an eye out for those. Moreover, the themes range from those about nature and age to time and perseverance. There is so much in this 96 paged novel!

Hope y'all check it out!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Food 108: The Magic of Green Tea

According to Google, Cable TV, and every health nut out there, antioxidants are the new "it" things. More specifically, green tea has taken the stage as the everyday alternative to unhealthy sodas and juices loaded with sugar. Most of the time these health fads are pushed by large companies just trying to make some money out of our hypochondriac society, but green tea honestly does have some good qualities.First of course the obvious fact that it contains a very powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) which to put things into perspective, is stronger than Vitamin E and C. Recent studies have shown that EGCG can slow the growth of cancer cells!

Green tea is also known to boost your metabolism and help you loose weight, as well as calm you down after a stressful day. And believe it or not green tea can help protect your teeth!

While green tea is great to drink it's wise to watch where you're getting your tea, and what all you put in it. Some companies load their teas with so much sugar that it's almost as bad as drinking lots of soda.

If you drink pre-sweetend bottled tea take a good look at the nutrition label on the back. The calorie count can range anywhere between 80 - 160 calories per serving. It's best to brew tea at home that way you won't have to deal with preservatives and excess sugar. Sweetening your tea with regular granulated sugar is ok, but be cautious of how much sugar you add to it. Personally I find it to be tastier if I add a spoonful of honey and a bit of lemon to my tea.

Also if you brew it at home you can save you're tea bags or left over tea to make facial masks or exfoliants. It's a very cheap and eco-friendly way for you to have smooth and healthy skin. Here are some super simple recipes that I usually use when making masks and exfoliants:

For the mask you will need:

Leftover tea bags
Any leftover tea liquid
Powdered milk, or Oat meal

All you have to do is open the tea bags and mix them with either the powdered milk, or oat meal that you turn into a powder using a food processor. To get your desired consistency you can add any leftover tea or even some warm water to the mix and just apply it like you would any other facial mask. It'll make your skin feel reaaaallly smooth and soft.

For the exfoliant you will need:

Leftover tea liquid
Around 3 or 4 tbs of sugar

The beauty of this is just mixing the two together. It really doesn't matter what type of sugar you use, and you can add even more sugar depending on what type of texture you want. It's best to use lukewarm tea so it won't melt the sugar, and you can even mix the leaves from the bag in, but I prefer just using sugar and the liquid. After you make your mix gently massage it into your skin in order to get rid of any dead skin cells and clear your pores. After that you can just rinse all the exfoliant off.

Anyways, I hope you guys will keep enjoying the awesomeness that is green tea, and if you haven't tried it yet, I hope you do!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Music 108: She & Him


Before you ask yourself, "Is that who I think it is?" let me tell you...it is. Yes actress Zooey Deschanel is in a band, in fact, she sings in some of her movies through this band. Yes, she and M. Ward (musician) met on the set of one of her movies, The Go-Getter. The director of the film wanted them to sing a duet together in the end of the film. After that, well the rest is history. Zooey always had liked singing and sent Ward some of her home demos and he liked them. If any of you have seen Elf or Yes Man, you'll know she has the chops to sing.

In 2008, She & Him released Volume One, and in March of 2010 they released Volume Two (their second album). The thing that makes them so great is that they aren't like most bands these days. They have a timeless feel to their music and it doesn't sound fake. Given, their music isn't for everyone. In fact, you might hate them. But I think that they're worth checking out. She & Him's songs are all written or co-written by Deschanel (except for their cover songs). Their non-mainstream sense also makes it special..like you've discovered a buried treasure.

She & Him do go on tours and record but since M. Ward is also solo and Zooey Deschanel works on movies, so it may take awhile to have another album come out. Still, it's worth the wait.

Here are some of my favorite songs by them:

1) Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
2) Lingering Still
3) Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want
4) Fools Rush In
5) You Really Got A Hold On Me
* Another song that is M. Ward featuring Zooey Deschanel is also really good which is called: Never Had Nobody Like You.

As for a music video to show for everyone I picked Why Do You Let Me Stay Here, but not their original video. I picked the music video that was made as a bonus from Marc Webb (director of 500 Days of Summer). It stars the stars of that film Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This video is actually for free on Itunes on the official (500) Days of Summer podcast. Hope you enjoy!


Hopefully you enjoyed this cute video and an even better song! Who knows, maybe you'll get a song or two by them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Good News 107: The Internet Cinderella Story

Obviously if you've been watching any sort of news since 2000, better known as the digital era, you know that our tiny little world has been going through some big changes due to the web. An entire Pandora's box has opened and spilled into our society, changing the dynamic by which our community has evolved. Of course there are some bad things that come with the mass exchange of data, but there are also some really awesome things that take place.

This brings me to Justin Halpern. At first glance he appears to be your average 29 year old guy living with his parents, however look closer and you'll see that he has a New York Times bestselling book, and has a television show starring William Shatner due out Fall 2010 on CBS. How did all of this happen to such a young guy?

Twitter.

And no people, I kid you not! I remember when I first started following Justin on his twitter page sh*tmydadsays and he had a mere 5oo something followers. As described on his twitter page,
"I'm 29. I live with my 74-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down sh*t that he says."

Having a background in screenwriting, he meant for his account to simply be a tool to record all the outrageously funny things his retired dad has said to him over the years without having to worry about them getting lost or deleted. According to Halpern all of the quotes from his dad are essentially verbatim, only changing or omitting words so that they would fit the 140 character limit that Twitter has. As of today sh*tmydadsays has 1,524,276 followers which, mind you, is nothing to sneeze at.

He started his account August 3, 2009 and by mid August he had about 100,000 followers. Two months later came a book deal from Harper Collins, then by November a deal from Warner Bros. for a television show. If that's not what you consider a modern day fairy tale then please, point me in the direction of something more amazing than this!

Looking at Justin Halpern's story you can't help but feel that anything can happen via the internet if you've got the right amount of luck and talent.

Be sure to check out his twitter account here, but be warned there's a good amount of hilarious profanity. Also don't forget to look for his book at your local bookstore, and his TV show on CBS in the fall, both of which are under the title Sh*t My Dad Says.

Now for some gems of wisdom from Justin's dad:
Pick your furniture like you pick a wife: It should make you feel comfortable and look nice, but not so nice that if someone walks past it they want to steal it.
----
The worst thing you can be is a liar....Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two.

Have a great day!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Books 107: Happyface


Stephen Emond is back. The wonderful writer who brought you Emo Boy, takes you away this summer with the most engaging story. It doesn't hurt that the book is an illustrated diary that ranges from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. The story is whimsical, thoughtful, slyly sarcastic, and pain-stakeningly beautiful.

Naturally, the story is about a boy. Actually, a very shy, artistic sophomore who is awkwardly coping with life from the sidelines. When tragedy strikes and tears his family apart, he finds himself living in a ratty apartment with is newly sober Mom and attending a new high school. Pasting that big smile of his that everything is OK and being the class clown can only take him so far. It works, sort of. Surrounded by popular friends who don't know his real story. There is also the baffling beautiful Gretchen who keeps giving him mixed signals. And then, all those feeling he's bottled up come like an avalanche, and Happyface is left a chance to come clean. Emond does this all in his special way. His writing is funny, intimate, quirky, wrenching and of course really makes the reader feel exactly whats happening.

Stephen Emond is the creator of Emo Boy, which ran for 12 issues and two collections, and the comic strip, Steverino. He grew up in Connecticut, where he wrote and directed a public access sketch comedy show that only his grandmother watched, or so he claims.


"Anyway, I'm a creator, I guess you can say. I focused solely on drawing in my youth, wanting to be a comic book artist. Not so much the kind I became, I was more interested in superheroes. Starting with Spiderman, which led to the New Warriors, which led me to following Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, the guys that wound up at Image. I was a huge Image fan until a girlfriend turned me on to indie comics, which read more like the things that went on in my head." Emond says about his writing.
"I went with a darker character-piece called HAPPYFACE. The idea was that a kid suffers a terrible tragedy, puts on a happy face and swallows all the pain. With time the cracks would show and ultimately he'd explode. What exists now as HAPPYFACE has the same general concept, but is not nearly as dark and moody as I'd intended. I pictured seething rage and contempt in every page, but the biggest change came when I decided to use art in the piece." Emond explains about his new novel, HAPPYFACE.

Check your library in the new book section at the YA part of your library. You'll be glad you did.

Stephen Emond.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

Music 107: MGMT

MGMT is an american band consisting of two (very handsome) main members: Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden. There are more to these guys than their awesome last names and good looks. Their music is retro with fun beats and catchy lyrics. In 2010, MGMT was nominated for the Grammy Award 'Best New Artist.'


They look like fun guys to hang with. Their music represent their fun and witty personality. Oh, and MGMT's music videos are pure genius.




Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Movies 107: It's A Wonderful Life

I'd like to commend television channels Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics for sharing collections of old movies with original story lines, great acting, comedy and one-liners, drama, and all safer than a PG rating. What ever happened to the good old days where we didn't need the use of sex or violence in order to be entertained by a great story that isn't just for kids?

Here's a couple of must-see's starring some of my favorite actors:

Arsenic and Old Lace

1944

One of my favorite movies (and based off of a play), a comedy starring Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster, a newlywed visiting his family before his honeymoon who discovers that his aunts have quietly killed twelve men by poison for "benevolent" reasons. And yet it's a hilarious comedy, yes.






An Affair To Remember

1957

SUCH a good romance. I sigh a lot. Starring Cary Grant as Nickie Ferrante and Deborah Kerr (who also stars in The King and I, another great film) as Terry McKay, who are both engaged, meet on a cruise ship, and fall in love, but are obviously conflicted on what to do about it. Oh, it's such a sweet story.








The Philadelphia Story

1940

COMEDY! I love how witty Katherine Hepburn is in all of her movies, and she doesn't let down here either. Also starring: Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart! Filled with scheming reporters, love triangles, love quadrangles, hangovers, and loose tigers, among other things.







Goodbye, Mr. Chips

1939

This one is actually one of my mom's favorite movies, so I thought I should mention it. It's an inspirational drama about a professor at a private school for boys who teaches four generations of the same family. Mr. Chips is so loveable, and his life story is a really sweet yet tearjerking series of events.








It's A Wonderful Life

1946

A Christmas movie you should make a regular view for every year. Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a very good man who sacrifices his dreams for the well being of others in his town. When it all becomes too much for him, his guardian angel shows up to show George what life would have been like had he never been born.






Can you tell? I like Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.

TV 107B: Kevin Jumba

Youtube videos are not necessarily considered "TV", but many people connect their computer/laptop to their TV screen, so Youtube videos can be labeled "TV" in some cases.

I love to laugh! Who doesn't like the feeling when your tummy hurts from laughing so much? Or the ache in your cheeks from laughing so much? Kevin Jumba's videos give me all these pleasurable aches. He's quite popular on Youtube, so I won't be surprised if many of y'all have seen his fantastic videos. However, I really hope this is the first time you guys hear of him. He's so darn funny...and cute.



















I really hope these videos made you laugh or at least giggle. He has plenty of more videos. Check.Them.Out.

TV 107A: Being Human

There is just something devious about a set up like this. A vampire, a ghost and werewolf living in a flat together in Bristol trying to have a normal life. And there is no joking about it. Especially, when it has a following almost as Dr. Who.


In 2008 Tobey Withouse (writer from Doctor Who) created something spectacularly supernatural. Serious too. He takes us into have to cope with extra-ordinary circumstances. It is now in his third season. BBC has re-did a few things. But basically, there is Annie(Lenora Crichlow) the ghost who is still in the outfit she died in, but it changes a bit depending on her mood. There is George (Russell Tovey) the werewolf who's is a bit of nerd that still finds love in such a topsy turvy human world.

And of course, Aidan Turner as Mitchell the vampire who has seen a lot over the centuries. And there is something that just makes one swoon with that voice of his. Of course, he has troubles with the ladies. But then again, he's a janitor at the hospital.

Life is hardly normal for these three. Each episode, they have to deal with addictions and mental illness as well as co-workers, and then there is that villain lurking like a mad scientist, praying often that he finds them and puts them completely out of their misery.

The writing is definitely grown-up. No Twilight here. Its been told there will be a Canadian version of Being Human with Sam Huntington in the werewolf role while Sam Witwer would have the vampire role. But there is still a lot to sort out. Why mess up a perfectly wonderful British show by Americanizing it is beyond me.

Catch episodes this summer on BBCA. Seasons 1 & 2 are on DVD.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Good News 106: Bowling for Bears

A couple weeks ago I paid tribute to selfless CEOs, but now I want to share the story of someone a little bit more like you or me--a girl I know named Jenny Silver.
Jenny may seem like any other normal kid, with one big exception--when she was just 9 years old, she was so moved by the stories of the devestated families affected by Hurricane Katrina she started her own non-profit fundraising corporation called Bowling for Bears. The idea? Have people donate money to go bowling, and have that money go to buying teddy bears for kids in need. The first Bowling for Bears event raised enough money to buy every kid at the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans a teddy bear for the holidays. She's continued the event every year since then, giving teddy bears to needy kids in the Children's Hospital of New Orleans and Philadelphia, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Cooper University Hospital, The Camden Rescue Mission, and several other places in need of some holiday joy.

Jenny has raised thousands of dollars for thousands of bears, recently teaming up with Build-a-Bear Workshop to spread the love even more. At an event, after donating a minimum of $8 (the price of one bear), you can bowl to your heart's content, help yourself to some of the free snacks provided, and bid at a silent auction included baskets from such places as the Adventure Aquarium, the Philadelphia Zoo, Swanky Bubbles, and several professional sports teams. Every year more money is raised and more priceless gifts go to children in need.

Jenny Silver is a true testament to human kindness and selflessness. She's proof that even if you're young, and even if you don't have millions of dollars or endless resources to give away, you can still make a lasting difference on those in need. In fact she was recently made one of the 12 Huggable Heroes of 2009, a program celebrating generosity, volunteerism and leadership, funded by Build-a-Bear.

The upcoming Sixth Annual Bowling for Bears Event, hosted by the Playdrome in Cherry Hill, New Jersey is set to be on December 5th. If you happen to be in the area, be sure to stop by for a day of fun, food, bowling, and a great cause...I know I will!