Thursday, January 14, 2021

What I've been watching, second half of 2020, and Halloween pumpkins

Our 2020 pumpkins

In the vein of film class we watched some Werner Herzog from the library collection. 

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe:  This is exactly as described!  I love that it is from the 60s (70s?) and I recognize and go to some of the places.

Aguirre, Wrath of God:  Early Werner Herzog  This is weird and a classic.  Glad I saw it, but don't need to see it again.

For Halloween we carve pumpkins to remember some of those who died during the year.  On 2020 Sean Connery died on October 31!  I threw together a martini glass, for James Bond.  

On YouTube

Jelle's Marble Races, especially the Olympics:  All on YouTube, so much fun!!  I don't watch many sports and haven't been missing them, but loved these!


Space Force:  hmm, not good, not the worst.  Seems like it couldn't decide if it was funny or heart-warming.  They are making a second season?  Not really there for it.

What We Do In the Shadows:  So good!  The humor might not be for everyone, but gave us a couple of catchphrases we use over and over.

Avatar the Last Airbender:  A re-watch for us, obviously excellent.

The Queen's Gambit:  Loved it!  Family friendly-ish but not overly sweet, a nice ending, sharp and focused.  Well balanced mix of good times/concerns.  Good characters (Jolene!!)

Mystic Pop Up Bar:  It grew on me!  More of a long arc than I expected.  Korean with subtitles.  The pacing and topics are a little different than what I am used to, but that makes it more interesting.

The Goes Wrong Show:  British physical humor and puns.  These folks made a play (The Play That Goes Wrong) that we saw on Broadway and loved so this was a natural for us.  Comedic timing is excellent.  And if you stop to think about how much extra work it is to make the things go wrong at the right time it is impressive.

Chadwick Bosman

Great British Baking Show:  Of course this is excellent.  So good that I watch each new episode as it is released rather than waiting to binge.  (Still warming up to Noel and Matt, oh well)

Nailed It!:  Perfect pairing with fancy baking show.  This one I dole out slowly and carefully.  I love Nicole and Jacques so much! 

Floor is Lava!:  Pretty good.  Hilarious concept, how much you like it depends on the team, so up and down.

Gary Busey, Pet Judge:  Didn't watch the whole series, but worth it to see one episode.

Devs:  I popped in and out while E- watched the whole thing.  Mostly ok, I liked all the local flavor, but had a hard time not seeing Ron Swanson

We Are The Champions:  So good!!!


Back to the Future trilogy:  Classic!  First movie is good, other two are exactly what you expect.

The Lighthouse:  Creepy, isolated lighthouse keepers go crazy.  Artsy, well acted, but never need to watch it again.

Cabin in the Woods:  A great re-watch!!  The one you can never explain because it would give away too much!  Just watch it!

Some early Avengers:  We watched a couple of the Captain America stories, comfort food for the eye.

Coherence:  Spooky sci-fi.

Parasite:  Yup, great film, disturbing and genius.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Books June - September 2020 and Spock asleep

I had this great plan to read so many more books this year and was optimistic that I might need a book post every month-HAH!  Still, I did mange to finish more than zero, some I really liked!

I'm leaning in hard to the cat pictures.  This series is all photos of Spock sleeping

-by Stuart Turton
7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle:  Love this!!  Agatha Christie meets time travel.  (I bought this book in Denver in March 2020, just before getting on a train that was our last trip before shut down)

-by Terry Pratchett
Monstrous Regiment:  Great story in the Discworld.  It can be read totally independent of any other books.  Might even be my favorite so far.

-by Madeline Miller
Circe:  Loved this.  A retelling of the classic Greek stories but from a minor character.  

-by Suzanne Collins
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes:  Loved this.  When it first came out I remember people being upset that it is a sympathetic showing of Snow, but I like the complications.

-by Kate Di Camillo
Flora and Ulysses:  Love this writer, cute story about the love between a girl and her super intelligent squirrel.  Elementary age readers.

-by The 14th Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
The book of Joy:  Excellent for people looking for this type of book.  Uplifting and confounding at the same time.  Best read a little at a time because it is kind of the same message over and over. 

Snakes spiders and sharks:  The nephew got into dangerous animals for a bit and so I read up on these in order to prepare to talk to him.  The electronic library has a great selection.

-by Nnedi  Okorafor:  She is on my list to read, tried a couple
Binti:  Fantastic!  Short sci-fi story.  The cover is amazing.  No reason to not read it.
La Guardia: Graphic novel.  Not as good as the the short story, but pretty fun.

-by Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic:  About the creative life.  A fast read, not much stuck with me, but at another time it might be helpful.

-by Lisa Mosconi
The XX Brain: How women's brains are not men's brains and there is not enough research on the effect of hormones on all brains.  I thought I would take more notes than I did.  Not really anything I didn't know before.  There are some nice exercises for folks who want to take a look at their overall risk.  Great topic, but it felt like too many of the answers were "We are working on it, maybe we will understand in a decade or so."

-by Graeme Simsion
The Rosie Result:  Last in the trilogy!  Not nearly as funny as the first two, but a satisfying tie up of all the loose ends.  No reason not to read it if you read the first two.

He likes sleeping on the crinkly cardboard packing material

Books I abandoned:  2020. I've had a hard time finishing things and decided that was okay!  Maybe even good.  My list of books I want to read is in the hundreds, so I don't have a chance at finishing them all. 

-by Helen Hunting
Meet Cute:  I liked something else by her, but I started this and after 15 minutes couldn't even.  Maybe another year.

The shelf is not quite wide enough for the bed, awww.

-by Renee Ahdieh
The Wrath & the Dawn:  On my list of retellings, this is of Arabian nights.  I got maybe a quarter of the way into it and it just wasn't drawing me in.  So many people like this, maybe I had too high expectations.

-by Claire North
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August:  Time travel books....I have read a lot of them lately and this one was not the best for me.  Maybe if I hadn't just finished the 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

-by Nnedi  Okorafor
Akata Witch:  First in a trilogy and I might go back to finish it.  Will see if it stays in my mind.

-by Ann Patchet
State of Wonder:  Really good!  I just got started late and others were waiting for it, so I went back to the library.  I put in a hold and will finish the last chapter.  Fantastic mix of biotech and the Amazon.

-by Johnathan Metzl
Dying of Whiteness:  I like the concept that he focuses on specific issues in specific states.  Brings in lots of evidence, but I'm not learning enough about the why of the individuals.  But I didn't finish it in the 3 weeks, so maybe not for me.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Grape Pie for Thanksgiving 2020

We love hosting a giant Thanksgiving table.  This year is different of course, but the importance of pie remains the same!  Ideally there should be 1/3 to 1/2 pie per person.  I start eating pie for breakfast while getting everything else cooked.  I like to have a piece with every helping of leftovers.  It doesn't have to be a full size slice of pie, sometimes just a taste is better than a full piece.  I like it when everyone gets to take some pie home.  Pie is important :)

The most important pie is the grape pie.

Classics like pumpkin are important, but so are 'not pie', like the apple dessert cake thing.

Pie glorious pie!

To make a grape pie, 
separate the skins from the innards.

Cook the innards, send through a strainer, throw out the seeds.

Mix the skins with the cooked innards.  Add sugar, lemon juice and a thickener.  I tried clear jel this year which gives that particular gloopy texture, but also lets you preserve it, like jam or jelly.  The proportions were a little tricky, but I like it better than cornstarch.  

This year we experimented with alternatives to full on pie.  

Hand pies:

Slice the crusts off sandwich bread, flatten with a rolling pin. Add filling to one slice, dampen the edges, cover with a second slice, and seal the two pieces together with a fork.  Flip it over and seal the edges from the other side.  These can be deep-fried in shallow oil or cooked in the oven (350°F for 15 min).  

I turned the crusts into croutons that were fantastic

Not super professional looking, but darn tasty.  Especially with some peanut butter on the side.

Tiny pies in muffin tins:  

A pat-in-the-pan crust is a great alternative to a roll-out crust.  This is from a 1950’s Better Homes and Garden. If you don’t care about a flaky crust and just want the pie, this is the best! 

For 3 muffin tins:

  • Mix 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl.  

  • Add 2 tablespoons milk to ⅓ cup vegetable oil and mix with a fork to emulsify.  Add to the dry mix slowly; you may not need all the liquid.  Stir until all the flour is moist and it clumps together to the consistency of play-doh.  

  • Press into the muffin tin, add grape pie filling, and sprinkle any left-over crust onto the filling.  

  • Bake at 350°F for 20 min.

The milk falls under the oil.

This is my first chemistry memory-an emulsion!

The crust is pretty crumbly and you just have to go for it.  All delicious all the time!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

What I've been watching while staying home, 2020

 What I've been watching while staying home, 2020 (plus cats)

A big adjustment we have made to our lives is that we get together with friends on video chat and the big upside is that it doesn't matter where they are.  So we hang out with the folks who moved to Arizona even more regularly than before-yeah!!  We have figured out how to watch tv together-it involves one side turning off the local sound and using sub-titles.  Turns out I love this and now use subtitles for everything!  This makes it super easy to watch foreign films and shows where it is better to pay attention.  

Cat series is the boys cleaning each other in the sun.

We decided to have a Charlie Kaufman festival.  I do like all types of movies and would love to take a film class but in the meantime will have a DIY class.  I like not knowing anything when starting a movie, but then reading up on it afterwards.   I've now read a couple of Kaufman interviews and he explicitly says that whatever you get out of his films is 'right'.  There is no one way to interpret them and they are a conversation. I noticed that different critics have different favorite films.  So often everyone agrees on the basic ranking of an artists work, but with Kaufman the lists are all over the place.  There seems to be something for everyone to love and to hate.
The big themes he loves are mental conditions/disorders, Who Am I, Who Are These People Around Me, Time distortion, Perception distortion, repetition of scenes/settings, play within a play.

-Being John Malkovitch:  Totally watched this when it came out, but had forgotten almost everything.  super fun

-Confessions of a Dangerous Mind:  Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, directing debut by George Clooney.  Most folks say this is the least Kaufman film because Clooney's directing style makes it less weird.  Less memorable for me, but I did love seeing Clooney.

-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:  Also saw this when it came out.  I feel it has the happiest ending.  I would recommend it to almost anyone.

-Anomalisa:  The weird stop motion film.  I kind of hated it while watching it....puppet sex is just....uncomfortable, But now that I've seen a bunch, I kind of like the whole thing.  I think it has the saddest ending.

-Synecdoche, New York:  The most existential?  This one really draws some hate.  I felt it could have used some editing, but some part were super great.  I love the whole multi-layers of people acting as other people who are right there.  Best sets.

-I'm Thinking of Ending Things:  So many references to culture-now I want to watch Oklahoma! and go read up on so many others.

We had to watch some 'normal' or 'classics' to balance things out.

Back to the Future trilogy:  For a bit of nostalgia.  These were fine, but not great (no surprise).  These are Robert Zemekis films, which were referenced in I'm Thinking of Ending Things, a nice tie in.

Cabin in the Woods:  For Halloween, the best psychological thriller for folks who don't love a standard gore/horror film.  I saw this in the theater and is it still SO GOOD.  If you only have time for one movie on the whole page, this should be it.

Ghostbusters:  Also for Halloween and nostalgia.  It was fine.

Casa du Papel:  Season 1 and 2, excellent!  Heist story but with extra drama/soap opera stories.  Plenty of episodes, though not really the bingeable type.

Foreign movies with some emotional weight

Force Majeur:  Swedish film about....I'm not really sure?  Family of 4 at a ski resort and there is an avalanche that scares them and they deal with the emotional aftermath?  No clue why the ending is what it is!

Border:  Swedish fantasy about finding out about your true self?  Slow pacing, incredible makeup.

Kai Po Che:  Indian movie about cricket and friendship and an earthquake and politics.

Disturbing foreign films

Okja: Director Bong Joon-ho (all disturbing all the time) about the love between a girl and her genetic mutation pet. Industrial animal farming complex.  No need to watch this again, but I still need to see a few more of his films

I Lost My Body:  French animated film where a separated hand is trying to get back to its body.  Lonliness!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

My stationary through the years

My stationary through the years

I'm not the best at writing physical letters, but I'm not the worst!  Turns out I love stationary and always have.  Most folks would use their stationary until it is gone and then buy new.  I love to not completely finish a set and then buy new.  So I have a plastic bin with almost gone sets.  I took a little nostalgia tour the other day.  Here is the best/most interesting of what is left.  I love all of these so much!

My mom's air weight stationary from ~1965!

My parents lived in Micronesia for about a year and certainly my mom wrote home on this super light-weight paper.  I love it!  I can't quite bring myself to use it, and I'm not sure who I would send it to.

You know how they say you turn into your mother?  So True!!  I make travel notes like this and have a hard time spelling beautiful-LOL!!  I love to see that my parents went nightclubbing three nights in a row!!

My very first stationary, approximately 1977, elementary school.  It has my address printed on it.  You write on the other side, fold it up and put a sticker to hold it together.  I still have the original plastic bag it some in, though the snap is broken.  I have no idea who I was writing to!  My grandmothers?

In fifth grade we moved and I was so sad to lose my best friend!  Of course we pledged to write each other and I bought stationary specific to the occasion.  

It turns out that it was meant to be for romantic partners, but I don't think I realized that at the time.  Though I do seem to have not mailed the more racy ones so maybe I figured it out when I opened it.

Her parents would have had a cow if I sent this one!  I'm super impressed that there are no duplicates.  I have no idea if I will ever use these up!!

In middle school I went to a fancy store and was able to buy just a few sheets at a time.  I chose these super cute music themed paper and envelopes.  They got their own yellow folder to live in.

College maybe?  Trying to be a bit more adult, I went with a subtle print, comes in a box of the same print!

Definitely college.  I'm writing down deep thoughts at the time.  Possibly cringe-worthy now, but they were honest and of their time, no shame in that.

Grad school!!  We sent out our wedding invitations (hand made) in these old map envelopes.  We share a love of travel and it was a destination wedding back in the day before it was a thing (1998, yes, yes I do remember the year of my wedding without looking it up)

Grad school-embracing my fun side for sure.  Great to send to kids.

Grad school!  1995  Love the artist Shag.  Love Disneyland.  Love the Enchanted Tiki Room.  Only very special people will get one of these cards.  I have a puzzle of the orange card.

Last decade, likely from a museum store.  One of my favorite artists.  I've moved more towards cards so this is a rare stationary set.  I haven't written enough letters to grown-ups and the set is almost full. 

Last decade for sure because they are retro.  How cute are these!!

Last decade.  We still love travel.  Love all of our national (and state and county) parks so I try to buy supporting items when possible.  
I love my stationary!!