Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight Insanity

I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to vampire stories, so I never jumped right on the bandwagon of the Twilight series, but after seeing some of the preview scenes, I became curious. This past week, I saw the first book on sale and decided to get it to see what all the hype was about. I get it, and I certainly get what all the tween girls are swooning about - Edward is dreamy in a very Jane Austen hero kind of way. I literally couldn't put the book down. Naturally, I went and got the rest of the series and proceeded to devour them in about another day and a half.

So due to my morbid curiousity and because I am a glutton for punishment, I joined the throngs of squealing teen girls at the theaters last night for the midnight showing. It was an experience. First, I just sat there and observed them all in their sweat pants/flip flops ensembles chit-chatting, texting, gossiping... and then I remembered why I never considered myself "one of the girls" at their age. But then the lights dimmed and suddenly they all quit playing catty games with one another and transformed into a seething mass of dreamy hormonal mega-fans. My first moment of hilarity was when the new Harry Potter preview opened to thunderous applause and squeals. The next was when Edward appears on screen for the first time, and the entire room swooned with numerous "OMIGODS", dog-ear-piercing sounds and gutteral moans of teen desire. It will truly be a different experience to watch this movie without the electric atmosphere these girls provide, but I must say it added to the movie for me, just as watching Yoda pull out his lightsaber for the first time in a roomful of Star Wars geeks, or watching Gandalf become the White Wizard while sitting next to the dude who was making his own chain mail IN THE THEATER before the movie started (and flirting with girls for what had to have been the first time in his life).

I've heard this movie likened to the fabulous John Hughes movies of the 80's, and while I wouldn't put it on the same comedic level at all, this movie has more than its fair share of angst, brooding, and longing looks as well as plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. It will never appeal to guys the way it does to girls, but it does have just enough action to not be in the same drippy romance department as The Notebook. The chemistry between the characters is undeniable. The writing deviates from the book in several ways, but basically stays true to the plotline. The dialogue has been updated a bit, with references to Google and MySpace, and the scenery is shot very well. This is going to be an instant classic for many who will remember the frenzy as a bonding time with other girls or a first crush. It isn't the best movie (who was expecting it to be?) but I loved it, and I'll see it again. You can't help yourself when surrounded by girly teenage love from all sides. I'm like, SO crushing on you right now, Edward!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Okay, you have my attention...

I haven't been into Star Trek for years now, but I gotta admit it's looking interesting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dim Sum for Lunch

Although my favorite place for dim sum is Ocean Palace (lunch only), I wanted to try to make some myself. I went for pork siu mai for my first try, and they turned out really good! I followed this recipe, but cut it in half since I didn't need so much food for me alone:

3 dried Chinese black or Shiitake mushrooms
6 ounces peeled deveined large shrimp
1 green onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3/4 cup ground pork
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
about 20 gyoza wrappers (or won ton wrappers cut into circles).
Soften the mushrooms by soaking in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water. Cut off the stems.

Soak the shrimp in warm, lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Pat dry. Mince the mushrooms, shrimp, and green onion. Combine with the ginger and pork. Stir in the seasonings. Mix the filling ingredients thoroughly.

Lay a gyoza wrapper in front of you. Wet the edges. Put 2 to 3 teaspoons of filling in the middle, taking care not to get too close to the edges. Gather up the edges of the wrapper and gently pleat so that it forms a basket shape, with the top of the filling exposed.

Steam over boiling water until the filling is cooked through (5 to 10 minutes).

I used fresh mushrooms instead of dried so I wouldn't have to go through the soaking process. Shiitake worked really well for me. I also have a bamboo steamer for my wok, so the steaming process took longer, but I think they turned out better for it. The baskets are fairly inexpensive and can be found all over like Cost Plus or Bed Bath & Beyond, or even Target. I lined my steamer with lettuce leaves (cabbage leaves are typically used). My steamer is two-tiered, so I let the bottom tier steam for 30 minutes, and then ate while the top tier steamed for about another 8 to 10 minutes or so. I sliced some fresh cucumber with peppercorn ranch dressing as a side, and had some loose-leaf Jasmine tea with my lunch. The loose tea is best with more fragrant teas like chamomile, jasmine, or any flower teas. My favorite is the Republic of Tea Jasmine Jazz.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fall, Top Chef, and Online Idiots

Just watched a little-known movie recently out on DVD called The Fall. It was done by the same guy (Tarsem Singh) who was responsible for The Cell, and he brought the same gorgeous cinematography to this film. Its a sort of love letter to silent movie stuntmen and legends like Buster Keaton, but it is beautifully told and features a lovely little girl who in my opinion should be on the same level as Shirley Temple. If you get the chance, watch it!

The new season of Top Chef started this week, and I'm not as jazzed about these contestants, but hopefully that will change. The first quickfire was an elimination, and was rather blandly done with apples (Big Apple - New York, I get it. Blah.). The big challenge brought in some familar famous chef judges from seasons past, and had the contestants cooking from several different ethnic communities. It seems that the ones that make it to the end are either very politically correct and amiable, or really egotistical. It looks as if the ego award will probably go to Stefan, and rightfully so since he won both the quickfire and main challenges. Will that secure him a spot in the final? My money is on yes, but whether he will win in the end is, I hope, up for debate. The hottie is most definitely Jeff, and I love quirky Carla. I'd love to see her, Gene, Hosea or Jamie make the final cut. I'm not picking a winner this time since Richard broke my streak last season, but I'll be watching every week!

And finally, in the stupid news category, this report on CNN about a Second Life divorce just really takes the cake for non-newsworthy reporting. I'd like to know what lame-o executive over there has so few real life experiences that a ridiculous break-up of two people who cannot exist out from behind a monitor screen is one of the top national news stories today. Aren't there more important things happening? I don't give a flying fart about two WoW-addicted morons who spend their time trying to make their online personalities work since they can't seem to have one in reality. Don't get me wrong - I have spent a significant amount of time playing games, and I'm a big fan of The Sims, but GET A LIFE ALREADY (NOT a "Second Life")!!!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Jack is Back

Finally, the new season of 24 is beginning on January 11th and 12th, and the previews look good so far. Tony is back as well, but as a baddie. Should be interesting...

But besides the upcoming new season, there is also the TV movie 24:Redemption coming later this month on Sunday November 23rd and released a few days later on DVD.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sad News

I was very unhappy to hear of Paul Newman's passing some weeks ago, as I have been a fan of his practically all my life, and admired him greatly not only for his acting ability but his character and selflessness as well. But I was not shocked at that news, since it had been widely reported that he was suffering with cancer.

The news about Michael Crichton's death from cancer today was a big shock, and I'm sad to hear of it. He has been a huge influence not only in the literary world, but television and movies especially. I'm sorry we won't see more amazing things from him.

But just as we're laying to rest the creator of Jurassic Park, we are experimenting dangerously with the very topic he warned us about in his book:

Scientists clone frozen mice - hope to clone extinct species in the future.

A Hopeful Election

I don't usually blog about politics, but I'm feeling very good about this election. Even though I'm deep in the heart of Bush-land, in a very red state, I'm very glad enough people who are frustrated with the situation at hand went out and made a real difference yesterday. I'm glad I was one of them, and props to all of you who made your voice count as well. Here's hoping the change is for the better!