Movie Trilogies

>> 26 February 2009

I found this little gem on the ol' internet and that it was worth sharing. There are a few that I disagree with and several that I have never seen (Did anyone see Planet of the Apes II? Not if they saw the first one, they didn't). Indiana Jones, Star Wars, LOTR, and Spider Man are spot on. I disagree with Rocky and Back to the Future, because I believe in both of those, the third movie represents a significant decline from the first two. I would also say that Back to the Future I should basically have the highest rating possible.

Leave your opinion in the comments section. Which ones are right? Which ones are wrong? Best movie trilogy of all time?

PS - Mary, if you read this will you please make sure Christian sees this chart? I think he will probably have some pretty illuminating thoughts on the matter.

[edit] Movie-guru, Christian Plautz's, take on the trilogy issue is up on Mary's Blog [/edit]


I Am A Worthless Athlete

>> 18 February 2009

I enjoy playing soccer. I think it would also be safe to describe my skill-level as adequate. I willingly admit that I am not especially quick or skilled, but I enjoy the game and play frequently. Now, when I saw this video, of six-year-old Algerian soccer-phenom Madin Mohammed, I almost cried. European clubs such as Real Madrid and Chelsea FC are already rumored to be looking into the possibility of signing Madin and bringing him into their youth academies. So here's the video:

I am twenty years older than this kid and he is better than me. Sure, if we played head-to-head, I would win. Because I weigh four times as much as he does and my legs are longer than he is tall. But I can't do what he does. He's better than me. I have been bested by a six-year-old. I am a worthless athlete.

Go on. Tell me I'm useless. Leave your comments below:


Book Report

>> 14 February 2009

I've been busy reading. Now it's time to report.

Recommended:I realize that it's somewhat redundant for me to recommend the magnum opus of Nobel Prize Winner Toni Morrison. So this shouldn't come as a surprise: Beloved is a great book. Some people have claimed that this is the best novel written in the last twenty-five years or the best blah blah blah. I will say that Beloved is the best book about slavery that I've ever read.

The novel is about a woman, Sethe, who has escaped from a Kentucky plantation, only to find that she cannot escape what has happened to her and what she has done. Her house is haunted by a spirit - the spirit of her daughter, murdered as an infant: Beloved. One day, a girl who calls herself Beloved shows up at Sethe's house and the fallout begins. Slavery, murder, and ghosts, real and imagined.

The only real weakness of this novel is that there is a brief point in the middle (maybe 20 pages) where things sag a little bit. But otherwise, this novel is fantastic. Highly recommended.

Not Recommended:I picked this up because another Philip Roth book, American Pastoral, was recommended to me but this was the one I found in the used bookstore. Portnoy's Complaint is also the most famous and popular of Philip Roth's novels, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I made it 117 pages in before I had to quit. This novel takes the form of an extended monologue. Alex Portnoy is Complaining to his psychologist about his parents and his upbringing, etc. This is the novel. And it is annoying. The main joke is this: Alex complains about his Jewish upbringing. His mother is overbearing and his father suffers from terrible constipation and Alex is totally preoccupied with sex. That's it. That's the joke. OVER AND OVER AND OVER!

Save yourself the trouble: don't read this book.

In Progress:
Weighing in at more than 800 pages, this one's going to take a while. But I enjoyed White Noise, by the same author, so I am willing to give it a shot.


FRINGE Gets Awesome

>> 11 February 2009

I started watching this show, Fringe, when it started at the beginning of the television year. It is basically a show about a group of government crime-fighters who have to solve a bunch of mysteries involving "fringe-science." In other words: Sci-Fi-CSI.

While always somewhat intriguing, I think Fringe may have just turned a corner. The latest episode, "Ability," just turned a corner. In short: things got weird! And for the first time, there seems to be a compelling overarching plot. With Heroes tanking hard I am counting on Fringe to fill the void.

I don't watch too many TV shows, but they are all getting weird, and I'm enjoying it a great deal. Lost and Fringe are both swerving hard into the realm of science-fiction. Let's face it, there are enough police-procedural shows, and enough sitcoms and enough shows about hospitals and lawyers - let's give the nerds a chance to shine! Hurray.


30 Hour Bread (update)

>> 03 February 2009

Rochelle got a Kitchenaid Mixer for Christmas. For any readers who don't know what a Kitchenaid mixer is, allow me to explain. A Kitchenaid mixer is just like a normal mixer except heavier and more expensive and you don't have to hold it. Well, that's not entirely true. It is handy for some things. In particular, the dough-hook attachment makes it very easy to make bread dough. I have made two different kinds of bread so far: a sandwich-style loaf, and a rustic Italian loaf. The Italian bread turned out to be delicious, but also VERY time consuming. I spent more than 30 hours working on one loaf. Here's the timeline:

  • Sat. 3:00 PM - I mix ingredients for the "sponge" (the part that gets to rise extra long, in order to give the bread its flavor and chewiness) and set them aside to rise.
  • Sat. 6:00 PM - I check the sponge - it is rising but slowly.
  • Sat. 10:00 PM - I put the sponge in the refrigerator to continue to rise slowly during the night.
  • Sun. 4:00 PM - I remove sponge from the fridge and mix the second portion of the dough, setting the new dough aside to rise for twenty minutes.
  • Sun. 4:20 PM - I combine the sponge and the new dough, add salt, and mix until it turns into a cohesive ball.
  • Sun. 4:30 PM - Dough is placed in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, and allowed to rise for one hour.
  • Sun. 5:30 PM - I turn the dough in the bowl, cover it, and let it rise for another hour.
  • Sun. 6:30 PM - Repeat the previous step.
  • Sun. 7:30 PM - Repeat the process one more time.
  • Sun. 8:30 PM - I remove the dough from the bowl and gently press it into an 8x10 inch rectangle. I fold in the corners and roll it, so that it forms a football shape. The dough is then transferred to a sheet of parchment paper and dusted with flower and allowed to rise for one more hour.
  • Sun. 9:30 PM - I place a baking stone in the oven and turn it on to 500 degrees.
  • Sun. 9:45 PM - The dough is once again dusted with flour and then dripped with water. Using an inverted, cookie sheet, the loaf is transferred to the baking stone and baked at 500 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Sun. 9:55 PM - The oven temperature is reduced to 400 degrees. Loaf is rotated on the baking stone. The bread is baked for 35 more minutes.
  • Sun. 10:30 PM - Bread comes out from the oven and is placed on a wire rack to cool for 3 hours.
  • Mon. 1:30 PM - Bread is completely finished and ready to eat.
Start to finish: 34.5 hours. So, it was a little bit ridiculous, but this bread was so good. I will make it again this week!

Here's a picture of the chef with his creation:


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