Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Old Fairy Tales...and Robert Carlyle

Looking at this, you're probably thinking, 'holy hell, three posts in the span of one week? Somebody's apparently gotten herself together!' Well, I'd love for that to be true, but it is a blatant untruth. Instead, what I'm is doing is procrastinating. My fake midterms are coming up and I have no desire to study for them or actually do anything school-related so...I blog. Also known as throwing my thoughts out into the proverbial Internet stratosphere and hoping that somebody is amused, entertained, touched, all three, or none of the above. Also, I've decided to boycott Facebook until the Election Day because, while I know everybody is absolutely 100% entitled to their opinion, I have no desire to read a whole host of political posts, memes, notes, and article links. People embrace their right to engage in free speech, I embrace my right to find other avenues of entertainment until elections come and go.

This post is dedicated to Once Upon a Time, one of ABC's newer shows which, at least for me, is an absolute slam dunk (hopefully I used that correctly because I know nothing about basketball...but it sounds right). I started watching this show because I am a geek at heart. Like still get really excited about fairy tales geek. And I also had about ten friends telling me that I had to watch this show and, if I didn't, they'd boycott me. During one of many attempts at procrastination, I thought it would be a great idea to start watching this. And it paid off completely.

I shall start with the world's most general plot EVER. Basically evil witch casts mega bad spell as a vengeful act and what the spell did was tear everybody out of super happy magical world and thrust them into Storybrook, Maine in the real world- a place where people never leave and nobody ever goes. None of the magical beings remember who they were in the real world. But they have a savior- and that savior is Snow White's and Prince Charming's daughter, Emma, who was brought to Storybrook by her biological son that she gave up, Henry. Convoluted? Little bit. But then throw in flashbacks to various character's lives. And you have a whole host of characters, not the least of which are Mad Hatter, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, Snow White, Prince Charming, Belle, Gepetto, Pinocchio, the Evil Queen, and many, many, many others. And, in fairy tale land, they all know each other. Like Cinderella and Snow White are friends, how awesome is that. It sounds slightly confusing but it is excellent, I promise, if a bit cheesy. 

However, now I have to tangent. I have a longstanding love of Robert Carlyle. For those of you who don't know who he is, he is Gaz from The Full Monty, he is Renard in The World Is Not Enough, he is Don Harris in 28 Weeks Later, he is brilliant. He is also Scottish, for those of us who adore Scottish accents. I don't know why I have loved this actor since The World Is Not Enough but there is just something about him. He is also Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time (haha, you knew I would get to the point sometime!). Part of the reason that I love this show so much is because of Robert Carlyle. That's not to say that everybody else isn't wonderful (they are) but there is just something that is extra wonderful about him. They also give him a really cool plotline that I cannot reveal without spoiling but, I will say is wonderful. Like made him even more so my favourite character in the entire show. Also, hint two: for those of you who were raised on Disney animated movies released during, say, the Disney Renaissance (years- late 1980s to 2000-ish), you will be super excited on how they incorporate, quite unexpectedly I might add, Rumpelstiltskin into one of the storylines. But that is all I can say because to say more is to ruin how unbelievably unexpected and how exciting that incorporation is. Tangent complete and the gist of it is- I adore Robert Carlyle and will shamelessly root for any character he takes up (even the ones trying to kill James Bond).

This TV show definitely won't be for everybody. It's a...well, it's a...well, it's really difficult to describe what it is exactly. It's a love story, it's an action adventure, it's fantasy, it's just got a little something for everybody. I have yet to test it out on Heath so you're really just getting a woman's opinion here- however, from the comments on Hulu, there are lots of men who like it! I'm not sure that's an adequate sample of the average male population though, to be perfectly honest. But, although this show is infinitely cheesy, it is really good. It reintroduces fairy tales in a different light and that's something important. It would be easy to become disenchanted with fairy tales (see what I did there? Sadly, I'm probably more amused by that than any of you are) because we hear them over and over again from the time we're born. Until I was about eight, there wasn't a night that I didn't read my big blue book of fairy tales before I went to bed. Obviously, they become old hat and other things can take their place. But they have a startling ability to make us think and to teach us lessons and to remind us why women being allowed to become something other than housefraus is a good thing (sorry, I think that might be my own personal lesson....carrying on). And what Once Upon a Time does is take all of those old lessons and all of those old characters that we loved and give them a face lift. You know, Snow White, in both worlds, although idealistic and sweet, is kind of a BAMF. I mean, she kicks ass- she can use a bow and arrow like nobody's freaking business. And then Rumpelstiltskin- he's bad but he's not evil (you thought you'd catch me making a spoiler- uhuh. Not happening). And then Red Riding Hood? Yeah, she's Snow's best friend in fairy tale world and she has an awesome story line. I could seriously go on and on about this, which I kind of already have, but all of these are just examples of how they take these and modernize the stories while still rooting them in the fairy tale lore that made us love them in the first place.

So yeah...go watch it. It's amazing.

On a side note, I am pondering making pumpkin pie sometime this weekend after I get done with the make-believe midterms. Pictures of that amazingness- or whatever wondrous bake-stuffs I actually decide to make- will probably make their way up here sometime...eventually...down the road...maybe. No firm promises here! In the meantime, Harley Quinn, over and out!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cupcakes, Egg Nog, and Extra Weight

And once again I prove how completely inept I am at staying up-to-date on the little things...such as a blog. What the hell kind of lawyer am I going to make? On the plus side, I did get to talk to Heath, eat fast food Chinese, and do hours of work for the PRACTICE mid-terms I have. When did something that didn't count take up so much of my stinking time? Ah, well, c'est la vie. On the plus side though, I get to see Heath in a little over two weeks which I am so freaking excited about I just can't stand it. Until that glorious day gets here though, I have classes, make-believe midterms, and outlines to do.

However, I do have fun things and they are called cupcakes. These are pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting that are just everything that is good about fall. And for those of you who say Halloween is the greatest thing about fall, I agree with you. However, as a popular (to me) meme says, 'Halloween is a lifestyle, not a holiday.' This is a true statement. A true Halloween-ite has Halloween decorations hanging every single day of the year. I usually do this except when I can't figure out how to hang my Halloween lanterns because the apartment is conspicuously missing outlets in convenient places. That's not to say there are no outlets (there are plenty) but that the outlets that are around are really inconveniently placed.

Back to cupcakes though. These cupcakes are incredibly yummy and the frosting is worth just eating out of the bowl (even though I don't do that anymore because otherwise a certain person takes away my frosting and cupcakes without frosting are just no bueno). They're incredibly moist and slightly light but not like you're eating angel food cake moist. I lifted this recipe from somewhere, I have no idea where, but whoever it is, if you know them, then they totally get all the credit. If I had thought this through when I was baking them, I would've taken photos of the steps but...yeah, fail on my part.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
· 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sift before measuring

· 1 tablespoon baking powder

· 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

· 1/2 teaspoon salt

· 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

· 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

· 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

· 1/2 cup butter, softened

· 1 1/3 cups sugar

· 2 eggs, beaten until frothy

· 1 cup mashed cooked or canned pumpkin

· 3/4 cup milk

· 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a bowl. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs. Blend in mashed pumpkin. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk, blending until batter is smooth after each addition; stir in chopped walnuts or pecans. Spoon batter into well-greased and floured or paper-lined muffin pan cups. Fill about 2/3 full. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

They're delicious, I promise. And then once you add the cream cheese, it's just kind of an out of body experience. For those of you who are super sweet cream cheese frosting people, this may not be the right one for you...or if you don't like cream cheese or are lactose intolerant. Although it does have two cups of powdered sugar, you can still very much taste the cream cheese. It also has a really unusual look to it once you get it on the cupcake. It does not look delicate or pretty- it just looks stinking delicious is all.

Cream Cheese frosting

1- 8 oz cream cheese

¼- cup butter

2- cups powdered suger

1- tsp vanilla extract (may use almond instead)

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla and then gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

If you decide to use the almond, that tastes delicious as well. It's just extremely yummy in general. I tend to make these for parties or when I decide to eat my feelings or get bullied into it by my friends. Really, these're good just any time at all. Especially if you have one with egg nog. That does not need to be homemade though- I just do the lazy thing and buy a half gallon of it. Although there is something completely wondrous about an apartment or home filled with the smell of baking pumpkin and cinnamon. I don't know what it is about those two smells but when you do smell them it's just like everything else goes away and you think, 'opening a bakery...yeah, that sounds like a good idea.' Or maybe it's just me that does that? I sound like a future Maggie Gyllenhall Stranger Than Fiction law school dropout minus the sleeve tattoos and the height.

Either way, y'all should try these because, well, they're delicious. But don't take my word on it, just make them yourself. They're really simple and typically a hit with people who love pumpkin, cream cheese, or both. And now, at the end of this extraordinarily unhealthy post, signing off with a Julia Child aphorism (that really she just inherited from the French, the food extraordinaires)- Bon app├ętit!

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Not-So-Crazy but Still Fun Wonderland (Where One Does Not Play Croquet with Hedgehogs and Flamingos)

Well, hello again. Without intention, I took pretty much a two month break from blogging. One day I looked at the calendar and it was early day is October 8. Time manages to do some strange, unusual, and horrific things when we really aren't paying attention to it, doesn't it? It really is a needy, clingy little thing.

However, I am not without my excuses for my two month leave of absence. The first is that I miss Heath and have spent the majority of my free time either talking to him or eating my feelings and watching trash-Netflix. I have not found the real soap operas on there to waste my time (example- did the evil twin kill his brother's fiancee, Miss Scarlett, in the study with the rope...oh wait, no, that's not right- that's not a soap opera, it's a board game). The second is the age old excuse that everyone bandies around when it seems like the best option. And that is, I'm in law school. It is a time-eating behemoth that's only happy when you burst into tears in an apartment (any apartment really, it doesn't even have to be yours) and end up cursing everyone from yourself for going to law school to your elementary school bus driver who told you that you would go places and everyone in between. I have not done this yet; many friends of mine have and all of them have required the proverbial talking-off-the-ledge which usually consists of a conversation much like the following. Friend (gasping, hiccuping, and just a basic all around mess): I shouldn't be in law school, I am just way too stupid to be here, and I think the admissions office made a mistake and I'm just gonna drop out because I'd probably be much happier in [insert grad program of your choice]. Response (said over the top of a Contracts book- your empathy skills really go to hell in law school): That was a lot of information to take in in 15 seconds. And don't worry, you're not going to drop out and if I'm smart enough to be here, you are too. Friend: No, I'm serious! You don't think I'm serious but I am- I'm gonna drop out, I swear! Response: Sure, you are. I'll see you tomorrow. Friend is then in class the next day. It's quite amusing. However, that's not to say that I have not had my hissy fits. They just have not involved tears and, I am proud to say, they have not been in public. However, they usually involve a veiled threat to drop out of law school, open a bakery, and go into a Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic emphasis. I am nothing if not diverse.

But the reason I posted was most certainly not to bitch about law school. It's a great experience and I'm sure it'll all be worth it just like my undergrad with my doomed Victorian love affair with my thesis. That was worth it, I'm sure this is too. The reason I did post was because I stumbled across the world's best rendition of Alice- and this is the Canadian mini-series called, funnily enough, Alice (imdb link: Alice and her funky adventures in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter are completely sacrosanct to me. I've loved the books since I was a child, have a freakish amount of copies that I read multiple times a year, and, on my 21st birthday, Heath gave me the world's best birthday present, an early 1900s copy of Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There and a reproduced copy of the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland manuscript called Alice's Adventures Underground. These books are close to my heart and I am incredibly picky about the recent outflow of movies, TV shows, and other stuff that's been released about Alice, Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter.

Needless to say, I was hesitant to watch this because, well, what if they did something dastardly with the books. Well, they did. However, everything that they did drew me in and incorporated Lewis Carroll's vision in such a way that I just couldn't not love it. 

The story is the same-ish of the one that we all know and love and yet has it funky quirks. Alice is a black belt, for one. I do not remember that in the story. But it worked. Alice falls in love with guy in Real People World (from here on in known as RPW) named Jack. Now Jack's a sweet guy but receives a gloriously direct text message from someone we as the audience don't know saying, Run. He runs but not before he gives Alice a lovely, very large ring in a cool, cake-like box. I do believe we see where this might be going, except we don't. Jack then runs out and Alice chases him but loses him. She is then cornered by a man with white hair in pigtails in a waistcoat, demanding to know where Jack is. She runs but then falls through a giant piece of glass just randomly sitting in a construction sight. Meet Wonderland, Ms. Alice, where you are an Oyster who the Queen uses to suck out all the emotions that are foreign to the Wonderland-ites. Things like joy, laughter, all of these super-cool emotions that Wonderland-ites apparently don't feel, are stolen from the Oysters who are brought through the Looking Glass.

We then meet the Mad Hatter. So I will be perfectly frank here and say that I did adore Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. They gave him a nice, slightly unexpected backstory and he did well. I liked the movie, even own it actually, and liked how they made it a sequel. It was fun. If I compare it to the books, it's not even remotely close. I mean, they made an entire movie essentially out of a poem- good creativity, Tim Burton, and fun but definitely not spot on. Well, the Alice Mad Hatter is unexpectedly good-looking (Andrew Lee Potts for those of you that know him; if you don't, look him up) and runs a tea room where he sells the various emotions leeched from the Oysters. He agrees to help Alice look for and rescue Jack. Then he discovers that she has the Looking Glass Ring, the Ring that allows the Looking Glass to work as a portal, bringing in Oysters from RPW to fuel their economy with ill-gotten emotions. Searing for the ring ensues by the queen and Alice proceeds to do what Alice always does best which is turn Wonderland on its head. Alas, no spoilers because people who spoil should receive a thousand lashes with a wet noodle. If you want to know the ending, go watch it. It's on Netflix and Amazon.

I was having a really bad day when I stumbled onto this mini-series. This was the perfect cheer-er up-per...those're totally words. Although it is significantly different from the books, it was, for me at least, a really good Alice tune-up. It took most, not all, of the elements that I loved from the books and gave it a modern tune-up while still keeping all of the reasons that I loved the books. Probably not as child friendly as the books or the Disney movie are but that's debatable because the last time I showed the Disney Alice to a child, they burst into tears and kicked me in the shins. I was not pleased. The Mad Hatter is pretty much on point- yeah, he's not mad per se but the madness was inspired by the fact that he was a hatter and therefore had some close contact with mercury fumes which definitely are not too great for the brain. In this, he's not so much a hatmaker but a man who wears a hat and is a little quirky but not mad. It's an intriguing, unexpected spin that was a wee bit risky if you consider that some of the audience would be die-hard Alicers, like me, but it paid off. Kathy Bates as the Queen of Hearts was definitely some inspired casting there. She played the power-mad Queen so very well. In addition, they had some very unusual spins on, say, the Caterpillar, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (who are mind-twisting doctors), Carpenter, and the pink flamingos. Also, Tim Curry unexpectedly appears in all of his wonderful creepy glory and he is, as usual, quite good. The plot, even if deviating from the books, is fluid and you get drawn into it really easily. It is definitely quite addictive and very fun. So for those of you who are interested in seeing a fun, modern Alice that's not cripplingly different from the books (i.e. different in a bad way), you should definitely check into this.

On a side note, I spent my Sunday baking which resulted in pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Just because I am amused by them and they're quite pretty, I am going to post a quick write up and a picture of them tomorrow because...well, hey, it's my blog. I can do what I want- kidding on that one for the most part.

If anyone's interested in seeing a specific review of something, let me know. Provided it's not anime (I am anime slow; I just cannot get into it and not for lack of trying) I will do pretty much anything. Hope you all enjoyed the most recent update! Harley Quinn out.