Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Enlighten Me" | The New Fifty Shades Trailer

Remember when I did that post with a frame-by-frame review for the first Fifty Shades trailer? That was a fun one for me to write because I love doing reviews ... and I love movies ... and I love books ... and I love comparing movies to books. And I have this ridiculous memory that makes me pull each apart and compare them. 

To start, as I said before, I am really looking forward to this movie! You can go back and read the original post (linked above) for the what and the why and the whatever.

But really. Come on. It's so bad yet good yet bad yet great!

Tonight the new full second trailer premiered. I'm not normally a Scandal viewer ... but I totally watched it to see the preview. And then proceeded to write this while ignoring the rest of Scandal. 

And now, for my frame by frame "review" of the new trailer!

Oh Christian. The new poster has the nose-down photo seen here ... with the lovely gray tie in his hand. Hmmmmmm ... 
Random, but the beginning back and forth section between Anastasia and Christian getting ready in their respective homes reminded me of the opening sequence for Devil Wears Prada. You know ... the way it shows Anne Hathaway getting ready with her boring clothes and putting on lip gloss and then flipping to one of the fashionable Runway "clackers" getting ready in a much different way. Anywho ... I like this sequence here. Shows the difference between Christian and Anastasia and the worlds they inhabit.

Her closet is what I would imagine. Actually, in some ways her poor fashion choices and bad hair reminds me of Hathaway's character in Devil Wears Prada. 
Oh good golly. Which one is the grey tie?!?!?!?!
Just like I imagined it. Also, I really like that it's Grey HOUSE. I don't know what it is ... but something.
Nothing new here, we saw it in the first trailer. But man oh man ... do I like this view of Christian in his office and that view. Ummmmmmmm. 
"Anastasia,"
"Christian."
- Eeeeeeeekkkkkkkk -
The sexual tension is just palpable.
Huh. Not what I imagined Kate Kavanaugh looking like for some reason. 
I could go on and on here. Jennifer Ehle as Anastasia's mom! Oh goodness! For those you who don't know ... Ehle played Elizabeth Bennet years ago in the BBC mini series production of Pride & Prejudice, opposite Collin Firth. I look forward to anything she does. But her role here is quite small. 
At the hardware store when Christian shows up to surprise her. Looks like I would imagine it. 
He really is yummy.
And here is Christian at the hardware store asking for ... ummmm ... cable ties.
Giggle giggle.
I just thought this was a pretty frame.
Oh good god. The Audi R8 Spyder that Christian drives.
Drool.
Still drooling. I love a man who can really wear a suit.
"What is it about elevators?"
Ok. Point of correction. This is in the Audi R8. The whole "I like strapping you in" joke is supposed to come in Charlie Tango (the helicopter).
Speaking of Charlie Tango ... 
Ummm. Did I miss something in the book? I don't remember spinning in the living room. Unless this is in "inner goddess". 
More Charlie Tango.
Christian is such a brooding gentleman .... but at least he broods in a fabulous apart with a great view. 
< Pause to drool over his abs >
And there are the scars.
"I had a rough start to life."
Oh Christian. 
That top does nothing for her ...
But that suit does EVERYTHING for him ... 
Red room of pain.
Dum dum dummmmmmm.
(Or should I say "dom dom dommmmmmm" .... hehe ... I had to)
The Contract. Oh man.
Reviewing the contract in her cozy little room. So different from Christian's apartment. 
Right after they have coffee and he saves her from the rogue biker.
"I'm no good for you."
Gliding. I really really want to try this now.
Dinner at the Grey house. I don't know ... Mia and Elliot just don't look like I imagined. I reserve judgement.
I assume this is arriving at the Grey house to meet the fam. And that must be the girl that comes up later in the books from the salon too (Greta ... Heidi ... something ...)
Jose getting a little too close and Christian protecting Anastasia. 
SPOILER: things get a little hot and steamy in Fifty Shades.
Wait ... never mind ... that's not a spoiler. 
Still not a spoiler .... 
Is that an Audi commercial I see?
No ... it's Christian driving his fabulous car. 
Not the A8. Unfortunately. 
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
So .... when is the third trailer?
Only 3 months till the movie itself!!!!






Monday, November 3, 2014

The (Social) Game of Life

Toys R Us 
Do you remember the Game of Life? It was one of three board games I had growing up. Not too many in my house since I was an only child, but I did have this one. Remember the basic premise? You start in high school or college with a little car and spin the wheel. The car moves forward that many spots on the board and whatever happens on that square happens to you in life. The game progresses as life does: school, relationship, kids, family, job, retirement, etc. A very logical path forward (literally).

I was thinking about this game the other day as I was on Facebook, browsing through my wall and seeing all my friend's posts about Halloween. In the past, Halloween posts were about my friends in costumes and out having a good time. Now they have progressed to be about their kids being all adorable in their little costumes. That's the Game of Life. The years pass by, the wheel gets to spinning, you move forward on the game board ... there is a logical path that most people take. Most of my friends my own age are married, having kids, buying and remodeling houses, etc. That is the stage we are at in life. Just like the game ... spin the wheel, move forward.

This got me thinking about how social media and the FB wall is like the Game of Life. It's our own personal game board where we post the next spin on the wheel. And most people progress through a natural path:

It shows us that life goes on, that we are growing and moving forward.

In my case ... it looks a little different. Considering I didn't really party or go to football games or such in college, my wall/game board looks more like a flat line with much of the same throughout the last 10 years. Seriously. In college I was traveling and studying and seeing movies and working out to try and lose those last stubborn 10 pounds. After college I was traveling and seeing movies and working and working out to try and lose those last stubborn 10 pounds. And sometime later I was traveling and seeing movies and studying again (MBA) and still working out to lose those last stubborn 10 pounds. The setting for my activities have changed ... the car to get me from point A to point B has gotten better ... the TV upon which I watch my movies has gotten bigger and smarter ... but the activities are the same.



What's that say about me? 



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Will The Real Mr. Darcy Please Stand Up


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a movie adaptation in pursuit of an actor must be in want of criticism. 

When any book gets turned into a movie, people will inevitably comment on the casting choices. Readers get very invested in the characters and they envision exactly who they think should play the role. And when the casting comes out, they love the actors or they hate them. It doesn't matter what the book is ... if there is a following, there will be commentary. From Christian Gray and Anastasia Steel in 50 Shades of Grey (how can one forget the commentary around that - but I think it all turned out for the best - check out my "frame by frame" run down of the trailer), to Gone Girl, and even to the comic book characters of Marvel. There are strong feelings about casting of any story or character.

In many cases, some haven't even read the book until after they have seen the movie. Then they feel even more strongly about the actors in the original since they carry those images with them into the book. This has happened to me on many an occasion. I didn't read the Harry Potter books until long after I saw the first few movies, so Harry and Hermoine and Ron will always be the actors from the books. Same thing happened with Twilight .... I read the books after I saw the first movie. Therefore, for better for for worst, Edward and Bella will always be Kristin Steward and Robert Pattinson. Although I read the Divergent series in full before I saw the movie, it was after I saw the first preview - so the characters are the actors for me (and what amazing casting that was!).

And then, to add a layer of complexity, things get even tougher when you add in previous versions of the story. Then, are you not only competing with the characters that readers have built up in their mind from the book itself, BUT you are also dealing with previous actors and actresses that have stepped in and filled those shoes and actually become the characters for many audiences. Think Sabrina - Audrey Hepburn and Julia Ormond. Think The Parent Trap. Think Ocean's 11 - Rat Pack or Clooney/Pitt/and company.

One of the best examples is probably James Bond. So many actors over the years. So many opinions on who is the Bond ... James Bond. 

But I think THE epitome of this conversation is Pride & Prejudice. Darcy and Elizabeth. 

Pause for sigh.

I cannot remember the first time I read P&P, but I was very young. And it was definitely long before I saw any film or production. But the first time I saw any production it was the 5 hour BBC mini series staring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Yes ... the one where Colin Firth emerges from the lake in a wet white shirt.

Pause for sigh.

And soon thereafter came the film adaptation of Bridget Jone's Diary which is modeled after P&P. Including Mark Darcy, who is clearly modeled after Mr. Darcy. And, in fact, Helen Fielding said that she envisioned Colin Firth as Mark Darcy in her book. 

So, clearly, Colin Firth became Darcy in many ways in my mind ... and the minds of many of that time. 

Then came the first big screen adaptation in awhile - Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy. They did a very good job in that adaptation. Keira in particular was a great balance of mischief and wit, simple and understated beauty, honesty and fun. 

And now, this week and last on Masterpiece Mystery, was the two-part Death Comes to Pemberley, based on the novel by P.D. James. Staring Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anne Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Darcy, and Matthew Goode as Wickham. Anything that sparks even remotely of P&P, whether a modern day movie adaptation or a new book that extends the lives of Darcy and Elizabeth or a stage production, gets my immediate attention. So of course I read the book, and of course I was greatly looking forward to these Sunday nights. 

I really enjoyed the story, the acting, the setting, the costumes. I looked forward to the little moments throughout that showed the love between Darcy and Elizabeth - little notes and embraces, looks shared between the two, and glimpses into everyday life at Pemberley. Sigh ... again. And the story itself was really quite good. It picks up later in life and isn't about Darcy and Elizabeth directly, but rather focuses on the mystery surrounding a death on Pemberley grounds supposedly perpetrated by Wickham himself. 

Yet no matter how good the production, how well the actors do with the material in their own regard, or how accurate the film stays to the book, there is always going to be commentary around the actors themselves from those who envision Colin Firth or Keira Knightley or someone else in the roles. People cannot get past that. As I was perusing the social space, I saw comment after comment about this. Personally, I think that Rhys and Martin do a great job with the material and they work very well together. They are not perhaps what I envision as Darcy and Elizabeth because I too am generally pretty stuck on the actors in the versions I grew up with, but that does not take aways anything from Rhys and Martin. 

At first glance, Rhys and Martin just didn't hit me as Darcy and Elizabeth. But after awhile they grew on me and I came to really like them in their respective roles. I had to get past Austen's original characters. They were young, they were in the first bloom of love. They were getting to know each other. Darcy was extra haughty and rude. Elizabeth was very free with no responsibilities. This is 6 or 8 years later. They have grown. They have gotten to know each other. They have both taken on increased responsibilities and have settled into life at Pemberley. They are parents and have to deal with much in the way of maintaining a home and a life for themselves and all those who rely on them and Pemberley. 

Originally I thought that Rhys didn't quite bring that presence, haughtiness and grandeur I have come to expect from Darcy. But, perhaps that is a good thing. His marriage to Elizabeth and the years should have softened him a little bit. Made him less haughty. More approachable. As for Martin, in the way she speaks and carries herself she does bring forth Elizabeth. But, in her appearance I initially didn't think she looked like I would expect Elizabeth. She is a little too small ... a little too meek. She is missing something of the youthful joy I have come to expect. But then again, just like Darcy, years have passed and she has presumably grown up as well. She has become older and wiser and has taken on the challenge of running Pemperley. So perhaps the way she comports herself works for this version of Elizabeth. So while individually they may not feel like the great literary characters from Austen's work, together and with some years behind them, Rhys and Martin bring forth a version of Darcy and Elizabeth that works and that seems appropriate for the P.D. James story. 

And now, onto Wickham. While he was important in Austen's work (duh), he was never as central as he is here. As long as he was just a little too good looking and a little too smooth, he worked. You didn't have to like him in Austen's work. In fact ... you were supposed to not like him. But here you must try and find some redeeming qualities in him. And Goode does a great job of brining that forward. He gives Wickham's character more dimension and a spark of hope. 

Of course, no conversation about Austen and P&P and Darcy and Elizabeth would be complete without a commentary on the setting and costumes. They did not disappoint ... and that is an understatement. Everything was beautiful ... just beautiful. To use Austen language, all the "appointments" were just lovely. Pemberley house itself both in interior and exterior are grand and rich. The interior in particular is just beautiful. All the rooms are so rich and full of lovely textures and fabrics, furniture and art, sculpture, flowers, etc. Just beautiful. Then of course there are the clothes. I like how they really keep things very simple for Elizabeth. There is no ball or grand dinner, so we don't get a chance to really see her in a ball gone or such. All of her dresses throughout are really quite simple and basic, and all in the same basic color scheme of blue-green. Simple, but pretty. They work for her. It is just yet another reminder that she did not marry Darcy for his money or jewels. Georgiana's dresses are fancier than Elizabeth's even. (Pause: Anyone else that Georgiana is the best friend from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging? It is.)

So there you have it. My ramblings on one of my favorite stories of all time. I think it's time to go watch some other Austen films. Perhaps some BBC Emma ... or Gwyneth Paltrow Emma ... or Emma Thompson Sense & Sensibility. 





Saturday, November 1, 2014

When Did "Sexy Kitten" Become "Cute Kitten"?


Remember that scene in Mean Girls when Halloween is described as just an opportunity for girls to dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it? Lingerie and animal ears. That's what Halloween is all about.

But at some point, somewhere in your mid to late 20s, Halloween changes. It goes from sexy to sweet. From you to your kids. This has been slowly happening over the years, but this year I noticed it more than others. Maybe because Halloween fell on a Friday so it was a perfect storm.

While 100% of my newsfeed on Facebook used to be my friends in crazy costumes, out on the town, drinking, going a little bit crazy. Now, especially this year, my newsfeed is 95% my friend's kids. As cute little animals or princesses or superheros. They are adorable. Really they are. So cute. It's a natural evolution, of course. But this year it just seemed to hit me harder than before. They really all have kids. And if they don't have kids ... they have the first on the way. Or they have their nieces or nephews. Or, at the very least, a dog (or two) to dress up.

I should probably mention that I don't even like Halloween. We were not a Halloween household and it wasn't something I got excited about. I can only remember one costume/Halloween I dressed up since middle school I think. About three years ... I went to a party ... dressed as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.




Monday, October 20, 2014

I've been dating since I was 17. I'm exhausted. Where is he?


Did you get the SATC quote reference in the title? Oh Charlotte .... 

I've been online dating for 4 years. Some breaks here and there, but pretty much 4 years of online dating. I've been on many first dates. Of which maybe 10% have led to second dates. And only 1% of those have led to more. Of that, there has been 1 "relationship" that came out of online dating.

I've done Eharmony, Match and (most recently) OkCupid. Eharmony was way too expensive and involved of a process, and the men weren't that great in the end. Match and OkCupid are really quite similar except the later is free.

In the end, it's a lot of the same thing and it's hit or miss on any given day. Some good guys .... some weird guys ... and some plain old (and I do mean old) creepy guys.

The part that bothers me the most are those men who really don't pay attention to your profile and just email a generic "hi" or "what's up". Come on, really? I will pretty much respond to any guy who actually calls out something from my profile or doesn't do a copy/paste, but something with some actual personality. And those are more rare than would think.

As I get older, one thing that I think about is: should I become more picky or less picky? On one side, the pool of eligible men is shrinking and I need to be more open. On the other, I am getting older and am looking more and more for someone more serious and that means that I have a right to be more picky. So, I'm torn.

Then you wonder what you should really put "out there". Do you put everything out there to hopefully find someone who sparks to your true self? Or do you make it more generic and open just to attract a wider range? But then do you really stand a chance for something with those people if you aren't up-front about who you are?

I wish I could do my own A/B test on OkCupid and put up like 4 different versions of my profile. All "me", but different versions of me ... different amounts and types of information offered up. One that's like my current one - travel photos with info about my interests and passions, etc. Then a different one that didn't include travel really, but maybe more focused on local things and photos from my recent 10K, a day at the apple orchard, etc. Then maybe a different version that shows me out with my friends in all the photos (which I actually hate in guy's profiles) and has a limited profile. Then a final one with no photo (haha, I wouldn't get any hits).

On that note ... I simultaneously just schedule a first date for this weekend while writing this post. Maybe there is hope out there ....

Then again ... maybe not ...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Around the World in 14 Dishes

What do flan, french fries, brisket, and empanadas have in common? 

Well, to most people, probably nothing (and they probably sound gross all together). 

But, for my group at work, they have a lot in common! They represent our very unique and diverse team! 

While at work recently, we thought: "Hey, our team really has a lot of diverse people with different backgrounds, we should celebrate that! And by celebrate, I mean how about we plan a potluck and eat tons of food that we all love." 

That is how the Around the World Potluck was conceived.

And today, it was executed. About 15 people from out team came together over a lunch of delicious foods from all over the world to share recipes, stories, some laughs and an overall great time! The food was amazing and I was seriously impressed by people's cooking and baking skills! Some folks were all about grandma's receipes ... others just threw ingredients together and made it work (i.e. the girl who made flan ... FLAN ... seriously impressed by someone who can make flan without a recipe and without measuring things out!). 

Since I am 100% Romanian, I made the only Romanian thing I can do on my own - Salata de Vignette. Eggplant Salad. Super easy to make and it is really healthy, low cal, a great snack, easy to make in bulk, and refreshing. Particularly great in summer. And it is always a staple at the holiday table. (Recipe include at the bottom of this post)

Here was the menu. Now you can see why I was in a total food coma all afternoon ... and totally impressed by people!

Appetizers
Salata de Vignette (Eggplant Salad)
Greek Orzo, Tomato and Feta Salad
Jamaican Beef Patties
Jamaican Empanadas

Entrees
BBQ Brisket
Italian Aioli pasta
Smoked knockwurst with sauerkraut

Sides
Colombian Arepas with Cheese
Nigerian Jollof Rice
Cuban Tostones
French Fries
Mac & Cheese

Desserts
Coconut Flan
Graham Cracker Toffee
Sweet Potato Pie

Beverages
Assorted Mexican drinks (soda, horchata, agua de jamaica, etc)



Brisket, mac & cheese, sausages, rice, fries, pasta .... oh my!
Yup, those are McDonald's fries ... FRENCH fries. Get it? The woman of our team who is of French descent (and has proclaimed herself a "non-cook" brought that in). Good idea!
This was mine - Salata de Vignete (Eggplant Salad). Super duper easy ... recipe at the bottom of this post. 
Sausages and sauerkraut from the best place in the city - Kramarczuk's.
That flan was AMAZING! And she made it with no recipe ... just "threw it together". Well done!
Totally indulged and had the classic Mecican Coke.



So, for the vignette. Super easy recipe and it's really refreshing and very light and diet friendly!

Ingredients
2-4 whole eggplants (really as many as you want)
Purple onion (tablespoon size quantity)
Mayo with olive oil
Tomatoes, bread and/or crackers to serve

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Bake whole eggplants on cookie sheet for 2 hours (like photo below)
  3. Prepare a cutting board on the edge of kitchen sink with towels rolled under one end so it is angled into the sink
  4. Slit eggplants open and use a spoon to scoop out the eggplant's insides - make sure you do not take any of the skin with you - it will create a bitter taste in the final dish!
  5. Spread insides onto cutting board and let water seep out and into sink
  6. Allow eggplant insides to dry overnight
  7. Using a food processor, mix eggplant insides, small amount of purple onion and mayo until well blended into smoothie-like consistency. Add additional mayo and purple onion as desired for taste.

You can serve this just in a bowl with crackers and/or bread ... or you can do what I did in my photo! Take small tomatoes (the ones at Costco are the perfect size) and cut off the top and scoop out interiors leaving hollow tomato bowl. Scoop vinette into hollow tomato cups. Ta-da ... instant (and deceptively easy) appetizer that everyone will love! It looks and tastes very unique ...

Spread them out on the cookie sheet. No other prep needed. Might want to cover them all with some aluminum foil just in case one bursts, to prevent the oven from getting dirty. 
Yummy! And pretty to serve. 





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