Sunday, August 31, 2008

Goin' Bananas

    I'm not a big fan of Banana Bread, but as do most people, B likes it. So, I found one that not only is easy and delicious - but also one that I like!

    I got this recipe from The Food Network and it's Emeril's recipe, so how could it not be good! It makes a huge loaf of bread - enough to share with a friend... of course unless you really, really, really like Banana Bread!!

    I like a slice of this bread slathered with a generous amount of softened cream cheese! Mmmm!

    10 T Butter
    1 C Mashed Ripe Bananas (2-3 large bananas)
    1/2 c Sour Cream
    2 large Eggs
    1-1/2 tsp Vanilla
    2 c Flour
    3/4 c plus 2 T Sugar
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    3/4 tsp Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1 c toasted, chopped Walnuts

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

    Puree the bananas, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a food processor.

    Sift flour, sugar, soda, powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a whisk attachment. Add the reamining 10 T butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended. Add the banana mixture in three batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the walnuts.

    Pour into loaf Pan. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

    Oh boy, I wish you could smell this!

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Goin' Bananas


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If we were fishing for dinner, we'd go hungry!

    We went fishing Saturday at the Fresno Reservoir which was created by the Fresno Dam. The Dam holds back the Milk River, which is a tributary of the Missouri River.

    Missouri River?? Milk River?? All this sounds pretty foreign to me after living on/near the Colorado for the last 42 years, but there you have it!

    The Reservoir is 12 miles West of Havre. We trolled for Northern Pike and Walleye. We used blue lures, red lures, silver lures, lures with spinners, long lures, short lures, and black lures with yellow dots.

    It didn't matter, the fish weren't having anything to do with us! B caught one Northern, but it was a little'un so back to the water he went.

    We were on the lake for about 5 hours and even though we didn't come home with fish, it was a fun trip!

    I thought this bit of shoreline would make a nice camping spot...
    I like the way the water sparkled in this picture.
    Here's our Cap'n... and a good Cap'n he is!
    You can see how big the lake is -- 3,185 acres! That's a lotta water!

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If we were fishing for dinner, we'd go hungry!


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Watched TV: Saw Catch and Release


    Watched TV: Saw Catch and Release (Susannah Grant, 2006). Silly French title Ma Vie sans lui. An acceptable chick flick, sort of a romantic comedy, with endearing Jennifer Garner, not-yet-forgotten Juliette Lewis, and charming Timothy Olyphant. Nice scenery, presumably Colorado.

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Watched TV: Saw Catch and Release


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brining 101

    Frying a whole turkey has become a popular way to serve up your Thanksgiving bird. If you've ever fried a turkey, you probably brined it beforehand. Brining other kinds of meat will lend a flavorful difference to grilling, too!

    The basic ingredients for a brining solution for one pound of meat is:

    1 Quart Water
    1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
    1/2 Cup Sugar

    You can add many other ingredients, such as: beer or wine (in place of some of the water); brown sugar, honey, white sugar (a combination, or all of one kind); liquid crab boil; black pepper; peppercorns; rosemary; thyme; bay leaf.

    Prepare 1 quart of brine solution for each pound of meat. Soak the meat in the brine one hour per pound of meat, but not less than 30 minutes, and not more than 8 hours.

    So here we go... I started with 1 quart water, 1/2 c Kosher salt, and 1/2 c granulated sugar. To that, I added Worcestershire, 2 cloves garlic, pressed; parsley, rosemary, powdered crab boil; bay leaf, and peppercorns.
    I decided to brine some pork chops for dinner tonight. I have three thick pork loin boneless center cut chops that weighed a total of 1.6#.
    After the brining solution cooled, I poured it into a Ziploc bag and added the chops. That went into the refrigerator for two hours.
    I always rinse the meat when it comes out of the brining solution to get the peppercorns and other spices off the meat, but it's your choice to do that or not.
    B put these on the grill for 30-35 minutes. Look at how the sugar in the brine carmelizes to a nice brown crust on the chops. Mmm, they were tender, juicy, and yummy! I served them with some steamed broccoli and a simple salad of sliced tomatoes and onions on lettuce with an Italian vinaigrette and a some parm shavings.
    If you're interested in trying your hand at brining, there are many sites on the web with more information. Enjoy!

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Brining 101


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Watched TV: Saw Evan Almighty


    Watched TV: Saw Evan Almighty (Tom Shadyac, 2007). Vaguely amusing. Steve Carell underused, religious message boring. Not funnier than Bruce Almighty (Tom Shadyac, 2003). Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls Lauren Graham!) not doing much. The only remarkable things are the hairpieces, really.

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Watched TV: Saw Evan Almighty


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Went to see Richard Avedon exhibition


    Tuesday, August 26, 2008. Went to see Richard Avedon exhibition. Richard Avedon Photographs 1946 - 2004. Jeu de Paume, Paris. To die for. And not just the pictures of celebrities! Indispensable.

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Went to see Richard Avedon exhibition


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Watched DVD: Addicted to Love


    Sunday, August 25, 2008. Watched DVD: Addicted to Love (Griffin Dunne, 1997, thanks Cricri & Laeti). Just realized (thanks to a picture by Leibovitz) that Griffin Dunne is Vanity Fair's Dominick Dunne's son, and Joan Didion's nephew -- nice family. Romantic comedy with a French twist and a darker side; some black humor and some revolting scenes make it more interesting than the usual Meg Ryan vehicles of yesteryear. Matthew Broderick, then 35, perfectly adorable.

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Watched DVD: Addicted to Love


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Went to see Meet Dave



    Sunday, August 25, 2008. Went to see Meet Dave (Brian Robbins, 2008). Silly French title Appelez-moi Dave. With Eddie Murphy on top form. Really quite funny, in a Men in Black way. Gabrielle Union is smolderingly hot.

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Went to see Meet Dave


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Went to see Annie Leibovitz exhibition


    Sunday, August 25, 2008. Went to see tremendous exhibition: Anne Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005. Maison européenne de la photographie Paris. Some of the pictures were at the Vanity Fair exhibition in London (blogged about here). She's a genius. A must. The pictures of Susan Sontag!

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Went to see Annie Leibovitz exhibition


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Went to see L'Empreinte de l'ange


    Saturday, August 24, 2008. Went to see L'Empreinte de l'ange (Safy Nebbou, 2008). A very French film indeed. Agonizingly slow. No rhythm whatever. Editing atrocious. Interesting bits too short, boring bits too long. It's a pity, because Catherine Frot is excellent, as always, and Sandrine Bonnaire delivers. The central idea of the plot is a good one.

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Went to see L'Empreinte de l'ange


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Watched DVD: Music and Lyrics


    Saturday, August 24, 2008. Watched DVD: Music and Lyrics (Marc Lawrence, 2007). Thanks Laeti & Cricri. Hugh Grant not just his usual self: in this one he sings and dances (sort of). Romantic comedy. Reassuringly predictable. Drew Barrymore her usual romantic comedy self (and that's quite enough to please). The plus: the spoofs of 1980s music (A Flock of Seagulls, Wham, Duran Duran, ABC, Kajagoogoo, you name it) and of today's belly-button-showing blondes (Britney etc.). The atrocious hairstyles are a hoot.

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Watched DVD: Music and Lyrics


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Monday, August 25, 2008

What the heck is THAT??


    It's kohlrabi!

    I'd never seen it until we moved to Montana. We were at the Farmers Market one morning and I asked what it was. The man told me it was the "heart of a cabbage". After a little research, here's what I found.

    The kholrabi is a member of the cabbage (crucifer or mustard) family. The part we eat is the enlarged stem from which the leaves develop. It is best harvested as soon as it grows to a diameter of two to three inches. Kohlrabi may be white, green, or purple in color. Leaves of young plants may be used like spinach or mustard greens.

    Kohlrabi is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. It is low in both sodium and calories. One cup diced and cooked kholrabi contains only 40 calories and 140% of the RDA for vitamin C.

    The kohlrabi you see here are from our garden. It is good to eat raw and tastes like a very mild broccoli/jicama flavor.

    I found a recipe from Gourmet Magazine for

    Kohlrabi & Apple Slaw with Creamy Slaw Dressing.
    1/2 c heavy cream
    1 T fresh lemon juice
    1/2 T coarse-grained mustard
    3 T finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
    1/2 tsp sugar
    2 bunches kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
    1 Granny Smith apple

    In a bowl, whisk the cream until it holds soft peaks. Whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, parsley, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the kohlrabi strips and the apples, peeled, cored, and diced, and combine the salad well.
    This is a picture of the finished salad. It was good, but a little difficult to eat because of the julienned strips of kohlrabi. Next time I make this recipe I'll chop the kohlrabi as I did the apples.

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What the heck is THAT??


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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Going shopping...

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Going shopping...


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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Watched DVD: Four Weddings and a Funeral


    Watched DVD: Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell, 1994). Doesn't satisfy quite as much as it did fourteen years ago, but still, quite entertaining. Love the Auden poem. Hugh Grant was only 34.

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Watched DVD: Four Weddings and a Funeral


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Friday, August 22, 2008

Soup's On!

    Brrr! I figured dinner tonight would have to be soup, seeing that for most of the day it only got up to 57 degrees! As the day went on, it 'warmed up' to 68 degrees and was breezy and beautiful. Still, with doors open to catch the breeze, I made this soup and we enjoyed it with focaccia bread. Yummy!

    You’ve been to Olive Garden, no? Had their Zuppa Toscana? Yum, eh? The closest Olive Garden here is two hours away. Guess I'll have to make my own! Here's the recipe and it's enough for four people:

    1# Italian Sausage
    2 large russet potatoes, sliced in half, then in ¼” slices
    1 large onion, chopped
    3 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups kale or swiss chard, chopped
    2 cans chicken broth
    1 quart water
    1 cup heavy whipping cream

    Cook sausage in frying pan, drain and cut into slices. Place onions, potatoes, chicken broth, water, and garlic in a pot and cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Add sausage and bacon. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes then turn to low heat. Add kale and cream; heat through and serve.

    My dear daughter gave me these soup bowls... aren't they so cute?!




    The focaccia bread recipe is enough for 8-10 generous servings:

    Foccacia

    9 Tbsp. Olive oil (divided use)

    3-3/4 c unsifted all-purpose flour

    1/2 tsp. salt (divided use)

    1 1/2 T quick-rising dry yeast

    1 1/2 c hot (between 120 and 130 degrees) milk

    1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves

    Pour 3 T olive oil onto a rimmed cookie sheet; spread evenly to cover bottom and sides.

    Place flour and 2 T olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and all of the yeast in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook.

    Blend ingredients on medium speed. Reduce speed to low and slowly add hot milk. Raise the speed to medium and continue mixing for 5 minutes.
    Remove dough from bowl and spread out evenly in pan. Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove towel. Brush dough with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle top with additional salt and rosemary. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with remaining oil.

    Here's what it looks like after 30 minutes of resting and rising...

    And here's what it looks like after 20 minutes in the oven... ohhh, the absolutely wonderful smell of baking bread...



    A lot of people are afraid to make bread. Don't be! It's the easiest thing to do and makes such a difference in your menu! I always stick a thermometer in my liquid to make sure it doesn't get so hot that it kills the yeast, but other than that, it's a snap!

    As Winter descends on Montana, I'm sure I'll be making more bread and soup, so stay tuned... and in the meantime... try the recipes!

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Soup's On!


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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pasta with Veggies

    Here are my basic 'leftover' ingredients for last night's dinner: green onion, two roma tomatoes, cooked zuchinni and crookneck squash, and grilled corn on the cob. B doesn't like meatless meals, so I'm going to use some of the leftover pork loin to add to his plate :)
    I grabbed my spices froom the cupboard... granulated garlic, dried parsley, red pepper flakes, black pepper, dried rosemary, and a bay leaf. I added a 'special ingredient'... one filet of anchovy! (Oh please... have you ever even tasted anchovies?) The anchovy will 'melt' in the oil and will add a dimension of flavor to the sauce that will be delicious, but undetectable! Trust me on this!




    Ok... time to get the pasta cooking. I add a little oil to the water... the pasta won't stick and the pot won't boil over! I love different pasta and shapes, but for this dish I'm using regular spaghetti.


    I put the red pepper flakes, chopped onion, bay leaf, and anchovy filet in a pan with some olive oil. These ingredients simmered away while I rough-chopped the veggies and cut the corn from the cob.
    Add a can of tomato sauce to the veggies and let them simmer. The sauce should be thick enough, but if not, add a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and that will thicken the sauce!

    Put the pasta on a plate, top it with the veggie sauce. Now grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top of that!
    Fix some garlic bread and a salad, pour a nice glass of wine and enjoy!






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Pasta with Veggies


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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

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Red potatoes from the Farmers Market!

    We went to the Farmers Market in Havre, Montana last Saturday. The Market runs each Saturday during the Summer from 8:00AM to Noon. When we went a few weeks ago I found the most fabulous, very small red potatoes. OMG, they were delicious! Here's how I prepared them one night:

    Put the potatoes in water and boil (gently!) until they are tender. Drain and remove the potatoes. In the same pan, pour a little olive oil (or a lot) and add red pepper flakes - as many as you can stand! Add a bay leaf - yes, a bay leaf and wait until you smell that bubbling away in the olive oil!

    Dice, or press, a few cloves of garlic, depending on how much you love or hate garlic. I used one huge clove for 8 rather small potatoes. Don't add this to the oil yet - garlic tends to become bitter if cooked too long.

    Once the pepper flakes and bay leaf become aromatic, add the cooked potatoes. Add some parsley (fresh or dried) and some chopped rosemary (fresh or dried). Add your garlic now and grate some fresh black pepper into the pan and give it a shake now and then so the potatoes get to roll all around in that yummy oil. Keep them on medium heat on the stove until you're ready to eat.

    Serve with butter or sour cream to your liking. Yummy!

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Red potatoes from the Farmers Market!


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Bloggers away!

    I've been seeing so many blogs on the Internet, I thought I should start one myself.

    I've read that the most interesting blogs are about something the blogger loves to do and can tell others how to do it, too!

    I love to cook! I hardly ever use a recipe - and if I do, I usually just read the recipe then wing it to make to my own tastes... adding here, leaving out an ingredient, and so on.

    So, on this blog, you'll get to see what I cook (usually for dinner) complete with pictures, quasi-recipes, and how-to's!

    There's a poll at the bottom of this page... let's hear what you like!

    I hope you'll visit often and will enjoy my blog!

    Karen

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Bloggers away!


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Went to see The Dark Knight





    Went to see The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008). 152 minutes.

    I'm a superhero too now. I drove to the movie house on the left bank today, and in the parking garage below I saw an eighteen-month-old baby in a pushchair right behind a huge black car, and I immediately realized the car was backing into the baby. So I sped up to it, screeched, yelled and honked. The car stopped half an inch from the baby, who started screaming its lungs out. And what do you know, the six people in the car got out: the baby was theirs. Not only had they totally forgotten its existence, but they had very nearly killed it. Total white trash, inbred and alcoholic and probably illiterate (I know, it's not their fault). They never thanked me! They never said a word, just muttered among themselves. The six of them looked at me with an identical annoyed / brainless / simian expression, put the pushchair in the trunk, the baby in the back, and droveoff, while I stood there gaping, my heart still beating faster than usual. Wow. When I told my godfather about it he said maybe they were trying to get rid of it and I ruined their plans.

    Anyway. Batman. Mm. The Batman. This is not Frank Miller's Dark Knight, it must be said. A bit long. Rather coherent, with Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005). Maggie Gyllenhaal instead of Katie Holmes playing Rachel (a plus). Same British director, helped by his British brother and the ubiquitous (when it comes to superheroes) David S. Goyer for the writing. With the British Christian Bale and Gary Oldman playing Americans, Australian Heath Ledger (RIP) playing an American; and the British Michael Caine playing a Brit (with an accent evoking that of his youth, pointedly not doing the upper-class accent of traditional Hollywood British butlers in the US). The story is OK. It's difficult, when you've read literally hundreds of Batman comics and have seen dozens of incarnations of the Joker or Two-Face, not to have more or less precise expectations. The filming is good, the acting is good (Ledger tremendous, he will be so missed), the action is gripping. But I miss Tim Burton.
    Christian Bale looks a bit more like my idea of Bruce Wayne, he's visually closer to my idea of Bruce Wayne (as formed in the 1960s) than Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer or George Clooney. I suggest Colin Egglesfield, he'd be perfect.

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Went to see The Dark Knight


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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Watched TV: Saw Baby Blood


    Watched TV: Saw Baby Blood (Alain Robak, 1990). Utter waste of time. French gore. Not even tongue-in-cheek. Just as well I was reading a good Rosa Montero novel at the same time.

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Watched TV: Saw Baby Blood


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Watched DVDs: Gilmore Girls Season 4




    Finished watching Season 4 of Gilmore Girls. Finally a bit of sex. As garrulous as ever. Some people hate it for that, I like it because they never stop talking, with a million witticisms per episode and two million well-researched allusions to pop culture. The writers must have had a really good time.

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Watched DVDs: Gilmore Girls Season 4


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Went to see The Bank Job



    Went to see The Bank Job (Roger Donaldson, 2008). Pathetic French title: Braquage à l'anglaise. One of the best heist movies I've ever seen. Really well-done, well-paced, well-acted etc. Funny to think it's a true story, I'm sure the royal family loves it. With Jason Statham, who was in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie, 1998) and Snatch (Guy Ritchie, 2000). He was also in Revolver (Guy Ritchie, 2005) but we won't hold it against him. Early 1970s London perfectly conjured up (I remember it well). Saffron Burrows: interesting actress, probably with an interesting future.

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Went to see The Bank Job


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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Went to see Les Dents de la nuit



    Went to see Les Dents de la nuit (Vincent Lobelle, 2008). Comedy from Frogland with Patrick Mille and Frédérique Bel. You thought "French vampire movie" was oxymoronic? You were right. Enough said.

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Went to see Les Dents de la nuit


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Watched TV: Saw Tom's Midnight Garden


    Watched TV: Saw Tom's Midnight Garden (Willard Carroll, 1999). Book by Philippa Pearce. Yawn. Cannot understand for the life of me why this thing's so successful, with a zillion adaptations and tie-in products and what not. I'm a sucker for good children's fiction, but this is simply boring. Not even the fine James Wilby + the charming Greta Scacchi + the inimitable Joan Plowright could make me enjoy it. I'd rather go CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Eoin Colfer, Philip Pullman or JK Rowling any day.

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Watched TV: Saw Tom's Midnight Garden


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Went to see Wall-E


    Went to see Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008). A computer-animated science fiction movie produced by Pixar Animation Studios (I'm a fan of those). Great. Really really well-done. Hugely entertaining. Endearing. Love the Hello Dolly references.

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Went to see Wall-E


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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Watched DVD: Sweet Home Alabama




    Watched DVD: Sweet Home Alabama (Andy Tennant, 2002). Appalling French title Fashion victime [sic]. Absolutely delightful romantic comedy, thoroughly predictable, full of gorgeous people (Reese Witherspoon + Patrick Dempsey + Josh Lucas). R. and I saw it in Manchester back when it came out (one rainy Saturday afternoon) and had to shut up a group of unruly teenagers who used their mobiles phones and commented upon the "action" or lack thereof. This movie has many ambiguous things to say about class in the US, about the American Dream, success, reinventing oneself, etc. A totally feelgood movie, recommended for anyone feeling blue, after dark. Love the dog cemetery scene (a real place it would seem). Reese Witherspoon as likable as ever.

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Watched DVD: Sweet Home Alabama


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Watched DVDs: The O.C. Season 2


    Watched DVDs: Finished watching Season 2 of The O.C. (silly French title Newport Beach), complete with Marissa's short sapphic phase (including full-on lesbian kisses). My favorite character is Seth these days. Love the numerous comic book references (usually well-handled). Talk about a cliffhanger at the end.

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Watched DVDs: The O.C. Season 2


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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Watched DVD: Pathfinder


    Watched Médo's DVD: Pathfinder (Marcus Nispel, 2007). The sleeve looks great, I was a bit disappointed. Shades of 300 and Apocalypto, but the Oh-My-God-Look-I'm-Making-An-Esthetic-Statement colors and the violence are not so well handled / mastered. The one good thing about this movie is New Zealander Karl Urban (who was in Lord of the Rings and all sorts of interestinf things).

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Watched DVD: Pathfinder


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Watched TV: Saw Dog Soldiers


    The other day. Watched TV: Saw Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall, 2002). British. Scottish werewolves. Extremely violent. With tremendous Scottish actor Kevin McKidd (born 1973, like many good people) who was in Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996), and in Bedrooms and Hallways (Roche Troche, 1998) with tremendous English actor James Purefoy and tremendous Australian actor Hugo Weaving, among other feats.

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Watched TV: Saw Dog Soldiers


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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Watching DVDs: The OC Season 2


    Has anyone noticed how uncannily reminiscent of Claudia Cardinale Rachel Bilson is? (she was in Jumper, by the way)

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Watching DVDs: The OC Season 2


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