Wednesday, May 27, 2009
We got back to the city earlier than we thought we were going to (again with the no traffic) and there was a barbecue at one of these friends' places still going on and honestly, it wasnt even a question if we were going to go. And it was filled with people who were mostly there because they had one common thread. The same thread we left the city to get away from. And both of us felt perfectly at home there. We left the city to get away and as soon as we got back we couldnt stay away any longer. We needed to be with them (and the city). Not because we needed shoulders to cry on, or because we needed to remember him, or talk about him, or for any of those things. But because for whatever reason, these are the people who feel most like family right now. And Memorial Day barbecues are for celebrating with family right?
One of these friends finally got around to writing a beautiful memorial to him. And it sort of solidified that feeling. Because there are friends and there are family. But there is no reason that they cant overlap both ways.
And so now we are back in the city and as the feeling of freedom fades and we get back into the work mentality, maybe it isnt really all that bad. Because we have a whole huge family here. And the ups and downs of that can be as exciting and as painful as those of the roller coasters right?
Pics from our trip can be found here.
In other news, we watched The Happening (2008) last night. This is M. Night Shyamalan's most recent film about an "Event" that is fatally affecting people. It was filmed partly in Philly and so Matty wanted to see it. He accidentally almost walked through a shot of it actually. And I (as I have mentioned) love Zooey Deschanel, and Mark Wahlberg is in it and he has done some good stuff lately . . . None of that apparently matters. This movie was AWFUL! AWFUL! Shockingly and a bit disturbingly awful! I mean the plot was iffy to begin with. But the writing was so bad. So bad to the point that I dont think any actor could have made it work. It managed to make some decent actors look like complete amateur idiots. I have to give it to M. Night. He has a peculiar talent. I mean what other writer/director can you think of who has made successively WORSE movies as time goes on? Think about it Sixth Sense (1999) was great and who often do Sixth Sense allusions or quotes come up in every day life? Unbreakable (2000), I really liked Unbreakable, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson were solid, the plot was interesting, super hero movie without the super hero feel. Signs (2002) was also a solid movie and still freaks the hell out of a friend of mine. He was on a roll . . . Then The Village (2004) . . . was a little bit iffy. Started relying too much on the "thing you just miss seeing." But ok, everyone can have a bit of a flop now and then. And then Lady in the Water (2006) which Paul Giamatti couldn't even save, with a less than iffy plotline and just sort of wandered around for almost 2 hours. It felt very self-important with a message that didnt really hit you the way it should have. And now this? Disappointing to say the least. I really cant recommend this to you at all. I would love to hear any dissenting veiws though.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Failure to Launch (2006). Which actually was not exactly about what I thought it was about, sorta. In general (this part I knew) it is about a guy (played by Matthew McConaughey) who lives at home with his parents (played [suprisingly, to me] by Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw). He has "failed to launch" as it were. What I didnt know was that his parents hire a professional "launcher" (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) to pretend to date him and to get him to move out. Which makes for a more interesting story. There were definitely parts of this movie that were not awful. Which is a better compliment than it sounds like. His friends (played by Justin Bartha and Bradley Cooper) also live at home with their parents and are really fun characters. And Zooey Deschanel is in it and I love her for no rational reason I know of. It is definitely a "chick flick" in nature. But it has its moments that I think guys would appreciate and I would definitely recommend as an easy romantic comedy.
And I also watched:
Ever After (1998). Supposedly the real story behind the Grimm Brothers' Cinderella. It is the story of Danielle de Barbarac (played by Drew Barrymore) who has to live with her evil stepmother (played by Anjelica Huston) and stepsisters (played by Megan Dodds and Melanie Lynskey) and falls for the Prince (played by Dougray Scott) as he falls for her, under false pretenses. You know, Cinderella. It is interesting, throwing Leonardo da Vinci (played by Patrick Godfrey) into the mix and adding a bit of political commentary by Danielle. It seemed like the actors were either trying too hard, or not enough. Like they wanted to seem very Fariy Tale-ish and stereotypical. But the whole idea was that was the "real" story so they should be more "real" right? I dont know. I also feel like Dougray Scott wasn't princely or handsome enough. I would say if you are bored, it is better than not watching, but I wouldnt go out of my way to see it.
Sunday night we watched:
Doubt (2008). It is pretty much about doubt. Set in a Catholic school in the Bronx of 1964 run by the Sisters of Mercy, it is about what happens when there is some doubt about a new priest's (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) innocence and motives when he is accused of wrongdoing. I have had issues with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the past and may have even said that I don't like him, but I think it is just that he plays so many characters who are easy to dislike. In this he is outstanding. Meryl Streep plays the principal and is absolutely awesome. Amy Adams is shockingly good, simply in comparison to her previous roles. Viola Davis was also very good, though I do not entirely understand why she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. She was very good, but her role was so short. I would highly highly highly recommend this to anyone who hasn't seen it yet.
This week we also watched:
Helvetica (2007). It is a documentary about, you guessed it, Helvetica. The typeface. It was certianly an interesting thing to choose to do a documentary on, I will give them that. It was good. I won't say it was great. I feel like there were some parts that were much more focussed to people who have a much higher appreciation for typeface and typeface design than I apparently do. Some more background would have been nice I guess. But it is worth seeing I guess.
And finally, last night on Blu-Ray we watched:
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). Did you like the first Hellboy? Because if you didn't, you aren't going to like this one. Did the creatures in Pan's Labyrinth give you mightmares? I would avoid this. It really is a continuation of the story of Hellboy (played by Ron Perlman) and the Bureau of Paranormal Reseach and Defense. And Guillermo del Toro has apparently decided to more fully embrace the weirdness. Matty said it was one of the worst movies he ever saw. I disagree. He is just overly judgemental, he has seen plenty of absolutely crap. I think it was fine. Nothing spectacular, but not awful.
Ok, other things . . . we are leaving this evening for a real vacation! We are going down to Williamsburg, VA to do the whole Colonial Williamsburg thing, and Busch Gardens! Yay! I am excited. Mostly just to be getting away for a few days. We both really need a break from here and from people in general I think. But also for the roller coasters!
Last night we ate ethe first of our broccoli. It was awesome!
And . . . that is all for now. Hope you all have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Friday night was Joey's Memorial Party at the Westbury. The point of the event was twofold. Firstly, to have something in his honor more appropriate than the actual funeral. The second was to offer something for those people who were unable, for whatever reason, to go to the actual funeral. So we threw an 8 hour party where some people drank too much, some people cried it out, a DJ (DJ Mike Mesa) played and we collected about $450 (and a condom, a bottle of lube and a pack of matches) for Phildelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). It was fairly well attended, though there were some people who were not able to make it.
Saturday night we went to the Best Wedding Ever. Ever. Sorry for all you other married couples whose weddings we have attended. Nothing can compete really. It was at the Constitution Center. The mayor officiated. There was an ice sculpture of their dachshund. The band who played Tina Fey's wedding, The Sid Miller Dance Band, played. Yeah. Not to mention the Manhattans (official drink of the wedding), the food (mini cheesesteaks! mini cannolis!), Signer's Hall, the parting gift (soft pretzels! with mustard!). All of it was awesome. But really, the band was the thing that put it over the top. They started with Dean Martin, ended with Journey, hit everything in the middle and everything was spot on perfect. Oh, by the way, Rob and Jennie were the bride and groom. Rob is Poo of ciggitycite (check out the right hand bar).
Speaking of the right hand bar, there is a new blog there, ...But Enough About Me that I would recommend. Written by a new friend of ours.
Sunday we went for cheesesteaks. Tried a new place (for us): Ishkabibbles. Definitely impressed and it has made my list. We had a cheesesteak (provolone and fried onions) and a South Philly cheesesteak (provolone, spinach, roasted peppers). Both were excellent. Highly recommended. You can grab your steaks and then wander over to the river to eat. We went to the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The one at Front and Spruce. Then we headed to UC for Star Trek. I really really really really liked it. I really did. Best movie ever? No. But it was really good. And mostly I just love what they did with it. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be and that makes me happy. But unfortunately if I say any more about it I will give things away. So I will stop. But you really really need to check it out if you like Star Trek. Or science fiction. Or general fun action-y movies.
Ok, so maybe I dont need to write a post for last weekend.
So yeah, the garden is certainly getting there. I am concerned about the stuff from seed. But I think the little greenhouse thing (birthday present from Dan, Rob and Karla) will help. And there are already a few sprouts.
The War of the Worlds. 1953. Well, what can I say. It was 1953. For 1953 this was a ground-breaking movie. The effects were state of the art. The sci-fi genre was new (or non-existant) and here comes a movie based on an H.G. Wells novel from 1898 (the Orson Welles radio show was 1938). Is it well done for our standards? Of course not. Did it fit with the novel? No idea, never read it. Did it fit with the radio drama which many probably remembered at the time? Yeah. Is it worth a watch? Sure. Could it be analyzed to death? Abso-fucking-lutely. So yeah. Not really sure what to say. The leading lady, played by Ann Robinson, is capable of serving donuts, frying eggs, writing theses on important scientists (all men) and looking horrified which is a bit disappointing. It is pretty much what you expect from a 1953 sci-fi flick.
Ceiling. Does anyone remember when we had those ceiling problems that lasted forever? Started with a drip from the shower onto the ceiling right above the couch in the living room. Became a hole. Became a giant hole and an open ceiling but was eventually fixed? Well. It is back. This time no drip. Just a suddenly-appearing wet spot. Quickly turning into a mildew-y/fuzzy spot. Yay! The plumber is coming Monday.
Monday night we had Chicken Souvlaki. Very good, highly recommended. Tuesday night we grilled (and had a run-in with out neighbor which is a whole 'nother story). Wednesday night we had my first lasagna for the Lost season finale. I am pretty happy with the way the lasagna turned out. Tuesday night I made meatballs and sauce (with hot and sweet Italian sausage) and put the whole thing together. We used Trader Joe's No Boil lasagna noodles which worked perfectly. For cheese we used fat-free ricotta, mozzarella, grated asiago and Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggio (parmesan, provolone, fontina and asiago). We also added thawed, drained frozen spinach. I think (and Matty agrees) we needed more cheese (and full fat ricotta) and less sauce (Matty kept making me add more). But for a first try it was pretty awesome. And then last night we had Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese which was AWESOME!
Thinner. The novel, not the movie. Written in 1984 by Stephen King as Richard Bachman. It was ok. I was not expecting anything great. For two reasons. Firstly, Matty told me he didnt like it. Secondly, I am not s huge Bachman fan. Which sounds ridiculous. But really. I feel like King would finish a book and if it was good, he would put his name on it. If it was ok he would put Bachman on it. Because the Bachman books I have read have been definitely King-esque stories. But they do not have the thing that I LOVE about Stephen King in them. The rich language. The descriptions so succint but so perfect that you can picture what he is talking about. The character development that is perfect, giving you exactly what you need, when you need it without bulky awkward exposition. This has none of that. It is a good story, but it just wasnt all there for me. Eh.
Oh and my phone is back! Or I got a new one! Well, a refurb, but it is new to me! So now I can actually hear people on my phone! Yay!
In Greece, souvlaki typically refers to skewers of grilled lamb. In America, chicken is more common, and it's often served in pita bread. Precooked chicken makes these sandwiches a snap to prepare. Serve with tabbouleh. (We served with Trader Joe's Bella salad. That is what it is supposed to look like over there. I forgot to take a pic of ours, sorry.)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (we used parsley since I dont really like dill)
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons bottled minced garlic, divided (we used a clove of fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups sliced roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast (we used uncooked)
4 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce (we used romaine)
1/2 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (we used regular onion)
Combine feta cheese, yogurt, dill, 1 teaspoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic in a small bowl, stirring well.
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and oregano to pan, and sauté for 20 seconds. Add chicken, and cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. (We just cooked the chicken in the olive oil with the garlic and oregano) Place 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each pita half, and top with 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture, 2 tablespoons shredded lettuce, 1 tablespoon cucumber, and 1 tablespoon tomato. Divide onion evenly among pitas.Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 stuffed pita halves) (Made enough for us for dinner plus 1 lunch) CALORIES 414 (30% from fat); FAT 13.7g (sat 6.4g,mono 4.7g,poly 1.4g); IRON 2.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 81mg; CALCIUM 187mg; CARBOHYDRATE 38g; SODIUM 595mg; PROTEIN 32.3g; FIBER 2g Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2007
Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese
Leftover salad is also good the next day for lunch (Yes it is!); stir in a handful of arugula to add a fresh touch, if you have extra on hand. Serve with pita wedges. (We just ate it on its own. Their picture is on the left, ours is on the right.)
1 1/4 cups uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta) (we used ~1 1/2 cups to finish a box)
3 cups chopped grilled chicken breast strips (such as Tyson) (We just grilled 2 breasts ourselves)
1 1/2 cups trimmed arugula (we used a whole head, be sure to rinse REALLY well since it can be pretty gritty otherwise)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (we used one bell pepper)
1/4 cup prechopped red onion (we chopped half of a regular onion)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (we used about twice this)
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil (we used about twice this)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.
2. Combine pasta, chicken, and the next 6 ingredients (through oregano) in a large bowl; toss well.
3. Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. (We just mixed it right into the salad instead of dirtying another bowl) Sprinkle with cheese.Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups salad and 1 tablespoon cheese) (We each had dinner and then lunch today and there is probably another lunch and a half. And I was really hungry last night. So this makes a bunch and it is awesome leftover) CALORIES 295 (23% from fat); FAT 7.7g (sat 2.9g,mono 2.8g,poly 1.1g); IRON 2.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 55mg; CALCIUM 40mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.1g; SODIUM 788mg; PROTEIN 24.4g; FIBER 2g Cooking Light, APRIL 2008
Monday, May 4, 2009
This weather sucks! I feel like I am back in Pittsburgh. This weekend was a nice relaxing weekend. Well, compared to the last few anyway.
Saturday we ventured out in search of shoes for me for a wedding we are going to next weekend. A whole lot of walking for me considering I have spent most of the last few weeks avoiding walking. But I did pretty well. I am able to take a few "normal" steps now. But it hurts and my ankle gets really tired really fast. We did eventually find shoes and then stopped at DiBruno's for some snacks on the way home. $30 later we had lots of cheeses, olives, bread, pepperoni. Yum! We got home in time for the Derby. I had picked Dunkirk to win (because he was the only true grey), General Quarters to place (because he was the heartstring favorite and because he is a beautiful black with dark grey hindquarters) and Mr. Hot Stuff to show (because he had the best name). Of course they came in 11th, 10th and 15th respectively. I am so happy that Mine that Bird won. A 50-1 shot with a local yokel type jockey (he is great!) who was driven from New Mexico? Awesome! After the race and some time with my foot up we headed to Karla's. We hung out there, got dinner from Greek Lady and played House of the Dead: Overkill. Which is pretty fantastic. It is a zombie . . . I am sorry mutant, shooting game. With a gun. You dont have to move, you dont have to do anything. You just point and shoot at the zombies . . . sorry mutants. And there is swearing (strange for a Wii game). We played through the whole game.
Sunday we were supposed to go for steaks. But we couldnt decide on where to go. So we decided we wanted Mexican. And then couldnt decide where to go. So we ended up at National Mechanics. We had only been a few times to drink and had heard good things about the food. The weather was AWFUL! And of course we just missed a 17 and no 40s came so we had to wait in the rain for awhile. And then we forgot about Equality Forum closing down Market in Old City, so we had to walk. But whatever. We finally got there and sat at the bar. I tried the make-you-own-bloody mary bar. Not as good as Astral Plane, but pretty good for $8 (for Absolut). Matty had an Obama-bomb (Boddington's with a shot of Van Gogh Triple Espresso and Tuaca) which was pretty tasty. The trouble came when it came to our food. Because we ordered . . . and then waited for an hour! Which is ridiculous. It wasnt packed, it wasnt crazy, it wasnt early, or late. They were nice enough to take off a round of drinks from our bill. And we didnt really ahve anywhere to be. But still. An hour! But once the food actually arrived it was delicious. Matty had the National Burger (burger, fried egg, provolone [he added], served with fries) which was cooked perfectly and was very tasty though the egg was a little overcooked. I had the National Skillet (ham, potatos and tomatoes with oaxaca and fried eggs) which was also delicious. We stopped at the Terminal to pick up ingredients for dinner and then headed home to avoid the rain.
We watched True Romance (1993). Neither of us had seen it before which is a bit surprising. Since EVERYONE is apparently in it. It is a bit of a Bonnie and Clyde-esque romantic comedy of sorts, Quentin Tarantino style. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette play the leads. Mmmm . . . 1993 Christian Slater! Then you have Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, a very young Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinchot (Balki!), Samuel L. Jackson (for a hot second), Michael Rapaport and a very skinny James Gandolfini. And those are just the big names. Because there are so many others that you recognize in there. IT was pretty great. In a Quentin Tarantino-written, early 90's romantic comedy, crime drama sort of way. You should see it. You really should.
For dinner we had Pork Carnitas with Carmelized Onions and Chipotle. I totally forgot how much I love these! They are time consuming which means I don't make them often. But yum! Yum yum yum! I am trying to decide what to do with the cooking liquid because it is just so delicious! Just thinking about it make my mouth water! For dessert Matty made toaster oven s'mores! Yum! A tasty night indeed.
Pork Carnitas with Caramelized Onions and Chipotle (the onions are totally not carmelized)
Serve with jicama, roasted red peppers, and avocado wrapped in soft corn tortillas. Or spoon over a bed of rice. (We served ours in soft corn tortillas with cotija cheese)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (I used about a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed and cut into (1-inch) cubes (We ended up with a 2 lb bit of loin I think because they had it in the size we needed)
2 bay leaves (I used 3)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I used 1 tsp)
1 chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake to coat pork. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (The other two times I made this I did this, this time I didnt since I wanted it that night. And honestly I dont think I noticed a significant difference)
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. (I use my French oven for this, it would have to be a very large skillet) Remove pork from bag. Add pork to pan; cook 10 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. (I just cooked the pork with the oregano, black pepper and bay leaves)
Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in salt, cumin, and chile. (I added cherry tomatoes here this time for a little different flavor and highly recommend). Return pork to pan, and add broth. Bring to a simmer; cover. Cook 2 hours or until pork is very tender. (We probably ended up letting this simmer for about 3 and a half hours). Remove from heat; discard bay leaves. Stir in cilantro and juice.Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup) (Ha! I guess if you served it with rice, or something else, for us it made enough for 3, maybe 3 and a half) CALORIES 191 (35% from fat); FAT 7.4g (sat 2.2g,mono 3.7g,poly 0.8g); IRON 1.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 58mg; CALCIUM 45mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.3g; SODIUM 631mg; PROTEIN 21.7g; FIBER 1.2g Cooking Light, JANUARY 2007
Friday, May 1, 2009
Last night we went to see LA Theater Works' presentation of War of the Worlds and Lost World as part of Penn's Children's Festival. It was really really really well done. But it should not be part of the Children's Festival. Which I had suspected, you know, since it is a presentation of a radio show that actually convinced many (if not most) people who originally heard it that the planet was being invaded by Martians. War of the Worlds was done essentially like a staged reading. It was a staged version of the radio broadcast (as a real news broadcast), not the actual invasion, done in a bit of retrospect. Which was really interesting. The Lost World was less enthralling. It was more campy, like the original book may have been, I dont really know. It was more of a staging of the actual expedition and the newspaper that followed it. It was a bit on the racy side, though maybe kids wouldnt get that. And there are some definite 1912 era stereotypes that are . . . interesting to see played out. Overall I much prefered War of the Worlds. But I would say that if you can see either of them, go for it. The double feature is playing again tonight at 7:30 and The Lost World has shows tomorrow and Sunday afternoons. It is also playing in LA the 13th-17th if you are on the left coast. And I am not sure where else it is going to be. But keep your eyes out for it.
We also went to dinner last night for Dining Out For Life. We went to Lemon Grass here in University City. Good basic Thai food. Nothing spectacular, but perfectly serviceable. Good service, very fast. I would highly recommend for lunch. $8.95 for appetizer, soup and entree with a wide variety of vegetarian and meaty dishes.