31 December 2011

Baloney & Cereal Twenty-Eleven Sillies: Music

I tend to become obsessed with songs about 3 years after they're popular.  To whit, my current playlist includes:

"Forever" - Drake
"Black Sheep" - Metric
"We're In This Together" - Nine Inch Nails

Actual current music that I enjoyed this year?

Adele, 21, particularly "Turning Tables" and "Set Fire to the Rain."

Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More, which totally counts as a 2011 album because that's the year it won awards, and it's still getting nominated even though it came out in 2009.  I love singing along to their songs, all the more so because Mike can't stand them.

Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials.  Go ahead and don't sing along to "Shake It Out."

Foo Fighters, Wasting Light, still making awesome rock music.

The best (and only) concerts I attended this year: Linkin Park and Rush!  Yeah, I'm hella current.

Baloney & Cereal Twenty-Eleven Sillies: TV

As always, I'm waiting til the last minute to try to catch a couple more movies before I can give my Top Whatever list.  But TV is my live-in boyfriend, and I can safely give my list now.  Though I'm still worried I've forgotten something....

1. Breaking Bad.  There's TV, and then there's Breaking Bad.  Honestly, it's in a class by itself in terms of writing, acting, and visuals.  2011 was awesome solely because it's the year I finally caught up on this show.  There's a reason it's on everyone's Best Of All-Time TV Ever Ever Ever lists.  If you haven't watched it yet, there's plenty of time to catch up.  Do it.  I've already seen the first 3 seasons 3 times and the most recent one twice.  Is that wrong?  No.  And if you catch up now, you get to watch them all in a row without having to wait a week to a year between episodes; it's the best way to do it.  Do it.

2. Justified.  So excited this is coming back in a matter of days!!  It is some badass, cool TV, and Timothy Olyphant is wonderful.  Looking forward to hearing the awesome dialogue again!

3. Parks & Recreation.  You know what this list has going for it so far?  The best casts - and characters - on television.  Every single character on Parks & Rec is awesome and I want to hug them all every week.  This is the only show guaranteed to leave me smiling every week.  Yes, it is literally funnier than Community.

4. Homeland.  Holy crap, this was some awesome TV.  Think 24 in terms of the terrorism angle, but it's different.  Week to week you're not sure who the good guys and bad guys are.  Claire Danes is so amazing on this show and if she doesn't win an Emmy, the world sucks.  She gets crazier as the season goes on and it's wonderful to watch.  Mandy Patinkin is also awesome -- and those are words I never thought I'd say.

5. Community.  Whereas I find Parks & Rec to be laugh-out-loud funnier, this show is crazy-funny.  I can't believe the stuff they get away with.  An episode devoted to several different possible timelines?  Craziness!  It's the kind of bold comedy that is not destined to last long, but at least we'll have a few seasons to rewatch once it's gone.

6.  Game of Thrones.  A series I was not expecting to like as much as I did.  It's not normally the kind of thing I'd go for, but it's another collection of awesome characters and stories.  I really loved this show, and was surprised by it.

7. Tosh.0.  OK, this is actually the most laugh-out-loud-funny show on TV.

8. Fringe.  I miss my show; it's still both bold and good fun.  Multiple universes, timelines, versions of characters - gotta love it.  This season added Lincoln Lee to the cast of characters and I couldn't be happier.  Unless they brought back Charlie.

9. Sons of Anarchy.  I finally caught up on this show this year, and loved it.  This year's season wasn't the best, but it's still better than most of the crap on TV.  It's ambitious and ballsy and badass.  I really loved the second season and hope the white supremacists make their way back to the show.  Here again we have a lot of great characters; I especially love Opie and Tig.

10. Sherlock.  This was a quick little 3-part British mini-series, but it's coming back in 2012 too.  It's a modern-day retelling of the Sherlock Holmes characters and it's excellent.  And who doesn't love Martin Freeman in anything?  I'll tell you who - Communists.

These Shows Really Suck But I Used To Love Them And So Help Me God The Shows Listed Above Better Not End Up Like Them: Chuck and The Office.  They are mostly painful to watch now, and I don't know why I'm sticking with them, other than I never surrender!

29 December 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

It's hard for me to give a full review for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows -- because I kept falling asleep during it.  I guess that should be my review: I give it 3-4 cat naps.

It can't be all the movie's fault - I was sleepy (per usual) and had just eaten lunch.  Get my old ass in a darkened movie theater in those conditions and it's all over.

So, given that I was falling asleep, especially in the beginning, I am no judge of plot.  It seems to me there wasn't one, but I likely dozed off during any explanations/rationales.  What I did enjoy were the visuals and the Robert Downey, Jr., which is exactly what I enjoyed about the first movie anyway.  I was disappointed that Professor Moriarty was highly under-utilized.  I mean, I qualify that remark with the fact that I kept falling asleep, but I highly doubt I slept during all his good parts.  I love me some Jared Harris and I love me the idea that Moriarty is Sherlock's toughest opponent, but I just didn't feel that here.  At all.

The movie's not a total waste -- I felt a little more refreshed when it was all over.  Til it was time for a proper nap anyway.

Top Chef: Texas: Times Two

Time to catch-up on the holiday DVR backup.... And nothing like reheating pizza in the oven whilst watching chefs hustle to cook their asses off.

Quickfire Challenge: Make a dish that pairs with a chosen tequila. I'm not a tequila person, but I had an amazing blueberry/basil margarita in Disney Mexico on Christmas that I'm still dreaming about.  Ty-Lör and his dumb name wins.

Elimination Challenge: They get paired up randomly and Beverly and Heather are a team.  And they hate each other.  Awesome.  Each team has to cook a chosen game dish, all of their fellow cheftestants will also be judges, and both losing team members will be sent home.  Come on, drama!  Tragically, it's all pretty effing dull.  Until Judges' Table, when Heather says Beverly sucks and throws her under the bus for the last challenge, which makes no sense because 1) they're on the same team and will both be sent home and 2) she's talking about last week.  STFU, dummy.

Winners: Ed and Ty-Lör.

Bye-bye:  Dakota and Nyesha for their (really, Dakota's) undercooked venison.  Boooooooo.  I loved both of them!  On the plus side, Beverly and Heather have to go home together.

On to the next one, when the show moves to Austin....

Quickfire Challenge: Make a dish based on live Tweets that are shouted-out by Padma and Tom. They start out making something with bacon, then they have to make a hash to accompany their dish, then incorporate an ingredient that is handed to you by a fellow cheftestant.  Paul wins.  Twitter still stinks.

Elimination Challenge: Make a dish to honor your culinary inspiration, with guest judges Patti LaBelle and Emeril.  Time for a lot of crying over grandparents, and some amazing-looking Korean braised short ribs from Beverly.  Hungry.

Winner: Sarah for her sausage-stuffed cabbage rolls.

Bye-bye: Heather for over-cooked meat.  Ha, bitch - Beverly beat you!  It's a sad day when I'm actually siding with Beverly....

28 December 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I went into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo knowing generally what it was about, but not having read the books (duh - requires effort).  I also decided not to watch the Swedish movies in advance, because I'm an American, goddammit. I'll get to watching the original version of this first one eventually, for comparison's sake.

This is a great movie.  And for something billed as "The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas" I didn't find it all that dark and depressing.  But I'm a sick puppy.  If anything - and this is probably a hella un-PC thing to say - I thought Lisbeth Salander was a kickass action hero!!  After watching the movie, I just wanted to yell at guys and kick their asses. Is that wrong?  Even the way it was shot, I thought she was sometimes framed as a superhero.  Like one shot in particular where an elevator door closes and she has her hoodie up.  I don't know, that's just the vibe I got.  She should join the Avengers.

Anyway, you've got a 100% David Fincher movie - dark, very cool and stylized - with a perfect Trent Reznor score.  Loved it.  Really loved it.

But one nagging question -- Why is my man Joel Kinnaman (Holder from The Killing) in it for 4.5 seconds and with one glorified-extra line?  I guess every Swedish actor was obligated to appear in this movie.  That was hella disappointing.  Can I assume he has more to do in the sequels?  Let's hope!

17 December 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Full disclosure (a/k/a: obvious statement of the year): I hate Tom Cruise as much as I love Jeremy Renner.  I generally avoid Cruise movies, except the action/blockbuster ones.  I'll admit he makes a decent action movie, I just don't want to see him trying to act or in a romantic comedy.  Shut up and run from explosions, dick.  In the case of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, I likely would have seen it, Renner notwithstanding.  I mean, I've seen the rest of the M:I movies, I love Paula Patton because she's gorgeous AND looks like she can kick some ass, and Simon Pegg is always a joy to behold.  But so is Jeremy Renner, in all his IMAX glory.  And so this movie had to be seen - and just in time for an early birthday present!

First of all, if you're wondering, this movie is totally worth seeing in IMAX.  And I don't mean the "IMAX" you get at some mall movie theater - I mean the real thing, mostly found in science museums.  (I'm lucky enough to have one in Fort Lauderdale.)  There are enough scenes in this movie that are shot in IMAX to make it worth the price of admission.  It's worth it for the Dubai/Burj Khalifa scenes alone.  I hate heights almost as much as I hate Tom Cruise, but watching him dangle from the world's tallest building was so-nausea-inducing-it's-awesome. 

I'm not going to pretend the plot - or the dialogue - here is groundbreaking.  I'd venture to say it made its way into soap-opera territory on an occasion or two.  But if you like chases and spying and high-tech, never-in-a-million-years-is-that-possible gadgets, you'll love it.

Director Brad Bird is sure to go on and make 100 epically kickass action films.  Up til now, he's made animation, like The Incredibles and Ratatouille. He takes that animation spirit - including the crazy, over-the-top action - and does the same, only this time with real people.  And somehow it works.  I mean, it's crazy, most of the stuff that's done in this movie, but A) no crazier than loads of other action films, including the others in this franchise and B) it's fun to watch.  So who the hell cares. Ethan Hunt and his team are Superman and James Bond rolled into one.  Just go with it.

Seeing it in IMAX also meant seeing the sneak preview of The Dark Knight Rises beforehand.  I had been warned in advance that Bane was hard to understand, and I'm glad I was.  Because knowing that made me pay extra attention.  Not to say that I caught everything - and I know for sure I missed whatever the quippy, tagline thing was supposed to be - but it wasn't awful.  They need to fix that stuff with looping - here's hoping they do.  Then again, these are the filmmakers who thought it was OK to have Batman growl in a weird voice, so maybe they like having an unintelligible Bane.

The airplane sequence they showed in the preview was amazing - and also great to see in IMAX - but otherwise, I didn't get a lot out of the preview.  It'll be awesome, I'm sure of it.  I don't need to see a scene to reassure me of that.  Oh - one thing that was cool was that Aidan Gillen was in the preview.  He was awesome in The Wire and Game of Thrones, and it reminded me of how William Fichtner was in the IMAX preview we saw for The Dark Knight.  A kickass character actor in a little part generally means the movie is going to be awesome.

08 December 2011

Top Chef: Texas

Quickfire Challenge: Each of the chefs has to create a dish that uses a randomly-assigned sauce.  No one had gravy.  I call shenanigans.  Grayson, my girlfriend, wins.  And she should have - she used to be a saucier.

Elimination Challenge: Work as a team to create a 4-course steak dinner for 200 guests.  Ty-Lör bleeds all over his steaks, gets 4 stitches, and has an awful, fakely-spelled name.  Guarantee it's not on his birth certificate like that. 

Shocker: these idiots can't cook and serve the meat properly and mostly everything else is a big mess too.  I want Beverly and Heather to stay on this show forever because Heather hates Beverly as much as I do, and calls her on everything.  I love it.

Winner: Heather for the cake.  The cake recipe she has used before -- and stolen from Chinese Kentucky Ed.

Bye-Bye: Whitney, for botching a potato gratin I could have made in my sleep.  Dumbass.  It seemed like Tom was ready to send Whitney, Ed, and Ty-Lör home.  He probably should have.

01 December 2011

Top Chef: Texas

On the show's drive to Dallas, they're pulled over by State Troopers... and here comes your Quickfire Challenge: Create a dish using ingredients from an emergency-survival kit.  They have to cook in the middle of a field, and there's not much in the way of utensils and only little camping stoves.  Lindsay wins with her "soup and sandwich" - using Vienna Sausages and a "club sandwich" made with Saltines instead of bread.

Elimination Challenge: Create a course for a progressive dinner party, some douchey thing that neighbors who like each other do - move from house to house eating a different course in each one.  The houses are crazy-big and the husbands are all ugly as hell, so clearly they have money and these are their high-maintenance trophy wives.  Ick.  I'm not trying to watch The Real Housewives of Dallas here, goddammit.

A lot of the appetizers look great -- except for Chris's nasty thing that's supposed to look like a burning cigar.  Stop trying to be cute about it.  I want the artichokes and the Brussels sprouts like mad.

The entrees are all pretty standard and boring.  Now it's time for the desserts, which are always death on this show. Blonde Chris serves mint chocolate chip ice cream with a strawberry/banana cupcake?  Really!?  A couple desserts make it in the Top Four, along with my artichokes and Brussels sprouts.

Winner: Paul for those amazing Brussels sprouts.  I'm hungry.

Bye-bye: Chuy for some overcooked salmon.  Now that's some BS!!  I love him and either of the Chrises and their nastiness needed to go!

Revelation of the Day: Blonde Chris used to be a fat douche.  Now he's just a douche.