Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's My Birthday and I'll Dance if I Want to

Remember that story about me finally running into someone who knew me at Kroger?  Remember how excited I was? 

Well, scratch that.

It is much better to stay in the shadows.  The shadows where it’s okay to wear sweat pants and homemade ear bands (or buddy bands if you’re cool enough to remember that episode of Save by the Bell)

Here’s why:

My birthday was last week.  I turned old… so some friends from work took me out to celebrate.  They decided I needed to experience the “Tractor Bar”.  The bar where drinks are cheap and the men are as old as your father.

There were MAYBE 5 people in the entire place before we showed up with our dancing shoes on.  We quickly paid for some music and got on the dance floor.  Shortly after our dancing had begun a friendly gentleman named Rick decided to show us his moves.  He had a bounce in his step and a swing in his arms.  He didn’t need anyone to party with, but I think he was glad we were there to join him!  We quickly coined the term “the jump rope” for Rick’s one trick pony… I mean dance move.

A game of pool and a few Britney Spear’s songs later, I decided Rick and I needed to have a dance off… just us two in the middle of the tractor bar.  It could have easily been a scene from Save the Last Dance or Buckwild.  The night was a blast, and while I’m sure Rick probably disagrees, I think I took home the win with my bend and snap and butter churner moves.

My birthday is over now, but Jump Rope Rick has remained.  He is the daily talk of conversation at work, and we typically always find an excuse to do the jump rope move.  (ie: walking to the car, answering phones, or simply breathing) I figured my time with Rick was over, and I was okay with that.  He left me with great memories of my 25th birthday, and that's all I expected from him...but that wasn't the last time I would see ole' Rickster.

Yesterday, I ran to Kroger for a few meaningless items.  As I was walking aimlessly through the store, I saw him.   There, standing in the produce aisle, was Jump Rope Rick.  I quickly darted the other way, hid behind some burt's bees and began to pray.

For the love of everything that is good and holy PLEASE don’t let Jump Rope Rick see me! PLEASE! 

I decided to make my way to the back of Kroger and hide… for real.  I texted all my friends who went to the Tractor Bar that night to give them the Alert, “Jump Rope Rick is in Kroger!  I don’t know if I should run or dance!  I figured it was probably best to hide out and play on my phone until Rick left Kroger.  I only lasted about five minutes before I started getting Krogerphopic.  I managed to convince myself Rick was gone, and made my way to the deli section. 

I saw Rick pass again, but this time he smiled at me. 

I should run.  I should leave my buggy right here and RUN.  I’m too embarrassed to face this man.  He saw my butter churner move!!

Once Rick was completely passed me I think to myself, Whew!  That wasn’t so bad!  Rick is nice. He probable doesn’t even remember me anyway!

Rick turns back with an arm extended and a finger pointed straight at me and shouts, “ARE YOU THE GIRL I HAD A DANCE OFF WITH?!”

I shamefully replied, “Yep, that’s me.”  

Are you kidding me, Rick?  I know three whole people in Lewisburg and you’re going to go and REMEMBER ME and OUR DANCE OFF???  Geez! 

From now on, I’m only having dance offs in vacation cities.  I will never make friends otherwise.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mardi Gras Mambo

This time of year makes me miss home more than ever.  I mean... I guess I always miss home to an extent, but the January-June stretch is the hardest.  J and I make a point to go home for the "big" holidays, but Mardi Gras, MLK Day, and Easter just don't make the cut.

Still, even with the homesickness, February is one of my FAVORITE months!  Only second to October.

Here's why...
  2. I get to paint my nails pink, read sappy love poems, and bake sugar cookies for V-day (even though the hubs refuses to celebrate a "Hallmark Holiday"
Mardi Gras is amazing, and contrary to most Bourbon Street Friends, I love it for reasons other than hurricane drinks and boobs.  
I love it for the King Cake.

The last time I lived 1000 miles from home two friends sent me a King Cake for my birthday.  Later, I found out that those little $20 King Cakes that you find in every bakery and grocery store across Louisiana costs $70 to ship!!!  I refuse to pay that.  So instead, I decided to make one.  The dough is a copy from a recipe I found online, the filling was a fixed version of another recipe I tried, and the frosting and topping were all mine.  I hope you like it!  

Pecan Praline King Cake

1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of butter
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 (8oz) pack of cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups milk (or more if the mixture is too thick)
Optional topping:
1 cup white sugar mixed with food coloring (green, purple, and yellow of course)
* I used blueberry juice instead of purple food coloring... It's less additives, less grocery store trips, and it makes a really pretty purple!


Since the dough was a copy from another recipe and because the dough is the MOST important part, I'm going to copy the directions word for word so I don't jack it up.  

1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter.  Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture.  Whisk in the eggs.  Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.  When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

I promise it gets a little easier for a while... 

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper

5. For the Filling:  In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat, and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped pecans, and flour.  Remove from heat and mix until crumbly.

6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles.

7. Add the pecan praline filling (and some of the cream cheese frosting mixture if you'd like) along one of the longer sides of the rectangle.  Then, began to roll it up tightly like a pumpkin roll.  Form a circle and connect the two ends tightly.   Slice into the dough at one inch intervals.  Let the formed cake rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.  (I left one cake out over night to rise)

8.  Once the cake has doubled in size, place a small ramekin in the center to keep the sides from baking together.  Bake for 27 minutes at 325 degrees F.  

9.  While the cake is baking, melt the cream cheese in a small saucepan, and add 1 cup of milk.  Whisk in the confectioners' sugar.  Add lemon zest, vanilla extract, and a dash of salt.  If the mixture is too think, you can add more milk, or even a little water.  Cook until warm and set aside.

****This recipe makes TWO FULL King Cakes****

- You can also add a plastic baby to the cake if you want to stick to tradition.  ;)  I didn't have one to use for mine.  

I know this is quite a labor of love, but believe me when I say..... IT IS WORTH THE EFFORT!!! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mousewife Loves Music

When I graduated high school, like most young lads and lasses, I received a lovely bounty of riches. At the ripe age of seventeen, I had more money than I had ever had, and most likely, more money than I would ever have again. It must have been two hundred dollars. And like most people at that age when gifted a large sum of money, I blew it all within a few weeks. The most notable of these purchases, both monetarily and on the shaping of my life, was a portable satellite radio.

Back in those days, satellite radio was just starting out and the cost was quite high for the device. But I was flush with funds, and more importantly, XM had just signed a deal to broadcast Major League Baseball games. From June through October, nary a second was spent with that XM not listening to baseball.

And then autumn came. For a few weeks, I left that XM radio in the glove box of my car. Tossed aside like a forgotten lover or forgotten sandwich. Really, anything that was forgotten would fit there. Anyway, one serendipitous day, I busted out the radio from its hiding spot and shuffled through the stations. Being the pretentious person that I am, I settled on XM 52 'Unsigned.' It played zero bands with record deals. Zero. For some reason, I liked the idea of listening to poor, starving artists play music. 

My life changed.

Now, I didn’t go anywhere without the oversized radio in my pocket. Seriously. The thing looked like Zach Morris’s cellphone. Thankfully, this was before skinny jeans became fashionable, so it fit comfortably in my pocket despite its immense bulk. These days, I’d have to keep it in my fanny pack. Ahem.

Anyway, this satellite radio came with the capacity to record songs, and it wasn’t long before I filled it to capacity with tracks. And as a result, I began filling my computer hard drive with these tracks. XM 52 went the way of the dodo bird two years later, merging with XM 43 to become XMU, and while the station now featured a mix of unsigned and indie artists, there was no going back for this guy. Once a man’s eyes have opened, he simply cannot stand to blink. Or something.

That was a long-winded, likely boring story in need of pictures, and for that I apologize. Sigh. And here’s the list of the best songs from 2012 that I heard. According to my expansive iTunes library, I deemed 487 songs from the most recent year as worthy of being retained. Who knows how many didn’t make the cut. Probably twice that amount.

13.          “Five Seconds” by Twin Shadow
Like a B-side from some underground album from the 1980s, Twin Shadow stepped out of M83’s shadow with a track worthy of ranking right alongside M83’s second-tier tracks. Let’s be real. As good as this song is, M83’s best songs are on a whole different plane.

12.          “Man On Fire” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
Though this song failed to generate the kind of buzz caused by the band’s prior hit, “Home”, it is just as good. Listen to this three times on repeat and singing along is impossible. Trust me. I was in the sauna at the time when I did it, and this old guy who ignored the no nudity sign didn’t appreciate my rendition.

11.          “You As You Were” by Shearwater
This is an old-fashioned rock song masquerading as hard folk, and frankly, deserved to be the long-standing band’s breakout hit into the mainstream. Instead, it was yet another overlooked gem. Prior to this song specifically, I had viewed Shearwater as the little brother to Okkervil River. After this song, I rethought every decision I had ever made.

10.          “Emmylou” by First Aid Kit
Country music isn’t typically something I seek out, let alone love, but First Aid Kit is an exception to the rule. The Söderberg sisters pay tribute to country stars from years gone by while establishing themselves as the first great country duo of the new decade. If First Aid Kit is a sign of a changing of the guard with country music, I may be driving a pick-up truck on the way to a square dance festival with my cousin at this time next year. Stereotypes are fun.

9.            “All Of Me” by Tanlines
Tanlines did something interesting with this song. Somewhere along the lines, the group decided to abandon any concept of a verse, opting instead to stack hook after hook on top of one another. The result isn’t life changing, but it is catchy. This is mainstream radio pop at its finest. Unfortunately for Tanlines, however, this never really found the mainstream radio. While the band sobs in microwave containers of noodles, hipsters everywhere high-five in jubilation.

8.            “Fineshrine” by Purity Ring
For some reason, it took around ten listens for this song to really resonate with me. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention the first nine times. Maybe I am getting soft at my old age. Either way, somewhere along the line, resonate it did. It features challenging yet inviting lyrics that provide weeks of internal speculation. Or, if you’re lucky, you can discuss them with a friend. I’m lonely.

7.            “Laura” by Bat For Lashes
In less than five minutes, Bat For Lashes manages to create a character with a detailed history, and somehow, despite the limited running time, we feel for the creation. The music video suggests that the song is about a transgender, and whether or not this is the case, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that the subject of the song needs a hug, and I want to be the one to give it to him/her. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Natasha Khan has one of the best voices in the business.

6.            “Stay With Me” by No
My favorite music video of the year belongs to No’s “Stay With Me.” I was exposed to both at the same time, and so it is difficult for me to know whether my adoration for one affects the other, but I don’t care. Chicken or the egg, they both taste good with ketchup.

5.            “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes
This almost didn’t make the list. Not due to the song, but due to the finicky nature of its release date. But being the ultimate badass that I am and since I didn’t have a 2011 list, I am qualifying it for the 2012 list. Alabama Shakes mixes vintage blues with new age rock and freaking awesome female vocals, and no song better exemplifies this than the group’s first foray into the world. One day soon, Alabama Shakes is going to be huge. And I, and now you, can say ‘I knew them way back when.’ Let’s hope we don’t get slapped.

4.            “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy” by Passion Pit
Something about this song makes me want to jump up and down. And so I do. Though the subject of the song can be described as dour, it is delivered in such an upbeat presentation that it is hard not to smile. The pleasure this song brings is infectious. Never before has a song potentially about sexual assault and or domestic disputes been this much fun since I completely misread the meaning of Miley Cyrus's 'Party In The U.S.A.'. 

3.            “The House That Heaven Built”  by Japandroids
Japandroids is a rock group stuck in the indie world. This is guitar riffs and dumb, repetitive lyrics. Yet for some reason, it works, and it works well. Rock and roll has been watered down in recent years, with generic bands conforming to a certain song-writing style. Japandroids is anti-conformity. They’re a throwback group doing things like in the old days. Picking a favorite song from the group’s latest album is like choosing a favorite child. Easy. It’s this one.

2.            “Breezeblocks” by Alt-J
One of the best music videos of the year goes along with my second favorite track of 2012. Alt-J utilizes an unorthodox lead singer and unorthodoxer instrumentation. It’s a word. Possibly. This is avant-garde music fused with the best qualities of TV On The Radio. And again, please watch this music video. Pretty please. It features an ending that would be reminiscent of the film’s of M. Night Shyamalan if he didn’t suck so bad since 1999.

1.            “Pyramids” by Frank Ocean
Seriously. Find a better song than this from 2012. It took me a while to warm up to Frank Ocean’s specific style of song crafting, but once I did, I knew there was no turning back. It is just a few ticks shy of being ten minutes long, and honestly, every time it ends, I wish there were more to it. Like a fifty minutes more. As is, I am forced to listen to it eight or nine times in a row. Not only is this easily the top track of 2012, it is the early front-runner for song of the decade. 

Until next time, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mousewife: Part Two

From April to September, I do little besides watch Major League Baseball. On good days, I spend ten to twelve hours with the PS3 fired up on On bad days, when there are no day games, five to seven. It is glorious and magnificent and sad.

Little known fact: there happen to be six other months of the year. I know, right? Mind blowing. And during these six months, I do little else besides watch movies. To be exact, and I will because I keep a Microsoft Word document detailing what I’ve watched, since the first week of October, I have watched 241 movies. Please don’t do the math to compute how many that is per day.

Here is a darn near complete list of the eighteen or so best movies from the most recent calendar year. That would be 2012 for all of you even more out of the loop than me. Don’t see your favorite? Comment. I like to argue almost as much as I like to watch movies and baseball.

So without further delay, here’s the list. I had done many more, but whittled it down to eighteen for brevity’s sake and because I only have so much free time. That last clause was as a blatant lie.

18:                          Compliance
                Watching “Compliance” was as an uncomfortable viewing as I have experienced in many months. This is independent film-making at its finest, features superb performances, most notably an Oscar-snubbed Ann Dowd, and sparks heated discussion afterwards. Going into the actual plot would do it a disservice, but the film offers an examination of a situation that makes viewers want to scream out in skepticism. That it all happened makes it even harder to believe.

17:                          Goon
                I expected to hate this movie.  And even after watching the hockey-centric comedy, I’m not sure where within its meager runtime my loathing transferred to something else, but it did. Thinking back on it, there were many elements that I didn’t care for—the tacked on romance subplot, Jay Baruchel in general—but something about it just worked. It’s funny, gives us original, fleshed out characters, and features a spot-on showing from the criminally underrated Liev Schreiber.

16:                          Bernie
                Close your eyes and listen to Jack Black as the titular character in this, and he sounds like he’s doing a poor impression of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote.”  Open your eyes and he looks like a toad with a mustache. But I digress. “Bernie” was a fun, original distortion of the traditional tropes of a real-life crime film, and featured some of the cleverest editing of the year. Maybe not the best editing, mind you, but some of the cleverest. How dare you try and twist my words.

15:                          Flight
                One of the best scenes of the year comes from “Flight” when, and cover your eyes if you would rather not know the plane crashes, the plane crashes. Seeing it on the big screen, with darkness surrounding me and a heavy set Asian woman’s breath on my neck, there were few tenser movie-going moments this year. And that was just the first twenty minutes. When the movie slows down, it is just as good, and were it not for a story-telling choice during the film’s later moments, this would be much, much higher on the list. I wanted to love it. Oh, how I wanted to love it. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be for me and “Flight.”

14:                          Argo
                Though it has been taking home many prizes for being the top film of the year, “Argo” left me wanting… something. It was intense. Funny when it needed to be. And the climax was worthy of a few clinches of the arm rest. When it ended, I was sure I had just seen the best picture of 2012. And then it happened. I started to think back on it and all of the little techniques within that slyly worked to manipulate a viewer to feel a certain way. I’ll call this the ‘Ron Howard’ effect. Just because a movie hits all the right notes doesn’t mean it’s a song worth singing along with. I will watch it a second time later this month, and maybe my response will be more positive. Maybe I’ll overlook some of the editing tricks used to illicit tension.  Or maybe I’ll become more jaded. Let’s call this the “Looper” effect. I’m betting on the latter.

13:                          Smashed
                Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an angel in my eyes. Even when she is sitting at rock bottom. And rest assured, in “Smashed,” her character is paying rent at that very site. And somehow, through her natural charisma as a performer or my undying passion for her dimpled cheeks, I rooted for her all the way on her path to recovery from alcoholism. This is a minor story told in a low-key fashion, but sometimes, that’s more than enough.  Also, Miss Winstead got robbed of an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. But that’s a different story.

12:                          The Grey
                From the trailer, this looked like nothing more than a generic action movie pitting men against wolves. As a big fan of wolves and a big hater of men, I was all set to avoid this due to having my rooting interests compromised. But director Joe Carnahan earned my good graces with the under-seen “Narc”, and I’m giddy as gravy he did because his latest film was way more than I could have anticipated. “The Grey” is not an action movie. It is something entirely different and deserves to be seen by an audience other than the one that gets off on ‘splosions and witty one liners after 'splosions. 

11:                          Arbitrage
                No one likes people with more than them. For example, I hate this hobo that hangs out at Big Lots. The people who work at Big Lots hate the people running the company. The people running it hate the people running the bigger companies. And the C.E.O.’s of those bigger companies hate everyone. Due to this reason, “Arbitrage” does something I would have thought impossible. It makes one particular big wig C.E.O. as despicable as possible and, against the odds, also its hero. We actually root for him to get away with a multitude of crimes and deceptions.  This is a rare phenomenon and only partly attributable to Richard Gere’s presence in the movie. #1980sdreamboat

10:                          Safety Not Guaranteed
                I cannot say how long this movie is because I am too lazy to go look on the back of the blu ray and too lazier to google it. But I can say that for the first, oh, 95% of it, I was liking but not loving it. It was a quirky, fun little independent time travel comedy and nothing more. And then the end. I won’t say anything else about it except for no movie moment from this year generated the euphoria within me that the ending to this did, and that takes a certain special quality. It wasn’t necessarily what happened. In fact, the plot is really beside the point. I have seen it twice since that initial viewing, and while it didn’t quite have the same resonance as my first watch, it was still something special. “Safety Not Guaranteed” made me feel absolute joy, and all jokes aside, when a movie can do that, you’ve got something.

9:                            Killer Joe
                One of the quickest ways for a film to weasel onto my good side is through the use of long scenes. Call me a sucker, but I love them dearly. “Killer Joe” is essentially a filmed play, and while the performances can be a bit showy at times, it just works. The team behind it previously worked on “Bug”, another under-viewed gem, and here they are clearly having fun. Never before has a group of characters been so, so, so dumb.  “Killer Joe” is violent, sexually explicit, and features the greatest fried chicken scene in film history. It also features a game performance from Matthew McCounaghey, who broke out in 2012 with four examples that he isn’t just a handsome Texan with a great butt.

8:                            Beasts of the Southern Wild
                Few movies are able to generate the full range of emotional responses from a viewer, but this little indie which could manages to do just that. There are scenes where even the most hardened of curmudgeons would smile. Scenes where even the most evil people in the world,  podiatrists, would become outraged. Scenes where even the most robotic of robots would dry their eyes. At its heart, it is a coming of age story seen through the eyes of a poor, imaginative you girl. This also features one of the best scores of the year, and listening to hit has brought a smile to my goofy mug many mornings at the gym. Please don’t judge me. Everyone else already does.

7:                            Silver Linings Playbook
                The elements at work in “Silver Linings Playbook” shouldn’t work, but somehow, they do. At its heart, it is a romantic comedy in the most traditional sense. From the opening scene on, the end shouldn’t be unclear to anyone who has ever seen a movie before, but through the unconventional use of convention, “Silver Linings Playbook” rises above the customary trappings of the genre. Many of its detractors cite a dishonest use of mental illness, but any such claim is falling into the hand of the filmmakers. Yes, on the surface, *spoilers* love conquers all * but beneath the surface, hiding in the shadows like a pervert in a trench coat, there is far more on display.

6:                            Moonrise Kingdom
                Wes Anderson’s films have a certain quality to them, and for some, it is a taste left un-acquired. For me, however, his work is like rich, thick stew and I am just a thick slice of bread sopping up all that delicious, hearty goodness. My metaphors may be jumbled. Either way, this is Anderson at the top of his game, relying on a genuinely honest story that just so happens to be surrounded by thick layers of quirk and pretension. Ah, sweet, sweet pretension.

5:                            Django Unchained
                Upon my initial discussions surrounding “Django Unchained,” I’m sure I sounded fairly jaded. I am always quick to point out any and every flaw I have with a film, and while this one does have its fair share of flaws, it has oh so much working for it that they get washed away like bodies in the Hudson River. RIP Uncle Tito. The biggest gripe with the movie is that there was just so much of it. Tarantino’s long-time editor passed away before the completion of the film, and her replacement wasn’t able to work their magic in quite the same way. Within the two-and-a-half-plus runtime of this film is a two hour classic. That said, the version we’ve been given is pretty darned good. It’s a throwback to blaxploitation films and spaghetti westerns. Like hot dog chili on a pizza, it shouldn’t work. But man, does it ever.

 4:                            The Master
                Confession: director Paul Thomas Anderson is a personal favorite of mine. I’d like to think that he makes his movies just for me, but lets a larger audience experience it because he likes money. Unlike his previous efforts, however, “The Master” isn’t as easily digestible. It is tough to watch at times. Only one ticket was sold to my particular theatre screening, so I didn’t have the luxury of seeing how an audience reacted. If I had to guess, I’d imagine a raucous, popcorn scented orgy. But I digress. The Master is something rare in American cinema these days. A challenge. The plot doesn’t matter. The characters, their relationships, their choices– the things that are usually so obvious in movies are a mystery within “The Master.” It is chaotic and all the better for it.

3:                            Life of Pi
                When I was in undergrad, I had the bad habit of reading. This isn’t to say that the reading itself was bad, but I would take a book with me to school early. An hour or so before my classes started, and I would sit on a bench and read. Many, many, many times, I didn’t stop until I had finished the book in one sitting, missing class in the process. One of the books I read during this time was “Life of Pi”, but it wasn’t in one sitting. You see, there came  a moment when I was so overcome with emotion due to someone dicing onions near me that I was afraid of becoming a whimpering mass of machismo in front of a large audience. So I retreated to my car and finished. So my expectations entering “Life of Pi” were high, and while the movie didn’t recreate the experience I had with the book, it was an amazing achievement. Sadly, home viewing will never be able to replicate the jaw-dropping use of 3D seen on the big screen. Never before has a story about a boy, a wild animal, and a boat been this riveting. Imagine “Titanic” with Kate Winslet replaced by a bear. It is like that but not at all.

2:                            Cloud Atlas
                Near the end of “Cloud Atlas” is a moment so obvious but so unexpected that I hated myself for not seeing it coming and also was incredibly glad I was so naive.  Many places have torn apart this film, and it would be easy to do so should one be inclined. It is over-indulgent. But it is also attempting something that has never, ever been attempted before, and while the converging stories don’t all have similar impact, there are enough little moments of bliss and grandeur within the film’s extended run-time to make it worthwhile to any viewer who is willing to go in with an open mind and patient enough to pay attention through what can feel like tedium. The movie may be long, but  there is no tedium present. Every frame has a purpose. For four months up to the release of “Cloud Atlas”, I was dripping with anticipation. As the final credits rolled, I was not disappointed.

1:                            Zero Dark Thirty
                Walking out of the theatre, I had mixed feelings of “Zero Dark Thirty.” But as the hours passed afterward, something strange happened. I ate a sandwich and forgot pickles. Weird. Oh, and something else, the movie didn’t leave my thoughts. And that is a good thing. Usually for me, after a movie ends, I enter into nit-pick mode, tearing it to shreds the way a dog would a head of cabbage while making coleslaw for a picnic. But in the case of “Zero Dark Thirty”, it was as if the movie had cast this spell on me. This isn’t a war movie in the same way that “Zodiac” wasn’t a crime drama. Both take apart the conventions of the genre and create something unique. This, like "Zodiac" is movie making at its finest. 

There you have it folks. Feel free to comment away or text Catherine with vulgar derision. I am cool with either.

Also, I am not nearly as mean as I look. And for those who don’t know me, I look like Sylvester Stallone in “Demolition Man.” Fact.