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Hello readers!  As promised in my May 27 post, I only intended to blog until summer sessions began.  Well, they have begun, and they have begun with a vengeance.

However, my housemates and I have just started a shared blog at foodiefriday.wordpress.com, based on our culinary adventures in the apartment, in Berkeley, and on the Internets.  Hopefully, because it’s a group blog, we’ll be able to update it more often between us.

Our most recent posts include:

We Follow: Fancy Fast Food Fancy Fast Food is built on the premise of “extreme makeovers of actual fast food items purchased at popular fast food restaurants.”  Dunkin’ Donuts become creme brulee, a Wendy’s Baconator becomes a savory Napoleon, Popeye’s Chicken becomes sushi.  No joke.

Boston Krème Brûlée & Fruit Tart (Fancy Dunkin’ Donuts)

Boston Krème Brûlée & Fruit Tart (Fancy Dunkin’ Donuts)

Jamba Juice BOGO Coupon We may be budding foodies, but we are also poor college students.  That’s why we’re excited that Jamba Juice is offering a buy one get one free coupon on any smoothie through August 9.  Here’s a link to the coupon.  Go on, treat yourself.

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread……is sliced Panda Bread.

Mosey on over and check us out.

Foodie Friday

Deanne made these Clue-themed cupcakes at my house for her Clue party this weekend.  I helped a tiny bit, but the credit for these definitely goes to her!

Clue cupcakes

The characters include: Miss Scarlet with the rope, Mrs. White with the wrench, Mr. Green with the lead pipe, Mrs. Peacock with the candlestick, Colonel Mustard with the revolver, and Professor Plum with the knife.  Also, poor Mr. Boddy in chalk outline.

What is a Clue party, you may ask?  For the party, Deanne and her friends each dressed up as a character from Clue.  They got fake weapons and costume accessories from the dollar store.  At the party, they played the Clue board game, watched the 1985 Clue movie, and ate these cupcakes.  Awesome idea.

Rock Band is my most favorite video game in the history of all video games.  I’m by no means good at it (I usually recruit someone to split drumming/kickpedaling duties with me, and have been known to fail singing on Easy) but I love it like no other.  I even draw nerdy literary comics about it. And this week, I made Rock Band cupcakes.

Rock Band Cupcakes

Rock Band cupcake

They’d be really nice to make if you were having people over for a Rock Band night.  (Do those exist?  They should.  If you host one, invite me over.  Perhaps I’ll bring cupcakes.)

On a somewhat related note, have you seen the trailer for The Beatles: Rock Band yet?  I’m pretty stoked.

mosaic_diy

I made these cards a while back for my cousin and a family friend, who both graduated from high school this year.  They’re summer-themed and made out of 12″ X 12″ cardstock, folded over into uneven thirds so that the waves overlap the beach scene and give a 3-D effect:

DIY graduation card

I used mostly scrapbooking materials for these cards, drawing inspiration from the materials at hand.  A yellow polka-dotted paper became the sand; a fun stripey paper reminded me of a beach towel.  The umbrella and the graduation cap get a subtle 3-D effect from adhesive foam dots, adding visual interest to the scene (you can’t really tell from the photographs).

DIY handmade graduation card

For a fun, youthful touch, I decided to cut the congratulatory message out of paper and glue it on, rather than stamping it.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Halfway through, however, I found myself deploring their respective parents’ lack of foresight in naming their children “Brendan” and “Avallon” over shorter names with simply-shaped letters more suitable for card-making.  I have never been such a fan of the letter “O” before.

Note to future parents: The letters “I”, “L”, and “O” are wonderful things.  If you name your daughter LILO, I’ll probably make her a graduation card.  Otherwise, she might be out of luck.

In honor of Watchmen, I made these cupcakes with Jackie.  It is probably one of the more kickass sets of baked goods I hope to ever create.  The whole second generation of Watchmen is represented, even Archie:

The Comedian cupcake, Rorschach cupcake, Archimedes cupcake, Ozymandias cupcake, Silk Spectre cupcake, Captain Metropolis cupcake, Nite Owl cupcake, Dr. Manhattan cupcake, Doomsday Clock cupcake, Watchmen cupcakes.

Watchmen cupcakes

watchmen cupcake the comedian's badge

See my previous post on Father’s Day cupcakes for a link to the fondant recipe we used.  Based on demand, I might put up a fondant decorating tutorial later this week when I make cupcakes with Deanne.  We’re thinking Rock Band and/or Clue.  Get excited.

Digg!

mosaic_cupcakes

Inspired by hellonaomi’s adorable cupcakes on Flickr, Jackie and I decided to make our own for Father’s Day.  We started with a basic fondant recipe and colored it with food gel coloring; working with fondant is a lot like working with marzipan (or, if you’re not much of a pastry chef, like playing Sculptorades in Cranium).  Here they are, in golf and airplane themes:

father's day golf cupcakes

father's day cupcakes airplanes

father's day cupcakes airplane

Mosaic_Watchmen

Alan Moore’s Watchmen was my first graphic novel, and I must say that it surpassed all of my expectations.  I’d heard good things about it from a few folks beforehand:

“Told with ruthless psychological realism, in fugal, overlapping plotlines and gorgeous, cinematic panels rich with repeating motifs, Watchmen is a heart-pounding, heartbreaking read and a watershed in the evolution of a young medium.”

Time Magazine, 100 Best Novels: 1923 to Present

“Remarkable … The would-be heroes of watchmen have staggeringly complex psychological profiles.”

New York Times Book Review

Watchmen is fucking awesome.”

Dash, Who Often Dresses Up As Rorschach

First of all, Watchmen had an unexpectedly cinematic quality that impressed me.  Check out the transition on the opening page, for instance, which makes use of a zoom-out effect very similar to the opening of a film (click for more detail):

Dave Gibbons’ illustrations also make great use of color.  I was a big fan, for instance, of his use of red-tinted panels during flashbacks of fight scenes, and of his use of color as a transition device.

I also loved how, just as in any good piece of writing, every single detail was there for a reason.  Advertisements, graffiti, the headlines on the newspapers blowing around the corners of each panel — you name it, you’d better pay attention ot it.  This richness of detail did seem to decrease as the novel progressed (although then again, that maybe have just been because I was so engrossed in the plot that I stopped noticing).

I’m definitely going to have to read it again anyway to catch all the hidden clues and artistic choices I missed the first time around.  For instance, did you know that the panels in Chapter V, “Fearful Symmetry,” are a mirror image of themselves, with the line of symmetry halfway through the chapter on page 14-15?  I didn’t.  Brilliant.

I don’t know what else I can say without spoiling anything, except: Go read Watchmen.  Now.

mosaic_bfd

Last Saturday was my first BFD, and it was awesome.  BFD is a Bay Area all-day outdoor music festival put on by San Francisco radio station LIVE 105, which features mostly alternative and mainstream rock.  I’ve wanted to go ever since high school, but never ended up making it out to the Shoreline until this year.  I’m glad I did.  Here’s who I saw and what I thought:

The Airborne Toxic Event

Blistering, majestic viola-enhanced, anthemic rock that lives up to the bands advance hype. USA TODAY  Photo credit: Band MySpace

"Blistering, majestic viola-enhanced, anthemic rock that lives up to the band's advance hype." (USA TODAY) Photo credit: The Airborne Toxic Event's MySpace

I’d heard lots of people say they liked The Airborne Toxic Event before, but I have to admit, I was ready to dislike this band.  Until they started playing.  First, there was the cool Asian guy on guitar.  Then, the girl who was singing/playing keyboard started playing viola — and not just playing it for the sake of having a viola in the band, but really legitimately harmonizing and adding to the sound.  Then, the bass player started playing his bass like a cello, with a bow and everything.  Then, the cool Asian guy swapped his guitar for keyboard duties, causing a girl behind us to remark excitedly, “Cool Asian Guy is playing the keyboard!”  The whole band had really good energy and sounded awesome live.  They have solid musical theory behind their songs, which makes me confident that their popularity will carry beyond their single “Sometime Around Midnight”.  Thumbs up.

Dizzy Balloon

Dizzy Balloon

"Dizzy Balloon, a band with an infectious pop sensibility....were like the class clowns in AP English -- juvenile without being delinquents, fun yet smart." (SF Gate) Photo Credit: Dizzy Balloon's MySpace

Alex highly recommended Oakland pop rock band Dizzy Balloon to me after they stole the show when they opened for The Jakes at UCSD.  After BFD, I will agree — they are hands down one of the most fun live bands I’ve ever watched.  The audience can tell they’re having a blast playing, and that enthusiasm and energy is infectious.  Their keyboardist was my favorite; he dances while he plays, and I think I even saw him throw in a bhangra move or two.  They’re playing at the Oakland Metro this Saturday with The Cataracs, one of Davin’s top local picks.  I’ll be out of town, unfortunately, but if you can make it out there, you should not miss it.  Catch Dizzy Balloon now before they hit it huge.  Thumbs up.

Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio headlined the Bud Light Festival Stage in an encore performance at BFD 2009.  Photo credit Steve Jennings, live105.com.

Alkaline Trio headlined the Bud Light Festival Stage in an encore performance at BFD 2009. Photo credit: Steve Jennings, live105.com.

Alkaline Trio was a bit of a disappointment at BFD this year.  I thought they lacked the distinctive, raw vocals that made Crimson and Good Mourning such good albums — maybe touring the U.S. and Canada with The Offspring has them tired.  Thumbs down, I’m sorry to say.

MC Lars

MC Lars headlined the Local Lounge stage at BFD 2009.  Photo Credit: MC Lars MySpace

MC Lars headlined the Local Lounge stage at BFD 2009. Photo Credit: MC Lars' MySpace

Over at the the Local Lounge stage, however, headliner MC Lars delivered a great live set as usual.  It’s pretty incredible that I haven’t blogged about  him yet, because he’s one of my favorite artists.  For now, suffice it to say that he is an English major from Stanford who blends old school hip-hop references with snarky social commentary and literary allusions.  He and his friends rocked the stage and got the crowd jumping with a mix of old favorites (“Download this Song,” “Hot Topic (Is Not Punk Rock)”) and new tracks from his 2009 album This Gigantic Robot Kills.  It’s always a good sign when the crowd seems to know all the lyrics to all the songs by heart.  Thumbs up.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Karen O. rocks her poncho and the mic during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs set.  Photo credit Steve Jennings, live105.com.

Karen O. rocks her poncho and the mic during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs set. Photo credit: Steve Jennings, live105.com.

On the main stage, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were busy being their loveably weird selves.  At various points during their set, Karen O. donned a large neon poncho; put a towel on her head; and jammed her microphone into her mouth, leaned waaay backward, and screamed.  At the end of the set, they fired what appeared to be hundreds of fluttering white moths out of a special white-moth-firing-cannon, much to the delight of the box seat audience below and, later, the local birds.  I can’t claim to be  the hugest Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan, but I do value their artistic statements (however inexplicable).  Thumbs sideways?

The Offspring

The Offspring headline the main stage at Shoreline.  Photo credit Steve Jennings, live105.com.

The Offspring headline the main stage at Shoreline. Photo credit: Steve Jennings, live105.com.

I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from festival headliner The Offspring.  They knew the crowd, which ranged from college students to highschoolers to families with small but awesome children, was there to hear classic Offspring, and rose to the occassion magnificently.  They hit all the favorites  (“The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “Come Out and Play,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job?,”) and made a nod to their newer ones (“Hammerhead”), sounding just as great live as they do in the recording studio.  Lead singer Dexter Holland even did a gorgeous piano arrangement of “Gone Away” he’s been working on, which was arguably better than the original.  Joining the band and 22,000 fans in sold-out Shoreline Amphitheatre singing “Self Esteem” was the perfect end to an awesome day.  Thumbs up.

The Metros are an indie rock band from south London.  Think The Libertines, if they were young enough to have gone to high school with you.

What The Metros lack in originality, they make up for in playful swagger.  Here’s a catchy single, “Last of the Lookers,” off their 2008 album, More Money Less Grief:

I love the lead singer’s suspenders, and the slangy British lyrics that make a minimum of sense to someone here on the other side of the Atlantic:

‘Cos we’re the south east lovers
Yeah we’re the last of the lookers
Wrapped up topshop coked up sweethearts know
Wrapped up topshop coked up sweethearts know

I met a girl, thought she was the bee’s knees
Turns out she’s ain’t even from Brockley, oh

The Metros, “Last of the Lookers”

Even when I know what they’re saying, I still don’t really know what they’re saying, but I have a damn good time singing along.  I think they’re worth keeping an eye out for as they continue to mature and develop their own sound.

If you like, you can view the band’s official website, watch the videos for singles “Talk About It” and “Education Pt. 2″, or read album reviews of “More Money Less Grief”.

Since school has ended, I’ve been getting my money’s worth on my Netflix subscription and then some.  Here are my two cents on a few of the films I’ve seen lately.  To spice things up, I will preface each with a haiku:

Everything is Illuminated

2/5 stars

the little hobbit

quests for his family’s past

mordor was cooler



“A young American Jewish man begins an exhausting quest — aided by a naïve Ukranian translator — to find the righteous gentile woman who saved his grandfather when his small Ukranian village (along with most of the populace) was obliterated during the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941. Stars Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz and Boris Leskin. Liev Schreiber directs –“

Yes, you read that correctly.

Yes, you read that correctly.

“–Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.”  (Netflix)

The first half of this movie is great, with “Royal Tenenbaums”-like quirkiness and charm, displayed wonderfully in the trailer.  Eugene Hutz, especially, is hilarious as Alex, the young Ukranian translator who makes hapless attempts at Americanisms.  But when Schrieber attempts to get all poignant about the Holocaust, he ends up overdoing the sad music and close up shots of people crying, and the movie just kind of grinds to a halt.

Across the Universe

3/5 stars

love it or hate it,

unless you’re high, you’ll agree:

bono’s no walrus



“An American girl (Evan Rachel Wood) and a British lad (Jim Sturgess) fall in love amid the upheaval of the 1960s in this musical featuring classic Beatles songs and a mix of live action and innovative animation. On an excursion to America, Liverpool dock worker Jude (Sturgess) falls for Lucy (Wood). When Lucy’s brother (Joe Anderson) is drafted, Jude and Lucy take a stand as anti-war activists. Dana Fuchs, Bono and Eddie Izzard co-star.” (Netflix)

I really enjoyed the beginning and the end, but thought the middle could have withstood some judicious cutting and come out for the better.  Bono’s cameo cover of “I am the Walrus” was one of the most painful things I have watched; the director could have recruited a tone-deaf, slightly-sloshed nobody from a random karaoke bar, and the scene would have turned out the same (if not slightly better).

He plays a douche remarkably well, though.

He plays a douche remarkably well, though.

Bono aside, the soundtrack is a real gem and what saved this movie from being a 2-star.  As long as you’re not a purist, you’ll enjoy the unique spin the film gives to classic Beatles songs.  “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Come Together” are two examples that also have good dance sequences:

Star Trek

5/5 stars

blending old and new

this film kicks ass.  credits roll,

i applaud madly



“Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his trusted team on the starship USS Enterprise boldly go where no man has gone before in this installment of Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi franchise that follows the early days of the intergalactic adventurers. The crew includes Spock (Zachary Quinto), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Sulu (John Cho). Eric Bana co-stars, and Leonard Nimoy appears as an older version of Spock.” (Netflix)

I was already a fan of the previous work of  John Cho, Anton Yelchin, and Karl Urban, so I was super delighted that they would all be in a movie together.  And how cool is it that John Cho as Sulu had a sizeable part in the script?  I am all for the correction of underrepresentation of Asian-Americans in film.

Nish described this movie on opening weekend as “Pirates of the Caribbean in space.”  I would have to say that’s not far off the mark, and would like to append “…but awesomer”.  It was well-written, well-directed, and if I had any quibble, it would be that the film felt a bit too short.  Five stars not because it was a pinnacle of cinematic achievement, but because it was the first film in a long time that I walked away from feeling completely satisfied.  You’ve got me, Star Trek franchise.  I eagerly await a sequel.

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