The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for February 2009

Hermit Cinema: The Wackness

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wackness

This movie was a very pleasant surprise. I was really looking forward to it when I first saw the trailer but then read a bunch of very lukewarm reviews that dimmed my enthusiasm considerably. The presence of Mary-Kate Olsen also throws any movie into questionable territory. I’ll also admit that I had this DVD in my house for weeks until I finally threw it in but was really glad that I did.

First, let me give you a little background. I grew up in a suburb outside of NY and spent much of the late 80’s and early 90’s running around Manhattan and getting into lots of misdemeanor-level trouble. That time in NY will always be over-romanticized for me the way things in your early twenties always are. I’ve always contended that in a way, Giuliani ruined New York City by sanitizing it of its danger and weirdness. (I recently got in a heated, 3 am debate about this fact in a swank hotel bar in South Beach but I digress.) This movie takes place during 1994, the beginning of Giuliani’s reign of bland. So I may be more empathetic towards this movie than I should be.

Josh Peck plays Shapiro, a guy enjoying his last summer before college, selling weed and befriending one of his clients. Ben Kingsley is that client, a bong-smoking psychiatrist blowing his hits through the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels with a dryer sheet stretched over the opposite end. (That’s a neat trick and it works by the way.)

This is a coming-of-age tale that felt very predictable and ended up being anything but. The script is very well-written and the dialogue very authentic and engaging. (Best line: “I’ve got mad love for you. I want to listen to Boyz II Men when we’re together.”) Kingsley is outstanding as a man going through the motions of his life and marriage. Peck is very believable and sympathetic as a kid trying to find his way and the affection of Kingsley’s stepdaughter. For some reason I always find Method Man a real treat in any movie and he doesn’t disappoint the few times he does make an appearance. If you’re a wannabe pedophile, like some of my coworkers, there’s also Mary Kate Olsen who does fine with a very small part.

One of the best parts of this movie is the music. (Hopefully my friend Dan would agree if he ever sees it.) They use a lot of songs from that time and there’s some very strong, old-school hip hop. (Think Tribe Called Quest’s Can You Kick It.) Between the music and dialogue, this movie made me very nostalgic for that time in your life when getting into trouble was part of the point.

For that and the mantra to stop focusing on the ‘Wackness’ of life, instead focus on the ‘Dopeness,’ I give this movie a B plus.

Written by the bee dub

February 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Korean Stew Day II

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galbi-gim-day-21

Here’s a better shot of the final product. I have to admit the picture I took of the finished dish on Sunday night wasn’t very good because I was pretty liquored up. My brother-in-law came for a vist and that usually means a few drinks. Here’s a pic of the dish on its second day.

Written by the bee dub

February 24, 2009 at 10:06 am

Posted in Daily Happenings

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LOST: What we’ve been waiting for?

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I finally caught last week’s episode online.

For me, the new ‘season’ really starts next week. No more do we have to suffer the Oceanic 6’s trials and tribulations as they struggle to re-acclimate to life back in the real world. No more do we have to wait for characters to come back to life. Actually, that’s not true. There’s still one character that’s almost certain to come back to life now that they’ve brought his dead body back to the island. But that should come as a surprise to no one.

Everyone’s back and it’s time to see what happens. If we’re really lucky, maybe the time shifting will be done with too. I have a feeling that may be too much to hope for though.

Written by the bee dub

February 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Posted in TV Thoughts

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Galbi Jim / Korean Stew: My mom would be proud

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So I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. A few people have complained to me about it. It’s funny how blogging is like anything else. The more you do it, the easier it is. Let a few days or over a week go by and it becomes easier not to write, if that makes any sense.

What do you think, Mom?

What do you think, Mom?

Anyway, it’s colder than I’d like here and was in the mood for some old-school comfort food. For me that means something with some Korean flavor. Tonight, if all goes right, we’ll be dining on Galbi Gim. Roughly translated, it’s a beef short rib stew. If done right, the meat is braised ’til tender with potatoes, carrots and onions that have soaked in a good amount of salty sauce flavor.

short-ribs-browning

Start with some beef short ribs. I’ve got eight nice hunks of short rib which came in at about four pounds worth. These are big suckers. Heat some oil in a dutch oven and brown/sear the short ribs. Flip ’em to get them all nice and browned all over. Remove the meat to a plate and work in batches.

short-ribs-browned

Then I drain the oil and per my Mom’s strong recommendation, add some water and bring it to a boil, cover it and lower the heat. Let that cook for about five to ten minutes or so.

There's an inch or so of water boiling down there though you can't really see it.

There's an inch or so of water boiling down there though you can't really see it.

Then put that straight into your ‘fridge and leave it there for a while – long enough for the fat to solidify. These are fatty pieces of meat so there’ll be plenty of fatty flavor left over. While that’s cooling, create your sauce. I’m eyeballing it but ended up with 1/2 cup of soy sauce, six garlic cloves, crushed, a tablespoon-ish of sugar, two tablespoons of sesame oil, two tablespoons of mirin cooking wine and some hot sauce (don’t tell my mom).

short-ribs-with-sauce

Take the meat and spoon off as much solidified fat as you can. I will be honest and tell you I know a lot of people who do not do this ‘remove the fat’ step so it’s no biggie if you want to blow it off. Give the pan some heat and add enough water so there’s a couple of inches in the pan, then pour the sauce over the top. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and cover. Let that cook for about an hour and a half. It doesn’t hurt to take a peek and spoon some sauce over the meat now and then.

korean-stew-ingredientsThen add your veggies. I added four yukon gold potatoes (cut in half), six carrots (cut into big chunks) and three chopped onions. Mix it all in so everything’s somewhat covered in sauce. Let that cook for a while. I let it go about an hour.

potatoes-carrots-onions-added

While the veggies are going, cook yourself some sticky, white rice. All I’ve got in the house in some Uncle Ben’s and I’m too cheap not to use it. My mom would be appaled but would also applaud my frugality on this one. It came out delicious.

If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I’d add sesame oil to the sauce because the stew is really fatty already. I also added too much water with the sauce. I added enough so the meat was almost covered but above noted the amount I’m going to try next time. Still, it made for good eating and I’m looking forward to a day or so of leftovers.

Written by the bee dub

February 23, 2009 at 9:23 am

Posted in Hermit Grub

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I can finally bring myself to write an entry again

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The dark days are upon us. Football is over. Kaput. Really. The next thing we have to look forward to is the NFL draft in April and by then, I’ll be taking in as much over-hyped, excessive coverage as I can.

Football really ended three weeks ago, with the conclusion of the AFC and NFC Championships. Then we get the bye week to build up more Super Bowl hype. Strangely, this was a very hype and scandal free buildup for once. Then we get the big game which was simply outstanding this year.

Then this last weekend we had the Pro Bowl. I can never bring myself to watch more than five to ten minutes of it. I try. I really do. But this is a sport that truly does not translate very well into any sort of all star exhibition.

After that, I curl up in the fetal position and wait. I do enjoy baseball and the NCAA basketball tourney. But nothing comes close to pro football for me. Nothing. Until we kickoff the 2009 season, wish me luck. Let’s see how deep this dark hole of depression can get.

Written by the bee dub

February 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

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LOST: Still with the time shifting?

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I really don’t know where this show is going and I sure wish I cared a lot more.

The time shifting for the folks on the island is starting to drive me batty. The inner conflict of the Oceanic 6 folks back in the world is also wearing thin. Suddenly Jin’s alive again. What the heck?

Please, to the TV Gods of serial drama, please let this be going somewhere interesting.

Written by the bee dub

February 5, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Posted in TV Thoughts

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Hermit Cinema: Tropic Thunder

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100tropic-thunder-poster

I heard a lot of hype from other folks about this movie and for the most part, it delivers.

Steve Coogan, who disappears from this movie all too quickly, plays a young director in over his head while making a war epic. Jack Black is one of his actors, hooked on drugs,  trying to play against his usual role in silly fart-joke movies. Ben Stiller is also an actor trying to play against his typical roles, but frankly, Ben Stiller is starting to always play the same character to me. This role isn’t all that different from Zoolander or  Dodgeball if you ask me.

The best parts of this movie are Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise. They absolutely steal the show. Downey plays an Australian actor known for his extreme commitment, and undergoes a controversial plastic surgery procedure to make him look African American. He never breaks from his ‘character’ and his over-the-top portrayal of a man trying to be black are simply hilarious.

Cruise, wearing a body suit and plenty of makeup, plays an über-powerful, self-absorbed agent. He isn’t in too many scenes but he’s hilarious, just hilarious, even while simply dancing to the closing credits.

Basically the whole cast goes into the jungle to make the film more verité and things descend quickly pretty much the moment they get off the helicopter. I think some of the movie drifts a bit but it’s worth it just to watch Robert Downey Jr. I’d put this among some of his best roles (along with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Wonder Boys and Iron Man).

For me this movie get a B.

Written by the bee dub

February 5, 2009 at 1:55 pm

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