Saturday, January 31, 2009

Too many movies to post (Part III)

I think this will be how movies will get posted from now on.  I just don't have the energy or words these days to devote individual short posts to a movie.  Oh that reminds me, I should post about my proposal since that was a major milestone in my science life.  But for now, onwards!

hellboy 2:  I was pretty disappointed actually.  I guess I had higher expectations for this movie because I found the first hellboy so enjoyable.  The plot revolved around some Legolas-like elf prince who wants to resurrect a golden army to destroy mankind and reclaim elf supremacy.  This guy was actually my favorite character because I could really see his point of view and he had a lot of exciting fight moves.  His sister looked kind of like Calista Flockhart and her romance with the fish guy was inexplicable and sudden.  When she peaced out, I can't say that I cared too much because the background romance was so empty.  There was one excellent scene with death - the costume on that guy was fabulous.  Rate ***

casino:  As the movie was three hours long, I had difficulty in getting ferret to watch with me but finally I prevailed.  I had a totally different idea of what this movie was going to be like.  The movie poster made it seem so solemn and grim that I thought it would be kind of godfather-like.  It was not.  The movie follows the parallel criminal careers of Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro and the corrupt casino they were involved with.  It was super entertaining and frustrating because you really wanted De Niro to stay on top, but of course, this is a gangster movie and no one stays on top in a gangster movie.  Sharon Stone played De Niro's wife and she was pretty great in the role.  Usually the ladies in gangster flicks are washed out babes but she had more in common with the Goodfellas gangster chick in terms of feistiness and pain-in-the-ass-ness.  I liked her and couldn't stand her.  Rate ****

my cousin vinny:  Since ferret was semi-fascinated with Joe Pesci after watching casino (so funny looking!), I deemed it a good time to watch my cousin vinny.   I had seen a commercial for it on TBS so was wishing to see it.  This is one of those movies I've seen bits and pieces of but never all at once, all the way through.  It was quite funny with old-school humor and the plot is neatly tied up and put away at the very end.  The karate kid was in it too and he has got to be the worst actor of all time.  I made a mental note never to re-watch the karate kid movies because obviously they must have been quite bad, despite my childhood memories of them.  Rate ****

tropic thunder:  The funniest part of this movie was in the beginning when they showed fake movie previews starring the various characters.  The RDJ and Ben Stiller ones were especially hilarious.  After that, the best scenes were definitely the ones that had Tom Cruise in them.  He was almost unrecognizable in his fat suit and bald wig but the crazy was still in his face and eyes.  His performance here was amazing, especially his solo dance at the end.  The rest of the movie kind of flew by in a high energy blur; unfortunately it's not a movie I'd want to watch again but it was decently fun while I was watching.  No Zoolander though.  Rate ***

millions:  At the end of the movie, I was like, so what.  I didn't really get any kind of message and the whole thing felt a little incomplete.  That said, the boy was adorable and I liked his conversations with various imaginary (or were they) saints.  I dunno, I don't feel like there's a whole lot to say about this.  It had cute parts, but no real tension or anything too solid.  Rate **

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This is my first reference book on gardening.  I chose it based on the excellent reviews on various blogs and amazon.  Apparently most gardening books out there assume you have a plot of land outside to toil in; this book is great because it guides you toward plants that will succeed in containers and gives you tips specific to container gardening.  In addition, it focuses a lot on edible plants and as that is my primary interest (although I'm starting to cast longing eyes at the little rose plants TJ is selling), I found this book especially useful.

Since I was starting with very little basic knowledge, this book also educated me on the basics of soil and fertilizing and watering etc.  I would recommend this book to beginners anywhere (especially those who lack space and live in small apartments).  Rate *****

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Adventures in Gardening (Cilantro/Cilan-faux)

The cilantro was definitely the bane of my windowsill gardening experience. I received a baggie of coriander seeds from the Tortoises and planted several in a few plastic cups. After forever, a small sprout finally took hold and grew. I was very fond of it, even after it became apparent that it was NOT cilantro, but cilan-faux. Cilan-faux grew like the weed it was until it was quite taking over my windowsill and had to be let go. 

I left one of the plastic cups on the windowsill hoping against hope and amazingly, one day a small cilantro sprout was spotted. I thought it was another cilan-faux but once the true leaves appeared there was no doubt at all. This was my most precious of plants because of how hard it was to get it going. Unfortunately, after it sprouted I read everywhere that one was supposed to plant cilantro in the container it was meant to be because of the long taproot that forms. Cilantro is finicky in many ways obviously.

However, this one didn't seem to suffer much from transplantation into coffee can. It grew nicely and I was fantasizing about chili verde sauces when suddenly, the leaves started to look different and flowers began forming everywhere. I snipped off the first few buds in the hope of staving off the inevitable but finally became resigned - the cilantro had bolted. The cold weather was too much for this plant I guess. Or maybe it was the transplanting, who knows. To be fair, the flowers were very pretty, small and white and delicate.

Since I am always one to look on the bright side, I became excited about collecting seeds to plant in the spring. I pollinated the flowers I saw and watched with satisfaction as the flowers faded and large green bulges formed. Since the coriander seeds I had gotten from Tortoise were dry looking and brown, I left the seeds on the plant until they looked the same. This coincided with the total death of the plant. When poor little cilantro was a crisp dry stick, I snipped the seeds into a bag and dug up the plant for my compost bin. BUT! There was already a tiny sprout growing next to the dead plant. Will it be cilantro or cilan-faux? Stay tuned!

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Adventures in Gardening (Mesclun Lettuce)

Out of all the plants I've been growing I've eaten the lettuces the most (which isn't really saying much and it also makes sense that it would be the one I eat most of). Here is a beautiful pile of baby greens in my salad bowl. There were several other times when I was able to snip a lovely pile to eat. 

Unfortunately, at one point, the lettuce pots started growing some kind of white mold on top of the soil. I was extremely alarmed and tried home remedies such as sprinkling cinnamon on the soil. Eventually I dug up what mold I could without damaging the plants. Truth be told, the lettuces did not look the worse for growing with some mold but I didn't want to take chances. I think it was the weather since it was quite humid in the apt at the time. Once the weather cooled and dried, the mold disappeared completely on their own. This problem was most pronounced in the pili pot.

Here is a picture of the lettuces and other plants during the fall. I started getting a large batch of the reddish leaf lettuces. I think they were lolla rosas. The arugulas were doing well during this time too and added a spicy bite to my salads.

After I came home from California (29th), I made one last very large (by windowsill standards) salad. The leaves had grown quite large and some of the plants were starting to die. One of the lettuces bolted. After cutting leaves for salad, I pulled out the remaining plants except for the bolted one. I wanted to see the flowers bloom and maybe try to gather a few seeds. My original plan was to empty the pili pot of soil and drill a few more drainage holes in the bottom but surprsingly, two little sprouts appeared in the soil so I will keep that going a while longer. As for my strawberry container, I have sown a new crop of lettuces. I'm not sure they will take hold since it is winter, but it seems worth a shot.

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Adventures in Gardening (Parsley)

Parsley has been one of the easiest things to grow. They took longer to germinate than the other plants but once they got going they were hardy and grow well. I'm not sure if mine are too leggy but when you buy them from the store they have long stems so perhaps that is what they ought to be. The leaves of mine are always very large, I do wish there were more leaves. However, they have been growing very well and I especially enjoy using these as parsley is a pleasant addition to any dish. As with the chives, I wish I had not decided to crowd the plants. I have one parsley in one coffee can and THREE! plants in another coffee can. Parsley is supposed to be only good for a year before the leaves start tasting bad so I think I will start another pot or two in the spring. I have to see about building another shelf on my windowsill to accomodate my beauties.

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Adventures in Gardening (Chives)

When I firsted transplanted the chives I put three plants into one pot because they looked so small. I wonder now if that was a mistake because they have really taken off. I seem to remember that chives don't mind being a little crowded though so it'll probably be all right. I can separate them at some future time if need be. Having a pot of these has been a pleasant thing since I snip some to put into dressings and potatoes and what have you. So nice! 

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Adventures in Gardening (Sage)

There is a lot to go over so I will do so one plant type at a time. Here is the progress of the sage after being transplanted to coffee can. Initial growth was very fast with large leaves. I was snipping leaves for tasty pasta dishes and enjoying their scent whenever I watered the plant. Overall the plant seemed bushy and compact, signs of health according to my gardening book. However, when the weather turned chilly the leaves started staying small, although there were many new leaves forming still. I'm not sure if it is the weather or something else. So far, there are no signs that it may be bolting or dying so I think it may live through the winter.

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