Monday, August 29, 2016

The latest from the Cake Files

I realized today that I haven't posted any of my cakes in a while. Last month I did two cakes decorated in fondant to look like gift boxes.













The first cake was a black pepper spice cake I got out of an old copy of The Spice Cookbook - 1964 that was given to me a few months back.  The cake was good, but not nearly as spicy as I wanted.  I think next time I make it I'll add a bit more cloves and fresh ground black pepper.  I filled the cake with coconut cream. 

The bow was made with gum paste the week prior, and since I've been thinking a lot on the color yellow recently, I put yellow fondant polka dots over the main color fondant of pink.

The second cake I did was a two tier cake, the first tier being red velvet with a whipped cream filling, and the second tier was a funfetti cake (like the one I did for Mother's Day) with a dolce de leche filling.  Like the first cake, the bow was done out of gum paste and left to sit/harden for a week. I wrapped the base of each tier in a fake silver rhinestone ribbon. 

As I was carrying this cake to the person whose birthday it was, a woman told me she loved my "hat."  Looking at the photos, I can kind of see it now, actually. At the time I thought it was really funny that I had made a cake that was mistaken for a fancy hat.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Movie Review - Mohenjo Daro

I haven't done a review in a long while - years, actually - and yesterday I felt inspired to finally sit down and write up another one.
           
A touching, heartfelt film that manages to breathe life into familiar story architecture against the artistically inspired backdrop of the ancient city, Mohenjo Daro.
Rating: (out of 5)

Have you heard the story of the orphaned farm lad who dreams of life beyond his provincial borders, so goes to the city/capital/castle and discovers he has a much deeper connection to the province/kingdom/royal family than he ever knew? Along the way he saves/falls in love with a woman of a higher station, and takes on an evil tyrant while learning the truth about his parents/heritage.

Yes? I should think so. It's a pretty standard Hero's Journey story across a lot of cultures and Mohenjo Daro hits all of those beats as well as a few other major tropes (see below).  But if I avoided every story that utilized storytelling tropes or followed a Hero's Journey, I would never pick up a book or watch a film ever again.  And in doing so I would miss out on the richness stories bring to our lives, and completely overlook gems like Mohenjo Daro.  This is a film that shines because of its heart, not its cutting-edge storyline.

Mohenjo Daro is about the farmer Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) who travels to the title city against his aunt and uncle's wishes, where he discovers the extent of the injustices carried out against the people by the evil Senate Chief Maham (Kabir Bedi), and falls in love with the beautiful Chose One, Chaani (breakout performance from Pooja Hedge) who is destined to bring in a New Era.  The acting is on point across the board, from the main actors to the supporting cast, and every character comes to life with heartfelt sincerity.  While I watched I could feel the joy, wonder, love, and turmoil from each character as they went through their stories and hardships. Hrithik Roshan was wonderfully sincere in his portrayal of Sarman, and Pooja Hedge had a strength and screen presence that I can't wait to see again.

Visually and musically the film is absolutely stunning. There are a couple of points where the special effects felt a bit... not rough, but perhaps unnecessarily dreamlike?  There was really only two minor points when I felt the visual effects pulled me out of the story, otherwise it was seamless.  The music more than made up for it.  The soundtrack was... hauntingly beautiful.

I was disappointed that we only got two song and dance numbers, despite three songs being released as promotional material and my assumption there would be more considering the length of the film (just over 2 and a half hours).  The two songs we did get, Mohenjo Daro and Tu Hai, were amazing.  Watching Hrithik Roshan dance is never disappointing. That aside, I also loved the soulfulness of the dances, and the ability of Roshan and Hedge to bring their characters to life through their dancing.

I really appreciated that Hedge's character of Chaani was not reduced to a weak love interest turned prize, and was given at least a couple of chances to show strength in her role.  For that matter I felt that the few female characters who had speaking roles (4) were given real character, even if it wasn't for very long.  It almost made up for how little women had to do in the film overall.

Despite complaints from other viewers and critics about the historical inaccuracies, I really enjoyed the costuming. The variety, the colorful simplicity, and yes, Chaani's headdresses, added to the overall beauty and color of the film.  It was splendid.

Halfway through the film, a Big Reveal occurs, and it shifts the direction of the story.  Everything comes to a head, and there are a couple of pretty brutal fight scenes as the characters face the repercussions of the conflicts from the first half of the film.  The pace picks up from there and keeps up until the credits.  I didn't feel this was a disjointed shift, it was definitely eluded to early on that this was coming, though I can see how some might feel like the film seemed to change genre.  I disagree, but then this is all opinion anyways.

Conclusion:
Was the movie perfect? No. Was it wonderful? Yes. Definitely.  I walked out of the cinema knowing that I was going to get the soundtrack, that I wanted to go see the film again (I did), and that I can't wait until it is released on DVD.

Ratings by Category:
Story


Cinematography/Appearance


Visual Effects


Music/Soundtrack


Acting



Tropes (may be spoilery)
I find it fun to look up what type of tropes stories have on TVTropes.org, so I thought I'd include a list (not comprehensive) of what I spotted in this film.  This is in no way a criticism of the movie on my part.  You should see the lists my friends and I come up with after going to see the popular American blockbusters - easily twice as long in some cases, and these are considered tropes for a reason after all.
Farm Boy/ The Heart / The Unchosen One
Rebellious Princess/ White Magician Girl / The Heart / The Chosen One
Nephewism
Locked Out of the Loop
Really Royalty Reveal
Arranged Marriage
End of an Age




Links in the text (in order):
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3859980/
http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/mohenjo-daro/
http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey.htm
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004335/?ref_=tt_cl_t1
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001934/?ref_=tt_cl_t3
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5249562/?ref_=tt_cl_t2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izb4mHrd3Zk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7epv31JmJrE
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FarmBoy
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheHeart 
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheUnchosenOne
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RebelliousPrincess
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhiteMagicianGirl
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheChosenOne
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Nephewism
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LockedOutOfTheLoop
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ReallyRoyaltyReveal
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArrangedMarriage
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EndOfAnAge

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SDCC 2016 - The (late) Highlights Reel

So I'm finally getting back into a post-SDCC, post-Nerdfest!, post-GISHWHES routine - just in time for me to move in to a new place... Yup. That's how I roll.

San Diego Comic Con was super fun this year, as always, and this was the first year in many that I didn't spend an inordinate amount of time waiting in line.  There were a couple of monster lines that I partook in, but it wasn't something I faced every time I wanted to walk through an entryway.  Signs of things to come? I can only hope.  If it goes back to being Line Con instead of Comic Con, I may follow through with my yearly threat of calling SDCC quits and instead focusing on the smaller cons.

I decided this year to focus on smaller panels instead of sitting in Ballroom 20 all day or watching the fall season TV pilots.  The only big panel I hit was the Netflix Marvel Luke Cage presentation - the only time I spent in Ballroom 20. It was a fantastic panel, and I can't wait until Luke Cage comes out. (And I walked in during the panel before it without waiting in any line - awesome sauce!).


So here is the highlights reel:
  • Harley Quinn frappuccinos at the Starbucks
  • Subjecting my carpool (San Francisco to San Diego) to my Bollywood soundtracks collection
  • New Authors panel
    • All of the books by these new authors looked really interesting, particularly Rebel in the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton.  The other authors included: Sylvain Neuvel, Todd Lockwood, Keira Drake, Bob Proehl, and K.S. MerBerth 
  •  The "You got science in my fiction" panel which included a bunch of fun sounding novels by J. Patrick Black, Blake Crouch, Christopher Farnsworth, Patrick Hemstreet, Leah Thomas, and of course Andy Weir (author of The Martian).
  • Mars Needs People: Putting Humans on the Red Planet
    • A great panel on NASA's and the general aerospace industry's mission to send humans to Mars - including the building and testing of the SLS
  • Hollywood to Bollywood via Dubai panel
  • Meeting Frank Beddor (author of The Looking Glass Wars and Hatter M)
  • Spending a night in line.... something I told myself I would never do. In my defense, I made up for it by not waiting in pretty much any other lines the whole weekend.
  • Getting mistaken for an industry professional by Marjorie Liu (Name of the Rose)
  • Writer's Journey panel on "Maximizing Your Exposure in the Marketplace"
    • The big take away from this panel being that if you wait until you have a product to sell, than you waited too long to start marketing yourself
  • Trek Talks: Star Trek and NASA Boldly Go panel
  • Being there for release of the new CASIS ISS Mission Patch (it has Rocket and Groot on it!)
  • Fangirl Foods - an awesome panel with Chef Duff Goldman of the Food Network and Cake Masters
  • An amazing panel on the links between personality and reactions to pop culture characters called "Bam! Whack! Boom!: Psychological and Personality Influences on Pop Culture."  
    • This one was so interesting I may do a fuller write up of it later once I've read more into the research that's been conducted so far. 
  •  Talking with some of the scientific and engineering minds behind the 'Journey to Mars' panel at their booth in the main exhibit hall
  • Meeting the artist Anway Sahar
  • Imaginarium Gallery booth:
    • I went owning 1 little dragon, and walked away from that weekend with a whole menagerie (pictures to come.... maybe). >_> 

Until next time, Comic Con!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Musings on Yellow - The Sun Dress

“I don’t think I’m going to get it.”

“Why?”

“I don’t look good in yellow.” I don’t, maybe, but my blonde hair matches the pattern of yellow flowers on the short, flowy summer dress.

“But it’s adorable.” It is.

I shrug.

“You usually love this style.” I do.

“Yellow makes me look all pasty.” It doesn’t. I don’t think.

“It does not. And it’s covered in sunflowers. Sunflowers are awesome.” They are.

“I can’t afford it.” I could.

“I don’t need it.” I didn’t.

I wanted it, though. It was cute. But… it was yellow. Well, a bit of white covered in yellow and gold sunflowers.  The soft material slid sweetly through my fingers, swished back into place.


Five years later and I’m still thinking about that damn sun dress.  I wish I had bought it when I had the chance.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Stabbing at a river...

"Where is the Orcslayer!?"
"Killing a river."
???

- Journey Quest, Episode 3

And of course, the next time we see this "warrior" he is, in fact, attempting to stab a river to death with a sword. Because.... reasons.

Anyways, July was crazy busy. So was June for that matter, but June was the kind of crazy build-up busy that leads to a level of schedule madness that can only be described as, well, July. My July at least.

San Diego Comic Con was amazing fun, Nerdfest!2016 (Wizarding World) was meant to be 24 hours of movie marathoning and themed food but actually ended up lasting over 25 hours, and I found a new place to live so I've been prepping a move. Last week was also finals week - 11 hours of finals which were done over the course of 1.5 days.  Also, I became an aunt to two beautiful twin girls.  So you know, not much has been happening. >_>

I have been working on writing up the panels I attended at SDCC, going through the pictures from Nerdfest, and working on a new piece I might serialize. So, unlike last time I updated, there is more to come soon.