Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Beef with Grimm

On paper, the NBC show Grimm seemed like something that would really appeal to me. It had fantasy with a dash of sci-fi, monsters, and the element of drama associated with week-to-week prime time shows. Not to mention my having been a fan of the book- a collection of macabre fairy tales- so when the first episode didn't wow me, I decided it was worth it to give it another shot.

Then a few more.

Then I lost interest entirely.

This whole time it's been floating around in the back of my mind; I don't care for the show at all but I couldn't pinpoint exactly why. Last night I think I worked it out.

Let me start with a brief introduction to the series:
Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt of the Portland Police Bureau learns he is descended from a line of "guardians" known as "Grimms", charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world, called Wesen. Throughout the episodes, he must battle against an assortment of dangerous creatures, with help from his friend Monroe (who is a reformed creature), and his partner Detective Hank Griffin.
On the surface it reads almost like a distant follow-up to the film Brothers Grimm. You'll notice I didn't link that, and with good reason. If you're fortunate enough not to have seen it, the plot is essentially "these Grimm bros were actually monster hunters AND storytellers, only they're really REALLY con-men who fake their monsters. Then there are real monsters to fight and they win and I think one of them has a girlfriend to save at some point. Or something."

Back to the Grimm incarnation at hand, it may have had potential initially, but as with so many films and tv shows these days the writers seem to focus so much on the special effects, the monsters, myth, and crazy rules of this world that they forgot to flesh out their main protagonist (read: Walking Dead).

More specifically, let's look at the character Detective Burkhardt for a moment. In the first episode, the audience gets to see his happy, stable life, living with a beautiful fiance, flowers and hearts all over everything. Domestic bliss for a normal, well-balanced guy. Boring, but we'll chock it up to realism.

My problem with the series stems from the time Burkhardt learns of his Grimm heritage. His reaction to learning that the world around him is not now nor has ever been the world he thought he lived in- that there are hoards of werewolves and vampires and the like ready to descend on the human race at any moment and the only thing protecting us is him- all seems to slide off his back like water off a duck. He doesn't start drinking heavily, have a mental breakdown, nothing. He becomes a slightly more angsty, but otherwise there is little to no character development by the protagonist of the show.

This is a problem because the writers appeared to almost ham-fistedly shove the normalcy Burkhardt used to have down the throats of the audience, only to have his reaction to his world being turned on end essentially be "Oh, okay this now."

If you disagree, please comment and let me know!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Serenity/Firefly Themed Gift Basket

A little late I know, but I wanted to share my experience from this past Valentine's day.

Now, I don't generally go overboard for Valentine's Day- the beau's birthday is just the month before and our anniversary is right afterward so those holidays get priority in the budget. This year, I decided on a creative, budget friendly little gift basket themed around his favorite series, Firefly.

When I hit the internet I couldn't find another example of anyone doing this, so I decided to record my process in pictures so I could share it here.


First off, the tools and components:

  • Small wood crate- Amazon
  • Shredded paper- Michael's Art Supply
  • Swing-top glass bottle- Amazon
  • Scissors
  • Double-stick tape
  • Aluminum foil
  • Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars
  • Kahlua
  • Skyy Vodka
  • Fruity Oaty Bar wrappers- deviantArt
  • Mudder's Milk label- deviantArt
Not Pictured:
  • Bao
  • Milk

A couple things to touch on here- There are actually quite a lot of recipes on the internet for Mudder's Milk and Fruity Oaty Bars, but the Mudder's Milk recipes all contain dark beer which gives beau headaches and I'm crap at baking so the bars were out as well.

Back to it! I chose Nature Valley Trail Mix bars for my Fruity Oaty's because they have (you guessed it) fruit, and oats! Since the label was proportioned more for a flat chocolate bar than a granola-type bar, I had to smoosh the trail mix bars- luckily they were pretty soft so I was able to do this without any additional tools. 

Nestle it up in some foil...

Wrap 'er nice and snug in the label, and tape...

Repeat as needed!

To mix up my beer-free version of Mudder's Milk, simply do a 1-to-1 ratio of vodka and Kalhua into your glass bottle, and top with chocolate milk, to taste (wipe the outside of your bottle clean at this point if need be). Next, cut out your Mudder's Milk label, hit that bad boy with some double-stick tape and throw it on your bottle!


I actually wound up unable to find any bao, so I picked up the most similar pork-buns I could find at a local Chinese place. All I did was place it into my wood crate atop the straw and all was well.

The "bao" looking like boobs was just a happy accident.

I welcome questions and/or comments! Thanks for reading!

The happy recipient!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Celebrity Spotlight: Shoko Nakagawa

I've always been a fan of Japan's rich, unique culture. As one of the oldest civilizations, and one of the farthest from our Western shores, every aspect from their quirky mythology to their day-to-day lives is fascinating to me. I'll admit, my interest was initially sparked by exposure to anime/manga, but I'm hesitant to place myself in the camp with "otaku", if only because I see my interest as more anthropological in nature.

That being said, when I discovered pop idol Shoko Nakagawa, I was really just... taken aback.

She's the 27-year old daughter of 80's actor/musician Katsuhiko Nakagawa, and best known as being the host of Pok√©Mon Sunday. Shoko Nakagawa, or Shokotan as she is sometimes known, is about as big an ootaku (a huge fan of anime/manga) as you can find; she is an avid cosplayer, talented illustrator, voice actor, and singer. She runs a blog that's hit over a million views and loves interacting with her sizable fanbase.

Shokotan is talented in many respects, to be sure, but the real love she gets from her fans stems from them identifying with her as an otaku/cosplayer.

But her multitude of talents are not the only things that garner interest in Ms. Nakagawa. She's also really... well, weird. She owns around ten cats and has said she enjoys "tasting" them and occasionally posts photos to her blog showing her doing just that:
Don't worry, she's only smelling her cat's anus in that last one. #thingsyoudontexpecttosay
Every year in Japan, summer is ushered in by the buzzing of cicadas and as children flock outdoors to enjoy the warm weather, some of them with net in hand to catch said critters, and yet another bug-related tradition has popped up in recent years. Shoko Nakagawa, like clockwork, will go out and collect cicada skins and arrange them in her hair and on her face. For real.

You didn't need to sleep tonight anyway, right?
I don't get the impression she does this stuff to get attention, after all, she already gets plenty for her many talents and pop-icon status. It seems more like she just gives absolutely no fucks and does as she pleases; in one interview she even stated:
I just want to leave proof of my life in my blog, and I just want to be as free as possible. Sometimes I'm too free, and my manager will get mad at me. 

I've got to admit, despite the flood of NOPE that overcomes me when I see those photos with the cicada skins, I admire this lady. She's turned her fandom into a career, and an impressive one to boot. Plus, you can't argue with that level of "don't give a fuck-titude ".

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

E3 2012 started up yesterday, and while I'm avoiding regurgitating all the same highlights you can read on hundreds of other blogs, one thing that stood out was the trailer for Disney's newest Pixar jam, Wreck-It Ralph, about a video game villain who gets sick of being the bad guy, and starts game-hopping to find a place where he can be a hero.

With the voice talents of John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman and more, the bar is already set pretty high.

The problem with this kind of movie is that it's really unlikely it won't go one of two ways:
  1. It'll be targeted at your more general audience of "family gamer" types, and resulting in sweaty gamer outrage being splattered all over the internet.
  2. It'll be so chock-full of obscure nods that hardly anyone will get it, and it'll flop.

Hopefully Disney finds a happy medium and we wind up with a nice Roger Rabbit for the video game industry, and not another Cool World fiasco.

**EDIT: To be clear, it was shown DURING E3, but not at Disney's panel.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gamer Fuel: DewRito Cupcakes

In the first of this new series on Geeky/Gamer eats, I'll be attempting to recreate the gametastic Dorito/Mt. Dew cupcakes sold at 4Rivers Smokehouse in Orlando, Fl.

I scoured the internet but couldn't find anyone who had duplicated the recipe, but I did find this Mt. Dew cupcake recipe from The Geeky Hostess, which I worked from as a base.

In an interview with John Rivers, owner of the aforementioned 4Rivers Smokehouse, Mr. Rivers advised in making one's own soda-flavored cakes, the use of a soda reduction was key.

Lovely ingredients!

Making a soda reduction takes quite a bit longer than I realized. You'll wanna use at least two or three times the amount you want to end up with, about 3 cups. Start by bringing your soda to a nice rolling boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1-2 hours until it becomes a syrup.

Stir stir stir

When done, mix 1/2 cup of your syrup reduction, and two eggs into your white or lemon cake mix (I used lemon for mine).

Throw that bad mama jama into your cupcake cups, filling to 1/3 full.

Bake at 350 for the time specified on your mix box (about 20 minutes) or until a toothpick/skewer inserted into the middle of cakes comes out clean.

For an extra kick of flavor, you can top each hot cupcake with a light drizzle of reserved syrup, creating a nice glaze.

While those babies cool, go ahead and start on your icing. You can either use a store-bought icing and add a tablespoon of Mt. Dew syrup and a squeeze each of lemon and lime, or you can go the from-scratch route, as I did.

Mix up your butter until it's nice and fluffy(ish), then add your lemon, lime, and Mt. Dew. Mix 'er up again, and start adding your powdered sugar a cup at a time until you get to the consistency you want.

When your cupcakes are nice and cool, top each one with icing and then just roll the edges in your Doritos.

(NOTE: You'll wanna do this right before serving, as the Doritos chips on your cupcakes will go stale rather quickly)

All in all, I'd say the flavor is... unique. I'm not in love with the icing recipe, as it had a very strong powdered sugar taste. The cake was good, and as noted the Doritos need to be added shortly before you're actually planning on eating them. :)

Happy noming!

Wonderful photography by HylianxPrincess of our sister-blog (literally) Ctrl Alt Petite.