Thursday, May 02, 2013
So, obviously, I loved the movie. It was a laugh a lot of the time, but very sentimental. Loved the Mandarin reveal (contrary to most of my teammates). LOVED IT!
Think Jon Favreau did a better job at balancing the action with the schmoop (this was a little too much of the latter and too little of the former for me, especially since the movie was so obviously split into two discrete parts), and his comedic timing was a little less intrusive and more naturally going with the flow (felt like some of the laugh situations were rather... forced. No, the giant bunny thing wasn't one. It has been previously established that Tony Stark is reaaaally bad at choosing/giving gifts).
However... the final fight. I cheered and whistled and clapped with the rest of the audience when all 42 suits showed up (who else here thinks that the whole 42 thing was a rather clever, intentional meta joke?). I was captivated by the action, and didn't even get too nauseous while trying to compensate for 3D (IDK, post-filmed 3D conversion just doesn't work with my myopic vision/contacts. I always get thrown out of the shoebox effect and get two distinct "tracks"). Still.
Tony basically commanded poor JARVIS to commit multiple suicides. I love JARVIS. He clearly inhabited/worked in all those suits. They were humanized earlier through the movie. I couldn't join the cheering at this point, it felt like such a waste to me. Yes, I know, the whole "personal growth and journey, acceptance, blah blah blah" thing. STILL.
Lock them up in the armory, give the key to Pepper, and spare JARVIS the trauma.
This was the only sequence I actively disliked, and overall, I think it's a good ending to the Iron Man trilogy. I cried a few tears of joy when we were promised that "Tony Stark will be back" at the end of the credits, and the whole Bruce scene? "Not that kind of doctor." LOL.
I feel a little like the whole structure of the movie was off- I'll have to rewatch it again to really put my finger on it, but it just hurtled through some points of the set-up, then spent a lot of time on others. If only overcoming PTSD/Complex PTSD were as easy as breathing through a cute kid's instructions- I felt a little cheated out of a more convincing story in this point.
The visuals were stunning, as always, and I loved how the Extremis soldiers came to life. And DUM-E. I wasn't the only one sniffling, because DUM-E.
My favorite stunt? Monkey Chain. Especially the final reveal. WOOHOO!
Maybe I'll have a more comprehensive/understandable review for you after watching it again, or after discussing it with you in the comments? For now, though I loved this movie, it leaves me a little... dissatisfied/irked at something I can't pinpoint. Which is nagging at me because Iron Man has always been my favorite superhero since I was a little kid.
Help me out?
Monday, April 29, 2013
Being bullied for years has left me with serious touch aversion/exaggerated startle response. There are precisely four people in the world that can touch me unannounced and not have me jump through the roof or try to punch them, and they are my siblings and parents. It's been the death of many a prospective relationship (and contributed to the demise of the last).
Half a world away from those four people, I sometimes feel a little touch-starved. Positive tactile contact is just so rare for me, because I can't have it unless I initiate it, and I can't initiate it unless I trust implicitly, and I can't trust unless I KNOW that person, and I can't know that person because of language barriers (yes, there is a new person, but it's such a struggle to communicate...). So, it's just not happening right now. I get a little of it in my training sessions with M, but the nature of our relationship as personal trainer and trainee necessitates his touch hurts as often as it doesn't, so I'm extra jumpy around him. He always has to warn me about what he's going to do, or I'm going to go into flight-or-fight mode.
What's a newly-in-maintenance-mode, well-rounded, mostly healthy woman to do? Whip up some comfort food, of course! Sorry for the long-winded, whiny intro!
Lemongrass beef is my poison of choice tonight. It's a very flavorful Indonesian dish made of thinly sliced beef, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, chili, tons of vegetables, another ton of soy bean sprouts, and a very careful balance between becoming soapy and being the lemony goodness it should be. I don't have an exact recipe for making it, having learned the dish by taste, smell, and texture. I have to look up what to call half the ingredients in English (ex: Salam leaves, the a's are pronounced more like a Southern "o". Taste and smell similar to bayleaf, but spicier and softer at the same time), but let me just tell you that after combining around fifteen different spices, the tender beef will melt on your tongue with the vermicelli, the crunchy veggies storing the combined flavors in their juices, releasing them with every bite.
It's one of my ultimate comfort foods because it was rare, but special, when I was a child. Mom avoided making it because the Kaffir lime leaves were often treated with DDT and she was wary too much of the toxin would get into our food.
I'm growing my own now (I picked up a little Kaffir lime tree on my herb shopping spree earlier), so THAT concern is a thing of the past. I also picked up several different varieties of strawberries (one of my favorite fruits), including one that's supposed to taste like pineapple! Anyway, back to the food.
I can give you an approximation of a recipe, but it's going to take experimentation and knowledge of your ingredients to turn out just right.
You will need:
about 2lb thinly sliced beef (I use filet because that's what Mom used. Expensive but worth it!)
One or two onions
A piece of ginger, about the size of a pinky finger
young, fresh garlic (about half a clove). Dried works but doesn't taste as good.
gemalen kemiri paste (I THINK it's ground candlenut paste)
tamarind concentrate, about 1 Tbsp
turmeric powder, about 1/4 tsp
Indonesian five-spice blend (or make your own) (mine is aniseed, fennel, cinnamon bark and ginger all dried and blended into a fine powder), about 1/2 tsp
about 5-10 stalks of lemongrass (depending on freshness and intensity of taste/smell). Cut off the ends and smash the bottom to release flavor immediately before adding to the dish.
Sambal assem, about 2 Tbsp
Sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis)
salty soy sauce
a piece of a bhut jolokia (very, very hot chili), or another different very hot chili to taste (I used 1/4 of a bhut jolokia in this version and it made for a very pleasant level of hotness)
Kaffir lime leaves, around 4-8
Salam leaves (apparently also known as Thai bayleaf according to Mom, but might be a literal translation), around 3-5
Ground cardamom, about a pinch or two
galangal root powder (easier to use than fresh root), about 1/4 tsp
spring onions, sliced in rings
1 stalk of leek, sliced in half, then in rings
sliced bamboo shoots
soy bean sprouts
more veggies (going to use bok choy, fresh spinach, asparagus and peas this time. It's good to choose leafy greens, and something that will add a different texture)
vermicelli (glass noodles)
Slice your veggies into thin slices about 1/3 inch wide (dimensions of canned bamboo shoots). Wash and rinse your leafy greens, leave whole. Trim your beans to be the same size, pre-cook them. Keep the hot water from cooking the beans, break your vermicelli apart, quickly soak them and drain as soon as they turn transparent.
In mortar, mash ginger, garlic, and onions until they turn into a homogenous paste. Takes around half an hour of hard work.
Heat around 3 Tbsp sesame oil in large wok or pan (sesame oil works best with the taste, but you can substitute a neutral vegetable oil like sunflower). Fry your garlic-ginger-onion paste until lightly browned. Add around a Tbsp of gemalen kemiri paste, your chili, and some tamarind concentrate. Lightly brown.
Add the sliced beef and quickly brown on high heat. Turn down heat, add salty soy sauce, your powdered spices, prepped lemongrass stalks, Kaffir lime leaves, salam leaves, sambal assem. Add sweet soy sauce (maybe 2-3 Tbsp at this point). Add a little more salty soy sauce until there is a slight wet look to your pieces of beef.
Add your vermicelli and veggies except for the soy bean sprouts. Stir well, cover and let cook.
Make rice. I tend to cook mine* with a pandanus leaf and a little salt for Indonesian or Thai food.
Remove Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass stalks except for one or two, then add soy bean sprouts about 2-5 minutes before serving. Cover again and let them wilt a little into the dish. Taste-test and add sweet soy sauce to taste. Serve on rice and enjoy!
No pictures because I haven't made it yet Time to get cookin' before M gets here... Making extra because I just know that once he smells it he'll want some
Hope I didn't forget anything! Just assume the wet ingredients go in with the other wet ones and the dry ones with the powdered/dry ones!
*I use Jasmine rice or Basmati rice for those cuisines. 1 cup of dry rice, 1 3/4 cup of water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 fresh or frozen pandanus leaf. I have a rice cooker, so I just throw all of that in there and hit "cook". Seriously, if you have room for just one bigger piece of kitchen equipment in your kitchen, consider a rice cooker. You can make entire meals in there, and it's way less work to clean up than a KitchenAid.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
TMI warning! If you're easily shocked or offended, or don't like someone talking about changes their body is going through, hit your back button right now! Last warning!
Still here? Alright, today's mini rant is on the subject of.... BOOBS! As in, I used to have at least a semblance of them, and now they're off somewhere gallivanting in space with the unicorns and pegasi or something.
Seriously, I've been called the boobless wonder or mistaken for a pretty long-haired boy half my life. Aged 15, I finally got to the point where a SMALL A-cup would fit, and I was sooo happy. Victoria's Secret, here I come! (before, I was limited to horribly itchy French lace stuff, because that was the only thing available in AA or smaller that didn't look like it had been designed by a male kindergarten student)
Now, working out with M and strength training more, my boobs have somehow decided that sticking around wasn't worth it and went off into La-La land with whomever they thought more worthy. As in, my bras don't fit anymore. Not only do I have to do the hated jeans shopping (my thunder thighs, which won't ever go away because they're mostly muscle built in years and years of fencing and genetic predisposition toward storing whichever fat reserves I have in them, make that IMPOSSIBLE. Going to try a custom jeans-tailoring company that's not a lot more expensive than my usual go-to's, because H&M and co. just don't tailor for my shape), I also have to find new underwear.
So, while out scouting for a new washing machine yesterday, I went searching for bras too, because when scrambling into an outfit and not finding any clean underwear that fits, restoring some semblance of being a responsible and pulled-together adult sort of becomes a priority. Anyway, off to the first department store: IN EUROPE, ALMOST EVERY SINGLE F-ING COMPANY STARTS WITH A F-ING B-CUP!
I know that that has been the salvation of several of my very generously endowed nemeses in HS, but seriously: US SMALLER-CHESTED WOMEN WANT UNDERWEAR TOO! I don't want to run around wearing sticky tape only all the time (not that I've done that yesterday, noooo)!
So, I've gone from a 34 to a 32 (33 really, but I can wear a 32 band) despite my rather wide ribcage. My shoulders look ginormous and my boobs have disappeared. Not feeling very attractive at all currently... sigh. I knew something was going to happen, because I've been feeling almost comfortable in my body last week.
Now, here goes the old song and dance: The only stuff I found was horribly itchy French lace or sports bra lookalikes. Or something designed for thirteen year-olds.
Well, I'll be able to take it all out on the court in tonight's game. Going to play a little tennis, then go on to a league volleyball game. At least there I don't feel like a non-woman.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Stumbled upon this great list on tumblr today. It's lynz0125's on flickr, so not mine, but I thought it had some good ideas:
Link to readable size: www.flickr.com/photos/50915367@N05/7
Can you relate? I can!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
A new personal trainer decided to give me a test run on Tuesday- well, we mutually decided to give each other a chance. Let's just call him M.
M was great! First of all, he actually came to my home, at 10:30 pm. He's also a night owl and primarily works with people in leadership positions. We had a cup of herbal tea and a talk, about my goals and wishes, and then he put me through my paces testing my physical condition.
He set me a task of running up the eight flights of stairs to my apartment as fast as I could- and stopped me halfway through. He asked me about volleyball training the night before (we'd discussed what other physical activities I was currently active in), and told me he couldn't complete the evaluation on cardiac fitness because my leg was strained as is and he didn't want to get on the bad side of RehabNazi (she's scary!).
So, we just tested my muscle strength with bodyweight exercises and plyometrics, and my elasticity (still not very bendable). M was pretty satisfied with where I was (less than 27% body fat! Yay!), but told me he'd rather I not lose any weight for at least two months and focus on building a bit more muscle instead.
I was shocked- every other trainer was totally in agreement with me needing to lose the final 25 pounds. He was the first to openly disagree.
Let's just say he gave some very convincing reasons, among them the fact that I've been stuck around the weight I am at for more than two months now, losing and re-gaining the same three pounds over and over. He also said I'd need to build some serious muscle in my thigh to compensate for the useless knee, and that it was to an extent that was incompatible with simultaneously focusing on weight loss.
Somehow, I found myself nodding along with everything he said- and then we worked out.
Whoa! I was so exhausted and sore and beat at the end of it, but I had had so much fun! M works a lot like my favorite fencing trainer used to work- he sets me a goal, one that is just THIS side of seeming unreachable, and watches me go for it. He has that sixth sense of exactly when to pipe up and go and motivate/shame (yes, sometimes positive motivation doesn't work anymore) me into completing whatever he wants me to.
We immediately set up another workout date (hey, he's hot- let a girl dream ;) ) for Friday, when he'll complete my cardio evals. Whaaa, I'm dreading it! This time, we're meeting up at a gym he works with so it'll not just be stairs for me.
I hate the gym.
Thankfully, should I decide to go with M as my new PT (have two more sessions to decide), he'd come to my home to work with me. He's a lot into using just a few basic things- I'll have to invest in a good set of free weights, but that's something I wanted to anyway so not an obstacle. Everything else- things to jump onto, my own body, a workout mat- I have at home.
I'm at once excited and slightly scared of Friday. Wish me luck!
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