Monday, July 21, 2014

Music Monday: "La Vega" (Isaac Albéniz) for guitar and orchestra

This is one of those pieces I could listen to all day. It's "La Vega" from Isaac Albéniz's The Alhambra. Played by Christopher Parkening (guitar).

Although Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) composed many important pieces in the Spanish classical guitar literature, "La Vega" was originally written for piano, and what was to become the suite The Alhambra (a palace in Granada, Spain)—based on English poems by Francis Burdett Money-Coutts—never actually came together. Albéniz said of his inspiration for "La Vega," "What I have composed is the entire plain of Granada, contemplated from the Alhambra."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Official Doctor Who Series 8 Trailer!

This week, BBC released the official trailer for Doctor Who Series 8, which will premiere on Saturday, August 23. It features Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, the Doctor's companion.

The trailer seems to show a lot of Daleks, so we can bet Daleks will be a huge part of the storyline. Because it refers so much to The Doctor's past regrets, it's safe to assume Capaldi is going to be a much darker Doctor than Matt Smith's bubbly Doctor persona, and I wonder if the story material will hearken back to The Last Great Time War and other such things.

In the trailer, Clara says, "I don't think I know who the Doctor is anymore," and when the Doctor asks Clara if she thinks he is a good man, she answers, "I don't know." I'm looking forward to a series that is heavy on moral questions and may blur the lines between good and evil.

Clara asks, "Where are we going?" and the Doctor replies, "Into darkness," which seems to be a reference to the recently popular Star Trek: Into Darkness, a movie which did a similar thing in re-sketching familiar heroic characters just a few shades darker using time travel to change the past. Basically, I'm prepared for anything.

Emergency Awesome has a YouTube analysis of the trailer you might also enjoy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"You're the Kirk to my Spock."

Re-watching Star Trek: The Search for Spock made me realize: The dime-a-dozen "romance" movies out there are of so little use to a girl like me (especially when most of the time these supposed star-crossed lovers barely know each other) when there are such fantastic movies about the deepest friendship, the purest brotherhood, and the most heartfelt loyalty—regardless of gender. (This also begs the question as to why the addition of a woman in a romantic context so often renders a movie insipid, but I digress.)

Why endure a vapid chick flick when Spock sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise and then Kirk sacrifices the Enterprise to save Spock?

"I have been, and always shall be, your friend."

Or when Spock remembers who "Jim" is even before he remembers how to add 2+2?

"Jim. Your name is...Jim."

Or when seeing Kirk alive is the only thing that can get him to smile?

(Besides "fascinating" plant life.)

Together they solve problems...

Go undercover...

And have crazy fun times.

"Yeah? Well, double dumbass on you."

They're friends in any alternate timeline.

I can only hope to someday have a friendship like this—and I really don't care which gender.

Friendship is better than everything.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (Christmas in July isn't nearly as weird as flying a shark-drawn sleigh.)

Today I was browsing Doctor Who episodes trying to find ones I haven't watched. (You know I have to get my Doctor Who fix, even if it means watching Christmas specials in July.)

How could I have missed the fact that there's a Doctor Who Christmas Special out there where the Doctor comes down a chimney with his sonic screwdriver and then rides a flying shark-drawn sleigh that is controlled by singing?

Man, I love science fiction.

Related links:
Doctor Who: Jumping the Christmas Shark?
IMDb: Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wrote earlier about having discovered a newfound love for cooking. After discovering a Kohl's gift card in my wallet from last Christmas (score!) I got myself a new mixer. But not just any mixer: a Food Network 10-speed digital mixer! And I'll be completely honest: I didn't buy it because it was digital or 10-speed. I saw it came in my favorite color and knew I had to have it.

It's beautiful.

After giddily unpacking it from the box like a kid on Christmas, I knew I had to take it for a spin, so I made these Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies from Ambitious Kitchen.

These are now my favorite go-to cookie recipe. They're the best of both worlds between a classic chocolate chip cookie and the more grown-up, complex flavors the brown butter and coarse salt have to offer. I also like that the recipe instructs you to thoroughly refrigerate or freeze the dough first, because that's a step I feel a lot of people forget to do and then end up with hockey pucks instead of chewy, gooey cookies like they could (and should). This is a good recipe for that.

The mixer worked great, by the way. I got to enjoy these cookies with a cold glass of milk in front of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which for some reason I don't remember ever watching before, because I think I'd remember a cool character like Ilia. (That movie gets a bad rap because it's 1/3 of the way through before the Enterprise actually leaves the dock, but it's still pretty good. I mean, it's Star Trek. It's about the heart of the whole thing.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Star Trek's John de Lancey Recites Poe's "The Raven"

John de Lancey
When I was in middle and high school, I really latched onto the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. They were so dark, morose, honest, or oftentimes fantastic in the worst way. Laying aside for a moment the grisly, grim short stories that are so widely known—"The Telltale Heart" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" among them—my favorite poems by far were "The Bells," "Sonnet—To Science," and of course, "The Raven."

So when I heard posted a video of John de Lancey (Q, Star Trek: The Next Generation) reciting "The Raven"—obviously, with skill I could have only dreamed of during my high school days of dabbling in drama and poetry, many times trying to get every detail of reciting this poem right—I quickly clicked. I wasn't let down. It's fantastic!

Go listen to it and be in awe of some real artistry! Wow!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Newfound Joy of Cooking

Lately I've taken a lot more enjoyment in cooking than ever before. Although I usually post about classical music, theology or science fiction, I want to start posting some recipes too. It helps that I have a much better stove now—I can actually do things with it that work!

I've been cooking a lot of chicken drumsticks because they're the cheapest. Today I made chicken curry by simmering 2 drumsticks in a pot for 40 minutes in a sauce of plain yogurt, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, garlic and onions, with 1 tbsp sugar. I browned the drumsticks first on medium heat. They came out fantastic, and the sugar was definitely a good idea even though it was probably a little sweeter than regular Indian curry. The thing is, if you use sweetened yogurt, it comes out the same (Vanilla yogurt is actually not bad, believe it or not).

I'm learning how to make better rice by soaking it for 20-30 min first in cold water and then letting it sit for 10 minutes after cooking to make it fluffier, but I still need to perfect it (or remember to soak it beforehand).

I experimented some with homemade marinades with Karo light corn syrup as the base (that's because if you look at the ingredients in most store bought marinades, corn syrup is the first ingredient). You use 1/4 cup corn syrup, add a tbsp or two of vinegar, some soy sauce, 1 tbsp of Worcestershire, some garlic and dried onions, and whatever else you want (to taste). Then you can simmer it until it reduces—just make sure it cools to room temp before you put it over raw meat (otherwise it's a sanitary hazard).

I ordered a Moka pot online and can't wait to make my own faux lattes at home with Italian espresso! You can use a milk frother too, but a small whisk works in a pinch (not proper, I know, but on a budget, this is still much better than drip coffee!) Also, Nescafé sells better instant coffee than most percolated coffee I've ever had...ever. Who knew?

What have you been cooking lately?