Netflix Series: Hemlock Grove

Netflix debuted a few years ago, the sci-fi show “Hemlock Grove” and just recently released the third and final season. It’s an odd mix of traditional science fiction themes (vampires, werewolves, etc.) and updated versions of classical science fiction (biological and medicinal research). The main characters are the Godfreys: Olivia (mom), Shelley (daughter), Litha (cousin), Norman (uncle), and Roman (son). They are an extremely wealthy family who owns and operates a variety of industries in Hemlock Grove and whose headquarters is the “White Tower” (ominous, no?). The other main characters are the Rumanceks: Destiny and Peter. Rumancek’s are gypsies and do not nearly have the wealth that the Godfrey’s have. The catch: Godfreys are vampiers and Rumancek’s are werewolves. Obviously two clans that do not mix.

The seasons have a central theme that brings the Rumanceks and Godfreys together, but each season has a mutual evil that both families need to bind together to overcome. The first season is an evil werewolf that keeps attacking women. The second season are these odd, masked, religious zealots who murder people, making it look like an accident. The third season involves an even weirder plot-line of this winged creature who steals Litha’s baby and makes a weird third race to begin the apocalypse.

While the seasons make sense in the central themes, each episode was quite hard to follow. Moreover, some of the subplots were just really odd and superfluous. They neither meshed with the central issues of all of the characters nor were they helpful in understanding why the characters were the way they were. An example of this was the girl(s) that Roman befriends. He likes them, but then casts them aside, then returns to them and uses them. It was just weird!

Probably my favorite character was Olivia played by Famke Janssen. The whole first season, she only wore white. Every outfit was pure white. Gorgeous! Then, she begins to wear colors, solids that progress to prints. Reflecting back on the seasons, I think the white that Olivia wore in the first season were all affiliated with Olivia’s angelic impression on people. In the end, however, Olivia was the most demonic of all the characters. She is psychotic, selfish, and will do anything to protect herself (killing her own children, even). But, Janssen presents Olivia in an amazing manner. She’s elegant, poised, and brilliant.  She’s a character you love to hate.

Overall, I enjoyed the series, even though it did have a few issues. The plot-lines were mostly unbelievable, but when you have a plot in which all the characters are vampires or werewolves, I think you won’t believe any of it. Fairly unbelievable, but why else will you watch something like this? IF you have the time and enjoy science fiction, go for it. Otherwise, don’t bother. You’re not missing much.

Advertisements

50 Shades of Grey

So, little old me spent my Saturday night watching “50 Shades of Grey” because it was on HBO and I thought “why not?” After I watched it, I needed to re-ask myself: “Why?!” Not only did I waste my Saturday night watching crap, I also got really angry throughout the film, then slept like crap since I was so angry. Let’s visit the reasons I hated the film and then turn to the reasons I was so angry and cussing at my TV for the 2 hours it was on.

The short and sweet version of the plot: senior college student, Anna, meets billionaire, Christian Grey. He seduces her to be his “submissive” then continues to mistreat her. For the whole film. And in between small plot lines, there’s a lot of sex, ties being used as handcuffs, and whips. It’s extremely telling that I can summarize this film in two sentences. Not only was the plot extremely lacking in tangible plot lines that the average day movie-goer could relate to, the script was awful. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were decent as the lead cast members, but their lines were terrible. They obviously had nothing to work with.

Now, onto the more important business of the film: my overall anger towards its major themes. Lets cover the first one: Anna is Grey’s submissive. Just think about this for a moment: if Anna was the billionaire and she wanted Grey to be her submissive, do you think the film would be considered a porn? Do you think for one second, that society would find a woman beating a man (yes, I consider taking a whip to someone as beating) as a film to pay money to watch? I think not. That film would be found in one of the skeezy porn cinemas.

Moreover, this idea of a woman as a submissive feeds directly into the idea that society grapples with: a woman is an object. We have all heard of the “trophy wife” or a woman as “arm candy,” but this film has taken that logic to a whole new level. Throughout the film, Grey continuously reminds Anna “You’re mine.” There is no situation where a woman should be treated as such a minimalist object, especially as a sex slave. That’s exactly how Grey treats Anna: a sex slave. He makes her sign a non-disclosure agreement, negotiate terms for that agreement (including the use of some extremely forceful items), and do everything he says.

Not only is Grey a sadist psychopath, Anna is a weak female. She is so blurred by Grey’s gifts and the “new experiences” he is introducing her to, that she can’t see past them to see herself. We are first introduced to Anna as she mumbles through an interview with Grey and cannot think for herself. She is constantly trying to please her roommate, Grey, and her parents, but never herself. This is a HUGE problem and an even more detrimental theme of the film. A woman should be worth much more than her body. She has a mind. She has a soul. She has a heart. A body gets old. A soul stays intact and doesn’t, for the most part, change. Grey saw Anna as a body to torture. He did not see her as a soul to be nurtured and loved. Anna kept on asking Grey throughout the film why he can’t sleep next to her, why she can’t touch him, and why they can’t do couple things. Grey couldn’t do it for he saw Anna as a sex slave and nothing beyond that. Why didn’t Anna think more highly of herself than to fall prey to a crazy creep like Grey.

The most telling scene of the film that was the pinnacle point of my anger was when Grey introduced Anna to what he expected of her. Grey asked Anna about her past relationships. When Anna said she had not been with anyone ever, Grey said “we need to remedy this situation.” Excuse me?! This is not a “situation” that needs to be remedied. Anna was totally caught up in the moment that there was no fight in her to say “Wait, what, asshole?” Literally, I was appalled with the writing, the disgusting way in which Anna is seen as a weak female, and Grey as the man that needed to remedy a situation that in all reality wasn’t a situation to even begin with.

Obviously, my disgust and hatred for the movie could probably be expounded beyond the above 3 paragraphs. People do not need a movie in which women are treated like objects or trash. They get that enough in real life. Moreover, people do not need another porn movie. You can get that free off the internet. So, why pay? It saddens me that people want to go and see trash films like this. It saddens me that an author could imagine a relationship like this. Who am I kidding? It’s not a relationship, it’s a boy meets girl meets whips. That’s all. No substance beyond that.

Chicken Marakesh Slow Cooker

Fall is a great time for slow cooker season. The warmth, yumminess, and heartiness of food coming from a slow cooker is awesome. I also have not cooked anything with cumin in a while. Not necessarily a heavy curry dish, but something with lots of spice was what I was in the mood for. So this is the dish that resulted.

Ingredients: 3 chicken breasts, 2 sweet potatoes, onion, can of chickpeas, can of tomatoes, dried parsley, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic salt, salt and pepper, and jasmine rice.

Directions:

  1. Cut up chicken into pieces.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into pieces.
  3. Chop onion.
  4. Layer sweet potatoes, onion, and chickpeas into slow cooker. DSCN3092Place chicken on top of it.DSCN3094
  5. In a small bowl, mix: 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp garlic salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp of parsley. DSCN3093
  6. Place spices on top of chicken.DSCN3095
  7. Put tomatoes on top of chicken. DSCN3096
  8. Cook on high for 4 hours.DSCN3097
  9. Remove to low and cook a side of jasmine rice.
  10. Serve on top of jasmine rice and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls

I was recently in the mood for some lasagna (the pasta, cheese, and pasta sauce is so delicious) so I tried to look up some ideas that were a bit different than what I’ve made in the past. I also didn’t want to make anything traditional in the sense that it would be a huge casserole. So, to make it a bit more individualistic I decided on rolls. Additionally, for Fall, I wanted to incorporate butternut squash.

First off, lets establish how hard it is to cut a butternut squash into pieces. It’s hard!!! The skin of a squash is thicker than pumpkin and the inside is not much easier to chop up. I tried to follow some directions from online, but failed, epically. Supposedly, you’re to cut the bottom and top off. Remove the seeds, then peel the skin. Then chop the inside meat up. Tada! Yah, that’s a challenge, and that’s an understatement. I tried to just cut as much as I could from the inside. But, I would recommend buy any butternut squash already cut up or frozen. Fresh is too hard, but pretty to look at (for a cornucopia).DSCN3081 DSCN3079

Ingredients: lasagna rolls, low fat ricotta cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese, jar of pasta sauce, microwaved butternut squash, egg, and Italian cheese (mix of provolone and mozzarella).

Directions:

  1. Prepare the butternut squash.
  2. Cook the lasagna noodles and remove from boiled water and lay flat.
  3. In a pan cook down spinach.
  4. Mix 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1 egg, and cooked spinach. DSCN3083
  5. Spread ricotta cheese onto each lasagna noodle.DSCN3084
  6. Place bits of butternut squash onto each noodle.DSCN3085
  7. Roll each noodle and place in a pyrex dish.DSCN3087 DSCN3086
  8. Cover in pasta sauce followed by Italian cheese.DSCN3088 DSCN3090
  9. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.DSCN3091

Fluffy Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin season is my favorite! I really do love pumpkin flavored everything. It’s delicious. Now, what can you make with pumpkin? Well, I made last week pumpkin enchiladas. This week was something a bit more original in making pumpkin cookies. So that’s what I made! While these weren’t very traditional cookies, they were so tasty right of the oven. I stored them in the fridge and cooked each one prior to eating, for they were much better hot.

Ingredients: pumpkin puree, oats, brown sugar, white flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, too ripe banana

Directions:

  1. Combine well a cup of pumpkin puree and the banana.DSCN3074
  2. Add 1/2 cup of white flour and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Combine well.
  3. Add 1 tsp of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, and 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of oats. Combine all ingredients until smooth.DSCN3075
  5. Spoon onto cookie sheet.DSCN3076
  6. Cook at 350F for 15 minutes or until cooked all the way through.DSCN3077

Eggplant and Pesto Soup

It’s now November 1, Christmas is quickly approaching, and the fall leaves are changing. With these changes, come the requirement to cook more soup; of course, I whipped out my Soup Bible. It’s a great book that I am so happy I bought a while ago. It’s split into vegetables, chicken and duck, red meat, fish, and shellfish recipes. The book is fairly thick and has a lot of variety among its recipes, which is great for a person who has trouble deciding on what to make.

This week, I didn’t want too much of a heavy soup, thus something with a lot of broth. I stumbled upon this recipe and thought it would be something easy and yummy to try. As an add-on I made a separate bit of macaroni noodles to put the soup on. This added consistency, but the soup is great my itself, but be warned, it’s very brothy.

Ingredients: Eggplant, onion, 2 large carrots, basil pesto, vegetable stock, spinach, salt and pepper, can of italian tomatoes, can of northern beans.

Directions:

  1. Chop all of the vegetables up. The onions should be in half rounds, eggplant in squares (the size dependent by you), and carrots in small sections.DSCN3065 DSCN3066
  2. In a large pot, place a bit of olive oil, and cook the onions. Add eggplant and carrots.DSCN3067 DSCN3068
  3. Add vegetable stock and can of tomatoes, and beans.DSCN3070
  4. Add 2 large tablespoons of pesto to the soup.DSCN3071
  5. Cook for 5+ hours.
  6. Wash a large heap of spinach. Add to soup, slowly combining and wilting.DSCN3072
  7. Cook macaroni noodles separately.
  8. In a bowl, place a bit of noodles, piling soup on top, and covering in mozzarella cheese.