Tuesday, 28 January 2014

January Loot Crate!

My January Loot Crate arrived today!

This is my very first one - I've heard a lot of good things about Loot Crate, so I decided to give it a shot! I wasn't disappointed, as there are a lot of cool things in this month's crate. January's theme is "Launch," so I prepared myself for all things space.

First off, there's the "Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide." I'm a huge Star Wars fan, so I'm excited about this book. It teaches you how to say such phrases as "Will we be jumping to hyperspace?" Which, in my opinion, is an important question.

Next, there are a couple of stickers and a patch. The stickers are from Walls360, and are great quality - the website claims that you can reuse them hundreds of times before they lose their stickiness. The melting Rubik's cube is pretty cool, and I love the Star Trek Communicator Badge. Both have found a home on my laptop. The NASA "Meatball" patch is awesome too, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet (suggestions are welcome!).

There's also a Domo Superman Funko figure, although I'll be giving that one to my little sister as I don't really know anything about Domo - I was hoping for one of the other two Superman Funkos they sent out.

The Minecraft calendar in my Crate is cool, but again I'm not really interested in Minecraft, so I'm giving that to my little brother - I know he'll appreciate it more.

Also included in the box were a Star Wars trading card game, which I can see myself playing once or twice, and a little Loot Crate pin commemorating the fact that they launched one of their crates into near-space.

There are a few pieces in this crate that I really love, and as for the ones I'm not a huge fan of, they've already found new homes so I'm not bothered. Overall, I'm happy with this crate and depending on next month's theme, I might order another one!

Have you ever gotten a Loot Crate before? What'd you think?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Grammy Awards 2014

I've been watching the Grammy Awards for the past couple of hours.

So far, it's been fine - the hyped-up "best, most exciting Grammy Awards yet" has been pretty much like any other awards show; nothing spectacular, in my opinion.

There have certainly been some great performances. Katy Perry performed "Dark Horse" early on in the show with a spectacular set (as always!) and cool costumes. I was super impressed with Pink's acrobatic performance - that takes skills! Another of my favourites, Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar gave a bad-ass rendition of "Radioactive."

There have also been some cringe-worthy moments (I really do love you, Jamie Foxx, but what was that). Anna Kendrick (again, I love you girl) and Pharrell Williams' pre-winner-reveal banter was really cheesy and left me wishing they would just read out the category winner. And Neil Patrick Harris pretty much sums up how I feel about Pharrell's hat here:

Gotta love NPH.

Something that irks me about awards shows is that some of these already-wealthy celebrities are getting swag bags worth more than $20,000 afterward. It's bizarre to me that the people who can definitely afford these things are getting them for free. Oh, entertainment business.

After more than two hours, I feel the same way I feel with most awards shows - I've had enough for now and I'll check who won tomorrow.

Did you watch the 2014 Grammy Awards? If so, what did you think?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

"War Horse" | Book Review

I finished reading "War Horse" yesterday, and what a story.

It's told from the perspective of a young farm horse, Joey, who's sent to help the troops fight in WWI. Joey starts off helping the English in the war, and after a period of rest is recruited for the Germans before returning to the English again.

Seeing Joey on both sides and reading his observations of the people surrounding him provides a very interesting perspective. Oftentimes in war, there is perceived to be a "good" and "bad" side. The truth of the matter is that you'll find both kinds of people fighting on either side. Joey encountered kind and cruel people on each side, all of them affecting him and his view of the war and the people involved in it.

I really love the way this story portrays the bond between humans and animals. Joey and his human, Albert, share an unbreakable bond that carries the two of them through the war in the hopes of being reunited. It's not only this strong bond that's shown in the story; even just seeing horses makes most of the soldiers happy. The horses are not just animals to them, they're friends and comrades.

The writing style itself is simple, and most people will breeze through the novel. It's very emotional, particularly in the last third of the book, through which I basically sobbed. My pillow was soaked in sad, salty tears.

"War Horse" is a wonderful story not only about the deep bonds we're capable of forging with animals, but also of the human condition. All this from a rather unique perspective: a horse.

Have you read "War Horse"? Seen the play or movie?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

"Sleepy Hollow" Finale | TV Show Review

See image credit below
 Last night was the season finale of FOX's "Sleepy Hollow," a show I've very much been enjoying.

The show is a modern retelling of Washington Irving's story, and sees Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) resurrected in present-day Sleepy Hollow. There he meets Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), and together they fight the Headless Horseman and try to stop the impending apocalypse.

The show is a perfect blend of horror and police procedural, with some really funny moments to lighten the mood. I love the platonic chemistry between Abbie and Ichabod; it's great to see a show where the two main characters are really just friends and there's no weird sexual tension between them.

Last night's episode brought the season to a close, with the last ten minutes of the show involving a head-spinning amount of twists, which was absolutely awesome.

I can't believe the season's already over and I'm looking forward to season two. One thing's for sure: I don't buy a lot of TV series DVDs, but "Sleepy Hollow" is definitely going to be in my collection!

Have you seen "Sleepy Hollow" - the movie or the TV show?

Image Credit: Mike Fitzpatrick via flickr. The original painting is in the public domain. The original painter died more than 100 years ago.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

"Saving Mr. Banks" | Movie Review

See image credit below 
Yesterday, I decided to go see Saving Mr. Banks, which is an excellent movie. It's about P.L. Travers, who wrote Mary Poppins, and the period of time when Walt Disney was adapting her novel for the silver screen. The film depicts the battle of sorts between P.L. Travers and Walt Disney, and flashes back to the author's childhood to show the relationship between she and her father.

I love the way the film explains how much Mary Poppins as a character means to Mrs. Travers; it's a very heartfelt, emotional and entertaining film. If you're a fan of Mary Poppins, I highly recommend you watch Saving Mr. Banks. And stay a little bit into the credits to hear a real tape recording of P.L. Travers and Disney's team in the studio!

Did you watch Mary Poppins as a child?

Image Credit: "Mary Poppins and Bert" by Disney-Grandpa via flickr in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Picture-a-Day #15

I love making cupcakes.

More specifically, I love decorating them in weird and wonderful ways. Today's my Dad's birthday, so I decided to make him a race car out of cupcakes!

I got the brilliant idea from the book I'm holding in yesterday's picture: "What's Up Cupcake?" by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson.

The book is great - it provides instructions for various awesome designs, and also sparks inspiration for original ideas.

Of the several designs I've recreated from "Cupcake?," I've never been able to find all of the suggested ingredients for one. I suspect this is because the book uses American products, and in Canada we don't carry all of the same things. The good thing is that with a little imagination, you can easily adapt!

In this case, the authors suggest using vanilla wafers for the driver's face. As far as I know, we don't get the type of round vanilla wafers they recommend. Instead, I got creative - I melted some white chocolate and piped it into a circle on some wax paper. I placed a toothpick on top, covered it in more white chocolate, and once it settled in the fridge for a few minutes, it was ready to be stuck into a cupcake.

I always enjoy decorating cupcakes in cool ways, and I take pretty much every opportunity I get to do so. It's really rewarding because people are generally really appreciative of the awesomeness and effort that goes into them.

When I'm making cupcakes for someone's birthday, I always do designs that make me think of them. My Dad loves cars, so I thought this was perfect. He loves his cupcake race car, so I'm happy!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" | Movie Review

I went to see "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" with my best friend Christine today.

I really enjoyed all the action and adventure in this installment. It was great to be introduced to new characters, like Bard, and also get more of a background on characters like Legolas, who we know from the Lord of the Rings series.

Most of the plot-lines were interesting and relevant to the story, although the love triangle was unfounded.

Benedict Cumberbatch was awesomely threatening as Smaug and I was really stressed out during his scenes, which I think is a good thing as we're talking about a ginormous, fire-breathing dragon here.

I'm also really glad this film wasn't shot in 48 FPS again, because watching "An Unexpected Journey" made me dizzy.

Friday, 3 January 2014

"Evil Dead: The Musical" | Play Review

Today was a really fun day. I had dinner with my best friend Michelle, who I haven't seen in a few weeks, and then we watched "Evil Dead: The Musical."

I laughed through almost the entire musical - it was hilarious! It lived up to the corniness of the 1981 film, which I love, and was an absolute cheese-fest.

Towards the end of the show, things got particularly gory. To maximize the effect, the first four rows were dubbed the "splatter zone" and people in those seats got sprayed with stage blood. It was an immersive experience - literally!

The whole cast was great, and the sets were pretty cool.

I had an awesome time watching "Evil Dead: The Musical" - it's definitely in my top three favourite musicals!