Sunday, June 30, 2013

Meserine: Killer Instinct

Imdb synopsisThe story of french gangster Jacques Mesrine, before he was called Public Enemy N°1.   
The more French movies I watch the more I think I may have been born in the wrong country. This isn't the pretentious film student in me talking (I’m not the kind of guy who enjoys the obscure art-house experimental French cinema) I actually think they have a very good mainstream lineup of movies. They know their stuff!
            Meserine: Killer Instinct (pronounced something like mowh-reen with that nasally sound that only French people make) is part one of a two part story. The second part, Meserine: Public Enemy Number 1, is also definitely worth a watch.
            The word I would use to describe this crime/thriller is riveting. This movie grabs hold of you in its relentless grip, and doesn't let go… at all… until the second movie ends. There are parts with so much tension and suspense that I found myself squeezing my hand into a fist, even though it was my second time watching the movie.
            The story is very character driven, and Vincent Cassel (the guy who dances through the lasers in Ocean’s 12) does a bang up job in making you both hate and love him. The story itself has a lot of similarities to Bonnie and Clyde but some major differences as well. Jacques Meserine isn't quite as monogamous as Clyde, but he does rob banks and create all sorts of trouble for the police.
            If you are the kind of movie watcher who doesn't mind reading subtitles and likes crime thrillers, then you should watch this movie. Parts 1 and 2 are both available to stream, for all those Netflixers out there.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Toughening Up

It wasn't that long ago that I was running exhausting games of tag, tumbling through grassy fields that stained  my toes and swaying to and fro on exhausted tire swings. I left the worries to someone older and wiser than myself, content and carefree. Then I grew up.

While the time may have come for me to put aside my childhood activities, it doesn't mean that I can't backpedal every once in a while for the sake of my sanity.

I ate pie today. For breakfast. For the third day in a row.

I gave piggyback rides and watched cartoons and sucked on cotton candy and played with Legos this week.
Stressful situations in our house are like colds- someone has it and the next thing you know EVERYONE has it. We're all snuggling into couches clutching our heads and drowning ourselves in water and Throat Coat.

It's easy to wallow. It's so easy to sit back and complain and throw out all the wrongs and the mistakes and the don't-feel-like-its. We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders- the expectations and obligations tugging us all different directions. There are some days when all we'd like to do is lay prostrate on the couch, allowing Netflix to touch our very souls and imbibe way more (homemade!) pizza than is normal for two graduated not-so-newlyweds.

Every inch of me is screaming for more sleep, more coffee, more time, and I'm carving out the moments I need to stay sane. This week those moments have been full of abandon, unrestrained or downright childish. I baked apple pie and ate it with apple pie goat cheese. Mr. E and I saw Monster's University, only to come home and disassemble his extensive Lego sets in our first step towards packing. 
I have been so preoccupied with the never-ending things that I need to do I haven't focused on the things I've accomplished. 

It's okay the dishes have circled that poor sink for the last two weeks. The bed was made today. It's okay our towels and swimsuits were thrown into a ball on top of the washer. We were below budget for our grocery trip this month. It's all a give and take, Mr. E and myself crafting our home and our lives, weaving an enclosure to shut out the harshness of the world.

We're stressed but we're working on it. We're feeling heavy with the weight of to-do lists and appointments but it's the beach days and the surprise parties and the movie nights that pull us together. Sometimes we just have to get in touch with our inner child and put all of those adult problems on pause, to play with the puppy and enjoy hot dogs from the grill, dance parties after a long day and stuffing ourselves with spiked smoothies. Before long this too shall pass and we'll be longing for when days were this easy.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Imdb synopsisAfter the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

I thought that I could be geeky enough to go see Star Trek: Into Darkness without re-watching the first (newest?) movie. Silly Brie. Star Trek isn't for kids!

It's not necessarily that they relied to heavily on each other, I just forgot that they've been given free-reign to play around with the details of the Star Trek universe because of the rift they opened in the last movie with Spock vs. Spock. So when the movie started getting eerily familiar- haven't I seen this before?- there was a reason why.

This is actually an excellent movie to explain that there are choices in lighting/shooting a movie that can enhance the overall feeling or distract the viewer from what's really going on in a sleight-of-hand sort of way. Case in point: lens flare. JJ Abrams is really well known for his lens flare- that bright spot (sometimes a line of light circles) that is reminiscent of staring into or away from the sun, particularly through glass or a window. There are some people who find this very pretty and artistic. There are other people who so over-use this effect that it's ridiculous. You can decide which one Abrams is. In his defense, I think he might try to rationalize his use of lens flare because it reminds the viewer that there's a lot of reflection/ light going on in the scene. This makes sense on some level because Star Trek is very shiny and new and space-age-y so light will ping off all of the expertly polished surfaces, right? And all of those stars flying by and planets and lasers are pretty otherworldly, so it stands to reason you'd want the audience to feel transported and ethereal too, right? You be the judge.

Then there's dutch angles. This is when a shot is tilted- as in not level. Sometimes you see a shot that's upside down or from a character's perspective who is lying on their side or at some crazy angle. This helps invest the audience in the character's dilemma- one of the few shots that feels first-person. Dutch angles convey a sense of "off-kilter" to the viewer: maybe a pivotal moment or decision. It's also useful in action sequences because it gives the illusion of heightened drama or action because your eyes are trying to adjust AND follow what's going on on-screen, creating a sort of tension or anxiety. Or maybe you just use them because you're trying to be cutting edge. Whatever.

There are a lot of different ways that movies involve the viewer that we pick up on subconsciously, but I think I would prefer a movie that doesn't do them all at once.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In Between #fiveminutefriday

Write. For five minutes straight. One-word prompt, five minutes, no editing. I'm linking up over at Lisa-Jo Baker (aka The Gypsy Mama) where we read, write and encourage.
Five Minute Friday

She sleeps right there, sometimes over, sometimes under, always snuggled right in between. Mr. E had a hard enough time with my flailing arms and legs in those stolen naps together, but now we're constantly poked and prodded with little puppy feet. We turn over in the morning to scold but she opens one lazy eye and her belly is uplifted just waiting for scratches. 

She'll always be our first.

In our constant state of waiting, the job search, the apartment hunting, it's the simple things that are the hardest. Remember to eat. Get up on time. Shave your legs today. There's always something that I'm missing lately because I'm not quite here nor there. I'm in a state of in between, population: me.

In the humid gloom of our add-on master bedroom I shuffle towards the bathroom, shedding sheets and clothes in my quest for the shower. If I make eye contact with her she'll prick her ears and cock her head to the side and swish her tail, eager to please. Mr. E is still a lump on a log at this point, too early for him and already late for me. This is where she thrives the best. She's snuggly and tiny and small, bits and pieces all wrapped around a tail that slowly inflates as she struggles to let out the biggest sigh of contentment.

As soon as I'm clean and human again she waits, eagerly anticipating the moment I open the second drawer from the top. It's at this point she knows- I'll reach in and she's already jumped the pillow hurdle, spinning between my feet as I hop and skip to shove my legs into pants. She'll sprint to the door and pause, waiting until I'm close enough for her to reach up and hook her tiny paws around my knee, stretching for attention. We play this game for most of the morning- I'm making cereal, checking my email, packing my briefcase and still she's stretching on her tip toes.

It isn't until the snap of the laptop that she sprints between the sliver of open door (ringing those dangling bells) and paces beside Mr. E. She's impatient, waiting for permission to jump on the bed and the moment she has it she's all waggy tails and tongue and floppy ears until...she's not. As quick as she can squeeze herself between Mr. E's backside and a pillow it's as if she wasn't awake at all. A kiss for them both and I'm out the door, only pausing long enough to make eye contact and she slowly winks her eyes closed and settles in for her second long nap. This was just the play time in between.

The Mummy

Imdb synopsis: An American serving in the French Foreign Legion on an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Hamunaptra accidentally awakens a Mummy.

This is in my top four favorite movies (the others being End of Watch, Another Earth, and Like Crazy). The only reason I didn't give this movie five stars is because I'm slightly embarrassed by how much I love this movie. 

I remember when I was first told about this movie in fifth grade. I had a rolly-backpack (right at the end of when they were cool) and I was totally convinced that I was on my way to becoming a really cool kid. This kind of came crashing down when I chose reading to volleyball, preferred to hold the ropes for jump rope and despised all of the little girls in Sunday School. I was also sorely lacking in pop culture- we didn't have cable and I wasn't allowed to watch PG13 movies until I was 13.

When little ol' me, with aspiring dreams to be an archaeologist, lover of all Mediterranean myths and avid reader, heard someone nonchalantly re-telling what The Mummy was all about, I was hooked. When I finally saw the movie it had every effect on me it was supposed to have: I sympathized with courageous Eve, I swooned over smooth-talking O'Connell and I was terrified to pieces whenever Imohtep came on screen. It was everything a movie should be.

Like a well-worn novel, pages fraying, stains and creases across the binding, I lovingly re-watch this movie every few years. Each time I relive the Indiana-like adventure and I remember that I am incredibly entertained by the cheese and the humor in this franchise, sans the fourth movie. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


You know what they say about asparagus? 
The tips are the best part.
Also, it makes smelly pee.
As in, why does the dog smell so awful after we just gave her a bath and she's on the other side of the door? Oh wait...that's me.
In my effort to add more veggies to our diet (vitamins! healthy! it'll make you feel good!) I found a recipe from the googiemomma (no, really) and I HAD to take that jump. She raved so hard about vinegar and feta I thought she must have been talking to me.
So Mr. E and I found ourselves at Ralphs, staring blankly at bunches of fuzzy-tipped branches as I tried for all the world not to think of eating Archibald Asparagus.

Mr. E was skeptical, but I figured if I could put on a bright face and convince him feta solves all taste problems, we might have a shot. And we did. For a while.
We washed and rinsed, then broke off the more woody parts from the stalk, just like googiemomma told us to- hold both ends and bend: wherever it breaks is good enough. This worried me that we would be getting much smaller stalks than what we bought, but when you get right down to it we didn't eat all that much anyways. 
Feta Vinegar Asparagus
one bunch of asparagus
1-2 Tbsp olive oil (I would rather have crunch so fry 'em up!)
two cloves chopped garlic
lemon juice
honey-ginger balsamic vinegar (make your own with honey. and ginger, duh)
crumbled feta (at your own leisure)

Preheat oven to 425F. 
Break asparagus stalks and rinse. Coat in olive oil and add chopped garlic. Add lemon juice and vinegar, pepper to taste. Lay on baking sheet in a single layer and cook 10-12 minutes until desired brown-ness. Top with feta, push back in for two minutes to allow ample melting time, then enjoy.

We drizzled in olive oil and garlic, then made our own vinegar mixture. Small difference here, which I think diverged from the recipe a little too much, we used apple cider vinegar (plus honey and ginger) because it was all we had. I really think that balsamic would have been a better choice (a much different flavor in retrospect), but I am all about using what you have.
Not too crazy about the smell through the house as these bad boys cooked- reminiscent of those nights when my mother was trying to cook healthy dinners and I had to sit in anxiety because I knew I wouldn't like it- but when we took them out of the oven that vinegar smelled HEAVENLY. Top with feta (much more than we thought we should do) and melt a little before eating.
The first few bites were tolerable...getting used to the new texture, the unusual taste and the smell. Again, the vinegar should have been balsamic, but all in all it was something I could definitely eat with the rest of my food. Mr. E was NOT crazy about it at all and insisted that we didn't have to try this recipe anymore. Even if the tips were tasty.
So, lesson learned. I like asparagus more than my husband. But he did suggest we try something like this with green beans (and I think we might try brussel sprouts this way too!), so all was not lost. Tasty, but potty breaks for the rest of the night were done by holding our breath.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Imdb synopsis: A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.

Oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways...

Your soundtrack is ridiculous. I could (and did) listen to this all day. Especially when driving through LA. Because I hate driving through LA and you make it bearable.

Your lens flare. So tasteful. So clean. So "this is how it should be done, J J Abrams"

Your cast. Ryan Gosling is concise, quiet, forceful and gritty while still maintaining a measured shyness. Christina Hendricks is all 'tude and desperation. Bryan Cranston tugs on your heartstrings not just because of his limp, but his over-eager, can't-get-it-right attitude. Carey Mulligan and her quiet loveliness- how can her eyes say so much?

Your production design- a study in simplicity. Jewelry is simple, Driver only has a few outfits (under the iconic scorpion jacket) and the cars are less about the outside and more about the experience in the cab.

Your car-chases. Because your director DOESN'T EVEN DRIVE so why should we make a car commercial when you're really trying to tell a character-driven story (Michael Bay...)?

This movie was a huge influence for Mr. E's thesis Ganas, and upon re-watching (this is our third or fourth time now) you can totally feel the same tension when you see similar shots in both movies. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Remember How It Is

Remember the teamwork between the two of you as you travel. The last minute packing, the exhausted anticipation as you drag yourself to the airport and try to check in without coffee in your system. The shyness that overcomes you both as you navigate through gates and trams and baggage claims, holding hands at take-off and smiling all the while. Remember that it was this easy once.

Remember the heat. The wall, the wave of oppression that hits you the moment you open the door. The weight of it suffocates you. Above all it smells warm. Remember the way you enjoyed the stark contrast to home, the way you can live in the moment, briefly, and understand that though harsh, it's seasonal and impermanent.  
 Remember homemade breakfasts and lunches to go. The hurdle jumped when you finally left chicken fingers and blue box mac and cheese behind to try chicken parmesean and wheat pancakes with backyard apricot syrup. Don't forget the love that's folded in each slice of bread, each bowl of fresh fruit, each bought soft-serve.
Remember her quiet strength, always present behind eyes searching for the moon and falling stars, fingers dusted with soil and dirt and clay. The way stories always circle back to Him; His strength, His love, His sacrifice. She wants better than the best for you and if she won't settle, you shouldn't either.
Remember the stories, over and over and over again. Your favorites about the family you've never known, the history of the county she grew up in, the puns and play on words. She challenges you, without intending, to think about how you communicate. You came home with new words on the tongue and a bevy of story ideas.

 Remember the thrill of a new trail and the nostalgia of an old one- the smells and sounds of the world. The crunch of sneakers on a trail, the slurp of a water bottle and the wide-eyed stare of startled deer. Remember the bugs, all over, everywhere- wading through spider webs and stepping on ants. Your stomach squirms (just a little) but you're old and wise enough now to know you're bigger and they won't hurt you.
Remember the way your husband falls quiet when he's done with the day. The way he gets subdued, introspective. Remember that he's here for you, because of you, but most of all with you; forgoing his preference for staying at home to cater to your hiking, car-riding, sight-seeing whims. He loves you like crazy and it's all he can do not to grin like a fool when he sees your childhood haunts.

Remember staying up late to play cards, or read, or just to watch the bonfire burn because you can. There's no pressure to entertain or to fill your moments because your vacation is your escape from reality. Do with it as you please since you answer to no one but yourself. No one can take this outlook from you but you had best defend it dearly, all the same. 
Don't forget how it feels to balance your commitments for once. Worry and stress have no place in the mountains and there's nothing you can email or search or apply for when you don't have internet access, so stop the guilt about not multitasking. This is your moment, your peace and your zen. You needed it, you wanted it, you deserve it. 
Relax. And remember.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rhythm #fiveminutefriday

Write. For five minutes straight. One-word prompt, five minutes, no editing. I'm linking up over at Lisa-Jo Baker (aka The Gypsy Mama) where we read, write and encourage.

Five Minute Friday
The drive home is always much different from the drive to LA. The drive is hot and sticky and nigh unbearable. The air conditioning doesn't work, the sun beats down, reflections off cars and signs and pavement. The roads are dirty and all of the fences have barbed wire, spray paint or trash.

We drove up to scope out our first apartment as a married couple- since the house we live in now, though rented, doesn't strictly count. It sort of fell, fortuitously into our laps and I'm already listing the ways I'll miss it. The apartment was nice enough to live in, and gosh durn if the end of summer or the beginning of fall isn't the best time to move. I'm all nesting and decorating and home-ing. But it wasn't it. You know what I mean.

The more people ask me about our impending move the better I am at lying. I'm fine. We're excited. We have places and jobs scoped out. Perhaps the more I fake my enthusiasm and control of the situation I'll finally convince myself of it too. The rounds are starting at work- You're leaving?- and the family is starting to question- When? How? Soon?- but my answers are vague at best, downright cryptic but always repeated.

Driving home is better, though. The weight in my chest lifts as we descend counties, that tightening I've learned to recognize as anxiety gently loosens it's hold. The freeway doesn't seem so dirty in the dark- instead it's all glowing lights and windy ramps and overgrown trees. The streetlights twinkle and the LA skyline in the distance pulses with activity. I smile at Mr. E and turn up the music as loud as we can handle. The bass reverberates in our bones and we lie back in our seats, content to pretend we belong here just like the Driver

I'm giving you a night call to tell you how I feel

I want to drive you through the night, down the hills

I'm gonna tell you something you don't want to hear

I'm gonna show you where it's dark, but have no fear

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

DIY Jewelry Hanger

Leave it to me to start a project to hang on the wall two months before I move. In my defense it had been bugging me for two years, so the fact that I did something about it trumps the hassle of taking it down again. I think. 

How did I turn the top of a door frame into a jewelry hanger? Well, a little like this. 
I'm a big fan of using what's around the house to get my projects done- especially for decor. Last fall, when I realized we didn't have any Thanksgiving/Halloween decorations, I turned to Goodwill books and recycled glass bottles. No Easter decorations? I cut up paint chips (free) and tied them together with string. As much as I love decorating, I really don't have any budget to do so.
Last year we had to knock out some pieces from a door frame in order to move a couch into the inner room of our rental. This house is sort of circular, centered around a room with access to an outside garden room that has seen better days. We've christened it the "office" and only lately have we really come to love the potential here- we house the computer, the sewing machine, our two comfiest chairs and assorted geeky knick-knacks. For a while we thought the sofa would be perfect, but after we realized that gas smell we were inhaling came from the couch, we banished it outside. Where it is still super comfy.
Case in point: kid approved!
We were left with two pieces of processed wood from the door frame- I guess these were sliding doors at one time, so they hid the unsightly track that used to be there. I had them lying around for the better part of the year, absolutely convinced I could do something with them and I'm glad that I kept them (now).

I measured and marked how long I wanted them, then had my handy Mr. E saw them into pieces. I spent the better part of an evening making my last piece of sandpaper stretch enough to sand the flaking white paint off, round the corners and smooth the sides. Anything to not make another trip to the store.

I painted them white with craft paint (this will be in the bathroom at some point, so I'm not too worried about brush strokes) and measured out holes for all of the hooks- remembering at the last minute that the first and last hole is for the screw in the wall. Nice planning, Brie.

Mr. E charged the drill (an all day affair) and eye-balled how deep he wanted the hole for the hooks. Since the wood was pretty thin we didn't want to split it, or go all the way through. To help, Mr. E taped the drill bit so he knew how far down to drill. Worked like a charm! 
We twisted the hooks in (left over from a Christmas project I didn't get to this year) and screwed those bad boys in the wall!
I really like the way they look! I originally wanted to use a tie-rack, but the one we have is occupied and I didn't want to spend $10/each for three new ones. I think they could have been spaced a little better- leaving my long necklaces to hang- but this DIY Jewelry Hanger is exactly the simple solution I've been looking for. Now I can see (and use) my necklaces/bracelets more often. Right?