Thursday, September 12, 2013

Movies: Now You See Me

My blog is never going to be known for its movie reviews.  Between the family members on the autism spectrum who hate crowds, and our rural location, going to a movie in a theater is an *event*.  And very rare.  But I had to share my thoughts on the movie I watched on DVD last night, "Now You See Me".

The friends I've made since high school don't know this, but I used to be a magician's assistant in junior and senior high.  Every year our high school put on a Madrigal dinner.  To be honest, I didn't pay attention enough to know if it was a fundraising effort for the drama department, the school in general, or just a tradition for a fun evening of theater.  What I do know is that our magic act would perform at it every year, and did side gigs for other schools and children's events.  I never got paid, I did it for the fun.  And it *was* a lot of fun.

So when I saw a trailer recently for "Now You See Me" I was enthralled, and knew I had to see this film.  Finally magic was once again the focus of the media... and not in a gross, Chris Angel, in-your-face kind of way.  It was a subject of wonder, excitement, and enchantment once again.  Yeah, they made it sexier with bank heists and crime, but it looked like it was celebrating magic in a way I could approve of.

I was not disappointed.  It did celebrate the wonder and theater of good magic acts, but it had more.  There were threads of misdirection in the plot, a tale of revenge (or two), a love story, death and resurrection, Robin Hood hijinks, a secret society, and humor.  Sure, some of the special effects were CGI instead of practical, and some of the twists and turns of the plot were a little heavy-handed, but I'd like to think even Shakespeare would have approved of the story.

The acting was very good.  Mark Ruffalo (does that man *ever* shave?) as the rumpled, reluctant FBI guy, Michael Caine as the elegant financier, and Morgan Freeman as the experienced magic-debunker all gave their usual stellar performances.  My only disappointment was the french Interpol agent, as her accent made her difficult to understand in spots.  It was a French director, I suppose he didn't realize.

I think if they had managed some of the stage effects with practical (physical) effects, rather than computer imagery, I would have considered this the perfect movie.  As it is, I only consider it to be a shade below five stars.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Food: Paleo and Whole30

I didn't really announce it (although maybe I should have) but for the month of September I'm trying the Whole30 "reset".  I don't want to call it a cleanse, or a diet, because both of those words have negative connotations.  I'm not trying to lose weight, and I'm not really coming off a binge of excesses, although sugar might count.  I *have* been having inflammation problems... the old frozen shoulder, my throat (I have an elongated styloid process on the left that I really don't want to have surgery for), joints that feel sprained.  I read the book, "It Starts With Food".  This is not a diet.

This is a fact-finding mission.

By cutting out "trigger foods"... wheat, dairy, sugar, un-healthy fats, and legumes... for one month, and then re-integrating them slowly back into my menu, I can figure out what's making me feel un-well.  Then decide if I really want to keep those foods in my rotation, or cut them out.  It's about finding a balance.

Leading up to the first of the month, I started easing into it by cutting back on sugar.  On the first of the month, I dropped it all (and believe me, that was not an easy thing to do having just made almost FOUR DOZEN burritos for the freezer).  I actually hit the symptoms of days 6-7 of the "what to expect" timeline on the 3rd of September, probably due to my "easing" into it.  Now on the 8th, I'm physically somewhere around days 10-11.  I'm bored with this.  My meat is always dry, I'm already running out of greens and it's a week before I can hit the grocery store again.  The highlight has been "crab boil night" (minus the little red potatoes and corn on the cob... sigh) with flash-frozen king crab legs, shrimp, and a foil packet of tilapia fillet in homemade citrus dressing.  (I was amazed the seal held)  Plain salad and sliced cucumber on the side.

But not every night can end with a pile of exo-skeleton on your plate.  And even *I* am getting bored with having to spend a half an hour in the kitchen every time I want to eat something.

So I bought a few of these cute little Rubbermaid "Lunch Blox" salad kits.  Last night I set my shoulders and lined myself up with three kits, using the separated trays and dressing container to line up ingredients from the Paleo Power Lunches book with a few modifications to fit what I had on hand.  I'd already made the Citrus Dressing with lime, and the Honey Mustard (OMG... yum) dressing earlier in the week, so it was basically a half hour of chopping and portioning.  So on those days when I hit eleven am and I'm starting to feel like gnawing off my own arm, I can just grab one of these and settle in for lunch.

And I'm sorry, but no amount of coaxing is going to get me to post a "beauty shot" of the inside of my fridge.  Let's just say they're lined up like good little soldiers, ready to be deployed.  The Lunch Blox are really quite neat, though, with nesting hollows on the lid for convenient, spill-proof stacking in your lunch bag.  They come with a fitted cooling block, too, and although I don't need them now, I might later.  I wish they'd had these twenty years ago.

I have already noticed an improvement in my shoulder and throat, so I definitely think there is something to this.  I'll try to keep you updated on my progress.