Friday, January 23, 2015

King of the Nerds 3x01 "Judgment Day"

You guys, I almost completely missed that the premiere was happening tonight. Luckily, I happened to have TBS on in the background two days ago and saw a commercial for the new season, so I was able to record it in time. What, you say, didn't you have it set up to record from last season? I would have, sure, but the DVR was replaced and blah blah blah. Anyway! Enough about me. On to the show!

kotn-season3contestantsIt's always tough to comment on who may do well on the show this early in the game. But I was surprised to notice that former Jeopardy champion Colby was a contestant. I was like, hey, that's Eyebrows from Jeopardy! Yes, I gave him a nickname during his tenure on Jeopardy for always having an eyebrow-raising expression going on. He could come off as kind of know-it-all-y on there, but from the brief time we've seen him on KOTN so far, he doesn't seem that way at all.

Anyhow, here's what went down. After everyone convened at Nerdvana for the first time, the players were split up into two teams, as is the norm. But this time around, they did not pick their own teams. It's not entirely clear how the teams were chosen, but I suspect they tried to make them evenly matched in all areas. Thus, the blue and green teams were born. Their first challenge? To create a Rube Goldberg type device that would reveal their chosen team names.

After spending a little bit of time getting to know one another, they got down to business. In the end, the blue team prevailed in the challenge. Their device was just a bit more creative and whimsical, and I have to agree with the decision. That meant the green team was going to the Nerd Off. Like in past seasons, the team itself would choose one member to go in, while the other team would choose their opponent. So who was chosen?

The green team chose Ori, who seemed surprised, but he was the only one as everyone else on both teams seemed to know that was happening. The real surprise came with who the blue team voted in - Jacob. Everyone thought Jacob was safe, that the other team was going to pick either Colby, due to his Jeopardy fame, or one of the girls, because of her cosplay knowledge. But that was all part of the blue team's plan - frazzle them.

And, sadly, it worked. The Nerd Off challenge was all about anime, kotaku and, uh, some other third word that I don't remember, which was bad for Jacob because Ori is a big anime nerd, or otaku? Honestly, it seemed like Ori was going to shoot himself in the foot because he wasn't really studying, while Jacob was getting some serious study tips and help from his other teammates. Alas, Jacob did not prevail, which is a shame because he seemed pretty nice. Which leaves Ori to cause more distress among his team members - just what the blue team was hoping for. So I guess they could call that a success.

It's hard to say at this point who has a chance at winning the whole shebang. The girls (minus Kaitlin, it seemed) did talk briefly about trying to set up an all-girls alliance that goes beyond the teams, but it wasn't clear if everyone was really into it. Kaitlin seems like she is probably going into a Nerd Off soon just because she is a bit off-putting and intense. I think Jonathan maybe has a chance, and seemed like one of the nicer people there too. Otherwise, it's too hard to tell yet!

That's all for this week! Do you have any early predictions or hopes?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Supernatural 10x10 "The Hunter Games"

Well, my friends, winter break is officially over. Sad, I know. But that does mean Supernatural is back from hiatus. So what are the wacky Winchesters up to this week? Well, as you may recall from the last episode, Dean went a little nutso on Castiel's former meatsuit Jimmy's daughter Claire's adopted dad and some other dudes. Whoa, if you could follow that sentence, good for you. So, yeah, he basically killed a bunch of humans. A bunch of despicable humans, but humans nonetheless, which is an altogether big no-no for the hunters of all things that go bump in the night.

SupernaturalSam and Castiel are naturally a bit appalled, though I should say Dean is also rather appalled too, and perhaps moreso than them. They need to figure out how to get rid of the Mark right quick, before Dean gives in more and more, etc. The only person they can think of that may know how to do that is Metatron, so Cas gets him on loan from Heaven to interrogate. But this is Metatron we're talking about, he's not going to be super forthcoming with the info unless it does something for him. He does give them one clue to start with, though, and that is they need the first blade. You know, the blade they had Crowley hide not too long ago, the one that makes Dean go even crazier with blood lust? Yeah, that blade.

Speaking of Crowley, he's been hanging out with his mum, who is doing all she can to appear to be contrite about her past actions, to get on his good side. But, as witches are wont to do, she's not being entirely honest. Instead, she spies on Crowley and overhears when the Winchesters tell him they need to the first blade back. She has one of Crowley's lackeys take it and then kills him, pretending that he was betraying Crowley. Crowley seems inclined to believe her, but hopefully he's not a complete doof.

Meanwhile, Cas is also a bit stricken about what has happened in Claire's life, and wants to help her. She is like oh hellz no and instead goes and hangs out with two imbeciles who are like hey girl, we can definitely beat up and possibly kill that dude who just murdered an entire group of huge men even though we're both scrawny idiots. So she calls up Dean, who Cas has already asked to try to make amends with her, and gets him to meet up. The two dummies try to jump him, but he defeats them rather easily. Claire thinks he's going to kill them, but he holds himself back. In the end, she has a little talk with Castiel and decides she's going to try to straighten up, but on her own. But hey, she might call him sometimes?

SupernaturalWhich is good, because earlier he was losing it when he was interrogating Metatron about what he needs to do to get rid of the Mark after procuring the first blade all over again. Basically, Metatron wants a little give and take - he gives, he takes. It's not clear what he even wants for his information, but Dean is less than inclined to give in to his demands, and decides to rough him up a little. He goes so far as to start plunging an angel death blade into his throat when Sam and Cas come in to stop him. Metatron says something about the end being the beginning or some cryptic hooha like that, which may be a clue.

Sam is like well maybe it has something to do with Cain - you know, the one who gave you the Mark? The one who still has said Mark, and has been living with it for hundreds of years? Oh yeah, why didn't we think to try to ask him about it already? That I really cannot say, because duh.

Random Thoughts:

- The recap music is pretty great. Always love when they use their classic rock. And it was edited nicely to go with it too.

- Why would Claire ever think those two would be able to take on Dean after he killed all of those men? I mean, get a clue, girl. That is just stupid. I know you're a teenager, but that really pushed the boundaries of credulity.

- If I'm being totally honest, I was only half paying attention to most of this episode. Although it set up a few things, it was pretty much a filler.

- Not sure what Rowena's ultimate goal with Crowley is. Clearly she has some kind of motive going on, because it seems like she would be able to escape if she really wanted to.

Quotes:

Metatron: What, just like that, social hour is over?

Metatron: As I said, ain't life a bitch.

Rowena: Your mum was a prodigy.
Crowley: Funny, not what I called you.

Castiel: I like texting. Emoticons.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Toasted Marshmallow Squares


Well look where we are, in a brand new year. Okay, a little over a week old. I guess I was on something of a bit of hiatus from the blog, so here I am - back again with a new recipe for your tastebuds. Although if any of you got the new Joy the Baker cookbook over the holidays, you may have already seen this one in its pages.


I received a few cookbooks over Christmas, and am looking forward to sharing more of the recipes as I get around to making them. Aside from the new Joy the Baker book, I am looking forward to using Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, which has some pretty awesome ice cream recipes. And the boyfriend got me (or maybe us) a fancypants French pastry book called The Art of French Pastry, so perhaps you will be seeing some fancy pastries on here soon too.


But today I'm bringing you a take on the classic s'mores that you can make at home. I made s'mores bars before, and while they were decent, I have to say that I'm pretty sure these are better. The main reason? The shortbread bottom. Oh man that shortbread is SO. GOOD. Like, I may go bake some shortbread on its own rather than add all the bells and whistles good. For reals.


Toasted Marshmallow Squares

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
  • 15 large marshmallows, cut in half
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Beat together your butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides, then put in your vanilla and egg yolk and beat well. Add the flour and salt and beat on low speed until incorporated.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with a little flour and press it down with your fingers, trying to make it as even as possible.
  4. Bake until the crust is golden brown around the edges, but still slightly soft in the center, 20-24 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the crust cool in the pan for 20 minutes, leaving the oven on.
  5. Use the parchment paper to carefully remove the crust. Run a knife between the crust and the paper and carefully slide the crust onto a baking sheet.
  6. Top the crust with a thin layer of Nutella and arrange the marshmallow halves on top. Stick the pan in the oven and bake about 4 minutes until the marshmallows are warm and soft. Remove from the pan and turn on the broiler. Using the back of a spoon, press down and smash the marshmallows.
  7. Broil the marshmallows, but keep a close eye as they will brown quickly. My broiler was a bit uneven so I rotated the pan to get a more even toasting. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Good warm or at room temperature!
Recipe thanks to Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence Cookbook


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2014

Back in 2012, I read 58 books over the course of the year. This year is just sad in comparison, as I am currently only at 18 books. Life has become much busier over the last couple of years, and my reading has taken a hit as a consequence. But that doesn't mean I can't feature some of my favorite books of those 18 that I've read this past year!

I have a kindle paperwhite now, which you would think would help with the reading, but lately the library decides to give me all of the books I've put on hold at once, so I don't have enough time to finish them all before they're due back again. So annoying! Suppose maybe that means I should just starting buying some or something, but I've always been a bigger fan of the library than outright buying novels unless I already know I love them and will want to read them again and again. And let's be honest, those books I would buy hard copies of anyway.

Okay, now that I've rambled on a bit, let's get to my favorites of the year!

otherbound-cover 
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Synopsis: Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected. She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes. Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious. All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection.

Why it made the list: The premise of this book seems super out there, right? But somehow it works so well. Nolan and Amara are both interesting characters, and come from very different worlds. It's actually a lot of fun to see two such different worlds collide in such an unexpected way here.

cinderscarlet
Cinder and Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #1 and #2) by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis of Cinder: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.  Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Synopsis of Scarlet: Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Why they made the list: This is another series with an interesting premise, though I admit I was reluctant to read it at first. A cyborg Cinderella? Sounded too weird. But I think the problem was I thought she was going to be completely robot or something, which is not the case. Cinder does follow some of the Cinderella story conventions, but also veers off onto its own course. Scarlet is less about Red Riding Hood and more about the world Meyer has built, but it is fun to see these characters loosely based on fairy tale classics.

graceling
Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore

Synopsis: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po's friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

Why it made the list: This is one of those fantasy epics, though not so epically long that you get worn out or anything. It has a love story and some royal intrigue, along with the whole powers thing. I haven't read any of the other two books in this series yet, but hopefully they are just as good.


Ruin and Rising (Grisha Series #3) by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Why it made the list: To be fair, I've enjoyed the entire trilogy, so it's not really a surprise that the third and final book made me list this year since the other two have made it in the past. This one took a little bit longer for me to get into, as the beginning was a bit slow. But once things started picking up, it moved at a quick pace and keeps you guessing at how it's going to end. A fitting end to the Grisha trilogy.

thesecretplace
The Secret Place by Tana French

Synopsis: The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

Why it made the list: Honestly, I have enjoyed all of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels, and while I'm not sure this one is my favorite or anything, it's still well-done. The novel goes back and forth between the perspective of the detective and the girls, taking place both during one day and in the past, leading up to that day. Although there are certain aspects of it I'm not a huge fan of, overall the mystery is solid.

I still haven't had a chance to read The Young Elites by Marie Lu yet, but that is a top to-read on my list. I'm also intrigued by All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrell. Honestly, my to-read list is quite long right now (you can view it over on Goodreads if you're curious), but if you have any recommendations for anything I should check out (or anything on my list that I should put at the top), please do let me know! I'm always interested in hearing about good books. I tend to like YA novels, as you may have guessed, but am open to all sorts!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Round Up

 http://pulptastic.com/40-rare-historical-photographs-must-see/

 It's the last Friday before Christmas, people! How is it already the end of December?! Craziness. Do you have all of your shopping done, or are you waiting to do some last minute? I'm pretty sure I'm done. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything! Okay, now on to the rest...

I'm sure you've heard about the Sony hacking attack by now. It started back around Thanksgiving and has been ramping up into a fervor through this week when basically the hackers said they would attack any theaters who decided to show The Interview. After many theater chains pulled out of showing the movie, Sony itself decided to cancel the release. Now, the hackers are gloating about their victory and saying Sony is not allowed to release the movie in any format (and using terrible grammar to make this new demand). The FBI has also confirmed that North Korea is likely responsible for these attacks, which honestly once they threatened the theaters really became more of an act of terrorism than a cyber crime. The definition of terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims, and I think this attack clearly fits that moniker as it was all about intimidation. While I understand the aim to keep everyone safe by pulling the movie, I think this sets an incredibly dangerous precedent. Isn't it the US policy not to negotiate with terrorists? And now we've just handed these people a win. What will they, or anyone else, demand next? People are pulling their showings of Team America, a studio has pulled a Steve Carrell movie that had something to do with North Korea. Where does it end?

Okay, moving on. We all know Photoshop is used way too much on celebrities these days, making them look thinner or getting rid of any supposed "imperfections." But apparently this photo manipulation has been going on since before the advent of the modern computer! These pictures show before and after of a photo of Joan Crawford from 1931 that was retouched, but by using chemicals in a photography lab. And it took six hours rather than maybe 30 minutes or something. 

Speaking of old photos, how about some rare historic photos? Some of them are kind of sad, some are just cool, and some are plain interesting. One of my favorites is the picture of Sweden the day after they changed the side of the road they are supposed to drive on. Ha, I can't imagine the kind of chaos that would cause now. The picture I featured above is of some workers building the Golden Gate Bridge. Scary!

To end on a completely light note, have you ever wondered what your zodiac sign says about your dating habits? Then check out this article that goes over just that! Reading over the few of people I know, they all made me laugh as they all seemed pretty true. Of course, the zodiac stuff is just for fun, but it's just that - fun. I'm a Capricorn, if you're curious.

Okay, that's all for this week! Happy Holidays to all!