Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adventures with Alex

When I heard that the cast of my favorite show, Parks and Recreation, was going to be shooting on location in DC, I immediately knew that I had to stalk them. I decided to go down to the National Mall on my day off of work, and my wonderful friend—and fellow Parks enthusiast—Alex Kreger volunteered to join me. After a quick internet search, I found this link: It listed the shooting locations and times for the show, and since so many of them surrounded the National Mall, we figured we were golden.

We got to the Mall around noon, and as soon as we got out of the Metro station, we were surrounded by tents, trucks, equipment, and important-looking people with walkie-talkies. We thought we had struck gold, especially when we saw the trailers and the golf carts that we knew were for carrying movie stars across studio lots. We found someone with one of those exclusive walkie-talkies and asked them if there was an event going on today, to which he replied “no.” That sealed the deal for us—of course they wouldn’t want onlookers around during the shoot, so that “no” was actually a resounding “yes.” We snuck over to the nearest shady spot (I forgot to mention how beastly hot it was that day—at this point, we had probably already sweated out our body weight), sat down, and waited for the magic to happen. Two hours later, nothing changed. It didn’t stop us, however, from getting really excited any time someone talked on their walkie-talkie, or went over to the trailers, or got into a golf cart. 

At this point, we were hungry and disgusting (and I had to pee), and since Alex swore that the Museum of the American Indian had the best food on the Mall, we decided to hike over. Maybe Amy Poehler also knew that the museum had the best food, and would also be grabbing a quick bite there. On our way, however, we were distracted by the carousel that is stationed in the middle of the Mall. One glance at Alex told me that she also wanted to ride it, so we bought our tickets from the lady laughing at us through the ticket window and hopped on the carousel. I chose a stately golden horse; Alex stuck with a classic black one. We had a blast, waving at bemused passersby and practicing what we deemed “horse ballet” (which is basically moving your arms into various ballet postures while riding a horse). After the ride, we started off once again for the museum, only to be distracted by a frozen yogurt food truck! Figuring that you only live once, we grabbed some on our way to eat lunch.

We finally got to the (air-conditioned!!) museum, and made our way to the cafeteria which had, as Alex promised, a delicious selection of food (but no Amy Poehler). We finished quickly and headed back out, determined to go back to stalking (after stopping at a concession stand outside the museum to get lemonade, of course)…

But when we passed the Natural History Museum, we saw a giant banner advertising the Titanoboa, a forty-eight feet long, 2500 pound snake! We decided to head in and quickly check it out. It was insane! There was a full-scale model, which I was only too happy to get a picture with (I felt like I was right next to a basilisk!!), and a bunch of movies about the discovery and history of the Titanoboa. Who knew knowledge could be so awesome?

Then, because I had mentioned to Alex that throughout my childhood, whenever my mom brought my sister and I to DC to soak up some culture, we always ended up back at our favorite exhibit—the Gems and Minerals--we decided to take a quick stop in there. Thirty minutes later, we emerged, me with at least 25 new pictures of the same stuff that I already have about 100 sets of pictures of.

Our next stop was not, despite our best intentions, that tree that we had initially set out for, but the Imax movie theater, which was showing a film called “Flying Monsters 3D.” It was about these prehistoric animals called pterosaurs, which were basically flying reptiles. They have hands with four regular fingers, and the fifth extended into a giant wing that folded up when they walked around. Crazy, right? I’ve included pictures because my description is certainly not doing them justice.

But the movie was hardly the best part. While we were in line for tickets, we noticed a box sitting on the counter with the words “free posters” on it. As college students, Alex and I do love free things, so we starting rifling through the box of posters and found two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One movie posters! It was by far the highlight of the day. Yes, Meredith—the poster will be hanging in our apartment in the fall. You cannot overrule this.
After the poster high and the movie, it was time for me to go (Alex was staying to meet up with friends). We glanced around at all the chaos on the National Mall once more, and we couldn’t figure out why Amy had never shown up! We saw a man with one of those all-important walkie-talkies, and decided to ask again what was going on. He told us that they were not, in fact, setting up for Amy’s arrival but for an AIDS memorial concert that was taking place the next day. Oops…

Poster in tow, I got back on the Metro, sad that I hadn’t seen Amy Poehler but knowing that I probably didn’t make the best stalker, and that I really shouldn’t be considering it as a career. Either way, we had a fun day—and we certainly didn’t walk away empty-handed!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Emmys!

In honor of the Emmy nominations tomorrow, I have complied a list of my 2012 Dream Emmy Winners. It may not be too realistic, but one can hope, right?

Best Actress in a Comedy: Does anyone remember The New Adventures of Old Christine? It was a truly terrible show with one saving grace—Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who turn as the title character was absolutely hysterical (and Emmy-award winning). At first, it seemed like Parks and Rec would be another Old Christine, with Amy Poehler’s wonderful portrayal of Leslie Knope being the only thing that made the show worth watching. However, four seasons later, the show has evolved into a must-see worthy of an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy (if it
weren’t for Cougar Town, that is—but we’ll get to that later). But one thing about the show that hasn’t changed in the past four years is Poehler’s performance, which is just as heart-warmingly hilarious as it was in the show’s first episodes, and entirely Emmy-worthy.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: I may be a bit biased in giving Sher this award, as I find Sue Heck to be the greatest character currently on television, but one look at Sher’s portrayal of Sue would convince anyone of her need for an Emmy. In another actress’s hands, Sue could become an annoyance, but Sher plays her with such compassion that Sue is a lovable character, and a symbol of relentless optimism. Sher is a textbook example of what it means to always give 110%, making Sue a scene-stealer even when she doesn’t have any lines. Sher once said that she found the inspiration to always give it her all when a producer told her that “the opposite of pretty is funny,” and taking that advice to heart, Sher has joined the ranks of other all-or-nothing comediennes like Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig. Even her co-star, Emmy-award winning Patricia Heaton, has said that she believes that Sher will be the first one from The Middle to be nominated, but I say let’s take it one step further and just give her the Emmy.

Best Actor in a Comedy: If this were a dream world, the winner of the Best Comedy Actor would be Steve Carell for his portrayal of the now-iconic character Michael Scott. But since there is no justice in this world, and it seems that Carell will never get the Emmy he much deserves, I believe that Jim Parsons deserves it this year. Parsons simply embodies the character of Sheldon Cooper without having to try, bringing something special to every line the character utters. Parsons takes someone who could become a caricature and turns him into someone believable and endearing. But let’s be real--this alone could win Parsons the Emmy:

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: When Burrell won the Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy last year, I’m not sure that he knew what he was in for. This season, the writers of Modern Family have put Burrell to work, shining a spotlight on the actor’s great talent and range. Burrell has consistently been the MVP of each episode this season, and it is easy to pick out multiple Emmy-worthy moments throughout the season.

Best Comedy: Do not judge a book by its cover (or in this case, its title). This Bill Lawrence comedy, beloved by critics and fans alike, is a ratings disaster due in part to its terrible name. But despite its name, Cougar Town is simply comedy gold, expertly blending the funny and the heartfelt into one perfect half-hour. It’s goofy without being ridiculous; it’s witty without losing its heart; and most importantly, it’s clear how much the cast and crew love the show. Because ABC has done much less than the show deserves in terms of promotion, Bill Lawrence and the cast have taken “guerilla marketing” to a whole new level, doing things like setting up (and attending) screenings of the show for fans across the country. The show is perfectly cast, and each of the characters are completely lovable and hilarious in their own unique way. The show could really use a win to raise awareness about the show (not that it worked for Arrested Development, but one can dream), because the fact is more people should be watching Cougar Town.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Fans of the highly acclaimed first two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy would find the show unrecognizable now as it heads into its ninth (!!) season, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although the show has had its fair share of growing pains, it has evolved—much like its characters—into a more mature version of itself. However, despite the strength of the show and its actors, both have failed to get the Emmy recognition they deserve. Particularly unforgivable is the lack of recognition for Sandra Oh, whose portrayal of Cristina Yang for the past eight years has been absolutely perfect. Oh kept her characterization of Cristina grounded even when the show went off the rails, and has given one of Grey’s steadiest performances. Her depiction this season of the fall of her marriage to Owen Hunt was expertly done, and certainly Emmy-worthy.

Best Actress in a Drama: For me, choosing the winner of the Best Drama Actress is a no-brainer. Julianna Margulies has brilliantly played Alicia Florrick since the show’s pilot, and this season has been no exception, especially considering the incredible transformation that her character has made in the past 22 episodes. We watched Alicia come into her own as she started a fiery new relationship with Will, only to end up eventually, heartbreakingly, back by Peter’s side in the season finale. Margulies has expertly handled the roller coaster that has been Alicia Florrick this season, and since her performance has only gotten stronger and deeper since her Emmy win last year, she certainly deserves it again.

Best Actor in a Drama: I, admittedly, am not a Mad Men fan, but I do think that the actors do a brilliant job, and no one more so than Jon Hamm. The show is, after all, the deconstruction of the character of Donald Draper, which depends on Hamm’s performance. Hamm has been nominated every year since the show’s first season, and it is high time that he wins the award. Hamm has been particularly strong this season, as Don’s marriage to Megan Calvet has forced him to play an entirely different side of Don Draper, a person that the audience believed that they knew well. Hamm has been able to convincingly portray this new side of Draper without losing the character that he has created in the past four seasons—and he does so while looking so good.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: If this were a different year, and the Supporting Actress in a Drama category didn’t have so many amazing contenders, I might be pushing for Lauren Graham to win for her portrayal of Sarah Braverman on Parenthood (or, if I’m being honest, maybe I just want to give her something to make up for her never being nominated for her work as Lorelai Gilmore). But since it is, in fact, this year, I’ll turn my attention instead to Peter Krause, Graham’s on-screen brother (and, incidentally, her off-screen boyfriend). Krause deserves the Emmy for his work as Adam Braverman, who has been fighting to keep his family together this season in the beautiful, heart-wrenching way that the show has become known for. The show’s looser, “realer” style means that it relies heavily on its actors abilities to bring their characters to life, and as the eldest sibling
with the most responsibility, this is especially true with Krause. I will say that I hope that Krause’s Emmy would be the first of many for this underrated show.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Request Granted

I have always been more than wiling to fill any request for baked goods (or food of any kind really).

Yet, since I've started telling people that I'm working in a restaurant kitchen this summer, the requests have definitely increased. Not that I mind. I work Wednesday through Sunday and I spend both Monday and Tuesday cooking and baking.

Tuesday I made sourdough biscuits, banana bread, and risotto.

On Monday, I worked on a request from I good friend from the barn I ride at. Her eyes lit up when I described my job and immediately sputtered out a request for something chocolate-y. Chocolate cupcakes in fact.

I wanted to do something more than a chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting, so I thought about making a filling. I decided on peanut butter. Safe enough not to confuse non-foodies, and delicious enough to still be exciting.

I used this recipe for the cake and threw together a sweet peanut butter filling and chocolate buttercream. Then I topped them with honey-roasted peanuts.

The cake worked out great because it wasn't super sweet. So, the sugary peanut butter and buttercream weren't overpowering.

They were a hit! I don't have a picture of people eating the cupcakes at the barn, but I have pictures of ponies! (Which I think is even better.)


Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

No, my best friend's name is not actually Jimmy. But that's what I call her. It's a long story.

In fact, her name is Amanda, and her birthday was on June 12th. We celebrated her birthday on July 2nd.

I was going to take her to Grounds for Sculpture, but Monday morning--while looking at the opening and closing times for the restaurant there--I discovered that Grounds for Sculpture is not open on Mondays. Oops. No worries though, Amanda is go-with-the-flow and is used to her idiot friend making mistakes like this.

We went to Longwood Gardens instead.

We looked at flowers instead of sculptures.

It was pretty.

Then we went to eat at the cafe. It was closed.

Then we went to eat at Terrain, which is on the way home. It was closed.

Then we went to Philly and got pizza. All was well.

Then I made waffles and smothered them in ice cream.

I think I made up for my mistakes :)

Happy Birthday Jimmy!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Belated Happy July!

Unfortunately, I had to delay this post because poor Sam is stuck without any power in her house and had trouble sending me the kitties. I hope that she is at least taking advantage of this time by telling lots of ghost stories.

Those yoga cats are showing off again (though the baby is scaring me a little-it seems as though his head might snap off).

And this month I get to stare at Zooey Deschanel constantly. This might become a problem. I've already noticed an increased interest in looking at the date...