Sunday, December 30, 2012

Video Games & Adult Men

From Houston  News Radio KTRH story about Adults Taking Off Work to Play Call of Duty.
The past two days I have done post on my concerns regarding video games and young children and teenage boys.

I'm sure that this post has the potential to offend some adult video game players. So read the post, and present your comments on why you disagree or "what I'm missing."

But when it comes to adult men who play video games, some of the same points from other post carry over. Like kids who play video games with violence, I question for adults whether, although permissable is it beneficial to be subjected to first-person shooter style violence (under any circumstances, even if you are killing zombies). And like teenage boys playing video games I question the social consequences of hindered relationship development (and sustainability) caused by the massive quantity of time these games consume.

But my concerns with adults extend beyond violence and isolation. My concern with video games and adult men is that the interest in playing these video games is a substitution for other unmet desires.

Video games are not just about relaxing or "mindless escape" like watching a TV show or a movie. It seems to me that instead, there's a sense when playing these games of a sense of accomplishment. And yet, the irony is that for all the accomplishment that is experienced in a game (beating the game, getting to a new level, unlocking a new weapon or character, etc), is not really true accomplishment at all.

A video game player might be able to admit this, but the question is why does this male feel the need to get a false rush of accomplishment?

And maybe this is where there is some opportunity for the conversation to meet in the middle. This topic in itself might open up the opportunity to discuss how families (spouses, parents, etc) honor and don't honor men for their time and contribution to families. It might be a statement of how the workforce treats people (men and woman) who have long aspired to professional accomplishments but instead feel like small cogs instead of valued contributors.

But beyond family and work, it also might be about the calibration of men's dreams to be something greater than the feeling of accomplishment, by finding ways to actually accomplish. I'm not talking about ending poverty in Africa, but instead wondering what can make an adult video-game playing man transition from taking a day off work to play a video game (after waiting in line at midnight to buy it) and staying up late night after night, to doing something productive and meaningful.

I use meaningful here in a broad sense. Meaningful anything that involves hanging out with people and friends, moving (any type of exercise or recreation), expanding your mind in some way (reading, studying, cultural pursuits), a hobby with true end accomplishment (baking, woodwork, art), or even resting (however; physically, spiritually, emotionally).

In hierarchy of time well spent almost everything seems to come ahead of video games in my book, and I am truly fascinated by the amount of time some adult men playing video games. This is something that is new to this generation. I can't picture my father or grandfather's generation doing this, and I can't justify or excuse this phenomenon.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Video Games & Teenage Boys

Image from Parentdish
Yesterday I did a post on young children and video games, particularly violent first person shooter games.

In my post I question whether these graphic games are appropriate for anyone, and wanted to further explore the topic by discussing how apart from the valid or invalid connections that could be made about violence in video games, discuss some of my greater concern with video games as it relates to teenage boys.

I have no complaints about teens doing recreational activities. It seems that, appropriately so, in every generation the way teens "waste time" looks different. But there is something about modern video games and teenage boys that disturbs me.

The evolution of video games has certainly changed, to what degree probably depends on who you talk to and what factor you evaluating. To me the biggest change in video games over the years has been an increasing level of "adaptability" to games that keep them engaging for a longer period of time. From Pac-Man, to Donkey Kong to Super Mario Brothers, the games got more complex. Some of this by virtue of system memory, but also by a market that demanded a game that took longer than an hour or two to beat.

Many of the popular games from recent years such as sports games (NBA Jam), Fighting Games (Street Fighter or Mortal Combat), or race games (Mario Kart) were designed to be enjoyed in one sitting, often played as a multi-player game with the other person in the same room. Single-player games were often viewed as less fun, because they lacked the potential for playing with a friend.

Times have changed, it's no longer the option of playing versus a friend or a computer. Technology allows people to play games with others remotely, or single player games are designed to be played in the wee-hours of the night for hours on your own.

Unlike the premiere of big summer blockbuster, game releases of certain games (Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Assassins Creed, etc.) seem to take certain teenagers off the grid for a couple weeks, as opposed to just the evening or weekend of a premiere.

I understand the enjoyment that can come from something of this nature, I'm not opposed to games (single player or multiplayer) in itself, but I think what makes me nervous is the way that these hyper-involved games create little lasting good, and yet demand so much time.

I see how these games could have minimal individual impact, but I can also see how these games could have last individual impact. Whether it's health effects due to lack of physical activity or sleep, academic impact due to lack of attention to school, or social impact due to the lack of normal human interaction.

Of all of those, it's the social impact that concerns me. Anecdotal, it seems that teenage boys who obsess about playing video games are far less socially adjusted. It seems that they lack the ability to interact in a positive way with those in and outside their peer groups.

It seems that because these games offer a sense of interaction (more so, than say, watching TV) it creates a false sense of expense of social energy, and so some how social needs are fulfilled when a teen sits down to hours of video game play, when in reality they are not developing socially in their ability to interact with others, handle conflict, and develop meaning relationships.

I have never been a parent of a teenage boy before, so I'm not sure how I will one day handle these situations. It seems like a unique challenge in our current world to know how to help boys transition to young adults, and it seems that the topic of video games might seem like a battle not worth fighting, or a place where it's hard to know when and how to draw the line.

All the same, I think that it's a meaningful conversation worth having, and one that I know my wife and I have already begun discussing with two toddler boys. Raising video game obsessed boys is not something we want, and so this is a conversation we have talk about.

I wonder how these games will continue to evolve, and whether these games will continue to become more complex, time consuming, and involved. Imagining this is the case (and at the change of sounding like old grouchy hen) I have concerns for the impact of video games on teenage boys, and feel like more conversations about these games should be had around the dinner table, as parents and teens walk into this changing and continually developing entertainment landscape.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Video Games & Young Kids

Scene from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 from VideoGamer.
I find myself with a negative perspective towards video games and their influence on young children, adolescence and adults who play them regularly.

One of the thing that shocks me is the way that some adults are very nonchalant about their kid's video games, particularly when it comes to the very popular games in the first person shooter category.

I'm not sure what the correct age is for these types of games (if there is one at all), but tonight my four year  old daughter had an encounter with an elementary kid who recently had been playing Call of Duty 2: Black Ops 2. The conversation went something like this "I wish we were playing a video game," he said. "I know a game we can play," my daughter responded, suggesting a silly thing to play. His response was "I have a game where I get to assassinate people with a sniper riffle." She disregarded and proceeded to tell him her idea for a game.

It is pretty clear to me that topics of gun control are going continue for at least the next couple months in the wake of the the New Haven, Connecticut elementary school shooting.

Conversations of gun control were a low level political topic in this past electoral cycle largely because it seemed neither democratic or republican parties had much to gain from the topic, other than the base of each party wanting to make sure that their candidates towed the party line, specifically this seemed true for the republican party candidates in the early primary cycles at the local and national level.

I realize that the blame for mass shootings is a combination of many things, largely unmeasurable and the partial impact of entertainment is probably lower than say mental health issues. All the same, I question what impact games with strong violent elements have on the way people perceive and interact with others in society, even if they are not going to participate in violent acts themselves.

I understand that video games have content rating systems, in which a game like Call of Duty is rated "M" for Mature (recommended for 17 and older). Yet, this puts the responsibility on the parent, and it seems to me, whether it's talking with co-workers, friends, or students who live in our town that these big games, like Call of Duty or Assassins Creed, for example, quickly enter people's homes. Parents are either accepting of these games, feel like they have no control over their child's entertainment choices, or are oblivious to the content of the games they are playing.

I hate to complain without suggesting a real solution, other than parental involvement. But, I think that the conversation about violent video games is one that should not just be limited to the discussion of "will playing this game make you a mass murderer" and instead question not "when is it appropriate for my child to play these games" but "if it is appropriate at all."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Curious Adventures with Curious George: 1941 Book and 21st Century

For a year-or-so I often refer to my 22 month year old son as our "quiet handful" (this inspired his 1 year birthday party being Charlie Chaplin themed).

So, it's not surprising that our curious little guy has found himself fascinated with Curious George. It started with enjoying the PBS kids Curious George, but really increased when he saw the 2006 Curious George movie (directed by Matthew O'Callaghan).

Soon the original 1941 Curious George book, written and illustrated by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey, found itself in our kids bedroom.

The original story, like the movie, is in essence "an origin story" of a character who has been recreated in many settings by many authors and adapters over time.

And where the film plays off certain images from the book (i.e. Curious George hiding under the Man With The Yellow Hat's hat, or floating on balloons), contextual the story is changed, and for logical cultural reasons.

And in many ways, if I was thinking up ideas for a primary education thesis (or another related field), I might consider researching how characterizations of Curious George have changed with the way parents view and raise their children.

But in summary, reading the original story means:

1. That instead of Curious George being a stowaway on the boat continuing a game of peek-a-boo with The Man with the Yellow Hat (2006) he is captured (The Man with the Yellow Hat put out his hat to draw him out), stuffed in a bag and captured to be taken to a zoo.
From Curious George

2. That he smokes a pipe.

From Curious George
3. That he goes to Prison for making a false call to the fire department (of course, he manages away to allude the law with an escape plan, only a monkey could accomplish...involving walking on telephone wires).
From Curious George
My four year old always asks every time we read it (because of course, they love it), "What is prison?" and I struggle to explain it...especially in the context of the story.

Not quite sure if this presentation here makes me want to rush it back to the library or embrace it as a children's classic.

Life of Pi & My Take on It's Message About God

Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi
Ang Lee's Life of Pi is a powerful film, and I personally am a fan of what Ang Lee has done with the source material of Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi. Originally in 2009 when the director options were being kicked around I discussed the complexity of this story and how the directorial selection would clearly impact the tone of the tale that is about a boy on a boat, with a tiger...and yet so, much more.

Ang Lee and David Magee did an exceptional job of keeping the book's central messages and themes, without "watering them down" (no pun intended).

*Spoiler Warning: Spoilers will follow in the remainder of this post*

The film opens up and closes with the premise that the story will be a story that will help you believe in God.

This presentation and premise is one that I think many will capture, or watch without catching at all.

Pi Patel has a pluralistic religious paradigm early on in the film, one where he has adopted beliefs from Hindu, Christianity, and Islam. I relate to his father Santosh Patel (Adil Hussain) who one night at dinner tells his son he must decide, and that in believing everything he believes nothing at all.

Attending a secular university with a religious heritage, I saw the University, like many places I'm sure, try to capture the best of all world's in all-inclusive religious discourse that didn't just accept different religious beliefs but tried to meld them, in a way that seemed ignorant in the midst of great contradiction. So, in the same way, I could relate to his father, who probably seems to many in this scene as a father failing to embrace his child's religious expressions. As a result his mother Gita (played by Tabu), seems more loving and compassionate.

Where I related to Santosh in this scene I also struggle with his conclusion. He seems to present two conclusions I personally disagree with (1) You choose for the sake of choosing (2) That reason is a better world view than his current religious selections.

I disagree with Santosh here because his first suggesting is devoid of choosing truth, and instead that the choice alone is valuable. I disagree with the perspective that a bad choice is worse than no choice. On his second point, I think his presentation, similar to those other might present (particularly in academia, as well as in many other circles) is that science and reason are the only truth, as opposed to be compatible and a part of God's design.

Yet, I don't critic Lee's film or Martel's story for this scene, because it's believable, real, and not unlike conversations I could imagine around some people's dinner tables. I appreciate the sensitive presentation.

Yet, in the final conclusion of the film, I find the final message and theme to be less sensitive. In the end the story of Pi Patel leaves viewers with two stories, the one with the Bengal tiger, and a less powerful story of a cook, a sailor, and his mother on the boat, and Pi Patel's own dark survivalist side coming out in the midst of some very traumatic events.

Pi (as an adult, Irrfan Khan) asks the writer (Rafe Spall) "So which story do you prefer?" and the writer responds back "The one with the tiger. That's the better story." Pi responds "Thank you. And so it goes with God."

This scene, message, and conclusion is more disturbing and offensive to me. It presents God, and religion for that matter, as something that is imaginary. Instead of choosing the reality (in this film, a story where his mother and two others die cruel deaths on a boat), a more mystical and comforting option is present. Yann Martel's story presents a message that we can make a rational choice to believe in a irrational God. A presentation that religion can be a conscious decision to undo reality, selecting the better story.

In the scenario presented here in the film and the choice with the two stories, I'll chose the one with the four shipwrecked victims over Pi and the four animals every time. I am interested in truth.

And yet, the film suggests value in choosing a lie for a better story.

This dichotomy is not one that I think is one that non-believing atheist struggle with, as much as those who believe in God (whether Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc) but have been exposed to a world hostile to this type of presentation. I see many people reconcile there beliefs and traditions much life Pi does in this film,  where they conclude that there is values in their religious beliefs and heritage  but they walk away from the table unable to reconcile their view of the world and their view of God.

The message I struggle with here, is that Yann Martel (and Ang Lee's telling) suggest that this is okay. The message is that you are permitted to conscious disillusionment. And I disagree.

I think people should strive to reconcile their world view and seek truth. Even now, in the season of Christmas, this film would suggest it is okay for you not to truly believe in all of the details of Jesus, but you are permitted to celebrate his birth and gleam excitement, values, and emotional experiences out of the story. But it is just that, a "better story" than an alternative. But I would hope that instead of celebrating a Jesus that they don't truly believe is true, that people would not as Santosh Patel suggests "just make a choice, an choose reason" (my paraphrase), that they would instead seek out truth, where God is a viable option on the table.

Which is the true story in Life of Pi? I think it's clear that it is one where a Buddhist sailor is used for food after he breaks his leg, the mother is stabbed by a cook and falls overboard, and a young boy kills the cook.

And as for God, Martel would suggest that choosing God is like choosing the story of the Tiger. But I believe God is more that a story. He is reality. Voiding in my mind, Martel's masterfully crafted message.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Golden Globes Nominate Their Favorites...Again.

As a follow up to my post on the dislike of the term "Snubs" one of the thing that strikes me about the Golden Globe nominees this year is how few new nominees were invited to the party this year.

I get only have so many invitations, invite the people you know you had a good time with in years past.

Is it fair? Does it really honor the best performances? Well those are silly question - it's the Golden Globes!

In the acting categories there are 30 nominees, only 3 are first time nominees. Here's how there newest nomination impacts their running count (in any category).

27th Golden Globe Nomination
Meryl Streep (8 wins)

11th Golden Globe Nomination
Helen Mirren (3 wins)
Sally Field (2 wins)
Maggie Smith (2 wins)

10th Golden Globe Nomination
Nicole Kidman (3 wins)
Judi Dench (2 wins)

9th Golden Globe Nomination
Leonardo DiCaprio (1 win)

8th Golden Globe Nomination
Helen Hunt (4 wins)

7th Golden Globe Nomination
Denzel Washington (2 wins)
Daniel Day-Lewis (1 win)

6th Golden Globe Nomination
Alan Arkin (1 win)

5th Golden Globe Nomination
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (1 win)

4th Golden Globe Nomination
Emily Blunt (1 win)
Richard Gere (1 win)
Tommy Lee Jones (1 win)
Bill Murray (1 win)
Amy Adams

3rd Golden Globe Nomination
Marion Cotillard (1 win)
Joaquin Phoenix (1 win)
Anne Hathaway

2nd Golden Globe Nomination
Christoph Waltz (1 win)
Rachel Weisz (1 win)
Jack Black
Jessica Chastain
Hugh Jackman
Jennifer Lawrence
Ewan McGregor

1st Golden Globe Nomination
Bradley Cooper
John Hawkes
Naomi Watts

Some quick observations/thoughts:

  • Of the 3 first time Golden Globe Nominees two of them (Hawkes and Watts) have been previous Oscar hardly new faces.
  • It looks like the Golden Globe post card based on this class is a ration of approximately 1 win per 5 nominations. 
  • Based on the 1 per 5 ratio, in this class of nominees it looks like Adams and Hathaway are both due for their free Golden Globe, and only 1 can win this year (both in Supporting Actress category). Who will it be? Sorry Helen, Sally &'re starting fresh punchcards this year.
  • I had to recount Meryl's a couple time just to make sure I was getting an accurate count.
  • Helen, Maggie & Judi should have a boxing match at the award ceremony for a special Dame Prize.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"SNUBS" and the 2012 Golden Globe Nominees

One of my least favorite award season words is Snub.

The term seems so negative, as if an award contender who doesn't get nominated was purposely excluded.

When in fact, there's only so many spots for each award category, tons of films, and everyone can't get nominated. And those who don't get nominated, in my opinion, are rarely "snubbed."

E!Online's Joal Ryan claimed Matthew McConaughey was snubbed (Bernie, Magic Mike). Joan Ryan also claimed The Dark Knight was snubbed as well.

The Daily Beast's Snub List included Tom Hopper (director, Les Miserables), Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch), Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock), The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, and Quevenzhane Wallis (Beast of the Southern Wild).

Jake Coyle's Huffington Post is titled "Golden Globes Snub and Surprises," but Coyle while listing excluded nominees (such as Javier Bardem for Skyfall or Robert DeNiro, Silver Lining Playbook) does not directly in his artical identify specific exclusions as "snubs" so I will cut Cole some slack and instead blame the Huffington Post editors for their title selection.

Snubs? Nah - I think instead this year offers some better performances and films to choose from then the past couple years, and some films or performances won't make the cut. I'm okay with that and I won't call anything a snub, because nothing is a sure least not this year.

Golden Globe Nominees
Picture & Film Acting Nominees

Best Picture (Drama)
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Picture (Musical/Comedy)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables
Moonrise Kingdom
Salmon Fishing On the Yemen
Silver Lining Playbook

Best Motion Picture Actor (Drama)
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Richard Gere, Arbitrage
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Joaquin Pheonix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Motion Picture Actress (Drama)
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical/Comedy)
Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Ewan McGregor, Salmon Fishing On the Yemen
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson

Best Motion Picture Actress (Musical/Comedy)
Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing On the Yemen
Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Maggie Smith, Quartet
Meryl Streep, Hope Springs

Best Supporting Actor Motion Picture
Alan Arkin, Argo
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Phillip Seymore Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress Motion Picture
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Best Director - Motion Picture
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Thursday, December 13, 2012

RC's Chocolate Hazelnut Spritz Cookies Recipe

 Every year I try to make a new Christmas cookie and this year, I created my own recipe that is so delightful I've already made it twice, and have a feeling that the third batch is coming soon. The recipe's already been passed a few times, so I thought I would share it here as well.

RC's Chocolate Hazelnut Spritz Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

1. Pre-heat over to 350° F

2. Cream butter, sugar, egg, hazelnut, and vanilla in a mixing bowl

3. Slowly mix in flour, cocoa, and salt until dry ingredients are wet (it will probably look sort of like sand)

4. Mix on high until it becomes well mixed (more of a thick play-dough consistency, dark brown)

5. Press through cookie press onto cool ungreased cookie sheet

6. Cook in preheated oven for six minutes

7. Once completely cooled drizzle with melted dark chocolate

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Rachel Weisz & Other Jennifer Lawrence Thunder Stealers

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
It seems like this year, all sorts of names get thrown around for an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but the consistent front-runner has seemed to be Jennifer Lawrence, for Silver Linings Playbook. As a previous nominee, a young rising star, in a quirky film with a respected crew the shoe has seemed to fit. Although, hesitantly...there's been room for someone to break through.

When the New York Film Critics circle announced it's winners this past week, most the winners seemed...well...not surprising. Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty best picture seemed safe choices. They veered into some unique territory in their runner's up, but generally it was not surprising, except to me the selection of Rachel Weisz for the British play adaptation The Deep Blue Sea.

Rachel Weisz, Deep Blue Sea
Jennifer Lawrence was the runner up (the New York Film Critics cited both Silver Linings Playbook and The Hunger Games). 

A little over a month ago, I did a post regarding the popularity of the male leads in this years Oscar race, while the female leads were in the shadows. Rachel Weisz is certainly a more popular name, of other potential contenders (more for The Mummy, or even her previous Oscar win in the supporting category for The Constant Gardner). Yet, certainly the film here is not a box office hero.

And so, it may seem though, that the critics, and maybe the Academy themselves is on the search for the the performance that can displace Jennifer Lawrence's front-runner status. 

While Rachel Weisz might not be the actress to do it, it seems that every critic award Lawrence doesn't win pushes her into the pack of "likely nominee, non-winner."

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
And if it were up to me to decide today, it seems that the current front-runner (especially looking at how this might play out in weeks ahead) is Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty. After busting onto the scene in a big way last year, Chastain certainly would love to follow up her supporting actress Oscar nomination from The Help with a lead nomination (and a win) in a film it would seem that award bodies will love this season.

Chastain did receive the National Board of Review best actress designation, and over Lawrence as well, when the NBR clearly liked Silver Linings Playbook (honoring Bradley Cooper as best actor and David O. Russell for best adapted screenplay).

It's hard to tell if Weisz is a viable contender for a best actress nomination this year (it would seem a few more critics awards would help keep her in the conversation), but regardless, it seems like there's some early apprehension in calling Jennifer Lawrence this year's best actress. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Academy Awards Fifteen 2012 Documentary Finalist

Below Is The Full List of the 15 Documentary Films Shortlisted for This Years Best Oscar Prize. As in years past, I will attempt to get my hands on as many of these before Oscar nominations are announced and share with you some thoughts on each of these films.

5 of 15 Films Below Will Be Oscar Nominees. One will be come a winner:

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Never Sorry LLC (dir Alison Klayman): A Film about activist Ai Weiwei and his conflict with Chinese government

 Bully, The Bully Project LLC (dir. Lee Hirsh): Expose on American school bullying.

Chasing Ice, Exposure (dir. Jeff Orlowski): Time lapse National Geographic photographers record of changing glaciers.

Detropia, Loki Films (dir. Hedi Ewing, Rachel Grady): From the directors of Jesus Camp, the story of Detroit and it's collapse.

Ethel, Moxie Firecracker Films (dir. Rory Kennedy): A portrait of Ethel Kennedy and her life after Robert F. Kennedy died, as presented by one of their 11 children, daughter Rory Elizabeth Katherine Kennedy.  

5 Broken Cameras, Guy DVD Films (dir. Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi): Palestinian villager gets a camera and begins filming the Israeli army in his town despite threats, raids, and arrest.

The Gatekeepers, Les Films du Poisson, Dror Moreh Productions, Cinephil (dir. Dror Moreh): Interviews with six elderly Israeli men who had Shin Bet, Israeli's security agency.

 The House I Live In, Charlotte Street Films, LLC (dir. Eugene Jarecki): Expose of American criminal justice system as it relates to United States drug policy.

How to Survive a Plague, How to Survive a Plague LLC (dir. David Fance): A historic look at how organizations responded to the AIDS epidemic to make AIDS a managable condition.

 The Imposter, Imposter Pictures Ltd. (dir. Bart Layton): The story of a young Frenchman who convinces a Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who went missing three years earlier.

The Invisible War, Chain Camera Pictures (dir. Kirby Dick): Expose on the rape of soldies in the US military. 

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Jigsaw Productions in association with Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films (dir. Alex Gibeny): A look at the topic of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, including the United States and Vatican response.

Searching for Sugar Man, Red Box Films  (dir. Malik Bendjelloul): Detroit folk singer Sixto Rodriguez did not realize his music of the early 1970s became popular in South Africa. This film tells the story of two South African's on their search to find their hero, Rodriguez.

This Is Not a Film, Wide Management (dir. Moijtaba Mirtahmasb, Jafar Panahi): Jafar Panahi was put under house arrest in Iran and banned for film making for depicting a day in life on film, the film was smuggled out of Iran on a USB drive hidden in a cake.

The Waiting Room, Open’hood, Inc. (dir. Peter Nicks): A story of an American public hospital dealing with caring for a largely uninsured population.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies: An Eleven Month Cookie (and 10 December Chocolate Chip Rules)

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies,
Hello December -- this is an official notice: Despite my love for chocolate chip cookies, they're officially off duty for the next 31 days

Chocolate chip cookies, despite their deliciousness are an eleven month cookie.

In the same way the easy listening radio stations says good bye to their regular Michael Bublé and Clay Aiken songs, they now are playing John Tesh's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Josh Groban and Faith Hill's "The First Noel."

In the same way, despite all the goodness of chocolate chip cookies these are off limit for December. There's too many other cookies (good and not so good) which have their one month chance in the spotlight. Whether it's frosted sugar cookies, chocolate dip pretzels, or gingerbread men.

So in case you're confused below are the rules for chocolate chips.

10 December Chocolate Chip Rules

  1. Chocolate Chips Cannot be Used in Chocolate Chip Cookies
  2. Chocolate Chips Can Be Melted and Drizzled
  3. Chocolate Chips Can Be Melted for "No Bake" Cookies (particularly if you live in the Midwest)
  4. Chocolate Chips Can Be Melted for Dipping Anything
  5. Chocolate Chips Cannot be Used in Chocolate Chip Cookies
  6. Chocolate Chips Can Be Used as Decorations (particularly buttons on snow men sugar cookies)
  7. Chocolate Chips Can Be Green & Red (but will actually just be chips, not chocolate)
  8. Chocolate Chips Can Be Melted for Dipping Anything
  9. Chocolate Chips Can Be Mixed With Other High Calorie Foods (such as condensed milk, coconut, and nuts)
  10. Chocolate Chips Cannot be Used in Chocolate Chip Cookies
P.S. If we do one of those Christmas cookie plate exchanges, I don't want to even see chocolate chip cookies.