Monday, December 31, 2012

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

 
I've been waiting all year to get to put this video on here, so here you go and enjoy! I absolutely love Zooey Deschanel, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn't hurt my eyes one bit. I wish you all a great New Year's Eve and a very happy New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Coup de Coeur" of the Week #16

 
This week's Coup de Coeur is the movie Pitch Perfect. I saw the first trailer five months ago and I knew I would love this movie! I watched it last night and since then, I've had all the songs stuck in my head. There is music, great actors (such as my favorites Brittany Snow, Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin), singing and hilariousness. It just came out in Belgium, so go see it!
 
Here are the trailer for the movie and an awesome video of Anna Kendrick doing the song "Cups", it's just perfection:
 
 
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

(500) Days of Summer

 
This is not a love story. This is a story about love.
 
I am usually a sucker for chick flicks and sad and girly Hollywood movies, but I enjoy watching independent films from time to time, such as Ruby Sparks a couple months ago which is such a cute movie (and if it is still playing where you live, seriously, go see it) and (500) Days of Summer. I've seen the latter about three or four times and I love it.

(500) Days of Summer is an American comedy/drama that came out in 2009. Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, it was directed by Marc Webb and produced by Mark Waters. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the main characters. The film received and was nominated for plenty of awards when it first came out.
 
The film does not follow a linear narrative structure, it follows the mind of the main protagonist, Tom Hansen, who remembers the 500 days he spent being in love with Summer Finn. From the very beginning, Summer tells him she does not want a serious relationship, but Tom still falls in love with her, being the hopeless romantic that he is.
 
First of all, I love this movie for the great music. It is definitely my favorite movie soundtrack of all time (except for musicals, of course). Check out the list of songs here. I like the fact that, this time, it is the girl that does not care about being in love and the boy tries to change her mind. The photography of the movie is also perfect. There are some of my favorite scenes of all times in this movie. One is the scene in the Ikea, the other is one of the most famous moments of the movie, when Tom sees Summer again after a while and goes to her appartment, the screen is divided in two parts: his expectations / reality. I think it is done so beautifully and it goes perfectly with the style of the movie.
 
Seriously, watch this movie. If it is not for the story or the actors (Zooey Deschanel is perfect), do it for the beauty of the movie. And I leave you with the trailer and my favorite moment of the movie, and a couple of pictures. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Coup de Coeur" of the Week #15

 
This man is a legend. I dare you to watch this video
and not smile from ear to ear, it's impossible. He is perfect.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chocolate and Almond Cake


Having to cook every night for my own survival, I had forgotten how much fun baking was. I am invited to eat brunch tomorrow with some Erasmus friends, so I decided to bring a chocolate cake. I looked around on the Internet for recipes and I ended up using a bit of every recipe and making my own. And on top of that, getting to bake with my roommate was just a lot of fun, especially with the cake baking in a very weird shape. Enjoy this very simple recipe!
 
Ingredients
200g of chocolate (dark, preferably)
125g of butter
125g of sugar
80g of flour
+/- 50g of powdered almonds
6 eggs
 
Preheat the oven at 180°C (thermostat 6; 350°F). Melt the chocolate with the butter. Add the sugar, then the powdered almonds and the flour. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing the dough between each egg. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Soneto de Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola

Si quiere Amor que siga sus antojos
y a sus hierros de nuevo rinda el cuello;
que por ídolo adore un rostro bello
y que vistan su templo mis despojos,
la flaca luz renueve de mis ojos,
restituya a mi frente su cabello,
a mis labios la rosa y primer vello,
que ya pendiente y yerto es dos manojos.
Y entonces, como sierpe renovada,
a la puerta de Filis inclemente
resistiré a la lluvia y a los vientos.
Mas si no ha de volver la edad pasada,
y todo con la edad es diferente,
¿por qué no lo han de ser mis pensamientos?

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Coup de Coeur" of the Week #14

 
This video is hilarious, and answers, quite convincingly,
a question we've all asked ourselves. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Maya Angelou's Inaugural Poem (1993)


A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages. 

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow. 

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance. 

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.  

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face. 

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side. 

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege. 

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come, 

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one. 

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing. 

The River sings and sings on. 

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock. 

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree. 

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River. 

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.  

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.  

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers –desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.  

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream. 

Here, root yourselves beside me.  

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.  

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours –your Passages have been paid.  

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you. 

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.  

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.  

Give birth again
To the dream. 

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands. 

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.  

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.  

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country. 

No less to Midas than the mendicant.  

No less to you now than the mastodon then. 

Here on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Idina Menzel

 
The first time I ever heard of Idina Menzel was when I was in Mississippi. We had gone to see Wicked in New York City, and we watched the dvd of RENT over and over again. When I came back, it seemed to me that everytime I liked a new musical (new for me), Idina Menzel was in it. She quickly became my favorite Broadway actress (I say Broadway, because I have favorite West End actors as well...).
 
Idina Menzel is an American actress and singer from New York City. She was born on May 30, 1971. She was first a wedding and bar-mitzvah singer and she graduated from the Tish School of the Arts (NYU). Her Broadway debut was in RENT in 1995, written by Jonathan Larson (see my other article on this wonderful musical here), she originated the role of Maureen Johnson, which she later played in the movie version of the play. She was nominated for the Tony of Best Featured Actress in a Musical for this role.
 
 
She then worked on some personal music and was in other musicals such as The Wild Party, Aida and Chess, but the one that stuck out the most was in 2003: Wicked, written  by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman. Idina originated the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, opposite Kristin Chenoweth, and she then  won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. She later reprised her role in the London production of Wicked in 2006.
 
 
Idina also appeared in movies such as Enchanted and tv shows such as Glee (playing Rachel's mom, Shelby Corcoran, and it was known long before she even came on Glee how much Idina and Lea Michele look alike).
 
She married the actor Taye Diggs on January 11, 2003 (one day after my birthday!). He is also an actor, they met during RENT, but you all might know him as Sam on Private Practice. They have a cute son together, named Walker Nathaniel Diggs who is 3 years old.
 
 
I wanted to share with you the amazingness that is Idina Menzel, so here are a bunch of videos of her singing. This woman is beautiful and has one of the best voices I have ever heard and, having gone to her concert last week, I know that she is really nice and hilarious. It was definitely not a bad evening, her voice is even better live and she kept making jokes and laughing, she is really great. I had the amazing opportunity of meeting her after her concert, I got a great hug and she told me "You're so pretty". I am still not over this. I met my idol and inspiration. If you want to see pictures of this: here and here, or my Facebook album for more pictures of the concert.
 
I hope you will all love her and her singing as much as I do. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Coup de Coeur" of the Week #13

 
Ever since I saw this video, it's been my coup de coeur of the week, of the month, of the year. Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel (both on How I Met Your Mother, that I have yet to start watching) singing "The Confrontation" part of Les Misérables, as Jean Valjean and Javert. This is pure hilariousness and perfection. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vacuflex: what in the world is that thing?

On Saturday, I went to the MACBA: Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona. The entire collection was really nice, but there is one thing that stood out for me: Vacuflex. But what in the world is that thing? Good question.
 
I entered the room "La Utopia es Possible", dedicated to what the ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) had done in Ibiza in the 1970s and it was full of very colorful pouffes where you could sit to watch a bunch of videos about the installations they did. I watched a part of the video about Instant City: a city created with bouncy castles material and it looked really fun. But then I turned to watch the video about Vacuflex and I was puzzled.
 
 
The website of the museum writes that Vacuflex was a mobile sculpture made from a green industrial plastic tube over 250 meters long. The interactive intervention consisted of carrying the tube to the different areas around the bay. The piece became a playful objet with which it was possible to sculpt different shapes spontaneously and write words in the sand or water. Art could then become a game. The artists were a group of hippies who wanted to connect art and architecture with artistic installations, concerts, philosophical debates, sociology and urban education.
 
This bunch of young artists were carrying that huge green tube on their shoulders in a line, passing over people's heads and next to tourists sunbathing on the beach in Ibiza. Their faces were priceless. Then they went in the sea with this long tube and made a sort of circle with it.
 
I just thought it was all so hilarious and weird that it was worth mentioning on this blog. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Edvard Munch

I've always had a weird connection with Edvard Munch. Munch, pronounced [ˈmʉŋk], was a Norwegian painter from the beginning of the 20th century. His type of art, Expressionism, is usually not my favorite (I usually love Romanticism, or prettier and "lighter" things). But it turns out that during my Senior Year of High School in Belgium, and during my year in Mississippi, I had to give a talk about him in class. I learned so much about his life that I thought I knew him like no one else. This man was tortured, and his art accounts for it and something beautiful comes out of it. Here are some of my favorite works of art from Edvard Munch.

There is, of course, The Scream (1893).
Evening on Karl Johan Street (1892)
The Separation (1894)
Lady from the Sea (1896)
The Dead Mother and Child (1899-1900)

Edvard had to watch his entire family die before his eyes while he stayed alive. This helps to understand the darkness of his art. He also painted The Sick Child, because his sister died when he was young.

And now, here are sweeter paintings from him.
 
Girls on Jetty (1901)
Spring Day on Karl Johan (1891)


Saturday, August 25, 2012

DIY Workout Shirt

 
I don't usually do a lot of DIY. In fact, it might be the first time I "do something myself" since I was a little kid and I built/created things to give to my parents on Mother's and Father's days. But when I stumbled upon (literally) this DIY, I thought it looked pretty cool and I wanted to do it since I have a bunch of oversized t-shirts that I wore in Mississippi, that I don't wear anymore since I lost all the weight I had gained there. Instead of having these shirts folded in my closet, I thought I might give them "a second life".
 
It is pretty easy to do and looks nice. It is supposed to be a workout shirt, but it could also be a simple tank top to wear when the weather is really nice (like these past few days in Belgium, what the heck happened?).
 
Check this nice DIY on this blog. (Yes, hers looks a lot better than mine, but she created it and hey, it's my first!)
 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Las Islas Gorgona, Colombia


Last month, I went to Colombia, South America, on vacation with my family. We visited different places and cities such as Cartagena de Indias on the Caribbean coast, el Parque Tayrona, Bogotá, el Eje Cafetero, Cali and an island in the Pacific Ocean. The nature of Colombia is breathtaking and well-worth seeing. There are so many different types of landscape that you feel like you have crossed some border although you are still on the very warm soil of Colombia. Also, the fact this country is 37 times the size of Belgium helps spreading the borders. 

My favorite part of the trip might have been the 4 days spent on the Island of Gorgona in the Pacific Ocean. Getting to the island is the hardest part: you have to fly to Cali, then to Guapi (one of the poorest towns of Colombia) and then take a boat and cross the Ocean for an hour and a half to finally reach the Island. 


But once you get there, you are glad you made the trip. After being carried out of the boat like a princess (whether you are a woman or a man, you ARE being carried out of the boat… ask my father), you receive the first of many fresh fruit juices you will get while your stay there. And then, you eat. We ate so much on this island, it was unbelievable. The food was amazing, always fish, plantains, fruits, vegetables and rice, with fresh fruit juices at every meal. I admit I was a bit scared of where we were going to end up, but the place was great.


Shape of the main island
Las Islas Gorgona are two islands: Gorgona, the main one in the shape of a whale, and Gorgonilla, a smaller one next to it.The main island was once a prison for Colombian murderers (like Alcatraz, near San Francisco. Or Azkaban, it depends on what your brain thought of first). The prison closed its doors in 1984 and the island became a National Natural Reservation Park, where only one private family has established a hotel, which is more like a bunch of little houses on the eastern side of the island. It is very, very quiet, and cute and comfortable. You can still visit the prison now, it was demolished, but not entirely, and nature has regained control over everything. It is amazing to see all these buildings surrendered to the jungle.

Old prison
The island was named “Isla Gorgona” in the honor of the Gorgons, three sisters of the Greek mythology who had hair made of snakes, because of all the snakes on the island. You are required to wear boots at all times (except when going from your room to the restaurant, where it is safer, but you still have to be careful) and you cannot go walk alone in the jungle without a guide. When you arrive on the island, there is a briefing where you are told all the dangerous things not to do and all the dangerous animals not to meet, but once you’ve been there a couple days, you are used to it and it doesn’t seem so dreadful.

Every morning, we went hiking in the jungle. The hikes are not that hard, but the heat and humidity of the place tires you faster. The nature is beautiful, and we get to meet so many tiny animals and types of plants that you are always looking at something beautiful (except if you just focus on not falling, and you just look at your feet, but that’s your choice).

My favorite animals on this island were the ‘basilisco’ (“basiliscus basiliscus”) which is nothing like the one from Harry Potter and is hilarious (if you are curious, check out this video: hilariousness, I tell you), and the ‘monos cariblancos’ which are the cutest little monkeys and they come next to you every day while you are reading comfortably in your hammock. Both these animals are very nice (except when they are mad), but we also met some not-so-nice ones.
Mono cariblanco
Basiliscus basiliscus

I did meet 3 snakes on one of our walks around the island: 2 corrals (with black and white and red and black lines) which are venomous and 1 casadora (green) which is not. Even if I was wearing my boots, I was not that comfortable around them. On the island, you can also meet the “talla X”, the biggest and most venomous snake of the island. Alcohol is prohibited on the island: if you are bitten by the talla X and you have alcohol in your blood, the vaccine will not work.  


If you go between May and October, you will have the chance to see whales passing by in the Ocean! We first saw one while eating lunch on the day we arrived, we could not believe it. Then we saw a bunch while on a tiny boat or eating lunch, and they were surprisingly close to the shore. I didn’t expect to see them coming so close.
Also, while snorkeling in the “aquarium” of the island (on the eastern side of the island, but north), we heard a whale sing. And believe me, it is one of the most disturbing things to hear (especially if you don’t know what it is) but one of the most beautiful. There is something completely surreal in the fact of swimming with beautiful fishes and hearing a whale’s song.


Colombia is such a diverse country with so many different things to see that it is definitely worth it. When you get the amazing chance of going to South America, don't hesitate, just go.

Also, lots of cute crabs.
Yes, you do feel small.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Chocolate & Nutella Cookies


Seriously, who doesn't love Nutella? I just spent an entire month without Nutella, and believe me, I was glad to come back home and spread some on a good slice of fresh bread. A couple months ago, I bought a cookbook entirely about Nutella, with 30 recipes going from simple 'tartines' to cakes and 'crèmes brûlées'. Today, for the first time, I did one of these recipes, and the result is not that bad.

          Ingredients
(for 12 cookies according to the book, 23 according to me)

250g of flour
1/2 pack of baking powder
125g of white sugar
125g of cane sugar
A wee bit of salt
100g of butter
50g of Nutella
1 egg
1 pack of vanilla-flavoured sugar
100g of chocolate chips
 
 
Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugars, and salt) and put it aside. Melt the butter and the Nutella, then pour them on the dry mix. Add the egg and mix well (not with a mixer, with your arm, yes, like old times). Add the chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon.
 
If possible, put the dough in the fridge for an hour. Just enough time to watch an episode of Bunheads or the Olympics.
 
Preheat the oven at 240°C (464°F). Put baking paper on your baking tray. Make balls of dough with your hands and place them on the baking tray. Press with your fingers to stretch and widen them. Do not put too many cookies and make them stick together; I did two batches, so that there would be enough space between them.
 
Let them cook for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on the heat in your oven, they might burn pretty quickly). Get them out of the oven and place your cookies on a shelf (like the one on the picture) and let them cool.
 
Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Coup de coeur" of the Week #12


I am not particularly a fan of Victoria Justice or Max Schneider, but I do really like Kurt Schneider and have been following what he does for the past two years. It's always really great and I really like his videos. So go check his Youtube channel! This video is really fun, I love how they did it all in one take. (If you don't believe me, go check the Behind the Scenes on Kurt's channel.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Poulao

Remember when I said I would post other Indian recipes? Here is the recipe of one of my favorite meals I ate all the way over there: poulao. It is made of rice and all kinds of spices. The recipe is in French, if you want me to translate it, feel free to ask.

Ingredients
3 cuillères à soupe d’huile
1 cuillère à café de graines de cumin
2 clous de girofle
2 petits bâtons de cannelle
3 feuilles de laurier
1 branche (+/- 10 feuilles) de kari
1 chou-fleur
1 cuillères à café de curcuma
3 cuillères à café de sel
2 bols (+/- 300gr) de riz basmati
4 bols d’eau
3 poivrons (verts) coupés en petits morceaux

Dans une casserole (cocotte-minute si possible). Huile, cumin, clous de girofle, cannelle, laurier, feuilles de kari. Ajouter le chou-fleur, le curcuma et le sel. Mélanger. Ajouter le riz lavé (pas cuit) et les bols d’eau. Mettre le couvercle de la cocotte (mais pas fermé, donc comme une casserole normale à la base). Après plus ou moins 10 minutes, ajouter les poivrons.
Temps de cuisson total : 20 minutes à feu moyen.
À la fin de la préparation, toute l’eau est censée s’être évaporée.  

Aussi possibilité d’ajouter d’autres ingrédients : petits pois, noix de cajou, raisins secs…


Picture from here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"The Penelopiad" by Margaret Atwood


As a Literature student, I have to read lots of books. This year's load of books was particularly heavy, given that I had to read five books for Spanish Literature, one for English Linguistics and four for English Literature in one semester. I read them all but one, I didn't have time to read a fourth 600 pages book and had to give up on that one (and of course, that is the one that came up at the exam, but that is another story). Anyway, even if that was a lot, I really enjoyed most of them. From Nobel Prizes such as the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the South African J.M.Coetzee, to Indian, Canadian and South American writers, I really got to read many interesting authors. That is the point of my studies, too. For my English Literature class, we had to pick one book to read on top of the others. Having read "Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood for the class (and really loving it!), I decided to pick another one by that same author.

The Penelopiad was written in 2005 by Margaret Atwood and is a rewriting of the story of Penelope, Odysseus' wife, from The Odyssey. Penelope tells her story, from her childhood in Sparta with a Naiad mother and an overly affective father (after having attempted to kill her as an infant) to her marriage with Odysseus and her life in Ithaca with him gone and an enormous number of suitors trying to court her. In The Odyssey, Odysseus comes back to Ithaca after his long journey back from the Trojan War and kills all of Penelope's suitors and hangs 12 maids. The reason of this hanging was never really explained in Homer's book, and it bothered Atwood. She thus decided to write what she thought had happened, from her own point of view.

I really enjoyed this book because I love Greek mythology. A modern rewriting of such an old tale was really interesting. Atwood's typical irony is a great part of the book, Penelope questions her portrayal by Homer at all times and wants to set the record straight: she is not the ideal loyal wife depicted in The Odyssey, she was just trying to survive. There are also some touches of feminism which gave the book a lot of its strength and made me like it even more.

It is short, it is interesting, it is captivating. You need to read The Penelopiad.