January 27, 2011

Monitor Babies and Coffee From a Quiet Distance: Levana LV-TW501 Safe N See Digital Video Baby Monitor with Talk-to-Baby Intercom and Lullaby Control (Electronics) review

Levana LV-TW501 Safe N See Digital Video Baby Monitor with Talk-to-Baby Intercom and Lullaby Control (Electronics)

Your baby, and your coffee-drinking guests, will enjoy your full attention, even when in another room.

I held a party of fellow artists. Four of a dozen guests all agreed coffee would be wonderful. Brewing as quickly as I could, I returned to attend to the bustling discussion comparing Cezanne and Van Gogh. Like any gathering of artists, movement defined even the stillest among them. Though my home, all felt comfortable serving themselves.

It took little to notice five mugs being used at the bar. Another glance confirmed two more mugs being carried off to the living room. That was seven mugs of coffee in all. My brewer only makes 12 cups. Each would want refills. It was good coffee (a roast from Honduras) and an understandable desire.

Setting up the Safe N'See Digital Video Baby Monitor with Talk-to-Baby Intercom and Lullaby Control, I found a solution. Rather than monitor a sleeping child (or, more importantly, the awake and upset child), I kept awatch on coffee quantity. When the carafe dropped to two cups, I readied more.

Levana LV-TW501 Safe N See Digital Video Baby Monitor with Talk-to-Baby Intercom and Lullaby ControlOther features became unexpectedly useful. The sun set, the lights were dim, and still, I could see clearly my brewer enough. One guest found his way to the adjacent wine rack, thinking to help himself to some choice port. The "Talk-to-Baby Intercom" allowed me, as the 'voice of conscience' let him know that bottle was off-limits. The lullabies were pleasant enough, but Billie Holiday was the soundtrack for our night. With perfect accuracy, it told me the temperature. Too warm for a baby at 73°F, but my guests, much older, found the air gentle, if not hot, closer to the fireplace.

--Brockeim

January 24, 2011

Plenty of Chocolate and Mint, Not Enough Oreo: Oreo Mint Fudge Cremes, 8.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4) by Oreo review

Oreo Mint Fudge Cremes, 8.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4) by Oreo

Cookies and coffee? Excellent.

Chocolate and coffee? Here can be found truth.

Chocolate covered cookies? That is where this indulgence begins.

Slice open a cookie. See the layers of cookie, with white mint thinly covering it, all covered and surrounded in chocolate.

Oreo Mint Fudge Cremes, 8.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4)As Oreos, I would not consider them. The relationship to Oreos is lost with the abundance of chocolate. While not a problem, the Oreo name is misleading. They are more like thick Thin Mints, those sold by the Girl Scouts.

Each cookie is 57 calories with a little iron, dietary fiber and potassium to help justify their kitchen presence. The label considers three (one seventh of the box) one serving, and I found this to be accurate to that last bite.

--Brockeim

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January 19, 2011

A Magnificent José Ferrer Makes This Cyrano a Classic: Cyrano de Bergerac

José Ferrer is Cyrano de Bergerac. That fact alone is enough to see this version. I say this with the confidence that, until this week, until watching the Hal Roach edition of the 1950 version, Gérard Depardieu owned the role.

In Depardieu's favor was his charm and average or even unattractive appearance. So likable, so gentile, yet not enough. Depardieu was terrific, but he was not as fierce and as bitter as Ferrer in the first part of the movie. Depardieu's obsessive rage was acted, not owned. Ferrer, to the contrary, for me, demonstrated the proper depth of bitterness, insecurity, arrogance, wit, and broken heartedness.

The story is simple: an ugly poet/master swordsman (Cyrano) loves a beautiful woman (Roxanne), but is too insecure to tell her. She in turn loves a pretty boy soldier (Christian) who, by his own admission, is void of wit. Christian does not realize Cyrano loves the same woman. Each man uses the other to successfully reach into the woman's heart. She overcomes her shallow view of beauty, but the ugly poet remains diffident and unwilling to risk his heart to her.

José Ferrer is more than the star here. Cyrano's love for Roxanne is truly the story, with no subplots woven in. He capably goes from bold leader to broken man and back again. This puts Ferrer's skill to the test, to engage the audience from scene to scene, emotion to emotion.

When he fights dozens of men to protect the baker, I believe it. Unlike many great swashbuckling movies, the choreograph is not fluid. It appears chaotic, like a street fight would be.

Cyrano de BergeracThis movie, Cyrano de Bergerac, is left open to criticism, like that so much was filmed on a stage. We see painted backdrops instead of a genuine wartime sky. Outside of a cane and slow steps, no one seemed older in the final garden scenes. The costuming is impressive, but, beyond that spectacular nose, the makeup is not. That could all be easily improved.

Mala Powers as Roxanne worked well enough, though vacuously. I saw her as shallow yet stunningly beautiful from beginning to end. A better actress may have been found as some scenes she played as more of a place keeper than love interest.

It is easy to feel for Christian, played by William Prince. Though he is lacking Cyrano's wit, his passion is real. He is brave and bright, but not when it comes to poetry. His sword is mightier than his pen, but he makes no pretense and asks Cyrano for help.

A few production value concerns do not hold back the movie, but they do exist. However, with the consuming power of Academy Award winning actor José Ferrer as the focal point, Cyrano de Bergerac receives top marks from me.

--Brockeim

Cyrano de Bergerac DVD

Cyrano De Bergerac - Trailer (1950)


Watch the entire movie free here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i9PGWIjjQI

January 15, 2011

Holds Two Cups of Coffee in Support of a Long Workday Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red Measurements

A Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup left on the counter of my company's kitchen took a Friday from agony to survival.

One Friday workday after sunset was only half done. Deadlines cannot be negotiated, and so my labor continued. Staring long at my unfeeling monitor, I knew it would offer no compassion to my aching body and tired soul. Hope seemed plundered as problem added to problem compiled exponentially through the day. My desk only supported misery. I made a dash for the break room.

Forgotten coffee remained in the office pot, heating now for three hours. Nearly full, I looked at it with compromised desire. Though not the coffee of my choice, I also saw I had no other option. No ordinary mug would do. My office was a long walk from the kitchen. I need something large.

Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red MeasurementsCan I measuring cup be a coffee mug? I needed only that it carry hot coffee. This cup accepted 1500 ml -- two cups of my favorite elixir. Where it lacked in style, it made up for in efficient functionality. My remaining hours of work were not less long, but they were endured.

May your difficult days be offset by sufficient coffee to get you through the night.

--Brockeim

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January 05, 2011

Babette's Feast - About Grace, Glory and Goodness (review)

Some might say Babette's Feast symbolically begins when Babette plans to make a meal only princes have enjoyed before.

The story, and its subsequent message of grace and glory, truly begins when Babette is received by two middle-aged women with nothing to offer but their home. Babette has nothing to give that they want, and so the relationship grows from this tiny movement of mutual grace.

Babette, an acclaimed chef, needs to hide for political reasons. She is introduced to sisters Martine and Filippa by way of a letter from a mutual friend. As they hire her with no promise of payment, Babette offers to cook for the sisters who know nothing of Babette's reputation in the kitchen. More than a Stone Soup (Aladdin Picture Books) chicanerist, she has the ability to do much with little. Humbly, she lets the sisters teach her to make potato soup. Esculent in every way a potato soup could be, the meal convinces the sisters they have made the right move.

Out of Africa: 25th Anniversary (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)Based on a story by Isak Dinesen (author of Out of Africa) found in her collection, Anecdotes of Destiny, it is not a story about the clich d sensual delights of food, as found in lesser films such as "Chocolat." It is about the grace of being humble, of serving, and of enjoying both the simple and grand things of God. Whether making potato soup or quail in vol-au-vents, Babette always is thankful and diligent to do her best.

Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series)When Babette wins the lottery, she decides to make a meal as thanks to the town. She orders delicacies unheard of, and asks the community to help prepare the feast. Skepticism dies down as her neighbors sample morsels, and a new life comes to the village. This is where the comparisons to Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series) begin and end, as Babette's only desire is to lift the spirits of the town she has been so much blessed by.

The long table of near-gluttonous dining is memorable. It far exceeds any American Thanksgiving dinner cornucopia overflow, yet is as thankful. So much of the movie culminates then, and the movie satisfies the deepest hunger for a tasty conclusion.

Finding a layer by which to appreciate "Babette's Feast" is just a matter of watching. For Christians, you will find a subtext of understanding simplicity vs displaying gifts from God. For foodies, you will watch a dream meal presented as Julia Child herself never imagined. For cinematography buffs, you will see a French village shot in intimate detail, so as if you could smell the door frame wood after the rain.

Attend to your senses and sensibilities and order up a copy of Babette's Feast.