Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Little Taste of Heaven?

Whoever said "eat to live, don't live to eat" has obviously never been to Salt Lake City's Bruges Waffles and Frites. Yes, they pretty much only sell waffles and french fries but they are THE BEST waffles known to man. OK, maybe not compared to the liege waffles in Belgium, but trust me these are good.

The first time I went, I tried the vanilla liege waffle with belgian chocolate baked inside and topped with strawberries and creme fraiche. It was delicious but today I had the pleasure of enjoying my waffle with creme fraiche and peaches (no picture, I'm afraid) ... and I must say, it was perfection.

A little taste of heaven? Next time you're in Salt Lake, stop by Bruges and decide for yourself.

The fries are good too. You just can't go wrong.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: My Name Is Asher Lev

Recently I finished Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev. Although I have always loved to read, few books have moved me as much as this book did. In this rather straightforward tale of a Hasidic Jewish boy who chooses to be an artist against his father's wishes, I discovered a complex and thought-provoking analysis of the creation, purpose and value of art.

Of course other themes are at play in the novel as well, but a particular passage about the purpose of art struck me. After an encounter with his unsupportive father, Asher Lev, the novel's protagonist wonders, "What did I have to justify? I did not want to paint in order to justify anything; I wanted to paint the same way my father wanted to travel and work for the Rebbe. My father worked for the Torah. I worked for -- what? How could I explain it? For beauty? No. Many of the pictures I painted were not beautiful. For what, then? For a truth I did not know how to put into words. For a truth I could only bring to life by means of color and line and texture and form."

Although there is nothing wrong with painting, writing or singing (or expressing whatever artistic gift one may have) for beauty, I love Asher's moment of realization that he has to paint to express truth. Of course, this truth is subjective; our perceptions of truth differ from person to person. But I believe that it is when we tap into that truth as we see it when the art we create becomes authentic, valuable and meaningful.

When I closed the book, I was inspired to ask myself if I am expressing the truth as I see it when I create my own art.

The English major nerdy side of me also manifested itself as I read the novel. The irony wasn't lost on me that the truth that Asher can't express in his words is so eloquently expressed in Potok's words.

If you haven't ever read it, I highly recommend this masterpiece.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: The Tree of Life

Warning: This is a long post. Read at your own risk.

To be fair, I can’t actually give a very informed critique of the new Brad Pitt film, The Tree of Life because I only made it through 42 minutes of the movie. And that, in my opinion, was being generous.

But I can tell you this: I hated each of those 42 minutes. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. After all, when you go to a movie you usually give it a few minutes to see where it’s heading before you start making judgments. Especially if it’s not your typical movie that introduces a character or two and presents a situation right from the get-go (Tree of Life doesn’t really do either of these things).

So I think I probably gave it 5-10 minutes before I decided it was going to be a really looooong two hours and 18 minutes. Really, I should’ve known from the descriptions of the film I’d read, referring to it as an “impressionistic,” “difficult,” “poetic,” “hypnotic,” and “artistically ambitious.” None of those terms imply entertaining, which is often what I want when I go to a movie. Even thought-provoking, artistic films can be entertaining on some level. So in a way, I should’ve known better. Here’s how it went down:

The film opens with a scripture from Job flashing on the screen. I settle in my seat. Immediately I know this was going to be a “serious” film. I briefly wish we had the second season of How I Met Your Mother at home instead.

But then it just gets better. And by better, I mean worse. After the scripture, there are various images. I would tell you what these images were if I knew. But I can’t help you. Some are recognizable—like trees, especially one in particular (I assume it is the Tree of Life from the title—go me!) but the other images are … weird, formless entities. There’s just no other description. These images are accompanied by a whispery-voice narrator asking profound questions about man’s existence. Yawn.

At some point we see Jessica Chastain’s character answer the door of her home and receive a letter, where we learn from her collapse and scream that it is bad news. We don’t find out what that bad news is until after several more images and weird whispery narrations. And by then we’re not sure we care. We want to know where in the he** Brad Pitt is because he’s 97% of why we wanted to see the movie in the first place.

And then we do get to see him! But he doesn’t say anything, just like no one else in the movie says anything and then there are more bizarre images. But we manage to figure out that Brad and Jessica’s (I didn’t stick around long enough to find out if what their characters’ names were) oldest son was killed. That was the bad news in the letter. And Jessica’s not handling it so well. And we see Brad a lot now but he doesn’t say much. So maybe he’s not handling it so well either but we’ll never know because suddenly there are tall buildings with glass windows and Sean Penn is there and now we’re following HIM around. Again, there’s no dialogue and we go back and forth between Sean Penn doing weird things (like wading in the ocean and then suddenly climbing rocks in desert).

At this point, I realize something important: I have given up on this movie. I wonder how long it’s been. I consider checking my phone but since I have a pretty good sense of time, I fear that it’s only been 30 minutes. And I didn’t come by myself so I don’t feel like I can just get up and leave. So I don’t think I want to know what time it is.

I consider other things I might be able to do in a dark movie theater when actually watching the movie on the screen is out of the question. Sleeping seems like a good idea but now there is this really loud opera song playing and I think it might be distracting. Hmmm. (For the record, there is absolutely nothing else to do in a movie theater).

Fortunately, while there were more images being shown on the screen (and they just got stranger and stranger), I looked over at my friend who looked at me at the same time. And we both started laughing (quietly of course). I knew it was over. She asked if I wanted to stick it out and I told her I didn’t mind losing the $8.75 I’d spent. We got out of there faster than you can say “Brad Pitt.”

Moral of the story? Go see Crazy, Stupid, Love. instead. Go see Planet of the Apes instead. File your nails. Read a book. Go to the dentist. Clean the bathroom. Weed your garden. Do ANYTHING besides see this movie.

Just sayin’.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Occasionally someone tells you something that makes you say, "Huh" because you have no other response.

This happened to me the other day at a work birthday celebration when a co-worker randomly mentioned that if I were to kill someone, it would be a crime of passion rather than a premeditated act. He went on to explain that I can talk myself out of of anything so if I murdered someone, it would be in an instant when I just snapped.


The thing is, he's probably right. It's true that I can talk myself out of just about anything. When I am at the store and I see something that I want to buy but don't really need, I will often pick it up and carry it around with me while I talk myself out of buying it. And it usually works.
(That method would be rather tricky if I was in the act of a planned murder and I suddenly changed my mind.)

So I probably would just go postal one day. Watch out, everyone! I am a ticking bomb. Ha ha.

What was most odd about the conversation was that I didn't find it very odd at all. The truth is, I have been watching unhealthy amounts of Castle lately as a way to procrastinate working on my book, finding a hobby, learning a new language, getting a social life or some other proactive step to keep things "fresh" and "interesting" like the psychology articles recommend.

TV is less hassle than those other things and I do enjoy a good crime-solving show (even though they drive me nuts at the same time because of all the plot holes) so Castle has kept me entertained.

But I'm thinking that maybe too much of anything really is too much. Because when someone accurately assesses what type of murderer you'd be and you don't find it a little strange, not to mention disturbing . . . you need a new hobby.