Thursday, May 24, 2012

Favorite Films of Buster Keaton

Anyone familiar with by blog, and especially my tumblr, knows how much I love the silent film comedian, Buster Keaton. To be honest, it hasn't been a long affair - I discovered him back in October when TCM had the entire month dedicated to Keaton films. But I was hooked immediately. Needless to say, I stayed up as late as I could on Sundays so I could be mesmerized by his skilled acrobatics, hilarious stunts, and expression-filled "stone" face. And that wasn't enough. I bought a box set containing the bulk of his silent films and I've also gotten a few smaller collections that are the numerous short films he did later in life (after MGM screwed him over) that never came close to the golden years of his silent films (though, in my opinion, they're still fun to watch. It's a treat to hear Buster's voice and he is, even without creative license, still as talented as he had always been).

Silent film, in general, has been an exciting new world for me. I discovered it in the fall - my gateway drug, in a sense, had been Mary Pickford. Even though she was a famous actress that did so much for film as we know it today, getting a hold of her movies is extremely hard (and the ones that are available are super expensive). I'm hoping that, like with Buster, having TCM dedicate a month to her will help fix that. So although I'd love to kick back with a bunch of her films, I had to expand my exploration of silent films before finishing with her movies. I tumbled right into Buster at that time, haha. 

The great thing about silent film is that, when you watch one, it feels like you're being told a secret. The characters are delightful, the music funny and sometimes extremely catchy, and, as a viewer, you are engaged with the film at a higher level because you have to watch the character's expressions and fill in the gaps. It's not that hard, really. A good silent film is easy to follow. 

Buster Keaton is fantastic in those regards. Sure, he's funny, but humor has never been enough for me to engage in a particular actor or actress. He's an artist; his films are surreal and risky and Buster knows how to grab a viewer's attention. Of course, it helps that he's been performing acrobatics and athletic feats since he was a baby (no joke) and that it's a marvel to watch him fall gracefully and dive under moving cars and dodge trains.... yep. The characters he plays are consistently sympathetic, charming, and melancholy. If you're a fan of Ziggy comics, you'll connect with him immediately, haha. 

I could probably go on and on about him until I'm blue in the face, but I thought that it'd be better to show, rather than tell, my favorite Buster films. I've chosen gifs from my top favorites in two categories - feature-length films (45 minute - 70 minute movies) and short films (only about 20 minutes). The gifs respectfully come from tumblr, haha. 

Most of Buster's films can be found online, so I've linked the titles up to youtube. If you like one, please click away! This post is inspired by my friend, Namie who recently posted about her favorite studio Ghibli Films

Feature-length Films

1. Sherlock Jr.

2. Seven Chances

3. The Cameraman 
(The only one not available in full - so I just linked a clip of Buster getting a kiss, haha)

Short Films

1. The Playhouse

2. The Scarecrow 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fruit Salad: A Summertime Delicacy

One of my goals for this summer is to eat healthy.

It's so easy to eat quickly and badly during the school year - especially when you're stressed.  There's a huge paper bag of Smarties in my office, left over from when we gave them out to our students. There was so many left... and I managed to eat my way to the bottom within about two weeks. Mind you, it was during a time where final projects were colliding, grading grew to the size of a mountain, and last-minute events to go to filled up every space in my planner. So eating made sense. I was too hungry to leave the Smarties alone, haha.

Now that I'm home, there's more time to be slow and methodical in preparing food. I'm not a cook by any stretch of the imagination - if you watched me try to make something that did not involve a microwave, you'd probably laugh yourself to tears.

However, I do want to enjoy the few months I have of healthy eating before my last year of graduate school begins. So I started off with something simple: fruit salad.

If you've been reading this blog from the very beginning, you might remember an old post I made about apples. In it, I created a story about a wandering apple and also confessed, after periodic grocery shopping, that I've been in search of Pink Lady apples.

Well, I guess they're in season now. I found them. 

All this time, I thought I'd have to pick the apples out from a display, but it turns out that they've been neatly packaged! The bag describes the taste as "zippy and tart." Woah. So I've now learned what zippy tastes like.

So, these aren't Snow White apples, but they certainly look like they've come out a storybook. It must get its name from the pink blush of the skin - the little speckles on the sides also remind me of strawberries.

The taste, since we're on the subject, is really amazing. Some regular apples like Golden Delicious have a kind of dull taste to them - but Pink Ladies are very sweet, tart, and packs a punch of flavor. It's like I've never eaten an apple before this one, haha.

With the apples found, I decided to start on the fruit salad.

Chopping up ingredients for the salad: strawberries, bananas, watermelon, and assorted nuts like peanuts and almonds to toss on top.  

But of course, I didn't forget about the apple. For a regular bowl of fruit salad, I discovered that one apple is quite enough. I discovered this by chopping up and tossing in two apples, haha. 

Me and my apple-chopping moves. Actually,  I was really clumsy. It took me forever to chop the first apple in half. I need more practice. And, of course, where would I be without a Disney shirt? Nowhere, that's what. 

And then, when you toss 'em all together, it creates a very lovely fruit salad. The thing is, I got so hungry while making this that I ate it very fast. So I feel like, when I make more in the future, I need to do it on a full stomach. All that chopping and cutting was very relaxing though, and I enjoyed just concentrating on preparing the salad. My mind is always running and, even in my spare dozing time, I'm always thinking about writing. So to focus on something else for a bit was nice. 

Done! Believe me, the other fruits are in there. Just on the bottom, haha. All attempts to mix it had been thwarted by pieces of apple flying all over the place.

So ta-da! It's not the recipe post I imagined, but I think it does the job (considering how I eat out of a microwave and yet watch Food Network constantly). What are your plans for summer? What kinds of food will you make to beat the heat?