iCookBooking PCS Style

 

Being a trained chef who prior to getting an expensive education read and studied cookbooks for fun means that I now infrequently use such books. Although I do turn to them when needing some new pointers, or a very popular or famous chef compiles their favorite original concoctions along with personal anecdotes and now as a technophile I actually checking out cookbook apps and software when I can or when offered a look.
I have tried out Better Homes and Garden’s, Cooks Illustrated and more, and the biggest issue I found in them was that you have to have an internet connection always running to get to the recipes. Yes, we are talking about iPhone/iPad apps so the idea that you’d be offline is pretty crazy, but what if you’re doing a barbeque in the Ozarks and for one second you decide… “Hey, this potato salad is so boring… what else can I do with potato salad?” and in this imaginary situation you have access to any food or food item you want, but no internet and you’re flavor profile mind isn’t just kicking in. So an app which you can download recipes to before you head to the Ozarks is best right?I’ve been sampling a few that were okay, but had many flaws I didn’t care for and have missed a few that fascinated me but were truly out of my price range and there’s some that haven’t come out yet. There are a variety of interesting celebrity sponsored apps such as ones from excellent chefs and television personalities like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver and when looking for something very specific they come in handy. There’s even a version of Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything”, but that is much more a guidebook to cooking and less so a cookbook collection.

 

That’s what the app iCookBook can help with. Although it’s much more than that. In terms of layout and design I’ve liked it much more than any of the others. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re the best of the recipes though, despite being many of them and I mean any. The collection is of all Brand name recipes, things from boxes of products ranging from Kraft, Hershey’s, Pace, Wish-Bone and more. Of course you wouldn’t have to use the name brand product if trying a recipe, you could use something similar and probably get the same results.

The app has monthly free downloads adding new recipes along with optional paid recipe options based on themes and styles.

The setup is as easy as many, you get your ingredient list and then follow very simple instructions. You can find recipes via filters such as method of cooking, theme, time of creating the dish, theme of the dish, and more. For someone like me I’d be using it as just a pointer, but it’s definitely a good pointer and much easier to use than any of the other apps as I said and more versatile.  I wouldn’t be surprised to discover something new and interesting too, with over 2000 recipes available on download and many more there’s going to be something I didn’t ever learn in school or post school studies.

It also has easy access to items such as conversion charts and substitutions, the ability to create a shopping list and offers customer service.

iCookbook is a universal app designed to work on iPhone and iPad equally and is available for $5 which is cheaper than any cookbook that would be on this collection. It is also available for Android, HP Touchpad and Windows 8.

(this review was based on a generously gifted iPhone review copy, but had no bearing on its review)

Walking Dead: The Game, Survival DRAMA! (instead of horror… get it?)

(the following review is dedicated to my friend, “Rhiannon” Miller)

Life is full of choices. Which shirt do I wear? What should I have for lunch? What movie should I go to? Who should I save from the attacking zombies?

That last decision isn’t really easy, it can change your entire life or at least in the case of Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead your entire experience over a five episode monthly season. At first it may seem not completely apparent how much your experience will truly change and in terms of major beats I’m not sure it will or if puzzle solutions will change as much as just dialogue and plot sequences, but it still makes for a fully replayable (sic) adventure. Doubly so because even without the chance to have portions of the story play out with different dialogue choices and segments, Telltale has put together an interactive graphic novel that one could see re-reading, just as one reads The Walking Dead comic again or owns the Walking Dead TV show on DVD to watch it again, good storytelling with quality acting.

For fans of the TV show the service is bit less, but they will get to see Glenn before he went to Atlanta and Shawn and Hershel Greene before Shawn became a Walker. Comic books fans get a minor character who did major things, as Lilly’s life before the apocalypse gets fleshed out. Everyone else we’ve been introduced to are original characters and while some reviews have stated these characters to be one dimensional, I feel that means they went for really super quick playthroughs (sic) to get their reviews out and never really took any time to listen to all the various conversations in which they are, including Doug, who was based completely on an actual real person. Of course none of them are as fleshed out as much as the lead character the player controls in Lee Everett. A character just as engaging, intriguing and with a variable personality even because of player choice. It seems like a small thing right now that you can decide if Lee is totally loyal, valiant, kind and all that jazz or mostly single-minded and only looking out for himself with a truly jerky attitude or something in between.

At many times the feel of the game is much for like a very interactive and controllable graphic novel. While there are actually puzzles which can take some common sense and in other times a good eye and understanding of logic as well as even the occasional very easy what has been known to be called QTE, which essentially translates to mashing a button and then mashing another button just at the right moment. There’s also some very minor targeting situations, but they are handled much more like a point n click adventure as Telltale has handled in the past. To my trained eye there doesn’t seem to be much change to the game design that differs from earlier Telltale Games such as Back To The Future, Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit, and I’m one of those people who actually found those games to have a perfect balance of being easy to pick up for a complete non-gamer and only too easy for the strictest of puerile game players who want to feel like they’re taking a lawyer’s bar exam while playing a game or just find flaws to find flaws

I love most of all the art style which finds a way to combine what has become now known as Telltale’s signature art style with a very comic book feel with a line style that evokes both Walking Dead’s original artist Tony Moore and current artist Charlie Adlard. The animation does have various glitches that are easy to ignore, but can be jarring. In certain environments if you try to walk to the edge of the screen that isn’t actually passable, I noticed the animation would fall to a crawl. There was some texture parsing and floaters in cinemas that is distracting, but again not so much to ruin the game and make one scream bloody hell. Unless you you’re someone who demands absolute perfection and I mean ABSOLUTE perfection, which means, you’ll never ever be happy or satisfied and you better hope there’s a zombie apocalypse soon and that you become a zombie quick so that your brain becomes one process of eat, eat, eat. Which you know, could be interesting, but since I see myself as someone like Rick Grimes and possibly Lee Everett (who knows, it’s only one episode so far), you’ll end up being smashed to bits by me.

I actually highly recommend The Walking Dead game. It’s available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC/Windows and Mac , so your options to play are very high. You can also choose to try out things with just purchasing one episode for $5 or getting the entire season. On the Telltale site there are even better deals that get you the whole season and other games as well if you’re new to Telltale and want to explore stories such as Back To The Future Part Four or Jurassic Park 1.5.

Favorite Movies of 2011

Rango: Gore Verbinkski’s animated western affair was a total delight to the eyes. Accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and perfectly well done jokes, I loved every moment of it. I was sorely disappointed when the blu-ray came out without the one component I felt it surely needed though. The film was made by having the actors actually perform the entire film on a soundstage as if it were play. Snippets of this were seen in the trailers and I was really hoping to see the entire version of this, but alas. So as much as I loved RANGO, that hurt it’s long term love for me. It’s an awesome film though.

Take Me Home Tonight: I was not expecting to enjoy this. After the debacle of other films that tried to recapture that 80’s spirit or the concept of the insane night of partying, I never thought there was a chance I could like this. Yet it came on to HBO and I quickly got entranced by Topher Grace. On That 70’s Show he was probably my least favorite, but he’s evolved a bit and he has a strange mix of Jason Bateman and Michael J. Fox in him. Anna Faris didn’t hurt here either and having Demetri Martin, Bob Odenkirk and Michael Ian Black in important cameo roles really helped.

Hobo With A Shotgun: Holy hell was this a sick freaking film. It was way better than it ever deserved to be, one can of course thank the cast for that, because the film itself actually isn’t really good. The gore effects are fun and the violence is excellent, but the writing is garbage, the oversaturated film stock effect and scratches to make it “grindhouse” worked against it visually and the nudity was really luke warm. Rutger Hauer, Trailer Park Boy’s Robb Wells and Rookie Blue’s Gregory Smith really help bring it from waste of film to worthwhile fun viewing.

Hanna: This flick just blew me away and I had hyped myself up huge for it too. I got to hear Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Joe Wright talk about the film, the intense training and the setup of film making at the New York Comic Con in 2010 and everything really geared me up for it. I was not disappointed in the least. It is not a perfect film by any means, but it is amazingly shot, Saoirse is a joy to behold and there are elements that just make it an infinitely a watchable flick that I can see myself returning to over and over.

Beginners: Quite possibly my favorite film of the year. I recently watched it again and I loved it all over again, reassuring my previous feelings and thoughts. It actually jumped ahead of its previous spot in this rewatch. Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer truly deserve Oscar nominations for this film. Mike Mills is a horrible artist, but he is an amazing story teller and film maker. Listening to the commentary track and hearing him point out things that definitely made the film better but that even my trained eye missed because I was too attached and pulled into the narrative turned the film into not just a heartwarming tale, but a real mastery of cinema for me.

Captain America: If anything has come close to really being a quality live action adaptation of a comic book, it has to be the Markus & McFeely written, Joe Johnston directed The First Avenger. It hit all the right notes of feeling like a comic book literally translated from the page to the screen. I of course am not trying to discount Sin City here, that is a remarkable film but that fells more like recreation than adaptation in my mind. This film borrows from the comics without actually fully just recreating them as live action sequences. Plenty of quality inside jokes, awesome action, conceptual changes that fit the Marvel Movie universe better and not that he’d ever get acknowledged but Hugo Weaving deserves an Academy nomination.

Hugo: One of the most stunningly visual films in years, Martin pours every inch of himself on to the screen. You can tell he loves Méliès as much as Brian Selznick, if not more so. John Logan did almost a pitch perfect script adaptation of the book which Martin painstakingly tried to envision on screen. He made the decision to use Brian’s art as full inspiration for the look and feel of the film and it showed through every sequence. It was filmed in 3D, although this was not necessary to make an a good film, it ended up allowed for effects 2D imagery would not allow, such as seeing an eye through a clock, the inside of the clock and at the same time what the flock sees… the intricacies of the new 3D technology which also allows for hologram like effects was amazing on the big screen. I am actually worried how this one will translate/did translate to 2D. I’ll discover when it comes to dvd/blu ray since I don’t own a 3D TV and won’t for a long time. The performances in this are fabulous as well, Ben Kingsley dazzles, but Chloe Grace Moretz and the young Asa Butterfield are the the film and rightfully so.

The Muppets: I went in with trepidation and not all my fears were uncured, there are a hell of a lot of flaws in this film. Flaws that one could say “It’s a ‘Muppet’ movie, why are you trying tear it apart?” but I’d return with “It’s also a Jason Segel script, who is an intelligent writer and works on one of the most continuity driven shows on television, he should know better, but I do realize Bobbin and Thomas might’ve been the derailers (sic)”. So it’s really not a perfect film, but it is Muppets and Whitmire and Goelz really tried to keep the magic alive. Also, “Muppet of a Man” is one killer freaking song. The actual episode of The Muppet Show Special in the film is quite special as well.

Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows: I utterly adored the first Guy Ritchie version of Holmes. Every element of it. The acting, the story telling, the cinematography, the action, the music, the set design, the costumes. In Game of Shadows, the only factor that goes in a much different design and direction is story telling, but it’s applicable to the story they are telling. This movie is less about an actual mystery and sleuthing, but about about precognition, notice, strategy and fore thought. While the first film showed the Holmes that would inspire a Gregory House or Adrian Monk who breaks down the mystery as he goes along or ties it all together at the end, this time we see the side of him that inspired characters like Sean Spencer and Patrick Jane who see the plot as it unfolds and is always one step ahead of the villain. I’ve already written another review of the film which explores it differently and expands why I loved it, but I felt here I’d speak from another point of view.

She Went to Hell and took us with her

Hello, Chuck Palahniuk, it’s me Reid Harris Cooper. I just wanted to let you know that your newest book is compelling and successfully fills many of the holes it creates along the way, creating interesting characters and a vivid image of a designed hell I can see well animated by John Kricfalusi. On the other hand it is at times quite pretentious, overly wordy and particularly annoying. While you can easily blame this on your protagonist and the first person speech, it did not have to be this way. Certain choices were made in terms of structure, repeated style use and pushed upon ideas that at times I almost tossed the book across the room in frustration. It is almost a sign that the book got accidentally water damaged making it look mangled, but not unreadable.


DAMNED is the newest upcoming book from the acclaimed writer of Fight Club, Survivor, Choke, Lullaby, Haunted, Rant and a few more. Many are thinking of it as possibly a return to form that he seems to have possibly lost, but I see it as more experimentation from a writer who refuses to be locked down into any type of style or particular voice other than that of unreliable narrators and reveals that flips he story late into the book, sometimes too late to make a dent, other times perfectly sculpting pure genius. In many ways, DAMNED does both.

Chuck seems to have definitely done his research here and while it is admirable and adds to the scenery, at times it almost feels like he is trying to boast more than even educate through his various characters that he can talk about Hell because he went and read all the various books, scriptures, theologian essays and more. I applaud his effort, while also rolling my eyes at it. I almost feel it’d been more interesting for him to create his entirely own vision of Hell than the cobbled together version in this book. There are some really hilarious, fantastically brilliant ideas here and some of them are fully formed, while others just get touched upon making you desire more. This could be to the possibility of an upcoming sequel. If said sequel doesn’t exist though they’re just nuggets that will lay there untouched; Very cute, interesting nuggets that will only percolate in the readers mind, but never to be fully fleshed out and formed.

As an entire package the book tells a full and complete tale that is both visually entertaining and mentally stimulating, yet falters from expansive sections which could’ve easily been in fast forward and at times The major plot “twist” can be easily telegraphed from an early sequence as well that is just really longer and weirder than it needed to be. I feel like I’m spitting more venom than sprinkles here for a book I actually cared enough to finish, especially since books that start to piss me off usually get tossed on the ground and given a beat down, but the fact is that I really saw a lot of potential in this story and I feel at least a sequel could save it, but as it stands I can only recommend it to the the most stalwart fan of Chuck’s or those who really love contemporary visions of Hell via the dialogue of a young girl who finds empowerment through Death and Dismemberment.

DAMNED currently has a release date of October 18, 2011 in America and is published by Doubleday. It will be a hardcover with a retail price of $24.95, but obviously cheaper through sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

New Fall/Winter Network Primetime Shows (What I Care About and What I Don’t)

No Reality Shows for this overview, and many of these new shows might not last than one episode based on how I enjoy them. Also returning shows that I like more will topple any new show. Also Cable Television has done some upfronts but haven’t really shown off what they have coming in the Fall. I know White Collar and Royal Pains will have their returns and I know TNT will have something as will ABC Family and who knows what else? Maybe Comedy Central will start something something. Here’s those Network shows debuting in the Fall and Winter that have enough stuff on the internet to get a judge of something I even want to bother checking out. I’m basing my reactions on the marketing/trailers the networks have provided, not on the actual casts, writing teams, etc. As it’s been proved, good actors are in bad things and good creators sometimes fail… so yeah… anyways, Away We GO!

Extra Note: With the ones I care I’ll just be pointing out why I want to watch and just assume I liked the trailers. With the one I don’t care about I got snarky as all let out.

CARE
Comedies
NBC
Free Agents: Hank Azaria
Up All Night: Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph

CBS
How to Be a Gentleman: Kevin Dillon!

ABC
Apartment 23: Krysten Ritter, James Van Der Beek
Suburgatory: Jeremy Sisto, Rex Lee, Cheryl Hines
Last Man Standing: The entire cast!

FOX
New Girl: Zooey Deschannel!

Drama/Action/Genre
FOX
Terra Nova: Looks like a great sci fi series.
Alcatraz: Prison Break meets LOST with some other weirdness thrown in
The Finder: Abnormal Procedural show, spin-off of BONES, Michael Clarke Duncan

CBS
Unforgettable: Unusual cop show
Person of Interest: Twist on the crime show, created by Jonathan Nolan, stars Michael Emmerson

NBC
Prime Suspect: Maria Bello
The Playboy Club: Amber Heard, David Krumholtz, something different
Grimm: With this and Once Upon A Time on the air, with FABLES now in production as well, it might be too much Fairy Tale stuff, but the trailer for this had awesome effects
Awake: This doesn’t debut for awhile, but it looks like the most compelling show in forever. This is the show B.D. Wong walked away from SVU to be involved in. I actually have not been as excited for a show this much since the never picked up Pretty/Handsome. This was created by the guy who gave us the awesome but short-lived Lonestar
Smash: Katherine McPhee, Meg Hilty, Angelica Huston, Megan Hilty and Marc Shaiman music!

ABC
Pan Am: Christina Ricci and just something different.
Once Upon a Time: See above about Grimm, but this also has Ginner Goodwinn

The CW
Hart of Dixie: Rachel Bilson and it reminds me of Doc Hollywood, but with a girl.

DON’T CARE

Comedies
CBS
2 Broke Girls: Kill Me!

ABC
Work It: Kill me now!
Good Christian Belles: Bring me back to life and then kill me again.
Man Up!: Ad nauseum!

FOX
Allen Gregory: This might be the worse cartoon made in forever. Jonah Hill as the lead voice… horrible characters. It’s a shame the animation is fantastic.
I Hate My Teenage Daughter: I almost ripped my eyes out and I love Jamie Pressly.

NBC
Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea: I’m sad that the trailer for this is so bad, as I love Laura Prepon with an intensity.
Best Friends Forever: Don’t know either of them… and ugh!
Bent: The same can be said here… absolutely love the cast, but… just fell flat.
Whitney: I actually dont like her.

Drama/Action/Genre
ABC
Charlie’s Angels: Why?!?!?
Revenge: Just didn’t grab me…
The River: Same here… documentary style horror as TV show? pass…

CBS
A Gifted Man: Not compelled by the plot here.

The CW
Ringer: I can see where this might be good, especially with Sarah Michelle Gellear in the role, but something just doesn’t call to me.
The Secret Circle: If you love The Vampire Fiaries, then you’d love this, I’m just not the target.

Mini Reviews of Movies (based off my bad movie theory)

Based off my theory that even the worst film must have some form of merit I started scanning Netflix for a few films and then wrote mini-reviews.  I’ll be only sharing three reviews here as this is a big project and one film I recently saw shot my theory dead in the water.  Still these three films have reviews written for them on a small sheet of paper, so I thought’d I share them.  These are three that actually had merit enough to get a Netflix or whatever you have viewing.   Be aware that one of those merits I expect in bad bad movies is good good nudity. So sit back and read and then watch!

MIRACLE BEACH: Full of Gratuitous nudity from random girls, it’s disappointing that the hottest girl in the film, Ami Dolenz is only in a bathing suit.  The plot is funny though and the camp is turned to 11.  Throw in Pat Morita, Martin Mull and an Alexis Arquette back when she looked & acted just like brother David and you get a good fantasy romantic 80’s comedy.   Dean Cameron is also fantastic as he always is.

VALET GIRLS:  The nudity factor was pretty non-eixtant which was a disappointment as the two female stars were super fine.  Yet this was actually a really good comedy.  The premise is clear, there are great characters, performances and awesome synth pop rock music.

Highlights includes popular dwarf actor Tony Cox as music manager, Kenny Sacha (a very popular female impersonator, mostly of Bette Midler, who passed away in 92 from complications of AIDS) as the super annoying and over pushy screen writer and a wordless, but unmistable Ron Jeremy as a regular guest at the parties.

CRASH COURSE: This Made for TV 80’s film has some atrocious writing, impossible plots and super stereotypical characters, yet it is super fun.  From B.D. Wong’s rapping to teenage Alyssa Milano in a leotard there’s just enough here to stick with it.  Plus Jackée Harry is actually hawt in this.

You just HAVE to see the B.D. Wong rapping though!  Alyssa Milano really gets into it too.  Here’s my filmed from a TV video!