I Just Can’t Get Enough

I admit there are many movies that I love so much, I’ll watch them over and over and over.  I’ve probably seen Pride & Prejudice more than a hundred times.  Dances With Wolves used to be practically a yearly event in my house.  Every time I happen to see The Shawshank Redemption on TV, I will watch it, even though I own it and have seen it countless times already.  There are some flicks I just can’t get enough of.  Which is why I understand those people out there who will pay theater prices to see a previously released movie again, now re-released in 3D.  Unlike my co-blogger, Titanic isn’t one such film for me, but I thought I’d share with you one film I adore so much, I wouldn’t think twice about paying to see it in the theater again, even without the added 3D visuals.  For me, each of the Lord Of The Rings films was so magical, so awe-inspiring up on the big screen, I’m sure I’d pay $10 to experience each of them all over again.  In particular, The Fellowship of the Ring.  I remember so vividly sitting in the theater, watching the Uruk-hai (those orc/human hybrid things) coming down that leaf-covered hill in the woods and literally sinking in my seat.  They were fearsome, so intimidating, I felt like if I’d have been standing beside Pippin, I would have dug a fucking hole in the earth just to make myself disappear.

And how I all but choked on the emotion following the fall of Gandalf, watching as the hobbits cried atop those mountainous rocks amidst the gorgeous backdrop of lush green forest – Jesus, that was intense.

More than anything, I loved the brief glimpse of Gollum, nothing but his humongous reflective eyes in the shadowy cave.  Gollum may just be my favorite character ever written.  I got chills at that little glimpse and could not wait for The Two Towers to get a good, proper look at him.

I feel that same anticipation now for The Hobbit.  In fact, at the end of the first teaser trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, when I heard Gollum’s hissy voice, chills ran up my back.  I. LOVE. GOLLUM.  I doubt I’ll ever get to see The Fellowship Of The Ring on the big screen again, but it’s hard to feel too bad about that with Jackson’s upcoming adaption of The Hobbit looming ahead.  Seeing Riddles In The Dark adapted on screen is sure to be one of the greatest moments in cinematic history, especially with Martin Freeman playing Bilbo and Andy Serkis reprising his utterly perfect version of that wicked little creature.

~Nikki

And The Award Goes To…

We’ve had the recent good fortune of being nominated (and, therefore, given) another award!!  Thanks to foodstories for nominating us for the Illuminating Blogger Award!  Oh that’s right, because we provide illuminating information to all you readers. ;)

As a token of our appreciation, we’ll share with you this random tidbit about ravingmadscientists:

  • We don’t know when or how, but both Annie and I vow to spend a significant chunk of our lives living in England.  We are anglophiles, as you well know, and feel life would not be complete without the experience of living among the Brits for at least a year or two.

And, of course, we have to share the wealth by nominating a few other bloggers who illuminate the blogosphere:

  • The wuc – even though posting has been scarce this year, this Aussie chick couldn’t be wittier, or more clever, or more entertaining, and her genius plays on words and sharp pop culture references make us green with envy for not having thought of them first!  (While we’re laughing our buns off, that is.)
  • And our fave girl SJ over at booksnobbery whose blog is not only funny and smart but also provides the vital function of reviewing books so that we don’t have to read them all!  Being the devout book lovers that we are here at rms, we admire her devotion to sharing her reading experiences with the masses.
  • And, though we don’t post often enough about food, we do love to eat and talk about the food we love to eat, so we’re nominating the best amateur ranting chef this side of the Mississippi for his devotion to food and cooking.  And keeping us continuously hungry!
  • And, finally, we also nominate onegirlgeek for giving all of us geeks a place to learn and gush about our nerdly obsessions!

And thanks to all of you, dear readers, for reading our rantings and ravings.  We do try to provide useful information or, if nothing else, at least to entertain. :)

~Nikki & Annie

‘The Great Gatsby’ Trailer

I saw an unbelievably fantastic trailer this weekend, for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. We caught it in 3D, and oh my dear sweet baby Jesus, the glitter, the music, the CAST!, the fireworks, confetti – it looks like Moulin Rouge got caught in the roaring 20s with Jack Dawson and just SIGN ME UP RIGHT NOW. (This is coming from somebody who loves Moulin like a drug and while watching the blu ray, was certain the TV would start bleeding red and blue paint. I LOVE Luhrmann’s cracked-out interpretations of stories and mashups of color and modern music. I am also LONGING for a 3D re-release of the 2001 Parisian sparkler.)

~Annie

And in case you were wondering what the hell that killer track is playing over the last 2/3 of the trailer, it’s ‘Love is Blindness’ by Jack White. You’re welcome.

ravingmadcast, Episode 2

It’s episode 2 of ravingmadcast! Oh, how you’ve all been yearning for it.

This is the “sequel” to Episode 1, where the possessor of our favorite brain to pick, X, explains why she wants her life to be like The Matrix. And not for the reasons you’d think.

~Annie

And PS: We hope to bring you one episode a month. :)

There’s No Room Upon Your Shelf

I’m currently in the middle of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, a novel I’ve heard much about but never had a particular desire to read.  Not for any good reason, it just didn’t sound like something that would appeal to me.  Recently, though, I learned that a friend of mine has read this novel at least a dozen times, that she absolutely adores it, and my opinions on these matters usually coincide with hers, so I thought it was time to give it a try.  And I do like it, so far.  I’m very curious to see how it will end.  I’ve also started a collection of short stories that I bought at Powell’s Books in Portland called Crimes In Southern Indiana by Frank Bill that I am also really enjoying.  But, as usual, I’m already looking ahead to what comes next and I thought I’d share with you the list of books currently waiting for me to get to them:

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice -this book comes highly recommended to me from a friend whose opinions on literature I greatly value.  I read Interview With A Vampire more than a decade ago and liked it but never got around to reading any others among Rice’s extensive body of work.  I’m seriously not into vampires these days (Twilight has killed the concept for me) so witches will be a refreshing break!

Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell -I read Outliers a few months ago and felt inspired and amazed by Galdwell’s ability to weave together the intricacies that lead people to the lives they eventually live.  Blink addresses the decision-making abilities we have, or think we have.  Using both neuroscience and psychology, he discusses how the difference between making good choices and bad has nothing to do with the amount of information we can process quickly, but with the few particular details on which we focus.  Supposedly, it’ll help me make better decisions.  And hey, I’ll take all the help I can get!

Villette by Charlotte Bronte -After devouring Jane Eyre (and loving every word of it), I decided to download Villette onto my Kindle.  I’ve also recently read Wuthering Heights for the first time and have now officially become a fan of the darkly intricate minds of the Bronte sisters.

Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi -I first read about this collection of short stories a couple of years ago and decided to buy it with an Amazon gift card I got for Christmas.  The stories are science fiction and cover everything from genetic engineering to a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world.  It is Bacigalupi’s first published collection and has already been hailed by critics for its social, political and environmental relevance.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky -I read The Idiot a couple of years ago and while I did really like it, I must admit it was a tough read.  Written in Russian in 1869, I thought perhaps some things were lost in translation.  The heart of the story and its characters made it worth the trouble but I often had to re-read passages to gain a complete understanding of what exactly happened and to whom.  (The names alone confused me.)  So, you can see why I’ve put off reading another of his books.  But The Brothers Karamazov is largely considered one of Dostoyevsky’s best and I’m sure will be worth the time and effort it might take to get through it.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath -You know I’m a sucker for the classics and I’m sorry to say I’ve never read any of Sylvia Plath’s work.  After reading The Awakening a few years ago and marveling at the way I immediately connected with the lead character, a character created in the mind of a woman who lived 100 years before I came into existence, I added The Bell Jar to my list of “must reads.”  Hailed as an early feminist work and found on every list of essential readings for women, I may have to bump it up to the next spot on my list.

Just Kids by Patti Smith -Winner of the National Book Award in nonfiction, Kids tells the story of musician and artist Patti Smith (before she became famous) and her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe during the 60s and 70s.  I almost never read memoirs but who can resist the story of a bohemian budding artist in New York City in the 70s?  Not me.

What are you reading?

~Nikki

Whatever Makes You Feel Like a Rock Star

For me, that’s Las Vegas.

I’m rich, biatch

I promised this blog two months ago that I’d write about my awesome all girls/co-workers trip to Sin City, and as par for the course, it takes me months to do anything, so here I am, mid-May, ready to discuss the awesomeness of my trip.

I can’t help it, Vegas always makes me feel like a rock star. Like I’m living the life of the rich and famous; I’m special, gorgeous, awesome – basically all the things I foolishly wish I was, but would never admit to desiring.

It starts with the actual journey itself. A flight to Vegas always has more happy energy than any other I’ve ever experienced. The flight attendants always giggle “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!” when they’re unloading and everyone on board seems ready to have a good time. Hell, there are slot machines just begging to be violated as soon as you get off that plane and walk into McCarran airport.

This being my fourth trip, I felt like a veteran, and knew enough to avoid the typical shock one might have upon first arriving: You have to have comfortable shoes. It’s going to take you 45 minutes to go anywhere, even down to the lobby. EVERYTHING is ass-rape expensive. But once you get over those three truths, you can have a blast, and feel like you’re living a totally different life.

My guide for how to let Las Vegas bathe you in a rock star glow:

1. Go eat at one of the 87483927847384738738438 incredible restaurants. 

I’m going to write up a food post in the next week or so, ala my NYC food post, but let me just summarize by saying that with this many choices, it’s basically impossible to go wrong. Pretty much everywhere we ate was incredible, and always found at least one of us (I was with a group of 5 gals) exclaiming, “OMG THIS IS THE BEST (insert edibles) I’VE EVER HAD!”, and basically orgasm-ing. We sat on a lavish patio, overlooking the strip. We went to a fancy-pants place that was open 24/7 and had huge gross insane Denny’s-like breakfasts with beer at 2 am. We threw caution to the wind, and ordered stuff our mid-western selves might have passed up. Bloody Mary bars. Sushi bars. Fantastic top-shelf drinks. Hell, even the little Hawaiian joint in the Miracle Mile was tasty. It comes down to one thing: JUST EAT!

My club buddy, with mother-f***in gay fish sunglasses

2. Go to at least one insane nightclub.

You owe it to yourself. A Vegas club is CERTAINLY going to be different from whatever sad, college-friendly joint, full of creepy old men gawking at girls in their late teens, that you may be used to. As we were staying at the Paris, their Chateau Nightclub seemed like our best choice, as it’s in the lobby…

Now, I must start off by saying that I have a cousin who lives in Vegas, and he had a friend who worked here, so the cuz came out to the casino, spoke to the bouncer, and we got some special treatment. Escorted in (up the awesome spiral staircase) past the line of commoners, free entry (I don’t know how much it cost, but Vegas clubs are always at least 30 bucks or so to get in – unless you have a group of girls or any other number of insane elitist and unspoken rules and regulations), and our first drink free. A shout out to Sway for helping us each spend less than $100 that night. Yep, that was his name. As this was “Candy Shop Tuesdays” the entryway had a full-blown Willie Wonka display, complete with actual dwarves, resplendent in the traditional Oompa Loompa garb. It was jarring, to say the least. We all exchanged glances of wtf as we passed the craziness and entered into the club with its booming tunes and flashing lights. After we all got our free drink we headed out to the terrace, which I highly recommend, as it is fucking crazy gorgeous and amazing. With different music playing (oh yeah, I heard my jam “Titanium”about 10 times, and kept screaming about it, probably to the chagrin of all around me), a perfect view of the strip all around you, the Eiffel Tower above, and Bellagio fountains directly across the street, I could hardly conceive of anything more spectacular (which I think I kept proclaiming – “My wet dream!!” or some such nonsense). Well, I guess bottle service, but that’s for the rich and famous, which I clearly am not. Remember, Vegas only makes you FEEL elite. ;) I don’t recall much after this, as the vodka/Red Bulls kept flowing and my young suitor for the evening, Max from Cali, kept slobbering all over me. However, he didn’t mind carting around my tortuously painful shoes, so that was all good. Did the night end in lost purses, puking, blacking out, falling, swapping spit with more than one member of the opposite sex and general drunken buffoonery? Since it has to “stay in Vegas”, I can neither confirm nor deny.

My shoe-carrier

You can always employ one of these concierge club services, which I’d like to try one day, but if you go to Vegas, you HAVE to go to a club. You HAVE TO.

3. The shopping is unparalleled (well, except for probably NYC, London, etc).

These were $900, bitches

You have no money? Who cares? It doesn’t cost anything to go INTO stores that you likely have only ever heard of on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. We tried on actual Jimmy Choo’s. Bought makeup at Inglot, which isn’t even that expensive, but only has stores in fancy, huge cities. The Miracle Mile, Forum Shoppes, the Venetian – all of these places will make you feel special, even if you can’t buy anything. Just get a gelato and stare at everybody, as people-watching in Vegas is unrivalled. In my opinion, the best part of shopping in Vegas are the loads of bars and/or drink stands every few feet, so you can wander Disney-land for grownups with a margarita in hand. (The outdoor bars in front of Caesar’s Palace has the BEST MARGARITA I’VE EVER CONSUMED). Not to mention the architecture and attractions, that are 100% free to look at.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite slot machine

4. Table games!

Don’t be scared, as several members of my group were. There’s nothing to fear. If you’ve never done it before, find a cheaper table, with what appears to be a friendly dealer. Start with Blackjack, as that game is brain-dead simple and chances are, you know how to play. They don’t mind explaining table etiquette, or even game basics to you. And usually, the folks playing alongside you will offer advice as well. Just know these 3 essentials: You touch the table with one finger if you want a card, while one horizontal wave of your hand (NOT touching the table) means you’re good, and with each deal, the dealer will take turns letting each player cut the deck. When they plop it in front of you with that little red plastic card, cut it. I promise, even if you lose, you’ll feel kind of cool. I played for about 2 hours and was able to MAKE about 65 bucks. Woot Woot!!!

5. Go to a Cirque show.

We chose the Beatles LOVE, as it was my #1 choice and nobody really objected. It was easily one of the cooler things I’ve seen in my life, especially if you enjoy the sounds of the Fab Four. (Which I’ma assume is everyone). From what I’ve read/heard, the LOVE show focuses more on the music (and you should know, it’s the druggie late 60s/70s Beatles’ tunes), and less on the jaw-dropping acrobatics, however, our jaws were totally in the dropped position for most of the show. It’s all sort of a blur, looking back, but the costumes, the sounds, the way the theater is situated (in a circle, with TRULY no bad seat) all added up to a cracking good time of acid/hippie drenched dancing, jumping, flipping and flying. My favorite moments: “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, as a ginger goddess swung thru the air and hundreds of LEDs basically dripped from the ceiling, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, mostly because it’s one of my favorite Beatles’ tracks, and “Strawberry Fields Forever”, when, I shit you not, the biggest sheet on the earth is pulled out slowly to cover almost the entire audience (except my row, which was the last one, and at first I was annoyed, then overjoyed, as I realized this allowed me the magical vantage point of being able to see the sheet, although for everyone underneath, it supposedly simulates a “head in the clouds feeling”). I yearned for some memorabilia in the fantastic gift shop, but the crowds were literally crushing and we all just wanted to get back to our hotel afterwards. But the Mirage is gorgeous, and having stayed there previously, I wouldn’t hesitate to make that my destination again. And I highly recommend LOVE.

6. Lay out like the tanning mom.

The pools at a Vegas hotel are all gorgeous. Paris’s was a bit un-tropical for my taste – super classy with 90 degree angles, as you lay below the Eiffel tower on the roof of the main building. We had unseasonably cool weather, which sucked, but 99% of the time, you’ll be laying under the baking sun and palm trees, staring at all the hot people (seriously, there are tons of hot people), and drinking 15 dollar daiquiris. Call me crazy, but shit like that makes me feel like a VIP.

I know lots of people think Vegas is silly (it is), full of obnoxious excess (yep), and bonkers overpriced (ding ding ding), but I enjoy all of the above. My day-to-day excesses consist of eating extra nachos and paying too much for my cable bill, so to walk in the sunshine, gaze at the hotels and attractions which look like they’re basically out of a video game, walk down the street drinking to your heart’s content, and have a non-stop blast, I find to be terribly WORTH IT. It’s one of my favorite vacation destinations, and I really hope to go back in the next couple of years.

~Annie

PINTEREST ALERT!: 
I’ve always been someone who comes home from vacay with a weird assortment of trinkets (boarding passes, drink umbrellas, programs/pamphlets of shit I attended, ticket stubs, etc.) that are entirely useless but make me feel a sting of sadness to just trash, so I put them in a box and hope to scrapbook them one day. Who am I kidding, right?! It took me two months to write about my trip, let alone make a fucking scrapbook. Anyhow, thanks to pinterest, I saw this nifty idea of making “vacation jars.” All you do is pick up some canning jars at any craft store, Target, wherever. Dump all your random shit from a trip in, and close it up. Label it any way you’d like, and arrange jars on a shelf. It makes for cuteness, a conversation piece, functionality, and the easiest scrapbook you’ll ever do, all in one easy step. I thought it sounded AWESOMESAUCE, so Vegas 2012 became my first “Vacation Jar.”
Behold my masterpiece:

This took approximately 2 minutes to assemble and cost $2.89

I Am All That I’ll Ever Be

I read this quote recently in a book borrowed from a friend:

“You know how every now and then, you have a moment where your whole life stretches out ahead of you like a forked road, and even as you choose one path you’ve got your eyes on the other the whole time, certain that you’re making a mistake?”

I’m not really into the book but that line resonated with me because recently (about 6 months ago) I made a decision concerning my career that I feel was the best option available to me and yet I am certain it will lead to a life I don’t want.  Does that make any sense?  I don’t want to get into specifics and without doing so, it’s hard to fully explain, but let me just say this: never before have I felt this certain that my ideal life (a life of creativity and prolific, successful writing) is within my grasp and I am terrified that I’ll waste so much time being consumed with the daily demands of my existence that the window will close and then this will be it for me.  Forever.

And yet I can’t bring myself to risk losing what I’ve already got by chasing down this dream of mine.  I have no idea if I’ll regret this 30 years from now but today, I ask you: what would you risk for the life of your dreams, for the absolute ideal, the life you would hand pick, if possible?  And if you never attained it, but gave it your all, and ended up with nothing, would it be worth the chase?

I’ve never been able to risk losing my independence (in the form of financial security) in the pursuit of this dream.  I need the peace of mind that accompanies a steady paycheck.  Does that make me sensible, or a sell-out?  Practical?  Or just a huge pussy?

Who out there knows what I’m talking about?

~N.