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The School of Chocolate: Now Streaming on Netflix

School of Chocolate Trailer from Netflix’s Youtube Channel

Sometime in the early 1980s, I found Jeff Smith’s PBS cooking show and soon I was hooked. Eventually I would try Smith’s recipes and other chef recipes with varying results. Although I have not tried a recipe in months, my desire to watch baking and cooking shows remains constant.

The latest show I saw is School of Chocolate, hosted by French pastry chef and Instagram star Amaury Guichon. In this series, he teaches a group of eight chefs how to create realistic chocolate creations. In the first couple of episodes, he makes a pencil that he writes with on a piece of paper, and he lights a candle. Here is the kicker both items are one hundred percent edible.

Next, Guichon shows the chefs how he makes creations like these and how to do this chocolate work themselves, then he lets them lose in two challenges. The first is solo, and the second, he pairs chefs or two chosen chefs who did well from the first-round pick their team.

As the chefs work, Guichon or his two assistant chefs go around to check the contestant chefs’ work and offer help when they need it. If a chef does not do well after the first challenge, Guichon will ask the chef or two chefs to join him in a personal lesson rather than have this chef(s) go on to the second challenge. Usually, the chef or chefs master enough from the lesson, to move on to the next’s days challenges.

Another thing I like is how the eight chefs accept Guichon’s direct and push themselves to try to meet his standards. Three of the eight chefs who can work with pastry and chocolate are similar to Guichon right away, they are Chef Juan Gutierrez (Four Seasons Hotel Chicago), Executive Chef Thiago Silva, and Daniel Joseph Corpus.

The five other chefs struggle however, each improves and elevates their skills as the competition progresses. My favorites from this group include Pastry Chef Mellisa Root and Pastry Chef Tyricia Clark. Root does well leading a team and keeping each chef on task. She also has experience under her belt running and managing a restaurant until its forced closure in 2020. Whereas Clark lacks confidence but it grows through Guichon’s instruction leading to work improving by leaps and bounds.

By the eighth episode, there are two chefs left to go head to head for a big prize that includes teaching a master class and fifty thousand to start and open a restaurant. Their challenge: chocolate sculptors set in the dinosaur era. Gutierrez creates a prehistoric bird and Root makes baby dinosaurs hatching from eggs.

When Guichon judges each piece he offers plenty of praise to both chefs before letting them each know what he did not like. For Guiterrez, it was broken feathers on his dinosaur with wings and for Root, the base of the sculpture was too heavy compared to the upper portion and her chocolate did not shine.

I thought from other baking competitions where the judges nip pick that Root would win. For instance, in the latest Great British Baking Show competition, one competitor got kicked out from the kitchen because she could not do crisp decoration work and another one in the finale blew her chance to win when part of her showcase bake sadly did not cook like she thought it did.

However, this was not the case instead Guichon chose Guiterrez to win. When I think back the signs for his win got sown through the number of top finishes and Guichon’s affinity toward Guiterrez. While I do not agree with it I do have to remember I am a viewer of baking competitions, not a person in competition nor do I judge them.

School of Chocolate: Now Streaming on Netflix
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review
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Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix (Spoilers)

Masters of the Universe: Revelation trailer Part 2 from Netflix’s Youtube Channel

Just before Thanksgiving part two of Masters of the Universe Revelation came out on Netflix!!

The story is simple. As He-man. Prince Adam sacrifices himself to save Eternia. The kingdom mourns the great loss of their hero and then it gets revealed to King Ragnor and to Teela that both Adam and He-man are the same person. King Ragnor is stunned and feels sad he did not treat his son better. Whereas Teela feels heart-broken and angry her friend did not trust her with his secret.

The first half of Revelation is to convince Teela to Cringer, Andra and Orko (ghost form) and Lyn to save Eternia by retrieving both halves of the Power Sword from Subternia and Preternia. At first Teela refuses but eventually she agrees and decides if they are to put the Power Sword back together they need to have her father, Man at Arms do the work. They find him and he refuses and instead gives them a robot version of himself to join the team in their mission.

The team survives Subternia and obtains the first half of the sword before heading to Preternia to retrieve the second half of the sword. Once there they meet Adam and from there Teela and Adam have to work to mend their relationship. I am happy they do but the two friends patching things up, happy again the Power sword gets made whole by the robot, who sacrifices themselves to make it happen. Now the team just needs to get over the last hurdle head to Grayskull.

Shortly after getting there Lyn double crosses the team and not long after Skeletor gets brought back to physical form. The first half of Revelation then closes with Skeletor winning.

In part two of Revelation the team must regroup and they formulate a plan to reunite Eternia to stop Skeletor. And just like the Skeletor of the original cartoon from the 1980s, although he won, he skill obsesses over He-man and more so after Prince Adam comes back to life. Now Skeletor feels he must start all over gain to defeat his great foe and his alter ego. This aids in Skeletor’s downfall with a wrinkle a big wringle – Lyn.

I think Kevin Smith, his team, and the cast of Revelation did a fantastic job. I saw Part 1 in an evening and I did the same with Part 2. I feel they improved on the original cartoon and moved the He-man story forward well. I think its great Teela is the new Sorceress and that unlike her mother she can leave Grayskull and be able to continue to fight along with her friends and family.

Masters of the Universe Revelation: on Netflix (Spoilers)
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review

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The Original Cowboy Bebop Series

Original Cowboy Bebop Trailer from IGN Movie Trailers Youtube Channel

Nearly two decades ago I saw Cowboy Bebop and fell head over heals for it. I thought it slick, funny, and dramatic – all blended together into a wacky action/cowboy/space adventure series. I consumed episode after episode until one day it was off the television stations. Until the live action version came out on Netflix I did not consider going back to the original.

My mind changed when I began to hear the reviews for the live action show. Most of the reviewers say it is a mixed bag and all of them prefer the original series over the new one. So I have chosen to re-watch the original Cowboy Bebop from the beginning and then give the live action series a try. I think the trailer for the live action show is slick and how the living actors look compared to the OG characters is spot on.

Today I took in the first two episodes of the original series but instead of English dubbing I chose to go with the original Japanese. Asteroid Blues begins with lean muscled and bare-chested Spike Spiegel practicing his fighting moves in his quarters while Jet Black cooks breakfast which is Special Beef with Bell Peppers. Spike likes the dish very much except on this particular morning the beef is missing. Most of the bounty money Spike and Jet had unfortunately got used up in ship repairs and paying for the medical treatment of a police offer Spike injured on the job leaving no funds to buy things like beef.

In order to get a chance at buying beef for the next day’s breakfast Spike takes another bounty to catch Asimov aka the Red Eyed Coyote who murdered most of his former syndicate members and stole a cache of a combat drug known as Blood Eye. Joining Asimov on the run is his girlfriend Katrina who dreams of a new life with her love on Mars. However, they first have to neutralize the syndicate target on their backs for stealing the Blood Eye and bounty hunters like Spike.

The second episode has Spike chasing Abdul Hakim who stole a valuable lab animal. To make it harder for someone to catch him, Abdul undergoes surgery to alter his appearance. However, the surgeon is none to happy with the beating Abdul gave him so willing shares Abdul’s new look with Spike and asks in return that Abdul get a good beating.

So much goodness in these two episodes and I could easily binge all 26 episodes but I am making myself slow down. I plan to stick to one or two episodes at a time than once I finish, as I wrote at the beginning of this review, I will go back and try to watch the live action Bebop.

The Original Cowboy Bebop Series
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review

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The Sparks Brothers Documentary

The Spark Brothers Official Documentary Trailer from Focus Features Youtube Channel

Edgar Wright’s documentary on Ron and Russell Mael is a deep dive into their music. It opens with their fans, many famous admirers including Jason Schwartzman, Neil Gaiman, Patton Oswald, Flea, and Beck along with the brothers themselves share how their drive, creativity and humor has carried them over five decades of performing music.

The brothers grew up in California Pacific Palisades, a suburb of Los Angles. Their father was an illustrator and caricaturist for the Hollywood Citizen-News newspaper and their mother was a librarian. Together they exposed their sons to music, art, comedy, film, surfing and more. Fast forward to their University years, the brothers formed a pop band, Halfnelson, which would eventually be rebranded to The Sparks.

Although they never became worldwide hit makers, the success the the brothers did achieve allow them to have careers their way. They are consistent in their drive, creativity, and humor. This gets emphasized and repeated with various cartoon and paper Mache short films. skits, and clips from their music videos all of which made me laugh, cry and go wow! Also many of these shorts, skits and clips reminded me of Peter Gabriel music videos from the 1980s and one album cover where Russell and Ron are dressed as bride and groom made me think immediately of Queen’s I Want to Break Free.

Throughout the whole documentary, I could feel the great affection their admirers, including Edgar Wright, feel for the Mael brothers and it is infectious. It made me feel really good and other times break out in wonder so much so I just embraced what I got nothing more and nothing less.

The Sparks Brothers Documentary – available to stream on Netflix
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review

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A Little Lesson I got in Body Ink & Design

Image courtesy of Piotr Siedlecki and publicdomainpictures.net
Image courtesy of Piotr Siedlecki and Publicdomainpictures.net

Let’s travel back in time! It’s September 12th and the day of the Alzheimer’s Walk at Switchyard Park

I stroll around for a bit before deciding to stand to the right of the stage as the music plays & hear the occasional announcement get made. Several minutes later, I see Krystal from Owen State Bank, who I have not seen in a long while. (I keep up with her posts on Facebook and make comments here and there.) I go up to her, say hello, and she introduces me to others in her group. Then as we get chatting, I notice the color red and blue out of the corner of one of my eyes. A few seconds later, I walk away and see that the red and blue I saw is on the woman standing next to Krystal. Her name is Jessica, and she’s Krystal’s partner. Before I know it, I say to Krystal, “If I ever get a permanent tattoo, she has to be in the room with me.” She agrees immediately and tells me it will be a blast.

After the Walk is over and I am home I think what made me say what I did to Krystal? Although I appreciate tattoos, I could never get one because I can not pin down a design. Plus tattoos are not inexpensive.

There is the consultation which is upwards of $100. If someone decides to go ahead with the tattoo, that person pays the remaining cost of the design, but if the person chooses against getting the work done, the tattoo artist does not walk away empty-handed.

However, my feelings got wobbly when I went online to Google’s browser and put in embroidery tattoos to see if they exist, and it turns out they do. They are flat like other tattoos, but the layers of colored ink lines give them the appearance of being actual threads.

Back in the day, my Mom did needlework. Over the years, she made several pieces – an animal jungle, a dragon, and angles. I have the dragon and a sweatshirt with a tiger on it. I would look at several of these unique tattoos, and then I saw a dazzling bird by Paulina Oliver. I fell hard for it.

I did some more research to learn about tattoos in general. When I finish, I go to Esty.com to buy four temporary tattoos. I had fun wearing them for two weeks. During that time I met someone with a tattoo that caught my eye and I spoke to this person to ask who did their tattoo. I got the name and contacted the artist then emailed a picture of the embroidered bird. I got a two sentence reply that said it will not last. I got no further explanation and I think when I replied back I should have asked for one however, I moved on to asking another artist.

This one actually does piercings but she has several tattoos. We have spoken twice on the subject. She told me they are an exciting and a new fad. However, many local tattoo artists in the area are unsure how stable embroidered tattoos are. They fear as the tattoo ages, the short and layered lines that make the design & give it detail will not last. Normal tattoos do change over the years because of aging skin which can cause the ink to spread get fuzzy and lose its crisp definition.

Yes this can happen with a bad tattoo job but it could also happen to a tattoo done like an intricate drawing say on a piece of paper. Skin and paper are two very different things she went on to tell me. To seal her to her point, she gave me an example of a Gremlin tattoo she got where its teeth went away. In her case, it was not a good tattoo job, but I got her point about embroidered tattoos.

Our skin is living and as it ages will lose its firmness becoming loose and wrinkling together causing the ink in the tattoo to do the same. As a result the ink lines get fuzzy and blur causing the details to get erased and in time those fuzzy lines come together into one blob of ink. Over time the blob may fade in color but some residue of it will remain. This is what she says local artists think happen with embroidered tattoos but on a much faster pace. However, this cannot be proven until these types of tattoos get documented and pictures taken to show their changes over a lengthy period of time. So to play it safe, most local artists choose to not do this type of tattoo. Instead they prefer checking a design for viability before determining if the design is a go or a pass.

So for the time being I will continue to follow Paulina Oliver on Instagram and enjoying her artistic work in ink for years to come.

A Noble Walk and a Lesson in Ink
Ruminate Central – Blog Central:
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Baking Impossible: Season 1 on Netflix

Baking Impossible Season 1 video from Netflix’s Youtube Channel

Baking Impossible blends two things I like about baking the artistic, engineering, and baking except the engineering its taken up several notches. We are not talking about making a cake spin or to get smoke to come out of a cake dragon.

Instead the baker and engineer have to combine their skills and do critical thinking to make the their edible move through various tests and once complete the judges will taste the baker’s dessert. The judges include baking specialist Joanne Chang, baker and engineering expert Andrew Smyth, and astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi who together scrutinize the contestants work.

They look for the engineers and the bakers to work as a team, help each other in the kitchen, aid one another with testing, and then the execution. Some of the engineers and bakers really get into the concept of the show and this pays off but for others who do not gel it either leads to a wake up call and a save or elimination from the competition.

This show has lots of fun elements, its creative, and will not only make the kids smile but adults too.

Baking Impossible: Season 1 on Netflix
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review

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The Waitress: The Broadway Musical Play

The Waitress the Musical – London Official Trailer trailer from The Waitress Youtube channel

Fourteen years ago Keri Russell (Felicity) took on the movie role of Jenna a waitress living in the deep South who has tremendous baking skills. She wed a musician named Earl (Jeremy Sisto from Law & Order) but the marriage quickly loses its sparks of love and Earl becomes overbearing.

Fast forward fourteen years and The Waitress, now in its fifth year on Broadway, comes to IU auditorium for the first time. I went to see it with my Dad and boy did we laugh.

One day while working at the diner Jenna’s co-workers notice she looks queasy and urge her to take a pregnancy test. Reluctantly Jenna does and she finds out she will become a mom. She chooses to keep this a secret from Earl at about the same time a long time patron to the diner, Joe tells her about a pie baking contest where the winner can get twenty thousand dollars.

I like laughter it feels good and makes me feel cheery. However, the play lacks character development and a story. It does not show why Jenna and Earl have a sour marriage. I know Earl cares about cash, dislikes his construction job, wants Jenna to love him conditionally and be at home when he wants her at home. Ah ha! He has control issues but wait he still lets Jenna work longer and longer hours especially after his boss fires him for being habitually late. Also Earl does not watch Jenna like a hawk nor does he strong-arm someone at the diner to blab on her. Instead he is aloof for a long time that she hides money around the house, has become pregnant with his child and never learns about her cheating on him with the town doctor.

Then we have Becky and Cal.  Becky, who works with Jenna, has a husband who has epilepsy. She does not like caring for him and longs for a different life.  So does Cal, the diner cook, who likes to run a tight ship and wishes the waitresses took him more seriously. He too complains about his marriage being loveless because his wife thinks he is gay. Well it is not long before Becky and Cal have their own affair. These two hooking up has even less development than Earl, Jenna and the doctor do.

I wish I could write I felt some emotional attachment to the characters and that they could get that happily ever after ending all wanted to have but instead all I got out of the play was laughs. Lots and lots of laughs.  It’s not enough to elevate the play to good.

The Waitress: A Broadway Musical Play
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review

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Jaguar: A Netflix Drama set in 1960s Madrid, Spain

Jaguar: Netflix Drama – The trailer is courtesy of Netflix’s Youtube Channel

Waitress Isabel Garrido is the sole survivor of her family who was exterminated at Mauthausen during the Nazi’s reign of terror in Europe. Twenty years later she is on a mission to to kill the man who shot her father to death Otto Bachman and his fellow Nazis who have made Spain their home. Isabel plans to poison the meal she serves them at the restaurant where she works. Her plot is foiled when she sees the men eat their food without incident so she follows the group after they leave the restaurant to shoot them down in cold blood.

Unbeknownst to her she has been followed by a group of spies, other survivors like her, who work under an unknown entity who wants to capture these Nazis and bring them to trial for their deadly crimes. The group manages to foil her a second time however, Isabel is able to escape with a flesh wound until she returns home only to be knocked out without a fight.

She wakens to face Lucena who tests her and later asks her to join him and the other survivors in their group to capture not only Bachman but also Nazi doctor Aribert Heim who performed horrid experiments like injecting poison into the hearts of prisoners and performing surgery without anesthesia.

I saw the trailer for a similar series set in the 1970s on Amazon known as Watch Hunters but I thought from the trailer the group took too much glee in their efforts to stop Nazis in New York by any means necessary. In Jaguar I felt the premise more real and although fiction is based on fact. After the Nazi regime fell many powerful leaders and henchmen escaped to Latin American countries like Spain who had friendly dictators to their cause.

Each member of the group including Isabel is has their scars from the camps and having survived when millions did not. Yet they have the drive to do what they can to capture the guilty and bring them to justice before a Court of law just like Eichmann who got caught and went to trial in Israel.

I like the action in this series and that the show sticks to the premise, keeps it simple, and to the point without straying from it. This made for a very strong drama with very few flaws.

Jaguar: A Netflix Drama Set in 1960s Madrid
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review

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Star Wars Visions: Disney Original Anime Shorts (Spoilers)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lle0NNmvIyU Star Wars: Visions – a Disney Original Trailer courtesy of the Star Wars Youtube Channel I saw all nine episodes of Star Wars Visions and I the look, the feel, tone, and stories in each episode felt like they belong in this realm. I know they may not become cannon and this is okay….

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Open Your Eyes: Season One Avail on Netflix (Light Spoilers)

Open Your Eyes: Netflix Trailer courtesy of the Netflix Youtube Channel

A teenage girl wakes from a coma to find herself in a facility that treats patients who have amnesia. The resident psychologist and her staff use therapy sessions, medications, and urge those they treat to harness a skill or talent to rebuild their lives.

However, the teenage girl is skeptical of the facility almost from the start. The psychologist and staff do not tell anyone including her with details about their lives. Instead each patient must through the regime they are given remember on their own. The only reminders a patient gets of what he or she recalls gets played back each morning when their black box alarm goes off to wake them up.

The teenage girl tries to go along with her treatment but her gut instincts and an eerie girl’s voice that refers to her as Karolina or gives her instructions that lead her to find out the facility is not all it seems causes conflict in the girl. At first the teenager who eventually recalls her name is Julia (for a while at least) takes higher doses of her medications to try to block out the voice in her head. However, it does not stop and as Julia’s fears for herself and others in the facility increases she tries to rope the few friends she has made in the facility to investigate with her.

Some doubt her and call her crazy and others come to believe Julia is right about the facility.  (Mysterious cubed server, harsh punishment to any patient that does not obey the rules etc.) Then the last two episodes occur and things turn out not be as they seem. Julia it turns out is really Karolina and she is a natural piano prodigy however, this talent gets taken away and given to someone else. And it turns out the facility is not meant to help people with amnesia but rather to give the talents from one person to another by using an electronic cap.

I like many of the episodes however, the last one not so much and the ending twist I feel is disappointing. Instead of being climatic and exciting it felt like a let down. The last episode closes with Karolina choosing to go back to the facility. If Netflix renews this series I doubt I will tune unless I learn there are major improvements to this mystery/drama series.

Open Your Eyes Series Avail on Netflix (Light Spoilers)
Ruminate Central –: Christy’s Review