Sunday, February 23, 2014

Movie Review: Knights of Badassdom

Welcome Back, Apprentices! I'm going to be honest with you right out of the gate, guys…this is not a "good" movie. You will not finish this movie having your mind blown by its awesomeness but, if you can appreciate the cheesiness, you will walk away with a satisfied chuckle. Unlike other films I deemed not-very-good and raged over the two hours of my life I will never get back, I don't regret spending time with this goofy little gem.

Knights of Badassdom is about a group of LARPers whom, while out for a weekend battle, accidentally summon a succubus demon from Hell with a book of spells purchased from "the internets."  It is up to the LARPers to destroy the demon and save mankind…or, at least save the other LARPers from being slaughtered like sheep with only their foam swords to protect them. The cast is truly stellar with Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), Steve Zahn (Reality Bites, Treme), Summer Glau (Firefly, Serenity), Danny Pudi (Community) and with Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) pulling double duty acting and as the executive producer.

The writing is not fabulous…there are some truly cringe-worthy moments centering mostly around Kwanten's character, Joe, the slacker lead singer of a Doom Metal band who gets dumped by his high school sweetheart. So, just let me warn you now, you will fight the urge to turn the movie off and walk away whenever Joe starts to sing. It happens twice…so just hang in there!

The characters are pretty underdeveloped and read like the first episode of an internet web series. In fact, this film probably would have been an awesome web series if the script was broken up and fleshed out a little more. But as a film, it falls flat in some areas. Right now you're probably wondering why I even liked it and I honestly don't have a solid answer for you except to say that the cast kept me engaged. Peter Dinklage was, as always, a joy to watch. As a mushroom-eating knight wielding a +3 mace made by his mother (and yes, I spent far too long wondering how his mother constructed the mace), Dinklage manages to steal almost every scene. The man can do comedy and drama like nobody's business and we, as a society, are better for having him entertain us. Steve Zahn is hilarious as an "accidental millionaire" hiding from reality as a level 27 Wizard. He is so oblivious to reality and consumed with his imaginary world that he, ironically, can't face the fact that he actually summoned a demon. Ryan Kwanten and Summer Glau have their moments. In one particular "fight" scene, I had a faint glimmer of River Tam's epic battle in Serenity when she took on a roomful of Reavers on her own. But in this film, the lack of stunt choreography only served as a reminder that the memory was all in my head. Glau's physicality was underused and the scene poorly shot in what could have been a fantastic film highlight. But remember, these are LARPers, not actual "big damn heroes."

The real stand-out performance for me was Jimmy Simpson who plays Ronny, the Gamemaster. He is introduced as the foil, the long-time rival of Joe going back to their days together playing Dungeons & Dragons. Upon first impression, you think you are just going to hate this guy…he's the master of his LARPing domain (likely the only domain he has ever and will ever master) with his minions trailing after him as he barks orders in hilariously butchered Olde English. But every moment with him onscreen is pure gold. He plays the part with the perfect balance of conceit and comedy. Had he tipped the scales too far in either direction, the character would have been ruined and I'm fairly certain the character WOULD have been ruined in the hands of any other actor. Simpson found the charm of the character as deeply invested in the game and truly appreciating the imagination and creativity behind it. Ronny's sincerity gives him a lovable quality that, again, could have been buried in smarminess had another actor been in the role.

Clearly filmed on a budget, this movie contains precious little CG. And I think we're all better off for it because…honestly, it's not very well-done. Most of the gore happens offscreen with copious amounts of fake blood being thrown around (a la the original Evil Dead) and a final "boss fight" with a wonderfully terrible, floppy latex monster rampaging through the LARP battlefield. I won't ruin the sheer, campy awesomeness of the monster by posting a picture here. I want you to experience it yourselves.

I've read other reviews of this film that speak of genuine disappointment that something so wonderfully nerd-centric went so wrong. But I think you can appreciate movies for different reasons. This movie kept me entertained and that's what matters. Besides, how could I NOT watch it as a huge fan of Firefly, True Blood, Game of Thrones and Community? Overall, I enjoyed Knights of Badassdom and I'll likely watch it again with friends, food and many, many cocktails.


+ 10 Awesome Cast
+ 5 Wonderfully Cheesy F/X
+1 Just For Trying
-2 Terrible "Doom" Music & Awkward Singing
-7 Character Development/Writing

Stay tuned! Tomorrow I'll be posting my recipe for delicious buttermilk cinnamon rolls! Be sure to like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for the latest 8-Bit Cook news!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Short Hair & Social Media

Welcome back, Apprentices! Today, we're taking a break from the kitchen to discuss something that has been swirling about the nerdosphere of late, short hair. Specifically, the great social experiment that occurs when a woman cuts off her long, luxurious locks. It's a topic near and dear to my heart because in May of last year, I shaved my head for charity. Yep. With a razor. It was GONE. Check out the picture below…see that? GONE! Shaved away by that lovely bearded and tattooed man!

Having short hair is an adjustment. It is. And when I made the decision to shave it off, I was met with mixed reactions from friends and family. More than once, I was asked, "So, what kind of wig do you plan to get?" I was taken aback by that reaction. I was shocked that some friends and family thought having a bald head would be something to be ashamed of…to be covered. Because how could I dare to go out in public with a shaved head? Other reactions ranged from praise and admiration to disbelief. Many of my girlfriends responded, "I could never do that." And I always wondered…why not? It's JUST hair. It grows back. But then, I realized, there is so much wrapped up in a woman's hair. Other's perceptions of our femininity and sexuality is frequently directly associated with the length of our hair. Even our health is associated with our hair length. One day, I went to the grocery store and the woman at the check stand gave me a pitiful look and leaned in close, "How's your treatment going, honey?" I blinked, not sure how to respond. I quickly recovered and smiled, "I'm not sick." She turned about three shades of red.

The social implications run far and wide and exist among men and women. They are perpetuated by a media-obsessed culture with one, set idea of what feminine beauty should be: young, skinny and long, flowing hair.

Recently, there was an online article published by some guy going by the name Tuthmosis entitled "Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged." The website that published the article is dedicated to the lowest common denominator of men. And it is not a website any male friend of mine would frequent since I prefer to keep the company of men who are…you know…intelligent. I can't bring myself to actually link to the site because, frankly, that's what the administrators want…more attention. The article proclaimed that women are delusional and damaged if they think they are, in any way, attractive with short hair and that others are just lying if they say women are attractive with short hair. He goes on to say that women with short hair are deranged, demented and that we must be making some sort of political statement if we cut off our hair. But, in the end, for that "writer," it boils down to sexuality because surely, all women with short hair, are lesbians. The "writer" freely touts his opinion as universal fact and goes on to detail how one day, a woman with short hair came to his place and texted with one hand and performed a sexual act on him with the other…way to underscore your credibility as a writer there, Sparky. You just proved my point for me. Your argument is now invalid. Pictured below, Tuthmosis in his natural habitat.

Felicia Day, founder of the Geek & Sundry YouTube network and Nerd Queen to us all, recently cut her hair into a gorgeous short and chic messy do. Because she is in the spotlight, the trolls came out to play on YouTube (as they tend to do), leaving stupid, infuriating comments like, “Love your videos, will be back when you grow your hair out.” How does the length of her hair effect the content of her videos or her network? Answer: It doesn't. Comments like those reflect the narrow, pathetic views of an individual incapable of seeing the bigger picture. He succumbs to the Photoshopped version of beauty that is most likely plastered to his bedroom walls and in the magazines stashed under his bed. And in the process, he loses out on some fantastic original content and possibly, as Felicia points out herself in a response on Tumblr, missing out on a real-life woman/girl.

A few online trolls even went so far as to post "before and after" photos of Felicia to prove their point. The best part of this little trollful attack, is that the before picture ISN'T EVEN HER! Read her hilarious and always classy response on her Tumblr page.

So, what is it about short-haired women that society finds so mind-boggling? Why does the length of our hair define us as women? By cutting off our hair, are we making a bolder, political statement that we will not center our existence around a patriarchal society any longer? Are we actively telling men their opinion no longer matters to us? Are we making some sort of sexual declaration of lesbianism? We can ask ourselves these questions and get hundreds of different answers.

Here are mine:

When I shaved my head, I felt free. It was a liberating, cathartic experience that made me feel happy and new. It's a feeling that I hope all women can experience at some point in their lives. And I love having short hair! Partly because it suits me and partly because my hair is naturally thin and curly. Living in the desert, this is a horrible combination since the dry air dries out my hair and makes it a frizzy, brittle mess. My hair looks healthy for the first time in 5 years.  Do I struggle with my femininity? Occasionally. But not because of the short hair. I struggled with long hair, too. Unfortunately, I was not born with that innate ability to accessorize or style my hair with any Vogue-like sensibilities. I have to try…really try to feel pretty. Not because I'm not pretty but because it is a constant journey to search out my own beauty. For women, beauty is a great social and personal experiment. We play with different looks, haircuts, clothes, jewelry and types of makeup until we find the combination that suits us best. We fight a daily battle against society's expectations and the media's unrealistic, unrelenting barrage of Photoshopped, "ideal" beauty. Sometimes we come out victorious... sometimes we're able to look past all the crap and see ourselves for who we really are: gorgeous, unique creatures with infinite gifts to offer the world.

Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest 8-Bit Cook news! Be sure to check back next week when we'll be making buttermilk cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Baked Andouille Corn Pups

Welcome back, Apprentices!  Today,  we're making baked andouille corn pups for a slightly healthier and spicy, cajun twist on the classic fried corn dog! The good news is, with this recipe, you don't miss out on that delicious, crisp cornbread outer shell but you cut WAY back on the grease! Keep in mind, you can substitute andouille sausage with regular hotdogs, turkey dogs or veggie dogs if you choose! I like andouille sausage because it is spicy, flavorful and delicious! So get ready to add a new staple to your family dinners and check off one more thing you can stop buying in the frozen food aisle! If you like this recipe, please take the time to like us on Facebook and follow on Twitter for all the latest 8-Bit Cook news!


1 cup reduced-fat milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (extra for kneading)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 andouille sausages, halved
1 large egg, beaten (optional for browning)
Brown Mustard (or the sauce of your choice)

Heat the milk until it's warm to the touch. Usually, a good 30 seconds in the microwave on high will do the trick. You want to be able to stick your finger in and hold it there without being uncomfortable (about 100º - 110ºF). Just make sure your finger is clean first because otherwise…gross. Transfer the milk to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk. This will activate the yeast and make your dough rise. Let the yeast and milk set for about 5 - 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda and set aside. Stirring together the flour salt and baking soda in a separate bowl helps to combine these ingredients more thoroughly and makes for a more even dough.

Add the olive oil, cornmeal & brown sugar to the milk/yeast mixture and mix together well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.

Gradually add flour mixture, stirring well, until it forms a sticky dough.

Dust with more flour and using your hands, knead until it forms a smooth dough. Lightly oil a clean bowl and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Pre-heat your oven to 450º and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Divide dough into 16 equal pieces and roll into balls. Place on a lightly floured surface. Slice andouille sausages in half.

Roll balls of dough into ropes.

Wrap the ropes of dough around the andouille sausage, making sure to slightly overlap each turn.

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and brush with beaten egg.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Be brave and experiment with the dough! If using regular hotdogs or veggie dogs, add chopped jalapeño, minced onion or 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese to the dough during the kneading process. Remember, cooking is FUN! Don't be afraid to try out new things…what's the worst that could happen?


+10 Mixing
+ 5 Baking