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Weekly Finds: April 21-25

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GIFs, Prince George, and Lessons to Learn as a Single Twenty-Something-Year-Old. See what caught the Modern Jedi’s eye this past week —>


Fighting Irish

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Daniel Day-Lewis knows how to make a badass entrance. on a sunny august afternoon, the 45-yeara-old Oscar winner tears up to a roadside seafood shack in rural Connecticut on a yellow Triumph motorcycle. THe locale was his choice. First, because this joint makes an excellent lobster roll. aNd second, because he has no intention of giving out his address to some journalist.

After brushing off all the doom-drenched reports about the making of ‘Gangs’ as “hogwash,” he loosens up. Especially when he talks about how he got bamboozled into playing Bill the Butcher. it started with a phne call to Harvey Weinstein, when the Miramax boss was in the hospital being treated fir a batercial infection in early 2000. “I shot myself in the foot,” says Day-Lewis, laughing. “I thought, ‘I’ll get him while he’s down,’ and I called to ask him for some money for my wife’s film, which he never gave us , by the way. And he said, ‘Martin’s looking for you!'”

The actor hadn’t made a film since 1997’s ‘The Boxer.’ He says he’s spent the past five years with his family (incidentally, his wife, write-director REbecca Miller, won the top prize at Sundance this year with ‘Personal VElocity,’ and without HArvey’s help). HE also says that during his time off, he read five volumes of Winston Chruchill’s Duke of Marlborough biography and apprenticed undere a master shoemaker in fLorence. While he’ll go on and on about Chruchill, the shoemaking thing’s off-limits (but when the tape recorder is off, he’s happy to talk about it for half an hour). During the hiatus, his agents knew not to send him scripts. Hell, Day-Lewis wasn’t even sure if he’d act again. When asked why he regards movies as such a chore and why he’s kept away from them for so long, he unspools the following metaphor: “THe image that springs to mind is when you leave e field lying fallow becayse you’ve used up all the nutrients in the soil. and you can’t grow in that soil for a couple of years.” Hmmm, let’s give him  abnother shot: “This may be an unforgiveable comparison,” he says, beginning to crack up, “but women, after a period of time, can give birth to another child because they forgot what it’s like.”

Day-Lewis finally did get in touch with Scorsese, who’d directed him in 1993’s ‘The Age of Innocence’. When they got together at the filmmaker’s Manhattan office, Scorsese immeditaly tried to seduce the actor with photographs from the period. But even through he suspected that Scorsese would need allies against “The Fat Man,” as Day-Lewis calls Weinstein, he wasn’t sure his field had lain fallow long enough. “To any other living acor, if you got a role like Bill the Butcher, directed by Martin Scorsese, in a period epic — it’s like any actor’s wet dream!” says Leonardo DiCaprio, “But I just think he needed to go through a certain process. Plus, looking Marty in the eyes and telling him ‘No’ isn’t humanly possible.”

When Day-Lewis showed up on the ‘Gangs’ set in Italy in September 2000, he was already Bill the Butcher. He spoke with Bill’s broad New York accent and already carried around Bill’s rage — a mental state he would trigger each morning by blasting Eminem while he worked out. One other thing: Everyone had to call him Bill, too. “I just met Daniel recently,” says Cameron Diaz, more than a year aafter ‘Gangs’ wrapped. “The whole time he was Bill. Never Daniel. Always Bill.” Day-Lewis lowers his head and laughs when he hears this. Then I ask if he thinks his costars were intimidated by him. “I suppose it’s a little strange. You’d have to ask them.”

Diaz: “Yes.”

DiCaprio: “You just become used to it after a while. I’ve heard stories about Method actors…and at the end of the day when the director calls ‘Cut,’ they’re still that character and they go home and beat the s— out of their wives. But if I had something I wanted to collaborate on, I never felt like he was going to pull a butcher’s knife on me.”

As much as Day-Lewis enjoyed working with Scorsese again (or, at least as much as Bill did), he’s glad to be done with the film. In fact, he says this so sincerely that when asked if it’s going to be another five years before he acts again, he shrugs and says “I don’t know” in a way that makes you think that number may be closer to 10.


An excerpt from Entertainment Weekly’s “Tough Turf”, Issue #668/669, August23rd/30th, 2002

A Taste of Spring at Last!

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Rachel Ray Foodie Pick #5: Cake Boss Whole Lotta Carrots cake

That cream cheese frosting? So yum

It’s one of six designs by celeb chef Buddy Valastro available in most supermarkets. It’s honestly one of the best things for my soul right now. We’ve had two snowstorms in the last seven days, leaving behind 10+ inches of disgusting, white, heavy stuff some call snow. I call it the end of all joy. It’s a dessert brimming with spring time —- bright green and orange, creamy frosting, a light taste.

Exactly what I need.

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Letter from the Modern Jedi: Listen to your Gut

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I know this sounds kind of crazy, but I believe that one of the things that’s helping me professionally is that I’m always a little paranoid. I don’t mean that I think the FBI has me under surveillance, but I tend to be hyper-aware when something seems “off” or there’s a certain vibe in the air, and then I mull over whether I should take action. Maybe it’s another way of saying I go with my gut.

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Not Your Typical Burger

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Rachel Ray Foodie Pick #4: MorningStar Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Let’s clear something  up immediately. I like meat. I like all sorts of meat. Steak, salmon, hamburger, ham, bacon, prime rib…you can’t name a cut of meat I haven’t previously fallen in love with over the course of a meal. BUT as it is the season of examining one’s life (also known as Lent), I decided to break free of my meat-loving ways for a couple meals. Was it difficult? You have no idea.

But I found something pretty darn tasty. So if you find yourself craving falafel on Saint Patrick’s Day (or any day of the year, really), why not try these patties made of chickpeas and spices? They literally take about 5 minutes to cook. So to sum things up: delicious, quick, and fairly nutritious. Give it a go, yo!

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A Perfect Late Sunday Night Snack…

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Rachel Ray Foodie Find #3 – Way Better Snacks Simply Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

I didn’t think I’d like they either. Honestly, my first reaction was, “Absolutely not! These are vegan, health-nuts chips!” But I bought 2 bags for $5 anyways. I ate my first few. My comment? “These taste like air.” But then I kept eating them. Soon, the whole bag was polished off. Guess what? I ended up liking them. A LOT. (Even with the giant Gluten-Free labeling across the back!)

My recommendation? Enjoy these as a late night snack. Not only are they low in calories, but they’re also incredibly good for you. These chips boast high levels of omega-3s  thanks to chia seeds and quinoa. Amen to that!

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Because Pizza Should Be Its Own Food Group

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Rachel Ray Foodie Pick #2: Boboli’s Thin Crust Pizza

Chewy and full-flavored, this pizza crust makes for a quick, easy and ultimately delicious meal when you’re flying in through the front door at the seat of your pants. Why? Because you only have so many day-lit hours in a singular day and your brain won’t stop yammering at you, that’s why.

Just how easy is it to turn plain, uncooked crust into a meal that will make everyone at the dinner table happy? Slather on a little or a lot of pizza sauce, for starters. Pepperoni, onion, pineapple, green olives, five kinds of cheese…whatever delights your palette. Add your toppings and bake!

Done in 20 minutes flat. Totally fab.


Coffee’s Rivalry

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Introducing — Rachel Ray Foodie Picks!

A huge fan of Rachel Ray ever since I started cooking my way through her 30-Minute Meals cookbook (that I got for only $2!), it’s an understatement when I say I LOVE her monthly magazine.

I love it so much that when I stumble across an older issue, I may or may not slip it inside my oversized red handbag. (I love “satchels” for a reason.)

There’s a segment in every issue where Rachel highlights new products to check out (and daresay, purchase?) on your next foodie shopping trip. So, here I go, following Rachel’s footsteps into new territory where only Food Lovers dare to go!

First up…

Rachel Ray’s Foodie Pick #1: Target’s Archer Farm Low-Fat Latte Chai Tea

It’s a spicy, refreshing afternoon (or late Saturday stay-in-bed weekend morning) with less caffeine than coffee.


Best Picture 2014 Nominee – Philomena

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Here it is, my final Best Picture 2014 nominee film review…and of course I’m writing it hours before the 86th Academy Awards air on my home television screen. What else would you expect from me? I’m a perpetual procrastinator…a piece of my personality I’m starting to combat (not so successfully I might add), but the effort I’m making to accomplish these reviews before finding out this year’s award-winners is worth appluading, right? RIGHT?! (Cue Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’ now, please!)

Enough about my procrastination. ‘Philomena’ is an incredibly touching film. Starring dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, I knew very little about this film outside of a short synopsis I quickly read on the Marcus Theatre website before heading to the theater. At times I felt sickened, at time I laughed really hard, and other times I scratched my head trying to understand what was going on in these characters’ heads. Yet again, another Best Picture nominee that left me reeling at despite how far the world has come, we really have much farther to go.

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Best Picture 2014 Nominee – Nebraska

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If I had to choose one word out if the English language to describe the film ‘Nebraska‘, it’s this: straightforward. Plain, simple, and completely without flash and pizzazz. But that’s exactly what the film is…minus the part about the lack of pizzazz. There’s plenty of it, but not in a showy look-at-me-now sort of way. I didn’t know what to expect from ‘Nebraska‘, but of the nine Best Picture nominees this year, this one surprised me tune most and I’m so glad it did.

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