Chip Rehabilitation (+ Favorites!)

I don’t consider myself to be a person of many vices at all. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble.

What do I do instead?
I eat chips. Or at least I used to.

Hi. My name is Starr and I’m a recovering chip addict. If you could take a pause from laughing at me for a moment, I’ll explain my sad story. (Cue violin music.)

I’ve always loved chips. They’re crunchy, they’re crispy, they have this amazing savoriness, even a bit of umami-ness. I love the taste and texture and how they never let me down.

The funny thing is, I actually gave up chips for Lent a few years ago. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but I pulled through without too much issue and resumed eating chips after Easter, finding that I had regained self-control in the presence of chips. I still loved them, but I no longer felt like I needed to inhale every snack-sized bag that reached my grubby hands. I could eat one bag, or even share one with a friend!

Evidently, I lost this self-control somewhere along the way. I know exactly when. It was a little over a year ago, and I was at a really stressful job. I had a snack drawer at my cubicle and there was always a bag of chips in there. At the peak of my burn-out that would eventually lead to me leaving that company, I was eating an entire family-sized bag of chips every day. FAMILY-SIZED. I was not a family. I was — and remain — one single person. In fact, I was eating so many chips every day that I started gaining weight. I’m lucky enough to not really gain weight very easily at all, but I starting putting on pounds during those last few weeks at that company with all the chips I was eating. No matter how much I love chips, they are no where near as good for your body as they are for your soul, and they are really quite bad for you when you eat enough to supply a weekend barbecue with friends.

With the weight gain and the realization that I could probably eat two full-sized bags of Doritos every day if I let myself buy that many chips, I decided to quit cold turkey. I figured it’d be like when I stopped eating chips during Lent. When I found myself craving chips, I ate some cereal to satisfy my crunchy craving and sate my hunger. But I still wanted chips. Okay, I decided to have some roasted seawood to satisfy my salty craving. I figured chip craving = crunchy craving + salty craving, at the end of the day, and as long as I could fulfill those two, I didn’t need chips. But I was wrong. In fact, I ate through most of my snack foods that day, and even though I knew I wasn’t hungry, I still desperately wanted chips.

In short, I realized I was addicted to chips. I wanted something very specific and I wasn’t able to substitute other things for it.

That moment, coupled with me actually tearing up in the chips aisle of my grocery store, woke me up to a pretty bad problem. Not eating chips was going to take a lot of willpower. Would I ever be able to eat chips again?? I told myself I would start eating chips again when I started a new job, but when my first day approached, I realized I just wasn’t ready.

Today marks me being one-year clean of chips. The last time I had a potato chip was August 20, 2014. (Incidentally, it wasn’t the first day I went chip-free. That was a relapse. Originally, I had quit chips about a week prior.) I have had, on hand, a bag of Captain America Cool Ranch Doritos (Cool Ranch or bust!) ready for this day, but we are not together today. I’m going to ease into chips with those and the Fritos (see below) because I’m not even sure I can handle a potato chip just yet.

Because bae should be there when I have chips

I’m not going to eat the whole bag. I’m trying to really practice healthy portion control with chips, and that’ll be the biggest struggle of all.

Let me walk you through the chips that have tormented me the most:

There are going to be a lot of kettle cooked chips in my future. Nothing beats that amazing crunch!

Ben introduced me to these and I now LUST for jalapeno kettle-cooked chips.

These aren’t potato-based BUT they’re really addicting. My roommate and I used to have to confiscate the bag from each other. They were buy one, get one free yesterday and I’m just such a sucker for deals in the chip aisle.

These are my TOPS. I basically always buy one of those 3 bags (maybe all 3, if I’m feeling really naughty). But you know, in my obsession with these 3, I forgot about other great ones that I rediscovered right before I stopped eating chips.

Sour cream and onion! I missed you. (Until I ate a family-sized bag in one sitting, that was a low.)

BBQ chips are all fine and well but honey BBQ? Oooooooh yes. Also, did not know that Utz was a local(ish) brand!

I have a lot of fears.What if chips aren’t as amazing as I remember them being? What if my body rejects them? (Oh god…) What if a year of hyping them up has just set me up for epic disappointment?

But this has been a really good exercise in self-control. I don’t actually NEED chips. I want them, really badly, but I can live without them. It’s been oddly empowering, and I kind of want to experiment more with these year-long abstinences rather than just my annual Lenten one.

Tell me about your favorite chips please!! 

Pixels (2015)

I was really excited to see Pixels because I wanted to spot a name in the credits! (Go tell Briana she’s great and the movie was great on her Tumblr or Instagram!) I later learned that this movie is actually based on the short film of the same name, which is a cool watch in and of itself.

Going into the movie, I didn’t really know what to expect. I hadn’t really watched many trailers for it and just understood that it was about aliens that attack the Earth with classic video game characters. When I met my friends there and they indicated low expectations because it was an Adam Sandler movie, I thought, “Huh. I didn’t know Adam Sandler was in this.” His movies have been getting pretty tiresome, and some patterns still occurred in this movie that I wish would just stop like:

  • Adam Sandler’s character is…
    • … a genius but, at the moment he is called to action, is not currently fulfilling his potential.
    • … somehow able to woo a superbly beautiful woman with not much else but witty jokes and, if applicable, being kind to a child.
    • … actually in a cool story and situation and the romantic subplot is unnecessary.
  • His equally goofy friends, in contrast, do achieve their full potentials and are crazy successful.
  • The female love interest has shallow character development but looks banging and has mad bants with Adam Sandler so I mean whatever.

But with Chris Columbus directing, I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. And I was right, I liked the movie a lot more than I expected I would. Pixels also turned out to be REALLY funny! I laughed out loud a lot and at some points, was barely able to hold myself together in the theater. Gotta give the writers mad props for making this movie so hilarious. Especially withe the dialogue. Some moments were a bit corny/cheesy/too much/too predictable but I was laughing so hard that I let it slide.

Thoughts at the DC screening: Typical district traffic.

First of all, there was a lot more 80s nostalgia than I anticipated – in a good way. If you’re a fan of 80s pop culture in addition to those classic arcade games, you’re definitely going to love this movie. The aliens wound up communicating with Earth by using 80s video footage, so you could see Hall and Oates, Madonna, maybe even your favorite Fantasy Island characters. The soundtrack was also jam-packed full of great 80s tunes for you to bop along to. Definitely check out Pixels if you’re a big fan of the 80s.

I’m wondering how expensive this movie must have been and how they were able to get the licenses to all of these properties. I mean, there was Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Tetris, Space Invaders, Q-bert (which Sony actually does own), Duck Hunt. I’m guessing maybe the pop culture references via video footage are fair use after 30 years? (Dang… 30???) It was pretty cool to see all these classic video game characters together in one place, and to see how the VFX team brought them to life.

Donkey Kong in Columbia Pictures' PIXELS.

To really enjoy this movie, I say just strap in, prepare to laugh at jokes, and enjoy seeing classic arcade game being played out in real life. Enjoy Peter Dinklage’s hilariously absurd character, who was easily one of the highlights of this movie, and Josh Gad’s consistent role in Hollywood as the awkward goofy one. Don’t worry too much about the crazy caricatures of British people or how Michele Monaghan’s character lacked so much depth that she could have been replaced with anyone and it wouldn’t have mattered as long as they could smile, scowl, recite lines, and wear a dress.

Peter Dinklage with a mullet, though

Just enjoy the magic of these games being brought to life and being done so in a really funny way, and you’ll have a good time, really.

Side note: Is the person who keeps clapping loudly and inappropriately at these screenings I attend maybe the same person? There was someone clapping after the actor portraying Toru Iwatani was introduced as Mr. Iwatani and this person clapped for a full 30 seconds. S/he also clapped when Queen’s “We Will Rock You” was playing in the background of a scene. For the entire duration that the song played, about a minute. What was happening here, why were you doing this…

All in all, really solid movie. Super funny, great effects. It’s not perfect, the plot is a little mehh at times, but I liked it more than I thought I would and recommend it, for sure.

Pixels comes out Friday, July 24. Spoilers below the trailer.

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Favorite Cute Animal Videos

I would never claim to be an expert in anything. I wouldn’t even call myself particularly passionate about any single thing.

Instead, I refer to myself as an enthusiast of many things. I get very enthused about many things.
One of these things is cute animal videos.

Let’s just cut to the chase, okay? I’m not here to waste your time. I’m here to show you my surefire, go-to cute animal videos and what I call them.

Official title: 2 Rabbits 2 Cups コップにはいった子うさぎ 漫才編
Also known as: “Bunnies in Cups!!!”
Video length: 1 minute
Featured animal(s): 2 adorable little bunnies that do the thing that bunnies do with their noses for a full minute – instant classic

Official title: Prancing through the grass 🐷😭😻 #piggy #piglet #cute#baby
Also known as: “Tiny pig in grass that’s bigger than it!”
Video length: 6 seconds
Featured animal(s): A teeny pig that is smaller than the blades of grass it runs through and that makes a tiny, precious oinking sound

Official title: baby monkey nala gets a bath
Also known as: “Teeny monkey gets a bath!!!”
Video length: 2 minutes 19 seconds
Featured animal(s): Baby monkey hugging a little plush toy as it gets washed in a sink under a faucet while also making adorable squeaking noises

Official title: Ducks blown off their feet by wind
Also known as: “OMG duckies getting blown across a roof!!!”
Video length: 45 seconds
Featured animal(s): Mama Duck and her ducklings tumbling across a roof after a few strong gusts get them

Official title: Ducklings vs. Stairs
Also known as: “Duckies trying sooooo hard to climb the stairs!!!”
Video length: 2 minutes 31 seconds
Featured animal(s): Mama Duck waiting for her dozen cheep-cheep-ing ducklings to hop up the stairs to her

Official title: Surprised Kitty (Original)
Also known as: “AW the kitty is surprised!”
Video length: 16 seconds
Featured animal(s): Small kitten that is playing with owner and makes an adorable gesture+face in doing so – another classic

Official title: Cat mom hugs baby kitten
Also known as: Mommy squeeeeezes baby kitteh squee~
Video length: 1 minute
Featured animal: Baby kitten sleeping next to mama cat, making little sounds and movements, being pulled into a hug

I know I don’t have any puppy videos… this time. This is probably not the last you’ve heard from me regarding cute videos of animals, but I figured that our hearts could only take so much cute in one dose, ya know?

What are you favorite cute animal videos? Please share, I can’t get enough.

Self/Less (2015)

I was a little dubious of this movie. I love Ryan Reynolds (he used to be my #1 of all time, I have watched almost every single one of his movies) and sci-fi movies in general, so when I got the chance to see Self/Less early, I was on board.

I won’t offer any spoilers in this review. It was a pretty interesting movie, with the premise being that the dying Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) opts to have his consciousness transferred to an empty vessel of a body that was genetically engineered in a lab for prime performance (that perfect specimen being Ryan Reynolds, of course). As the trailer indicates, he soon finds out that this body does not come with no strings attached and that, in fact, this body had a life and a family. Chaos ensues.

Lemme just say Ryan Reynolds kills it with this movie. He’s been doing a lot of really great work both as a dramatic actor and as an action star. (Also, he looks amazing throughout this entire film, okay? There I said it, the man is a beautiful human specimen.) He plays off the other characters really well and just, I don’t know, he carried the entire film on his shoulders with ease.

Gotta nitpick on Ben Kingsley really quickly: why the awful New York accent, Sir Kingsley? You’re better than this. The accent sounded horrendous, like some terrible mix of his natural British accent and a “New York accent”. It was very sad to hear. He gets top billing in the movie, but he is only in the film for the first 10-15 minutes and then we don’t see anymore of him.

Matthew William Goode plays a much larger role in the movie. He seems to be getting typecast as the brilliant but subtle jack*ss, i.e. in The Imitation Game, and he does a pretty good job of doing it. His character is composed for the entirety of the film in that eerie way that some villains are.

Mmmm I don’t know, I can’t say I loved this movie. The story was not that creative given a pretty cool premise and I didn’t feel much for characters that weren’t played by Ryan Reynolds or Victor Garber. (Always love Victor Garber.) I hear Advantageous, now on Netflix, does the premise better so maybe I’ll check that out.

Self/Less is in theaters today, July 10.

Trainwreck (2015)

Back. With. A. New. Review! Oh, I’ve missed attending early screenings so much. (Thanks Fandango for hooking us up, even though it’s super shady to be offering free concessions vouchers and then not honoring that offer when moviegoers show up to the theater. I know concessions is how theaters make most of their money but there is no need for DECEIT, Fandango. For shame.)

I was invited to see Amy Schumer’s new feature film, Trainwreck, by my regular movie crew. The trailers made it seem pretty funny and Amy Schumer is kind of on fire right now. She’s an incredible comedy writer and actor. If you haven’t seen any of her sketches from her show, you need to go over to Youtube or Comedy Central and do that now, you’ll be glad you did. Here’s some recommendations.

This movie had more heart than I expected. With movies like this, I expect more somber moments to be interrupted with farts or inappropriate jokes, but I think this movie just felt very real with the highs and with the lows.

Also, if Lebron James was to go into acting after retiring from the NBA, or if he was to do the Space Jam remake as has been rumored, I’d be okay with that. He was really funny in this movie, held his own quite well.

I don’t know, there’s not a whole lot for me to say about the movie, actually? It was a pretty predictable story but I laughed so hard. Amy Schumer really delivered with this one.

ALSO Tilda Swinton is in this playing the editor of the men’s magazine Amy Schumer works at and it’s really hilarious because it’s so unlike any of her past roles. In fact, it’s kind of fun spotting stars in the movie, like Mike Birbiglia, Randall Park, Ezra Miller, John Cena, Lebron James, Amare Stoudemire, Tony Romo, etc. (For all you sports fans out there.)

Mmmm sorry for the short review, I just don’t have too much to say. Trainwreck was funny. Go see it if you enjoy laughter. 

Trainwreck comes out July 17.