Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Recipe: Angeletti

I was going to go to a friend's place for a Bachelorette girls night, and I didn't want to come over empty-handed. So I looked up "unique cookie recipes," and I found this recipe for Angeletti on Real Simple. I'm sure there's some history as to why these sprinkle cookies are called that, but let's just say they're fit for angels.


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for rolling the dough
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1⅓ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons multicolored nonpareil sprinkles, for decoration (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and eggs until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined (do not over-mix).
  3. With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and the bottoms are pale golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and the vanilla until the mixture forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more water if necessary).
  5. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, rounded side up, on a rack set over a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with non-pareils, if using. Allow the glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
These cookies are quite yummy! I didn't bother flouring my hands when rolling the dough; it's pretty easy to make roughly-shaped round balls for the cookies. And I will say that I had to add A LOT more water to make the glaze even somewhat of a liquid, but I did end up with some extra icing, so...not sure I got quite the right balance.

I'm not sure why the recipe says the sprinkles are optional: those are what make these cookies!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Play Review: Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World

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I saw this play on a complete whim at the Writer's Center in Bethesda. I knew there was a little theater like that in the area (a friend of mine goes all the time), but I had never actually gone to see a performance there. I'm under the impression that the small group from Flying V Theatre wrote the play themselves and acts it out, so I was very impressed by their creativity and how much work went into the production.
This is a VERY physical play! I think all the actors had several bruises... Image found here
The play is broken down into many parts, each with a little mini-story (some of them do come full circle at the end, though). They are a mix of history and sci-fi, taking us from the late 1800's to today. For example, "The Devil of Two Cities" part clearly is in reference to the Dickens story; the two cities are London and Chicago, and a female Detective Holmes chases a bad guy across the Atlantic to discover he is Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. I loved seeing all of these famous characters in new stories: the Bride of Frankenstein is a burlesque dancer and a WWE-like fighter; the Three Musketeers include Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and a wanna-be John Wayne cowboy; Tarzan meets King Kong while James Bond falls for a female Indiana Jones; a "Wolfside Story" pits teenage vampires and werewolves against each other à la Grease or Thriller, and of course lots of knock-off superheros were involved; Agent J from Men in Black made an appearance (or was it Neo from The Matrix?), as did Dr. Who's TARDIS, the birds from The Birds, and Nancy Drew herself. The cast took well-known characters and stories and made them their own! How cool is that?!

Superman had a "P" on his chest, but I never figured out why... Image found here
Because this is a small theater, not everything can be high-tech. Some of the effects were a little campy, like the puppet squid and monster from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But I was still impressed by much of what I saw. There were three large screens near the ceiling that would show drawings or images from the different time periods, which kept you engaged during the set changes. There was part of the set that was a big block that was used in different ways: it was just a large step for most of the time, but could be a table in the middle of the stage or give the illusion of a deep hole if pushed out a little from the edge of the stage. The set also included a metal, upright grid that actors climbed upon throughout the play (the play was very physical, from climbing to jumping to crawling, and of course lots of fighting!).

The only things I didn't like were quite minor, and some could hardly be controlled. The guns used in plays are so loud and startling, so I never like those. And I think in one of the skits that was supposed to take place in 1968, there was a voicemail played; voicemail wasn't invented until 1979. One of the cast members had a horrible dragon/double helix tattoo across his back, so that was very distracting every time he had his shirt off (which was often, because he's a big, buff guy); the bad fake facial hair used for some costumes also detracted from the play. But all of this must be taken with a grain of salt, since this is a small, rather new theater company, and in the grand scheme of things for such a fun, imaginative production, these blips don't really mean much. I was overall so impressed that I joined the Flying V Fan League! I can't wait to see the next show!

Here's a review from DC Metro Theater Arts: http://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2017/06/13/review-flying-v-fights-secret-history-unknown-world-flying-v-theatre/

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman [SPOILERS]

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I'm usually not into superhero movies, but as a strong, independent woman, I HAD to see Wonder Woman. And this movie did not disappoint!

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I've always been fascinated by ancient mythology, so I loved the Gladiator-like feeling of this film (even Connie Nielsen is in it!). The scenes with the strong women warriors practicing their fighting skills were some of my favorites. And I liked the discussion of ancient gods, and how Wonder Woman (named Diana) was made from clay and Zeus brought her to life. I did a little research into the goddess Diana, goddess of the hunt and childbirth, but I'm still not sure if she is any inspiration for Wonder Woman, or they just happen to share the same name...

The main gist of the movie is that the Amazons live safely on their own little island, but a pilot crashes there (he's an American spy during World War I). Diana saves him, and insists on going to the war to help stop the fighting (she believes the war is the cause of Ares, the god of war). There are lots of impressive fight scenes, but of course stopping the war isn't so easy. In order to help save the day, Chris Pine (the love interest in the movie) has to sacrifice his life. The bad guy does die in the end, but now Wonder Woman (who is immortal?) lives on in modern day without the man she loves. Sad.

BUT I still liked the movie, even with the sad ending. I love the juxtaposition within Wonder Woman's character of her strength and honor along with her naivety of the outside world and mankind. It was really fun watching her see a man for the first time, learning about what kind of clothes people wear (instead of armor), carrying her sword and shield around in the streets of London, things like that. There is definitely humor sprinkled throughout the film which I really enjoyed.

She's never seen a man before, let alone a naked one! Image found here
Also, I loved that we see a naked man in the movie, but not a naked woman. How many times can you say that? Usually female nudity is much more common. Maybe that's what happens when you have a female director!

I think the only thing that really bothered me was that I felt like Wonder Woman wasn't using her full powers all the time. She discovers that she can create an enormous blast of force when she crosses her arms, and yet she only does it a couple of times throughout the film. Why doesn't she just use that power every time she needs to kill?

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The movie wasn't too long, and it wrapped up nicely. No cliffhanger ending, finally! But, one of the previews was for Justice League, so you kind of know what's coming next (2 hours and 50 minutes of it!). Not sure I'll see that movie, but 5 stars for Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman!

I also love that one of the previews was for another girl kick-ass movie, Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron. I want to see that one, too!

*All GIFs found on giphy.com

PS: Here's my blog post about Batman v. Superman, where we first met Gadot as Wonder Woman: http://confidenceiskeyblog.blogspot.com/2016/03/movie-review-batman-vs-superman-spoilers.html

Monday, June 12, 2017

National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center

I got an email last week from the Kennedy Center to see this performance for just around $30 a ticket. What a steal: I had to go! Here are the pieces I heard that night:

Mason Bates' Garages of the Valley

He was at the performance; he looks like this, but with gray hair now. Image found here.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video of this piece. But here is some information from his website:

Much of the Digital Age was dreamed up in the most low-tech of spaces. The garages that dot the landscape of Silicon Valley housed the visionaries behind Apple, Hewlett Packard, Intel, and Google. The imagined music of these tech workshops begins hyper-kinetically yet sporadically, filled with false starts. It soon flashes into a quicksilver world of out exotic textures and tunings that is informed by the music of Frenchman Gérard Grisey (whose imaginative orchestrations sound electronic but are completely unplugged). The exhilarating finale reflects the infectious optimism of the great inventors of our time, who conjured new worlds within the bright Valley’s dark garages.


3 flutes (2nd = alto flute, 1.2.3. = piccolo)
2 flutes (2nd = alto flute & piccolo)
2 oboes (2nd = English Horn)
2 Bb clarinets (2nd = Eb clarinet & bass clarinet) 2 bassoons
2 horns in F 2 C trumpets
percussion (1-2 players)
marimba (with low C extension), woodblock, sandpaper blocks, djembe, sus. cymbal, bongo, glockenspiel, triangle, xylophone, hi-hat, bass drum

Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23

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Alice Sara Ott was the pianist, and she was SO into her performance! I was lucky enough to find a video of her playing the same piece, just with a different orchestra:

Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44

Because I was able to take a nap that afternoon before the performance, I actually stayed awake for the entire show (which never happens!). I did enjoy the music, but honestly, it's hard to go wrong with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. Bravo!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center

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This was the third time that I have seen the New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center. I like that the show contains several different pieces, and the selection is quite varied (although there is always some homage to George Balanchine). Here's what they performed:

Square Dance

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This dance shows the similarities between ballet and square dancing. The dancers moved in circles and lines, just like at a country square dance. The program notes said that originally there was an actual caller, but that is no longer part of the dance. I liked the grace of this dance, and the simple costumes were very true to the art of ballet.

Here's a short video about it:


Images found here (merged by me for convenience)
Here's a (somewhat shoddy) video of the piece (~12 minutes long):

This was my least favorite piece of the performance. The music was written by Louis Moreau Gottschalk from New Orleans, but the entire work has an Italian feel about it. The costumes look dated; Erica Pereira had to wear a stupid doily on her head with pigtails, and Spartak Hoxha looked like a pirate. He really outshown her, with his fun facial expressions and his larger (and higher quality) tambourine (don't even get me started on my hate for props in ballet...). I felt bad that the male dancer was getting a greater applause than the ballerina! The whole dance was very silly and childish. NOT what I wanted to see at the ballet.

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There was almost nothing I liked about this piece. The program notes say the music is from a Russian film about Jewish gangsters in Odessa after the Russian Revolution, so I understand why the dance is so dark. But I like ballet (and actually most kinds of dance) to be happy!

My list of dislikes goes on. The music, written by Leonid Desyantnikov, was a little spastic, ranging from creepy violins to joyful brass sounds. I also did not enjoy the choreography by Alexei Ratmansky. Many parts seemed to be too similar to sexual assault: the male dancers would touch and grab female dancers, whose characters clearly did not want to be touched; one part almost reminded me of a gang-bang. On top of all this, the costumes were horrible! The women wore these ugly floral dresses that were completely pleated, and then men wore similar shirts with black pants (not even tights). The costume designer Keso Dekker has designed many outfits for many different ballet companies, but I just wasn't feeling this one.

Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

This piece is choreographed by Justin Peck, who is a dancer and choreographer for the New York City Ballet. This ballet actually won the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production in 2015, so that's cool. The piece is designed to be in four parts, but I'm not sure I really noticed the differences between each. They all seem very athletic, and feel more rugby than rodeo. The main thing that makes this piece unique is that there are 15 male dancers and only one ballerina; ballet is known for focusing on female dancers. I loved how everyone was smiling: the dancers looked like they were having fun and truly enjoying themselves! The performance I saw featured Peck and Tiler Peck as the soloists; it should be noted that they are NOT married and are NOT related, it's just a coincidence.

Here's a video for part of it:

Because this is such a varied program, another show could be completely different. I was disappointed to learn that I wasn't going to see American Rhapsody, which is choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, one of my favorite choreographers. I am tempted to see them perform again on Saturday just to see the rest of the program that I missed!

*Click here and here for my blog posts on their past performances in D.C.