"All the world's a stage, and the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts."

- William Shakespeare

Monday, June 27, 2011


For years now - decades even - I've been convinced I couldn't cook. I've bragged about it, complained about it, even blogged about it!

But today I made a discovery that I may forever refer to as life changing.

I can cook.

All these years I thought it was me. It turns out all I needed was new cookware!!

I'm sure none of you believe me. I mean, you've all heard the horror stories - or worse - tasted them. The last time I tried to make an omlette, it ended up looking like this:

Not exactly appetizing, I know. It looks a heck of a lot like messed up scrambled eggs.

But yesterday my friend and I were hanging out and she was giving me some healthy tips (since I'm such a health nut now - and getting nuttier by the day) and one of said tips was to eat protein before bed. Not right before bed, 'cause that's just gross - and counterproductive. But protein in your last meal of the day is apparently a good thing. More specifically, egg whites.

And here's something you might not know about me. I love egg white omlettes. Spinach and cheddar egg white omlettes. But I can only ever get those when I go out for breakfast (which is almost never). Because I didn't think I could cook, remember?

Anyway, skip ahead 24 hours to 8pm this evening when I was digging around my kitchen looking for the rumoured non-stick pan my mother keeps someplace hidden. Due to my awesome sleuthing skills, I found the non-stick pan and poured my concoction of egg whites (which you can apparently buy in supermarkets!! who knew??!) and cheddar (my fridge was all out of spinach and I'd already spent my life savings on the egg whites - I'm a student, what do you expect?) into the pan and stared at it.

I stared at it for a good five minutes. Worrying the whole time that it would burst into flames.

It didn't though.

Eventually my weird, slimy mixture started turning white. Another five minutes and it was almost completely solid.

And here comes the best part!!

Once the entire top of my omlette-to-be had solidified, I started carefully poking at the edges, making sure if I were to flip it, it wouldn't fall apart on me (like every other time I've tried to make an omlette). I then placed my flipper (I may be able to cook, but you can't expect me to know the lingo!) under my eggs and turned it over and it stayed together!!

Long story short - take a look at the final product:

I made that. I made that. I know, it's hard to believe. In fact, many of you may think I'm not telling the truth because of the stark difference between what I ate for dinner tonight and that previous picture of a more pathetic dinner I ate a few months ago. But alas, it's true. I made that glorious looking (and even better tasting) omlette.

Larissa Benfey can cook.

Dude, now I'm beyond convinced that literally anything is possible.

Keep it real!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Write write!! Right?

There's nothing like a writing workshop to get you inspired to pick up that pen and paper (or in my case, computer) again. Don't get me wrong - I've been feeling mighty inspired lately anyway; in fact I find myself almost desperate for the chance to just sit down at my computer and write in longer than four minute increments... But today I went to a writing workshop that made me more than inspired. I think I'm actually feeling pretty optimistic.

The workshop was called "How to Write a Bestseller" and I learned a lot of really valuable information, met a best selling author and signed up for a creative writing class that'll take place in the fall - but none of those things were what really stuck with me.

What I really loved about today was something that happened during a writing exercise. We were given some pretty vague instructions on what our final product needed to accomplish and then were told to just start writing. So I looked around the room, trying to figure out what to write about. I kept thinking, it has to be something gripping, something people will want to read. Murder, mayhem, love... But I kept defaulting to ideas I'm already working on. And I couldn't do that. I knew I needed to make up something new. And suddenly a first line popped into my head. It had nothing to do with vampires, crimelords or valiant heroines... it had to do with a pen. A guy clicking a pen, to be precise. As soon as the first line appeared on the page, it's like everything else just spilled out until I found myself staring at almost two pages of writing.

I love writing exercises for this very reason. You think you've got nothing and then suddenly... you've got an entire scene playing out before your eyes that never used to exist.

Later on, we were asked to read our short scenes aloud to the rest of our table-mates. So I listened to the first lady read her work and it was pretty dern good. I looked down at my sheet and thought, my work is so juvenile next to hers. But it was my turn to read, so I did. And as I read I realized how different my 'voice' was than the lady next to me. Not better or worse - just different. And I think different just might work for me.

I keep reading all these books and try to emulate the way other writers write, but I think it's time to just accept my own style and move on. So I'm not the greatest writer of description - who cares? For some reason I seem to do the whole 'inside the character's head' thing to an extreme degree and focus almost completely on only the present circumstances said character is facing... and maybe nothing's wrong with that.

Of course, publication would really cement these wacky theories of mine - the whole 'my style is my style so just deal with it, world' theory, that is. But what can you do?

Oh yeah. Write. That's what I could do. People aren't too keen on publishing blank pages... so maybe I should hop to it, now that I'm done my random update/rant post.

I'd say 'keep it real!', but I'm actually going to end my post with that scene I wrote today. I'm kinda nervous about sharing it with a bigger audience than just my table-mates, but if I want to be a published author, I should probably get used to a couple more people seeing my work.

So... here it is. (Oh, and keep in mind, it's just supposed to be a scene, not a story...)

   He'd been clicking his pen for seven minutes now. Was is pathetic that I knew that? That I was keeping track? Well, what else was I supposed to do? I couldn't concentrate on anything else but that infernal clicking.
   He knew this was a library, right? I mean, he didn't look like the type to frequent libraries, but everyone had to know that libraries are meant to be quiet - noise-free.
   I glanced up at him again from my spot two tables away. His head was buried in a book; blond, shaggy hair falling into his face. You'd think he was sleeping if it wasn't for the small movement his thumb was making every two and a half seconds. Click... click.. click.
   Okay, I was seriously going to have a mental breakdown if this continued any longer.
   I pushed against my table to slide my chair back, but the legs of it must have caught on something because before I knew it, I was losing my balance and toppling to the floor -- making a hell of a lot more noise than his stupid clicking pen.
   My cheeks were already burning as I glanced around to see if anyone had noticed. Of course everyone's eyes were on me. The librarian at the front desk seemed to look as though she couldn't figure out whether to shush me or come see if I needed help. I'd much prefer the shush. I didn't want to endure further humiliation by suffering through any "are you okay"s.
   "Graceful," a voice suddenly scoffed from behind me and I felt hands being slid under my armpits. I was being hoisted to my feet before I had a chance to even wrench my neck around to see my unwanted rescuer.
   "Thanks, but I didn't need--" I said, turning to face -- Pen Clicker?! He was picking up the fallen chair now so I could only see the sandy mop on top of his head, but it was definitely him - one quick glance at his now unoccupied table confirmed it. I hadn't thought my cheeks could get any hotter, but they suddenly went nuclear.
   He straightened back up as he set my chair in its place. His pale green eyes were taking in my expression as a smile spread across his face.
   I cleared my throat.
   "--I didn't need help up."
   "Right. Because you did such a good job getting out of your seat the first time," he said, smirking.
   I opened my mouth, but snapped it shut again - completely at a loss for how to respond.
   "I'm sorry," he said, still smiling, though lowering his gaze, making his bangs fall back in front of his face. "I guess I should be asking if you're okay."

...yeah. That's all I wrote.

And now I'm going to go. So...

Keep it real!

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Class gets Top Marks

And not just in my books.

I've only heard good things about this movie - and, having already seen it three times, I can definitely vouch for it. X-Men: First Class rocked.

It made a modest $55 million since its opening on Friday and I'm hoping it'll stay in its top box office spot for at least another weekend more. If my movie attendance has anything to do with it, it will.

But enough with the vague compliments - let's get into the gritty details.

I guess I should start by saying that I am a huge X-Men fan. HUGE. So, sure, I probably have a bit of a bias, but I'll try to tone it down a bit. Still, being the big fan that I am, I very much appreciated all the small throw-backs to the previous three films interspersed throughout this one. Ashley Edward Miller and Zach Stentz proved their worth ten times over (they're the screenwriters, by the way). I mean, I actually left the theatre (the first time I watched it) thinking if there was anyone I could meet who worked on this movie, it'd be the screenwriters, because they did such a good job.

Of course, it wasn't just the throw-backs or the incredibly well-written characters - which, let me just say right now - for a comic book movie, these characters have no equal (except maybe Chris Nolan's Batman)... Add the fact that the plot (though a bit jumpy at times) was quite riveting and definitely entertaining and you've got yourself a script that I totally fall in love with.

Oh, and speaking of falling in love, I think it's time I give my two cents on some of the actors who brought these well-written characters to life.

Okay, I'll just come out and admit it. The actor who really caught my attention (and yeah, maybe my fancy too) was none other than Mr. Michael Fassbender - the one who played Erik Lehnsherr (aka Magneto). I thought he was amazing. And no, before you ask, it's not just because of his chisled jaw, leather jacket or sa-weet RayBans. I assure you, my legs go wobbly for a good performance just as much as they do for a good looking guy. So, let's just say I'm glad I was sitting to watch this movie...

Of course, there was Rose Byrne, whom I haven't seen since Troy, but that's just because I don't watch Nick Cage or Jonah Hill movies... Needless to say, I'm glad she's in better movies again. She's very good (in both this movie and another great one - Bridesmaids)!

James McAvoy plays a young Professor X... need I say more? We all know we've loved him since he appeared under a lamppost as Mr. Tumnus.

And one more definitely worth mentioning - Nicholas Hoult. Yep - the kid from About A Boy all growed up and only a year younger than me! When did that happen? He's actually kinda fantastic. In general. But especially in this movie.

If you could materialize two hours of a good time - it would look like a ticket to this movie. No joke and no exaggeration. Everything from the soundtrack to the interesting sets to the action scenes - it was all movie magic. I thoroughly enjoyed myself every time I watched it. So I have no doubt you - whoever you may be (and ps. you totally don't even need to be a superhero/comic book fan to love this movie) - will have a great time too.

Seriously - get out there and watch it!

:) Keep it real!