Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lucy and the Brain

Written by Nicole Richards-Sharpe

What would happen if you could use more than 10% of your brain? This is the interesting question posed by the newly released film, "Lucy", starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. Due to popular belief, humans are not allowed to use more than this amount.  The problem with this belief is that it is fictional, an urban legend. Humans, at different times, use all of our brain matter.  American writer, Lowell Thomas, misquoted psychologist Dr. William James and was the first to pen 10% as the capacity of human brain use.  Now back to Lucy. 

Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy, a woman who ends up forcibly transformed into a literal pack mule for a Chinese drug lord. When the drug bag she is carrying in her abdomen tears and releases the drug into her system, she is placed on a collision course where her brain gradually unlocks to its full potential.

While the film has an interesting premise, too many times I thought I was watching the Exorcist meets Paranormal Activity meets Salt.  While separate, these three movies might have been entertaining.  Together, it was just a mess. The choices of the director made the film come off fascinating at times and just plain wacky at others.  Also, the hyper-focused look on Scarlett Johansson’s face appeared to be more of a dumb, blank stare than one of a super smart person.  I read that Angelina Jolie was originally signed as Lucy but she later dropped out of the project.  She must have read the full script.

Morgan Freeman plays the scientist with the foremost knowledge of unlocking the brain’s potential whom Lucy tracks down to help her.  He was well casted but his part was minimal at best.  I know that the writers wanted to make a profound statement about humans and our potential to stop all wars and injustice as we allow our minds to develop to its full capacity in knowledge but that message was lost in translation.  The whole film was a convoluted mess.  I was excited about Lucy ever since I first saw the trailer months ago.  Boy was I disappointed.  After I saw the film, my brain activity decreased to 2%.  Be warned.                     

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cupcakes Grow In Brooklyn

 by Nicole Richards-Sharpe

So I finally made my way to Williamsburg to try out the new sensation-Brooklyn Cupcake.  I have seen it before and heard of it but I didn't have an inclination to jump on the bandwagon. Why? Because as a born and bred Brooklynite, I have built up a distaste for every business that I see popping up with the word Brooklyn in its name.  Non-Brooklynite entrepreneurs throw the name of my hometown around so loosely that it comes across as a cheap gimmick.

Upon watching a Sunny Anderson (Food Network chef) interview with the owners of Brooklyn Cupcake, I was happily surprised to find out that they were actually from Brooklyn. Carmen Rodriguez started the business with the help of her family when she was abruptly laid off from her job.  It is a heart-warming story of beating the odds and turning lemons into lemonade.  See the link to the interview below.

Now, to the Cupcakes!

There are over 20 flavors of cupcakes and I wanted to try them all, but alas, I narrowed it down to a few flavors - French Toast, Vanilla, Flan, Tres Leche and Coquito. I must tell you that when you bite into one, there is a burst of rich flavor that you are not expecting. I first tried the Tres Leche. It was heaven! Then the Coquito. The scent of rum is unmistakable. Of course heat kills the toxicity but it leaves behind that flavorful rummy taste. This cupcake was delectable. I bit into the Vanilla which was okay and then the French Toast.  It definitely lived up to its cinnamony name.

My favorite? Tres Leche! Coquito is a close second. Interestingly, Tres Leche is a popular Latin cake made of 3 milks, as its name indicates. Coquito is a legendary Puerto Rican drink made of, among other ingredients, coconut milk and rum. Yum!

My little outing to Brooklyn Cupcake was well worth the visit.  I will return to tackle the other flavors (after a little jog and a push up or two that is). Enjoy!