101 things

Best Picture

One of my goals for the 101 in 1001 list is to see all the best picture nominees for the oscars (and then attend an Oscar party!). I kept getting confused about when the nominations list actually comes out, so I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see that they were announced! So for my (and your?) edification, here are the best picture nominees:

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

So far I’ve seen Boyhood, most of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Imitation Game. I LOVED Boyhood so much. I thought it was so effective and wonderful. Perhaps the best way to describe how great Boyhood was is to relay this little tidbit: I was with my parents and my mother wanted to go see Boyhood. She tried to explain it to my dad, saying that it is a movie filmed over 11 years with the same actors. He said, “Oh, so it’s a documentary?”
“No. It’s fictional.”
“Oh, so the actors change?”
“No. It’s the same actors over 11 years.”
“Oh, so it’s a documentary.”
“No! It’s a fictional movie, and the actors age at the same pace as the characters.”
“That sounds so stupid. Why would anyone do that? I don’t want to see it. It sounds dumb.”
…My mom won out, thankfully. And not only did my dad love it, he cried at the end. (He claims allergies ūüėČ )

Anyhow. I thought The Imitation Game was engrossing and solid, but I definitely don’t think it warrants a best picture win. Benedict Cumberbatch sure is good at being a brilliant misanthrope (see: Sherlock Holmes also), and I love that Alan Turing’s genius¬†contributions are getting more exposure, but it just wasn’t the amazeballs movie I wanted it to be.

Lastly, I remember enjoying what I saw of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I think I watched it on a plane and fell asleep at the end? It was quirky and enjoyable and weirdly beautiful. I guess it didn’t move me that much so as to deserve winning best picture (well, obviously I fell asleep, so was not super into it). But I didn’t see it in theaters and perhaps it lost a bit of it’s punch on the tiny airplane screen.

As I see the five remaining movies, I’ll update my opinion! (I’m sure you’re all waiting with bated breath…)

Since I last wrote I’ve seen both Selma and Whiplash. Selma was incredible. It was powerful and overwhelming and gave such an interesting and important view of the realities of the civil rights movement. It’s so relevant for today, as¬†there are still so many ongoing problems with racism in our country. One of the things that struck me was just how vital *so many* people were to the movement. I didn’t realize that although Dr. King was indeed the face of a large part of the movement, that¬†he relied so much on many, many other people both to accomplish things, and¬†to keep him going. I thought David Oyelowo’s performance was outstanding. He embodied¬†Dr. King, and¬†not as a caricature or a mimic. He brought so much depth to what often feels like a monolithic characterization of Dr. King. I’m very sad that Oyelowo wasn’t nominated for best actor.¬†Anyway, I would happily give this my vote for best picture.

Whiplash was also quite intense and excellent. I loved the music and have continued to listen to the soundtrack since seeing the movie. The movie put you in this kind of dark, rich, stressful, intense sonic world. It was also quite the mindfuck. You were never quite sure of the real motivation for anything J. K. Simmons’ character was doing. I wouldn’t quite say that I had nightmares afterwards, but I was absolutely in a very intense place throughout the night following the movie. This is definitely an interesting film with great performances, and it very much transports you to a whole other universe. If nothing else, I recommend listening to the soundtrack!


10 Albums

As part of my 101 in 1001, I want to do some deep listening to 10 albums. I decided that a meaningful way to select these albums was to ask people¬†around me which albums are especially meaningful/enjoyable to them. I asked people to go with their gut and select one album. Some people clearly have a better understanding of “one” than others, but I’m glad to get the suggestions. I’m not sure which 10 will be the official 10 for the purposes of my goal, but hopefully I’ll ultimately make my way through all of these albums (and more!). I’m also still soliciting suggestions, so feel free to comment with *your* favorite album! See the list after the jump…

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Parks, Part 2

The other night I went with a couple friends to dinner and a lecture. (Yes, that’s right. We’re old fogies and went to a lecture.) Anyway, after a supremely delicious meal at Mamnoon¬†we wandered over to the Seattle Town Hall to hear James McBride speak. We ended up taking this kind of weird route that entailed much confusion and just a little bit of adventure. We wandered down (literally down a hillside) this weird, poorly lit, slippery path between apartment buildings, and then continued to have to go through alleys and possibly¬†off-limit staircases to finally get to our destination. But¬†after some wandering, and midway through our little adventure, I realized we were in Freeway Park!

I had been to the park¬†before during a¬†conference at the convention center (which abuts the park). The conference was ridiculously boring, but it was so glorious¬†outside and I remember loving the confusing and at times Escher-like paths and stairways throughout the park. I didn’t take any pictures this time around (mostly because it was dark, and we were running late), but I have some from the first time I was there.

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In all — I fully recommend Freeway Park, but maybe avoid the hilliest portions (at least after dark, and not in the rain!).



Parks, Part 1

After making my (terrifyingly long) list of Seattle parks the other day, I figured I should get going on actually visiting parks! My boyfriend, T, and I like to take morning walks on the weekends, especially while the weather permits it. So I noticed there was a park within walking distance that I had never heard of or seen. Strange! So we went. It’s called the Ballard Corners Park, and it’s the weirdest little park I’ve ever seen.

Ballard Corners Park

Ballard Corners Park!

Located at the intersection 17th and 62nd NW, the park is meant to commemorate the many corner stores that formed the corner stone (ha. pun totally intended.) of Ballard back in the early 1900s. So we walked over to the park yesterday morning with breakfast sandwiches in hand to find that, lo and behold, there were stools and counters set up like a little soda shop or something.

Perfect for breakfasting

Perfect for breakfasting

There was also this sculpture, I guess I would call it, that looked like a little living room. It was made out of concrete and consisted of a sofa, a chair, and a table with a (non-functioning) lamp.

Just like a living room!

Just like a living room! (I know my couch says SQUAD in giant letters. Doesn’t yours?)

There was also a jungle gym set-up that had the strangest features. A set of monkey bars that twisted so the bars ultimately were vertical (instead of their usual horizontal). Also, a spinny thing that you can climb into and the addition of the body weight allows it to spin seemingly endlessly without effort. I don’t advise the use of this device just after eating, but it’s really cool.

I also managed to stop by the 14th ave NW boat launch. I’m not sure that I’ll really go to more of these boat launch ‘parks,’ but it was kind of lovely (minus the fact that everything was covered in goose dung). I did happen upon a lady¬†playing with her dog there, and walked up just as the dog bounded straight into the water after a ball. Wish I had gotten a little video of that… it was perfectly gleeful.

Photo Oct 05, 12 11 53 PM Photo Oct 05, 12 11 30 PM Photo Oct 05, 12 11 14 PM

Well, that’s it for parks for now! Two down… SO MANY to go!

Teensy Update, No. 70

I made my bed every day for one month! Aside from the instances of putting fresh sheets on the bed, it took only about 10-30 seconds each morning! I found that once I was doing it daily, I stopped my¬†cycle of turning my bed into a whirlpool¬†of blankets. Also, like everyone who started making their bed ever has said: yes, it really does make the room feel cleaner and less cluttered. It’s true. So, hooray for no. 70: make my bed every day for one month! I think this one’s a keeper.

No. 01: Make 10 things from pinterest

This entry could easily also be titled: No. 01: Be a Total Cliche. But I’ve been pinning things for awhile and it’s high time I started actually making them. I’ll plan on updating this entry as I attempt the various pins, because no one needs a whole post¬†on one recipe or organizational method.

Anyway! Here goes.

Number 1/10: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Casserole
This was a relatively easy recipe to make. I was totally craving something Mexican-inspired with black beans and sweet potatoes, and this just required chopping and baking. Easy. My thoughts for future recipe use: definitely dice the potatoes small (or plan on baking longer). Also: less cinnamon, and add some cayenne pepper and cumin. Perhaps tortilla chips, or a hard tortilla shell would be better than the soft tortillas. I love some good crunch. Tasty, though.


Number 2/10: Strawberry Drinking Vinegar
Relatively recently I went to an amazing meal via this cool new app called Dyne. During the meal¬†we were served this super refreshing, absolutely delicious drink made from purple shiso leaves, vinegar, and some other tasty things. I couldn’t stop thinking about the drink and how a fruity vinegar drink is kind of the ideal beverage for me: refreshing and light, sweet but not cloying. Anyway, I found this recipe on pinterest and decided to give it a go. It’s maybe 30 minutes worth of effort: you have to use a food processor and make some simple syrup, but it’s easy. And it turned out super tasty! Even the boyfriend and my housemates were pleased with the result. Here’s some picture proof!

Photo Oct 11, 5 51 21 PM



Number 3/10: Coleslaw
Recently some friends and I had a great October dinner of pulled pork sandwiches and dunkel beer. I was in charge of sides, and promptly decided that coleslaw would be a perfect mate for the meal.¬†This straightforward and tasty recipe totally did the job. It maybe took me a little longer to prep than the recipe said (prepping veggies always takes longer than I expect!), but was still rather quick. Next time maybe I’ll slightly cut back on the mayo, or possibly up the amount of cabbage. (It’s also possible I did not use enough cabbage as I didn’t measure; I just used what was on hand.) Also, selecting a pepper with a hint of heat would probably be awesome, but even the bell pepper gives it a nice, crisp freshness.
Photo Oct 22, 8 07 18 PM



Number 4/10: Berry Rosemary Cocktail
I loved this one! A friend decided to have a cocktail party for her birthday where some basic liquors were provided (gin and whiskey), and everyone invited was asked to bring some kind of ingredient with which to make a cocktail. There were some excellent cocktails made throughout the night, I can vouch! A highlight for me was suddenly declaring that I wish someone would make a cocktail with egg whites (a favorite of mine), and immediately being given the leftovers for a delicious whiskey sour that had just been made! Perfection. Anyway, this recipe was simple and I liked it. Sweet, but not cloying. Herbal. Some tasters would have preferred it be strained, but I liked the berry chunks. I almost forgot that the recipe called for simple syrup (which I had to make), but otherwise it was incredibly quick & easy. Two thumbs up!
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Number 5/10: Sweet Dreams Baby Afghan
This was a true labor of love. Two of my first-cousins-once-removed (what a mouthful) each had a baby recently! They are adorable and I wanted to make them a little something to welcome them into the world. As I’ve been on a bit of an afghan kick and have been wanting to learn to make granny squares, I chose this pattern that little Harrison seems to enjoy ūüôā Things I learned in the process of making this: however much you want to be done with the project, do NOT cut your ends super short to avoid weaving them in (even though granny squares leave you with approximately 50 billion ends). They will come undone and the whole thing will start to unravel just creating MORE WORK. Ughhh. I was so mad, and the only person I could be mad at was myself. Bah. Here’s a baby to cheer us all up:

Baby Harrison and his mama

Baby Harrison and his mama


Number 6/10: Da Bomb Deviled Eggs
I was invited to a super fun Friendsgiving, and as the hostess expressly requested deviled eggs (and no one had yet taken on that job), I nominated myself. I had never made them before and was concerned that I wouldn’t do them justice. (I am an accomplished deviled egg eater, but that doesn’t mean I could¬†recreate the magic.) Anyhow, this recipe was fairly easy. It came out a bit sweet to my taste, which I mitigated by adding a bit more vinegar and going with a dijon mustard (instead of honey mustard). After making these¬†I vowed I would never eat eggs again (a total lie), and my house smelled like so many farts, but the deviled eggs got gobbled up pretty quickly so it was definitely a success! No pics because I was too slow, and mad at them for being so eggy, and then they were gone.


Number 7/10: 10-minute spinach lasagna
The name of this recipe is a bold-faced lie, but it was totes delicious and that’s what counts. There’s not much to share about this other than it was super tasty, straightforward, and made me significantly less hungry after I ate it. Boom.


Number 8/10: DIY Pillowcase Tote
Not that long ago I acquired a sewing machine. I think when I was in middle school I technically learned to use one in Home Ec and made a horrific apple pillow with a felt worm coming out of it. It looked something like this, but bigger and horribler. Anyhow. I have not touched a sewing machine since, and I wanted and easy project to start. This one seemed easy, but as I was not at a point where sewing in a straight line was in my skill-set, it was a bit harder than I anticipated. Also, the instructions seemed to leave out some steps… or perhaps I’m just a big dummy (equal likelihood, frankly). My favorite part of this project was that when I first finished it looked SO UGGO and ill-proportioned, and I was able to troubleshoot and make it significantly less awful. Yay for me! Plus, it holds things! That’s basically the whole purpose of a bag anyway. Check it out, below:



Number 9/10: Chunky Feather and Fan Crochet Afghan
This was a fun one to make! Once I got the hang of the pattern, it came together really quickly. I totally enjoyed working with a huge hook (it made me feel like an little kid using a giant crayon), and as I was making this for my grandmother who first taught me how to knit, it was also meaningful. For some reason I had some difficulty keeping the number of stitches the same on each row, but ultimately I kind of gave up and just made sure it looked right. Details – pah!

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Number 10/10: Crochet Grocery Bag
This turned out to be a one-day project, which I looooved. The pattern was easy to follow, and it came together quickly. And it’s actually making me want to go grocery shopping so I can see how much I can fit into this absurdly stretchy bag! If the bag ends up working out well, I might make others for myself/friends because I have a ton of this orange yarn left over from another project.
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No. 23: Officiate a Wedding!

This past weekend I officiated a wedding! When I added this to my 101 things in 1001 days¬†post I knew it was going to happen, so I’m not sure if that’s cheating, but it is such a momentous thing that I thought it merited being on the list. I kind of still can’t believe it’s over, and my mind is sort of a jumble of thoughts and feelings that I haven’t fully sorted out. Thus, I will apologize ahead of time for the discombobulated nature of this post, but here are some assorted thoughts, feelings, and pictures from the wedding weekend!

Photo Sep 15, 2 05 05 PM

Taking my oath to legally pronounce the marriage in Yolo county, Californa! Seriously. YOLO. You can call me Commissioner Bakst. (Picture from SS)

Photo Sep 13, 1 09 30 PM

The bride making love to the camera. Also utilizing the genius post-it trick to collect fallout (?). Is that what it’s called?




The gorgeous bride, F, and her lovely and wonderful best friend. (Picture from AM)

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Me and my main man, T! We’re all fancified.

Photo Sep 14, 3 38 05 PM

Oh, just for fun here’s me being a creeper with my housemate at the airport.


Those are the few pictures I collected of the weekend (and some of those weren’t even mine)! I haven’t been involved in (or even invited to) all that many weddings, but one thing that struck me about this one is that in all the prep the few days before, in all the speeches that were made, in all the things I heard wedding guests saying, everyone was just so full of love for the couple, and so invested in their happiness. Each person did so much to make the wedding go smoothly. And B and F (groom and bride, respectively) were champions. They managed their stress like bosses and did an amazing job of being present with their guests while still enjoying themselves (or at least I’d like to think they enjoyed themselves!).

I have to say that being an officiant was both amazing and amazingly difficult. I was the only one who knew the whole ceremony beforehand. I wrote my own introduction to the ceremony, and helped write and edit most other parts of the ceremony from the marriage pledge and pronouncement to the community vow. I helped make sure that readers prepped their speeches and gave the bride and groom feedback on their vows. It was an amazing thing to be part of. I also sang two songs (and played guitar) for the processional!

Standing up at the front watching F come down the aisle toward B was a beautiful sight. And being able to sing to them as it happened, and stand up there with them as they read their vows to each other was incredibly meaningful. Frankly, I’m getting teary just thinking about it. But doing all of this stuff was also unbelievably challenging. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety issues (in life in general), and this definitely intensified everything. Adding to that was the ridiculous heat — it was 100 degrees out when we did the ceremony (outside), and being all done up in formal wear, playing guitar, and¬†singing… well, it was daunting. I was also sick. Of course. I had been running a bit of a fever the previous 4 or 5 days, and had also gotten my period. The bottom line is that all of those things conspired to make me incredibly anxious.

I have been seeing a therapist for the last few weeks and I thankfully had an appointment right before I left for the wedding. One of the things we talked about was how my anxiety may be to a point where it is interfering with my happiness and mental health, but it also tells me about what is important to me. Being so anxious about the ceremony makes sense: I value my relationships with F and B, I take marriage and the responsibilities of an officiant seriously, I value my health and my mental well-being… so ideally I can turn the gain down on all this anxiety, but it’s not irrational. It’s just intense.

And ultimately, I did it! And I would like to think that I did it well. I will always be the person that married them, and I am still completely awestruck at that fact. In these days after the wedding I am at once so relieved, happy, and exhausted, and I still cannot believe it’s all over! I wish F + B many years of happiness and health and I cannot wait to see what comes next for them. (Well, literally what comes next is a bomb honeymoon in Hawaii. JEALOUS.)

And with that, Commissioner Bakst out.


101 in 1001

Eeek! There’s this trend: 101 things in 1001 days. The idea is to ¬†make a list of 101 things that you want to accomplish in 1001 days. The goals can range from very small (writing the list itself), to very big (go to Europe), but they have to be concrete. I read a friend’s list awhile ago and finally got around to making one myself. (Maybe the ‘small’ goal of writing the list was not as small as I originally suspected.)

Anyway, here’s my list! I’ll try to stick with it and update it as things are accomplished. Today is 27 August 2014 and in 1001 days it will be 24 May 2017. Holy mackerel. This feels exciting, overwhelming, and also kind of not really anything yet (as internet hopes and dreams often are).

Okay. Let’s gear down and do this.

01. Make 10 things from pinterest. (10/10 Sweet potato black bean casserole September 2014, Strawberry Vinegar Drink October 2014, Coleslaw October 2014, Berry Rosemary Cocktail October 2014, Sweet Dreams Baby Afghan November 2014, Da Bomb Deviled Eggs December 2014, 10-Minute Spinach Lasagna December 2014, DIY Pillowcase Tote December 2014, Fan and Feather Afghan February 2015, Crochet Grocery Bag February 2015)
02. Learn to change my oil.
03. Visit Glacier National Park.
04. Visit Yellowstone National Park.
05. Take a road trip along the (Washington/Oregon/California) coast.
06. Join an intramural ultimate frisbee league.
07. Write a new song (most recently The Long Goodbye).
08. Complete an arrangement for Seatown¬†(I arranged one song on my own for Seatown during my tenure in the group — Turn it Around — and just recently helped a friend arrange the Chanukkah song Ma’oz Tzur. I’m counting that as complete.)
09. Crochet an afghan (technically I’ve crocheted two baby afghans, but I’m still working on my adult-sized one!) (Fan and Feather February 2015).
10. Knit something that is not a scarf (while this was originally designed to get me to knit a pair of socks, which I haven’t done, I’ve crocheted a bunch of octopi, a sweater, and multiple scarves, so I’m counting this one).
11. Go to a Mariner’s game (4/10/15).
12. Go to a Sounders game (10/4/15 — and they won!).
13. Complete a sprint triathlon.
14. Embrace a minimalist spirit and get rid of things I don’t need. (Clothes & old papers August 2014, at least 6 trash bags worth of donatables, 2 bags of trash & recycling each, and a carload of furniture! November 2014)
15. Floss every day for a month. (October 2014)
16. Bring my lunch to work every day for 2 weeks.
17. Make a big dinner once a week, freeze leftovers, eat those throughout the week… for one month.
18. Go on a bike trip.
19. Go camping (not in the winter).
20. Go on a backpacking trip.
21. Grow something (edible) in my garden and then eat it (spinach, rosemary, others?).
22. Ride on a motorcycle (technically it was a scooter, but it had two wheels, I wore a helmet, and held on for dear life; January 2015).
23. Officiate a wedding. (September 2014)
24. Do a photoshoot with someone (as the photographer).
25. Try a hot tub boat.
26. Keep a book club going for 5+ books (November 2014 marked the fifth meeting!).
27. Read The Count of Monte Cristo out loud with T (February 2015).
28. Acquire tools to make a marimba.
29. Make a marimba.
30. Visit every park in Seattle (3/417).
31. Practice mindfulness mediation at least 10 minutes a day for a month.
32. Publish a paper as a second author.
33. Publish a paper as a first author.
34. Finish my PhD (?!) (holy shit) (please be true) (12/9/16 thank fucking god).
35. Learn to make two cocktails well (let’s say one gin-based and one whiskey).
36. Store family and friends’ birthday info in useful some way (either in a contacts book, or digitally) (Birthday Sweet app October 2014).
37. Host a murder mystery party.
38. Participate in a scavenger hunt.
39. Re-read a book (To Kill a Mockingbird).
40. Go one month without shopping (for anything beyond necessities).
41. Read 5 biographies.
42. Learn to use Illustrator (created a poster and a resume in Illustrator November 2014).
43. Teach my own course (Fundamentals of Vision, Spring 2015).
44. Teach a course at a community college.
45. Travel to someplace in Europe.
46. Visit Hawaii.
47. Take a cruise to Alaska (June 26-July 3 2016!).
48. Run a 5k with my mom (I did not do this, to be clear, but I did run a 5k with a friend of mine and I did go on a run with my mom. So… I’m counting it!).
49. Run a 5k with my dad (Similarly, I went on a long [for me] run with my dad in September 2016 so I’m counting it!).
50. Play ultimate with my brother.
51. Move into a new apartment (December 1 2014!).
52. Commute to work by bike for a month.
53. Visit a friend in a different city (Becca and Joc labor day weekend 2016 in New York!).
54. Practice my french on Duolingo every day for 2 weeks.
55. Buy a water bottle that I really like. (October 2014)
56. Drink 2 full bottles of water from said water bottle daily for at least a week (October 2014).
57. Attend (or somehow create a small version of) my high school reunion (I’m gonna be a little loosey-goosey here again, but I saw a BUNCH of high school friends at a wedding this summer, so I think that should surely count).
58. See a therapist. (August 2014 & Ongoing!)
59. Think of 101 things. (Surprisingly difficult.) (August 2014)
60. Set it up so that leahbakst.com links here! (November 2014)
61. Finish the scrapbook from my trip to Israel.
62. Take pictures using 10 rolls of film (and get them developed).
63. Take a carpentry class.
64. Make my mom a calendar.
65. Attend a friend’s intramural sports game with posters and cheer (no posters, but made up for that by cheering super loud! Go local field potentials!).
66. Attend a Huskies basketball game.
67. Take a hip hop dance class (started in October 2014).
68. Take enough ballet to go on pointe.
69. Learn to develop film.
70. Make my bed every day for a month. (September 2014)
71. Make my own espresso drinks for a week.
72. Go without coffee for a week.¬† (September 2014; getting sick helped with this, but I’ll take it)
73. Get up-to-date on my ‘board games to be blogged about’ list.
74. Learn to play Twilight Struggle.
75. Recruit a third person to try Damage Report with (3rd AND 4th players, September 2014).
76. Finish Myst.
77. Learn to drive stick.
78. Organize non-hung photos and store them in a reasonable way (September 2014).
79. Learn to do a handstand.
80. No snacks for a week.
81. Take a pottery class.
82. Take a trip with my mom.
83. Write a newsletter for T once every 2 weeks for 2 months (4 newsletters).
84. See all of the best film nominees for the oscars (5/8).
85. Attend an oscar party.
86. Go ice skating.
87. Go skinny dipping.
88. Read all of the books on my shelf.
89. See the aurora borealis.
90. Go tubing (as in, lazy river style).
91. Film at least one episode of my own news/science program.
92. Retake calculus (for free, online).
93. Complete the python course at codecademy.com. (October 2014)
94. Build an app.
95. Host an iron chef-type competition.
96. Host a ‘come as your middle/high school self’ party.
97. Learn to flip something (like an egg or pancake) in a pan (without a spatula!).
98. Make gefilte fish.
99. Make sourdough bread.
100. Make a list of 10 albums, and them really listen to them (no distractions).
101. Save $10 for each goal I meet.