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WHY I LOVED: «THE QUEEN´S GAMBIT»

By Gabriela Aeberhard.

A show as good as THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT does not air every day.  Not only is the story compelling, but the characters are captivating.  There are so many good things to say about this show that I think it’s best to go point by point:


1) THE CHARACTERS:  Beth Harmon is one of those characters we are not likely to forget very soon.  Like her «almost» namesake Lisbeth Salander, she shows a degree of resilience, resourcefulness, courage, gumption and downright intelligence that would make anyone fall in love with her.  Other characters, such as Benny, Harry, Townes, Beth’s adoptive mother, Mr. Shaibel, or Jolene, are also memorable and feel REAL, they are completely believable and three-dimensional.   Beth herself grows and changes, she has a character ARC, which is often missing in so many fictional characters.

2) THE TOPIC:  The game of chess, to the unenlightened, is an enigma.  Too brainy and difficult to be taken lightly, in this film it’s handled like an Olympic sport, and the players are seen as athletes, people to be revered.  This show has done a lot to promote the game, and to raise its status among young people.  In the current digital era, it’s nice to be reminded that the most interesting and complex game is 100% analog and 1500 years old.

3) THE STORY/PLOT/THEME:  This is not just a show about competition and wanting to be the best, although of course it’s about that as well.  This is a coming-of-age story, a story about discovering oneself, about overcoming difficulties, perseverance, friendship, etc.  There are many different aspects of the story which raise interesting questions:  Who were Beth’s mother and father and why did they turn out the way they did?  Why was Beth adopted? What’s more important, nature or nurture, when it comes to talent?  What effect did drugs have on Beth’s success? What did fashion mean to her?  Why did she sleep (or not) with certain characters?

4) THE MESSAGE:  If there’s one message THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT leaves you with, it’s about the importance of friendship.  I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending but that is what I was left with at the end.  We all want the main character to triumph, and receive recognition, but it’s often lonely at the top.  The ending of this show is not really an ending, but a new beginning.

5) THE ACTORS:  Anya Taylor-Joy has all the makings of a star.  Her looks are striking enough to make you look twice, and special enough not to be mistaken for  anyone else.  She is perfectly bilingual in English and Spanish, having lived in Argentina for 6 years before settling down in the UK.  She says she fell in love with the character instantly, and I’m not surprised.  But many other actors are also memorable: her adoptive mom, her best friends, the other chess prodigies, even her High School nemesis!

6) THE HYPE:  Yes, it’s now being hailed as one of the MOST WATCHED Netflix shows ever.  That makes many people jump on the bandwagon, while others are turned off by that.  But the reason this show is so popular is that it’s truly good.  Also, it has been filmed with such care, such attention to detail in every sense, that it’s a feast for the eyes.

7) FINALLY, THE VERDICT:  If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?  If you have, why not watch it again?

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RECIPE FOR HOLIDAY COOKIES

Children will have a great time helping decorate the myriad shapes that can be cut from this basic cookie dough.

INGREDIENTS:

COOKIES

1/3 cup oz/90g butter or margarine, softened.

1/4 cup/6 oz/185 g granulated sugar.

1 teaspoon baking powder.

1/4 teaspoon salt.

1 egg.

1 tablespoon milk.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

2 cups/8 oz/250 g all-purpose (plain) flour.

ICING

1 cup/4 oz/125 g sifted confectioners (icing) sugar.

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1 tablespoon milk.

Few drops food coloring (optional).

METHOD FOR MAKING HOLIDAY COOKIES:

Preparation time: 30 minutes.

Chilling time: 3 hours.

Baking time: 7 to 8 minutes.

Makes 36 to 48 cookies.

For cookies, in a large mixing bowl beat the shortening and butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt; beat till combined. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for 3 hours, or till dough is easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of the dough to an 1/8-in/3-mm thickness. Using 2- or 2 1/2-in/5- or 6-cm cutters, cut dough into desired holiday shapes, such as hearts, shamrocks, eggs, rabbits, flags, angels, or stars. Place 1 in/ 2.5 cm apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in a preheated 375F/190C/Gas Mark 4 oven for 7 to 8 minutes, or till edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Remove cookies and cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, for icing, in a small mixing bowl stir together confectioners sugar, vanilla, and enough of the milk to make an icing of piping consistency. If desired, stir in food coloring. Use a piping bag and writing nozzle to decorate cookies with icing.

Per cookie 95 calories/399 kilojoules, 1 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 4 g total fat (2 g saturated), 11 mg cholesterol, 39 mg sodium, 12 mg potassium.

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HOW TO DO A JIGSAW READING

By Gabriela Aeberhard.

TIPS on doing a JIGSAW READING:

1) Read both parts quickly (the longer texts on the left and the shorter texts on the right, A-G) just to get an idea what they’re about.

2) Now read the first two paragraphs on the left more carefully, and look at the shorter texts of the right (A-G) to see if any seem to «fit» in the first space (number 1), but DON’T EXPECT to be able to get this one right. Sometimes I have two possible answers the first time I read it, and they could both be wrong, so I write them ON THE SIDE, as «possible answers».

3) Now read the second and third paragraphs on the left and look at A-G again. Now you might be able to find or choose the right one, but you still should not COMMIT. Just put your possible answer/s on the side.

4) As you read the third and fourth paragraphs and start looking for the answer to number 3, you might realize that you understand the texts much better, and that you see little clues in the texts that help you. I’m talking about information that clicks or doesn’t click with the other texts….

5) When you start looking for the answer to 4, it might become much easier. Everything starts to make sense now, and in general, 5 and 6 should be a lot easier. But this means that you might have to go back to 1 and 2 and CHANGE your answers…

DOING A JIGSAW READING TEXT REQUIRES LOTS OF PATIENCE, GOING BACK AND FORTH, AND NEVER GIVING UP, UNTIL ALL THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE TEXT FIT TOGETHER LIKE A PUZZLE!