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The (Cookie) Monster in All of Us (Movie Monday: Blooper Reel Edition)

The only thing that makes pop culture iconography better is when it involves Cookie Monster. Like the Siri/iPhone commercial where CM is waiting impatiently for Siri to count down the timer for his cookies in the oven. I have this theory that as adults we love CM as much as (or more than) we did as kids, because we’re all a little bit Cookie Monster, really, deep inside.

Apple just released the outtakes from the filming of that commercial. I have a bad feeling this is exactly how I’d be on set. Or in real life. Or all the time. So, enjoy.

Accio Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

I’m not saying I’m lazy, but sometimes it’s a lot of trouble getting up off my couch.

For one thing, it’s an old couch—well, love seat, really—and it doesn’t look like a sinkhole, but like a lot of older things, it’s not as springy as it used to be. Especially when you’ve been smooshed into the corner for a few episodes of Agents of Shield on Netflix. And by “a few” I mean long enough to get the “Are you still watching?” message. (Don’t judge. We all have our days.)

tea earl grey Also, I’ve got an ottoman pushed up against the front of it. This isn’t for me–my legs are short enough that I can sit comfortably sideways. It’s for the dog, who insists on being next to me whether it’s convenient or not. Usually not. But because I don’t want her (or anything else, like my snacks) to fall into the crack between the ottoman and the couch, I put this very specific quilt over both, and my legs hold it in place. And then Penny insists on being covered up by another very specific blanket. And then I often have my laptop on my, well, lap.

Which is all to say that every time I have to get off the couch, even just to pour another cup of tea, I have to set aside my laptop where it won’t get stepped or sat on, kick off one afghan, swing my legs over the dog, over the ottoman, which pushes me further into the La Brea Cushion Pit so that I have to shove myself up and out, somehow managing not to scoot the sofa back, the ottoman forward, or dislodge the quilt-hammock and drop Penny into the couch chasm.

That’s assuming she doesn’t jump up and start bounding around the sofa trying to grab the afghan and pull it back over herself, or just generally make a nuisance of herself.

I tell you all this because it is not at all infrequent that I wish I had a house elf to bring me a cup of tea. Then I feel guilty for wishing I had a house elf. So I wish I had Mrs. Weasley’s domestic spell skill set so I could just accio a nice cuppa without it becoming a whole production. Because of course once the dog is disturbed, there’s no guarantee she’ll settle down again soon. (In fact, it’s almost a certainty that as soon as I’m ensconced once more, and have rearranged the ottoman/quilt/afghan/laptop to their original positions, she will ask to go outside.)

Anyway. This is what made me think about the conveniences of magic. (I mean, more than I usually think about how cool it would be to have magic.) Yeah, it would be something to be the Dark Lord and take over the world and all, but enough

Penny Undercover

Shhh. I’m undercover(s).

money will let you do the same thing. What intrigues me–and this is why I’m a writer, I guess–in any fantasy or high-tech science fiction world is the way it would affect daily life. The way you brush your teeth or make your bed or call for a taxi.

The fact that (other than the ability to apparate or the invention of a transporter, and even then maybe not) the spell I find myself wishing for most is the “accio” spell. You know, for those times when the remote control is…just…out…of…reach.

Not because I’m lazy, though.

Just because it would be cool.

 

Thor vs. the White Whale (Movie Monday: seafaring edition)

I am a total geek for maritime history. I’m a total geek about a lot of things, but my love of all things Tall Ship related goes under the radar because it hasn’t come up in a book yet (which is about to change). There’s actually a long seafaring tradition on both sides of my family–with Dutch pirates privateers and East India Company merchant marines on one side and captains in the Texas Navy and WWII Gulf patrol boats on the other. CH Heart of the sea.jpg

I, on the other hand, get seasick at the IMAX and am sort of afraid of drowning. So much line my love of ballet and swordfighting, my love remains theoretical rather than practical.

Which is all to say that I was really geeked about The Heart of the Sea movie, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth. It’s based on a book about the real life whaling ship Essex, and its bizarre encounter with a monster whale that attacked the ship and sank it like a son of a bitch (link). As the trailer points out, it’s “the true story that inspired Moby Dick.” Which is a terrible tagline, because I know how 99% of my English class felt about reading Moby Dick. They should have tagged it: “Chris Hemsworth fights a giant whale.”

01-heart-sea-lead-image.jpgIf only.  I mean, that happens, and it’s cool. And leading up to that is about 30-40 minutes of topgallants and capstans and fo’c’sles and gales and a whole mess of money shots of badass sailorific seatasticness.

Then the whale sinks the ship, leaving our crew adrift and marooned with no food or water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which might as well be Mars. Only without Matt Damon to science the shit out of things. So it gets grim.*

And that’s the main flaw of this movie—not that things go to a dark, Donner party place. But that it happens about halfway in, and that’s a lot of movie time to spend with your characters literally adrift. Heart of the Sea Hemsworth.jpg

It’s a “man’s will to survive” story from there, and so the hardest decision they make to survive should be the climax of the movie. In the framing story where the last living crewman of the Essex relates this story, Brendan Gleeson sells this reveal in a fantastic bit of acting, one of those two minutes of a movie where the veteran basically gives a masterclass to rest of the cast. (See also, Peter O’Toole asking Brad Pitt’s Achilles for Hector’s body back in Troy. Also, Michelle Fairley plays Gleeson’s wife, which made my nerd heart so happy.)In-the-Heart-of-the-Sea-Brendan-Gleeson-Ben-Whishaw.jpgWhere was I?  Oh yeah. Basically, once you find out what’s haunting Gleeson’s character, the story should have wrapped up as quickly as possible.

So from a movie-watcher standpoint, the first hour or so was really satisfying to watch. The rest was a bit grueling, but Gleeson gives some payoff there. And I got knitting done.

On the other hand, I thought about the movie for a long time, because there were a lot of great ingredients that should have made a more delicious stew.**  How would I restructure this? Some deeper characterization would have been nice, and if the actual sinking were moved to the Act III break instead of the midpoint, that would allow for that plus more white whale action.***  Then recognize where the story really ends, and bring it home from there.

Or, we could just make a movie of Mad Eye Moody and Catelyn Stark play a married couple running a tumbledown boarding house full of eccentric characters who pay their rent in chickens and gillyweed.

So, this a wait for Netflix one, I’m sad to say. There’s some good stuff here, it’s just kind of out of balance. Everything aboard the Essex delighted and excited. When the story turns dark, it’s simply spread over too much screen time.But Gleeson gives some payoff there. And I got knitting done.

In the meantime, rent Master and Commander. That one has beat to quarters in the first three minutes, takes it’s lull in the middle, then gets all broadsides and boarding party again for the end.

 


*Here’s where I discovered that I have this ability–maybe it’s a talent, maybe it’s just a bad habit–of mentally glossing over the stuff I don’t like about a story, either ignoring it or completely rewriting it in my head. (Like the movie I talked about last week. Something happens to the little dog offscreen, and in my head, I’m like, oh, the dog totally got away, to the point where I convinced myself that actually happened, not just maybe happened if you’re in serious denial. So, sorry about that if anyone was traumatized. But it lead to my discover of the site Doesthedogdie.com. So that’s a plus.)

**This is kind of an unfortunate analogy for this movie.

***This is not a euphemism for anything dirty.

Four Ways I’m Kinda Colorful

(See what I did there? In a post about coloring as a hobby? Hilarious, right? But there are actually four things you may not know about me hidden in this post.)

Okay, so, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that for adults is A Thing. A Thing that I was doing before it was cool. (*Pushes up horn-rimmed glasses*)

boredpandajohanna-basford-14__880

Courtesy of Johanna Branford via Google images via Buzzfeed via Bored Panda. (Hey, at least I’m trying to be a good blog citizen.)

Leaving aside the fact that Carl Jung used it with his patients, and that he based this on the drawling of colorful mandalas that were traditional (and sacred) in India (and elsewhere), the Huffington Post covered it in October 2014, and the Telegraph mentioned it in a June 2014 article on relaxation.  Then Bustle had an article in October 2015, and in December it was on Fox News which may indicate the wave has crested.

There’s are psychological and sociological reasons for why coloring is relaxing (uses both halves of the brain, the focus is meditative, we’re all a little bit in Neverland refusing to grow up…), and I was going to post about that, but instead I’ll just telling a story and post some links.

So, my dad had a type of dementia that affected his language, so he struggled to form a sentence, but he loved to color his Dover books birds of the world, or underwater scenes, or flowers, or ships, or horses…All those things. I can’t see a Dover coloring book without thinking of him. (In a good way.)

Moving on…

So, the great part is coloring stuff is front and center, I don’t have to feel guilty (not that I did) about using expensive art pens and pencils for my hobby, and a quick Google or Pinterest search nets all kinds of printable pages. Here’s a few that tickled my eclectic tastes. (Follow the links to the source for colorable sized art.)

Starting at the beginning: the Secret Garden by Johanna Basford led the charge in 2013, and here is a link to the Guardian which has five sample pages in .pdf form.

SecretGardenpic

Hoe heerlijk is dit kline meisje? The drawing below is from a Dutch blogger. And since Ik ben nederlandse (en andere dingen), Ik wil koppelen aan haar blog. (Translation: click here to go to her blog and her art.)

kleurplaat-butterfly-tattoo-400x562

 

A personal favorites: Vintagecoloring.com (The Curator Prime is my multi-talented friend Heidi. Shh.) She’s collected art from antique sources for some beautiful themed books (Amazon link), and she publishes free coloring pages on Fridays, like this one below.

2015_1204_vintagecoloringfreefriday

If you haven’t noticed, I like pictures with people. (Not unrelated, I guess, to the fact that I’m more likely to pick up a book with a person on the cover.) I have a particular weakness for the fashion history books from the aforementioned Dover publications. (Because I’m only a fashionista when it comes to bygone days.) Like this Fashions from the Roaring Twenties page (which links back to Dover’s site).

Fashions of the Twenties Dover

So, that’s my show and tell. Any recommendations for me? You know, in my copious spare time when I’m not slaving away on my next masterpiece? (Which I am.)

 

Recent-ish Science Fiction Movies That I Think Didn’t Suck

popcorn-1085072_640It’s just embarrassing how long it sometimes takes me to see a movie, even once it comes out of iTunes. Really Sad, becasue I don’t really have an excuse. Except, I guess for working all the time. (Pinterest and Tumblr are work, right?)

So among all the other things I’m catching up with in 2016 (The Year Where I Get Caught Up on S***) are movies. Maybe you are, too. Or maybe you don’t get that much time to watch movies, and you want an opinion so you don’t waste your limited iTunes budget/Netflix time on something lame. So I offer you this diffinitive guide:

Relatively Recent Science Fiction Movies That Didn’t Suck (in my humble opinion)

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Just getting the obvious one out of the way. I freaking loved this movie. I was the absolute last of my friends to see it, and sometimes after a movie has been out for… oh, lets say a month… some of the bloom comes off of it.  Well, TFA is blooming awesome. I laughed, I cried, I squee’d. I had ALL THE FEELS. Then I had all the thoughts about my feels, then thoughts about storytelling, and this movie is actually probably worth it’s own post, maybe when the Blu-Ray comes out.
  2. The Martian. Another movie that my friends pretty much all liked or loved. I loved it. When I’m at home, I measure the engagement factor of a movie based a lot on how many rows of knitting I get done during the run time. The Martian scored a “1” which is about as good a score as you can get. The plot is that astronaut Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars and then he has to science a way to stay alive until they can figure out a way to rescue him. I was totally engrossed and invested in Watney’s survival. Matt Damon always makes me want his character to be all right (even sociopaths like Tom Ripley).  But with such a strong cast, I felt how invested their characters were in getting Watney home, so I wanted THEM to succeed. So, great actors and Ridley Scott to find the heart in this really sciency story. (I loved it, but I was exausted at the end.)
  3. Time Lapse is on Netflix right now, so it’s free to take a chance on it. The professional reviewers didn’t seem to like it as much as I did, but that’s not unusual. It’s got a very “indie” feel to it (all takes place on limited sets, lots of silences and slow, minimalist piano music), but that’s what I liked about it. The premise (Three friends discover a camera that takes pictures 24 hours into the future) isn’t totally original, but I liked watching how the paradoxes and inevitabilities played out. It’s a good Netflix movie—I was glad I watched it, because I wouldn’t have payed movie theater prices to see it. (Plus I got more knitting done in this one).

I also enjoyed the heck out of Jurassic World, but I couldn’t think of a fifth movie, and the lists look weird when they stop on four, like you’re not decisive enough to pick three, but you lack commitment to go to five.

So help me out. What should I download next in my quest to catch up with 2015?

Some Psyches Are a Bit Passive-Aggressive. Just Saying.

addtext_com_MDAyMDIwNjI1MjU1A confession: Though it may appear that I only write on this blog every month or so, this is untrue. The truth is, I write a lot—I mean, a lot—that I end up not using. (Much like my manuscripts.)

Let me share the titles of some of the drafts in my folder:

Please Don’t Reset the Year Until I Get to a Save Point. — In which I feel really bad about David Bowie and Alan Rickman dying within a week of each other, but I accomplished a Major (and overdue) Thing and I really don’t want to have to do it again, because it was hard the first time.

My Word for 2016 is ‘Badass.’ — Pretty much what it says it is.

Death and Taxes — As in, the only two things in life that are certain. (This was kind of a downer.)

OMGSTARWARS! — Too many feels to contain. Too many spoilers to post.

All I Want to Do is Keep a Schedule, So Why Do I Need All These Stickers and Colored Pens? — In which I type the word “Planner” into the Pinterest search bar and get sucked into a Filofax-LifePlanner-Hobinachi-SmashJournal Wormhole. (I found out I really like just a Moleskine and a pen. Maybe I color code it a little. Okay, a lot.)

It’s Not You, WordPress, It’s Me. Is blogger’s block a thing? What if I’m only brilliant 140 characters at a time? I have a master’s degree in communication! Social Media shouldn’t be this hard! *sobs into couch cushions*

 

Yeah, I’m totally making this harder than it should be. Don’t try this at home.

No, really. Don’t. I have years and years of training.

Why would anyone write things and then throw them out?  Especially, you know, a professional writer. Well, I’ll tell you. Here’s a sample conversation in my head.

addtext_com_MjM1NzM2MjE1NTk1Me: La la la, I’m so happy to be writing a blog post today. I hope people enjoy reading it.

(Metaphorical) Devil on my shoulder: Oh honey, no. There was a school shooting today, so you’d better post something Important and Profound.

Me: Man, that makes me angry and sad. I’d much rather post about how much I love colored pens.

Devil: Hmmm. Better not post anything. Then we can go get a cherry lime slush from Sonic.

Me: Mmmm… Sonic.

The devil on my shoulder is kind of a passive-agressive asshole.

And then there’s this:

(Metaphorical) Angel on my shoulder: You know what Every Single Writing Article ever says: you’re not a Real Writer if you don’t write every day.

Me: But I didn’t write yesterday.

(Metaphorical) Devil on my shoulder: Then you must not be a Real Writer.

Me: Okay, then. I’m going to sit here and stare at this blank screen until I’ve writtten something.

*stare*

*stare*

Me: Maybe I’ll be inspired if I look at Pinterest for awhile.

Angel: DO NOT TOUCH THAT TRACKPAD, YOUNG LADY.

Me: *touches trackpad*

Devil: You know, if you were a real writer, you would have written 10 pages by now. Just look at all those Real Writers posting their word counts on The Twitter.

Angel: Do NOT even THINK about clicking over to— DAMMIT!

Me: Wow. Those are some Real Writers.

Devil: Yep. And you haven’t written anything in two days now.

Me: I must not be a Real Writer.

Devil: My work here is done. Let’s go to Sonic.

This isn’t just a writer thing.  I know I’m not the only one who thinks “Welp, I’ve blown my calorie count for the day, so I might as well have this ice cream sundae.”

(It occurs to me that I might be a little hungry as I’m writing this.)

ANYWAY…

I’m not any crazier than the next person (in this regard)–we all have an inner passive-agressive asshole. (It gets it’s script from all the outer passive-agressive assholes we’ve met in our lives). But we don’t have to listen.

(I just cut a lot of metaphor about volume dials and car radios on bumpy roads. You’re welcome.)

So, I’ve managed to post a blog before January is over. (*makes checkmark in turquoise for social media task*) And I even I managed to work it around to a takeaway point.

My work here is done. And Sonic is open for another 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Four Calling Birds

I’ll bet you thought Christmas was over. Psych! Today is the fourth of the twelve days of the liturgical season of Christmas, which means that as far as Christian Christmas is concerned, I am not actually late with my Christmas cards. Or presents. Whatever.

This is actually my favorite time of the season, because the blitzkrieg of Christmas Shopping commercials has ceased, I still have my little Christmas rosemary tree decorated, everyone is in a pretty good mood because the shopping pressure is over and they’re spending their holiday gift money and the mood is generally one of hope for good things in the new year. Plus, you don’t have to worry about offending anyone with “Happy New Year” because it applies to everyone. (Except for the Chinese, I suppose.)

And I don’t have to worry about Santa Claus breaking into my house  for another year. *shudder*

I guess this is why I’m able to create such a separation in my mind between American Secular “Christmas” and what I commemorate as a Christian. They don’t even really fall on the same days if you’re being pedantic technical about it.

But what I really want to say is that whatever you celebrate (even if it’s just the fact you won’t have to hear “Jingle Bells” for another nine months), I wish you joy of it. In the longest nights of midwinter, one thing we all share is faith that the dark will get lighter, and a new year brings the hope of peace on Earth to people of good will.

And lots and lots of poultry.

Calling Birds Stamp 1977

Stamp Issued in 1977