Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book and Movie Review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson



     Miss Pettigrew is the impoverished daughter of a vicar who has been turned out by her employer once again. In desperation, she goes to the employment agency, and gets assigned to a Miss LaFosse, presumably to help in the nursery as a governess.
     When she arrives at Miss LaFosse’s flat, she finds a woman in a silky robe, a strange man inside, and a boatload of romantic entanglements that need her special brand of common sense.
     This is such a fun and lighthearted novel. The characters are delightful and the situations Miss Pettigrew confronts are very amusing. As it is written in the 1930s there are…sentiments…that one might disagree with (mainly, “Oh, dear, but I think the young man has some Jew in him, poor fellow” kind of sentiments); but the whole of the novel is something pleasant and memorable. Seeing how Miss Pettigrew handles being the proverbial fish out of water, and how she inadvertently makes everything end up okay, is wonderful.

     The film is just as pleasant and fun. Poor Miss Pettigrew discovers her employment error when she goes to wake “Philip” and discovers a naked man (we only see the backside, thankfully). It all gets increasingly funny from there. Miss LaFosse is ditzy and silly, but goodhearted and kind. Ciaran Hinds is romantic as ever, and, while it is unfortunate Edythe gets relegated to the role of female villainess, Shirley Henderson plays it with obvious fervor. It is also set on the verge of WWII, which gives Miss Pettigrew and Joe something to bond over, as the young people didn’t experience the last war.

     Also, the movie has a fantastic jazz soundtrack. Both the book and the movie are a re-read/re-watch.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord



     There’s a little Senegalese folktale out there called “Ansige Karamba the Glutton”. It details the nonsense and antics of the title character, and his long-suffering wife Paama.
     This book is not about Ansige; it is about Paama, and goes far past Ansige’s tale.
     When Paama grows tired of her demanding, foolish husband, she retreats to her parents’ house for a time. But Ansige has no idea how to run his own household and eventually follows her. He is foolish in and of himself, but when a certain trickster spider gets involved, all manner of Wacky Hijinks ensue. Through it all, Paama remains steadfast and calm, trying to keep her husband in the best light despite knowing what he is. Even when the rest of her village laughs at him, she refuses to join in.
     Her upright character catches the attention of the djombi, the spirits of the world. They must find a worthy person to control the power of the Chaos Stick, and they choose Paama when she finally has had enough and refuses to return to Ansige.
     But the original wielder of the Chaos Stick, the Indigo Lord, feels he has been wronged by the other djombi and sets out to take it back, whether through trickery or force.
     There is something very simplistic and beautiful about this book. Karen Lord does a wonderful job of expanding on the original folktale. Paama is an unusual heroine for modern times. She does not act, but generally reacts; she merely knows how to react in a calm, sensible fashion. Her constant patience and defense of her husband may grate on the nerves of some modern readers, but it shows her character perfectly as a person that will not put anyone down, even if they deserve it.
     Paama, as wielder of the Chaos Stick, must learn the awesome responsibility that has been placed in her hands; but she is not the only character that has plenty to learn, and the story leads to a bittersweet but hopeful ending.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Photo Saturday: Happy Birthday, Mr. Audubon!

In honor of this fantastic artist (who was clearly afflicted by some sort of intelligence-enhancing bird flu-Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child told us so, and if they said it then it must be true), here are some pictures of birdies.

A crane, not demonstrating the Crane Stance.


Geese relaxing along the Mississippi River and ignoring WIU across the street.

Our friend Tiny Woodpecker, who was, alas, Too Good For This Sinful World.

And last, but not least...

MISTER FALCON!

And remember, if too many birds start following you, then it might be the Convocation. Take appropriate action, such as screaming like a little girl, or writing a convoluted blog with too many crossovers.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Parody 5: S1, E15: The Quest for the Holy Grail


A ship arrives, which is usually what causes things to happen (this being space and all).

Sinclair: Ah, I love lunch…

Delenn: We have a special guest that just arrived as a plotpoint let’s go KTHXBAI.

Sinclair: …hey Garibaldi, we should totally have a guard come with.

Garibaldi: D-:<


SURE IS A NICE MIND YOU GOT THERE

Deuce: Ohai Jinxo. I know you did construction on Babylon 5, and since you owe me money you can totally help me find places to smuggle in illegal crap.

Jinxo: Oh no, that’s not a good idea.

Deuce: Or I can totally do this. See this Wise Old Indian Woman? Watch this.

A tentacle comes out of nowhere and mindwipes her, then retreats into an OMGWTFENCOUNTERSUIT?

Deuce: So I’ll give you until he gets hungry for souls again. RIGHT KOSH? BECAUSE YOU’RE TOTALLY KOSH RIGHT?

Feeder: Yeah. Yeah I’m totally legit. Totally.

Jinxo: D-:


IN THE FUTURE, ALIEN ABDUCTIONS END IN A COURT ROOM

Flinn: His great-grandfather abducted my great-grandfather!

Stereotypical Alien: *Bugs Bunny-style sign*

Judge: What.


SINCLAIR WAS A CHASER HIMSELF

Lennier: That’s our special guest. He has the look.

Aldous: Name’s Aldous. I seek the Holy Grail.

Sinclair: Great. A thousand Monty Python jokes just spawned into being.

Aldous: We haven’t found it on Earth, so I figured I’d look for it in space.

Delenn: This will be great, oh Honored Seeker.

Sinclair: So that’s a broomstick you’re carrying then? Sweet!

Aldous: …

Sinclair: Garibaldi, help the man around the place. He’s a Seeker.


WORST THIEF EVER

Garibaldi: Jinxo, stop trying to steal stuff from people who are looking for the Holy Grail.

Jinxo: D-:


THE QUEST FOR THE PLOT

Franklin: I have no idea what caused this, and she’s basically a vegetable right now.

Garibaldi: We could fix this if we cleaned out DownBelow.

Sinclair: But anviliciously, they are the Sad Homeless. Franklin, keep figuring out this mindwipe. Garibaldi, see if Deuce is responsible. If he is, I want him punched. Twice. Actually more than twice.


YOU BETRAYED THE LAW

Judge: Well, Jinxo, back again, eh? I’ll just send you on and you can stay away.

Jinxo: But I have to stay here! Or the place will be DOOMED.

Aldous: I need to whisper things.

Judge: K. Fine, okay, Jinxo, you can hang with Aldous here.

Jinxo: …what.

Deuce: OHAI JINXO.

Judge: Deuce, get your non-legit butt up here.

Deuce: I didn’t do it. He did it. They did it. Someone did it.

Judge: Where’s Miriam?

Garibaldi: Someone mindwiped her.

Judge: YEAH THAT’S NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL.

Deuce: *innocent face*


THE STRONGEST STATION IN THE GALAXY

Aldous: Why can’t you leave again?

Jinxo: The Babylon Curse. I worked on the first Babylon Station, and that fell down. The second station fell down. The third station blew up, fell down, then sank into the swamp. The fourth station disappeared. Each time was after I left, so I have to stay.

Aldous: Sounds like dumb luck for you.


THEY FOUND THE PLOT

Franklin: A Nakaleen Feeder!

Garibaldi: It’s from a Centauri sector. TO THE CASINO!


LONDO WOULD MUCH RATHER BE THE GOVERNOR

Londo: Yeah Nakaleen feeders are BAD TOUCH. This is a completely hypothetical “oh if I just felt like freaking Londo out” sort of thing?

Sinclair: Uhh…

Londo: I’ll be in my quarters. With a shot gun. And a year’s supply of food. And toilet paper. And anti-zombie precautions.

*flees*


DELENN FORESHADOWS SOME THINGS

Delenn: So we don’t know where this Holy Grail is. Sorry.

Jinxo: You guys are actually being nice.

Lennier: The warrior caste are the Greater Jerks.

Aldous: Do you guys ever agree?

Delenn: When terrible horrible things of doom attack the galaxy. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.

*Spoiler: It does.*


DEUCE AND THE FEEDER WOULD MAKE A GREAT SITCOM

Feeder: I WANT FOOD. And I’m tired of impersonating Kosh. He’s boring.

Deuce: If you wouldn’t talk in that tinny voice we could pull this off.

Feeder: …


IN WHICH VIR DOES NOT UNDERSTAND BUREAUCRACY

Londo: POLITICIANS I WANT THAT TERRIBLE SECTOR OF DOOM QUARANTINED NOW. And who are you?

Aldous: I seek the Grail.

Londo: I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR MONTY PYTHON JOKES!

Vir: I’ve already looked everything up!

Londo: …

Vir: It was fun! Here, have this information.

Aldous: Thanks Vir!

Londo: Come back and I will taunt you a second time! Vir, everyone is to leave! I mean no one is to leave! Come in! Something!



LAWWWWWW

Judge: Everyone GTFO.

The Judge walks out to his quarters, only for Deuce and Co. to follow. This will only end in tears.


ALDOUS IS A NINJA

Deuce’s Guys: Ohai Jinxo.

Aldous: GTFO.

Aldous then beats them both up with his staff. Like Gandalf on CRACK.

Jinxo: I want to learn to do that!

Aldous: You can learn if you want. You’re a cool guy and would probably look good in a robe. Now, let’s continue our quest!


EVEN KOSH IS SLIGHTLY CONFUSED

Aldous: If the Vorlon doesn’t know where it is, no one does. I mean seriously. Vorlons. Ohai Kosh.

Jinxo: OH GOD OH GOD ENCOUNTER SUIT BRAIN SUCKER.
*flees*

Aldous: Uh…excuse me. Must find my spazcase.

Kosh: …the hell?


SPAZNAPPING

Aldous: Look, Jinxo, if you say Kosh is eating souls or whatever you should tell someone.

Deuce’s Guys…again: AHA!

They take Aldous, and Deuce’s guy threatens Aldous with Not!Vorlon brain-eating.



JINXO NEEDS LESS CAFFEINE

Jinxo: They took Aldous and Kosh is going to eat him!

Sinclair: What. Whatever, Garibaldi, get down here and lend us a hand.


ALDOUS IS A NINJA-WIZARD

Aldous: I’m protecting the judge. Let’s see what you are, creeper.

Feeder: Umm…hi.

Aldous: So you’re Cthulhu Jr.

Feeder: Yeah.

Aldous: Moonlighting as a chest burster.

Feeder: Yep.

Aldous: Pretending to be Kosh.

Feeder: You got it.

Garibaldi: OHAI.

Garibaldi begins shooting, the feeder climbs into an air duct, and everyone realizes what it’s like to be in an Alien movie.

Feeder: Huh. This looks yummy.

Jinxo: I save you judge!

Deuce: Uh…shoot him! Because that will totally make the situation better!

Aldous leaps in front of the bullet, because he is just that awesome (and ninja-fast).

Feeder: Hey guys what’s going—

Everyone: *SHOOTS A LOT*

Jinxo: I’ll find the grail for you, Aldous!

Aldous: Jinxo gets my Super Magic Wizard Staff. Also, the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow is… *dies*

Jinxo: D-:

Sinclair: D-:


EVEN MORE TROLLING!

Sinclair: We found the fake encounter suit. Deuce wanted people to think you were working for him, which we both know is stupid.

Kosh: Yep.

Sinclair: It’s because you make people nervous.

Kosh: I know lol.

Sinclair: …the fact you find this hilarious is slightly creepy.

Kosh: LOL.


AND EVEN MORE MONTY PYTHON JOKES

Sinclair: So Aldous died without finding the Grail.

Delenn: He was really looking for the Meaning of Life.

Sinclair: I have a copy of that. I would’ve given it to him.

Delenn: So would I.

Garibaldi: I thought Jinxo was supposed to be here for sending Aldous back.

Jinxo: Hi.

Garibaldi: JINXO YOU TURNED INTO A WIZARD.

Delenn: Here, this Super Magic Artifact will glow on his grave. It’ll be cool.

Jinxo: Sweet. Bye everyone. I might be back with the Grail.

Garibaldi: Just don’t choose poorly.


IT’S QUIET…TOO QUIET

Londo: Is it dead? Completely? Not going to become a zombie?

Garibaldi: Yep.

Londo: Maybe it’s resting. Or shagged out after a long squawk! IT’S PINING FOR THE FJORDS!

Garibaldi: THIS IS AN EX-FEEDER!

Londo: Oh good.

Garibaldi: We found out the feeder goes quiet when it’s about to attack. So as long as there’s noise you’re safe.

Quiet: *is everywhere*

Londo: *flees back inside*

Vir: FOREVER ALONE.


C&C

Garibaldi: There he goes. Think Babylon 5 will burn down, fall over and sink into the swamp? Or the sun?

Ivanova: They’re gone.

Garibaldi: No horrible things then!

Ivanova: Today. There’s always another boom. Also, Jinxo just flew off on the Mary Celeste.

Everyone: …

Sinclair: …it was nice knowing him.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Movie Review: Mirror, Mirror



     So I finally watched Mirror, Mirror, the alternate universe of Snow White and the Huntsman. I say this because I’m almost convinced that the creators of both got together, and one decided to do the “teen version” and one decided to do the “kid version”.
     That said, Mirror, Mirror was a very fun movie.
     We are given the usual Snow White back story, with a twist, as it is given by Queen Julia with a delightful amount of snark. Julia is clearly enjoying hamming it up for the camera, and while she never seems particularly sinister, she is cartoonishly villainous.
     The story has fun both with adhering to tradition and turning it on its head. This is Snow White as we expect-extremely sweet and gentle. And the fun part is that she never loses this, even when they do turn her into an action girl. She remains who she is, which is refreshing. I would say Lily Collins gave the most realistic performance of Snow White one could expect in a movie designed more for laughs than for realism. Not only does she retain the Snow White personality, it also makes it believable. The girl’s been locked up in the castle for years. Her reactions to things are completely in line with this, as is her “training montage” to become a Robin Hood expy.
     The dwarves were also quite amusing, as was the prince himself. Ah, there is the problem. While the prince made for a great comedic character (and Armie Hammer had as much fun as Julia being a large ham), the problem lay in that there was nothing about the prince that really draws attention. He was a goofball, half the time being the Comically Serious and half the time pretending to be a dog and licking people. One wonders why Snow White fell for him, particularly as she becomes increasingly competent. I suppose it’s his earnestness, because otherwise, he’s quite dull. The only time he loses his own incompetence is at the Really Big Fight At The End.
     Overall it was a wonderful movie. It was clearly meant to be light-hearted and humorous and it won at that. It also helps that Snow White herself shows more emotion than merely Dull Surprise, and her evolution from a girl locked in a castle to a fairly competent fighter was somewhat more realistic than “two seconds of fighting/sexual tension”.
     Also the faux Renaissance costumes were hilarious. Just saying.

     

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

     Kyle Kingsbury is a rich, spoiled young jerk, the alpha male at his prestigious high school and dating an equally rich, spoiled girl. Then, he decides to pull a mean prank on the token Weird Girl, by inviting her to prom then acting like he didn’t when she arrives.
     Unfortunately for him the Weird Girl is in fact a witch, and she curses him to live as a beast.
     Beastly is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It jumps from Kyle’s experiences, to his discussion about it in a chat room for people affected by magic transformations. This part, while it didn’t have a strong bearing on the plot, both gave Kyle people to talk to (his father being ashamed of his son) and added in some lighter humor and hints to a future story (the author has written a modern version of the Frog Prince).
     Watching Kyle’s slow transformation from a spoiled brat to a genuinely caring person was fantastic. His mirror allows him to see what people’s lives are really like. He sees his “perfect” girlfriend still has all the problems everyone else does, and he sees that the poor girl he mostly ignored has a terrible life with a father who (as it turns out) is willing to give her over to someone for whatever they want in order to save his own life. This is Kyle’s justification for accepting Lindy into his home; it’s better than her own home, and her father might give her over to sex abusers the next time.
     Kendra, the witch, is also an interesting character as she takes an active hand in encouraging Kyle to better himself. She isn’t punishing him; she is disciplining him, and it’s clear she wants him to change. It was in fact his potential to change (rather than throw away the rose his girlfriend rejected, he gave it to Lindy) that convinced her to give him a second chance.
     Alex Flinn gets creative in his take on how the modern world would deal with the circumstances from a fairy tale (such as seeing specialists-this part reminded me a lot of Penelope), and it’s a fun, light read.

     

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

100 Themes Challenge: No Time

Here, have some delicious creepypasta for your breakfast.

     “Time is running out”, that’s what the girl babbled as she ran by. She looked like some kind of addict, with her stringy hair and filthy skin. “Time is running out”.
     I didn’t listen, why should I listen, she was crazy anyways. “Time is running out”. For what? What’s going to happen? No one cares. Shut up you idiot.
     Then the old man at the store started in on it too. “Time is running out. Time is running out.” Some kind of disease, caused mental problems. Had to be. I went back home. I locked myself in. I heard my neighbors start up. “Time is running out”. I called the police. No answer. I tried again. The phone didn’t ring.
     It was close to sunset, and it should have been getting darker, but now it wasn’t. It was that same golden glow, cast over the city. “Time is running out”, came the insistent chanting.
     People were walking the streets now, clutching their heads, screaming it. I wanted to scream it too. But I wasn’t crazy. I didn’t have the disease.
     “Time is running out,” I said, feeling the words on my tongue. “Time is running out.”
     The city still glowed golden.
     The walls echoed with my screams now. “Time is running out time is running out time is running out”.
     I couldn’t stop myself. I had to say it. I don’t know why, but I had to say it.
     Everything is golden.
     Now I look up. The clocks have stopped.
     The clocks have stopped. The clocks have stopped. Time is running out.
     There is silence. No one is moving. The city is still made of gold. I sit here, and cannot move.
     Time has run out.

     There is no time.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I was going to write something but then I saw this video

I don't have time to write. I'm too busy learning to play the comb kazoo.

Tim the Music Prodigy

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Meanwhile, at the local Orthodox church...


After staying up until 5 and going without meat for 50 days, Orthodox Christians begin to strongly resemble zombie hordes. Particularly if you put bacon in front of them.

Sleep deprivation is a thing, y'all.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Holy Week Hiatus

Just to let you know, I won't be posting anything this week, because it is in fact Holy Week, and that means SERVICES FOREVER!

Also I've run to the end of my buffer. Whoops. I'll be back next week.



Also, did anyone see the Blood Moon? I think I did, but I was half asleep and I have a vague memory of thinking, "Oh, look, an eclipse" before falling back into bed. Apparently this is the first of four in a row, a tetrad, which signals...Yog-Sothoth having coffee with Unicron, or something. Whatever it is, I'm sure it's very dire and horrible, and most likely we'll have to call up the Doctor. We would call the Transformers, but they're too busy making another terrible sequel.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Photo Saturday: MEANWHILE, IN RURAL IOWA


This is a roundabout in Iowa. It is surrounded by cornfields.

I'd like to say they had a good reason to do this, but I doubt it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

100 Themes Challenge: Trouble Lurking

     I slipped through the trees, deftly avoiding low-hanging branches. The woods grew dark very fast, but the group moving along the road clearly did not know that; or if they did, they did not care.
     They were laughing, singing, and kicking up a right ruckus. It was their way, I suppose. The two men in the back, obviously meant to guard the caravan, were surreptitiously sipping from a large jug. It was foolish of them. Even if the forest had been brightly lit, there was always something out there. Best to save the merrymaking for a warm tavern, or better yet, a fortified castle.
     I am very good at being silent. I knew just where to step in order to avoid noise. It was also necessary to step lightly, and I had years of experience in doing this. They were not aware of my presence; but they made so much noise, it mattered not.
     I moved a bit quicker, getting a look at the wagon. It carried goods of various kinds: bundles of fine cloth, more jugs that as yet remained unsampled, and barrels of food. I could smell fish, and dried venison, and bread. Common food, but filling.
     There were guards walking at the side of the wagon. They were stout men, with large brown beards. They sang a high spirited song about a tavern wench; not surprising. One man kicked his heels up for a moment, drawing more laughter from the other men, particularly the drunken ones in the back. A sharp voice told them to quiet down, and I turned to see who the voice belonged to.
     A large man, larger than the rest, but very muscular, and of a noble stature. His eyes were wide, perhaps a little too wide, with far-off sights. Yes, he was the one. I remembered his lovely green eyes, as would the others.
     One of the guards responded to their captain; was this forest not guarded by good fairies? What then did they worry for? It was a fine night; it was a beautiful forest.
     This is true. It is indeed a beautiful forest. But his remark reminded me of my true purpose. I could not stand about forever listening to bawdy songs and senseless guardsmen.
     The fog began rolling in a mere moment after the guard had spoken. Their captain’s eyes grew even wider; how that was possible, I knew not. He ordered them to settle down, and to walk faster. Alas, it was an unwise thought. Once there is fog, there is no more escape.
     The horses began to whinny, and then to panic. They escaped from their harnesses. The men would not know how; they were too occupied with their own fear. I watched the creatures run past me, running back to their homes. They would find them easily.
     The sounds of shouts and footsteps began to grow fainter, as I expected. Soon after, the fog then drifted away, and the men were all gone.
     I turned to make my way back through the forest, to greet them with the others. The captain had visited our land before, and it had shown in his eyes. One was never easy after visiting us. But my people had obeyed me, and played their part well. If their queen had chosen the mortal man with the beautiful eyes, then she would have him. There would be great revelry tonight.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie Review: Carrie (2013)

     For the past several years, bullying has become a hot topic issue in our society. Naturally, there was only one thing to do.

     Remake Carrie.

     In case you have been living in the bush for over 40 years, Carrie is the story of a bullied young girl who develops telekinetic powers and uses them to be really awesome take bucket-loads of revenge. The book was written by Stephen King and published in 1974. It was infamously translated to film in 1976, starring Sissy Spacek’s big eyes. They made a really stupid sequel that didn’t make sense and involved CD deaths, the like which would not be seen until the Transformers movie, except Frenzy had caffeine powers instead of telekinetic powers. Then, in 2002,they remade the film in the hopes of starting a series that never happened.

     Which brings us to the latest movie. I somewhat remember the one from 1976, barely looked at the one from 2002, and only remember the stupid sequel because CD death. So, I had a pretty fresh mindset when I watched this film and I’m not here to compare. That said, this was a very powerful and emotional film, and I think the director and the writers did a good job of making this more than a mere horror movie.

     First off, Chloe Moretz is a fantastic actress. At first she seems extremely vulnerable, as though she’ll break at any moment, constantly hugging herself and sliding along walls in a desperate attempt to remain unnoticed, with sudden, sharp bursts of vehemence revealing much more underneath. I do remember the change they made to the initial scene in the principal’s office; originally, Carrie was merely angered that the principal can’t remember her name. Here, the mention of telling her mother about the shower incident clearly terrifies her.

     Julianne Moore makes for a good, bedraggled, psychotic Margaret White. Babbling out bits of Scripture with the weird beliefs she picked up from God-knows-where in this quiet, almost non-stop manner, literally dragging Carrie to her “prayer closet”, and immediately picking up the biggest butcher knife available when Carrie’s powers manifest, you know why everyone gives her wide berth. We see her digging a needle into her leg and beating her head against a wall at odd times, and it’s clear the woman is off her rocker.

     The movie knows most viewers will have seen one of the previous versions, and uses that to build up anticipation. Knowing the kind of rampage Carrie will go on, the main “villains”, Chris and Billy, are depicted as being almost sociopathic. Chris literally has no understanding of how her actions could be cruel, stating “Carrie had it coming since sixth grade”, and she and Billy take a near-psychotic pleasure in slaughtering the pig for its blood. In contrast, we get several scenes in which Sue and her boyfriend start understanding, in their own careless teenage way, what Carrie’s life might be like.

     The Really Big Rampage At The End (RBRATE?) was horrifying, and once again showed off Chloe Moretz’s skills. She was good at acting innocent and vulnerable; now we see her in a state of terrifying calm as she comes up with increasingly inventive ways to kill her classmates at the prom. At the same time, she turns on Miss Desjardin, only to (apparently) look into her mind, see her good intentions, and drop her out of harm’s way. Chloe makes for an eerie sight, gliding around in a blood-covered dress in something almost like a state of Zen.


     The climax depicts well the two impulses within Carrie. She wants to be a happy, carefree teenager with friends; but she’s so filled with rage she can barely control it. She must defend herself against her psychotic mother, but at the end she holds her in an obvious Pieta metaphor. The movie tries to end on a horrific scare note, similar to the last two. Sue visits Carrie’s grave (already covered in graffiti) and places a rose, the only person to have done so, clearly. At the very end, we see the gravestone start cracking and hear a scream, but it does nothing to add to the atmosphere. In the end the movie was not so much terrifying as completely, utterly tragic.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Four Tips for Caring for Your Extrovert

Lately, there have been a lot of articles about introversion. In some ways, this is a good thing. I had nothing but high praise for the book Quiet by Susan Cain, partly because it explained a lot about myself that I thought was just "weird". (That said, normalcy isn't a thing in my family anyways, so make of that what you will.)

However, as I've delved more and more into the introvert community, I've seen this...shall we say...exclusive attitude. Yes, introverts haven't had it that well in all cultures, particular since the Cult of Personality started, but in many cases, it has turned into straight-up Extrovert Backlash. And as you all know, being a jackass does not get rid of jackasses; it just makes even more jackasses.

Or unnatural donkey-dragon hybrid abominations.

An article popped up on my Facebook page. It was a response to this article about problems extroverts face, that no one seems to care about because they're "normal extroverts".

And oh, the MISSPELLED INTERNET RAEG has exploded. It's the extrovert's fault; extroverts would to these things anyways; why are they complaining about introverts? (They aren't, by the way, no clue where that one came from.)

Here's the thing: society has certain expectations of people. Some of those expectations are reasonable ("Please do not murder people and eat their flesh"), and some not so much ("What do you mean, you don't like clubbing at all hours of the night? Pshaw!"). Extroverts, like introverts, do not fit neatly into one category. Expecting them to puts pressure on them, just as it puts pressure on introverts. We are not enemies; we are human beings with different ways of responding to stimuli. That requires understanding and respect, not insisting that ALL TEH EXTERVERTS ARE GUNNA GIT US. (It's the Internet. Atrocious spelling is a must.)

So, all that aside, let's go into some ways we can make things smoother. I'm not discussing how to deal with introverts; there are hundreds of articles about that now. I'm an introvert talking to introverts.

1.) Set aside some time to do what the extrovert wants to do.
     Yes, yes, you're always expected to do that. Stop being a whiner. No one likes a whiner. If you're in a relationship (be it friendship, romantic, or familial) there must be some give and take on both sides. Maybe you take some evenings to be alone, read, recharge, etc. Set aside other evenings to go do things with the extrovert-parties, movies, clubbing (although the music at clubs is horrible, and if you go to the bathroom you will find yourself in the woofer.) Afterward, you can go hide in your room for days if you like.

2.) Don't make the extrovert do all the talking.
     "But ERICAAAAAAA" you say, in that voice I'm getting really tired of, "Extroverts LIKE to talk." But here's the thing. If you're in a group and there's like one or two people talking, how do you know those one or two people aren't thinking, "This...this is kind of awkward. Why are they all staring at us? What's going on?"

WE WANT TO GIVE YOU PEACE

Yes, most introverts have no problem with a lull in the conversation. But it can be genuinely uncomfortable if you're not sure if other people are okay with it or not. Speak up. Even if it's totally nonsequitur. One of the complaints about that extrovert article is that the extroverts are just caring too much about what people think; but why do introverts often stay quiet when they're having trouble making conversation? Because we're afraid people will think we're stupid. That, however, is better than being thought eerie silent cultists. I'm just saying.

3.) They're quite the charmers
     Okay, okay, I might be biased, since I did decide to marry a charming extrovert. But it's not just the aforementioned article that states mistaken flirting as a problem. In the Personality Plus series, this came up as an area of tension in a marriage. The wife was naturally talkative and charming, and her quiet, introverted husband suspected her of flirting. But she talks to everyone. Extroverts like people, and that comes through. Sometimes, people mistake that for something more. Us introverts have the opposite problem-for many of us, flirting in general is problematic.

It worked on Dale, at least...

Romance in general can be an awkward, confusing thing. Add in mistaken intentions and general cluelessness and you can see where this might actually be a problem for extroverts.

4.) Let them be themselves.
     I'll be the first to admit that my husband does not get to be loud in the morning. I'm not a morning person, and I'm not a loud person. So he has to be quiet then. But that doesn't mean I should impose it on him all the time. He's a talker. He likes to sing loudly. He quotes Markiplier at random. It's his thing. Just as we need some quiet time, extroverts need loud time. Let them let that energy out. Trust me, they have a lot of energy.



Now, stop making those whiny noises about how unfair extroverts are. I have books to read.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Movie Review: Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

     Joss Whedon is an interesting fellow. He decides to adapt Much Ado About Nothing, and does so in his own house, on his own budget, and with his own actors. (You know, the same actors he hires for everything.)

     And this worked out very, very well. The dialogue is straight from the play, no changes, but the setting is clearly modern day. It’s a bit quirky (particularly when it comes to the main conflict-being “stale” isn’t quite the same insult when placed in our time), but for the most part it works out very well. A few interesting twists caught my attention-Whedon actually showed that Benedick and Beatrice had a relationship before the events of the play (which is only mentioned in the actual dialogue); Don John is essentially under house arrest (although his crimes are never explained-he was probably doing something For The Evulz, as he is wont to do); and the amount of liquor consumed is rather amusing.


     Amy Acker makes for a good Beatrice; she gives the character an air of studied nonchalance (until she accidentally falls down the stairs while eavesdropping). Alexis Denisof is absolutely goofy. (Another amusing thing that I’m pretty sure Whedon did on purpose-Hero's actress is quite tall, making Benedick look very silly when he complains about her being short.) It’s a fun little adaptation.

Monday, April 7, 2014

And now, the Law of Reaping and Sowing



Brave Westboro ran away! They bravely ran away, away! When danger reared its ugly head, they bravely turned their tails and fled, yes brave Westboro turned about, and gallantly they chickened out! Bravely taking to their feet, they beat a very brave retreat, bravest of the brave, Westboro!




I believe this is the part where we all throw our heads back and laugh.

100 Themes Challenge: Cat

     I hated the new house.
     I wasn’t used to big places. I liked small places. I felt cozy, comfortable, safe, with just enough space.
     Then we moved here. The house is an older one. The hardwood floors are coming apart. I have to wear shoes to walk around, unless I want a huge piece of wood sticking out of my foot. The basement looks ancient; I didn’t even try going down those stairs. All dusty stone covered in cobwebs. There’s an old dumbwaiter in the living room. I don’t even know if it works anymore. Half the door is broken off; the cat climbs in there.
     I like to pretend I’m practical. I like to pretend to be nonchalant. But truth be told, at night my wild imagination goes crazy. It’s worst when I get out of bed to use the bathroom. Even when I was a kid, I imagined something terrible waiting for me when I would get up at night. When I was younger, I would build up my courage (or, rather, desperation for a toilet) then go charging down the hall, skidding into the bathroom and shutting the door tight. Nowadays, it’s different. I tiptoe, holding up my flashlight and peering down the hall. Yeah, I carry a flashlight to bathroom. Shut up.
      The bathroom here is near the stairs. Every single time I go down that hallway, I imagine something horrible (probably from that horror of a basement), waiting just around the corner on the stairs. I shut myself in the bathroom, calming down. But then I have to walk back down that dark hallway. I leave the bedroom door partially open. Easier to get inside. I know it’s ridiculous, an adult acting like this, but I can’t help it. At least I can blame all the weird noises on the cats. That’s an upside.
     Yeah, I hear some pretty odd noises at night. Most people would say it’s the house settling. It probably is. But sometimes it sounds like shuffling in the vents. Sometimes it sounds like shuffling on the carpet out in the hall. On occasion, I’ll catch the cat hovering around a vent, staring at it with wide eyes. I’m guessing there’s mice or something down there. Hopefully mice.
     Today, the cat is really odd. She’s been yowling, pawing at the vent, then yowling some more. At one point she was sitting at the door of the basement, completely silent. Maybe we can call the landlord, see if he can put some mouse traps down there. It’s mice. It’s just mice.
     I head up to bed. The cat follows, as usual, sitting right outside the bedroom door, wanting in. I don’t let her in; she makes too much noise at night. Now, maybe, just maybe, I can sleep through the night…
     But I can’t. I wake up, and nature calls. I pick up my flashlight, turn it on, shine it around the room. Nothing. The fan is on, but I thought I heard shuffling on the carpet. It’s the cat. I know it’s the cat.
     I crack open the door. The cat’s nowhere to be seen. The hallway’s empty. I walk, as quietly as possible, down to the bathroom door. I cringe as I reach the stairs. I want to shine the flashlight around the corner, but I don’t dare. I dart into the bathroom and shut the door. I flick the light on. Sweet, blessed light. 
     Everything is normal in here as well. I do my business, then slowly open the door again. Nothing. I turn the light out, but then I get that overwhelming urge to look down the stairs. Just to check. This time, I obey it. I nearly jump out of my skin when I see two glowing eyes staring up at me. Stupid cat. Why do cats have to be nocturnal.
     I turn to go back down the hallway.
     The cat is sitting at the bedroom door, clawing at it frantically.

     I hear the stairs start creaking behind me.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Photo Saturday: The Haunter in Michigan


This was the picture I tried repeatedly to upload as part of my blog design. But alas, it didn't work. So I'll drop it here instead.

I didn't see any birds flying around that steeple, which I think is the most dire indictment I can give on this place.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Parody 5: S1, E14: Rocky In Space

Some Jewish guy arrives, and says goodbye to Mr. Smith, who is not an agent but in fact a guy with an interesting calling. Whatever that means.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi sees sketchy things happening.

Garibaldi: Huh, a stolen slap bracelet.

Bad Guy: *tries to stab him*

Mr. Smith: No stabby my friend.

Garibaldi: Walker Smith! Tell me your life story!

Walker: See, I was told to throw a fight because some people had bets riding on it.

Garibaldi: …you didn’t like try to hide in a pawn shop or anything did you?

Walker: PAWN SHOP WHAT PAWN SHOP I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THAT NEVER HAPPENED.

Garibaldi: And why are you here?

Walker: I’m going to fight in the Mutai.

Garibaldi: The terrible no holds barred beatdown fight of doom?

Walker: IT’S BETTER THAN WHAT NEVER HAPPENED IN THE PAWN SHOP.


PLOTPOINT PAYOFF

Koslov: Hi, I’m friends with Susan. I came here about the death of her father.

Sinclair: Wait, what?

Koslov: Uh…yeah. He died. Anyways, we have a mourning ceremony that she really needs to go through, otherwise her neuroses are just going to get worse.

Sinclair: She’ll have however much time she needs. We can’t have her any more neurotic.


THAT COULD HAVE GONE BETTER

Koslov: Your dad would’ve liked this place.

Ivanova: That’s not what he told me.

Koslov: Your dad just worried about you. Anyways, I talked to Sinclair…

Ivanova: Y U TALK TO SINCLAIR!!!

*flees*

Koslov: …what.


HALLWAY

Caliban: Hello, Walker Smith. I am your Mr. Miyagi.

Walker: AWESOME!


MUTAI

Aliens continue beating the crap out of each other.

Walker: I could have taken that guy.

Drazi: Fried tree worm?

Walker: …thanks?

Muta Dor: Here, we have this Drazi guy, and also the champ, who is named Gyor, which sounds much more intimidating than the Drazi name.

Drazi Fighter: D-:<

They fight again, and it’s basically MMA on CRACK. FYI Gyor wins again, because he’s the champ and he can’t lose until the end.

Muta Dor: Who wants to challenge him?

Walker: I’ll do it.

Garibaldi: WHAT.

Gyor: D’AWW HE’S SO CUTE.

Alien Guy: Y HUMANS TAKE ALL OUR CUSTOMS? You’re going to dishonor it!

Walker: More than the Centauri with the afro back there?

Centauri: D-:<


ACTUALLY IT’S A RUSSIAN TEA KETTLE

Koslov: Ohai Susan. No, don’t worry about it, here, this is your inheritance.

Ivanova: The samovar!

Non-Jewish Audience: Wait…the what?

Koslov: Anyways, I’m outta here in the morning. No mourning then?

Ivanova: I HAVE TOO MANY DADDY ISSUES!


TRAINING MONTAGE #1

Walker: This is Caliban, who is the Mr. Miyagi of the piece.

Garibaldi: Caliban…? So why are you doing this?

Caliban: Fighting Gyor was my last fight.

Garibaldi: So you’re going to get Walker killed because you lost a fight?

Caliban: Let’s start. Wax on, wax off, Walker.


FLASHBACKS ARE USEFUL

Koslov: Well, have a nice life.

Ivanova: Yeah.

Koslov: …

Ivanova: …

Andrei Flashback: I’m so proud of your epicness.

Ivanova: CHANGED MY MIND LET’S DO THE MOURNING.


SOMEHOW THIS IS A BIG THING THAT WAS NEVER MENTIONED BEFORE

ISN: Walker Smith is going to be epic.

Garibaldi: And there’s no possible way I can convince you not to do this?

Walker: Nope. Gonna be fun. Now excuse me, I have to go listen to the Rocky soundtrack.

Not Shown: Montage in which Caliban and Walker run around Babylon 5 in sweatsuits.


HOW MONTAGES USUALLY END

Garibaldi: PLEASE WALKER DON’T DIE.

Caliban: Let’s put our hands together. That’s what happens in these sorts of things, right?

Walker: Damn straight.

Caliban: Don’t forget wax on wax off.


ANGRY RUSSIANS ARE SCARY

Ivanova: So Dad let me go to this reading for a book I like, I asked a question and the author told me I was an idiot. Then Dad told him his commie writing sucked and I was more awesome. Also he threatened to horsewhip him. Dad threatened people a lot, actually…


HADOKEN!

So it starts out with Walker getting crap kicked out of him, while Garibaldi shouts instructions from the sidelines.

Garibaldi: Left! Right! No other right! Inside! Outside! Right in the kisser! Ouch, wrong kisser…

Caliban looks excited, then Walker manages to KNOCK GYOR DOWN.

Garibaldi: Kick! Kick! Punch! No kick!

Alien: I draw a tranq sketchily.

Caliban: It’s a trap!

Garibaldi: *punch* That’s right, the third left!

Gyor: Owww….


SADNESS

Ivanova thanks everyone for hanging with her and says the mourning prayer, which is what makes her lose it completely. It’s definitely a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.


MU-TIE! GEDDIT GEDDIT

So Walker and Gyor continue kicking the crap out of each other, and Garibaldi continues to commentate from the sidelines, and Caliban bounces around, and people start calling Walker “The Great Heart”. Muta Dor btw doesn’t look entirely happy. Eventually they both hit the ground.

Muta Dor: Well, that was interesting.

Gyor: Everyone, shout Walker’s name, because he’s awesome!

Walker: Yo Garibaldi! I did it!

Garibaldi: I’m right here next to you.

Walker: …oh.


ALL OF THE BOARDING SCENES

Koslov: See you kids later.

Ivanova: Time for duty.

Sinclair: And less Daddy Issues. And no more double shifts.

Ivanova: Like the ones you make me take whenever Catherine comes around.

Walker: See ya Garibaldi.

Muta Dor: That was pretty epic, Walker. Have fun.

Caliban: I’ll be there if you ever wanna fight here again.

Walker: I’ll be back for a rematch. TTYL.

Garibaldi: I think this is where we start playing an inspirational end song.

Caliban: THE ONE WITH THE CAT ON THE TREADMILL!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

There are two types of movies out there. Movies that are intended to make you think, and movies that are pure fluff of various types.

Pacific Rim is most certainly the latter. The movie is about Voltron vs. Giant Monsters. There is nothing about this that is supposed to be thoughtful or intelligent.

And boy is it fun.

The back story: monster alien thingies are coming through a dimensional portal (The Rift) beneath the ocean. Their intent? DEVOUR THE WORLD.

Picture from TFWiki


After getting kicked around and generally eaten for some time, humanity makes Giant Robots to fight back. Naturally. The robots in question are called Jaegers (and yes, they do have bombs), and are piloted by two people via a telepathic linky thingy because one person cannot handle the stress of operating the entire machine alone. Our hero, Raleigh Becket, was a pilot along with his brother (the pilots must share a close bond), but his brother was killed, leaving him to be Retired for Ten Minutes. However, with the news that there may be another wave of Kaijus, Raleigh is yanked from his retirement to find a new partner and help fight off the next attack.

This is the definition of a popcorn movie. The characters are decently well-drawn, the action is excellent (although sometimes implausible-that said, they gave Raleigh’s Jaeger  an Optimus Prime sword, and you just know they did that on purpose), and it does indeed get a bit emotional in some parts. Refreshingly, the females are not relegated to being “the girlfriend” or “the ugly scientist lady”. Raleigh does have a love interest, but that fact doesn’t overwhelm their individual character arcs.


Even the minor characters, while not exactly three dimensional, are still fairly unique and interesting. So, yes, while some things get a bit silly, overall it’s a very enjoyable movie.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

We Interrupt This Blog For A Eulogy

Picture by someone on Unforum cleverer than me

Oh, Brian. You were stuck in an endless loop of unhappiness for so long. Also you were kind of crazy. Crazy like a fox. Without its meds.

We may never get answers to such questions as "No really you screwed a lot of things up" and "Why do you keep babbling about an ark? Does the ark protect from the loop of unhappiness?" And, most pressing of all, "Did you really need to use that creepy baby doll? Because, seriously. Nightmares dude. Nightmares."

Pour out a cold one for our hoody-wearing friend Brian, everyone.

A/N: I'm gonna go crazy if this turns out to be a red herring after all.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review: Goblinquest by Jim C. Hines

In Jig’s world, goblins exist for adventurers to kill when looking for adventures. And as far as goblins go, Jig is the most killable of them all. Near sighted, cowardly, and small, he’s relegated to kitchen duty and getting beat up by the larger goblins. But when one bully sends him to investigate a noise, he discovers real adventurers in their cave system-A prince, a sorcerer, a dwarf, and an elf, all searching for the legendary “Rod of Creation” that is hidden deep within the caverns. Jig is captured and forced to go along as a guide; but Jig is no ordinary goblin, and the adventurers are not quite what they seem.

Jim Hines takes great delight in deconstructing fantasy tropes here, particularly the ones used in RPGs. Despite being a goblin, Jig is very much the audience surrogate, not much of a fighter, most frequently terrified, and annoyed with the others. His snarky commentary on the proceedings lends a humorous note to the story, even when it gets rather dark.

The little twists and turns also make it quite a fun read. There is a “Necromancer”-that turns out to be something simultaneously interesting and hilarious. The elfin girl is not the archer; she is the thief, and a terrible one at that. We learn what happens when a god is forgotten (they mainly sit around and are bored), and there is a passing mention of that “nine-fingered fellow” across the sea…they can’t remember his name…


Definitely a fun read with a light-hearted ending. There’s a series, so I look forward to hearing more from Jig.