Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
This is one of those movies that makes me quite glad I don't know any movie stars as they seem--as portrayed by Hollywood--incredibly exhausting, not to mention completely self-involved. I found the plot overall a bit "eh" but it was an incredibly gorgeous movie to watch: costumes, sets, actors. I think this would be a good movie for a plane ride, or a quiet night at home.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Brace yourself. What you are about to see on the screen will be different than what you read on the page. The book world is limited only by the author’s imagination, has only one puppet master (the author), and the narrative is not hemmed in by the pesky human need to go to the bathroom, thus can extend longer than two hours. Movies? They are limited by what computers and movie magic can create, have many puppet masters and must tell their story comprehensively, succinctly and briefly. They are two different animals. Here are three tips for successful viewing of your book-to-movie adaptation.
Let go of the book. Though it is rare, movies sometimes use novels as a jumping off point to tell an entirely different story. So the story you read might not be the story you watch. Movies also need to condense narratives, eliminate characters and change endings. What you read will not be what you see, so just let it go right now.
Realize that these are two mediums. A book where we mostly live in the character’s head will probably not make a very good movie. (A-hem Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) Books are a medium of “telling.” They use words to let us into their world and the words can be used in a variety of ways: jumping into various characters’ heads to capture their thoughts, giving hefty background plot using a narrator, painting elaborate portraits of families, landscapes, careers. Movies tell by showing. Sometimes we get a voice over, to varying success, but mostly movies reveal things by showing us things: through dialogue, through action, through picture or the classic montage. Remember that how you learned about things in the book might not be revealed in the same way in the movie. It can be frustrating, but it’s necessary and sometimes the movie can explain things better than the book did.
Stop keeping score. It’s hard, but the more you forget you ever read the book, the more you can lose yourself in the movie. Sure, the movie people may have eliminated several characters, including your favorite, but just let it go. What have they done in place of those characters? Were those characters necessary to the plot of the story the movie is telling? The time for comparing the book movie format is after you have watched the movie. If you are too caught up in the fact that the main character is driving the wrong car, you might miss an extra detail the movie brings out that was skimmed over in the book.
As someone who loves both books and movies, I can say that I nearly always find the book a superior method of storytelling than the movie adaptation. But consuming both the book and the movie allows for interesting contrast. It also tends to be a nice commentary about society and allows for a juicy discussion of just what is up with Hollywood that they would have made exactly the movie they did. And once in a great while a movie will elevate your book into something really marvelous. All of those are reasons to take in both the book and the movie.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
I feel uneasy about portraying a powerful political woman through the lens of dementia, especially given that (as Friend Kelly observed) this will not be the way they frame the Ronald Reagan story whenever they get around to telling it. The acting is fabulous, and for that you should watch this, but the story didn't seem to have a common thrust to carry it through. Also, Margaret Thatcher's politics aren't my politics, so it was at times, difficult to root for her.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
My brother recommended this series several years ago and I finally got around to watching it, even though he properly sold it to me, telling me "And there's singing!" And he was right about how much I would enjoy it because this is a very funny TV show. Perhaps next time I will seek out his recommendations in a more timely manner.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Depending on where you live, spring is around the corner. The excitement is building because winter is nearly over and this spring you will plant your first garden. I am excited for you too. And here is some unsolicited advice for you to digest while it is still too cold to muck in the yard.
1. Start very small
It is very tempting, when looking through the seeds catalogs, or spinning through the rack at your hardware or home improvement store, to purchase a grocery store's worth of vegetable seeds and bring them home. I did this my first year, and still struggle with not buying too much seed. In January and February there is so much potential that it is easy to overdo your plans. But if this is your very first year, I recommend choosing one item (yes one!) that you would like to grow. For many people that will be tomatoes and those are a great choice, but given our cold summers the past two years, I would warn residents of Portland away from the tomato as a monocrop. Maybe get one plant (thus breaking my first rule right off) and then choosing another item for your main crop. My suggestion: kale. It’s delicious and nutritious and retains much of its weedy “I will grow anywhere” roots, which increases your chance of success.
2. Pay attention to soil quality
If you want a good crop, you need good soil. This was something I had absolutely no understanding of when I first entered into gardening. I thought dirt was dirt. However, unless you are particularly blessed, the soil where you want to plant your garden is probably lacking. Grab a handful of soil and make a ball in your fist. Then press your thumb into that ball. Does it fall apart into a lovely mound of humus? You have won the soil lottery. Did it stay in a ball? You’ve got too much clay. Did it never make a ball in the first place? You’ve got too much sand. You need to fix your soil. How do you do that? You:
3. Read a lot
My advice is to find your local gardening guru and read their book. In the Portland area, that guy is Steve Solomon and I recommend Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, as well as his other books. In it, you will learn that living in Portland, you will most likely never produce an abundant eggplant crop. But he does point you in the right direction (kale! Among other things.) You can stick with just one book, or you can dip your nose into any of the following recommendations.
If you’ve ignored advice point number one and are growing more than one thing, I recommend One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein. She emphasizes you start small, with one four-foot-by-four-foot square, but she has many “recipes” for squares that provide a complete salad. If you are looking to survive, Steve Solomon’s Gardening When it Counts is an excellent book, because its focus is on spending as little money as possible when gardening. I believe in a closed loop system so I recommend The Sustainable Garden for beginners (if you follow this plan you will be not following my advice about starting small) and How to Grow More Vegetables for the next year. Both are by John Jeavons. For those interested in growing food for survival, Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener focuses on five crops: beans, corn, squash, potatoes and ducks. She’s a wealth of information and full of good advice. Ideally you could start with one crop and add a new one each year.
4. Pay more for high quality materials.
Buy your tools from local toolmakers (if they exist, and if they are quality) and your seed from small local seed houses, not the big box home improvement centers. Local seed houses (if they exist in your area) will have seed that fits your climate better than others. I buy from Nichol’s Garden Nursery, Territorial Seed, Carol Deppe’s Fertile Valley Seed (tiny seed breeder and producer) and Bountiful Gardens (not local, but full of heirloom, open pollinated seed).
If you are buying your soil or buying amendments, buy it from your local garden center, not your local big box home improvement center. Seek out your local Master Gardeners for advice about supplies. They usually have hot lines you can call with questions.
5. Remember that if you have success, you will have to eat all that produce.
The lesson I learn every year is that I’ve got to deal with what I grow. Last year it was the 35 heads of lettuce that all matured and were ready for eating at the same time. I ate a lot of salads over two weeks, gave a lot away, and let much too much bolt. Bear in mind that the produce you grow will most likely have to go through a bit of processing to look like the produce you buy at the market. The kale grown in your yard will not be rinsed of all dirt and bugs and bound in a neat twist tie. You get to do that. There are days when buying the same item at the store seems much, much easier than walking into the backyard to harvest. In addition, some things always want to ripen at the most inconvenient times. I would love for tomatoes to peak in early August, as that is the time I could best process them, but here, if they ripen at all, it is in the thick of September, which is a crazy busy time for me. I haven’t processed tomatoes in several years for just that reason. So I minimize my tomato efforts and maximize my kale, collard and beet efforts, all of which can sit happily waiting for me to get around to them. Which brings me back to my original point:
6. Start small.
If you don’t over-plant, you won’t get overwhelmed which means you won’t be overburdened at the end of the season, allowing you to expand (or maintain) your gardening empire next year.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
After grumbling about this, and taking pictures so I could write a grumpy blog post, I noticed there was a piece of paper that instructed me to send the whole shebang back if we weren't interested! Postage paid! So I packed it all up, wrote a happy "Thank you" to the Learning Center for giving me the option and back it went.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
It was a mistake to follow along with my copy of Hamlet as I watched this movie as vast parts of the play (including, most egregiously, the scene including the famous lines "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio"!!!!) are not in this version of the movie. Ethan Hawk has those great brooding eyes and he made a pretty good Hamlet, but I found Julia Styles' (and I know this was not her fault, but still) rave-inspired clothing to be overly distracting to her performance. The New York City setting worked, though I found the "corporation"rather than "country" setting to be a bit off.*
Friday, February 3, 2012
I loved this movie and have enthusiastically recommended it to many people. Their reaction is similar to my own before I saw it, namely: "Isn't that the one where they don't talk AT ALL?" And yes, it is, but it is also a wonderful movie, full of humor and drama and complex characters and a delightful dog; which means that you should go and see it, despite the fact that there is NO TALKING AT ALL.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Should you so desire to make tempeh pizza burgers of your own you can squint at that picture or seek out the cookbook.