Monday, March 31, 2014

Books read in March 2013

Whew!  A lot of books fiction and non-, and all reading levels this month, thanks to Spring Break.  If you want to check out just my favorites look for Beyond Magenta (nonfiction about transgender youth) Handbook for Dragon Slayers (middle reader that's full of fun) Rules for Becoming a Legend (novel about a small-town high school basketball sensation and his troubles) and the Warmth of Other Suns (fascinating nonfiction about the great migration of African Americans out of the South to points north and west.)

Young Adult
Veronica Roth
Ah the second book, where the trilogy either comes together or falls completely apart.  It was the latter in this case.  "Really?" I found myself asking multiple times.  I could give you specific examples that would contain spoilers, but I just don't care that much.

The Port Chicago 50
Steve Sheinkin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Compelling tale of 50 African American Navy men during World War II.  Examines segregation, racism and workplace safety factors.  Well written.  And frustrating.

Charm and Strange
Stephanie Kuehn
Read for Librarian Book Group
I was lukewarm about this winner, especially because it beat out Sex & Violence which was one of my favorite books this/last year.  I found the writing to be claustrophobic, which made me want to keep reading, but I found the back-and-forth between present and past to be confusing and characters weren't fully developed.  Also, plot points wandered off in places.

Beyond Magenta
Susan Kuklin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Highly recommended!  Interviews with transgender teenagers of all stripes.  Great for educating yourself about how these teenagers navigate adolescence and early adult life, as well as introducing transgender issues.

Middle Reader
Searching for Sarah Rector
Tonya Bolden
Read for Librarian Book Group
This book was confusing, mostly because it tried to tell Sarah Rector's story, which was interesting. I think the framing device was not right as (this is not really a spoiler) it seems Sarah Rector was never actually missing.  I found it good for details about striking it rich off of oil in Oklahoma, the former slaves of Indians and also the many swindlers who wanted to take the money, but the whole book never gelled.

The Handbook for Dragon Slayers
Merrie Haskell
Read for Librarian Book Group
Great middle reader of a girl (who happens to be a princess) finding her way in the world despite her limitations.  Good setting of somewhat medieval Europe (but with dragons.)  I've already recommended to a smart fifth grader who keeps reading YA books I think she would appreciate more in three or four years.  It would also make a nice companion to Amy Timberlake's One Came Home

Zane and the Hurricane
Rodman Philbrick
Read for Librarian Book Group
Boy from New Hampshire visits his grandmother and gets to battle through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  I found this to be gripping and full of rich, vivid detail.  It's also short, which makes it good for kids who aren't into the whole book thing.

King Lear
Wm. Shakespeare
Ah Shakespeare, how your words don't move me and instead drive me to a live performance. I wasn't a fan of Lear, big old meanie, so you can guess how much I liked this.

It occurs to me if someone strung together all my Shakespeare Reviews they would be a prime target for making fun of.  Fear not! I actually enjoy the performances!

Rules for Becoming a Legend
Timothy S. Lane
Our boy Timothy S. Lane has written a firecracker of a book about basketball and small town living and how the two intersect. So maybe you aren't a fan of basketball?  This book is still for you.  You've got three generations of well-written characters to spend time with. You've got layers of small-town gossip, rumor and action.  You've got a compelling story, not just of basketball, but also relationships and heartbreak and legend.  You've also got a great sense of place in "Columbia City" the town standing in for Astoria, Oregon.  Just as Friday Night Lights isn't just about high school football, and Rudy isn't just about Notre Dame football and Hoop Dreams isn't about inner city basketball and The Art of Fielding isn't just about college baseball, this is about a lot of things besides basketball.  And even if it was just about basketball, it's so well written, you wouldn't be too sad if it was.

Hyperbole and a Half
Allie Brosh
The kind of funny that shouldn't be read on the train because it's hard to contain your laughter.  I love the internet, because without it, I very much doubt this would have been published in a book.

The Warmth of Other Suns
Isabel Wilkerson
Read for Kenton Library Book Group
Much like the book the Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, I groaned at seeing how very large this book was.  And much like the Mitfords, I loved every minute of it.  Wilkerson tracks the great diaspora of African Americans living in the South to all points north.  Demographically, this happened between 1910 and the 1970s.  Wilkerson interviewed over 1200 people who migrated  and her book combines the personal narratives of three people while she sets the stage with historical data and bits and pieces of other people's stories.  It's compelling, engrossing, frustrating and heartbreaking. It patiently makes the point, over and over again how we are not a country that gives every citizen a chance to succeed. And it made me wonder how much more successful we would be if we did give everyone the same chance. This book was life changing and I highly recommended it.

Picture Books
Thomas Jefferson: Life Liberty & the Pursuit of Everything
Maira Kalman
Read for Librarian Book Group
She makes pretty pictures.  And she talks about Sally Hemmings in an age appropriate way.

Little Poems for Tiny Ears
Lin Oliver & Tommie dePaola
Read for Librarian Book Group
I loathed these poems.  And the illustrations weren't my type either.  Way too cutesy.

Baby Bear
Kadir Nelson
Read for Librarian Book Group
Pretty illustrations.  Text was not fabulous.

Hi, Koo
Jon J. Muth (sp)
Read for Librarian Book Group
Eh.  It bugged me his Haiku were not 5-7-5.  I liked the illustrations.  Cute little "find the alphabet game" incorporated in text.

Dream Dog
Lou Berger & David Catrow
Read for Librarian Book Group
The illustrations were very Seussian (though I found the father to be leaning toward a slightly offensive stereotype) and I liked the dream dog.  I was not at all happy with the ending.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Postcard from Texas

But the postcard itself is from California, where Marie visited for her 35th birthday.

Three sentence movie reviews: We Bought a Zoo

Cameron Crowe has made more than a few films in my personal pantheon (including my tied-for-favorite-film-ever-made Almost Famous*).  So I guess he gets to slack and make a pleasant film with no surprises and a nice plot.  I was entertained, but not in love.

Cost:  Free from library
Where watched: at home.

poster from:

*Tied with Singing in the Rain

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: The Grand Budapest Hotel

This had everything I like in a Wes Anderson movie, but I can't say I liked it.  Maybe I was tired, but the plot didn't grab me and I kept closing my eyes for brief periods.   The acting was good, the sets were good, the costumes were there, the sense of whimsy was present, but it just didn't work for me.

Cost:  Free thanks to Oscar Party winning prize.
Where watched:  Regal Lloyd Center 10, with S. North.

poster from:

Parking lot disorientation.

The movie theater is on the right side of this picture, in line with that tall building in the middle.  The last time I was here, there was just a huge parking lot and the orientation was different. Now?  We have a diagonal path for the pedestrians (yay!) and lots of bioswales for the rain to escape too.  It was disorienting, but fun!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: 10 Years

I'm giving another shout-out to this quiet little film, which I liked just as much the second time around as I did the first.  It's not life-changing, but it's fun to watch and I've had worse times at the movies.  Plus, it's packed full of people you will recognize, (but from where?) including Oscar Issac, who everyone loved in Inside Lleweyn Davis.

Cost:  I think I paid $7.00 to buy it?
Where watched:  at home.

poster from:
Note that this is a hideous poster.  Don't judge by the poster.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Essay: What I need to be creative.

It’s spring break and I have finally started sewing the two dresses I originally planned to have finished for the first day of school.  The first day of school plan didn’t happen, and I assumed that after the big exhaustion that is September, I would have them finished by the end of October, at the latest.  As you can see, that didn’t come to pass. In the months since I completed my last sewing project—the uniform aprons—I’ve had no energy to put in the direction of sewing.  My creative spark has been drained.  That got me thinking about what I need to be creative.

There are a few areas in my life that I see as my creative realms:  sewing, writing and gardening.  I think that this last fall/winter/spring, writing has really sucked up all of my creative allotment, leaving no room for sewing or gardening.  I’d like to achieve more of a balance among the three, but not at the expense of the amount of writing I’ve been doing.  It sounds like a tall order.  But here’s what I need to be creative at all.

A regular routine.  I first learned the power of a routine from Flylady ( and her lessons have been reinforced by HabitRPG.  (*  Both of those philosophies encourage me to do things regularly, before they become overwhelming.  When I was writing the first draft of the novel I’m working on, I felt like writing 500 words per day was a pace I could keep up and so my routine was that every day I had to write at least 500 words.  If I wrote more, that was fine, but if I missed a day, there was no writing 1000 words the next day to make up for it.  Each day gave me one chance to do my daily writing, so I had to make the most of it.  Most days I enjoyed the writing, so I didn’t need to have a hard and fast time to write, but I did try to do it “first,” either first thing in the morning—writing usurped exercise when I realized that I wasn’t motivated to go out in the cold and exercise—or first thing when I sat down at my computer for the evening.

The details of my life need to be under control.  This was also learned from Flylady and is supported by HabitRPG.  The dishes must be dealt with, the house must meet a minimal clean state, my finances have to be in order and I have to have adequate food and regular exercise.  If those things have spiraled out of control that energy tends to take over and kill any creative energy.  When things have gone undone for too long, I procrastinate more, avoiding both the undone task and the fun creative thing I would rather be doing.  I can get very stuck this way, and HabitRPG’s daily tasks really do a good job keeping me from falling into that black hole.

I can’t be obsessed with anything.  A short list of things I’ve been obsessed with in the past year:  The TV show Veronica Mars, Just One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman.  Every book by Gayle Forman.  The TV show Friday Night Lights.  Channing Tatum.  This is an area I don’t really feel like I have much control over, which disturbs me.  We don’t have cable, because it’s expensive and I would rather not be swept up in TV.  But I do get entire seasons of TV series from the library and am not very good at putting the brakes on them when I’m enjoying the narrative.  The same goes for books.  Sometimes I’m successful in setting limits, but not as often as I would like.  When I put a lot of energy into whatever I’m obsessed with, not only do I reduce the time I can be creative, I also tend to skip those all-important details which leads me down a very bad path.  I’ve got the first season of the New Girl arriving soon, and I hope I can keep things under control.

Easy accessibility.  I don’t like to spend a lot of time getting ready to be creative, I just want to jump in and do it.  With writing, it’s pretty easy, because I just turn on the computer and go.  With gardening, it can be more difficult because the three minutes it would take me to get out the tools for the day can be enough of a block that I can’t make myself start.  Sewing is even more formidable because six different things must be retrieved before beginning, then put away when I’m done.  For gardening, I’ve taken to leaving out the three most essential things I need.  With sewing, I try to make a ritual of the setup and break down.  Last spring I fell into a pattern of getting materials out on Friday after school and putting them back Sunday afternoon and that was helpful.  It wasn’t something I could do after summer, so I guess I need to refigure how I approach that.

Time.  If it’s something I’ve not done before I need a lot of time.  And it’s not even time to do the thing, what I need is vast amounts of time to roll the thing around in my head before I even begin.  I see this a lot with sewing.  If I have a complicated pattern, I need to give myself the space to read the directions and then walk away for a few hours or even a day or two.  This can be a problem when weekends are packed full of activities that aren’t sewing.  Thus, I tend to start big creative projects (sewing, home repairs, gardening) on my vacations.  When I need to do something and don’t have a ton of time, I try to focus on the smallest part of the next step and not think too far ahead.

So that’s what I need to be creative.  Knowing all this doesn’t mean I’m super successful in all my creative endeavors, but knowing these things about myself does keep me more productive, rather than flailing.  And you?

*I wrote an essay about the basics of HabitRPG which you can read here.  The site is even better now than when I wrote the essay.  Or you can read about it by just going to the site.

Postcard from Virginia

This came with news of the beginning of the sender's re-watch of the Veronica Mars TV series.

Also some instructions.

I'd like to say that I was the the one to assemble, but it was Matt.  I was having one of those vacation days when there wasn't enough time to get things done, and I just couldn't make this work.  So Matt happily assembled.  It's now a pretty bird on our pot rack.

Three sentence movie reviews: Blue Jasmine

I loved watching these two actresses navigate their adult relationship, one of them a sister who had fallen from her upper-class life, the other a working-class, good-natured woman.  Cate Blanchett kind of went to an entirely different dimension.  It was cringe-worthy, watching her try to navigate through her new life, but incredibly moving.*

Cost:  Free, thanks to Heidi M.
Where watched: At Heidi M's house.

*Also, these were some fabulous female characters, while the men were rather lacking in different areas.  Interesting that Mr. Allen can write women so well.

poster from:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Laurel Dress. Making more bias tape and a setback.

I concluded I did not have enough bias tape to complete this project, so I made some more.  Matt helped.  I have good spacial relations, but not good enough to be 100% confident that I could make the bias tape exactly as before with those stripes.  

Also, I discovered my iron has sprung  a leak.  I store it on top of the file cabinet when I'm not sewing and I discovered a wet, rusty mess below the file cabinet.  This involved moving the file cabinet and cleaning under it.

Then I propped it up on bars of soap so air would circulate under and dry the bottom, without leaving rust stains.

I felt very smart to think of this solution.

Should there be any future reference needed, this is the way you slice your stripy bias tape to get bias tape to come out vertical.

Here's my new bias tape maker!  It's the yellow thing on the right, nosed against the iron.

Here's my good helper.

And here I am sewing together sleeves.  You can see where the iron drips.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Bletchly Circle (sp)

What with the 50s-era setting, the marginalized, incredibly smart women and the intriguing mystery I was all in.  This is a great period piece and a very astute commentary about why it's important that every person gets to work to their full potential.  Also a sly commentary on movies/t.v. that marginalize women's stories.

Cost:  free
Where watched:  at a woman from Kenton Library Book Group's house.

poster from: IMDB

Progress on the Laurel Uniform dresses.

After months of nothing I have stay-stitched the neckline, joined the shoulders.  It looks more like a dress and less like pieces of material that aspire to be a dress.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Veronica Mars (again!)

Let's face it, sometimes the glee at seeing something very anticipated means you miss stuff the first time around.  So seeing this movie again was a reward for doing an odious task and a very good reward at that.  It was as fun and funny and fresh as the first time around.

Cost:  $5.00
Where watched:  Living Room Theater

poster from:

Spidey checking his cell phone.

Sunny weather!  Why not hop up on the side of the building and check your messages?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

45RPM: Both Hands Ani DiFranco

Where I match a song to specific memory

 It was perhaps inevitable that I would come across Ani DiFranco's music in college.  It was the 90s, it was a women's college, there were a bunch of girls from everywhere in the states, so DiFranco and I were fated to meet.  In this case, she showed up on a soundtrack of  a play my friend had written.  Our college was small and fostered the belief that we could do anything.  So when two women said, "Let's each write and produce a one-act and then direct it" that's exactly what happened.  Well, nearly.  The other women didn't write her own one-act, but she directed an already written one.  My friend wrote and directed, because that's the kind of woman she was.

I was enchanted by this friend: she was from Canada and had a father in the Air Force, so she had lived many different places.  She was intelligent and a strong feminist, and with a long-time boyfriend.  Strangely, she seemed just as interested in me.  Her play was the first time I saw the words of a person I knew come to life, and realized with a jolt how much of their own lives writers use in their work.  This song always reminds me of her, not only because it was used in the one-act, but also because after we left school, she disappeared, not answering the letters I wrote to her.  It turned out she had, without telling me, applied for the same full-ride scholarship to a transfer college and got it, leaving me high and dry.  I heard about her coup from a friend.  We never spoke after college.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Divergent

I found this movie to be more successful than the book, mostly due to the fact it was more fun to watch the Dauntless faction run through the streets and jump on and off trains than it was to read about it.  The story is thin, but it was well acted and the futuristic Chicago was fun to look at.  They did the Hollywood usual tamping back of the awesomeness of females, but not to the degree I've seen in other movies.*

Cost:  $5.00
Where watched:  St. Johns Cinema

poster from:

*Still looking at you, Gone Baby Gone.
But let's discuss for a moment what they did, because I found it pretty egregious.  Not once did they show Triss winning a fight, which she does a few times in the book.**  Also, in the book, she was ranked first in the Dauntless initiates.  FIRST! It was a big deal, because ranking first is important, but also because her male counterpart, Four, had also ranked first when he went through training.  This was not mentioned at all in the movie, which I found particularly telling.  Furthermore, in the book, one of the fears that Triss must overcome in her thought landscape, is having sex with Four, knowing he only wants her for her body.  In the movie, they turned this into a quasi-rape scene which is not at all the same thing.  But why show some nuance in the female psyche, when you can head right back over to that reliable rape thing?  It makes me want to spit.

**This is annoying because she spends the second book in the traditional female role of having the men take care of her, which means that we never got to see her kick ass on screen.

ps.  Oh hell, let's just add in the poster of Mr. Pamuk, while we are at it.
poster from:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Her

I was surprised to find this movie incredibly underwhelming, both in plot and visually.  Several times I found my eyes closing because it was interesting to listen to, though perhaps I just wanted a nap?  I want to blame the costumes--the men wore 40s-style wool baggy pants with 80s-style polo shirts tucked in and I found that very distracting,* but I'm guessing I wouldn't have had that reaction if the plot was more interesting.

Cost:  $7.00
Where watched:  Living Room Theaters.

poster from:

*I also found Joaquin Phoenix's mustache distracting.

Postcard from China, the Netherlands & China

Here's a pretty one from China.  One of the things I list in my Postcrossing profile is that I collect quotes.  Here's what this postcrosser said in response:
"You said that you want to collect quotes.  So I tell you, China to foreign postcard is 5 yuan (RMB)"
I giggled, I must admit.  I'll have to revise that word to "quotations"

This is from Maya, who sends this lovely view of her hometown.  She lives with her dog and six cats.

This is a beautiful place in Beijing that used to belong to the Royal Family.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Essay: On Body Size and Actresses.

Back when the Kickstarter madness happened with the Veronica Mars movie project, I mused to the boyfriend, “Kristen Bell just had a baby six weeks ago.  What’s she going to look like when they film that movie?”

Having now seen the finished product, I can say that she looked good. And she looked like she’d just had a baby.  This, of course, means she looked odd, because women who look like they’ve just had babies aren’t regulars in our movie world.

Here’s my take on where we are with female body types and media:  incredibly thin.  Look at Rose Byrne, look at Anna Kendrick, look at Emma Stone, look at Mila Kunis.  They are tiny, just one teetering step above near-emaciated, in my opinion.  Contrast that to a mid-80s Cyball Shepard or Kathleen Turner or Alley Sheedy, who lived on the thin side normal weight where they still have breasts and hips.  Those actresses looked great, but are larger than our current female standard.  It’s to the point that I’m wondering how many accidental pregnancies have been avoided in Hollywood because I’m not sure the female stars weigh enough to be ovulating.

Obviously there are all types of bodies. Some are naturally thin and lean, like Kira Knightly.* A lot of women, though, come with the type of body that has curves.  What I would like is for it to be okay to be an actress and have those curves instead of denying the hand that nature dealt.  I’m guessing that, during filming, Kristen Bell was in the normal weight range, maybe even mid-normal, but because the standard is set to incredibly thin, she looked huge.

This drives me crazy because I long for a diversity of body types in media as much as I do other types of diversity.  Hollywood has two set points for women:  incredibly thin and very large. It’s rare to see an actress I would consider normal weight.  Amy Adams was my go-to example for a long time, but she lost weight for American Hustle and it remains to be seen if it will come back to her.  The movie Pitch Perfect gives us examples of both of our standard women bodies:  the hefty Rebel Wilson, playing her fat for laughs** and all the other characters being of the uber-thin type.  It was noticeable enough for my friend to comment about the film, “I enjoyed it too. Although I had a hard time getting beyond the fact that almost everyone (except for the wonderfully uncategorizable Australian character) was so very skinny - made me wince to look at most of them. I don't even mean that ideologically, I just mean viscerally.”  I agreed with her (Ah, that's what they do now, those actresses. Starve, poor things.) and was disturbed that it had gotten to the point that I hadn’t even noticed.

(Veronica Mars movie spoiler in this paragraph)
I wanted to not care that the Veronica Mars on screen for the movie looked different than the Veronica Mars in the TV series, I really did. After all, in the series she was playing a teenager, and in the movie a woman of 28.  Women of 28 tend to weigh more than teenage girls.  But throughout the movie, I was distracted by her normal-sized shape, then annoyed at my distraction.  This distraction/annoyance ran in a constant loop for the length of the film.  The whole thing even launched into comedy for me at the pivotal scene when Logan and Veronica finally come together.  The actor who plays Logan is smaller than he was in the series and with Kristen Bell being larger, everything felt off in an amusing way.  After the movie was over, Matt and I discussed the body differences and he commented about that scene, “it was kind of like real life.”  I had to laugh, because it is what happens to (regular non-acting) couples as they age.  If the men don’t gain weight they tend to get scrawny, while the women pad up.  For a moment on screen we had reflected before us our reality, not our ideal.  The fact that the reality distracted me from the story is disturbing.

I should probably throw in a paragraph so obvious it’s worth commenting on just because it’s not worth commenting on.  Male actors don’t have this same pressure.  Though men do have pressures to meet an idealized masculine state (Chris Hemsworth, Channing Tatum and, even at times, Matt Damon are much larger than most men can ever hope to be) diversity in size of males is much more accepted.  Men who are fat (or of normal weight) tend to be comedians and in comedies, but not always.  Vince Vaughn is notorious for teetering of the edge of the body type more likely to be cast as a wise-cracking character actor, but he still gets leading man roles.  In fact, the horrendous movie The Dilemma (which I don’t recommend, except for the small Channing Tatum role) nicely summarizes the split in gender body type.  We have Vince Vaughn (incredibly airbrushed for the poster--it looks like they took off 30 pounds) and Kevin James holding down the guys-of-normal/overweight roles.  Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder round out (or not as they have few curves) the too-thin girlfriend roles. ***

So, Hollywood, put hiring women of different body types on your to-do list.  I want to see curves, I want to see hips, I want to see that good-looking is all different kinds of things.  I’m happy to report that upon a second viewing of the Veronica Mars movie, Kristen Bell just looked good, not heavy.  So it didn’t take me long to adjust.  If you start peppering your films with good actresses of every type, we probably will adjust, and will be better for it.

*Although looking at a few photos, I think she could put on a few pounds.
**And the fact that fat actresses are few and far between and only used for comedy and making fun of their body shapes is fodder for a completely different essay.
***More fodder for another essay:  the women are much better actors than the men in this film.  Yet no starring roles for them.

Postcard from Virginia

Thank goodness!

Although message written on the back of the postcard laments that it keeps snowing in Virginia.  I took a picture of the obverse, because this postcard got rather damp in its travels, washing out the ink.  Perhaps it was snowed on?  Also, I was intrigued by the stamp cancellation.  Who knew ball point pen and odd circles had become a thing with the USPS?

I don't disagree, but that doesn't mean I have $1600.00

O, the Oprah Magazine has this feature every month.  It encourages you to purchase well-made, classic things because it pays off over time.  This month they have a Burberry trench coat.  I love it.  It's beautiful, and in Portland, Oregon, would be my main coat for three of four seasons.  There's only one problem.  The cost.

My autographed copy of Rules for Becoming a Legend.

Here's what Tim wrote in my book!  You can read more about his author reading by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's about the layout, stupid.

We have our tabloid format, which I've already expressed my displeasure about.  And now there is another problem.  Here's how big the tabloid paper is when folded open.  It's too big to read on the train that way, so I fold it in half.

Except what the hell am I supposed to do when I get to the middle of the column?
I'm not sure what I did in a previous life to deserve what has become the Oregonian, but I'm very, very sorry.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: The Wolf of Wall Street

As long as you know that women are nothing more than objects,* this is a very funny movie.  It's also quite lengthy and the visuals will stick with you for a days which is unfortunate, because walking around with R-rated (though really MPAA? How is this R rated?**) visuals of women being screwed is odd when you work in an elementary school.  Excellent performances all around with a couple of Leonardo DiCaprio's speeches taking my breath away.***

Cost:  $5.00
Where watched:  St. Johns Cinema

poster from:

*Not even objects, really.  Just vessels waiting to receive copious amounts of semen in various orifices.
**Don't even get me started on the MPAA and their willingness to let women be screwed by heterosexual males, but not being okay with women enjoying sex on their own terms.
***He really is a good actor.  I forget sometimes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Veronica Mars

After many months of excited Kickstarter backer updates, the movie is here.  And it was good, just like the show was good; funny and dark and packed full of shout-outs.  Seeing it on opening night was great, because the audience reaction was phenomnal, which makes me glad I live in a town that screened the movie.

Cost:  $9.00 (and worth every penny)
Where watched:  Living Room Theaters, with Matt

poster from:

Look what I picked up.

It was on the Max.  I did what it said and picked it up.

It seems there's a travelling book thing.  And it's a big thing, with lots of books registered.
I wasn't interested in reading the book, so I left it for someone else to find, but it was fun to find it.  I'm not one who purchases books often, but when I do, I may sign up for this.

They started building that building again.

It's been on ice for several years.  The last time I posted about it was in this post in 2009.  Soon after, the recession waylaid the plans to get it built, something about not enough occupancy so the bankers pulled the funding.  But it's started again and this monolith is emerging out of the hole.


Oh bin with tiny bits of expensive cheeses I would otherwise not buy, I love you so!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Essay: Advice for those in college, or planning on going.

Some random advice to you, because these things are on my mind. 

Some things are much easier than you think they are.  Internships, for one.  If you are like I was, the name is rather intimidating.  But it’s kind of the same thing as volunteering (if you are a humanities major) or a job (if you are in one of those fields where they actually pay their interns.)  So if you have ever volunteered, or held a job, it’s pretty much the same thing, but with a spiffier title.  You apply, which can be a formal process or something like stopping by the local historical society and talking to the director, then you get the internship and you follow the directions and do as you are told.

Do what you like
Speaking of volunteering/interning/working while you are in college.  If at all possible, find things to do that interest you.  If you get work-study, try and find a work-study position that interests you, even if it doesn’t directly pertain to your major.  If you decide to volunteer, do something that is fun to you, not what you think would look good on your resume.  Same for internships.  The reason is that you might not do what you thought you were going to do after college and if you are applying for jobs that are outside of your area of study, it’s great to have some experience somewhere in your past.  It may be that you have to work food service to get you through school, but if you love to spend time with children, try and volunteer with them.  Maybe you will end up working in a school or a daycare and you will be happy you have that experience with children.

Really think about it before you get a tattoo.  Think about the placement and design for a very long time before you commit. This is because--like everything--styles of tattoos come and go.  Maybe you picked out an awesome tribal tattoo for your very first, because tribal tattoos are the coolest thing ever.  How will you feel ten years later when someone points out how clich├ęd and lame tribal tattoos are?  (Could this be an example from my actual experience?  I’ll let you decide.)  In general, I would also caution you to put those tattoos where they can be hidden, especially when you are just starting down the tattoo path.  You’ve got your whole life to splash them across your body.  Put the first ones where they can’t be seen until you know that you want to be the kind of person who has visible tattoos.  It’s possible that in 10 years, you won’t be that kind of person.

Drinking and Drugging
Think carefully about drinking and using drugs.  If you are going away to a new school, meeting really cool people and ready for new experiences, it’s tempting to dive right into everything.  But you don’t really know these new friends and who knows if they will be the kind of friends you had back home who watched out for you while you were not 100% sober.  John Green said once that there are those in college who say never to drink and those in collage to drink all the time. He advises that you probably don’t want to pick either of those factions.  If you are going to drink, do it lightly and with care.  You’ve got stuff to learn and assignments to complete.  It’s best to minimize the fallout from your social time (read: hangovers).  Also, that stuff’s expensive, and you’re probably underage which makes it illegal.

Take fun classes!  You’ve got requirements to meet, sure, but find the most interesting classes you can to fulfill those requirements.  As someone who wasn’t the biggest fan of science and math, I was pretty happy to take Botany and Anthropology to fulfill science requirements and Logic to settle the last of my Mathematics requirements.  And I turned out to be awesome at Logic, which was not an experience I had in any other math class of my education.  Maybe you love science and math but are dreading your humanities requirements.  Find the crossover classes that sound interesting.  Or just scan through the schedule and take what appeals to you.  Maybe a class in memoir writing will be just what your physics-loving self desires.

Protein and PE
Eat protein every day and take a PE class every semester.  I’m not kidding about the protein.  There’s a good chance you will become a vegetarian/be faced with an entire dining hall devoted to pasta/have to cook for yourself for the first time in your life.  Take it from me and HAVE PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL.  And PE in college is awesome, plus it makes you exercise, which is good for your stress levels and health.  Most colleges have really great choices in all areas of PE.  I took everything from Ballroom Dancing to Advanced Swimming and Diving to Mountain Biking.  I would have loved to squeeze in a hiking PE class, or learning how to kayak or scuba dive, but I had to graduate.  If you take the class with friends, you have built in social time during the week too.

That’s all the random advice for today, collegiate friends.  Good luck to you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Postcards from Minnesota

Here we have the classic Minnesota tourist postcard, the kind of postcard that many Postcrossers disdain, but I enjoy.

Here are two fun views of Minneapolis and St. Paul, with a stamp peeking over the top.

And an art show postcard of Anne Labovitz's work.

As you can tell, someone I know went to Minnesota.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Drinking Buddies

I think you could easily fall into the "Bor-ring" side of this movie, but given your life experience and how restless you are, it might also be quite fascinating. For myself, I've had the kind of jobs where you go out after work and also experienced the unfortunate and hopeless coworker sexual tension that never ends well, so I was totally in.  After I finished watching, I read that the majority of the movie was improvised I was even more impressed.

Cost: $2.00 Videorama
Where watched: at home.

poster from:
Um.  Where is Jake Johnson's copious amount of facial hair? It has been excised for the poster.  Did they think the facial hair would scare people and keep them away?
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Three sentence movie reviews: Young Adult

Yeah, so Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman should just keep writing/directing movies together as the two things they have produced have not only been awesome, but also incredible portraits of interesting (shhh, don't say it too loudly or it might not get made) women.  Charlize Theron is incredible as the unlikable Mavis Gary, but Patton Oswald--who was not listed on the cover and is only in a tiny picture on the back of the DVD--also was amazing.  Most of the movie was funny and tragic for seemingly no reason, but when I realized what the reason for the funny and tragic is, I wanted to boost Diablo Cody on my shoulders and parade her around the room.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home.

poster from:
Poster commentary.  I hate the above poster and feel it does nothing to capture the nuance of the movie.  The one below is a tiny bit better, though still not quite up to par.  I never saw the poster below, only the one above, which is categorized as version 2.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: I Give It A Year

This came to me via a preview before another movie and I was intrigued, mostly because I haven't seen much of Minnie Driver of late.  It was amusing, and I found myself caught up in how they were going to make everything come out all right in the end.  I'll let you watch and find out if they did.

Cost: $2.00 from Videorama
Where watched: at home.

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(Bonus: funny scene for people who know people who are scared of birds.  In the DVD extras we find out that in real life Rose Byrne is one of those bird-fearers)

Three sentence movie reviews: About Time

I'm kind of in the same camp as Tim's Dad and would use my power to go back to any point in my life to read everything I want to read (and perhaps catch up on my movie viewing too,) but from a cinematic standpoint,  it was probably more fun to watch Tim use his powers to get a girlfriend.  This is a sweet and clever movie that manages to unexpectedly knock it out of the park near the end.  Highly recommended.

ps.  The wedding in this has become my new favorite wedding-in-film scene.

Cost: $2.00 from Videorama
Where watched: at home.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Mt. Hood sunset

Sometimes the mountain is so pretty it hurts.