Category Archives: Miscellany

Movie Reviews: The Hobbit and Les Miserables

Sorry I haven’t posted much recently.  I am not really a fan of Christmas and apparently my grouchiness this year ruined it for everyone.  I was going to post about my reasons for hating Christmas but my mom said “Please don’t” so I guess I won’t.  Instead, here are a couple of movie reviews.

THE HOBBIT

I’m afraid this review is going to sound more negative than I intend so let me start by saying that overall, I thought it was pretty good.  I am a fan of the book and a fan of the 1977 Jules Bass cartoon (notwithstanding the terrible soundtrack and super cheese of the naming of Sting) so going into this I had some heavily entrenched preconceived notions of what The Hobbit should be.  This is why I’m probably being overly critical about some aspects of the film and that upon future viewings my opinion may improve.

The good:

  •  I loved that they included certain elements of the 1977 film version in this version.  Bilbo’s attire is very reminiscent of the 1977 film and there are several scenes, Blunt the Knives, the encounter with Gollum, and the rescue by eagles spring to mind, that were wonderfully reminiscent of the cartoon version.
  • Much of the dialog in the scenes that actually came from The Hobbit was taken verbatim from the book.
  • It was visually stunning.
  • Either there were fewer forced perspective issues (the relative sizes of hobbits, dwarves, elves, and men shifting throughout the movie) than there were in The Lord of the Rings trilogy or I have just gotten used to it and don’t notice it as much now.  That drove me crazy in LOTR.

The bad:

  • There were numerous incontinuities in the crossover LOTR scenes.
  • I missed Bilbo talking to himself.  I felt that it lessened his character development not to hear his inner monologue.
  • It really should have been a single movie that told Bilbo’s story.  That’s what The Hobbit was.  Bilbo’s story from Bilbo’s perspective.  It was not really intended as a prequel to LOTR and I liked that about it.  LOTR does a fine job of telling its story,  we didn’t need more.
  • I felt that whole reluctant hero story got buried.  Sad.
  • The decision to do heavy prosthetics on some dwarves and none on others was a poor choice.  It ended up being a band of dwarves and humans vs a band of dwarves. There should have been more continuity and less thinly veiled attempt to have a couple of attractive lead characters.

In summary, I felt that folding in other stories to build a LOTR prequel destroyed the essence of what The Hobbit is.  The Hobbit is supposed to be Bilbo’s book, There and Back Again: A Hobbit’s Holiday, or more generally, it is supposed to be Bilbo’s individual story.  As a movie it was good.  As The Hobbit, however, it overreached and in doing so, it lost a lot of what made The Hobbit my favorite of the Middle Earth stories.  I didn’t want a LOTR prequel.  I didn’t want, in this film, to know more of the story of the dwarves.  I wanted the story of an ordinary hobbit thrown begrudgingly into extraordinary situations and exceeding his own expectations.

LES MISERABLES

Les Miserables was Les Miserables.  In terms of being a film adaptation of a theatrical musical, it as by far the best I have ever seen.  As a show, there are things I love about Les Mis and things I hate about it.  In the film, the good, the bad, the convoluted, and the skimmed over were all brilliantly and beautifully portrayed.  Generally though, I’ve always felt that Les Mis tries to pack too much in.  It’s a bit long and bogged down in spots, and I can’t even express how much I hate the shallow “love” story of Marius and Cosette.  That said, it also has one of my favorite minor characters ever, Gavroche, Fantine’s and Eponine’s stories are always heartbreaking, no matter how many times you see it, and the soundtrack is absolutely amazing.

The good:

  • Anne Hathaway was perfect.  If she doesn’t win an Oscar there is no justice in the world.
  • Hugh Jackman was really good as Jean Valjean, which is no easy task.  That is a HARD role.  I had a few gripes with his performance but they were minor, like the choice to speak rather than sing certain lines.
  • Visually, OMG.  The things that were supposed to be beautiful were breathtaking and the things that were supposed to be horrible were difficult to watch.
  • I applaud the choice to show certain songs entirely in close-up.  The effect was gut wrenching emotion that I don’t think could have been achieved in any other way.
  • The young children were played by young children.  I am so tired of the kids being too old in movie adaptations of books, plays, etc.
  • This is a very difficult show vocally.  I was skeptical when I saw the all star line up and was mostly very pleasantly surprised.
  • Gavroche 🙂

The bad:

  • The things I don’t like about Les Mis as a show were all still there.
  • Russell Crowe was completely devoid of emotion as Javert.  Javert is supposed to be a very passionate character and Crowe seemed to be merely going through the motions.
  • Russell Crowe is a mediocre singer.  This would have been okay for many, many other shows but Les Mis IS the music.  He was a poor choice for a show that rests so heavily on stunning vocals.  Also, I found his voice weirdly reminiscent of the cowardly lion (1939) and kept expecting him to bust out some severe vibrato.  Luckily he refrained from being king of the fore-e-e-e-e-est.
  • I’m really on the fence about Sasha Baron Cohen’s performance.  I can’t decide if I didn’t like him as Thenardier or if my judgment was clouded by the fact that I just don’t like him in general.  Thenardier and his wife are kind of a wild card in Les Mis anyway.  They are the comic relief in a very dark and depressing show and they walk a fine line between being too dark to provide comic relief (they are, after all, the most despicable characters in the show) and being cartoonishly slapsticky and over the top.  Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter leaned toward the dark side, which was  a good choice, I think.  Like I said, I’m on the fence.  I liked Helena Bonham Carter’s performance, once I got over Mrs. Lovett (the roles are very similar) being married to Thenardier.

In summary, if you like Les Mis as a show you’ll probably love the movie.

 

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Come with me and you’ll be …

in a world of surprisingly little imagination.
This will (hopefully) come as a surprise to many of you, but I am severely challenged in the suspension of belief / imagination department.  I suppose you could say I’m creative.  I like to do things with my hands.  I used to draw pretty well.  I kind of sculpt a little and am good at thinking of things to sculpt.  I can jury rig just about anything.  I’m good at stuff like that.  I can’t enjoy fiction like most people though.  Most books won’t hold my attention.  Sad movies never make me cry.  I get overly distracted by plot holes and predictability in scripts.  OMG, I do not understand pen and paper RPG’s.  People who refer to playing video games like they’re actually in them baffle me.  I just completely and utterly lack the ability to pretend I am someone else or to get immersed in a story I know didn’t really / isn’t really happening.  All of my witticisms are simply twists on existing things.  Puns, parodies, satirical jabs, and sarcasm.  Even my “art” if you can call it that, is reproduction or combining existing things in new ways.  This doesn’t really bother me or anything.  I’m just baffled by how others seem to do it so easily.

My daughter wears a fairy costume at renaissance festivals.  Her fairy has props and a back story, heck, she has a whole fairy world where different types of fairies live in different places and whatnot.  For example, she lives in a sunflower and drinks an elixir that makes her people sized so she can interact with humans when she wants to.  Flower fairies and tree fairies have bad blood between them.  They’re easy to tell apart though because tree fairies have pointy ears.  There aren’t really any rock fairies but it’s considered very posh to live in a geode.   She thinks they’re really too flashy and quite uncomfortable though, so she doesn’t really see what all the fuss is about.

I’ve worked at Ren faires for 7 years and I can’t even maintain the same accent all day, let alone come up with a back story.

It’s the same with Andy and his gamers.  They’ll play a game and then stand around and reminisce about it like it not only actually happened but like they weren’t all just there.  Or Andy will tell some story about gaming or airsoft or whatever and his friends all play along like he just got back from a tour overseas and is telling legit war stories.
I contemplated playing the Dresden Files RPG until I discovered I couldn’t just say I was Molly would have to create a character and then try to think and act like that character.  What?!?!  I totally can’t do that.

The ability to think in stories like that is just so weird and foreign to me.  Heck, even as a kid when we played Barbies I really just wanted to dress them up and fix their hair.  I never cared about whatever little scenario we were supposed to be playing out.

I’m not really sure what the point of any of this is other than it occurred to me to find it odd that the lifelong weird girl who wanted to grow up to be an artist utterly lacks an imagination.  I guess it’s a good thing I’m smart and a good technical writer or I guess I’d be screwed.  Also, I always did suck at ending things that I write so, um, the end.

 

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It’s not herpes!

PSA – This is a pimple.

It is a very large and disgusting pimple, but a pimple nonetheless.

Pretty much the only place I ever get pimples is right next to my lip.  I think this is probably because I lick my lips a lot.  I also have the unfortunate nervous habits (or neuroses?) of chewing my lip, chewing on my nails / fingertips, and rolling my lower lip between my thumb and index finger when I’m concentrating.  I try not to do these things, but I don’t always succeed.

Before I continue, I want to say, I mean no disrespect to people who have the herpes virus and unfortunately have to live with herpes mouth sores.  I don’t think it means anything negative about you and understand that most people actually contract it as children through harmless daily interactions.

That said, I hate looking like I have herpes.  It’s awful and makes me more self-conscious than I already am.  Plus just having a lip pimple is bad enough without having people think its herpes.  Lips are very sensitive.  Lip pimples are, in my experience, huge, very puss filled, and cause a lot of swelling.  They also take FOREVER to heal.   Plus, because my lip pimple makes my lip swell, it feels funny so I unconsciously keep touching it, which only prolongs the eternity in which I have to live with it grossing up my lip.

If I had other pimples, it probably wouldn’t be as bad.  But when it’s just one, and it’s on your lip, everyone assumes you have the herps.  I am so neurotically worried about this stupid pimple that I have actually questioned whether it might prevent me from getting  a job and have wondered if people go behind me disinfecting things in the office after I leave.  Yes, I know this is irrational!  Haven’t you figured out yet that I am a highly irrational person?

I have had my current facial monstrosity for about a week and it hasn’t improved in the slightest.  Because I can’t stop touching the stupid thing, today I resorted to drastic measures and covered it with a waterproof band-aid.

Somehow this is better in my mind.  I mean, anything could be under there.  Rather than a pimple, maybe I was punched in the mouth during some domestic violence, or maybe I was in a car accident and a piece of windshield cut my lip, or maybe I have such chronically dry skin that it just cracked open.  None of those things would make people wipe down my keyboard while I’m at lunch, right?

These are seriously things that I worry about.  It’s no wonder I’m socially awkward.  I don’t even know how to function inside my own head!

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wiener cheese

EDIT: years later I sort of regret writing this. It was in jest at the time, but I seriously am very anti-circumcision. It’s cosmetic genital mutilation and it’s not okay. I’m leaving the post up but please know, I am in no way intending to reinforce stupid rationales for preforming unnecessary cosmetic surgery on infants.

Lamey: I don’t know why, but I find the 10th Doctor really attractive.  I think it’s his mannerisms.

Me: He’s too skinny AND he’s European so he’s likely uncircumcised.  I for one am glad we’ve adopted a draconian and barbaric custom of mutilating the genitals of baby boys in this country.  Uncircumcised wieners look like big ‘ol slugs.  I don’t want to see that coming at me.  Ugh.

Lamey: They are ugly, but not that bad so long as the guy is clean and takes care of his junk.

Me: Ewwww  wiener cheese!

Lamey: Haha  wiener cheese always makes me picture that stereotypical wedge of cartoon swiss.  I just imagine some guy walking around with swiss wedges falling out his pant leg and them lying all over the floor.

We laughed and went back to watching Doctor Who.  Lamey was folding laundry.  Then I remembered Andy had a foam block of cartoony swiss in the cabinet behind me.  (He’s a Packers fan.  We just have these things lying around)  So I reached behind me and found the foam cheese.  Then placed it on the table in the middle of Lamey’s folded laundry when she wasn’t looking.  She literally almost peed when she saw it.

That all happened last week, but for some reason I thought about it again this morning.  Not being one to let a joke die, I grabbed my camera and Andy’s cheesehead and proceeded to blow up Lamey’s facebook wall with wiener cheese photos.  I had such a good time creating them, I decided to share with my lovely blog reading audience.  So, without further ado, an album I like to call, “dirty house guest”.

In case you’re wondering, I wiped down the toilet seat with a Clorox wipe first.

It’s a little ridiculous the lengths I’ll go to for a laugh, even when I’m the only one laughing.

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The “V” Word

Who has 2 thumbs and does not give a sh*t about Valentine’s Day?

No.  Honey-badger doesn’t have thumbs.  I was referring to this girl,

me.

You may be thinking, “but that doesn’t make sense.  You have both a significant other and a girl parts.  How can you hate Valentine’s Day?  I thought you people made that crap up?”

I’m pretty sure some sadistic douche-bag made it up, actually.  Valentine’s Day is the one day a year designed to make absolutely everyone feel like crap.  Think about it:

Scenario 1:  You have a boyfriend / girlfriend.  Good for you.

A – You buy that person a well thought out gift. In return, he or she gets you some red plastic wrapped crap readily available in every retail establishment in the U.S..  Now you’re disappointed and your significant other feels bad for disappointing you.  Awesome.

B – Reverse the above.  Now you’re the recipient of some well thought out gift but you just grabbed some generic crap at the store.  Now you feel like a tool for not putting enough thought into it when your s.o. was so thoughtful.

C – You both do something really wonderful for one another.  That’s great and you’re both happy until you realize you’ve now set precedent for doing something great on Valentine’s Day.  Now you’re under pressure to perform at least equally well for the duration of your relationship.  Wonderful!  as if there wasn’t enough pressure already.

D -You both just exchange some crappy gift you picked up with little thought.  Big freaking deal.  Why even bother?

E – You do something really wonderful and then make the mistake of telling at least 1 single friend about it.  Congratulations, you’re a jerk.

F – You do something completely meaningless and lame and tell at least 1 single person about it.  You’re still a jerk.

G – You both do something really wonderful for one another and later break up.  Now, not only will you be lonely and feel like a loser on future Valentine’s Days, you’ll have the added bonus of this painful memory of happier times associated with the day too.  Bitter much?

H – You decide to ignore it and hope it goes away. “Surprise!  I’m a jerk who didn’t get you anything.  Thanks for the gift though.”

I – You go out for a nice meal.  So does everyone else in the western hemisphere.  You really would have had a much nicer night out any other day of the year.

Scenario 2 – You’re single

A – No matter what type of A-I Valentine’s Days you’ve had in the past, you feel like the entire world is happier than you. You spend the entire day wallowing in self-pity and decide you’re a loser.

Scenario 3 – It’s February, you’re in a crappy relationship and want to break up.

A – You stay in the relationship until after Valentine’s Day just so you won’t be single.  Now anything you do to celebrate is a lie and you’re  a jerk.

B – You go ahead and break up.  Double whammy!  Now not only are you a jerk for not waiting until after Valentine’s Day, you’ll also be newly single for the self-pity wallow ahead.

You can see where this is going.  It’s a horrible day!  Why do we keep allowing it to exist?  Guilt?  Pressure?

If you need a designated day to tell your significant other how you feel about him / her, your relationship needs more than some flowers or a nice dinner out.  Gestures of love and appreciation mean so much more when they aren’t forced and expected.  Honestly, if Andy comes home with a pack of M&M’s because he was out and thought I would like to have a little something, that means 100x more to me than a whole box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  It matters to me that he thought about me, on his own, without coaxing, and did something nice for me just because he wanted to.

If you still think you need a date on the calendar on which to show your love, you already have one.  It’s called your ANNIVERSARY.  And you know what, no one else feels bad about their own relationship status because you had a nice anniversary.  Anniversaries also mean more because you are individually responsible for remembering it, rather than having it thrown in your face every time you turn on a TV or walk into a store.  (Note:  I am absolutely hypocritical for writing this entire paragraph.  I SUCK at remembering our anniversary.  I’m not even sure what the exact date is.  It’s some time in December.)

So friends, this is my appeal to you.  STOP VALENTINE’S DAY.  Lets all put our collective feet down and say, you know what, I’m not going to participate anymore.  I am not going to allow the date February 14th to mean anything to me.  It’s just a day like any other day and I don’t care about it. It’s just a day.  It can’t bully you unless you let it.

In closing, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I don’t care.  Andy and I are going to watch a movie because that’s what we do on Tuesdays.  I’m thinking I’ll probably make grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner.  I am more than ok with doing absolutely nothing to commemorate the day and in my opinion, that’s how it should be.

As an aside, to anyone thinking “but Andy just gave you a pair of freaking sweet Darth Maul Force FX lightsabers for Valentines Day”, he DID NOT.  They just happened to arrive last week and he just happened to buy them in February because that’s when he got his income tax return which, for a change, wasn’t already spent on home repairs.  The fact that he didn’t wait and give them to me on February 14 actually made them mean more to me.  So there.

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More chalkboard graffiti

I’ve decided to expand my chalk drawings beyond wieners and boobs.

Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?

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