Saturday, August 28, 2010


I just spent a lovely morning. Up at 9:30; breakfast of half a chocolate muffin and coffee, which is unusual for me but also quite American. Dropped off my latest Netflix rental (The Runaways, which I enjoyed more this second time around; the commentary with Kristen, Dakota, and Joan was also very good) and headed off to Scottsdale Fashion Square.

It takes two buses to get there, but the second distance is so short that I walked instead. Very pleasant fifteen, twenty minute walk; the weather is still shying from the 100's and even cautious of the 90's, so it wasn't overly warm. Then to the mall itself. A little window-shopping before stopping at Sephora. I had two things in mind. One was to claim my free birthday gift (a mascara, eye liner, and eye shadow -- not bad at all just for being a member of their rewards program). The other was to try out Urban Decay's eye primer, which comes in the most enchanting bottle. Now, I have trouble with eye makeup. Regular liner doesn't stay put on the top; only liquid does. Eye shadow? Forget it. I've had to make do with putting only lighter colors right above my lid, but that's weird and doesn't allow me to play with all the fun colors and techniques. Neither Merle Norman's nor mark's primers have helped. But Urban Decay . . . oh, I swoon. Shadow generally starts to crease not two minutes after I put it on, but I've had this Urban-Decay-primer-enhanced one on for about three hours, a portion of that out walking in the 90 degree sun. And it's still on. I'm thrilled; I'm ecstatic; I'm amazed.

Getting home, I must've been suffering ill-effects of my American breakfast: I was craving a greasy lunch. "What do I have that's greasy?" I wondered without hope. Ah -- I put a veggie burger to heat on the stove, two slices of Trader Joe's Whole Grain bread in the toaster, added a slice of cheese, and got a couple of sticks of celery to add to the side. Yes, that was my "greasy" lunch. Very beautiful, though. 

Now, I think my geology textbook (and subsequent quizes) call to me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Phantom Once Was Grotesque

I just watched the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera last night. (On Netflix, yes; I told you I'm addicted to it).

I'm a big fan of the recent movie-based-on-Andrew-Lloyd-Webber's-musical, and I also found the book itself . . . interesting. While the former is a great musical/love story spectacle, the latter is a strange evoking of that fascination for the grotesque. Gerard Butler (in the Andrew Lloyd Webber) makes a great character for that particular piece, yet I sometimes wish that the musical I enjoy had some more of the qualities of the book.

Enter the 1925 version. Not only is it black-and-white (except for some blue, red, etc, tinted scenes), but it is also silent. There is instrumental music and some singing when appropriate, but the dialogue is shown on screen shots. We've all seen that . . . watched a whole movie like that, though? I hadn't. It's difficult at first, being so used to modern film, yet quite fascinating. The entire acting method is different. Actors couldn't rely on lines because they didn't come out of their mouths; mood had to be portrayed more physically. Speaking of the physical, there is also a whole different mise-en-scene than a modern movie has.

But what I'm more interested in is the phantom himself. Gerard Butler isn't bad-looking, and his mask only covers half his face, making it easier to forget that he is a horribly disfigured monster. When we finally see it off, it just looks like he's recovering from a couple of burns; he doesn't look grotesque. But the 1925 phantom does. Sure, he might be a little laughable to a modern audience, too, but can anyone deny that he looks creepy? And acts creepy, evil, and pitiable like the book phantom does. Going along with this idea, you can actually see Christine's book perspective on him. First she thinks she's her angelic teacher, then he's mysterious and frightening, then she gets to see both the black part of his soul and the part that wishes it could be good and received by the world as good. None of this love triangle thing like in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (not to criticize that choice: it works well within the framework of the separate story he created).

It seems that no one who creates a portrayal of this book tries to make it the book; the 1925 did some things I really liked, while remaining different. I did, however, enjoy having a character (Leroux was his name, I think) much like the book's the Persian. I always liked the Persian; there is something slightly humorous to his scenes as he shows Raoul around the phantom's crooked lair. I actually got a little giddy when I saw that the mirrored torture chamber was in this movie. I love the bizarreness of that scene, so it was wonderful seeing it on screen. (Off-topic: I've actually been in one of those mirror-rooms, this one was lit only by strings of white Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. I was excited to imagine I was in the book, but as soon as I got in and couldn't find my way to the door on the other side, the irrational adrenaline kicked in. I chickened out and followed along the wall to the door.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Have School Spirit?

I don't know how other schools work, but here at ASU, we have a "tradition" of whitewashing the A (up on a little slope, like the letters for cities are), before classes start up; it gets painted yellow again after the first home game. I'm not usually involved in things like this, but somehow I found myself there today around 4:15. AKA the middle of the afternoon.

What was the high today? Low, actually -- it's been around 110 lately; I don't think it rose that much today. But there was an intense thunderstorm last night, so there was lingering humidity. And 103, 110, what's the difference when you find yourself climbing a desert hill under the afternoon sun? But, you know, I wasn't really hot; I was more thirsty since I somehow decided to leave my water bottle in the car. But I had just drank plenty before that, so neither was that such an issue. Rather, it was a nice time.

I know I'm strange, but the plants up there were pretty: stick shrubs and cactuses. Plenty of fun rocks, too. Whitewashing the A didn't take up much of our time; it was more a matter of getting up to the top where we wanted to be, then taking the right pictures with all the right cameras. And then getting down again. (I outsmarted everyone by taking the best path while they toiled in the rocky area, but that doesn't surprise you, does it?)

The point of my little story? There is fun to be found in life. Even when you're not trying to find it, it'll slow down for you; the thing is to be ready when you have the chance.

Monday, August 16, 2010


1. I started a new blog yesterday called Bella Swan Reporting. It is perhaps more delirious than this one. Check it out here.

2. The Hillywood Show has released a teaser trailer for their Eclipse parody. It's short, but does gear you up for the real thing (which I'm really looking forward to). Watch it here.

3. Did I say Emma Shapplin's new album, Macadam Flower, was only okay? I changed my mind; I'm loving it.

4. I am now finished watching I Dream of Jeannie. That goes for the pilot, seasons one through five, and the two follow-up movies. I love this show, I love this show, I love this show. If the remake movie does come out in the next couple years (like for Get Smart and Bewitched), I may have to see it on opening day. But I'll probably be disappointed, anyway. Only Barbara Eden, Bill Daily, and Larry Hagman can do it right. There's such a delicate balance in this show, and it's so sweet, that it's hard to imagine it in anyone else's hands.

5. I have finally started reading Charlotte Bronte's The Professor. It seemed a drier book than the rest, which is why it took me so long to pick it up (it's been on my shelf for years). But it's just as amazing so far as her others. More when I finish it.

6. I realize why kitchen sinks are generally built in front of windows. There is something depressing about standing in front of a wall while you wash dishes; it makes the task much harder to get into. (As you can guess, the sink in my apartment faces a wall, not a window).

7. Summer will be officially over for me on Thursday. Lovely. I just can't wait to get back to reading, writing, reading, writing all day. (Excuse my pessimism: I don't hate it all that much).

8. If I think of two more things to say, then this will look a more complete list at 10 items.

9. There is a strange wind blowing outside. Strange because it has the appearance of cold, what with its accompaniment of clouds, yet is thick with warmth. Odd dessert.

10. I completed my second scrapbook yesterday and realize I have a tendency towards obsessions. I keep scraps, not pictures in my scrapbook. Pieces from hotels, napkins from planes, movie tickets. Then there are all the Disneyland maps, the Lord of the Rings and Narnia scraps, and now the Twilight ones. I don't think I want to face the facts about what this means about me . . .

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Liz's Latest

I count Liz Curtis Higgs among the few modern authors whose work I enjoy past the "good read" state. Her Bookends fell into the latter pile for me, but the Thorn In My Heart trilogy (and its add-on book, Grace In Thine Eyes) I found more compelling. Liz has a way of taking your heart, pulling it away, and twisting it all around -- you care about her characters that much. 

This spring, Here Burns My Candle was released. I fussed over not having the time to read it until summer came (forgive me for not being a speed-reader, but having to read books like The Mill on the Floss in two weeks on top of other work just doesn't leave much extra reading time for me). Then once summer did come, I found I needed a break, not more reading. So it took me a while to start. Then to get into the book.

Once I did, however, well, Liz did it to me again. Here Burns My Candle is loosely based upon the book of Ruth in the Bible, which means that if you know that story, you already know where the novel is headed. (As in, you already know who is going to die and how. . .) That should just spoil any suspense or tense emotion, right? Nope. In the beginning, I was sitting around waiting for it to happen ("Hello, dead character. When are you going to go ahead and die?"), but when it finally did, the moment was just as heartbreaking.

I find the angle Liz took with this story interesting. I assumed that mother and daughter would, from the beginning, have a natural kinship, leading to Ruth/Elizabeth's decision to stay with her. But Liz gave them a natural antagonism which builds into a deep bond as the two go through individual growth. 

Bringing a Bible story to late 18th century Scotland sounds . . . odd, but it's perfect. All the events that need to happen tie in, and Liz Curtis Higgs has done her research, from people and colloquialisms down to food and habits. Recommended if you like a good dramatic historical novel whose substance will last past the pages.