Friday, June 29, 2012

June Favorites

1) Raw Shea Butter - Throw out the lotion, everyone--raw shea butter is ten times better, and you don't have to worry about "extra" ingredients. It's perfect for dry skin, and is supposedly good as a sunscreen, as well (which is good because my dislike of certain ingredients means I can't even remember the last time I used sunscreen, despite living in Arizona). I've also been putting it on my face at night every so often. I love this stuff--I wish I'd discovered it sooner.

2) Cat Scarf - This is an estate sale find, and what a find. It's silk (naturally) and from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has a cat on it. There were several other unique scarves (many from Paris), but I didn't feel like the patterns on them were as much my style.

3) Pearl Necklace - I had been wanting a long string of pearls for a while, especially now that the 1920's have been roaring their influence so much lately. Usually I stay away from fake pearls, but since this one was probably vintage (I think . . .) and a good price, I went for it.

4) Bracelet Trio - At 50 cents for three any three bracelets, I chose two wooden ones and a silly bright green plastic one. I wouldn't have been interested in bracelets before, but my Hillywood wristband has gotten me a little more used to them.

5) Lipstick Display - Although this piece is plastic, when I saw it sitting on an antique store shelf, I thought it had a look like green milk glass. It has flowers on the sides, and is perfect for displaying makeup instead of hiding it. Now I just need a vanity to put it on . . .

6) Earth 2 - I'm only a few episodes into this TV series, and I keep going back and forth from thinking that it's not the greatest and that it's rather interesting. I'll post again once I finish all the episodes.

7) New Jane Eyre - Three times is the charm, right? I have my battered first copy of this book and my pretty Barnes & Noble leather-bound, so why not add in a vintage copy (it isn't too old, but still)? Plus, it was 50% off, so how could I resist?

8) Flourless Chocolate Cake - I love how easy this cake is to make, provided you have some good chocolate lying around (which I nearly always do, thanks to Chocablogging). Just melt chocolate and butter, add eggs, whisk in sugar and then cocoa powder, and put in the oven (I don't promise those are all the steps . . .), and out comes a decadent dessert.

9) Polka Dot Scarf - Remember when I was whining a couple weeks ago about not being able to get that scarf I wanted? Well, I found one to replace it at World Market, and have you guessed yet why I wanted this scarf? That's right--it looks similar to the scarf Abby wears in Season 1 of Primeval.

10) St. Dalfour Tea - I used to drink St. Dalfour's Earth Grey tea all the time, but it's been about three years since I had any. Some Black Cherry has reminded me of what I loved about this brand, though I still prefer the Earl Grey. But if you're looking for a good tea, try St. Dalfour--it's fresh and flavorful and isn't $15 like so many other "nice" teas these days (okay, so that's probably the price for the more adventurous flavors, not the plain ones, but you get my point).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Island on Bird Street

Though the comparison is far from exact, the movie that The Island on Bird Street most reminded me of was Hugo. Both feature a young boy as protagonist, one who is left alone in a secluded and potentially hostile environment yet who manages to survive and to maintain hope.

But The Island on Bird Street is more stark than Hugo; it has less of the flowery, magical imagination (though it does feature some; it's just different) and more of the brutality of war. This has to do with its setting: no French train station here, but rather a WWII-Era ghetto in Poland. Though Hugo has some dialogue-free scenes, it's talkative compared with The Island on Bird Street, which is most often quite quiet and what most people would call slow (I didn't find it slow in at all a bad way--but I know that some people need a different kind of pace). As I said, it doesn't gloss over war's cruelties, yet Alex tries to keep himself positive, entertaining himself with Robinson Crusoe (which is, of course, no accidental book choice) and his pet mouse and never giving up hope that his father will return.

Spoilers below the jump.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Adventures of Connor & Abby: Part 5

It should be assumed by now, but please remember that there are spoilers in this post.

It was all going along so well in the early days, when Connor would pick up an anomaly on the detector . . .

He and Abby would go into the field to deal with any creatures and lock the anomaly as soon as possible.

But then came the day when Jess found that the newest anomaly was in fact in Connor's lab; Abby wasn't pleased to learn that he had created the first man-made anomaly.

Of course, it was just a prototype for a much larger anomaly at New Dawn, which Connor, to Abby's despair, would sadly fall into while trying (finally) to shut it down.

But as we know, that wasn't the end for them, nor, I believe, is this the end of Connor & Abby's Adventures.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Little Larry - Virgin Media Shorts

Little Larry - Virgin Media Shorts

A couple months ago, I mentioned my discovery of Keychain Productions; their latest short film, which you can view at the link above, is in a contest by Virgin Media. As you can guess by the title, it is along the same lines as the Little Lilly videos, so I recommend watching those on YouTube first (start with Little Lilly--Colour Blind, then move on to Chapters Two and Three).

At first, this new short is very much similar material to that first Little Lilly video, but its approach is slightly different. (Since I'm not interesting in summarizing, go watch it now if you haven't yet so that you'll understand what I'm talking about--it's only two minutes in length.) Larry, as the adult stuck as a child, reminds me inevitably of J.M. Barrie (who wrote Peter Pan), although I'm glad to see he was able to find out how to grow up in the end. Speaking of the ending . . . I love it. With the ending, we see the return of Little Lilly (after how many years?) and the color return to Larry's life as the two learn how to grow up, morphing from the child actors to Hannah and Andrew.

It's ultimately a very enlightening short, acknowledging that sometimes life isn't easy but also that it's easier to be hopeful when you're around the right people.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Winnie the Pooh & Toy Story

In one of my classes a couple of years ago (in the time before class actually started, that is), someone was pronouncing that Toy Story could/should be included in the list of great movie trilogies. Toy Story 3, of course, was nominated for awards right alongside live action movies, not a small feat for an animated film. Then there was the attitude people of my generation were able to bring to that last movie: the first had come out when we were young, the target age for animated movies. The second came out a little later. Then the third came when we were in college, just like Andy was leaving for college in the movie. That movie was made for those of us who were going through those same progressions.

Toys coming alive, worlds of fantasy within normal worlds, innocence and growing up, childhood preceding school. By summary and even in many ways by theme, Toy Story is like a modern Winnie the Pooh. Christopher Robin becomes Andy, Winnie the Pooh becomes Woody, Tigger is somewhat like Buzz (in the fact that he is the "newcomer"), Kanga is like Bo in that (initially, at least) they are both the female character among many male characters, and so on.

Though Christopher Robin is actually with his toys when they walk and talk in the Hundred Acre Wood, and Andy's toys only move when he isn't around, both have their special relationship with their toys. And the Winnie the Pooh books do progress from the toys'/animals' perspectives rather than Christopher Robin's; he steps in and out of the woods, but they stay and live their "lives" there, just like Andy's toys have their own goings on.

But it's the combination of innocence and tragedy (similar to Peter Pan, but not so intense as that most sad of all stories) that unites these two stories most. At the end of The House on Pooh Corner, Christopher Robin has to say goodbye to his world of children's toys--he's going to school and knows things won't be the same anymore; it's a very bittersweet moment he has with Winnie the Pooh at the end. Andy, too, struggles with letting go of his childhood companions, though the way he deals with it is in knowing that their stories will live on in someone else's childhood life.

No wonder children's stories can be so touching and so complicated and real.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Downton Abbey

I guess I'm so late coming to many different trends because I already have too many of my own obsessions to keep tabs on--visiting at least three or four fan-sites daily takes up a little time. The advantage, however, of coming to the British period show Downton Abbey was that I could watch both Seasons 1 and 2 in a fairly short amount of time.

In recent months, the pages of Vogue have been littered with references to this show, and at least half the room (including the professor) in one of my classes consisted of addicts to it. So I couldn't walk into the show without high expectations, could I?

The first two or three episodes, though, left me a bit bored. There are so many characters, and the structure of the show follows their stories more like a fly silently watching than a camera guiding you to a specific reaction. But by the end of the first season, I was growing more interested.

What's nice about the "fly approach" of the camera is that the audience is left to make their own judgements, to choose their own favorites, to make their own predictions. There aren't many definite answers, so to speak. None of the characters, then, are entirely in the right or wrong; this reality-like approach is one of the things I think has made so many people into fans. The method of simultaneously showing what is going on in the lives of both the servant class and the upper class characters is, of course, also something people cite as part of the positives. Costumes, sets, performances are all quality.

But is all this enough to make Downton Abbey an absolutely spectacular piece around which the world crowds?

For me, it isn't. I've enjoyed the show: it has enough drama and twisting, multiple plot lines to keep your attention in the evenings. But most of it is on the surface level; it never passes the level of simply entertaining. And I'm not saying that that's a bad thing--it's just that I can't see myself re-watching these episodes ten times (as I have been known to do with other things . . . ) or calling myself a Downton Abbey fan even after its last season has closed, whenever that may be. I'll anticipate the third season and watch it, but that's all. This isn't the only period drama out there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Henry Higgins to Connor Temple

For those unfamiliar with the character, Henry Higgins is the linguist who transforms the London flower girl into a lady in George Bernard Shaw's play Pgymalion; the musical My Fair Lady was somewhat based on this play, but as I have never seen that musical in its entirety, I can't give assurance that the comments I make will also apply to its version of Higgins. Connor Temple is, of course, the tech nerd of Primeval.

In my comparison of these two characters, I must first admit the obvious differences. Henry Higgins is middle-aged, while Connor is in his twenties. Higgins is interested in language, while Connor's focus is technology and evolutionary biology. Higgins is, well, rude and pushy, but Connor isn't.

The main similarity I drew from, though, is both characters' eccentricity. Or you could call it ridiculousness. Being the character of a play, Higgins is going to vary depending on who's playing him; the actor I saw gave him the most hilarious stage presence and energy. He's always thinking, always speaking, always working on some sort of project. He's the odd genius, much like Connor is. Connor is also busy, moving from the anomaly detector to the locking mechanism to the dating calculator to New Dawn, all while going out to help the rest of the team in the field. He has odd mannerisms like Higgins does: he's been known to skateboard across the ARC and makes his frequent nerdy jokes.

They're both characters you easily love as characters, but may hesitate about meeting in person. Henry Higgins, as I said, is pushy (just ask poor Eliza)--he knows all and his way is best. And while Connor is an overall nice person, he does have annoying habits (just ask Lester, who threatened him if he ever put his socks in the bread-maker again--to which Connor innocently responds, "I was keeping 'em warm"). Given the two, though, I think Connor would be easier to live around. You'd just have to roll your eyes sometimes (like Abby does), but you wouldn't be driven to pick up and leave (like Eliza does--in some versions of the play, that is, and what I believe is the intended version).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Josh Groban: Favorite Songs

It's been long enough since I first heard his music that Josh Groban's voice is as familiar to me as if he were an actual acquaintance. And while I'm still a fairly loyal fan, I also am quick to say that his second studio album, Closer, is still my favorite--the last two were more pop, less crossover. He did always say that his music was pop, but I guess I didn't believe him until later.

One of the things that makes Closer so nice is the amount of songs in other languages: they have a mellifluousness English doesn't always have (but does it really have as much greater a percentage of other languages as I think?). That also gives a degree of exoticism, if that's the right word. Around the time I was first hearing this album, I happened also to be reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time, so some of the songs took on a Middle-Earth feel. "Mi Mancherai," to this day, reminds me of Elves and Rivendell, however ridiculous that comparison is. "Oceano" and "Si Volvieras A Mi" are so beautiful and encapsulating that they are worlds of their own, so why not Middle-Earth-like worlds?

But the funny thing is that I usually cite two songs as my favorites of his, and both of them are in English. They are "Never Let Go" and "Now or Never." They also sound a bit similar, don't they? Very atmospheric again, with a certain type of vocals (sorry I can't explain that part more--I'm not a musical person). They both tell a story, but one where you are left to fill in the details. The lyrics of the first song could in fact very easily fit into The Lord of the Rings: they're about holding on, about strength from love (not necessarily any specific kind of love), fate, paths and journeys, that sort of thing.

That's the type of song I like from Josh Groban. I like his voice, but I want it to be shown off in a way that some of the more pop-style songs don't really do. And I want enough atmosphere and emotion that a single song calls up thousands of images in my mind.

I suppose that's why, more often, I find myself mixing up the songs from his albums. Instead of listening to one album all the way through, I'm growing more likely to just listen to one from this album, one from that one, then back to that album, and so forth. I guess we all respond to different types of music, don't we?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Remember Me

I wanted to like this book, and I think I wanted to like it very much. But for such a short length (around 320 pages at a minute a page, even for my slow reading), it took me quite a while to read. It was either the very end of April or the beginning of May that I started it, always setting it down again to focus on something else and hardly ever reading for more than half hour at a time.

Each time I read a chapter, I struggled with my opinion of Liz Byrski's Remember Me. The story is real (though I didn't realize this until well into the book), though I'm not sure if it has fictionalization or to what degree. It is poetic at times, but at times the narration also feels a bit contrived (not that contriving is a bad thing--readers just don't like to notice the contriving). I suppose it had too much sentiment for me, and I don't think I like sentiment much. I do, however, very much like emotion--strong emotion, too. But that comes with originality of emotion, and the sentiment of Remember Me felt sometimes disconnected and passive.

Which leads me to the next topic: present tense. As you'll recall from my post on If I Stay (where I also touch on sentiment vs. emotion, in fact), there are times when a present tense narrative works and enhances the story. But I didn't feel like that this time. It slowed down my reading and furthered my feeling of disconnect. Liz (the main narrator) does feel disconnect at many points, but the tense didn't help me get closer to her, just further.

Overall, it reads like a letter, a love letter to be specific. Most often, it is a tragic, heartbroken letter. It didn't interest me nearly enough, but would perhaps suit summer reading moods for something light and sweet and hopeful.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Horizons

A decade ago, Disney's California Adventure opened to much disappointment. It became the empty park, the place where Disneylanders would go in the afternoon just for a couple of rides and the locals would use as a lounge. But it's been improving.

If you think about it, Disneyland wasn't always what it is today, so it makes sense that, even with planning, it would be difficult to have DCA match it from day one.

Yesterday was the grand reopening of (what is now called) Disney California Adventure. Cars Land (which I think is a weird idea, but whatever), Buena Vista Street, the new Storytellers statue of Walt/Mickey to match the Partners one in Disneyland, rides for Toy Story and The Little Mermaid, World of Color, there are so many things now that weren't there on opening day. The park itself looks less empty and a little more designed (with things like signs, railing, molding, colors, etc. that used to be very plain). You can actually spend a measurable amount of time in the park now.

Since I often approach Disneyland (I haven't yet mentioned I'm a Disneyland lover, have I? but I'm sure you've gathered that by now) from the historical perspective, all these new changes are exciting. I'm witnessing the changes take place, instead of just reading about them on Yesterland or in a book. And while there are so many pictures in circulation of certain rarer parts in Disneyland's history (like their short-lived circus), just think how many pictures people have been taking to document every stage of DCA's transformation. It isn't so unloved after all, is it?

While I'm on this topic, let me give a shout out to my trusty Disney Parks news site, MiceAge. It's funny to look at this site now: I first visited it possibly as much as nine years ago, and now they are celebrating their tenth year. The site has grown enormously, so it can be a bit confusing to jump into all the articles and updates. Once you do, however, you will have all the facts you want and more.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Adventures of Connor Temple & Abby Maitland: Part 4

Somehow, I convinced Connor and Abby to reenact Season Two Episode Four.

A rock stands in for the anomaly that they go through (and let me add that this rock looks more like the anomaly now that I have washed it clean--I think it will be the permanent stand-in anomaly).

But Abby is in trouble; the mer-creatures are just behind her.

Despite the steepness of the cliff, Connor tells her she must climb to escape them.

It's difficult going, but Connor isn't giving up.

Abby begs him to let her go before they both fall; of course, though, he can't, confessing for the first time that he loves her.

Fast forward a bit to Season 3 Episode 9 and the two are busy trying to deal with the herd of Embolotherium (the prehistoric rhinos). Abby sends Connor to keep the bull away so that she and Sarah can control the rest of the herd.

But Episode 10 is tragic again: stranded in the Cretaceous Era, Abby and Connor seek safety for the night in one of the pines, hoping that they will be able to find Danny in the morning and return home.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meet Renesmee . . .

Yesterday, Twilight fans got to see a couple of new pictures (for Entertainment Weekly covers) of Renesmee. You can view them at this link.

The casting of Renesmee was one of those big moments; I remember my excitement/anxiousness as I examined Mackenzie Foy's picture after she was cast, concluding that, yes, she looked like she could be possibly even perfect for the role. We all know Renesmee is crucial: with all the, er, strange stuff that happens in Breaking Dawn, the likeability of Renesmee is what makes it all work.

Most people have been having something of the same reaction to these new pictures as to reading about Renesmee. It's sort of magical, you could say. It's also absolutely hilarious to see how much she resembles her onscreen parents--Mackenzie Foy probably looks more like Rob and Kristen than I look like my parents. So it doesn't really matter that she will likely, towards the end of the movie, be older than Renesmee; it just matters that she works for the part. Renesmee's age is singular, anyway.

In fact, I was surprised yesterday to find myself getting really excited for the movie. I've been working for the past several months on separating my love for the books from my small (or so I tell myself) interest in the movies. But now I'm looking forward to November again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jack White's Latest

So it's been a while now since Jack White's solo album Blunderbuss came out, and even though I had pretty much added it to my wish list from the start, I just barely got it yesterday.

I think I've always like Jack White's voice. A lot of songs from the bands he was involved in played frequently when I was in high school--I just never purchased any of them. Given that it's his voice that I like, it's as the album goes on that I start to like the style of the songs more. "Love Interruption" is one of my favorites: it's quite simple, but something addicting to listen to. The rawness of the entire album is refreshing (is that an ironic adjective to use there? oh, well--that's just how it is sometimes).

I also have to point out how much I love the lyrics to "On and On and On." I think every person can add their own meaning to these words, and I certainly have. You could probably say it's the most poetic song on the album, even though the lyrics in general are strong. Other songs I like include "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy" and "Weep Themselves to Sleep" (the piano is great on this song).

These days, most people have a variety of music types, but I tend to think my collection is particularly eclectic. I have trouble saying I like a particular genre because I most likely only have a couple of artists in that genre, anyway: they're all scattered about. I have to like an album for itself, not for its genre. But it is good to have some more rock-type songs from someone else besides Flyleaf (as opposed to, say, all the songs I have from Hayley Westenra) (and not to say that I don't have any other rock/alternative/etc. songs, just not a wide variety of them). I'm rambling now, am I? Alright: I like the album, and it makes a nice addition to my music collection.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Are You a Reader?"

People seem to talk a lot about the book(s) that first got them into reading. I hear so much in the media about how things like Twilight and Harry Potter showed so many young people what books could be and led them on to read more. That's all good and well, but does everyone really have an experience like that?

Maybe it's just because I was brought up differently. I guess not everyone's parents read to them anymore, but mine did. Once I was moving out of the picture book stage, there were also other books that I owned or enjoyed reading. I got into the Nancy Drew books in fourth grade and read through (them slowly purchased) the Little House series in fifth grade. But it wasn't until maybe six grade that I even considered calling myself "a reader."

There have only been a couple of periods (school reading excepted) that I have devoured books. And the term "reader" seems like it has to apply to people who devour books (goodness knows I've met such people). I have this impression because, to me, reading is just something I do. I may read a particular book in a week or less, or I may go a couple of months without really reading much of any book (school reading excepted again). That doesn't seem like a "reader's" behavior. Yet I am a reader.

And I can't say I had that moment or that particular book that opened up the world of books for me. Sure, I can track my reading depending on what I was enjoying most at a particular time. (More or less in this order: Nancy Drew, Little House on the PrairieAnne of Green GablesLittle WomenThe Chronicles of Narnia, Victorian novels including Jane EyreThe Lord of the Rings, Jeannette Oke and Liz Curtis Higgs, more C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, more Victorian novels, Twilight, a couple of other modern books, Harry Potter, Gayle Forman, etc.) But these were all stages in a greater picture. I can't say any of them opened up reading in general, just aspects of it. I like to think I learn from every book I read, even books I don't like: if I don't like it, I try to identify what about it I didn't like. 

It's all a process, one that has no ending and one that, for me, never really had a tangible beginning, either. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Adventures of Connor Temple & Abby Maitland

Guess what? Abby has finally arrived from England to join Connor. And guess what else? She brought Jenny Lewis along, too.

The happy Primeval family reunion:

As great as it may be to have Jenny along, as well, we know it is Connor and Abby who are most glad to see each other again.

Really, they just spent too long too far apart.

I wonder what the future holds for them . . .

Friday, June 8, 2012

Temporarily Sad

Here's how it goes: there was a scarf I saw in this store that I wanted, but waited about two weeks (or was it three?) to get. And, well, that was too long. When I finally showed up, ready to buy my much-wanted scarf, it wasn't there anymore. Then came what disappointment, what sadness, what wishes that the store inventory hadn't changed so drastically in just a couple of weeks.

But the thing is, it's hard to be too sad because the chameleon store inventory is just what makes that store so wonderful.

It's called The Hummingbird House, and it is in Sedona, and it is perfect.

There are actually two stores by that name. One is the original, in a historic house. The other is closer to the touristy section (though it's only a block away, I guess). They have a few of the same items, but also unique pieces and slightly different looks. Two weeks away, they both had the scarf (which of course means that when I was looking for it yesterday, I had to visit both stores--though it isn't as if I've never done that before, even when not looking for a specific item).

The Hummingbird House reminds me a little of Anthropologie. There are antiques, there are accessories, there are books. Jewelry, perfume, decor, minor food items. Just fun stuff, arranged prettily as if it's someone's house. Pretty things, but not all shiny/new things. Sometimes it's nice to just go in for the sake of going in. Just looking around and breathing in the air gives inspiration. It's the type of store that has personality and individuality . . . a voice.

So I'll just have to forgive it for not having my scarf anymore.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Hobbit Production Video #7 Reaction

It's wonderful to be able to watch Peter Jackson's production videos for The Hobbit: the videos released online for The Lord of the Rings were before I had discovered Tolkiendom. But now I can join in on the excitement and anticipation along with everyone else. Before you keep reading, you can watch the latest production video here.

What I've been enjoying about these videos is that, since they can't show too many spoilers, it often ends up being the craftsmanship and the many crew members that get the focus. We see a little filming, but we also get to see the wardrobe department, the computer work that goes on, even the people who handle the paperwork.

It reminds me a bit of the stories of how Walt Disney worked back in the day: it wasn't so much about people's titles, but about their roles. Everybody had a role to play, and anybody could have a good idea or a better idea. That kind of attention to every detail is what made Disney/land become what it is today, and is what made everyone (well, most people) respect what Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings.

So go and keep watching the production videos to get teasers for the movie but also to appreciate the collective effort that it takes to get a movie done. That's what I find fascinating about moviemaking.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Primeval: Claudia Brown vs. Jenny Lewis

I find myself these days looking at my list of posts and asking, has it been long enough yet since my last Primeval post to do another one? I realize I may be overdoing these posts a little, but sometimes I wish I had better documentation of my first days with other obsessions. When a book or a show becomes so familiar to you, it can be hard to remember exactly what your thoughts were when it was still new. But I will certainly have many Primeval thoughts (in the form of these posts) to look back at.

Now on with my post. The much thought about Claudia Brown/Jenny Lewis dichotomy, as we know, serves some basic plot purposes. It introduces the idea of how the world can change depending on how the past is affected by people/creatures moving through anomalies. It also adds tension to the CB/JL relationship with Cutter (like how New Dawn strains the Connor and Abby relationship so that they don't just waltz into the sunset boringly). But there are more show dynamics that it changes.

It took me a while to come to the realization, but I have found that I prefer Claudia Brown's character to Jenny Lewis. I think part of this is because CB went with the whole Season 1 feel of characters being thrust into this situation and having to make the best of it. She really starts to crack under the stress, and I think that is a very realistic reaction. Why should we assume that everyone who becomes connected with monitoring the anomalies is quite cut out for that type of work? (Not to say that she necessarily couldn't handle it, just that much of it didn't come naturally for her.)

But Jenny Lewis exists in the more established world, the world where the ARC exists and the team act (a little) more like experts than citizens. She eventually decides she can't take it, either, and leaves--but while she was still with the ARC, she gave off a stronger facade. I suppose Jenny knows the skill of impressions more than Claudia Brown did: she knows how to word things to get the right reaction in people, and she knows how to dress to make people notice her. You could say she's more put together . . . just like Season 2 is versus Season 1.

There are some things to like about the informality of Season 1. But we all know that could only last so long; they have to make progress. And it makes me wonder if Claudia Brown wouldn't have chosen to leave sooner than Jenny Lewis did (though I suppose she would have probably stuck around if Cutter stayed alive). From that perspective, the existence of JL actually makes Lucy Brown (the actress) stick around longer. 

One more thing. I mentioned before that, once the Cutter and Stephen relationship was tarnished and their partnership wasn't quite the same, I didn't so much mind that Stephen died. It's similar with CB/JL. Much of her character's place had to do with Cutter; once he is taken out of the picture, she is missing something, her plot line changes, and she has to adjust or melt away. That's how it works: if you change one character, the dynamics of the whole group change. So many of the differences in the seasons correlate exactly to which characters are in each season. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Psycho and Exposition

(Maybe I should technically say "explanations" in the title, but "exposition" sounds better . . . )

A few days ago, I watched Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho for the first time. It wasn't bad--I liked it more than some of his other films that I've seen; but I felt like it ended on a boring note since it had a longish explanation of certain facts about one of the central characters. Analysis is what I want to be able to do afterwards, not what I want the movie to do for me.

That's mostly the same reason I haven't clicked with the Hitchcock style. I can't say he wasn't a good filmmaker; I just don't like his style. He spells everything out in a very specific way, carefully controlling audience reactions. I prefer gray areas that leave things open to interpretation, open to multiple emotions, open to the reality of living versus the controlled environment of film.

I don't usually like for movies to move point by point the way his do. I like the emotion to lead the way, rather than the technicalities. And I don't like to be told what to think; I like my reactions to come as part of a more natural process. (I admit, you can say that Hitchcock controls your reactions in a natural way . . . but I think that's still in a different way. And also don't think that I am completely trashing his style; I can enjoy it sometimes--it just isn't my first pick.) I end up heartbroken at the end of Bright Star because I have grown close to the characters, empathized with them. Miss Potter ends on such a sweet note because happiness has come again after so much darkness threatened the world's innocence. But when Psycho ended, I just said, oh, so that's how the story worked . . . it was a little too temporary for me.

I don't want internal exposition; I want it to be outside of the movie, something for me to input.

Friday, June 1, 2012

May Favorites

1)Fossils/dinosaur-related products - For years, I would visit the local annual Gem and Mineral Show, slowly building a collection of amethyst, peacock ore, and other such pretty trinkets. But I was never really interested in the fossils (although it's true that in third grade I wanted to be either a geologist or a paleontologist). That is, not until now--AKA my post-Primeval stage. I suddenly had a desire to buy trilobites. The perfect thing is that I have a little part-time summer position in Sedona, and Sedona happens to have a great store for such items. It's called (I think) Discount Gems and Minerals and is located right there in the main tourist shops section. If you don't believe that they have good prices, walk into other stores and see what they charge. Rocks are expensive. Anyway, I picked up this pair of rustic trilobites (more often, you see black ones for sale, but I like the grittiness of these) for a few dollars. There's another, bigger piece they have that I eyed, and I think I'd like to get one of those wooden 3D dinosaur puzzles one of these days, too. Primeval, you're to blame.

 2)Flower flip flops - So maybe flip flops aren't the most fashionable, but they're such a norm in Arizona. In summer, even flats can be too hot to wear, and pretty, comfortable sandals (other than flip flops) can be hard to find (especially if you have any kind of budget). So I picked these up as a quick summer shoe; there were more colorful options, but I like that this pair will go with more options. And guess what? They're also from a fun store in the afore-mentioned area.

 3)Iced tea - I usually drink more hot tea than iced, but now I know how to make iced tea more entertaining. Add ice cubes made with fresh lime (or lemon) water and a leaf of mint. Iced tea and lemonade, anyone?

 4)Owl shoes - Okay, so I haven't been wearing them that often, but I am today. They're a My Sister's Closet find, and if only they were perfect for walking, they would be flawless. Green suede, leather owls and pink flowers, aren't they ridiculously silly?

 5)Frontier House - I've been watching this series on Sunday evenings. I guess it was filmed a few years ago, but it's entertaining to follow along with, anyway. The premise is of a couple of families going to live like 1880's pioneers for five months. It's probably the closest to reality TV I'm interested in. It's sort of ironic to be living historically, but documenting the experience in a modern way. But that's okay: it's fun to watch.

I know this is much abbreviated from my previous lists of ten, but I was starting to run out of things to add. If I keep doing ten, I'll have to start repeating myself.