Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Favorites

1) Black/Felt Shirt - There is a wonderful shop called My Sister's Closet (actually, they have multiple locations, but I only go to one). They sell "recycled designer apparel." I don't need Gucci or Prada, but some of the "lesser" brands like Free People or Anthropologie labels are very affordable here. This particular shirt, because it is a very thin material, had its tags cut off so I don't know the brand. But it's unique, isn't it? The black gives it a basic look, but the felt gives a twist of character. I wore it with dark purple pants and my cameo for an edgy/vintage look.

2) Glass Truffles - When I first saw these (at The Hummingbird House in Sedona), I thought they were so expensive that I would never be able to get them. But that miniature job I got last year meant that I had a bit of money available, so I quickly purchased one. And this weekend, I got to choose three more as a gift. Now I have a set and I'm absolutely thrilled. I'm displaying them in a porcelain box that actually came with truffles in it a couple years ago. While these glass truffles are expensive (the chocolate drop one was around $16, but the others were around $30), they're also works of art. In that light I view and adore them.

3) Lace Dresses - Dillard's has an outlet store. It's weird and the lights are all dim like they're saving money on the power bill. But the prices are also low. And when I went there, all the dress brands I like were on sale for an extra percentage. So I ended up with three lace dresses for a ridiculously low amount (let's just say less than the glass truffles). The green one is Chelsea & Violet and the brown and white ones are M.S.S.P. I like their versatility: I can wear them as is in summer or easily layer them with tights or leggings and sweaters or jackets for colder weather.

4) Once Upon A Time - I zoomed through the first season of this show on Netflix, then flirted briefly with Hulu Plus to zoom through the first fourteen episodes of the second season. Looking forward to watching the next episode on TV Sunday. I don't know if I can even remember the last time I regularly watched a show actually on a TV.

5) Green Bag - While I love my green leather satchel, it isn't very big. This bag, on the other hand, is huge. It fits everything. It's also in this rough, canvas-like material, so it's durable, too. It looks better than a basic tote bag and it's my color, so I like it for those days when I need the space.

6) Grapefruit Seed Extract - For my random favorite, here is my personal sickness-preventer. Everyone has their go-to item for when they feel like they're getting sick. But I've been using this one for years and it works. I don't know that I get sick at all anymore. Besides the fact that it works, I also love that this product is natural: no weird, unnecessary side effects.

7) Red Earrings - These were a gift some time ago. I like that they're (I believe) a local type of jewelry (or at least handmade) and also that they're easy to wear with different outfits. They can either add a little color or eclectic tone. After all, I don't usually like all my jewelry to match: I wore these last with the green necklace that's coming up at #9.

8) Theodent Toothpaste - No, this isn't a random inclusion. I've had toothpaste on here before, therefore I say that it isn't weird anymore for me to include it. Plus, this toothpaste looks amazing and beautiful and that in itself is reason to include it. Be honest, have you ever seen toothpaste as gorgeous? The way I see it, toothpaste has just as much reason to look pretty as makeup or perfume. So why not? I've only been using it for about a week, so I can't say how well it works. How it compares to Crest and the like I can't say, but it seems to be comparable to other "natural-y" toothpastes. It's called Theodent because it uses an ingredient found in chocolate; yes, that's why I bought it as much as the fact that it was pretty. Provided things don't change and my teeth fall out in the next week, I may have found my new brand.

9) Green Necklace - I chose this in Sedona, also. It was at my favored Discount Gems & Minerals store. It's simple and it has green and it's made out of rocks, so I like it.

10) Allegro Coffee - I've decided that, minus the three times a year I go to Starbucks or elsewhere, I need to buy Fair Trade coffee. But I still don't have a coffee grinder or a budget for $30 coffee, so that narrows my choices a bit. I picked up Allegro's French Roast coffee and it's turned out to be one of my favorite coffees I've tried so far. (I don't drink a huge amount, so it takes a while for me to go through a bag--so I haven't tried too many kinds in the two or three years I've been drinking coffee.) I'm thinking about trying their Espresso blend next.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Dwarves & Nuclear Warfare

Given the lovely and disappointing (but not entirely unexpected--though it really ought to have won in Visual Effects at least, I think) lack of Oscar wins The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had this weekend, let's take this moment to return to Tolkien with a bit of pondering.

That's the thing about texts that you read fairly early on but continue to return to: you discover new things about them and wonder whether, if you were reading the text for the first time now, such "discoveries" would in fact be obvious from the start.

My latest "discovery" is a possible connection between the dwarves and nuclear warfare. Of course, I am labeling this under Tolkien's phrase of "applicability" rather than anything else. And this isn't so much a plot concern of The Hobbit specifically. What I'm thinking of is Moria, but also other stories about the dwarves that I've half forgotten.

You see, I keep an outline of themes my professor for the Lord of the Rings class a couple years ago gave us. One of the categories is about effects on Nature, where the dwarves had a corrupt influence when they dug too deep into Moria. Digging (not necessarily literal) too deep into Nature for self-centered ends and unleashing dark terrors? Nuclear warfare, anyone? Perhaps I'm also making this connection because I just read Ceremony for the second time, which is all about harmony with Nature and touches slightly on the nuclear side of things.

That's interesting.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Never Let Go of Primeval

Let me continue on my Josh Groban rambling, this time focusing on his song "Never Let Go" and my favorite Primeval character, Connor Temple.

I'm not a YouTuber; I don't make fan videos. But if I were making a Primeval vid and matching it with a song, "Never Let Go" is one of the ones I would consider. It's specifically a Connor song.

My first reason is the most random. When I started watching interviews with Andrew Lee Potts and seeing clips of some of his other films, the strange resemblance between him and Josh Groban came up to me. It's not exact; no, no, I wouldn't even say it's that much. But there's something of a similarity, isn't there? They look slightly similar, they act slightly similar in the fact that they both act silly, and their voices even sound slightly similar when Andrew is doing an American accent. (And they both have a dog: Sweeney vs. Stanley, anyone?)

But I also think that the lyrics speak to Connor's journey throughout the show. "Hold onto what brought you here" is a kind of warning for him in Seasons 4 and 5. "I can't understand it, the search for an answer is met with a darker day" is Connor's realization that meddling with the anomalies only causes more harm. "Forced apart by time and sand, take a step and take my hand," well, that can be an ode to Connor and Abby's relationship. It does sound like that year in the Cretaceous, although technically the two of them weren't forced apart by time--time forced them apart from everyone else.

But "don't let go" is an anthem for the entire ARC team. It's what they constantly have to remind themselves of when anomalies, creatures, ethics, and office/authority politics get in the way of simplicity. "Never let go" is also my anthem: never let go of Primeval, even if (as everyone says is the case unless the very unlikely happens) it never goes to a sixth season and the Canadian Primeval: New World never gets renewed for a second season (although I do think that would be a shame). But we, the fans, we can still choose to never let go to the memories we do have of this world, even if we can't make new ones.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Echoes of What Once Was

My belated response to Josh Groban's new album, All That Echoes, expresses my less than stellar interest in approaching this set of songs.

Understand this much: I've been listening to his music for long enough that I'll buy his new music like I would a relative's. But his second album, Closer, remains undoubtedly my favorite. I could never get into Illuminations; it has a couple of songs I like, but I always felt a disconnect with it. So to have another album come out before I've come to terms with the previous one was an odd place to start.

But I may like All That Echoes more than Illuminations. "False Alarms" is wonderful. It reminds me somewhat of another favorite (possibly my absolute favorite of Josh's songs): "Never Let Go." It's atmospheric and melodic. You can just listen to its sound one time, but then go back and listen to the words another time. "Brave" isn't too bad, either. "Un Alma Mas" works very nicely--gotta love the Spanish ("Si Volvieras A Mi" and "Mi Morena" are also some of my favorite Josh songs). "Hollow Talk" rounds out the songs I connected with--it's also "atmospheric," isn't it? The way that the sound builds up reminds me, strangely, of Neil Finn's "Song of the Lonely Mountain" from The Hobbit. You may make fun of me if you wish.

That's four songs, though. There are others that I'm neutral toward or somewhat enjoy, but there are also others that I pause at and say, really? I saw a review on iTunes stating that the album was just trying to make bad songs good or some such thing. I can't say I agree with that particular review, but there were some song choices and stylistic choices that I wasn't exactly thrilled by. I'll leave it at that.

I would just rather have an entire set of songs I was excited about than only a handful. So I'll continue skipping around from album to album, focusing on the songs I like from each one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Once Upon a Time I Listened

This post covers Season 1 only of Once Upon a Time; there will be some light spoilers. And I warn you that this is one of my long and rambling posts.

I've had Netflix long enough that it tends to know what I'll somewhat like and somewhat dislike; it'll at least know the general direction my opinion will go in. It's not always a perfect guesser, but it's a good one. Netflix seemed to think I would like Once Upon a Time, but I spent some time avoiding the show (is that my precursor to everything? I'm such an avoider, apparently).

But the magic is in the click.

Click on the first episode and enter the realm of the show you go. The first episode or so had me thinking, this is better than I was expecting. I was delighted to find engagement with fairy tales--versus simply alluding to characters, images, etc. and letting the only "engagement" be juxtaposing the fairy tales with modern characters, settings, or objects. But Once Upon a Time has quite a bit of thought behind it--enough to remind me of the Nick Willing miniseries I've enjoyed (Alice is my favorite, but Tin Man and Neverland are also of interest). (I once saw a comment that Once Upon a Time's Hatter ripped off of Alice's--but I'm not sure I agree that they're all too similar, after all.)

As I moved on, I also starting thinking of Wishbone. If you know me, you'll know that this comparison became a profound compliment coming from me: I think Wishbone was a wonderful show and was probably partially responsible, in a roundabout way, for my eventual decision to major in literature. Coming into Once Upon a Time, I was expecting to mainly see things in this world. At some point, I was feeling unsure about the amount of time spent in the fairy tale world. But the parallels between what was going on in that world and in this one were cleverly put together, much like the parallels Wishbone offered between books and modern day stories.

It was also fascinating to discover the characters and then rediscover them. To wonder which person in Storybrooke was which character or to see adult Pinocchio acting, thematically, like the Pinocchio of the story. The way that the characters translated into our world was fantastic, really. The fairies becoming nuns, Red Riding Hood working in a cafe, Rumplestiltskin having an antique shop and owning the whole town.

Oh, yes, Rumplestiltskin.

I love Rumplestiltskin; he's the best part of the show. No one can convince me otherwise.

Rumpelstiltskin was always one of my favorite fairy tales, maybe my top favorite. I just never knew why. It was odd. And creepy. And compelling somehow. I just liked it. I never even knew what it meant--and I wonder if most people do. It's easy to assign basic things to stories like Snow White: virtues like goodness, patience, hope and even the other one I sometimes hear of "don't talk to strangers." But Rumpelstiltskin? What does that mean? The power of language? Or cunning.

I love what they did with this character. It made me realize things about the story I like so much. They brought in his cunning and his penchant for making deals and designed an entire plot around that. Oh, and the actor--again, just try convincing me he isn't the best actor in the show (yes, his role also calls for something very different from many of the others, but still). The combination of his story with Beauty and the Beast was unexpected and also perfect (Snape and Lily, anyone?).

Which brings me to: the way the show combined fairy stories in general. I also wasn't expecting that. I was expecting them to be isolated stories that had all come together in this town. But they fit together quite well back in their own world. I enjoyed the way we were given tidbits of the story, then later learned what had happened before or after in order to gain a new perspective. We see Snow White being reawakened in the first episode and it seems like the simple Snow White story, but then we come to learn the complete (maybe) story throughout the season. This way of presenting the story I find evocative of the chameleon nature of fairy stories in general: they're told a thousand different ways, but they're somehow always the same basic beings.

That's another thing I think this show balanced well: familiarity with newness. There was mystery involved; there were surprises. But the characters also felt familiar. Even as a school teacher, that's Snow White there; we recognize her (might I also take this time to gush over her house: I want to live there; it's perfect).

I withhold my complete opinion until I've watched Season 2 (I may have to try out Hulu Plus so that I can watch the first 15 or so episodes that are out). But as you can see, my reaction is fairly positive. I don't know if this'll be a show I rewatch again and again or forget about as soon as I'm finished with it. But I'm enjoying it for now: it provided both diversion and thought. I appreciate that.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Going Back to the Self

I almost got a dog this weekend.

But I decided not to. I got a vacuum instead.

I still know, though, that this dog and I would have gotten along wonderfully. I know because I once had a dog of a similar nature. I still wish I had gotten her--and I technically still can.

But no, now isn't the right time. That's what I decided: the timing wasn't right for getting a dog. If I've waited this long, I'll just have to wait a little longer. But I gained something from considering this dog. I gained a feeling of responsibility. So I decided that, instead of waiting until I have a pet that needs taking care of, I need to make those changes now.

That's why I got a vacuum. Ours had been broken ever so long and I'd been trying to convince myself I didn't care. But that's a terrible thing to pretend. So now I have a vacuum to help me maintain my place of living and myself better, so to speak. I've also been itching to do some rearranging in my room. Perhaps with the approach of Spring, now is the time?

I'm thinking of moving books onto my shelves to go with the boxes/figurines/etc. that I have there. I'm only worried that I'll make it look more cluttered instead of less. It's difficult to try and work within small spaces; but I guess the only way to know is to try it out, right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Discovering Yourself, Always

Because of my love of Emma Shapplin's music, I had hoped for a long time to someday have her 1999 EP Discovering Yourself. But most often, the sellers on Amazon have had it for sale around $35 or $45 dollars. For four songs (one of which is a remix), that is quite a bit. Wonderful thing, however, I saw it for $10 last week; so here it is finally in my hands:

The tracks are: "Discovering Yourself," "Cuerpo Sin Alma (remix)," "Fera Ventura," and "Dolce Veneno." The first track has a music video which is on YouTube. It's an odd sort of combination of pop/rock/classical--very Emma Shapplin, then. It's also the first song (years ago) I heard her singing in English in; it's funny to realize that I couldn't understand many of the lyrics back then. But I've grown quite fond of this song for the themes that the title alone expresses: growing into yourself and deciding who you are and all that comes along with such a journey.

The "Cuerpo Sin Alma" remix is a little too disco/90's/dance for me (okay, "Discovering Yourself" has a 90's sound, too--but still). I prefer the original version--and the original, original version being "Cuor Senza Sangue" (as opposed to the Spanish version, although I do prefer the Spanish "Falta Tu Estrella" to the original "Spente Le Stelle").

I believe both of the remaining tracks are soundtrack songs, at least one from Red Planet. I could be wrong on the details. "Fera Ventura" does have something of a sci-fi sound to its classical overtones. It's an interesting song, with a chorus in English that may take a moment to distinguish as English. "Dolce Veneno" is more a straight classical song, though of course accompanied by Emma's stretching, emotional vocals. It's comparable to many of the songs on Carmine Meo.

My music library just got happier.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Little Links Go Public

Yesterday a new vlog from Keychain Productions announced what we're all been waiting for . . . merch. The true way for all of us to show our pride as fans.

Shirts, caps, pins, etc. Most of them have the Little Links phrase on them, although there are also some with Keychain Productions and Little Larry/Little Lilly. I wouldn't mind the shirt for the latter, but I chose the basic Little Links one instead. I would get them both, but you know, I don't have that much spending money, especially after putting the numbers through the currency conversion (pounds to dollars) (and adding in international shipping).

Connected to this release is a competition asking everyone to submit pictures of themselves with their merch for a chance to win something (maybe a signed DVD? or a prop? a phone call even?). So if you like Keychain's short films, head on over to and click the "Links Shop" link.

And in the meantime, Little Links, take two and a half minutes and watch Little Larry again:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Virtual Caprica

Didn't I say that one of the best things about Earth 2 was VR?

Well, well, and now the concept of VR is expanded and moved into a more central position in Caprica in the form of V-world, accessed through holobands. (By the way, click the following links to view my reactions to the other shows in this franchise: Battlestar Galactica (1978), Galactica 1980, Battlestar Galactica.)

Let me go ahead and start with the terrible truth: I didn't much like this series and I don't think I'm really the audience for it, anyway (not demographically, just in the types of things I like to watch). At first I wondered how production could have okayed the intro/title sequence: it looks like a Gothic soap opera. Then I realized that the basically is that. There are family troubles, mysterious events, and betrayals. There is also a fair amount of violence--which I wasn't surprised by, but there comes a point when I wonder why I would want to watch people beating each other up and killing each other during my spare time. This is a question that the show itself asks: why do people continue going into V-world to let their worst instincts free? But if that's portrayed as negative, then how is watching the show so innocent?

I know. I know. I may be stretching things. I wouldn't look down on someone who enjoyed this show; that isn't what I'm saying. I'm just bringing up the same issue I found in The Hunger Games, where the message seemed to interfere with the very act of viewing the story.

But the V-world concept is interesting. Besides showing the dangers of relying too much on technology, it can also be a warning about fiction/fantasy in general, a statement on acknowledging the truth of reality and not ignoring your life.

(Just in case: a minor spoiler is coming.)

Initially, I was a bit confused about how this series fit into the Battlestar Galactica universe, besides the whole Caprica 58 years before the fall thing. And I'm still wondering if there are unanswered questions, things we would have learned if the series had gone on for more than one season. If Zoe becomes a Cylon who looks human, how does that fit in with what we learned at the end of the main show? I thought the original five came and gave the technology for that. Am I missing something? (Like the fact that his name is Daniel Graystone, like the Cylon who didn't survive.) Or is this series meant to be separate enough that facts don't need to be continuous between the two?

I suppose I preferred the original reboot series just because it developed into something more layered and more symbolic. Caprica had some of those elements, but in one season they couldn't develop into as much. And although Battlestar Galactica did get too "army" for me at times, Caprica got too soap opera at times.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pauline Baynes & Tolkien

Most people recognize Pauline Baynes for illustrating The Chronicles of Narnia, but what less people know is that she also illustrated for Tolkien. In fact, I've also heard that she was his preferred illustrator. So while the little hardcover copy of Bilbo's Last Song is a slim volume, it is worth having just because it includes Pauline Baynes illustrations. Alan Lee and Ted Nasmith have done great work for Tolkien's writings, too, but there's something delightful about Pauline Baynes's style--probably not least of which is the similarity to her Narnia work.

At $12 for a poem you can read in the blink of an eye, this is probably a volume most people will pass over. But I happily got it as a sort of gift. The text is, of course, Bilbo reminiscing as he departs at the Grey Havens. So the illustrations portray both his departure and flashbacks to his time during The Hobbit. My favorites include: the trees that surround the text, the clothing the elves wear as they ride to the Havens, frog-like Gollum sitting in his boat, and the Lonely Mountain. It's a delightful collection.

I'm loving how many more books like these are in stores lately because of the movies coming back. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Adventures of Nerd

Nerd got a new toy today. Nerd was so happy that Nerd was probably jumping up and down while opening the package. Nerd got her anomaly detector in the mail today. Nerd is still in love with Primeval, so Nerd was very excited.

When Nerd turned the detector on and followed the beeping sound, she soon fell into awe at the sight of a shining, golden anomaly right in front of her. (And Nerd would like you to know that, no, those probably aren't even half of her books sitting against the wall there.)

Nerd has stowed away her precious detector above her desk with the rest of her Primevalbilia: part of the ARC's anomaly detector, Connor, Abby, Jenny, and an autographed Handrew photograph (which all rest above merch for The Hillywood Show).

Nerd was getting tired, but Nerd is having a good day now.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jane and "Master"

At one point, I was doing a mental comparison of Jane Eyre's use of "master" and Jeannie's from I Dream of Jeannie. While it's sort of a slave term, neither one obeys all the commands of her "master." Jeannie uses the word ironically and as a word of endearment, sometimes almost possession. Jane uses it also as an endearment term and as a way of deriving comfort from someone stronger than herself.

But I completely overlooked another "master," most surprisingly because this time it is also accompanied by another Jane. You'll recall that the Jane of Twilight calls Aro "master" quite frequently. I think many of us are amused by Jane and Aro's relationship: it's somewhere between father/daughter and master/slave. Part of the reason for this, I'm sure, is because Jane is so young: although she has been around for many, many years she is still a child. So I think Aro has taken advantage of her youngness to gain her loyalty. Unlike Jane Eyre and Jeannie, Jane uses "master" in its fullest sense: she does not disobey Aro's orders according to her own will. His will is her will.

Be the differences as they are, I still think it is no coincidence that the character so frequently using the word "master" is named Jane.

Friday, February 1, 2013

To View the Monitor

Hey, it's happy Valentine's month February and the release of the next Keychain Productions short film all in one. Not that it's a very Valentine's film . . .

The long-awaited Monitor appears not on YouTube as usual, but on Distrify--where I was surprised to find that, for once, I had to pay to see a Keychain film. About $10 to rent a 13 minute video, too. I found myself glad that when I was at the mall this morning to buy (Aveda) shampoo, I didn't also buy a pair of leggings I saw (naturally, I had to go into a couple of stores to at least browse, if not buy anything)--so I went ahead and paid the rental fee. Not that I mind giving to Keychain, anyway. (Although I wouldn't mind if it were on iTunes instead so I could just buy it and download it.) You can see the trailer below; to watch the film, either go to or watch the trailer on YouTube and click on the link in the description box.

Monitor goes back to Keychain's Blood on Benefits feel, but with color imagery not so unlike Little Lilly. Horror isn't so much my genre, but one of the things I really enjoyed in this film (and Keychain in general) was the use of color. Colors aren't coincidental and they help to tell the story. The second time I watched, I also kept reading extra things into the story--I'm not even sure whether or not I was going overboard. The childishness or disobeying rules leads to literal reintegration into a nursery, the eating of an apple echoes Eve's inability to resist and therefore the concept of curiosity, etc. The thing I'm pausing on is the color green. Doesn't it generally stand for nature, fertility, life, and such? That might tie in with the nursery idea, but I'm not sure.

I'm also intrigued by this idea of a monitor. While horror often uses the concept of being watched, this film shows watching instead. Is it the danger of what you can see or perhaps of what you see that you aren't cautious enough about? Because like many horror victims, our heroine appears in some ways innocent but also to have been capable to preventing her fate.