Monday, February 24, 2014

All Kinds of Catching Up To Do! (and some movie spoilers)

Winter has been a major jerk this year, in Michigan. Yes, we get winter every year. But, this one is like the winterest! It's like the winter of epic proportions! This is the kind of winter that is supposed to be reserved for our upper peninsula. Us down state folks like our winters short (relatively speaking), and with enough snow to brag about how good we are at driving in it, but not enough to inconvenience us for any length of time. So, when you have a season like this one; when schools have been closed thirteen times for snow and ice or dangerous cold, when the sun seemingly never shines, when there's several FEET of snow on the ground, and it just keeps on snowing... you end up with a state full of really pissed off people who are so over Old Man Winter.


Here's my road.


Here's the snow pile from my driveway.



Here's my eight year old on top of that pile. Yes, that is a power line behind her.

As of right now, with all the school cancellations, the first day of summer break won't be until June 18th. And winter is not over yet... I heard this morning that our temps are forecasted in the long range models, to be below normal through May. Wahhh!!!

So, what that amounts to, is me catching up on some movies that I have been meaning to see. I thought I would take a minute and give my thoughts on the ones I have seen recently. There may be some mild spoilers beyond this point, just so you know.


My husband bought me Man of Steel on blu-ray for Christmas and I hadn't seen it in the theaters, so I was hoping that it was going to be a flick worth owning. I was pretty impressed by the trailers, so I wasn't too concerned. Superman is an icon. I was interested to see someone else's version of the well known hero. 

First off let me say that I did enjoy the movie, very much. I think that Cavill was an excellent choice to play the part. That is spoken both as a fan of the genre and as a chick. YES! 

I liked the combination of flashback and present time. It allowed for a certain amount of back story without it being a straight up origin story in the general sense. I liked the attention that was paid to the struggle Clark endured as he tried to come to terms with his differences. That made the character feel more genuine, instead of Clark just happily accepting his role, as he is often portrayed.

I like what they did with the storyline, but I also sort of took issue with some of the things they decided to change in this new version. I grew up on Christopher Reeve's Superman. Even though I wasn't much of a comic reader as a kid, I knew the story of Superman, of Jor El, of Krypton's destruction. And some basic elements were changed. I did have a little bit of a tough time with some of that. I won't get too specific.

I couldn't wait for the ending because I kept hearing about what Superman does to General Zod and how it goes against everything he stands for. I didn't feel that way at all! He was saving the humans, which is what he does. So, I get it. I actually thought that the amount of destruction done to Metropolis in the final battle scene with Zod was far more uncharacteristic of Superman than Zod's eventual demise.

All in all, I loved it. I can't wait to get to know Cavill's Superman a little better. He won me over.

 


I also saw THOR: The Dark World. I knew this movie was going to be terrific. Of the new MARVEL Avengers, I love the THOR movies. Something about Asgard really captures me imagination. And, the visuals are just stunning. I guess for me, it's a toss up between Iron Man and Thor. 

Loki totally stole the show, as has been the case previously. We all love Tom Hiddleston. Also, in usual fashion, there was a real lack of chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. Thankfully, their relationship isn't the epicenter of the movie. Yikes... 

I think one of the things that separates the MARVEL franchise movies from the new DC movies is the sense of humor. The movies each give you reasons to smile, whereas the Dark Knight and Man of Steel movies are ultra serious. One is not better than the other, they are just different in that way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. My family left the theater declaring that the second was superior to the first. Personally, like my children, I love them equally. :)


   

We had free movie channels one weekend recently, and I decided to watch Snow White & the Huntsman. I didn't have very high expectations for this movie because it seems like outside of Mordor and Hogwarts, the makers of the fantasy genre put out some really terrible stuff. As a long time lover of fantasy and fairy tale things, this has long disappointed me. I was bored and it was crappy out, so I decided to give this movie a try.

This movie caught me by surprise. I found myself enjoying it immensely. I loved Charlize Theron as the evil queen. Not since Willow's Bavmorda have I feared an evil queen so much. Kristen Stewart was even tolerable when you looked past her on again off again quasi-British accent. The dark forest rivaled the Princess Bride's Fire Swamp, in the danger within.

I was sucked right into this fairy tale. Actually, I searched the Directv guide and added the next showing to my recording list. For me, there was a lot to love about this movie. I give it a thumbs up!

  

I took the kids to see The Lego Movie this weekend. Honestly, I would have been okay seeing this movie sans children because I knew it was going to be super fantastic. I was not disappointed. Everything is awesome!

It's smart, funny, the animation is so imaginative. I think I smiled through the entire movie. This is a movie that adults can easily appreciate. 

I think my favorite aspect of the entire movie was the portrayal of Batman. I have always sort of had a loathing of Batman, as a character. I mean, I love Batman movies. But, I don't like Batman the man. The things I love most about Batman is the villains. Batman has the far superior villains. In the most recent Dark Knight adaptations, it is the villains that make me love the movies. Scarecrow, The Joker, Bane... Those movies were won by the villains! (IMO)

That's why, when Batman is painted as an arrogant super-macho douche in this film, I just ate it right up. The things Lego Batman says are so funny. He's so self centered. They totally captured my view of the essence of Batman. 

Here's a little taste of Lego Batman. 



I am in love with The Lego Movie. I will own it as soon as it comes out. It's a real keeper and it's the top movie for 3 weeks in a row for a reason. Do yourself a favor and go check it out.

So, that's what I've been up to... Putting on winter weight and watching movies. Have you seen any of these movies? If so, what did you think?


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Old People and Technology

I haven't posted in a while. I should have talked about the Doctor Who special, but I didn't. (I loved it, in case you were wondering). I just haven't been "feeling it" lately, if you know what I mean.

Today is weird. It's the day before Thanksgiving and it sort of feels like Wednesday because it is Wednesday, kind of feels like Thursday because I got paid today thanks to the holiday, and it also feels like Friday because it is my last work day of the week and the office is a ghost town.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I make a point to stop every Wednesday morning at my grandparents' house on my way to work. I get a chance to visit with them, I pick up their weekly wash (Which I do for them in return for homemade cookies. It's a great gig), and I get to check in on them. They are still quite independent, but are going to be turning 80 next year. They need to be looked in on.

So, I stopped in this morning and Grandma greeted me and then handed me her laptop and told me her email was broken. "Please fix it," she said. "I'm not getting the messages from the church!" 

I often find myself "fixing" her email or "fixing" her Facebook. I've had to reconnect to her router, setup the wireless printer, fix the zoom when the print on the screen is way too big or too small, you name it. To Grandma, I am a computer genius.

I have to give my grandparents props with regards to technology. They are often intimidated by it, but they have always tried to stay with the times. They had cell phones before I did. They had the internet before we had it at our house and I am pretty sure they had a PC before we did! They try. And, I give them credit for that.

That said, here's how I spent a good chunk of the morning:

I logged on to see if I could figure out what was up. Mind you, they have had the same email address since forever. They have an email through Excite.com. which I wasn't even sure was still a "thing." Well, it evidently is still a thing, and it is mediocre at best. The issue they were having was that to open an email it brings up a pop-up window. The messages were unable to load for whatever reason. It was probably a pop-up blocker or there's something that needs an update. Anyway, I decided that it was time to ditch the Excite address and introduce my grandparents to the world of gmail!

I got things set up and through my phone, was able to link her old account to her new ( the damn pop-up issue was keeping me from opening the verification email). I sent out a mass email to all of their contacts informing them of the change in address and then started the process of imputing her old contacts into the new address book. Excite.com does not give an easy way to do this, so it's all copy and paste the old fashioned way. And, here's where it got weird.

I'm going down the list and I'm like, "That person's dead. Dead. Dead. They're also dead. Dead. Dead. Wow, they've been dead for like five years. Dead." And so on.

I guess that's the thing about getting old. You aren't blocking people that you don't like, you are deleting people who died. Weird. So, I downsized their contact list considerably after weeding out the deceased.

Now, all I have to do is introduce Grandma to gmail. If only I could get her to use CHROME instead of IE...  


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Dark Knight Rises (A New View)

This post will contain mild spoilers. But, as far as I am concerned, if you haven't seen this movie by now, you no longer have the right to the expectation of surprise. Watch the damn thing or whatever.



Things are finally winding down. Youth soccer and football are coming to a close and yesterday I found the time to sit down and enjoy a movie while folding a mountain of laundry.

I decided to give The Dark Knight Rises another chance. I am not a huge Batman fan. I never have been. Perhaps he's too mainstream. I'm not sure. All I know is, the first time I watched the movie I wasn't in love with it. I am not a big Christian Bale fan and I just could not seem to get past Bane's voice. It caught me totally off guard and I was totally distracted from the movie because I thought it was such a strange voice. It was a total deviation from what I expected Bane to sound like. I actually found myself not enjoying the movie because of it. It's stupid, I know.

Some people get all the enjoyment out of a movie they can the very first time they see it. They watch a movie once, and even if they loved it, never have the urge to see it again. I am not like that. Movies tend to grow on me. I can't properly take in a movie in one viewing. I never catch all the details. I am too caught up in wondering what's next to concentrate on enjoying the little things. However, over time and several viewings I pick up on the subtleties and grow to really appreciate a film. Such is the case here.

Now that I have heard the ridiculous voice and had a chance to get past it, I was truly able to listen to Bane. To be honest, I am still not a fan of Batman. Bane was my favorite part of the movie. He's truly a madman genius. Though his tactics make him more terrorist than vigilante, a lot of what he stands up for is noble (oddly enough). He wants to see Gotham fall, but it is only due to its corruption.

I enjoyed the movie much more the second time around. Yes, I already knew what was going to happen but I was able to absorb more of the story.

I was mesmerized by the opening sequence with the airplanes. That was some great film making. It was a fantastic scene!

There's some dialogue that could be better, but all in all I have changed my opinion of the movie. Those guys know what they are doing. They shot some amazing scenes. And as strange as it is considering my original view, it was Bane that won me over in the end. And, it was probably all due to that chant. The Bane chant is the cat's ass.

That is all. Carry on.






Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Thoughts on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (so far)


We are now three episodes into Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was pretty excited about this series. It is nice to see that the networks are starting to come up with some original content again instead of all that reality crap; all of which I refuse to watch (thank God for Netflix and BBC America).

Now that we're into the show a bit, maybe you're wondering if it has been living up to my expectations. Maybe you aren't... 

*Big deep breath*

I wanted to love this show. I WANT to love it. 

So far, I am not loving it. And, it hurts me to say that. 

You don't have to worry about spoilers. You won't find any here. Here's what I'll say about it:

The characters lack depth.
  • They are transparent and the writers give way too much away! I am sure there are a few things we will eventually learn, but at this point, I don't really care about any of these people. That's a problem.


The writing is mediocre at best.
  • The dialogue is lacking, the characters aren't terribly interesting, the stories are so predictable that I spoil it for myself by figuring out where everything is going in the first five minutes. There is nothing pulling me in; nothing making me want more. It's beyond disappointing.  


The story line is too predictable.  
  • This one deserves its own bullet even though I already mentioned it above. I am so disappointed in the story. I know that they can do so much better than this! The character relationships leave a ton to be desired and each episode feels so formulaic that there is nothing to uncover. There is nothing to discover. It sucks. I wanted this show to be great and instead it's meh


It's not all terrible. Coulson is still Coulson. They have done a good job with his character, at least. I guess I just thought that this was going to be my next Doctor Who, and it's not even in the same realm. It's really a shame. 

We could have had it all, S.H.I.E.L.D. We could have had it all...


Monday, October 7, 2013

I Dreamed The End of the World Last Night


I can't say that I've ever had an apocalyptic dream before now. Actually, it's been quite a while since I have had a nightmare that stuck with me the way this one has.

The picture above should give you a good idea of how my brain thinks it's going to happen. After all, we are super vulnerable on this rock that is spinning through space.  

In the dream, I was with my family and we were on some sort of an outing and were outside. We were admiring the gorgeous day; the bright blue sky in particular. People on the street began to stop and stare up into the sky. 

"What is that?" a man asked, pointing up at something. 

We all stopped. I used my arm to block the sun so that I could see what they were all looking at. I saw what looked like the moon, only different; bigger.

"What could that be?" someone else asked.

"I don't know, but whatever it is, it's definitely getting closer," another person chimed in. 

It only took a second for me to realize that we were staring at a huge meteor that was flying right toward us at a tremendous rate of speed. It was soon close enough to cast a shadow on those of us standing below. 

We didn't have time to do anything except huddle on the ground and prepare for the impact; the end of the earth.

I held my children close and told them I loved them very much. All of the people in the near vicinity just laid on the ground; no one panicked. We all just said goodbye to each other. What else could we do?

My ears began to pop and the thoughts that went through my head as I waited to die were:

Is there a God?
Why weren't we warned?

I started to think about what to expect as the final moment ticked past. Depending on the point of impact I guessed that there would be a lot of heat as the meteor crashed through the atmosphere...

Happy Monday?


    

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Nothing inspires me quite like outer space.


I grew up peering through a telescope with my daddy as we counted Jupiter's moons, Saturn's rings, and watched the magic of a lunar eclipse. I can name several constellations and I am ever captivated by a moonless night and the incredible spectacle above. I live way out in the wide open country; far away from the bright lights of the city. Without so much as a tree to block my view, I am able to get an unobstructed view of the vast and sparkling night sky. 

Even at thirty-two years of age I still find that the thought of outer space captures my imagination. I think that's why I enjoy the concept of Doctor Who so much. What with it being all spacey-wacey and timey-wimey.

I never feel so small as when I am staring up at the stars, thinking about how small I am compared to the Earth. And, the Earth is nothing compared to the sun or our entire solar system. That always leads to thoughts of our galaxy and how many stars and solar systems it must be comprised of. Of course, then I think about how many galaxies there must be out there. Is the Universe infinite or does it have boundaries? I think about time and space and how BIG our universe is. Is our Universe the only one? 

I had a really fun brainstorming session with some middle school kids last weekend and we were discussing the Mars One mission. We talked about the feasibility of sustaining life on Mars over an extended period of time. 

By the end of our discussion we had decided that if they could come up with a compound that could be transported to Mars that could be then constructed into a clear dome, that loads of top soil could be brought in from Earth and if enough oxygen could be pumped into the dome to allow a seed to germinate, that eventually the plants would begin to create oxygen within the dome and people would be able to grow food and they could create and inner ecosystem that would allow them to sustain themselves and let them leave their pod houses without space suits. It was a fun conversation. So inspiring. They thought I should write a book about it. 

I love Star Wars and I grew up on Star Trek. I appreciate John Carter of Mars, Dune, and even corny space related movies like Armageddon, Independence Day, and Super 8. I can't help it.

I have this idea in the back of my head that is what I envision as my grand masterpiece of literature. It is space related and rather complex. I expect it to take a decade to flesh everything out and get it written, but little talks like the one I had the other day really get ideas brewing. 

I'm a space nerd. I think I was born this way... 



     

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Was Bored The Other Day




I was sitting at my daughter's soccer practice the other day, bored out of my gourd. I decided that I would take all of the contacts in my phone and change their photo icons to Superheroes/villains. This turned out to be ultra fun!

I took great pleasure in assigning my various personal contacts with heroes or villains that I felt fit them for one reason or another. It was a truly wonderful way to kill time.

It was easy at first. The hubby is Batman. My trouble making younger brother is Hellboy. That cry baby guy that I must deal with is Catwoman. I really enjoyed it more than I should have. That goofy friend is The Tick, my grandpa is Mermaidman from Spongebob. That lady who's a real jerk from that one company was given Loki. I gave my mother Bluntman and Chronic, because of reasons. (One of them being that she would think it was awesome).

The deeper I got into my contacts, the harder it was to pair people up (especially women). So, I started going, "Eenie, meenie, miney, mo: Aquaman, Rorschack, Green Arrow, Megamind." Things got pretty random after a certain point. But, I am happy to report that everyone has been signed a character.

I have been waiting for someone to call so that I can see their new picture pop up on my phone. "Great idea, Jessie." That's what I told me.