Weekend Scenes


Watching The Two Towers with Ruby. She doesn’t enjoy the battle at Helm’s Deep as much as I, apparently.

“Oh come on, we can take ’em.”

“It’s a long way.”

“Toss me.”


“I cannot jump the distance, you’ll have to toss me…don’t tell the elf.”

Tree planting with mom and dad in the cold and drizzle.

Tree planting with mom and dad in the cold and drizzle.


Front step pansies, an autumn look.

Front step pansies, an Autumn portrait.

My best friend when cold times come and my skin is reminiscent of sandpaper.  Now travel-sized for your convenience.

My best friend when cold times come and the skin on my face is reminiscent of sandpaper or tar paper or a porcupine with a five-o-clock shadow. Now travel-sized for your convenience.

My oh my, if a gentleman ever proposed to me with this ring, why, I'd just have to accept!

My oh my, if a gentleman ever proposed to me with this ring, why, I’d just have to accept.

How to Avoid 114 Minutes of Ghost Rider

I am not a YouTube lurker.  I don’t often browse Tumblr, Cracked, Instagram, Twitter  or Pinterest.  When I’m not reading blogs online, what I’m doing is watching movie trailers.  Either at trailers.apple.com or at IMDB.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this fixation before.  I’m passionate about movies–or films as a true aficionado would call them–but I often suspect that I’m even more passionate about movie trailers.  Previews.

They’re entire stories shrunk down into two-minute reels.  They often feature a fantastic song or two.  They show you the best of the movie they’re selling.  The most exciting, most beautiful, most romantic parts of the thing.  And in that way they spare you the mystery that comes with watching movies; you never have to wonder if it will actually be good or not.  You never have to regret wasting your money or your time.  You will never again have to suffer through ONE-HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN MINUTES OF GHOST RIDER (which remains to this day the worst movie I’ve ever seen in theatres.  I would have walked out had it not been a date).  You can simply watch the trailer, absorb the high points, and continue on with your day, free of anguish.

Here are a few of my current favorite trailers, for your enjoyment.  I may see the full movies later, I may not.  And that’s okay.

1. Romeo & Juliet

2. Prince Avalanche

3. Austenland

4. The Lifeguard

5. Her

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

In Spec: A Highly Sophisticated, Appellationary Rant

I’ve always thought it a terrible crime that one might say “in retrospect” when looking back upon something that’s already happened, but cannot say “in spec” when referring to something happening at present.  Of course, one can say “at present,” but that’s an entirely different phrase.  No relation to this mysterious “retrospect.”  And anyway, “at present” is boring.  It’s as if your mother, perhaps wearing the pea coat and netted hat of her early days, is tapping you on the shoulder and telling you that at present, you are not behaving properly.  Spec implies something much more romantic.  Spec implies spectacles.  Implies, by extension, rose-colored glasses.  Implies, then, Edith Piaf, implies Paris, implies yellow lights on the river, dark-capped apartment buildings with balconies pushing out.  And since dear Edith is not with us at present (she was once), and since we are currently not in Paris (we have been before), but rather on the living room rug with a sweaty dog leaning against our right knee, “in spec” seems to imply retrospect.  So while “at present,” (and this is me blatantly ignoring all free access to the OED which my UMM alum status hath granted me) only implies the current, “in spec,” while referring to living room rug, sweaty dog, right knee, actually encompasses much, much more.  Therefore, “in spec,” from now on, must for all romantic souls replace the colorless “at present.”***

I will be contacting Andrew Clements immediately.

***Please note that I (most irresponsibly) watched Midnight in Paris before writing this post.


Great Exspocktations

It has been a glorious day.  I haven’t had much opportunity to leave the house since graduation (alas, the plight of the newly alumnied and unemployed), but today the gentleman caller and I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

For the record, I think the first one was better (all ye Trekkies: I promise I am aware that there were other Star Trek movies before the 2009 version (to which I refer when I say “first”)).  Into Darkness was a little misguided in the plot department.  Scenes that didn’t seem very important (e.g. moving from one ship to another) were made into long, drawn-out affairs that didn’t do much to further the story despite their dramatics.  They became tiring after a while, and it felt like J.J. Abrams was using them to either add run time or to supplement an underdeveloped plot.  Further, the villain’s motives were highly unclear, at least to me.  I got the revenge part, but then there was something about being a peacekeeper, and then something about wanting to destroy all those of lesser intelligence. The gentleman caller and I agreed that had some dots been connected, the character development of the villain could have been a lot more compelling (and less confusing).  That being said, if you liked the “first” Star Trek, you’ll probably like Into Darkness.  All of the beloved characters are back, the action scenes are fast-paced, and the moments of humor (mostly at Spock’s or Scotty’s expense) are still there.

Also, if you go see it in 3D like I did, try not to visibly flinch every time something appears to jump off the screen.  People will stare, even in a dark theatre.

After the movie, we drove to Half Price Books.  I hadn’t been there in over a year, and it was a blissful reunion.  The funny thing about HPB is that when I go in with a list, I never find what I’m looking for, but if I go in with an open mind, I find some real treasures.  This trip, I went in without expectations (despite the one that I would probably buy something.  But that’s unavoidable in a bookstore), and came out with Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke and David McCullough’s 1776.

The Orman is key for my post-grad plan for self-improvement and independence, and the McCullough is one I’ve wanted for a while: I read his John Adams while studying abroad, and enjoyed his style of historical storytelling very much.  He doesn’t presume to know everything, that David, but he does presume to paint as complete a picture for readers as he possibly can.  There’s a prose about his writing, rare, in my experience, for heavy historical tomes.  It makes his books accessible to the masses.  And for that–if I may get up on my “I hate highly specified academic jargon because it leaves people out” horse–I will laud him forever.

More graduation saga to come soon, I promise.  It’s been hard to sit down and commit with this out my back door:


20 Questions

  1. Will Dicaprio’s performance as Gatsby be better than Redford’s?  

    Admittedly, I’ve never seen the Redford Gatsby, but as you all know my opinion of Leo, and as I spent time stalking Mr. Redford at Sundance over the summer (and eventually settling for an enormous reuben sandwich from the lodge restaurant instead), I’m going to say no.

  2. Narnia or Middle Earth? 

    I loved Narnia first, beginning in fifth grade.  I didn’t read Lord of the Rings until eleventh grade.

  3. Hemingway or Joyce? 

    Hemingway, that crazy genius bastard.

  4. Favorite font? 

    I haven’t thought about this one much, truthfully. I usually stick to Cambria, which is the default on Mac. Times New when forced.

  5. What’s your ideal book length for reading? 

    If the book keeps me engaged, than I don’t care how long it is.  The average length of the books I read is probably about 250 pages.

  6. You have to go a year without a book (all forms) or a week without food. Which one do you choose and why? 

    Well, obviously I’m a fan of food.  Training for a 5K, not to mention basic functioning, would be rather difficult without it.  But to go without intellectual stimulation would be torturous as well; one can watch The Wedding Planner on TLC only so many times.  I’m going to say I’d skip the food, but someone had better bring me Chipotle at the end of the week.

  7. Best concert you’ve ever been to? 

    Concerts I’ve been to: Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond, Cloud Cult, Flogging Molly, Rooney, Coldplay.  The Rooney was the only one I legitimately didn’t enjoy, despite the fact that MIchael from The Princess Diaries was singing lead.  Paul McCartney has to take the prize on this one, mostly because he’s Paul McCartney, but partly because he’s still got it, and because I went with my mom in ninth grade, and because I brought back more souvenirs from that concert than most kids bring back from Disneyworld.

  8. Star Wars or Star Trek? 

    Star Wars.  I first saw it in my neighbor’s basement.  We stole the VHS’s from her older brother and then sat for hours, eating fudgsicles and holding the everlasting debate: Leia buns: chic or earmuffs?

  9. Best compliment you ever received from a teacher/professor? 

    In sixth grade, I wrote a book report on The Diary of Anne Frank.  In the margin, my teacher scrawled, “Is this really you writing this?”  Thinking I was being accused of plagiarism, I confronted him at his desk, ready to defend my honor.  Then he told me it was a compliment.  And I sat back down.

  10. What’s your one piece of writing advice? (don’t be shy!) 

    How about this?  The best writing advice I’ve ever received: “The best essays are written by those who ask ‘why’ one more time than anyone else does.”

  11. Mountain reading or beach reading? 

    I hate beach reading.  Not only is it hot and blinding, but sand gets everywhere.  I think I’m more of an indoor reader.

  12. What’s one novel you think is awesome that everyone else thinks is bad? 

    Gone With the Wind.  It’s a magical book, despite its length and its sentimentality.  But Scarlett O’Hara is a b.  That is all.

  13. Conversely, what’s one novel you think is bad that everyone else thinks is awesome?

    Invisible Man.   Wicked.  The Red Badge of Courage.

  14.  Amazon: Good or bad?

     Amazon provides me with cheap textbooks every semester, so I’m going to say good.

  15. Most famous author you’ve ever met?

    I haven’t met many authors, sadly.  Maybe Michael Perry at the literary festival last year?

  16. What percentage of books on your bookshelf have you actually read (estimate)? 

    80%.  I do buy a lot of books, but I also go through them fairly quickly.  Nothing bothers me more than the presence of an unread book on my shelf.

  17. Favorite reading beverage? 

    Water.  I’m trying to make myself into a tea drinker, but so far that isn’t happening.

  18. A hypothetical: Print and digital books are no more and audio books are the only form of literature remaining. One catch: All the audio books are read by Gilbert Gottfried (who has indeed recorded an audio version of 50 Shades of Grey). Are you done with literature? 

    The story is what matters to me, not the form it’s in.  I will not be denied my Virginia Woolf!

  19. One novel every teenager must read? 

    I believe every freshman in college should read Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.

  20. Who inspired you to become an avid reader? 

    I don’t know that anyone specific inspired me; I’ve loved to read ever since I learned.  I’m sure it helped, however, that my mom is a reader, and that both of my parents kept my bookshelf stocked.  I’ve also been under the wing of several gracious librarians, who have wavered overdue notices and allowed me to check out past capacity and offered book suggestions before I even asked.

This is What I Do in my Spare Time

I watch movie trailers.  And then I speculate about them.  I also stay up until 5 am studying for midterms.  And then I have a breakdown in the middle of the Student Center.

Actually, that one hasn’t happened yet.

Anyway, these are the movies I am currently engrossed in:

1. Hitchcock.  I saw this for the first time last night, and it immediately became apparent that Anthony Hopkins will win an Oscar.  He just will.  Watch it and you’ll see.  I mean, DDL looks great as Lincoln, and PSH, though everything he does creeps the heck out of me, will surely be nominated for The Master, but Hopkins is transcendent.  Utterly transcendent.

2. Les Miserables. I know I’ve already talked about this film, but the fact that the singing will not be dubbed is worth mentioning.  Entire movies have been spoiled for me because I’ve discovered ahead of time that an actor was wearing a wig, or a fat suit, or lifts.  As much as  it’s important for one to be able to lose oneself in a film, the illusion is always very delicate, in my opinion.  Real live singing will help immensely.

3. Wuthering Heights.  You see, this is my favorite Bronte novel.  Jane Eyre didn’t do anything for me, but Wuthering Heights is visceral and dark and fascinating.  I’m not sure what I think of the look of the film yet.  The twangy music is an interesting choice, although for me it conjures up Civil War, not English moors. (sorry about the rhyme)

4. Identity Thief.  I’m picky about comedies.  I suppose most people are.  The last comedy, however, that had me crying tears of mirth was Bridesmaids.  So naturally, if Melissa McCarthy is finally getting a lead comedic role, I’m on board.

5. Stoker.

The Dark Knight Rises

This one’s for my sister Johnny, who just Facebook chatted me the following message:


And then after I dug my heels in a little bit, and sent her a picture of my second toe (it’s longer than my big toe, which grosses her out to no end), and explained that I was taking the weekend off, she rather forcefully suggested that I do a review of The Dark Knight Rises.  

Which was nice, because I strongly suspect that no one wants to read another review of that movie, let alone one written by a twenty-one-year-old college student.

I think she knew I probably wanted to write one anyway.

Which I did.

So here it is.  I’m trying to make it as spoiler free as I can, but read with your eyes half closed, just in case.

I want to say, first of all, that my thoughts and prayers have been with the people of Aurora all weekend.  I went to see the movie on Friday night, and it was horrific to think that less than twenty-four hours earlier, the victims of the shooting had been doing the same thing.  I don’t think I can say it better than Christopher Nolan did: “The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.”

The Dark Knight Rises in one word: intense.  Not a great word, I know, but the first one I thought of when the credits rolled.  A warning to my fellow sensitive movie watchers: this one can be tough to watch at times.  It’s a fitting finale for the trilogy, I felt, but in order for it to be so, it had to be unflinching and explosive.  And it was.

In what shapes up to be a terrifying parallel to the 9/11 events, the third Batman installment features Gotham gone mad.  Stirred up by an uninhibited force in the underground, and trapped by the threat of nuclear destruction, citizens run rampant, and both government and police are quickly crippled into almost nonexistence.  Bruce Wayne, who has lived as a recluse for the past eight years, must suit up again to face a demon from his past and a city that holds him responsible for the death of white knight Harvey Dent.

It was hard not to miss Heath Ledger’s mesmerizing Joker, but the cast members-some old, some new-were able to carry Nolan’s heavy plot regardless.  Christian Bale was dependable as always, and had a satisfying amount of screen time minus the bat ears.  Michael Caine continued to deliver wry wisdom as loyal butler Albert, and Morgan Freeman, along the same lines, offered a quiet but effective dose of comic relief.  Veteran Gary Oldman, who we’ve all been rooting for from the beginning, finally got a few action scenes.  Newcomers Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard were welcome and successful additions, but it was an earnest Joseph Gordon-Levitt who stole the show for me.  I won’t ruin the ending for you, but let me go down in the books as saying that that possibility has me intrigued.

Batman, as I’ve said before, is my favorite superhero because he’s not super; he has no powers, no fawning admirers, no typically heroic stance.  He’s dark, and he’s conflicted, and he wallows.  He lives in a city filled with sinister crime; a city that doesn’t always appear to deserve saving.  A city that easily turns its back on him.  But in the end, as we all perhaps knew he would, Batman flies off into the sunset with the rest of them, while admiring children, leaning out of a school bus parked on a half-destroyed bridge, cheer him on.