Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Make 365

A few people I know have been doing 365 projects, in fact it seems to be the new trend and apparently I missed the memo. Well, I'm all caught up now and I've decided to give it a go. Not because it's a trend and certainly not because everyone else is doing it. I'm doing this because there are lots of things I keep putting off or that get stuck in the planning stages and I need a push. I need some reason to get off my ass and get some work done.
So here we are. Every day for 365 days I plan to make something. Anything, really. Just so long as I make it from scratch. I'm not going to set too many rules for myself (as I tire of rules quickly) apart from not making the exact same thing over and over. I'm not going to set a size or difficulty requirement.
It might be jewelry stuff, it might be baking, it might be sewing or knitting or painting. And I'm going to try to get pictures of everything and link them here when I think of it.
Right now, I'm on day six. You can check out day 1, 3 and 4 on Flickr already. (Day 2 and 5 will be up soon)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I was going to try and avoid the subject entirely, not because I don't care but because it's everywhere I look. Then this morning I read that they've been struck with another earthquake or a powerful aftershock. Whatever you want to call it.
I've been following the news quietly, looking through the pictures and it's heartbreaking. I know that a lot of terms like "heartbreaking" and "tragic" have been tossed around a lot this week, but I can't think of a better word. It really is.
What strikes me most about the whole thing is how torn I am. Half of me is awe struck at how amazingly selfless, giving, and generous people can be. The amount of money that people have given, the time, the man power, it's wonderful. But at the same time The other half of me has never been so completely disgusted with just how selfish, cruel and down right evil people can be. The people who are taking advantage of those in desperate need, using a tragedy to push a political or religious agenda, it's mind boggling and sickening.
My heart goes out to everyone in Haiti and I can only hope that through some work and the help of those good people still left out there, things will improve soon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Avatar: You Knew This Was Coming, Right?

Yes, I saw it. Please stop asking. I'll even tell you exactly what I thought of it so I don't have to keep repeating myself because, frankly, it's gotten a bit tiring. I'll even start with what I liked.

It was really pretty and the 3D was amazing.

And now on to everything else. No really, that's about all the good I have to say about this movie. Sorry kids, if you wanted sugar and gumdrops you came to the wrong place.
For a movie that cost $500 million to make and has taken over a billion at the box office, I couldn't help but feeling like the movie is more of a success because of advertising than because it's a good movie. I guess when a director goes over ten years between big projects and gets a budget of $500 million people just automatically assume it's going to be AMAZING.
I'll start with my biggest complaint - I've seen this movie before. It was called Fern Gully, it was also called Pocahontas, it was Dances with Wolves, Braveheart and a book - Call Me Joe. It was a dozen movies I've seen before and who did it better.
As a friend of mine pointed out (and who I agree with, by the way), a movie need not be original to be good. There are hundreds of movies that are rip offs of hundreds of other movies, books, ideas, etc. and they're all really good. But what makes them good it that they took something I've seen before and did it in a way I've never seen before. Star Trek was a really good example of that and if you don't remember how I felt about that movie, I suggest you go reread my review.
But Avatar didn't do that. It didn't make these ideas its own. It just stuck in new characters and changed the name of the planet - TADA! New movie! Right?
Yeah, not so much.
It wouldn't even be so bad if that was my only complaint. Of course, it's not.
When the most believable character in the movie is animated, you have a problem. Neytiri seemed like the only character that actually belonged (even then, it was mostly when she was upset). Every other character was wooden, over the top or bounced between the two. Sigourney Weaver's over the top bitchiness combined with the decision to make her a smoker was just silly. Sam Worthington was so wooden for the first half of the movie they could have just used a cardboard cutout. Michelle Rodriguez was apparently playing Michelle Rodriguez: chopper pilot.
Then there were the bad guys - Gov. Ratcliffe... er... I mean Parker Selfridge played by Giovanni Ribisi (good work on making his name as close to "selfish" as you could, James) and Hexxus... er... Col. Quaritch played by Stephen Lang.
I'm not going to blame these guys entirely for being cast in roles that are so worn out they should be retired to the old roles home because, really, what are you supposed to do with that?
Giovanni was playing the typical corporate, money loving, environment hating, soulless bastard. His mantra throughout the film is "they're only trees and savages are stupid" despite overwhelming evidence. He's arrogant and stupid and about as one dimentional as a character can get.
Stephen got the wholly original role (where's that sarcasm punctuation when I need it) as the cartoonishly over the top bad guy with a gun. His motto is "shoot first, second, third... don't bother with questions". He's laughable to say the least and so unbelievable that it's hard to feel like he's a genuine threat.
All of this is compounded by some serious holes and leaps you're supposed to make. Jake mentions only once that on earth there's nothing green left but we've never been shown the earth he's from. We also have to assume that the humans aren't there to colonize the planet, what with it having air that will kill you if everything else on the planet doesn't kill you first. So they're just there for some substance James Cameron only thought to really mention once? And then what? They go back to their own dying world? What's the plan here? Are people really that stupid in the future? We haven't learned anything?
It's only mentioned that Jake's brother was a scientist and the one who was meant for the mission but he was killed off before he could leave. "For the paper in his wallet". So he was mugged? And an organization with that much money on the line decided to take an untrained, uneducated meat-head and put him in his place? And they didn't think a little training before hand would be, I dunno, a good idea? Uh huh.
But it all works out alright because Grandmother Willow... um... Eywa says he's cool.
Like I said, the movie is really pretty but everything else left me wondering how, exactly, James Cameron is still getting work. Even the prettiness got a bit mind numbing after a while, and not in a good way. As amazing as the animation was, when combined with real actors it still looked clownish and out of place. It was like spending two hours trapped in a technicolor acid trip nightmare. Pandora at night was so silly it was like "Las Vegas: the rain forest".
I don't know, maybe I've just gotten that jaded but this movie was a major disappointment and I say that as someone who wasn't expecting much.

Monday, January 04, 2010


There have always been women I've looked up to, admired and respected. They haven't changed much over the years because, I like to think, I've made some good choices. They're strong women who made it because they deserved it, not because anyone ever handed it to them. They're the kind of women we need more of.
Julia Child has been one of those women for a long time.
I like to cook, I always have and I love to bake. I'm perfectly happy to spend all day working on one project while friends and family shake their heads and wonder. I love kneading bread by hand or spending two days making perfect cinnamon buns. I find something special in cookies that are all just a little different. I find an amazing comfort in the smell of freshly baked pie. And when I found this bliss, I found Julia.
When I'm at a loss for what to do, when things blow up in my face, when I'm trying to get the goddamned waxed paper to curl in to a proper piping bag for the thirtieth time, I turn to Julia. She doesn't always hold the answer or fix everything but she does make me feel like it's okay to fail. For me, that's a BIG thing.
I know that Julia isn't the best chef to have ever taken up the ladle and whisk and I think that's part of why I love her. She was fallible and readily admitted it. I've watched hours and hours of her show and it always makes me feel so much better about my efforts. I don't get that feeling from any other cooking show. They're all so perfect and clean cut, everything works out right every single time. How is that supposed to help?
Julia routinely had things go wrong, and you know what? It wasn't the end of the world. She took the opportunity to show you how to save the day, to salvage the wreck or at worst, to just carry on because sometimes shit happens.
But you want to know one of the biggest reasons I love Julia as much as I do?
She was 32 when she started cooking.
I often panic that I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I went to school and I love doing fx make-up but I know it will never be what I "do". There's nothing I can really point to and say "I want to be THAT forever and ever". I worry about reaching lots of life's milestones and I often feel like I'm so far behind that I'll never catch up.
Julia gives me hope.
I know it was never her intention and I know it's more in my head than anything. But I'm okay with that.

"Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which cause me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, 'scientific' though. I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was." - Julia Child (1912 - 2004)