Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Flipping Deal

I was starting to feel that I was among a disturbingly small group of people -- a minuscule minority. In this group are the people who never saw Titanic, and who have no interest in seeing it (me) and who haven't seen Avatar and really had no interest in seeing it (me again).

So, over the weekend Todd and I found ourselves in a situation where we could watch Avatar. We didn't spend a dime to see it (thank Christ). Let's just say that a friend of ours was able to get us "free passes," and leave it at that! ;-) Since I was among a group of people, I was captive to the group will and so, Avatar it was!

What is the big flipping deal with this stupid movie? After about 15-20 minutes into the film I found myself (as well as the others) settling into an easy onslaught of commentary, a la MST3K. I absolutely cannot believe this ridiculous piece of crap won Golden Globes for best director and best motion picture for drama (DRAMA??? WTF???). There is no drama; only contrived, pointless, eye-rolling dialogue within a trite, overdone, predictable storyline that is about as subtle as using a grenade to crack a soft-boiled egg.

There are SO many problems with this movie that I don't even know where to begin. How about the dialogue?

Here's one of the first lines of dialogue that got me going:

Main dude (can't even remember their names): Why didn't you just let them kill my ass?
Main Na'vi woman: Because you have a strong heart.

My eyes rolled so hard they almost came out of my head.

What the fuuuuuuck? The notion of "a strong heart" or "a good heart" is the most ridiculous, weak, American plot convenience that exists. Why would a race of alien people, who are ostensibly at war with the "sky people" that come to steal their resources, make THAT kind of statement? It makes absolutely no sense.

More weak dialogue? That would be any words that came out of the mouth of the movie's absurdly stereotypical antagonist: the military general (of course) running the show. He's a 60-something, hard-ass, crew-cut, buff, racist, misogynist, jackass with three huge scars that run from the back-side of his head to the front, as if he lost an epic battle with an enraged garden rake. I forget his name too. But it doesn't matter. Really, there is nothing memorable about this movie at all. Anyway, he says things like "I got them by the balls!" And "Time to bring the pain!" No, I am not making that up.

Did I mention that this movie lacks any kind of subtlety at all? It does. Drama MY ASS.

Ok so how about the acting? Well, you know you've got problems when the most acceptable acting performance in your movie was delivered by Michelle Rodriguez. Maybe I should stop there. I will. But I do need to add that I think that the apparent life-sized, puppet version of Sigourney Weaver didn't hold up too well during the nearly 3-hour running time. Hey Cameron, maybe you should reconsider allowing actors to telephone in their performances?

The story is, as everyone is saying, nearly identical to Pocahontas or Dances with Wolves (or as South Park jibed: Dances with Smurfs). What makes Avatar slightly more unique than either of the stories I just mentioned is that Avatar COMPLETELY LACKS ANY DEPTH OR SUBTLETY OF ANY KIND. Cameron comes out of the box hammering the story into your face with absurdly one-dimensional characters.

But what everyone is really talking about with this film is, of course, the visual impact it presents. Nearly everyone I spoke to who saw this film all had the same thing to say, "Story and dialog were so-so, but the GCI (or graphics, or visuals) were unbelievable. You have to see it to believe it." Okay. I did see it. And, um...well...I hate to break it to you but, I'm not that impressed.

First of all, the Na'vi people are blue, 9-feet tall, skeletal, lumbering, mammals with tails that serve no purpose whatsoever. They have cat-like, wide eyes and mostly cat-like noses. They all look identical to each other. There is seriously little to no variation on what these beings look like. Towards the end of the movie they decide to go around Pandora (which must be pretty friggin' small) to ask for help from the other tribes to assist in getting rid of the general and his soon-to-be, ass-kicking army attack. Aside from the occasional bone in the nose (no I'm not making that up either) or different clothing, tribes from other parts of Pandora look EXACTLY like the ones we are introduced to and journey with throughout the film. Way to go, Cameron.

Second, most of Pandora looks like the cover of an 11-year-old girl's Trapper Keeper: Purple, pink, blue, and sparkly with unicorns! If you can't picture that, Pandora looks almost exactly like Zangarmarsh from World of Warcraft.

I kid you not.

All the animals have pink, blue and purple on their anatomy somewhere and many have extra legs or wings. Big deal. Know what fantasy animals really looked awesome on screen, and they didn't have to be pink, purple, blue and have 6 legs? The oliphants from Lord of the Rings.

As for the action, flying, fighting, etc. where Cameron used motion-capture on the real actors (though Sigourney Weaver is a HUGE MAYBE) that looks ok. But it isn't anything I haven't seen already in other films. I pretty much hated the prequel Star Wars movies (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith). However, I saw all the same "groundbreaking" stuff in those movies as I did in Avatar. So how was this movie any different or better? It wasn't either. Period.

Maybe I am just cynical and jaded, but I fail to see why Avatar has generated SO much interest, acclaim, and CASH. Boy am I glad that I didn't pay one, red cent to see it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sock Love

So the socks I knit for Josh & Jen went over well! I think they really liked them, and it was a relief when they tried on their respective pairs and they both fit wonderfully! Whew!

If you would have asked me a couple of years ago what was the last thing I would ever be able to knit I would have said SOCKS. It's amazing to me how rewarding and enjoyable sock knitting has become for me. That said, I have acquired a lot of sock yarns. Even so, I don't have too many solid colors, but I saw this pattern on Ravelry today and I just fell in love with it. In fact, I bumped it up to #1 in my queue and I just might cast-on tonight!

So what would you think if I used these 2 sock yarns (yay -- from my stash) to knit it:

Knit Picks Essential Kettle Dyed in Soot and

Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Colori Disco (this colorway is #2) I used the close-up photo so you can see the metallic, sparkly bits in the yarn. But the color is a subtle ombre of gray and taupe and it's a little brighter/lighter than it appears in the photo.
Since you only need a standard amount of sock to be able to knit a pair (around 400 yards), I was thinking of making these super-special: a pair of knee-length socks!

I also have that kettle-dyed Essential in a deep purple (almost eggplant) color, which could be an option as well.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love-Fest 2010

Finally! I'll be heading down to good ol' Manassas, Virginia for the weekend to celebrat Valentine's Day with a couple of great friends (Josh & Jen, we love you guys).

We'll be back on Monday, hopefully. That is, if we're not trapped by another blizzard! But even still, I'd rather be trapped with good company than be at work, which was an absolute nightmare today. My job...ugh....

Anyhoo, hope you all have a very lovely Valentine's Day, no matter how you choose to celebrate it (or not)!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

By The Way...

You may have heard (or even experienced it if you're on the NE corridor of I-95 between N. Virginia and N. New Jersey) that we've been getting a ridiculous amount of snow over the last week. I think the technical term is a "shitload."

Anyway, after getting pounded with about 28-30 inches on Saturday, we're currently under assault again, with another 20-24 (at least) expected by the time it's over. Here's a couple of photos I took this afternoon:

I couldn't venture too far out of my house, so this it what I could get from car-port.

Our poor pine tree looks like it's about to give up those bottom branches. They're seriously hanging only about 12 inches from the ground.

Those are azalea bushes near the pine tree. They are at least 36" tall. You can see that they're nearly completely covered.
It's still snowing too and will most likely continue until 10:00pm tonight. Sigh. At least I had off from work today!

Need Your Opinion

Ok, so I want to update the look of my living room wall.

Right now, I have three 20 x 28 frames hanging all next to each other, with about 8 inches in between each one. In each of these frames is a blown-up photo that I took in a state park in Vermont when we were on vacation there in 2006.

Here's what the wall currently looks like:

While I like the photos enough, the problem has always been the frames. I purchased these 3 frames from Ikea. Trying to open the backs up to put the photos in resulted in the glass breaking on all 3. YES, ALL THREE. So the frames are hanging without the glass. My dad rigged up the frames with some stuffing in the back to make the photos come to the front, so it wouldn't look weird. looks weird. Because now the photos are starting to buckle out from the matting. Sigh.

It's time for a change. Seriously. Buying a large, framed or stretched-canvas art piece for the wall space above the sofa isn't going to be cheap, even if it's a print. We're talking about a framed piece that's at least 64" wide by 22" high, or a combination of framed art (or prints) equal that amount. I can't afford it; and I can't think of anything I actually like enough to be willing to shell out the cash, either.

And something tells me that Todd wouldn't be thrilled to see three of these on the walls:


Anyway, that wall is a light green. Not quite sage because sage has more of a brown/yellow undertone and this green color has definite notes of gray or blue in it. It's a little darker than how it appears in the photo. You can't really see the sofa too well, but it's a dark marine blue.

I've been thinking of doing the removable, vinyl wall decals. Etsy has TONS of them. And I can re-do the look of the wall for well under $100. I've favorited several, and would like your opinions on what you think might look good in that space.

Here are a few that are in high consideration, in no particular preferential order:

I would probably do dark brown branches, white flowers, and turquoise birds. Unless you think some other color combo would be better with the wall color I have.

Again, for color, I was thinking either the chocolate or the matte black. I really like this one. My only complaint is that it's only one color. But the picture is interesting enough that I think it would be ok. Maybe? How about the silver?

This decal has a TON of color options. I still think I'd do brown for the blocks and then the birds in a turquoise color.

This would be more of a departure from what I have now, but I think it looks so cool. And seriously, I think the wall could handle it. Also, GREAT price for the size! Colors? Trees in brown, gray, or silver, birds in turquoise? Beige? Not sure.

This is similar to the first one, but it's a good bit larger. Still thinking brown tree and blue birds. But the black does look good.

Another triptych style. I like how this looks in black. I think it would look great with that light green coming from behind it too. This is a really inexpensive option too, under $50.

Ok, last one! This one is another large one (80" wide). I'd have to really think about where to position this, but it could work if it came from the other direction. If you look at the picture of my wall up there, I have a doorway to the right and a lot of empty space between that doorway and the sofa. I'd probably chose similar colors to the ones pictured here in this photo.

Hope I didn't bombard you with too many options! I think I might do the same thing in the master bedroom and possibly in the powder room, since I can't seem to get around to painting it!

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Hello all! I have good news and bad (well, not seriously bad) news. Good news first: I am happy to report that my attempt to destash some yarn and make a little cash in the process has been successful so far! It's been really nice to have a little bit of a balance in my PayPal account to buy a skein of "must-have" yarn, or a knitting notion or two, or a little something special from etsy.

So far I've made $131 from selling yarn in my etsy shop; and another $61 selling directly from my Ravelry "will-trade-or-sell" list. So $192--- not too shabby! That total does not include the shipping amounts, either! There's still more that I want to get rid of. Given the good results so far, I am very encouraged!

Some more good news: I did finish the pair of socks for Jen (the orange striped ones). And I am on track to finish the slate blue "Data Socks" for Josh, hopefully at some point this weekend! So I'll be all set for them come the Valentine's Day weekend.

Now the "bad" news. Remember that wedding wrap that I started for my future sister-in-law? Yeah, well there is no way that I am ever going to get that thing finished. In yesterday's mail I got the invitation to her bridal shower, which is March 13. ACK. I didn't expect it to be that soon. Although, I must admit that I don't know where my brain is! I mean really, it IS already the end of the first week of February and the wedding is early May. Sigh. Anyway, it's not going to happen. I only just found where I stashed it away (to keep it from feline influence). Talk about out of sight, out of mind!

And here's some potentially actually bad news: we need to take Sophie to the vet again for a thyroid check-up. These never turn out well. First of all, she's always half a pound lighter than she was the time before. Not good. Sophie used to be a 22-pound cat. Seriously. One day a few years ago I happened to be paying closer attention to her and realized that she looked great. A routine vet visit confirmed that she had lost a lot of weight; she was down to about 16 pounds. But since that time, which was not more than 3 years ago, she's consistently lost about 1.5 pounds a year. This is a lot for a cat. So in less than 3 years, she's gone from 16 to 11.5 pounds. :-(

She started on a thyroid regime about the same time we first noticed the weight loss. So, obviously, we're STILL not getting the dosage right. I just want her to stop losing weight. Thankfully, her appetite is still good. She doesn't drink as much water as I'd like. In fact, the last time we brought her in to the vet, Sophie was pretty dehydrated and they gave her some fluids. The sight of the bag of fluids makes me very sad. That was the last step before euthanasia for Mr. Chesterfield.

There are other potential issues with Sophie, too. For one thing, I'm starting to doubt the accuracy of her date of birth, something we have long thought to be March 1996. My sister adopted Sophie in November of 1997 and was told at that time that Sophie was "a year and a half old." Given the debacle with Mr. Chesterfield's age when we adopted him, I have an ever increasing terror that Sophie isn't approaching 14, but 19 or 20. Also, she was in bad shape when she was initially rescued. She had a really bad case of pneumonia, the effects of which still plague her today. She is prone to respiratory infections and has had fluid around her heart and lungs a couple of times. Plus at her last vet check-up we learned that she has fractal cataracts. She can still see, but she might see as if she were looking through a kaleidoscope or faceted glass. Great.
AND she's been having accidents again around the house, which is really disconcerting. We had to move a small litter box into the front foyer for her to use because she was just randomly peeing on the floor right there for no reason. Todd is very diligent about keeping the boxes in good order and no other cats take issue with them.

I just don't want her to suffer along, getting skinnier and skinnier, sicker and sicker. Sometimes I truly wonder if the vet's office has Sophie's best interests at heart. She's a veritable goldmine for them by way of check-ups, medicine, tests, shots, fluids, etc. Maybe that's crazy talk, but....

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A New Swap! Finally!

Since the Dishcloth Exchange appears to be dead, as well as Secret Pal, I have been jonesing for a decent swap!

I finally found a low-pressure, low-cost, mellow swap to participate in! Head over to the Our Yellow House blog if you're interested in participating too.