Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend begins!

Made it!  Memorial Day is the first paid holiday my company has in the year after New Year's Day, and it's always a veeeeeeerrrry long time before this first three-day weekend hits.  Too long.

Work was rough this past week.  It's been wearing me out to the point that I'm finding I'm not enjoying my evenings any more.  Too tired.  But if you go to bed too quickly, then it's back to the grind without any respite.  But bills must be paid, groceries must be bought, and one cannot just dispense with the job, no matter how tempting it is.

So, even though it was a drizzly day, I celebrated Saturday by grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, and making homemade buns for both.  Add in fresh corn and homemade orange sherbet for dessert, and it was a great dinner!

And yeah, I bake a lot of bread.  At least once or twice a week these days.  Earlier this past week I baked pita bread to go with some chicken souvlaki.  Fresh bread just makes every meal better!  And it's so easy.  Doesn't take nearly the time or effort most people assume it requires.  Only catch is thinking about it early enough to let it rise.  Deciding you want fresh bread at 5 pm isn't really going to work.  And then it's always nice to hear the family say how great it was to have a hamburger bun with real flavor for once. :-D  Makes it worthwhile!

Sadly, I can't eat the fresh bread myself.  I can only smell it and sigh and watch everybody else enjoy it, because I'm gluten-intolerant and the stomachache I'll get later if I do eat it is not worth the taste.

I pinched a nerve in my neck a few days ago.  Still dealing with that.  Ugh.   Drives me crazy when something prevents me from walking or lifting weights.

So, to cheer me up, I'm listening to the score to Krull, by James Horner, because nothing pulls me out of a funk faster than early, exuberant, all-out Horner.  The movie may not be the best, but that doesn't stop the score from being pretty darned fantastic.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ten Favorite Screen Characters Tag

Hamlette tagged me for this on her blog.  The tag is to list 10 of your favorite fictional movie or television series characters.  Of course, that was so open-ended, I had way more than ten favorite characters.  So, I started categorizing those favorites, and... it got out of control.  I love way too many characters!  And with Hobbit/Lord of the Rings still on my mind, the lists were kind of... boring and familiar.

Instead of current favorites or all-time favorites, I'm selecting the most reasonable of my various sub-categories, because it had exactly ten people in it.  Convenient!

So, these are my ten favorite screen characters who have also influenced me and/or changed my life, in both big and small ways. Sometimes a character simply teaches me more about myself.  But yes, I'm one of those fool people who can be affected quite strongly by fiction.  There is power in words.  It's one of the many reasons I became a writer.

1. Kronos (Valentine Pelka, guest star on several episodes of Highlander, the TV series, 1997)

2. Borodin (Sam Neill in The Hunt For Red October, 1990)

3. Messala (Stephen Boyd, Ben-Hur, 1959)

4. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981)

5. James Bond (Sean Connery)

6. Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow, Combat! TV series 1962-1967))

7. Tonto (Johnny Depp, The Lone Ranger, 2013)

8. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, The Phantom Menace, 1999)

9.  Ken Hutchinson (David Soul, Starsky & Hutch TV series, 1975-1979)

10.   Agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton, Agents of SHIELD TV series, 2014)

Interestingly, most of the fictional women who influenced me were in operas (and books), not movies or television.  Although opera pre-dates movies and television for me, so perhaps that's no surprise.  Long before I was allowed to watch a James Bond movie, there was opera.  So, to balance this list out slightly, (and since my favorite visual version of this opera is actually a film from 1976), I'm adding on Floria Tosca.  Here was a woman who needed no rescuing, and she remains my all-time favorite, and most influential, woman character of all time.

Floria Tosca (Raina Kabaivanska) and Mario Cavaradossi (Placido Domingo)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Middle-Earth wall deco

So, to finish out the Middle-Earth Movie Meme, here's a couple pictures of one wall of my living room, where all things Middle-Earth related currently hang.  Click on the pics to make them larger.

Posters from my two favorite Middle-Earth movies on the right, which I already posted close ups of over here...

My " no admittance except on party business" sign above my bedroom door...

And over my DVD/CD shelves, my Thorin and Gandalf quotes on either side of my ME location pictures.

I have eight ME location pictures, which were supposed to go in that slot between the quotes... but as you can see, it's not actually a big enough space to put two rows of four pictures!  Woops.  I kind of seriously miscalculated that.  I was forced to pick three out of the eight.  Which sucked, because I love all eight pictures, but nothing for it.  So, I ended up choosing my three favorites visually: Erebor, Rivendell, and Mordor.  They also coincidentally match the quotes, with Rivendell being the bridge between the movies, as it figures prominently in both trilogies.

Edited to add a pic of all the other available location pics.  They're all so cool!  The other ones I have besides Mordor, Rivendell, and Erebor are the Shire, Isengard, Minas Tirith, Mirkwood, and Rohan.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The "Just a List of Random Questions" Tag

Hamlette tagged me for this one.  Here goes!

The rules for the tag are:
~ Paste the button onto your blog post.
~ Leave a new list of questions (or just pass on the question list you answered) and tag a few people of your random choice (and say why you tagged them, if you have time!) (Be original and nonsensical in your question-creativity - make the blogging world a cheerful place :-) And be disastrously random.

Now for the fun...

~Write down three facts about you - one of them is WRONG. Let your commenters guess in the comments which one is wrong (and tell them in the comments after a while)
~Answer the questions of the person who tagged you - make it all super random and interesting :-D

 Three facts about me:
1. I've climbed to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite
2. I've skiied and snowboarded
3. I've gone paragliding

Favorite role from your favorite actor?  I’ve answered this before, so to not be boring and repetitive, I'm going with my current favorite actor, rather than my long-held favorite.  And that would be Richard Armitage.  Favorite role would have to be Thorin from the Hobbit movies, but Harry Kennedy (from The Vicar of Dibley) might be a close second for the sheer quantity of heart-stopping smiles and the discussion re: falling into debt.

Favorite role from your favorite actress?  And again not to repeat, I'll go with current era instead of classic, though that means I don't truly have one.  To me, favorites are those actors whose work you seek out because you want to see them in more things.  I'm going to go with Famke Janssen, because I think she's fabulous, and I have watched movies just because she was in it.  Favorite role would be the first thing I saw her in, way back in the early 90's, which was "The Perfect Mate" episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  She made a really good episode great, and it's still in my top ten of that series.

Book you've read that you tell people not to bother reading?   None.  Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it.

A food you refuse to try?  Tripe.  Well, offal of any kind... just, no.

Your favorite article of clothing?  Right now?  Probably my Battle of the Five Armies sweatshirt, just because it is so soft and comfortable, and it's still cool enough in the mornings and evenings to wear it.

Have you ever gone to see the same movie in the theater more than once?  Many, many, many times.  And will do so many, many, many times in the future. Repeat viewings are one of the great joys in life.

Do you paint your toenails?  Not usually.  Only if someone talks me into it.

Do you wear any piece of jewelry every day?  I never take my jewelry off!!  If it’s not something I can leave on 24/7, it’s not something I will wear.  (Although, I do own a couple of shiny bracelets I wear only to the opera.)  So, right now, I’ve always got on my Evenstar necklace, my small hoop earrings, two bracelets (a leather braided one and a wristband with a quote), and a ring.  And yes, I wear them all to bed and in the shower, including the leather bracelet. 

Are you on Pinterest?  No.

Do you collect anything?  Seriously collect?  Like go actively hunting for stuff for my collection of X?  No.  But I buy a lot of what I love.  So, soundtrack and operas CDs, and movie stuff from movies I love. 

Have you ever asked a famous person for their autograph?  Yes, but only at venues (conventions, stage back-doors) where they would expect such a request, not if I run into someone cool just out and about.  That's their private time, and I respect that.

Have you been outside the country you were born in?
  Sure.  Mexico and Canada, and most recently, Australia.


I'm not going to tag anybody, cuz it looks like most of the people I know who would answer have already been tagged, but if you feel like playing along, here are some random questions!

My list of questions:

What's your favorite place to go for a walk/hike?
What kind/color pen do you prefer to use?
What's your favorite event in the Winter Olympics?
What decorations are on your keychain?
If you're in place you've never been, do you prefer a map or a GPS or asking for help to find your way?
Did you have a piggy bank growing up?
What's the second-to-last movie you watched?
Can you hula hoop?
What's the coolest theme park you've visited?
If you could be any mythical creature, what would you choose to be?
What's your favorite movie that has a wedding in it?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

MEMM - Day 28 - Favorite Middle Earth-related item(s) you own

All of it!  Or I wouldn’t have bought it to begin with.  LOL.  I’ve very fond of movie stuff.  My house is filled with movie merchandise, from posters to action figures, to t-shirts and sweatshirts, to jewelry, to magnets and tote bags and luggage tags, to wristbands and license plate holders for my car with choice quotes, to simple pads of paper and pens... if it’s in my house, it’s a good bet it’s got something to do with one of my favorite movies.

Let’s see, though.  Favorite?  Probably my Aragorn necklace (Evenstar) that I never take off.  I would feel naked without it around my neck.

And I love my Fellowship poster of the Argonath that has been on my wall since 2001.  I just had my poster for Battle framed, so both sets of movies are now represented on my wall.

And I love my two framed quotes (one Gandalf, one Thorin).  I'll post a picture of those later, as I need one more thing framed to complete that area.  But it's really cool.

I’m also extremely fond of my hair beads.  I am a braid-a-holic.  I’m always braiding parts of my hair.  Not all of it.  I look better with my hair down, but I cannot stand hair in my eyes.  So, braids are perfect.  I can braid just enough to get it out of my eyes or add accents.  I used to wear a lot of Herger braids (from The 13th Warrior).  Or now, I do a lot of dwarvish braids.  Sometimes elvish braids, but my hair is thick and wavy, so dwarf style braids work much better in it.  And where it’s easy to fishtail someone else’s hair, it’s not so easy to do your own, at least not neatly.  And finishing off a braid with a bead just makes them so much better than just having a mere rubberband at the end. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

MEMM - Day 27 - Favorite end song

Is there any doubt?  "The Last Goodbye."

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

MEMM - Day 26 - Favorite one-on-one fight

Boy, these movies are filled with great one-on-one fights.  From Saruman/Gandalf, to Sam/Shelob, to Frodo/Gollum, and all the fights in-between, there are many very satisfying confrontations.  Before The Battle of the Five Armies came out, my answer would have been Aragorn/Lurtz from the end of Fellowship.  But Battle did come out out, and now, of course, my favorite one-on-one fight is Thorin/Azog.

This is also a nice long showdown, for once.  And when they finally get out on the ice, alone, it just gets even more satisfying, right down to the conclusion. This one-on-one fight makes me very happy to watch.

Monday, April 06, 2015

MEMM - Day 25 - Characters you wish you liked more

Eowyn. Which is a bit of a cheat, as it is really Miranda Otto I wish I liked more, not Eowyn.  But there are only a precious few moments in the movies where I see flashes of the Eowyn I loved from the books in Miranda Otto's portrayal.  The rest of the time, movie Eowyn is whiny and bug-eyed, and every time she’s on screen, she makes me roll my eyes and want to fast-forward.  This is one of the few examples in the Middle-Earth movies of my own long-held expectations not being met or exceeded.

So, I wish I liked Miranda Otto more in the role because she makes me not like this version of Eowyn, and Eowyn's my second favorite character in Return of the King novel, so I find that disappointing.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

MEMM - Day 24 - Favorite moment/line in The Battle of the Five Armies

Well, now.  All of it.  I’m not being facetious, either.  When trying to answer this question, I realized this movie joins a very select set of movies where I love every part of the movie so much, it is simply impossible to pick a single favorite moment.  From the opening logo to the end credits, I love it all.  I have very clear favorite moments in the other five Middle-Earth movies, moments I wait for, moments I don’t want to miss.  But in this one?  The whole movie is a series of constant favorite moments.  If I start trying to name favorite moments, I promptly override myself with each subsequent moment.  It is simply impossible to pick one in a movie this perfect and wonderful.

The other movies that are in this rare category are, very interestingly, also movies with large casts!  I don’t think that’s coincidence, but I’m not sure what the significance is, either.  They are also all action movies where favorite characters die, and they are all very funny, though none is a comedy.  The other two are:

The Dirty Dozen
The 13th Warrior

And now, added to that list:
The Battle of the Five Armies

Those three movies are so fabulous, from start to finish, that I have no single favorite part that I wait for.  There is not one thing I would change in any of them.  I love everyone in the cast, from the leads, to the characters with only a couple of lines, I love every line of dialogue, every action sequence, every note of the scores, even every death.  I am simply not able to pick a favorite moment from any of these.  Each is one magnificent, perfect ride.  My sister shares this, and these are also the only three movies she cannot choose a favorite moment from either.  Part of why these particular three are impossible to pick a favorite moment from is the bond she and I share over them.  These are “our” movies.  The ones we quote constantly to each other.  A single line of dialogue from any of these has more meaning and history and shared love than any other movie.  We share the same sense of humor, so we laugh at all the same moments (many of which no one else would find funny).  And we can still talk for hours and hours about any of these movies with each other, at the drop of a hat, even though you think we'd have talked about everything there could possibly be to say by this point (particularly on the two older movies).

These three movies are, of course, at the top of my personal movie favorites.

Friday, April 03, 2015

MEMM - Day 23 - The Hobbit character you understand the least

That would be Gandalf. 

I don’t get Gandalf in the Hobbit movies.  Gandalf seems such a meddler in this trilogy.  I mean what is he thinking?  There’s a dragon sleeping in Erebor that needs to be taken care of ere it joins the growing forces of darkness.  Let’s send thirteen dwarves and select a poor hobbit who’s happily minding his own business and send them in to face it.  Sure Thorin is rightful King under the Mountain, so maybe we can kill two birds with one stone and reclaim the arkenstone and reunite the dwarf kingdoms at the same time we dispose of the dragon -- but dude... what if they fail and all you do is feed him and his company to a psychotic dragon who would then be awake and ready to terrorize more than just Lake-town?  And Gandalf also knows full well what happened to Thror, and he knows Thorin’s going to be in trouble with dragon sickness, but he just sort of keeps ignoring that, even when people like Elrond keep reminding him of it.

Really, Gandalf is like his own self-fulfilling prophecy.  "I suspect we're going to have trouble with the dragon, let's go do something about it, oh, look, we not only have trouble with the dragon, but now we've got orc armies and Sauron to deal with."  He propels events into action, forces the orcs to attack Thorin's company, forces Sauron to appear.  He fails to meet the dwarves so they end up facing the dragon alone and Lake-town gets toasted.  He’s quite meddlesome and bossy in this trilogy, and it seems everyone survives the last movie's events despite him, not because of him. 

I do not have these issues with Gandalf in LotR.  He is neither bossy nor meddlesome there.  He’s very protective of everyone and Middle-Earth itself (though he still fails to show up when needed... bad habit of his).  But in Hobbit??   Gandalf is very fishy in the Hobbit.

Where in LotR, he answers everyone's questions honestly even when they won't like the answer:  "I would not take the road to Moria unless I had no other choice."  And he lets others make decisions: "Let the ringbearer decide" -- which includes a healthy measure of Frodo trust right there. In Hobbit, on the other hand, he is secretive, he flat-out ignores Thorin's questions if he knows Thorin won't like the answer, and Bilbo isn't given nearly the trust that Frodo is.  It's quite a different Gandalf!  I like to think he simply learned his lessons from his time with Thorin's Company , and when it's time to guide Frodo and the Fellowship, he has a much better understanding of how to deal with Hobbits and quests in general.  Because that makes sense to me.

He also has the creepiest last line to Bilbo.  Granted, Bilbo has outright lied to him for the first time, but still.

“You’re a very fine person, Mr. Baggins.  And I’m very fond of you.  But you are only quite a little fellow, in a wide world, after all.”  

And the way his smile vanishes the minute Bilbo turns his back.  Gahhhh!  My sister and I looked at each other after that moment, and both of us shivered.  Thank goodness we get back to Hobbiton and end with old Bilbo and a much less intimidating Gandalf, or I would have been permanently wigged out by our dear wizard.  That parting of Bilbo and Gandalf in the woods at the Shire border at the end of The Battle of the Five Armies remains the part of all six movies that creeps me out the most.  Never get on a wizard's bad side!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

MEMM - Day 22 - Costume you most want to wear

Well, this is an easy one.  While I admire most of the costumes, I wouldn't actually enjoy wearing most of them.  (Though I wouldn't mind stealing pieces of various costumes!)  Boromir's outfit may be my favorite, but it's too heavy and confining.  And I wouldn't wear a dress unless forced to.  The outfit has to be practical, not too hot or cold, comfortable, and allow me full movement for running and walking about.  Which really leaves me with Aragorn's Strider outfit.

It's got layers, which is the key to comfortable clothes!  Take that jacket off when it gets hot, roll up the sleeves, add a cloak when it gets cold.  It is perfect, and I can't think of any other outfit in all the movies I would be as comfortable wearing daily as this one.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MEMM - Day 21 - Favorite couple

Kili and Tauriel.


I am very fond of defiant romances.  These two defy their own races’ prejudices, their own individual expectations, and they also defy the movie goers who complain “but it didn’t happen in the book,” etc.  Good for Kili and Tauriel!  I personally love these two.  He’s handsome, she’s beautiful, they’re both so very young and impetuous and wide-eyed about life... why wouldn’t they fall for each other?  I love how they just open up to each other immediately, start telling and listening to each other's stories, how simple it is for them to start sharing things, even when one is technically a prisoner.  They don't care and they waste no time. Their limited time together is delightful.  They make me grin, which I can’t say for any other couple in Middle-Earth (well, except for Celeborn and Galadriel, but that’s naught to do with the two of them and is only because Marton’s on screen.  I’m always grinning if he’s around.)

I also admit, I am very fond of tragic romances.  Hey, what can I say?  My first bondings with fictional characters in life were in opera and, while there are plenty of comedies and operas with happy endings, the majority I grew up did not end well for one or both lovers.  Didn't stop me from loving the characteres, in fact, I just loved them all the more because their time together was limited.  Also, my first Shakespeare experience was Romeo & Juliet, and that was a Profound Experience on my youthful, unsuspecting life, let me tell you.  One of those moments in life so strong that the emotional impact has never faded.  (Hm, randomly, I just realized I have exactly three novels with where the romance ends well.  Out of nine.  Um... yeah.)

So, yeah, I love Kili and Tauriel. I love that they don’t end happily, but they make the most of their time together.  Their whole doomed romance just resonates for me.