Girl Asleep (2015)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 07:32 pm
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[personal profile] alexxkay

Girl Asleep is a delightful recent entry in the sub genre “girl on the cusp of womanhood who is confused by her changing life (and body) and learns to deal with it via a fantasy universe”, like Labyrinth and Mirror Mask. (I’m sure there must be more examples, but I’m having difficulty recalling them. Anyone want to add to the list?)

This particular girl, Greta, is growing up in Australia in the late 1970s. This is, in itself, more than a little fantastical, and the boundaries between the real and the visionary remain porous throughout the film. (I particularly liked the “integrated captions” for the scene changes, such as focusing on a bucket of fried chicken with a logo on the side reading “later that day”.) Her mother means well, but doesn’t understand her introvert daughter. Her father is little better, and over indulges in dad jokes (and an impressively 70s ‘stache). Her older sister is clearly thinking about moving out and has a dangerously sexy boyfriend. The family has moved to a new town, so Greta has to deal with the new school and all that entails. The only kid at school who seems to want to be friends with her is incredibly dorky (and adorbs). But a gang of archetypical “mean girls” also offers her membership – with unclear but intimidating strings attached. And then mom takes it into her head to invite all her little classmates to Greta’s 15th birthday party. The horror, the horror!

The party starts out okay, but piles stress upon stress until either reality or sanity fractures (there’s enough ambiguity that you may have your pick). Greta becomes lost in the woods, which are inhabited by wonders, but also by Big Bad Wolves. (And a friendly huldra. Don’t see too many of them around…) It all comes to a head in a climactic battle that I was quite charmed by, alternating seamlessly between hair pulling and pillow fights on the one hand, and advanced martial arts movie moves on the other.

The story had its genesis as a stage play, but the film fully embraces the possibilities of its new medium. While the film doesn’t seem to have a huge budget, it used that budget to excellent effect, creating many beautiful and memorable images. What I think it brings most from the stage is a “theatrical” sensibility, where the creative staff are willing to trust the audience’s suspension of disbelief, presenting images that work on multiple levels simultaneously, and respecting the audience’s ability to interpret. Both Kestrell and I were reminded of the excellent work of Lifeline Theater in Chicago.

It’s available on DVD and on Amazon video. Highly recommended.

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[personal profile] mermaidlady
1. Barre Class: I love Pure Barre, but between working downtown and rehearsing in Cambridge it's difficult to get to Brookline for a class. I just discovered a Bar Method studio two blocks from my office. And they have showers there, so I could take a lunchtime class. Also, their monthly membership is much cheaper than PB. But I still have a bunch of classes on my Pure Barre account. They're good for *five* years and a new studio is going to open in Harvard Sq., with the same owner as the Brookline one. I think they'll let me transfer my account and then I'll go there before rehearsals.

2. Easy fixes: I got a dunning notice form the MA Department of Revenue yesterday, saying that I hadn't paid my taxes. Which is of course absurd. Have you met me? I checked my bank records and there was the canceled check. I called this morning and the situation was remedied in 5 minutes. They had filed my payment under 2017. I was all set to get belligerent, but fortunately that was unnecessary.

3. New water heater: We now have a tankless water heater. It's so small! There's so much more room over by the laundry area. It does take a while to get hot water to the third floor, but we'll never have to worry about running out (or the tank failing) again.

4. Working from home: I work from home once or twice a week now. Some things are harder to do because I'm working on a PC remotely through a Mac and my home "office" isn't actually set up for all day working. On the other hand, I can do laundry, make a really nice lunch, maybe run out to the gym, snuggle with Albert, sit around all day in a big soft t-shirt, and still get all my work done.

5. Organization: The corner cabinet in our pantry was a mess. My baking supplies were in there as well as some junk and apparently some mice from time to time. Things were hard to find and inefficiently stored. Also, I hated my flour canister. It's supposed to be sealed, but the gasket always falls off the lid into the flour.

The other day I hauled everything out. I scrubbed the cabinet (can't find where the mice get in though). I bought some great containers for sugar and flour (and will probably get more. Yay, Prime). Reorganized everything. All the baking supplies I rarely use are now in the basement -- equipment in a box, oddball flours in the freezer. I just need to get another storage box for the empty tins, which should also live in the basement until needed and figure out where my enormous cake topper mold goes.

Bonus: Albert. He's just the best.

Knightriders

Jul. 17th, 2017 10:30 am
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[personal profile] jducoeur

In the news today are a bunch of obits for director George Romero. Pretty much all of them focus on Night of the Living Dead, and to be fair, it's the work he is best known for.

But let's pause a moment and remember his movie Knightriders -- the closest thing the SCA has to its own motion picture. Legend (maybe true, maybe not; I honestly don't know) has it that Romero happened to attend a particular SCA Crown Tournament, and was swept up by the drama he saw there; his producers weren't thrilled by the idea, and said, "Enh -- maybe if you add motorcycles and a good soundtrack, we'll think about it". So he did.

Knightriders has always been on my personal list of Movies Every SCAdian should see. Not because the club portrayed is the SCA, mind. It very much isn't: it's essentially a traveling RenFaire where they joust on motorcycles. But the feel of the group, I've always thought, reflects the SCA beautifully. You have the folks who are dead-serious about The Dream, who see something better in the ideals of their club. You have the stick-jocks who are here for the sport and the babes. You have the craftsmen who are making it all possible, and, yes, you have the folks who are just here to party. (There's even poor Patricia Tallman, better known for Babylon 5, in her first major role as the token mundane who is enamored by the whole thing but doesn't quite seem to get it.)

The movie gets a bit full of itself at times, and some people mock it mercilessly, but I love it -- not least for Ed Harris (in my favorite of his roles) as King Billy, who is trying desperately to keep his people both safe and united, and to pursue his dreams while everything around him is falling apart. He is a wonderful study in obsession, illustrating both the advantages and problems of having a strong leader.

If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's not the most brilliant movie ever, but it's wonderfully human. For pretty much every character in it, I can say, "Yeah, I know folks just like that". That's one of the higher compliments I can pay a director...

Cookbook #121: Gruel Intentions

Jul. 17th, 2017 07:27 am
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[personal profile] mermaidlady
Gruel Intentions, Mysterious Package Company (2017).

"The #1 Gruel Cookbook in the World!" What?

I subscribe to The Mysterious Package Company's "newsletter", Curios & Conundrums. The first one this year, Gods of Madness was on a Victorian theme and included, amongst other oddities, this small cookbook (10 recipes). It sounds like joke, but the recipes, all grain or legume-based porridges, beverages, soups, &c., all sounded really good and the photos were quite appetizing.

I made Victorian Restorative Gruel.

Cook steel-cut oats in beef stock and a little sherry. Meanwhile, cook chopped bacon until crispy and then brown chopped onions in the bacon fat. Add to the oats. When the oats are soft, take off heat. Whisk together a spoonful of molasses and a whole egg. Add to the oats and let sit under cover 10 minutes. Thin with a little boiling water.

It is SO good! Savory and creamy and hearty. Kind of like oat risotto.

photo )

I'm eager to try some of the other recipes, like Atole (Mexican cornmeal drink), Pig's Foot Congee (Chinese rice porridge) and Pootjes Pup (Dutch noodle pudding). I also have another MPC cookbook on the docket -- How to Poison Your Friends, which was part of the paranoia-themed issue.

121/130, 7 this year, 9 left to go!

100 Demon Dialogues

Jul. 12th, 2017 01:19 pm
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[personal profile] jducoeur

For the past several months, Lucy Bellwood (author of the delightful nautical graphic novel Baggywrinkles: A Lubber's Guide to Life at Sea) has been posting a series of single-panel comics titled 100 Demon Dialogues. You can find the full series here.

They are little vignettes of conversation between herself and her inner demon, a personification of all the insecurities and doubts that any creative person (really, any person) is prone to. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, frequently thought-provoking, they're one of the better reflections of basic inner life that I've seen.

The series ended today, and the much-demanded Kickstarter opened at the same time. She's collecting the cartoons into a book (both soft and hardcover), and producing a plushie little demon.

There's a fun little cartoon on the Kickstarter page that introduces the project. I'm getting both the book and plushie -- frankly, I had decided that I wanted the collected book even before she announced that she was going to do a Kickstarter for it. I want it for my own personal reflection, but I suspect it may also be an good book for helping kids work through their feelings and understand that grown-ups aren't as secure as all that, so parents may particularly want to give it a look.

Check it out, and spread the word: it looks like it's going to be a great result, from a fine artist who is really hitting her stride...

Bits & Pieces

Jul. 12th, 2017 08:35 am
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[personal profile] mermaidlady
The sour cherry harvest continues. It was latish this year and the yield has not been fabulous. Smaller cherries than usual too. At least I've got 3 jars of jam so far. We've also had Hungarian cherry pastry and sour cherry soup, the usual cherry flamingo and clafoutis, although this year I used a recipe from the Orient Express.
***

Our hot water heater died Sunday afternoon. Because of weirdness at our house, cutting the inflow to the tank (it was leaking) cut off all the water to the 3rd floor and to the shower on the second floor. That was fun too. Fortunately we have gym memberships and could go shower there.

We've decided to go tankless. It's very expensive, but I think it will be worth it. I don't know when they're going to be able to install it, but we've got a temporary heater in place, so I could take a shower at home yesterday!
***

I succumbed to Prime Day and bought a Paperwhite (upgrading from my keyboard Kindle). I had a bunch of gift card credit, so it was a gift to myself. I'm going to miss the page turn buttons, but I'm looking forward to the built-in reading light. I was a reluctant convert to the e-reader, but I really adore being able to have so many books at hand, especially when traveling.
***

Speaking of books, I got an ARC of Black Tudors through LibraryThing. It's been a while since I read any 16th century history and I'm enjoying it so far.
***

Albert? Well, he's the Albertiest.
jducoeur: (Default)
[personal profile] jducoeur

Okay, yes -- complaining about how creepy Facebook can be is shooting fish in a barrel.

Still, I was taken aback by the notification I just got there. Un-asked-for, it popped up with, "You last updated your profile 2 weeks ago." Which, on the one hand, is just a statement of fact. But it's a statement loaded with connotation.

Seriously -- why is Facebook telling me this? When I have something I care to say on my Profile, I say it. I don't need reminders -- I certainly don't need automatic, non-opt-in reminders after only two weeks of profile inactivity. And mind you, this isn't saying "you haven't posted" -- I post to FB moderately often. This is saying that I haven't revealed new and updated information about myself.

There's a weird sense that FB is trying to guilt-trip me for not being sufficiently naked: that the system and the audience have the right to know everything that happens in my life, and that if a whole two weeks have gone by without updating my profile, something is clearly wrong.

Yes, it's a little thing. But it's the combination of all those little things that remind me of why I dislike and distrust Facebook...

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[personal profile] yendi
Amazon's got its annual Prime Day going on now (with deals only for Prime members, although I suspect most folks using Amazon regularly fit the bill), and for the most part, it's better than in previous years, but not the national holiday they want it to be. That said, a lot of the hot deals went right away, and there's a ton of stuff to sort through and some hella bad site design, and I can't pretend to be as excited about most of the options as I'd like (but do look in any category that might appeal to you, as there really is stuff site-wide).

A few key pieces of wheat amongst the chaff:

The big one is getting $5 off $15 worth of books using the PRIMEBOOKS17 code. Since that stacks with any Prime Day book deals already, it's really solid. Good deals at the second link include a bunch of Scalzi, lots of YA and cooking options, and a bunch of the Dummies series.

The Echo Dot is down to $34.99 ($15 off).

The 8-quart Instant Pot is down to $89.99, making it $10 cheaper than the 6-quart model that I have, and the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker is $31.99 (47% off and about $30 below other deals).

I've never gotten the appeal of Dash Buttons, but at $.99 a pop (with a $4.99 credit after you place your first order), that's a solid deal.

And finally, if you buy a $25 Amazon Gift Card (even one for yourself), you can snag a $5 Promotional Credit. That's basically free money if you're going to keep buying stuff on Amazon. Note that the promo credit (unlike the gift card) expires at the end of August.
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