Monday, May 21, 2012

Movie Review Monday - The Avengers

Wow. Just wow.
My IMAX Movie Ticket - Pricey But Worth It

As a comic book junkie since I was about seven years old, I was floored by the Avengers. 

I had high expectation because I'd heard good things, and my recommendations were all met. It highlighted the humanity of each hero, and each hero spent some time in the spotlight. On top of that, each hero had different amounts of time with all the other heroes. And there were not only some great action moments and combat scenes, as to be expected, but there were also some great comic moments.

So how could you possibly make this event even better?

See it at the IMAX. I'm not the biggest fan of 3D, but I'm a huge fan of the IMAX. 

In answer to your unasked question? No, you absolutely cannot wait until this movie comes out on video. This is a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen, IMAX big if you can swing it. You won't regret a single penny.

5.0 / 5.0

Cast list (courtesy of Wikipedia)

  • Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
  • Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Tunes Tuesday - Gangstagrass

So the posts will be somewhat sporadic this week, and possibly the following week as the school year comes to a close. But keeping me company on my busy days will be a new band that my Mom heard on a show called Justified (which also looks awesome).

I may be biased, because I do love genre-bending bands: Gangstagrass is all sorts of rap and bluegrassy goodness. Perhaps somewhat they have the same mix that draws me to the wondrousness that is Devil Makes Three.

Gangstagrass’ self-titled album

But Gangstagrass is seriously fantastic stuff, reminiscent of the successful genre blending, at least for me, found in Sublime and Michael Franti and Spearhead.

Here are some tunes to whet your appetite. 

Justified (TV show theme song): 

'Put Your Hands Up':

'Steel's Gonna' Be the Death of Me':

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Theo Thursday Pt. 17 - A Hasty Departure?

:: Unday Night, the 98th of Jhyel's Slumber ::
Five city watchmen poured past him into the large tavern's main room.  The fire that blazed in the mason fireplace illuminated the slick wet chain armor and drenched uniforms of the grim guards.

A stocky, powerful man, unkempt black hair and beard dancing in the strong winds, strode into the bar as if he owned it and, pointing a thick finger at the disguised Theo, bellowed "Seize the assassin!".

"So much for a disguise.  But by Casastan's good graces how did they *find* me?” grumbled Theo out loud to nobody in particular.

Still clutching the mug which held his cider, Theo threw the liquid into the face of the lean and wiry brown haired guard who was in the lead and simultaneously jumped a wild swing from a stocky blonde guard with a closely trimmed beard.  "A terrible waste of perfectly good cider, I apologize from the bottom of my soul, Bink."  Discretely dropping a folded note with his left hand, Theo pounded down with Kindle's hilt onto the helm of the thin guard.

"This isn't a performing circus, Girdin push up your helm!” screamed Corbin in a commanding and infuriated voice.  "Klynd cut the wretched scurry into quarters!  A hundred pieces of gold to the man who hands me his heart!"  Corbin's gaze crackled with malice as his eyes locked with Theo's.  The desperate scurry read hatred in Corbin's eyes as he almost felt the words "You *will* die!" cross the distance between them.  Wind whipped in through the open door, carrying sheets of rain into the wide doorway while lightning illuminated the dark frame of the Chief Advisor from behind with a halo of molten white.

"My, you certainly are a charming fellow.  You don't have to kill the king to gain power, the people would overthrow Orson just on the weight of your own special charisma,” grinned Theo with strained sarcasm as he threw the remains of the rag from Kindle.

Despite the wild thoughts that flew through Theo's head, his blood surged in his veins and he felt truly alive. 

But his mind swelled with theories of betrayal and thoughts of confusion.  Lizbeth, what of Lizbeth?  Could she be the one that told of Theo's plans to be at the Ancient Oak?  Is that why Corbin and his men were able to get here so quickly?  She seemed the soul of sincerity last night?

Cory?  No, it was impossible, he'd known Cory since before they'd been able to walk.  They were the closest of friends and he couldn't believe that he would mislead me, it would be like distrusting himself.

Theo heard the low strum of a crossbow bolt, and threw himself down behind the bar.  Theo looked up to see a quarrel quivering in a hogshead where Theo's head had been moments before.  Tearing off the remains of the old woman garb, Theo sprang for the end of the bar and the stairs which led to the second floor.

Bink, crouching low behind the bar, seemed extremely frazzled as he watched another quarrel sink into the wall beside Theo.  But apparently Bink was frozen by indecision, as he threw another anxious glance at the guards in front of the rough wooden planks of his bar.

"Granville, Merce, sink a quarrel into him!  For the love of Kyntous, put him down!” howled Corbin from the other end of the room.

Parrying a thrust from the stocky, blond haired guard, Klynd, Theo leapt from the end of the bar to the closest table.  Theo felt a quarrel graze along his side, leaving a trail of trickling blood.

"If you promise not to take me to prison, then I'll give you crossbow lessons,” cried Theo to the reloading crossbowmen. Jumping to the next table, Theo narrowly dodged a mighty overhanded swing from Klynd.  Apparently Girdin, having readjusted his helm, was rejoining the melee.

"Stay still you blasted squirrel!” growled Klynd, thunking his heavy sword into the table where Theo had been but wicks before.

"I'm going to make you into a hat for making me look the fool!,” replied Girdin to Theo's wildly frantic attempts at evasion.

Theo leapt again, and was able to place his foot on the first step which lead upstairs.  Unable to outrace the guards, Theo had to spin to meet them on the wide staircase.

"Don't worry men, there's enough of me to go around,” said Theo cheerfully.  Looking at both men, Theo knew even he couldn't defend against two trained swordsman, his only salvation was getting out of the situation all together.

Again hearing the low thrum of a crossbow, Theo tried to move and parry at the same time, but felt a hot pain in his right thigh as a quarrel sank deep into his leg.


Gritting his teeth, Theo pulled out a throwing knife, and proceeded to bury it in Klynd's foot, pinning it to the ground.               

"Errg.  You bastard,” yowled Klynd.

Theo barreled up the stairs, favoring his left leg.  He could feel the head of the quarrel shifting inside his leg, and the pain was excruciating as he ran.

"Get him you fools, he'll take to the roof!” shouted Corbin.

Pounding open the first door that he came to, Theo could hear that Girdin and possibly another guard were right behind him.  Theo looked out the window to the rain slicked cobblestones which stretched out before him, just as the room's door slammed open behind the cornered scurry...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wonderin' Wanderin' Wednesday - Parties

Thursday (5/3) was great because my friend Phil called! He was on his long commute home, and we kept on getting cut off, but it was still fantastic to talk with him. I told him we should make it a weekly thing. Next Thursday perhaps?

LED Origami Paper Lanterns
Friday (5/4) found us heading out to a cafĂ© to get some work down. I got some correcting done, and a wee bit of writing. Chika got some translating done.  With the 8th graders we made origami paper lanterns with LEDs, batteries and paper. Fun!  Cool!

Saturday (5/5) was a day of partying. One of my students celebrated her bat mitzvah and it was a beautiful ceremony, the first I’d ever been to. I even got a bit teary thinking of my little 7th graders taking this big ol’ step towards adulthood. That and the fact that she’s just a wonderful person, quirky and unafraid to speak her mind. Then I zipped down to a friend’s Cinco de Mayo get together down in Greenville to partake in wondrous food and discussion.

Nipo's New Kitty Door & the Cellar Beyond
On Sunday (5/6) we mostly worked around the house. I installed a cat door.  Nipo is still just okay with it, but she’ll groove on it before long. Slowly getting settled in and starting to dig through boxes.

Monday (5/7) I walked to school in the morning and, ummm, yeah. Maybe some other stuff that I don’t remember.

Tuesday (5/8) included a trip to see The Lucky One. Hmmm. Overall quite a forgettable movie. I’d chalk up to okay story, okay acting and abysmal editing and directing. I mean, I wasn’t expecting a lot, it was based on a Nicholas Sparks’ book, but it could have been a lot better. Look at The Notebook. Okay, a bit on the cheezy side perhaps, but I have to go out on a limb and proclaim it a really great movie.  

Summary?  Lucky One = bad, Notebook = good. 
On Wednesday (5/9), we drove around to a few thrift stores in an attempt to find some things for the house, but were unsuccessful. At school students are still working on the Big Picture and I think grooving on it.  Really seeing the connections between all the seemingly disparate elements in science. Yay! And Barack Obama made a stand that the LGBT should no longer be discriminated against. Huzzah!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Tunes Tuesday - Michael Penn vs. Great Lake Swimmers

I love the simple beauty and sadness of this Michael Penn song from the '90's. This is an acoustic version from when Penn was on the Letterman Show:

Penn's debut album, March:

A more recent song that brings to mind the same degree of longing, and perhaps a bit of the sadness that Penn's song evoked?  The Great Lake Swimmer's Rocky Spine:

Vote below on which song you like better and why!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Feline Friday - Caption Contest!

Who can post the best caption for this picture on my blog?

The first two that came to my mind?

Is that Elvis?

Do they serve margaritas in this joint or what?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Theo Thursday Pt. 16 - A Disturbance at the Sign of the Ancient Oak

:: Unday Night, the 98th of Jhyel's Slumber ::

Theo woke from a nightmare about treason accusations and horrid beasts, only to remember through the sleepy haze that that was the unfortunate reality.  He looked past the pooled and cold remains of the candle, as well as a fair number of wine bottles to see the sleeping form of Cory.
Theo, with a nudge of his foot, was rewarded with a change in Cory's gentle breathing pattern.  A push that would be considered a kick if it weren't between friends finally woke the sleeping scurry.

"What, did we run out of wine?” came Cory's sleepy and sarcastic voice.  Theo kicked and heard a muffled "oof" from beneath the blue, faded wool blankets.

"We have to figure out what we're going to do.  We need information, because right now we don't seem to have much.  My guess is that whoever is planning on assassinating the king is the one behind these false accusations.  We've made some influential enemies, we just have to find out who they are, or we're next to powerless.  Also, if they *know* that we have some information about the plot, they may hurry their plans ahead,” said Theo in an anxious, yet matter-of-fact voice.

"Isn't it possible that you just snubbed one too many scurry lass and that their powerful parents are now out to get you?” smirked Cory, who dodged Theo's right foot as it lashed out.  But Cory wasn't fast enough to dodge the right and was entangled in his blankets as he lost his balance.


"That is quite possibly the most intelligent thing I've heard out of you since I rescued you from Tisden Weald” laughed Theo, unable to contain his mirth, despite the incongruity of the remark.

*         *          *

Cory and Lizbeth were valiantly trying to hide their smiles, but were losing the battle.  Theo stood before them, dressed in a drab grey shift and was stooped over, leaning on Kindle, which was wrapped in rags and strips of random cloth.

"What are you laughing at you nasty children?” came the cracked and aged voice from beneath the dreary cloak.

This was unfortunately the deciding victory and both Lizbeth and Cory, unable to stand, fell to the floor with tears of laughter and aching ribs.  The sight of two scurries laughing so hard is funny indeed, and Theo, unable to contain himself, joined in their infectious laughter.

*         *          *

Theo, looking cautiously from beneath the brim of his cloak, spied the oak sign swinging wildly in the wind which whipped down the cobblestone street.

The Sign of the Ancient Oak was a wondrous sight indeed for Theo.  Few people were out on a night like this, despite the unseasonable lack of frigid temperatures.  Just as Theo cracked open the door, the first plump drops of cold rain began to fall.

"Ahhh” breathed Theo, as he pulled the wonderful tavern air into his lungs.

Losing himself momentarily in the delicious smells, Theo recovered and immediately scanned the patrons that were enjoying themselves this evening.  He looked about for someone who might be suspicious, anyone who might be a spy for the city watch.

Giving a quiet sigh of relief, Theo hobbled past the first line of rough hewn, but finely polished tables, past the well-used chairs and finally settled at a bar stool at the far end of the bar.

Due to the slow night, Bink came right over to the disguised Theo. 

"What can I get you young woman?” flattered Bink with a disarming smile and a twitch of his tail.

"A taste of your Bink's famous Oakleaf Cider would suit me just fine,” came the old, but equally flattering voice from the depths of the hood.

"Aaah, a taste for the cider.  It's likely to put dent's in your memory, so be sure to keep count of the number you're drinking,” said Bink, gobbling up the adulation as he poured the cider from the battered wooden hogshead behind the bar.

Placing the cider in front of Theo, Bink stuttered when the disguised scurry lifted the hem of his hood and winked.

"That'll cost you a ..."

"How are things Bink, miss me?"

"Theo!  You're wanted for treason!” Bink whispered harshly.

"Thank you Bink for reminding me of the painfully obvious, I did notice that a number of city watchmen had arranged a welcoming party for me upon my arrival.  And would it put you out to not draw *quite* so much attention to me?"

"Oh, sorry, sorry.  Where's my head.  Too much time has passed between tending bar and all my youthful adventures.  Enough about me though, what are *you* doing here?"

"I'm here for information.  There's a plot to kill the king, I can't explain it know, but it seems like the people who want the king dead have decided to throw a few extras into the bargain.  Seeing as I'm one of them, I'm not really excited about it.  I don't have long though, what news do you have?” continued Theo in a conspiratorial hush.

"By Phoshaina's tears, who would want to kill King Orson?  I really haven't heard much about your treason charges, except what you probably already know.  Saw is being held in the dungeon of the castle, along with some sort of metal construct.  There's a lot of talk about the man of metal."

"Yes, that's Tinker, but they're in good health?  They haven't melted him down?  And they haven't ... *hurt* Saw have they?” spoke Theo, raising his voice a bit over the noise as a few customers left and two entered.

"No, they're both hale and healthy, but who knows for how long.  As for you, Chief Advisor Corbin has offered a large reward for your life, he cares little if you're found dead or alive.  Apparently he'd prefer it if you're found dea..."

The sound of the door slamming open startled everyone in the bar, especially Bink, who seemed to almost jump out of his skin.  Theo whipped around at the noise, and immediately wished that he'd finished his cider.

Five city watchmen poured past him into the large tavern's main room.  The fire that blazed in the mason fireplace illuminated the slick wet chain armor and drenched uniforms of the grim guards.

A stocky, powerful man, unkempt black hair and beard dancing in the strong winds, strode into the bar as if he owned it and, pointing a thick finger at the disguised Theo, bellowed "Seize the assassin!"...  

Wonderin' Wanderin' Wednesday - Movin', Movin', Movin'

  • Thursday – 4/19 – Made candles in class with the students to review the phases of matter. They came out really well. Melted a lot of candles down in the crockpot. 

SDS Students @ the Cottonwood Nature Preserve
  • Friday – 4/20 –I’m a homeowner!!! Took a group of my students to the Cottonwood Trail Preserve to help clean up the area. Pull weeds, tidy some thoroughfares, etc.  Signed all the documents for the house closing. 

  • Saturday – 4/21 moving sale. I expected to make no money on the sale, but we actually made $50! Which we then promptly blew on a meal out at Ford’s Oyster House.
Yard Sale @ 30 Celand Street

  • Sunday – 4/22 – Started my critical response paper on Ender’s Game. Looooooove that book!

  • Tuesday – 4/24  -Spent a fair amount of time putting together The Ten Ten Ten Tranfusion, figuring out love songs from one main character to the other in my novel, ‘A Map to the Heart of London’, then posted the mix on my blog and on 8tracks.

  • Thursday – 4/26 – Began work on the Water Bottle Rockets with the 8th graders. Met up with Clay and Amanda at Barley’s for some science teacher catch up on what’s up with them and CHS.

  • Friday – 4/27 – Packing, packing, packing. Three hours of sleep getting ready for the move. Slept from 3:30am – 6:30am.

  • Saturday – 4/28 – We moved all day. Took the extremely helpful movers, Ken and Jim, out for dinner. John, who also helped us move, left early, but gave us a housewarming gift of a washer and dryer; extras that he had hanging around. Two of my 7th graders surprised me by mowing my lawn as a housewarming gift. Awesome!  Made my day, my week, maybe my month or more! Below?  First morning in the backyard of the new house!  :)

  • Sunday – 4/29 - Three hours of sleep getting MFA Packet #5 finished, the final packet of the semester

  • Monday – 4/30 – Turned in the final MFA packet of the semester. Also took care of various paperwork and schtuff, meal plan, housing document, etc. for the MFA residency. Realized that I wouldn’t be able to attend the Carolina High School graduation, which sucks. I’ll catch one of the rehearsals.

  • Tuesday – 5/1 - So busy I didn’t even remember the blog, never mind write the blog for Tuesday. I did walk home from school to the new house for the first time. I started listening to Haruki Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicles.

  • Wednesday – 5/2 – Walked to school in the morning. Recorded ideas for points and directions I wanted to take with A Map to the Heart of London. Fired off water bottle rockets with the 8th graders. Mixed results. Some awesome, some just flopped about like fish trying to fly. The record height was 119 meters (about 360 feet)!! Swamped at work. Staying at school until 6pm every day.  I feel like my head is going to explode and I have almost no downtime.  Rrargh!