S Is For Starstruck

While I admire many people in the creative arts, there are only two at the moment in who’s presence I would turn into a starstruck fan girl, should I ever had the good fortune to meet them. Mainly because I admire them further then just the creative endevour of their many accomplishments, but also as people, with a depth, and character qualities that I think of as high in value.

One of these people is probably not surprisingly Joss Whedon. As a creative artist, he has accomplished much, sometimes despite of what others might have thought. Perserverance has brought forth some of the most highly acclaimed television shows and movies. But beyond that, he has shown a care for others, specifically for women’s equality causes, which has earned him my admiration. Let me share as an example his “Equality Now” speech with you:

 

The second person I want to write about is Jared Leto. While his music through Thirty Seconds of Mars is widely acclaimed, and I am surely a fan of his songs as well as his acting skills, it is his thoughtfulness for his family and his dedication to both venues he chooses to express himself in, that inspires me the most. His documentary “Artifact” showing a deeper look into the music industry and how artists struggle to get fairly compensated for their art – fighting at times both ends, the labels who are obviously into making profit, and those who illegally download and share the hard work of the artists.

Here is the trailer:

It is currently available through itunes and Amazon, watch it, even more so if you are thinking about working with or in the music industry.

 

 

 

R Is For Retrospect

18th post for the A to Z Challenge! And what a challenge it has been so far!

I am using this opportunity to retrospect on the lessons learned from this marathon of blog posts, some of which are positive, others not so.

I shall begin with the positive:

  1. Connecting – How wonderful it is to meet so many new people, bloggers from many different backgrounds and blogging themes, all united in this challenge! I appreciate every one of you, those whom I met only briefly as well as those whom I had more intense conversations with. This is absolutely my favorite part of this blogging challenge, and the reason I will try to be back for next years adventure.
  2. New followers: I have gained quiet a few new followers, and I am so thankful for those of you, who chose to follow this blog over the last few weeks and days. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
  3. Perserverance – There were sure moments where I wanted to stop, either because of all the other obligations that have to be done, no matter what, or because some letters where more difficult then others, specifically when I am trying to stick with the theme of film, television and books. But I did it anyway, and will finish all the way through to Z.

Lessons I learned along the way:

  1. Planning ahead – I am usually a rather impulsive blogger, I tend to write whatever exites me at the moment in the world of cinema, television, or what has just arrived on my shelf to be reviewed, but I have come to see the benefits of planning ahead, specifically when a blog theme is a part of the challenge. It is a lot harder to stick with the set theme in this A to Z framework then I originally thought.
  2. Set a word count limit – these are blog posts, not a novel, so instead of posting longer entries, I found that shorter blog posts are a better fit for challenges like this one.
  3. Limit blog surfing time – it is so easy to get caught up in the wonderful and large amount of blogs out there that participate in these challenges, but it is impossible to read all of them – I tried, well not all, but it is easy to get lost in the sheer amount of participants. Limiting the time or amount of blogs to visit each day is a really good idea.

Overall I am glad I participated in the challenge. While I have no idea what next year will bring, and what my schedule will be like then, I will at least consider participating again.

What did you learn from this challenge? What did you enjoy? What did you dislike the most?

Q Is For Quotes

Quotes inspire us, uplift us, make us think, and allow us to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Quotes from those who we consider people that inspire us, can also give us the strength to move through our own trials toward our goals, take that extra step required, and not give up on our dreams.

Let me share some of these quotes with you, some related to film-making and writing, others more universal.

My three Ps: passion, patience, perseverance. You have to do this if you’ve got to be a filmmaker. – Robert Wise

What I always tell people is… Unless you are so passionate about filmmaking that you would rather live out of your car than not do it,find something else to do as a career and do filmmaking as a hobby. This industry is one of the hardest to break into and be successful. It takes a lot of passion and dedication for it to get anywhere – Ryan Connolly

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time – Jack London

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dreams. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream. – Lao Tzu

P Is For Pieces

Picking up the pieces of the few things I have encountered through the week, starting with the letter P

1. Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim Review

The movie started promising, I was pretty exited about the visual effects and the intro part of the movie – the world coming together to safe itself. What a wonderful concept. And then it fell apart for me. Love the three main characters of the movie – the experienced warrior Raleigh Becket, who lost his brother in battle, the  man in charge, Stacker Pentecost played by Idris Elba, and the inexperienced but enthusiastic rookie Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi.

The rest of the cast was less then impressive, giving the movie an old school over the top cartoonish feel, and not in a good way. I got bored half way through, not caring much about the fate of anyone else but the above mentioned three, which let me to pause the movie often, and get back to it later.  I hope the rumors of the creation of a possible part 2 are wrong. There are many beautifully crafted screenplays out there, that would do better with the studios time and money.

2. Person of Interest

Person of Interest - Review

The show I go to when there is nothing better on Television and I am bored. It has enough action scenes to keep the individual episodes interesting, and the thread that holds the entire thing together is unique enough to wonder about what what could happen next. But the individuals rescued and or hunted each week are predictable to the point of painful, their reactions rarely arising because of who they are, rather following a certain non-cooperation, no matter how rational a different responds would be. Too much formula, too predictable to be my favorite, but if I had a choice to watch this show and one of the really horrible comedies on TV right now (with the exception of Big Bang Theory), I would tackle Person of Interest.

3. Predictable Books

A few books that are currently on my reading list to be reviewed, have been stricken off it before I got to the half way point. There are two predictable points that usually are signs that the book is going to go bad right from the start

  • First person – unless you are really, really good at it (Megan Hart’s “Beneath The Veil” is one example of a masterful story told in first person), it usually falls flat. It is a lot more difficult to create a story from this point of few, so I urge authors to reconsider the use of it – and I beg you, do not follow the “50 Shades of Grey” idea of first person, present tense – that is just wrong.
  • Taking too long to get to the meat of the story – I have usually 5 books every week to read, that does not include homeschool lessons, short stories, blog posts and editing my own junk, so if a book does not hook me in the first few pages, I toss it. I am sorry, that makes me a bad reviewer in some peoples eyes, but I just don’t have the time for boring.

Now, I am going to try to find some peace and quiet, despite the fact that it is Friday, which means is Lawn Crew day in our condo complex – my dog usually barks most of the morning till late afternoon, at the intruders, who trim our small garden space, and rake the many leaves our oak tree filled grounds bring forth on a regular basis.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Book Review: The Crochet Workbook by Silvia Kosh and James Walters

The Crochet Workbook

Title: The Crochet Workbook
Rating: 3.5/5
By: Silvia Kosh, James Walters
Release Date: March 19th, 2014
Publisher: Dover Publications
ISBN: 978-0-486-49621-4

The Crochet Workbook is a nicely illustrated book, that covers the most basic techniques to raised stitches, how to create classic bobbles, to the Solomon’s knot. From the beginner to those with more experience in crocheting, the Author took her time to describe each detail in understandable terms, including the terminology in both British and US versions of instructions.

The free-form chapter brings a creative approach to crochet, allowing the creator to “doodle”, a welcome difference to the traditional crochet techniques I was taught as a child. I am looking forward to exploring these techniques in the creating of a sweater, which could benefit from the unique free-form.
The pictures also include examples of shaped crochet, such as as a tea cup, and even a miniature tree, which show the potential of creative out of the box free-form.

The idea of mind-mapping transcends this form of craft, and could be used in other forms of needle work as well. What a wonderful idea to spark ones imagination, and get the creative juices flowing!

The only downside of this book, is in my opinion the very old school look and feel of the volume, that reminds me of the magazines my mother and grandmother used to create their craft experiments, rather then an updated book about crochet. Even some of the pictures seem to be taken out of that time, rather then fresh and new, while the illustrations are thorough.

If you are looking for a book that covers all of the basics, while leaving room for imagination and creativity, this book is worth your while, but there are more visually stimulating and updated volumes on the market, that have a more modern appeal. This book has been originally published in 1989, and apparently the images are from the original publication, which is a shame, because that is it’s only downfall, but to me is one of the deciding factor between the purchase of two books of the same subject.

O Is For On My “To Read And Review List”

My “To Read And Review List” has been growing since the beginning of the A to Z Challenge, so I wanted to share with you the books that I will be reviewing on this blog over the next few days/weeks (time permitting) – not necessarily in this order.

Street Fighter Origins: Akuma

 

1. Street Fighter Origins: Akuma

Release Date: April 4th 2014

 

Don't Let Go By Sharla Lovelace

 

2. Don’t Let Go by Sharla Lovelace

Release Date: April 15th,2014

Dinotopia: First Flight

3. Dinotopia: First Flight

Release Date: April 23, 2014

The Crochet Workbook

4. The Crochet Workbook

Release Date: March 19, 2014

Terminated by Ray Daniels

5. Terminated

Release Date:  August 8th, 2014

I am very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts about these books with you!

 

N Is For NCIS – Spinoff, After Spinoff, After Spinoff

I used to love watching JAG (yes, this post is about NCIS, bare with me, people). It was interesting, engaging, had likable characters, and mostly smart story lines, specifically if you compared it with what was on television at that time.  You don’t remember JAG? Let me give you a taste:

It’s spin-off NCIS was an absolute improvement though. Instead of focusing around two main characters who would dance around the fact that they were attracted to each other, despite trying to maintain a professional relationship, NCIS was less personal, yet relationship driven, a mix off well planned action with relate-able and deep characters, which never seemed flat, and all had enough of their own baggage, to make your head spin.

I am staying away from the whole switching the female character issue at this moment.

Then came it’s own spin-off. Unlike the improvement that brought the JAG to NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles never really got me as interested. Even after watching it a few times, it does not have the depth or flair of the main NCIS show. Worst for me is the person in charge of the team, Hetty Lange, who is supposed to have this long list of skill sets and knowledge that would make a person the size of L.L. Cool J envious, yet she barely reaches to his arm pit. She speaks too many languages while being a supposed great fighter, and marksman, all that while having lived in a time where women were rarely taken seriously, and even less if they were as tiny as she was ( she is 4’9″). Oh, and did I mention she is also a novelist?

The rest of the cast is better, and they do carry the show enough to make it interesting enough to watch it. The line-up – right after the main show most likely contributes to it’s high ratings, which is  a clever move on CBS’ part.

Here is a taste of NCIS – Los Angeles in action

But because that was not enough spin-off action apparently, we got another one. Let me introduce this falls “NCIS: New Orleans”

Scott Bakula will be in charge of this new twist on the NCIS family. So far we had an introduction to this aspect of the family during a two part episode of NCIS in March. My first impression was rather non-favorable. It overplayed the stereotypes of what people think of when they hear New Orleans, to the point that if it would not have been for Bakula, I would not have watched the second part. When it will appear in this falls line-up I am sure, I will be reporting on it, hoping it will be better then its introduction.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. NCIS might be touching on that boarder by creating another version of itself, watering down the quality of the shows, rather then having CBS focus on something new, exiting away from the formula. Instead keep on bringing the high quality we are used to for the main show.