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.

 

M Is For More Food – Book Review: Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food

Book Review: Vegan Comfort Food

Title: Quick And Easy Vegan Comfort Food: 65 Everyday Meal Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with Over 150 Great-Tasting, Down-Home Recipes

Author: Alicia C. Simpson

Publisher: The Experiment

Publication Year: 2009

ISBN: 978-1-61519-005-8
My daughter is vegetarian, I am not. With a large family that embodies the most different needs when it comes to each individuals diets, I need something to help me be creative. This book was my  hope bringing some light to the tunnel.

For the beginner in the vegan/vegetarian circus of food preparation, this book starts with an extensive section on common vegan ingredients and potential substitutes. Helpful little hints, such as what one can use as egg replacement, add to the value of this volume.

One of the most important aspects of a good cookbook, and even more so with a Vegan or Vegetarian one, is to see if I can get all of the ingredients at a normal supermarket, or at least an upscale market, such as Wholes Food, without having to hunt for every ingredient. In this case, I was happy say that it is possible to make these recipes at home – nothing drives me more crazy then to having to order something for our meals, and then wasting the rest, because it is needed in about 2 recipes, a pinch at a time.

With this more accessible recipe collection, it is uncomplicated to create healthy and great meals, which is important, in today’s busy lives.

Overall I recommend this book for anyone who wants to try to eat less meat and meat products, to a full time vegan who is looking for options.

Lost

Blog Quotes

Today’s Letter of the day is L – not last Saturday. Somehow I managed to skip over the letter K, which does not surprise me that much (even if it does slightly find me embarrassed), because of a turbulent weekend, laced with a headache, and a sprinkle of chaos. I am surprised I was able to write anything legible, even if it was the wrong letter.

Oh well, not much I can do about it now, besides trying to find a way of preventing this from happening. I don’t know how many of you plan your Challenge posts ahead, but I think this might be the time for me to do so. With of course the flexibility to throw out the plan completely again, and post something random, about a movie I just had to see unexpectedly, or a conversation that does not leave my head.

At least I will try.

Now that I am no longer lost in the limbo of letter confusion, I am getting this darn thing back on track, if it kills me – okay, I know it’s just blogging, but hey I like my blog, so I treat it like my baby, or at least a family member – a distant cousin maybe?

This random ramble will probably make you feel lost, so I am just going to stop, make some coffee and write something more promising for the next few days.

Hugs!

L Is For The Lone Ranger

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I was reluctant to watch this movie, because of its lack of box office success (175 million gross) and mediocre press, and the controversy that followed, with the producer, Jerry Brockheimer, the co-lead actor, Armie Hammer, and the director Gore Verbinski accusing critiques of writing bad reviews before the movie was released to be critiqued.

But I always enjoyed Johnny Depp’s performances, so I thought we would sit together as a family and give it a try. Here are my thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this Disney movie, and so did my husband and teenage daughter. While it was not a blockbuster at the likes of Marvel creations, it was funny, with several laugh out loud moments, most of them involving either the banter between the two main characters, or parts including the white horse, that plays a rather large role in this film.

Granted, it is not a movie to watch over and over again, but it is charming, the plot engaging and there are no boring moments throughout the entire running time. It is also a movie one can watch with the entire family, without it being so lacking of action, that older children would have problems enjoying the story. There are not very many bad things I can say about this film, with the exception that Armie Hammers acting felt on a few occasions a little flat and that the main villain was somewhat predictable.

If you have not seen it, it is worth renting. Currently it is also available on HBO.

Here is a peak at the movie via it’s trailer:

 

J Is For Johanssen

As in Scarlett Johanssen that is. You know her from the Iron Man movies, as the voice in “Her”, and also, “Robot Chicken”.

Scarlett Johanssen has been busy. Yes I know she is pregnant, not what I meant, but besides working on Avengers 2 and having a kid, she has two movies coming out shortly (or have been released last week), which both sound weirdly interesting. Oh, and a Black Widow movie has just been announced! Busy woman, good for her. Let me start with “Lucy”

Lucy

Release Date: August 8th 2014

By: Universal Pictures

Director/Writer: Luc Besson

In Lucy, Scarlett plays a young woman who gets caught in the midst of a dark deal, waking up with drugs sown into her stomach. As one of them bursts, her abilitiy to access her brain becomes enhanced, leaving her able to manipulate her environment beyond what should be physically possible. It is a movie tailored to Scarlett’s abilities, her fighting skills she equired for her role as Black Widow come to display. Impressive action scenes seemed to be littered throughout this dark movie, that also features Morgan Freeman.

Here is the trailer:

And here is the second one:

Under The Skin

Release Date: April 4, 2014

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Under The Skin is a surreal, limited release movie, with Sci-Fi elements. It is based on a novel by Michel Faber.
The main character, an Alien, played by Johanssen, takes on human form in order to seduce men, so she can harvest their organs, under the supervision of another alien, who has taken on the form of a male motorcyclist.

 

Both movies are certainly worth taking a closer look at, building around a strong female lead character. Enjoy!

 

 

 

I Is For Irony

Due to the constant misuse of this word by a relative that shall be remain unnamed, I decided to write about irony.

Out of some reason that particular person confuses irony with unexpected occurrence of the same kind, rather then the true definition of irony, which calls for an occurrence of the unexpected kind, or an somewhat contradictory experience, such as the photos shared in this video

Dramatic irony is often used in movies and books to create tension, specifically when the audience or reader is aware of an upcoming situation before the character within the scene.

The three stages of dramatic irony:

Installation
Exploitation
Resolution

Maybe to be clear I should play this clip from ConAir for the person I spoke about earlier.

I think that will do.

Have a great day!