Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's not just Girl Power

If you know anything about comics, you probably have already seen this comic, or at least heard the buzz about Marvel's new all-female line-up in the adjective-less X-Men title. Yes, it's a relauch of the numbering. Yes, it's an all female cast. But that's not what's so amazing about it.

What is amazing is that every single character in this book is A-List. (Yes, even Jubilee. I'll get there in a moment.) They were all pretty much defined by Chris Clairmont in the 80's. And they haven't all been on a team together since then. Every one of them has a solid fan following and at least three of them have pretty wide name recognition outside of the comic book world, if only because there are characters with their names in the X-Men movies.

Yes, they're all girls. Yes, it's a team Wolverine isn't on. 

But most importantly it's good.

Issue #1 came out today and I have to say I am very pleased with it. Slightly thrown off by the inclusion of John Sublime as that whole villain arc is a little fuzzy to me (even though I've read Sublime stuff before). And he has a sister that is... a virus? 

But tossing those two bits aside, the issue is fantastic. Great writing, excellent character showcasing (each one of them gets to do something Awesome), and fantastic art. It very organically brings these six women into one title without ever developing a 'team is born/recruited' arc. It just happens. They are friends, they're all working at the same school, of course they're going to run to Jube's assistance when she calls.

Storm takes on the role of leadership. While most of the girls have at one point or another led the team, Storm is obviously the eldest, most experienced, and most level-headed. She reverted back to her punk mohawk recently, while keeping the class in her costume that Ororo Munroe has always been known for.

Kitty is hilarious, keeping her hard-won maturity while still having a bit of that classic Pryde eye-rolling and nose wrinkling as she and Rogue adjust to being on the same team again. She's been the assistant headmistress of the Jean Grey School for the past year, which has basically been the same as actual headmistress since Wolverine is never around, and it's fun to see her once again being on a team rather than being in charge.

Rogue is one of those characters that writers like to play hot potato with - with her personality, that is. Ever since "Supernovas" she has undergone a ton of character growth. She's no longer the hot-headed southern gal who would fly off the handle at a moment's notice... something the "Uncanny Avengers" would do well to remember. However a lot of fans miss that Rogue, and "X-Men" does a good job of bringing back of her trademark spunk and stubbornness without loosing the maturity and wisdom she's grown into.

Rachel hasn't gotten to do much in recent years, as her last big adventure was in outer space. She's been taking a supporting role at the Jean Grey School, but hopefully the daughter of Jean Grey and Scott Summers from another timeline will get a bigger role in this title.

Betsy Braddock/Psylocke has long been confined to a male dominated roster over at X-Force (although that's gotten some more gals recently), so it is great to see her back in a feminine environment (which is after all very much what she started off in). Her sniper moment with her psychic bow was pretty awesome and I look forwards to seeing more of her.

And then there's Jubilee, who is an underappreciated character my friend Alicia has taught me to properly enjoy. I did seriously love her recent team up with X-23 (who will hopefully guest star here at some point) and think that the vampire twist was actually well-done. Throwing her a baby to play mama to? That's a curveball that they hit right out of the park. Little Viggo provides some iconically adorable moments and also allows us to see Jubilee at both her most mature and most vulnerable. 

So what's all this to say? If you're a comic book fan, this is a must read. And if you're not? Well... this is as good a place as any to start. 

And... *cough* I may or may not have a signed copy of the cover art framed on my wall...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Goodbye, SMASH

I've been in love with this show since I first skeptically tumbled upon the first episode. Which was when the show was about a month into Season 1, so pretty early on. Like most viewers I had plotlines and characters I didn't like, but I kept coming back and was rewarded for doing so.

I should say it's not a perfect show, but what show ever is? It's a good show. It's a show I am going to remember and rewatch in the future, and those songs are always going to have a special playlist on my iTunes. "Let Me Be Your Star" is still the constant melody in my head.

What is beautiful is that we got an ending. As multiple interviews have reminded us, NBC didn't have to finish airing or even filming once it became obvious that ratings were dropping rapidly. But they did, and thus we got a pretty solid ending this Sunday night. A little too 'wrapped up with a bow' you might say, but not entirely. Jimmy/Karen was pitch perfect, and Derek/Ivy had dealt with enough over the past few episodes that I could accept their brief and wordless scene.

Actually, let's take a second to marvel at how we've gotten to see both Jimmy and Derek grow up this season. The first half of the season was Karen and Ivy's maturing, the second half was Jimmy and Derek's. And it was great. We got to see them turn from really stupid selfish people into wiser, sober (er) adults.

We got to see Tom and Julia's friendship/writing partnership renew itself with promises of a new stage of their career in Hollywood. Eileen finally trumped Jerry by securing both "Best Actress" and "Best Musical" for Bombshell (thank goodness!). Ana was vindicated, Sam was... well he was there, at least. And Kyle was commemorated.

I have to not dwell on the fact that I won't get to see these characters in new episodes; that I won't get to listen to wonderful original songs and watch beautiful choreography. I have to think of this as a very long miniseries, because I can. I can go on and recommend SMASH to people because even though it was canceled, it is a complete story and a good one, if you're the sort of person who loves musical soap operas.

The love is out there, that's for sure. It is so gratifying to read articles in which the critics still bash the show, but the comments are filled with nothing but love for it. It's great to know that it is still topping polls (by 50%!) to bring it back. Even though the end is here, it's not over. We have the music, and we'll have the DVDs (and Netflix!) to go back and watch again.

And who knows. Maybe someday they'll bring Bombshell to Broadway for real.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Captioning in Theaters (Remember the Hobbit?)

Remember how I didn't see "The Hobbit" in theaters? (Loved it when I did get to watch it on DVD!)

Well I haven't tried out the glasses myself yet, but my good friend and adopted brother Matt (who also has a hearing impediment, though not nearly as severe as mine) tried them out, and he was... less than enthused. Read his whole write-up here.

The good news is that he did call Sony and give them his complaints and it sounds like they got through to higher management. Hopefully feedback from users like Matt will help them make caption access for the hearing impaired less painful. I, for one, don't want to leave the theater for an immediate trip to the chiropractor (normally not open at 10 at night anyhow).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Was Trenzalore what you expected?

We need to talk about the Series 7 Finale. So. Spoiler Alert.


Was Trenzelore what you expected? It wasn't what I expected. I didn't think it would be the Doctor's grave. Seriously. The idea never crossed my mind. I envisioned an actual field that was like... filled with some overwhelming power that compelled anyone who stood there to answer truthfully or something.

Nope. Doctor's grave. And he had to answer the question or his friends would die. Only he didn't. River did. Oh River...

But first let's back up and shout joyfully over the amazingness that was the appearance of all the previous Doctors. That was amazing. And Clara's storyline is a perfect one for the lead up to the 50th. She really is the girl who was there for it all... like the fans. In some ways you could say she is us, the ones calling out warnings to the Doctor that he could never hear. (Except when showrunners read tumblr and took ideas. Statue of Liberty I'm looking at you.)

And it was rather awesome that the secret was not the Doctor's name, but ---

Backing up again.

Where were the Silence? They wanted to keep Trenzalore from happening, but why? Fans are muttering about this seeming slip. My rationalization is this: the danger of Trenzalore was the Great Intelligence erasing the Doctor's victories, and thus half the universe. Of course the Silence didn't want that to happen. Maybe they didn't have all the details, but they knew that the most dangerous thing that could ensue was the Doctor's name being spoken at his tomb, thus opening it and allowing anyone to destroy what he had done to save/change so many lives.

That's my headcanon anyhow.

Speaking of headcanons, have we seen the last of River? This blogger thinks not, and I am rather inclined to agree with her. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but not impossible. That aside, let's soak in the heartbreaking beauty of that goodbye scene. Oh man. I love the Doctor/River. I want more than one episode (and two minisodes) of them as an alive married couple. They can't be over... can they? River MUST be coming back for the 50th!

I really got a kick out of seeing River and Madam Vastra interact. Maybe, if we get a Paternoster Gang spin off, River can be a guest star there? It was also great to see River and Clara meet. After all the fan speculation about how they'd tear each other's hair out, it was great that they were working together... although Clara had some truly awesome reactions.

Speaking of Clara. It's interesting that the whole season we knew her as the impossible girl, but at the end, she was an ordinary girl who sacrificed herself for the Doctor, and thus proved that ordinary is the best extraordinary. Yes, she's also the impossible girl, who touched every corner of the Doctor's life, defeated the GI and saved history. But that's not the Clara we'll know. That wasn't the Clara of season 7, and it's likely she won't remember enough for it to really change who she is in season 8. Good call, Moffat.

Now we've got to talk about John Hurt. I'd read the internet rumors prior to the episode, so I at least had some idea of what the whole thing was about, but the other viewers with me were completely baffled. There was plenty of screaming though.

I'm glad that the big deal wasn't about the name, but about the secret. And I think it's a great secret. We've been wondering for 7 years about the Time War and the Doctor's role in it, and now we're due to get it. But who is John Hurt playing? From what we gather, he's between 8 and 9, but whether he's an older version of 8 or a whole new 'forgotten' regeneration between the two, it remains to be seen.

We know he was the one who broke the promise to be a healer and a helper, so initially he went by "The Doctor." But then he broke that promise, so it seems the Doctor does not consider him to have a right to that name. Which is why he called himself the '9th' regeneration during Eccleston's run. He's the 9th Doctor who was living up to that name.

Or not. We won't know any of this until the 50th. November 23rd is MUCH too far away!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I don't like Finale Season

"Once Upon a Time" just concluded season 2.

"How I Met Your Mother" finished up season 8.

Doctor Who's finale is Saturday, and SMASH will air it's last episode ever on Sunday.

At least Warehouse 13 and Psych will be around for awhile yet.

Still... these shows become part of my weekly routine. I look forwards to seeing my old friends up to new adventures, sprouting humor, wit and mysteries. Not having their faces to look forwards too is saddening.

(possible spoilers below)

Of course, most of them will be back. HIMYM has announced that season 9 will take place over just one weekend. I'm expecting more flashbacks and flashforwards than usual, as would be appropriate for the final season.

OUAT will not only be back, it'll bring a spin-off "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland." I've never been a huge Carroll fan, but I love OUAT so I'm willing to give OUATiW a try. Still, that doesn't make the wait any easier. Especially since we were given that tantalizing glimpse of Mulan, Aurora and Philip with Neal, not to mention all of our favorites (minus Belle and Ruby) setting sail to adventure and rescue! Oh man. Fall is too far away!

Doctor Who, at just 13 episodes a season, is the worst to let go. It feels like we just get back into the Timey-Wimey groove and then it's gone. I suspect that may be a factor in the falling viewership the show has been receiving. And it's not due to get better any time soon. Our next visit with the Doctor won't be until November, and after that we're still not certain what we'll get. November's feature length special with David Tennant, Billie Piper and John Hurt should be worth waiting for, however. I just hope after that we'll get more of a steady stream of Who stuff.

And SMASH... I'm not ready to say goodbye to SMASH. I went in to it with such low expectations and it utterly shattered them. I love it. I love the music, I love the characters (however flawed) and I appreciate what they've done with the different plots. Seriously. I think in years to come people are going to watch SMASH on Netflix or DVD and realize what a gem it was.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This is Blog Post 1000

1000 blog posts.


Is that number hard to process? It certainly is for me.

I started this blog in 2008, right around the time that most everyone started getting a blog. I stuck with it and got some decent traffic and even some fans who found meeting me in person a pretty cool thing (I can't believe it either).

But 1000 posts. If each one averaged 350 words (and that's a low estimate) that would be 350,000 words, or a very long novel.

I've come in at just about 200 posts a year, although slightly less now that I'm also running Confessions of a Seamstress. That means I usually post about four times a week. Again, less since I've been running two blogs.

When I started this blog I was a very ill 18-year-old who had left college after 18 months due to health issues. These issues continued until fairly recently (and they still flare up), but they didn't stop me from making a feature-length film, nannying a family of four children for a year, nannying and tutoring a family of six children in Virginia for 3 months, writing a novel, administering a forum for Regina Doman, costuming a production of Beauty and the Beast, and starting work as a freelance costumer.

Now I'm a 24-year-old well on her way to real health. I have a job I love, and a book due to be published by Chesterton Press. I am dating a wonderful guy that I can't believe God brought into my life. I still have a lot of struggles as my health continues to require battling and I figure out just how to run my own business. But I'm in a good place.

Throughout this all, it's sometimes been hard to keep up with this blog, especially when I've been very ill. Still, the encouragement and support from you, my readers, has been a huge motivator in keeping me going. Thank you.

And all this has been chronicled in these 1000 posts. I wonder what the next 1000 will bring?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Doctor Who Scares Our Pants Off... but all in good fun.

Oh man. I had mixed feelings about the earlier episodes of this year, but the season is coming to a close with a bang. Not a literal bang like Season 5, but still a climax of good stuff.

Spoilers follow for "The Crimson Horror" and "Nightmare in Silver."

Mark Gatiss may not write my absolute favorite episodes, but he writes really good ones and "The Crimson Horror" was no exception. Sure you could poke loopholes in it, but it was (imho) work glossing over a few things in order to take the time with the things the episode did well.

First let's talk about the awesome homage to the Victorian penny dreadful. Gothic, outrageous, dramatic, damsels in distress, monsters, and fainting... only thing missing was highway robbery! The episode did a great job with it, starting with the title, the 'image captured in the eye' and the awesome early film style flashback to explain the Doctor and Clara's adventures. 

And can we cheer for more of the Paternoster gang? While Madam Vastra and Strax were in fine form, this was really Jenny's episode to shine, and shine she did! Even got herself a kiss from the Doctor! Which she didn't appreciate... that's a first!

Matt Smith deserves major kudos for his acting abilities here. You could have knocked me over with a feather when it was revealed that he was Ada's monster, and he was barely able to move or talk. Poor Doctor. Of course, a few minutes with the sonic screwdriver and a high tech chamber and he was right as rain.

Which... let's be honest. The Sonic Screwdriver has become the magical wand of fixing everything. It doesn't always work perfectly, but it sure is being a lot more powerful than it used to be. More episodes without it would be intriguing at this point.

Back to the good, or should I say best part of the episode? Ada. Oh man. At first I thought she was going to be annoying, but then she turned out to have so much depth and strength and if we don't get to see her again on the show I'm going to be majorly disappointed. My hope? The Paternoster gang gets a spin-off show and Ada is a regular.

Of course that will only happen if Doctor Who's ratings go back up. They've been falling rather drastically. So please, if you can, watch it via a legal method so that your viewings are counted! BBC, BBCA, itunes, iplayer, amazon... help us out so we can get more awesome!

Speaking of awesome...

Last season I liked "The Doctor's Wife" but was slightly underwhelmed by it. And I say that because I adore Neil Gaiman and know how much brilliance he's capable of. This time away he met every expectation. What I thought was going to be a parody of Willy Wonka became something clever, frightening, and fantastic. Watching Matt Smith play an evil version of himself, watching Clara in charge, and seeing the brilliant Warwick Davis take on a serious and noble role... ah, I'm happy! The cybermen were still not the scariest Who villain ever, but they were quite a bit more formidable than they've been. I do rather wish this had been a two-parter, as I think it could have worked in an expanded form. I did like the whole use of the chess game, and that the Doctor saved the day by being clever without relying on the sonic screwdriver. 

And the end! When Porridge proposed to Clara! That was so adorable. And it was funny because earlier in the episode I'd been thinking "I wish that Clara could have a bit of a love thing with someone other than the Doctor."

I love it when the Doctor is grandfatherly to Clara. But I can't deny there's a flirting there. He is definitely noticing her 'ahem' curves. And the Cyberplanner told Clara what was floating in the Doctor's mind, even if those were thoughts the Doctor didn't want to have and would never have revealed.

Although something else that the Cyberplanner said struck me as interesting. He called Clara the "flesh girl." Which could just refer to her being human, but... one theory out there is that she is made of flesh. Which, yes, the Doctor should have found this out, but maybe it's an upgraded form of the Flesh? He also used the phrase "wakey-wakey" which those of us watching immediately associated with Madam Kovarian. So. Hmm. Food for thought.

Well, it's the finale next week. I'm not entirely sure what to expect... but I can't wait!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Let's Get Excited About "Ender's Game"

About once a month someone else exclaims "They're making an Ender's Game movie?!?!? And it's got Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley??? AND IT'S COMING OUT THIS YEAR? AND I DIDN'T KNOW?"

No more excuses, guys. The first teaser trailer has been released online. So watch it, share, and let the hype begin.

Of course, die hard fans have been worried about this adaptation for awhile, and understandably so. Orson Scott Card himself has gone on record talking about the difficulty of adapting Ender's Game word for word, and declaring that such an adaptation would be "Four hours long." 

But understanding that changes are happening doesn't mean that we can't accept those changes. For instance, making the movie with six-year-olds would be nearly impossible, unless they went with an animated film (which would not suit the tone of the book). The fact that they've made all the kids older makes sense. We also know that they're focusing more on the action of the second half of the book, which again makes sense. How it will all play out remains to be seen, but I'm reserving judgement until I actually watch it. Sometimes adaptations are horrible, and sometimes they're wonderful. I think, from all I see, that "Ender's Game" is going to be a really good movie, even if it's different from the book. And that's okay. Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" is both a fantastic movie and a fantastic book, even though they are very different. The book, translated directly to screen, would not have worked as well as the adaptation did. 

I believe, as long as Asa Butterfield can convincingly portray Ender, we'll get a movie worth the wait. Want to know the kid's perspective on things? Check out this interview. I'm not surprised that he couldn't get through "Speaker for the Dead", as that is such a radically different book and OSC himself believes it unfilmable. If "Ender's Game" does well and a sequel is demanded, they'd be much better following up with the "Shadow" series.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What to Expect When You're Expecting

This is a movie review... if you actually want to know about what to expect when you're pregnant, you'd better go somewhere else because it'll be awhile before I have firsthand experience.


Last night my sister and I wanted to watch a fun movie. "What to Expect" was on Netflix, and I'd recently seen some facebook comments declaring that it was surprisingly good. So we decided to indulge... and were really glad we did.

Like "Valentine's Day" it's a movie that takes a common experience and follows the story of people going through it in all stages of life, occasionally crossing paths with the other characters. In this case it's the journey  of becoming parents, from unexpected to long awaited, from adoption to miscarriage, from laughably easy to crazy hard... and covering all ages of couples.

It's a movie about (mostly) beautiful people who are fairly financially secure (even when they loose jobs) but tries to be relevant while providing eye candy. It's message is simple - parenting is hard, whether you're ready for it or not, but it's worth it. It's really worth it. You have to compromise, you have to manage expectations, and you have to take what comes in stride while throwing preconceived notions out the window.

And it's a guy movie too. The best subplot is the Dad group that meets once a week and, "Like Fight Club" what happens there, stays there. Experienced dads, loaded up with kids, go walking in the park, commiserate, celebrate, and mentor a new daddy-to-be in what it's all about.

 It's a comedy that dares to be touchingly serious when it should, and reminds us that laughter rather than stress is the best way to handle most of life.

The youngest couple in the film is in their early twenties, and that's really where the target audience should begin. There's innuendo in this film, but nothing that would shock anyone who knows how babies are made and takes a realistic view about the whole thing. It's not going to interest the younger teen crowd, but I think it's definitely a good film for anyone who is hoping to someday be a parent.

WARNING. This film contains really cute babies.

Monday, May 6, 2013

OUAT 2.21 - "Second Star to the Right"

How do we talk about this week's OUAT? Without sounding like excessive fangirls, that is.

Spoilers below.

Well, we finally saw - oh no, wait we didn't. Actually see Neverland. Oh well, next episode! And next season as well, as showrunners have confirmed that we will not see an important Neverland character until season 3. Whether this is Peter Pan or Tinkerbell remains to be seen. If the "Shadow" is Peter, than Tink is the remaining one, on the other hand, Bae could become "Peter", defeat the Shadow and make Neverland a happy place... except for those pesky pirates. That's my sister's theory, anyhow. Right now it looks like Bae is set to become Captain Hook's new cabin boy. That doesn't preclude a future as the leader of Neverland's lost children, but it clouds the wI aters...

Of course, "Once Upon a Time" is a consistantly shaken snowglobe, so who's complaining?

I enjoyed how Bae's connection to Neverland was explained. I liked that he was adopted by the Darling children, and I do hope we'll see the again at some point. Of course, a fan theory out right now is that the Darlings will found the anti-magic society that Tamara and Greg are working for.

Which, speaking of those two, I honestly can't blame them for their goals, even if I do disapprove of their methods. And, y'know, shipping Neal off to... (presumable Neverland) probably (but not really) death. I mean, magic hasn't done much good to our world, indeed it's done quite a bit of harm. Getting it back to its proper place isn't blameworthy... but there's a blackness at the heart of this organization that makes them quite frightening.

Anyhow. I loved the character moments we got in this episode. Charming and his girls... Neal and Emma... beautiful stuff.

Rumple/Lacey continues to freak me out though. I don't like the hint of BDSM in their relationship. It's creepy how bad Belle is in her bad girl form... not someone I'd want to hang around or trust. It's disheartening that Rumple is attracted to her in this form. I know what he's thinking, of course. "Finally, someone who 'gets' me and 'supports' me without having an ulterior motive!" Only now she does, as she seems on the track of making him her sugar daddy ride to immortality and riches.

I really, really hope that this time Regina will actually forgive Snow and reform. Seriously. This needs to happen. Not that she isn't a delectable villain, but if there isn't any lasting character progression and they keep rehashing the same territory, she's going to get boring. And for an actress of her talents that would be tragic.

Anyhow, who wants to bet that next week's episode and season finale is going to land our party in Neverland?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Sleeping Murder" and Childhood Memories

I'm rereading "Sleeping Murder" by Agatha Christie. I think that's one of my favorite Christie novels. It's an unusual premise, and not so very predictable as a result. Plus it's Miss Marple and I adore Miss Marple.

I do find sections of it rather creepy though. I thought it wouldn't be a problem the second time through, but there were still these moments when I had to double check that my door was locked! Not in a 'oh I'm going to get murdered' way... more just that omnious hair-prickling 'eeep!' way that you can't quite put your finger on.

I think it has to do with the fact that the story hinges on forgotten memories. It's clever and a bit freaky. I mean, think about the scope of your life and what you remember and what you've forgotten. I remember very little of the house I lived in before I was three. My bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, the basement... but it's hard to know how many are my actual memories and what have been reconstructed by photos. I guess both. I can't remember my parent's room or the bathroom at all. It's weird. These holes...

So anyhow, Gwenda's eerie familiarity with the house is haunting and compelling for me. And it's something to ponder on... the scope of a child's mind and how much is forgotten. I think that's sad, in a way, how much of our lives we forget. Less now, I think, then in the past, due to the internet and photography and videography... but we cannot possibly remember every moment we have lived.

I was going to say I wish that there was more I remembered, but actually - other than my paternal grandmother - I feel that I've retained the vital memories. In other words, I'm pretty sure there's no haunting murder in the files of my mind...

What Printer Should I Get?

So... I need to purchase a printer. I actually would not prefer a wireless - I've had too many issues with those. Color/black and white. I like scanners, but it's not required for this. Anyone know what would be a good brand? I can't afford a really expensive one, mainly I need it to print out invoices and reference pictures for my costuming. I haven't had good experiences with HP, either in reliability or in true color printing....

Any advice?