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i am okay to go

maura @ 10:52 pm

Gus wanted to have movie night tonight, and really wanted to watch something sci-fi. Scrolling through Netflix watch instantly we came across Contact, and that’s what he chose. I think it’s PG? Maybe PG-13 — there’s a bit of language (“Mom, why did he say ‘son of a b…”), but nothing he doesn’t hear on the schoolbus every damn day, and a smidge of kissing (“Ewww!”), but otherwise it’s harmless.

Except that it’s kind of a grownup movie. We haven’t seen it in a while, and I’d forgotten about the religious discussions and the father dying and the bombing. And lots of talk talk talking. It’s kind of intense, and Gus was a bit confused sometimes.

But it’s also such a great movie and he really does seem to be into it. Who can resist Arecibo and the Very Large Array? And Jodie Foster is just so fabulous, always. The whole package makes me want to be an astronomer. Yay SETI!

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he has a lot to learn before he’s ready to save anyone

maura @ 2:42 pm

So even after all that blaggy bluster about whitewashing, we went to see The Last Airbender. In the end we just couldn’t resist, plus it was a nice confluence of kid through teen through adult love of the show (we went with Jonathan’s aunt, uncle and teenage cousins). Of course it wasn’t as good as the TV show, but how could it be? But, you know, I so wanted it to be good that even though I’ve seen the bad reviews I couldn’t make myself entirely believe it wouldn’t be good.

I get that it’s hard to adapt a 20-episode TV show into a 2 hour movie, really I do. There’s lots of character development that needs to get shortened, and some stuff needs to be left out. But as someone said (can’t remember who) it was like M. Night Shyamalan had never actually *seen* the show. There didn’t seem to be any attempt at all to distinguish between the important and unimportant bits, and the movie felt kind of slapped together willy nilly. I can’t imagine how it would feel to someone who’d never watched the show before, but my guess is that they’d be completely lost.

That was the biggie. Two minor, nitpicky points:

1. For an expensive movie, the effects were just not all that special.

2. And for heavens sake, WHY did they change the pronunciation of several of the main characters’ names?! This isn’t like when you see a movie based on a book and think, “oh, I didn’t realize his name was pronounced like that.” This film is based on a TV show! With audio! So very annoying, and seemed like it was especially designed to get under the skin of hardcore fans.

That’s about all I have to say, but these funny/sad fan reviews are pretty hilarious, if you’re interested.

And in *good* movie news, last night Jonathan and I watched the Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Which was a GREAT example of how to take something very very long (600+ pages) and make it into a 2 hour(-ish) movie. I’ve read all 3 of the books so of course my brain filled in the missing bits and added story around the characters, so it was difficult for me to tell if the movie was hard to follow. The whole way through I kept asking Jonathan, who’s read none of the books, whether there was stuff that he didn’t understand or jumpiness or things that didn’t connect, but there wasn’t. Maybe M. Night should contact the screenwriter for some tips?

I don’t think I’ll want to see the American version of the movie, the Swedish version did a great job. But that doesn’t prevent me from having a pretty strong opinion about who should play Lisbeth: Natalie Portman (obvs!).

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in rushing rising rivulets

maura @ 10:04 pm

I did not sleep well last night. It was hot, yes, but that wasn’t really the problem. (All hail ceiling fans!)

Last night we finished up watching 2102. It was my pick, and I’m not going to apologize for it: I like a good big budget special effects apocalyptic flick every so often. Yes, at 2 hrs 38 mins it was a good hour too long, full of lame end-of-the-world conversations that could’ve been left on the cutting room floor. But the actiony parts were pretty sweet. Giant fissures opening up in the earth! California literally sliding into the ocean! Supervolcano exploding under Yosemite! Planes flying through Las Vegas skyscrapers as they collapsed! Good times. And it’s always nice to see John Cusack getting work.

So the big giant ending of the movie (SPOILER ALERT) is that the things referred to as arks that save the human race (plus a few giraffes and elephants) that we *thought* were spaceships throughout most of the movie are *actually* boats! (really submarines, absolutely enormous submarines.) So the ultimate Earth-ending climax is a series of gigantic tsunamis that overrun practically the entire landmass of the planet. Again, the effects were nice. Well worth the Netflixing.

(More spoilers: John Cusack does not die, just in case you were worried.)

But I think my brain was working overtime as I slept, because I awoke with a lingering weird feeling about water. Maybe it’s the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which is such a huge bummer that I can’t read anything more about it. Also, once we lived in an apartment that had a roof that leaked insanely when it rained. Seriously, water used to drip from the light fixtures, and our landlords regularly failed to see that as a problem.

Continuing the watery theme, in the early morning hours it rained torrentially. We listen to white noise when we sleep that just happens to be the sounds of rainfall, so despite the thunder it took us a while to wake up. But I realized that the rain was louder than usual at 5:12am and spent the next 10 minutes stumbling around the apartment closing windows and drying off windowsills. Happy Monday! I was kind of tired today, natch.

All of this means that I’ve had the “Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down” song from the old Disney cartoon for Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day running through my head all day. I tried to find it for you on YouTube, but I could only find it in Swedish and Finnish. Here’s the Swedish version — enjoy!

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bon appetit!

maura @ 9:52 pm

We are finally getting around to watching Julie & Julia. With the debt that we owe the late Mrs. Child (for me it’s mostly a caloric debt, but still), what the heck took us so long? Well, we tend not to squander sitter time on movies since it is possible to watch movies at home, and prefer to save it up for museums or dinners that don’t involve chicken nuggets or pizza. Of course, now that we’re watching it we see that we totally could have dragged Gus to see it,* though he probably would have been bored.

* We don’t tend to take him to any even remotely scandalous movies, though that streak may change tomorrow when we all go to see Avatar. But friends of his have seen it, prompting this hilarious summary: “There were these blue guys. They were the avatars. And they had a tree. And they really loved their tree. Then there was a fight.” So we feel like it’s probably going to be okay.

So far I totally agree with what everyone said: the Julia parts are wonderful, and the Julie bits fall flat. I kind of feel bad for Amy Adams: she’s a good actress, but who could compete with Meryl Streep in that towering role? It’s such a sweet movie, too, and Stanley Tucci is fantastic. I think I’ll have to read the book now (which, of course, we already own).

We didn’t get to finish it last night because Gus woke up twice and then it was suddenly after midnight and I have just been too tired lately to be staying up like a teenager. We paused shortly after Julia and Paul were packing up their Paris kitchen and I thought: “Hey, Jonathan has an orange Le Creuset pot just like that! Except his is oval and hers was circular.” I’m sure there are actual chef-y names for them like “stockpot” and “casserole” but I’ll never find out unless we finish that dang movie so bye!

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the city’s warmer by a couple of degrees

maura @ 4:59 pm

It’s Sunday night, the last day of the holiday break, and once again I am sort of grumpy. Though once again I have no real reason for the grumpiness: the break was good, I’m looking forward to getting back to work this week, and tomorrow’s an RT day so I don’t even have to leave the house.

Our break was kind of busy but also kind of not. We all stayed up much later than we should have most nights, but we still caught up on sleep (though tomorrow morning will probably be tough). Family visited us + we visited family. Jonathan cooked a ton of delicious food, and we all ate many more sweet things than is entirely healthy. We got (and, I hope, gave) lovely gifts: not too few, not too many. It rained and all of the snow melted, then it was warm and we went to the High Line. Then it got cold again and we went to the movies. While The Princess and The Frog wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I still wish the kids were old enough that we could have left them in the theater alone and gone to see Sherlock Holmes in the theater next door.

Seems like I can’t ever leave a span of time without some small amount of regret that I didn’t DO enough, so that’s probably the cause of today’s grumps. But I did get a lot done in addition to all of the holiday stuff. I cleared out my feedreader and kept my work inbox below 20 (as a friend said, sometimes a 1 day work week is better than a no-day work week). I almost got through my New Yorker backlog (only 2 to go!). I’m 80% done with sewing my new iphone cozy. We caught up on TV and even watched a movie last night (District 9, which was good, if disturbing). I finished the videogame that I got for xmas, though there are still puzzles that I haven’t completed so it’s not totally useless yet. Good thing, too, because my very own DS will arrive sometime in the middle of this week.

The video gaming was the most surprising thing to me about this break, actually. It’s been a while since a game has grabbed onto my brain so tightly. In many ways Professor Layton is the perfect game for me: an interesting storyline/plot that’s moved forward by solving puzzles. Of course lots of other games are like that (the Zelda series, e.g.), but the puzzles are much more overt in this game. I love puzzles but a game of just puzzles is kind of boring, you know? This is actually the second Professor Layton game so I’ll probably try to pick up the first one used on ebay.

These days many newfangled videogames keep track of the amount of time you play, which is an interesting (if sometimes alarming) feature. So it was also surprising to me that I could spend as much time playing a videogame as I did: 20 hrs over the course of one week! Now, I was only at work for 1 day during that time, and with all of the family around my childcare responsibilities were pretty light. And we finished TV right before xmas (and didn’t get a new movie until after New Year’s) so televised entertainment was low. And see above about staying up too late. But it still shocks me a bit to fire up the game and see that 20 hr figure. I always tell myself that I don’t have enough time to play games these days but of course, as with any leisure activity, it’s a matter of choosing to do that over doing something else.

What I definitely did NOT do this break is write. 2 personal journal entries, 1 twitter blog entry, and that’s about it. Which should be obvious given the state of this post, sort of scattered and not very well composed. I kept thinking of stuff to write over the break, but it’s hard to find the time for sustained writing in the vacationspace. I don’t really have any official resolutions this year (trying not to make resolutions I can’t keep was one of last year’s resolutions and I was not entirely successful, unfortunately), but I do plan to get back on track with writing. Starting today, I guess, since I’ve managed to squeeze a post out of the grumpiness. Go me!


the future and the south pacific

maura @ 7:35 pm

This has been a weird day. I woke up with a sore throat and a headache and the sinking feeling that I may be getting sick at what’s really not the best time of the semester for it. (Though is there ever really a good time to be sick?) So instead of using this partly sunny + fairly warm day to go for a bike ride with Gus in the morning and maybe schlep us all to the Bronx Zoo in the afternoon, I sat on the sofa and read 400 pages of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and drank herbal tea.

I always feel kind of guilty when we spend the whole day inside if it’s nice out, even when there’s a good excuse. Gus played video games and read nearly a whole book (The Great Cheese Conspiracy, a refugee from my ’70s childhood) and played D+D with Jonathan. Over dinner Gus asserted that he didn’t want to go for a bike ride today anyway. But it still seems somehow wrong to spend the whole day inside. Maybe I am also feeling a bit guilty that I just read today rather than tackling all of the other stuff on my list, much of which can be accomplished perfectly well from the sofa with my laptop.

We did get out yesterday, and in far more inclement weather. We went to Manhattan to see Fantastic Mr. Fox (surprisingly only playing in 2 theaters), which was a good time for the adults + the kid. Gus <3s Roald Dahl, and for the adults the movie was pretty much standard Wes Anderson fare with puppet animals instead of people.

Cloud Atlas is really good. I’m still in the middle of the other Cloud Atlas, which is a bit surreal. And the Mitchell book has a sticker in the back with the correct author information that’s covering a sticker that mislabels the book as the Callanan book. Woah, meta.

I could get to those other tasks now (Gus + Jonathan are playing a little Super Mario Galaxy before bed), but there’s only about 50 pages left in my book and I’m dying to know how it ends. Later, gators.


assorted tasty nuggets

maura @ 3:24 pm

It should not be 90+ degrees and 90+% humidity in June.

What’s worse than spending 2 nights (because we started too late for one night) watching a movie that had all of the ingredients to be hilarious but ended up being a total dud? The same PLUS awful-yet-catchy songs that get stuck in your head for days afterwards! That pretty much sums up Music & Lyrics, which we watched last week. It looked so good on the outside: funny cast (Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore) + promising set up (what could be more fun than mocking Wham!?). But something went horribly, horribly wrong with the writing or direction or something because it was just BORING. And the songs are driving me crazy.

The kittehs are great, thanks for asking. But it appears that Mr. & Mrs. Fastidious are having a somewhat rocky transition to kitten ownership.

It’s funny, if you’d asked me a few months ago what housekeeping task worried me re: cats, I’d have said sweeping, of course, because of the fur. But you know, these little guys do not shed so much, and the fur is not bothering me at all.

However, both Jonathan and I are having a hard time with the litterbox. I hadn’t realized that a bit of litter tends to come out of the box when a cat exits (even despite the little footmat thing in front of the box), and am finding myself sweeping the bathroom about 10 times a day. Jonathan’s bugbear is the stinky poop, which he rushes in to scoop the very instant that a kitten has exited the bathroom. We are both freaking ourselves out with the thought of poopecules: the (probably imaginary, but what if not?) microscopic fragments of poop that give us pause whenever a kitten jumps up on the bed or sofa. Quel surprise!

Yesterday was stoop sale day, yippee! We took in a decent amount of cash, and got rid of a ton of stuff between the sale and our now-traditional hauling everything that didn’t sell directly to the thrift store afterwards (nothing comes back upstairs – nothing!). I’m proud of our steely resolve this year: we didn’t even buy much from our neighbors.

This year’s bang-up stoop sale innovation: the quarter bin (i.e. everything in the big plastic bin costs 25 cents) and the free bin (ditto but free). These ended up being a great way to get rid of all of those little toys and doodads (ay dios mia, plastic party favors!), while drawing in potential stoop sale victims. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

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her husband of nineteen years danced madly at her feet

maura @ 9:15 pm

Lately I am really jonesing to go the movies.

Movies (in the theater) are something that we’ve mostly given up since Gus came along. Tickets are so expensive and babysitting is so expensive that we’ve only seen a handful of movies in the past six yrs. Less than ten, certainly.

We do use Netflix, but even our enthusiasm for that seems to wax and wane. Movies are so loooong these days, not served in bite-sized chunks like TV. Of course, while I realize that if you watch 4 episodes of a show (cough, 30 Rock, cough) in a row then you could have watched a movie, for some reason we still find ourselves gravitating to TV more often than movies.

But I read the paper and the New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly, so I know what time it is with the movies, sorta. And right now there are three movies that I are really making me want to plunk down the ca$h:

1. The Golden Compass: This book, it is so amazing. I haven’t read it in a few years and am rereading it now and MAN I’d forgotten how amazing it is, miss-your-subway-stop amazing. The previews look lush, but the reviews are lukewarm. After reading a this review that Jonathan sent me I am chomping at the bit somewhat less, but I still want to see it.

The drag is that I think Gus is still a leetle bit too young for this, so we can’t bring him along. Plus I am going to have to play the snooty librarian card here and insist that he read the book first, esp. if the reviews are accurate.

2. Juno: Thinking about this movie always puts the Throwing Muses song of the same title right into my head. This cute little movie is also being reviewed every which where recently. BUT, these reviews have been completely positive. Jason Bateman! Michael Cera! Jennifer Garner! What could be bad about that? No CGI, so it’s not big-screen-necessary, so we will probably wait on it. But it’s on the list, oh yes it is.

3. Control: Here in NYC this movie is still playing in a few places, though I’m sure it’ll be leaving the theaters soon. Again, good reviews. Poor Ian Curtis (though I must admit to mixed feelings because I like New Order at least as much as Joy Division, sometimes more, and who knows how things would have turned out had he not died?). The aged music geek in me requires a screening of this film (pronounced FIL-um). Would be nice to see in the theater, all theatrical-like, but I guess not required. Another for the Netflix queue.

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