C. S. Lewis



"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

-C.S.Lewis

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why I watched Brooklyn and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


It's like Voting
Whenever you go to the movies, it's like voting for a movie. Which is, in many ways, frustrating because you had to vote before you saw the movie--before you knew if you would like it or not. Plus, it's often a great mystery why this movie was hit, or that movie bombed. In case some poor intern is ever tasked with scrolling the internet to determine why, I thought it would be fun to say why.

It's been so long these are all on DVD now.


So why did I go to these movies?

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Whisky Tango Foxtrot -R- We needed a date movie, suggested it in a short list of options to Zorro because when I watched the trailer I saw what looked like a funny movie with at least a serious setting, probably some heartwarming morals thrown in.

And, I was basically right. It wasn't as funny as I expected, but it was a good movie. It's based on a true story about a middle aged journalist who goes to Afghanistan to cover the war there, when news agencies were stretched thin on international field reporters due to the many fronts of the War on Terror. It's her story--the going, the learning, the culture of the land and the culture of journalists...it touched on some really tough issues. It had funny parts and a good ending.

We were both glad we went.

(There is a fair bit of language, which didn't bother me, because in my experience that much language would be true to life under the circumstances.)

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Brooklyn--PG-13 - On a totally different note, right? Truth  be told, my friends and I wanted to go see A Royal Night Out, but it was a limited release and not playing anywhere nearby. So we searched in vain for something else to watch, and eventually settled on Brooklyn because it looked like it could be a good story with a happy ending.

And...it was.

Brooklyn was refreshing because the conflict was...so...normal. I mean, sure, it's about a teenage girl who immigrates alone from Ireland and gets a job in Brooklyn. I spent the whole movie waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the worst to happen. But the worst doesn't happen--regular life happens and that is quite enough. It was so, incredibly relatable. At it's core, it was a story about a girl who left home to make a life for herself somewhere else. With that comes homesickness, hope, love, and the tension of long distance relationships.

If you have ever moved away from home, you'll relate. If you haven't yet, this is what it's like.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

there be no monsters

It had been a rainy morning. All the horses were still in when I arrived at the barn with the Ham to ride. You could feel the nervous equine energy radiating from the barn--they wanted to go out. They wanted out enough to come say hi to me--which they don't always do! I greeted them all, handing out pats to Charlie, Mavs and Wellie, before grabbing Midas's gear and heading with the Ham to Midas's stall.

He's in a stall in a different part of the barn, I think originally it was intended for feed or a tractor, but now it holds Midas. He looked a little wild eyed--he allowed me to pat him but pulled back from the Ham (who hasn't been out in two weeks due to weather and me being traveling).

Curious.

Also, the wind was INTENSE. I remembered belatedly that there was a wind advisory. Oh well. Midas came out quietly and I led him to the ring. I figured he'd need to burn off energy. I unhooked the lead and stood patting him for a moment or two before stepping back and inviting him to run. He took off with a stylish trot--man, that horse has nice action.

But he wasn't wild--he was high enough energy to run a little, but not for long, and not with a wild look in his eyes. The Ham wandered through the arena stomping in the deeper hoofprints while Midas ran. Neither Midas nor the Ham were phased by each other as they moved independently in the arena.

The Ham knows the horse won't run him down, and the horse isn't worried by the Ham.

After a little work at liberty we saddled up.

The ride was entirely uneventful.

A ride on a day with a wind advisory, a brisk feel, and a horse who had been cooped up all morning.

My goodness the training does work.



 Marching admirably.


I do not get tired of seeing Midas walk past the gate on a loose rein without even trying to bolt for it. He makes everyone earn this, but once you have it...it's so nice.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Big Box Office Why



It's like Voting
Whenever you go to the movies, it's like voting for a movie. Which is, in many ways, frustrating because you had to vote before you saw the movie--before you knew if you would like it or not.

Maybe it evens out when you tell all your friends that the movie was not worth the money and they choose something else that weekend.

I cost Jupiter Ascending at least $30 (small comfort since I bought them $40. It's something, right?) because I told all my friends just how bizarre and bad it was. It's actually so bad it is kinda fun to talk about how bad it is (this review is pretty accurate, if you're interested).

The "why" of a movie's success is a great mystery. Sometimes movies bomb in theater and then go on to be most-loved-runaway-hits on DVD. The Wizard of OZ (yes, with Judy Garland) and The Princess Bride are examples of that. Some films were really meant only for the big screen, and are just really not that great in a home theater (Gravity, for example, was really more of an IMAX experience.)

Studios are always struggling to figure out why people go to a specific movie and it sure feels like they always guess wrong. If X or Y is a success, everyone falls all over themselves to get a similar movie out the door fast because that's what people are apparently in the mood for.

Batman Begins takes a gritty realistic take on our favorite masked hero--and suddenly ALL the superhero movies are gritty and realistic--including ones that really shouldn't be, like Superman, Spiderman and Green Lantern. It wasn't just superheroes, that was also the era of Bourne and the new Bond movies (which are quite dark--though you might not notice unless you go back and watch an older Bond film).

It's not all bad, I mean the Batman movie before Christopher Nolan stepped in was Batman & Robin, which was corny beyond all reason (and not in the charming BIFF/POW way of Adam West's Batman).

"Why" is on the mind right now because of Deadpool. Which was wildly successful and rated R. And I went to see it. It was a good movie. Correlation does not equal causation.

Why I went to see Deadpool (gasp?)
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People who aren't familiar with the comics were shocked and horrified that Deadpool, a superhero movie, was R rated--and very R rated at that. This was not the King's Speech version of R.

People were upset at Marvel--this annoyed me for several reasons; one, this film wasn't made by Marvel Studios--even though Deadpool is a Marvel hero, his film rights are owned by Fox. This was a Fox movie, just like all the X-Men movies (which have definitely been hit or miss). Two, it was Deadpool--anyone familiar with the character shouldn't be surprised. Three, did you not watch any of the promotional stuff for this movie or see the giant R next to the title before you bought your kid tickets? I've also heard stories of theater staff trying to dissuade people from bringing their children in.

So, why did I go? Well, Hollywood, I'm so glad you asked.

I'm familiar with the character of Deadpool, he's snarky, witty, and self aware, breaking the 4th wall often. He also tends to be mouthy, and the comic books were never aimed at kids. He frequently works with Spider-Man these days, that's where I bumped into the character. As such he has been written into a wit-laced PG/PG-13 animated series. I've also seen plenty of single frame Deadpool comics which are hilarious because he is snarky and the only superhero aware that he's a character in a comic.

From what I've read, Deadpool was a love-project. It was kind of the studio's bastard child and the movie pokes fun at its low budget--Deadpool comments that he isn't allowed into Professor X's mansion because the studio couldn't afford for any other X-Men to appear in the film. Gotta love that 4th wall.

They totally could have made a successful Deadpool movie that was PG-13, but given that Deadpool comics aren't PG-13, I don't think that they were ever interested in making it PG-13.


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I watched the promos for the movie with worry because I was afraid they would be lazy and rely on over the top violence and dirty humor instead of using their brains and putting together something really witty. But I noticed something in all the promotional materials--it was the same violent scene and the same sex joke in all of them. This made me think that perhaps there was hope. The rest of the trailer looked promising.

Plus, Deadpool kept insisting that it was a love story.

Zorro and I took a chance and went--with a decent amount of fear and trembling.

If you want a comprehensive summary of all the objectionable things in the movie, Plugged In has one. Ironically, I don't think the Plugged In review is edifying to read: It's the bad stuff without the good stuff. Suffice to say that the movie is R rated for the reasons listed on the rating.

Moving on: Today we are here to talk about why the movie was successful (Spoiler: It wasn't because of the stuff that made the movie R.)


Deadpool was funny, fresh, original, tongue-in-cheek and full of well timed--if sometimes dark--humor. It was different to have an anti-hero--a likable anti-hero. Plus, Deadpool was telling the truth--it was a love story. As in, it's about a tough guy who meets a pretty girl and they fall in love, and then he falls terminally ill. He takes a chance on experimental treatment, which goes horribly wrong and leaves him so disfigured he's afraid to go back to his girl.  It's like Nicholas Sparks meets the X-Men, with a solid dose of "irl people bleed, soldiers cuss and tell dirty jokes." It was true to the source material and as best as I can tell the huge Deadpool comicbook fanbase is pretty happy with the movie. So, success was had.

To say I went for the blood, the cussing and the dirty jokes when there is such a solid story, performance, and humor at play is really stupid.

One thing I found refreshing about the film is that when I got to the end I realized that Wade always treated women as people--he didn't treat them as objects. I appreciated that. Wade is also the first superhero to propose to his girl.

I think Deadpool is paired with Spider-Man so often because they are so different. They are each other's foils.

I could have done without the R stuff, personally, but over all, my only regret about my vote is that Hollywood will misunderstand why Deadpool was successful.

Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn, hit the nail on the head (read his Facebook post here) when he wrote that "So, over the next few months, if you pay attention to the trades, you'll see Hollywood misunderstanding the lesson they should be learning with Deadpool. They'll be green lighting films "like Deadpool" - but, by that, they won't mean "good and original" but "a raunchy superhero film" or "it breaks the fourth wall." They'll treat you like you're stupid, which is the one thing Deadpool didn't do."

So, in case they have someone tasked with scrolling the internet in search of why, here's my "Why" list.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Just a picture


Midas is never sure about selfies. Well. That's not true. Sometimes he's sure that he is not amused.

Oh, so the bandana is to keep the horse dust out of my hair. It works pretty well, and means that I smell more professional when I get back to the office. It also means that poor Zorro isn't allergic to me on barn days.

Monday, April 25, 2016

30-Ironsides


My brothers and I followed Ironsides into the dim of the house, Vaudrin and Quill entered behind us. Sunshine from a window above our heads provided ample light for the entryway and central hallway of the manor. I looked around. The lower half of the walls was bare stone, the upper was coated in plaster. The entryway was wide, and there were two doors leading into rooms on either side. Iron Sides ignored these and led us down the hallway until it reached the great room. This room was lit by four windows at the moment, but there were also lamps hanging from the ceiling and a generous gray stone fireplace. An assortment of chairs draped in blankets and furs were grouped around the fireplace. In the middle of the room was the dinner table. It was at least twelve feet long and made of thick slabs of knobby olive wood which had been sanded until it was as smooth as glass. Two benches ran down either side and two large chairs sat on one end. Six hunting hounds were sprawled under the table, they leapt up and ran to greet us when we entered.
“Please, sit.” Ironsides gestured to the table. “I will call for food.” He left us to the wriggling of the hounds and went out a door at the back of the room.
Quill bowed slightly, “Take your rightful places, my lords, my lady.”
Namal and Ayglos bowed in return and walked to the table. There was more than one acceptable way to arrange seating, and normally such things would be determined in part by the nature of the visit and relationship with the host. Namal chose to sit on the right bench, and indicated that Ayglos sit on his right. I sat to Ayglos’s right, and Quill and Vaudrin sat across from Ayglos and I, respectively, leaving the seat across from Namal empty. Perhaps for Ironside’s lady, or if he had a chief warrior or advisor he would want in attendance.
Ayglos leaned in, “Does Iron Sides have a proper name?”
Quill and Vaudrin hesitated.
“Ironsides is his name,” said Vaudrin.
“I think the family name is Bairdwynder,” offered Quill with a shrug.
Iron Sides re-entered the room and to our surprise took the seat across from Namal rather than the seat at the head of the table. “Food is on its way,” he announced cheerfully. “Your people have been arrayed in the day laborer’s hall and will also taste my cook’s wizardly food. She is a miracle worker in this times when spices are hard to come by. Now, I have only one question for you: Are these women with you by their own will?” He leveled a stern glare around the table, but especially at Quill and Vaudrin.
“Yes. We rescued them from the garrison at”—Quill began.
“Stop,” Ironsides held up his hand, “That will suffice. I haven’t decided yet if I want to know what Dalyn’s royal guards are doing this far afield.” He pointed at me and my brothers, “Or who they are.”
“Fair enough,” Quill leaned back. “May we spend the night here? We have traveled hard these past several days. Even your barn would be a welcome refuge.”
“That, I can provide,” replied Ironsides, shedding his stern looks and allowing a smile. “Some of you can even have beds—though I can’t sleep forty in the house! And I am still well situated so I can bolster your provisions a bit for wherever you’re headed.”
“We would be grateful,” put in Namal. “Our path has taken unexpected turns, and we did not prepare for so many mouths to feed.”
“Sounds like a marriage,” laughed Ironsides.
Before anyone could react to Ironsides’s joke, the door to the kitchen opened and a pair of maidservants came in carrying platters of food –two each—and two boys around the age of ten scuttled in behind them carrying plates and silverware. Immediately the delightful smell of roast lamb and garlic filled the room. My mouth started to water and I breathed deeply, it had been a lifetime since I’d had roast lamb. The maidservants skillfully placed the platters in the center of the table and the boys breathlessly plunked the plates and silverware in front of each of us.
As the boys turned to scurry away Ironsides reached out and caught the boys by their britches and tugged them back to him. The boys dissolved into giggles as Ironsides’ arms closed around them. “Friends, these are my sons: Alam and Wyck.” The lads squirmed, laughed, then straightened and stared at us with bright eyed curiosity. “They were supposed to stay in the kitchen, little rascals.” He growled gently at them, and they giggled.
“We were helping!” announced the taller one.
“We’re sorry, sir, we told them to stay behind,” one of the maidservants paused close to Ironsides and scowled at the boys.
“I thought as much,” Ironsides turned the boys around to face him, “There now, you’ve seen the strangers, head back to the kitchen and eat your supper.”
The boys had evidently been hoping for a different verdict and their shoulders drooped. “Yes, sir,” they replied. Their unison that much more impressive considering their gloomy tone.
The boys both kissed their father on the cheek before heading back to the kitchen, this time the maids shooed them along before them. I caught snatches of soft scolding as they exited and the door closed behind them. I looked after them wistfully. Ayglos and I had once haunted the kitchens of Galhara. Cooks are very good friends to have–although they will make you earn your handouts. Or at least ours did. There were times when all four of us would loiter in the kitchens and she would task us with preparing herbs–we would race to see who could strip the most rosemary or lavender.
Ironsides’ voice brought me back to the present. “My apologies,” he said, a smile lingering on his face. “I had thought it would be better to keep my lads out from underfoot—considering the times and not knowing what errand you’ve been about. They are good boys, but like all children have a nose for secrets.”
“Sadly a wise choice, I’m afraid,” replied Namal.
“Say no more,” grunted Ironsides, “Let us eat and be grateful for peace tonight.”
I was certainly grateful—the roasted lamb was as perfect as it smelled; moist and laced with garlic. There was also a spinach pastry drowned in butter, and flat bread with tomatoes, hummus and a bowl of pesto. I ate as if I’d never had food before—and I ate too much. No one talked much during dinner. Ironsides occasionally commented about farming or the weather, but most of us were happy enough to commune with the food. After we finished, the maids came back in and Ironsides asked them to show us to rooms, since we were clearly tired.
My limbs were heavy and I felt like a round decanter brimming dangerously full as I followed one of the maids down a hallway and into a modest little room with a bed. She showed me also where the wash house was, and where the lamps were. I thanked her through my food-stupor, and as soon as she left I kicked off my shoes, collapsed on the bed, and burrowed under the blankets. I was awake just long enough to coo over the touch of a real mattress and then I slept without dreams.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

trees




Just some tree shots from the last couple months. Now everything is leafy and green.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chincoteague


Be prepared for a photo dump, because I was gone for three days and took hundreds of pictures. What else is a girl to do when she fulfills a lifelong dream of spending a weekend on Chincoteague and Assateague Islands? In case you didn't read Misty of Chincoteague as a child, it's a Newbery Medal winning book about the wild ponies on Assateague. It's a true story, and I loved it as a kid. I also loved Stormy, Misty's Foal, Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague, and Misty's Twilight. Books following the other ponies related Misty, or her owners, the Beebees.


The ponies on the island have been there time out of mind, story goes that they were originally the survivors of a wrecked Spanish Galleon. Now they belong to the volunteer fire department on Chincoteague, and they put a lot of time and care into making sure their wild ponies are preserved--even to the point of rounding them up a couple times a year for medical care.

Every year in July they round up the ponies, swim them across the channel that separates Chincoteague and Assateague and auction off this year's foals to the highest bidder. This event is called Pony Penning.


Since Misty made Pony Penning famous, the foals are a lot more expensive than they used to be!


We went in March--it was cold and wet.


On the beach of Assateague.


But still breathtakingly beautiful.


Emphasis on breathtaking =P





This made me laugh. No restrooms allowed!


Look, a payphone!

We were too cold and windswept to go out on the boardwalk.


This sea horse was a good 3 inches long, I've never seen one so big.


Sometimes the fire dept keeps colts, these are the 2015 colts being kept at the fairgrounds on Chincoteague. They'll be going out with the herds soon.









Chincoteague also has an excellent ice cream shop.




Our rental was well equipped.


On one of the days we walked up to the lighthouse on Assateague.



Our rental is behind that rowhouse in the distance.


Did I mention it was wet?


The wild ponies were totally unbothered by the wind and rain.






One of my drawings.



This pony wanted to be my friend. It was mutual.




Here she is, marching straight toward me.


Here we are in the wind and rain by the lighthouse.


Strong winds did a number on some of the trees on Assateague recently.



On the Atlantic:

That wind, though.


Waving goodbye to Chincoteague! We had a wonderful weekend, I would go back in a heartbeat.


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