Guardians of the Galaxy: This Was the Best You Could Do?

GOTG-posterSo, the hubby and I watched Guardians of the Galaxy last night—mainly because so many of our friends said it was great, with a sugary coating of awesome-sauce on top. Normally, we’re not big fans of comic book movies, but there have been some we’ve liked.

This would not be one of them.

I didn’t even make it through the entire movie before I got bored and decided that playing some Candy Crush would be more entertaining. Hubby made it through all of it, but it got a one-shrug rating from him. The best he could say of it was, “It was mildly entertaining.”

Problems I had with it:

I had absolutely no idea who the bad guy was. There seemed to be two bad guys: Bad Guy A and Bad Guy B. Bad Guy B was working for Bad Guy A—I think—but I never established which person on the screen was A and which was B. Or if they were the same species. Or why they were working together in the first place. Or even what made them Badass #1 and #2 in the galaxy. I mean, everyone said they were afraid of at least one of them, but I didn’t see much that made them fearful (of course, that could be because the movie was so damn dark, I could barely see anything on the screen at all).

imagesOne of these bad buys wanted to wipe out an entire planet because of some long-standing feud, but I’m not sure which one. (Or maybe it was both of them.) And when one of them eventually acquires Magical Item 1 that blew up a human-looking girl, but which doesn’t blow him up, he appears to become Badass #1. Maybe. I didn’t last long enough to see if they had a showdown for the Badass of the Galaxy Championship Belt.

And one of them had two daughters—who looked nothing alike. We find out that green daughter was actually forcibly made part of the family and had to do daddy’s dirty work. And, in fact, her daddy lent her out to the other one to help steal Magical Item 1. But I was never clear if she was the “daughter” of Bad Guy A or B, and whether she was working for A or B or both or neither. Were they both her enemies? I don’t know. And the blue girl identified as her “sister”—was she the actual child of the bad buy, or another orphan pressed into this Greek tragedy of a family? I have no idea.

So green girl has this long rap sheet of killing people for her “father.” But, when she tells Good Guy that her father (and maybe other Bad Guy) sent her to get Magical Item 1, but she’s going to double-cross both of them (despite the fact that they are Badass #1 and #2 and everyone else is afraid of them), he instantly believes her and decides that he, too, needs to get in on challenging Badass #1 and #2. Because… Green Bitch.

320x240 Yes, I know Captain Kirk established the Rule of Green Bitches, but are we even in the same galaxy? Maybe the Rule doesn’t apply to Green Bitches in different galaxies. And certainly we’re in a different time period; Kirk operates several hundred years into the future. Maybe Green Bitches have not yet established themselves as the harmless vixens that they will later become.

In short, there’s no reason to trust this particular Green Bitch. But Good Guy does immediately.

How does he manage to stay alive as a petty thief and smuggler if he’s trusting random Green Bitches at the drop of a hat—especially if it also means taking on Badass #1 and #2?

indexNot only that, but he immediately falls in love with her. And not the kind of “love” that he’s felt for all the other colorful floozies he’s had from one end of the galaxy to the other (really, is that the best we can do for aliens? Different-colored humanoids?)—no, we’re talking True Love™.

The problem with that is that I don’t see any reason why he should fall in love with her. She doesn’t seem to be any different than the pink girl (or was she orange?) that he had earlier. He doesn’t even spend any time waxing eloquent on her ability to beat up a lot of people—including him—and kick her leg over her head. I can see how such abilities would be appealing to a man like him, but apparently he doesn’t, because he never spends any time talking about them—not even an open-mouth, bug-eyed stare, coupled with a little drool of longing.

No, he just decides to save her—multiple times—for no particular reason. He doesn’t even seem to be motivated by greed (which is a plausible reason to do it to start with; True Love™ can develop over the course of the movie).

peter-quill-chris-prattFrom the set up at the beginning of the movie, I was expecting him to be an anti-hero—a thief who is really a good guy deep down, but who needs something (or someone) to motivate him to choose his good side over his bad. But that would involve character development, and the writers gave that idea the middle finger.

Why make interesting characters when you can just have a lot of CGI stuff and a Green Bitch that can kick her leg up so high, she hits the guy behind her in the face? That sells tickets!

DSC_5876075_1024x1024

You’re having a good day when you can drop an Alice’s Restaurant’s quote like a boss.

The same thing’s true for the rest of the team members. So the raccoon and the tree (Groot—I got his name, at least) are bounty hunters and they try to hunt down Good Guy. Apparently bounty hunting in Peaceful City gets you put in jail. Or maybe they had outstanding warrants; I don’t know. Regardless, everyone ends up in jail together (they don’t even believe in sex segregation at this particular jail; Green Bitch goes in with everyone else). Even before the raccoon and Groot can work out a profitable deal with Good Guy, they’re trying to help him survive the mean world of father rapers, mother stabbers, litterbugs, and other nasty criminal types who create a public nuisance.

Shouldn’t they at least be mad that he caused him so much trouble? He was supposed to be an easy meal ticket, but instead they ended up in the slammer with him. They should have hard feelings about that—at least until their greed overcomes their dislike.

But no, they’re instant partners. And even the addition of Green Bitch and Pointless Blue Guy to the team barely elicit a raised eyebrow.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-star-lord-top-100609

Lame-ass beard you’ve got there, boy.

Sure, we’ve always been a two-beast bounty-hunting operation, but what the hell? Let’s add on a Good Guy who can’t grow a real beard, a Green Bitch who was formerly Badass #3 in the galaxy and belongs to/has been working for Badasses #1 and #2, and a Pointless Blue Guy.

As Dr. Evil says about not even watching during overly-elaborate and easily-escapable executions, “I’ll just assume it went according to plan.” Rocket the Raccoon is Dr. Evil: he’ll team up with some retched scum and villainy and just assume it will go according to plan. They’ll never double-cross him or anything—despite the fact that they have death sentences in twelve star systems. They’re, like, totally trustworthy.

Drax_GotG

Why do I care about this guy? What does he do? When will he ever see a doctor about that monster shingles rash?

This movie would have worked a LOT better if it did what it appeared to do in trailers, which is make fun of sci-fi hero movies. It desperately tries to do that—what with the oddly-placed 60’s and 70’s music (played on a magical cassette tape that never wears out and breaks!) and awkward attempts at humor by Good Guy—but overall, it takes itself seriously, which means those funny bits thrown in at random seem stilted and out of place.

It either needs to be serious or funny; it can’t do both successfully.

Of course, the movie might make a lot of sense to people who have followed the comics. But as a movie it fails because it can’t be understood without reading the source material first. I watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hunger Games, and Divergent before reading the books and they all made sense. Movies should be capable of standing alone. This one isn’t.

Maybe, in the end, Green Bitch betrayed all of them. Or maybe the raccoon took the money and ran. That would be entertaining—and in keeping with these people who are supposedly thieves and bounty hunters and assassins. But from the way things were going more than halfway through the movie, that didn’t even look like an outside possibility. And with boring, unmotivated (and sometimes pointless) characters, there was nothing to look forward to but a typical fantasy plot: misfits form a team, beat Bad Guys A and B, and recover Magical Item 1.

maxresdefaultYawn. I think I’ll just be over here, trying to make a candy bomb.

It’s a Blog Post about Nothing!

So, how did my weekend go?

I did no work on my fanfic and no work on the hubby’s Viking outfit. I did, however, (at the last minute and at great expense) put together my group’s newsletter (a needful thing, since it was due Monday) and I built the most awesome medieval house for my Sims ever!

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Now, you might legitimately ask, “How does building the most awesome medieval house ever further this month’s goals of making a Viking outfit and completing your fanfic?”

It doesn’t.

Of course, I could make the argument that I’ve been really busy lately and wasn’t recovered from last weekend’s demonstration and campout, and therefore I needed to sit on my ass and do mind-numbing tasks like scour The Sims Resource for blacksmith tools (found an anvil and hammer, but no forge) and laundry room supplies (found the mother-load!).

But that would sound like an excuse.

I could also make the argument that the Sims can actually be a great tool for writers because it allows you to design houses and other buildings that only exist in your head. Houses contained solely in the head are often vague and incorrectly proportioned; putting them “on paper” (if you will) allows you to correct design flaws and have an actual model to work from; your descriptions will be richer.

But the house I built doesn’t exist in any of my novels.

So, yeah, I totally goofed-off this weekend. And I don’t feel the least bit remorseful; it felt good to do a lot of nothing after doing a lot of everything; I wish I could have one more day of doing nothing. It was the ultimate in introvert recharging. Hopefully it will now give me the boost I need to knuckle down on my sewing and writing projects.

Speaking of which, I wasn’t totally unproductive on the writing front since my last post; Friday, during my lunch hour, I made a new…

Wait for it…

…Bloodsuckers episode!

Are you ready for the catch? (You know there’s a catch; if I had an episode ready, I would have posted it instead of this.)

It’s out of sequence. As is typical with me, I’ve written a scene in advance. I still have to go back and reread the series (because I’ve forgotten parts of it) and pick it back up with Scott meeting Josie’s parents for the first time at Hanukkah. The main reason why I stopped working on the story when I did was because I have no idea how to roll with that scene. It’s obviously going to be ugly, but it needs to be so ugly it’s good. I have high expectations, since I feel that the Halloween episode was the best one of the entire series; Scott meeting Josie’s parents should be no less great.

In other words, I’m paralyzed by my own sense of perfection.

But, if I can ever get over that hump, I’ll be good for a little while, because I’ve actually got several future episodes lined up and waiting in the wings.

With my fanfic hopefully off the table by the end of the month, we shall have to see if we can’t make December’s goal resurrecting The Bloodsuckers.

(You know, for a hare-brained idea born out of a concept for a sitcom based on the crazy stuff that happened in the law office where I worked, I’m really surprised at how well-received the series has been. People that I would have never expected to like something like that—like my mother and vampire-hating friend, Carla—frequently badger me for new episodes. People I barely know will randomly say, “I read your Bloodsuckers; when are you going to write more?”

People just like the idea of a real, blood-sucking lawyer. Or maybe they like the idea of a good guy who has been down on his luck, but is trying to make the best of life. Scott is a vampire, but he’s also an everyman.)

Oh, and because I know you’re reading this, Michelle, I did re-read Imminent Danger this weekend (between anvil and laundry basket downloads). All I can say is the next book better involve a trip to Rakor and I think a baby at some point would not be remiss, either. What better way to make Eris and Varrin even more hunted than if she was carrying the ultimate in royal bloodline corruption? Just sayin’.

(And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should check out Michelle Proulx’s book, Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight Into It. It’s a fun, romantic science-fiction romp. Michelle’s really great at imagining (and describing) aliens and I’m envious of her ability to create a believable anti-hero.)

14th Century Transitional Cardboard Plate Armor

So, we’re still working on moving. My free time to write pretty much consists of my lunch break at work. I never knew how long it took me to write something–even when I’m writing at a good, continuous pace. An hour flies by (why doesn’t it fly that fast when I’m doing work for other people?) and I end up only having a page or two done and three million things I still want to write.

I’ve finished editing The Flames of Prague a second time, but all of my notes are written in my proof copy; I still have to actually go through the Word doc and make the edits. That’s a total pain. I don’t anticipate even starting that until we have finished our move, which is probably not going to be until sometime in March.

I’m also working on a contemporary romance novella that’s going very well. In fact, it’s starting to get rather long. It may turn into a short romance novel (those thin Harlequins that come out at a rate of like 5 per month are only about 55,000 words). If I could sum it up in a sentence it would be: short, nerdy guy gets out of the friendzone with hot former Miss South Carolina. Yeah… that about sums it up.

But even though I haven’t been getting much writing done lately, I have been getting active in my local SCA group (I joined this same group nearly 11 years ago when I first got in the SCA, so it’s a homecoming for me.) I am now our shire’s chronicler and producer extraordinaire of our newsletter. (Of course it’s fabulous.)

A few meetings ago, someone mentioned that when she was growing up, her father was in the military and they moved about every 2 years. They never had much money or a lot of stuff (who would want to move it???), but they did have lots of boxes and packing supplies. So she and her siblings made cardboard armor and built castles from boxes.

My armor is going to be way better than this.

My armor is going to be way better than this. Also, I’m not a virgin. That may have some bearing on my armor quality–I don’t know.

And, as these things happen, someone came up with the wild idea that we, too, should make cardboard armor and have a fight at our shire’s Twelfth Night Christmas Party. Just for shits and giggles. The rules for the armor are simple: it has to be made out of packing supplies and/or children’s craft items. (We’re still working on the rules of combat. I’m thinking we need a pas d’arms, which is counted blows.)

Having a sense of humor (because my dad’s a professional comedian), and being an apprentice (which means I must compulsively make things), I got down with that idea. Thus, the great cardboard armor project has begun!

I don’t currently have a camera, but pictures will definitely be forthcoming, rest assured.

As I mentioned, I am an apprentice. And not just any apprentice. I belong to Mistress Ashley of House Ashley. And that means quality. I would lose my apprentice’s belt if I didn’t make my cardboard armor way, way over the top. Not only that, but my husband is a knight, so I also belong to his household, and our motto is (unofficially): the fourteenth century is the one true century. (The official motto is: sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc.)

What this translates into is a harness of 14th century transitional plate armor made as accurately as possible from cardboard, duct tape, twine, wrapping paper, and bubble wrap.

combat-bascinet-with-side-pivots

More or less the helmet I made… if you made this helmet from a box.

I just finished my bascinet tonight. Do you know how hard it is to get a box to bend into a sugarloaf shape? While my helmet does still have the occasional angle when it should have a curved surface, it does have a functional flat-faced klappvisor and a bubblewrap aventail, so that totally makes up for it. (It is also padded with bubblewrap. Safety first, kiddies!)

I also made myself a maile shirt from bubblewrap. Next up: a Wisby Type 1 coat of plates. I will be introducing a new element into my repertoire: brown craft paper.

 

Tuscan Milk for Everyone to Adore

From the creative minds that brought you BiC Pens for Her, and by the executive directors of Amazon, comes the true poetic saga of a boy, a cat, and a gallon of $45.00 Tuscan milk.

Make this your only stock and store
By Edgar

41tyHYYrVJLOnce upon a mid-day sunny, while I savored Nuts ‘N Honey,
With my Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gal, 128 fl. oz., I swore
As I went on with my lapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the icebox door.
‘Bad condensor, that,’ I muttered, ‘vibrating the icebox door -
Only this, and nothing more.’

Not to sound like a complainer, but, in an inept half-gainer,
I provoked my bowl to tip and spill its contents on the floor.
Stupefied, I came to muddle over that increasing puddle,
Burgeoning deluge of that which I at present do adore -
Snowy Tuscan wholesomeness exclusively produced offshore -
Purg’ed here for evermore.

7e52e03ae7a04b8af0461210.LAnd the pool so white and silky, filled me with a sense of milky
Ardor of the type fantastic of a loss not known before,
So that now, to still the throbbing of my heart, while gently sobbing,
I retreated, heading straightway for the tempting icebox door -
Heedless of that pitter-patter tapping at the icebox door -
I resolved to have some more.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
‘This,’ said I, ‘requires an extra dram of milk, my favorite pour.’
To the icebox I aspired, motivated to admire
How its avocado pigment complemented my decor.
Then I grasped its woodgrain handle – here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams of Tuscans I had known before
But the light inside was broken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only words there spoken were my whispered words, ‘No more!’
Coke and beer, some ketchup I set eyes on, and an apple core -
Merely this and nothing more.

Tusken MilkBack toward the table turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
‘Surely,’ said I, ‘surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

From the window came a stirring, then, with an incessant purring,
Inside stepped a kitten; mannerlessly did she me ignore.
Not the least obeisance made she; not a minute stopped or stayed she;
But, with mien of lord or lady, withdrew to my dining floor -
Pounced upon the pool of Tuscan spreading o’er my dining floor -
Licked, and lapped, and supped some more.

Then this tiny cat beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grand enthusiasm of the countenance she wore,
Toward the mess she showed no pity, ’til I said, ‘Well, hello, kitty!’
Sought she me with pretty eyes that seemed to open some rapport.
So I pleaded, ‘Tell me, tell me what it is that you implore!’
Quoth the kitten, ‘Get some more.’

I Don’t Like Spam!

I get about 10 times more spam than I get real comments on this blog. Many of the comments are worded to try and sneak past filters (“nice job on this article”). Of course, they don’t sneak past, because they then put a link to their spammy website (I’m talking about you lista de email) a dozen times. You would think that people would get wise to the fact that the vast, vast majority of blogs have spam filters that are catching and deleting these things and they would find some other form of gainful employment

And I’m not sure why anyone bothers advertising a non-English website on an English website anyways. Or why people who do not speak fluent English attempt to spam comments. Do they think their English is better than it is? Do they think that the average English-speaking person who can’t understand what they’re saying will click on their link anyways?

A recent example:

But as Jackie is the co-founder of Lighter Life, is which continues after the operation. On a dressier note, the glamorous little black dress wear pants you’ve purchased a size too small. It comforts me ever still to know that food could be in will come into sight as leaner, toner. Keeps in the fridge provide great that process know 59 suggests number of her not to unwanted weight loss game. D. The Paleo Diet includes: lean meat, fish, poultry, a slightly providing his Harvard as a nutritionist. One way to reinforce your efforts is to those right Thermogenic milk and milk products, seafood, and oils. Who wouldn’t lose weight when you’ll even artificial is 24 14,153 food craving so that you eat less.

On a slightly related note, a dramatic new action-movie trailer for Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKNDml12Big

Anti-Procrastination Day Success!

So, Wednesday, I mentioned that I was going to try to get in the habit of accomplishing certain things (writing, sewing, long-overdue projects) in the evenings so I don’t bounce randomly from project to project, taking forever to get something finished. I borrowed from Ma Ingall’s list of daily chores to create my own project-chore list. Wednesday night was anti-procrastination night, and I chose to tackle an illumination that I started to make for myself, oh, sometime back around the first of the year.

My Scroll

Conversion Scroll

Hey, I just realized I need to sign the thing!

The entire picture (including margins, which aren’t shown in this image) is slightly larger than 11×17″. The main image is from a mahzor (prayerbook–most likely a Passover siddur) known as the Tripartite Mahzor, created somewhere in modern Germany around 1322 (and currently housed in the British Library).

The paint is basic watercolor paint. (When I talk shop with other illuminators, they are all adamant that watercolors aren’t strong enough to do a medieval-style illumination and that only gouache will do. I tried some gouache once, but found it didn’t produce stronger colors than my watercolors and was actually a little harder to work with because it’s thicker. No one actually complains about my actual illuminations looking too weak; I guess I paint my water colors with a heavier hand–and less water–than most people.)

The pseudo-Hebrew font is called SeferAH (free-for-personal use, license-for-commerical use; it’s the font I’m using on the cover for The Flames of Prague).

The original illumination

Construction

The project wasn’t as difficult as you might think (although it was time-consuming; I estimate I spent 35-40 hours on it). I actually can’t draw worth a flip–hence why I copied an extant piece.

I used Photoshop to create a virtual page the size of my actual paper. I resized the original illumination, took off its borders, and centered it, then added the text below it in the Sefer AH font. I took the file to Kinko’s and had them print me a copy on 11×17″ in color.

When I got it home, I centered it on my paper (which is 12×18″, I think) and taped it down. Then I had to use a ruler to draw the edges of my borders. That was actually the trickiest bit because, as you can see, the original picture wasn’t square (my picture is also slightly off center; the top portion leans a bit to the right).

Next, I put it on my light box and traced everything. The borders were actually the only thing I free-handed (and are based on borders seen in other illuminations).

Once everything was drawn out in pencil, I covered the bottom half of the paper–where the calligraphy would be–to keep from spotting it with paint, and I painted the main image. When it was done, I went back to my light box and actually traced all of the letters with a calligraphy pen (because my penmanship isn’t worth a flip, either). Finally I painted the borders and the box with the lion in it (that was actually a last-minute addition that I did to cover up some text that didn’t get used for reasons I won’t mention).

One trick I learned early-on when it comes to painting like this is, when you’re done, go back over your original pencil lines with a black, fine-tipped, felt pen. That really makes the figures pop out and it hides a multitude of sins. (Notice that all of the original figures and vines have a black outline around them.)

In short, if you can trace something and color inside the lines, you too can make a medieval-style illumination.

Thursday Night

While my Wednesday night went really well (although I worked on my illumination for more than an hour–more like five, actually), I vegged out a bit too much last night, so I only got about 30 minutes of work done on The Bloodsuckers–not enough to finish the episode for today. I’ll see what I can get done Sunday.

Apologies 

Speaking of things Jewish, it’s that time of year again: Yom Kippur begins tonight with the Kol Nidre service. It is time for us to beat our breasts (literally) and take a moment to look in the mirror and see what we too often ignore: that we are not the people we want to be, could be, and should be–that we lie and cheat and say unkind things and hurt others and fail to do good things and fail to follow God’s commandments. Beginning tonight, we take a hard look at ourselves, acknowledge our faults, and ask God to forgive us for them (it’s kind of like a Catholic confession and penance that lasts for 25 hours).

But, before we can get God’s forgiveness, we have to get forgiveness from others. In that vein, I want to offer my apologies to anyone I may have offended over the past year, to anyone whose feelings I hurt, for any promises I may have broken or disappointment I may have caused. I do things with the best of intentions, but I’ll be the first to admit that I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease; what sounds fine in my head sometimes comes out horribly offensive and insulting. And sometimes I jump to conclusions or base an opinion on misinformation. And sometimes I promise more than I’m capable of delivering. So, for all those things, I apologize, and, as always, I will endeavor to improve myself over the upcoming year.

For those of you who observe Yom Kippur, have a meaningingful fast; for everyone else, have a good weekend.