Showing posts from January, 2015

Oscars!: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Movie:The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature Film
Disclaimer: I saw the Japanese language version with subtitles, not the dubbed version for American audiences. 
Princess Kaguya is set during the Heian period of Japan. Kaguya is discovered by a woodcutter as a perfect tiny person in a bamboo stalk, whom he brings home, where she transforms into an infant. He and his wife, being older and having no children, adopt her and raise her as their own -- except that she grows super fast, is very precocious, and he keeps finding things in the bamboo stalks like gold and rich robes for her. Eventually he decides that he is supposed to take her to the capital and ensure that she is raised like a noble princess, and from there her life takes a downturn. She is changed from the carefree child to a beautiful proper Heian lady who is always sad. When suitors come calling, however, that is when the story becomes complicated and the truth of the little bamboo baby is rev…

Oscars!: Into the Woods

Movie:Into the Woods
Oscar Nominations: Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Costumes, Best Production Design

Okay, so it's worthwhile to start by saying that I'm a fan of the original play. I have never seen it done in person, but I've seen the wonderful recording of it on Broadway, with Bernadette Peters playing the Witch, and I've listened to the soundtrack for ages.

Resultingly, I feel like Rob Marshall did a surprisingly good job at bringing it to the screen, but that it's very much DISNEY's Into the Woods, and the entire second half of the movie reflects that. Gone are the darker elements of Sondheim and Lapine's musical -- Rapunzel doesn't die, and the Prince doesn't actually sleep with the Baker's Wife, for example. We don't get the reprise of the songs, and things are shifted around -- "No More," one of my favorite songs, is completely absent for example, and the Narrator part is written out entirely. The end result is that th…

Being a one-car household

So, since the beginning of the semester, my husband and I have been trying out co-commuting, effectively pretending that we only have one car (my car's lease is up and it's due back to the dealership on the 7th). In doing so, I have discovered a few things:

1) I don't mind being without a car, for the most part. I miss my radio station (he hates listening to the radio) and I miss my podcasts (his car is old and doesn't have an iPhone-compatible radio) but I can find other times and ways to enjoy these things.

2) Being on campus for longer each day has proven to be useful to my work. I'm sad about this -- I want to be able to work as well at home as I can at school, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I blame the corgi -- because if you have a corgi, it only makes sense to blame them. :)

3) I've started having my evenings largely free, while getting more work done during the day. This is actually pretty good for my sanity (and necessary during Oscar season…

Oscars!: Big Hero 6

Movie:Big Hero 6 Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature Film
Unlike most of the listed Oscar films, I saw this one earlier this year -- twice, in fact. I narrowly avoided seeing it a third time, not because I didn't like it, but because I don't get to see that many movies and I had qualifying exams to study for, people. So yeah. 
Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel property; I never read the comic book, so I can't say much about whether or not it's true to the source material. The story revolves around 14-yr-old supergenius Hiro Hamada and his search for his big brother Tadashi's killer, helped by Baymax, a medical assistant robot Tadashi built, and Tadashi's fellow engineering students at "nerd school," or San Fransokyo Tech, in the robotics department. 
So, barring weather and scenery, SFT is effectively Case Western Reserve University. That means there's a lot of familiar stuff for me in this show -- they handle the academic science backdrop of the…

Oscars!: Birdman

Movie:Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director

So. Birdman. I admit, I was not looking forward to this movie, though many of my friends were. I think the chance to see a serious film that seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole comic-movie phenomenon was greatly appealing for a goodly number of people. I'll bet not one of them was expecting what they got.

We went in during the previews and sat down, and the opening credits begin to roll, and at the end of them, there's a quote from Raymond Carver:

“And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.”
― Raymond Carver, A New Path to the Waterfall That sets the tone for the central struggle for Riggan Thompson, the central character (played brilliantly by …

Oscars!: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Movie: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature Film

Okay, so let's just say that I'm not happy about a lot of things with the Oscars this year. The blatant race and gender issues, the make up of the Academy membership, the whole American Sniper issues... and let's not forget that for animated films, both The Lego Movie and The Book of Life were left out of the final nominees, which is pretty much ludicrous on all fronts, given that The Boxtrolls got in there. But that's neither here nor there in the end, except to say that, as in many years, I take issue with some facets of how the particularly white Academy sausage was made this year. But, all the issues in the world won't get an Oscars dinner on the table, and I enjoy that tradition too much to abandon it altogether. To the movie, then!

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is one I saw earlier in the year and watched again the other night with my stepkids. I am wholly in the thrall of Toothless, w…


Okay, so my husband and I (really, it started with him and I bought into it) enjoy the Oscars. Yes, it's problematic on a number of levels. No, the Academy's choices don't reflect quality for a year as a whole, or the filmgoing public at large -- they're old, rich, white, film guys, basically, and that's oh-so-notably reflected in their choices. That being said... well, it's still a fun party.

So here's how this goes. We try to watch all the Oscar nominated films, generally giving a miss to at least some of the foreign films (really hard to come by in Cleveland), the shorts, and the documentaries. Yes, Cedar Lee does its best to get them, but between limitations of time and money, generally something has to give. That leaves us with the acting, writing, directing, and technical awards, pretty much.

We watch these movies until the awards show rolls around, and then we have a dinner party in which we cook one dish for each Best Picture nomination. We all the…

Second Sock Malaise

This sock. This OMG sock. I am so over this sock, I cannot even tell you. And yet, it is not the sock's fault. It has done nothing wrong.

But let me start again.

So, once upon a time, I was involved in a Changeling: The Lost game that my husband ran. You could read about it here, if you wanted. In a fit of "I really don't know what I'm saying here" I decided to make each player a pair of socks inspired by their character. That fact that I had only made two, only partially successful, pair of plain socks previously did nothing to dissuade me; I felt it would be a learning experience. Oh boy, was it ever.

So, the first socks I chose were two-color repeating pattern colorwork. They also turned out to be weirdly fitting, and I chose the wrong yarn for them -- which is why my husband got the first pair. I still owe him a competent pair of socks, since he liked them anyway and wore a hole in them.

The second pair was overbig -- I chose the wrong size, but told myself …

The Many Faces of Gaming -- or, whose table is it, anyway?

So, today I found a thoughtful and well-written piece by Eytan Bernstein published over at Kobold Press called "The Many Faces of Gaming: Female Gamers." I appreciated his thoughtful and considered approach to the topic women in gaming, but even as I read it, and thought about how people I admire cared enough to approach this topic with care and consideration (Wolfgang and Shelly Baur are both friends and awesome people, for example, and I have nothing but good words for Kobold Press)... something bothered me. Again, no slight toward anyone behind the article. It just... it's like a splinter you can't see, you know? It's not anything you realizing until something rubs up against it.

So I thought about it a lot, and finally, I realized what it came down to. Eytan's piece is careful in counseling how to deal with women gamers from a male perspective and ensure that your gaming group is an inclusive, welcoming place. There's nothing wrong with that. That so…

My Children!

So my boys were here for the holidays -- only one week this time, as they spent one week of vacation at my mom's house visiting their grandparents and their uncle's family. Alisdair is newly interested in playing the guitar, while William has adopted "dapper" as his new primary philosophy. Both boys were in good health and good spirits, and we had a very good time mostly hanging around the house, with outings to Nana's for New Year's Dinner and lazer tag for fun. Both boys are taller than me, and my youngest is now within an inch of my eldest's height.

I am fascinated by my boys, in that I can start to see the adults they'll become. I don't know whether this is because I see them only sporadically these days, or whether I'd be doing it regardless, but I'm entirely enthralled by it. Alisdair is quiet and thoughtful and kind and funny, and starting to come into his own -- his time at an appropriately nerd-friendly college in some STEM caree…

Character Creation: Blue Rose

Character Creation!

Okay, so since we're on break, it's time to make a character, and thus Matt and Al and I will engage in creating one for a game that is long overdue: Blue Rose. Currently out of print (to my knowledge) Blue Rose was one of the first overtly inclusive RPGs, inspired by the fantasy romance properties of Mercedes Lackey, among others, where "fantasy romance" really means "fantasy that isn't primarily a heterosexual male fantasy," because really it's all fantasy no matter what. Still, the focus is on community and groups, inclusion instead of exclusion, and on that score "romantic fantasy" is the moniker the game itself chooses.

Blue Rose is a True20 game, so some of this is going to be super familiar system-wise. The setting is the kingdom of Aldis, which has entered an era of peace after the Shadow Wars of the Sorceror Kings. Nearby kingdoms still struggle under the Shadow, but the heroes of Aldis strive to defend the Lig…