Friday, June 21, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies: Man of Steel

Superman is my all time favorite super hero.  Those are the first comics I collected, buying them for ten cents apiece from a drugstore rack.

To my teen self he was handsome, he was romantic (though I always preferred Lana Lang over Lois Lane), and he always triumphed over the bad guys.  His heart was huge enough to encompass all humanity.  He was clever and always outwitted even the most brilliant opponents.

Superman had two sets of loving parents.  There was a terrible sadness inherent in his life at the loss of Jorel and Lara, and then Jonathan Kent.  The man who can do anything can't have what he loves most.

The Fortress of Solitude!  A place to go when he just needed to be alone and think or contemplate or solve some problem.  Everyone needs such a place.

Krypto and Supergirl!  Two beings who were like him, relieving the intense loneliness of being of a different people than the ones here who he loved and protected.

In this movie Clark is bullied throughout his life, the guy who is too gentle to fight back.  He lives drifting from low paying job to low paying job.

In his past is Kevin Kostner as a gruff laborer who does not accept Clark's abilities and he demands he hide them.  He wants Clark to stay his hand and not save others who are in danger, even himself, just to hide who Clark is. 

Ten seasons of Smallville's John Schneider, a warm, loving man who sought to protect his adopted son, but who always guided Clark to do the right thing, to make the choices that helped others even at the risk of exposing Clark's identity, that is the core of Jonathan Kent's character.  A generous decent man representing a humanity worth saving.

Martha Kent played by Diane Lane?  A straggly beaten down woman.  A fit mate for Costner's Jonathan but not the emotional core of warmth, strength and goodness that is Martha Kent.

Theoretically they did this because....?  They wanted to emphasize the otherness of Superman.  So Jorel and Lara and Krypton (which was awesome) get more screen time.  

Jorel as played by Russell Crowe is smart, swashbuckling, incredibly wise, and the man has a bright vision of Kal as someone who can lead the human race to greatness, even as his own world crumbles.

He has love enough for his son to send him away with the key to a future Kryptonian race embedded in his small body. Jorel is able to appear on earth to help guide his son intellectually, morally, strategically.

Enter General Zod, escaped from the Phantom Zone with his crew of evil unfeeling cohorts.  Bent on destroying Kal in revenge for his being imprisoned, and determined to harvest the future of Krypton from Kal's dead body.  Because that is what he was bred to do.

Lois Lane.  I've never liked her since my early comics days.  Selfish, nothing in her tiny head but getting the next story.  Played by many actresses in various repellent ways as befits the character.  Supposedly Superman is drawn to her beauty and bravery.   Only Teri Hatcher on Lois and Clark has made her appealing.

Until now, in a real surprise to me, Amy Adams plays a strong, determined Lois who is warm, loving, accessible.  Who you want to root for not smack.  She was able to be what Diane Lane's Martha was not, an embodiment of all that can be right with humanity.  She reaches out to this lonely, sweet super being and represents something worth saving at any cost. 

Henry Cavill as Superman is a surprisingly vulnerable person, determined to do the right thing just as he should be.  When he tells a general he is an American, and he grew up in Kansas, for heaven's sakes, we know he is in truth as much one of us as he is that other alien species represented badly by Zod.

All in all, a better reboot than I expected from previews.  I think they have a solid ground to build on.  Will we see Jorel again?    Why not send Zod back to the Phantom Zone with his cohorts instead of the old "snap"?  Let's have lots more of Laurence Fishburne's Perry White.   Rebuild the Kent farm so it doesn't look like it is so broken down, yech.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Saturday Night At The Movies: Oz the Great and Powerful

I finally got around to watching Oz the Great and Powerful.  I hadn't seen it in theaters because I didn't like James Franco as the lead and the "romantic storyline" emphasized in trailers really did not seem like the Wonderful Land of Oz.

The plot has small time carnival player Oz schmoozing his way through performances with a new young woman frequently playing the part of an audience member who assists him in his tricks.  He gives them a pep talk before the show and "his grandmother's music box" (of which he has a seemingly endless supply in his pockets) to show how captivated by them he is.

A show goes awry when a little girl in a wheelchair asks him to fix her legs so she can walk again.  She believes in him, she says.  Stopped mid-speel, he is a bit annoyed and hasn't a quick and slick answer for her except no.  The audience, filled with an unusual amount of rowdy and disbelieving farmers, demands that Oz help her.

As they toss objects at him, he flees the stage, only to have the circus strongman chase him as well on behalf of another circus performer (his wife) lovingly holding a music box.

Safe for a moment in his wagon he is visited by a girl who he has more than the usual connection with, but he fobs her off with his tale of dreams of being a Great Man rather than a Good Man.

In crashes the Stongman, Oz disappears through an escape hole in the floor and he's off to climb into a beautiful balloon with Oz emblazoned on it.  Cue the tornado to whirl him to Oz.

Landing in Oz, he is met almost immediately by a beautiful woman in a red velvet hat and jacket with tight black leather pants.  As quickly as you can say Anachronism the movie has problems. 

Doe-eyed Theodora, a witch who seems knowing yet helpless, falls for Oz immediately and plans to be his queen.  Our slick showman is happy to produce a music box and dance the night away with her, but of course he has no attachment.

Off to the Emerald City which has been watched over by Theodora's blatantly evil sister Evanora since the tragic death of the former Wizard King.


The Land of Oz does have some wonders to behold.  Colors are sharp and practically scream look here, look here.

The first view of the Emerald City, done with technology that should be wondrously advanced since 1939 looks like a cheap backdrop painting.  Once in the city, you just see the throne room, no tour on the way to the palace to take in the beautiful city as seen for the first time through the eyes of newcomer Oz.

Later as he is finishing a tour given by Evanora you see the city at night from a height and it looks huge and complex.  It just isn't the introduction to this place which is the heart of Oz that it should have been.  

The great wonder that captivates our showman is a treasure room full of gold and jewels.  It is the contemplation of having this treasure that motivates our con man to leave the city at night, flying monkey companion Finlay in tow, to kill the "evil" witch Glinda.

The illusions Oz produces with the help of "tinkers" are really a great bit of showmanship, worthy of a humbug wizard.    I liked the explanation for how Oz became a face in a cloud manifest, seen by few.

The only person Franco has any chemistry with in the film is the China Girl.  I don't know why but in every scene he has with her, he is warm and charming and he connects to another human being, even though she is made of china. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bookish Travels: Walking Through Adventure

Traveling to faraway places is always wonderful.  Imagine if while you're traveling you have a handy guide to the area and the settings of beloved books.  You can mark literary landmarks on your map and physically immerse yourself in the places your beloved characters have been. Not all of these are in print, but you can easily get them via Interlibrary Loan or buy them used on

Here are a few guides to help you find your way:

Novel Destinations: literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon

A Literary Guide to London by Ed Glinert

Once Upon a Time in Great Britain by Melanie Wentz

Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer's City by Katharine Reeve

Storybook Travels From Eloise's New Your to Harry Potter's London: Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children's Literature by Colleen Dunn Bates & Susan Latempa

Traveling Literary America: a Complete Guide to Literary Landmarks by B.J. Welborn

A Reader's Guide to Writer's London by Ian Cunningham

Literary London a Street by Street Guide by Ed Glinert

Off the Beaten Page: the best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs and Girls on Getaways by Terri Peterson Smith

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Clever Cloches (not)

Well, desperate, not so clever.  In my determination to cover my seedlings at night I carved the botton off of a Tidy Cat Plastic Container and a big old Hawaiian Punch plastic bottle.  I'm also using a Folgers empty plastic container on a tomato.

I'm better prepared some years and have saved back gallon milk jugs which are GREAT with the bottoms sliced off. You can easily vent the container by taking off the cap.

I wish I drank more pop so I had some liter bottles to use but noooo, June 8th and I'm scrabbling for things to protect my babies from the cold.

On the plus side I seem to have plenty of empty tp rolls to use as cutworm collars for my seedlings...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Garden Note: Still One Cool Cucumber...

Where on earth did that phrase come from, since cucumbers do not like cool weather and mine are sort of paused in their growth and happiness cycle by the stuntingly cool night and day temps.

Monday evening I did not even get out there after working late to cover everyone.  Major Guilt.  Everything looked ok yesterday except for one of the Tomato Easy Pick seedlings which actually sort of curled up the day I put it in.  I have been rather faithfully watching to see if it sent out a happy new tentative leaf but noo.  Gotta yank it tonight and make room for a Krim or Superbush which will not be germinating in this frosty lifetime.

Nobody said it was easy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cold Weather Gardening in June

I've been waiting for it to WARM UP so that I could put in my warm weather veggies.  This weekend it is JUNE, right?  Lovely warm June!

Cucumbers, Swiss Chard and two types of lettuce.

Sweating during the day working in the sun and having to cover my plants and stuff things back in the mini-greenhouses at night. 47 and 50 something at night, and 50s predicted at night all this week.

I thought last week's hail and rain damaged some of my seedings but I'm now thinking something is going into the greenhouses at night and shearing off my morning glories and tomatoes.  This in addition to the cold is just too much.

I finally got my Yukon Gold seed potato bag planted.  The bag really isn't too big.

Theoretically you can start potatoes in it in March and April, according to the directions.  I had a thought maybe they could be started in the garage, but reading the instructions further, they want you to pour a gallon of water a day into the bag.  Hmmm.  Not so good in the garage.  I could if the weather is less snowy into April next year go ahead and try it outside.

I used my trusty new Swiss Army knife to cut of sections of the potato with eyes to plant.  Afterwards I was thinking maybe I should have left more potato with each eye section but if I putzed around making sure I had done that right those potatoes would never get in the bag. 

I was a wild thing and also put a few sections of potato with lesser eye sprouts in a raised bed.  None of the eyes were the one inch long desirable size.  We shall see if I get no potatoes or a plethora of potatoes.  Gotta try stuff.

Since only three of my tomato seedlings survived the hail massacre, I planted a row of Black Krim and Super Bush tomatoes each.  These are last year's seed so we may get nada, but again, I have all these nice raised beds, I should just TRY STUFF.  No harm no foul.  Anything that sprouts and lives is just great.  Especially this year.

I cleaned out a bed on the west side, the most gnarly looking and right by the street.  It took maybe two hours just because of dead Siberian Iris foliage which would have been sooo manageable if I had cut it down last fall or early spring.  Then again, my defense is that we never got an early spring.

All of my tropical house plants outside are taking this cold really well.  I keep waiting to look out after another cold night and they've all lost all of their leaves but noooo.

Box Elder Bugs remain noxiously clingy.  I wore a ratty shirt outside to work yesterday and I didn't notice a hole in the shoulder right off.   I must have seen it out of the corner of my eye ten times and thought it was a Box Elder, and I slapped that hole in my shirt silly, let me tell you.

I finally put some corn in a bed.  I buy seed for corn every year meaning to plant some someplace, maybe even in a container (some grow everything in a pot on your balcony blog made me thing containers would work).   It is in a couple of rows in a 2 x 6 ft raised bed, carefully spaced.  Knee high by the Fourth of July is unlikely but it would be fun if it worked.

Fig A "Field of Early Glow Corn"

I'm moving alot of plants this year so I am going to have to do a combination of potting things up and moving directly from one spot to another.

My game plan is I will inventory what needs to be moved, then plot out where I can most likely put the transplants, then voila, move those puppies.  I'm sure to have everything on the east side by summers end.  (wink).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Working on a Book Blog

Grumble grumble.  I find that I like doing book reviews but I often have trouble writing them.  It is like a book report in school or something. 

Still, recently an author actually asked me if I would like an arc of a new title and agh I've been waiting for this sequel for over a year and so I said YES.  I give my mailing address and no book.  Finally it turns out only a select few people with actual book blogs apparently were getting arcs and those who occasionally write reviews but have other completely silly topics on their blogs were Bozos Non Grata.   No arc for you!

I decided to make YET ANOTHER blog that is all books.  I'll still talk about books here but a nice full review will be on the Billionth Book Blog in the Universe.  Maybe I should have called it that, hmmm.

Anywho, I'm not linking to this bookish blog until I have at least ten reviews to get it started.  There will be no ads, no links to Amazon.  Back, I say back! 

I might link to Good Reads because authors really seem to think it helps them, and I want to share the good reading I do in as many ways as possible.

I'm retiring this fall, as you know, so I should be able to have plenty more time to read and recommend.

Watch this space!

6/12/13  Yo ho! I have completed one review!  9 to go!  I have set up the pages for about the next five, so I've got my books picked out, it is just a matter of putting virtual keyboard to virtual paper.

Ready for Google Reader to Poof

I finally sat down with my feed list from Google Reader.  I put anything I'd really like to see here and some blogs that I like ok but they have too many ads for my taste or they aren't updated much I just stuck in favorites.

I actually had to Google Google Reader to get to it, I looked this week in my list of apps or whatever from Google and it isn't anyplace to be seen.  I suppose they don't want people going all wild and subscribing to feeds.  Bad dogs.

I enjoy my current blogroll and have been tweaking it lately. It has my many interests pretty well covered.  I am at 85 and I could be mis-remembering, but I think the limit is 144 blogs in the roll.  Keeping an eye on it and will let you know.