Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is This a Joke?

Let me rephrase that: is this a joke on purpose?

This one image pretty much encapsulates every single reason I think the X-Men movies are incredibly stupid.

McDonaldland Family Photo

I know I'm not supposed to love this kind of stuff, but I do. The McDonaldland characters make me nostalgic. Show me a Fry Guy and I'm a kid again. This commercial (it's going to be either charming or disgusting for you) actually has Captain Crook and the Professor and predates Birdie. Good stuff.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Hunger Games

Oh, wow, did I like this book.

I think I'm late to the party on this one, but I've been hearing a lot about it for the past six months or so, and I figured now was as good a time as any. I didn't really know what it was about or what to expect, but I was pulled in and blown away by the whole thing.

The book is about a future America where the Capitol rules over 12 Districts. A 13th was destroyed in a revolt, and as punishment for that revolt, every District has an annual drawing to send two Tributes to fight in the Hunger Games, a survival competition that will only have one winner. It serves as a reminder of the power of the Capitol and the humiliation of the Districts; the cruel twist is that the Tributes are always between the ages of 12 and 18.

The girl Tribute from District 12 is Katniss Everdeen, who poaches in the woods and is good with a bow. It's all about her journey from the extreme poverty of her home to the alien decadence of the Capitol. She trains for the Games with her fellow Tribute, Peeta, a classmate who once helped her when she was starving. When she enters the games she knows she'll have to eventually kill him in order to live; what complicates matters is that, just before the Games begin, he reveals to the audience that he's been in love with her for years.

So when we get into the Games themselves--a very visceral, emotional, dark experience--Katniss is not only running for her life, she's trying to decide where her loyalties can lie with the other players, especially Peeta, even though always looming in her mind is the knowledge that any alliances will be temporary, because there can only be one winner.

The Hunger Games are brutal. Katniss is stung by wasps and hallucinates; she has to listen, still, as another Tribute is murdered nearby; she is badly burned when the Gamemakers--who can manipulate the environment to make the games more interesting--set up a wall of flame in the middle of the night. Her every move is being televised, but Suzanne Collins wisely never takes us to the outside world once Katniss is in the arena. The isolation puts us more immediately in Katniss' struggle to survive. And as a result, it's a very hard book to put down. It's intense the whole way through, but you just have to follow through to the end because you're almost immediately invested in her.

I really dug it. This is technically a young adult novel, but Suzanne Collins doesn't shy away from any details; the contest is brutal and dark, and at times intentionally cruel, but the love story and the emotional resonance of Katniss' poverty and her struggle are also given weight and depth. They are reflected in the direness of the games and the powerlessness of these teenagers against the political machine. It's one hell of a fulfilling experience.

Read it. Seriously.

TV Report

Some random, unordered stuff.

:: So, so glad to have Parks & Recreation back. It's been too long, Ron fucking Swanson. Too long.

:: You know, I am beyond done with Big Love. Last season was incredibly painful, and since it was announced that this will be the final season, I thought I'd just stick it out and see how it ends, but then I thought about how this show has never been wholly satisfying to me. I just don't care anymore, so I don't need to sit and watch it. It doesn't help that Bill Paxton's main character, Bill Henrickson, has been an almighty weeny the whole time. He's just an unlikable jackass, and any goodwill I had towards the wives is just used up. I'm done.

:: I'm also done trying to watch Shameless on Showtime. I just don't give a shit. I tried, but it just isn't drawing me in. It's trying so hard to turn its quirkiness into preciousness. I'm not surprised it's based on a British show, because it reminds me of the inexplicably popular Skins, which has the same kind of tone of "Ain't we cute?" smarm that I just don't enjoy. I keep thinking Shameless is going to embrace some of the inherent darkness and go a little edgier, but just two episodes in its cute approach is unbearable. William H. Macy's character should be played a little deeper instead of for laughs. And frankly, Emmy Rossum is still just the extremely poor man's Anne Hathaway to me.

:: Loved the funeral for Marshall's father on How I Met Your Mother. It's been an uneven season, but Jason Segel acted that episode so beautifully. I think they've hit a few out of the park, and that episode--alternately funny, touching, sweet, devastating, and uplifting--was one of the best.

:: Last night's episode of The Big Bang Theory was terrific. The best episodes are the ones where they get all of the characters together and just let their personalities butt up against one another. Those are my favorites. And thank you, thank you for getting Melissa Rauch into that episode. I love the dynamic with Bernadette, and I think Mayim Bialik is fitting in much better. Good stuff.

:: I watched CSI last night because Dita Von Teese was on it. She's not an actress, but she was fun and sexy. The show itself is worse than I remembered (I only saw it a few times in the first season 170 years ago). CSI is yet another show that makes me think I've been too hard on Two and a Half Men.

:: The Office continues to be painful.

:: I hear Liam Neeson is going to play Qui-Gon Jinn on a couple episodes of The Clone Wars. This makes me very excited. There's a character I'd really like to see again.

:: I know no one cares, but I was bummed by the way Hannah Montana ended its final episode. It was just like the movie--they took an adult decision away from her for idiotic commercial reasons. They've done a good job this season of having Miley reveal her identity. And they've had her deal with the consequences (no more privacy, for example). It's important to end the whole enterprise by maturing Miley.

What I hated about the movie is that she made a mature decision to give up her Hannah identity because it was too hard on her family, only to take the decision away in a convoluted fashion. In the final episode, she's supposed to go away to college with her best friend Lily and instead takes a movie that is the opportunity of her career. We get the scene where Miley and Lily say goodbye and choose their own paths. And here we get a great opportunity to show kids today that following your own path doesn't have to mean growing apart from your friends. And then, in the end, Miley decides to not do the movie and go to college with her best friend, which seems like an immature, stupid decision to me. Lily really needs to learn that Miley can't drop everything just to be her best friend, and Miley needs to learn she can be a professional and it doesn't mean she's losing touch with the people she loves... and instead we get yet another example of how women can't have careers without becoming hollow. So fucking lame.

:: I'm annoyed that they're moving Hellcats to Tuesday. It's going to die against American Idol. Bad enough it's been in reruns for 6 or 8 weeks and it was going in a bad direction. Tis, Aly, it was fun while it lasted.

:: You know, even I'm starting to get sick of the Kardashians. That's saying something.

The Subtle Presence of Evil in the Hundred Acre Wood

I thought this was a cute poster. A lot of the animation snobs online didn't like it. They all said this one was much better:

But to me, this was has a sinister undertone. I ask you: why is the specter of the Horned King looming over Pooh and his friends, poised to strike?

To wit:
Seriously, I don't know what's going on in this movie, but if Pooh pulls out a sword and throws down with the forces of black magic, this is either going to be the worst or the single best Pooh adventure of all time.

Punky QB and the Fridge for Coke

With the Bears in the Superbowl again, these are the kinds of memories shooting back to me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Surgery Day Today

Thanks everyone for all of the messages of encouragement on my last post. I feel today, more than I did a few days ago, like we're going to be okay. Your support means a lot; just a kudos or a hang in there really helps.

(And Rose, wow... I can't even... you're astonishing.)

This morning we got up early and let Thumper run around and eat. He's always thrilled when he gets out of the cage early in the morning. The medicine has been a giant help; the swelling is down and he doesn't seem to be in as much pain. He's actually able to eat normally now--his appetite is back, which is nice, because he was down from 6 to 4 pounds!--and he's very playful and mischievous again. He wasn't thrilled to be going back to the vet so soon, especially since we had to drop him off and leave him there, which always makes me feel a little bad. (We adopted him five years ago at Petco, and his previous owners neglected him--I always worry that he thinks we're abandoning him, too.) They say they'll be done around 3 or 4 this afternoon, so I'm not letting it get to me. I trust our vet (we always go to this office to get Thumper's claws trimmed), and I'm sure he'll be fine. It's just weird not having him at home for the first time in half a decade.

The Care Credit payments will be lower, so we should have it paid off in a month or two. Then we can move on to the tires we need and Becca's glasses (they broke, but thankfully she has eyecare insurance), and relax a little bit more. I'm just glad Thumper's going to be alright and he won't be hurting anymore. It's been nice just getting the medicine in him and seeing him in a better mood--at least when we're not actually giving him the medicine, which has to go in his mouth. To do it, we have to pick him up, cradle him on his back like a baby, and get those baby syringes in his mouth so he can suck them back. He hates being picked up--I don't know what his original family did to him--and he kicks and squirms. Today he actually drew blood on my wrists. Just a couple of long-since-closed puncture wounds, but it stings when it happens. He'll be getting the medicine for another week or so, twice a day, so he'll be thrilled about that...

Oh, and it's snowing and icy today... I'm really glad Becca's been so understanding about my phobias. I've been doing okay with her driving as long as I don't watch the road. I knew I was going to have to tough it out at some point, so it might as well have been today, because we're not going to delay Thumper's surgery. I did better than I thought I would, and I guess I'll do it again this afternoon so we can bring our little guy home.

I am wiped out, though. But I'm feeling really good at the same time.

EDIT 11:20 AM: Vet called, and Thumper is out of surgery. He's sleeping normally and came through it fine; his teeth are lining up normally, and they didn't have to pull any of them, which was a concern this morning. They're going to call when he's awake and we can come pick him up.

Weight lifted.

EDIT 4:23 PM: Thumper's home. He's still a little dopey from the anesthetic, but he's going to be fine. Very, very glad.

Now on to the next thing...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Weeks Into 2011...

... and it's already a mixed bag.

Good: I'm making really good strides in breaking my agoraphobia and letting other people drive me around (I let my Dad do it, too, and I came through it fine).

Bad: The brakes on our only car have been grinding, making it a scary drive, even for Becca, who is a much calmer driver than I am.

Good: We scraped together $500 and found a local mechanic that has great word of mouth and online reviews.

Bad: There's more wrong with the car than just the brakes (turns out, by the way, the problem is a caliper that isn't releasing, shaving the rotor to shit and spitting out metal that's rusting the tire).

Good: They give us a $388 estimate to fix the entire brake system and offer to rotate, balance, and fill the tires for free.

Bad: One of their guys has to drive us home, and he is a maniac behind the wheel.

Good: I manage to take it in stride, get through it, and keep breathing the whole time.

Bad: There's even more that needs to be fixed on the car.

Good: They give us an estimate for future new tires and tell us, when we can afford them, they can have them the next day. And, the repairs actually come in under the estimate, at $361, which is something I've never experienced in my life. So we not only have a new mechanic, but we have some extra money that will really help us with groceries.

Bad: Thumper stopped eating.

Good: There's a vet in town who has experience caring for rabbits and he can see us that night.

Bad: Thumper has a molar occlusion from overgrown teeth, so we need to take home some medicine and Thumper needs to have surgery (including anesthetic) to file down his teeth.

Good: We have the extra money to pay for the visit.

Bad: The visit itself costs about $180 more than we were expecting, wiping out our grocery money. Plus, the estimate for the surgery is between $400 and $570.

Good: Turns out I qualify for Care Credit and can use it to pay for Thumper's surgery.

Bad: Now I have, for the first time in my life, a credit card.

Good: Hey, I must have better credit than I thought.

Trying not to tear my hair out worrying about my rabbit. All will be well...

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Song of the Week: "We Gotta Get You a Woman"

Todd Rundgren, 1970.

Susannah York 1939-2011