New Moon

I thoroughly enjoyed the latest movie from the Twilight series, New Moon. If you know me at all, you know my deep and abiding love for both vampire stories and stories set in high schools, so this series forms a great combination. I’m not going to sit here and tell you why it isn’t lame for me to be into this stuff, though. If you’re not into the Twilight books and movies, catch up with me again tomorrow — I’ll still be slogging away at the keyboard for National Blog Posting Month!

OK then. Now that it’s just us fans left hanging around, I can tell you what I loved about the movie! Some spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book. If you have read the book, nothing I tell you will surprise you, so feel free to proceed.

Edited to Add: Please move along if you have no interest in seeing the movie. Thanks.

I really was/am not a fan of Jacob in the books. The way he’s written, he just seems to me to be annoying and not even very cute. In the movies, on the other hand, I kind of love Jacob. Taylor Lautner made him much more likeable in the first movie, even with that annoying wig on. (Luckily in New Moon he goes to his own naturally short hair.) He just seems to be such an easy-wheeling kind of guy, and the scenes between Jacob and Bella had great chemistry.

JACOB: Wait, why am I wearing this shirt?
JACOB: Wait, why am I wearing this shirt? BELLA: Good question.

The rest of the werewolf pack added their own certain something to the film, if you know what I am saying, Ladies, and I think that you do.

Oh, indeed. That is better.
Oh, indeed. That is better.

As in Twilight, I also really enjoyed the other high-school characters when they were around. The awkward date with Mike and Jacob was done really well, and Jessica was hilarious in her scenes once again.

Subtle, guys. Subtle.
Subtle, guys. Subtle.

For me, the biggest improvement made in New Moon was the near absence of Bella’s voice-over narration. I hated that element in Twilight. It felt as if we had to sit and listen to Kristen Stewart read out the whole entire novel in all its silly prose. This time the filmmakers made the wise decision to limit that, and to give it some additional structural purpose above and beyond just voice-over narration (we hear Bella reading emails she has sent to Alice and see them being bounced back to her, unopened).

The makeup and special effects were also much better this time around. I think they had a bigger budget and it showed. The sparkling was more readable on screen and the vampires actually looked creepily supernatural as opposed to just weirdly pale like they did in Twilight (where paleness seemed to be the rule for all the characters anyway, making it not even really that weird).

My only problem with the movie was that this time around they opted to film in British Columbia instead of in Oregon — and while sure, most viewers can’t tell the difference, it means that I can’t anoyingly nudge people while watching the film and be all “HEY THAT’S IN OREGON YOU KNOW. I USED TO LIVE THERE. IT REALLY IS THAT PRETTY.”

While I’m thinking of things that could be described as “pretty,” here is a picture of Robert Pattinson.

Oh, who, me?
Oh, who, me?

I realized I didn’t have one in this review and thought to myself, “TRAVESTY.” So there it is — no need to thank me!

I quite like the soundtrack, too. While I think they really missed an opportunity by not including Blitzen Trapper’s “Furr” (C’mon! It’s a Pacific Northwest band, singing a sad song about a were-dog looking for love. Seriously.), they did include a lot of great artists, such as Thom Yorke, Lykke Li, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Bon Iver, and more. It’s pretty all right.

Here’s the big single, Death Cab for Cutie’s “Meet Me on the Equinox.” The first time I heard this video it was on MTV’s morning show, where they actually play videos, called “AMTV.” I looked up from my breakfast at the first sounds of Ben Gibbard’s voice, and Reader, you had better believe I squeed like a 12-year-old girl when I saw that not only was it a new DCFC song but it was from the New Moon sountrack. That pretty much made my morning. Here you go:

[Sorry about the stupid ad you have to watch there. Also, the video is not available on YouTube due to copyright stuff, so if you’re outside the US and unable to see this MTV-based embed, um, I don’t know what to tell you! Sorry! ]

Running and Vampires: A Good Start to the Break

On the first (unofficial) day of my Thanksgiving break, I actually got up at 7:00 AM to go running.  I suck at vacations.  Now, I did not actually step out the door at that hour.  What I did was slowly putter around feeding the animals, getting dressed, checking email, and sitting on the couch and staring into space.  I turned the TV on for a while and tried to be lazy, but eventually I found myself heading out before 8:00 to do my 4.5 miles.

Due to a problem with my GPS thingy on my phone, I wound up running quite a bit farther than planned — after I got home, I checked the recorded map only to find that it had tracked my run as if I had zig-zagged across the block a few times, ostensibly leaping across fences and buildings.  If I had done that instead of running around that last block like a normal mortal, I guess I could have covered all that distance while only running 4.8 miles, as the GPS indicated, but it turns out that I actually ran 5.25 miles.  That’s officially the farthest I have ever run! But it’s still 2.25 miles shy of what I’ll have to do for the 12K race next month.  I’m finally starting to feel like that distance will be completely manageable.

In other news, I went to see the newest installment of the Twilight movie franchise, New Moon. Yes, on opening day. Yes, like a huge nerd.  I give the movie an A+ for the prevalence of hot, shirtless dudes.  If you’d like to hear any more of my thoughts on it, however (and I promise not all my thoughts are lasciviously motivated), you’ll have to wait until I feel like posting a proper review.

Many Little Things

Sometimes I don’t write a post here because I have so many little things rattling around in my head and no thematic or structural way to tie them all together into a pleasing and cohesive whole and I can’t decide which of the many things is important enough to warrant its own post and then I am paralyzed with inaction. JUST LIKE HAMLET. These are the burdens of being a literary-academic-type person.  Life is hard.
At any rate, I am going to buck convention like the loose cannon I am and give you a list of ranjom junk.  ONWARD!
1. As much as I have turned a corner and become a fit and sporty girl recently, I find that in many areas I am still a bit of a fraud. Example: bicycle tires.  I am not, apparently, even capable of buying the correct pump for my bike tires.  I tried to top off a tire the other day and I think I managed to let more air out than I actually put in.  I suspect I may need a new tube, but Reader, do you think I know how to change a tube? I do not. Bike shop it is.  Maybe the strapping young gentleman there can teach me a thing or two about pumping my tubes. OOPS!
2. In forther sports-related nonsense (Look, if you’re not interested in my attempts at sporting, you may want to tune out for a while), I think I need to at least briefly take a Swimming for Fitness or Swimming for Triathlon class if I am going to get my form correct.  I found one locally and I don’t even have to be a member of that gym to sign up for the class.  Excellent, right? Except it meets at 5:00 AM. As in five o’clock in the morning. On the same days I teach, no less. I may wait until January for this because at least then I won’t be teaching those days, but either way, OMG. Five in the morning.  Hold me.
3. The job market postings are out and I am busily perusing.  Unfortunately, the number one item on The List is going to be pretty hard to accomplish this year as a grand total of ONE job is located on the West Coast and it is not anywhere near the areas I was hoping to find myself.  Nonetheless I will soldier on, applying for that one job and all the other less desirably located ones. Someone please hire me, KTHXBAI.
4. My cinema-loving friends have been dragging me out to see movies in the actual cinema lately, and I have to admit it has been almost an embarrassment of riches.  Zombieland and Whip It were both unexpectedly great and Where The Wild Things Are comes out this weekend.  I can’t wait!  I do have a confession about that one, though: while everybody is busy jizzing their pants about Where The Wild Things Are because it was (apparently/allegedly) EVERYONE’S favorite childhood book (really? I mean, I kind of don’t believe that’s true), I have to say I never really cared about that book as a kid.  I think by the time I was aware of its existence I was already beyond it in terms of reading level. I’m solely excited about the film because of the awesome conjunction of Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze and because the aesthetics of the trailer seem awesome.  There, I said it.

Sometimes I don’t write a post here because I have so many little things rattling around in my head and no thematic or structural way to tie them all together into a pleasing and cohesive whole and I can’t decide which of the many things is important enough to warrant its own post and then I am paralyzed with inaction. JUST LIKE HAMLET. These are the burdens of being a literary-academic-type person.  Life is hard.

At any rate, I am going to buck convention like the loose cannon I am and give you a list of random junk.

ONWARD!

1. As much as I have turned a corner and become a fit and sporty girl recently, I find that in many areas I am still a bit of a fraud. Example: bicycle tires.  I am not, apparently, even capable of buying the correct pump for my bike tires.  I tried to top off a tire the other day and I think I managed to let more air out than I actually put in.  I suspect I may need a new tube, but Reader, do you think I know how to change a tube? I do not. Bike shop it is.  Maybe the strapping young gentleman there can teach me a thing or two about pumping my tubes. [Oh yes, I did.]

2. In further sports-related nonsense (Look, if you’re not interested in my attempts at sporting, you may want to tune out for a while), I think I need to at least briefly take a “Swimming for Fitness” or “Swimming for Triathlon” class if I am going to get my form correct.  I found one locally and I don’t even have to be a member of that gym to sign up for the class.  Excellent, right? Except it meets at 5:00 AM. As in five o’clock in the morning. On the same days I teach, no less. I may wait until January for this because at least then I won’t be teaching those days, but either way, OMG. Five in the morning.  Hold me.

3. The job market postings are out and I am dutifully perusing.  Unfortunately, the number one item on The List is going to be pretty hard to accomplish this year as a grand total of ONE job is located on the West Coast and it is not anywhere near the areas I was hoping to find myself.  Nonetheless I will soldier on, applying for that one job and all the other less desirably located ones. Someone please hire me, KTHXBAI.

4. My cinema-loving friends have been dragging me out to see movies in the actual cinema lately, and I have to admit it has been almost an embarrassment of riches.  Zombieland and Whip It were both unexpectedly great and Where The Wild Things Are comes out this weekend.  I can’t wait!  I do have a confession about that one, though: while everybody is busy jizzing their pants about Where The Wild Things Are because it was (apparently/allegedly) EVERYONE’S favorite childhood book (really? I mean, I kind of don’t believe that’s true), I have to say I never really cared about that book as a kid.  I think by the time I was aware of its existence I was already beyond it in terms of reading level. I’m solely excited about the film because of the awesome conjunction of Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze and because the aesthetics of the trailer seem awesome.  There, I said it.

Perfect Weekend

This weekend has been great so far – it’s been the first weekend since the start of June that I haven’t had huge piles of papers or tests waiting to be graded.  With freedom like this I usually don’t know what to do with myself, but not this time.  I actually made great use of the weekend if I do say so.

It started on Saturday morning when I found myself awake at 8:00 in the morning looking out at a perfectly blue, cloudless sky and thought it looked like the ideal morning for a bike ride.  I rode all around a new route and was the happy recipient of many friendly waves and “good mornings.” [This was not, as you can imagine, in my own neighborhood, where people are far more likely to be four-star  General Douchebags and Major Lamewads.] My ride, especially the hilly parts, went better than ever thanks to smarter gearing and remembering to bring a water bottle.

That afternoon I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with my friend Brunbec, who had gone with me to the theater for the Harry Potter marathon earlier in the week where we caught films 3, 4, and 5.  We both thought the 6th one to be the best so far – the set design and location are all new in this one, and they are just breathtakingly gorgeous.

That night, Brunbec, Golightly and I spent a few hours floating in the pool and drinking cocktails, our favorite thing to do on a summer night.  If you have never tried drinking a cocktail while floating in a swimming pool, please allow me to suggest you do so. It will change your life – or at least your evening.  Best of all, thanks to The New Moderation, no hangover was to be had the next morning.

This afternoon the dog and I went on a lovely 2.5 mile walk. The dog was a real champ through it all, but collapsed in a cute, tired heap on the couch when we got back home.  As I write this now, I’ve got a big batch of seitan, red, & white bean jambalaya in the oven and I am feeling pretty fucking satisfied with myself.

So, how was your weekend?  Please to regale me with your tales!

Spectacles, Yoga, and Unexpected Movies

For those of you who were eagerly awaiting an eyeglasses update with painfully bated breath (and let’s face it, I’m sure that was ALL of you), my new glasses have finally arrived and they are RESPLENDENT! I love them, and they make me look completely different.  They look more like a part of my face and less like a hip costume.

I have also signed up for an Ashtanga Yoga class, and the first session kicked my wimpy ASS.  I was not aware, in fact, of how wimpy I truly am until the day after the first class when I could barely move my arms at all.  The endless repetition of all those upward-facing and downward-facing dogs and the plank position — the fucking PLANK POSITION — well, it kills me.  In a totally good way, though.

Before leaving for vacation, I managed to remember to send back my Netflix DVDs so that I would have some new ones upon my return, but of course I forgot to update the damned queue so I came home to find not the Northern Exposure DVDs I had expected but rather an assortment of questionable movies.  Year of the Dog, however, turned out to be an unexpected gem.  Read my thoughts on that over at the media blog.

Year of the Dog; Afternoon of the Kleenex

Year of the Dog arrived in my mailbox after languishing ignored on my Netflix queue for several months and then somehow quietly making it to the top when I forgot to add the Northern Exposure Season 2 DVDs I really wanted.  Let’s just say I wasn’t thrilled to find myself with what seemed to be a dubious romantic comedy starring Molly Shannon when I was expecting to spend the weekend with a delightful depiction of the glorious 1990s in quirky small-town Alaska.

year_of_the_dog

The movie turned out to be quite unexpectedly good, however.  I will be spoiling nothing when I tell you the one-line description of the film provided by IMDb.com: “A secretary’s life changes in unexpected ways after her dog dies.”  There you have it; this lady’s dog is going to die.  That is the entire premise of the movie and it happens within the first fifteen minutes.  Really, I swear I am not spoiling anything.

Peggy and Pencil
Peggy and Pencil

Even though I knew what was going to happen myself, watching that event play out and seeing Peggy’s grief afterward was almost impossible to watch.  It was so unbearably sad that I thought I was going to have to turn the movie off right then and there, only fifteen minutes in.  I will confess not only to sobbing messily but also to taking off my glasses, burying my head under a blanket, and following along with the movie only by listening until the next stage of the plot began.  I even started crying AGAIN when I was watching the making-of-the-film special feature.  REALLY.

It was worth sticking with it though, as Mike White is pretty genius at the dark comedy, and I do indeed love me some of that.  Molly Shannon plays the dramatic scenes unexpectedly well — if she weren’t able to do that the entire movie would fall apart — but even the textbook comedy scenes, like the dozens of dogs riding in a tiny car seen below, have an edge of pain and longing to them.  Peter Sarsgaard, who plays Newt, is also darkly hilarious, especially in one scene where he recounts to Peggy a particular dream he had.  I shall tell you no more than that.

That lady has some dogs in that car.
That lady has some dogs in that car.

I definitely recommend this film, but if you have even the smallest soft spot in your heart for dogs, have plenty of tissues at the ready.

P.S. The shaggy dog leaning out the passenger window is the canine Doppelgänger of my family’s late and much beloved Stanley.  Sniff.