I'm only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am. You are all my reasons.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AVENGERS: Movie Review (for CFC)

I saw Avengers this weekend...

Wait, let me go back a bit further. 

Hide yo kids, hide yo wife... 'cause Nick Fury be all up in here!
In 2008, I saw Ironman in theaters.  It rocked. Then Nick Fury aka Samuel L. Jackson appeared after the credits and told Tony Stark about "The Avengers Initiative" - and comic book movies changed forever for me.  I no longer had a single movie to look forward to, but an entire series of them!  There weren't just crossed fingers in hopes of a sequel being greenlit - there were confirmed movies lined up for the next FOUR YEARS.

Plus two more!!

If you liked the Harry Potter movies, and were comforted by the fact that enough people loved the books to guarantee they'd make at least 7 films - you know a comfort many comic book fans never did.  I ADORED the X-Men (some comic books, but particularly the animated series) as a child.  I even gave myself Rogue-like highlights in my hair for 4 years of my adolescence.  When the X-Men movie was first announced, I was ecstatic!  And it turned out... pretty good.  I highly enjoyed it, despite silly one-liners from Halle Berry and unimpressive acting chops from Anna Paquin (she's a much better Sookie).  But those sequels were never a guarantee!

So many characters!

Until the Avengers.  Then we had at least one guaranteed introductory film for each major 
character - interspersed with hints and foreshadowing - all leading up to the Big Daddy film where they form their alliance and use all their badassery toward a common cause.  I waited four years and five movies for the Avengers.

And I saw Avengers this weekend.


And it was glorious.  I heard a lot of doubt whether the egos/plotlines/sheer beauty of all these larger-than-life actors AND their even larger characters could all share a screen and make a cohesive story and a believable team.  I mean Robert Downey Jr. could barely share the limelight with Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes... he acted over him, tore off his shirt to reveal a physique one wouldn't typically expect of an inspector in the late 1800s, and got the much hotter girl in the end.  How in the world could anyone expect RDJ - not to mention Tony Stark who is infinitely more egocentric than the man who plays him - to gracefully share the screen with Samuel L. Jackson (the man who is in every film ever made), Chris Hemsworth (the man so good-looking God had to take all the extra handsome that oozed out of him and make him a brother named Liam), Chris Evans (who has now played TWO superheroes in major motion pictures), Scarlett Johansen in skintight leather (she already had the curves going for her, but good God leather??), Mark Ruffalo (I know CFC is at least familiar with Mr. Sensitive), and Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner?  It seemed far-fetched, to say the least.
They're all battling... for your heart?

But by golly, not only did they make it work, but they made that exact discord a central plotline for movie.  Of course Tony Stark has issues with Thor - he's comparing himself to a demigod!  Of course straight-laced Captain America thinks Tony Stark is a douche spoiled brat!  And naturally Mark Ruffalo is going to get mad - it's frustrating when no one wants to be your friend, even if you are a ticking-time-bomb of green fury.  
Thor giving Tony the stinkeye
The central conflict really writes itself... and to be honest, it isn't a new concept.  The very first storyline in the Avengers comics was about the difficulty of forming a team between so many drastically different personalities and skill sets.  That's why so many superheroes prefer to go solo. 

Another aspect of the movie whose news got me giddy as an anime Japanese schoolgirl was the announcement of Joss Whedon directing it.  I've loved that man's work almost as long as I've loved comic book heroes: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still one of my favorite shows of all time.  Joss is notorious for his extremely clever scripts and excellent pacing.  Avengers was no disappointment in either of these departments.  A 2.5 hour movie has the potential to feel very long... and drawn out... and unending... But no.  I never felt that eye-rolling moment of "Ok, we get it - nobody likes Loki.  Move on please."  

So. Shiny... and black.
So my overall recommendation is twofold: if you enjoy action movies - and in particular comic book hero stories - this is essentially the best one yet.  My co-worker Jeff described best: "They've made plenty of superhero movies before, but I think the Avengers was the first comic book movie ever made."  Comic books are difficult to translate to film.  The X-Men and Spiderman franchises really proved that.  Movie Studios want to appeal to the broadest audience possible, and so they compromise a lot of comic book lore in order to make the story/characters "more believable" or at the very least less cheesy.  So instead you get the slinky black leather suits in X-Men (with Wolverine quipping "What'd you expect, yellow spandex?" umm, YES WE DID) which really only serve to make the heroes look a bit like villains.  
Waaah, having superpowers is so HARD!
We also get Spiderman 2, where Peter Parker struggles to have a real social life while simultaneously being Spiderman.  Of course this makes Peter Parker relatable to moviegoers dealing with their own hectic lives, but that's not exactly the point of comic book heroes.  We want them to save us, to provide an escape from the cruelties of our own lives, giving hope that someone does have the power to save the world from evil.  We don't want to see him crying into his spaghetti-o's.  Avengers gives us these heroes - flaws and all - and still creates an escape for its viewers, reassuring us that in the event aliens do invade from another dimension,  someone's got our back.  And they wear colorful costumes dammit, and they don't look stupid.  In fact, there's even a nod in the film to the original purpose of loud, flamboyant superhero costumes: they're iconic for a reason.  People see it and feel hope.
Captain America.... in Germany.  Somehow still instilling hope in the People!
My second recommendation is for those of you like Lindsey who feel kind of ho-hum about the whole comic book/superhero genre.  I think you'll still really enjoy it!  It's a great story, well-written script, loads of action with plenty of humor sprinkled in, and all the attractive people you could ask for (ScarJo & Cobie Smuthers in skintight suits, plus more man candy than you'll find in a Babe Ruth factory)!  You might not be in full freak-out mode like I was all movie long, but you should walk out feeling like your $12 and 2.5 hours were well spent.

The only thing it was missing?  More of this action...
Thor asking Natalie to have his sweet demigod babies...
Can I get an Amen??  (Or whatever they say in Asgard...)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I swear I'm not a Robot

Have you ever tried to comment on  a blog post in blogger??

Whenever I post a comment on one of my two favorite blogs (Worthy of Being Storied or Chick Flick Chic) I am always prompted to "prove I am not a robot".  Regardless of the fact that I am already logged into my actual google account, and the page suggests that I post as my google-self "CJ" - I am still forced to type in two magic swirly words to prove I am not a robot.

Excuse me, but in what world are "meedsco", "iressa", "ckaec", or "gerilesi" PEOPLE words?

(Admittedly, "heiine" pictured above could be a foreign spelling of a derriere euphemism in a language I am unfamiliar with.)
To me, it feels like a trick.  I believe that only a robot would actually blindly type out these letters presuming them to be words - when I as a human know they are not.  Sometimes I just want to type "These are not words" into the box, as that would more legitimately prove my humanity.  But I never do because I'm lazy and don't want to have to reconstruct my comment should my insolence force a page refresh, thus losing my witty/clever/heartfelt words forever.

I suppose a robot would never be so lazy, nor so sentimental about its initial reactions to a blog post being forever captured in the first draft comment.

In any case, I am still suspect.  The logic of proving myself a person and not a robot seems quite flawed.
Which I suppose just proves that the whole concept must have been created by people, and not robots.  Touche, Google.

I see your meedsco, and I raise you an ildthigh.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Frenchy's, crowded with beachgoers
The scene:  It is Sunday February 19th, two days after Patrick's 28th birthday.  He's been asking for weeks that the Sunday of his birthday weekend we just do a nice casual dinner out with just the two of us.  We did this for my birthday weekend, so I think nothing of it.  He opts for one of the beachy places on Clearwater Beach, a place called Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, with the suggestion that maybe after dinner we could just take it easy and walk along the beach for a bit.  Which all sounded great [and innocent] to me!

We head out from our condo a few minutes later than intended, and Patrick starts REALLY sweating it.  He asks me to call the restaurant to inquire about the wait time, and when he hears it's 40 minutes, he begins apologizing profusely about taking too long to get ready, and now we'll probably miss seeing sunset on the beach!  I reassure him that today is still HIS day, so it's no big deal to me - I'm just along for the ride.  Once he's calmed down about the sunset, he starts telling me that I should know in advance that he is NO good at surprises and keeping secrets, so he will never be able to give me the surprise creative proposal he knows I'm hoping for.  This would sound suspicious to most people, but we've had this same conversation about 5 times before over the course of our relationship.  I figured it was just his sunset-stress bubbling over into random venting.
So we get to Frenchy's and put in our name, finding that it is quite windy and slightly chilly on the beach. Some grey clouds start rolling in off the water, but they're not dark enough to be really ominous looking. Just cloudy.
We have a nice dinner, and talk candidly about a wide variety of topics - including my taste in engagement rings!  Patrick trickily asked me questions that led me to believe that he was thinking of making that purchase soon (how exciting!) but needed to sort out these final details about what I liked.

The beautiful sunset Patrick had hoped for at Pier 60
Since it was his birthday outing, Patrick kept up the charade by allowing me to pay for our beers and grouper sandwiches - which were DELICIOUS.  And honestly, looking back, the dinner was so US.  A couple of beers, delicious beachy food, relaxing, surrounded by happy sun-kissed people... it was just nice.
After dinner we decided to walk off our full bellies in spite of the chilly wind that had picked up.  (Who am I kidding - Patrick had clearly decided this ages in advance, and I was luckily very agreeable and eager to please that evening!)  We opted to take the sidewalk route down to Pier 60, planning on switching to the sand somewhere south of the Pier.

More like the weather we had at Pier 60 that night
 As we walked, we talked about the first time we'd met, and what we like to call our "unofficial first date".  Back in December 2003 my family and I came back to Florida for the first time since moving to Georgia for  the wedding of a close family friend (which my brother was the Best Man in).  After the wedding my mom practically had to force me to go on a simple "nonromantic date" with the boy Patrick she had been talking up since we were both in high school.  So he picked me up at the condo we were renting, and took me to play putt-putt.  After we had a great time mini-golfing, we'd driven up Gulf Boulevard and walked around Pier 60 and discussed life, and growing up, and a great deal of things we have since forgotten.  It was a fun night back then, but even more fun to think about in relation to our life together now.  After our literal walk down memory lane, Patrick jokingly asked me if I would marry him - as he has done dozens of times before.  And I responded the same way I always had:  "Maybe, but you have to ask me properly first!"

So we continue past Pier 60  (where unbeknownst to be, we pass pretty close by a sneaking Nikki and Jason, there to document the action about to unfold).  Patrick takes his phone out a few times to text Nikkie directions to our whereabouts, but assures me he is just giving her brotherly advice about Jason.  Naive little old me just nods knowingly and tells him what a good brother he's being.
Once we've left the hustle and bustle of the evening Pier crowd, Patrick and I walk out onto the sand, where the clouds have just begun to send down a gentle misting rain.  As we're walking - flip flops in one hand, each other's hand clasped in the other - Patrick finds an empty space on the beach near the water.  What with the mist and lack of sunset, the beach is almost deserted. When we reach the spot he's picked out, he pulls me to a stop and tosses both of our shoes into the sand.  He wraps both arms around me and pulls me close, and says something sweet in my ear.
Now this is where things get hazy, because as he's stopped me on the beach - I have sensed something unusual is going on.  My mind is in overdrive, all my senses are set to maximum.  Before my racing brain can even process what Patrick has just whispered to me, he looks me in the eye, and drops to one knee.  In my inability to process the situation in my now-swimming brain, I ever so sweetly gaze down at my boyfriend on bended knee, and delicately trill:


Needless to say, he was "being serious right now", and as he asked me to marry him he took my left hand and slid the most beautiful ring I have ever seen in my whole life onto my finger.  I'm told I gave an answer that resembled a yes - but all I can recall is some vigorous nodding and tearfully cupping Patrick's face in my hands and kissing him like an overjoyed fool.

Within a few short moments, Patrick told me to look off to my right - as I had been completely oblivious to anything else going on on that beach, and I then saw Nikki frantically sprinting like a madwoman across the sand toward us.  Thankfully in her haste she thought to pause one more time and capture a closer-up photo of us, fresh in our utterly raw joy.

Newly minted engaged couple!
We then proceeded to laugh and hug and cry and carry on with the electric excitement we felt and couldn't contain if we tried.  I felt quite literally that I could burst with joy at any moment.  It was a much more raucous walk back to the car, as we shared stories about the planning of the night, the hunt for the ring, the request for my parents' permission, and my absolute ignorance of any of it!
We then called my parents, my brothers, and our closest friends to share with them the best news of our lives.  
And then we went to Patrick's parents' house to toast with some celebratory drinks!

And cake.
Obviously there had to be cake.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Books to Read 2012

I know I haven't blogged in a million years.  Shame on me.

However, what with my head spinning in a million directions - many of them wedding-related - I needed someplace to bookmark this list for future reference.
So here is my list of books to read before the world ends  in 2012  in the relative immediate future.

0.  The Hunger Games
I'm actually about 50 pages shy of finishing this re-read (and not a moment too soon as the movie comes out in THREE DAYS(!!) which is why I made it #0.  Totally doesn't count, but lest I forget what I'm in the middle of... here it is.

1.  A Clash of Kings
The second book in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, coming of course after A Game of Thrones.  The first book was AMAZING, and left me with several cliffhangers I've been dying to know the outcomes of.  Not to mention that the show Game of Thrones follows the books to a tee - which is exceedingly rare these days and also exceedingly awesome.  The show was marvelously cast, the production value is out of this world, and the second season starts SO SOON.  Which means I need to knock this sucker out pronto.

2.  A Storm of Swords
The third book in the aforementioned Ice/Fire series.  I'd like to get on a roll with these, plus I already have this one on my bookshelf just begging me to read it already!

3.  One Day
After several books of hardcore sci-fi and action, I'm thinking this one will be a welcome change in my lineup.  Plus, I will be in the hardcore middle of wedding planning most likely - and a tragic love story that I can quite literally sob while reading ought to be the perfect emotional outlet I just know I'm going to need!

4.  From Dead to Worse
I've taken a lengthy break from Sookie Stackhouse and her crazy adventures, but as I delve back into TrueBlood (which strays HORRIBLY from the books - both in plot and in chronology, making it hard to not spoil future unread books!) I would like to get back in the swing of things.  The last book I read was # 7 - and some of the plot twists revealed in that book were unveiled in Season 3 of TrueBlood.  Say whaaaaat?!  Plus sexy vampire/werewolf time is always fun to read about!

5.  Dead And Gone
Book # 9 of Sookie Stackhouse.  Meh, we'll see how Book # 8 (above) goes.

6. & 7.  Dead In the Family, Dead Reckoning
See above.

8.  Cat's Cradle
I've heard just so much about Kurt Vonnegut that it's about time I strayed out of mainstream pop-literature and got into the good stuff.  And by good stuff I mean a nice short starter story about somewhat post-apocalyptic world (no zombies, just machines that freeze all the Earth's water, NBD).  I have high hopes!

9.  Dune
I know, I know, should I REALLY be getting involved in another Epic series of insanely long and involved books without having finished A Song of Ice and Fire?  Maybe not.  But I probably will. Hooray!!!

10.  Snow Crash
This was just on a list of recommended sci-fi books I recently read, but the list-compiler spoke so highly of how fun the narrative was (plus he mentioned a cyborg dog in the story) that I thought I'd throw it in there for funsies.  I think 10 books is a pretty lofty goal anyway at this point, so we'll see when/if this happens.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Big Kitties

Last year my mom told about this Circus-like "Big Cat Show" she had attended at a local wildlife habitat in Sarasota.  Of course, she told me about it before I lived in Florida and the show only comes about once a year - so I didn't get a chance to attend it myself.
Until this year!  After some wedding venue hunting with my mom and my Patrick, we headed out to the Big Cat Habitat and Wildlife Sanctuary for their annual Extravaganza!  aka their version of a small carnival and real life animal show - complete with an entire segment reminiscent of old school Lion Tamer acts (sans the silly outfits and cruel animal whipping)!



Baby Liger!

Liger and tiger cubs

The Arena, looking ominous before the show!

Six big cats all in one cage!

Giant tiger... or big kitty?

Big kitties all in a row...

After the cats left, they took down the cage and had many animal acts: performing Pekingese pups, an Asian and African elephant pair, a dancing stallion, camel, llama, and miniature horses, and a toddler chimp!
Then these guys came out twice with their own impressive act...

Crazy bareback riding team!

Getting ready for his next trick...


Two guys, one horse.  What are they up to?

Oh!  Getting on his shoulders??


You know what they say about getting back on the horse...


Thanks for the great shot guys!

Faithful annual attendees.  I think they liked the guy with the ponytail!

Backflip from one horse to another.  NBD.

What a babe.  Star of the show.
(No but she actually did have some awesome moves - but that outfit was out of control!)