Friday, December 30, 2011

Boy Proof


Victoria Jurgen is definitely not the sort of girl you expect to find in Hollywood. She insists that everyone call her Egg, after the tough-as-nails female character in her favorite dystopian movie, Terminal Earth. She goes a step further - she shaves her head and dresses all in white like Egg as well. Unlike many of the girls in her classes, she doesn't aspire to be an actress, but a creator of movie monsters' designs and prosthetics. She isn't too good with people outside the members of her sci-fi/fantasy club, and prefers to go to the movie theater alone than with a group of friends.
    When Max, the new boy in school, begins giving her attention- and not the bad kind - Egg doesn't know what to make of it. Not only is he a great artist and likes the sames graphic novels as she does, he's just as smart as she is. At first, she decides that Max literally stinks, but then he joins the school newspaper, the same newspaper of which she is the photographer. Even though he's there to draw comics, Egg still feels threatened. Soon, her grades are dropping, and she's called in to the dean's office. If she's still 'boy proof'(a term coined by her mother), why is she reacting this way?

Boy Proof is a fun, quick read. "Egg" really drives the story, and it's her development that is the real conflict. She is an engaging heroine, and even more unusual, a geeky one. The author, Cecil Castellucci, calls herself "a card carrying-geek" and it shows in this story. Too often, authors will try to create a geeky character, but instead perpetrate a poorly written stereotype. But in Boy Proof, the main character's struggle is realistic and sympathetic.  This is a story which will appeal to geeks (especially geeky girls), fans of sci-fi and fantasy, and anyone who has ever felt like an outcast.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas! I spent today opening presents with family, took a walk, then enjoyed the Dr. Who Christmas special. I woke up to The Twelve Days of Christmas... slightly changed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Here is the trailer for the movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which will appear in theatres in a little less than a year! Peter Jackson will return to direct this movie. I cannot wait!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Movie Review: Hugo


Recently, I went to see Hugo in theatres. I was eagerly expecting this movie, as I had read and loved the book (The Invention of Hugo Caberet) a few years previously. A short disclaimer: I had never seen anything directed by Martin Scorsese, so I didn't know what to expect. Most children's books that have been converted to film are notably lackluster, so I wasn't prepared for anything spectacular.

This movie was an amazing adaptation of the book, and in itself, an amazing movie.

Let me sum up the story: A young orphan named Hugo lives behind the walls of the train station in Paris. It was his uncle Claude's job to wind the clocks, but after he disappears, Hugo keeps winding them, to avoid discovery. He spends his days peering out through the inlaid numbers of the clocks, watching the diverse people who work there: the teashop owner, the police inspector, the flower-seller... and a toyshop owner, who sells windup toys. Hugo thieves a few of these toys to supply gears he needs. He's trying to finish the automaton that his father was fixing when he died. But when he's caught with his hand on a toy, he uncovers old secrets that the old toy-seller would rather forget.

The acting was phenomenal. The actors for Hugo(Asa Butterfield) and Isabelle, the toy-seller's goddaughter(Chloe Grace Moretz) give a subtle, yet strong performance. Butterfield is slated to play Ender Wiggin in the upcoming movie Ender's Game, and from his performance in Hugo, I believe he will do an excellent job.  The camera angles were innovative, using framing techniques of cutout numbers to frame actors' eyes. As this movie was designed to be shot in 3D, rather than using the 3D as a gimmick, the feel of the film was quite different from other movies I've seen. The passages behind the walls that Hugo frequents are realistically grungy and aged, full of grease and pitted metal.

I can't say much without exposing spoilers, but we explore the story of classic silent film with Hugo, and watch clips from silent movies with him. I really enoyed this aspect of the movie.

One other thing: this movie is not full of flashy thrills, but instead uses character development and suspense to move the plot along, although, don't misunderstand, it does have many tense moments. I really enjoyed this way of telling a story, and so did the party I went to see the movie with(a group ranging in age from ten years old to seventy-two years old).

This is a gem of a movie. Don't miss it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The story behind favorite Christmas traditions: Mistletoe

Ever wondered why we hang up a sprig of mistletoe around Christmas, for the sole purpose of stealing kisses?


For ancient Celts, the mistletoe was a symbol of fertility and rebirth, as it is an evergreen parasite that clings to its host even after the host tree has died.

But the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe first appears in the Norse myth of Baldur the Beautiful.

Baldur was the most beautiful of all the gods in Aesir, and was the son of Odin, the king of the gods, and Frigga, godess of love. One night his mother dreamed that Hel, the goddess of the underworld, embraced Baldur and led him into her domain. So his mother went to everthing on earth, from the oak tree to the beetle, and exacted their pledge that they would never hurt Baldur. But she overlooked the mistletoe, as it was so small, and much too young to swear this oath. Loki, the god of chaos, heard of this oversight, and began to plot.

"Each arrow overshot his head..."Source

All the gods began to throw spears and axes at Baldur, and he laughed as the weapons went astray or bounced harmlessly off his skin, and all the gods laughed too. Baldur's blind brother Hodor was standing nearby, wishing he could join in with the merriment. Loki placed a bow in his hand, and "Shoot, I'll guide the bow."
He shot true, and the arrow pierced Baldur's heart. The god fell, dead, for the arrow was made of mistletoe. But Baldur the god of the sun, and if he was dead, all life on earth would cease. Frigga began to wail, and cried so much over her son that her tears wetted the red berries of the mistletoe and turned them white. This raised Baldur to life, and Frigga was  so overjoyed that she decreed that when any two people walked under a sprig of mistletoe together they should kiss in memory of Baldur's resurrection.

Later, Artemis, Greek goddess of the moon and of young maidens, was said to wear a crown of mistletoe during the Roman Saturnalia, and indeed, in temples dedicated to Artemis, the priestesses would give her a crown of the parasitic plant during this holiday. Incidentally, the Saturnalia took place from December seventeenth to December twenty-third.

Much later, the Victorians resurrected this custom, as a part of Christmas celebrations. Author Washington Irving describes this tradition.

    "The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases."

Most Victorian households conveniently forgot the latter part of this tradition!


So there you have it: why we kiss under a parasitic plant at Yuletide!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mainstay Productions "Finnick and Annie" episode 1

Mainstay Productions started a webseries following the friendship of Finnick and Annie, a couple from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. The camera angles, shots and acting are all at a professional level, and tell this fan studio's idea of how Finnick and Annie met. Check it out!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Child Is This?- A Christmas Story

'Tell me about the first Christmas.'
'You know all about the first Christmas," said her father. 'You just saw the pageant. Mary and Joseph and the angel. The trek to Bethlehem. No room at the inn. Baby Jesus born in a stable.'
'Not His first Christmas. My first Christmas."
That Christmas. 
Last Christmas.
A December when the grownups left a lot to be desired. But oh- the children desired so much.
-From What Child Is This?- A Christmas Story

Eight-year old foster child Katie wants nothing for Christmas but a family of her own. Not a temporary family, but a forever family. When she is given the chance to write her Christmas wish on a paper bell, and hang on a Christmas tree to be granted, she tells the social worker to write 'Katie wants a family.'
'Christmas isn't about big things,' the social worker tells her. But Katie knows that it's a lie.
There are no angels singing down from the heavens this Christmas.
But there is Matt, who hangs the bell with her wish on the tree. There's Liz, whose family decorates every inch of their house, yet still miss out on the real reason for Christmas. There are Tack Knight and his father, who run a restaurant- and by the front counter they place a small tree, almost too small for all the Christmas wishes that weigh down its boughs.
The snow is as deep as Christmas carols, and the air is scented with miracles. Could a little girl's impossible wish be granted this season?

What Child is This? is one of those books to read a few times every Christmas. It's the sort of story that needs to be repeated, because the truth between its pages can be all too often overlooked in the decorating and bustle. Even on the thirtieth reading, it doesn't wear thin, or lose its freshness. It's too miraculous a story for that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

joy in the morning

after a night of hard weeping
the daylight comes
like a heavy hand through
the window and makes my head ache.

slowly waltz
don't break the eggs

my terrier howls and i get up
head heavy from sleep
i dress and walk out with my dog
into the frosty morning

up the middle
all together

each blade of grass is stiff and distict
like a forest of pins
glazed with frost and frozen rain
they crunch underfoot, breaking easily

lift up your arms now
keep the rhythm

the blue sky is clearing
a solitary mockingbird calls
clouds are peeling away from the sun
like petals from a flowers heart

high kick
fall back

the morning has brought with it
inescapable joy

in and out
the forever dance.