Monday, January 22, 2018 23:40

The Tale of Sir Alonzo Bigglesworth of the Saint Paul Bigglesworths

March 18th, 2014

Six years ago, last week, I got one of those phone calls that falls into the category of dreaded phone calls. It was my parents calling to tell me that my grandfather was dying. As in, his time had come and it would happen any day. Despite that he was 98 years old, it was quite a surprise. He didn’t look like he was 98. He was in good health, and while we finally had to stop him from driving, he still managed to go to mass every day (except Saturday, because there was only evening mass and that was just wrong) and to visit with his friends afterwards. He still called my mother every day to check in, and he still lived on his own. However, one day he wasn’t feeling well, and my uncle took him to the hospital, and things went downhill from there.

So, I told my manager at work that while I was waiting for the call, I would need to go back home for the funeral and thus would need them to plan for me missing a day or two of work, depending. Other than that, we were just going about our business as usual, waiting for the final call. Among our business as usual was running errands. It was a Saturday, and we went to a neighboring suburb for me to pick up some sewing supplies. We were in one of those “lifestyle” sort of shopping centers where most things aren’t actually connected to each other, but walking between places can be treacherous, so you are still expected to move your car periodically and re-park, despite that it’s all one shopping center. Whoever invented these things should be inflicted with some sort of Karmic retribution, as they are terrible. That’s beside the point. The point is, that the fabric store was in close proximity to the pet supply store. A pet supply store that also has pets for adoption on many occasions. We popped in to grab some cat food, and peruse the adorable animals (which can be dangerous, as that’s how we wound up with two of the cats we had at home). Of course, since it was a Saturday, there was an adoption event to take advantage of the influx of weekend shoppers. A local cat shelter/foster had brought in many, many kitties. Some kittens, some adult cats. We checked them out, and while there was nothing wrong with any of them, we could live without them. We would indeed make it out with only cat food!

Then, we saw the flyer. A flyer with a gingery smush face. G and I had conversations over the years that he would like to one day have a Himalayan cat again, and I agreed but said it should be a flame point. This was a red Persian, which was pretty close (I mean, a Himalayan is a *Persian* bred with Siamese). We could even use the name for him we had discussed for said flame point Himalayan. We started to read the flyer, and one of the women from the cat rescue came over to us. Despite the adorable face on the flyer, we weren’t really in the market for another kitty. While we’d lost one within that last year, we were still a three cat household. Really, that is plenty. However, this woman started talking to us about the kitty, whose given name was Farley. His owner lost her vision due to complications from Diabetes, and felt she couldn’t give him the care he needed. With him being a Persian, they were hoping to find him a home with someone who had experience with Persians. We told her that G had a Himalayan when he was younger, and my sister had a Persian for a time that I helped take care of. The next thing we knew, she was taking down the flyer and putting it in our hands. We tried to protest, but it was futile. The petite woman was determined, and in her mind we were calling the cat’s owner up and making arrangements.

An approximation of the photo on the flyer in question.

An approximation of the photo on the flyer in question.

We got out to the car, and since the flyer was no longer posted, we felt a bit like we had to call and at least meet this cat, so maybe the flyer could go back up for someone who was in the market for a cat. We called the number and found out it was for the sister of the cat’s owner. She had been tasked with helping find Farley a new home. She gave us the number for Farley’s owner. So, we called the actual owner of the cat. We could tell immediately that there was an interesting story. When we told her about the flyer, and that we spoke with her sister who put us in touch with her, she said, “Wow. She finally actually did something I asked her to do.” We had some worry that we might be getting in the middle of some family drama, but still arranged to meet the beautiful kitty from the flyer.

We went to the apartment of the owner, which was in a sort of assisted living complex. While she was not elderly, she did have some special needs due to her lack of vision. We went to her door, she let us in, and we saw Farley. We were rendered speechless. He was adorable. Also, beautiful. He was clearly shy, and she had closed the doors to the bedroom and bathroom so he wouldn’t be able to hide and prevent us from seeing him. He tried to make himself small, and was looking for a possible out, but we still were able to take in his beauty. While we admired, the owner gave us his back story.

As a kitten, he wound up with a very elderly woman. Very. Elderly. She was unable to care for him, and thus he was basically neglected for the first nine months of his life. He made his way to the rescue, where it took them three rounds with clippers to get his solidly matted fur off. Due to lack of socialization, he was extremely shy, and he also was not great with being groomed as it was a foreign concept to him. However, he was a young, attractive cat. So, the sister that we spoke to first came to meet him, as she worked with the rescue and was a veterinary tech by trade. She thought he would make the perfect companion for her sister, who lived alone and was legally blind. She called her sister, and told her about the kitty. The potential kitty mama had some concerns, however. Because of her lack of vision, she would have a difficult time caring for him. She definitely couldn’t trim his nails, and brushing him would also be difficult. Also, because she couldn’t drive, she would need help getting him in for check-ups and such. The vet tech sister assured her that she would help take care of everything. She could come by regularly and trim his nails and make sure he stayed brushed. Plus, if homing him with the blind sister didn’t work out, vet tech sister would gladly take him in.

So, at about a year old, he came to live in the apartment we were standing in. Things started off well. Then, as the months went by, vet tech sister was unable to come by as she had originally promised. It proved to be difficult to get her to come by to do the necessary grooming for a Persian kitty with claws. Also, because of his history and shyness, his owner sort of just let him be. She was a bit worried that he might be lonely, since she didn’t make him cuddle and hang out with her. She wanted to get him a kitty friend, but her apartment only allowed her one cat. She felt that he wasn’t in the home he deserved, and that he should be somewhere that he could get the regular grooming and attention that someone sighted could provide. So, his owner called her sister and mentioned this, and also mentioned the agreement that she would take him if the situation wasn’t working out. However (and I don’t remember the exact numbers), vet tech sister had a number of cats and dogs at this point, and couldn’t take in another despite her promise. So, the blind woman told her sister that a suitable home needed to be found, and the sister said she would look into it.

Hence the flyer. Which turned out to be a generic Persian picture, as she had the only two photos of him and they were from when he was still shorn. We were told all about Farley’s life. She kept food and water in dishes on the floor for him, and a small dish of treats on the counter for him to help himself to. He had a special blanket that was made for him by a friend, and a scratching post and basket of toys. She mentioned that he also scratched her chair, and that it was entirely her fault. She never stopped him from the bad scratching, so we would need to keep an eye on him. However, the behavior wasn’t his fault, he didn’t learn differently, and she wanted us to know. She reminded us of his shyness, and that while he would often lay near her, he wasn’t a lap cat. She told us that every night, when they were done watching Paul Douglas on the news, they would go for a walk together down the hallway and back to the apartment before hitting the hay.

Admittedly, we were smitten. G reminded me that it wasn’t a good idea necessarily to bring home another kitty. We already had three, and while that was down from four, we shouldn’t necessarily have four cats. So, we told her we would have to think about it. We mentioned that we would love to take him for a trial for a weekend or even for a week to see if he would even get along with our other cats, since he was used to being the only guy. She was amenable to that. The problem was, that we would have to go out of town at any moment for my grandfather’s funeral. We didn’t want to take him home when we wouldn’t be around to see how things were going, and we definitely didn’t think that his first go with us should be a road trip. So, we agreed that we would think on it, and call her when we knew what the funeral arrangements would be and when we could pick him up. We then left with the image of his crazy adorable smush face, and his stocky, fluffy body slinking around. I was in the “we must bring him home!” camp, and G was in the responsible, “it might not be a good idea” camp.

The next day, my grandfather passed. March 9, 2008. We worked out with my parents when the funeral would be, so G and I could be there. We worked out a potential day to come by and get Farley for a trial with our kitties. So, just over a week after we met him on March 18, 2008, G went to pick him up. He called when he was on his way home, to tell me there was a grumpy kitty on the seat next to him. I asked how long we were going to have him to see how it would go.

Pause.

“Well…here’s the thing.”

It turned out that his owner called her sister to tell her that we wanted to take him for a trial, and the sister contacted the rescue. The rescue told her that since we would be his third owners, if it didn’t work out, they would have to put him down. As though something was wrong with him. Which, it was not at all his fault that it didn’t work out with the current owner. So, his owner told G that she was not going through the rescue to get him to us. She would just give him to us, with all of his things. She told us that if it didn’t work out with us for any reason, to call her and she would find him a new home. We were much more determined to make it work with him, as we didn’t want any risk of killer rescue getting him back! (Not that his owner would let that happen…but still.)

In his first hideout.

In his first hideout.

So, he came into our home. We immediately christened him Alonzo, because of the Dr. Who episode where the doctor really wants to meet someone named Alonzo. (Later, as such a character popped up, we found out they spelled it “Alonso” but it was too late.) He spent the first day or so in the covered litter box that was given to us. Eventually, he felt comfortable enough to come out, and moved to sitting behind the toilet for a few days. Finally, he made his way into the rest of the house, and staked claim on the space under the dining table. He pretty much stayed there unless his hunger forced him to get something to eat, or his bladder necessitated a trip to the litter box. Otherwise, if you wondered where Alonzo was, he was under the table.

Holding court under the dining table

Holding court under the dining table

After a while, he was hanging out and about in our condo. For a long while, whenever anyone came over, he would go back to his safety zone, under the dining table. Eventually, even large gatherings didn’t phase him, and he would hang out on his perch watching the happenings. The first birthday party I had where he was comfortable on his perch, he was seemingly enjoying things. We were playing Rock Band, chatting, eating, etc. Then, my brother-in-law took over the Rock Band drums. Apparently, his drumming style was too much for Alonzo. Alonzo tore down the hall, and a few moments later, a friend told me she came out of the bathroom to see Alonzo there in a panic. Apparently, he wanted to go to his trusty covered litter box in the bathroom, but the door was closed. So, he was at the end of the hall, panicking, with no idea what to do. So, he went into our bedroom for the rest of the evening, safe and sound.

These days, you would not know that he was ever that shy. The only thing that seems to phase him is a fire drill in our apartment building. (We are still trying to work on our boys’ emergency preparedness. It’s slow going.) He will happily allow for guests to admire him, and will even put up with the most strenuous drum players. He is BFF with our Lucifer. In fact, they look like the feline versions of Pinky and the Brain, though their roles are reversed. Lu is long and slender, but he is the plotter. Alonzo, with his large, face, and protruding forehead, just follows along. Lu is great at opening doors for Alonzo to go through. We often find doors that should be closed, open, and Alonzo has hunkered down and made himself at home. When Lu gets the crazies, Alonzo will bound after him to find out what the plan is. We often wonder if the smush faced fluff ball in our apartment is the same one we brought home back then. It’s like he’s a different cat! Though, he still doesn’t like to be brushed, he will put up with it. He also isn’t always keen on when we want to pick him up and give him all the loving, but he does occasionally climb into our laps or onto us while we’re sleeping and purr at the loudest possible volume. While his purrs are loud, his meows are not. We know that if he does meow, the situation must be dire.

The trouble brigade on patrol at the condo.

The trouble brigade on patrol at the condo.

I don’t remember when it was exactly, but we realized he was a British spy, knighted by the queen for his efforts. Hence, he is Sir Alonzo Bigglesworth. With all the Bigglesworths out there of questionable breeding, we must clarify that he is from the very fine, upstanding, Saint Paul Bigglesworths. He has many aliases, because of all of his missions over the years. We are working on getting together passport photos of him in these various disguises.

Even though we weren’t sure if it was a good idea to bring him home back then, we can’t imagine life without our big fluffball. He is mesmerizing in his adorableness, and while we fully expect that one day we will look at him and think, “Yeah, he’s just a regular amount of cute,” it hasn’t happened yet. We still get distracted by his intense level of cuteness, and laugh at just how insanely adorable he is. We regularly get distracted by his looks, and even when he’s naughty, we still love him with all our hearts. It’s hard to believe we’ve had him for six years, and he helped make a sad time in our lives much happier.

linked: obsolete

March 17th, 2014

It’s Monday! How does it always show up so quickly? *sigh* At least there are distractions aplenty out there! (Of course, maybe your distraction is playing hooky and drinking green beer today. If that’s the case, these should get you through Tuesday’s hangover.)

Bored Panda shared a list of obsolete professions. There were a couple that I didn’t realize were ever professions! I think maybe a human alarm clock is just what I need. This also go me thinking about new professions that have come about due to technology, and if the new ones evenly cancel out the old, or if one is edging out the other, thus skewing unemployment figures. Just wondering.

Ever wonder why only a small fraction of the pages and people you “like” on Facebook show up in your feed? Someone cracked the algorithm! Since I’m not a mathy-statisticy kind of person, I admit some of the specifics made me zone out a bit, but the data is a little mind blowing, especially if you’re trying to reach an audience with your page. (*cough*golikemypage*cough*)

I admit, I haven’t been sucked in to the Scandal hoopla. However, President Fitzgerald Grant does a crossword over on The Toast, is still hilarious.

This one is totally cray-cray. A woman is unwittingly a part of a search party. For herself.

On MonkeySee over at NPR, there is a list of 20 very silly inventions pitched on Shark Tank. Some of them are so bad, they come back to amazing!

Finally, if you really want to burn through your Monday (and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, the rest of March…) you need to try 2048. You can thank me or curse me later.

Until next time, Happy Monday, friends! xoxo

squirrely sunday: speedbump

March 16th, 2014

Oof. The last few weeks (well, really, months) have been a little rough. Work has been high stress and high tension, and I’ve been filling all my free time. So, I’m a squirrel girl that is really feeling this billboard.

I'm feeling like a speedbump right about now...

I’m feeling like a speedbump right about now…

But, this is a new week, and I’m sure this week will be less speedbumpy!
xoxox

linked: daylight savings time edition

March 10th, 2014

Harumph. This whole Spring forward thing is not sitting well with me. I had a hard time falling asleep last night because my body was sure it was an hour earlier (yeah, I’m aware of the irony of having a hard time falling asleep), then I struggled to wake up and stay awake today, because my poor narcky self is wondering where that precious hour of sleepytime went. Oh well. At least the internet is always up to providing entertainment!

It was just International Women’s Day! Did you know that Germany founded this day? Me, neither! I also didn’t know so much about all these super rad German women that kicked ass, most in a time when it was not the popular thing to do!

Speaking of people changing the world, Cracked assembled a list of four people who are doing so right now and in unexpected ways! The list contains some seriously unexpected folks. (Which, what I love about Cracked is that it’s learning via comedy!)

Over on Reddit, Martha Stewart participated in an AMA. Her answers delighted me beyond even my high expectations!

I am a huge fan of Parks and Recreation, particularly because of the delightful characters. I adored this piece on Donna.

With The Grand Budapest Hotel making its debut, I have been thinking of all the beauty of Wes Anderson’s work. This compilation of some of his best dressed characters is swoon worthy.

While we’re on the topic of fashion, can I confess my love of false lashes? I’ve worn the tasteful variety to work, and the flashy variety to clubs and parties, and just about every type in between to all sorts of places! So, I devoured this piece on A Beautiful Mess! She speaks to all the varieties and tricks better than I could, and even gave me some ideas to try!

In case I’ve not mentioned it, I love Dick Button! I miss his commentary on the Olympics, and even the presence of Johnny Weir can’t replace him. This interview was fantastic, and makes me long for his commentary! Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, his home is FAB-U-LOUS!

Finally, unless you’re under a rock or maybe in a cave, you are aware that SXSW is happening. The hip kids are all atwitter about it, and several have taken the iron throne at the Game of Thrones area. However, I think we can all relax, because the true heir to the throne has been found. Long live the Queen!! (WARNING: LINK CONTAINS PAINFUL ADORABLENESS!)

Hope that helps you get through this sleepy Monday! xoxox

squirrely sunday: just squirreling around

March 9th, 2014

squirreling around

I don’t know that we’re squirreling around to that degree, but it’s Sunday and the house is (mostly) clean, so we’re lounging, eating get-together leftovers and admiring our adorable kitties. Mostly, trying to drink in all the moments of the weekend before it’s back to work in the morning. Especially since we lost a precious weekend hour this morning. While I like falling back in Autumn, can we just do away with this Daylight Savings thing already?

*sigh*

Well, enjoy your Sunday, and whatever level of squirreling you might be up to. Here’s to a glorious week, friends!! xoxox

linked: the morning after

March 3rd, 2014

Whew, mama’s pooped. We finished the Oscar best picture marathon on Saturday, and attended an Oscar party last night. I champagned it up and had a fun time, but whoa did my alarm go off too early this morning! I’ve still managed to pool some of my favorite finds around the interwebs for you!

It’s not a secret that I find Scientology a questionable organization at best. Leah Rimini leaving the church and her revelations this last year were startling. This article on Buzzfeed (not the quiz and list part) adds further enlightenment to her journey, and further cements my feelings about Scientology.

This piece on the restoration of a historic costume once worn by Ellen Tracy hit pretty much every nerdy love of mine. History, costuming, restoration. The details of the process, and the final outcome are incredible!

I often question some of the choices parents make in naming their offspring. Blair at STFU Parents has much to say on the topic, complete with some, um, interesting examples shared on social media.

Things fitting perfectly into other things does live up to its promise of satisfying your over-developed sense of order. Though, I got a little icked out by some of the match ups. Like, the sugar cube in the wrench was really gross. So, I’m torn. What do you think?

Much like amusement park roller coasters, a haunted house in Canada snaps photos of its guests at the scariest spot. The photos are pretty amusing!

Happy Monday, friends!
xoxox

squirrely sunday: the oscar goes to…

March 2nd, 2014

So,this edition of Squirrely Sunday isn’t so squirrely. Today is the Oscars, so I thought I would give my rundown of the best picture nominees. A little bit of what I thought of each, my faves, and what I think will win. Since the hubs and I have a tough time coordinating when we can both see movies together, we’ve made the Best Picture Showcase a tradition since it started (except for one year, and we think it was because I was running a half marathon in Florida). It was a little easier when there were just five nominees, and the showcase was one day. However, we still seem to make it work (as Tim Gunn might say) now that there are up to ten nominees. There is a 24 hour marathon option at some locations, but we opt to spread it out over two Saturdays. Before I get to the list, I do have one overall note. As with books, film need good editors. I think what kept a lot of these films from being amazing was the editing. The editing can make or break a film. Some of them were overlong, paced unevenly, or suffered from a wandering narrative, all of which could have been helped by editing. That having been said, here’s my rundown:

Captain Phillips Fortunately, this year, none of the films were terrible. We didn’t have a Tree of Life moment this year, or anything we actively didn’t want to see because of how terrible it was sure to be. However, this was definitely my least favorite. What I said up above about editing? Summed up in this film. It was really uneven, and the chunk of exposition either needed to be cut completely, or needed to be beefier. As it was, there was sort of a meandering expository sequence that didn’t add investment or raise the stakes. The dialogue was fine, the acting was good (I was even pleasantly surprised by Tom Hanks, who often creates caricatures rather than characters), even the effects were well done. However, the pacing was all over the place, and how the time of the film was spent could have been better chosen. Long story short: I didn’t want my time or money back, but I also could have gone on with my life without having seen this one. This was also the only film based on a book that didn’t make me want to read the source material.

The Wolf of Wall Street I know Martin Scorcese is a Hollywood treasure. Just the whisper of his name gets people all aflutter. However, this guy needs to meet a good editor. For serious. Some of his films (*cough*GangsofNewYork*cough*) wind up being hot dirty messes because of a lack of editing. This film could have been amazing had it been put in the hands of the right editor. The story was fascinating. An upstart broker winds up out in the cold in a major market crash. He has to start again, and builds an empire of epic proportions, only to be brought down by the feds. The story is great, the actors are excellent (even Leonardo!), but it needed to be reined in just a bit. Also, some of the details, like a scene taking place in the 1980s being set to music from the 1990s, could have handled more attention. Long story short: Fine, not great. Also, I will probably read the book.

Dallas Buyers Club I knew going in that this low budget feature was not going to be perfect. I think that helped keep my expectations reasonable. The acting was excellent, and I never thought I would say that about Matthew McConaughey. The dialogue was okay, but overall the script was not strong. For instance, the character Eve (played by Jennifer Garner), was an amalgamation of several doctors. Unfortunately, the character was pretty shallow, more of a set of lines than a real character. Jennifer Garner did as much as she possibly could with what she was given, but with a great script she would have been put to far better use. On the other hand, Rayon was also an amalgam of many transgender people that were interviewed, but she was given a lot more depth. Jared Leto was stellar, and I think would be very deserving of a statue tonight. Also, Melanie Deforrest deserves the award for make-up and hair. The total budget for her to work with was $250. What she was able to do with that was mind-blowing, especially considering the time they had to film was so short, Leto and McConaughey were at their slimmest for the whole shoot so she had to make them look heavier when they were healthier, because they didn’t have the time to shoot in sequence and allow for them to lose or gain accordingly. Of course, she also had to do the special effects make-up for the various side effects of HIV/AIDS.

American Hustle Another entry into the good, not great list. Great premise, excellent actors, but the actual storytelling lacked. Given the number of excellent hustler and heist films out there, this one was kind of lackluster. Again, individual bits of dialogue were fine, but the overall story and how it was pieced together lacked the sizzle it needed to make the movie great. Christian Bale delivered, as usual, and Jennifer Lawrence was simultaneously adorable and trashy. Bradley Cooper was fine, but I think his perm outshone him. Amy Adams was also fine, but she has done better work, including in another nominated film. The set design and art direction were excellent. This was another film that could have done with a more capable editor, both in the screenplay and in the final assembly of the flick. While all the actors were nominated, Christian Bale always does excellent work but I think the statue will go elsewhere tonight, and the others were simply not at the top of the game this year. However, there is a lot of JLau love out there, so she might be a surprise winner.

Philomena This one caught me by surprise. I like Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, but this was on my list of films that I could see, but didn’t *need* to see. However, once it was nominated, that meant I would have to see it. I am thrilled it was nominated, because it was excellent. It was charming and simple (I mean that as it was without bells and whistles, not that it was dumbed down in any way). The script was well written, the pacing good, and the acting was excellent. Steve Coogan was perfect as the journalist who wound up telling the story. His dry humor was just right for the cynical character. Judi Dench was absolutely delightful. The two of them together were perfectly balanced, and the script definitely was a part of that. I appreciated that there was a balance to the themes (for instance, the central theme of religion there were both pros and cons represented, and the audience was allowed to come to their own conclusions), and while I am more like Sixsmith, I found myself wishing I could be a little more like Lee. I wouldn’t give this one the statue, but I quite enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I am also adding the book it’s based on to my reading list.

Nebraska Another pleasant surprise. This film was completely under the radar, it seemed. I only discovered it because of its Golden Globe nominations. I thought it looked interesting, and it was on my list of films to see, whether or not it was nominated for an Oscar. Luckily, it got a nomination, because that meant it was easier to see. Unfortunately, we had a wee snafu with our tickets, and missed some of the showing. Fortunately, we can get the film to catch up on what we missed (hopefully today). This film was simple (in the way Philomena was simple), yet different and quirky without trying too hard. I’ve long been a fan of both Will Forte and Bob Odenkirk, and it was wonderful to see them both in roles that carried a little more weight. I find that comedy actors are among the most capable, as comedy is hard, but they aren’t always given a chance to prove it. This film was in black and white, a medium I adore when it is used in a good way as it was here. I give huge kudos to all the actors, even though Dern and Squibb are kind of long shots in their categories. I could see June Squibb getting the statue, if the academy votes for the person they would most like to be their grandmother. (Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, it’s just not likely.) Another film that I highly recommend.

Now we are down to brass tacks. The last three include my favorite, and the two I feel are the major contenders for best picture.

Her This one was my personal favorite. In fact, I already want to see it again because I am thinking about it like crazy. I get that this one might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, it offered a lot of commentary on technology, how that causes us to interact with people (or not), and how the changes in technology and our society as a result could shape services and industries. The gist is that the main character, Theodore, is in the midst of a divorce. He just can’t bring himself to sign the papers. Then, he sees an ad for a new OS. It’s supposed to be so intuitive and customized that it will be revolutionary. And, it is. So intuitive, that Theodore (among others) develop a relationship with the OS. His is named Samantha. Some of the fascinating points of the film are the company Theodore works for (handwrittenletters.com), and how people react to his revelation that his new girlfriend is an OS. I am generally a fan of Spike Jonze’ work, and this was no exception. This film was smart and elegant, and while you might love it or hate it, it will surely get the gears of your brain turning. The acting was all top notch, including the continually up-and-coming Chris Pratt. Amy Adams was wonderful in this film, in fact I thought she was better in this role than in American Hustle. Even if this one isn’t on your list, I still recommend you give it a go. Just don’t fixate on the high-waisted pants too much.

12 Years a Slave This is one of the two real contenders for best picture. Well written and acted, it was also beautifully done. I knew a bit about the film, in that it was the story of a free man who through some mistake wound up enslaved. I didn’t really know the how of the mistake going in, though. This is probably *technically* a spoiler, but it happens really early in the film, and even knowing this small detail will probably not affect the suspense. However, Solomon Northrup is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The thing is that it seems so ridiculous, and like it should be so far behind us. Yet, it isn’t. People are kidnapped or tricked into slavery, or just sold even today. That is part of what makes this film so effective. While this particular story happened over a century ago, it isn’t all that far removed. I don’t want to give away too much more about the story, because I do think that watching it unfold is important. Some of the details are mind blowing, both in that they happened ever, but also because of how things change and do not change.

The acting in this film is incredible. I think Chiwetel Ejiofor will nab the statue for best actor. I think Michael Fassbender will give Jared Leto a run for his money for supporting actor, though his character is so, so evil, it might be hard for the academy to give him the votes. I also think Lupita Nyong’O will get the best supporting award. She is positively stunning, so seeing her filthy and scarred and shamed was even more jarring. Because of the rules about nominations, it must have been hard to narrow down who in this film was submitted. Everyone was excellent. I do highly recommend seeing this, but with the caveat that it is very graphic. I am not squeamish or prudish by any stretch of the imagination, but there was one scene that made me so nauseated I honestly thought I was going to throw up in the theater. I didn’t, but only narrowly. If you are properly steeled for it, you should be okay. I also have to give a proper shout-out to Patricia Norris for her costumes. They were gorgeous. Also, this is another book that is on my list to read.

Gravity This is the other contender for best picture. It really comes down to what kind of film the academy votes for. Given that they are using a ranked choice system for voting, a tie is nearly impossible. Both 12 Years a Slave and Gravity are excellent, they are just very, very different.

Gravity is an excellent example of how messed up the system of creating trailers and campaigns for films is. The thing is that marketing companies are hired to promote a film. They are given some plot information and some raw footage. At that point, the film is usually unfinished. Even if it is “finished” any number of changes can happen as films go through test audiences or try to hit a target run time. So, the marketing company looks at what footage they have that they think will appeal to the target demographic, and maybe will hit some major plot points, if they know any. Hence, you see movies that have little resemblance to the trailers, or things in trailers that never show up in the final film. Or, films that look great in trailers but turn out to be crap, or vice versa.

Gravity was the latter. The trailers looked terrible. Like the film was absolute tripe. So over the top, like a total cheesefest. Not to mention the hint of acting we saw, especially out of context, was the hammiest of hamming. Then, I found out Alfonso Cuaron was the director. That made it a bit of a head scratcher. I mean, the man is immensely talented. He understands editing like the art that it is. How could something that looked so terrible possibly come from such a brilliant filmmaker? Then, some early reviews hit. Folks who were able to see it at festivals raved about it. By all accounts, it was supposed to be mind-blowing. So, I added it to my viewing list, but with a grain of salt. I didn’t want to set my expectations too high, only to have them crushed. The film didn’t disappoint. The moment shown in the trailers, however, was about as maddening in the film. I really wanted to grab Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock) by the shoulders, give her a shake, and a, “Good lord, woman, get a hold of yourself!!!! Overall, though, the film was well done. It was truly an ambitious undertaking on the behalf of Mr. Cuaron, the type that doesn’t happen as often as it should. The type that can fall short, but managed not to here. The run time is surprisingly short for a feature these days, at about 90 minutes, but it was well paced, and with minimal padding (something filmmakers these days really need to embrace). It is one of the very few films that I think 3D enhanced. The 3D was subtle, but used to great effect. The tension was so well placed, and the possibility of either a good or bad outcome was equal right to the very end. I highly recommend this one, especially in a theater. I am betting on Sandra Bullock for best actress. She is America’s sweetheart, and this was a challenging role.

I think that I would give a slight edge to Gravity for best picture, because of the innovation. It really speaks to all the points of what filmmaking is about, in terms of creativity and challenging oneself and the audience. I suspect Alfonso Cuaron will land best director. I thought the nominees were just over half deserving, and just under half were WTF. Spike Jonez was noticeably absent, and given the ambition of his film, I thought that was disappointing. I don’t know that he would have a shot of winning, however he was deserving of the nomination.

Whew! There is my main rundown! I could go on. And on. But, it is late, I have a massage scheduled in the morning to work out the kinks of sitting in a theater all day, and some rest to get so I can tweet about the telecast! Follow me via facebook or twitter, starting around 6pm CST.

linked: where does the time go

February 24th, 2014

It’s no secret that I’m a crazy cat lady cat person. I think everyone would be happier with a kitteh in their life! Nancy Mitchell over at Apartment Therapy has compiled a lovely list of reasons you should have a cat in your life, too. Make sure to watch the video at the end…it contains a most lovely ginger!

I am a little weirded out that one of my favorite flicks, Reality Bites is a whopping 20 years old! How do these things happen?? Luckily, this list of reasons why Vickie Miner rocks helps.

I just saw Dallas Buyers Club as part of our annual ritual of watching all the best picture nominees right before the Oscars. As a film, it was mostly so-so. However, the acting was excellent, and the looks were pretty authentic. Thus, I was blown away to find out that the entire make-up budget was two hundred fifty dollars. Two Benjamins and an Ullyses S. Grant. Definitely rooting for them to win the Oscar for make-up!!

I couldn’t let you go without a little Olympic action. The closing ceremonies are over, but I needed to keep the excitement going for just a little longer! I loved this piece by Will Leitch on the ladies free skate. He watched them all, and it is awesome to know what we don’t see on prime time.

Finally as Jon Stewart might say, your moment of zen. You will want to be sitting down when you watch this bunny show.

squirrely sunday: fun in the snow

February 23rd, 2014

So, much like the rest of the United States, we in Minnesota Minne-SNOW-ta are getting a fair amount of snow. I don’t feel like it’s any worse than usual here, but to hear folks talk, the apocalypse is nigh.

I’ve seen some impressive snow buildings and sculptures while out and about this winter. It’s been years since I’ve done any snowman or snowfort or snow-anything building. However, seeing the cool things people are building, or seeing them out playing in the snow makes it tempting! I’m even more tempted after stumbling upon a blog with some photographs of their impressive snow sculpting. Of course, I have to share the squirrel!

Snow Squirrel

Check out the blog post at Random Charm to see the rest of their snow creations!

Happy Sunday! Keep warm, even when out playing in the snow! xoxox

linked: ring, ring, ring, ring, ring

February 17th, 2014

It seems most of my free time of late has been split between watching the Winter Olympics and reading. I’ve still managed to find some interesting things around the interwebs…even though some of it is still Olympic related. I’ll try to mix them up today to really stretch the Olympic magic.

I’ll begin with a peek at one of my favorite people of all time, and whom I would love to be when I grow up, Tilda Swinton. She marches to the beat of her own drum, and manages to look fantastic doing it!

It turns out that the disciplined Evgenie Plushenko, famed Russian figure skater, has a wife that, um, maybe doesn’t march to the beat of any drum. She stirred up some drama at the Olympics, only loosely related to her husband. You will want to take the link in the article to see her banner. The description of it just doesn’t do it justice.

Speaking of stirring things up, it turns out George Clooney is quite the prankster. Does he take it too far, or just far enough?

My beloved Johnny Weir and I have even more in common than I thought! I’m glad I’m not the only one who keeps a perfect mental record of what I wear, needs to have a debut of my new things, and doesn’t want to repeat at events. Come have a drink with me, Johnny!

So often on the internet, whether it’s on pinterest or blogs, I see people redo furniture. While most people applud or repin these redos, many of them seem to just be for the sake of redoing a piece of furniture. The pieces aren’t necessarily improved, and the person doesn’t always save money over just buying what they really wanted. However, this redo is amazing! I must find a rusty metal cabinet of my own to make magic with!

I’ve long been a fan of Chuck Close. His work is impressive and fascinating. His words on inspiration versus hard work in creating art is so motivating!

Finally, an epic Olympic moment was recreated. Torvill and Dean, who made history on ice with their scores in the 1984 winter Olympics in Sarajevo recently performed their famous “Bolero” routine in the arena where they first performed. This piece is perhaps my all time favorite ice routine. Though it would break the rules of ice dancing competition today, it is still stunning 30 years later.

Have a golden week, friends!! xoxox