Monthly Archives: December 2012

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Lincoln [2012] (viewed in theaters 18 November 2012)
We saw this at my grandmother’s request as a family. The actors who played Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were amazing. I’m not sure they could’ve been more well-cast. Overall, the film made me (1) want to learn more about Lincoln himself, (2) think of the sinking of the Titanic and films based on said (in that we already know the ending, so it’s only a matter of time before everyone breaks down crying), and (3) want to fist pump and high-five Thaddeus Stevens for being totally badass, driven, and radical. He’s the kind of guy I want on my side, and I wonder how he’d see the present day if he was transported from the Civil War era into the twenty-first century. Stevens might be a historical person I’d like to speak with if given the chance. Man after my own heart. And it made me wonder: what the hell happened to that Republican party, hmm? What happened to all that awesome to create today’s idiotic GOP? Arrrrgh. I have feelings about this, obviously. -_- So much potential, either used up or wasted.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland [ballet] (viewed live ballet 21 October 2012)
After seeing Don Giovanni at the Music Center in Los Angeles, I was made aware of other live performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, including a ballet depicting Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed by the National Ballet of Canada. My family attended a Sunday evening performance dressed to the nines and sat up in the second balcony. I really enjoyed myself, and the ballet was stellar. I borrowed my grandmother’s binoculars and was able to see many of the dancers close up, even though we were sitting so far away. The music was good, the Queen of Hearts great, and Alice (with short, dark hair, as had the original Alice) well-cast. Because there was no speaking and all the performers had to tell the story only through their dancing, I was glad I’d recently read the stories. I also liked the way the ballet ended, in the present day. Very beautiful. (And amazing dancing, as one may expect from professional dancers!)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (viewed at home 07 October 2012)
Grandma chose this film as a “family night” selection, and while I thought it was somewhat outdated in its dealings between women and men in relationships, I could see the value in it after I’d seen the entire thing. It was produced in black-and-white in 1951, and the idea that humanity needs a savior but is too afraid to accept one is quite obvious. The parallels my grandmother drew to Jesus were… unnecessary, in my opinion. I’d like to see the remake, just to see how times have changed (and how they’ve stayed the same), and read the short story upon which both films were based.

Don Giovanni [LA Opera] (viewed live opera 03 October 2012)
My best friend and I attended the performance of Don Giovanni at the Los Angeles Opera after our German teacher suggested the students attend live performances by German composers. He and I got to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with a few minutes to spare to get student tickets ($25 each for seats on the first floor ten rows from the stage = sweet!). I changed into opera-appropriate clothing (my friend had forgotten a tie, but it turned out okay), and we ate expensive salad and desserts (more than $50 for two salads, two desserts, and two Shirley Temples = NOT sweet >_>) before the performance began. I guess I should’ve already known that the opera was written in Italian and not German, but I hadn’t connected that before the performers began to sing. Luckily, the audience was provided with supertitles in English so that we would understand what was actually going on. It was pretty funny, for an opera first performed in the late eighteenth century, anyway. There are two deaths, but the first was necessary for some/most of the plot to take place, and the second was the apparently necessary conclusion for the protagonist so lacking in “good morals”. I also realized that Gaston and Lefou, antagonists in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, were lifted almost exactly from the characters Don Giovanni and Leporello. The difference was that, in Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni/Gaston and Leporello/Lefou are the main characters—it’s their story that’s being told. In Beauty and the Beast, it’s Belle’s. I learn something new every day, it seems.

Gershwin on the Green (LA County Arboretum 08 September 2012)
I think this was Dad’s idea, though I don’t completely remember. We attended the dinner (which we brought) beforehand and had reserved table seating, so we were actually relatively close to the musicians when the performance began. I was able to lie on the grass watching the stars cross the sky and listen to more Gershwin than I ever have before at one time. It was good. Some of the music I recognized, most of it I didn’t. I learned that Gershwin is one of my grandmother’s favorite composers, and the conductor who was originally supposed to be conducting the performance (Marvin Hamlisch) had died shortly before, so the entire concert was dedicated to him instead. In between pieces, various people close to Hamlisch metaphorically sung his praises, which I found annoying, but I’d never met the man, so who am I to deny those mourning a little bit of celebration and closure? I had a good time despite the concert’s interruptions, and I’m glad I went.

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (viewed at the cheap theater 02 September 2012)
I chose this movie as a “family night” event because (1) it looked interesting, and therefore (2) I wanted to see it, and (3) it reminded me of my grandmother. The was one character in particular, Muriel (played by Maggie Smith, a woman actor who I absolutely adore), is racist but has a good heart and comes to appreciate the dilapidated hotel and its staff and residents—and that’s exactly like my grandmother. (I’m pretty sure my grandmother didn’t see herself in that character, though, at least not the way I saw her. Grandma has denied multiple times over being racist, or ever having been racist in the past when it’s clear to many/most/all people around her that actions speak louder than words.) Anyway, I liked the movie. It’s a film I’d see again and wouldn’t be put out if I had it in my collection. It made me think about relationships people have with one another across races and genders. Recommended.

The Land Before Time (viewed at home 22 August 2012)
OMG I hadn’t seen this movie since I was a kid. I watched it this time with my best friend, who’s a paleontologist. Let’s just say, it was more fun watching it when I was a kid. Little Foot, Cera (I’d always thought her name was “Sarah” but I guess I was wrong), Ducky, Petrie, and Spike were much more interesting when I didn’t have a friend telling me everything that was wrong with the movie in real time. >_> It was okay, but really?

Moonrise Kingdom (viewed in theaters 21 August 2012)
I was feeling pretty crappy and pretty on edge late one night and so I picked up my best friend and drove around for a while before deciding that we should do something instead of just wasting gas. So we went to see Moonrise Kingdom at the Arclight in Pasadena. I hadn’t even seen a single preview for it, so I wasn’t even sure if it’d be the kind of movie I’d actually want to see. Luckily for me (and my wallet), it wasn’t a horror film, but it was pretty strange. It had Edward Norton and Bill Murray in it, though, so how could I really go wrong? Anyway, it was good, but…. strange. A children’s love story? Well, yes.

Savages (viewed in theaters 15 August 2012)
I saw this movie by myself because I don’t know anyone who’d want to see it with and with whom I’d actually want to sit through a movie. (Yes, I am picky.) I went to see it to see how the director/producers/whomever treated a committed, romantic, and sexual relationship between two men and a woman wherein there was no jealousy. I liked the beginning. I thought all the voice over was kinda weak. I abhorred the revelation of the main character’s rape. (Really? Do movies really always have to use rape as a terror tactic in kidnapping situations? I realize a lot of the time that’s the reality, but I don’t go to the movies for reality, do you? Not to mention I could’ve really used a trigger warning at that point.) I liked the first ending better than the “real” ending, even though the former was sadder and more bloody than the latter. The whole movie was the “good” guys (white pot smokers, of course) against the “bad” guys (a semi-stereotypical Mexican drug cartel) with corrupt American cops on the side. In the end, I didn’t really like any of the characters and what the main character says about how she’s not sure that three people can really truly love each other equally was really disappointing. Eh, I think the movie had potential to show alternative relationships in a positive light, but by the end the whole thing was pretty clearly a shot at hedonism. Overall, I was severely disappointed after getting my hopes up. I guess I should’ve known better; a movie about hash and drug running take anything seriously? Of course not. Sad.

Snow White and the Huntsman (viewed in theaters 25 July 2012)
Went to see this with my sister. Was pleasantly surprised, bt I can’t tell if that’s because I had such low expectations, or it was really a decent movie. The actress who played Snow White wasnt the greatest, but the one who played the Queen was amazing. The story made me rather more interested in the Queen’s version of events than anything Snow White or the Huntsman had to say. I was also interested in the unresolved love triangle—and I’m glad it was never resolved. I can see that was an opening for another film in the future, since “happily ever after” is when the real interesting stuff begins, but I don’t know if this film was popular enough to warrant a sequel. My sister commented that she thought that Snow White and the Huntsman was “her” movie and another film based on Snow White called Mirror Mirror (which I’ve never seen) that came out at roughly the same time was “mine”. I don’t know how I feel about that since I actually did really like this movie, and I’ve never seen the other, so. Also, I was so happy to see Snow White wearing armor that’s actually armor and not some nonsense like bikini chain mail or whatever.

“Messages from Margaret” review

Messages from Margaret coverMessages from Margaret:
Down-to-Earth Angelic Advice
for the World… and You

By Gerry Gavin
Hay House, Inc.
17 December 2012

Do you believe in angels? Gerry Gavin does, and in Messages from Margaret, he channels his guardian angel to give advice to the world… and us. I admit that when I first picked up this relatively short (135-page) book, I thought it was fiction. I’m not a big believer in angels or any other spiritual beings that claim to guide humans out of the goodness of their hearts, and guardian angels fit right into that category. I can, however, suspend my disbelief long enough to get into a good story. If you think about this book as fiction, it’s a pretty easy, thought-provoking read.

Messages from Margaret isn’t presented as fiction, though; it’s presented as a medium truthfully and honestly writing down his angel’s messages from which everyone (everyone who can read in English, at least) may learn. It’s clear that Gerry Gavin truly believes he’s speaking with Margaret, an angel who was among the first created after the Creator decided to expand its consciousness (that is: create the universe and our world). “It has been an incredible experience for me,” he writes near the beginning of the book, “because when you are channeling information, you are both writing and reading the book at the same time!” So, while I was reading the book, I had to keep remembering that even if I didn’t believe it, he did (and does).

All right, so. Assuming I believe that Margaret is a real angel and is speaking to the author, who is simply writing down what she tells him, the first chapter is Gavin’s introduction to Margaret’s directions to anyone who’s willing to listen (that is: anyone who is interested enough to pick up the book and read it in the first place). Gavin speaks very (very) briefly about his initial reluctance to believe in spirit guides and angels and then suddenly (it seemed sudden to him, also, apparently) he was doing “readings” for people when they asked for advice from Margaret.

Ask yourself this: are you a “glass half empty” type person or a “glass half full” type person? Margaret, Gavin’s guardian angel, says that most people in the world today are actually neither. Instead, the majority of people are the “I’d rather not think about the glass at all” type—self-interested, disenfranchised, and weary of politics and religion. I definitely fall into that category. It feels like a lot of Margaret’s advice is genuine and earnest, but also like some of it is so vague that anyone with half an ounce of logic and common sense would already know it. (But then again, the world is falling apart, Mayan calendar or no [don’t even get me started on that], so maybe I’m assuming most people have more logic and common sense than they actually do? What am I talking about?—of course I am. /sigh)

I don’t really know what I was expecting from Messages from Margaret, but I think I wanted to know more about the medium/author than I learned. The title isn’t misleading, once I was able to get past the idea that Gavin was channeling an angel, so I realize that learning more about the author wasn’t really the point of the book. The messages Margaret wishes to portray seem too general and often too rooted in the English language (his-story rather than “history”, separating “conscience” into con [against] and science [knowledge], and so on). That’s not to say they’re incorrect, but I don’t think that this book will be as helpful as Gerry Gavin (or Margaret) hopes. It’s well-intentioned, don’t get me wrong, but it’s too centered on English-speaking peoples and too American-centric for my tastes. (Mentioning having a little voice in your head tell you to check the gas gauge on your car before you run out of fuel assumes so much about the reader that I don’t even know where to begin.)

I think this book may be an all right read for someone who already tends to believe in the supernatural, spirit guides, and the general goodness of beings that we can’t see. But I don’t think it’s advice for the world—unless the entire world looks a lot like the United States. Sorry, that just doesn’t cut it for me.

DISCLAIMER: I received Messages from Margaret free from Hay House, Inc., for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Dermal Revitalizing Agent

Dermagist Dermal Revitalizing AgentNOTE: I’ve been sitting on this review for more than a couple months, and there’s a combination of reasons why I haven’t published it until now. The obvious reasons include computer problems and lack of time to finish writing up my thoughts. The less obvious reason is actually the more important one: I didn’t see any significant difference in the way my face looked before than after doing my a-little-more-than-one-month trial—see for yourself. (As usual, if you’d like a larger picture, please click the images to the left and right. The image directly to the right will take you to the Dermagist website.)

August 10, eveningDay 1: evening of Friday, 10 August 2012. This image is from right after I washed my face but before I began using the cream. The first half of the month I used Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub to wash my face before applying Dermal Revitalizing Agent from Dermagist; the second half (after I ran out of the scrub), I used Clearasil Daily Clear Oil-Free Daily Face Wash. Since this review is for the Dermagist product, I won’t be talking about the scrub or face wash, but I wanted to mention them so that other readers (consumers) will have the full story. All right, so, this image is my baseline. The Dermal Revitalizing Agent purports to do four main things: “Dramatically reduce the look of wrinkles, redness, enlarged pores, and age spots with this ‘all-in-one’ creamy serum.”

August 20 late morningDay 10: late morning of Monday, 20 August 2012. This image was taken shortly after an application of the serum. As you can tell, I don’t have many wrinkles or age spots (yet), but I do have some faint skin redness and enlarged pores—the latter of which is the primary reason I chose to review this serum over the other products Dermagist offers. I received a package in the mail in early August containing a full-size vial of the Dermal Revitalizing Agent—something I really appreciated because it allowed me to really put the serum to the test before reporting to you all. The directions in the package I received (and which I followed to the best of my ability) indicated that twice a day I should wash my face, apply the serum liberally, gently rub it in until it disappeared, and then carry on as usual. I really liked the serum’s smell and feel on my skin; it’s a bit orangey smelling and feels fresh, not at all oily. When it rubbed in, it was like I never applied it at all: very promising. I don’t wear makeup except on special occasions, so even applying Dermal Revitalizing Agent twice a day was a big push up for me.

August 31 eveningDay 21: evening of Friday, 31 August 2012. This image was taken after the second serum application of the day. A little more than halfway through my trial, I still hadn’t seen much (any?) improvement in the size of my pores, though I admit my skin was cleaner and clearer than normal because I was taking care of it rather than just ignoring it until the last possible moment. I was discouraged, but I’d started the trial and I was going to finish it, dagnabit. After all, some skin treatments take four-to-six weeks to take full effect, and I hoped that was the case here. Even though it was a full-size product instead of a trial-size, one thing that annoyed me about the vial was that when I pressed down the squirter part, it didn’t quite give me enough serum to cover my entire face. But when I pressed it down twice, I had way too much. There’s no way to put the serum back into the vial—not that I’d want to anyway, I suppose—but what was I supposed to do with the extra? Use it on my hands? It seemed like a waste.

September 13 early afternoonDay 34: early afternoon of Thursday, 13 September 2012. This image was taken shortly after my last application of Dermal Revitalizing Agent. Unfortunately, I didn’t see much improvement in any of the ways that Dermagist promised, even after 34 days (four weeks and some change). Now, I admit that I’m a bit young to try reducing wrinkles or age spots, so perhaps I’m not the target audience for improvement in those areas. However, I do have enlarged pores and some faint skin redness (as I mentioned, and as I’m sure you can tell), and so I am at least part of the target audience for an entire half of Dermal Revitalizing Agent’s explicit purpose. With a price tag between $75 and $100 for one 50 mL vial (the price depends on if you can get it at a discount or not), it wouldn’t be worth it for me to continue to purchase this product. In the end, the negatives (the lack of positives, actually) outweighed the positives. Maybe older users have had more luck. Dermagist says it has a thirty-day money-back guarantee, but I’ve also heard some not-great things about their customer service and auto-ship program, so your mileage my vary.

Most of Dermagist’s products are more on what I would consider the expensive side, but if they work, they work. I wish that was the case with the serum I tried. They ship orders over $198 for free, ship worldwide, and accept Paypal and credit cards through Paypal. If you try out Dermal Revitalizing Agent (or any other Dermagist product), let me know how you like it!

Winterthing!

Hello, everyone and all my readers! The purpose of this post is two-fold.

First, I am officially opening up requests for a holiday card from me, if anyone would like one. From a previous post:

#4 This is my official (if not a bit half-assed) call for anyone who would like to receive a Winterthing card from me this year. I’ve got some special cards and I want to share them with you all ^_^. So, if you’re interested in receiving a card with a yearly update from me, email me (see my contact page for the email address) or leave a note here with you[r] address (if you’re comfortable with that). I like sending out real mail to people, so the more, the merrier. I hope you’d like a card from me, so let me know if you do!

Second! I’ve been asked by various people, on the internet and otherwise, what I would like in my stocking (so to speak) this year. Seeing as today is my half-birthday, I thought I’d make a Winterthing list for myself just in case anyone needs inspiration. Here’s what I’d like:

long-shot wish: a new laptop computer (or funds earmarked for said)
everything else:
—unused stamps (USPS), any denomination
—movie money (that is, certificates redeemable at “a movie theater near you”)
—a binder/folder/holder in which to store business cards
—Khaos Komix Steve and Mark and Amber and Nay from Poser Ink
Sherlock (BBC), Season 2
Merlin (BBC), Season 3
Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined), Season 4.5
—your favorite book of all time (and maybe a letter telling me why you loved it!)
—something that you saw and it made you think of me
—money $$$