Friday, February 27, 2015

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK: ZOMBIESRUN

In the past month or so I have become obsessed with the Zombies Run app. So what exactly is it? It is an app for your phone that you can walk, run, bike, etc to.

“Run for your Life from the Zombie Hordes! Zombies, Run! works anywhere and at any speed. We immerse you in an action-packed game and story mixed with your own music, whether you're jogging in a park, running along a trail, walking to work, or even running on treadmills. And if you want a serious workout, turn on thrilling zombie chases that force you to speed up to escape the hordes!

You are Runner 5. Hundreds of lives are counting on you. You've got to help your base rebuild from the ruins of civilization by collecting critical supplies while avoiding roving zombie hordes. Can you save them and learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse? Even better, you can create your own custom playlists before you start running: the story unfolds in between your tracks through a series of dynamic radio messages and voice recordings. 40 missions included for free, with 120+ extra missions available with Season Passes.”

With the new year I knew I wanted to make fitness more fun. So if you can turn things into a game, I am there. Add zombies. Even better. Its part story, part build your base, part…awesome. I started off with season one (there are three seasons thus far) and hit play for the first episode. I started in a helicopter and I ended up with the zombie hordes chasing me with only Sam Yao’s voice telling me to run. I made it to Abel Township collecting a few pieces of highly valuable like bandages, a power cord, and some bottled water. These items can be used to upgrade Abel Township with a hospital, better defenses, and housing for the non-zombie masses.

Of course everyone in Abel needs to pull their own weight and since you seem to be so awesome about escaping the undead hordes you become Runner 5 (there were 4 before you by the way). Every episode sends you out on a new mission. Sometimes it is to collect supplies (seriously did a truck carrying a boatload of sportsbras just randomly explode sending the gear scattered across the countryside because I really collect a lot of them). Sometimes it is uncovering more of the plot on who shot your helicopter down and where the zombie apocalypse started in the first place. Insert other township intrigue and it is something I would recommend to even non zombie fans.

When you don’t want to do another story mission you can choose to do a supply drop (where you have to run to a real location), Supply runs which can last as long as you want them to, and races. After the first episode, I went back to the gym the next day to hear episode two. Three weeks later I am still hooked. In fact, I may have become a bit of a fangirl. I even follow the blog and really want this t-shirt to come back into stock.

The missions can last 30 minutes or you can choose an hour workout. The best part…zombie chases. Randomly through each episode (should you turn this feature on) you will be chased by zombies. It’s pretty simple in that you run faster for a minute or you will need to drop supplies in order to distract the zombies from nomming on your flesh. I am not an interval training fan, but this is a great way for me to like it. Now of course I don’t always want to run. Sometimes I want to walk around the neighborhood and having my new neighbors look at me with a slightly panicked face break out into a run down the street might give them the wrong impression, so luckily I can choose to turn the chase feature off. I have also changed the way I wanted the app to track especially if I am doing a strength training workout or maybe riding my bike. Or in the case of yesterday’s episode…doing some hard core unpacking and cleaning.

While I listen to the story, I can also listen to my own music which is wonderful. Of course some music apps play better than other (I more often than not use soundcloud), but the music stops when Sam’s voice gets back on the radio and I discover what I need to do next.

It is an amazing app my friends and one that I cannot recommend enough. Completely worth the money. And if you are looking for some music to listen to while running might I suggest this lovely playlist I use. See, I told you I was a fangirl.





STATS:
NAME: Zombies, Run!
COST: $3.99
OPERATING SYSTEM: iOS and Android
CREATOR: Six to Start

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER MR SPOCK

Today we lost a legend, Mr Leonard Nimoy.  I grew up watching Star Trek and Spock was, by far, my favorite character.  Beyond that Nimoy sang one of my favorite childhood songs all about Bilbo Baggins.  He was a veteran, an advocate, an amazing actor, and one hell of a guy.  When I saw today that he had passed away at age 83 from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease I will admit I was a bit gutted.  He was an icon and let's face it I was sort of hoping that the news was wrong.  He can come back right, just like in the movies?

I will never forget the impact he made in my oh so nerdy life.  He made being a geek okay. He made Spock one of the most memorable characters in pop culture history. He also seemed like one hell of a guy. The man will be missed and it is very evident from the interwebs today.  Live Long and Prosper my friends. Mr Spock has been beamed up and he has left behind a much better world because of his existence. My thoughts are with his family and everyone he impacted and inspired. I'm going to go try to be Vulcan now.






Thursday, January 29, 2015

A LONG WAY DOWN: BOOK REVIEW

A Long Way Down
Written by: Nick Hornby
Paperback: 333 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Language: English
June 2005
Genre: Fiction

In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line.

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

What's your jumping-off point?

Maureen // Why is it the biggest sin of all? All your life you're told that you'll be going to this marvelous place when you pass on. And the one thing you can do to get you there a bit quicker is something that stops you getting there at all. Oh, I can see that it's a kind of queue-jumping. But if someone jumps the queue at the post office, people tut. Or sometimes they say "Excuse me, I was here first." They don't say "You will be consumed by hellfire for all eternity." That would be a bit strong.

Martin // I'd spent the previous couple of months looking up suicides on the Internet, just out of curiosity. And nearly every single time, the coroner says the same thing: "He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed." And then you read the story about the poor bastard: His wife was sleeping with his best friend, he'd lost his job, his daughter had been killed in a road accident some months before . . . Hello, Mr. Coroner? I'm sorry, but there's no disturbed mental balance here, my friend. I'd say he got it just right.

Jess // I was at a party downstairs. It was a shit party, full of all these ancient crusties sitting on the floor drinking cider and smoking huge spliffs and listening to weirdo space-out reggae. At midnight, one of them clapped sarcastically, and a couple of others laughed, and that was it-Happy New Year to you, too. You could have turned up to that party as the happiest person in London, and you'd still have wanted to jump off the roof by five past twelve. And I wasn't the happiest person in London anyway. Obviously.

JJ // New Year's Eve was a night for sentimental losers. It was my own stupid fault. Of course there'd be a low-rent crowd up there. I should have picked a classier date-like March 28, when Virginia Woolf took her walk into the river, or November 25 (Nick Drake). If anybody had been on the roof on either of those nights, the chances are they would have been like-minded souls, rather than hopeless f*ck-ups who had somehow persuaded themselves that the end of a calendar year is in any way significant.


+++++++++++++

I'm a Nick Hornby fan. High Fidelity and About a Boy are two of my favorites. I sat here wondering why I like them. And I think it comes down to this…they are messy. Sometimes you don’t like the characters or the things that they do to one another. Other times the evoke the feelings and regrets none of us ever really want to feel. Nothing is tidy. Nothing is perfect. It’s just kind of life. In A Long Way Down none of the characters are really likable and they are mostly horrid to one another and yet they are also strangely endearing. They don’t want to be friends. They are just brought together by unusual circumstances and need one another whether they would like to admit it or not.

Let’s face it we have also all probably gone through a day when you kind of want to give up on at all…but you don’t. Some of us have had a serious bout of depression where this feeling has lasted longer. We get through it or try the best we can. But what if on that horrible, no good, very bad day you met up with 3 other strangers that were having it just as tough as you? What would you do? This is the premise of A Long Way Down.

It’s a ridiculous coincidental and absurd premise that begins with four people who meet each other on the top of a building on New Year ’s Eve as each prepare to throw themselves off the roof. Martin is first. He has lost his marriage, his kids, his job, and reputation because he spent a bit in jail after sleeping with a 15 year old, he thought was 18. It doesn’t help that he happened to be an on air personality. Just as he is about to jump 51 year old Maureen climbs up to join him. She, too, doesn’t have the most amazing life. She is the single mother to Matty, her severely disabled son. She has no friends, no hobbies, no lover…just Matty and it is an undeniably lonely existence. Martin, halting his jump since it is a lot harder when you have an audience, backs away from the ledge just in time to see teenage Jess run towards the edge. You see Jess slept with Chas who never spoke to her again and she is a bit upset about it all. And finally we have JJ, pizza delivery guy and ex-band member. They can’t all jump now can they?

Instead they eat some pizza and decide to help Jess by tracking down her ex, Chas, who she has not been stalking unless you call tons of phone calls stalking. That solved, they find other things to do that will keep them from jumping. At least on New Year’s Eve that is. At the end of the night they decide to give it a few more weeks, and see if they can help one another out. It’s an odd friendship between four very unusual people, but it will only last until Valentine’s Day right?

Things I liked: This is a story about suicide. There is no getting around that. But like most of Hornby’s works it is also about relationships, life, and manages to deal with suicide not in a callous way but more of in a dark comedy way. In the end it is funny more than it is poignant. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t thought provoking. As someone who has dealt with severe depression it was also a story I could relate to in one aspect or another. This isn’t a story with any easy answers, if there are answers at all. It isn’t full of sentimentality or forcing you what to think or feel. And it sure as hell is not a story that is all self-help and righteousness. It is what it is. Funny, entertaining, and absurd. I think this is why I liked it.

I also liked the ending. There are no solutions that solve everything and tie it neatly in a bow. No one really lives happily ever after. Maureen’s son Matty hasn’t changed. Martin cannot undo his past, Jess’s sister isn’t going to magically reappear, and I sincerely doubt that JJ is really going to get his act together. But I don’t need for them to have storybook endings. I don’t need there to be this overwhelming power of love that heals all wounds and makes everything full of rainbows and puppies. It’s just life. Occasionally life is shitty and you either move past it or you don’t. I still have my craptastic days. I still get scared, angry, panicky, worried, etc. You learn to live with those feelings, you deal with them, and change the situation if you can. Of course sometimes that comes with a whole set of emotions and things to deal with. But, like I said, that is life. I wish it were all rosy, buts it’s not. We make mistakes. That is how we learn and grow, or at least you hope that you do. You also try to find that one thing every day that makes you look forward to the next day.

I liked the way that it was told in rotating first person. As you see the world from each of their point of views you understand why they may have all ended up on that roof and why, as horrid as they are to one another, that they needed one another on that rooftop and maybe, just maybe they will need each other again.

Things I didn’t like so much: For as much as I liked the novel overall, it is not my favorite Hornby book. I had a hard time staying focused on it and I read this over two weeks not my usual day or two. I wish I could put my finger on why I wasn’t immediately captured by the prose or the story. It just seemed a bit uneven overall. I think there are brilliant moments within, but the prose tying those together wasn’t as great as I expected it to be. Small gripe I suppose, but bigger than I want it to be.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. While maybe not his strongest book, I still have a fondness for Hornby and I think you might too.

Part of:Stand alone

Also Recommended: High Fidelity and About a Boy also by Nick Hornby. For another book about suicide I enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: BOOK REVIEW

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Hardcover: 321 pages
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Language: English
October 2014
Genre: YA/Holiday/Anthology

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

+++++++++++++

My good friend Finn is a Christmas-aholic. She is the girl who fills up most of the DVR with Holiday films that they play on Lifetime and ABC Family. She has more Christmas decorations than I do. She absolutely loves spreading the holiday cheer through her wardrobe, music, and general cheer. So of course she would choose this book for book club over the holiday. It’s just my own fault for being behind on actually writing all the reviews…it’s the move people (and all of the things that need to be packed). Finn is also a young adult junkie by the way as well. And I dig anthologies so it seemed like a fit.

I am not a Grinch, really I am not. In fact I like all the warm fuzzies that seem to present around the holidays. I completely love holiday music, Christmas cookies, and the spell of pine when you bring the tree into the house (however, I have never actually went and found my Christmas tree and chopped it down which is just odd since I have lived in Montana for almost a decade now). I love the Christmas lights, candy canes, and watching the snow fall outside. So could this lovely little book fill me full of cheer with its short stories?

Lets discuss: I have said it before and I will say it again, I love anthologies. If they are done right short stories can convey almost as much as the 300 page novel. Plus I love the little bite sized reads. If I need a pick me up or have ten minutes to kill, anthologies are perfect. However, I will admit that it took me a little longer to get through this and I found myself reading the last story an hour before all of the geeky ladies came over for book club.

There is a nice collection of moods and authors, some by authors I like and read (Holly Black, David Levithan, and Laini Taylor) and others I am just discovering and perusing (Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Gayle Forman). I will say it is a bit heavy on the romance, but it is a diverse set of romances which I dug. Next time can they do a Halloween themed anthology because I have, and always will be, a Halloween sort of gal. But Yule does show up as a close second so was nice. This was my anthology version of Love Actually (my go to Holiday movie behind Elf) and it was nice.

"Midnights" by Rainbow Rowell. I think, by far, this was my favorite of the collection because it was so damn adorable. New Year’s Eve has always had expectations. It is a chance to get that new year kiss. Its also one of my favorite part of the holidays. While I tend to stay fairly low key, I always make E watch the ball drop with me and kiss me at midnight. This year we also added some aged scotch to the mix. Sorry, distracted. This story takes place during the midnight countdown over several years and features the same characters. It is not only a lovely story about allergies, best friends, and wanting that kiss from your crush. It is also a story about growing up especially once you leave high school. If I had not just finished Fangirl, this story would make me go out and pick up Fangirl or one of Rainbow’s other novels immediately. This was the perfect example of how you can pack as much punch, character development, and plot in just a few pages and it still has more impact than larger novels. I also want this to be part of Love Actually Part 2. Can we make this happen?

"The Lady and the Fox" by Kelly Link. I have mixed feelings about this one because I actually think it would have been a bit better had it been a little longer. I love the Tam Lin retelling and the overall mood. However, it felt rushed. I needed to know more about each of the characters. I wanted more depth. I wanted more magic. And yet there are things I absolutely loved from the coat, to the snow machine, to even the relationship with the boy everyone wants you to be with but whom you realize will always be more of your friend. And yet this needed to be longer to really have the impact I think Kelly was going for.

"Angels in the Snow" by Matt De La Pena. Finn absolutely loved this one, but for me it was one of the weakest of the stories. While I loved that it featured a male protagonist and even explored some stereotypes about race, I didn’t like the love interest and it was too….I don’t know. I felt like it was trying too hard to have this emotional impact that I wasn’t feeling. I was feeling the playing music in the bathroom though because the acoustics are the best in a bathroom. I say this because I constantly sing in the shower.

"Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me" by Jenny Han. Again one of the weaker stories for me, Polaris tells the story of Santa’s adopted daughter. Think of it like a female version of Elf, but heavy on the young adult, the romance, and the saccharine sweetness instead of the funny ha has. I really didn’t connect with or really like the lead character, so this was a pass for me.

"It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins. This is a love story that happens right away and has the cheese without being too sweet and fluffy. It’s a feel good story and one that has some great dialogue and some memorable characters. Plus I totally get the butterflies in your stomach feeling, the anxiety of the future and what it holds for you and where and what you are supposed to be. Essentially, Stephanie won me over because I want to read more by her because of this story. Damn it, it was just cute.

"Your Temporary Santa" by David Levithan. “He says presents aren't important, but I think they are - not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.” David Levithan wrote Boy Meets Boy so I was happy to see him in the mix of authors for the anthology. His characters feel real to me and this little short story was no exception. I just wanted it to be longer. There is no real beginning and it kind of just ends. In a way I liked it, but because I started becoming invested just as it ended, I wanted more. I like that it is sweet and sad at the same time. Love is a lot of things and you never know what it will become, if it will ever end, but you take what you have at the moment, and hope it is forever sort of thing. Also the little sister is adorable.

"Krampuslauf by Holly Black". If you know me, you know I love Holly Black. So of course she would need to do a Krampus story….go Holly! Continuing with her modern faerie, magical stories, I loved the whole party organization. I dug the characters, the overall storytelling, and made me want to go and hug Holly. She does that to me sometimes. It was a nice little story.

"What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman. In this story a Jewish girl moves to a small Christian town. She feels a bit awkward to say the least. And then she meets someone who feels as much as an outsider as she does. As a girl who moved from New Jersey to Montana I could understand part of it. The first time I lived in Bozeman my roommate had pictures of Garth Brooks and horses on her side of the dorm room. I had Dario Argento and JW Waterhouse paintings. I had an accent. She didn’t. I was finishing my goth/hackers phase. She thought I was the antichrist. So yeah, I get the feeling like an outsider and convincing myself of what everyone thought about me. And yeah one of my first University boyfriends was another urbanite like myself. So I see why the two came together. It was fluffy, but I didn’t mind.

"Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus" by Myra McEntire. Vaughn is a troublemaker and Gracie is the reverend’s daughter. Sound like one you have heard before? Sure. But then what holiday film isn’t filled with tropes and stereotypes. It had some great dialogue even though I felt like things were a little too cookie cutter for me.

"Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White. Probably my second favorite story in the entire collection. While I have never lived in a themed town, I saw the humor in it. Not only did I like the lead character Maria, but I really liked Ben (even though we knew what Ben was short for from the beginning…this is a holiday themed collection after all). I would like to go to a restaurant where the cook brings me exactly what I wanted even though I may not realize I wanted it. Plus I love food themed books for some reason. This is probably because I love food. Anyway, this story was cute, offbeat, and absolutely wonderful. Will totally read something by Kiersten again.

"Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter. Our lead girl here not only gives away her plane ticket to a completely random stranger at an airport, but then pretends to be Hulga…from Iceland. This story completely screams Holiday Hallmark film. And if you have read it, you know I am right. Which is why I liked it. Sure Ethan’s family know that this girl is not Hulga, but they don’t care. She had reasons and they were happy enough to let her continue her ridiculously obvious charade. There would be some great scenes in this Holiday hallmark film just as there were in the short story.

"The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor. This story has a completely different tone and language style than the rest of the stories. Perhaps this is why it is the closing tale. If you have read anything by Taylor, you know that she has her own style of prose. It is not fluffy. It is not sweet. So yes there is a big change of pace here. But this another fairytale and it has the dark and the light all intertwined in it. A Dragon takes a wife and yet it is so much more than that. My biggest disappointment is that it could have taken place during any other time and didn’t really invoke Christmas or Holidays at all for me. But it was still lovely.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you are a Christmas or Holiday addict and like cute…this is for you.

Part of:Stand alone

Also Recommended: For a film anthology that is all Christmasy like definitely watch Love Actually if you have not watched it a million times already. And if you enjoyed the authors, why not pick up some of their longer offerings.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

UNBROKEN: FILM REVIEW

Unbroken (2014)
Directed By: Angelina Jolie
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Genre: DRAMA/WAR/BIOGRAPHY
Rated: PG-13
Time: 137 min
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney
Plot: After a near-fatal plane crash during WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.

Comments: My dad likes war movies. In fact when it comes to our movie nights he more often picks war movies more than any other film we go see. Which sometimes can be pretty hard with a vet. But I indulge him as much as I can. In fact some of them are pretty good. Unbroken is okay. Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand (who also did Seabiscuit) it tells of one man’s refusal to be broken.

Louis Zamperini was a troublemaker as a child. He broke into houses, got into way too many fights and was making his parents grey far too early. But then he started running, channeling all of that defiance into a running career that led him to the Berlin Olympics and nearly a four minute mile. The war came soon after and the athlete became a lieutenant and a bombardier. In May of 1943 his bomber crashed into the ocean and disappeared with only Louis and two of his crewman to survive in the middle of the ocean. What came after that is amazing that anyone survived.

I dig biopics, really I do, but this one didn’t have the intensity and the heart that I wanted from it. After the film was done, I read up on Zamperini because I felt like the little glimpses of this man’s life were mostly focused on enduring horrible things. There was so much more. So much more that could have given the film more heart. At age 17, in 1934, he clocked in at 4:21.2 for the mile which is crazy because the 4 minute mile barrier did not get broken until 1954. Even better when he made it to the Olympics at the age of 19 and had his race, Adolph Hitler shook his hand afterward. 5 years later he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. These things are amazing feats and I felt like all of it was glossed over.

I felt the same about the Bird. Mutsuhiro Watanabe (Takamasa Ishimara) aka “The Bird” was an educated young man who was born into wealth. When he enlisted into the army he expected to become an officer like his older brothers, but his failure to achieve this goal is reported to be one of the reasons General McArthur named him to be one of Japan’s worst war criminals. He abused POWs every day fracturing tracheas, practicing judo on an appendectomy patient, and more. Even worse the psychological torture on those prisoners was renowned as one day he would cruelly beat them and the next he would be offering them candy and cigarettes. None of this is really shown in the film. Sure he is a bastard and takes great pleasure in torturing Zamperini, but his character ends up being so clichéd and one dimensional.

The same goes for the prison camp. I learned after the film that over a third of Allied POWs died while in Japanese detention camps. This is compared to only one percent dying in German camps. German camps. We never see what other prisoners in Zamperini’s camp really endured because instead they sneak messages and play cards. We don’t see everyone who died while in that camp, that the harsh reality of we are all going to die here was real every damn day. Now I will say that Jack O’Connell does a decent job with the material and direction he received. Louis is likable, but I felt like O’Connell is capable of doing much more. Oddly I felt like there wasn’t enough for him to play off of. Sure there are some great scenes, but I wanted more. I wanted there to be a breaking point. I wanted to hear him say I can do this or I will never give up. I wanted there to be…something.

My dad enjoyed the air combat and the airplane sequences and the cinematography was decent enough though nothing spectacular in the way things were shot. I guess my biggest grip is that biopics should have character development and emotional punch you in the gut moments. Zamperini’s life has it all there. And yet both the screenplay and directing seem to focus on the suffering, in fact that is how the story progresses…one horrid thing to the next. This results in showing me a story instead of telling it. It slows down the pacing and makes the film feel a hell of a lot longer than it should. It also robs the lead character, a man who sadly passed away last year before the film was released, of any real depth. He should have depth. This film should have been an Oscar contender. The life is there. My expectations are there. Instead it lacked any real heart. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t extraordinary and it should have been. I wanted Seabiscuit level amazing. Instead I felt like I got a tv movie version with a bigger budget.

Rent/Cinema? Rent. The book is better which is painfully obvious only a few chapters into the book. It is worth renting so that you can learn about Zamperini’s life, but the film takes an amazing life and manages to suck out all of the amazing bits. It gets 2 and three quarter stars because without this film I wouldn’t have picked up the book nor would I have learned about this man’s story.

2.75/4 popcorns

Friday, January 23, 2015

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: MUSIC THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

5 Fandom Friday is a series hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.This week’s Fandom Friday is all about Songs that Changed your Life. But I cannot choose just five songs, so instead I am going to do 5 artists/bands that changed my life. I love music. There is a song for every mood and every event in your life. I love to make cd mixes for people to introduce them to new artists and am so excited that E and I will be near a music scene again. So are there amazing songs or artists that changed your life? Is there a particular band or song that I need to listen to right now? Feel like doing a music swap with me?


Tori Amos
When Little Earthquakes came out I found an artist that I really resonated with. In fact I was convinced that Tori somehow knew my life. I connected with each and every song. Later in my life, I connected with other songs far more than I ever expected to. Tori helped me get through a very tough and traumatic part of my life. She also helped me heal through her music. For that she will always be an artist that changed my life. And I will always be grateful. I chose Winter as a song to highlight her because one: I love the video because I love the kids and two: the song is great. ‘Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown / I hear a voice, "You must learn to stand up for yourself / 'Cause I can't always be around”


MUSE
I was late to the MUSE party meaning I didn’t really discover them until after Absolution came out and my best friend put them on a cd for me. I was immediately hooked and decided that Matt Bellamy’s voice was right up there with Maynard Keenan. In fact if the two of them were on the same stage together I might die of fangasm, so someone should totally make this happen. To this day the two MUSE concerts I have been to are some of the best experiences I have ever had. Seriously. The song I chose is Starlight because I cannot help but be happy every single damn time I hear it. I also run to Assassin on a regular basis and play a mean Hysteria on Rockband.


Paul Simon
There are some artists who you cannot help but love. When their songs are on the radio you sing your heart out and you will pretty much follow them around the country going to their concerts. Paul Simon has been like that for me. I have planned vacation trips based on where his concerts would be and at this time is the person I have seen the most in concert (Tori is second). The music he has done as a solo artist is so rich and colorful. I am also probably one of the few people in the world who actually really loves The Capeman, his sadly not well received Broadway musical. And lets face it Graceland is just frakking awesome. The song I chose is You can Call me Al because it is one of the few music videos I really remember loving back when MTV actually aired videos. Plus it is just fun. I am singing to it right now even.


Madonna
Lets face it…Madonna is the queen. Growing up in the eighties I listened to her, dressed like her, and kind of wanted to be her after seeing Desperately Seeking Susan. For me there has always been an empowerment element to her music. She definitely wasn’t afraid to express her sexuality and that is incredibly liberating. She is a kick ass dancer. Her shows are reportedly awesome. And who can forget her music videos. I am choosing the MTV presentation of Vogue because those costumes are amazing. Love her. Enjoy my friends. Enjoy.


Maynard James Keenan
Maynard James Keenan has been the frontman of many bands from Tool, to a Perfect Circle, and more recently Puscifer. He is also quite the wine connoisseur (check out the great documentary Blood into Wine about his vineyard and winery). Again, through his incredibly personal music, I feel like I got through some difficult points in my life (Tori refers to him as an unofficial brother). But he has also made me laugh and he’s made me dance around like a crazy person. More importantly when he sings it sends shivers down my spine. His music gets to you, crawls beneath your skin and all in a good way. For me the music, the instrumentation, and the experimentation with sound is just incredible. Sadly I have never seen him in concert which is a shame. So I will have to be content with all of his albums for now. In a way that is kind of how I like Maynard, alone and in my own space. I chose the song The Mission because it features the Fifth Element herself, Milla Jovovich (whom I loved since the film The Night Train to Kathmandu)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

SUNDAY SEVEN: 7 MORE FILMS OF 2015

It is now 2015 folks. New adventures and new…MOVIES. Last week we went over the films for January through March. This time we are starting to get into the beginning of Summer Blockbuster territory. Did I miss anything? What are you looking forward to this year?

Furious 7 // April 3rd
Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother. Sadly this will be the last entry for Paul Walker who passed away last year. There is something about the Fast and the Furious movies that E and I just really enjoy. It has to be the cars. The pretty, pretty cars.

Avengers: Age of Ultron // May 1st
And thus the Summer Blockbusters begin. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things don’t go as planned and Ultron is born. Now it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous AI from eradicating humanity from Earth. Whoo hoo. This Marvel fangirl is excited. I have faith in Joss that he will wow me yet again. Also…Scarlet Witch. Perhaps laying the groundwork for a Civil War film. Introducing some characters we will see in their own films in the next few years. Seriously.

Far from the Madding Crowd // May 1st
While I love my action films, I also dig period pieces. I also have a soft spot for Thomas Hardy as depressing as his works are. In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor. The film stars my favorite ‘should have been a Doctor companion’ Sally Sparrow aka Carey Mulligan. I know I will see it. Because, yes, I am that sap. Told you I was a girly girl.

Pitch Perfect 2 // May 15th
Acca-scuse me? Oh hell yeah the Bellas are back. E and I love this movie, occasionally quote it and are excited to see the ladies try and win an international competition that no American team has ever won. Elizabeth Banks gets to direct this one and I have high hopes for it. And is soundtrack.

Mad Max: Fury Road // May 15th
Tom Hardy is taking over Mad Max Rockatansky in this installment from George Miller. An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There's Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland. Together they fight an evil warlord named Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). From what I hear Miller also used detailed storyboards instead of a script.

Tomorrowland // May 22nd
Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory. George Clooney plays the role of inventor Frank Walker who travels in time in this sci-fi mystery film that also stars Hugh Laurie, Kathryn Hann and Tim McGraw. Brad Bird did a good job with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and the script is co-written by Lost’s Damon Lindelof. The trailer made me interested, though it is another film based on a Disneyworld attraction. Then again so was Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jurassic World // June 12th
Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993), Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor's interest, which backfires horribly…as per usual. Oh yeah Chris Pratt and the Raptor Pack. I don’t care how formulaic these films are or that no one seems to understand that you shouldn’t create hybrids out of extinct creatures. It doesn’t matter. Its dinosaurs. And Starlord. I remember seeing the first film a half a dozen times in the theater over 20 years ago…holy cow I’m old. I loved it. And then I moved to Montana, met Dr. Horner a few times, and still love the dinos. It has a decent cast and the trailer may have made me squee just a little bit.

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: CONVENTIONS

5 Fandom Friday is a series hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.This week’s Fandom Friday is all about Fandom Conventions. More specifically it is about conventions you have either attended or would like to attend. Now living in Montana, there are not too many close by conventions, so if you are on a limited budget it is hard to make it out to cons like SDCC and such. However this all changes in March when I move to San Francisco with E. So excited and already planning my attack for convention season in the next year and a half. So are there amazing conventions that you have been to that I need to check out? What conventions would you love to attend?

SDCC
We will start this list off with the big con I have attended a couple of times – San Diego Comic Con. It’s been a few years as prices have skyrocketed and it is so often sold out before you can even blink. However, it is hella fun as long as you don’t mind invasion of your personal space because holy cow…crowds. Also get used to standing in line. And yet it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The last time I went was with 5 of my guy friends several years back. I was the girly geek in the group, but I didn’t mind. I met so many amazing people, went to wicked awesome panels (BSG and Dr Horrible I am looking at you), and came home with a suitcase far too full. I am not sure if I would go back to SDCC though, maybe NYCC for a change of scenery.

Emerald City Comic Con
Next we will talk about the one convention I know I am going to this year or at least I have the tickets for it – Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington. This three day event of absolute geekiness gets bigger and bigger every year. In fact last year the gaming portion of the con moved over to the Sheraton hotel to make room for an expanded show floor. My friends Missy and Kristin have been trying to get me to go for the past couple of years and I have been going through convention withdrawals, so I am hoping to be there at the end of March.

Dragon Con
Dragon Con in Atlanta allows me to do two things and cross them right off that bucketlist. One: go to a completely wicked convention that has had an annual all Klingon, Miss Klingon beauty pageant. Two: Allows me to go see the whale sharks as the aquarium while I am in Atlanta. The parade of cosplayers down the streets of Atlanta always looks pretty amazing and I have heard that it is one of the more fun conventions to go to when you are more of an adult geek such as myself aka over the age of 30.

PAX
Penny Arcade eXpo or PAX is held in Seattle. Sadly E and I had tickets to it a couple of years ago but were unable to go due to finances. Which totally bums me out because as a gamer of both tabletop and console, I relish the chance to nerd out at a gaming convention. It appears to be a gamer’s mecca and one that also is getting larger and larger every year if you are lucky enough to get tickets (last year they sold out in 6 hours). I am hoping that being a tiny bit closer to a ton of flights and a decent jaunt in a car, that I will be able to go to this in the next couple of years.


Alternative Press Expo
Alternative Press Expo used to be held in San Francisco after moving from San Jose where it will be returning to in 2015. As a very fond admirer of comics that aren’t necessarily your big publishers, I think it is awesome that artists and writers have a place to showcase their work. I have friends who work in the comics industry and do amazing things but may not be Marvel or DC. It is a little smaller convention, but that is okay. Last year they had some decent panels. I think it would be a fun thing to go to.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CAPTAIN MARVEL: VOLUME 1 - COMIC REVIEW

Captain Marvel Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight
Written by: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Illustrated By: Dexter Soy and Emma Ríos Comic: 136 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Language: English
January 2013
Genre: Comic/Superhero

“Hero! Pilot! Avenger! Captain Marvel, Earth's Mightiest Hero with death-defying powers and an attitude to match, is back and launching headfirst into an all-new ongoing series! As Captain Marvel, a.k.a. Carol Danvers, comes to a crossroads with a new life and new romance, she makes a dramatic decision that will alter the course of her life and the entire Marvel Universe in the months to come. It's time to go HIGHER, FURTHER, FASTER and more in the most super-powered comic around!”

The "Mightiest" of Earth's Mightiest Heroes is back! Ace pilot. Legendary Avenger. One hundred percent pure bad-^&*. Carol Danvers has a new name, a new mission - and all the power she needs to make her own life a living hell. As the new Captain Marvel, Carol is forging from a challenge from her past! It's a firefight in the sky as the Banshee Squadron debut - but who are the Prowlers, and where has Carol seen them before? And how does secret NASA training program Mercury 13 fit in? Witness Captain Marvel in blazing battlefield action that just may change the course of history! Avengers Time Travel Protocols: engage!


+++++++++++++

Carol Danvers is dealing with a lot of changes in her life. Her friend, Captain Marvel, the Kree warrior Mar-Vell has died and Carol has taken up the Captain Marvel mantle. But she feels like she has something to prove, to make sure that she deserves to take the moniker. She is still as snarky as ever though as she and Captain America take out the Absorbing Man. She is feeling insecure, unsure about this new identity, unsure of what comes next.

On a simple flight to honor a good friend, remind herself of where she came from, and clear her head a bit, Carol suddenly finds herself in 1943 facing down the all-female Banshee Squadron to fight the Prowlers during WWII. Bijou Kawasaki, Daisy, Rivka, and Jerri technically aren’t military, but they are pilots willing to serve the cause. And they are now facing an enemy they are not sure that they can combat. Luckily Captain Marvel is willing to help and find a way to get back to her own time.

Things I liked:
Captain Marvel is one hell of a bad ass and I am already a proud member of the Carol Corps. Carol Danvers is an interesting lady. She isn’t sure where she wants to go with her life. She knows she is something more and wants to do something more. But what exactly is that ‘more’? In this first volume Carol has re-emerged not as Ms. Marvel but as Captain Marvel. She has always been Ms. Marvel, but not that the man who indirectly made her a superhero has died and she is trying to redefine herself. This is an exploration and one that involves new hairstyles, new costumes, and a new sense of identity. Oh and time travel.

I love Carol. She is the sort of woman you aspire to me. She is funny, independent, and completely bad ass. When I think of strong female superheroes she will always be in my top three. Obviously having the amazing Kelly Sue DeConnick at the helm makes me love Carol even more. Captain Marvel has character development. She is a feminist. She deals with personal relationships and self-doubt. She is sexy and kick ass. Seriously I love her. She’s a superhero, not just a lady superhero. In fact I love how she reminds Captain America that she now outranks him.

I really liked the Banshees, as I did all of the characters. So many strong ladies: feminine, powerful, and independent. Guh. This is why I like DeConnick. It’s why I even liked the role of women in the military theme that was throughout this first volume. When we go through Helen Cobb’s story we see how so many qualified pilots were left out of aerospace programs due to their gender. Gender roles be damned. Carol has always been a military woman and now she outranks Captain America. She is an ace pilot, a hero, and a competent and respected leader who happens to have lady bits.

The final story of this volume made me smile. Carol comes to terms with who she is. It could have happened quite differently. Carol makes her choice and even has a nice revisit to her origin story for those who are not acquainted with her. When she emerges from the tear through time, she truly is Captain Marvel. You go girl!

The artwork: I tended to like Dexter Soy’s work in the first half of the book more than Emma Rios’ though neither detract from the story. For me Rios’ art was a bit too stylized for my tastes and yet beautiful in its own way.

Things I didn’t like so much:
As I said I liked one artist more than the other but that is just personal preference in art style so not really a dislike. I think sometimes the voices slip a little, but this is a very minor gripe. I thought it was a great return to the Carol-verse for me which has been a little bit. I would highly suggest newcomers to start here if you don’t know Carol because let’s face it, she is one hell of a woman.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. Whoo hoo Carol Danvers. So worth checking out.

Part of:Continuing series

Also Recommended: As a Marvel Fangirl, I would also recommend any graphic novel trades of Carol’s other life as Ms Marvel or the current Ms Marvel Kamala Khan. Saga by Brian K Vaughan is excellent, Fray by Joss Whedon, Rat Queens by Kurtis J Wiebe, Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman, and Black Widow: The Name of the Rose by Marjorie M. Liu are also great reads.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

SUNDAY SEVEN: 7 FILMS FOR 2015 (JAN-MAR)

It is now 2015 folks. New adventures and new…MOVIES. I think this year is going to be great. One amazing thing about California is that I will be able to see a lot more of the smaller releases which kinda fills me with joy. So here are seven films that I am looking forward to seeing in the new year. Did I miss anything? What are you looking forward to this year?

Project Almanac // January 30
A group of teens discover secret plans of a time machine, and construct one. However, things start to get out of control. To be honest it looks like The Butterfly Effect all Chronicle style, but I am okay with that. The trailer has piqued my interest.

Seventh Son // February 6th
Based on The Spook's Apprentice, a novel written by Joseph Delaney, this fantasy film stars Ben Barnes in the lead role alongside an evil witch played by the amazing Julianne Moore. The cast assembled is pretty good and I always look forward to a little fantasy now and then.

Jupiter Ascending // February 6th
A space opera from the Wachowski siblings tarring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. Delayed a bit longer than I had expected, but each trailer looks more exciting. In short: Kunis is unaware that she is actually the heir to Earth. Cue intergalactic awesomeness, a Queen of the Universe, and Tatum as part dog? I don’t care. I want to watch it.

Chappie // March 6th
Neill Blomkamp (District 9) brings a tale about a robot prodigy who happens to be kidnapped by a couple of monsters and becomes part of a very dysfunctional family. It looks great and will probably make me cry. It also stars High Jackman and Sigourney Weaver.

Cinderella // March 13th
Kenneth Branagh directs this live action Disney princess story with Cate Blanchett who has kitties on leashes, and Lily James (Downton Abbey) as Cinderella. I will always be a Disney fangirl no matter how much I try to stop. I know I will go and see this one.

In the Heart of the Sea // March 13th
Ron Howard directs this film based on the 1820 event that inspired Moby Dick. Basically a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home. It stars Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Ben Whishaw

Insurgent // March 20th
Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side. The first trailer had me extremely worried, but the new trailer hopes that they can continue what they started in the last film adaptation.