Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alice in Wonderland Review

I've always disliked Alice in Wonderland.  Too creepy--I think it was that live action version that came out when I was a kid that really got to me.  Since it, I've avoided even the cartoon version.  Moo on the other hand read the book fairly regularly (if I recall correctly).  And she loved the cartoon version too.

So it was with no small amount of trepidation I went to see the Tim Burton/Disney  Alice in Wonderland

And loved it.

It's a fantastic movie.  Sure it's kind of creepy, but not nearly as much as I thought it would be. 

Though, let's be clear: I don't think it's a movie I'd take children to see.  There is some violence/scary stuff that I think would have taken its toll on me as a child.  So, proceed with caution if you're hauling kids to see it.  (Though, I think in a way it IS a child's movie: children deal with things they find truly scary (whether adults find the same things scary or not) as a matter of course  and enjoy reading about scary things in a make believe world because it mirrors their own reality--but whether your kid wants to watch a movie with those kinds of things, even in a make believe world, is another matter entirely).

But for was wonderful.  I love that I could be drawn into a story I didn't want to know more about, and that I thought I knew everything about, was surprising.  This movie took what I knew and added to it, making it a rich story I could enjoy being a part of. 

And there are three characters that really do that: Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts.  I don't know which I liked more. 

Alice has a sort of dreamy feel to her character--and I think the trip to Wonderland is the perfect proving grounds for her perception of herself.  She knows (or thinks she knows) what she is capable of, but everyone in "real" life and in Wonderland pushes her to do and be certain things she doesn't want to do or be.  And it is only through facing some truly scary things (scary because they aren't in the "real" world and don't follow the roles of Victorian England...and they're monsters, too, whether a beast, soldiers of cards, or people with evil agendas) that she finds she is Courageous and Smart and Capable.

The Mad Hatter is--wonderful.  I can't say more without spoiling things.

And the Queen of Hearts: she's evil but I loved her!  I loved her mannerisms, her cool heart sunglasses for croquet, and her petty temper.  Fabulous.

I loved the movie, I plan to watch it again.

Though, it has ruined one thing for me (I guess this really goes back to the Disney cartoon version, though this movie perpetuated it a little)...I can't take purple irises seriously anymore.  And my backyard has quite a few of them, and I took some pictures  for bragging purposes to share with you. 

I'd like to know what you thought about the movie--so leave a comment or two. --Lu

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Sprang Sprung!

Welcome, welcome Spring!

Sigh.  The sky is blue, the trees are in bloom, and I'm heading outside to play a game of Revised Volleyball.  You should come along too!

Sending spring breezes and pink blossoms your way,

Monday, March 22, 2010

Icy Roads Take Me Home

 When I took our truck in to be serviced a week or so ago, I left pretty early in the morning--which meant I'd have plenty of time to run errands after the routine maintenance was completed.  It also meant that snow was still abundant on the passing scenery, as shown in this photo:

This concept--snow--is like the parks/vegitation of the east for an Arizona desert rat like me.   (and I know the snow in these pictures is nothing for you easterners...a little piddly snow, very blah.  But see! this is NEVER snowy.  This is DESERT.  These are scrubby desert plants.  See how spokey they are, and probably prickly too, waiting to jab you when you walk by them.  That is how desert plants are, I tell you.)

Icy roads, however, aren't so much a novelty as...well, a new experience that borders on nightmarish.  And I ran into (or rather, drove along) some icy roads that day too.  The closer I got to my destination, the icier the road became.  I felt the tires lose traction a few times, but I drove nice and slow, like everyone else and eventually made it to my desitnation unharmed--albiet later than I'd hoped.

What was odd to me, and maybe you've found yourself in a similar situation, was that I didn't really have any option other than to keep driving along the road even though I didn't know how the heck to drive the Right Way on ice.  So did that make me a hazard on the road?  I think at least, a little--yes.  I was alert, doing my best to avoid really slick looking patches, driving slowly--but the thought haunted me that I could possibly make a novice's mistake that could do some serious damage.

I wonder what other people do in situations like that?  And isn't driving one of those activities that forces these kind of situations on us almost regularly?  It's really not uncommon to be driving along and encounter something hazardous and/or unexpected and/or that we've never dealt with before.  It's usually weather related, but not always.

I guess I'm thinking about my obligations to be prepared to handle those kinds of situations beforehand...but...and this occured to me during the icy stretch of road...even if you know what you're supposed to do, will you really do that in the moment of crisis?  Especially if you've never had the chance/opportunity to try it before?

In conclusion: driving is a sort of nerve wracking thing at times.  Also, even if you're an Arizona driver who never plans on seeing snow, ice, torrential rain, fog, hail, etc., let along drive in them, it still behooves you to learn how to drive in those conditions because You Never Know.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Carving my Own Stamps

For a while now, I've been looking into printmaking.  After reading a few books on the subject (thanks to my wonderful public library system), I took the plunge a few weeks ago and made my first stamps.

They're a little rough looking, yes?
They work really well considering they're made out of cardboard and fun foam.  All you do is draw a design onto the foam, then cut it out (with regular old craft scissors, or a craft knife...but why risk dismemberment?  Use the scissors.)  Then if you were supa smart, you bought pre-stickyized fun foam, and all you have to do is peel off the backing.  If not, you can use glue to stick those bad boys to the cardboard. 

Get out your fabric paints and use a foam brush to put some paint on them and...

Maybe you'll be smarter about your color selection on the paints than I was. 

I'm getting there...

I picked up some carving tools and blocks at Jerry's Artarama in Tempe, AZ.  And can I put a plug in for that store right now?!  Their prices are fantastic. 

(side note and another plug: there's a great little ethnic food store in the same shopping center.  The woman working there when we popped in said she was Somalian.  And we think she caters.  AND! they have beautiful floor length skirts for sale too...)

Printmaking.  Right.  I bought some supplies from Jerry's, and my mom graciously provided some as well.

These are the results:

That was my very first attempt at carving a stamp.  I free hand drew the design and just started cutting.   I used colored pencils to make it pretty after I'd stamped it.

And here's attempt two...I carved a large art eraser this time...I love the red and yellow colors on the finished product.

In conclusion:
1. I've already sliced my finger with the carving tools--but only ONCE! (which, for most workplaces is ONE TIME TOO MANY.  But not here.  This workplace is forgiving.)

2. I don't have enough things to carve--fun foam may have to be my method of choice because it's cheaper than carving blocks...but blocks are so much more fulfilling.  And dangerous (see 1).

3. My crap craft room is in the middle of spring pseudo cleaning (aka I can't/won't/don't know how to to put everything away).  Therefore, the floor is relatively inaccessible...maybe a good thing since I still need to vacuum up that broken glass in the corner....  so I'm not in a good position to produce more stamps and carvings right now.

That means you should be looking forward to some PICTURES instead.  (because my laptop can travel out of the craft room into wide open (and clean) spaces).  

hasta luego amigos!  Let me know what you think about the stamps. Are you going to try it too?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Urban Coyote: The Real Pictures

In my haste to provide my best photos for the last post, I omitted one really important photo--the proof that the coyote was indeed a city dweller.   (thanks jendoop for pointing that out).  Here's the proof:  

See the coyote in the orange circle?  See the sprawling city of Tempe behind him?  And the cars wizzing past on the freeway?  Poor, sad, little City Slicker coyote.  The little patch of desert he and I are in is a city park--it just looks all barren and isolated because desert parks aren't usually nicely landscaped like Real city parks are.  Which is why us Arizona kids get to the Eastern states and flip out.  Because it's like a storybook come to life!

And that leads to the other picture--the cool shot of my siblings on the top of the rocky hill--yeah, in reality, it was a pathetic little hill, but I like having nice looking photos, so I tried to make this one look all cool by shooting from the base of the hill up, thus removing the city and pathetic-ness of the hill from the picture.

The orange circle shows you approximately where I crouched to take the photo, and the fuchsia oval shows more of the city off in the distance.    I like my end photo much, much better. 


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Urban Coyote

We spotted this guy at Papago Park just a few miles from ASU campus:

In  Tempe there's a fantastic museum run by the Arizona Historical Society, and behind the museum there is a nature trail type thing--and it was while on that path that we saw the coyote just a little ways from us.  He didn't seem to mind us being on his territory at all.  
This just goes to show that you don't need to be out in the boonies to have a wildlife moment.