Thursday, May 31, 2012

Don’t worry darling, we’re hitting up Yorkshire too.

Jensen are I are freaking out about our upcoming adventure. We’re doing a six-week study abroad in Wales/England, and since we’re impoverish and likely to never get across the pond again, we’re going a little early to spend all of our money exploring some of the bits of England, Ireland and Scotland that we won’t be visiting during the course. 

So, by August I will be totally broke. But hey… I would much rather have memories in Albion than a few thousand dollars waiting in a bank, probably destined to vanish without use as the economy continues to suck.

I’ll be fine for a few months, as long as my car doesn’t break down:) Ummm… wood, anywhere? Nope? Okay, I’ll just have to risk it.

Shazia is having her own summer adventure. She’s skipped off to Wisconsin to train horses at a ranch. She’s loving it there, from the adorable Wisconsinite accent and prancing horses to her fascinating roommates. Turns out, one of them is from Yorkshire, so when Shaz told her about our summer plans her reply was “Of all the places in Britain, why would they go to Wales?!”

She walked right into that one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tom Hiddleston proved my sister has a soul.

My generation drives me nutterbutters. They are so unbearably not that funny.

Jensen, my wonderful genius sister, and Shazia, my wonderful genius cousin (destined to be the world's first Mormon-Woman-Arab-American-President) took me rock-climbing a few weeks ago. Afterwards we were sore and exhausted, so our time together eventually mutated into good old-fashioned sacking out in front of the TV. 

Jens and Shaz subjected me to one of their favorite shows. They both love mean-spirited, gouge your eyes out and laugh about it, dead-baby-funny-aneurism-type humor. They’re all about the snark and the snide and disrespect towards everything not-hipster cool and ironic. Urgh.

I’ll admit I very occasionally am caught off-guard and will let out a genuine chuckle in response to some of this crap, but I try not to. It only encourages them.

For the most part, I find my generation's infatuation with all things cynical and bitter (whether they’re vaguely funny or viciously satirical or maniacal) upsetting. Of course, there are exceptions to this generalization. I don’t always have to seek out friends decades older than myself in order to have a deep conversation in which we respect the view-points of other beings...

Occasionally, I see these cynical tendencies in both Jens and Shaz. I call them out on it, but what ensues is basically the grown-up version of repeating everything I just said in a whine.

Eventually we started watching an actual film; War Horse, which I selected. Shaz is an equestrian and Jensen will pretty much enjoy any movie she sits in front of long enough, at least on some level.

For the first twenty minutes or so the two of them went full-on MST3K with it (that’s one of the levels I’m talking about for Jensen’s film enjoyment). I sighed a lot and occasionally threw a “Shut up!” in their direction while also giving apologetic glances to my charming friend Kate.

Then, Tom Hiddleston appeared on screen.

At the time, there was a vaguely supernatural feeling in the air. Everything changed. I might have even vocally said "What just happened?"

*Spoiler* He’s only in the movie for like ten minutes, but Shaz and Jens and started taking the film seriously. 

They spent the next two hours crying like children lost in the woods.

It was very satisfying.

I love the movie, but it was almost as entertaining to watch their cynical smirks slide right off their faces, replaced with rage-facesque tears.

My favorite moments. *More Spoilers*

Jensen falling apart when Joey has his ‘horse-equivalent-of-the-hunger-games’ moment. She had finally dried off before that. Her face was still all blotchy, but she looked like she was on the way to recovery and then she let out a howl like a wounded beast and jets of water squirted from her face.

Then when Joey was running away from the tank, Shazia actually fell off the couch screaming “NO! NO, RUN JOEY!” and crawled on her knees towards the TV, dripping onto the floor as she wailed like an infant.

So, I found myself wondering… what is it about Tom Hiddleston that changed the game? They both cited his appearance as the moment when they stopped laughing and started paying attention, whereas, I was hooked long before that.

Is it that he’s attractive? Is it that he’s classically trained and very, very English? It is that he somehow manages to exude pure sympathetic depth of character? Is it perhaps because his eyes are so very blue, like the cry of shattering glass?!

Personally, I think it’s a little bit of all that, but I did ask them…

They both had the same answer. I think it’s some of the most fascinating psychological weirdness I’ve ever heard.

They recognized him right away. “Hey, that’s Loki!” so they were both immediately concerned for Joey’s safety. They paid closer attention because they felt like he was going to abuse the horse. 

Then they realized that “Loki” was a good guy in this movie, and he was really likable and a very dashing young officer and a gentleman, which made it absolutely wrecking when he died so nobly. After that they said they both felt deeply guilty that they had ever been suspicious of his (clearly saint-like) character and it was those feelings of guilt that acted as a catalyst for the melodramatic sob-fest.

I didn’t have this reaction because I’ve seen more interviews/read more about Tom Hiddleston than these girls. He’s not Loki. He’s an actor, and to me he seems like a really nice, friendly guy.

Loki, also known as Woobie Destroyer of Worlds is a character he played, really well. Deliciously hammy and captivating as it was, it’s not his identity. So when he turned up in War Horse, I felt pretty confident he’d be a goodie. I was moved by his performance as well, but I didn’t have that added shot of guilt to throw me over the DEH…

(alright, full disclosure, I did get pretty close to sinking to their same level of emotional suffocation by one scene. Interestingly enough, just seeing the words “The Somme” kinda did me in.)

That’s my story kids. The moral is that type-casting doesn’t make sense to me. It’s so much more impressive to manipulate people by breaking their expectations.

It’s even more impressive to manipulate people with your shattered-glass blue eyes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kimber Kids

I love being a teacher.

As this school year came to a close, I realized just how blessed I am to spend my days with these sweet little kids, singing songs about the Book of Mormon, memorizing the preamble, practicing origami and spelling and letting them defeat me at Hang-Man.

If you’re not jealous of my job, then you straight up don’t get it:)

Jensen still has a thumb, though.

This has been an exciting couple of months.

Jensen nearly killed a man. (Not on purpose, she claims.)

She also had a nasty quarrel with a knife.

And owes this horrible person seven hundred dollars.

These are three separate stories, all of which inevitably have the bottom line of “Well, it was actually Jensen’s fault…” Which is too bad, because the last thing Jensen needs is all this drama.

I had some pretty close calls with disaster myself. 

Traffic school turned out to be really easy and amusing. 

I can now officially say that I’ve been sued.

I successfully rode a mechanical bull! (That's the only bit of excitement that wasn't awful on some level.)

Considering law school, because, although I didn’t have the money to pursue it, I think I could have put together a really ruthless and convincing case on my own behalf.

Also considering the military. Not only so I can shoot things. Promise.

Although my aim is getting pretty good. I’ll probably never be as frighteningly accurate as Jensen or daddy, but I definitely hit near too, or exactly what I’m aiming at, pretty much all the time.

Or, more likely, I’ll keep being a teacher and trying to find an agent to help me with my books. Jensen will continue being an artist….

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’ll all be fine without money.

 Thumbs up!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This post is almost about Alchemy.

Like everyone else in America, I spent the last week+ geeking out over The Avengers movie. I saw it twice and almost saw it again the next Monday, but something came up. It's been a few years since I cared enough to see a movie more than once while it was still in theatres. Even great movies typically don't take more than ten bucks from me, because I'm cheap and I know that someone will gift the DVD to me eventually.

In fact, the last movie I can think of that I made it a point to see repeatedly was also a superhero movie. The Dark Knight.

These are two VERY different movies, but I realized that there has got to be something that they share, to ensnare me the way they did... superhero films in general are very timely, is part of it.

I don't know about you folks, but more and more my world is looking like the desperate, corrupt landscape of these big action thrillers. Sure, the property damage is more symbolic and everyone is REALLY good-looking, but all the same... I'm starting to identify on a deeper level with the cannon fodder. These could be my neighbors and friends. That could be my community being Hulk Smashed.

We have allegorical invasions and destruction and we have literal psychopaths and egomaniacs... but when I look around in despair, hoping to see Thor or Steve Rodgers, ummm... there's nobody there.

Where the hell is Batman!?

Why is it that I can open any magazine or newspaper and identify the Bond villain, but there's no Tony Stark? I know I'm crossing a lot of genres here, but stay with me.

My deepest hope is that although our world is filled with baddies, there are also some pretty amazing good guys too. Maybe not gods and supermen, but remarkable people all the same.

Right. Alchemy.

Clean energy is the modern day alchemy. There is nothing remotely new about this idea that we can take something useless and make it into treasure, or that we can just pull energy out of the universe like magic.

These are the facts. Matter exists. It makes up the universe. You can never truly destroy matter, you can change it from one thing into another. So far, our sources of energy have relied on this process of changing one thing into another in order to generate energy. The idea that we might be able to find a source of energy that is ‘pure’ or that can somehow miraculously not be corrupted by our use of it is fantasy. It is the search for the Philosopher’s Stone. Since the beginning of time man has wanted the easy/consequence-less way of getting everything they want for free. The quest for clean energy proves that absolutely nothing has changed.  

Our modern day scientists are exactly like the ancient seekers of wisdom who they often mock for their folly. Just, don’t try telling them that. They’ll bite you.

Does that mean they should stop? Probably not. Plenty of useful discoveries have been made in the pursuit of something that in retrospect was a really stupid idea. Am I going to fund them? Once again, probably not.

So, there were my reality revelations during the movie. Most of the time I was only enthralled in the story and with the amazing cast of characters, but I did have that moment of connection back to the real world that kind of threw me out of the theater for a minute.

There’s the end of the serious stuff, now on to gushing about some of my favorite characters. There are spoilers, so stop reading now if you haven’t seen the film.

Hawkeye and Blackwidow get badass normal points for holding their own amongst the supernatural-awesome and for creating some of my very favorite scenes. Did anyone else get Mal and Inara vibes? Was that just me? Think about it, she's professional and impervious to the level of goddess and he's all open and sort of cuddly unless he's killing someone. It also isn’t that much of a stretch to picture him kicking a brute with a facial tattoo into a jet engine.

The biggest surprise for me personally was the Hulk. I fully expected to tolerate his presence in the movie with inward eye-rolling and instead he quickly became my new favorite. The Hulk is a complex character, but I feel like most of that depth was completely lost on me in his earlier incarnations. Not this time. Mark Ruffolo… I love you.

Thor holds a deeply nostalgic place in my heart. The only reason I don’t feel bad that we didn’t get more of him in the film is that there’s a Thor 2 set to start filming in a few months, so I can forgive them for keeping his part and lines to the bare minimum. He made his point, that point being “I’m awesome.”. I’m really curious to see what they’ll do with his character in Thor 2.

Captain America under Joss Whedon’s pen was exactly how I pictured Steve Rodgers displaced into the modern world, I found myself cheering a little whenever he appeared in front of the camera. It’s easy for me to see why he’s their leader. He’s clearly the right man for the job.

Oh, Ironman. Wonderful, crazy man. It was satisfying to see Tony Stark ‘make the sacrifice play’. It dawned on me part way into the movie that all the other heroes had proven that they were willing to give up their lives to save the innocent… Hawkeye and Blackwidow also proved this by default since they are the most likely to be killed in the inevitable supermassive battles. Tony Stark… not so much. He really made the ending.

Loki. I could die. I LOVE what Joss did with his character. He’s still sympathetic and you can still see that potential for a Heel Face Turn (which did eventually happen in the comic-books… under weird circumstances) but Joss is quite good at stripping away all the excuses and just leaving us to look at the skeletal reality of evil. Of course, I still want to give him a hug and tell him it’s not too late to be one of the good guys instead, but that would be stupid, because he would definitely kill me.

I have to mention Nick Fury. I HAVE too. I feel like it would have been tempting to portray him as more of a straight noble-soldier type and instead he shown as the ‘willing-to-do-anything’ guy. Manipulative and brilliant and scary to boot. Hearing him talk back to his superior leaders was perfectly Joss-esque. I will always treasure the image of him with the bazooka.

Love, Ailsa

P.S. Like the rest of the fan community, I've decided agent Coulson is alive. Any attempts to leave him dead in sequels will appear to be petty recalcitrance on the part of the creators. Nick Fury lies. We know that. Also, so glad to see that Aunt Robin has assembled as well.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Game of Thrones

Lots of spoiler in this post, for anyone who reads Song of Fire and Ice or watches HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Wolfsister’s Song of Fire and Ice Meme. This has been bouncing around. I’m not quite up to being the greatest artist in the world, but here are my answers in the language of English, rather than pretty pictures.

1 Why did you first pick up the books?

My friend told me not to, with all the passion of a man who had become invested with something he couldn’t turn away from, however-much he desperately wanted to abandon the thing that had torn his heart asunder. He said to me, “Don’t read them! It’s too much… too much… You’ll love these characters like your own babes and then you’ll watch the author KILL THEM ALL! It will chip away at pieces of your soul until you have nothing left but your own wretched sobs, and then, George R. R. Martin will probably die before he ever even finishes the story, so there’s more heartbreak for you. Don’t start. You’ll love it, and then you’ll regret it. Bitterly.”

So naturally I had to figure out what the heck he was talking about.

2 Who is your favorite character?

Tyrion Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Brienne. I love every scene with either of the Clegane brothers. The Hound is an awe-striking, complex anti-villain and The Mountain gives me squirmy nightmares. I could go on, but we’d be here all day.

3 What is your favorite canon ship?

Dany and Drogo; two people who seemed like they had nothing in common, at first. Well played.

4 What is your favorite non-canon ship?

Sandor and Sansa? Are they non-canon or canon? I like that I can’t honestly tell.

5 Who is your least favorite character?

This one’s hard. It almost stopped me from doing the whole thing, actually. They’re all necessary and they all have their moments when I love them desperately… I guess I find Theon’s POV kind of taxing sometimes.

6 What is your favorite theory?

I sort of feel like “Jon is Lyanna and Rheagar’s son” is sort of like “Snape is in love with Lily”. We all pretty much figured it out, but the same friend who begged me not to read the books thinks that GRRM is vindictive and petty enough that he might go ahead and change it just because everyone figured it out. I like to give him more credit than that and say that it’ll be confirmed as canon before the series end.
“Sandor is alive” might fit in the same category, but I feel like it’s less likely to be confirmed in canon.

7 Who is going to be the last Stark in Winterfell?


8 What is your favorite scene?

There are a lot. I’ll pick my favorite today; Ayra repeating The Tickler’s interrogation questions over and over again as she stabs him to death. Bloody and beautiful.

Can I skip question nine? I’d like to check “Not applicable” or maybe "How embarrassing" if it's there.

10 You can kill anyone, who is it?

Honestly? Stannis. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t think he should be king… As long as he’s alive, he’ll keeping trying to take over. I support Dany's ambitions to claim the Iron Throne, so Stannis has to go.

 11. What is your favorite quote?

Anything Tyrion says, but this very overused (for a REASON) quote sticks out in my mind.
"I have never liked you, Cersei, but you were my own sister, so I never did you harm. You've ended that. I will hurt you for this. I don't know how yet, but give me time. A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you'll know the debt is paid."

One last thing?

Dear George R. R. Martin,

Be healthy! Don’t DIE, I beg you. It’s okay to be sincere rather than cynical, don’t feel like you need to drench the final books in despair just because it’s what everyone expects. Whatever you’ve got planned will be amazing (and I’m sure it’s dark enough). If it will help I will write and choreograph a cheerleading routine for motivational purposes.

Love, Ailsa