Suicide Squad, takin’ me back

I went to see Suicide Squad the other night. I was on the fence about going in the first place. DC has been a little lackluster in the film department. It’s not entirely their fault; Marvel beat them to it this time around. Anything they do is going to be compared to Marvel by default, and the bar was set relatively high, if only because everything they’d done hadn’t been done before (or at least not well).

Suicide Squad, based on the DC comic, is out now. Photo from Suicide Squad official website.

It wasn’t just that, though.

Suicide Squad is meant to be over the top. It’s about the *bad* guys being the kind-of-good guys. They save the day, but they do it with chips on their shoulders and a little bit of dark attitude and crazy. Honor among thieves! Harley and Joker really love each other, like Bonnie and Clyde!

Sure, when I was 15, I was obsessed with Harley Quinn. She just got me. She was dark because the world is dark, and she loved Joker, who was also dark. She laughed in the face of it, too.

And I did all the things that one might expect of a 15 year old obsessed with a character that is written to be cool to a 15 year old. I wore a lot of black eyeliner. I talked about the darkness and the weirdness and the uniqueness of everything. I read the Bell Jar like 87 times. Sylvia Plath understood my pain. And so did Harley! She was kind of crazy but in a *fun* way.

I was all kinds of stereotype.

And then I grew out of it. I stopped romanticizing depression and mental illness in general because, you know, it’s not romantic.

Now things are weird between us: me and my interests, I mean.

I want to go to conventions, enjoy myself, indulge in some comic buying, what with the whole disposable income thing. I mean, why do I work if not to enjoy my various interests, right?

The problem is that so many of the things that I enjoyed, that were somewhat obscure, are starting to become mainstream. I was not prepared for that. And I most definitely was not prepared for having to see 15 year old girls prancing around in impossibly more suggestive outfits than what Harley Quinn used to wear. Because apparently skin tight black and red wasn’t objectifying enough – now she wears barely-there shorts and t-shirt that says “Daddy’s Lil Monster.”

I could go on for days about how offensive that is.

These girls have the eye liner and shorts that leave literally nothing to the imagination, corsets, and thigh-highs. They are laughing about all of the dark things in the world, and they are romanticizing mental illness.

I want to smack them into their 20’s, so they grow out of it.

And going to see Suicide Squad was a culmination of these things. It was the joy of seeing a childhood interest come to life, combined with the abject disgust of seeing versions of my younger self walking around.

The movie itself wasn’t memorable enough to overshadow all of this strange introspection.

It wasn’t bad. It really wasn’t. It just wasn’t worth the baggage for me.

All that said. Go see it. It IS a fun movie. (I’m allowed to contradict myself. Back off.) And it’s not the worst way to spend a couple hours.

Probably time for a new blog title, no?

Sunday night finds me on my bed/couch watching Love, Actually. I’m only about 20 minutes in, so the waterworks haven’t started yet.

On my drive here from the house earlier, I was struck with a very strange thought that has been bouncing around since then. I was trying to pinpoint what exactly I was feeling; what is the difference, I wondered, between guilt and sadness? How do we know when we are angry and not just frustrated?

It all suddenly seemed so bizarre to me. Emotions are really nothing more than electrical synapses and chemical reactions. How did we name them? How did society decide that a specific set of chemicals are “sadness”? And then I was wondering if sadness feels different to other people.

I know that we say that people react differently. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, and some people stoically accept their emotions. Is it that they are reacting differently, or is it that these emotions actually feel different, too?

I don’t know if this is going to help me. I just know that this line of thought has really intrigued me.

And given my lack of crafting, or blogging about crafts, for the past…almost year now, I figure I should change the title of this blog soon. Still a polymath, sure, and maybe not just yet. Maybe this blog is really about my journey back to crafting?

I don’t know. I don’t have answers to any of these questions. But then I suppose that’s kind of the point to life, right?


Back in black (and white)

Hiatus much?

Life happens at a rate that I can barely match these days. We closed on the house on Monday, and I’m picking up the keys tomorrow night from the (now) former owner. To quote what I wrote in my boss’s baby shower card “shit just got real.”

But that’s not what I’ve logged into this beleaguered account to write about. I am here to review Iron Man 3, which I went to the opening showing of in Grandville tonight.

To write a review on a comic book movie requires that I step away from the comics for a moment because without doing so, I will be overly critical about things that most viewers wouldn’t give two seconds’ thought. Consider this me putting down the graphic novels, ok?

Let me start by saying that if you don’t like the previous Iron Man movies, then you need to politely decline offers to see the third installment, and not just for obvious reasons. This Iron Man has as many explosion as the previous two, coupled with impossibly more Tony Stark one-liners. They are wonderfully irreverent and beautifully timed, with the exception of a few that caused such laughter from the audience that the following lines were lost. I hope they weren’t important.

This film is narrated by Tony, following the aftermath of the Avengers movie. Not entirely unlike the previous films, this is a story deeply rooted in the evolution of Tony as a human. <Comic Reference> This particular movie loosely follows some of the character development and plot lines of Fraction’s run of Invincible Iron Man. </Comic Reference> He confesses to Pepper how out of his league he felt with the other members of the Avengers – “a man in a can.” He discusses demons and how they are created, sometimes by chance, and more than once by his own actions. These themes are what made Iron Man great, and they are revisited here.

At the beginning of the film, we see Tony struggling to come to grips with the events in New York during the Avengers, along with the fantastically terrifying portrayal of Mandarin by Ben Kingsley. There is also the foreboding friendliness of Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian, who invites Pepper Potts to invest in his Extremis project. Sure, he’s friendly and kind of handsome, but you just know he’s got a skin suit tucked away somewhere.

As is rather evident early on, Killian and his think-tank, AIM, are not entirely legit (see: skin suit). Tony and Pepper are having problems at home, and then things blow up. Literally. If you’ve seen a preview, you’ve seen his house falling into the water. After he is attacked in his home, Tony gets the wake up call he needs, and he decides to once again rise from the ashes and prove that he is a hero. By now, yes, it is a little formulaic, but if you’re not into that, then don’t read comics/watch comic movies. That’s kind of a running theme.

Pepper is taken hostage; Tony struggles against impossible odds, not the least of which is his own PTSD (undiagnosed!), and he finally overcomes because he has help in a rather unlikely form. There is the requisite final battle (boss battle, if you will) that involves Tony and friends going against seemingly impossible odds but coming out the victors. Tony proves his commitment to Pepper through a montage of destroying suits, medical procedures, and jewelry.

Highlights of the movie included any and all explosions (who doesn’t like those?), an incredible mid-air rescue of 13 people, the effects used on any and all characters exposed to Extremis, and the end credits sequence was retro and fun.

The sequences involving Mandarin were deeply disturbing. They were not unlike seeing Lawless for the first time – cringe-worthy seems like an apt description. They were visceral, and they continued with the Ten-Rings-as-terror-organization theme from the first movie. I understand the reasoning behind the brutality of the Mandarin in these films, but it is difficult to watch, and even more difficult to marry with the comic version, whose ten rings were actual rings and not a terrorist organization not unlike al-Qaeda (oops! I was supposed to not mention that, huh?).

There may have been just a little too much going on, at least for my taste. This film essentially took three plot lines and combined them, some of which span many many years in the comics. Because of all of the fronts covered, some of the ends were tied loose and messy. I imagine much of that will be rectified come the release to Blu-Ray and DVD and their deleted scenes. At a two hour run time, which is less than some of its contemporaries, they did an acceptable job.

There are a few plot twists that, as a moviegoer, were great examples of misdirection, and as a comic book fan, a little bit of a slap in the face. In the interest of readers who want to see the film, I won’t mention them specifically, but they were well-timed and revealed. They helped keep the pace quick, and some of them helped ease some tension.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie. I’ll probably see it again at a matinee because that’s my zen. As a movie lover, this was a great action movie that had some stellar character development, despite some questionable plot points. As a comic lover, it held to the character-driven feel of the Iron Man comics, while destroying some of what I had anticipated for comic plot.

And, of course, you must stay past the credits.

Homemade apple butter – the extended edition

I am writing with the intention of sharing how Eric and I made apple butter last week for our DIY Christmas this year, but before I start, I just have to talk about yesterday.

As some of you might know – hopefully all – on the 14th, The Hobbit will be released in theaters. That is great news. But what was even better news to me was that this past weekend (8th and 9th), theaters around the country/world were showing all three extended versions of Lord of the Rings. And I mean in a row. 800 minute run time (with breaks). And because last week the Universe seemed to be smiling upon me, I had yesterday off for the first time since I’ve started this new job.

So Eric and I went to see all three Lord of the Rings in theaters, and it was amazing. There was a small group of people there (I hope Saturday was busier. I can’t imagine how more people would not want the opportunity to see these films on the big screen again). Between films, one of the theater managers would come out toward the end of our break and have trivia questions for us, with prizes. Via Eric’s insistence, since I kept muttering answers under my breath while other people were participating, I actually stood up for one question and won him some candy. I mostly stood up because I was shocked no one had shot up immediately. The question was “What is the translation of the inscription on the one ring?” I wasn’t going to bother standing because everyone knows that. But no one stood!

If you’re not familiar and are curious, the inscription is “One ring to rule them all; one ring the find them. One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness, bind them.” It’s actually part of a longer poem about the rings of power that I will save some face by not posting in its entirety, even though I recited it on the way home last night. I told Eric that in the nerd world, he’s my trophy husband.

The showing started at 11am, and we left the theater just after midnight. Worth it. Totally worth it.

Now onto the crafting/cooking. Last week, in our hurried pace to get through making the last of the Christmas gifts, we made a rather large batch of apple butter. Here is how we did it:

1. We washed, peeled, and diced(ish) the apples. The instructions said to core, and since we don’t have any fancy device to de-core, I just chopped around it. It worked out fine.

2. We added the apples, along with a cup or so of water, to a pot and let it simmer for about a half hour. We wanted the apples soft enough to go in the blender.

It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.
It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.

3. When they were soft, we threw them in the blender and pureed them. I now have an old-school grinder that would have done the trick, but we were going for fast, not necessarily authentic, though I would love to use that device sometime.

4. When the apples were blended, we essentially had applesauce. In fact, when we make applesauce this week, we will get to this step and part of step 5, then be finished. But moving on!

Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.
Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.

5. We added the cinnamon and ground clove that give apple butter that slightly spicy taste, and we threw it back into the pot to cook. We cooked it until it was sticky and did not slide easily off the spoon.

This is not even close to ready
This is not even close to ready

6. It took almost another half hour before the butter was the right consistency. Luckily we had practice with the peach butter, although that did seem to go a little bit quicker.

7. When it was ready, we poured it into our sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space, screwed on the lids, and processed them in our boiling processor for 10 minutes. We made 12 small jelly jars.

Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.
Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.

All that’s left for these is some decorative flair. I will put the labels on and cover them prettily.

All that’s left for Christmas goodies are some blank-in-jar things (cookies, pancakes, soup, etc), the applesauce, and I think I will bake some cookies for those without the penchant for cooking/baking even pre-made mixes.

And Eric’s gift. I am caving and buying him some things, and while I’m not terribly pleased with giving in, I am more interested in making sure he has useful and enjoyable things that he wouldn’t buy himself. Which, if I’m being honest, is not a lot of things because he generally just buys what he wants. He’s gotten better around Christmas, though, after three years of me bugging him about it. 🙂

Well, then, I am off to continue my adventures. Keep it crafty!




A Day in Pictures

Yesterday, the hubby and I went out and about on the town, so I did very little crafting and much less thinking about what to write. But we did go to some crafty places, and we had a good time, so I am going to post a day in pictures instead.

While I could give details, I think I will let you fill them in yourself.

With the exception of the movie. If you have not seen Snow White and the Huntsmen, save yourself the cash. Or, if you want to, go buy the following films because they are all in the movie: Twilight (I didn’t watch them, but I get the gist), Ferngully, Neverending Story, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Princess Mononoke. There are a few others, but those were the most blatant ones.