Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in Time Review: Cutthroat Island (1995)

Cutthroat Island [Blu-ray]It really bothers me that Cutthroat Island is considered one of the biggest box office flops of all time because it has the same sensibilities as Pirates of the Caribbean. Was it a box office failure because the main character was a strong woman? Was it just because it didn't have the same Disney brand and backing that POTC did? Does it really all come down to Johnny Depp being wacky? In my mind the Morning Star and Black Pearl are sailing the Caribbean seas together with a very similar sense of place and goofy, witty banter.

In Cutthroat Island we are following the story of Morgan Adams, a pirate captain played by Geena Davis, as she and her crew adventure to find a treasure hidden by her grandfather. The map to the treasure is in three pieces. Morgan inherited the first piece from her father but her pirate uncles hold the other two. As you might expect in a pirating family, trust runs low and double-crossing runs high. Morgan purchases a slave, the educated con-man William Shaw (played by Matthew Modine), to help interpret part of her map that seems to be in Latin.

Since I think that this is an eminently quotable movie and IMDB does a poor job of highlighting that, a few of my favorites:

Shaw, during their escape through the streets of Port Royal: A ship! I find myself being fired upon by an entire ship!

Morgan, watching Shaw's swordplay: Very pretty, Mr. Shaw.
Shaw: Thank you, ma'am! I had the good fortune to study with a Grand Master in Vienna.
Morgan: Now, stop diddling and kill the man.
Shaw: Kill him? Bless me, we never got to that.
Morgan pushes his elbow so that the sword runs through the man.
Shaw: I see.

Morgan, while Shaw is digging a bullet from her hip: Clumsy squab. I was supposed to torture you!

Morgan, upon proof of Shaw's duplicity: Since you lie so easily and since you are so shallow, I shall lie you in a shallow grave.

The Commander's Rating: Five out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Piratical hijinks. Geena Davis at her toughest (she's one of the few actresses I take seriously when she throws a punch). The good-looking Matthew Modine (much like Val Kilmer, he has a variety of looks). A likable cast of pirate side-kicks on the Morning Star: Mr. Glasspoole, Mr. Blair, Bowen. And the always entertaining Trotter (we still call out "Trotter" in the house sporadically).
Cons: Corny puns and jokes. Some of the dialog is stilted. Some logic flaws, the kind that are typical for action movies. Frank Langella was a bit too over the top, mostly scripting issues not his acting.
Recommendation: We think this is a fantastic movie for when you are hanging out on the weekend or on vacation. It is family friendly and goofy fun. We actually played our VHS tape until it broke, have played the dvd endlessly, and look forward to getting the Blu-ray soon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shower Songs: Sue Sings "Crazy"

Spent the first part of the my work-at-home lunch hour singing to the pets and realized I could share it with you. This is my first adventure with GarageBand and it could probably be better with some autotune, correct timing, a different singer, etc. Yes, I'm trying to say it sucks but in the spirit of the modern age I'm sharing it anyway.


You can also get the far superior Patsy Cline version (MP3 download).

Patsy Cline - 12 Greatest HitsI own this album. And I love it. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Funny Women of Twitter

When Kristina Martin (@quickmissive) asked if I'd like to do a guest post (A Very Serious Thing) over at her blog Ten Minute Missive I jumped at the chance to work with her. Kristina is a funny lady and March is women's history month, so I thought what could be better than to write about the history of funny women? Make sure to head over there and check it out.

This companion post is an attempt to collect a list of women who are funny right now in that great big improv room known as Twitter. Not trusting that I would know all the funny women (who could?) I crowd sourced to compose the list. Please add more in comments and I will update the list. You can also follow them on my twitter list Funny Women of Twitter.

Funny Women of Twitter (alphabetical by first name)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Back in Time Review: Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?

The first rule of Fight Club is "don't talk about Fight Club," so I'll assume that Brad Pitt or Ed Norton will come to beat me up promptly after this review posts. In case you haven't seen this movie I'll try to avoid any spoilers because, well, discovering the plot is at least half the fun of the movie.

As I already said, the movie stars Edward Norton (the "good" guy) and Brad Pitt (the "bad" boy), plus Helena Bonham Carter and Meatloaf. The write-up on IMDB says, "A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground "fight clubs" forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion." (Apparently IMDB is also willing to flaunt in the face of the first rule.)

We didn't see this movie in the theater and honestly I was a bit skeptical about renting it because it was so popular. See, that's the way I roll - diametrically against the flow of mass popularity. But within the first ten minutes I knew this was one of the times that the masses were absolutely right. It's a bit too violent for us (which is saying something), but overall a great, intense, intelligent movie.

As a caveat, I did have a friend read the book before seeing the movie and, as usual, that greatly diminished the enjoyment of the movie. Hollywood changes things on you. So if you're planning to both watch the movie and read the book - either watch the movie first, or be prepared to be disappointed about the things that changed. (I can understand wanting to get all the twists and turns in the book first, but that means the movie will probably always be in second place for you.)

Fight Club (Widescreen Edition)The Commander's Rating: Four out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Well executed movie with drama, action, and some interesting twists and turns.
Cons: It could be a little more violent than you like. 
Recommendation: If you haven't seen it before make sure you can devote your full attention to it the first time around. If you have seen it before then you know that you'd like to pop it back in the player and see it again. Because, seriously, this one is never getting old.

Thanks to @jeffekennedy for suggesting a review of Fight Club. The movie is available on dvd, 2-disc Collector's Edition dvd, and bluray. You can also get the book on

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Duck, Duck, Goose (and Destiny): Animal Wisdom

Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & SmallDo you ever see an unusual animal, or see an animal at an unusual time or place, and think to yourself, "This is significant"? That is the heart of interpreting the spiritual wisdom of the natural world. One of the most well-known books on the topic is Animal Speak by Ted Andrews (photo left). Sometimes it even seems like the Universe is trying desperately to communicate with us, such as when we see the same animal over and over in unusual circumstances.

A handy online resource for interpreting a variety of animals is Animal Totems on Lin's Domain. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you find a list of over 100 animals with links to individual pages explaining their spiritual significance. Since they were featured in the blog post title aren't you curious about the energies of duck and goose?
Emotional Comfort and Protection
Ducks are connected to feminine energies, the astral plane and emotions through their connection with water. Ducks remind us to drink deeply from the waters of life. Find comfort in your element and with those of like mind and spirit. Ducks teach you how to maneuver through the waters of life with grace and comfort. Psychologist and therapists often have Ducks as a totem, assisting them to help others move through emotional tangles.

Communication and Imprinting Your Life Path
A Goose totem reflects a stimulation of childhood thrills and the belief in stories and legends. The stories we loved as children often reflect our life quest. Think about the stories that affected you the most and see what in them you took into your adult life. The Goose also helps in communication, especially with the written word. It is also a symbol of fertility and marital fidelity. Goose people have an innate belief that there is just one special person for each one.... Their honking call speaks of the fulfilled promises that great quests bring.
How do you discover *your* animal totem? Ted Andrews has some exercises in Animal Speak to coach you through the process. You can try meditation or opening yourself up to being observant. Sometimes you only need to realize that you are drawn to a particular animal and have been collecting, doodling, or otherwise expressing an interest in it. Some animals are with us forever, for instance my husband has a steady relationship to both Wolf and Hawk, while others show up just long enough to help us out, such as my temporary interests in Flamingo and Squirrel (technically Scrat).

Because of my ebb and flow of interest in specific animals I can vouch for their healing and inspirational qualities. A few years ago my life was out of control - I was angry all the time, exhausted, and feeling desperate. I noticed that my interest in otters had been growing. Thanks to the Virginia Living Museum logo I had both a hat and a jacket with the otter prominently displayed so it kept that interest at the forefront of my mind. Who can resist a cute hot-pink hat with a playful otter on it? Not me. Fortunately I put two and two together, looked up the message of otter, and promptly embraced it as my (at least for now) totem. Recovery wasn't immediate but over the last two years I have gently and steadily improved. What was otter's message?
Joy, Primal Feminine Energy
Otters awaken curiosity. They remind us that everything is interesting if we look at it from the right angle. The Otter totem is connected to the primal feminine energies of life: the elements of both Earth and Water are present in Otter medicine. With an Otter totem, you must remember the beauty of a balanced female side, creating a space for others to enter our lives without preconceptions or suspicions. Otter teaches that balanced female energy is not catty or jealous, but it is sisterhood and sharing with others. Otter expresses joy for others. Remember that all of us, both men and women, have a feminine side. If an Otter has entered your life, it may be time to find some play time in your life, to awaken your inner child. Allow events to unfold naturally in your life. Be careful not to hang on the material things in your life that bind you or become a burden. Become Otter and move gently into the river of life.
 What animal speaks to you?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Writing Insight Back Online!

Happy to report that sister blog Writing Insight is back online today! All of the interviews that were formerly housed here on TTGSiMH have been migrated over and a new interview was posted. Go on over and celebrate some excellent writers at various stages in their craft!

Drew in BlueToday's interview is with J. M. Kelley, author of Drew in Blue, a contemporary romance about a thirty-six year old loner unexpectedly saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life. Kelley says, "Drew in Blue came from a desire to see a male character who is ultimately likable, but has his flaws. I'm fascinated with the male perspective, and wanted to show a man who isn't perfect, but underneath, he has a good heart. Drew does dumb things, he says the wrong thing at times, but his heart is in the right place."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Right There in Nebraska

My twitter buddy @pafford almost convinced me to move to Nebraska with this cute little song by The String Beans (video and lyrics below). It's from their album Oodles of Noodles (Amazon has the solo MP3 for 99 cents).

Smack in the middle of our great nation,
Is a state which requires some explanation,
To east and west coasters who’ll come up and ask ya,
“Is there anything of interest in the state of Nebraska?”
La... la...dee... da... right here in Nebraska! And there’s more...

It’s true we don’t have mountains covered in snow,
But we do have the world’s biggest live chicken show.
We’re the makers of Spam... we invented Kool Aid,
And this is where the first Rueben sandwich was made.
La... la...dee... da... right here in Nebraska! And there’s more...

Our insect... the honeybee, our bird... the meadow lark,
The strobe light, our invention, works best in the dark.
As governments go, we’re a freak of nature,
Cause we have the only one-house state legislature.
La... la...dee... da... only in Nebraska! And there’s more...

On Arbor Day, when you plant a tree,
Remember that it started in Nebraska City,
We were once called a desert, but that name didn’t take.
Since we have the country’s largest underground lake.
La... la...dee... da... right under Nebraska! And there’s more...

We have the world’s largest forest, all planted by hand,
And more miles of rivers than any state in the land.
The College World Series calls Omaha home,
And this is where the buffalo used to roam.
Until we shot them... right here in Nebraska! And there’s more...

We were the first state to finish our I-80 section,
And the first to pit two women in a gubernatorial election.
We invented 9-1-1 emergency communication,
And we’re the top producer of center pivot irrigation,
La... la...dee... da... right here in Nebraska! And there’s more...

Our woolly mammoth fossil is the largest ever found,
And our monumental “Car Henge” is bound to astound.
We have a few museums that you could call “odd,”
Dedicated to fur trading, roller skates, and sod.
La... la...dee... da... right here in Nebraska! And there’s more...

We built the world’s largest porch swing, indoor desert and rain forest,
And anyone who visits is sure to adore us...
So pack up the kiddies, the pets and the wife,
And see why Nebraska is called “the good life.”