Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where's the Good Witch of the North?

Next week, on March 8th, Disney's latest Movie, Oz The Great and Powerful, comes to theaters.  Being the huge L. Frank Baum fan that I am, and having grown up enchanted by the 1939 version, I've been looking forward to this.   I've read some of Baum's other works, so I thought I'd finally give the Wizard of Oz series a try.  Granted, this latest movie serves as a prequel and goes outside of what Baum original wrote; I wanted to experience Oz the way it was first imagined.

I'm not far into the story, only the fifth chapter, and I already feel as if my Oz World has been shattered.  Not in a bad way, but in a, "Wow, they seriously changed some things" sort of way.  Glinda The Good Witch, enchanting in technicolor pink, greats Dorothy when she literally falls into Oz.  That image will forever be in my mind, and Glinda standing on the yellow brink road while giving Dorothy advice is iconic.  But that's not in the book.

In the book it is the nameless Good Witch of the North, though Baum later named her Locasta in a 1902 stage musical, who greats the mistaken "sorceress" Dorothy.  The good witch of the north is described as a "little old women."  Nothing glamorous in that.  But with all movies, characters are typically eliminated or combined, as was the case here.  Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, was named the Good Witch of the North in the Judy Garland version.  Though why she couldn't just keep the South title is beyond me.  

(Good Witch of the North as pictured in Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Public Domain)

Then I realized something, I believe this character was once again eliminated from the new Disney version.  In the trailers they keep showing , , and .  A little Old Women wouldn't fit in very well next to them.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Know A Book is Well Loved When . . .

The Princess Bride!  Amazing movie!  It's a classic, and anyone who hasn't seen it needs to.  So many great one liners, and it makes me want to learn sword fighting . . . with both hands, because becoming a right handed master swordsman isn't enough.

If anything it's a fantastic story, which I believe I became acquainted with the movie during my Sophomore year of High School.  My friends found the book a year or so later.  Since we went to school in California, in which all the schools are outdoor, there was this tree we ate lunch under.  It was our tree.  During our Princess Bride period we would pass the book around, reading out loud between bites of sandwich, giggling like crazy.  The Princess Bride is like that.  Giggle worthy, and it's a perfect reading out loud book.

The first chapter isn't in the movie at all.  It's there we learn the history of all the beautiful women before Buttercup, and so forth, and that Florin existed before Europe, but after Paris.  And we learn about boys:

"The boys.  The Village boys.  The beef-witted  featherbrained  rattleskulled  clodpated  sim-domed noodle-noggined  sapheaded  lunkknobbed boys." 

My friend Freda had that line memorized and would repeat it on occasion; that's because the line is true.

I seriously recommend everyone read The Princess Bride.  It's a great, fun read.  The movie's great, a lot like the book, only there's more in the book.  And you can see how often I've read it, because the cover fell off!  I've lent it out many times as well.

So if you need a little humor in your life, and a whole lot of literary fun, may I recommend The Princess Bride.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Cerulean Jade Update: 2/25/2013

We are so close to finishing the music video to "Done With Gravity"!  I'm biting at the bit to see it finished.  Pictured above is what the cockpit to the spaceship looks like.  It's a little Tron-esq.  I haven't seen what it will look like when I'm placed inside.  Robbie's working on it.  I just hope it works out!  When he was directing me during the filming he told me where to place my hands, and I had to imagine the spot.  A little nervous to see this bit come together.  Fingers crossed!

Below is an example of what the pit looks like in computer model form.

Not nearly as exciting, but it shows the process.

 On February 10th I stumbled upon my Chinese Zodiac, and had a little bit of a laugh over it. It said:

"One of your dearest projects will be delayed. Don't blame the whole world for it. Remain patient and, above all, refrain from spreading yourself too thin; everything will come in time. Water down your conversations if you want to improve your social or family relationships. Your temperament will push you to committing food excesses; this may result in some nervous tensions or an increase in weight. If you want to be loved, just love -- sincerely and wholeheartedly."

Of course that was the week of Valentines, and the whole "committing food excesses" totally happened . . . discovering a fantastic new cupcake place doesn't help.  

We have a goal date in mind when we want to release the music video with an MP3 of Done With Gravity, which will be available for download.  The date is really soon, but I'm not ready to announce it quite yet :0)


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Some Wisdom About Christ from Benjamin Franklin

"We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices.  We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform.  Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we have selected to govern our lives.  In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.  

"Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by this providence will make choices different from those who do not.  Those who hold in reverence that being who gave them life and worship Him though adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will make choices different from those who do not.  Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not.  Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not.  Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not.  

"Since the foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly, and since correct action is dependent on correct opinion, we cannot be too careful in choosing the value system we allow to govern our thoughts and actions.  And to know that God governs in the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayers, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, is, indeed, a powerful regulator of the human conduct."

~ Benjamin Franklin (The Art of Virtue, 88-90)  

Friday, February 22, 2013

Movie Review: Beautiful Creatures

Rating: 2.75 out of 5 Stars

Somewhere in the American South is Ethan Wate, a boy trapped in a small town which few have escaped.  His only means of travel are through books and dreams.  Books aren't the issue, they're common enough, it's those dreams, an endless loop of a girl he doesn't know with a face he can't see.  He knows she's important, and he knows he needs to save her.  Then a girl shows up to school one day, just a few months before her 16th birthday, and the town is in outrage mode.  Her family has a secret, and Lena, the new girl, doesn't help her situation much when she mentally brakes the schoolrooms glass windows, harming many fellow classmates.

She's a Castor, blessed with magic and powers, and on her 16th birthday Lena will be claimed for either the light or dark.  There's no area of gray.  And in all this there is a curse, and constant flashbacks to the Civil War.

Beautiful Creatures is based on a set of popular young adult novels by the same name.  Book shelves have been filled with supernatural love stories ever since Twilight's popularity began, and Beautiful Creatures has managed to create quite a fallowing in the over-saturated competition for attention.  It seems now that Twilight is over, movie studios want to cash in, wishing to snag anyone having Edward vs. Jacob withdrawals.

Set in an interesting landscape with people who speak in thick accented drawls, Beautiful Creatures spins quite an enchanting tale.  The tone is darker then Twilight, and there were times I found myself whisked away in the narrative.

The two leads, and , playing Ethan and Lena respectfully, were fresh, and it's nice that this film didn't have to cast big names to fill the main roles.  seemed to have fun with her role, as if she couldn't wait to deliver lines and get into character.  was captivating as always.

What I had a problem with was the special effects, which seemed cheesy at times, and plot lines I don't wish to spoil.  There was a moment when Ethan runs through the mansions front door, Lena sitting on the stairs, Uncle playing the piano, while two female relatives protect with magic.  The whole scene was over the top and jarring in what could be a sophesticated story, and the ending was far too convenient for my liking.

I haven't read the book, but through the whole of the movie I kept thinking "the book must be more interesting then this."  And even with seeing the movie I'm in no hurry to pick up the four novel series and see how it all ends.  I don't care enough for the characters to spend the time.

In the end Beautiful Creatures served its purpose, for I was entertained, but once is enough for me.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Can Be Biased Over Oranges . . .

Usually I just love eating fruit, not caring where it came from or if it's organic.  But when it comes to oranges I get excited.  What's sad is I can't even eat oranges for medical reasons, but seeing a box of oranges, and smelling them, makes me a little giddy.  It's the Central California gal in me, growing up in a city known for its orange agriculture.

Now, when my family picks out a box of oranges, I like to see where the oranges were grown.  Once, several years ago, the "from" stamp read "Porterville," which is my hometown.  Eating Porterville oranges in Utah was pretty epic.  The picture above is a box of oranges from Delano California, which is between Porterville and Bakersfield.

I'm sure the oranges from Southern California and Florida are perfectly nice, but the oranges from Central California are the best.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Safe Haven: Movie Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is one of those movies where I'm glad I didn't read the critic reviews before attending a showing of Safe Haven.  Rotten Tomatoes has Safe Haven with a 12% fresh tomato rating.  Not good at all.  And Roger Ebert is all but scathing in his review, but then he didn't like Thor either, and I saw that movie 3 times opening week.  To date I've seen Safe Haven twice.

My Mom gave the movie 4.75 stars out of 5, and she's super critical, more so then I, and my sister-in-law Krista gave the movie 5 stars out of 5, and then bought a copy of the book within an hour of seeing the movie.  Plus the audience was quite engaged during both showings I attended, gasping and smiling in all the right places.

I personally loved this movie, and enjoyed it just as much the second time as I did the first.

Safe Haven is about Katie, a girl on the run who finds herself in a quaint, seaside town of North Carolina.  It is in this town that she finds her "safe haven," and meets those who teach her to love and trust again.  Why is she running?  What is she running from?  And will she stay safe?  That would give away a crucial part of the story, as this movie is part sweet romance and part thriller. 

plays Katie well, though there were moments when she felt disconnected.  , who plays Alex, the love interest, reminded me of his performance in Ramona and Beezus (awesome movie BTW), and the two have a sweet chemistry together.  The girl who plays Alex's daughter Lexie, , was really natural in her acting, which is always a delight to see in a young actress.

At this point Nicholas Sparks, the author of the book, is starting to come off formulaic.  I was nervous that this movie would mirror "The Lucky One" too closely, but I enjoyed Safe Haven so much more.  The ending of "The Lucky One" was a bit annoying and too convenient.  I've yet to see The Notebook, which may seem like a travesty to some purist.

Yes, this movie is a sappy love story, and guys out there will find aspects of the plot a bit corny, but I like a little corny in my life now and then.  And the scenery used to show off North Carolina was breathtaking.  If I ever need to find a Safe Haven, I want to go there.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.  The sex scene is short, but doesn't leave much to the imagination.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hearts Knit Together

I saw this video a couple weeks ago and was touched deeply.  Hearts Knit Together is a group of women in their 80's and 90's who get together to knit, crochet, and put together welcome kits for women and children.  The kits look nice, and they're always accepting donations.

One of my friends is in the video below.  The foundation is called Now I Can, and they help children become strong.  It's amazing what they do :0)

There's still so much good in the World.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Get My Good Looks from my Great-Grandmother

 My Great-Grandmother, Wilma Angeline, was an incredible women.  If I could describe her in one word it would be "Love."  She had the most amazing ability to love everyone.  She was full of it, and you could see it in her eyes.  Even when she lost her memories through Alzheimer's, and she at times didn't remember me, I knew, regardless, that she loved me.  If there was one thing I could inherit from her, I would like it to be love.  Of course I'm still working on it, because forgiving others, as well as myself, is an ongoing battle, but I'm lucky to have had her in my life as an incredible example.

(With my Great-Grandmother when I was a Sophomore in High School)

I'm lucky that I take after her in other ways.  I got her smile!  In her 1928 High School yearbook, she was listed as the girl with the most beautiful smile.  She was also in the school play and loved to act; her yearbook lists her as most likely to become an actress.  She didn't become an actress, instead becoming a teacher in a single room school house, but she was always photogenic and expressive with those 
big blue eyes of hers.

She's amazing, having lost all of her inheritance during the Stock Market Crash and Great Depression; she was a farmer's wife and mother during the second world war, turning butter and doing other jobs we modernly take for granted.  She was fugal, practical, and hardworking. 

And if all those qualities weren't enough, my Great-Grandmother was also beautiful.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Monopoly's New Cat: I Blame All Those Cat Memes

This past week Hasbro made a huge announcement!  A new cat token will be replacing the iron.  There were two worldwide competition: One, to save a token piece, Second, to add a new token piece.  The Scottish Dog won the popular vote, while the iron lucked out.  I guess we're to assume Monopoly players are huge animal lovers.

The cat was against four other possible tokens.  Personally, I wish the robot won.  It has a cool vintage sci-fi vibe.  I must admit, I'm a cat person, and the cat really is cute.  (Darn, all those cat memes my brother Steven obsesses over are getting to me) Though I hope the dog token is bigger then the cat, because if the cat is bigger, that will look weird.

I've already collected a few versions of the game, and in so doing I have quite a few tokens.  What's sad is I don't have an iron . . . I may have to pick another game up just to get the vintage pieces for nostalgia's sake.  The new game piece will become available at the end of Summer when Monopoly is re-released, sans iron.

I have to throw this out there.  I don't know how many people have played the new, credit card version of the game.  At first I thought it was a travesty.  You can't play Monopoly without paper money!!!  But it's honestly really fun, and speeds up game play quite a bit.  And the money values are the same as the monopoly's "Here & Now" version.  So if I want to play the credit card version with paper money, I just barrow it from the Here & Now version, and I can play the Here & Now version with credit-cards. 

And there's a card game that's actually quite fun with even quicker game play.  How many more versions of this game am I going to buy? -_-;;

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Finding a good Book is like finding a good Exercise

I always find it sad whenever I hear someone say they don't like reading; My first thought is they just haven't found the right book, or the right genre.   Not everyone likes Shakespeare or Hemingway.  As I've stated in past blog posts, it was the Star Wars expanded Universe books that got me into reading, and from there I started getting into other series.  There's something for everyone.

And I always find it sad when I hear someone say they don't like to exercise; My immediate thought whenever I hear that is they haven't found the right exercise.  Crazy as it sounds, exercising doesn't have to be a chore!  It can be enjoyable and fun.
On the Shape magazine's website they have an article 20 Super-Fit Chicks Who Don't Run.  Worth poking through, because it's refreshing!  I once thought that in order to get really fit I needed to be good at running.  All the celebrities seem to be doing it: Marathons here, 5k's there, the occasional triathlon.  It's inspiring, but there's a little something that stops me from running: I hate it!

I started training for a 5k last year.  I was motivated!  I had one of those 2 months to a 5k calender keeping me on track, and I actually got through the first month.  Plus I'm competitive and like earning awards and getting free shirts.  The world of 5k's seemed like a perfect fit for me.  The chance at a medal and an expanding wardrobe.  But I just couldn't like running.  

Hiking, on the other hand, is great fun.  Not the right season for it, but I love getting into nature and smelling the woodsy air.  And I love Zumba and Spinning.  Love it so much that it doesn't feel like exercise, even when I feel like I'm about to die.

There are so many great ways to get exercise, and it doesn't have to be the torture chamber we see on The Biggest Loser.  A fun bike ride, a game of tennis, basketball, a walk around the mall, etc.  So many possibilities!  Like finding a good book, there's a perfect exercise for everyone.

. . . and who knows, maybe one day I'll give the 5k another try and end up liking it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Moms Amazing Jewelry and Paintings on Etsy

 My Mom has an Etsy shop.  Her passion is making jewelry and Painting, and I wanted to show off some of my more favorite pieces of hers, which can be found in the Talea Studios store:

And the last one is my absolute favorite!  I want this bracelet.

 And my Mom even paints!  She's talented like that:0)

This painting:

Is based on this picture I took while visiting the Grand Tetons:

 This next painting is so tranquil

 And the last is a painting of my most favorite place in the World.  Cambria. (You thought I'd write Disneyland :0)

 All of these amazing pieces of art can be purchased at:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pottermore and the Identity Crises

(Yes, I have a Sorting Hat)

It's 2013, which Harry Potter fan hasn't been sorted yet on Pottermore!? . . . hmmm, don't answer that.  For those who have, maybe you can relate a little to what I'm going to write . . .

I wasn't a beta tester.  Tried, but the system wouldn't take my email for some reason.  So I waited with everyone else, jealous of those who got into the site September 2011, and watched as the promised October 2011 public opening flew to April 2012.

So in April of last year I giddily signed up and got sorted . . . into Hufflepuff.  Stufflebeam, Hufflebeam, I've got that whole "uffle" thing going on with my last name.  But I'm not a Hufflepuff!  I'm a Gryffindor!  Yes, I'm one of those people who always identified with those lions.  If I was sorted at 11 years old, there's no doubt I'd be a Gryff.

I was so disheartened that I stopped going to Pottermore altogether.  Then I started thinking about it, never a good thing, which meant I was playing mind games with myself.

I did go to a Harry Potter party at the movie theater when the last movie came out, and was unofficially sorted into Hufflepuff by a Twelawney cosplayer pulling out buttons from a jar.  And when my Dad finished watching the movies I asked him what house he would be sorted into, and he said Hufflepuff.  As genius as he is (he used to go to bed reading a calculus book), he really would be sorted into Hufflepuff.  Loyal, kind, hardworking, honest, trustworthy, humble, etc, are all qualities we should strive to have.  Maybe it's genetic, but then my Mom is a Gryffindor, and she doesn't need Pottermore to tell her so. 

J.K. Rowling said in a Web Chat October of 2012: "Hufflepuff is my favorite house in some ways.  There comes a point in the book where each house has a chance to rise up to a certain challenge. The Slytherins decided they’d rather not play, the Ravenclaws – some play, some won’t, but the Hufflepuffs stay to fight. The Gryffindors – compromised of lots of full hearty and show off people. The Hufflepuffs stayed for a different reason. They didn’t want to show off, they weren’t being reckless, that’s the essence of Hufflepuff."

So you know what I did?  I deleted my account and signed up again!  And the second time I was sorted (I was being completely honest, and took ample time with each question), I was sorted into Gryffindor!  Of course I started feeling super guilty.  Was I a true Gryffindor?  Was I lying to myself?  So I got sorted again . . .

To date I've been sorted 8 times.  3 Gryffindor, 2 Hufflepuff, 2 Slytherin, and once in Ravenclaw.

In the end it really does come down to choice.  Dumbledore did say, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our Abilities."  And he also later states about Snape, "Sometimes I think we sort too soon."

In the end, regardless of what the sorting hat says, we belong where he feel we belong, and I personal have qualities that work within each house.  I would be sorted into Gryffindor, get turned off with all the pride and ego in that house, and go make friends with Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws through clubs, choir, etc.  I'm a happy Gryff/Huffle mix who would be sorted into Slytherin before Ravenclaw, though I'm obsessed with books and love spending hours at the Library . . . those blissful college days doing research.

And in the end it's all a bunch of fun.

Oh, and we also get a wand.  Each time I've created an account, after deleting the last, I've gotten the very same wand, and that's because I answer the questions the same each time.  There's no other way I would answer them.

Length: 12 1/2 inches
Wood: Ebony
Core: Dragon
Flexibility: Surprisingly Swishy

I want to know what surprisingly swishy means.  Is it an insult or a compliment?  But I do like the described characteristics of those who get ebony:

"This jet-black wand wood has an impressive appearance and reputation, being highly suited to all manner of combative magic, and to Transfiguration. Ebony is happiest in the hand of those with the courage to be themselves. Frequently non-conformist, highly individual or comfortable with the status of outsider, ebony wand owners have been found both among the ranks of the Order of the Phoenix and among the Death Eaters. In my experience the ebony wand’s perfect match is one who will hold fast to his or her beliefs, no matter what the external pressure, and will not be swayed lightly from their purpose."
Below are some fun videos of those who've also had identity crises.  I'm not the only one!!!  But then I did get re-sorted . . .

Monday, February 4, 2013

Warm Bodies: Movie Review

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Zombies!  They're everywhere!  Actually, it seems like they are.  I first became aware of how popular the Zombie genre was when the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out.  I never read it, but everywhere I looked, there it was.  I'm personally not into Zombies, though that Zombie 5K run last Halloween looked quite fun.  A movie about Zombies never seemed all that appealing . . . until I saw the trailer for Warm Bodies.

A Zombie plague has infected the human populace, ripping family and friends apart.  And there's a third group threatening the humans, Bonies: Zombies who have completely given up on life and have ripped off their skin.

R, played brilliantly by Nicholas Hoult, is an unusual Zombie.  Though he can't talk, he's reflective, and listening to his thoughts (which could get annoying quick) really adds to the movie.  R is friends with M, (Rob Corddry), and together their friendship consists of grunting.  To protect the living from the undead a part of the city has been walled up, but every so often Julie, (Teresa Palmer), must go outside the walls with her friends to gather supplies and medicine.  It's in the hospital where R and Julie meet, during a Zombie attack, of course, and R saves her.

The movie really was delightful, and the balance between horror and humor was perfect.  I laughed a lot, and the audience was really engaged.  It's been a long time since I've been to a movie where everyone was thoroughly getting involved.

Warm Bodies is Zombies meet Romeo and Juliet . . . there's even a balcony scene.  Overall the movie is a fresh take on a popular genre, and I can easily go see Warm Bodies again.

MPAA: PG-13 for Zombie Violence and Some Language, including the token "F" word.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day: More or Less Winter?

Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog didn't see his shadow this morning in Philadelphia, and you know what that means!  Spring is coming early . . . or is it?

According to the Stormfax Almanac Phil has been right only 39% since 1887.  Those aren't great, dependable odds, and that only leads me to realize that I should believe the opposite of whatever tradition dictates.  Technically with that average we have a 61% chance of more Winter.  That I do believe.  This Winter has been insane with snow, fog, and freezing rain.  There doesn't seem to be an end in sight.   

I've always believed the groundhog tradition to be counter-intuitive.  If a groundhog sees his shadow, that means there's Sun.  If there's Sun there's warmth, and anything warm isn't Wintery.  So where did this backward thinking, and proven more times wrong then right, tradition begin?

In early America February 2 was called Candlemas day, A Christian Holiday celebrating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and like all good Christian holidays, the Christian Holiday mingled with the pagan Imbolc, which is a Gaelic season festival between the Winter solstice and Spring equinox.

A diary entry written February 4, 1841 by James Morris in Pennsylvania reads:   

Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.  

And an old English poem reads: 

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

Another fun note: Back in Europe they depended on the badger instead of the groundhog.

I do admire a holiday that hasn't been overly commercialized, because everything is commercial these days.

So bundle up!  Grab some Hot Chocolate, because, no offense Phil, we've got many more cold days of Winter ahead of us.   


Friday, February 1, 2013

Freezing Rain in Utah

Last month was insane weather wise!  January 24th we had freezing rain, so the ground was covered in black ice.  Crazy and scary at the same time.  The above video shows what it was like at BYU Provo.