I Watched: BLACKFISH

I’m in the early stages of a free month of Netflix. A couple of weeks ago my cousin and I were talking about SeaWorld for some reason and she mentioned the documentary Blackfish. I had heard of it, but hadn’t seen it. I have, however, been to SeaWorld. The summer of 2004 I had a season pass to the San Antonio park. I went three times.

I had seen the Shamu show and it made me nervous the same way that ice skating and ballroom dancing make me nervous: I always wait for something bad to happen, like, somebody falls or gets dropped. In the case of the killer whale show I expected somebody to get chomped or flattened. I’ve always thought that orcas were too big for captivity and it always made me sad to see them in the small pools (possibly seeing Free Willy as a kid has something to do with this opinion because dolphins, whale sharks, and other ocean animals do not bother me at all to see them in captivity). Or maybe just having a general sense of physics – orcas are big and seemingly intelligent, the SeaWorld pools are small.

Anyway, so I was curious about watching Blackfish.

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The documentary discusses killer whale performance and captivity and is centered around the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010 by a whale who had previously displayed violent tendencies, and had been involved, however directly, in two previous deaths, one in Canada and one also at SeaWorld Orlando in 1999. Former SeaWorld trainers were interviewed discussing various aspects of behind-the-scenes life at SeaWorld and various other incidents of killer whale violence.

The film does a good job of getting their point across and I definitely would recommend watching it. However, it is clear propaganda –  an anti-SeaWorld point of view from what I believe are essentially animal activists. The filmmakers have a clear agenda for wanting to shut down SeaWorld and similar parks. At no time did they ever address the conservation efforts that SeaWorld has accomplished, nor did they interview any current employees of the company. I also would have liked to see the point made that the reason for keeping some animals in captivity is to educate and to promote conservation efforts in natural habitats.

Some further reading:

From MySA.com: Ex-SeaWorld trainers dispute ‘Blackfish,’ say phase out whale show
From SouthernFried Science: Blackfish: the Science Behind the Movie
From CNN: ‘Blackfish’ film ignores SeaWorld’s benefits to conservation, research
SeaWorld’s Rebuttal: Truth About Blackfish

There is a lot of information out there – and it’s a subject worth learning more about. I think Blackfish is a good place to start, but you can’t take everything at face value. I am, currently, mostly undecided on this subject, but leaning towards “not a fan of killer whales in captivity” if only, because it seems so sad for such big, intelligent creatures to be kept confined.

(I am totally pro those whale sharks at the Georgia State Aquarium though so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Those guys would have been eaten out of Taiwan’s then-quota of allowable whale sharks caught for food. They may be in captivity but at least they are not lunch.)

Why I’m Irritated at the HIMYM Series Finale

Yes, it took the ending of a beloved television show to get me to post again.

But seriously guys, the series of How I Met Your Mother has really annoyed me.

It didn’t send me into rage spirals like the LOST finale (STILL MAD ABOUT THAT ONE, even though it’s been over for like 4 years already), it didn’t perplex me with its sheer wtf-ery like the Dexter finale (random lumberjacks!) and it didn’t pull the “Oh wait, what – it got canceled six months ago and I didn’t know about it?” crap that the poor The Glades got last year (and the last episode was a cliffhanger! Phooey!).

SPOILERS AHOY

So what the HIMYM finale did was negate an entire series with the last five minutes of the finale. How I Met Your Mother was not, in fact, about meeting the mother. It was about how Ted fell in love with Robin, never got over her, met the mother and had kids, then eventually got back together with Robin after the mother died. This whole time, Ted wasn’t telling stories to the kids about how he met their mom, he was telling them about his life so that he could justify getting back together with Robin several years after losing his wife.

Now generally speaking, had the show not gone on for so long, this could have been perfectly acceptable. It works in books and isn’t uncommon in real life. But the show went on for nine years and the entire last season took place over Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend. Then, in the final episode, they had Robin and Barney get divorced and Barney go back to his philandering ways – which the show had spent YEARS developing Barney into a better person. And the show had spent YEARS developing the idea that Robin and Ted were wrong for each other and that the mother was the love of Ted’s life.

Had the events that took place in the finale took place over the entire final season, I think that would have been much better. HIMYM has proven over the years that while generally a comedy, they can have tough stories lines and go about them in a serious way (Marshall’s dad dying and Robin’s infertility issues) – I actually think they could have done that whole final episode over the final season and those fans who expected Ted to wind up with the mother wouldn’t be so PISSED that they got cheated out of what they thought was the ultimate end game for the series.

Because ultimately that how I feel – cheated out of what I thought the show was about. While I can appreciate the creator’s artistic vision (the plan all along was to kill off the mother), the title was a misdirect – it wasn’t “How I Met Your Mother”, it was “How I Hard Time Dating, Met Your Mother, She Died, and Got Back Together With Robin.” And as someone who never thought Ted & Robin actually worked as a couple, I thought that was lame. I liked Robin & Barney together.

So, points I guess for taking a storytelling risk (the finale has been almost universally panned by fans/critics from what I can tell). I didn’t care for it, am disappointed by it, but wish that if that’s what they wanted to do, that it had been executed better.

Still, I did love the early years of this show. Lily & Marshall are probably one of the best TV couples ever, and it brought us the glory of NPH. I liked the flashback/flash forward structure which was unique to sitcoms. And I don’t feel like I wasted a bunch of time watching it like I do LOST, so there’s that!

BIRTHDAY WEEKEND

When I was a kid, my dad called me his “late firecracker” because I was born on the 5th of July, one day too late to share our country’s birthday. But I’m okay with that because every year it’s like two days worth of partying all for me.

This year it was quite an extended celebration, starting last Wednesday when my aunt and cousin brought over a cake and presents for me when we all gathered over at Jason’s for our weekly dinner! And then they crammed 31 candles on top (+1 to grow on, I am *only* 30) which, because I am full of hot air, I managed to blow out in one single breath.

Then on Friday, I baked myself a cake that fell apart. This was for my friend-gathering on Saturday. It was still tasty, though. I think that it was a combination of errors on my part (cake not cooled enough, forgot to grease the non-stick pan) along with a Pillsbury cake mix. I tend to prefer the Duncan Hines brand. But I did make homemade frosting that turned out really delicious.

It was the rancor's fault.

So on Saturday, Sarah (all the way up from LA) and Malvina (all the way down from Sacramento) came over and we headed off to lunch at Pasta Pomodoro in Pleasant Hill. Then, we celebrated being adults by going to see Twilight: Eclipse. Oh man, that movie was fraught with giggles (from us) and tortured significant glances (from the cast). Teenage girls just eat this stuff up, but I found myself relating more to the dad in the movie, who was like, holy crap, these people are dumb, also why am I in this movie. Team Charlie! From a “Let’s Go Laugh At Twilight” vantage point, Eclipse (dare I say it) eclipsed the first two movies in its constant barrage of unintentional giggle moments. From a “Is This Movie Actually Any Good” standpoint, the answer is: not really. I still rate it an LOL+, however.

Then everybody (Sam, Amy, and Ben) came over and I made Thai food and we ate the cake and took silly pictures with my rancor toy. Have I ever mentioned my collection of 100+ Star Wars collectible figurines? And how most of them are still in mint condition in their boxes? But how the rancor is not? Anyway.

On Sunday I made a red velvet cake that did not fail with cream cheese frosting and took it over to Rossmoor where we had lunch over at my grandparents’ condo. Technically speaking I suppose the cake was another birthday cake (my grandma put candles on it and everybody sang the birthday song) but really I just made it as a contribution for the dinner. Still, it was nice to be with family and eat delicious meat and whatnot.

Later we went to the fireworks over at the Benicia waterfront and that was pretty great – we were right under them and it was really windy so there was an element of danger as the sparks kept raining right down over where people were sitting. Luckily the wind shifted all that over about forty feet away from us so we could enjoy the danger without worry. Haha.

Then yesterday was my actual birthday and my sister had been wanting to see the Swedish movie version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. They weren’t playing it at the dome anymore, but it was still playing at the Rheem in Moraga, and Abby bribed me by paying for my ticket so off we went. And it was excellent! Now I’m so worried about the Hollywood adaptation. It will be okay if they use character actors or unknowns, but Brad Pitt as Blomkvist? Kill me.

After that we stopped at Jason’s for a bit. He looked good. Then on to the parentals’ and out to dinner at the Outback. Not super original but I wanted steak and an Awesome Blossom, and they brought me free ice cream.

All in all, a great way to ring in my fourth decade. I think my thirties will be pretty awesome, all in all.

Sharks, Target, Knitting

This weekend was spent in abject lazypants-ness which has been fairly nice. Yesterday was “Big Animals Like Sharks And Crocodiles Killing People And Causing Mayhem” day on the SyFy channel, which I full up appreciated. There ain’t nothin’ like a little bit of shark/crocodile chomping action to help your coffee go down smooth.

Oh, one thing that cracked me up was on Dinoshark, where the main lady person was looking up ancient sharks on the internet and found the one that had been terrorizing the Mexican resort town in which the movie takes place.  She calls the main dude to tell him this, then gets off the phone, backs away from the laptop and takes off her shirt. Aaaand: scene change! She apparently just felt like ripping her shirt off for no particular reason beyond the obvious.

Whut.

Oh B movies, you are terrible!

Despite all that, it actually was one of the better SyFy made-for-TV movies, but that is not saying much.

Today I went to Target to buy lightbulbs because my porch light is always going out (I always leave it on) and it takes a specialized type of curvy bulb that I accidentally broke the last two of a few weeks ago, while rifling around in the light bulb cupboard (I forget what I was doing). While I was at Target I noticed that today was the day that the Liberty of London stuff arrived.

I like the bold patterns. They had a lot of stuff at this Target which is just a regular Target. But they didn’t have any bed linens that I could find. I would have impulsively and stupidly bought bed linens, so they were totally off the mark as far as targeting my consumption.  They did have a duvet set, but honey, I’ve got duvets.

I did like some of their kitchen stuff and I would love to have the big peacock feather patterned pillow to brighten up my futon couch, but I’m not paying $20 for a pillow.  So I opted for the $5 peacock feather mug:

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I liked the other patterns on the mugs as well, but I totally already have mugs and try to limit my mug acquisitions to ones that I think are really really awesome like my knitted texture mug from sbux.

The rest of the Liberty of London stuff was pretty nice. The clothes were cute but I was disappointed that they were for the most part made out of horrible chiffon/rayon blends which make my skin feel like it is burning off when it touches me. Nice! There were a couple of cotton things but not in the – you guessed it – peacock feather pattern.

ANYWAY besides watching sharks eat people and buying light bulbs and unnecessary mugs, I did work on a couple things this weekend:

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This is the French Quarter Sock from Knitspot. Oh how I adore Anne Hanson’s patterns! I am knitting this out of Knitpicks Gloss in the Kenai colorway and I like it a lot. However it might be too soft for cable work. I’m not totally sold on its stitch definition. Other than that, though, it’s a win as fair as sock yarn is concerned. OH BTW do you see the tiny tiny circular needle up in there? It’s a 9″ Hiya Hiya that I got last weekend at the Yarn Boutique. I think I really like the tiny tiny circular, but not for cable work, so I might switch back to DPNs. However, I think for whipping out a plain sock they will be awesome. You do have to rearrange the way you knit because you’re really knitting with the tips of your fingers.

And then the other thing I am working on is a plain jane sock out of some old Trekking XXL in #167 that I’ve had laying around for years.

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I am going to try to finish these, I really am. Really. They are kind of boring, obviously, but won’t they be nice when they’re done? Argh. I think keeping the leg shortish (about 5 inches) will help.

I am also working on a cardigan but it is also boring and stockinetty. More on that later.

Let the Right Robot In

terminator salvation

Well, I certainly enjoyed the new Terminator movie, but that is because I am quietly a Terminator geek. (Though I didn’t watch much of season 2 Sarah Connor, simply because I could never remember when it was on. I’ll get the DVD.) I mean, robots! KILLER ROBOTS!

So, this movie has no time traveling in it, which is nice because sometimes time traveling is annoying.  Though it’s never bothered me in the Terminator movies, probably because there are no stupid philosophical/physics-related questions as to what might happen if someone goes back in time and – *gasp* – meets themselves.

Some people really worry about this. I say, everything I need to know about time travel, I learned from the Back to the Future movies.  I.e., if you meet yourself in the past/future, you do not create a black hole or destroy the universe, you merely FAINT.  And your actions in the past can change the future.

Thank you.

Anyway, so Terminator Salvation was pretty decent, however I missed any mention of time travel at all, so if you hadn’t seen any of the previous Terminators, you might be confused why a 35-yr old guy is trying to rescue a teenager who he says is his dad…

But yeah, ROBOTS, EXPLOSIONS, naked CGI-Ahnold-as-T-800 cameo…

Heh.

I would give it a solid B grade.

Additional points for the Marcus-kind-of-an-infiltration-unit guy/robot being super hot.

*ahem*

***

I would still like to see Star Trek again, plus there are still a couple of movies coming out this summer that I would like to see, including the new Transformers and the new Harry Potter.  I didn’t see the first Transformers in the theatre, and I think that it would have been pretty awesome. And I always go see HP in theatres.  This is the one where __________ dies, so I’m curious as to how that will be handled.

I’m currently trying to watch “Let the Right One In” which is a recent Swedish film about a vampire girl and a serial killer and bullies.  I had a hard time getting into it at first because the DVD is dubbed rather terribly into English, but I finally figured out how to get it to play in Swedish with subtitles and it’s much improved. I will try finishing that one tonight.  There is apparently an American remake in process, but, yawn.  The original is lovely, and hell, you can watch the crappy dubbed version if you don’t want to watch it in Swedish. I’m not sure why they’re remaking it, except that Hollywood hasn’t had an original idea in years.

Now, if Showtime would ever freakin’ replay Season 3 of Dexter, I’d be all set. Hmpf. 

Superbizzy

Yow, this year is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, huh?

Last week my friend Julie came to visit from Biloxi, MS and it rained pretty much the whole time she was here, so we weren’t able to do everything that I was planning. But we did make it up to Sacramento and the Jelly Belly Factory and saw Wolverine which we liked.  It was a little strange – Julie met Malvina and Sam, and none of my Texas friends have met any of my California friends until now.  But they seemed to get along, so that was nice!

For Mother’s Day I took my mom to see the new Star Trek and it was soooo good!

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We really liked it, and I think everyone should see it on the big screen if they have a chance. Though I do think it’s funny that in all the articles I’ve read about it, people are talking about the cast being a cast of “unknowns” which I wouldn’t agree with – I mean, Karl Urban! (Eomer on Lord of the Rings) Zachary Quinto! (Sylar on Heroes) SIMON PEGG!! (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz)… Anyway, I’d heard of everybody in the cast, and even spotted some JJ Abrams regulars popping up here and there.

I finished a couple of pairs of socks:

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Pattern: Lacunae Socks by Anne Hanson of Knitspot
Yarn: Valley Franklin Yarn /dyed by the Kangaroo Dyer from Webs
Mods: Not a single one!

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Pattern: Kai-Mei from Sock Innovation (Cookie A)
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino Sock 2/6 in Pixie
Mods: None!

I like both pairs.  The green ones were made for Abby, but the purple ones are for me.  I really liked working with the Fleece Artist yarn, and I apparently have another skein in my stash, so that’s pretty cool.

My current problem is what to knit next because I don’t know what to do, or what to knit it out of.  Phooey! I think it will probably be another Anne Hanson pattern – I really liked knitting the Lacunae socks, and I have a couple other patterns by her in my pattern collection.

I do have a couple other projects planned – some more Hearts Afire socks for Malvina, finish Abby’s rainbow Monkey socks, etc. But I want to start something else, too, and that’s where I’m coming up empty. Wah.

I’ve been so busy lately, but I hope to start updating a little more. *hopes*

First FO of 2009

Malvina's Christmas Socks

Well, I finished Malvina’s socks with only a couple hours to spare – literally, finished them up around 11 a.m., and gave them to her around 3 p.m. later that afternoon. She seemed to like them, so that was nice (and blatant flattery post-gifting encourages more product).

Anyway, I have been packing and stuff and I don’t have internets hooked up at the new place yet. I’m getting my uber-cable hooked up on Sunday, but I’m waiting for Robyn to give me their old AT&T modem before I call to hook up internet. I’m getting uber-internets too.

Seriously, I decided to get Direct TV, which is my first experience with satellite, and I hope it is good – don’t tell me if it’s not, I would rather have my spirits crushed on my own time :P – and I totally got a year free of Showtime which means: DEXTER DEXTER DEXTER! Also, my three months free of HBO conveniently coincides with the airing of Big Love, everybody’s favorite show about polygamy.

Anyway, so I also ordered some of the new Felici colorways from Knitpicks, which means I will have eight tons of Felici and still haven’t finished the one pair I started. OH WELL. That is my last yarn order until STITCHES I SWEAR IT ON MY DEAD FISH SPARKEY’S GRAVE.

(Did we bury Sparkey or flush him? I can’t remember, it was 16 years ago. I think we buried him in an elaborate fish funeral complete with saluting.)

Uh, yeah, so anyway, I have to go pack 8,234,678 books now.

Finished Mitts and Twilight

Roadhouse Mitts

I finished the Roadhouse Mitts. They turned out nice, though don’t they look stupid not worn? All squished up and hinky.

Anyway, despite that, they fit great and I’m really pleased with them.

STATS: Franklin Sock Yarn from Webs in a mystery colorway dyed by the Kangaroo dyer. The color is better in these pictures, but I think my camera is having fits with darker tones in the red range. Yikes. They are really nice in real life.

THE PATTERN: Bluebell rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch over 56 stitches. Rib at edges is K3 P1 K1 P1 and K1 P1 on the thumb. I probably won’t write a pattern for them because I don’t know how to explain what I did. (“Like, knit in pattern, then make a thumb! then like stop and augh!”) Meh.

The yarn is extremely generous in yardage, so I think I will probably have enough for a pair of socks even after knitting these, which didn’t really take up that much. They’re only about 7 inches in length.

Roadhouse Mitts

I don’t think I’m done making mitts – which is good, since I want to make gloves and mittens too.

***

I went and saw Twilight today with Malvina, and it was hilarious. Much like I found the books to be like delicious literary CRACK, the movie was more of the same, with slo-mo significant glances and fog machine action and yes, sparkly vampires (complete with “sparkle” sound effects!). Anyway, my review is as follows:

LOL+!!!

THE LOOM OF DESTINY

I am really not sure when it happened that this blog turned into a craft blog, but I guess that’s the way it’s rolling.

My goal for the next few months: MOVE. Like, physically move – unload my storage unit with all my Texas stuff and find a place to live. I may already have done that. Does anyone have $40K? Hello?

Once I move, presumably into a two bedroomed place, one bedroom will be the Studio. I have been far too remiss in the part of my life that I miss the most: drawing. I want to get a proper drafting table and lighting and soon will delve back into illustration , specifically comics (yeah I know) and some narrative work. Click the pic to the left to embiggen my last significant piece that was actually sort of finished. It’s old, from May or June, I think, and I totally drew it at work while on the phone. I have drawn a few zombie-related comics (naturally there are no zombies in them) but they are not done.

I really miss all the time I used to spend on the drawings – and I know that technically I could make time, but I have to say, this whole “working for a living” really cuts into my me-time. However, in the end, I have still been fairly artistic and crafty with all the knitting and teaching myself to weave and all that. I got my sock mojo back. I dumped my hojillion skeins of sock yarn on the bed the other night and sorted it into AWESOME and REALLY AWESOME piles – I have a really great collection at this point. And I really want to make something out of the Dream in Color Smooshy.

This weekend I am going to Ikea with my mom. I saw in Craft Magazine a project I would like to make. It involves these apothacery (oh god how do you spell that???) drawer things that glued together and screwed to a different table base makes a great jewelry stand. I don’t normally buy Craft because it is stupid expensive, but the latest issue was all about weaving, and I have been bitten pretty hard by the weaving bug. In fact, I finished my first project and warped the loom for the next one:

Woven Scarf

I used various socks yarns to complete my first project, primarily some Knitpicks Essential Kettle Dyed in Bordeaux (?). The Essential is quite soft and makes a nice end project. I didn’t like the Bordeaux color at all (wasn’t variegated enough, but I bought it when it first came out so their dyeing process is probably improved at this juncture) and was actually going to return it, but then thought it would be a good yarn to try my hand at weaving with – because I wouldn’t care about cutting it up.

Weaving

The new project is being woven out of Noro Silk Garden Sock, which while GORGEOUS was kind of a dumb choice – the yarn is very sticky on itself, and makes moving the heddle rather annoying. However, the end product will be worth it. My tension is much better on this piece, and the colors are super awesome! Too bad I am ALLERGIC TO MOHAIR. Also, you’d think I’d be a little more freaked about cutting up a $20 skein of yarn, but OH NO, I cut that sucker with an  evil gleam in my eye!

Anyway.

I also got a haircut. I like it a lot.

New Hair + Scarf

I think that might be the debut of my “new” glasses on this blog, too. I’ve had them for a couple months now. I was getting a lot of headaches and realized that it had been about three years since I’d been to the eye doctor.  Time to get new glasses.  I’m slowly going blind, of course, and I suspect bifocals will be in my future, but for now, my vision has settled in the 20/40 and 20/50 range. Also the doctor did a pressure test on my eyeballs where he numbed them and put a glowing blue contact on each one (glaucoma test?) which SUCKED because I totally have an eyeball issue, like, don’t touch them! Or get near them! Or talk about them getting squished or poked in any way!

Oh god, now I have to lie down; I’ve disgusted myself.

P.S. Be sure to check out WANTED, the movie about the LOOM OF DESTINY and fraternity of assassins who use it:

I thought it was pretty awesome (and better than Batman, BUT EVERYTHING IS BETTER THAN THE DARK KNIGHT). Okay, the movie is not really about weaving, it is about explosions.

Magic Loopin’

Just dropping by to announce that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth in terms of blogging. I have just been… not inclined. Or distracted, or busy, or whatever.

Last weekend we were in Redding for my cousin’s wedding. I forgot to bring any knitting, so when we were at Sew What! (a funny quilting/knitting hybrid shop) I bought some Panda Wool (bamboo/wool/nylon mix) and a 40″ US2 circular, looked up magic loop on my laptop (free wireless at the motel) and taught myself magic loop:

Sock started in Redding

I am not super enamored of it for socks (DPNs 4eva!), but the possibilities of its use for sweater sleeves, hat decreases, etc., are pretty great. I look forward to using it on top-down sweater sleeves, where DPNs are kind of a pain.

I really like the Panda Wool, it has a nice drapey quality to it.

***

I went and saw the Dark Knight last night, and was VERY BORED by it. It is NOT the second coming of superhero movies, it was basically boring in every way, rather masogynistic (only main female character gets burnt to a crisp and the only other female character who even talks turns out to be owned by the mob) and way too long. Props to Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Heath Ledger, though: they turned in top notch performances. And Aaron Eckhart was hot as usual, even with half his face melted off.

Still, I was way more excited about the crappy preview trailers for the new Terminator movie and the Watchmen movie coming out next year than I was about the Dark Knight.

So, go watch it if you’re inclined, but I thought it was boring.

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