joanna irl, the geek life

As seen on… September 2014

meadow near El Capitan

Happy October! It’s time for another monthly roundup of stuff I did in other places. Yay!

Newsy things:
Heyheyhey, I got invited to join the staff of International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club as a “Ninja.” Whoop! Just means I’ll be doing more behind-the-scenes stuff, really, particularly in January once I’m (theoretically) unpacked and a bit more settled, because…

This is moving month. EEP. The movers come in less than two weeks and I’m trying to clear things out (which is hard in a small space) and use up consumables and all sorts of things.. Expect not much posting between now and then.

For our last weekend roadtrip, we went to Yosemite National Park this weekend! I’ve got a ton of gorgeous photos to go through asap and try to get posted for you, but the photos in this post are a sneak peak.

Half Dome, overcast day

Things I wrote:
As usual, I’ve been posting stuff in other places. Over at IGGPPC, I’ve got two movie reviews, a Hobbit Day celebration, and an everyday cosplay post.
The Giver was excellent, and much better than any of the other dystopian teen world movies I’ve seen of late. It ought to be because the source material is fantastic.
The Maze Runner was enjoyable and I’m interested in what’s going to happen next. I like that we don’t have all the information going in, and that we learn things as the protagonist does.
Huzzah and Hooray, it’s Hobbit Day! We celebrated Sept 22 over at the site, too.
Everyday Cosplay: Some things happening this month and links to other articles. Just a roundup of stuff I liked this month.
I was also featured as part of the September Staff Picks, which you can check out over here if you like.

Tunnel View after storm

So that’s about it for September. Internet might be patchy in October, but I hope to have some fun things to share about the Great Moving Adventure. See you soon!

the geek life

As Seen On… July and August 2014

Well here it is August and I’m not doing BEDA this year. There has been entirely too much happening in the last few weeks to manage that. I know, all the excuses, etc, but here’s what I was doing elsewhere just the same!

On Geek Girl Pen Pals:
Movie reviews, movie reviews, movie reviews!
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: a really interesting movie, I particularly enjoyed the motion capture for the apes.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Marvel’s biggest gamble to day, aside from the first Iron Man movie actually turned out to be quite good. I think they can now make any movie they feel like producing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Good, the Bad, and the Michael Bay.

IGGPPC Summer Camp banner

And that’s really about it. There’s a lot coming up on IGGPPC because we’ve got online summer camp starting THIS SATURDAY, and as one of the five camp counselors I’m pretty stoked. I’m participating in the background of several activities, sitting on a panel about Everyday Cosplay with some folks I really admire, posting a basic wildlife watching course, and hosting a Doctor Who watch-along.

Y’know, before I wrote that sentence, I was going to say that I was mostly just hanging out and cheering on the campers, but I guess I’m doing a bunch of other stuff, too. Ha. It should be a fun (if slightly exhausting in the best way) week.

the geek life

As seen on… June 2014

Hey hey hey, here’s another monthly wrap-up post thing! I’m about a week late because things have been super busy since July 1st. At any rate, here’s what I wrote about when I wasn’t here (and I wasn’t here much, was I?).

On +5 Charisma at Geek Girl Pen Pals…
I featured a couple of super creative ladies in my Disneybounding/Everyday Cosplay series. Check them out!

Movie Reviews for June:
The month started with The Fault in Our Stars. I thought it was good, and I’d recommend seeing it now that the theater isn’t going to be full of sobbing teenagers.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 was fun, exciting, beautifully animated, and had some really great emotional undercurrents. I loved the relationship between Hiccup’s parents. Do not watch with small children, however, because this movie does follow a couple of coming-of-age, related-to-parent tropes. (You like how I avoided spoilers with that one?)
For its 30th anniversary, I rewatched Ghostbusters and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The humor holds up well. The effects? Not so much.
Transformers: Age of Extinction was possibly the longest movie I’ve ever sat through, and that includes a marathon of all of the Lord of the Rings extended editions. Seriously.

Over at Paper Droids…
I talked about Maleficent as an allegory of assault survival in light of the #YesAllWomen movement on Twitter. Deeper than my usual fare, not for light reading.

And that’s about it! I had a bit of an adventure on July 1 that I’ll share soon (J had a “take your family to work” day and it was both fascinating and very very long at the same time), plus I need to finish the last Australia entry. I’ve been taking a bit of a break for summer, but by August I should be back into full swing, plus with some new content (more animal/conservation/zoo stuff maybe? yes?) for you. Woot! Until then.

joanna irl, the geek life

As seen on… end of May 2014

Well, it’s June, and I’m still working on my Australia reports, though between various life happenings and short out-of-town outings, it’s slow going. In the meantime, here’s what I did in the second half of May!

Over at +5 Charisma on geekgirlpenpals.com, I’ve got three new movie reviews you can check out! (Click the links for full reviews.)
Here are my thoughts on Godzilla (2014): it was all right, but the only really good parts were the brief times when Godzilla was actually on screen; the humans were dull at best.
X-Men: Days of Future Past was outstanding! One of the best X-Men movies yet, and moves leaps and bounds to correcting the issues with the earlier films (including negating the awful X3: Last Stand).
Disney’s Maleficent was an interesting and visually beautiful take on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, and shows that Disney is continuing to break out of their usual formula.

Speaking of things I write for, International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club AND Paper Droids are both up for Geekie Awards! The Awards are meant to honor and give recognition to up-and-coming content creators and the sites that host them, and both of these places have been nominated. The judging is happening this month, with winners selected in July and an awards show in August. I’m excited for both sites.

So there’s the news from my corner of the internet. Hope you’re doing well, and look for more travelogue to come later this week!

the geek life

Thoughts on Jurassic Park, 3D.

Last night I saw Jurassic Park in 3D.

The interesting thing (to me) about this movie is that I remember when it came out in theaters, but I never went to see it. Maybe because I wasn’t quite 11 and the movie was PG-13 (though, seeing it now, it’s a very tame PG-13 compared to current movies) or maybe because by the time I was nearly 11 I was over the dinosaurs thing and had moved on to horses, or maybe a little of both. At any rate, I remember this movie in the cultural landscape of, oh, fifth grade or so and what a big deal it was.

I also remember going to Universal Studios this past November and walking through the Jurassic Park section, and thinking how exciting it must have been when that bit of the park opened, and how much things have changed (with a comparison to, say, the Harry Potter section there now). It puts things into a cultural context where you can see things age.

All of that being said, it is important to know that I have never seen this movie, from start to finish, in its entirety until tonight. The only time I’ve seen it before was probably ten years ago, edited for TV on a tiny, square screen. Somehow the t-rex just doesn’t have the same impact in such a situation.

The movie absolutely withstands the test of time, apart from the obviously dated electronics (the theater audience all had a good laugh at the “interactive CD-ROM” in the Jeeps). The storytelling and pacing are still good, as are the visual effects, which really surprised me. There is no obvious green/blue screen, and I had no trouble buying into the humans interacting with the dinosaurs.

The 3D was some of the best I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a good bit. Most people complain about the “dimness” of the screen in 3D , or how the images look like cut-outs after conversion (like a diorama) but this movie doesn’t seem to suffer from either. The 3D was seamless from my perspective, and actually enhanced the movie– when I took off my glasses to squint at the “original” film on screen, the movie took on a dated look, but with the 3D it was like seeing something fresh. Which, of course, to me it mostly was, but I wasn’t aware that I was looking at a twenty-year-old film.

Besides all of that, it’s just a fun movie. It’s scary in all the right places, it’s got just the right amount of suspense, and a good sense of wonderment at the dinosaur sightings. I kept expecting the floor to shake with the t-rex’s footsteps.

So (if my opinion counts for anything) I completely recommend seeing this one in theaters. I know it’s expensive to see it in the 3D, but it’s a great experience and, I think, worth it.

And, for what it’s worth, now that I’ve seen the movie start to finish, the Jurassic Park section at Universal did a remarkable job recreating the Visitor Center.

joanna irl, the geek life

Revisiting Childhood: The Lion King

Tonight I went to see the Lion King in 3D and I have to admit that I got chills when the sun first popped into view and the music started. It’s a great piece of music for one, but also because it was fun to see something that I remember seeing in theaters. In fact, I remember liking the movie so much we went to see it a second time at the $1 theater six months after it first opened.

While a lot of the movie is exactly as I remember it (I have it on DVD, too, so it’s not like I haven’t seen it in years or anything, though it has been a while), there are several things I didn’t notice as a child. And the interesting thing about childhood memories is that they are sometimes so strong that they continue to be the main perception of something. For instance, even though I’ve seen this movie a dozen times at least (plus every week of summer camp at the zoo), and even though I’ve seen the Broadway production, for the first time I heard the dialog as an adult and not as a kid. I noticed the Reservoir Dogs joke (“They call me… Mr. PIG!”) and other such small things that meant nothing to me 17 years ago when the movie was made.

Another thing I noticed? For being out of food about about to starve, those lionesses are still kind of, well, rounded. If they looked like that in a zoo, they’d be put on a diet reduction. (Note to self: cartoonlionscartoonlionscartoonlionsCARTOONLIONS)

Also, how did Scar get his name? It’s got to be a nickname since everyone else has African-sounding names. Plus, if he was born with the scar then it’s not really a scar, now is it? It’s just a weird stripe on his face. As an adult I imagine that Mufasa and his brother fought as cubs and that Mufasa gave him the scar and therefore the new name. (I have found that my theory is correct. Hmm.)

Another difference from childhood? I’ve now studied Hamlet. Hello, plotline.

But really, it was fun to rediscover my favorite movie from childhood and to find that it’s still beautiful and that I can still enjoy it (even if I spent the entire opening sequence thinking “Hey, look, it’s a kudu!” and other such things). And I think I’d like the new remastered version on DVD to replace my old, well loved copy.

the geek life

Cowboys and Aliens and… humming birds?

Tonight I went to see Cowboys & Aliens.

It is exactly what the title says: a movie about cowboys and aliens. I read a Time editorial where the author was singing the praises of literal movie titles, and I have to say I agree that sometimes it’s nice to have a movie that just says right up front what it’s about.

Anyway, the movie was very enjoyable. Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig both make excellent cowboys and it’s fun to see them play off of each other. One thing I especially enjoyed was that Craig’s character consistently makes a point of keeping his hat on his head, despite tumbling into a lake, being blasted out of a cave, and falling off of things a fair few times. It reminded me of Indiana Jones and his hat… and of course, to have a very rugged Indy sitting beside him made it that much better. They really inhabited these characters and their reactions to (and interactions, such as they are, with) the aliens are believable; when the townsfolk first encounter the aliens, they ask the preacher what they are and he points out that they fit the description of demons pretty well, so that’s what they are for the rest of the movie– demons. No one ever says “alien” because that wasn’t a part of the vocabulary back then. Beings from outer space? Demons.

I don’t want to give any of the plot away, but I will say that a hummingbird appears in two scenes and while it kind of worked for me the first time, I wasn’t sure entirely what they were implying with it the second time. I’m sure they mean it metaphorically, but I don’t like their metaphor/connection. If you see the movie, you’ll know what I mean.

Second, in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the movie it’s mostly just an old-style Western (albeit a little rougher than, say, a John Wayne flick), and when the preacher character is introduced, he says what pretty much sums up the movie:

1. “Only two types of people get shot; criminals and victims. Which one are you?” and

2. “I’ve seen good men do bad things and I’ve seen bad men do good things.”

The movie is based around the question of the main character– is he a criminal or a victim? And a whole lot of bad men rising to do good things.

So yeah. I liked it. 🙂

[edit as of 8/14] Lots of people keep finding this post looking for the answer of what the hummingbird means, and as it’s now been 2 weeks since the movie’s been out I’ll tell you my thoughts here. The hummingbird represents his subconscious as he searches for the answers to his past. He follows the hummingbird to the truth and then remembers what happened to his girlfriend/wife and how to find the “demons” again. There is some implication that the alien woman could see it, too; I was sure she looked right at it, and she was therefore somehow connected to him for his little trip. If that is the case, it could represent any number of things. Here are some of my thoughts.

  • It is possible that the entire sequence after he takes the drugs is nothing but a huge drug trip. He’s still following the hummingbird and has either dreamed up the entire second half of the movie, or the second half of the movie is really happening but he’s seeing a different version of reality than everyone else (skewed by the drug).
  • The hummingbird might be directly connected to the woman. Somehow she recognizes him and that he knows how to find the aliens– either by the bracelet itself or by some other means– and the drug and his recollection could be tied to her (which is why she was holding him as he regained his memory). Another variation of this is that she became connected to him by holding him during the dream, and that she could then see what he saw, including the dream-hummingbird.
  • The hummingbird could represent his love for the woman who died. He followed the bird back to the house in his trance and re-experienced everything that happened to him up until the point he escaped from the aliens. Then when it’s all over and he goes back to the house for real, he “sees” the hummingbird because he has avenged his love and that has given him closure and contentment.

Any of these could be a way to interpret the hummingbird, or even a blend of all of them. I could be way off here, but somehow I don’t think so. And I don’t really like the inclusion of a device like a hallucinated hummingbird when we are otherwise meant to take the aliens seriously as real beings. By adding a dream animal it then makes the whole movie feel too much like a fake scenario. Yes, I know that it is most definitely a fiction, but the movie’s inner logic is all consistent… except for the hummingbird. And that bothers me.