Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the Second Week in a Row!

The flower accurately represents my feelings about fall. 

Currently reading:

Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler: Entertaining so far! I started it today and have already highlighted a ton of on-point quotes.

Starfall by Melissa Landers: The pacing feels all off. Not sure where Landers is going with this, if anywhere.


wonder woman
Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine

I loved the beginning of this movie where Diana is on the island with the other Amazons and fighting, and then when she leaves with Chris Pine and is confused by men and sexual politics. But the historical sections during WWI were just silly sometimes. FOR EXAMPLE, Pine's spy techniques appear to consist entirely of donning German uniforms and speaking with a truly terrible German accent. Like the worst. I still have no idea how or why a Native American got mixed up in this story (or what the hell was up with his costume), and is it weird that I'm hung up on the fact that modern-day Diana works at the Louvre? Anyway, it was okay, but I kinda wish there had been more women in it.

This week in heidenkindom:

I totally forgot Bloggiesta was this weekend! I was planning on moving my professional writing website from Blogger to Wordpress, but now that the actual time has come and I've recalled this task, I'm skerred. Supposedly it's easy to switch, but I've met Wordpress before, and I know what sadistic and difficult bitch she is. Wordpress can turn any simple task into something that will siphon your will to live. Why do I want to move over to Wordpress then, you're probably asking yourself. Mainly for the flexibility and more professional-looking themes. I also like how Wordpress handles images better than Blogger.

Anyway, I did look at two WP hosting plans earlier today, then decided to take a break to read a book about finance. Something's telling me this task is going to go on the back burner for the next Bloggiesta.

Has anyone migrated their blog from Blogger to Wordpress or vice versa? Is it really as "simple" as people say it is?

Have an excellent rest of the week!

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the Middle of September

A dog working at an archery shop 😂

Currently Reading:

A Kiss in Lavender by Laura Florand: New Laura Florand book! Pretty exciting.

Sir Philip's Folly by Marion Chesney: Still working my way through the Poor Relations series.


guardians of the galaxy vol 2
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, starring Chris Pratt and a bunch of other people

The most oedipal movie I've seen recently, possibly ever.

Tbh I didn't want to watch this at all, because I thought the first Guardians was insaaaaaaanely boring. But my mom wanted to watch it, so I settled in for a long nap. The script of Vol. 2 is just as bad as Vol. 1, but is slightly elevated by the presence of several fantastic actors who manage to make the dialog sound much better than it actually is. It does feel like it goes on for about four hours, but I stayed awake through the whole thing, there was one really hilarious scene, and the music leaned more toward roots rock than insipid disco pop. So, while I doubt I'll ever be a fan of this franchise, Vol. 2 was an improvement over its predecessor.

the rundown
The Rundown, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Seann William Scott

I honestly don't remember The Rock ever looking as young as he does in this movie. Baby face! Anyway, you can tell the script was written by men because there are a ton of penis and peeing jokes. Like, SO MANY. What is it with guys and peeing? Despite that, it was actually a pretty decent, entertaining buddy comedy. You've got your MacGuffin, baddy bad guys on the trail, the Amazon jungle, an admirably tough token female character. I'm not going to run out and buy the DVD or anything, but it was fun while it lasted.

This month in heidenkindom:

September's been a real bitch so far. I would say I can't wait for the month to be over, but the next month is October, which is even worse. I hate fall.

So yeah. Not really feeling the positivity at the moment. A lot of my writing gigs have dried up and I haven't had the time to hustle for new ones, but maybe this is a sign I need to refocus on writing fiction again.


Lost in the Amazon

Last week, after watching The Lost City of Z, I tracked down Lost in the Amazon, an episode of Secrets of the Dead that tells the true story of Percy Fawcett. I particularly enjoyed it because it explained everything in the movie that didn't make sense. There was no city in the movie because Percy never found a lost city (well, he did, but didn't know... more on that later). And his motivations for looking for said city were paper-thin because the movie skipped over his true motivations entirely!

Percy WAS a famous and very skilled explorer, but he didn't set out to look for a lost city in the Amazon until his last trip, and it wasn't because he spotted a statue in the forest or heard stories about El Dorado from natives.

Percy was a theosophist and follower of Madame Blavatsky, who believed there were seven secret cities across the globe, inhabited by peoples with a higher consciousness and understanding of god/spiritual principles/what have you (picture Kamar-Taj from Doctor Strange). The discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911, as well as early Spanish colonial tales of a great city built by "pale-skinned natives," convinced Percy one of Blavatsky's lost spiritual cities could be found in the Amazon. Somewhere.

But why drag his son Jack and Jack's childhood BFF, Raleigh Rimell, along with him on this wild goose chase, when both 21-y-os were inexperienced and ill-prepared for jungle exploration? That story's even weirder. Before Jack was born, when Percy was stationed in Sri Lanka, two Buddhist monks came to him and predicted his first-born son would be a great spiritual leader. They gave him several signs so he would know they spoke the truth. I forget what the signs were, but suffice it to say Percy was convinced Jack was destined to be the next Nagarjuna.

Once he got the idea of a spiritual lost city of the Amazon into his head, Percy decided his purpose in life was to find this theoretical city for his son so that Jack could learn spiritual principles from the masters and fulfil his destiny. Of course, it's kind of hard to fulfil your destiny when you're dead.

As for Percy actually finding a lost city that's been recently rediscovered, that's strictly true, but much more complicated than the movie implied. Thanks to deforestation, a massive abandoned city has been uncovered in the Amazon, but it isn't the city of Percy's imagination. Since stone is hard to come by in the Amazon, the city was built out of earth and wood, which was quickly reclaimed by nature once deserted. Because map-maker Percy kept meticulous latitude and longitude notations of his journeys, archaeologists know for a fact that he camped smack-dab in the middle of one of the massive earthen mounds in the newly uncovered site. But as the area was covered by trees and vegetation at the time, there's no way Percy would have known he had, in fact, stumbled across a lost city.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me on this journey of discovery.

the more you wish you didn't know

Hope you all have a good week and enjoy the rest of the month!

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Snapshot

Currently reading:

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub: I thoroughly enjoyed this short-lived TV series, so naturally I had to give the book a try. Shocker: It's a lot better than the TV show.

The Dire King by William Ritter: Fourth Jackaby novel! Pretty exciting.


The definitive guide to the best illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, and how to make rain gutter bookshelves.


hitman's bodyguard
The Hitman's Bodyguard, starring Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds

My expectations going into this movie were lower than a subterranean diamond mine. The title does not inspire confidence. But it turned out to be fun and entertaining. I am not unhappy I saw it! Yes, it's formulaic, and Jackson and Reynolds are basically reprising roles from better movies. And it could stand to lose about 20 minutes. But Reynolds and Jackson are awesome together–their "buddy cop" vibe is spot-on–and Salma Hayek is obviously having a blast playing a super bitch. Actually, I liked all the female characters and the love stories (there are love stories!) and tongue-in-cheek humor. It's not going to win any awards, that's for certain, but I can see why this movie's been #1 at the box office for three weeks. You could do worse than to spend two hours of your weekend watching this.

girl on a train
The Girl on the Train, starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, and Haley Bennett

Meh. Very gothic, but not as suspenseful or twisty as I was expecting. It's no Gone Girl, that's for sure. Blunt did an excellent job, though.

wind river
Wind River, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner

Similar to an episode of Longmire, but much less cheerful (and you didn't even think that was possible). I have to say, Renner was a revelation in this one. Usually I find him imminently forgettable, but he really knocked the role of modern mountain man out of the park. Surprising! Olsen looked more like an overwhelmed second grade teacher than an FBI agent, but she did all right. The script was not predictable at all and the story was excellent, except for a few loose ends and things that didn't make sense, like: I thought the crack den was miles from the oil rig, so how did that guy's body get dumped in the woods near there? And how have these tracks lasted so long in the snow after a blizzard? And did everyone really die in front of the trailer? But overall I thought it was a very good movie. Worth watching, just be prepared to be depressed AF afterward.

the lost city of z
The Lost City of Z, starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, and a practically unrecognizable Robert Pattinson

A movie about discovering a hidden city in the Amazon rainforest. What could go wrong???

Well, it turns out quite a lot. This movie was a slog from beginning to end for multiple reasons. For instance:

  1. The story has an unnecessary prologue that goes on and on and on. You see, Percy, our fearless protagonist, wants some bling for his army uniform, but sadly there aren't any wars going on, and therefore no chance to win medals. I feel so bad for him.
  2. When he does finally get to the jungle, it's not terribly interesting because he manages to encounter every Amazonian stereotype. Piranhas. Unfriendly natives with poison-tipped darts. Evil loggers. Shrunken heads. And tales of a lost city!
  3. Speaking of the eponymous lost city... THERE IS NO CITY. What Percy finds is a statue, before he's forced to retreat because of a large panther (see Amazon stereotypes, above). And hey, that's cool. But a solitary statue does not a city make.
  4. Actually, calling it a statue is generous, it's more of a carving in a large boulder next to a picturesque waterfall. It could be the result of tourism for all we know.
  5. To anyone else, this would be a footnote in their memoirs, but Percy decides it means Desperate Indian Bloke Just Trying to Get Away from White People was telling the truth about a lost city and he should therefore go BACK to the jungle to find it. What??? No wonder his wife is pissed at him.
  6. Further point of confusion: Instead of retracing his steps back to the statue, he decides to go a different route. Not sure why. Then, when they're "almost there," his men insist on quitting and going back because it's raining or they're hungry or something. "It's raining, Percy, give up." I think those were their exact words. You guys can't walk another 40 yards? *throws up hands*
  7. WWI break. Percy's son has some Daddy issues because he's spent 80% of the kid's childhood on another continent chasing a statue. So when he's injured in battle and they visit him in hospital, Jack's like, "I wish you had died, for all the good you do us." Ouch! Then he turns around and literally two minutes later, with nothing happening in between except his mom sobbing, he's all, "I love you, Father, and I want to explore the jungle and help you find the lost city." Is this a trap? Is Jack luring Percy out into the jungle to kill him? Questions mount.
  8. I'll admit I spent most of this movie shipping Percy and his second-in-command, Costin, because him going off into the jungle constantly to spend time with his luvahhh makes more sense than the lost city. It was especially obvious after the war where Costin's like, "I have a wife and child now, Percy, I have to quit all that." Alas, this was the only point of interest.
  9. Anyway! Back to the jungle! Again!
  10. So the ending of this movie is more or less made up because **100-year spoiler alert** no one knows what happened to Percy and Jack. They disappeared. My murder theory becomes more plausible by the moment, but I digress. The filmmakers could have done ANYTHING at this point. Shown us a lost city, perhaps??? That would have been exciting. BUT NO. Instead, Percy spits out some aphorisms about courage that are eye roll worthy, and then they're carried off into the jungle by natives. Okayyyy?
  11. Did Percy and Jack find the lost city? Imma gonna say no cuz I never saw any damned city. But according to the infobox that popped up before the end credits, someone did find Percy's city recently. WHAT?!? So there was a city all along? Why wouldn't you show us that?
I didn't mean to turn this post into a rant about The Lost City of Z, but uhg. Just imagine Jaws, but two and a half hours long with no shark, and you have a pretty good idea of what watching this movie is like.

This weeks in heidenkindom:

I can't believe summer is over already. It didn't feel like we had much of one: it was cool and rainy during the months it was supposed to be dry and hot, and now here comes fall. I'm not ready (I'm never ready for fall, TBH). I plan to spend this weekend enjoying as much blistering heat as possible while it lasts.

Anyway, for the last few weeks my parents have been on vacation to watch the eclipse and travel around, and while they were gone and I was alone pet sitting the Scottie terrorists, I decided to go vegetarian. And I feel fucking fantastic! I'm not going to be strict vegetarian or vegan from now on, but I really enjoyed sticking to a non-meat diet and munching on the late summer produce. Simple Green Suppers was a big help; I'd say nearly every recipe I tried was absolutely delish and relatively easy to make. A few favorites were portobello mushroom tacos, roasted green beans and radicchio pasta with pesto, and baked egg pizzioli. I'd recommend this cookbook if you're looking to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

Before I go, I just want to mention my thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey. I know a few people and their families who live in the Houston area and will have a lot of rebuilding to do once the water recedes, and my heart goes out to them. Hopefully Hurricane Irma won't be as bad as predicted.

Have a great week, everyone!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.


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