Movies watched in May

May was a month of rewatching and revisiting. I guess sometimes you crave the familiar, things from long ago that you vaguely remember watching and want to see again.

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
This is the closest thing to a Warner Bros. cartoon that Disney has ever done. So random and ridiculous, I love it! Not your typical Disney fare, but still highly enjoyable, especially for older kids who get sarcasm.

 

 

 

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
This was a nice movie. And I mean that in the best and worst ways. Even though I knew exactly what I was going to see, it didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Not really the kind of movie I would watch again, but a nice film for an evening together.

I think the cast elevated this film beyond what it was. Ben Stiller was perfect as rundown Walter. Kristen Wiig was good in a relatively straight roll for her. And the rest of the movie is full of familiar faces, even if you don’t remember all their names. The locations are gorgeous too, really made me want to go to Iceland. A good rental for a warm spring evening when you just want something light.

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
This movie is perfect. I’ve watched it so many times now and every time I just love it more. The stop-motion animation is beyond amazing, even more so after you watch the special features and marvel at how much work goes into a few seconds of film. The script is full of this dry humor, superbly acted by an amazing voice cast. This may be my favorite George Clooney role of all time. It has moments that will resonate with kids, teens, and adults. And it is HIGHLY quotable.

It’s **does hand wavy motions** different.

 

Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
It’s still good, what more can I say? It’s hard for me not to just stare during each dance sequence and watch Kelly’s feet fly around (even though I will always have a crush on Donald O’Connor). I watched it a LOT when I was a kid and now I own it on blu-ray and I still love it (though the whole “Gotta Dance” sequence is just so random. Clearly an excuse for Kelly to showcase some different dance styles…so why was I complaining?)

 

 

The Breakfast Club (1985)
I watched it in High School and was underwhelmed by it. I wanted it again last night and was still not in love with it. I think that because I never belonged to any of these groups in high school, the story doesn’t resonate so well with me. I didn’t hit this level of angst until later in life. Also, I was a bit surprised by how many “gonna rape ya!” jokes Judd Nelson’s character makes towards Molly Ringwald’s. I had forgotten all of that and it sorta put me off the “Let’s Pair Everyone Off!” ending.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my favorite John Hughes movie.

 

Airplane! (1980)
So bad, so good. I even got a few more of the references this viewing! This is my childhood (which is funny because most of the jokes went right over my little kid head). I miss movies this goofy. Some of the jokes are so subtle and quick that if you’re not paying attention, they fly right by. Some are not very PC anymore, but how can you not laugh at the whole Saturday Night Fever dance scene! Surely, you can’t be serious!

 

 

The Hunger Games (2012)
What can I say about Hunger Games that hasn’t been said? I loved the book series and I’ve been pretty happy with the movies. We rewatched this because someone had just read the book for the first time and wanted to compare. It’s a good translation onto the big screen, but there is so much in the book that makes The Capital that much worse. But they made the right call not including it in a movie that is already over 2 hours long.

 

 

Poltergeist (1982)
This movie has so many little problems. There are some clunky edits, some of the scenes don’t flow right (especially at the end when they had been packing moving boxes all day yet there still seems to be a LOT in the house). I feel like the story still holds up really well. I still get goosebumps during several scenes. And since it has the Steven Spielberg connection, everything turns out all right in the end. JoBeth Williams is my favorite part of this movie, I think she plays Mom very well. Part of me wants to remake this movie and fix some of the issues and another part loves it for all it’s flaws (and also all the Star Wars toys in Robbie’s room…)


Willow (1988)
This movie came out when I was 7 and I think we must have seen it in the theater. I’ve loved it ever since. Yes, it’s bubbling over with fantasy tropes but it’s heart is in the right place. Before I knew the magic of Lord of the Rings or the darkness of Game of Thrones, Willow was my first real venture into live-action fantasy.

FYI Warwick Davis’ commentary has to be one of the best solo commentary tracks I have ever listened to. Such a delight. If you own the DVD/Blu-Ray, I highly recommend giving it a listen.

 

If you think we have similar taste in movies, follow me on Letterboxd!

What did you watch in May? Did you make it to the theater or revisit any favorites? Let me know in the comments or link me to your post!

Books read in May

Yay, I actually managed to make up for the big goose egg list that was April!

The Lost BoyThe Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This reminded me a lot of A Monster Callsfor some reason. I guess the artwork was very similar – the black and white, the creepy trees. It is a cool style but at the same time I found it hard to tell characters apart. In the end, I was left feeling wanting. It was a cool concept but I didn’t really get the need for the twist at the end.

Also, there were a few lines that the kids said that didn’t feel like kid lines. It made me unsure of how old they were. Our copy is shelved in the children’s section so in my mind, I made them 12. Near the end of the book, Nate and Tabitha had a few exchanges that were a little too snarky, made them sound like older teens. It threw me and pulled me out of the story.

I almost feel like this would have been better as an illustrated novel vs. a graphic novel.

Saga, Volume 3Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great entry in this series. This volume has lots of action and ties up a few plot lines while setting up some new ones. Staples art is fantastic, as always, and Vaughan manages to work in plenty of humor no matter how dire the situation.

Definitely considering buying these when they are published in hardcover sets.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated AdventuresFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

DiCamillo is quickly becoming one of my favorite children’s authors. Between this book and the Bink & Gollie series, I have fallen for the dry humor that I know would have appealed to 10 year old me as much as it does now.

Flora & Ulysses is a quirky, sweet and funny story about a girl and a squirrel. It’s mix of text and comic book style pages flow perfectly.

I’m so glad this won the Newbery award and that it is on the summer reading list this year. Def one I will recommend!

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, #4)Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

World War I was hard to understand even when people were living through it. You sort of gloss over it in history classes because there is no clear-cut “bad guy” like in World War II. World War I was a mess, not only when it came to who was allied with who, but also because of all the new technology that was emerging so we had lots of different ways to kill each other.

Nathan Hale has managed to condense it all down to 124 pages and it works! I came into this book only knowing WWI from watching Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as a kid and basic high school history lessons. Even though it feels like he is being goofy, assigning different animals to each country really helped keep the players clear.

This is a fantastic introduction to The Great War, for kids, teens, or adults. I know I learned so much.

Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford WhiteMadison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White by Rick Geary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another piece of American History/True Crime I knew nothing about and Rick Geary has once again enlightened me. Even though you know exactly who committed the crime from the first few pages, Geary does a great job letting the facts of each person’s life unfold in three chapters and then bringing it all together at the end.

And, as usual, you find the more things change, the more they really stay the same. Everything in this book could happen today.

My Little Pony: Rainbow Dash and the Daring Do Double DareMy Little Pony: Rainbow Dash and the Daring Do Double Dare by G.M. Berrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was SO MUCH FUN to read. Again, Berrow did a great job of capturing the feel of the My Little Pony tv series and characters. And I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a series reader who hasn’t experienced the frustration of not being able to talk to their friends about the latest book a in a series. Perfect book for MLP fans of any age.

Adventure Time Volume 4Adventure Time Volume 4 by Ryan North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fantastic entry in the Adventure Time series. You should be caught up with the TV show (at least up to Season 3) before reading this since there are a lot of references to characters and situations from those episodes. Funny, smart, but with that hint of sadness hidden between the lines, the comic captures the magic of the television series. And don’t forget to read all the secret notes at the bottom of each page! They are the best part.

Charm & StrangeCharm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m bouncing between a 3 and 4 star rating for this book because I have read at least 2 other books with similar themes so I can’t decide if the knowledge of those books lessened my enjoyment of this one or not.

I really liked the short, alternating chapters. Kuehn did a good job of having the bits of Drew’s backstory trickle out as we navigated Win’s current life. I don’t really want to say much more, for fear of spoiling it. It just barely 200 pages, you can read it over the course of a few evenings (and once you figure out what is actually happening, it’s hard to look away, the same experience I had when reading Living Dead Girl, another disturbing YA book, many years ago).

I’m also a little perturbed because our library put a Supernatural label on the side and it is NOT a supernatural story at all. This falls more into the realm of Liar and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. Ellen Hopkins did the blurb for the front and this story would appeal more to her crowd than it would to fans of vampire slayers. (I hate genre labels, especially in YA but that is another rant for a personal blog)

Attack on Titan, Volume 01Attack on Titan, Volume 01 by Hajime Isayama
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t pick up the manga until after having watched the ENTIRE anime series on CrunchyRoll. I’m happy I did because I don’t think you can capture the movement of the 3D maneuver gear on the page. When Eren fights the Titan about halfway through, it’s just a flurry of images across several panels.

I haven’t read a lot of manga but this anime grabbed me and did not let go and I wanted to know more and figured reading the manga would help keep me occupied until Season 2 was made. But I’m sorta having the same issue as the debate about reading the A Game of Thrones books — I enjoy the story more on the screen than on the page, so should I spoil myself and read ahead or just wait for the show so I can enjoy it all as it unfolds on my tv.

It is an action packed series, but I think the anime might actually have improved on the story, expanding on some sequences. And what a difference full color makes! Much easier to tell everyone apart in the show than on the page.

View all my reviews

What did you read this month? Anything you loved or hated? Share in the comments or link to your entry.

Review: Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White

Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White
Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White by Rick Geary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another piece of American History/True Crime I knew nothing about and Rick Geary has once again enlightened me. Even though you know exactly who committed the crime from the first few pages, Geary does a great job letting the facts of each person’s life unfold in three chapters and then bringing it all together at the end.

And, as usual, you find the more things change, the more they really stay the same. Everything in this book could happen today.

For more Rick Geary book thoughts, check out my previous post.

View all my reviews

Review: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

World War I was hard to understand even for the people who were living through it. You sort of gloss over it in history classes because there is no clear-cut “bad guy” like in World War II. World War I was a mess, not only when it came to who was allied with who, but also because of all the new technology that was emerging so we had lots of different ways to kill each other.

Truthfully, everything I knew about World War I came from Blackadder Goes Forth and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. As you can imagine, that was not a very complete view of the situation.

Nathan Hale has managed to condense it all down to 124 pages and it works! I came into this book only knowing WWI from watching Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as a kid and basic high school history lessons. Even though it feels like he is being goofy, assigning different animals to each country really helped keep the players clear.

In a recent podcast on Comics Alternative, Hale mentions that his primary goal was to write a fun story. He doesn’t want these books buried in the non-fiction collection, but on a shelf where readers interested in war and history might find them and learn something new.

This is a fantastic introduction to The Great War, for kids, teens, or adults. I know I learned so much. I recommend this book and ALL of Hale’s books.

View all my reviews

Star Wars Memories: The Phantom Menace camp out

It has come to my attention (thanks to dunc) that today is the 15th anniversary of the release of The Phantom Menace.

tickets please

I guess that is right. That means it’s been 15 years since I graduated high school. Freaky.

Though, for me, the movie premiere was only a small part of the experience. Most of my TPM memories are from a week before, on May 11, when my friends and I camped out for midnight premiere tickets for Baltimore’s historic Senator Theater. The Senator is an old movie house with one BIG screen, THX certified sound and only 800 seats. If you wanted to see the midnight show, you had to set up camp.

front of the line

We were 180th in line, this was not our main view. We were actually on the front lawn of a dentist’s office. No one really seemed to care though. I think a movie with this sort of following only comes around every few years so I’m sure they hadn’t had crazy teenagers sleeping on the sidewalk before. My parents let me skip school for the occasion (which, me being a total straight laced nerd was a BIG deal). This was MY senior skip day. And night. And then a little bit of day again.

This was all pre-WiFi and Smartphone, mind you. I had my cell phone for emergencies but that was all I used it for. We had to use the bathroom in the bar across the street and after that closed the gas station at the corner. The local news paid us a visit, I remember being elated to see footage of us all sitting around playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit on the TV (I had told me mom we might be on the news and she managed to tape the 3 minutes segment for me).

I have to say, this has to be one of my favorite fandom memories. Being outside with all these other fellow Star Wars fans. In the morning we sent out search parties for food and the bagel shop down the road was smart enough to show up and hand out their menus so that was where we all went.

I don’t know if anyone camps out for movie tickets anymore. I know I haven’t done it since Revenge of the Sith. Now that you can order online, it takes some of the magic away. Though I can’t think of a movie I would need to see at midnight. I will see the next wave of Star Wars movies in the theater, but I doubt I will be excited enough to want to camp out.

Anyway, a week went by and we were back at the theater at midnight for the movie. While I was in the moment, in a theater of 800 crazy Star Wars fans who knew all the write moments to applaud, cheer, and laugh it was a fantastic time.

Afterwards, after I had left the glow of the theater, I found myself trying to make myself love the movie but knowing deep down that it had missed the mark. (I clearly remember the guy in front of us in line had Star Wars tattoos all over him and he had just had Darth Maul added to the collection. After the movie was over, I wondered how happy he was with the movie.) It was a confusing time. I just kept hoping that the next movie would make it all better.

What about you? Did you see Phantom Menace at midnight or on opening day? Do you remember your reaction?

mission accomplished

Tips for shopping at Her Universe #FlauntYourWorld

(I know it’s Read.Watch.Blog. but a fangirl has to wear SOMETHING while she’s lounging around on the couch!)

I’ve been a fan of the Her Universe line since it’s inception. If you are unfamiliar with the brand, you can Google and find lots of interviews with the founder and face of the brand, Ashley Eckstein.

The short version: Ashley was the voice of Star Wars: The Clone Wars character Ahsoka Tano. She was surprised by the lack of geek fashion for female Star Wars fans, which inspired her to start this company with the goal of creating “fashion-forward” clothing for fangirls.

ANYWAY, the brand has been around for several years now and has expanded to include apparel for fans of Star Trek, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Walking Dead, and several other Science Fiction series. Recently, Ashley announced the newest line of Her Universe clothing and jewelry to premiere over the summer at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends.

Her Universe

Now, if you are one of the lucky few who gets to attend Star Wars Weekends this year and see the merchandise before you buy it, then you’ve got the easiest job! But the rest of us at home may find it a bit tricky when it comes to knowing which size to pick. If you’re like me, having previously lived in Star Wars shirts sized for boys, you assume that one size will always fit you. But, alas, welcome to the world of high fashion geek girl, almost every item on Her Universe has different dimensions and sizing. It can be a big confusing BUT if you take the time to measure twice and order once, you will be a well dressed and satisfied customer.

Here are a few tips from a Her Universe pro to finding the perfect fit for you:

  • Invest in a tape measure. It’s worth it, believe me. I had never really measured myself for clothing before, mostly because I am a poor librarian and I just shop for things at Kohl’s, where you just try things until they fit. Obviously, you can’t do this when shopping online. And each Her Universe shirt, dress, and skirt may be cut slightly differently so it’s worth it to measure. And measure ALL THE THINGS. Your hips, your bust, and, also, go find your favorite t-shirt and see how long you like your tops because some styles (Dolman, I’m looking at you) tend to be cut shorter than others.
  • Read the fine print. Each Her Universe items includes a list of measurements to help you find your right fit. BUT also read the description. It will usually tell you if the shirt fits loose or tight and also give you a frame of reference by letting you know what size Ashley is wearing. Understanding ALL of those things will help you, especially on return visits.
  • Visit Hot Topic. A few of the Her Universe items are available at Hot Topic. Most of these are the juniors sizes, BUT I was able to find the TARDIS skirt on the rack at Hot Topic in the mall by me. It was great to be able to see it in person and get an idea of the size. I was lucky they had my size in stock, but even if they had not, it would have given me a better idea on the fit. Even if they have a HU shirt you don’t want, you can at least use it later for frame of reference when you see a top with a similar cut and measurements on the site.
  • Be honest with yourself. There is no doubt, these t-shirts are expensive. I love and adore them, but for the price, you really want to make sure you get one that fits just right. Unfortunately, being a small business, HU can’t offer free shipping/returns. Measure yourself and be honest. I know I was a bit sad that the Darth Vader PJ pants did not come in my size. But Ashley and her team are working hard to expand the Plus Size portion of the site and some products eventually get larger sizes. Don’t spend your hard earned money on a top that **might** fit. Find the top that will fit for sure. If there is a shirt you see that doesn’t go up to your size, let the Her Universe crew know! Like I said, Ashley has made a point to expand the Plus Size selection so letting them know what tops are in demand should help them.

Price tag got you down? Sign up for the Her Universe Newsletter! There have been several sales and other deals during the year (obviously May the Fourth and other geek holidays). And every Christmas, each order gets a limited edition Star Wars pin autographed by Ashley!

Good Luck, and May the Force be with You!

hurebelskirt

husolodress

…now, if you’ll excuse me, I just noticed that those previously mentioned Darth Vader pants now go up to a larger size than last time I checked…sorry wallet.

May the 4th be with You.

So, the only thing I did Star Wars related today was post a few photos on Instagram of my Star Wars toys. Honestly, I know those movies so well, I can just close my eyes and watch them in my head LOL.

Star Wars has long been a part of the Definition of Me. I watched the movies non-stop when I was a kid. I have fond memories of putting in the VHS of Return of the Jedi, sitting through the entire Jabba’s Palace sequence, then after the gang escaped Tattooine, running into my toy room to grab my box of Star Wars figures and dragging them out to play with in front of the TV while the “boring” parts of the movie went on (oh you know what I mean, all the talking bits and the sad bits). I think my favorite toy was probably the Rancor because his mouth opened and closed, rawr rawr rawr. Usually I would spend a lot of time setting up all the figures, then the shuttle would land on Endor and I would be back into movie watching.

As I got older, Star Wars was always there but it floated into the background until the early 90s. I signed up for the Lucasfilm Fan Club. I think this was actually a result of Young Indiana Jones Chronicles merchandise that I picked up at a school book fair. Getting that magazine reminded me how much I loved those movies and sent me into obsession mode. My middle school folders and notebooks were COVERED in Star Wars doodles. I know my blue folder for social studies had the ENTIRE main cast list written out on the front. And around this same time the Timothy Zahn novels were published and I was sucked back into the universe.

I’ve never been too deep into the online fandom but I do attend meetings with the DCSWCC, a awesome group of folks that love the movies, for better or for worse. I may not watch the movies every year, but when someone asks me to name my favorite thing, Star Wars will always been on that list.

For me Star Wars is like that teddy bear you’ve had since you were born. You don’t remember who gave it to you. You may know because you have been told, but otherwise it has always been a part of your life. And when times get tough or you’re feeling a little out of it, just holding it close gives you a calm feeling. Rewatching Star Wars just makes me happy. The original trilogy is so closely linked to everything in my life, I just feel at home in front of the TV watching Luke, Han, and Leia run around fighting baddies.

So tonight I raise a glass to the original trilogy, the classic movies that started this whole crazy franchise. You made me the geek girl I am today, and for that, I say thank you.

You scruffy looking nerfherder.