Wednesday, November 30, 2005

IQ - A little ball o' stress

Ya know, there are some days that things just don't go the way you'd hoped. I'm pretty fortunate, in that my job is relatively low-stress, the deadlines are usually manageable, and I don't have any co-workers right here to annoy me (which I miss some days, but days like yesterday, it was a good thing).

So I had me a bad day yesterday. I'll not go into all the details, but suffice it to say that my head was not relaxed and ready to receive the sweet affections of the CBB when I knocked on his door last night, prior to our heading out to a movie. Once I left work & reached the sanctuary of my car, I tried to find a CD to put on, to calm my nerves. Christmas music? Nope. Sappy country songs? Nope. Tried-and-true KISS album? Nuh-uh. Aha! The compilation of angry-little-songs-I-used-to-dance-to-when-I-went-out-dancing-more-often. A little Nine Inch Nails, a bit of Tones on Tail, some Ministry, and at 75 mph down I-25, the stressors will melt away.

Except the traffic had other things to say about that.

What should have been a quick, therapeutic leadfooted drive down a straight stretch of highway ended up being a maddening, stop-and-go dance past the 2 accidents a mile apart. Nothing like 10 miles an hour to help wash away the frustrations, yessirree. Even a good, throat-ruining primal scream at the stoplight didn't help. I had some small success with a quick gaze into the stars and a deeeeep breath out once I arrived at the CBB's driveway.

The CBB was ever-so-sweet and understanding about my mood (do I really deserve him?!?). We headed to the theatre, and by the time Keira Knightley had flashed her first grin at Mr. Darcy, my mood had improved remarkably. 2 hours later, I was a whole different person, and ready to tackle the next day's events.

So here's my Insightful Question to you:

What methods do you have for dealing with stress? Quick releases, long-term fixes, hide-under-the-covers escapes, etc.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dear Santa...

Well, despite the amazing weather we've had recently, it's time for me to get into the holiday swing of things. And that means taking a cue from my friend Nichelle, and creating a wish list.

For those of you that didn't have me on your gift list, don't worry -- I'm totally not asking for anything. Lord knows I have enough as it is -- including the one thing that I've secretly asked for each year, and haven't found in the aisles of Target or online at Amazon: a beau.

But for those of you who might have been thinking of exchanging gifts with me anyway, and just can't keep track of what it is that I'm interested in this year, here's a little list of ideas. It feels to me like begging, but I know how much I appreciate Nichelle's list, so here 'tis:

Dear Santa....

Friday, November 18, 2005

Harry Potter.......well-done!

So, as some of you will know, I'm a Harry Potter fan. Not a fanatic, mind you, like some of the folks who shared the theatre with me last night for the opening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but a diehard fan, nonetheless.

I left my Gryffindor scarf and sweater at home (yes, I actually have them, along with a wand -- snicker if you will). No waiting outside this time -- walked straight into the theatre and snagged a few seats. Friends Ali, and Andrew & Karen joined me (thanks again, guys!!). I would've gone anyway, but it's nicer to have company. Actually, there were meant to be 3 others, but various and sundry circumstances kept them away. Allow me to say a huge THANK YOU to United Artists Cinemas for having a policy that allows them to refund tickets. I hadn't expected them to actually buy back the $27 in tickets that I had with me, but they did, and I'm so thankful. On to the review.

Know and Understand, O Reader, that I am no movie critic. By and large, if a movie makes me smile at least once, I consider it a grand cinematic feature. So I'll approach this from a fan's point of view, rather than a Siskel & Ebert point of view.

First off, I think they did a grand job of introducing and explaining most of the plot elements, though if you hadn't read the book(s), you'd probably be a touch lost. There were some parts of the story that were quite prominent in the book (Quidditch World Cup) that were only covered as much as needed to help the storyline along. I know JKR is involved in the filmmaking decisions, so if she says it's okay, then who am I to argue? There was a particular character (Winky) who was -- in the book -- quite intertwined with this part of the story, but they took some liberties, rearranged some timelines, and still got the major point through.

The fact that the Three Amigos are now teenagers with raging hormones is not overlooked. There were some scenes where I felt a little bit like I was being beaten over the head with this idea ("Right, Harry's discovered girls -- I get it, I get it!"), but not enough to detract from the movie. In fact, these scenes offered some great bits of humour, which helped balance out the otherwise very serious mood of the film.

Mind you, the mood should be a somber one. These are potentially life-threatening tasks that the Champions are being asked to perform, and to gloss over that would cheapen the very grave threat that a returning Voldemort poses. As the books go on, the magical world in which Harry and the others reside begins to wage a real good-vs-evil battle, complete with the social divisions that come with any war. This film sets that stage well.

There are some not-thoroughly-explained bits that a book-reading fan will inherently know about, that the average movie-goer will not, which might have been cost/time-effective to put in. For example, it's only because I've read the series that I understand why seeing the Cruciatus curse performed affects Neville so strongly. If you hadn't read the previous books or seen the previous films, the references to PolyJuice Potion might not help explain one of the major plot points.

Overall, the film is good, the mood appropriate, and the cinematography nicely handled. Patrick Doyle took over the scoring duties from John Williams, and carried Mr. Williams' themse into this score. I wish Rupert Grint would trim his hair a bit (where does it say that Ron has to look like a ragamuffin??), and there were a couple of forced emotions from Hermione. But the final showdown scene was good and dark, the magic still amazing, and I left feeling like I'd gotten my $9 worth.

Now the question is -- does my next long wait (which started at about 2:35 am this morning) end with a new book, or a new movie?