State of the Blog

You’ll have noticed a gap in my postings (so long that I lost four Twitter followers!) after I wrote about my cracked crown. There are Reasons (as follows).

The dentist could kindly fit me in the next day (Wednesday). After a few tests and look-sees, it was determined that I had not only broken the crown, but the tooth, all the way up. I asked what caused it and the dentist didn’t know.

The good news is that the crown was under a five year warranty (it was a little over two years old!) and I would be getting the money back.

The bad news is that the tooth had to be removed. I decided that I wanted a dental implant (those are supposed to last thirty years, so I figure I can get a good twelve out of it, if my luck holds). I had them put in the first thing they needed (cadaver bone!) right then. And got the process started. It will cost a little over three thousand dollars (it would have been four, but crown rebate). This is a significant chunk of my yearly income, but I need teeth.

My plan is to sign up for any subbing at my college that I can reasonably do and put that money towards the (huge, giant, insurmountable) cost. I had been planning to pay off my student loans this year, but I foolishly said that out loud. The irritating thing is that I had JUST paid off the last of the crown in December. JUST.

Since I had to, I went to work the next day. According to everything I read, a person is supposed to take it easy for at least a day (more like three) after a tooth extraction. Teaching the first day of college classes hardly qualifies, so I spent most of the next week recuperating. Monday was the first day I felt okay (part of that was probably having to eat soft foods and not having much of an appetite). Then I taught Tuesday, spent all day Wednesday grading quizzes, taught Thursday, and have spent the last two days grading essays (I’m hoping to be done tomorrow).

And that’s why I haven’t written a word in more than a week. I’m hoping when I go to the dentist next Friday that I’ll have good news, like my tooth is growing back, like a shark’s!

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Ack! Unexpected Dental Work!

Last night, as I was eating macaroni and cheese, I felt something give. Sure enough, the crown that I had put in September of 2013 cracked in half. I question the fitness of any dental appliance that can’t stand up to cooked pasta. I should have known when the dentist said that crowns were good for at least ten years that didn’t apply to my teeth.

I am glad that the dental office could fit me in today (this happened about five last night), but I really, truly wish it weren’t happening at all. I dislike going to the dentist. I like dentists and hygienists and assistants and the work they do; I like modern dentistry.  However, I REALLY don’t like people poking around in my mouth. I also do not approve of the fact that this (expletive deleted)  crown cost over a thousand dollars to make and put in and it’s already broken. I don’t make much money at all, and I JUST got done paying of the crown, so I am not happy.

I’m already an anxious person (the filling that failed that lead to the root canal that lead to the crown was probably done in by grinding my teeth), and I fear the dentist, so this is a double whammy to my stress levels. I’m the person who has to have nitrous to have my teeth cleaned, so I’m a very unhappy camper right now–why the blog post is late.

What I’m hoping for is that the crown will be replaced no charge and that it will be an easy process. My inner always cynical voice is laughing at that.

The Enthusiast–Review

The Enthusiast by Josh Fruhlinger came to fruition by way of Kickstarter (note–I contributed at the $15 level), but don’t dismiss it because of that.

Fruhlinger writes The Comics Curmudgeon blog and you will get more out of the novel if you are a regular reader (as I am), but it’s not required for enjoying it (by the way, why are you not reading it? It’s snarky!).

The novel has several moments that made me laugh or smile. The book itself bounces along at a great clip, but the characters are so well-drawn that it’s never confusing or unclear. The main character is great–someone I enjoyed spending three hundred or so pages with (don’t let the length intimidate–not only is the prose brisk, but there are also inner illustrations and reproductions of texts that take up some space). I don’t know if a sequel is planned (the ending ties everything up nicely, but the world that’s presented here could easily accommodate one.

One of the other things that I like was that everything had a place in the plot. Some seemingly inconsequential piece of exposition would turn up later. I appreciate the thought that goes into that kind of world-building and detail work. Another level of thoughtfulness that I noticed was that the commentators from various forums read as real and distinct (I think Fruhlinger’s years of having a blog shows up there!).

Sometimes a male author will have problems writing a female supporting character, but Kate, the main character, rang true. At no point did I think “Yep, that’s what a male author would assume a woman was like” as I have with other authors.

The only problem I encountered was something that other people might not even notice, but as someone who teaches her students not to do this, I found obtrusive–the use of “you” as a pronoun when it didn’t really belong. This is not from the novel (because all of the examples are hiding from me!), but as an example: “Kate liked the look of the station. First you noticed the archways and then…” Since this is third person, that you should be a she–we’re seeing everything from her perspective. This crops up more and more as the novel progresses, but if it’s not your particular pet peeve, or you’re under 25, you probably won’t notice (those “you”s are fine–I’m speaking directly to the reader).

I recommend this novel–it’s a great, boisterous read with an interesting premise and skilled writing.

Review–Mad Max: Fury Road

I’d read a lot of the articles about the filming of Fury Road because the film makers seemed to be putting a lot of thought into the production, and I’ve become increasingly interested in productions with practical effects (not that I don’t enjoy CGI). Then I read that it had some interesting ideas about men and women and was even being praised as feminist. This seemed like an interesting concept, so I watched it, even though I hadn’t see any of the movies before it.

Oh my word. If you are looking for the most beautifully filmed, frequently nihilistic, post-apocalyptic movie I think I’ve ever seen, watch Fury Road. There were parts that were so gorgeous that my brain just said “ooh.” Some of the compositions were paintings of light and shadow and colors. It was lovely.

The action was not only inventive, but there was absolutely no time that I didn’t know who was in shot, what was happening or why. So many modern action films have so many jump cuts, so much shaky-cam, and are filmed in such poor lighting and conditions (and without context) that they mean nothing because the viewer doesn’t know what’s happening (If you haven’t watched CinemaSins‘ take on action, do your self a favor and see them). Fury Road, however, centered the action in the shot (IMDB had an entry in the trivia section on this if you’re interested). It helps that the character design is unique for each named character (the WarBoys are supposed to look alike!).

Another thing that I really enjoyed was that sometime during the beginning of the chase I thought “This is bananas!” It continued to be. Although I know that it was all carefully planned, it had the feeling of a bull session with all creative, intelligent people whose motto was “Sure! Why not?” Have people on poles bending into vehicles to take people? Sure, why not? Have exploding javelins? Sure! Generations of young men raised to worship death and sacrifice for their eminently corrupt and terrible dictator who, before kamikaze strikes spray silver into their mouths? Why not?

I’d stayed away from the Mad Max series before because I assumed that it was dark and ugly. This incarnation, however, was bright, lovely and focused on beautiful destruction.

What do you think? Better then its predecessors? Worse? Missing something? Know something cool about the production? Let me know in the comments.

 

Gratitude and Groans*

* Formerly “Likes and Dislikes” because it took me three weeks to come up with a catchier title!

Gratitude: 1) &2) I am going back to work on Tuesday (wish me luck!) and I’m glad to have a job. I am also glad that said job allows me to have long stretches of time off, even if I don’t get paid. It’s a chance for me to recharge my batteries both physical and mental. I also find that a little time off does wonders for my ability to teach–I came up with an idea I think will work for citation, for instance. If I were constantly teaching with no time off, I don’t think I’d be able to do that. Because I had a break, I could watch some films, read some books, get some writing done (not as much as I would have liked), start a blog, and exercise (not as much as I’d like).

3) This whole adult coloring trend? I love it. I have so many interesting and lovely books waiting for me to fill. It’s stress-relieving, meditative, and fun. In case you’re interested, I like the Dover series and Johanna Basford’s books.

Groans: 1) I never do get as much done in my off time as I want to. When there’s a break coming up, I think of all the interesting things I could fill it with, but I don’t always get there. This break I did more than I sometimes do, though. And I have to remember that resting is a thing I have to do.

2) Winter is here. Snow, shoveling, rain that freezes, slippery slush, cold, and gray skies. Into every life some winter must come, I know. Actually, I don’t think I’d mind so much if I didn’t have to go out in it. As far as I’m concerned, those of us with SAD are reacting sensibly to winter–we should all stay inside, eat carbs, and sleep a lot!

3) Migraines. I have mine almost under control with diet, exercise and magnesium supplements, but my mother keeps having them–primarily because manufactures put palm oil (and sunflower oil) into EVERYTHING. This is because the government told them to get rid of transfats in food (like in shortening), which was apparently killing us all slowly, but they replaced it with palm oil, a trigger for migraines. Not only that, but orangutan habitats are being razed to grow the palm oil trees. Not good!

4) The many, many words that I can’t spell. Part of it is that English isn’t particularly phonetic–when I was taking Spanish in high school, I hardly had any spelling problems because Spanish, sensibly, spells things as they sound (after a person learned the pronunciation rules, of course). English spells things like they used to be pronounced centuries ago (knife, knight) and the way that people who thought Latin was cool believed it should be spelled (debt used to be spelled det)/ English speakers also stole from every language they encountered (and sometimes reflected the spelling in that language, sometimes reflected how the English speakers heard the word, and sometimes “fixed” the spelling, just to make things interesting). And sometimes I think that English just messes with its spellers (“We’re going to have a sound–schwa–that will be represented by a, e, i, or sometimes a combinations of those letters! Mwa-ha-ha!”). The best thing about this whole mess is that we’re so used to it that simplified/corrected spelling looks funny, so there’s no solution. We’ll just keep having spelling bees for the people who are willing and able to memorized thousands of words and rules, and the rest of us will just hobble along with spell check. Assuming, of course, that a person misspells the word well enough for spell check to fix it. Sometimes, I misspell so badly that the checker just shrugs.

ISO…

ISO fellow familiar with Deadites, flesh possession, or demonic entities. Able to double wield chainsaw and sawed-off shot gun a plus, but proficiency with all types of weapons, traditional and improvised a must. Occasional Lovecraftian madness not an issue. We do not require a familiarity with ancient languages, but desperately need someone with good instincts when chanting/reciting/translating is heard. Will consider those with a background in time travel, but must be in step with modern times when the position is filled.

We are desperate to interview. Please contact us at your earliest convenience. Faster is better, since the person who used to be Mary from accounting has turned.

Review–Evil Dead 2

Ah, that’s more like it. A little more slapstick, a lot less tree rape (it really did stand out!).

Things I liked: My word, but that Bruce Campbell can act–which I knew, but wasn’t really showcased in the first movie. He sells madness, determination, slapstick, weariness, fear so well that it didn’t look difficult (high praise indeed).

Everything just zipped by. There are some horror movies that benefit from a slow pace (It Follows comes to mind), but this isn’t one of them. Great energy and enthusiasm from everyone involved.

Some really excellent practical effects. In a making-of piece included in the extras, some of the folks involved in the effects say that to this day, directors are impressed: “You worked on Evil Dead 2?!” I can see why. There were some things that I could not figure out how they did–that extra was helpful for that!

Things I didn’t like: A lack of closed captioning and subtitles. I know the first one was low budget (although I don’t know why it wasn’t added later), but this one had some money (and made some). I don’t have hearing issues, but some of the dialogue was almost impossible to hear, so I turned up the volume. Then the screaming would begin and I’d have to turn it down. This happened the WHOLE movie.

Confusing blood colors. The making-of and IMDB explained it–they were trying to get an R rating rather than an X. But it was still odd. “Why is that person bleeding green? Is that significant?” Black worked, as did fushia, but not green.

That beginning montage. Apparently, they had to reshoot because of rights issues, but I thought “Ash isn’t going BACK to that cabin, is he?” “Is this a dream sequence?” It took a sadly long time before I figured it out. I did, however, like the call-back to the dancing in the reshoot. A lot. 🙂

All-in-all, I’m looking forward to number three, which I’m planning to rewatch.