Movin’ On Over

My odyssey to the self-hosted WordPress blog is almost complete.

I’m hoping to  finish the official redirect either today or in the next couple of days and — with any luck — avoid any broken links or missing pages in the process. I haven’t actually redesigned the look of the new blog, but I hope I’ll be able to do so once I’ve learned enough about how WP themes are constructed.

If you care to go ahead and update your bookmarks, feel free. My new site:

http://raisingcamelot.com

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Thoughts on “Superman Returns”

I’ve been a big (albeit very surprised) enthusiast of the Batman reboot. In fact, I’m still smarting over the Academy Awards’ failure to nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture. However, I didn’t get particularly excited about the latest Superman flick. Is it because Superman is considered too milquetoast for our contemporary sensibilities?

Or maybe the fact that I’m already in the tank for Batman, it would have been too much “superhero stuff” for one post-pubescent married woman with two children. I’m not into comic books or Star Trek or role-playing games. (However, I do have a secret yearning to attend Comic Con every year because that’s where all the good film previews break. I hope you can still respect me.)

I realize Superman Returns is old news now but I caught it on TV the other night for the first time and have a few random thoughts to purge in order to free up some brain cells for the cold fusion theorem I’m working on.

In a nutshell, I was pleasantly surprised. Superman Returns is a very good film. Since I didn’t hate it, I see little point in writing a full-fledged critique of the thing. (What? No basis for snide one-liners? Where’s the fun in that?) But I did have a few random thoughts. Some spoilers ahead.

First of all, I think composer John Williams should have the world’s shortest resume. All it should say is this: “I wrote the soundtrack to American life. Deal with it.” Let’s recap: Star Wars, Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurrasic Park, most of the Harry Potter films, need I go on? I haven’t watched a Superman movie in probably ten years or more but his score for the original Superman (1978) is so indelibly iconic, it made me smile the minute I heard the main theme resurface here. Superman Returns used John Ottman to riff on Williams’ original score — which has got to be the easiest money ever made in Hollywood. It’s a brilliant theme. Only an idiot would screw it up.

Which leads me to the imagery of Superman. Milquetoast or not, I realize how much I love the pathos of The Man of Steel. Truth, justice and the American way. A man who cannot tell a lie. “Nobody” talks like that anymore. “Nobody” values that anymore. But this movie not only made it work, it preserved that pathos far more than I could have anticipated. Plus the visual imagery of Superman skimming the atmosphere as he circles the Earth is powerful to anyone who was a kid when Christopher Reeve made his maiden flight in tights.

Brandon Routh, the man who assumed the tights for this film, is very good. The only minor complaint I might make is that he seems less to be playing Superman than to be playing Christopher Reeve playing Superman. His portrayal is completely watchable but I think divorcing the character from Reeve’s portrayal would have allowed Routh to stretch his acting muscle to the betterment of the film. There were also a couple of scenes where the dialogue clearly meant to harken back to Reeve’s super-banter of earnest but humorous admonishments. Routh was not at his ease in these moments and they seem corny and forced. This film began production only a short time after Reeve’s death, so its not hard to imagine the producers making this (intentionally or otherwise) almost a tribute film to his most famous role, but it’s a bit awkward nonetheless. A Superman reboot is in the works, helmed by the folks behind the successful reboot of Batman. If Routh is chosen to reprise his role as The Man of Steel, I hope he’ll have much more latitude to grow into it without the shadow of Christopher Reeve. He could be very effective.

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor on the otherhand, while world’s away from Gene Hackman’s campy portrayal, is just not scary. Kevin Spacey. That’s right. The guy who played John Doe in Se7en and scared the pants off fat people, hookers, lawyers and the rest of us. He’s entertaining to watch. Not scary. On the other hand…

There’s a great scene in which Lois Lane and her son are being held prisoner on Lex Luthor’s yacht. The Henchman assigned to watch them has an amazingly creepy tattoo of a skull on the back of his bald head. Scared the biscuits outta me. When his head turned, the skin wrinkled and made the skull’s expression seem to change. Yikes. Then Lois’ son goes over to play on the grand piano and the Henchman follows. For a moment, you wonder what this goon with the nightmare body art is going to do to this poor sweet child — until he sits down and starts playing “Heart & Soul” with the boy. Of course, later the Henchman tries to kill Lois and we get the whole creep factor back in spades. But I wondered: why make the Henchman more terrifying than Lex Luthor?

Kate Bosworth did a suitable job as Lois Lane. But I couldn’t stand her hair. I know she’s a blond in real life and they had to correct that. But it was so mousy-messy that it did Bosworth no favors in the looks department. I realize Lois is a no-nonsense reporter, but it wasn’t even no-nonsense hair. It was painstakingly crimped, over-long, dull (as in non-shiny) and frumpy.

I realize I’m nitpicking here, but Superman’s shoes were another mistake. Previous Supermen all wore those red tights-boots reminiscent of Robin Hood in the Errol Flynn era. I don’t think they looked unmanly on Christopher Reeve. But this Superman wears thick, clunky “space boots” that look like a pair of orthopedic shoes your grandpa might wear if he was on active duty with the Green Berets. Wouldn’t be important except that they kept showing them.

I loved James Mardsen as Richard, Lois Lane’s fiance. Marsden is always great to watch, but I thought his character was a huge asset to the film. Apparently, the filmmakers’ intention was to provide Lois with a fiance who was very “Superman-esque” and I think they succeeded brilliantly. Richard isn’t a heel, a cad, a deadbeat or a creep. He’s a good-looking, smart guy who also happens to love Lois and her son Jason. He flies, too — albeit in a plane. No cheap thrills of a cliched rivalry here. Richard and Superman don’t duke it out; the tension of the love triangle works itself out in dialogue, action and expression, as it should. One of my favorite moments in the movie: Lois and Jason are trapped on Luthor’s now sinking yacht. But when the door opens, it’s not Superman who comes to save their lives but Richard. Superman shows up later and saves all of them, but the point is made: even sans superpowers, Richard is a hero — and one who deserves Lois just as much as Superman. Which lends even more poignancy to her choice between them.

Abigail

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Too Little, Too Late

I don’t think she’s going to make it.

I’d asked Scott to restake this oak tree in our front yard because the top was growing crooked. (Yes, aesthetics are as far as my interest in landscaping really extends.) Unfortunately for all concerned, the stakes he brought home were, in my view, “ugly.”

While we waited for the chance to return the ugly stakes and buy some with more curb appeal, a storm blew threw and flattened the tree — literally.

We’ve since staked it out but Scott thinks the tap root snapped and it’s probably too late.

Have I mentioned I have a brown thumb?

I realize the body is not yet cold, but I actually regretted putting the oak tree there in the first place. I really wanted something with better fall foliage and a faster growth rate.

This morning, I set out across the web to see what options I might need to consider. I was lucky enough to discover the Arbor Day Foundation website.

I don’t know where I’ve been but it never occurred to me that you could buy trees from the Arbor Day Foundation online — but you can. It looks like they only ship twice a year, but if you’re the kind of person who plans ahead, that might be just fine. They have a great selection and the prices are really reasonable, especially if you become a member for a whopping $10.

I love the tree-centric features on the website. You can find your Hardiness Zone (in my case, Zone 7), and then find the trees most appropriate for Zone 7. They have detailed information, complete with photos, for each of the trees they offer. My favorite feature is the Tree Wizard. Enter in the parameters, such as type of tree, growing conditions and available space, and you get a list of trees that fit your needs.

Cool, huh?

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New Feature?

I’m thinking of adding a new weekly feature to my blog.

Perhaps — in deference to the latest crazy sweeping Facebook, Twitter and the web — I’ll call it: Sh*t My Kids Broke.

On second thought, I’d better make it a daily feature.

I have two sons. Precious, adorable, cherubic children. They are my daily delight. I love them more than life itself. But.

For starters, they’re two-and-a-half years apart in age. They have no older sisters. They have no sisters, period. They like to wrestle. They are mechanically-inclined. They are obsessed with kitchen utensils. They are currently under contract to the CIA for their preternatural ability to bypass the most advanced security systems known to man.

Take a moment and peruse these “During” photos of my home. Note the dearth of accessories, knick-knacks and objects d’art.

I possess such things. I just can’t display them.

Those of you who have boys — and I do mean to make that plural — will understand. Those of you with girls, or even one solitary prince sandwiched between your princesses, won’t understand the breadth of destruction which can be wreaked by the combined exertions of “the heir and the spare.”

I don’t make empty accusations. Let me give you a “for instance.”

My husband is gracious enough to shoulder several duties in preparing our home for visitors. Standing Order Numero Uno is: put the toilet paper holders back where they belong.

Oh, yes. My sons’ favorite sport is ripping the toilet paper holders off the walls.

Would your daughters ever even think of such a bizarre act of destruction?

Exactly.

Did I mention I’m outnumbered three-to-one in this house?

The toilet paper holder thing is not the worst they’ve done, and some other day, I will post a photo essay to account for more extreme examples of their destructive tendencies. For now, I will just stick to the issue at hand.

Remember this?

Now it looks like this:

They “somehow” (meaning I have a pretty good idea exactly how they did it but have no actual proof…) managed to snap this bolt supporting the chandelier.

I found the whole fixture dangling three feet lower than usual and supported only by the wiring. Yippy.

Word to the wise: If you are considering having children, forget Lamaze class and take a shop course at your local trade school. Plumbing, Electrical, General Contracting, whatever you can squeeze in. You won’t regret it.

I managed to locate the breaker box, find the right switch for the dining room and turn off the power, unwire the very heavy chandelier and stash it away until hubby can weld it to the ceiling.

I’m developing a greater understand of the phrase “driven to drink” every day.

Boys, I love you. But you should know I’ve been keeping each of you a running tab.

Hey, what comes after “trillion”? Anyone?

Abigail

aka Mama

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I Should Feel Guilty

But I don’t.

Okay, maybe a feel a little guilty about buying a perfectly serviceable button-down shirt at Salvation Army and then rending it to pieces for my own amusement.

But I think it turned out well.

I just loved this pattern of stripes too much to condemn the shirt to a lifetime of wash-and-wear drudgery. If love is a crime, I plead guilty.

I made the larger pillow (12″x22″) from the shirt placket, sans pockets. The original buttons were a little too yellowish, so I swapped them out for these 80 centers from Hobby Lobby. At the last minute, I decided to throw on a pre-gathered white ruffle I’d had sitting around for ages. I like its effect but I failed to adjust my intended seam allowance, so the pillow looks way overstuffed. Note the straining buttons. I may rip into the pillow form and pull out some of the “meat” so it doesn’t look so portly.

Aided and abetted by my accomplice, Kona Cotton, I cut the applique and the backs of these two pillows (12″x16″) entirely from the shirt sleeves. The “X” applique was another last-minute decision but one I’m very happy with.  And yes, I’ve come to terms with the fact that any patchwork I do will always have a slight margin of error. Acceptance is key.

If I have a “sewing nemesis,” the invisible zipper is he. I’ve studied the instruction sheet for every zipper I ever bought, as well as every online tutorial I could find and learned one thing: I am a miserable failure. But I just didn’t want to do an envelope enclosure on these pillows, so I made another attempt (or two).

Exhibit A:

This mess was the product of a hour of basting, ripping, sewing, resewing, pinning and swearing. If I was a cartoon, you would have seen an angry black squiggle over my head.

It wasn’t until I found this video tutorial that I finally braved up enough to disregard all the conventional wisdom about basting the seam before adding the zipper.

Eureka! Thank you, British sewing lady. Extra steps are for suckers.

Exhibit B:

I’m not exactly sure where in my home these little darlings will end up.

But I like to think I saved them from a lifetime of ignominious despair hanging in someone’s closet. It helps me sleep at night.

Abigail


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Posted in Crafting, Decorating | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Love Letters

Gary Chapman will tell you that there are five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

In my family, we favored Ritualized Sarcasm. Especially in collage-form.

I was 13 or 14 the first time I went away to camp for one whole week. Knowing I would get homesick, I prodded my older sister and two younger brothers to write me while I was away.

A couple of days into my stay at camp, my name was announced during mail call. I had mail! I was so excited (and yes, a little homesick) and couldn’t wait to open the large manila envelope addressed in my sister’s handwriting.

But it wasn’t a letter.

I remember being a little upset at the time. I’d asked for a letter and gotten…this???

Now that I’ve grown into my sense of humor, I find the collage hilarious. I’m also glad I continued to receive new versions for years afterward, including two summers of college when I lived in Florida. My sister was married and away by that time, but my brothers assumed the mantle of abuse and kept up the tradition. I now have a whole file over which to reminisce.

I hope my twisted sense of humor is starting to sound more reasonable to you.

Some families just hug.

How much they miss.

Abigail

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As Seen On TV

Admittedly, this post is random. But I have no less than 20 posts in my draft file right now — all in various stages of completion — and not the time to finish any one of them.

So I thought I’d just mention. The Ped Egg does actually work.

This is not a particularly speedy tool by any means, but if you don’t mind keeping your hands busy while you watch TV, you can knock it out.

You’ll have to take my word for it, though. I have no “before and after” pictures.

That would just be gross.

Not that there aren’t plenty of “before and after” photos on the internet.

I guess some people are into “gross.”

Abigail

Posted in Random | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

In Memory of Our Fallen Heroes

Source: Time Magazine

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

— Abraham Lincoln

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Scenic 30-A: Cottage Charm Giveaway WINNER

I wasn’t entirely sure I’d get to this so soon but I’ve felt the suspense building all day. Not among the entrants, by the way, but among… me, myself and I. Even I had to know who won this painting.

First of all, thanks to all of you who entered my humble giveaway! This has been so much fun for me! If I could afford it, I’ve had a giveaway every single day. I read each comment and I’ve visited every blog and website left for me. (In fact, I’ve added so many new bookmarks to my browser, I’ve had to set aside time to reorganize the folder. Oh, the untold additional hours I’ll be whiling away on the web now visiting your blogs!)

And the winner is…

Nina  – May 28, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Congratulations, Nina! Please click here to email me your mailing address and I will ship “Beaches of 30-A” to you as soon as I can find a box big enough. (And please send me a photo of it hanging it its permanent home. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!)

As for the very unscientific results of my very unscientific poll, California was edged out by Paris as the most popular response to the question: “If you could have a destination blind from any city/area in the world, what city/area would you choose?” Had I lumped in other places in France with Paris, it would have been a blowout. Top six destinations were, in order:

  1. Paris
  2. California
  3. Italy
  4. London
  5. Ireland
  6. Cape Cod & Texas (tie)

Your comments were so great to read and gave me lots of new places to fantasize about visiting when our kids are grown and I’m too old and crabby to enjoy traveling.

In the meantime, I’m contenting myself with creating new destination blinds for places I love and the places I long to see. One of my favorite parts of the giveaway was discovering that two commentors mentioned a destination blind I’d already designed but not yet painted. Great minds think alike!

Here’s a sneak peak, a blind listing homes figuring prominently in Jane Austen novels:

I hope to have a few of these ready to sell to other Austenophiles at my next market.

Once again, thanks again to all of you who entered the giveaway! And special thanks to Kim at Twice Remembered Cottage for sponsoring such a great “get-together” for her blogging community!

Abigail

Posted in Giveaway | 1 Comment

A Little Overlap

I can’t believe the Twice Remembered Cottage Charm Giveaway has been going on for almost a month! Just a reminder: my giveaway ends tomorrow, so if you haven’t entered, get on the stick. You can view my giveaway here and review all the Cottage Charm giveaways here.

And in other news, I’m kicking off the 3-Day Potty Training method with my 2 1/2 year old this weekend — actually, in about 10 minutes — so my posting will be spotty (ba-dum-bum) for a few days. It may take me until Monday or Tuesday to announce the giveaway winner due to the overlap. I wish the end of the giveaway hadn’t followed so closely with Memorial Day but the potty training opportunity presented by a four-day weekend was too fortuitous to ignore.

Some women may be brave enough to tackle potty training without husbandly backup. Not this girl.

In the meantime, thank you to the members of our armed forces for their dedicated service! Have a great Memorial weekend.

Abigail

Posted in Giveaway, Kids | 1 Comment