Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Moon... kind of a review, but more like a list of whatever I could remember.

This is a list, sort of, of my thoughts on New Moon. I'm mostly trying to remember what I thought about the movie as I was watching it, as opposed to what I think after reflecting a bit.

Also, I'm sharing my thoughts with you as if you know everything already. I'm not doing courtesy summaries, because you can Wikipedia that easily. Okay?

So... my thoughts on New Moon the movie (NMTM), in random, semi-coherent rambling in which I'm lazy about italicizing titles:

Let me preface this by saying that New Moon the book (NMTB) has always been my least favorite - not because I don't like it, but because it was the most painful for me to read. I remember it was a cold November when I finally picked up the Twilight series, and was going through some depression of my own at the time, so when I finally got to those famous blank "month" pages in NMTB, I seriously felt like maybe the only person more desperately sad than I was at that moment was probably Bella herself. I guess you can say that when it comes to what I'm reading, I can really get swept into the feelings of the characters, and such as it was, I was totally consumed with sadness and loneliness for DAYS (well, until Edward showed up again), that's how deeply affected I was by this book, and in all honesty, I haven't re-read it in full until this past week, and I only made myself do it because I wanted to refresh my memory for the movie.

That said... having re-read the book recently, I was very happy about how well adapted it was, compared to the first book. (Warning #2: I am going to be comparing NMTM to Twilight the movie quite a bit.)

TTM, I thought, JUMPED into their relationship. One minute it's, "DID YOU GET CONTACTS?" and the next, it's, "YOU ARE MY LIFE NOW." In the book, there's much more development of their attraction to each other, and there are those few precious moments where Bella actually calls out Edward on his douchebaggery before she finally decides that she loves him and he is perfect in every way. Granted, people will say, "Well, that book is a million pages, and movies have to be much shorter!", but I feel like Melissa Rosenberg (the scriptwriter) spent her "time" unwisely. (Why do we get multiple montages of them having conversations that we can't hear? Why not exchange those for some actual audible conversations? WHY DIDN'T WE GET THE BLOOD TYPING SCENE???... ahem...)

That said, New Moon didn't feel quite so jumpy. While we moved into the Edwardless part of the story rather quickly, I didn't feel as if I missed anything. I loved the opening epigraph (even though R&J is never mentioned again throughout the rest of the movie) and the grandma scene. And Billy Burke as Charlie was (as he was throughout the WHOLE movie) pretty priceless with his gray hair comment. (Dude, have you SEEN Billy Burke without the Charlie stache? I'm starting Team Charlie!)

By the way, I don't have a lot of SQUEE moments over Edward (or Jacob, either), but I just have to say that scene with him reciting the lines from Romeo's death monologue was totally sigh-worthy (and I did almost sigh aloud in the movie theatre). This is where my English lit nerdiness comes in. There's something about cute guys and iambic pentameter that just melts my cold heart. The only thing would've made it better is if Robert Sparkleson could've recited it in his British accent. ("Robert Sparkleson" is a Cleolinda-ism, by the way. I love her.)

Ahem, /end squee. So the opening was great, although I could've done without the Volterra preview. And again, I'm complaining a little bit that they decided to include the "these violent delights" lines and they image-dropped the R&J book cover without later on including the whole "What if Juliet chose Paris?" discussion later.

Alice: I love Alice, and I love how Ashley Greene plays Alice, but could someone please FIRE the costume designer/stylist? What is up with Alice's clothes? If I didn't already know she was fashion-obsessed, I never would have figured it out from her clothes in the movie. I really don't think Alice would've worn a flannel plaid scarf tied all the way up her neck like that. That said, I love that Alice had more to say and more interaction with Bella. I was worried about how that would play out. In TTB, there's that part where Bella, Alice, and Jasper spend a LOT of time together in Phoenix in the hotel room that TTM barely even mentions. (I'm still pissed we didn't get to see Jasper awkwardly accompany Bella to the airport ladies' room.) Anyway, that part of the book is very important for establishing Alice and Bella, and I wondered if it would be weird if they were all of a sudden totallybestfriendswhoarethisclose in New Moon. But it wasn't bad, actually.

Jasper: always has rat's nest hair (that got worse by the voting scene at the end... seriously, Jasper? Can't you get J. Jenks to hook you up with a good stylist?), and the same "I am so constipated" expression.

The Cullens in general: need to ease off the foundation. I didn't know Bare Minerals made a shade called Cream of Mushroom.

The birthday party scene, which I've seen quite a few times in trailers and previews and sneak peeks, didn't lose any of its magic after so many viewings. I thought the slooooow moooooo was a bit overdone, but Edward pushing Bella into the table/wall was actually quite a shock to me, because they actually showed him doing it, and, I don't know, seeing a guy do that to a girl - even if it's to save her life - is still squicky to me.

Once that part was over... I am SO sorry to admit this... I knew what was coming, and I actually started to cry. I started to cry IN ADVANCE of Edward leaving Bella in the woods, and actually, if I'm remembering correctly, this scene in the movie felt a lot harsher than the conversation they actually have in the book. Like, it HURT. And I was totally hating Edward even though I KNEW he didn't mean it. Man, it was just mean. And I totally cried. I didn't sob, but the tears were rolling down and my nose was starting to get runny, and the waterworks did not stop for a while.

I was happy to see that they kept the "months" sequence in the movie, because that might've been the most powerful part of the book, for me. (Bella, as the narrator, has to say something about everything, or else we wouldn't have a story, so when she says absolutely NOTHING and the pages are empty, we really feel her mental absence.)

So, I have to comment on the Alice emails/voiceovers... I thought the emails were unnecessary. I liked the voiceovers and thought they would've been sufficient as interior monologue, considering how, again, there wasn't much to establish Alice and Bella as BFFFs. I even might've been satisfied if it were Bella talking to Alice in her head (especially since she says she has no one to talk to). But the emails? Kind of awkward and unnecessary.

Kristen Stewart really made me cry. The empty staring off, the screaming into her pillow... it hurt me to watch her. I really have to give kudos to how Stewart plays Bella in general, because it's not easy to make a character like Bella exist as something more substantial than an Everyperson. (There are a lot of us who feel like Meyer wrote Bella as BLAND and GENERIC and LACKING IN PERSONALITY as possible so that the reader can insert herself into the story so it's like YOU CAN BE WITH EDWARD, YAY!)

Okay... I've lost where I was...

Okay, I also have to give kudos to Anna Kendrick as Jessica, who is a b**** in the book, but in the movie is quite likeable and charming. (Ever since TTM, I can't stop saying, "I KNOW, RIGHT???" and it's because of her.)

I was VERY surprised that Bella got on that motorcycle. And was also surprised that having a visual Edward-Alarm-Bell was not as cheesy as I thought. (They had to get more Edward eye candy in there SOMEHOW, right?) And they effectively created another way to introduce the motorcycle element of the story quickly and easily.

So... now, Jacob. I know he shows up in the beginning, but this is where he REALLY starts to show up, and this is where I'll start talking about him now. I have to say, I had lots of doubts about Taylor Lautner's acting ability (he's kind of an awkward ham, if you've ever seen his interviews) and his baby face (as in, am I REALLY supposed to believe that Bella would find herself attracted to Sharkboy?). But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. He played Jacob very well, and this wasn't a simple part to play like in the first movie. And, um... I have to admit, he's a lot more attractive than I thought he would be (which REALLY grosses me out to say so, because he's the same age as my students). But it's not how he looks, so much as he does the whole "I'll take care of you" thing very well, and I like that. Lautner made Jacob and Bella's relationship much more believable to me than it was when I read the book, because despite what the pages said, I still thought of Jacob as this young BOY.

And in this case, I thought the montages were effective. We definitely got the development of their relationship in a much more believable fashion than we did with Edward and Bella in TTM.

So, one of my favorite moments in the book is when Bella, Mike, and Jacob go to the movies, and I was NOT disappointed. First of all, the fake movie names: "Love Is Love Spelled Backwards"? "Face Punch"? You could hear the mocking in Stewart's and Guy-Who-Plays-Mike's voices. BRILLIANT. And then the actual snippet of Face Punch dialogue (paraphrased):

"PUT YOUR GUN DOWN OR I'M GOING TO BLOW YOUR HEAD OFF!"
"NO, YOU PUT YOUR GUN DOWN OR I'M GOING TO BLOW YOUR HEAD OFF!"
"BOTH OF YOU PUT BOTH YOUR GUNS DOWN OR I'M GOING TO BLOW BOTH YOUR HEADS OFF!!!!"

Sorry, I just thought that was awesome :) I'm actually surprised how funny the movie was, considering how depressing the book was.

Okay... what's next... everything was just awesome as is. The scene with Laurent, the scene with the cliff divers... everything was just really well done.

The scene between Jacob and Bella in the rain was wrenching. I actually have a MUCH easier time buying into their "tortured love" situation than Edward and Bella's. I don't know why. I was really, really rooting for Jacob in this movie. (Eclipse, however, is a different story... manipulative bastard.)

The wolf CGI - I was worried they wouldn't make the wolves big enough, but they didn't disappoint, and I'm happy with how it looks. I also like how they were mindful about how, when any of the guys phases, the clothes just TEAR into shreds, like they're supposed to. It was a small detail that they could've overlooked, but didn't. So I'm glad.

Emily was so pretty! And the scar was not as bad as I'd imagined it. Also... is this not where we get the imprinting explanation? Or is that Eclipse? I'm getting old, I can't remember.

Paul: [sheepishly] "Sorry!" = awesome.

Jumping to "The Big Day Where All the Crap Happens":
- I LOVED LOVED LOVED how Rosenberg tied in Harry Clearwater's heart attack to Victoria. REALLY nice touch!
- I also really LOVED LOVED LOVED Victoria's hair color. (Sorry, just had to say it.)
- The glimpse of Victoria in the water swimming toward Bella was as creepy a moment as I've ever seen. I kind of have a fear of the ocean (and all the possible things you might see down there in the dark water).

The return of Alice - You know, I would've really loved to have seen the conversation between Alice and Charlie about Bella. That part of the book always made me cry too. If they had included that in the movie, I MIGHT'VE forgiven them for putting Alice in yet another GOD AWFUL outfit.

Volterra - You know, I really had a hard time keeping everyone straight, but then again, it's not like I paid much attention. I know Aro, and I know Jane, and I know there IS a Marcus, but I wasn't quite sure which one he was - the other dark-haired one? So who was the blond guy? And who was the guy played by the mutant kid from X-Men? Also, I was kind of hoping that Aro would be a little bit more crazy. But that's just me. Like a silly, CRAZY old man.

Tangent 1: Edward without his shirt on actually looks like a heroin addict. Put that thing back on, sweetheart. Jacob clearly wins in this contest.

Tangent 2: That yellow Porsche did NOT disappoint. It totally out-sexied every person in the movie.

The fight scene wasn't actually in the book, but I understand their need for some sort of climactic action, so there it is. It wasn't corny.

Well, it wasn't corny until Alice shows us her vision of Edward and Bella frolicking in the grass. EDWARD - a vest? Really? Oh well, I'm guessing whoever dressed Alice gets to dress the people in her visions too. (Tangent 3: ALICE - that ugly headscarf? really?)

Okay, I really need to wrap this up because my dogs need to go out for their walk:

I have to say, I stand corrected about the end of the movie (the proposal). I thought that Edward doesn't bring up marriage until Eclipse, but apparently I was wrong. So, I'm sorry. Also, I have to thank Rosenberg for cutting it off RIGHT at "Marry me," instead of letting us hear Bella complain about getting old before ending the movie.

Overall, I thought the movie was really good, and effectively portrayed the key moments from the book. I plan on seeing this again, to see what I missed or forgot the first time around. For once, I actually liked the movie better than the book.

PS - I really liked the music better in this movie, especially since we DIDN'T have to hear the Death Cab song.
PPS - Sorry that this blog is so random and incoherent. When I'm trying to write from memory, I end up writing in list form, instead of actually putting together paragraphs. In other words, kids, don't take this as an example of good writing.

Good night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy

I'm feeling good lately. I've been working out a lot, and I just started my half-marathon training this week, and I realized that despite not having run in over a year, I'm running better and stronger than I ever have, because I'm in much better shape than I've ever been upon starting a training program. (A big ups to my trainer Raymond!)

And I'm SO excited about derby. Granted, I've been having a hard time finding time or energy to skate (I've just gotten over a bad cold/sore throat), but now that I'm all better, I am ALL over this. I helped out at the double-header bout last weekend, and I'm SO excited to be a part of this. I just hope I can get my act together and pass the WFTDA minimum skills test.

So things are going well. I'm finding myself, figuring out who I want to be (because it's so easy to lose yourself when you have to dedicate so much of yourself to raising a child), and I feel like my sense of self, much like my body, is stronger than ever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I have no will to live.

I'm sick as a dog right now. (Which doesn't actually make sense, because out of the five living things in my house, my dogs are the least likely to be sick right now.) I HATE being sick. I'm not one of those troopers who can soldier on cheerfully through illness. Being sick doesn't just affect my body; it depresses the hell out of me as well. Being sick makes me cry. Every throat-scorching sneeze, every wave of exhaustion, every breath through my mouth (because my nose is plugged up) - it makes me lose my will to live.

So, in the spirit of misery, here another thing I hate:
when people assume that I have it easy because I'm a teacher.
We get summers, weekends, and holidays off, we get off work at 3pm, and it's not like it's hard to get into an education program. Easy, right? WRONG. Try this:

- We work 9 months out of the year (and that's all we get paid for), but during the summer, most teachers are doing professional development (often because they HAVE to), paid for out of their own pocket. Or we're really just trying to RECOVER. Or salvage our family lives.

- We're TEACHING from 8am-3pm, but lots of us get to school at 7am, and lots MORE of us stay after school as late as 5 or 6pm, and then we go home and work another 2 or 3 (or more) hours, and then lots of times, we spend most of the day on weekends grading the BIG assignments because we can work for a longer chunk of time.

- Being a teacher doesn't just mean that we teach; we also have to do extra duties. Most supervise two events throughout the year (3, 4 hours each? - sporting events, school play, etc); I, however, am a class advisor, which means 30 minutes EVERY week for meetings. Then add on supervising after school meetings/practices (1-2 hours), supervising ticket sales or attending fundraisers (30mins to an hour or so)... Trojan Olympics practice for us is another 3 hours a week for four weeks, and then the event itself is 3 hours... every grade level has an evening event they're responsible for (talent show or a dance... juniors have winter ball AND junior prom), so that's another few hours for set up and the event itself, which doesn't take into consideration other things that lead up to it (like talent show auditions, meeting with event coordinators for prom)... anyway, get the gist?

- And the above is in addition to the staff meetings, department meetings, parent meetings, team meetings... lots of meetings, all the time.

- We all teach 5 periods a day, at least two different preps, with only 1 period to prepare during the day. So, it's no wonder we do a lot of work after hours.

- Um, by the way, all teachers have to have a college degree (in an actual academic field, usually - not JUST education), and LOTS of teachers have graduate degrees.

- Oh hi, NCLB, anyone? Test scores and all that ridiculous crap that takes up our time.

- I teach high school, so I have about 140 teenagers (with their own minds, their own lives, their own sets of issues and problems and backstories) blinking at me every day, waiting for me to entertain them (yes, ENTERTAIN). Elementary school teachers have a lot fewer, but those kids are a lot younger and come with their own issues as well.

Do I hate my job? No. If I hated it, I wouldn't be doing it. But it's a hard job, a hard job that is made harder by the fact that there are so many people who still don't respect it, thinking that it's "easy" and that they could do a better job than we (who are trained) can. It's a hard job that I don't get paid very much for (because teaching is traditionally "women's work"), which means that "normal" adult accomplishments like owning a home or having children are rendered nearly impossible if you want to remain single or want to be a single-income household (at least, in the Bay Area). And it's a hard job that affects MANY lives, because I'm not just standing on an assembly line messing with a piece of machinery, but I'm tinkering with minds and hearts and souls who will eventually be adults working in the world. It's a fragile thing, and it's no wonder you have to be trained to teach.

So just because you sat in a classroom once, it doesn't mean that you know how to be a teacher. So take your snobbishness and shove it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I love it when you talk derby to me...

So, if you've been able to follow my Facebook updates, you probably know that 1) I got a new phone, and 2) I'm joining roller derby again.

Re: the phone
I hate myself for having spent as much time talking and thinking about getting a new phone as I did. It makes me feel shallow and materialistic. I have no problem admitting that I would love to have an iPhone, but I do have a problem with becoming one of those people who does nothing but talk about iPhones (or any phones) ALL THE TIME, like it's the most important thing in the world, because they're totally addicted to their phones. It's cool and all, but really? It's a piece of machinery. It's a better piece of machinery than many others, but still, it's a piece of machinery that will one day break or become obsolete, so it's best not to get too attached. (That's what I have my laptop for anyway.) I had issues choosing a phone because I did want something that could do more than just be a phone; on the other hand, I don't need it to be MUCH more than a phone. Call me ornery, but I don't need a phone that can play music, shop at the Gap, and order me takeout. I want it to be a vehicle for communication, and nothing more. So, anyway... see? I'm talking about it again. Anyway, I didn't get too fancy a phone.

Re: derby
I am SO EXCITED. I will be honest and say that the very first time I heard that there was a derby league in the area (about a year ago), I was like, "That would be an awesome thing to tell people that I do!" But uh... yeah. I got my ass handed to me after a couple of practices. After I learned more about the league, the sport, and the work involved, I fell in love with it. I recommitted myself, but then found out I was pregnant. Yeah, maybe a better skater than me could've gotten away with a few more weeks of skating with the team with an embryo on board, but I definitely was not good enough to keep my baby safe if I wanted to skate. So, derby dreams were put on hold.

Fast forward to now... I've been loosely following the league throughout my pregnancy, and my interest just never went away. I found out at the beginning of October that SVRG would be having their last recruitment meeting of the season very soon. Without even really thinking, I decided that IT HAS TO BE NOW I HAVE TO JOIN DERBY NOW NOW NOW. But what did I do differently this time? For starters, I called my gym (that I never go to, yet am paying $40 a month for) to find out how many training sessions I have left - you see, a couple of years ago when I was far more financially irresponsible and desperate to lose weight, I shelled out hundreds of dollars for personal training sessions (in addition to all the fees for the gym membership). I did use up some of the sessions, but stopped when my trainer quit because she hated the manager. (Which made ME hate her too.)

So, it's years later, and I still have, like, 20 sessions, so I decided to make an appointment to come in, and they put me with Raymond. I didn't know who he was or anything ahead of time. But, actually, he turned out to be awesome. Our first appointment was just a 30-minute evaluation, but he made me work hard, and even though I was limping out the door after 30-minutes, I knew I'd met my match. See, my old trainer (though she was very nice and we became friends, sort of) never really worked me hard enough - we always just ended up talking about whatever (she'd complain about her manager) and I just never felt like I worked anywhere near my full potential. But Raymond definitely pushes me to the limit every time, and I have him to thank for the fact that, while my first derby practice was hard, I was in the best shape I'd been in for a long time, in infinitely better shape than when I'd tried last year. (In fact, because of Raymond, I'm seriously considering trying to find a way to buy more training sessions after I run out.)

So... derby. Probably thanks to Whip It, there were almost as many newbies as there are league members! And we're of all different ages, backgrounds, and abilities, and I think I'm firmly in the middle. It's all coming back to me, but I definitely have to get serious and practice, and now that I've FINALLY dragged my ass up to San Francisco to get outdoor wheels, I'm good to go, anytime, anywhere. I'm determined to pass bootcamp and the skills test the first time.

The thing is, I'm scared. I've NEVER had to deal with physical tests (not since those presidential fitness tests in elementary school. Which I never passed). In matters of reasoning and intellect (and sometimes even memorization), no sweat. Essay? No problem. Multiple choice? Bring it.

LAPS? Um...

But I'm strong. I know I am. I can be fast (on wheels, anyway). And I'm determined.

So now when I talk about derby, it's not because I want people to think I'm cool - it's because I think IT'S cool. And the only way I can show the derby gods (er, goddesses) proper respect is to bust my ass and skate, skate, skate. (And learn the rules.)