the move part 2 / thanksgiving part 1

Dear lord I am down to my last couple of boxes, and those are waiting on a shopping trip for baskets and other creative storage solutions. Perhaps second in importance to the present-ability of the living areas: my books are up!!

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Just don’t turn around to the other side of the room just yet…

We’ve spent this week scrambling to prep the next-door unit for my brother and sister to move into (hell yeah we are talking family compound over here), because I’ll be damned if we are not ready for Thanksgiving next week.

That’s right, my new favorite holiday! In 2012 my husband and I began to host dinner for my siblings and their progeny. This was after a couple of years in which he worked on the holiday, and then a year in which I realized nobody in my family was stepping up to host for the current generation and that was supremely lame.

The first year we decided to launch an all-out attack on Autumn and made crowns and everything:

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Queen of Thanksgiving motherefferrrrs

 

The second year was still in our teeny condo, and we didn’t even have enough seats for everybody so this happened:

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Who needs chairs??

But we watched a bunch of Xena: Warrior Princess and had a Mario Kart championship slumber party. The notion of having a new theme each year stuck, and in 2014 (by this time living in an apartment) we concocted TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURKEY!

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There were also children dressed up I suppose

This year… hoo boy am I excited about this year. Now we have enough space to justify a party! And I’m not pregnant this time so I can drink! And we are going all out on the theme! I mean ALL. OUT. Our costuming expectations have leveled up dramatically over prior years’ token efforts. Don’t bother showing up if you aren’t in character.  Also don’t bother showing up, who are you?

So be prepared for some epic party pics next week, because I am off to decorate.

the academic action hero

Previously I’ve discussed my love of lady action heroes. This week, a shout out to one of my other favorite character types: the academic action hero!

Probably the best known of these is Indiana Jones, though there is a tendency for the current era of filmmakers to forget what made him so appealing. He was Harrison Ford in his sexy charming scoundrel prime, yes, but he wasn’t a generic chisel-jawed action dude. He was an archaeology professor whose primary goal was to collect artifacts for a museum!

Ladies and gentlemen, our hero

Ladies and gentlemen, our hero

(Sidenote: It was a different era. I won’t get into the politics of stealing relics from other countries for Western museums.)

When we’re rooting for Indy we’re rooting for academia, for the preservation of knowledge, for public access to history rather than hoarding by private collectors or, you know, supernatural exploitation by the Nazis. He survives his adventures because he lacks greed and because he spent a lot of time studying before setting out. When the series imploded with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it was (amongst MANY OTHER REASONS) due to a misunderstanding of Indy as a character. Suddenly he’s mumbling out a backstory about his days in MI6. What?? We don’t need him to be a British secret agent. He isn’t James Bond. He’s an archaeologist and that’s cool enough.

In my opinion there aren’t nearly enough well-read subject experts in the action genre, but a few gems spring to mind. One of my favorite characters in general, and a solid heir to the Indiana Jones legacy, is Evy Carnahan from The Mummy.

I... am a librarian!

I… am a librarian!

Evy is a glorious academic nerd, and she is undeniably the hero of the movie. Rick O’Connell goes along for the ride and tries to come to her rescue after she ransoms herself into Imhotep’s clutches, but ultimately the day is saved thanks to Evy’s knowledge of Egyptology and her ability to swiftly translate hieroglyphics. Five years earlier, Daniel Jackson saved the day by translating hieroglyphics in Stargate, but he did not do it with the adorable charm of Evy Carnahan.

I would even lump the Ghostbusters into this category, because they started as a trio of college professors applying their theories in the field. Ray and Egon’s technobabble and droll reference to books like Tobin’s Spirit Guide are just as entertaining as Venkman’s “Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown,” or Winston’s “When somebody asks you if you’re a god, you say yes!”

Other examples of subject experts include Alan Grant and Ellie Sadler, John Constantine, Hermione Granger, even Doc Brown if you want to go that route. I love them all! Academic action heroes face supernatural and human threats, and they persevere not just through physical action, but by using their wits and their knowledge. I will always adore a great action sequence (Indy and Evy get plenty of those, too), but there is a special place in my heart for the professors and librarians and field researchers of the genre.

So do your studying!

hall of action ladies

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Hell. Yes.

Well I saw Mad Max: Fury Road for the second time yesterday. This is the first movie I’ve been obsessed with in I don’t know how long. I’m an action movie fan who has been increasingly disillusioned with the genre, watching it descend into bland, washed-out gibberish presented in quick-cuts to disguise the lack of decent choreography, full of tropey plotlines about dudes getting revenge for victimized female relatives. Don’t tell me action movies are stupid entertainment, because I can tell the difference between a good one and a bad one! Punch punch punch yawn. Fury Road‘s action hardly lets up for two hours, but it is never boring or difficult to follow, and it conveys more heartfelt character development than I’ve seen in forever.

When I die I’m going to ride the highways of Valhalla in the arms of a biker grandma, and Doof the Warrior will serenade my journey with his flaming guitar. What else do I need to say about it?

In honor of Imperator Furiosa, the Sister-Wives, and the Vuvalini, today I am honoring some of the other kickass ladies of the scifi/fantasy/action genre pool. Don’t get me started on the fact that all of these are from the ’80s or ’90s, or else I will rant day and night about how action women have been gradually reduced to one-dimensional ballbreakers in stiletto heels instead of being believable fighters. Ahem.

I am including a soundtrack for you to listen to as you appreciate my action hall of fame. Play it as many times as necessary.

[Aside: Do you know how hard it is to find a piece of classical music when you can’t remember the name?? Thanks TV Tropes!]

Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, 1991

Sarah Connor in “Terminator 2,” 1991

Valeria in Conan the Barbarian, 1982

Valeria in “Conan the Barbarian,” 1982

Zula in "Conan the Destroyer," 1984

Zula in “Conan the Destroyer,” 1984

Melina in "Total Recall," 1990

Melina in “Total Recall,” 1990

Notice a trend? Arnold, the King of Action, isn’t threatened by a lady team-up. Now I’m going to go watch Jamie Lee Curtis come into her own in True Lies.

Leeloo in "The Fifth Element," 1997

Leeloo in “The Fifth Element,” 1997

Trinity in "The Matrix," 1999.

Trinity in “The Matrix,” 1999.

Lorna Cole in "Lethal Weapon 3," 1992.

Lorna Cole in “Lethal Weapon 3,” 1992.

Bonus points for Rene Russo kicking ass while pregnant in Lethal Weapon 4.

And of course, my queen:

Ellen Ripley in "Alien," 1979.

Ellen Ripley in “Alien,” 1979.

Ellen Ripley in "Aliens," 1986.

Ellen Ripley in “Aliens,” 1986.

Ellen. Fucking. Ripley!

Ellen. Fucking. Ripley!

alien baby shower

I haven’t mentioned my pregnancy much on the blog, but with 7 weeks to go there isn’t much reason to be coy about it. Yesterday we had our baby shower, and it rocked. About 40 people spread through my sister’s yard–and after seeing how comfortably we all fit I realized, dangit I should have invited more of my friends and work buddies!

We went with an alien theme. Like, Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens. Because Ellen Ripley is my favorite movie character ever, and it totally made sense because the movies are all about body horror, procreation, and (in the case of Aliens) mothers doing whatever is fucking necessary to protect their kids.

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Hell. Yeah.

But I’ll devote a whole blog to the awesomeness of Ellen Ripley, and why she has never been topped as a female action hero. (My second-favorite action mom, Sarah Connor, does come close).

Today I’ll just say I was really happy with how the party turned out. The premise was that the crew of Nostromo went back into their freezers shortly after Kane’s facehugger dropped off, when they all thought he was doing okay. Ash also collected some more eggs as specimens since the crew didn’t understand their danger. Therefore, instead of shit going down in space, clearly shit would have gone down at the Welcome Home party thrown at Weyland-Yutani headquarters.

Clearly.

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2014 christmas card

Previous cards:
https://samtasticbooks.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/the-annual-christmas-card/

The reveal! If anybody hasn’t received their card by now, something has gone seriously wrong. And I’m out of cards (except for the single copy I kept for my own collection), so my apologiiiiies.

This year we went with the theme, “Jingle Bell Rock.” I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

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2014 xmas card

I included the cats for the first time. Glorious. I was nearly Prince on his Purple Rain motorcycle, but I spent a couple minutes trying to cut the damn motorcycle out of the poster and gave up in the name of a more easily manipulated image.

I sent out 38 cards this year, which seriously made me consider whether there is a way to ease up the ‘handmade’ aspect of the cards.

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After writing “JINGLE BELL” over a hundred times something snapped in my brain and I wrote:

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Just bell

So perhaps next year I will print out the exterior and interior designs, and spend an afternoon pasting it all together.

Hope your holidays rocked!

the annual christmas card

Yes, I am a sender of Christmas cards! However, these are no store-bought packs with slightly personalized messages inside! Nor are they letters updating friends and family about my life (though I have considered doing those as well, since I am pretty good at making a joke of myself). Nay, these are 6×9 inch beauties constructed with cardstock, love, and photoshop monstrosities printed at my local Walgreen’s.

I like to think the photo clerk at Walgreen’s prints out my order each year, over thirty 4×6 photos of the same horrendous image, and sheds one tear in the holiday spirit.

2012 is when this tradition began. Randy and I teamed up to fight off the Grinch.

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You’re not getting any of my goddamn presents you thief

Pretty good, pretty good. I forgot to save myself a copy of the finished card, like a FOOL, though I have a couple extra copies of the photo insert, and of course the digital file.

2013 I knew I had to up my game a bit. I decided that one 4×6 image could not capture the full majesty of what I envisioned, so I expanded to two. We had done the self-serving thing the year before. This time we rescued Santa from a Kraken, thus ensuring gifts for alllll the good little Western girls and boys of means.

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I think I did a good job pasting Randy’s manly abs on that fish tail

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Santa waving meekly like he wasn’t just about to get his ass swallowed by a sea monster

In order to have the two images side-by-side I needed my 6×9 card to open horizontally rather than vertically. Unfortunately, 12×12 paper cannot be cut in this manner, so I made a bunch of 6×9 pieces and hinged two together for each card. I think this went… okay?? I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the durability or appearance of these glue stick creations.

So this year I am going back to the single-image format. I’ve got a pretty good plan. I think it will be a respectable addition to the set (and trust me, befuddled friends and family, you will one day be pleased if you own a complete set!).

Tune back in around Christmas! When I can safely assume that everyone has received their cards and won’t be spoiled for the surprise, then I will post the new card on my blarg for posterity.