Rings of Power Episode 3
So, I still haven’t done a good review on the show. I meant to, but you know how it is. I liked the first two episodes ok, but the third was better. It felt like we finally got some plot – like the story was finally moving.
So, visuals: despite the weird crappy reviews about this, the visuals are amazing – especially for a TV show! The two trees in Valinore – I got misty eyed looking at it! Each location is better than the one before, and even the harfoots costumes and props are gorgeous. They look worn and homespun. Numenore looks old, with fading grandeur that reflects where it is at in its history. The forest with the elves carved in the trees…oh and Khazad dum….omg. It was freaking amazing. The greenery was a fantastic touch – I’ve always wondered how the heck the dwarves, living deep in Moria, ate. And their war masks were a lot of fun to see! The human villages even have some great touches, such as thar looming Mt. Doom like volcano hulking in the background of the barn scene where they find that dark sword…oh yeah. That’s not foreshadowing or anything. Heh heh. The costumes are all great as well, again despite people complaining. It’s like the warg CG that the die hard haters are screaming about – I think they’re confusing quality with personal aesthetic choices. They don’t like the design so that must mean the quality sucks, but it doesn’t. Something can be beautifully high quality and still not visually appeal to someone.
I could carry on about the visuals and all the little Easter egg things and such, but moving on to characters. This is where I’m iffy. I like the actor who play Gil Galad, but why does he look way older than Galadriel? I admit, I haven’t dug up their birth dates (if they even exist!) But I believe he is younger than she is (if not then someone please correct me). Galadriel…hmm. the actress is better than I thought she would be, but she still lacks the presence to pull Galadriel off. To be fair, maybe none of the actresses they auditioned had it, it’s something very rare to be both feminine and yet give off the vibe that you can kick their ass at the same time. Cate Blanchette managed it, and this girl tries her best, but there’s something lacking.
I have mixed feelings on Elrond, too. But, after thinking about it, i have mixed feelings on Hugo Weaving’s Elrond from the movies. We all seem to forget that those movies are not the final, be all, end all Canon and frankly I’ve never seen an Elrond yet that I’ve been completely satisfied with. This guy does a good job with what role he is given, and I could sew hum turning into the movie Elrond, so there’s that.
Actually, out of the elves, my favorite so far is the original character Arondir. He seems to be the most elvish of the bunch. (Come on, at least airbrush the elves! Make them look elegant and better than us! -more on that later). He carries himself well, and seems superior to the Hans without having to be rude or snotty to demonstrate the superiority. His interactions with his fellow elves have been a bit stiff, there’s a definite vibe that they don’t get along, which may be there on purpose considering Bronwyn and what not.
And the humans. They are all doing a good job and seem fine, though it looks to be like instead of making the elves look more elegant, they just made the humans extra grungy to show the difference – aka instead of elevating the elves, they faked it by dropping the humans down a notch. I mean, it works for the village, but then we get to numenore, where we don’t have the grungy humans but have still not elevated Galadriel, and she doesn’t appear more elegant or ethereal than the rest of them. At a glance she looks as human as they do. They should also have skipped that weird slow motion closeup of the horse ride. Just saying.
The dwarves have been perfect. That’s all there is to say about them. And that brings us to the harfoots and…hmm. I’m not sold on them. I’m waiting to see if they actually matter to the story – don’t get me wrong, as a writer I get the absolute blast they would have been to create, and they were created well. They look good, are visually different from other races, and have their own culture, even down to the detail of colloquial phrases such as “mind your fire” meaning to mind your own business. They also had a very interesting festival. The one niggle I have with their culture is the idea of leaving people behind when their entire culture is supposed to be based on the mantra that nobody walks alone – this is such a tenet of their society that they chant it repeatedly as a part of the festival. So, if they survive by sticking together, then why would they leave anyone back? I understand that it’s to create tension and add danger to the harfoot story, but it feels like a confusing stretch, especially when the entire Stranger thing could create enough tension and danger. To be fair, all of the people they mentioned that were left behind clearly died in accidents and such, so perhaps the being left behind fear is foundless, but we will see.
As to the stranger…all I have to say is that I really hope it’s not Gandalf because that would be the low hanging fruit and I want this show to do better.
As to other original characters, I have no complaints yet. The storyline is of course compressed greatly, which I understand since the events actually take thousands of years (If I recall right, at one point it takes 20 years just to raise an army). And they’ve played more than loose with Galadriel’s timeline, but the second age…hmm. How can I pit this…it’s a mess canonical, anyway, because Silmarillion, Lost Tales, Unfinished Tales, on and on, etc etc concerning the second age wete ALL published AFTER Tolkien died. And they contradict one another. The only actual 100% author approved Canon is in the appendices, and there isn’t much there at all.
I could go on, but I’m ready to watch my Kdrama now (Hometown Cha Cha Cha) so this is a good enough place to end. I would say that I like the show, I’m interested to see where it goes, and I’m hoping for more. It’s not perfect, but neither are any of the movies!
And here’s a random John Jones
Have a kitty stare kinda day!J
Mad About Each Other
Still got “the covid” as they say, haha! Didn’t do much yesterday except watch TV. We binged a whole Kdrama series (it had 13 half-hour episodes) called Mad About Each Other on Netflix. I actually didn’t like the first episode very much (A man with anger management issues runs into this crazy, paranoid woman who thinks he is out to get her because he happens to live next door to her and goes to the same therapist she does and so through a series of misunderstandings she attacks him with an umbrella, kicks his shoe into the street and jumps up and down on his car ), but we went ahead to the second and that one had a hook that actually starts getting into the story of who he is and what happened (he’s a suspended cop who got suspended after some hinky shenanigans via the head office and a drug dealer, while he was just trying to do his job he was falsely accused of corruption and he wants to clear his name), then it gets into why she is so paranoid (and it turns out she has a really good reason to think somoene is after her – because they are) so we stuck with it and it actually turned out to be a really good series. It has a lot of comedy in it (literally laughed out loud a few times) and some drama of course, but it never gets super dark. I’ll say it’s one of the few shows that had me actually yelling directions to the characters. Speaking of them, there are a few side characters that get some attention and are used well to add drama or comedy in when the main storyline gets too heavy with either one, and each episode is better than the one before until the next to last episode. It mostly annoyed me because they, of course, pull the stupid “we must break up boo hoo” crap that all series have somewhere, but it does have a happy ending in the final episode, so I can let that go (everything gets wrapped up, which is nice). I still think it would have been better without the break up drama, though.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. It’s hot outside, so I’m happy to stay inside. Stay cool!
The Axe Murders of Villisca – The Movie
The horror movie The Axe Murders of Villisca has finally migrated to Netflix where I managed to watch it the other day. Living in Villisca, here’s my official review.
If you don’t know, there was a famous axe murder in Villisca in 1912 (So shocking it knocked the sinking of the Titanic out of the headlines). While the Moore’s were sleeping, an unknown assailant murdered the husband, wife, and three children with the blunt side of an axe (to really rub it in, it was their own dull axe, used for chopping coal up.) The killer also slayed the two little Stillinger girls who were staying the night (The family had been to a church function called Children’s Night that evening and the girls lived out in the country and did’t want to walk all the way home in the dark, plus one assumes they were friends with the Moore children – weirdly no one ever bothers to mention that angle.) Though there were lots of suspects, lots of finger pointing, and even trials, to this day no one knows who committed the murders, or why. A priest, dubbed “the little minister”, who was visiting Villisca at the time (and in fact spent that night in my aunt and uncle’s house) confessed to the crimes, but was found innocent. Another prime suspect was the senator’s son, and even the senator himself (having hired someone). Adding to it the whole fracas were several weird details, such as the mirrors in the house all being covered, the fact that all but one Stillinger girl was found with the face bashed in (heads covered) but laying in bed, as if sleeping, and of course the bacon (though I’ve since read an article that offers a disturbing idea about it), and the sloppy investigation. Half the town had walked through the crime scene before police ever got there, and people took home souvenirs, including chunks of the dead people’s skulls. The house (Three blocks from me) is now a tourist/paranormal location where you can pay 10$ a piece for a day tour (I’ve done this), or a lot, lot more and stay the night (I inadvertently was in there for several hours one night, but that’s another story). If you google it you can find a lot on the house, the history, and all the rest.
Now that you know the basics, on to the movie!
The Axe Murders of Villisca begins with a quick flash of the past, showing the “little minster” as the killer, and from there hops forward to modern day in the small town of Maryville, Iowa (which I don’t think exists.) It’s fun to note that most of the town shots for Maryville, and later Villisca, are all actually Villisca. (More on that later). We meet our two main stars, Denny, a gay teenager who has graduated school last year, and his best friend Caleb who, for whatever reason, is finishing school up late – this October day is his last, where he will earn his GED.
At the school, we meet the girl of the group, Jess, a Chicago teen who has moved to small town Iowa. Not sure how long she has lived there, but it was long enough to date – and have sex with – the local jock, who then uploaded the video of them online. Of course she is shamed and made fun of for it. Caleb defends her to a jerky bully who has apparently made a career of picking on him and his best friend as well, and school ends.
This is when we find out that Caleb is moving to Omaha now that he has his GED. As a last hurrah, his best friend Denny, one half of the so-called Marryville paranormal society, has planned a trip to “nearby” Villisca. As they’re leaving, Jess shows up (on advice from her friend) and ends up tagging along. To some the scene may seem contrived, but I remember teenagedom well, and some of the weird places I ended up going because of a cute guy, so I bought it completely. By this point there has been some good character development, and some hints that the boys have dark pasts/secrets as well. There’s also an underlying hint that Denny has a crush on Caleb – which gets touched on a bit later but then sadly falls by the wayside.
They get to Villisca, where they get a day tour of a sprawling, huge Victorian house (aka a stand in for the real, and very small house.) The tour ends abruptly when the tour guide’s wife goes a bit batty over Jess touching a piece of candy (going so far as to scream, “You didn’t touch anything?” which gave me the impression that this act of touching that candy is what brought the evil to life and why it suddenly manifests when it obviously has not done so since 1912.)
Kicked out and disappointed, Jess suggests they break in after dark to finish their tour, which they do, by going through the cellar. Playing with their phones, Jess posts a pic of her and Caleb to instagram, which our bully boys (who are parked somewhere getting high) see via their instagrams, which then leads them to head to the house to cause trouble. Meanwhile, at the house the other three set up a seance.
Now from here things start to get a little watery. We find out the secret of the boys’ dark pasts. Caleb helped his father rob a convenience store where someone was shot, and Denny’s parents died in a car crash that he survived. We get to see the ghost of the littlest Stillinger girl (which I thought looked pretty good) but, as it goes along towards the climax, it kind of forgets all that character development – well, doesn’t forget it, but doesn’t give us any of the payoff for it. Which feels a bit like the first 2/3 was written carefully, really developed, and then the ending was sort of rushed. (I did read that they had to redo some of the script because of another movie that came out that was “similar” – don’t know that this is true – so perhaps that’s where the disconnect comes from.)
As far as horror movies, it was good. No “found footage” – which was nice (those are getting old) – good acting, good sets, good makeup. I wasn’t particularly scared anywhere, but then I rarely am (except for Lights Out. Long story.) I think there were a couple of jump spots that I flinched at, though. Nothing that made me cover my eyes over gore, but I find that a plus. Gore can be great but so often it is overused. Their mythos is present from early on in the film, though in a more subtle classic horror kind of way and not overly explained as a lot of modern movies do (A mention that the area used to be a native American graveyard for the insane reasons that the murders took place back in 1912 because that the land was already possessed by crazy evil spirits that could not find rest, and so these spirits possessed the minister who was a lecherous man and had come to see the older Stillinger girl – and had brought her a piece of candy like the one the girl touched in the display. This same evil is what posses our teenagers and makes them try to kill themselves and each other.).
All in all, as a family vote, it got a four star rating from us.
Of nitpicky variety though are three things:
1) they didn’t use the real house – BUT this could be for several reasons. The real house is small, so I don’t know that they could have had the same plot without all the extra rooms, and certainly not without the connecting cellar (though they could have used the house fro a straight on front exterior shot and then done whatever the heck they wanted for an interior, letting you believe the house was narrow but long.) There’s also a chance they couldn’t get permission to use the house, which would be no fault of their’s, so I wouldn’t discount any points from my rating for that.
2) They leave for Villisca AFTER school. The girl has had time to go home, get on her laptop and skype her friend. It has to be getting on to 4pm. They then drive to Villisca, take the tour, and leave, all in daylight. It gets dark here in October at 5pm. No way would they still have sunlight. Again, this is a silly, picky thing that I wouldn’t take any points off for either.
3) They do not show my house! How unfair is this? They show lots of things around me, for instance:
This is two blocks down from us.
That’s the church at the end of our block – it’s also a Pokemon gym. If you look up the street, you can see a light pole. That light pole is on my corner in front of my house. The very square white house next to the church that you can see is two houses down from me.
This is at the other end of my block. We call this Eggsecute corner (as we often catch Eggsecute pokemon there).
This is behind our block (that yard and tree on the left are from the house pictured above). But, the real kicker is…
This is across the street!!! This is the neighbor’s house that gave us cucumbers and cookies! Had they just filmed from the passenger side of the car they’d have had us – but nooooooooooo! And why not? Just because our paint looked shabby? Huh? Huh? Huh?
Here are a few of the other Villisca locations in the movie:
The train overpass – as in the train passes over and cars go down in a very dark tunnel (where my magic shoes came from).
Our “embargoed” bridge – it’s very sad that it is embargoed, but being in a movie has cheered it up considerably.
The grain bins.
There were a few other quick shots, but you get the idea, anyway. Honestly, I think it is beyond cool that they used shots of the real town in the movie. I’ve never seen a movie before and thought “OMG! I’ve been there!” let alone know things about the actual locations. As I commented on another post elsewhere, I know a lot of older Villiscans are unhappy that we’re famous for an axe murder, but I say embrace it. Not like there’s much else bringing people here. (Watch the movie – the part where they say everyone is dead pretty much shows all of main street on it – though the school they show is not here. I have no idea where it’s at, though it does look weirdly familiar.)
Anyway, as I mentioned, for a horror movie, there’s not a lot of gore, mainly because the movie is NOT about the axe murders. It is about the contemporary story unfolding. The axe murders are just a sort of backdrop that show that the evil struck once before. I understand that initially the film was just called Villisca, and though I get why they changed it, I think they’d have been better off to leave it. The unfortunate title of The Axe Murders of Villisca makes audiences expect it to have a lot more to do with the murders themselves than it does. In fact, the house has a bigger role than the murders do.
All in all, it’s worth a watch, just don’t expect a lot on the murders themselves or you will be disappointed.
Have a Your-Town-In-A-Movie kinda day!
Thankfulness #23: Repair-It
Yesterday I was grateful for the Repair-It kit. How long that thankfulness will last, we’ll see.
Before I explain what this is, I should probably start with a couple of facts. 1) I have Sjogren’s Syndrome (along with a cocktail of other things), which has adversely affected my saliva glands over the years (Read: only the ones in the very front bottom work well). 2) Because of this lack of saliva, and other issues caused by autoimmune disorders, I no longer have most of my natural teeth – in other words I have some very beautiful plastic ones.
Or they were beautiful.
On Sunday, while watching Survivor Series, I made the mistake of crunching on a pre-season candy cane. I know, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and there I was eating a candy cane. I deserved everything that happened. Including the chunk that broke out of my poor tooth:
Sad, isn’t it? Now, being plastic, I still had the little piece, so I very carefully saved it, and knowing there is no way I will see a dentist for more than a week, on Monday we checked the pharmacy for a repair kit (thanks to those wacky catalogs my dad gets I knew they made repair kits, and google said Walgreens had them, and what is Walgreens if not a huge drug store?) Anyway, they didn’t have one, but they ordered one for me, which came in today for a total of 6$.
So this evening, I embarked on exciting dental adventures. The first thing was to open the pack and see what we got for our 6$.
There are three plastic trays, three packets of powder, a tube of liquid, a little “spatula” that looks like a boomerang, and some sandpaper. Ideally, enough stuff for three repairs. The directions, which I actually read all the way through for a change, seemed easy enough.
- Put the powder in the tray:
2. Add 22 drops of liquid.
The stuff came out in some pretty big drops, so I only did twenty (bad Jo) because I didn’t want the stuff to turn out too thin – the directions state it should be like syrup.
3. Stir it up with the “spatula”
4. And now, since it’s a missing/broken tooth, I was supposed to put the goo on the spot where the tooth went and then press the tooth into place, lining it up perfectly, and holding for one minute.
I honestly can’t imagine an older person with worse eyesight than mine, or with shaky hands, trying to do this. First off, that spatula is like trying to frost a cake using a stick. The adhesive didn’t want to stick to anything but it, in one giant clump. When I finally managed to scrap a glop onto the dentures, trying to get the chip of tooth positioned was reeeeal fun. I initially tried tweezers because the piece was so tiny, but the tweezers just made things more complicated (I did use them later to scrape away excess adhesive, though, so there’s that). In the end I used my finger, but it stuck to me more than the dentures, and by the time I had it on, it looked like this:
5. After letting it sit for a full minute, the next step is to “gently wipe away excess adhesive with a cotton swab”. Huh. Gently? No, not so much. The stuff was already starting to set, as you can probably see, and gently just made the chunky mess laugh. And as for “cotton swab” singular – riiiight. It took me five, and on the fifth swab the tiny piece I’d glued on fell off and hit the floor. Thank goodness after crawling around under the table I managed to find it.
I then had to fully clean all the chunky adhesive off of the tooth piece and the denture. By this point the adhesive left in the tray had the consistency of taffy:
So I decided I was better off starting over. 1) powder in the tray. 2) Use ALL 22 drops this time (maybe thinner stuff will be easier to work with). 3) stir.
AAAAnd, it looked a bit like water rather than syrup. But I after a few extra stirs I gave it a try. The thinner liquid (maybe coupled with the extra heft the dried adhesive gave to the spatula) was waaaaay easier to apply. It plopped right onto the broken tooth, and the only difficulty was getting the teeny tiny piece lined up. I did a reasonable job and let it sit for a minute:
You might be able to see from that pic that it wasn’t *quite* lined up. But after it set for it’s minute and I started gently cleaning away excess adhesive (being watery, it ran all down the inside) I managed to squish it into place better.
After I got the adhesive cleaned off, I took a picture, and in the camera’s light noticed that the whole bottom half of the tooth was now covered in excess glue that was not exactly visible to the naked eye:
AHHHH! but how was I supposed to “gently” wipe that off without the thing coming off again? So I moved on.
6. Let it sit for four minutes to “set”.
7. Soak the plate in a bowl of hot (but not boiling) water for ten minutes. I have no idea what the purpose of this is, but I am following directions, so:
8. Remove from water, rinse with soap and water, and allow to dry.
Yeah, except remember that adhesive all over the tooth? Guess what – it was still there (You didn’t think it would dissolve, did you?) So I pulled out the trick you’re supposed to use for smoothing split dentures: the sandpaper square:
And after some gentle sanding I got most of it off:
I could have worked on it some more, but truth is I was afraid I’d break it again. This just has to get me through until I can get in to a dentist and they can fix them with a new tooth, and besides, once it’s in my mouth you can’t even see it:
Ta-Da! I bet you can’t even tell which tooth it is, can you?
So, all in all, I am quite happy with the repair kit. Now, I don’t know how long it will last, or if it will hold up to, say, drinking cocoa, but we’ll see. I also want to add that the directions say to use in a ventilated area – and they are NOT joking. This was the one direction I ignored (I usually ignore ventilation warnings) and afterwards I had to stand with the patio doors open for a bit, ventilating myself and the house. Also, the little spatula is very easy to clean. You think it won’t be – you assume that glue will harden on it and never come off, but it pops right off in a solid piece. (That’s the kind of thing that makes me worry about how well this will hold).
Aside from that I got some writing done – I am now caught up to day 15 (which would be great except I am on day 23). Oh well. I will make it.
And now I leave you with this little dental how-to. Wasn’t that fun?
Have a day fifteen kinda day!
Thankfulness #10: Cornbread
In the aftermath of the election I am shocked at the … ridiculous behavior of people, but I am thankful for cornbread . Mom and the bro made stew and cornbread for dinner, and both were tasty.
As for getting things done, I didn’t get much done. I’m still behind on NaNoWriMo , and I’m behind on book covers, and don’t get me started on this house. ugh.
Anyway, not much to share today. With dinner we watched the episode of Murder Comes to Town that featured the Cynthia Borten murder in Shenandoah .
I was a kid when it happened. We were actually in a Right to Life group with her. She was a super nice lady, and it’s a shame what happened to her. Anyway, as to the episode….hhmmm. I’d say at least half of the filler images they try to pass off as Shenandoah are not Shenandoah. The reenactments are hilarious and certainly not filmed in Shenandoah, and frankly they covered very little of the case at all, and I have no idea where a Broad Street Bridge is supposed to be at. The narrator tries very hard to be dramatic , and yet manages to completely leave out that to this day people still suspect her son was in on it all. Anyway, it makes me wonder how many of those cold case, and old murder shows are full of crap.
And now I head to bed. Have a cornbread kind of day!