Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pet News

Well, today I took our cat, Calypso, to the vet to get her shot updates and get spayed. We had been putting off getting her fixed because of the expense. We couldn't put if off any longer, she has been in heat for three weeks and was driving us crazy. Now she will not be at risk of a ball peen hammer in the head (That may sound cruel, but have you ever had to cope with a cat in heat? It's almost as bad as 30 teenagers in a small room.) Animal Alliance in La Marque came to the rescue with very reasonable rates, under $100 for the shots and the spaying.

She seems to be doing well, we have her in the small bathroom downstairs. We'll really be able to tell once she's allowed to get food and water. She tried to get out when my husband tried to open the door, but won't come near it when I do. I think she might be miffed at me.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Golden Compass

I just got back from watching "The Golden Compass" with the family, good times, good times.

I'm the only one in the family that has read the books by Philip Pullman, they are some of my favorite YA books of all time. In many ways similar to Harry Potter, but the writing is more sophisticated and a much more subtle form of story telling. Where Harry Potter leans to imaginary magic to elicit a fantastic world, Pullman creates a "magical" world with concepts of quantum physics.

A brief synopsis of the story for those of you who haven't read the book: Lyra, a girl of about 10, is being raised at a University as an orphan at the behest of her Uncle Azrael. In this world, a person's soul is not inside them, but in the form of an animal companion called a daemon. Her best friends are Roger, a kitchen boy, and Billy, a Gyptian boy (kind of like gypsies). The school is trying to educate her and turn her into a lady, but being a precocious, independent and cunning lass, she is having none of it. Everyone is hearing rumors of these horrible creatures, the Gobblers, that are taking poor kids off the streets. The Gobblers take her friends Roger and Billy, this helps start Lyra on a great adventure that takes her on a journey to the great mysterious North to fight the Gobblers. Before setting out on her adventure, she receives a "Golden Compass", a device that allows her to ask questions and find the truth. On the way, she gets help from the Gyptians, a Texas Aeronaut, and an armored bear. The Gobblers are a part of a bigger organization that is afraid of a substance called Dust and doesn't want anyone to know about the parallel world that can be seen in the North. I have, of course, left out details and spoilers.

This is one of the best adaptations of a book to film I've seen in some time. It made exposition as concise and clear as possible, though some of the complexities and plot twists are lost. There were large parts of conversation in the film that came directly from the book. They did a great job of bringing some of the subtleties from to book into the film using the daemons. The girl playing Lyra fit her description to a T and did a great job as well. In fact, the whole cast was fabulous. Great cinematography and use of CGI. They definitely left the end open for the sequel, in fact they stopped the movie before the end of the first book.

The whole family can enjoy the story and adventure, though I wouldn't recommend for kids under 6, they would probably get bored during the story developing segments. I think the husband's favorite part was the fight between two armored bears. I'm not sure which part was my favorite, I think my favorite moments actually contain spoilers for the plot, so I guess they'll have to remain secret.

Go and see this movie.

Monday, December 31, 2007

An Attempt to Maintain My Sanity

At the beginning of the school year I was asked to take a block of the Theater Arts class, I love movies and theater (and wasn't really given a choice) so I agreed. Now I have no training in theater arts, though I took a year of tech theater and regular theater in high school, over a decade ago. I was excited, but what I didn't count on was that most of the kids wouldn't want to be in the class and were stuck there. This is probably the most stressful semester I've had since my first year of teaching.

So I am redesigning the class, I gave my boss, aka the principal, a verbal proposal before the holiday. I want to change it to a film history/analysis class. I am looking for resources and curriculum ideas, any help is appreciated. I must include higher level thinking skills and presentations. I am looking for resources to find old movies or lists of influential films, subject matter or technological, to show segments of. I'm also looking for activity ideas. I have two major projects planned, one as the final exam. I'm going to emphasize analysis and literary devices in film. We will also be looking at film adaptations of books.

Thanks in advance for your help fellow movie buffs.

Rum Cheesecake

Alright, I did a little experiment with desert this Christmas. I made a rum cheesecake, I had made a creme de menthe cheesecake a couple of times and it went over really well. I didn't have a recipe, so I just used the same amount of rum as creme de menthe. The reaction was that it was ok, but it wasn't an overwhelming (I love that word because you can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, but no one is ever whelmed.) success. I just made regular cheesecake and added a little rum and baked it up. I could really use some tips on what might be good with the rum to improve the flavor. I've already thought of cinnamon and nutmeg, though suggested amounts would be appreciated.