Guest Blogger: Spring/Summer Travel from Alexandra Jacobs

This was meant to be posted prior to today but life has been getting in the way of my beloved blog lately. I hate when that happens! In any case, Alexandra has some great ideas for spring travel which leads … Continue reading

Happy New Year! Let the race against the Mayan Calendar begin!

Happy New Year, y’all. As I reach for my Excedrin after a night of sending 2011 out on its ass, I can’t help but revel in my New Year’s dinner conversation with my sweetheart about all of the places we want to travel to this year. Those conversations with me can be crazy because my list is so long it really does require a lifetime to actually make a dent in the list.

But seeing that we are all on limited time due to the pending doom coming our way on December 21, 2012, I guess I better try to tackle my short list of places to see before my Mayan ancestors pull the plug on me.

Waikiki-Strand auf Oahu/Hawaii

Image via Wikipedia

First up: Oahu. No, seriously. I love Oahu. Many poo poo it and call it nothing more than New York City on a beach but I have always enjoyed Oahu and Waikiki Beach for the simple fact that it is an easy destination to get around in, has snorkeling, nightclubs, surfing, and poolside bar service in a relatively small area, and Waikiki Beach is undeniably a beautiful beach. Of course, I want to visit other islands in conjunction with Oahu, but I have always appreciated how huge Waikiki Beach is and how shallow it is for quite a long stretch. It makes it easy to just wade in the water all day long and feel completely relaxed, in spite of the amount of activity going on along the beach. Oahu also houses Pearl Harbor, which I think is necessary for all Americans to experience if you haven’t already, as well as the Dole Pineapple Plantation. I know it’s not old Hawaii but it still provides that necessary break we all need and it is America’s paradise. I love it. Always have, always will.

Next on the race against death: Thailand and/or Bali. It’s a tie between these two for me. I have been wishing to experience these two destinations for years now and just haven’t had the time to do so. I predict, (acting as my own Nostradamus) that I will see at least one of these this year especially, since my beloved and myself, love Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine. For that matter, we’ll eat almost anything you put in front of us but we tend to lean towards Asian cuisine more than anything else. I would love to experience the sights and sounds while enjoying an authentic Indonesian or Thai meal with my honey before my time runs out.

Africa-Oh Africa. The life-long dream. When ever will I make it there? Where do I start? There’s so much to see, I think the best way to see it is the way my friend saw it years ago. He went to South Africa on holiday, and stayed for three months. That is the imprint that has been left in my head and I have been subconsciously planning to experience all of Africa in that same fashion. Which is why I haven’t seen it yet. I know, I need to start small because for God’s sakes, it took more than one trip to experience Europe all of these years, but like my friend, I know that once I get a taste for it, I won’t want to leave. But it’s coming. I guess I better squeeze that in before December 21st, huh?

Copyright ciaocarla

Italy-I have to see Italy again before the Apocalypse. I don’t know when, but I have to. I’ll never go back in the summer because as much as I love Italy, I hate that friggin’ heat. I know all of the cool stuff happens in the summer but I also like to interact with the locals when the overall atmosphere is calm instead of experiencing death stares because I’m just another Californian pronouncing everything in Spanish instead of Italian. I totally get it. High season tourist overload. They, like the French, tend to be a little more forgiving off-season just as San Franciscans are with them when they visit in December instead of July. Interactions aside, I want to meander through the streets in Florence with a large scoop of gelati, and I want my honey to experience how special San Gimignano and Siena are. (There is also a torture museum in San Gimignano I haven’t seen yet which really piques my interest.)

Yes, the world is too big, too interesting, and too vast to experience in less than twelve months. With any luck, my ancestors were cracked out on some ancient peyote when they threw some numbers into the mix and created THE CALENDAR. Should that be the case, then we all have a little more time to experience those dream trips we all want to take. I believe that life is short anyway and we don’t know what is around the bend from one day to the next so in general, I think we have to participate in life when we can, and not put off the things we want to do. I don’t make resolutions but my overall goal for this year is to create those opportunities for myself, the best way I know how and live life to the fullest! I wish the same for all of you and hope you all get your wish list going!

Here’s to beating the Mayan Calendar!

P.S. Weren’t we supposed to expire at the millenium?

Happy Thanksgiving from the Wandering Woman!

This is the time of year that we all hopefully take a moment and reflect on what we are thankful for. It’s hard not to notice that people have really been challenged this past year and don’t feel that they have much to feel any gratitude for. And who can blame them? When you’re trying to get a job after not having one for a while or trying to hang on to your house, or maybe even lost everything this year, it’s nearly impossible to be hopeful much less thankful. I’ve had a challenging year myself but somehow have been able to tell myself that everything is temporary. Challenges are meant to teach us something though most of us have enough character without having to deal with the house falling on top of us. I guess if I’ve learned nothing else this year, I’ve been reminded that we have to be grateful for TODAY. That’s it. I haven’t been able to venture off this year the way I would have liked but instead I found my partner and learned to explore where we live, making me appreciate home instead of looking outward. That’s not to say that my wanderlust has been squelched or that I don’t dream of going to Africa every day of my life, but for finding him, I’m grateful.

Which leads me to our challenge. In the middle of our whirlwind tour of dining around San Francisco and planning all of the fabulous trips we’re going to take together, we were forced to only think about today. He was diagnosed with cancer in the fall, and though his prognosis is very good, we’ve had to answer to the challenge. I’ve watched him soldier on and go to work in spite of feeling sick from chemotherapy, while constantly concerned about how he is affecting me and making sure I’m not upset by all of this . (Impossible.)  The lesson I’ve learned from him is that if he can go through all of this and still pick himself up and live everyday, I have nothing to complain about. (Though it’s hard for a leopard to change it’s spots.)

So today,  I’m so incredibly grateful for his health and him having a good day. He’s able to do what he loves which is cook and make great food for those he loves. I’m also grateful that my friends and family who have been so supportive, are also healthy and relatively happy. Not everybody can be wildly happy all the time but I think everybody is pretty darn close to it. I’m also grateful that my Phoebe kitty is still playing like a kitten and am so grateful for the wonderful connections I’ve made through my little blog. Live for today, enjoy every minute, and tell your peeps that you love them. You might find that you have more in your life than you thought!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Movie Review- “The Thing”- What a dog.

Eh. That’s the only emotion I can evoke from the “The Thing”. Of course, I am not the only person to have said that about the film because those of us who experienced John Carpenter’s original masterpiece are spoiled by originality and man-made special effects. Remember those? I feel like I’m turning into a curmudgeon when it comes to remakes in general, but especially when it comes to horror film remakes. And by the way, the John Carpenter version was a remake. The original, original was released in 1951. I remember my dad telling me that he saw that film as a kid so when the 1982 version came out, it was an instant family tradition. Sick, huh? I don’t think he could have ever imagined that he was taking his twelve-year-old daughter to witness the spider-head.

Let’s start with the clear distinction between John Carpenter’s original and this Thing. John Carpenter’s was indeed, a horror film. It was disturbing, hopeless, terrifying, shocking, way the hell ahead of its time, and it still holds up.  If you want to be technical about it, it was a sci-fi horror film which gave Alien a run for its money. (Alien came out a few years prior but was the reigning shocker for this time period.) This prequel started out OK, then made the mistake that so many horror films make today. It turned into an action-adventure movie. I realize that we are now dealing with an audience that has a five second attention span so in an effort to expose a new audience to “the classics”, there is an ardent need to tweak an original story line and bring it into the future. I hate that! STOP IT! I’m finished with that. How about teaching this generation how to appreciate a well-told story with proper character build up so you at least give a rat’s ass about the people whose demise you are witnessing. The 1982 version started out a bit slow. It was an involved, intelligent story that required your attention, not to stay on track but to appreciate the elements, the surroundings, and the situation that these men were in.

For those who were never fortunate enough to experience the John Carpenter version starts with a helicopter chasing a beautiful husky, which sets the scene for dread from the get go. You wonder why they are chasing this beautiful creature only to find rather quickly that things are not as they appear. The American researches who join the scene, learn that the helicopter was the remaining Norwegian researches who were there before them, having succombed to a mutating alien they had discovered in the ice. That’s it.

So what did that Thing have that this Thing didn’t have? Well, I get that this current one is a sequel so the filmmakers are hoping that there won’t be any comparisons, only appreciation for both films separately. Sorry. The first had Kurt Russell, who was once an untouchable badass who could easily shame current day wannabe badasses. The other missing element is the patience the 1982 version had. It started out with a bang, but still maintained a pace that kept building without becoming a kitschy, action film. The action scenes were tension building, not adventurous. Big difference. The best part of the 2011 version for me? The ending credits. Not just because the film ended but because it salvaged it’s importance (if any) by tying in to the beginning of the 1982 version. Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. I’m just saying to stay for the credits if you do intend to see it. I didn’t hate this movie, I’m just guilty of trying to turn this into something that it’s not.

Countdown to Halloween! (Oh yeah, it’s scary movie review time.)

Jack-o-latern

Image via Wikipedia

Oooooohhhhhhhh! It’s my favorite time of year! I’m one of those crazy people that believes that Halloween is truly a holiday and one to be celebrated at that! I know it’s supposed to be for kids but having grown up loving horror films and dressing up, it’s an event worthy of becoming a national holiday. I’ve noticed that I have my own sick little tradition of watching at least one horror film every night in October, leading up to Halloween for the simple act of doing it. Because I can. Some people climb mountains because they are there, I watch horror films every night because they too, are simply just there. One must have goals in life (or in this case, ghouls) n’est pas?

I have  been pretty good this month but not perfect. Until this weekend. From here on out, every night baby, without fail. I won’t be satisfied until I am a paranoid mess by November 1. It’s tradition.

Let’s start with the most disgusting horror film I have seen in YEARS.  Human Centipede 2, Full Sequence. Now, let’s be clear about something. At somebody’s suggestion, I watched Human Centipede 1, First Sequence a few months ago and demanded to have my hour and fifteen minutes of my life back. It’s a film that quickly gained a cult following based on the shock value and originality of the subject matter.( If you don’t know what it’s about, use your imagination in the worst possible way based on the title until you cringe. You’ll come up with at least the gist of the story line.) It’s a disgusting plot. Plain and simple. But,true horror fans who roam the earth in our own zombie-like state ultimately appreciate originality where it is nearly impossible to find these days. So I was torn when I saw the first one because I kind of hated it but appreciated that nobody had done it yet. That made me invested enough to want to see where they were going to go with this story. It’s just pure, sick curiosity.

In short, the first film was about a German doctor who was a lunatic and sewed people together, creating a human centipede. (Gag. I mean it, gag. Even the actors in the film gagged.) Having said that, The sequel I have to say, on the heals of this premise, was genius. The sequel is about a fan of the original Human Centipede film who is not “quite right” to begin with and becomes obsessed with the film. Human Centipede Part Deux does a fantastic job of character building because they found a protagonist who is pitiful, causing the viewer to feel some sort of compassion and understanding for his lunacy. At least that was the intent. Believe me, the compassion goes away at some point due to the “ick” factor. Laurence R. Harvey who portrays the evil troll is going to have a difficult time shaking this image of him from the minds of movie goers the way Linda Blair did with The Exorcist. He’s creepy, nasty, slimy, crazy, odd-looking, and holds a regular job like the rest of us.That’s the part that works. The normal guy who goes cuckoo in regular society. It creates the this could happen to you, vibe. He does a great job of becoming seriously scary, and horrifying which will work for those who like the shock-value horror films. If that’s what you like, this delivers. My only spoiler is that now there are twelve people where the first had three, so imagine the “explosive” content of the film.

Movies like Hostel which I admit I enjoyed, tend to be on in the Eww Gross categories but I’m not kept awake by those films. They are fun to watch in the moment and then you go home and sleep just fine with the lights off and your sleeping mask on. In my opinion, if you don’t sleep with the lights on or at least pop one eye open wondering, what was that after you watched a horror film, then the film didn’t do it’s job.  I am old-school when it comes to my horror films.

In all fairness, everybody is affected by different forms of horror. For some it’s sharks, zombies, vampires, ghosts, etc. For me, it’s good old-fashioned demons and Lucifer. Yep, Luci does it every time for me.( I will post later about what films still scare me every time I see them but I still put myself through it!) Mr. Harvey and Tom Six (creator of the Human Centipede series) did a worthy job given the storyline but I admit, I slept like a baby. Maybe waking up once or twice only to shake my head thinking, man that was gross.