Monthly Archives: June 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

I really wanted to like this movie.  I mean: I really, really wanted to like this movie.  Janet and I were so excited we went to see this on opening weekend.  We never do that; as a matter of fact, we rarely go out at all and never past 9pm.

We left the theater disappointed but not entirely sure why.  The movie had so much potential and it just never lived up to it.  Janet and I talked about this movie for weeks, maybe we built it up too high and it couldn’t possibly live up to our middle aged hysterical hype.  Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t seen this movie, and you plan to, please stop reading.

I want to talk about the characters first before the general plot.

Kristen Stewart:  I really want to like her, but I don’t.  Every time I watch her in a movie all I see is a kid who looks incredibly bored and is only acting in these silly movies because they throw a lot of money at her.  I don’t want to watch that.  I find it hard to believe Kristen Stewart’s character could entice a group of mostly men to fight and die for her.  I just didn’t feel it.

It looks like someone plucked her out of Forks and flung her into this weird mythical land because as Snow White she walks around with a look that says, “where the hell am I and why am I here?”  And, seriously, if the girls back then wore pants under those skirts, why didn’t they all tear them off?

Charlize Theron:  When I first saw Charlize in her Dior commercial I’m pretty sure I had a mini stroke.  I know I lost some brain cells.  Needless to say, I will watch anything Ms. Theron is in, she is radiant.  But even her turn as the evil Queen Ravenna left me lacking interest and utterly disappointed in the ending.

She was evil in Snow White but she wasn’t Deliciously Evil, know what I mean?  She spent way too long as a 200 year old woman.  Her vanity was a necessary part of the story, she has to ask about being the fairest, right?  But her utter psychosis about it was troubling.  And she screeches way more than anyone, man or woman, should.

Chris Hemsworth: He’s very funny as Thor, what a brute.  I thought he was a little old for Kristen’s character, is she even legal?  Every time Snow White wandered near the Huntsman, I swear I could see her shudder.  I’m not sure if he smelled, but he looked like he smelled.  Although, when Snow escaped from the castle, she didn’t look like she smelled too good, either.

Plot:   There are just a few plot points I’d like to work through.  Like, why didn’t Ravenna kill Snow right in the beginning?  That would be a boring movie, true, but to ruthlessly kill the King and then throw Snow in a cell and keep feeding her?  It would have been better if Snow had escaped as a child and spent her formative years in the woods until the mirror ratted her out to the Queen.  Then Ravenna could have sent the Huntsman out to get her.

Snow escapes from her cell a little too easily, in my opinion, but she has to escape so she can come back and take over the throne, I get it.  I’m thinking the Queen’s brother let her go because he was distracted by his haircut (who told him he looked good like that?  He should have borrowed his sister’s mirror.).

I wasn’t sure if Snow was interested in the Huntsman, or William, or that girl from the Joan Jett movie.  When William kissed her and it didn’t wake her up I thought, “wait, is the Huntsman going to kiss her?  I hope he shaves first, that will leave a face burn.”

The movie starts out dark and cold, not my favorite states, but moves into this weird fairy tale land where Bambi lives (nice rack!), flutterbys rule and plants are cotton candy.  Then it goes back to cold and dark, which to me is a little jarring.

The troll I didn’t get.  He attacks the Huntsman, knocks him out and roars his terrible roar at Snow.  Did he walk away because she was the one and only Snow White?  Or does he only like living things and didn’t discern a pulse from Kristen?  Wait!  Sometimes I like things explained to me!  The 8 dwarves…look out behind you, number 8!…I mean, 7 dwarves were funny little creatures and some of them looked vaguely familiar.

And can I just say the scene where Ravenna walks into a giant vat of milk…ewwww.

But what bugged me the most was the ending.  The Huntsman explained to Snow, earlier in the film, the importance of pushing the knife in to your opponent’s heart, keeping it there, and watching the life drain out of them.  I thought, aha!, that’s how Snow will kill the Queen, but she doesn’t!

Snow does stab Ravenna, but Ravenna pulls out the knife, crawls into a corner and dies.  No shouting, no fireworks, no evil spirits leaving her body, nothing but a little cowering in the corner.   I wanted Ravenna to fight back and make Snow work for the crown.  I was so disappointed.

I have the amazing ability to lose myself in a movie, completely lose myself, so plot and serious acting really doesn’t matter all that much, especially if there are pretty pictures floating by.  Some might say this is due to my lack of brain cells, but I’m pretty sure I just don’t like to think much.  So, when a movie seems illogical, hard to follow, or Charlize looks like a little old lady who yells a lot, I get a little disappointed.  This movie could have been great but wasn’t; I could have put the money spent at the theater in our savings account (be quiet, Budge!), but I didn’t.


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Why Am I So Hungry?

Jessie and I just got back from wandering along Tumalo Creek in Shevlin Park on the west side of Bend in beautiful, sunny Oregon.  I’m so glad we came to Bend but I can’t see us moving somewhere just for the summer again.  Moving is not one of my favorite things although you wouldn’t know that by how many times I’ve moved since that first one from my childhood home.

If we change our approach, maybe it would be easier, but to move half of our stuff for only three months is a lot of work, so I’ve learned.  If we ever do this again, we’ll rent a furnished place and only bring some of our clothes and a few important things like Safari my stuffed, big eyed giraffe.

So, besides stomping around in the wilderness, what have we been doing?  Why eating of course.  There’s a great burger place in downtown Bend cleverly called Bend Burger Company which makes a very tasty burger, tater tots (a personal favorite of Janet’s) and delicious looking shakes.

On the northern side of town is a little pizza joint called Little Pizza Paradise located in the Cascade Village Shopping Center, in case you are ever in Bend and dying for a pizza.  I just loved everything about the pizza: the sauce was good, toppings were perfect and it was just the right thickness.  I like thin crust but it has to be pizza crust not crackers like I’ve had before and never liked.

I must say, Janet and my favorite restaurant and bakery isn’t even in Bend but in the neighboring town of Sisters, Oregon.  We’d heard good things about the stuffed jalapenos at Los Agaves, right after we moved in and raced over to try them.  We ordered the jalapenos and flautas and waters.  The jalapenos were so hot we couldn’t even breathe properly while eating them.  The water only made it worse.

Janet swore she sustained permanent tongue damage, never having tasted anything that hot before.  Fully a month later, I can still hear Janet muttering, “damn!  Those were hot!”  I think she’s gotten over the pain, but the memories will linger for a very long time.  I can see us on the porch, rocking in our old lady rockers and Janet will lean towards me and ask, “Do you remember those jalapenos?”  Which, of course, my reply will be, “Who are you?”

The flautas were so delicious we talked about going back and not ordering the jalapenos.  Jessie and I went today and I ordered the fish tacos which were even better than the flautas.  I don’t like to judge anybody or anything…oh, wait, that’s Janet, I do like to judge.  When I go to a restaurant, I judge them on the little things.  I judge Mexican restaurants on their salsa, rice and beans.  Why?  Because if the sides are good it tells me they care about their food.  Anyone can make good cheese enchiladas but I’ve tried some terrible rice and beans in my days.

Los Agaves makes a delicious salsa, Spanish rice, and black beans.  The salsa was spicy and not-chunky, just like I like it; the rice was fluffy and fresh; even the black beans had been seasoned enough to stand out on their own.  Moving on to the actual food: the fish tacos at Los Agaves are dangerously close to becoming my favorite taco; knocking off my current favorite at Taco Del Mar.

Not only do I have a budding relationship with Los Agaves, but right next door is Sister’s Bakery; another great reason to visit Sisters.  They have these delicious, fluffy, huge buttermilk sticks that just make me smile.  I don’t even want to know the calorie count, I will only eat one after a hike in the woods.  I can’t tell you much about anything else they bake because I can’t get past the buttermilk stick.  I seem to be hungry again.

Book 1 Update:  Book 1 done!  Devan’s Story: Blue Hydrangeas by JJ Wallingford on Amazon as an ebook.  I’m working on getting it out to the Nook and the Apple bookstore, but it seems to be taking me a while.

Book 2 Update:  Since I’ve sold almost 20 books on the first one, I decided to start book 2.  I’m about 10k words in right now and I really like the way the first draft is going.  Of course, I could be biased…let’s go ask Janet!

Facebook:  I’ve started a Facebook page for JJ Wallingford.  Send me a friend request and I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the book and life in general.


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The Three Movies That Changed the Way I View the World

I was talking with a friend the other day and the subject of things (movies, books, people, etc.) that have helped define us came up.  I usually paddle around in the shallow end but sometimes, every once in a while, I like to take a dive into the deep end of my pool.  I thought about it and came up with these three movies.  I’m sure there’s more, I’ll probably think of 2 or 3 as soon as I hit the publish button, but for now I’m sharing these three.  SPOILER ALERT:  I talk about these movies, so if you want to see them and haven’t yet, don’t read!

Star Wars:  Don’t laugh you cynical young people, I was 8 when this came out and it changed my perception of the universe.  I’m too young for the moon landing and when I sat in that theater and saw the big space ship go by…well, the look on my face was probably a classic.  I don’t think I moved the entire movie, I was so overwhelmed with feelings I wasn’t sure I liked.

At first the movie scared me, took me out of my comfortable little world (which I still live in), and introduced me to worlds I wasn’t sure were real or not.  I was only 8.  Having walking, talking, rolling robots was one thing, but the scene in the bar, with all the different creatures, talk about a little kid mind blowing experience.  By the end I despised Darth Vader and jumped up and down with the rest of the crowd when the Death Star blew up.

I wasn’t scared enough to stay away though and I’m not sure scared is the right term.  Maybe Star Wars made me peek outside my comfort zone and it made me very uncomfortable.  Not so uncomfortable I didn’t go back 9 more times to see it in the theater.  And by my second viewing the crowds came out in droves.  I remember Mom dropping me and my older brother, Eric, off around the block so we could stand in line to see a movie we’d already seen several times.  You have to hand it to Mom’s, they make life worth living.

I did go and see the other two movies, when they came out, but they didn’t have the same impact.  It was a “been there, done that” experience.  I enjoyed the second and third installments (or #5 & 6 depending on how serious a person you are) but I was older and my mind had already been blown.

Aliens: When the first Alien came out, I was too young to go see it.  As a matter of fact, my Mom insisted I wait until I was 17 to see R rated movies.  Yeah, that lasted until my Grammy got a new thing called HBO!  She didn’t care quite as much about damaging the psyche of impressionable youths.  I spent a lot of time with my Grammy.

So, I never saw Alien until years later; but when Aliens came out, I grabbed my BFF and we went to see it one night.  I want you to realize what a big deal this was for me: I was scared of my own shadow.  I had lived a relatively sheltered life and only saw puppies and rainbows.  I still don’t like to watch scary movies, but I went because I knew my friends would all see it and I wanted to be able to talk about it.  I swear I’m tough.

This movie came out in 1986, so I was nearing the end of my teens, but the effect it had on my worldview was startling.  I grew up watching women being either victims or sex objects.  I had never really seen an intelligent, deceptively brave woman capable of leading a group of marines to safety.  I’m sure there were some out there, they just all seemed to be in the R rated movies I wasn’t allowed to see.  At least I hope they were.

I loved the fact that Ripley didn’t want to go back out there…who in their right mind would?  She knew exactly what she was up against and didn’t want to do that, no way, Jose.  But she went anyway, putting her fear, not only aside, but putting it in a glass jar and facing it down so she could get through just one more night.

When Ripley took matters into her own hands, to get the surviving Marines out, I got very excited.  Look!  I see a strong woman who smashed through walls so she can rescue people she doesn’t even know.  For the first time, this may sound silly, but I realized I too can do or be whatever I wanted to be.  I don’t have to be the woman who runs screaming through the woods, only to trip and be devoured by the monster.  I could be the woman who saves the day.  It’s never come up, but if it does, I’ll be ready.  Unless it’s dark, then forget it.

This movie was also the first time I realized how much can be said without saying anything at all.  The scene, towards the end, where Ripley carries Newt into the room with the Mother Alien; nothing was said, yet that scene, with just looks and head movement, moved me almost as much as when Ripley yelled, “get away from her, you b!$ch!”  Which, if you’re keeping score, is only the second time in my life I have cheered during a movie; I have clapped several times after a movie but only cheered during Star Wars and Aliens.

I carried around the character of Ripley in my heart for many years.  If I was clever, which I’m mostly not, but if I were I might have created the slogan: What Would Ripley Do?, instead of the Jesus followers.  I still admire the character of Ripley: strong, stable, not a screamer, intelligent, realistic, and will kill an acid blooded alien without batting an eye.

American Beauty:  This came out in 1999 and I don’t believe I watched it in the theater.  I’m pretty sure I rented this one at a quaint little place called Blockbuster back in the day.  I’m also pretty sure I didn’t like it the first time I saw it.  Hey, Kevin Spacey’s dead already and we’re not even 10 minutes into the film!  I don’t like knowing the end at the beginning.  And somebody grab that trash floating about and throw it in the garbage can!

But there was something about the movie that made me think about it for several months before I rented it again.  The second time I watched it I saw much more than I remembered seeing the first time.  Nothing was as it seemed; which thrilled me to no end.  Everything was based on people’s perceptions and what they wanted you to see.

Chris Cooper, one of my favorite actors, plays the weird boy’s dad who surrounds and cloaks himself with his Nazi memorabilia, homophobia, tough guy act when he really just wants to get a little Kevin Spacey action.  This movie made me realize how important it is to be true to yourself.  American Beauty showed me how one man was not true to himself, went out of his way to be an over the top homophobe, and destroyed every life he touched.  Just because he was afraid of himself.



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Craig the Terrible

I’ve read a lot about finances over the past few years.  I’m still poor but now I have a better understanding about why I have no money.  If I had a real job (and a paycheck) that would help a lot with my finances…but that’s another story.  There’s a lot of good information floating around out there but, for me, the two pieces of advice that really hit home are as follows: balance your financial “now” life with your “retirement” life and find the things you feel are important enough to spend your hard earned money on.

As a devout Libra, when I read the story about balancing your financial life, I was all over it.  Basically, if you deny yourself little pleasures now, so you can retire six months early, does that make living worthwhile?  Would your quality of life suck if you lived like a miser so you could retire at 65 to have the life you always wanted?  What if you lived like a miser, retire at 65 with a chunk of change, and then died at 66?  That would be terrible for you; good for your benefactors.  On the other hand, if you buy everything you want before you retire, thumb your nose at saving money and are forced to choose between medication and cat food in retirement, does that sound like fun?  I personally choose to spend with abandon now and buy lottery tickets for my retirement.

Another important tenet in my life: not spending frivolously, but buying things I really care about.  Before we started on the cursed budget, Janet and I wondered where all her money went.  I’m pretty sure it goes to 5 hour energy, hot chocolate, and candy but Janet swore it had to be more than that.  So, now that we’re on a budget, we see exactly where it all goes and it’s shocking.  It goes everywhere.  We needed to cut back on certain things so we could spend more in areas that were important to us.  We decided to cut back on clothes, veggies, preventative healthcare, and cleaning supplies so we could concentrate on spending money on gifts, travel, dining out, and Snapple.  We now look like hobos but we can do it in several different cities a year.

One thing we didn’t want to cut was our personal training.  Yes, it’s a little expensive, but worth every penny, in my opinion.  Janet met a personal trainer, many years ago, named Craig Thurman.  Craig is a great guy except for the fact he won’t let us get out of working out no matter how much we beg/plead/cry/play dead.  I’ve been working out, on and off, since I took an aerobics/weight lifting class in high school back in…well, it doesn’t matter when, just know it’s been a while, and I didn’t really think I needed a personal trainer.

I was wrong, yes, you heard that right, Janet, I was wrong.  Craig pushes me just beyond my comfort zone, to a place I need to visit more often, and showed me just what I am capable of.  In the year I have joined Janet in her workouts with Craig, I’ve learned so much more than I had hoped for.  He’s incredibly intuitive, helpful, and knowledgeable about the human body.  He comes to our workouts with a general idea of what he wants us to work on, finds out if we have any injuries, and adjusts to maximize our workouts.  I really enjoy the way his workouts make me feel…after they are over and the soreness is gone.

When we decided to move to Bend, and ultimately Seattle, we were upset at the thought of leaving Craig.  But Craig had an idea: he’d send us a weekly upper- and lower-body workout so he could torture us from afar!  So now he sends us a spreadsheet once a week and we send him updates on our progress.  Of course, that is the theory, we are a little behind in our workouts due to illness and our nonstop need to drive long distances in our vehicles.   It’s cheaper now that Craig can torture us from his couch, so Budge is happy.  Our bodies are happy because we are still moving when we really just want to sit on the couch.  And, most importantly, we still get tortured by Craig, or as Janet likes to call him: Craig El Terrible.

So, if you feel the need to get into better shape, from afar, Craig’s your guy.  I’m sure Craig would love to torture you too.

Book Update:  I did it!  I finished the book.  It’s on Amazon as we read.  Devan’s Story: Blue Hydrangeas by JJ Wallingford.  You don’t need a kindle to order one, you can download it on your laptop or desktop, or to the cloud…wherever that is.  It should be in the Apple store soon.  Ditto for the Nook.  The book is all of $2.99 and if your budget won’t allow it I strongly suggest you cut back on vegetables and cleaning supplies.


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