dixon_green: (Festival)
Well, I blew it again.  I did start on the animation list a couple of weeks ago, but there were 27 (!) eligible films, and that is a LOT to research, even if just superficially.

I did start, though.  I'd already selected my guesses for nomination: Zootopia, The Little Prince, Moana, Finding Dory, and Kubo and the Two Strings.  Here are the films nominated this morning:

  • Kubo and the Two Strings

  • Moana

  • My Life as a Zucchini

  • The Red Turtle

  • Zootopia

Three out of five.  Little surprised Pixar's Finding Dory was not included, because, Pixar.  For as good as it was, this was not one of Pixar's best efforts.  The story thundered down its path like a train on rails because it had to, not because it needed to.  Very little organic growth, not nearly the tight degree of writing I expect from Pixar.  Still, there was that absolutely lovely moment when Dory is completely alone in the ocean, completely panicked, and she remembers her parents' advice and grounds herself, calms herself, and finds her way.  Also somewhat surprised The Little Prince didn't pick up a nom.  Haven't seen it, but it has a pedigreed literary component, not insignificant box office, and is just the sort of arty film that attracts nominations.

I haven't seen My Life as a Zuchinni, but I was picking up positive buzz about it during my initial research run.  It might have taken the Little Prince's spot for the same arty reasons.  But I don't think it will win.   I know NOTHING about the Red Turtle.

I skipped Kubo and the Two Strings.  I really did not need to see another coming of age magical hero quest with a boy-child protagonist with a snotty attitude.  It looks pretty as all get out, and Laika is a bit of a outsider darling, but I just could not make myself care.  If I want magical hero quest coming of age, I've got Steven Universe to fill that void.

I did see Moana and I did see Zootopia.  Ans this is where it gets complicated.  I think Moana is going to win the Oscar.  It is a gorgeous film with fabulous music and songs.  It's recent and it is easy movie to vote for.  The story was well done, but there was something about Moana herself that bugged me.  If this film had been a rom-com, she would have been the perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl.  Honestly, her only flaws were a bit of cute clumsiness and a touch of wanderlust.  Both parents, who loved her completly, a role she was being groomed for and was well suited to, she lives in an honest-to-god paradise!   Ahem.   I could go on and on about some of the structural issues I had with the story.  And why didn't she get her a tattoo at the end of her adventure, too?  But. Zootopia was a better story with better characters.  Still had flaws, but overall, it was better.  And, it has picked up the Golden Globe for best animated film.

On the downside, both of these are Disney flicks, and that could split the vote, which could let Kubo through for the win.

Moana also picked up a best song nomination for How Far I'll Go.  It's a good song, but ultimately it is extremely conventional.  "Shiny" is better.  It's a villian song, and on the surface is very bright and poppy.  But the way it shifts between major and minor, and the underlying rhythms are deeply unbalanced, oh, musically, it is marvelous.
dixon_green: (Festival)
This morning saw the 2015 Oscar nominees announced.  I was completely unprepared, and I hadn't even collected the list of animated films for the year, let alone analyze any of them.

However, this year, why bother?  There is no question, none at all, which movie is going to win.

Inside Out.

Pixar outclassed everyone else (including itself) in 2015 with this fim.  The only real suprise is that Inside Out didn't also pick up a Best Picture nomination.  Not that it was going to win there, but still.

Anywho, here is the list of nominee, in case you were wondering:

Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

I mean, look at this list. One indie, barely released in time to qualify (hoping for Oscar buzz in increase interest and viewship when it moves to wide release), three non-US films, and Pixar's Inside Out.  Do you really think Dreamworks and Disney and a couple of the other studios could have failed to get their films nominated if they had decided to get out and push?  The Peanuts Movie, for the nostalgia value alone, or Minions: The Movie, just because.  Heck, I wonder if Dreamworks pushed back the production schedule of Kung Fu Panda 3 so that it wouldn't be released the same year as Inside Out.  February is an odd time for marquee titles to be released, and I would have thought KFP3 would have been an ideal movie for a Christmas release (aside from the whole competing against Star Wars: The Force Awakens).  The winner is usually pretty clear, but they like to pretend.  And this year, there is no pretending.

Inside Out.
dixon_green: (Festival)
Well, the Golden Globes were last night, and the Oscar nominations are revealed on Thursday. If I'm going to do this annual review of animated movies, I best get it done.

2014 was a mixed bag. There were some movies I was really looking forward to. There were other films that came as delightful surprises. There were others I had hope for, but they only met expectations of mediocrity.  With that in mind, and SPOILERS ahead, let me pass judgement:

In alphabetical order... )

So, there were some clear standouts this year: How to Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6, The Lego Movie, and The Book of Life. All four of these grabbed Golden Globe nominations, and I see so reason why they shouldn't also pick up Oscar nomination. The fifth spot might go to Boxtrolls (it did pick up a Golden Globe nomination), but one of the non-US films might snag a nomination: Cheatin' or The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Maybe Song of the Sea if it is eligible for 2014. But really, the real competition is between How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6.
dixon_green: (Festival)
I wrote most of this before Christmas, then forgot to update it and publish it before this morning. So, behind the cut:

Read more... )

There are enough films for a slate of five nominees. Monster's University and Frozen are locks for nomination. The Wind Rises has a solid shot at a nomination because Miazaki, and a decent shot at winning because Mizaki's last movie.

And this is where I had stopped writing. From this mornings announcement, the nominees are: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, The Wind Rises, and Frozen. I though Monsters University was far better than the Croods, but maybe someone was trying to keep it from being too heavy a Disney slate, and I'm not surprised by Despicable Me 2 took a nominations. Ernest & Celestine is also the artsy film the Academy loves, but won't win. Frozen is going take the win in a walk.
dixon_green: (Festival)
Early early early Friday morning, two lines of thunderstorms rolled though the Metro.  Both of them woke me up, but as I am getting to be a lighter and fussier sleeper these days, that is hardly a surprise.  The storms were noisy, and I really wasn't surprised that one of the storms knocked out the power.  Don't know which one, and I really didn't care.  I just got myself off to work, and I figured Xcel Energy would take care of things, and I would have power back no later than Saturday.

Then the storms blew through Friday evening.

Storm consequences  )
dixon_green: (Festival)
I got a smartphone a bit over a year ago.  It has an e-reader on it, and I like it lots.  However, it is small, and the battery life sucks.  While I have been mostly happy with it, I think I will be swapping phones once Verizon offers an upgrade.

My desktop computer is old, and it is noisy,   I rarely turn it on these days.

My laptop is a hand-me-down from my brother, and it, too, is old.  I struggle with it a lot, as it is not responsive, but at least is it quiet.

I think what I really want is a tablet of some sort.  I spec'ed out a Nexus 7 recently.  It has more RAM than my laptop.  I recently got a substantial raise at work, and my birthday is two months out, so a new toy is not out of the question.  There is more money in each paycheck, even after I increased all of my savings streams.

I realized recently that all of my bras are over a year old, and one clearly needs replacing.  I wandered over to Nordstrom's Rack after my workout at the gym to see if they had my favorite style in stock.  Four bras later, I wander out to walk the rest of the Mall - it was a hard workout at the gym, and I needed to move.

There is now a Best Buy at the MoA.  I wandered in to look at the various tablets.  They didn't have any of the Google tablets, but they had lots of others.

Boy, the 7 inch tablet is small.  I like the 10 inch.  The 9 inch is pretty good, too.  One consideration:  I'd like to try digital drawing/sketching.  The 7 inch table just does not allow for much gesture in the drawing motion.  But then I'm looking at prices around $500, which is not toy range.  I'm pretty sure I'd want to add a keyboard, at least for at home.  Light laptops start at about $600.  Some even do touch screen.  Intuos peripherals of the quality I want start about $300.

So, do I upgrade to a laptop, complete with keyboard , or try a tablet? Which brand? I thought a Nexus 7 would be appropriate, but if I already think it is too small....
dixon_green: (Festival)
Let's see how I did:

Brave (duh!)
Wreck-it Ralph (yay!)
Frankenweenie (on my alternate list, but not a surprise)
ParaNormal (yup)
Pirates!  Band of Misfits (...the hell?)

Two computer animated, three stop motion.  None were nominated for Best Picture, so no clear winner to be divined from that.  Three from Disney productions, one overseas, and an indie studio in the Pacific Northwest;  Dreamworks was shut out this year, much like Disney was last year.  Still, I'm rather flummoxed that Pirates! got a nomination, as it was NOT a particularly good movie.  Then again, my tastes run far away from slapstick and sit-com awkwardness these days.  I like me my character driven action adventure stories.

So, again, Brave is the PIXAR  easy choice.  Frankenweenie might get it because the Academy at large wants to give Tim Burton an Oscar.  I still want to see Wreck-it Ralph win it.
dixon_green: (Festival)

It's time for the 2012 Animated Film Oscar evaluation.  This year, twenty-one films are eligible to be nominated for one of five slots available.  I've seen four of them. All in all, 2012 was a much stronger year for animated films than 2011.  So, let's break it down. 

In alphabetical order: )

This is so much more fun than last year.  The studios brought their A game, and did so repeatedly.
dixon_green: (Default)
Velvet likes to stick her head into containers - bags, baskets, boxes, whatever.  Why?  She's a cat.

Last night I was burrowed under the blankets and reading bed, and I heard her exploring in the other room.  Normal bedtime stuff.  Then, an explosion of paper rattling, and 15 pounds of flying frantic fur flailing comes thundering across my bed (oh, I'm so glad I had just put on the thick winter blankets).  I barely have time to flinch before the sounds flee to the basement, thrash around for a bit, then stop.

Apparently, Velvet had stuck her head into a gift bag, through the handle, a handle small enough to make it one way only for little kitty heads. The bag had contained stringed instrument stuff from Claire Givens.  I found cello strings and bits of bag scattered like breadcrumbs along the path Velvet took when trying to escape the evil gift bag that was chasing her with such noise.  She didn't come when I called for her, or when I shook her treats container.  I eventually found her in a far corner of the basement, trying to be as small a meatloaf as she could manage.  The remains of the offending bag were in tatters on the other side of the basement.

Velvet has never liked being carried, and only tolerates being picked up.  I'm not about to do either to her in her freaked out state.  So I rub her head and scritch her ears and make silly calming noises.  When I try longer strokes down her spine, I get the politest little hiss I've ever gotten:  "thank you for your concern, but I'm really quite upset at the moment, so could you please not do that."   I went back to bed.

I woke up at five, and she wasn't on the bed.  This is unusual, so I got up to check on her.  She had left the basement, and was on the couch.   I wasn't going to get much sleep before the alarm went off one way or the other, and Velvet LOVES to sleep on top of me on the sofa.  She hopped up onto the back of the sofa, let me get settled, then sprawled herself over me - she can reach hip to toes with only the tiniest bit of stretch.  I was glad I was able to do something comforting and special for her after her (self-inflicted) epic scare.
dixon_green: (Default)
An acquaintance of mine from Fest, a diligent playtron and stunning cross-dresser, was diagnosed with cancer two weeks prior to the end of Fest.  It's a lung cancer of the lymphoma variety and at stage four (he also had pneumonia, but given the cancer, almost secondary).  The doctors found it had already spread to other organs, his bones, and his brain.  Still, he was hopeful that aggressive treatment would yield positive results, like another season for the Lady of Levitation and Lord of Libation at Fest.

It was announced today on Facebook that he is "calling it."  A little digging on his boyfriend's FB wall told me that he is probably not going to make it to Thanksgiving, but that they have found a good cocktail of drugs for him, to keep him comfortable.

This makes me sad.  I don't know him very well, and our social circles didn't overlap that much.  But he always was glad to see me at Fest or elsewhere, and I him, and I always treasured his compliments, 'cause he *knew* exactly what went into making and detailing my costumes.  And in wearing them.  I did mention he was a stunning cross dresser?  Try professional.  His Lady of Levitation dresses are amazing, and he did that for his own entertainment, not a modeling gig.

Puppy Love

Sep. 25th, 2012 08:33 pm
dixon_green: (Default)
This morning, on my way to the bus, I was approached by an unleashed dog.  Some sort of bulldog mix, probably about 50 pounds.  Collar, no tags.

This was not going to be a passing experience.  This dog made a beeline for me once she spotted me.  Me, I stopped in my tracks and became very non-threatening, but not passive.  She came up, gave me a good sniff, and then


She wanted pettings.  She wanted ear scritches.  She wanted hugs and laps and love, and to give me kisses. When she got too excited, I told her to sit, and she did.  Well fed (but not fat), well loved, and well trained.  But no collar.

I still needed to get to the bus stop.  After giving her some hugs and pettings and ear scritches, I continued on my way.  She response was "Walkies!" and she followed me for a couple of blocks.  We must have passed her home, 'cause she headed to a front door, and I lost site of her.

It was a nice way to start the morning.  I just wish I could have truly gotten her home.
dixon_green: (Default)
Memory is a tricky and stubbon thing.  I've had many compliments about my lovely new dress this year from crafters who see me every year.  This is the same dress I've been wearing for six years, and will be demoting to rain dress for next year (to be worn only on rainy days).

I'm in much better shape this Monday than I was last week.  My fingertips are still tender, but the callouses are thickening.  My hips don't hurt, and my feet aren't quite as swollen.

I did reach a decision about new boots.  What with the plantar fascitis and the neuroma, I need footware that fits and can take insoles.  The Sons of Sandlar boots are great for accepting the insoles, so I'm not getting the plantar fascitis flares.  But last week, and on Saturday, my feet hurt at the end of the day, so much so that I could not bear the thought of wearing them on Sunday if I had a choice.  I hauled out the Catskills, which I had retired yast year because the don't take orthotic insoles.  By the end of the day, I could feel the plantar fascitis starting to grumble, but my feet didn't hurt.  So, I will suck up the cost of new Catskills, and I will get fitted for a new pair, and I will make sure to bring the insoles I used daily.  Tips better be good this year!
dixon_green: (Default)
Fest today was lovely, except for one thing: My violin had a critial failure right about noon. 

The bridge, which had been warping towards the fingerboard, collapsed and flew off the violin with a resounding crack.  I found it in my basket, and I tried to keep the violin level, but the sound post still fell, and that was that.

Now, there are a lot of minor repairs I can affect, but resetting a sound post is not one of them.  I take my instruements to Claire Givens for repairs, and they are not open on Sundays or Mondays.  If I wanted to have a chance at getting this back before next weekend, I needed to get it in today.

So I did.  I changed out of my Fest costume and drove into downtown Minneapolis, with a plan of dropping it off and going home to pick up the old violin before heading back to Fest.  Claire Givens gave me pleasant surprise:  it would only take them half an hour to fix it, right then and there.  I was back at Fest by 3:30, and in costume and back on the street by 4. 

I havne't counted out my hat pass yet, but there is no way I surpassed last year's opening day, not when I missed so much of the day.  It's also going to affect how I get to play overall this year, as I missed out on the mid-day "land grab."  Also, I'm not gridded at all.  I'm hoping I will get one or two grid spots next week, just to anchor my schedule. but I am quite alright with finding my own corners and time to play. 
dixon_green: (Default)
And Fest starts tomorrow.  Am I ready?  Kinda sorta maybe.

I got the new sleeves completely done, but I'm still beading the forepanel.  I do have all the dress bits and pieces cleaned, assembled, and ready to go.  The toy violin has fresh batteries, and I have over 200 tokens in the toy chest. The boots have new insoles, ones made for helping with plantar fascitis (although they don't really help with the neuroma).  Fresh sunscreen and makeup are ready to go, and I have plan for food.

But musically, not nearly so much.  I haven't practiced in almost a week, and I have sheet music scattered all over the place as I decide and assemble my "fake book".  I do have fresh strings on the instrument, and spares tucked away.  D is sound engineering a CD for me, but I have maybe three tunes ready to go.  Hearing the recordings was a very humbling experience.  Still, we might have something ready to go by Labor Day, or the end of Fest.

Now, I need to go to bed, as tomorrow morning is going to come way to early.

New Car

Jul. 28th, 2012 10:49 pm
dixon_green: (Default)
This morning, I bought the Nissa Versa HB I test drove last week.  White, automatic transmission, less than 10K miles on it, prior owner lived in California (thank you CarFax).  It's still under factory warranty for another year, and I added an extended warranty.  I got a very good rate on the loan  - of the three loans I have, mortgage, student, and auto, the mortgage is the one with the highest rate.  I'm changing insurance companies, 'cause the rate my current agent quoted was nonsense.  I got a much better policy for LESS than my current policy on the Saturn (which is whole 'nother story of my agent not doing his job right)

Oh, yeah.  I paid off my credit card on Friday.
dixon_green: (Default)
My work reward trip to California ended up corresponding to a visit from Mom.  She came out for her 50 year college reunion, and took advantage of it to see a lot of her friends who still live in the area.  Since I didn't need my car, I let her use it to get around Minnesota.

My family never buys new cars.  Once we do get a car, we keep it until it can no longer be driven or should be driven.  My car is a '98 Saturn SL.  I bought it in 2001.  I crossed 140,000 miles two weeks ago.  It is slowly rusting out around me.  The suspension is shot.  I'm not entirely sure about the exhaust system.  The transmission has always been rough going into reverse.   The transmission overheats in stop and go traffic and warm weather, and when it does, it won't get out of first gear until it cools down and the computer resets.  The engine is not powerful with lackluster acceleration, and cabin noise has gotten rather loud.  But, it still starts, and it get about 30 MPG most of the time, annual taxes as as low as state charges, and I own it outright.

When Mom returned the car to me, she told me it was time and past time to get a newer vehicle.

So, I started my research.  I know I want a newer car (2010, 2009 at the oldest).  I want a hatchback, not a sedan or a wagon.  And, I have to keep it within a specific cost range (I know what I want to afford, I know what I can afford, and I know what I can make work if I have to).  There area lot of choices, but the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa HB, Hyundai Touring, VW Golf, Mazda 3, Pontiac Vibe kept popping up.   The Vibe went to bottom of my list because it is a discontinued line.  The VW and the Mazda are at the high end of my price range for the age range I'm looking at.  And, I just needed to cut the list down to a manageable amount for test drives.

Last week was WW.  I chose not to go.  There were a lot of reasons, but the fact that my car really is getting to the end of it life played part of it.  I took some of that non-WW time to test drive vehicles.

The Fit has enormous amounts of stowage capacity, and the site lines are great.  MPG is fantastic, better than my Saturn. It's quite comfortable, I sit much higher to the road, and the drive is fine, but I can already tell that the engine just doesn't have a lot of power - it is the smallest and least powerful of the lot per the specs, and I was driving the Sport trim.  It also feels...small.  Just not that much car around me.   Also, the demand for Fit's is high enough that getting it new is almost the same cost as a used  vehicle.

The Elantra Touring is bigger and more powerful, but the MPG is also less than my Saturn.  It wasn't as comfortable the Fit (although still quite comfortable), but I like the feel of more car around me.

Today I drove the Nissan Versa, a 2011 SL with CVT.  It is bigger than the Fit, but smaller than the Touring.  It doesn't have the total stowage space of the Fit, but, I can get my cello across the back seat, which I can't in the Fit.  It still has loads of stowage space, including some "high" storage in the back seat.  I liked driving it - responsive, and more power than the Fit.  D also came along, mostly to check out the passenger spaces (he's a tall boy with long legs).  It passed every configuration.  The price point is exactly where I want it to be.

At this time,the Versa HB is the car I want.  In all likelihood, I will buy one next weekend.  I will have to finance it, but I should be able to pay TTL in cash and a nice little bit of a down payment (thanks to a bit of savings and a generous birthday gift from my parents).  I just check my credit rating and it is beautiful, so I should be able to get a really good rate. I have no idea what my Saturn might get as a trade in, but it's not going to be much.

I'd really rather not deal with this now, but I really do need to replace my car.  And I'd rather deal with it now than during the run at Festival (contract arrived last week!).
dixon_green: (Default)
I really wanted to get a couple hours of yardwork done today.  I knew it was going to be a scorcher, so I got up early.  Still, it was a lost cause by 9 AM - 92 in my back yard and climbing.  A quick shower while my coffee brewed, and then I decided I'd better do some laundry.  It's also cooler and drier in the basement.  Out of reflex, I did a visual check of the floor for water while I loaded up the washer.  I wasn't expecting anything, as there hasn't been significant rain in over a week.

So, imagine my surprise when I spotted a puddle in the middle of the floor, unconnected to any streams coming from the walls.  Maybe it was the remains from the Tuesday AM thunderstorm?  Nope.  There is water dripping oh so slowly from the pipes that lead to my bathroom.  Some of the wood floor/ceiling is wet, too.  I check the bathroom, and yes, there is water slowly seeping from the pipe leading to the cut-off valve.

Over the weekend, the flapper in the toilet stopped sealing correctly, so the tank was constantly refilling.  Trying to fix it, I turned the water off to the toilet while I fiddled with the flapper settings.  I had to do this a couple of times.  I think my fiddling may have destroyed whatever seals had been in place.  I doubt that it has been leaking any longer since Sunday or Monday.

My first solution was turn off the water to the toilet.  Water continued to seep out of the threads.  I gave my brother a call, and I decided to turn off the water to the house.  D came over,  and we started to diagnose the problem.  The solution:  $35 of new plumbing parts at Home Depot, including a new flapper.  D made me (let me?) do most of the work, although he did apply that last bit of torque.

So far, it seems to be fixed. I keep checking for drips and seeps.  What got wet is drying out.  Right now, I am waiting for my neighbors to run out of fireworks. 
dixon_green: (Default)
The fridge was not cool enough again yesterday.  This time I put a thermometer is, and yes, it is running about ten degrees warmer than it should.  The frost is also building back up.

This time I pulled out the manual, and I searched on line.  The problem has to be either the defrost timer (not advancing), or the defrost element (failure).  I'll run the diagnostic test tonight, after class.  There is enough information available on-line that this might be a repair I could do myself.  I'm not sure I want to, though.  Sears will charge $75 to come out, then parts and labor.  Not sure if Center Point would come out for this (not that my fridge is covered by Center Point).

It's a repairable problem.  In the meantime I bought 70 pounds of ice and loaded it into the fridge.  I have an actual ice box!
dixon_green: (Default)
The food in the fridge isn't quite cool enough.  It's still running, and the freezer is staying frozen, so the compressor must still be working.

So, I've spent some time just looking at the interior of the fridge.  I think the problem must be the thick layer of frost covering the vents at the back of the freezer.  It's the easy answer.  Also, and easy solution:  empty the freezer into the fridge, turn it off, and leave the freezer door open while I go to karate.  Once it defrosts, clean it up, load it back up. and see how it is tomorrow.

I hope that is all that is wrong.  I really don't want to shell out for a new fridge right now.
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