Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harry Potter Pt II Review

I went to see the final Harry Potter film a month after it came out in theatres. I was just not up for going immediately or seeing all the films in order -- motherhood has taken its toll on my energy. Plus, it was nice to wait and go with friends to the film. So I wanted to list the pros and cons of the last film.


I don't know if I can limit myself to SEVEN...I will try.

7. Too much soul baby: The Voldy soul baby thing under the seat was gross. Way gross. Didn't need that much screen time. Three seconds would be enough.

6. The Malfoys WALK AWAY: I can't even believe Steve Kloves wrote that $#*%. Seriously. The Malfoys would not walk away. Especially after the AWKWARD HUG of the century. And Voldy would NEVER HUG anybody. Fist bump? Maybe. Wand slap? Certainly. Hug? NEVER. WTF. (Though it certainly made sense with Harry-hugging-flying duel. Oh wait, no, that made NO SENSE AT ALL. Maybe Ralph Finnes was in a hugging mood that day. If so, then I should have been on set.)

5. Giant wave: Um, Steve Kloves, I know you are not a Ron/Hermione fan, but the giant wave of water right before they kiss? You don't have to OVER emphasize the sexual element -- subtle is good. Too Freudian for my taste. Just have them kiss and then give more time to Ariadne's story.

4. Students EVERYWHERE during the last battle: So, all students march around in neat little rows (a la Madeline books) and yet there are hundreds of them during the last battle all running around and screaming. What happened to the mass evacuation of students by McGonagoll? And WTF her sending out the Slytherins? Made NO sense. Also: why destroy the Quidditch pitch?

3. After fighting their way through Gringotts, riding on the back of a dragon, and then jumping in a frigid lake, Hermione pulls out...the hand-sanitizer? I know they had to cram a lot into the film, but with no explanation, I had to make up my own. That dragon wasn't in the cleanest of underground banks.

2. Where was Crabbe? And why was he replaced with Blaise Zambini? And WHY was Goyle the one who set the fiendfyre? WHY? WHY? WHY?!?!? Oh, drug issues (see here).

1. WTF: HARRY FIX YOUR @^#$^@& WAND!?!?!?!?! I did NOT like that part. Could you tell? Harry was supposed to use the elder wand to repair his broken wand with Fawkes feather in it. Now what is he going to use? Draco's wand? That is just SICK.


7. They showed people dying/dead: I know that sounds harsh and I was really surprised Heyman gave this the OK, but I am glad they showed just how EVIL Voldy was and how high the stakes were. He was like Hitler but with a snake-like face and a wand. And Goyle falling into the fire. WOW. Oh and goblin death by fire equally shocking. Lavender Brown munched on by Fenrir. All very real and captured the sense that no one was safe.

6. Ron & Hermione's kiss: believable. Good job guys. Neville's little bit about finding Luna was sweet. Glad Ginny said "I know".

5. Neville was a BA: I wish he had been the BAMF he was in the novel, but making him a BA was just as good. I liked his speech to Voldy, and the mockery with it -- it was good. A little weak, but better than nothing.

4. "Harry, if we die because of them, I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!" "NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BITCH!" Hurray for greatest Weasley lines EVER! And I started crying when Ron was sobbing over Fred. And Tonks and Lupin. I also liked how Molly had a bit of hesitation with the wand duel, as if she can't believe what she stepped into and hopes she doesn't die in the process, and then overcomes her fear to off Bellatrix.

3. Little Snape was PERFECT: He was darling. I liked him. Botoxed-slightly older Snape was not so good. Snape's death scene was good. Not as I imagined it entirely, but completely brutal and in keeping with Volemort's character. Glad Voldy didn't hug him.

2. Oh yeah, Michael Gambon can act: Forgot about that. He was quite good when he isn't screaming intensely at Harry. Oh yeah, and WARWICK DAVIS is a AMAZING. MAN CAN ACT. And, John Hurt, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson...the list goes on and on. Glad all the actors found time to come in for a day to make an appearance. AND HURRAY FOR CIARAN HINDS!!! I call him Inspector Lindley because he looks like Inspector Lindley, but he isn't, but either way he is AWESOME and I am so glad he was in the movie (he was Aberforth). And hurray for high-happy imperius cursed goblins. Love those guys. (Oh, and the Grey Lady was in Nanny McPhee. It was bugging me during the last quarter of it and then right before I went to bed I remembered where I had seen her.)

And before the top pro, I want to mention how NOT FAIR it is to moms & dads who watch this film. The whole time I thought baby Harry looked like Nina. Then I got sad about how I might die and leave Nina behind and she is just this little baby. And would I be brave like Lily? Or would I hug Voldy? And then all those kids lying dead? Not cool. I kept thinking about all their parents. Makes me teary eyed just thinking about it.

1. YAY DRAGON! Best part of the movie, hands down. Love that dragon. Would want one if it would promise not to eat me. I thought Griphooks treatment of it was believable and Hermione's aversion excellent. LOVE THAT SCENE. The whole movie could have been that scene (extended) and I would have been happy.

Even better than the dragon was this:

No, not that kid from Twilight. YAY MIKAEL BLOMKVIST!!!! He is AMAZING!!!



And I had most of the theatre scared because I LAUGHED SO HARD AT THE PREVIEW FOR THIS:

I might just have to see it at the Crest for the heck of it. I am sure it will be terrible. I will pay $11 to see the final Harry Potter film, but not for dancing penguins. Got my standards, you know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Transfiguration Follow Up

My friends have a great bumper sticker that says something to the effect of "Love People/Make Them Good Food". The bumper sticker neatly sums up how I approach life. I love food. I love the people I love (to borrow a turn of phrase from my husband). So you know I REALLY like you when I cook for you. You won't go hungry under my watch.

I was excited for the Tiny's Organic All Fruit bag deal we got on Living Social. We were not disappointed and it neatly coincided with my Dormition Fast proposal: we eat food that is locally grown.

Look at all that fruit! We had 4 pounds of cherries, several pounds of pluots, peaches, and nectarines. Given that I live with two fruit bats, this bag was PERFECT. We eat the entire contents in about a week.

With regard to produce, I found some difficulty in keeping totally local. I did OK the first week. I came up with a list of dishes I wanted to make and then shopped the farmer's market for inspiration. It worked out pretty well -- out of a list of seven possible dishes, I was able to make three from totally local produce. I would have made vegetable sandwiches, but didn't find mushrooms that I liked.

I also couldn't find citrus. I remember when I was younger and we would get walnuts, apples, and oranges in our stockings. My cousins and I would be aghast as to why produce would be where toys should. I then began reading more books about frontier life and living on the prairie and discovered how precious citrus and fresh produce can be. It then made sense that my grandmother, who grew up on a farm, was simply keeping that tradition of holding fresh fruit as important. It made me respect her gift that much more. Of course, a few years later one could not find the mesh stockings stuffed with oranges, apples, and walnuts since the tradition died with my materialistic generation.

A recipe I wanted to make called for lemon zest and juice. So, I had to be creative and decided that red wine vinegar would give the necessary sweet tartness to the dish.

Martha Stewart's minions certainly know what they are doing. This is a dish of blanched local green beans, sweet red onion, tomatoes, and parsley tossed with canned chickpeas. There is some olive oil and red wine vinegar as well as salt and pepper involved. I could have topped it with the required feta cheese, but it was Dormition Fast, so Nina and I had cheese on the side.

Nina is wondering when I will stop taking pictures and we can start eating.

Then came Transfiguration after the annual blueberry picking. It was a great experience as always to pick one's own berries and pay next to nothing for them. It does make you appreciate the hard work that goes into it...especially when the priest's daughter keeps grabbing handfuls of your berries and putting them in her own bucket. "But you have so many," she said when I told her to knock it off. It is the only time I have given a moderately-conservative reply: "Then get busy picking your own!"

The second week of the fast we were going to the Methow Valley with friends. I had missed the farmer's market the week prior because of Transfiguration, so I had to make due with other farmer's markets that were not as good. Then I just got frustrated not being able to use the ingredients I wanted to use. So, I hiked down to Pike Place Market, with Nina strapped on, to find produce that was coming from local farmers as well as local vendors. I found some good looking citrus and an organic watermelon that looked small but felt so heavy by the time I got back up the hill. I had bruises on my shoulders from hoisting child and produce and was thankful this was not a permanent lifestyle choice.

We are so spoiled with our clean grocery stores and cheap food. I tend to be anti-corporations not because of my natural socialist tendencies, but because I believe that companies are so much bigger than the individual and it would be difficult for anyone to negotiate a better price for a product with a large entity behind it. So, I am saddened that I have gone back to the Trader Joe lifestyle after the fast.

Still, it has given me resolve that I as a consumer can control the market by only buying produce that is seasonal and trying to buy items that are locally grown. It will cost more money, but it will be money well spent if I can support local farmers. It is also so much better for my need to cultivate patience and moderation. While I may want to eat zucchini in the dead winter, the amount of fuel it took to get to me is not worth it to the earth which God gave man.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More Laughing Baby

For of course all to view, but especially for my dad on his birthday!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Transfiguration Reflection

St. Katherine's Church has a monthly newsletter (The Arena) that contained an article I wrote! For those of you who do not receive the newsletter, here is the article. I hope to write a follow up blog post!

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” --Ecclesiastes 3:1

Lance (Gregory), my husband, really likes chips and cereal. I, on the other hand, adore bread. My late grandfather and my father cultivated my love of it by introducing me to the joys of freshly baked pan dulces (sweet bread) with a steaming cup of coffee in the morning. Whenever a major fast comes along, the church does not, thankfully, prescribe us to fast from cereal, chips, and bread. In the past, I have made a point during a fast to avoid all processed food save those three items. However, with the birth of our child, I found it increasingly difficult to get meals on the table much less made-from-scratch meals. While I use the weekends to prep meals for the week, I also find inspiration from Holy Tradition as a way to go beyond the ubiquitous tofu and hummus so prevalent in our fasting diet.

At the Feast of Transfiguration, which always falls on August 6th during the Dormintion Fast, the Church blesses fruit for eating. “Grapes, in general, fruit from orchards such as apples, pears, and plums,” are blessed “in order to ask the Lord’s blessing on the fruits of the harvest.” (From The Law of God complied by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy -- my go-to book for all Festal information) I am not sure if this tradition is a “big T” Tradition or a “little t” tradition. Regardless, it is a beautiful one. The fruit blessing tradition may come from the Hebrew calendar where the tending of vines and harvesting of grapes takes place Tammuz through Elul (June through September). The summer months are generally harvest time – after all, summer break is a tradition held over from a time when children needed to be back on the farm to help with the harvest. St. Katherine’s has often gone to local farms to pick blueberries for the blessing fruit on Transfiguration. For the occasion, I fill a large basket with blueberries, peaches, jalapenos, and other fruits, just like at Pascha.

The Transfiguration fruit blessing is bittersweet to me. I love it because such a wonderful and simple gift such as fruit is blessed. On the other hand, the blessing of fruit is disheartening to me because reminds me that our culture has removed itself from the farm tradition. The produce in the grocery stores is sparkling clean and waxed, which is not how they look when callused hands have harvested them from the earth. I have shopped at farmer’s markets and stands, but the ease and convenience of the Trader Joe’s plastic wrapped zucchini (in December!) is more often how I buy produce. I want my daughter to understand the labor and cultivation that goes into producing the food she eats. Ideally, she would know who grew her food and (perhaps) would not reject the spinach I have served because she knew the farmer who grew it.

In consequence, I have given my family a challenge for the Dormition Fast – we will buy all of our produce from local farmers. Whether it is at the Farmer’s Market or a farm stand, we will eat from the harvest of our native soil. It will require much patience on my part, as I tend to plan and not improvise. Still, it would be worth a little stretch of my own will and patience to not only support local farms but to also recognize what a glorious bounty of fruits, berries, and produce we have in the Pacific Northwest. May the fast provide us with an opportunity to till the small field in our hearts that we have dedicated to God – with much prayer may that field expand and the harvest of love be plentiful.

In August of 2009 I wrote this blog post “I Don’t Want to Forget This…” because I obviously wanted to remember it.

Transfiguration Peach Salsa (This is what the hubbster called it)

1 yellow peach (diced)

1 different peach (diced)

1 necturine (diced)

(I like the variety of stone fruits for the color)

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (walla walla is delicious)

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

juice of two limes

2 jalapenos seeded, ribs cut off, and diced

salt (1/4 tsp or to taste)

Stir this all up in a bowl and then chill in the fridge for about half an hour. Really tasty on fish tacos!