May 30, 2016

Monanthous Monday

monanthous ~ having only a single flower

Happy Memorial Day to all my Yankee friends!

I have to admit to being a bit curious about the origins of Memorial Day. Other than it provides a long weekend in May to offset our Victoria Day weekend, and that it’s to honour fallen soldiers, I really don’t know much about it. So I thought it was about time I learned something new.

In the years following the Civil War, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the fallen Union soldiers. During the1860s it became the custom in many places to make a special acknowledgement of these soldiers in the late spring, decorating the graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

Decoration Day, as it was originally called, was observed on May 30th, and after World War I it became a day to commemorate all military personnel, no matter what conflict they died in. Gradually the name changed to Memorial Day and in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, thereby creating a three-day weekend and turning it into a federal holiday.

In Canada we have a similar day called Remembrance Day, that’s observed on November 11 each year. Originally it was Armistice Day, commemorating the fallen soldiers from World War I on the anniversary of the armistice being signed (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month), but in 1931 it became Remembrance Day to encompass all branches of the Canadian Armed Forces no matter what conflict. However, it is not a federal holiday for us, so we don’t get the day off. It is customary, however to observe a moment of silence at the appropriate hour.

So ... among the things I didn’t get done over the weekend, I did not get my seeds planted, and my front garden is just a big lump of dirt still. Okay, there are a few weeds and an stray lily-of-the-valley or two, but no bedding plants. There was just no time to pick them out over the weekend, and in any case, it was too hot to garden. But I’m hoping the hubby and I can get the plants tonight and I can plant them a few at a time over the course of the week.

Yes, that’s right. In the space of a week I’ve gone from wondering if it’ll ever warm up to complaining about the heat. And not just the heat, we’ve got the humidity too. Guess it serves us right for living right beside Lake Ontario.

As I sit typing this (quickly because I’m in my recliner and I’m getting super over-heated having the lap top on my lap) I have a fan going. There’s one in the bedroom as well that I dug out at 3:30 a.m. when the heat woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. And as much as I hate the noise from the air conditioner, I’m seriously looking forward to it going in the dining room window.

I think it’s going to be a long summer.

May 25, 2016

Mars Needs Women

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

This was exciting - Disney versus DC Comics! This movie was filmed in two weeks in 1967, and looks like it. It stars Tommy Kirk (best known for his career with Disney in films such as Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, and The Monkey’s Uncle) and Yvonne Craig (the original Batgirl). Sadly, that was pretty much the only exciting part about this movie.

It begins with random little vignettes - a woman playing tennis, one out to dinner with a man, one taking a shower - and one by one the women suddenly disappear. From there we cut to a government facility where they’ve received a message: Mars needs women!

Suddenly Tommy Kirk appears in the facility - he’s on a mission from Mars - they’re having a fertility crisis and have come to Earth looking for female volunteers to come back with them. Naturally the authorities are outraged - worldwide.

Even though Tommy asked for volunteers, the authorities are looking at this as a threat and send rockets off to look for the Mars ship. They can’t see it and it doesn’t show up on radar, so they send a ship armed with a warhead in the general direction they think the Mars ship is but hit an invisible wall - Martians are able to neutralize anything that can scan them.

Meanwhile, the Martian ship hides in an old ice factory and the Martians, armed with flashlights from Sears, climb out of a hatch one by one. Tommy Kirk is dressed in what pretty much looks like a black wet suit (like scuba divers use) complete with a hood and little ear pieces stuck to the side with antennae sticking up. Five more Martians climb out through the hatch dressed the same only their suits are silver with black sleeves. They’re on a mission - Operation Sleep Freeze!

Tommy Kirk, apparently their fearless leader, sends them off for money, transportation, and earth clothing. Apparently they know karate - one of them karate chops some guy at a filling station and robs the till. Another one steals a car - guess they have cars on Mars because he knows how to drive. Another steals clothes (and complains bitterly about the ties when they dressed). They have 20 hours to each choose, research, and abduct a woman that meets their exact specifications.

They go cruising (not sure what city) - one of them gets out at a movie theatre, one goes to a strip club, two of them (Tommy and “the doctor”) go to a hotel but it’s full and they’re told they can wait in the bar. They watch a news report on TV about a genetics expert (Yvonne Craig) who’s arrived to offer advice in this time of crisis. She’s an expert on space sex and is giving a talk in the hotel which makes them very excited (in a deadpan sort of way).

They use Martian mind control to steal a room from a reporter and then use a communications console to see how the others are doing. They get a little worried when the guy in the strip club doesn’t answer - he’s mesmerized by the stripper (who's played by a real stripper) and followers her back to her dressing room. Tommy Kirk is going after Yvonne, the doctor is going to wait for the next day when the coeds come out to play.

Tommy goes down to the press conference where the reporters are giving Yvonne a hard time. He asks her a couple of serious, valid questions which she jumps all over in gratitude. She seems sympathetic to the Martian’s quest. That’s pretty much it for the press conference, and she ends up flirting with Tommy and they go for a walk to the planetarium. The show is about Mars and partway through the tape breaks and Tommy continues the dialogue that goes with the movie being shown. Yvonne is impressed (so is the curator).

They go for a walk as the sun sets - he looks a little shell shocked as he goes back to his room. One of the guys is wandering around the airport and has his sights set on a stewardess. He uses some kind of Martian mojo on her. Another is at a college football game - sets his sights on the homecoming queen and uses the Martian mojo on her.

Back to Yvonne where she’s in some kind of meeting with some scientists and the military. Some guy is talking about how the Martians are able to use hypnosis to kidnap the women - three women have disappeared without a trace.

The doctor is following a blond artist - uses the Martian mojo on her. Cut back to the strategy meeting. Yvonne suggests the ship could be at the old ice factory - she explains about “sleep freeze” for space travel. They decide to make a raid on the factory after sunset.

Yvonne and Tommy go for a drive after dark - they go to an exhibit on genetics (that showcases the work of her dead father) at some museum. She lets slip that they think they’ve found the ship and they’re going to raid it at 9. Tommy takes off and she follows - they drive to the factory in silence (she doesn’t even ask what’s going on). Tommy rushes inside where the others (back in their Martian suits) have the four missing women unconscious on tables. He tells them to abort the mission.

At this point Yvonne figures out who he is. He doesn’t want to go back to Mars and argues with the others. Meanwhile, soldiers surround the building. Tommy finally agrees to go if they leave Yvonne behind - he loves her. Yvonne cries as they leave. The ship escapes but they had to leave the women. Yvonne and the army guys stare up at the departing ship, more crying.

All in all, this movie wasn’t all that bad. That’s not to say it was particularly good, it just wasn’t really bad. The story was kind of sketchy and the action was pretty choppy, and despite assurances they were looking for volunteers, they had to use their mojo on each of the women. The movie pretty much tanked Tommy Kirk’s career, although it didn’t seem to do Yvonne Craig any harm. And although it was intended for a theatre release, it went straight to television.

I found it kind of strange that after all their effort they ended up going home empty handed. If they could pass so easily as human, why didn’t they just stay? I guess we’ll never know. All we’re left with is the sad fact that Mars still needs women.

May 23, 2016

Mirific Monday

mirific ~ wonder-working; marvellous

It’s the twenty-fourth of May
The Queen’s Birthday
And if we don’t get a holiday
We’ll all run away!

Okay, so it’s only the 23rd of May. But close enough for it to be Victoria Day. This means that if you live in Canada you probably have the day off. And if you live in the States ... well, we’ll raise a glass to you as we sit on our decks enjoying our barbeques. ;-)

Victoria Day, as you might have guessed, is celebrated in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday. When we originally started celebrating it, back in 1845, it was held on May 24th, the queen’s actual birthday. But after she died in 1901 it was decided that in order to give everyone a long weekend, it would be held on the Monday before May 25th. Nice of them, wasn’t it?

Last week was pretty mixed up for me. The daughter had to go to a conference in Vancouver, so her hubby switched to a day shift so that I could babysit during the day and he’d be home in the evenings with the baby.

This was going to be fun! Or so I thought. Since I’d have the use of the daughter’s car, I envisioned road trips to the parks and maybe a visit or two to the drop in play group at the local YMCA. Girls going wild, Grammy style!

However, Sunday night my little Ellie came down with the sniffles, and was no better on Monday. This meant play group was out. And though the sun was shining brightly, the wind was really cold last week, which meant the park was out. *sigh*

My son-in-law took Thursday and Friday off, so my services were no longer needed, but as a lovely parting gift, Ellie gave me her cold. Wednesday I woke up with a really sore throat and was getting sniffling myself, and then Thursday it blossomed into the Epic Mega Death Cold From Hell.

Who says good deeds never go unpunished? On the other hand, look at that smiling face. It was totally worth it. ;-)

May 18, 2016

War of the Monsters

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

If you’re looking for a bad monster movie, look no further than the Japanese monster movies of the sixties - the out of sync lip syncing, the cheesey costumes, the over the top acting ... War of the Monsters is no exception. This the second in a series of eight movies featuring Gamera, the fire-breathing mutant turtle. And trust me, the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles have nothing on Gamera.

The movie starts with a recap of what happened in the previous movie. After being freed from an iceberg, Gamera ran amok in Japan until being tricked or forced into a rocket and shot off into space towards Mars. Six months later, a meteor smacks into the rocket, but instead of killing Gamera, it releases him from the rocket and he returns to Earth. How did he survive the trip home without oxygen or a ship or whatever? I have no idea.

The first thing he does when he gets back is attack a large, hydro-electric dam. But then he suddenly “senses” a volcano about to erupt on the other side of the world (which also looks like Japan) and being attracted to heat and energy, off he goes.

Leaving Gamera behind, we’re introduced to the real plot of the movie which involves an enormous opal that was hidden in a cave in New Guinea during World War II. Three men go after the jewel - one gets bitten by a scorpion, and one of them sets off an explosion that traps the third one in the cave.

Of course the opal turns out to be an egg, and it hatches on the ship just as it reaches the harbour. The creature must have grown at an insanely accelerated rate because it leaves a hole in the side of the ship large enough to sink it rather quickly. And immediately it starts laying waste to the port.

The creature is lizard-like, with a long, curved horn on the nose, spikes along its spine, fixed eyes, and a really long tail. And you can totally tell it’s a man in a rubber suit. At first he uses his tongue like a battering ram, but once he warms up he can use it to spray a freezing mist (it kind of looks like a frog’s tongue). Hubby just about peed himself laughing when it froze a fighter plane in mid-flight and it just kind of came apart in the air. Then he uses the pièce de résistance, a rainbow beam coming out of the spikes on his back.

This energy beam attracts the attention of Gamera who comes spinning back from wherever he’d gone, and they of course get into a fight. First they just screech at each other, then the lizard starts bitch-slapping Gamera with his tail. Then he finally remembers his freeze ray and turns Gamera into a turtle-sicle. Then he goes off to lay waste to Osaka.

It’s at this point we finally learn the monster’s name - Barugon. To make an already long story a little shorter, after a plan to lure him into a lake (water weakens him, which begs the question: how did he survive his swim in the harbour?) fails, they create an insanely large mirror and goad him into using his rainbow beam, which is reflected back at him, and then Gamera (who’s newly thawed out) drags him into the lake and drowns him.

If you really, really want to know the story without having to subject yourself watch the movie, go to Million Monkey Theatre where there’s a great, blow by blow summary.

As hubby says, there just aren’t enough words to express how really bad this movie is. Don’t believe me? Watch it for yourself. I dare you! :-D

May 15, 2016

Mecometer Monday

mecometer ~ instrument for measuring length

You know, it’s all about the baby steps. I bought myself a couple of little notebooks to write stuff down in so I don’t forget stuff, now I just have to remember to make use of them. You know, like writing down ideas for my Monday blog post. *sigh*

I’m starting to wonder if we’re ever really going to get spring. We’ve had the odd good day, but never more than two in a row. Lately it’s been cold and rainy, and some parts of Ontario got snow yesterday - including us. Granted ours was a really wet snow that didn’t stick, but still ...

However, that’s not stopping the grass from greening up and the leaves from unfurling on the trees. I see tulips and daffodils blooming in other people’s gardens (I don’t have any myself). But because of the up and down weather my sand cherries didn’t bloom this year and I still don’t have my roses uncovered. Nor my wild flower seeds planted, although the planters they’re going in are set up along the deck and filled with dirt.

Another sign that spring will find a way ... I saw Daphne’s babies yesterday. I was sitting at the dining room table watching a couple of mallards wandering around the back yard when I realized Daphne was swimming in our pond instead of the pool. Then I realized there were about half a dozen little ducklings milling around in front of the pond. By the time I’d got to the window to have a better look, the whole lot of them disappeared under the fence at the back of the yard.

I’m finally getting back into the writing groove, albeit slowly. At the very least I had enough words in to make my wordage report worth while. If you’re interested in how I did, you can check it out on my Other Blog.

And the truly amazing part about getting so many words in is the fact I’ve been on a bit of a reading binge lately - four books in four days. I really, really have to make time to start updating my Goodreads list. I started out at the beginning of the year swearing I was going to update at least once a month; I’m only five months behind so far.

Saturday night there wasn’t much of anything on television (even with all those extra channels we have now) so the hubby looked through our DVD collection and found a monster movie we hadn’t seen yet. He suggested that we make this a regular thing, watching our B movies on Saturday night for my review on Wednesday.

As I discovered last Wednesday, it’s hard to review a movie you saw months ago. Kind of like trying to find something to say about a book you read months ago. Which is a real shame because we’ve seen a plethora of really, really bad movies so unless I see them again, I probably won’t be including them.

This means my Wednesday posts will be as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. So be sure to check back for my review of ... War of the Monsters. Ooo, scary!

May 11, 2016

White Zombie

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

With zombies being so popular right now I thought, what better movie to start my movie reviews with than the very first feature length zombie movie, White Zombie?

This movie was released in 1932, and for all you youngsters out there that means it’s in black and white. And no, colorizing it would not improve it. This movie features Haitian zombies, not the rotting flesh zombies that are so popular today, and the zombie master, Murder Legendre, was played by the king of the horror flicks, Béla Lugosi.

A young woman named Madeline (played by Madge Bellamy) arrives in Haiti to be reunited with her fiancé Neil (played by John Harron). Apparently on the voyage over, she met plantation owner Charles Beaumont (played by Robert Frazer) who insists that the young couple get married at his estate. On their way to this estate they witness a burial at a crossroads, which is supposed to prevent the deceased from becoming a zombie.

Of course Beaumont is hopelessly in love with Madeline and enlists the aid of zombie master Legendre to make her his. The young couple get married and during the wedding feast, Beaumont slips her a potion that makes it appear that she’s dead. Later, he and the zombie master steal her body and turn her into a zombie. When the distraught Neil goes to visit her tomb and finds her body missing, missionary Dr. Bruner (played by Joseph Cawthorn) helpfully tells him about how Legendre has been turning people into zombies.

Meanwhile, Beaumont is having second thoughts and goes to Legendre’s castle to get him to reverse what he’s done to Madeline. Not only does Legendre refuse, but Beaumont realizes the zombie master is trying to turn him as well. Neil and Bruner arrive at the castle to rescue Madeline and Legendre uses his mind control to make her try and kill Neil. Bruner manages to knock Legendre out and the zombies he had going after the men walk off a cliff instead. Then Beaumont and Legendre struggle on the same cliff and they, too, fall to their deaths. With the death of the zombie master, Madeline is freed from her living death and is reunited with Neil.

It’s a low budget film and it shows. By current standards the effects in this movie might seem a little tame, mostly atmospheric lighting, but when you consider the age of the film, it’s actually kind of interesting. Talking movies had only been around for about five years when this movie was made and they made good use of music, like drums, and spooky background noises.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched this, and what I remember most is the really demented looking “head zombie” and the way the filmmaker kept focusing on Béla Lugosi’s eyes. He’s got the creepiest eyes ever. And I have to say, the thing that ruined it for me was the way Dr. Bruner kept asking if anyone had a light for his cigarette, even during the final clinch between Madeline and Neil.

You know what? You don’t need me to tell you whether this movie was good or bad, you can check it out for yourself:

Hope you sleep well tonight!

May 9, 2016

Mythopoeic Monday

mythopoeic ~ giving rise to myths

The best laid schemes ...
... o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

~ from To a Mouse, by Robert Burns

You know, I really have to stop making plans for my weekends. It seems like every time I look forward to a weekend and have big plans for it, something happens that throws a monkey wrench into the works.

This weekend the hubby was away at a bowling tournament and I had plans to get all kinds of things done. I had a list, damn it!

About mid-morning on Saturday I started getting a headache. It wasn’t too bad, so I just ignored it. I don’t know if things would have played out differently had I not tried to ignore it, but by lunch time it was getting serious. I tried coffee, I tried Advil, I tried a nap. I even went out to run a couple of errands thinking the fresh air might help. It didn’t.

So then I tried coffee, Advil, and napping all at once and by supper time (a late supper) I was starting to feel human again. But by then it was too late. My whole day was gone and I had precious little to show for it. *sigh*

And unfortunately, there was no catching up on things on Sunday either. There was a brunch with the in-laws and an unexpected trip to the city. And of course it was family dinner night too.

But ... the weekend wasn’t a total loss. I did get to cross a few things off my list, one of them being changes to my Other Blog. I cleaned up the side bar and removed the A to Z post I had pinned to the top of the page. You can read about the rest of the changes HERE.

There’ll be a bit of a change here as well. I’ve been wanting to do a bit more with this blog for a while now, and I’ve been tossing a few ideas around. Despite the fact I’ve been reading more, I did not want to do a book review thing. Been there, done that, still getting my email spammed with offers for free books in exchange for review. Trouble with that is they’re seldom books I’d care to read.

But one of the things the hubby and I enjoy is movies. Specifically, bad movies. A couple of people have suggested I should review some of these movies and I kind of like the idea. So starting this week, I’m going to designate Wednesdays as my bad movie day. So be sure and come back to see what movie is first to get the honour.

And now, just because I can, I’m posting a picture of my mother’s day present:

For anyone who’s interested, the tea in the cup is Bear Trap, an herbal tea from David’s Teas. I’m not normally one for herbal teas, but this one’s pretty good. It’s even better as an iced tea.

Sometimes being a mom is a great gig. ;-)

May 2, 2016

Monophagous Monday

monophagous ~ feeding on only one type of food

So ... I'm sitting here and it's Sunday night, and it's after midnight and I need to come up with something to post about and ... I'm coming up empty.

It could be because I'm tired, it is after midnight, or maybe the well has finally run dry. I don't know. But I do know I'd better come up with something tonight because I'm not going to have time to finish this in the morning. At least not first thing in the morning.

****Almost as soon as I typed that last night, I realized trying to keep going was an even worse choice. I would have ended up staying up too late, which meant I would have got a late start to my morning, which would have thrown my whole day off, which would have made me even crankier than a normal grey, dismal Monday morning would have. So ... better late than never****

Okay, I'm on a tight schedule today. If I don't get this post finished and up in the next half hour, then I might as well just skip it because I won't have any time until around 4.

I have to chuckle at the irony of this. I did almost as many posts on my Other Blog during the month of April as I've done in the last two years total on it, and yet I'm stuck for just a single post here for the day.

But the challenge is over - no more trying to come up with a post based on a letter of the alphabet each day. I'm hoping to make a few changes, as in posting a little more often to both my blogs, maybe add a couple of new features. Ideally that's something I should have been working on over the weekend, but ... Saturday just kind of disappeared on me, and yesterday it was grey and dismal and I drove to the city for some much needed shopping therapy. ;-)

I actually had a lot of fun with the A to Z Challenge. Would I do it again? Maybe. If I was more prepared. I've done it a couple of times in the past, but this year it was kind of a last minute decision. I think to be successful this has to be planned for ahead of time. I spent way too much time on my blog posts, leaving me not enough time for my blog visiting.

I still have about 50 blogs on the list to visit, which is pretty good considering how long that list is. And the list is still there if you're curious. Just got to the A to Z Challenge and scroll down a little for the links.

There was a wide variety of blogs out there with an amazing range of topics, and a lot of talented bloggers. There were blogs with photos that are just breath-taking, gaming blogs, cooking blogs, family history blogs, blogs with stories, blogs with information ... and I've bookmarked a bunch of them to go back to.

I wish I could have commented on everyone's blog, but that just wasn't possible. Mostly I commenting on the writing blogs, because that's where my own interests lie, but there were a few others that were so great I just had to say something.

If I do it next year I'd like to keep track of my stats, even if it's only for my own use. Things like the number of blogs visited, the kinds of blogs there are, if the person appeared to forget they'd signed up, how easy they were to navigate ... I have to admit, if a blog was taking too long to load, or it was confusing or I had to really search around for the posts, I skipped it. And I didn't like the ones with the popups to sign up for a service or newsletter.

Hmm, I wonder if I could do an A to Z based on the bloggers that signed up for it? Now there's a thought! LOL