Improbable Phrases

Who says that?


Jupiter Ascending

You guys. I went to see Jupiter Ascending, because I strongly believe in rewarding intricate, wide and expansive space operas with money. If people like you and me go see them, then the powers of Hollywood will see fit to make more of them. Right? Right.

The problem was that I sort of lovehated it. The graphics were beyond exquisite. Some of the spaceships were in the shape of fishes! The skies and the space stations were also done up in full, gorgeous CGI glory. The costumes were lovely, imaginative and highly detailed. The earrings on Kalique? The best ever. I’d be friends with her just for the jewelry tips. The women were strong, they did the right thing, and their bodies were respected. It had the right balance of technobabble and stuff I could understand.

It was the plot that bothered me. There were these wonderful moments, where you get just a glimpse of some sweet and glorious concept, but only for brief seconds. It had what I will call a rose petal problem. Imagine a flowergirl at a wedding. She has a basket full of vibrant, soft, red petals. And she tosses them out of her basket in small bunches here and there and then walks away from them. This is the plot of Jupiter Ascending. All throughout the movie, somewhat compelling minor characters, fascinating ideas, and single sparkling lines floated in the air for mere breaths before they dropped to the floor of the center aisle. Look! Here’s a girl who’s sick! Why? Who cares! Look at this minor character pilot a police ship! No wait! Look over here instead! There are bees!

It was interesting. I am not saying it wasn’t. I’m just saying that it didn’t always commit to telling you the story. Oftentimes it just wanted to drop the next red petal. Look how pretty it is! I don’t disagree on the beauty, just on the execution of it. Show me lovely things that are in service of the story and I will happily watch them. Show me lovely things solely because they are lovely and it will only take 30 minutes for me to get jaded and cynical. Within 30 minutes, I’ve got your number. You’re only going to show me that until you find something else to show me. And I’m going to be briefly disappointed, but mostly just uncertain which parts of the story I need to remember and which are simply more petals.

Had the story been cohesive, I would have died for this movie. Had all of those petals been gathered up into a rose by the end of the film, I would recommend it wholeheartedly. But it didn’t. It had beauty to spare, but no idea how to streamline it into one story that really resonated. Jupiter Ascending was so frustratingly close to what I wanted, but it never really got there.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

I am here to tell you that you should go see Guardians of the Galaxy. It is adorable, upbeat, and the comics they are based on are not required reading to understand the movie. 

I loved that American music from the late 70’s was the basic soundtrack for the whole movie. It made it that much more fun to watch. 

Basically, it was just a fun movie. There wasn’t a lot of plot, sure, but there weren’t awful things going on either and with the exception of one line, it was very positive and affirming. I could have done without the “whore” reference from Drax. Beyond that, I had so much fun. 

I wholeheartedly recommend it. 


Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars

I’ve recently started listening to the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast after hearing about it on the Nerdist podcast. The Thrilling Adventure Hour is done in the style of an old-time radio show. There are several recurring segments. For example, there is a segment starring a WWI-era All-American guy; a segment starring two alcoholic socialites who solve paranormal mysteries; a segment starring a very cheesy superhero with lasers; and my personal favorite, a segment starring a Old West-style Marshall on Mars. He has his own theme song, which is sung in the very stereotypical style that you’d expect from an Old-West story. In a Firefly-esque twist, it just happens to be out on Mars, not on Earth.

An excerpt from the Thrilling Adventure Hour wiki:

When there’s varmints need a’ catching
And young ‘uns need a’ saving
On my rocket steed I race across the stars
For I’ve sworn by the burrs of my astro spurs
To right the outlaw wrongs on Mars
(Yes, he rights the outlaw wrongs on Mars!)

Here’s a ukelele cover of it by a fan. I can’t find a legal copy of the original version. This guy does a pretty excellent job.

I was surprised and pleased to discover Nathan Fillion from Castle and Firefly on the All-American guy segment, and Paget Brewster from Criminal Minds on the drunken socialite segment. They both do a great job, but everybody does. It’s such a fun thing to listen to. I love the storytelling and the comedy of the show. It’s very smart writing by the sweetly-rhyming comedy writer team of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker.

You should check it out on iTunes. It’s really great.


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Faithfully Funny

I love Ann Lamott.  You learn about faith and grace just by listening to her life.  She has not had an easy time of things, with drug addiction and poor relationship choices. But she found a way to come out of that, and to believe in God, surprisingly enough.  I appreciated the tendency to make things into a comedy, rather than a tragedy. She has good ideas, and is just liberal enough that I don’t feel as though she is preaching at me to be holy like her. To be honest, it feels as though she doesn’t see herself as holy at all.

I wonder whether the intention of being in the presence of holiness is enough to get a little to rub off on you. If so, it seems to work for her. 


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Only Face Value.

The Curious Case of a Dog in the Nighttime was a book about a child who had no sense of social cues, due to autism.

And then he is LIED to. I hated that. The child had no concept of when folks were happy, sad, or otherwise, and he was lied to.  Because that’s easy to do to a child who didn’t even have a chance to pick up on it.  Or ask the right questions.

It was interesting to me that it was hard to tell about the socioeconomics or relationships of this child because neither of these things were important to him. Having an autistic narrator meant that the book had a lot of facts, but only the ones that he felt were relevant. And this child loved numbers, and other such things. He took his social environment entirely for granted. This made the setting hard to pin down.

I liked this book. I hadn’t read anything from the perspective of a person with autism before,  and it was interesting to see how differently that they might view the world.  It’s hard to know whether the book is entirely accurate to the mindset of autism, since it was written by a neurotypical person, but I think it was a very compelling read.


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The Nature of the Divine

I am struggling to figure out what to say about Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. It was a re-read for me, but somehow this book never gets less shocking and enchanting; able to make me gasp, cry, and laugh. There is so much in it. So much horror, so much sorrow, so much joy, so much of the human life and experience.  I love this book so much. So, so much.

It seeks to answer some of the most complex questions of Christianity: What happens when your faith is shaken by adversity?  Can you rebuild? Where was God when it happened?

And it does it with a sweeping beauty and grace that I haven’t seen equaled in any book that also includes aliens, discussions of linguistics, and a crash course in Jesuit hierarchy.  I cannot think of a better, more nuanced book that feeds me spiritually like The Sparrow does. Thank goodness a lady from church recommended it to me.