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The Voice of Life

March 28, 2012 1 comment

This afternoon the children and I went out to my sister’s property to do a little ‘nature study’ for our homeschool work. It warmed up again into the mid-sixties, with some hazy sun and a gusty Spring wind. We checked out the pond and found  a lot of frog eggs that looked like long, transparent worms filled with black dots wound around weeds and sticks under the water. I don’t recall seeing long, stringy egg sacks like this before; usually frog eggs are in big globs. They were cool looking!

Fiona brought her notebook and a pencil, and we sat now and then as she wrote down the names of things we saw. By the time we went home she had written: willow pollen; frog eggs; fragmitis; cattails; deer tracks (lots of those); giant hill; lamb’s ear; holes; dandelions (the first we’ve seen this season); stones; May apples. After leaving the pond we’d climbed the tall grassy hill nearby that has many woodchuck holes in it. Arthur and Fiona both liked standing on top, enjoying the lovely view of green fields and being buffeted by the ferocious, not-quite-chilly wind. We also saw what I’m pretty sure now were coyote tracks in the mud beside the pond amid hundreds of deer prints.

Then it was off across the wide, short grass of a hay-field and into the woods where I’ve gone for over forty years. May Apples were popping up all over, and Trout Lilly and little white flowers whose names I forget at the moment. We explored the ancient piles of big rocks where long ago I buried my Guinea Pig Guinevere. No sign of Trilliums yet, though. By May they are usually all around the forest floor. After finding more deer prints and raccoon tracks near a swampy place, we finally headed back toward the house and our car, just as it began to get cloudy. It was a most  pleasant afternoon!

This reminded me of a few things I wrote last Friday, when I went out alone to some other woods where I spent time with my friends as a teenager. Here is what I wrote:

The voice of life is all around me; whispering, creaking, hissing; breathing through branches laced with budding new green. I reach down to touch a cluster of unfolding leaves; small and soft as velvet feathers. Their life force tingles through my fingers; a sensation of GREEN that is not a color but a taste; vibration, electricity tickling my skin; flowing like honey up through fingers and arms. It makes me laugh out loud! The voice of the forest speaks through a hazy aura of sun through high treetops; delicious air that moves and mingles with my own breath. Everywhere, among dark shadow and brown earth there is GREEN; subtle, vibrant, unstoppable GREEN of life returning; igniting the forest within me and without.

Categories: Kids/Parenting, Nature

John Carter (of Mars!) Reviews

March 26, 2012 2 comments

Yesterday my son Arthur and I went to see a matinee of the Disney Studios film ‘John Carter’. I must say right off the bat: I really enjoyed this movie. And the day after viewing it, with the images and characters still bubbling around in my mind, I’d have to say that I loved it! Perhaps partly because I read the first three Barsoom novels as a teen, and this film wonderfully captured for me that nostalgia; the feel of reading the Burroughs stories for the fist time.

If you’re not familiar with ‘John Carter’, the movie, (as opposed to the rookie doctor from ‘ER’) it is director Andrew Stantons adaptation of the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom novels, ‘A Princess of Mars’. Burroughs, who also wrote the ‘Tarzan’ series, created a bunch of stories about the world of Barsoom (that we call Mars) about a hundred years ago. The first novel is about Civil War veteran John Carter who is mysteriously transported to Mars and his adventures with Dejah Thoris, Princess of the city-state of Helium.

Since the movie first came out I kept hearing about what a disappointment it is; how it didn’t make a billion dollars the very first weekend it premiered. I read a couple of reviews that said the story was incomprehensible; the acting was bad, and so on; even though the previews looked pretty darn cool to me! But Arthur wanted to see it very badly, so I went with not very great expectations. And I was very pleasantly surprised. The movie was just great fun! I actually liked the actors and how they portrayed their characters. And it was apparent to me that the filmmakers spent a lot of time and attention to detail. The scenery and special effects are gorgeous; from the ancient cities, the details of Martian airships and machinery, the costumes, to the amazing CGI creation of the four-armed, green-skinned Tharks. I think Stanton’s film did an admirable job capturing that steampunk/swashbuckling/science fiction-fantasy spirit of those Burroughs stories, while actually improving on the original (like the explanation for Carter’s transportation to Mars, and bringing in elements and characters from the second Barsoom story, ‘Gods of Mars’). I thought the pacing, the interaction of the characters (even the computer-generated ones) and the story-within-a-story was very well done. It’s got battles, action, romance! It takes itself quite seriously, but with a nice balance of humor in just the right places. And I loved the ending! Every change that was made to the movie definitely improved the overall story.

I don’t know: maybe people who didn’t like or understand the film were not familiar with the source material; or maybe they were just a lot younger than I and found elements of the story too familiar? Even though the original story is the template, along with the works of Robert E. Howard and a few other writers, for most of the Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery stories that have come out in the past century! Edgar Rice Burroughs and others inspired much of the books and films that have come after them, not the other way around! I think ‘John Carter’ is a worthy homage to the spirit and imagination of those early pioneers of imagination.

So please go see the movie while it’s still in theaters (we did not see the 3D version, and it was breathtaking). Because the ending made me really hope that they make the next movie in a proposed trilogy about John Carter of Mars. I enjoyed my time in that mythical Mars called Barsoom, and would like to explore it further. (I like to pretend that this story takes place in an alternate universe where Mars still harbors life). Also the possibility of the Therns making mischief on Earth of the 1880s could be a lot of fun!

Update: Because I received a comment on this post with links to a Facebook page and a website of people who loved ‘John Carter’ and, like me, want to see another film made in this series, I’m adding these two links: https://www.facebook.com/groups/backtobarsoom/ and http://backtobarsoom.com/.

Below I’ll leave you with some of the numerous favorable reviews that really do more justice than I have here.

http://www.mountainx.com/movies/review/john_carter#.T2–z7ujHRY

http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/03/11/4-reasons-why-john-carter-was-surprisingly-awesome/

http://blogs.indiewire.com/leonardmaltin/john-cartermovie-review

http://www.americanprofile.com/articles/john-carter-movie-review/

Spring Movie Madness… and Science!

Can you believe the weather these days? Around Western New York it’s been in the high seventies for over a week. Most years we’ve had snow on the first day of Spring; this year we had record high temperatures; the flowers are blooming and leaves are popping out already! It never looks like this until late May around these parts. What’s going on?! We’ve been enjoying it immensely, but I’m afraid what may happen if we get snow in April!! Will it be in the nineties by May? Welcome to the future!

But right now I’ve run across a mess of movie trailers for upcoming films that are knockin’ my socks off! And I also have a couple of links to videos of my hero, Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tysonwhich I would like to share before the kids and I head out to enjoy another glorious day.

First up: Joss Whedon has made a new movie that at first looks like a horror story you’ve seem a hundred times; but which I’ve heard is something completely different and insanely original: Cabin in the Woods. Whatever Joss gets involved with, you can bet it will be thoughtful, mind-screwing fun! His other film, ‘The Avengers’ is also coming out shortly. Man, he’s a busy guy!!

There are a couple of movies debuting soon that are based on the ‘Snow White’ story. One of them; ‘Mirror, Mirror’ with Julia Roberts looks very fun. This other one looks incredibly creative and insanely cool: New ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Trailer is like Middle-earth with Dopey and Grumpy. And it stars Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman, who coincidentally stars as Thor in ‘The Avengers’, and is in ‘Cabin in the Woods’.  Talk about busy!

And speaking of creative and insane; Tim Burton is at it again, this time with a comedic re-imagining of my favorite soap opera of old: ‘Dark Shadows’. It stars Johnny Depp (of course!) as the sort-of lovable vampire Barnabas Collins in some truly outrageous make-up. New Dark Shadows Trailer. At first I was pissed that they weren’t doing a ‘serious’ remake; but this take on ‘Dark Shadows’ could be a stroke of genius. And the original was often rather funny, though not intentionally.

And if you haven’t heard about Ridley Scott’s sort-of re-imagining of his classic ‘Alien’ story, ‘Prometheus’, where have you been?! I’m very excited about this flick. I give you the European trailer, which is a bit less frenetically mind-numbing than the American one. Prometheus Trailer. I’m really looking forward to seeing this!

From Science Fiction to Science; I’ll leave you with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the Voice of Scientific Discovery for a New Generation. (He’s also going to be hosting a new version of Carl Sagan’s old show ‘Cosmos’)!

The Most Astounding Fact (Neil DeGrasse Tyson) 

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking at the U.S. Senate Commerce Hearing on the Future of Our Space Program.

One last thing I’d like to add. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started a separate blog to focus on Linux and Open Source topics. Here’s a link to it if you are interested: The Fearless Penguin.

Enjoy the weather!

A New Direction

I’ve been noticing for the past few months that my posts have been few and far between. This is starting to bother me. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say; I think it’s because there are so many things on my mind and I don’t feel like I have enough time to actually sit down and begin something.  What with home schooling and doing things with the kids; shopping; taking care of things around the house, (and of course, perusing the Internet for news of what’s going on in this insane world), by the time it comes to writing, I’m too darn exhausted! Even for the paltry blog posts I usually write, it can sometimes take a lot of time to organize and edit my thoughts into coherent words. But I want to write more. I need to write!

And my other problem is that I am still very intrigued (dare I say obsessed?) by Free and Open Source Software and operating systems; and particularly the world of ‘Linux’. I think Open Source is going to be more and more important in the future; hell, it’s transforming the world already and most people who use it aren’t even aware of it! But I specifically love the incredible diversity of Linux-based software and operating systems; the availability of it for anyone to use. And this is not from the point of view of a programmer, (though that could become quite lucrative in the future: see THIS). I would like to show average desktop/laptop computer users how useful Linux/Open Source is.

So I find myself gravitating toward writing about my current adventures with Linux and not writing so much about the rest of my life and interests. Though to be honest; my posts about Linux/Open Source stuff consistently get a lot more interest/hits than anything else I write about. And with the growing awareness of Linux, I’ve been thinking that it might be a good idea to create a separate blog just for indulging my obsession with desktop Linux and saving Dragonfly Dreaming for personal expression and all other aspects of life in general.

Now I just need to create my new Linux blog!

For the moment I’ll leave you with a lovely and brief video for a lovely almost-Spring day: The Beautiful Forest

I’ll be back!

Categories: General Ramblings
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