Writing in Strange Places Returns!

Friday, June 25, 2010

I spent last weekend traveling to Bellingham and Ruby Beach, and I must say that it was quite refreshing. I got to see places that I hadn't ever been to and sample food and experiences that were interesting and new (Ladyfest, Bellingham farmer's market, a beach in the late afternoon...). So, I decided to write in these places and keep up my Writing in Strange Places review - it was currently on hiatus for the summer and had been replaced solely by movie reviews. I hope you enjoy!

Ruby Beach
This is a non-traditional review, as it breaks the mold of sitting in restaurants and cafes and rating them, but I feel like this can also be applicable. Ruby Beach was a gorgeous location, if a little cold when we were there, on the Washington coast. If you have the chance to drive out to the Olympic National Park and you have an adventuring spirit, you definitely want to make the pilgrimage. I did not actually write while at the beach - I was too busy taking pictures of the crashing ocean, the beautiful myriad of rocks, and the treeline that surrounded us - but I was inspired to write a poem about it when we returned from the trip. I really think that you could sit on the fallen trees near the river and write for hours until the light went out of the sky or rain started to come down. The place was rugged and romantic and seemed farther away from civilization than it really was (the location was actually 20 miles away from Forks, of Twilight fame). The location provokes me to write poetry, which I rarely do these days, and I think that it was a legitimately wild experience to see all of those beautiful landscapes come together on this beach.

Pepper Sisters
This place was an excellent example of southwestern cooking. It did not claim to be a tex-mex place and thus the quality was much better than the run of the mill pseudo-Mexican food place. The food was spicy and the staff was kind, if a little inattentive, which made for a combination of enjoyment and clambering for water. Everything was fresh and, since they only open for dinner hours, we came right when the food was hot. The ambiance of the place was also nice; it was colorful and had a charming feel. I think that I would like to come back and spend more time just lounging and drinking drinks there.
For writers, I think that this place would be a great place to go if you had a little bit of extra cash and were either in Bellingham for a reason or live there already. I felt very relaxed as I was writing there and was not deterred in the least by any of the staff or my dining partners. I also felt that, due to the fact that it was not exceedingly full, no one would push me out the door too fast if I wanted to stay a little later.

Shrimp Shack
This place had a funky and fun appearance that, unfortunately, gave me false expectations of how the food would turn out. In the end, the food was average and sparing - unlike Ivars, they served a paltry amount of clam strips with an overwhelming amount of fries (and at a high price to boot!). I at least enjoyed the tables and their funny ketchup bottle holders - as pictured above - but I felt like the place was inattentive and just there to provide a bit of sustenance before pushing you out the door. I was writing away and that felt fine, but I don't think I would hang around there on a busy day (we were there on a Saturday evening and there were few people there). You pay at the counter and are generally treated with little interest, so I guess if you are ok with sitting in that kind of restaurant, then you would feel ok writing in this place.

The last place that I would have reviewed would the Anker cafe, but unfortunately we went for the open mic on it's last day in existance! It was a really great cafe and there was a lot of great art on the walls, but I guess since it is no longer around, that information is moot...

Read more of my writing in strange places reviews.
And check out some more posts featuring my photography.

Catching Up on Adventures

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

So, where have I been?
Well, recently my traveler's itch has been scratched with two trips in a three day span - first, ZAPP sent me to Bellingham with coworkers (and boyfriend) in tow to table at Ladyfest. Second, Josh and I drove to Ruby Beach for a daytime getaway; although, it was supposed to be partially a nighttime getaway, the sun sets so late in the day that we couldn't possibly get back at a reasonable hour and would have had to spend on a hotel.
Anyway, that basically means that I haven't been able to do a lot of blog-writing lately. But, instead, I took a lot of pictures of our journeys (dipping my feet in the old ponds, as you might say) and they are up on my DeviantArt account since they wouldn't all fit here.
Enjoy the shots from the trips below and make sure to check out the rest of them on DeviantArt!

Check out some more posts featuring my photography.

A Bunch of Reviews

Monday, June 7, 2010

This week has been a great source of media watching (at least for me, Jordan) and not much of it to my liking. I have also included a mini-series review in this one, so enjoy! Oh and, as always, spoilers are included below.

Review of Bronson:
I had the opposite problem with Bronson’s trailer than I had with Robin Hood’s. It was very well cut and made me want to see the movie, which turned out to be far less coherent and enjoyable. I actually didn’t finish watching it—I fast-forwarded through about the last 25 minutes. The cinematography was nice and Tom Hardy was excellent as Charles Bronson. His performance was riveting and there was one scene, where his face shifts from being drugged and vacant to suddenly present, that riveted me. He embodied his character and held each scene. The major issue that I had with this movie was that it didn’t have a good narrative; the story wasn’t clearly explained and jumped around with little explanation to the point that I wasn’t sure what was going on. I knew Bronson’s story from real life, so I was able to follow, but the movie was disjointed. The tone of the film was very dark and relentless in violence. Some people might enjoy this movie, I suppose—the first 20 minutes are okay—but it was not for me. It disturbed me and the story was not compelling enough for me to stick around through over an hour of endless violence and jail scenes.

Review of Splice:
This movie was utterly disturbing. When I heard the early reviews, I did not believe them, thinking perhaps that it was a traditional horror movie and that it had rubbed some people the wrong way. My perception of this movie was that it was akin to Alien, where the actors and actresses would be running around trying to avoid death by monster (albeit, I presumed Splice had some extra "blame the meddling scientists" rhetoric thrown in). However, when we started watching, the storyline turned out to be quite different. For the first half of the movie, I was enthralled by the theme of reluctant parenthood; though the female scientist does not want children with her male partner, she goes to all lengths to create a human/animal spliced creation and keep it safe once it is born. Yet, around the time that the male scientist attempts to drown their creation (and discovers it has underwater breathing capabilities), this movie took a turn for the worst. Although there may be a subculture that fantasizes about having sex with monsters, I was profoundly disturbed by the scene where the male scientist cheats on his wife with their creation - I felt it was unnecessary and gross, mainly because it was near incest in my mind since he had created and nurtured this thing. As well, when the female scientist gets raped by the same monster, I was horrified! Talk about complex plot devices and extravagant insanity... I felt, in the end, that this movie had potential to be great and that the special effects were astounding, yet the final material freaked me out and soiled my positive outlook on sex for a while.

Review of Bronson:
Honestly, I wondered why this movie needed to be made. I liked the way they put together the scenes and explored the internal desire of this man to be famous through a metaphorical clown act in his head, but most of the movie I spent questioning what was going on. There appeared to be no plot other than to showcase his bloody fights and that resulted in boredom and repetitiveness after a while. I felt that the main actor was very talented, however, because he portrayed the madness that accompanies Charlie Bronson quite well. I just did not feel that this movie provided anything but a crack in the door of violent crime pictures. Many films have gone far and above this movie in portraying the hard life of criminals while preserving some cinematic cohesion.

Review of Women in Trouble:
Another movie that had little plot and echoed the stylistic choices of movies like Paris, Je T'aime and Crash but without the same skill. This movie took you through the lives of 10 women who were all tangentially connected though they led radically different lives. In the end, only three women graced the screen (the accidentally pregnant porn star, the mother of a 13 year old who had left her in the care of her sister, and the 13 year old daughter who believed herself a witch), and I honestly feel that these were the only women I wanted to learn about anyway. Less is more is the mantra I would apply to this film. The woman who was being cheated on and the other porn stars who were mixed up in a crazy love triangle just did not have the skill of those three actresses and were not interesting to watch after a while. Interestingly enough, another movie has been made about the pregnant porn star (a sequel to this movie) called Elektra Luxx. I am really interested to see if this movie benefits from the focus on one character and her juicy storyline or if it falls into the same pits as Women in Trouble.

Review of Black. White.:
This mini-series was perhaps the best thing that I watched this weekend. It was made four years ago and details the lives of two families as they participate in an experiment where they trade races (via extensive makeup). A black family and white family come to live together in California and go through experiencing the race of the other family to see if and where racism exists in our society. I found that they focused a lot on the white experience of being black for a few days more so than the black experience of being white, while the black family was shown in their relations to each other and towards race as a whole. This served to show that this black family, at least the parents, had an awareness of race that the white family just did not have and needed to discover. I also found it interesting that some were profoundly changed by the experience of living in the other person's skin while others found their beliefs to be staunchly correct. It is very hard to go into all the details about this intricate experiment, but I think that it was an enjoyable and thought-provoking mini-series that is a great discussion starter - even if it just gets you wondering about what it would be like to don that much makeup every day.

Make sure to take a look at the other movie reviews Liberty and I wrote and our other collaborative work: comic alterna-history zine The Bearniverse.