Archive for June, 2014

Empire State Tattoo Expo.

Monday, June 30th, 2014

A weekend ago there was a tattoo expo a block from my house. Now, I don’t have any tattoos but I love every kind of art and did I mention it was a block from my house? I called up Snorth and off we went to the tattoo expo.


I didn’t take any pictures while I was there because I really wanted to focus on looking at all the displays and I took the risk that everything I saw would be on the internet. Luckily I was right, so all the pictures you see here were pulled off of the artist’s/company’s Facebook pages. We’ve all seen a great many tattoos in our lives and I was bracing myself for some unfortunate artwork. This guy I saw once comes to mind. I don’t think I saw any sub-par work. Every single artist I saw was above-average to out-of-this-world amazing. I could not believe the level of skill I was witnessing. I’m going to talk about three artists in particular, but here’s a quick glance at some of the other artists.

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The talent, it was awe-inspiring. The first artist I walked past that knocked me out of my socks was Nathan Mould. He hails from Pittsburgh and his work is mostly black and white geometric using pointillism to create gradations.

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He was selling a t-shirt and he could have charged fifty bucks for it, I would have bought it anyway.


Then the next two artists were focusing mainly on the vibrantly colored watercolor technique incorporating a computerized collage feel. I saw Ivana Belakova, originally from Slovakia, now working in L.A. She’s on the right.


I loved that she could tattoo any subject, but always in her very distinct style. You want a car? She does a car.


You want a portrait of your dog? You got it.


Or your kid? No problem.


How about a beet? Now everyone will want a beet. I sure do.


I loved her bird and animal work most, though.

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And the last artist I encountered was Justin Nordine (on the left). His studio is presently in Massachusetts. Snorth and I ended up talking to him while he prepared to tattoo a rainbow chameleon on a man’s thigh.

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Later when I went to his Facebook page, I saw the drawing of the rainbow chameleon and the finished piece! (No surprise, it came out brilliantly.)

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Here are the websites of all these artists. If you want to get something done by them, be prepared to wait several months. They have a long list.

While weaving up and down the aisles, I noticed an enormous inflatable something-or-other in the middle area. When we circled back around I realized it was a booth with giant jelly jar of moonshine on top from the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Company. I found a picture of the booth elsewhere, you’ll need to imagine it in a big open convention hall.


I asked if I could buy a jar and they said no, the law prohibits them from selling the jar. What I could have was a shot. A shot of moonshine. I don’t really drink ever and it was 11:30 in the morning, but when an opportunity presents itself you take it. I was given the choice of original, lemon drop, cherry or charred.


I voted for cherry, hoping that the fruit would mellow the inevitable burn of the 100-proof moonshine.


I said I just wanted a taste, but the nice man poured me about two shots worth and then threw four cherries in. Hoo boy. I sniffed it. It smelled like something you would clean a hospital with.

I took a sip. Have you ever drank poison? I imagine what happened is what would happen if you drank poison. First, my chest got all warm on the inside and my left eyelid decided to close. It was done for the day. Then I ate a cherry. My nose-bridge began sweating and my tongue went numb. All I could taste was metal. I am not exaggerating. Snorth was watching me, she can attest to all of this. I politely handed my still-full cup back to the nice man, said thank you as best as I could with my tongue (“thakkoo”) and tried to continue on my way. I turned to talk to Snorth and she said, “Yeah, you reek of rubbing alcohol.” Fumes were coming off of me. But now I can say I’ve tried moonshine. Another thing on my list of things to impress youngsters. “Gather ’round children, lemme tell you about the time I tried NyQuil-flavored-propane.”

I went to Disney’s Realm of Thaumaturgy! Part 2 of 2.

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Parades! I love parades. For a lazy person such as myself they are a thing of beauty. YOU sit still, and THEY walk past you. I always feel like a debauched Roman lord when I watch a parade. “Yes, yes, go by with your instruments and dancers and entertain me en route. I shall sit here and wave if so inclined.” Since the Disney people have all the money ever in the world they put on a helluva parade, I can tell you. The first one I saw was the 3:00 Festival of Fantasy parade. I got there early and staked out a good spot on the curb. First the Grand Marshalls went by. It was a family and a newlywed couple riding in an oldey-timey car.

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And then there were dancers with Belle and the Beast behind them. I have to say, the picking of the floats and what’s on them got weirder and more arbitrary as they went on, almost as if the parade organizers had walked into an enormous warehouse and cobbled together floats from pre-existing bits of other floats. You’ll see what I mean. So first, Beauty and the Beast.


On the same float was Cinderella, the sisters from Frozen and the two main characters from The Princess and The Frog.

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Following that was an elaborate float for Tangled, the Rapunzel movie. Which doesn’t make any sense. Tangled came out four years ago and earned $600 million. Frozen came out last year and brought in 1.2 BILLION. People are obsessed with it. I hear that damn “Let It Go” song everywhere I go (really, Korean Grocery Store? Twice? Is that necessary?). Frozen is just a part of a float shared by four movies and Tangled gets its own entire float. And to make a float for Frozen is easy as hell. It’s all about snow and ice which is nice and non-specific. Take a pre-existing float, paint it blue with snowflakes, hang icicles from every horizontal surface and have it blow powdery stuff that resembles snow. I mean, I’m not implying that any float Disney would build would be easy, but that is infinitely less complicated than most.

So, the Tangled float. Loved it. Men were riding giant swinging axes:


And on the back was an animatronic goat chewing its cud and turning its head from side to side. He was my favorite.


Right behind that was The Little Mermaid float which was unbelievable. Each float was preceded by dancing people in costumes and the ones for The Little Mermaid looked like they came directly from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (a movie about Australian drag queens). I loved these costumes.

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And then the float itself. Wowsers. Everything on it moved – the fish doing conga lines, the starfish, the guy at top, Sebastian. The rear of the float blew bubbles. I was so impressed.

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After that came the Peter Pan float which I was not too blown away by, but I’ve never seen the movie so I imagine it was more impactful to someone who has reference. Loved the glittery rainbow though. I want that in my house. Riding behind Tinkerbell was a huge mechanized crocodile making a loud ticking noise. I thought that was due to faulty construction, but Snorth informed me when I got home that the crocodile swallows a clock in the movie and it’s supposed to tick. Good to know.

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I saw the float coming up next and was like, why is the girl from Brave riding a giant plaid cannon? I was wrong. She’s riding a giant plaid BAGPIPE. New goal in life: ride a giant plaid bagpipe. But not while wearing a full-length crushed velvet dress and twenty pound wig in 90-degree weather. Skip that part. Keep the riding-the-bagpipe part only.

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Then there was the Sleeping Beauty float. Wisely, since the movie with Angelina Jolie just came into theaters, the focus was on Maleficent. I didn’t even see the woman dressed at Sleeping Beauty walk by. It was led by the three fairies. Here’s something I can’t figure out. They were wearing hoop skirts and gliding along on some kind of wheeled platform hidden under their skirts, but you could see their hands, so how did they control it? Was it like a Segway and they used their feet? Or was it being remote-controlled by someone off-site? If you know the answer to this I would greatly appreciate it. Chasing the fairies were men dressed like extras from a Cirque du Soleil production walking on stilts and flapping big purple wings.

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The Maleficient float was actually a giant fire-breathing dragon. It looked like something directly from Burning Man. You could see the man controlling it (he’s sitting in the neck area) and there were all these visible cogs and cranks. It definitely was a (pleasant) departure from the other, more polished floats.

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Here’s where things start to get weird. The Pinocchio float comes by with the bubble ribbon dancers. Okay. Haven’t seen that film in over twenty years so maybe bubbles and ribbons play a big role.


The finish to the parade is Mickey and Minnie being led by the Katy Perry Dancers! That’s what I called them anyway.


Seriously. Look at these pictures of Katy Perry. Its spot-on.

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The Mouse Couple was riding on a float covered in the ballet-dancing hippos from Fantasia. But no other references to Fantasia, just the hippos (and maybe an ostrich from the same scene). This was the float that felt especially like “Quick, make a float for Mickey! Hippos! Great! That’ll work!”

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Since I figured I would most likely never return to the Magic Kingdom I wanted to stick around for the Electric Parade and the fireworks, but I didn’t know what to do with myself for most of the day. I went to Belle’s castle and did the interactive tour which was clearly meant for little kids, but I tried to not resemble a creeper as much as is possible when you’re in the midst of a group of five-year-olds alone with no children in tow. I stood in line for what I thought was a boat ride through Ariel the mermaid’s cave dwelling but it ended up being for pictures with Ariel, so I quickly snuck out of there, but not before getting some pics of the glass nudibranch light fixtures.

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I eventually wandered back in Adventureland and opted to go to The Enchanted Tiki Room. Holy Moses. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in the 1960s, fret no more, it can be achieved in The Enchanted Tiki Room. The second it ended I walked back around to the front to go again. The second time around I imagined myself holding a sweaty glass filled with Midori and pineapple juice and dressed like a character in Mad Men. It totally worked. It really does transport you. I highly recommend it but a warning: this was the least culturally-sensitive thing I saw while I was there. I flinched numerous times during the experience. Just something to be aware of. RAY. CIST.

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As I sauntered back through Frontierland to get to Main Street where the Electric Parade happened, I saw the moochie egret again. It was like four hours later and he was still there, moochin’.


The Electric Parade was super-cool. Not only did I feel like a Roman emperor, because of all the cool lights I felt like a futuristic Roman emperor. The kids around me went absolutely crazy, screaming and pointing and dancing wildly. Normally I’m quite the curmudgeon and I would have been all GET OFF MY LAWN about it, but it was so sweet to see and this is their special place, not mine, so I let them accidentally kick and step on my fingers. This was the only remotely good picture I got because darkness and movement is not my camera’s strong suit, but there are a million and one videos of the actual parade for you to watch on youtube if you want to see the whole thing.


The fireworks were meh. I realized that they can’t have a fourth of July-style show every night, but I left about five minutes in and headed back to the hotel. I craved the embrace of air conditioning. I feel like I got a sense of the place. If I go back to Orlando I will go to Epcot or the Kennedy Space Center. Momma needs more mental stimulation in her theme parks.

Other cool stuff I saw at the Magic Kingdom:

A lampworked clear glass model of Cinderella’s castle.


Gaston’s restaurant. I sing bits of Gaston’s song from Beauty and the Beast all the time (“I USE ANTLERS IN ALL OF MY DECORATING!!!”) and it made me happy to see he had a restaurant. (Also, “AND EV’RY LAST INCH OF ME’S COVERED WITH HAIR!!!”)


The mosaics in Cinderella’s castle telling her story. They are spectacular.

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The Crystal Pavilion in Frontierland. It was an expensive eating establishment so I didn’t go in, but it looked gorgeous from the outside.

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And of course, I saw two beasties and got very excited. One, a lizard with a red flap on his chin. He waved it at me.


And a big white ibis that was walking around the waterways.


I went to Disney’s Realm of Thaumaturgy! Part 1 of 2.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Oh lordy, my last few weeks of work was the complete absence of awesome. I didn’t walk into my apartment before 12:05 at night any night this past week, Saturday and Sunday included. I was miserable and exhausted. Then I was told I would have to fly to Florida with the team to build the pitch deck for them. The meeting would be in Orlando. Now, a bunch of years back I had to fly to a conference in Orlando that I was told was on or adjacent to the Disney property and I got to see not a damn thing while I was there. I blogged about my regret. I would not allow this to occur again. So when it was brought to my attention that I had to go on this epic journey, I quietly informed my boss that I had never been to Disney World and gosh, the meeting ends at 11:00 a.m. and did I have to fly back immediately or could I maybe perhaps kinda sorta stick around all day and then fly home on the red-eye? And I made this face. My boss, who is a lovely and kind mistress, not only agreed to let me stay, she got me an additional night in the hotel so I could fly back Tuesday morning. Seriously, she’s a good woman. Then I had a meeting with my co-workers to discuss which theme park I should go to. It was agreed that I would be best-suited for Epcot (SCIENCE!), but since it was my first time there I insisted that I go to Disney’s original creation. I promptly got a ticket for one day of revelry at the Magic Kingdom ($105.00) and suddenly I wasn’t so sad about my poopy work schedule. The meeting happened, it went great, everyone else got on their planes and I went back to the room to change from tasteful meeting garb into the only white t-shirt I own and get my camera. First, let me start with the fact that we stayed in a hotel that was part of the airport. You might think that would be awful. You would be wrong. The airport/hotel was a beautiful atrium with palm trees and fountains.

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Allow me to introduce you to the joy of staying in an airport hotel. When I was leaving I had a morning flight. I am not a morning person. I woke up an hour and a half before my flight was scheduled to leave, got dressed, collected my bags, went downstairs and checked into Delta because the Delta counter was across from the elevators. That’s it. There’s no “We gotta leave early because what if there’s an accident on the highway and traffic and etc.” It simplifies the whole process. I am a convert now. Back to Magic Kingdom. I changed my shirt, got my camera and happily went over to the concierge’s desk. “I want to go to the Magic Kingdom now please,” I said. “Great,” the concierge said. “Where did you park your car?” “I flew here. I don’t have a car,” I responded. “Well,” he said, “You can take mass transit which will cost about $75 each way (!) or you can rent a car for about $40.” I have never rented a car. I have stood next to Cricket while he has rented cars and ridden in said cars, but I have never done it on my own. I’m an adult, I can handle this, I thought to myself. I shall rent a car and drive to Disney World. So I did. I rented a jaunty red compact Toyota with absolutely no pick-up which made me the least-favorite driver every time I merged onto a highway. I got to Disney World and then once I was on the property I drove and drove and drove until I got to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. I was then presented with the choice of parking in Heroes or Villains. I was like are you kidding me? I’m parking in Hades or Ursula, no discussion. I got there and was directed to park in… Zurg. Who the eff is Zurg? I want to park in not-Zurg! But Jafar was full and there was no Hades or Ursula options, so Zurg it was.

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I took the tram from the parking lot to what I thought was the gate. I was incorrect. I now had to take a monorail to get to the actual park. I felt like this was my Waiting for Godot. I would travel trying to get to the Magic Kingdom and never arrive. But eventually I did arrive, got off the monorail and was immediately hit in the face with the smell of jalapeños. Which seemed profoundly odd to me. That seems like a weird choice of odor to greet your visitors with. In front of me was Main Street and “When You Wish Upon A Star” was playing which caused me to feel feelings and I’m not gonna lie, I got choked up. Caught a little childhood memory in my throat there.

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I’m not a big amusement park ride aficionado, so I planned to walk around the sections of the kingdom (Main Street, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland) and see the architecture and the surrounding design elements. I loved the attention to detail. Not only was the exterior of Main Street well-done, a great amount of care was put into the interior elements of all the buildings.

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There was a brass band playing in the middle of the road and their jazzy rendition of “Under the Sea” is fantastic.

I realized shortly after arrival I did not have sunblock and I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Orlando is located directly under the surface of the sun. It’s a hot swampland and I was going to roast if I didn’t do something soon. I zipped into a gift shop (one of several thousand billion I saw on the premises that day) and purchased the hat with the biggest brim. Then I wore it all day. If you happened to see me at any point, this is what I looked like.


Here’s the best part: anywhere else in the world I would be mocked for sporting such an idiotic headwear, but I was by far one of the least-silly-looking people walking around. There were people wearing the pointy wizard’s hat that Mickey rocks in Fantasia, for crying out loud. I was at the mild end of the spectrum. After I examined all the buildings on Main Street I found myself in Frontierland which is a hodge-podge of the Wild West and a bit of N’Awlins and some other stuff, it’s definitely America in the 1800s, but the precise location is vague. There’s a fully functional Louisiana steam paddleboat on a river, people. But if you know anything about me you will not be surprised to find out that my favorite thing in Frontierland was… an egret trying to mooch food from visitors. This guy was fearless. I walked right up to him. He did not care.

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After I sauntered through Frontierland I entered Tomorrowland. I think this is my favorite of the kingdoms because it featured several of my most cherished Disney/Pixar characters.


And all the windows were hexagons. My favorite polygon. If the future is all about hexagonal windows, I’m in.


And is that a Shakespeare pun? Delightful.


I was starving by this point so I decided to get some lunch. That was a mistake. In Tomorrowland was a hot dog stand and I got the special. It seemed harmless enough and the girl who worked behind the counter could not have been nicer (from Rochester, NY, just moved there, fresh out of college). I got a hot dog with bacon, lettuce, tomato and a splash of ranch dressing on it. For like seven bucks. And it was… not great. Not bad, but elementary-school cafeteria-level cuisine. About an hour after that I walked past a stand selling chocolate-covered frozen bananas and as an homage to the show Arrested Development I got a banana. That, too, was expensive and sucky. I spoke to people when I got back and it was the consensus that the fancy restaurants where it costs about forty dollars per person and you need a reservation to get in are good, but the street vendors leave much to be desired. I had no intention of waiting for a fancy meal, but I saw families bringing in their own food and drink and I think that was a smart way to go. If they let you bring in sandwiches and juice, you should do that. Spend your money on a handheld fan that squirts water simultaneously, or a lighty-uppy spinny pointless thing for night-time (I wanted one but I restrained myself).

Since I’m not a big fan of rides (I tend to get motion-sickness and no one enjoys that) I was told to go on “It’s A Small World” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” and to visit Belle’s castle. I walked past “Pirates” and saw this:


And proceeded to keep right on walking. Did I mention it was a 90-degree muggy sunny pit of despair that day? I was not going to stand in line for over an hour for a ride that was two minutes long. That’s the benefit of not being a fan of any of this – if there was a line for something, I just shrugged and went to something else. It’s all the same to me. Luckily it was only a 35-minute wait to get onto a boat for “Small World” and a large portion of the waiting was done in an air-conditioned area. If you were worried that “Small World” had changed in any way since the last time you rode on it, rest assured it has not.

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I got my own row in the the boat and watched the animatronic ethnically-one-note children sing the song and shimmy and wiggle and while the PC part of me was like, “I’m a wee bit uncomfortable,” the theater-tech part of me was enjoying the hell out of it. If I hadn’t had to wait thirty-five minutes I would have gone on it again. Disney is known for being not particularly sensitive to the many cultures of people of this world, and the best part of the park to truly appreciate this complete disregard is in Adventureland. Or, as I liked to call it, “Ehhhh, just put all the brown people over here. African, Indigenous Australian, Native Alaskan – who cares. And throw some themes of cannibalism in there too, it’s not quite offensive enough.”


Now I’m at a bit of an disadvantage here because I grew up with an art historian mother who collects sub-Saharan African art. That means I know exactly what it looks like, which meant I knew exactly when the Disney people screwed it up. For example there was a store called “Zanzibar” (an island off of the coast of Tanzania) where they were selling items from South Africa (nope, look at a map), including ostrich eggs that had Costa-Rican frogs painted on them (really?) and what appeared to be Guatemalan bracelets (I give up). It was here in Adventureland that I figured out why every so often I would get a massive whiff of jalepeño. There are phenomenal plants and gardens all over the park:

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And one of the plants decided it was mating season. In the process it got all musky and libidinous and the scent it was putting out was very green-peppery and chlorophilly. If anyone hears about a creepy woman walking completely alone through the park sniffing various plants while wearing a Goofy hat, that’s me.

Next: the rest of my day-long excursion.

Kitchen counter progress!

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Remember when I did my test run on my test plank and colors that looked totally fine looked weird after I poured the resin on it? Here, look for yourself. Note the colors pre-resin:

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And post-resin.


You’ll note the lighter color disappears completely, so I flipped the board over and did further color testing. I had to go really light to get the color I wanted post-resin pour. Which is why you’ll notice the highlight lines on my countertop right now are far too light. They will mellow and the darker tones will darken under the plastic-y resin.

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Next: fishies. After that: pebbles. I’ll explain. I wanted something to transition the countertop into the backsplash. I tried a bunch of different techniques, all of which were various types of fail. I finally came across some ceramic tiles that look like pebbles in pale green and dark brown on

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I was so excited when the tiles arrived. Do you know what the glaze is? It’s crystalline pottery glaze! I collect crystalline pottery. I wrote a blog entry on it. It’s all going to tie together! Huzzah! I proceeded to pull the tiles off of the backing because A) there are no straight lines I can put across the back edge, and B) I want to mix and mingle the two colors. After I’ve finished the fishies I will start laying out the tiles at the back edge of the countertop against the wall. Then I will have them go a wee bit up the wall, creating a less harsh line betwixt the countertop and the backsplash. BECAUSE I AM A GENIUS. Hopefully.


Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

We got yer charts here! Charty charts, fresh and hot!

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And this one which is actually useful.


Where is “rat”? Didn’t rats cause the Great Big Pile of Dead People back in days when we harvested mud? (I’m sorry, I get all my history information from Monty Python.) No more with the rats and the corpses? We’ve moved onto snails? Okay.

Movie reviews.

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Ugh, what a terrible two-week chunk. I worked a 36-hour day and it screwed up my sleep cycle for many days after. It was not a good time. However, in and around these weeks of three simultaneous pitches I managed to see a few movies I would like to discuss. But first, did you know there were IRIDESCENT HOLOGRAPHIC-TYPE SNAKES??? WHY WAS I NOT NOTIFIED OF THIS NATURAL PHENOMENA???

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Holy crap, that is awesome. If I had one of those I would stare at it all day. Happy happy rainbow snake for me to love and pet and call George.

Okay, sorry, movies. I saw Paranorman! And it was surprisingly good! I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I know I’m supposed to like Tim Burton movies but I just don’t. Visually they’re excellent but plot-wise I find them perpetually lacking. After Frankenweenie and The Nightmare Before Christmas I felt like the spooky-ooky stop-motion animation children’s movie bed had been made but I was pleasantly proven wrong. Paranorman has a plot! It’s a decent plot, too. The animation is fun and sassy and creative. I do have to say that it is a scary movie. Like, if I was thirteen this would scare the pants off of me. If you’re not keen on zombies or creepy angry little girls with demon powers then this might not be the movie for you. I mainly saw it because A) it was streaming on Netflix and B) I saw this preview in the theater when I went to see Frozen (ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THAT DAMN SONG, I’M SICK OF IT) and was immediately smitten. I have no idea if the movie is good but I have higher hopes now that I’ve seen Paranorman.

I saw 20 Feet From Stardom. It’s a documentary about background singers. I know that sounds possibly uninteresting, but no, it was a compelling film. I loved it. There’s not much I can tell you about it because it doesn’t really have a story line. It’s basically these different people, mostly women, talking about how their love of music began and who they sang with and where they are now. It won Best Documentary at the Oscars this year. I think it is also streaming on Netflix right now. You should check it out.