Sunday, February 9, 2020

Movie Review: Abominable

Last week we did a movie night and watched Abominable. I had kinda high expectations because the animation style looked great and clearly a violin played (haha) an important part. I was NOT disappointed! I give it like a 4 out of 5 stars, maybe even 4.5. It was super cute, didn't have super scary parts (yes it's a kids movie but sometimes they have random scary parts), had some funny stuff that was not in the trailers, and had a decent plot! Way more than one usually expects from a kids movie.
It is by Dreamworks, and surprisingly didn't have crude/adult humor! It was overall a sweet movie about family and being together. AND there was a female lead with a male counterpart and there was NO romance! They didn't end up together! You'd think there'd be more kids movies without major romance threads.
The female lead plays the violin and it's actually a plot point and I hope kids are impressed by the classical music and desire to play!

Some spoilers ahead.

There is a creature called the Whooping Snake and he is totally cute, harmless, and hilarious. He says "whooOOP" when he pops up, and he does it a few times kinda unexpectedly throughout the movie. ALSO wait for the credits. A story in pictures is told. It's cute, UNEXPECTED, then a happy ending.
The henchmen are great. One is named Dave. He gets darted, makes a joke that they probably paid really good money to make (it involves the Whooping Snake and Tag Team song). Another henchman, when handing a suitcase of money to a witness, says "It's-a-bribe" and that has been quoted several times in my household.

Spoilers ahead.

There is a big plot twist about halfway or more through the movie in which the true villain is revealed and for once it isn't the crotchety rich old man! Truly was a stunning twist.
There is a scary scene near the end (at the climax) where the bad guys have the kids surrounded and the yeti gets tranquilized and someone falls off a bridge (but there's a rope to hold on to) and that was probably the scariest part but it's the climax so you have to have unfortunate things happen. 

All in all, I could watch it again. The art style, the humor, the plot, all worked well together.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Crochet Pattern - Nintendo Switch dock cover

I was looking for a gift for my little brother, and I came across this pattern for a Nintendo Switch Dock Cover:
http://www.christineswilliams.com/2017/05/pokemon-pikachu-nintendo-switch-dock-cover-crochet-intarsia/
I liked the concept but not the design - I'm not really into eight-bit pokemon. I came up with my own design which is an NES controller. In the end it was a little too long, but that's better than too small.
I did a green background, but any color really would work for that.
In all I had 6 colors: the background (green), white, two grays (dark gray, silver), black, and red. You only need a tiny bit of red, for the two buttons (literally two stitches). The white I used for the border of the controller, the dark grey was for the main body of the controller, and the silver was for the center bars. Black was used for the X controller and the select/start buttons.
My stitch dimensions were 42 rows with 49 stitches per row.

I started with a chain 50. The last stitch is the turning chain, so each row will have 49 st then finish with a chain 1 and turn.
I did 21 rows with the background color. This is the back of the piece, it's boring.
Now it's time for the front.
I did three rows of the background color, for a nice border, and I start and end each row with three stitches of the background color. I then finish the front with three rows of the background color, to finish it out. After completing, fold in half and stitch up both sides to finish.

This pattern is all single crochet, I think a tight stitch is helpful since it's a screen protector. I should have written down what type of hook I used but I do not recall - I think I used what is recommended by Christine so a 2.75mm. Keeping the yarns from getting tangled was difficult - stay cognizant of your threads and untangle before they get hopelessly intertwined.



Color Key: 
A is green (background color), B is white, C is dark gray, D is silver, E is black, and F is red.


NOTE:
All rows are written left to right, but obviously when you crochet, you are taking turns starting on the left then right then left. I made this patter from a spreadsheet and failed to take that into account. So I believe it is on the even rows, read right to left with the stitches (the black X should be on the left of the pattern).

Pattern as a Spreadsheet
Row 1: 50A
Row 2-21: 49A (this finishes the back)
Row 22-24: 49A
Row 25-26: 3A, 43B, 3A
Row 27: 3A, 1B, 13C, 15D, 13C, 1B, 3A
Row 28: 3A, 1B, 41C, 1B, 3A
Row 29: 3A, 1B, 5C, 3E, 5C, 15D, 13C, 1B, 3A
Row 30: 3A, 1B, 5C, 3E, 33C, 1B, 3A
Row 31: 3A, 1B, 5C, 3E, 5C, 15D, 13C, 1B, 3A
Row 32: 3A, 1B, 2C, 9E, 2C, 15D, 13C, 1B, 3A
Row 33: 3A, 1B, 2C, 9E, 33C, 1B, 3A
Row 34: 3A, 1B, 2C, 9E, 2C, 15B, 2C, 3B, 2C, 3B, 3C, 1B, 3A
Row 35: 3A, 1B, 5C, 3E, 5C, 1B, 5E, 3B, 5E, 1B, (2C, 1B, 1F, 1B)x2, 3C, 1B, 3A
Row 36: 3A, 1B, 5C, 3E, 5C, 15B, 2C, 3B, 2C, 3B, 3C, 1B, 3A
Row 37: 3A, 1B, 5C, 3E, 33C, 1B, 3A
Row 38: 3A, 1B, 13C, 15D, 13C, 1B, 3A
Row 39: 3A, 43B, 3A
Row 40-42: 49A
Fold in half, with the threads/backside on the outside, then stitch up the sides and tidy up the back. Flip right-side-out and you're good to go!


And here is my finished product, on my brother's Switch dock.

I hope you find this pattern enjoyable! You are welcome to make your own pattern like I did, just using the dimensions given here and in the source pattern. Have fun with it!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Migraine Relief - Daith Piercing

I get migraines. My friends know this. I've tried different medicines and was on a daily suppressant (beta blocker) but wanted to step down from that. I worked with my doctor and halved my dosage with no change, so we halved it again with still no change, so I stepped completely off it and started getting migraines every other weekend or so (just like I use to). I get them when I hit my triggers, like irregular meals, stress, dehydration, different weather patterns, and hormonal changes. I can avoid some of these triggers but not all, and even the avoidable ones happen sometimes because it's hard being so structured. 
My friend Cory got this ear piercing (daith) and it basically solved her migraine issues. She said I should try it and I figured why not, if I don't like it I can just take the earring out and keep going on my migraine journey. 
When I was up in CT for Christmas, I went with Cory and my mom to get the piercing (I was the only one getting pierced - Cory was there for guidance and my mom was with me for moral support). We went to Eminence Ink in Willimantic, CT, and had Lily helping us (she was the one who had done Cory's piercing).

Interesting fact from the Red Cross - if I had gotten my piercing in MD, I might have be banned from donating blood for a year. Since I got it done in CT, I'm good to donate. This screen capture actually says tattoo but I believe it applies to piercings as well since they are done in the same facilities (unless you use a mall kiosk). The more you know....

Let me be upfront about this: it was the most painful experience I have ever willing done. It was not as painful as my four-wheeling accident (where I got thrown from my quad, tumbled down a mountain, then got run over by my quad and tumbled further down the mountain) which involved a back injury and those are really the worst (also dislocated my knee and pretty sure got concussed).
I went at noon and had a granola bar before hand and another one in my pocket for afterwards. You don't want to do this on an empty stomach cause you could pass out - kinda like when donating blood.
I was seated in a chair in a private room. Lily cleaned the area and then started the piercing. The first pierce wasn't bad, felt kinda like a normal ear lobe piercing, but then it kept going because it's not a straight-through piercing, it's kind of a hook so you have to go in (not too bad), come out (bad), then I think slide the piercing tool out (getting even worse), then get the earring bar in (I was saying OUCH OUCH OUCH and getting really pale at this point), then twist on the balls on either end but we had to take a break before finishing that because I was not doing well. I nearly puked and nearly passed out. Lily had a standing fan next to the chair so she turned that on and gave me a lollipop for sugar and a cup of water and I was shaking SO BADLY and then I dry heaved. She said it was the adrenaline from the anticipation which was true but also it hurt really badly and for whatever reason, my body likes to puke when I'm in pain. It's annoying. So once I calmed down again (i.e. stopped uncontrollably shaking and had some color back in my face), she went back at it with twisting the balls on the ends of the earring. There wasn't much blood but there was much pain but at this point the worst was over. I then paid for it and some cleaning/numbing spray for it (about $70 for the piercing and $5 for the spray) and they said I really needed to get some lunch.
The piercing itself would have been quick if I had not nearly passed out and puked. It's a quick clean, stab, stab, twist, twist, done. But I think it took over an hour due to me not handling things well. In the end, here's the bar:

I can't see it when looking in a mirror, and you can only see it if you're looking at the correct angle at my ear (clearly per the picture, it is visible from at least one angle). 
The piercing was done on December 26. I used the cleaning spray three times a day with a cotton ball in CT and a cotton square in MD. It was super sore right away (normal) but then it started feeling infected, like warm and tender and I got worried. I was told by my sib-in-laws about ear syringes which sound scary but are actually similar to a water pick but, important distinction, with a soft tip. I got one from CVS (can't find it online but it's similar to this) to clear out the ridge where the top of the earring is (it's too tight for a q-tip) and then the inflammation went away and all is now well! In hind sight, Lily had told me to wash the area before putting the cleaner on it, but I couldn't figure out how to get in there (also it really hurt to touch it). Squirting water in there is the way to go!

Now the real question, will this piercing fix my migraine frustrations and lower their frequency? Well, truly only time will tell. I have only had it a week, but no migraines in that week! Of note, the last 5 years I have gotten a migraine over the Christmas to New Years time, and this year I did not get a migraine. So that's nice! I will aim to update in a month or two and say how things are going.

UPDATE:
It's been one day less that two months, but Tuesdays is when I do my blog so we're updating at this point.
Sad news first: I have had migraine since getting my daith pierced. I actually had the worst one in recent memory which kept me up at night and made me sleep deprived and I went to to Urgent Care which was a first for me and they gave me a shot for the pain.
Good news next: I think it is helping somewhat. I have noticed that my ear slightly hurts at times when I could be getting a migraine coming in but instead it's just some ear discomfort which is much preferred over a migraine.
Ending Thoughts: For some people, the daith piercing totally works and their migraines are gone. For other people, it does nothing and they still have migraines. For me, it is helping a little and maybe as it heals (it takes about a year to heal) it'll do more to fight the migraines? Who knows.

Double Movie Review: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and A Wrinkle in Time

Recently (i.e. yesterday which was a holiday) Mark and I watched two movies from Redbox and they were nice one-time in-your-home viewing experiences.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms:
This one looked nice and if you didn't pay attention too closely, that plot twist could probably surprise you. Sadly, this one hits that bad zone where it's plot and theme are aimed at children but then it throws in some scary stuff that makes it ineligible for most kids (creepy carnival with a mass of mice that swarm into a bear-shaped monster, for example). Reminds me of the Straight No Chaser song "Christmas Can-Can" which mentions "that mouse-king thing freaks me out *scream*". The visuals were nice, the acting was good, and the outfits were great. It wasn't a bad viewing experience, However, I was glad we didn't have any little nieces or nephews watching, and I am fine with never seeing it again.

A Wrinkle in Time:
This one has been out for a bit and I admit, I've never read the book. I rented the audio-book but then we didn't get around to listening to it so it went back to the library. So I came into this one not knowing what to expect other than it's a classic and many people like the book. Apparently the movie strays far from the book. It was a bright visual experience but again, it's aimed at kids but there is a rather scary part where the little brother basically gets possessed by evil (bright red eyes, red lines spreading across his face). It has some good points, about the importance of love and being kind to other people even when they're mean to you. I think it was fairly good acting. But I didn't understand a lot of why/how things were going on. I don't think I'll watch this again but I am interested in getting the audio-book again and actually listening to it this time. Might been good for your pre-teens or teens, to show the importance of kindness and not assuming you know someone's backstory.

Movie Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars Episode IX has arrived and let me tell you, I was fairly excited about it but didn't want to get my hopes up too much since there is so much division going on and I didn't want to be disappointed.
I was not disappointed. I liked it ALOT! I was sitting there with my husband; while he was all calm, I was SUPER excited and it just kept getting better in my opinion.

Here's where the spoilers start so if you for some reason are reading a movie review but don't want plot points revealed, then back out now.

So let's start with the scary - I admit I had to close my eyes during the sorta strobe light scene with the Emperor because (1) the lighting was messing with my eyes and (2) it was kinda scary. They did a good job of being spooky. I didn't like it but I'm pretty sure that's how I was suppose to feel - he's a bad guy and he's not in good shape (because he's bad). Ian McDiarmid did a great job of consistently portraying a creepy evil person through all three trilogies of the Star Wars franchise.

Then we move on, sadly, to what I didn't like. There were two kisses and I didn't like either of them but I ended up being fine with one of them because someone immediately died (that should make it pretty obvious what scene I'm talking about). The other kiss was purely to get the LGBQ check mark and seemed out of place. I prefer my sci-fi without romance, just let a group of friends save the galaxy and maybe redeem a villain. No need for pairing up.

Now we get to what I did like - basically all the rest of the movie. I liked the decisions they made, the dialogue, and the plot. I'm especially happy that Chewie didn't die. He died in the Expanded Universe which is now not canon and I feared for his safety in each movie (until one of the Original Trio died and then I'm thinking they wouldn't kill Han/Luke/Leia AND Chewie in the same movie so he should be safe for now).
Just like in The Last Jedi, I really like fight scenes with two lightsaber users working together vs. whomever. I might just look up the fight scene from The Last Jedi to remember how excellent it was.
I liked the usage of old footage of Leia and Luke, showing that she had made a lightsaber, getting to use the lightsaber, and really how they were able to still have Leia be a central figure and not make it very obvious that it was all recycled footage (you could tell if you knew but they did a good job with what they could do).
The dialogue between Poe and Finn was great, the constant banter, the respect between them, and how they stuck together to help Rey every step of the way.
I liked Ben's redemption arc. I think they did the right thing with him sacrificing himself.
I really liked all the throwbacks - Red 5, ewoks, older fighter pilots who were definitely in the original trilogy or production crew, so many references all around. The decrepit throne room! The remains from the old war! They did a good job.

All in all, I would recommend this movie for Star Wars fans (obviously, since it's a capstone film, you're gonna be lost hopping into Episode IX without knowing I-VIII). I want to see it again once it's in Redbox.