Bee loved

beeHere’s my new little friend, sitting on my desk with me while I write tonight. I think she is Apis mellifera? I’m sorry to say I don’t know my bees as well as I should.

I found her half drowned in a rain-filled bucket. I have a bird and bee bath with a nice piece of driftwood they can walk up and down to the water safely, but of course this one found the slick-sided bucket :( Since it was almost dark and kind of cool, I wasn’t sure she’d get warm and dry enough to fly home before night. So I picked her some alyssum and put her in a whiskey tumbler. (Everybody knows real writers drink whiskey!) She wasn’t looking good earlier, but I blotted her dry and stuck her next to my gecko’s undertank heat pad, and she’s perked right up.

I’d read on the internet some weeks ago that you can revive exhausted bees with a bit of honey. In the picture, you can see she’s eating a drop of local wildflower honey off the tip of a toothpick. Thanks for some true info, internet!

Tomorrow morning I’ll release her back into the wild.

Bees are having a rough time of it these days. With the now rectified exception of the watery bucket of death, we try to keep a good bug-friendly garden. We don’t spray chemicals. We save the cutworms for the gecko. We live peacefully with the predatory wasps under our eaves. Spiders are relocated to the side of the shed near the compost bins. The aphids… The aphids I crush like the vile monsters they are! Mosquitoes and fruit flies also get swatted. But other than that…

As a gardener, I try to bee the bloom I want to see in the world. I hope this fuzzy little cutie has a fruitful season of pollinating ahead of her!

Movie review: Edge of Tomorrow

TL;DR: Fun, fun! Go see it!

edge-of-tomorrow-international-poster-600x888Now for my more complete thoughts :) This is spoiler free as long as you’ve seen the trailers.

I’ve said before a movie can pretty much win me over with good CG, high action, multi-stage explosions with lens flares, and some decent one-liners from watchable leads. I read books for character and story. Yes, I’ll whine about plot holes, but for the most part, a movie can satisfy me with popcorn spectacle and the entertaining illusion that I can deliver a round-house kick when I walk out of the theater.

But when I get character and story AND spectacle… well, how happy am I?

EDGE OF TOMORROW was all that. Maybe it’s because I’m writing a science fiction romance novella right now, but I really appreciated how this movie’s creators seemed to understand and honor both its inherent limitations (really, there’s only so much storytelling you can do in less than two hours) and its potential scope (visually and viscerally).

TIGHT FOCUS

There really wasn’t a good time for a potty break in this movie. The action was continuous and the exposition was quick and tight. This movie wasn’t a reboot of an older storyline, so we didn’t get a lot of origin backstory. And it wasn’t a setup for a franchise, so we didn’t get a lot of foreshadowing. Our heroes focused on what they needed to do without a lot of unnecessary mooning about their bigger world. The movie told THIS story.

For my fellow writers out there, I was particularly impressed with how the script handled the repeating timeline aspect, giving us just enough repeat to establish the flow and change of the story and characters without getting boring. Really nicely done.

SMART, BUT NOT CLEVER

My fellow writers know all about the “rule” to Show Don’t Tell, and EDGE OF TOMORROW did a wonderful job with showing. The character growth and emotional arcs were beautifully presented in snippets of action and quick glances. Movies have an advantage over books in the SDT realm, and these movie makers made the absolute most of their medium.

Admittedly, sometimes I almost wanted more. But I wanted more because I enjoyed it so much, not because I was unsatisfied. Like a rich dark chocolate flourless cake — you can ALWAYS eat more, even when you don’t really NEED more :)

MOST IMPORTANTLY, I CARED

When a movie starts with the premise that the main character dies repeatedly, you’d think it’d be easy to stop caring cuz you know he’ll come back. But between the hero’s difficult arc and the established stakes for the storyworld, I totally cared. I was invested in his journey and wanted to see him win. And the movie delivered. Plus, explosions!

MINOR DETAILS

Aside from some minor quibbles with time travel conundrums (which are as pointless as complaining about FTL drives) my biggest peeve — as with almost all monster movies — was that the aliens were essentially unbeatable… until they were chasing our heroes, and then suddenly the monsters are running at half speed and bumbling over obstacles. I realize this is so common in monster movies it’s practically a trope, but they could’ve worked around it with better staging. But whatever.

I’m almost always going to support SF movies on principle alone (yes, I will see the PROMETHEUS sequel and whatever they give me for STAR WARS no matter how many times they burn me) but when a movie really comes through for me, I am so, so happy.

Go see it!

(Last thoughts. I saw EDGE OF TOMORROW in 3D and thought it was worth the extra expense because I am easily amused by ducking explosions and monsters coming at me.  YMMV and if you can’t/don’t see it in 3D, you will still enjoy the story. Also, I just found out my preferred theater — a Century 16 — is discounted on Tuesdays, by $4/ticket, and I had NO idea, so check and see is your fave theater is doing anything to lure people into seats. Also also, I said science fiction romance earlier, but I don’t want to imply this was a SFR movie. So if you are a guy somehow reading this, don’t get scared away.)

 

Happy New Year from the laundromat

My washing machine died full of soap and water (is there any reason washing machines can’t die BEFORE the soap and water part?) so on New Year’s Eve I went to the laundromat with my sopping, soapy clothes. Happy freakin’ New Year.

And then…

While I was at the laundromat brooding — partly about a new story I’m plotting, but mostly about how unfair it was that I was at a laundromat on New Year’s Eve — a guy biked up. After poking through the ashtray outside, he came in to check the machines for lost change and dig pop cans out of the recycle bin. His baseball hat was askew and his front teeth were missing. A frayed knee brace was pretty much the only thing holding up his baggy jeans.

He asked me if I knew where the lost & found was. I pointed him toward the locked office (ain’t nobody at a laundromat on New Year’s Eve who doesn’t have to be) where the refund forms dangled from the door knob and loaned him my pen, which wasn’t doing me any good coming up with the heroine’s internal motivation anyway.

I asked him what he was looking for — partly because maybe I’d seen it, but mostly because writers are nosy — and he said somebody had taken his laundry from one of the dryers.

“All my socks,” he said. Then he added in a mumble, “And underwear.”

Stealing somebody’s laundry is low. Stealing somebody’s socks and underwear is really, really low.

He filled out the form and pushed it through the slot in the office door. When he returned my pen, I gave him the rest of my quarters. His fingernails were black with dirt.

“You can get some new socks,” I said. Then I thought maybe that sounded presumptuous — I mean, he might have had access to more socks somewhere else; just because he looked homeless doesn’t mean he was — so I added, “Or a New Year’s Eve beer.”

“I’m laying off the sauce,” he said. “The socks’ll keep me warmer.”

Probably there’s a 50/50 chance he was fibbing about the socks or the beer. As a writer, I look squinty eyed at everybody’s stories, even my own. But anybody out on New Year’s Eve looking for half-smoked cigarette butts, empty cans, and lost laundry deserves the benefit of the doubt.

I’m ending 2013 with a bunch of annoyances: there’s a mysterious oily patch that may or may not be coming from the car, the dog has an intermittent limp that was getting better but of course got worse right before the vet closed for the holiday, I just spent way too much at the dentist, someone stole XY’s bike off our front porch on Christmas Eve (not the guy at the laundromat; I checked his bike), and I’m already hyperventilating about whether I can really do everything I want to do in the next twelve months. Also I have a zit on my chin. And let’s not forget the broken washing machine. 

But I think I’m going to start 2014 with a more positive mindset. After all, I still have a dryer. And thanks to my loving family, I got cute new socks and underwear for Christmas. I’m not sure the guy at the laundromat would appreciate being my New Year’s Eve attitude adjustment — I didn’t have that many quarters left — but I appreciated the reminder that I have more opportunities than some people to make the most of 2014.

What I do with the new year isn’t entirely up to me, of course. I think none of us can take all the credit (or all the blame) for where we end up. While my goals are properly self-directed, some of my wishes are reliant on forces outside my control. But how I deal with the inevitable challenges of 2014 is entirely up to me, so I’m going to focus on my strengths and resources and do my best.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, rewarding new year for all. And here’s hoping we all get to face it with clean underthings.