Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Hope the New Les Miserables Does Not Leave Me Miserable.

I'm really, really not a "movie person".
I can't remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater.
Coraline, maybe?
It's been a while.

But THIS is pretty darn exciting.
Les Miserables.
Giggity Giggity Giggity!

This trailer has JUST been released.
I haven't been this excited about a movie since Harry Potter #5.
(I still haven't seen 6, 7.1 or 7.2 ... but I'll get to it eventually.)

I had some qualms when I first heard about the
Les Miserables remake. There were some truly
horrifying rumors - like the one about Taylor Swift
playing Eponine. The confirmation that Anne Hathaway
would play Fantine was... disconcerting.
The cast includes Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried,
Russell Crowe (ew, barf!) and Sascha Baron Cohen.
This line-up was enough cause for alarm,
but the trailer has quelled my worries.

Director Tom Hooper has plenty of experience
in taking beautiful, complicated stories and adapting
them for the big screen. I have high hopes for this man!

So. Who is playing Eponine?

Samantha Barks!
Oh, thank goodness they cast a a stage-tested actress.

She's adorable, and although she's nothing
close to the legendary Lea Salonga,
I think she'll pull this off, with the help of movie magic.

And who is playing Marius?

Eddie Redmayne.
I've never heard of this guy, but he is handsome
and talented enough to play Marius.
He has a great name. He won a Tony.

For the record, I don't like Marius.
I think I like Eddie, though.

But who the heck will play those crazy Thenardiers?! 

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

I... I don't know what to expect,
but I'm looking forward to it. 

I'm curious to see if they stay true to Les Mis,
with practically all dialogue sung.
I'm also curious to see how Russell Crowe
does as Inspector Javert, that scumbag.

This just might be reason enough to read Hugo's Les Miserables!

Jump On My Shoulders, Get My Perspective

This blog post contains:
 - a future flash mob 
- creepy Pee Wee Herman
 - fabulous MS Paint art
 - a community garden update
 - sweet music for you to listen to 
 - suggestions on how YOU can find happiness 
and peace in your life, through a greater 
understanding of the world we've inherited

I lost my camera charger.

It's been well over a week, and that little bugger still hasn't turned up.

I take photos for work daily, and without this component I am left using the crummy old camera from 2003. The images are so grainy I might as well be drawing pictures in the sandbox. Not so good for up-close book shots, eh?

Rather than admit total defeat, I will take this opportunity to showcase some superb graphic design skills.
Please welcome this week's guest artist and her unique MS Paint skills as she attempts to illustrate recent important happenings in my life..

Behold, the beauty and splendor of pure creativity at its finest:

Artist's rendering of a re-purposed "broken" bird bath in my garden.
Artist's rendering of my sister, who has recently graduated from CCS.
Kate is moving to Ann Arbor to begin her illustrious art career.
This morning, my sister took the last load of her belongings out of our parents' house, to her little apartment in Ann Arbor. Twas thrilling! I am le proud. Good job, sea-star!

And now for some ranting, of sorts...
I am incredibly susceptible to conspiracy theories, which began when I first caught wind of the JFK assassination criticisms and questionable "facts" surrounding that event. I was about 15, and shocked that someone would have the gall to murder America's reincarnation of King Arthur. (It wasn't until later that I realized JFK was a womanizing, power-hungry politician from a crooked family, addicted to painkillers, etc.) Moon landing conspiracies also intrigued me, but as a high school student in a government-driven educational program, I didn't have many resources beyond the internet.

Then, I became a history major. I learned about the beauty of the toaster, and the horrors that followed in an increasingly industrialized consumer culture hell-bent on living a life of luxury (or a close approximation, based upon ideals created by clever marketing). I began looking for other "alternative" takes on history. Whispers that I had never before heard were now audible to me, and the "truth" became ever elusive. Over-population, Empires, exceptionalism, Disney World, democracy, Monsanto, Vietnam, the Illuminati, the Bilderburg group, mass media... we have been craftily conditioned to become the consumers we are today. It is our present reality, not just history, that is written by the victors - and their goal is to take care of themselves, not us.

Things are screwed up in this country. The hard you look for answers, the faster questions multiply. I don't have any of the answers, but I do have questions. Lots of questions. If you're feeling as skeeved-out as I am about the past, present and future of our grand, increasingly globalized society, I have a few sources to recommend. Take a look at Ethos, a short documentary featuring Woody Harrelson boasting enough information to turn your world upside-down. It's worth it. Trust me. Watch it for free on Netflix (it's streaming) or YouTube. Tell me what you think.

 Like I said, I don't have the answers. I might have a solution, though. I think that if people simply start talking to one another about our observations, our opinions, our dismay and our optimism, we might just be able to turn off this machine and find a better way of life.

Artist's rendering of creepy googly-eyed PeeWee.
In other news, my (tangible) art has taken a turn for the creepier. I've been cranking things out faster than a cranker-outer-machine, and am considering the idea of doing a little art show somewhere local. But, how would people react to the googly-eyed Pee Wee Herman piece? This sort of genius cannot be expressed through half-assed MS Paint illustration, no matter the artist's skill level.

I've baked over 50 loaves of bread since January 1st. The house smells wonderful, the bread is always better than store-bought bread, and it's cheaper.

There are some neat things I wanted to show you with actual photographs, rather than this MS Paint rubbish. I have some pretty, exotic flowers (Night Phlox) that I grew from seed. They're just starting to bloom. I'm proud, but I wonder if they'll make it through the cold snap headed our way. Our peas are a riot of green climbing up our fence, as well as our chimney. Our rain barrel is almost out of water, but we'll be hooking up a second one this weekend. Once that camera charger turns up I might even provide a real-life photo of Mr. Googly-Eyes.

"Very realistic" depiction of the Garden.

Poppin' Fresh, the community garden we spend much of our time at, has just DOUBLED in size! The Land Bank approved our request to annex the newly-cleared lot to the north. It's full sun, so we're going to grow hundreds of delicious tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries, husk cherries and more. If you've been hankering to get your hands dirty and have some fun with me and the gang, this is a great opportunity to jump in and become a part of Poppin'! We have DELICIOUS, ORGANIC, FREE FOOD FOR YOU. We have soft bunnies you can pet. We have free parking. We have fruit trees, we have flowers, and we have a whole lot of fun. Seek me out virtually or in person if you want to know more!

 AWOLNATION is my current soundtrack. Groove with me. They remind me of Fun., but with heaver baselines, a so they sound a little "harder". (I am a world-renown music critic, people!)

OH! And apparently I am going to be engulfed by a book shop flash/cash mob this Saturday, at The Archives.  Wish me luck, as I am the only person working on Saturday, which is also Be a Tourist In Your Own Town day.

I look forward to finding my camera charger...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Re-purposed Rabbit Hutches

Our community garden, Poppin' Fresh
acquired two young meat rabbits from a local breeder. 
Hutches were a necessity but with no funds,
we knew that ingenuity was key.

Why spend a bunch of cash on new materials
when you can get them for free?
There's a simple philosophy, once wide-spread
but quickly dissipating in America: 

Use what you've got to make what you need.

Some of you may remember this hutch Sean built:

Hutch #1, before shingles.

Compared to the traditional rabbit hutches for sale, 
this two-story abode is a luxury home
for our plump New Zealand bunnies! 

This week we delivered Hutch #2 to Poppin' Fresh,
and boy is it an upgrade!

Hutch #2, the  Bunny Palace.

 This hutch is mostly comprised of a discarded dormitory desk.
We got two desks for free from the MSU Surplus Store.
  (Side note: The Surplus Store is amazing and well worth a visit!)

Modest beginnings.

We fenced them in to deter
  neighborhood dogs and other dangers.
They're on the north side of our garage, 
so they're protected from the weather, too.

Fun fact: The wooden fence sections came to us from
a neighbor who was about to throw them away.
(Thanks, Mike)

We let the rabbits graze on our impressive
dandylion crop using our converted chicken / rabbit tractor!

We've been working on a few little projects
in addition to the big spring planting push.
There are plenty of greens in the ground
(Swiss Chard, lettuce, spinach, kale)
and our radishes are starting to crown
up out of the soil.

Arugula Flowers!

My favorite in-season treat this week
are the thousands of arugula flowers 
all over the Garden. Arugula leaves are edible and
often found in salads. They taste slightly peppery.
Their flowers are also edible!
I eat them like popcorn.

Yesterday we picked up about a dozen
Brussel Sprout starts from The Garden Project.
Pumpkins, squash, and other delicious things
are just starting to germinate in our hoop house.
Oh, and tomatoes!

 To help new volunteers find their way around,
I painted a sign for each bed.
They're a little quirky, but they work.

We've sort of neglected the front of Poppin' Fresh,
which probably irks the neighbors a bit.
This week I ripped the over-grown wildflowers
sown last year in "decorative" beds.
I replaced them with some Alyssum seedlings,
a few Thyme plants and a bunch of German Chamomile. 
Some Goblin seeds, too, but they won't
germinate for another week, at least.

One of two front beds, and the main gate.

The front gate looks a bit bare at the moment,
but we plan to train our cucumber plants up either side.
I hope it works!

The most important project of all was completed this week:


 If you don't have water, you don't have a garden.
It's as simple as that.
We don't have a well, and we certainly don't have
a hook-up to city water or the fire hydrant,
like other gardens in the area.

Our rain barrel set-up is our one
source of water for all of our plants.
Sean and friends "liberated" gutters
from a nearby house slotted to be demolished.
We connected them to our storage garage,
then hooked up a tiered rain-barrel system.
At the moment we have six barrels
attached to this garage, daisy-chained together
with an overflow system to collect
as much as possible during those torrential
Michigan rainstorms.

If only we had more than 
two watering cans...

If you live in the Lansing area you should come check it out!
We're always in need of a few extra hands.
We'll let you pet the bunnies, show you around our plot(s),
feed you some Arugula flowers and send you home with
some of whatever is ready to be harvested.
Email me and I'll tell you a bit more,
or keep an eye on the Learning Leaves Facebook page.

("Learning Leaves" encompasses Poppin' Fresh, Leaf Lot,
Marvin's Gardens and other bits of dirt we scratch at.)

See Also:Urban Farming and Community Gardening in Lansing, Michigan