Dracula the untold story: Movie review

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The three of us went to see Dracula the Untold Story today before our son went to work and I am not sure about our son, but at least I was very well entertained. This incarnation of Dracula is primarily focused on the man, not the vampire and the man was much more complex than the monster that Bram Stoker painted in his novel.

We learn that Lord Vlad had spent his childhood as a royal hostage in the Ottoman court given over by his father to keep the peace for their Transylvanian kingdom. Young Vlad wasn’t the only hostage, the sultan historically demanded all male children to be handed over to him from his neighboring protectorates in order to keep them militarily weak and psychologically weak as well. Young Vlad was allowed to come home and regain his place within the kingdom and this is where we meet him ten years later, married to the love of his life Merina and their ten year old son Ingarus. We are in the great hall during Easter festivities when the Turks arrive to claim their tribute for the new sultan Mehmet the second, who was young Vlad’s childhood companion during his time as royal hostage, and the tribute wasn’t enough, the new sultan made the same demands as his father had and Prince Vlad is left with a horrendous choice to make. War or give over 1001 young boys including his own son, we don’t envy him his choice.

The rest must be up to you to go and see for yourselves, I won’t spoil it for you. What I will tell you is that my fascination with Dracula has always been about the profound love story that lies at the heart of the “horror” story and I was not disappointed. Vlad the human may have been an adept at psychological warfare, what with his cold decisions to impale his victims for all to see as a warning of what will come if you defy his demands, but in the movie we learn that his methods came from his military education at the hands of the Turks. What we do see during the movie is the intense and passionate love that he has for his wife and I believed in that love because at the crucial moment in the movie between Vlad and Merina, he does not do what we have seen in so many love stories before, he actually tells his love the complete truth of what he did and what it will mean for them if he strays from the straight and narrow and gives into the thirst. She shows her absolute love for him by not shying away from him, on the contrary, she embraces him and tells him to please stay strong for her, for them.

His love for their son is also felt in spades, the first domino in his defiance against the turks is played because he can’t bear to send his son to the Turks the way his father had sent him and the price he has to pay is so very steep. The rest of the movie examines just how high that price becomes until the final end and still Dracula keeps paying for his choices.

It is still a beautiful love story despite the fog of evil surrounding it at each turn either supernatural or of man himself.

Jack is a stoic little man

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This morning we received a package in the mail; a carton from Omaha steaks and to keep the merchandise frozen, it was packed with dry ice. My husband wanted to see what Jack’s reaction would be if he played with the dry ice in our copper tub the way he used to do it with our daughter when she was little.

When I say play with dry ice, I just mean filling the copper tub with water, dropping the dry ice in the water and watching it give rise to thick fog. Our daughter loved watching the smoke billow around and recede with the air currents flowing around the kitchen.

So my husband was reminiscing about our daughter while he was conjuring up the smoke, curious to see Jack’s reaction and to our surprise Jack was pretty stoic and after a few minutes, he got bored if dogs are indeed capable of being bored.

Another rainy day in Blandford, the creepy effect of the smoke fit perfectly with the mood outside, grey and dismal, all in the month of October, the Halloween month.

We have returned!

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Ah it is so good to be home again! Jack is very happy to see us.

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Our son picked us up from the bus and as soon as we got home, he was out the door, off to see Limp Biskit in concert, out in Boston. I would have included a picture of our son, but I was way too slow, he was like Taz the Tasmanian Devil, up to his room and poof! out the door.

As you can see from the picture, Jack loves his perches, he has them almost everywhere. He has one here in the library, he has two others in the living room, he has one in our son’s room, and one in our daughter’s room. He loves looking outside with the sun shining on him, very much like a cat. He also make us think of Meerkats when he sits up on his haunches begging for food. He has a nice solid backside, perfect for sitting and looking from his papa to me and back to his papa, waiting patiently for some sort of morsel to come his way.

Editing is a lot of work

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I am getting close to the finish of where I want my political essay book to be, but it is quite tiring. I had forgotten how tiring editing is from way back when I used to write term papers in school.

I do have to say that by going through all of my essays, day by day, I am really surprised as to how relevant my words still are today. It gives me hope that my book might get noticed by a publisher, but it makes me sad as a politically interested person because it shows that we haven’t made a lot of progress as of today.

I actually yelled at myself a few times today because there were a few times during the day when I was feeling tired that I said “really you had to comment five times in one day?” Instead of just 30 days of comments, it has been closer to 50 to 60 comments a month to go through, I have a lot to say and I am quite opinionated lol.

I do feel really good about my work on this book and that is what counts.

Astoria: my childhood neighborhood

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I don’t know why it hit me today, as opposed to every other time that I have walked around Astoria, but Astoria is changing and it is nice. Astoria has always been a nice neighborhood when I was growing up, very ethnic; Greek, Italian, German and French and nowadays it is a lot more cosmopolitan. The other day when we got off at Ditmars Blvd, I noticed quite a few aspiring models getting off the subway as well and today I passed three young, rail thin very pretty girls walking towards the subway station clutching their portfolios.

When it comes to restaurants, Astoria is experiencing a renaissance. I walked three blocks and saw three new restaurants advertising for help and ready to open within the next few weeks. Just a few blocks either way from my mother’s house, we now have choices of Japanese, Thailand, French, Asian Fusion and vegetarian. That is world’s away from the choices we had when I was little so it is exciting to see Astoria getting to be a big boy neighborhood if you will. We don’t have to venture to the city to have something different, we can walk a few blocks and patronize the local establishments right here and we feel good about it. We like supporting our local restaurants and giving back to the community.

Accomplishments feel good

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I feel very good about the progress that I made today on my future”book” based on my political essays. I use my ChromeBook to do the editing and formatting of the two years worth of essays and at the pace that I am going, editing at least 50 at a sitting, I can’t do anymore because my battery dies at that point, I should be ready to ship it out to potential publishers any week now.

I feel very good about this accomplishment today because even though it isn’t huge and it is only for myself, I still feel great about it because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am getting excited about the “book” because even though what I am polishing up, takes place between 2011 and 2012, the issues that I wrote about are still being argued today and my “book” is still very relevant and can provide some added perspective precisely because we haven’t resolved anything from over two years ago.

So yes I feel really good about my day today and how productive I was for four hours. As opposed to other days when I am still productive but it is elsewhere, either outside with my plants or inside in my kitchen.

I am feeling great.

Daily prompt: Verbal confirmation

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To be, to have, to think, to move — which of these verbs is the one you feel most connected to? Or is there another verb that characterizes you better?

I write and post to my political blog everyday and I do it through the Comments section of the Huffington Post where I have been a registered user since 2009. As part of my micro biography in my user setting; I decided to use Rene Descartes famous quote “Je pense donc je suis” I think therefore I am. I cannot think of a more precise way to describe the human experience. Moreover in the Daily Prompt, both verbs To Be and To Think are given to respond and comment on, so automatically my mind went to my micro biology which in essence is To Think is To Be.

I spend hours upon hours thinking, trust me 98% is not deep, soul searching or thought provoking, but it is thinking. As my husband and I were taking the bus down to New York to give our vehicles a much deserved vacation, I sat quietly looking out the window thinking, after reading my book “Le Clan des Otari” was getting me bus sick. I like to read in French because it forces me to slow down and read each word as opposed to when I read in English and I glide down the page. I am trying to keep my vocabulary and my grammar up to snuff and reading in French is an excellent method of doing just that.

I did break down twice and pulled out my iPad, but my WIFI connection wasn’t going anywhere, so I put it away and continued looking out the window. My mind was going here and there and everywhere. I didn’t even notice the time passing and then Paul Simon and his song “You can Call me Al” hijacked my brain for the longest time. My husband looked over at me because I must have been bopping to the song and I am not kidding, he said “are you dancing to the song You can Call me Al in your head?” I don’t know how he knew it, because I promise you that I wasn’t humming or anything like that. He does this a lot with his special power of E.S.P. That or he knows me like nobody else. He did say to me while we were taking Mass transit that he knows like a book, cover to cover, line by line and even in between the lines. How is that for almost 24 years of marriage.

So I might have stuff and I might move all of the time, but what really defines me is to think and therefore to be.

The Maze Runner: a movie review

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Today my husband, our son and I went to see The Maze Runner. We weren’t sure what to expect because I have noticed that as of late, the previews have poorly reflected what any movie might be about and so I went into the movie with an open mind waiting for what the story was to unfold.

Before leaving the house, I decided since it was a gorgeous sunny day and we are in October primo fall fashion season, that I would break out my new shoes that my mother got me at the Retail Outlet Mall that we had taken our French friends back in the beginning of September.

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I love them!

Back to the movie, we all liked it though it was a muted like. I think that our son thought that it was a little obvious in certain parts. I went along for the ride as I usually do, but I am getting a little tired of the dystopia vision that has graced the movie screens as of late.

In terms of story line, I felt that the movie was a complete psychological and sociological study of crisis management and threat assessment strategies. Basically the habitat was started with one, the future leader of the young men whose name is Alby, and each month one more boy was added, which led to the eventual Lord of the Flies situation, that of course burned itself out, but not before inflicting the necessary psychological scars and maturation in the process. Fast foward to 3 years later and we find the young men operating as a cohesive unit with a few common sense rules to hold them together safely and soundly.

When the new young man arrives, he is different from the others, in that he is curious about the maze that surrounds the glade and wants to find a way out, he has no interest in the status quo. This is in and of itself a wedge issue between some of the original group and the new boy whose name is Thomas. He isn’t effected by the same mindset as the others because he enters their world not having had to work very hard and fight for the security and the safety of the balance that has finally been achieved. You can understand how quite a few would be hesitant to try anything that could lay to waste everything that had been painstakingly built.

What we learn in the end is that this maze is a test because the world and those who ran it have failed mankind and they felt forced to subject the new crop of youngsters to the insane and deadly test to weed out the weak and grow the next generation of tougher and more resilient people.

We are left with the set up for a Maze Runner II and if this one does well, we will see what tests the powers that be determine for the next round.

I’ll be ready for a new ride, though it would be nice is it gets a little more uplifting the next time around.

Rainy days means different things to different people

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Today is a full on rainy day in Blandford and our DVR is full since we haven’t been home in several days so this means some fun binge watching t.v. We have a few Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher to watch. That takes care of our news coverage for the week. It is a sad commentary about the state of our mainstream news that I feel better informed by Comedy Central than by my local or national news shows.

Then we have our entertainment shows; I have no shame in how many shows I watch, there are some really good shows out there and I like being entertained. Though when I was looking through the list on the DVR player, most of the shows that we watch are fairly suspenseful and grim with only a few feel good, funny shows. I may not have many, but I love Modern Family, The Middle, Big Bang Theory and the new show Blackish seems to be a keeper and these make me laugh out loud which does my soul and heart good..

FX channel has been showing some original programming and it is good stuff such as The Strain, Sons of Anarchy, Justified and The Bridge. These shows are all dark, but their acting and the suspense makes for good t.v watching.

Everything else on our DVR seems to point to cop shows and spy shows such as the Blacklist, NCIS, NCIS New Orleans and NCIS Los Angeles, C.S.I, Blue Bloods, Castle,Bones, Sherlock and there are two new shows called Scorpions and Forever which so far we have enjoyed quite a bit.

I like the combination of detective work and technology, especially in terms of medical science and computer technology and how the smallest and most innocuous item can be the key to leading the detective to the perpetrator.

When it comes to characters, I have three shows that I am invested in; Bones, Castle and The Blacklist. Now I know that The Blacklist is relatively new, but it has James Spader and I would watch him act in a phonebook commercial I love his acting that much. On the other hand I have been watching Bones and Castle since their beginnings and I feel as if they are friends and so every week I look forward to seeing what they are up to and how they are going to solve the crimes that they are up against, using good old fashioned detective work and the latest technology and scientific applications. Bones is especially great in combining science and deductive reasoning, everyone at the Jeffersonian is a scientific savant and Booth the F.B.I agent has common sense in spades and the juxtaposition between the two makes for great t.v.

Rainy days and t.v, another great combination, though definitely not as noble as solving crime, but still, I enjoy it tremendously.

Reunited with our son and Jack

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I am so happy to be back home. We stopped off on route to grab some groceries and my husband roasted salmon and sautéed green beans while I made the SAUCE. The dill sour cream sauce is something that I found a while ago on the Internet when I wasn’t sure what to do with salmon. Personally I prefer smoked salmon, but my husband and our children love salmon, so I wanted to find something to give it a little something special and what a find did I luck into.

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The SAUCE is so popular that they ask for the SAUCE before asking for the salmon. The best thing about the SAUCE is that it takes little time or work in preparing it. I used about three quarters of a container of sour cream, I added two teaspoons of Dijon mustard, I chopped, a healthy bunch of dill very finely and added that to the bowl, I also smashed and chopped four cloves of garlic very finely and lastly I squeezed a large slice of lemon into the mixture. I stirred everything together, a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill and voila all done.

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I love cooking and I usually never mind the prep work necessary, but when I can find something scrumptious and it just happens to be so easy to put together, I don’t turn my nose up at it, au contraire I embrace it and count my lucky stars that I found something that great to put in my cooking repertoire.

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