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Archive for April, 2011

I was outside the other day, when a particular sound caught my attention.  I’m by no means an ornithologist, but I know a fair amount about the birds in my area, and I was quite certain of what I was hearing.  I proceeded into the woods, following the sound.  Finally, I spotted it.  There it was, just on the other side of a large, rocky outcropping: the Large-Beaked Encroacher.  It is a species that is now far more common in this area than it used to be.

Its habits are actually quite shocking.  It will move into an area where other animals are already living and, using its strong, thick beak, will tear apart their homes and remain there for a short while.  Then, it will quite suddenly pick up and move somewhere else, leaving other creatures to build homes in the space that it has left behind.

I’ve dimmed a patch on this photo of a Large-Beaked Encroacher so as not to spoil the surprise, which is that you’ve probably seen one before.  If you look closely, you can see what it looks like. You can also click to reveal the clear image.

Large-Beaked Encroacher

 
Stay out of the forest, you bloody developers.

 
Image: Originally by David Anstiss via Wikimedia Commons under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0

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From Dictionary.com:

—adjective
1. lacking or having lost life, sharpness, or flavor; insipid; flat: vapid tea.
2. without liveliness or spirit; dull or tedious: a vapid party; vapid conversation.

Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

She worked hard to ensure that when people heard her keynote address, they wouldn’t even think the word vapid.

Find out more about Wordsmith Wednesdays.

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Devil film posterDevil is the most recent thriller from M. Night Shyamalan and runs in the same vein as many of his previous works. His usual writer/director combo, however, was split this time around with director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine). M. Night fans who pay attention to the intro credits might notice that Tak Fujimoto, whose work I enjoyed in The Sixth Sense and Signs, is once again working with Shyamalan in the role of director of photography. I was a bit disappointed to find that usual M. Night maestro, James Newton Howard, was missing, but the music was taken care of pretty well by Fernando Velázquez (The Orphanage). Unfortunately, I suspect that Devil is suffering the same fate as almost all of Shyamalan’s movies: everyone tries to predict whether or not there will be a twist and what that twist might be. But don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything.

The plot is a relatively straight forward one. An elevator in a high-rise office building breaks down, trapping five seemingly normal people. Their only connection to the outside is a security camera and a one-way radio that allows rescuers to speak to them. After realising that the buttons on the elevator’s control panel aren’t working, the occupants instead begin to push each other’s, and as the already chaotic situation grows violent, rescuers watching the video feed begin to think that something sinister may be trapped with the passengers.

The cast, including Chris Messina and Logan Marshall-Green, is largely made up of more or less unfamiliar faces, which I usually find refreshing, providing that they can act well. In this instance it’s somewhat hit-and-miss. After all, no amount of acting can save a cheesy line like “. . . to truly feel free, you may need to finally start believing in something greater than yourself.” Really, who talks like that in casual conversation? In fact, much of the back-and-forth dialogue seemed very unnatural.

Shyamalan’s recent films have begun to wear a bit thin because he seems to have spent his energy trying to leap over the bar that he set so high with The Sixth Sense. Devil definitely does not take the cake as the worst of the bunch, but it’s far from the best. The Sixth Sense was more shocking, Unbreakable more intense, and Signs creepier. Comparing it with The Village is tough, but I have to put The Village one step above simply because its characters had more depth and meaningful connections between them. In Devil, no characters were related, hardly any solid friendships were depicted, and serious relationships were only hinted at, making the characters somewhat shallow and uninteresting. I found myself not really caring which ones, if any, were going to be killed off.

It didn’t take much effort to realise Devil‘s superiority over Lady in the Water and The Happening simply because I wasn’t bored out of my mind while watching it.

I noticed that some aspects of the movie felt kind of familiar. Like Lady in the Water, the main story is backed by a folk tale told by a person of foreign ethnicity and used as a reference by a main character. Also, similar to Signs and The Happening, there is a deliberate message that we’re supposed to understand. Message received, M. Night . . . message received.

I originally wanted to see Devil in theatre after watching the trailers but never got around to it. As it turns out, I’m glad that I didn’t spend the price of a ticket on it. It has a remarkably short running time, clocking in at 80 minutes, and that, coupled with its overall lacklustre doesn’t make for much bang for one’s buck. For me, the film falls into the category of conventional entertainment, a.k.a. “a renter, not a buyer”. I probably wouldn’t watch it again unless it was with someone else who wanted to see it. That said, I definitely recommend it to existing Shyamalan fans simply in order to keep abreast of his career. For all other moviegoers, see it if you’re looking for a short, mediocre thriller.

I apprehensively await the next installment of “The Night Chronicles”.

5.5/10

 
Image: Universal Pictures via Wikipedia

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Swab
I had to manoeuvre quickly around men bustling about the deck, trying not to mop anyone’s feet. An onerous job for a free ride home. “You do a good job and you’ll be doing that nightly,” another sailor jested with a wink.

Down came another shout from the nest, “Sandbar!”

 
 
It was on Doing the Write Thing that I first read about the Cafe Muravyets April Challenge. I thought I’d give it a try.

 
I originally wanted to use the dialogue to give that sailor a Scottish accent, but it just became horribly mangled and confusing. Note: ü pronounced as in the German “fünf” or French “salut”.

“Yü dü a güd johb n’yü’ll be düin’ thaht neightly.”

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From Dictionary.com:

—verb

1. to consume (liquids) by drinking; drink: He imbibed great quantities of iced tea.

2. to absorb or soak up, as water, light, or heat: Plants imbibe moisture from the soil.

3. to take or receive into the mind, as knowledge, ideas, or the like: to imbibe a sermon; to imbibe beautiful scenery.

 
Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

Political debates are sometimes so boring that none but the most enthusiastic of viewers imbibe any useful information.

Find out more about Wordsmith Wednesdays.

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What do you do when you’re confronted with a situation wherein you’re suspected of telling a lie?  Or, more specifically, it looks like you’re lying when you’re not, and you, yourself are the only one who knows it.

Pinocchio by André Koehne

I had to mail a letter, an errand that I don’t normally go directly to the post office to do, but I also needed stamps, so off I went.  The envelope was still blank; I figured I’d address it and stamp it at the same time.  As you may or may not have read in a previous post, I’ve usually got a pen with me (I’ve since switched to a regular ballpoint).

At the post office, I asked the lady behind the counter for the appropriate stamps, and while she was getting them I took the pen from my pocket and began writing out the mailing address and so forth.  As I wrote, a small jar of pens sitting on the counter caught my eye.  Put there by the post office for customers to use, the pens would have appeared perfectly ordinary to anyone else, but I did a little double take when I noticed, to my horror, that the pens weren’t ordinary at all.  Standing in the little jar were black, ballpoint Papermates—exactly the same as mine.  I knew (and I think you do, too) what was probably about to happen.

The lady took my envelope and stuck the stamps onto the corner.  As nonchalantly as possible, I put the lid on my pen and put it back into my pocket.  “Those aren’t to keep,” she said, when she saw what I was doing.  Now I had two choices.

Feign having succumbed to habit and sacrifice my pen in exchange for apparent honesty:

“Oh, sorry,” I would say.  “Putting a pen in my pocket is just a reflex—probably from school, I guess.”  I would drop my pen into the jar on the counter.  She would smile.

“I do that sometimes, too,” she’d reply.  “Only it’s my purse, not my pocket.”

Or, stand my ground and forever look like a pilferer in the eyes of the post lady:

“Actually, this pen’s mine,” I’d try to explain.  “I brought it in with me.”

She would purse her lips slightly and give me a little glare that would surely mean to say “I’m not going to accuse you for the sake of something as trivial as a pen, but I know you’re lying to me.”  She would then tell me that she’d put my envelope with the outgoing mail and walk into the back of the office.

 
I left the post office that day without feeling too perturbed by what had happened.  As for whether the pen ended up in my pocket or in the jar on the counter . . . it was a quandary, to be sure.  What would you have done?

 
Image: André Koehne via Wikimedia Commons under GFDL

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New Theme

If you’re a returning reader, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the theme change.  If you’re a first-time reader, first of all, welcome!  And know that you’ve missed Walking the Pattern’s era of DePo Masthead.

Screenshot of the old theme

I’ve chosen the MistyLook theme because it has several of the characteristics that I was looking for.  Wider columns, a custom background, a custom header image that doesn’t have text floating on top of it, and a few other aesthetic attributes.  I know that earlier on I said I didn’t want to focus too much on the design aspect of my blog, but now that it’s been up for a few months, I thought it might be time to give it a few tweaks to make it more appealing.

Even though the theme has been changed, I’m still in the process of fiddling around with a background and header that work well, among other things.  Many people like to keep their projects covered up, and once complete, dramatically pull away the sheet revealing the final result.  Not here (if tweaking theme options can qualify as a project).  This will be transparent.  When I decide to make a change, you’ll see it happen even if the rest isn’t yet finished.  So if the blog looks to be in disarray for a while, you know why.

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