Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting to PPSM2!

I have finally arrived in Salem after almost 1600 miles, three days and innumerable, yet still too few cups of coffee. I left early on Friday the 9th and drove to Chicago. As I left home, the clouds were very pointy and tinged with pink as the sun was rising. I wish I had thought to take a picture, but honestly, it didn't even occur to me. Getting from my house to Chicago means driving across the entire state of Iowa, which for some reason on this particular occasion, only smelt like cow poo for about three minutes instead of the entire state. This was a very good way to begin my journey.

There are several things that I pass in Iowa that I like. There is a building just west of Des Moines that has a dome on top that to me, looks like R2D2. See?

Then there are the corn fields. I like driving past corn fields. From a distance, they just look like a bunch of nothing, but then as you pass them, their order and patterns whiz by you and reveal themselves for just a moment. Like this:

Granted, not a wonderful picture, but you try trying to get the corn to pose when you're driving at highway speeds.

The State of Iowa has also planted all kinds of flowers along the roadside, most notably, some kind of Sunflowerish type thing that is very cute with little yellow petals all the way around, and a black center. I tried to get pictures, but 70 mph is a bit to fast to get a picture of cute flowers by the roadside. So here's another picture of Iowa that I like.

I also enjoy the wind farms. There's something about the giant white windmills that I just love.So after getting all the way through Iowa, (drumroll please!)

I got to Illinois! Friday afternoon I stopped in Chicago. I met up with Fire Lyte at his house and got to have Gino's East pizza again! It's the best pizza ever! (Thanks again, FL!) We then went to Witchy Wearables where I bought this: (how cute is this!!!??!!!)
At 7:00, we went to a class there about geneology which to be honest I thought was going to end with a heated debate about whether the people put to death in Salem were 'real witches' or not. (They were not, just in case you're wondering.) However, it was actually quite interesting, if a little longer than it needed to be. Afterward, the woman who had been sitting across the table from FL and myself looked at us and said, "are you Fire Lyte and Velma Nightshade?" It turns out, she had been listening to our latest episode on her way to the class! Two hours later we finally all departed for our respective good night's sleep, and there was MUCH chatting, laughing, and generally being disruptive of whatever all the other people were there for as we stood around the parking lot and had a wonderful time. From left to right in the picture, Mary Kay Mahoney (who did the class), FL, Me, and Aina (the listener!).

After a relatively good slumber, I got up, jumped in the car, an proceeded to listen to Sweet Home Chicago from the Blues Brothers over and over again until I hit Indiana. Unfortunatly, Indiana's sign didn't want to be photographed, so I'll have to get it on the way home. Once I did get to the state line, I had to sing the song Gary, Indiana from the Music Man, as is family tradition, then I proceeded through the rest of the state without incident.

Got to Ohio and again found a camera shy state line sign. I did make a couple of stops in Cleveland...(Hello, Cleveland!!!!!)
I will be posting seperate blog posts about the shops I went to in Salem, as part of my "48 States of Witchy", but I liked both of the ones I went to.
I stopped in Buffalo overnight on Saturday. I thought about going to Niagara Falls, but I realized it would be dark before I would get there and I was tired anyway. I stayed in a very nice hotel with metropolitan spiders hanging out on their webs on the outside of my 7th story window. They were actually very cool spiders *probably made cooler by the fact that they were on the OUTSIDE of the window and not the inside meaning I could look at them close up and have absolutely no fear that they would jump on me and then have to be killed whilst I screamed. I tried to get a picture, but as it was dark outside, the flash just kept reflecting off the glass, and given my previous statement about screaming and killing them, I didn't feel it behooved me to open the window. Plus, they outnumbered me, so I left it alone and ordered room service. There were some very cool buildings I could see out my other window. I have no idea what they were, but I think at least one of them is a bank:
So on Sunday morning, I woke up with the Sun (which was about 7:30 if you're curious), made myself some coffee and hit the road. There were lots of mixed emotions, since it was the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I thought about it sometimes and not at others. However, when I stopped to get gas and saw these in a gift shop, I though it seemed appropriate to get them that day of all days:
After hours of toll road in New York, some of which was lovely and some of which had me bored out of my mind..........ta dah!!!!
Then it was only two more hours before I got to Salem!!! I'm here and settling in nicely. I'm at the same hotel I first stayed in, and even in the same room! I love this room. It's tiny and cute and comfortable and I'll post pictures and give details later on. After dinner (which you can see pictures of on my twitter feed if you're curious) I wandered around town for a little while, then headed back for a leisurely evening. I'll be posting again tomorrow night along with lots more pictures I'm sure!

Good night all!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Ready for PPSM2!!!

I'm all set to go to Salem, MA for the second annual Pagan Podkin Super Moot! I'll be taking my little computer with me, so I'll try to blog while I'm there. I feel so bad that it's been over a month since my last update! Where the hell did August go? Oh, yeah...I was planning and stressing and being excited for PPSM2!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Beginning of a Long Journey

So as you may or may not know, I LOVE to go on road trips. There is not much I like better than jumping in the car with a map, a suitcase and my Harry Potter books on tape and hitting the asphalt. *ok, maybe I do enjoy doing it a bit more in foreign countries where they drive on the wrong side of the road, but my opportunities to do that are fairly limited!* As you probably do know if you've scrolled down far enough on this blog, is that I recently got a new car, which has already had some adventures, but not nearly what it will experience in the next couple of years.

Taking these two things into account, I've decided to give myself a challenge. I want to drive through at least a little of all the 48 states (except Texas...really have NO desire to go to Texas, although maybe my opinion will soften when it's the last of the 48 states). I've already driven through several states, since it was bought in one state and driven through 7 others to get back to my house. However, I think I will add something else to the challenge. I want to not only drive into each state at least once, I also want to visit at least one Witchy shop in each of those states. And I plan to share my journey with you.

Since I've started this challenge not only with the idea of driving through a part of each state, but also going to one shop-per-state, the other states I've been to so far don't count. I have started up a little map for myself, which will probably be kept in the car, that is from a coloring book so I can color in the states as I visit them. I will NOT be going so far as to get one of those vinyl maps put on the back of my car. I think that would be going a bit too far for the Dragon. But I will keep my map, and my camera close by so I can see how far I've gone on my challenge. There will be LOTS of states visited next month. I'll probably head out to my own local witchy shop tomorrow to get a jump on this challenge!

So here's my question to you...what state do YOU live in, and should I happen to be in your state, what's the best Witchy shop YOU know of. Where should I go? Where should I absolutely NOT miss??

(Upon reflection, the visit-a-witchy-shop-in-every-state thing may be virtually impossible in Mississippi, South Dakota and North Dakota. I may have to get creative with what constitutes a 'witchy' shop!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Little Good, A Lot of Bad, and A Gargantuan Ugly

aka....a Review of Harry Potter 7 Part 2




Let me start out by saying that I am a HUGE fan of the Harry Potter books. I am one of the geeks who not only has hardback and paperback copies of all 7, but I also have all 7 audio books, which I listen to on a regular basis. This is part of the reason that road trips in excess of 20 hours don't bother me at all. And book 7 is my favorite. Between reading and listening, I've probably 'read' book 7 20 times. I am very familiar with it. So perhaps my view is a bit skewed and perhaps I am unable to objectively judge the film.

Yesterday, I awoke early enough to head out to the first showing of the day of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at a local movie theatre. My thinking was that there wouldn't be too many people at an 8:45 am showing of this movie on a Saturday morning, and luckily I was right. I sat down and impatiently watched trailers for a bunch of movies that look bad, stupid, or like they were made simply to make money, and eagerly awaited the final part in the beloved Harry Potter series. The climax. The end. The final chapter that we stood in line at bookstores at midnight to find out. I thought this would be the best one of all. It SHOULD have been the best one of all. However.....I think it was the worst.

I'll start with the good points.

-Snape is wonderful. Snape's death and the memory sequence were beautifully done. They were tragic and sad and Alan Rickman was magnificent in the role. I cried. A lot.

-The poor tortured dragon in the depths of Gringotts was fantastically animated. They did a very good job of showing the emaciated, abused, sun-starved, blinded dragon and making it very organic and believable...I actually felt really bad for him.

-There were a few lines they added, like Professor McGonagall telling Molly Weasley "I've always wanted to use that spell" that were funny and charming and broke the tension nicely.

-The idea that Voldemort's voice was not magnified over the castle, but rather projected into every one's heads actually worked very seems like something Voldemort would do and certainly makes him seem like an imminent threat.

-The protective bubble that the teachers create around the school is very well illustrated...more like a living membrane of magic than just a soap bubble, which I think is a wonderful example of the organic nature of magic, no matter what definition of magic you're using.

These are all pretty small things, by comparison, and are all short snippets of the film.

Now for the bad.
I realize some of these are nit-picky things, so I'll try to put them in order of least annoying to most.

-Olivander knows about the Hallows. I'm more ok with this than most of the other problems, since it occurs at the beginning of the film, and they're trying to remind the audience about the tale of the three brothers. It's inaccurate, but hardly a major problem.

-There is no Flagrante curse on the treasure in the Lestrange's vault, thus the only threat is that the treasure will expand, instead of also burning them.

-There is no enchanted cage for Nagini. I was kind of looking forward to seeing how they would do that.

-Cho appears as a student, even though she would have graduated the previous year.

-Apparently Neville is secretly in love with Luna? Since when!??

-They stab the diadem instead of it being destroyed in the Fiend Fire. Which is never described as Fiend Fire. A very minor detail that I'm pretty willing to overlook.

-There are far too many death eaters. It seems as though the CGI artists watched Lord of the Rings one too many times, and decided they needed an animated cast of thousands so the battle would seem bigger, instead of focusing on the individual elements and fights within the battle, which is part of what makes the battle so interesting in the book. It's the fact that we know the characters who are fighting, and to see the skill they've acquired in a war-like scenario is something we've never seen before, and thus, is interesting and exciting.

-The epilogue is very somber. There is no kidding around between Harry's children, which is the whole reason Albus Severus is worried about ending up in Slytheryn. There's no playful teasing between Ron and Hermione. More importantly, there doesn't seem to be any true happiness in anyone. It's kind of like everyone drank a bottle of NyQuil before shooting the scene.

-There is no evacuation of the students. The Slytheryns are simply all sent to the dungeon to be imprisoned during the battle.

-Luna is apparently friends with Helena Ravenclaw, the Gray Lady. The entire scene between Harry and Helena just seemed wrong. Then again, they had to get out of the situation they put themselves in in the 6th movie when they had Ginny hide the book in the room of requirement instead of Harry. Which is a situation they never should have been in to start with.

- They never say that it's Hufflepuff's cup. This is probably because they never showed the memory of Voldemort finding the cup and stealing it. In this regard, they started majorly screwing up in movie 6.

-They show Ron and Hermoine going down into the Chamber of Secrets to get the Basalisk fangs and stabbing Hufflepuff's cup. This is no problem with me. However, after it's over, they just randomly grab each other and kiss. It felt like they had to get the kiss in, but they didn't have any other place to put it, so they just stuck it in. It seemed very contrived and forced.

-Harry confronts Snape in the Great Hall in front of the whole school. This is just downright wrong. There's not much more I can say about this.

-Harry can 'hear' the the hoarcruxes. I guess they had to make up for the fact that in the movies, he knows so little about them that he has no other way to identify them. Personally, I found this a bit lame, not to mention kind of silly.

-Harry and Voldemort can both sense when a hoarcrux is destroyed. Again, this is just wrong.

-Voldemort faces come out of the hoarcruxes when they are destroyed. This is one of the many effects that seems to have been created simply because they decided to shoot this movie for 3-D, which was completely unnecessary and frequently caused things to not really make sense. Like the fabric coming off of Voldemort's robes to bind Harry. Like Nagini, Bellatrix and Voldemort exploding when they die. Not in the book. Totally unnecessary...only there for cool 3-D effects. What's interesting about the faces specifically is that they didn't do that effect when they destroyed the locket in 7 part 1, thus making part 2 inconsistent with part 1.

-Having Harry and Voldemort's final battle be just the two of them, instead of in front of the whole wizarding world really bothered me. The whole point of the 8 pages of Harry belittling and insulting Voldemort in front of everyone, calling him Riddle, telling him to try for some degree of remorse for all the evil that he's done, this is all very important to Harry's ultimate story of becoming a man, being stronger than Voldemort, being the true champion for the Wizarding World and truly accepting his position as the one who has to kill Voldemort. That was all missing. It was just the two of them, and after it was all over, there was no celebration. He walks back through the Great Hall, with pretty much everyone ignoring him, just chatting to each other like they're having Sunday afternoon tea. Everything is so slow and sedate and somber. Not like they're mourning their dead even. More like they really just don't care about what has happened. Like it has no effect on them.

Now for the Gargantuan Ugly

-This movie felt like an insult to fans of the book. It may be an ok movie if all you know is the movies, although I've been told by friends who haven't read the books that it felt a little anticlimactic. But as a fan of the books, I was really looking forward to the final book's movies. I couldn't wait to see Harry finally confront Voldemort and win and to see the celebration and the joy that followed such a momentous occasion. I was excited to see the reactions of the crowd when they saw what was happening and the look on Dumbledore's face as he beamed down at Harry from his portrait after Harry has finally won the war. I was eager to be on the edge of my seat, even though I knew how it would work out, waiting to cheer when good finally conquered evil and all was right with the wizarding world again. And they threw all of that out the window and made up their own ending. This is supposed to be the climax for the entire series...all 8 movies...the whole she-bang. And they blew it. I truly feel that had they gotten the last 15 minutes of the movie right, all could have been forgiven for earlier discrepancies. But they didn't. It felt as if they didn't even really try. It's kind of like instead of blowing up the Death Star and the Ewoks celebrating, they made it simply fade into the distance and the Ewoks went back to doing laundry. It's just wrong on so many levels that it shouldn't even have been done. It killed the tension. They should have had the audience cheering at the end, instead of yawning as they leave the theater asking their 9 year old son who looks like he just woke up if he wants to go bowling.

And there was no reason for it. All they had to do was go by the book. Everything was written for them, from the feel of the story to the motivation for the characters, from the script to the set decoration. It was already there and it was already perfect. And they threw it out of the window and told their own way. Which means it's not really Harry Potter.

More than anything else, I'm just so disappointed by it. 7 part 1 was actually pretty good, and although a little different from the book, pretty faithful by movie standards, and it set up part 2 very well. I didn't expect to be disappointed that much. I expected to get goosebumps and chills and to cry when Fred died and to cheer and dance in the aisles when Harry finally wins.

And I didn't.

Did you?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

4th of July Candle Spell

Like so may spells that I have copied from other sources, I don't remember where this came from. I'm pretty sure it's from one of Llewellyn's Spell a Day Almanacs, but I'm not sure which one. This could easily be adapted if you're in a different country. Just use your own national colors and change around the wording to make it appropriate. As you can probably tell, you just set up your three candles, in this case red, white, and blue, and then recite the prayer as you light each one.

Oh candle of white
I give you flame.
Your light is that of truth and purity.
As you burn, give clarity to our leaders
so that they will know the right path to take.
And to those who face conflict ahead
Give spiritual strength, a beacon to light the way.

Oh candle of red
I give you flame.
Your light is that of strength and courage.
A symbol of war, of blood and passion.
Bless us with the power to face evil
Without allowing evil to overcome and possess us.

Oh candle of blue
I give you flame.
Your light is that of peace and tranquility,
Guide us so that our actions will lead to
peace for all those who desire it,
and the Earth will be safe for all its children.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dragon

The week leading up to Memorial Day, I drove to my parent's house some 16 hours from my own and had a lovely relaxing week, punctuated only by a truly awful car-buying experience. I won't go into the details because they are mostly either boring or they make me mad, but suffice it to say it was 9 hours of my life that I would really love to have back.

At any rate, as horrible as the buying experience was, I LOVE my new car. It is a Nissan Juke, which no one on the planet has ever heard of except Nissan and the people who happen to own them. Personally, I think it looks a bit like a dragon, and thus I refer to it as 'the dragon'. I've never been one to give cars names, but I like the idea of Velma the Witch riding a Dragon.

After driving a Jeep for many years, I had forgotten what it's like to have a car that actually goes when you put the pedal down. It's a bit like making the jump to light speed in Star Wars if you ask and terrifiying all at the same time. I love it!
(I should point out that the Dragon is not this color, nor does it have the uber-cool British liscence plate, but it was the most dragon-y angle I could find of the car. Don't you think it looks kinda like a dragon? Complete with flaring nostrils! No, I'm not crazy, I promise!)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recipe Book

I recently got a coupon for a 40% discount at Borders Books and Music (although there's really no music anymore) and actually decided to use it. Normally, I ignore coupons for Borders, since they almost never have what I want in-store, and ordering through Amazon is cheaper and faster than ordering from them. But 40% off is pretty good, so figured I would go poke around and see what I could find. What I found was a pretty little journal. I am very big on pretty little journals, and have a plethora of them that may or may not actually ever had ink touch the page. I think it's probably an offshoot of my love of books. These are books that are perpetually full of promise; full of potential. Anyway, I found this lovely little reddish book with lovely gold detailing and embossing on the cover and an attached ribbon bookmark and an elastic band to keep it secret and keep it safe and all that other lovely precious-ness about a lovely new journal.
However, I didn't want it to be yet another lovely new journal sitting on a shelf with no ink ever touching its pages, so I decided I would turn it into my recipe book. Not my actual kitchen-type recipe book, but for my witchy recipe book of incense, tea, oils and other curious things. Never being one to be satisfied with a normal book with just ink in it, I've been adding pages to it, changing things around and making it as witchy as possible using pretty little scrap booking supplies. I also added a name plate to the front, as well as nifty little brassy thingies on to the front cover for added effect. I even added a little section in the back like the Practical Magic book of shadows that flips out from the back cover, although it only has about 20 pages in it. I've spent many a Charmed rerun filling it up and while there are still many pages to fill, I think it will probably be completely full by the end of the 4th of July weekend. I have acquired another one of these same journals in an odd yellow color, and intend to do the same thing to it once I finally cram the red one as full as possible.
I'm quite pleased with the way it's turning out. I hope it doesn't fall apart. My previous endeavors in altering journals usually ends bitterly with them losing entire sections of pages and generally makes me mad enough that I ignore the book's existence for a little while until the mood strikes me to start over and then I do. I don't usually use journals that are quite as nice as this one tough, and I'm hoping that will save me from the pain of a beautiful recipe book falling apart in my hands. Usually I use the uber-cheap blank books from Borders that are the 9X12ish size and about an inch think, which REALLY don't like it when you break their spines. This one is much better put together. I've included a pic of the red one with it's fancy do-dads on the cover, and the yellow one which is still pristine. One of my friends told me I should do the decorating on these and sell them, but I'm not sure I could do it...I tend to get attached when I work on them!
(And yes, that is my kitchen, and yes, the little gypsy woman and her crystal ball are salt and pepper shakers. Someday I'll tell you about my salt and pepper shakers. Hehehehehe)