Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jodorowsky's Dune

I can’t remember exactly how far into our relationship the question was asked, but I do know that it was within the first few months.

“So have you read Dune?” My yet to be husband asked.

“Dune? No, I haven’t ,” I replied.

“You should read it, it is really good. You would love it.”

Being an overworked and overwhelmed college student at the time, I had not even a minute for pleasure reading, but I was able to carve out time that summer to read the first three books in the Dune series.  

He was right. I loved it! 

After reading the first Dune book, my then boyfriend and I sat down and watched director David Lynch’s movie adaptation of Dune. It has some redeeming qualities, but overall it’s not the greatest movie. 

In 2000 the Syfy channel created a television miniseries based on Dune. It was good, but still it seemed to be missing something.

Prior to David Lynch taking on Dune there was another filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who dreamt of making a film based on the Frank Herbert novel. Jodorowsky first worked to assemble a team of creative-spiritual warriors to work on the movie with him. He wrote a script, story boarded the entire film, had artistic renderings of costumes and sets, and had even cast some of the movie.  Unfortunately, the team could not find a film studio willing to make Jodorowsky’s epic vision. A vision, that would have starred, Mick Jagger, Orson Wells, and Salvador Dali to name a few, and had a yet to be determined length. Jodorowsky thought the movie might run up to 20 hours.  This never made Dune movie has often been touted as one of the greatest films never made, great enough to warrant its own documentary film called, Jodorowsky’s Dune. 

After our Sunday brunch, we headed to The Ritz at the Bourse to see Jodorowsky’s Dune. 

It was a captivating documentary, enhanced by the fact that Jodorowsky, who is now in his 80s, is quite the eccentric character. He is extremely animated and often uses sound effects when he speaks (this delighted me and made me love him all the more). He has an incredible, one might even say enviable imagination, and a unique way of viewing the world.  He is the type of person that I would love to sit down with for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and listen to him speak for hours about the creative process.

The documentary was filled with fun stories about how Jodorowsky recruited Salvador Dali and Orson Wells. It also included many animated versions of the story boards so you could get an idea of what the movie would have looked like. I found it interesting when they showed some of the movies that members of the Dune team went on to make, and how their time working on the Dune film, though it was never made, influenced their future film projects (Alien,Masters of the Universe, Blade Runner etc..).

In the end we decided that although Jodorowsky’s movie would have certainly turned out to be a unique and interesting piece of artistic film making, we probably would not have liked it as a representation of a book we both love. Jodorowsky had actually never read the book Dune when he decided to make the film. A friend of his had merely told him about the book. Jodorowsky was more interested in the spiritual aspects and the ideas of the story. He was not as interested in keeping to the actual plot. His version would have taken a lot of creative license that included an entirely different ending.

If you get a chance I do recommend seeing the documentary.  Even if you aren't a Dune fan, it is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a slightly mad creative genius. 

Perhaps someday another creative genius could take the Dune series and turn it into a Game of Thrones quality television series. I would love to see that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake

This past Saturday we celebrated my Dad’s 82nd birthday with family and cake. 

  On Sunday, we celebrated my cousin Paulette’s birthday by eating brunch at a restaurant named Cake.
 Located in a former conservatory, Cake has a beautiful atmosphere, especially if you go on a bright and sunny spring day. 

 The restaurant is small and they do not take reservations, but when my cousin spoke with them they did give her the tip that if you show up early, you are more likely not to have wait for a seat.  

They were right because we were seated right away, but there were a lot people waiting for tables by the time we left. 

All three of my dining companions ordered the French toast.

 That left me the lone waffle eater. 
   I find restaurant Belgium waffles to be very hit or miss (the miss being when they are too dense and chewy), but I trusted that a place like Cake would know how to do waffles right. I was not disappointed.  The waffle was crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  It was served with peach butter, fresh strawberries, and blueberries. The only disappointment was that the pollen vortex had created an aggressive post nasal vortex that resulted in my tummy feeling wonky, so I didn't get to snarf down my waffle as much as I would have liked for fear of revisiting it sometime later in the day. The wonky tummy thing also did not allow me to try the coffee, but my brunch companions said that the coffee was excellent.  
The food was delicious and the atmosphere was magical. I highly recommend visiting Cake.

After brunch, we decided to take a stroll around lovely Chestnut Hill. 

Because-Bear Bench
 There were a lot of fun stores to explore,

including a neat spice store called Penzeys Spices (which fit in perfectly given the activity we had scheduled later in the day).
 You have to love a store that has “sniffing jars.”

We also visited a pretty garden shop because tis the season to buy and plant plants.
 I love walking around garden centers picking out things to use as landscaping for my imaginary farm and /or estate.

After our pleasant stroll, we bid farewell to my cousin and her husband, then we drove to Olde City for our next adventure of the day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Saturday was Record Store Day. Being lovers of music, we celebrated at one of the coolest music stores around, Main Street Music in Manayunk.

With it being such a lovely day, everyone was out and about, checking out the music fun.

We weren't sure. Maybe a bachelor party?
There was lots of music for sale, both new and gently loved.  The search is all part of the fun. 
I found a few things to bring home (some selections due to Buffy, GAR podcast, and Collingswood Second Saturday).
Once our hunger for music was satiated, we decided to satiate our hunger for food. Fortunately Lucky's Last Chance was conveniently located across the street.

Lucky's Last Chance has a menu filled with interesting burgers and hot dogs.  I decided to go with the People's Choice winner of the 2013 Philadelphia Burger Brawl, the Peanut Butter and Bacon burger.  
I know, I know. You're thinking that it sounds too weird or kind of gross, but it's not what you think. It is not like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on top of a burger. The peanut butter isn't sweet and the grape jelly is only a little sweet, so the combination gave the bacon cheese burger a salty-sweet vibe. It was yummy.  With my burger, I ordered the Main Street fries. They were krinkle cut fries covered in an old bay cheese sauce, so instead of the old bay dusting the fries, it was mixed into the cheese sauce.  They were delicious! I definitely want to go back to try some of the other burgers that my eating companions ordered like the Big Fat Greek burger and the El Guapo burger.   

Our bellies were super full after our lunch, so a walk was in order...hey a bookstore!
All of the best bookstores have resident cats.
We liked their book categories. 
I was excited to see one of my favorite reads of 2013, Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, on the shelf. It was even signed by the author.  I wanted to thrust the book into someone's hands and convince them to take it home.

We are always willing to do our part to give books a good home.
After book shopping, it still seemed like something was missing from our day...oh look, ice cream.

It was a great Record Store Day.  

If you didn't get to celebrate on Saturday, I recommend stopping by your local music store sometime this month. Be sure to show them some love by buying a cd or two. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Bring Home a Toga Clad Wil Wheaton

I love that spring abounds with geeky fun (although record store day is probably more hipster fun...) and this year the geektivities started with International Table Top Day.

If you are not familiar with Table Top, it is a web show hosted by Wil Wheaton (Star Trek TNG, Stand By Me, Eureka, Big Bang Theory). On the show Wil plays board games with his friends. The show is both entertaining and informative. It's a way to preview some pretty cool board games and learn how to play them (some games can be complex so watching someone play them first can be very helpful). Once a year Table Top declares one Saturday in spring as International Table Top Day; a day for everyone around the world to get together and play board games.

Like last year, I celebrated Table Top Day at All Things Fun in Berlin NJ.

Lots of people were there getting their game on.

I met John and his son Shawn. Since I came to the event solo, they were nice enough to let me play games with them.  The first game I played was Koryo.

Koryo is a card game. A card game set in a Steampunk universe with awesome Steampunk card art.  The directions made the game seem a bit confusing, but like a lot of games, once we started playing we got the hang of it.  To put it in the simplest terms, each card has a character that has a specific job. Your goal is to be the person at the end of the game with the most points and you can achieve the most points by having the majority of characters who have the same job (like having the most bankers or ship builders. There are other cards that let you trade cards with other players, ones that protect you from other players stealing your cards, and tokens you can earn, but that's probably too much to go into at the moment). The game is played in eight rounds. With each round you get a brand new hand of cards (the amount of cards diminishes with each round) then you must pick cards to play. It's the kind of game where you won't necessarily know who is going to win until the final round. It was a cool game that I may end up buying at some point. The only downside is that it is only for 2-4 players. Usually when we get together with friends to play games there are at least 6 of us.

The second game I played was Love Letters.

This was also a card game. The cards are numbered and the point of the game is to be the last man standing with the highest numbered card. You start the game with just one card. With each turn you draw one card and then you must play one of your two cards. Each card is an action. The guard allows you to guess another player's card. One of the cards allows you to see another player's card, while another when played, causes another player to discard their card. This was a great for everyone game. It was fun, it moved quickly and it was easy. It would also make a good first warm-up game to play before you move onto something more complicated.  Like Koryo, the only downside is that it is a 2-4 player game.

Since I played two games at the event, I got two tickets to place into the awesome cups of winning.

All of the exclusive Table Top Day swag was placed into prize bundles. I have only played the game 7 Wonders once, but my husband plays it all of the time with his guys group, so when I saw the special Wil Wheaton 7 Wonders card, I knew I had to try winning it. I hedged my bets by placing a ticket into two different cups that contained the card in their bundles. After placing my tickets and crossing my fingers, I had to jet off to a surprise party, so I didn't get the chance the play more games.

I was super excited when I checked my messages in the evening and found out that I had won both prize bundles!  Here is all of my sweet Table Top Day swag.
If I had time to check out any more games during the event, I would have tried Roll For It, so I was happy that I got a mini version to try out at home.  I was also glad that I got two 7 Wonders cards. That way we can have one to play with and another to put away for the next time Wil Wheaton graces us with his presence at a future East Coast Con. I won special cards for a few other games.One was Fluxx, which we own (several versions), so that means I need to buy a tye-dyed shirt (per the card), and Unspeakable Words, which we talked about getting, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

All Things Fun did a great job hosting the event. I look forward to next year's Table Top Day where I'm sure there will be a whole new exciting group of games to check out.

Here is the gang on Table Top playing Unspeakable Words

Additional Comments-
If they weren't scheduled on the same day, and relatively at the same time, I would have also liked to have checked out the first ever Camden Comic Con at Rutgers University. If you are curious about how that event went, you should check out the GAR podcast.

Upcoming fun-

April 19th- Record Store Day-it's a day to go out and support your local music store by buying some music from them. We'll be celebrating Record Store Day at Main Street Music in Manayunk. (they have a great sale and at least last year, they had some free grub too)

May 3rd-Free Comic Book Day-a day to drop by your local comic book shop and get some comics gratis-. All Things Fun also hosts Free Comic Book Day so make sure you stop in and get your comic books