Nonword of the Week: Moveclusion

Moveclusion: that moment when you realize you have unpacked all the boxes and everything is finally in its proper place; the end of a relocation.

Example: It took a couple of weeks for Chelsea’s new adventure to come to its moveclusion – next up: finding a job.

Related nonwords: packaholic, boxidemic, rejourney

Kitten on Box Fort

All done moving – I think that everything is where it’s supposed to be.  I’m all out of boxes to unpack, anyway.  I’m pretty impressed that I found room for all of the stuff I brought without filling the new apartment to the brim.  I mean, I still have room for books on my bookshelf!

Have a unique nonword of your own? Leave a comment!
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Disclaimer: I do not condone idle word-mangling. Please mangle your words with care. Should not be attempted by the faint of heart or those with reading disorders. Side-effects include peculiar looks, disapproving frowns, essay markdowns, and utter confusion.

Draw Something Sunday: Ice Skating

Draw Ice Rink By CRash

Last Sunday in January!  Get your ice skating in while you still can!

Friday Evening at Titlow Park


It was a gorgeous clear day, so I biked down to Titlow Park to watch the sun set over Puget Sound.  I also took my iPad along, and did a quick speedpaint of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset.  It took somewhere around 30-45 minutes, and was tricky since the light kept changing as the sun moved closer to the horizon.

Once again, the uphill bike ride home was killer.  The park is great incentive, though – near enough and pretty enough to make it worth the exercise on the return trip.  Might this become a self-imposed workout routine?  Only if there are more clear, sunny days like this one!


Draw Something Sunday: American Idol


I didn’t feel like doing a new speedpaint this Sunday, so I decided to try something new and post one of my Draw Something doodles.  (For those who don’t know, Draw Something is basically Pictionary for mobile devices.)

In honor of American Idol’s return this week, I decided to post an American Idol-themed doodle that I drew for my mom a while back.

Saturday Snapshot: Heron

Heron By CRash

Here is the heron from my trip to Titlow Lagoon.  It was very people-shy, flying to a different part of the pond whenever a jogger or a bicyclist (like me) passed nearby on the trail.

Adventure of the Day


I just moved to a new apartment in Tacoma last weekend, and have been unpacking boxes quite busily for the past few days.  Today I took a break because the weather was gorgeous – sunny, mostly clear, but chilly (about 40 degrees F).  I was determined to try riding my bicycle for the first time since last May.

My first snag: the rear tire was quite squishy.  It wasn’t flat, but it definitely needed some air.  I suspected that this might be the case, and I was prepared.  Although I didn’t have a pump myself (long story; my last one was attached to a bike that was stolen), I knew that the nearest gas station was three and a half blocks away.

Now, if I had wanted to do things the easy way, I would have just crammed my bicycle into my little Nissan (it has been done), and driven those three and a half blocks in the car.  But noooo.  It was a beautiful day, and I was determined to get some real exercise.  So I grabbed my coat, gloves, and helmet and headed out to begin my quest.

My second snag: this was Tacoma.  It was not Phoenix, where everything is flat excepting the mildest of inclines.  There is a tall rock that juts up by my last apartment called “A” Mountain.  Let’s just say that “A” Mountain could fit easily inside the hill on which my new apartment rests.  Oh, and the nearest gas station is in the uphill direction.

Being the genius I am, I decided not to ride up the steep side of the hill, on a road with no bike lanes or sidewalks.  I chose the slightly-less-steep side, with bike lanes.  That didn’t change the fact that halfway up the hill I was huffing and puffing, trying to make progress on a bike with a squishy tire with legs that haven’t been seriously worked out in half a year.

I ended up walking the bike the last two blocks.

Thankfully, some luck was in my favor.  The gas station had a working air pump that accepted quarters, and soon my bike tires were full and I was a little rested.  Time for the fun part of the adventure!


A Google map of my brief adventure. The bottom left marker is my apartment (roughly). The bottom right marker is the gas station at the top of the hill. The upper marker is the beach access by Titlow Park. At the top of the map you can see 16, which crosses the Tacoma Narrows Bridge just above the crop.

Now that I was at the top of this hill, it was all downhill from here.  I started coasting as soon as I crossed the street after the gas station, and then I didn’t stop.  I flew back down the three and a half blocks to my apartment, but I didn’t stop there.  I kept going downhill – and in about three more blocks I had gone as far as I could, having reached Puget Sound. (For reference, my apartment is south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge: I can see it from my balcony.)

I coasted right down into a pretty little place called Titlow Lagoon, where there are a few walking/biking paths that extend all the way around the lagoon.  Here I encountered my first Seattle wildlife: ducks, seagulls, crows, and a gorgeous heron who eyed me suspiciously. In the park, I also encountered Seattle not-so-wildlife: a collie, a Shih-Tzu, two other small dogs, two Labradors (yellow and black), and a poodle.  These were accompanied by their owners, naturally.

After my tour of Titlow Park and its lagoon, I crossed the railroad tracks to see how close I could get to the actual Sound.  The answer: all the way.  There’s a small public beach south of Titlow Park, though it looks a bit rocky.  I didn’t go down onto the beach myself because I had my bike (plus I was ready to head back at this point).  There’s a neat little cafe and a tavern right there by the park that I noted for future reference.

Finally, the trip home.  Uphill again.  This time I made it about halfway back before I had to start walking my bike again.  I should note that while my apartment is in the middle of a large hill, it is also on top of a small hill of its own.  I don’t know if I could ride up that thing even if I were in the best of shape.  I might explore to find an alternate route next time.

Anyway, I eventually made it back (yay!) and slogged myself up to my new third-floor apartment.  One Tacoma adventure down, hopefully many more to come!

Nonword of the Week: Shovelcize

Shovelcise: the daily workout that inevitably follows heavy snowfalls. 

Example: Chelsea’s new workout routine included an hour and a half of shovelcise.

Related nonwords: flinter, excacrucivation, iglooless

This afternoon was spent moving piles of solid water from one part of the property (driveway) to another (berms beside driveway).  I had several inches of thick, wet snow – getting ever thicker and wetter since it was 36 degrees – to deal with.  Let’s just say it was the best workout I’ve gotten in a while.

Shovelcise by CRash

Our sidewalk, post-shovelcise. I’d like to thank the fancy bent-handle shovel, for making things just that much easier.

Have a unique nonword of your own? Leave a comment!
Not sure what a nonword is? Check out my first nonword of the week.

Disclaimer: I do not condone idle word-mangling. Please mangle your words with care. Should not be attempted by the faint of heart or those with reading disorders. Side-effects include peculiar looks, disapproving frowns, essay markdowns, and utter confusion.

Saturday Snapshot: Ski Lift

Ski Lift By CRash

Second snowmobile trip to Mt. Spokane.  It was cloudy, but the ski lift rose out of the clouds.  So did we, climbing up to take a look at the view.

Initial Impressions: The Hobbit Part 1 of ∞

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Poster

I just saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  I chose to save rereading the book until after I saw the movie, on the recommendation of a friend.  I’ll probably have more to say when I finish my reread.  But here is a spoiler-rich collection of my first impressions, broken down into categories.

Scenery:  Beautiful, naturally.  Score another tally for the New Zealand tourism industry. There was always something on screen to engage my eyes.  One question – does it ever get foggy in Rivendell?  Rosy sunlight seems to be a natural aspect of the setting, as does clear night sky.  Oh, and speaking of sunlight, it never rains in the Shire, either.

The “darkness” scenes seemed much brighter here than in the previous films (remember Helm’s Deep?  Neither can I; I couldn’t see it).  My guess is that this was a surrender to 3D, which tends to darken films.  It felt kind of odd, though, to notice how well-lit Gollum’s cave was (I’m surprised he doesn’t get sunburned) and how well mere torchlight illuminates an entire goblin cavern.

Plot: Aside from backstory and battles, there isn’t much substance to the plot (understandable since it’s 110 pages of book plus some appendix material).  I’m sure after I reread the book I’ll have more quibbles, but at the moment just the obvious stuff stands out.  Why did Radagast run in circles around the dwarves instead of away from them?  How was that chain of dwarves able to hang off the pine tree for ten minutes straight?  Why didn’t the eagles just fly the whole gang to the Lonely Mountain – it’s right there!  A thrush was able to span the distance in 30 seconds!

Characterization:  Ehhh.  The characters the audience knew did a good job of holding their ground.  But because there were so many characters, most came off as flat.  The number of dwarves doesn’t help, just as it didn’t in the book.  The need to distinguish everybody from one another meant that every character, not just the dwarf mob, was given one primary mode (young, old, quirky, funny, noble, angry, wry, etc.) to play.  This made the new characters feel quite one-dimensional, like Radagast (who came off as a little too silly for my taste) and Thorin (grumpy man on a mission).  Gollum shone in this ensemble because of the tension between his two personalities.

My biggest problem was the fabricated dislike-to-acceptance arc with Bilbo and the dwarves. At some time in the editing of Part One, it was decided that this would be the major characterization of Bilbo for this section.  It’s kind of a disaster, because now Bilbo is forced to be ridiculously heroic very quickly, so ridiculous as to leap from a tree wielding a sword to save Thorin’s life (never happened in the book).  What ever happened to Gandalf’s spiel about the importance of little everyday goodness?  Because obviously you have to be willing to sacrifice your life in a futile gesture in order to make an impression in this movie.  Yuck.

Script: It got the job done.  Sadly, it didn’t leave much of an impression.  The “Riddles in the Dark” scene was probably the best, and also probably the truest to the original book.  But most of the movie is visual-based, like its predecessors, and the actual talking comes in second.  I did like Bilbo’s speech about home near the end, and I think that would have been a good place to end the movie (but noooo, here comes more Wargs).

Performances:  Aces all the way, particularly for the characters that were established in the movie trilogy.  Impressive, considering the so-so script and general lack of characterization.  Martin Freeman nailed Bilbo’s sensible-hobbit attitude.  Gandalf is back to his old grey self, courtesy of Ian McKellen. Most of the dwarves came off well too, despite being buried in layers of beard and costume.  And somebody needs to give Andy Serkis some kind of acting award before fans and critics alike storm the red carpet at the Oscars.  It’s too bad this is the last we’ll see of him in the Hobbit saga.

Warg Versus Wolf (The Hobbit) by CRash

Creature Design:  

Wargs. Don’t get me started on the Wargs.  I’ve always pictured them as very wolf-like, ever since my original Hobbit experience.  For some bizarre reason the movie designers seem to feel the need to skew off on non-wolf tangents. They have improved since the original trilogy (wonky hyena-rats), but the new alterations still leave a lot to be desired, particularly in the face.  The elongated ears and squished muzzles suggest nothing more than mutated bunnies. At least give them a canine jaw, for goodness’ sake!

Gollum.  Far and away the best CGI, and likely the place where the most time was spent, as well.  I believe I read that the Gollum scenes were filmed very early on in production. There is so much more animation in his face, which helped with expressing the life of the character.  The lamplike eyes were well-managed, too.  This digital puppet was the only character I actually felt sorry for in the film (though they might have toned-down the puppy-dog eyes just a little).

Orcs/Goblins. Pretty good job.  Aside from Azog and the Goblin King, they all kind of blended together for me, but I guess that was the point.

One question: Have hobbit feet gotten bigger?  Or are they just being shown more frequently than in the original trilogy?  Because both Bilbo’s and Frodo’s are huge.

Drama: Here’s where there needs to be some editing.  Every face-off is epic in scope, every one-on-one moment is slow-motioned.  I know this is PETER JACKSON PRESENTS: LORD OF THE RINGS: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY: PART ONE OF THREE, but if the dramatization was dialed back even a little I think it would help with the running time of the film.  If Galadriel turned around a bit faster, if Thorin charged Azog at full speed, if there were a few less wide-angle shots of dwarves running around New Zealand, the pace might have improved.

Pacing: I’ve read some reviews that complained about the start of the movie’s pacing, but I actually had a lot more trouble with the ending.  I didn’t mind hanging out with Bilbo and Frodo for a bit in Bag End.  What I did mind was heavy doses of battle sequences.  I know, I know: comes with the territory with Peter Jackson’s interpretation, but it became very video-gamey.  Which level are we battling now?  Flashback to Smaug, check. Trolls, check.  Flashback to Azog, check. Warg scouts, check.  Stone-giants, check.  Goblin King, check. Azog-in-person, check.  I can’t wait for the spiders and the dragon and the GIGANTIC BATTLE that are still to come in the next couple of movies.

Viewing:  I saw the old-fashioned 2D version, which was just fine.  What was not fine were the 3D gimmicks.  I don’t mean using 3D to explore the fullness of the world, but gags for the sake of being gags.  The passage of the dwarves from the Stone-giants through the entire goblin realm did pretty much nothing for a 2D viewing audience.  It would have been fine to see the giants from a distance, as in the book, without having the confusion of the dwarves clinging to rocks which were moving around other rocks and not really sure which way is up.  I also could have done without the literal tumbling of the dwarf-party into the cave – I hope you IMAX viewers enjoyed that, because it was pretty worthless to us.  Here’s an idea – put out a version of The Hobbit edited for 2D, without the 3D-tailored gags and sequences.  I’m sure we could get it under 2.5 hours.

Callbacks:  This is very much a movie for the fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy.  The Hobbit was chalk-full of references and sly winks, from characters (Gloin is clearly Gimli’s father) to actions (dramatic fall of The One Ring onto Bilbo’s finger) to props (“Party Business” sign at Bag End) to music, scenery, speeches, etc.  I’m really not sure how I would have taken it as a newcomer to the film-LotR world.  Probably would have felt left out of the joke.

Overall, I liked the movie.  I think it ran a little long, but it was pretty much what I expected it to be.  It was a nice trip back to the LotR movie universe.  Now I’m off to reread the book and find more things to nitpick. :)