Sunday Salon: Two Views from the Watchtower

This week: a pair of bookend images from the inside of a colonial Puerto Rican guard tower.  The one above looks in one verdant direction; the one that ends this post shows the view when you turn your head 180 degrees to the right.  You can imagine what it must have been like to be the lone sentry in this tiny, fairy-tale tower of an outlook.

This week was "Winter Break" at my Nova Scotian university (the second semester is called "Winter Term," because - strictly speaking - Spring never occurs during the January to April months), so I was in Los Angeles catching up on movies, doing some reading, watching endless Olympics coverage, and soaking up some warm(er) weather.  In fact, it has hardly been the sunny beach weather I had hoped for: it has been more humid here this week than it was in Nova Scotia for months before. 

Not a lot of reading got done today, since it is my last day in California with my beloved.  I am in the midst of Sabriel by Garth Nix and The Slightest Provocation by Pam Rosenthal, neither of which has really grabbed me yet.  In both cases I feel ... I am not sure ... unengaged by the core characters.  What so you, ye who have read either of these books?  Do they become more gripping as they progress?  Am I just coming to them at a somewhat distracted time?

We spent much of today at the IMAX, seeing Avatar in 3D.  Now, after Titanic, which I found irritating in the extreme on its initial release, I swore I would never see another James Cameron film.  And I wasn't really intrigued by the whispers and tidbits I heard about this one.  But D and I finally decided that if we were going to see it at all, we should really see it in all its big-screen, bells-and-whistles, special-effects glory.  And the truth is that it was making enough noise for its innovations that we were going to want to see it eventually.

So off we went, and to be perfectly honest ... I didn't hate it.  I really, really expected to hate it.  It comes down to this: the plot was ham-handed and creakily simplistic, the villains were too wooden and obvious to be satisfyingly villainous, and some of the performances were disappointingly weak.  But the special effects were not among these weaknesses.  The Na'vi (the lanky, enormous, Disney-eyed and cobalt-skinned indigenous peoples of Pandora, the film's colonized world) are so beautifully rendered that it is almost a disappointment for us (like the hero of the film) to return to human society.  This is largely because of the incredibly expressive eyes of the Na'vi; some of their limbs are still rather awkward in slower motions.   As for the 3D - it was an intriguing first experience, but I could honestly do without it.  It had a tendency to slip in and out of focus whenever I changed the angle of my head slightly or turned my gaze to look directly at the extreme corners of the screen.  And I would rather have true depth of field and precision of focus than ferns that reach out to grab me from the screen.

While in LA, I also caught up on some of my blogging.  I will leave you with a list of the week's posts.  Happy March, everyone! Here's hoping that my return to Canada tomorrow is uneventful....

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