Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday at the Movies: Disney's "The Great Mouse Detective" (1986)

For those who couldn't tell from my hint last week, this week's movie is the Disney animated classic The Great Mouse Detective, featuring the wickedly good voice talents of the late Vincent Price. Younger audiences today might not recognize Price's name, but they've certainly heard his voice in Michael Jackson's Thriller and perhaps even in school in an audio-taping of selected works of Edgar Allan Poe. As a lover of classic Gothic horror (not to mention Poe), I've seen all his collaborations with director Roger Corman, but Price's role here as Pr. Ratigan (the mouse version of Sherlock Holmes' nemesis Pr. Moriarty) is can't-miss. It was also a big risk for Disney--remember: Disney had a huge slump in the 70s and 80s which they didn't recover from until 1989's Little Mermaid. Their last feature film The Black Cauldron was a huge flop that critics slammed for being too dark and not the typical Disney fun. A mystery set in London's grim alleyways and pubs with Vincent Price of all actors doesn't really indicate a break from "too dark."

Did I mention that Vincent Price is so awesome that even in rodent film he has a trained pet cat to eliminate his enemies? Yeah, he's that badass.

However, the story--based on the Basil of Baker Street books, a sort-of retelling of Sherlock Holmes with mice--is reminiscent of such "animalized" versions of classic stories as Robin Hood. Black Cauldron was more esoteric in its source material, so it's likely this movie's Sherlock Holmes references made it easier for audiences to relate.

The Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of the mouse world.

The story begins with Olivia Flaversham, a the young daughter of a toy maker who has been kidnapped. When she is guided by a somewhat reluctant Dr. Dawson to Baker Street where the detective Basil lives beneath the famed Holmes, the three are immediately thrown into a partnership once Basil realizes the culprit is none other than Pr. Ratigan--his greatest nemesis. With the help of an adorable basset hound named Toby, Dawson's logic, Olivia's innocent curiosity and Basil's rather eccentric attention to detail, Ratigan's plots begin to unravel and a secret threat to the monarchy is unveiled.

Olivia, Dawson, and Basil.

Despite some rousing song-and-dance numbers from Price as Ratigan (possibly one of the best villain songs EVER in my opinion) and a great storyline, this movie has some questionable moments in it. They aren't bad, but are certainly questionable given the context of a children's movie. In fact, the first time I watched this film again as an adult was while baby-sitting and THANK GOD those kids' parents picked them up before the final third of movie or I would have had to explain this to a three and five year old:
Burlesque mouse stripper singing songs filled with innuendo whilst being leered and lusted over by the scum of a seedy London riverside pub--I need a parent here right now(Oh, that 80s sexual revolution)! But seriously, the song and burlesque number need to find their way into the next Sherlock Holmes movie. I nominate Dita von Teese.

The other scene is more just scary--in fact, it's probably one of the most frightening final battle sequences I've seen in an animated Disney film simply for the fact that it's very believable. It takes place inside Big Ben--in the gears and then on the clock face, during a thunderstorm nonetheless, and during the scene Ratigan seems to morph into this rabid, demonic-looking Mr. Hyde of a rodent. The animators show his fur and teeth raised and poised to kill, and he moves steathily--it almost reminds me of the way the Beast moves in Beauty and the Beast (perhaps an early inspiration?). I don't know how the burlesque number and the terror of the final scene went over my head as a child, but WOW--some dark, adult material for a kid's movie,eh?

The climactic battle on Big Ben.

All things considered, it really is a great movie and lots of fun. It may be a bit dark for Disney, but the mood is kept up by the music and the charm of the characters. A great nolstagia film, just be sure to be present as a parent if you're introducing it to younger kids. It's great for Disney fans as well as those who love a good Vincent Price film. And basset hound lovers:

He's sooooooo cute!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Mini-Album with Pockets from 1 Sheet of Paper

The promised craft tutorial is here! I'm very glad I'm not the least bit sick, and it appears my mother is much better too, so to celebrate I'm sharing this cool papercraft with you. I've divided the video into 3 parts, all below. This isn't my original tutorial, it's one I learned from Creations by Christie's tutorial on youtube, so all credit goes to her. If you like this craft, she has variations on it as well as other fun ideas! I like to make these as hostess gifts, thank you gifts, or even holiday cards. As I mention, they are also perfect for holding small photos such as Purikura photostickers which are popular in both lolita and gal culture.

Part 1: Intro and materials:

Again, the materials I used were: 1 sheet double-sided scrapbook paper (12x12 in), a ruler, pencil, scissors, about 22 in of ribbon, a hot glue gun and a decorative button. I meant to say printer paper when I said notebook paper.

Part 2: Making the Pocket Mini-Album!:

I think this video cuts off at the end, but I basically just say how the ribbon holds the book together, and then show where to place the button over the ribbon on the front cover (as illustrated in the next video). You could alternatively use craft glue (such as Glossy Accents, as Christie does) rather than a hot glue gun.
Tip: when you make your 2 inch mark with your ruler and pencil, put it in the very center for more precision. Also, about 7 minutes in--Napoleon cameo appearance (my cat)!

Part 3: Finished product:

I would have taken a final photo, but the finished mini-album is already on its way to the recipient. But Christie's original video has really quality footage of the results, so I would recommend referring back to her tutorial for more precise images and instructions.

As I said, I'm not an expert (only made about 3 or so as gifts), but I found these very easy to make--not to mention they're not too costly to produce, and they are so fun to personalize with ribbon, buttons, charms,etc. There are tons of possibilities!


P.S.: If you don't have a Purikura photo-sticker machine near you (or a photobox that does similar at your local mall), you can take your photos and make printable Purikura-style pictures at Puricute, then print them on photopaper or stickerpaper at home. You can also buy sticker sheets directly from the site. I just made this one as an example:
Hope you all enjoyed this project idea--if you make some please send me a picture or link to your blog/tumblr entry so I can share your creation ♥

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun Meme on EGL and Fighting off the Neighborhood Bug

Hey, everyone--sorry I missed Monday at the Movies (I have the movie post all ready to go for next Monday though--hint: It's a little bit Disney, and a little bit "Pricey") this week. We've had an awful bug going around my apartment complex and my immune system went all to heck yesterday and much of today. I got a lot of good sleep though, and it would appear I didn't catch the worst of it.

Speaking of catching what's going around, I wanted to share this adorable image meme going around the egl comm. It was created by lemontree11 in this post on egl, so if you use it, be sure to credit. The theme is what you're wearing and what's in your purse today. I did my Sunday outfit with the accessories I took to the park:

So cute! Hope to post a cool craft for you all by the end of the week.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vlog: Giveaway Package from Dolly's Misadeventures!

I received a package from Samantha @ Dolly's Misadventures the other day from the giveaway on her blog awhile back and just had to do a little video post about her and her blog as a thank you (I'm also going to send you a little thank you gift too, Samantha, so I'll let you know when it's on its way)♥

Coordinate shots for today: 1, 2, 3, 4

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday at the Movies: "The Lost Valentine"

"I think people will take away how people can, you know, get along with a lot of people, but so often there's that one special relationship that is your whole life--and you live on it your whole life." That's what actress Betty White had to say in her behind-the-scenes interview on the set of The Lost Valentine, the new Hallmark film that premiered late January on CBS. I'm a huge fan of Jennifer Love Hewitt's Ghost Whisperer series and an enormous Betty White fan, so I decided to sit down with my mother and enjoy a little sappy melodrama. Except for this sappy melodrama was actually pretty good. Very good, even.

Left: Susan meets Lucas, Caroline's grandson; Right: Caroline with the stationmaster, waiting for Lt. Thomas to return on Valentine's Day.

The story is based on the New York Times Bestseller of the same title by James Michael Prat, and follows the path of a young journalist named Susan Allison who has been assigned to do a story on an old woman who waits for her husband to return to her every year on Valentine's day. At first wanting to passover the story for less sentimental material, Allison can't help feel pulled into the dramatic war-torn past of Caroline Thomas. Caroline's husband was reported MIA in the Pacific during World War II, but she never received closure as to what happened to him. When he left on Valentines Day as a young soldier in the US Navy, she promised she'd meet him back at the station when he returned--and so she waits there, every year, hoping for a miracle. And as Allison is pulled closer into Caroline's world and the strength of her love, she begins to question her own relationships and slowly unravels the mystery surrounding the fate of Lt. Thomas...

Left: Caroline and Susan prepare for Lt.Thomas' return; Right: a Valentine's Day farewell as the soldiers ship out.

I was very impressed with this. As a film on its own, it isn't anything terribly special. However, as a Hallmark primetime special airing on a Pro Football Sunday timeslot, this is one helluva triumph! To beat out Fox and NBC and Football to take home the largest amount of viewers that night is pretty damn phenomenal, no doubt also attributed to the staggering drawing power of Betty White whose performance was heartwrenching and inspiring. Just goes to show how versatile an actress she is, at any age. Hewitt was a great opposite her for this because she's well-known enough to catch your attention but not so much that she takes away from White and Meghann Fahy (who plays younger Caroline and definitely deserves a nod for her performance). She appears naive but focused, an intelligent woman who is ready to learn from someone older, like Caroline (or indeed, Betty White!).

The young couple vows to be together again one day when the war is done.

The story touches on some relevant cultural issues, such as the disconnect that exists between Americans and our military families and--of course--how the loved ones that soldiers leave behind fight their own kind of battles everyday. We know friends of the family with children and parents in service right now, so this movie really made me think about that. Of course, history buffs and lovers of 1940s culture (my best friend included, I told her I'm getting her this movie 'cause she has a penchant for the era) will also find the story moving and filled with vibrant images of both the homefront and the violent Pacific battlegrounds. I'm a sucker for period movies told in flashback frame device (read: favorite movie Titanic), so I had to see this one. It was not as predictable as one might expect a sappy Hallmark film to be, but I promise you: you WILL cry. A lot. Bring tissues. This is a story about hope, about sacrifice, but ultimately about love--love that you live on, as Betty so poignantly put it.

Valentines Day Coord and Goodwill Snags

I have a video blog entry coming, but I'm having some audio sync issues right now so I apologize! Here's a preview of my Valentines Day outfit in the meantime.

I'm trying my smolder out,lol. It probably still registers as derp though XD

Full shot of the coordinate A, B, and C. The hat is a new thrift find of mine--more on my Goodwill shopping hoard later this week. I'm getting used to my new webcam and it seems to be working fine except when I go to upload it to youtube, the audio goes all screwy. When I patch the vlog entry up, I'll repost it here.

I fixed it! The vlog entries seem to be a-okay on my photobucket, so there they shall go. Sorry for the technical difficulties--Happy Valentines Day!
Please excuse my "styrofoam" comment, they are of course regular rubber foam faux flowers, and I don't know why I called an atomizer an "aromatizer" or whatever. Too much/little caffeine methinks, lol. I also don't think I'm going to post to daily_lolita, just because I don't feel polished enough--I want to add long white gloves and white or red lacey tights with white Edwardian style shoes like the pair Julie Andrews is wearing! Rest of goodwill hoard later this week (including some cool vintage finds and more hats):

Monday at the Movies later on today featuring the lovely and talented Betty White!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dolls: Blythe and Littlest Pet Shop Collaboration

I was reading Violet LeBeaux's blog today when I came across her amazing mod of a tiny Blythe doll. To my surprise, the doll was a collaboration between Blythe and one of my favorite toy lines, Littlest Pet Shop. The doll sets are under $15, which makes me very tempted to run over to Kmart and buy this lovely lady (She's almost a bit Mori kei, love her boots and lunchbox):

She has a deer. And furry boots. OMG I love her.

Violet modded her doll into a mini-her, and I wouldn't have to do much to mod this one into a mini me. But I just think they're lovely they way they are as a collector's item, and they're also tiny--perfect for display in an office space or on a smaller shelf, unlike larger models (I still want my vintage Blythe doll someday though!).

I need to finish going through my old clothes so I can sell stuff and maybe buy this awesome doll collab♥

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm back and Self-Challenge for Spring

Hi, everyone! I'm finally back from the mayhem of not having a computer (I know it's pathetic, but I'm not John Clayton II, Lord Greystoke or something and I need my modern technology to survive). I got an Asus Eee PC netbook that came with Windows 7 Starter, but being geeky as I am I was able to personalize my netbook's background, screensaver, etc. using a program called Starter Background Changer (site in French, translated to English a bit wonky). I wouldn't recommend doing anything like this to 7 Starter unless you're good with computers or have someone nearby who is. My new netbook also comes with a Webcam, so maybe I can make some cool tutorial vids (or at least show some thrift store hauls from time to time).

I do have a fun video coming up hopefully that will be a look at how I transformed an old Build-a-Bear Cub Condo Box into a Neo-Victorian/Edwardian Cottage for my Pullip Doll (it would probably work for Barbie, Blythe, and the Mini-sized BJDS too). The interior is already basically done at this point, so I'll post photos soon.

Anyway, I won a contest over at Dolly's Misadventures, so when I get the contest package I will do a little spot on her blog♥ I'm very excited because I never win these things, lol. She sews (which I'm not terribly good at, read: I kinda suck) quite well, so I'm already very impressed with her blog, which features lolita fashion discussions, sewing posts and very soon tutorials. So look forward to that coming up :-)

Also, inspired by a lot of these challenges to see how far one can stretch a wardrobe, I have a new challenge for Spring (which according to Monsieur Groundhog is now, unless he's wrong in which case I say let's make him into a hat >D ). I call it my "Wardrobe Sort" project. Basically, I'm going to try on every single item in my closet and place each item in one of four categories:
1. Items to Keep (i.e., it fits, good condition)
2. Items to Tailor or Repair (i.e., almost fit, pretty good condition or easily mendable)
3. Items to Goodwill or the Trash (i.e., don't fit anymore, not that great condition--faded, etc)
4. Items to Sell (i.e., don't fit but good condition and know you can sell--for instance, lightly used lolita fashion items or vintage clothing)

I'm hoping this project will help me organize my wardrobe for the move and transition me into a closet that fits. I have a lot of stuff still from when I was larger (freshman year, size 16ish), and now I'm a size 6/8 and anyone who has had a major body type change will tell you that not having clothes that fit you in your closet is a huge self-esteem damper. I also have some pieces that are just not meshing with a mature wardrobe, such as old Juniors t-shirts and the ilk. I think going through one's closet can be a really cleansing experience, not to mention help you feel more organized. My goal is to be able to coordinate a lot with what I already have, then determine what I want/need to add based on this.

Monday at the Movies back next week with a Valentines' Day feature!