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Thursday, December 25

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25

Wishing you and yours a fantastic holiday. <3

Have a closer look at the front and back of this year's card.

Tuesday, December 23

Haiku Revieu | The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1

Tuesday, December 23
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1

The Mockingjay lives
Katniss in District 13
Peeta's [REDACTED]

Having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.

The third book in the Hunger Games series is a divisive one—seems like most people I know either hate it or love it. I fall in the latter camp. I mean, the ending's not really a happy one, but it's a realistic one. And after all that Katniss went through during the series, I'm not surprised one bit that she ends up more than a little broken, and dealing with heaps of PTSD. I'm typically on the side of preferring the happy ending, particularly for characters I've come to know and love, but in this case I think the realistic ending works better. /bookrant

I am not a fan of the trend in Hollywood to divide the last book in a series into two films. It makes more sense to me to do it the other way; dividing the first book into two might give more time for world and character building. But Hollywood doesn't listen to me, and so we end up with movies like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 that use way too much punctuation in their titles that seem unnecessary. Thankfully, unlike some other split adaptations (*cough*The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Parts 1 & 2*cough*), I thought the powers that be did a good job at splitting Mockingjay. For those of you who haven't read the books, or don't want to be spoiled about where the split happens, jump down to where I start back up with the black text. For the rest of you: It happened after they got Peeta back from the Capital and he rages out on Katniss. It's very shocking, and very well done.

The cast in this series continues to be awesome—yes, even wooden Liam as Gale—and "newcomers" Natalie Dormer as Cressida (that hair!), Julianne Moore as President Coin, Mahershala Ali as Boggs, and Elden Hensen and Wes Chatham as Pollux and Caster, respectively, make excellent additions to the group. It was also interesting to see District 13, and learn more about the rebellion from their perspective, but man, the shots of District 12 were pretty hard to stomach.

There wasn't a whole lot of action in this film, but, if you've read the books, you know what's coming in the next one. I'm both looking forward to it and a little sad that the series is coming to an end. No other YA adaptation has even come close to doing as good of a job at bringing the books to the big screen as this one. (And before you go saying, "but wait!"—Harry Potter is middle grade. ;))

Check it out:

Friday, December 19

Fancies & Fascinations | Peter Hollens' "I See Fire"

Friday, December 19

As one is prone to do while traipsing through the Internet, yesterday I stumbled across a new to me video cover. It's by Peter Hollens, who apparently is quite famous on YouTube for his epic a capella covers. This cover, of Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire" from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug soundtrack, is one of his more recent covers ... and it is ah-mazing.

Warning: The video's a bit awkward. It's just a whole bunch of shots of Peter singing. And although he's an attractive dude, it can be weird to watch someone singing up close and personal. It is kind of cool, however, to see all the various parts come together.

(Here's the original, in case you'd like to have a listen. It's also very good.)

I listened to this on repeat, at much too loud of a volume, for most of the afternoon. It's just so sweeping and grand and beautiful and I can't quite believe the human voice can do such things.

I also listened to a bunch of Peter's other songs. I was having a frustrating day yesterday, and it was cathartic to listen to powerful songs on high volume and block the world out for a bit. A Spotify playlist of his self-titled album is below; there are many more covers on Spotify as well.

So good, right?

Wednesday, December 17

SQUEE! | Hot Toys Little Groot

Wednesday, December 17

I got an email earlier today that set my nerd heart a'racin':

I fell madly in love with Baby Groot earlier this year when we met during Guardians of the Galaxy. I mean, how could you not?!

#Sorrynotsorry for the gratuitous Baby Groot scene.

I have a Baby Groot pin on my backpack. A still from the Baby Groot scene (see above) is the wallpaper of my large monitor at work. I plan on picking up the Baby Groot POP! vinyl figure a.s.a.p. (if I don't get it for Christmas). So you know I'm lusting after this guy hardcore.

Hot Toys is known for their mind-bogglingly detailed and accurate action figures (see: Loki and Agent Coulson), and this guy is no exception. Little Groot is fully poseable and comes with three different adorable faces.

I haven't pulled the plug on the pre-order yet, however. This figure is extremely cheap ($44.99+shipping) when compared to the larger sixth-scale action figures (which sell for $200+), but it's so, so tiny (4.75 in/12 cm). I'll have to sleep on it.

But if you're more sure than I, you can place your pre-order here.

Tuesday, December 16

Last call! | 2014 Christmas Card Exchange

Tuesday, December 16

I haven't yet finished mailing* our Christmas cards, so there's still time to take part in the 2014 Curtimas Card Exchange, if you're so inclined!

Fill out the form on this post to join the fun.

*Let's be honest: haven't finished mailing = have cards, envelopes and stamps sitting in my living room, waiting for notes and addresses.

Friday, December 12

On turning 31 ... and finding the time

Friday, December 12

Today is my 31st birthday. There's something about 31 that feels so much more adult than all the other ages that have come since "officially" becoming one at 18. I can now say that I'm "in my thirties," rather than just 30. Next year, I will have been out of college for a decade. I have a ton of grey hairs.

But, I do not feel 31. At the same time, I'm not sure what 31 is supposed to feel like. 31 is by no means old, but it certainly falls in that nebulous "adult" territory. When you're "supposed" to have things like a career and a mortgage and kids. I suppose feeling younger could be a byproduct of my lifestyle: I'm married to my high school sweetheart, we live in a house full of toys (and none of them belong to children), I read mostly young adult books ... I don't think I'm consciously trying to hold on to my childhood. But I do strongly believe in that old saying, "Just because you have to grow older doesn't mean you have to grow up."

When I was young, I'm not sure if I every really though about where I'd be at 31. Coming from an upper-middle class, practically nuclear family living situation (minus the whole other 1.5 kids, that is), perhaps I saw myself married, in a good career, owning a house, having children. Two out of four certainly isn't bad—and there are many things that come with the latter two that I'm not sure I'm ready for.

Then again, my mom and dad were 36 and 40, respectively, when they had me. Although both had white-collar careers when I was born, when I was 8, they packed our small family up and opened a bed and breakfast in Oregon. They supplemented this dream with a job as a handyman and a teacher. When I graduated high school, we moved again. And when I was 22, they got divorced. I suppose, thinking back on it, that my childhood wasn't cookie-cutter at all, so perhaps the reason I can't remember ever having a set plan for myself is that I didn't ever make one. I might have never seen the need. My parents believed in following dreams and making tough decisions when they needed to be made. Instead of a set of stereotypes I needed to have met, they showed me that being an adult really meant taking leaps and making mistakes and being true to yourself, through the hard times and the good.

I found the illustration below when I was thinking about this post, and it struck a chord. I don't always "find the time," and I often complain about the lack of it in my life to do the things I'd rather be doing. Perhaps I'll focus more, in my 32nd year of life, on the lessons I learned from my parents, and on being cognizant of the blessing—on finding the time. That's certainly sounds way more fun than worrying about reaching antiquated milestones when I'm "supposed" to.


What up, 31? Let's do this.

Wednesday, December 10

Haiku Revieu | Interstellar

Wednesday, December 10

Mankind's last, best hope
Other planets are scary
Team TARS forever

A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to find a potentially habitable planet that will sustain humanity.

WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.

The Mister has been excited about Interstellar since the very first time he heard that this was going to be a movie. He's a huge fan of Chris Nolan's work, and space movies, too. I was looking forward to seeing it, but didn't really have any hopes, high or low. I loved Inception, but I fell asleep the only time I've ever tried to watch Memento. Boy, was that ever confusing.

So, the weekend Interstellar opened (Yes, back in November. I'm a bit slow.), we ventured to the theater. I wasn't sure what to think, really, about the movie right after it ended, and month later, I'm still not sure. (The Mister would rate it ****1/2, in case you were curious.) The movie's premise is interesting for sure: Humanity's last hope is venturing to the stars to find a new place for us to live. Unsurprisingly, the mission goes a little awry #becausehumanity. And then it ends up in a black hole, which is where the movie kind of lost me.

I'll put this in white text because it's definitely a spoiler (highlight if you'd like to read it): I'm OK with the idea of the weird space/time construct in the black hole. But I don't understand why, if humanity could figure out how to build multiple fantastic space stations, they never went looking for the team? It was something like 80 years, right? That's a long time filled with obvious technological advances for them to just leave the team for dead.

That said, the cast was great. I will forever adore Michael Caine, and Matthew McConaughey—as much as I can't get that one story from ages ago that he doesn't like to wear deodorant out of my head, so I cringe every time he gets close to someone onscreen—is definitely a movie star. The surprise cameos, which I won't spoil here, were also fun. The standout star, however, was totally TARS—the marine robot with the wicked sense of humor/timing. Not only was his personality great, but his design was inspired. It's refreshing to see a robot that's not vaguely humanoid in shape. It was a little jarring to connect the very human voice with the very non-human shape, but I got mostly used to it by the end of the film. (Related: I just found this interview with David Gyasi, who plays Romilly, in which he says that TARS was (mostly) real, rather than being CGI. How cool is that?)

The sets/CGI also blew me away, which isn't surprising after having seen the likes of Inception. Nolan's vision for a nearly destroyed Earth felt all too real; the spaceships and space stations were both realistic and cool; the other planets the team traveled to were unique (and places I don't think I'd like to vacation); and the idea of a wormhole being a bubble-like sphere was totally new (to me), and yet made complete sense.

My overall view of the film is that it was very Contact-like. Started out super promising, but fell a little flat/got a little wacky in the end.

Check it out:

Monday, December 8

Spreading the cheer | 2014 Christmas Card Exchange

Monday, December 8

I love December. (And not just because both my birthday and Christmas fall during the month, meaning double presents!)

I love decorating for the holidays. I love celebrating with friends and family. I love feeling just a little bit happier and feeling the same extra happiness in other people around me.

For the past few years, I've had a project at the end of each November that helps me spread the cheer around a bit: Christmas cards (or Curtismas cards) that I love sending to friends, family ... and you!

All that to say: The time has come for the fifth annual Curtismas Card Exchange!

If you're interested in receiving a card from The Murtis this holiday season, please fill out the form below. (International addresses welcome!) There's a place on the bottom of the form for you to fill in your email address if you're willing to send a card in return; I'll email you our mailing address once I receive your form.

Here's a look at past cards:

2013 | 2012

2011 | 2010

And ... a sneak peek of this year's edition:

I hope to see your name on the exchange list!

Thursday, December 4

Fancies & Fascinations | DJ Earworm's 2014 United States of Pop

Thursday, December 4

I've spoken more than once (on other blogs) about my love of a good mashup. Each year, I eagerly await the release of DJ Earworm's United States of Pop, which is a mashup of a whole slew of popular songs from a specific year. Yesterday, I saw that the 2014 version had been released ... and it does not disappoint.

Ugh. The skillllsssssssssss DJ Earworm has. Always blows me away.

You can hear previous years—which are equally as awesome—at the links below.

Monday, December 1

December calls for bundling up

Monday, December 1

The twelfth month of the year has saved you a spot in front of the fire.

(If you'd like to download this page of the 2014 Man Calendar for personal use, just click on the image and it'll open in a new window. You can then right/control click and save it. Each page should print at 6"x9".)

Look for the 2015 edition of the Man Calendar later this month/early next month!