The Seventh Seal – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

Jon and I recently watched The Seventh Seal on Blu-Ray. It was my first time watching it, and I actually knew very little about it. I did not grow up on fine cinema. While I did watch some great movies, classics such as The Seventh Seal weren’t part of my repertoire the way Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey might have been (sadly, both not on Blu-Ray.) Neither of those movies are high art, but thanks to my familiarity with both of them, it wasn’t too long into The Seventh Seal that I realized that Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey shared The Seventh Seal as inspiration.

Death really does play chess. The Seventh Seal is a rumination on death. Given my current tendency towards acknowledging impermanence, this movie couldn’t have come at a better time. I asked myself a few days ago, how do you adequately express your emotional experience so as to conjure an empathic response in others that may give way to understanding? Big question, no?

It seems that with the really big things, it’s like shouting “The sky is blue!” louder and louder in the hopes that who ever may be listening may stop and understand the miracle that is living, breathing and seeing. That not only is the sky blue, but look at the amazing mystery that allows us to share in this moment of not taking that blueness for granted. How does one translate the leap in the heart, the moment of joy that one can experience with acknowledgment of the world, to someone who, for what ever reason, isn’t sharing that experience?

Ingmar Bergman tells the story of his own fear of death in The Seventh Seal. A fear so potent, that it is packed within each scene, giving you the terrible sense of foreboding, at first inclined towards hope for the knight, and as the film progresses, realizing that hope may be lost. I’m finding it is marvelous and rare that an individual’s personal emotional experiences can be translated effectively into art and brought to be a communal experience. The Seventh Seal is perhaps, so enduring, because it stands as a solid allegory for Bergman’s (and others) fear of death and search for spiritual fulfillment.

The Criterion Collection features for The Seventh Seal include the commentary track, as well as a few shorts from over the past few years. I found that the commentary track didn’t hold my interest in the way that The Third Man or Chungking Express did, which means that though The Seventh Seal is a fine film, I’m not inclined to purchase it for my own collection. However, it’s very well worth watching, and worth buying if you’re into the idea of having the complete Criterion Collection, or multiple viewings for your own analysis.

Today in Spending

A few posts back I talked about how much time and money I spent longing for my favorite face cleanser, the false economy of trying to find suitable replacements, and my new vow to just buy the stuff online when I run out.

Well, now it appears I might still be searching for something else I like as much.

mold in my cleanserYou see, I was towards the end of my little trial sized bottle of Evan Healy’s Blue face cleanser (from the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit), and just days away from ordering more, when I saw on the white cleanser a growth of green mold. I did a double and triple take. Yes, green mold. Growing like a little forest on a blanket of snow.

I’m familiar with this kind of thing happening with natural skin and hair care products. When I worked at Whole Foods Market in the Whole Body Department, we were allowed to basically open any product up for a customer as a “tester” if one didn’t already exist. With some of the products, we did this just so the customer could sniff the product, as that the product had a foil seal for freshness. Those that were left open as testers, sitting on the shelves, would sometimes get a little funky, to say the least.

Natural things degrade, whereas the petro-chemical and other synthetically produced products don’t have to worry about natural oils going rancid, or mold growth because the natural preservatives didn’t do their job. I realize that this is a hazard of natural products, and I can’t fault Evan Healy totally for it, as that expecting a natural thing to NOT degrade is ridiculous. However, I now have product that I’m not going to use, and I’m not sure I want to invest what would be around $100 for the entire cleansing/moisturizing set for a larger bottle of something I know can grow mold.

I sent an email to their customer service night before last, and I hope to hear back from them on what they can offer for piece of mind. I’ve gotten into the habit of letting especially smaller companies know when something unsatisfactory has happened with their product, especially because 1) I like the product and 2) want it to succeed.

Two cases so far have at least gotten a response. The first was from Clear Creek Distillery based in Portland, OR. One of the corks from one of their fine, distilled spirits had broken when we tried to initially open it. I wrote them, and they promptly responded, sending us two corks in the mail. The second was Coconut Bliss, a vegan, coconut based frozen desert also made in Oregon. I emailed them about one of their cartons being only 3/4 full upon purchase. They apologized, and promised a gift certificate for another pint. That never showed up, unfortunately. Also, it happened two times after that, with the same flavor (Cherry Amaretto). The other flavors that Jon picked up at the same time were fine. To say the least, I was disappointed.

Here’s hoping I’ll get a response. Also, Marie Claire, I’m waiting for my missing issues, kthxbai.

See previously: Personal Economy

BellaBand vs. Tummy Tube (BellaBand Wins!)

I’ll preface this by saying that this is a public blog – as such, I choose to keep my personal life out of my blog, and in a more secure space. That being said, I’ll let it slip here that I’m presently pregnant, and have a product review to share with a larger audience (ie. TEH INTARWEBS).

One of the fascinating and helpful inventions to come to maternity clothing was the tube-like sleeve, knit, with a bit of spandex, with the intention of allowing a pregnant woman, in her many growing-belly stages, the ability to wear her pre-pregnancy pants a little longer (unbuttoned/unzipped), and hold up the not-quite-fitting-yet maternity pants. Think of it as an elaborate belt or cummerbund.

The first product I heard about was Ingrid and Isabel’s BellaBand. You can pick one up at a variety of maternity stores (specifically local boutiques), or order one conveniently through Amazon. The cost will run you about $26 for one, though Amazon does offer a 3 pack deal. The BellaBand, at first, seems pricey for an accessory that can cost as much as a pair of inexpensive maternity pants, but the upside is that it can work with any pair of pants, and they say will last you through post-pregnancy.

While in Baltimore a few weeks ago, I decided to go on a quest for the BellaBand, and called up MiMi Maternity and Motherhood (part of the same company) to see if they carried it. No, they replied, but excitedly told me about their Tummy Tube, a much less desirably named object, that at $16, they claimed would be the same thing. I purchased two, one black and one white – and found the first difference from the BellaBand to be that they are all One Size Fits Most. Given that I’m a woman who has changed sizes dramatically over the past two years (something like 6 sizes down), I find that laughable. Nevertheless, the Tummy Tube, though a bit binding at times, did the trick of holding my Lucky Jeans button-fly up with a few buttons undone, all without being noticable to anyone else.

After a couple weeks of the Tummy Tubes, I remained unimpressed, and found that they really didn’t add up to everything I hoped the BellaBand (or something like it) would be. I went on a quest, to a local Seattle maternity boutique, for the BellaBand. Happily, they had all the sizes to try on, which was a relief, since my pre-pregnancy size seemed to straddle the line. I found that the larger size was less snug and more comfortable in some ways, and was counseled by the sales assistant that I would appreciate the extra room as my tummy grows. SOLD. At around $24 per BellaBand, it was more expensive than the Tummy Tube, but what I found was a thicker, softer, seemingly more resilient fabric, better sewn seems, an overall wider span from top to bottom (allowing for a larger tummy later). It felt less like a tube of spandex and more like the bottom part to a spandex-fitted knit shirt I might wear.

The bottom line is, the extra cost is worth it. I know that Target sells a lower-cost BellaBand product, which runs around the same price as the Tummy Tube, however, I’d be concerned that it would fail to do the same things that the BellaBand does. I don’t know, though, and have no experience with it.

Hopefully, this will be helpful to other women out there wondering, as I did, what’s the difference? The difference is – you pay for the quality. To me, $8 more for a product I like twice as much is worth the extra change. It’s also worth it to not spend money on maternity pants unless I absolutely have to.

Oh, and I didn’t mention that the BellaBand also comes in different styles and colors, including lace trim. Very awesome.

Product Love: Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo and Conditioner

My hair is brittle.

Why? I have a few ideas. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and like many of these northern dwellers, I’m deficient in Vitamin D – I’ve started supplementing, and even got a sunburn last week, so hopefully I’ll start life towards the solstice a little less deficient than last year. Additionally, I’ve been diving, in the cold waters of Puget Sound, which means that along with ravaging my hair with salt water, I’ve been wearing a hood to keep the heat in, and have a nice thick wetsuit to birth my head through before every dive. This, as you can imagine, tortures my hair.

And then there was my ill-thought out decision to try flat-ironing my hair a few months ago. So this, plus chemical processing, has left my hair in a less than enviable position. Pantene wasn’t quite helping, and frankly, I’ve been wanting to get back to my “less chemicals is better” trend I fell into when working at Whole Foods.

This enters my trial of Aubrey Organics – Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo, which claims to be 100% natural, and sure enough, the label doesn’t seem to cite anything chemically funny. The shampoo feels astringent, but the Aubrey Organics – Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner feels super-moisturizing, so much so that I’ve had to decrease the amount I thought I’d need for my hair. I’m a few weeks in, and I’m liking the smell as well as the texture of my hair. I also feel a little better about the suds washing down the drain.

I’m not sure how long I’ll love it, but I’m definitely a fan now. Who knew? I’d been passing up this stuff for years!

Improvement!

http://nikeplus.nike.com/nikeplus/v1/swf/scrapablewidget/rundetail.swf

I’m loving my Nike+ so far – however, I really wish that the online portion for Nike+ gave me a bit more on the graph than a squiggly that vaguely represents speed and distance. I want to be able to mouse over points in the line and know what that pace was at a specific time frame. That way, I can think back to “Oh, that’s when I hit that intersection and I had to hoof it to keep from getting hit by that car…” The squiggle looks better than yesterday, and the end numbers are definitely improved, but I want more of a play-by-play from my little gadget. Maybe I’m asking too much, but the data is in there – I just want to see it expressed in more than a green squiggly line.

Tomorrow I take a day off from the walk/run so I can let my joints and muscles rest. I’ll try to do Tuesday and Thursday (though I leave for Chicago on Thursday.) Then, I plan to take advantage of the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan. To do this, though – I’m thinking I need to invest in more running wear. My Title Nine running shorts and tank are fantastic – but I need more than one of each. (And unfortunately, I’m not thrilled with their customer service.) Adidas and Nike have some interesting options available for running, but I just need to cough up the cash to get them. Not as easy being newly unemployed (by choice.)

We’ll see how this experiment turns out. I’m thinking of trying a 5k sometime in August or September.