Saturday, January 7, 2017

Frozen Pipes

It snowed yesterday in north Texas. Just a small layer of fine snow. It was pretty. However, the snow also brought some below-freezing temps over the night. And when I went to take a shower this morning, nothing came out of the shower head.

I checked the bathroom sink faucets. Nothing.

I checked the kitchen sink faucet. Nothing.

All signs pointed to my pipes freezing over the night when temps were in the teens. Now, I've lived in Idaho and Utah and never once have I had my pipes freeze. In Texas, since freezing events are not common, and because of the ground, we build our homes on piers and beams. My crawl space is quite large, as I live on a slope, meaning I can very nearly stand up in my crawl space/"basement". So my pipes are just hanging out in the cold air with nothing to keep them warm.

I called my friend Stephanie, my trusted homeowner friend (and all-around fantastic friend). She gave the phone to her partner, Chris, who was well-versed in such scenarios. He told me it wasn't really a big deal. He told me that the biggest issues comes when the water thaws and all the water pressure is built up then released. In order to give it somewhere to go, he told me to open up all my faucets. Then he said to periodically check the pipes and make sure they weren't leaking.

That sounded easy enough. I turned open all the faucets and then just waited.

At about 11:15 I was sitting on my bed, taking photos of Biscuit being cute as she laid in the sun, I heard water starting to run! I went into the crawl space to make sure nothing was leaking - and nothing was! It took a bit longer for the hot water to come back, but it has.

Lesson learned: leave your faucets dripping when it's cold, especially in Texas! I'm just glad it warmed up at a decent time to get my water back without any major, costly catastrophes.

Monday, January 2, 2017


Today is observed New Year's Day for me, so I took the chance to cross another Oscar hopeful off my list, Moonlight.

I really didn't know much about Moonlight other than the fact it has Oscar buzz. Turns out, I kinda like going into a movie not knowing what to expect. Moonlight is the story of one boy, told in three parts at three different ages and times in his life. This boy goes by Little, Chiron, and Black. It's interesting that he defines himself by what others choose to call him other than his given name of Chiron. This boy is struggling with his identity and what it means to be himself. He has few constants in his life.

Casting was integral to this film, and it knocked it out of the park. Even Chiron's friend Kevin is wonderfully cast as his adult self. And that's important. These characters experience a lot, and I needed to be able to "see" that it was still the same person when they interacted. It was more than just the physicalness of the actors; it was their mannerisms and the way each of them showed Chiron's inner self in the same way.

I don't want to give much away, but I think this film was quiet and beautiful.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

La La Land

I saw La La Land when I was in SLC over Christmas. However, that did not stop me from getting up early this morning to catch another showing of it. It's just such a lovely movie that I wanted to watch it to ring in my new year.

Mia and Sebastian are two artists living in LA. She's an aspiring artist, and he's a jazz pianist. They have a couple meet-cutes before really coming together. They have to navigate their relationship while pursuing their own dreams.

That sounds cliche and possibly boring, but the movie is anything but.

For one, it is unabashedly romantic. It's whimsical. It's beautiful. It's full of color. It's funny. And I love all of that. It has singing and music and it is all so fantastic.

I think it is a perfect movie for the new year, with it's themes of how to be a person with dreams and goals and how to be in a relationship. Sometimes those two parts of you can be in conflict. Navigating that can be tough, but it can also be rewarding. I like that thought.

Seriously, go see this movie.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas 2016

I left for SLC on an evening flight from Love Field on December 21. Three of my nieces and nephew (the ones that live in Seattle but were in SLC for Christmas) came with my mom to pick me up at the airport. My five days in Salt Lake was spent with family and friends. We celebrated Athena's fifth birthday. We went on a light tour on the Provo River. We went bowling. We even had a white Christmas.

Ivy, Elliett and Koko at Grandma's

We made snowflakes

Jorge works at Rumbi. Proud of him. 

I traveled downtown (by bus!) to hit up Toasters...

...and "La La Land" at The Broadway

Public art in downtown SLC

Ivy, Jorge and I went to a Christmas Eve showing of "It's A Wonderful Life" at The Broadway

Christmas morning

My presents to the family

This year's Christmas Day movie was "Rogue One". The boys all loved it. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Manchester By the Sea

Besides seeing the poster and a few views of the trailer, I didn't know much about "Manchester By the Sea." It has been getting a lot of buzz since it premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, so I knew I would need to see it.

I'm glad I didn't know much about it before seeing it, because it made it that much more powerful. Based on the poster, I was sure it involved a love story of some sort (Michelle Williams is the only other actor on it besides Casey Affleck). I watched the various trailers after seeing it, and they would make one think they are going to see a somewhat-comedy: slacker uncle must take care of his teenaged nephew after his brother dies, causing him to return to the home town he left, with a possible rekindling of a left-behind love.

While those things do happen, they don't happen in a funny way. At least not "ha-ha" funny. The movie is emotional, with the weight of sadness felt throughout.

Casey Affleck plays the "slacker" uncle, Lee, forced to return to Manchester by the Sea due to the abrupt death of his brother from a congenital heart defect. Lee is a handyman in Quincy, and in the first scenes we see that he is not good with people. Flashbacks slowly reveal his story. And it is heartbreaking. There is a lovely scene where Lee is at the police station, the grief and sadness palatable, and it is set to classical music. It's stunning.

Another powerful scene is between Lee and his former love, Randi, played by Michelle Williams. From the flashbacks we see them in love and we see what tore them apart. They have an awkward and sad phone call. Then they see each other at the funeral, and it is heartbreaking to watch. But then they run into each other, randomly, in town and Randi wants to talk. It is heart wrenching and electric and truly brilliant. So much hurt and love and sadness and regret infused in one scene.

Lee is trying to overcome his grief from a terribly tragic event. In most movies, the situation of coming home and caring for a family member would be just what was needed to pull a person out of their grief. But that's not really how life works, and that's not how this movie works. This movie will stay with you. I highly recommend it.

Kyle Chandler is one of those actors that is in everything and is always great. He's never been a "flashy" actor in that he never appears in magazines or gossip columns; he just quietly acts and lives his life. He won a much-deserved Emmy for playing Coach Taylor in 2011. He has been in "Carol", "The Wolf of Wall Street", "Zero Dark Thirty", and "Argo" (all of those were contenders of some sort in the Oscars". I just think he's fantastic.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I don't think it's any secret that I really like Star Wars. I have journal entries of the re-releases and prequels that I posted about last year. I was full of excitement when a new trilogy was announced. I was not, however, excited about the other trilogy - a trio of standalone Star Wars stories to be released between each of the new Episodes. Was anyone really clamoring for an origin story of Han Solo? Or, even worse, Boba Fett? I know he gained cult status over the years but I never understood it, and the inclusion of him and his dad in the prequels was ridiculous.

Which brings us to Rogue One, the story of the rebels who stole the plans to the Death Star. This enabled Luke to fire his proton torpedoes into the exhaust port that started a chain reaction that blew up the Death Star. Based on reviews I've read from critics and from friends on Facebook, and the general reaction of the crowd I saw the film with, everyone loves it.

I am not everyone.

I wanted to like it. I really did. I even went into it with fairly low expectations so I wouldn't be disappointed. And it still didn't rise to the occasion.

There's nothing bad about the movie. It's competently filmed with some good movement and decent acting. I just didn't care about any of the characters though. I was bored fifteen minutes into the film. The never-ending parade of new planets, each with their own title card so the audience knows the name - I'm sorry, but is this a Star Trek film?!

I was bothered by how cliche the whole thing seemed. I know that the original trilogy wasn't exactly a new concept - good vs. evil, etc, and George got inspiration from many sources. But what he created felt original. Now everything is just connecting pieces of a larger universe and it bores me. The most cliche moment was when a character falls down a shaft and the audience is to believe he is dead, if not severely incapacitated. However, he returns at the very moment the protagonist needs assistance or else she'll be killed. I literally said, "Oh come one!" out loud, while the people behind me were cheering.

Vader makes an appearance, but he was a weird fit. Grand Moff Tarkin is there with a digitally-added Peter Cushing (who passed away several years ago) and it was distracting. The droid, K-2SO, was meant to be comic relief but I found him annoying and far too human-like for a droid. The filmmakers could never decide if they wanted a love story between Cassian and Jyn or not, and they end up playing it both ways throughout the film. Jyn never gets fully developed into a character we care about, and her rousing speech isn't entirely inspiring. I think the reshoots did not serve her character well.

I liked the final sequence of air and ground battle (which we've seen before in Jedi), which brings us right to the beginning of A New Hope. Even though most of the ground forces are characters we do not know, their battle is nicely done. Chirrut and Baze were interesting characters with good chemistry that I actually did feel sort of fond of.

At this point, I'm tired of all the films that exist just to make Disney money. I can accept George wanting to make the prequels, as he claims that story existed in his head all along. But it's now just getting to be too much. I just want to enjoy my original trilogy and occasionally watch the prequels. I have turned into the old person yelling at kids to get off their lawn.

The Trailers Before Rogue One

I ended up seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on pre-opening day (that's what I'm calling the trend of non-midnight showings). I'll have much to say about that, but for now I'm going to focus on the trailers seen before the movie.

I love trailers. It's movie window shopping. A really good trailer can make one want to see a really terrible thing. Becuase all the trailer needs to do is sell a person on seeing a film; once the ticket is bought and your butt is in that theater seat it doesn't really matter if the film is "good" or not. (Sidebar: movies these days seem to be about having the biggest opening weekend and care little about massive drop-offs in attendance after that. In the end, movies are made to make money.)

Logan - I thought it was ballsy (and really smart) to set the trailer for this latest Wolverine film to Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." It's a great song and Cash conveys all the right emotions that are just right for a story about Logan, the guy who is Wolverine. I admit that my interest in Wolverine (and comic book movies in general) have waned greatly. I might give this one a shot....

Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan has made a WWII film. As expected, he has cast many of his favorite actors (Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy). I am not terribly interested in this, but the prescence of Mark Rylance might get me to see it.

I don't remember the name of this one, but it was about babies competing to be cute again. The main baby is voiced by Alec Baldwin. It looks awful, but the crowd seemed to think it was funny. Pass.

Power Rangers - I may be the target demographic (mid-30s reliving a popular tv show from my growing up years) but I have zero interest in seeing this.

Kong - when good actors are in a movie based on a video game.

Cars 3 - Even though Cars 2 is widely considered the worst Pixar movie, another sequel was greenlit. Why?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol: 2 - I really enjoyed the first one. However, it's awfully hard to tap into the same thing twice and get the same results. I'm cautiously optimistic about this sequel, but I am still superhero'd out.

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