Friday, May 30, 2014

Dueling Movie Reviews

I like to read movie reviews because it's an art to be able to describe why a movie is or isn't good. While at Snow College in my very first film class, my teacher required us to write reviews of the movies we watched. We couldn't just say we liked the film, we had to describe why. Which meant we had to look deeper into our thoughts and put those thoughts to words.

I never really excelled at this. I can read a review and think "Yes! That's exactly what I was thinking. This reviewer has captured my exact thoughts."  I have a hard time making my thoughts and feelings be coherent sentences. Maybe they've used too much CGI, or the characters seemed one-dimensional, or the story was rudimentary, or the director cobbled scenes together oddly. I'm not good at making that sound like a review.

But others are. I wasn't planning on seeing Maleficent because it just didn't appeal to me, so I felt ok reading a review for it at The Atlantic. The reviewer did not care for the movie; they said the directing was bad, there was too many special-effects  and the actors in their roles were awful. I like this review because it expressed thoughts I imagine I would have about the film. (I don't hate CGI, but I definitely think they should be used less, and this reviewer captured my sentiments perfectly). Read the review here.

Then I mosied over to NPR and read their review of the film. All the things that the other reviewed disliked about the film this review loved. She gushed about the director, Angelina Jolie, the story, the CGI-battles and the actors. Read that review here.

I love these opposing reviews and the different perspectives they have on the exact same piece of work.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Church History Tour

If I had posted on Friday, this would  have been my Old Foto Friday:

Friday after work I headed to Liberty, Missouri with friends for a conference. Maybe I should specify that it was a Young Single Adult conference. Nevermind that I'm  not technically a "Young" Single Adult anymore since I turned 31 in April. Never mind that I have never been the type to attend youth conferences, even when I was a youth. Never mind that past experiences let me know that everyone who attends these things are way too young for me. I really was going to see the church history sites and have a weekend with my friends. And maybe also to dance.

I will post these pictures and let you think that I had the most amazing time of my life.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Baseball, Fireworks and Goodbyes

Royals game in the cold Friday night. The fireworks and company made it worth it. Leo and Andrew are both graduating from KU this weekend and will be leaving us. It's hard saying goodbye to friends.

Scott, Paige, Leo and Janae

Tomas took a nap during the game, so we naturally took photos

                                                Me, Tomas, Andrew, Leo, Paige, Scott, Janae

Friday, May 16, 2014

Old Foto Friday

It's graduation weekend in Kansas, with the local high schools, Washburn University, and KU all having their commencement ceremonies this weekend (did you hear that First Lady Michelle Obama was in Topeka!) Here's Lindsay and me at our high school graduation in 2001. We were super excited about going off to college together that summer.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bike for Work

Today was the Second Annual "Ride With the City Manager". Last year it was hot and humid. This year it was windy and not even 70. Last year I was bombarded by the news and had to give my very first interviews. This year I didn't give a single interview (on the day of the event; I gave two the week before). Last year the City Manager rode with us. This year he did not due to an injury. What was the same: my sweet blue bike.

That's my boss Bill, Suzie, my other boss Carlton, and me in front of City Hall

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Thunder Wakes

Last night I woke up from a dead sleep at about 2:30 am. Not two seconds after my waking a huge clap of thunder hit the sky, followed by a flash of lightning. And right then, as I woke from sleep, I had this thought/dream that all the thunder had built up while I was asleep and couldn't release itself until I was awake. Silly---possibly. Not true---probably. But in that moment between fully-awake and fully-asleep, all things seem possible and true.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mashed Potatoes Like Mom Makes

I am in charge of my ward's monthly Linger Longer meal. Since today was Mother's Day I asked that everyone bring a dish or dessert that their mother was known for. I decided I would make mashed potatoes, since my mom grew up on a potato farm in Idaho and they were a staple of our Sunday dinners.

I thought 'How difficult can this be?' I even called my mom this morning to check--peel and cut potatoes, place in a pot and boil until they get soft, mash the potatoes and add some butter and milk, then proceed to eat. I did all the steps, but my potatoes did not turn out as they should have. They may be simple, but mashed potatoes is still a skill I need to work on and master.

My mom has been making mashed  potatoes for years; I've made them once. My mom can do a lot of things, and maybe someday I'll be as cool as her.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Old Foto Friday

This is my mom and me at the Topeka Zoo. This was the year my mom and sister drove out to Kansas to pick me up. Maybe '94, but possibly '95. I have chosen to wear socks with sandals and my 'Girls Kick Butt' shirt, with one of those tiny backpacks that were so popular in the mid-90s. My mom, however, is sporting some pretty cool birkenstocks, which I remember trying to wear occasionally. Also, my mom has rockin' legs with skinny ankles, which she passed onto me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Read The Grapes of Wrath

A few years ago, I bought a copy of The Grapes of Wrath at the Borders in SLC that was closing. It's the "Steinbeck Centennial Edition" with the awesome cover and pages that I love. I started reading it a few months after I purchased it. But I never got farther than the second chapter.

A couple months ago I came across on article on NPR about a world-wide book club they were hosting to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publishing of The Grapes of Wrath. I took my long-unopened copy off my bookshelf and started reading. And reading and reading.

The book earned Steinbeck a Pulitzer and National Book Award, and it's worth those awards and more. Steinbeck writes like a poet when he describes the land. He makes you see the sun and the weathered crops and the rain as it falls. You see the devastation and feel the heartache; he somehow finds words for the feeling of farming and working the land and being cut down and being so tired but trudging on.

Then there's the people--the Joad family, who make the trek from their desolate, family farm in Oklahoma to the rich lands of California. Their hope and optimism for what the state will bring is sad. The trek brings loss to the family, but they also experience kindness and generosity. They experience what it's like to be looked down on as an "other" and "Okie". The treatment of migrants is so awful that I couldn't believe it. What someone will do for food, to feed your family, is not something you should ever have to know.

Ma Joad, to me, is the star of the novel. She takes charge and does what needs to be done. She knows the importance of family and staying together. She is quite simply amazing.

Many lament the book's critique of capitalism. But it's a fair critique, at least for the time frame. Sometimes I'm still idealistic in believing we can live like those in the government camps--taking care of ourselves and all working together. At least read it so we can have a good discussion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why Riding Your Bike is Better Than A Car

Tonight I needed to go to the store to return something and to pick up a prescription. Since it's Bike Month, and because it's not too hot and humid (just yet), I hopped on my bike and started the ride. As I rode on streets I don't normally travel, I saw neighborhoods, homes with kids playing in the front, pedestrians walking, and other bicyclists. And I really saw them, because instead of zipping by at 40+ miles in the confines of my car I was passing by at a leisurely pace on a personal level. I waved at other cyclists, we said "Good evening," to each other, and shared a moment.

Cars are certainly useful, and I'm glad I have one, but they're very isolating. You're usually by yourself, blocked off from other people by metal and glass. You don't wave or talk to other drivers. The destination is what's important. And sometimes that's important, but I don't think it always is.

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