Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Remembering the Helmet Rules for Correct Size

Today I was out at an elementary school giving a biking and walking safety presentation. I was asked to cover the entire school, which meant giving a presentation to each grade level. This can be a bit tricky for me, as speaking to fifth graders is not quite the same as speaking to kindergartners or first graders. I have to mix it up on the fly sometimes, especially when I start losing the kids' attention spans (this generally happens for the classes I see after lunch).

Today one little boy came up to me after my presentation and told me he was afraid he would forget what I taught him about making sure a helmet fits correctly. So I showed him. But he was still concerned he'd forget. His teacher said he could probably ask his friends and they'd help him. But he was still concerned he'd forget. At this point he was crying. His art teacher made a drawing of the two rules of helmet sizing. But he was still concerned he'd forget. He was still crying. I typed out the rules, just like I had told them during the presentation. That seemed to quell his concerns and stopped his tears.

No one has ever been that concerned about remembering something I told them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol: Backstory

When Guardians of the Galaxy came out two years ago I saw it on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was. Plus the music was fantastic. It was a comic book movie that knew it was a comic book movie and was willing to poke fun at that.

After becoming superhero'd out, I wasn't sure I would see Vol. 2. I was pretty sure it would do what all sequels do that make them so awful - over do everything that made the original good. But tonight I went with a group of friends, because that always makes anything better.

Where the first one was fun and exciting, this sequel insisted on giving backstories to ALL the characters. Even Yondu, sitting in a cage after his ship and underlings have been taken from him, has a backstory moment. I did end up liking where his story went, but in the moment it felt like too much.

I was afraid Baby Groot would be over used, because he's just so dang cute. He was used perfectly, though. He even gets to dance during the opening credits to "Mr. Blue Sky", a truly awesome song. I was sitting next to my friend Jessica who has not seen the first one, and she adored Baby Groot.

Rocket was likely my favorite character that isn't Baby Groot. He has the best lines. None were better than his succinct take on stupid names, which made me laugh terribly loud. I was a little annoyed at his ability to take out every single person coming against him in one scene, but I can overlook that because he's just such a great character.

The movie doesn't feel like the typical Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though it is (part of Phase III, to be exact). And that's a good thing. There's no race to close a hole in the sky. The story doesn't seem terribly pressing or world-saving until the end, when it's revealed that Peter's dad is a bad guy. And honestly, I fell asleep for a quick second because it was just explosions on screen that didn't mean anything. I mean, we spend an inordinate amount of time with Peter and his dad, for no real reason. I didn't get the point of the movie, other than to continue the MCU, make money, and allow the world to see Baby Groot.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Gifted

Today I went to the theater to see Gifted. My motivations were three-fold: 1) I wanted movie-theater popcorn; 2) for a hot-second last summer Chris Evans and Jenny Slate dated and I was interested in seeing them on-screen together; and 3) Chris Evans, who is my favorite of the Hollywood Chris's.

The movie was great! Evans plays Frank, a boat mechanic looking after his dead sister's daughter. Frank and Mary have a loving relationship, where he tries to teach her about life, being nice, making time to play; she is a math prodigy who struggles relating to kids her own age. Her best friend is Roberta, their neighbor  who is "forty, or fifty, or thirty."

That may sound like a made-for-tv movie full of sappiness and melodrama, but in the hands of director Marc Webb and the cast it is anything but. There is no over-the-top villain, just people who care about Mary and want the best for her. What is "the best" is what has Frank and his mom, Evelyn (a fantastic Lindsay Duncan), at odds against each other. Should her skills be nurtured at a special school so she can solve math problems her whole life, or should she be allowed to be a kid and do fun things?

My favorite scene is when Frank takes Mary, along with Roberta, to the hospital. They sit there for a long time, wondering why they are there. Finally a man comes out to announce to his waiting family that it's a boy. And everyone is so happy and they start hugging and crying. Mary is enjoying watching the scene, and Frank tells her that that's how it was when she was born. They stay to watch another one because Mary loves it so much.

It's a lovely film about love and family and I highly recommend it. Evans and Slate have great chemistry, and the fangirl in me wishes they were still dating :)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thirty-Four is More

Monday was my 34th birthday, and I celebrated all weekend long. Because that's what one does when they are 34.

On Saturday I hit up all the things I love the most - tacos, ice cream and a movie. And then I treated myself to a pedicure.

 


 

Sunday I gathered a group of friends to go to the Royals/Rangers game with me. We got there early to "tailgate" before the game.



Even though it was only 70 degrees it felt really hot. We were on the third base side, which meant the sun was always shining on us.




The Royals hit two homeruns early in the game, but they didn't play so well overall. We left early to make our reservations at Zizikis, a Greek restaurant home to baklava cake ice cream. It was delicious. If any one comes to visit me in Denton we can go there - it will change your life (maybe not, but seriously it is so good).


I love my friends here and that they all spent a hot day in the sun with me to celebrate my birthday!
Allison, Robby, Tim, Jessica, Me, Garret, and Suzi


I arrived at work on Monday to a decorated office from my dear friend Kevin Ann. My friend Stephanie made me a cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to me in my office. She then took me to lunch to celebrate my birthday.




I closed out the day at my friend Suzi's house, where we ate popcorn while commenting on the ridiculousness of National Treasure. It was a fantastic birthday and I felt very loved.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ivy and Tia Julie Take New York: Day Three

Ivy was first to get up this morning, and she spent the time planning out what we were going to do and how we were going to get there. She sat on the bed with her laptop and the MTA Subway map and made our plans. We didn't have a lot on her list left to do, but we did still have three ice cream places to visit plus another sweet shop. It was going to be sugar overload.

We started by grabbing the remaining doughnuts from the day before and heading for Tiffany's on 5th Avenue. We stood in front of Tiffany's and had our breakfast as the cars and bikes and people went on by. I love that this was on Ivy's list!



We planned to go to DO next, but wasn't even ten yet and it didn't open until eleven. So I suggested we just walk down 5th Avenue. That way we could see the Empire State Building, the flat iron building, and enjoy walking the city streets.





Being a Wednesday, DO did not have a huge line outside the door. We got right in and ordered our cookie dough. It was delicious and very rich! But still three more ice cream places on the list!



But first we made a stop at the NYU Bookstore so Ivy could buy a souvenir for herself. We also wanted to use a bathroom, but they didn't have one for the public. Ivy bought a water bottle with the NYU logo because it was something she'd use frequently.

Then it was to Chinatown and Canal Street. Ivy had the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on her list, so we took a little tour of Chinatown while eating our ice cream. Canal Street is a cacophony of sights and sounds and I think Ivy was a little overwhelmed.



At this point we had had A LOT of sugar and we needed some real food fast. We had already planned on having lunch in Little Italy, so we just headed that way to get some real food in our stomachs. We ate at one of the classic tourist places on Mulberry Street. But that's an experience everyone should do at least once. I had ravioli and Ivy had spaghetti and meatballs, and we were satisfied. However, I passed on getting us cannolis because I just couldn't take any more sugar. A good life motto to live by: always take the cannoli.


Now we were on our way to the lower east side to go to the two last ice cream places on Ivy's list. First we went to Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, a place that started as a food truck. We decided to share our ice cream so we would have room for more ice cream. It was a nice thought, but, even with sharing, neither of us felt like we could eat more ice cream. So Davey's Ice Cream shop was left unchecked on the list.



We made our way back to our hotel before heading to 30 Rock to see a taping of Late Night with Seth Myers. You have to be 16 to see the taping, and Ivy just barely made it! I've seen a couple late night shows, but Seth was a different experience. He had a swanky lounge area where all the audience members sat prior to the show. NBC pages were there to do trivia and take our photos as we waited to go into the studio. The guests were Rashida Jones and Andrew Rannells (I love him!). Seth is a cool person, and he answers questions from the audience near the end.




Everything on the list that could get done was done, so when we left Rockefeller Center at about 6:45 we didn't have any plans. We hung around Times Square for a little while, just people watching. We then remembered and realized we were close to Amy's Bread, a place on Ivy's list! We headed there to get ourselves some bread. Then we went to Juniors to get something to eat (we didn't get cheesecake, though!).

We checked out the Hamilton gift shop, and the Broadway-specific gift shop. And then we were asleep for out last time in New York City. Getting out of the city the next day would be a nightmare.




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Extra Innings

Baseball season has started and the Royals are in Texas! The past couple years they have made the trek to Arlington in May, but this year they cam early. The first of a four-game series was Thursday night and I made  my way to the game from Denton.

It was a nice night for baseball, even if the baseball itself was boring. There were not a lot of hits and no runs. With it tied at zero at the end of nine innings, the game went into extra innings. I decided to stay, even as it went into more and more extra innings.




In the bottom of the 13th the Rangers finally got a run. It's sad to lose, especially after so many innings.

I had Dennis, the very nice and friendly ballpark worker take this photo of me. 


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Your Name.

Today my friend Suzi texted me. This is not an out-of-the-norm occurrence, but she was texting me to say she saw an ad about pedestrian safety that the City did prior to her movie. Suzi isn't the type to see a lot of movies in the theater and opening weekend is not a big deal to her. So with the opening of the latest Furious movie and several other movies I was sure she wasn't interested in seeing, I was curious what she was seeing.

"Don't know. Something in Japanese."

I knew immediately she was seeing Your Name. Her boyfriend and his friend met in Japanese class so they were seeing this movie. I had wanted to see it and had even though about going this weekend. Suzi had thought about inviting me but didn't think I would be interested.

Previews would be starting in two minutes, so I left my home and high-tailed it to the theater right then! I arrived at the theater in a speedy ten minutes and was able to catch three previews!

I'm so glad I made it because I loved this film! We saw the subtitled version, which is just marvelous. It is the story of two high school kids in Japan - a boy living in Tokyo and a girl living in the country. The somehow inhabit each other bodies, triggered by sleep. So several times a week each will wake up in the other's body. The eventually figure it out, and leave notes for the other on what happened while the other was away.

This film is so beautiful! The animation is extraordinarily colorful, particularly the scenes with the comet and the journey to the underworld. I have never watched an anime film before so this was literally seeing something for the first time. I was fascinated in how the animation seemed "real", in that it felt like something I would see through a camera lens as opposed to drawn on a page or created in a computer. There was depth, out of focus, fuzziness, detail, background, color.

A big part of the film and its loveliness is the music. From the beginning intro song and all the way through, each song and music selection was perfect, adding to the characters and feelings of the film.

When Mitsuha is talking about moving to Tokyo I yearned with her. When she finally gets to experience Tokyo, in Taki's body, I understand her excitement at awe at the big city with its tall buildings and rushing trains and people and vitality.

I have always loved twilight, as during that time everything looks lovely. It is fleeting, though, and it must be savored in a short span. I don't think I'll be able to experience a twilight without thinking of this film. I do not want to spoil any plot points for those who might go see it, so I won't say anymore.

The film does have subtitles, but if that makes you disinclined to see it I will tell you right now to get over it. You will not be disappointed. This is easily one of my favorite films.

(My cousin Phaedra has a much better review of it).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ivy and Tia Julie Take New York: Wicked

I told Ivy we could see any Broadway show she wanted. She hadn't yet discovered Hamilton, so she chose her favorite musical, Wicked. I thought this was a great choice, even though I've seen it three times already (Ivy has seen it, too; but I didn't realize that and thought this was her first time).

We got back to our hotel to change and get ourselves all gussied-up for the show around six. Ivy borrowed a dress from her mom and she looked so grown-up!


We walked the couple blocks to the show at the Gershwin Theater. Wicked has been playing there since it debuted in 2003, and is still one of the hottest tickets on Broadway. The girls sitting next to us with their dad were seeing it for the first time, which made me think to when I first saw it in May 2007 at the Apollo Victoria in London. I saw it again in the first couple months of living in New York. I saw it for the third time in SLC in 2014, and, honestly, wasn't that impressed by it.

But seeing it again in New York reminded me why I love this musical! Ivy and I agreed that the actress playing Galinda was fantastic. It's a slightly more showy role than Elphaba, and an actress can do things with it to make it their own. Nothing, though, is more powerful than when Elphaba belts out, "Defying Gravity" at the end of act one.

I had to take this real quick as the line was moving. 

I LOVE this photo. We look so great. 

During intermission Ivy and I discussed Fiyero, and how he didn't have much stage presence during his big, introductory song, "Dancing Through Life." It was kind of flat. The actor played the role of Rolf in the live version of The Sound of Music on NBC, and this is his first Broadway role. He was better in act two, though, and impressed me with "As Long As Your Mine."


Thanks, strangers, for taking this photo of us during intermission!

Ivy and I talked about what we liked about the show, mainly how a person can't judge another by outward things. And that being wicked can be relative, and that people can change. I like that it is a story about two females and their friendship and how they support one another. It's a great show!

Oh hey, look, it's Julie Andrews!


We were hungry after the show, and thankfully kitty-corner from our hotel was a Shake Shack. It was on Ivy's list so naturally we made our way there after the show. As we were crossing the street to get there a guy overheard us talking about the apparent long line. He said it would move quick and would be worth it (obviously; I've been there before but when you're hungry you want your food NOW). I had a hamburger while Ivy had chicken, and we each got a shake. It was delicious and the perfect ending to our night. Ivy couldn't believe that the Shake Shack was so busy at 10:30 p.m. New York is truly the city that never sleeps.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ivy and Tia Julie Take New York: Day Two

Since rain was forecast for Tuesday, we decided to do the museums on Ivy's list today so we would be inside. This would coincide nicely with some of the other things on Ivy's list that were on the Upper East and West Sides (so no ice cream today, as they are all in lower Manhattan).

But first we needed breakfast. We went to the restaurant in our hotel for their gourmet doughnuts. We spared nothing in getting six, very large, doughnuts from coconut to lemon poppy to nutella-filled to share between the two of us. We sat by the window and looked out on the people rushing around during the morning commute hour.

We took the Shuffle to Grand Central so we could catch a green line train to the Guggenheim Museum. I loved explaining the subway and city streets to Ivy - where each subway goes, what an express line is, how streets are short and avenues are long. She caught on quickly and it made my little heart so happy.


The Guggenheim is a museum I never visited when I lived in the city, so I was excited to be able to experience this for the first time just like Ivy. She had a couple pieces she wanted to see, specifically the Picasso piece, "Woman with Yellow Hair." The Guggenheim is also home to several Van Gogh paintings as well as some Kandinsky.


We both loved the Guggenheim! Most museums are so large that they feel overwhelming and I never get to see everything. But the Guggenheim is the perfect size, and the architecture with the spiral walkway means you don't miss out on anything. It's the perfect museum.




We then walked through Central Park, since there aren't subway options for travelling cross-town. It was overcast and a little drizzly, but the walk along the Jackie Onassis Reservoir was still nice.



Now on the Upper West Side, we took the 1 train up to Columbia University. This was on Ivy's list because she wants to go to school there (or NYU). I told her about how after Auntie Em and grandma left New York after moving there, and I was alone for the first time, I came to Columbia and sat on the steps of the library so I wouldn't feel alone.

We walked around and took photos, imagining what it would be like for Ivy to attend school there. And then we were on a quest to find a bathroom. Which is always difficult when in NYC. Since we were on campus, surrounded by several essentially public buildings, we chose one to enter and look for a bathroom. We did, and liked that Ivy used the bathroom at an Ivy League school.




Since we were uptown on the west side, I decided to take Ivy up a few more blocks to see where I used to live. But first we stopped at the Hamilton residence uptown. Sadly, it was Tuesday and the National Park is closed on Tuesday. So we just took a photo before walking down 141st to my old apartment building. Oh the memories!


My old apartment building! 

My subway stop. The deli I used to love is gone, replaced by a Duane Reade. 

Then it was downtown to get lunch at Grey's Papaya! But first we made a small detour to West End Street so Ivy could take a picture for her mom of the apartment of the character Rose in the film The Mirror Has Two Faces. While walking down 86nd Street we walked past actor Mark Ruffalo. A true New York moment!

We got our hot dogs and walked to Central Park to eat them on a bench, even though it was kind of cold. But Ivy wanted to see the well-known bridge in Central Park, which we walked to after scarfing down our hot dogs and papaya juice.



Our next stop was the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and we needed to fit it in before heading Broadway that night to see Wicked. So we got on the subway and headed to the museum, with Ivy knowing exactly what she wanted to see. She knew she wanted to see "Starry Night" from Van Gogh and "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory" by Dali. We also made sure to see Monet's "Water Lillies", which, along with "Starry Night", is still breathtaking even though I have seen it before. Dali's painting we missed the first time through, since it is a small painting. We had to ask where it was, then realized we had walked right by it!

I tried to get photos of Ivy looking at the art. But whenever I'd pull my phone out she'd also pull her phone out! 


The MoMA is cool, but it can be overwhelming with all the different levels and rooms. The Guggenheim solves those problems with its awesome structure and form.

Then we headed to our hotel to get ready for Wicked, which will be a separate post because this is already too long!



 

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