Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Shape of Water

The description for this movie: A lonely janitor at a government facility forms a relationship with an aquatic creature at the facility.


Despite the film getting great reviews, it wasn't until my friend Stephanie recommended it to me as she was taking me to the train station that I decided I wanted to see it. Pam and I made plans to see it while I was in SLC, and we were not disappointed!

The film takes place in the 1960s at a government facility. Elisa (a luminous Sally Hawkins) and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are janitors at this facility. Oh, and Elisa is mute. She is friends with her next door neighbor, and artist and closeted-gay man who just wants to live a regular life. When the facility becomes home to a strange aquatic creature, Elisa recognizes it/him as a being worth getting to know (rather than examining, cutting open, and then discarding).

In the hands of inventive filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the film is magical and beautiful. Every set and camera movement and color choice contributes to the world of the story. I love that the characters live above a movie theater, and that film canisters can be seen in the hallway. The joy of films is ever-present in the movie, and I love the scene of the creature standing in an empty movie theater, found by Elisa as he stares at the movie on the screen.

It's a truly lovely, magical film that brings together misfits and those who don't "fit" into society.

All the Money in the World

There weren't very many movies this year that I was excited about seeing on Christmas Day. Even less ones that I would be able to convince my sister to see with me. I'm fine with going to movies alone, but on Christmas Day I generally want to go with family and/or friends. Plus we had to see one that didn't start too late, since Em had to be to work the next day at 5 a.m.

We settled on All the Money in the World, the story of the kidnapping of the grandson of John Paul Getty, richest person in the world, in the 1970s. Turns out being rich doesn't preclude one from being a completely terrible person, as Getty doesn't want to pay the ransom. He makes a semi-good point that if he pays this ransom, it puts his other 14 grandchildren at risk. However, he continues to be completely awful when negotiating with his former daughter-in-law, requesting things that no normal human being would.

The film starts out a little slow, and I was concerned my nephews would be bored and Em would fall asleep. But then it picked up some steam and was rather suspenseful. There are several tense scenes with the abductors and their abductee, so much so that I may have said words out loud to the screen. The film ends on a weird and highly improbable set piece (turns out that was all made up by the filmmakers).

However, the performances are all stellar - particularly Michelle Williams as the mom of the abducted, and Christopher Plummer as Getty, who came to the film after it had already wrapped to replace Kevin Spacey. If you're looking for a smart, suspenseful thriller give this one a go.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Last Jedi

It's been two weeks since I saw The Last Jedi. Normally by this time I would have seen the movie at least one more time, but this is the rare time where I have only seen it once. Not because it was terrible; an opportunity to see it again just hasn't come up.

And, honestly, I didn't love it. It's probably in that "Good, not great" category.

First of all, it didn't feel like a Star Wars movie to me. Sure, there were the same characters, and the well-know phrases, and the galaxy we have come to know over forty years. But it never really came together for me in a way that made me feel like I was seeing a Star Wars movie.

I'm still not on board with Poe's apparent humor, and it still feels out of place to me for the Star Wars universe. Star Wars movies definitely have humor in them, but not like this.

The talk about being low on fuel took me completely out of the movie. Fuel has never been an issue in the Star Wars universe and it all of a sudden being the reason the Resistance and their ships can't escape seemed like it was there just as a plot device - "Hmm, how can we create tension??? Let's make it so they don't have enough fuel to go into hyperspace so they will have to sit around and figure out a plan. Then we can send Finn and Rose on a mission that doesn't matter, have Poe act like a petulant child, and then have Holdo sacrifice herself! Genius!"

I don't care at all for the character of Finn. His story was boring to me. Even Poe annoyed me. Snoke is SO ridiculous and not scary at all like the Emperor or Darth Vader. He wears a ridiculous gold outfit and then is quite easily killed.

I still do not believe Luke would abandon everything because of the one miscommunication with Kylo Ren. They just had that weird moment, and then instead of even talking about it, they decide to fight and kill people?! Really?! Luke fought to save freakin' Darth Vader because he knew there was good in him. No way he runs away from his family and the Jedis and the Republic after one incident.

Parts of it I really liked though. The mind melding of Rey and Kylo was fantastic! I loved the play of good and bad between them. I even liked that Rey ended up being a nobody. They're fight scene where they joined forces was pretty fantastic. I think it would have been a better story choice to have Kylo choose to be good and join with Rey, since that would have been unexpected. But I suspect the filmmakers and Disney want to tease that out through the third film.

Also, Yoda. Dude is awesome.

The Force Awakens got by on the sheer nostalgia of having Star Wars back in my life. But it does obliterate the happy ending of Return of the Jedi. A part of me just wishes we had left well enough alone.

I was disappointed there wasn't a trailer for the upcoming Han Solo film!

Christmas 2017

Since I was in SLC just over a week ago, my trip for Christmas this year was short and sweet. I got in a little after midnight on Christmas Eve and left at 5:30 a.m. on December 27th for just three days with family and friends.

But I made the most of those days! Emily and I enjoyed watching several (some good, some not so good) made-for-tv Christmas movies.

Christmas Eve was spent with my mom and, later, Jorge, Jose and Athena. We all went to Olive Garden to fill ourselves with food. When the waiter brought the after-dinner minutes, Athena quickly opened about ten of them and stuffed them in her mouth! I was wearing my light-up cat sweater from my work Secret Santa and everyone loved it (the waiter made cat-puns, and other waiters told me they loved it).

Em, my mom, and I watched the Sound of Music while eating Harmon's cheeseball and intermittently falling asleep. It started to snow a little bit Christmas Eve night, but nothing like last year. We had opened presents earlier in the day - Em was excited for the Soul 2 Soul tickets I bought for her! Em bought mom a new purse.

My dad and Debbie came up from Vegas to open presents and have lunch at my brother's home. Athena loves dinosaurs and has lots of them!

To close out the night, Em and I took Jorge and Jose to the movies. We saw All the Money in the World.

The next day I was lucky enough to get to hang out with two awesome friends - breakfast with my Kansas friend Janae, and then lunch, a movie and the afternoon with Pam. Pam and I went to the Broadway (my favorite theater!) to see The Shape of Water, then checked out Barnes and Noble. 

Then the next morning I was off, very early, to the airport to head home to Denton. I love being with family and getting to see friends, but Denton is my home. Quite literally, my home is here. Along with Biscuit and Chance, friends, my work, and everything I love in this charming little town.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Quick Trip

This year's Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, was released two weeks before Christmas. Which meant there was no way Lindsay and I could wait to see it to coordinate with me going home for Christmas. So I decided I would just fly out for the premiere and come right back.

It ended up working out perfectly. I got into Salt Lake early enough to see my sister at work (actually ran into her in the bathroom) and get lunch with her at Toaster's. Toaster's is my favorite place in SLC and I cant' visit without going there.

Then I was off to Pocatello to see the 6 p.m. Fan Event showing with Lindsay and her husband, Scott. I will write a review of the film later. I can't imagine not seeing the premiere of a Star Wars movie without Lindsay. We have seen all of them together at a theater in Pocatello since the prequels were released in 1999 (although that theater has since been tore down).

It was great seeing Lindsay and her daughter, Sydney, who was one when I last saw her two years ago. She is so much fun and I loved getting to spend time with her.

The nice thing about being in town before Christmas was being able to get together with old friends. Everyone is always so busy when I'm home for Christmas because of the season that I don't get to see everyone. This trip I was able to see my dear friend Holli in Pocatello (we worked together at Wendy's) and my friend Kate in SLC (we worked together at Myriad).

It was a super quick trip, but it was just right and just what I needed.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

My friend Kevin Ann and I decided we would spend our Thanksgiving Day together at the movies. We couldn't exactly agree on what to see (I was aiming for Coco but Kevin Ann didn't want to) so we settled on Thor: Ragnarok. I had already seen it, but Kevin Ann had not. We went to the Movie Tavern so we could also order food and make that our Thanksgiving meal. I love Kevin Ann and was so glad to spend the afternoon with her.

I let the hamburger and popcorn settle for a couple hours before heading to hang with my friend Robby at his friend's home. Tracy, Robby's friend, had family and friends in her home; Robby joins her almost every year for Thanksgiving. I loved being in a home full of fun and laughter! We sat out in the backyard and ate pie and enjoyed the perfect weather before coming in to play Sequence.

I haven't been with family for Thanksgiving in five years. I love that Thanksgiving has turned into a time to spend with  friends. I truly have much to be thankful for and the amazing friends I have here in Denton (and elsewhere) are proof of that.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Lady Bird

Last Saturday I drove out to the Angelika in Plano to catch an early-morning viewing of Lady Bird. This film has been getting rave reviews, and I love Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn is one of my favorite films from a couple years ago). Also, Laurie Metcalf is in it and she's basically always fantastic. 

The film is a coming-of-age story of high school senior Lady Bird (real name Christine). The film open with a great scene of Lady Bird and her mom in a car, returning from a road trip to check out colleges. They instantly go from  enjoying an audiobook together to fighting with each other. Lady Bird, annoyed in the way only teenagers can be, escapes the conversation by opening her car door and rolling out (while the car is in motion). Lady Bird is a teenager, a time of life when everything is either the worst thing ever or the best thing ever. Everything is dramatic and over the top. 

I didn't love the film quite like I thought I would. I by no means disliked it, but maybe I'm just getting old because I found Lady Bird's antics to be tiring. Yes, it's a sure sign of getting older when one relates more to the parents than to the teenaged lead! Lady Bird's dad was marvelous. There is a small scene when the priest-teacher-school-play-director is talking to a nurse (therapist??) that hit my so hard I cried.

I would recommend the movie, though! So if it's near you go check it out. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

The last Thor solo film came out four years ago, but it feels like a decade ago. After enjoying the first one, I didn't much care for the sequel, Thor: The Dark World, but generally enjoyed Thor in the ensemble films. However, I still wasn't planning on seeing Thor: Ragnarok because I'm just superhero'd out.

But I like going to the movies and I like going on opening weekend. When I randomly checked Saturday morning the available seats for the first showing, there was one available. It seemed like fate so I went ahead and bought the ticket.

I came out pleasantly surprised. Granted, there is still a lot going on in the MCU and I really struggled to remember what had happened in previous movies to account for the state Thor (and others) were in in this film. First off, the film jettisons Jane and her entire crew for a somewhat-standalone story involving Thor, is heretofore unknown sister, and a quest to save Asgard from that sister (also known as the Goddess of Death).

Thor gets reunited with Hulk, as the two are meant to face each other in a gladiator-style fight for the Grandmaster (a very funny Jeff Goldblum). This is easily the best part of the film. It gives us the haircut, for one. But also, the fantastic character Korg, an extremely funny rock "person" who oversees the fighters. He is voiced by the director, Taika Waititi, and he is by far my favorite character of the film.

My other favorite is Heimdall (Idris Elba) because he just seems really cool.

Everyone is having a lot of fun in this movie, and I was surprised at how much I laughed (Lord of Thunder). I credit Waititi for taking Thor in a direction we didn't know we wanted or needed. Thor has always been a bit of a funny character with his fish-out-of-water-like tendencies and arrogance as a god, but released from the confines of the normal Jane/Loki/Tesseract he shines as a truly humorous character. I also enjoyed Waititi's New Zealand touches and that he didn't shoehorn in an obvious love story.

The film isn't perfect, and I imagine some fans will feel like a couple characters are portrayed much differently (yes, I'm talking about Hulk/Banner). I'm not a die-hard fan so I was fine with it. It's a fun film, reminiscent of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, but not as weighty as Captain America: Winter Soldier. Still a solid hit, though.

Monday, October 23, 2017

15k for 35

I've always wanted to be a runner, but I've never really put that much effort into it. When I dated a guy who was a legit runner (like wake-up-and-run-a-marathon legit runner), I thought it would magically rub off on me.

It didn't.

Lofty goals I made of running longer and longer distances until I finally made it to a marathon. That was well over ten years ago and the longest distance I made it up to was a 10k....way back in 2010.

I made another lofty goal a couple years ago when I made my 35 by 35 list - run a marathon by my 35th birthday. It's six months away, and running a marathon doesn't seem likely.

But running a 15k isn't so far-fetched. And it just so happens that every year during Germanfest in Muenster, TX, (which, being at the end of April is right around my birthday) they have a 15k Fun Run.

I am going to do this 15k. It's the perfect goal for my 35th birthday. Tonight I started by doing Run 1 in the Couch to 5k app. I have used this app before but have never made it through the entire series.

This means I will have to run (and again, I use the term run very loosely) in the cold, dark winter months. Wish me luck. And please help me stay on track.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fire Ants Part II

Fire ants are the worst. Even worse: being allergic to them. Which I discovered today that I am.

My first interaction with them was awful, but normal. My second interaction with them my foot swelled up. My third interaction, today, I had a severe allergic reaction.

I was out with a colleague discussing a new sidewalk project we would be collaborating on. I stepped into the grass for just a moment, but it was a moment too long. I felt a sharp bite on my toe and feared the worst. When I walked away and checked my foot I had five or so ants crawling on my toes. They had already bit me. Now back in my office, I started scratching my foot profusely because these things start itching fast.

Then my eyes started itching. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands and my eyes were not only itchy, they were red. Then my whole body started itching - my back, my chest, my head. And my face was starting to get red, too, along with swelling. My ears felt hollow and were each a bright red.

I was starting to panic. This was definitely not normal. I decided I needed to get to a medical professional. All my close friends at City Hall have left, my friend that works nearby at TWU rides her bike to work (yay!). I thought about asking my boss, but when I walked by his office his boss was in there. I knew he had an important meeting at lunch (it was 11 am) so I didn't bother to ask him (he would have done it in a heartbeat because he's a fantastic boss; just last week he helped me change my flat tire and fix my license plate).

I had a meeting at 11:15 with our website guy, so I went to his office and told him I had to cancel because I was having an allergic reaction to fire ants. It was obvious by my face, so he urged me to go the Clinic. I got in my car and drove myself to the clinic.

I admit that I sped. I don't normally speed, but I felt like at any moment my eyes or throat could swell up. The itching was getting out of hand at this point, and my heart was racing. I was scared and stressed. When I'd scratch my head I could feel little bumps all over it. Everything itched and my face was more red and more swollen.

I arrived at the Clinic and they immediately put me in a wheelchair and took me to the ER, realizing I needed more care than they could provide. They were so sweet and awesome and I will not forget that. I was checked in and two nurses immediately went to work on me (yay nurses!!). One asked me questions and got me ready while the other put a needle in my arm. I was rather emotional and felt like crying, but somehow held it in. When the one asking questions went to put the BP cuff on my arm she noticed a huge rash on the underside of my arm. We then checked my stomach and, yep, more rash. She decided something had to be done now so she went ahead and gave me some steroids, benadryl, and pepsid intravenously right then.
Can you see how red my right foot is?

This photo is so unflattering, but this is what I looked like. You can't tell, but I was extremely red. I felt like my face was ten times bigger than normal. 

It had an almost immediate affect, and I could feel my body relaxing. It also created a cold sensation and I asked for blankets. She brought me two warm blankets and it was heaven! She left me there so the drugs could do their work (and sleep, since the benadryl makes most people drowsy). The Nurse Practitioner from the clinic who had got me into a wheelchair (and is my PCP) came to check on me and it warmed my heart.

In between sleeping I texted a couple people. First an update to my friend Stephanie, who had first suggested to me a couple months ago after my foot swelled that I was probably allergic to fire ants. I wish she could have been there with me, because she is a fantastic, calming friend (she works for FEMA so she's down in Houston). I texted my boss so he would know why I wasn't there. Unfortunately, FYI was auto corrected to dying and I had to send a reply saying I was definitely not dying. The coworker that I cancelled the meeting with also texted to check in on my. He felt bad that he hadn't offered to give me a ride and he was concerned if I had made it.

The PA came into explain to me that this is how allergic reactions start - not on the first bite or incident, but a progression of worse reactions. That is exactly what I experienced. The nurse recommended I get an epi-pen, since my next reaction would likely be worse. This scares me because fire ants are basically everywhere.

I was discharged and came home. My face has finally gone back to normal after feeling puffy most of the afternoon and evening. I am completely fine, just a little drained from the crazy day. My boss called me later to check in on my. Several friends texted to make sure I was okay. It was scary, being at the hospital alone was stressful, but everyone there was extremely helpful and I was in good hands.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Little Kitty Update

Turns out little kitty, who I had named Blackberry Jam, is actually a boy. A series of events led me to google "how to tell sex of kitten", and after that it was obvious that Blackberry Jam was a boy.

The name just didn't fit anymore, so I changed it to Chance. And that name is entirely fitting for this cute little cat that I took a chance on.

Chancey is adorable. 

He's also incredibly annoying. He wants to play with the blinds. All of the time, which includes when I am trying to go to sleep. He wants to attack Biscuit. All of the time, but occasionally lets Biscuit lick him. He wants to play with my bare feet. All of the time. Earlier this week I bought a new toy for him to play with since, unlike Biscuit, he doesn't want to sleep all the time. Even though I likes the toy and plays with it a lot, he still also likes the blinds and my feet and Biscuit.

It can be exhausting. Having a kitten is extremely different than my older cat. But I love him. He has come a long way from the scraggly, tiny kitten found at City Hall.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Fam in Texas

When Ivy and I left New York, she had a huge issue getting out due to earlier storms in the Atlanta area. It was so awful (for real, it took her a whole twenty-four hours to get home to Seattle after leaving our hotel room) that Delta gave her a voucher. Well, they technically gave me the voucher because I paid for the ticket, but it was in Ivy's name and only she could use it. Since I was already planning on Em coming down for the Matchbox Twenty concert, I decided to have Ivy come down, too. And might as well have my mom come as well to make it a full girls' weekend. 

Em and mom arrived Friday afternoon and we went straight from the airport to Austin (for the Matchbox Twenty concert). Ivy flew into Austin just before midnight. Then we drove all the way back to Denton that night. I stayed awake by listening to various Broadway soundtracks. I put on Twentyone Pilots just before getting to Denton and Ivy woke up to sing-along with me. We got home about 3:15 a.m., but it was worth it to be home and already in Denton. 

We tried our best to sleep in on Saturday, but I have a lot of windows and once that morning sun starts shining it's hard to keep the eyes shut. No big deal though, because our plan was just to hang out in Denton that day. We went to the Square and had lunch at Mellow Mushroom and ice cream at Beth Marie's. We almost didn't make it through ice cream - we were all so tired! So we came back home and all took a nap before going on a evening walk. We closed out the day with a rousing game of Phase 10, which mom won. 

The next we took the train to the State Fair of Texas! I was very excited to share this event with my family; it's kind of a big deal. The first thing we did was get a Fletcher's corn dog. Well, Em has an aversion to hot dogs so she didn't get one. And neither did my mom. Their loss. These corn dogs are seriously delicious. We also tried out this year's new food: fried Fruit Loops. They were okay, but I preferred my fried desserts to be chocolate based. 

We checked out the museums before heading to the Pan Am Arena for the pig races. Except they ended at two and the three p.m. show would be a rodeo/stampede. It was fine, but the pig races are more fun. We checked out the livestock before getting a second round of food. We caught a pet show with all kind of rescued pets - cats, dogs, birds, a porcupine - which was cute and fun. 

I made sure we all got a nutty ice cream bar before we made our way to the car exhibits. We had fun checking out all the cool new cars and trucks and imagining ourselves purchasing one of them! We rode the train back home, and everyone was tired. And poor Em was suffering from allergies. 

They left Monday afternoon, all on the same flight from DFW Airport heading for SLC (Ivy's connection to Seattle was there). Hopefully they had a good time in the great state of Texas! 


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