Sunday, September 17, 2017

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Last Sunday I decided to finally watch the Spielberg classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, during its fortieth anniversary run in theaters. Two years ago I saw Jaws for its fortieth anniversary release and was only disappointed that I hadn't seen it sooner. I didn't quite have that same reaction to Close Encounters.

I thought the film was technically brilliant and beautiful. The light images of the "flying saucers" were amazing, and mood and atmosphere were not lacking. But, for me, the story didn't quite capture my interest. This was especially true after Richard Dreyfuss goes crazy and insists on ruining his life. His wife sadly had nothing to do but scream and be hysterical. The government people covering up and figuring out were interesting, to a point (especially with the casting of famed-director Francois Truffaut), but it all ultimately went on too long.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Baseball and Tennis

I traded in the arts for sports on Monday, hitting up both baseball and tennis. I went to one Mets game when I lived in NYC, and never made it out to watch the U.S. Open. When I realized I would be there during the U.S. Open I immediately bought a ticket.

Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium share the same subway stop in Flushing, Queens. Needless to say, the subway was full and the station a flurry of activity. 

The Mets were playing the Phillies, and both teams are nowhere near the playoffs. So I just sat and enjoyed the game. Sitting in front of me were Royals fans! The game wasn't terribly exciting, but at least it wasn't oppressively hot. I chatted with the people around me and cheered for the Phillies (because my dad is a Phillies fan). 

 This dog's owner dresses him up for tips post-games. He was so calm and chill!

After the game I walked over to the Flushing Meadows Corona Park to kill time before the tennis match. I've never been to this park, but it is large and quite awesome. It's where the large Unisphere is (you see it in the Men in Black movies, the large globe). There were so many people there - playing sports, riding bikes, eating ice cream, just enjoying the lovely weather. 

I then headed over to Arthur Ashe Stadium to wait in line to get in. There are several courts at the grounds. I chose to get a reserved seat for the evening match at Arthur Ashe, which is the main court where the big stars play. I had no idea who would be playing that night when I bought my ticket, but I lucked out and got to see Rafael Nadal play! 

People are crazy for Nadal! I've never been in the presence of that before. He played well and everyone was happy for him. But, tennis fans are pretty nice to all players. Maybe because it's a solo sport and it seems really mean to boo at an individual. The crowd cheered and clapped for the opponent, but it was clear that everyone was there to see Nadal and he was the star (certainly warranted). The women's match was after, and sadly it was getting quite late at this point so I only stayed for the first match (or is it set? I don't know; I had to google tennis terms while there). It was such a fun, neat experience though!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

NY Transit Museum

My second day in NYC I hit up one of the places I never did when I lived there: the NY Transit Museum. I had time before my matinee showing of The Great Comet to make my way to Brooklyn to the museum. It was tight, though, when it was discovered that no red line trains were running to Brooklyn on weekends! I had to improvise, but it was pretty easy with the extensive transit system in NYC.

I love transit, which is a direct result of living in NYC. The museum is in an old, once-working subway station by Brooklyn Borough Hall. The museum highlights the history of the NYC subway and bus systems. The first subway opened October 27, 1904. 1904! Whoa (also, that's my sister and best friend's birthday!)! I loved seeing the old photos of the workers building the lines.

The museum highlights the response of transit workers - bus drivers, engineers, steelworkers, everyone - during weather events and the attacks of September 11. It was moving to see this group of people that I had never really heard about as helping in the aftermath. For a city so dependent on public transit, any major disruption in service has a huge affect.

In the lower section, on the tracks, is a vast showing of old subway cars. I loved it!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Four Shows

Before heading to NYC I had bought tickets to two shows - Waitress and The Great Comet. I would enter the lottery for other shows (including Hamilton, which is still a bit too pricey). I ended up getting into two other shows!

I knew I wanted to see this after watching Jesse Mueller's performance at the Tony Awards last year. I tried to see it when I was in NYC back in April, but it just didn't work out. When I decided I was going to New York for my ten year anniversary the first thing I did was buy a ticket to Waitress. It's based on the 2007 movie of the same name, with songs and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. I love Sara Bareilles, and you can tell the songs are from her. I liked how the show found a way to incorporate the thoughts in Jenna's head as she plans pies that relate to her feelings and predicaments. The band is on-stage most of the time, and the background characters are regularly integrated into the story.

This is a very emotional show, with the main character, Jenna, having to deal with a very bad husband and the choices she has made in her life. I love that she is allowed to be multi-dimensional; she makes good and bad choices and yet I never judge her. The females characters have a strong bond, but are allowed to fight and still be good friends.

The Great Comet
I didn't know very much about this show other than Josh Groban was once in the lead role, and the whole brouhaha with Mandy Patinkin. A friend suggested it so I went ahead and bought a ticket a few weeks ago. I got there just in time, because the show ended up playing its last performance the day after I saw it.

The play is based on a 90-page slice of War and Peace. There are a lot of characters, and the Playbill provides a chart of who is connected to who; I found this very helpful. The play is immersive, with most of the characters on stage during the whole run time. The stage was reimagined to accommodate this experience, basically blowing out the entire back of the stage and providing seating right next to the actors. It turned the normal "Broadway play" on its head, and I wish it had gotten more notice for the way it was so different.

The Book of Mormon
Besides the tickets for the two previous shows, my plan was to enter lotteries and see what happened. After The Great Comet I went back to my Airbnb to reassess what to do for the night. I hadn't won the lottery for anything yet. I decided I would go back to Times Square and see about getting a cheap/standing room only ticket for The Book of Mormon. When I arrived about thirty minutes before the show, the Box Office told me they didn't have any standing room only tickets left. However, they did have single tickets available to sell. I decided to wait it out in the cancellation ticket to see what my chances were - if I was going to be paying a lot for a ticket I wanted it to be a good seat! I stood in a line that had just one other person in it - an English girl from Houston! We each ended up getting a premier producer's seat for a third of what they normally go for! My seat was in the orchestra, in the middle, about ten rows back.

The play was awesome! It was so much fund and everyone was laughing the whole time. I think it's probably better if you are Mormon or know Mormon culture, because you get the little jokes and comments that others don't. It is entirely irreverent (what else do you expect from the creators of South Park). I laughed a lot, which made for a very fun night. I stage-doored it in the rain after and had a couple of the actors sign my Playbill.

Dear Evan Hansen
When I told one of my friends about my plan to go to NYC he said he'd love to see Dear Evan Hansen. I remember seeing the posters for it when Ivy and I were in NYC, but I wasn't all that familiar with it. I looked at getting a ticket but just never committed to it. Then it won a boatload of Tony's in June, I loved Ben Splatt's performance, and I wanted to see it. Too bad - ticket prices had now sky-rocketed (not to Hamilton level, but still a bit too pricey for what I was willing to pay). My plan was to enter the lottery and hope for the best.

By Sunday afternoon I hadn't won any of the lotteries I had entered, and had pretty much resigned myself to not seeing it. I was taking a walking tour of Greenwich Village when I decided to just check StubHub again and see what the prices were. At 1:30 p.m. there was a single ticket for the 3 p.m. show that was at a price within my budget! So I bought it right then and there!

When I got to the theater and the line started moving, I felt so happy and lucky that I was seeing it! As I got to the theater doors I noticed a white sign posted: The role of Evan Hansen usually played by Ben Splatt will be played by Michael Lee Brown. Well, that explained the relatively-cheap ticket I was able to buy. And I was bummed.

But then I got over it! Because I was seeing Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway with all of the original cast. It did not disappoint, and understudy Michael Lee Brown was amazing. Like seriously. He is the understudy for two other characters and has played them all throughout the run. That's right, he understudies for three characters - three sets of songs, three character's dialogue and movements and props. That is amazing. I stage-doored it afterward just because I wanted him to feel special, and he signed my Playbill.

I loved all the shows I saw, book-ended by the emotional stories of Waitress and Dear Evan Hansen and stuffed with flair and fun of The Great Comet and The Book of Mormon. I loved the kids and pre-teens I saw at the shows and the excitement they had for theater. The kid sitting behind me at The Great Comet was seriously so excited his mom had to tell him to stop talking at one point and not spoil the show for her. So many kids had posters and art and I could feel their excitement.

Friday, September 1, 2017

10 Years Post-NYC

Ten years ago this very day I arrived in New York City, intent on making it my home. I had grand dreams and was pretty sure I would live in the City for the foreseeable future. Which is why I loaded up a Penske truck with all my belongings when I moved here as a twenty-four year old in 2007.

Those grand dreams changed; I only ended up living in the City for about eighteen months before going back to SLC to pursue new dreams. But those eighteen months were some of the best in my life. It was a time when, to get very cliche, I discovered myself.

I will have much more to say about that, but for now I am going to go out and enjoy NYC. That's right, I decided to come back to the City on the very date I arrived here ten years ago - September 1, 2007! I made this plan back in June when other summer plans fell through. I knew that I would want to mark the momentous anniversary, and nothing is more momentous that being in New York City.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It Happened One Night

The Cinemark Classic Series this go-around includes the classic rom-com (or screwball comedy) It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. I went to see it last night so I could cross off one more Best Pic Winner from my 35 by 35 list.

Colbert is the rich, pampered socialite Ellie Andrews, a woman so controlled by her father that she married a man just because he didn't want her to. When she jumps off the yacht (?) her father owns at the beginning of the film, she ends up meeting newspaper man Peter Warne (Gable) on the bus at the depot in Miami. She's trying to make her way to New York to her husband without getting caught by the press (apparently nothing else of newsworthy note is occurring in the world). He's trying to get the scoop on her to save his career and together the two make a deal - he'll get unlimited access and the story, she'll get to New York unnoticed.

This is what is called the meet-cute in movie parlance.

And their meeting on the bus is pretty cute. Along with their interactions throughout the film, most memorably the way they play off each other in their hotel room when being interrogated by detectives sent by her father. They just click, and they both realize it.

There are of course some miscommunications, but all ends well with the "walls of Jericho" finally coming down. Being the first rom-com, it set the stage for what all of them contain - opposites attract, initial dislike of each other, the falling in love over a very short period of time. As the first, It Happened One Night is quite charming (just overlook some of the dated gender stereotypes about men and women).

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bonnie and Clyde

I hit up my local Cinemark for their showing of Bonnie and Clyde, a classic from 1967 celebrating its 40th anniversary. I've always been curious about this film, as it gets name-checked a lot in film circles.

I didn't particularly care for the film. It was oddly shot and oddly edited. The music was odd. I didn't believe any of the motivations for the characters (Bonnie and Clyde and the Barrow gang must have been more interesting in real life, right?). I couldn't stop thinking about how Bonnie always looked so fabulous when she left with Clyde on a whim one day with nothing.

The film is fun just for seeing a very young and very handsome Warren Beatty. Other than that, I'd likely skip it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Off Facebook

Back in January I said I was going to Facebook less and blog more. I'm not sure the blogging more has actually happened (I seem to rarely blog about anything other than movies I've seen), but I am Facebooking less. Like a lot less - I deactivated my account in March.

Honestly, I didn't think I would be off this long.

And honestly, I don't really miss it all that much. Sure I miss the invites to events, the cute photos of friends' and family's babies/pets. I miss feeling connected to a large group of people.

But I don't miss the time it took up in my life. I don't miss the angst and frustration and anger I got from it. I don't miss the war of words.

I still have Instagram, so I still see pictures. Just a much smaller crowd and less angry commenting. I check out Twitter to get my fix for in-the-moment commentary on pop culture.

I listen to the news in the morning and the evening. Then I turn it off and live life instead of constantly reading opinion pieces, rebuttal pieces, and everyone's thoughts on current issues. Don't get me wrong, a part of me really likes those discussions and, generally, the part I played in bringing issues I care about to people who might not hear a differing opinion. But for sanity and well-being, it wasn't worth it.

I will try blog about more than just movies!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spider-man: Homecoming

Thursday afternoon I was looking for an escape after receiving semi-bad news. Nothing makes me feel better and forget my worries than the smell of popcorn and a darkened movie theater. There's not a whole lot playing right now that I am interested in seeing (it's the doldrums of late-summer), so I decided to catch up on a mid-summer release that I never saw, Spider-man: Homecoming.

Spider-man is now officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having been let go from his contract with Sony that had relegated him to his own movies (five over twelve years with two actors). He debuted in Captain America: Civil War, and followed it up with his own solo outing this summer.

What Homecoming has going for it is its star, Tom Holland. As much as I liked Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in the role in their respective films (except for Spider-man 3 and The Amazing Spider-man 2), they were both in their late 20s in their first outing. Because of that, they couldn't quite capture the young, high-school aspect of Peter Parker. Holland nails it.

While Holland is a great Spider-man, and I generally liked Michael Keaton as the villain, the film didn't quite come together for me. It felt oddly paced, and the actions sequences weren't all that spectacular (I actually fell asleep for a quick second during the  Staten Island Ferry sequence. The CGI was obvious, especially with Spider-man himself.

The movie was fun, though. Peter Parker is just a high school kid, trying his darndest to convince Tony Stark to let him be a part of The Avengers. His friend Ned was the perfect "sidekick", providing plenty of laughs. His other friends are okay, and his love interest barely registers; no chemistry and no understanding of why they like each other.

Even though I am over superhero movies, Spider-man: Homecoming wasn't a bad way to spend a night. And it (and the popcorn) made me feel a little bit better.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Bachelorette: Settling??

The Bachelorette finale aired Monday, and since I don't have cable and ABC is practically impossible to get on antenna (and through streaming unless you live in one of eight markets), I had to wait until Tuesday night to watch it (thanks to the login of my friend's brother-in-law! Seriously none of my friends have cable anymore). I like being part of the public conversation of live events, so it was really hard to avoid social media and websites so I wouldn't be spoiled.

I was sure bachelorette Rachel would pick Peter. Both gap-toothed, they had great chemistry and seemed to really talk when they were together. Obviously, there is a lot of editing done on the show so we are only seeing what producers intend to make a good story. But really, they just seemed so right together. Also, the other front-runner, Bryan, I have disliked from the start - aggressive, sloppy kisser; charmer; just..ugh.

Only problem with Peter, though (at least according to what we were shown), was that he didn't feel ready to be engaged at the end. The premise of the show is to find love and get engaged. But that's the problem - it assumes getting engaged is the only logical step after deciding you are in love with someone. When, in reality, people who had been on three or four dates and weren't dating twenty other people simultaneously would decide to get to know each other more before getting engaged.

Rachel wanted a fiance, not a boyfriend. A fact she made clear multiple times. However, Peter also made it clear he wasn't ready to propose, and yet she continue to give him roses until he was one of the last two remaining. When they had their final night together, they had a brutal ending that felt entirely too real to anyone who has experienced a break up.

I've only felt real emotions twice before while watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette - when Jason broke up with Molly during the After the Final Rose, and when Brooks ended things with Desiree during his hometown. This break up between Rachel and Peter was devastating to watch, and I didn't want to believe it was the end. But then Chris Harrison, live in studio, said that that was the last time Rachel saw Peter.

NOOOOOOOO. I for real kept waiting for some twist to happen. Nothing. The show went on, with absolutely no suspense or intrigue and, honestly, no passion in Bryan's proposal to Rachel.

Only Rachel really knows why she made the choices she did. Based on what was broadcast, it looks like she was settling. The breakup with passionate, the proposal was not. It seemed she had to go with Bryan because he was the only one left out of default. It didn't help that Rachel insisted on getting a ring at the end, not a boyfriend. But having a ring is no guarantee that you will get married. It reminds of the movie He's Just Not That Into You. Ben Affleck is dating Jennifer Aniston. She wants to get married, but he doesn't see the need; he loves her and wants to be with just her - why do they have to get married? She realizes that being committed and in love is what is important (he ends up proposing anyway, which I was okay with because they had been dating seven years, living together, and he saw that it was important to her after they both compromised).

I have to completely agree with Peter on his thinking about engagement. It's not something done when still getting to know each other; it's done when you know for sure that is the person you want to be with forever. I believe in long courtships and short engagements, because once a couple is engaged it's just one short step to getting married.

Now Rachel is talking about her and Bryan getting to know one another, not sure where they will live, taking it slow. But they're engaged. So apparently that's better??

I still struggle with many gender roles and tropes that the franchise embraces. Why must Rachel wait for one of the men to propose to her? It's her show, why can't she?! Why must we still have the men asking the dad's permission to marry their daughter?! This is 2017! Why are we still so fixated on worth tied to being engaged/married and using it as a barometer of success? Rachel is already successful in life.

It was a pretty good season, and I was incredibly disappointed in the finale. We'll see what happens with the relationship, but the franchise does not have a great track record (although better with Bachelorettes than Bachelors).

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Saturday afternoon I went with my friends to see Dunkirk. I didn't have an overwhelming desire to see this film, but Suzi asked and I like most of the people involved with the film - notably Mark Rylance and Cillian Murphy (I joked that it was actually Harry Styles). I also generally like Christopher Nolan films.

The film, obviously, tells the story of the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk, where the troops were cornered and stranded in the early days of WWII. The film drops in on the troops, telling the story from one week on the beach, one day on a little ship that answered the call to rescue, and one hour of an RAF pilot, without any backstory. Mos of the characters weren't even given names (in the credits, Cillian Murphy's character is "Shivering Soldier") and it actually worked really well. Not that I don't love a good character-study against the backdrop of war a-la Spielberg's masterful Saving Private Ryan, but with Dunkirk Nolan found a way to make a war film that is touching without backstory.

Even though we don't know the soldiers' names it's easy to care about them. We feel their desperation, their sadness, their fight to want to survive. The actors are all up to the task, but Hans Zimmer's score assists. It's restrained and bombastic at just the right moments. When the little boats start arriving at Dunkirk and the troops start to cheer and the music swells it was perfect; I got rather emotional.

It's a great film that I recommend. It's not a bloody, violent war film, so if that turns you off then this is the perfect film for you.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Big Sick

I went into my Tuesday night showing of The Big Sick with high expectations. Good press. Good reviews. Premiered at Sundance.

It met all my expectations, and then exceeded them. I left the theater feeling like I had seen a perfect movie.

The film centers around Kumail, a Pakistani-American comedian and the woman, Emily, he falls in love with after meeting at one of his shows (when she's "heckling" him on stage). Emily is white, a tough thing to take home to his Muslim parents who are trying to arrange a marriage for him with a Pakistani woman. When Emily gets sick and has to be put into a coma, Kumail is forced into close quarters with Emily's parents.

That may not sound awesome, but I assure you, it is. I knew I'd like the film when, right off, there is a joke about becoming a celebrity and getting to hang with Elijah Wood. I literally laughed out loud. And it didn't stop, for me or other people in the audience who were also laughing out loud. I didn't just laugh, though; I also cried, and smiled, and completely related.

Everything in the film feels so real. It captures exactly that feeling of meeting someone new and what a new relationship is like. Kumail and Emily are real people (for real, though - the film is the story of how real Kumail and Emily, now married, met and is written by them) and they have real moments, fights, emotions and feelings.

The film is produced by Judd Appatow, who is credited with "discovering" Lena Dunham and giving Amy Schumer her movie breakthrough (I like Girls but think Trainwreck was just that). His films are generally known for being a tad too long, but at two hours, I thought The Big Sick was just right and didn't need any trimming or tightening.

I very highly recommend this movie to everyone.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Garth Brooks Concert

I was already rediscovering country music this week when I overheard a coworker talking about being offered tickets to the Friday concert of Garth Brooks. I immediately searched online to see when he was playing. Turns out he already came to Dallas and I missed it, but he was playing four shows over two days in Oklahoma City - Friday and Saturday.

So I bought a ticket Friday morning! I was sure I would have to pay a crap-ton of money for a seat at the very edge, but I didn't! Imagine my surprise when all tickets on Ticketmaster were marked at $65 - and I mean every ticket. I learned that Garth doesn't believe in ticket-gouging, so he sets all tickets in the venue at the same price and forbids tickets to be resold at exorbitant markups. This. Is. Fantastic. I wish all artists did this. 

I bought a ticket for the 3:00 p.m. showing on Saturday and made the relatively short drive to OKC. I found awesome, cheap parking a block or so away. Downtown OKC was packed! In addition to the two Garth Brooks shows, there was also an event at the Art Museum and a minor league baseball game. 

I loved my seat in the middle section of the arena. The show opened with Mitch Rossell, a new-on-the-scene Nashville artist, who sand three songs. That was just the right amount - people came to see Garth and Trisha! It was only about twenty minutes later when Garth came out (since there was a second show at 7:00 there could not be any dilly-dallying). 

He opened with "Rodeo", one of his most country-sounding songs. Garth made it a point to let us know that he would be playing the classics. And he did. He played all the classics (except for my favorite, "The Red Strokes"). When he started the notes for "In Another's Eyes" I knew Trisha would be making her appearance! They performed this song on The Tonight Show and they used it for the "official" video (I'd link to it, but Garth is notorious for not letting his official videos  have homes on YouTube, which sucks because Garth makes really great videos). 

After the duet Garth left the stage (likely needing, and deserving, a break) and Trisha took over. She is a fantastic singer and I love her personality. She sang her hits, too - "How Do I Live", "She's in Love With the Boy", and a ballad for cancer survivors. 

Garth came back out and continued with the hits. "Shameless" was great, but used a weird light combination. "Callin' Baton Rouge" was excitedly rousing. I wasn't sure which song would be his closing song, since he already played all of his biggest hits (and I'm not use which of them is considered to be the biggest). He ended up closing out the show with "Standing Outside the Fire", which was a great choice. 

Garth came back for the encore with just him and his guitar. Trisha came out and they sang a George Jones/Tammy Wynette duet before Garth requested his favorite Trisha Yearwood song, "Walkaway Joe." This song is a classic and she sang the crap out of it. 

The band came back out (all of them have been playing with Garth and Trisha since '91/'92!) and took their bows (I forget what song they ended up playing...). Garth still puts on a good show, even if, by his own admission, sometimes the guitar he's strumming isn't live (maybe his vocals aren't live either...). I like the band and what they can do, but a big part of me likes it when it's just Garth (or any musician) on the stage with just their guitar. Garth is a showman, and he still has it after all these years. Him and Trisha make a great pair and put on a great concert. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rediscovering Country Music

I use just two of the presets in my car radio - preset 1 is 90.1, KERA/NPR, and preset 3 is 91.7 KXT. One day earlier in the week my finger missed preset 3 and hit preset 4 instead. I have no idea what any other preset is set to, so I was surprised to all of a sudden be hearing country music.

It's been an awfully long time since I have listened to country music. I haven't ever really been the target demographic for country music - I didn't grow up on a farm, I wasn't a member of FFA, I never owned boots or a truck or a cowboy hat; lots of the songs I don't relate to (beer, fishing, living in the country). But some country I really liked, and my sister and I would spend a decent amount of time watching CMT while growing up (our favorite was the Labor Day Top 100 Countdown). When Em and I lived together in West Valley, country was a big part of our rotation. We attended multiple Tim McGraw concerts (Em's favorite), along with Rascal Flatts, Chris Cagle, and Lady Antebellum. Gary Allan is one of my favorites ("Songs About Rain" is one of my favorite songs ever).

But then I moved to New York City, which didn't have a country station. It's not like I had a car, anyway, to listen to the radio while commuting. I also didn't have cable, so country music sort of went by the wayside. Musical tastes change for lots of people, and an interest in country music was one that changed for me.

So when I accidentally switched the radio to the local country station I was a little curious. I randomly came across the latest single from Garth Brooks, "Ask Me How I Know", as it was the song playing when I landed on the station. I liked it. And I kept listening to the channel randomly during the week.

I like the memories that I'm reminded of when I hear certain songs.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The New Kitty

Two weeks ago I brought this cute little kitty home.

She was a stray found at City Hall, and after receiving much love and care from many of the people at City Hall I was the one that got to take her home. It wasn't always easy introducing a new, stray cat to Biscuit. I did all the things I was supposed to - keep them separate, let them eat next to each through a door, let them get slowly acquainted to each other's scents - and wasn't sure if things would ever feel normal (it's only been two weeks so clearly my patience time-frame is tiny).

Things aren't entirely normal, but Biscuit is adapting; sometimes she hisses at kitty (Biscuit is NOT a morning cat apparently), but other times she licks her head and it's just so adorable. Biscuit is still sometimes not sure of li'l kitty but I think she will eventually come around.

Li'l kitty is doing great! She runs around and plays all. the. time. I haven't had a kitten in a very long time and have forgotten just how playful they are (Biscuit just sleeps all the time). She is eating food and using the litter box. She's growing. She still is a little skittish sometimes, and doesn't quite like strangers just yet, but she IS a stray. I think she'll get adapted to other people just like Biscuit (if you came over to my home Biscuit would lay on your lap and love you). After keeping me up much of the night and early morning playing with items under my bed, she has been pretty chill most of today. Currently li'l kitty is sleeping sounding on the scratching pad at my feet, and Biscuit is snoring next to me on the arm of the couch.

Since li'l kitty was found at City Hall (and the vet was 99% sure she is a she) I am thinking of naming her Leslie. Perhaps Leslie O'Neil (the architect of City Hall is Texas-famous O'Neil Ford).

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourth 2017

This year's Fourth of July was fairly low-key. Last year I caught the parade, and then went to Ikea since I had just closed on my home. This year I didn't even make it to the parade - I was hooked on finishing The Handmaid's Tale (and I had to make potato salad).

I went over to my friend Stephanie's home to have lunch. We grilled chicken and corn on the cob, and with my potato salad we had a pretty fabulous lunch. We chatted and played the game of "Life". The game has changed a bit since I played it as a kid! Less career options, more interested in having the players do things during actions cards (dance, tell an embarrassing story, etc.). I was a lawyer with a ranch (and a husband and no kids). Steph, however, lived a very exciting life, starting out first as a farmer, then going to night school to become a teacher, losing that job for bringing a cat to school, then becoming a brains surgeon only to be fired for sleeping on the job. She ended her career as a musician and climbed Mount Everest.

Then I joined up with my friend Suzi, her boyfriend and his friend to see the fireworks at Apogee Stadium here in Denton. Unfortunately, it wasn't the most spectacular firework show. The music choices were odd (anything with the word America, USA or freedom in it was chosen), and the how itself consisted of a lot of single fireworks. The finale came out of nowhere and wasn't impressive. Next year I'll have to make actual plans.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Baby Driver

Yesterday I saw Baby Driver.  When I first saw the trailer I thought the film looked ridiculously dumb. But then some new trailers were released, showcasing some other actors in the film. And then it had excellent reviews. And I was swayed into seeing it.

Baby is a get-away driver for heists put together by a man whose car he tried stealing one time. Due to an accident when he was a kid, he listens to music all the time to drown out the ringing in his ears. This leads to some funny scenes between him and the other people involved in the heists. It also leads to some fun moments during the heists, when Baby wants the music to key up with the action.

The performances are all a lot of fun in this movie; Kevin Spacey is clearly having a blast. Ansel Elgort, as Baby, might have been the weakest link. He has the least to work with, though, as he has to convey his sentiments through song and scant dialogue. However, his scenes with Lily James capture perfectly the beginning stages of interest in someone, the banter and flirtation.

I did get slightly annoyed at the reappearance of characters who clearly should have died or been seriously injured to the point of not walking. This is something that happens in a lot of movies, not just this one, so it's not a gripe specific to this movie. It seems to be used when a write/director has written the story into a corner and needs an out.

I liked that the film was original - it's not a sequel, or a remake of a television show, or a cog in a superhero franchise. It takes place in Atlanta! It's kind of quirky. It features a lead who barely talks (but rocks at sign language!). Even with all that, it didn't completely come together for me. I didn't love it, but I far from disliked it either; it's a fun experience and I'd recommend it to most people.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

One Year Homeiversary

One year ago today I signed papers making me a homeowner! It was fun and exciting and scary, and I had a hard time concentrating on work for the rest of the day! Even though I am holding the key to my home in this photo, I had an agreement with the current owners that they would have the weekend to move (since the closing date was pushed back it messed up their timeline with the home they were purchasing).

This piece stuck out to me:

Sometimes I wish there was someone else helping me with things around the house (and paying half the mortgage wouldn't be bad either!). I am not naturally handy with fixing things. I don't have power tools. I don't know much about planting or landscaping.

But whatever. Things are still going great. There are lots of things I would like to do, but this first consisted of some painting, putting frames on the wall, getting a lawnmower, and just maintaining it. I am saving up for a new kitchen, so that will be my project next summer!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy 67th Dad!

Today is my dad's 67th birthday! Here's a photo of him on his 52nd birthday - we celebrated in our backyard with a barbecue and croquet. Ivy is just over a year old.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Work in May and June

The past two months have been crazy at work. May was Bike Month and I (along with volunteers and help from fantastic people) put on Denton's first open streets event, CycloDia. It was a hot, sweaty, stressful, fun, crazy event. I'm glad it happened, but also glad when it was over. As always, it was a busy, fun month. 

June brought less fun items, but still items integral to my job. As I work to implement the Bike Plan of Denton, it sometimes means that on-street parking needs to be removed to facilitate a bike lane. This is generally always a fight, and I haven't yet come across this scenario in my career. Until now. 

My item went to City Council this Tuesday to get the ordinance to make the street No Parking so a bike lane could be installed. I gave a presentation that, frankly, I felt really good about (if you feel like it, you can watch it here and click on Agenda Item 5D). The item died when it failed to get a second. Then it was voted on to be postponed. 

It was a tough night. I put a lot of work, effort, energy, time and passion into this item. It's hard. But, I'll keep working and fighting for bike lanes. Every bike coordinator, bike advocate, person who bikes has to go through the parking-removal fight. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 2017

It has been at least four years since I have spent Father's Day with my dad. He's lived in Vegas, I've lived in Kansas and Texas. This, year, though, he is also in Texas for some work he is doing. He's in Bay City, which is south of Houston, so we aren't terribly close (one of Texas' claims to fame is that we state distance in hours since one could drive ten hours and still be in Texas). But we are close enough that if we each drive about three miles we can meet in the middle in Austin.

And that's just what we did today! I gave my dad a choice of three different places: tacos, tex-mex, or BBQ. He went with BBQ and we met at Black's BBQ near the UT campus on Guadalupe Street (GoogleMaps refers to it as Guada-loop Street). Our food was delicious and we had a good time talking to each other as he filled me in on his work and me on my work.

We then headed over to the LBG Presidential Library. LBG was president during my dad's early teen years (born in '50, President from '63 to '68). LBG was born in a small Texas town and his first job out of college was as a teacher in a small town. He came from a family of politicians and was a life-long one himself. He was known to get close to people when he talked, sometimes pointing his finger in their face.

There is a 7/8 replica of the Oval Office during his time as President. Unlike at the George W. Bush Library, it was sectioned off so all one can do is look. There was also a replica of Lady Bird Johnson's office when she was First Lady.

We had a nice time and it was great to see my dad. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Those Front Flowers

A few months ago I got semi-ambitious and planted some flowers in my front hanging-beds. I had grand visions of them looking perfect and fantastic. Here's what they started out as:

Left side

Right side

Left side

Right side

Here they are a couple months ago, starting to wilt:
Left side

Right side

And here is how they look now: 
Left side

Right side

The cyclamen did not last long. I'm not sure if they needed more water, less sunlight, or a mixture of those. Or maybe they just don't last long, aren't Texas natives. I won't be planting them again. 

The oxalis is very robust! The one on the left side of the house wilted away at one point. I have some of these on the side of my home that doesn't get any sun and they grow with no problem. I think these ones, being more exposed to direct sunlight than the ones on the right side, couldn't handle it. However, they are resilient because just last week I noticed them starting to come back! They aren't as big and bushy as the other side, but I'm very impressed that they came back from near extinction.

The begonia, sturdy Texas natives, must have a short blooming period. They aren't wilted or anything, but they are no longer blooming. I'll see what happens with them next year.

Meanwhile, I'd love to plant oxalis everywhere! I'll have to start planning out my front yard at some point.

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