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!

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