Sunday, February 18, 2018

Coco

After being released on Thanksgiving Day, I finally got around to seeing Coco today (because I was at the mall and walked by the dollar theater inside and decided I wanted to see a movie). I loved this film so much and I am actually kind of bummed that I didn't get to see on Thanksgiving (my friend Kevin Ann didn't want to see it, but I think she would have liked it). This just might be my favorite Pixar film (my favorite has always been A Bug's Life)!!

Coco follows the story of Miguel, a young boy living in Mexico with his family. All he wants to do is be a musician. However, due to his great-great abuelito abandoning his family to pursue his music, the family forbids any kind of music in the home. On Dia de Muertos, he gets transported to the Land of the Dead and meets up with family members. He goes on an adventure to find the greatest musician of all time, Ernesto de la Cruz, who he believes to be his great-great abuelito.

The movie has a great narrative "twist" that was so touching that tears came out of my eyes. I loved the message of remembering family members, and how that keeps them living in the Land of the Dead. I thought it was clever and smart to have those in the Land of the Dead going about life still, doing things; I like the idea of after death being a time when one is still "living". All they want is to be remembered by those in the Land of the Living.

At the end of the film, Miguel tells his baby sister that the photos of loved ones on the ofrenda aren't just photos - they're family members. All. The. Feels.

The film is so beautiful, not just emotionally but visually too. The colors are amazing and the world of the Land of the Dead is detailed and marvelous. If you haven't seen this movie yet get out and see it!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gary Allan at Winstar

I have wanted to see Gary Allan in concert for quite awhile. He played at Winstar last year in February but I just wasn't able to make it happen. This year I made it happen! I bought a ticket Friday afternoon for the Saturday show. I put on my most country outfit, which is a checkered shirt I bought eight years ago at an H&M in Las Vegas, black jeans and boots (not cowboy boots, mind you, boots from Target), and headed out in the cold weather.

I discovered Gary Allan years ago when I was still into country music. I heard "It Would Be You" and immediately loved it. I followed him over the years, and when he released the masterful sad song, "Songs About Rain," I couldn't get enough of it. I'm not a music junkie or aficionado, but I know that this song has a very interesting structure. It has several lines in the middle of the verse that build up to a crescendo in the middle. I love it. Listen to how he sings and the music is composed in the line, "Well I thought I was over you, looks like maybe I'm not."

What I like about Gary Allan is that he's not "pure" country - the dude's from Bakersfield, California. I think his record company tired to make him into country at the beginning, but as he became more popular he has been able to be true to himself (he even named one of his albums See if I Care).

It was a good concert, but I wasn't sure how it would end after, not even halfway into the show, he had already played "It Would Be You" AND "Songs About Rain." By the end, I realized his encore song would be "Right Where I Need to Be."

He still has an incredible voice, but there were times I felt like the instruments overpowered the songs themselves. I think most of his songs work better without the bombastic, over-produced-ness of a live show. I bet he sounds great at really small venues with just a guitar and few other instruments.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Three Billboards

Oscars noms were announced this week, bestowing Best Picture nominations to nine films. I have already seen seven of them, so that's good. The two remaining I have not been overly excited to see, but I crossed when off today - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Even though I have lots of other events and movies to blog about that I'm pretty far behind on, I'm going to write about Three Billboards.

I actively disliked this movie.

I didn't care for any of the characters. It all felt very actor-y to me; I could tell everyone was acting. And it bothered me. I couldn't help but compare it to last year's Manchester by the Sea, a somewhat-similar film that is sad and dark (albeit I think Three Billboards is supposed to be somewhat of a dark comedy) but that never felt like everyone was acting.

The film looks fantastic though. Where director Martin McDonagh fails at actor-performances he shines at staging a scene to look really fantastic. So while I didn't care for the story on screen, it sure was pretty to look at. And to listen to. The film has excellent music choices, particularly the opera choices.

I'd give this film a very hard pass, and I truly hope it doesn't win Best Picture. I like Frances McDormand, but I don't think her work compares to the brilliant, subtle work of Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water or even the frustratingly young character played by Saoirse Ronan in Ladybird Margo Robbie's brilliant turn as Tonya Harding. I'm actually surprised that Sam Rockwell has been singled out as the one to beat for the Supporting Actor race this year. His work felt hammy and over the top.

But all art is subjective.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Bike Czar No More

For the past three years I have been the bike czar for the City of Denton. It was a title bestowed upon me by the local newspaper when word of my hiring was sent out in a press release. The title, obviously, stuck and it has been a fun moniker to carry around with me.

My first month on the job, a local citizen set up a casual bike ride for me to meet the community. It was awesome! I met so many people, and while I felt a bit of pressure to do the best job I could I was also excited about all the amazing people in Denton. That is when my love for Denton began.

I have spent three years giving it my all as the bike czar - Bike Month activities, school presentations, City Council meetings, bike parking, bike rides, information tables at events. It's been great, but there have also been tough moments. It has been my honor and privilege to serve the people of Denton.

On Friday I will officially relinquish my title of Bike Czar to take on a new title at the City of Denton - Keep Denton Beautiful Program Manager. It is a very bittersweet moment, as I will miss the people I office next to, the people I have worked with, my boss, the people I have worked for to make a better Denton. But I am excited for this new opportunity.

Thanks everyone.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Word for 2018

Instead of making a New Year's resolution, my friend Pam chooses a word that will guide her year. I like this idea because I am not a goal-maker in general. I'm not a list maker either, and when I do make them in a moment of wild ambition I end up feeling bad that I never stick to it.

So this year I want to have a word, too. And my word is: 

CHANGE

This probably seems obvious. Isn't the whole point of making resolutions and goals and all that to change? Whether it is changing our body or our attitude or how we react or how we spend our free time, resolutions are all about change. 

But I want to embrace the change itself this year. Last year someone told me I had changed. And they didn't mean it in a good way. For months this bothered me. I clinged to the idea that I hadn't changed. Finally my friend Stephanie, after listening to me talk about it, told me these words that made me stop fretting: Of course you have changed - we all change and that's a good thing - living life and our experiences change us. 

And that's when I started appreciating the me that has changed. I'm not the same person I was last year, three years ago, ten years ago. Places I've lived and people I've met and experiences I've had have changed me. People that claim to have not changed either sadly haven't, or they are fooling themselves. I don't mean changing our personalities out of a desire to be accepted, or drastically changing who we are in appearance to attitude. I mean the small changes in our outlook, attitude, desires, world view that comes from the experiences we have.

Like a leaf that changes from a bud to a green leaf to a brown crisp to nothing and then back to a bud, change can be transformative. 

And this year I will embrace that. 


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Molly's Game

In the story about a woman who went from almost going to the Olympics for skiing to running a poker game for celebrities and other rich people to being arrested by the FBI, one can't go wrong with Jessica Chastain (it feels like she's been the "it" girl for awhile and, despite Oscar nominations, I feel like she still hasn't really broken through; maybe I'm wrong), Idris Elba and the directing-debut of master screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

The film, however, didn't entirely click with me. I love Sorkin as a screenwriter (The Social Network is one of my favorite films, Sports Night, The West Wing, A Few Good Men, The American President, Moneyball, Steve Jobs are all stellar), but I don't think he quite has what it takes (yet) to be a director. I feel like with a more experienced (or, better) director the film really would have popped. Instead, many of the scenes felt flat and some were staged awkwardly. The scene of one of the players lucking out into losing as one lucks into winning was truly suspenseful, and I give Sorkin props for that.

The actors are great (as Chastain and Elba always are) but, again, I feel that with a great director the performances could have really shined. Sorkin is great at dialogue, but I don't feel as if he knows how to coax his actors into delivering that dialogue in a truly great way.

The film also lost a little steam at the end, especially with Molly's father somehow randomly knowing she'd be at an ice-skating rink in NYC at night. It was laughable and I lost interest in their conversation pretty fast.

If you're a fan of of Sorkin, Chastain or Elba give this one a chance. Even if you're not, I'd still recommend the film even though it didn't entirely live up to it's potential. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NYE 2018

Last year a tradition was started when two friends both had mobility-impairing ailments and couldn't go out for NYE - hang out at home in your pajamas! Even though no one was impaired this year, we liked the idea so much that we did it again this year.

Sarah and Beau Lollar hosted at their home again. Not everyone wore their pajamas, but I did and it was wonderful being so comfortable all night long. We talked and laughed and played games. When midnight came we all toasted and blew noisemakers.

It was a cold, cold night and I was glad to get home to my somewhat-warm home and cuddle up with my cats.




 

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