Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It’s My Birthday!

I did a ton of walking Monday and the irony is not lost on me that I’m sitting here with my feet hurting at the end of my 29th year after how fast paced and full this past year has been. The official countdown to the big 3-0 officially starts today. While some people make a 30 before 30 list on days like today…I have different goal…just relax and enjoy life. I plan on really enjoying this last year of my twenties. I’ve come to realize that I spent a good amount of the past decade doing a lot of worrying…either about long or short term goals, about what the future holds, about grades or various social situations, if things in general will stay the same or how much time will it take for things to change. This year was a whirlwind that took me on a crazy ride. It showed me that goals will come and go or even completely change before they are ever reached and that is alright. It showed me that even if things have stayed the same for a long time…it doesn’t mean they aren’t about to change suddenly. That you can’t plan for everything. And that making a 30 before 30 list will only give me more to worry about :).

This year I’m embracing a wonderful change of pace that life has brought my way…after being in what seemed like cruise control for some time…and I am going to just relax a enjoy the ride.

Three years ago I started the tradition of asking myself a few annual questions on my birthday as sort of a reflection of the past year and thinking about what I’d like to make of the coming year. I thought it was a good exercise so I want to keep it up!

Age?
29

Location?
Alexandria, VA

What are some of the highlights of the past year?

  • Making a bunch of new friends playing skee ball!
  • Finally upgrading my old laptop.
  • An awesome and unexpected vacation to China!
  • Attending my first Jewish wedding!
  • Getting back to playing soccer after 10 years!
  • Tubing on a beautiful day in Harper’s Ferry
  • Exploring Shenandoah National Park!
  • Enjoying my first Redskins game in person as a fan! In a suite!
  • Surviving Government Shutdown

What life lessons have you learned this past year?

  • See post intro :).
  • Things happen when you least expect it. I had learned this in life before…but it could not have been more true for a lot of tings that happened this past year. Between my trip to China, my new group of friends from skee ball, and various other new things that came my way this year ;-)…life enjoyed teaching me this lesson once again.
  • Like I mentioned before sometimes goals morph or change or go away before you get the chance to complete them….and that is perfectly alright…
  • I am more able to let go of original expectations for situations/plans than I used to give myself credit for. Not that I was over “planny”…but sometimes I used to have to put more effort into keeping my hopes “down” so as not to be disappointed. Either I have been better at letting expectations go, or I have had more realistic expectations…but either way…I have been way more relaxed when things don’t go the way I thought they would.

Did you accomplish your goals from last year?

Referencing what I said in the intro to this post…I will just go ahead and say that my year was so crazy I basically stopped thinking about these goals…and ya know what…I’m ok with that….let’s see what I originally thought I would achieve…

  • Keep working on staying in better touch with old friends. (Sure…a bit…but this could always use some work)
  • Keep working on my weight loss goal #1. (That would be a negative)
  • Sign up for at least 2 5ks next year. Consider a 10k (this is a “stretch goal”). (I did one 5k….thought about the 10k but lost track of training…MAYBE next year).
  • Go on at least 5 bike rides this coming spring. (Went on at least 2…have to get back into biking next season).
  • Work more on Milo jogging with the bike. He was introduced to it this fall and did really well. Hopefully we can work some more when it gets warm again! (Negative)
  • Attain goal #1 in my savings account. Based on my current track I should get there in plenty of time for my next birthday…but you never know what is going to happen in the year! (Yes!)

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

Last year I made the statement in this section…“Other than those things above I think it is actually going to be a pretty low key year…” I couldn’t have been more wrong haha. This coming year seems like it will be full of more weddings and trips that I’m excited about so I hope I’m not wrong in the other direction this time haha.

  • A fun 30th Anniversary Dinner for my parents with my immediate family :).
  • A New Years vacation to the Outer Banks.
  • Another THREE weddings! And TWO new babies! (And all the showers and parties and travel that come along with those things!)
  • The Winter Olympics! (CURLING!!!)

What do you want to change about your life/yourself in the next year?

I honestly hesitate to give myself goals for this year. Like I said I really want to just enjoy what life has in store for me this year. But I will choose a few things…and I will keep the pressure to live up to them relatively low.

  • Blog more. (This birthday post is a good start!)
  • Make progress with my savings, student loan, and exercise goals.

How are you celebrating your birthday this year?

It’s a skee ball night! I will be celebrating with hopefully a win at skee ball and good friends! It will be a laid back and fun night!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Laura Loves {April 2013}

April has been jam packed for me. I think I have officially over-committed myself. First softball started up and since most of the games in the spring fell on Wednesday I decided to re-join my Tuesday night Skee Ball team. Then there was a deal to join a Thursday night bocce league so I figured…I like bocce…my Thursdays are open…why not? And then I learned that a local adult soccer league happens to play on Monday nights. Well wouldn’t ya know Mondays are open too! I have been meaning to get back into soccer…it’s a sign!

So my weekly schedule for the next month or two is a bit tight…which leaves little time for blogging (and getting the second half of my China pictures posted!) But I’m here JUST in the nick of time for Laura Loves!

Ellen meets Ellen
One of my new favorite SNL cast members is Kate McKinnon. She has been on the show for just about a year now and I think she is a great fit. One of my favorite things she does on SNL is her impersonation of Ellen. Well Ellen had her on the show the other day (for an interview first but then out in character) and here is how it went. Enjoy!

Little Love Stories
A few weeks ago a favorite blog of mine linked to this page of 60 short little love stories and I thought they were so cute I had to share. Here is the link! I dare you not to smile!

Duo Flame
A few weeks ago I came across this video on Facebook. These two dancers from Ukraine (known as Duo Flame?) have some seriously impressive acrobatic moves and tricks. Even though it is apparent this video is made in a few takes, their stunts are crazy! Yea yea….I know her dance shorts could be a bit longer…but this routine was too good not to share!

Dove – Real Beauty Sketches
I thought this piece by Dove was really interesting. They had a professional sketch artist do two drawings of one individual they couldn’t see. The first sketch is the person describing themselves. The second is another person describing them to the artist. The results of the two sketches really tell you something about self perception. I also really like that Dove incorporates this type of thing in their advertising and brand.

Creepy Things Kids Say
To end on a humorous but also creepy note, my friend Brenna shared this link on Facebook that I thought was really funny and interesting at the same time. This is a reddit thread of the creepiest things parents have heard their kids say. Here is the link! Just crazy dreams? Do they just have big imaginations? Super coincidences? I had so many questions after reading this!

That’s all I have for April!

Yay! It’s May! Summer is just around the corner! Smile

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Laura Loves {March 2013 – China Edition}

Considering I spent almost half of March in China…this post has a bit of a theme!

Chinatour.com

The tour company we found our trip to China through was Chinatour.com. Honestly the deal we got was incredible. The tour guides were fantastic, the hotels were wonderful, the food was really good, and the itinerary was packed! We had a great time and felt like we got soooo much for our money! If you ever see a great deal through Chinatour.com I would recommend them!

Beijing

We stopped at Olympic Park, saw the Pandas, The Summer Palace, The Houtong, The Forbidden City, and The Great Wall!

DSC_0019

DSC_0126

 DSC_0135

Xi’an

We got to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and check out the city wall and night life in center city Xi’an!

DSC_0177

 DSC_0079 

Suzhou

We saw beautiful gardens, had a boat ride on one of the many stretches of canals and local markets, and saw the inner workings of a silk factory!

DSC_0064

DSC_0237

Hangzhou

We took a boat ride on the West Lake and saw the beautiful green tea farms!

DSC_0033

DSC_0183

Shanghai

Stopped at the Shanghai Museum, old China Town, walked along the Bund and East Nanjing Road, took a ferry on the river, and saw the lights of Shanghai from above at the SWFC Observatory!

DSC_0293

DSC_0097

 DSC_0132

 DSC_0161

Saturday, March 9, 2013

An Unexpected Adventure!

Guys…I’ve been holding back on some big news. Many of you might remember my birthday post where I mentioned that I thought the upcoming year would be pretty relaxed with no personal big news/events. Well I could not have been more wrong. Let’s just say 2013 has started off with an unexpected bang! On Monday…yes the day after tomorrow…a friend and I will be on this plane…

IMG_20130304_235134

TO CHINA!

About a month ago, my friend came across an awesome deal on a two week tour of Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai (and some smaller cities in the Shanghai area). I haven’t indulged my inner travel addict in quite some time and this deal was just too good to pass up…so we went for it! My last day of work was Friday so I am officially on vacation! My first day spent packing and and doing some final prep!

Milo will be enjoying a nice two week trip to his vacation home in New Jersey!

I am not sure if I will be able to update the blog (both with how busy the itinerary will be or what kind of internet connections I will have access to) but I will try to if I can! I’m very excited to get a new stamp in the passport and experience a totally different part of the world.

Ok and I’m also kind of excited that our flight path goes north near the North Pole…it will be dark…but kind of fun to say we didn’t simply fly east or west!

I will try to update soon!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Laura Loves {February 2013}

It is the end of February and this month has been crazy. Between work, movies, and new toys (see below)…this month has been quite a whirlwind! But I found a few things that I really love this month! Let’s get right to it!

Jennifer Lawrence – Post Oscar Interview

I loved watching the Oscars this past weekend at the end of my “Mission Oscar Snob.” The show was pretty good this year…although the jokes they made about Tina & Amy being the best hosts were true…they are pretty awesome…there were a lot of musical numbers which I actually liked…but I could understand why some people would think it was too much. But I think one of my favorite things about the Oscars was Jennifer Lawrence at her post show press conference! A lot of people have been watching a chopped up summary version of the interview but CNN has the whole thing without cutting and I think it is much better! She is just so funny and down to earth an I hope that the industry doesn’t ever take that away from her!

Would You Rather

I came across this website via (Smart Pretty & Awkward) and it is just a fun way to waste a few minutes on the web…endless “Would You Rather” questions which also show you what percentage of people agree with your choice! Enjoy by yourself or with friends!

Should is a Dirty Word

Michelle Akin is a YouTube personality that used to publish videos with one of my absolute favorite vloggers (Grace). She also used to do more comedy and singing (she has a really great voice) but has transitioned into life coaching. I found her video about how “Should is a Dirty Word” really interesting. A good way to examine the way we talk to ourselves sometimes. I really liked the video so I thought I’d share!

Skateboarding Bulldog

This is apparently a month of videos I love because I have one more for you! I think it is pretty widely known that English Bulldogs have a tendency to enjoy board sports like surfing and skateboarding…but this particular bulldog does it better than any I’ve seen...well the skateboarding at least (at the end of the video)…if you just want to see his impressive skateboarding skills…jump to 1:27….but I think the entire video is entertaining! Thanks to Jacki for finding this one!

Surface Pro

I saved the best for last! Big news this month everyone! Remember that old beat up, loud, overheated, and falling apart laptop in this post??? Well I finally replaced it! I had been waiting for the Surface Pro to come out to replace my laptop before Microsoft even developed it. I think it was over 2 years ago when I was telling my sister that I won’t replace my laptop with a tablet until they make a tablet that will run a full operating system that is touch friendly. I didn’t want a tablet that was application based…I wanted to be able to run old programs on it but have it be a bit more mobile and have the ability to use it as both a laptop and a tablet. All the way back in June, Microsoft introduced the Surface that would come out that fall and winter…and I really thought they might have read my mind! I started saving my pennies…and when the full Windows 8 Surface Pro came out earlier this month, I made my move…and I’m sooooo glad I did! Here she is!

DSC_0046

I really can’t explain how much I love this thing. It is really everything I was imagining a few years ago (and sometimes more). I can understand why some have criticized it and how it might not be the best choice for everyone…you make compromises on both ends when you are trying to merge laptop and tablet. But to be honest, based on what I knew I wanted as far back as a few years ago, those compromises actually really work well for me. The touch cover is a great keyboard and cover. The pen is actually really awesome and the handwriting recognition is amazing. It also makes navigating around the desktop on a smaller screen much easier too. I can switch between playing with apps to using a traditional desktop in a second just like I had always imagined. Even though it is a bit heavier than other tablets, I don’t need to worry about holding it too long in my lap or when I’m laying in bed because of the kickstand (sometimes working with the flipped back touch cover for stability). But even at 2 pounds it is still a lot lighter than any ultra book convertible with a full keyboard on the market right now. The battery life isn’t as good as most app driven tablets, but with a Intel processor for running full Windows, it actually is really great compared to any laptop I have ever come across. This evening I was able to get 5 hours of use off the wall, using it for most of that time. But if I put it to sleep for a while (I even did this for a whole day of work to test it) it wakes up fast, with everything I was running still saved, and hasn’t lost any noticeable battery. I really think this could get through a whole day of casual use off the wall if sleep is utilized.

Anyway…like I was saying…these compromises work well for me to have a much faster, more mobile, and flexible device. I could say so much more but I am sure I’ve written too much already! Like I said I can see why the Surface wouldn’t be for everyone…but for someone who was waiting for this exact type of combo like me…I am VERY pleased :).

PS – I have written my last 3 blog posts on it…on my lap in the living room! To be fair…I have a lap desk that I always used to use with my laptop (because of it getting so hot) and this thing has a smaller footprint than the laptop so it works really well on there. But I have comfortably used it just on my lap before with the keyboard if I need to type something casually.

PPS – Unlike in the picture above I have rarely used it on my desk besides tonight while I’m monitoring something big running on my desktop…I feel like the picture of it on my desk in front of another computer seems a bit silly haha!

That is all I have for Laura Loves this month! I’ll be back with more at the end of March!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

And the Winner Will Be…..Oscar Predictions

It is Oscar Sunday everyone! Even though I haven’t written a review post of my last 4 movies, I managed to watch 20 of 25 movies on the EW list and 23 of 30 movies including my personal additions. These included all the nominees on the EW list with the exception of 1 (keep in mind 7 out of the EW 25 didn’t get any nominations). In fact, in each of the categories listed below, I saw ALL nominated films…except for animated feature (only saw 3 of 5 there). I think despite my crazy schedule in February I did pretty well this year! So let’s get to some predictions!

Best Actor

  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Misèrables)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • Denzel Washington (Flight)

Who Should Win: I was completely amazed at how Daniel Day-Lewis transformed into our 16th President in Lincoln. So I really think he should win this category.

Who Will Win: I have a feeling the Academy will agree with me and hand the Oscar to Daniel.

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
  • Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  • Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Who Should Win: I honestly have a really hard time choosing in this category. I think everyone was really great…and I will be happy if any of these ladies won. But honestly I think I’d have to personally pick Emmanuelle Riva. I think her transformation from well and alert to partially paralyzed to unable to communicate while still trying to show emotion was amazing.

Who Will Win: I think Jennifer Lawrence has the momentum to win this year. She won the last two big award shows. I think she will take the Oscar home too.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Alan Arkin (Argo)
  • Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  • Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Who Should Win: This is a tough one too…but I think I have to go with Christoph Waltz. I really enjoyed his performance in Django. If not Waltz, then I think De Niro should get the award this year..

Who Will Win: I am not sure who is going to win here…but Christoph Waltz got the golden globe so I’m going to predict he will take the Oscar as well.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (The Master)
  • Sally Field (Lincoln)
  • Anne Hathaway (Les Misèrables)
  • Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
  • Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Who Should Win: All these ladies were really wonderful in their roles, but Anne Hathaway blew me away. I think she should win...

Who Will Win:and I think she will.

Writing: Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook

Who Should Win: The top two here for me would be Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook. I haven’t read either book but I have heard that Life of Pi was considered pretty difficult to make into a movie and as a viewer I think they told the story well. But I also really enjoyed the plot in Silver Linings Playbook…I guess if I had to pick, I’d have to say Life of Pi just because of how successful the difficult story was told in film…

Who Will Win: I have a feeling Silver Linings Playbook will actually win here.

Writing: Best Original Screenplay

  • Amour
  • Django Unchained
  • Flight
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Who Should Win: I actually really enjoyed the story in many of these films….but I think the best was Django Unchained.

Who Will Win: I think the Academy will agree with me here. I think Django Unchained will win the Oscar.

Best Directing

  • Michael Haneke (Amour)
  • Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  • Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
  • Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
  • David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Who Should Win: People seem really peeved that Ben Affleck was left out of this category (which is why Argo seems to have so much momentum right now for the big award…and he has won every other directing award since nominations). But I really think that Steven Spielberg should win this one.

Who Will Win: With not much to go on based on previous award shows…I’ll go with Steven Spielberg.

Best Animated Film

  • Brave
  • Frankenweenie
  • ParaNorman
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • Wreck-It Ralph

Who Should Win: I saw three of these films and I think I’d have to give this to Wreck-It Ralph. I thought the story was cute and the plot was interesting. It had a nice message and I think it was overall just a really great animated feature.

Who Will Win: I think Wreck-It Ralph has a chance here but it is hard to beat Pixar….I think Brave might take it.

Best Picture

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Who Should Win: As someone who saw every one of these movies…and really liked a lot of them for different reasons…I think the OVERALL Best Picture of the year should go to Lincoln. I think it was all around the best film.

Who Will Win: Argo has the most momentum going in tonight. I think it will win. 

Well those are my official predictions! I think overall a lot of these are tight races! There could be a lot of surprises tonight! If you want to make your own predictions you can do so {here}. And if you need some help…Nate Silver (famous New York Times statistician for correctly predicting most states in the Presidential Election) used some stats to predict the Oscar winners! You can find his picks {here}! Enjoy! I will probably be tweeting a bit during the Oscars tonight! Follow me {here}! And enjoy the show!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Shorts

I went to see the Live Action and Animated Oscar Nominated Short Films again this year. Overall I enjoyed the shorts more last year, but I still think they are two fun showcases to see. I wrote last year how short films tend to have a surprise or punch line…I didn’t see that as much in this years collection. The live action tended to be way more serious. I think the quick plot twists or the punch line of a short film is really what I enjoyed the most last year. I hope that there is more of that in next year’s collection. Instead of reviewing these films I’ll just give a brief overview of the plot and then do similar superlatives like last year.

Best Short Film: Animated

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”- Maggie Simpson gets dropped off at daycare and tries to help a butterfly escape the grasp of another over zealous todler.

Adam and Dog – The story of mans best friend from a creationist viewpoint.

Head Over Heels – An older couple lives in a house together with opposite gravitational pulls. Even though they are together all the time it can seem they are living in different worlds and it can be hard for them to connect without putting in the effort.

Fresh Guacamole – A cute two minute stop motion animation about making guac…using objects instead of actual food…

Paperman – A man tries to get the attention of a pretty girl using paper airplanes across buildings…when they fail to get her attention…the paper won’t let him give up!

Most Adult Themed
 Head Over Heels
Most Kid Friendly (TIE)
 Longest Daycare / Paperman
Most Abstract (TIE)
 Fresh Guacamole / Head Over Heels
Funniest
 Longest Daycare
Cutest
Paperman
Most Original
Fresh Guacamole
Personal Favorite
 Paperman
Oscar Prediction
Paperman

Best Short Film: Live Action

Asad – A coming of age story about a boy in Somalia trying to become a good man like the wise fisherman while dealing with violence in his own town.

Death of a Shadow – A man is trapped in limbo assigned to capture images of shadows as people die. After he has taken 1000 images he has a chance to go back life…but should he?

Curfew – As a last resort, a severely depressed man is called in to watch his niece after school…with very strict rules to follow.

Henry – An older man deals with the terrible confusion of Alzheimer's while remembering his beautiful wife and their life together.

Buzkashi Boys – Two boys in Afghanistan have big dreams of becoming Buzkashi riders (a horse sport in Afghanistan) despite their seemingly depressingly predictable fates.

Most Serious  All
Most Kid Friendly  None
Funniest  Curfew
Most Abstract  Henry
Most Creative  Death of a Shadow
My Favorite  Curfew
Oscar Prediction Buzkashi Boys

Did you go see the short films this year? What did you think? I liked them but I definitely enjoyed last year’s nominees more (particularly in the Live Action category). But I’m still excited to see who will take home the big prize on Sunday! Stay tuned for more movie posts before then!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brave Franken Beasts of the Django Flight to Argo

Some might think these mashed up movie blog titles are silly but I get a kick out of trying to make some sort of sentence(ish) out of mashing titles together haha! But there were a lot of movies to get into that title so lets get reviewing! 

{Source: Warner Brothers}

I finally managed to see Argo the other day. I had a feeling I would need to see this movie when it was first out in theaters but because it wasn’t my typical taste in movies I decided to see if it really would be part of the mission…and it was. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to catch it in time but a few theaters brought it back out for the Oscars. I expected to feel confused by the film but I actually found it really interesting. It was really an amazing CIA mission to get a group of Americans out of Iran. Even though the movie they were pretend creating seemed a bit silly, the movie did a great job of communicating how stressful and nerve wracking of a mission it really was. This movie seems to be gaining a lot of momentum in the best picture race because many people feel Ben Afleck was snubbed for a best director nomination. While I agree that I think he may have been snubbed…and I really enjoyed the film…I don’t think this would be my pick for best picture. It gets 4 stars from me. StarStarStarStar

“Flight” movie poster

{Source: Paramount}

A friend and I watched Flight the other week. This film about an alcoholic pilot who makes a miracle landing of a faulty aircraft is really interesting. I like when stories or movies try to get you to explore a gray area of life. Here you have a pilot with a clear problem…but if he hadn’t been the one flying the plane…the whole plane would have died. It gives you something to think about and tries to convey how hard of a struggle addiction really is. I think Denzel had good moments in this film but I don’t think he should win for best actor over Daniel Day Lewis. I liked the film though and would recommend it. It gets 4 stars from me. StarStarStarStar

Django-Unchained-Poster

{Source: http://unchainedmovie.com/}

I had been avoiding the movie Django Unchained for almost the entire mission. I just tend to dislike Quentin Tarantino’s style of movies and I had heard this was pretty violent. I have to say Django surprised me. It WAS very violent and there were a LOT of cartoony bloody scenes…but I really enjoyed the story. It was kind of a cool story of a bounty hunter who buys freedom for a slave (Django) in exchange for help in finding some wanted men. The bounty hunter eventually returns the favor by trying to help Django free his wife. I think as a film overall I wouldn’t call it best picture, but I can understand why it won for its screenplay at the golden globes. And Christoph Waltz was really good in the film. I could see why he was nominated for his supporting role. Leonardo was actually really good as well. I think if there were room in the category he would have also been nominated. I liked Django way more than I thought I would. It gets 4 stars from me. StarStarStarStar

{Source: Disney Pixar}

I was really excited that last summer’s Pixar movie Brave was nominated for best animated picture so I could add it to the list. But I have to admit I think my expectations for Brave might have been a little too high. It was a really cute story. I did like it. But there was some slap sticky comic relief that I felt like it could have done without (not saying that stuff isn’t funny at times but sometimes it feels like it doesn’t fit in the feel of a movie). There were a few small inconsistencies that feel picky to even say out loud. But really it was a nice story with pretty animation. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed Wreck it Ralph (which really surprises me) or How to Train Your Dragon from a few years back. It gets 3 stars from me. StarStarStar

beats-of-the-southern-wild-movie-poster

{Source: Fox Searchlight}

I was interested in seeing Beasts of the Southern Wild because of how much praise young star Quvenzhané Wallis was getting for her staring role. This film follows a little girl in Louisiana (I think) who survives a big flood on the wrong side of some levees in a community called with her father and some other locals. Its hard for me to say if this film was a nod to Hurricane Katrina because it was a bit abstract. She keeps talking in her narration about beasts staying together and being strong and how the world has to all fit together just right. It was all sort of from her perspective. I thought that concept was cute and I really thought she was great and cute in the film. But I don’t know that I really liked the movie. It was a little too abstract for me. It will be cool to see if she wins best actress but I don’t think she will get it based on the others in the category. But I don’t know that I really liked the movie. It was a little too abstract for me. It gets 2 stars from me. StarStar

Frankenweenie movie poster

{Source: Disney}

Frankenweenie is a Tim Burton animated feature about a little boy who loves science and wants to bring his dead dog back to life. The story is cute I suppose but this movie didn’t really do it for me. I know many won’t agree with me but Tim Burton animation is a bit too dreary for me. It is in black and white and all the characters look like zombies or ghosts. I didn’t really think there were any exciting or unexpected twists in the plot. I don’t know…I just think it wasn’t for me. I give it 2 stars. StarStar

I went to go see the short films recently too! I have to write about those in another post…and soon…the Oscars are this coming Sunday! Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Laura Loves {January 2013}

I don’t know about you…but 2013 has hit the ground running! If you look back at my birthday post, I wasn’t exactly planning for anything crazy in 2013. But January happened and as it turns out…I’m thinking this could be a pretty unexpectedly awesome year. I will be elaborating soon…but one of the fun new activities that I happened upon in January was…

Skeeball!
A friend and I decided to join a local weeknight Skeeball league and it has been a BLAST! I never considered myself all that great at skeeball (does anyone REALLY?) but I thought it would be fun to join a team and get to know some new people. I’ve had so much fun! Our team is friendly, there is a happy hour, not to mention skeeball, and even free shuffleboard between games! We have even won a few matches! It has really been a great way to relax after work!

Dogs Underwater
I have to credit my friend Sam with finding this collection of awesome photos. This photographer takes pictures of dogs reaching into water to grab a toy….from underwater! It makes for some great shots! I love them! (Link to the gallery below.)

Enjoy!

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love
My personal rap music (guru?), Avi, introduced me to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. More specifically, he introduced me to my current music addiction “Thrift Shop” which I would have put up on the blog if its hook (rap term!) wasn’t explicit. I try keep it clean around these parts. Although I must admit the explicitness is a lot of what makes this particular song so fun…I recommend it if you are looking for something amusing to listen to!

But Avi also showed me this great song by the same duo that speaks up for gay marriage and gay rights. The song is a bit slower but I think its really good and has some seriously powerful lyrics. I highly recommend it…video below!

“You’re The One That I Want” Cover
Keeping on the music theme…I happened upon this cute cover of “You’re The One That I Want” from Greese on my new favorite music blog This Is Our Jam. River St. James and Amy Patterson both have heavenly voices and the slower tempo of the song makes it so pretty! I love it…

Mary Kay Cream Eye Color
Sooooo I went to a Mary Kay party over the weekend…and I intended to stay strong and try to resist purchasing too much. I went in with my guard up…and honestly the last thing I expected to be doing was raving about one of the products on my blog…..but….well clearly that is what I’m doing…

Mary Kay

{Source: Mary Kay}

The consultant had us try out the Mary Kay Cream Eye Color in beach blonde and I love it! It is really quick and easy to apply, it stays on all day, and unlike most cream eye colors it doesn’t really go on thick so it doesn’t leave a crease of makeup in your crease. The best part about this color is that it is so subtle…that I don’t look like I’m wearing make-up…but I just have a nice shimmer on my eye. It wasn’t the cheapest…but I really do love it and already plan on buying more when I run out (which won’t be for awhile because you don’t use a lot at a time). Note that in the picture above the color looks kind of pink but its more skin tone (a bit more golden).

That’s all I have for Laura Loves this month! I’ll be back at the end of February (hopefully on a new device **fingers crossed**) with more!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zero Dark Silver Impossible Looper of Pi

Well…I’ve been busy movie watching! If you have been following the Mission Oscar Snob page above (or here) you might have noticed a few more movies crossed off the list! Here’s what I’ve been watching…


Image Credit: Fox 2000 Pictures
On a Saturday afternoon I decided to go catch Life of Pi. I had not read the book prior to seeing this movie so I wasn’t sure what to expect…well…besides that somehow…a boy gets stuck on a life boat with a Bengal tiger…and I’m sure there wasn’t a happy reason for that…I was right. This movie isn’t exactly happy go lucky. It has funny moments to break the tension, but there are some parts that are really sad (and sad to watch). I really liked the film though. The story is being narrated by the boy as an adult (so ***SPOILER ALERT** clearly he survives)…but I didn’t expect the moral of the story in the end…and I don’t want to ruin it but I think it was an interesting message. Definitely made me think.

I know (from reading about the film) that a lot of times the tiger was animated with CGI but I thought it was really outstanding. It was harder than I’ve ever experienced to tell when he was animated and when he was real. I think the effects of the movie were nice and there were some really beautiful scenes. I thought this was a good film and worth seeing. But don’t expect it to be happy go lucky…there are some hard moments to watch in this film. I don’t think this will win Best Picture but deserves recognition. It gets 4 stars from me. StarStarStarStar


Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

I went with a friend to check out Zero Dark Thirty the next day and all I had to say was…wow. I thought this film was really good. I was nervous (with it being almost 3 hours) that this film would lose my attention or maybe even be too violent for me. But I thought it did a great job telling a really interesting story. Were there hard to watch moments? Yes. Were there some moments where I lost track of a few names? Sure (but that usually happens to me). Were there some tense/startling moments? Absolutely. But honestly it wasn’t nearly as full of all of those things as I expected. I was actually fascinated in the story that was being told, especially with the lead that ultimately lead to finding and capturing Osama Bin Ladin. Jessica Chastain (nominated for best actress) was good but I don’t suspect she will win. And while I think the movie was great…I’m not sure it will wind up with best picture. But I highly recommend seeing this movie! 5 stars!
StarStarStarStarStar


Image Credit: The Weinstein Company

I went into Silver Linings Playbook knowing that some people thought it was the best movie they had seen all year, and some people were a bit disappointed with it. But those who were disappointed I think didn’t realize that this “romantic comedy” wasn’t exactly a comedy. I mean…there are funny moments…but really you are watching a man (and family) learning to live with bipolar disorder and his quest to find (and work for) the silver lining in his life. He has a plan…which is a little diverted when he meets Tiffany who has her own issues but is willing to help him reconnect with his wife. Honestly, going in knowing that this movie isn’t just total romcom really made me look for the other messages. I think I connected with this movie more than I expected to and I really enjoyed it. I think it deserves the recognition that it is getting (as do all the actors…it is nominated for all 4 acting categories). I think Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DiNero have the best chances of winning their categories for this film. Their performances were particularly great. Actually Bradley Cooper is really good as well…but I think other actors are more likely to win this year. I like the film and I enjoyed the story. I would recommend it…(not expecting a full blown romantic comedy!) It gets 4 stars from me! StarStarStarStar


Image Credit: Summit Entertainment (& Entertainment Weekly))

I caught a showing of The Impossible last weekend…and it was really really good. The movie tells the incredible true story of a family of 5 who was caught in the horrible tsunami of December 2004 and how they managed to find each other. The movie did an amazing job of really portraying how truly terrifying and devastating of an event this was. Obviously there were parts of this film that were hard to watch…but I really just found it moving overall. Naomi Watts was fabulous as was Ewan McGregor. The kids were really good as well. The oldest boy has the largest role…but the other boys did a great job as well. I really thought this was a wonderful movie. Naomi Watts deserves her nomination and really possibly the win here. (But I’m not sure she can pass Jennifer Lawrence’s momentum)…I thought this was a great movie. I want to give this one 4 and a half stars (but I don’t have a half star icon!)…so I’ll stick with 4…but know it is a HIGH 4! StarStarStarStar


Image Credit: TriStar Pictures

Looper managed to land on EW’s list but didn’t get any nominations this year. But to continue with the original mission to watch the movies on the list…I kept this one high on the Netflix queue. If you are unfamiliar, Looper is about a mob assassin who kills people the mob of the future sends back in time to him. Eventually he is assigned to “close his loop” by killing his future self…but his future self has other plans. I don’t tend to like shoot-em-up action movies but I found Looper interesting. I liked the sci-fi concept and thought they did well sticking within the rules of the world they set up. I don’t want to spoil it so I will just say I also thought the ending/resolution really worked for the film. I actually think it really could have been a contender for original screen play. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was made to look like a young Bruce Willis and I thought the make up work was really cool. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt a lot and it was weird he both looked like himself but so different at the same time. Maybe it could have been a contender for makeup as well. I won’t be making any predictions for it during the Oscars…but I enjoyed the film…3 stars! StarStarStar

That’s all I have for now! Don’t forget you can keep track of my Mission Oscar Snob progress between posts by clicking on the page link along the top of the blog! Have you seen any of these films? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!