Saturday, December 28, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Only a Few Days Left

I can't believe we are already at the end of 2013. Literally, days away from the new year. I hit my movie mark for this challenge many blog posts ago, and had given up on the book part at about the same time. Even without reading the 50 books necessary to be a true challenge winner, I'm pretty proud of my effort. 

I went on a movie blitz last week and saw five new movies in six days. You can my movie reviews from the past year here: http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-san-diego/courtney-hartmann

#73: August: Osage County 
#74: The Wolf of Wall Street
#75: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
#76: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
#78: American Hustle

I also finished another book that I enjoyed mostly...until the end. The kind of irked me. I felt it was a cop out to the story, but I think Lionel Shriver is a good, if not overly wordy, writer. The book covers the topic of obesity and weight loss, a craze in America today. It seems more like a passing fad or a commercialized market rather than a serious issue about health. The book is also about family and the sacrifices we make and the kind of obsessions we take over throughout our lives, and how we maintain control among chaos. If you've read it, I'd love to hear what you thought about the end. 

#26: Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Short 50/50 Challenge Update

I definitely am not going to make it to 50; however, I have made it to 25 books and I think that's pretty damn good!  I won't be too hard on myself seeing as trying to achieve the book part of this challenge essentially means reading a book a week.

I might make it to #26 by the end of the year and will definitely make it to 75 movies. What a great year it's been for reading and film.

And still I have so many movies I want to see and books I want to read.


Book #25: The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls
Movie #72: Lone Survivor (review to come in January) 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Queen Lorde

Sooo...that song "Royals" came out and I thought, oh hey, I like this. And then it got played over and over and over again. Then I was flipping through stations while driving in my car and came across "Team" (I think 91X played it first) and fell in love. I added her Pandora channel and fell in love with the whole album, came full circle, and can stand to hear "Royals" again.

I think her sound is original; her lyrics poetic. Oh, and she is a freakin' teenager! It's no secret. I'm obsessed. Her new video is out: NEW VIDEO! 'Team' by Lorde | Kade - for you to become a fan, too.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend

Countdown to Christmas!
Four days off. Four days off! I am winding down four glorious days off. You know those people who can't relax or "shut off"? Yeah, I'm not like that. Unless I am passionate about a project or have an investment in something, my mind is only tuned in for as long as is necessary. The whole point of a break or vacation is not to muddle your mind that you need the break or vacation from. 

I didn't do anything monumental for the holiday or the break, but relaxing, reading, cleaning, sleeping in -- all those things feel like luxuries. My days are filled every hour. My weekends usually left for the errands I didn't do during the week. Even sleeping until 8 a.m. seems like bliss versus the 6 o'clock double-snooze alarm I get daily.

It's easier heading back to work knowing that at the end of the week, I get to take another break/vacation. Then, back to work for a week and then off for Christmas. December is going to fly by with fun and for that I am thankful. 

Thanksgiving itself didn't bring a lot of hoopla around it this year for me. It was nice and I felt thankful, but it's the fact that this year, 2013, is almost over! Every year I feel I say it, the year goes by so fast. This year has zoomed by and yet, so much has been packed in, so much has changed.

Are you the kind of person that can feel changes happen to you? I am. Honestly, there are times during a day where I will stop in the middle of what I'm doing because all of a sudden my senses are heightened, my adrenaline is going, and I know it's because something is in the process of changing for me. It sounds hokey, but it's true. 

I am an optimist so all those "feelings" I get, I feel it is a promise for something better that I've been working towards or asking for. Patience is such a hard lesson to learn, so when I finally feel the shift, it's pretty spectacular.

It's strange because they say life is short, but it feels long. Life feels long, but the days feel short. 

Randoms: 

1. Bath and Body Works had a sale on candles - 2 for $22 which is quite the deal considering they are usually $18 each. The Winter one smells fresh and not quite winter-ish, but lovely nonetheless. The cheery sales girl tried to convince me that the Cranberry body cream is a similar scent to my beloved, discontinued Brown Sugar and Fig. It is not. She was so perky about it though, how could I say no to her asking me to sniff for myself?

2. Paul Walker died. If you haven't noticed from every social media portal that I am on, I was a fan of his. I'm not a fool into thinking he was worthy of Oscar gold, but he was on my Top 5 list. THAT list.

3. People are not assholes. This may come as a surprise, kind of did to me, but people on the whole are not assholes. It is those select few that ruin it for everyone and cause me to become cynical for a few days. They are usually in front of me in traffic, bumping into me in line, slamming a door in my face. Maybe it's the holidays getting everyone into the cheery spirit.

4. I miss Garth Brooks. I just watched his Live in Las Vegas special recorded on my DVR and hello, talk about a flashback to grade school and junior high when all I had to listen to was country music. 

5. I keep dreaming about whales and waves. They are not harming me or threatening. I duck them every time. I have not been eating anything out of the ordinary before bed. Who knows what it means to dream about whales and waves? I'm not under distress. So weird.

50/50 Challenge Update (last month!): Book #24 - The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. This was a crazy one. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I will not be reading 50 books by the end of 2013. In that same failing respect, I did not complete NaNoWriMo. I started and I wrote my ass off all month...but a book it did not become. And that's ok. I'm not one to force my writing. It misses the whole point. If I were a real writer, I'd have discipline. If I were a real writer, I'd have a book written by now. If I were a real writer, I would not set myself up to fail. I am a real writer. I write. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weight Watchers

For real though (Pinterest)
With the holidays coming up, I guess it is normal to hear about the different diets people are on and how they hope to "be good" over the holidays. To me, food is part of the holidays, why would you want to limit it?

There are too many diets. There is always a switch of what is good for you and what isn't. Then there are the people who diet during the week only to gorge on the weekends thinking that's somehow healthy.

The worst is those who lament over what they've eaten as if it's destroyed their life. If you are so worried about the weight that eating a donut is going to make you gain...don't eat the donut. Otherwise, enjoy the pastry and move on with your life.

The majority of people like to say they are dieting for their health when really it's for vanity reason and shame those not dieting for how many calories they consume a day. For me, I can tell when I feel heavy or sluggish and I will cut things out of my diet for awhile. 

If I made a real effort, I probably could lose the five or ten pounds that I could stand to let go, but I enjoy eating too much. If I'm eating poorly one week, I will make a conscious effort the next to cut it out. But when did everyone become so hyper-sensitive to food?

I plan to embrace the holidays, all of it, even the food. Especially the food! I'm over the weight obsession. Just be healthy and happy and move on to more important things in life.

Off my soapbox now.

50/50 Challenge Update: Movie #71: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire -- Book #23: Family Pictures by Jane Green (an easy read if you're going to be traveling). Also, I actually received The Dinner in the mail for free from Random House, so I probably will make an effort to finish it now.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Praying on Sunday

I've been doing a lot of praying lately. Actually, it's been going for awhile now I feel. I was baptized and confirmed Catholic, but I don't go to church. I don't like the routine of it. Big shocker, I know. But even when I went for my friend's wedding, they had a mass and the words have changed. The responses that I had grown up with repeating every Sunday are now different and it's like, but for what purpose?

So far the new Pope seems pretty cool and creating real dialogue within the Catholic community that isn't constantly surrounded by negativity, but other than that when it comes to church I have realized, it's just not for me. Don't get me wrong though I do have faith and I definitely believe in God. More importantly, I believe in asking God for things.

Now I know what you're thinking. Oh, you're the kind of girl that just talks to God when you need something. Untrue, my friend. But if there is one thing about God, it's knowing that it's okay to ask for things, that is what you're supposed to do. Ask for things without guilt. I pray for guidance every night. It's the number one thing I ask for. I thank God every morning for a new day. That routine of prayer is more comforting for me than Mass ever was. I actually had a dream God sent me a rainbow last night. Sounds hokey, but if you focus your energy in that way you'd be surprised at the little things you start to notice.

I am more specific now when I ask God for things. I don't ask often but when I do I get exactly what I want. It's not always right away but I can always feel when the time is right to ask. Since it has been proven to work on more than one occasion I think that's what's helped my faith become stronger. 

This really isn't a rally cry for church or religion or even God for that matter, but it is Sunday. It's a good day to reflect on the week behind and the week ahead. I have a lot to be thankful for and I like to give credit where credit is due.

50/50 Challenge Update: Movie #66: The Usual Suspects; Movie #67: Thor; Movie #68: The Dallas Buyers Club; Movie #69: The Best Man Holiday; Movie #70: Herblock -- Book #22: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister; Book #22 1/2: The Dinner by Herman Koch (for the "it" book of the moment, it got rather dull for me, had to quit)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Guilt-Free Relaxing

This one seems to have the right idea.
My day went like this: wake up, have Starbucks brought to me, eat Jack-in-the-Box tacos, watch "Morning Glory," take nap, eat Chinese takeout, do laundry, write. Hope your day was as rough as mine. The "extra hour" that Daylight Savings brought really let me feel like I had a chance to relax today. Or, maybe I just made the extra effort to walk away from my laptop and phone. I caught up on my DVR; I read magazines that had begun to pile up; I just lounged. It was fantastic.

I was starting to wonder if I forgot how to relax. Where it had been so easy to be lazy in earlier years, now I tend to get a nervous tic like there is something I am forgetting to do and that is why I have extra time. How awful is that?! I fill nearly every minute of my day to get something done. I have to schedule time to do the things I enjoy. And I have to schedule them after I have done the things on my to-do list or they I won't be able to give it my full attention. Pretty pathetic really. 

I'm better under pressure and better with a lot on my plate, but I'm beginning to realize that it doesn't seem that balanced. I work my ass off and then squeeze in 20, 30 minutes to read or watch bad tv or just do something just for me before I feel guilty like there is something else I should be doing. How many of you feel this way? Please tell me I am not the only crazy-wired nutcase who forgot what it's like to relax and not feel guilty. 

For my own sanity (and the sanity of those around me), I am going to make a better effort to slow down, to find a better balance. Any tips?

50/50 Challenge update: "About Time" Movie #65; Nine Inches by Tom Perrotta Book #21. 



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Random Thoughts Brought to You By the Letter 'D'

Diets. I don't do them. My friend who is a trainer once put me on a diet (I asked, she didn't suggest!) and it lasted exactly 1.5 days. It was chicken, rice, and veggies all things I like typically just not by force. But I also had to eat like five egg whites for breakfast - barf - and a bunch of snacks throughout the day when I wasn't even hungry! When you are restricted it makes you want it more. Or, is that just me? Any other diet rebels out there? I don't really like McDonald's but tell me I can't have it and I'll hoard a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets like I'm an addict. Unhealthy on so many levels.

Cheers to people with discipline and double cheers to people who care enough about their health to be conscientious of what they're eating. But calm down on the diets. What works for some may not work for others. A diet works for you. Doesn't work for me.

Dreams. Sometimes when I tell people about my dreams I suspect they think I am lying and I am making things up. I don't blame them. My dreams are pretty hardcore. Case in point: last week I had a dream that I was in Thailand visiting a haunted house. Not a Halloween haunted house but a house haunted by a ghost. Now this is where it gets unbelievable -- in my dream, the ghost inhabited my body! I was electrocuted at which time the ghost became part of me. In. my. body. When the spirit left I told the woman of the house what the ghost (who was a male) said. I can't remember what that was, but isn't that f'n crazy. I can't remember what I ate for dinner that night. It wasn't Thai food. I also had a dream the other night that I was in a boat riding alongside of a killer whale but I wasn't scared.

I have a dream diary. I write down my dreams as I remember them and then I go back to read them just to confirm how fucked up I am.

Dinner. The orange chicken in the frozen section of Trader Joe's is AWESOME. I made this tonight with fried rice. And by made, I put the chicken in the oven and put the fried rice in a pan then mixed the two together. Baby steps.

Defense mechanism. I was reading something in Psychology Today that made me wonder if I use sarcasm as a defense mechanism. I'm pretty sure not. I think I was born that way.

Happy Sunday! Don't be one of those punks who dread Mondays. I get the most done on Mondays and then my attention slowly dwindles as the week goes on.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Nearing the End

October is almost over which means I only have two more months to read 30 books! I just got a bunch of books at the library, but 30 books? Not sure that's going to happen. Movie wise I still cruise through. Two more to add to the list.

Next month I am also going to begin NaNoMo. Who else is doing that?

More later...

Movie #63: The Fifth Estate
Movie #64: Carrie

Sunday, October 13, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Times a Tickin'

I did it. I finally reached the next milestone of books for this challenge. I read 20 books. Sucks though that I'm actually supposed to read 50 books, which means I need to read 30 more books by December 31st. Like the math I did there?

Where We Belong by Emily Giffen is an easy read. It's a story about a mother and daughter who meet for the first time when the daughter is 18. It follows from both perspectives and doesn't get too far into issue of adoption or family, but more skims the surface of a good story. I look to Emily Giffen when I want a quick, light read. She came through again.

I also saw my 62nd movie of the year. "Captain Phillips" was fantastic. Is fantastic. You can ready my full review here: http://www.examiner.com/review/captain-phillips-one-of-the-best-of-2013 but it looks like I might be reaching 100 movies before I hit even 50 books. All I can do is everything.

Book #20: Where We Belong by Emily Giffen

Movie #62: Captain Phillips

Sunday, September 29, 2013

50/50 Challenge: More Movies

More movies, which is ok by me. There is so much good buzz about the new movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (two of my faves) "Gravity" but it just doesn't look that interesting. I want to want to see it. But I won't.

I heart JGL
Last week it was two movies with two cuties: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Chris Hemsworth.

JGL is adorable. I loved him in "500 Days of Summer" and thought "Brick" was a fantastic flick. He just has a lovable characteristic about him and did you see him on Jimmy Kimmel? Enough said.

Then, there are those hot Aussie Hemsworth brothers. Too bad that younger Liam is mostly spotlighted now for his dysfunctional love life, but soon he will be back in the Hunger Games spotlight where he belongs. Going up against his brother for "Thor 2" and it seems like Chris Hemsworth might be pulling ahead as the most desirable of the two.

More movies but I did read a book even though I can't add it to the list. I had to reread "Defending Jacob" even though I read it once this year already. I just forgot how it ended. I remember I didn't like it the first time I read it, but really thought the ending was a good one the second time. No new books to add though. Doesn't look like it's going to happen, reading 50 books this year. Not happening.

In other random news, the new San Diego Downtown library is opening tomorrow!

Movie #60: Don Jon
Movie #61: Rush

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nano, Nano

You know what I miss about college? I mean besides the keg parties and late night Taco Bell runs and sitting up late nights in coffeehouses having deep conversations about life? I miss my creative writing people. All the people in my creative writing classes who kind of just marched to the beat of their own drummer, who understood me and I understood them in ways even beyond even my closest friends. They were my people. My weird, introverted, creative people.

    

I also miss my creative writing classes because I was held accountable for my writing. I knew every week I should have five or ten or fifteen new pages written to be critiqued and analyzed and made better, so that at the end I'd have a story. It might be a really shitty story, but a story nonetheless.

I wrote a story about a girl with dad issues. Yawn. And then one about a girl who went a bit crazy. Cliche. But I had tons of ideas and story starts. I filled out notebooks. I didn't even have a computer in college much less my super slim, convenient Chromebook that I have now. I couldn't save things to my Google Drive to access from anywhere. I had to go to the computer lab and drone away with the rest of the undergrads and honestly, the buzzing sound of overhead lights doesn't really get the creative juices flowing.

I wrote a lot of my stories at Java Break in Lawrence, KS. It was (hopefully still is) a 24-hour coffee house that had different rooms filled with smokers and caffeine and people with ideas. I wrote on a yellow legal pad most of the time. I wrote and wrote with a pen. Holy shit, I kind of admire my younger self for having the dedication to do that. Writing even a Christmas card now cramps my hand. I can't imagine how I did that.

When I graduated college, I moved to New York for the same reason that every other wannabe writer moves to New York. To become a writer. I was dedicated to this task and by that time had a laptop and I pounded away on it writing about my New York experiences and then I started a novel. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I typed up enough pages to constitute a book. I left it alone and never edited it and then years later I started reading it and three-fourths of what I had put my blood, sweat and tears into was complete and utter crap.

Learning what I have since then, I need more snappy dialogue, better character development. The kinds of things I look for in the writing I read now. Since then I've written nonstop but nothing that is lengthy and in no way on the great triumph it would be to write a book.

That's where Nano, Nano comes in. I say this in a Mork & Mindy way, obviously, but NaNo(Mo) is National Novel Writing Month which begins in November. What better way to tackle my long lost, but not forgotten dream? I have signed up, not that that means much of anything. It's more to have a support and to commit. But I am going to write a novel in one month, thirty days. 50,000 fucking words. That's what I'm going to do in November.

When I think about it if I took away the multiple times I check Facebook, my email or Twitter and add in the other times I watch reality show or Scandal reruns and substitute writing in there, I could do it.

I mean, I CAN do it.

I am GOING to do it. I'm writing a book. Hopefully, it's worth reading. Hopefully, at the end of November I don't want to burn it. I am going to bind it and set it on my shelf. If it is good, I may try to market it. But let's not get ahead of myself. I have to write it first. Then, edit it. Then, edit it again.

I have October to convince myself this is going to happen no problem. Nano, Nano.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Almost to 60

It's almost officially fall which means that the holiday season will be here before you know it, which means that 2013 is nearly over and time is ticking to complete my challenge successfully. If I locked myself in my room and never did anything else for the next few months, I could read the remaining number of books necessary to meet the fifty goal. But that's not going to happen. It's not pessimistic, just realistic.

In the meantime, I cruised past fifty movies on my way to 100. I might as well keep keeping track until the end of the year, why stop now?

Movie #57: Closed Circuit
Movie #58: The Family
Movie #59: Prisoners


Sunday, September 15, 2013

I'm Getting Older...

I'm getting older. I embrace this fact because I know that with every day that passes I'm learning something that will prove to be invaluable to my life. I'm in my 30s now so I know better. I don't know everything, but I know better. I know that sometimes people don't act the way we want them to. Before I had a bit of Pollyanna idealism and I thought that every person is inherently good at the core, but now that I am older I know that a) that is not true and b) it is not my job to pull the good out of people. If I give a person an opportunity and they continuously show me that they are crappy, then that is my answer. There is no hidden, deeper solution, no message to be decoded.

I'm getting older so I know now how to filter opinions. For every person out there that wants to see me succeed, there is a person that will throw a wrench in my plans whether it be indirectly or directly. There will be advice received whether I like it or not and negativity spewed in my direction by people who are mostly just miserable in life. I understand now how to filter this. I used to take it all in and think that because someone said something about me that it was true or I second guessed decisions based on other people's beliefs of what they thought I should do. I still take it all in, but now I filter out what I don't need. I have trained myself to literally tune out the noise brought upon by those wishing to stir drama or spread negativity.

I'm getting older, so it seems like I should be marking accomplishments. What did I achieve this year that I didn't last year? What milestones of life have I fulfilled? The beauty of getting older is that you can set your own pace. People find that you are old enough to make your own decisions and/or mistakes so they don't badger you as much when you don't do things on their timelines. And if they do, I always just resort back to the filtering lesson.

There is a lot I learned while in my 20s and a lot more to learn now that I am in my 30s. It's good though to feel comfortable in my own skin and have the ability to recognize my setbacks and downfalls and address them head on. It feels good to not have to live up to anyone else's expectations and know that it is my opinion that matters, especially when it comes to living my own life.

I'm getting older and I am excited for what lies ahead.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

dieinafire.com - Working Title

The premise behind the website would be sort of the antithesis to Hallmark cards. Clients would hire me to send an email to someone that has done them wrong in the past telling them how much they suck as a person. It would have to be email, so it wouldn't cost any money.


dieinafire.com
I am legitimately thinking of starting a website called dieinafire.com. I may have to get copyright from my boyfriend as he coined the phrase first (or likely stole it from a television show or movie). It could alternatively be called stickyourheadinatoilet.com or a more succinct dontbemean.com.

But Courtney, isn't that a bit childish? Don't you think it's better to take the high road? Sometimes, it's not. Sometimes even if you take the high road, it doesn't mean you have to keep your mouth shut. I used to believe that people will live through their own karma and it's not up to me to point out their massive shortcomings, but I see now that that's just silly. Calling people out for being assholes may be unladylike and while it might not change anything in the long run, it still might feel nice in the short-term and really, doesn't life boil down to instant gratification? Let's not pretend that it doesn't.

As I was thinking about it, telling someone to "die in a fire" might be borderline threatening, but I figured there's not too much harm to it because it's not as if I am performing voodoo. Don't tell me that there aren't choice words that you would like to say to someone or have someone say on your behalf.

Yes, I know mean shouldn't be addressed with mean and that we're to turn the other cheek and all that. There are times though that I feel we are doing the jerks of the world a disservice by not doing a PSA that lets them know that you know they suck. This idea actually comes from a slightly more violent idea I also had where people would hire me to go punch people in the junk much like in "What Happens in Vegas." Clearly, that was directed for a certain audience.

If you haven't guessed yet, I am highly protective of my friends and family who I feel have been wronged. I am also a big believer in seeing justice being served even it's in an elementary, perhaps borderline immature way.




Serious Slacker

The darkest places in hell...
I haven't made much progress at all with my 50/50 Challenge. Even when I thought I was on quite a roll, I feel like I've come to a slow almost standstill. I did read Inferno by Dan Brown in about a weekend even thought it was what felt like 1,000 pages long. I enjoy his books. They're fast reads and discuss lots of interesting things about art and history and symbols and I find it fascinating, if fictitious. It kind of makes me want to read Dante's work again, even though I'm sure that thought will be cut short when I start to wade through that clunky text. 

This book took a little longer to get started on than his past ones, but still once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. I can't say what my favorite of his is, maybe The Lost Symbol because I freaking love information about the Masons. All the secrecy, I think.

While the likelihood of me reaching my 50/50 goal looks dismal, I still have not given up hope. I am having trouble finding new books I want to read. And then when I do find books to read, it becomes difficult to finish them! #booknerdproblems

In other news, looking forward to the return of Scandal, Top Chef and American Horror Story in addition to the beginning of The Blacklist. #couchpotato

Did she really just hashtag in her blog? You bet your pants I did.

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality during times of moral crisis." - Dante Alighieri

Book #19: Inferno by Dan Brown

Monday, August 26, 2013

San Diego Reader E-Book: Tour de Cheesesteak - A lot of Philadelphia in San Diego by Ian Pike

Ode to the cheesesteak
As part of the San Diego Reader program, I read a short story about...cheesesteaks. I'm a fan of the food, but rarely crave the sandwich or have one. It was interesting to read Tour de Cheesesteak - A lot of Philadelphia in San Diego by Ian Pike as he took the time and effort to hit the hot spots of the city and review each place and the version of the cheesesteak they offered. Note to others who may want to read the story: don't read before bed. By the time I was finished with the e-book, which was under 60 pages, I was definitely craving a cheesesteak.

Pike does mention my favorite place for a cheesesteak in San Diego which is Pop's Jersey Style Cheesesteaks, Pacific Beach. It was one of the first places I ate at when I moved to San Diego and I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly the service was and how delicious (and greasy, in a good way!) the sandwich tasted. It was hearty and full of meat, peppers and Cheez Whiz, which I LOVE on my cheesesteak.

He also writes promising things about Eddie's Philadelphia near my 'hood in North Park, which I've wanted to try. When I'm down on that corner though, I see Lefty's, so it'll be tough not to get cross the street and get a deep dish pizza. The story itself is a basically a collection of food reviews, but focused on a specific food. My boyfriend had a pizza crawl last year with his brother following the same kind of quest, but for the best pizza. Maybe there needs to be another Tour de written but with focus on the pizza pie.

The book was a quick read and me being the big fan of food and all the reading, watching, and eating that comes with it, I thought it served its purpose and made cheesesteaks remain on my brain and cause a growl in my stomach.

Book #18: Tour de Cheesesteak - A lot of Philadelphia in San Diego

Saturday, August 24, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Liam Hemsworth, You're So Pretty

Aussie good looks
I have yet to see "Thor" so I don't have quite the same affection for the elder Hemsworth brother as I do Liam who of course, I adore in "The Hunger Games" and I first noticed in "The Last Song." In "Paranoia" he cleans up nicely as a smart kid from Brooklyn that gets pulled into a business scheme that involves Harrison Ford betraying Gary Oldman. Honestly, the movie didn't have anything that stuck for me. It was highly predictable and had too much romance in it. The highlight was the verbal fights between Ford and Oldman, but also the fact the Liam Hemsworth is oh so pretty. May have moved up on my celebrity-free-pass-to-sleep-with list.

"Austenland" on the other hand was a fun film that was filled with one of my favorite actresses based purely on nostalgia: Keri Russell. The movie was light fluff, nothing filling whatsoever, but it was charming and sweet and entertaining. Sometimes that's all you need in a movie even if the plot is ridiculous or cheesy. I am a big fan of hers although I have yet to see her dramatic turn on the FX's The Americans. I just see her as Felicity. I will probably reference that show a lot in this blog. One of the best shows ever on television.

Anyone have any book recommendations? I need to read more books for this challenge! I have a list on hold at the library that will most likely all become available at the same time. But I still feel like there's a chance for me to achieve this goal.

Movie #55: Paranoia
Movie #56: Austenland

Monday, August 19, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Truckin' Along

Not my book shelves, but I like the airiness of the space
I've seen a lot of movies already this month and have only read one book. Le sigh. Of the four movies, to add to this blog post, I liked three.

"The Spectacular Now" is fantastic! It was also featured on the home site of examiner.com. Beep, beep. Did you hear that? That was me tooting my own horn. But the movie felt genuine with raw emotion. I became a fan of Shailene Woodley because I didn't really see what the big fuss was about when she was in "The Descendants." I actually didn't get the big fuss of that a whole movie, but that's a whole other story.

My second favorite was "Kick-Ass 2" even though it is horribly violent but not anymore so than the first one. However, the sequel was a bit all over the place and the teenage story line was a bit of a cop out, but really what else could they have done? I just love Hit-Girl, so I am biased. Chloe Grace Moretz is a bad ass. I've said it before and I'll say it again.

When I saw "The Butler" I honestly didn't have any expectations either way. It was interesting to see all the different actors portray decades worth of presidents. It's covers the issues of father and son as well as the Civil Rights Movement occurring during a passionate, tumultuous, changing time in America.

The movie I was so disappointed in was "Jobs." I remember seeing a cover of Rolling Stone and thinking it was Ashton Kutcher and really it was an old photo of Steve Jobs. Next thing you know, he's starring as him in this biopic of the technology pioneer. It just felt so bland. And uninspiring. Not like other things I've read about Steve Jobs and just his work speaks for itself, but I was hoping for more.

The one book I can add to the list is "The Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld which I read on my Nook on recent trip to St. Louis. I have to admit, I skimmed at some parts. It's definitely an interesting plot, but the writing wasn't that great. I have to keep in mind that it is not for an audience of me, but for a teenage girl. Who's read the series?

I keep trucking along with my movies and have not given up my goal for the books. It still can be done!

Movie #51: The Spectacular Now
Movie #52: Kick-Ass 2
Movie #53: The Butler
Movie #54: Jobs

Book #17: The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Sunday, August 11, 2013

50/50 Challenge: I Surpassed 50!

I came; I saw; I conquered 50 movies.
I have succeeded in one part of the 50/50 Challenge. Eight months in, I have watched 50+ movies already which makes me think that I could possibly see double the amount of movies than books that need to be read for the challenge.

"We're the Millers" starring stripper-bodied Jennifer Aniston was a surprisingly funny throughout the duration of the film. I think Jason Sudeikis has upped his attractive factor by dating Olivia Wilde and I like him for hailing from KC and wearing KU gear. He actually wears two different t-shirts from KC BBQ places in this film. I gave it a three-star rating and you can read the full review here.

I also saw "Fruitvale Station" which broke my heart and made me cry and cry. At the end, when they say what happens to the cop who shot Oscar (played by a fantastic Michael B. Jordan), I got really angry. The punishment did not fit the crime and right on the heels of the Trayvon Martin trial, it just infuriated me even further. The movie is shot in a sort of documentary way and makes Oscar be an imperfect, young human being with good intentions. To see that cut short by a thoughtless "mistake" is truly devastating.

"2 Guns" with one of my favorite actors Denzel Washington made it 50 for me and he and Mark Wahlberg are funny, fast-talking and clever in this clunky story. It's about corrupt government, cops, drug dealers, same old same old and there were so many layers of it, I was getting confused as to who was the bad guy and why. The story didn't fit together in anyway and the explanation for what brought Washington and Wahlber's together in the first place isn't that clear either. However, the movie is fun. I love Denzel and pretty much everything he does.

Movie #48: We're the Millers
Movie #49: Fruitvale Station
Movie #50: 2 Guns

*Ding, ding, ding -- winner, winner chicken dinner. I hit 50 movies of the 50/50 Challenge!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Update - X-Men Themed

I'm only a few away from hitting my movie mark for the 50/50 Challenge and the last three added were all X-Men movies. After visiting Comic Con last weekend and catching a glimpse of Hugh Jackman and stopping by The Wolverine interactive tent, I was doubly excited to see "The Wolverine." 

Zoom in close - that, my friends, is Hugh Jackman
In preparation, I watched "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and the original "X-Men" in their entireties. I had caught several parts of each movie before but never watched from beginning to end. I enjoyed all three, but the most recent version of Wolverine is the one I liked best. Hugh Jackman is so fantastic and really embodies his role and part in the X-Men series.

The next installment will be out next year, so until then, X-Men marathon anyone?

Movie #45: X-Men
Movie #46: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Movie #47: The Wolverine

Sunday, July 21, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Weekly Update

quiet spaces for all of your thoughts and the thoughts of those greater than yourself.Three movies from last week to add to the list: a weird one from Woody Allen (aren't they all weird?); a meh one from Kristen Wiig; and a truly awful one from Ryan Reynolds. Needless to say, I wasn't that impressed by the movies last week. 

You can always read my latest movie reviews here: http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-san-diego/courtney-hartmann and I encourage you to do so! Subscribe even!

I did finish a book though in two days because it was that darn good - The Fault in Our Stars. The book has been getting a lot of hype especially since it's already been optioned for a movie and Shailene Woodley (from The Descendants and Divergent) is set to star. I am hoping that Christopher Walken will also make an appearance as one of the main characters as well. 

I am positive that by mid-August I will have met the movie requirement for this challenge. As for the book part, I have 34 left to read in approximately 21 weeks which averages out to over a book and a half a week. Not impossible if I've done my math right. If I meet this challenge successfully, I should treat myself to a prize. What should it be?

Movie #42 - Blue Jasmine
Movie #43 - Girl Most Likely
Movie #44 - R.I.P.D.

Book #16 - The Fault in Our Stars


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Serenity: To Sea



You cannot escape the mundane of life
if you don't ever plan to put your feet in the water
squish sand between your toes
breathe in salt air

You cannot expect life to change
while sitting in dramatic places
that have no air
to move the positive in
and the negative out

You cannot begin to see life clearly
if it is muddled by self-doubt
murky water
broken starfish and seashell chips

It is the water that will give you answers
if you listen long enough
if you clear your mind
if you allow all that is to happen to you
be brought to shore
and all that is meant to leave you
be taken out to sea


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Power of Prayer

Next time I should ask for a million dollars
Last week I wanted to get my haircut, but haircuts are freaking expensive and I wasn't getting paid for several days. I actually went back and forth as to whether to schedule a hair appointment or wait until payday. My hair is long and thick and normally something I love, but not when temperatures are hot and sunny and slightly humid. My hair then turns into a dry, straw-like hot mess.

I actually prayed on it. I mean I feel kind of shallow, ok, a LOT shallow for praying for something as materialistic as money for a haircut, but you know what? It worked.

I needed $70 for my haircut (told you it was expensive!) and it was just not the kind of extra money I could spend. I went to bed thinking about it, praying about it, trying to budget around it and I kid you not in the morning I had an alert that $70 was being transferred to my checking account!

Of course, this deposit was not from God; it was from a friend of mine who owed me money from several months ago. BUT, I find it highly coincidental that the exact amount I was stewing about came into my account within hours after asking for it.

My whole point is this: Haircuts need to be cheaper. I need not to be so vain. And God really does answer prayers. You just have to ask.


Monday, July 8, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Inching Closer

I'm in the home stretch as far as movies go. I saw "The Heat" with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy which sounds like an insta-success, but sadly, I was semi-disappointed. I love them both, but felt the movie overall was a bit bland. There was a lot of cursing and action, but it was good girl Sandy with bad girl Melissa and those characters are starting to feel a bit boring.

I also saved a bunch of documentaries on Netflix. I watched "That Guy...Who Was in That Thing" which kind of sounds like what it is. It's a documentary about actors you may vaguely recognize but can't pinpoint what you've seen them in. They discuss their struggles as actors and how they got to where they are. All I know is that I did recognize one of the actors because he's in one of my favorite movies - "Hitch" - at least that's where I think I recognize him from. 

Meryl Streep is the BOSS


I also finally read another book. I read the follow-up to The Devil Wears Prada. Revenge Wears Prada was similar with a lot of famous name and place dropping. Honestly, a good beach read but the story kind of fell off and became dull for me which is how I felt about the first book. In this book, Andy is married, getting ready to have a baby and has joined with her former arch nemesis Emily to create a successful wedding magazine. This is one case where the movie was better than the book and if they call in the same cast for this sequel, then I will most definitely watch. Mostly for the clothes. And glimpses of New York. And Meryl Streep.

Movie #40: The Heat
Movie #41: That Guy...Who Was in That Thing

Book #15: Revenge Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger

Sunday, July 7, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Steve Carell x Two

I love movies. There are several "classics" that I haven't seen but that doesn't mean I love movies any less. I think it means that when I was kid my mom was very big on us going out to play rather than letting us watch movies inside or taking us to the theater. As a matter of fact, I barely ever remember having my parents take me to the movies. But now I see at least two or three a week.

I almost to my goal of 50 for the movie part of this challenge which can give me more time to read books, but to be honest, I want to keep track of my movies to see how many new movies I actually will see this year.

For those of who haven't seen "Despicable Me 2" it's a good one both for kids and adults. It's entertaining and fun and silly much like the first one, which was a smidge better. It's one of two movies Steve Carell is starring in this summer.
I also saw "The Way, Way Back" recently and it was fantastic - definitely recommend! I love summer, coming-of-age movies. They make you be reminiscent about your own summer growing up and you can relate to how tough and great it was all at the same time. Steve Carell plays a different kind of character for this role, not very likable, but I still think he's amazing. But it's Sam Rockwell who I fell in love with -- there's something about a slacker that means well, no?

I can venture a guess that by August I will have hit 50 movies. There are so many I haven't seen, so many I want to see and then of course, there's Netflix.

What's your favorite summer movie?

Movie #38: Despicable Me 2
Movie #39: The Way, Way Back




Sunday, June 30, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Onward!

I grew up in Kansas and one of the infamous groups Kansas is unfortunately known for is those members of the Westboro Baptist Church. They used to picket at my school primarily during in gay pride events and they are infamous for picketing funerals. I don't want to go into a rant as to what my true feelings are about this group, but that way of thinking is so beyond me that I was tempted to and did read Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church.

I thought it'd be more cult-like and it is to a point, but this person's story was more of how they ban you from relationships outside of the church and all the rules they have for women. It was a bit dull to tell you the truth. I don't agree with nor do I like cults, but I can't deny that they do fascinate me to a certain extent. I wanted more of the insider secrets, but really they just seem like a bunch of crazies; something I already knew.

On the movie front, I was able to add "The Bling Ring."


and "Monsters University" to my list.


Book #15: Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Laura Drain

Movie: #36: Monsters University
Movie #37: The Bling Ring

Sunday, June 16, 2013

50/50 Challenge: "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

"Wild" is one of the most intriguing books I've read in awhile. Reading someone's true story always peaks my interest a little more because typically it's about someone who has beaten adversity to come out a better person on the other side.

Cheryl Strayed is an ordinary person who set out to do an extraordinary thing. She decided to travel, no hike, for 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. It is the trail that begins near the border of Mexico and goes clear up to near Canada. She didn't trek this whole way, but she went plenty far.

Her journey began after she literally watched her mother die at a young age of cancer. This happens in the first chapter and without even realizing it, I had tears streaming down my face. The devotion and desperation she talks of makes you want to hug your loved ones a little tighter. It makes you want to remember the importance of 'I love yous' and appreciation and affection that we give to others.

Her childhood wasn't a normal one (whose is?) but she grew up on what could be called a farm, but was even less so without running water. Her abusive father cut out on their family when Cheryl was very young, but she adored her mother. And her mother adored her.

After the death of her mother, her spirit broke. Prior to that Cheryl had married her best friend and just early into her 20s she did not know how to adjust to any of it. She went on a spree of drugs and adultery and ultimately a divorce (although it is clear with her writing how much admiration she has for her ex). To find her way back to herself, she decides she needs to hike this treacherous trail alone.

She researches the gear to get, saves up the money, plans her resupply boxes and different paths along the way. Her journey, the physical and mental, is described in such amazing detail that at times I could envision the trail she was on, the feelings she felt. How an amateur hiker set out and stayed committed to this endeavor is something more than inspiring. It's brave and stupid and fantastic.

I read this book in about a day and a half. It doesn't make me want to follow in her footsteps, at least not literally, but the courage and strength and willpower she depicted, it would be silly of me not to want the same.

Book #14: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Is Ya Happy?

I want you to know something and I want you to remember this going forward because I think it's fairly important -- being comfortable is not the same as being happy. Repeat it with me: being comfortable is not the same as being happy.

It's easy to be scared of the unknown. But what's even scarier is that people will stay in a situation that they don't enjoy because they are worried that whatever new thing pops up might be worse. But if you know something isn't making you happy, like if it is a factual thing, then why wouldn't you at least try for something else?

Example: I hate mint chocolate chip ice cream. But I love ice cream. However, if mint chocolate chip ice cream is the only option available to me than I'd rather have nothing.

Do you get what I'm saying?

Maybe not; maybe that wasn't the best example. But what I mean is don't settle for something you don't really want. The saying that something is better than nothing is not actually accurate. You have to base your future decisions on present fact. Ask yourself if you're happy. If I was to ask you that question, how would you respond?

If it falls in the category of "It Could Be Worse" than you are not happy, my friend. You are comfortable or worse, you may be miserable and that is unacceptable. This pertains to anything in your life whether it is work, a friendship, a relationship or just your day-to-day.

If you look at other people's lives and think they're so carefree and fun, newsflash, that can be your life too! Not to get all cheerleadery and inspirational poster, but you don't have to accept another person's decision of what they think is best for you. Be grateful for what you have, absolutely, but don't talk yourself out of extra happiness because you don't think you deserve it or because you don't want to risk it or because you feel happy enough.

I've taken a lot of risks in my life and they have paid off every single time. I still have so much left to learn, but I have gained the wisdom of this: mediocrity is not for me.

50/50 Challenge Update: Lucky Number Thirteen

For book #13 on my challenge list I read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by blogger/author Jenny Lawson. Her tales of her growing up in rural Texas with a father who brought home roadkill to stuff and a mom who allowed it without blinking an eye. There were parts where I actually laughed out loud like when describes her sister as Terminator in a cornfield. (She describes it much more witty than I.) And my favorite parts are of her conversations/arguments with her husband because they are so real. However, note to funny writers: please stop footnoting your writing. You're already funny without the added bits. After awhile those get annoying.

Currently, if I told you how many books are on my nightstand and on hold at the library you would think I am exaggerating. But with EW's summer reading list and B&N sending me daily emails for discount books on my Nook, what's a girl to do?

I'm not complaining. I'd rather have a list of books to read rather than trying to get suggestions from people who have no idea what I am in the mood for when half the time I'm not even sure myself.

My next challenge is "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I have some book club meetings coming up so I have to kick it in gear to read those too. So goes the pathetic problems of a book nerd. I'm sure if you are reading this blog on some level you can relate.

37 books to go...

Book #13: Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Best Job I Ever Had

The best job I ever had was when I was 17. I was a recent high school graduate, being free and loving life and spending my days as a lifeguard. Sure the training to get to that position was none too fun. I mean early morning, freezing cold, May temperatures weren't really ideal for treading water for five minutes while holding a brick. But when really is an ideal time for that? I felt like I was an extra in "Titanic." I'm sure my lips turned blue.

And why did I have to go through such training that would save people drowning in a lake when I knew the majority of my job was to twirl a whistle and yell at kids not to run on the wet, slippery sidewalk?

What better job is there than being a lifeguard at a small town pool? I woke up at noon to go to work at 1 only to get off at 5, maybe 6 or 7 for late swim, but rarely. While at work, I got to eat popsicles and Charleston Chews and then, get a tan while socializing with my friends.

Of course, I kept an eye on potential drowning parties, but none occurred. Zero. The highlight of my rescue skills was telling people they could only go one at a time on the diving board. And to assure them they weren't drowning. I had little to no responsibility and I got to do something I'd probably normally do anyway.

Not since then have I had a job which I looked forward to as much as being a certified lifeguard even though I'm pretty sure I wasn't equipped to save anyone's life. I knew what I had and even now as I pass through summer after summer, job after job, I still think back to the best job I ever had as a city pool lifeguard. 17 and the livin' is easy...

*girl in photo looks much more prepared than I ever did

Sunday, June 9, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Three Movies, One Week

Sometimes when I plan things I just 'yes' to everything and before I know it I book myself full and never take time to rest. As a result of this, I now have a cold. I feel I never get sick anymore unless it's due to not getting enough sleep. However, the plus side is that I'm usually doing something fun!

                                   

Last week I saw three movies in three days. Two of three were great, and the other one was at least short enough to make not be too pissed off.

"The Kings of Summer" is a smaller film that will probably be swallowed up by all the other blockbusters, but deserves a look or at least a rental when it comes to DVD.



"The Purge" was the scary movie that I actually gave a chance despite my dislike for scary movies in general. It seemed like such an interesting, if not unbelievable, premise. But it ended in disappointment. Awful. 85 minutes long and I feel like I spent a lifetime trying to get through the movie only to be uninspired by the ending.



Finally, "The Internship" has been under a bit of scrutiny by the critics by repeating the "Wedding Crashers" formula but so what if Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn brought back their bro times. It works! They're hilarious together and are quick and witty with their lines. Plus, seeing Google is awesome. I am fascinated by that place.



I'm seeing "Man of Steel" this week, one that I've been looking forward to and have "Before Sunrise" on hold at the library because I've never seen it and now want to watch all three. What good movies have you seen lately?

Movie #33: The Kings of Summer
Movie #34: The Purge
Movie #35: The Internship


(photo from: just-spotted.com)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Watched 'Requiem for a Dream' and I Hated It


When I was in college 'Requiem for a Dream' came out and I remember one of my friends going on and on about the brilliance of it. Since then I have heard the same about the movie and about director Darren Aronofsky. However, I disagree. Maybe I'm not artsy or intellectual enough to appreciate it, but I feel it is a gratuitous movie that made me sick to my stomach. Maybe that's the whole point. Who knows? Who cares?

It's a movie about drugs and its affect on people, what they drive people to do, how it destroys people both physically and mentally, etc. etc. It's a strange movie from start to finish and really should be used more as a "Don't Do Drugs" campaign for teenagers. It's harsh reality, which film lovers find beautiful and meaningful and raw. I've read blogs about the movie and they find the genius in different screen captures (or other film technology that is way above my head), but the bottom line is: I did not like the movie. At all. I didn't appreciate it or find it relevant. And maybe that makes me look like a girl that doesn't get it; maybe I don't.

One highlight in the whole movie is that Ellen Burstyn gives a remarkable performance as she scared the shit out of me with her portrayal of Sara Goldfarb, a woman who believes she has been chosen for a tv show and wants to lose weight before appearing, so she picks up some pills. Pills that I'm assuming is some sort of speed that makes her have hallucinations about her refrigerator.

Other than that, I don't recommend the movie. I also don't recommend "Black Swan" for which Natalie Portman won the Oscar. My enjoyment of films might vary quite a bit from the mainstream, but hey, you can't please 'em all, right?

Movie #32: Requiem for a Dream
(photo: sgnewwave.com)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dream Interpretation: Dolphins and Easter Egg Hunts

I ate Papa John's pizza last night. It's nothing out of the ordinary that would make me dream of such things like dolphins and Easter egg hunts especially together in one night. But that's what I dreamt about.

For the Easter egg hunt, it wasn't me formally looking with a basket. The eggs just popped up and then I opened a closet and there were three Easter baskets filled with fake grass, plastic eggs and candy. When looking up the meaning it says that seeing bright colored eggs symbolizes a happy event.

Hallelujah.

The past two months have been rough. Not full of that many happy events. But I feel like June is the month that it will turn around. Better things on the horizon. I believe I will find true joy in June.

The same website also says to dream of an egg hunt signified relaxation and positive life events. More good news! I will soon find the happiness I'm seeking. Huge sigh of relief.

The second part of my dream I'm getting ready to eat a ham sandwich and I lose my sandwich in the lake as well as my shoes. I jump in to swim after both and midway to the other side I see dolphins. They are friendly and passing through. I keep swimming make it to the other side and recover both my sandwich (so odd) and shoes. As I get back in the water to swim back, a dolphin comes up beside me so I can "get a ride."

Dolphins symbolize spiritual guidance, intellect and emotional trust. "The dream is usually an inspirational one, encouraging you to utilize your mind to its capacity and move upward in life. Alternatively, it suggests that a line of communication has been established between the conscious and subconscious aspects of yourself. Dolphins represent your willingness and ability to explore and navigate through your emotions. To dream that you are riding a dolphin represents your optimism and social altruism."

So two strongly positive, odd dreams blended together to give me one positive subconscious message. I will take it. Even if dreams mean nothing, which I don't think is true, it still is my subconscious. And it's refreshing that in the midst of chaos that inside I know that it is only temporary. Sometimes whether it's kooky dreams or fortune tellers or horoscopes, sometimes having a sign, a message from the universe tell you that you have something big to look forward to is the only hope you need.

So maybe April and May weren't the best. They weren't the worst either. But June - June, I embrace you.

50/50 Challenge: Movie #31



Movie #31 - Now You See Me

I'm seeing a whopping 4 new movies next week! So excited! At this rate, I'll get to 100 by the end of the year.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

50/50 Challenge Update

Traveling by plane is the best time to read. Usually, I alternate between reading and napping and then the flight goes by much more quickly. On a recent trip back home from a wedding of a college friend, I finished reading "Defending Jacob." The story is about a teenage boy who has been charged for murder and his assistant district attorney father who believes in his innocence. It's complicated and filled with a lot of holes in my opinion, but maybe that's on purpose. Near the end of the story there a few twists that were a bit predictable, but it was an intense novel nonetheless. I was disappointed in the ending because it didn't seem to get wrapped up. There was a lot going on and a lot of loose ends.

Also, since my last challenge update I've seen quite a few movies I nearly forgot to count for the challenge! Earlier this month I went to an "Iron Man" marathon. They showed all three of the series plus "The Avengers." I had never seen "Iron Man 2" and enjoyed them all but think the first is still my favorite. During this marathon, some lady behind me kept kicking my chair. The worst.

Then came "The Great Gatsby" which is Baz Luhrmann's over-the-top, fantastical, beautifully made version of the Fitzgerald classic. Soundtracked by Jay-Z (amazing!) and given gorgeous costumes, it was a pop culture dream come true to watch this film. I like the theatrics of it all and it definitely made me want to go back and reread the novel.

I saw "The Iceman" on one of the hottest days of the year in a theatre that didn't have air conditioning so a pleasant experience it really wasn't. Ironically, the movie is based on a true story about a killer who sets some of his victims on ice. It's a little slow moving, but an interesting bit of history.

I watched "Star Trek" (J.J. Abrams version) four days before seeing "Star Trek Into Darkness" which I actually really ended up liking. I'm not a Trekkie or anything, but I get it. It's entertaining. The characters are interesting. That's a big step for me, since Sci-Fi especially Star Trek isn't really my thing.

"The Hangover Part III" and "The Fast & Furious 6" were two movies I was looking forward to seeing this summer and both of which I have review scheduled for publication tomorrow morning. I LOVE "The Fast and Furious" franchise. I don't care how ridiculous it is. I love them.

The movie scene is finally starting to pick up the pace after a very dismal start in 2013. This summer is full of must sees.

I think getting to my movie goal will be no problem, and I keep slowly inching away at those books. Nearly halfway through the year, I still have some time left!

Book #12: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Movie #23: Iron Man 2
Movie #24: Iron Man 3
Movie #25: The Great Gatsby
Movie #26: The Iceman
Movie #27: Star Trek
Movie #28: Star Trek Into Darkness
Movie #29: The Hangover Part III
Movie #30: The Fast & Furious 6

Saturday, May 11, 2013

50/50 Challenge: #11 - Traveling with Pomegranates

Traveling with Pomegranates is a mother/daughter traveling memoir by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. One of my favorites parts about this book is that it talks a lot about Greece. Greece is number one on my list of places to travel and to read descriptions of different places and hear about other's experiences made me want to visit even more.

The book itself takes a lot of different turns and goes down a lot of different paths: family, depression, marriage, travel. It's hard to really find a cohesive part to the story. It is heartfelt and introspective but just as it starts to delve into the personal details, it pulls back. There are a lot of questions of why but it's probably because it is so personal that at times we see only the surface of things.

Sue Monk Kidd is probably most famous for The Secret Life of Bees which I need to go back and read. Getting ready to travel next weekend which is the perfect time to get some reading done. Book 11 is done and I still have a chance to reach that goal.

Book #11: Traveling with Pomegranates

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Returning to Learning

When I was in third grade, I remember writing poems about horses. I also wrote stories about ghosts and kids being haunted. That's a subject that still fascinates me to this day. In fourth or fifth grade, I remember writing a short story very similar to that of "The Baby-Sitters Club." A teacher of mine laminated that story for me and turned it into an actual book. It was complete with mostly copied ideas from books I had read and really awful drawings.

Also, in fifth grade, my parents divorced. A close friend of our family's gave me a journal. I had had a diary previously, one with a lock and entries that actually began "Dear Diary." But a journal felt different. I wrote in the journal nearly every day and I kept a journal every year after up until only a few years ago. Looking back on the journals, I feel like I was going through a really rough time. Not so much just due to my parents' divorce, but also due to the fact that teenage years and my early 20s were kind of a rocky time. It can be for anyone.

Someone told me I should keep the journals, but most of them are filled with fluff. What boy did I have a crush on last week? Would I win the spelling bee? And then later, What was I going to do with my life? And still, more about boys. I threw most of those journals away. I did keep a few, but the rest weren't worth saving. I can't imagine them ever being read in the future and shedding any light into the kind of person I was or the kind of lessons other people could learn from. I was just a kid. I just liked to write.

In college, I continued writing and pursued a Creative Writing degree. This was after I started in Journalism; after switching briefly to Pre-Law, and then finally accepting that if Creative Writing was an option, then it was a choice meant for me. I studied poetry, British authors, American authors, how to write a short story, how to write an essay. Those classes were some of the best times of my life. Maybe except the Brit Lit section. Man, can those writers drone on! But I had a very clear focus. Most of my writing classes required only a writing portfolio as an end project. There was no mid-term or final test. Your writing was to determine your grade worth.

In all the classes I took, I never thought to take a screenwriting class. I never wanted to be a screenwriter. I still don't. I still want to be a novelist, but lately, I thought it wouldn't hurt to understand the crafting a screenplay. It wouldn't hurt to continue learning. Taking a class would be expensive, so the first step into my "returning to learning" is to check out books from the library. These books are entitled: "Screenwriting for Dummies" and "The Idiot's Guide to Screenwriting." Couldn't hurt, right?

Oh, and I have verbally signed on to join a team of creatives for a film festival this summer. It's called the 48-Hour Film Festival, which means that yes, we have 48 hours in which to write and produce a short film. I am the writer. Every writer says that you are supposed to take out time each day to just write. I write every day, but it hasn't been for a bigger project for a long time. But I can feel my creativity being ignited and that need to write for me is something which has never left.

If I'm going to be a novelist, it'd help if I actually wrote a novel. If I'm going to learn how to be a screenwriter, it'd help to start at the basics. It's pretty exciting being a writer. You can start and stop whenever you want. Today, what you write might be truly awful, but tomorrow, you always get the chance to edit it.

50/50 Challenge: I Made Double Digits!

Finally, I reached 10 books! I only have 40 left for the rest of the year to reach the goal, which seems like a daunting task but not altogether impossible. For my 10th book of the challenge, I read the latest from one of my favorite authors - Jodi Picoult. The first book I ever read by her was "Nineteen Minutes" a book about a school shooting and I cried and cried and cried.

If you've never read any of Picoult's book, she is a writer who tells a story from different perspectives. Her stories are usually based around one key, heavy issue. I've liked some books more than others and unfortunately, with her last two books both the one I just read - "The Storyteller" and before that "Lone Wolf" - well, let me just say, they weren't my favorites. It pains me to say that because I adore her writing! I've seen her speak three times now and I think she is great, but maybe just the topics of the last two weren't my cup of tea?

"The Storyteller" is the story of a reclusive woman is a baker and her story is interwoven with an old man who asks her to assist in his death. Of course, it is more complicated than my very simplistic synopsis, but I felt the story was a bit hard to follow because also included a fictional tale (fiction within fiction) that I had trouble going back and forth between voices.

However, Jodi Picoult still remains one of my favorite writers and I will read every book she plans to publish. Which according to her is once about every nine months. That is a gift! To be able to produce well though out, well-written novels year after year is truly remarkable. Newbies to her work, I recommend "Nineteen Minutes" and "Perfect Match."

I have several books lined up for summer. It is going to be one of very heavy reading.

Book #10: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Saturday, April 27, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Update (Still No Books)

I feel like May may be my big month for books. I have a ton on my list and I'll be traveling which is always a good way to get in some more reading. But until then, the movies are quickly outpacing the books for this challenge.

I saw this movie last week that I thought I had blogged about but maybe I didn't (sorry if there is a repeat!). It is called "Disconnect" and it's this dark look into the social media world. I work with social media on a daily basis and see the positives, but I'm not blind to the negative aspect of it which includes things like bullying and "catfishing." Jason Bateman is in the movie as overworked "disconnected" dad and the whole movie follows several different stories and pulls them together into one movie.

The darkness of it was a drastic contrast to the other movie I last saw which was "Pain and Gain" starring The Rock and Mark Wahlberg. I thought it was pretty funny. It's mostly buffoonery, but I was in need of a good laugh. I liked both "Disconnect" and "Pain and Gain" but for obviously different reasons.

Then, to round out my update I saw another Denzel movie - "The Hurricane" - which he won the Golden Globe for for Best Actor. It was a good story about Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a middlweight boxer champion who was wrongfully convicted of a murder in the 60s. He has a team of attorneys and a foursome of people dedicated to his case to help free him decades later. The most interesting part about the film was Carter's transformation while in jail and how he handled his circumstances.

Three movies and I'm still working on getting to double digits book-wise. I think I'll be to 50 movies by mid-summer, so maybe I'll have more time to read books? That's what I keep telling myself at least.


Movie #20: Disconnect
Movie #21: Pain and Gain
Movie #22: The Hurricane

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Randomness

Sunday is my favorite day to write. I usually don't put a lot on my calendar just in case I want to sleep the afternoon away. Planning for a nap isn't the worst idea let me say. But whether I have anything important to say (isn't it all important?) or I just want to "clear my thoughts" writing helps with that.

So this Sunday I have some random things on my mind:

1. I know in my blog I post a lot about my dreams. They are so vivid and weird and real to me that I consciously try to figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me as I sleep. I had several dreams last night. In one there was a skunk loose in the house. Except when the skunk ran by me it just looked like a black and white cat. Everyone wanted to catch the skunk and I said, "Why don't you just open the door and let it out?" Which is what I did in the dream.

Dreammoods.com has this to say about the dream:

To see a skunk in your dream suggests that you are driving people away or turning them off. Alternatively, the dream indicates that your suppressed anger is on the verge of exploding. You are not expressing your true feelings even though you do not agree with a decision.

Well, that's just great.

Who am I driving away? How do I make it stop? Who have I offended in the last week? Better question: Who haven't I? Or, I have suppressed anger? The last part of the dream interpretation could be true, but how do I fix this problem without fearing backlash? And what about the fact that the "skunk" in my dream was really a cat? Am I being paranoid about driving people away? Am I ignoring my anger?

I wish I could just have normal dreams about Ryan Gosling instead.

2. I hate when things that I know shouldn't annoy me annoy me. My friend and I were talking about how it feels seeing ex-crushes/boyfriends/flings get engaged. It shouldn't be annoying, but it is. Like they couldn't get it together when they were on our radar, but magically with the power of time, they are committed enough to get engaged?! Some other girl is reaping the rewards for all the hard work we put in to deal with their nonsense, make them better people, hold them accountable for their actions? Annoying!

3. The other day my co-workers and I were talking about the foods we eat when we want to feel "fatty." My fatty, let me sit on the couch and be a slug food is Long John Silvers fried fish with fries and hush puppies. It tastes like it's been fried in butter. It's fantastic. Eating healthy is a constant struggle for me. Maybe LJS is less my fatty food and more my rebellious food. Like so what, I still like heart-clogging, half-hearted attempts at fast food.

4. I'm devoting 15 minutes today to writing. Not blog, word vomit writing but real, let's try to write a novel here writing. This will most likely happen after my nap.

Happy Sunday!