Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Frozen: Movie Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It seems like the advertising for Disney's Frozen has given the film a "shrouded in mystery" feel.  Unless you watch the Disney channel, confession, you don't really know what this movie is about . . . or that it's a musical!!  (Why does Disney feel the need to hide this?  They did the same with Tangled.  It's a selling point.)

For months movie theater audiences have been treated with an animated short featuring two non-human characters from Frozen: Olaf the snowman and a reindeer.  It was cute and funny at first, until it stopped being cute and funny . . . but that's probably because I'm a movie theater addict.  An interesting approach to advertising, though the trailer says nothing about the movies theme.

I didn't have high hopes going into the theater, but my apprehension was wrong.  Frozen's Fantastic.

Frozen is based on the Hans Christian Anderson's story of the Snow Queen, but like most Disney Fairy Tales this story is loosely based on the original.  I feel the more I say the more I spoil, and not knowing much going into this film was a nice, refreshing change.  I liked being surprised.

I loved Tangled.  LOVE Tangled, the last Disney musical animation based on Rapunzel, but there wasn't enough songs!  Only four main songs with a bunch of reprises.  Mulan, amazing as well, had the same problem with only four main songs.  (Though "I'll Make a Man Out of You" and "I See the Light" are stellar.)

With Frozen we are given eight main songs and one reprise.  Eight!  "Let It Go" is this movies stand out song, sung by Elsa ().  (Okay, side note, when I found out Idina Menzel, from Elphaba "Wicked" fame, was voicing a character in Frozen my first thought was, "She better sing a song!!"  That was my biggest complaint with the movie "Enchanted," Idina not singing . . . though from a story standpoint it wouldn't work, but if there was ever a sequel . . .) "Let It Go" is such a strong, spirited song with fantastic, gorgeous animation.  A lot of the songs in Frozen are fun, though I must admit that some of the lyric choices made me cock my head to the side a couple times, but overall great songs.

And opening the movie with the choral piece "Vuelie (feat. Cantus)" was brilliant!  The music geek in me was tripping out.  Combining African like chants with medieval tonality was so cool.

The acting is good.  The music fantastic.  Animation great.

A fun family movie just in time for Thanksgiving :0)      

. . . now I wonder how long it will take Disneyland to give the Matterhorn a Frozen theme.    

MPAA: Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catching Fire: Movie Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

It's not often when a movie, in many ways, is actually better then the book.  The movie is Catching Fire, the followup to the wildly successful Hunger Games, based on the books by Suzanne Collins.

This movie starts off soon after the end of The Hunger Games, with Katniss Everdeen, played by , dealing with the emotional trauma of The Truman like death Show, where she was pitted against 23 other teenagers in a fight to stay alive, trying to become the lone victor.  Due to her cunning wits she manages to not only survive but save fellow competitor Peeta Mellark () in the process.  This act, threatening to eat poisoned barriers, was not seen so much as an act of love, but as an act of rebellion, and this rebellion is spreading like wild fire through the 12 districts.  A fire sparked by the girl known as the Girl on Fire.  She is, without wanting, the rebellions leader.  Her life is once again in danger as President Snow () keeps a manipulative, controlling eye on her.

We see the districts, the struggle, the lavish Capitol, a more challenging Hunger Games.

Everything in the first movie is improved upon in the second.  What was wrong in the first has been righted, and director is to thank for that.

The annoying, shaky hand held camera used in the first movie has been replaced.  That was my biggest complaint in Hunger Games.  The shakiness, though I understand the symbolism was going for, had so much movement the movie became unwatchable.

Thanks to a smoother camera I was able to enjoy the performance of the actors.  Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely breathtaking and gripping as Katniss, completely in tune with her character.  You feel the horror right along with her as she opens the door and lets you in.  She shines.

Another fault I had with the first movie that was repaired in the second was the portrayal of the Capitol.  In the books the Capitol is over-the-top crazy, died skin and wigs, fashion and indulgence all the rage.  They tried to pull that off in The Hunger Games, mainly reflecting that through the character Effie (), but in Catching Fire we see it with the extras as well, though Effie Trinket is still the Queen.

Catching Fire is smart and sophisticated.  Comparing the movies to Twilight is an insult.  The love triangles are not about a listless girl with her vampire and werewolf.  Katniss has substance.  She stands for and is something.  And the love triangle she finds herself in is intelligent and interesting, not selfesh.  She's a girl on the verge of changing the world, and love was never meant to be easy or simplistic.

I've seen this movie twice now, each time I was enthralled through the whole 146 minutes.  You don't feel the time pass.  No scene fills like an add in or throw away.  Everything is calculated and perfectly timed.  What's changed from the book adds to the story instead of takes away.  And the added scenes between Snow and the new game maker Plutarch () are fascinating, adding even more tension to the film.

And there's a lot of tension in this movie.  I cried both times.   

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Up All Night to "Get Lucky"

(A conversation my brothers had about the Daft Punk song "Get Lucky."  Steven posted this on his Facebook wall; it was so funny I wanted to share!)

Robbie: I think I've finally got it. The pieces have come together! You know that song by daft punk "Get Lucky?" Yeah, When they sing "Were up all night to get lucky." They are talking about personal revelation! Because, ya know, they've been reading the scriptures, and they are up all night studying and praying, and they're up to get "Lucky" or, to get that guidance they've been looking for!

Steven: ...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Am I the Only One Disturbed?

 I love Pixar's Brave.  LOVE it!  The movie features a Scottish princess, after all, and I'm proud of my Scottish roots.

 But the doll set, featuring Queen Elinor and the Bear, that was released before the movie came out Freaked me out a little.

 You open up the bear.

Put Queen Elinor inside.

And close it.

SPOILERS!!!  And the Disney Store didn't even place a "Spoiler Warning."

Toys do seem to give away a little too much . . .

And just holding the bear feels weird.  It looks disturbing, yes, but holding it . . . holding it . . . it's hard to describe.  "It just feels strange," I told my sister-in-law Krista one day when she was in my room.  "See, hold it."

She took the bear from me, shifting it from hand to hand before clutching the middle.  "Oh, that is strange."

I got the set before it was discontinued, the store had it on sale for $10, because I already had a Merida doll.  Merida needs her Mom, after all.  That's the point of the movie.

Now when you go into the Disney Store Queen Elinor is sold by herself, without the bear.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ballet and Wisdom Teeth

 I just discovered this video on YouTube and it totally made my day!  What happens when a ballerina gets her wisdom teeth out? She skips the recovery and goes straight to dance class, ASAP!

True devotion . . . minus that pet shrimp.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Women of God

(Photo I took in Cambria CA last Summer)

Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”

~ Margaret Nadauld

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yuzen Winter Box Review

 I subscribed to another subscription box, so now I'm at two!  (I hear sub boxes are addicting, and that's pretty much the case.)

I just subscribed to Yuzen, which delivers 4 times a year, corresponding with the 4 seasons: Spring (February), Summer (May), Autumn (August), and Winter (November).  It's $33 a box, and the theme is all about bringing a little Zen to your life.  The site states, "Each box has the very best Eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul."  

"Each box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies."  It's mainly filled with deluxe sample sizes, which are smaller then the original size, but big enough to try and use.  Sometimes there's full size items, too!!  (Which is the best :0)

I view this as my new pampering box.

 The packaging is so pretty.  It feels like a gift.

 What lies within the tissue.

Lavender Chamomile Soy Candle by LEVEL.  Size received: 2 oz, travel size, valued at $6.67.  (Original size is 6 oz, valued at $19.99).  I'm so happy I got the lavender chamomile scent!  So many different scents were being sent in boxes, so the scent you receive will be a surprise.  On Make Up Talk some people mentioned getting Cedar, Forest, and Grapefruit Bergamot.

Sun Cups Mint Cups: 2 received, valued at $1.66.  Nut free and gluten free.  They're pretty good.  I would like to try the caramel cups and dark chocolate sunflower butter cups sometime.

Kerstin Florian Fuß Balm.  Sized received: 30 ml or 1.0 oz, valued at $8.  (The original size is 133 ml or 4.5 oz. for $36.)  "Menthol, rosemary, pine and lavender provide nourishing and protecting care for the feet. Softens cracked heels."  I've already started using this foot balm, and I love it.

 Jurlique Rose Hand Cream.  Sized received: 15 ml or .5 oz., valued at $9.38.  (Original sizes available at 40ml for $25 and 125ml for $49.)  This hand cream smells amazing!!  It's my favorite item in the box.  I'm going to use it all up so quick.  This item received the "InStyle Hall Of Fame Winner 2013 Best Beauty Buys."  I'm not surprised.  

Sanitas Moisture Mist.  Size received: 60 ml valued at $5.41  (Original size is 200 ml, valued at $18.)  This will be apart of my new morning ritual.

"Moisture Mist maximizes the delivery of active ingredients deep into the skin. Moisture Mist effectively hydrates and heals the skin in addition to enhancing the penetration and spreadability of a moisturizer."

SpaRitual Mini Nail Lacquer: Golden Rule Glitter: .17 oz, valued at $6.50.  This will look really pretty over a solid base color.

 Tara Aromatherapy Stress Relief roll-on remedy.  Size received 5ml, valued at $3.17.  (Original size is 1oz for $19.)  This stress relief smells so good!  The essential oils are lavender, Red Mandarin, Rose Geranium, Pink Grapefruit, and Ylang-Ylang. The oil blend is pretty thick so you have to shake it a bit to get it working.

Jane Iredale 24-Karat Gold Dust. Full Size Product!!  $13.50.  This is so pretty and so versatile!  "Apply it to the cheeks, eyes and lips for a delicately gilded look. Mix it with a moisturizer for the décolletage; or into your favorite hair product for luminous locks!"  You can see ideas for application down below.

Pino Coconut Aloe Facial Mask: valued at $6.  (some boxes got the Milk and Honey mask, which is actually valued at $8).

So I paid $33 and got about $60.29 worth of product, and I know I'll have fun using everything!  I've already started working through the rose hand cream and the foot balm.  The stress roll on has a nice uplifting scent.  It's fun trying out products I've never heard of.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November's 2013 POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review

 I got my second POPSUGAR box last weekend.  With Veterans Day I was afraid I'd get it on Tuesday, but it was delivered Saturday morning!  I was out and about so my box came with me, and I opened it up in the car :0)

This month I went Spoiler free and it was So Hard!
(I visit the Makeup Talk forum, MUT)

POPSUGAR is a monthly subscription lifestyle box for gals.  The cost is $39.95 a month, free shipping, but it's cheaper when you subscribe with a 3, 6, or 12 months subscription.

On any month you can receive goodies for home, a book, fitness, snack, makeup, pampering, fashion, etc.  You never know what you're going to get, only that it will be fun and worth around $100, give or take a little.

You can subscribe here.

I was lucky to subscribe with a 3-month plan pre-price increase and $5 off coupon, so I only paid $30 for this box!!

An overall view of what's in the box.

 Michael Stars Folk Art Wrap!  Valued at $42.  (It works as a scarf as well).  I LOVE this.  I don't wear too many scarfs, and they're all knits anyway, so this is a nice change.  And I love the pattern.  I love squars, shapes, and lines.  My brother Robbie says it's very northern Argentina in style, which makes it even more cool.  As he said, "That scarf's legit!"

 Pretty cool when you see the price tag on an item, and its retail price is higher then what you paid for the box!

 The Naughty candle by Illume, valued at $15.75.  This smells so nice.  The notes are "Exotic Spice, Precious Woods, and White Musk.  The box was also giving out the "Nice" candles, which has a "Vanilla, Sugar, Coconut" scent.  That sounds fantastic as well.  Each box received one or the other, and which one you get is completely by chance.  I love the one I got :0) 

 Roland Pine Shea Butter Soap, from the Soap and Paper Factory, valued at $8.  I typically don't use bar soaps, mainly using gel, but this is so nice.  I love the smell of pine.  So Christmas.  Makes me want to travel to the mountains.  The scent is nice and soft, and doesn't linger on my skin, which I like.  It's like a woodsy aromatherapy for the shower.

 Strawberry & Blackcurrant Cream Preserves, by Maison de Monaco, valued at $6.  Created from a classic French recipe, these preserves contain 70% fruit and less sugar then typically used in jams.  I had this on my pancakes yesterday.  So good.  The primary flavor is Strawberry, which is my favorite. 

 Bare Fruit Apple Chips, sea salt caramel, valued at $3.49.  Besides chocolate, apple chips are my favorite snack, so I was excited to try these.  They're really good :0)

 Canvas Wine Tote by Land's End, valued $14.50.  I don't drink, I don't have friends who drink, so I'm trying to figure out what to do with this.  Carry my water bottle?  That seems silly.  The "downer" in the box, but everything's a surprise, so that's the nature of subscription boxes.

Absolute! Nail Polish Remover Pads, valued at $2.99.  I haven't used these yet, but I will soon.  I've been coloring my nails a lot lately.  Very handy.  This was another random item because there's 4 scents you can receive: Lavender, Spring Fresh, Peach, and Lemon.

Overall I'm very happy with this box.  Very Autumn like with a candle, scarf, and preserves. Already I'm using and enjoying these items.  The value for this box is $92.73, but my personal value (because I really don't know what to do with that wine tote) is $78.23.  Still more then what I paid for the box!  They included a $30 off Canvas Pop code that appeared to be a gift card with a unique code, but the code isn't unique, and the site is super expensive, so I know I won't be using it.  If you include the Canvas Pop code the value would be $122.73, but I don't feel that's the true value of the box. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thor: The Dark World, Movie Review

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

. . . now that I've seen Thor: The Dark World twice, IMAX 3D and regular 3D, I can now write a proper review . . .

When the first Thor movie came out I was concerned the Ice Giants were going to be Power Ranger style villains, but what could have come across corny ended up sophisticated and interesting.  I was impressed.  In this movie we have the Dark Elves, wearing masks that remind me of the jabbawockeez dance group . . . that's not a bad thing.  The masks are affective, and those who don't wear the masks fearsome.  A few thousand or so years ago the dark elves had a weapon called the Aether, trying to send darkness to the nine realms (in which Earth is apart) when all the realms align, creating epic space anomalies of the astrophysics variety.  They failed then, when Thor's grandfather won the battle, and the Aether was sent to Earth . . . because we're that kind of planet.

And then there's Loki . . . LOKI!!!  The God of mischief and mayhem.  And a character that is, hands down, the greatest villain of all time, is back and more interesting then ever, played by the talented .

I personally prefer the second Thor movie to the first, which is quite the achievement, since I saw the first three times opening week.  The humor remains, the CGI impressive, star-scapes more Hubble like, great battle scenes, etc, etc, all in the first movie improved in the second.

Thor: The Dark World is a great, fun romp.

Most of the original cast is back: Thor () brooding, Loki scheming, Jane () searching, Eric Selvig () crazy, Darcy () silly, Frigga and Odin ( and ) protective, and the threesome Sif, Volstagg, and Fandral (, , and newly recast (and honestly better (no offense , because you were great, too) ) gallivanting . . . though Sif's a bit more jealous.

I loved the second viewing of this new Thor movie more then the first viewing . . . and if I see it again on Monday with my Grandmother, who loved the original, I think I'll love it even more.  It's a gift that keeps on giving.  All my friends who have seen it love Thor: The Dark World.
I wasn't going to see this movie again today, but my Mom really wanted to, even with my Grandma postponing.  I asked her if she could see this movie three times this week, and my Mom said she could see it everyday, easy, she loved it that much.     

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.

As a note, when the character Eric is crazy like, he runs around naked in a news telecast, blurred in the right places.  This newscast is shown twice in the movie, and it shocking.   

Friday, November 8, 2013

. . . Get the Name Right

A conversation I had today while cleaning up after breakfast.

Steven: I've got Danny DeVito stuck in my head.

Me: Why would you have Danny DeVito stuck in your head?  That's weird.

Mom: He's so not your era.  He was on Taxi.

Steven: The female singer.

Me: Oh, you mean Demi Lovato . . . 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Most Favorite Muppet Song

 (Image Info, Public Domain)

 The first Muppet Movie will always be the best.  I love a lot of the sequels, but the first is timeless and amazing.  The music is some of the best movie music ever written.  They're echoes of my childhood.  When I was a toddler I still remember looking at the record sleeve, studying all the pictures as I listened to the music.

Though "The Rainbow Connection" will always be special, my most favorite song is "I'm Going to go Back There Someday."  It's sung my Gonzo as he stares up at the sky, contemplating, feeling his uniqueness.  The older I get, the more powerful the words become.  They're spiritual.

 "I'm Going to go Back There Someday"

"This looks familiar, vaguely familiar,
Almost unreal, yet, it's too soon to feel yet.
Close to my soul, yet so far away.
I'm going to go back there someday.

"Sun rises, night falls, sometimes the sky calls.
Is that a song there, and do I belong there?
I've never been there, but I know the way.
I'm going to go back there someday.

"Come and go with me, it's more fun to share,
We'll both be completely at home in midair.
We're flyin', not walkin', on featherless wings.
We can hold onto love like invisible strings.

"There's not a word yet for old friends who've just met.
Part heaven, part space, or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay.
I'm going to go back there someday.
I'm going to go back there someday."

Written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher.

I love the line "There's not a word yet for old friends who've just met."  How many times have we felt that?  I personally think it's our spirits remembering. :0)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Romeo and Juliet: Movie Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

"Never was a Story of
More Woe
than this, of
Juliet and her

The setting: Verona
The characters: Juliet, her Romeo, some comic relief, overbearing parents, and feuding families.
Plot: Star crossed lovers try, unsuccessfully, to find their Happily Ever After (Spoiler Alert!), amongst said feuding families and untimely realities.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a story that has stood the test of time.  I read it for the first time in High School, pouring over the drama and the thick, sweet words, watching the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli's version in the process.  This is the version that all follow adaptation are compared, because, like a Jane Austen novel, you can never have too many takes on a single play.

Carlo Carlei is the latest director to the Romeo and Juliet table, and here he serves a plate rich in scenic wonder, beautiful cinematography, and delightful costumes.  This stage is set nicely, and is a wonder to behold.  A great escape piece.

The text, though, is not pure.  Long soliloquy's and monologues are cut down, bite size tidbits for a modern audience.  I should be overly disgruntled by this, but I'm not.  If I want to see a full version I'll find a local performing troupe or simply read it myself, imagining the grandeur.  Here the words fit the screen, making the story easy to follow for those not familiar, or heightening crucial moments through careful editing.

This story, though I've read and enjoyed it many times, was made fresh.  The audience was filled with various ages, many of whom know the tale as well as I.  Yet, through the climaxes end, I could hear sniffles in surround sound.  Everyone holding back tears and breath as the tragedy unfolded.  It was marvelous, really.  There was a teenage girl sitting next to my Mom and I who was in tears by the credits, already knowing the plot, but this version shook her, moving her to the core.  If this adaptation can move people like that, then it's worth watching.

Juliet, played by Oscar nominee (True Grit) , and the handsome Romeo, played by , are sweet in their roles, but it is the side characters that truly shine.  as the Nurse and as Friar Laurence were both outstanding.

To date, since this films October 11th release, it has only grossed $1,112,972, opening in 421 theaters.  I didn't even realize until last weekend that this movie was already out, thinking it had a November/December release.  All trailers I saw said it was "Coming Soon."  Dangerous words.

I'll be buying this movie on Blu-ray.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Kitchen is a Magical Place

 (Image by Bjarne Thune)

I was sitting at the Dinner table with my Dad and brother Robbie a few nights ago.  Robbie exclaimed, "I've got a magic ticket to do the dishes."

"But tonight is your night," I replied.

"Exactly," he said, "Which is why I have a magical ticket."  I just looked at him when he decided to continue.  "When I have kids I'm going to put up a curtain to block off the kitchen."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because the Kitchen will be a magical place that only Mommies and Daddies can go.  Going into the kitchen will be special."

"So doing the dishes will be a privilege," I supplied.

"Exactly," he agreed, smiling at the idea.

At this moment my Dad looked up from the beautiful spaghetti meal I made and said, "I need to put a curtain over the lawn."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ender's Game: Movie Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Earth is attacked by the Formics, an alien race scouring the Galaxy for more resources, in a battle that devastates our Planet.  70 years later we are still healing and preparing for the next wave of invasion, but our tactics have changed.  Instead of sending adults, kids are being prepared, training their minds for battle through games and strategies.  Ender Wiggin () is a boy of brilliant promise, and Colonel Graff () believes Ender could be Humanities savior.

Ender's Game is based on a book of the same name written by Orson Scott Card, a novel that's earned both the Nebula and Hugo awards, a huge feat in the science-fiction world.  Surprisingly I've never read the book, though I've heard so much about it.  This may have been a benefit, because if I had the books knowledge in mind while watching the film, I probably would have been disgruntled.  Huge chunks of the book has been left out (my brother Robbie thought the scenes on Earth involving Ender's siblings more interesting, none of which made the film.)  And a lot of character interaction and growth was also sacrificed, creating a movie that felt rushed, lacking proper development.

And the ending . . . goodness, I don't want to give anything away.  There's a couple surprise ending, one of which wasn't explained thoroughly (I had a discussion with my brothers verifying some of the things I gathered), and the other surprise ending felt like a crazy dream sequence that made no sense.  Graff would not have allowed it . . . I hate movies that leave out key information, when the remaining information defies established logic and motivations.

The game simulation scenes were really quite spectacular, as were the space-scapes and technology.  There is one scene I have issues with: a scene where a spaceship carrying a group of kids enters zero-gravity.  But that's the thing, it felt like pretend, kids lifting their arms as if weightless, looking like it was a game of make believe.  Then this kid barfs into a bag.  You see the liquid fall . . . fall . . . as if there's gravity, but we're told there is none, and then really bad CGI barf floats away.  I kept thinking of the film "Gravity."  The Zero-G effect Sandra Bullock pulled off truly was brilliant.     

Ender's Game was a wild wide, and I enjoyed the journey, though at this point I don't know if I want to see the movie again.     

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


(Santa Barbara this last Summer)

“Our lives are the only meaningful expression of what we believe and in Whom we believe. And the only real wealth, for any of us, lies in our faith.”

~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, November 1, 2013

Another Insane Month in the Land of Nanowrimo!

(My Plot Bunny)

. . . and thus Nanowrimo begins . . . 

Nanowrimo . . . National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November, has begun.  The goal is to write 50,000 words in the course of a month.  Full literary abandonment.  The writing doesn't even have to be good!  The goal is to simply write.

I've known about Nano since 2003, in which I completely failed that year, school taking precedence.  In 2011 I finally finished all 50,000 words, though the quality of my writing was very ill, I did get some interesting ideas in the process.  Last year was a mess.  I don't even think I started writing until day 5, and missed several days from that point to the end.  I did manage to miraculously blog every single day in November.  We'll see if that holds true again this year.  But last year, just to make the goal, I wrote 10,000 words in one day, words I will never let anyone read.

This year I'm going to write everyday, and allow myself time for some quality.  All you have to do is write 1,666 words a day to reach the goal, 2,000 words if you want to be finished before Thanksgiving.

If you've always dreamed of writing a novel and need a little push to do so, or simply love writing, you can find more information at

Now for a little writing . . .