Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 in a nutshell

Well, it's post Christmas, almost New Years. Blogging is a challenge. I never really know what to post about. I'll stick with the title of the blog and talk about the blog. I'm thinking this blog will consist of reviews of many different forms of media that I consume and just kinda talk about random stuff. Why not?
So New Years is here. This year seemed to fly by. As is expected with me taking 5 classes in the spring while also assistant directing Colored Museum and Light Designing for the Student Dance Concert. Oh yeah, and applying for a job at the Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville. I got a job as a theater technician in April and got to help with the grand re-opening of the theater by putting lighting cable together and whatever else they needed. After the end of the semester, I moved my stuff back north to Crystal Lake.

I spent the summer traveling between Crystal Lake and Edwardsville, doing work at the Wildey and doing odd jobs for friends around Crystal Lake. On July 23 I took off for Australia for 4 months (To read all about that experience, check out my aus-ome blog:
After arriving home, I enjoyed some great Thanksgiving food then resumed by travelling back and forth from home to school. Not only to do some work at the Wildey, but also to do auditions for the Student Experimental Theater Organization's production of Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang. After a long weekend of watching people act, and several days of stressed induced mild insomnia, I arrived at a very excellent cast! Once home, I was able to start raiding the library for their graphic novel collection. This has been a great way to catch up on some fantastic comics that I normally wouldn't have the money to buy and read. 
On the 23rd of December, I hosted a party at Howl At The Moon in Chicago. We went and enjoyed a bunch of cheap drinks and some free bar food. This is a dueling piano bar where they have two pianists playing music for a couple hours before being joined by a few more musicians to do a full band set. Highlights from the night are when they played Time Warp, and Mnamna (on keytar)!
Anyways, I got to Christmas where my brother, sister-in-law, and their dogs came up to visit again. Had a good haul of presents: a 4D puzzle of Sydney, several books, a couple calendars, and so on. Following Christmas the rents and I went up to Minnesota to visit my sister and niece and nephews for a day. It was a nice short visit but it was really exhausting dealing with the three kids. They have so much energy!! Well for today, I'm not sure what I'm up to, but tomorrow I will be going to the city with Devon and her family in order to view the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, then dinner at Jameson's Charhouse. 
It's hard to believe this year is over and that I only have one semester of undergrad left. Craziness!! I'm really excited for a bunch of things in 2012, but that's for another post I think. Anyway, thanks for reading, I'm off to bed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Tis the season.

Ah, Christmas. That wonderful time of year. Full of too many people on the road, lots of lines at the stores, fighting people for presents, struggling to get that perfect gift for that perfect somebody, and of course: Christmas movies!!!

Let's look at my top five Christmas movies:

A Christmas Story, 1983, Rotten Tomatoes-89%: Red Ryder BB Guns, tongues stuck to poles, bunny pajamas, and leg lamps. These are all great aspects of the classic A Christmas Story. This is a great movie about a young boy who just wants his Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, but keeps getting told, "You'll shoot your eye out." This movie follows his story as a kid and shows his life where a bunch of crap happens. This movie is great because of the everyday life-ness of it. It goes through a lot of situations that everyone can relate to: getting a crappy present on Christmas, being told you shouldn't play with a to because it's dangerous, getting soap in the mouth for saying a bad word, getting bullied, dinner plans not going as expected, etc... This is a movie for the ages. It has enough excitement and ridiculousness to be fun and enough realistic situations to be believable.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, 1989, RT-63%: This movie is classic Chevy Chase and National Lampoon. With classic scenes like rocketing down the snow hill on a greased up saucer sled, the cat getting fried after chewing through the Christmas lights, and the Griswold house overloading the power plant with all the lights Clark puts up, how can this movie not make the list? What better way to show the stress of Christmas than to have all the family come over for the holiday? Between the crazy uncle, the more than absent minded grandma, and the dozen other family members there is bound to be a lot of stressed involved. Christmas Vacation exaggerates familial stereotypes so the viewers can recognize and connect with the movie better.

Die Hard, 1988, RT-94%: Ah yes. The beginning of the "super-cop" subgenre of movies. Not really a Christmas movie per se, but it takes place on Christmas Eve and is a great movie. This is where New York police officer John McClane takes on a well organized small army of terrorists led by Hans Gruber. McClane and Gruber are played by Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman respectively with a great performance by both. This movie is a great action flick where Bruce Willis does a lot of ridiculous stunts and takes quite a beating in order to protect the several hostages taken. This movie is great, not just because it still holds up as an excellent action flick today, but it was the first awesome "lone cop kicks the crap out of a large group of terrorist" story line. Besides the awesome action sequences, there are a lot of great lines. Specifically: "Yippee Ki Yay Motherf**ker."

Home Alone (1 & 2), 1990, 1992, RT-54%: As far back as I can remember, these films have been on around Christmas time (probably because it came out in 1990, the year after I was born). As such, I have grown up with them. These are great movies that follow a kid who gets left at home in Chicago as his parents fly over to Paris for the holiday. There are a couple of robbers that are casing the neighborhood and we get a glimpse into what a fairly intelligent 8-year-old would do without the hassle of having parents around. The kid, Kevin, then has to fend off the two bandits from stealing stuff from his home. From this point on it turns into a three stooges kind of slap-stick humor. They fall down icy stairs, step on nails and broken ornaments. It's a great physical comedy for children to enjoy, and the adults can enjoy it too. The second one is the same premise, except he gets on the wrong airplane and flies to New York instead of Miami. Some traps are re-used and built upon and instead of him enjoying the house to himself, Kevin gets to sight see in the Big Apple. I chose these because they are friendly to all audiences, and even though they have essentially the same plot, they are different enough to both be endearing and enjoyable watches year after year. Granted they aren't the highest quality films (They definitely didn't win Best Picture or anything) but that gives it some draw as they are merely fun movies.

It's a Wonderful Life, 1946, RT-95%: This movie is a black and white tale of George Bailey who falls on hard times. He heads out to a bridge where he plans to jump off and kill himself. This is when the angel Clarence shows up. It's his mission to save George and make him see how important he is to people in his life so that he can get his wings. In order to do this, he shows George what the world would have been like had George never been born. He goes on a very enlightening and depressing journey to find his hope again. This is a classic heart-warming tale of love, and emphasizes the fact that small things tend to have massive effects to others.

Santa Clause, 1994, RT-80%: I know I know, I said five. This is the sixth. I threw in an extra one for all of those that don't count Die Hard. So here we go. What would happen if Santa Claus died while delivering presents to your house? Would he need a replacement? Who gets picked? This movie explores these questions and shows the technology and ridiculous budget that the North Pole has. Tim Allen plays a great character who flounders in his forced role of being Santa. Of course he doesn't want to be involved in it but his kid convinces him to do it. This movie is just an extraordinarily fun movie. There's no major theme to be learned here, besides the classic don't be a scrooge. Again just a fun movie, worth a watch.

Anyways, that's it for now. What movies did I miss? Post your favorites below!
So happy holidays to all!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New beginning.

Hey guys! This is an experiment of sorts. I am expanding my digital identity by starting this blog. I'm not sure which direction it will go, but it will be a blog. Hopefully posted in consistently. That is all.
Well, I got back from studying abroad in Sydney, Australia a little over 3 weeks ago. I have done many cool, and daring things in my life, but this takes the cake. Going to a new country by myself and tossing the dice to meet new people. I did all the tourist stuff: Snorkeling the reef, seeing an opera at the Sydney Opera House, and many days of enjoying the city, and (shhhh!) drinking (gasp).
Anyways, the reverse culture shock wasn't as bad as I've heard it can be. I think Revertigo may be the reason it was so easy to slip back into things. About a week after I got home I went down to Edwardsville, Il in order to do some work at the Wildey Theater and sitting through auditions for the spring theater shows, of which I am directing Beyond Therapy in March and light designing Cinderella in April. I then graduate in May and have no idea where I will be in June. Sounds fun doesn't it?
Anyways, since then I've been catching up on TV shows and comics reading. I guess I should review some of these.
I've been reading trades of Fables from the library. This book is incredible! It's a sort of crime drama set in today’s world, but the characters are those from fairy tales. They have escaped to our world from their own that has been conquered by the Adversary and founded the city of fabletown. We see stories about Bigby Wolf (the big bad wolf), Snow White, Rose Red, Little Boy Blue, Cinderella, and so on. The plot follows Fabletown’s life including a murder mystery, espionage, and war with the adversary and his empire. This book is a great use of many characters that everyone knows and loves and gives them traits that you don’t see in the original fairy tales. This is a book that once you start reading, it’s really hard to put it down. In the last two days I have raced through 5 trades of it. I would give this book 9 out of 10.
Along the vein of Fables comes the new ABC series Once Upon a Time. This show starts with the Evil Queen putting a curse on all the fairy tale characters. This curse puts them into our world in Storybrooke, Maine. Before the curse, Prince Charming and Snow White manage to send away their daughter, Emma, to protect her. The show jumps back and forth between flashbacks of the fairy tale and the tale in Storybrooke where Emma’s son, Henry, is trying to convince Emma and the others that his book of fairy tales is true and that the residents of Storybrooke are indeed these fairy tale characters. There is a massive conspiracy involving Mr. Gold and his counterpart, Rumpelstiltskin. That leads me to the most intriguing part of the series to me are the character names. Snow white becomes Mary Margaret Blanchard, Jiminy Cricket becomes Dr. Hopper and Red riding hood is Ruby. The cleverness of the names is what drew me back for a second episode. I then became enchanted with the complex story and conspiracy. I can’t wait to see where this show is going! Although this show is pretty predictable, I would give it a 7 out of 10 since it has such great potential.
I guess I should get back to the name of the blog. I wouldn’t be doing it right if I didn’t discuss blogging at all. Blogging is challenging. Especially if you want to do some kind of specialized blog, then you have to figure out what exactly you want to do and what subject matter you want to talk about. That’s what’s going to happen with this one I think. I will just blog until I find a niche that I want it to follow and then go with that.