Thursday, January 30, 2014
Friday, January 24, 2014
Saturday 9: I Will Always Love You
1) The Bodyguard is the best-selling movie soundtrack ever and this is the song most often associated with Whitney Houston. Is it on your iPod/mp3 player? It is not. I don't have any Whitney on my playlists anymore. But I have to admit that I've been known to belt it out if it does ever come on in the car.
2) In the movie, Rachel (Whitney) sings "I Will Always Love You" after she realizes she can never see Frank (Kevin Costner) again. What song reminds you of a past love? I actually tend to connect music to events, so to pick just one is hard. Many, many songs remind me of something - good or bad.
3) Despite the movie's and the song's overwhelming popularity, Whitney Houston was awarded a Razzie Award as the worst actress of 1992. What's the most recent criticism you received? I can't think of anything blatant or specific recently. This past summer, I spent an exorbitant amount of time working on the creation of our new Common Core curriculum plans and assessments for our district. It's new, and we're not really sure what it's all suppose to look like yet. So our time was spent flying blind, with the understanding that it's a work in progress and will be revised numerous times until we are comfortable with it. With that being said, as we move through the year and the teachers who were not involved in the summer work complain about how difficult/stupid the new curriculum is, it's hard not to take personally. Even though it's unintended, at times it feels like criticism.
4) On the bright side, share the last compliment you received. Hmmm, compliments embarrass me, so I was probably too busy waving one off to remember.
5) In the 1980s, when Whitney first burst onto the scene, a trendy woman wore big hair, big bows and big shoulder pads. Can you think of anything you wore that was fashionable at the time, but looking back, makes you cringe? Big hair was all the rage in the 80s and as much as I tried, I could never make it BIG. My oldest friend had the best 80s hair ever when we were growing up, and I was so envious of it at the time. A few years back we found a picture with it in all its glory. She was mortified and I laughed and laughed and laughed. I will admit that I did take part in shoulder pads, neon colors, and giant belts like nobody's business.
6) When this song was popular, cell phones were uncommon and Facebook was unheard of. Which has had a bigger impact on your life -- smart phones or social networking? Oh my iPhone for sure. I might not be able to live without it. Facebook? Meh, I could care less.
7) Whitney's marriage to Bobby Brown left many people shaking their heads. Whitney and Bobby's daughter recently married the young man who was raised as her brother. Have you ever been in a relationship your friends/family didn't approve of? Just one, and even then not until his true colors were revealed.
8) Whitney Houston's grave marker reads, "I Will Always Love You," so obviously her family is very proud of the success of this recording. How would you like to be remembered? As someone who worked hard and was a good person. "I will always love you" would be nice too.
9) Whitney was born in Newark, the largest city in New Jersey. It's a major air, rail and shipping hub, and it's in the Eastern Time zone. Have you ever been to Newark ... or any town in New Jersey? I have a flown in and out of Newark a few times. A friend of mine from college lives in Metchuchen, NJ which is nearby. Also, Newark is often cheaper to fly into than JFK or LGA when traveling to New York City. I'm a fan of Newark's former mayor Corey Booker who has recently taken a US Senate seat.
Ugh! I forgot about all the html code in Blogger's web posting. Why won't it just skip a freaking line?!?!? Anyone have a good off-line editor they would recommend?
Monday, January 20, 2014
The Golden Globes took place last weekend, and the Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday. It seems it is time for my yearly movie post. Interestingly enough, I didn’t seem to see as many of the nominated films this year as in the past. I did see a lot this year though. School breaks are when I get the most in, but my trip to Europe in December gave me 20+ hours to see a few that I had missed in the theater. While many of the films I saw were good, they were released early in the year so not award worthy I guess. Anyhow, in order of release date…
Promised Land – Let me preface this by saying I like most films Matt Damon (sigh) is in. He plays a natural gas (read fracking) representative trying to buy out a small town in the Midwest. He learns his company has been pulling the wool over the customers’ and his own eyes on the havoc fracking wreaks on the earth. The movie is not nominated for anything, as far as I know, but it is a nice film.
A Place Beyond the Pines – Wow! This Ryan Gossling/Bradly Cooper film was intense. From the previews, I had assumed that the two main actors acted together in the film, but in fact they actually play in two different time periods. The movie spans over a generation and it has some twists and turns which are not expected. Again, this film came out early in 2013 so it isn’t earning any awards this year.
The Company You Keep - Meh, Robert Redford is on the run as a past environmental activist. I think that’s what happened anyways. I fell asleep about halfway through and woke up as the film was ending…and yes, I was at the movie theater. That probably says something.
The Great Gatsby – I enjoyed Baz Lurhmann’s take on this classic tale. Leo Dicaprio was very good as Jay Gatsby. With Lurhmann’s award success on the Australia film, I’m surprised this one didn’t open later in the year so it would be in award contention.
Now You See Me – A film about magic – not just pull-a-quarter-out-of-your-ear or guess-your-card-magic, but over the top Vegas-style magic. A fun cops and robbers film with a surprise twist at the end.
Side Effects – What starts out looking like a film about the side effects of using medication for depression/anxiety turns into a murder mystery that was completely unexpected. Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Rooney Mara (Lizbeth Salander in the American version of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), and Catherine Zeta Jones star in the psychological (literally) thriller. Without spoiling it, the ending was a complete SURPRISE! (for me anyways) Side Effects is probably one of my top films of 2013.
The Heat – Ha Ha Ha! I wasn’t so sure I wanted to see this because I’m not much of a fan of slapstick, over the top humor. I much prefer dramas. However, this one is laugh-out-loud funny. A Boston cop (Melissa McCarthy) and an FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) are paired together to solve a case or two. There are certainly some unrealistic moments, but the writing/the jokes are really good. I’d like to see it again just to catch anything I missed the first time through.
White House Down – Appropriately, I saw White House Down on the 4th of July. Jamie Fox plays the president and Channing Tatum plays the wannabe Secret Service agent that saves his life when the White House is taken over by terrorists. It is an exciting action film that was very entertaining.
The Way Way Back – A young teenage boy spends the summer at the beach with his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend (Steve Carrell). The boyfriend is emotionally abusive to the boy, and he escapes it by spending most of the summer at a nearby waterpark. The waterpark employees (Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph) befriend him. When they take him under their wings, he begins to come into his own – very sweet.
Blue Jasmine – The best way to describe Blue Jasmine…A Woody Allen Film. After a rich New Yorker (Cate Blanchette) loses all her money, she moves in with her less than rich sister in San Francisco. She keeps her caviar attitude while sinking to the bottom of her barrel so to speak. Blanchette won the Golden Globe for best actress (also nominated for an Oscar), and it was well deserved. However the film made me so uncomfortable and sad. That does say something about the acting – they did their job – but it was hard to watch this woman’s life just fall apart.
The Wolverine – A guilty pleasure…I love the Xmen, which is odd since I’m not a sci-fi/comic book fan at all. This was the second film highlighting Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).
2 Guns – Denzel Washington and (Marky) Mark Wahlberg, play a DEA agent and a Naval intelligence officer who go undercover as criminals to take down a Mexican drug lord. For the first half of the movie, neither character knows the other is undercover. It has lots of twists and turns, and the witty banter banter between the two main characters is fun.
We’re the Millers – This was another film that I didn’t really care if I saw or not because it looked a bit too silly for me. It was silly, but entertaining as well. A pot dealer (Jason Sedakis - best known for Saturday Night Live) and an aging stripper (Jennifer Anniston), along with two street kids, pose as a suburbanite family to smuggle drugs over the border from Mexico. They take a motor-home south, pick up the drugs, and then (of course) run into one road block after another trying to get home. At times it leaned towards slapstick, but mostly entertaining – kind of cute.
Closed Circuit – Eric Bana plays a defense lawyer, or is it barrister, along with Rebecca Hall’s character. When a marketplace in London is bombed, a suspect is taken into custody, and the two attorneys are assigned to his case. Turns out they discover the suspect is being framed due to a cover up by MI-5. This movie did not get very good reviews at all, but I liked it.
Enough Said – LOVED IT! A very sweet film about two divorcees, (Julia Louise Dreyfuss and James Gandolfini) with kids going off to college, getting together. The twist is that Dreyfuss’s character befriends Gandolfini’s ex-wife without knowing it at the time. Of course, that throws a wrench into the relationship. It was a little hard to watch because it was released after James Gandolfini’s death. He was very likeable (so different than Tony Soprano) which made it kind of sad.
About Time – Another sweet movie. I enjoyed and already reviewed it. :)
The Book Thief – Hmmmm, being that the book of the same name has made a deep impression on my psyche I have to be quite hard on the film. Others who saw it liked it, and it was fine as a stand alone film. But I compared it to the book the whole time, and that’s a bad idea. Liesel Meminger is such a wonderful/empowering character in the book, and the little girl (Sophie Nelisse) who played her in the movie is just darling. She did a good job. In fact all the actors (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Ben Schnetzer) were very good. It mostly followed the book, but the end changed a lot. I didn’t like that, but worse, I found it emotionally vacant in comparison to the book. I think if you haven’t read the book, it’s a nice movie, but I had a lot of expectations. And they weren’t fulfilled.
The Armstrong Lie – The only documentary I viewed at the theater this year. Very well done and very interesting. Originally filmed to follow Lance Armstrong’s comeback to the racing world, but slowly morphed into a different kind of film as the truth about his performance enhancing wins trickled out. The filmmaker admits he had planned to make a film celebrating Armstrong, but in the end it is a very honest film. Terribly interesting, but such a disappointing story.
Delivery Man – Somehow, I took in a lot of movies that are pretty far out of my preferred genre this past year. While I’m a Vince Vaughn fan due to Swingers, most of his films are a little too silly for me to pay good money to see at the theater. I’ll rent them usually. I don’t know what made me go (old age maybe), but I did and surprisingly liked it. Vaughn’s character is kind of a slacker guy who, years ago, generously donated to a sperm bank. When he is notified that he has over 500 children due to a clerical error, he decides to become responsible and watch over his “kids” from afar. It was pretty funny, and Vaughn plays the slacker part very well.
Philomena – A true story (The Lost Child of Philomena) based on an Irish women (Judi Dench) who was sent to a convent after becoming pregnant as a teenager. Her child, were sold to an American couple without her permission. Steve Coogan plays the journalist who helps her try to locate her lost son 50 years later. It’s a very sad story, but has a silver lining in the end. Dench has been nominated for several best actress awards. She did a very good job, but it wasn’t a part so outside her box in my opinion. Steve Coogan, known more for his comedic performances, was fantastic in this drama while still bringing some humor. He hasn’t been nominated for any acting awards in the US, but is up for some screenplay awards.
Saving Mr. Banks – P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), who wrote the Mary Poppins’ books was wooed by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) so he could buy the rights of her books to make a film. Mary Poppins is a classic film, and I found it very interesting to learn more about the making of it. This was a cute film. Tom Hanks was endearing and Thompson played the quirky and very particular Travers well. Shortly after seeing the film though, I read an article about the real woman, and she wasn’t a very nice person in a lot of cases.
American Hustle – Well, I wanted to like this movie soooo much. It came out just days before I left on my trip, and I was afraid I’d miss it in the theaters. However, I did catch it while still on vacation. Clever scam movies are right up my alley. The four main actors (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper) were good, very good characters. The scams were also clever. So I don’t know why I didn’t care that much for it. I think the story ran VERY slow. Maybe I was still suffering from jetlag, but man it was hard to keep my eyes open during the middle third of it. It’s nominated for a ton of awards and Jennifer Lawrence won a Golden Globe (she was fabulous by the way). Overall though, I was disappointed.
August: Osage County – The previews have been out for months with this one; A huge all-star cast (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, the list goes on) in a dark, dark film about an extremely dysfunctional family. The movie is based on the stage play of the same name. It has had mixed reviews and the ending probably plays a part in that. The ending was sudden and untidy, but that adds to the dysfunctional aspect of the film. There were parts that were so hard to watch and others that were laugh-out-loud funny – just like a dysfunctional family, right? Meryl Streep has been nominated for several best actress awards. She was wonderful at being awful. This was also an unusually meaty part for Julia Roberts (Golden Globe/Oscar nominated for best supporting actress) who’s forte is lighter films.
The Wolf of Wall Street – I know, I know, I’m always pushing Leo DiCaprio films, but WOW this one was good. It was probably the most fun of the year, and shockingly it’s true. This Martin Scorsese film tells the true story of Jordan Belfort, a Wall Street stockbroker who, after falling on hard times, reinvented himself by defrauding investors on penny stocks. The film highlights the amount of money this man raked in on the backs of others and how his wealth changed him. Sex, drugs, alcohol…it was utter debauchery. Now, not condoning this person’s actions by any means, the film was very entertaining because his life was so over the top. In the end, he gets indicted and served prison time, albeit white collar prison time. DiCaprio won a Golden Globe for his role – he was fantastic in it – and has been nominated for an Oscar. He has been snubbed by the Academy for years, but fingers crossed he gets it this year. Fun! Fun! Fun! An interesting tidbit I read somewhere…F#$% was said in this movie over 500 times.
Lone Survivor – OMG! I think I spent 150 minutes out of 160 with my gut tied in knots. Marky Mark Wahlberg played one of the 4-man Navy SEAL team who participated in Operation Red Wings. The name of the film kind of gives the fate of that team away, but wow, what an operation it supposedly was – as usual there seems to have been some creative license taken. The team was dropped off in the mountains of Afghanistan and set out to locate and capture a high level al-Qaeda operative. While set up and resting until nightfall, three goat herders happened upon the SEALS. After some debate about letting them go or killing them, the team decided to let them go…a moral decision they would regret. The herders returned to the camp and told of the soldiers. Knowing the mission was most likely compromised, the team headed out, but before they made it up and over the mountains they were surrounded by al-Qaeda. For the entire film my muscles were so tense. Although most of the team, along with some of their support, were killed in the operation, there was a touching ending for the survivor. The film was well done, but very difficult to watch.
In the end, I only saw three of the nine films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. I never made it to (but wish to see) Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska, and Twelve Years as a Slave. None of the three came out nearby nor were they out for very long. With the Oscar nominations, I bet they will come out again. If so, I will try to catch them this time around. I probably won’t worry about Captain Phillips, Her, or Gravity. I do hope that Wolf of Wall Street wins the Oscar as it was the most entertaining film I saw this year.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
I want to be the one who gets to go back to bed.
I really have no words for this publicity stunt in NYC this week.
It is kind of funny and the typical “shock” move for this company, but the buzz this has sparked about “trimming the hedges” has been very entertaining.
Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake(s). Luckily, after being home for winter break, I returned to New Hampshire just hours before it struck. I don’t have any memories (other than the pictures that hit close to home) to write about, like people who were here in town that early morning. I do know that I hate earthquakes and even a 3.0 scares me. This one was a 6.7 (with a couple of 6.0 aftershocks). While this earthquake crippled the San Fernando Valley due to infrastructure damage, in reality we were very lucky. In comparison to the more recent quakes along the Pacific Plate (8s and 9s), we were given a wake up call without total destruction. The damage that was done caused for stricter building codes that included earthquake reinforcements. Although, when you think about the damage a 6.7 did, an 8 or a 9 is so frighteningly strong, these safeguards probably won’t make much of a difference.
Ya know, it’s not that I’m not outraged over the Chris Christie/New Jersey road closure scandal, but it’s getting to the point that I’m no longer surprised about the government’s actions. Whether the governor of New Jersey had any knowledge of the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge (one of the most traveled bridges in the country) or not, this was a purposely orchestrated closure out of spite, out of revenge. The thing is, it didn’t REALLY cause problems for the mayor of the town it was meant for. No, it affected the regular people of the town, the people who were late for work, the kids who were late for school, and anyone who needed emergency vehicles – one death is under investigation. At this point, I’m most frustrated that the people in charge continue to take actions without any regard for human decency. And even worse, it’s become the norm…we’re not even shocked by it anymore.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
After about a year of inner debate over whether to continue on with a PC or switch to Mac, a decision has been made.
While all along I knew I wanted to go Apple, the price was stopping me. My money could buy way more PC than Mac, and I just couldn’t justify spending what little I have on one. So I didn’t. Until a couple of months ago when I wrote a grant. Since about 50% of my laptop use is for school, I was able to write a pretty compelling argument about my need for a Mac. After all was said and done, I received the grant for 2/3 of the cost of the machine. The amount I paid for it was less than I would have spent on a new PC, so I pulled the trigger. It arrived Friday.
It’s almost too pretty to use. I haven’t even turned it on yet…gearing myself up for the PC to Mac changeover.
Friday, January 10, 2014
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Tomorrow night some friends are coming over for dinner. After making a list of the things I will need, I went shopping yesterday afternoon. I’ve decided I’m going to make a pie for dessert. Why on earth I decided to make a pie when baking isn’t really my forte is another story entirely. Anyhow, other than just a few things, I had most of the ingredients at home already. One that I didn’t have was an egg. An egg wash is used over the top of the pie to brown up the crust and also as a glue to adhere the sugar and sea salt on the top. I only need one.
Now eggs are not something I keep in the house. I don’t eat eggs and rarely cook with them. Buying eggs for a recipe is always a bit of an irritant for me. Buying one is not an option so inevitably, I’m stuck with extras. As much as I try to plan other meals that have egg, I’m not really a fan, and in the end the remaining eggs go to waste.
Luckily the grocery stores sell eggs in half-dozen cartons in addition to the full dozen packs. On this week’s shopping trip, I picked out one of these half-dozens and put it in my cart. At the time, I didn’t notice the store employee nearby so was surprised to hear, “It’s better to buy the full dozen.”
I looked around not knowing if that was directed at me or someone else. The store worker was stocking shelves nearby. “Excuse me?” I asked.
“You should buy the full dozen. It’s cheaper,” he answered back.
“Oh, well, not really. I only need one, so this one is fine,” I said pointing to my half carton.
“But it’s cheaper,” he continued. “If you buy the full carton they’re only about $0.20 an egg, that one is about $0.25 an egg.”
“I understand. But I don’t even like eggs, so buying twelve is lost on me. Eleven of them would go bad and get thrown away,” trying to laugh him off.
His response was quite adamant, “Then you should give them to your neighbors, to your friends.” I’m not quite sure where he thought he was, but in my neighborhood we’re lucky if we wave at each other. I don’t live in a community where we pass out eggs.
I could see this was going nowhere and I would be going nowhere unless I agreed to the dozen carton. So finally I nodded in surrender, “You talked me into it,” exchanged the half for the full, added it to my cart, and nodded as I walked on.
I continued my shopping, the whole time thinking, “I am not buying a dozen eggs!” And after I finished gathering the last of what I needed, I backtracked to the end of the egg aisle and looked around for the egg police. The coast was clear so I switched back to the half-dozen in my cart and jogged off to check out, trying not to look back for fear of being caught.
I’ll make my pie with one egg tomorrow and will have five left over. Anyone need some eggs?
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Over the last two days, I have spent a combined total of about 1.5 hours trying to figure out what my password is on two separate accounts. Back in the day when signing up for online accounts I used the same 5-character password for each new one. As more and more business was done online, the requirements for passwords kept changing – 6 required characters, letters and numbers, 8 required characters with letters and numbers, 8 required characters with letters and numbers and at least on capital letter. Which is where my problem lies. With each new account requirement, my password changed slightly – adding a number, adding 2 new numbers, making one of my letters a capital. How are you supposed to keep that straight!?!? So far, I have for the most part. Usually I try my regular one and if that doesn’t work, one of those variations does.
However, this summer when I moved from cable TV to satellite TV and changed wifi providers I got myself into a bit of quandary when I was asked to also provide pin numbers for phone calls and account access online…in addition to the passwords. Oh for crying out loud.
When I went online to pay the wifi bill yesterday, I was asked for my password. I tried my regular one, but that didn’t work. Then I tried my next regular one which also failed to work. I started to second guess myself and wondered if I needed to use one of those pin numbers. When the first pin didn’t work a message popped up saying that after three attempts I was only getting one more before I was locked out of my account. I panicked a little…I still had three more password and one more pin option to go. Rather than risk getting locked out, I clicked on the “forgot password” option and figured I’d just have it emailed to me. After completing the form I received another message that a temporary password was being sent to me THROUGH THE US MAIL. What? And because of that, the password was reset and because of that, almost immediately, my email stopped working because the password stored in Outlook was now invalid. There was no way I was going to wait 5-7 days to get back online. Luckily, after spending 15 minutes getting an actual person on the phone, the fix was fairly painless (thankfully I remembered the telephone pin).
For some reason, iCloud wanted me to enter my password on both Apple devices this afternoon. I haven’t had to enter that password since setting up the account on the iPad. Again, I tried the series of passwords that I usually try and got locked out after the third one. This time, I was allowed to change it as long as I answered the security questions correctly. The thing is, I remembered all my answers, but didn’t remember the exact wording. For my favorite teacher did I use just the last name or “Mr.” in front of it? For my favorite car, did I use the make and model or just the make? Did I capitalize any of it? I tried various answers and after three incorrect ones had to start over. I thought another phone call to customer service was in store, however after the fourth or fifth time I figured out the correct combination (although I don’t remember what that was for the life of me).
I have a very good memory, but this is all just too much. I understand the need for protecting account identity, but who has time for it when it takes this long? It’s getting to the point that the hackers are going to be the only ones who can access my accounts. I don’t know how they expect people to keep track of it all. I keep threatening to make a list of what username and password I use for each account, but that’s probably not very safe. It’s too bad there isn’t a central place we can just sign up with a username and password unique to each accountholder that is used for EVERYTHING. That would make remembering so much easier.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Happy 2014! This time of year, many bloggers reflect upon the past year. I always find that kind of difficult. Even with keeping a calendar of the year things were pretty mundane this past year without many steep peaks or low valleys (thankfully). So instead, here is my final calendar page for The Kathryn Wheel’s Calendar Challenge…
I celebrated New Year’s Eve with an early movie and dinner. Then, in bed recuperating from international travel before the ball even dropped East Coast time. I had big plans to be productive today, but instead I think I may recuperate a little more on the couch, reading or watching TV. Tomorrow, I will be ready to face the new year, I promise.
For now I leave you with a quote shared with me…
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself. – Neil Gaiman
Happy New Year!