Friday, July 31, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

In July my book club chose to read Harper Lee's long-awaited second novel Go Set a Watchman.  I have never been more nervous or excited to read a book in my life!  This novel takes place in the fictional town of Maycomb, Georgia twenty years after the events portrayed in To Kill A Mockingbird so, in many regards, it might be considered a sequel. However, it was submitted for publication before To Kill A Mockingbird so it could just as easily be a prequel, especially in light of the fact that Harper Lee used it as a jumping off point to write the beloved classic.  Twenty-six year old Jean Louise (as she is now known) returns to Maycomb to care for her ailing father.  After living in New York for a number of years, she finds Maycomb to be small and provincial and she is horrified to learn of her father's views on integration. Jean Louise still views Maycomb and her father through the rose-colored filter of her childhood and she struggles with the reality she finds.  I personally really loved the story. The character of Jean Louise is everything that I wanted her to be as an adult (still as sassy as ever) and I was quite moved by her relationship with her father and how it evolved. She discovers that the man who has been her moral compass her whole life is flawed and it is Atticus himself who teaches her that she can and should disagree with him.  Much has been made of the fact that Go Set a Watchman portrays Atticus as a racist.  Like Jean Louise, many To Kill a Mockingbird readers view him as an absolute and they, like Jean Louise, struggle with the fact that he is fallible.  This story did not in any way diminish Atticus in my eyes; if anything, it made him a more complex and interesting character. Atticus is, after all, human and his opinions gave me a lot of insight about that particular time and place in history and how otherwise good people could have thought and acted as they did. I do not believe that this novel is an equal to To Kill a Mockingbird nor do I believe that it should be considered a classic.  It is an early draft and it definitely reads like one (although there are some beautifully written sections).  However, I am glad that I read it for the poignant reminder that you can disagree with someone and still love and respect them.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lady Antebellum

I'm not a big fan of country music.  I tend to like artists who have more of a cross-over pop sound like Taylor Swift and Shania Twain (more about them later this summer).  I added Lady Antebellum to that list when I saw their Own the Night tour several years ago.  Despite the fact that I am not really familiar with their music (in fact, there are only a handful of songs that I actually know), I decided to see them at the Usana Amphitheatre last night because I knew they would put on a good show and there really is nothing better than listening to music outside on a warm summer night!  As predicted, they did, in fact, put on a great show and I really enjoyed it!  I only recognized four songs but I sang my heart out on "Just a Kiss," "I Run to You," "Need You Now," and "We Owned the Night."  They played quite a few covers, including Bruce Hornsby's "Mandolin Rain" with Charles Kelley's brother Josh and Hunter Hayes (who was an opening act to the delight of the screaming girls around me) on mandolin, Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" with Sam Hunt (another opening act who was quite good), Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud," and Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine."  I would say that "Thinking Out Loud" was definitely a highlight for me but I feel like Lady Antebellum has a big enough back catalog that they could have played more of their own songs rather than covers.  There were actually some songs that I knew that they didn't play ("Wanted You More" and "When You Were Mine") and, if I know the song, it must be pretty popular.  I did like the songs from their new album 747, "Long Stretch of Love," "Bartender," "One Great Mystery," and "747,"  so I might have to give it a proper listen.  Even though I didn't sing every word to every song like the night before, it was a great summer concert under the stars!

Note:  Have I ever mentioned that getting out of the parking lot at Usana is a complete nightmare?  I literally sat in my car for over 30 minutes without moving.  For the next concert I may have to bring provisions...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Imagine Dragons

I love the band Imagine Dragons!  Their album Night Visions was practically the soundtrack to my life during a period of time when I was particularly happy and, even now, when I listen to those songs I am reminded of some great memories.  Despite the fact that the band literally got their start playing clubs in Provo and SLC, I have never seen them live before last night's concert at the ESA and I have really been looking forward to it.  All I can say is that Imagine Dragons certainly put on a great show and they sound pretty impressive live (even in the ESA where the sound is sometimes less than ideal).  Dan Reynolds is incredibly charismatic and gave many heartfelt speeches thanking the people of Utah for supporting the band in their early days.  They began with "Shots," which is my favorite song from their latest album, Smoke + Mirrors.  They continued with "Trouble" and then dedicated an incredible performance of "It's Time" to Tyler Robinson, a young man from SLC who had a rare form of cancer for whom the band created the Tyler Robinson Foundation.  Next they performed a fabulous cover of Alphaville's song "Forever Young" which led into "Smoke and Mirrors."   They got the ESA rocking (not for the last time) with "Poloroid,""I'm So Sorry," and "Summer."  I loved the acoustic intro to "Gold" (which is another favorite from the new album) and I really loved the medley of "Amsterdam/Tiptoe/Bleeding Out/Release."  Reynolds really showcased his vocal range during that section of the show.  Next, they played "Demons" and I had goosebumps when Reynolds had the crowd sing the lyric, "Unless you show me how."  It was definitely an amazing moment.  They finished the set with "Hopeless Opus," "On Top of the World," "Friction," "I Bet My Life," and a mind-blowing version of "Radioactive" complete with lasers.  For the encore they played "The Fall."  This was such a great concert and I will definitely see them any time they pass through SLC!

Note:  I always have my sophomores write a research paper and give an oral presentation on a famous person of their choice.  Since students hate writing research papers, I figure they will be more inclined to complete the assignment if they can write about someone they are already interested in.  Last spring one of my students chose Dan Reynolds.  After her oral presentation I asked her if she was going to this concert.  She told me no and then literally started crying when I told her I was!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another Day at the Festival

I started last week at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and then I joined my family on a camping trip in Fillmore for the rest of the week.  When Marilyn mentioned that she really wanted to see one more play in the Adams Theatre, we spontaneously decided to drive to Cedar City (about an hour and a half away from Fillmore) to see King Lear on Saturday night.  I ended the week the same way I began it!
Ironically, King Lear is the first play Marilyn saw in the Adams Theatre.  Whenever I would bring Marilyn with me to the festival, we would usually see the contemporary plays in the Randall Jones Theatre but this particular year I really wanted to see King Lear and I convinced Marilyn to go.  It is really dramatic, intense, and full of symbolism so I was afraid that she wouldn't like it or get it. During intermission she told me how much she loved it and we've seen the Shakespeare plays ever since.
It was a beautiful night to see a play outdoors and this production of King Lear is amazing!  Lear (played brilliantly by Tony Amendola) is growing old and decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters Goneril (Melinda Pfundstein), Regan (Saren Nofs-Snyder), and Cordelia (Kelly Rogers) according to how much they profess to love him.  Cordelia refuses to publicly declare her love so Lear divides his kingdom between his greedy older daughters and their ambitious husbands to the detriment of everyone.  The actresses playing Lear's daughters are outstanding and I especially enjoyed David Pichette as Lear's fool.  Marilyn mentioned several times that the oldest daughter is the most ruthless while the youngest is the one who really loves Lear.  What?  I certainly enjoyed this play (and a few more tarts) and I'm glad Marilyn suggested we come.

Note:  Unbelievably, I ran into yet another friend while waiting for the Greenshow.  This time it was my friend Jim (the one who recommends great books).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Adventures in Fillmore

All last week my parents and my sister Marilyn were camping at one of my family's favorite camping spots: the KOA in Fillmore.  I joined them on Wednesday and stayed until yesterday.  It was an incredibly relaxing five days and I had such a wonderful time!  Over the years I have really grown to enjoy the RV lifestyle.  You meet people from all over the country and everyone stops to chat and debate the merits of various types of RVs.  Most people are very intrigued by Marilyn's little trailer.  We even gave a couple of people a tour of the inside (even though it was a bit messy with a week's worth of stuff strewn about).  I like the people we meet because they are friendly, adventurous, and have great stories (and most of them have dogs).
We all really like the KOA in Fillmore.  The facilities are fabulous and the people who run it are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  They are on a first name basis with us (and our dogs).
We were in spots right next to each other.  My parents slept in the motor home and I stayed with Marilyn in her trailer.  It was almost like one giant slumber party because we would sometimes get laughing so hard we couldn't stop.  Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep at night (which meant that naps were required during the day).
It was so relaxing because we didn't have to wake up at any particular time and we didn't have to eat at any particular time.  There wasn't anything that we had to do.  In many ways, this has been a difficult summer and it felt so great to have some down time.  We all spent a lot of time outside reading.  I finished two books and started a third.  Marilyn even brought her sewing machine and finished a quilt.
One of our favorite things to do when it got dark was to set up the TV and have an outdoor movie complete with popcorn.  I am so glad that we got to spend this time together doing what we absolutely love: camping!

Past adventures in Fillmore here, here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Utah Shakespeare Festival 2015

This season is the final one in which the Adams Memorial Theatre will be used for the Utah Shakespeare Festival.  It has been in operation since 1977 and the first play I saw there, Shakespeare's The Tempest, was in 1989 while on a college trip.  I have returned almost every year since and have many wonderful memories of the amazing performances I've seen, including Patrick Page in Richard III and Brian Vaughn in Hamlet.  Sam Ashdown's portrayal of Prince Hal in last year's Henry IV Part One is also among one of my favorites so it is especially fitting that my final performance "within this Wooden O" was to see him reprise his role in Henry IV Part Two.
I also bought a ticket to see Amadeus and made the drive to Cedar City Monday morning in time to see the matinee performance.  The movie adaptation of the stage play is one of my favorites and I actually credit it with turning me into a fan of classical music (it was the first movie I ever owned) so I was looking forward to seeing it.  The movie is quite different from the stage play (Peter Shaffer wrote the play before the screenplay) but I eventually stopped comparing the two because this version is so powerful and I was completely drawn into the story of rival composers Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  David Ivers, one of my favorite actors/directors of the festival, gives an incredibly intense and passionate performance as Salieri.  He transforms from the stooped and wheelchair-bound older Salieri into the composer in his prime right before our eyes by merely substituting his coat, wig, and facial expression.  I have never seen anything like it before and it is repeated several times.  His agony is palpable when Salieri rails against God for giving such an unworthy man the talent he covets.  Tasso Feldman does a wonderful job as Mozart (he even has a great laugh) but Ivers dominates every scene, even when he is just eavesdropping on Mozart from behind a tall chair.  The supporting cast is excellent and I particularly enjoyed John Pribyl as Emperor Joseph II and Brandon Burk and Anthony Simone as the Vinticelli (Little winds).  The costumes are magnificent and I was struck by the opulence of Mozart's frock coats at the beginning of the play in contrast to the muted colors he wears as he sinks further and further into penury.  I loved the addition of Mozart's music, especially the operas, into many of the scenes.  This production of Amadeus rocked me (I couldn't resist) and I highly recommend it.
It rained all day so I was really disappointed that Henry IV Part Two might be moved from the Adams to the indoor stage.  I desperately wanted to see it outside to have one final memory in that magical theatre.  Luckily, the rain stopped just in time for the Greenshow (pictured above) and I enjoyed it very much while eating a tart (I ran into my friend Joe and he bought me another one).
Henry IV Part Two is not as exciting as the first one (It is rarely performed) because it is dealing with the aftermath of what has happened but I found it to be just as engrossing because of the resolution of these events, particularly the transformation of a wayward prince into a noble king and the reconciliation between father and son.  There are some hilarious moments with Falstaff (John Ahlin), the prince's unsuitable friend.  Ahlin is a master of physical comedy and I, along with everyone in the theatre, laughed out loud when he tries to get up off the floor and when he recruits men to go to battle with him.  However, I waited the entire play for the final scene between Prince Hal and King Henry IV (Both Sam Ashdown and Larry Bull are reprising the roles from Henry IV Part One) and it is powerful.  The King is on his deathbed and Hal, thinking that he is dead, picks up the crown.  The King accuses Hal of wishing for his death and berates him for all of his previous wanton behavior.  Hal responds with genuine grief and concern for ruling the country and the King finally shows him some tenderness and gives him advice.  Ashdown and Bull are incredible in this scene and I had goosebumps!  Another scene that is quite moving is when Henry V is crowned and paraded through London with much pomp and circumstance.  When he sees Falstaff, he turns his back on his old friend and banishes him.  Ahlin's performance in that moment brought me to tears!  I am now eagerly awaiting Ashdown's performance in Henry V next summer (It was a brilliant idea to cast the same actor in the role for all three plays, in my opinion) in the new Engelstad Theatre!

Note:  I keep inadvertently running into friends.  First it was Scott at a movie, then I saw my friend Marta in the lobby before Amadeus, and finally, as I mentioned, I found my friend Joe at the Greenshow before Henry IV Part Two.  The theatre wasn't full so after the intermission we moved to seats closer to the stage so we could sit together.  It was great!  Maybe I should actually plan something with my friends...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mr. Holmes

I have always really liked the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I even decided to pull out the classic The Hound of the Baskervilles for my seniors at the end of the year).  Sherlock Holmes is such a wonderfully complicated and idiosyncratic character so, when I saw the previews for Mr. Holmes, I was intrigued by the premise of an older and more fallible man in retirement.  It has been on my list and I got the chance to see it last night.   A 93 year old Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) has been retired and living in a remote cottage in Sussex for over 30 years,  He is unhappy with how John Watson portrayed his final case and wants to write a true account before he dies (in some funny scenes he is also unhappy about his portrayal with a calabash pipe and deerstalker cap in the illustrations of the stories).  His memory is failing him but his housekeeper's son Roger (Milo Parker) wants to know the story and helps him piece together the clues.  The case, involving a man wanting to know why his young wife is so distraught, is presented in bits and pieces as flashbacks.  Holmes went about the case logically and uncovered the facts but he couldn't prevent a tragedy from occurring.  As a man facing mortality all alone, he finally realizes that he should have shown the young woman some compassion and this changes his relationship with his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and Roger.  McKellen is simply marvelous as both the celebrated detective in his prime in Baker Street and the curmudgeonly old man waiting for death by the sea, giving an incredible performance.  I was also impressed with Parker and the relationship between Holmes and Roger is beautiful to watch as it develops.  The plot moves slowly; it is not a typical detective story (although there are some really clever moments where Sherlock displays his genius) but, rather, it is an exploration of a man facing his legacy with regrets and I found it to be very moving.  In fact, my only complaint about this movie is Laura Linney's inconsistent accent, although she does an excellent job with some powerful scenes at the end of the film.  I loved it and I recommend it highly.

Note:  I think my favorite actor to portray the detective is still Benedict Cumberbatch.  I absolutely love the PBS series, Sherlock, which is set in present-day.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Classical Mystery Tour

The summer is just not complete unless I see a Utah Symphony performance at Deer Valley and this year I picked a great concert featuring a Beatles tribute band called Classical Mystery Tour.  Just in case you didn't know this, the music of the Beatles sounds absolutely incredible backed by an orchestra, especially the Utah Symphony!  Jim Owen (John Lennon), Tony Kishman (Paul McCartney), David John (George Harrison), and Chris Camilleri (Ringo Starr) look and sound a lot like the Beatles and they even keep up the witty banter that the lads were known for.  They came out wearing the iconic black suits and Cuban heeled boots and sang a few early hits and a beautiful version of "Yesterday."  Then they quickly changed into the Sgt. Pepper's uniforms, which were fabulous, and sang "All You Need Is Love," "Penny Lane," "Here Comes the Sun," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "With a Little Help From My Friends," and "Eleanor Rigby."  They ended their first set with "A Day in the Life" which sounded absolutely amazing with the orchestra.  That song has always been one of my favorites!  After the intermission, they came out dressed like hippies (I especially loved George Harrison's leather vest with fringe).  They sang "Magical Mystery Tour," "I am the Walrus," "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," "Yellow Submarine," and "Come Together."  One of my very favorite moments was when they sang "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" because David John (George) was absolutely incredible on the guitar solos.  They played "Live and Let Die" and "Imagine" which are technically not Beatles songs but they were awesome.  They finished the second set with "Let It Be" and a great rendition of "Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End."  When they left the stage, I started yelling "Hey Jude" and everyone around me cheered.  Of course, they came back and sang it for me and the crowd went a little crazy with the chorus as they often do.  They ended with "Twist and Shout" which got everybody up dancing!  I loved every single minute of this concert and I think I sang every word of every song!  Seeing the Utah Symphony at Deer Valley is so much fun!  Go here to see the rest of the concerts at the Deer Valley Music Festival this summer and then pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and sit under the stars listening to fabulous music!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Testament of Youth

The first thing you need to know about the film Testament of Youth is that it stars my boyfriend Kit Harington (you may know him better as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones).  I could listen to that boy recite poetry all day!  The second thing you need to know is that it is a coming of age story about an unconventional young woman set against the backdrop of World War I, which is a particular interest of mine.  I tell you this because you may want to take my gushing review with a grain of salt!  I literally couldn't help but love this film and love it I most certainly did!  It is 1914 and Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander from Ex Machina) wants nothing more than to be allowed to study at Oxford like her younger brother, Edward (Taron Egerton), and his friends who are spending their break with her family.  A romance develops between Vera and Roland (Harington), one of her brother's friends, and when she is accepted to Oxford she is equally excited about the possibility of becoming a writer and about being near Roland.  When England enters the war, Edward and his friends, including Roland, enlist in high spirits longing for adventure and eager to do their duty for King and country.  When Roland comes back from France on leave, he tells Vera of the horrors of trench warfare so she decides to leave school and become a volunteer nurse.  As Roland, Edward, and all of their friends are eventually killed, Vera begins speaking out about the futility of war.  This film portrays both the dreamlike world of pre-war England with beautiful scenes in the countryside and the brutality of war with stark images of the trenches and bloody close-ups of the row upon row of wounded.  Vikander is in practically every scene and she is brilliant at portraying so many different emotions:  giddiness as she falls in love with Roland (he writes her poetry!), determination to succeed at Oxford, despair as she nurses the wounded, overwhelming grief when she learns of Roland's death, and passion as she speaks out against war.  Harington is also amazing, particularly when he tells Vera that he has lost all of the poetry inside him at the front.  There are so many scenes that stand out in my mind but one is especially poignant.  Vera learns that her brother has been brought to the field hospital but she can't find him.  She eventually locates him among the dead lying on the ground.  In her grief, she embraces him and realizes that he is still alive.  My great-grandfather was wounded and presumed dead in the battle of Ypres.  When his brother went back to the battlefield to look for his body, he discovered that he was still alive and saved him!  I cried during that scene.  On a lighter note, I laughed during a scene when Vera and Roland elude her chaperon to steal a kiss.  It is based on Vera Brittain's best-selling memoir of the same name so, not only do I want to see this film again, but I also want to read the book (I am currently reading Stefan Zweig's memoir of World War I called The World of Yesterday).

Note:  I accidentally met my dear friends Scott and Toni at this film.  Actually, I am surprised I haven't run into them before because we are all film aficionados and night owls who end up at the Broadway Theatre at least once a week!

Friday, July 17, 2015


Late last night (early this morning?) I saw the movie Ant-Man.  It has been a rough week and I just wanted to do something to take my mind off things but, honestly, I really liked the movie, much more than I thought I would.  To be sure, having ant-like powers sounds like a silly premise for a superhero movie but I thought it was hilarious and I really enjoyed all of the miniaturized effects.  In 1989 Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original ant-man, resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. because he doesn't want them to unleash the power to shrink organic material on the world (and he is mourning the death of his wife from this technology which he created).  In present day, Pym learns that his former protege and current CEO of Pym Technologies, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is on the verge of replicating his formula and intends to sell it to Hydra.  He enlists the help of his estranged daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who still works at Pym Technologies, to spy on Cross but he doesn't want her to wear the ant-man suit because he doesn't want to lose her like he lost her mother.  To that end, he recruits Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who has recently been released from San Quentin for grand larceny and is trying to get his life back together despite the attempts of his former cell-mate Luis (Michael Pena) to get him to join his gang.  Wanting to be a hero to his daughter, Lang learns to use the suit and harness the power of various ants.  He eventually recruits Luis' gang (the aforementioned Pena, rapper T.I., and David Dastmalchian) to help infiltrate Pym Technologies and battle Cross, who has created his own suit called the Yellowjacket.  Instead of epic battle scenes involving the destruction of cities like other Avenger movies, these battle scenes are in miniature amidst giant items, such as life savers, cell phones, and a Thomas the Train toy.  What saves this movie from being a formulaic origin story are the scenes with Luis' gang.  Rudd, while not as endearingly snarky as Robert Downey, Jr., is a master of the funny one-liner and Pena nearly steals the show with his over-the-top portrayal of Luis.  I was laughing out loud and so was everyone in my screening.  I also really enjoyed the scenes where Lang puts the suit on for the first time and falls into a bathtub full of water and then through the floor boards to the apartment below to land on a turntable.  I'm sure the critics are going to rip this movie to shreds but I enjoyed it and it did exactly what every superhero movie should do: it provided a necessary diversion!

Note:  There is a mid-credits scene where Pym shows Hope the Wasp suit worn by her mother and there is a post-credits scene setting up the next Captain America movie so stay put!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I think there are two kinds of people in the world:  those who are absolutely fanatical about the band Rush and know every word to every song and see them play live every chance they get and then there are those who just don't get it. I am definitely one of the former but we are a select group.  During some down time at a debate meet when I was in high school, a guy on my team who I didn't know very well mentioned that he had tickets to an upcoming Rush concert but didn't have anyone to go with.  I immediately begged asked him to take me.  He was surprised to learn that I liked Rush and we spent the rest of the debate meet talking about our favorite songs while everyone else on the team looked at us like we were crazy.  He took me to the concert and we were inseparable for the rest of the year.  (Tom Irvin if you are out there, that was one of the best concerts of my life!)  That was the first time I saw them live and I have since seen them every time they've come to Salt Lake City.  When I learned that the R40 Tour, celebrating forty years of performing with the same line-up of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, would most likely be their last major tour, I definitely had to be there.  I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale which was during one of my classes.  None of my students even knew who Rush was except for one of the coolest kids in the class who practically begged me to buy him a ticket (for the record, I didn't because that would be weird).  He and I spent a fair amount of class time talking about our favorite songs while the rest of the students shook their heads.  A select group, indeed.  Last night's show was amazing!  They began in reverse chronological order with some of their newest songs from Clockwork Angels and continued through their eponymous first album.  My favorite section was the middle when they played "Distant Early Warning," "Subdivisions," "Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta," and "The Spirit of Radio."  I also really loved the phantasmagorical light and sound show during several sections of "Cygnus X-1" and "2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx," which are some of their more atmospheric and narrative compositions.  All I can say is that it was amazing with an incredible laser show in syncopation with the music and at times I felt like I was floating in space.  Some other fun moments included celebrity rappers on a giant screen during "Roll the Bones" and two double neck guitars on "Xanadu."  The end of the concert was really nostalgic with "Closer to the Heart" and their traditional encore, "Working Man."  I loved how the stage configuration changed from set to set to represent their history.  At first it was a spectacular arena show with all of the bells and whistles, including jets of fire.  Then stage hands dressed in jumpsuits began removing amplifiers and other set pieces as the show progressed.  The second set looked more like a theater and by the encore it was just the three of them with a drum kit.  I loved every minute of it!

Note:  I really missed Tony when they played "One Little Victory" because it was one of his favorite songs.  Tony and I went to a lot of Rush concerts together; in fact, that was how he got me to go out with him!  He had asked me several times but I didn't want to go out with him because we worked together.  When he mentioned going to a Rush concert, I couldn't resist (it also made Tony seem a lot more appealing knowing he belonged to the select few).  He would have loved this concert!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Leadership Conference 2015

 This week I went with the HHS Student Body Officers and Class Officers to a leadership conference at Dixie State University in St. George.  I was so happy to leave the chaos of my life behind and I had so much fun with them!
We had time to plan for the 2015-2016 school year (but I think they are just plotting against me here).
We participated in an amazing activity called "Break Through" where the students literally broke a one-inch thick board with their bare hands.  We did this activity last year and those officers were very affected by it so I was really looking forward to having this group go through the experience.  It was amazing!  This year they made the advisors do it, too!  I was really afraid that I wouldn't be able to break it but we are all more powerful than we can even imagine and we can channel that power if we choose to!
Yeah.  They all have more personality than they know what to do with!  They were singing, chanting, and playing games everywhere we went which made them extremely popular with the other schools (you should have seen all of the other schools saying goodbye to them yesterday!)  They kept me laughing all week!  Also, aren't those shirts fabulous?  My friend made them for us!
There was a really fun poster making workshop where they learned some cool chalk techniques!  I thought their poster turned out amazing!
We got to see Beauty and the Beast at the Tuacahn Amphitheater.  The majority of them had never been to a live theatre performance before and it was beyond thrilling for me to watch their reaction to this show!  It was a magical production and the two lead actors were incredible!
We had the opportunity to perform some community service at the Utah Food Bank in St. George.  It was a great experience.
Our assistant principal took us all to dinner at Chili's and it was delicious!
We also had some great keynote speakers, round table discussions, and workshops and we got to participate in a spirit bowl, a black light dance, Dixie Idol (a talent show), and a swim party.  It was a really fun week!  Thank you Dixie State University for showing us such a great time!
Of course we had to make a stop at Swig on the way out of town!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Another obscure movie (see here and here) that seemed to be on cable all the time, especially late at night, when I was a teenager was The Terminator.  I loved this movie and watched it over and over.  Once again I had my friend Michael, who worked at Blockbuster, special order me a copy (he was a great friend to have in the days before Amazon).  It became a cult classic which spawned three sequels that I vaguely remember liking at the time.  Terminator: Genisys  (why must words be intentionally misspelled for effect?), the fifth installment, is not so much a sequel as it is a reboot with an alternate reality made possible by the quirks of time travel much like J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise.  Because someone (who?) sent a reprogrammed T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) through time to save her as a nine-year-old, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) is no longer the frightened waitress in need of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to protect her in 1984.  She is not only ready to fight the T-800 and T-1000 (if Skynet had the T-1000, why was the T-800 still sent?), but she has also constructed a makeshift time machine (how?) to travel to 1997 to stop Skynet from becoming self-aware.  However, these events trigger a change in the timeline postponing Judgement Day until 2017 when a global operating system called Genisys goes online.  Reese persuades Sarah to travel to 2017 where they are rescued from police custody by John Connor (Jason Clarke) and then must simultaneously battle a T-3000  and destroy Genisys in some epic action scenes.  The events in 1984 are extremely clever and I loved seeing the scenes from the original film meticulously recreated.  I literally giggled out loud when Sarah said the iconic line, "Come with me if you want to live," instead of Reese.  The explanation of why the T-800 looks old is also absolutely genius.  While I certainly prefer Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn as Sarah and Reese, respectively, Clarke and Courtney hold their own and having Schwarzenegger, who will always and forever be "The Terminator," reprise his role is perfect.  Even my unanswered questions didn't detract from my enjoyment because it is just so fun.  Having said that, the events in 2017 infuriated me!  Without going into detail, a cornerstone of the entire mythology is completely (and unnecessarily, in my opinion) shattered!  I could hardly bear to watch the second half of the film, although, as I mentioned, the action scenes are intense and I did like the resolution between Sarah and Reese at the end.  So, in some ways, I quite enjoyed the new timeline but...

Note:  In the battle of the 1980s movie sequels, Mad Max: Fury Road is definitely winning, in my opinion.  It will be interesting to see how Star Wars: The Force Awakens is received.  Also, in an attempt to downsize, I recently donated all of my VHS tapes to a thrift store.  Sorry, Michael!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Escape to the Mountains

As I was leaving my house so an agent could show it yesterday morning, I received two more texts requesting more showings.  For those of you keeping score, that meant three showings back-to-back which would require me to be out of my house for three hours.  I was headed to the library, which has become my daytime go-to place to hang out and read while these showings are going on, but three hours?  I turned my car in the direction of the mountains!
I love driving through the mountains with the windows down, the music loud, and the breeze cool on my face.  It was so peaceful and relaxing.
Since I was in American Fork Canyon, I had to make a quick stop at Cascade Springs!  I feel a little bit like Anne of Green Gables because every summer I have to visit all of my favorite places.  Instead of the White Way of Delight, I have Cascade Springs!
I had the whole place to myself for quite a while and I loved listening to the sound of the water.  It was a lovely morning!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Little Chaos

I have been seeing previews for A Little Chaos for weeks and the lush period piece about the making of the gardens at Versailles with opulent costumes and noteworthy actors caught my attention immediately.  I couldn't wait to see it!  After all of the anticipation I was left a little bit underwhelmed after I saw it Monday night.  Master gardener Andre Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) has been given the monumental task of creating the gardens at Versailles by Louis XIV (Alan Rickman), a capricious monarch who demands perfection.  He interviews other gardeners to help him and is intrigued by Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) because she is a woman and because she does not conform to the traditional (and formal) rules of gardening.  She is selected to create an outdoor amphitheater with fountains but is thwarted by work crews who resent taking orders from a woman and by Le Notre's jealous wife.  She also becomes a great favorite at Court, beguiling the King when she mistakes him for a gardener, and begins a romantic relationship with Le Notre.  Despite the setbacks, the garden is a triumph.  I'm not entirely sure why I didn't love this movie.  The performances are outstanding, especially Winslet.  I also really enjoyed Stanley Tucci as the outrageously flamboyant Duc d'Orleans and Jennifer Ehle as the King's mistress, Madame de Montespan.  I loved the scenery in the gardens and in the palaces of the Louvre and Fontainebleau and, of course, the costumes are gorgeous.  It is, without a doubt, a beautiful movie.  However, the plot is very predictable and the pacing is slow.  One of the best scenes between Winslet and Rickman (it's as if we are able to witness what happens to Marianne and Colonel Brandon after their marriage in Sense and Sensibility), while touching, is highly improbable.  A Little Chaos is a good costume drama but I think it takes more than just beautiful images on the screen to make a great film.

Note:  Matthias Schoenaerts seems to be everywhere lately.  While I liked his performance in Far From the Madding Crowd more, I found him to be quite appealing in this film.  I think men should wear their hair long.  Just my opinion...
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