Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sundance Student Screening 2016

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to take some of my students to see the film The Fits as part of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.  Every year the Sundance Institute, through the support of generous donors such as the Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation and the Zoo, Arts, and Parks (ZAP) Program, provides free tickets for high school students to experience the power of independent film and I've been taking my students since 2010.  I think this is such a great opportunity!  Even though arranging a field trip can be a bit daunting, being able to share my passion for independent film with my students makes it so worthwhile!  My students absolutely loved the film (so did I) and, because it had a very ambiguous ending, they have been talking about it ever since the screening!  In fact, the entire theatre (filled with high school students) erupted when the screen went black at the end of the film!  One of my favorite aspects of the Sundance Film Festival is having a Q & A with the filmmakers (and sometimes cast members) after the screening.  Royalty Hightower, who gave an absolutely incredible performance, was there for the Q & A much to the delight of the audience.  Many of my students were able to get pictures with her!  It was an incredible experience and I am very grateful to the Sundance Institute for the opportunity they give to my students!  (A full wrap-up of my Sundance experience is coming soon).

2012
2011
2010

Note:  I was interviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune a few years ago about my experiences taking my students to the Sundance Film Festival.  Go here to read it.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dinner at Pago

A couple of years ago I made a New Year's resolution to try a new restaurant every month and I actually kept it!  Not only was it a really fun resolution (you should try it!), but I found lots of restaurants that I now frequent on a regular basis.  I thought I would share a few of them for those of you in the SLC area looking for new places to try.  Pago is one of many great restaurants in the trendy 9th & 9th neighborhood of SLC.  It has a modern and rustic design with a really fun vibe.  Pago features contemporary American cuisine with an ever-changing seasonal menu incorporating a farm to table philosophy.  I eat there quite a bit, usually before attending the theatre, and the service has always been excellent and the wait staff are friendly and personable.
I consider myself to be a really picky eater.  I sometimes have a hard time eating meat (It's a long story) so when I find a good burger I tend to order it a lot.  The Pago Burger ($18.00) with bacon, Gouda, pickled onion, black garlic aioli, and truffle frites is a good one.  I'm telling you, it is Heaven on a bun and, in my opinion, it is one of the best burgers I've had in SLC.  Pago is located at 878 S. 900 E. in SLC and is open for Lunch: Monday - Friday 11:00am- 3:00pm, Dinner: Monday- Sunday 5:00pm - 10:00pm, and Brunch: Saturday - Sunday 10:00am -2:30pm.  Prices for dinner vary from $31 to $50.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Two Dollar Bill at PTC

Last night I had the opportunity to see the world premiere of a powerful and provocative play called Two Dollar Bill by playwright T.J. Brady at Pioneer Theatre.  It takes place in the present day on an unnamed Ivy League University campus where it is discovered that a well-respected and tenured history professor has falsified his undergraduate degree.  The play opens with Bill Dudley (Mark Zimmerman) lecturing to a U.S. History class on the Treaty of Paris which "officially" ended the Revolutionary War even though the British had surrendered at Yorktown a year earlier.  He states that the fledgling country needed legitimacy, in the form of an official piece of paper, in the eyes of the world.  Thus the central theme of the play is introduced:  what constitutes legitimacy?  Dudley is informed by the dean of faculty, who happens to be his wife, that the University has discovered that he was one credit short of receiving his Bachelor's degree and demands his resignation while an undergraduate student demands that a failing grade be changed because it will ruin her GPA and, therefore, her chances of getting into law school or business school.  In the midst of these goings-on, Dudley laments the loss of a two dollar bill given to him by his father and wonders why the lack of a degree makes him unsuitable for a position he has held for over thirty years and why his student seems more interested in getting a degree rather than learning the material.  Is legitimacy based on a piece of paper rather than knowledge and ability?  In the end, Dudley finds the two dollar bill and gives it to his teaching assistant, asserting that he doesn't need a piece of paper to remember his father.  This play is incredibly thought-provoking, to say the least, judging by the many conversations swirling around me at intermission and, even though this play deals with higher education, I couldn't help but think about the pressure I am under to pass students in my classes when they have clearly not mastered the material because our school is judged on its graduation rate.  I enjoyed this production immensely, not only for the subject matter, but also for the excellent performances by the aforementioned Zimmerman, Lesley Fera as the dean of faculty, Corey Allen as Dudley's teaching assistant, and Ephie Aardema as Dudley's undergraduate student.  Aardema is especially effective as an entitled student who, at one point, calls her Dad to threaten the school over her grade.  I'm sure she prepared for her role by visiting one of the high schools nearby (said without the slightest bit of cynicism).  I highly recommend this timely drama, especially to anyone concerned over the state of public education in this country.  It runs at PTC through January 30 and tickets may be purchased here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I Heart Snowshoeing

My brother-in-law Trent told me about a snowshoeing trail less than five minutes from my front door (it actually takes me longer to put on my snow boots than it does to drive to the trailhead) and I have certainly taken advantage of it!  I have already gone several times and I absolutely love the fresh air up in the mountains.  I got up early yesterday (a day off from school for MLK Day) and spent several hours on the trail.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  In fact, the only other person I saw was a guy that I have seen on the trail before.  He recognized me and talked to me for a while and then eventually went ahead of me because he was a lot faster.  Ha ha!  It makes me so happy that I can be in the great outdoors doing things I love, like snowshoeing, in mere minutes!  I am also looking forward to hiking this trail in the spring and summer.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Merry Widow

Last night I attended opening night of Utah Opera's production of The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar and it was so much fun!  I normally do not like operas with an English libretto and I usually prefer tragedies to comedies, but I must admit that I enjoyed every minute of this delightful romp through Paris at the turn of the 20th century.  The Pontevedrian Ambassador to Paris , Baron Zeta (Michael Wanko), is concerned that a wealthy widow from his country, Hanna Glawari (Caroline Worra), has become the toast of Paris and may marry one of her Parisian suitors.  Zeta seeks to prevent such a marriage because all of the widow's 20 million francs would then leave the almost bankrupt Pontevedro.  He instructs Count Danilo Danilovich (Daniel Belcher), the Embassy Secretary who spends more time at Maxim's than at the embassy, to marry her.  The only problem is that they have a past, and while they clearly love each other (demonstrated in the "Ladies' Choice" dance), Danilo refuses and complications abound.  Will Danilo and Hanna realize that they love each other?  It was so much fun to watch.  Sometimes I think that the comedic elements are overdone in Utah Opera productions but this was really funny and I actually laughed out loud many times (as did the entire audience).   My favorite moment was when the Pontevedrian diplomats performed their own version of the can-can as they lament their inability to understand women (It brought the house down).  The cast sang (and, rather unusually, spoke) their roles beautifully, including Belcher who, it was announced, was suffering from a cold and wore a microphone.  I loved the Belle Epoque costumes (especially the black and white costumes at the embassy in juxtaposition with Hanna's red gown), the opulent sets (especially Maxim's), Lehar's glorious music (conducted by Utah favorite Jerry Steichen) and the lively choreography (all of that waltzing and a wildly entertaining performance of the can-can!).  I certainly had a lovely time at this opera and I highly recommend it!  Go here for information and tickets.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Big Short

The Academy Award nominees for Best Picture were announced last Thursday and there was only one film that I hadn't seen (see my reviews of Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Bridge of SpiesRoom, Spotlight, Brooklyn, and The Revenant).  Since I always like to see all of the nominees before the ceremony, I crossed The Big Short off my list last night.  When I graduated from college in 1990, many of my contemporaries, who were just beginning their careers and making approximately the same amount of money as I was, bought big and expensive homes.  I couldn't understand how people my age could afford to live in the same type of neighborhood as my parents.  They couldn't.  Many were given subprime loans (they didn't have to meet income and credit score requirements) and had adjustable-rate mortgages (mortgages would reset with higher interest rates causing much higher payments over time).  Eventually, people who could no longer afford their monthly payments were forced to sell these expensive homes or they defaulted on their loans which, in part, lead to a nationwide banking crisis and recession.  The Big Short follows a group of industry outsiders who predicted that banks would lose money from their collateralized debt obligations (don't worry if you don't understand these complicated banking terms because there are celebrity cameos, such as Selena Gomez, who explain them to the audience) once people began defaulting on their mortgages.  Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is an antisocial genius who figures out a way to profit from the situation and risks his clients' hedge fund on a hunch.  Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) is a bombastic crusader out to right the wrongs he sees in the banking industry.  Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) are small-time investors who want in on the action but lack credentials and have to rely on their mentor Ben Rickert (Brad Bitt), a former banker who is paranoid about the collapse of the world economy and advises them to invest in seeds, to conduct their transactions.  Wall Street trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is the ringmaster who connects all of the characters (and occasionally, and rather amusingly, speaks directly to the audience about what is going on).  The script is full of snappy dailogue and the performances are a lot of fun to watch.  Director Adam McKay uses fast cutting and montage sequences very effectively to create the frenetic energy and chaos of the crisis.  It is an incredibly entertaining film that is also a scathing indictment of the unscrupulous practices used by the banking industry; I laughed all the way through it and left the theater sick to my stomach.  I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Revenant

Last night I went with my parents to see The Revenant.  To be honest, I wasn't really that interested until Leonardo DiCaprio won the Golden Globe for Best Actor last Sunday and I decided that I couldn't miss out on such a lauded performance!  I don't even know if I can do justice to this epic tale of one man's survival!  It is simultaneously the most gruesome and beautiful film I have ever seen and DiCaprio gives a tour de force performance that is simply astonishing.  During the early 1800s, a group of fur trappers in the unexplored Louisiana Purchase is attacked by a hostile Native American tribe and all but a small group are killed.  They escape down the river but Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), their guide, recommends leaving their pelts and going overland because they are bound to be attacked again.  John Fiztgerald (Tom Hardy) takes great exception to this as it will mean the loss of their pay  and animosity develops between the two.  Glass stumbles upon a Grizzly bear with her two cubs and is ferociously attacked (in one of the most intense scenes I've ever seen), barely surviving.  The trappers build a stretcher to carry Glass but it soon becomes impossible and the leader of the expedition, Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), asks for volunteers to stay behind with him until he dies.  His son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), a young trapper named Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), and Fitzgerald volunteer and Henry exacts their promise to stay with him and give him a proper burial.  Thinking Glass a burden, Fitzgerald tries to kill him.  Hawk witnesses the attempt so Fitzgerald kills him, telling Bridger that he is missing, and then leaves Glass, who is still alive.  Glass uses his intense desire for revenge to survive in the harsh environment (where everything, and I mean everything, happens to him) and find Fitzgerald.  There are some twists and turns (literally and figuratively) along the way, culminating in a scene that blew my mind.  The cinematography is breathtaking, emphasizing both the destructive power and pristine beauty of the wilderness (it was filmed primarily in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada) and the score is innovative, haunting, and intense.  As previously mentioned, DiCaprio is outstanding is this physically demanding (to say the least) role, totally immersing himself into the world of a frontiersman.  Hardy and Gleeson, who is having quite the year (go here and here), also give memorable performances.  This film is not for the faint of heart (I actually had to turn away in one of the more graphic scenes) but it is certainly a not-to-be-missed adventure.

Note:  I have seen most of the films that are likely to be nominated for Academy Awards and, in my opinion, there is not a performance to equal DiCaprio's.  Not even close.  They might as well just give him the Oscar.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Memory Keeping

I have always been someone who enjoys preserving memories.  During my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood I painstakingly placed all of my photos, newspaper clippings, awards, ticket stubs, playbills, invitations, and cards in giant albums every month.  I kept everything!  I also started traveling overseas nearly every year after I graduated from college and each of these trips warranted another giant scrapbook.  Now I have over 30 of these albums!  It sometimes seems excessive but, when one of my closest friends died several years ago, I can't tell you how happy I was to have all of the pictures and tickets stubs from the Broncos games we attended together preserved in albums!  In my 30s I started scrapbooking hardcore, using templates, patterned paper, rubber stamps, and embellishments like ribbon, washi tape, buttons, stickers, etc.
These pages would sometimes take several hours each!  Crazy, huh?  While I do love these scrapbooks and enjoy looking through them, creating them got to be too much.  It started to seem like an obligation rather than a fun hobby and I realized that I was spending way too much time, not to mention money, on them.  I couldn't keep it up and, pretty soon, several years went by without preserving any memories (including three overseas trips).  I had hundreds of pictures on my computer and piles of memorabilia everywhere (some of which I eventually threw away!)  It made me sad so last year I made a New Year's resolution to get my act together and document 2015!  I am happy to say that I fulfilled this resolution (and even documented all of 2014 and the overseas trips I took in 2014, 2012, and 2011) and I will share with you how I did it!

Project Life
I discovered Project Life (go here for more information) about two years ago and I had just ordered a core kit to give it a try when the Project Life App (go here for more information) was introduced!  It changed my life!  The app on my iPhone cost $.99 and included many free layouts and kits.  You choose a layout, drop the pictures from your phone into the layout, and embellish with a card kit.  There is even an option to journal right on the card with many available fonts and colors to choose from!  You can purchase additional layout and kit options (usually for $1.99) and what I love is that, once you buy them, you can use them over and over again.  I have purchased kits for various holidays like Christmas, Halloween, the 4th of July, etc. but my favorite kits are Honey and Everyday Adventure!  When I finish, I save each page and print them through the app.  I like to print 12 X 12 pages (which are $1.99 each) but there are lots of other options.  Since there is a $5.00 flat rate shipping fee I like to wait until I have quite a few pages created before I order prints.  Once I receive the prints, I slip them into page protectors and place them in albums.
I love how these pages turned out and, instead of hours, each one took minutes and cost a fraction of what I used to spend printing the pictures and buying all of the supplies!  I usually create a page the same day I take the pictures, literally wherever I am (sometimes even lying in bed), so I am always caught up!  It is so easy and convenient that I went back and completed pages for most of 2014 while waiting for an oil change!  Even though I do have an expensive camera, I find that the pictures I take on my iPhone 6 are just as good and, since my camera is big and bulky, I use my phone the majority of the time (I took my big camera to Russia two years ago and didn't use it once!).  It is really easy to access the pictures from my phone in the app.  If I do happen to use my big camera, I just transfer the pictures to my phone using Dropbox!
Project Life even allows me to preserve memorabilia!  I ordered these plastic envelopes from the website and placed a year's worth of playbills and ticket stubs (Do you see the one from Star Wars?) inside.  I used cards from the core kit I originally ordered (Everyday Adventure) to label the year and the envelopes will slip easily into the albums. 
I received my final pages for 2015 a few days ago and I am thrilled that I was able to complete a New Year's resolution so easily!  I have already completed some pages for 2016!

Shutterfly Photo Books
I take a lot of pictures when I travel so I decided to use Shutterfly (go here for more information) to create photo books for each of my trips.  They are high quality hard-bound books with thick and glossy pages inside and I really love the way they turned out!
There are hundreds of designs and layouts to choose from and all I did was upload my pictures to the site, drop them into the layout (I chose the same layout for each book to be consistent), and journal a little bit about the pictures.  Once again I transferred any pictures taken on my phone to my computer using Dropbox.  I saved each book on the site and then ordered a copy.  They were delivered to my door in less than a week and cost between $25- $40 (depending on the number of pages).  The first book I made took several days but, once I got the hang of it, I was able to complete the last one in a few hours!
I think they look so professional.  In fact, my Dad thought that the African Safari book was a souvenir that I had purchased in Africa!
Here are some of the pages from the Russia book I completed over winter break!  These books do require a bit more effort than Project Life but they are still a lot easier (and less expensive) than the traditional scrapbooks I used to make for each trip.  I love looking through them as a reminder of the wonderful experiences I had while traveling!  

It makes me so happy to finally be caught up with my memory keeping!  I am not especially adept with technology but I was able to figure out each program simply by playing around with them.  If you would like to preserve your memories but don't have a lot of time or money, I highly recommend Project Life (in the physical form or the app) and Shutterfly!

Note:  I am not affiliated in any way with Project Life or Shutterfly and I was not compensated for this post.  I am just a big fan of each brand and I wanted to share the success I had using them to preserve my memories!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Carol

I went to see Carol Sunday afternoon because Cate Blanchett's performance has garnered quite a bit of Oscar buzz but I left the theater completely blown away by Rooney Mara!  The film begins with a man interrupting a conversation fraught with tension between Therese (Mara) and Carol (Blanchett) and then flashes back to their first meeting to tell the story of how the two women got to that point (not a very original framing device but effective enough).  Therese is a young and naive woman who aspires to be a photographer but is temporarily working at a department store for the holidays in New York during the 1950s.  She has a sweet boyfriend who want to marry her but she is unsure of her feelings.  Carol, a beautiful and wealthy suburbanite going through a messy divorce, comes into the department store to buy a Christmas present for her daughter.  Therese helps her and, when Carol accidentally leaves her gloves on the counter, she retrieves her information from the sales slip and returns the gloves.  This leads to lunch, then a friendship, and then a passionate affair.  The nature of the relationship between Therese and Carol is the exact opposite of what I was expecting!  I thought that Therese would be the pursuer, leading Carol to completely disrupt the seemingly perfect life she had with her husband and daughter but Carol, who has had relationships with other women before, is the aggressor and she overwhelms the innocent Therese with just a smoldering glance.  I loved two things about the story.  First, neither woman is ashamed of the relationship, even in the repressive 1950s, and Carol refuses to admit that her homosexuality is wrong just for the sake of winning custody of her daughter.  Second, the relationship doesn't move forward until Therese becomes Carol's equal.  She lives on her own, begins a successful career in photography, and then chooses to be with Carol.  It is a compelling narrative that is beautifully told.  The production design and costumes perfectly capture the elegance of the 1950s and I thought the repeated use of the color red, especially against the stark white of winter, is particularly effective in portraying the vibrancy of the two women.  I loved the score because it is moody, atmospheric, and emotional.  Of course both Blanchett and Mara give incredible performances.  Blanchett is absolutely luminous and conveys more with just one look across a crowded room than many actresses do with pages of dialogue.  However, I was particularly impressed with Mara's ability to portray Therese's innocence and vulnerability (especially since my only exposure to her was as the antisocial hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  The scene where she silently cries on the train is incredibly affecting.  The Oscar buzz surrounding this movie is entirely justified and I recommend it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hitchcock/Truffaut

I have long considered Alfred Hitchcock to be one of my very favorite directors.  I watched many of his movies at a young age late at night on public television.  I had a small black and white TV in my room and, when I couldn't sleep at 2:00 in the morning, my only option was public television (this was back in the day when there were very few channels and many of them signed off at midnight!).  I was introduced to a lot of wonderful old movies in this manner but Hitchcock's made a lasting impression, particularly Notorious, Spellbound, Rebecca, and North By Northwest.  My first exposure to Francois Truffaut was, ironically, as an actor in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is a favorite!  I was very taken with his performance as a scientist investigating extraterrestrials and it was my Dad who told me that he was a famous director.  Of course, I have since become a fan of his movies, especially Day for Night.  What happens when one of the founders of the French New Wave meets with the Master of Suspense for one week to talk about the latter's entire body of work?  You get a groundbreaking book, published in 1966, considered by many filmmakers to be, not only a masterpiece, but a blueprint for the craft.  You also get a fascinating documentary by Kent Jones, which I had the chance to see last night, wherein he uses the films of both Hitchcock and Truffaut to illustrate the points mentioned in their epic conversations, which were recorded, with particular emphasis on Vertigo and Psycho.  Jones also interviews many of my favorite contemporary directors, such as Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Richard Linklatter, Olivier Assayas, Peter Bogdanovich, and Martin Scorsese, who talk about the effect the book, and Hitchcock's movies, had on them as filmmakers.  That they are effusive in their praise, which is interesting but gets to be a bit much, is to be expected;  however, it is incredibly compelling when they analyze specific scenes, especially when Fincher talks about Vertigo ("It's so perverted.") and Scorsese talks about Psycho.  I enjoyed this documentary immensely because it reminded me of why I love Hitchcock's movies and I think it is a must-see for any film lover.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mozart & Mahler

There was one thing that got me through this difficult first week back at school after winter break and that was the prospect of listening to the Utah Symphony play Mozart, my favorite composer, on Friday night.  I've said this before but I credit the movie Amadeus with turning me on to classical music.  I remember distinctly the first time I watched it.  It was a Sunday night when I was in junior high and I was sitting on the floor in my parents' bedroom leaning against the foot of their bed watching it on HBO.  It was getting late and I'm sure that they wanted to go to sleep but they could see that I was absolutely transfixed and let me continue watching!  Several years later I was given a VHS copy for Christmas, the first movie I ever owned!  (When I moved to my new house I donated all of my VHS tapes and, later, I regretted that I gave away Amadeus.  I received a Blu-Ray copy for Christmas this year!)  Needless to say, I fell in love with Mozart's music after watching Amadeus over and over so I try to attend any concert featuring it.  Friday night the orchestra, along with soloist Augustin Hadelich, played Concerto No. 4 for Violin and Orchestra.  This piece totally exemplifies what I love about Mozart:  it is light, airy, romantic, and beautiful (not to be confused with simple).  Hadelich was absolutely brilliant (receiving a thunderous standing ovation) and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance!  But Mahler, though!  After the intermission the orchestra played Symphony No. 7 and I read in the program notes that this is considered the least popular of Mahler's symphonies.  It could very well be my favorite!  More than any other symphony that I've heard during the Mahler Cycle this year and last, this piece has made me a Mahler fan for life!  The first movement is rousing and exuberant with an incredible theme played by the brass, not to mention the horns, the harps (there were two), the timpani, and the crash cymbals!  There were moments when I couldn't catch my breath and, mind you, this was only the first movement!  It only got better!  The second movement features a playful theme by the woodwinds and the third movement is so vigorous that Maestro Thierry Fischer lost his baton (in what might possibly my favorite moment, ever, at a Utah Symphony concert!)  The fourth movement is beautiful and atmospheric with lovely violin and horn solos echoed by a guitar and mandolin!  It gave me goosebumps!  The fifth and final movement begins, spectacularly, with timpani and ends the only way it possibly could:  with the ringing of the chimes! I loved it!  It goes without saying that it was an exceptional evening and you should go here right now and get yourself a ticket for tonight's performance!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Beau Jest at HCT

Hale Centre Theatre likes to ring in the new year with a comedy and, once again, they picked a delightful one!  I interrupted my long winter's nap (it has been hard adjusting back to reality after winter break and I have been in bed by 8:00 most nights this week) to see their production of Beau Jest last night and it is absolutely hysterical! Sarah Goldman's parents want her to marry a nice Jewish boy and, because the man she is dating isn't Jewish, she hires an actor named Bob to pretend to be her boyfriend. There is only one problem. He isn't Jewish, either! With her parents at the door, there is no other choice but to proceed (Bob believes he can handle the "role" because he was once in a touring company of Fiddler on the Roof) and, of course, chaos ensues! I laughed and laughed at all of their antics, particularly when Sarah and Bob embrace and inadvertently hit the radio (several times) causing them to be serenaded by the song "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin over and over again. LizAnne Chapman is suitably overwrought as Sarah and Bryan Dayley is incredibly endearing as Bob and they have great chemistry together but, in my opinion, Ben Parkes, as Sarah's uptight brother Joel, and Todd Michael Thompson, as Sarah's boyfriend Chris, steal the show! Parkes brings a physicality to his role that is just so much fun to watch, especially in a scene involving throw pillows! I laughed out loud, as did everyone around me, in the scene where he tells Sarah to get over it! Thompson's facial expressions (and his double finger gun) are a hoot, especially when he competes with Bob for Sarah's attention! So funny!  I only have two complaints.  First, the scene with the Seder is much too long (in a play that is otherwise filled with lots of snappy dialogue) and I started to lose interest but it is early in the run and I suspect it will tighten up. Second, the set, uncharacteristically, is rather blah and, in my opinion, doesn't really look like an apartment that a young woman living in Chicago would have.  It didn't detract from my enjoyment but I kept wondering if it was the same set from last year's Over the River and Through the Woods. Aside from that, I definitely enjoyed Beau Jest and I highly recommend it for a bit of fun on a long winter's night!  It runs through January 30 and tickets can be purchased here.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Day Snowshoeing

I really love snowshoeing and last winter was so mild that I only got to go a couple of times.  This winter we definitely have enough snow and my brother-in-law Trent showed me a great place to go that is literally five minutes from my house (I plan on going a lot).
Last Saturday Trent, Kristine, the kiddos, and I snowshoed the Meuller Park Canyon Trail and it was so much fun!
What a great day!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Celebration

If you are a music lover, the best place to be on New Year's Eve is Vienna attending one of the many concerts featuring the classic Viennese waltzes made famous by Johann Strauss and his family.  If you can't afford the airfare to Vienna, the next best place to be is Abravanel Hall to hear the Utah Symphony's version.  Last year Marilyn and I took my Mom to the New Year's concert and she loved it so much I decided to get her a ticket for this year's concert which was performed last night.  It was as much fun watching my Mom's reaction to each piece as it was listening to the music!  The concert began, appropriately, with the Overture to Die Fledermaus (about a ball on New Year's Eve in Vienna) by Johann Strauss, Jr.  This piece was very rousing and I especially enjoyed the chiming of midnight (I love the chimes).  Next, Utah favorite Celena Shafer sang "Mein Herr Marquis" from Die Fledermaus.  Shafer also gave a highly amusing rendition of "Meine Lippen sie kussen so heiss" from Giuditta by Lehar later in the evening.  Most of the concert featured incredibly stirring waltzes from Johann Strauss, Jr. and Josef Strauss, including the instantly recognizable On the Beautiful Blue Danube.  My favorite piece of the evening was "New Year's Eve Ball" from War and Peace by Sergei Prokofiev.  I kept picturing women in ball gowns twirling and twirling in a grand ball room of an opulent palace in St. Petersburg.  The concert ended with an encore of the ever popular Radetzky March by Johann Strauss, Sr. complete with enthusiastic clapping from the audience.  It was a lovely evening made even more so by the giggling of my Mom after every single number!  Happy New Year!
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