Monday, October 31, 2016

Trunk or Treat

There is a Trunk or Treat at Hunter High every year and I was overjoyed when some of my officers wanted to participate this year because I had never been involved in one before.  We immediately looked on Pinterest started brainstorming ideas for our theme and decided to go with pirates.  We went shopping for supplies (my favorite was the parrot) and found everything we needed but a skeleton.  We really wanted a full-size skeleton and all we could find were small ones.  I eventually found one on Amazon for more than I wanted to pay but go big or go home!  When I mentioned the Trunk or Treat to my sister Marilyn, she asked if she could participate because she has always wanted to do one, too.  I agreed and she planned an Alice in Wonderland theme, even buying herself a costume.  She enlisted my Dad's help as the Mad Hatter.
We had a lot of fun decorating and I think our trunk turned out great!  There were lots of clubs involved and we had a big turn out!  It was a lot of fun!
Marilyn's trunk was adorable!
We got second place in the trunk decorating contest!
We won't mention who got first place.  (Who invited them?)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Great Season

The Bountiful Braves made it to the playoffs but they had to face a really tough team from Grantsville.  The Cowboys scored four times in the first half and the Braves were feeling really dejected but they regrouped after halftime to score and ruin the shutout that Granstville was hoping for!  Even though they lost this game, I am so proud of Sean and the rest of the team.  It has been so much fun to watch them every week.  It will be weird to sleep in on Saturday mornings again!
Sean with one of the coaches.  He told us how much he loved Sean and how much he has improved over the season.
Sean with the head coach.
I'm so proud of this kid!

Note:  Sean told us that he will miss football but he's looking forward to staying up later on Friday nights!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Inferno

I loved Dan Brown's bestselling books The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons and I also enjoyed the movies adapted from them.  For some reason I haven't read Inferno but I've been looking forward to the movie for quite a while.  It was a long week at school with the end of the term and lots of tests, essays, and book reviews to grade so I decided to reward myself by seeing it last night.  Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, playing the role for the third time) wakes up in a Florence hospital with a gunshot wound and no memory of how he came to be there.  When someone tries to shoot him again, he escapes with the help of Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), the doctor treating him.  The mystery begins with a reference to Dante's poem The Divine Comedy and takes Langdon and Brooks to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to solve a puzzle left by a billionaire geneticist (Ben Foster) who wants to reduce the population with a plague which will be released if they fail.  Of course they are pursued by several nefarious individuals with questionable motives such as the aforementioned assassin (Ana Ularu), the head of a shadowy private security company (a hilarious Irrfan Khan), and the head of the WHO (Sidse Babett Knudsen).  As with the other movies, I really enjoyed the use of Renaissance literature, art, and architecture as clues to solve a puzzle and I loved all of the incredible locations but I found the story to be confusing (maybe because I haven't read the book) and I had a hard time keeping track of who was who.  I enjoyed watching this movie for the escapism (especially after such a hard week) but I definitely think it is the weakest of the three.

Friday, October 28, 2016

2016-2017 Student Body Officers

Over fall break the Student Body Officers had some photos taken at the Utah State Capitol Building and I really love how they turned out.  Here are a few of them.
This next one is my favorite because they wear their sweaters like this all of the time (they are really hot, especially at the end of summer when school starts).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Silver Screen Classics: Gone With the Wind

I have been having so much fun with the Silver Screen Classics movie pass!  I look forward to the movie every week!  Last night's selection, Gone With the Wind, was so much fun!  The first time I saw it was when I was spending the summer in Canada with my Aunt June.  She couldn't believe that I hadn't seen it before and made me watch her copy on VHS (she also made me watch Casablanca, Now Voyager, The African Queen, and Notorious).  I immediately fell in love with the characters of Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner during the Civil War and Reconstruction era, and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), the blockade-running scoundrel who meets his match.  Vivien Leigh is absolutely perfect as Scarlett and I loved the duality of her performance: sometimes the indulged and spoiled little girl and sometimes the strong woman who will do anything to survive.  Her facial expressions change in an instant!  Clark Gable is incredibly dashing as Rhett, yet I was most most impressed by his vulnerability because he truly does love Scarlett despite her obsession with a weaker man.  It was simply amazing to see this film, in all of its Technicolor glory, on the big screen and I was particularly impressed by the long shot of all of the wounded Confederate soldiers as well as the burning of Atlanta.  While the scenes of Tara and Twelve Oaks weren't as grand as I remembered them to be (they looked almost like postcards), I thought the red-carpeted staircase in the Butler's Atlanta mansion was spectacular.  I have to admit that I was a bit bothered by the glorification of slavery (although I did love Hattie McDonald's Academy-award winning portrayal of Mammy) after seeing more realistic portrayals in Twelve Years a Slave and The Birth of a Nation but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of this Hollywood classic.  Once again, it was such a fun crowd (I have been one of the youngest in the audience at these screenings) and everyone cheered when Rhett uttered the immortal lines, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"  I can't wait until the next film!

Note:  This film is four hours long!  It's a good thing there is an intermission!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Thriller 2016

For some reason I haven't done very many Halloween-themed activities this year.  However, one Halloween tradition that I always try to uphold is seeing Odyssey Dance Theatre's production of Thriller.  I successfully avoided the undead (don't make eye contact!) as I made my way to my seat at Kingsbury Hall last Monday night and I thoroughly enjoyed the show, as I always do.  Even though I have seen this Halloween dance extravaganza more times than I can count, I always look forward to it and anticipate every single dance as the show progresses!  I love the undead cavorting in a graveyard in "Thriller," (the dramatic opening number) the break dancing mummy and his maidens in "Curse of the Mummy," the three year old pandas in "Miss Alli's Nightmare," a pas de deux gone horribly wrong in "Frankenstein & Frankenstein," tap dancing skeletons in "Dem Bones," a trio of Jasons wielding assorted weaponry in "Jason Jam," scarecrows who are not what they seam in "Children of the Corn," a group of voodoo priestesses in "Servant of the Spirits," condemned witches who return for revenge in "Salem's Mass," (my favorite number) a group of malevolent dolls in "Chucky-Rama," acrobatic vampires in "Lost Boys," and high stepping Irish lasses in "River of Blood Dance." As each number began, the audience would cheer wildly which made the experience even more fun.  It simply would not be Halloween without Thriller!  You can purchase tickets to this show, which is performed in various venues around Utah, by going here.

Note:  I also really enjoyed the films by Scott Winn which were shown in between the numbers, featuring twerking Stormtroopers, the crew from the Starship Enterprise in a dance-off, and a group of Orcs getting down.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Denial

Sunday found me, for the second night in a row, at my favorite art house theater to see the movie Denial.  This movie features a compelling story, based on actual events, about a libel case brought by an attention-seeking historian, who denies that the Holocaust happened, against a university professor claiming that her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, damaged his reputation.  This movie also features an incredible cast, including Rachel Weisz as Deborah Lipstadt, the professor forced to prove the Holocaust happened, Timothy Spall as David Irving, her accuser, Tom Wilkinson, as Richard Rampton, her barrister, and Andrew Scott (who will always and forever be Moriarty from the PBS series Sherlock in my mind), as Anthony Julius, her solicitor who is famous for defending Princess Diana in her divorce from Prince Charles.  Each give riveting performances, especially during a heated exchange while visiting Auschwitz.  Finally, this movie has a certain timely relevance in its portrayal of a man who clearly makes outrageous and provocative statements for attention and the argument about how much attention to give such a person. I do think that the action bogs down at times, rather like the sedate British legal system with all of its pomp and  circumstance (Irving brought the suit in the UK because the burden of proof is on the accused).  There are no courtroom theatrics and the verdict is almost anticlimactic because everyone received the verdict before it was read in court.  However, the story, the performances, and the disturbing present-day resonance make this film worthy of a recommendation.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Man Called Ove

I often decide to see a movie based on the previews (I hate reading reviews before I see a movie because I like to decide for myself whether or not I will like something) and this practice usually yields positive results.  There was the time when I reversed my ban on all Judd Apatow films to see Funny People because the previews looked hilarious but I try not to dwell on that unfortunate decision.  Luckily, my experience with A Man Called Ove was much better.  For the past few weeks I've been seeing previews of this film at my favorite art house theater and it looked incredibly charming so I decided to see it Saturday night. Ove (Rolf Lassgard) is a curmudgeonly old man who makes his rounds every morning enforcing his neighborhood association's strict rules.  Throughout the movie he tries various ways to commit suicide to be with his recently deceased wife, but his attempts fail, and we see flashbacks to his life for insight as to why he has become such a miserable and lonely man.  A new neighbor from Iran and her boisterous family, a stray cat, a young man who comes out as gay, and his former best friend who is about to be institutionalized give him a reason to come back to life in some hilarious and heartwarming situations.  I loved this movie so much!  Even though Ove is not a very nice person he is so endearing!  Don't let the fact that this movie is in Swedish with English subtitles stop you from seeing it because it is truly funny with many laugh out loud moments.  I especially loved it when the two best friends fall out over a disagreement over which car is better: Saab or Volvo!  It is a lovely feel-good movie and I highly recommend it!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Last Game of the Season!

The Bountiful Braves celebrated the last game of the season with a big win over the Olympus Titans!  They got a touchdown on their first possession which was very exciting!  I have really enjoyed watching Sean play football this year and I am a little bit sad that the season is over (we do have a playoff game next week).  Sean has become such a great football player and his confidence has increased dramatically.  He has also made some good friends on the team.  It has been a great season and I am so proud of Sean and the rest of the Bountiful Braves!
Sean got blood on his uniform in this game!  His Mom was so proud!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rach 3

Last night I attended a spectacular concert at Abravanel Hall featuring the Utah Symphony, guest conductor Juraj Valcuha, and soloist Andrey Gugnin performing the music of Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff.  It was so amazing that you really should stop reading right now and go here for a ticket to tonight's performance of the same program!  Trust me.  This is one concert you don't want to miss!  I've said this before and I will probably say it again but I love the Russians because their music is so moody, atmospheric, and emotional and tonight's program featured two pieces which are, in my opinion, quintessentially Russian.  The orchestra began with Prokofiev's Symphony No. 3 which is intense, to say the least.  It begins, very dramatically, with the chimes and continues with a big sound (I sometimes wish I knew more about classical music so I could describe it better).  I loved the pounding bass drum and the wild, maybe even violent, conclusion.  I thought it was brilliant!  After the intermission, the orchestra was joined by Gugnin for Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3.  I love Rachmaninoff (and so do many people in SLC because Abravanel Hall was packed) because I find his music to be hauntingly beautiful and filled with melancholy.  I don't know why that appeals to me so much but my heart almost bursts when I hear the romantic melodies and themes.  Gaugin's performance was unbelievable (I always think that Russian soloists play the music of Russian composers better than anyone else) and I've never seen an entire audience jump up for a standing ovation faster than the one last night.  People were not only clapping, but cheering and stomping their feet as well.  It was more like a rock (Rach on!) concert than a classical performance!  Get a ticket for tonight's performance!  You'll thank me later!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hobbiton

Me in front of Bag End! (Yes, I am a nerd)
After several days in Queenstown, we flew to Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand.  On the way from Roturua to Auckland, several of us opted to visit the Hobbiton set from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  It was seriously cool!
Peter Jackson wanted a location with rolling hills, a water source, and no power lines to obscure the view.  He found a farm near Rotorua that was perfect and contracted with the owners to use the land with the proviso that he remove all of the sets after filming.  When Jackson decided to film The Hobbit, he asked to use the farm again.  This time the owners asked Jackson to leave the set so they could offer tours to the public.  Here are some pictures from the tour I went on.
I loved all of the hobbit holes!  Some of them are full size and some of them were made 3/4 size to make characters like Gandalf look much bigger in comparison.  Most of the hobbit holes are just doors (the interiors were shot on a sound stage) but there was one that you could go inside (I'm peeking out from it).
For The Hobbit movies, Peter Jackson wanted some smaller hobbit holes in the distance to make the Shire more realistic.  They are only seen in the movies for a few seconds!
The sign posts are really cool!
I loved this water wheel!
After the tour we were able to visit the Green Dragon which is a fully functioning pub.  We ordered some ale and sat by the fire!
This was such a fun experience!  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to see this magical place!
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