Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer Reading: The Girls

Emma Cline's debut novel, The Girls, was the next selection on my summer reading list. It tells the coming-of-age story of Evie Boyd and her involvement in a Manson-like cult in San Francisco during the summer of love. In present-day, Evie is a middle-aged woman in between jobs and staying at the beach house of a friend. When his son unexpectedly visits with his girlfriend, Evie sees a hunger in the girl which reminds her of her younger self and begins relating her experiences in the cult as a cautionary tale. In the late 1960s, Evie is a bored 14-year-old, alienated from her friends and neglected by her divorced parents, when she sees a group of older girls and is enthralled by their unconventional behavior (which includes digging for food in a dumpster). She is eventually drawn into their orbit, which includes the charismatic leader Russell who fancies himself a musician, and begins experimenting with sex, drugs, and rock and roll while living at a communal ranch. When a promised record deal falls through, Russell has the girls go to the house of the musician, who promised the aforementioned deal, to commit a grisly murder much like that of Sharon Tate. To be honest, I had a very difficult time finishing this book because nothing much happens until the expected ending and, without giving anything away, this ending is quite anticlimactic. Evie, an in-and-out member of the cult, is a first-person narrator so most of the other characters are very thinly drawn and I would have liked to have known more about Suzanne and Russell and their motivations. Cline's writing style is overly-descriptive and sometimes it is a bit too much, almost like style is more important than substance. I didn't hate this novel but I didn't like it as much as other people do.

Have you read The Girls?  What did you think?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Baby Driver

Tuesday night my plans unexpectedly fell through so I had the chance to see an early screening of Baby Driver.  This movie is an adrenaline rush from beginning to end and I absolutely loved it!  Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for a criminal mastermind named Doc (Kevin Spacey) who has a rotating crew of bank robbers (Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Flea, and Lanny Joon).  Baby suffers from tinnitus and listens to music to drown out the ringing in his ears and to energize himself for driving.  All Baby wants to do is to get out of the game so he can go on the road with his girlfriend Debora (Lily James) but Doc wants him to drive for one more heist which eventually goes horribly wrong.  It is a sleek and stylish crime thriller with some of the best car chases I have ever seen and it has an amazing soundtrack, featuring the likes of Queen, Beck, Danger Mouse with Run the Jewels, Golden Earring, the Commodores, Martha and the Vandellas, and Simon & Garfunkel.  The action is exactly choreographed to the music and Baby even rewinds a song when a conversation with the crew runs longer than expected before a heist.  I found the sound design to be absolutely amazing because every sound, from the squealing of tires to the spitting of bullets from a machine gun, corresponds exactly to the beat of the music.  I also loved the scenes of Baby dancing and singing along with the music he is listening to.  I was extremely impressed with Elgort's performance.  Even though Baby is incredibly self-contained, you always know exactly what he is thinking and feeling with just an expression.  I think he is so charismatic, especially in his scenes with Debora.  He and Lily James have great chemistry and I loved their conversation about name songs (since I have a song with my name in it!)  All of the supporting actors are very well suited to their roles.  Jamie Foxx is a hoot and Jon Hamm gives a particularly nuanced performance. There is a fair amount of profanity and violence but I think it is wildly entertaining and I can't remember when I have had so much fun watching a movie.  I highly recommend this intoxicating thrill ride!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Neighbor Totoro

I think my friend is trying to turn me into an anime fan because she invited me to see My Neighbor Totoro with her on Monday night (she also recommended Your Name which is quite possibly my favorite movie of the year).  Her plan may be working because I absolutely loved this adorable film, so much so that I am considering seeing the rest of the films in the Studio Ghibli Festival.  My Neighbor Totoro is an imaginative look at the childhood of two sisters who have moved from the city to the country to be nearer to their mother who is recovering in the hospital from a long illness.  The younger sister, Mei, is left to play on her own outside where she meets an otherworldly woodland creature that only she can see.  Eventually both of the girls have fantastical adventures with this creature and it ultimately rescues Mei when she gets lost.  The animation is beautiful with every frame reminding me of a watercolor painting; the characters are endearing and I especially loved the relationship between the sisters and the nanny reminded me of a neighbor I had when I was young; and the story is magical, portraying the innocence of childhood as it once was.  I had a smile on my face during the entire film and I especially loved the scene where the girls give Totoro their umbrella.  I loved literally everything about this film and I definitely recommend it for everyone, especially children.  Go here for more information about the Studio Ghibli Festival.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

La La Land in Concert

Saturday night I went to see the movie La La Land on the big screen at the Usana Amphitheatre with the Academy Award winning score by Justin Hurwitz performed live on stage by the Utah Symphony.  It was so much fun!  I love seeing performances outside during the summer (Saturday was an absolutely perfect night) and I am a huge fan of showing movies with the score played live by an orchestra (I certainly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone last December).  La La Land was one of my favorite movies last year (I forget how many times I saw it in the theater) and I loved it just as much seeing it again on the big screen.  It feels like such an old-fashioned Hollywood musical to me and I was even more impressed with Ryan Gosling (I go back and forth on how I feel about Stone's singing).  I also had a different take on the ending this time around.  Mia and Sebastian choose their dreams rather than their relationship but there is a montage which shows what their lives would have been like if they had chosen each other instead.  I've always thought that they would have been much happier if they had chosen their relationship but, after this viewing, I realized that many of their dreams would have been fulfilled as well.  It is such a great movie!  The score is absolutely magical and, of course, I enjoyed the piano solos (Sebastian is a jazz pianist) but I was also impressed by the themes played by the clarinet and flute and there was a fabulous trumpet solo.  The Utah Symphony played it beautifully under the baton of guest conductor Emil de Cou.  I had a huge smile on my face the whole time and I may or may not have sung along with "City of Stars."  I would highly recommend seeing a movie performed with a live orchestra if you have the chance.  I will be seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in September, The Nightmare Before Christmas in October, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in December, all with the Utah Symphony, and I am very excited about all of them.  Go here for more information about these concerts.

Note:  Utah Symphony patrons comport themselves very differently than the usual crowd at the Usana Amphitheatre!

Monday, June 26, 2017

End of the Season

Saturday's rugby games were Sean's last of the season.  I have had so much fun watching him play and I am so proud of how much he has improved.  The whole team has improved so much and they played so well on Saturday.  Their first game was against Herriman and they got a huge victory against them, including a dramatic try (point) scored by Sean (pictured above).  That win allowed them to advance to the next game which was against Tooele.  Bountiful got a very hard-won victory against them and they advanced to the championship game against West Lake.  I think this game was their best of the season and they scored five tries (including one from Sean).  Unfortunately, West Lake scored eight to beat them which was disappointing to the boys but their coach was so proud of them!
I am a little bit sad that the season is over because rugby is really fun to watch (I still find it to be incomprehensible) but football will start again in the fall.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

47 Meters Down

I have made some great new friends who really love movies.  Last Friday night I met one of them for dinner and a movie.  We had Indian food and then saw 47 Meters Down and it was such a fun night.  Two sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt), are on vacation in Mexico when they decide to dive in a shark cage.  Lisa is extremely apprehensive because she doesn't have any diving experience, the boat is old and rusty, and the captain (Mathew Modine) illegally chums the water to attract the sharks but she ultimately decides to go because her ex-boyfriend accused her of being boring.  After a great experience interacting with the sharks, the winch on the boat holding the cage breaks and the girls plummet, you guessed it, 47 meters down.  They only have an hour's worth of air in their tanks, they are surrounded by sharks, and they can't ascend quickly or they will get the bends.  Will they survive?  It is a taut thriller filled with suspense and I think I jumped ten feet every time a shark appeared.  My friend had seen it before and even she jumped during certain scenes.  The sharks are all CGI but I, obviously, thought they were extremely realistic.  Mandy Moore and Claire Holt won't win any acting awards and some of the dialogue is a bit cringe-worthy ("Oh my God!  The shark almost got me!") but I think this movie is a lot of fun.  It is the perfect summer movie to see with friends on a Friday night!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dirty Dancing

On Thursday night I saw the Broadway touring company production of Dirty Dancing and, for the second time this week, I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction to it.  I am not a big fan of turning popular movies into stage musicals but this production was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it.  In my opinion Dirty Dancing is not really a traditional musical because it is more like watching the 1987 movie performed live on stage.  It follows the movie very closely, almost scene for scene, and includes many of the songs from the early 1960s that are included in the movie, such as "This Magic Moment," "Do You Love Me?," "Love Is Strange," "In the Still of the Night," and "You Don't Own Me," most of which are performed by ensemble cast members rather than the leads.  What makes this show so much fun to watch are the dance numbers.  It is the summer of 1963 and Baby Houseman (Bronwyn Reed) and her family have come to Kellerman's Resort for a vacation.  She meets Johnny (Christopher Tierney) and Penny (Jennifer Mealani Jones), two of the dance instructors at the resort, and tries to help out when Penny gets in trouble.  The scenes where the dancers perform for the guests are quite thrilling and I was especially impressed by Jones.  The scenes where Johnny tries to teach Baby the routine so she can stand in for Penny to keep their jobs at another resort are hilarious.  I especially loved how they staged the scenes of them practicing the lift in the water.  That elicited much laughter from the audience.  The final scene where Baby and Johnny dance to "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" was definitely a crowd-pleaser and the audience cheered when Johnny said, "No one puts Baby in a corner."  They also cheered when they did the lift!  Reed is so endearing as Baby and, as I mentioned, I loved her awkward attempts to dance at the beginning (I think it must be even more difficult to dance incorrectly than to get the steps right).  Tierney is a great dancer who is extremely charismatic as Johnny and it is easy to see why Baby is drawn to him (very easy on the eyes!).  I found this show to be wildly entertaining and, if you are a fan of the movie, you will definitely enjoy this production.  It continues at the Eccles Theatre until June 25 (tickets may be purchased here).

Note:  This musical might not be appropriate for young audience members.  The dancing is very sensual and one of the main characters has an abortion.  The woman sitting next to me left with her three young daughters at intermission.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Reading: The Nest

The next selection on my summer reading list was The Nest, the debut novel by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. Four adult siblings have been looking forward to inheriting a large sum of money, nicknamed "The Nest," set aside by their father to be dispersed when the youngest sibling turns 40, which will be soon. However, Leo, the eldest, is involved in a devastating car crash involving a Porsche, cocaine, and a young woman (not his wife) who is severely injured. His mother depletes "The Nest" to cover expenses and to pay off the young woman to avoid a scandal.  This sends the other siblings, Jack, Beatrice, and Melody, into a tailspin because they are in financial difficulties and have been counting on receiving their inheritance to bail them out. I found all of these characters to be self-absorbed, selfish, and unlikable and they spend the entire novel whining about losing some unearned and undeserved money. By the end of the novel I didn't even care about what happened to any of them but I was infuriated that Leo seemed to get away with it without any consequences. Even though the three younger siblings deal with the loss of their inheritance, there is absolutely no character development from the beginning of the novel to the end. I was actually more interested in some of the minor characters (there are a lot of them) but the resolution of their stories seemed very rushed to me. I think the story is very mediocre and, as I mentioned, I lost interest very quickly. Like other novels which seem to be lauded by the critics, I wonder if I've read the same thing.

Have you read The Nest?  What did you think?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cars 3

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the Cars franchise and I definitely did not expect to love Cars 3, Pixar's latest installment, but I did.  I loved the story of redemption and the character of Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) really resonated with me.  Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) continues racing on the Piston Cup circuit when a younger and more technologically advanced car named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) emerges on the scene and begins beating him.  In the final race of the season, Lightening tries to overtake Storm but he loses control and is involved in a devastating crash.  Many think his career is over and it is even suggested that he start endorsing products for his sponsor, Rust-eze.  But Lightning doesn't want to give up.  He is assigned a trainer, the aforementioned Cruz Ramirez, and uses a state of the art facility to get back in racing form.  When this doesn't help him get any faster, Lightening, along with Cruz, goes back to his roots and seeks out Smokey (Chris Cooper), who mentored Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), for some unconventional training.  I will not give away the ending of Lightning's race but I will say that it is brilliant.  I was not expecting the outcome and it literally had everyone in my screening cheering out loud!  The theme of youth vs. experience, while not especially original, is very well developed and I really loved the message that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.  Cruz is a wonderful role model for girls and I found myself willing to suspend my disbelief in not only an anthropomorphic car world (in a way I couldn't in the first two movies) but also one with gender stereotypes that need to be overcome.  Finally, I loved the dazzling animation, especially during the Piston Cup races.  I'm not often surprised by my response to a movie, but in this case, I was pleasantly surprised.  I enjoyed it and I recommend it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

La Boheme in San Francisco

The main reason I wanted to go to San Francisco was so that I could see La Boheme, one of my very favorite operas, performed by one of the best opera companies in the world.  It has been on my bucket list for a long time (I have a ticket to Rigoletto at the Vienna Staatsoper next summer and I hope to be able to see an opera at the Met some day as well) and I've been looking forward to it for weeks.  It was a magnificent production!  I really enjoyed the performances and the doomed love story was very affecting.  Marcello (Audin Iverson), a painter, and Rodolfo (Arturo Chacon-Cruz), a poet, are penniless and live a hand-to-mouth existence in a Parisian garret.  One evening their neighbor Mimi (Erika Grimaldi) knocks on the door looking for a light for her candle.  She faints from breathlessness (she is suffering from consumption) and Rodolfo catches her in his arms. They soon fall madly in love.  Marcello, Rodolfo, and Mimi meet friends at Cafe Momus in the Latin Quarter on Christmas Eve.  Marcello sees an old lover, Musetta (Ellie Dehn), with her new suitor Alcindoro (Dale Travis), a rich old man, and she tries desperately to get Marcello's attention.  Musetta eventually leaves with Marcello, leaving the bill for Alcindoro!  After a few months, Marcello is jealous of Musetta's flirtation with other men and Rodolfo is guilty because he feels he is endangering Mimi's life with his poverty so the couples separate.  Later Musetta brings a dying Mimi to the garret because she is desperate to see Rodolfo.  Marcello, Musetta, and their friends go for the doctor but Mimi eventually dies in Rodolfo's arms.  What could be more romantic?  I loved every one of the actors who all sung their roles beautifully.  I had tears in my eyes after almost every duet and aria (except when I was laughing).  I loved the staging, especially the scene where Musetta is flirting with Marcello as she is having dinner with Alcindoro at the same time.  The costumes and scenery were all amazing.  The Cafe Momus was a lot of fun with hanging lights and I loved Musetta's pink dresses, especially against the dark tones of the rest of the costumes.  By the end of the opera I was completely overcome and the gentleman sitting next to me leaned over and said, "It was good, wasn't it?"  Yes, it was!  I am so glad I had the opportunity to see such a wonderful production!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

24 Hours in San Francisco

Last week I took a really quick trip to San Francisco to see the opera La Boheme and it was so much fun.  I had a JetBlue credit that was going to expire and I decided on San Francisco because I've always wanted to see a production of the San Francisco Opera, which is considered to be one of the top opera companies in the world.  Even though I only had literally 24 hours hours in the city, I got to see a bit.  When I have a short time in a city I've never been to before, I like to take a hop on/hop off bus to see as much of the city as I can.
I got on the bus at Alamo Square and had a great view of the Painted Ladies, the beautiful Victorian houses that line the street.
Haight Ashbury.  This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love!
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Everyone kept telling me that this was the perfect time to visit San Francisco because it was so clear.  Usually the city is shrouded in fog and it is rare to get such a good view of the bridge.
Views of the bridge as we drove across it.
Chinatown.
Coit Tower in the background.
Fisherman's Wharf was a great place to get off the bus and wander around.
The Hard Rock Cafe at Pier 39.  I started the tradition of collecting a pin from the Hard Rock Cafe in any city that I visit.  I have hundreds of them.
The Transamerica Pyramid.
Union Square.
City Hall.  Thursday night it was lit up in blue and yellow to celebrate the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA Championship.
My hotel was in the Civic Center near the opera house.  There were lots of great places to eat there and then I attended a magnificent performance of La Boheme (more about that).  I left San Francisco the next morning and, even though it was a quick trip, I really enjoyed it!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Hard Day's Night

I think most of you know by now that I absolutely love the Beatles and I have seen A Hard Day's Night more times than I can count.  However, I have never seen it on the big screen (how I wish that I had been alive in 1964 to see this when it first premiered) until it was screened as part of Salt Lake Film Society's classic musicals series last Tuesday.  To say that I was excited to see it on the big screen would be an understatement and I definitely sang along (I was not alone but I was the youngest person in the audience).  This movie stars the Beatles and it is basically an extended music video featuring their songs with the thinnest of narratives tying them together (they are traveling from Liverpool to London to tape an appearance on a TV show).  But it matters not because it is the Beatles.  The Beatles!  I found it to be quite amusing because it features the witty banter the lads are known for ("Are you a mod or a rocker?" "I'm a mocker.") and there is a running gag with Paul's grandfather getting into trouble and the lads escaping from their managers.  I also thought the cinematography was quite innovative with lots of different angles.  But, of course, what makes this film so much fun is the music including the title track, "I Should Have Known Better," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "All My Loving," "If I Fell," "Can't Buy Me Love," "And I Love Her," "Tell Me Why," and "She Loves You."  I just loved every minute and it is a must see if you are a fan of the Beatles.  Go here for a full schedule of films being screened as part of this series.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

I am so enjoying the classic musical series being screened by the Salt Lake Film Society this summer.  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a film that I have wanted to see for quite a while because I read that Damien Chazelle used it for inspiration for La La Land.  I was able to see it on Tuesday and I absolutely loved it.  The whole movie is sung, much like an opera, and all of the music was vaguely familiar to me (even though the lyrics are in French).  Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve), a 17-year-old girl who works in an umbrella shop in Cherbourg, is in love with Guy (Nico Castelnuovo), a young man who works in a garage.  Her mother (Anne Vernon) disapproves of the romance but they want to get married.  When Guy is conscripted into the army to fight in Algeria, Genevieve is heartbroken but vows to wait for him.  She soon discovers that she is pregnant and, when Guy's letters become less frequent, her mother urges her to marry a wealthy businessman (Marc Michel) which she eventually does.  It turns out that Guy was wounded and when he returns to Cherbourg, he marries someone else and fulfills his dream of opening his own garage.  At the end of the film, Genevieve returns to Cherbourg and she and Guy share a heartbreaking reunion.  I actually liked this film more than La La Land because both Deneuve and Castelnuovo are amazing singers (much better than both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) and they drew me into their doomed romance with the intensity of their performances.  It was intriguing to see a young Catherine Deneuve, who is such an icon, in one of her first movies.  This movie is beautiful, but so sad, and I absolutely loved it.  I definitely recommend it, especially if you are a fan of La La Land.  Go here for a full schedule of movies in this series.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fiddler on the Roof

I love Fiddler on the Roof.  I have seen it performed on the stage countless times and I even played Fruma Sarah in a production.  But, for me, the definitive version is the 1971 film.  I even judge every Tevye that I see on stage by Topol's performance in the film.  I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that it was being screened as one of Salt Lake Film Society's classic musicals and I was able to see it on the big screen Monday night.  It tells the well known story of a poor Jewish milkman named Tevye trying to hold onto his traditions in pre-revolutionary Russia.  All of the songs are so familiar and I may or may not have sung along with the actors, especially during "Tevye's Dream."  What I love about the film, as opposed to the stage musical, is the scale.  I really love the big sweeping shots of the vast landscape and I love all of the big production numbers with hundreds of extras.  I especially enjoyed "Tradition" with so many papas, mamas, sons, and daughters, the fun choreography in "To Life," and the wedding scene when all of the townspeople walk to the canopy with candles.  Topol gives such an iconic performance as Tevye and I laughed out loud during his rendition of "If I Was A Rich Man."  I was filled with so much nostalgia watching this film because I remember watching it at my Grandma's house.  It was such a fun crowd at the Broadway and I was definitely not the only one singing out loud.  Go here for a full schedule of films being screened as part of this series.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer Reading: My Name is Lucy Barton

The next selection on my summer reading list was My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. My former book club read Strout's The Burgess Boys and I thought it was fascinating. This novel is very nonlinear beginning with Lucy Barton's extended stay in the hospital for an unexplained illness with flashbacks to her difficult childhood and glimpses of her future as a successful novelist. For five days during her hospital stay her estranged mother comes to visit and, through trivial conversations about the people back home, the two of them reconnect. There are vague references to the debilitating poverty suffered by the family and hints about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and, while nothing is really resolved between Clara and her mother, Clara begins to come to terms with her past and it is assumed that she uses her experiences in her writing. While I was reading this short novel I kept wishing that more would happen (it is definitely more character driven than plot driven) but upon reflection I view it is a poignant masterpiece. Lucy is an incredibly sympathetic character and I found her descriptions of her childhood to be very affecting, especially when she describes staying at school to do her homework because it was warm. That really made me think about the students who linger in my classroom after school. Strout's writing is very understated but it really packs an emotional punch.  It took me a little while to wrap my head around this novel but once I did it really resonated with me.  I highly recommend it!

Have you read My Name is Lucy Barton?  What did you think?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Day at the Clark Planetarium

Since Sean and I had to leave the zoo earlier than planned, we decided to visit Clark Planetarium which is probably Sean's favorite place.  We have been here many times before but there have been some renovations with some new exhibits added.  Sean was in heaven!  The really great thing about the planetarium is that all of the exhibits are free of charge.  There are Earth exhibits about water, wind, volcanoes, and earthquakes; moon exhibits including actual moon rocks, the phases of the moon, and lunar landings; and space exhibits about planets, black holes, and gravity.  Sean really likes playing with the tornado simulator, the gravity floor, and the lunar landing video game.  He could spend hours and hours here.  You can also buy tickets ($7.00) to see 3D movies about the Earth and space in the IMAX theater and star shows in the Dome theater.  While Sean and I were there we saw a show in the IMAX theater called "Amazon Adventure" which was absolutely fascinating.  Clark Planetarium is not just fun for kids.  I like visiting in the evening to see laser shows set to music.  You can go here to find out more information about all of the activities and shows at the planetarium.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Day at Utah's Hogle Zoo

Sean asked me if I could spend some time with him this week so I decided to take him to the zoo on Monday.  Unfortunately, it was really windy and rainy so we didn't stay as long as we wanted to but we had a lot of fun.  I hadn't been there for a long time so I hadn't seen the new African savanna enclosures for the giraffes, zebras, and lions.  There was a new baby zebra which had been born in April and it was so cute (she doesn't have a name yet).  My favorite is the elephant enclosure which houses Christie and her baby Zuri.  Zuri has grown a lot since my last visit to the zoo!  We also went to the Great Ape house and, luckily, some of them were playing outside which was fun to see.  We finally made it to the Asian highlands enclosure to see the tigers Kazek and Cila.  There were lots of animals that we weren't able to see but the rain got to be too much for us to handle and we left after grabbing some lunch at the Oasis Cafe.  There are lots of things to do at the zoo such as the carousel and the train and I have to admit that I am a little bit sad that Sean doesn't like to ride the carousel any more!  Hogle Zoo is a wonderful place to visit (when it is not raining) for children and adults.  Go here for more information about hours and admission.

Note:  Currently the zoo has a fun exhibit called Bugzillas with larger than life animatronic bugs throughout the zoo.  Sean really liked the tarantula.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Some Like It Hot

Sunday afternoon I got to see Some Like It Hot for the first time on the big screen and it was an absolute hoot!  This makes two Marilyn Monroe comedies this month!  Two musicians, Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), go on the run after witnessing a mob hit in Chicago.  They disguise themselves as women, Josephine and Daphne, to join and all-female band engaged for six weeks at a hotel in Miami.  Once they get there, they face a new set of problems:  Joe falls for the vocalist in the band, Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), and Jerry becomes the object of affection of millionaire Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown).  Chaos ensues, especially when the mobsters they are running from show up in Miami for a convention.  This is a typical Billy Wilder farce with lots of physical comedy and sharp and witty dialogue.  All three lead actors give fabulous performances and I was especially impressed, once again, with Marilyn Monroe.  I laughed out loud so many times and my favorite scenes were when Jerry as Daphne wonders why men like her because she isn't pretty, when Joe impersonates Cary Grant the heir to Shell Oil in order to woo Sugar, when Sugar sings "I Want to Be Loved by You," when Jerry as Daphne tells Joe that she is engaged, and when Jerry as Daphne does the tango with Osgood.  It is just so funny watching Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon try to act like women!  Now I know why it is considered to be one of the best comedies of all time!  You have another chance to see this on the big screen June 14.  Go here for details.

Monday, June 12, 2017

My Cousin Rachel

Saturday night I met my friend Rachel to see My Cousin Rachel, the latest film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel of the same name.  It is a psychological thriller which centers on Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin), an orphan who has been raised by his cousin Ambrose on a large estate in Cornwall.  After Ambrose dies mysteriously in Italy, his widow Rachel (Rachel Weisz) comes to visit the estate.  Philip blames Rachel for Ambrose's death because of some cryptic letters that Ambrose sent accusing Rachel of poisoning him but he eventually becomes completely infatuated with her.  Philip is impetuous and inexplicably gives away the estate to Rachel despite his earlier suspicions and the warnings of everyone around him.  Meanwhile, the special herbal tea that Rachel brews for Philip makes him tired and it seems obvious that she is poisoning him like she did Ambrose.  But did she poison Ambrose?  Is she poisoning Philip?  The audience is never entirely sure of Rachel's motivations which makes the film compelling right up to the ambiguous ending.  I was often infuriated by Philip as a character but Claflin does a good enough job at portraying his immaturity and naivete. Weisz, on the other hand, gives an absolutely brilliant performance as the enigmatic Rachel because she gives nothing away and always kept me guessing.  I love period dramas, especially ones based on Gothic novels, and this film definitely gets it right when it comes to mood.  The cinematography, production design, and costumes are beautiful!  I loved the sweeping shots of the Cornish coastline as well as the candle-lit scenes between Philip and Rachel.  This film is definitely not as intense or suspenseful as Rebecca, one of my favorite movies based on another du Maurier novel, but I really liked it and I recommend it.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Day at the Natural History Museum of Utah

On Friday I was on aunt detail and I told Sean that we could do anything that he wanted.  He chose to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah on the campus of the University of Utah.  Sean absolutely loves this place and we ended up spending most of the day there.  The museum showcases the history, physical geography, plant life, and earliest peoples of Utah.  There are lots of fun interactive displays for kids and Sean and I enjoyed the Great Salt Lake exhibit and the earthquake exhibit.  Sean's structure withstood the earthquake much longer than mine did!  I absolutely loved the dinosaur displays.  I had never been to this museum before and I quite enjoyed it.  I think it is a great place for both adults and kids because the displays are very informative as well as vibrant and interactive.  I think Sean could have stayed for hours and hours.  Go here for more information about hours and admission prices.

Note:  Currently there is a special exhibit about the Vikings which Sean and I both really enjoyed.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Grand Teton National Park

My friend Rich teaches a class called the American West at Hunter High School.  During the summer, he takes a group of students from the class on a camping trip to Grand Teton National Park.  This year I went along as a chaperone.
I have been to Yellowstone many times but I have never camped at Grand Teton National Park and it was beautiful!
We stayed in the campsite by Coulter Bay in tents that were almost like cabins because they had reinforced walls and a roof.  They were pretty nice but it was very cold at night.  There was a wood-burning stove but we let the fire go out the first night.  I was vigilant about keeping the fire going the second night!  I was with the girls in this cabin.
On the second day we went rafting on the Snake River.  The level of the river was higher than anyone remembers it ever being and the guides were even nervous about the conditions.  They gave us a safety briefing that was comprehensive, to say the least.  After that I didn't know if I wanted to do it any more!  To be honest, I was pretty terrified.  I had gone river rafting once before on the Athabasca River in Canada but that was a bit tamer than the Snake River.  They made us wear wet suits because the water was so cold.
Here we are in our raft before we started down the river.  Notice that I am in the back in the middle.  Our guide wanted the two bravest people in the front as the lead paddlers and the most scared person in the back!  Ha ha!
Rafting the river was amazing!  We hit some really big rapids and we all got drenched but it was a thrill!  It felt like the biggest roller coaster you can imagine but it was completely out of control.  I loved it!  Our guide took this picture of us on a calm portion of the river!
On the third day we went on a hike around Jenny Lake which gave us spectacular views.
This was such a fun trip and the students were so great.  Some of my favorite moments were sitting in the bathroom charging our phones, making s'mores by the fire every night, an epic Monopoly game, and the Hootenanny in Moose.  I hope I am invited to go again next year! 
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