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March 29, 2012

Let's Face It

I just don't have a lot of time to write blog posts anymore. Usually when I write them, I start writing, get distracted, lose what I wrote, start over again, and the cycle repeats. So I don't end up posting anything here anymore.

With the invention of the Smartphone comes easy sharing, and sharing that I can do while I'm walking to and from my car. So I don't know if I'm gonna officially say goodbye to this blog yet, but I am starting up another place to share short bursts of thought on tumblr. Check it out! Otherwise, you can always catch me on the Fb too. If you use a feed reader, you can subscribe to my feed, or if you've got tumblr too, follow me.

Lates for now!

Posted by Jeri   at 11:43:00 am | update | 1 comment »

January 24, 2012

Another Year: At Work

How's it going, folks?

Work is slightly less busy in January, so I finally have a chance to say hello and reflect back on this past year, the first year in which I haven't really posted on this blog. Today I'll be reflecting on the professional changes I've made in the past year.

I'm still working at the university. My job continues to shift around a lot. The program I was working with is shutting down, which led to a shift for me to the more technical side of things when we changed our student information system software. Now I'm a Student Information System Specialist, whatever that means! I work on a lot of little projects related to all of the softwares that our office uses. One day I might be setting up course information so that if you took ENGL110A and failed it but then passed the class when it was under the course number ENGL112 the system will catch the repeat for your GPA. Another day I might be setting up complex rules to calculate your academic standing.

I started out with the intention of doing things like this full-time, but it was lacking in structure, and as it turned out, a coworker went on maternity leave and I stepped in to help with course scheduling; that turned into about a third of what I do. Course scheduling includes maintaining all of the course information in our system, data entering all the classes that get offered each term, exporting them to our classroom assignment software, finding rooms for every class, importing them back into our system, and then interfacing with tens of department contacts for all of the changes that happen each year. I've gotten into the techie side of things and learned a lot about how to improve what we do by using our softwares to their full potential. I also joined a board on campus that reviews proposals from groups wishing to put on major events on campus; it's been fun to network a little and know more about what's going on on campus - something very important when you need to be up-to-date about all of the classrooms and their availability.

Yet another coworker went on maternity leave, and I was designated as the fill-in for reporting. Reporting is a whole other beast that involves another software that connects to our system and collects snapshots of all of our student and course information. I construct reports in some rather clumsy software and then tweak the results to display correctly. It's more complicated than most people think it would be, and dealing with the people side of things (politics, expectation, lack of knowledge) has surprisingly been the biggest challenge of all. At any rate, I'm hoping that this year I'll start learning some SQL tricks that will help me in this area, so this ought to be yet another year full of learning.

Speaking of learning, we did a staff development day aback in November, and took the StrengthsFinder test to find our "signature themes". I was not very interested in doing this, but that's probably because one of my top ten themes is Individualization, which doesn't quite appreciate being labeled. At any rate, it was an opportunity to learn more about my coworkers and what we may or may not have in common. It was also an awkward experience when I had to give feedback to some folks and couldn't think of examples to agree with their results. So the process also turned out to be a growth experience for me in learning to speak the truth honestly but kindly. Well, since you're dying to know, my signature themes are Achiever, Connectedness, Responsibility, Relator, Learner, Harmony, input, Developer, Positivity, and Individualization. My number one theme was actually the biggest surprise, because I don't see myself as an achiever, but I did learn that I like to accomplish things in the work setting and like to conquer new things, even if I don't feel an undying drive to do them.

One fun thing I've gotten to do is join the team in working on our departmental website. I haven't worked on websites in a very long time, but I always enjoy doing it. We redesigned our site for content over the past few months. Hopefully we'll be going live with the new organization next week, and then later on this year our marketing department will give us an updated look.

Well, I think that's probably more than you wanted to know about my job, but it was good for me to reflect back on the year. It was a busy one for sure. It seems that I'm destined to be in a job that is always changing and providing learning experiences for me, and I enjoy that very much.

Posted by Jeri   at 01:28:00 pm | [no category assigned], monday, work | 2 comments »

October 26, 2011

Long Overdue Roundup!

Meet Me in St. Louis: classic musical, instant favorite
The Passion of Joan of Arc: Kind of slow, honestly!
Black Swan: Crazy fun
Oldboy: Twisted but not actually all that memorable for me
Shop Around the Corner: Classic Christmas, better than its remake
Rabbit Hole: DE-PRESS-ING. But good.
Skyline: Turns into hokey and very lame ending
Secretariat: Great costumes, boring movie with a little too much feminist bent
The Kings Speech: Great movie with great actors (and great Beethoven!)
The Fighter: Misery loves company, but I did not love this generic story despite the talent involved.
The Last of the Mohicans: Good as long as you know is 75% different than the book.
Tangled: Actually quite charming!
Blue Valentine: Very sad and well done, but could have explained the gap between happy and sad times better
Brothers Bloom: Fun little flick
Megamind: Good for kids
Another Year: Another hit for Mike Leigh (and another downer despite its pleasant moments)
Love and Other Drugs: Hathaway is slightly less annoying; better than expected
The Illusionist: Perfect animated movie with almost no dialogue; beautiful
The Secret in Their Eyes: Very well done crime solver
The Square: Gets deeper and deeper into trouble, better than average
Unstoppable: Decent movie about stopping a train. Succeeds even with Denzel in it.
Adjustment Bureau: Interesting premise, but aesthetically challenged
Rango: Cute
Source Code: Interesting premise, disappointing resolution
Hanna: Simple, cool soundtrack, interesting visual effects. Effective creepy whistling
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Fun and exciting, with two great leads
Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Bogart is the man.
Cedar Rapids: Not perfect, but has its moments
The Jerk: Love Steve Martin
Enter the Dragon: Bruce Lee is the man.
Thor: Surprisingly really effective and not at all what I expected!
Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Caves are pretty, but Herzog stretches the material a little thin
Bridesmaids: Kind of sad, actually, with gross-out humor forcibly injected. Like the love story.
X-Men First Class: Disappointing, and too much Kevin Bacon
Kung Fu Panda 2: Looked good but could have used a little more character development
Green Lantern: Not bad, but not that good either
Midnight in Paris: Creative, fun, interesting idea
Gates of Heaven: I don't like to think about my pets dying, but interesting.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Down with Chicago! I actually liked it, and it had awesome bit parts for Tudyk, Malcovich, and Senor Chang!
Tree of Life: Loved the family scenes; not sure what to do with some of the rest (fell asleep in theater for a couple minutes)
Roman Holiday: Instant classic; can't believe I'd never seen it
Knock on Wood: Long setup, but awesome emphasis of Danny Kaye's talents
Harry Potter 7.2: Satisfying end to the series, although I would have stayed truer to the final scenes w/Voldemort
Robin Hood (2011): Pretend it's not about the legendary character, and it's actually a decent adventure movie.
Dead End: Classic 1930s story about slum kids/future gangsters; wonderful acting by Sidney, McCrea, and Bogart
Captain America: Could've gone a bit deeper, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Horrible Bosses: Fun in parts - Charlie Day stole the show.
Los Angeles Plays Itself: Second viewing was better.
Night Moves: Gene Hackman in a sleepy suspense flick = I now want to use his signature moves and drive his car.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights: Not as funny as I'd hoped. Very hit or miss.
The Adventures of Robin Hood: fun, adventurous, and impressive scale for such an old movie
My Dog Tulip: Harmless, a little too slow for being short. Not particularly endearing or meaningful.
King Ralph: Less outrageous than expected, but a good story.
Slap Shot: Crass and funny story, very enjoyable, especially seeing Ontkean in his youth
Contagion: Interesting, although lacking an emotional connection for the audience
Drive: Much gorier than expected, but I liked the quiet lead by Gosling
Cowboys & Aliens: A little slow and episodic, but entertaining, and surprisingly similar to Super 8
Super 8: Great summer movie, a little over-heavy on nostalgia factor
Tokyo Story: Fantastic picture of Japanese life and family
Moneyball: Great writing and acting, although a little too much baseball for my tastes
50/50: One of the better movies of the year; funny with heart, and sincere when it comes to the topic of cancer
The Thing (remake): Surprised by detail, CGI, music, and overall tone. Pretty good.
30 Minutes or Less: I laughed at almost every joke; surprisingly the funniest movie I've seen this year.

Posted by Jeri   at 02:35:00 pm | [no category assigned] | 2 comments »

March 19, 2011

Gone to New Orleans

I'm headed to New Orleans for a software conference today. It'll be my first time visiting! I'll be enjoying a riverboat cruise up the Mississippi, plenty of fish and spicy foods (not to mention beignets), and traipsing about between conference rooms at the convention center to learn about things that would probably bore you to tears: like controlling online faculty and advisor access through fine grained access rules for our self-service system, best practices for dealing in the system with students who have concurrent curricula, and setting up workflows to streamline the grade change process.

Wow, that was a long sentence. One can tell I've been listening to a Dickens book lately. I've been going through Dombey and Son. It's definitely a long one and not one of my favorites, although the other day I had a moment where one scene made up for 800 pages of relatively boring set up.

Anyway, I'll be out of town for five days; you'll be able to see photos on FB once I'm back, hopefully! And if you're not on FB, I'm sorry, I'm not gonna make the effort to post them here.

Posted by Jeri   at 11:55:00 am | work | 1 comment »

March 18, 2011

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944): A Five-Minute Review

I can't believe I've never seen Meet Me in St. Louis until now. Even though Judy Garland's a little tough on the eyes in this one (or should I say eyebrows), it's such a fun movie. The adventures of a family in with four daughters and a son in 1904 St. Louis is full of fun moments and a lot of old-fashioned music. Margaret O'Brien steals the show with her eccentric performance as the youngest daughter. I loved the color, the sense of humor, the time period, the genuine family moments, and of course, the music. Ever since I saw the movie, every once in a while, I find the title song stuck in my head. It's definitely a new favorite.

Posted by Jeri   at 01:36:00 pm | movies, netflix/tivo | Leave a comment »

March 17, 2011

True Grit (2010): A Five-Minute Review

Well, seeing as I saw this when it came out, I'm approximately three months behind with movie reviews.

True Grit is full of Coen goodness. It's got quirk, character, looks, sound, depth, and a good story. The actors are awesome, the cinematography is beautiful (and ought to have won the Oscar), and I almost wish we could have given Jeff Bridges an award this year over last, but I guess he's just on a roll. Matt Damon shows yet again that he is one of the most underrated actors out there. I think he could have been substituted for one of the other men in the Best Supporting Actor category this year for his role as La Boeuf.

I also liked that this time around, there was nothing to question at the end of this movie. After A Simple Man and No Country for Old Men and their abrupt endings and moments of confusion, this was a pleasant, straight-forward movie experience that was perfectly crafted. It's definitely one of my favorites of the year.

Posted by Jeri   at 01:38:00 pm | [no category assigned], movies, 2010 | 1 comment »

March 16, 2011

Wow

Oh my gosh, do I still have a BLOG?!

Posted by Jeri   at 11:37:00 am | update | 4 comments »

February 10, 2011

The Bishop's Wife (1947)

In 2009 I watched a bunch of Christmas movies that I had never seen, just to see if they truly were classics that I would enjoy watching each year. Only some of them stuck with me this year, so I still had plenty of time to try out a few new-to-me features, one of which was The Bishop's Wife.

In this movie, a bishop is trying to raise money for a new cathedral for his parish. He spends so much of his time catering to his potential donors and focusing on fundraising that his wife is completely neglected, and when they are together, his attitude toward her has changed greatly compared to their early years of marriage. When the bishop reaches a point of desperation for his fundraising, he prays to God for help. God responds by sending an angel to him in the form of Cary Grant, whose name is Dudley.

Dudley has to convince the bishop that he is truly an angel, but once he does, the bishop is happy to have someone who will help him with his business. When Dudley starts paying a lot of attention to the bishop's wife and giving her the attention she needs from her own husband, the bishop is far from happy. What he doesn't realize is that God's plan is to give him the help he doesn't even know he needs. Dudley is there to help the bishop realize he has wandered off the path intended for him, both with his wife and with his priorities with his parish.

Cary Grant and Loretta Young are wonderfully cast in this movie. Grant has such charisma as Dudley, and he brings so much into the lives of the people he meets. I especially love his little moments with the bishop's daughter, such as when he tells her a Bible story before she goes to bed. Also, Loretta Young is perfect with him. David Niven does a great job as the bishop himself, being both sympathetic and flawed.

Overall, this turned out to be a really pleasant little movie that I will definitely watch again. I can't say it's full of Christmas themes, although it is prominently set during the Christmas season, but it certainly does bring the idea of faith and God's plan for one's life to the forefront, which is certainly something people tend to focus on during the Christmas season. I thought it was great.

Posted by Jeri   at 12:59:00 pm | movies, netflix/tivo | Leave a comment »

February 9, 2011

The Square (2009)

I know, I know - long time no post. I'll start with a quick real-life blurb before skipping to the movie. I bought an awesome convertible chair for my office. It's big and plush, and everyone comes to visit because they like sitting in the chair. I think I'm sort of like the office therapist now, since they like to come and vent to me while sitting in the chair. Personally, I love it because it folds out to a mattress that I can lie down on during my lunches while I watch movies. The Square was the first movie I did this with. Soooo much better than the tiny mat I used to use!

The Square was recommended by several people to me as one of the best movies they saw in 2010. I don't agree with them. That's not to say the movie isn't any good - it's just one of many movies I've seen where people get into schemes that are far over their heads. I have a feeling if I had seen it in a theater, I might have gotten into it a little bit more, but seeing it on a little portable DVD player in my office didn't really allow me to get engrossed in it.

In this movie, Ray is a contractor who's having an affair with a married woman named Carla. Her husband has been up to something shady, and she finds a bag of money that he has stashed away in the attic. She convinces Ray that they should steal the money so they can run away together, against Ray's better judgment. Ray agrees and hires someone to burn down Carla's house right after she takes the money, so that her husband will think the money burned as well. An unfortunate series of events leads to an unintended tragedy, and that leads to more secret meetings, confrontations, accidents, and sadness.

What I like about the movie is the slowly-building tension at some of the key moments especially the scene where the arson is supposed to take place while Ray and Carla and their families are all out at a local neighborhood event. I especially liked Ray's character as played by David Roberts, who really does come across as a logical man who tries to deal with each situation calmly. If Ray were the only person involved in this plan, everything would probably have turned out smoothly. Unfortunately, his logical mind doesn't allow for the possibility of other people being crazy. As his plans unravel, so does Ray's calm exterior, and everything leads to an inevitable ending that didn't surprise me but was still well executed.

I like the subdued feeling of The Square, as well as the way it unfolds. Sometimes it just feels like there are a few too many variables for the story to feel authentic, but it was still worth the watch for me. It's not exactly new territory in storytelling, but it's effective storytelling.

Posted by Jeri   at 01:37:00 pm | movies, 2009, 2010 | 2 comments »

January 26, 2011

Tron Legacy (2010): A Five-Minute Review

It's been ages since I saw the original Tron movie, but I remember well all the date nights my husband and I once had when we went to the Reagan Years (an 80s arcade). I spent countless quarters on Centipede and Moon Patrol while he spent most of his time perfecting his game of Tron. When I ran out of money, I would just watch him play Tron. The idea of taking that simple game and making it into a giant effects movie sounded fun to me, although I didn't expect it to be the best movie of the year at all.

The movie stars Garret Hedlund as Sam, whose father Kevin (Jeff Bridges) once designed the world of Tron. He disappeared when Sam was young, and a mysterious page (yes, there's a pager in this movie) arrives that entices Sam to visit his father's old arcade. A secret office behind the Tron video game leads to an open portal that transports Sam to his father's virtual world and on a mission to find his father.

There isn't a ton of substance to the story, but it provides plenty of opportunities for impressive visual effects. The light cycle segments and the sets in the virtual world are all cool, especially Kevin's secluded house. The costumes are another fun part of the package; the only thing I didn't like about them was the weird segment where Sam receives his new clothes. Unfortunately, one thing doesn't quite work visually, and that's Clu, Kevin Flynn's virtual alter ego. Instead of having Jeff Bridges act the role and make him look younger with makeup and digital effects, this character was completely CGI. The CGI isn't good enough to make him look as real as the people he talks to, and as a result, some of the climactic confrontational scenes at the end of the movie lose their impact (because the audience is spending the entire time watching the lips that don't move in sync with the audio).

Another flaw is an odd scene with Michael Sheen, whose character is so ridiculous that he feels like he would fit better in a bizarre 80s movie like Labyrinth, but he doesn't fit with the overall tones of this movie.

Thankfully, the problems I had with the movie are few, and none detract enough from the spectacle it gives us. With a cool soundtrack from Daft Punk and a good performance from Olivia Wilde as Quorra, the movie has some fun touches I didn't expect, and those made it even better than just watching it for the action. Maybe I went in with low expectations, but I enjoyed it.

Posted by Jeri   at 05:26:00 pm | movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

January 19, 2011

Easy A (2010): A Five-Minute Review

Why be personal when I can keep blogging about movies? ;) I caught up with my reviews before break, and now I've racked up another 20 or so that need to be reviewed! Okay, well, I saw this one at the cheap theater with E. Here we go:

Easy A stars Emma Stone as a girl who's far too smart for a teenager to do something as stupid as she does, which is to agree to let guys spread rumors that they've gotten intimate with her in exchange for gift cards to the places she likes to shop. She takes a cue from Hawthorne and brands herself with a red letter A on all of her Victoria's Secret outfits. More and more guys get involved, and pretty soon it gets out of control. Somehow, this high school student makes all sorts of references to things that I'm pretty sure the average girl wouldn't know (I think the reference to Kinsey stood out), but it made for some clever jokes.

While I did get some laughs, the aging person in me couldn't help but be bothered by her parents, who were so cool that they never seemed to take anything seriously. At least I'm aware enough to know that I'm aging, because I seemed to laugh guiltily at their lines, while all the younger kids in the row in front of me laughed hysterically. Nothing like a teen flick to remind me that youth is fleeting!

At any rate, this was a clever little movie, and I laughed more than I thought I would, although it isn't necessarily a classic. Somewhere between its sweet heart and its dirty jokes, I almost felt like it should've committed more one way or another, but it was still a good watch - especially for two bucks in the company of a good friend!

Posted by Jeri   at 12:10:00 pm | movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

January 4, 2011

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story (2009)

I grew up being spoon-fed the musical. And like any normal Disney-loving little girl, I grew up watching my favorite characters sing and dance to the music of the Sherman brothers, although I had no idea who they were at the time. I fact, I had no idea who they were until I heard about this movie, because I never bothered to wonder who wrote the favorite songs of my childhood. As it turns out, Robert and Richard Sherman seem to have written just about every song in the book; from Mary Poppins to Parent Trap to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, they wrote the songs.

What's interesting, as we learn in this documentary about the brothers, is that they didn't get along so well. In fact, they felt so different from each other that they raised their families apart from each other even though they lived near each other and worked with one another every day at the Disney Studios.

The movie is made by the sons of these two men, in an attempt to trace the origins of the rift between them, but I'm not sure it ever fully gets there. We see how they had different passions and personalities, and how one's experience in World War II changed him forever, but all the time, it still feels as if there had to be some key event or argument underneath it all. Their strangely connected yet alienated lives are a mystery, even after watching the movie. Perhaps they simply saw enough of each other in the work room and needed to get away from each other after hours, but that still dissent explain why their families weren't allowed to interact with each other.

At any rate, the movie goes on to explore what their creative process was like. I found it fascinating to hear the behind-the-scenes stories from the authors themselves, as they explained how they came up with ideas for their most famous songs. I also loved hearing about Walt Disney and their memories of him.

One thing I really appreciated about The Boys was how much of the documentary was made up of interviews with the brothers themselves. These interviews led to some very sweet memories and touching moments; I'm sorry that at some points, they stopped sharing because the subject was too persona for them.

All in all, the instant I knew about this movie, I knew it was meant for me. It was a nostalgic and interesting look at the men who brought joy into so many people's lives with their music, and a sad reminder that we don't all get to have happy fairytale endings. Perhaps the music diverted the brothers from the sadness in their lives as much as it does for their audiences. From the fond looks in their eyes as they describe their music, I think it did.

Posted by Jeri   at 11:48:00 pm | movies, netflix/tivo, 2010 | 1 comment »

January 3, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) - A Speedy Review

I don't know if I just went in with low expectations, but I really liked this installment of the Narnia series. In it, the two youngest Pevensies return to Narnia and bring along their uppity cousin Eustace by accident. They meet up with Prince Caspian and experience many adventures together as they try to uncover the reason behind the disappearance of many Narnians.

Thankfully, the series is back to better character development, and I just loved the connection between Eustace and Reepicheep. By the movie's end, I actually got a little bit misty-eyed, although I might deny that in person.

Posted by Jeri   at 04:08:00 pm | movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

January 2, 2011

Friendly Persuasion (1956): A Speedy Review

I had never even heard of this movie until Ryan chose it for movie night. Set in 1862, it features Gary Cooper as the head of a Quaker family who struggle with the rules of their strict religion in every day life as well as the oncoming threat of battle on their home front.

A young Anthony Perkins plays Cooper's son, and Dorothy McGuire gives a great performance as his wife. There's even a nice bit part for Marjorie Main, who was always a favorite of mine as a kid in the Ma and Pa Kettle movies.

The movie runs a little bit long, but it's so full of great scenes. I love the humor, the conviction, and the family dynamics. It's a great little classic, and I know I'll watch it again.

Posted by Jeri   at 04:04:00 pm | movies, with the agadonis | 1 comment »

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I don't do resolutions. Do you?

I hope this year brings many blessings to each of you, and I look forward to all the good times we'll have together in 2011, even if they're all online for some of us. :)

Posted by Jeri   at 04:06:00 pm | [no category assigned] | Leave a comment »

December 31, 2010

127 Hours (2010): A Speedy Review

James Franco plays Aron, a climber who gets trapped under a boulder when exploring a canyon by himself, who spends 127 hours contemplating life, escape, and the amputation of his own arm with a very dull knife.

This movie is directed by Danny Boyle, whose work I usually appreciate. Here, I feel like his extreme visual style is a little bit gratuitous. I like that he tries to convey the emotions Aron felt, but things like shots from the inside of a water pouch just seem unnecessary. James Franco does a great job showing Aron's degeneration and desperation.

If you have heard that "the" scene is difficult to watch, honestly, I don't think it was. The editing is very smart and distracts the audience from connecting too closely with Aron's pain. I actually had a harder time watching the scene where he resorts to drinking his own urine.

Posted by Jeri   at 03:50:00 pm | [no category assigned], movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

December 30, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One (2010): A Speedy Review

Harry Potter and his friends need to defeat Voldemort. They are on the run, on their own, trying to locate horcruxes to destroy them and take him down. They spend many days not knowing what they're doing, many days feeling lonely, and many days feeling hopeless. This first part of the final chapter in the Harry Potter series shows us just how serious things have become, and the gravity of the situation is balanced well with some sweet scenes between key characters.

The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. In fact, I think it may be in my top ten of the year. I may look back and laugh at that statement one day, but for now, it's how I feel. I just listened to the audio books of the entire Harry Potter series in the past couple of months, and when I went to see the movie, despite the differences, it just captures the real character development and themes of the books perfectly.

There's a dancing scene between Harry and Hermione that just might be my favorite scene from the movies this year (and it doesn't hurt that it's set to a Nick Cave song!). Loved it.

Posted by Jeri   at 03:41:00 pm | movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

December 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Eleven years ago today, Ric took me to the beach at night and awkwardly brought up the subject of dating. We've been together ever since, and I love him to pieces. I didn't like having to reset the counter when we got married, because it took almost four years off of our history together. So here's to eleven years together!

Posted by Jeri   at 03:47:00 pm | [no category assigned] | Leave a comment »

December 28, 2010

Waiting for Superman (2010): A Speedy Review

Wow, the education system obviously isn't working, and I'm sorry, but unions don't seem to be helping. Waiting for Superman exposes all sorts of issues with why American students don't know as much as they should, as well as follows the plight of several students who want to be placed in good schools but have the odds against them.

The documentary interviews a lot of kids and people who work in the school system, and focuses more on the problems than on solutions, but perhaps that's because the problems seem to be what are blocking the solutions in the first place. It looks pretty bleak, and the documentary doesn't necessarily make one feel like he or she can leave the theater and do something about the situation. I'm not sure what to do with the info I've learned. All I know is that I still hate unions.

Posted by Jeri   at 03:33:00 pm | movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

December 27, 2010

Salt (2010): A Speedy Review

E and I went to see Salt at the cheap theater together. I was in the mood for an action flick. This one stars Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent who has been accused of being a Russian spy. The movie keeps us guessing as to her allegiances as it continues, and as a result, there's no real personal connection with the protagonist. However, the movie is packed with some cool action sequences. I enjoyed some of the creative ways Evelyn gets out of situations.

E and I did laugh a bit at some of the editing choices, though. There was one bit at the end that looked like a cheesy wrestling move, and for some reason they decided to show it in slow-mo. What the?! It was a fun ride, though, and it another Salt movie gets made, I'll check it out - at the cheap theater, again.

Posted by Jeri   at 03:29:00 pm | [no category assigned], movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

December 26, 2010

The Virgin Spring (1960): A Speedy Review

This may be one of Bergman's sadder movies, but somehow it felt like a breath of fresh air after all the others I've been watching lately, quite possibly because it's so straightforward.

Set in the 14th century, the movie is about a young girl named Karin (there's that name again) who is the daughter of a wealthy landowner who is raped and killed on her way to take candles to church in her finest attire. When her killers happen to knock on her parents' door to beg for shelter, it's only a matter of time until her parents realize what has happened.

Yet again, Max von Sydow is the man. I'm not really sure I need to say it anymore, but he really is. I loved his performance movie, which is basically what makes this one of my favorite Bergmans to date. However, I'm taking a very long break from Bergman. I'm finding myself sad, confused, and irritated after many of them, and honestly, I could use some happier endings to my movies of late.

Posted by Jeri   at 03:22:00 pm | [no category assigned], movies, netflix/tivo | Leave a comment »

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

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It's been a rough season for me this year, despite all the blessings around me. Honestly, even though I've had fun at all the Christmas events, my heart hasn't been in any of it. But I'm grateful for my Savior and what his birth means for me, and I wish you all His blessings this Christmas and in the coming year. Now enjoy some Bing and Bowie.

Posted by Jeri   at 08:00:00 pm | [no category assigned] | Leave a comment »

December 23, 2010

Persona (1966): A Speedy Review

A young nurse is assigned to take care of an actress who seems to have lost the ability to speak. They spend a lot of time secluded together in a coastal cottage, and the nurse spills the details of her life to her listening patient. As she reveals more about herself, she finds her own persona melding with her patient's.

The opening of this movie leaves a lot for me to research one day. For a second, I thought the whole movie was going to be an experimental one. Thankfully it settles in, and the relationship between Alma and Elisabeth drew me in. Bergman certainly knows how to frame shots, and the ones of these two women as their personas connect are famous for a reason. Creepy, interesting, exposing movie.

Posted by Jeri   at 03:02:00 pm | [no category assigned], movies, netflix/tivo | Leave a comment »

December 22, 2010

Through A Glass Darkly (1961): A Speedy Review

There's a young woman named Karin (Harriet Andersson) who has recently returned to her family island after some time in a mental hospital. Her husband cares for her as best he can, and is played by Max von Sydow (who just keeps going up on my list with each movie of his I see); he's sexually frustrated. Karin's also got a little brother (Lars Passgard) who's extremely lonely on the island; he is also sexually frustrated. The arrival of their estranged father, an author who travels the world (reminds me of Autumn Sonata), brings new dynamics to their little world, especially when Karin reads his diary and learns that her disease is incurable.

I actually liked this Bergman film, for its atmosphere, its mysteriousness (the room to which Karin keeps gravitating), and Max von Sydow's subdued performance.

Posted by Jeri   at 05:00:00 pm | [no category assigned], movies, netflix/tivo | Leave a comment »

End-of-Year Roundup!

Here we go! I'm writing a bunch of mini reviews today and will let them publish once each day, so I look like I'm productive over the holidays!

Movies to be reviewed (and more will come once I hit the theaters over break):
Through a Glass Darkly
Persona
Virgin Spring
Salt
Waiting for Superman
Harry Potter
127 Hours
Friendly Persuasion
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Easy A
Tron
The Square

Posted by Jeri   at 03:01:00 pm | movies, netflix/tivo, with the agadonis, 2010 | Leave a comment »

December 3, 2010

Toy Story 3 (2010): A Five-Minute Review

The Toy Story movies are always a good time, but I have to admit that after I see each of them, I have no need to see them again. I like them, but they somehow don't quite endear themselves to me. When the trailers came out for this third installment in the franchise, I decided to do what I always do - wait for the cheap theater and know that I'll enjoy myself without loving the movie.

I'd have to say that the pattern has repeated for me, although this is probably a better movie than the previous ones. The problem I have is actually with how incredibly depressing Toy Story 3 is for a kids' movie. Essentially, we see a boy's toys feel abandoned by him, get thrown into the abusive atmosphere of a preschool classroom, struggle to escape despite the efforts of a bunch of evil toys, and even resolve themselves to a fiery death in a recycling plant. Seeing some of my favorite childhood toys as villains was a bit traumatic, and Big Baby is one of the scariest characters I've seen all year. If you've seen the movie, then you know that the ending is satisfying, but just as sad for any adult watching it, because it reminds us that we're all growing old and have to let go of our youth. It's one of the most depressing movies I saw this year.

I love all of the creative uses of toys in the Toy Story franchise, and the sense of humor is always fun. There's a good adventure and there are some positive themes running throughout the story. I just wonder how great of a movie this is for young kids. The ones sitting behind me kept asking their parents worried questions, and they didn't laugh very often. So, are people Andy's age the intended audience for this movie, even though young kids will probably be entertained while watching it?

Overall, I'd give this movie a positive review, with the caveat that it's a positive review of a sad little animated adventure.

Posted by Jeri   at 04:46:00 pm | [no category assigned], movies, 2010 | 1 comment »

December 2, 2010

Joan of Arc (1948): A Five-Minute Review

I suppose I should have reviewed the book about Joan of Arc I read before writing this. Well, if you didn't know, Mark Twain didn't always write about the South. Over the summer I listened to a lot of his work thanks to an avid Twain fan who recorded all of his books and uploaded them to Librivox. Librivox is such a gamble, since most of the volunteers aren't necessarily practiced at dramatic reading. This guy did a great job, though, and I listened to a lot of his recordings. Honestly, I got a little tired of the arguments between Tom Sawyer and Jim, especially in Tom Sawyer Abroad, so I decided I needed a break. I saw that Twain wrote a book called Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and, surprised, decided to give it a listen. What followed was the tale of Joan of Arc as told by a page of hers who grew up with her in her hometown and was with her from beginning to end. From what I understand, it adheres to historical events rather closely. Joan is portrayed as the perfect martyr, almost irritatingly perfect at times, but I found the story very interesting, especially how she seemed to be tricked into her own death.

What surprised me when I started this movie was Ingrid Bergman's age. While she was lovely at 33, she was nearly double Joan of Arc's age. So far, the only version of Joan I've seen that's come close to getting her age right is the one in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, who enjoys taking aerobics classes at the mall when she's transported to the 1980s. Thankfully, Ingrid Bergman is one of the best actresses of the silver screen, and what she lacks in youth, she makes up for in convincing performance.

The movie is directed by Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind) who died the year after this movie was released. He certainly knows how to create a movie with scope. From her small town to battle scenes to royal inaugurations to court scenes, this movie looks amazing. Coupled with the great acting (despite the variety in accents), I can see why it's a classic. As for the details, my memory is fleeting, and that's why this is a five-minute review. I say it's definitely worth a viewing!

Posted by Jeri   at 10:04:00 am | movies, books, netflix/tivo | Leave a comment »

November 30, 2010

The Social Network (2010): A Five-Minute Review

As soon as the first scene of The Social Network began, I knew I was going to enjoy myself. The screenplay by Alan Sorkin begins with a biting conversation between young Mark Zuckerburg and his girlfriend. The dialog moves so quickly and the two are either unnaturally quick or I just never went to college with people who were that smart. At any rate, for a movie I was going to see just because of rave reviews rather than an actual interest, I instantly changed my mind and was on board for the ride.

What follows is the story of how Zuckerburg went from college student to pioneer in social networking. It's a well-told story that sparks the audience's interest with ideas of whether or not Zuckerberg was completely honest in the process. For me, a weak point of the movie is experiencing Zuckerberg from the point of view of the people who interacted with him (all the people suing him). We see him doing and talking a lot, but somehow still get left in the dark as to his motives and the truth behind the conflicts.

Even in these murky waters, though, what doesn't necessarily sound like all that interesting of a premise actually ends up being an entertaining story. I think a lot of that is owed to Sorkin's dialog and Jessie Eisenberg's delivery as the protagonist.

The ending is a little abrupt for my taste, but it was an interesting ride. I do wonder how we'll all look at The Social Network many years from now. Will it be as relevant or interesting then? We'll have to see.

Posted by Jeri   at 02:56:00 pm | movies, 2010 | Leave a comment »

Rounding it Up Again!

I haven't been watching very many movies lately, but I do have a list of movies to review. Unfortunately it's been so long since I've seen some of them that my impressions aren't very strong anymore. So I'm going to post a bunch of mini-reviews. Look out!

Oh, also, about this blog appearance - sorry, somehow my skin for my blog is missing, and that was stopping my blog from being visible, so I just chose another template for now.

Posted by Jeri   at 09:43:00 am | movies | Leave a comment »

November 24, 2010

Vacation Recap

Hey gang,

I wrote up a post last week but the site went down and it disappeared. Bummer. Well, things have been quiet around here because I was busy planning a vacation and then I went on vacation!

Ric and I have never been to Yosemite and have never done tent camping together, so we decided to give it a go. I had to borrow and buy all sorts of equipment to make it happen. By the time we got everything together, I was already pooped. On a Friday night, we drove up to Fresno and spent the night there before continuing on to Yosemite the next morning.

We were supposed to camp near the West entrance, but missed a turn and actually entered the South entrance. That actually turned out to be a good thing. We got to drive through a lot of the park and see it in all of its fall glory. I got one shot while driving:

We actually had to leave the park to go meet up with our cousins and their family, who were staying at a nearby lodge. We gathered up all of them and then headed to our campground to set up, after a quick stop at
a view point:

That day we gathered firewood, started a fire, cooked dinner, ate smores, and enjoyed each other's company. The cousins went back to their lodge while we slept in a tent. It was cold!

The next morning, it started to rain, which wasn't in the forecast. A quick-moving storm came in. We wanted to see what would happen with it, so we met up with the fam for breakfast at a local joint and spent the morning playing darts and table shuffle board. When we checked on the weather, it was only getting worse, so we all went back to our campsite and broke everything down in the pouring rain. It was actually kind of funny, even though it was sad.

Since we had planned to spend the next few days in Yosemite, Ric and I had to create an impromptu agenda! We decided to go back to his hometown, so we spent the afternoon driving there. We went out to dinner and spent the night watching shows on our laptops, and the next morning we went to the cemetery to visit Ric's dad's grave:

From there, we went up to Old Sacramento. I had never been (couldn't afford the 4th grade trip when I was little, so I got to go 20 years later!). There, we went to the train museum:

Then we visited some local shops (bought a gnome for our front doorstep), had a good Cajun lunch, and then visited Fort Sutter, where I found the height of the doorways to be extremely convenient:

I also got this great shot of Ric and his growing beard in the jail at the fort:

From Sacramento, we drove in to San Francisco. We stayed by the wharf and took a good walk down to Union Square and had a nice Irish dinner at a local pub. The next morning, we had lunch on the wharf and then drove in to Castro Valley to visit the family out there. We stayed at Ric's grandpa's place. We visited with him, then we went with him to visit Grandma in her assisted living home, then went out to eat with the whole family to celebrate our aunt's birthday. Here are the cousins with their aunt:

It was a lot of fun staying with Grandpa, who is an example to all of how you can keep your mind sharp into your elder years. He's also pretty spry for 87 - still driving and doing yardwork and keeping up a very clean house!

After Castro Valley, we headed up to Benicia to see my sister and her family. We had dinner out with her and a couple of the nephews. Obligatory shot for the parents:

Benicia was a quick visit, and we were headed out the next morning. On our way home, we decided to check out the nearby Jelly Belly Factory, where we took a tour. It wasn't magical so much as it was crowded and stuffy, but it was fun to learn about how candy is made and see the factory machines in action. I was bummed that we weren't able to take photos while on the tour, so here's us in our tour hats:

After the jelly beans, it was a long ride home. Thankfully, audio Harry Potter books kept us entertained. It was a fun vacation, despite the fact that we had to wing most of it and spent a lot of money on camping food that couldn't be saved. It was great to see family and drive around lovely northern California.

The rest of our photos can be seen on FB here.

Well, I'm off to do some baking for Thanksgiving! This year my thankfulness is for family. I hope all of you have a blessed time focusing on what you are thankful for, wherever you celebrate.

Posted by Jeri   at 01:00:00 pm | monday | Leave a comment »

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