Beginning of Fall/October Playlist: Part I

I’ll probably make two playlist for this month, since it is October and there’s too many songs for just one. These are songs that get me in the mood for the Fall season and the Halloween spirit.

    “October” by Broken Bells 
    “You’re a Wolf” by Sea Wolf
    “What The Water Gave Me” by Florence and The Machine 
    “Crystals” by Of Monsters and Men 
    “Me and The Devil” by Soap&Skin 
    “Biting Down” by Lorde 
    “Flesh Blood” by Eels 
    “Carrion Flowers” by Chelsea Wolfe 
    “Sweater Weather” by The Neighborhood 
    “Bones” by The Killers 
    “Vampire Again” by Marlon Williams 
    “Acid Rain” by Lorne 
    “Tear You Apart” by She Wants Revenge 
    “Gallows” by CocoRosie 
    “Wolf” by Fever Ray 
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First Gym Experience

I’ve finally broken down and signed up for a membership to a local gym. I won’t lie, for the first month of my membership, I didn’t go. The thought of being there and seeing these immensely  muscular people intensely grunting as they lifted 1,000 lbs weights turned me off. Even the thought of just being on the treadmill and seeing others run like they were saving the Hobbits from Isengard was enough to give my anxiety the push it needed to make me not want to go.

An Awkward Start

I buckled down and told myself, “No one cares if you’re running on a treadmill or lifting a few weights, or practicing some yoga. That’s what that place if for.” With that, I forced myself into workout clothes after work and went. The first piece of equipment I touched was the treadmill: my comfort zone. For the first few minutes, I’m sure I looked like the stereotypical henchman in the background of a movie… You know, just pressing buttons that didn’t doing anything. Then the belt slowly began to move.

I went to the gym a few more times, mostly just running 1.5 miles on the treadmill and beaming at the high number of steps on my Fitbit Blaze. One night, a co-worker went with me and asked what I liked to do at the gym. My response was, “Um… Mostly run on the treadmill because that’s all I’ve done.” I had been told by someone else to just “read the instructions on the machines” if I wasn’t sure how to use it. However, I thought about how that would require me to be in the zone with some of those intense people I had mentioned earlier. My co-worker was gracious enough to show me how to operate some of the equipment, which gave me more confidence and motivation.

The Nerve 

This week, I went to the gym with a complete workout in mind. I was going to work up a sweat at the gym, then go home and feel like an accomplished adult. My first stop, the ever favorite treadmill, which was the easy part. I walked/ran my 1.5 miles and could “feel the burn”. To my dismay, there quite a few people lifting weights and working out. I took a deep breath, gripped my water bottle, and made my way into the lion’s den.

I was lifting weights, listening to music, and pushing myself. I am still a bit new to this, and didn’t want to end up on Facebook in one of those “gym fails” videos people send me. I was sure to read the instructions and do things slowly. I was even keeping track of my workout with my Fitbit and thought about how excited I would be when I looked at that night’s results on the app.

Patiently, I waited for this guy to finish on this ab machine I wanted to try out. He walked away, and even came back to wipe it down. As he walked away for the second time, I stopped to check my phone and my Fitbit. Sitting on the seat, I started to read the instructions, when something caught my eye. It was the guy who was just on it. I started to take my headphones off, when he put his finger up and mouthed the words, “Give me one more second.” I nervously got up and mouthed, “Sorry, sorry.” Then he got on and began to work out… Again. When I realized he wanted to do another set, I was a bit frustrated. I had waited for him to leave, he had even wiped the seat clean… Just to push me off? I shook it off and walked to the water fountain to refill my water bottle. When I turned around, another guy was on it.

I’m not sure what did it, but I had become a bit anxious about just standing and walking around looking at the diagrams on the sides. I knew I looked a bit lost, and even avoided eye contact with people walking by. At that point, I had decided it was okay if I went home. At least I DID something, at least I ran over a mile and actually DID something other than sit in my bed at home.

Not a Complete Waste

It’s been a day or two, and I’m still proud I went by myself. I’m proud that I have been mostly cooking at home this week, trying to fit in some sort of breakfast, and making healthier decisions. I’ve even noticed that these past couple of weeks I have reduced the amount of soda I drink, and increased my water intake. I’ve been doing research on workouts that may better suit me, and looking into even more healthier habits.

The point is, I now strangely have more confidence and motivation to go back to the gym. I’m hoping that when the temperature cools down a bit more, I can start riding my bike. Maybe someday I’ll even post a “beginning/results” picture. But for now, I know what to expect and I won’t be letting anyone run me off of the equipment.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: A Very Late Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: A Very Late Movie Review

The newest Luc Besson film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, is set several hundreds of years into the future, after mankind and many alien species have joined alliances to create Alpha in hopes of exchanging knowledge in the far reaches of space. Agents Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevinge) are charged with discovering and putting a stop to a growing threat inside the center of the city, which involves traveling through to the actual center of the space city. The adventure involves saving, fighting, and joining forces with many of the inhabitants. In doing so, they not only save Alpha, but all the citizens and then some. valerian2.0

Luc Besson is the legendary film maker of The Fifth Element and Lucy. In the very beginning of this film, you can identify the same style that went into The Fifth Element that is also in this movie. Mostly in the alien designs. This film has turned out to be one of Europe’s most expensive movies ever made at a cost of 117-210 billion. Since the effects were suppose to be so magnificent, I went ahead and saw it in 3D. The effects definitely did not disappoint. The story line is a whole other can of worms though.

As I’ve stated before, you can definitely see similarities between Valerian and The Fifth Element in the way they are shot and the designs of the aliens and environments around them. When it came to characters, story, and everything else… Meh. Dane-DeHaan-Valerian-and-the-City-of-a-Thousand-Planets Valerian brags throughout the whole movie at how he is a good soldiers that gets the job done (top of his class and all that jazz). He isn’t wrong, but most of the time is saved by his partner, Laureline. However, between the two of them, in my mind, there wasn’t much character development or even chemestry. In interviews with Besson, he talked about how Valerian is absolutely in love with his partner, but I didn’t feel it.

When we first see them, they have a discussion about his playlist (aka the list of women he’s slept with), but he doesn’t make a real effort to convince her that she’s who he wants to be with. cara-delevingne-in-valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planetsWhich, I understand that by the end of the movie, he “deletes” the playlist, but it just felt a bit forced. When Valerian proposes to her, it’s a bit annoying… Mostly because he consistently talks about it throughout the remaining of the film. Like, dude… We got it. Laureline is smart and serious about her job… but that’s it. She’s serious at all times. Though she does save him plenty of times (both physically and morally), there’s just not much character development with her either. I can appreciate some of the sarcasm though.

vdf-24045Other than the effects, it did have good parts. John Goodman makes an appearance (voice-wise) as a black market dealer in a market place that only exist in another dimension. Rihanna plays Bubble, the shape-shifting, burlesque-dancing prostitute who’s being pimped out by Jolly (Ethan Hawke). John Clive plays Commander Arün Filitt, a military man who is obsessed with hiding his sins for the “good of humans” in Alpha. There’s a scene where Delevingne is kidnapped by aliens that results in a pretty humorous exchange between the queen and Laureline.

valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets-gets-first-teaser-trailer

You can definitely tell that Luc Besson put a lot of heart into the designs and effects of Valerian, but it just seems like he was so focused on the visual part of it that he forgot to tweak the story and all that exists in that world. In interviews, he seems so excited that he finally got to make this movie, but it just a little short. Honestly, it’s not the most awful film I’ve ever seen (cough cough… Batman Forever), but it’s not one that I would watch in hopes that it will give me some sort of life changing epiphany.

review-valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planetsShould you watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets? Yeah, sure. I mean, it is one of Europe’s most expensive films to date. Should you expect to be wowed? The extremely expensive effects will definitely impress you, but just don’t expect to be blown away by the story. I will say that I now am a little interested in reading the French graphic novels this movie was based on in hopes of recovering what may have been lost from paper to screen.

Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast

Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast

Warning: I’m going to try and avoid too many spoilers, but there may be some.

This film follows the original very closely. You can hear many of your favorite lines (except the Baroque pun, which I was a little upset about) delivered slightly differently, and at times not in the same order or by the same characters. Which was to be expected because they are taking a master piece in attempts to give the audiences that grew up watching the film something fresh, and making it their own. Even some of the songs have different verses and choruses than what I was used to, but I enjoyed it because it kept me on my toes.

Emma-Watson-Belle-Dress-Beauty-Beast-2016-600x800One of the reasons I was so excited to see this movie was the fact that it was going to stay true to the style and time period of the original, which is set in late 18th century France. When you first see the Prince dancing in his ballroom the night that the Enchantress comes, the guests are in the Rococo/Marie Antoinette fashion. In fact, I was impressed that the makeup that the guests wore is very accurate to the makeup that the aristocrats would have worn during that time: big white powdered wigs, white powdered faces, red lips… It was a bit much, at first, but it is suppose to reflect the time period that this movie takes place.

Attitudes towards women were reflected as well. For example, in the scene where Belle is teaching a girl to read, many disapproving townspeople decide to put a stop to it. In the scene that follows, Gaston tells Belle that spinsters in the town eventually become beggars when their fathers die, but marrying him meant she would have financial security. BEAUTY AND THE BEASTBelle still refuses him. However, not everyone carried that negativity towards Belle (her father and the librarian). Not only did Emma Watson’s Belle like reading, she was inventive and headstrong. Belle knows what tools her father will need, before he knows it. When Gaston bombards her with marriage, she tells him no. When Beast demands that she join him for dinner, she says, “And I told you NO!” I’m not saying Page O’Hara’s version wasn’t brilliant, because she was. However, Watson’s was not sweet about it. She even blatantly tells Gaston she is not interested in ANY of the men in the town, and tells him he will not be joining her for dinner when he invites himself.

gallery-1478513336-belle-and-her-father-beauty-and-the-beastThe only critique I really have of this version of Belle is that I wish she had been more inventive. Maurice was more of an artist, who seemed to build trinkets for money. Which put a more romantic spin on him. I just wish she had done more than know what tools her father would need and built a washing machine.

Beast was more intelligent in this one. In the original, he just comes off as an angry, brooding character whose heart is warmed by Belle’s compassion. In the extended version, Belle finishes reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to him. She tells him she wants him to read it to her and he says he can read “a little” and that it had been “so long”. However, in the live-action version, when she mentions Romeo and Juliet, he scoffs. He says he had an “expensive” education (he was a Prince) and that there were better things to read. Later, in the library she asks if he had read all the books and he responds, “Not all of them. Some of them are in Greek.” To me, this makes more sense than Beast being uneducated.

beautyandthebeast_relevant_cMany characters from the original had bigger parts in this version. For example, Maurice and Belle have a much closer father-daughter relationship than in the cartoon. Plumette, the feather duster, is much more involved than just the couple of times she’s seen flirting with Lumiere. The townspeople are also more involved in the film than just singing choruses for Gaston. Overall: if you want to swim in nostalgia, and be enchanted while you do so, then I suggest you see this movie. Of course, nothing will ever replace the original 1992 film for me, but this kept me entertained with the familiar songs, some new numbers, new and old characters, and new attitudes.

Overall: if you want to swim in nostalgia, and be enchanted while you do so, then I suggest you see this movie. Of course, nothing will ever replace the original 1992 film for me, but this kept me entertained with the familiar songs, some new numbers, new and old characters, and new attitudes.

Beauty and the Beast

Women’s March on Oklahoma (Part I)

On the 21st of January, cities around the world held large protests after the inauguration of the new President of the United States. Oklahoma City was among them. According to the report on KFOR.com, roughly 12,000 people (men, women, and children) attended the march last Saturday in front of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Many expressed they marched for equal pay, better and affordable education, healthcare, equal wages, against violence, racism, and against POTUS. According to NBC News, an estimated 3 million people marched globally.

This is the first part of photos from the Women’s March on Oklahoma (OKC). I’ll be sure to post more soon.

 

 

Mourning the Starman

Mourning the Starman

The first time I had ever heard of David Bowie was when I was in grade school. I had gotten the soundtrack to A Knight’s Tale, and the track was “Golden Years”. It was probably my favorite scene in the film at the time, and I played that CD to the point it was so scratched none of the songs would play. Around my freshman year, one of my friends made me sit and watch Labyrinth, which I instantly fell in love with. It wasn’t until I read Cheri Currie’s Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway that I had actually stopped and listened to his musicShe wrote beautifully about how Bowie inspired her in her youth and through her adult life that it had compelled me to look him up. Once I clicked on “Space Odyssey” and “Diamond Dogs” I was hooked for life.

labyrinth

Bowie as The Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth

A year ago today, I was in mourning in my room, blasting songs such as “Starman” and “Space Odyssey”. The death of the Thin White Duke was quite the ominous start to that dreadful year. Yet, there is a silver lining. Many people had begun to share their favorite David Bowie songs and moments; how Ziggy had touched their lives. My friends and I would drive around blasting Bowie songs; singing and turning up our favorite parts. Neil Gaiman shared his enchanting short story The Return of the Thin White Duke on his Facebook feed. Amanda Palmer collaborated with other artists and covered many of his songs. Fine Brothers Entertainment posted  Elders Reacting to David Bowie, and you could see how their eyes light up seeing him. Bowie’s passing has brought people together to share how his music, art, and fashion  made impacts in their lives and in their own works.

Bowie's Thin White Duke persona, smoking a Gitanes cigarette, 1976.
Photo by Andrew Kent, 1967

There have always been traces of David Bowie have been in my life, other than the soundtrack of A Knight’s Tale. One of the first shirts I bought from Hot Topic (back in the day) said Rebel Rebel on it. One Halloween, I dressed in black slacks, a white button up, and a black vest.My hair was slicked back and sprayed with cheap orange and red hair spray, and I had painted the famous red and blue lightning strike across my face. That’s right, I was a combination of Bowie’s personas. The last paper I wrote in college was entitled The Rhetoric of David Bowie. I had taken the task of trying to explain him in a 5-6 page essay. It was one of those papers where I had too much to say and not enough pages to say it in. I think one of the first songs that I played over and over again was “Lady Grinning Soul”. That was also the song that one of my friends said made her really stop and listen to him.

David Bowie was this artistic force that couldn’t be stopped. He was strange, odd, and beautiful all at once. To me, listening to Bowie is always like a spiritual experience, his music moves through you and stays with you forever. Even after his death, he echoes. Even in his last days, he was an artist. What I have taken from him is that we should always do what we love, and that it’s beautiful to be strange.

david-bowie
Photograph by Jimmy King, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

I finally got a chance to go see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I decided to see it after the mass crowds had swarmed the theaters. Now, I’m going to refrain from putting in too many spoilers in this review, but I think most people have seen the film by now.

jynJyn Erso is a prisoner of the Empire. She is the daughter of Galen Erso, who just so happens to be the scientist behind the creation of the Death Star’s planet-destroying power. Years after her father is taken by the Empire, Jyn joins forces with Cassian Andor and K-2SO, a Rebel spy and a reprogrammed Imperial droid. Along the way, they befriend with Imwe and Malbus; a blind martial artist and his gun-wielding companion, who join them in the rogue mission to obtain the information from the Imperial base of Eadu.

 

The first thing I noticed about this film is it did not open with the traditional credits intro we normally get. I was expecting it, but later it made more sense not to put it since this is a side story, and not the main plot. We already know what has happened in Episodes I-III, and we know about the events that happen in Episodes IV-VI. This film nestles right in between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope. In fact, this story actually ends just moments before Princess Leia is captured by Darth Vader. I loved how this gave us more insight into the conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion. When the Rebellion was able to destroy the Death Star, it was a major turning point in the war between the two.

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Some fans have complained that Star Wars is about the Skywalkers. This is true, and I do not argue with that. However, how I can justify this story is that the Empire, the Sith, the Rebellion, and the Jedi are all key to the story of the Skywalker lineage. This story just simply expands on those key elements of the larger story. Plus, this film does actually feature two Skywalkers. Even if it is only for a brief time.

 

Which brings me to another aspect of the film that really helped me connect with it. It helped fill that nearly two decade gap that we get between Episode III and IV. We see the ruined city of Jedha, which was where the Jedi once resided rehost2f20162f122f202f6929688d-1a69-4671-8f33-5b02af51d4fe1before their downfall. The film, in my opinion, did capture the feel of Episode IV. They mention Obi Wan and the fact that he has been “in hiding” for several years.
The other way how it really helps the audience connect with the other Star Wars films is it brings back familiar faces such as Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, and a brief look at young Princess Leia. We also get the Rebel and Imperial fighter ships, the Deathstar, and both fleets. If you watch, you’ll catch that they actually recycle footage from Episodes IV-VI, which was pretty clever way to connect the two films to tie it into the others of the franchise.

Overall, the film was as I expected it to be. It not only gave you insight into the Star Wars universe, but I feel it was the film we needed for the end of 2016. It introduced new characters, and even revived the more familiar faces that we grew up watching. Rogue One was definitely worth the wait.

“I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” 

c82c1bbfb0cfdb1c12bb8dd381090786f06dc67d1Unfortunately, it was announced that Carrie Fisher died due to a heart attack she had on a plane a few days ago. I actually had ordered my tickets minutes before I read the news on Tuesday, and was deeply saddened. Not only was she Leia Organa, but she was a witty comedian and a beautiful writer. Recently she published The Princess Diarist where she revealed after 30 years that she did in fact have an affair with Harrison Ford on the set of the original Star Wars film. But being Leia isn’t the only way I will remember Carrie. I will remember the way she addressed people criticizing her for aging and returning to the screen as the beloved character. I will remember how funny she was in her interviews, and how she seemed to be at peace with who she was. One quote of hers that I found that really stuck out to me was:

“There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.’ “

Hopefully for 2017, I will read and review her new memoir and be sure to write a review on it. It saddens me that it took me this long to realize that she was a writer.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Dir. Gareth Edwards. Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Mads Mikkelsen. Images from Google Images.