Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Confession Wednesday: Holiday Edition

Guess what!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

Okay, fine, so you already knew that. Then why didn't you guess, hmmm?

Anyways, so in honor of Thanksgiving, my confessions this week are centered around the annual feast day of gratitude.

I confess that...

I'm a little stressed about Thanksgiving this year. I have three houses to be at and only 24 hours in the day. Subtract 12 hours of sleeping, 3 hours of driving, and an hour of changing clothes several times so that I look just right for the threes of relatives I'll be seeing and that leaves me 8 hours to visit all three houses. It's going to be a little tight. But I will survive because...

Turkey. I freaking LOVE turkey. So much. I could eat turkey every day and be a happy girl.

Chris is going out of town for the whole weekend and I'm more than a little bummed about it. I keep telling him he's going to be gone FOR-EEEEEEEVVVVVERRRR, but he's like, "It's 3 nights. Remember that time you went to Europe for TWO WEEKS?" I fail to see his point.

And speaking of Chris, I already bought his Christmas present and I'm super-de-duper excited about it. I just hope he loves it when he opens it. I took a bit of a risk, but I think it's going to work out well.

And speaking of Christmas presents, I'm almost totally done with all of my holiday shopping. For reals. I started back in March because I knew that I never have money at the end of the year. I just need something for my brothers, sister, and sister-in-law and I'm FINISHED! Woohoo!

What are you confessing this week??

Oh! And don't forget to vote for your favorite semi-finalists!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Checking out @IdinaMenzel's #HolidayWishes

I have had a girl crush on Idina Menzel for a really long time.

I adore her.

So when I was contacted by the One2One Network with the opportunity to review her brand spankin' new Christmas album, how could I possibly say no??

The tracks included are: 

Do You Hear What I Hear

The Christmas Song

Baby It’s Cold Outside (Duet with Michael Buble)

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

All I Want For Christmas

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

December Prayer

When You Wish Upon A Star

Silent Night


Holly Jolly Christmas

White Christmas

Plus, if you buy the album through Target, you get two bonus tracks: 

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Mothers Spiritual

So what did I think of Idina Menzel's Holiday Wishes

Well, let's just put it this way. I've been reluctant to listen to Christmas music "too early" this year. Every time I've changed the station to the all-Christmas-music channel, I almost immediately recoil and change it again. I don't know why, but I've just been sort of allergic to it or something.

But that all changed when I downloaded this album. 


And I've practically listened to it non-stop since I got it. I just love Idina and her lovely voice and these are some of my holiday favorites, so it's just a perfect jazzy, happy, not over-the-top Christmas album. 

I think my favorite track is the duet with Michael Bublé for "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I've always had sort of a weird reaction to that song, but this version? Love.

So do yourself a favor and get your copy today. Your iPod will love you for it!

You can get it here for iTunes or here for Amazon.

**I participated in the Idina Menzel Holiday Wishes album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.** photo NewSig_zps7c5a2a01.png

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Your 2014 Semi-Finalists are....

Good Monday, everyone!

My Friday plea seems to have worked. I got a bunch of new nominations Friday and Saturday and I am really excited about the diverse group of nominees we've got this year. I hope you'll take the time to check out as many as you possibly can. Because these folks really are awesome.

This is the second round of the awards process. Vote for one semi-finalist in each category. You have until this Sunday, November 30 at, like, 6pm to get your votes in. The finalists will be announced next Monday.

Are you as excited as I am? I sure hope so!

And now, without further ado, here are your nominees:

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Pretty please, with sugar on top. Nominate your favorites today.

I'm a little bit bummed today, you guys.

I have received VERY few nominations in my fourth annual blog awards.

I know some of you have needed time to think about who/m to nominate, but guess what. Time's up. I need the nominations done by tomorrow. TOMORROW. So that I have time to put everything together to unveil the official nominees on Monday and so that you have plenty of time to vote for the winners.

But as of right now, I've got a couple of categories with, like, 2 nominees. That's just not nearly enough. My biggest only has 4. That's not enough.

I need your nominations. These awards are for YOU. Not for me. This is your opportunity to showcase your favorite bloggers. Or showcase yourself. Guess what. No one will ever know if you nominate yourself. Not even yours truly.

So nominate the crap out of the blogoverse. Let's make these the best awards EVER!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wedding Bells

I always thought summer was the wedding season, but judging by the plethora of blog posts and Facebook posts and tweets and invitations in my mailbox, it seems that wedding season is year round nowadays.

I was at a beautiful wedding on Friday night. My roommate's daughter, Marie, married a really great guy, Brian.

Because I live with the mother-of-the-bride, I've been privy to the ins and outs of all things wedding-related for months. It has actually been fun to have a glimpse into the process without having to be actually invested in it.

And, suddenly, after months of engagement and planning, Friday was the big day and Marie and Brian went and got themselves married and I was in attendance.

It was a beautiful ceremony and a gorgeous reception. Every detail was perfect. The food was amazing. The toasts were heartfelt. It was really a lovely evening.

Chris couldn't make it because he had his kids that night, so I flew solo. In fact, I have never once in my life had a date to a wedding, but this time, I didn't mind. At least I was seated at a table where I knew almost everyone. And, of course, they wanted to know ALL about The Boyfriend. I happily indulged in that conversation.

But then one couple left because the wife has some health issues and needed to get home. Then another couple left because they had somewhere else to get to. And then the third couple disappeared, though I'm not sure they left. I think they were both on separate phone calls.

So I found myself sitting all alone at the table, watching people dance and just wanting to get out of there and go see Chris. And then he texted me.

Chris: Are you having fun?
Me: Um...well...Weddings aren't really my thing.

It was a big confession, one that I didn't even fully realize was true until that moment.

You see, I LOVE the IDEA of weddings. I love the bride. I love the groom. I love the gown and the wedding party and all of it.

But when it comes time for the actual wedding? Not really into it.

Maybe I've just been subjected to far too many of them. There have been exactly two in my adult life that were actually a lot of fun. I won't say which ones so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. But there have been only two weddings where I actually, truly enjoyed myself, let my hair down, and had a great time. Where I was actually glad to be there.

Otherwise, I go because I like the people. I go because it was nice of them to invite me to share in their special day. But do I go because I want to?

Nuh uh.

It's like this clip about weddings from Jerry Seinfeld. He is so completely right. In fact, he pretty much says it all, so I'm just gonna let him take it away.

It gives me a lot to think about if or when my big day ever comes. Because I know I can't be the only one who feels this way.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Confession Wednesdays are back!!

All right, so a couple of weeks ago I said I was bringing back Confession Wednesdays after Hump Day Confessions was discontinued. It seems that some felt there was a void left behind and I wanted to fill it by bringing back something I always liked.

And just what do I have to confess today?

Well...let's see...

I confess that...

It sounds silly because I live in Southern California, but I really think I have a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder. My mood drops drastically when the time changes and I've been dealing with some depression over the last few weeks. It sucks and I hate it.

I'm still looking for another job. I've officially been looking for a year. I'm getting nowhere. I haven't even had a single interview out of all the applications I've turned in and resumes I've submitted. I feel like a loser.

But, sweet Chris insists that I'm not. Things with him are going great. Our relationship is the one thing in my life right now that feels like it's headed in the right direction.

Someone posted a really negative comment on my review of Foxcatcher over at the Awards Circuit and it kind of totally made me happy. Something about getting trolled makes me feel special.

I don't know where I'm spending Thanksgiving. I have too many invitations and not enough hours in the day. Sadly, Chris is going out of town with his family, so I don't get to see him the whole weekend. So even taking him out of the equation, I have too many places to go. Decisions, decisions...

So...what are YOU confessing this week??

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Friday, November 14, 2014

I hung out with Mark Wahlberg, Clint Eastwood, and Steve Carell. How was your week?

I mentioned yesterday that I've spent the past week covering the AFI (American Film Institute) Film Festival. And it has been a lot of fun.

The best part is that, because I write for The Awards Circuit, I get to go to film festivals as press. Which means no paying for tickets. Woohoo!

It DOES mean standing in line with the commoners ticket holders, but one of the great things about festivals is that there are no strangers.

(Which is NOT the same as saying there are no strange people. Because....yeah...)

(I'm talking to YOU, ladies who were debating the merits of the Ernest films and decided Ernest Goes to Camp was the best one.)

(Everyone knows it's Ernest Saves Christmas. Hello!)

So, yeah, it's been a great and busy and exhausting and fun week. Here's a quick snapshot of what I saw during the Fest:

(Links go to my Awards Circuit reviews. At least, to the ones I've managed to get finished so far.)

Two Days, One Night--Marion Cotillard leads this small Belgian film about a factory worker who has the weekend to convince her coworkers to forgo a substantial bonus in order for her to keep her job. It's a good movie with an interesting conclusion and Cotillard shows that she can do anything from mainstream blockbuster to small independent.

Black Coal, Thin Ice--This is a Chinese detective film about a disgraced former detective who wanders into an investigation that is related to the case that ended his career. I wanted to love it. I expected to love it. Instead, it's a mess and I was sorely disappointed.

'71--Oh man. This was a good one. This is a British film about a young soldier who is accidentally left behind on the streets of Belfast in 1971 when a routine house inspection devolves into a full-blown riot. It's good. In fact, I probably should have rated it a little higher in my AC review.

Goodnight Mommy--An Austrian horror film about twin boys who think their mother, who just came home from receiving plastic surgery, has been replaced by an imposter. This was a fun, though very disturbing movie. It's like a lot of horror movies: fun and watchable, but not amazing cinema.

Manos Sucias--A Colombian film about two brothers who take a job smuggling cocaine with the hopes of escaping their poor circumstances in their small town. This was another good film. Sometimes intense and sometimes quiet with good performances, although the ending left me a little bit unsatisfied.

Self Made--Oh dear. This one could have been so good but was, instead, a total mess. It's an Israeli film that is supposedly about an Israeli and Palestinian woman who switch places Freaky Friday-style at a border checkpoint. The problem is that the switcheroo doesn't happen until nearly the end of the movie after a whole lot of nothing happens and there is no explanation as to how or why. It's just...not good. How this won the Critics' Award at the fest is beyond me.

The Tales of the Grim Sleeper--From the mid-80s until around 2010, Lonnie Franklin Jr (allegedly) murdered at least 10 and perhaps more than 100 prostitutes and crack addicts in South Central Los Angeles. Because they were women of little consequence, the LAPD did very little to track down the serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper. This documentary details the investigation and gives us a little bit of insight into Franklin, while mostly focusing on all the things that went wrong. It's very, very good and will be playing soon on HBO.

The Gambler--I wanted to love the new Mark Wahlberg movie that is a remake of the 1974 film. But it just didn't work for me. Ugh. Unlikable, unsympathetic characters abound and I had no reason to care about anyone. Except Jessica Lange who is always awesome.

American Sniper--Based on the true story of Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in US history with more than 160 confirmed enemy kills, this film from Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper is a good look at the experiences of Navy SEALs in Iraq and explores what would make a soldier want to return to the war again and again. Not perfect, but very good.

Foxcatcher--I have been anticipating this movie for over a year, ever since it got pushed back from 2013 to 2014. It's the true story of gold medal wrestler Mark Schultz and his relationship with billionaire John Du Pont in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, I kind of actually hated it. Which made me sad. And mad. And confused because my AC colleagues and many other critics absolutely loved it.

So there you have it. The films I managed to see at this year's fest. I had plans to see a few more, but time just didn't work out for me to do that. Oh well. There will surely be screeners coming to my mailbox over the next couple of weeks and months. And when they do, I'll be sure to let you know which ones to watch and what to avoid.

Some cool moments:

♦ When Sophia Loren walked right past me in the Egyptian Theater.
♦ Being in the same room as Clint Eastwood for the screening of American Sniper.
♦ When John Goodman pretended to walk off the stage during the Q&A after The Gambler.
♦ Talking to some really cool people about movies.
♦ Paying for parking after Foxcatcher at the kiosk next to famous film critic and analyst Leonard Maltin.

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