Monthly Archives: December 2013

Adios 2013, it’s been real!

It’s been a great year! I started out 2013 with a new ‘filler’ job (which I rocked), and ended the year with a new fantastic job in my chosen field! In between I was a bridesmaid- and watched one of my best friends get married, traveled to the Pacific Northwest with one of my best friends, stomped grapes with my mom, attended multiple amazing concerts, watched every single movie in AFI’s top 100 films of all time, made a birthday cake for all of my close relatives and friends throughout the year, and participated in earning the Guinness World Record for loudest open air football stadium at a Chiefs game! I walked in the ocean, drove through a tree, petted an aligator, drank pina coladas in a pool, donated to an Indiegogo campaign, participated in medical research, went to an IKEA store for the first time, and was there to support my brother cheering at his college as a yell leader! If you want to see how well I did with the goals on my manifesto this year, click here.

2014 will be all about making a difference- and not just in my own life. It will be about helping others and getting involved in my community- supporting my loved ones and others I don’t even know. So even though I will not have as many consistent goals on my manifesto this next year (like the AFI top 100 list) I will have some blogs with words of encouragement, goals we can all reach for, fuzzy feel goods and the like.

Be looking out tomorrow- January 1, 2014, for my new goals for the year! I’m looking forward to the new year full of new opportunities and experiences. Here’s to the best year yet!

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2013 in Sketches

This past year, one goal on my manifesto was to capture moments in sketches like I used to. I found I would do many sketches in chunks- not as many right after or during when they happened. However, it was a fun project- just not one I will repeat for next year. When I want to sketch I will, but I won’t force myself to make it happen. The times I captured included moments from New Year’s Eve, my Pacific Northwest Trip, stomping grapes, Thanksgiving and Christmas and much more!

Without further ado- here they are! I’ve taken pictures of a selection of the sketches- click on any of the pictures to see them larger:

December Photo shoot: Christmas Extravaganza!

For My monthly photo shoot, I will come up with a theme and document it to the best of my ability and talent- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and strike a pose.

My theme for the month of December are pictures of all things Christmasy and wintery. (All taken on my iphone, it’s a busy time of year, don’t judge). Hope you enjoy! Click on any of the pictures below to view them all larger:

1 Year, 100 Movies: #1 Citizen Kane (1941)

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For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

“Citizen Kane” – the film with the distinguished position of being  on the very top of AFI’s top 100 films. This film made the cut in AFI’s list for the #1 position since the first list was released in 1998, and made the cut again in 2007 with the 10 year anniversary edition that I am following.

This film sets the tone with the opening segment with the ‘No Trespassing’ sign on a chain link fence- a tool of separation from the man and the world. We sweep in past this and that on Kane’s estate Xanadu where he is dying. We see in the window and are at his bedside when he whispers that famous line- ‘Rosebud’- drops a snow globe with a cabin and a wintery scene that shatters – and he passes away. What a dramatic start. We get news reel about the estate, the death of Charles Foster Kane, (Orson Welles) who is a sensation around the world, and the highlights of his life. The men putting togehter the ‘News on the March’ newsreel feel it’s not enough, they need his real story. The men are directed to get in contact with his ex-wife, those who loved and knew him, those who hated him- and bring that story together.

Flashbacks reveal that Kane spent his childhood in Colorado where his parents ran a boarding house. The “world’s third largest gold mine” was found on land his mother had acquired, and so she sent him to live with Walter Thatcher, (George Coulouris) a banker so he could be educated and have the life they couldn’t give him. In the Colorado scenes Kane is seen as a young boy playing with his sled in the snow. The researchers dig more and we see that Kane gained control of his possessions and money at the age of 25, and at that time decided it would ‘be fun’ to get into the newspaper business. He takes control of the New York Inquirer, and steals all the best journalists from the rival paper. We see his rise to power with the paper, his marriage to Emily Monroe Norton, (Ruth Warrick) a president’s niece, and his run for governor of New York State.

Up until this point it was all fun and games, but then Kane’s marriage starts to crumble, and he begins an affair with singer Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore). His opponent in the race for governor discovers the affair and reveals it to his wife, simultaneously ending his marriage and his career. Kane marries Susan, and forces her into an operatic career that she doesn’t want (or have the talent for). He builds her an opera house because no one will hire her. Kane finally lets her abandon the singing career after her suicide attempt, but the marriage is not working, she feels stifled and bored, and eventually leaves him. He spends the rest of his years with his incredibly vast fortune building the humongous palatial estate Xanadu, interacting only with his staff.

The film takes us back to the present where Kane’s vast estate is being cataloged- everything from priceless works of art down to worthless junk. Jerry Thompson (William Alland), who was looking into his story, decides that they will never figure out what “Rosebud” meant, and that part of Kane would always be a mystery. The viewers however, get a sweeping shot of all of the mountains of stuff being cataloged, which focuses in on that old sled Kane had as a child, with the word ‘Rosebud’ printed on it. It was in a pile of things deemed worthless, and the film ends with a shot of the sled burning in the basement furnace with all of the junk. It turns out Kane was trapped in what life of what he was made into- he longed for that time back when he was truly happy.

Orson Welles got the influence for the film from William Randolph Hearst’s life. Hearst was enraged and banned any advertizing, reviewing or mention of the film in any of his papers. Following lobbying from Hearst, the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Louis B. Mayer made an offer to RKO Pictures of $805,000 to destroy all prints of the film and burn the negative. Hearst’ s attempts to suppress the film backfired, because now almost every reference to Hearst’s life and career includes a reference to the parallels in the film. The film is inexorably connected to him, all because of his attempts to separate himself from it. All the Hearst connections aside, it really is a fantastic film. It’s a very technically superior film, which is likely why it ranked #1 on the list. I’m so glad I took on the challenge to watch all of these movies this year- I saw a great many films I loved which I would have probably not watched otherwise.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

3-and-half-Star-Rating

“The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller

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This year I will read all of the Timothy Keller books I own– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. 

The fifth and final book up on my list is Timothy Keller’s ‘The Meaning of Marriage“. Once again, Timothy Keller hits it out of the ballpark. This book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God” explains marriage in such a way that I had never even thought of before, in a fuller, richer manner that makes so much sense it now seems illogical to approach it any other way. I recommend it to everyone- married couples and singles like myself alike. This book looks at God’s invention of marriage and the many complexities that go along with it and presents God’s plan, and practical solutions to issues in such a way that we can apply it to our own lives.

In today’s culture there are many different views of marriage, but the truth is that once you have found a partner who is on the same spiritual path as yourself, the marriage is the statement- or the covenant, that this man and woman will support one another in their walk. Marriage is not something one person goes into alone- in fact many issues in a marriage can be found rooted in self-centeredness. ‘When the Bible speaks of love, it measures it primarily not by how much you want to receive but by how much you are willing to give of yourself to someone.” So what is marriage for? “It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have.” For a happy and successful marriage, we must see that marriage is designed to make us holy. “You see even now flashes of glory. You want to help your spouse become the person God wants him or her to be.”

In fact, the wedding itself is not just a celebration of a couple’s love and promise to spend the rest of their lives together. “Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. A wedding should not be primarily a celebration of how loving you feel now- that can safely be assumed. Rather, in a wedding you stand up before God, your family, and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful and true to the other person in the future, regardless of undulating internal feelings or external circumstances.” And as I hear, all married couples will feel this way. Take a look at any relationship. You have to work at it. Together, hopefully- and alone at first if you have to.

There is even a chapter for us singles. Keller attacks those preconceived cultural notions that someone who is single is somehow less than others for being so. The Bible says that being single and being married are both good states to be in. In fact, Christianity affirmed the goodness of single life as no other faith or worldview ever has. “If singles learn to rest in and rejoice in their marriage to Christ, that means they will be able to handle single life without a devastating sense of being unfulfilled and unformed.” In fact- married couples must do this as well, because there is not ever a single spouse who has not let the other down. Keller goes on to explain the goodness of singles seeking marriage, and practical advice for those seeking it.

Also included in Keller’s book is spiritual advice on how to love your spouse when they are not loving or even have turned into someone you don’t know, sex in (and out) of marriage, and an in-depth look at how marriage mirrors our covenant with God. This book neither idealizes nor rejects the institution, but continually points us back to the relationship between God and man. It is a hopeful and helpful look at single life and married life for anyone from singles wanting marriage to those who don’t, to couples getting married, to newlyweds, to those with years of marriage under their belts. It’s a truly refreshing look at both what to expect and (for me) what to look for in a potential future spouse. Please please please, read this book!

1 Year, 100 Movies: #2 The Godfather (1972)

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For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

“The Godfather” is a defining moment of American cinema. It introduced several acting greats, and highlighted the career of another- Marlon Brando. The acting, brooding atmosphere and background music and sounds make it a truly outstanding work. For example, Micheal’s courtship of Apollonia Vitelli (Simonetta Stefanelli) in Sicily is heightened by the sound of summer cicadas in the background. Every step on the pavement, every seat taken, every brush of fabric and every shot fired in this film is absolute perfection. Each moment along the way advances the plot, adds meaning to each of the character’s actions, and delves deeper into the layers of the mob.

The film follows the Corleone family and their criminal exploits over a period of ten years, from 1945 to 1955. The son of Mafia boss Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), Michael (Al Pacino) returns home from war, and following an attempt on the Don’s life, Michael becomes more and more involved in the dark world of organized crime. After he kills a policeman he escapes to Italy for refuge. There he marries Apollonia, but his bride is tragically killed in a car bomb incident intended for him. Michael learns of the murder of his brother Sonny (James Caan) back in America, and goes home. After about a year home, Michael marries Kay (Diane Keaton), and as Vito nears the end of his career, Michael takes the reins of the family business. Soon afterward, Vito collapes and passes away in the tomato patch while playing with Michael’s son Anthony. At the funeral Salvatore Tessio arranges a meeting between Michael and Don Barzini (Richard Conte), signaling the treachery Vito had warned Michael of. On Michael’s orders, the other New York dons and Moe Greene (Alex Rocco) are assassinated. Micheal’s brother in law Carlo (Gianni Russo) is questioned by Michael on his involvement in setting up Sonny’s murder, and he confesses he was contacted by Barzini, and so he is also killed. Michael denies killing Carlo when questioned by his sister and Carlos’ wife Connie (Talia Shire) and his own wife Kay. As Kay watches warily, Michael receives his capos- a term for the leadership of a criminal family, and he is addressed as the new Don Corleone. Thus begins Michael’s full decent into the family business- the focus of the sequel (also an amazing film.)

This film is regarded as the greatest critical success, a beloved film for millions. It was at the time, the highest grossing picture ever made, and remains the box office leader for 1972. It won three Oscars that year for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and for Best Adapted Screenplay for Puzo and Coppola. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the success of this film created two sequels- “The Godfather Part II in 1974 and “The Godfather Part III” in 1990.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

four_half-stars_0

1 Year, 100 Movies: #3 Casablanca (1942)

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For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Casablanca” is a beautiful blend of drama, comedy, romance and suspense. Parts of the film are almost dream-like in quality, especially with the added elements of danger, and despite the dated plot line, this film seems to be outside time itself. It continues to be hailed as America’s go-to favorite film, a true timeless classic, and the most loved romance. This film is run like a Swiss watch, with not a moment wasted- but the pace is such that you float away with it, getting lost in the love, the classic lines, the beautiful scenery and that unforgettable tune, “As Time Goes By.”

Casablanca” is the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), an ex-freedom fighter who runs an American nightclub in Casablanca, and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Rick’s true love who deserted him when the Nazies invaded Paris. World War II is still in its early stages, and Rick, having had his heart broken has made a place for himself in Casablanca- the crucial point for those wishing to make it to America. His cafe has become a haven for refugees looking to purchase illicit letters of transit, even though he claims to be politically neutral. A petty crook, Ugarte (Peter Lorre) comes to Rick’s cafe and boasts to Rick of the letters of transit he has obtained by murdering two German couriers. These papers would allow the owner to travel anywhere in the German-controlled Europe, and to the neutral Portugal- the jumping off point for refugees to escape to America. He plans to sell them at the club, but before he can is arrested, and dies in custody.

The famed rebel Victor Laszio (Paul Henreid), and his wife Ilsa, arrive at Rick’s cafe. Victor wishes to speak to Rick, and in the meantime, Ilsa recognizes Sam, (Dooley Wilson), Rick’s friend and house pianist. She asks him to play “As Time Goes By”- for old time’s sake. It is a stunning emotional moment. Rick storms over, furious that Sam is playing the song he ordered him to never play again, and sees Ilsa!! Victor makes inquires, and finds out that Rick may have the letters of transit. He speaks with Rick about them, but Rick refuses to sell them at any price- telling Victor to ask his wife the reason. They are interrupted by German Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt), (who has come to Casablanca to make sure Victor does not make it to America) who is singing “Die Wacht am Rhein”, a German patriotic anthem with a group of German officers. Victor orders the band to play “La Marseillaise”, the national anthem of France, which Rick okays- this act gets the club closed down.

That night Rick has Sam play “As Time Goes By” for him, saying if she can stand it, he can too. Ilsa confronts Rick after the song, but he refuses to give her the letters of transit, even after she pulls a gun on him. She cannot shoot him, and confesses that she still loves him- and explains how she thought her husband dead during a botched attempt at escape from a concentration camp when she met Rick in Paris. She found out that he was alive and injured- needing her help- the same day that she was meant to escape Paris from the Nazi invasion with Rick – and that was the reason she abandoned him with only a letter. Rick’s bitterness is gone after he finds out the truth, and he agrees to help, leading her to believe that she will stay with him when Victor leaves.

Victor is arrested on a minor charge, and Rick gets Renault to release him, convincing Renault that he will set Victor up with a much more serious crime- possession of the letters of transit. He also tells Renault that he and Isla will be leaving for America together. They go forward with the plan, and as Renault tries to arrest Victor as arranged, Rick forces him at gunpoint to assist in their escape. At the last moment, Rick makes Isla board the plane to Lisbon with her husband Victor, telling her she would regret it if she stayed- “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” ‘They will always have Paris’, and finally he lets her go with what is maybe the most famous movie line, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Strasser was tipped off by Renault, and as he shows up alone and tries to intervene, is shot and killed by Rick. After the police arrive, Renault hesitates, then tells them to ’round up the usual suspects.’ Renault suggests to Rick that they join the Free French in Brazzaville, and as they walk away into the fog, Rick says ‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

This lovely romantic film is wrapped up in an entirely satisfying and logical manner- if not a completely happy one. It makes the most sense for the film, and reveals the true depth of the emotions involved. These characters loved and lost- and give it all up for what is right because of their selflessness for the other. It’s a beautiful thing.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

four_half-stars_0