Capitol Reef Family July 4th Weekend

Hey guys! Happy 4th of July! I hope you all had a pleasant holiday weekend. I ended up having a fun time with my family at one of Utah’s lesser known national parks called Capitol Reef National Park.

For many years my Dad has loved going down to Central Utah to ride his dirt bike motorcycles and ATVs with his friends over the rough terrain. Last year he bought a property for camping and such that he deemed as ‘Adventure Acres’. He loves going down there and getting away from the stresses of life which I can certainly appreciate.

That said, it’s never had much appeal to me because there is no lake, beach or river to swim in and I’m not interested in motorcycles or ATVs at all. I also don’t like to camp if it can be helped and red rock scenery is pretty but not my favorite.

Nevertheless, almost my entire family including all 5 of my nieces were going down to Adventure Acres for the 4th weekend so I decided to finally check it out. It’s still not my cup of tea but I had a good time spending time with my family.

The only frustrating part of the weekend for me was dealing with the slow internet connection at the hotel because my friend Jonathan and I recorded our podcast on the Doctor Who finale and it took 2 days to upload! You certainly do become grateful for high speed internet when you are away from it. That’s for sure!

Capitol Reef is not as splashy as Grand Canyon or Bryce with it all feeling like a small town but it still is beautiful and a lot of fun to visit especially if you are in to hiking and motorcycle dirt biking. I just enjoyed hanging out with my nieces and spending as much time with them as possible since they live in Portland, Oregon and the DC area and I don’t get to see them very much.

Anyway, we ended up having a good time together and I particularly loved spending time with my nieces. Here are some photos of the trip with commentary:

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New Friends Makes Me Happy!

Hey guys! Sorry it has been a bit since I have written. Make sure you are following my other blog to get all of my movie posts and my youtube channel for daily videos. This blog is more for my personal experiences and I haven’t had a lot going on lately. Work has been pretty normal. I haven’t been reading a ton and I haven’t even gotten to the pool that often 😦  However, there is one exciting development I wanted to share with you- I have friends!

I don’t know if you were aware but for the last 3 years or so I haven’t had many friends. Yes I have friends online but most of my Utah friends moved away in 2013-2014. The few remaining friends in Utah are very busy with their jobs and family and I find it very difficult to get together with them. I love them dearly but sometimes it takes many months to plan a get together. That is why I am so excited to have made 2 new friends in recent months.

Through twitter I came in contact with a man named Stanford and a woman named Phaedra and we’ve really hit it off. All 3 of us are single and we all love movies. They are both bloggers and love weird indie films not just the standard blockbusters. It has been so nice to have friends that share common interests with me but also are available to do things more often than my married friends. The other day I called Phaedra and told her I had an extra ticket to a movie screening. We went and had a great time. I haven’t had a friend like that in so long. Yesterday we went to see the fun little thriller- 47 Meters Down and went to Indian food before. It was so much fun. Here is her blog post about it.

I went to see The Godfather and Some Like It Hot with Stanford and we had a so much fun. I love that I have someone to see classic films with and discuss them from all kinds of angles. Stanford joined me for a podcast to talk all about Field of Dreams and that was a lot of fun.

I also have a new friend named Amber that I have enjoyed spending time with. We did the Anne with an E podcast and share a mutual love of Survivor. We just went to the Transformers 5 screening which was fun despite being Transformers ;). I also got to go to her play which was super fun.

There are even some new friends in my singles ward that have emerged lately and I am very grateful. I was feeling like I was in a bit of a funk so I really needed these friendships right now and I’m very grateful.

It’s funny because it used to be so easy for me to make friends. I remember my sister struggling to connect with people and me totally taking it for granted. I still connect with people pretty quickly but I find it harder to find companionship that is available to spend time with in your 30s like it is in your 20s. That’s why I am so excited to have new friends who are available, seem to like me and share common interests! Yay!!

We are going to be doing Utah Movie Club each month and I am sure will see each other through out the summer. Happy Day!

So how are you doing? I hope well. I just really wanted to share this fun development in my life with you. I hope you all are having a great summer. Sure love ya!

Thoughts on Rotten Tomatoes and Criticism

I am not a professional film critic and am not on the website Rotten Tomatoes.  Recently the website has come under attack as well as critics in general, and I would like to explain what the site does and how criticism works and should be used by the average consumer.

Over the Memorial Day weekend 2 films were released, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch. Both were expected to do well but were released to underwhelming reviews and Pirates 5 did ok while Baywatch bombed. This caused star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to tweet that the movie was “made for fans not critics” and that “critics had their venom and knives ready but Fans LOVE the movie”. I haven’t seen Baywatch so can’t speak for that film but let’s talk about this idea of critics vs fans.

First of all, critics today come in lots of different styles and formats. Gone are the days when print media and formal articles/scholarship were the only way to be a recognized critic. To be a critic on rotten tomatoes you must be from a nationally published news-outlet or be a youtuber with over 20,000 subscribers and a certain degree of professionalism and consistency. Even with these rules you have everything from a review on Nerdist.com to something in the Wall Street Journal.

Obviously these critics will have different perspectives and audiences, but Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t care about that. They take all these different reviews for all these audiences and merely look at positive or negative. So if the Nerdist gave Movie A a 5/5 and Wall Street Journal gave it a 0/5 their scores together would be a 2.5/5. Do this with 500 critics and you have your fresh or rotten score.

Where things get a little murky in the algorithm is when you have a bunch of people giving 2s and 3s to a film. I think most of us would agree the difference between a 2/5 and a 3/5 isn’t that much. However, let’s just say a movie gets 400 reviews at 3/5 it could be a 90% on the algorithm despite most not being super high on it. It is the same for a movie with a 20% that has a ton of 2.5s or 2s. It seems like an awful movie but in reality it’s kind of a mixed bag. That’s where you have to look at the average rating on Rotten Tomatoes and actually read  some of the reviews.

I recommend using Rotten Tomatoes as a tool but not making it the complete say in your decision making process. For example, if a  review for a comic book film is reviewed highly by a comic book website like Heroic Hollywood then maybe give it a chance? Maybe you are in the percentage that will like the film and that it is made for? Most romantic comedies end up with a low percentage score but I like a good chunk of them. I also recommend finding critics that you like and that you can turn to on a regular basis.

Rotten Tomatoes is an aggregator and aggregates are helpful in broad decision making and trends.  We can know a majority of critics liked something or didn’t. That’s it and then you decide for yourself what you like and what you are going to see. Rotten Tomatoes gives no scores itself. It writes no reviews itself. It just gives you a resource to help you make decisions. It should not make the decision for you.

But let’s get back to this idea of critics as the enemy of film. The idea Dwayne Johnson suggested that a movie is made for the fans and not critics is problematic on many levels. First of all, you don’t decide to spend your life viewing films if you aren’t a fan of cinema. And for every negative review from any critic worth their salts in any genre you can find positive reviews for films they like. So to say that critics in their ivory towers (again we talked about the diversity of critics these days) are looking down on certain films just isn’t true. Critics love base R rated comedies when they are done well.  They like horror movies when done well. They like dopey action movies when done well.

Look at Wonder Woman. For the last few years some have claimed critics had it out for DC films. Not so much. They just didn’t like the movies. Now that DC has released a movie they like it surprise has good reviews! It’s as simple as that. Critics are not out to destroy any movie. They like movies and want them to succeed. All that I expect out of a critic is that he or she be honest with their views. That they aren’t saying things or engaging in hyperbole just to get hits and views and I think you can only know this by following someone for a little while or reading/watching a number of their reviews. If they are super click baity you will realize soon enough.

I disagree with a majority of critics sometimes (like I said I have a tolerance for romcom cliches more than most). Just recently I liked Smurfs: the Lost Village and it has a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. All that means is I’m part of 38% of critics that liked it. There’s lots of other parts of my life where I am in much smaller minorities than that (my religion to begin with…)! For instance, I bet the number of people that like to open water swim is less than 38% and yet that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it to my hearts content.

All critics are trying to do is provide a resource to help you spend your hard earned money wisely and maybe share their love of film every now and then. They aren’t the enemy. They don’t hate you or the thing that you love. Their opinions are just that their opinions. You can go right on ahead loving whatever it is you love. They are trying to help the fans not create this adversarial relationship between them and the fans.

You can make an argument that Rotten Tomatoes forces a dichotomy on a film- so you either love something or hate. It’s rotten or not. It’s a valid point but that’s where you have to be a grown up and recognize it is an algorithm and the actual reviews are usually more nuanced than ‘I HATE THIS MOVIE’ (most critics worth your time save such vitriol for when it really counts).

It kind of annoys me when people like Dwayne Johnson float this idea that critics are ruining movies because it obfuscates the true one to blame. Critics don’t make the movies. It’s the studios which should MAKE BETTER MOVIES! I did a whole podcast on this with my friend David Gerlach. Blockbusters have been pretty disappointing over the last 2 years and that’s coming from the perspective of an amateur critic and fan. I can’t tell you how many supposed epic movies I’ve walked away feeling hollow and empty. This is not the fault of critics!

Anyway, I hope this post has been helpful in talking about the way Rotten Tomatoes works and how criticism should be used effectively. I grew up reading and watching criticism and I love it. Even if I completely disagree with the person if they are a good writer/speaker I love it. Their opinion isn’t an attack on me but a chance to see the world from another point of view. Find some critics that you like and use Rotten Tomatoes in the right way. I’m grateful we have critics who can help be a quality balance to the decisions studios make that would otherwise be based solely on the box office.