Month: November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Hi from California friends!  I just wanted to put a little Thanksgiving message on this blog.  I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday or if you are abroad and not celebrating having a great day just the same!  It’s kind of cool when you think about it that as Americans we have decided to dedicate an entire day to the virtue of gratitude.  We don’t do that for other virtues such as fidelity, trust, honor, etc but we set aside a whole day to think about all the things we have to be grateful for.

happy thanksgiving2 I for one have much to be grateful for.  I made this video for youtube where I talk a little bit about Thanksgiving in the Thanksgiving Tag.

Mostly I am thankful for the life I have.  I know that sounds cheesy but it is true.  My life is far from perfect but I think it is pretty great.  I am so thankful for my job.  I love being able to work from home and not have to be stuck in a cubicle all day.  I love being able to go outside and listen to music and not have a boss looming over me everyday.  It’s a pretty great gig.

I also love my current employment.  After working in accounting for a decade it has been so wonderful doing something creative each day.  I also love the challenge of learning to work in marketing.  Each day I do something different and new.  How many jobs can say that?  Certainly not accounting!  That’s for sure!

I am also thankful for my home. I never thought I would be a home owner but I’ve now been one for 3 years. I love my house and still feel it is the most Me place in the world.

I am thankful for my roommate of 3 years named Regan and for her putting up with me!

I am thankful for my blogging and youtube channel.  It has been such a positive experience and helped me interact with some amazing individuals.  I seriously love you guys more than I could have imagined.

I am thankful for my faith and that no matter what is thrown at me it stays strong.  I see people wilt and lose their faith and it makes me so grateful I have been able to remain steadfast.

I am thankful for great literature, art, music, dance and movies.  I am thankful a new Star Wars movie is coming out!  I am thankful for Disney and Pixar and all the artists/authors who dare to put something out to the world for all of us to enjoy/judge.

I am thankful for my friends and family and all the love and support they show me.

I am thankful for open water swimming and all my swim friends.

I am just thankful to be me and to be alive and living this strange life of mine.  Thank you all for being a part of it.

Now on to Christmas!

Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back Review and Discussion

Continuing on with our Star Wars series my friends and I discuss the masterpiece Empire Strikes Back. Would love your comments and feedback. Thanks!

Rachel's Reviews

Yesterday my friends Abby, Jeremy and I discussed what is widely considered the best of the Star Wars films: Empire Strikes Back.

I watched Empire Strikes Back twice last week and each time I was truly blown away by it.  There was a new director for Empire Strikes Back, Irvin Kershner and new writers Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, and you can really feel their influence on the finished film.  I am not overstating my feeling when I say every decision they made works.  There isn’t anything I would change in the film.


The characters are the first stand-out in Empire Strikes Back.  You get some new characters in Yoda who is a tough taskmaster to Luke as he teaches him about the force.  You also get to know Lando Calrissian who at one moment betrays the team but there may be more too it than that.

empire strikes back2Then of course…

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Chocolate Book and Film Tag

Hey guys!  Quick post this morning but wanted to share with you a tag video I just posted.  In it I share my thoughts on books and movies with chocolate being the inspiration for the questions.

Here is Wright Cinemas who tagged me.

and here is the Lawn Gnome’s post

Please subscribe to both of their channels.  They deserve it!

I’d love to hear your answers to these tag questions

1.Dark Chocolate: A book/film with a dark tone
2.White Chocolate: A book/film with a light hearted and adventurous tone
3.Milk Chocolate: A book/film you are dying to read/watch
4.Caramel Center: A book/film that makes you feel warm and gooey inside.
5.Wafer Free Kit-Kat: A book/film that surprised you lately
6.Hot Chocolate: A book/film you go to for comfort
7.Bittersweet Chocolate: A book/film you anticipated and it let you down

You’re That Type of Person Tag

bear lake 10I was tagged in the “Oh, You’re that Type of Person Tag” by friend over at The Disney Freak. She blogs about all things Disney and makeup/beauty.

Oh, You’re That Type of Person Tag! Here are my answers to the questions:

1.Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner? If someone makes me breakfast it makes me so happy but on a day to day basis probably dinner.

2.After eating a bowl of cereal, do you drink the milk? Always! I especially like it if I have cocoa pebbles or cinnamon toast crunch.

Check out my top 10 favorite cereals post

3.When you drive, do you listen to  CD’s, radio or phone? it depends on if I have internet access.  Sometimes I listen to audiobook, podcasts, or music.  Just depends on my mood.

4.Are you a window or an aisle person? Window because you can lean on the wall and rest

5.Fold or crumple paper? I tend to tear paper up into little bits and make little piles

6.Shampoo, then body wash or  body wash and then shampoo? Never thought about it before, but I do tend to like soap over body wash

7.Are you typically stressed or relaxed? I have an anxious personality and so am more likely to be stressed than not

8.Patient or impatient?  Patience is definitely not my greatest strength

9.Do you like to have a schedule or go with the flow?  Definitely schedule

10.As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I can’t remember when I was a child but for a while when I was a teenager I wanted to be on broadway.

11.Prankster or not? Hate pranks.  I feel like they usually come across as kind of mean than funny.

12.Dressed up or dressed down? I love dressing up and looking pretty but also like relaxing in my jams!

13.Favorite article of clothing? maxi dresses all the way!

14.If you could play musical instrument, what would you play? I wish I could play the piano

15.East Coast or West Coast? East Coast because was raised in Maryland

16.London or L.A.? London even though I’ve never been there.  LA is fine but so crowded.

17.Favorite holiday?  Older I get the more I feel like holidays are more for kids but Christmas is my favorite.

18.How big is your bed? Queen

19.Do you sleep with the doors opened or closed? Closed.

20.Do you sleep with your sheets in or out? I’m not sure what that means but I like having top and bottom sheets.

21.Have you ever stolen anything? Nope

22.Tattoos or piercings? No tattoos and one piercing in each ear

23.Do you smile in all pictures? For the most part I’m smiling in real life so in pictures as well but occasionally am not happy so the pictures will show it.

24.Ever peed in the woods? Not in my memory thank goodness

25.Concert or theme park? I’ve gotten to the point where amusement parks are so hard on my feet it isn’t as much fun as it used to be.  So right now I’d say concert but I love Disneyland in small doses. All day is too much for me.

26.Music or books? Tough call.  I love music but love books too.  They both provide such different joys in my life.

27.Animated or reality?  Animated of course!

28.Letters or email? I love getting a letter but it’s so rare these days.

29.What was the first concert you ever attended? When I was in high school I saw Michael W.  Smith with a Christian friend.  That was fun.

30.Do you own a record player? No

31.Do you speak any other languages? No I don’t have much of a knack with languages- sometimes I have a hard time speaking English!

32.Sweet or savory?  I have a sweet tooth

33.Can you curl your tongue? Yep!

34.Can you put the tip of your tongue on your nose? No

35.Can you whistle? Not really very well but I guess technically I can.  I wish I could do that loud whistle with my fingertips.

36.Did you ever win a spelling bee? Not that I remember but I have all the states memorized in alphabetic order and got a trophy for that in 6th grade.  It always stays with you!

37.Do you believe in ghosts? I believe in spirits both good and evil

38.Do you believe in aliens? I think it seems hard to believe in all the galaxies that exist there isn’t another planet with life.

I’m not sure what kind of type that makes me but it was a fun tag to do.  I’m always open to tags if anyone wants to tag me!

I feel like I’ve exhausted all of my people to tag but anyone can do this one if you want.

Manipulative vs Emotional

It was really interesting yesterday I went to bo0k club and we talked about a book I really didn’t like. It is called Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  Here is my review

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m sorry but I thought this book was terrible. It was like a Nicholas Sparks novel but more incompetently written. The dialogue was cringe worthy.The story was something you’d see on a bad soap opera but without the campy fun those can have. I certainly didn’t care about any of the characters or the story. It felt like something you’d get from Harlequin or a dime romance novel but without the sizzle those books can have.The ending was unpardonable. Too sappy for me…

Oh and the alternating narrators annoyed me so much. It came out of nowhere and wasn’t helpful to the story at all. Please stop it authors!

Well and the overall messaging of the book is kind of disturbing. Everything from rich parents who never look into anything to help their quad son like voice recognition software…No wonder he wants to kill himself! Also we have a woman who has the jerk boyfriend that’s an obvious foil for our perfect match. And a lead character who seems to not be aware of the internet, chatboards and is a total manic pixie dream girl trope.

I am strongly against assisted suicide but usually when it is argued it is people who have a terminal illness. Not a man who has special needs but openly admits to being able to live a perfectly happy life. That’s called regular suicide. As I said the ending is unpardonable.

Don’t listen to the good reviews guys. This book kind of sucks…

View all my reviews


Now some in book club liked the book, which is awesome and we had a great discussion.  However, one question I didn’t feel I sufficiently answered is someone asked me what the difference was between being emotional about a story and being manipulated?  Don’t all books manipulate our emotions in one way or another?

It is true that all books or movies try to get some emotion out of the viewer/reader.  But manipulate is a little bit of a different word.  Look at the definition:


control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously.

In a novel an author can stack things so against a person that they make it nearly impossible for the reader to not have a particular response.  This is when you leave feeling manipulated.  It’s when you know a situation is more complex but the writer has failed to show the nuance or character development and then they ask you to agree with them emotionally.

There is a popular Mormon song called Hands that I hate when it is sung at church because I feel it is manipulative.  It stacks the deck so high and tries so hard to ring emotion out of me that it makes me uncomfortable and not in an artistically interesting way.  I think especially with religion you should be able to walk away from an experience whether movie, TV, book or song feeling a spectrum of emotions and not just devastation/inspiration.

jungleOne of the most manipulative books ever written is Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and it was intentionally so.  The Jungle is fascinating on a historical perspective but as prose it is tough to get through.  It’s basically propaganda written to manipulate the reader to agree with the political position of the author.  You read the book and everything bad that can happen to a person happens to this family and what is the Savior?  Socialism.  Socialism saves the day!

fault in our starsI haven’t read the book but for me the movie The Fault in Our Stars was manipulative and left me angry.  For me where it really went into manipulative territory was with the Peter van Houten character.  Here’s what I said in my review:

“This is where the movie lost me.  William Dafoe plays the author Peter Van Houten as one of the biggest jerks in movie history.  He’s right up there with the dictators, despots and murderers.  I’m serious.  It took me out of the movie it was so over the top. It kind of made me angry at the movie for manipulating me and making me feel such anger and for what? What does that anger do?  It’s not like 12 Years a Slave where I learn about evil and human history.  This is a man who would never exist so it is anger merely there to make me, the viewer, angry.

It’s like this movie pretends twitter, social media and news doesn’t exist.  This is a popular enough book for it to be big in the US when written in Amsterdam and yet an author will say to 2 kids with cancer flown across the world:

“You are a side-effect to an evolutionary process that cares little for individual lives. You are a failed experiment in mutation”

Give me a break movie.”

me earl and dying girlThe recent film Me, Earl and the Dying Girl had a similar  premise and tone of Fault in Our Stars and it was a little bit manipulative especially in a lie the narrator tells you.  However, it didn’t anger me like Fault in Our Stars because there wasn’t a character like van Houten that emotionally stacked the deck in such a one-sided way.  The creators gave me some room to like or dislike all the characters  and their choices and still be a valid response.

book thiefIn contrast, The Book Thief is a story that is emotional but at least for me I didn’t feel manipulated.  The odds are not unrealistically stacked against the characters.  There was some unpredictability to things and they were people who I really cared about.  For example, the character of Rosa Hubermann you can walk away from that book feeling like she is a bad person despite what happens to her.  You could also think she is a good person.  There is some of all of it within her and many of the other characters there is room for debate about their choices and actions.  Even when there is a hero or obvious villain in the story usually there should be some room for debate on the mission, how they carry it out, mistakes they make etc.

million dollar babyI think the Oscar winning film, Million Dollar Baby, is an interesting point of contrast especially with Me Before You.  I personally disagree with the characters actions at the end of the film; however, I felt like the movie allowed me to disagree.  It wasn’t asking me to celebrate the choices made.  It was presenting them and we could decide what to think.  I didn’t feel manipulated by the movie.  It was emotional but it didn’t anger me. It’s merely saying ‘this is how one person  worked out this tough situation’ and I can respect that even if I disagree.   The situation was also not set up to make the decision an obvious one because it isn’t.  It’s complicated as it should be.

In Me Before You the one character who disagrees with the ending was treated like a religious zealot and shrew who shuns her own daughter for months after it happens.  Like I said, the book piled on the manipulative aspects like few I have ever seen before.


coverss.pngIn the end, this is a completely subjective gauge of whether something is emotional or manipulative.  A lot of people really love Me Before You and Fault in Our Stars where I didn’t.  That’s cool but I think most people can name a book or movie where they felt manipulated.  Where an author or creator was trying to force an emotion out of you that is undeserved or opposite of how you really feel.  That’s when a story will make me angry or annoyed.  It’s that compulsion when you should have some freedom of interpretation within a story that really turns me off.

What do you think about this topic?  What’s a movie/book that you felt manipulated by? It may be something I really like.  That’s what makes talking about these things so interesting.

Spotlight Movie Review

Just thought I would share this review with you guys for the film Spotlight. It is truly one of the best of the year and I can’t recommend it more highly.

Rachel's Reviews

spotlight5It’s movies like Spotlight that make me wish the Academy Awards had a Best Ensemble award because every single player in this journalism expose film is about as good as it gets.  This whole movie is without a doubt one of the best of the year and I really think it is an important movie for all to see.

Spotlight is based on the 2001-2002 investigative journalism done by a wing of the Boston Globe called spotlight.  They spent nearly 2 years researching abuse in the Catholic Church and by the end uncover 70 predators and the widespread cover-up that allowed this evil to persist.

But that might make it sound depressing and it is certainly sobering but I was surprised how many times I smiled.  The script is so well written and the performances so great that it feels like we are following real people who of course are…

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Star Wars Ep 4: New Hope Review and Discussion

Our review and discussion of one of my favorite movies of all time- Star Wars Episode 4: New Hope. How it all got started. What a great film!

Rachel's Reviews

So we have gotten through the prequels and I think had a pretty good time doing it and now on to the cream of the crop!  Yesterday my friends Abby and Jeremy and I discussed the original Star Wars movie. This is a film that I think is just about perfect.  If I was going on a desert island it would be a film I would take with me.  I love the characters, action, pacing, setting, lore, and everything else.  Nevertheless, we aren’t just drooling fans but have a good discussion on the film I think you will enjoy.

Just as I have done in the past Star Wars reviews here is my summary of Episode 4.


The original Star Wars ep 4 starts 19 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. The galaxy has split up into two groups, rebels and the larger Galactic Empire. At…

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