winter bucket list

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.
-John Steinbeck

Experiencing winter can be a tough thing to do when you live in Texas. The weather doesn’t get very cold and we rarely see any snow, so enjoying holiday festivities takes a lot of mental energy. Every year I get my hopes up that this winter is going to be the winter I actually have some fun, but the reality always falls short. I’ve been inspired by a fellow blogger to create a list of things to accomplish this season to learn to have fun again.

So here is my list of things to do this winter:

  1. Go Ice Skating
  2. Build a Gingerbread Village
  3. Create a Sugar Cube House
  4. Look at Christmas Lights
  5. Bake and Decorate Christmas Cookies
  6. Take a Picture in Front of a Christmas Tree
  7. Sip Hot Chocolate on a Cold Night
  8. Knit a Scarf
  9. [Hopefully] Experience Snow
  10. Watch a Christmas Movie in a Vintage Theater
  11. Visit the Christmas Capital of Texas
  12. Read 5 Books

Let the winter festivities begin!

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movie review: star wars: the last jedi

Alright, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I did not like Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I wanted to like it. More than that, I wanted to love it. I got tickets to see it opening night, stayed up way past my bedtime for what was supposed to be the bedtime story of the year and was very much let down. It wasn’t the worst movie or the worst sequel, but – in my humble opinion – it didn’t live up to all of the hype.

*SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*

Last night I went over in my head why I was so disappointed in this movie and I came up with the following seven reasons:

The first 30 minutes were boring and monotonous.

The beginning was not exciting or entertaining. I wasn’t drawn in or excited about the story at all.

Too many new characters to care about.

This movie brought in too many new characters we are supposed to care about. In the original movies, you had supporting characters, but they only received screen time when it was relevant or helpful to the overall story. The opening scene of this movie, a young girl sacrifices herself to blow up this ship or weapon – which would have been okay, but then we meet her sister who becomes this underdog hero and apparently we are supposed to care about her. Then there is Poe, who I liked in The Force Awakens, but seemed to be off his game in this movie. And Finn who played a major role in The Force Awakens, but seemed to be chasing his tail in this movie. What was their purpose?

Leia using The Force not to die.

Leia is standing right next to a window on the ship when it is blasted and everything flows into space. Admiral Ackbar loses his life, the glass alone would have at least cut her up, but then we see her floating in space. What a peaceful death, right? Wrong. All of a sudden her finger twitches and her eyes pop open and she USES THE FORCE to make it back to her ship after she already should have been long dead. This was so cheesy and not at all believable. The worst scene in the entire movie – I had to hold back from laughing. Besides Leia being a Skywalker and being told the Force is strong with her family, it has never been said that she knew how to use the Force or trained to be a jedi. Yet here she is saving herself from death using it, perfectly. I don’t buy it.

The cheap laughs.

Since when is Star Wars a cheesy comedy? Jar Jar Binks was supposed to bring comic relief to the prequels and majority of fans hate him, so why bring in these stupid creatures just for laughs? Sure, there was comedy in the originals, but it was because of brilliant character development and story telling, not because the movie feels a bit too serious. As my husband put it as we were leaving, “It felt like they tried to make a serious movie for children.” It was in the very apparent “laugh” scenes that I felt Disney shine through more than ever.

The casino planet.

This planet was a complete waste of twenty minutes of screen time. Everything about it. Just bad. I felt it was only there to tell Rose’s backstory and give an opening to the end (which they could have done any other way that actually connects to the real story). We don’t care about Rose’s backstory; we never heard Lando Calrissian’s backstory and we liked him just fine – let her be a supporting character and leave it at that!

Who is Snoke?

During The Force Awakens, they kept talking about this great and powerful Snoke (almost like the Wizard of Oz). He always appears huge in his holographic form, but we never had any information on him. In this film, we get to meet him and see him in his true form and he basically dies three seconds later. We are just supposed to accept that he seems to have mind control abilities (which seems more like a jedi trait), yet he couldn’t see Kylo Ren using the force to kill him? Really? I also want to know who he his, how he came to power, and why he looks the way he does? Also, Luke said that Snoke was already in his head – well could you expand on that? It just seemed silly to have this supposedly important character in only like 10 minutes of both movies. We want more.

Where was the conflict/connection between and inside of Rey and Kylo Ren?

The only part I actually enjoyed in this movie was the great scene where Rey goes to Kylo Ren to turn him and is brought before Snoke. The fight scene between Kylo Ren and Rey was fantastic and I loved seeing them work together, but in The Force Awakens there is supposed to be this connection between them, but all I saw in this movie was Snoke “bridging their minds,” it had nothing to do with a genuine connection. WTF! Also, both Kylo Ren and Rey are supposed to have serious pull the each side of the Force. Kylo Ren is supposed to be battling the good inside him and Rey is supposed to be battling her pull to the dark, but we BARELY SEE IT. I wanted to see a lot more of the Kylo Ren and Rey backstory and just of them in general instead of all the hooplah surrounding Finn and Poe.

All in all, I want more from these new movies. If you are going to continue a brilliant series and a classic story, you need to bring something new, original, and creative to the story. Well instead of new, original, and creative, we just keep getting “been there, done that” and I’m growing tired of it. I feel like they love to stir up the suspense and make it seem like they are building something totally mind blowing and then not following through… which is what happened with The Last Jedi to me. It doesn’t feel like they know where they want the story to go and that is a problem. You can’t write a story based on what you think the audience wants to see; you have to write an incredible story and go with it.

If you choose to see it, prepare for some cheap laughs and disappointment.

thoughts on pretty little liars first three seasons

Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool my best friend? You’re dead meat.
-Hanna Marin

The fact that I jumped off the Pretty Little Liars train back in high school has never escaped me. I had to live with it for years as my friends gushed about the newest clue they were being fed. After being a fan for the first two seasons, watching religiously every week, I just got tired of nothing ever adding up. Mid season three I decided I was done with it and joked with my friends that they would be watching it till they were thirty.

Occasionally, I would hear a tidbit about the show and wonder if I should have stuck it out, but quickly squashed it. About a year ago, I was scrolling through Netflix looking for something new to binge watch and came across the show. I didn’t start it then, but I added it to my list and made a deal with myself: I would watch it when it had ended. I felt this way, I would know it had a definite end to the story and I wouldn’t have to be bothered by feelings of it never going anywhere.

Well if you aren’t a fan of the show then let me fill you in – the show ended, finally!

Now that the show is over, I decided it was time. I needed a good guilty pleasure show to watch and this one was a prime candidate. I began all the way back in season one a couple weeks ago and I just started season four yesterday. It turns out that although the story is totally and completely far fetched and dramatically cheesy, I am really enjoying it! I have come up with two reasons why this could be:

  1. I am not watching it with my mom, so I don’t have to hear her commentary about how that girl shouldn’t be sleeping with her teacher and blah blah blah, but instead I can swoon and watch in pure bliss.
  2. I no longer have to wait a week between episodes. With binge-watching and accessibility (thanks Netflix!) comes better understanding – the clues make more sense, because they are fresh in my mind. I’m able to speculate more on who I think is “A” and try to piece together my own theories in peace and generally enjoy the show more.

I will admit that the show still makes me think WTF!? like every episode, but I can’t help it and I definitely can’t quit watching!

movie review: home alone 2

They’re kind of the same thing. If you won’t use your heart, who cares if it gets broken? If you just keep it to yourself, maybe it’ll be like my rollerblades. When you do decide to try it, it won’t be any good. You should take a chance. Got nothing to lose.
-Kevin McCallister

Home Alone is a classic holiday movie; I would even go as far as to say it is on majority of people’s top five holiday film lists. I can honestly say that I watch it at least twice a year and get a genuine laugh everytime! The story never gets old.

Well, I always knew that Home Alone had sequels, but had never given them a watch until last night. Last night I watched Home Alone 2: Lost in New York for the first time… and while watching I had many comments, concerns, and questions.

How Do You Forget Your Kid Twice?
Not just twice – TWO YEARS IN A ROW!! I feel like Kate McCallister is the most irresponsible mother on the planet! If I was in her shoes and I had left my kid at home the year before while taking a major trip, I would be physically making sure I see all of my kids in the car before I left the house, then physically gripping his hand as I ran to the terminal, and then physically checking to make sure he was in his seat before that plane took off… Like how does she not check?? I hope she got some questions from CPS on why she can’t keep up with her kid.

How Can You Be So Naive?
I am specifically referring to the conflict between Buzz and Kevin. I understand it to a point, because I have an older brother, but this is just ridiculous! We see it in the first movie with Buzz eating the cheese pizza he knew was for Kevin and then making a tacky remark to get a rise out of Kevin; obviously Kevin shouldn’t have retaliated, but really is no one going to punish Buzz for causing the conflict to begin with? Then we have the same kind of thing at the church concert. Kevin has a solo and Buzz starts doing dumb things behind Kevin getting the audience to laugh [which by the way in what world are people so cruel/stupid that they would laugh at that] then Kevin realizes what is happening and pushes Buzz causing all of the other students to fall; once back home Buzz says the most pathetic, fake apology and his mom buys it and gets mad at Kevin. Woman are you blind??

How Can You Let Your Family Speak To Your Kid Like That?
It has always bothered me about how Kevin’s family speaks to him in the first movie… they make fun of him, call him names, and really demean him (you’re a little jerk, you’re a disease, you’re incompetent). If my family treated me like that, I would want them to disappear too! Nobody listens to him and they blame him for everything – real talk: the kid is nine/ten! I understand that kids can be annoying or inconvenient, but that is no reason to bully him. I mean his grown uncle joins in; why are his parents not putting a stop to this familial bullying?? Then to think that after he gets left behind and almost dies, they still don’t put a stop to their rudeness? Unbelievable!

How Are They Not In A Rehabilitation Center?
I know it’s a movie and I’m all for the good fun and unrealisticness of the first movie, but, seriously, how are the bandits not in some kind of rehabilitation center? They would have had wounds and scars and broken bones from the beating they took robbing the McCallister home, yet they weren’t even hurting when they got arrested and they looked good as new when they broke out of prison… ya I’m not buying it.

How Was The Airline Not Sued?
Again, I know it’s a movie, but how does this family not sue the airlines for letting their kid on a flight without checking for his boarding pass or make sure he finds his seat and/or family? He’s obviously a kid, maybe not an unaccompanied minor, but he does get on without a parent. I know the lady drops the boarding passes, but for a ten year old you don’t double check to make sure and then you don’t physically take him to his family after the pilot tells you to make sure? Really? Although the McCallister’s don’t need the money, I would definitely be talking to someone!!

Okay, so I have an obvious disgust for the McCallister family and I think his parent’s need to take a course on how to be responsible parents, but I think my biggest issue with the film was the fact that it is completely unoriginal and uncreative. It’s basically the same storyline from the first movie just not in New York… I just feel like they could have gotten a bit more creative with the story.

Although I didn’t think it was a fantastic story, I still think Macauley did a wonderful job and I got some good laughs in when the bandits were be tortured again! Overall, not the best sequel, but not a complete bust either!

| Lauren Grey

Originally posted here.