Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another Year, Another Chapter.....

    2013 winds down and for whatever reason I tend to think and reflect this time of year. It probably has something to do with visiting my grand parents grave site. I wrote a whole other blog about that so feel free to read if you need more about that. Christmas is never really an easy holiday for me. I am not being selfish, but it has been the same since my grand mother passed. I suppose I don't have one particularly great Christmas memory of my grandma beyond the fact that she was always there. I suppose that is special enough. My family is spread out and it's been awhile since we were all together at the same time on Christmas. This year Lauren will experience her first Christmas without her great grandmother, who was the center of her family holiday. I truly hope her holiday is a good one.

   When I look back at 2013, I can't help but wish things were a little closer to what they used to be. People are certainly different. I remember the excitement that used to surround the holiday. Don't get me wrong, there is still excitement, but I overheard the conversation of two moms in Target and they were not quite happy. Christmas has become the most materialistic time of the year and not everyone can keep up. I didn't start writing to bring anyone down, but reality is reality.

   I look at where I have come from in the last year and I count myself among the blessed. I get to do a job that I love. I was given the opportunity to build something and while it is challenging, it is starting to become what I envisioned nearly two years ago. Despite what people will say about it, my company has done nothing short of show me respect and provide me with opportunities to grow. My career finally feels like it is growing and after several years, it's a good feeling. I have a building full of great people to work with and that doesn't happen very often and for me it has happened a third time. Dysfunctional our work family may be, but I get to work with some good people and at the end of the day, I am thankful for that.

  It's not been an easy year for my family, but somehow they manage to pull through. I am finally accepting the fact that my step dad isn't immortal, but he will always be my hero. If I have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, Bob is certainly the angel and my conscience. I hope the stress on my mom lessens. She deserves it. We have lived with nothing and dined like kings and in both cases my mom made sure we had the best she could give. I look back an appreciate both now more than ever before.

The world will not do anyone any favors. I get irritated when I see people selling lies and pretending to do well. I try to treat people the same year round. If I don't like you in March, I still don't like you in December. I try and do things for the right reasons and not so I look good doing it. I have learned to be less temperamental. I have my moments, but we all do.

 So at the most materialistic time of the year, I have this to offer. Gifts will always mean more from the heart and not from the wallet. I love nice things. We all do, but at the end of the day a little good will is a gift that the entire world could use.  If you have wasted 2013 trying to keep up with or live someone Else's dream, I hope 2014 is the year you live your own.  The world isn't perfect, situations are never perfect, but we only get out of it what we put in. It gets frustrating to keep fighting and not get ahead, but winners hustle harder and it can't rain all the time.

 I'll end with a quick note to my grandma. I am lucky enough to go home everyday to someone who love me for me. Accepts my faults, (and there are plenty of them) stands by me, and appreciates what I am trying to be. It feels good to be back home. I am a better person. I love life again. I accept it's challenges and am excited again for the next chapter. I hope you like the flowers I left you and I hope you are proud of who I am becoming. I am not completely alright, but I am doing OK.

 To everyone else, I simply say Merry Christmas and good will towards men and women.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Anchorman 2 Breaking News or a Re-run

        Let's be clear, sequels are not easy. Comedies are even more difficult. It is hard to capture the same appeal of the first movie without being a carbon copy. Case in point, The Hangover 2. The original Anchorman is still quoted by people today and that is a lot of hype to live up too. The original cast is back and Will Ferrel seems to have fun with the Ron Burgundy character. I hope so because from ESPN to Dodge commercials, Burgundy is everywhere. Is it enough for the movie to work?

      Ron and Veronica have some issues and he quits the news business. Twenty four hour news is on the verge of launching and Ron and the team are recruited for the overnight shift. Burgundy does his thing and quickly they are back on top. New rivals, friendships, traumatic experiences, and the pressure of being the best force Ron Burgundy to decide whether it's news or family that he wants the most.

   The movie is silly. Almost too silly at times, but it's almost necessary. Anchorman 2 does a great job of not taking itself too seriously. The cast is great together, but I liked Steve Carell better the first go round. I think this time we get a little too much Brick for my taste. James Marsden is great as Burgundy's new rival and Megan Good is a lot of fun as Ron's new boss. Fans of the first will recognize the similarities from the first, but the movie does a good job of changing some of the classic moments from the previous installment.

   The cameos in the film are pretty impressive. Drake, Will Smith, Harrison Ford and more all add some fun moments to the film. I won't ruin all of them, but there are plenty to go around. The story is good, but it does go a little over the top at times. The supporting cast is great, but make no mistake, it is all about Burgundy.

   Will brings back everything you loved about Ron from the first film. The one liners are there, but not quite as strong. Magic is tough to capture twice, but Anchorman 2 does it's best. There is plenty of salon quality hair and news reading. There is a little jazz flute, some sex panther, and plenty of scotch. At the end of the day Ron Burgundy's legend continues and it's not bad. It's just not quite as good. Now you go see the movie and you stay classy blog readers.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Hobbit....The Longest Good Movie You May See This Year....

    The first Lord Of The Rings trilogy connected with a massive audience. Peter Jackson and the cast proved that fantasy, if done correctly, can be profitable and widely accepted. We were taken back to middle earth last year when Peter brought The Hobbit to the big screen to mixed reviews. The book is a single novel, but the movies have been split into another trilogy. There are plenty of people who disliked the first one, but I don't count myself among them. While I will admit that it didn't quite recreate the magic of Lord Of The Rings, it was entertaining. It was also long. We are now set to embark on another journey to middle earth so we ask the question, is it worth the trip?

  We pick up where the first leaves off. The Dwarfs are still attempting to reclaim their homeland and are being hunted by Azog (Manu Bennet) and his Orc army. The must get to their mountain home so that a secret door into their kingdom can be revealed. In the midst of their running, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) senses that a greater evil is returning and leaves the company. Bilbo and  the dwarfs continue to run from orcs, elves, giant spiders in their attempt to reach the underground kingdom. Ancient prophecies, a magic ring, and one danger after another makes it a difficult task. The company is also faced with a sleeping dragon that guards their stolen kingdom. If they can reclaim their home, what evil will be released to the world?

  This time around we are treated to much more action. Skirmish after skirmish helps us meet a couple of  new characters and get reintroduced to an old favorite. Legolas is back! Orlando Bloom has aged and gained a little weight and it does make a noticeable difference. We are meeting Legolas for the first time and to me he didn't look younger. He does command the screen and the same battle skill that we loved the first time around is back and fun to watch. Luke Evans debuts as Bard the Bowman. His heart is in the right place and I am interested to see his role expand in the third chapter. The skin changer, Beorn, makes a brief but memorable appearance too. We spend the most time with Bard, but when you have so much going on and so many characters, we don't always get enough time with some characters.

    Tauriel is the new character that stands out the most. Evangeline Lily brings her to life. She is tough and definitely battle tested, but she does have a heart. Her conflict over her kings wishes, but her kindness to the dwarfs makes for a great story. She has come a long way from Lost and watching her fight along side of Legolas is beyond entertaining. The story this time around is much better. Jackson does a great job of keeping each of the characters involved and even though it's long, it doesn't drag. 

   What I love about all of these movies is the look. Peter Jackson does a fantastic job of bringing middle earth to life. The details are so perfect. Everyone looks the part and nothing comes across low budget. The grunge of  Watertown, the epic scale of the mountain kingdom, and even the forest look flawless. We even take a trip back to the Prancing Pony and it looks the same as it did in The Fellowship of The Ring. 

 The movie is about Bilbo and Smaug. Their dialogue in the treasure room is a lot of fun. Benedict Cumberbcach is very well cast and the dragon looks amazing. Martin Freeman comes across more comfortable as Bilbo this time around. He event hints at little madness the more he secretly uses the one ring. Bilbo is still fumbling and awkward, but when mixed with Smaug's wit and arrogance, it really plays well. I still don't feel like the Hobbit films recaptures the heart of the originals, but it is worth a return trip to middle earth. I did find myself missing Golum, but I'm sure he'll be back for the next run.