Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear - Grade: A+. AGH! WHY IS HE SOOOO GOOD?! This book was like literally 1000 pages and I just read and read and read them until there were none left and then I was heartbroken. Every word is necessary, every page is rife with story and excitement, and yet there's STILL SO MUCH he is keeping from us! I want to know all! I want to know now! One of the best books/series I've read this year, bar none.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of the Dwarven Depths - The Lost Chronicles, Vol. 1 - Grade: B-. If you've been following along, you know that I love me some Dragonlance. So when I discovered that they had, years later, penned a trilogy that took place in the MIDDLE of the original trilogy, I was apprehensive but excited. My mixed feelings proved to be with good reason. The storyline was a little shaky, but the characters I know and love were all there and all written properly. However, the authors seemed to have forgotten to do their homework in its entirety. There were some pretty glaring inconsistencies that came to light, especially when cross-referenced with the original trilogy (as I absolutely DID). That was disappointed to me, taking away from my love of the new series. :/

James Dashner's The Kill Order (prequel to The Maze Runner - Grade: C. I was really excited for this book as well. So many good books coming out! And this was to be the final installment in the series. After a decent trilogy that left plenty of questions and loose ends, I was hoping that this would wrap up everything with pretty little bows. Wah Wah. In reality, this book was marketed incorrectly. This wasn't a prequel, it was a prequel to the prequel. Boo. The only parts that even related to the trilogy (and thus by default) the most interesting parts of the book (read: the only parts I cared about) were the prologue and the epilogue and that was like 4 pages total. Everything else was way, way before. All the prequel did was stir up even more questions and loose ends than before, and resolved nothing. So very, very disappointed.

Richard Matheson's I Am Legend - Grade: B-. So I picked this up from my cousin because she was telling me when she read it, it was nothing like the movie other than they had the same name. I was intrigued by this and wanted to read for myself. It was indeed, starkly different. And the odd thing is when I was reading, I would take in a scene and there was plenty of exciting stuff that could have been made into a movie! It's not like the plot was boring or the pace was slow in the book. So I found it interesting that they altered the movie script SO much. Really, they are almost different entities. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of the Highlord Skies - The Lost Chronicles, Vol. 2 - Grade: B+. Once I start something, I have to continue it. So I did. I have to say that though this book had less inconsistencies and was a better story, I still really struggled to get through it. It took me SO long to read this book. I think I read 3 others in the time it took me to get through this one. So that was definitely not in its favor. I mean it wasn't awful, it's Dragonlance so I still enjoyed it, but not their best work.

Denise Shekerjian's Uncommon Genius: Tracing the Creative Impulse with Forty Winners of the MacArthur Award - Grade: B+. In my continuing quest to enrich and enlighten myself (which started with Everyday Genius), I picked this as my next "homework" book. Basically these are books that I'm reading not so much for "fun" or the story, but to learn, educate, and make myself into a more awesome human being. This one delved into the lives and insights of 40 MacArthur Winners (someone nominate me for one!) and how they deal with creativity. I enjoyed the book and found much of it interesting, but I don't know entirely how effective or helpful it was in the long run.

Timothy Carter's The Cupid War - Grade: B. You cannot imagine my excitement when I saw that Timothy Carter had a new novel out! Because so far he has been nothing but amazing and giggles. I discovered him quite by accident when I was reading random things for SWILUA and that one was pretty good. But Carter became a cherished favorite when I read his next book, EVIL? and just could not, at any moment, stop laughing. HYSTERICAL. So I had to get this one. It was a really quick read, but it was no EVIL?. Also, just when all the world/char/story-building was reaching its peak and everything was set for an incredible war/epic/climax... the book ended. Done. Just like that. Wash the hands, tidy up and move on. Lame.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of the Hourglass Mage - The Lost Chronicles, Vol. 3 - Grade: B. I have to say of the three, this one was the most interesting. It told the most plausible story and filled in holes that worked seamlessly in with the other books. But let's be honest. Raistlin is Weis' favorite character and there's a prequel book just about him, so he's a really fleshed out character. As a new trilogy overall, I don't know that they won me over enough to go on my shelf and join the other DragonLance books. I think I want to keep my chronicles pure and clean of errors and discrepancies. Am I mad they exist? Not really. Just not my favorites.

Allison Burnett's The House Beautiful - Grade: C. So this is the sequel to Christopher, that I had picked up way back in January when I pretended to take a class for about a week (that is now a Creative Writing blog!) and then realized it was a sequel. I finally got there. This book took some getting into. I still absolutely hated the protagonist. But I felt like the characters of the House that Burnett wrote were more believable and fleshed out than his first book, so that's an improvement. Not a favorite though.

Mary Alice Kellogg's Easy Choices, Hard Decisions - Grade: C. It took me way longer to get through this book than is should have. This was another adventure in "homework." And the more I read, the more the process used MATH. And I don't MATH. Ew. However, in the book's defense the process seems to work. I've had two other people use it and it seemed to help them, so there's that. It's effective, but it's MATH. So if you like that sort of thing, I guess check it out. Not my thing.

Chris Wooding's Endgame - Grade: B-. So I've been trying ever since probably 2006 to find this series called Broken Sky that was recommended to me, but without success. So I did some googling and searching and came across these books. The internet mis-informed me that Broken Sky was a thing, and this was the first book. Well, the library didn't carry it, so I broke down and bought the thing. When it arrived, I immediately got into it. Kids talking about World War... threats... wow, what an exciting series! Some of the characters weren't well-developed and I didn't relate to them/believe their actions, but the plot wasn't god-awful. As I neared the end of the book though I wondered how this was going to build into the series I was expecting it to. Then the end comes and [SPOILER ALERT!!!] everyone dies. WAIT, WHAT?!? I was SO SO SO confused. Well turns out that further googling and searching reveals that indeed this is a stand-alone (NOT Broken Sky) and it has a piss-poor ending. Wah wah. Broken Sky is apparently only in the UK. *Sigh.*

Rick Riordan's The Mark of Athena (Book 3 in The Heroes of Olympus series) - Grade: A. Ohhh! I was so excited for this book to come out! It came out October 2nd and I got it November 14th. I devoured the first 3/4ths of the book in like two days, then savored the end. Unlike his last book, I had not troubles with this one. Loved every minute of it. Riordan is seriously at the top of his game right now and I cannot believe I have to wait for the next one! AGH!!!

Bonus book: I have no idea when/where this got left off, but I've done searches and I clearly never reviewed it, yet I know I've read it. So here's a bonus review of a book I read sometime in 2011...

Louise Erdich's The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse - Grade: B. This book came recommended by a dear friend, otherwise I don't know that this is one I ever would have picked up. There were parts that were confusing/hard to get through, but really the book/plot were intriguing, engaging, and thoroughly interesting. I would recommend this one if you like books such as My Name is Asher Lev, The Great Gatsby, Kindred, The Scarlet Letter. Definitely more of a literary fiction read than a fluffy, fun sword-slinging adventure tale.




And I will fight every day to have them. And I will never stop until I draw my last breath.

Thank you to all those who believed in me before I believed in myself. I owe so much to you. And thank you to all those who continue to believe in me and buoy me up as I continue fighting every day to make them reality. I am so, so blessed.

"Roots Before Branches"

So many things
To do and say
But I can't seem
To find my way
But I wanna know how
I know
I'm meant
For something else
But first
I gotta find myself
But I don't know how

[Rachel with Finn harmonizing:]
Oh, why do
I reach for the stars
When I don't have wings
To carry me that far?

[Rachel with Finn:]
I gotta have
Roots before branches
To know who I am
Before I know
Who I wanna be
And faith
To take chances
To live like I see
A place in this world
For me

[Rachel (Finn):]
I don't wanna feel
I don't wanna feel)

And forget the pain
Is real
(And forget the pain
Is real)

Put my head
In the clouds

Oh, start to run
And then I fall
(start to run
And then I fall)

I can't get it all
Without my feet
On the ground
I can't get it all
Without my feet
On the ground)

There's always a seed
Before there's a rose
The more that it rains
The more I will grow

[Rachel with Finn:]
I gotta have
Roots before branches
To know who I am
Before I know
Who I wanna be
And faith
To take chances
To live like I see
A place in this world
For me

Whatever comes
I know how to take it
Learn to be strong
I won't have to fake it
Oh, you're understandin'
The wind can come
And do its best
Blow me north, and south,
East and west
But I'll still
Be standing
I'll be standing

[Rachel & Finn with New Directions:]
If I have
Roots before branches
To know who I am (To know who I am)
Before I know
Who I'm gonna be
And faith
To take chances
To live like I see
A place in this world

I gotta have
Roots before branches
To know who I am
Before I know
Who I wanna be
And faith

[New Directions:]
To take chances
And live like I see
A place in this world
For me

I gotta have
Roots before branches




So as many people know, I was in Dallas this past weekend helping my brother move so he could start a new job. However, on my way to the airport I left my phone at his house. I discovered this when I was ready to check-in. In a mad dash, I flew back down the escalator and got to my brother before he pulled out to drive away. We searched his car and I upended most of my things frantically. It became evident that I had not had my phone on the 40-minute drive to the airport, and that it had to be at his house. Unfortunately, I had to work on Monday and all the flights for Sunday didn't look good, and so this was the last flight out of the day, and I had to be on it. No time to go back.

When my brother got back to his apt, he discovered that indeed my phone was there. He took it to a FedEx shipping center and overnighted it to me, but since it was the weekend they weren't shipping. It would go out Monday and arrive Tuesday by 3pm guaranteed.

However, the tracking number he gave me didn't work, so I couldn't see where the package was or do anything about changing it online. Nor could I call FedEx and ask them to change the destination so that it would not arrive at my house when I wasn't there to receive it. Nor could I inform my brother to change it on his end because he had no internet yet, and only his phone, which I didn't.

So. The phone was delivered yesterday at 3pm, but because I was not there to receive it, they left a note. They would try again tomorrow at 3pm, again when I wouldn't be there. I had no clue how I was ever going to get that stupid package and get my life back on an even keel.

At 5:30pm, I got off work. Then I walked to the bus stop at the end of the block. The bus was 10 minutes late arriving. Finally I got on, and rode it 7 blocks to my polling place. There was relatively no line, though it did take a minute to sort out why I was there when I was listed as "absentee." But I'd brought my unvoted mail ballot (that I hadn't voted because it had turned sort of green and I was worried it wouldn't count), and all was put to rights. When I went to the ballot box, my card would not work. Delay #2. A poll worker had to come over, sort out my card, and finally I was set to vote. I took my time, though I already had my mind up about everything before, so really it was a matter of clicking. I didn't rush, or hurry through it, I just took my time. When I was done, I started for home. About a block into it, I recalled that I was going to head north (away from home) to grab a geocache to fulfill my one-per-day-in-November Challenge I was working on. So I turned around and backtracked to make the find. It took me about 5 minutes to answer all the questions (it was a Virtual) and be on my way again. I was in no hurry, and don't recall walking particularly fast.

As I neared 4th east (my street), I said to myself, I'll just cut through this business plaza right here and save myself a little time. As I was crossing the darkened plaza, I heard some noises. Turns out it was a FedEx guy picking up the day's end packages.

My heart started racing. Could he...? I waited until he was done, and then quite literally scared him (on accident) by asking if he was the truck that delivered to my house. He nodded that he was. I asked did he have a package that had my name on it? He did indeed! He asked me if I had been following him. HA! I mean, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?!


I just randomly happened to cross paths with the one guy in the city who could get me that package THREE AND A HALF HOURS AFTER HE INITIALLY TRIED TO DELIVER IT TO ME. I ABOUT DIED ON THE SPOT. THAT LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED.


So. I have my phone back. Sorry to everyone whose calls and texts I missed. But I'm back on the grid, so text/call away (though I'm working today until 5:30 :P)!

I have to say that I'm really excited for Election Day. Because it's an opportunity for me to stand up and say that my voice matters. And it does.

And I don't have to necessarily side with either of the two parties backed by ridiculous, absurd amounts of $$$ coming from PACs and Super-PACs. I can vote for the person I believe most accurately represents me. Which is what everyone should be doing, no matter the state, no matter the party, no matter the debates.

I commend and applaud all the third-party candidates who were unable to get time on the big screen in the main presidential debates, because we are focused on the broken two-party system. This is supposed to be a democracy, not a left-against-right battle. The work they are doing to make sure that everyone has an equal voice and an equal opportunity receives not only my nod of approval, but my support. Watching the third-party debate was enlightening, and refreshing.

Many people I hear whining about how their vote doesn't count because of the state they live in. Well, Gary Johnson has something to say about that: "Wasting your vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in. That’s wasting your vote." He invites all of you to waste your votes on him this election, and then he'll laugh as he becomes President.

No matter what you believe, no matter what side you draw yourself ally to, please, please - stand up and be counted.

I know I will.

I tell everyone all the time that I am a writer. But really, what do I write? Because I'll even confess to not writing as much as I should be.

Part of this I attribute to laziness. Part to ADHD. Part to anxiety. Part to...I could make a really long list.

Suffice it to say that a few days ago I dredged my computer for excerpts and scenes from my novel, and I found way more than I realized I had. Go me! I *AM* a writer! Including whole scenes that I think about and say "hmm this will be difficult to write." Yeah, except I already wrote it!!! :)

So to help me overcome some of my obstacles... I've been trying to find ways to be more creative about my creativity. The newest foray: Choose-your-own-adventure-style collaborative decision-making. I've resurrected my other blog and will be peeling back the curtains on my writing. Which scares me to death. I'm also kind of excited.

But I'm doing it anyway. I will be sharing characters, cities, world, etc., as well as bits of my story. But my readers will choose who they meet and what gets written next!!! (Genius!)

Please note that because of the sensitive content on this blog, IT IS PRIVATE. There's just too much opportunity to have my materials stolen/pilfered if it's not. Sorry. If you'd like an invite, please comment, text, message, etc., and I will invite you at my discretion.

50/50 (Jan 7) - Grade: B. Triple play action! To celebrate my newly-rediscovered freedom, we went to the Dollar Theatre for a triple-flick extravaganza! Woo! First was this movie which I had seen slated as a "comedy." And Seth Rogen was in it too. So I was thinking your Superbad, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express type of comedy I don't generally appreciate. But I believe this film was mislabeled. It was serious, and actually rather heavy amid its light-hearted comedic quips. I really enjoyed this film.

Real Steel (Jan 7) - Grade: B-. A lot of people have hated on this movie for being absurd, horrid, ridiculous, etc. You name the adjective, it's probably been thrown at this movie. But I don't really agree. Granted, it's not your X-men, but I didn't think any of the acting was poorly done. It's a camp story, but it was executed in the right ways, and I enjoyed this flick just as much as the next kid.

The Help (Jan 7) - Grade: A. I haven't read the book, so maybe I missed out, but I loved this film. Loved. Emma Stone was priceless, the message was heavy, heavy, heavy. It raised a lot of questions for me about issues we still face in 2012 and not just in terms of race. Which is still an issue, contrary to popular belief. I definitely cried at the end. What an amazing testament to human spirit and resilience. This is a must-see.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Feb 9) - Grade: C. The previews for this movie made it look like this movie was going to be absolutely incredible. And with it centered around an event so near and dear to my own heart, I was hoping it would find a place on my shelf of "movies that I bawl through, destroy me, and make me a better person all at once." But it just didn't come together on this one. Don't get me wrong. Most of the performances are amazing. But there are pieces missing. It didn't grab my heartstrings and rip them out and never stop like I wanted it to. I would have written the ending just a little differently to get the result I wanted. There were pieces that should have been included that weren't, and that frustrated me.

The Secret World of Arrietty (Mar 8) - Grade: A-. I love The Borrowers and I grew up reading The Littles so I already wanted to see this. And then to find out that Miyazaki was involved? Yes please! I really only had one complaint about this movie, and that was the wasted opportunity in animating their house. So many things like the needle, etc., were "big" stuff that the "littles" used, but that was absent in the house make-up for the most part. I wanted to see the kitchen table be a button, and them using a thimble as a pitcher, etc. I think there was a great opportunity for a lot of that to be incorporated that was missed. Other than that, I loved it.

The Hunger Games (Mar 23) - Grade: D. I am one of like 3 people on Earth who hated this movie. [ INSERT RANT HERE]

John Carter (Apr 12) - Grade: F. This movie was awful, which for Disney is saying something. The best part of the whole movie was that giant slobbery dog-lizard thing. Only redeeming character. The movie was camp and it wasn't supposed to be. The acting was sub-par, the writing terrible, and it was awful. Don't waste your time.

Lockout (Apr 13) - Grade: C. This movie was so forgettable I couldn't even remember what it was and had to look it up. Then I still couldn't remember having seen it. I had to read a complete synopsis to jog my memory. And then, only just barely. Nothing to write home about here.

Cabin in the Woods (Apr 15) - A+. Love, love, love. Joss Whedon is pretty a complete genius at everything he does. I was a little worried about this movie since I'm not big on horror or the 'hack and slash' genre, but Whedon was at the top of his game here (though he's gotten more fame from Avengers when he made this. It's almost a parody of the horror genre in its entirety. There are scary and bloody parts, but trust me, it's NOT what you think it is. AT ALL. And that's part of why this movie is so amazing. Maybe the best film I've seen all year!

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009) (Apr 19) - Grade: C. I continue my seemingly futile quest to find quality gay flicks that are not Prayers for Bobby. I was intrigued when I saw Jim Carrey starring in this film, but apparently his acting swings both ways. Ewan McGregor is super attractive in this film, but the storyline is a little too contrived for my liking. And Carrey's character is clearly crazy. I didn't hate it, but I don't recommend it.

BULLY (Apr 29) - Grade: A. This movie was incredibly eye-opening. Before I say anything else, I will say this: SEE THIS MOVIE. ABSOLUTELY SEE THIS MOVIE. It is engaged in enlightening people about a very serious problem that affects our young people. I totally bawled through at least half of this movie, because I identified so, so strongly with the characters. After it was over, I was chatting idly with my friends and I was absolutely shocked to learn that this story was NOT in fact all of theirs as well. I had just taken for granted that the people I took with me had all suffered like the kids in this movie. Like me. I will never be able to look back at my childhood with fondness or happiness. I can only take from it the strength that was beaten into me. And that to me, is a tragedy. I made it, but there are so many more who don't. Bullying is NOT okay, and somehow that message needs to be spread, because as they say in the film - most of the kids who bully learn it (unfortunately) from their parents. It doesn't just all of a sudden spawn out of them. This film was heart-wrenching and a little too close to home for me, but I believe that absolutely everyone should see it.

Thor (May 29) - Grade: B-. This movie was okay. Capt. America was better. Maybe the Iron Man(s) were too. This movie was probably the most important prequel to see going into Avengers, but it wasn't the best. Maybe Natalie Portman was part of the problem? I just don't really love her. Chris Hemsworth is pretty... but I liked him better in Cabin in the Woods to be honest. I dunno. Maybe I'm just biased because I want my Justice League.

The Avengers (June 5) - Grade: A. I can't really fault this movie. Because it's Joss. And Joss is everything. This movie undertook something that hadn't been done before really, and with 5 prequels, it definitely lived up to the hype. It was a great story, the fx were ridiculous, and Joss made it hysterically funny as well. Wonderful action movie. No qualms here.

The Adventures of Tin Tin (July 10) - Grade: C. Everyone was really excited for this classic comic to come to the big screen. I was excited too. The animation was absolutely mind-blowing, and sometimes I forgot it wasn't live action. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with the comics, but there was too much camp for me. It was just overdone and needed to be toned down a bit in my opinion. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't anything amazing.

BRAVE (?) - Grade: A. I'm really sad that I don't remember when I went to see this movie! But I loved it. Everything about it. Such a great story, such great characters, loved the female lead, everything was spot-on with this movie. Definitely a must-see.

Magic Mike (July 15)- Grade: C. Em and I went to see this one together. Because let's be honest... So the movie was not at all what I was expecting, which was hot men shaking what they got. Well, it DID give that, but then it also tried way too hard, way too late, to be a serious movie with a plot. I mean, I'll give it credit for trying to have a plot when almost everyone believed it wouldn't have ANY, but it tried to be heavy-hitting in the wrong places without enough backstory and/or character support, and it just hurt the film badly. Especially the ending. That shouldn't have happened. There should have been more shaking and dancing. The best parts of the whole movie were when Channing was actually legit dancing. Because he can!

Batman: Dark Knight Rises (July 20) - Grade: B-. Midnight Premiere! I've seen all the Batmans now and I have to say this one was my least favorite. (Although Joseph Gordon-Leavitt FTW). I always thought this inception of Batman sounded completely idiotic... then I heard Bane talk. Really, though? There were some exciting plot twists that took me by surprise, and the action was wonderful as always. Also, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was spot-on casting. She killed that role. I think I liked the first one best, though this one did not have its redeeming moments. The second one was incredibly dark, and I'm not so much into that, which is why I think they got progressively worse. Again, though, don't hate them. This is still a B- film and I wouldn't try and stop you from seeing it.

More movie action is coming your way!

James Dashner's The Death Cure - Grade: A. This is the third installment in The Maze Runner which, if you haven't started reading them, you should. Because they are pretty awesome. Again, I struggled to remember what happened in the previous book, especially some of the characters. I don't know if that's because they weren't developed well-enough to be memorable, or just that I suck at remembering. But again, Dashner is in his element, producing a heart-pounding, page-turning, gripping novel. As I got near the last 30 pages, I didn't want to keep reading, because THE END was coming! Nooooooooo!!! I don't WANT the end! My heart was racing for so much of the book. Dashner knows how to keep readers on the edge of their seats, that's for sure. I enjoyed this one alot.

Rick Riordan's The Son of Neptune (second book in The Heroes of Olympus series) - Grade: A-. Another victory for Riordan. I struggled to get through this book at parts, but for the most part the action and story were intriguing, engaging, and the characters believable and relate-able. I think Riordan does a good job of continuing the saga, and feel that he has achieved success where authors like Jacques fall short in simply reproducing what they've already done, simply in a different light. Riordan is not that author. His material is fresh, diverse, and always interesting.

Charles Jensen's The First Risk - Grade: B. This is a collection of poetry documenting four separate accounts: 1) the murder of Matthew Shepard and the myth of Venus and Adonis through the eyes of Italian Renaissance painter Luca Cambiaso; 2) the eccentric women of Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother and their search for authenticity; 3) the nature of love and obsession in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and the pain and confusion of loss; and "The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon," the compelling novella-in-verse of a physicist in search of his lost wife, haunted by a phantom voice that may or may not be hers. This collection really struck with the poems about Matthew Shepard. I found them very, very powerful and spell-binding in their prose. I cried too. I found the poems haunting, and beautiful at the same time. The other three sections left me wanting, but that could have been simply because I didn't connect with them on the same level. The words were pretty, they didn't seem poorly written... but they did not capture like the Matthew poems had.

Allison Burnett's Christopher - Grade: C. I actually stumbled across the sequel to this novel (The House Beautiful - review forthcoming) when I was doing my search for gay poetry. I put it back though, so I could read this one. It was eh, which seems to be my opinion on most gay-themed Lit. The main character was a soppy, hopeless fat man who gives real gays a bad name. I'm glad this book isn't wildly popular actually. The main character has a hopeless crush on the dashing young tenant next door...I'm just glad it didn't play out the way I thought it would. Christopher (said dashing fellow) remained ardently straight and B.K. never got what he wanted. Which I suppose in all fairness makes the book more believable and reliable, but still. The unattainability of Christopher led B.K. to do raucous, unfulfilling things that most people who are ignorant of gays think we ALL engage in. Not my favorite 'model citizen' book.

Leah Cypess' Nightspell - Grade: A-. I'll bump up the grade on this one ever so slightly, because I thought her second novel really outdid Mistwood. The plot was more cohesive and well-done. She's definitely improved. There was less characterization than her first novel, but overall still well done. Apparently, there is a character that spans both novels, though the connection was so stretched/faint I could not even tell/remember. I did read some on the subject though, and the link is there I guess. The world was interesting, as was the concept, though some of the "twists" were predictable. I like her writing, and will read whatever she writes next.

Clint Catalyst's Cottonmouth Kisses - Grade: B-. This was one of my poetry forays, and was a book with short stories, poems, and essays. Parts of the book really resonated with me and I said, "yes, he got it. This is what gay feels like." But other parts were drug-tripped, chaotic, and seemingly nonsensical and I could not relate to them no matter how I tried. So, mixed bag.

Poppy Z. Brite's Drawing Blood - Grade: C. This novel was suggested to me (again) during my gay poetry phase. I finally got to it, and I can't believe I read the whole thing. Again, my feelings are torn. First off, the plot is insane. Twisted, horrific, and dark, it's about a boy whose father murders his whole family and then commits suicide, leaving this one son alive. The son returns after 20 years to the scene of the crime and tries to reconcile his past with his present. It ended up being gay lit, featuring a love story with the two main characters. But the story was tainted by creepy, weird, bizarre happenings and love-making evolving out of bloody fighting. It was just weird and didn't sit right with me. Not one I'd recommend unless you go for that sort of thing.

Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind - Grade: A. Wow, wow, wow. Wow. I haven't read a book this good since The Magicians. I devoured this book, loved every moment of the plot, and could not put it down. The one issue I took with this novel was that I felt like Rothfuss started to build up the story, and then was like, just kidding. Before we can get to that, we have to go back to when I was 5... and then he launches into his main char's backstory, while dangling tidbits of the present every so often. I have now read the first two books in the series, and I still feel like the "story" hasn't even started... sigh. I don't know. Everything about this series is brilliant though. Riveting, and a must read.

Mary-Elaine Jacobsen's Liberating Everyday Genius - Grade: B+. So, in my attempt to better myself and better know myself, I picked this book at the recommendation of Sarah. Basically the book addresses the fact that in our society we have designed curriculum and programs for Gifted children, so they can learn and excel at their own speed, but then once they graduate... we pretend they disappear. Which isn't the case. As a gifted person, I find this plight unique, baffling, and sometimes daunting. But it's true. We just expect these kids that we've separated out and provided accelerated learning to, to just re-integrate into normal society once they turn 18, and that's just not possible. So the book addresses this issue and proposes things we can do as Gifteds, to alleviate some of our struggle and difficulty. It didn't provide all the answers, but it offered quite a few. I also felt like every time I read a chapter in this book, I found some way to apply it to the work I was trying to do with myself in meeting goals, and getting more writing done. I really enjoyed this book.

Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins - Grade: B. Now there's a classic kickback. Just like I had an itch oh so long ago to reread The Giver, this one has been on my list for a while. I finally found it for like $0.25 or something, so I got it and read through it in a few hours. I didn't remember it being as lonely as it was, nor did I remember it being based on true accountings, so that was cool. But it failed to move in the ways the very best of books do, so I didn't love love it.

Benjamin Alire Saenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Grade: B+. At first I wasn't sure what this book was going to be about, or where it was going. But I have to say from the very beginning all the way to the very, very end, I super, super enjoyed the narrative voice. I felt like it was 100% spot-on and really, really accurately reflected a 15-18 yr old. I felt like with making the characters Mexicans the author was trying to run some sort of commentary on race and discrimination, but it ended up feeling very underdeveloped to me, and fell flat it the places I felt like it was trying to be accented. Some of the time I couldn't tell if one of the characters was white or not. But I think I settled on them both being Latino. I also really struggled with the ease with which pot and alcohol had their places in the story. I can understand how my personal bias would play into that somewhat, but really the book all-but advocated under-age smoking and drinking. Once you're 18, I support the do-what-you-will mentality, but here it just seemed to me to be borderline-advocacy for teens to drink and smoke, which I would think would have some resonant with parents, no matter who they were. Am I crazy? It didn't seem to bother anyone else. But I liked the story and how it slowly sprang the "love" story on the reader. Some people I've seen have criticized the book for having a rushed ending, but I thought it was picturesque and perfect considering. For once, I found a romance that worked and wasn't painted in the wrong way. Granted, the other pieces of the book tarnish it's splendor, but at least it was there. Certain plot elements were too cookie-cutter "draw-attention-to-the-plight" for my liking, but I could see why the author included them.

More books to come in 2012! Keep on Reading!

So here we are again, except this year I'm posting this in October. So 2010 clearly wins. And you've all been good and read the Best of 2011..., right? You better! Also, can I just say - part of the reason I think I procrastinate posts like this (and the Best of's) is because they take SO LONG! I can't just gush and his "publish." These posts take work, editing, setup, comparison, etc. This post took me like 4 hours to completely write.

The numbers are pretty interesting this go-round, and I'd say they have definitely been affected by Pandora. Because I could listen to that at work, but not my iPod/iTunes. So my #4 from last year comes in just under the #1 for this year, but then I have 9 songs this year that received less plays than the #25 last year. So there's alot more disparity in numbers in 2011.

I went on a shopping spree right at the end of 2010, so alot of new music, plus further buys in 2011 based on my Pandora loves. There's almost as big a shake-up as before, with only FOUR songs returning from last year. Although, 2 have resurfaced from 2009 as top favorites, so that's exciting. Last year was a year of Gothic music, with 6 songs showing from VNV Nation. None this time. So interesting how my listens change year to year. Okay, let's get to it!

24. Hero by Skillet (53), One of my more recent forays into rock has yielded this treasure of a band. I love them, and I'm glad that this song made the Top 25, but I'm actually surprised it's not higher up on the list.
24. The Night of Your Life is When You’ll Die by Capital Lights (53), this is one of only TWO ties we have this go-round. So that's saying something! Also, this band is fabulous. I was introduced to them via Pandora. They have such a unique style and sound. Oddly, this isn't my favorite song by them either.
23. Never Alone by Jesse Bonanno (54), he's also from my Pandora. I bought his album for this song, and he's not well known or popular, but this song is definitely a go-to when I'm feeling down.
22. She is Love by Parachute (59), I almost picked this band as my favorite of the year. But then I found that this album actually came out in 2009, though I did get in 2011, so technically I could have picked it. They are a super great band, I love their sound and style, and I saw them in concert.
21. Worth as Much as a Counterfeit Dollar by Capital Lights (60), again I love this band. Again, oddly not my favorite song. But definitely check them out if you haven't before! Their sound is original and like nothing else I have.
20. Marchin On by OneRepublic (64), a newcomer in 2010, debuting at #2, this song would almost seem remiss if it didn't make it again in 2011. Obviously I didn't need it as much in 2011, since it's dropped 18 spots, but it's still here. :)
19. Lifeline by Angels & Airwaves (66), this song has been in the top 25 every single year since I started. That's pretty impressive. I think it might be the only one! 2008: 14th, 2009: 25th, 2010: 20th.
18. One of These Days by New Crystal Dolls (68), interesting that this song made the cut. This is actually the new incarnation of Making April, at least the main singer is the same. Which kind of makes me sad, because I loved them SO much. This is either the only, or one of two, song(s) I have from them.
17. Beautiful Love by The Afters (70), I'll pretty much repeat verbatim what I said about Dirty Little Secret last year: "I don't know that I actually love this song... it's just that it's the first on my playlists, so if I just hit play this one comes on. So maybe it's here by default?"
15. The Saddest Song by Until June (87), I'm actually kind of sad this song didn't place better in the countdown. I absolutely love this band and this song is one of my personal favorites. Thank you again, Pandora. This band, like Capital Lights, has such an absolutely unique sound. I love the lead singer's voice. Check them out!
15. Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae (87), so this is radical news. This song comes from the FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT ONLINE. Like ever, ever. I had always bought the cd and ripped the music. But when this song came out... I could NOT get it out of my head, and then one day I was like WAGH!!! MUST LISTENNNNNNNN, and so I bought it. :) And here it is, tied for 15th.
14. Whatcha Say by Jason Derulo (88), this is one of my favorite songs to dance to, so I broke down and got the album. Clearly, it wasn't a waste.
13. Who You Are by Jessie J, (97), we have Stephiekins to thank for this one. She introduced me to this artist, just before she got super huge. Now probably everyone knows who she is (especially if you watched the Olympics). But I love her because she is a legit artist. The first video I saw of her was an acapella. No auto-tune here like so many other artists these days.
12. Shine On by Needtobreathe (102), yet another Pandora, yet another I bought the album for this one song. I like them, but some of their songs are too religious-y for me. This one, though has a special place (obvi).
11. Good Life by OneRepublic (110), Marchin' On isn't the only good thing to come out of OneRepublic's new album. This song also helps me pick myself up and feel good about everything when I'd rather not.

10. Bleed by Hot Chelle Rae (111), every single one of the Top 10 are on a special playlist I have called "My Top Rated." As they should be. I love, love, love this song and it was an unintentional gain when I got the HCR album. I'd put this in y personal Top 5, but it didn't show as well here, sadly. This one should be around for a while though.

9. Three Cheers For Five Years by Mayday Parade (acoustic) (121), Again, personal Top 5. Every time this song comes on, I listen to it repeatedly. I love, love, love this song. Except to see it again in 2012.

8. Better Days by Goo Goo Dolls (124), I was wrong about Lifeline. It wasn't the only song that's been here every year, here's another one. And I do love this song. None of these in the Top 10 are songs I'm ever like, "eh" and skip. It just wouldn't happen. 2010: 17th, 2009: 20th, 2008: 3rd.

7. Fall For You by Secondhand Serenade (127), I don't know where this song was last year! Because this song has been a staple otherwise, and it was #1 the first year I started keeping track. He hasn't had anything that impressive recently, I don't think one of his songs off his 3rd album struck me as 'love.' Supposedly he's working on new stuff though, so we'll see. 2010: X, 2009: 5th, 2008: 1st!

6. When The Time Comes by The Classic Crime (128), again, where was this song last year?! Because if you ask me to name my FAVORITE song (personal, not via iTunes count), it will always be this one. This is my absolute fave favorite song. I just love everything about it. So the fact that is wasn't there in 2010 is kind of puzzling to me. Because if there's a song I LOVE, it's this one. 2010: X, 2009: 10th, 2008: 2nd.

5. Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins (129), okay, so I loved this song in High School. It's just always resonated with me since the first time I heard it (prolly in Drew's car. He was obsessed in HS). Now I have it, so clearly I'm going to listen to it. :)

4. This is War by 30 Seconds to Mars (134), I don't remember who put me on to this band (Pandora?), but I know many of my friends love them. Turns out I do to. And I may or may not have used their music as a way to pump myself up/warm-up tracks for Ultimate in 2011. Like, repeatedly. So that's why it's here.

3. These are the Nights by Making April (136), last year this band had 4 songs in the Top 5. And this song was #1! So we have to crown a new winner. Interesting that no song has repeated yet as #1. Still love them, still love this song. It belongs here or even higher.

2. Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast) by Lostprophets (142), this one surprises even me a little. This was one of my myriad Pandora purchases (got this at the same time I got Jason Derulo, Needtobreathe, Until June, etc.), yet this one has risen almost all the way to the top. And honestly, it could have been, since only 1 play separates the Top 2.

And finally, coming out of left field to claim the victory, the Top Song of 2011 is:

1. KINGS AND QUEENS BY 30 SECONDS TO MARS with a whopping 143 listens (46 less than the #1 last year!) There was a movie with this song in it that came out in 2011, but I didn't see it. This song was just on all the right playlists I guess, including the one I used for Ultimate. So it stomped the competition and wins the title: Best Song of 2011! I'm excited to see what this band comes next. They have some really cool stuff going for them. I really liked on this album how they allowed the fans to participate in the singing/recording and they used fan faces for the Album Cover. That was pretty ingenious marketing.

Until next year, keep listening to muzak peeps!

So 2011. It was a year of routine, hard work, and changes. I definitely had my share of struggles in 2011, but overall it was a good year for me. This is going to be a really hard post to write though, because this information is all almost a year old now. Oh, I'm such a bad blogger!

Best Trip of 2011:

You're probably thinking I'm going to pick Cedar Point since it was my favorite trip in 2010, and we did have our first Family Reunion (just my family, no extendeds) there this summer. But I'm going to have to pick a different one, to be fair.

The winner? Pittsburgh.

Because it was my first time to this City, and it happens to be home to two of my favorite people. Love ya ladies! We had a blast on this trip exploring and riding boat/cars, visiting the sights, spending time, good eats, it was just an amazing trip (so great that I went again this year!)

Best Restaurant of 2011:

What can I say? Old habits die hard. I'm cheating, I know. But I'm picking the same place twice. Just because this place is such a part of me now.

Good ol' Faustina.

I mean, I've had birthdays here, parties here, it's a loved spot of my besties and I. I just have way too much history here to let it go. It has to win again. I don't eat anywhere else near as much as here.

Best Article of 2011:

Yeah! Way to keep a list for this one! Which makes it impossible to pick just one. Too bad my list for 2012 is only about 25% as good as this one.

I'm going to pick 3, in no particular order:
1. Male Rookie of the Year: Jared Hulet - because it's about my brother. And Ultimate. And both of those things deserve to be celebrated.

2. 11 Things to Know at 25(ish) - because this article is rife with good information, and good advice, and everyone should (have) read it.

3. I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay - because this is one of the most important articles I read all year. It was informative, provocative, and really resonated with me. It's a love thing.

Best Book of 2011:

So I read somewhere between 25 or 30 books in 2010. 2011 was clearly not a year of reading for me, it was a year of working. ALOT. With repeated, nigh-constant overtime. So I only managed to read 17 books.

And many of those were re-reads. So the choice for best book of 2011 is easy: David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.

My review: Grade: A+. This book is a product of GENIUS. I spent more than a month reading this book because early on I realized how awesome it was and I wanted to savor its brilliance. The story is formatted in a way that I have never come across before, with story as nested dolls. So the first section starts out in the 1500s or somewhere around there and goes about 39 pages and then just ENDS. Like middle of the sentence ends and just goes to the next section. When I got there I was super weirded out. I was like, wait, I'm missing pages, or there's a misprint, or something got formatted wrong! Nope. Totally intentional. The next section is about a chateau where a boy is learning to be a composer, and he's stealing books from the library and he finds this book that only has 39 pages and then just ends! Genius. The second section is written in the form of 9 letters, then the third section is about a guy who is trying to not get assassinated and in his pocket he has these 9 letters. I mean, it was mind-blowing. So the story progresses and you go deeper and deeper into the nested stories until you're at a post-apocalyptic one and then the story turns around and heads back the way it came, tying up all the loose ends. The very last section of the book picks up mid-sentence where the first left off and resolves itself completely. I freaking loved reading this book.

Best Movie of 2011:

In 2010 I saw 30 movies and thought I did pretty good (that's over 2 a month!). In 2011, I saw 38! Even better! All my work hours couldn't keep me out of the movie theater (netflix helped too)! I saw alot of really great movies in 2011! It's so hard to pick.

I'm going to have to go with:

Here's my review of this brilliant movie: Grade: A. I was SO excited to see this movie! The trailers looked AMAZESAUCE. And it proved to be true. Went to the midnight showing and so glad I did. This movie was everything it promised in the names of Spielberg and J.J.Abrams. Definitely one to see if you haven't.

If I remember correctly, I went back and saw it again in theaters. And we all know how I feel about seeing movies more than once. Seriously. This movie is awesome. And I'm pretty sure it's on netflix too.

Runner-up: Definitely Sucker-Punch.

Best Night Out of 2011:

Again, a very difficult decision for me. I think I have to go with the Equality Utah Allies Dinner though. It was a fantastic night, surrounded by great people, all brought together for one thing: Equality for all people. My highlight of the night (other than having my favorite Professor from the Y there with me), was this video being played on the big screen:

Best Blog of 2011:

I sort of dropped the ball on readings blogs in 2011 (and 2012). They just kind of stopped being a thing I do. Probably because I would go away for a few days and then come home and have 100s (1000+) of new ones to read thanks to failblog and winfail and powm, etc. So there's that. I think I will give the award to the one webcomic I semi-religiously read.

That counts as a blog, because 1) I say it does. 2) What I say, goes. It's MY blog! 3) I am RSS'ed so it comes to me like blogs do.

Best Conference of 2011:

Yup. 0. I am a conference-free soul. I think I'm okay with that. I don't know if this one will make the cut into next year.

Best Challenge of 2011:

I really think that if you know me at all, this will be self-explanatory. We finally, after 3 years, got to the deciding moments, which were agony, aggravation, and all-around HELL. So, so glad it's over.

Best Moment of Peace 2011:

Why is this one always so hard for me? I think I'm going to have to pick the first night of my Bear Lake trip. Everyone else that came up was inside laughing, joking, playing games, and having a good time. My heart was somewhere else. I was content to sit out on the porch and hear their happiness and stare at the stars. A friend came outside and we started talking. Deep, connective talking. The kind where you trade souls for a minute and you stare into each others' eyes and nothing is lost to you. We connected on the level beyond friends hanging out, and those moments are the ones where I really feel like I'm alive. We spent probably 3 or 4 hours under the stars just talking about ourselves and our lives and it was heaven.

Best Album of 2011:

I think I'm going to have to go with Angels & Airwaves: Love I & II for this award.

I got this double album (and movie) near the end of 2011 and have loved it every minute since. The movie wasn't awful either.

Best Rush of 2011:

I am going to have to go with Cedar Point on this one. :) My brothers got me to ride some of the super tall, drop you, scream my guts out, SCARY rides I don't usually ride. And I screamed like a little girl. But I did it. And it WAS a rush, so it wins this one.

Best Change I Made to the Place I Live in 2011:

Couch! I got a couch! And artwork! I'm still working on the artwork... I don't think the place is totally done, but it's much more home-y than before.

Best New Food of 2011:

So last year I picked chips. I think this year I am again picking chips (wahhttt?!):

I always, without fail, eat the whole bag in one sitting. They are just so tasty-licious! Let the nom nom nom continue uninterrupted.

Best Place of 2011:

This one is going to sound sentimental, but I have to pick it. I'm choosing my house on Thanksgiving. I hadn't had a Thanksgiving home in years and years. So I decided to fly in and surprise everyone. Getting my sister lost on the way home from the airport (after assuring her I knew the way) did not help the situation, and the surprise collapsed before it was a success. But on the way there, I was elated beyond words. And being with my family always brings me more joy and happiness than anything else. I love them so much.

Best Tea of 2011:

I didn't really drink much tea in 2011. It was a thing for a minute, then I sort of moved away from it again. Habits are harder to make for me I guess.

Word or Phrase of 2011:

Mmmmmm. I don't even remember what words or phrases I was using in 2011 that were incessantly annoying my co-workers or harassing my friends. Sounds like a cop-out, but I honestly don't think I can answer this one. I have some ideas for my 2012 words, but it's not over yet!

One more backpost of 2011, and then on into the details of this year!

6 Months without a blog.

Has it really been that long? Man, I suck at blogging. Heh. And sometimes I dream about getting paid jut to blog. Yeah, not like this.

Well. Some of you miss me, and I sort of miss me, so I guess I'll come back. :) Maybe I just needed a break? Or maybe I'm just lazy.

It's kind of funny really, how things change in your life. When I was in college, you'd never ever find me without my journal. I wrote in that thing like a madman. 1000s of pages. About everything. And I don't regret it. I wish I had written more actually. And then when I started blogging, the scene shifted and I journaled less. And blogged more. Because then other people could read my "secrets" and react. And I liked that sharing aspect.

Then things got more balanced, I figured things out, and my blogging tapered off. I guess I should be happy and chalk that up to the joys of "self-actualization" and adjusting to society. But I'll be honest - I miss it sometimes. Yet, just like journaling, I always have to play catch up. Always. It's OCD, or something else unidentified, but I can't tell anything about this past weekend unless I finish talking about 2011 first. :/ And that was always the problem I had with journaling. Something wonderful or amazing or life-changing would happen and I would want desperately to write about it, but I couldn't until I caught up on the last 3 months. Sigh.

So long ramble short. I'm coming back to blogging.

But be warned, I'm going to go back and finish my "draft" 2011 wrap-up posts before we move forward. :/ That said, I'm been maintaining my drafts religiously, so you won't have missed out on any books or movies. :)

Here's to bad bloggers! Cheers!

Must be April. That means the Utah Children's Writers are doing their 30 Days, 30 Stories again just like last year.

This year I decided to do a piece from 2007, to highlight the struggle I had when my brother was diagnosed with diabetes: Hope Without A Sugar Coating.

In 2008 I did the JDRF Walk for Diabetes as well, for my brother and some friends' children. If you can, please take a moment and donate to the JDRF. My motto still stands: A dollar, a difference. Thanks.


So before the end of the year came around, I had Arbitration for my accident. I knew that after that, I was going to need a break. Good or bad outcome, it was going to be a stressful day and I would need something to take my mind off everything.

So the day after we arbitrated, I hopped a plane to Burbank to see Turtle.

When I landed, I went outside and greeted the sun. Oh yeah, California is WARM! I waited and waited and Turtle took forever (just kidding). Once we were on the road, we put on the GLEE: Christmas album, even though to her it didn't feel like Christmas. It was 67 degrees outside after all.

As we were driving, we decided to get brunch. I said, "I want to eat at a hole-in-the-wall dive." So we looked for a bit, and then found "Tom's #7," which from the outside appeared to be an old school burger joint. Inside it was a mexican restaurant completely staffed and patronized by non-whites. Fantastic. I got a pastrami quesadilla, because why not? Pastrami. In a quesadilla.

We went back to her place and ate, then busted out what would keep us occupied for most of the trip: Kingdom Hearts. Turtle LOVES LOVES LOVES Disney, so this seemed an apt game to share with her after her Zelda exploits.

That night Rinska came over for pizza and scattergories. It was an intense game, with each of us trying to psych one another out while coming up with the best double-point word. There were some pretty good ones, and creative answers to boot. Turtle totes held her own too. The game broke down somewhere in the sharing of round 2, because Turtle's love interest came up and then updates needed shared, which quickly evolved into speculation and debate regarding the man's intentions. This discussion lasted a good 30 or 40 minutes. We got going again and decided to cap the game because Rinska had to go. I completely fell apart the last round and she solidly whomped me. My entire second half of the sheet was empty. Most disconcerting was the fact that NONE OF US could think of a "Book Title" starting with the EASY letter R. I mean, seriously?!? These are all the titles I've come up with subsequently:

-Rakkety Tam
-Return of the King
-Rainbow Six
-River God
-(A) Raisin in the Sun (don't know if that one would count)

Should have been a cakewalk. Then they took pity since that round I scored like 4 points, leaving Rinska 2 ahead, when I'd be solidly leading the whole time; and we decided to play just one more. I vaulted forward to reclaim my spot on top of the carnage pile by scoring a commanding 14 points in one round, to Rinska's 11. Go letter G. :)

As night fell, Turtle and I cracked open the first in the next series we intend to conquer (and my #1 favorite series of all time), Dragonwing, of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Death Gate Cycle. SOOOO excited for her to read these with me.

Thursday we got up early and drove to get my friends Jules, who is interning at Disneyland, for some park hopping. We started our day with some eats at River Belle Terrace, then got in line to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. It reminded me so much of the Pirate ride at Cedar Point that's closed now. :(

After that we jumped on the Big Thunder Railroad. Then it was time for a jaunt on the Carousel, because, why not?

Then we decided to be revisit our childhoods and road the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, followed by the Peter Pan ride and the infamous Tea Cups where we spun really, really, really fast. Next we hit up Space Mountain for a classic ride. It was funny to me, having been to Disney World many times before (but never Disney Land) how my memories jostled one another and got mixed up with my present. Because I distinctly remembered being "here" before as we were going places/riding rides, though I had never been in Disney Land in my life. It was kinda trippy.

We did the Astro Blasters ride and I racked up a good 60,000+ points, before we were beat enough for lunch. We tried to get into the cafe in the Pirates ride, but they were full, so we opted for Cafe Orleans instead and had yummy cheese-filled croissant things with powdered sugar. Delish.

To work off our calories, we got in line for the Matterhorn, before deciding maybe we wanted to go to another park. So we did. We waited in line for one of Turtle's favorite rides, Soarin', first. It was pretty cool. We got fast-passes for Tower of Terror, then we visited the Animation Academy to find out things like which disney character we were. I was given Flik, the ant from It's a Bug's Life, though I don't remember why they said so.

Tower of Terror was next. I didn't remember it dropping and going back up that many times, so I was pleasantly surprised. And since it was dark, I could scream my little heart out and not care :) Next, we opted for California Screamin', where I screamed (again) because I could and for fun. Next I wanted to ride the swings, telling them about how my brothers and I would try and kick the trees at Cedar Point.

Then we went to Ariel's Undersea Adventure, which was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theatre. I had a whole package of Milk Duds and got sick afterward. That was a fun little ride. When we got out, we were pretty much done there so we went back to the other park. We fast-passed Indiana Jones (but didn't end up using it, because we got tired), and then there wasn't really a line for the Matterhorn so we jumped on that. I screamed as long and loud as I could just to see how long I could go. Pretty fun.

Then we did the Haunted Mansion, another of Turtle's favorites. It was so awesome to watch her geeking over rides we were getting on, because all I could think about was how those worlds were coming up in Kingdom Hearts. (So I'm a nerd,... I admit it).

Then we rounded out the evening with the Christmas version of It's A Small World, where upon our exit we got to watch some of the fireworks going off elsewhere. We decided we didn't really want to ride anything else, so we had dinner in Downtown Disney at the Naples Cafe, then shopped our hearts out at the World of Disney Store before heading home. We didn't stay all the way til closing, but we were beat.

The next day we slept in (though Turtle says we got up at 7:48am, which is not sleeping in, but I don't know), and resumed our playing of Kingdom Hearts. We did that until we went and got sushi at a little joint named the Bonsai Bar. Then we read for a bit, until Stephkins told us she was singing at a bar, and I decided I wanted to go. So we went and saw her and some of her friends singing and performing and it was SO AWESOME TO SEE HER.

Saturday morning we met up with Stephers for lunch at a thai place. I ordered the chicken stuffed into a chicken, because, why not? Then more playing. We spent hours, Turtle wanted to finish so badly!

We finally crashed and slept for like 4 hours, before resuming our finish attempt Sunday morning. We met up with Stephkins again for brunch, followed by Frisbee with the gays.

Yes. Frisbee with the gays. I told Turtle when I was planning the trip that I was missing like 4 workouts, and so I wanted to play Ultimate while I was there. So she found us "gay frisbee." I said, "They have gay frisbee?!" Turtle: "It's L.A. We have gay everything." Touche.

So we went to this park and found these two guys to throw with, because we thought they were there for that (they weren't, they were just tossing). Then we found the right group. When I went to put on my cleats, I realized I'd lost a sock. So Turtle went to look for it... and found it in the car. Oops.

Gay Frisbee was true to every stereotype you can think of for gay people. It was the HOTTEST MESS I have ever seen. I mean, just wow. On the flip-side, it may have been the best frisbee of my life. I owned them all. I told my team: "Throw it, I will catch it. Like if you're in trouble, just put it in the air and I will get it." And I did. There were some blocks I got where I basically put my hand up and that was all I had to do to stop the throw. Ridiculous. We lost our second game because my team wouldn't play defense. Nothing I can do about that. :/ So I wanted to play a third. We stayed way later than we probably should have, so then it was a scramble to get me to the airport. I checked in in my sweaty frisbee clothes before changing in the restroom into more "plane appropriate" attire. After all, I was heading back to the cold.

We did finish Kingdom Hearts and got about 15 chapters into Dragon Wing. And saw Jules and Stephkins 3x. And played Ultimate and scattergories with Rinska. It was a very successful vacation.

See you again soon L.A.!

Ever since 2009 when I claimed to not read articles, and then 2010 when I acknowledged that I started reading, I've been thinking about articles.

Because I read A TON of them.

So for this year's best of, I wanted it to be harder to choose (and it will be). I started tracking the articles I perused. Granted, I wasn't super diligent about it, so this list isn't wholly representative... but I think I did a pretty good job.

So disclaimers: No guarantee any links will work. Not a comprehensive list. Don't read if there's going to be something that offends you.

Articles of 2011 included:
Movement to restore children's play

Zodiac sign hasn't changed


Women obsessed with LDS blogs

Mormonism: room for everyone?

Serenity/Firefly after

Mormons and Iomega

Disney ditching princesses

11 Things to Know at 25(ish)

NEI Responds to AP Article

Utah braces for floodings as hot temps melt snowpack

Scientists create first memory expansion for brain

Toddler who fell in Virgin River last week dies

Cancer Surges In Body Scanner Operators; TSA Launches Cover-Up

Cherish the Book Publishers-You'll miss them when they're gone

Gay BYU filmmaker ready to tell his story

Truck and Train co in North Salt Lake

Why Gay Marriage Is Good for Straight America

Get Used to Weather Extremes

More than 100 homes evacuated after big train derailment

Study looks at experiences of Gay Mormons

Students to feel pinch in debt deal

Earthquake shuts North Anna reactors automatically

Man attacked outside of Salt Lake City gay club

Salt Lake City is No. 3 in U.S. for same-sex couples

Bullied Teenager in Buffalo, NY takes his own life/

5 Ways you know it's time to get married

With No Future Visible, Young Activists Have Few Options but to "Occupy Wall Street"

Play video games all day for charity

Lessons from Sharing the Story of My (Possibly) Gay 6-Year-Old Son

Giant Whale falls out of sky in UK?

Spock actor Zachary Quinto comes out as a gay man

Opinion: Utah legislature commits crime against humanity

Wear Purple on October 20 for Spirit Day #SpiritDay

Dr. Drew: Gay people should be furious about Kim Kardashian's marriage debacle

My Gay Lifestyle

Stadium evacuated after marching band members get sick in stands

Democrats win big in Utah Non-partisan races

I'm Christian, unless you're gay

Shop on Thanksgiving? No thanks

Putting Compassion Before Judgment

American Fork to consider sexual orientation ordinance for housing, employment

Thousands of birds crash-land in Walmart parking lot

7 Awful Plot Twists We're Tired Of Reading

Two women's first kiss at homecoming a first for Navy, too

Male Rookie of the Year: Jared Hulet

One teacher’s approach to preventing gender bullying in a classroom

So there you have it. Reviewing the list was really interesting for me, as it showed alot of what's important/interests me (x-files irl FTW!). I'll try to keep at it for 2012. Looking forward to the best of when I'll have to make the difficult decision which of these is the best one. Stay tuned!

Immortals (Nov 19) - Grade: B+. This one wasn't really on my radar, and I'm pretty sure I even got invited to see it once or twice and declined, but everyone was talking about it, and then I must've been in the right mood because a friend invited me and I agreed. I'd never seen 300 so I was worried I would be lost, but I found out it was just the same director, not the same story. The story was pretty intense, but cool, though I must say that WOW, I was unprepared for all the blood and gore in this! There were some scenes where the slow-motion cinematography was cool, but GROSS! It was also interesting to me to "go behind the scenes" and read about how much the stars all worked out and how far in advance they trained so that they could have ripped, awesomely hot bodies for the movie. The preparation and dedication to a movie part can be pretty ridiculous if you ask me!

Let Me In (Dec 3) - Grade: B-. This movie had always caught my eye from the time trailers were out, but I was pretty sure it was a scary movie, so I wasn't sure I could handle it. I finally broke down and watched with a friend, and it wasn't scary at all! It was more cute than scary, and kind of creepy too. The movie does a great job normalizing vampirism and making it not foreign at all. Poor Kodi Smit-Mcphee though. I mean The Road and then this movie. That kid is gonna be messed up.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Dec 17) - Grade: A. I liked this one alot better than the first one! The plot was more Holmes style, and Downey did a bang-up job this time, really losing himself in his character. What's not to love about Jude Law? The story was much more interesting this go-round, I like the humor "spice" that was peppered about. A well-done flick.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Dec 30) - Grade: B-. I'll confess... I haven't read the book. But I get invited to the movies... I usually go. What can I say? So I saw this. And I was SOOOO unprepared. I mean, whoa. There was WAY too much sex in this movie for me. There were so many scenes that were difficult to stomach, I felt ill-at-ease for most of the movie. And the ending was just twisted. I mean, creepy, twisted, twisted. Maybe some people like that. I was bothered by the content in this film. Though I will hand it to the actors, they were phenomenal. Rooney Mara should win some awards for her performance for sure. It was unbelievable.

And that's all the movies for 2011! I've already got a good start for 2012 though, so bring on the reviews!

C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle - Grade: B. Probably my least favorite Narnia book. SPOILER: I like the fact that Lewis brings everyone back, but not that the majority of them die. It just seems unnecessary and unhelpful. Also, the spirituality/christianity aspect gets overly-heavyhanded here. It's tolerable in the other books, but here it becomes a bit much, in my opinion. Turtle was happy to be done with the Narnias so we could get to the last book in the Chronicles Series, Dragons of Summer Flame.

Sarah Southerland's Not Another Sarah: Avoiding and Escaping Abuse - Grade: ? I don't really know how to grade this book. It's written by a personal friend of mine about her true story account of being in and escaping from a very dangerous, abusive relationship. The account is harrowing, almost unbelievable in places, and gripping. I read the book almost in one sitting. Something intriguing Sarah has done is pair her account with a guide - "Everything You Need To Know About Abuse" for identifying and, subsequently, escaping abuse. It outlines abuse cycles, gives tips how to recognize it in yourself and others, and even addresses topics like divorce and child custody. This book reminded me alot of A Child Called It, though that account seemed almost more sensational (hard to imagine/believe). Both are raw, desperate, and captivating. My tears flowed unchecked for probably the last half of the book. Accounts of people suffering at the hands of others greatly upsets me.

Lev Grossman's Codex - Grade: A-. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Preceding the majesty and wonder of The Magicians but following the horrid Warp, I wasn't setting my expectations too high for this one, his first critically-acclaimed novel. But it was good. Not quite Magicians, mind-blowingly good, but good nonetheless. I enjoyed the characters, the storyline, and watching how the search for this elusive tome played out in the narrative. I was very satisfied with this book as a read and do recommend it (though The Magicians is WAY better).

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of Summer Flame - Grade: A. Weis and Hickman will always be household names at my place. I love them so much; their work will be always be part of the foundation of my inspiration and imagination. I have so much to thank them for, and this novel is no different. Bringing to an end the Chronicles Trilogy, Twins Trilogy, as well as building upon The Second Generation, this 8th book in the series ties up all the loose ends, as well as building the stories and lives of Usha, Steel, and Palin. I didn't remember the ending and when we finally got there, Turtle was crying so hard she couldn't listen hardly. Even worse, I, as stalwart narrator broke down myself and couldn't read. We eventually got through it, but there was alot of tears and heartache. The ending is everything it should be, wrapping my second-favorite series of all-time. Thanks Weis and Hickman for being so imaginative and brilliant creators. If I can create a world with fleshed out characters half-as-wonderful as yours, I will consider myself a resounding success.

Brian Jacques' The Rogue Crew - Grade: B+. Finished just before his death, this marks the final novel in the Redwall series, which has been a part of me since probably the 5th grade (maybe earlier? I don't remember for sure when I started reading him). As previously stated in my tribute to him, Jacques is the author I have read more than any other, so naturally this read was endearing, difficult, and nostalgic for me all at once. This was on the end of his better-written books, it didn't seem like a cookie-cutter regurgitation like some of his other books. It was bitter-sweet for me to read, knowing this was the end of Redwall. I think these books will always be household names as well.

Jeanne DuPrau's Prophet of Yonwood - Grade: C-. Bleh. This book was pretty bad. After City of Ember's brilliance and splendor, and then People of Sparks flatlined, I was apprehensive about this one. But then I figured out it was supposed to be a "prequel" and I was very excited and intrigued how the current plot was going to devolve into them having to go underground and start the City of Ember. And then it didn't. Like, at all. There was one piece in the last three pages that tied into something Lina and Doon found at the end of City of Ember. I was like, REALLY?! *THAT'S* your prequel?! So I kept waiting and waiting, eager to see how this would build to that Epic of books. I was always like, surely in the next chapter... and kept reading and never got any of what I wanted or was looking for. Just a story about a girl faced with stupid rules who loves her dog too much and freaks out when he is taken away. It was such a bad book. I guess there's a fourth, which I'm not looking forward to, but I ought to read. Bring on the torture I guess.

And that wraps up my book reading for 2011! Just a few more movies, one more trip, and then we will send 2011 packing on its way with the Best Of... and Music Review posts.

Somehow, someway this post got missed being published. I swear I wrote the thing months and months ago, the original draft was from Jan 31, 2011, but when I opened the draft there was no content! So I guess I failed on that one...

James Rollins' Altar of Eden - Grade: B-. A co-worker recommended this book to me. I don't think the storyline was necessarily bad, just weird. Some parts of the book came across as too contrived for my liking. It took me a long time to get through this novel. Parts of it were slow, and then others held my attention raptly. I was up and down on this book quite a bit.

Perry Moore's HERO - Grade: A. I didn't think the plot in this book was super-tight, nor were all the characters well-written and developed, but I'm going to give it an A anyway for breaking boundaries and daring to be different. This book is basically a re-invention of the superhero. The main character is gay, his teammate's ability makes everyone sick, and the girl who becomes his best friend has a dialysis bag (if I remember correctly? She had something wrong with her that necessitated having a bag attached to her at all times...) Anyway, what I'm getting at is that this is not your X-men, Avengers, or Justice League. It's a retake on the whole superhero thing, making them more human, more fallible, and more real, especially with the inclusion of a lead gay character. There are places where the book is shallow, moments that are contrived and don't work, but for the most part, good on Moore for writing this book. It's about time kids had some positive gay role models. At least I think so.

Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero (first book in The Heroes of Olympus series) - Grade: A-. Well, Riordan is at it again. Just like his Percy Jackson series, he's back at it with new characters, new plot twists, and new prophecies. This first installment was pretty long, but I didn't find alot of places where it dragged. But Riordan has new heroes: Jason, Piper, and Leo who embark on an epic quest, bound by a prophecy that speaks of 7 children. Who are the other 4? I went into this thinking that it was a spin-off series from the Percy Jackson books and wasn't related, but, oh it IS. Percy's name surfaces in the book and Jason and Co. definitely team up with Annabeth. Can't wait for the next one.

David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas - Grade: A+. This book is a product of GENIUS. I spent more than a month reading this book because early on I realized how awesome it was and I wanted to savor its brilliance. The story is formatted in a way that I have never come across before, with story as nested dolls. So the first section starts out in the 1500s or somewhere around there and goes about 39 pages and then just ENDS. Like middle of the sentence ends and just goes to the next section. When I got there I was super weirded out. I was like, wait, I'm missing pages, or there's a misprint, or something got formatted wrong! Nope. Totally intentional. The next section is about a chateau where a boy is learning to be a composer, and he's stealing books from the library and he finds this book that only has 39 pages and then just ends! Genius. The second section is written in the form of 9 letters, then the third section is about a guy who is trying to not get assassinated and in his pocket he has these 9 letters. I mean, it was mind-blowing. So the story progresses and you go deeper and deeper into the nested stories until you're at a post-apocalyptic one and then the story turns around and heads back the way it came, tying up all the loose ends. The very last section of the book picks up mid-sentence where the first left off and resolves itself completely. I freaking loved reading this book.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's The Second Generation - Grade: A. Weis and Hickman are solid writers if you ask me (but I'm biased). This addition to the Chronicles and Twins Trilogies introduces readers for the first time to the children of the heroes. Raistlin's daughter, Tika and Caramon's three sons, and the elusive son of Kitiara, Steel. A great next chapter for DragonLance lovers everywhere.

C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - Grade: A. Just like had never seen The Lord of the Rings, played Zelda, or seen any X-Files, she had never read The Chronicles of Narnia either. To make sure it happened, I stopped between books 7 and 8 of the DragonLance series and told her I would not read the last one until we had read all of Narnia. They are short, quick books to get down. Also, I made sure we went in the order Lewis intended. There has been debate to put them in chronological order, but that was never Lewis' intention. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe introduces the world of Narnia gradually and with dizzying effect, while books like The Magician's Nephew has Narnia listed in the first paragraph, with no expectation, dictating that the reader should already be familiar with such a place and so no explanation is required. I enjoy this series, but the first book is one of my favorites. I love the Pevensies and the way the story unfolds around them as the reader is immersed in a whole new world, all inside the wardrobe.

C.S. Lewis' Prince Caspian - Grade: B. I'll say that I like the book much better than the movie. Not my favorite of the books, but not a bad one. Then again, I don't think there's really any book that Lewis did poorly. I will say, comparing to the movie again, I strongly disliked the way they altered the plot of the movie just so Tilda Swinton could have a part. Lamesauce.

C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader - This book is a good one, but the movie sorely messed with the plot, even moreso than I had realized. Nothing happens in the right order in the movie. It makes me sad when movies are untrue to their book predecessors, but I guess that seems to be the nature of film. I'd say this is probably my third favorite of the series.

C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair - Grade: A+. I don't know why, but this is by far, my favorite of the Narnia series. I just love this one, especially with the kidnapped prince and how he rides past the heroes as the black knight on the horse. And Puddleglum is just a great character. I've always remembered this book with the most fondness.

C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy - Grade: B+. This is probably ones of the books I remember least from the series, but again, one Turtle thoroughly enjoyed. The storyline is so exotic and middle-eastern-ish that sometimes it's easy to forget this is, indeed, still Narnia. What a wonderful world Lewis created.

C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew - Grade: A-. Not my favorite of the Narnias, but Turtle loved it. I like the characterization in this one, and enjoy it for its prequelness. Reading this after The Magicians, I couldn't believe all the hat-tips Grossman gives Lewis. Very encouraging to know that literature and genius are not dead in our day and age. Grossman should be a must read for everyone.

More book reviews coming tomorrow!

I did something crazy.

I started a new blog! (I know, I know, I can't even keep up with this one... what makes me think I can do another one?!)

But this one is for my writing. My reading. My re-"taking" of a college course I had 6 years ago. I'm pretty stoked about it. You should follow along. There will be new posts everyday ("homework" does that!)

Come on over and see me read, write, evoke, ponder, and be.

Fast Five (May 30th) - Grade: D. We were going to see Bridesmaids but then the times were all messed up, so we ended up watching this one instead. It was a fast cars doing amazing things movie like all the others. I'll admit I haven't kept with this series (I didn't even really know it was a series... I don't even know if I've seen any of the other movies?). Reminded me alot of Gone in 60 Seconds, but I thought that one was better. Lots of glam, violence, and cars, cars, cars. Just another alright movie.

SUPER 8 (June 10) - Grade: A. I was SO excited to see this movie! The trailers looked AMAZESAUCE. And it proved to be true. Went to the midnight showing and so glad I did. This movie was everything it promised in the names of Spielberg and J.J.Abrams. Definitely one to see if you haven't.

X-Men: First Class (June 10) - Grade: C-. I'm sorry to be picky about X-men, but as previously mentioned I really take issue with having my childhood ruined and redone. If you separate the name and what I expect and how its supposed to be from the movie, then yes, it was a smash bang-up of a phenomenal movie. If you are a truist die-hard like myself, then you probably hated it like I did. I tried REALLY REALLY hard to be detached and not care and just be like, yes, X-men reboot, for the new generation... but then there were just SO many things wrong, I eventually gave up. I probably hated X-men 3 more though.

Tree of Life (June 19) - Grade: B. This one had had my eye for a while as well, and one that I really, really wanted to see. I will agree that the movie's visuals were completely breath-stealing and downright drool-worthy, and I feel like the movie documented well that time of life. Not having lived back that far, I can't comment for certain, but of what I know of that time period it did a good job. There was a lot of important, weighty dialogue that was whispered or all-too-brief that slipped past me, so there were a few times I was rather confused. The non-linear plot didn't help that either. I think this is a movie where seeing it a second time would greatly benefit my opinion (and understanding), but I haven't made the effort to do so as yet. Overall, I enjoyed it, though I tried to map a bit too much of my own self onto the characters than I should have which didn't play out the way I thought it would. Mistake on my part. Still one I would recommend seeing.

Megamind (June 25) - Grade: A. Somehow I missed this one last year. Anyway, I'm caught up now :) The plot was definitely refreshingly interesting, especially watching the bad guy become the good guy, something I toy with with a number of the characters I most love to pen. That sense of redemption is almost pervasive to me and my writing; it's something I find very intriguing. Overall, not my favorite (that has to be Monsters vs. Aliens or How To Train Your Dragon), but not the worst animated feature I've seen.

Green Lantern (July 3) - Grade: B. I will confess to extreme apprehension going to see this movie, a la X-Men. Fine, you can ruin one piece of my childhood comic/cartoon base, but please don't ruin my DC one too. Speaking of DC, the real reason I wanted to see this movie was because it makes me crave Justice League. I mean, what's better than Justice League? Answer: NOTHING. I mean, they are totally making The Avengers, so where's my Justice League? Hmmm?!?! Pretty good movie, I didn't have an problem with Ryan Reynolds as Lantern, though apparently that's what made alot of people hate this movie.

Shadowlands (1993) (August 5) - Grade: B. Watched this with a good friend. Hadn't ever seen it before, but being a C.S. Lewis fan, it intrigued me. The love story was touching, though being less familiar than I ought with authors' personal histories, I was not led to hate or love based on truism or adherence to fact. I thought the love story was touching and the way Lewis interacted with Joy was humorous and reminiscent at the same time of some of my friendships. It was sort of weird to watch Anthony Hopkins showing affection and love when I associate him mainly with Hannibal.

AVA: LOVE (August 10) - Grade: B-. EEEEEEEEEEE!!! The AVA movie! Most of you probably know nothing about this. It was, after all, only in theatres for one night, and not for widespread release. This movie come from one of my favorite bands, Angels and Airwaves. They've been regulars every year at the Top of My Charts. This movie has been buzzing around for months and months, and I've been watching the trailer even longer. So on August 10th, people in something like 96 theatres worldwide saw the movie and AVA did a Q&A and played some songs. The movie started out everything I'd ever dreamed of, everything I'd wanted it to be. It went the direction it should for 3/4ths of the movie, then the ending tumbled away into (in my opinion) disaster. They had so much good stuff, so many breathtaking scenes. Knowing how intensely, extremely low-budget the film was made me very nervous, but the scenes flowed seamlessly - until the very end. And then the obvious CG was just so gratuitous and glaringly unseamless, I was sad. For the movie and for AVA. Because it had been so good for so much time. The Q&A revealed even more how staunchly thin the budget was for this film. The live performance was the worst I have ever seen in my whole life. I don't know if the mics were off, or the audio ef were messed up, but they sounded absolutely abysmal. I felt so bad for all first-time AVA viewers, including my friend next to me, whom I whole-heartedly reassured that they were not *really* that bad. Overall though, it was a cool experience. Many people probably loved the movie, but it went in a direction that I didn't agree with, so I just have to throw my arms up and take it for what it is.

Another Earth (August 20) - Grade: B+. Another movie that super caught my eye. I'll give you the trailer: here. I saw this and said, yes, seeing that. Must go. Saw this when Turtle came to visit me in August (post upcoming). Very thought-provoking piece, very candidly done. I love movies like this when they are done right. I felt like there was really only one place where the director took the piece too far - during the lovemaking/rape? scene. I didn't feel that was necessary one bit. I thought the story and characters were flawed, yet complete on their own, without needing to add that piece on the tail end. It was one of a few instances where my disbelief was shattered regarding these two characters. I mean, I can totally say, yeah there's another earth, but the connection between these two is at points forced and/or contrived, and the love/rape part went overboard for me. I was very dissatisfied with that bit, but otherwise I enjoyed the movie, especially for the ways it made me think, think, think. Look. I'm Pooh Bear! I was still thinking about everything it swirled up in my mind for days afterwards.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) (Sept 2) - Grade: A. I saw this movie at the Tower Theatre as a live production cult flick reenactment akin to Rocky or Repo. The movie I loved, the live actors not so much. I felt the film was much too serious to be backdropped with live actors like that. For Rocky and Repo, (both of which I've seen live at the Tower also), I felt like it worked. This, to me, was too serious a piece. Many of you probably don't know about it, so check it out on IMDB. I really loved the imagery and thought that we used to be whole and now are split into two halves, searching constantly for our other halves. That was a refreshing take on love for me. The songs were original, thoughtful, and incredibly moving. Some parts are kind of edgy and crass, but the overarching message outshines this things for me.

Sarah's Key (Sept?) - Grade: A. Another independent flick. Seen alot of those this year. I thought the actors in this movie were abso-perfect-lutely spot on. I felt about the acting in this the same way I felt about the actors in Prayers for Bobby. Granted, I haven't read the book for this one, so I wasn't biased/prejudiced, so I may simply have not known what and where I should have been hating, but I found it very moving. It was much more gripping and real to me than The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas (which I know I watched, but got left off my movie review lists. Oops). Would recommend for sure.

Cowboys and Aliens (Sept 10) - Grade: B. I sort of want to put this at a higher grade, but I just can't justify it. My biggest issue with this movie is that I went in thinking it was a spoof movie, or at least poking fun at cowboy and alien movies. But no, the whole time, this was a serious flick. They were for real. Cowboys shooting guns at an alien spaceship. I just kept waiting and waiting for it to be a joke, but the joke was on me, because we never got there.

Capt. America (Sept 11) - Grade: A-. I feel much the same about this movie as I did about Green Lantern (above). Maybe I'm at fault though, because I saw this without seeing Thor? Not that I'm not excited/wanting to see that one, just that I haven't gotten around to it. I'm a movie procrastinator, unless someone invites me :) So people, invite me to more movies! And with this movie out, it means that The Avengers is just around the corner! GIVE ME MY JUSTICE LEAGUE!

Bridesmaids (Sept 24) - Grade: C. This movie was on during an evening at Bear Lake with friends. I settled in to watch, just because I hadn't seen it since our original try on May 30th (above) and everyone who saw it said that it was hysterically funny. Well, I must not have a sense of humor then because I just thought it was okay. Not really *that* hilarious. I wouldn't put it in the same category of hilarious as Mean Girls or Whatever It Takes. Maybe the people around me distracted me, but I don't think I'd put this one my "To Watch Again" list. :/

Rocky Horror Picture Show (Oct 31) - Grade: Classic. You can't really grade Rocky Horror. That'd just be insensitive. It is what it is, and you either love it, love it, or you hate it. I happen to have quite fond memories of it, old an new. I won't go in to all the intricacies surrounding this one; just know that if you haven't seen it, you need to. Call me around Halloween. We'll totally go.

J.Edgar (November 13) - Grade: B-. I had private screening tickets to this and went not really knowing that much about the movie beforehand. Just that it had Leo, who hasn't been a good actor since he was Gilbert Grape. >.> My pronouncement for this movie: there were things that worked, and things that didn't. It's unfortunate about the things that didn't. Like Clyde's "aged" makeup. Horrific. Leo's sorta worked and Naomi's was flawless. But Clyde's looked like melting play-dough slapped onto his face. More than once I remarked, "Did anyone preview this movie? How was that okay? How did it make it here, let alone past the first cut?!" I am also concerned about the speculation that went into this movie, though DLB assured us in a Q&A after that the majority of what he wrote was based on fact, not theory. There was alot he *didn't* put in because he was unable to substantiate it. He also painted Edgar as a complete monster at the end of his life, and how it was hard to delve into that. But some, myself included, didn't really see it the way DLB did. I saw him as inherently flawed because of his childhood, because of the time period, and because of the death of his mother. I found the story plausible and believable, though there were parts that severely dragged, which made for a rather long viewing experience. If history and the shrouded past of J.Edgar intrigue you, I don't see any real reason to steer you away from this movie other than Clyde's debacle of makeup making him convincingly old.

Star Trek: Nemesis (November 15) - Grade: B. Somehow I missed a Next Generation movie! I was a little aghast when I found this out, I have to admit. How/when did I miss this movie? Where were my dad and brothers letting me know about it? Troi and Riker get married? And Janeway is totes in it? I'm so confused! lol S wanted to watch this movie because I'm writing in a group with him that's based about the same time period and he wanted me to see all the equipment, etc., we'd have access to on our ship. Not a bad Trek movie, not my favorite. Noticed very clear plot elements that were re-hashes or re-dos from previous movies, just covered up enough to make them look different/new.

2011 Movie-wrap-up still to come, plus book reviews, and the Best of: 2011 Edition!


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