Friday, October 26, 2012

AFF Movie Review: Sparrow's Dance

It turns out that Sparrow's Dance was the AFF Narrative Film Winner.  The movie is about a woman and her struggle with agoraphobia.  The movie was monotonous at times, but that was her life. It was a sweet, simple movie, and we liked it.  There were a couple of scenes that would flash from black to red that were a little annoying.  It didn't help that I couldn't hear/understand the actor in those scenes so I felt kind of lost.

Both Marin Ireland and Paul Sparks gave wonderful performances, even if I couldn't hear/understand Paul all the time.  I really liked the movie, but it wasn't my favorite.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Planche Catch!

On Sunday I went to trapeze again.  I worked a couple of times on my swing, then I had some really good practice set planches.  The first video shows my first set planche catch.  My position isn't very good--I'm not very straight, and my legs aren't glued together.
video
This second video shows a planche disaster.  I was holding a good position and fell out of it and almost kicked the catcher in the face.
video
I actually got a third try, where apparently I had great position, and I did catch, but there isn't any video.  I'm not too sad about that.  I'm just happy that I could try--and actually catch--the planche.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How I Know

How do I know I'm in Texas?

1.  The smiles: People are much more friendly here.
2.  The waves: Drivers here are a little more courteous.  They let you change lanes, and they wave when you let them in.
3.  The prices:  Food here is cheaper.  Gasoline here is cheaper.  Unfortunately the houses in the city aren't cheaper.
4.  The weather:  The high today was 90.
5.  The boots:  I see cowboy boots everywhere.
6.  Access roads:  Here there are roads next to the freeway.  That's the way it should be.
7.  Dedicated U-turn lanes: The freeways have dedicated U-turn lanes, so if you missed your exit, you can easily flip a U-y and get back on track.  Even without the U-turn lanes it is a lot easier to switch directions on the freeways.
8.  Big trucks:  Actually, there are less of them than I thought there would be, but enough that I think that Smart Cars shouldn't be allowed on the roads here.  Don't get me started on how "safe" a Smart Car is.  That kinetic energy has to go somewhere.
9.  H-E-B!:  H-E-B is a grocery store.  They actually don't have them everywhere in Texas, but we have one within walking distance.  When I moved to Fort Worth 12 years ago I cried because they don't have H-E-Bs there.  The selection is good, the prices are good.  They also have an upscale version--Central Market.  H-E-B and CM make me happy.
10.  The restaurants:  There are Mexican restaurants everywhere.  And we have lots of BBQ.  We have lots of restaurants period. And the pizza parlors here serve pizza--not pizza and subs and pasta and Greek food.
11.  Taxes: sales tax here is 8.25%, but there isn't any state income tax.
12.  The space between:  Between cars--people don't tailgate here--as much. Between houses:  Some areas have just started building rowhouses, but most homes here are single family, with a lawn between the houses.
13. Litter: People don't litter here nearly as much as they do in Maryland.  I don't see it piled up in the medians at the stoplights.  I've only seen one person chuck a cigarette out the window.  I've actually seen some folks pick stuff up and put it in a trash can.
14. Grackles:  Grackles are birds.  Kinda like ravens.  We have tons of grackles here.  I need to get a good photo or video of when they are hanging out in the trees at dusk, squawking all ominously like something out of a scary movie.
15. Whataburger: Can't really describe this fast food burger joint.  I don't think Ross has had a Whataburger yet.

That is all I can think of right now.  I'll post more as I think of them.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

AFF Review: Shorts 11: Animated Family Shorts

After standing in line for more than an hour we got into see the Animated Family Shorts.  The theater was nowhere near full.  At least we didn't have to pay for parking.  Five out of the eight shorts were foreign.  My two favorites were The Gruffalo's Child and Snap.

The Gruffalo's Child is expertly narrated by Helena Bonham Carter.  We both really enjoyed it and it is a great follow up to The Gruffalo, which we watched when we got home.  The Gruffalo is available as a Netflix DVD and I highly recommend it and The Gruffalo's Child if you get a chance to see it.  If you can't see the shorts, you might be able to get the books from the library.

Snap was a cute computer animated short about sea creatures.  The story was surprising and cute, but there wasn't anything original about it.  The sea creatures weren't anything out of the ordinary.  We felt like we'd seen them before.  It was the same with some of the other shorts.  There just wasn't anything special about them.

AFF Adventure

So the thing I don't like about the Austin Film Festival----standing in lines--for long periods of time.  This morning we got to the Alamo Ritz theater before 11 am and the movie was scheduled to start at 12:30.  We have Film Passes--which are basically second class tickets.  Badge Holders get priority.  After standing in line for about an hour we found out that all the seats were taken.  Not even all the Badge Holders got in.  Oh, and there are third class folks--the people who just want to buy a single ticket to the show.

Bummed, as Hyde Park on the Hudson, was Ross's one pick, and having paid for 3 hours of parking, we decided to just walk around. We walked up to the Capitol building, where Richard Dawkins was speaking for the Texas Freethought Convention on the South Capitol Steps.  We walked around to the East entrance and checked out the Capitol a bit. We haven't been there in a loooong time.  We were serenaded by an all-male a capella group as we ascended the stairs as high as we could go.  I checked out the Senate--some of the Senators that were there 15 years ago when I worked for Senate Media are still there.

We then got some slices at Roppolo's  Pizzeria.  The pizza wasn't as good as the one we had in New York, but it was pretty dang good. It was muggy out, and all that walking make me all sweaty and gave me a blister on my foot.  We headed straight from downtown to watch another batch of short films, which we actually got in to see no problem--after waiting in line for more than an hour.

AFF Movie Review: Missed Connections

Last night we went to see Missed Connections at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.  It is one of those movie theaters where you can get drinks (yes booze) and food served to you right at your seat.  This sounded like a movie that could be very funny, or be very, very lame.

Neal's friends come up with a scheme to get him laid and bring him out of his girlfriend-cheating-with-best-friend induced funk.  Neal answers Craigslist Missed Connections ads, and following a brilliant strategy he gets laid, until her runs into Jane, who is running some kind of scheme of her own.

This movie turned out to be really funny, but was lacking something to make it a 5 star movie.  The writing and the acting were not over the top.  We really enjoyed the movie. Ross had a root beer float and I had a Guinness shake.  Oh, that Guinness shake was divine.


AFF Review: Shorts 9: The View from the Outside

The Austin Film Festival shows short film in themed batches that last about 90 minutes in total.  My first batch of shorts was themed The View from the Outside.  One of the great things about seeing a bunch of film at once that I hadn't really thought about is that some of the films are foreign films--and you know I loves me my foreign films.  Four of the seven films were foreign and my two favorites were from Spain and New Zealand.

Voice Over, from Spain, was oddly voiced over in French. It was funny and surprising.  It had a timed element that I appreciated and the voice over reminded me of those Dos Equis commercials about the Most Interesting Man in the World.

Whakatiki, from New Zealand, was my favorite short of the group.  I think it was because I connected with the water scene at the beginning, and I'm a total sucker for the only line Kiri, the main character, has in the film.  This one was moving.  Tears were streaming down my face, and it wasn't just 'cause I didn't take my pills.

AFF Movie Review: The Girl

The Girl is the first movie that I saw at the Austin Film Festival.  The movie is a look at poverty and desperation on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border.  Driven by the thought of fast cash, a destitute Ashley turns to human trafficking.  She has no idea what she is doing and things spin out of control.

About half of the movie is in Spanish.  Abbie Cornish as Ashley does a good job portraying her character in both languages.

I rated this 4/5 stars, but I think I'm a little biased because I liked the Spanish and the fact that it was filmed partly in Austin.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Skinning the Cat and Flying through the Air

video
Last week Ross and I went to check out Trapeze Austin.  Things aren't the same as at TSNY.  They said we could try the set planche--which was not on the menu for me at TSNY.  I only tried it like 3 times.  This video shows the third time--which was a disaster.  I didn't get into position, I skinned the cat (flipped over backwards) and then flew the air.  The flight was kind of fun.  I have signed up for 2 more classes.  I'll try that planche again.

Ross got to try the planche also.  He did better than I did...but also didn't catch.

Burn!

Last week Ross and I went to a silks class.  Whew, I'm out of shape!  Poor Ross was stricken with a migraine at the beginning of class, and had to sit out most of the class.  I did some climbing and a couple of tricks.  I was so tired after the climbing I had trouble setting up the tricks.  I need to get in shape!
I got a wicked fabric burn when I was coming out of the trick pictured above.  Later that night it burned, and now it is scabbed over and itches like crazy.
Poor Ross, his headache lasted for more than 2 days, and he still isn't 100 percent.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bucket List: Amish Country

I wanted to get a quilt in Amish country before we moved.  I headed up to Pennsylvania one afternoon and went shopping.  I came home with two quilts, a traditional quilt with a star and an antique grandmother's garden hexagon quilt.  I love, love, love the antique quilt.  It was 1920s and had never been used/washed.  We are now using it on our double-size bed in the new apartment.  The star quilt is more of a throw-size.  Bailey seems to like it.

Oh, and I came home with a gallon of raw milk and a pie too. Yummy.



Empire State Building

We didn't really have any plans on our last day in NYC.  Ross got a shave--and looked so different without his scruff that I almost didn't recognize him--then we decided to go to the Empire State Building.  I had been with my mom, but Ross had never been.  Because it wasn't summer we didn't really have to wait in lines.  We also took the stairs between the 80th and 86th floors, which helped us bypass more lines. The weather was perfect and visibility wasn't limited at all.

I'm so glad we decided on the Empire State Building.  We couldn't have asked for a better day for it.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Obsessed Much?

I went to Giant supermarket before we left Maryland.  Why?  To buy Dundee ginger preserves.  I'm a bit obsessed. Lucky me it was 2/$5--regular price is 6.99 each. Score.  I'm stocked up for the next year.  I also bought some Lyle's Golden Syrup and some of the caheta from Argentina (both at Wegman's).  Ross bought 4 boxes of Berger cookies.  He is supposed to share them.  The good news is that he hasn't opened a box yet--maybe that's because our apartment complex has free cookies in the office every day.

State Fair 2012

On Sunday we went to the State Fair with Tejal.  It was a bit chilly, but we still had fun.  Of course my favorite part was the petting zoo area.  We got to pet lots of goats, baby goats, bison, zebu, camels, llamas, alpacas, a very soft baby alpaca, miniature horses, donkeys and more.  The baby giraffe wasn't close enough to pet, and neither were the baby zebras.  If it hadn't been so crowded I would have gone back in again when we passed it later in the day.


We stumbled upon the rabbit show and stuck our fingers in the cages to pet the rabbits.  These black and white rabbits were the softest ever!  The all back ones looked like velvet, but weren't as soft as these guys.



Oh, these were twin kids born the day before we visited.  They had their own little pen in the center of the big pen.


We went and saw the car show. I liked this Texas-themed bug.  Along the side it was painted like the Texas flag, and that white area on the front of the car is a map of Texas.

I don't have any photos, but we ate our full share of fried foods: fried guacamole (my favorite), fried snickers, fried nutter butters, fried butter (not very good), fried pickles, and fried cheese.  Lots and lots of fat and carbs.  I really wanted a corny dog, but they aren't kosher.

We did exactly what we went there to do.....eat our hearts out.

Apartment View

This is the view from our apartment at night.  Better than the view from our last apartment.

Sea of Burnt Orange

Ross is having a little trouble with all the burnt orange here.  This is an aisle at Target.  Even our apartment complex is painted burnt orange--but I think they are going to paint over it in dark grey. Poor Ross even had to make a donation to some Longhorn fund to open a credit union account.  And the whole TU-A&M rivalry is now kind of silly seeing as they aren't in the same conference anymore.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Year of the Zoo: Bronx Zoo

We went to New York City as part of our bucket list.  The Bronx Zoo was part of the reason we went.  The weather was great and the zoo wasn't crowded at all. I'd say we were there a good 4, maybe 5 hours. Our favorite was the tigers--because there were 3 tiger cubs that had only been on display about a week.  The Bronx Zoo ranks very highly on my list so far.  I'm hoping if the weather cooperates we can visit another zoo this week.


The children's part of the zoo was neat.  We saw these black swans and a zoo keeper pointed out their nest and we could see their eggs. Overall we did not see a whole lot of zoo staff.  I know we would have asked a lot more questions and learned a lot more if there had been more staff available.


If these cubs playing with their mama doesn't get your oxytocins flowing, then I don't know what would.  I could have watched them for hours.


video


The cubs have older siblings in the next enclosure.


This polar bear was very active--playing with his stick while balancing on the rock.  Most of the animals were active.  I suppose the nice weather helped with that.


Ross played prairie dog in the children's area.


It was dinner time for the birds of prey.

Ross pet goats.  The babies were spastic.  One was jumping on everything, including his mother.

We didn't get to see everything, but we liked what we did get to see. The monorail was neat--we got to see a sleeping baby deer really up close.  Well, just about everything we saw was up close--including a baboon playing with himself and the tiger who sprayed the glass because a woman was banging on it.  The Bronx Zoo also had the largest number of peafowl of any zoo we have visited so far.  They were pretty tame and begging in the picnic areas.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bucket List: National Archives and WWII Memorial

The day after we went to Philly we went down to DC to visit the National Archives.  It was nice not to have to wait in line or anything.  We saw the Constitution, the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and  the Bill of Rights. They were larger than I had imagined, and the writing was so tiny.  I was especially fascinated by the copper script plate that was made to run copies of the Declaration of Independence. I have no clue how they did that--I think it took a couple of years.
After the Archives we walked to see the WWII memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.  I don't know how I'd never seen the WWII memorial.  I liked the wall of freedom.
The plaque reads: The Price of Freedom: Freedom Wall holds 4048 gold stars.  Each gold star represents 100 American service personnel who died or went missing in the war.  The 405,399 American dead and missing from World War II are second only to loss of more than 620,000 Americans during our Civil War.

Wow.

I think we walked another 3 or 4 miles that day.  Tired feet.

Bucket List: Liberty Bell

When the move became official we came up with a bucket list of things to do before we left the East coast.  I wanted to see the Liberty Bell.  I have no idea why--I just did.  We headed to Philly one Friday afternoon and saw the bell.  The whole history of the bell as a symbol for freedom and equal rights is interesting.  After we saw the bell we went to the Reading Terminal Market.  I got a Guinness whoopie pie.  Then we walked to the Famous 4th Street Deli for some pastrami and cake.  Stuffed we were, oy!  I mapped it out and I think we walked like 4 miles or something!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm Heeee-ehr

I'm here! I know I haven't posted in almost a month.  I've been busy, and I have plenty of posts to catch up on, but I want to post this photo before I go to bed.
Here I am in Texas!  That's right, I've come home.  Tonight we are staying in Burleson.  We will make it to Austin tomorrow and unload our overstuffed Subaru into our new apartment.  I was giddy when we crossed the state line into Texas.  Bailey has done really well with the drive.  Yesterday she sat on our laps the whole 12 hours, but today she was eaten by the seat monster and spent most of the day under the passenger side seat.  Only 3 more hours of driving to our new home.