Month: September 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con and My Own Limits

comicon4So I had a neat experience on Saturday.  I got to go to Comic Con!  Evidently this years con was one of the biggest outside of California and it felt like it.  It was packed to the brim with all kinds of people in cosplay (costumes for the non-con folks) and there is no shortage of treats for all kinds of fandoms.

One thing that was cool this year is there was more free booths then I had noticed last year.  You could get your picture taken with Superman, Batman or these friends from a favorite comic book movie of mine- Guardians of the Galaxy.

comicon3Comic Con is expensive enough that I thought it was nice to have a some things for free.   This year I decided to not do any of the paid photo ops even though I was tempted with Chris Evans (Captain America!) there.  Last year I did several and the long lines were tough for me (more on that later on).

The real treat of Comic Con is the panels and forums.  If I go next year I may just go to panels because that’s much easier on my body and the fun part. The highlight for me was getting to hear from longtime Disney animator Floyd Norman who spoke about his experience working with Walt Disney on Jungle Book and his time working with the famous 9 Old Men who were the Disney animation masters in the early days.   He was funny and insightful.  I particularly liked how he said he was an animator first and African American second.  He did not feel looked down on or disrespected by the Disney family as long as he did good work.  That was cool to hear.

comicon2Here is some of his address.  It’s not the best audio quality but thought you might enjoy it anyway.

Then the other highlight was the Twisted Toonz panel.   This is a panel where very talented voice actors read Harry Potter scripts in different voices.  It is so funny and amazing to hear them alternate between the voices.  What masters of their crafts are these voice actors.  The panel this year included Dee Bradley Baker, Rob Paulsen, Maurice LeMarche, Tress MacNeille and Jess Harnell.  They were so funny!

I didn’t take this video because I was pretty far back but I found it on youtube.

I also went to a panel on The Muppets which was very interesting.

So all of that was fun, but there was some stuff that wasn’t fun.  First of all, the organization of the event needs improvement.  It is so hard to find out where things are and there aren’t enough signs or people to help with directions.  There are also not enough food vendors so they all have long lines.  I tried to bring sandwiches but they ended up getting all smashed. Even bottled water is a pain to procure.  Everything is a long line and lines are tough for me.

I also don’t know how you solve this but it is so jam packed.  I’m sure Saturday is the busiest day so perhaps next year I will take a day off and go on Thursday which I am sure is less crowded.  You get bumped around and it is so hard to do anything with the lines and waiting.

I wish they had more signs to get to parking because I exited a different place than I entered and got all turned around and ended up walking around for about an hour trying to find the parking lot and find my car.  You can see my frustration by the time I found the stupid car:

I was especially frustrated because I had a screen printed t-shirt I had inked at Comic Con and in the madness looking for the car I set it down and didn’t realize it, thought it was in my bag and left it somewhere 😦

One thing I learned at Comic Con is I realized I have a limit on such events.  I knew around 4 pm I had reached my limit but I pushed myself further doing things till 6.  By then I was tired and my feet were very sore.  Then the additional hour looking for my car was too much.  If I had left at 4 I would have left Comic Con with a smile on my face and been happy but I had to push my limits.  No more!  This is something which is supposed to be fun (it’d be one thing if it was pushing myself for work or volunteering but this is for fun).  So I am going to work on stopping when I reach that limit.  I think if I ever go to Disneyland again this will be key for me having a good time.

It’s so easy to say ‘I want to get my money’s worth’ but at what cost?  It seriously almost ruined my experience at Comic Con because I was so exhausted by the end of it.  It’s not worth it to push past my limits if it is going to ruin the fun.  My poor feet ended up blistered and sore after (and still are).

I guess I want to be able to do more but I can’t and that’s the breaks.

But overall I did have fun and learned a lot so I am happy with my Comic Con experience.

Did any of you go?  What did you think?


2015 Animation So Far Ranked

Over on the movie blog just put out my ranking of the animated films of 2015 so far. Would love for you to take a look.

Rachel's Reviews

So 2015 hasn’t been the year in animation 2014 was (still in my Oscar reviews 2014 is one of my favorites).  The thing that made 2014 cool was even the silly comedies were solid.  But that’s a post for another day.  Let’s talk about the films of 2015 so far.  Song of the Sea (still best film I’ve seen in 2014) doesn’t count because it is technically a 2014 release.

Going bottom to top…

Strange Magic-

Not a good movie by any stretch but not as bad as any of last years bad animated films. It’s the script and the uncreative song choices that sink this magical fairytale



Terrible voice performances and characters that don’t really make sense with a tired plot spoil decent animation from a book I’m told is quite clever. Basically ends up being a lame road trip movie.  A real letdown.


Maya the Bee-


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Friday Five: Favorite Songs from the 90s

Hi guys!  It’s Friday which means it is time for the Friday Five!  This is a series I’ve been participating in on my youtube channel where you get a topic and then pick 5 songs in said topic.  Last week was pick a song from a decade and I chose the 50s and nearly everyone else picked the 90s.  So, this week being a grab bag week I decided to add my two cents into my favorite songs from the 90s.

The 90s were of course a very formative time for me as it was the decade I went from 10-19 (doesn’t get more formative age range than that!).  And I remember my Mother telling me ‘all the songs sound the same’ and I didn’t really understand what she meant. But now I hear current music and I think ‘that sounds just like….from the 90s’.  I think whatever is that formative music era is like that for most people.  It shapes how you listen to music the rest of your life.

The 5 songs I picked are also from what are in my opinion perfect albums.  Something like REM and their album Automatic for the People is an album I could listen to start to finish and love every song.  I feel in the digital Itunes age the value of an album has diminished but I still love finding one especially if it tells a story with all the songs.  Coldplay’s Viva la Vida is a great example of a more recent perfect album.

What do you think of my 5 picks and what are your favorite songs from the 90s? What to you is a perfect album?

Recent Book Club Books

Hi!  I’ve had a bit of a writing block lately for this blog but I was thinking about the books I’ve read in book club and realized I haven’t updated any of you on my thoughts.

These mini-reviews are from my goodreads account and I’d love if you followed me there if you have an account.  Have you read any of the books we’ve read for book club.  The best were Animal Farm and Winter’s Tale (although not big hits with the club.  Oh well!).  I’d love to hear your thoughts either in the comments section or on the goodreads review.

Are you in a book club? What have you been reading?   Next up for book club is Bram Stoker’s Dracula which I have never read.  It should be out of my comfort zone which is the whole point of book club right?

My favorite book I’ve read this year is Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella so I included that review down below as well.

Happy reading!
Wonder by  RJ Palacio
WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought it was ok. A good message for kids and competently written. Was a little too corny and predictable to be a favorite and I didnt think the different narrators was necessary but it’s harmless and fine

Dune- Frank Herbert
Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried to read it but I kept falling asleep. No characters were engaging and the story didn’t go anywhere. It felt like Phantom Menace in book form. Honestly, all I remember is lots of talk about spices and trade. ZZZZZZZZ

Waiting for Normal- Leslie Connor

Waiting for NormalWaiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Was much better than I expected it to be. I liked that the lead girl wasn’t a genius book nerd like so many of these types of stories. I liked that everything wasn’t too depressing (more abandonment not sexual or physical abuse). I liked the ending and the dialogue was very good.

There are a lot of books like this that I think are better. It made me think of Because of Winn Dixie which I think is a little bit stronger

Animal Farm- George Orwell
Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a political science grad how can I not like this book? It’s very pessimistic though- kind of a warning of what could happen if the human race stops caring about each other’s well being but instead cares only for the power that others can give them.

This last read-through I was struck by how it comments on how easily we are manipulated. How Napoleon would say one thing, have one rule, and then talk his way out of said rule. Make the animals believe he hadn’t even had the rule in the first place. I think that happens in modern times a lot.

Not in the Script by Amy Finnigan
Not in the Script (If Only . . . #3)Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Felt like an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 but not nearly campy enough to be fun like that show was. The writer isn’t bad but I didn’t like the different perspectives and had little interest in the story of a bunch of TV stars

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
Winter's TaleWinter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everyone else I know hated this book and thought it was boring but I enjoyed it. I liked the romance and the unique setting. It was kind of like a magical version of Downton Abbey with time travel thrown in. I love time travel in books and Peter and Beverly were such an endearing couple.

I felt often like I was reading a Dickens or Bronte. The kind of book you never get these days with details about the house, clothes, city and everything else. I really felt like Helprin had a way with words and enjoyed how he wrote both elegant and passionate dialogue.

I can see why others find it boring but to me it was original and different and a pleasant surprise.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Out of the EasyOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There are things I liked about this book. It has an engaging narrator and the story was surprising (if falling into underworld/mafia cliches on occasion).

My main problem was I didn’t think the author went far enough. For a story about a girl raised in a brothel it is remarkably tame and unrealistic. Not that you have to share everything but you’d think these women had any other job. Never was there talk about syphilis or the range of early death and disease such a trade brought about. It was all a little too starched and perfect. Plus, all the prostitutes are kind of the cliched hooker with the heart of gold we’ve seen a million times.

The likelihood for severe abuse on a girl like Josie with a mother she had would have been extremely high. It seemed highly unlikely she could make it out so unscathed. Just the whole thing felt a little bit too much like Cinderella fairytale than a gritty portrayal like the author was going for.

There was something about the characters I struggled to relate too. They clearly have a different lifestyle and upbringing than I do but I didn’t feel emotionally connected enough until the end to Josie or any of the characters.

Sometimes I think in books authors will make their characters readers as a way to quickly ascribe a whole range of traits. Intelligent, dreamer, idealist etc. In this case I needed a little more character development than just those typically reader traits. The 2 love interests are also very bland and predictable.

It’s not a terrible book by any means. I did think the story was pretty good and the lead character fairly engaging and the feel of New Orleans is nicely done.

Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Like a lame episode of Law and Order or CSI. Didn’t like any of the characters. Big reveal is obvious. Red Herrings lame. And I am so tired of books with different narrators. Just pick one! (seriously this is like the 5th book this year I’ve read with different narrators).

I’ve seen a lot of people compare this book to Gone Girl and I haven’t read the book but I really don’t see why. I’m not the biggest fan of the movie but to me it was much more carefully structured and unique than this incredibly generic mystery story.

Also the way it dealt with alcoholism felt very Lifetime Original Movieish.

Finding Audrey  by Sophie Kinsella (not for book club but my favorite book of the year)
Finding AudreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I can’t think of when I’ve laughed so hard. The interactions between Mom and Frank, Frank and Audrey, Audrey and Mom and everyone else were perfect. It actually felt like a real family but it was still very funny.
I also loved how it handled mental illness in a nuanced way that also felt real. The way it handled therapy, healing, anxiety, panic everything was perfect.
I loved the characters and story and voice.
It does have a fair amount of swears including F words several times.

To View all my reviews click on this link

Friday 5: Songs from a Decade 1950s

Hi guys!  Sorry I’ve been a little MIA this week.  I have honestly been busy but have also had a bit of a writers block and couldn’t think of anything good to write about on this blog.  If any of you have suggestions for things you’d like me to opine on let me know.

But today I have my 3rd entry in the Friday 5.  This week’s topic is to select 5 songs from a particular decade.  I chose the 1950s because I wanted to be a little different (watch everyone will pick 1950s now!) and I like the wholesomeness of that decade as far as music and movies.

I think the 5 songs I chose are very iconic along with the singers attached to them.  What decade would you pick and what songs?  What are your favorite songs from the 1950s?

If any of you would like to join in and do the Friday 5 on your blog please do.  It would be fun if we could get it both in the youtube and blogging world (bridge the gap as they say 🙂  ).

Happy Friday!

Family Movie Night Update

Hey everyone!  I just wanted to put a little reminder about my new column over at  I just had posted my 6th piece on Curious George.  It would really help me out if you went on the site and left some comments on the articles.  Please, please, please

Here is a link to each article.

The articles include both my video and a print review that goes into more depth.  I have tried to do a variety of films that will hopefully appeal to a mixture of families.  I would love some feedback from you on the type of films I should review in the future.  The only rule is it has to be a film available on Netflix Stream, as that is the main premise of the column.  If you watch any of them with your family I would love to know how it goes.

So far I have reviewed (I will include links to the column and the video review if you just want to watch those.)

Column 1- Disney’s Holes

Column 2- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Column 3- Anastasia

Column 4- An Extremely Goofy Movie

Column 5- The Boxtrolls

I have been working on learning to use Adobe Premiere software and it is tough.  Curious George was my first video with that software.

Column 6- Curious George

Next week’s pick will be the Rodger and Hammerstein musical State Fair.  Here’s the video (I am a week ahead on the channel to give me time to write for the column).

This is the best video I have done with Adobe Premiere.  I’m kind of proud of it

Friday Five: Songs that Make Me Cry

Today is of course the 14 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I think we all remember where we were on that day and what happened.  I was going to campus for my senior year of college at BYU.  We heard on the radio of a small plane accident in New York and then I got up to campus and knew immediately it was more than that.  Everything was so quiet and everyone was on their cell phones, which at the time seemed really strange (funny ha!).

I then went to my philosophy class and we watched the coverage.  When they said the Pentagon had been hit I remember literally thinking ‘is this the end?’.  It felt like the end of the world. 2001 had been a very difficult year for my family with my Grandpa and 2 cousins passing away that year.  Then 9/11 happened so you can imagine why I came to that conclusion.

Of course it was not the end of the world but it certainly was the beginning of a new journey for our country. One I worry we have become too complacent about.  We need to do all we can to support our brave men and women who serve in our armed forces and try to elect people who will protect our country both spiritually and physically.

Anyway, one of the things that gets me through hard times is music, and sometimes I need music that can express sadness.  And if I learned anything from Inside Out it is that sadness is an important part of being a healthy person.  And music can help us cope with grief, loss, loneliness and many other sad moments in life.

So this week for the Friday Five the theme is sad songs, or ‘songs that make me cry’.  I chose 2 country songs, which I think is a medium that is particularly good at storytelling. I have one Broadway song from West Side Story, a gospel song from the Celtic Women, and a jazz number from a forgotten singer named Jimmy Scott who you should all look up.  He has such a unique voice.

I hope you enjoy my choices and give them a listen too.  Hopefully don’t cry!

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and I rewatched this video.  As someone who had a dark time (although never suicidal), I found the video very moving.  Especially the story of the man and his brother who listened.

I hope we can all be people who will listen and withhold judgement from those that are struggling with these issues.  We truly all matter and add something unique to the world that nobody else can.  If there is anything I can ever do I hope to have my eyes out for it and be there in the best way I know how.  In the least I can pray for you when you are struggling.

No more goodbyes!

Books vs Movies


Last night I went with my sister to the drive-in movie theater.  It was a really fun experience and I got to see Inside Out for the 4th time (love that movie!) and Ant-Man for the 2nd time.  I had a great time revisiting these films and spending time with my sisters.  However, my youngest sister and I started discussing the films after and she said that she is almost never ‘in love’ with a movie.  She likes them fine but even something like Inside Out didn’t really blow her away.

As we discussed I realized I felt the same way about books that she felt about movies.  I love a good book.  Recently I read Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella and loved it!  It was so exciting to read something that really excited me.  Unfortunately that experience is far too rare.  Just like Maddie said about movies I am rarely ‘in love’ with a book.  I make it a goal to read 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction book a month and I’m lucky if 1 out of 24 books really excites me.

In recent years books that have excited me are Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and My Life in France by Julia Child (which I actually first read in 2010 so we are going back away on that one).  Counting Finding Audrey that’s 5 books in 5 years that I’ve LOVED.

Now when it comes to movies there are literally dozens in those 5 years I have loved.  That’s why I keep rereading books I love because a new book seems like such an unlikely bargain.  I have a friend who told me she’d never reread a book.  That blew me away.  I wouldn’t hardly read at all if I didn’t reread.

Just to be clear I would put those 5 books well over any movie, but I’m afraid they are the exception rather than the rule.

So why am I more likely to love a movie than a book?  Well, the experience is so different.  In a movie you get to live in a world for 2 hours and you get a whole story.  In a book you are there for weeks, even a month, so the story better be very compelling to keep my interest.   For example, I like being in Middle Earth for 2 hours in a movie but reading the Hobbit is tough for me to get through.

A lot of people notice the details in books like the Harry Potter series and are disappointed when those details are removed.  In all honesty, while I enjoyed reading those books and think they are quite brilliant those little details are lost on me.  I’m just not a detail oriented reader.  I am way more likely to notice details in a Harry Potter movie than to remember them from the books.  I’m not saying the Harry Potter movies are better than the books.  They are just a different experience and one that is a little bit more palatable to me (I’ve never been a fantasy fan in books but don’t mind it in movies).


I think a lot of it comes down to how I learn.  I was a late reader and have always learned through visual stimuli and repetition.  A movie has so much more to think about than a book and the message is repeated in so many different ways.  For example, in one scene in a book we may be told it is scary but in the movie we have the score, acting, cinematography, lighting, special effects etc all contributing to the message of being scared.

I love the discussion and community which revolves around movies (and to a lesser extent books).  I am in a book club with some bloggers who are amazing and read 9-12 books a month!  That blows my mind.  For me I enjoy talking about the 2 books I read a month (sometimes more) but I can see 2 movies a week so there is so much more to talk about and compare. It’s really fun comparing thoughts and talking about film.

Part of the problem with books is I have a higher content standard.  It’s one thing to watch a movie for 2 hours with some language or other objectionable content.  I probably shouldn’t but I can rationalize a lot of that away.  But with a book I’m living with those characters for weeks so I’m going to be a lot pickier if they are mouthing off all the time or doing other immoral stuff.  I’d say there are a lot more stories I can stomach in a 2 hour movie than in a book.  TV is even worse because it can be living with that content for years.

Now to reiterate I love to read.  I’ve even written my silly books for NanoWriMo and I try to always have 2 books I’m reading at any given time.  All I’m saying is that I rarely find books that excite me and that I love.  Whereas, I find movies I love all the time.

Does  that makes sense?  Does anyone agree with me?  Or perhaps are you on the flip side with my sister and rarely find a movie you love but find many books?  Neither way is wrong as long as you keep your toe dipped in both pools (I feel strongly it is important to the understanding of our culture to at least see a few movies a year and it’s good for the brain to keep reading. Both are important)

Friday Five: Songs from Favorite Movies

Hey guys!  I hope you all have a fabulous Labor Day Weekend.  I’ve been having so much fun with my sister in town for a visit.

Today I posted my first video in the Youtube series- The Friday Five.  This was started by youtuber Sara Crawford where each week she picks a theme and you have to pick 5 songs to go with said them.  I’ve been wanting to participate but couldn’t quite fit it in.  Then I saw today’s theme and just had too.

The theme for the week is Songs from Favorite Movies.  The only hard part was narrowing it down to just 5! I could do hundreds.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with.  Check it out and let me know what you think and what your picks are.  I will try and post this series on the blog and channel each week so it should be a lot of fun.