Month: February 2016

A Bad Week

bad day3In the grand scheme of things there are probably a lot of people having worse weeks than I’ve had.  That said, it’s been a bit rough.

Monday it all started with a bit of a stomach ache and a headache that would last me a good 3 days.  The headache was so bad I kept rubbing the top of my head to the point where it is now chapped and red like a carpet burn.

20160226_092445.jpgThen later on Monday I started to get really nauseated.  I finally couldn’t keep any food down and was just miserable all day into Tuesday.  Thankfully my visiting teacher brought me some crackers and gatorade for Tuesday but it was a rough day.  Plus, I had to miss going to a play at Hale Theater with my family.

Not to get too graphic but while I was sick things got even worse when retching I pulled a muscle in my back which is quite painful.  Luckily by that point the headache had mostly gone away.

While all this was happening I still had work to do and things to take care of.  Fortunately I film all my videos (for the most part) on Friday and Saturday so this week was all set, but I had other tasks that needed to be done.  The worst of it is I have employee review on Monday.  Not exactly my best week to proceed a review, but my boss and coworkers are so understanding and kind it won’t be a problem. Still, not perfect work week.

Anyway, yesterday I did get a break from the tough week and suffered the back pain to watch Eddie the Eagle.  This was the perfect movie to watch after a tough week.  It’s like Rudy or Cool Runnings- an underdog sports story that makes you want to cheer.  I will write a review later on today and will post a link but it made me really happy. I needed that!

bad weekDo you have those bad weeks?  Of course you do.  We all do.  It’s part of life and happens from time to time.  Thankfully there is always tons to be grateful for and moments where life gives us a break.

I certainly hope you had a better week than I did.  Here’s to much better weeks in the future!

Here’s my youtube review of Eddie the Eagle


2016 Rachies

Who needs the Oscars? Over on my movie blog I present The Rachies. What I would nominate and win (including some of my own categories) as best of 2015. I think you will enjoy the post if you check it out.

Rachel's Reviews

Oscar statuettes are displayed at Times Square Studios 23 January 2006 in New York. The statuettes will be presented to winners of the 78th Academy Awards 05 March 2006 in Hollywood.

In spirit of the Oscars (which I will not be watching this year because I am not a Chris Rock fan and they will only tick me off like they did last year) I am giving my own nominations and winners for the major categories (as well as making my own categories up!).   Last year the Rachies were all animation.  This year since I saw so many more films I expanded it.  So if I ran the world this is how it would all go down!

Best Picture




The Martian

Inside Out (I’ll award it later)

45 Years


Mad Max Fury Road

Star Wars Force Awakens

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Emory Cohen (Brooklyn)

Michael B Jordan (Creed)

Best Actress

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Alicia Vikander (Testament of Youth)

Carey Mulligan…

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Teaser Tuesdays: Huckleberry Finn

huckleberry finn2

This week’s Teaser Tuesdays s another classic I’m enjoying reading all over again.  It’s Mark Twain’s seminal work Huckleberry Finn. In some ways on this read-through I am reminded a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Both books are dependent upon their narrator for tone, humor and spiritual insight.  Both have very similar narrators in  a way- Southern kids who are skeptical about the world.

On this read-through I’m reminded how funny Huck can be and what a likable character he is.  I particularly like the way he see’s Jim- as just another person.  He doesn’t seem to grasp the danger of his situation until later in the story and there is something refreshing about that naivety.  What’s great about Mark Twain is he manages to carry important messages while not taking things too seriously.  It’s like he tricks you into thinking profound thoughts! This is particularly true later on in the novel in the scenes between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons. Its considered by many to be the great American novel and I can see why!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page (or I like to do the page I’m currently reading)
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

huckleberry finn

This week my sentence is on page 25 of Huckleberry Finn: (Jim is reading Huck’s fortune from his hairball)

“You gwyne to have considerable trouble in yo’ life, en considerable joy.  Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you’s gwyne to git well ag’in.  Dye’s two gals flyin’ bout you in yo life.  One uv ’em’s light en t’other one is dark.  One is rich en t’other is po’. You gwyne to marry de po’ one fust en de rich one by en by”

Do you like Huckleberry Finn or do you think it is an overrated classic?  Which do you prefer Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer?   It’s surprising there has never been a great movie version of Huckleberry Finn.  Maybe Hollywood is afraid of the racial contexts but that hasn’t stopped them with other material.  I would be curious to see what African American director Steve McQueen would do with it (he directed 12 Years a Slave).

My Thoughts on Fair Use and #WTFU

Just a quick post today.  Recently there has been a movement amongst the youtube community commenting on its copyright management system.  It is a flawed system that stifles creativity and makes it too easy to file false claims.  I respect copyright but fair use is a viable defense in court when content is used for education, criticism and satire.  If youtube wants to have a creative community than they need to be consistent, fair and organized in how they handle fair use.  Things need to improve!

Friday 5: 5 Great Broadway Singers

This week on the Friday 5 we were asked to focus on 5 great female singers.  Well, I could have easily went with singers like Adele, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion etc but the more I thought about it the more I came back to Broadway.  For my money there is nothing like a Broadway singer in terms of quality of the singing voice.  Maybe you could make a claim for opera but I’m not as familiar with individual opera singers as Broadway.  Anyway, Broadway was my pick and I chose 5 singers I love:

  1. Julie Andrews- Does anything even need to be said to defend this choice? I mean Mary Poppins and Sound of Music alone seal the deal alone. The fact she can no longer sing makes me very depressed.  What an amazing voice and actress! Here she is singing Spoonful of Sugar
  2. Linda Eder- You might not be as familiar with Linda but she is an incredible talent.  She became famous playing Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde.   The most famous song from that show is Someone Like You.  I almost went with her rendition of Anthem from Chess but I couldn’t find a good 25 second or under section.  That’s the trouble with Friday 5 is you have to find a song that sell’s itself in a short section because of copyright issues. Not all songs do.
  3. Idina Menzel- My favorite belt singer is Idina and after seeing her live I am an even bigger fan of hers.  What a mastery over this particular type of sound.  It’s bold, striking and beautiful.  Here she is singing Defying Gravity from Wicked and Let it Go from Frozen
  4. Judy Garland- Ok she was not technically Broadway but she was in a lot of musicals and did a lot of concert albums, so I say it counts.  This particular song I went with because You Made Me Love You is such a heartbreaking reality of Judy’s life.  I also love her in Meet Me in St Louis and maybe I will use some of her songs from that show in later Friday 5s like the Trolley Song. . Of course I love Over the Rainbow.  Here she is singing it live in her famous London concert
  5. Kelli Ohara- Perhaps non-Broadway buffs might not be super familiar with Kelli but she has an amazing voice and has done just about everything on Broadway.  Recently she lit it up playing Anna in the King and I.  She’s also been amazing in Light in the Piazza, Nice Work if You Can Get It, South Pacific, Pajama Game and more.  Here she is singing Getting to Know You.  and here is Beauty Is from Light in the Piazza. 

What do you think of my 5 choices?  What are some of your favorite female Broadway singers both living and past on?  As a musical buff I would love to talk about it!  What’s your favorite musical?

Screenwriting interview with Melissa Leilani

Hi guys! Many of you know I have dabbled in writing over the years and participate in Nanowrimo each year.  Of course, I also love movies and especially a well written script.  Well, today I had the cool experience today where I got to interview Melissa Leilani and find out what it is like to be a screenwriter.  She was the main writer for a film I loved in 2015 called Freetown.

Freetown is a faith-based film but one that is approachable to anyone.  It tells the story of a man who must smuggle 6 missionaries out of Liberia during their brutal civil war.  Things are tense and Brother Abubakar is a man of practical faith mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism.  It makes him a very compelling character.

What I really appreciated about Freetown is that it told a compelling story and let the messsaging take care of itself.  Unlike many faith based films (that I still find some value in) I didn’t feel it was preachy or forcing a message upon me.  In fact, my friend Yusuf who is Muslim liked the film as much as I did.

Here are both of our reviews:

I think you might find it interesting to watch the film and then listen to the interview about her experience.  However, I also think it will be interesting if you are just interested in screenwriting or writing in general.  It was really cool to hear about her process, the research that went into the film and how she approached characters and faith.

We do get off topic a few times (we have very similar movie and theater taste!) but it was a lot of fun for me.  She has a theater background so her transition from playwright to screenwriter was very interesting.

Anyway, this is only the 3rd interview I have done, so if you have any feedback that would be great.  I hope you enjoy it.

Teaser Tuesdays: Smile

This week’s Teaser Tuesdays is a book called Smile by Raina Telgemeier.  I haven’t had much luck with graphic novels in the past.  I find them too busy and it is hard for me to get absorbed in the story.  It’s like my brain doesn’t know where to focus and I just get frustrated.  Well, the search is over because I have found a graphic novel I LOVE!  This is the first Teaser Tuesday I have done on a book I have finished.  I loved it so much I read it in one sitting.  I couldn’t put it down last night (it’s an easy read but still). It’s just great!

It tells the story of Raina’s childhood through the lens of her extreme dental work.  She is just a hair older than me but I related so much to everything she shared.  It feels very real.  Everything from her losing and getting new friends, to loving Little Mermaid and discovering what she wants to do in life, to having crushes on boys.  It was just completely delightful.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page.
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Since Smile is a graphic novel I will share an image with my sentence.  I hope it gives you feel for the book page 39 :

smile6My sister said my niece just rereads this book over and over again and I can see why.  I LOVED it and I don’t love books that often.  It was funny, sweet, honest and heartfelt.  I loved the illustrations and would honestly love to see it made into a TV series.  It’s just great! I can’t say enough good things about it.

 Have you read Smile?  Let me know in comments section.

Movie Munchies: Ratatouille

Today I get to present to you the 2nd episode in my Movie Munchies series.  Just in time for Valentines Day Jacqueline and I make the french dish ratatouille and talk about- you guessed it- Pixar’s Ratatouille!  These videos were a huge challenge for me so I would love your feedback.  We plan to do a couple a month so if you have ideas for good movie/recipe combinations please put in the comments sections.

Also if you try the recipe let me know what you think.  It’s a very versatile dish that you can use as a main dish or side.  Very tasty.

Thanks so much for your feedback and help!

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large
1 lb mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

Salt the eggplant and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Saute peppers, onions and garlic till translucent.  Add eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms and get some color.  Add tomatoes and then let stew on medium low heat as long as you can.  Serve as a topping for pasta or a side with meat.

2016 Valentine

Hi everyone!  Happy Valentines Day!  I have a tradition of designing custom valentines each year.  It’s my way of embracing the holiday.  You can see some of my previous cards here

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And introducing this year’s valentine!

Rachel_Valentine2016I hope you all have a great day and know how much I love you!  Thank you for all your support over the years.

Friday 5: Favorite Love Songs

Hi guys!  I just wanted to share with you my latest Friday 5 video.  This week’s topic is favorite love songs and I have done 6 songs, so you get a bonus!  I wanted to share with my youtube audience my 2016 valentine, which I will post here on Valentines Day.  Consider this a sneak peak.

What do you think of my picks? and What are some of your favorite love songs?

I hope you guys have a great Valentines weekend and feel lots of love.