“Les Miserables” Review

ImageIf it wasn’t clear before, I’m a fan of musicals. Be they theater or movie adaptions, there’s something so emotional and fun about musicals to me. Les Miserables is one I’ve wanted to see in theater, but still have yet to experience. So, as a sort of compensation and some convincing by my boyfriend (who adores the musical), I watched last year’s film adaption. Bear in mind that I’m basing this review purely on the movie and the story as it was explained to me previously by him. Speaking of the story, I won’t be going into that this time around because, well, it’s pretty complicated with multiple characters/storylines that intertwine.

That said, I thought the cast all around was great. Hugh Jackman is one of my favorite actors in existence right now, and I thought he brought good singing and a lot of emotion to the part of lead character Jean Valjean. The supporting cast around him was, for the most part, solid and had strong singing voices as well. I had gripes with three actors, however. First would be Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers, the comic relief of the musical. While I admire Sacha for trying to keep a French accent while he sang, I thought both were a little flat save for a couple quick and funny reactions. The third is the one everyone’s criticized, Russell Crowe. Now, the man’s a fine actor and he tries his best with hitting the notes. The problem is that there’s not nearly enough if any emotion to his verses. I don’t feel he was completely awful, but he was definitely the weakest link as far as singing talent.

I felt the story was fairly easy to follow as well, considering the length of the book it’s adapted from. The movie’s 3 hours long, and there were times where the pacing seemed a teeny, tiny bit slow. But, overall, I felt it did a great job keeping my attention and interest. I’m aware the songs were filmed live and it does show at times, sounding a little unpolished here and there. But they still left an emotional impact on me and that besides entertainment value is what I look for most in musical songs. My favorite will forever be “One Day More,” though, because as a cap-off to Act 1 it packs a powerful punch.

The production values were strong as well. Even though most of my time was spent focusing on the acting/singing and story, I didn’t once feel like I was looking at a set or computer graphics (if there were any). The environments were gritty where appropriate and fit the style of the 1800s. My only minor complaint is that, as years pass within the film, a few characters don’t look like they’ve aged a day. Maybe it was a budget thing, but it didn’t really bother me either way.

“Les Miserables” has a powerful story and is a good film adaption. I feel that I’d enjoy the theater version even more, but this was a good introduction for me to the story. I would gladly revisit this musical in the future. As for the 2012 film, I give it a solid 8.5/10.

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The Return of “Whose Line is it Anyway?”

To start off, no, I won’t be technically reviewing the relaunch episodes of Whose Line. Instead, I wanna talk about my love for the show leading up to this relaunch.

ImageFor those who don’t know, the show consists of a host and four comedians acting out various improv games. These games consist of them getting a scenario from the host and then making everything up off the top of their heads. It’s treated like a light-hearted competition where unnecessary points are given out and eventually a “winner” is announced.

Years ago, when The Drew Carey Show was still on the air, I discovered the US version of Whose Line while watching TV with my parents. We ended up split on our opinion of it, with my mom thinking it was stupid and my dad and I thinking it was hilarious. After that, I tried to watch as much of the show as I could, even going so far to tape a few episodes for repeat viewing. I eventually discovered that it was spun off from a UK version years prior, and while I haven’t seen much of it still, I enjoyed it all the same.

But my main love for Whose Line originated from the US show. Hosted by Drew Carey, it had mainstay actors like Ryan Stiles (also of The Drew Carey Show fame), Colin Mochrie (a great Canadian actor), and Wayne Brady (who’s been on Dave Chappelle and Don’t Forget the Lyrics among other things). There would always be a fourth rotating guest as well, and I came to know and enjoy all of them. I especially loved when Ryan and Colin would be teamed up, because they had great chemistry both as friends and comedians. The show quickly became one of my favorite comedic shows to watch, right up there with The Simpsons, Friends and Just for Laughs.

But sadly, it was cancelled and put through reruns for a few years. That is, until this year, more specifically this summer. This past Tuesday, the show premiered with two back-to-back episodes. Ryan, Colin, Wayne and that rotating fourth guest are back, as well as the musicians for the show. Aisha Tyler is the new host now that Drew Carey is obligated to The Price is Right. The episodes brought me back to the days of classic Whose Line. Even though the actors are older, they all still have that wit that keeps things fresh and funny. And while I’ll have to get used to Aisha both as a host and comedian, she did start to win me over a little midway through the second episode.

Whose Line did more than make me laugh, though. It also made me gain an appreciation for improv overall. Before that, I got most of my comedy from sitcoms and stand-up. But with the discovery of this new kind and the realization of how difficult it is to pull off well, I quickly grew to love improv as my favorite type of comedy. As a show, Whose Line is one of the rare few I can watch even reruns of and still laugh my butt off. I’m happy it’s back and already doing well on TV, and I hope it sticks around for a long time to come.

Being Pushy & My First Major Crush

Well, after watching a video from a person I’m subscribed to on YouTube last night, I got inspired to write another blog this week. Brace yourselves, ’cause I’m about to get serious for this one.  Also, I have not changed the names of the people involved, but of course have left out their last names for decrepancy.

Like most people, I get many traits from my parents, some good and some bad. For the most part, most of the traits to come through my relationship with my boyfriend have been good. And even some that would be considered “bad” he finds endearing. Some examples would be my tendency to be possessive (I trust HIM wholeheartedly, but if another woman dares to make a move on him some day, watch out), and my lack of patience in some cases. But there is one bad trait that I worry comes up on my part: Pushiness.

To be blunt, I’ve always felt my mom wears the pants in my parents’ relationship. She’s the one who has to push my dad to go out to places and try new things. And while my boyfriend and I are open to both as it is, I worry sometimes that I push other things too much. A recent example would be me bringing up his eventual proposal to me. I’ve noticed (as he most likely has) that I repeat myself often about it, even if it’s me saying how I don’t want to make him feel pressured into it. In all fairness, it’s something we both want very much, but I still feel like I’m pushing the issue and need to step back before he DOES feel pressured or gets really annoyed at me. Being pushy is a trait I’ve been trying to squash since the first time it REALLY backfired on me.

This is where the story of my first major crush comes in. The guy, Ben, started out as my friend. I met him when I went into high school and we soon started hanging out with mutual friends. We had a few things in common like a love for video games, sharing the same favorite character in Buffy, and having high aspirations once we got out of school. By the time Gr. 10 rolled around, I had developed a pretty big crush on him.

Then… He started dating a girl I knew since elementary school, Shawna. During a night where we were chatting over the phone, I let it slip that I had liked him. He confided in me that he’d liked me too and had he known for sure I liked him before, he would’ve asked me out. I was of course disappointed, but I let it go knowing we’d at least be friends. A month or two later, however,  they split up. And this is where the pushiness demon comes in.

A few weeks after they split, still happy at the thought that he’d liked me, I started asking Ben about us possibly going out on a date. This wasn’t something I asked on a daily basis, but I did bring it up at least once a week or more from then on, thinking he’d be willing to give it a shot. Now, during this year, he, I and Shawna all shared a class together. I stupidly made it vocal around her when we were alone that Ben and I might try dating. As a token of good will (?), she handed me a necklace to give back to him, which in my mind signaled she was way over him at this point.

Things went downhill from there. One late afternoon, as classes let out and I was waiting for my bus, I started chatting with another friend, Lyndsy, who I knew since kindergarten. She shared an English class with both Ben and Shawna, and it was in that moment she divulged two pieces of information to me.  One, Ben told her he didn’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me, but he wasn’t that into me and wasn’t looking to date. And two, Shawna was bad-mouthing me to her friends, telling them she couldn’t believe he’d think of dating someone ugly like me.

In that one moment, my crush was over. I kept a brave face in front of Lyndsy and on the way home, but inside I was devastated. At home, I picked at my dinner and when I hopped in the shower I cried and sobbed the entire time. I don’t remember ever telling my parents what happened, but by the next day I felt so down and physically ill that I stayed home from school. And even after all of that, by the next year I was asking, no, pushing Ben about his promise the year prior to at least take me to our Gr. 12 prom. Needless to say, I got over that BY Gr. 12, and Ben simply remained a friend until we went to separate colleges.

Even since then, I’ve worried about being too pushy in any sense, be it towards crushes or my now boyfriend. But then I remind myself that I’m the one who has to be in control of that, and I’m definitely not as naive as I was back then. On top of that, I’m with a man who does confront me on my behavior and does his best to tell me things to my face. And no matter how worried I may get, my resolve to be the best I can be for him and love him unconditionally is what keeps me strong in our relationship.

Animal Crossing Adventures

A couple blogs ago, I mentioned my renewed addiction to Animal Crossing thanks to the newest game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. One of the more subtle features is the ability to snap screenshots in-game with the 3DS camera. And that got me thinking, “Hm, this could make for a fun, visually interesting blog.” So, with that in mind, allow me to take you through my town, Sunidale (a play on Sunnydale, the town from the Buffy TV show).

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A few days into the game, my character (Laura) met former town mayor Tortimer. This lead to me being able to visit an awesome tropical island, the best source of money in the game.

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And here I am taking part in my first AC holiday – Summer Solstice! I made plenty of weird faces, didn’t I?

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One cool feature is being able to collect Nintendo items via fortune cookies. Here I decided to embrace being a Pikmin (okay, not really).

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Having saved tons of money, this is my fully expanded house (the default version)

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And this wicked castle is my house now.

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Since I’m not friends with some people or can’t be, I decided to try out the Dream Suite to see other towns. This is me being silly in the dream version of one of my favorite LPers, MadameWario.

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But hanging out with friends is always the best. Here I am with my friends Chris and Lozzy in Chris’s town, Dastara. This is his totally awesome Triforce tree stump.

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Chris has a neighbor named Diana, a deer. NEVER would have expected her to spout off an Army of Darkness reference.

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Speaking of neighbors, let’s meet some of mine! First up is my favorite of all, the candy-loving Chester.  We didn’t catch any fish, by the way.

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Next is Curly, the jock of my town. Hm… Maybe I should try catching him Wind Waker style…

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This is Rocco, my second favorite. He’s a grump and I’m not so grump, so we make a great team. 😉

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This is Olivia, looking like she’s about to share secrets and/or gossip with me. I keep mistakenly calling her Monique after the snooty cat from my original town.

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Partying it up with Jeremiah (the birthday boy frog) and Bonbon. I didn’t have much for gifts, so I gave him a cute Gyroid (basically a sound-making creature thing).

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There are more villagers than I’ve shown, but I’ve saved the worst for last. This is Sterling, a runaway from my friend Lee Ann’s town. She hates him, I hate him, and I’m still thinking of ways to kick him out, as you can see.

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By the way, this one’s a little something for my boyfriend. He seems to enjoy double rainbows for some reason. Something to do with robot unicorns, I think. 😛

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Besides Tortimer and your secretary Isabelle (sadly, I forgot to grab a pic of her), there are plenty of town visitors and residents. Starting off with my absolute favorite, this is K.K. Slider. He plays songs and can give you copies for your house.

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This was too adorable to not get a pic of. Too bad the credits always have to play during these songs!

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K.K. plays guitar on Saturdays, but most nights he’s known as DJ K.K., rockin’ out the club with remixes of his stuff. In the background you can see me and my town flag (of K.K.!) on-screen.

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This is Blathers, the museum curator. He’s always asleep during the day, because, well, he’s an owl. Not that I like watching him sleep or anything…

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Hey, it’s the popular brothers! …No, not those brothers. This is Don and Sonny Resetti, and if you’re not careful when you quit, they’ll lecture you good.

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Ahhh, Lyle, help me! Tom Nook’s chasing me to try and take my money for more renovations!

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I never played City Folk, but I’ve seen others play and I liked Kicks the instant I saw him. Cute little guy, isn’t he?

As you can probably guess, there’s tons more I haven’t shown. But, these are just a few of those candid moments I felt like sharing. Thanks for taking a look at my town, and let’s wrap up with a sweet song from my island chauffeur, Kapp’n:

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Late Night Ranting

So, having realized today that I haven’t blogged all week, I’m doing it now. This particular rant is coming from a conversation I had during lunch with my mom. I vented to her about work and my annoyingly picky boss, and one thing stood out to her above all else: “I think my boss thinks I’m stupid.”

Now, I’m not stupid and I wasn’t trying to beat myself. She’s not technically condescending, but since starting there I’ve felt like she’s criticized my mistakes and me in general more than anyone else. Granted, two of my coworkers have been there at least a year and the other started just after I did, so I’m sure they’ve all had their fair share at some point. But that’s just it. They get away with doing stuff that I was taught not to do. For example, asking customers if they want their receipt instead of just giving it to them like the boss told me when I first used the cash register. I feel like with the way she criticizes me, though, that she would say something to ME if I did that.

Another thing I’ve picked up on is that she can talk relatively easily to my other three co-workers, but most of the time I end up hearing either orders or criticisms. Now, I know not all bosses want to be buddy-buddy with their co-workers, but I wish she’d show a bit more friendliness my way and even a rare compliment when I do something right. It’s pretty bad when I feel one of my co-workers would make a better boss than her based on those merits.

And on top of that, she’s questioned me as a person before. Such stuff like saying I don’t listen to customers (listening is one of my strong suits, in my honest opinion) and my ability to learn from my mistakes (which I feel I have since first starting). She makes me feel less like a 25 year old adult and more like a teenager on their first job. It’s frustrating beyond belief.

But, as my mom said to me, I can’t let her get to me. If anything, the best I can do is semi-ignore her attitude and just do my job, even if I have to grumble under my breath. I’m just hopeful something (and someONE) better will come along at least by next year.