Awkward and Awesome Thursday: For the Love of Film

Awkward:

  • The incredibly creative and clever title I had picked out for the movie I’m shooting next summer apparently already belongs to a teeny-bopper B-movie starring the sister of one of the Backstreet Boys.
  • Picmonkey. I don’t miss Picnik quite so much 🙂 and it’s free!
  • Being at work from 8am to 11pm. Blech.
  • The dessert I was promised at the Rochester Audio Visual Association dinner was a lie.
  • It seems you have to be a business woman in order to be a successful filmmaker. Well, one down, one to go.

Awesome:
  • Annual RAVA dinner with old and new friends. You all made me feel like the life of the party and a true member of the filmmaking community. Thank you!
  • Nick Dibella, director of King’s Faith. He is officially one of my filmmaking heroes.
  • Thirty incoming students applied for Muse Creative Arts ministries at the activities fair on Tuesday! Check out the website for more info.
  • My coworker Brandon is a student nurse. He walked in on an unresponsive patient and notified the response team who saved the guy’s life. Dude.
  • I just printed the first physical copy of my modeling portfolio. Looks gooooood!
  • Stryker and I get to team up for a photo shoot!
  • The sunrise today that was pure pink and blue cotton candy 🙂

Equally Awkward and Awesome:
  • This powerful mock fashion photo shoot about consumerism. Got my attention! How oddly beautiful, but how very sad . . .

"All Creatures of Our God and King" (London, England)

Happy belated Travel Tuesday! I really just need to give in and make it Travel Wednesday . . .

Supposedly it’s terrible blogging/photography/modeling/everything etiquette to include photos of multiple “poses” of the same thing when presenting a variety of photos publicly. They tell you to never include photos of the same outfit in a portfolio, no matter how different they may be in terms of angle, lighting, pose, etc.

Well, I’ve never been good at etiquette :-/

These photos of delightful critters at the London Zoo and Saint James Park are all so magnificent I couldn’t possibly pick out just one photo of each beautiful beast! Part of why these pictures turned out so well is because they were taken with the childlike eye of my wonderfully creative husband Josh.

It’s Josh’s birthday today!

Happy birthday, sweetheart, and thank you for stopping time with me to capture the seemingly insignificant details of life’s moments. I love sharing a hobby with you! Speaking of which, we’re due for another photo shoot, don’t you think?

Josh has taught me so much about enjoying life. He seems like such an amazingly balanced person to an over-achiever and over-committer like myself. He loves photography (between the two of us we have almost 5,000 photos from the past six months), but he loves to put the camera down and take in the moment with just our memories as well. He is extremely intelligent, but he still finds wonder in every day discoveries.

For example, the above zebra-giraffe-mule mashup known as an okapi was quite familiar to a veteran player of Zoo Tycoon such as myself. I remembered them not only from their unique appearance, but also because they are an endangered species that required a great deal of research and funds to procure in the computer game, and if you wanted to breed them–whew, that research program would keep you from your homework for days.

All this to say, while it was amazing to see the creatures in real life, my excitement paled in comparison to that of Josh who had never seen such a thing. I still remember the look in his eyes as he turned to me with his mouth ajar and said with disbelief, “Noooo . . .”

As in, “These things really exist????”

He snapped picture after picture of the okapis and their neighbors (the giraffes and zebras, of course). Sadly, I was too busy stewing over the fact that the camera battery was about to run out to appreciate his enthusiasm at the time.

Thank you, sweetheart, for keeping the innocence and excitement in our relationship even when I try to take life too seriously.

P.S. There’s a freakin’ huge pelican below the jump! So read on!!!!

Title is from the hymn by St. Francis of Assisi.

Mist machines for the indoor rainforest animals

These meerkats had so much personality. It’s Timon!

The pics after the jump are for the birds! Teehee, I’m so clever 😉

This pelican that lives in St. James Park was as tall as Josh!!!

Not very exotic, but squirrels are so cute ❤

Reblog: 33 Ways to Stay Creative

This poster absolutely made my day after a night of dealing with a stomach bug and still needing to come into work this evening. I came across it on tumblr and have had no luck locating the original author, which breaks my heart a little bit. He or she deserves credit for something so inspirational!

It’s all so simple, yet so ingenious.

I couldn’t have stated so many of these tips better myself, and the list is perfectly inclusive. When I think of my favorite ways to “spring clean” my creative mind and exercise those imagination muscles, I come up with almost this list exactly! It seems to me that the author left nothing out!

Well, you know what I think of this list (I highly recommend making lists to foster creativity, by the way), but what do you think?

What do you do to stay creative?

Photo Shoot: Awoken Beauty Part 1

The premise of this lovely, ethereal, fairy-tale shoot that Rachel was kind enough to help me out with is a question that I found myself asking while walking through the woods on my grandparents’ property.

“What if there were no prince by her side when Sleeping Beauty woke up?”

What if, in the age-old fairy tale, hundreds of years passed without her Prince Charming riding in to rescue her kingdom from it’s enchanted sleep? What if the curse wore off after years of hopelessness, and Beauty awoke alone to a castle and kingdom collapsed and overgrown beyond recognition? Would she feel fear and desperation? Or maybe just disappointment–even anger?

This is an example of the artsy-fartsy mishmash that goes through my head when I’ve gone too long without creating something.

Anyway, I’m now happy to present to you the first half of what I believe was a very successful photo shoot entitled Awoken Beauty.

More imaginative photos after the jump!

 More photos from the Awoken Beauty series to come!

Live Well, Dress Well: Easy Trends to Try Right Now

Hi, all! 
It’s been a while since I took a minute to pull together a fashion post. These Polyvore sets are real time-suckers.  
These are some outfits that I included in my application for the College Fashion writing internship. I needed to comment on my favorite current fashion trends. Well, they were more current back in March when I submitted the application . . . 
Anyway, I have been a fan of College Fashion for about four years, and I really wanted to land this internship with them since my blogging style is often very similar to theirs. While I didn’t get the job I still wanted to share these trendy outfit ideas with you all!
I thought it would be fun if I based each outfit idea on an outfit that I’ve personally worn in a past fashion shoot. What do you think?

**NOTE** The focus was on both summer and fall fashions, so just ignore the chunky sweaters that I’m sure you won’t be sporting in this heat!

1.  Athletic-Inspired

Bright colors and simple athletic silhouettes mixed with surprising feminine details such as velvet, a wedge heel, or some bangles are what bring the sporty side of any style to life. Check out this post for more tips for looking like a champ without looking like you’re coming back from a pickup game at school.

2. Warm Hues
Even if this season’s so-hot brights are a bit much much for you, you can still embrace the fiery palettes lighting up the runways by choosing romantic color mediums like lace and chiffon to create an ensemble that is very easy on the eyes. 

3. Classic Silhouettes

Simplicity and sophistication are super-hot wardrobe staples now as always. Start with a sheath dress and then accentuate your mature shape with a well-fitting jacket for a look worthy of breakfast at Tiffany’s. You could pull off this timeless style at a job interview or dinner out.

4. Crop Tops

Anyone can show a little skin, but try to rock a crop that goes outside the box this summer. Look for unique cropped styles such as polo necklines or asymmetrical hems to bring a new level of trendiness to a relaxed outfit. Layering is also a great option for more conservative fashionistas like me.

5. Short Chic

From shorts to rompers, summer’s bottoms have a classy vintage pin-up vibe about them. Embrace it with well-tailored styles and nautical-inspired details like Breton tops and Sperry-style loafers. Don’t forget a beach-ready hat!

I hope you enjoyed these fashion trend ideas and can incorporate them into some of your looks this summer and fall.


What’s your favorite look that’s hot right now? Tell me in the comments!

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Seriously Unawesome

Awkward:
  • So here is my sad story from this past weekend: I went to the Franklin Graham crusade experience Rock the Lakes with my grandma last Sunday. It is a free evangelical worship concert with artists such as Newsboys, Flyleaf, and my personal hero since childhood, Michael W. Smith. On a whim, I eagerly texted the number advertising a contest to win a backstage meet and greet with the evening’s artists, but since I don’t have a smart phone, I couldn’t figure out how to access the direct message they apparently sent me telling me that I WON! I found out Monday morning once I logged onto my laptop that I could have met Michael W. Smith!!! I was kind of devastated for life. Now, that’s beyond awkward. It’s seriously unawesome.
  • Admitting that I have been watching The Bachelorette for the first time this season. Oh, the horror . . .
  • My whole always craving ice cream thing isn’t helped by it being 95 degrees outside.
  • My city has made national news for a shameless act of bullying. You know the crying bus monitor video? Yeah, that happened 10 minutes from where I live. Also unawesome.
  • The fact that you might have missed out on these great posts because I forgot to announce them on Twitter and Facebook!

Awesome:
  • Seeing Michael W. Smith (again) up close and personal–even if he was on a stage and not chilling next to me at a backstage meet and greet :’-(
  • Remember how I cry about everything? Well, with this knowledge I probably shouldn’t have looked at these 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity while at work.
  • Waffle cones. Now I know what the hubbub is about! 
  • An hour-long commute in 90-degree heat with no AC means an automatic blow dry each morning.
  • The Louisiana gospel band L’Angelus to whom I was introduced at Rock the Lakes. They are my new obsession! Can’t get enough of their sound. And I’ve never liked gospel music ever. Must be Rachel exposing me to all of that country.
  • The best Lobster Cob salad I could have imagined in my wildest dreams at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
  • A fabulous hiking and swimming day trip with Mom and Rach on Tuesday.
  • The two weeks spent without my honey will be rewarded with an amazing FIVE-DAY weekend together come July. Okay, so that’s pretty awesome.

"City Port Took My Blues Away" (Marseilles, France)

I spent today on a lovely excursion to Watkins Glen, New York with my mom and sister. Walking the piers and later enjoying the most perfect Lobster Cobb salad one could imagine, I was reminded of a certain fact about my feelings towards docks, fish, boats, and water in general:

I love waterside communities. I love marinas where boats of sea-goers from every walk of life moor at the edge of the big blue waiting to begin a journey. Even better are European port cities–pockets of the wide open sea tucked under the wing of a bustling urban environment. Such is the Vieux-Port (“old port” in French) of Marseilles, France.

The Watkins Glen piers along Seneca lake do remind me of a much smaller scale Vieux Port, in a way. The above picture could have been taken in a marina from either location for example, but the same could not be said for some of the photos that follow.

Marseilles backs up from Vieux Port to the second largest city in France after Paris. Walking down Rue Canebiere, it’s actually quite shocking how quickly this bustling broadway of art and culture cuts of completely and veers off in two gangly arms hugging a narrow boatyard hedged by cafes, cocktail lounges, tea rooms, hotels, and theaters.

As the stereotypical French high-life continues on either side of the port, directly in front of the wharf the culture quickly turns Mediterranean as fishmongers sell fresh wares every morning. And I mean fresh. They were literally hauling in loads of seafood while we stood there watching people barter at the fish market. The men and women who work the docks are dirty, gruff, and boisterous like characters out of a Dickens seaside epic.

This is not the glamorous lifestyle I associated with France before our trip, but it is a side of the country I am glad to have experienced. Who would have known that we are so similar in the Finger lakes region of New York state to the Marseillaises of France?

View of Notre Dame de la Garde from the Old Port

 
More pics of Marseilles’ Old Port and one freaking huge fish after the jump!

They hauled in a humongous swordfish right as we got there!

Just a lace parasol in a seaside shop

Napolean’s crazy brother demanded that this enormous castle be built over the port, and then he never lived there.

Are You Not Entertained?: Rock of Ages Not For Me

I love eighties music so much!

I discovered most of my favorite music from this decade on my own as a preteen, but when I met Josh whose entire childhood had been defined by his nostalgic music-buff parents, the two of us couldn’t help making cheesy eighties anthems the soundtrack of our courtship. The songs we would blare on Pennsylvania back roads with our windows down were energetic, full of emotion, and just plain sexy. It didn’t take long for us to associate some of our best memories as a couple with rocking out and singing along to Journey, Chicago, and other gods of the era.

I have to admit that being the good little Christian girl that I was, the emotional and often hormonal high that eighties rock gave me was a little unsettling at times. I was beyond excited at the way that being married dissolved that tension between Josh and I and enabled us to just have fun and really enjoy each other.

Hey, if we wanted to make out on a hillside to Bryan Adams at midnight, we could!

Sorry if that’s TMI, haha.

My point is, the 1980’s were one, giant, decade-long party. The music, movies, fashion, and pop culture icons all pointed to the rockstar lifestyle founded on three things: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Or sex, hateful music, and sex if you prefer to quote Rock of Ages‘ Catherine Zeta-Jones.

What, then, did I expect to find in going to see the eighties lovefest that is movie musical Rock of Ages? Well, I expected a dazzling trifecta of film, music, and theater, three of my all-time favorite things. I expected a good time like those that filled my high school days with Josh.

I expected the music I loved without the lifestyle that I knew went along with it.

PROS:

The music. This goes without saying. The vocals are good (although a bit uninspiring because of inevitable comparison to the originals), but what really take this film to the top are the ingenious mashups mentioned in the above featurette. Songs that I never would have thought to combine are layered together in a musical cocktail that always succeeds in creating powerful moments and telling a story.

Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough as starry-eyed pair of dreamers Drew and Sherrie are pure sugar. They are adorable and touching whether in the bar, at the beach, or rollerblading on the boardwalk. We can’t help but share their enthusiasm be it about rock and roll or about each other. Well cast and well played. These kids rock!

As the critics have already declared, Tom Cruise is king in this film. He absolutely killed this role. Not only is the character vastly different from anyone he’s ever portrayed before, but it requires an out-of-this-world amount of confidence and gutsy, ear-splitting rock-and-roll vocals. Cruise rises to the challenge, owning the character and really living in Stacee Jaxx for every second of the film–from the stage to the steamy hotel room.

CONS:

Too many subplots. Director Andrew Shankman took some creative liberties with the story line, and he’s honestly made it difficult to emotionally commit to one character’s (or even group of characters’) progression. Is the main conflict Drew and Sherrie’s struggle to gain the spotlight without losing love? Is it the Bourbon Room’s battle against the squelching conservatism of the mayor and his wife? Is it Stacee Jaxx’s internal fight with the lonesome and empty cowboy found inside his sexed-up rockstar exterior? I don’t know, and I don’t think they do either.

A climax to the film was also hard to pinpoint due to the fact that there were so many explosive musical numbers that seemed to “sum up” what had happened thus far in the plot.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The Bourbon Room is a temple to partying becoming “a sea of sweat, ear-shattering music, and puke” every night. Drunken sexual encounters and unpleasant bodily functions are laughed off, stripping and pole-dancing are idealized, and a mocking homosexual romance is injected into the plot.

And then there’s Stacee Jaxx. Stacee is always surrounded by a virtual harem of groupies who wander around with him in a perpetually drunken and drugged haze. His fiery interaction with Malin Akerman’s mild-mannered journalist character involves a strip down which the audience witnesses fully, kissing of rather intimate body parts, and a whole lot of licking. Now that is TMI.

CONCLUSION:

Rock of Ages is both a glorifying tribute and teasing parody of 1980’s American culture. That being said, a whole lot of filth accompanies what I had hoped would be good-natured fun centered around an incredible style of music.

I wish the movie had just been about Drew and Sherrie’s inspiring romance kindled by good times together and a pursuit of crazy dreams. But alas, Stacee Jaxx’s tortured character who has been shaped into a sex idol by the rock and roll industry shatters this innocence. Stacee even acknowledges to a magazine interviewer that being in the public eye keeps him from searching for true love, “the one thing that could save [him.]” Unfortunately, the “true love” he finds with this same magazine interviewer is illustrated by full-tongue french kissing and groping on a pool table to “I Wanna Know What Love Is.” 

Pretty sure that is not what love is.

I understand that the point is to show what the breakneck-paced rockstar life can lead to in contrast with the hometown wholesomeness of Drew and Sherrie. It is a film about being true to yourself, holding onto your dreams, and deciding what you really want. Unfortunately, Rock of Ages shows us a little to much of what we really don’t want. I think these points could have been made with less near-explicit sexuality and attention to drugs and alcohol. Definitely not a family movie. Probably could have used an R rating instead of the tenuous PG-13. All in all, a disappointment.

Just buy the soundtrack 😉

For Your Inspiration: Neil Gaiman Love

**READER ADVISORY** There is an instance of (censored) strong language some will find objectionable in the poem included in this post.
 
The purpose of this post is no doubt a bit unique.
 
I would first like to shed some light for the currently oblivious crowd of lit-lovers who have yet to make his acquaintance to the off-beat and infinitely charming Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is a poet, novelist, writer of short stories and non-fictional musings, lover, fighter, dreamer, and magic-maker–not to mention the fact that he is British and has one of the most delicious accents imaginable. His creative mind is wild and limitless but at the same time controlled, collected, and narrated in a level and soothing tone of voice that no one can quite duplicate.
 
I recently watched all of the YouTube videos recorded at the “Ninja Gig” of Amanda Palmer, Gaiman’s musician wife, at Good Records in Dallas this April. To my delight, Gaiman decided, as he often does, to humbly read a few of his favorite poems, one of which had recently been written about his beloved wife.
All of the poems were beautifully written and even more beautifully read. I cannot recommend enough The Day the Saucers Came.” Make sure you listen to Gaiman recite it rather than just reading it for yourself. It really makes all the difference. The thing that struck me the most, however, was that in my fandom I had never yet discovered the following poem dedicated to Amanda Palmer and that scouring Google didn’t turn up any text versions of this beautiful work. All I seemed to find were video recitations.
 
Well, for those who come behind me, I leave you this, the written version of Gaiman’s “For Amanda,” that you may pour over it’s beauty and sweetness over and over again. Keep in mind that poems written specifically for performance can vary from reading to reading and that many words in this particular piece may be different in other versions available online.
 
For Amanda, An Appreciation After Christopher Smart, Sort Of
by Neil Gaiman
 
For I shall enumerate my lady’s charms although they are numberless.
 
For firstly, she has a smile like a beam of sunlight breaking through a cloud in a medieval painting.
 
For secondly, she moves like cats and panthers, and also she can stand still.
 
For thirdly, she has eyes of a color that no two people can agree on which I remember when I close my eyes.
 
For fourthly, she laughs at my jokes, sings unconcerned on the sidewalk, and gives money to buskers as a religious act.
 
For fifthly, she f*cks like wild cats and thunderstorms.
 
For sixthly, her kisses are gentle.
 
For seventhly, I would follow her or walk behind her or in front of her wherever she wished to go, and being with her would ease my mind.
 
For eighthly, I dream of her and am comforted.
 
For ninthly, there is no one like her, not that I’ve ever met, and I’ve met so many people, no one at all.
 
For tenthly, she squeals when I say “wastepaper basket,” and also in the morning, eyebrowless and waking, she always looks so perfectly surprised.