Thursday, March 31, 2011

Literary Thursday: The Lucky One

Oh, happy day... I was able to finish reading another book this month!

For my second Literary Thursday review, I picked a book from an author that I absolutely love, Nicholas Sparks. I loved seeing the movie adaptations but never read any of the novels until last year. I have read eight of his novels so far: The Last Song, The Choice, The Notebook, The Wedding, Message in a Bottle, The Guardian, A Bend in the Road, and the one that I am about to review.

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

Before I started reading the book, I came across a tweet on Nicholas Sparks Twitter account that was discussing his latest novel to film adaptation, which turned out to be this novel. He was sharing character stills of Logan aka. Zac Efron. I immediately realized that I was going to do the same thing that I did with Miley Cyrus for The Last Song, picture the actor as I am reading the book... and that's exactly what I did.

Logan Thibault is a U.S. Marine that is on a quest to find a women in a photograph. He found the photo while on a tour of duty in Iraq and somehow it presented itself as a lucky charm, between winning poker games and surviving several combats (over three different tours). After a fishing trip with his best friend Victor, Logan and his dog Zeus decide to journey to North Carolina (from Colorado) by foot in search of this mystery women. He ends up finding Elizabeth, a divorced mother who lives with her son and grandmother. Logan takes a job at the dog kennel that Elizabeth's grandmother runs (which is on the same land as their home). While Logan and Elizabeth develop feelings for one another (then fall in love), someone is trying to break them apart... Elizabeth's ex-husband, Clayton. Logan tries to keep the secret of the photograph from everyone, which eventually threatens to tear them apart.

As with all of the novels I read by Nicholas Sparks, the book proves how well he can write a great love story with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing (and sometimes you won't be able to predict what will happen next). The story of Logan and Elizabeth was predictable, but the other people involved in their lives made things complicated for the two of them, especially Clayton and his schemes that were always under the radar (until Logan came around). You could just feel the hatrid festering in Clayton's head, then escalating as the book went forward.

I really liked Ben, Elizabeth's son. He was a sweet kid that preferred other activities (like reading and playing chess) over sports. The way Ben was described, at times, reminded me of my own son. Somehow I imagined Ben looking like an older version of my kid. Elizabeth's grandmother, Nana, was another character I liked. She was stubborn in the fact that nothing would stop her from working at the kennel, even after suffering a stroke. She also had some of the most oddball advice lines, but they made her character unique and very likable.

There is a scene in particular that I enjoyed a lot... when Logan and Elizabeth go on their first date (not really a spoiler alert). Elizabeth decides on the place, which was called Shagging for Crabs. It's a unique restaurant, frequented by locals, where there are only two things on the menu: crab and beer. You dine at picnic tables and eat from buckets of crab (with your hands). While dining, there were certain lines that had to be expressed so the servers knew if you wanted more crab or not. This reminded Logan of being a virgin to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where your first time is to learn the lines the regulars were shouting (yes, I totally geeked out when I read that part... RHPS love). I have to remember to dine in a place like this if I ever travel to North Carolina.

I've never had problem connecting with the characters from any of Nicholas Sparks novels. For some reason, I couldn't quite get there with Logan. Maybe it was because of his periods of silence, like when he was thinking about Victor or going over Clayton's antics in his head. It kind of bugged me that I couldn't get that connection. I know some of my friends who are in the military (or have spouses serving) enjoy this one because of Logan's story lines while serving as a marine. I like that Nicholas Sparks did another with military connections after writing Dear John. This novel wasn't my favorite, but I still enjoyed it a lot. Rating 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

BC #30 Picture of Yourself Today and 5 Good Things That Have Happened to You Since You Started This Challenge

Okay, I know it says a pic of myself today, but the pic below was taken at the end of January. I took it with my cell phone and I really liked how it turned out (I have personal issues with a lot of pics of me, just because pics tend to be more unflattering). So there! This is my "today" pic :-)

All right, 5 good things that happened to me since starting the blog challenge....

1. I got my foot in the door toward landing my dream job by becoming a freelance writer/blogger for The Pitch. As of today, I have 4 articles published on Wayward Blog (the music section).

2. I have added a significant amount of movies to my movie collection, through a couple of Blockbuster Videos that are closing/ closed. By significant, I mean at least 40 movies.

3. I went to the Midland theater to see a pre-screening of Kevin Smith's film, Red State. It was followed by a Q&A session, which included an hour long "interview" with two members of the Phelps family (ones that "got out"). Just being there was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

4. I attended my very first convention, Planet Comicon. As soon as I walked in the door, I felt like I belonged there. My son dressed as Darth Vader, I walked around with good friends I know through Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I got to meet Michael McMillian, a KC native that was on a couple of my favorite shows (True Blood, Big Love). I am already planning to go to another convention Memorial Day weekend :-)

5. Between a settlement check from the Department of Treasury, my state and federal tax refunds, working several days at the daycare, and March Madness (bringing more people to the bar), I've had a financially beneficial month.

This concludes the 30 day blog challenge. I liked how this one allowed me to add pictures and use devices to get these blogs completed. That, and I had been lacking in some personal blogs lately. I'm glad I waited a few months to do this challenge, since it gave me time to give myself a new life to my blog with my weekly themed posts. I hope my readers enjoyed taking another glimpse into my personal life, and will try to incorporate more of it in future blogs.

*Exits stage left*

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BC #29- Three Wishes

"Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars? I could really use a wish right now, wish right now, wish right now.."

Last August, I spent several hours watching the Perseid meteor shower while lying out on my back deck. I enjoyed seeing over a dozen shooting stars that night. One of them was extremely bright and absolutely gorgeous. While I was counting the ones I saw, I ended up making some wishes. Call me naive, but when I make "silly little wishes" and they become true, I feel like I can have a some faith in it. And yes, a wish I made did come true.

Now, I don't have a shooting star (or three), but I will make some wishes right now.

1. I wish to have consistent motivation to exercise and eat healthier. I have a few things, health-wise, riding against me (through genetics): borderline diabetes, gall bladder stones (leading to removal of the organ), and clogging of arteries. All of these things can be prevented with eating right and exercising. Eating healthier is the lesser of the two problems, since that's not hard for me to do. The motivation to exercise is very inconsistent for me. I will exercise for a few days to a few weeks, then suddenly stop. I want my mind to push through that rut and make it part of my daily/weekly routine. I have plenty of resources at home to get me there (and for free, mind you). I just need that extra push.

2. I wish for my son to not turn out to be like his father, when it comes to responsibility and behavior. My ex had issues with anybody that tried to take authority over him (coworkers and bosses, family, and friends), which led to isolation from all of those people (and loss of several jobs in the time he and I were together). He spent the last year we were married unemployed and sleeping with several women. My ex also had a violent temper. Whenever my son gets mad, the face he makes resembles his father so much that it make my heart stop for a second. If those three things never happen to my kid, I will feel like I don't have to worry about anything he does in life (aside from what random curve balls get thrown at you.. hey, I am a realist after all). I know, as his mother, I am doing something right since I get told many times how well behaved he is and how well he is doing in school and church.

3. I wish gas prices would go down. The last time I filled up my truck (which has a 30 gallon tank), it cost me a little over $96. That amount is sometimes half of my paycheck from the bar (thank goodness for March Madness.. it has picked up business and customers have stayed longer to watch the games). It would be nice to pay a little over a dollar a gallon (which was what I was paying when I was driving my first car in 2001), but I know that's wishful thinking. Reducing the prices down a dollar from where it is now would significantly help. I applaud my friends that travel to/from the Lawrence/Topeka area for work... and I'm afraid to ask what you pay for fuel each week.

Let's see if this wishes come true... I know I'm not the only one who will benefit from the third one :-)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, and More!

Spring has arrived... well by the date and not necessarily by the weather. What does this mean for music? A lot of new albums and singles for our listening pleasure. There are several bands and artists I love that will be releasing new albums in the next couple months. While I anxiously await the release dates, I will be occupied with some of my recent music finds from the past couple weeks.

Michael Jackson "Hollywood Tonight"

Up until now, Michael Jackson's music, post mortal life, have not blown my mind, as the record company promoted. What I really like about this song is that has a little bit of that same sound from his albums from the early 90's. The song is catchy and danceable. The video tells a great story and has some awesome Michael inspired choreography.

Jennifer Hudson "Where You At"

Jennifer Hudson has always had a beautiful voice. I'm happy to hear new music from her. This song is powerful an showcases the voice I fell in love with when watching her on American Idol. Oh, and she looks great even though I didn't mind seeing her chunkier side. :-)

3 Doors Down "When You're Young"

When I first heard this song, I second guessed myself. It sounded just like one of their former songs, "When I'm Gone." Other than that, it's a really good song. It will definitely get radio play. I like how the video is in black and white... it makes the message of the song and the story more effective.

Rise Against "Help is On the Way"

Rise Against is one of my newest discoveries in rock music. I really like how the band used the events of Hurricane Katrina to express a touching video of a family trying to get away from the flooding. They wanted to send a message to their fans and it got my attention. I just found out that Rise Against is coming to Kansas City in the next couple months. I might have to consider going to the show.

Foo Fighters "Rope"

Hello, David Grohl and company... nice to see you guys again! I love how they can take new music and make it sound as familiar as their previous songs, like "Everlong" and "Hero." The last part of the video reminds me of the Goo Goo Dolls video for "Notbroken," with the black silhouette and colored backgrounds.

Black Eyed Peas "Just Can't Get Enough"

Once the Black Eyed Peas did they extremely horrible performance at the Super Bowl, I have lost some respect for them. I didn't think they were the best group; I just liked some of their songs. But, they have always cared for others in need... like how this video is dedicated to those in Japan after all they've suffered because of the earthquakes and tsunamis. This song isn't that bad in the terms that it's not as annoying as some of their songs. I like that it's low key, but don't expect to see me just *NEEDING* this song on my ITunes library.

I hope you guys enjoy the rest of March and wish for the last of the snow forecasts to go away!!!

BC #28- Something That Stresses You Out

I don't mean to brag, but I haven't really had any stress in life for a few years now. I've had moments, but there is nothing in my life that continually stresses me out.

To be fair, a few days ago I had a collaboration of things happen that caused some stress to me....

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

I was woken up around 1:30 in the morning by my son. He had vomited the night before, when I was at work (my boss let me leave a little early so I could get home to take care of him). He needed to go to the bathroom and afterwards came into my room to sleep next to me. He drank some water and went back to sleep. Over the next few hours, he got sick a few more times.

We finally woke up for the day between 10:30 and 11am. I was tired and he was tired. We spent the remainder of the morning and most of the afternoon laying/sitting in my bed while watching tv and movies (and, for me, browsing the internet and doing a little blogging). I had planned for us to go to an event in the Crossroads District (downtown Kansas City) that day, so that was a little bit of a bummer.

He was finally able to hold down food and drink by mid-afternoon (yay!). I had been communicating with my Mom about kiddo's health and she said that her and Dad would be able to make it home for me to go to work (and be a little late). I had arranged for him to go to my aunt's, but that was going to save a trip and keep him at home to continue to feel better.

A little after 5:30 that night (the time that I normally go into work), I called my Mom to see how close she was to home. She was in Archie, MO. Ugh! That's at least 40 minutes away. So I impatiently wait for my parents to get home. When they pulled in just before 6:30, I rushed out the door to get work.

Work called me when I was driving. My boss knew I would be late, but I had forgotten to let the bartenders know I wouldn't be on time. Damn me for my miscommunication!!! As soon as I walk into work, I clock in and apologized to Robyn (bartender/manager of the night). She was grateful to see me and we had a pleasant conversation. I was then informed I was going to train the hostess with being an EXPO (my job aka. food runner).

Coming in an hour late, in the middle of a rush, didn't help with my stress levels. I felt off my game when working and trying to train in that time was adding to my momentary stress. The rush didn't last long, which turned into a slow night. So my coworkers and I bullshit and hope we might get busy again. It never happened. So some of us were already off the clock by 8:30 (including myself). Yep, that's two things that worked against my paycheck (oh well).

I try to make the best out of the rest of my night by enjoying dinner at the bar. I ordered a chicken tender bowl, which was absolutely delicious. Then I noticed there was a pre-season baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. As a Red Sox fan, I was enjoying the 8-1 lead against the Twins. That is, until the 9th inning. The Twins ended up winning 9-8. I just shook my head in disbelief.

I went home afterwards, got my kiddo to bed and started to get ready for Planet Comicon, which was something my son and I were going to to the next day. I went to bed on a happier, non stressful mood.

Now, I'm not someone to get easily stressed, but this was just one of those days. I recovered from it quickly. Being an eternal optimist does have its benefits :-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

BC #27- Original Photo of the City You Live In

Yeah... I'm bad.

I don't have an original photo of Lee's Summit, MO. You would think I would have SOMETHING after moving here back in 1996. I know this blog was coming and I had time to take a a few pics, but procrastination (then a suddenly busy two weeks) defeated me. So, I went the Google route...

This is a picture of downtown Lee's Summit. The building with the yellow awning on the far left used to be a restaurant called Strother's. It was one of the first places that my family and I made as a hangout spot. It had amazing food (especially the potato skins) and we always ran into people that we knew. Fun fact: Strother was one of the names considered for the town.

This is the train station. I have actually boarded onto an Amtrak at this station (and come home) a couple times. The sitting area with the fountain is a great place to sit (and one of my friends and I took random photos of each other in this area in high school). I love the small town feel to this part of downtown. At Christmastime, downtown Lees Summit makes a big event when lighting the area (much like how the Country Club Plaza does theirs). I always appreciate the beauty of downtown whenever I drive (or walk) through the area.

I found a couple historical pics of Lee's Summit. This mansion is the former home of Todd George, who was one of the former mayors of Lee's Summit. I used to live down the street from this house (located just east of downtown) in another historical home. A former landlord of mine used to own this house, which had been converted into several apartments. Today, it is registered as part of the city's historical society and is home to a local business.

Now, to my part of town... Longview!

Robert Long had built this mansion for his family, along with a barn for show horses, and acres of farm land (for crops and animals). Many wonderful events are held in the mansion, including weddings, murder mysteries, and several events for the neighborhoods surrounding the mansion. The former show barn has been converted into an elementary school, which you can tour to see some of the historical restorations. This, to me, is the most beautiful area of Lee's Summit and I am happy to live in this part of town, especially because I am a lover of history and beautiful architecture.

So I have shared some snippets about the town that in which I am a resident. One day I will decide to take my camera, drive around town, and make an album of the town that I am proud to call my home. :-)

Movie Monday: A Long Distance Relationship, Assisted Deaths, Summer Romance, and International Traveling

First off, I would like to apologize for not having a Movie Monday blog last week. I had worked two jobs the week before and movie watching took a backseat. I'm not complaining though, since I made a good amount of money (in which some of that ended up going toward some movie purchases, hehe) and helped out two of my girlfriends.

Without any further delay, lets check out the movies I watched last week.

Going the Distance

Erin (Drew Barrymore) is a summer intern for a newspaper and Garrett (Justin Long) works for a record company in New York City. They meet at a bar and instantly click. Six weeks later, Erin has to go back to San Francisco. They decide to continue their relationship, despite the distance between them. Over the next year or so, they try to see each other as often as they can (with a surprise visit or two) while researching job transfers to the other side of the country. As their attempts at living in the same town seem to continually fail, they continue to hope that someday they will have a future together.

I am not a fan of long distance relationships.. it just never seems to work out (I am not talking about those separated by military tours). However, I do like the realistic approach this movie takes when it comes to making things work. I loved Erin and Garrett's chemistry, especially when they first met and bonded over video games and useless trivia. The comedic timing of all the actors (including Christina Applegate and Jason Sudekis) were awesome! It wasn't the best chick flick I've seen, but it was very enjoyable. Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

You Don't Know Jack: The Life and Deaths of Jack Kevorkian

In the 1990's, Dr. Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino) comes up with an idea to help out people who are terminally ill and have given up on life. He, along with his sister Margo (Brenda Vaccaro), Neal Nicol (John Goodman), and others, provide physician assisted suicides to those seeking out the end to their pain and suffering. That is, until the D.A., the governor of Michigan, and the legislature step in. Dr. Kevorkian finds himself in the middle of a murder trial, in which he argues that his patients wished to end their lives and that he has done nothing wrong.

I haven't really done my research on the controversial practices of Dr. Kevorkian, but I did enjoy watching this movie as I learned. Some of the patients stories made me understand why they made the decision to end their life, since I know that suffering a painful disease is on my list of "things I don't want to experience." When one of his friends asked to assist in her death, my heart tugged a little when I saw how he reacted during the process. This was one of the movies where I didn't notice Al Pacino; all I saw was Dr. Kevorkian... which is a very good thing. Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Last Song

Ronnie (Miley Cyrus), a rebellious teen from New York City, is sent to North Carolina with her brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman) to spend the summer with their father (Greg Kinnear). Ronnie meets Will (Liam Hemsworth) in an unpleasant way and wants nothing to do with him, but he is interested in breaking her rebellious attitude. They bond over rescuing sea turtles and end up starting a summer romance with each other. Despite a few people against the idea of them as a couple they continue to see each other. Then Ronnie's dad ends up in the hospital, revealing a secret that turns her world upside down.

I read the book at the end of 2009 knowing that the movie was already filming. Nicholas Sparks wrote this novel with Miley Cyrus in mind for Ronnie. I thought she did very well. I was disappointed that a few things were omitted from the film (some key plot moments in relation to Blaze and (especially) Marcus, as well as the real reason why Ronnie's parents divorced). I also didn't picture Greg Kinnear as the father, but I grew to like him in the role as I watched the film. I recommend that my friends read this book to get a fuller story. Rating 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Eat Pray Love

Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) has reached a crossroads in her life. After realizing she has never given herself the opportunity to do any self-discovery, she decides to put all of her belongings in storage and go overseas for one year. First she goes to Italy to discover the beauty of absolutely delicious food. In India, she learns the power of prayer and meditation. Finally, in Bali, she find her inner peace.. and love.

Yes, this is a chick flick, but it's different. How? Well, for the majority of the movie, Elizabeth is working on her, not a relationship. It's a breath of fresh air. I loved that she stepped out of her comfort zone and did what she wanted to do. It made the travel lover in me want to do the same thing Elizabeth did (but with a couple different destinations). I need to read the book that this movie was based on, and maybe someday, I will find myself on the other side of the world with a small agenda and endless possibilities! Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, March 27, 2011

BC #26- Your Dream Wedding

I'm not going to lie. This blog is one of the most difficult I've had to write for this challenge. Why? Well, I haven't really given much thought to my dream wedding. A lot of it has to do with the fact that your wedding day is not meant to be the most important day of your life. If I were to believe that, then I would have nothing else to look forward to in the future.

When my ex-husband and I got married, we spent a total of $46. That was for a marriage license and paperwork to change my last name. That's it. We went to the Independence courthouse on a Saturday morning and were married by a Justice of the Peace. I was wearing a pink long sleeved t-shirt and black pants. We had no family or friends there. Yeah... I'm not doing that again. When I find myself in love and about to get married, I want it special, but low key and inexpensive.

I know I would love to have a fall wedding. Something like late September or October... when the summer heat starts to disappear and the cool, crisp weather takes over. I've always liked the colors of fall, so to have red, orange, yellow, and brown leaves surrounding the wedding and reception would be absolutely gorgeous!

I would like to have an indoor wedding. I would want to step away from a church and have it elsewhere, like Union Station in Kansas City or Longview Mansion. I love the idea of getting married in a place that is rich in history. If the facility can double as a reception, then awesome. Not having to travel across town from wedding to reception would make things easier for everyone. If I had the opportunity to get married on a beach, I wouldn't say no :-)

The dress will be on the simpler side. I do not like a lot of lace or bead work. I want the bottom of the dress to be on the poofier side, much like my junior prom dress (one of the few times in my life where I felt as beautiful as a princess). I am not fond of a pure white dress, so I would have to go with off white or champagne. I like the idea of an accent color, like red, blue or purple. If I can find a dress with minimal accent color, then I might have to get it.

My favorite flowers are roses. I like that there are a variety of colors, but for a wedding I have to go with crimson and white ones. Add baby's breath and other green foliage and I will be happy. Oh, and a ribbon to match the color scheme of the wedding.

At the reception, I want there to be a mix of some of the more common food choices for wedding meals (like salad, fruits, and vegetables) but I also would like to share some favorite foods of my future spouse and myself. For me, I would like to enjoy some fettuchini alfredo or salmon. I would also want chocolate covered strawberries (milk, dark, and white chocolate).

The wedding cake would have to match the floral arrangements and/or wedding colors. Since I like roses, I would want the exterior of the cake to be covered in white icing/fondant and be accented with edible rose pieces (see pic below for example). I want to have a four layer cake. The bottom layer would be chocolate. The second tier would be white. The third tier would be red velvet. The top layer... something special that my future spouse and I would pick (since that is what would be shared on our first year anniversary... yes, I would follow tradition). I would make an attempt to sample each layer of the cake on my wedding day... I have a sweet tooth, after all!

After enjoying food and cake... party time!!! I want to be able to have a great time dancing with friends and family. For those who missed my music video blog challenge, there was a blog about a song to play at my wedding. Well, I picked a song to pay homage to my love for The Rocky Horror Picture Show... The Time Warp. I want to do the pelvic thrust in a wedding dress!!! There are other songs I want to hear, but that one is a must play!

Well, that's pretty much what I wanted to cover about my dream wedding. I am nowhere near making this dream a reality, but thinking about it does get me a little excited. :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

BC #25- Put Your IPod on Shuffle, List the First 10 Songs

*Grabs IPod.... puts songs on shuffle*

Yes, this is the IPod that I have.... a little older model, but works great!!! It would be nice to have a newer once, since this one can only hold approximately 1,000 songs. Right now, it has a little over 500 songs (When I added all my music to my new laptop, I guess I didn't anticipate that song files would be bigger than a couple years ago. I was kinda disappointed with that). So lets see what songs will randomly pop out when I hit shuffle!!!

Here We Go!!!

1. "London Bridge" Fergie
2. "Teenage Dream" Katy Perry
3. "Crawling" Linkin Park
4. "Language of Love" Cee Lo Green
5. "My First Kiss" 3OH!3 feat. Ke$ha
6. "We Both Reached for the Gun" Richard Gere, Rene Zellweger, Christine Baranski & cast (Chicago Soundtrack)
7. "Hot Mess" Cobra Starship
8. "Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking her Clothes Off" Panic! at the Disco
9. "Your Song" Elton John
10. "Give It Away" Red Hot Chili Peppers

Okay.... I like how this pattern is going, so I'm going to do 10 more!!!

11. "Summer Breeze" Seals & Crofts
12. "Dirty Diana" Michael Jackson
13. "OMG" Usher feat. Will.I.Am
14. "I Stand Alone" Godsmack
15. "Just the Way You Are" Bruno Mars
16. "Spiderwebs" No Doubt
17. "Your Love is My Drug" Ke$ha
18. "That's Not My Name" The Ting Tings
19. "No One" Alicia Keys
20. "Block Rockin' Beats" The Chemical Brothers

All right, 10 more. Then I'm done. I promise!!!

21. "Battlefield" Jordin Sparks
22. "Billie Jean" David Cook
23. "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" Backstreet Boys
24. "Music" Madonna
25. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" Phil Collins
26. "Maybe" Sick Puppies
27. "Dreams Along the Water" The Leo Project
28. "Let's Go" Trick Daddy feat. Lil Jon
29. "Higher" Creed
30. "I Wanna Love You" Akon feat. Snoop Dogg

Did I ever mention that I LOOOOOOOOVE having my IPod on shuffle??? Even though I put all the songs on it, I still get that giddy surprised feeling when certain songs show up at random. This list of songs doesn't even BEGIN to showcase the variety of music that I listen to, but it's a decent amount of representation! I am a little suprised that three artists (Lady Gaga, RHCP, and David Cook) had two songs on this list. Funny how that happens sometimes, LOL. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed my list of random songs today!

Friday, March 25, 2011

BC #24- Something You've Learned

Three years ago, I was in the middle of getting a divorce. That time was a little difficult for me, even though I made the decision to get out of the abusive marriage. I told myself to not get involved with anyone new until the divorce was finalized. It was actually very easy to do, since I had no interest in dating. I wanted to focus on my own self discovery and to take care of my son.

Having all of that time for self discovery was something I needed to do. If I were to date a guy in that time, it would not have been fair to him because I was not emotionally ready. I heard something from one of my favorite tv shows that to get over someone, it takes about half the time of the duration of the relationship. So that would have been a little over two years for me. Now I know that theory doesn't work on everyone, but to have a good amount of time to focus on you does wonders.

I have seen several friends and coworkers go through the same thing as me. However, most of them started dating new people just weeks after a separation. Of these people, none of them were already involved prior to separation. Seeing that made me realize that I took a different route than the others. It seemed that those individuals were wanting to fill this immediate hole that was created upon separation. I get that... I really do. I just wish that they would have taken my example and focused on themselves.

It wasn't until last summer that I found myself sitting in a car where, after hours of enjoyable conversation, the guy I was with leaned in and took my breathe away with a kiss. That night helped me realize that I was ready to start dating again and, given time, be in a relationship.

So what exactly was it that I learned? It's easy. When you find yourself at the end of a relationship or marriage, you need time to heal and rediscover yourself. I don't take it as a recommendation... it's a MUST DO!!! You will regret it if you don't.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

BC #23- Your Favorite Movie

Los Angeles. Heroin overdose. "In the fifth, your ass goes down." Big Kahuna Burger. The Wolf. Chopper. Jack Rabbit Slims. Bad Mother Fucker Wallet. The Bonnie Situation. Royale With Cheese. The Music. Honey Bunny. Ezekiel 25:17.

Have you figured it out yet???

#1- Pulp Fiction

I remember having a conversation with my mom one day about Pulp Fiction. She said that I would really like it but also warned me about something... that I would catch myself laughing at inappropriate things. So on one spring evening in 2003, I turned on my surround sound, plopped onto my bed, and started the movie. By the time opening scene ended, I knew I was in for a very enjoyable experience.

A group of individuals with connections to Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) intertwine with one another in four separate stories. Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta), who are hit men for Marsellus, are on assignment to retrieve a briefcase for their boss. After an unexpected incident, they have to rely on The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) to solve the problem. Then Vincent has to take Marrsellus' wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), on a "date" while he is out of town, which was successful until Mia discovers a little baggie inside Vincent's coat pocket. Later, a boxer named Butch (Bruce Willis) makes an arrangement with Marsellus but goes against it. He finds himself attempting to escape the Los Angeles area before he might be killed. 

I could go on and on about this movie, but I wont. Instead, I will list my five favorite scenes.

5. The Bonnie Situation: When Marvin got shot, I couldn't stop myself from laughing. Yes, that disturbed me but it was funny on how Vincent accidentally killed the guy. So Jules and Vincent have to employ The Wolf to solve their problem. The Wolf gets in, delegates, and gets out in under an hour. Now that's someone who should be programmed in your cell phone!

4. Pumpkin and Honey Bunny strategizing the robbery: Ah, the very first scene of the movie. The way that Pumpkin convinces his girlfriend to rob the restaurant just pumped up their adrenaline, and you could sense that. When they actually stand up and do it, I remember exclaiming something like "Oh shit!" before the opening credits began. Now that's a way to start a movie!

3. Mia's drug overdose: Mistaking heroin for cocaine... wow. When Vincent discovers Mia, he flees to his dealer's house to resuscitate her. Seeing the needle plunge into Mia's chest (filled with adrenaline) made me cringe and happy that it worked out.

2. Jules and Vincent inside Brad's apartment: Between the discussion about Big Kahuna Burger and Ezekiel 25:17, what's not to enjoy about this scene???

1. Mia and Vincent's date at Jack Rabbit Slims: When they walked into the restaurant, I was in awe. I wanted to go eat there myself (until I found out that it was a fictional place... dammit). I loved how authentic the restaurant felt, especially with how the employees were dressed and the themed menu. I really wanted to know what a $5 shake tasted like. Mia and Vincent had awesome conversation before they went to dance. Oh, and they both danced very well (obviously since they won a trophy).

So who wants to come over with some Royales with Cheese and watch this with me? Hehe...

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

BC #22- What's in Your Purse/Wallet?

What's in my purse... wow, how this reminds me of a scene from The Breakfast Club. Anyways, lets see what I, Casey, keep in my purse on a day to day basis!

Yes, this purse was given to me by my Mom on my last birthday. I've basically been using it since then. For anyone that knows me, I don't carry big purses. Too much crap to carry. My current purse is basically the biggest size that I'll carry around. It has three compartments. One is a zip up side that is for carrying ID, cards, and cash. The other side is a button clasp for little things. Then there is the central part of the purse with a hidden zip up portion for little things.

Zip up side:
-My driver's license
-Debit card
-Weight Watchers Quick Reference Points Guide (always been in every purse since 2003)
-Store reward cards (Borders, Torrid, Bath and Body Works, Maurice's, Toys R Us)
-Random change

Button Clasp side:
-Hand Sanitizer (Bath and Body Works-coconut lime verbana)
-Feminine Products

Central Portion:
-Checkbook (The Peanuts gang are on the cover, hehe)
-Mini Calender
-Travel size bottle of lotion (sun ripened raspberry)
-Cell phone (when not using it)

Hidden Zip Up Area:
-Lip Balm (sparkling melon flavored)
-Band aids
-Condoms (What? I'm single and like to be prepared!)
-Food Handlers Permit
-Couple photos of my kiddo
-List of VHS movies I used to own that I need to buy on DVD

And that is what's in my purse. :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BC #21- Favorite Pic Of Yourself of All Time, and Why

For today's blog challenge, I decided to focus on my favorite pic of myself when I was little:

This pic was taken in July 1986. I was 2 1/2 years old. I was all dressed for going with my parents to attend a trampoline and tumbling meet. I'm sitting in the magenta Toyota van (which was fairly new to us then, and was traded in for my new car when I was 17). And wow.... that car seats screams the 80's. Nobody would be able to find a car seat made with metal bars nowadays.

What I like about this picture is how cute I looked, with my baby cheeks, my hair in a teeny ponytail, and how cute I looked in my athletic outfit. A few years ago, I loved this picture even more. I was just browsing all my pictures and realized how much my son looked like me. It's funny (in a good way) how genetics worked out that way.

Monday, March 21, 2011

BC #20- My Nicknames

Case- This nickname, which is actually a shorter version of my first name, is the one that I'm called the most. My closest friends use this one pretty often. If I am dating somebody and they start calling me Case, I take that as a sign that they really like me and that they are becoming emotionally attached.

Sunshine- I was given this nickname in the eighth grade by my friends Theresa and Ashley. We were hanging out one day at school and they both noted that I was always cheery and happy. They said they've been referring to me as Sunshine for a while. I immediately adopted the nickname. I have a picture frame next to my bed with the word sunshine on it, which was given to me by my Mom. I also put my nickname on a girl's jersey senior year, which I still own (and probably won't ever get rid of it).

Swaffy- This nickname is a shortened version of my maiden name. It was given to me Labor Day weekend 2003 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My sister and I went with our parents to a trampoline meet that weekend and were hanging out with the Michigan athletes around the city. They had been calling our mom Swaffy for a couple years, so when my sister and I were part of the social circle, we were also given the same nickname.

Movie Geek- I gave myself this nickname, and several others have adopted it when referring to me. I think it's pretty self explanatory. I'm a movie geek.... as in watching movies all the time, know tons of useless trivia about movies and actors, and keep myself updated on the latest movie news. Oh, and I'm damned proud to be one!!!

Jordan- This was a short lived nickname. My friends Adrienne, Meghan and I were somewhat into the Hanson thing in the 8th grade and we all gave ourselves nicknames for the boys in the group. I was Jordan, which is Taylor Hanson's actual first name. I remember getting a Valentine from Adrienne that year that was addressed to Jordan. She also wrote that nickname in my yearbook at the end of the school year.

Baby/Babe- This is a term of endearment that many of my past significant others have called me. I've had several nicknames from exes, but this is the one that I liked the most :-)

Mom/Mommy/Truman's Mom- Okay, this really isn't a nickname since I am, in fact, a mother. In the instances that I am called Truman's Mom, it's for people that know Truman before they know me... like the kids in his classroom when I chaperoned his field trip back in November, or when I was first working at my job (half the servers knew Truman because we dined there a lot, and eventually my coworkers knew my first name).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

BC #19- Something You Miss

2012 is going to be a fun year. No, I'm not talking about the end of the world (seriously people... not going to happen). 2012 is my 10 year high school reunion. I decided to volunteer as one of the planners of the reunion and have been trying to research venues and such to hold the event. As excited as I am to plan the event, I will be more happy to see friends and acquaintances that I don't normally see on a normal basis.

High school was awesome in the instance where all of your friends were around. You had classes with them, ate lunch together, and did things outside of school. It was easy to get together since we all lived in the same town. Come senior year, many of us were applying to different colleges and universities. That was when things started to hit me... the days of everyone living around each other were coming to an end.

I've read the statistics where most people, no matter where life takes them, usually end up living within 50 miles from where they grew up. There is some validity to that, even with my classmates and myself. Social networking has made me realize how my graduating class has spread out across the country (and a few on the other side of the globe).

So what is it that I miss? Having all of my friends from junior high and high school together in the same town. I know that everyone won't be able to make it to the reunion next year, but having that opportunity to bring a lot of us together will be a night to remember :-)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

BC #18- Favorite Place to Eat

I am someone who likes variety, ESPECIALLY when it comes to food. So for me to have a favorite place to eat is just not possible. So I am going to list my favorites in a variety of categories, while I try to resist my cravings for all of these places, lol

Favorite Mexican Place: Habanero's (Lees Summit, MO)

I've celebrated birthdays here, gone to dinner before a school dance, and frequented here when I would take my hour lunch breaks when working at Home Depot. I'm a huge fan of taco salads and to me, they have the best in the entire KC area!! Their salsa is excellent (just the perfect blend of spices and just hot enough to enjoy). Awesome fajitas, tacos, quesadillas, and amazing fried ice cream!!!

Favorite Pizza: Papa Murphy's

If you want fresh fresh FRESH pizza... come here! They make the dough from scratch, which is super yummy! I've had both the regular crust and the deLITE (low calorie) and they compliment the fresh ingredients (especially tomatoes) very well! My favorite is the Chicken and Bacon stuffed pizza... which is not only absolutely delicious but it takes me days to eat because it is so huge (like 4 inches thick!!!). They also have great salads and take home cookie dough. Oh, and they accept food stamps since they don't cook the food for you. That was a perk when I was using food stamps years ago.

Favorite Chinese Restaurant/Buffet: China Dragon J (Lees Summit, MO)

I never really ate Chinese food until my family moved to Lee's Summit, but this place is about 5 minutes away from my home. It's a small buffet, but they keep everything freshly made. When dining in, I make sure to get a lot of sweet and sour sauce (they have the best out of all the Chinese restaurants I have ever eaten). My favorite dishes are sweet and sour chicken, sesame chicken, general tso's chicken, egg rolls, and lots of crab rangoon. A lot of my high school friends and I can't get enough of this place and we all post on Facebook whenever someone is eating there. I go there often enough to notice when they change something, like adding a new wall hanging, LOL.

Favorite Fast Food Place: White Castle

Oh, so many childhood memories of sitting at the Grandview White Castle with my Mom and sister while we watched the trains go by and the cars driving down 71 highway. It was a sad time indeed when all the Kansas City locations closed (and yet, all the buildings still exist but have been renovated for other businesses). Since then, trips to St. Louis MUST include a stop (or three) at slider heaven. I've got a group on Facebook to bring the chain back to the KC area and it has over 1,100 members. I have been in contact with the chain and they have replied that to start a new market area would be another few years. I do think it will come back, since one opened in Columbia, MO in late-October. Here's hoping for some amazing sliders, chicken rings, fries and shakes back in Kansas City soon!!!

Favorite Grill and Bar: Westside Grill and Bar (Lees Summit, MO)

I may be a little biased on this because I am employed by them. In all seriousness though, we've got some pretty damned good food. Our menu is HUGE, from appetizers to continental to mexican. The steaks melt like butter in your mouth (and I've had several of them to stand behind this fact). The jalapeno cheese balls are so addictive that I sometimes order them as my dinner! The chicken tender bowl is perfect for a cold day (and it warms you up). The buffalo chicken pizza is just too good to share (oh, and the buffalo sauce is just absolutely amazing). Besides the excellent food, there is a full bar, Buzztime trivia, lottery, and a poker night! I always feel at home there!

Favorite Date Night/Fine Dining Restaurant: The Melting Pot

I have eaten at the Melting Pot three times, but not yet on a date. Each time has been remarkable!!! I love walking in the door and smelling the blend of spices and food... to me it's an addictive scent! One thing I absolutely love about dining here is the freshness of all the food they serve. The vegetables are crispy, the bread tastes like it just came out of the oven, the fruit is absolutely delicious, and the sweets are cooked to perfection! I usually am satisfied with eating only the cheese and dessert fondues, but I have enjoyed all four courses (which include salad and meats). I also discovered that my favorite wine (Moscato di asti) is served here (among hundreds of other fine wines) so the combination of food and great wine is highly enjoyable, and to a future date with someone special, dangerous.... in a good way ;-)

Favorite BBQ Place: Arthur Bryant's BBQ (Kansas City, MO)

It would be a dishonor for me, a lifelong Kansas Citian, to not include my favorite barbecue place on this list. I have not tried all of the best places in the area, but out of the ones I have eaten at, Arthur Bryant's is the best!!! It started when my Dad raved about it and always came home with leftovers. Once I got the opportunity to go there myself (and was recommended that you don't need the large fries), I was hooked! I don't eat here very often, but when I do, I make sure that I have enough room in my stomach to enjoy as much as I can while it is fresh from the kitchen. I usually get their beef sandwich (which is enough meat to eat 3 good sized sandwiches) and fries. I make sure I add a lot of their signature BBQ sauce to savor as much flavor as I can. So if anyone ever wants to go to the casino, rest assured that I will always suggest Ameristar so I can eat some barbecue at some point during the festivities.

Wow, now I'm hungry for some good food!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

BC #17- Something You're Looking Forward To

Does anyone remember the very first blog I ever posted? Let me remind you: 1997: The Year Boy Bands Corrupted Me

Yes, this blog is related to Boy Bands... you have been warned.

In 2008, New Kids on the Block reunited, recorded an album, and went on tour. I had several friends go to this concert. I was a little bit interested in going, but it wasn't *my* boy band, the Backstreet Boys.

In 2010, there was a new development... and I witnessed this development turn into a reality while watching the AMA's:

NKOTBSB: aka... New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys

They announced they were going to tour together. Holy shit! Both groups together??? I can handle that one. When the 2011 tour dates were finally announced, Kansas City was not on the tour. I was a little sad for a second, but then my logic kicked in. They announced only the major cities to see how fast tickets will sell. Then they would add more dates. That is exactly what happened.

I looked up ticket prices and realized that there was no way I could afford two tickets (I'm one of those concert goers who can't buy a single ticket... that's just me. Movies are a different story). I figured I would slowly save up or use my tax refund to get them. A couple weeks go by and I get an e-mail from my Mom. It was a confirmation of tickets that she bought for an event at the Sprint Center.

So what are my plans for Saturday July 16th, 2011??? I'm going to the NKOTBSB concert and I am looking forward to boy band goodness. My head might explode from watching two boy bands on one stage, LOL

Okay.... to my Rocky Horror peeps. Yes, I am aware this is the same night as RHPS (not to mention it's the three year anniversary show- which would be the anniversary of when I lost my virginity at the Screenland). I am still planning on showing up for that.... I just can't promise what time I will be there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

BC #16- My Dream House

I'm not yet a homeowner, but it is a goal in my life. I am one of those individuals that would love to buy a preexisting, older house instead of a new construction one in a modern subdivision. I prefer older homes because they have more character.

Here's an example of something idealistic...

Or this one...

Even this one (which is actually in the same town as me)...

See... something like a cottage or Veranda, even something that could be registered in some town's historical society. I prefer to have something that I can restore to it's natural beauty or to make it more beautiful. Now as far as little details of things I would do to the house, here are several of my ideas for my dream home.

-My dining room has to be big enough to hold 8 (or more) people comfortably, for the occasional dinner party or hosting holidays with the family. I would like crimson red walls and cherry oak hardwood floors. I would have the table decorated to fit the season or holiday. The holiday I would be most excited to showcase would be Halloween, with a floral arrangement of black roses and spiderwebs and dinnerware from Pottery Barn (they have some really cool Halloween stuff). The other holidays that I would showcase in my dining room would be Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and St. Patricks Day.

-The living room will have that feeling of instant coziness. There will be a couch and love seat set that will be so comfortable that you could easily fall asleep in mere minutes. There will always be a couple throws available to use, and depending on the season the throws will be different colors (same with a random throw pillow or two). The main focus of the room will be the fireplace/mantle, which will be either made with wood or stone (no red brick fireplace here... i think they are slightly tacky, unless for nostalgic Christmas pics). I will also have a stereo system in the living room for the occasional times where I just want to play music and dance around (either alone or with that special someone).

-For the movie geek in me, I **NEED** to have the ultimate movie room. The only furniture in said room are over sized recliners and a couple end tables with lamps on them. One wall will have the television (or TV screen to accompany the projector) in the center, with shelves on either side for movies and below the television would be all the necessary TV equipment (like cable boxes, surround sound system and DVD player). The walls perpendicular to the screen would have 3-4 framed movie posters. The back wall, which is where the door to the movie room would be, will have more shelves for movies and random movie prop type knick knacks. In one of the corners of the room would be a director's chair with the word "movie geek" written on it.

-Reading too many Nicholas Sparks books have made me fall in love with the idea of a wraparound porch. I'd like one for the front yard of the house. I also need to have a couple Oak trees in the front yard, so when Fall comes around I will have beautiful orange and red leaves all over the yard.

-The kitchen will be very simple... naturally stained cabinets, an island, and a kitchen table for everyday use. All the major appliances will either be black or stainless steel (white is a big no-no). I've always liked the idea of a breakfast nook. So if there is one in the house, or space to create one, I would be a happy camper. Sometimes you just need that more intimate feel when having breakfast or just sitting with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. :-)

-The basement will be fully furnished and play as an area to entertain friends and family. The walls will be painted a darker color, like hunter green, midnight blue or a light grey. There will be a pool table and a few random bar stools to sit around. If I found one (or two) cheap enough, I would have arcade games set up and rigged to play whenever I wanted (no money deposits here!) I would put in a bar with a mini fridge and a wine cooler. The entire basement will have tile floors, since I am one that would hate to replace moldy carpet after a flood (if that would ever happen). Part of the basement will have a separate room for storage, with wall to wall shelves to hold items like Christmas decor or other items deemed appropriate for storage. All organized and labeled, of course :-)

-The backyard will be both entertaining and relaxing. On the deck, there will be an area for grilling and an area to just sit and relax. The sitting area will have comfortable seating and will be underneath a trellis (which will have vines growing all over it). In the backyard, I would want something entertaining to do, like a self made miniature golf course or a life sized chess board (I have How-To guides for mini golf, plus a few other projects). I wouldn't want an overly huge yard, since I don't want to have to mow it, lol.

Man, just to write about this REALLY makes me wish I was in the process of buying my first home. *Sigh* I will get there someday. Hopefully, I will have a significant other or spouse to share these dreams with me by that time. If not, then my son will just have to be my home improvement partner in crime!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Red State: The Protests, The Film, and the Unforgettable Q&A Session

11 years ago, I was introduced (by a former boss of mine) to a little movie called Mallrats. That became the beginning of a great journey with writer/director/producer Kevin Smith and his work. Last year, I attended a Q&A show of his and loved hearing all these stories of his time making movies and working with certain actors in his career.

When they announced a few months ago that Kevin Smith would be coming back to Kansas City in May (with Jason Mewes), I was ecstatic. So imagine my surprise when he announced just weeks later that he would be coming in March to pre-screen his latest film, Red State. Me... a movie geek that loves Kevin Smith's work.... getting the chance to attend such an event. I was researching ticket prices immediately. My mom bought tickets for her and I to go a couple weeks later.

Leading up to the night, Kevin Smith did the usual radio spots and Twitter promotions. But this was the Kansas City show... and it got a lot more interesting, thanks to the members of the Westboro Baptist Church. The movie stirred up a lot of controversy the past year since it was believed to be about the Phelps and their many antics. Just like the last time Kevin was in town, they planned to protest prior to the show, but I don't think they expected to be invited to see the movie and get involved in the Q&A.

They accepted.

Oh... this just got interesting. Then, hours before the show, Kevin decided to give out 100 tickets to anyone that came to the Midland with their own picket signs. The most creative ones got tickets. Now I was more excited to see what the night was going to bring.

My mom and I make our drive down town and this is some of what we saw when we drove by (no, this isn't my video... but glad I found it):

Okay, so the protest was about 15 people (which was double the amount from last year). But seeing the counter protesters was highly entertaining. My mom and I walked around to look at some of the signs before entering the theater. We have some very creative people in the city!

After we got in the theater, grabbed a drink and got seated, we didn't have to wait long for the show to begin. Kevin came out to great applause and many of us gave him a standing ovation. He was wearing a hockey jersey and looked like he had lost some weight (good for him). He acknowledged the Phelps family, who had seats in the first balcony. The audience was pretty courteous to them; I recall only hearing a few half-assed "boos." Kevin then mentions that after the movie, Megan Phelps-Roper would join him onstage to give her personal review of the film. He keeps the rest of the opening speech short and introduces the film. Then... the movie begins.

Three high school teens decide to go to a nearby town to have sex with a woman that they found through the Internet. They end up finding themselves inside the church of an extremely fundamentalist group. The leader of the church, Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), takes the word of God to a new level, in which he and his church members murder those who commit sin, which is witnessed by one of the teens and the adult members of the church. The teens, now extremely terrified, try to escape the same fate. They end up in the middle of a hostage situation with the ATF, lead by Joseph Kennan (John Goodman). This begins a lot of bloodshed on both ends of the terrorist type acts.

This movie is definitely a horror movie... but on a different level. If you think about how leaders like Fred Phelps can get when they get worked up over something they are passionate about (like what he "preaches" to others), then imagine what would happen if he decided to take matters into his own hands and slay others "in the name of God." That, to me, is scary on a realistic level. Kevin warned the audience that this film will send you through a weird mix of emotions... and it did.

The movie does have good dialogue, as Kevin Smith has developed throughout his career. The church service scene is one of the most well-written (and acted) scenes he has ever created. That same scene has the first death, which was executed in a way I had never seen before. Some stranger is plastic wrapped onto a cross and gagged. Then, when the church members were ready to kill him, they wrapped his head with plastic wrap and aim a gun at the top of his head to shoot downward. They do it this way to prevent spilling of homosexual blood in the church. Yeah, it was fucked up.

The acting was phenomenal. Michael Parks owned that role... there was nobody else that could have executed it as well as he did. John Goodman was the character everyone rooted for, all the way to the very end. Kerry Bishe (she played Cheyenne- the granddaughter of Abin Cooper) had the breakout role of the film, and I hope some major academy recognizes that when awards season comes around next year. Overall, this movie was very good and I cannot wait for its release in theaters this October so I can see it again! Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

When the movie was on, Kevin tweeted about how we responded to the film. Apparently, Kansas City was the most bloodthirsty audience (at that point on the tour). Then again, we have the Phelps living in our backyard, so to see fictional versions of them becoming part of the bloodbath was a lot more enjoyable to us. We laughed at the beginning, got silent during Abin Cooper's speech, and fiercely cheered when a church member was killed (which happened a lot). At one of the most epic deaths, someone yelled "Winning," causing a lot of laughter and cheering (and made me smile, since it felt just like sitting in the theater when I go to the monthly Rocky Horror showings). We also cheered for John Goodman... a lot. He was the hero and we loved him for it.

All right... time for the Q&A session, which was being filmed (I had a feeling it would).

The first thing Kevin brought up was that the members of the WBC that stayed for the movie left 15 minutes in... followed by a comment that we have now found a way to drive them away from protesting at funerals (just start showing the movie to them!). There were a few good questions about casting, like that if George Carlin were still alive, he would have been considered for the role of Abin Cooper (but as Kevin stated numerous times, nobody other than Michael Parks could have done that role justice). A couple people asked film making questions and such, which Kevin went into detail about his plans about helping independent filmmakers get their works showcased.

Then, the unexpected happened.

I noticed a couple of people standing at the microphones to my right. Something seemed different about them. They introduced themselves. Libby Phelps and Joshua Phelps-Roper. Everyone got silent. They were two of Fred Phelps grandchildren and they emancipated themselves from the church (and their family). The audience went wild with applause.

Two minutes later, they were onstage... and remained there for the next hour.

Libby and Josh basically recounted to the audience of how they left the church and their family (Libby left about two years ago and Josh left when he was 19- which I think was about 7-8 years ago). They confirmed that the church was basically a cult. They did not celebrate any holidays except for birthdays (so no Christmas or Easter... funny how they call themselves a RELIGIOUS organization and not celebrate those days). Both of them have found love, as Libby is engaged and Josh is married with a son. They also have had difficulty finding something they can believe in when it comes to organized religion.

When asked about the movie, Libby and Josh gave some very awesome insight. During a scene where the ATF and the Cooper family are having a shooting battle, Abin asks his daughter for some sweet tea. Libby pointed out that she experienced similar instances when she used to protest. They would talk about dinner plans and stuff while holding picket signs and getting things thrown at them. This brought Kevin to tears and when he hugged Libby he said that her comment "made up for a year's worth of bad reviews for Cop Out" (and the audience cheered).

The Q&A ends with a couple more questions before Kevin (and the Phelps) get a massive standing ovation. Since it was filmed, I predict that when Red State is released on DVD the Kansas City Q&A will be in the bonus features. I'm almost willing to put money on it.

So, there you have it. My epic evening at the Red State pre-screening. I was so glad I got to experience this (and my Mom too). It was one of those "you HAD to be there" kind of nights. At least I was kind enough to share a lot of it to my friends and readers.

Kevin Smith is coming back May 2nd to Kansas City, with Jason Mewes. My mom is already planning to get us tickets. Seeing Kevin Smith three times within a year? Wow... how did that become possible??? :-)

BC #15- Bible Verse

Some of you recall my blog about my religious views in which I stated that I am agnostic. I am very content with that, but have been exploring other religions that I am not familiar with. I'm branching out of Christianity and looking at what else is out there. Some influences are from friends, old and new, that have invited me to certain events in which I may have never sought out on my own. However, this blog is not about my current religious journey.

When I was eight years old, my sister and I went to church with our best friend, who lived across the street from us at the time. We attended Sunday school and the morning service at that amazingly gorgeous Presbyterian Church at 95th and Wornall. I received a Bible that year, which I guess is a rite of passage for kids that age. Anyway, in tradition of helping young children learn Bible verses, we did several games and activities. My sister got a cassette tape (a note: this was in the early 90's when cassettes were still actively sold in stores) of songs with a few random verses. There was one that stuck out to me, and I still think of it occasionally.

** Retrieves the Bible that was given to me 19 years ago (New International Version, published in 1984) **

Psalm 34:13 "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies"

*** Retrieves my Dad's/Grandparents Bible (King James Version, published in 1976), sitting next to mine on my bookshelf ***

Psalm 34:13 "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile."

Okay, I had to do that... show the same verse from two different Bibles. One of my friends pointed out in my religion blog about how her church uses the King James version because it's supposedly the most accurate translation in print. I can believe that but I also know how people can alter words when going to print, which to me is a major flaw in the belief system. I'm getting off subject again...

This Bible verse is pretty self explanatory. Keep yourself from telling lies. It sounds pretty simple to do and for young children, it is an excellent example of a lesson in life. As I grew older and experience life outside my own little world, I have given this particular verse a lot of thought. I started questioning this verse.

I've told lies before (come on, we all have), but many of those lies were out of protection or to prevent someone from feeling hurt when it wasn't necessary. For example, if someone was showing off that they've lost weight but I can't notice anything different, I will say that they look amazing and are doing awesome. I do that to help give that person a boost and to keep their motivation up. Other than a random tiny lie like this one, I would rather be brutally honest and truthful.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Music Tuesday: A Handful of New Songs Plus Rockfest!

I can tell that Spring is coming because there is a huge wave of new music hitting the airwaves. I am having a lot of luck finding new songs to feature on my blogs. I said I would work on variety and I accomplished that for you guys. Go me!!!

Cults "Go Outside"

When I first saw the music video for this song (which I have had difficulty finding the past few weeks), I knew it sounded familiar. I realized just yesterday that it was on a commercial... I think for Coca Cola, but not sure. Anyway, I like the song. It's catchy and has a warm vibe to it.

Papa Roach "Burn"

This one is fairly new. I haven't been catching up on my rock music lately, but I am working on it. I like that Papa Roach has returned with what sounds like a great new album. They are going back on tour this spring and summer, and I might have to catch their show here in Kansas City (more details in a bit...)

Mike Posner feat. Lil Wayne "Bow Chicka Wow Wow"

One of the disadvantages of having a kid? Phrases like "Bow Chicka Wow Wow" remind you of furry chipmunks with a music career. I'm hoping that Mike Posner's latest single will break me out of that. I also might have to worry about my dating future, since there will be guys out there that will take note of this song and try to put their own spin on it. That would either make me giggle or run far, far away. I'm hoping for the giggles.

Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull "On the Floor"

Jennifer Lopez has made a comeback in the music world... and a good one! Some of you may remember her mediocre attempt a year or two ago with a song called "Louboutins," which paid homage to the designer footwear. I'm glad that it didn't kill her music career. Her efforts to make a better song (and future album) are very noticeable. Add Pitbull to the single and you have what I will see as the best clubbing song for the spring and summer.

Train "Marry Me"

This is one of those songs that tell a simple, yet heartwarming story. The video helps tell the same story as the lyrics. First, it features many real-life couples and their stories that led to marriage (in a When Harry Met Sally kind of way). Then, you see the story of a waitress and a regular at a diner and how they both notice each other. I foresee many proposals and weddings to be accompanied with this song for the next several years.

Okay, now onto the concert news.

One of Kansas City's most popular concerts was announced yesterday. Rockfest. I have almost gone several times (still kicking myself for not going in 2001, when all the main stage artists/groups were my absolute favorites at the time). But, with this years announcements, I am really considering buying tickets.

The Main Stage bands include Halestorm, Hinder, Sevendust, Alter Bridge, Papa Roach, Stone Sour, and Disturbed. The Second Stage will feature Evalyn Awake (my friend Tyler's band- formerly from The Leo Project and Intent), New Medicine, Art of Dying, Hail the Villian, Red Line Chemistry (another KC band), 10 Years, All That Remains, and Black Label Society. I am extremely excited to see four of these bands live, and would hope that it won't be like last years "mudfest."

BC #14- A Pic of Yourself Last Year- How Much Have You Changed?

This picture was taken about an hour before the countdown to 2010 (dang, my hair was long.. and in its natural color!) I spent that evening with a bunch of friends that I worked with at Home Depot. It was a fun night, filled with beer pong, champagne, and getting several kisses at Midnight. I believe this was also the last time I hung out with them. When you don't work for the company, you can drift apart from the crowd you socialized and worked with, and that's what happened here.

I feel like I change every year. I experience new things and interact with new people that make me a different person at the end of each calender year. The past three years have been dedicated to rediscovering myself, but 2010 had the biggest impact on my journey.

1. I have reestablished a social life. Since I separated from my ex-husband, I have reconnected ties I thought I was losing with close friends. A lot of that had to do with opening a Facebook account. But, my social life hit a new level summer 2010. I had plans every week with friends. I was making new friends. I was trying new things. I found myself with the possibility that I was entering myself back into the dating world. I felt like I was 19 again, where I had so much to look forward to in my future.

2. My Son Started School. It's sometimes hard for me to believe that I have a kid old enough to be going to school five days a week. Since he started going last August, I have found that I have a lot more "me" time. I can get things done around the house without him flooding every room with his toys. I can watch movies that are not appropriate for him to see. I can get out and go shopping, eat lunch, and hang out with friends on occasion.

3. I started writing again. Eight months ago, I set up this blog. Once I started, I opened a floodgate of creativity. Then, a couple months ago, I saw a Twitter post about freelance writers for The Pitch. I took advantage of the opportunity. I don't think I would have attempted to go for it if I didn't have my blog to help me get my voice out there. Having the possibility of seeing my dream as a published writer turning into a reality is the most rewarding change I have experienced in the past year.

4. I express myself as the unique individual that I am. I have learned how to showcase the unique qualities that I possess. I write about it, I post things I enjoy on Twitter and Facebook, and I don't hesitate in voicing my opinions on things. I have been showing off the sexier, girly side of me (through clothing and my attitude). I've had a few recent incidents with members of my family over things posted on my Facebook and I stood my ground. Even though I had some minor backlash in regards to it (a few family members have deleted me off their accounts), I was proud that I took a stand... and had a lot of support from friends and loved ones.

5. I have learned to love my body. I have said this before; I am glad I am not a skinny beanpole. I love having a curvy body. With that said, I also dislike seeing how much I weigh when I actually decide to step on a scale. I have found a happy median to making myself completely satisfied. I don't necessarily need to lose weight (per se), but I need to work on toning the areas of my body that make me cringe at times (my upper arms, my thighs, and my stomach). If I do that, I won't have to fear that I will lose my curves. I have also stepped out of the comfort zone I've been in and took chances in showing a little more skin (wearing corsets and hosiery to Rocky Horror, knee high socks with shorts to work, etc.). Having positive reaction from men and women over my confidence in wearing such things have helped me out immensely.

Despite all the changes I've experienced the past year, I believe that the rest of 2011 is going to have a bigger impact... on myself, my career path, my love life, and my creativity. I've already have some exciting things in the works, but I don't want to spoil the fun. You'll just have to wait and see....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Movie Monday: Vampires, Fake Engagements, A Road Trip, and Some Jackasses

Oh, what a week I have had! With a few of the Kansas City area Blockbuster stores closing their doors, I spent some time in a couple of them seeking out some movie deals. I seemed to have hit the jackpot. I mean, who else would resist owning movies that cost the same as if you were to just rent them? Add that to the rental program I mentioned last week, and I have a crapload of new movies to watch. I ended up watching a lot of movies, so prepare for shorter reviews this week... I don't want to bore you guys, you know. :-)

Vampires Suck

A parody film that focuses solely on the first two Twilight movies, with other pop culture references from other vampire movies/shows, like True Blood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It also references Jersey Shore, the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, and others.

To be honest, I have seen a lot better parodies in my day. It did well with executing both Twilight films into one, but the jokes were either too overdone or semi funny. There were moments, while watching this, I thought "You know, some of my friends will probably think that this is how Twilight should have been told." Even I thought that a few times. If you want to watch something brainless, then go ahead and watch this flick. Otherwise, if you don't happen to catch this flick, you won't be missing much. Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The Proposal

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the boss from hell who discovers her Visa status has expired and that she has to be deported to Canada. In order to keep her lifestyle, she claims she is engaged to her assistant, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds). She ends up going with him to Alaska for the weekend so she can get to know him and so they can announce their "engagement" and get married.

Yes, it's a predictable chick flick... as in I knew how it was going to end when I saw the previews for it. With that said, it had a lot of funny moments: the bachelorette party, the dog/eagle incident, the naked encounter, and the surprising emergency situation initiated by Andrew's grandmother (Betty White). I enjoyed how Margaret was blown away with how her preconceptions of Alaska were blown out of the water (and eventually her realization of how much she missed doing normal family activities). It was a cute movie, but not one of my favorites in the romantic comedy department. Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Due Date

After a series of unfortunate instances, Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) and Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) are placed on the "No Fly" list. So they decide to take a road trip across the country so Peter can get home before his child is born (via c-section). While driving, they encounter a number of bizarre and unexpected events which threatens them from getting to California in time for Peter's baby to arrive.

When i first heard that this movie was made by the same people who did The Hangover, I was prepared to get some good laughs. I also expected for it to not be quite as funny. I was right on both counts. Peter immediately came off as a straight up douchebag with a stick up his ass. Once he (finally) warmed up to Ethan, I learned to like him. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jamie Foxx and Juliette Lewis with supporting roles in the movie. Like with The Hangover, Zach Galifianakis brings his own twist of bizarre characters with great comedic timing. I was pretty satisfied with the amount of laughs and "what the fuck?" moments in this film. Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Jackass 3 (the one that was in 3D in theaters)

The fearless group that became the Jackass team returned to theaters in 2010 with a 3D version of some of the most epic stunts performed to date. They recruited a few guests, including Seann William Scott and Rip Torn, to witness and participate in some of the many antics that made them famous in the first place.

I was feeling a little down earlier this week and was hoping to find a movie that made me laugh to feel better. This movie blew that completely out of the water. I have never laughed so much in a movie... EVER. I had to keep pausing between scenes to compose myself, only to do it again, and again. Some of the stunts that caused me the most laughter include: the wheelbarrow/bungee/pool one, the one involving a jet engine and projecting random objects, and "duck" hunting. To me, this was the best of all the movies they have made. Rating 4.75 out of 5 stars

BC #13- Goals

I have a lot of goals that I would like to accomplish in my lifetime. I thought that for this blog I would just write out a list of these goals. Do not mistake this as my bucket list, even though a few of my goals are on it. These are not in order of importance... they are just listed as I thought of them.

Short Term Goals:
-Get money put into my savings account so it can start building interest

-Start some kind of regular exercise program to tone the areas of my body that I'm not satisfied with

-Solve the problem with past loans to be able to move forward with receiving pell grants (so I can start enrolling for college classes again)

-Paint/decorate my bathroom

-Set up a meeting to start planning my 10 year high school reunion (Yes, I volunteered to be the leader/ co-leader of the planning committee)

-Install Microsoft Word onto my laptop (it would make writing/blogging so much easier to do)

-Find the four matching brackets I need to complete hanging shelves in my room

Long Term Goals:
-Finish my degree/ graduate college

-Become a homeowner

-Find myself in an honest, communicative, happy relationship/marriage

-Get a savings account set up for my son

-Get back to my pre-pregnancy weight (even though I wasn't happy with my weight back then, I have learned to love my body for it's voluptuousness)

-Land my dream job as a published writer (and become financially stable with that job), which I already have my foot in the door- with the blogs I've written for The Pitch :-)

Now, if you'll excuse me... I'm going to work on some of these goals!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

BC #12- Something You Don't Leave the House Without

Okay, there are several things that I make sure I have before leaving the house. My keys, my purse, a coat or jacket on cold days, my debit card, and a car seat for times when my kid is accompanying me. There is one item that I make sure I have... since it's the best way to communicate with me. My cell phone.

The LG Lotus phone... and it's purple! I inherited this phone from my sister last year and it has been good to me. I take pics with it all the time (and I'm pretty impressed with the quality in the pics, although it would be nice to be able to zoom in and out). I like that I can check my Facebook and Twitter on it (despite there are some limitations with accessing attachments to some posts). I have found a free website to upload some pretty awesome ringtones. Between movie themes, video game themes, and movie quotes, my geekness is highly represented with ringtones.

Now, with several friends and family members owning touch screen phones, I am ready to look into upgrading my phone. I want to be able to check into places through FourSquare, have the ability to blog on my phone, and use a few other apps that I already use on my social networking pages. Since I am going with Sprint, the Android and the Evo are the likely candidates. However, the next few months are likely to roll out some new phones, so I might have to keep my eyes out for new possibilities.

Blackberry? I can live without it :-)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

BC #11- Favorite TV Shows

Now some of you may think that I don't get into television much because I am a movie geek. Well, it's true that I don't watch nearly as much tv as I do movies, but I do have a handful of shows that I tune into each week. To me, tv shows create more of a connection to individual characters since you see them develop in their personal lives and relationships over a given period of time. I can relate to the characters more and love seeing situations spread out over several weeks.

So what shows do I consider to be a die-hard fan of? Reality shows? NOOOOO! Game shows? Enjoyable but not on a consistent basis (although I kicked ass when watching Rock and Roll Jeopardy). My list is all about sitcoms and story-driven dramas! I now present to you my five favorite shows, accompanied with some of my favorite scenes!

#5- Big Love (HBO) **Spoiler Alert*-The following clip is a recap of the first four seasons**

A polygamous family living in modern day suburban Utah... that idea immediately grasped my attention when HBO was giving out sneak previews of the (then) new show. This is one of those shows that you really have to pay attention to, otherwise you'll miss a subtle hint that's important to a character or the story line (which I really love about the show). I like how they show all the different branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This show has helped me understand the religion and has prompted a lot of excellent conversation with my Mormon friends. I am saddened that the current season is the final one, but I am also intrigued at how things are going to end with the Henrickson family.

#4- Grey's Anatomy (ABC, syndicated)

I never watched this show until I was visiting my parents (this was when I was still married) and it was a special presentation of the episode where a guy shot himself with a bazooka, causing the hospital to go under a code black situation. Lets just say that episode converted me to becoming a weekly watcher. The combination of the love (and sex) lives of interns, residents, surgeons, and nurses along with some of the most interesting cases EVER make the show consistently exciting. Although some of my favorite characters are no longer around (Denny, Izzie, George), I have enjoyed watching new people come in and out of Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. I hope to see, at least, a couple more seasons of this show.

#3- Sex and the City (HBO, syndicated)

The city, the fashion, the guys, and the one-liners.... oh how I loved all of it! I related to Carrie's character a lot. She was a writer/columnist (my dream job), she made her own unique fashion choices, and she always remained positive that she would end up with the man of her dreams (even if it took several on and off tries to finally get there with Big). I loved Samantha's seemingly never ending sex life, and got to see some really cool sex toys in the process! Charlotte was the sweet, yet determined woman who would stop at nothing to find her perfect man (and ended up with Harry). Miranda was the one character that went through the most changes, from an independent lawyer to a happily married woman with a son. I proudly own every season, both movies and a few books about the most stylish show I have ever enjoyed watching!

#2- Friends (NBC, syndicated)

This is another show that I did not start watching until after a few seasons in. You have a bunch of twenty-somethings living in New York City dealing with work, love, and living in some pretty awesome apartments (benefits of Rent Control). Between Rachel and Ross (Yes, they WERE on a break), Chandler and Monica, and Rachel's unexpected pregnancy, I had never been so emotionally affected by a show (especially about Rachel and Ross). I compared myself as a mix of Rachel and Monica (more on the Monica part) and would love to be with a guy like Chandler, with his great sense of humor. I quote this show a lot and dream of one day having my little circle of friends with our own hangout like Central Perk. :-)

#1- True Blood (HBO)

Vampires. Mythological beings. Lafayette. Southern Living. Religious cults. Sex. Sex. SEX. That's only part of the many things that I cannot get enough of out of this show. I remember watching HBO one night and catching a sneak peek of this show and HAD to see what this was all about. I fell in love by the end of the first episode. Between seasons one and two, I had purchased all of Charlaine Harris' books and read them all to satisfy my craving for more drama/sex/adventure. I love how Alan Ball pays homage to the books and has added some excellent side stories to keep us begging for more (especially keeping Lafayette alive past the first season... the show would not be the same without him. If this were in real life, I would definitely be interested in being a fangbanger (vampire sex groupie... lol). I am anxiously waiting for season four to start this summer... and hope to see all of the books converted over to the show. That would be awesome!