Movies are my thing…The Way Way Back: A Review

Besides being actual Awards season, this is my favorite time of year for movies. With the a multitude of great dramas set to come out in the next few months, I’ve decided that since my boyfriend and I will see most of these, I’d write reviews on the movies that we see. I used to do this a lot back in High School in just a notebook – so I’ll just carry it over to cyberspace. These reviews may help others find something to watch, or just be an outlet for me to feel like Roger Ebert. Here’s to a great season of movies and Thank God the year of Sci-Fi is almost over. Here’s the first one…

The Way Way Back:

A few minutes into The Way Way Back, you may think you watching a spin off of Little Miss Sunshine. Toni Collette resembles her LMS character, although Steve Carrell has ditched his white jump suit and suicidal tendenices and is now playing a shovinistic “step-father” figure. Although similar to feel, The Way Way Back feels fresh from the start and the indie hipster soundtrack only adds to the charm.

The film starts off with Duncan, a socially awkward and semi depressed child of divorce, sitting in the back of a car on his way to his mom’s boyfriend, Trent’s (played by Carell) beach house for the summer. While his mother and Trent’s daughter are sleeping in the car, Trent calls Duncan “3” on a scale from “1-10″. Thus, the pace of the film is set and for any child that has had to go through divorce or dealing with a parent’s boyfriend of girlfriend, a relatable story begins to unfold.

Besides being a real and relatable story, the other thing that sets this movie apart from other’s like it, are the performances. This ensemble is quite extensive, featuring the ever hilarious Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and Anna Sophia Robb, in addition to Collette and Carell. But the kid steals the show…newcomer Liam James is perfect. The story is told through his eyes and he lets you feel his awkwardness, his sadness, his confliction, his rejection, his acceptance, his happiness, his anger and his hope.  The most heartfelt scenes however, are found between Sam Rockwell’s character Owen, an aging, fun loving Water Park owner and Duncan.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel torn, you’ll get angry, you’ll get swept up with The Way Way Back. I’d give it an “8.5”, not a “3”.

Time. Time. Time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. We only have a certain amount of time and we walk through this life never knowing when our time will be up. With all of the tragedies that seem to sweep our world, I’m found myself feeling scared more than I’d like. It’s sad that you can’t go to a movie theater, you can’t go to work, you can’t run in a race, you can’t even go school without the possibility of time being taken away. Just the other night while at ball game, a man left a bookbag under his chair and then preceeded to leave. The lady sitting beside him yelled with a quick tremble in her voice, “Are you coming back for this?” He shook his head yes and then the guy who was sitting beside him said “He’ll be back, just getting a drink”. At that moment though, I knew exactly what she was thinking and it made me feel funny, uneasy. For the rest of the game I just kept thinking about it with terrible thoughts running through my mind. I’ve felt like that a few times walking from work through Times Square on a busy Friday afternoon. As we’ve seen from history, things can happen anywhere, in the smallest or biggest of places, no place is exempt.

I think as a country, we are so good at rolling with the punches, we sometimes bounce back too fast and we never really heal. Only when we are caught up in our own lives and something else terrible happens are we reminded that time is precious and there are those who want to take that time from us. Whether time is taken by sickess, an accident, an attack, etc..it can also be wasted by us. We are responsible to make the most of the time we have. We are not responsible for the circumstances that we cannot control that may shorten our time. It’s important that we find hope in seemingly hopeless situations. When I have those uneasy feelings, I have to stop myself and remember that some things are out of my control and being scared all the time isn’t a productive way to spend my time.

There is good in this world, still. I know it and I see it every day. The worst times bring out the best in people and we’ve continued to see that time and time again. Time is something we have been given and it’s up to us to make it count. WIth each ordinary day, something extraordinary is possible.

I think the Office said it best “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them”. If only we took the time to think like that everyday and enjoy our time and the people we choose to spend it with. Life’s too short and always will be…so live large while you can.

Baseball in the Big Apple

ImageSo it’s almost been 4 months since I moved up North and a little more than 3 months at my new job. Time flies – especially when most of your hours are swallowed by commuting. I’ve decided that in my few short months of living here that public transporation is a scary thing to depend on. I’ll get to that more later…

This post will be about something that we have really embraced since being in the Big Apple…Baseball. First of all, we’ve come to realize that working for corporate America defintiely has it’s perks, especially when it comes to sporting events. About a month and a half ago we had the opportunity to sit in a box suite at Citi Field. Although neither Lee or I cared about the Mets or their opponent, the Washington Nationals, we did care about the free Shake Shake burgers, fries, shakes and adult beverages. Seriously, this is the way to see a game. The third baseline view wasn’t bad either and of course I was excited to introduce Lee to all of my co-workers. As the Mets started losing it the 8th inning, shocking, – we took our cue, left, and we headed to McFadden’s, the bar right outside Citi Field. We got the dance party started and then left 30 minutes later. We like starting the party – it’s all about leaving it better than you found it, I suppose.

A few weeks later, I recieved an email from the Time Warner Cable Sports Partership team about an essay contest where we had the opportunity to win a pair of tickets to the MLB All Star Home Run Derby. Of course, I jumped right on that horse and submitted my poem about how Time Warner Cable offering free Wi-Fi during the All Star week would be extremely beneficial. Later the next day I received an email from my boss saying that she was doing a drawing within our team, with the winner recieving a pair of tickets to the actual MLB All Star game at Citi Field. Knowing that this would be a once in a lifetime experience – of course I entered to win. Luck be a lady that day…I won! And then two days later, I received notification that I won the essay contest and also had won tickets to the Home Run Derby. All Star festitives were to ensue.

Day 1.

The Home Run Derby took place on a Monday. We headed to Queens as soon as I got off work, decked out in our Phillies gear. I was thankful that this was one time where I felt like I would not get beaten up for wearing Phillies apparel at Citi Field. A few middle fingers were still thrown, but eh, what do you do? 

The Derby was really a spectacle – baseball fans of all different backgrounds came together to support their teams at the Midsummer Classic. The smells of burgers, beer, pop corn, pretzels filled the stadium and we decided on a Smokehouse option. Food wise, my barbeque sandwich was delicious, which is saying something considering I love North Carolina barbeque.

As we settled into our seats right on the first base line, Pit Bull got the party started…or shall I say he tried too, we were too busy mocking him to really enjoy his beat-tastic music. Plus I was really distracted with his bass player who looked like CeeLo Green but who had Stevie Wonder’s sway.

After that trainwreck of a performance, it was time for the slugging to start. It’s pretty cool to hear the crack of a wooden bat over and over again with balls traveling up into the 3rd deck of a stadium. The guys were impressive. They’re probably all on PED’s but, oh well, we won’t find out until next year and it was a really fun show. The winner, Oakland A’s Yoenis Cepedes was amazing and the Washington National’s Bryce Harper was also fun to watch.

The the debauchary of the ride back stared. Question: When is the best time for all 7 trains from Queens to Manhattan to be cancelled? Oooh Oohh I know…Answer: When thousands of people who don’t live in Queens leave Citi Field and have to get back to Manhattan. NOT.

 Yes, this happened. We waited until 11:45 to catch a train to Penn Station only to have wait 45 minutes until the next train to take us to New Jersey. Although frustrating, the best part of this obstacle had to be the man sitting in the waiting area that had apparently carried his engraving set with him. Yes, engraving set. This man literally engraved metal the whole time we waited. I became so tickled. He never once looked up from his “art”  to notice or even care that the whole waiting area was giving him a confused death stare. Two things I take away from this experience…1) It’s never a good thing to be at Penn Station after midnight. 2) The sound of someone engraving something in an ear shot away from you is quite possibly the most annoying sound known to woman/man/child/tiny rat.

At 3:40 a.m. – we got home. At 5:30 a.m. I awoke. Baseball is American. Getting less than 2 hours of sleep…is not.

 

Day 2. The MLB All Star Game is also on a weekday for some unGodly reason. It’s actually the next day. I pushed my tiredness aside, worked my 8 hour day and then treked back to Citi Field that afternoon. We ate Shake Shack which was superb. We saw Mariano Rivera in his last All Star Game. We saw Marc Anthony perform a very flat version of the Star Spangled Banner. We sat in front of the most annoying 9 year boy ever. One of those kids that talks every minute of every day. The same kind of kid who would take a player’s name and for the whole time they were up to bat would reiterate their name in every single way that it could be said…take for instance Boston Redsox’s David Ortiz, A.K.A. Big Pappi, who during this game became “Davvvvvviiiiiddddd Orrrrttteeezzzz”, “Big PAPPPPAAA” BIGGGGG Popppppyyyyy”, Big pappy, Popppppyyyyy, etc… you get the drift. During the 6th inning, I heard his dad ask “Aren’t you tired yet?” and he said “No, I’m just getting energized”. That was an understatement.

After 2 days of MLB Baseball action, Lee almost caught 2 balls, almost wrestled with a Yankee fan over a free tee shirt, we only got crap over our Phillies shirts like 3 times, we got to eat ballpark food that’s so bad it’s good and we got to do something we probably would never be able to afford normally. The experience was awesome and I mean what’s better than a baseball game on a hot summer night?

 

 

The Cyclone rollercoaster was bulit in 1927…and it felt like it was built in 1927.

This past Sunday I hopped a subway train to the end of Brooklyn and walked through the history that is Coney Island. As my feet stepped off of the F and onto the platform, I could feel the warmth of the sun and I could see the Wonder Wheel in the distance. As my friends and I walked the streets, I was immediately hit with the aroma of Nathan’s Orginial Hotdog stand and my eyes were immediately drawn to an appropriately named candy store called “It’s Sugar”. This place was a carnie’s dream come true.
I had my reservations about this place, as most people I had talked to about Coney Island seemed to revert back to times when the beach was ridden with used needles and endless trash. Of course, being a New York City enthusiast and a product of the South I was both intrigued by the grittiness, because I loved the 1970’s movies about the “dirty” city, yet I kept a watchful eye on the sand beneath my feet. Beaches back home are just clean and surrene and you usually don’t leave and have to go get a tetanus shot. I’m happy to report that I saw no needles and it was quite lovely to put down a towel, take in the ocean, know that the beating city was only miles away, and have a little feeling of home.

As the day went on, the people watching got better and better. Dogs with sunglasses paraded up and down the boardwalk with their muscle head Italian owners on the other end of the leash. Teenagers decided that the “work-out” bars were a place where they should instead show off their Olympic skills, except I’m not sure any of them would qualify. Many girls made the decision that their bras would work fine as a bikini top and I felt as though I was watching a women’s lib movement in the making. As an avid people watcher, it was overwhelming and awesome. It was like going to Wal-Mart on a Sunday but better and it trumped any county fair I’ve ever been to.

Then came the rides. Well one ride…The Cyclone. The Cyclone, along with the Wonder Wheel, are the only 2 historical rides that are still running at Coney Island today. As we sat on the beach we could hear screams echo from the Cyclone. I thought “It’s a wooden rollercoaster that was made in the 1920’s, how bad can it be?” Now mind you, I’ve ridden a wooden roller coaster, Dollywood’s Tennessee Torando is no joke, so I should have known what was coming. First, I had to take my Rose Du Witt Bukater from Titanic photo in front of the Cyclone. Priorities. Next came the historical part. We bought our tickets and as I was tagging along for the day with my friend and her boyfriend, I took a seat in this wooden, probably not inspected in 19 years, car. I wasn’t scared…and then the damn thing took off. I can honestly say that in 25 years of riding rides, I have never experienced a rougher ride than the Cyclone. I’m pretty sure there are statitcs of Flappers in the 1920’s either dying or having serious head injuries…I did not see a historical landmark sign with this information. As my body flung from one side of the car to the other, I spent my time on this ride trying not to get a concusion, trying to take it in and think to myself “This is History! Enjoy It?” and the other part I spent thinking that this ride must be 10 minutes long. After I gathered myself, we passed the giftshop with $5 commemorative tees…not one of them said “I survived The Cyclone”…so I did not get a tee. Thank God I didn’t eat Nathan’s before I tackled this moment and I decided to save Wonder Wheel for when Lee is with me just because now I’m wary of any ride built before Busch Gardens came to be.

As we piled on to the train at the end of the day, I realized that there’s beauty and terrible in most things and it all comes down to how we want to see things. I enjoyed my time at Coney and next time I won’t look down for the needles so much.