Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tangled!


Tangled came out on DVD today. Did you get your copy yet? I got mine! You can get it at Target for $15.99!

Here are some interesting facts about the movie:
  • It's Disney's 50th animated film.
  • It's the first CGI musical.
  • It's the most expensive animated film ever made.
  • It's the second highest grossing animated film after The Lion King.

I'm sure part of the reason I like "Tangled" is because I saw it in the theater with one of my nieces, so I already have positive memories associated with it, but I also just liked the story. Rapunzel is locked in a tower for years and years, but what does she do while she's in there? According to Disney, she reads and paints and cleans and gets interested in astronomy. In one of the first songs, Rapunzel asks, "When will my life begin?" But while she's waiting, she is working and learning. She is curious.

She also has freckles. She has wide feet. (When you have big feet, you notice those kinds of things . . .) She doesn't wear a cleavage-bearing dress for the duration of the movie. She has emotional ups and downs. By the end, she has short, brown, sassy hair.

Blame it on my singlehood or my feminist ideology, but I am all for a different kind of princess. I want one who seems like she thinks, and Tangled's Rapunzel does. Sure, she's still beautiful and has a wonderful singing voice, and her love interest is cute and hyper-masculine. I don't know if those characteristics will ever change in movies, nor do I know if I want or need them to. My point is, is that I liked this movie for the same reasons that I liked Shrek when I saw it -- it takes a princess and makes her modest and smart and strong. And it does it by being as real as an animated movie can be.

And it's funny.

Buy it! Or watch it! Or both!


Thing I'm thankful for: carwashes

Monday, March 28, 2011

Open Letter to JavaScript

Dear JavaScript,

I recognize the need for you in today's world of Web interactivity, but I really hate you right now.


Unaffectionately,
Sara


Thing I'm thankful for: people who know how to properly code

Friday, March 25, 2011

On Sleep, or Not Getting Enough of It

Sometimes I forget what it feels like to dream because vivid dreams typically occur during REM cycles of sleep. I have gotten 7 hours of sleep for the last two nights, though, and I had the most incredible dreams. When I woke up this morning from a dream, I thought, "I need to get more sleep." Can you believe it? It's a sad state of affairs when dreams remind you that you haven't been getting enough sleep . . .

The CDC recently published an article about the effects of sleep deprivation: Effect of Short Sleep Duration on Daily Activities. A couple of friends forwarded it to me because it reminded them of me, and maybe in some way, they wanted to let me know what not getting enough sleep was doing to my body.

Here's the thing: I know what sleep deprivation does. I could've told the CDC what the short-term effects of sleep deprivation are, and then they wouldn't have had to spend the money on collecting and analyzing sleep data. I could have told them that not getting enough sleep leads to the following adverse health effects:
  • Diminished ability to focus on a task, mental or physical
  • Diminished ability to say no to sugary foods
  • Neck and lower back soreness
  • Unhealthy-looking skin
  • Dark under-eye circles
  • Itchy, dry eyes that can actually really, really hurt
  • Problems going to the bathroom (Look, this is an honest list.)
  • Dreamless sleep
Why do I continue to not get enough sleep, you ask? The honest answer is that I don't know why. Every night, I somehow think that not getting enough sleep will be okay. That I'm perfectly alert (well, almost) at 2 in the morning, and 5 hours is plenty of sleep. In fact, it's more than enough! Heck, while I'm at it, I'm doing pretty good; I may as well just watch one more episode of "30 Rock," or get one more TED Talk in. Also, I'm going to be so busy doing schoolwork tomorrow, I may as well get the nitty-gritty done tonight, such as cleaning my room. The list goes on and on.

You get used to functioning on minimal sleep, too. In fact, I'm convinced I could've been an emergency room surgeon because I'm so good at living on less sleep.

And yet, in the morning, when I'm covering the dark circles with concealer, I never fail to regret my lack of sleep. I never think, "Oh, that 4 hours of sleep was so good! I'm so prepared for the day now!" Similarly, I never regret getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep, even if it means I didn't get all of my homework done. The real kicker is this: If I am so good at living on less sleep, what could I accomplish if I were well-rested???

It's an interesting question, and I'm willing to investigate the answer. It's going to be a tough, actually. Really tough. Drug rehabilitation centers recommend that less than 90 days of treatment results in limited to no effect. I'll treat my sleep deprivation the same. I'm giving myself 90 days of treatment. It will be hard, considering that this is the last month and a half of the semester, but I'm going to try . . .

I'll let you know how it goes.


Thing I'm thankful for: my sisters

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SXSW, the End

South by Southwest has come and gone, but I still have a handful of pictures to share with you . . .

I love cinema, so I had to try to see at least one film last week. Although there were about 20 movies I wanted to see, I narrowed it down to a few documentaries, and then because of some scheduling conflicts, I finally picked just one. I decided on Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey.* Lemme tell you, it was excellent! It premiered at Sundance, and a few reviews I read beforehand said it would bring people to tears. I seriously doubted that, but ummm . . . those reviewers were right. (How did they know me so well?)

The documentary played downtown, at The Paramount, which is an old theater that was build just before the Golden Age of Hollywood, in 1915.


It's one of those fancy theaters, with classical murals, rich wallpaper, red carpet, and gilding all over the place.


Did you catch that hole next to the painting? An usher told me Harry Houdini used it in a stunt, once upon a time.


After SXSW movie screenings, the directors, producers, and actors will typically answer questions from the audience for about 15 minutes. Sometimes they are all there, sometimes it's only part of the movie-making crew. In this instance, it was the videographers and composer.


After the show, I met up with my sister's good friend, Collin. Collin is getting a master's degree in animation and film, and he was in town just for SXSW. For the premiere of one of his music videos!

We stuffed ourselves on burgers, shakes, and fries, Rudy's Bar-B-Q, and Blue Bell ice cream. And we also wore pink. :)


What a fun week. Sometime I'm going to save up money to buy a badge for the whole festival, and I'll see all the movies and music I want!

*Being Elmo was truly worth watching. If you can watch it, do. I liked it so much, I might even dedicate an entire post to it soon.


Thing I'm thankful for: being able to change

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interesting Video from National Geographic




Thing I'm thankful for: clean water

SXSW, Part 2

South by Southwest always includes some free concerts, and tonight, it was The Strokes, one of my all-time favorite bands! The last time I saw them was waaay back in 2006, and I saw them for free then, too! (See The Strokes: "First Impressions of Earth" Promo Tour.)

In the past, they've always played at medium-sized venues, but tonight's concert was at an outdoor auditorium, aptly named Auditorium Shores. There were thousands of people there, for sure. People had been gearing up for the last two weeks. In fact, last week, I had one of my Strokes t-shirts on, and a few random strangers asked me whether I was going to the concert. When I said yes, they'd say some nice (albeit improbable) thing, such as, "Cool! Maybe I'll see you there!"

Anyway, I got to the concert early with Holly, Angie, and Arturo:




The concert was wonderful, as expected. The Strokes didn't get famous for nothing. Their shows are always awesome. I actually forgot that -- and forgot just how much I love The Strokes and concerts in general -- so I ended up not getting thisclose to the stage, although I easily could have. By the time the music started, I was kicking myself for not getting in the inner circle with the rest of the die-hard Strokes fans. Hardly anybody was dancing where my friend Gretchen and I were . . . :/


Did I mention that I love The Strokes? The energy from their music really gets me going. In fact, they're my go-to band when I'm about to walk into a party and need to feel cool. :) Well, that kind of energy was there tonight. They played a good mix of old and new songs, fast and slow. In fact, I think they played a couple songs from each of their four albums. A lot of big bands don't do that anymore . . . For the last song, they played "Last Night," and as they did, fireworks shot up into the sky. It was great! Fireworks make everything better . . .


Auditorium Shores is right next to Lady Bird Lake, which was previously known as Town Lake and still called that by Austinites. It's really beautiful, actually, especially at night.


All in all, it was a fun St. Paddy's Day. I'd do it again. :)


Thing I'm thankful for: my sister, who reminds me how much better concerts are when you're front and center and dancing like crazy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SXSW, Part 1

Tonight, my friend Gretchen and I saw Sondre Lerche at The Stage on 6th Street.* (In case you're wondering, Sondre Lerche is Norwegian, and his name sounds like "SON-drah LER-ka.") His music was featured in the movie Dan in Real Life, and ever since I saw that movie, I liked his stuff. He uses a lot of minor chords and notes in his music, which I really love. Also, his music sounds happy, which I also love.

The show was great! He played a mix of acoustic and electric songs, and he seemed genuinely surprised that we clapped for him so loudly at the end of each. :)





After the show, we stayed at the same venue to watch Eisley for a few songs.


Most of the night, though, was actually spent just walking around downtown and trying to get into more shows. Unfortunately, those shows cost money. (Whereas Sondre Lerche and Eisley were free, thanks to Paste, an Atlanta-based company.) :)

We stopped at a hat shop and tried on hats . . .
Here I am pretending to be Texan:


And here's Gretchen pretending to be Southern:


Now, I can't fully express to you the magnitude of the crowd at SXSW. As I mentioned in SXSW, an Introduction, 6th Street -- well, several blocks of it -- is closed off from traffic. People just walk down the street willy-nilly.


Here's a video, which only begins to capture the amount and diversity of people you encounter at SXSW:

video

At SXSW, there are thousands of concerts and film screenings and conferences and parties. In all honesty, I find it to be quite overwhelming. In a way, I feel obligated to attend as many events as possible, since I am here and so many of my music- and film-loving friends are not. But it's all kind of a blur, and there's really no way I can see (or pay for!) everything I want. I think I'll save up for a badge next year, though . . . And then I'll really have things to post!


*To my Atlanta friends: Sondre Lerche is playing at The Variety Playhouse on Saturday, June 11. If you've never been to The Variety Playhouse, go! It's my favorite venue in the city!


Thing I'm thankful for: Cadbury Creme Eggs!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SXSW, an Introduction

If you care a lot about music, movies, or interactive media, then you should know about SXSW, or "South by" as it is often referred to here in Austin. It stands for "South by Southwest," and it's an annual, week-long event of conferences and festivals. (It's also the name of the private company that hosts the event.) It began in 1987. Here's an interesting excerpt from the Web site:
The classic problem facing Austin musicians was being isolated from the rest of the world here in the middle of Texas. SXSW was a way to reach out to the rest of the world, and bring them here to do business. To do that successfully, SXSW needed to appeal to people other than local artists whether they were from Austin, Ft. Worth, Chicago, Toronto, Munich or Tokyo.
It's true: Austin is in the middle of nowhere. But if the creators of SXSW wanted to put it on the map, they did. In 1987, there were 700 registrants; now, there are about 17,000. It shows, too. Traffic is horrible this week! On the plus side, I ran into a couple from Montreal, who came for the conference. That's pretty neat. :)

A small group of girls invited me to people-watch with them in downtown Austin on Saturday. Things were just starting to gear up for the big event. Here are some pictures:

There was a random carousel in the middle of downtown. It was a marketing ploy for I don't even remember what company . . . Hm. Looks like their marketing didn't work.


Aubrey, Kendyl, and Jenna:


Holly, Aubrey, and Kendyl:


In the same parking lot as the carousel was the Firefox trailer. We got free Firefox t-shirts and free ice cream sandwiches. Now that's good marketing. Check out the names of their ice cream sandwiches! Brilliant!


Below, Aubrey is holding a Chilla from Mozilla, which is a fancy way of saying "Salted chocolate cookies with orange sherbet."


We walked around for a long time. Here, you can see the infamous 6th Street. Sixth Street is lined with bars. Every Friday through Sunday, it's blocked off from traffic because it's easier for cops to block the street, than to contain hundreds of drunk people.

I tried to capture the energy of 6th Street, but I had to keep up the pace with the girls I was with. I may have to go back later when I have more time . . . Then again, 6th Street is kind of gross on the weekends. This may be the only picture you get.


And here's your standard postcard shot of the Texas State Capitol, which incidentally, is 7 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol. (Oh, Texas . . . Why are you so proud???)



Thing I'm thankful for: just being alive, I guess.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Texas Just Got Better


Before you can understand the positive, I have to explain the negative.

H-E-B is a large grocery chain in Texas. You might think it's pronounced "heb." It's not. It's pronounced like an acronym: "H-E-B." It stands for "Here everything's better." (No, they don't include a comma after "here." Pfhh.) In my two months of living here, I have found that at H-E-B, not everything is better. In fact, the produce section at my neighborhood H-E-B is terrible. Most of it is ugly and overripe. I had reconciled myself to shopping there, thinking that maybe I was just spoiled from the Kosher Kroger in Atlanta. :/

And then . . .

And then Holly told me about Randall's. I thought Whole Foods was my only other grocery option, and I didn't want to shop there on a regular basis because as we all know, it's rather pricey. Lo and behold, there is another option! Randall's is just what I was looking for! It's super-clean! It has appetizing produce! It has my favorite type of shredded wheat cereal! It has free recipe cards! (I snagged about 50 of them!) It has track lighting and polished floors!

I signed up for a Randall's card immediately.


Thing I'm thankful for: Skype dates

Friday, March 11, 2011

Love at First Sight

It's been all fun and games for the last couple of posts . . . Girl Scout cookies this, and Girl Scout cookies that. But it's time for some serious talk. About love.

Today my brother posted this on his blog:
Why love at first sight is a sham.

I couldn't agree with him more. I think it is, too. I'm sure I've mentioned it before on my blog . . . But I don't think it can be said too many times . . . :)


Thing I'm thankful for: Spring Break!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Girl Scout Cookie Taste Test, Part 2

Yesterday, I e-mailed the results of the Girl Scout Cookie Taste Test to Girl Scouts of the USA. This was their response:

Thank you for your message bringing this to our attention. We will be happy to relay it to the appropriate department and to the Bakers.

Thanks again for contacting Girl Scouts.

I seriously hope they will actually relay the information. And I hope something good comes out of this . . . "Something good" = better cookies for everyone. :)


Thing I'm thankful for: lunching outside in the sun!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Girl Scout Cookie Taste Test


Yes, I realize I write at least a couple posts per year on Girl Scout Cookies. But this one's different. THIS one is about the taste test my sister and I conducted when I went home to Georgia a couple of weeks ago. (Was this test one of the main events of my visit? You betcha.)

I've told you that ABC Bakers is better than Little Brownie Bakers. (See Girl Scout Cookies Reloaded.) I'm publicly admitting here that I was wrong. It totally depends on the individual cookie.

We only tested four cookies, but check out the results! (In each picture, the Little Brownie Bakers cookie is on the left, and the ABC Bakers cookie is on the right.)

Thin Mints
Little Brownie Bakers: 3 in favor
ABC Bakers: 6 in favor (but more like 9, if you include the more informal test we completed two years ago)

I feel strongly that this test needs to be re-done. With mint flavor, it makes a huge difference in the test if the weaker mint cookie is eaten first. I didn't make sure everyone ate the cookies in the same order . . .


Samoas/Caramel Delights

LBB: 9 in favor
ABC: None in favor

Everyone agreed that the coconut on the Samoas was toastier, and there was more of it. Additionally, the dark chocolate complemented the coconut much better.


Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties

LBB: 1 in favor
ABC: 8 in favor

To be fair, a couple testers thought the texture of the Tagalongs were better. On flavor, though, the majority liked the Peanut Butter Patties.


(Notice the difference in thickness!)


Do-Si-Dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich
LBB: None in favor
ABC: 9 in favor

Similar to the other peanut butter-flavored cookie, some liked the texture of the Do-Si-Dos better. The best in flavor, though, was the Peanut Butter Sandwich, hands-down.


Overall Score
If you live in an area that sells Little Brownie Bakers cookies, buy the Samoas.* If you live in an area that sells ABC Bakers cookies, buy the Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches.

Girl Scouts of America, take note!


*From my own experience, I will also recommend that you buy the Lemon Chalet Cremes from Little Brownie Bakers as well. Do not buy Lemonades from ABC Bakers.


Thanks to my family, the taste testers. I'm glad you found it as fascinating as I did. :)


Thing I'm thankful for: thunder!

Censorship and "The King's Speech"

I read an interesting article today about the re-release of The King's Speech as a PG-13 movie. The article is written mostly in the perspective of Kirt Merrill, a Utahn who used to own a video-editing company. That is, he edited profanity, sex, and violence out of movies to make them "family-friendly." Big-name Hollywood directors threatened to sue him and other video-editing companies if they continued their work.

Now, he's shocked that The Weinstein Company is editing "The King's Speech" and re-releasing it. I, personally, am not quite sure where I stand on this issue, but it's interesting at any rate. There are just so many perspectives in this world . . . And somehow, most of them seem to make sense.

Anyway, read the article; it's good!
Hypocritical Hollywood?


Thing I'm thankful for: simple hellos and smiles