Category Archives: movies

Long time, no blog

I know the “too busy to blog” excuse is getting lame.  But it’s true.  I was hoping to write some proper blog posts, but since some of you like lists (shout out to Harley Quinn— I loved your last comment!), I figured I’d save myself the trouble of actually having to write anything.

In the last week and a half or so I:

  • Witnessed masked Mexican wrestling in Chicago.  It was awesome.
  • Tasted cucumber-flavored candy.  It was awful.
  • Learned that you really can’t just miss your connecting flight or your entire ticket is invalidated.
  • Re-booked my ticket.  Twice.
  • Got hit on by a Greek waiter in Chicago and a Mexican bar patron in Minneapolis.
  • Spent entirely too much time on Sporcle.  Finally learned the correct spelling of Kazakhstan.  It comes in handy.
  • Ate some killer Malaysian food in MPLS.  Heard a great (albeit very broken) story about a fire in a Malaysian place in Chicago.
  • Witnessed and responded to an on-the-job accident. Not real common in my line of work.
  • Learned I like tamales.
  • Congratulated a friend on her recent engagement. Yay Keem!
  • Almost forgot, and then lost, and then found my journal/notebook.
  • Saw Star Trek. Loved it, despite zero familiarity with the original.  Reminded me a lot of Star Wars, actually.  And Lost.
  • Met (and held!) another newborn baby.
  • Picked up a new nickname (which I’m trying HARD to not let stick).
  • Ran my second 5K, less than a month after my first, with no iPod. After being gone for a week and out drinking the night before.
  • Mowed my lawn immediately after the 5K.  Bad idea.
  • Learned that I was selected to be a Nielsen “family.”  I can’t wait to report my 2.5 hours of TV watching a week.
  • Improved my ability to ride public transportation.
  • Received a comped dessert because dinner took so long.  Waited about 20 mins for said dessert.
  • Had multiple weird conversations about weight loss.  Including one that started with “I hope you’re not offended, but…”  Um, no, not offended!
  • Took a photo next to a statue of Mary Tyler Moore.
  • Met a friend’s new boyf.
  • Spent Mother’s Day with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law. Against our advice, my mom insisted on having it at her house and making all the food.
  • Ran in Chicago.  Gave unsuspecting motorist directional advice.  Felt really bad afterward.
  • Attended a baby shower and graduation party.
  • Received invitations to two other baby showers.
  • Witnessed teachers literally FIGHTING over free books.
  • Engaged in some tipsy shopping.  Bought books and a belt between happy hour and an awesome wine-fueled dinner.

Things I haven’t done

  • unpacked
  • watched last week’s Lost
  • slept, at least not much

My Oscar Picks

I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to do my annual fashion re-cap this year.  I might try live-blogging… or I might just sit in front of the TV with my computer so that I’m not transcribing my notes tomorrow at work (shhh….).  At any rate, there will be some sort of fashion coverage, but Iwanted to include my picks for the actual awards.

Full disclosure:  I haven’t seen many of this year’s nominated movies, so some of my picks are either by default or are based on a “body of work” rationale. I realize this isn’t exactly “legal,” but I’m not exactly a member of the Academy, am I??  

Best Picture

I have to go with Slumdog Millionaire.  It’s the only film in this category that I’ve seen and yes, it’s that good.  I really wanted to try to see Milk and Benjamin Button before the awards, but I haven’t had a chance.  I’d be okay if either of those won.   I’m not, however, rooting for The Reader, mostly because I despise Harvey Weinstein.  

Best Actor

Mickey Rourke all the way. I saw The Wrestler and he was phenomenal in it.  Yeah, one could argue that it’s not such a stretch for him to play a washed-up guy making a comeback, but he gave the performance of his life.   I’d be okay if Sean Penn won. He’s a great actor and I hear that he gives a good performance in Milk.

Best Supporting Actor

I’ll be surprised if anyone other than Heath Ledger wins this.  I still haven’t seen The Dark Knight.  (Letters can be addressed to Carich Blogs c/o Under a Rock, IL), but he deserves the win.   Since I haven’t seen any of the nominated films in this category, I’ll pick Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the runner up.  Just ‘cuz he’s always awesome.

Best Actress

Kate Winslet, The Reader.  There was a bunch of hub-ub about Kate getting the nod for this role and not for Revolutionary Road.  And I’ve already said that I despise Harvey Weinstein.  But Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses and she deserves the win.  I want her to play me in the story of my life (take that, Toni Collette!!).   If Kate doesn’t win it, I’d like to see Anne Hathaway come home with a trophy.  She’s had a bad year and I don’t want Angelina Jolie to win, Meryl Streep is too obvious and I’ve never heard of Melissa Leo.

Best Supporting Actress

This one’s a toss-up:  I liked Marissa Tomei’s performance in The Wrestler but I’m not really sure it’s Oscar-worthy.  I didn’t see V icky Christina Barcelona,  but I want to.  And I like Penelope Cruz’s accent.  So, either one of them would be fine.   Or Amy Adams. I like her too…

Best Director

Again, this is pretty subjective ‘cuz I’ve only seen one of the movies, but I think I’d like to see David Fincher win for Benjamin Button. It’s hard to take a short story and make it into a believable 3+ hour movie.  Plus, I don’t see this film winning in any other categories, so let’s throw him a bone.    Runners up:  Danny Boyle for Slumdog, ‘cuz everyone likes a good underdog story or Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon, ‘cuz Opie Taylor is still pretty cute, even if he’s now a big-time director.

The Rest of the Categories

I’d like to see Wall*E win for original screenplay, but it will probably go to Milk.  I hope Benjamin Button wins for adapted screenplay and one of the songs from Slumdog wins for best song (they have 2 of the 3 noms, so it’s likely).  Other than that, I have no clue.  But I’ll be watching!

30 days of 30: Week 3

I’m almost on the home stretch in my 30 days of 30.  Here’s how week 3 played out:

Monday–   Drinks at Boltini with Scott, Kurt & Charlie.  I was drinking Pear Gimlets, which I fully intent to re-create at home with the Pear vodka I got as a gift.

Scott got me a book of T.S. Eliot poems to help me with my resolution to appreciate poetry.  Kurt photocopied a poem for me later in the week, too.  Books are some of the most thoughtful/personal gifts you can give someone, especially if it’s something you enjoy. I’ve been reading the poems before I go to bed and I’ve certainly gained a better appreciation for the craft.  

Food Note: I highly recommend the goat cheese crostini and the pretzel “fondue.”  Not your average bar food, but oh-s0-good!

Tuesday–  Dinner with Kelli D. at Olive Garden.  Kelli is a childhood friend of mine.  We recently re-connected and through the magic of facebook we stay in pretty close contact. But it was nice to see her in prson for a change and to get an update on her kids, work, etc. It was her first day going back to working nights after being off for a long time, so I’m glad we were able to hang out, even for a little bit.  

Wednesday– Dinner and drinks at Flat Top with Bridget.   She got me the coolest Juno card.  It speaks the line about being cool w/o even trying when you open it.  Awesome!   We then went back to her house for the LOST premiere.  We’re both huge fans and it was nice to watch with someone as crazy, er, dedicated as me!  I also got the opportunity to meet her super-cool boyfriend and their dog Oscar.  Fun night (once we figured out how to open the wine bottle. lol.)

Food note:  We didn’t have dessert at Flat Top, but the guys next to us had some sort of molten chocolate/ice cream concoction.  It looked soooooo good.  I never have room for dessert when I go there, but it might be worth a try.

Thursday–  This was officially Erin’s day since we missed our date earlier this month.  I had lunch with my besties– Steph, Erin, Kim at Houlihan’s.   Including me, this represented half of the email circle, so I guess you could say we had a quarum.   It’s never a dull moment with those girls and I love them dearly.   

Friday– Bobbi and I had planned on going to see The Dark Knight because it was allegedly going to be re-released in the theaters this weekend.I even held off watching it on DVD because I was excited to see it on the big screen.  But apparently it’s not playing here.  So Bobbi, Cory, and I did our usual Friday night happy hour at Bunny’s.  I met their friend Jamie, who was super nice. It was fun and low-key and just what the doctor ordered!

Saturday–  Because of the (relatively) early Friday night, I was uber-productive Saturday during the day.  Then I went to Fat City to celebrate Kristin and Muffy’s birthdays.  It was good to see everyone, but I think I might (gasp!) be getting a little sick of the bar scene.  Shocking, I know!

Sunday–  No one had signed up for today, and I was okay with that.  Cory and I talked about maybe going bowling, but decided to wait for another day when more people could come.  

I stayed in bed reading until noon.  My mom came up to deliver my computer desk (a  Christmas present that was still at her house!), we went to lunch and I’ve been reading, writing, and messing around online ever since.  So, I’m officially marking this day on my 30 days of 30 calendar as Cari day!

2008: A Year in Review, Part 2

Welcome to the 2nd half of my year. I just realized that I probably should’ve done these in reverse chronological order, but whatever.

July–I took my blog public, making it a whole lot easier to remember what I did for the rest of the year.  I also started biking to work and we had Kristi’s Bachelorette Party Boat Trip:



August– I took two vacations this month, plus a Tour de Philo.  First up was my staycation and then a second trip to Nawlins for Kristi’s wedding:



September— I started running, became obsessed with Mad Men and reconnected with an old friend via Facebook.  We also had Bunco at Erin’s in conjunction with Philo Fest, but-unfortunately- I have no corresponding photos :-(


I do, however, have a photo of this thing that I found on my fence (I know you all needed to see it again)




October– was downright insane.   There was a crazy gas station incidentmy cat died, and I was involved in train accident on the way home from seeing Cross Canadian Ragweed in Carbondale.  To top off the craziness, this was the first year in a long time that I *didn’t* dress up for Halloween.  Odd.


And then there was the trip to Chicago to see the New Kids on the Block:




November– is always a busy month.  This year, I went to San Antonio for work. And had the usual Thanksgiving with the family.  Oh, and there was that whole historic election thing.

I also made a trip to Chicago for Nikki’s Big Ten Bar Crawl:



And attended my only (gasp!) U of I tailgate of the season




Family and friends of Ryann Smith held a benefit in Tuscola and raised a bunch of money. I realize that I haven’t blogged about Ryann at all.  She was born a couple days after Christmas with a rare birth defect called CDH.  She is a fighter.  Please keep her and the family in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to know more, visit her caring bridge page:


I also had Christmases with my Grannie Rich,  my brother, and the rest of my extended family.


(And, because I know you can’t get enough of me and firearms, here’s the infamous gun shot one more time…)



I spent my Christmas break lounging, watching movies (Marley and Me and Seven Pounds), reading (still making it through the Twilight saga… I’ll reserve judgment until I’m finished with all the books), and spending time with friends and family.


I rang in the New Year in Chicago, but failed to take a single photo.  Maybe I should resolve to be a better chronicler this year :)


Reflections on 2008

All in all, the year turned out pretty good.  In some ways, this is one of the hardest years I’ve ever had, but I’ve learned so much.   I’ve learned how to ask for help from those closest to me.  I’ve learned to say “no” on occasion and I’ve learned to enjoy myself in less-than-ideal circumstances. I’ve made some new friends, reconnected with others, and have spent more time with some of my family members than ever before.


This blog has really been a great outlet for me and I appreciate each and every reader, hit, and comment you all have given me.


Here’s to happiness and prosperity in 2009!

2008: The Year in Review, Part 1

I was without internet for a little over a week, so I’m a bit behind on my blogging.  But I didn’t want 2008 to go un-documented, so here is part 1 of my month-by-month account of my life’s activities.   Luckily, I have this handy little blog to help me remember what I did!!

January started with New Year’s eve in Tuscola.
Then it was Cops & Robbers Bunco at Kim’s
And a wine tasting at my house:
February, of course, is my birthday month, what more do you need??
March—  I started blogging, albeit covertly.
We had Bunco at Tonyas:
672I went to Vegas with my family:
And Cooper Philip Pollard was born:
April– I got a new car, saw a baby left alone in a car seat; and Backyard Tire Fire at Highdive; there was an earthquake and Lost came back on the air after a much-too-long writers strike.

I also went to New Orleans for work (yes, there are better pix of this trip, but I’ll just post this one to spare the, uh, innocent!!)

May-–  We celebrated Lisa’s birthday with a happy hour, I went to  Atlanta for work, and took in a stray dog.
My dog had surgery:
I saw Chicago in Peoria with Jen:
And went to St. Louis to celebrate Jeff’s 30th birthday:
June- Can you believe the only thing on my calendar is that I started boot camp? I’m sure there were other things going on, but I didn’t write it down.
So, there you have it– the first 6 months of 2008 as told through photos and blog posts.  I’m sure there are plenty of things that I’m missing, but those are some of the high points.
Stay tuned for part 2 and a New Year’s Resolution post.  Then, it will be back to your regularly scheduled programming :)

Review-a-Palooza: Movies

Due to the rain,* I spent a lot of QCT (quality couch time) this weekend, which means I have a bunch of stuff to review.  I literally gorged myself on an entertainment buffet– movies, TV shows, music, magazines, a book.  I can’t promise I’ll review it all, but  for your first course, let me present:  Movies!

The best movie I saw this weekend was Adaptation, hands down.

As you may recall, I’m a bit obsessed with the storyboard blog over at Wired magazine.  Since the piece is about Charlie Kaufman and Adaptation has been sitting in my Netflix queue for way too long, I decided that I needed to do some background research.

Nicolas Cage stars as a screenwriter (named Charlie Kaufman!) who is adapting a book called The Orchid Thief (yes, it’s a real book) into a movie.   He’s introspective and artistic and is trying to make a movie “about flowers” even though the studio wants him to add romance, drama, and car chases.  Meanwhile, his douche bag brother Don (also played by Nick Cage) is writing a paint-by-numbers thriller script with the help of a screenwriting workshop.

Throughout the course of the movie, we get glimpses into how Kaufman would write The Orchid Thief. Meryl Streep plays Susan Orlean– the author of the book, who is interviewing John Laroche, played by Chris Cooper.   These real-life characters become fictionalized in the book and then re-fictionalized (?) within the context of Kaufman’s movie.

By observing his creative process and struggling to come up with a compelling hook for a film book “about flowers” the fictional Kaufman writes himself into the movie, much like the real-life Kaufman has done by naming the main character after himself.    Although the movie-within-the-movie-based-on-a-real-life-book-based-on-a-true-story plot line may seem a little far-fetched, it works beautifully on the screen. It becomes not only a compelling story, but also an in-depth critique of movie making, Hollywood, “human nature,” and the creative process.

The title itself takes on a double meaning as well. Adaptation is-on one level-about the process of adapting a book for the screen, but it’s also about the evolutionary/Darwinian concept of evolution– how orchids (and people) adapt and change to survive within their environments. It’s really profound and deep and a bid mind-blowing, in a “WTF just happened?” sort of way.

This movie absolutely blew me away.  It’s one of those films that you keep thinking about long after it’s over.  I’ll definitely re-watch this one and it has earned a permanent place on my “favorite movies” list.  If you haven’t seen it, rent it now.  If you have, I’d love to discuss it with you.  It rocked my world.

I Also Watched . . .

Sweeney Todd

Full disclosure: I went into this movie with a bunch of pre-conceived notions.  On one hand, there’s the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp pairing, which I usually love.  On the other hand, it’s violent and a musical which I don’t tend to like at all.  On the other-other hand, I have a friend who has been singing the praises of Sweeney Todd since, well, since I met him.  So I had to decide for myself.

The best thing I can say about the movie is its exactly what I expected.  Johnny Depp was perfect in a role that’s part Edward Scissorhands, part Captain Jack Sparrow, part that guy from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Helena Bonham Carter was ideal as Mrs. Lovett, yet she looked exactly like her character in Big Fish and the little boy (who was also in Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp) was wonderful.  The sets and cinematography were pure Tim Burton-dark, gloomy, creepy, and gorgeous.

The violence and singing didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would, with one small exception. I couldn’t hear/understand the words as they were being sung.  I even turned on my closed captioning at one point.  For a movie where so much of the drama occurs through lyrics, it was crucial that I could hear the characters singing, which I couldn’t.

All in all, it was an enjoyable and entertaining movie, but it probably won’t go down as one of my favorites.

Batman Begins

I originally rented this movie to watch during my Staycation thinking I’d watch it and then go see The Dark Knight.  I fell asleep the first time I tried to watch it and never made it to The Dark Knight, so I decided to give it another chance this weekend.

It was good, but not knock-my-socks-off good.  I’m not a huge fan of the Batman franchise. I remember being super excited about the first movie with Jack Nicholson as the Joker (back in 1989–man, I’m old), but I all I remember about the other movies is that they were made into Happy Meal toys and rides at Six Flags.

So, in that respect, I was glad to see a darker, more introspective Batman movie and it was good to get the “creation story.”  I thought Katie Holmes did a really good job and I now have a crush on both Christian Bale AND Michael Caine (weird!).  As far as superhero movies go, it was one of the best… but I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies.  I’m anxious to see  how The Dark Knight continues this story and whether or not it lives up to the hype.

Wait ‘Til Next Year: The Saga of the Chicago Cubs

Interesting documentary on the Cubs’ famous losing streak including the 1984 season (which I don’t remember) and the 2003 season (which I distinctly do). It’s playing on HBO On Demand now and is good viewing for any Cubs fan, but doesn’t present anything we don’t already know.

(I also watched part of the game on Sunday where Zambrano threw that no-hitter, which was WAY more exciting!)

No Reservations

Another movie in the “exactly what I expected” category, except in this case my expectations were admittedly lower.  The story centers around Kate (Catherine Zeta Jones), who is an executive chef at a fancy New York restaurant.  Her sister dies leaving her to take care of her niece, played by Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame.   Kate is famously stand-offish when it comes to relationships and is infuriated when her boss hires a new know-it-all sous-chef, played by Aaron Eckhart. 

[Spoiler Alert!] They begrudgingly fall in love until there’s some sort of fall-out about the restaurant.  A mini-crisis with the kid reunites them and they live a culinary happily-ever-after. It’s a perfect “waste away the afternoon while you have nothing else to do kind of movie,” but it’s not exactly original.


*And while we’re on the subject of rain… I know it sucks, but let’s think about the people in Texas, who have it a lot worse than we do.  Like my friend Hannah, who is in Houston and has been blogging from her phone to keep everyone updated on her safety.  Let’s send the good people of Texas some happy thoughts. They need it!

It’s been a while…

I haven’t done one of these freewrites for a while.  As usual, I have lots of stuff going through my head.

My dog has to have surgery.

I hope I’m making the right choice.

I  don’t have any money.

How did I manage to piss away my entire stimulus check without knowing it?  I

‘m trying to do some laundry. I need to clean. I have no plans for the long weekend.

There are countless unread books and unwatched movies at my house.

I’m bored at work.

I had a fun weekend, but I’m still not caught up on my sleep.

I’m having weird stomach issues.

I hate cold sores.

The dryer is buzzing.

I don’t want to go to work.

I’m annoyed by my coworkers.

My office is a mess.

I’m not smoking.

I’m probably drinking more.

My friend’s dad died, but I’m not sure the details yet.

I want to write a blog about why I heart Lost.

There were lots of inaccuracies in my last Lost blog.

I’ve had more interesting things to say before.

But I can’t seem to think of any now.

I don’t know how to fill up this 15 minutes.

So I’ll stop.

It’s Friday, Craig

Why is it that every time Friday rolls around I inveriably start quoting Friday, the stoner movie starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker?

“It’s Friday, Craig… You ain’t got a job. You ain’t got SHIT to do”

I don’t even particularly like this movie.  Sure, I watched it a million times in my friends dorm room in college, with the towel placed strategically under the door and the dryer sheet over the toilet paper roll so the RA wouldn’t “bust” us.

But now I’m 29 years old.  I *do* have a job.  I have *plenty*  of shit to do.  But quotes from that movie continuously pop into my head every Friday.  Hmmm…..

Someone has a case of the Tuesdays!

Remember that classic line in Office Space? The one about having a case of the Mondays? Well, that’s how I feel. Except it’s not Monday. It’s Tuesday.

Let me explain.

It is my contention that Tuesday, not Monday is the worst day of the week. “Why?, ” you ask. Well… because everyone expects Mondays to be shit. So on Sunday night you mentally prepare for Monday morning. Tuesdays, on the other hand, come out of the blue. You make it through the Miserable Monday and you think to yourself “hey, that wasn’t so bad.”

And then you wake up on Tuesday and realize you still still have FOUR more work days. Ugh.

Take this morning for example… I had an uber-productive Monday– work was okay, went to the gym, made some healthy food for the week. Then I woke up this morning to NO POWER. Shit!

I decided that I would go to the gym to shower. And, if I’m gonna shower at the gym I might as well get a workout in. So I packed a bag, went to the gym, worked out, showered, etc. When it was time to get dressed and leave I realized I left my work shoes at home. Crap! So, I had to go home, get my shoes and make it to work. I was only 8 mins late, but my plan was foiled.

After work, I went to a visitation and had dinner with my mom. All in all, a fairly productive day, but still a classic case of the Tuesdays!

Enough already! Media attention and the Warren Jeffs case

I’ll admit it… I’m fascinated by Mormons. No, strike that: I’m fascinated by Mormon Fundamentalists. No, to be fair, I’m fascinated by *any* kind of religious fundamentalism. And I find polygamy interesting.

But all this coverage of the Warren Jeffs scandal is becoming a little much.

I first read about Jeffs compound in Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Framed by a violent murder in one of the fundamentalist sects, this book is a great overview of the history and controversy of the Mormon church, with an emphasis on fundamentalism and polygamy. Krakauer is a great non-fiction writer. He also wrote Into the Wild, on which the Oscar-nominated movie was based and Into Thin Air, a fascinating look at a failed Mt. Everest expedition.

But I digress. As interesting as I find fundamentalism, polygamy, and Mormonism in general, the hype surrounding the story has really gone over the edge. In their never ending quest to report “fresh” content, the media are parading a number of former FLDS church members, families, etc. and interviewing them from every angle possible. I can’t help but think that this has to have a negative impact on the LDS Church.

The “real” Mormon church denounced polygamy a LONG time ago, and now people are inundated with images of FUNDAMENTALIST Mormons, in their prairie skirts and long hair. Even worse, many of these people appear on TV as shell-shocked, un-educated and downright BACKWARDS.

While this might say something about the minority of Mormons who live on compounds, what kind of effect does this have on regular Mormons? Many people don’t know the difference between the LDS and the FLDS church and might think that all Mormons are fundamentalists. Or that they all practice polygamy, which just isn’t the case.

More than that, though, I just feel like these people are being exploited by the media. Yes, there’s serious allegations of abuse. And that should be investigated, but do we have to parade these people out as if they are some sort of freak show attraction?

[stepping off soapbox now]