Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Me and Netflix are BFFs Again!

Remove the kids and the dude, and this will be an accurate reflection of my home viewing pleasure of Netflix on TV.
While I'm sitting on pins and needles awaiting word from TIFF's accreditation department, I signed up again with Netflix after a year and a half separation. Previously, I got so tired of bad streaming problems, and waiting for weeks on end for a popular DVD, I just up and quit Netflix in early 2012. Eventually I would go back to them, but I needed a break. And last September, I bought a blu-ray player for my birthday, and it has an internet feature on it which would allow me to stream Netflix videos via my TV. Finally, just this past weekend, I noticed that Netflix has a one month free membership trial - so I figured now was the perfect time to test my blu-ray. And you know what, it works brilliantly!

I don't watch TV, I just use the TV to watch DVDs on it, but now with Netflix, I am able to pick and choose my own programming in a way that cable does not PERMIT (i.e, a la carte) the consumer the option of - choosing what to watch and paying just for that. I will never go back to cable, especially now that Netflix ironed out some much talked about issues. So now I will get up to speed on The Walking Dead, Dexter and True Blood, and many other films. I will get DVDs as well, and my first one arrived today : Despicable Me. Yea I know, it's an animation, but I hear that Despicable Me 2 is very, very funny so I want to see the first one.

I'm very happy with my new Netflix arrangement, and it's so cool to watch the entire Season II of The Walking Dead over a span of several days instead of weeks. I will start Season III immediately afterwards, dang, it's not available yet.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ten Years of TIFF

It has been announced today by the Toronto International Film Festival, the first batch of films that will be screening at the 38th annual festival, Sept 5-15th. This particular festival is special for me because this is my 10th year in a row - my first festival was in 2004 and I remember it like it was yesterday. I drove there and saw just two films, but it was a new excuse to visit Toronto. This year, one film in particular has been on my radar long before it finished filming. Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave' will not only be screened at TIFF, but it will have its World Premiere at the festival.

The movie was not ready in time for Cannes, and it will not be viewed at the Venice film festival, which occurs a week prior to TIFF. Along with the movie being pushed up two months from Dec 27th to October 18th, the studio for TYAS, FoxSearchlight, apparently wants to handle this film in a more Go for the Glory Gold (aka Oscar), than it did in the promotion for the NC-17 branded 'Shame' in 2011.

'12 Years a Slave' starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (L) and Michael Fassbender (R).
However, along with '12 Years', there are a few film titles that grabbed my attention:

The Fifth Estate - Bill Condon director, Benedict Cumberbatch - Festival opening film
Devil's Knot - story about West Memphis Five
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Idris Elba
Blue is the Warmest Color - Palme d'Or winner
Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron - Sandra Bullock
Only Lovers Left to Live - Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston - Parts filmed in Detroit

These are just the top few I'm thinking about. I'm anxiously awaiting news from the TIFF accreditation department to see if I can get credentialed this year. Sadly, I'm prepared to be denied, but I have a glimmer of hope... (fingers crossed).

For the entire listing of the announced films, go to Tiff.net and read the synopsis of each film. You can also read a great article on the TIFF announcements at Variety.

Meanwhile over in England....

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Prince of Cambridge

It is an exciting day as the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, gave birth to a BOY today at 4:24 pm GMT. They waited several hours before releasing a statement to the press. As I have stated many times before, I'm an American infatuated with British life and history, so that makes me an Anglophile, and it's been fun waiting for this day. The yet to be named Prince will one day be King in approximately 60-70 years from now. I will not be alive to see him ascend to the throne, but it's nice to be around to see William have his first child as I was a teen myself when he was born. I feel patriotic right now... well, as much as an American can for this happy occasion in England.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ann Arbor Art Fair Time!

I like it when the Ann Arbor Art Fair comes to town. Even though I don't buy anything from the artists, I like looking at them, and it allows me to support local businesses. I leave it up to the out of towners to buy art from the fair. But this is not to say that I don't appreciate some of the art that I see, and one image just below, a scene of Paris, was something I wish I could afford.

As years go by, it seems that more commercial ventures are at the fair pimping their products... totally taking away attention from the hard working and creative artists. I saw a lot of restaurants taking up street spots to spread out their outside dining services to accommodate visitors. This is smart and I especially love what Lena did. They spent a pretty penny on their outdoor furniture. It would be nice if they could do this for the weekends (Downtown A2 is very busy), talk about making room for more diners and making more money.

And as usual, I was able to make a pit stop at Lily Grace to get some Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser. with my sister's wedding coming up, I want to look as good as possible. Here's some art that caught my eye.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Justice, One Day

Of course I have been aware of the Trayvon Martin / Zimmerman case and I patiently waited to see what the Florida trial would determine. Like many people, I shake my head in shame and disgust. A person got off Scot-free for Starting an argument with a kid, and Ending it with a bullet wound into said kid. Sadly, in this gun crazy country, many kids of all backgrounds get shot daily, but most are young black kids and it's terribly disheartening. What the Florida court said was basically that you can question, harass, stalk, start and fight with, and shoot a person walking through your neighborhood who doesn't "look like" they live there.

Someone posted the following comment at a gossip site I visit for celebrity gossip, and I do hope there is some truth to this speculation.

Someone posted this on a gossip forum that I read and I hope what they say is right:

My father is a retired state supreme court judge and he told me before the trial that Zimmerman wouldn't be found guilty. I figured he was wrong on this one and bet him $100 on it. Right after the verdict the other day I went over to pay on the lost bet. He told me that federal prosecutors would be looking into it, and they probably had been looking into it 'unofficially' since the beginning of the trial. He also said that he feels that the federal prosecutors really want to go after Zimmerman. He thinks they (the Federal Prosecutors) have a much better chance of conviction since they have already had one trial and Zimmerman's lawyers gave it everything they had because it wasn't an open and shut case with the trial a mere formality. The Feds know Zimmerman's lawyers whole strategy now and they also know where the local prosecutors went wrong. He said if the Feds take the case (and he thinks they will) it's because they are 99% sure that they will win. He asked if I wanted to bet on the Feds taking the case to try to win my money back, this time I think I'm a little bit smarter about betting against him.
One last bit of info, Dad said that the Feds would likely ask for the longest prison sentence available for the crime. He also told me that the Federal Penitentiaries have done away with "good time" and parole and probation. So if he's convicted Zimmerman will do every single day that the judge sentences him to.
Here's hoping he's right.
by: Anonymousreply 307/15/2013 @ 03:59AM

What do you think? I think Justice needs to be reviewed in this case because Zimmerman was the only survivor in an altercation that he started with a kid holding a bag of Skittles. I have no desire to visit Florida at the time being, or in the near future. That state is such a political pool of a mess and I will not give them my tourist dollars. Stand your ground? Well, I'll stand on ground in other states and countries thank you!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A $500 Personal Trainer

It looks like I got a new job just in time! Just one week ago, I started a new job, and the following day, I signed a contract at the One on One gym in Ann Arbor. A few years ago, I was at the gym 3-4x a week working out for nearly 2 hours. I was in tip top bikini shape. A layoff forced me to cut back on expenses, so the gym membership had to go. The following year, due to stress and a very difficult physical job, I lost weight and was hovering around the 117 lbs mark. At 5' 3", that's an ok weight, but I'm most comfortable at 125, I look and feel my best. However, fast-forward a few years, eating foods that I should not be eating, and not working out half as much and as rigorously as I used to, I have gained weight.

I'm not one to use the scale, I figure my clothes are a good gauge and they have been telling me that I'm getting puffy around the waist. Yesterday at the gym, I had a one on one consultation with a trainer, Alex, to develop a workout and diet regimen to get me back into shape. I got on the scale for the first time and I was horrified. I'll just tell you that. I'm at a weight that I have never be at before and I'm 10 pounds heavier than the last time I weighed myself which was sometime in late 2011. This is fucking unacceptable! I'm not obese by any measure, and for the most part, I do still look decent, but I am not happy with myself at all! So I have agreed to enter into a 6 week contract with a personal trainer to learn the ropes to get back into my ideal shape. At first he naturally suggested, as a salesman, that I go for the 12 week 24-session plan at $840. I cannot afford that. So I told him that my budget will allow me to go into the 6 week 12-session training plan at $480. I absolutely believe that I will adopt the principles from his training into a long-term, permanent plan. Perhaps at some point in the future I will enter into a new contract to meet new goals, but for the time being, I want to learn as much as I can from Alex, so that I can be happy with my body again.

I will be eating more eggs, and I want arms like hers!
I'll be working with free weights and be on a training circuit. He will also put me on a diet. He took some calculations of my body yesterday and determined that I need to eat 1400 calories a day, with 20 grams of protein at each meal. Protein builds muscles, and muscles burn fat. And since I don't eat red meat or pork, I will need to increase my consumption of hard boiled eggs, nuts (Almonds), add Greek yogurt to my smoothies, and chicken or turkey. I know I can do this because I'm paying $480 to achieve this. If that isn't commitment, and looking at the number on that scale isn't a motivator, then I'm in a world of hurt and denial.

I'm excited and nervous about the next six weeks. I'll be meeting with Alex on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It also helps that he's a gorgeous Irish blond, but he's a baby, like maybe 23 years old. So, I'm doing this for vanity as well. I want to look good in his eyes as well as mine. No monkey business, this is purely professional, but I kinda like that I have a hot and young male trainer to help me push myself even more. I will be working out 4 x a week and taking a break from Bikram after I finish the last two classes of my package this month. Last summer to took a break from Bikram, and I'll do the same again this year.

And since I'll be eating more eggs now, I had to Goggle information about the proper way to boil eggs and I found it. Check it out here and try it for yourself!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's True Love...Not!

How many women is gorgeous 'Man of Steel' Henry Cavill going to be connected with before everyone is truly convinced that he's 100% straight? Me, I don't care about someone's sexual orientation... diversity is good, and I love LGBTQ people. In the span of a year, Henry is on his third ladyfriend, and the latest is some lady named Kaley Cuoco from a show I have never seen called 'Big Bang Theory' (I don't watch TV). I just bought his Interview magazine cover a few days ago, and he was name dropping his now ex Gina Carano, and now he's with this Kaley lady? Tsk tsk tsk! I just don't believe it. Henry needs to fire his manager because this campaign of trying to prove he's a heterosexual just ain't working. Even Just Jared's article title screams sarcastic disbelief. And based on the 999+ comments on this very subject at ONTD!, it's clear why Henry's PR is making damn sure he has a "girlfriend". Oy vey!

Source: Just Jared

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vanity Fair Finally Places a Beautiful Black Woman on its Cover!

Vanity Fair tends to live up the the 'Fair' part of their namesake and has a penchant for placing fair skinned people on their covers, month after month, after month. So you can imagine my shock when I noticed on tumblr this evening that the beautiful Kerry Washington of TV's Scandal, has landed the coveted magazine's August cover - all by herself too. I may even buy the magazine just to celebrate them having her on the cover, and to help this issue be a strong seller. Once they realize that people will buy a Vanity Fair issue with a black person on the cover, perhaps the editors will use more black celebrities in the future. It is 2013 after all, and Vanity Fair needs to start being fair and giving solo covers to well deserving minorities! Group photos and being on the 'fold-out' DON'T count! Having a Vanity Fair cover all by your damn self is the highlight of one's career. The severe lack of diversity of the magazine's monthly cover has not gone unnoticed. So many deserving people would appreciate this honor.

Thank you Vanity Fair!

Monday, July 1, 2013

John Carter [of Mars], Exercising, and New Job Musings

John Carter [of Mars]
My week off while between jobs allowed me to watch 15 DVDs that I checked out from the library. Many of the DVDs were of favorite films I have seen before, but a few jewels stood out. One that I was excited to see was John Carter, last year's much talked about "box office bomb" from Disney starring Taylor Kitsch. An article I read at Vulture 'The Inside Story of how John Carter was Doomed by its First Trailer' provides an interesting back story as to how Disney totally ruined and mismanaged the marketing of John Carter. I was suspicious of all the bad reviews and dissing of the film last year. My favorite film genre is science fiction, so when I learned that John Carter was a film with a plot about Mars, my interest was piqued. But to someone like me who was not familiar with the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, one would think that the title of the movie would be much more clear about what the movie was about to appeal to people like me. This movie is an otherworldly adventure that needed to be treated with a modicum of respect.

Why wasn't the movie titled, 'John Carter of Mars'? If Mars was added to the title, I believe more people would have been clued in to what the film was about and given it more of a chance to watch it in the theaters. You'd think Disney would have wanted to ride the Avatar wave, but they just couldn't be arsed I guess.  As I watched the DVD, I was enjoying it very much. The twist of having a late 1800s cowboy type guy being chased into the dessert by Indians and hiding near a cave that had a portal to Mars was pretty cool. He's then transported to Mars during the height of a war between two races of Martians. This was a fascinating story that deserved much more respect than it received from Disney and audiences last year. The movie cost over $250 million to make, and only opened with $30 million, and went on to earn about $73 million. That's embarrassingly pathetic, and again, the movie was quite entertaining so it should have been able to earn much more if people knew what it was about.

The moral of this story is to watch trailers of the movie, ignore critics, and go see a movie if the synopsis of the film catches your fancy. If there is a book involved, research the book. 'John Carter' [of Mars] should have been treated with more marketing care that a film of its budget justifies. In the end, Disney screwed itself, but I think that if people give John Carter a chance via DVD/Blu-ray rentals and purchases, they will like it, and it may become a cult classic one day. I certainly hope so.

Score: 8.5/10

Today I started my new job and it felt so good being with a new company and going over benefits and IT training. This is the first time in almost two years since I had a 'real job' that gave me benefits, and the first one in many years that paid me a respectable salary. For the past week, I have been thinking about all the things I can do now that I'm earning a living wage that will allow me to take care of matters in my life so that I can be at peace and have less stress. With the economy in Michigan, and many other states, still in a recession, most people are lucky just to have a job. But sometimes, just having a job is not good enough especially if you are a part-time worker, a contractor, and not earning enough money, etc. I was at a point in my life where I was feeling really down about things and getting more nervous about what my future held for me as I obtain my Master's degree in December. Like many grads, if I did not secure a good job within the six months of graduating, how would I be able to pay back my student loans? So as you can imagine, I have had a lot on my mental plate, and that's all the more reason why I'm just beginning to feel good about myself again, and my future.

My favorite cardio equipment, The Elliptical.
One of the things that I am now able to do again is get a membership at a fitness club, and I was able to do that today. My Bikram yoga is fun, but I need more variety in my exercise regimen, especially when it comes to cardio. Before I was laid off back in 2009 from my last good paying job, I was paying $65 a month for a gym membership. Yes, that was exorbitant, but I was able to afford it. Once I got laid off, I couldn't afford to workout at that gym anymore, so I canceled my membership. That was four years ago. I used to work out   15 hours a week, mostly on cardio (elliptical, recumbent bike, treadmill), and some free weights. My body was in great shape! Today, I'm still small per Michigan standards, but I'm very soft, I don't have much definition and most of my size 6 clothes are very tight, or worse, I can't fit into them, and that's unacceptable! I signed up with One on One Fitness here in Ann Arbor, and although it's not one of the newest and fanciest fitness centers, it is a very popular and nice gym. My new job will be relocating our office just down the street from the gym, so it will be perfect for me to get off work and go straight to the gym! And I signed up for the $10 a month fitness plan. Sure, they tried to woo me with the $49/month plan, but it was going to allow me access to stuff I don't care about. I don't need to use the tanning booth. I make my own smoothies at home, I don't have time to go to a lot of fitness classes... I just want 'basic' gym access to use the equipment, and then leave. Paying for this new gym membership, and continuing my Bikram yoga, is enough for my current budget.

My goal is to lose 10 pounds and look kick ass cut in time for my sister's wedding in mid-August, and then TIFF in early September. Thanks to the bikram yoga, and my avid walking, doing some jogging, and trying to eat good, I am in decent shape, but compared to four years ago, I feel and look 'doughy' and that's just so not cool!