Thursday, July 26, 2012

hip hop kidz

For the past 5 weeks I've been teaching hip-hop dance to middle schoolers at an after-school program. Or in this case, at their summer camp. It's been so fun! I love watching the kids just lose themselves in the music and the steps. Would you like to meet them? I took this video right after they performed their dance in front of their family, friends, and summer staff. They were high on dancing, life, and junk food.

All right friends, I won't be blogging a bit. I'm going on vacay! Down to southern Cal to celebrate my BFF's birthday plus her baby shower (she's 7 months prego). Have a wonderful week, blogger buds.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

why we love superhero movies

I just got back from seeing "The Dark Knight Rises", the third Batman movie from director Christopher Nolan. I have many thoughts running around in my head and I thought blogging about this might help me process things.

As I look back on the last 10 or 11 years, superhero movies have become extremely popular. Even if you didn't care for them, many have been successful at the box office.

Spiderman 2
Spiderman 3 (we'll try and forget this one, though)
X-Men 2
X-Men 3
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men First Class
Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer
Superman Returns
Iron Man
Iron Man 2
The Hulk (with Eric Bana)
The Hulk (with Edward Norton)
Captain America
The Avengers
The Green Lantern
2 Michael Keaton Batmans
1 Val Kilmer Batman
1 George Clooney Batman (we'll just try and forget this one, too)
3 Christian Bale Batmans (the best, in my opinion)
a new Spiderman
Iron Man 3 (filming)
Thor 2 (filming)
a new Superman movie (coming out next summer), which we saw a preview for before Batman:

And it's not just teenage boys going to see these superhero movies. I looked up the stats. It's males AND females. Ages 10-80. All demographics. You name it.

Why do we love these movies? Why do we keep going to see them? Why do we see them multiple times? Why do we watch them and then pay more money to see them again when Hollywood remakes them 5 years later? (ie. Spiderman, Hulk, Superman, Batman, etc)

I've never read comic books. I've never watched superhero cartoons. I have no attachment or childhood nostalgia for these characters. I am a grown woman in my thirties. And yet I have seen almost every movie on the above list.


Because I think, deep down, we want a hero.

We want to believe heroes exist.

This world we live in is crazy. There is hurt, grief, tragedy, and sadness. Unfair things happen to good people. The wicked seem to win.

How many times have I watched these movies and seen someone in need, or someone hurting, or someone not able to defend themselves...and then Zooooooom, the superhero flies in and saves the day. They fight off the "bad guys", pick up the broken and bruised victim, and give hope to everyone as they fly away.

They will be there to fight for us.

Good will overcome evil.

I think you guys can see where I'm going with this.

As I was driving home, thinking about how good the movie was, I was struck by the parallels between superheroes and Jesus. Not that Jesus flies in wearing a cape to snarl at the bad guys. That is reducing Jesus to a flawed human in a mask.

But I think these superhero movies are so popular because subconsciously, we all want and need to be saved.

From sin.

From guilt.

From death.

We want hope.

Where does your hope come from?

I like these movies because even when it looks like the bad guys win, they never do.

Aurora, Colorado - my heart is heavy. The sadness I feel cannot be put into words. I can't even imagine what you are going through. It was wrong, evil, and unfair.

But James Holmes does NOT win.

Evil does NOT win.

Good will overcome evil.


My hope is in Jesus.

The defeater of sin, guilt, and death.

The giver of love, hope, and peace.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I love summer part 2

Another blog about why I love summer.

* Last Saturday I went to another Giants game. I seriously just want to go to AT&T Park every day and watch the Giants play. That's all I want to do.

* Monday I went to my first minor-league baseball game: the San Jose Giants. We got free tickets. Look! It's Intern Scott taking the picture!

* I've been teaching hip hop dance to middle schoolers this summer. They have been learning a dance that they will perform next Tuesday for their family, friends, and other kids at the summer camp.

* Do you remember my postings on The Glee Project last summer? Well I haven't been posting about TGP on my blog this summer, but I am enjoying season 2. My sisters and I email each other our thoughts after each episode which I LOVE.  I am related to funny people. (By the way, I am #TeamNellie and #TeamAilyn)

* My softball team had a double header today. Can I show you a new fun purchase?

This mitt is lovely. And I don't have to borrow Coach Doug's anymore. Yeah!

We won BOTH games tonight. I am on the biggest high right now. The first game we were behind 2-6 but then the last inning we got 5 runs and won 7-6! We were freaking out. Our second game was even harder. The second team was even better than the first. But we had an amazing 6th inning and ended up winning 12-8. I have to share a special moment. My first couple at-bats were not that great. But in that awesome 6th inning I went up for my last time. And I hit the ball well! I was so proud. It went over the shortstop's head and the outfielder had to run up for it. I made it to first base and one of my teammates on 3rd base made it home. I stood at 1st base grinning like an idiot while my team cheered for me. What a great feeling.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Wait for the good pitches!"

Last summer I randomly signed up for my church's adult co-ed softball league. I had never played softball before and had no idea what I was doing. You can read about it here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I didn't sign up to play this summer. I think it was a combo of not getting around to it, knowing I was going to be busy this summer, and thinking I wasn't very good so it was probably smart not to play again.

But Coach Doug saw me last Sunday after church. "Sarah, we need you back on the team!" I asked why and he said every team needs at least 3 women to play or their forfeit. And the past two games, only 2 women have shown up so they've had to forfeit both times.

So guess who's back on the team?!

We had a game Thursday evening after work. Coach Doug was kind enough to let me use his extra glove again (I really need to buy my own). Almost everyone from the team last summer was back to play again this summer so it was fun to see people again. And luckily Coach Doug put me in right field so I just had to pretend I knew what I was doing and pray no balls came to me. (Which they didn't. Yeah!)

I was at bat three times. The first time I fouled out, the second time I got a walk, and the third time I actually hit the ball! I was so proud until I realized they got the guy ahead of me out at second base. So I made it to first base but got an out for my team. Sorry guys! Our team played great though. We won 15-3. Holla.

Sadly, no bruises, snot issues, or shoulders popping out of sockets this game. But I'll keep you guys updated on softball stories as the summer goes on. Play ball!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

being an "extra" in a sizzle reel

Last week I was reading our local newspaper and something caught my eye. Some filmmakers were going to be in town shooting a "sizzle reel" and they needed extras. Not knowing what a sizzle reel was, I looked it up and here's what I found: A sizzle reel is a short film (like a trailer) that gives a funder an idea of what the film is going to feel like/look like. So when people want to make a movie, they film 6-10 minutes of key scenes and then take that sizzle reel to meetings with investors. It sparks interest to what the whole 100 minute film will look like and the investors can choose whether or not to pony up money to help the movie get made.

The scene that they were shooting was Tuesday night from 7-10:30 pm in one of our local bookstores. I had the night free and thought it would be fun so I showed up. Here's what I saw:

There were about 30-40 of us extras sitting in one section of the bookstore. The director was running around talking to everyone, the assistant director was telling us where to sit and what to do, the cinematographer was getting all the camera angles set up, the tech team was setting up lights and microphones, and the screenwriter/producer was standing there, looking at everything happening and beaming. Because this is her project.

I am not allowed to say the name of the movie because I'm posting a picture and we signed a waiver saying we wouldn't post anything on the internet until the sizzle reel comes out. Whoops. But I can tell you what it's about. It's the story of a 15 year old girl who develops a crush on a celebrity actor/poet. At first you think he's charming and he gains her trust, but then...he sexually assaults her. It of course traumatizes her, and the rest of the movie is her figuring out how to recover, heal, and empower herself (and other teenage girls) against that ever happening again.

The screenwriter based this movie on herself. She was sexually assaulted at 15 and even at 58 years old now, she will never forget it. She has spent her life learning to heal from what happened and she is committed to seeing this movie be made to encourage young women out there that they are not alone. There is help and healing and empowerment beyond that. (She told us the day before they had filmed a scene which occurs after the assault - the 15 year old goes to a self-defense class and when the teacher shows the girls what to do when they are pinned down, it's too much for her and she throws up in front of everybody. But as the movie goes on and she continues to go to her self-defense class, you see her feel stronger and more empowered and finally she learns to fight back! Yes!)

Anyway, I think this will be a powerful movie and will hopefully be a help and encouragement to many people. I really enjoyed watching the screenwriter. You could just see the joy in her face as filming went on. Beauty from pain.

They filmed two scenes that night. These scenes take place toward the beginning of the movie. This hot actor guy has shown up at a bookstore to read his poetry (You can see him in the top right of the photo behind the podium). We were told to think of him as the next Ryan Gosling. Gorgeous AND sensitive (a poet). They really wanted us to swoon. While he's talking and reading, the 15 year old girl is in the back of the room, standing against a pillar (the rest of us were sitting) and smiling shyly at him. At the very end of his poem, he looks up and catches her eye. He pauses, smiles back at her, and then finishes reading. We all stand up, whooping, clapping, and I dramatically fan my face, like "Oh my ga, he's so HOT!"

The second scene was after his poetry reading. People are filing out and others are milling around, talking. The actor/poet saunters up to the 15 year old girl and starts talking to her. She is holding a notebook and tells him she writes poetry herself. He takes her notebook and says he would be honored to read her poetry. And he leaves his friends and walks away with her, still talking.

Here's what I learned about filming. It's boring! Seriously, bring a book. It takes them an hour to set everything up to shoot a scene 5 times (5 "takes") and then another hour to set the cameras in different places to catch different angles and do the exact same scene 5 times. The second scene went much quicker. They only did 4 takes total on that scene. All in all, it took 3 and a half hours for only 30 seconds of the sizzle reel.Crazy.

But even though it was boring, I had a good time. You get to meet all the other extras because you're all just hanging out anyway. The screenwriter brought a bunch of bottles of wine and the director's wife was so sweet and passed around snacks she had made. I groaned when an extra next to me asked "Are they vegan?" Dude, you're an extra, not Brad Pitt. Take the snack and be thankful!!

My embarrassing moment of the night was during the second scene. I was supposed to be sitting on a chair, facing another extra and we had to pretend we were having a conversation in the background while the actor/poet talked to the 15 year old. I don't know what possessed me, but about halfway through the scene, I looked away from her and accidentally looked STRAIGHT into the camera! Nooooo! That is like the number one faux paus in filming. Have you ever watched a movie and seen someone in the background (an extra) look right into the camera? No. Because they got fired. You cannot look at the camera. If you do, they have to stop filming and start all over again. I froze and then quickly looked back at my conversation partner and prayed that I didn't just mess up that take. We did the scene 3 more times and the director never said anything to me, so hopefully he will use one of the other takes.

It will probably take them awhile to edit and get the sizzle reel ready. I'm hoping they post it online because then I can show it to you guys. You can see me squeal and swoon over Mr. Hottie Actor in the first scene and then look right at the camera and freeze in the second scene. Good times!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

my review of "Brave"

Last week I saw the new Pixar movie "Brave" and I wanted to write a quick review for people who might be interested in seeing it.

Two initial things that make this movie stand out from other Pixar films: first, it was the first time Pixar had a female main character/heroine/protagonist. Think about it...all Pixar movies have had male main characters (Toy Story, Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, Up, Ratatouille, Cars, etc).

The second thing to make it different was this was Pixar's first princess fairy tale story. Disney had done tons of those but not Pixar.

So without further ado, here is what I liked and didn't like about "Brave".


* The animation. Oh my goodness, it was gorgeous. The movie takes place in Scotland so it is green green GREEN. Rolling hills, forests, waterfalls, it's all a feast for your eyes. Then let's focus on Merida's amazing bright red hair. I read somewhere that it took Pixar artists 3 years to complete her hair. She has over a thousand curls that had to be in action for every shot. They did such a great job! Merida's wild curly hair totally represents her wild, fiesty personality. And the red hair contrasts so beautifully with the greenery of Scotland. And then there are these bright blue will-o'-the-wisps (or just "wisps" for short). In the movie, they show up and motion to Merida for her to follow them. I loved them. They never spoke, they just made humming sounds and beckoned. Here's a clip:

* The mother-daughter relationship. This is the foundation of the movie. Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson who in my mind is perfection, and along with Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, can do no wrong) and Merida have a very strained relationship. All Merida wants to do is be free to ride her horse, practice her impressive archery skills, and have adventures. Her mother, however, is trying to groom her and train her for what is expected of a princess: manners, clothing, decorum, marriage, family, etc.

They obviously love each other but don't know how to communicate which causes frustration. I won't ruin what happens but I can say that throughout the movie, they finally find a way to understand each other. Their relationship is SO refreshing to me. If you look back on past Disney princesses, they don't have mothers. Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas. No mother figure. And go even further back to earlier princess films (ie. Snow White or Cinderella) and you don't have mothers, you have "wicked step-mothers". I think this is the first time Disney has ever explored a mother-daughter dynamic and made it front-and-center in a movie. As a female, I appreciated this, but I don't know if guys in the audience will as much.

* A different kind of princess. Finally! A story that doesn't revolve around a girl getting a guy. There is no romance in this movie which is new and unusual. Almost all Disney stories (especially their fairy tales) have some sort of love or romance angle to the story.  For previous princesses, it's almost as though their worth is in how beautiful they are and whether or not they can find a prince and be married by the end. Like I said, Merida is not feeling ready for romance in her life, even though her mother is telling her she should be. She would much rather climb mountains than marry a prince. Again, very refreshing.

* The humor. I was not expecting this movie to be so funny! I laughed a lot. Merida has three younger brothers - identical triplets - and they steal the show. They never say a word but they are so mischievous. I always laughed when they were on screen.


* The doofus male characters. The dad, King Fergus, was funny but an oaf. Three clan leaders come with their sons to present before Merida (she is supposed to marry one of them) and they are all oafs, too. They would rather say dumb stuff and fight with their swords. And then the Queen and Merida have to come in and be the smart, in-charge ones. I love strong female characters, but it would be nice if the male characters weren't always portrayed as bumbling idiots.

That's the only thing I didn't like. But I fully recommend this movie. I would recommend it for ages 9-90. You will enjoy the scenery, the story, the Scottish music, the characters, the humor, and the message.