Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Cirque Part 13 - Pride Fest 2016

Every year we are present at this event & every year we bring some of our more advanced students down to give them a chance to perform. Every year I am pleasantly surprised & proud with their creativity and talent. I really love being part of such a wonderful event every year & this year especially it was nice to see so many people come out. Between the heat & safety concerns I was worried that we would see lower attendance, but I should have known better that such a strong community wouldn't let either of those bother them. 

I was really happy after not quite hitting  my aerial routines the way I wanted to at Port Washington that things seemed to fall into place. That gives me more confidence heading into the rest of the season. The two students that we brought with us really challenged themselves & did amazing! Each time they climbed higher, did more moves & pushed their endurance which as an instructor is so special to see. They were even photographed by the GR Press which is always cool.
I'm pretty sure everyone had fun too, which is why we do it in the first place! The heat was the big thing on everyone's mind at least in our booth. It was super hot & humid which takes so much energy out of you & makes the silks sticky, ick! One of our students mentioned "I think it gets hotter the higher you climb" and we just verified that is a real thing. I think at some point during the day we all had a heat exhaustion moment, thank god for the lemonade stand, it was truly magical. 

There were two sad parts, at least for me, about Pride this year. The first is that with the new set up we were unable to see the drag show. The way they rearranged was super smart for vendors & to make a little extra money to go down to the families of the Orlando victims but that also meant I had to miss the show, which is  one of my favorite parts! The other thing that was a bit of a let down was that we didn't get to see our random friend that we met two years ago. Over the last couple of years running into him, even if it's only for 5 minutes or so has become a staple. There's always next year though!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Cirque Part 12 - Port Washington Pirate Festival

The I'm This is a fair that I've heard a lot about but never attended, mainly because it got canceled right before I joined the troupe. I heard that it was great fun, awesome performers, amazing crowds, & real live pirate ships on the water! This year they brought it back, so we packed up, drove over to Port Washington WI & guess what? It delivered!

I was greeted by lovely lake views, excellent performers (some new faces, others familiar), and fair goers that were happy to be there, excited to see good entertainment & ready to have fun! Some of them even sat through the rain to watch my boss to stupid human tricks for a whole show. We took what it starting to feel like the core troupe members with us
Gwyd & Sylver, of course, Myself & Random Max. What was strange about this was this was our first big summer event this year so we had no smaller fair to warm up on, try things out, get accustomed to performing long days outside again. No major breakthroughs this weekend in terms of skills that myself or anyone else is working on but as I said we were getting our "fair" legs again. I feel like once I get out there for a weekend in front of a live audience it gets my creative juices going. I start to think about all the ways I can make my acts better! But thankfully it went about as well as a first weekend goes & there were no major mishaps. 

I got to have a very exciting adventure in the fog, and was joined by everyone else eventually but if that hasn't been mentioned previously I LOVE FOG!
So I was happy to have bit of it to myself. I also got to meet a very wonderful new friend that toured with several circus performers as a historian. It was wonderful to hear her stories & perspective about not only circus but life in general! And on the performer side I made new piratey friends that are actors in the Chicago area when they are not pirating in the Midwest! Overall a great weekend at Pirate Festival but no huge stories to tell. 

Things I Learned at Fair

1. Don't let Max apply your sunscreen
2. People actually have wolves as pets... this is a real thing, more than just that one guy!
3. I am not stronger than the wind
4. It will always be strange to drive through a place you called home
5. Don't test your tornado sirens when it is pouring rain 
6. My love for fog is not limited to the British Isles
7. Mars Cheese Castle is as janky as it looks BUT delivers on its promise of delicious cheese
8. There are friends that break the rules with you & there are friends that keep you safe while you're doing it. Both are necessary
9. Spray painted wood makes for bad Rolla Bolla 

Race Day Part 5 - Bob Doesn't Even Work Here Anymore...

Some background on the title of this post: We at my place of employment help sponsor the race & a potion of it goes through our campus. We get a discount & are encouraged to run on our company team. Bob was one of the executives & every year we would have to try to beat him. Only he never ran very fast I'm told, so it wasn't terribly difficult.
Well he no longer works here so now we have no random old man to beat but I still take advantage of the discount & run the Brian Diemer 5k every year. The weird thing about this race for me is that I will run a strong first 3 miles in the Riverbank Run, finish strong feeling really good about it the month before and then fall apart & run a sloppy & slow 5k. The highlight of this race was getting to hang with my awesome cousin again & the really great people who put their sprinklers out pointed towards the street.  It was definitely 1 million degrees that morning! Not to mention I was able to get my mom out to walk it for her second 5k this year!! I'm so proud of her :)Why this race is so hard for me is still a mystery but this year it definitely has motivated me to run at least a 5k every month. So stay posted for more! 

Race Day Part 4 - Another 10 Down

It has been quite a while since I wrote about my cardio adventures! Mostly because I've either been running inside on the treadmill because Michigan is cold, or because I've been injured & not running. Either way I was even less prepared for this year's 10k than I was for last year. 
I'm still pretty proud of myself for sticking to my guns & running the 10k distance anyway I definitely thought about bailing and only running 5. I don't know why people don't talk specifics on this stuff they just say "someday". "Someday you won't bounce back as quickly." "Someday you'll get hurt easier." What no one ever says is that magical "someday" is 30. Even something simple like a pulled muscle takes way longer to heal after 30 than it does when you're younger. So when I say I'm proud of myself for not backing out, I really am! In the month leading up to the race I first pulled a calf muscle pretty seriously. Then I jammed my big toe. Both incidences interrupted my training in a big way right before the race. It doesn't stop there though, I'm proud of myself for finishing this 10k with out re injuring something and preventing my further endeavors. 
My mom walked again, and I'm very proud of her for not just making that healthy change for a little bit. She's completely changing her habits & trying to get in better shape. My cousin ran with me for her first 10k which was really cool! I hope she keeps doing races with me like we talked about. We paced each other pretty well and are a good running team. My goal for this year is to do more races even if they are only 5k so that way I keep training and am more prepared for next year. I think that's what I said last year but I have more people on board now which makes it easier!! 
My Fitbit was being a butt face & kept pausing!

Year of the Nerd Movies!

I remember mentioning in my review of Star Wars: Episode VII that this year was the most epic year of movies for nerds. Maybe ever! Or maybe I didn't write that & just made that up in my mind....
Regardless there is just movie after movie coming out that I, and many other nerds, are looking forward to. The latest installments for me have been Deadpool, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, & Captain America: Civil War. I will quickly review my thoughts on both movies for you in the order I saw them.


Things I liked:
The continuous 4th Wall breaking. That for me added an element that the other Marvel movies do not have. I felt like it also made the more "rated R" content not feel as out of place. Which brings me to something else I enjoyed, the decided but not over done R rating of the movie. It was fun to see a Marvel film that was a little more adult & relate-able, but in keeping good balance they didn't go so far over the line that I felt uncomfortable as an audience member. Then there was the obvious plot points that will allow Deadpool to be in an ensemble movie at some point which is exciting!
Things I didn't like:
Basically nothing, I had so much fun at this movie! In a world where people don't really buy  movies anymore I have been debating purchasing this one. 

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Confession: I did not read this book.
Things I liked: There were many things to  like about this movie but I think for me they all sum up in how well the mash up of Regency Vs. Zombie Hunter was done. I mean this from all aspects not just plot (although that was very good). The incorporation of both themes was beautifully put into both set design & costume design as well! For me the cast was also top notch. Lily James has earned my eternal love & devotion as a fan. She has not disappointed me up till this point & she played a wonderful Lizzy. I also really enjoyed the knock down drag out fight between Lizzy & Darcy, I though that was a wonderful representation of the tension between the two. 
Thinks I didn't like: They took out my favorite line of Pride & Prejudice. "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire & love you." I get that it doesn't fit as well with the Zombies but It's still the pinnacle of Pride & Prejudice to me. I heard there were more dojo scenes in the book & that would have been nice to have in the movie. Overall there was not much for me to criticize. 

Captian America: Civil War

Confession: Despite other intentions I only saw the first two Captain America movies the week before this came out.
Things I liked: Chris Evans. Paul Rudd. RDJ. Scarlet Johansson. Ok I could keep going that way because basically I just love all the actors in the Marvel movies! I love how deep they are digging with Steve Rodgers character. Marvel tends to be a little fluffier than DC as far as movies go, so even if they wrap up nicer at the ending it's nice to see them dig deep during the bulk of the movie. The tension & conflict was realistic & relatable. I certainly can say that I've been in situations where I'm stuck choosing between doing things the right way & doing what is right. I also enjoyed that they left it up to us as viewers to decide who was on the right side. Further on this point I thought it was a realistic portrayal of how friendships change as we grow as people & sometimes you find yourself on the opposite side as a close friend but it doesn't always have to end the friendship completely. I may catch crap for this next one but I kinda liked that it was Avengers 2.5.... Hate me if you like. I thought the introduction of Ant-Man well done & the casting/writing for this new Spiderman was brilliant!! Black Panther was everything thing he should be, sophisticated, kinda angry & very sexy! I laughed, got teary, and sat on the edge of my seat more than once in this one. I had so much fun at this movie I literally forgot how long it was!
Things I didn't like: Basically nothing. Unless you count having technical difficulties buying tickets & ending up with 15 tickets to see the same movie....

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Elfstones of Shannara

I am moving right along through Terry Brooks' series into the second book The Elfstones of Shannara. That's right second, even though the cover now says book 1. It hurts my book related OCD! Anyway that rant aside I really enjoyed this one, yep more than the first. I think the Ellcrys tree is maybe the coolest thing about this series! I love the idea of that level of protective magic and I think Brooks has created one of the most harmonious & peaceful depictions of "the ultimate sacrifice". 

It did take me an embarrassingly long time to make some of the generational connections between this book & the last one. But once I got there I really enjoyed that aspect to this series. I read somewhere that The Count of Monte Cristo (by Alexander Dumas) was an influence over his approach to this series & I feel like you can tell. In a very good way. Most (not all) series only show us the one generation in which the story takes place, but this multi-generational approach really shows you the effects, both good & bad, that the events of previous books had on the world. 
I of course was was excited to see Allanon again, and was please that Brooks made evident the toll that his magic takes on him. It eliminates the idea that magic has no consequences & I really like that. I was intrigued by the introduction of the wing riders. I'm really hoping to see that again & hopefully in more detail. Will was very likable, maybe even a little more than Shae. Not sure, the jury is still out one but I enjoyed reading sections told from Will's perspective. His personal discovery & struggle with the Elfstones was well written to, I think most people can relate to the feeling of having one of our characteristics hold us back from where we need to be, even if we don't want it to. This book left me satisfied in terms of the adventure it took me on but also left me wanting more of this world. I am really excited to see where Brooks takes this in the coming books! 

The Sword of Shannara

I will be totally honest I started reading this series because I saw the first episode of the MTV adaptation of this series. It seemed kinda good and I thought, "well if I don't read it now I probably never will." So off I went to the book store to find Book 1, only it took me like 3 trips & some internet research to find the correct book to start with. Terry Brooks not only wrote a prequel to the first trilogy but he also had them put "book 1" on the second book after the show premiered because the show starts with book 2. Talk about confusing! 

After I finally started reading The Sword of Shannara turned out to be every bit the high fantasy series I wanted it to be! The writing style reminded me a bit of Tolkien, only with less poems. Particularly when there was long stretches of traveling and description of the country side. I really enjoyed that it felt big, right from the beginning. The history is long & rich, and there are enough characters/races to fill it. I think Allanon was my favorite character because he is equal parts caring & mysterious. There is so much about him that we don't know and It has to be interesting! Also it becomes clear that he is one of the few characters that will be constant for a while in this story. For the majority of the characters the final chapter was our goodbye to them. 

The Sword it self was fascinating to me. I found how it worked very interesting and wondered what  kind of reaction I would have to the power of the Sword and having to face the truth about myself. It was also interesting that so many magical objects appear to be tied to this one family. I found myself wondering (having watched the first episode) how that power will be preserved as the elvish blood diminishes. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was all the parallels to our current world & the conflicts we are facing today. Brooks makes it very believable that this world was created out of the collapse of the current world we live in. Yet he never comes out and says it directly so that is still left up to the imagination of the reader. 

As with most first books in any series there were parts that dragged a little but it was very clear that the description in these portions were pure world building and they were super interesting despite their slow moving nature. I would definitely recommend The Sword of Shannara to a fellow fantasy reader! Maybe even to someone that hasn't read a lot of fantasy & would like a good series to try.