Saturday, April 27, 2019

A Spoiler-Free Movie Review, and other catching up

#AvengersEndgame was released in theaters on Thursday night. Our local theater had not sold out for opening night, when Stephen got off work and checked. But it's a three-hour movie, and we'd have gotten home close to midnight, and he still had to work Friday morning. So on Thursday DAY, I bought our tickets for today's first showing, at 12:30.

We didn't see it at a multi-plex, per se. We saw it at a Laemmle Theater, which is half arthouse and half blockbuster. They host themed #ThrowbackThursdays, as in, for the month of May, they'll be honoring Diane Keaton's career every Thursday. Because of the nature of their business, we weren't sure what to expect at today's matinee. We planned to get to the theater before noon, so we could (hopefully) just walk right in with our tickets, plant in our favorite center seats just behind the rail, and then get Stephen's popcorn combo just prior to the trailers at 12:30.

So we left the apartment at 11:30 and walked down the block the slightly-less-than-a-mile... and discovered a queue that nearly went around the adjacent building. Nearly. The sign at the front of it asked patrons to have printed out their e-tickets (No, not like the old Disney "E" tickets) before approaching the box office, which meant, yeah, most of the folks in line would have already paid for their tickets, like us. No cutting for us! Dangit!

But the queue began moving right around 12, and it wasn't long before we were finding our second-best seats, which were slightly-left-of-center, just behind the rail. I got myself a complimentary cup of soda water, and when Stephen trekked out to hit the can, he made it through the concessions line pretty quickly, too. I mean, kudos to Laemmle NoHo, for having their act together today. I imagine that they'll have the most business this weekend that they've had in quite some time.

And now for your spoiler-free review. No, wait. Before I tell you MY experience, let me pause for a short rant. *** There are entirely too many people (trolls) out there in the media and social media and the internets and the YouTubes who are posting VITAL information about this movie. EVERYWHERE you turn, there are articles and videos about "what you missed the first time you saw Endgame" or "3000 Easter Eggs you didn't notice", etc. STOP IT, "news" sources and other "fans". Everyone who wants to see this film wants to take it in for themselves. No one wants to know who lives or who dies by the end, before getting to see it happen on that giant screen. *** End rant.

So, here's what happens: um, NO. IF you saw #AvengersInfinityWar, then you know some very important information about what you're expecting or hoping will happen in #AvengersEndgame. If you DIDN'T see Infinity War, then do you seriously have interest in Endgame? What are you even doing? Move along, little dogies, move along.

Okay, back to what I was saying. Infinity War was a rough watch. It was violent and brutal and so many people that we fans of the MCU have come to know and love DIE in it. After watching it on the big screen, I walked away ANGRY (and sad). I did NOT want to hear what any pundits thought might happen next. I did not want to watch it again. That said, over the course of this last week, Stephen and I have been binge-watching (in order) every Marvel movie that had #InfinityStones plotlines, so that we'd be caught up by today. We did watch Infinity War a second time, and while I still hated the outcome, at least I wasn't angry this time around.

Endgame starts pretty much where Infinity War leaves off, and then we jump forward five years to see how the survivors are doing. When Scott Lang finds them (which you've seen in the trailers), they form a plan to attempt to unravel all the bad stuff created by that douchecanoe twatjuice dickwhistle Thanos. So the bulk of this film is coming up with a viable plan and then acting on it. There's some fighting. There's some remorse. There's some really funny shit.

We laughed a lot. We cried a lot. There are successes and obstacles. And we (the audience) stick with the heroes, hoping and wondering and wishing and cheering through all the trials. And there are still sacrifices to make, and we the audience mourn those choices as well. There are a ton of cameos by people we haven't seen for some time (they do time-travel, as you know from the trailers). So the end credits sequence is stunning, giving credit for all of the cameos, including a couple that may have ended up in cut scenes (so look for them in the DVD/Blu-Ray editions, like we'll be doing, kids). There is no mid-credit scene. There is no end-credit scene. There is only the movie.

We liked it. All of the MCU films have led to this one, and while it feels like "closure", I can't imagine that the stories are all wrapped up. I do hope to see more of my Marvel heroes going forward.

As for my other catching up, I've been keeping busy with classes at the Conservatory, and classes that will culminate in five live performances at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and volunteering at both the SAG Foundation and at the Conservatory,

Father Ted cast and Director
(I played Mrs. Doyle, the housekeeper)
Deuterostomes Director and Gloria + Gloria's voice
AND shooting both a multi-cam sitcom scene for a USC student and the voice of Gloria, the most intelligent being in the galaxy, who also happens to be a worm in a jar, for an AFI student film. Both of those were great fun to do, and I think I made some pretty good connections. We'll see.

I created a professional actor's website, and I've been recording kid lit audiobooks for the nieces and nephews. Then, after a great VO class, I re-recorded them, and I've been going crazy with those recordings. They're not sweetened with music or sound effects, but they are "clean" recordings of me reading to littles. You can take a listen here, if you like.

I need to get back to Jo-Ann Fabric for more yarn. I sent the Easter baskets out to the two families of young children in my family, and then while I was on the sci-fi set, I built myself a craft bag. I quite enjoyed that, so I think I may make more of those.

Oh, and yes, I'm still eating Keto, as well as doing daily yoga. I haven't yet shed a lot of weight, but five pounds did budge within the first two weeks of those practices, so I'm confident that I'll shed another five to ten pounds, and get pretty strong again. Doesn't hurt that I'm also trying to hit 10,000 steps most days, also. The Achilles tendonitis is gone/healed/cured. I feel pretty good!

So what about you? Have you seen all of the MCU films? What did you think? Any other catching up in YOUR life you'd like to chat about?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Keto and The Movies

I've been *trying* to "do" Keto, which means I'm nearly eliminating carbs from my diet whilst also eating A Lot more fat, and a reasonable amount of protein.
In order to *try* to "do" Keto, I've been reading every nutrition label, for fat/protein/carb grams, not necessarily ingredients lists... oh, who am I kidding? I have been reading ingredients lists forever. That ain't stoppin'. I've also been watching a ton of YouTube videos. My favorite Keto channels are Keto Connect and Dr. Ken Berry. There are a few others, but those would be one-offs, for me, at least.

The more videos I watch, the easier I find the Keto lifestyle to adopt. Some of the Keto Connect videos are "shopping at ______" (places like Costco and Trader Joe's, and others where you might shop), as well as reviews of pre-made Keto products (which don't matter to me at all) and recipes for fat bombs. MMMMMM, #FatBombs.

So I've been shopping. I recently discovered the Costco Business Center, as you know, and I was able to make a trek there yesterday for EVERYTHING I needed, without facing a #WalkingSamplingLunch at either the Costco Warehouse or Trader Joe's. Aaaaand I arrived home with my groceries just as Stephen was arriving home from work, which meant #BONUS, I wouldn't have to carry his ten pounds of carrots or the ten pounds of ground beef upstairs, alone. (I bought more than that, but those were the two "heavy" items).

Once everything was in the apartment, I set to combining the ten pounds of ground beef with the four pounds of ground pork, so I'd have plenty of high fat ground meat... balls. Lemme tell you, combining two high-fat meats that are also very cold from the refrigerator is #NotFun. There were multiple times when I had to use my fingers as spatulas to scrape the fat off my hands. YUCK! I don't mind eating that fat. At all. But having it coat my hands and fingers like gloves was just #Gross.

In the end, because it was so gross, and not easy work, and I'd been standing relatively still for so long in the kitchen (which gave me a back twinge), I only made 32 slightly-under-4-ounce meatballs. The other half of the ground meat got moved into freezer bags and are now living in the chest freezer.

My work, complete (well, almost)

Still 2#s of pork!

Thassalotta meatballs! 

Still 5#s of boooof!

Yes, I used all of these bowls for mixing and shaping
🎶Clean up, clean up,
everybody clean up!🎶
Then I took a little break, rewatched some of the #FatBombs videos, and set to making too many of those. I had already made chocolate-peanut-butter bombs, and I wanted some savory bombs, but also maybe cheesecake?

So I made four "everything bagel on a pepperoni slice" stars, seventeen "pizza" balls, and then enough peanut-butter-cheesecake bombs to mold in my silicone tray plus a few extra balls coated in almond flour (the "crust"). I dig them all. And I've now watched enough videos and tried enough variations that I ought to be able to create my own, original bombs. #GoodTimes!


Sweeeeet! (But not tooo)


Today, Stephen and I went to see Shazam! (It's great - really fun - our favorite in the recent DCEU, or possibly sharing that spot with Wonder Woman)... and I dunno how you feel about seeing films in a theater without eating popcorn, but I was torn. Popcorn, no matter how much #RealButter you have them douse it in, is really not Keto.

But last week, we went to see Dumbo, which is really very good and hit us in all of the feels, including being too scary for young kids, probably. We recommend 8 as the minimum age. But also, we went ahead and got the full large combo, as we've always done, which comes with one free refill of corn and each of the beverages. We never get the beverage refills, but we always get the corn refill. And we'd discovered (when we saw Captain Marvel) that you can get your refill immediately, before you even get your seat. So Stephen had his large popcorn without butter, and I had mine with lots. Aaaaand a large root beer.

Possibly because of changing my diet to "only eating when hungry/eating until full/intermittent fasting" (without even taking fat:protein:carb macros into account), last weekend's large corn and soda affected me physically. Badly. I felt bloated for hours. I may have been constipated. I'm pretty sure I was sluggish. It wasn't pretty, and I didn't like it. Loved the movie; hated my physical person.

So today, before we even left the apartment, I made sure to eat a coupla #FatBombs, finish my tea, and brush my teeth. Then, when we got to the concession stand, enough time had passed for me to feel satiated. I asked if they had unsweetened soda. The dude wasn't sure that I was asking for soda water, but when he confirmed that they did, in fact, have that, he offered me the complimentary cup. Perfect. SMALL, but enough. So Stephen got a medium combo for himself, and we went in and enjoyed the hell outta the movie. Shazam! (in case you forgot)

I never once felt like stealing a kernel! And when the movie was over, I'd sipped more of my soda water than I ever really drink of my root beer, so I needed to empty my bladder before walking home. By the time we arrived here, I was ready to eat again, so YAY! Coupla slices of bacon, a crumbled meatball, some garlic spread, some ricotta, a little yellow squash and baby bell pepper, a lot of fresh spinach and basil, a handfull of black olives, some turmeric and paprika. Amazing.
I ate half of what I prepared. This is for the next time I'm hungry, I 'spose

I feel good, and I'm learning. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Have YOU tried a new-for-you lifestyle change that you struggled with for awhile but eventually got the hang of? /struggled with long enough to give up? /are struggling with NOW? Hit me up in the comments below! Let's chat about it!

Monday, April 1, 2019

I am the April Fool

Ya know how, when you're really working on #SelfImprovement and #PersonalGrowth and all that other newfangly shit, and you #SetIntentions for your day, and then #AprilFoolsDay shows up and throws everything outta whack? You DON'T? Well, aren't you #Blessed, you #HoityToityLittleAssWipe? Kidding. I kid. I have just had a day today, so I'm a bit #Frustrated.

Here's your backstory:

  • I've been getting out of bed fairly earlyish for the past coupla weeks to do yoga or stretching or squats or other highish intensity but low impact workouts
  • I've been eating a Ketogenic diet, which improves (recipes and intermittent fasting get easier) after every three or four YouTube videos I watch as education
  • I've been reading #SelfImprovement and #PersonalGrowth books, just for FUN!
  • I've been attending an acting/business class on alternating Sundays, and we're working towards performances at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June
  • I've been attending film festivals, just for FUN (and "networking", which honestly sucks ass at places like film festivals, mostly)
  • I've been cast in a USC production of a multi-cam sitcom, as part of a class
  • I've been volunteering at both the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and Conservatory, in addition to attending classes/events at both
  • I've been walking more, aiming for at least 5k steps per day, and not saying "no" to 10k
So now, onto TODAY!

Over the weekend, the student who is directing our multi-cam comedy scenes emailed us all, asking for availability for one last rehearsal. Having not heard a concrete confirmation of our timeslot, I drove over to USC today, to discover a different group of people in our space, and none of my people present at all. I rechecked the email half a dozen times. MONDAY, until 2 p.m. Another student walked out of that room, and I asked her how long they were in there for - Three-Thirty P.M.! So I bailed. We hadn't gotten the slot we wanted, and no one informed us, and I was the only idiot who drove out there anyway. In costume. With props. And fat bombs (it's a #KetoThing).

No big... it's close to where my friends live, so I'll just pop in to see them.

NOT. He's at work, and she's in Santa Monica. Shit. Guess I'll drive home. Oh, wait, here's a Trader Joe's; lemme pick up some groceries... squash, berries... wait, no, they're more expensive here than at my TJ's, so I guess I'll just have my yogurt with coconut. Still Keto; no big deal... coconut, yogurt, bag of apples and 3 smallish, not-quite-ripe bananas. Perfect. Also, I'm feeling a bit peckish right about now, so I'll just eat those fat bombs, which didn't really survive the (hot) underground parking. Messy! But tasty, and enough to cut the edge of my hunger from my 17+ hour fast. But oh, so messy!

Get it all home and only carry up the crap I'd taken to USC. Second trip up from the car to discover Stephen's got apples out the ass. Welp. Whatevs; now he's got more. Eat those apples, Stephen! FORGOT to carry up more cans of sparkling water, and I definitely need some! (Brought 'em up after taking the shopping bags back down, yo.)

But I also need to get some steps in, and walk off this funk I'm in, and plug in my phone, which no longer wants to connect to the portable charger (it's probably just the cord, but still)... so I attempt to change one last watch battery, so I can at least have a concept of the time while I'm out. The one battery that "took" is in a watch that is slowly-but-surely losing its band. Possibly quickly-and-surely. I don't want to risk wearing the one watch that works and then losing it to gravity! The other two watches that I have replacement batteries for... just don't want to work, #FFS. So I gently gather up the last watch, for which I still need to buy a fresh battery, and decide to walk to the watch battery store!

But a handful of times on my walk, my left knee decides to remind me of my ol' football injury (it actually happened on the set of Teen Wolf, a tearing of meniscus on a weekend so I never followed up or filed a claim, waaaaaaaay back in the day!)... and I almost bail on the walk at all, multiple times. The reason I don't bail, of course, is because CVS! They'll have the battery I need! 

But they don't. And I discover that I've already checked their battery stand for the one I need. I've been over it with a fine-tooth comb, as it were. That doesn't stop me from whippin' out my comb again today! I've just limped 3k steps to not find what I need!

Dude who works there offers to help me find it, but he knows, as I do, that there's no joy to be found today at CVS. He does offer a paltry solution: Sears. They fix watches, as well as carry the obscure batteries. Sears? Are you fucking kidding me? Aren't they completely out of business yet? Should I just check at a K-Mart jewelry counter? Or Wal-Mart? Or Tarzhay?

Ennyhoo. No rehearsal. No hangin' with friends. No watch battery. Pain in my knee. But my walk home takes me by an amazing ice cream shop, where I can indulge in an almost-Keto malted shake.

Except that the ice cream shop isn't open before 3, and despite it being after 3, I still can't get in. So fuck them. At least I'm volunteering at the Conservatory tonight! I will have gotten my minimum of 5k steps, and it's a class I won't have to pay too much attention to, so I can prop my leg up and finish the Easter baskets I crocheted for the niblings, or work on my lines for my part, or something. 

And then of course the class tonight got cancelled, and no one told me. But I did find out before I drove all that way! And I got the follow-up email in my fully-charged phone (once home) about the rehearsal, which is NEXT Monday (which it did say in the original email but somehow I missed in forty-seven readings). 

It's now 6:00 in the evening on April Fools' Day, and while not one soul pranked me, I think maybe the Universe did. What a day.

How was YOUR April Fools' Day? Did you survive it intact?