Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Family reunion, grad-school midpoint, X-FILES, MAMMA MIA, MUMMY 3 reviews

Okay, it's been a couple of weeks since I wrote, but lotsa awesome stuff has been going down. For starters I went to Utah for a family reunion! Woo-hoo! We stayed at this really posh resort in Midvale, courtesy of Gram and Grandpa Burke, named Zermat. Midvale, apparently, was settled by Mormons from Switzerland, because they designed it to look like a European paradise.

My cousin Carly (who is the female me; we even share a birthday) picked me up at the airport, and she, Matt (cousin-in-law) and I drove up together. This place ruled. It had a pool that was half indoor, half outdoor, a gym (where I pulled a bunch of shoulder and neck muscles), a giant hot tub with a hot waterfall (which I used on said injury), and suites that were more like homes, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, 3 flat-screen TV's, internet, and a living room. What's more, my grandparents paid for 15-20 of those suites to comfortably house the 70+ people who came.

Highlights included a cousins-only dinner (no aunts, uncles, in-laws, or kids allowed; pictured above), a rotating game night where groups of 8-10 people went from room to room and played a bunch of different games in the different suites, swimming with my family, going to see the midnight show of THE DARK KNIGHT, and having a picnic in a park with the little kids running all over the place and making us laugh. We had four generations there! Also, setting up for a family picture, with 20 of us trying to get organized and little kids' mothers fretting over their clothes and hair, only to have the sprinklers go off just as we were about to take the pic!

My grandparents are 85 years old. Nobody's sure they'll be around for the next reunion, so this was their unofficial last chance in this life to see all of us. They left us their "final" testimony of the Gospel, with Gram emphasizing virtuous thoughts and loving one another, and Grandpa bearing witness of the importance of "keeping your knees polished" through prayer and reliance on the Lord. To keep Gram happy, Carly and I did a rendition of "Getting to Know You." Cousin Logan and my brother Adam emceed the festivities on the different nights.

My personal favorite event was the "skit in a bag" activity, where different groups of us were given a short story from the lives of my grandparents, a bag full of random wacky props, and 15 minutes to prepare a 3 minute skit acting out the story, while using ALL the props. Needless to say, our versions were very loose adaptations, and we laughed our heads off. I especially enjoyed my uncle Bill (playing the role of my grandfather) tossing a baby doll (representing Bill's wife, Gayle, as a child) and dropping it on it's head, then deadpanning, "Well that explains a lot!" Cue Gayle shouting out from the audience: "HEY!"

We also performed an impromtu rendition of "Memory" from Cats, as we did at the reunion nearly 20 years ago. It wasn't the same without my dear mother, but we made do. I like to think we did it to honor her.

Anyway, Dad and Carol drove me to Provo that Saturday, and I spent the day with Charan, Tim, and Alan. It was exciting to live vicariously through the latter as he chases his film-making dreams. We went to see TDK at the IMAX and had a great time. Sunday I went to my old ward at BYU, then had lunch with good friend Kelsey Reynolds, dinner with Charan's awesome family, and played games that night with a group including Tim and my old neighbor Stephanie Cook. She's incredible amounts of fun. On Monday Charan and I went to the Provo temple, I went running, had lunch with my friend Jenny, then flew back.

Since then, I've finished my first year of my master's program! Only one to go, and I am done! I had a neat missionary experience when a couple in my apartment complex moved out and gave me their house fan and a bunch of frozen food. I gave them my testimony, the special Ensign about the Savior, and a copy of The Testaments. I went to my friend Janet's big Catholic wedding yesterday, in a beautiful church in Georgia. It was wonderful. I hung out with my buddies Rachel Birmingham, Ali Zaremba, Stefanie Goetz, Kelly Tu, and Marinda Levy. There was great food, an open bar (I had orange juice mixed with cranberry juice, Sprite, and a lime. So refreshing). The night before I went to a church dance in Atlanta; it was a 50's dance, but not everyone got the memo, so wardrobe ranged from 50's to casual to formal. It was fun regardless. I can do The Worm. That's right. On Wednesday we had an Institute closing social, playing sand volleyball, swimming, and having pizza. That night I also watched Xanadu. No shame.


I don't know why this was so poorly reviewed. Perhaps people were expecting this to finally tie up all the loose plot threads the show left undone. Instead, this is a standalone suspense mystery that plays out like a director's cut of a good episode. It's genuinely scary, it's pretty well-acted, it's smart and unsettling. And as much as I tire of George W. Bush jokes, there's one here that's quite clever. All in all, if you like The X-Files, or if you just like to get creeped out, it's hard to go wrong here. ***1/2 (out of five) Rated PG-13 for moderate profanity and some violence.


Did you know Meryl Streep can do a toe-touch? Seriously! And that Pierce Brosnan has a raspy yet macho singing voice? Kind of like a deeper Bryan Adams. Basically, if you like ABBA, if you like fun fluffy musicals, if you dig that type of energy, this is a blast. If not, move along. Colin Firth adds charm, the young lady's got some pipes, the Greek scenery is gorgeous, and there's a lot of girl-power going on. Not a lot of substance, but that's not what it's going for. It just wants to give you a good time, and it succeeds. ***1/2 (out of five). Rated PG-13 for innuendo.


New director. New locale (China). Jet Li as the villain. Michelle Yeoh helping the heroes. New actress playing Brendan Fraser's wife. Abominable snowman. And yet, this all feels so familiar. We've seen it done before (and better) in the first two Mummy movies. This isn't terrible, it's just...meh. Fraser is good. The actor playing his son annoys the crap out of me (or maybe it's just how the character is written). The effects are great. The swordfight between Li and Yeoh (which could have been worth the price of admission alone) is neutered by up-tight camerawork, poor editing, and un-inventive choreography. The jokes, which were "tongue-in cheek" bad before are now just bad. Meh. ** (out of five). PG-13 for violence and mild married innuendo.


Kayz said...

I wanna know how in the world you have time for flicks?!X You exhibit great balance in your life (and I'm envious!!) I don't remember seeing more than 1 movie when I was getting my Masters! Thanx for sharing. =) Kali
P.S. You're such a ladies' man...every trip you take to visit Utah, you're surrounded by a ton o' women. =)

The Scotts said...

Believe it or not I read the first 2 movie reviews because I have seen Mama Mia and LOVED it and I was curious about Xfiles and don't think I'll see it. It was a fun reunion and it was great to see you some. Yea for hitting your leap year of school! Congrats! Glad you had fun in Provo and saw Steph. I love that girl!