Movie Review – "Stardust"

What a wonderful discovery this movie was. Having placed it on my NetFlix list on a whim, I was pleasantly surprised when my friends chimed up and all said they thought favorably of the film when I mentioned it. It’s creative, funny and attractive to watch. Staring Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, and Michelle Pfeiffer - it's a film about one man’s adventure after he crosses the wall.


- Creativity – Think of all the different types of fairy tales. Now picture the best parts of each story and smoosh them together into one legend. "Stardust" is kinda like that – witches, ghosts, love, challenges, lessons learned, etc.

- It’s Funny – I will admit that I completely underestimated this movie in regards to its humor. It’s very witty. It’s not gut busting hilarious, but it’s a level of humor adults will enjoy (and appreciate).

- The Acting – Minus the British accents from Danes and Pfeiffer, the performances are interesting, keeping your attention and having you wanting to learn more about them. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more from England’s own Charlie Cox (look for him in “1939” also staring Bill Nighy and Julie Christie).

- The Soundtrack – It reminds me of “Pirates of the Caribbean” which is great because they both create an epic feel. The epic, tough, life altering journey for a movie’s hero.

- It’s Kinda Gross – I like that it doesn’t sugar coat or pan away some of the gruesome death sequences yet doesn't have blood squirting every where either.

- Robert De Niro - He's just a given, but I didn't want to post a review without mentioning him. I think you should rent this movie just to see Jake La Motta as you have never seen him before (hehe).


- There’s a Lot Going On – There are … (thinking…counting) 4, I think, stories going on. Nope, I think it's 5. And the main story, Tristan (Cox) trying to bring home a fallen star (Danes), gets very complicated (otherwise it would be a very short film, right?) and goes off on many tangents (a.k.a. adventures).

- The British Accents – Danes’ accent is distracting, but if you can put that out of your mind (and ears) the rest of her acting is great!

- A Little Predictable – I bet you can guess the ending if you haven’t seen the movie. Although I did get a little scared that the happily ever after wasn’t going to happen, but that quickly passed (as I had predicted).

Check out “Stardust” I bet you’d be surprised by the quality of this film. I regret not seeing it in the movie theater because the scenery and CG would have been enhanced by the theater’s technology. It’s funny and beautifully shot. It suites it’s running time and will leave you smiling. Just pretend that Claire Danes doesn’t have an accent and you have a grade “A” movie on your hands (or in your DVD player as it were).

What did you think of the movie? Did you see it in the theater? Danes’ accent, did it bug you as much as it did me?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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DVD Review – Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Is there a musician or band out there that’s really weird but that you and a few select friends really love? Have an ex that keeps playing games with you? Did you meet someone unexpectedly while out enjoying that weird musician/band at the same venue as the ex? If you answered “Yes” then you will definitely be able to relate to “Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.” If you liked Juno you’d probably like N & N – done in the same style and with some of the same cast. The perfect way to summarize this movie comes from critic Roger Ebert, “It sort of ambles along, with two nice people at the center of a human scavenger hunt.”


- Unique – N & N borrows some from other teen flicks, but it isn’t really cliché until the end. I admire movies I feel like I haven’t seen (even though I probably wouldn’t see it again).

- The Cast – the young actors that dash back and forth across the streets of NY are a talented young and promising group. Michael Cera – from Juno is loveable and funny without being outlandishly funny. Kat Dennings – who is fairly unknown is wonderful! She’s naturally quirky and nice. Ari Graynor – is HILARIOUS as the drunk friend, we will definitely being seeing more from her.

- The Cast As a Whole – The movie is full of well acted, semi non archetype characters that seem to be an accurate representative of the current youth.- The setting – Running around New York City at night looks like a lot of fun (and totally safe!). It’s a beautiful location and easy to see why so many films are shot there.


- It Drags – It’s slow. I did a couple of other things while watching the movie and didn’t miss anything.

- Michael Cera – He’s good, but I want to see him do something else before I deem him a reason to see a movie.

- Mom & Dad – Non-existent in the movie. No one gets a call from their folks wondering where there are all night. My parents would have at least wanted a check in if I was going to be out late.

- No Mystery – From the second we see Nick and Norah meet we don’t doubt these two will end up together. No mystery = a little predictable.

I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I’m picky about my teen movies because I feel like it’s difficult to make a good movie that really represents who teenagers are without perpetuating the usual characters, situations, etc. Plus it does have a fun sound track and you can’t beat NYC at night. N & N is fun, but a little slow, but creative too. Interesting mix just like the music.

Did you go out and buy the soundtrack after seeing this film? What did you think of the movie? Creative, cliché, boring?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
Read more!

Is the Economy Hurting Your Social Life?

I’m a twenty something, single participant in the U.S. economy. Recently, though, I find that due to the current times I am restricted in many aspects of life that shouldn’t have restrictions. I don’t know about you, but this recession is affecting my living situation (beyond foreclosures), my love life and the fun things I do to de-stress!

Living Situation - First I feel like I’m lucky because I don’t own a home right now. I recently moved out of my parent’s house. The only way I could afford this was because a friend cut me a good deal. That was a year ago and now rent is going up and I’d like to live on my own. But I can’t. Rent is a pretty penny and if it were just rent that cut into my bank account each month, I might be ok, but then there’s water, electric, cable, Internet, phone, etc. I think it’s crazy that I have a college degree and can’t afford my own apartment to rent.

Love life – Being 26 and single can be fun, but hard economic times do not inspire romance. I stopped my subscription to eHarmony (the $50 a month would be better spent on things like…food). My friends and I don’t go out as much which limits the opportunities to meet new people. I have been trying things like going to the local bookstore or café on a Friday or Saturday night, but they are deserted because no one is spending money on items like lattes and magazines. The gym is a no go too, because the cost just doesn’t work into my budget (and sweating doesn’t exactly put me in the mood for love).

Fun & De-stressing - I’ve recently discovered ATVing, but money has certainly flattened the tire on this hobby. Gas for the car, the ATV rentals (which are hard to find on the East Coast) so then there’s the hotel stay, food, etc, etc. Even simple activities like going to the movies. I LOVE the movies. Half my blog is about movies, but I’ve cut back because ticket prices have gone up and my paychecks haven’t.

One of the aspects of daily life that’s become more prevalent is the fact that it’s difficult to just go and buy something. Now there’s more planning and saving involved for things, simple things like say…a bike! Bikes aren’t the most expensive items in the world, but one has to plan and save to even consider putting a $100 down on a single item where as before I feel like it was easier to just go out, get a Schwinn and enjoy the day.

How has the economy impacted your daily life? Have you had to change or limit the things you do? Does it affect your social life, the things you do to de-stress? Any advice?

Thanks for reading!

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
Read more!


Movie Review – "Taken"

“Taken” staring Liam Neeson and his butt kicking skills, is everything the cliché, feel good, action flick should be - in a good way. The standard plot complete with the rescue of a lady (in this case Neeson’s character’s daughter), someone who doubts the rescuer’s abilities (in this case a cold ex wife remarried to a very wealthy man), bad guys to beat up and locations other than America for the action to take place. The plot’s a little unrealistic, the situations are some that normal folks would never end up in, but go see this movie if only for Neeson’s performance – his acting is natural and not cheesy and he kicks some real bad guy booty – it’s impressive!

Taken’s plot involves Neeson’s daughter being kidnapped while vacationing in Paris with a friend. Neeson plays an ex spy out to get her back no matter whose neck he needs to break. The journey brings audiences into a world of trafficking young women and some of the good people don’t make it out alive.

- Liam Neeson, Liam Neeson – He’s on screen for about 98% of the film and deservingly so. The man, 56 years old, takes what can typically be a very formulaic role similar to David Caruso on CSI Miami, and makes him a protective father desperate to reconnect with his daughter. Also, it is clear that Neeson trained for this movie. His fight scenes are worthy of any action film but age appropriate, which is nice.

-Ooh-la-la de Paris – Paris is beautiful (except for the parts with rundown streets full of prostitutes that are beaten for talking to non paying men).

-Time Constraints - It’s actually a decent length! At just about an hour and a half every minute is full and doesn’t drag.

-The Action - A pet peeve of mine in action movies happens when the bad guys shoot and miss their targets and the good guys never get shot. Well, Neeson gets shot, kicked, hit in the head with household stuff, punched, and other painful things.

-Maggie Grace – Not her acting, don’t get me wrong, the former Lost star is a lovely actress, however I think the 25 year old is too old to be playing 17 and it seems a little odd to see her dressed in costume like clothing to make her look younger. Again, her acting is good, but why couldn’t the daughter just be 21 or something?

-The Car Chase – There are a of couple car chases, but one in particular just seemed as if they taped it at about 30 miles an hour and speed up the film. Also, Neeson, who is driving, swerves in and out of A LOT of cars and doesn’t even nick a side mirror. Hmmm. Maybe the cars in Paris have amazing handling that American cars don’t.

Yeah maybe wait for “Taken” to come out on Blu-Ray to see it, but whatever you do, don’t miss it. Neeson is terrific (almost too good of an actor for his surroundings in the film – if that makes sense). Paris is beautiful and the action is what it should be for this genre.

What did you think of Neeson’s performance? Any pro’s or con’s to this movie?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
Read more!

Thyroid Cancer and Me Part 2 – RAI Treatment

RAI – Radioactive Iodine – treatment is a common way of treating Thyroid cancer and used after surgery to kill any left over thyroid tissue, which is what my situation is. I had a total thyroidectomy in November, but it wasn’t enough. I ended up needing the radiation treatment too. It wasn’t fun, but it was manageable. So, let’s start from the beginning.

About 2-3 weeks before taking the RAI pill, to prepare the body to make the most of the radioactive iodine, I am on a diet. This Low Iodine Diet is one of the most complicated diets out there. It restricts the intake of iodine which is found in salt (except non iodized salt), which is in EVERYTHING! And it restricts the intake of dairy. Grocery shopping takes 3 hours now because I stop and read every label and I mean this very literally. I’m used to hot pockets and pizza which I cannot have for 3 weeks. Luckily, I found 1 recipe that I really enjoy – a fajita recipe that I am going to eat a lot. I make my own salad dressing and pasta salad. (Try the Low Iodine Cookbook for here - http://www.thyca.org/Cookbook.pdf).

I’m a junk food-aholic. I love ice cream and chocolate – but it’s off limits. I am not a cook, and it’s difficult learning how to cook in such a short time frame (meaning tonight because I’m starving). One of the first challenges during the initial weekend on the diet is a catered engagement party and a bridal shower – both of which I can eat nothing. It is tempting and I complain a lot (thank you to my friends and family who put up with me!). And the bridal shower is embarrassing because I am the pale skinny quiet girl who isn’t eating the nice delicious food. Goodness knows what the girls (none of whom I know) think of me by the end of the afternoon. For someone who enjoys eating, this diet is torture. My energy level is dropping, my brain is getting foggy (I also stop taking my Thyroid hormone to force the body into hypothyroidism which is no fun at all). So the whole situation stinks and is difficult for others to understand.

On Monday, 5 days before I’m to take the radiation, I get blood work done. My doctor has to make sure my “levels” are low enough for the treatment. I’m not sure what levels he’s talking about, I just know I’ve tried my hardest not to have iodine, so I will be very very mad if my “levels” aren’t right. Plus, I’ve already filled out the medical leave paper work at my office to take the allotted time off for the RAI treatment and I’m not sure what to do if I have to reschedule. So I go to the lab in the morning and by the end of the day my Endocrinologist calls to tell me my levels are …(drum roll please) at the right level. Everything can go as planned.

Friday (the day of) I’m taking a half day at work. I arrive at the hospital to receive the radiation pill. There’s another girl here about my age and we talk. This is her second time doing the RAI, her thyroid cancer came back a little. The lab tech reassures me he doesn’t see many patients of my Endocrinologist come back a second time. The other woman wasn’t a patient of my doctor’s during her first RAI treatment, but now she is. Then I find out I am taking not one radioactive pill, but two. Yes two! When my Endocrinologist arrives the technician gets the other woman’s pill first. It’s in a weird lead space capsule thing and they put it in one of those plastic pill cups because it’s dangerous to touch with the hands, yet ok to be swallowed. I take both pills. My doctor warns there may be some nausea, my taste buds might go a little dead, and of possible swelling in the neck because the radiation comes through the saliva glands.

Oh! Did I mention that I’m in isolation for a week? Yep! Another huge chunk of time away from work and people – everyone – at least 6 feet at all times. But I get to do this at home and not in the hospital.

Once I take the pills I head home and call my folks to tell them I feel fine, which I do. I’m surprised. 24 hours later though I’m singing a different song. I feel awful. All I want to do is sleep. And that’s all I do – for 4 days. I sleep through the Superbowl. The only way I eat is when my poor mother comes over and makes me food. By Tuesday I’m also drinking Ensure, but that’s all I do because I just can’t do anything else. Monday I get my first scan. I’m exhausted. A shower wears me out and I fall asleep on the way to the hospital. Thank goodness my mom is driving. The scan takes forever and it’s a little scary. Parts of the scanner come very close to my face and stay there for about 20 minutes.

4 days later I finally feel alright to do some of the things I had planned for my time away from work. I planned a lot of tasks not knowing the radiation would wipe me out. No one prepared me for the complete exhaustion and sickness I would feel. But thankfully it’s over now and I re-arrange my closet.

Another odd side effect I’m discovering is that my taste buds are a little stunned or asleep or something. This is disappointing considering the bland diet I was just on. I was excited about the idea of being able to eat my favorite foods again only to find that I cannot fully taste their deliciousness. Finally on the last day of isolation I have another scan. This one is more annoying because I am not as tired and begin to get anxious.

Once the 7 days of isolation are over I clean everything, particularly the kitchen, which I share with a roommate. I used gloves to reduce contaminating things (even though my doctor said it was ok if I touched something and then my roommate touched it). I do a thorough cleaning then go out with a friend to celebrate. And that is the end of that.

I have a checkup at the beginning of April – 4 and ½ months after my surgery. So who knows what the future holds, but I will definitely update you all when I find out.

Thanks for reading.

Have you had to take the RAI treatment? Are you about to do it? On the Low Iodine Diet? Tell me your stories!

This post is dedicated to Maria a mom of 2 who is about to have her surgery and then receive the RAI treatment. Good luck my new friend and keep us posted!

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
Read more!