Friday, 30 January 2015

Film Friday: Wild

Plot Wild is the true story of Cheryl Strayed's journey across the US Pacific Crest Trail which stretches from the border of Mexico right up to Canada. Along the way she encounters creepy men, snow, extreme heat and a strange fox but it's nothing compared to what she went through before she began the journey.
Guest appearances Reese Witherspoon has now received an Oscar nomination for her role as Cheryl and Laura Dern is fantastic as her mother. Gaby Hoffman (Girls, Transparent) pops up as Cheryl's friend.
Fun facts Witherspoon dropped out of Big Eyes to do the movie.
Overall I really enjoyed Wild, there are a lot of flashbacks to sad moments in Cheryl's life so I was rooting for her all the way - but that backpack she set off with was way too big! I also enjoyed the soundtrack with Simon & Garfunkel and the Shangri Las.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

On conquering small fears

I have always been a shy person. My social anxieties were at their worst in secondary school when I'd sometimes go whole days without speaking to anyone (unless I had to) and would blush bright red when picked on in class. At college I was even nicknamed 'silent Laura'. But by the time I left home and started university I finally began to find my feet and open up more to new people.

Over the years my shyness has waned and I've realised that most people feel shy, they're just good at hiding it!

One thing that still gives me the fear though is speaking in front of large groups of people. So last month when I was asked to run a workshop on social media for a group of ten I began feeling a little out of my depth. What if I couldn't get through it? What if the group found it boring?! But I knew I shouldn't say no to something that could improve my skills so I agreed to it and did some preparation in the weeks leading up.

And it really wasn't so bad! The group were all lovely and although I was nervous, I got through it (tip: bring biscuits, they definitely help the learning process!). I even got an email the next day from some of them thanking me for running the session. Hurray!

The second (slightly smaller) scary thing I had on my list this week was trying out contact lenses. The first time I tried it, things didn't go so well. I had bumped into an ex boyfriend just before my appointment and was feeling a little on edge, so when the assistant attempted to put the contact into my eye I couldn't cope, and burst into tears! Almost ten years on I decided to give it another go, and this morning I actually put in the lenses all by myself, I was pretty chuffed.

In this TED talk, Dr Ivan Joseph talks about methods of boosting confidence. His first tip is to persist with things that seem scary. Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone will inevitably make you nervous but the more we put ourselves in those situations, the easier we find them. Tom is always telling me the same thing, that if something scares you, you should do it more! And he's right. Even if it's a small achievement it's still something to be proud of. 

Do you ever lack confidence, which then stops you from trying something new? Or have you recently tried something outside your comfort zone? 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Film Friday: Fruitvale Station

Plot: Fruitvale Station is based on true events that occurred on New Year's Eve 2008 when 22 year old Oscar Grant was tragically shot by a police officer after riding the subway home after celebrating the New Year with friends in San Francisco.
Guest appearances: Oscar is played brilliantly by Michael B Jordan, who some may recognise from series 1 of The Wire. Octavia Spencer plays his mother.
Watch this if you're a fan of... Boyz N the Hood, Do the Right Thing which also expose police brutality.
Overall: Fruitvale Station was an excellent film which builds to a distressing climax, which is very hard to take in.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Unusual Museums #3 - Isaac Newton's house

Now that Tom is working in the National Space Centre his love for science has propelled (ahem) and so today we found ourselves heading into the Lincolnshire countryside to visit Isaac Newton's birthplace in Woolsthorpe, near Grantham. It was a gorgeous clear frosty day, and we had fun visiting the little science museum, playing with prisms and visiting the famous orchard where Newton saw *that* apple fall in the 1666.

The first tour when we arrived was full so we booked on to the second, and had a wander round the farm before entering the house where Newton was born - before finding ourselves booted out as there was no 'free flow' allowed; you must be on a tour to enter - oops!

 Pink Floyd eat yr heart out...

You can't get all that close to THE tree but there she is!

We then went for a lovely walk across the fields nearby before heading for a Sunday lunch. A lovely (and thoroughly science filled) Sunday indeed!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Books lately: Actor Biogs

Lately I've been making my way through some actor autobiographies, including..

Coreyography by Corey Feldman

Corey Feldman stars in some of my favourite films, including Stand by Me, The Lost Boys and The Goonies. So when I saw he'd written a biography (with a ridiculous title) it went straight on my wishlist! This book is admittedly trashy; there's a lot of name-dropping and some of the stories seem a little hard to swallow. But it's a funny and interesting read. The book is no holds barred and Corey spares no detail about his friendship with Michael Jackson, Corey Haim and a host of other 80s actors. A guilty pleasure.

Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg

I picked this book up mainly because I'm a huge fan of Spaced, the brilliant late 90s comedy series which Pegg co-wrote with Jessica Stevenson (nee Hynes). The book as a whole was well written but I have to admit I had to 'skip to the end' of quite a few chapters, as there wasn't quite enough Spaced tales in there to keep me amused.

As You Wish (Inconceivable tales from the making of The Princess Bride) by Cary Elwes

Saving the best 'til last, my brother gave me a signed copy of Cary Elwes' new book for Christmas. As You Wish details the process of making one of my favourite films, The Princess Bride. Although Elwes can be slightly gushing at times, the book is a warm and funny memoir, which includes some funny Andre the Giant anecdotes, quotes from the rest of the cast and the challenge of learning to fence for the 'greatest swordfight in Modern Times'. It made me want to watch The Princess Bride all over again.

Have you read any good biographies lately? I'd love to hear some recommendations - next on my list is Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Film Friday: Big Eyes

Plot: In Tim Burton's Big Eyes, Amy Adams plays painter Margaret Keane whose (rather scary!) pictures of wide eyed waif-like children became super popular in the 1960s - unfortunately her husband Walter took all of the credit for them.
Guest appearances: Jason Schwartzman is funny as the snide gallery owner across the road who looks down on Keane's paintings as very low-brow...(and er, who could blame him?)
Watch this if you're a fan of... This film wasn't overly 'Burton-esque' - (which was a good thing for me as I had got rather sick of seeing Helena Bonham Carter & Johnny Depp dominate his work!) but has been called his best film since Ed Wood.
Overall: I really enjoyed Big Eyes - even if I can't quite make my mind up about Amy Adams, she was very strong as the lead. Christoph Waltz provided a lot of funny moments. The film did make me wonder how Keane let the charade play out for SO long though!

PS I have started a goal of seeing one new film a week this year. I'm doing well so far... (I work in a cinema, so it should be easy right?!) We'll see how I do!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Film Friday: Birdman

Plot: Michael Keaton plays a faded movie star who used to star as superhero 'Birdman' and is now trying to make it on Broadway. He directs and stars in an adaptation of a Raymond Carver story and enlists Edward Norton to star alongside him..
Guest appearances: Zach Galafinakis is great as his stressed out producer and I really enjoyed the scenes with Emma Stone who plays Keaton's daughter.
Watch this if you're a fan of... Mulholland Drive sprang to my mind during one scene... but this film is quite unique so there's not many comparable stories I can think of!
Overall: Birdman was an odd one! It was beautifully shot and had a lot of funny moments. Keaton and Norton were excellent; it was great to see Norton playing a darker role again. But some aspects of the story didn't quite work for me. Let me know what you made of Birdman!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

January lately

Happy new year all! How have you spent your first days of 2015? Here's a few things I've been up to so far...

- Went a lovely walk around Newstead Abbey (and giggled at the swans trying to skate across the icy pond!)
- Went a photo-walk through The Park today and captured some images of the frost
- Warmed up over a hot chocolate in the lovely Sobar (the East Midlands' first alcohol-free bar and cafe - all profits go towards a drug & alcohol recovery charity)
- Had a pizza & Poltergeist evening with friends
- Discovered a cool new vintage furniture & poster shop near Nottingham castle

Some goals for January:
- Take a photo a day for Sarah's brilliant Two Days the Same blog
- Save money when possible (as we could be moving soon... we are still waiting to hear back)
- Sell some things we don't need on eBay
- Start drawing again
- Learn more about pivot tables in Excel (!)
- Continue with yoga
- Plan another blogger meet up
- Walk more, read more and worry less!

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